What is happening?

I try, and for the most part succeed, in writing things here that will not upset the casual reader. I had a topic picked out to write about that would offend nobody. But I can’t post it now. There are elephants in the room, in this country, that needs to be addressed.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. Here in Indiana the governor has decided that things are improving, so he is allowing businesses to open up slowly. This is despite the fact that cases and deaths continue to increase. I admit that I have taken advantage of some of the loosening. Cindy and I went to a partially reopened restaurant on our wedding anniversary, and I shopped in a partially reopened bookstore. I don’t believe I did anything to spread the virus, but I suppose time will tell. Other parts of the country that are reopening quicker are experiencing increased cases and deaths. It feels like we are sacrificing lives for the sake of commerce. I’m waiting to hear an explanation of the economic benefits derived from unneeded deaths. I am sure it will be a fascinating discussion.

But that is not the only terrible thing that is happening in this country. On May 25th, George Floyd, a man of color, was cruelly murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He was aided and abetted by three other police officers. As of this writing, only one of these men has been arrested, though all four have been fired. I am sure you have seen the pictures, if not the video, of Mr. Floyd lying handcuffed on the ground, on his stomach, as the police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck until minutes after Mr. Floyd stopped breathing. 

In the aftermath of the killing, there have been demonstrations, peaceful and otherwise. The demonstrations have taken place not only in Minneapolis, but all over the country and all over the world. Mr. Floyd is the symbol for the unrest, but, of course, his was only the most recent death. People are also remembering the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many others. To many others.

Prejudice, racism, and bigotry are all present around the world, including the U.S.A. We just seem to be more in denial and more tolerant of it. Witness our President and the party he leads. If you are like me, you know many people who believe they are not prejudiced, racist, or bigoted. And yet their actions and their words belie their protestations. 

I have been surprised at some of the people I know who are arguing that we never hear about black people killing white people. Really? Do you never watch or read the news? I have heard it argued that police kill more white people than black people. That is true, by a few hundred. But what they don’t follow up with is that white people outnumber blacks by around 6 to 1. So per capita, black are killed at a much greater rate than whites. Are white police representational of the entire country, or are they, as a group, more prejudiced, racist, and bigoted? I don’t know. I am just an observer.

Finally I am more worried now for our country than since Richard Nixon was our President. Donald Trump has all of Nixon’s faults along with his own failings. At least Nixon was intelligent, could speak in complete sentences, and had the decency to resign when he was caught out. I fear where we are as a country, and where we are headed.

Maybe I will return to bland posts after this.

Thought streaming

A graveyard

This another photo that I took last month when I was driving around Linden. I really need to go out and get some new shots. Perhaps I’ll do that this afternoon.


I started this post with one definite idea that I wanted to state. But my mind wandered and my thoughts started drifting. I think that there is something of a logical sequence, but I may be wrong. I leave it to you. Oh, and I hope I don’t offend anyone…too much.


I was reading a short story last night, and in it there was a reference to people out for an evening jog. This story was published in the 1990’s, and it occurred to me that running and jogging was more than a passing fad. I guess that until there is definite scientific proof that taking a nap is better for your health than strenuous activity, I shall forever be clucked at sympathetically by those who bow at the altar of physical fitness.

Save your sympathy. I don’t need it; neither do I want it. Another thing that I don’t want is spending money on special shoes and clothing. I’m old and often grumpy and cheap. I am not going to wear a spandex track suit or sweat pants. Sweat pants are probably the ugliest fashion statement perpetuated upon the public. Not even a supermodel or leading man actor can make them look good.

I don’t feel that I am overly vain, but I refuse to be seen in public or, even in the privacy of my home, wearing them. Plus, I think they are uncomfortable. “What?” you say. “You don’t think looking and being slovenly is comfortable?” Well, maybe slovenly is a bit of a stretch. I’ll narrow that to just looking slovenly. Does that satisfy you?

I suppose I have been a tad too nasty today.I am sorry. I’ll try to end on an upbeat thought. May the unicorn in your garden fertilize your tomato plants.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Days 9 through 14

Taken on a morning walk
Taken on a morning walk

As I said in my post about Day 8, I made no notes about our week in Las Vegas; and my memory of that week is jumbled (to say the least) and fuzzy. So I am doing just one short post about that entire week. I’m afraid that will have to suffice.

I did manage to get up each morning and go for a walk. Mornings before the heat became unbearable were the best part of the day as far as the weather was concerned. Spending time with friends and family, not talking about what was happening in our house was the truly best part of each day. It was tough getting through an hour or two without a phone call or a text or an email about our house.

So during the week on the insurance front there was:

  1. No return phone call from our insurance agent.
  2. An insurance adjuster called and said that our Gold Star (that’s their name for it) policy would only cover $5,000 dollars of damage.
  3. We were told that if we found evidence of a broken valve somewhere we could file a separate claim for more coverage, but at that point the insurance company would drop us.
  4. The insurance adjuster told us that we should stop trying to contact our agent because she would not be returning our calls.
  5. That is when I decided that when this is over I shall be writing a scathing letter to our agent and the president of the company telling them what I think of their so-called customer service. They won’t be winning me back with a mass produced Happy Thanksgiving Day card.

There may have been other insurance developments, but those are the ones that stick in my mind and in my craw.

On the happier side, we were able to spend a lot of time with Lee, Michelle and Wyatt. I think we celebrated Wyatt’s birthday three times that week. One of the celebrations was at a pool at our timeshare. At that rate, Wyatt is going to grow up to be like his Grandma Cindy who celebrates a birthmonth rather than a birthday.

One night Cindy cooked dinner at Lee and Michelle’s home. Mary brought along a bottle of wine. I didn’t know that Lancers was still available. Mary seemed to think that it was an excellent vintage. She also enjoyed Cindy’s and Michelle’s selections. Mary once again tried to prove that in vino veritas is a constant. I was glad on the drive back to the timeshare that we kept the paper towels in the car.

We usually take in at least one show when we’re in Vegas, but this time we didn’t make it. We attempted to see a play, but it was sold out. So, we went to the movies twice. First we saw Sully, in which Tom Hanks put in another fine performance. Later in the week we saw Hell or High Water. I hadn’t heard anything about that movie, but I really enjoyed it. Cindy and Lee expressed displeasure at the lack of a concrete ending, though Cindy later changed her mind. I liked the open-ended conclusion.

Mary and George left on Friday so they could get home to spend time with Mary’s son who was on leave from the army. We drove them to the airport and bid them farewell.

That’s about all I remember from Monday though Saturday of that week.

I despair

The Black Hills, October 2015
Cray Horse Monument, October 2015

Here is a picture of the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota. It is not yet completed. In fact, I believe we were told that it will be decades before t is complete. There is no government funding for this monument. It is all paid for through donations.


I’m pretty sure that I have written about this before, but I have to say again that between “reality” television and social media sites such as Facebook, we have become a nation of worriers and haters. I have been thinking about this for some time now, and frankly it is depressing me. Let me briefly explain; and by briefly I mean that I won’t go into the history of how it started and where it has been. I almost started there, but didn’t want to cause a snooze fest.

When was the last time you saw a normal person on a “reality” television show? Are your friends like the Housewives or the Survivors? If so, why are they your friends? No, those people on the shows are schemers and mean-spirited people who want to be famous. And yet they and their actions are glorified every week. They give us a false sense of worth and claim that it is reality. Some people think that it is reality rather than a distorted reflection in a muddy puddle. And  having that belief they expect no better of themselves, their families, and society. It is a low bar to rise above.

We allow people on the Internet to comment, often anonymously, usually disparagingly on everything. We see this nastiness spill out almost everywhere. It is particularly bad in letters to on-line newspapers and Facebook. Why did this type of behavior become acceptable?

And now we have it in Presidential politics. In the past we had politicians who disliked each other, and told you at length why they thought so little of each other. But it seems to me that they tried to cover that dislike with a veneer of gentility. We may have known that it was not true, but putting up that facade was a decent attempt to maintain a civilized approach to life. And now civility has flown.

On top of that, they try to instill fear in our society and build upon that fear to sew intolerance. And it is all to glorify themselves and to bring power to themselves.

What does it say about our society when we raise up the crude and the hate mongers? I despair.

An Oxpecker pecks again

Back yard devastation
Back yard devastation

I took this picture through a dirty second story window. I did my best to clean up the picture, but I’m not sure that it is a good enough job. Read on to see what it is all about.

Because Cindy felt that there was too much shade on the pool (just to the left of the picture), she set one of her oxpeckers the task of alleviating that supposed problem. He hasn’t finished yet, but this is his progress as of around noon today. I had to force myself to look out of one of our windows to take this picture. I’ve closed all possible curtains and blinds to keep from seeing the devastation to the trees.

It doesn’t help me that we are experiencing a power outage as I write these words using a pen and paper (what a concept!). I’m destroying my hearing by using my MP3 player at top volume to shut out the sound of the chainsaw. I’m also hoping that the music will help lighten my mood. The first song is helping, It’s the Moody Blues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wDHvmCVRxU. At least the tempo is helping. The lyrics are kind of a downer.

OK, the next song by Lou Rawls is definitely a downer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phpaq7E_Xs4. It fits my mood, but I was really hoping for something happier. I may need to rethink having the player on a random shuffle setting.

The damned MP3 player is conspiring to lock me into a foul mood. Even Linda Ronstadt is in on it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfMNnZL-YuM. At least my mood isn’t bad because of a failed romance. Those days are thankfully far in the past.

Two hours later and the power is back on. According to the power company, the problem was about a block from our house. If there had been power lines near our back yard I know who I would have blamed. I guess that I’ve got the rant out of my system, but it will be some time before I can bear to go into the yard, or even set on our shade free deck.

What’s on my mind this morning


After what seemed like weeks, the recalcitrant daffodils decided to poke their heads above ground level on Sunday. It was a welcome sight. I’ve been searching for green things for quite a while now, and only finding pine trees. Yesterday, Monday, we got a bit of snow in the afternoon. While it was only a trace, it seemed like some cruel joke.


I have another medical appointment today, but it won’t involve the old “bleed and pee,” because it is with my ophthalmologist. Today I’ll be going in, getting my eyes dilated, having pictures taken of the interior of my eyes, and getting a reading from the Doctor. I am hoping that the AMD has remained stable. At some point between the checkups, each time, I have a day or two of worry because vision seems blurry in one eye or the other, but it passes. I have been aware of the AMD for about three years now, and after the first two treatments (injections into the eye) there have been no real problems. I don’t expect that there will be any bad news today.


This morning the Germanwings Airbus crash occurred in France. This is very sad news. Each time something like this happens I realize that families and friends will be mourning the people that they love. I never have the right words to say.

I am becoming irritated with the “news people” who are trying to report on the crash with very little information. I gave up on actually listening to them after about fifteen minutes as they scrambled to find something “new” to say about the crash. Rather than say that there was nothing more to report at that moment, and promise to come back when there were substantiated facts, they continued to repeat the few things they knew as if it was something new. They called people on the telephone who were supposed to be experts asked them to speculate on what might have happened. To the credit of the people called, they would not speculate. The last straw for me was when they called an”expert” who was obviously reading from the same sheet of paper that the news reader was using. Is air time so hard to fill that they have to resort to these ploys?

Another sign of aging?

Another winter day
Another winter day

When I took this picture I was thinking, “Glad I don’t have to clear the snow from his driveway!” But I do envy the solitude the farmer must be able to savor.


There is one thing that I have grown to dislike more as I get older. Well, there may be more than one thing, but today I feel a need to complain about women who curse in public. By public I mean in the company of people who aren’t immediate family members, or who are very close friends, or who are in a public area. Pretty much anytime they aren’t muttering to themselves under their breath. Usually I just cringe and try to get away from it, but more and more often it is happening everywhere.

Lest you think that I am a sexist pig, or just sexist, or just a pig, I also dislike it when men curse in public. I suppose I am just more used to hearing it from men. I used to be one…a public curser that is; I am still a man. I just stopped heavy-duty cursing a long time back. I had developed my cursing style in college and honed it while in the Army. It was a few months after I was released from active duty when I realized that I didn’t need to curse. There was no reason to be lace my language with scatological terminology or with references to carnal knowledge. So I stopped. I will still utter an occasional “Damn!” or other one word, non-F-bomb exclamations, but only when I’m frustrated and alone or with Cindy.

But I didn’t call you here today to tell you about my sterling character or to complain about other men. It is to show you how stodgy I have become. If you have heard the expression “the coarsening of society” and utter a curse, you should have stopped reading this post a paragraph or two earlier. If you are a woman and have heard people say that something that you have said was unladylike, and you answered with a curse, turn away, sister. (And don’t get me started on how a grammar check tries to get me to use the word “woman” rather than “lady.”) If you believe that cursing makes men and women equal, get over it; the battle for equality in law will take more than a butch attitude.

One of Cindy’s friends was playing cards in our home a few weeks ago. I had ventured out of my room to come into the kitchen when I heard her using the carnal knowledge word in a joke. All of the women laughed and I remained silent. Then another of the friends saw me and joked about the fact that I didn’t like the use of that word. The first friend then declaimed on how she loved to use the word…but she didn’t say why she loved it. It was half an explanation at best. I remained silent because I need to think things through before I comment. I wonder if I had asked her why she loved using the word, if she would have a coherent thoughtful answer?

My thought is that too often women and men use curses as filler, instead of “Uh,” or similar monosyllabic non-meaningful space holders. Or, they may use curses for shock effect. They use them so often that shock no longer exists, just the coarseness. I have read some women who feel that cursing expresses the rage that they feel. Really? There is no other way to express rage?

This is the part where some women, if they have read this far, will be saying that I haven’t experienced what they have in life. That is correct. I haven’t had men treat me like dung. I haven’t been paid less for doing more. I haven’t had a partner leave me for a newer model. I haven’t had my sexuality questioned because I didn’t live up to the expectations of someone else.

I feel that cursing is the lowest common denominator, and that both women and men should aspire to more than that.

Or, as Dennis Miller has always said, “Of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

My mistake & a rant

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods

I haven’t taken any pictures lately, except for the puppy in yesterday’s post, and a picture that I will be using in next week’s Monochrome Madness. So, for today, I went through some pictures that I took many years ago with my Minolta 35 mm camera that was loaded with Kodachrome film. This is a picture from The Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The sky was a brilliant blue that contrasted to the red tinged rocks. So, of course, I scanned the photo and then grayscaled the image. I like the way it turned out, though the original color photo is one of my favorites.

I had planned to submit this image for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness, but I got busy doing other things and forgot to send to Leanne. Oh, well. I know that I’ve said it before, but Leanne’s website is well worth your time if you enjoy looking at fine photographs.


When I got up this morning and turned the television on to watch my normal news and commentary station, I was treated to a BREAKING NEWS story that had evidently been breaking at that point for thirteen hours. It was a slow break. It was also, evidently, the only news worth covering because the story went on for around forty-five minutes, including pauses for commercials, before I became so disgusted that I turned the TV off.

Of course I’m talking about the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia. I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of that situation, but I do believe that the coverage that I was watching was over the top. For me, it began when I noticed that the female co-host of the program was speaking with a voice that was pitched about a half octave lower than normal, speaking with a deliberate, authoritative emphasis.

At one point she interviewed, by telephone, a woman who was in Sydney, and who described how everything was quiet and empty within the area cordoned off by the police, but outside that area traffic was normal and people were going about their normal business. After that interview they broke for commercials, but not before the female co-host teased their return with words along the lines of “When we come back, more from the panic filled city!”

At another point in the broadcast she paused in her Sydney coverage to allow another newsreader to bring in a story about a hostage situation in Belgium. He ended his story with a statement from the police in Belgium saying that it appeared to be a domestic issue, not related what was happening in Sydney. With that, our intrepid co-host shrugged that story off as only being domestic. It gave the impression that the lives of people being threatened by someone other than a terrorist aren’t as important.

It’s good that I waited a few hours before starting this post, because if I had started it earlier, I might have written things that I would later regret. As it stands now, the situation has ended. Despite all of the speculation that was floated on TV this morning, it seems unlikely that this situation was larger than one man who was doing this on his own.

Allow me to bore you

Lazy cat
Lazy cat

I will give this cat credit. It was laying just outside of our property line, and so was safe from my lawn mower. This feline is one of the two that I have seen on our roof.


Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was true landmark legislation in the U.S. I was in high school when President Johnson signed it into law. And the law’s influence is still being felt in the country in so many positive ways.

So, of course, most of the morning TV shows led with the story of the U.S.’s loss in the World Cup yesterday. It is to weep.

When they did get around to discussing the Civil Rights Act, briefly, on Morning Joe this morning, one of the talking heads was asked if in today’s political climate in Washington, D.C. the Civil Rights Act could be passed, his answer was the nuanced, “No.” And he is right. Nothing of any import can get done at the Federal level anymore. While most people blame warring political philosophies, I blame politicians who think only of reelection.

Elected officials, especially in the House of Representatives, are on a continuous reelection campaign. It is an amazing week if they spend four days in Washington, rather than in their district campaigning. They don’t want to take a stand and actually vote on anything that might cause them to lose a vote or two. So, stagnation. And it has been going on for a long time. Over 90% of House members were reelected in 2012, while only 10% of the public thought they are doing a good job.

And that caused me to think of T.S. Eliot. I vaguely remembered reading one of his essays from then 1940’s when I was in grad school. In it, I thought I remembered his declaration that a language that doesn’t change is a dead language. Does it then follow that a congress that doesn’t change is a dead congress?

I pulled out my copy of On Poetry And Poets by Eliot (yes, I still have my copy from grad school). I wanted to make sure that I was remembering what I had first read decades ago was right. Well, I was wrong, Oh, you could draw the conclusion I made about language from what he wrote in his essay The Social Function of Poetry. In fact the Professor who taught my class may have interpreted it that way in a lecture. But when I read the essay again this morning, after so many years, I found that my memory was dim and that Eliot was saying so much more about poetry and the need that we have for poets. It doesn’t matter so much what their point of view might be, but it does matter that they have a point of view and that they are willing to share it. At least, that’s my take on the essay this morning. It might change tomorrow after more reflection.

So that’s how I went from contemplating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to today’s political grovellers to T.S. Eliot’s reflections on poetry and poets. And I haven’t had breakfast yet.

Addendum: If you can find a copy of the essay The Social Function of Poetry I urge you to read it. If I had waited another day to write yesterday’s post, I would have quoted from the essay, because there is a paragraph that speaks to my minor rant.

A minor rant

The corn is growing
The corn is growing

I finally got back to the corn field the other day. The first picture I took of this field appeared in my post on June 9th. As you can see, the crop is up and doing well. You can also probably tell that rain is imminent. Here in the U.S. we always say that the crop will be good if the corn is knee-high on the Fourth of July. It isn’t the fourth yet, and the corn is more than head high…unless you are very tall. I’ll be going back to check on the corn at least twice more this year. I think this is better than watching paint dry.


I follow less than two dozen blogs. I seldom see only one post and then start following the blog. I normally read a number of posts first. I try to choose carefully, and tend to select blogs that are challenging, or are very visual, or are funny. Those are the things that I look for. With one or two exceptions I also choose blogs where vulgarity is an exception rather than a rule. It’s just my choice. The older I get (or perhaps, the more mature I become), the less enchanting I find the use of crude language.

So I was surprised the other day when a comment to a post in one of my favorite blogs included a word that describes the scat of a male bovine. How indelicate, thought I. Why would you choose that word over “bushwa?” Both terms have two syllables, so they can be said equally quickly. And “bushwa” has fewer character strokes, so it can be keyboarded faster. Was the other word used for shock purposes only?

Perhaps English was not the writer’s native language. A smaller vocabulary might result in word usage picked up from watching American and British movies or listening to some songs. But that’s just speculation on my part.

I have no complaint with the original blog, I still look forward to future posts. The comment’s language was an aberration, so I feel secure that my sensibilities won’t be trod upon in the future. I just felt that I wanted to discuss the matter. Little things mean a lot.

Addendum: I know I sound like a goody-two-shoes in the above. I’ll admit that I curse occasionally, but I don’t do it for public display. When I curse I am alone, or occasionally, with Cindy. There are always other words that can be used, unless you want to cause offense.