Diseased Ruminations on TFG

So far today we’ve had snow, rain, clouds, fog and now? Now — and for the rest of the day — we will enjoy the inexorable wind of the apocalyptic spring, otherwise known as business as usual in the San Luis Valley.

After making progress yesterday against the evil aliens who’ve invaded my corpus mortale, I was forced to endure a fierce counter-attack throughout the night. I’ve awakened today a humbled human, ready to bow to the sinister whims of my microbial overlords.

I thought a lot yesterday — against my will, but it’s apparently what the overlords wanted — about TFG and his (preemptive?) announcement that he was going to be arrested yesterday. I decided (the delusions of a mind that had gone viral?) he’s not stupid. He’s very smart. Possibly a genius. Not a stable genius, but a genius. Perhaps an evil genius. He KNOWS how to get the lights shining on him and how to get money from his minions. It also seemed to me that by doing what he did, he might have made it very difficult for the slow wheels of justice to move forward at all. I posted my theory in response to Heather Cox Richardson’s post last night and got an argument from others among her followers. “That’s debatable,” said one. No, it isn’t. Evil is not stupidity. Delete.

Then I realized; many people do not believe evil exists. Many people equate goodness with intelligence. I know evil exists, and some evil people are brighter than other evil people and brighter than many good people. The Evil X was a Trump-like character — a master manipulator — who could tell me (and others, like his daughters) things that were absolutely not true and still be believed. It was a real (surreal?) education for me to come to grips with that. I don’t think I did come to grips with it except on an intellectual level. Ultimately I had to let my brain tell me what to do because my heart wasn’t having it; not that I cared for him at all at the end, but because a good-hearted person won’t — and shouldn’t! — expect evil. That would turn that good-hearted person into a paranoiac and that’s no good.

If there’s one thing in our world right now that’s not unpredictable, it’s TFG.


Yesterday — in probably fevered “thinking” — I decided that as soon as I’m well, I’ll go to Alamosa and rent a car Bear would jump in so we could go to the Refuge.

Random Stuff from a Recovering Brain

Love it. Embiggen. Why not? Also appreciate the idea of the Simpsons.

Hanging out here with the plague, humor is a blessing. Back in the day there were a couple of pages in the monthly Readers Digest titled, “Laugher is the Best Medicine.” I agree. It’s right up there with loving dogs, kind friends, the sun in the sky, snow when you want it. Laugher definitely has some healing power.

I’ve been thinking lately I need to embiggen my circle of friends, but I don’t know how to do that. It’s a little difficult in a community where the people around you embrace radically different politics “Let’s Go Brandon!” The other thing is — and Elizabeth and I were talking about it last week — the people in our demographic aren’t young and one-by-one they are taking that lonely walk. It’s a lot like graduating high school and going back east for college… But not. We just looked at each other and urged the other to hang on.

“I am,” she said with her usual ferocity.

“Me too,” I said, with my usual ferocity. Short women are very fierce, and we’re both 5’1″.

Things on the plague front are looking up, but slowly. At least this morning I didn’t throw up my smoothie, I drank some of it.

The dogs have been great carers and I am grateful for them. I built myself a little “If I pile up these pillows I might be able to sleep AND breathe! O! The Wonder!” and stretched out on the sofa with the Magic Tiger Blanket. Pretty soon both dogs came in from outside and found spots on the floor close to me. The cool thing from this is from all the coughing I have abs of steel. You’ll notice, also, that my whining is making the transition from pure whining to ironic rueful whining, definitely a good sign.

I woke up this morning wondering if TFG really WILL get arrested today and indicted for paying hush money to a hooker. I thought about that ruefully, enjoying the irony. Considering the likelihood that he’s committed crimes that put the nation in danger never mind what has been essentially a life of crime as a piss ass mafioso, to get nailed for, uh, nailing a prostitute? That’s fun. Seriously.

I guess the thing with this cold isn’t the cold, it’s having recently finally — after six months — escaping the claws of long covid, to get a cold? It’s insulting. I cannot remember another time in my life when I looked forward to spring’s softer (somewhat) weather. I have a feeling I might even enjoy gardening this year. That’s not a promise, but it’s been a long winter.

Not the Best Post I’ve Ever Written

“It’s going to go isn’t it, Martha.”
“I’m afraid so, Bear.”

And here we are on the first day of spring unless you’re in Australia when spring started on March 1. I was up in the golden dawn because well, I’m still sick, and it’s easier to breathe when I’m standing or sitting than when I’m lying in bed. I’m sure you don’t want to read a post about my being sick, but it’s all I got. It’s amazing how everything surrenders to whatever our body is doing, and there’s no arguing with it. It’s pretty impressive. “This isn’t going to be fun, Martha, but I gotta’ do what I gotta’ do. Hang on.”

I do wish, though, at times like this I’d found a spouse or had had kids. Not normally, but right now? If I need to go to the doc or someone to take care of the dogs? Who is that person? THAT is the boundary of self-reliance. Of course, there’s no guarantee that spouse or kid would step up for that. It’s even pretty selfish to think like that. OH well.

Sleep comes hard, food is disgusting, but the little voice says, “There’s nothing you can do about this.” Yesterday I went to bed for a nap, and the next thing I knew a furry, dirty, loving, black, white and tan little guy had curled up against my back. ❤️

I went to the store yesterday morning because there were things I really needed, and I could see this wasn’t going to get better any time soon.

Oh well. I made a smoothie this morning and immediately threw it up. The coffee seems to be going down OK but then, it’s medicine.

I remember staying home sick from school when I was a kid. I got to — get this! — watch afternoon movies. They were oldies from the 30s with lots of dancing and all in black and white (everything was black and white). Immense, gorgeous stages with steps and women in feathered gowns and sequined shoes. I’m pretty sure if I turned on a TV (don’t have one) this afternoon, it wouldn’t be that.

Thank you for your patience. 💙

Viral rhinitis

Today I’m holding a memorial for my health which went away a couple of days ago leaving me a shell of the woman I once was, oh, say a week ago. I haven’t (except for Covid last summer) been sick in a long time (yay social distancing and isolation). Coughing is strenuous exercise, too, and a chest cold with asthma at 7000 feet? Good grief. Don’t even. Yeah, I’m whining. Sorry.

It’s funny how our bodies work. Thursday? Friday? Whatever day it snowed — the result of a sudden temperature drop from 60 F to 15 F — I took Bear to the golf course. Anyway, it was miserable and wet, unusual for this place. I’d already shoveled a few inches of very wet, cementlike snow. As Bear and I wandered around, my down jacket got soaked. Bear got soaked. It was more raincoat weather than down jacket weather. The next day, out with Teddy, was differently miserable, the road was slushy and muddy but the light subtle and lovely. SO MANY PEOPLE!! It felt like a bad dream and I even yelled at Teddy which I never do!

But it’s a known fact that weather doesn’t make people sick; viruses and bacteria make people sick. But it feels like the weather did it.

So yesterday I broke into my rather large stash of expired Covid tests and found four that were not expired. The directions for this one were as inscrutable as a medieval book on alchemy, but I did it and learned, “Nope, not this time, sweet cheeks.” Good, I guess, but not having Covid doesn’t mean a person’s not sick.

Anyhoo, as lots of strange thoughts swirl around in my brain, I have to remind myself, “Martha, you’re sick. Martha, you’re probably a little oxygen deprived.”


Random Stuff

Teddy and I headed out to the Big Empty yesterday. Still a lot of people here looking at cranes. Teddy and I dealt with probably 20 cars even though it wasn’t an especially nice day. I put a good face on it, but a few of them are pretty inconsiderate and treat that holy place and its avatars like commodities. I don’t really understand them, but there they are. A guy with a huge lifted Dodge truck parked and left the driver door open blocking the way. He had a huge lens on his camera and it was all about the photograph for him. I guess it’s not for me to judge. Still, I couldn’t help but think that the cranes might have liked the spring of 2021 more than this spring. I know I saw much more of them that year and, while it might not be true, it seemed that the cranes were more relaxed. I can’t imagine they like all the traffic, either.

But Teddy was a good boy and, as far as we were concerned, a good time was had by both. A few cranes flew high above us, and many, many Canada geese. There is a pair of geese who’ve taken up occupancy on top of a muskrat house and right now, they are my favorites. They are always together and every time I see them, one is curled up with its head tucked in its feathers and the other is standing tall, the lord of all he/she surveys from about 18 inches above the water. The road is showing wear and tear from the recent traffic and where it was once a nice, smooth gravel road, it’s gone washboard.

“The great lessons from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred. To be looking everywhere for miracles is a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous. ~ Abraham H. Maslow, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences

I think maybe the past few years might have turned me into a bit of a misanthrope…

I did something yesterday I have not done since I moved here and “decorated.” I took down a painting and hung a new one. I’ve painted a lot in the past several years, but nothing I wanted to hang, even though I love most of the work I’ve done. A couple paintings hang in the spare room, but that’s essentially storage. The snow painting is on the living room wall now where I can see it. I picked the frame because it is the color of the other plants growing out there, greasewood. The design cut into the white is evocative of greasewood in snow. There is no greasewood (Chico) in my painting, but it was there. I’d like to hang the big crane painting but someone would need to drill some holes and sink some mollies for that to happen. The Big Crane Painting is on my paintings page. 🙂

Otherwise, I’ve caught a cold — the first one in years. I don’t feel like a sturdy oak tree, and the timing couldn’t be worse, well, probably it could be worse, but this is pretty bad. OH well…

Top o’ the Mornin’! ☘️

It’s finally happened. I’m OVER winter. Done, finished. It’s a sadistic whore, and I’m not playing any more. 3 inches over night. Whoopdeeedo. “Too little too late, Sweet Cheeks,” I said to it as I looked out the window and you know what IT said?

“It’s not about you,” said the snow on the lilac bushes.

The nerve…

Still, after our not–all–that–great saunter at the golf course yesterday, Bear was a happy dog.

“It’s about Bear,” said the snow on the deck.

“Shut up snow.”

“Yeah? Well YOU shut up. I challenge you to find something quieter than I am,” said all the snow everywhere.

I was half-hoping yesterday we’d at least see the tracks of some ungulates, but no luck. It would have been difficult, though, since we were out there while the snow was falling AND melting. I am not sure Bear found tracks with her nose, but she may have. She’s very quiet about her discoveries.

In St. Patrick’s Day news, yesterday I was cleaning out emails and I found a treasure. Back in the day, my cousin Linda set up my Aunt Jo and Uncle Hank with a computer and an aol account. They wanted to use it, but the learning curve was steep. When I went to Montana for Christmas in 2000, I spent a lot of time teaching them because, 1) that was part of my job in CA and 2) it snowed all the time.

They got pretty OK using it. The typing was the hardest part, and they both knew that it was just going to take practice. Sitting at a computer wasn’t really their style, but they tried. I got into emailing them once a week and sometimes they answered with a letter. Sometimes they emailed me back, but not often. ☘️

> Date: Saturday, March 17, 2001, 10:11 AM
> Dear Martha Ann,
>      Time to let you know that we are
> still around. Jo has has been a bit 
> under the 
> weather lately.  I took her to the doctor yesterday
> hope that gets her going 
> again.
> We both wanted to wish you a Happy St Patricks day.
>      I finialy got around to building a
> table for my kitchen table top. 
> didn”t turn out to badly. will use it on the  patio
> that is if  we should 
> ever again have warmer weather.
>      Your aunt Martha is doing okay
> about the same. Your Aunt Jo isn:t as 
> fiesty as usual but says she still likes you and will check
> with you later.
>     Hank

When I was a little girl I lived with Uncle Hank and Aunt Jo for four months. Sometimes I’d get in trouble, and I would think they didn’t love me any more. My Aunt Jo figured that out and after she lectured or punished me she’d always say, “I still like you, Martha Ann” and she would hug me. It became our code for “I love you.” ☘️

The featured photo is St. Gall and the Bear. St. Gall is the patron saint of Switzerland. He was an Irishman who came across the channel with St. Columbanus. I first learned of him from How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill. I expected How the Irish Saved Civilization to be a satire but it turned out to be legit history that set me on a life-changing course of discovery.

Oh, and as for me? Ancestry has recently let me know that my folks came from central Tipperary during “the starvin'”. I knew when; I didn’t know where so that was cool. My great granddad worked on ships in the Great Lakes where he met my French Canadian great-grandma from whom I inherited a droopy left eye. I can’t find their photos but here’s my dad looking like a Leprechaun. He got the droopy eye, too. In color he had black hair, a red beard and snow-shadow blue eyes. ☘️

Can’t Say it was Fun, but My Dog is Happy

“There are a lot of interesting smells here, Martha.”
“Wasted on me, Bear.”

Wind came up, the snow is wet, I’m soaked, Bear’s soaked, but I think she’s happy. It’s hard to imagine how this place — the Monte Vista 9 Hole Golf Course — was once our Big Empty. Thankfully, no loose dogs anywhere. Thanks, Covid, for driving me out to the Refuge.

Quotedium Update 17.5.2a.vii

Any tide pools and chitons here in the remote and land-locked Bark of Beyond are in fossil beds — and they are there. Most of Colorado was once a sea and mountains like these only happen through acts of extreme terrestrial violence. Tide pools are sometimes found on mountain tops.

I’m coming to an end of the book judging. Yesterday I happened on two more remarkable books, and one category is going to have two winners. The category is large, and the submissions are wildly varied. It’s a wonderful contest that allows this to happen. I have to write reviews for the winners. I tend to write full-on NYT type reviews. I’m trying NOT to do that. Reviews like that can be welcome but also overkill. I’ve had a few for my own books. Some are splendid, but others made me say to myself, “Good grief. Write your own book!”

As I drifted off to sleep last night I wondered what avid-reader little Martha Ann would have thought if she knew she was going to grow up to read professionally. That’s been my lot in life whether it’s a pile of basic composition papers or this job.

It’s snowing. What a sick joke since Bear can’t (won’t?) get in the car. It’s also quite warm so the snow is heavy. There is no wind (what????) and the snow is coming straight down. For some perverse reason, Bear is in the house. I will be so glad when my car is fixed, and Bear and I can again do our thing. Meanwhile the world is silent and soft. My daffodils are up and the crocus is blooming. This is what everything in my poorly tended garden needs besides me doing a little work out there. ❄️

“And Those of You Possessed by Devils, Try to Keep it Under Control a Bit.”

I’m not a winner — well, I did win a couple of things. I won a canned ham in a supermarket drawing back when I was a kid, and a few years back I won first place for a short story in the contest/publication of the Friends of the Alamosa Library. Oh wait, I used to win foot races a LOT. 400 meters, 400 meter hurdles, 100 yard dash, 200 yard dash, 600 meters.

Later on, I learned the dual nature of winning. There’s winning and there’s personal victory. It was easy for me to run 400 meters. (“Yay! I won!”) It was very difficult for me to stand up in front of people and speak. (“Wow. I didn’t die!”) I never got first place, but those second place trophies? Somehow those were bigger wins for me personally than any of the blue ribbons for running.

Judging books I find myself in the strange place of determining winners in several categories. There is one book that is so strange and important that it’s difficult to know what to do with it, and it’s made me consider the whole question of “diversity.”

It’s not just a matter of sexual identity/preference/gender or skin color. There is the question of the human mind. I’m pretty sure that as a result of biology, socialization and education there is a “normal.” Within “normal” is a whole range of weirdness, but convention tends to keep that under control a bit. Some people are not “normal” and among those people are people with mood “disorders” — bipolar and depressive, two large categories that encompass a big rainbow of “different” minds.

This book is a collection of poems and essay-like things written through and out of a person emerging from a depressive crisis.

As I read, I was, at first going “WTF???” but then as I slid into it I got it.

I have had one major depressive crisis (and a few minor blips along the way), and I know what that is. I also know what it looks like, feels like, to emerge. I remember the day when I found myself again able to DO something in and with my life — and that was the dishes! It was an amazing, transcendent, moment where the sun was again shining and the very air shimmered with life. Yep.

This author wrote IT not about it. A lot of people write AFTERWARD looking back having had the chance to fence in the experience and translate it to “normal,” a “This is what it felt like and what I did.” This little book isn’t that. It isn’t “raw” “gritty” or depressing. Far from it, but it’s not “normal” either.

As I read through it, I wept, partly because of what the author had clearly experienced and partly because I knew the experience.

I also remembered what it was like for me to re-emerge, return to work (teaching at the international school). The dangerous nightmare of major depression was nothing compared to seeing my colleagues move away from me in the hallway as I went to my classroom. One of them said, sotto voce, “Lazarus.” That was hurtful and informative. After 13 years of doing good work for/at that school, I could see that, pretty soon, I’d have to find another job.

I have never really written about it because I don’t see how. Others have, after the fact, using description and analogies from outside the actual reality of it. Kaye Redfield-Jamison has written well about it, and in a very factual and useful way, but she doesn’t write the experience itself. This little book is IN the experience. It’s so sincere and hopeful and filled with wonderment.

Luckily for me, as a judge, I can do something with this book for its writer who will never know who I am or why or what or anything, but I will be able to answer this message in a bottle.

The title is from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Sadly the clip is not up anywhere but this one is fun. 😀 Featured photo: Me with my second place in state trophy for original oratory my senior year in high school with three of my schoolmates.