All You Need is Love…And a Cat…..

My NDN (Next Door Neighbor) found this little plaque and SG’d (Surprise Gifted) me with it. It now occupies the eye-level shelf on my desk. So I won’t forget. As if I could take Cat for granted. As I type today’s blog, the swelling in my finger is finally coming down a bit. And the blood under the skin appears to finally be dispersing. And the tiny dot marking ground zero where Cat claw landed is becoming less noticeable.

NDN makes periodic remarks in reference to at least 2-3 Cat scratches per arm per week average. She gloats because she owns a dog. Cute puppy that doesn’t bite/scratch/bat shit yowl at the night time sky. But her puppy doesn’t purr. NDN doesn’t realize that Cat is not constantly attacking me. He just has oversized claws. And because he is a Bengal cat it is illegal to declaw him. I wouldn’t any way. Cuz things are not more important than a fur friend that loves you in spite of all your faults.

Like this afternoon when I accidentally dropped a quarter roll and scored a direct hit in the middle of Cat’s back. Yes, I felt like a monster. Yes, he got whatever he wanted to eat for lunch. No, I wasn’t trying to get evensies for the claw in my finger.

The sweet little lady at the Veterinarian’s office, who trims animal claws and assured me she could easily give the leopard a claw trim, came running out of the room after claw one with sweet pleasant speech replaced by something resembling nearly legible cursing. I guess I had forgotten to mention to her that Cat’s last visit, in which he needed to have some blood drawn, required 5 (five, cinco, ) vet assistants to try and hold Cat down. They failed and finally had to tranq him.

Grandson is the only one for whom Cat will sit still and allow his claws to be guillotined. And Grandson is in the Pacific Northwest on vacation from his truck driving job. Just in time for orange skies and smoke without the campfire. My hair is quickly converting to gray.

I also didn’t mention to NDN the quarter roll incident, nor a few days prior when I accidentally stepped on Cat’s paw, nor the tail incident. Better you don’t know: plausible deniability. In case Grandson asks. In all fairness however Cat persists in walking between my legs when I have an armful of chores limiting my downward vision. I did catch him yowling once when my foot came near his paw. He only got away with that one twice.

In all fairness, wherever I curl up for a nap or night, when I wake up Cat is entangled in my legs, holding my feet and ankles down. Pinning me with the blanket. You would be surprised how heavy a 16 pound cat can be when strategically placed across your ankles. The numerous claw entry points on my legs is the logic for sleeping with at least two thick blankets/coverlets even on the hottest days.

In the overall picture, Cat has saved me two times and we saved his life once. But that was two of us saving him so that kinda equals the equation. He has his cranky/bully days where he tries to sucker me into two or three lunches, ten minutes apart. I have my DumbAsAStick days when I accidentally lock him in the pantry or the bedroom closet.

Relationships are like that. What fun would it be if we just had gushy love day after day?

Have you hugged your fur lover today?

2020: The Year of Choosing…

When I hear someone say they have no choice, I get hot spit at the back of my throat. Because there is no such thing as not having a choice. Not having a choice translates to no choice exists. We may not always like the choices available to us, but there are always choices, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Like wonderfully tasting food, healthy nourishing food of diverse tastes, the stuff your dog wouldn’t eat if he was starving.

Like the upcoming election to choose the leader for our country. And, no, I’m not going to discuss politics or candidates. Because in any race there is always a winner and a loser. Not voting is also a choice. And writing in your dog’s name for president won’t count.

Cat has been trying to persuade me to write in his name. His argument is that cats are smarter than humans. Considering we cater to their digestive whims, choice of litter, who gets the middle of the bed, etc., smartness is difficult to argue with a cat. They will have their way come Dante’s Inferno or Noah’s Flood.

So let’s pretend the Presidential Race was between a dog and a cat. The dog would bark incessantly, at anyone, at anything, at any time. i.e.: for anything and nothing. And in the end, it’s just barking. Humans who insist cats cannot talk have probably never owned a cat. Cats do not meow at each other after kitten stage. They hiss, spit, growl, yowl, purr but do not meow. They only meow at humans. Why is that?

Cat has a morning voice: very low and bordering cranky when he first wakes from a long nap. His questions regarding breakfast, lunch, dinner are in a higher, clearer, persistent range. His requests for opening a window, a new toy, some catnip, encompass his entire musical range.

The other day I picked some grass out of the yard for him because apparently stores don’t sell living kitty greens anymore. His immediate oratory could be compared to the hurrahs after a favorite football team scores the winning touchdown. He was literally excited and screaming. And later that evening he cuddled up next to me and purred. PURRED. And all this time we thought he couldn’t purr. Because he is not a huge kitty cat. He is a small leopard.

And you can ask anyone who has or ever has had a Bengal kitty if they talk, they might be able to answer you after they recover from their laughing fit. Because you can’t shut a Bengal kitty up. Like your first child when they were learning to talk. And figured out that talking was connected to attention, food, treats, hugs, etc. All of which behaviors could be related to what Presidential candidates are willing to do to get your support.

So all the snarling and growling on social media is an entertaining way of people expressing their choices. For some unknown reason, the angrier they get, the more they remind me of a three year old thinking that throwing a tantrum will get them what they want. While the rest of the grownups in the countries of the world are clicking their tongues and musing that they once thought it would be neat to live in America.

And then there are the riots. Not talking peaceful protests here. Talking about Ghetto Christmas shopping. They destroy store fronts so they can hot cap off with their Christmas lists. And before anyone even thinks of dishing me defecation over my opinion of this, consider that I lived in East LA during the first Watts Riot. And I get it. Living in poverty sucks. But even that boils down to choice.

Seldom is a straight and narrow road filled with adventure. You can quote me on this one. Not saying that straight and narrow is necessarily a bad thing. But while the Biblical reference infers virtue, the common thought is that straight and narrow is restrictive as far as understanding the wide range of human choices for oneself.

And anyone who tries to convince us that a god who is smart enough to create the universe down to the tiniest microscopic creature would be narrow enough to only invite white male humans to breakfast with him, I suggest that perception is severely impaired. ALL lives matter. And if we don’t get our dung together in an appropriate time constraint, we may not have a functioning world to come home to in 2021.

Have you hugged your opponent today?

12 Words for Nuvanya

Most people claim to not like a person who cheats. Even cheats don’t really approve of their own actions much of the time. But ironically most everyone wants to win. Whatever the game. Luck. Love. Life. What is it about we Homo Sap saps that we don’t like to lose? Is there any human culture in which losers are honored as heroes? Not counting the loss of life in a heroic manner. Which is the opposite of losing, in spite of losing one’s life. Still with me?

Losing isn’t always a bad thing. Losing weight when we want to is a good thing. Losing one’s hair is typically not a good thing unless it’s excess hair or armpit hair or feminine leg hair. I think we can agree that losing isn’t black&white negative. Context is a game changer. So is concentration of loss. Like losing a penny is not serious but losing $100 could bring serious grief. Especially if that’s all you have left this month for groceries. And you have a cat that is a serious eater.

Probably most of us would agree that cheating at a game is not acceptable. Unless the purpose of cheating is to share fun with other players. Which could be a complicated path to trip along. Also the motive behind cheating is a thick defining statement. As in sometimes cheating is a learning tool. And sometimes it’s just plain cheating only for the benefit of the cheater.

To clarify an example, my ex couldn’t tolerate losing any kind of game, contest, situation which he translated as a loss. Because he had an inferiority complex which he attributed to his father strapping him when any of his younger brothers or sister got out of line.

It was a kind of old school tradition to keep the younger kids in line so the father could take care of the important matters. Like making decisions for the family. Clearing the land for farming. Working hard labor to pay the rent and food bills. Drinking heavily because they couldn’t measure up to their father’s unreachable standards.

Around the 1920’s, 100 years ago now, farming families had moved en masse to cities because of industrialization. Whereas farm life was labor intensive and depended mainly on demand, city jobs earned paychecks all year round. Although children could help with some of the physical labor on a farm, they could bring home at least a small income from a city factory.

City life became a new ballgame. And by the time farm-to-city folk began to suffer from overcrowding, slum conditions, job layoffs, factory smog and poor working conditions, it was too late to go back to the farm. So what does all this have to do with cheating?

Living off the land forces one to be honest. One can lie to the crops until the imagination falls out but crops will only grow under their own conditions. They require moisture, rich soil, sunshine, etc. No one yet has found a valid argument that will win over green growing things.

Dumb machines, however, can be manipulated into looking more successful than they really are. A tired factory worker can find ways to “sleep on the job” but sooner or later will be discovered and let go to find another job. Of which there were many in the industrial cities of the early 1900s. This saw the beginning of mass manipulation of the system which has evolved into contemporary cheating. aka: ” justified creativity for survival”.

While there is no fast and ready solution for this dilemma, we can only speculate where this path will lead humanity in the future. The true problem, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars but in our contemporary mind set. It has been speculated that if all the wealth in the world was equally distributed among all global residents that hunger and poverty would cease to exist.

Hope began in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, who initiated the Giving Pledge, now includes over 168 wealthy  billionaires who have promised to give away at least half of their vast wealth to philanthropic causes such as poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girl’s empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform and environmental sustainability. ibid]  

In spite of hiccups in the concept of billionaires giving away half their money, the seed has been planted that will hopefully find healthy growing conditions in the future of humankind. Hope exists eternal. Squirreling back to the title of this blog, on a local level, I am stuck with the letters Nuvanya in Words with Friends which only yields 12 possible words, none of which fit into the Scrabble-like board in spite of my utilizing the cheat site. Because I have forgotten how to spell all the words I can’t remember. Because I am still getting trounced in spite of cheating. Because I can’t really justify cheating to hang on to comradeship in spite of the Covid quarantine.

Have you hugged your cheater today? Because in spite of the despicable habit, even cheaters need hugs.

The Cloud Killers

For those who really want to know, we Homo Sapiens sapiens are now in the Anthropocene age. i.e.: “noting or pertaining to a proposed epoch of the Quarternary Period, occurring in the present time, since mid-20th century, when human activity began to effect significant environmental consequences, specifically on ecosystems and climate.” How’s that for a Sunday morning mouthful?

Unlike the non-effective spray cleaners we buy at the supermarket with which to clean our kitchens, Nuclear residue stays effective for a long, long, long time. Since I lack the scientific knowledge to explain how the fluffy white things making funny pictures in the sky are affected by nuclear intervention, suffice it to say that radiation residue makes the Sky Fluffers impotent when it comes to sprinkling the land below with rain.

What that all boils down to is that, according to the excellent series Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything, a documentary TV series with host Latif Nasser, now on Netflix, has an excellent discussion on what happens to clouds when we create floating nuclear waste. And said N-waste lasts a long, long, long time. Talk about the irony.

We created bombs in the 1940’s to stop THE war and to get even for Pearl Harbor. (How is killing civilians equivalent to “winning” a war?) Now the residue, 75 years later, may bring about the Apocalypse we have dreaded for so long. And here we thought we were the brightest monkeys on the planet.

My conclusion after watching the final episode in this series is that we Sap saps are a bunch of stumbling, bumbling wackos attempting to kill the planet on which we survive. That requires a special kind of stupid. But we can rejoice knowing that we didn’t know then what we know now so that gets us off the hook. Sort of but not really.

Debates over the fidelity of nuking two Japanese cities (and firebombing a third) will probably continue into the next century. So that the decendants of the Decision Makers will still be trying to justify bombing a nation that had already surrendered previous to September 2, 1945. Because they know that the surrender was not accepted until after the City Killers had exacted revenge for Pearl Harbor.

Revenge on everyday citizens that had nothing to do with the War and most of whom did not want war. That is kind of like a fly landing in the middle of a freshly made cheese cake, which we now throw in the garbage, and then spray our entire neighborhood with nerve gas to get even with the fly population. In case you missed the snide remark: we have doomed ourselves along with those we thought with which to get even. SKOS. Special Kind Of Stupid.

But our War Mongers did more than jump into The First WORLD War because they believed it was patriotic to help our Allies, Great Britain, France, Russia (ironically) against the bad guys. OK, the Central Powers were the bad guys. Or at least their leaders were. But like most human wars, only the leaders are passionate about smashing their opponents into mud pies. And it is the innocent civilians that pay for the war with their lives.

So what did the Cloud Killers do? They played target practice with Nukem Bombs. Because they had to test the destroyer effectiveness of the bombs. For 51 years after the war. The last of the detonations (that we know of) was 1996. By the time we all signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the damage to our planet had already been done. And we are just now beginning to notice the work of Ms. Karma.

So, simple math, even for the SKOS (pronounced skohz), zero rain (the obvious) equals no way to grow crops because rain is what offers refills to rivers. The Cloud family then become ghosts, if you will, by reducing the wonderful cloud fill that covers the earth and protects her from the overbearing heat of the, wait-for-it, sun. As in you think it’s hot outside now in summer…? AKA: global warming. The teenage epoch that many seem to think is a passing phase of the sky gods.

The questions we should be posing are: 1) How can we fix this? 2) When have we reached the point of no return? 3) Why are all the wealthy families investing in ride tickets to space stations? 4) Should we of the poorer classes be investing in digging underground cities? 5) Are gophers the preferred pets of the future?

Life isn’t about not making mistakes. It’s about learning the lessons from the mistakes.

Have you hugged your gopher today?

What is the Nobler Question?

The true measure of intelligence lies in paradigms in which we choose to indulge. By indulge, I mean to deceive ourselves that victory is assumed. Take Butternut squash, for example. How difficult could it be to chop it up into neat little squares?

That is like asking oneself how difficult could it be to pick up a cute little kitty and kiss it’s fuzzy little ears. Anyone who has ever had a feline fur friend knows they are sublime war machines awaiting their next victim. And no mama cat said ever, “Be gentle with your human, Honey.” Although some kitties have figured out that being gentle with humans rings the dinner bell more often than 2 am batshit fits.

In my eagerness to try a new vegan casserole recipe, my misinformed optimism bought 2, two, dos, deux Butternut squash. I also then drove all over town to find a casserole dish that wouldn’t require monthly payments resembling my rent.

Then of course there were all the other ingredients such as spices which I rarely use. And still don’t because I don’t do chili, paprika, or anything else guaranteed to take my tongue out of commission for at least a week. So I settled for a little salt and cinnamon.

In my entire lifetime I have only purchased one SHARP knife, which was part of a very expensive knife set. And of course I only used one knife. And it didn’t last the “lifetime” it was guaranteed to last. Maybe because I sometimes used it to cut wood pieces for my hobbies at the time.

So when I discovered vicious looking knives at the Dollar Store, I began the habit of buying one new SHARP knife each month. Which was about how long they stayed sharp. I also purchased a heavy mallet, which years later is still going strong and turned out to be the most useful kitchen gadget yet. Especially when it comes to opening tight lids.

What I presumed would be a 10-15 minute job of dissecting the first B-squash into neat little squares turned out to be forty-five minutes of trying to hammer the knife through Fort Knox Squash. Which resulted in pre-Haloween shaped chunks of the toughest lil squash this side of Texas. I did show a modicum of intelligence by electing to bake the second squash whole.

As I reflect on the Battle of the Butternut, I noticed some similarities with the ongoing lifescale scenario. Like how relatively easy it is to reflect on the “Good Old Days” of our parents, grandparents, and greats. They didn’t argue with rock shelled squashes. They kept their knives (and hatchets) sharp enough to split a human hair.

They didn’t have a surgically clean oven with all the fluffs like “preheat” with a little alarm that told one when the oven was now the exactly correct temperature. They cooked on stoves with ovens that you had to set on fire (with wood in the stove bellies) and guess as to when the food might be worth the battle to take out of the oven without burning oneself.

And they fought diseases like the Spanish flu without penicillin or other antibiotics. And pain killers were sodium salicylate with acetyl chloride powder, the eventual basis of aspirin. Or a chug of whiskey for serious pain. And people died from sticking themselves with a contaminated sewing needle or a self destructing appendix.

Have we condemned ourselves by forgetting the past? And have we become such fluffy ding dongs that wearing a mask to prevent passing along a contagious deadly disease is somehow a sign of weakness? Try a real test of woman/manhood: go chop a Butternut squash into neat little squares without using a chainsaw.

Have you hugged your neat modern little kitchen today?

The Salad War…

It all began simply, like many wars, with an idea. And like many wars, the idea was based on the virtues of ennoblement.

To begin with, I live in a “retirement” manor which is limited to over 60 except for handicapped persons. Sadly, some of the handicapped people in our building ride wheel chairs but walk perfectly when they think no one is looking. Or have other “impairments” which are equally invisible. No judgement here, just describing the lay of the land. The idea behind the manor is to provide low cost housing to the elderly, which is an admirable idea. Especially since all of my savings went to help my daughter in her fight against cancer. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Many of my fellow residents are visibly dependent on walker chairs, which means they can walk but only with assistance. And many others suffer from aches and pains that refuse to improve with drugs, therapy, etc. I have a torn rotator cuff which prohibits me from repetitive work, and a despicable spine that chooses to pop out at the most inopportune times. Trying to find work was difficult before the Covid. I therefore devoted myself to artwork and writing. Not expecting to become a millionaire. Just have a place to sleep and eat.

Therefore, when The Salads began, it became possible for all the residents to have access to better foods which they could not afford ordinarily. The key to this program came from a weekly donation from a well known healthy food store. Upper class. Expensive carrots. With no charge to the residents.

As one of the mostly able bodied, I volunteered to help hand out the freebies. Which come to us from an Angel who picks up the edibles and delivers them in a pickup to our front door. Then two of us carry the food inside, sort, toss any rottens that have crept in, lay the food out so we can determine how much to hand out to each individual so everyone gets a fair share, even at the back of the line. This procedure has worked admirably until this last week. When the community room developed a leak in the ceiling thereby prohibiting us from using it until the collapsing ceiling is repaired.

So. Where to put the groceries? While my companion and I debated the possibilities, we realized most of the better legumes were already gone. Residents had waited outside for the truck, swamped it, helped themselves to as much as they wanted without restriction. So. By the time we hauled the boxes of food inside, a lot of what was left was garbage can material. And those who had waited patiently inside had little to choose from.

My first self-imposed question was how had the people waiting outside known about the community room being closed when I only found out just before the Delivering Angel arrived? My second selfi was why did they grab all the food like a Hoard of Hungry Hellions with no regard for their fellow residents? And then, of course, there were the Insiders who criticized the despicable condition of the remaining food, an indirect criticism of my companion and I. Which criticism wasn’t worth spending brain pennies on.

While I am at a loss as to how to organize any future deliveries, I resigned from the task. Which doesn’t help the situation. But my reasoning was sound: I am a Woose. I allowed people to raid the truck because I was caught in the To Feed or Not To Feed dilemma. If those raiding the truck were truly that hungry, what right did I have to impede their thievery? I did not own nor provide the food. And if I attempted judgement of who was really malnourished, I would violate my own principles.

A person who is noticeably overweight is very likely to be malnourished, especially those living along the borderline of poverty. I think we can all agree that sugar is at once addicting yet satisfies immediate hunger. It is an addictive drug in the deeper sense of the word. Remarkably, many foods today are loaded with the despicable substance, often containing not natural sugars. Natural sugars are those occurring naturally in fruits (fructose) and milk (lactose) and the Stevia Leaf for example.

In the manor in which I reside, we get the free veggies, fruits, some sweets, and from a different source once a month or so we get a long table full of donuts and other confections. We seriously don’t need the sugar shacks but hungry people will devour them on a 3 to 1 basis against the raw vegetables. Thus, in our manor many of the residents qualify as overweight. So why did they attack the vegetable Angel’s wares? 1) Because some of the wares are sugar snacks, 2) Because some of the packages are dishes loaded with sugar, 3) some of the attackers were cooks who are capable of making meals with the vegetables, and 4) because the food was free.

So what is the Divine Answer to our poverty/hunger Dilemma? This is not just a local issue, it is a global issue because we are all now global citizens. My suggestions:

  • Turn grassy lawns into vegetable gardens, free for the picking. Think of the expense of maintaining a green show area over planting some seeds.
  • Begin teaching nourishment early in school with hands on experience, especially for those children who have no access to workable kitchens and foods they can afford. And for heavens sake keep school cafeteria foods healthy!
  • Separate our trash into “clean” garbage and create “clean” compost. Local garbage dumps can help facilitate this on a local level. Create incentives for citizens that recycle.
  • Education. Education. Education.
  • Stop ridiculing people who are overweight. Think about how you would feel if you only had access to food that made you fat but was your major source of nourishment.

We as a planet have tried hatred that can only end in wars and that has not yet worked for the good of all anywhere in history.

Let’s give Intelligent Love a try.

Babbling Bloody Bombs…

“No Bullets Fly”

tonic – noun

  • A medicine that invigorates or strengthens: a tonic of sulphur and molasses.
  • Anything invigorating physically, mentally, or morally: His cheerful greeting was a real tonic.

Sabatonic – Morally uplifting songs from the metal band Sabaton. If you are:

  • 1) not a metal fan
  • 2) not into morally uplifting melodic tonics
  • 3) a prisoner in your own world lacking new concepts

Do not visit without a Millennium guide.

I was not a metal band fan until Grandson grabbed my attention and forced me to listen to Sabaton’s “No Bullets Fly”. I am still not a metals fan but I am now one HUGE fan of SABATON. They write and sing about wars. Based on real history, their songs are not fake news. I was so moved by No Bullets Fly that I painted the above painting as a gift to Grandson for being persistent in moving me out of my slug cell. And, yes, even our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren can teach us things if we open our minds.

No Bullets Fly is the story of Heroism in WWII. Charlie Brown was the captain of a B-17 bomber who dropped his payload over Germany before taking crippling fire from German fighters. In spite of his plane and crew being nearly completely disabled, Charlie refused to give up and headed the torn plane back towards Britain. He still had to fly over the German coastline where a heavy German artillery strip waited to destroy Allied planes.

Charlie finally noticed a plane flying beside him, German pilot, Franz Stigler, in a Messerschmidt fighter fully armed. But Stigler did not open fire on the crippled B-17. Instead, he continued to fly beside Charlie’s plane, escorting it safely past the coastal German artillery before saluting then heading back over Germany.

Many years later both men met and became friends. And the song, No Bullets Fly, tells the story of truth and heroism: Not all Americans hated Germans, not all Germans hated Americans.

SQUIRREL: On a personal level, during WWII my sister-in-law, still a young girl in Japan, looked out of her top window and saw the approach of an American plane. She froze in fear, thinking the pilot would surely shoot her. Instead he turned his plane away. Truth and Heroism: Not all Americans hated the Japanese, not all the Japanese hated Americans.

Any idiot can babble hatred, drop bombs, start conflicts between neighbors, cities, countries. True valor is settling one’s differences without war. Sun Tao, Master of Warfare, wrote in The Art of War that the best war was the one not fought. So why are we, in this contemporary age of reason, logic, global awareness, still warring with each other? Is there anyone out there who still believes we are fighting for peace? Isn’t that an oxymoron???

Our Military persons, both home and abroad, have my deepest respect for laying their lives out there to defend the principles of freedom. The Military leaders, who engage in war for monetary reasons, will earn no respect from me nor my friends ever.

In the meantime, I have the greatest respect for Sabaton, who in their own way point out the horror of war: The indescribable loss of our children on the altar of financial gain for the few.

Have you hugged your Sabatonics today?

Winning the Lottery…

There was a time when I purchased a Lotto/Mega/YouNameIt ticket every time I went to the store. Any store that sold the BigBuckTickets. Because, like many others, I figured winning a few million dollars would make me happy. Because then I could buy all the things I wanted. Go anywhere I wanted to go. Have lots of new friends, because the old relationships were wearing out/moving away/dying. I even made up mental lists of what I would do with all that money in the bank.

Then one day my very mathematically gifted Son figured out the odds of winning the lottery. i.e.: how many tickets I would have to buy in order to be guaranteed to win one million dollars. He calculated it would take at least twenty million dollars to buy all the possible number combinations to win one million dollars. Screeching halt.

That was the last day I ever bought a lottery ticky. Instead, I began to play a mental game in which I looked for things that would make me happy. So then all I had to do was acquire those things (way more affordable than buying $20 million dollars worth of tickets in one setting. Because if I could save up enough money to buy that many tickets, why would I need to win the lottery?

So I made a list of things I would like to acquire and began acquiring them. First burst reality bubble was losing most of my “things” several times when I moved, when I ran out of money to keep acquiring “things”, when my living space got too small to hold all the “things”, when the “things” wore out/no longer fit in with my decorating themes/didn’t bring me the happiness I had thought they would.

After several years of continuing to think “things” would make me successful, happy, I finally concluded the only people my spending habits brought happiness to were the businesses that made a profit from my lack of monetary self control.

By the time I realized that which really brought me happiness, I woke up. Like the song: “These are a few of my favorite things…” simple, inexpensive things connected to events, people, memories, made me happy. So I began making a list of the happy paradigms and assigning a hypothetical price to them. Like fuzzy baby kittens, $100. Beautiful sunsets, $300. Strikingly beautiful trees and flowers in full bloom, $500. I kept tab, more or less, over the years and figured I must be getting pretty close to that one million dollars. This morning brought the big win.

Arriving back at the Manor with a cart full of groceries, I said hello to several of the ladies sitting outside, in the shade, chatting. One of them pointed out to watch my feet because there was a baby bird in the grass next to the sidewalk. It had fallen out of the nest in a branch high above it. The lady pointing it out said several times she wished she had a way to rescue the fallen critter. But the tree limb was too high for her to reach.

I volunteered that I had a ladder. Would she like me to go get it? Big affirmative. I carted my groceries upstairs and retrieved the ladder. When I arrived back downstairs I began having doubts that even with the ladder and a long cane I had brought with it, that we could reach the nest.

It took us about 15 minutes to set up the ladder so it was level and reliably steady. She went to get fresh gloves so we wouldn’t imprint the baby with our human smell. I was in the process of volunteering to go up the ladder when I realized she was already at the top. With the cane she pulled the branch far enough down to where she would be able to reach it. While the Daddy and Mommy birds shrieked around her head trying to drive my friend away from the nest.

While she held the branch with the cane, I gently picked up baby, noting it was pumping its feathers from breathing fast. I used my Cat-approved voice for gently talking to it while I lifted it up to my friend. She gently grabbed the baby while I quickly grabbed the cane and held down the branch. And voilá Baby Tweet was placed back in the nest. Friend mentioned there was another baby already in the nest, which was probably why Daddy and Mommy were dive bombing her.

She climbed down and I got the ladder away from the tree as quickly as I could so the parent birds could calm down and check on their offspring. Friend and I slapped gloved palms, thanked each other, headed off to other missions.

When I got back to my apartment I suddenly realized my ever-present back ache had disappeared for the time it took to rescue Baby Tweet. Or it just stopped being the center of my attention for a short while. Cat wanted to smell my hands under the gloves and gave me several kisses. I wasn’t sure why but didn’t want to question such a marvelous occurrence.

It was when I felt how warm and glowing I felt inside that I realized this was it: I had won the Lottery. One million mental dollars worth. And I wouldn’t have to worry about the feeling wearing out, getting old, not fitting in with my mental decor. Because, for a short while no Covid existed, no politics weighed me down, and I suddenly didn’t feel isolated any more.

To WhomEver is Up There listening, I am grateful for the lesson.

Have you hugged your mental earnings today?

The Right Hand of God…

Before I head out to the shopping arena I look in the mirror at my forehead. To make sure that sign that periodically appears is not visible. The sign that states I want to be converted to Someone Else’s opinion/religion/belief system. The sign apparently is an open invitation for some individuals to alight in front of me, begin their verbal explanation of life, follow me when I attempt to walk away. It is almost as if they are compelled by their subconscious desire to convert me to their belief system or risk the wrath of their supreme being.

With a Master’s Degree as a trained Cultural Anthropologist, I like to think of myself as a female adherent to Josh Gates, of Expedition Unknown fame, whose degree is in Archeology. Traveling the world on often perilous missions to find answers to such questions as: Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart, the real value in Gates’ Expeditions is that of exposing his tv following to the inner components of various cultures around the world.

Not unsimilar to Anthony Bourdain’s once known Parts Unknown adventures into foods, aka cultures, all over the world. Of course I lack the world traveling adventure aspect of these two brave explorers. But I have lived long enough to witness the gradual change in our contemporary society.

Outspoken and sometimes mannerless, Bourdain’s philosophy was based on  Get to know the locals on a deeper level. His work humanized the “other.” Not unlike Josh Gates, he taught his audience that being foreign didn’t mean being scary. [1] But while destination unknown foods consumption with Andrew Zimmern certainly held viewers captive with his willingness to commit edible suicide, looking into global cultures was not so much apparent. Still, it was a peek into how other cultures make use of their native foods.

The sad part is that some cultures do not fare well in nourishment because of lack of potable water and productive dirt. And sometimes because their once native vegetation is being sacrificed to produce more profits for large corporations. It only takes a few generations to lose touch with how one’s ancestors lived off the land. Consider our pioneer farmers from the days of the conestoga wagon which brought them to new places to create new farms.

How many of us could go live on a virgin piece of land and not immediately starve? Because what do we eat, besides killing off all the native animals, while we are waiting for our new gardens to grow into edibles? And how many city folk nowadays recognize the difference between an herb that cures and a plant that poisons? Our forefathers and mothers didn’t have access to the internet to find out if a plant was friend or foe. Nor readily available medical attention if we guessed wrong.

Further, in many cases Native American tribes helped us survive before we decided they were no longer allowed to be stewards of the land they had managed successfully for hundreds, maybe even a thousand years because they were “ignorant savages”? Yet the ignorant savages survived without hospitals, grocery stores, internet for a really long time before we “educated” Europeans moved in without asking.

The drive to push our naive beliefs onto others appears congenital in some personas. I have several friends like that. Who believe I am going to hell because I choose not to plunge myself into their belief systems. Who themselves would resist plunging into my belief system with the aggression of Atila the Hun. So why are they so adamant about my buying into their convictions?

My personal theory is that some of us humans feel inferior to others. Maybe we were put down, abused, neglected as children. All Homo Sap saps want to be accepted. Liked. Loved. Some of us just never learned acceptable, healthy ways to do that. So we look for others who have similar beliefs to find a way to “belong”. If said similar groups don’t exist, we try to create our own group. Failing that, we strike out at those we perceive to be preventing our desire to be accepted.

In all my years I have never met anyone who claimed they sat at “the right hand of God”. But some people I have met acted as though they were the only human picked by “God” to know the truth. Some ministers I know honestly believe that their god will forgive all their sins no matter what they do because they “do His work”. And everyone who doesn’t accept their religious belief (i.e. convert) is destined for Everlasting Hell and Brimstone.

And I question that belief because we lowly humans forgive our children and continue to love them even when their experimentation of life gets them into serious trouble. Why then would a Loving God therefore create such a horrible hell for his children that make mistakes along the learning path?

Have you hugged your beliefs today? And questioned their validity? And, more importantly, hugged your children, who are our greatest learning experiences?

Wishing you a thousand blessings on your head.

The Good, Bad, Despicable…

Today’s written feast concerns THE continuing problem of Human Solidarity, which in my bumble opinion is based on one concept: Neighborhoods.

The impoverished don’t have a lot of choice because they are limited financially, and unfortunately still, by their culture and/or the color of their skin. These are the Bad Neighborhoods: high crime rates, high disease rates and pollution, low self-esteem and hopelessness. The places we are afraid to drive through at night. Because we equate desperate people with Bogeymen. Which is probably why we force them into ghettos, barrios, Poverty Lane. They would qualify as Beyond Despicable except no one wants to purposely live in hell.

The Good Neighborhoods, of course, are integrated with various cultures, various belief systems, various languages, various skin colors, etc. And they work at getting along together. Would some Scientists please step forward and do a study on the health and long lives of these neighborhoods? Oh wait.

In 2005 Dan Buettner invented the label Blue Zone and identified 5 places in the world in which a long healthy lifestyle is enjoyed by the majority of the residents. These five zones are not the only places in the world where citizens have a happy, long life, but they are the places identified by Buettner. And essentially they don’t have an obvious agreed upon common thread in which all their citizens partake.

For instance, a majority of their food is vegetables but some consume red meats, some fish, etc. And the vegetables are native to their location therefore not common amongst the blue zones. Even so, Buettner listed six commonalities among the Blue Zones:

  • Family – put ahead of other concerns
  • Less smoking
  • Semi-vegetarianism – the majority of food consumed is derived from plants
  • Constant moderate physical activity – an inseparable part of life
  • Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
  • Legumes – commonly consumed [1]

The point in all this being that a community that works together succeeds together. The problem is how to achieve successful communities/neighborhoods. Especially given the disparaging differences currently separating global neighborhoods.

Lastly, the Despicable neighborhood is the one which does not allow integration of any other cultures, beliefs, socio-economics, skin color, etc. And with that statement I can hear one of my (wealthy) cousins screaming that no rich person is going to “allow trash to move into” their exclusive neighborhoods. I have never understood the mindset that accommodates this type of thinking.

This is the same cousin who pretty much stole everything from Auntie after she passed away. Because that’s the way some people roll. I never disputed her actions. Mainly because Auntie gave me all the things she wanted me to remember her by while she was still alive. Worth so much more than mere money.

I call these neighborhoods Despicable because they will be pretty lonely and helpless (and relatively short lived) in an apocalyptic future. Because, while money can provide physical comforts on a temporary basis, true friendships don’t exist for them. Because every millionaire I have met shares the fear that everyone they know could be plotting to rob them of their fortune. They trust no one completely. Even their own family members.

Unfortunately I don’t have a pat answer for the neighborhood dilemma. What I do have is hope for the young people of today to destroy unhealthy boundaries and beliefs. I am thankful many are choosing not to follow the negative paths that can only exist in a constricted world of limited thinking.

So there you have it. If we can find a way to turn our planet into a series of common (working together) neighborhoods, that would solve a lot of problems for us Sap saps. Let’s all bring the popcorn and get started today. Hey?

Have you hugged your neighbor (elbow rub/Covid hug) today?