Thursday, May 2, 2013

Walk with me

Nutwood hike2
Today I decided to get out and enjoy our property a little bit by taking a hike through the marsh. I hadn’t intended on going back into the woods, but I was having so much fun out there that I spent a while in the woods, too! A little background: we have 11 acres, part of it a marshy wetlands, which changes to woods a little farther back. Let’s get started! (Click on pictures to embiggenate.)

Nutwood hike3
It’s important to wear wear a hat when walking around out here. Lots of ticks. I didn’t have any on me, but I just saw one on the outside wood trim. It was a warm, sunny day, and I was already starting to heat up as I made my way through the marsh back to the woods.

Nutwood hike4
Because this is wetlands, there are some pretty squishy spots out here. Ken tries to keep a path mowed, and he’s put pallets and boards down to serve as a walkway in the squishiest spots. (It also helps to keep the mower from getting stuck!) I like how this leads to the woods. Looks kind of spooky, doesn’t it? Of course, I think everything looks spooky.

Once I got into the woods, I was glad I decided to do the full monty, so to speak. Later in the summer, the woods get pretty overgrown and tangled with foliage, and Ken usually has to slash through some of the stuff with a machete. [Feel free to play the Indiana Jones music in your head.] But this time of year, it’s easy to get through. The ground cover is just coming up, and you don’t have to wade through knee deep (at least for me), thick foliage. There were still lots of bare spots on the floor of the woods, and it seemed so wide open and clear. Although I looked, I didn’t see a single morel mushroom. Dammit! And it’s weird to see this huge boulder back there in the woods. It’s a reminder that this area leveled by a glacier…it’s flat, and lots of big rocks were deposited or turned up along the way. Ooo, what lies beneath…!

Of course, I had a moment where I thought how creepy it would be to see a zombie come shuffling through the woods towards me. A Walking Dead fan never rests! It is very reminiscent of the Georgia woods where they’ve shot some of the episodes. I got lost in those north Georgia woods once, and it was a little unsettling. I was just taking a walk in the woods behind our house! My friend and I finally found a road and managed to get back home.

I managed to get turned around today, too. Hey, it’s me. I’m bad with directions. I didn’t get totally lost, because it’s hard to get lost on just 11 acres, and there are things not that far from our property. But I headed west to the edge of our property and saw the stake that marks it. Someone had built some sort of wooden structure, and I thought, “That better not be something like a fallen deer blind” (No hunting at Nutwood!), but as I got closer, I saw that our neighbors had a little path on their property, and had built a wooden bench at the end of the pathway! I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, I went to head back, and I felt like I was going south, back towards our house, but I was actually heading east, because I soon saw the buildings of the place next to ours. I had another Walking Dead moment, because I thought, “I need Daryl Dixon to get me through these woods!” Haha! But I knew where I was then, and soon saw the green of the marsh through the trees ahead of me, and got back to the path through the marsh. It really is amazing how easy it is to get turned around and disoriented in woods like this. It gets worse as the foliage gets more lush and obscures notable landmarks like large rocks or fence posts.

Speaking of notable, I was thrilled to find the old metal bed frame (kind of hard to see in these pictures...look closely). Neighbor Dave told us when we first moved in to look for it; apparently there was a cabin out in the woods in the past, and this little bed frame was still out there. A tree is growing up through it. When we moved in, it was maybe eight inches in diameter. See the tree, how big it’s grown! (Obscure Bobby Goldboro reference.)

Nutwood hike9b
Our neighbors have boxes up for…I think bluebirds? Or maybe bats? I think bat boxes are usually higher. But it’s nice to see that they have “No Hunting” signs posted, too. We feel the same way.

Nutwood hike9c 
After making a circle around the property, I came out on the other side of the yard into our back yard. (You can see what is left of the tree I worked on cleaning up earlier this week.) After a hard day of exploring in the woods (okay, it was maybe a couple of hours), it was nice to see our little oasis. Since I was feeling like a badass adventurer, I lifted some weights and punched a hole in the wall. Okay, I didn’t really do that second part.

Then I caught some rays and read Rolling Stone magazines.

The End.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bring it!

Jump for joyThis was pretty much me the past few days. After a long, chilly spring that brought snow much later than usual, we seem to be finally getting some warm, sunny days. For those of you who live in nice weather year-round, I think it’s kind of hard to understand the sheer joy that comes with the onset of nice weather after the winter.

I enjoy living in a place where we have a change of seasons; each has its own unique beauty for me. But there is no denying that winter can be a drag around here. (At least for me. For those who enjoy getting out and snowmobiling or cross country skiing, I’m sure it’s a regular yuk-fest. Not this gal.) Because this winter seemed to drag on for so long, and the spring was cooler than normal, I had a horrible case of spring fever. I love summer. I love the heat and even the humidity, within moderation (it can get a little much even for me). It is awfully gloomy around here in the winter, and it gets dull and brown.

But when spring starts popping, color comes back to the world. The grass has been greening up nicely, and tiny leaves are popping out on some of the trees. All of the spring bulbs are up, yellow and white daffodils, purple, pink, and white hyacinths, and red tulips.

I spent some time outside walking around the yard and picking up all the debris that accumulates during the winter. I was constantly distracted by all the little wildflowers in the grass: wild violets, both purple and white; tiny little white flowers; trilliums; and grape hyacinths everywhere under an elm tree, although I don’t remember planting any there. The blueberry bushes have tiny leaves forming, and the redbuds are going to blossom any day now.

It’s hard to adequately convey how wonderful this time of year is. That first hint of green and of flowers blossoming. How wonderful it feels to ditch the heavy clothes and walk around in next to nothing. The feeling of the sun on your skin, soaking up the rays like a sponge. Having the windows open, the fresh air, the sound of the house wren outside the bedroom window, building its nest and singing its little heart out.

I’m always a pretty cheery person, but the past few days have me over the moon and walking on the sun.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

This needs an asskicking

Honey BunnyAnd I’m in the mood to do it. This has been making the rounds on the Interwebz lately, and I’ve seen it posted in several places. Thank goodness no one has sent it to me in an email; I think lessons have been learned! I could barely read it, and had to skim over it in parts to keep my head from exploding. First of all, I hate these sort of “morality plays” that get passed around. They’re inevitably trite and contrived, and this one is particularly so. It could also possibly be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read, and I feel the need for a rebuttal, if only to cleanse my brain of this nonsense. So settle back, kids. This is going to be a long one. My commentary in red, which should be obvious.


I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the coming implementation of the health care bill. I could not finish my breakfast. This is what ensued: They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes.

I find it odd that it seems necessary to point out that “several races and both sexes” were in this group. Why not just say it was a bunch of blahs and beaners and bitches and let your freak racist/misogynist flag fly? Get it right there out front. Go on. You’ll feel better. Sorry they made you feel barfy, though.

I heard a young man exclaim, “Isn’t Obama like Jesus Christ? I mean, after all, he is healing the sick.”

Is this how conservatives think liberals talk? I have a lot of liberal friends, and I have never had a single one of them compare President Obama to Jesus Christ, or say that Obama is “healing the sick.” I hardly think that expanding health care so that it is more accessible to all Americans qualifies as “healing the sick.” And before you start bandying JC’s name about, you might want to take another look at what the bible says that he said about it. Start with this one.

A young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, “Yeah, and he does it for free. I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market wouldn't work for health care.”

I’m not really sure what is going on here. No, it’s not free. We are all paying for it with our taxes, just like we pay for our roads, defense, and other essential services provided by the government. We on the left understand this, and we approve of it. Because, you see, we believe that everyone should have the right to at least basic, preventive healthcare. I also don’t understand the “free market” comment. Is this fictional liberal using the word “free” as in no one has to pay for it, or “free market” in the economic sense? Healthcare insurance isn’t a free market system; the prices of payment are set by the insurance companies. The Affordable Care Act does not open up a totally free market for healthcare. It expands coverage to more people and it sets some boundaries for insurance companies. This is where the whole thing really started becoming nonsensical to me.

Another said, "The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power. Obama should be made a Saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate.”

I don’t think the Republicans want all liberals to starve to death. Only the poors and the blahs and the sluts and the ones who vote. I kid, I kid. But what does “starving to death” have to do with the Affordable Care Act? Again, not making much sense here. And Obama should achieve sainthood? Nah. But I think he is to be commended for caring about the 47%, unlike SOME people (nottomentionanynamesmittromney). It is a little noble to think that people shouldn’t have to die of preventable diseases, or should be able to get treatment if they can’t afford it, or shouldn’t have to lose their home because of medical bills. Caring about those less fortunate...that’s quite a concept. Some might say it’s almost...Christlike.

At this, I had more than enough. I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table. “Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?” They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation. I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.

No, real restraint would mean minding your own damn business and not horning in on their conversation. And this is not really what constitutes an “experiment.”  But you’ve already made your move. Please proceed, governor.

“I would like to give one of you my house. It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there. Anyone interested?”

They looked at each other in astonishment. “Why would you do something like that?” asked a young man, “There isn’t anything for free in this world.”

They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Stoopid liberals. You’re about to get schooled. Let me reiterate: we understand this is not free. We understand that our taxes are paying for it, and we’re okay with that. We also think it’s reasonable to ask those with the most to pay a little bit more than those with the least.

“I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money whatsoever. Anyone interested?”

In unison, a resounding “Yeah” fills the room.

HUZZAH! And please watch your tense. You’re waffling between past and present tense here.

“Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money-free bargain.”

Guys, I think this dude is kinda starting to creep me out. It’s like he’s getting his rocks off playing god and thinking he’s all wise and shit.

I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking his head in apparent disgust.

Maybe he’s disgusted with YOU, did you ever stop to think about that? Maybe he thinks you’re a creep and you need to stop harassing these people.

“I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules.”

Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces.

Clever dude. You’ve got ‘em bewildered. Of course, that’s pretty easy to do with us liberals, amirite? Also, I don’t like your semicolon use. A plain old period would have sufficed. A colon might have been more stylish. But a semicolon? No.

The perky young woman asked, “What are the rules?”

Perky? Young? That’s it. This guy’s a creeper. He’s looking at your tits, honey. Get away from him!

I smiled and said, “I don’t know. I have not yet defined them. However, it is a free home that I offer you.”

They giggled amongst themselves, the youngest of which said, “What an old coot. He must be crazy to give away his home. Go take your meds, old man.”

Teeheehee, giggly liberals. You so silly! And “It is a free home that I offer you.” Who talks like that? “I will now play for you the song of my people.”

I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further. “I am serious, this is a legitimate offer.”

Yeah, he’s trying to look down your shirt, honey. Lean back. There you go. Seriously, this guy needs to go back to his own table.

They gaped at me for a moment.

“I’ll take it you old fool. Where are the keys?” boasted the youngest among them.

Isn’t it amazing how stupid liberals are? Look at them just sitting there with their mouths open. And how is what the youngest said a “boast?” In order to boast, one has to tout one’s own accomplishments or prowess. None of that in his remarks. Wow, this is really crappy writing.

“Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then?” I asked.

You used “then” twice. Yep. Really crappy writing.

The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table. “Oh yeah! Where do I sign up?”

Maybe they’re not amused and entertained. Maybe they’re afraid that you’re going to pull out a gun and go all Honey Bunny on the place. But no, you’re beyond that now. You’re in full kindly old uncle mode, ready to teach these whippersnappers a thing or two. More like kindly old uncle who stares too hard at you when you’re getting out of the pool, and who hugs you just a little too long and too close, if you ask me.

I took a napkin and wrote, “I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction.” I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature.

“Where are the keys to my new house?” he asked in a mocking tone of voice.

Sigh. Way too adverby and adjectivy. You should really consider taking a class. It could help. Also...must be a big napkin. Hope it’s a paper one, otherwise you are defacing the restaurant’s property.

All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.

“From pocket.” Please register for a class now. And the drama is killing me. *gasp* What’s he going to do? What will he say? [biting nails]

“Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere to from this point forward. You may only live in the house for one hour a day. You will not use anything inside of the home. You will obey me without question or resistance. I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you. You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature. Your morals and principles shall be as mine. You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith. These are my terms. Here are your keys.”

I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumbfounded.

“Are you out of your mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms?” the young man appeared irritated.

“You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement.”

Oooo, the big reveal! Are you amazed, stupid liberals? Wow, this dude really got the better of you, didn’t he? Burrrrrn! But seriously, guys, he is really creeping me out here. “You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm” is something you hear right before you’re chloroformed and wake up naked and chained to a wall, a ball gag in your mouth. Not that that’s ever happened to me or anything.
The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him. I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people.

Wait, he’s chuckling as his wife is trying to restrain him? This is getting weird. Maybe he’s going to try to take you out before you kill a whole restaurant full of people.

“You can shove that stupid deal up your a** old man. I want no part of it!” exclaimed the now infuriated young man.

Language, language! Man, kids these days.

'You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends. You cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it. I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared. I am the power you agreed to. I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to. In short, I am your Master.”

Good lord! Run, you guys, RUN! He’s gonna break out the chloroform any minute now! This is gonna be you, I’m not kidding! You just know this guy’s got a gimp of his own chained up back at his place!

At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.

After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent.

No, I think they all finally figured out that you’re a seriously creepy dude and they’re telling you to fuck off.

“What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation. I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain. Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn, and for that which you did not earn, you willingly allowed someone else to think for you. Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you. You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee. Your only chance of freedom is if your new Master gives it to you. A freedom that is given can also be taken away. Therefore, it is not freedom at all.”

Except that many of us on the left DID do our research, and spent plenty of time finding out what was and wasn’t in the bill. And then we supported it, and many of us contacted our legislators to urge them to vote for it. Are we entirely happy with it? No. We feel that single payer healthcare would have been the way to go, and would have liked to see Medicare expansion to everyone. But it’s a start, something to be improved upon, and it will allow tens of millions of Americans to get healthcare. That’s a good thing, because I think every person deserves to be treated as a human being, and that includes a right to basic healthcare. But hey, what do I know? I’m just one of those stoopid liberals.

With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man. “This is the nature of your new health care legislation.”

No, it’s really not. The only thing that comes even close to being true about this is that there is a mandate that everyone has insurance. Because at some point, you’re going to need to be cared for, whether you get food poisoning, get hit by a bus, or fall off a ladder while you’re cleaning your gutters. These sorts of things happen to people all the time, no matter how careful you are, and when you go to the Emergency Room, guess who pays for it if you don’t have insurance? Those of us who DO have insurance, because our premiums go up because you’re too goddamn stubborn to realize that having health insurance is a good thing--for everyone. Or maybe you’re too deluded by your fears of a central government. Which we’ve had for quite a few years now, if you hadn’t noticed. Maybe you slept through that part of history class that discussed the whole war in which states’ rights versus federal rights was in question. (Hint: latter trumps the former. It’s in the Constitution. Look it up.)

I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation -- and was surprised by applause.

Everyone is relieved that the hostage situation is over, and was resolved without bloodshed.

The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, “Thank you, Sir. These kids don’t understand Liberty .”

Liberty with a capital L! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! That’s right. They don’t understand the liberty of finding out you have cancer and having months of treatment and reaching the cap on your insurance and having to declare bankruptcy and sell your house because of medical bills. They don’t understand how utterly and completely FREE you feel when you notice a lump in your breast but don’t have the money to see a doctor, so you just let it go. They don’t understand what it’s like to have out-of-control diabetes and watch as your toe turns black and starts to smell kind of bad, and to realize that you just can’t see as well as you used to and that your vision might be failing. They don’t understand the sheer joy that happens when your child is running a fever and you have to sit in the waiting room of the ER for eight hours before you can see a doctor, and you miss an entire day of work because of it and wonder if you’re going to get fired as a result. DO YOU LOVE YER FREEDOMS??

He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, “You earned this one. It is an honor to pick up the tab.”

I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.

I see. So this rat bastard creepster gets a free lunch out of the deal and thinks it’s just dandy. But for fuck’s sake, let’s not even consider the idea of helping those who are less fortunate, or aiding the poor and disadvantaged. Because that would be silly and downright un-American.

1. Remember... Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.



Beth here again, back in black. I’m always happy to climb up on my soap box, and I had a lot of fun writing this today. I also enjoy casting my vote, and I will happily do jury duty if called. I’m not so sure about the cartridge box. I support responsible gun ownership, but I think I’d still feel pretty free if I didn’t have a gun. I guess I just don’t subscribe to the paranoid idea that the government is going to declare martial law and haul me off to the gulag. I also realize that my .38 Ladysmith isn’t going to defend against an Apache helicopter. I try to stay focused on reality, you know?

I know exactly what is going on. I know that President Obama was able to do something that presidents have been trying to do for decades: pass a comprehensive healthcare bill that will provide basic medical care to millions of Americans. That is something that gives me a glimmer of hope for my country. I am also not politically blind. Far from it.

But I did learn something from this piece. It confirmed my commitment to being a proud liberal, and to working and contributing to help get progressives into office. I learned that many conservatives think we are stupid, clueless hippies who are not paying attention. Feel free to keep on thinking that. I also learned--or confirmed--that there are profound differences between us and the right. It boils down to embracing a strong central government or rejecting it. I truly believe that a strong central government can and does do good things. One of the things they can do well is a national healthcare system. Medicare has its inefficiencies and problems, but overall, it delivers care at a much lower price. But I’m not going to rehash that debate; I’ve said my piece on it previously, several times.

The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Stop trying to repeal it, stop posting idiocy like this, and if you feel it can be made better, come up with some ideas and write to your legislators. Many more people will be covered under the ACA, and lives will be saved. That’s a good thing. The persistence of this notion that all liberals are clueless children who want free stuff is not doing you any favors, and it is part of what cost you the last election. I shouldn’t have to point this out to you.

**mic drop**