Tag Archives: News

Fishing, a fire, and transport to 1970

Yes, of course we went fishing yesterday–the highest and best use of my husband’s Presidents’ Day holiday. The sky was variable, but the rain left us alone. We were working on some tasks at home until mid-afternoon; we didn’t think the fish would miss us.

At one point around 3:00 in the peaceful afternoon, I turned around to look at the opposite side of the river. I saw a broad plume of very dark-grey smoke, higher than anything else on the land. It looked to me to be at least 40 feet high, but I have no idea how high it actually was. “My God, there’s a fire!” I said with amplified volume. I somehow was no less terrified of the fire some miles away across water than I’d have been had we been closer. My husband turned quickly from the near shore and our fishfinder. We were speculating whether it was a group of subsidized housing units or a storage unit. I was trying to think within a referential context of Clarkston, Washington in 2017. But my mind wasn’t there.

My mind was in Isla Vista, California, in 1970. I was coming home from a Latin final at UCSB, handing my driver’s license over to a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy. He asked where I was headed. I assured him I was going straight home. He assured me I’d better follow that plan. I was glad I lived in Goleta, and no longer in I.V.

I no longer remember whether this was before or after fellow USBC student Kevin Moran was shot and killed by a riot control trooper whose shotgun had a defective safety. Kevin had been working diligently with some other altruistic volunteers, putting out fires set by rioters.

The fire my husband and I saw across the river yesterday was the result of a man trying to repair his truck in a rented shop. He had other vehicles and several containers of volatile fuel in his work area, and evidently too few precautionary safety provisions.

But I saw, and continue to see, another fire entirely–one that likely seared my memory forever, deliberately set by stupid looters and self-styled idealists annoyed with the Isla Vista branch of the Bank of America, who decided to shove a burning dumpster through the bank’s door, 47 years ago.

I suppose it’s a PTSD thing; if it is, I sincerely hope you do not understand.

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Of ground hogs and Gadarenes

It hasn’t been good, pushing myself to follow news that ultimately leaves me in the Slough of Despond, gulping for air. (If you are unfamiliar with the venue, it is detailed in The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan.)

Last night, to waylay the effects of the gloomy articles, I decided I would check out the ground hog situation today. I had planned to drive to an arterial bounded by fields where I have often seen ground hogs. Unlike prairie dogs, who sensibly hibernate through the winter until they receive nature’s all-clear signal, ground hogs quasi-hibernate, emerging at various times to test the readiness of winter’s departure. At 9:30 this morning it was still only 16° and foggy. Forget it. I’m more the prairie dog type.

I skipped the news. I thought of Legion, the Gadarene man chronicled in Luke 8:26-38. He was afflicted with demons and quite miserable. Christ came to the man, and of course apprehended his misery. The Lord sent the demons out of the man and into a herd of swine, who promptly ran maniacally over a cliff and perished. The man was grateful. But the owners of the swine were not grateful; they were rueful over their loss of their pigs. They wanted Christ to depart from their territory because they could perceive Him only as a vessel of misfortune. The grateful man whom Christ delivered from the demons became an evangelist.

I don’t need to keep testing the waters of the Slough of Despond; it’s good to be aware of what’s going on, but not to the point of toxic exposure and unhelpful grief. Lord, give me a heart that is more like Legion’s.

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.

27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!”

29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them.

33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.

34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.

35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.

37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.

38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

— New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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A warm, bright November afternoon

p1020356Effie fends her way through dry sunflower canes, hunting bugs, digging holes, and engaging in other Things To See and Do in Effieland.

After so many days in the 50°-60° range, the temperature hit 80° this afternoon; my yard chair was finally dry after all the rain we’ve had, and I was able to enjoy a pleasant hour in Effieland with Effie, watching her stalk bugs and look very awesome.

My backyard retreat followed my usual Wednesday homekeeping tasks, with the whipping out of a few election stats in between. Our new President-elect aced the Electoral College scoreboard with 57% of the Electoral votes, but lost the popular vote by .2%–about 200,000 votes.

The scenario is neither common nor unheard of. It doesn’t matter–we’re Americans; we survive these things with great resilience and transferred admiration. For the most part, we just like winners, though probably not as much as Effie likes catching bugs.

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To Europe, From Effie

P1010557Supreme Allied Cat (SAC) Euphemia (Effie) Joy Luvmuffin extends her encouragement and condolences to all of her friends and colleagues and their people at Katzenworld.com and throughout Europe as they recover from their grief, shock, and losses in the wake of the terrible attack on Brussels, and thus on all NATO partners.

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Thoughtful logic from disparate thinkers

I intend to vote this year, but not for President. Yes, voting for our national leader is a privilege; but when I believe that no virtuous choice is possible, I decline to make a choice that will result in an earnest need for repentance.

I find support for my position from two very different thinkers, having read extensively from the work of both. The first is a Christian; the other is an atheist. Both arrive at the same conclusion concerning good and evil, although they have some significant disparities as to what constitutes good and evil.

“Of two evils, choose neither.”—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“The lesser of two evils is evil.”–Ayn Rand
(Rand also cited “the evil of two lessers.”)

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Yay! Bravo! and, ho hum, forever Yank

I confess to checking the headlines with transitory interest, curious to know whether the royaling has emerged. Yank that I am, all babies look pretty much alike to me, and royal babies are just other people’s kids, after all, and I’m glad they live somewhere else. I’m actually more interested to see how long it might be that Mr. Snowden remains snowed-in. Similarly situated to the royaling, emergence remains in a limbo that seems always to have another step ahead of every move possible at the time.

Meanwhile, our garden grows, the weeds grow faster, and our summer is a glorious tribute to Him Who made seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. . . .

0722131215

0722131214

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Grammar: The Final Bailout

The Internet is synonymous with freedom of the media—but are paid journalists free from the basic, non-arbitrary rules of grammar? Evidently.

I realize that proto-literate grammar is not something new, but errors in fundamental grammar—not typos, but incorrect usage—are frequent and ubiquitous, and they are capable of distracting the picky reader who reads with a red pencil in her mind’s eye. For the sake of those swell Americans who like to ascribe all cultural degradation to immigrants, plenty of English-surname bylines are infected with the grammar blight.

I can appreciate the rush involved in getting a story out in Internet media while events are still unfolding. And I realize that Microsoft Word Grammar-Check is a premier source of illiteracy. But subjects and objects are simply not interchangeable; one does not consider “what motivated he and his brother, Tamerlan, to attack the Marathon” (italics mine). The use of subject pronouns as objects and object pronouns as subjects is not only incorrect, but such usage may cause some readers to ponder how the so-called writer secured a so-called writing job, and completely ignore the substance, if any, of the story.

The use of an apostrophe in a possessive context (“The cat licked it’s paws. . .”) might give a reader pause, and cause him to wonder whether the author is a homeschool dropout. In any case, there are 67,000+ replicas of the same story out there, written with varying degrees of competency, from AP to WSJ, one as stale as another.

We are sufficiently saturated to be choosy, while at the same time, sufficiently saturated to don our cloaks of oblivion and go on with our lives, give up trying to know what’s going on anywhere else, and, attentively, but not obsessively, await the Big Text from POTUS.

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Snippets from a recent tour of reality

I’m at a loss to express the beauty of the day, but my husband shot this photo of our flax in its full glory; and it’s straw-hat weather, even with the wind.

Flax 5.4.13

I have all three of our local Starbucks stores trained! I am able to get a pour-over of Espresso Roast when the brewed coffee they are serving as the Bold of the Day is a medium roast instead of a dark, with no quizzical expressions from the crew! While this may have little impact on 99.9% of the world’s population, it keeps my Starbucks Experience from faltering from superlative into borderline dreadful.

I’ve been losing interest in the news for some time; or maybe it’s simply been too difficult to assign myself Things with which I Should Probably be Somewhat Conversant. I find my overwrought sympathies fleeing to Anzor Tsarnaev. His wife is a moonbat from hell, his psycho-bomber sons didn’t exactly make good in America, and he is back someplace in Russia, his once respectable life now ignominious and utterly broken. All else seems mundane, and the senior Tsarnaev’s plight is too melancholy to follow. Running concurrently was coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner, which gave me to realize that the President, when laughing at his own jokes, bears a fair resemblance to Chuck E Cheese. I would prefer never to have known this.

I think that at some point I just feel robbed. The media would extort the mental and emotional energy that is better spent on individuals with whom I share a wonderful montage of shared reality that is founded in eternal truth. My hope is not in transient images and events. Hope is found only in eternal truth, and all else must be interpreted by revealed eternal truth; for instance, this:

23 Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this. –Jer. 30:23-24 (ESV)

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Why we don’t like toddler slappers

Man’s first sin was his decision to seize power that was not his; nor did it belong to some syndicate godfather. It belonged to God the Father. As a result, weeds grow, men hate, batter, murder one another; they ingest drugs that destroy the reason that made them men. We wish certain species would die out—starthistles, earwigs, toddler slappers—but they remain with us, for one thing, to remind us of our connection to our heritage: our heritage of original sin and our fall from original grace.

I was thinking about the toddler-slapper incident in this context, trying to understand why the slapper’s conduct was so thoroughly reprehensible, and why it deserves judicial penalties and societal censure. I can’t read the man’s heart, but only assess his alleged actions based on the reports I have read at some internet news sites I consider generally to be fairly competent, notwithstanding their pronounced liberal bias. I’m not going to use the man’s name, because it’s been in the news enough, and because I’m not writing about him personally, but citing the incident in which he was involved as an example.

Very briefly, for my marmot friends just emerging from under their rocks, a flight passenger slapped a two-year-old boy on the face, with his hand, while pronouncing a racial epithet as he instructed the child’s mother to “shut that N. baby up.” The child is the adopted African-American son of two obviously adoring white parents. The boy’s father was not on the flight with his wife and son. The assailant was determined to be inebriated.

As a preliminary matter, I have to confess some personal biases.

First, I consider it very wrong, and possibly criminal, ever to use corporal punishment on a child who is not specifically misbehaving. Crying in pain is not misconduct.  The toddler in this case, according to his mother (whom I regard as necessarily the world authority on his behavior), was experiencing ear pain due to changes in the plane’s altitude and air pressure. If you don’t know how much this can hurt, even without being slapped hard enough to leave a bruise on your face, consider yourself very lucky.

Second, I admit to not wishing to share a planet, much less an airplane cabin, with a hostile drunk.

My take is that all sin re-enacts the original sin of seizing power which is not rightly one’s to seize. The unmanly male passenger in this case seized parental authority to discipline a child who was not his, without permission from the child’s parent who was present, when discipline was not an appropriate remedy under the circumstances. The man failed to act as an adult and endure the sounds of the helpless child’s suffering.

The passenger used inflammatory language of the basest order, as it pejoratively alluded to a trait over which no human has any control. But I think it was more and worse than that.

This is just my scenario. Again, I don’t know this man’s heart. I know a baby crying can be very irritating—but there are things you just don’t get to do about it. To cross the line the way this passenger is alleged to have done, is a power raid.

The unwarranted strike, combined with the epithet, emboldened the passenger with a self-justified right to use force, even though it was not reasonable. The striker’s own magical thinking conferred a fictive power on the word—and on himself. He seized God’s power over the order of creation and re-ordered it his own way. He made himself a higher-order man, and a small, suffering child an “N.” He believed he could treat the N as he pleased. Perhaps the slap, fortified with the word, confirmed his fictive power to reduce the child’s rights, to put him in his place, according to his own sense of order. Maybe to put all “Ns” in their place—but I won’t impute broader motives from the scant evidence I have. The man’s lawyer says his client is not a racist.

I don’t see this as a case about political correctness. I distrust and dislike the growing obsession with political correctness. I see political correctness largely as a power raid, designed to assign entitlement to categories, rather than to individuals. The more we secularize our thinking, the more we need artifices like this to conceal the template of creation and the Law of God. We keep believing in the five-legged donkey when we count its tail as a leg.

The airplane incident is about real individuals, one with a torqued sense of reality, irrationally abusing another who is 1/30th his age, and who is learning all about reality, good and bad, in leaps and bounds, every day. The striker’s alleged action offends the sense of order of all reasonable people.

I really see this as a case of hardening in a pathetic individual who wants control over everything in his midst but his own life. I assume he has the benefits of an expensive education; he was a division head for an aerospace defense contractor. This incident cost him his job, and I think his employer’s response is creditable. When a person’s private thoughts leave a mark on the face of someone else’s child, we rightly just don’t like it.

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Valley blessings

I was absently skimming headlines while sipping my home-brewed Caffe Verona, spilling only a little on my shell-pink t-shirt when my cat thudded into my lap as I was draining the bottom of my mug. A Washington state legislator is proposing a bill to allow our state’s teachers to carry concealed firearms. I would normally think this a fairly terrific idea, but I’m not sure how many teachers would clear the background check. Well, realistically, they probably all would. The sex offenders who turn up every so often in the teaching population probably don’t have backgrounds until they start teaching.

I was also vaguely interested in the progress of the cop turned cop killer, and whether he might become the first drone-executed American on American soil. The LAPD has already branded Dorner a domestic terrorist. I believe it is still the case that the President has to authorize these things.

I live in a peaceful, largely happy-seeming place. I know, that’s what the denizens of  Newtown thought about their smugly snug town. But my small, snug, smug town isn’t a shadow village of sleepless daily migrants to a city. Nearly everyone here, if they work at all, works in the local economy.  Our county sheriff’s deputies have time to answer barking dog complaints, but crime is not rare. Our jail is crowded; our County Prosecutor arranges to move our better-accomplished inmates to state prisons. Meth is a widespread force of personal and social destruction here; murder happens, but it doesn’t usually make national news for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes it does. Suspected uxoricide Charles Capone lives in our county jail. His wife’s body has yet to be found. A very dedicated detective with the sheriff’s office passionately wants the case resolved for the sake of closure for the children. If our crime goes global, at least our local passions go, too.

My friend Rachel emailed as I was skimming and reflecting beyond the headlines, wanting to know if I was available to Skype this Thursday, which happens to be Valentine’s day.  Sure, I don’t have a date. My sweetie will be in court all day. My husband is an attorney, and a County public defender.

I told Rachel I love being married to a public defender, because no expectation inheres for us to socialize with my husband’s clients. Their dinner and entertainment are typically provided by the County, at the expense of our small county’s denizens who are not unhappy and/or criminally insane. Thankfully, that’s most of us—as well as an often overlooked blessing.

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