White Picket Fence

Ever since I was a kid I have dreamed of living on a street in a small town in a white clapboard house surrounded by a white picket fence. It was probably an image I got from watching a wholesome movie like Its A Great Life, or some Mickey Rooney film. The idyllic setting appealed to me and still does. The house I grew up in was not in a small town, but in a small neighborhood in a very big city. We did not have a large enough yard for a picket fence to wrap around the front yard. We did have a picket fence separating us from the neighbors on either side. What ever it was that image has returned regularly throughout my lifetime.

Over the years I have lived in many places. Going away to college counts for many of them. After college and marriage I settled into a small village near the big city, but again the yard was not large enough to sport a white picket fence. House number two was in a tiny town out in the country and away from the big city, but that yard was too large for a picket fence and besides the homeowners association had rules stipulating no fences at all. It didn’t fit my ideal but I loved living there nonetheless. My final house is again in a neighborhood, but it is now part of the little town that house number two was in except the town is no longer small and idyllic.

One summer, I took my kids to see Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. I love that place. I could see myself living there in Colonial times. It conveys an image of a life during peacetime when people had only to concentrate on feeding and clothing their families. Most who lived in Williamsburg raised their own food, or bartered their talents for food. Each resident had a small cottage with a yard large enough to sustain themselves and to keep animals too. Some of those families were rich enough to afford a horse to pull a small wagon. They had everything, but none of it came from China, and most of it was homemade by them or their neighbors. The fences they had were necessary to separate the animals from the vegetables. Animals love fresh vegetables and keeping them side by side is risky for the city farmer.

Why is all this coming to haunt me? As I age, I long for a simple life in a very small community where everyone knows everyone, and the homes have white picket fences. Reading the book Tom Sawyer might have cemented that picture in my mind. Reading about how Tom duped his buddies into painting the white picket fence for him was one of my favorite chapters. Last week I searched the internet for towns in Illinois with small populations. There are many, but most are long distances away from my family. I seem to like towns with about two thousand people. They seem to fit my dream. The houses are mostly small, and old. The yards are large, meaning a lot of maintenance is required. None of them have picket fences probably because of the added cost and because picket fences require regular maintenance. Will I ever realize my dream? Probably not, but it is fun thinking about living in a situation where it would be a lot of fun if I were forty years old and not eighty. Why, I could raise chickens and keep a large organic vegetable garden. Think of all the energy I would expend pulling weeds and killing vegetable eating bugs and butterflies.

A few years ago, I wrote my autobiography and one of the chapters was titled “City Farm.” I described the way my Mom kept a garden that covered every square inch of the available yard. She had chickens, raised vegetables, fruit, and also a myriad of flowers at the same time. The lady never sat still. While she was doing all that garden stuff I was able to get lost on the block and play with my buddies. Ahh for the good old days.

Now it is wine time!

The Sequel to 1776

Six years ago I began writing a book in the alternate history genre. The theme is based on patriots losing the Revolution in 1776 and not gaining independence from Britain. I stopped at 80,000 words because I didn’t know how to end the story. One way would have left me open to continue writing several more books on the story. Another way was to end it abruptly thus dashing the dreams and aspirations of all the characters in the story. This last week’s attempt by we the people to make ourselves heard by the Congress have signaled how the latter ending would turn out.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

In analyzing the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol Building I have put together a series of steps that may be the underlying reasons. I will try to list them and rationalize my thinking as I proceed.

  1. In 2016 Democrats speak about impeaching Trump a week before his inauguration. They rejected his legitimacy, and boldly proclaimed that he was not their president.
  2. Democrats, namely Hillary Clinton used a false narrative of Russian collusion in her campaign against Trump. Then, when it failed the Democrats used the Clinton narrative by blaming Trump for said collusion.
  3. Several FBI employees ran a campaign against the President in an attempt to delegitimize his presidency. One of them, Peter Stzrok was fired. As far as I can remember he is the only one who was punished for his actions against the President.
  4. Democrats led an abusive campaign against the confirmation of Brett Cavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
  5. Democrats were slow to react to the President’s actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and then used his actions against him in the campaign. I’m waiting for Biden’s miracle to stop the spread. God love him, if he does he will be my hero.
  6. The press has conducted a non-stop assault on the president via false narratives in their reporting. Currently, there is talk of social media companies colluding to prevent Parler a Twitter competitor from doing business, proclaiming it is an anti-trust situation. Isn’t this exactly the same thing the news companies did throughout the last five years?
  7. Two years ago, there was a rumble about inconsistencies within our election process, but since there wasn’t a major candidate running, nothing was done.
  8. Democrats desperate to eliminate Trump proceeded with an impeachment proceeding on a the basis of minuscule phone call with a newly elected Ukrainian leader. During this proceeding they used all manner of debate to sway members of Congress and public opinion. Thankfully, the arguments failed.
  9. COVID-19 made people wonder how they could vote with the need to social distance, to wear masks, and to avoid crowds. A new election process was quickly implemented in many states. All of them ignored their own laws dictating how the process can be changed. Aren’t we a Nation of Laws? The vote by mail system was proposed and implemented illegally against the recommendations of the President and millions of voters.
  10. During the election and the counting process numerous infractions and violations were reported by the election judges. Coincidentally, most infractions were in four states that Trump needed to win. Thousands of election judges filed sworn statements of their observations of illegal actions. Every challenge against the validity of the count was ruefully dismissed by democrat judges. They didn’t offer any valid reason for their decision. They did claim that there wasn’t enough fraud to make a difference in the outcome. Since when does fraud have an allowable limit? Isn’t any infraction of the law to be met with equal judicial concern? This inaction by the courts and States involved were a thorn in the side of most voters, but the courts did not give a hoots-ass about examining or investigating the process.
  11. Finally, the election arrived in the Senate for the official count to declare a winner. In the course of history, there have been challenges to the accuracy of the Electoral College results. This time was to be no different, Several Senators declared they would challenge the votes of several states. To my knowledge only Senator Cruz made such a challenge before hell broke loose.
  12. It is my contention that had the Senate given the challengers some time to debate as is the custom the invasion may have been avoided. All they would have had to do is to listen to the arguments and then decide whether it made sense to allow the electoral votes to be counted. The Senate did not act that way. Instead they chose to ignore the challenge and to impeach the President for inciting a riot.

I stopped at twelve because my feeble old brain is nearing exhaustion. There are scores more reasons why we the people have witnessed a committed, organized, planned take down of a legally elected president of the United States. I guess these reasons are called politics.

If there is any one theme throughout this scenario it has been to avoid listening to the other side. The Congress was designed to allow dispute to be settled civilly using debate as the tool for convincing the sides how to make up their minds to what is best for the country.

I suspect that the process has evolved from using civil debate and sound arguments as a method to the twenty-first century method of using polls and media to sway public opinion. What seems to be most important to the Congress is not what is best for the country but what is best for their re-election prospects.

In the beginning of this I wrote about the dilemma of my unfinished book. In my story, the British American Colonists are on the rise and trying to secede from British rule. The colonists are ill equipped, and undermanned, but determined to stand up to the mighty British Empire in North America. The easiest end to write will be to put down the uprising in a manner similar to what happened last week. Except, I would make it a whole lot bloodier with many bodies left dead on the battlefield.

A Costco-Walmart Adventure

A couple of days ago I received a call from a friend. She needed to go shopping for groceries. Being a Lion whose motto is We Serve, I jumped at the opportunity. Most sane people would have found a simpler service project, but not me. I had to drive 45 minutes to get to the starting point of this adventure. The friend is a caretaker, and her latest job is taking care of Norma a 101 year old lady without any family. She relies completely on the people she hires to do her favors.

Traffic was light at 2:00 in the afternoon, and I got to the house in forty minutes not forty-five. My friend was waiting for me at the door, and we were ready to go. I asked her if she had a key to the house to get in, She waved the key at me, “good” I said. “Did the lady give you money to shop with?” She dug into her purse and pulled out two blue cards one debit, and the other a credit. “Good,” I said again. “My lady wants me to go to Costco,” said my friend. “Did she give you her membership card?” Again, digging in her purse, she whipped out a Costco card. “Great,” I said, “let’s get going.”

Neither of us had a clue as to where the Costco was. Thank God for cell phones. We both found the address for the nearest one and I pumped the location into the GPS. We were off for an adventure.

I joined a Costco back in the nineteen-eighties when an agent came to our company to sell memberships. I bit on the bait and joined. The store was immense, but not convenient. Prices on things were good, but I don’t buy a TV every week or month. I was more interested in food. The Costco hook is packaging. The prices are good, but one must buy a package. For a can of tuna at a low price I might have to buy a package of twelve cans. My membership ran out and I never rejoined, but I did join Sam’s Club which was much closer to my home.

We started shopping in the meat department. My friend loves chicken wings and drum sticks. She picked up two discreet packages and went home with 32 drum sticks and 48 wings. Thankfully, four drum sticks were packaged in one plastic unit, but there were eight units to a package. The price was low, but who will eat that many drumsticks before the last one goes bad in the freezer? I figure it’ll be June, 2021 before they run out of drumsticks. We spent a lot of time looking for stuff and passing most bargains. My friend told me that the last caretaker was asked to leave. “Why,” I asked? “Norma told me that her last caretaker spent over $400 at Costco. I took a quick count of what was in our basket. “Do you realize we have over $130 dollars worth of groceries in the basket right now, and we have a lot of shopping left to do?” She thought about it for a second and said, “lets check out and go to Walmart.”

At the register I pushed the debit card into the reader and got a message “enter your PIN.” What? Do you have the PIN?”

“What is a PIN?” she asked me. The second card was the same. I reached for my wallet and pushed my American Express card into the reader. “We don’t accept American Express,” said the clerk.

“Oh shit, you mean to tell me the largest retailer in the world does not accept the number one card in the world?”

“Sorry sir.” I pulled out my emergency VISA and paid.

We managed to find a Walmart about five miles away and finished the shopping minus two items, Italian bread, and Biscotti. The total between the two stores was $320. At least we didn’t spend $400.

We spent an hour in Costco, and another hour in Walmart before we began to find our way back. It was dark, and thankfully I had the GPS to guide me. It was about six p.m. when we parked in the drive. My friend said she would go in first, check her client, and then open the garage door so we could unload quickly.

Two minutes later my friend reappeared, “can you help me?”

“What is wrong?”

“I can’t open the door.” I took the key from her and tried it on the two locks. It worked fine on the dead bolt, but it didn’t move on the regular lock. “We need two separate keys to open this door,” I said. “Now what?”

My friend began ringing the door bell. “Norma can wheel herself over and open the lock for us.” After several minutes and a lot of ringing, we peered through the side-light window and saw Norma slouched in her wheel chair and vigorously pointing toward the left. My friend went to the side yard only to learn that the gate was locked. She went to the opposite side and found the same. “Maybe Norma was pointing at the neighbor,” I said. We quickly went to the next house and rang the bell, and told the neighbor our story. It turns out the neighbor didn’t have a key either. The neighbor lady said “I’ll call the police.”

It took about five minutes for a cop to arrive. He listened to our story and said he would be back. He went to his patrol car to get his lock pick. By the time he came back, a fire truck arrived with three firemen. They went straight for the door with a tool that looked like a battering ram. “Oh great, now we will get in, but we’ll have a door that doesn’t close again.” Lady Luck was with us because within two minutes they had the door open and they rushed in to see if Norma was okay. My friend followed them. I stayed outside with the cop who insisted on seeing identification and asked for more information. “This happens a lot,” he said.

“Yeah, well it has never happened to me,” I said. I realized later that he meant this happens a lot at this house. My friend came out to ask me in, and the cop asked if he could go in to check on Norma too. “Of course,” she said. The cop and Norma were acquainted with each other and spoke for a few minutes. After he left we lifted Norma back into her wheel chair. I was right she had slid down while trying to come to the door and was inches from sliding onto the floor.

Finally, I unloaded the groceries into the garage. As we were going in and out Norma kept warning us not to let her cat out. On about the second trip, I looked up and saw the cat at the edge of the garage door looking out. My friend looked up and saw her too. Immediately she ran toward the house to scare the cat back into the house. That is all I would have needed to make the night complete, a missing cat. Thankfully, the cat skedaddled back into the house and we shut the door behind her.

I wished my friend good luck and left. I got home by 8:00 p.m. The first thing I did after relieving myself was to pour a generous shot of whiskey over ice to reward a successful service call.

Believe it or not!

Where In the World Do You Fit?

Subject:   Great News for Seniors  INTERESTING STATISTICS

The current population of Earth is around 7.8 Billion.
For most people, it is a large figure, that is all.
However, someone has condensed the 7.8 billion in the world into 100 persons, and then into various percentage statistics.
The resulting analysis is relatively much easier to comprehend.

Out of 100 :  (each section)

11 are in Europe
5 are in North America
9 are in South America
15 are in Africa
60 are in Asia

49 live in the countryside
51 live in cities

12 speak Chinese
5 speak Spanish
5 speak English
3 speak Arabic
3 speak Hindi
3 speak BengalI
3 speak Portuguese
2 speak Russian
2 speak Japanese
62 speak their own language.

77 have their own houses.
23 have no place to live.

21 are over-nourished
63 can eat full meals.
15 are under-nourished
1 ate the last meal, but did not make it to the next meal.

The daily cost of living for 48 is less than US$2.

87 have clean drinking water
13 either lack clean drinking water or have access to a water source that is
polluted.

75 have mobile phones
25 do not.

30 have internet access
70 do not have conditions to go online.

7 received university education
93 did not attend college.

83 can read
17 are illiterate.

33 are Christians
22 are Muslims
14 are Hindus
7 are Buddhists
12 are other religions
12 have no religious beliefs.

26 live less than 14 years
66 died between 15 – 64 years of age
8 are over 65 years old.

If you have your own home,
Eat full meals & drink clean water,
Have a mobile phone,
Can surf the internet, and have gone to college, You are in the miniscule  privileged lot.
(in the less than 7% category).

Amongst 100 persons in the world, only 8 can live or exceed the age of 65.

*If you are over 65 years old be content & grateful.  Cherish life, grasp the moment.* You did not leave this world before the age of 64 years like the 92 persons who have gone before you. You are already the blessed amongst  mankind.

Take good care of your own health because nobody cares more than you yourself!

Cherish every remaining moment.

A Normal Thanksgiving Day

NOT! The weather is normal, but the circumstances are totally out of whack. A grey cloudy day, cold, and a little wet, but where are my friends, where is the turkey in the oven and the stuffing next to it? Where is the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, and the pumpkin pie, where are the friends and family? All hunkered down. In compliance with our governor’s mandate to stay at home, celebrate alone, or virtually. How does one pass the gravy over a Zoom meal?

For as long as I can remember, and that is not long these days, Thanksgiving has been at my house or at one of my kids’ houses. It is not to be this year. I am made to feel like I am placing my life in jeopardy by visiting my daughter for dinner. God did not encourage us to have families so we could abandon them during the holidays.

Add to the gloomy day, and the lack of familial fellowship is the gloominess of having lost an excellent series called Home Fires. I got hooked watching this historical drama about a small town in England just as WW 2 begins in Europe. The folks are privy to having an RAF Airbase located right out side their town limits. This soap opera has stories galore to tell. Nearly everyone in the population has some part to play. The number of social issues and taboos is limitless, such as divorce, lesbianism, the call to duty, the declaration of conscientious objection, poor versus rich or class distinction, crooked business men taking advantage of the government spending, cancer, rationing, black markets, spousal abuse, women living without their men, etc. The actors all fit their parts and play them well. So well in fact that I had become one of the residents living next door to the action. This is one story that could well have run for ten or more seasons with many episodes in each and it would not fail to fascinate me. Evidently, I am not enough of an audience to meet the needs of the producers. Sadly, I have just read that the producers learned that the program leaned toward an older audience and have chosen to look at something that’ll lean toward youth. Being an old fart I will agree with their assessment, but not their action.

I switched to a new series being pushed by Amazon labeled The Pack. This mindless non-sense will no doubt run forever without adding a single scintilla of good to the world. It will make dog lovers happy, and since all of us love dogs the program has a chance, but I didn’t finish watching the first episode and will avoid any more.

I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

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