Category Archives: December 2013

Animals on Parade


I live in a small town where news is often scarce. We are limited to the free weekly paper that includes the latest high school basketball scores, city council minutes, obituaries and the police blotter. Ads for farm equipment, pharmacies, restaurants and exterminators are scattered throughout the pages, and words of thanks from bereaved families can be found. With the demise of the larger newspapers, it’s one of few ways to find out what’s going on in our neighborhoods.

Aside from the usual speeders, those driving about sans a license, loose dogs and the occasional wellness check, the local police blotter is pretty benign. However, last week it was noted that our men in blue were called out to respond to a report of three dead squirrels in the street. The post went onto say that the bodies were removed. I’m wondering what kind of training our officers undergo for such a task.

Recently, the Dallas Zoo reported the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys. Thankfully, they were recovered unharmed. The monkeys are named for their resemblance to the German Emperor Wilhelm II, although they also look a bit like Hulk Hogan. They live in small groups and the fathers take on most of the responsibility of caring for their young. The culprit who kidnapped them was found, but the reason for the theft has not been revealed.

Meanwhile, a British monkey sanctuary hired a Marvin Gaye impersonator to croon love songs to endangered Barbary macaques, with the hope of getting the lady monkeys in the mood to mate. As with the tamarin monkeys, macaques males take on a lion’s share of childcare. Perhaps the Brits need to ramp up day care efforts to get the couples to monkey around. Or, try some Taylor Swift.

Now, back to the squirrels. The life span of a squirrel is long – up to 18 years. Unless, of course, you happen to sit too long on a busy street. Baby squirrels are called “kittens”, and although many people think they are pests, they actually help reforest our land. They don’t need romantic music to get them in the mood to mate, nor are they in danger of being kidnapped. Unlike our enlightened male monkeys, momma squirrels shoulder most of their infants’ care, while dad’s out counting his nuts. Amazingly, both parents can find food under a foot of snow.

The paper will arrive in my mailbox tomorrow. I’ll let you know if anything needs reporting. Until then, squirrel away a few coins for a rainy day and monkey around if you get the chance.

The Swedes Have Gone Ape#@%&!


According to the December 30th issue of The Week, the folks in Galva’s sister city, Gavle, Sweden have created their own version of The Planet of the Apes. However, this time, the Apes lost. Apparently seven chimpanzees escaped their confines and took over the “great ape house” creating quite a stir. So much so, that zoo officials shot and killed four of the rogue primates, thus containing the insurrection. Appalled Swedes voiced their displeasure by condemning the action, insisting that tranquilizer bullets would have been much more appropriate. Zoo officials disagreed, claiming that the chimps were dangerous and put people’s lives at risk. It was also noted in the article that one of the slain chimps had made headlines several years ago by hoarding rocks and then throwing them at zoo goers. There was no mention of any uprising in the Lutefisk exhibit.

150 Words or Less – Dear Santa


This year, please – I wish for Democracy to prevail, school shootings to end, a big increase in local retail sales, science to win over politics, rest and safety for health care workers, local charities to overflow with donations, truth in our history classes, the Proud Boys to disband, warm shelter for the homeless, antivaxxers to do the right thing, food pantries to overflow, an end to gerrymandering, more low cost or free options for spaying and neutering animals, an end to villainizing the victims of abuse and sexual assault, relief for those in tornado ravaged towns, rain for the drought ridden areas, Black lives to matter, protection and validation of Roe v Wade, the Post Office to stay in business, successful hot lines for those in crisis, kindness to wait staff and store clerks, protected voting rights, appreciation for our teachers and please! get the Democrats to pull together.

175 Words or Less; Give it Your Best Shot


Facebook ads seem to appear more often that posts from my friends. And certainly more often than the cute cat videos that I love. A lot of them look legit, but I’ve learned that many are not. The hard way. The latest one for “One Shot”, the magical weight loss pill pops up more often than any other. If you’ve seen me lately (the Covid lockdown was not kind to my waistline) you probably figure I need to see a lot of these promotions. The ad boasts that you can lose something akin to 70 pounds in a matter of days. Wow. I mean, really? Furthermore, it’s purported to have been endorsed by the Shark Tank crew, who were supposed to fund it with millions. Of course, that’s unfounded. Both the figures and the sisters who brought it to the show in the first place have vanished.

Sadly, the products are selling like those hot cakes you shouldn’t eat on a diet, and Amazon is making a lot of money shipping out the pills to the overweight and gullible, who dream of a becoming a new age Twiggy in no time. Apparently, they buy any science behind the product, simply because the ads include a reality show twist. And we all know what reality show fans did to our 2016 elections.

My question is this. “If people believe the science behind this Shark Tank phenomenon enough to pay big dollars for a magic pill, why do so many doubt the science behind the Covid vaccines?” I’d think your best shot is the vaccine. And a salad. A big salad.

’twas a cat on my head this morning

'twas a cat on my head this morning
as I slumbered, unencumbered, in bed.
He rounded my pillow, and sat
settling in, like a hairy, soft hat.
Then, he started to purr, this bundle of fur
and looking, I'm certain, demure.
Soon, a tail switched over my nose
as he washed both his ears and his toes.
He moved onto my hair, quite unaware
of my protests with nary a care.
Removing him became quite a chore
as he thought it a small act of war.
I grabbed 'round his middle, as he yowled like a fiddle
and placed him down on the floor. 
Hence, he sped to the kitchen like he'd seen a bewitching
and checked out his food dish and more.
In an instant he changed, his needs rearranged
as he sped, like the wind, through the door.
No longer a tiger, or great lion fighter
he sat by his dish, looking poor.
And circling my legs, he shamelessly begs
for a treat, or a spot of my cream.
Just a minutes ago, it was fight, toe to toe
was it real, or a feline filled dream?
A scratch here and there, quickly made me aware
that, indeed, there'd been an assault.
But how could this be, as he gazed up at me
with a look of "it wasn't my fault."
So, I gathered him up in my arms, forgetting
his earlier harms,
and we sat down to try for a nap.
'twas a cat on my head this morning
and now he's asleep in my lap.

Who Wants to Make the Top 10 List?


The town where I live has a small school system. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, our 2018-19 enrollment was 512 students in total.  Our teachers work hard and are paid considerably less than those in bigger cities, and their jobs, as in many schools, requires a lot of social work in addition to teaching. Over half the students are considered low income, and in recent years, enrollment for non English speaking children has increased.

In addition to the drills for tornados and fires, the last few years have seen the need for active shooter drills. Chewing gum and passing notes are no longer a problem. Getting kids to stay quiet and pressed together to keep from being gunned down is the new worry.

And now, Covid-19. Masks, sanitizers, and thermometers will be housed near the chalk and pencil sharpener.  Students and teachers will be separated and sequestered in their rooms all day, with lunch at their desks and recess? With the CDC’s 60+ pages of guidelines mirroring the IRS tax code, it may take half the day just to get the children seated.

Betsy DeVos, the head of the Department of Education has insisted that children need to be in school this fall. She recently thought she’d provide some reassurance by declaring that “only 0.02% of children will die” once the schools start back in session.  For Galva, that means 10 students. Which ones do you think should be sacrificed? Should we chose one from each grade, just to be fair?  And those that get sick, and remain affected – what about them? Or, those who bring the virus home to parents, or grandparents – how many of those?  Miss Betsy failed to mention how many teachers would die, so that remains to be seen.

I’m wondering how many of our adult decision makers met in person to make the decisions about when, and how to open the schools. While I do not envy their job and admit that I can’t offer a better solution,  I doubt that they were in a room for 7 hours with 25 – 30 other people when they made these decisions. But, our teachers and children will be.  Five days a week.

I would be interested to know who is willing to let their child die so we can keep them all at their desks.  The first 10 who respond will win an autographed photo of Betsy.

Fiddle Dee-dee Miss O’Hara


Margaret Mitchell’s tart and tantalizing Scarlett went from indulged to forsaken during the Civil War.  She saw her world crumble as her many protectors abandoned the sprawling plantation.  Some took to the hills and deserted her.  Some just died. Trauma induced lunacy claimed others. Untethered, she faced her fate alone.  In charge of a tumbled, uncertain future; returning to Tara was her only solution.

I see our world much like Scarlett’s.  Our states are once again at odds. Our lives, previously so insulated, are now unsettled and chaotic.  As we wage war against an invisible enemy, our protections erode. Task forces come and go. Our input and gains from a global effort are lost. We’ve been deserted by the lunatic in charge of the battle, and we cling to the notion that somehow, such horror could never happen to us. We are Americans! How dare we be inconvenienced!  We, too, want to return to our former world. Our Tara.

Rhett Butler’s famous line concerning the illusion of the Confederacy’s strength comes to mind. “All we have is cotton, slaves and arrogance” he warned the zealous young enlistees. Today our lifestyle is our cotton; our conveniences our slaves. And an arrogance that promotes blind allegiance to anything that speaks to our fears; a modern bravado that seeks out easy solutions to perceived threats. Those that find reality too difficult, or inconvenient, cling to theories that feed their need for security. Bizarre conspiracies posted on line, or twitter feeds at midnight go down easier than hard science. Rating-crazy talking heads spew out the latest disinformation, no longer thwarted by the need to fact check.  Those in the usual role model positions indicate one thing, and do another.  Analyze? Not any more. It’s now rationalize and sensationalize.  Facing facts means getting them. Not those alternative ones. The scientifically based facts.

And the facts tell us that we are dying. By the thousands. That increasing exposure by liberating our communities will increase the death toll. That those in charge have no plan other than to inspire the enemy.  And the voters. And the donors.

Clearly, we are on our own. Tara was, and is, a myth. But this virus is not. We will never be able to go home again. Not completely.

So, give a damn. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And get your affairs in order. The winds are changing…


Winning the Race and Losing the Battle


Today, America is number one. Not in science. Not in healthcare. Not in climate control. Not in manufacturing. But, we are number one in Covid-19 cases.  Whether or not other countries have fewer or more, is not the point.  As of today, one million people are infected.  Fifty-five thousand are dead. And while some areas of the country have seen a leveling of numbers, people are still contracting the virus.  And the death count will continue.

Being far from the big city can give us small towners a false sense of security.  But we must take heed. The pandemics of the past hit cities first and then rolled into rural areas.  And round two was far more virulent than the first one. It’s quite possible that this pandemic could get worse, before it ever gets better.

Americans tend to feel indestructible. We’ve ridden a wave of success, domination and power since our forefathers created our republic.  Not so much any more. We’ve taken a back seat to Europe and Asia in the current war against an elusive virus. This time, we’re all soldiers, with little or imperfect ammunition and no Eisenhower or Patton to lead the charge. We all must do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

A new world is, indeed, on the horizon. But new isn’t always better. Everything about our world has changed. It will be a long time before we can right this ship, if indeed, we can survive the storm.

150 Words, or Less – “Give ’em Five”


Americans have always been generous.  They donate, tip and volunteer more than any other country.  Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy shows that, in 2018, donations totaled  nearly $428,000,000,000. Tax law changes hurt some, as giving was down 4% from the year before. But the country still gave.

It is estimated that 6 in 10 Americans donated something in 2019, with individuals over the age of 55 giving the most.  Corporations provide the largest share, with foundations in second place and individuals coming in third. Wherever it comes from, charitable giving keeps the country going. It assists schools, the environment, the arts and the needy.  Without it, important programs and safeguards would disappear.

Local charities are suffering. Agencies that serve our communities need your help.  Families are hurting. Fund raisers have been shelved. Donations have plummeted. Consider choosing 5 favorite charities and send them each $5.00. Every month. If 100 do this, that’s $6,000/yr for each one. Give now. Please.

150 words, or Less. Elephant Has Left the Room


I grew up with Republicans. The ancient ones. The “fiscally conservative/socially moderate” folks. People like Eisenhower, who built the Interstate System, continued the New Deal and expanded Social Security.  Nixon, who resigned in disgrace, still eased Cold War tensions, ended the draft, formed the EPA, created the first affirmative action program, enforced desegregation, saw the passage of the Clean Water Act and implemented Supplemental Social Security for the needy. Closer to home, Everett Dirksen, war monger that he was, also fought to create the Civil Rights Acts of ’64 and ’68. The Rockefellers were probably the best example. They favored big business and Wall Street, but supported Unions, the building trades, and government spending on the environment, healthcare and higher education.  Six decades ago, the GOP fought for Civil Rights, Gender Equality, welfare programs and environmental protections.  I miss those people.  Their old, familiar elephant is now in a museum. Next to integrity.