Lucky

Unlike most people, fallout from The Bob has left me largely untouched, so much so, that when people tell me about things like the problems in India, I have to stop and think, and then I remember. Oh, yeah — there’s a pandemic going on.

India is dealing with heavy death tolls. Other countries have stringent curfews to help prevent heavy death tolls. But here in my almost forgotten corner of Colorado, there have been a few deaths, some even, that have affected friends, but mostly, we’ve been spared a lot of the agony the rest of the world has experienced. Oddly, though, the last two months of 2019 saw an upsurge of a horrific and devastating illness being spread here in this county. Back then, The Bob hadn’t yet been identified in the United States, so people were told they had a bad case of the flu, though in retrospect, at least a couple of doctors changed their diagnoses. All the symptoms these people had matched The Bob symptoms, even to the severity, the aftereffects, the collateral problems and complications.

By the time the official restrictions in the state were put into place, I’d already been curtailing my activities to keep from getting that abysmal flu. Even though no curfew was ever in place here, I had my own curfew. (To be honest, it wasn’t disease related — I generally save my wanderings, such as they are, for daylight hours.)

So basically, I’ve just lived my life as if there were no dread disease floating around. I do wear a mask when I’m in stores or at the library, and I probably would wear it elsewhere if I were ever around groups of people, but for the most part, I only have contact with a couple of people.

Because of this, because of the prevalence of the vaccine, because the library is open, and because I am boycotting the news, I hadn’t given much recent thought to The Bob. I guess since it hadn’t really affected me, I more or less figured that it was pretty much under control around here, but apparently it’s still rampant. This coming week there was supposed to be a town fair and celebration, but it has now been cancelled because of an upsurge in the number of Bob cases in the schools.

I hope you know I’m not making light of anyone’s problems that stemmed from The Bob. I’m aware that a lot of people have been affected in disastrous ways, and I am truly sorry for that. At some point, I might even be one of those people; the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of being affected in some way, and not just because a local festival and parade has been cancelled.

So far I’ve been lucky. Lucky that I haven’t gotten sick — with anything! (Amazing how staying away from people keeps one away from all sorts of contagious diseases.) Lucky that I can do so well without a lot of contact with people. And lucky, too, that a lot of what contact I have is via this blog — I can talk about what’s on my mind, and though it’s often a one-sided conversation, it serves its purpose of making me feel connected to the rest of the world.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Hat Head

People often tell me how lucky I am that I have a hat head so that I look good in hats. I’m not sure what’s lucky about that — I would wear them anyway. My hats were never a fashion statement. I’ve always worn hats outside, for warmth in the winter and for coolness in the summer. That the hats became anything more, turning me into a woman people refer to as “Pat in the Hat,” was sheer happenstance.

My sister is very creative, and the bows she puts on gifts are works of art. I never knew what to do with them except to reuse for my own gift-giving, so I always carefully packed them away. One day, I’d dropped my hat on the table by one of her ribbon and bow creations I’d removed from a gift, and just for fun, I slipped the bow around the crown of the hat. I probably never would have given decorating hats another thought, except that after a few days, the ribbon disappeared. It had been a windy day, and my surmise is that the bow had blown off. I retraced my steps again and again, and I never did find it. This was shortly after Jeff died, when any loss, even the loss of a ribbon threw me back into full grief mode.

I eventually used another ribbon for the hat, more to make myself feel better (at least there was one thing I could replace!). Then, when that hat wore out, I went shopping for others. The irony is that if anything makes me look good in hats it’s that I have a relatively small head, so the hat more or less balances things out, but most hats are way too big for me. So I got in the habit of collecting the hats as well as ribbons and bows, so that I would always have a hat to wear.

Over the years, it’s become an identifying factor, but the truth is, everyone looks good in hats. It’s just a matter of finding the right style to fit one’s head and frame one’s face. In fact, most church-going women of a certain age have an assortment of hats to wear to church, and as far as I know, no one ever went up to one of these women and said, “Oh, my. You look terrible in hats!” Because they didn’t look terrible. They looked dressed up.

The real issue seems to be “hat head” of a different sort, so called because when one removes a hat, one’s hair is mashed down, making it very obvious that one had been wearing a hat.

I’ve never really cared. I walk so much (or used to until the knee issues showed up) so it was always more important for me to be comfortable.

Being known as “Pat in the Hat” has its advantages. It’s easy for people to remember my name, and if anyone has a nice hat they want to get rid of, they know exactly who to give it to. And, of course, hats are a good conversation opener. Everyone notices my hats.

So maybe it’s not so much that I’m lucky to have a hat head, but that I don’t mind having hat head after I remove the hat.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Conjuring Literary Genius

I’m reading a book based on the premise that there was a previous version of Macbeth using an actual witch’s spell, but because the spell conjured up real evil during rehearsals, Shakespeare hurriedly rewrote the witches’ scenes. The story also postulates that Shakespeare had observed such a rite, and in fact, the rite was done to imbue him with literary genius.

Despite the pseudo-scholarliness of the book, I doubt there’s any way for anyone to know the truth of the legend — after all, those whose life work is a study of Shakespeare and his writings can’t even decide who Shakespeare was and if he did in fact write all that is attributed to him. Nor is there any way to know if he was divinely inspired, if his gift was an inborn one, or if it was magically conjured up. (Apparently, a lot of cauldron spells and conjuring had to do with gaining knowledge and inspiration.) And not everyone believes he is a literary genius. After all, he wrote for the lowest common denominator in his day, and though that might have conferred a special literary prowess on him, it doesn’t necessarily make him a genius.

All you have to do is look at the writers today who have earned great success by writing rather mediocre or even passably literate novels, to realize that success doesn’t necessarily equate to great writing. (Does anyone think the Shades of Gray books are literary or or even passably literate?)

All of this has led me to wonder about a modern-day Shakespeare wannabe. What if a successful literary hack wants it all — not just the wealth that comes from selling books to the masses, but also wants to be acclaimed as a literary genius. So she tracks down Shakespeare’s spell, and even though it might entail a blood sacrifice, as well as other criminal offenses, she goes through the rite and ends up a literary genius.

The only problem is, who today would even recognize literary genius? Her lowest-common-denominator readers certainly wouldn’t, and in fact, they’d abandon her in droves because they wouldn’t be able to figure out what the heck she’s talking about. To be honest, neither would I. There have been several books over the years that I thought were pure bunk even though they had been hailed as genius and ended up winning all the major awards.

So, in typical fairytale fashion, what would really happen is that the author who wanted it all would end up in prison with nothing because not only would people not find her new style inspiring, they wouldn’t approve of how she got it. Well, some people would think the end justifies the means, but even they wouldn’t appreciate her literary genius.

I guess the moral of the story (at least for me as a writer) is to leave well enough alone. Although it would be nice to be hailed as a literary genius and a brilliant writer, it would be even nicer to be able to sleep at night. Though selling a few more books than I do would be good.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Blogworthy

I’ve fallen into a weird sort of alter world when it comes to reading. Every book I pick up now seems to be a reflection of other recently read books, or a continuation of a series, no matter who the authors are and how far apart the books were published.

For example, two books I read one right after the other were of the “doctor in peril” genre, with both doctors being plastic surgeons who used the money they made from fixing the faces of rich women to fix various problems of poor kids, such as repairing a cleft lip. In both cases, the doctors were framed for murder by someone who misunderstood them and misidentified them and wanted revenge. Oddly, the doctors in both books had a similar name — in fact there were only a couple of letters difference between the names. A third book I read about that same time was of the same genre, but the doctor wasn’t a plastic and had a completely different name.

I’m not sure how that happened — I certainly didn’t go searching for doctors-in-peril thrillers; mostly when I am at the library, I pick books at random, either because I like the title or it’s by an author I can bear to read. (Though there aren’t any authors I truly like, there are way too many I can’t tolerate.)

The next time I got a batch of books, two of them were about women who “adopted” a fertilized egg from someone who wasn’t going to use them, and so they gave birth but the child wasn’t their genetic offspring.

In that same batch of books, was the story of an athlete who had his career cut short through bad luck. Years later, he found out he had a child. He had donated sperm, and the clerk in the sperm bank wanted his baby, so she got inseminated.

A few weeks later, I read a book in a series about an athlete who got his pro career cut short because of bad luck. Throughout the story, he kept referring to the son he had recently met, a son who’d been conceived by the clerk in a sperm bank. I kept nodding my head remembering that I had read the previous book in the series where he discovered his son, when suddenly I realized the book where the athlete had discovered his son was a completely different series, written by another author in completely different genre. (One was a paranormal/horror version of a fairy tale; one was a thriller. And yes, my reading does range that widely since I read whatever comes my way.)

Every book I read now seems a continuation of all previous books. Normally, I’d consider this to be a case of having misspent my life reading. I’ve read tens of thousands of books — all genres of fiction and all subject matters of non-fiction — so almost all books are familiar in some sense. There aren’t many books that tell completely new stories. (I tried to do that with my books, and not surprisingly, people who read sporadically find them hard to read, while people who read a lot seem to enjoy them.) And yet, these books that seem a continuation of all others are ones I’ve picked up in recent weeks.

It’s not a big deal — it’s certainly not creepy enough to get me to stop reading — but I do find the experience blogworthy.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Warm World View

I’ve been feeling good today — lighthearted, actually. Although I often write (or at least infer) that I am happy, I am actually more contented than happy (since to me, being happy connotes a bit of giddiness perhaps). Being lighthearted is something else, though I’m not sure what the difference is except that today I feel . . . lighter . . . than I generally do.

Part of this feeling of lightness has to do with the blue skies and warm sun. Even a chill wind doesn’t offset the pleasure of an otherwise nice day.

Part of the feeling of lightness has to do with being out and about on foot. I’d run (walked, rather) an errand this morning, and I still felt strong, so I headed to the grocery store to pick up a couple of items. I was almost there when I felt a twinge in my right knee. [The right knee started out being my bad knee since I’d damaged it a few years ago doing ballet exercises. Then, after it healed, I woke one morning with the left knee out of kilter. That’s the knee — the bad knee — that caused me so much trouble a year ago. But now, the left knee seems to be doing better, and the right knee seems to be the bad knee. Sheesh.] I wasn’t worried about getting back home. The store is about a half a mile away, and I knew I’d make it back okay if I only picked up the two or three things I needed.

Another part of the feeling of lightness has to do with living in a small town. Because this is such a small town, I always seem to meet someone I know at the store, and today was no different. My friend offered me a ride, and because of my knee (and because my car issues have kept me from being able to do any real grocery shopping), I accepted. We had a lovely time wandering the aisles together (I even found pequin powder, a rare item I thought I’d have to order online), with her filling up one section of the cart, me the other.

When I got home, I still had that same feeling — the lighthearted feeling I mentioned above.

It seems odd to me that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I feel at home here, whether I am out walking, meeting people at the grocery store, or waving back at the folks who wave to me as they pass by in their cars. Sometimes I think I’m living in a fool’s paradise, but I never feel in danger. Nor do I know of a lot of truly bad things that happen here. Oh, there is petty crime, but any violence is with people who know one another, not stranger to stranger. People seem to look out for one another, to be casually friendly without being annoyingly in-your-face.

Mostly, I think, I feel good about this place because I’ve stopped believing in the Mean World.

The idea of Mean World Syndrome has been around since the 1980s and basically postulates that the more one watches television (and, since these are the internet days, the more one pays attention to social networking sites and online news sources) the more one comes to accept that the world is much meaner than it actually is. It’s no surprise that fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, and agree more quickly to hardline safety measures. This sort of programming reinforces people’s worst fears, so they tend to react more quickly and more aggressively to slights. Even worse, people are hard-wired for compassion, and the Mean World Syndrome tends to circumvent that, so we end up with a cynical population rather than a compassionate one.

I think I first noticed this (without knowing the name of the syndrome) back when I was in the hospital after I destroyed my arm. That was one of those times when the whole country was up at arms (literally) about racism and immigration. But there I was, in a hospital, totally dependent upon people of various skin colors and nationalities, and they all seemed to get along, and all treated me well. In fact, the only negative comment came from a white nurse who said to another in my hearing, “Doesn’t she ever exercise?” The other woman said, “Didn’t you know? She fell after a dance performance.”

As you can see, the experience left me feeling almost as confused as my trip through the old south, where racial tensions seemed almost non-existent compared to the hype, and not at all like the aggression I was used to from those living in the gang-ridden area near where I had been staying in California.

I much prefer a Warm World View (nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with feeling warmly about one’s surroundings and the people that inhabit those environs). I’m not naïve; I do know bad things happen — I have even experienced bad things — but I also know they don’t happen anywhere near as often as we are led to believe. That the bad things are real, doesn’t matter. When I was growing up, the world seemed safer, not because it was (to be honest, it wasn’t — we lived in a fringe neighborhood where our bikes were stolen, property was vandalized, and my brothers were beaten up). The difference was the relative lack, back then, of non-local news (world news was but a small subsection of the news), a relatively small media group, a relatively short period dedicated to the news. Now that the news media is huge and constant, so is the need for product. So something bad happening halfway across the country — or the world — is broadcast as if it is an immediate danger to us all and so creates fear in everyone.

I don’t watch the news — won’t watch the news even if I have an opportunity — for this very reason. I don’t follow news sources online, don’t participate in social sites except to post a link to this blog (in the case of Facebook, I post a link to a post that links to this blog, since I’m still considered persona non grata), and I shy away from any discussions of today’s issues. Those issues aren’t my issues. My issues are local. My issues contribute to a Warm World View, to compassion and calmness.

And yes, to the lightheartedness I feel today.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Moldy Blueberries

I sometimes watch Judge Judy with the woman I help care for, and one thing I’ve learned from the show is that often the people on both sides of the case deserve each other. If the person at fault would simply own to up to the fault, or if they’d at least offer to help defray the costs of their part in the fiasco, there would be no problem. And if the person who thinks s/he was wronged would be willing to compromise, then again there would be no problem. But if both blame the other, if both want what they think they are owed (rather than what they really are owed), then there is a problem. So parents sue their offspring. Grown children sue their parents. Friends and roommates sue each other. All because they can’t sit down like the adults they pretend to be, and figure things out. So they go before Judge Judy and let her harangue them.

Another thing I’ve learned is that when money is involved, people always believe they deserve it. If someone lends a friend or relative or significant other a sum of money, whether or not actual terms of repayment are discussed, the lendees (at least the ones on the show) believe they don’t need to pay it back. Often the friend or ex-lover or whoever doesn’t actually ask to borrow the money, but he or she whines piteously to the lender, and because the lender either wants to help or wants the lendee to shut up, the friend offers to lend the money. And because the lendee didn’t come right out and ask for the money, the lendee thinks s/he has no obligation in the matter. (I have had experience in this sort of thing. A relative used to call me up and whine and whine about her financial problems, and because I felt bad for her — and wanted to shut her up — I’d lend her money, and she was always shocked when I asked her to repay it because, as she said, “I never asked you for it.”)

Then there are all the tenant and landlord disagreements. So often I find both people in the wrong, even though I should side with the tenants because I’m one of those who seldom got my deposit back — the landlords always took out money to pay for normal wear and tear rather than for anything I did. (I mean, if you live somewhere for twenty years, as Jeff and I did, there will be a lot of wear and tear, as well as a carpet that needs to be cleaned, rather than actual damages.) Since I’m not litigious, my modus operandi when dealing with landlords was to make sure the deposit was never more than I could afford to lose.

Some of the issues on the show have to deal with products bought or sold, such as vehicles or collectables: a case not just of “buyer beware,” but also “seller beware.” Which is why I have a garage full of things I should/could sell, but I don’t trust people enough to do a long-distance transaction.

And of course, there are a lot of problems with contractors, mechanics, and other fee-for-service businesses who take the fees and don’t do the service. The hirers might not have a choice who they get to work for them, especially in areas with limited services, but there has never been a single one of these cases where I would have ever hired the worker. Their shifty-eyes and fake smiles, if nothing else, would make me back away, though I have been cheated by car mechanics, and as anyone who has read any of my posts about fixing up my house and yard knows, I have a contractor who sometimes comes to work for me, sometimes doesn’t. Mostly I try to make sure I never pay him too much in advance, not because I don’t trust him, but because I don’t trust life. If something happens to him, and he still owes me work, I would never, could never go to his widow and the mother of his small children and demand a refund. She’d have more than enough to contend with in that situation.

There was only one show I saw where neither party was to blame and both were victims. The defendant was driving by the plaintiff’s house when the defendant was shot by an unknown person, and because he lost control of his car, he rammed into the plaintiff’s vehicle and totaled it. The plaintiff sued the defendant because he needed a new car and the defendant’s insurance company refused to pay on the grounds that the driver wasn’t the proximate cause of the accident. Yikes.

As you can see, I cannot even watch a silly television show without trying to learn a life lesson, and what I’ve learned — as I said — is that so often people deserve each other.

After all, moldy blueberries tend to attract other moldy blueberries.

It’s the moldy blueberry analogy that I’ve been smiling about lately and what actually prompted this post. In that particular case, a mother gave her teenage son a car for his use, and because the son was drinking and getting high with some buddies and was too wasted to drive, he lent the vehicle to a still-sober friend so the friend could go and get some treats. It was snowing, the streets were slick, and the driver got in an accident. The mother was suing the friend for damages to the car.

You’d recognize the friend — oh, not by name of course, but by type. He’s every ostensibly clean-cut, self-righteous rich kid in every teenage movie you’ve ever seen. He of course didn’t think he was to blame; after all, he wasn’t the one drinking or taking drugs.

So Judge Judy compared his situation to moldy blueberries. She mentioned that when customers are looking to purchase blueberries, if they see even a single moldy blueberry in the carton, the customers won’t buy the carton because they know that mold spreads.

The rest of the show, she never called the co-defendant (the son who lent the car) by name, only called him “the moldy blueberry.”

That, in the end, is the main thing I’ve learned from watching the show: stay away from moldy blueberries.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Happiness and Contentment

In a book I’m reading, a character described herself as happy but not contented or satisfied. Can you be happy if you’re not content? I thought happiness and contentment were pretty much the same though, though some people equate happiness with a more robust feeling than contentment, sort of like an inner effervescence that bubbles outwardly to affect those around them.

But then, what do I know. I say I’m happy, but what I really am is at peace, contented, grateful, accepting of my life. Anything more than that, at least to me, seems to be overkill. People make a lot of effort to be happy, though happiness was never my goal in life. I was more interested in reading, learning, trying to lead a meaningful life. I do enjoy the moments of effervescence, though there’s always a letdown afterward, but I don’t live for them.

Unless I’m wrong about what happiness is?

(A pause here while I look up “happiness” in an online dictionary.)

Well, that sure was productive! According to the definition I found, happiness is the state of being happy. Sheesh. So I looked up “happy.” “Happy” is defined as an enjoyable or satisfied state of being.

Now, of course, I’m more confused. Or maybe the author of that book was. Unless by “happy” the author meant being problem-free, able to get or to do whatever one wants? The character certainly had that, at least up to the point where she was killed, ostensibly for being too happy.

I don’t suppose it really matters what happiness is, how it is defined, if we pursue it or wait until it finds us. It’s something each of us knows we have.

Actually, no. That’s not true. Studies have shown that happiness is found mainly in retrospect. When someone is involved in a challenging situation that takes all their time and energy, they don’t realize until later they were happy. In fact, often while going through this “happy” situation, people think they are decidedly unhappy.

So what does it all mean? Who knows. I don’t, and that author sure didn’t. Maybe you do?

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Tarot Update

It seems as if this month just started, as if only a couple of days ago I started using a new tarot deck, but in another couple of days, I need to pick a new deck to use during April. Well, I don’t have to use a new deck, but that’s one of the reasons for my picking a card every day and for learning the tarot — to use my deceased brother’s tarot collection.

Although I am getting familiar with the tarot, I still don’t quite see how it fits in my life. It’s supposed to be a way to get to know oneself, and unless I am extremely obtuse, I’m not learning anything I don’t already know. Most people think of the tarot as a way of learning the future, or at least how to decide to go forward into the future, but that also doesn’t seem to fit with my life. Partly, of course, I don’t want to know. And partly, I already know the future, if not in specifics, then in general. If the past is anything to go by, the future will bring good things to my life, and it will bring a lot of not so good things. Either way, the knowing isn’t important — it’s being able to deal with what comes that’s important, and the lessons I’ve learned from grief lessons tell me I’ll find a way to accept whatever happens.

Besides, even if the purpose of the tarot was to learn the future, it’s nothing special. We can all learn what the future holds just by living. I mean, tomorrow is today’s future, and when I wake up tomorrow, I will know what the future holds. To a certain extent, anyway. Sometimes things change drastically from morning until night, witness all the people who woke up fine and ended up with The Bob by the evening.

Still, although a deep psychic connection with the tarot eludes me (perhaps because any psychic powers I might have are rather weak), I am continuing with my studies.

To date, the deck I like the most is this month’s deck, The Tarot of the Stars. It’s larger than most, which was a problem until I figured out how to shuffle them, and they aren’t slick enough to easily fan out, but other than that, they seem to be a quintessential tarot deck, with plenty of symbolism if I ever get into that aspect, as well as a key word to help figure out the meaning.

Today’s card was the magician, which is about knowledge, willpower, ability, eloquence, beginnings. It’s about harnessing the magician’s power to create the world you want. It’s about a lot of other things too, depending on whose interpretation you go by, but this brief interpretation seems to fit this particular card.

I still have a couple of dozen decks to try out to see if they speak to me, but so far, this is the closest. Oddly, it’s also the one I gravitated toward at the beginning when I first unpacked the decks, but since the instruction booklet that came with the deck is in an obscure dialect of Italian, I couldn’t use the cards until I developed my own guidebook. Once I’ve gone through all the decks, once I’ve gone through all the cards (some cards still haven’t shown up in my daily reading, though I’ve been doing this since July), and once I’ve started doing multi-card readings and need something to do on the off days (you’re not supposed to do a daily spread for oneself, though I know why) and need something to do the off days, I might try to translate the book via Word and Google.

Meantime, there are still two more days of enjoying this deck before I have the onerous task of picking a new one.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Letting Life Do What It Wills

Perhaps, as some people have suggested, I think about getting old too much, but when one is alone, there won’t be anyone to help when the time comes, so it’s important that I think about these things and make plans when I can. It’s not that I am specifically preparing for old age, but anything I have to do the house, I make sure it will accommodate me if I develop problems.

I’m not the only one who, when changes have to be made, make those changes with age in mind. That these people are generally widows or widowers might have something to do with it, perhaps because we know how life can change in an instant. I haven’t broached this subject enough to know the truth of it, but those I know who are still mated don’t think about these things as much as we who are alone.

My preparations started back when I was healing from a devastating arm/elbow injury. The surgeon told me there was nothing I could do to hurt the arm but that others could, so he cautioned about letting people get hold of my hand or arm. And he told me, flat out, “Don’t fall.” To that end, I removed any loose throw rugs, which are some of the most common fall hazards, and I made sure that my shower has hand rails since bathing and showering are dangerous not only to older folks, but to anyone.

It’s not that I’m paranoid; I’m simply aware of fall hazards. Besides, it’s so much easier to remain healthy if one remains upright. Too many older people begin a downward spiral after a fall.

The workers who come (occasionally, anyway) to help fix up my house and yard understand my wariness because they have elderly mothers with mobility issues. In fact, the fellow who came today brought his mother’s wheeled walker to make sure the paths we (I say “we” as if I am doing part of the work, though I am merely the check writer) are putting in are wide enough for walker use. To be honest, I don’t intend ever to have to use a walker, but neither did anyone who now needs one. It’s just that if I am going through all the trouble and expense of making my yard not just attractive but safe, I might as well look to the future and do the job once rather than finding out in decrepit old age that the paths are too narrow to do me any good.

The walkers with a seat are really great; I wish my father had consented to use one. He did walk inside the house, but he refused to walk outside. He said he got too tired. But if he had used a walker, he could have gone for a pleasant walk and then rested before he returned home.

Again, it’s not that I am planning on being decrepit; in fact, I am doing whatever I can to ensure that I’m won’t be, but life has a way of turning out vastly different from what we planned. By doing this work now, I can forget about it and let life do what it wills.

Of course, I reserve the right to whine if my life turns out to be something other than what I might wish for.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Does Anyone Ever Win a War?

In the book I am currently reading, two of the characters are talking about wars generally as well as World War II specifically. About the latter, one fellow says with great satisfaction, “We won that one.” The other responded, “So they say.”

Which makes me wonder: does anyone ever win a war? I know what we are supposed to believe, that yes, wars are won, but when you count up all the losses, can even a significant victory be considered a victory?

Which then led me to remember those times when soldiers killed innocent people. In a war, is anyone innocent? Is anyone guilty? Aren’t the soldiers innocent, too, at least those who were drafted? You force a kid to fight, you arm him or her, send her into battle when perhaps all the kid wants to do is sit and read or play football or watch movies, and then the leaders of the countries — the only ones who should bear the guilt of war — sit back and play a war game with real people. So, from that stand point, aren’t the draftees innocent, too?

It always irritates me when people say humans are a war-loving lot, because the truth is, most of us abhor violence and wars and being forced to do what we don’t want to do. When the draft was instigated in WWI, many of the draftees simply ignored the notices. The war had nothing to do with them or with protecting their families, their counties, their states, and they had more important things to do, such as raising crops or raising a family or perhaps even raising Cain in a localized manner. To force these kids to do their duty, the government took action and went after the slackers. Even those who registered as conscientious objectors were thrown into prison, where some died of the privations and harsh discipline

Sometimes, those who didn’t want to go to war were coerced to register by the women who, of course, didn’t have to go to war and who believed the romantic ideal of war that was being propagated.

I never considered those who enlisted as innocent, especially in recent years, because they should have known what they were getting into, but considering the ongoing propaganda, the lies that were told to get folks to enlist (that they can choose their assignments, they can learn the trade they want, that it’s simply a job opportunity, that that it’s primarily a way to earn their way into an educational system), and even the court involvement (being given a choice of jail or the military) I don’t even know any more about the innocence or guilt of the enlistees.

As for our natural human propensity for killing: In WWII, the kill rate was low, with many of the soldiers firing wildly on purpose, or not firing at all, so the war-mongering leaders set out to fix that. The simplest and least intrusive way was simply to switch the classic round target with the silhouette of a person, but some people were also subjected to various war games (the origin of video games) and by the time Vietnam came around, the kill rate was high, and the number of people refusing to shoot was low.

So who here is innocent? Who is guilty? Who won?

I don’t know the answer. I don’t imagine anyone does.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.