Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Do you remember when Dorothy pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz, only to reveal someone pretending to be GREAT AND POWERFUL?  Later she said to him, “Oh, you are a very bad man!”  The Emerald City has revealed to be an illusion and there are many scary screaming monkeys flying around us with Camp Auschwitz t-shirts, zip ties and pipe bombs.  On a very darkly funny note, the t-shirts were sold on ETSY and are no longer available.  ETSY, really?

We have to be strong, like Dorothy and her companions.  Brave, Smart, Determined and full of Heart.  Europe and the rest of the world have been dealing with domestic terrorism for eons, so there is nothing unique about our situation.  Remember the tragic bombing at the mosque in New Zealand; the most unexpected of places?  We take stock, grieve the dead and learn a lesson.  The saddest memorial I have ever encountered is for the Oklahoma City Bombing.  I couldn’t get the image of the little chairs for the innocent children in the creche who died.

In all society there are extremists of every type – anarchists, religious zealots and Neo Nazis to name a few.  My late father-in-law will be turning in his grave after his efforts in WWII may have been in vain.  Despite spending 5 years in a POW camp in eastern Germany, he lived a long full life before dying at 93.  His heart was full of forgiveness for the people of Germany and he visited many times after the war.

My neighbors in Egypt went out of their way to protect me when the war broke out.  They wouldn’t tolerate anyone treating me with disrespect even though I drove them crazy rescuing wild animals. 

Most people are good.  Most people are good.  Most people are good.

Keep repeating that as a mantra.  The criminals will be punished and we, as a nation, are shamed.  Humility is a positive quality.  We have looked in the mirror and recoiled.

Let’s stop telling the rest of the world how to run their democracies and countries.  We can work with the UN to help stop the worst of global crimes such as ethnic cleansing.  No one political party or philosophy is entirely guilty or innocent.  Follow the Yellow Brick Road to find our decent core; we can be good but we don’t need to be great.  Now is the time to be strong and kind.  Remember that we all live in glass houses before we cast figurative stones.

The Dystopian State of Texas – 2038

My favorite reading genre is science fiction.  This is just a tale of the future inspired by current events.  It is written in the first person.

Map key

Red line – fortified wall between Texas and Mexico

Green line – almost impenetrable forest between Texas and The Louisiana Wasteland

Gray dotted line – new El Paso territory

It has been 15 years since Imperator Trump became leader of the New American Federation.  No longer the 50 United States but some 30 disparate states, many with new boundaries and names.  In 2018 we were unaware that medical and DNA facilities were collating data about our ethnicity.  Under the guise of scientific advancement, the government had colluded with the data gatherers to make America as white as possible.  Anyone with 85% white or Caucasian genes was reclassified as Pure Citizens.  All others were no longer citizens but subjects; in a caste system.  On rare occasions, subjects could pass as citizens but dare not procreate for fear of recessive genetics.  The caste system is not truly based on darkness of color but your worth to this new society.

A Nigerian doctor might be part of Caste #1 but a Guatemalan farmer could be Caste #4.  Many people of color fled after rezoning to Free States such as those in the Pacific West (formerly known as California, Oregon and Washington) or to other continents.  Curiously, white Neo-Nazis from Northern Europe and Argentina flocked to immigrate to New America and they were welcomed by Imperator Trump.  No one dare call him any other name but they can’t control our thoughts.  I am now an old woman stuck in a country I despise, the country of my birth and ancestors.  Despite my mixed blood, I have 85% Caucasian genes and look as fair as any Aryan.  My hair is snow white, my faded dark blue eyes are cloudy and my skin as fair as milk.  I am treated with veneration to my disgust; for safety I smile at all the compliments and kindness.  Even monsters have some capacity for good, don’t they?

Those subjects who were unable to escape New America now live in ghettos.  Some are better than others; just old suburban areas but clearly differentiated.  No one from Caste #1 can marry, live or have a relationship with someone in Caste #4, for example.  Two doctors of different color in Caste #1 can marry even if one is of Chinese ethnicity and the other Mexican.  To the white citizens, they are all less than pure.  The 85%, as we are known, live in fully armed and gated communities.  A very few are similar to the Mar-a-Lago estates of the old days.  Fort Trump is an example with multi-million dollar homes, gilded from top to bottom.  Imperator style is ornate and gaudy; like one of Imperator Trump’s many casinos.

When the states separated, I hoped that democracy would prevail in Texas but “Make America White” struck a chord in a Republican State.  El Paso had always been blue and was able to create a new territory which is governed and protected by Mexico.  New Mexico, mostly Hispanic, is a Protectorate of Mexico.  Oklahoma and Arkansas merged into what they once were – Indian Territories. In this strange new world, Native Americans have retained power and sovereignty but are not Citizens.  Louisiana is a wasteland; devastated by flooding, hurricanes and poverty.  It has become a disease ridden swamp that only Cajuns and other indigenous people can survive in.

Houston too did not survive the vagaries of the increasingly turbulent weather systems.  The coastline has retreated further north and Galveston has reverted back to a sliver of sandbar.  New Houston has taken the place of Austin as State Capitol.  It is a grim city with no rainbows or sunshine.  It is full of dangerous ghettos as is South City formerly known as San Antonio.  All Spanish words are banned, so Amarillo was renamed Yellow City, a literal translation.  Many times over the years I wished I had kept my Spanish maiden name but a white name kept me safe.  I whisper it under my breath to remind myself of who I am.

So why didn’t I escape to Mexico or Pacific West?  By the time I realized that Texas would succumb, I was a widow and too frail.  I live in the Big Thicket in the same house that I always did.  The forest has encroached and the roads are barely passable.  The ocean is much closer than it used to be and you can smell the ozone on the breeze.  Since I was stuck inside the New Federation and inconspicuous, I have secretly volunteered for the Underground Railroad.  We are close to the Louisiana border and despite the danger many people are willing to brave their lives just for a chance at freedom.  Small boats are guided through swamps by the Cajun Navy until they reach open water.  If they are lucky a refugee rescue boat will attempt to take them to safety.

I laugh bitterly because all we used to worry about was a wall.

Postscript

I wrote this fictional post in 2018 because of my growing alarm about the MAGA movement and Neo Nazi groups.

 

Pretending to be Lori Loughlin

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We Americans assume that the rest of the world knows our current social gossip and every other stupid thing that we do. As an aside, did you know that a thing is an old English/Frisian word which means a gathering?  The title of this post refers to an actress with less dramatic skills than me who has made a fortune making Hallmark movies.  How to explain Hallmark movies? Shmaltzy movies where there is always a happy ending and they use the same actors again and again.  It so confusing when you think, “wasn’t she in Alaska last week with creepily handsome veterinarian?”  Now she is in a Cajun Christmas where they all eat turducken. It’s not just Icelanders who eat gross food…

Lori Loughlin was recently jailed for a ludicrously short period of time for committing fraud to get her underachieving kids into a good college.  LOTS of money was involved and there were other famous perps such as Felicity Huffman who shamefully decided to admit her guilt and take the punishment.  Is it just me or did anyone else admire Martha Stewart’s chutzpah when she just admitted her guilt to insider trading and went straight to prison?  When released, she walked out, head held high, with a handknitted poncho.  Who knew she would be Snoop Dogg’s Bubala? If you are wondering about the Yiddish words, one of my DNA sites revealed, at Christmas, that I am now 1% Ashkenazi Jew.  I am embracing all parts of my heritage and I really love Yiddish words – they have that onomatopoeic quality to them.

Why am I pretending to be Lori Loughlin?  Having looked through the provisional list of who gets vaccinated in Texas: I am right at the bottom in Group D.  That means I will probably have to stay in personal lockdown until April or May.  Batshit crazy does not count for anything nor do dodgy cysts in lungs.  Teddy might be included in one group of essential workers because he works in Energy. 

Just like Lori Loughlin I am also going to prison, figuratively, for the next four months or so, and will I do any of the life affirming challenges I set myself? No and **** No.  I really tried in 2020.  I wrote funny blogs, I was positive, friendly, checked on elderly family and friends.  At first, I lost weight and exercised.  One of my neighbors said, ‘there was not a pick on me’ – a chicken reference.  I could not bring myself to mix socially so gave ALL of my attention to Teddy.  Sometimes I played BOO, other times I walked towards him like a penguin and tried every conceivable way to make him laugh in a difficult time.

Meanwhile I was not processing that I had lost all my contract work with no hope of any more for some years (and how that would affect my self-esteem).  I had no inclination to work with the public although I bow down to those that did.  My OCD made it impossible for me to be rational about the pandemic.  Still wiping down all the packages with disinfectant wipes, even the squirrels’ food.  After the summer my mental health faltered in increments, not helped by forgetting to eat but not forgetting to drink…

What I really want to know is, will you still write to me?  Physical visits are out but I need some contact with the world.  I might create some more Vlogs since Sit Down Comedy was well received.  It was exhilarating putting on some makeup and washing my hair – Woo Hoo!  I met one of my neighbors in the street and she seemed concerned that I would continue (post vaccination) to be social or even host parties.  I said yes but I don’t think it was the truth.  Just like everyone else, I have changed profoundly during 2020.  I hope I am not less kind but perhaps a little less compliant.  Do I really need more societal contact or do I need to live a solitary life better? 

I hate to be the one that says it but I really think life will get worse before it gets better and we will be wearing masks for much longer than we think (if we care about other’s safety).  Those vaccinated soon will not be fully immune until the second injection and if you don’t get it, will that invite Corona virus mutations?   If you are able to, just go to prison with me, and maybe next Christmas will be worth celebrating.  If not wear a mask, long after vaccination.

Sending off to Amazon for an orange jumpsuit – only method acting for me, darlings! 

Wish for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 and keep your expectations low without giving up hope.

Sit Down Comedy

During this really terrible year, my mood has been boosted by comedy. It doesn’t matter if it is funny animal videos, comedy shows or stand up comedians. I created a wee video of me telling you a bedtime story from back in the day. The tale will be even more fun with a glass of wine, some snacks and your feet up on the sofa.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Festive Greetings to all. 💕

Just call me Isobel…

Meet Fluffles, a new temporary resident in Katniss’ old house. It makes my heart sing to see something furry enjoying it. Fluffles aka Fluffless (she keeps losing bits of her tail in skirmishes) is looking out pensively asking Nut-Mom to turn off the rain. Nut-Mom has the power to provide banquets of pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds and apple cores but not weather.

Fluffles runs up as soon as I open the back door and very politely asks for a snack. Her sometimes friends are Polar, who has bright white spots on his ears, Floppy with one ear down and Big Foot. Little gray squirrels have white markings on the back of their ears so that a predator from above thinks they are bigger than they are – bio mimicry. When it is quiet, I can sometimes hear one of them ‘chappin’ or knocking on the door.

Corn-dad provides the corn cobs which I can’t stake in the ground. I know we are not alone in our lunacy because I have been searching for squirrel furniture on the web and there is plenty of it. They usually just get an occasional treat but cold weather has arrived with a vengeance. It is hard to stay warm when it is below freezing when you were just born a few months ago. They are the glossiest squirrels for miles around with white fat tummies. The video below will explain the title.

Sincere thanks to Janey Godley for keeping me amused in this crazy time!

Red, White and Southern

This is what Christmas decorations look like in our township – fresh flowers and a huge tree! We live on the cusp of the subtropics and the piney woods area of Texas. On the day that I took these photographs it was glorious. Cool, for us, and bright sunshine.

Isn’t that Veranda just perfect for sippin’ something southern? It is really the Tommy Bahamas’ store and restaurant and you can sip whatever you want on the back patio looking at the Christmas tree.

I liked this modern installation of birch trees and Cardinals. We don’t really have birch trees like that but we do have plenty of little Cardinals.

Flowers and greenery everywhere!

Just one more shot of the Christmas tree that shows how very high it is. Finally we got lovely new Fake Grass! It is impossible to keep our Augustine grass alive in winter – it naturally dies back and goes green in Spring.

Egyptian visitors at the pond

There has been a curious mystery at our pond for the last few weeks.  There were three little ducklings swimming alone in the middle of the water.  The Whistling ducks have gone to Latin America – would they leave their ducklings behind?  It would be strange as they are the helicopter parents of the duck/goose world.

JUVENILE WHISTLING DUCKS

Then I noticed we had a lovely dove gray Muscovy duck that I assumed was a daughter in law to the extended family.  Was she a flighty young mum, ignoring her ducklings?

UNUSUAL DOVE GRAY MUSCOVY DUCK – AKA DAUGHTER IN LAW

When I walked with Teddy to the pond on Sunday we spotted new visitors. We have a pair of Egyptian Geese which are an invasive species.

EGYPTIAN GEESE

I watched their relationship with our adored Muscovy Ducks but all seemed well.  To be honest our Muscovy ducks are bruisers, more than ready for the pot, as they would be in Mexico.  They look like those Mexican wrestlers with a mask on so I didn’t think the Egyptian Geese would bother them.  I recognized the geese but couldn’t remember what they were.  Now I realize I have seen them on thousands of Egyptian papyrus and ancient carvings.

Much like the Whistling ducks they are neither ducks nor geese but a sub category most similar to Sheldrakes. Today we had an important duck/goose update when we met one of the neighbors who has named all the Muscovy ducks and who lives at the pond. Apparently the Egyptian Geese were indeed terrorists and had frightened the Muscovies on two occasions. What!! She chased them and they seem to have left the area. If I see them again I will call the Ranger. How dare they frighten our residents!!! As for the abandoned ducklings, they are just deadbeat parents…

A few years ago we had another invasive species at the pond, Nutriamama and baby are pictured above. They are a relative of the Capybara and were brought to Louisiana for the fur trade. They breed like rabbits although they look like little beavers and can decimate the vegetation that is needed for the local species. My friend saw the Forest Warden preparing to trap them and asked him, “What are you going to do with them?” Bless her heart! It was like asking the store Santa if Santa is real. The warden very kindly told her that they were being ‘relocated’ to another area.

For some more fake news see RARE TWO HEADED DUCK below

THAT’S ALL FOLKS!!!

Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza, RIP

DR. CARLOS ARAUJO-PREZA

Last night I was watching CNN news when a familiar face and name was on the screen.  In shock, I recognized my beloved lung specialist and he had died on November 30th 2020 of Covid-19.  According to the various news reports, he had worked 80 hour weeks since the Pandemic started trying to help his hospitalized patients.  As a respiratory expert he was always on the front line for Covid-19.  He was 52 with two young adult children.  He was a brilliant mind who had immigrated to the USA from El Salvador enhancing the lives of all his patients. This is the article from CNN.

He was utterly charming and warm, able to empathize and sympathize with compassion.  I first met him 8 years ago when I was the victim of a traumatic car crash.  Initially they took me to ER to check my spine as it was a rear end impact.  To everyone’s surprise the scans revealed an egg sized tumor or cyst in my chest cavity – nothing to do with the accident.  They referred me, one by one, to neurologists, a cardiac surgeon and finally to Dr. Carlos.  I was mentally traumatized by my first car accident in the USA with all the insurance shenanigans, the ludicrous medical bills and then the unexpected tumor/cyst.  The cardiac surgeon said that they normally surgically removed cysts of that size but they would have to deflate a lung to do so and would not recommend it.

By the time I got to Dr. Carlos, I was a mess, mentally and physically.  He thoroughly reassured me that it was a congenital cyst, not cancerous, and best just to keep an eye on it.  Over the years, I visited him and he always made me feel like a Princess.  Last year, I went for a routine scan and check.  To everyone’s surprise the cyst had shrunk down to the size of a raisin.  Hurrah! It was a lovely celebratory doctor’s appointment and I thanked him profusely.  I had another routine scan arranged for February 2020.  It was before quarantine but I cancelled it because I can physically feel when the cyst gets larger.  The staff members at his office were delightful as always and reassured me that I could make an appointment at any time.  But now I can’t.

Few of us know people who have died from Covid-19 or its complications but now I do.  He was very special to me and to all his other adoring patients.  I can still hear his voice – he sounded exactly like the Puss in Boots from the film Shrek.  I have been very careful this year because I am surrounded by immunosuppressed neighbors and friends.  On a personal note, I was unsure if my lung history made me at higher risk.  Would my cyst expand if attacked by the corona virus?  I know we hate this strange time but we have the vaccines now and it will be a relatively short time until life becomes safer.  Please, please wear a mask.  Assume that everyone could be exposed to the virus.  Think about it as a wartime scenario.  Unemployment, poverty and social chaos are with us but we will be stronger.  Just be safe and unselfish for a few months more.

Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza, you epitomized what makes America a good place.  I will never forget you.  Thank you for the gift of compassion.

Nutcrackers…

…are they naughty or nice?  My husband can’t stand German Christmas nutcrackers.  In his mind they are akin to the clown in the Stephen King book IT, or any clown for that matter.  As a result, I have one pathetic little nutcracker that someone gifted me.  My neighbor has a huge collection of them and Teddy would run shuddering from her house.  He doesn’t like their mouths and won’t accept the logic that they are NUTCRACKERS!

We live in a German area of Texas so nutcrackers are just a part of holiday life, much like scary tree roaches in the summer.  To my joy, I noticed that our village (the Township is divided into villages, each with grocery stores, cafes, doctors, dentists and other essential stuff) had new holiday decorations.  We are now guarded by giant silver Nutcracker soldiers.  It is a big upgrade to the ancient ‘doves’ which look like pigeons or geese or some other mutation.

Early one morning I went down to our Market Street and saw this window display, above.  My friend forwarded me a article from Saxony, in Germany, where traditional Nutcracker makers have created a new Virologist with mask. 

Do you see what he is standing on? Let’s stamp this Corona virus out!! The woodcarvers are struggling like many other businesses. Click here for the article – Saxon Woodcarvers.

This is my tiny nutcracker and tiny tree and tiny elf. Teddy hasn’t noticed him yet… On a brief segue, I read the book IT many years ago and have never felt the same way about clowns/bridges. At the time I had to trek through our very dark hamlet in northern Scotland to the school at the top of the hill. I crossed a railway line and then a wooden bridge across a stream. One very dark morning a heron flew out from the bridge just as I was crossing. There were some choice words directed at the poor heron.

The Christmas That Was

Christmas 2019, Fredericksburg, Texas

This was a completely different post a few hours ago. In essence, I revealed how miserable and anxious I was feeling about the upcoming holidays. On reflection, I realized that’s not what I want to share with my friends. Instead I hope you enjoy these pretty pictures from Christmas 2019 which we spent in central Texas with the most glorious weather.

The Christmas Tree and Decorations at Fredericksburg 2019

There will be happy holidays and celebrations in the future. Please keep safe and warm. 🎄