Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer Of Crows

After I waxed Nostalgic and Reverent in my last post about birds, J. in Comments reminded me that a great many birds (as well as all sorts of other species in Nature) can be real assholes. It reminded me of an incident that I wanted to share with you. Several, actually, and as I began thinking more and more, I wondered if I was actually a Nature Appreciator after all.  Many times Rick and I have had to wrest control away from the animals, and it has not been pretty. Especially when Rick gets involved.

(In any case, I am still Deeply Committed to my resolution to name all pesky critters after republicans, and I will photograph them and share them in a post later.)

But I digress.

One summer many years ago, we were awakened at an ungodly hour by the raucous and persistent screaming of crows. It wasn't even quite light outside yet, and the noise was jarring. It kept up, back and forth and back and forth, for over an hour. It was close, too, and I had it pegged to the huge evergreen in the yard catty-corner behind us. We shut our bedroom windows, but it didn't really help; our house is tiny, and the rest of the windows in it were open. That sound rocketed around the whole place, and we couldn't go back to sleep. I really felt bad for Rick, who was not on summer vacation like me and the boys. He had a full day's work ahead of him. We could take it easy all day. The boys, by the way, slept through it all the way children often do.

We had never seen a crow in the neighborhood, so we figured it was an anomaly and that there wouldn't be a repeat performance. We were wrong. For days and days, we were awakened at first light by this screeching serenade. Rick was exhausted; I was frustrated and angry. We were able to see our tormentors in the boughs of the pine tree, just as I had thought. What sounded like a whole gang was only two crows. With horror, I contemplated the idea of them nesting there.

Finally, one Saturday morning, Rick had had enough. "That's it!" he said. "I'm done with this bullshit." He bolted from our bed, clad only in his boxer briefs. I sat up. "What are you going to do?" I asked, more than a little fearful. He looked weary, grim, and to be honest, desperate.

He didn't even answer me. The next thing I heard was his heavy footfall on the steps to the back door. I heard the door open, and I leaned to look out the window. What I saw next must have made me turn into the embodiment of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

There was my husband, on our deck in the back yard, lying on the chaise longue in his underwear, aiming the Daisy BB gun rifle up into the towering pine, and calmly firing at the crows. After each shot, he quickly cocked it, returned it to his shoulder, lined up the sight, and fired again. Over and over, he repeated this, never changing his expression until once he said, "Got him" with satisfaction and a brief, one-sided smile. I knew the little Daisy couldn't kill a crow, especially at that distance, but I knew it could sting it, and it could definitely discourage it. I hoped our birdbrained alarm clock was finally broken.

It's probably worth noting that our neighborhood in a tightly-packed little suburb is an old street where houses are separated only by the width of a narrow driveway. We can hear one another sneeze inside our homes, and our neighbor to the west had an elevated deck, flush with the top step out of her back door. She probably wouldn't have been the least bit surprised, however, to have come out and looked down upon that particular tableau. Her son used to call my husband "Funny Rick." (But my sons were his babysitters.)


The Boxer Brief BB Gun Caper did solve our crow problem. The pair left, and we have not had a crow landing since. No neighbors witnessed the event, and as far as I know, no wildlife was harmed in the process. This time. But because Rick is often called upon to rescue us from Wildlife, he has tangled with many, many varmints. I think this may have to be a series.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Bird Book

The Actual Book!
My elementary school, which has now been torn down and rebuilt into a bigger and more modern building on the very same block, did not have a library. I mean to say, it did not have an actual Library room. Instead, we all trooped into the gymnasium, which also had in it a stage. We carefully mounted the steps, and there behind the curtains were the shelves and shelves of books. Looking back now, there couldn't have been very many, and I don't honestly know how the whole thing was managed. After all, we had school programs and concerts, too, but I think they were held on the floor of the gym at the front of the stage on risers. None of that mattered to me, of course. I just loved going to the library and picking out a book.

Heck, I don't recall there even being a librarian. I doubt there was one. It was probably the teacher's job to take care of all of that in our Gym-Stage Library. As I've mentioned here many times before, I was completely oblivious to so much Reality as I was growing up. I completely trusted all Grownups to take care of everything, and I was happy to let them.

Since I was already reading well into the middle grades when I arrived at kindergarten, I burned through the little library pretty quickly, at least the books I was interested in. But I didn't mind. I was--and still am--an avid ReReader. I also took out the books no one else cared too much about, like the Bird Book.

I was pretty excited about bringing home the Bird Book to my mother. St. Patsy started me on my love of backyard birdwatching, and her knowledge of bird songs, nests, habits, mating rituals, and everything else is almost encyclopedic. When she trimmed our bangs, she put the hair out for the robins to use in their nests. When she heard a frenzy of robin and blue jay calls, she knew they were feuding for nesting territory.  She knew why we got chased by the blue jay--it had a nest in the rose arbor by the door. And it was my mother who called for the BB gun every time she saw the neighbor's Siamese cat slithering around the back yard, low and slow, its eyes intent on the chubby baby robin listening at the wet ground near the bird bath. St. Patsy could noiselessly slide that gun barrel through the open storm window, draw a bead on that cat's butt, and ping it precisely to the right or left of the tail. The next thing we'd hear was a pained screech from a cat jumping straight up in the air before it scooted out of the yard. "All right Mom!" we'd hoot, and she'd simply nod, satisfied.

My mother and I would look at the Bird Book together, and I would look at it endlessly alone. I still remember its bright pages, each one about 4" x 6", bearing an illustration of a bird. They weren't photographs, like most bird books have now, but drawings. Underneath was a brief summary of its habitat, call/song, what it ate, how many eggs in its nest, type of nest, etc. I had seen a great many, of course: robin, blue jay, cardinal, grackle, starling, Baltimore oriole, red wing blackbird, all ten million sparrows, chickadees, juncos, mourning doves, and more. But as I looked at some of the other birds, I felt jealous. Some were so exotic, so colourful, so unusual. Why didn't they ever come to our yard? What if I never saw a red-eyed vireo? Or a pine grosbeak? Or a scarlet tanager? I had never even seen a hummingbird, let alone a painted (rainbow) bunting! And I had never gotten to see a bluebird, either.

The only flamingos I had ever seen were my late grandmother's old wire and concrete ones in my dad's rose garden. And the ones on Florida postcards we had been sent. All of our birds were boring. I still loved them, however, at least most of them. I learned my mother's disdain for starlings and grackles, both messy birds who were pigs at the bird feeders, ate all of our cherries before we got any, and who crowded out the other birds.

My father had a special affinity for the cardinal. He loved its red plumage, black mask, and the way it feeds and keeps company with its mate. It brightens up its surroundings, and it often waits until other birds are gone to feed. It likes to feed at dusk, when things are cool and quiet. It is a bit solitary, and he was a lot like that. My mother thinks of my dad whenever she sees a cardinal, and I think the rest of us do, too.

If I had to pick a favourite bird, I would pick the blue jay. It is a very beautiful bird, not shy at all, with a variety of songs and calls. It is a misunderstood bird in that many observers think it chases small birds away from feeders, but once it makes its "clear out" call, it gets a seed and flies elsewhere to eat it. In fact, blue jays are planters because of this. They often take seeds, bury or place them to eat later, forget about it, and the seeds will sprout. So, blue jays might have a big mouth and seem bossy, but they do a lot of good behind the scenes.

When I adopted EmilyCat so, so many years ago, I felt a twinge of guilt. She was mostly Siamese. We all grew up as Cat Haters, so devoted we were to birds, and we especially hated and mistrusted Siamese cats. One of the few times I ever heard my mother swear was when she referred to the Bird And Baby Bunny Eating Siamese as "That Damn Cat." But puny, sick little EmilyCat needed us. And it all turned out fine.

I'm happy to report that I have added considerably to my list of Birds I've Seen, even though some still remain elusive. Hummingbirds regularly stop at my feeder, and I did see a bluebird. A nesting pair of cedar waxwings cavort in the branches above the deck. Sunshiny goldfinches seem to be everywhere. A Carolina wren kept the kittens and me company all winter, pecking around on the front porch. Those are only a few examples. And I see a brilliant red cardinal, it seems, wherever I go.

bird book image

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Adjusting The Waistband On My Cranky Pants

Yeah, yeah, I'm still here, someplace amid a mound of fleece blankets, fleece-lined spandex exercise pants, longsleeved tee, and fleece hooded sweatshirt. Welcome to Ohio, where we like to celebrate the coming of June by having temperatures in the forties overnight and the fifties during the day.

I wish I were kidding.

And let's make sure we add wind and rain in there. So that I can also run my furnace to dispel the damp.

Holy crap. I am hereby lodging a Formal Complaint. Can someone out there see that it gets to the Proper Authorities?

Yikes. Someone is, I fear, a Little Bit Crabby. And a little Snarked Out. Not quite Centered or At One With Her Zen. I'm too cheap to pay for therapy, and even though I could use my Dr. On Demand app and get a free introductory session, I'd rather use all of you. Will you be my therapist and listen to my Issues? Then you can counsel me in Comments, and we can all do likewise for you. Here we go.

::Where Is The Real News?:: What passes for News these days is no less than a farce. It's as if People magazine has taken over journalism. I can feel/hear Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow spinning in their graves. Celebrity births, cutesy dog videos, and marginal events like charity drives and soldier homecomings are common stories on the national news (I'm looking at you, NBC Nightly News). Is there really nothing else occurring of note in the world, even in the realms of science, politics, government, technology, or finance?

::Is This Really Style?:: I sat (somewhat) stoically and quietly by while the Eighties neon colours came back into fashion, and I shut up a lot when everyone made a big deal out of the rope wedge, peasant blouses, and all the other crap that I used to wear back in the seventies as being so fresh and wonderful and Right Now On Trend. But there is No Way that I am sitting still for H&M selling this for $39.95 and even outright calling it The Mom Jean. It's a travesty. Worse yet is this assertion that the once-reviled, touristy and androgynous fanny pack is now de rigeur for all fashion mavens. Listen; the idea of being able to zip around on my errands without my purse hanging off my arm sounds like heaven to me, but if that comes at the expense of having a pelvis goiter, then no, No Thank You. I am old enough to remember the Playtex Girdle commercials and their admonishments about Midriff Bulge. I work hard not to have any Unsightly Bulges. The last thing I want is a Bulge that I paid for. (Oh, and for the record, I am still not wearing these. Certainly you can; I'm not judging.)

::Is This Real Life?:: In the next several months, it is expected that Donald "The Donald" Trump will announce his bid for the republican nomination for President. Of the United States. Where I live. Rather than be gleeful and entertained at this prospect, I am instead irked and irritated. Honestly, I'm not sure why. Probably because I know he's doing it just as an act of shameless self-promotion, and I'm annoyed that he's able to make such a mockery of a serious office to aggrandize and publicize himself and his empire. He's such a full-scale goofball that his own party will roll its eyes and sigh a lot, but the media will give him a ton of coverage and that's going to be excruciating.

::Real Quick-like:: How much do I need to care about the following things? Right now, I don't care about them at all even though they seem to be Everywhere: Game of Thrones, McDonald's "new" menu, Pinterest (I still don't get it), Sepp Blatter, Kelly Ripa's cleanse, the crazy Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, Windows 10, and Rand Paul. I will say that I find the name Sepp Blatter to be absolutely terrific. It belongs in the novel Cold Comfort Farm or perhaps something by Flannery O'Connor. Imagine:

"This here guy'll hep ya," said the cop, and he spat dryly into the street. He was indicating a slight, overall-wearing man who was ambling somewhat crookedly around the corner. "Name's Sepp Blatter. Owns the farm up the road. Has all kindsa equipment. He can getcha out." The officer raised his voice and called sharply, "Sepp! C'mon over here'n talk to this guy! He needs a tow." He pitched his voice lower and leaned in a little. "Now here's a little advice, 'n it's free. Sepp don't care much about money, but he ain't stupid neither. Them Blatters ain't livin' high up there, so make sure you offer him somethin' for his troubles. Do it up front, too." The officer winked broadly. "Get whatcha pay for that way."


My session is over; your turn in Comments.

pants in image for sale here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Clearing Out Some Clutter: Scatterthoughts

I've got those Beatin' Back A Headache Blues. It's tough to collect my thoughts lately, so why even try? Time for a little clutterbusting post to sweep out some thought nerfuls.

1. 6. The approximate number of times we were asked if we had any guns to sell at our garage sale last weekend. Sigh. Also the number of times I wanted to shoot the people asking. Well aware of the Irony, yes, thanks. (ZERO. ZERO GUNS will always be the answer.)

2. Just Do It! Today I scanned an article about Personal Finance. It said that it was time to think less traditionally about Money, and that since the interest on savings accounts was so terribly low, it was time to make your money work for you instead of save it. It also said that you should look for ways to make money. Write an e-book, it suggested, and get income from that. Holy crap. What in the hell have I been waiting for? Why don't I just sit here and write an e-book and watch my cash come rolling in? Anyone can do it.

3. So You Don't Have To. Currently, I am testing a toothpaste. It is in a plain white tube with only a number and ingredients on it. As part of a polling group, I agreed to use it for two weeks and then answer some questions about it later. While I am using it, I am supposed to think about building healthy gums and strong teeth. Because I am naturally a Directions Follower and Quite Studious about all Task-Oriented things (former teacher, remember), I really and truly do this. The whole time I am brushing, I think, "This product is meant to build healthy gums and strong teeth for me." The last product I tested was kitty litter. Of course, Piper and Marlowe did that testing, but I was supposed to observe whether or not they were averse to it in any way and whether or not it helped eliminate litter box odor. (They weren't and it did.)

4. 1. The number of black watersnakes I have attempted to kill thus far in 2015. One was sunning itself on the shore, and I was seized with an uncharacteristic desire to get rid of it. I grabbed a nearby log, hefted it up over my head, and brought it down with as much force as I could muster right on top of the snake. It writhed and reared back, opening its mouth. I immediately doubled over and retched, nearly fainting, seeing those patches of light and dark as I struggled to remain upright and conscious. When I felt able, I looked to see if I had killed it. I saw it floating in the rocks at the shore, half in and half out. Later, it was gone. My brother-in-law gave me a long-handled ax for future snake killing, should the need arise again. Jared feels this is A Bad Idea.

5. Get Ready. I feel like this is the year that the bugs are beginning their takeover of Earth. I have never, ever in my life seen it so damn buggy. Of course I blame the republicans and their constant watering-down of Environmental Legislation, but this is beyond political. Spiders the size of Kennedy half-dollars are roaming the countryside and everywhere I look there are bugs, bugs, bugs. Crawlies and fliers and hard-shelled thingies that explode into spattery guts when you squash them are leaving marks all over my stuff. I can't go anyplace without there being a bug that has gone there before me. They're staking out their territory; their multiple feet are in The Door. And you can't kill them! They're immune to everything but Brute Force. Heaven help us if they ever, ever join forces with the snakes.

What I really want to test is a good bug spray. One that works on snakes and gun nuts, too. Sign me up.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

In Which We Have Some Politics, And Beethoven And Beyonce Have A Child For Hillary

Ladies and Gentlemen, forgive my extended absence. My time away from you has been spent in deep reflection and consultation with my family as I ponder what may very well be one of the most important decisions of my life. Only after this period of profound soul-searching and huddling with trusted advisers have I been able to face this difficult and momentous challenge. But I have always been dedicated to a life of Service. So, with that being said, I am announcing today that I am forming an exploratory committee to consider entering the race for the republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

I mean, what the heck? Why not? Everyone else is Doing It.

Dearest Readers, it's a veritable Cirque de So Lame of republican clowns out there stumping around, making speeches and zinging--not each other, no!--Hillary. Bless their teensy little flinty, tarry hearts. Rather than narrow the field and slap each other around, they're going after The Presumptive Nominee Of The Democratic Party. Now. In the Spring of 2015. Sigh. If I were Hillary, I'd hire a Lookalike to zip around to points hither and yon (in sunglasses).  Then I'd go on one of those cruises where the boat never docks. You know, it just floats along, steaming off to its final port where it is spruced up for its next run. She can study up on policy, platform, and all sorts of stuff (like some truthing) while getting spa treatments and toning up her bod for the really tough campaigning.

But I digress.

So far--and it's Way Early--the republicans are fielding/look to be fielding the following candidates:

1. Rand Paul
2. Ted Cruz
3. Marco Rubio
4. Carly Fiorina
5. Ben Carson
6. Scott Walker
7. Mike Huckabee
8. Lindsey Graham
9. Rick Santorum
10. Chris Christie
11. Jeb Bush
12. Rick Perry
13. Bobby Jindal
14. John Kasich
15. Donald Trump

Kudos to the republicans for such a bigass and diverse list. They have a woman, a black man, two Hispanic men (three if you count Jeb Bush, who self-identified as Hispanic on his 2009 Voter registration form), one Canadian man, an Indian man, and an evangelical minister. It's quite the Clown Car Of Craziness, and I don't miss Michele Bachmann in the least. (She's still getting a limited audience for her cuckootalk. Just the other day, she got her name in the papers for this gem: "Barack Obama is intent. It is his number one goal to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon....That is where we are headed right now. That is why the best thing we can do is have churches and pastors explain our times." Sigh.) Each of these candidates has already brought his or her own loopy doofusness into the mix, and I won't bore you with fifteen quotes to prove it (although Huckabee's recent quote to a Hispanic audience that while he doesn't speak Spanish, he does speak Jesus bears mention).

I could not even begin to lay bets on who will still Be There In November. So much Dark Money is involved that it isn't even about the voters anymore. But I think it's safe to get rid of several early on, like: Trump, Jindal, Perry, Christie, Santorum, Graham, Huckabee, Carson, Fiorino, Cruz, and Paul. Some of them are kooks (Trump, Santorum, Cruz); some of them can't get their shit together (Perry, Christie, Graham); some are just not very electable for various reasons (Jindal, Fiorina, Carson, Paul), whether it's experience, recognition, sex, race, likability, or policy, or just the Great Unknown. It's an ugly thing to say, but the republicans are not a Big Tent Party, and that's what they get. Is Ben Carson electable in Wyoming? Is Bobby Jindal going to get a vote in Montana?  Utah? How well will Rand Paul's message play in Wisconsin and Peoria? And there are a ton of Duck Dynasty devotees who would rather not vote than vote for Carly Fiorina. They won't vote for Hillary, either.

When Serious Debate Season starts, we may see Rubio, Walker, Bush, and Kasich up there posturing, the latter being Ohio's governor. He's been doing a lot of stumping lately, and is in the "flirting" stage of campaigning, a great definition of which can be found here. He has also been doing a lot of Evolving on many issues that are making him more of a Compassionate "Bush 41" Conservative. But don't be fooled. Ohio loves its guns and is currently sitting with a heartbeat bill in its Congress. And its school funding is a disaster, its own Supreme Court in contempt of itself on that for almost twenty years, and the governor hasn't seen fit to order that fix. (In all fairness, either did his predecessors.)

Ah, same old, same old. What do you expect? Because, republicans.

Again, though, I'm not about to trust in The Wisdom Of The American People.  It is this Intangible which brought to us the republican majority in the US Congress even after it was that party who shut down the government, caused our national credit rating to be lowered, and brought us the famous Sequester.  The Wisdom Of The American People has brought us so many, many things which are the nadir of Human Existence, including Truck Month commercials, Sarah Palin book deals, dogs in Halloween costumes, and as I must always mention in this list, Kardashians and spray cheese.  And Olive Garden.  (I'm sorry; had to be said.)

Finally, regarding Hillary.  Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist, analyst, and campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000 (among her many achievements), said that Hillary is starting off like Beethoven, but that she has to end up like Beyonce.  I disagree; I think she has to be a blend of both.  That made me wonder:  what would that look like? So I took these pictures of Beethoven and Beyonce and hit "morph" at www.morphthing.com

And the Internet's answer to what Hillary's campaign should look like, according to me, is this:

All I learned from that exercise was that I waste a lot of time on the Internet when it's rainy and cold outside. 

But, if you...no.  Never mind.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Not So Much Road Rage As It Is Road Irk

For most of my life, I detested driving. It seemed impossibly dangerous and a terrible responsibility. There was so very much to look out for, and all at once! How could one, single person be expected to keep her eyes on the road, be aware of the speedometer, look out for other drivers, be conscious of hazards on the roadway, and remember everything she was supposed to know, including the directions of how to get where she was going, when and how to apply the brake (And what in the hell does it mean to imagine an egg under the pedals anyway? Why on earth would that ever, ever happen?), and holy crap, let's not forget the turn signals and Assured Clear Distance.

But I finally did get my driver's license at eighteen, and I used it only when necessary. I commuted to and from my classes at the local community college and thence to my part-time job at the bank. Happily, everyone else in my life loved to drive. I started to wonder if I somehow chose my friends and even my husband based upon their willingness to drive. Even my teaching job was only two and a half minutes away, from driveway to parking spot.

It was a lifestyle less than ideal, however, and I really felt as if my wings were clipped. But my discomfort with driving coupled with my lousy sense of direction made it Just One Of Those Things. Where would I go, anyway, that I wouldn't want to go without Rick or one of my friends?

My regular readers may recall that when I retired, Rick's present to me was a GPS. Since that day almost four years ago, I have made great use of it, taking solo trips to Virginia, Maryland, and lots of places here in Ohio. My little Prius is on the road almost every day, and driving is No Big Deal to me anymore.

And while I can't claim to be an expert driver, I have driven enough now to have noticed some things. I'm presenting them here, and I'd like to see if you've noticed them, too.

1. Buicks go more slowly than other cars.
2. Men wearing hats drive very, very slowly.
3. Vans are not allowed to go the speed limit.
4. It is a myth that red cars speed.
5. Old, green Ford Tauruses go slowly, and they cannot change lanes.
6. The bigger the pickup truck, the more slowly it goes.
7. The larger the vehicle, the greater the chance that I will get stuck behind it for eleventy hundred miles.

As you can perhaps determine from this list, I am often in a position wherein some cars are, as St. Patsy would say, "puddleducking." I am not often in a hurry, but Patience is still something I work at, and it irks me to no end to have other individuals impede my progress.

Buicks, for example, have no exception to their rule. The other day, I was behind a sporty-looking, black Buick two-door, brand new. Its windows were so tinted that it looked like the Batmobile. It actually revved its engine at the light. "Yes!" I thought. "This is one Buick that will let me get my ice cream home before it becomes a milkshake." Except...no. The car daintily crept away from the green light like a moribund snail. Could I neatly veer into the other lane? Of course not. Everyone else behind me was doing that. Even a red Ford Aerostar.

Sometimes, like the red Aerostar example, you get a terrible combination. This is what I fear when I am on a No Passing Zone two-way highway. Inevitably, I experience a 6/7 Combo or a 3/4 or even the Dreaded 1/2/4/7. Sometimes, The Hat Thing is a Thing All Its Own, and it is a Wildcard that can complicate any of the above. Toss in a few other variables (bumpersticker sentiments, cellphone usage, presence of DVD screens) and I can pretty much determine whether or not I'll be on time/serene/growling/needing to reach into the wine fridge.

It is not simply a question of Me Leaving Earlier, for often, I'm not due anyplace by a certain time. It is just that I want To Get There. Expeditiously and efficiently. I do not want to sightsee. I do not want to feel as if I am appearing in a slow motion sequence about traffic patterns in a Highway Department documentary.

Or, is that wrong?

Today, I laughed and laughed as my Prius and I finally passed the bigass flatbed truck going 43 mph in a 65 mph zone on the state highway. There was no one else on the road, but this hat-wearing guy was in my way and I was tired of looking at his ugly back end. That was a 7/2, for those of you scoring at home. I still had twenty more miles to go, and I wasn't going to stare at him in slo-mo the whole damn way.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Roadside Religion

Now that Spring is finally dawdling along to Ohio, Rick and I are weekending at the lake, which is in Ashland County, about a forty-five minute drive for us through small towns and farmland. And, apparently, judging by the yard signs we see, Proud Christians.

I am continually fascinated by this sort of Roadside Religion, this blaring Bible-thumping. My mother, St. Patsy, and I had a chat about it once when she accompanied me.

Nance: These God signs are ridiculous. Who puts a bigass sign full of religion in their yard?
St. Patsy: I know.
Nance: It's pretty lazy evangelizing, if you ask me. What if other people, like doctors, did their jobs like that? What if a doctor merely put up a sign in front of his office that said, "Take two aspirin and lie down" and that was it? What if I, as an English teacher, had simply put up a sign in my yard that said, "Apostrophes don't make plurals and go read the classics"? Those God Warriors are just taking the easy way out.
St. Patsy: (laughs; shakes head) Oh, Nance. Just ignore it.

My mother's stock answer for most things that annoyed me throughout my life has always been to Ignore It, from my siblings' torments to the sometimes hurtful retorts from my children to runs in my pantyhose to the random pimples on my chin. But I think it's pretty hard to ignore this:

And here's the other side of it, shot from the road parallel, the only place I could grab a decent photo:

As you can see, this is one bigass, preachy sign, the wording of which still escapes me. Exactly how does one Believe ON something/someone, anyway?  (St. Patsy assures me that this is Old Timey, Bible wording that she recalls from her Pre-Catholic Days.)  This sign is along a residential driveway, bordered by evergreens, and when I drove into said driveway to get the shot, it was peaceful and parklike, even eerily so. The other side's sentiment, stating that only Grace/Faith saves you, not Works, is a very Puritan sentiment. It goes all the way back to Predestination, that confusing doctrine that said your Final Destination (Heaven or Hell) was already decided at your birth, so no matter what you did, it didn't really matter. I still don't know why any Puritan bothered to behave at all. I'd have sinned myself ragged. (Of course, many did but the social and real costs were high.)

Lest you think that sign is the only one, let me present Exhibit B:

And its reverse:

This sign is much more subtle, of course, but is again in a rather nice and tranquil setting (the dead Easter plants notwithstanding). Across the street (where I parked to get out and get the shot) is a junky used car lot, and nearby is a railroad track. It is about two miles away from the bigass sign. And yes, that comma is killing me there.

This enormous and rather scary sign appeared over Easter. The bloody red paint presents a rather interesting and ironic contrast to its message:

Unfortunately, you cannot clearly see the small, also hand-lettered sign next to the bigass one. It reads "Do Not Come To The House." (Something the newspaper delivery person clearly took to heart, as you can tell by the newspaper lying in the grass.) This presents a wonderful paradox for me. JESUS LOVES YOU, but DO NOT COME TO THE HOUSE. Hey, they are into Jesus, but not so much what He was into.

The lakehouse is smack-dab in the middle of a large Amish enclave.  Right at the entrance to the lake community is an Amish farmhouse, and across the road is another one.  Several more are down the street.  They are easy to spot; they have no electric lines running to their homes, and their buggies and horses are often in view.  Once a week, their familiar black and deep blue clothing flutters on clotheslines next to white aprons and caps.

But the one thing you never see is overt signs of their devotion to their God.  They are quietly devout, silently living their Christian ideology. Their farmstands are shuttered on Sundays.

I'm a recovering Catholic; I am not religious, so I don't understand evangelical religions.  One thing I do understand, however, is that I don't like being preached to about pretty much anything, especially passive-aggressively.

A long time ago, someone passed this along about religion--I forget who--but I think it's a great analogy, however crude:  Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one, it’s fine to be proud of it, but please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around...and don’t try to shove it down my throat.


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