Tuesday, July 08, 2014

“Long Is The Night To Him Who Is Awake; Long Is A Mile To Him Who Is Tired; Long Is Life To The Foolish..."--Gautama Buddha

I'm back from an Idyllic jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, where perfect weather and lovely people and a Secret Winery all converged in a Holiday Vortex that left me repeating, "This is so wonderful" overmuch. Our Vacation Friends from New York were staying at the inn; we had a convivial evening in the garden house with the innkeepers and some very good organic wine; we splurged and sat down to a winery chef's dinner of five courses (with wine pairings) where, astonishingly, I enjoyed a raw oyster sprinkled with flying fish roe. Enjoyed! It was a revelation.

With no television in our balcony room, I was blissfully unaware of the World around me. Vacations there are also a vacation from The News and, especially, The Politics. Tim, our innkeeper, keeps a table of newspapers in the breakfast room, but I assiduously avoid them. And I'm not the only one. Most of the American guests do, I've noticed, and the few Canadian guests do a cursory skim of the front pages of each section, then turn their attentions to the excellent homemade bread, yoghurt, or daily sweet, especially if Sharon has made her tempting cranberry coffeecake or lemon poundcake.

(This changes markedly if a Presidential election is News in the United States. Everyone, no matter his or her passport, wants to talk about that at breakfast. We are spared, at least for a bit.)

Still enrobed in my Zen--somewhat--I caught up on The News a little, and I reviewed some of the articles I have been saving. Quite a bit of The News and The Politics is frosting my cupcakes lately. Perhaps, I thought, if I try to address all of it at once and all of it while I am still a bit Warm And Fuzzy, things won't Get Out Of Hand.

Oh, let's do try. Shall we? On, then.

1. Hillary and President Clinton and Who Is "Dead Broke". My admiration and deep love for President Clinton is a Given. My vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential Primaries was, too. But someone has to wrench these people and all politicians out of their extraterrestrial elitist circles and show them how the Real World lives. And, if necessary, show them Some Math. As in, a family has an income of $46K, and the average price of gasoline is $3.50 a gallon, and a loaf of bread is $2.00, and a pound of ground chuck is $3.59, and the average mortgage payment in, say, the Cleveland, Ohio, metro area is $800 monthly, and yada yada yada, do you get my drift? And that is for the people fortunate enough to be employed fully and gainfully. In the United States of America, %15 of our fellow citizens live below the poverty line. Now who is Dead Broke? Consider telling a family of four making ends meet on less than $24,5K a year that you, a former First Lady who spends more on haircuts and wine in a year than they do on...oh...living, are Dead Broke. These D.C. people need to get out and get The Questions. "Do you know how much a gallon of gasoline is in your district, or anyplace?" "How much is a steak at the grocery store?" "How much is a gallon of milk?" And no, it's not "wrong to focus on these small things in light of larger legislation" (paraphrasing here). Why? Because WE LIVE THE SMALL THINGS. I care a hell of a lot about the bullshit that the Supreme Court just shoved down my throat and up my skirt. But some people need to Get Real, too. Why do you think the Supreme Court handed down such tripe? Because they are Out Of Touch with the day to day realities of real people. Look at the vote. Duh. (And that's Real People. Not corporation people. Or people corporations. Or whatever the hell the 5/9 Supreme Beings want to call them/think they are.)

2. Ugly Americans and The New Gladiator Sport. I live, I guess, technically in a border state, but no Canadians come sneaking in across Lake Erie in milk jug barges or packed under fake-bottomed boats. I understand only from reading and watching news reports the concerns and issues that a burgeoning illegal immigrant population brings with it to a true border state community, its economy, and the government's resources. It has to be incredibly stressful in myriad ways. But what happened in Murrieta, California, made me so profoundly sick and ashamed. Three buses loaded with Central American women and children--all illegal immigrants--were met and turned away by protesters there. Over 100 angry, sign-carrying United States citizens swarmed the buses and shouted, among other things, "USA! USA! USA!" As I watched this on television, right before I left for my trip out of the USA, I had a churning mix of emotions. I knew the children inside those buses were already afraid, tired, and probably hungry and thirsty, too. This was not their fault, and it was not fair, as things often never are for children. I was shocked that such anger and hatred could be focused on women and children, and that it could turn so wildly afield: some posters were about Obama, some protesters interviewed rambled on about other political agendas. Finally, I was angry and ashamed. That chant, that cheer! I remembered it being so deafening during the USA/USSR hockey game at Lake Placid. It is supposed to be a cheer of pride, a cheer of support and national spirit. I felt such outrage that it had been co-opted for something so threatening, so ugly, so primitive. All I could think of was Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery." I honestly felt sick. How dare they? They do have a right to assemble, to speak freely. But they tarnish us all.

3. Guns, Guns, and More Guns. Unlike the paid politicians in Washington, D.C., who I am loathe now to call Our Representatives, my feelings never stop being wounded by news reports of shootings, bursts of gun violence such as Chicago's bloody Independence Day Weekend, and here in the Cleveland area, the sight of mothers so bowed down by profound grief that they literally cannot walk behind their child's casket. After Newtown failed to move these morons, I got very wide-eyed with the knowledge that those in government saw The American People as disposable or trivial, whereas their own Ideologies and Bank Balances were not. It has been difficult to live with the idea that, and this is not to be immodest or overly simplistic, Stupid and Sometimes Evil Idiots are in charge, and I cannot expect anything from them, ever. Something is terribly wrong when a heap of dead (American) elementary children and their teachers are an insufficient catalyst for change. Show me an unarmed nation, a gun-controlled nation with a high rate of gun violence akin to ours. Show me the graves of their dead schoolchildren. Show me their "good guys with guns." They're like Starbucks, the NRA. Everywhere, yet never enough.

Speaking of Starbucks, they've even infiltrated Niagara-on-the-Lake. So irritating. Can't a nice, independent coffee place open up there? No, apparently not. At least this Starbucks is in a completely closed building, though. No windows at all, and the door is always shut, although as we walk nearby, it opens about eleventy thousand times per half hour. Sigh. People. Many, many times, they get what they ask for, I suppose.

Rick just sent me a text message. Tough re-entry day back at work, he said. Isn't it terrible how Real Life ruins any Vacation, whether it's physical, mental, or spiritual? As I try to maintain my Zen--Post-Canadian Holiday Type--I think I'll ignore The Ugly today. And do my level best not to contribute to it.



  1. Your vacation sounds like a dream. Perfect. Canada is so close, yet I forget about ever going there. Duh on me.

    As for Hillary's tone deaf comment about being broke, I suspect that will be the catalyst that gets her kicked out of the Presidential race.

    I had similar thoughts to yours re: Murrieta. And I agree that if Newtown isn't enough to get ppl to re-think our gun laws, then nothing will.

    Best of luck re-entering real life today. Hang onto your Zen for as long as you can.

  2. My favorite joke about the rich thinking they understand the rest of us was, "Oh, we're dead broke. Better sell some art." Kind of like when Romney said that if college was too expensive, kids should just borrow money from their parents. Talk about not getting it. You said something on my blog that resonated with me, 'the gentrification of government'. Ugh.

    Also, I dearly wish we had such prices here in CA, where our wages are not all that much higher than you mention, but mortgage is double, gas is over $4, bread is usually $3.50, etc etc. Sigh. We will never get ahead.

    I also am embarrassed by the behavior of the Americans in Murietta. My own state even! I can understand that this current situation is shocking. The number of kids coming into the US from Central America in the last few years has EXPLODED, and the government has not done a good job of keeping up. But really, do we need to treat kids who have been through hell like what we want is for them to go back through hell? It's horrifying.

    And then there's the guns. Always with the guns. I'm so tired of guns I wish we could just outlaw them forever. I agree, Stupid and Sometimes Evil idiots are in charge, and that is not hyperbole on my part either. If Newtown didn't change us, nothing will. Really, I can't see it getting better. I don't know how much worse it has to get before the politicians do something. It's enough to make me not want to vote at all. And I've only missed one election since I turned 18, a tiny local one when I was in college and was more interested in sleeping in...and I've always been kind of embarrassed about missing that one.

  3. J@jj--You and I are so alike that it is truly scary-wonderful. I was thinking about the Romney quote, too, and I also thought about what your response would be regarding the prices in Cali as you read through this post and perhaps clicked the link. We are getting a bit of a break lately on gas. It has been up as high as $3.89 this summer, but it recently levelled off at $3.49. Who knows why?

    Meat has soared, however, and I told Rick that we were going to be having even more meatless dinners now, compensated by excellent wines. I think it's a great trade-off. I'd rather spend my money on that anyway. I can zip down to Amish country (40 min. south, to my brother's lakehouse) and get free-range eggs for $1.50 a dozen. We are all about the frittata with my fresh herbs. Add 3 summer squash for a dollar, and hey! Dinner on the cheap.

    I'm happy to bet on Maya to help us save the world for the future. Bless her; she comes from great stock.

    Ally Bean--Tone-deaf, yes. Thanks for supplying that term. Too late now for me to use it, but I was searching for it earlier.

    It was a "47%" moment, for sure. And what is the big deal about being wealthy in the USA, anyway, if you admit it and thank the lucky stars that you have the bucks? She could have easily said, "We left the White House millions of dollars in debt with regards to campaign money, but thankfully, we were still far better off than many Americans in today's economy who are unemployed or underemployed, still trying to recover from the Recession" IF she had to politicize it at all. I just get tired of every blessed thing being a Sound Byte.

    Spare me.

    Thank you for your kind wishes regarding my re-entry. It wasn't the Battle Royale that I thought it might be. Perspective is a terrific thing, you know? Once I wrote this post, I was able to gain a ton of it.

    A TON.

  4. Yes, yes & yes... Sigh. The world cares more about LeBron James than children (unless they're unborn or un-conceived). Sigh again...

    On another note, Mike & I really need to go to Niagara Falls sometime! I can't believe we haven't been yet.

    And, I remember giving a book report in the 8th grade on a biography about Siddhartha Gautama - I memorized a speech I wrote about it. Very dramatic - I saw the kids in the class do a double-take when I started it - ha! I used to remember the opening line. I'll have to think about it - I'm sure it will come back to me. It was only 36 years ago :)

  5. Bug--Rick and I used to take the boys to Niagara Falls often; it was lovely and family-oriented. Now, with the addition of huge casinos and massive hotels, it's got a different character. A visit to the Canadian side of the Falls is worth it for the gorgeous natural beauty, however.

    Niagara-on-the-Lake is entirely different. It feeds my soul AND my wine cellar.

    I don't remember much of anything about 8th grade, let alone the first line of a book report. Actually, I don't think we read a single book that year. We had a tough old lady, Mrs. Bolton, who drilled us unmercifully in grammar the entire year. She probably felt we didn't deserve to read. I'm sure she was correct.

    It is indeed painful when people who think they are broke are merely unable to experience the full breadth of luxury they once enjoyed. Private jet trips cut down to once a month or something. Meanwhile... prices keep rising and federal lawmakers refuse to raise the minimum wage. Because they are still waiting for the trickle-down theory to trickle down.

    All of these self-righteous flag-wavers (I'm thinking a lot of them are Tea-baggers) need to re-think what they are screaming about. Because they are condemning children who face violence on a daily basis and who have no other choice. Maybe they should watch the film El norte. It was made in 1983, but is still valid today, and now perhaps even more so. These rabid protesters need to remember where many early American immigrants came from:
    There are cases like this in Mexico as well. One of my students in the spring arrived 2 days late for the start of the semester. When I asked him why he was late to the start of the course, he said he had gone to Ciudad Juárez to visit his family. One night, while at his grandmother's house, members of a local drug cartel barged in and dropped a sack of money on the floor. It contained $500 for their home, and they were forced to take the money and leave immediately at gunpoint. Or refuse, and be shot. It is incredible to me that people can think it is OK to start an unfounded war in Iraq that cost trillions of dollars, over 4500 American lives and many thousands more in civilian deaths, and was based more on making Halliburton rich than defending democracy or avenging 9-11, but it is not OK to allow refugee status to people who have no control over their fate and face death on a daily basis.

    Oh, boy, Nance. You are pushing all of my hot political buttons, lol! My sentiments and likely yours, too:
    Here's what's really sad: Newtown not only failed to get Congress to take an initiative on gun control, it is getting to the point where each new tragedy gets less and less media exposure. It has become so commonplace that the general public and even the news media seem to have been bought out by the NRA. The most recent idiotic comment: "Your Dead Kids Don't Trump My Constitutional Rights To Have Guns."

    Yes, something is terribly wrong in a country where (some) people behave worse than in a society of cave dwellers who likely had at least a modicum of respect for their fellow human beings on the planet.

  7. Ortizzle--Always a pleasure to see you.

    As always, we are alike in our sentiments. And I wonder at the American idea of immigrant v. refugee v. trespassers etc. One House member recently said that the children were all gang members. Sigh. I won't dignify him by naming him. Who are these idiots? Where do they come from that they are so incredibly brutish and stupid? I'm starting to avoid the news.

  8. Like the previous commenter, I've almost stopped watching, reading, or listening to the news. I receive one email with news headlines and occasionally look at an article that interests me. If I forget to take my iPod to plug into the car's speakers to listen to an audio book, I listen to NPR.

    I have little hope things will improve much in this country, so being blissfully unaware is good for my mental health.

    But sometimes I hear good news. Apparently Rush Limbaugh's ratings are down and advertisers are fleeing his show due t o his attitudes toward blacks, women, gays and......

    Walgreens planned to move offshore to avoid paying taxes. However, they received so much negative publicity, they backed away from the plan.

    In addition to the issues you mentioned in this post, I hate seeing corporations that make $billions in profits screwing the American public by not paying their fair share of taxes. Their success has been due to U.S. freedoms & opportunities & the education of its employees. Yet they want to turn their backs on the country.

    It's lovely to be away from home and enjoy another location, whether it be a cabin in the woods or a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple, but I find that when I return home, I need a vacation from my vacation. I have to deal with the pile of mail, take care of things I missed while away, unpack, put everything in the wash or store it for the next trip. I won't stop taking trips, but I wish I could afford an assistant or a robot to complete those chores while I'm away and after I return.

    Or, better yet, I'd like someone to take care of my chores all of the time.

  9. CJ--Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I always appreciate hearing from you.

    I find it increasingly difficult to engage in The Politics, too, now that the midterms are upon us and even the Presidential election is starting to become a focus. It's not even Disillusionment so much (although that is omnipresent) as it is weariness and disgust.

    And unpacking? Far preferable to packing, in my opinion. And so less traumatic for The Cattens. The mere appearance of The Suitcase sends them into the Slough Of Despair.

    But, again, thank you for chiming in and hanging out here every now and again. It's good to know you're still out there, checking in.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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