Magi – Out and About

So, Magi has been cleared to mingle with the rest of us cats, and he has been having a ball. He and Jackson love to chase each other around the house. When he first came out of his room Ladybug disappeared for a day. None of us knew where she was. She is starting to get over it, but hisses at Magi if he gets too close to her. Shayna Maidel still isn’t sure what to think of him, and thus far has shown no inclination to either play with him or to avoid him. Me, I think he is great! Here are a couple of pictures:

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As you can see, he is adorable, and he loves his toy dragonfly. And speaking of bugs, look at what we encountered on a walk this past week.

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It is a Robinson’s annual cicada, the common cicada that serenades us on these hot summer days with its love song.

So, with a big election coming up it is a good time to talk about what Mike says is the biggest weapon in the armamentarium of those who want to preserve the status quo. The weapon is voter suppression. This takes many pernicious forms, some of which go back hundreds of years, and some are of recent origin.

The newest game in town is the crippling of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The post office has been under duress for years. Some of the challenges have been the advent of electronic communication platforms and the competition of private companies in package delivery. Added to that was the law passed by Congress in 2006 which requires the postal service to fund the pension fund of every employee going forward 75 years. This ties up revenue unreasonably, it seems to me, and puts the USPS at a competitive disadvantage. The post office receives no government funding, relying entirely on revenues derived from the services it provides. But it can’t really run like a business, because it can’t set its own rates. Congress does that for them. In 2020, the post office has been hammered by the COVID pandemic. The workers are considered essential, so they have had more virus exposure than people who get to work from home. Tens of thousands have had to quarantine because of exposure to known COVID cases, which has slowed production because of the resultant understaffing.  And who knows how many have died since the beginning of the year? This has placed an increased burden on the timely delivery of the mail.

In this setting, we have a president who is determined to be re-elected by whatever means necessary. He believes that voting by mail will decrease his chances, and has been attacking absentee voting all year with his statements. He says that it is vulnerable to massive fraud, which has not been the experience of those jurisdictions where voting by mail is the norm. Congress authorized 10 billion dollars in emergency COVID funding for the USPS, but the money has not been released by the Treasury Department, which is demanding control over the USPS operations. Another loan of 25 billion has been passed by the US House of Representatives, but is being held up by the Republican controlled Senate.  Very recently a major donor to the Trump campaign, Mr. Louis DeJoy, was appointed Postmaster General. He has instituted changes designed to slow the delivery of the mail, such as not allowing overtime to workers. Mail delivery has been limited to once per day. Donald Trump has attacked the USPS, calling it “a joke.” He is calling for a 400 per cent increase in rates for package deliveries, which if instituted would accelerate the financial problems of the institution as more package delivery would be diverted to private carriers. And right now package delivery is the only postal service that doesn’t lose money.

All these moves, and more, are designed to cripple the post office which could be broke by October, and to severely impact voters who depend on the mail to vote. For example, many poor people, much more likely to vote for Democratic candidates, may be unable to get off work in order to vote. Even if they could get an hour off, say for lunch, long lines would make it impossible to vote, as polling places have been drastically reduced in number in many states, especially in minority neighborhoods. Many potential voters are burdened by lack of access to child care, lack of transportation to polling sites, or are elderly or disabled. This kind of maneuvering in order to win an election is unconscionable, but not surprising. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey has said, “Attacks on the USPS threaten our economy and the jobs of 600,000 workers. With our states now reliant on mail voting to continue elections during the pandemic, the destabilizing of the post office is a direct attack on democracy itself.” Mike thinks he will be able to vote by mail this year. but if the issue is in doubt, even though his doctor has warned him to remain quarantined until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, he will vote in person. Mike says he loves his country enough that he would absolutely risk his life to cast a vote against Donald Trump. Mike was just reading the Tao Te Ching, a translation by Stephen Mitchell. Poem #18 says, in part, “When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.” Still as true today as it was 2500 years ago, give or take, and still a good thing.

Happy birthday to Medicare which just turned 55 on July 30. Medicare is a good example of something which was vigorously opposed by many when it was being debated, (mostly by those who are opposed to government control of much of anything)  but which has come to be highly valued by many people and institutions (such as the AMA) which originally fought its enactment into law.  It is kind of like white and black people in the South drinking from the same water fountain and thinking nothing of it. There must be a lesson in this.

We should find out this week who Presidential candidate Joe Biden is going to pick to be his running mate. Donald is getting so nervous that he suggested postponing the election. It should be an interesting time, and as the Chinese are said to wish upon their enemies, “May you live in interesting times.” I have a lot more to say about voter suppression, so stay tuned for my next blog. Until then stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, pray for your socially distant neighbors, practice the Golden Rule, and be nice to your cats and dogs. And speaking of dogs, some of our Happy Meadows dog owners are leaving little plastic bags of dog poo lying around instead of properly disposing of them. Come on now, you know who you are. How about starting to live a better life by going back out and picking up your little treasure’s little treasures? Thanks a heap, so to speak. We love you all. Bye bye!

Magi is Home, Stinkbug No Longer

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So, with mixed feelings I report that Magi, aka Stinkbug, came to live with us last week. He really is a cute little guy. He has been isolated in a spare bedroom because of a cold and an eye infection. We took him to the Extreme Vet yesterday and got some medication for him. He stays isolated until another Vet visit next week. But he seems happy, friendly, active, and he eats well. That is Magi at the top of the page. Adorable, I must admit. My lack of total enthusiasm about him is strictly my own self-centeredness, for I no longer am the only black cat.

It has been another wildlife week here in Happy Meadows. A few days ago we went for a walk and encountered a big snapping turtle. He was over 20 pounds, for sure. I went up and sniffed at him and he hissed at me. So I hissed back at him as I backed away, happy to give him all the room he needed. This is what he looked like.

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And this morning as Mike and I were out for our walk down Happy Meadows Trace a Marietta Police car pulled up and stopped. The officer said he wanted us to know that a black bear had been seen in the vicinity. When we got home Mike told Judy who checked the internet and found out that the bear was seen at a park less than a 1/2 mile from where we had walked this morning. How cool is that! If he comes by maybe I could hiss at him too! Or maybe not.

In other news, I suppose you have all heard that John Lewis died a few days ago at age 80. He was one of Mike’s heroes. Representative Lewis was immensely courageous as he fought for the rights of the underprivileged all of his life. He was relentless and outspoken. He was arrested over 40 times as he practiced civil disobedience as a non-violent tactic for change. He called this getting into “Good Trouble.” He had little regard for material gain, living as he did by the guiding principle in life of “love your neighbor.” Far less famous but equally highly respected in Atlanta civil rights circles was Rev. C. T. Vivian who died the same day at age 95. He was well known for his education and for his extensive library, and was regarded as the “intellectual” of the core group of civil rights leaders. There has been an enormous outpouring of love for both of them since their passing. They both earned the love and respect of everyone whose lives they affected. Representative Lewis was known as the “Conscience of the Congress” as he always took the position of what was right, not what was expedient or advantageous for him personally. He had the advantage of not having to worry about the next election, as so many of his colleagues in Congress seem to do. Mike says if our elected officials worried less about their re-election and more about doing the people’s business we would all be a lot better off. Not one of them would have any trouble getting a good job if they lost an election. And while I am on this topic, Mike wants me to say that he thinks there should be term limits in Congress just like for the presidency. He suggests 2 terms in the Senate and 5 or 6 terms in the House of Representatives. This would avoid the problem of people gaining too much power, never a good thing.

So, we continue to be under siege by the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 infection. There has been tremendous resistance from too many people to the public health measures recommended by our leading scientists, and the whole issue has been politicized. Since it is a new infection, we are only learning about the illness and the behavior of the virus in real time. Clearly, it is a novel infection. Mike follows the medical information fairly well from his quarantined office here in Happy Meadows. It is starting to look like many survivors of infections may have long term neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary consequences. And although the elderly and infirm are more susceptible to severe illness and death, young people are not immune. There was an article in today’s paper about Kyle Gregory, a 24 year old man who played high school football near here and got an engineering degree at Georgia Southern. He died of COVID-19 a couple of days ago. Please say a prayer for him and his family. While you are at it, say prayers for the over 140,000 Americans who have already died from this disease, and for their families. We can disagree about a lot of things, but 140,000 dead people is not fake news.

I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, and not putting yourselves in harm’s way. You will hear from me again soon. Until then please wash your hands, wear your mask, keep a safe distance from others, be kind to everyone, and pray for world peace. I love you all. So long from Happy Meadows.

Still Stinkbug

So, we finally have summer weather here in Happy Meadows. Mike isn’t taking his afternoon walk, but some days he goes out to do yard work, which he enjoys very much. I hope wherever you are the heat isn’t getting to you. Mike said he saw in the paper where the high temperature in Baghdad was 118 degrees. Mike, Judy, and Michelle were in Palm Springs one day in June a couple of years ago when it got that hot. The low temperature that night was 99. I guess you get used to whatever you have to.

There is a lot of news about the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) these days. For one thing, Senator Kelly Loeffler from Georgia is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. She was appointed to the senate by Governor Brian Kemp a few months ago when Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to poor health. She had no experience in government or public service, but Kemp was looking for a woman who he hoped could appeal to suburban women voters who the party seems to be losing favor with for reasons that should be obvious. Her background is in business, and of course, she is a Republican. The other appeal to the Governor was that she agreed to spend 20 million dollars of her own money on her campaign for reelection this November. Thus far Mike thinks she is a lightweight who can’t do much more than say she supports President Trump. She has come out against players wearing a Black Lives Matter hashtag on their uniforms.  As I’m sure you all are aware, the National Football League (NFL) has done a 180 about players using their platform to express concerns about social and racial injustice. Loeffler objects to players using the #BlackLivesMatter on the uniforms, advocating instead for the American flag. She has said that the flag is a unifying symbol which is what we need in our country right now. And of course, she stands with the Great Divider-in-Chief out of the other side of her mouth. While the flag is a worthy symbol to get behind, it seems to Mike to hearken back to the “America. Love It or Leave It” mantra of the sixties. She is substituting a revered symbol to avoid dealing with current social issues; or so it seems to Mike.

On the other hand, let’s not be confused about Black Lives Matter. As a hashtag it is kickass. As a concept it calls attention to the danger that black men are in from police officers who have killed a great many black men who didn’t need to be killed. As an organization, it is another story. Mike suggests that you investigate their political agenda to make sure you can support it before you start sending them kudos or money.

The sports page these days is radically different from what one would normally expect. I’m sure today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution had more about political action and social issues by sports figures and organizations than it did about on-field action. Of course, there is very little on-field action to report. And I never expected to see both Adolph Hitler and Louis Farrakhan both mentioned in the sports page at the same time (let alone at all), but today was the day.

But getting back to the WNBA, players are demonstrating not only a strong social conscience, but also are taking action. Atlanta Dream player Renee Montgomery announced last month that she is taking a year off from basketball to work for social justice. She said her decision was made when she learned of the murder of George Floyd. Two weeks later Dream player Tiffany Hayes said she was also taking a year away from basketball to devote herself to social action. Their role model in this was Minnesota Lynx  player Maya Moore who stepped away from basketball early in 2019 to focus on criminal justice reform. She was primarily motivated to work on the case of  Jonathan Irons who was released July 1 from a Missouri prison after his conviction on assault and burglary charges was overturned. He had served 23 years of a 50 year sentence. His case was an outrageous example of the way the criminal justice system has disgraced itself in the treatment of blacks. Irons was 16 at the time of the crime that he was accused of committing, but he was tried as an adult. The prosecution claimed he confessed, which he has always denied. The officer who testified to his confession interviewed him alone,  took no notes, and made no recording of the interview. There were no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence to connect him to the crime. Furthermore, fingerprint evidence which could have cast doubt on his guilt was withheld from the defense. In another case. Johnny Lee Gates was released from a Georgia prison on May 15 after spending 43 years incarcerated for crimes that he did not commit. He was convicted in 1977 of armed robbery, rape, and murder in Columbus, Georgia. He was cleared by DNA evidence from the crime scene.

You may wonder how many people are incarcerated, some on death row, for crimes they did not commit. Of course, most incarcerated felons will proclaim their innocence. Thanks to DNA testing, we are now able to further investigate such claims. According to the Innocence Project, since 1989 in the USA 367 people have been exonerated of crimes in a total of 37 states. Of these the average time served was 14 years. Twenty-one had been convicted of a capital crime and had been on death row. Of the 367 convictions, 41 people had confessed. It is well-known that confessions are extracted under threat of conviction of a more serious crime or more time in prison. This happens to poor people who can’t afford a good lawyer. Remarkably, 69% of the convictions were based on a witness misidentifying the individual who was convicted. (In this regard, it is interesting that Jewish law requires 2 witnesses to testify against someone to get a conviction of a crime.) While these individuals sat in prison, the actual perpetrators of the crimes committed additional crimes. Of the 162 perpetrators who could be identified, they were convicted of 152 additional violent crimes including 35 murders and 82 sexual assaults. Of the 367 people who were wrongfully convicted, 225 were African Americans, 61% of the total. Mike had an eye-opening conversation with a detective in Madison, Wisconsin years ago. It was about an unsolved murder that occurred in Madison in the late 1960s. The detective told Mike that he had 3 prime suspects in the case, but could never quite put enough together to make a charge that they could get a conviction on. What was interesting, and disturbing, was that it was clear that it didn’t matter to the detective if they had the right guy or not. He just wanted a conviction to close the case, and would have been happy to pin it on any one of them.

So, we just got back from a trip to Good Mews to pick up little Stinkbug (Magi will be his name once he gets home.) Since yesterday he has developed conjunctivitis, so we left him there to be treated and cleared by their Extreme Vet. They offered us the opportunity to take a different cat. They are covered up with adorable black kittens right now. But Magi (Stinkbug) has stolen our hearts, so we will wait until the stars line up and he can come to his forever (ours) home. I will post more pictures when he gets home. Until then, don’t forget to wash your hands, mask up, keep a safe distance, pray for world peace, and be kind to your neighbors, and to their dogs and cats. You will hear from me again soon, but until then, so long from Happy Meadows.

Magi

So, it has been a few days. Mike is on a reading tear and not as available to help me with my blog. But we have something so newsworthy, that I was able to shake him loose from his latest book. He is reading up on mythology and spirituality, and who knows what else he will get into. He especially liked a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called “Holy Envy.” It is about learning to appreciate the best in other people’s religions. Of course, if you really want the inside scoop, ask a cat. As Eckhard Tolle said, “I have had many zen masters, all of them cats.”

The big news is we are getting a new kitten, a little fellow from Good Mews where Judy is a volunteer. They call him Stinkbug, but we are going to call him Magi; actually, Magi Stinkbug Gordon. The people will call him Magi, but the cats will probably call him Stinky. This is what he looks like:

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Adorable, eh? It’s about time we got another black cat. He needs to be cleared by the Extreme Vet there before we can bring him home. Very exciting stuff, although the other 3 cats act like they couldn’t be less interested. They will perk up when Magi progresses from a potential cat to a real cat. I will keep you posted.

There remains a high level of polarization in our country, although you couldn’t really tell just by hanging out in Happy Meadows. It is as though a major segment of society has just awakened to the fact that black people continue to be mistreated in various and significant ways. And it is not just that there has been a new awareness, but that lots of people seem to care about it and want things to be set right. There will be significant push back by people wanting to preserve white privilege. Mike heard Brooke Gladstone on the radio the other day make the point that many of the poor white people in our country are trying to defend a white privilege that they don’t even get to benefit from. Interesting. As a black cat, just let me say that both from a study of history, and my personal experience, you don’t get treated the same. For me this is just a challenge, part of my life; but for others, 2-legged and 4- legged alike, things could improve. And it is not just black people. The treatment of Native Americans continues to be a national disgrace. As an example, Native Americans are disrespected in ways that other groups would not tolerate. If the Washington Redskins had been the Washington Kikes, the name would have been changed years ago. It does seem that the owner is going to finally yield to pressure that has never been there before. It will be interesting to see what happens.

So, the COVID-19 virus has not melted away in the hot weather like the Divider-in-Chief said it would. We have now surpassed 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths worldwide. Things are getting out of control, and if people don’t start masking and distancing, a lot more people are going to die. Get smart, y’all, the situation is nearing critical. A lot of people, Mike included, don’t like to be told what they can’t do or have to do, but if everyone just decided to be considerate of the common welfare we all would be safer. After all, a lot of people don’t like the idea of having to have driver’s licences, buy car insurance, wear seat belts, or pay taxes, but they do it anyway. We do have to concede that being a member of society confers certain obligations.

This would be a good time to celebrate the passage and the signing into law of the hate crimes bill in Georgia. It was passed as a bipartisan effort, and signed by a Republican Governor, although he never took a public stance on whether he was in favor of it or not. It included the LGTBQ community, which had been the roadblock for the past 16 years since the Georgia Supreme Court knocked down the hate crimes bill passed in 2000 as “unconstitutionally vague.” It’s about time, and ironically, would not have passed if not for the coronavirus pandemic. The Georgia legislature shut down along with the rest of the state in March, April, and May, during which time Armaud Aubury was murdered in Brunswick in what was an obvious targeting because he was black. Then George Floyd was murdered in Mike’s home town of Minneapolis, and suddenly Black Lives Matter mattered. So, when the legislature reconvened in June the hate crimes bill had strong bipartisan support that it did not have had in March, and Georgia no longer has the disgrace of being 1 or only 4 states in the country without such a statute. Who are the others, you ask? they are Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming. Some people also count Indiana, whose statute some say is very weak.

And let’s not fail to wish a big happy birthday to the USA, still a great country and a great place to live. The bombs were bursting in air the other night as people were having a good time and letting off some steam. Some of my dog pals were terrified, which is unfortunate, but they are okay now.

So, before I leave, may I encourage everyone to mask up. If we don’t the coronavirus will go on a feeding frenzy that everyone will regret, liberals, conservatives, and don’t-give-a-craps alike. Please, please, please, and thank you. And there are advantages to wearing a mask. As Jim Galloway pointed out in his column in the AJC yesterday, while wearing a mask our good Georgia Baptists will be able to go into liquor stores unrecognized. And on a more serious note, in a stroke of unexpected (by me) genius, Georgia Governor Kemp warned that if everyone doesn’t mask up and stay that way, there will be no college football this fall. If that doesn’t stimulate behavior change nothing will. Until then don’t forget to love your neighbor, pray for world peace, and extend a helping hand wherever possible. We love you all, and hope your favorite team wins. So long from Happy Meadows!

 

A Sampling of Craziness

So, a lot is going on here in Happy Meadows, and elsewhere in Atlanta, in Georgia, and around the world. Here is a sampling.

Yesterday was Juneteenth, which I suppose now everybody knows about, thanks to our fearless leader who said it is he who made it famous. He said that until he scheduled his rally in Tulsa for that date, nobody know about it. The nobody he referred to, specifically, was the few people he has left in the white House who advise him or assist him in his leaderly activities. But maybe he thinks this group is representative of the larger group of nobodies we have in this country, you and I included.  Remarkably, he says that he has done more for black people (not to mention black cats) than any other president, I suppose, excluding Abe Lincoln.

And speaking of Donald, John Bolton’s book has been reviewed by the press, and will be released next week. In the book he tells what are alleged to be more dirty secrets about life in the White House. And he criticized the Dems for not expanding their charges in the impeachment proceeding. Of course, he refused to testify, saying the Dems would have to subpoena him, which would have rendered the whole process moot due to the length of time it would have taken to get him to testify. What it seems he was doing was protecting the 2 million dollar income he will get for his book, a better deal for him than giving it to Congress for nothing. But maybe I am too cynical.

And speaking of Tulsa, where Trump’s rally occurs today, what a lot of people will learn about that was never taught in their US History classes is the massacre that occurred there in 1921, during which an entire black community was destroyed in a fire set by a white mob, and 300 people were murdered. Thank you Donald for exposing this ugly bit of real history. This event is not entirely unrelated to the remarkable revival of the Black Lives Matter movement, in that it addresses the failure of black people to experience protection of persons and property by local police. Hopefully, there will be enough momentum generated that real change will take place in achieving equality for all Americans. Michelle had some good exposure this week, both in an interview on Fox News, and her being quoted in an article published in Facing South written by Rolando Zenteno about monuments to Confederate leaders. Go you Michelle!

Mike ran across some figures that I will share. COVID-19 isn’t the only health problem people should be concerned about. People are avoiding going to the ER when they are ill, so that by the time they or a loved one call for help, it can be too late. In New York City between March 1 and April 25, 2020, there were 3989 instances in which a patient needed rescussitation from the EMTs on a 911 call. The number of cases for the same period the prior year, 2019, was 1336. This is an almost 300% increase. Furthermore, of the 3989 people only 10.6% were successfully revived, as opposed to 25.7% of the cases from the previous year. The logical conclusion to reach from this is that people are waiting too long to ask for help when they are sick, because they are afraid to go to the hospital. Actually a hospital is one of the safer places to go because of the infectious disease precautions they have put in place. Compare a hospital to a large public gathering, such as a protest march or a Trump rally, in which people are jammed together, and many or most people are not wearing masks. Mike thinks we are in for an increase in COVID-19 cases, not a decrease as many predicted and all have wished for.

And, do you remember all the talk about the opioid epidemic? Well, it seems to not have gone away. You may not know that heroin is rapidly being supplanted on the streets in many cities by fentanyl, which is cheaper to make and more potent and deadly. Well, look out fentanyl, you have competition. Those clever chemists from China have synthesized a new drug, isotonitazene (“iso”), which is now causing 40-50 overdose deaths per month in this country, as opposed to about 6 per month last summer. Since it is a new drug, it has yet to be listed by the DEA as illegal. It is a derivative of etionitazene, which is illegal. As long as there is no way of banning entire classes of drugs the government will never catch up with the chemists.  And here is another disturbing fact about opioid overdoses. Of all the patients who come to an emergency department with an accidental opioid overdose, and who are revived, 5 per cent will die within the following year. Most of the deaths are from another opioid overdose; and many occur within the next 2-3 days. Unfortunately, the treatment offered upon leaving the emergency department is often nothing more than a recommendation to seek help at a community health clinic, and to attend 12-step meetings. Without a direct and immediate institution of intensive treatment, including what is referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), relapse is almost inevitable.

In the schizophrenic world in which we live two events have occurred within the past week. First, the US Supreme Court has ruled that an employer can’t fire a person solely on the basis of being gay or transgender. At almost the same time, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights issued a rule that removed protections that had banned health care providers and health plans from discriminating against LGBTQ patients, women, and others. The American Medical Association’s new president, Dr. Susan Bailey, issued the following statement: “The federal government should never make it more difficult for individuals to access health care—during a pandemic or any other time.”

And, on another topic that nobody has ever heard of, did you know that esports is rapidly growing in popularity? Esports is watching other people play video games via a streaming platform, such as Twitch. The estimated worldwide audience in 2018 was 380 million people. Betting on esports is expected to reach 10 billion dollars this year. What?

So, I know I am a broken record, but it is another beautiful day here in Happy Meadows. I hope it is equally lovely wherever you are as well. Tomorrow is another Hallmark holiday, Father’s Day. Happy F.D., y’all. Michelle is coming over, and Judy is making chili and cornbread. The cats will get our usual kibble, and a wet food treat in the evening. It will be some kind of fish, no doubt. We were offered some beef and chicken pate this past week, which Shayna Maidel lapped up like mad, only to throw it up all over everything a few minutes later. The rest of us were only too glad to let her have it all, and after cleaning up after her, Mike put the rest of the can down the grinder. Luckily, Judy only bought the one can. We hope you are well, happy, and at peace. Stay safe, love your neighbor, and pray for world peace, por favor. We love you all.

The Prince of Wei

So, Mike has started a major reading project, going through his collection of books which rest quietly in his library, waiting to discharge their wisdom when called upon to do so. Yesterday he reread Thomas Merton’s “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”  (New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, copyrighted by the Abbey of Gesthemani, 1965.) Chuang Tzu was a writer who lived about 2400 years ago, and is the primary source of information on Lao Tzu and Taoism. Merton took selected writings from translations and put his own imprint on them, making the material more accessible to the modern reader. Mike wants to share a couple of readings. The first is excerpted from “The Fasting of the Heart.”(page 50-51.) It relates a conversation between Confucius and his disciple, Yen Hui.

Yen Hui, the favorite disciple of Confucius, came to take leave of his master.

     ‘Where are you going?’ asked Confucius.

     ‘I am going to Wei.’

     ‘And what for?’

     ‘I have heard that the Prince of Wei is a lusty full-blooded fellow and is entirely self-willed. He takes no care of his people and refuses to see any fault in himself. He pays no attention to the fact that his subjects are dying right and left. Corpses lie all over the country like hay in a field. The people are desperate. But I have heard you, Master, say that one should leave the state that is well governed and go to that which is in disorder. At the door of the physician there are plenty of sick people. I want to take this opportunity to put into practice what I have learned from you and see if I can bring about some improvement in conditions there.’

     ‘Alas!’ said Confucius, ‘you do not realize what you are doing. You will bring disaster on yourself. Tao has no need of your eagerness, and you will only waste your energy in your misguided efforts………..This man is convinced that he alone is right. He may pretend outwardly to take an interest in an objective standard of justice, but do not be deceived by his expression. He is not accustomed to being opposed by anyone. His way is to reassure himself that he is right by trampling on other people. If he does this with mediocre men, he will all the more certainly do it to one who presents a threat by claiming to be a man of high qualities. He will cling stubbornly to his own way. He may pretend to be interested in your talk about what is objectively right, but interiorly he will not hear you, and there will be no change whatever. You will get nowhere with this.”  

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here is another type of person, more to be admired, “The Kingly Man.” (page 72.)

“My Master said:

That which acts on all and meddles in none–is heaven…..

The Kingly Man realizes this, hides it in his heart,

Grows boundless, wide-minded, draws all to himself.

And so his lets the gold lie hidden in the mountain,

Leaves the pearl lying in the deep.

Goods and possessions are no gain in his eyes,

He stays far from wealth and honor.

Long life is no ground for joy, nor early death for sorrow.

Success is not for him to be proud of, failure is no shame.

Had he all the world’s power he would not hold it as his own.

If he conquered everything he would not take it to himself.

His glory is in knowing that all things come together in One

And life and death are equal.”

 

Itypically results from being unloved in early childhood by parents who are too preoccupied by their own lives. Often they have been unloved themselves, and have no love to offer.  Such people are interminably angry, and can become a bottomless pit of need for admiration and aggrandizement. It is a hole that no one can fill. But I wonder what would happen if all of the Prince of Wei’s subjects loved him. They wouldn’t necessarily tell him, having no platform for doing so. And they wouldn’t sing his praises either. They would just quietly love him in their hearts,  because they are good people and they know he is unloved. He was unloved at first because he was in the way as a child, and subsequently because his behavior has been more reflective of the terrible twos than that of a mature man. And the Prince’s subjects will pray for him. They will pray that all the things that they pray for for themselves will be granted to the Prince as well. It is a better way. God bless the Prince of Wei.

And what is it that the Kingly Man knows? He knows that in this world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, sun and moon, male and female, rich and poor, dog and cat, and day and night, that impermanence and eternity can co-exist, and that the greatest reality is the Oneness of all existence.

So, it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Happy Meadows. I hope all of you have sunshine in your lives, and that you find peace in the storms that blow through your neighborhoods. Until next time, stay healthy, have fun, be kind to your neighbors, and take things one day at a time. We love you all.

“You Should Get a Microwave”

So, it has been another interesting week inside and outside of Happy Meadows. On the home front, the most newsworthy item was Michelle coming for a visit and coming inside the house, with permission of Dr. K.  The two-leggeds wore masks, and sat out in the screened porch about 6-8 feet apart. We four-leggeds all came out to explore, and Jackson ate an entire spider’s web. I can’t believe he ate the whole thing! And he didn’t even get sick. What a guy!

So, Mike might have been wrong about Spoiled Donald successfully using the “Law and Order” mantra to increase his popularity. He remains adored by people who are committed to his White Privilege and Nativist political point of view, but he doesn’t seem to be attracting many middle-of-the-roaders. Things have changed rapidly since he took office. When Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reed knelt for the national anthem to protest police brutality to African-Americans before the start of a football game in 2017 many people couldn’t see past the action to understand the symbolism behind it. Trump made a big deal out of it, saying that the owners should fire players who don’t stand and salute the flag during the playing of the national anthem. If Kaepernick and Reed didn’t love their country they wouldn’t have risked their careers and financial well-being to make a statement. The mostly white, mostly billionaire team owners knuckled under to Spoiled Donald’s threats to take away their tax breaks if they didn’t blackball the players and prevent further protests of this kind. Partly it was protecting their businesses, and partly they just didn’t know that blacks are routinely subjected to brutality by some police officers. Now, less than 4 years later Drew Brees says something understandable like he can’t support disrespecting the flag and thousands of people jump all over him. Someone explained to him that kneeling for the national anthem was a way of calling attention to a problem in our society that runs counter to what our country stands for: namely freedom and equality under the law. So he apologized and said he now understands it isn’t about the flag at all. From my standpoint as a black cat, he seems to be representative of millions of decent, freedom loving American white people who just haven’t known what black people (or black cats) live with on a daily basis, but thought that they have understood. Our country is reacting to the killing of black people by police officers like they never have before. Part of this is the exposure that the acts have had through video footage. It’s hard to watch a white police officer with a bored look on his face, kneeling so long on a handcuffed black man’s neck, a man who repeatedly says he can’t breathe, with 3 other officers standing there watching, until the black man stops breathing. Really hard to watch.

I have never seen anything like that happen in Happy Meadows, and neither has anyone else who lives here. We have the privilege of living in a peaceful community where nobody bothers us. We never have to wonder if we go out to run errands if a policeman is going to pull us over because we look suspicious, a crime known as driving a nice car while black. I say this, but there are black people who live in Happy Meadows, and they do put themselves at risk simply by leaving the neighborhood. But I haven’t heard of it happening here. Mike, being a white person, hasn’t had much of this discriminatory experience to deal with. I say not much, because there have been incidents. He has been called a dirty Jew by young male cowards as they drove by in their car while he was in his yard back in the late 1960’s in Wisconsin. He married an African-American woman in 1977, still in Wisconsin, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone as far as he could tell, excepting, of course, his family. The funny thing about this was that his brother didn’t care that she was black, but was outraged that she wasn’t Jewish. Mike and his brother were estranged for several years because of this. I will share a story Mike tells about a time when he, Penny, and Michelle were in Kansas City for a family Bar Mitzvah. Michelle was four years old at the time. They were staying at a Doubletree hotel, and the morning of the Bar Mitzvah they went to eat breakfast at the cafe in the hotel. They were seated, and their order taken, but the food never arrived. Everyone else around them was served, but they were not. When Mike asked about their order the server assured them it was on its way. After an hour it was time to go to the synagogue for the service, so they got up to leave. Mike and Penny discussed whether they were going to lodge a complaint with the management, but decided not to give them the satisfaction. However, as they were leaving the table but still inside the cafe, Michelle said in a loud voice, “You should get a microwave.”

There is a discussion going on in the White House about whether Spoiled Donald should address the nation about the issue of police brutality and protests that are going on in our country. It is being reported that some of his advisors are for an address, and some are against it. Both sides argue that adopting their position would result in increased popularity for the president. Nothing is being discussed, I suspect, about what the right thing to do would be. By the way, did you see that picture of our president holding up a bible? There was no writing on the front, so you couldn’t tell if he was holding it right-side up or upside-down. I doubt if he could tell the difference, at least based on his demonstrated total lack of empathy which is a requirement for living by the Golden Rule. What got me was the look on his face. He looked like a four-year-old whose mother was making him sit still in church. A lot of people are upset about the way he had people pepper-bombed out of the way for his photo-op. His popularity is slipping, but he demonstrates great resiliency, and a lot of things could happen between now and November to get him re-elected. Besides, if he loses you can count on him challenging the vote in court, and when it gets to the Supreme Court he could prevail, just like George W. Bush did in 2000. It should be interesting. By the way, I wrote a piece 3 years ago discussing where we are as a country after being challenged by someone on Facebook to respond to a post about our country needing to live by Christian values. I just reread it, and it is germane to what is happening right now. If you are interested you can find my post from June 25, 2017 entitled “A Serious Look at Pseudo-Patriotism.”

So once again I defied Mike’s request that I stay away from political topics. I’m sure he will get over it. After all, he gets it that I am a black cat, and I like to remind him that speaking out is important. He had a great sense of dread when Trump won the election, and says he never knew until that happened how much he loves his country, and the people who live in it. So, I will say whatever I need to, and I’m sure he will understand. And the truth is, I do have a lot more to say. Stay tuned, or if you prefer, try another station. Maybe you prefer Rush Limbaugh, who in 2006 when Michael J. Fox did a TV ad for candidate for Senator Claire McCaskill, said he was faking his Parkinson’s tremor. Nice. Decency goes a long way, I’m thinking. I hope you are all decent in every way today. Be safe, be well, pray for world peace, and be nice to your neighbor. I love you all. So long from Happy Meadows.

We Need a Fool in the White House

So, you would never know it from our vantage point in Happy Meadows, but things are not well. Things here in Happy Meadows are fine. We take walks every day. People are nice; birds sing; squirrels and chipmunks scurry around; dogs go for walks with their people; cats slink through bushes, snoop around, and sun themselves. But go inside and turn on the news, and it’s a different story. Mike doesn’t like it when I express political opinions, but Mike doesn’t always get what he wants, and this is one of those times. So, too bad, Mike.

You might recall that a few years ago I wrote about people being upset about the results of a selection (“Tis the Season,” 12/26/2016.) Since then I learned than the correct term is election. Silly me. Anyway, it seems that there will be another election this year in which Donald Trump, the president and current head of the Republican Party, will run against the Democrat Party candidate, presumably Joe Biden. Feelings in the country are strong on both sides. The main thing Trump had going for him was the economy, which was strong with very low unemployment. Trump, naturally, took credit for this just as Bill Clinton took credit for the strong economy when he was president; and he got re-elected in 1996 with no trouble. But early this year along came the coronavirus, and the economy went into the crapper overnight. Trump is such a polarizing person that most people had made their minds up already. They either loved or hated him. He has been the most unpopular president in the history of modern times, ever since presidential polls were a thing. He is the only president to never achieve 50% or more popularity. But the election is not a popularity contest. It is decided by the electoral college, (an arcane institution which was set up by our constitution,) and not by popular vote. That is how he won in the first place, as his opponent, Hilary Clinton, got around 3 million more votes than he did and still lost the election. This could happen for Trump again. But, it may be that the coronavirus has done for the Democrats what they could not do for themselves.

Now it seems that the Republicans may have had a stroke of luck, in the person of Derek Chauvin, a (now fired) policeman in Minneapolis who is at this moment sitting in jail accused of murdering a black man, George Floyd, who he had on the ground, handcuffed, and it seems, choked him to death. Since then there have been riots and firebombings in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and other cities, with the calling up of the National Guard to restore order, and cries of “Law and Order” coming from Trump and the Republicans. Mike recalls a similar period in the late 1960’s when the country was angry over Civil Rights and Viet Nam, and the cities burned. The 1968 Democratic political convention in Chicago was marked by protests in the streets and brutal reprisals by the Chicago police. (An investigation chaired by former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, a Democrat, called it a “police riot.”) Hubert Humphrey was nominated and should have beaten Richard Nixon, but didn’t. Mike says there were 2 reasons that he lost. First, the voters reacted against all the violence with fear, and thought Nixon was a safer choice. “Law and Order,” and the “Silent Majority,” and all that. The other reason is that Humphrey didn’t speak out against the war, reluctant to oppose the sitting Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson. Mike liked Humphrey, and thought he would be a stabilizing influence in the country that we badly needed at that time. We have a similar situation now, where the Republicans who disagree with Trump’s actions are afraid to say anything for fear of angering him and losing their own power. So, Derek Chauvin may have done for the Republicans what they could not do for themselves. If we have another summer like 1968 the Democrats may be in trouble.

And speaking of people in power, Mike just ran through another reading of King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure most of you have read it, but maybe not since high school; so I will summarize it in part, preparatory to making a point. Lear was an absolute monarch who at the age of 80 decided to abdicate his throne and give power to his 3 daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. This would have appeared to be a very dumb idea to almost anyone, but there you go. He held a big to-do where he invited each of them to flatter him and tell him how much they loved him. Goneril and Regan stepped up to the plate and laid it on thick in speeches disgusting in their obvious insincerity. Cordelia on the other hand wouldn’t play. She just said she loved him, and that was that. Nothing to make you want to puke. Lear got mad, banished her from the country, and she left with her boyfriend, the King of France, I think. The next thing you know, Lear is out on his butt, broke and undomiciled, having driven off the only friend he still had, the Earl of Kent. Now his only companion is the Fool, a character he calls “boy,” and who remains loyal. The Fool is a character who is like a court jester, and who is allowed by Lear to tell him the truth that he won’t listen to from anyone else. Not that it profits him. Lear descends into total madness, and after this happens the Fool disappears from the play. There are subplots and lots of people are murdered or commit suicide, but here is why I bring it up. Every hero of a tragedy has a “tragic flaw” which brings about their downfall. Usually it is hubris, false pride, a sense of infallibility. Lear has this in spades. Most people who have an inflated opinion of themselves really have a hidden sense of inadequacy lying underneath. Such people are what is called in AA an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. In the case of Lear, he wouldn’t listen to anyone until it was too late. He did listen to the Fool, but as I said, not until it was too late. But at least he listened, and acknowledged his mistakes as he was becoming totally insane. People like to watch tragedies because they see the thing unfold like a slow-moving train wreck. They imagine at some level that it could happen to them, but instead it is happening to the poor slob on stage.

Why do I bring this up? Why, of course, because we have a Lear-type character in the White House right now. We have a president who really believes that he knows more about everything than anyone else. He won’t listen to anyone, and frequently banishes people he becomes angry with from his Kingdom (so to speak.) I think we all would be better off if he had a Fool, someone who would play with him, joke around, be silly, but at the same time speak profound truths to him……truths that he would listen to, and take seriously. I’m not being critical specifically about his policies, although I could be. But people can have different points of view about things. I am more concerned about his belief that he can’t be wrong, and about the actions that he might take based solely on his own judgment. This is potentially a dangerous situation given the power of his office.

Here is an example. Just a couple of days ago he announced that he was withdrawing our country’s financial support for the World Health Organization (WHO). He is angry about the pandemic ruining our economy, and has to blame someone and act out. Mike thinks this action will have 4 direct effects: 1) it will severely handicap the WHO; 2) it will turn the agency over fully to the influence of China; 3) it will further undermine our country’s influence and position as leader of the free world; and 4) it will be a severe set-back to the world’s fight against the pandemic. Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association ( see “Progress and More Progress,” 6/14/2019) , had this to say about his action. “This senseless action will have a significant harmful repercussions now and far beyond this perilous moment, particularly as the WHO is leading the worldwide vaccine development and drug trials to combat the pandemic.” Truly, we need a Fool in the White House. I could say a lot more but don’t think I will. If I have offended anyone I could say I am sorry, but I am not. Certainly, you don’t have to agree with me. It’s nothing personal. We can, I hope, still love each other and be friends. God bless the United States of America.

In other news, I saw Mike at the side of the house with his pole saw trimming a branch away from the eave on the garage (no ladders involved.) So he must have been cleared by his doctor to start doing yard work. He will be off dietary restrictions in July. Maybe we can order sushi again. Wouldn’t that be the bomb! We have started zoom visiting with our far-flung family, a total delight. I hope you have been able to make the best of your restrictions. Something good can always come out of a tough situation. Nothing more to report from Happy Meadows today. Please be safe, wash your hands, be nice to your neighbors, pray for world peace, and pet your cats and dogs. They love you. Bye bye until next time!

A Perversion of Psychiatry

So, Mike and I are back to the awful topic of genocide, relating specifically to the participation of psychiatrists in this heinous crime. We are particularly offended by the grotesque misapplication of psychiatric theory and practice to the political field, justifying murder of the “other.”

Two psychiatrists, Jovan Raskovic and Radovan Karadzic, were responsible for utilizing psychiatric theory as a justification for Serbian domination of the Yugoslavian federation of governments. Composed of 6 states and even more ethnic groups, as well as diverse religious groups including Roman Catholics, Orthodox churches, and Muslims, and with the recent history of the Nazi occupation and complicity of some Croats with the Nazis, the challenge of peaceful coexistence in Yugoslavia was overwhelming. And it broke down after the death of Marshall Josep Broz Tito in 1980. The Serbs believed that they were  naturally disposed to rule, and a psychological construct was developed, based on a bizarre misapplication of Freudian theory, to support their position. Raskovic’s view was that the Serbs bore an Oedipal complex which compelled them to kill the “Father”, the government of Yugoslavia. Their reward would be the “Mother”, symbolized by the land of Yugoslavia. He said the Croats had a “fear of castration” which rendered them incompetent to exercise authority and hold power. He published a manifesto, Luda Zemlja, had great success in promulgating his theories and, whipping up the Serbs to a frenzy of aggression, established the Serbian Democratic Party.  As his health was failing, he put his protege, Karadzic, another psychiatrist, as head of the party.

Karadzic used his knowledge of psychiatry to inflict terror on the groups that he persecuted, particularly the Bosnian Muslims. Now known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” he used rape as a tool of intimidation and social disruption. As his troops killed, maimed, and raped, he terrified the victim population not only to flee, but to not want to return to the scene of their horrific experience as an element of his “ethnic cleansing” program. The raped Muslim women were socially disgraced, not accepted by their communities, and many committed suicide. This anticipated result was designed to among other things, reduce the reproductive capability of the Bosnian Muslims. Karadzic was convicted of war crimes for his role in the Srebenica Massacre and other massacres of Bosnians.

The Nazis had their own whacked out theories of their ethnic superiority, and convinced themselves that they were more suited to rule (and exist) than others. They carried the characterization of the “other” groups to subhuman extremes as a justification for genocide against the Jews, Romani, and the slaughter of homosexuals, intellectually disabled persons, schizophrenics, epileptics, and others whom they considered undesirables. They found little difficulty in gaining the cooperation of psychiatrists in their madness. Six months after Hitler became chancellor of Germany, a compulsory sterilization law was passed requiring the sterilization of individuals with various neurologic and psychiatric diseases. Among these was “hereditary alcoholism.”

The background of support for this kind of idea was the eugenics movement which had gained great popularity in the United States during the early 20th century. This is not to say that the characterization of Jews as racially defective began at that time, because it did not. Jews had been characterized by the composer Richard Wagner, among others,  as “parasites” and “vermin” decades earlier, and was a direct influence on Hitler, who used the same terms in his manifesto, Mein Kampf. The term eugenics was originated in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. The aim of this philosophy was to “breed out” human disease and suffering by promoting the reproduction of people with desirable characteristics, and sterilizing those who had undesirable attributes. It should be noted that this idea was first proposed by Plato in his classic work, The Republic. In the US, the American Breeders Association was formed in 1903 to further the cause of eugenics. In 1911 J. H. Kellogg, the corn flakes guy, founded the Race Betterment Foundation which established a pedigree registry. Laws were passed in several states forbidding marriage of different classes of “defectives” and mandating sterilizations of mentally ill persons. The US Supreme Court upheld the practice in a 1927 decision in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.” It took 15 years for this decision to be overturned, but not before tens of thousands of men and women were sterilized.  And while not official policy, an extraordinary number of Native American women were sterilized, many without their consent (such as during an appendectomy.) In Hitler’s  Mein Kampf, dictated while he was imprisoned, he mentions the eugenics movement in America, and he strenuously advocated for the purity of the Aryan gene pool, using whatever means necessary, including genocide.

During the 1930s Germany’s mental hospitals were overcrowded, with most of the patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. In a paper published in Germany in 1925 entitled Permission for the Destruction of Unworthy Life, written by attorney Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche, it was suggested that some persons are “on an intellectual level which we only encounter way down in the animal kingdom.” The economic burden of caring for such persons was a major aspect of their argument. Another psychiatrist, Berthold Kihn, wrote in 1932 that mentally ill individuals were costing Germany 150 million Reichsmarks per year. His paper was entitled The Eradication of the Less Valuable from Society.

Although the killing of mental patients was under discussion in Germany throughout the 1930s, it was not until 1939 that action was undertaken. On September 1, 1939, the same day that Germany invaded Poland, Hitler issued an authorization for the killing of mental patients. After carefully accounting for all the hospitalized mental patients, along with their diagnoses, plans were made to carry out the exterminations. Early in 1940 the first 20 such patients were made to undress and led into a “shower room” at the Bradenburg Asylum where they were killed with carbon monoxide gas. Their gold fillings were removed and the bodies cremated. Over the next 1 and 1/2 years over 70,000 patients had been killed in this manner in the program known as Aktion T-4. A total of 6 killing centers had been constructed, and they competed with each other. One center had a special celebration to mark the killing of the ten-thousandth patient. All employees received a bottle of beer. Nor was gas the only means of killing. Many were dispatched by shooting, drug overdose, or starvation. In fact, it is thought that of the approximately 250,000 mentally ill patients killed, at least 100,000 were starved to death. As many as 10,000 of the murdered were children. And once the gassing of mental patients was found to be so effective and efficient, as we all know, they instituted the program at the concentration camps to implement “The Final Solution” to the elimination of the Jewish population. Another doctor, Josef Mengele, ” was a notorious sadist who carried out gruesome experiments on inmates at Auschwitz. It is so disturbing how entire societies can degenerate into madness, and how complicit in the madness doctors can be, especially psychiatrists.  Don’t doctors take an oath to do no harm?

And on a happier note, I can report that Mike had a good report from one of his oncologists this week. He will have a telehealth visit with his other oncologist next week. I expect good news there as well. In fact, I expect good news for an extended period of time. Let’s have prayers, please for Mike’s friend Ellis, who starts radiation next week for prostate cancer. At his stage of life now many of Mike’s friends have been treated for cancer, and right now things are going well for all of them. Good medical care, a cooperative patient, and prayer energy make for a powerful combination. I hope all of you are well, and that you continue to take the coronavirus seriously. If you don’t it might just take you seriously. Don’t forget to love your neighbor, be positive and hopeful, and pray for world peace. Until next time, so long from Happy Meadows.

Good Golly, Miss Molly

So, just a few days ago “Little Richard” Penniman died at the age of 87. He burst onto the popular music scene in the 1950’s, and successfully crossed the race line that had divided popular music up to that time. His brand of music was innovative, bawdy, and had a pounding rhythm. Mike was an instant fan. Mike and Judy saw him perform not that many years ago in Mableton, Georgia, and enjoyed themselves immensely. Mike recalls he did a little preaching as well as performing his music. As with many people who are thrust into stardom from a simple life, Little Richard had more than his fill of drugs, sex, and wild and weird experiences.  He was one of the greats.

So, a few days ago a story came on line about a Chinese study investigating whether the COVID-19 virus could be recovered from semen. While possibly not the most pressing COVID-19 issue, it still could be of some interest or importance. The investigators identified 50 male patients aged 15 or older who were or had been hospitalized with the COVID-19 infection during a 3 week period early in 2020. They were able to obtain semen samples from 38 patients. The other 12 were reported to be either comatose, dead, or otherwise unable to have an erection. They did identify the virus in the semen of a few hospitalized patients, and in 2 convalescent patients. So, this could be a new STD. However, just because they found viral particles in the semen it does not mean that the particles were necessarily infectious. Further studies are warranted.

So, after a cold, wet spring  we went almost 2 weeks with no rain. But now we are back to cool and wet again. The flowers are beautiful this year. Here are a couple of our iris, and our neighbor’s magnolia.

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The iris are just about done, but there is always a nice sequence of blooms of one sort or another to enjoy.

Mike, Judy and I are walking every morning. Mike and I go out again in the afternoon. We are averaging over 3 miles per day, and Sunday we did 5. I might let Mike go out by himself on the afternoon walks as it gets hotter. He just signed up for Sirius streaming, so he won’t be much company any more if he gets into his talk radio shows. He hasn’t listened to Sirius since he has been confined in March because he only had it on the car radio.

Mike sees his doctors later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes, but we are not expecting anything particularly newsworthy.

So, I have a couple of more serious topics to go into, but I don’t want to spoil the mood now; so, it can wait. I hope that wherever you are the sky is blue, the birds are singing, and the flowers are beautiful and fragrant. Don’t forget to pray for world peace, love your neighbor, and be safe, safe, safe. So long from Happy Meadows!