Fishing in a central Florida swamp.

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Sunset reflecting on distant clouds.

I took a much needed break to see my son in Florida for a few days this week.

I made a vow that this time I would put my camera away and actually just enjoy our time instead of constantly brandishing my phone to get dozens of “must have” pictures, most which I never bother posting or ever looking at again anyway.    I mean, how many more beach pictures do I (or you?) really need?  Yes, the Gulf Coast beaches are stunning (especially at sunset) and I’m a sucker for beach pictures of any type anyway, but I successfully resisted the temptation to snap photos this time.   There are plenty of beach and sunset pictures on this blog already.

However, I did cave when we went fishing on our last day (Friday), because we were in a stunningly beautiful wetland area in an inland town called Inverness.

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Yes, you would be correct to assume it was beastly hot and almost unbearably humid, as you might expect such an area in Florida to be in August, but we still had so much fun.    It was surprisingly un-buggy (probably due to all the dragonflies around who catch the mosquitoes), and the fish were definitely biting!

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First, we drove to a brackish lake to catch the small bait fish (I caught five but had to throw two back because they were too large to use as bait fish), then on to the wetlands to do the real fishing!    My son (who purchased his fishing license at Walmart that morning), my daughter, and a friend all caught a few rather large freshwater bass (they were thrown back except for two, which will be eaten later, though not by me).    I caught no bass, but had a blast taking pictures of the scenery (we stayed past sunset) and everyone else’s catches.

Enjoy the photos. (The above photos were taken at the lake where we caught the bait; the ones below were taken at the actual fishing site about a mile away, as was the one at the top of this post which was taken near sunset).

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I love her slightly disgusted expression.  But she was thrilled about catching her first fish ever.

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That’s Spanish moss dripping from the trees, and in the background you can see a makeshift swing hanging from a branch.  I guess people actually swim here.  Yuck.  I sure wouldn’t.

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The same view as above just before sunset.

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The water was like a mirror.

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Here you can actually see a bit of the small bait fish inside the bass’ mouth.

 

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The Christian Right is Brainwashing People I Love

Currently, one of my favorite blogs is the progressive Christian pastor John Pavlovitz’ blog Stuff That Needs to Be Said.     There have been so many times I’ve wanted to reblog his wonderful, very readable articles, but alas, his blog features no reblog button.   Therefore, I will just provide the link to his latest.

There is so much truth in his posts.  Every time I read them, I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  There is so much I can relate to in them.

The Christian Right has indeed become quite terrifying, as they have weaponized a religion that was intended by its founder to be peaceful and based on love in order to achieve an evil and heartless political agenda based on power and greed.    It has become more like a cult than a religion, but sadly, a lot of people are buying it.

The Christian Right Is Radicalizing White People I Love

Is it wrong to laugh during ‘serious times’?

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Well, it depends.

A random tweet I saw this morning:

What I have noticed on Twitter is that people are so angry that even when I make a joke, they say “this is no time for jokes,” this is a serious time. The craziest people on Earth are people who try to mold your Twitter page to their personal liking. It’s absolutely insane.

It’s not just Twitter, though.  This attitude is pervasive all across social media and in real life, too.   Of course people are jumpy, on edge, stressed out, scared, and angry.  That’s perfectly understandable in times like these.  But if you make a joke or try to make light of the gravity of our national and political situation, many people become offended.    And I’m not referring to Trump supporters here.

I understand some jokes are in poor taste.  For example, I would never make fun of the caged children at the border, or the many people suffering right now because of Trump’s cruel policies.  I would never laugh at someone’s funeral.  That’s punching down, it’s bullying, and it’s mean.  That’s the kind of thing Trump does (remember when he made fun of the disabled reporter?  Yeah, that’s punching down and punching down is never funny).

But I will certainly make fun of him, and the powerful people who work for him, and yes, at his supporters too, who I see as willfully ignorant at best, sociopathic at worst.   I will make fun of his terrible gaffes, his inappropriate behavior at televised events, his word salad, his disheveled appearance, his malignant narcissism.

And if you take offense because the situation he has put us in is “too serious for jokes,” then all I can say is maybe you need to grow a sense of humor, and maybe you’ll find out that being able to laugh at the terrible things he does makes this dark time in our history a little bit easier to bear.

I think keeping a sense of humor when things are dark and the future looks uncertain is essential to our mental and spiritual health.   The ability to laugh, even gallows humor (laughing AT the evil and making light of it, NOT at the victims of the evil) is a necessary survival tool. Those who can’t laugh in the darkness are far less resilient emotionally and spiritually, and more likely to succumb to terror, despair, or worse.

Chocolate decadence.

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Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.   The torte is dense, and taste of chocolate is INTENSE.

You can purchase the mix in your grocery store, in the baking isle (if they carry this brand).   Who knew you could find something this decadent and delicious in a box?

 

 

How a narcissist really sees you.

I saw this meme yesterday describing how narcissists really regard their victims.  This analogy is as accurate as anything I’ve ever seen, and it’s true.   There’s no need to elaborate any further.

I have no idea who wrote this, so I can’t give credit.

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Tardigrades.

These little creatures are fascinating and unlike anything else on earth.

Politicians Keep Blaming Mass Shootings on Mental Health Issues. Doctors Say They’re Wrong

It’s time to stop using mental illness as an excuse for gun violence.
It’s the guns that are the problem!

A Blog About Healing From PTSD

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“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing,” read a statement the APA issued on Aug. 4, after the Dayton tragedy. “The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”

To read the full article, click on this link:
https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/mentalhealth/politicians-keep-blaming-mass-shootings-on-mental-health-issues-doctors-say-theyre-wrong/ar-AAFnp8a?li=BBnb7Kz

I have had three terrifying, PTSD-inducing experiences with gun violence. In one of those incidents, I literally wrestled a gun out of the hands of a violent man. This happened just two weeks after I had given birth to my daughter. My “super human strength” was fueled by my maternal instinct. I did it to save the…

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Pool therapy.

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I really needed this today.  I’ve been soooo stressed lately due to family and financial issues, and haven’t had much opportunity to get to the pool or do much of anything recreational this summer.

I arrived at the local public pool early, while it was still almost empty, and just floated on my back in the deep end for a long time (just like an otter!)

The feeling of weightlessness combined with the hot sun beating down on my body seemed to take all my built up stress away.  I could have stayed like that all day, even maybe falling asleep, but soon the pool was crowded with kids and rain clouds began to roll in, so I spend the remainder of my time taking these pictures, which are intended to be artistic but probably aren’t really.

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The above photo:  looking down into 12 feet of water. The dark part on the right is the shadow cast by the side of the pool.  This is my favorite picture because of its slight creepiness.

The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians

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I love John Pavlovitz’ blog.   He’s a Christian pastor, but the kind that’s tragically rare in America: a pastor who actually believes in the compassionate, loving Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, a Jesus whose table included all types of people and always had room for one more.   This Jesus isn’t the Jesus of the prosperity gospel, dominionist, and right wing evangelical churches,  whose preachers seem to completely ignore the inclusive, loving Jesus in favor of their abusive and constantly angry God who gaslights his flock, holds them to endless harsh rules, constantly threatens Hell and punishment, shames and silences women and tells them they must tolerate abuse from their husbands and pastors (because as women, they must be doing something wrong to deserve the abuse of their “betters”), makes excuses as to why keeping children in cages and separating families is “godly,”  and tells poor people their poverty is due to their own moral failings and that if they were pleasing to God, they’d be rich.

Their God is forever changing the goalposts and is impossible to please.   Moreover, their God has “anointed” certain chosen people as “prophets” or “apostles,” people we are to obey without question and never criticize just because their God has elevated them above the rest of us (that’s where the “Trump is anointed by God” rhetoric comes from).    Their religion, so unlike the real Christ, is merely a cover for greed, hatred, exclusion, and fascism, and is used by sociopaths and narcissists as a means to control people.

They have created a God in their own image: their God is a sociopath or least a pathological narcissist, and good, decent people with a conscience and empathy want nothing to do with him.    But in America, unfortunately he is the loudest and most visible God.   The term Christianity itself is acquiring a bad name lately (this trend has increased since Trump was elected) because good people are associating it with authoritarianism, hatred, condemnation, elitism, American exceptionalism, misogyny, white male privilege, and harsh punishment.  No wonder so many good people are turning to atheism or non-Christian religions instead.

I too am finding the term Christianity offputting lately.  When someone tells me they’re a Christian, I automatically become wary and distance myself, assuming they follow the authoritarian, far right God that’s so prevalent in America today.    Theirs is a predatory, heartless religion that behaves more like a cult than a proper religion, and hurts millions more than it helps (mainly enriching its wealthy pastors and billionaire donors).

John Pavlovitz speaks for the rest of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, who reject the authoritarian American God, but who wish to emulate the Jesus of the Gospels.  Such Christians, to circumvent the recent negative connotations associated with “Christian,” have been calling themselves Christ Followers.   I kind of like that!

Here is another insightful and important article from John Pavlovitz’ “Stuff That Needs to Be Said” blog.

The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians 

Virtual drive: backroads of Croatia (eerily like home)!

One thing I like to do to pass the time and relax is take “virtual” roadtrips.   Virtual roadtrips are all over Youtube and are created by people who attach a dashcam to their dashboard while driving.  I’ve posted some impressive drives before.  It’s a great way to see the world without having to actually travel or spend any money at all, and I find it to be a lot of fun and educational too.

I was amazed by this drive through the mountain roads of rural Croatia because the scenery and terrain so closely resembles the southern Appalachians which run through several states in the southeast US, with the highest peaks in North Carolina, where I live.

The scenery is so similar that if you showed me this video and didn’t tell me where it was, I would swear I was back home.

Use the full screen feature in the lower right hand corner to experience the full effect.