About luckyotter

Recovering from C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. I was married to a sociopathic narcissist for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Christian, mom to 2 Millennials, mental illness stigma activist, passionate anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE

The Narcissism of Capital

I don’t agree with everything in this article (I don’t think capitalism is a bad thing if it’s kept under control with regulations and checks and balances), but I still really like the author’s comparison of capitalism with narcissism. He’s not wrong, especially in his observation that people with high levels of narcissism, even fullblown NPD, tend to be attracted to careers that reward with power and wealth.  This is why CEOs and top executives of multinational corporations, and politicians are so much more likely to have psychopathic or narcissistic traits than the “proles” (the rest of us).

Comments are disabled.  Please leave comments under the original post.

O Society

by Mawr Gorshin Infinite Ocean edited by O Society Mar 13, 2019

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime
Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

Analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, leads to a recognition of ‘political gaslighting.’

In abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim. The super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public as a whole.

We all know how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online: psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels are seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as he is a…

View original post 2,803 more words

Advertisements

Banana palms growing in western North Carolina?

bananatree

I definitely believe climate change is real.

Here where I live, in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina, each summer seems to grow progressively hotter and longer, and each winter has been milder and shorter than the last (not that I mind this personally, since I really can’t stand cold weather).   This fall has felt more like a continuation of summer than fall, and even at night the temperatures are still pretty warm.    It’s also been extremely dry, and the trees, rather than turning colors, are going straight from green to brown to bare (not that the fall colors here, outside of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the trees are chosen for their fall color, are that impressive anyway).   Sometimes I feel like I live in Florida, not the mountains of North Carolina, where the climate should be temperate, not tropical.

I’ve noticed something very strange this year too, something that I’ve never seen before.  Banana palms growing in people’s yards.  Maybe it’s just a new fad, and people are planting them here, but I don’t think it’s just that.   I think the climate has actually changed in the past few years, to a more subtropical (and less temperate) one, making it possible for banana palms to grow here.

I decided to look this up on Google, and found out that there is a such thing as cold hardy banana palms, that can withstand mild winters, even if the temperatures sometimes dip below freezing, as long as the trees are protected.  So although they couldn’t grow in the wild (yet), they could grow and thrive in someone’s yard.

climatezones

I looked up the climate type for western North Carolina and found out we are a Koppen Cfa climate (humid subtropical!) climate.  Even more shocking was to find out that central to southern New Jersey is also a Cfa climate, making it possible to grow certain types of subtropical plants, including cold hardy banana palms, there too!   I do know that many beaches at the Jersey Shore now have palm trees gracing them, but these trees are removed and taken somewhere else to spend the winters (I have no idea how that would be done) and then returned to New Jersey in late spring.

In general, North Carolina does not have palm trees, although there are many flowering evergreen species (these usually have dark, waxy leaves) here in the mountains, and palmetto trees (not a real palm tree but they are related to palms) growing in the coastal areas (the palmetto is also the state tree of South Carolina).

palmetto

Palmetto tree.

 

But this might be changing.   I live 37 miles north of the South Carolina border, and almost as soon as you cross the line into that state, palmettos can be found everywhere.  Banana palms are also common there.  So we’re not far from the cutoff for tropical (or subtropical) types of plants.  But I think the cutoff has moved farther north now, even into the lower mountains.   That would make sense, with climate change being a factor.  I haven’t seen any palmettos here yet, but I wonder if that’s just a matter of time.

If food shortages due to climate change ever become a problem, maybe I’ll plant some banana palms.  Bananas are a fantastic source of nutrients and quick energy.

Why I Left the GOP (by Nyssa McCanmore)

escape-from-darkness

Running From the Darkness/ DeantheBard, 2018

 

My friend Nyssa has a fantastic blog (Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole) that covers everything from narcissistic abuse (including her own fight against church “friends” who turned her into their scapegoat), to religion (Nyssa is an Orthodox Christian) to politics.  Her posts tend to be on the long side, but they are always intelligent and insightful, never boring, and usually written like first person stories and memoirs.

Here, Nyssa describes a childhood raised by staunch Republican parents, and part of her young adulthood spent in the clutches of highly controlling and greedy evangelical megachurches headed by filthy rich “prosperity gospel” pastors, many of them shady grifters and narcissists.  These churches seemed more concerned with bilking financially strapped believers out of their income “to glorify God” if they wanted to avoid Hell, than with saving souls by teaching the Good News of the New Testament.  These churches’  pastors became ever more wealthy, purchasing opulent homes and yachts for themselves, while many of their gullible flock still lived in near poverty.

Over time, these churches became increasingly aligned with Republicanism (and the GOP increasingly aligned with prosperity gospel and right wing evangelical churches).

 The cultlike devotion to Trump, who embodied the actual opposite of Christ’s teachings, was the last straw for her and for many like her.  They were fed up with the hypocrisy, lies, and oppression of authoritarian Christianity.

People were taught that salvation was dependent on how much they donated to the church, and how much they parroted right wing political talking points, instead of just being decent, kind human beings who tried to emulate the life of the Jesus of the Bible.

For Nyssa, the final straw was when her church began to mix far right politics into its sermons, telling parishioners who they must vote for lest they burn in hell.   The cultlike devotion to Trump, who embodied the actual opposite of Christ’s teachings, was the last straw for her and for many like her.  Thinking people became fed up with the hypocrisy, lies, and oppression of authoritarian Christianity and an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party, which seemed to be in bed with these churches (Defectors call themselves Exvangelicals).

Since leaving evangelical Christianity (her conversion story from evangelicalism to Orthodox Christianity can be found here), Nyssa has continued to pursue her spiritual development in a less toxic and oppressive environment.  She began to see how far the GOP had strayed from the Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, a party that respected the rule of law, freedom for all and democracy, to a near fascist party that was becoming increasingly cruel, nationalistic, intolerant of “the other,” and even unAmerican. Nyssa’s politics became more liberal as she realized how much the GOP had changed from the party she remembered from her childhood.    

She has found that liberalism is actually much closer to Christ’s teachings in most ways than Tea Party/Trump style conservatism is.

Here is another post I wrote about a young man, David Weissman, who voted for and supported Trump, and finally saw the light.  In my post I linked to his original post that appeared in the online magazine for the Jewish community, Forward.  Today David is a proud liberal and Elizabeth Warren supporter, and has a large Twitter following.

The Deconversion of a Trump Troll

In both Nyssa and David’s journeys, education about the facts was the key to a change of heart.

 

 

*****

Why I Left the GOP

By Nyssa McCanmore

As a kid, I was raised Republican–but not for religious reasons.  The Democrats were stupid donkeys; the Republicans were smart elephants.  Abortion and gay rights were barely a blip on the fundie screen in those days.  Adding religion to it didn’t happen until I started watching The 700 Club around 1987 or 1988.

I watched it on and off starting around age 12, but it wasn’t until around 14 or 15 that I started watching it every day, seeing it as important as my new determination to read the Bible daily.  Pat Robertson indoctrinated me into the idea that Democrats were evil atheist liberals out to destroy all we hold dear, while the Republicans were righteous warriors saving our country from baby-killers and homosexuals and big government.  I believed everything he said because he was a Christian preacher.

And yet, even though my dad was very conservative, he still told me that voting by party when the other guy is a better candidate, is stupid.  He still said not to listen to Pat Robertson or the people who say we need to put prayer back in schools.  He said that presidents could not do anything they wanted, that the courts told Nixon he had to turn over the tapes.

In college, chinks in the wall started coming as I took classes on Persuasion and Mass Media.  I learned about logical fallacies and how words can be manipulated to bring emotional responses.  I learned that The 700 Club hadn’t always told the truth about stories in the news.  I learned that Rush Limbaugh was highly manipulative, how he cut people off when he didn’t like their comments and formed the reactions of listeners.  Pat Robertson kept saying over and over that God told him over and over that Bush would win in 1992; when Clinton won, Pat’s only explanation was, “I guess I missed it.”

You can read the rest of this article on Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole.

Social taboo and free speech.

xkcd-free_speech_2x-735x750

Credit:  xkcd

The overall attitude toward dissent in a democracy is summed up in this quote by Evelyn Beatrice Hall:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Are you a victim of gaslighting?

gaslight

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person is made to doubt their own reality or judgment.  It’s a very common way that narcissists, psychopaths, and other abusers manipulate their victims.

The term comes from the 1942 movie of the same name, in which the heroine is victimized by her abusive husband into believing she is going insane, when she notices the gaslights in their home going on and off seemingly by themselves, when it is actually he who is doing it to torment her.

Here are a few examples of gaslighting:

Your partner calls you hurtful names, and when you object, tells you you are being “too sensitive,” “acting crazy,” “playing the victim,” etc.  (blaming the victim is very common in abusive personalities).

Your parent, who was physically abusive to you as a child, says it never happened and you are just imagining things.

Your partner steals money from you while you’re asleep, and then when you bring it up the next day, says you must have misplaced it or didn’t count it right.

Gaslighting occurs on the societal level too and is a favorite tactic of sociopathic leaders to maintain control of their narrative and keep their opponents off balance and fearful, but that is beyond the scope of this short post.  I have covered that topic elsewhere in this blog.

Gaslighting is death by a thousand cuts.   While an individual incident of gaslighting might seem minor and nothing to get that upset about (and all of us, at one time or another, have probably gaslighted someone else),  these incidents tend to add up over time and cause a person to doubt their own reality to the point of developing symptoms of trauma or even PTSD.

A person who is the victim of gaslighting becomes fearful, unsure of themselves, feels as if they’re “walking on eggshells” all the time, afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.   If you feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, or fearful around a particular person, or clam up when you are usually more outgoing, chances are you are being gaslighted.

Here’s a handy table that will help you know when to tell.

gaslightingfacts

A peaceful, soul healing day at Lake Jocassee.

jocassee5best

Lake Jocassee, Devils Fork State Park, Salem, SC

Nature is the best therapist, and is so much cheaper.

First, the backstory (and why I needed this day and others like it).

ithinkimcrazy

I haven’t really discussed it much on this blog, but since her marriage in January, my daughter and her husband have been struggling with opioid/opiate addiction (at the moment, they are both in recovery),  but for my daughter, her addiction is complicated by out of control mood swings.  She has no official diagnosis, but her rapid and intense mood swings that range from deep and debilitating depressions that make her sleep for days, to manic episodes where she can’t sleep at all and flies into rages easily seems to indicate bipolar disorder (which does run in my family, and my son has it too, but his is more under control because of coping skills he’s learned, and his may be less severe than hers).

She lost her Medicaid when she turned twenty six in April, and now has no insurance until she can get on her husband’s insurance through his job.  As a result, the only mental “help” she has been able to receive is awful, really almost worse than getting no help at all.  Her current doctor is impatient with her, charges her way more than she can afford (forcing her to ration her psychiatric medications) and makes her come in every week for her scripts, even though that costs her more than if she came every two weeks, which would make so much more sense.  It’s also hard for her to get to the doctor because she has no car.    She hasn’t seen a talk therapist yet because of the money/car issue, and also because she has an aversion to talk therapy for some reason.  Even the prospect of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) puts her off.   Her husband is trying to get her to give it a chance, since it has helped him.

She was attending a 12 step meeting, but the man who was driving her to the meeting (also a member) started to take advantage of her sexually, so she stopped going.   I don’t blame her.  I would have too.

As for me, this year has been extremely stressful, and my daughter’s mental illness and addiction is breaking my heart.    I love my daughter dearly but since she started taking opioids, it’s as if something in her brain broke, and even though she is clean now, she seems to have lost any ability she once had had to regulate her emotions, and has become paranoid about her environment and the people around her.  Her episodes of rage seem always directed at me, although I know it’s not really about me at all.  Still, it’s hard not to take the attacks personally.

I know with the opioids, the recovery process takes a long time, but patience isn’t my strong point, and I’ve realized I have no choice but to distance myself from her.  I need to take care of myself.    There’s really nothing I can do for her except pray for her healing and I can’t be of any help to her at all if I’m crazy myself — and between her issues and the awful political situation (which hopefully may be nearing its end but I’m not holding my breath), I am almost there.

I’ve gone on longer about that than I intended about my daughter, but that’s the main reason I haven’t been blogging very much this year, in case any of you wondered.    I’m just preoccupied and worried to the point where it’s not healthy.   I’ve been attending Al Anon meetings when I can, although I haven’t found a group I really feel at home in yet.  I’ve been spending less time at home, because frankly, I never know what I’m coming home to (my daughter and hubby currently live with me).   I’m looking into downsizing and moving to a smaller apartment or even a room in someone else’s home.  I need to escape.  They are adults and can take care of themselves here.   I’m not going to kick them out.  I prefer to move out myself, but the prospect of a move is causing me a lot of stress too.  It all just seems overwhelming.

Get to the point already!  You said this was about your day trip to the Lake!  

jocassee1

Oh, yes.  Of course.  Sorry I took so long to get to the point!

No matter what’s going on at home or in my personal life, I can always escape, and natural places always have a healing effect on me.   Bodies of water, in particular, soothe my soul and put me at peace, making it easier to cope with life for a while.

Back in June, I became interested in Scuba diving and had been researching places where I might go to get certification, and that’s how I found out about Lake Jocassee, which is located in Salem, South Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It’s the main attraction of Devils Fork State Park.  Jocassee is formed by the confluence of four rivers that flow into it from the Appalachians.   The lake actually has a fascinating history, which you can read about here. 

jocasseevalley

Jocassee Valley in the early 1970s, before it was flooded by the State of South Carolina and Duke Energy to create Lake Jocassee

The reason Lake Jocassee is so popular with Scuba divers is because of its clarity and depth.  It’s a large lake, which goes as deep as 300 feet and is not dark and murky like most lakes.  It also lacks that funky, swampy “lake” smell.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect.  It may be early fall, but the day felt like the middle of July: hot, sunny, and perfect for swimming.   The lake water was every bit as clear as I’d been told and had seen in pictures.   I was definitely not disappointed!

jocassee3.jpg

You can get a good idea of the water’s clarity here.

The drive was very pleasant, only a little over one hour from my home, and it was just a short walk down to the small sandy beach.  When I waded out into the water, I was delighted that the bottom remained sandy, and wasn’t at all gunky with mud and the usual slimy stuff that’s usually found at the bottom of lakes. There were a few twigs, small rocks, and a little plant matter here and there, but it was definitely mostly sand, which I could dig my toes into and almost feel like I was at the ocean.   I could also still see the bottom even when I waded out so far the water was above my head!

jocassee4

…and here.

There were also small waves!  The lake is pretty large (not so large you can’t see across it though), but I don’t think it’s large enough to have any real wave or tidal action like the Great Lakes do; the waves might have been caused by the breeze or the boats in the distance.  In any case, it was relaxing listening to them lap rhythmically onto the sand.

jocasseedog

Dog and kids having a romp in the lake.

For me, Lake Jocassee is a perfect merging of what I love about the Blue Ridge Mountains and love about the beach.   While the mountains in upstate South Carolina are not as high or impressive as the ones in North Carolina, they are less intimidating and still make for lovely views and are a perfect frame for this crystal clear lake.   But at the same time, I also got a real “beach” feel here, unlike any other lake I’ve ever been to.

jocassee6

When I wasn’t in the water, I watched the view from my beach chair and just soaked in the sun, watched kids and dogs play in the water, and read.   I think I stayed about three hours, until late afternoon, when it began to cloud up a bit.  I decided then was a good time to head home.   I left feeling refreshed, relaxed, and better able to handle the challenges I’ve been dealing with.

On the way home, I passed by Table Rock, also in the upstate of South Carolina, and pulled over on the side of the road to take a few quick pictures.

tablerock2

Table Rock, Table Rock State Park, Pickens, SC

 

I also got a little color.

I’ll definitely be going back to Lake Jocassee.   It’s on my growing list of “happy places.”

Enjoy the photos!

 

Happy first day of Fall!

Well, well. When I looked at my stats today, I saw that this post from last year had the most views.
So, hey, I’m reblogging it, since it’s the first day of Fall again! Now you won’t have to go searching for it, since it’s right here on the first page!

Lucky Otters Haven

Not exactly my favorite season, but not dead last either (that would be winter!)

Can’t argue with Snoopy.  Enjoy!

Happy-Autumn-First-Day-of-Fall-Snoopy-Dog-Picture

View original post

Climate change and religious objection to climate activism.

Greta-climate-kid

…And a little child shall lead them.  (Isaiah 11:6)

Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg is a hero and an inspiration for the whole world.  That became obvious yesterday as hundreds of cities all over the world gathered in huge numbers for the worldwide Climate Strike that Thunberg started a couple of years ago, when she decided to skip classes to stand by herself on a street corner with a homemade protest sign.

The sign did not go unnoticed.  Who would have thought that a painfully shy, introverted, autistic sixteen year old with few friends could be the catalyst for a worldwide movement to fight the Climate Crisis caused by our continued use of fossil fuels and unsustainable, wasteful, earth destroying practices that the likes of Trump and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro have further encouraged, almost as if to mock the scientific data that shows we are in grave peril unless we reverse these practices.

Greta Thunberg now travels all over the world (she chooses ships when crossing the ocean, so she leaves less of a carbon “footprint”) to give speeches to leaders of countries and the heads of ethical corporations who believe in sustainable technology and know it’s the wave of the future.   Powerful but ethical adults are listening, and she has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Thunberg also has many critics, who smear her by saying she is a mentally ill (because of her autism), spoiled, Godless, fame hungry child who knows nothing about the planet and uses fearmongering to get famous.   Blaming a vulnerable child who has the courage to speak the truth is one thing you can always count on the regressive fascists of the world to do.

Climate-March-NL-750x483

Thousands of Dutch students skipped classes to march for action on climate change.  Photo credit: Remko de Waal, AFP

The pigtailed Swedish teen’s peers are our planet’s future.  It has been said by some that her generation (Generation Z) will be the last one on earth (that may be a bit dramatic, unless Trump starts World War III, which is certainly possible).

More realistically, any offspring Thunberg’s generation has will likely have the misfortune of living in a dystopian world without breathable free air and drinkable free water, massive flooding changing the contours of the continents themselves, devastating droughts, terrible storms, and food shortages everywhere, even in places that never experienced food shortages before.   These children will grow up on a blighted planet choked with pollution, eye burning and organ destroying soot and toxic fumes, trying to farm infertile, blackened soil that yields few or no crops, a planet with its natural beauty destroyed by powerful men consumed with never having enough and always wanting more, even when that means stealing from the rest of us and taking away our national parks and public lands so they can drill for more oil and garner more riches for themselves and their cronies.   Greed does kill.

And their terrible sociopathic God tells them this is all okay.   That these conscienceless individuals who have twisted God into a being so much like themselves, after all, have dominion over the rest of us, and we, as their hapless subjects who are not “chosen” by God or “anointed,” have no rights at all and will burn in hell for even objecting to our rights being taken away.   Their terrible fake God feeds their narcissism by giving them permission to do whatever they want, rewarding them with ever more power and riches, no matter how wrong or immoral the things they do, or how much it hurts life on this planet.

greta-climate-march-new-york

Greta Thunberg leads climate change march in New York City yesterday. Photo credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, AP

They excuse their destructiveness by insisting they are the “chosen ones,” and patting themselves on the back for pretending to be “pro-life.”  But these are people without a conscience or empathy, so it makes no sense that they would have selective empathy for a tiny embryo who isn’t a sentient being yet, but never for the woman who carries it, for her other children who may be orphaned if the pregnancy will kill her, and never for children once they are born (especially if they are not white).   The explanation for their hypocrisy is simple.  Their real motive isn’t about saving unborn babies; it’s about having complete control over women.  That’s why they are fine with rape culture and are passing legislation that removes or diminishes laws that protect women from violence.  All fascist governments attempt to control and demean women in the same manner.   They do the same thing in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia under the Taliban and ISIS.  But I digress.  This is a post about climate change and environmental activism.

I had a few random thoughts about the hypocrisy of right wing fundamentalists and evangelicals’ objections to climate change activism, and I’d like to share them with you.

Right wing Trump supporting evangelicals think it’s okay for big oil companies and other powerful corporations to exploit and pollute the earth, and they also think it’s wrong for the people affected by these destructive practices to demand accountability and laws that regulate what these companies can do to the environment, because they believe it shows a lack of faith that God can replenish the earth.   How is that view any different from kids trashing the house and then saying they don’t have to clean their mess because it shows a lack of faith that their parents can do it?

Even if God is perfectly capable of restoring the earth to its pristine natural state without our help, isn’t the way we’re treating it pretty disrespectful of his property?   Frankly, we don’t even deserve to have a liveable earth should we destroy this one.    We seem so unappreciative of the one we already have.

As for the ridiculous claim by some evangelicals that environmental activism is “earth worship”:  Here’s a news flash.  Maintaining your house isn’t “worshipping” it. Expecting others not to trash your brick and mortar house and punch holes in its walls isn’t ungodly. Making necessary repairs to your house doesn’t offend God. So why do evangelicals think caring for our earthly home is offensive to God?

God never said it’s okay to exploit the planet for personal gain and riches.  That’s part of dominion theology, which is heresy.   The Bible is clear about how God feels about humanity trashing the Earth.    You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that true morality means caring for our earthly home and not exploiting it for wealth and power.  Greta Thunberg knows this.    I hope God blesses her richly.

The Top 7 Bible Verses About Taking Care of the Earth

 

An open letter to the free World…

SOSbottle

Dear (free) World,

Trump and his immoral, corrupt regime do not speak for the vast majority of us here in America.  They have subverted democracy and made it difficult or impossible for us to have a voice, especially in the voting booths, since they have rigged the system so it seems only they can win.  Using machiavellian, underhanded tricks and machinations, with little to no transparency, they have succeeded in taking the reigns of power and now they have a huge advantage over the People.

I am so ashamed of our nation right now.  I am so sorry that our heartless and amoral leader has chosen the suffering and torture of innocents, the wanton destruction of the earth for personal and financial gain, and the constant lies he tells to paint over the truth.  I am sorry he does not value empathy, kindness, being a good neighbor to our allies, and being a good steward of the earth.  I am sorry he has aligned us with the cruelest and most inhumane dictatorships in the world, as he continues to cut off former ties with our true allies: other western democracies.  I am sorry he targets our most vulnerable citizens for abuse (the sick, poor, young people, People of Color, the disabled, LGBTQ, Muslims, Latin Americans, migrants who just want a chance at a good life, etc.) and hardworking Latin American citizens who are already here, who work hard and help our economy, while he continues to reward parasitic greedy billionaires and environment destroying corporations that do nothing but take, and take, and take from We the People.  We’re being extracted by these predators, and yet we are the ones who are gaslighted and blamed for being the takers, even when we’re working three jobs to survive.

We are sorry he has empowered the worst among us, people who are blinded by their hatred of others who don’t look or pray or act just like them, and others of very low character.  Please know most of us see what he is doing,  and we hate it as much as you do.   Our hearts are breaking that we can do so little, but we are still trying everything we can to fight back against the forces of evil.  It’s so hard and exhausting though, and we seem to have so few tools at our disposal.

To the rest of the free world, we are so very sorry.  This isn’t what America is really about.  We have been hijacked.

Please don’t give up on us.  We may need your help. Most of us are good people who wish this wasn’t happening.

Regards,

A Concerned Citizen

 

The weather lately and climate change.

Bacterial_Leaf_Scorch2018

A tree in Missouri suffering from bacterial leaf scorch

Scientists said this past July was the hottest one on record.   Each summer has been, on average, hotter than the one before it, and the hottest summers have nearly all been since 2000.  I bet this past August will be the hottest on record too.

I don’t know about you, but I believe the scientists about this, not the orange narcissist sitting in the Oval Office, a man who actually ordered scientists at NOAA to lie about where Hurricane Dorian made landfall, in order to save his fragile ego from having to face the consequences of being wrong.

But I promise I’m not getting on my political soapbox today.   I just wanted to talk about the weather — and the strange things I’ve been observing that may be due to climate change.

temperature-figure1-2016

It’s the middle of September, and normally by now, even in a mid-South state like North Carolina, the weather is starting to cool down into pleasant, warm sunny dry days and cooler nights.  A few of the trees begin to show fall colors (even though “fall colors” around here often means some shade of brown, maroon, or sickly yellow).  September in this part of the country looks like summer past its expiration date:  still summer, but the trees and plants all have a tired, overgrown, overripe look about them, like fruit that’s still edible but on the verge of going bad.

But this September has been the hottest I can remember.  In fact, it’s hotter than it was in August, and August heat here is almost unbearable every year.    The temperature has been soaring up into the high 80s and 90s nearly every day this month so far, with a heat index that’s about the same or even higher, and the nights are muggy and bring little relief.

It’s a humid, oppressive heat, the kind that makes a person literally drip and plasters my hair down to my head like a helmet and makes my hair straightener almost useless.   It’s the type of heat that makes you not want to do anything, but at the same time you can’t really get any rest either.   At night in bed, without the air conditioning going at full blast, I toss and turn as if in a fever dream, and in the morning my bed is soaked with sweat.  It’s as if Florida followed me back here in August.

And the bugs.  Holy shit, the bugs.   Not bees and butterflies and other “nice” insects that do useful things for us, and don’t bother you and invade your personal space, but nasty, hateful, biting bugs that have no respect for personal boundaries.   So, the problem’s not an excess of bugs, it’s the kind of bugs.  Scientists have discovered there is a shortage of bees and other pollinating insects due to climate change, exacerbated by harmful policies that further destroy them.    I’ve seen the decline for myself.   Usually there’s a plethora of bees among the many flowering plants here, but this year there did seem to be a dearth of them.   I also noticed fewer butterflies.   But there’ve been mosquitoes in great swarms this year (probably due to the surplus of rain we had in July and August), and right now I’m covered in their nasty, itchy weals.  Blood loving insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas, seem unaffected by the hot weather, and in fact they seem to thrive in it.  There seems to be an uptick in other unpleasant, seemingly useless insects such as crane flies, fleas, and cockroaches.

Finally, there’s something wrong with the way the natural world looks.   As I mentioned earlier,  southern states don’t get the stunning array of bright Fall colors that states like Vermont or Colorado enjoy (unless you drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the trees have been deliberately chosen for their autumn color), and most of the trees and other plants should still be mostly deep green anyway.

But the trees don’t just look past their prime.  They look downright unhealthy.   The other day I was driving down a pretty older suburban neighborhood whose streets are lined with huge, fat old oak trees.  These trees are probably well over one hundred years old, but I’ve never seen them look the way they do.  They looked like they were dead or dying.  All the leaves were still there, but they were a dried up, pale greenish brown, as if they were in a faded discolored old photograph. That’s not normal.   I don’t know what was wrong with those trees, but those weren’t fall colors.   They looked…dessicated or even burnt.  Perhaps the intense heat had done that to them.   There’s a fatal condition (shown at the top) that affects oaks and other types of trees called bacterial leaf scorch. Maybe that’s what it is, or maybe it’s some kind of blight.  Other trees and plants have that scorched, blighted look too.    I’ve also noticed a lot more dead trees.

One of my neighbors is growing a palm tree.  Palm trees don’t grow in western North Carolina naturally, but I have to wonder if, with the warm winters we’ve enjoyed the past few years (save a few days with temps in the single digits or teens), it just might survive if this winter proves to be even warmer.

For the past few years, I’ve also noticed the vegetation along the sides of the roads is dead.  Maybe it’s being sprayed with pesticides near the road, or maybe it’s the exhaust from the cars, but this seems like something new.  I don’t think I ever noticed it until a few years ago.

The sky has a strange look to it, a smogginess I don’t remember ever seeing in this part of the country before.   Sometimes near the horizon, it’s so heavy it obscures the view of distant objects, and it has an unpleasant yellowish gray tint to it, a color similar to a bruise, or an approaching thunderstorm even though there’s no storm coming.  In fact, it reminds me of the way the air looked on summer days in New York and New Jersey back in the pre-EPA 1970s. Could Trump’s relaxation of environmental regulations already be having visible effects?

Have you noticed similar changes too?  Let me know in the comments.