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

 

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The weather lately and climate change.

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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.

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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.

Taking nature pictures soothes me.

The world, in spite of climate change, burning rainforests, and widespread hatred and violence, is still a beautiful place, with so many beautiful and fascinating things in it.

I find taking pictures like these soothing to my soul.

The first photo is of an enormous praying mantis on the screen of my front porch (I believe this guy was close to four inches long!).  The second is of an oak tree in my neighborhood, that by the size of its massive trunk looks to be even older than I am, and perhaps even a hundred or more years old.   It sure looks healthy though, like it could live for another hundred, and it just might!

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tree

 

 

He was “just joking.”

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Some of Trump’s aides and enablers have been excusing Trump’s threats by insisting he was only joking.

Here’s a tweet I saw from an anonymous source:

He’s “just joking” when he says he’ll pardon aides for illegal acts, just like he kids about staying past his term

Trump himself regularly insists he was only joking when he’s called out about some of his threats to do things that are illegal, immoral, or cruel.   His flying monkeys back him up on this and then blame our side of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” when we don’t fall for these lies.   This is gaslighting.

But Trump is a malignant narcissist, and malignant narcissists have no sense of humor.  They do not joke, and therefore Trump does not joke.   The only kind of “jokes” sociopaths and malignant narcissists understand are mocking or making fun of the  weaker and more vulnerable.   Unless you’re a fellow narcissist or sociopath, you will not find these kinds of “jokes” funny, because punching down to hurt the weak and vulnerable is never funny.   That’s why people with a conscience were horrified when Trump openly mocked a disabled reporter during his presidential campaign.   That one action should have ended his campaign on the spot, but that did not happen.

Going back to the “I was only joking” excuse malignant narcissists use to gaslight and mislead their marks (and make no mistake, we are all marks to this president), this is a very common strategy abusers use to control you and get away with their abuse, because it works.   I can’t tell you how many times my own abusers used this on me, and how many times I have heard other victims of narcissistic abuse relate they have heard “I was only joking” from their abusers too.

Another thing abusers do, besides gaslight you by insisting they were joking when they really weren’t, is they turn the blame back on you (blameshifting).  In other words, after telling you they were only joking, they will accuse YOU of having no sense of humor, being too sensitive, or too stupid to get their jokes, accusing you of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the like.    This is gaslighting because it makes you begin to doubt your own reality and your own experience of what really happened.  You begin to wonder if in fact, you are too sensitive, or too stupid to get a joke, or whatever character flaw the narcissist has accused you of.

The fact we have a president who gaslights us daily and throws out threatening trial balloons that basically announce what his future plans are, and then covers up his cruelty by saying (or having his flying monkeys say) he was “only joking” should concern all of us.  We are all victims of this abuser.

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.

 

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.