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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thinking outside the Outhouse

     The bleepstorm over what Donald Trump may or may not have said in a meeting about some of the less pleasant countries in the world and whether we want immigrants to come to the US from them leaves me thinking that most people don't. Think, that is. Can we sort out a thing or two? First, some countries are pretty nasty to live in: poor, hungry, violent, culturally abhorrent. (Yes, Virginia, some cultures are better than others.) I'll happily endure country music and pompous actors and Kardashians as long as I can avoid female genital mutilation, voodoo, witch-killing, purdah and pogroms. 
     It isn't that the people at large in those benighted lands are any worse than others. The sinful heart is ubiquitous. Mostly, the horrors are due to corrupt government by those who care for their own power and enrichment and not for the people. Throw in false religions that terrorize ordinary people and incite some to torture and murder, and you've got a country that's good for leaving. (Yes, Virginia, some religions are false and destructive to human beings.)
     Who leaves? Desperate people. Fed-up people. People who hope for freedom and a better life for themselves and their children. Surely those are people we want. Now, I've seen many postings of how many Nigerians have bachelor's degrees, and how many immigrants have above-average incomes and whatnot. I submit that these however-uplifting facts are beside the point. Whether a person is likely to become a gardener or a professor doesn't matter. What does matter is whether this person is able to support himself, whether he respects the law, whether he has some understanding of American Constitutional principles. Communicable diseases may also rate a "no." But if that healthy Norwegian has a white power blog and has done time for abusing small animals, we probably don't want him. Nor the guy from the other hemisphere who has whiskers, a deep voice and a gang tattoo and claims he's 14. 
     Here we have a right to discriminate (gasp!). All that means is to choose who is likely to benefit the country, and benefit from the country, and who isn't. It's almost impossible to convict a nationality:   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831353/   and not too hard to find admirable individuals: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/sports/csu/football/2018/01/12/former-csu-player-steveo-michel-working-firefighter-his-old-troubled-neighborhood/1027416001/  The decision has to be individual, and it has to be systematic. It has to be legal. (Yes, Virginia, if you sneaked across the border or overstayed your visa, you are illegal.) No nation is obliged to allow unknown people to pour across its borders. 
    Decent people may leave crummy countries. We should not veto immigration from a particular country. We should, however, try to make sure the people we allow in are more likely to become good neighbors than, say, to plant a pressure cooker bomb in a crowd. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Long Live the Kings


     Little green anoles used to be all over our Florida yards. Young persons were known to catch them and persuade them to bite onto their earlobes, where they dangled like earrings. What can I say? We didn’t have cable. Anyway, they were cute. But lately, dirty Commie brown anoles from Cuba have crowded them out. Supposedly, the green ones can escape to a higher level of shrubbery, but the brown ones EAT BABY GREEN ONES, the dirty stinking cannibal Commies. But even worse, they eat monarch butterfly larvae.
    Really. While people all over North America are cultivating milkweed, because that’s the only thing monarch larvae will eat, and paying money to be certified as Official Monarch Inn and Spa Way-Stations, ugly anoles are scoping out the milkweed and puffing out their nasty orange double chins while they wait for the microscopically tiny monarch larvae to hatch from their pinhead-sized eggs, crunch down the egg shells and fatten themselves up on milkweed leaves just enough to be interesting to ugly brown Commie anoles.
     I fumed when I learned this. I had monitored the milkweed pods until they popped open and ran like a crazy person to stuff the seeds into my pocket before they floated away on the breeze. Have you ever tried to peel hundreds of seeds’ worth of that floaty stuff that sticks to fabric like its life depends on it out of a shirt pocket? Well, have you?
     I devoted a whole raised garden bed to milkweed, planted scads of seeds and sang to the sprouts and stroked their little leaves. OK, I didn’t do that, but I did get sweaty. Monarch butterflies fluttered over the house and plunged like dive-bombers into the milkweed patch. I found eggs. I rejoiced at the sight of teeny-tiny stripey caterpillars. And they disappeared. Dirty Commie anoles.
     Enter the single-wide camper’s box mosquito net. If little kids can hatch monarchs in one of those net cage thingies, then surely I could do it on a larger scale with this thing. I hung its metal corner rings over bamboo sticks cut from the corner of the yard where we can’t get rid of the stuff. Bamboo takes over the world, in case you didn’t know. Don’t plant bamboo. Clipping shoots is a pain, but sometimes the sticks are useful. Like for hanging a box mosquito net.
     I had to kill many milkweed bugs before I sealed the net around the bottom with bricks. They are orange and black, and they lay little yellow eggs by the squillions, and they gobble milkweed. Commies. But the bed has been covered for a week or so, and today I spotted five big fat monarch larvae on the milkweed leaves. Do the chrysalis thing, little guys. Give me that thrilling marvel of Creation—or next year you can plant your own darn milkweed.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Pleasure of Your Company: A Fable

If you think your sexuality is for nothing more than screwing, that you can and should make it with any guy who looks good in jeans, or buys you a drink, or several, or even if he says “Let’s move in together. Who needs a piece of paper?” and if a baby comes about, it’s nothing more than an inconvenience, something to flush, or to have pulled out and tossed into the medical waste bin, your heart gets colder and your soul emptier with every sex act and every abortion. Then, when someone dares to call it wrong and begs you to consider the life of the child, you shriek like a banshee. You’ve devoted yourself to a devilish lie, and you can’t bear to hear it contradicted.
When you refuse self-control, commitment, and the gift of new life, you are standing in the alley eating from the dumpster while someone stands on the doorstep and calls to you, “No, that’s just scraps, a poor imitation of a feast. It’s dangerous. Look how filthy it is. The real dinner is inside, at the table. Please, leave that and come in.”

“There’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing. It’s what I choose. You just want to control me. You want me to sit at a table and use a knife and fork? Stupid outdated rules,” you say.
“But there’s something so much better, the beautiful banquet with all the courses, so many flavors and colors, you can hardly imagine. There’s a seat for you,” says your tormenter.
“It’s MY F---ING DIGESTIVE SYSTEM,” you shout. “Not yours! Not the government’s! I control it. It’s my right. You can’t tell me what to do.”
Eventually, the person on the step gives up. She goes inside and closes the door behind her. But she doesn’t lock it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Tee Shirts for Life


          My seventh grandchild is in the works. Seeing as how darling daughter has slimmed down considerable since the last production, I get to seek out bargains in maternity clothes for her. Size zero. From my outpost in 12-14 land, that looks like no size at all. Hahahahahaha. Sorry. But it did mean some way-low clearance prices on classroom-acceptable duds from one major merchant when the teensy size was the only one left. I clicked in triumph.
          On a whim, I searched “maternity” on a discount website not especially known for clothes. Up --or out-- popped dozens of tee shirts with baby room and all sorts of designs. The cheesy: sprays of flowers and variations on the word blessed.  No. Lots of colors with “due in (month)” to answer the common first question, and plenty announcing boy or girl for the second question. Others I read over again, asking, “Did they put that on a shirt? They did put that on a shirt.” Among the milder texts, I did snort over “I just wanted a back rub” and “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets pregnant.” Didn’t buy them.
One that I did buy.
          Then came the peek-a-boos: image of a zipper with baby peeking out. Girl babies, boy babies, twin babies. White babies, black babies, Asian babies. Jedi baby. Army baby. Even a mooning baby. Cute. Funny. And in a natural, incidental, even accidental way, powerfully pro-life. Somehow, in a day of 4-D sonograms, surgery in utero and medical advances that save tinier premature babies than ever before, there’s a movement to insist that the little creature in there is not a baby. “Noooottt a baby,” as one tweeter contended to me. This cultic dogma calls itself “science” while it stubbornly ignores all logic and evidence of the senses. Evidence, schmevidence, you gotta believe.
          But, still. Ordinary people with brains unwarped by PC death-worship (I’ve been called a “fetus-worshipper.” So, nyah.) and its sacrament of abortion know perfectly well what’s growing in that pregnant woman. Moms and dads know it. Grandparents know it. Little kids know it. Designers of tee shirts know it. I think somewhere deep down in their twisted, dark little doctrinaire souls, defenders of abortion know it. They just don’t want to look.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Handling the Sword


The Bible calls God's word "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) Ephesians 6:17 mentions "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Given that, shouldn't we expect the pastor of a church to have a pretty good handle on the word of God? Or at least to know which end is which? If you grab a sword by the wrong end, you might get cut. Well, here is a Methodist minister in South Africa making a proclamation based on a Bible verse. It says "Jesus was the first to decriminalize sex work. John 8:7" The group that happily posted a video of the scene works to "decriminalize" prostitution. Not to rescue women from it or to discourage the practice, but to make it legal. And this pastor claims to have found that idea in the Bible. Here's the verse: "But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'” 
     Problem. This passage is about a woman caught in adultery, not prostitution. The mob wants to stone her to death on the spot, never mind a trial. They are operating outside the law. Jesus' beautiful solution is to ask the one who is without sin to throw first. They are not so far gone that they deny their own sinfulness. When they slink away, Jesus tells the woman He will not condemn her, but ends with "sin no more." Few seem to want to quote that bit. 
    Jesus forgives our sins. (Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.) He can do that while maintaining justice because He took the punishment for sin on the cross. He expects us to quit the sins, not to go our merry way, pounding in a few more nails. 
     "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1) And Matthew 18:6, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." 
     Whether you believe the Bible or not, you have to see that John 8 has nothing to do with the legality of prostitution. When a "pastor" uses it to promote a sinful practice, to tell women that there's no sin in selling their bodies for sex (and apparently no blame for the customers either), he is certainly causing them to stumble. He will face judgment one day. The one Who truly is without sin, the one Who is the living Word, will teach him just how sharp is the Word of God.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Latte Bowl

     I won the hideous holiday outfit contest at a
party, so I got to go first in the present exchange. The voters went for the burgundy and gold tulle ribbon bow in my hair, pink-circled cheeks, striped shirt of fuchsia and  pink, forest green sleeveless jerkin, red belt, red capri pants, brown Fair Isle patterned tights, red and teal striped socks and red sneakers with huge jingle bells tied to the laces. Hideous. But I got to go first in the present exchange. 
     It was one of those in which you may unwrap a package from the gift table or steal something that someone else has opened, thus allowing nice Christian people to indulge in coveting and theft. But if you go first, you also go last and can excise from the whole collection. First I snagged a pretty candy jar and a "latte bowl," both of the Pioneer Woman brand. "Anybody know what a latte bowl is?" Shrugs all around. But it was a handy size and had a microwave lid. I liked it.
     Somebody stole it. 
     I opened a set of TV speakers. What corner of the warehouse were they in that they met the $10 limit?
     Somebody stole them. 
     I got a bag harboring a chocolate coin, a little Tupperware bowl in a leopard print (say what?), a "lump of coal" candy wrapped in black, and a can of hair-remover. Nobody stole that. 
    Last turn was mine. I studied all the goodies, but none supplanted the first. There in the hands of a sweet young thing were the jar and latte bowl. I took them back and handed her the maligned bag. She said,"Ohhh, grrreat." 
     Only dimly aware that latte is a type of coffee, I Googled. A blogger related a visit to a coffee shop at which he was served a latte in a bowl. A latte bowl. You can find them all over second-hand shops, he said. I had a brand-new one. Ha! But what exactly is a latte? 
     Espresso-- pressurized coffee-- mixed with warmed milk and topped with foam. I happen to own a cute little Italian moka pot. I even had a package of espresso-ground coffee with instructions in Italian. Check. Now, the foamed milk bit. There are battery-operated milk frothers out there. They spin a little loopy coil to foam up the milk. To the hopelessly unhip, they look ridiculous. Figuring that clever people must have made lattes before that invention, I took stock. My eyes lit on a salad-dressing mixer-- a plastic jar with a blade thingy and screw-on lid. It would have to do. 
     I fired up the moka pot, poured half a cup of milk into the mixer jar and shook it madly. The volume doubled, so I supposed that was foam. The moka pot burbled its last drop, and I poured  the brew into... a different bowl. It had seemed like a good idea to microwave some steel-cut oatmeal in the high-sided, Ree Drummond-endorsed bowl, but when they say to use high power, well, they lie. The hard-won official latte bowl was still in the dishwasher. A rice bowl volunteered. In went the espresso, the warm milk, and, by golly, foam. Voila, a latte, made by me in my very own kitchen. Pretty darn good, too.
     
What does Starbucks charge for a latte? I figure this creation cost less than 50 cents. And, of course, my last shred of dignity, but that wasn't much anyway. Just listen to my sneakers jingle as I take another sip. Ahhh. Delicioso. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Best Part

    There's this thing called "referred pain," and it's not the best part of anything. Yeah, it's the kneecap that's broken and has the scary incision over it, but swelling and displacement and, I don't know, perturbation of the humors makes other bits hurt. I refer to my manifestation as the shin splint from hell. Moving the leg up and down can trigger it. Pulling the brace up when it slips down the leg can trigger it. A therapist bending the knee ferociously can trigger it. Even stretching in bed can trigger it. And if you have a dream in which you are sitting against a wall, and someone tries to steal a valuable knife that's down by your side, and you kick him with the left leg, which in the dream is fine, does that ever trigger it. Boy howdy. First you wake up and think, "Ow. Bad idea." And then you think, "THE FRONT OF MY SHIN HAS SPLIT WIDE OPEN AND WHEN I TOUCH IT I'M GOING TO FEEL A BLOODY MESS." Only the leg feels perfectly solid and dry. It just hurts. Like the shin splint from hell. I mean, the incision was pretty bad the first couple of days, as though periodically filled with lighter fluid and set aflame, but that wore off. A mere bit of prickliness remains. Referred-pain killer shin splints linger on, gradually a little less groan-inducing.
How it feels
How it feels, II
       But then there's the friend who brings you an orchid plant and a couple copies of The Enquirer (yeah, I read 'em) and offers to get groceries, even though she has to go to two stores because inventory hasn't recovered from the hurricane. And another stops in with food, empties and reloads the dishwasher and takes the dog out to the yard to play fetch, a one-woman band of elves. There's the young dear who's busy with her own life who sets up an online bring-a-meal list and goes first. And here come the comfort foods: lasagna, meat loaf, shepherd's pie (we almost fought over the last serving), an unusual chicken stroganoff (for which I must have the recipe), homemade Cuban picadillo with rice and black beans and the thinnest, crispiest tostones ever, and lentil soup and beef and vegetables and brisket and pork roast and a chicken and tomato dish worthy of a French bistro. And breads and salads and fruit and chocolate chip cookies and bourbon-laced brownies. (Yes, sir, gotta love them Presbyterians.) Couple of restaurant gift cards too.
    I am strict about exclamation points. I edit them pitilessly from all church publications. The aforementioned organizer of meals knew she was taking a chance when she emailed that it was no problem to arrange help because our church people love us! She used exclamation points! I didn't mind a bit! I love them too. And that's the best part.