“A heinous act of mass murder — either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago — will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control.” ~ Wayne LaPierre, NRA EVP/CEO, from a 2013 op-ed

The 10,000 square foot mansion the LaPierres wanted the NRA to purchase for them in 2018

“They’re sending out requests for money, saying they might go bankrupt in their legal fight with New York. They’re going through all of this drama of saying they need money, while they are spending money on all these things that can’t even be justified.” ~ ROB PINCUS, Gun Rights Advocate

Saturday evening, sunny, and warm, 83 degrees.

I’ve been working on this post since this morning, and it’s now after 8 p.m., so I’m dog tired and hurt all over. Just thought I’d share that tidbit.

NRA Insignias/Getty Images

So you are a proud member of the NRA. Fine, truly. It’s your right as an American citizen to belong to anything you choose. I may not agree with you, but that’s my right as an American citizen. We get to disagree about things. Again, a free and open society allows for that. Here’s hoping we continue to be a free and open society for many years to come, a society that endorses freedom of the press and your right to be a safe gun owner.

But allow me to elucidate for you a few NRA facts about which you may be unfamiliar, a few facts about exactly how the NRA spends your membership dues. You may be surprised . . . or maybe not. But first, a few background facts about the organization.

“It is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house . . .” ~ Lt. Col. Allen West, Ret., NRA Board Member, in a blog post (May 14, 2019)

NRA Background Information:

  • The NRA was co-founded in 1871 by William Conant Church and Captain George Wood Wingate. Prior to 1970, the organization was primarily non-partisan, but during the 1970s it became increasingly aligned with the Republican party.
  • This nonprofit group (501c4) has an annual revenue of around $400 million and enjoys tax-exempt status as a “social welfare” organization. As such, it is not required to disclose its donors. It is, however, required to file a tax return declaring its revenue sources, which includes membership dues.
  • Wayne LaPierre was appointed executive vice president in 1991 and still serves as CEO. But did you know that LaPierre’s early career included working for Democratic lawmakers in Virginia? Irony, huh?
  • Nine US presidents have been NRA members. In addition to Grant, they are: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush (who resigned in 1995), and Donald Trump. Three US vice presidents, two chief justices of the US Supreme Court, and several US congressmen, as well as legislators and officials of state governments are members.
  • NRA membership dues after 2018 hike: Regular membership fees when not running promotions: annual $45, two-year $75, three-year $100, five-year $150 and lifetime memberships $1500, 60 monthly payments of $25 (Interestingly, these rates differ depending upon which site you are exploring, but I got my information directly from the NRA site.)
  • Since 2013, the NRA has cited is membership as being around 5 million.
  • According to Newsweek and multiple sources, the NRA’s membership typically gets a boost after tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • The NRA received twice as much money from nearly five times as many donors in the seven days after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting than it did in the seven days before the shooting.
  • Even though a Quinnipiac poll conducted in the days after February’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting showed 97 percent of surveyed gun owners support universal background checks for gun purchases, the NRA still opposes such legislation.
  • According to Rick Newman on Yahoo Finance: The NRA’s political spending takes two forms: money spent on lobbying, and money spent on elections, whether direct donations to candidates or spending on their behalf through a political-action committee. Required disclosure forms show spending of $5.1 million on lobbying and $54 million on elections, or $59.1 million total.
  • According to an article by Mike Spies in The New Yorker, the NRA has “reduced spending on its avowed core mission—gun education, safety, and training—to less than ten per cent of its total budget, but it has substantially increased its spending on messaging.”
  • The NRA receives most of its income—$164 million in 2016—from dues paid by its  members, and contributions, including money donated to its political-action committees, brought in another $104 million in 2016.
“I can think of no other non-profit organization that compensates their Executive Vice President the kind of salary and benefits that Mr. Lapierre gets relative to how much employees receive. I also cannot understand how a person like Mr. Lapierre treats the people that work for him like his own personal indentured servants . . . ” ~ Andy Lander, former NRA employee of 13 years in an open letter

Facts of which you may be unaware regarding questionable NRA membership totals and expenditures by the upper echelon of the organization:

On NRA membership, real and not-so-real:

  • Banners of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox, and Dana Loesch outside at the organization’s annual convention in Dallas in 2018 (Justin Sullivan/Getty) Does anyone else find these banners slightly frightening? No. Just me?

    A Newsweek review of the tax exempt records, known as 990 filings (full text of 990 from 2015 here, and 2017 here), shows wild fluctuation in membership numbers from year to year, but also an overall decline in membership revenue between 2007 and 2016.

  • According to an article in The Trace, there was a  “22 percent drop in membership revenue—from $163 million in 2016 to $128 million in 2017. Dues from members accounted for just 40 percent of the NRA’s total revenue in 2017 — the lowest percentage in a decade.”
  • Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist, said the group uses a few other tricks to pad its numbers: counting lifetime members who have died, counting annual members whose memberships have lapsed in the 13 month: “one method he and his colleagues used was to continue counting annual members on its rolls even after their membership lapsed, at least for another month, in hopes they would renew.”

On the big, big costs associated with keeping the EVP/CEO:

  • NRA EVP/CEO Wayne LaPierre: I want it all . . . now . . .

    CEO Wayne LaPierre, gets paid very well. In 2015, the last year for which the group’s tax return is available, LaPierre earned $5.1 million in total compensation. That’s more than the CEOs of Alaska Air, CME Group, Church & Dwight, Dish Network or Garmin earned that year.

  • A comprehensive article in Business Insider states that “in 2017, the most recent year available, NRA paid LaPierre a salary of $1,366,688, plus an additional $67,289 in ‘other compensation from the organization and related organizations,'” according to the company’s 2017 990 tax form. That brings his total compensation that year to $1,433,977.
  • In 2015, the NRA paid a one-time $3,767,345 supplemental retirement payment to LaPierre, which will become even more startling later in the post.
  • La Pierre will continue to earn a salary even after leaving the NRA. State records show that LaPierre’s contract “provides for consulting services and personal appearances upon the end of his employment, at an annual rate that starts at his currently contracted final base salary and is later reduced.”
  • An article on the NPR site by Tim Mark states that “of the more than 600 organizations that Charity Watch tracks, LaPierre is the eighth-highest compensated nonprofit leader in the country.
“The litany of red flags is just extraordinary.” ~ Marc Owens, former head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt enterprises

A Pro Publica article contends that in July 2018, a half-dozen of the organization’s accountants produced a document detailing the most egregious issues that needed to be addressed by the audit committee tasked with conducting NRA fiscal oversight. The audit committee document was part of an effort by NRA accountants last year to address a broad array of questionable transactions and business arrangements that they believed could threaten the organization’s tax-exempt status.

The “List of Top Concerns for the Audit Committee” details a range of questionable transactions and business arrangements involving several top NRA vendors and executives. Violations of the organizations procedures and policies included hiring staff without HR knowledge, reimbursement of living expenses beyond HR policies.

The transactions involved top NRA executives, favored vendors, and consultants, including Josh Powell, LaPierre’s former chief of staff. The organization’s 2017 tax filings revealed that Powell had racked up more than a hundred thousand dollars in personal expenses—including a housing allowance—paid by the NRA.

That being said, it appears that the biggest infractions came from the very top.

On LaPierre’s Questionable Expenses:

  • A leaked document shows that LaPierre likes his clothes—for purchases dating back to 2004 From the Zegna boutique in Beverly Hills the total for designer suits was $274,695.
  • Fox News reports that the CEO billed the group’s outside ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents.

    went on vacation just after the Sandy Hook, CN, massacre of school children
  • Among the travel expenses billed to the NRA’s former ad agency are more than $200,000 in “Air Transportation” costs during a one-month period in late 2012 and early 2013, in part related to a two-week trip over Christmas to the Bahamas.
  • The Fox News article also states that “The documents, posted anonymously on the internet, provide new details of the clothing, travel and other expenses totaling more than $542,000 that Ackerman McQueen Inc. alleges Mr. LaPierre billed to it. (The NRA is now in litigation with its former ad agency)
  • LaPierre charged the NRA’s ad agency $39,947 for a private jet to Eleuthera just three days after the Sandyhook Massacre and then $29,100 for a plane from Nassau, Bahamas, to Dallas, Texas.
  • But it wasn’t all vacations and travel expenses for LaPierre and his spouse: The NRA also spent tens of thousands of dollars in travel and lodging expenses for hair and makeup artists for Susan LaPierre.
“This is like the worst kind of corporate waste because buying the house does nothing to advance the interests of the NRA. How can you explain that? It’s not like he’s been underpaid.” ~ Daniel Kurtz, New York attorney specializing in non-profit law

About that nine-bathroom house on the golf course:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019 that in 2018 LaPierre was in talks with the NRA’s former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, to facilitate the purchase of a 10,000 suqare foot house in Dallas that was priced at $6.2 million at the time: “The discussions about the house purchase occurred early last year, shortly after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Mr. LaPierre was concerned about his security and was interested in another residence besides his publicly known address in northern Virginia.” (Oh irony, thy name is LaPierre…….)
  • LaPierre’s wife, Susan, did quibble with one design detail, according to an email The Post reviewed. She thought the men’s closet may not be large enough.
  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “The origins of the idea to buy the mansion, its proposed purpose and the reason the deal never went through are now being fiercely disputed by the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, which are locked in a bitter legal fight.”
  • An aside: Before the big falling out and all of the drama, Ackerman and McQueen had a 38-year relationship with the NRA, and in 2017 (the most recent available records), the NRA paid the ad agency and its affiliates over $40 million. This relationship could be a post all by itself, and that’s not even getting into the whole Ollie North aspect.
  • Ackerman says they were setting up an LLC, WBB Investments, for LaPierre so that his home buying would not become public.
  • Even though the NRA claims that not a dime of its money was spent on the proposed purchase, a good faith check for $70,000 was in fact wired to WBB Investments towards the home’s purchase.
Check from NRA to WSB Investments, LLC for $70K

And finally, did you want that coffee with or without the retirement option:

Remember that insignificant sum of $3,767,345 the NRA paid into LaPierre’s retirement fund in 2015?

NRA Annual Meeting
  • According to the NPR article, a copy of 2019 National Rifle Association pension documents obtained from a source showed that the NRA’s pension obligations were approximately $134 million at the beginning of this year, but they had only set aside $93 million to meet those obligations.
  • FYI: There are 786 people in the NRA’s pension plan, of which 223 are currently employed by the organization. The company has underfunded pensions affecting hundreds of former and current employees—even as LaPierre made $1.4 million in 2017, according to the group’s most recent financial disclosures.
  • An article on The Trace states that even though hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to a number of NRA executives, board members, and vendors through sweetheart deals and opaque financial vehicles, to cut costs, the organization froze contributions to employees’ pension plans and even eliminated free coffee at its headquarters.
  • Perhaps the coffee cutback is only a reflection of the bigger cash problem facing the NRA. In May, they sued New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, claiming that the state’s zealous regulatory efforts against its Carry Guard insurance program had cost the NRA “tens of millions of dollars” in lost revenue, legal fees, and other damages.

So that’s just a capsule of how the NRA gets and spends some of its money, and granted, this post ended up being much longer than I had anticipated. What I take away from this is perhaps three things: Bloating at the top of organizations seems to be universal, and those in charge tend to forget all of the people they stepped on to get there. Second, the original mission of the NRA has been lost (advancing rifle marksmanship). Gun education and safety falls somewhere in the bottom of priorities.

And finally, and this is good news for those of us who really are against the organization’s upper echelon and the out-of-touch messaging, their belt tightening has affected their political spending:  The group shelled out just under $10 million on House and Senate candidates in 2018—less than half of what it spent on congressional races in 2014 and 2016 (emphasis mine).

(The above information can be found anywhere on the internet, but I’ve tried to use as many sources as possible so as to be thorough and as unbiased as I can be when discussing the NRA. I’ve also sought the original documents that were leaked on the web. All links are included unless a statement is considered common knowledge.
Tomorrow’s companion post will focus on the downfall of NRA TV.

 

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If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

The Atchison Daily Globe, Kansas, May 12, 1904 (From yesterdaysprint.tumblr)

Friday afternoon, partly cloudy and beautiful, 84 degrees.

I’m having problems getting to sleep again; I’m really hoping that this doesn’t turn into another full-blown episode of insomnia. Last night I dreamed I was having a good conversation with Brett’s partner, Dom. I was telling her how much I missed speaking with Brett. She said that she would tell him . . .

I’m hoping that Corey will spray the bugs around the house soon, so that I can venture outside without adding to my huge collection of bites. Oh well.

Hope you like today’s collection. Enjoy.


My nights lately:

image

In praise of words:

La Grande Observer, Oregon, April 25, 1930

When you realize . . .

I love this picture. One of my earliest memories of is of my father working on a green car while we were living in Navy housing before going to England.

Love this sign:

To the billionaire owner of SoulCycle, Stephen Ross:


And this one, too:

Another one from isn’t:

Great bumper sticker:

Grooming a steer:

And finally, I love this. I wish that I knew where my old I Read Banned Books button was:


Music by Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth” (just as relevant today)

“Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!” ~ Latest crowd chant at a Trump rally

Baron Von Fancy Billboard in the Bowery, NYC

“Sleep not in peace:
There are a thousand waters to be spanned;
there are a thousand mountains to be crossed;
there are a thousand crosses to be borne.” ~ Rafael Zulueta da Costa, from “Like the Molave”

Saturday evening, sunny and hot, 93 degrees (feels like 98).

I’ve been pondering this post for a few days. Finally, I decided that the best way to write it was just to write it. I’ve been saving this Camus quote from a 1948 play for a bit, and it seems fitting; the more things and times change, the more they stay the same:

“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests.” ~ Albert Camus, from State of Siege (L’État de siège)

I was born in Norfolk, Virginia to a Filipino father who became an American citizen by fighting for the U.S. during WWII, and a mother from a small town in North Carolina. At the time in which they were married, there was still a law on the books in Virginia that made their marriage illegal. They got married in Elizabeth City, NC. I have light olive skin, but when I was young, I used to tan like crazy, and could get quite dark.

I tell you all of this for one specific reason: I have been told to go back to where I come from. Truthfully, that’s not the worst racist thing aimed at me or to which I was subjected. In fact, the first time that I heard the N-word was in Norfolk when someone called me one. I went home and asked my mother what it meant.

I have been asked what I am. If I have replied, “an American,” I have been asked what kind? I have been asked if the rumor is true that Oriental women have vaginas that are built differently. I have been told in apparent praise that Filipinos are good workers in the kitchen (as Navy stewards). I once heard someone say that my father was good looking for a Filipino. I was asked by my school mates in grade school why my eyes looked the way that they did. My father, who spoke with an accent, was told to speak English; his vernacular was more eloquent and proper than most people I have known, including many of those born here. People have openly stared at me when I’ve had my three children together as my daughter is fair, and my sons are quite olive, more brown in the summer, and I’ve been asked in front of them if they have different fathers. They don’t.

When I was young, I longed for long blond hair and blue eyes. I did not get them, obviously, and I am oh so grateful. I am made of fairly strong stuff, directly as a result of the kinds of things that I used to routinely hear, face, and experience. To be half-Filipino with a very proper British accent in the south before segregation? Now that’s different. I was the darkest thing in my school. Oh how I hated it then. Now? It makes me laugh.

Ignorance makes me laugh. Dumpf makes me laugh, that is when he’s not making me grab my head in pain from screaming at the television. I don’t write about politics often here as a deliberate decision. I will probably ramp up closer to the election, but right now I’m trying to hold on to my sanity. So I eschew the pontificating. For now, that is.

But I had to write just a few words in response to this past week’s latest Dumpster fire. Go back to where you came from hits at the very heart of anyone who is first or second or even third generation, but seriously, it should hit at anyone who calls themselves American. None of us came from here, not really. Only the Native Americans came from here. The rest of us? Immigrants. Willing and unwilling. Pilgrims. Slaves. Indentured servants. Whatever, whoever, however. We all come from immigrant stock.

I have no plans to go back to where I came from, at least not immediately. I mean, I came from Norfolk, so there’s that . . . But I have to ask you, those of you out there who still think 45 is the guy for you, that he represents real Americans, whatever that means—how is it that you really don’t see him as the sexually perverse, pussy-grabbing, serially-unfaithful, draft-dodging, tax-evading, child-abusing, racist crook that he is? I’m not asking you to vote for a Democrat. That’s not what this is about. I’m just asking you to look within and ask yourselves if this man truly represents your America, land of the free, home of the brave, we “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” . . .

That’s all. Just that.


It was really hard to pick the right song. I finally settled on Chicano Batman’s bilingual version of “This Land is Your Land” (I know that it’s a Johnny Walker commercial; doesn’t matter, it’s the point).



I Was In A Hurry

Yesterday I lost a country.
I was in a hurry,
and didn’t notice when it fell from me
like a broken branch from a forgetful tree.
Please, if anyone passes by
and stumbles across it,
perhaps in a suitcase
open to the sky,
or engraved on a rock
like a gaping wound,
or wrapped
in the blankets of emigrants,
or canceled
like a losing lottery ticket,
or helplessly forgotten
in Purgatory,
or rushing forward without a goal
like the questions of children,
or rising with the smoke of war,
or rolling in a helmet on the sand,
or stolen in Ali Baba’s jar,
or disguised in the uniform of a policeman
who stirred up the prisoners
and fled,
or squatting in the mind of a woman
who tries to smile,
or scattered
like the dreams
of new immigrants in America.
If anyone stumbles across it,
return it to me, please.
Please return it, sir.
Please return it, madam.
It is my country. . .
I was in a hurry
when I lost it yesterday.I Was In A Hurry

Yesterday I lost a country.
I was in a hurry,
and didn’t notice when it fell from me
like a broken branch from a forgetful tree.
Please, if anyone passes by
and stumbles across it,
perhaps in a suitcase
open to the sky,
or engraved on a rock
like a gaping wound,
or wrapped
in the blankets of emigrants,
or canceled
like a losing lottery ticket,
or helplessly forgotten
in Purgatory,
or rushing forward without a goal
like the questions of children,
or rising with the smoke of war,
or rolling in a helmet on the sand,
or stolen in Ali Baba’s jar,
or disguised in the uniform of a policeman
who stirred up the prisoners
and fled,
or squatting in the mind of a woman
who tries to smile,
or scattered
like the dreams
of new immigrants in America.
If anyone stumbles across it,
return it to me, please.
Please return it, sir.
Please return it, madam.
It is my country. . .
I was in a hurry
when I lost it yesterday.

~ Dunya Mikhail (Trans, Elizabeth Winslow) (found on Poetry Foundation)

Happy 4th of July America!


“Sometimes nations should pray for amnesia.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook

In honor of the country’s birthday . . . nope, sorry, in honor of 45’s belief that the world revolves around him, he held a ‘Merica celebration on the National Mall in which he praised our country’s history, especially the Revolutionary War in which the country gained its independence. All went well until it got to the airplaines . . .

“Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over airports, it did everything it had to do.”

Donald J. Trump, noted historian and purveyor of fine facts of the fake kind……

Argh…this was in my drafts folder………..

“Sometimes we suffer too much reality in the space of a single night.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Image from Elephant’s Dream (cc)*

” . . .they would walk home in
the evenings when the light was soft, anything bad sliding
off them, and they would feel owned, completely owned,
in a good way, by the air, which would touch them constantly,
sometimes urgently, sometimes lightly, just to let them know
it was there, and they would think maybe this is what being
alive is” ~ Emily Berry, from “No Name”

Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 74 degrees.

I think that today would be a good day for a walk with the dogs mostly because I was walking everywhere in my dreams last night. I frequently walk in my dreams—to my imaginary jobs, to school, to the doctor’s office—it’s weird. Last night I was walking home (in Norfolk) down Shore Drive, which is definitely not a street for pedestrians. I was walking when I realized that it was getting dark, and there was no one around. I started to pick up my pace until I was running, but then I found myself running on all fours, but it felt completely natural, and I was able to run quickly, like some kind of animal.

I’ve had the being on all fours dreams before, but last night’s was one of the first times in which I felt myself moving. I’ve dreamt that I’ve been walking to and from a primary school in which I was teaching, but my walk takes me through a sketchy part of town, and I have to keep looking down alleys. Those are always strange as I’ve never really lived anywhere that had a lot of alleys.

I remember that in part of last night’s dream I was trying to remember if I had ever gone walking completely naked, and my dream mind remembered a time in which I went to school completely naked. I know—the naked dreams are all about being vulnerable—but in this particular naked dream I didn’t feel at all vulnerable, just incredibly free. I sent to school (college), but no one was especially surprised or concerned, and I felt very at home in my naked body. Go figure that one out because I’ve never been able to translate that one.

“Night opens itself only once. It’s enough . . . And I am well aware what night is made of.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Lately my dad has been making many appearances in my dreams. Last night he was bailing some of us out of jail (unsure as to who exactly was there), and it cost him $1500, and I was worried about how I would ever be able to pay him back. Funnily enough, though, he wasn’t mad; he was smiling. If you ever met my dad  you would know that he was not a big smiler, which is probably where my antipathy towards smiling comes from.

But last night he was smiling, and it unnerved the me in the dream because I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a happy smile or a mad smile, if that makes sense. I have a vague memory of him appearing in my dreams the night before last as well, but now I cannot quite grab the thread of the dream, even though I awoke from it thinking that it was so powerful that I would definitely remember everything, but of course, I cannot. The only part that I can remember is that I was in the military, which is very, very weird.

For some strange reason, Brad Pitt was in part of my dream: I was sitting across from him in some kind of restaurant, and he was telling me why his marriage failed, and it was the most natural scenario, which it definitely would not be. I was also back at my old pain management doctor’s office so that I could get trigger point injections, but instead of the neurologist, it was another doctor that I saw for a while before him, and I was very confused. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston made an appearance as well.

I don’t have many celebrity dreams, and if any do appear, it’s not usually in a casual setting, but last night, this dream seemed to be populated with famous people. In another part I was in a movie theater, and I was watching a documentary. The strangest part was that I knew that the person sitting next to me was not who he claimed to be, and I knew that the scene involving the primates (?) would reveal who he really was, and I knew that Brad Pitt would be angry at the charade.

When the truth was revealed on the screen, a loud argument erupted, and we were all asked to leave the theater, which meant going up an aisle filled with chaise lounges because those are always in theaters .  . .The whole sequence was truly bizarre.

“. . . each of us
joins night’s ongoing story” ~ Li-Young Lee, from “Black Petal”

Sorry to go on so much about my dreams, but I always find them fascinating. I’ve never actually bothered to try that whole lucid dreaming thing, mostly because my dreams are already to full. I’ve found over the years that not everyone dreams like this, though, which is definitely a shame for those people because dreams that are so vivid are actually pretty cool, that is, until they aren’t, like the ones in which I awake screaming or yelling or crying.

I have wondered if my vivid dreaming is part of what makes my sleep so fractured. Apparently, not everyone awakens two to three times a night. That whole seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep only happened in my youth. Once I got married (the first time) and began to worry about adult problems like bills and rent and everything else, my ability to sleep uninterrupted ceased, and then with the birth of babies, sleep at night became even more fractured.

I suppose the dogs replaced the children at some point because I now awaken instantly when I sense a dog stirring and moving towards the front door. When my children were babies, the same thing would happen: Something in me would cause me to awaken instantly when a baby or child stirred, even once they were in their own rooms. Maybe that’s just an innate mother thing because I did it with Olivia as well.

“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.” ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel

In other news . . .

I’ve been reading the Mueller report because, well, democracy you know. Amazingly, it’s  not filled with a lot of legalese, making it fairly easy to go through, but I’ve been taking my time, going back and forth so that I don’t end up giving myself an aneurysm from being so angry.

Trust me. It’s better this way, well, better for my blood pressure, plus, I really don’t need yet another thing to keep me from being able to sleep. I’m really trying not to allow the state of the union to move to the top of my worry list.

I’d really like to print the report, but I think that I’ll wait until we see an unredacted version. Overall, though, I really want to hear from Mueller himself. His letters to and interactions with the pseudo attorney general only confirmed my initial suspicions about the entire Mueller investigation and the blatant bullshit of the administration’s declaration of total exoneration.

I’m so tired of all of this, the constant breaking news because there’s never a day in which something else stupid or illegal or evil happens. How did our country get to this point? But more importantly, why aren’t more people upset? I truly don’t understand. No, not everyone out there gives a whit about politics, but this is our entire system of government, people. This is our Constitution being blatantly ignored, and need I remind everyone that democracies die in countries all of the time, and the U.S. is not immune, no matter how superior we all feel to the rest of the world.

“We heard of nights lit
with lightning bugs and cigarettes. With rumflame
and tonguefire. We needed none of it. The nights were
black puzzleboxes and we solved them. It was easy—
in the darkness, our minds sparked like flint.” ~ Catherine Pierce, from “The Geek Girls”

And now for something completely different . . . (I really miss Monty Python).

Last night Bill Maher made a Carpenters’ reference, and very few people in the audience got it. As the Dump would say, “sad.” You know that you are aging when you make cultural references that no one else in the room understand and/or appreciates.

Anyway . . . Corey bought me a small bottle of Maker’s Mark a few weeks ago, and I’ve been parceling it out like it’s gold, which it is actually akin to, considering the cost. I’ve just been having a weird craving for bourbon the last few months; it’s especially weird as I rarely drink any more, probably more as a reaction to being around a drunken Dallas.

Who knows. Certainly not I. But there really was a point to this: Even though the driveway is still in precarious shape because of the section that washed out, Corey met Dallas coming up the driveway yesterday pulling the horse trailer with the tractor. He (Dallas, not Corey) was sloppy drunk and talking about loading Sassy in the trailer and what he’d do to her if she wouldn’t get inside. Corey reminded him that the driveway was damaged, and actually convinced Dallas to turn around.

There was a lot more to the episode, but I just don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that Corey locked on of the gates on the driveway, which is good as Dallas actually came back up the drive after Corey left, and if Dallas had made it all the way here and tried to scare Sassy into the trailer, I’m really not sure how I would have reacted. As it was, Corey’s retelling of everything left me shaken. I’m really beginning to hate a lot of what is going on around here, the constant threats of lawsuits, and jail and violence, even though we’re not actually in the midst of it. But we’re close enough that it’s affecting us.

I had wanted to get away from people, away from neighbors, but I suppose you truly cannot get away from such things unless you are physically unreachable. I mean, we’re pretty isolated on our property, but these people can still reach us. Several years ago I wrote a post about hermits and hermitages; I remember it fondly. The irony is that when Corey first met Dallas, we thought that it was so great to have a contact who knew everyone and knew a lot about our property. That boon has become my bane.

Ah me . . . I just need to spend more time writing and practicing my piano, more said than done.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the short movie Elephant’s Dream, which is the world’s first open movie, made entirely using open source graphics software and presented under a Creative Commons license. To see more images or to watch the movie, go to Blender Foundation | www.blender.org

Music by Disturbed (yes, again), “Sound of Silence”


Falling Water (section one)

I drove to Oak Park, took two tours,
And looked at some of the houses.
I took the long way back along the lake.
The place that I came home to—a cavernous
Apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee—
Seems basically a part of that tradition,
With the same admixture of expansion and restraint:
The space takes off, yet leaves behind a nagging
Feeling of confinement, with the disconcerting sense
That while the superficial conflicts got resolved,
The underlying tensions brought to equilibrium,
It isn’t yet a place in which I feel that I can live.
Imagine someone reading. Contemplate a man
Oblivious to his settings, and then a distant person
Standing in an ordinary room, hemmed in by limitations,
Yet possessed by the illusion of an individual life
That blooms within its own mysterious enclosure,
In a solitary space in which the soul can breathe
And where the heart can stay—not by discovering it,
But by creating it, by giving it a self-sustaining
Atmosphere of depth, both in the architecture,
And in the unconstructed life that it contains.
In a late and very brief remark, Freud speculates
That space is the projection of a “psychic apparatus”
Which remains almost entirely oblivious to itself;
And Wright extols “that primitive sense of shelter”
Which can turn a house into a refuge from despair.
I wish that time could bring the future back again
And let me see things as they used to seem to me
Before I found myself alone, in an emancipated state—
Alone and free and filled with cares about tomorrow.
There used to be a logic in the way time passed
That made it flow directly towards an underlying space
Where all the minor, individual lives converged.
The moments borrowed their perceptions from the past
And bathed the future in a soft, familiar light
I remembered from home, and which has faded.
And the voices get supplanted by the rain,
The nights seem colder, and the angel in the mind
That used to sing to me beneath the wide suburban sky
Turns into dreamwork and dissolves into the air,
While in its place a kind of monument appears,
Magnificent in isolation, compromised by proximity
And standing in a small and singular expanse—
As though the years had been a pretext for reflection,
And my life had been a phase of disenchantment—
As the faces that I cherished gradually withdraw,
The reassuring settings slowly melt away,
And what remains is just a sense of getting older.
In a variation of the parable, the pure of heart
Descend into a kingdom that they never wanted
And refused to see. The homely notions of the good,
The quaint ideas of perfection swept away like
Adolescent fictions as the real forms of life
Deteriorate with manically increasing speed,
The kind man wakes into a quiet dream of shelter,
And the serenity it brings—not in reflection,
But in the paralyzing fear of being mistaken,
Of losing everything, of acquiescing in the
Obvious approach (the house shaped like a box;
The life that can’t accommodate another’s)—
As the heart shrinks down to tiny, local things.

~ John Koethe (rest of the poem here)

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Almost every night of my life . . . From The New Yorker

 

Friday evening. Cloudy with drizzle, 46 degrees.

Just a straightforward leftovers post. Spent too much time trying to find the perfect present for Corey, and now my back hurts. My life is so weird……..


Self-explanatory:

The four horsemen of the apocalypse from memesdaily

Existentialgingerbreadism

Also self-explanatory:

 

From Ultrafacts: Perhaps a lesson here?

For youngest son who spent years Rick Rolling everyone in sight:

Also from Ultrafacts:


Today’s poem was written by UK Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy for the centenary of Armistice Day, November 18, 2018 (I know that I’m late). This day is very important to Europeans, but somehow, 45 couldn’t go out in the rain to pay tribute to the fallen. The background on this sonnet can be found here.

The Wound In Time

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” ~ Groucho Marx

Mark Twain

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” ~ Will Rogers

Thursday afternoon. Mostly cloudy and cold, 38 degrees.

The snow from recent days made me remember something funny in politics, and there just hasn’t been much humor in politics for the past few years. Plus I’ve been so intense the last few days that I thought that you, dear reader, and I could use a break, hence, Throwback Thursday. Enjoy.


On Sunday, February 15, 2015, Jeff Jackson, a young Democratic NC State senator, was the only senator in the general assembly because of snow. Obviously a man with a sense of humor, Jackson passed sweeping legislation while he had the run of the floor. If only . . .


Music by Midnight Oil, “Beds are Burning” (late 80’s protest song by former Australian band)


Of History and Hope

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.

~ Miller Williams (1930-2015), President Clinton’s Inaugural Poet, 1997