Do You Feel A Draft?

After a mostly lah-dee-dah winter, Mother Nature has finally got her thing going now in late February and early March by tossing a bunch of ice and snow at us here in Paradise. It’s not nearly as cold as in Minnesota nor is there nearly as much snow, but hey … enough to count! Last Friday Robin traveled to Durango for their film festival and her original plan was to return on Sunday afternoon. Heavy snowfalls, visibility worries, and icy roads delayed her return so when Monday rolled around she decided that she was going home no matter what.

There are two ways to get to Durango from Montrose. The shortest is across the god-forsaken Million Dollar Highway (three mountain passes to cross) and the longer one through Dolores (one pass to navigate). No one in their right minds chooses the shorter trip when there is ice involved, so Robin wisely chose the safer route home. It’s one that usually takes three hours but took six on that Monday.

<the god-forsaken Million Dollar Highway

Waiting for her to return that day involved much chewing of claws and fingernails (the cats and I) while waiting for text messages at various points along her way, sent whenever she stopped for rests and had cellular service.

Robin and I have very different views on doing this grandparent thing. For instance, hers is that if either of the (undeniably talented) grandkids are in a play she will assume that she will go to see it, no matter what. Blizzards, erupting volcanoes, tsunamis, plagues of locusts and frogs … nothing stands in her way when planning those trips.

My own view is that if it is a sunny day with a zero percent chance of precipitation I might consider it. I have no wish for my tombstone to read: He’d still be alive if it hadn’t been for SpongeBob Squarepants,The Musical.

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From The New Yorker

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From the age of five or six years forward, I was taught that the Russians were the bad guys. Oh, sure, it was officially the Communists, but everybody at Warrington Elementary knew that Communists = Russians so there you were. We were given drills to run where we got under our desks just in case someone decided to drop an atomic bomb on South Minneapolis. Those sturdy desks seemed just the thing to be under to a six year-old, and it wasn’t until I was in my teens and read John Hersey’s book Hiroshima that I thought … wait a minute … what good … ?

There were drills for adults, too, where parents were encouraged to dig holes in the backyards to build bomb shelters whose walls were lined with canned goods just in case … . The Russians, again. In TV show after TV show, the villains had thick accents and wore bad suits and their names all ended in -sky so you would know where they came from even though their origins might not be identified.

And then Nikita Khrushchev came to the United Nations and banged his shoe on the desktop, showing what ill-tempered bullies those Commies were. Next, when we learned that Fidel Castro was a Communist and he was helping the bad guys install some missiles so close to Florida you could almost throw them in, it was a shock. Those Russkies were knocking on our door, so we had to get out there in the back yard and start digging again, we were told. Fortunately for us, President John F. Kennedy, fresh from a successful invasion of Cuba, knew just what to do. Somehow it worked, and we all went back to playing Yahtzee and horseshoes once again, rather than continue digging.

Always there was this vague thing called the Cold War, which few of us completely understood, but it involved being fried to something like chicharrones by nuclear weapons. And who were the culprits? Why, it was our good old constant nemeses, the Russians. So when the USSR fell apart, and all those smaller countries whose location we hadn’t a clue about pulled out of the federation, well, all of us were happy as clams. And just to show there were no hard feelings, we started to get serious about our vodka drinking, eventually inventing all sorts of new flavors to make it even more swell. This, along with the fiction that if you drank vodka no one could smell it on your breath, caused that beverage’s fortunes to soar. It looked like the Russians were on their way to becoming our BFFs.

But that didn’t happen and here we are again. An aging Cold Warrior has decided to inflict more pain and disruption on the world by invading a neighbor. We are told that the Russian media are only telling their public an official line blaming Ukrainian nasties who are being encouraged by worse nasties in The West. For our part, we are being told that Russians are deliberately shelling schools and children’s hospitals and committing atrocities right and left.

Our version seems closer to reality, but being the codger that I am, I try to keep in mind a saying that should be embroidered on every sofa pillow wherever there are sofas in the world: The first casualty in wartime is the truth.

The Russian leaders are being called merciless all over again, and deserve that appellation. It’s sort of strangely reassuring to have them as the heavies once again. But, my friends, when was the last merciful war?

Any war is one bad day after another for all but the guys in the suits who start them. Period.

So, I don’t know about you, but I bought a brand new shovel yesterday at Ace Hardware, and later today I will start digging out in the yard. Eventually my shelter will be well-stocked with canned beans, SPAM and Twinkies (the shelf life of a Twinkie being longer than the lifespan of a Galapagos tortoise). The only thing missing will be a proper desk to get under. Those old-time cast iron and wood beauties are awfully hard to come by.

Wooden Ships, by Crosby Stills Nash & Young

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From The New Yorker

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Prayer flags in the back yard breezes on Thursday

Tibetan prayer flags are rich in symbolic meaning. The practice of stringing them in outdoor areas has spread rapidly in the U.S.. The symbols and mantras on the flags are meant to broadcast blessings to the surrounding countryside. The slightest movement of the wind carries the prayers far and wide, he said, spreading Buddhist teachings on peace and compassion.

The flags are primarily for the benefit of the world, not for the individual who hangs them. It is believed that the sacred texts and symbols printed on them have a vibration that is activated and carried by the wind, so that all who are touched by that wind are blessed.The flags have been described as “blessings spoken on the breath of nature.” Just as a drop of water can permeate the ocean, prayers dissolved in the wind extend to fill all of space.

The five colors of the flags are symbolic as well. They are always displayed in the same order and each represents a different element: blue for heaven, white for air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth.

The Meaning of Tibetan Prayer Flags: Spiritual Travels.info

We have had strings of these flags flying for a couple of decades now. As each one wears out it is replaced. Even if you don’t believe that everything happens exactly as the legends state, the thoughts behind their display are gentle and positive ones, and the flags themselves are beautiful as they flutter in the slightest movement of air.

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Lastly, I must relate a tale that even now I can scarce credit, even though I was present at the event.

Robin and I were having friends over for supper on Saturday evening. All had gone well and it was so much fun to begin putting the last two years of constant Covid worry aside for an evening. The food turned out well enough to please us all, our conversations picked up right where we had left them off in 2020, and we began catching up on one another’s lives. All in all … it was grand.

And then Robin asked if anyone wanted to play a game. That was a large mistake, it turned out. The second error came right after the first as we all agreed to do it. The game selected was Clue, an old stalwart. All of us knew the game, were familiar with the rules, and were eager to get started.

What I now will tell you will not mean much to anyone who has not played this game, but I will try to set the stage. It starts with someone being murdered, and each of us then tries to guess who the culprit was, what weapon they used, and in what room of the mansion that the dastardly deed occurred. There are six possible villains, six possible weapons, and nine possible rooms.

Through successive rounds of questioning one another, a player discards one possibility after another until they think they know the answer and then they make an accusation which takes the form: “It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the noose.” They then take the answer cards from an envelope and see if they were correct.

One by one we made our accusations until all four of us had done our best and … I still can’t believe it … none of us got it right! That had never happened to us before. We never heard of it happening to anybody else, either. Keep in mind that these were four people who had once held down responsible jobs. Were college graduates. Could still balance their checkbooks and were able to get dressed in the morning without assistance.

Shame gripped our foursome as the enormity of what had happened seeped in. Without actually asking for a pledge, we silently hoped that the secret would never leave that room. That hope was in vain, of course, because it wasn’t long before I knew that I would soon be blabbing it all over the world.

Really, why bother to have a blog if you can’t violate a confidence once in a while?

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