Cheers

Our Christmas snow fell on December 28, when perhaps four inches settled over the village landscape. Ours was nothing like the storm’s ferocity in other areas, but when we get four inches, someone else gets four feet seems to be nearly a truism. Early this morning there are still no cat footprints in the snow on the backyard deck . I can’t say it if is true for the species in general, but our cats are absolutely not the sort who enjoy blazing trail.

I mentioned on the previous post that I was being inconvenienced by an illness, and hoped that this would be the whole story. Monday I became ill, so I with drew from the social contract, emerging only to help with food preparation. I did this while being scrubbed and gloved as one would for heart surgery.

Tuesday every one else seemed still to be okay, but I maintained my distance. At least as much as you can in a small home.

On Wednesday the hammer fell. Sitting in my chair in the living room, I heard a child retching in the guest bathroom at four a.m.. Next I heard the parents trying to attend the child and clean things up without disturbing the rest of the household. An hour later Robin began vomiting and by the time the sun had risen, counting myself, there were now five people out of the eight of us who were ill.

Hammer To Fall, by Queen

Rummaging through the boxes in the professional part of my brain’s attic, which contains a lot of rubbish and that I really will have to go through and clean out someday, I came to the conclusion that I had almost surely brought something called rotavirus to the party, and that this infection was now running its course through our little group.

As rotavirus often does, it hit the youngest the hardest, and that poor child couldn’t keep anything down for nearly 14 hours.

I have no idea from whom I caught my own infection. Like many senior citizens I take it as safe practice to assume that any germ out there is a bullet with my name carved on it, and will go to great lengths to avoid anyone looking the slightest bit puny. And in a world that seems pathologically hug-seeking I am an outlier of the first magnitude. I hug only under duress.

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Brothers & Sisters, if I may have your attention. If you were alert this morning while perusing your daily news, you might have run across this paragraph, which was included in an advertisement.

In 2005, a South African man, Marius Els, adopted a baby hippo after rescuing it from a river. Six years later the hippo dragged him into the same river and ate him.

Clickbait item, CNN homepage

Today’s sermon will therefore cover the territory commonly referred to as the viper in one’s bosom. Humans beings are basically gullible creatures that get themselves into all sorts of trouble because they keep assuming that the way they feel about another of the world’s creatures is reciprocated. This most commonly happens in romantic entanglements between humans, and indeed if it did not – imagine what a huge part of the world’s literature would never have been written.

We fall in love and believe that this is the one, our soulmate and life’s companion, and then we find ourselves out on the train platform, our bags having been packed for us, one-way tickets in our hands. Or we think we are raising our children to be responsible and patriotic citizens and then find that things didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped, as did the Hitler family.

The internet seems particularly fond of the bizarre in photography, and loves to show us snapshots of 500 pound pussycats hugging their 110 pound keepers. But they show these pics to us because they know that we want to believe what we see. That the lion really will lie down with the lamb, if only they do it right.

What we choose to forget over and over and over again is that lions just aren’t made to give up eating lambs altogether. All of its bodily systems are tuned to carnivore-ness. A few handfuls of clover hay just doesn’t cut it for them.

Aesop, that wise old Greek, knew about our tendency toward self delusion back in 600 BCE.

The Farmer & the Snake

A Farmer walked through his field one cold winter morning. On the ground lay a Snake, stiff and frozen with the cold. The Farmer knew how deadly the Snake could be, and yet he picked it up and put it in his bosom to warm it back to life.

The Snake soon revived, and when it had enough strength, bit the man who had been so kind to it. The bite was deadly and the Farmer felt that he must die. As he drew his last breath, he said to those standing around:

“Learn from my fate not to take pity on a scoundrel.”

Aesop’s Fables

Returning to the saga of Marius Els, although it seems that he was a great fool to trust a hippo, I think I might have liked him. He was either very kind or very stupid (0r a bit of both), but he was right in there with the rest of us. Trying to get through the territory.

Can I have an Amen?

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INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

It was announced yesterday that newly elected Rep. George Santos still has several bridges he is offering at ridiculously low prices. Among them are the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and … hold on to your hats for this one … London Bridge!!!

“Don’t wait another minute,” says Santos, “I swear on my mother’s grave that there won’t be sales like this again. Trust me on that one.”

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Ian Tyson passed this week, at his ranch in Canada. He is an old favorite of mine, from when he was married to Sylvia Fricker and they made up the folk duo Ian & Sylvia. He wrote quite a few songs in his lifetime, and a couple of them you might remember – Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon. They epitomize what he sang about most often – the windswept spaces of Canada, the sense of loneliness and loss that so often colors our lives.

But enough of my dithering. They are beautiful songs, often covered.

Four Strong Winds, by Ian & Sylvia
Someday Soon, by Ian & Sylvia

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First day of our new year. How do we even go forward at all from one New Year’s day to the next? Where is the hope for better times and what pocket do we put that hope into? I have my own coping strategies, which of course I will now share with you because I have the microphone.

Firstly, I do not ignore the shit. Each year is full of it, to the brim, and no one with a heart and a brain can peruse the morning paper without feeling at least a bit of despair at each read.

Second – life is a hard entertainment. Many of us scrabble by without having two nickels to rub together, as Aunt Pearl used to say. Some of us are unbelievable wealthy. Rich or poor, all of us will face sickness, disillusionment, loss, and death. If you’re lucky, there are good spaces in between. If you’re not, one poor measure flows into another.

Third- there are a lot of bad people in the world. Parasites and scavengers, they take without giving back. Always have been, probably always will be.

Fourth – our planet is a gorgeous home which we have not completely destroyed and probably never will. Damage and alter … to be sure … but destroy? My friends, even at our worst we are too puny a species to do that.

Fifth – all but one of the people I know personally are not parasites and scavengers. They are people who take in the stranger, the worn-out, the outcast. They work hard for their families and their communities with whatever talents and energies they were given. If they have two coats and you none they solve that problem easily. They befriend the other animals who cannot speak for themselves. They bring courage, honesty, kindness, and love to the table, and when I stand up finally to walk away from that table I am better for having spent the time with them.

It’s number four and five that carry me through. It’s realizing a while back that cynicism came too easily to me and made me a poisonous person to hang with, so I looked for that new pair of glasses … and found them.

So it’s New Year’s Day and I am going about the business of cleaning up and hitching up my big-boy pants for another 24 hours. You may find me at the grocery store, whistling in the canned goods aisle and trying to decide which can of corn will positively impact my future the most. I’ll let you know how it all goes down.

New Year’s Prayer, by Jeff Buckley

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