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When Did We Become Weird?

Many people have taken on religious fervor, the very thing we have championed against in earlier years.

We have global warming where we can divide ourselves and beat each other with our viewpoints. Some say, “Pollution has done it.” Others say, “It’s the natural earth cycle.” Oh yes, there is another: it doesn’t exist.

We have vaccinations where one side says it will save us from this blasted pandemic. We have another side that thinks the vaccination will turn us into zombies, implant devices into our bodies to be controlled by whoever has their finger on the button.

We seek out material, especially on the Internet (Well, that’s where we can find it), that supports our point of view. In the process, we become enmeshed into a rock-solid belief system.

How far can we go down that rabbit hole?

If we watch the news on TV, we will be swayed by rhetoric that deliberately slants toward the horrific, the fear, and the desire to keep us watching–thus ratings. (Do you see any bias here?)

We know some of these things like fear sells, that’s common knowledge, but still, we can get pulled in. I don’t know why that is so; it’s something about our makeup. We hate that car wreaks happens, but we can’t help but look if there is one.

We’re drawn to the drama, the excitement, the adrenalin rush. I guess we need it. Our lives are too enmeshed in the minutiae of life. (I suppose there was more value in the hunt than bring home the bacon. Perhaps the thrill of the hunt kept the hunters hunting and the village fed.)

If we continue to be stimulus/response individuals, we will be programmed.

We need to get back some healthy debate, to consider that maybe, just maybe, we are driving our own evolution, and we have a choice as to where it is going.

Perhaps the “truth” lies somewhere in the middle.

Maybe you do have a point that the earth is naturally warming.

Maybe we are driving it faster with pollution, emissions, hair sprays, aerosols, and etc.

It scares me when I see a picture of the earth from space, and it shows how thin our atmosphere is. Heavens, we can’t climb the highest mountain on earth without carrying oxygen with us or heaving and puffing, with little energy to climb to the top. I remember being a kid where our family would drive up toward Mt Hood in Oregon for a picnic. I would get out of the car and wondered what was happening to me that I could hardly climb the embankment. After I acclimated, I was okay. Doesn’t that tell us something? Like maybe we should all work together to ensure that thin film stays surrounding us. (Like not exploding bombs in it.) and we ought to make sure those life-giving elements continue at a ratio beneficial to all life.

Would you prefer to look at a desolate planet like Mars and consider a colony there when we can play on this gorgeous planet?

If we pollute the oceans, we’re goners.

If we don’t look at the coral reefs and realize they are telling us something, we are stupid. There is a phenomenon in corals caused by the warming ocean and the pollutants, where the coral blanches white. If it stays white, it will die. However, in its desire to survive, corals can produce a sort of sunscreen to help them recover. It will recolor. But given enough stress, that will fail.

Not interested in coral reefs? Not into scuba diving? The purpose of corals to not to provide us with beautiful photographs but to support life. 1,500 species of fish live within the coral reefs.

They are called “Barrier reefs” because they form a barrier to protect the live-forms that live within the reef and are protected by it. Reefs stabilize the ocean floor so grasses can grow. Those grasses feed large creatures like manatees who nurture their babies within the protection of the reefs.

Over 500 million people depend upon the reefs for their food. Not only is food sustained there, but medicines have been made from the coral to treat heart problems and for human bone transplants.

You know about the food chain. And we ought to know about the ocean. For example, plankton provides 50-80% of our oxygen. One photosynthesizing bacteria within the plankton, Prochlorococcus, produces a whopping 20% of the earth’s oxygen.

While we are speaking holistically, dust from the Sierra dessert blows across the African continent, is dropped into the ocean, and fertilizes the plankton that grows there.

I notice, this year, that while the flowers are abundant, they came, flourished beautifully, but are gone within a day or two. I’m not sure the apple tree kept its blossoms long enough to be pollinated. No flowers, no bees, no apples. It could be that we have drought conditions, and they know it. And strange that one of the first things affected by change is the reproductive cycle. If we don’t have enough food or water, we don’t have babies or fruit or vegetables.

If a polar bear doesn’t have enough food to grow her young, she holds a fertilized egg in her body until such a time that conditions are right. Better to not have children that to have them starve.

In our lack of having a holistic approach, we forget that one thing affects another. Even doctors will treat that one booboo without thought of how it is affecting the entire organism. (Some insurance companies will forbid the doctor from addressing more than one issue.) Now, I ask you, is that good doctoring?

There is pollen in the air,” you say, “It gives me sniffles and itchy eyes. Take an allergy pill, and get with the program. (See, technology can help us be more comfortable. It can cure diseases and thus make our lives more enjoyable. Maybe that’s why God gave us a big brain. It’s up to us the help make life easier for its inhabitants. And don’t get after me for using evolution and God—I believe in both.) You know the grasses need pollen. You like grass-fed beef, don’t you? You like corn and grain, and pasta, and muffins. You like fruit and many other foodstuffs that require pollination.

I’m an earth child, as you can see. I want to see it thrive. I’m not waiting for aliens to come and save us or to find another planet to colonize. (Living on Mars would drive me crazy.) We need to focus on our own home. Oh yes, the earth can outlast us—it’s gone through a molten stage and evolved into the beauty we now enjoy, but we don’t want to go back to barren moltenness. (I make up words too.)

What about walking around, breathing clean air, drinking pure water, laughing with our neighbors no matter where they came from, what color their skin is, or how rich or poor they are?

We are primates—sorry, all the creationists that will be offended by this, it is no insult. I’m honored to be an animal. They have a loving side like us, but they can fight and kill–like us.

We are getting smarter now. We know some of these things, and we can dialogue with each other too. And why in the world, when we lighten the pandemic controls, crazies go out and shoot somebody? We’re not taking care of the crazies either—but then that’s another story.

It used to be the printed word was the way people attained knowledge. They found the news of the world in the printed word. And perhaps you stopped reading after the first paragraph—that’s common in books—but then maybe they are boring.

Now, most information is presented visually. (Maybe I need to get with the program—maybe I’m old-fashioned.) I know that we are frenzied, angry, upset, nervous, and taking tranquilizers—well, Jo, you have a glass of wine in the evenings. Yep, I do.

I also know that reading is a quiet venture. It gives us a moment to pause. You can rail back at the printed word, throw the book, disagree or cry over the wonder of it. However, it gives us time to do that. Have you ever laid your book on your chest and looked out the window and thought of not much, simple things. You look to the horizon and give your eyes a rest. You come back to the book to feel a warm glow encircle you.

When we try to keep up with a talking face, we are deprived of that moment. Another frenzy to add to our discontent.

I know I laid out a lot here, and I thought I had nothing to say.

Probably I have not said things you do not know already, but I have noticed that I need to be reminded. I’m taking a course where I know most of the information, but it can get me fired up.

Do I meditate when I know it is good for me? Not much. Do I stay positive when I know that is the best way to live? Ha.

I want the earth cared for, such as the seventh generation the Native American’s spoke -of. We thought they were ignorant savages. Ha.,

I want happiness for the people. I want them to see that we are little energy packets walking around affecting their surroundings and each other, and that snowballs to all of us. I’ve heard that we are all together in this, but many times people won’t even give you the time of day. Of course, I don’t meet those people.

Our attitudes, thoughts, actions have some effect on our electrical/magnetic field. We are in touch with the Great Force that surrounds us, sustains us, and is affected by our wishes. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

I heard an incredible story last week. An elderly man, who escaped Germany during WWII, works at one of the Retirement communities in town. He told the story of 300 Jewish people who escaped a concentration camp. They overpowered the guards, confiscated their weapons, and left. Not all the prisoners left. They were afraid. And they were all killed.

This is a true story that was hushed up by the ones who wanted to maintain control. My daughter verified it on the Internet.

Be courageous.

Here is my week in pictures. I am grateful to see all of them.

Featured

Little by Little We Clean Up Our Messes

Make do and make better.”—Cole Schafer

”In the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”–Kahil Gabran

Casey’s Cherries
Showing off my grandson’s CGI cherries.
Not the sort we had when I was a kid.

My parents had a cherry orchard in Oregon, it was not a big farm, only a few acres of cherries, along with a couple acres of peaches and apricots. Most summers, I was sent to pick. (Cherries are too small to fill up a box fast. Peaches have a fuzz that sticks on moist skin and collects in the creases of the elbows. Peaches must be handled carefully as they are delicate, but are big and so are fast to pick. We had Elberta peaches that my dad said were the best, and I agree with him, for I have never tasted a better peach. Now Elbertas are hard or impossible to find. Apricots are just right to pick, as my mom thinned the green ones so the ripe ones were as large as a small peach, and they have no fuzz.)

I was not a good picker—but did make a little spending money. Other kids picked too, neighbors I presume, but we liked throwing cherries at each other more than picking. One summer, we let someone else do the cherry picking.  My parents hired migratory workers.

And I played with the Cherry Picker’s kids. The family was as nice as they could be, and one day, I don’t remember how many kids they had, three sounds about right, we were playing in an old pickup truck that my folks inherited when they bought the property. The truck was away from the road, not one of those horrid wrecks we often see parked on farms, but hidden amongst some scrubby Oak trees. We kids climbed into the pickup, some in the bed, someone was in the passenger seat beside me. I was the oldest, and decided to see if the truck would start.

It did.

I was totally shocked. The trouble was, it had no breaks, and the truck rolled down the hill and into a tree. Nobody was hurt, it was a gentle roll, but the jolt of hitting a tree scared us and we beat feet out of there.

Probably that truck stayed pinned to that tree until it decomposed.

 “What if” my daughter asks, “it’s all the way it ought to be?”

Well, that’s a radical thought.

Most of the world’s people would not agree with that. “What if, you might ask, I break a leg, or get in an accident, and why in the world did we have a pandemic? Why did we lose our job? For heaven’s sake, people are living in tents under the freeway.”

I just completed The Four Winds, a novel by Kristin Hannah which featured the Dust bowl of the Texas panhandle. Dust states included Colorado, SW Kansas, the panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma, and NE New Mexico.) A newspaper in Oklahoma on April 14, 1935, a day dubbed as Black Sunday, stated that approximately three hundred thousand tons of Great Plains topsoil had flown into the air that day. More soil than had been dug up to build the Panama Canal. The dirt had fallen to the ground as far away as Washington DC—which was probably why it made the news.

People from the dust bowl lost their farms, the old folks and children died of dust pneumonia, their animals filled up with dirt, and starved. Formerly rich wheat farms died, farmers were starved out.  Many of those former flourishing farmers moved to California where they became riff-raft and presumed to bring disease. Many sold their soul to the Company Store. Dumb me, I’d heard of selling your soul to the Company Store, but didn’t know what it meant.

Owners of large industrial farms would sometimes build cabins for a “lucky” few workers and their families. (For every one that got in there were hundreds waiting in line.) The farm owners would provide water, toilets and laundry facilities…and a store. The store’s prices were higher than any stores in town, but with no money, and no gas, how were the workers to get to another store? So, they bought on credit. This would theoretically be paid back after harvest…but not in cash, only by working for the owner. The trouble was, the people still needed food, and they couldn’t catch up as harvesting is only seasonal. They were enslaved.

 Little by little we clean up the messes.

I don’t know where the migratory workers are now in their plight. I know they were looked down upon even in my day. “Cherry Pickers Kids,” they were called. These people who by the sweat of their brow provided fresh food for the rest of us.

 I know Cesar Chavez fought for worker’s rights, and formed the United Farm Workers Union.

Chavez modeled his methods on the nonviolent civil disobedience of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. — employing strikes, boycotts, marches and fasts — to draw attention to La Causa.

Even in the face of threats and actual violence — be it from police or other unions, such as the Teamsters — Chavez never wavered from his commitment to passive resistance.

At the end of his first food fast — which ended in 1968 after 25 days — Chavez was too weak to speak, but a speech was read on his behalf:

“When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belongs to us. So, it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us be men.”

I know we can go into the ills of the past, or the ills of the present, and it knocks us off-kilter. We wonder about the injustice of it.

Hate has popped up in our culture like I never knew was there, so I can’t say the world is as it ought to be, however, little by little we clean up the mess.

I have to praise the people who do champion the right to stay free, to govern ourselves, to speak their minds, and to try to do better.

I prefer not to be a protester, for I’m of the mind that the more we push against something, the more it pushes back, but taking to the streets, non-violently, does work, for it shows the world that people care and want to make a difference.

I wanted to champion the case of the little lady from the assistant living community, because she showed up on my trail, and I believe that she was, and still is, being mistreated.

You begin, you start doing what you have set out on your trail, and you fine tune as you go along, trying not to embarrass yourself as you do it.

I’m still alive, so I guess my mission on earth isn’t over. All along I have championed the idea of working on oneself. If everyone did that, the majority of the ills of the world would gradually soften their hold on our culture, and people would be happier.

Be kind to your fellow man—what a concept.

Do good to the earth.

Notice that however you were treated as a child–now much you were loved or not loved, isn’t who you are today. Accept yourself.

Think about how you can do tasks that will make you happy. Yep, as far as whistling while you work.

It’s okay for you to be happy in a suffering world. Suffering along with them doesn’t raise them up, as getting sick doesn’t help a sick person.

You are your own job.

How about finding that thing you said you wanted to be when you were a child?

Am I whistling Dixie?

“To damage the earth is to damage your children.”

—Wendell Berry, Farmer and Poet

Murder, She Wrote

There is a photograph of a tree hanging in an elder’s apartment. To the casual observer, it is just an ordinary tree.

For the photographer, it is extraordinary. 

Long ago, this woman, the photographer, was a child in Germany as the Second World War broke out. The British government organized a rescue effort to save Jewish children under 17, waving visa requirements and placing them in a safe country in foster homes, farms, and orphanages. (1938-1940) Often these children were the only members of their families to survive. This was the Kindertransport.

This elder, the photographer of the tree, was around 8 years old when she was taken away from her family and moved to England. Outside the orphanage grew a tree.

When she was grown, she revisited that orphanage where she grew up and wondered if the tree was still there.

It was, and that is the tree’s photograph hanging in her apartment.

My daughter feared that when they were clearing out her effects, that inconsequential little photograph would be swept aside. Maybe it would be thrown away. It was old and not very alluring. And so, she wrote a note explaining its origin and pasted it to the frame. 

I don’t know what will happen to the photo. It was special to the lady, as many of our memories are unique to us and no one else. 

On Mother’s Day, May 9, this lady passed away. 

I have been angry, disheartened, and livid over the treatment of this woman—a National Treasure who survived the holocaust only to be killed in a “Retirement Community” where someone decides one’s fate.

This is a lesson to us that if we don’t take control of our own lives, someone else will.

This lady was a people-pleaser and took “authorities’ advice,” no wonder given her rearing.  It had helped her survive until now. 

I don’t know whether I will post this or not. I have gotten feedback on how righteous and wonderful Hospice is. Given the proper conditions, it can be, but it can also be misused.

I am writing this for I carry a deep sadness. I was under confidentiality, and many times in my brain, I wrote a letter. I wanted to tell her Rabbi. I will launch a complaint, although it’s a little late now. 

I wondered how much was a part of the lady’s life passage. I wondered how much she had set this up for herself. Could it be that she was guilty of having escaped the gas chambers? I don’t know. Those thoughts rattle in my brain. 

How much was my responsibility?

I just know that this rational mathematician went from lucid, laughing at puzzles, liking to see repetitive patterns in carpeting and plants outside to an invalid within a week. She was a lady who enjoyed going to the roof and watching the sunset. During her school days, she was the star mathematician, and when she graduated at 16, they hired her to teach mathematics. In later life she had a theorem named after her.

I wonder if she was denied one of life’s spiritual moments. And that is to die under one’s own choices.

The caretaker who was with the woman 12 hours a day, four days a week for the past year pretty much knew her ups and downs.  The lady had some short-term memory loss, but in a moment of clarity she told her helper “I would rather have pain that be whacked out of my mind.”   However, she was whacked out of her mind.

Later on, she would forget she had any pain. Thus, the nurse’s assistant (not even a nurse) determined she could not decide for herself, and recommended Hospice. That way, they would have access to pain management. The patient, our photographer, had a Power of Attorney to decide for her. An in-house doctor, not her primary care physician, signed her to Hospice. The only family she had were nieces who lived in England. (They were from an older sister who was also on the Kindertransport, but who, in later life, killed herself.) The nieces loved their Aunt, but didn’t really understand what was going on.

The nurses said they had a meeting where they explained to the lady what was happening, but she did not understand. They asked her questions such as “Where do you plan to spend the rest of your life?” Well, she owned her condo. Why would they be asking such a personal question? She never consented or understood what was happening. 

“What happened to my bed,” she asked when they moved in a hospital bed. “My toilet is broken, and I can’t use it,” she said. No, a nurse taped a sign over it, “Broken,” so she would use the commode. Why? I ask. 

They limited her fluids because “It is better to die dry than wet.” Well, I consider not drinking to be torture.

She had a bladder infection that they would not treat because she was on Hospice, and they do no curative actions. So, they used morphine to numb the pain. She had a rash from sitting so long, and they treated it with powder, not an antibiotic that might have cured both the rash and the infection. 

Two cardinal rules were broken in this case. The first rule is that the patient be diagnosed with a terminal illness. The lady had MS, which is not a terminal. She had it for 30 years and had leg twitches and itches but was ambulatory.  The doctor said his wife died of MS. (With MS, Doctor, not of it.)

This lady stated emphatically that she was not dying and did not want to. 

The second rule is that the patient is given six-months to live. She was not.

Instead, she was given Morphine, Ativan, Methadone and Haldol (an antipsychotic drug used in hospitals to bring down a violent patient.)

Warning

“Concomitant use of benzodiazepines and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death.” 

She was not psychotic, but apparently, they give Ativan and Haldol as a matter of course with morphine. I don’t know what else she was given, whatever she was taking for her MS.

Throw all that in a system, and it could turn a person psychotic, or kill them.

When her charge was delusional, the caretaker said she was over medicated, and she had seen that before when she came home from the hospital after recovering from a fall, but that time she regained her brain.

A Power of Attorney held out for a while until the “Doctor” convinced her that Hospice was the best procedure.

And what happened to the caretaker? She was mentored that she was not handling her patient’s decline well.