Tricky questions for tricky times

See if you can answer any of these statements or questions about the mess without a scintilla of doubt in your mind.
Warning: Contains explicit language, which is, in one sense, rare in Washington.

The Russians tampered with the 2016 election by…

  • Hacking the Clinton campaign
  • Hacking the Trump campaign
  • Hacking the voting process
  • Hacking a hairball

James Comey was fired because he was…

  • Insubordinate
  • Incompetent
  • Inappropriate
  • Insufferable

Michael Flynn was fired because he…

  • Was a bad dude
  • Was a bad a— dude
  • Was a BAMF dude
  • Doesn’t want to talk about it

Who knows the truth?

  • Senate Democrats
  • House Republicans
  • Liberal snowflakes
  • Alt-right wing nuts
  • Vladimir Putin

Stop it!

When I was a little girl I used to catch my grandmother just sitting, staring into space. I always wondered what was wrong with her. There was so much to do. Dig in the dirt outside, explore the fields and ditches nearby, wrangle with hissy kittens, chase calves penned up in the barn, ride my bike down the road. Or just plain run full out because being alive was exciting and couldn’t be lived at a walk, much less seated.

But no, she just sat in a hardwood chair and looked off into the distance. She was bored, I thought, and boring.

Now as I am nearing the age she was back then, I realized she wasn’t bored. She was just done with the shindig. I find myself nearly done with it too. I’m tired of dealing with busy-ness of our electronic lives. I heard recently that quantum computing is almost ready for general use. I just sighed, dreading the idea that I might have to learn about that too. (Even as I wrote this, I got word that this web service had an important upgrade, and we needed to update our sites. What? I didn’t even know that I had to update, upgrade or upend my blogging world.)

Like my grandmother, I’m ready to be a surrender senior.

Back when I was little, her time was already fading into the distance. The Industrial Age was about to give way to the Information Age. But in her time, life moved as as fast as she wanted it go. Food was available if she grew it and prepared it. (There was no one better at baking bread than my grandma.) She washed clothes in her new-fangled (but primitive to us) electric tub washer.  Bills were paid in full at the time services were rendered. Time payments or billing cycles were suspicious plans of those had wreaked havoc a few decades earlier.

One other thing: She battled a bilingual barrier of experiencing and living life in German (Plattdeutsch, actually) while the world around her moved in English and at a level far beyond what her third-grade education had prepared her for.

She lived through a depression, a drought, a world war, raising eight children on an 80-acre farm through all that. She knew about life, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to know about Disneyland, the nuclear age and the nearly created space program. No wonder that at some point she just sat down and looked out the window rather than the television, which probably annoyed her.

You see what I mean.

I always thought that I would never let myself become like her. Outdated and overwhelmed. But here I sit, as artificial intelligence and robots prepare to take over our lives, unwilling to go along with it. I’m tired of OS upgrades, smartphones and gadgets that listen to you, manage you, keep tabs on you. I secretly loathe the VR goggles that let you experience images in 3D. As if that somehow compares to standing at a lookout in Bryce Canyon. And I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to ask Siri or Alexa what the meaning of life is.

I find myself wanting the quiet of an analog world. But there’s no where to go to hear it. Sooner or later the steady high-pitched scree of electronics rises to the surface. Inevitably, as you become immersed in the nurturing calm of a real moment, someone’s idiot-phone plays the laugh track they set to notify them of a call from a friend. Everyone around them laughs. No one is fined or kicked off the bus.

However, I have to admit too am addicted enough to it all to wonder if I should to check my smart phone for messages and updates on my social media sites. Still, it’s becoming aggravating that my smartphone does not know when to bother me and when to leave me alone. Paradoxically, it’s beginning to make sense to put my bills on auto-pay and have a robot tend to all the annoying things about life in the Information Age, so I can sit in a chair and stare into space, like Grandma.

“There’s a new sheriff in town…”

“…y’all best get used to it.”

Didn’t you love that line from Sawyer in “LOST”? The moment when everyone finally got word that the conman had conned everyone once again (Season 2, “The Long Con”) and had the guns to himself. Sawyer was the best, a character after my new cat’s heart, and that line is fitting for the reboot of my blog.

However, Chomps is not exactly new. At age 5, he’s still on the young side but he’s been with me for over a year now as a permanent member of the posse. He made a brief appearance as Guest Cat back in 2012, but he didn’t arrive until almost a half year after his LCG had passed. (Noted here in the entry, Final Job Review). The Sheriff just doesn’t make it out much to the cyber-range, so for all practical purposes, he’s new.

Who better to help me reboot my blog than someone with spotty record in enforcement. As I wrote a week or so ago, I don’t know what this reboot is going to be. I’m pretty sure it will concentrate on my progress in my writing projects (or lack there of), dispatches from command and control, and anything else that interests me. Be warned: TV shows are not off my list; although politics and religion will be for the most part.

So I can think of no one better qualified to help me flop around looking for a purpose than The Sheriff. His dossier:

  • Full name: Sir Chomps-a-Lot, shortened to Chomps
  • Alias: The Sheriff.
  • Vitals: Age, 5; height, 12″ at shoulders; girth, 19″ at chest, aspect ratio: 3×8, approximate; weight, 7.9 kg.
  • Gender: Male, responsibly nonreproductive

He’s still a growing boy. But he’d better stop soon though because he packs a wallop if he’s of a mind to test his theories about gravity in his physics studies. I include for your review, his current submission for this year’s schoolbook. We are hoping for a passing grade in at least one subject, although probably not in fitness and nutrition.

Yearbook 2015

What else is there to say? Stay in school, kids.



Final job review


In our first days together, you ran ahead of me each morning, glancing behind to see whether I went left or right on the way to the kitchen. At times you were so excited you would jump for the sheer joy of it. I was going to get you breakfast and that was the best thing ever.

However, you grew up and you realized I would get you breakfast regardless. Still, it was always fun to jump on the bed at 6 a.m. and swat my eyelid repeatedly. Get up, get up. It’s time to eat. Get up, get up, GET. UP.

Over time you changed your style from eager go-getter to the sauntering diva who decided how fast we walked to the kitchen. Once breakfast was served, you ate a few pieces of kibble, sniffed at it and walked away because there were more important things to do. What they were were none of my business, unless I was supposed to play with you. I respected your independence and used your feigned indifference as a chance to make my own breakfast.

Toward the end you still woke me up but you followed me to the kitchen, keeping close to my feet. More than once I backed into you and half-stepped on one of your paws. You cried out piteously but always forgave me as I apologized profusely and promised to be more careful.

As a kitten, you were curious about everything I ate, but each time I gave you a sample you recoiled, repulsed. How could I eat something so disgusting. Just before the end, you wanted everything I ate. But once you swallowed a bite, the underlying nausea that began putting you off your food kicked in. At the end, even the cheap, supermarket cat food didn’t interest you. You took a few licks of the morsels I had warmed and mixed with water and sometimes a small dose of Miralax, then slowly, laborously staggered back to the my bedroom closet, where you took cover from the assaults of age, arthritis and kidney failure. Finally in the last few days, you stopped eating altogether.

You still came out to nestle beside me as I watched TV or when I finally settled into bed, but long gone were the days when you stood sentinal on top of me, purring so loudly I was sure the neighbor next door could hear you. On those nights, you patted and stroked my face until finally, when I began to drift off to sleep, you left my side for your late-night occupations, having achieved your goal. At the end, when the comfort of my shoulder wasn’t enough to soothe your miseries, you retreated back to the closet after only a few moments with me. You have my respect and appreciation for trying.

Looking back it doesn’t seem like it was over seventeen years ago when I gathered you from your perch on top of your mother on a hot August midafternoon and placed you in my  pet carrier and brought you home. In those first days, as at the last, you hid in my closet. 

Life assumes patterns, but the reasons for them differ. It takes only one letter to change wariness to weariness, but it takes a lifetime to get there. Your preoccupations shifted from the naughty diva who could clear a desk with one swat of feline disapproval to a grande dame protesting the rivulets of chronic illness to a frail empress surrendering to the final torrent that swept you away for good. Now the only place I find you is in my memories and my heart. Sometimes I think I hear you rustling about in my things in the living room or hopping onto the stool by my bed to see if I’m awake or oblivious or inspecting my loads of laundry. But I know these are the afterimages of a lifelong photo shoot. I had thought the best images had gotten away, but here they are. I am reminded of a line from a Bob Dylan song: “I know every scene by heart. They all went by so fast.” 

You have schooled me well about cats, what they are and what they do. But your most important lesson was about something else, and you persistently delivered it with imperious candor: I must let you do your job. What exactly was your job? Well, that was for you to know and me to find out. 

It took some time to figure it out, but I did get it. I can say without hesitation that you exceeded all expectations. 

It has been a privilege to serve you, your majesty.