Over the years I’ve blogged numerous times about my love of the National Parks here in the United States. And what’s not to love? Every American owns 84 million acres of land that gets maintained by the government for our enjoyment and education.
So when my husband sent me this link entitled “I Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review And I Hope They Will Make You Laugh (16 Pics)” I did have to laugh. It’s an artist who illustrated posters for each of the national parks with a hilarious twist. The posters are based on one star reviews that the parks have received.
Yes, there will always be people who can be put into the most gorgeous places on earth and still find something to complain about. I suggest you check out the link to really get a feel for these beautiful and comical posters, but here are some of the one star reviews that she used.
“There are bugs and they will bite you on your face.”
“Trees block the view and there are too many gray rocks.”
“No cell service and terrible wifi.”
“All I saw was a lake, mountains, and some trees.”
“Nothing specific to do.”
“Scenery is distant and impersonal.”
All I can say to the above is… wow. I’m so glad I am not these people! I can’t imagine being presented with such natural beauty and still managing to find fault with it. I can’t imagine being so full of negativity that I couldn’t see the closest things to paradise that we have on earth for the priceless thing that they are. You just can’t satisfy some people.
Recently I posted a meme on my Facebook page that said:
CDC: To prevent coronavirus, stay home, avoid physical contact and don’t go into large crowds.
Introverts: I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life.
It’s not the only meme I’ve posted on my page that is trying to make light of this pandemic, but as the schools and libraries and concert venues begin shutting down, and as the number of confirmed cases rise, I’m starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable about these memes. As the death toll increases and as our lives become more and more strange, it stops being funny. Sh*t is getting real.
A friend of mine in Canada told me that his government announced that they are anticipating as many as 70 percent of their population will get COVID-19, and of that number, 3 percent may die. My friend did the math, and that would mean 210,000 dead Canadians. That’s not funny at all. Not even a little bit.
It’s not unusual for people to use humor to diffuse an uncomfortable, stressful or scary situation, but at some point it becomes inappropriate. Where’s that tipping point with COVID-19? Some people will never reach it. They lack subtlety, or they don’t pick up on social cues, or they’re trolls who enjoy shock value. I suspect many of us will get there the exact moment when someone we know becomes infected.
Heaven knows I’m not the arbiter of good taste. I think every one of us will have to decide for ourselves. But we need to take into consideration that people are dying. And they’re leaving people behind who are grieving.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Meanwhile, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Stay calm and stay safe.
I’ll leave you with this quote, which a dear friend reminded me about:
“I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.”
According to their website, these prosthetic nuts for pets “allow your precious pet to retain his natural look, self-esteem, and aid the pet and pet’s owner with trauma associated with altering.”
As they say in the South, Jesus, take the wheel.
I mean… I’m struggling to find the words to adequately express how… (the enormously long pause while I gather myself has been deleted in the interest of space) nonplussed, stupefied and generally flipped out I am by this product.
Oh, where to begin. I can’t even…
Okay. First of all, do you honestly believe that your dog’s self-esteem is shattered when you get him neutered? Really? I mean, I’ve had a lot of dogs fixed in my lifetime, people, and not one of them has appeared to have sunk down into a bottomless pit of depression afterward. Granted, I don’t know what they’re thinking when they wake up, all alone and nutless, at three a.m. on a random Friday night, when all the other dogs are all nutfull and partying, but whatever it is, they seem perfectly willing to play fetch the next day. Life goes on.
Trauma for the pet? Well, yeah, I’m sure it doesn’t tickle, but they seem to recover quickly, and their health and life expectancy vastly improve, all while reducing the stray dog population. (Talk about trauma. Try being a homeless dog for five minutes.)
I’ve often said that I wish my veterinarian had done my hysterectomy. It would have only cost about 75 bucks, and I would have been up and running the next day, rather than flat on my back for 6 weeks. And I think my self-esteem would have been just fine.
And trauma for the owner? For heaven’s sake, get a freakin’ life. If that’s the most traumatic experience you’ve ever had, then you must be living in a plastic bubble. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you be subjected to the average Seattle commute or, heaven forfend, a Brazilian wax. You wouldn’t survive.
But hey, Kim Kardashian’s dog Rocky has neuticles, so we should all rush out and get some, in order to keep up. Visit the website to find a participating vet near you. (I truly hope my vet isn’t on this list.)
Oh, and while you’re there, you can also order PermaStay! Those are ear implants for dogs, “to correct broken, bent or floppy ears that should otherwise stand up straight.” Because the world can’t abide dogs who don’t have perky ears.
I am currently sporting a three inch gash on my right cheek. The worst part about it is that I have been so sick that I don’t have a clue where it came from. I just surfaced from my swirling pool of delirium at one point and there it was. And of course the minute I knew it was there it started to hurt.
I hope it doesn’t leave a scar. I guess it’s actually more like a scratch. A bright red, deep, angry scratch. Maybe it’s something my enthusiastic dog visited upon me, or else the result of a bad wrestling match with my CPAP mask. I have been known to sleep walk and wind up in strange places, and Nyquil does tend to keep its secrets. I only know it looks like I’ve been in a bar fight. As people stare at me, I’m tempted to say, “You should see the other guy.”
It’s embarrassing to go out in public looking like this, especially since I don’t have a funny story to go along with it. It’s a good thing that I’m feeling so weak and unmotivated that I’m naturally lying low anyway. But in retrospect I needn’t have worried, because I forgot that I am now living in the Pacific Northwest.
You see, in Florida, if I had gone out like this, strangers would be stopping me on the street. “Child, what happened to you?” If I had been walking with my husband they might even say, “Did HE do this to you?” All while giving him the hairy eyeball. In the South, people are all up in your business.
But here in the Pacific Northwest you could walk down a busy street with a sucking chest wound and no one would even bat an eyelash. Here, no one wants to intrude. Its as if everyone walks around wearing a cloak of invisibility. You could have a second head growing out of your chest and the most intrusive interaction you’d have with somebody would be their inquiry as to what floor you are going to when you get on the elevator and can’t reach the buttons because your second head is in the way.
This has its pros and its cons. Sometimes I genuinely don’t want to be bothered with people, and here people make that very easy. You do you, I’ll do me. But I do miss that sense of community, and that honesty. Because come on, if you see a gash on a woman’s face, you really do want to know what the hell happened. At least I do. I’d rather someone asked than that they make up a story. I’d rather think that someone gives a shit rather than feel like I’m all alone in the world. I like my privacy, but I’d also like to think that there’s help out there if I should ever need it. Yes, there’s a happy medium in there somewhere. I just always seem to live out in the lunatic fringe, where all the extremes of behavior come home to roost.
In the meantime, until this wound heals, I’m kind of liking the Pacific Northwest realm of things. Here, my gash doesn’t exist. No one but small children will even look at it directly. No one will ever inquire about its origins. Therefore no one will never know that in this instance, their guess is as good as mine.
Every year in December, sooner or later, I happen to glance at a calendar and notice that it designates December 26th as Boxing Day, usually with “U.K., Canada” in parenthesis after it. But what the heck is Boxing Day, anyway? I’ve always wondered, but have been too lazy to find out up to now.
I’m ashamed to admit that until extremely recently, I assumed it had something to do with the sport of boxing, and I always found that a bit jarring for the day after you’re supposed to be celebrate Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men. But I’d just sniff and say, “Well, those crazy Brits, you know…”
It turns out that I got it all wrong.
According to Wikipedia, there are several theories about how this holiday came about, but the most popular one seems to be that it was a time for the upper classes to bestow a box of money or gifts on their servants. The poor servants, of course, had to stick around and serve their masters on Christmas Day, so they were allowed to go home and see their families the day after. The rich people, probably to assuage their mild guilt for having treated these servants abominably all year long, would give them a gift to share with their families, pat them on the head and send them on their merry way, with the expectation that they’d be back to scrubbing by the day after.
I can see why this holiday never caught on in the U.S. While we have pretty much identical and outrageous income inequality, we would never admit this publicly. We certainly wouldn’t celebrate it. All Men here are supposed to be created equal, after all. The fact that we cling to this myth is why we don’t get a handout every December 26th. Yay us.
But Boxing Day has evolved over time. As fewer families had servants, Boxing Day turned into a day where you would relax and spend time with family. I’m told by a Canadian friend that it was also known as a day when you passed on gifts you don’t need to people whom you think could use them. You might slip a discreet envelope of cash to the postman. It also became a time to watch and participate in sports, and a time to raise money for charities.
For a while, it was also a big day for fox hunting in Britain. For the uninitiated, this was dressing up in finery, tearing up the countryside on horseback with your buddies, as a pack of your dogs chased down and wore out a poor unsuspecting fox for its ultimate demise, for no good reason other than that it was tradition. I mean, it’s not like people crave fox meat after all. But fortunately, that sport has been banned. Now people still do the riding bit, but without the killing bit, which must look just as appalling even without the blood.
For an equally gory take on Boxing Day, check out this article, which describes what they used to do in Ireland. There, it was known as St. Stephen’s Day. Good old Steve was apparently stoned to death for believing in Jesus. So what did the Irish decide to do to commemorate this man? A group of boys would go out, stone wrens to death, and then carry their little bodies from house to house asking for money. I’m glad that tradition has fallen out of favor. But much like with fox hunting, these Wren Boys still do the parading about town bit without the crushing in the birdie’s little skulls bit. Go figure.
I wish Boxing Day had ended there. But no. In recent years it has turned into a time to take advantage of sales, with the same kind of horrifying frenzy of consumerism that we Americans indulge in on Black Friday.
This transformation mirrors that of society at large. First, your betters throw you a bone. Then you passively celebrate, perhaps with a macabre twist. Then you trample your neighbors to buy things that you can’t afford and don’t really need. Because Capitalism is just wonderful. ‘Tis the season.
So, I’m in a foul mood. I’ve been ensnarled in an idiotic bureaucratic bit of insanity, and the only one who will suffer is yours truly. To say that I’m irritated is putting it mildly.
I’d get it if it made sense. I’d roll with it if the hoops I’m being forced to jump through were mandatory. But no. I’m being put through my paces simply to avoid inconveniencing everyone except me.
And the worst part about it? My brain is sputtering. I can’t think of a single thing to blog about.
I’d really rather not turn into one of those bloggers who does nothing but rage against the machine. Okay, yeah. I do that every now and then. But I don’t want to only be known as the voice for the malcontents. I don’t want to simply rant so that no one else has to.
I want to be both light and dark, happy and sad. I want to be nuanced. I want to be layered, like an onion, only without bringing tears to the eyes of everyone who comes in contact with me.
So I’ll simply say that today I’m annoyed, and here’s a picture of a kitten. See? I can be nuanced, gosh darn it.
Traditions can be quite comforting, especially during the holiday season. They remind us of celebrations past, and of loved ones far and near. They bring us together, and connect us with the generations that came before us, who made our lives possible.
While I find it soothing to be able to run on automatic pilot, know exactly what’s expected of me, and rest merrily on the back of decades, sometimes centuries, of tradition, I’m also someone who loves to be different. I like to think outside the box. I like to zig when everyone else is zagging.
These two conflicting desires came into play for me recently, and resulted in a very unique and delightful experience.
I am someone who likes to have a live Christmas tree. I’ve had one pretty much every December of my life, and I can’t imagine switching to an artificial one at this late date. Part of the tradition, of course, includes obtaining the tree. On this, the second Christmas of my marriage, we’ve incorporated a new tradition that we started last year. We went to Pfaff’s Old Time Christmas Tree Farm to cut our own tree.
Pfaff’s is an amazing place, and not just because I like saying Pfaff. It’s a 30 acre tree farm in the middle of the otherwise densely populated coastal region of the Pacific Northwest. It’s fun just to walk among the wide variety of fir trees, searching for the perfect one, and breathing in the smell of pine sap.
We had pretty much braced ourselves for a long search, but in fact we came upon our tree almost instantly. This tree was like no other tree on the lot. That reason alone made us know it would be ours.
First of all, it was a blue spruce, and Pfaff’s has only 5 or 6 of those to begin with. We were told that that was because blue spruce spread disease among other trees. I have no idea. But I have a weakness for blue spruce. And this was like no Christmas tree you’ve ever seen. It wasn’t conical. In fact, it was a flat disc. Imagine a pancake. A pancake that is 7 feet in diameter. That’s our tree.
Apparently someone had taken the top of this tree off a few years ago, and probably had a nice, normal shaped tree as a result. Over time, what was left of the tree healed itself and prospered, to become what we were seeing on this day. Our weird, pancake tree.
It took us a minute or two to convince each other that yes, we really both wanted this quirky tree. The fact that we were of the same mind about this is one of the many reasons I married this guy. He started sawing away while I stood by, giggling quietly. (Note to self: bring the chainsaw next year.)
In no time, we had it upside down in the bed of our truck. I was convinced that Pfaff would pay us to get this strange tree off their property, but it was pointed out that its limbs would have provided many a valuable holiday wreath, so yeah, we paid up. (They did ask us to send them a picture once it was decorated, though!)
I wonder what other cars thought when they saw the long, naked tree stump sticking up from the back of the truck as we made our way home.
We had to rearrange a lot of furniture before we brought the tree into the house. This tree may not be tall, but it’s still the biggest tree I’ve ever owned. It was no mean feat just getting it in the door.
Decorating it was fun. We needed a grabber pole thingy to reach the back corner, and most of the ornaments were placed on top, kind of like Miss Muffet on her tuffet, rather than hanging beneath the branches. We both decided that a star on top would not be appropriate, as the whole tree was basically a top. But we stuck a few plastic yard flamingoes on there because we could.
We’ve yet to have any visitors over to weigh in on the results, but I’m very proud of our tree. The dogs are surprisingly indifferent about the whole thing. I suppose they’ve already accepted the fact that we are strange. To that I say that there’s nothing wrong with letting your freak flag fly.