La La Lunelight

(See what I did there?)  The Oscars aren’t the only folks in La La Land–it’s painfully beyond awkward to spend more than five minutes watching news of our clueless demented “leader”.  Also it’s hard to watch from the position of kissing your ass goodbye.  It takes some real contortionist skills.

There you have your current events segment.  Now back to your regularly scheduled trivia.

From our food section today, we bring you a hearty split pea vegetable soup (from scratch), and an Indian-spiced casserole, by YT.  I’m becoming an expert on stretching basic cheap staples into a balanced diet.


For plant geeks, courtesy of our local wildflower group, here are slightly more obscure lifeforms found around Ohio recently–a liverwort, and a club moss/ground cedar.  As much as I love wildflowers, I find these more primitive botanical species most fascinating.

And from our fauna desk, courtesy of a local wildlife rescue org, we have a spotted turtle, a threatened species which has declined due to their natural wetland habitats being destroyed here in Ohio, and a rescued baby fox squirrel.  Fox squirrels start being born this month.

Last but not least, in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s something I haven’t had in my bar in a while.  I used to routinely stock all the basics, but that’s one more luxury I no longer take for granted.  So now it’s a special treat.  As is this different take on bourbon (which the Irish replaced).  Who says bourbon can’t be a food group?




Food, Drugs, Etc.

E outdid herself again with her famous savory Italian pie.  If I reveal the ingredients, I’ll have to kill you.  If you look closely, you’ll make out the L.  L really made out!


So that’s the food section of today’s blahgpost.  Not much to report on the seedling front since yesterday.  So here are some more flowers coming up too early, courtesy of our local wildflowers group–a pre-1620s heirloom daffodil, and a wild snow trillium.

As for animals, here are a frog (wood?) and spotted salamander sighted by our local herping group.  Apparently amphibians and reptiles have been out in droves, earlier than usual.  There are an amazing number of amphibian species around here.

Another local nature and wildlife photography group took these recent shots of a Cooper’s Hawk and a Great Horned Owl (possibly sitting on eggs).  You see many types of raptors in this area, overseeing vast feed croplands.

I feel pretty speechless these days (in between outraged rants), so I guess the point of these harmless little trifles is to demonstrate life going on in some form (human or otherwise), despite all the horrifying affronts and assaults on our lives.  Some days you just have to keep going, shut out the crap, and hold onto the simple good stuff that’s still around.

For example, as of today I can no longer afford the few generic drugs I’m supposed to be on, because I’m Officially Old (according to Medicare).  The irony.  I had already halved my dosages to make them last longer (and hopefully halve the bad side effects) so I have quite a stockpile!  I hate questionable chemicals anyway, so it’s probably for the best.  I never want to become like my parents, eating more pills than food.  I’ll probably last longer without meds.  This helpful graph sums it up.

“Always look on the bright side…”  (Yes, you.)




Triumph of the Mundane

You can see what I’m doing here.  I’m trying to grasp at normal, mundane homey things, to keep the ugly big picture on my daily screen at bay.  It’s a form of retreat, insulation from the scary clown circus clamoring just outside.  I’m not alone in this pursuit, I’m sure.  I think we’re all trying to reassure ourselves and each other that some sense of sanity and normalcy can still exist.

This can be both a good and bad thing.  I think that in the 20th century, the same phenomenon occurred when people tried to insulate themselves in denial from the horror taking place all around them, enabling it to build momentum.  They retreated into their false security, hoping it would just fizzle out of its own accord.  We see how that worked out.

On the other hand, there is just so much bad news overload you can take, before you can’t function effectively any more.  Paranoia and fear paralyze you.  You lose all confidence and trust in anything.  It’s the end of the world as we know it. People revert back to cowering in proverbial caves, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Two steps forward and ten steps back.

I’m just one small person, on the way out, but not done yet.  Maybe I can’t be a courageous social justice reformer, but I can still raise a finger at these cowards making a mockery of democratic values. I can refuse to dignify their insanity, simply by choosing life, not defeat.  I may not be able to save thousands of people, but maybe someone out there will be encouraged by my persistence to not give up.  The setbacks to our progress are very real, but humans are stubborn and resilient.

In the spirit of the mundane, then, here are some (almost normal) recent wildlife sightings, courtesy of  local herping and wildflower groups…










I wonder what it must be like to be an endangered animal, watching perplexed and baffled as humans destroy their families, habitats, and the earth itself in the name of “the good old days” and big oil.  We ourselves can barely make any sense of it, so imagine a poor animal, just trying to survive and raise families.

If I were an animal, I’d be asking myself how these overrated savages got to be highest on the evolutionary pecking order.  Human children are born utterly helpless and clueless, and take years, even decades, to be trained to survive on their own.  Imagine being a refugee, hiding out from terrorists, trying to keep your children quiet.  Even animal babies know better.  Human kids often grow up to be just as infantile and dysfunctional, and sometimes dangerous, as we’ve seen all too painfully.

I watched a movie (Virunga) about endangered mountain gorillas in a Congo wildlife refuge, cowering in fear while soldiers bombed the park and murdered people and animals alike, in the name of exploiting natural resources for foreign profit.  You could see the bewilderment and terror in the gorillas’ faces as their security was being destroyed.  Humans, of all beings, should know better, but of course they’re the worst perpetrators of atrocities, and their only main predator is themselves and their stupidity.  The only question is why it’s taking us so long to destroy ourselves in time to leave the earth alone to recover.

Much of classic scifi deals with colonizing, terraforming, and mining other planets and moons, after we’ve mostly destroyed our own.  An animal would ask, why would you do something so irrational and self-destructive?  We had a perfectly good earth to use, not abuse, but as with everything human, it’s disposable, short-term thinking.  Add the illogic of religious delusion, and you have the privileged chosen few going to a far better place, screw the earth and our children.  In other words, the conservative right.

I leave you with these images that speak for themselves.

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Andre, 39, a self described “gorilla mother” looks after 4 orphaned gorillas who were rescued from various horrific circumstances and brought into care by the staff of Virunga National Park, DRC, 2 March 2012. Andre thinks of these gorillas as his own children and even describes bringing his children to see them as showing them their brothers and sisters. Andre lives with the Gorillas 24/7 with the exception of a few days off to visit his own family. Andre is an ICCN Congolese Conservation ranger and has cared for orphaned and rescued gorillas since 2003. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

Gorilla gorilla beringei
Mountain gorilla
Family at play
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo



Warm Spring Hike in February

It was 75° at the Narrows Reserve.  Seventy-five degrees in February!  There were frogs, snakes, and lots of greenery.  We were sweating in our t-shirts.  People can deny reality all they want, but these are not normal climate trends for Ohio, or anywhere.  Still, it was nice to get out of our stuffy waiting room and see plants and animals bursting back to life, as in the following scenes.


We Need an Esther. Any Volunteers?

It’s a little early for Purim, but the parallels to current events just seemed too good to wait.

“The Purim Story in a Nutshell

The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.

Meanwhile, the antisemitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made (hence the name Purim, “lots”).

Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

On the 13th of Adar the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they rested and celebrated.”



Purim this year starts on the evening of March 11, and celebrates a victory against anti-semitism in ancient Persia that is uncannily relevant and timely today.  In fact, if you substitute certain current politicians for the main characters, it sounds very familiar.  Like so:

The Jews=the Jews, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, and any endangered minorities

King Ahasuerus=King trump

Queen Vashti=whichever latest bimbo to fall out of favor (or alternately, Hillary)


Haman=insert a racist top advisor, take your pick (Bannon, Pence, etc.).  I considered trump, but he was already taken.

Mordechai=Bernie?  (Hey, he’s even Jewish!  Maybe he has a young female cousin?)

All we need is an Esther to infiltrate the inner sanctum and work from the inside to facilitate justice.  I can’t imagine any decent woman having the stomach for that job, but in extreme times you do what you gotta do.

Purim is a festive pageant holiday, where everyone dresses as one of the main characters and reenacts the story, read from the ancient Megillah.  Whenever you hear the name “Haman”, everyone drowns out his name with noisemakers.  I can imagine some creative alternate costumes… an orange clown with a ridiculous wig.  Maybe some Klan outfits.  Lots of torches and pitchforks.  Does “beauty pageant” and misogyny ring a bell?  Casino gambling, anyone?

I’d keep the obligatory hamantaschen (sweet pastries), though.  To eat while the Empire burns.



A typical day in the life…

E is making homemade egg noodles for a special dinner for our friend Rex who’s coming over later.  Here they are drying.  Mama mia.

Here are my seedling babies going wild.  I see salad in our future.  Coming soon… more dill and chives on the windowsill.

Here is Breakfast of Champions by lava light.  Because.

Thanks to a birthday gift card from The Bobs, I finally own these scifi classics and additional Sherman Alexie books.  This should keep us off the streets.

And last but not least, here are your daily required minimum cute endangered animals (and writing quota).

A final note: I know it sounds like a lazy, idyllic life.  Not all is what it seems.  It can be challenging here in our “waiting room”.  We are learning to be resourceful with what we’ve got, and make the most of things under the restricted circumstances.  It’s been like a lab experiment, or boot camp.  A lot of processing happens behind the scenes.  But life must go on, and what better opportunity to learn new life skills while we’re stuck here for the time being.

Scaling Mountains

Mark Manson (one of my favorite writers) calls it the “do something principle”. Instead of waiting until you’re inspired and motivated to act on a goal, which probably won’t happen, just try doing some small thing–anything really–and see if doesn’t help you feel more confident about taking another step toward that goal.

Put another way, say you have writer’s block, which is a pretty common place to be for most writers.  Just make yourself write any random x number of words per day.  Don’t wait for inspiration.  Once you write those x words, you may find yourself writing more, like priming a pump.  In other words, AIM: action–>inspiration–>motivation–> action–>etc.  It’s counterintuitive, even backwards, but it seems to work.

You feel defeated, like a failure, so you procrastinate even more.  Or you fear something, because of past failures or defeats.  It’s a vicious cycle that feeds off itself, and crushes motivation.  The mountain of things you put off looks insurmountable.  The only way to tackle a mountain is to take a small first step.  Stop and breathe.  That wasn’t so painful, take another.  Breathe, repeat.  Don’t look down, and don’t look at the summit, just focus on the next step.

Each successful tiny step builds your confidence to take another.  Confidence in yourself gives you more incentive to try some more.  The action, however small, precedes the inspiration which leads to motivation to take more action, and so on.  Eventually you find yourself closer to the top of the mountain, or at least not as intimidated by the scale of the job.

I’ll never be a great writer, but I’ve made a commitment to myself to try to write something each day, just for the practice.  I love to write, and it’s therapeutic, but it intimidates me to read other much more articulate authors, knowing I’ll never achieve those heights.  Still, each day I look forward to seeing what simpleminded stuff I can come up with today.

It all starts with typing a word, or taking that step, and then another.  It challenges me to dig deeper into the dark recesses of my puny brain to come up with new, or at least recyclable, ideas.  If any of it helps, amuses, or at least distracts one of my 2.5 readers, then that’s a bonus.






It’s amazing what humans can learn to live without, if they have to.  Every time I think I’ve reached the limit, I get poorer, and have to hit reset!  I remind myself, I’m still way more fortunate than most humans in the developing world.  It doesn’t always help.  Of course I’m referring to material goods here, not emotional losses.  That takes a whole other level of resilience.

I used to feel compelled to stock up on nonessentials as if for the apocalypse.  I’ve had to incrementally scale back down to necessities, and take stock of myself.  In case of armageddon, I’m probably screwed anyway; I’d just be delaying the inevitable.  Similarly, I’ve become more frugal and resourceful at using and repurposing what I already have on hand.  I’ve almost got it down to an art form.  In some cases I do it better than people born poor!

But it makes me wonder how millions in this country manage.  We ourselves are not down to having to choose between health, food, utilities, or a roof over our heads–yet.  The healthcare part is worrisome, but we’re alright faking it for now.  Food takes some creative compromise, but we manage a basic, no frills, balanced diet.  We go without some services others take for granted, and cut back on utilities wherever possible.  And our low-income rent has somehow escaped rising.  Our roof doesn’t leak, anyway.  We endure our obnoxious hillbilly neighbors by avoiding them and expecting to be moved before they burn the building down or whatever.  I guess we have it pretty good, all things considered.

As for the other kind of resilience, that’s another story.  I’ll just say, for those recovering from deep losses and adapting to changing circumstances, that takes a special kind of fiber that money can’t buy, while lack of resources may only exacerbate the sense of desperation and despair.  Children who endured abuse, deprivation, and trauma may grow up to be functional adults on the surface, but the hurt and loss is always there, haunting, pervading, and informing their lives.

The kind of resilience required to survive and adapt to harsh realities often involves forcing yourself to take that one more step, for one more day, with no guarantees.  It takes a leap without the faith.  You can’t blame some people for just giving up.  I think it’s the exceptional, extraordinary human who stubbornly hangs on and gives the finger to overwhelming odds.  I would have to admire a person like that.  I wonder if I can be such a person.

But I’m learning small lessons in adapting (and readapting) to reality, a step at a time.  I won’t lie, I’ve had some challenging, even panicked moments, being confronted with the culture shock of the way millions are forced to live and cope in most of America, and not by choice.  The future of our country looks bleak right now, but all we can do is stay focused on the immediate steps before us, and filter out as much of the discouraging noise as possible.  It’s a modest hope of rebuilding something out of ruins.  Or, at the risk of sounding clichéd, “if you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.”