Back at Indian Mound

We hiked through Indian Mound, along the river, and into the deep green moss-covered rock “fort” as I call it.  There were lots of water fowl, including a Mallard couple cruising a rain-pond in the woods, and evidence of freshwater shellfish.  The early wildflowers were abundant, growing right out of the big mossy boulders.  There were bloodroot, hepatica, spring beauty, trillium, harbinger-of-spring, and dutchman’s breeches, to name but a few.  Masses of ramps covered the ground.  The restored cabin appeared to be finished.

The river and “fort”:


Ferns and fungus:

Ramps and the “duckpond” (couldn’t quite capture the ducks):


These are either the wildflower marsh marigolds, or the invasive lesser celandine, not sure:

The cabin:



Try Walking in Their Shoes

…”You’ll stumble in my footsteps
Keep the same appointments I kept
If you try walking in my shoes…”

(Depeche Mode)

Last night we celebrated Rex’s birthday with friends over at his house.  I baked him a cake, and the five of us talked all evening.  I got my kitty-fix.  Some human “catnip” and scotch may have been involved. 😉

One thing I’ve noticed, hanging out with a cross-section of this particular community here, including T individuals, is that even among themselves they still only have a vague concept of what the “T” is.  Whether unconsciously or intentionally, they can be just as prejudiced, uninformed, and factional as the general population.  Stereotypes and assumptions abound, even among those who should know better.  Thus, they are a part of the problem, and give Ts a bad name, making it harder for those actually transitioning to live a normal life.

Living with someone, though enlightening, is never the same as being them.  You can witness the injustices and humiliations they endure daily, but you still can’t conceive of what it’s like to be in their shoes, with all the ignorance and indignities they’ve suffered.

You can never generalize about a population, but you can pick up on common threads, like the fact that many Ts have experienced, at the very least, misunderstanding and insensitivity growing up, if not out-and-out abuse and abandonment.  This means that many of them have not been afforded the fundamental decencies and opportunities that others take for granted.  They’ve started life at a disadvantage, and often don’t receive the benefit of basic nutrition, nurture, education, or job equality.  It’s hard to find informed doctors who understand and respect their unique medical needs, and so-called professionals persist in misgendering and demeaning them.

I guess my point is, try walking in someone’s shoes before you presume to know what’s good or bad for them.  The point being, you really can’t.  All you can do is raise your awareness, reserve judgement, and be supportive.  It’s challenging, believe me, leaving all your presumptions and biases behind.  We live in a culture of first impressions and false conclusions, before we’ve given people the benefit of the doubt or a chance to speak for themselves.  I’m still learning to do this myself, and I’m like 200 years old.

Anyway, here are my kitty friends, demonstrating how to keep it simple and mind one’s own business.




Gorge P.2

Here are scenes of Clifton Gorge, the raging rapids, some cool fungi, and the falls.  We saw many Canada geese, and a couple of huge blue herons flying over the water!  In one photo you can see a large cascading mass of escaped forsythia hanging from a cliff. Wildflowers were growing in masses everywhere.

After our hike, we stopped in to eat at the historic Clifton Mill, a vintage water-powered gristmill built in 1802 to take advantage of the gorge’s natural water power.  We could see the covered bridge from our window.  (The alstroemeria on the tables was real.)


Wildflower Explosion at the Gorge P.1

We finally got out and back to Clifton Gorge, with it’s raging river far below the towering cliffs and cedars, and waterfall at full capacity.  There were early spring wildflowers everywhere!  In Part 2, you’ll see some river gorge and forest scapes, and Clifton Mill.

The Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal public work relief program from 1933-42, left its mark here.

Grape hyacinth and daffodils, escapees from another time…

A small brown snake who crossed our path…

Hepatica and Spring Beauty in all shades…

Virginia Bluebells and Dutchman’s Breeches…

Bloodroot and Snow Trillium…

Purple Cress (?), Cut-leaved Toothwort, something related to Harbinger-of-Spring ?, Ramps, and some other stuff…

Please see Part 2…





Brick Walls

Sorry about my frequent rants.  It’s not that I’m complaining about my fortunate situation, which could have gone so much worse in the end.  It’s just my one outlet for expressing frustration with ignorance, and eagerness to move forward.  I can’t even take it out on the garden this year!

I look out past the mourning doves coupling, and see spring happening without me.  Besides the tenants making it a gauntlet, this is the season we’re leaving the garden to its own devices, while we prepare to go find our own.  Which is a good thing, but also vexing for someone who lives to get outdoors and mess around with plants and animals.  I feel like I’m caged at a zoo.

As for the deranged world at large, I know we take that with us and can’t escape it.  Maybe for now, the best we can do is create an illusion of being screened and hedged from it, and perhaps finding others who feel the same.  I’ve lived long enough to realize there’s nowhere perfect in the world, as long as we humans are there.  All we can do is eliminate as many negative factors as we can control in our immediate environment, and creatively work with or around the rest.

It comes down to the attitudes we bring with us.  We can give ourselves a concussion banging our heads against brick walls, against circumstances out of our control, or we can make the most of the brains and limitations we have to work with.

There are powerful forces at work conspiring to make life hell for most Americans, no matter how hard we try to overcome them.  The old rules don’t seem to apply anymore.  For us older poor people, the best we can do is find a relatively affordable, obscure place to survive, and be supportive of others in similar predicaments.

Or, when life gives you brick walls, grow ivy?  It’s amazing how such a harmless-seeming (exotic invasive) plant can grip and infiltrate seemingly impregnable human walls.  I think there’s a metaphor somewhere in there, but I leave it to you to interpret. 😉

Meanwhile, somewhere out there, these have been spotted by locals—

Cardamine/Cut-leaved Toothwort, and three Hepatica:

I know one day soon, this will be ours to enjoy and share.



Unquiet Ghosts

Examples of what we won’t miss about living here:

The hillbilly tenants from hell let their toilet constantly overflow down through the floor onto our washer in the basement.  We can’t complain or notify the landlord, because we fear retaliation by these cave people.

Last time their sewage backed up into the whole basement, due to being stupid, and we called the plumbers, the psycho-girl downstairs went totally ballistic at E for no reason whatsoever.  We just want to live here in peace until we can move, so we have to keep to ourselves so as not to provoke more meltdowns.

It’s spring, and I’m itching to go outside and putter around in the garden, but the rednecks loiter out there day and night, spitting on the porch, smoking like chimneys, waving guns around with their kids, and looking like cocked triggers themselves, so we’re reluctant to even go downstairs.

They have people and drugs coming and going, making a huge racket, far into the night, while their little kids rampage and scream.  They refuse to lock the outer doors, no matter how many times break-ins occur in the neighborhood.  But again, we have to just put up with it so we can stay safe until we move out.

We feel like caged animals in our own home, which isn’t a home.  But it gives us all the more incentive to get out of town ASAP.  This is a place full of bad karma, painful memories, and unquiet ghosts.  Just making a fresh start, a clean slate, someplace we can do laundry without sewage, and gardening not at gunpoint, will be a vast improvement.  It’s the little things…

In the meantime, we skulk about like caged animals, awaiting emancipation.  That day can’t come soon enough.



Next Year in…

Passover is coming up in April, and I’ve started to stock up.  It always seems ironic to me, how Pesach, though commemorating the liberation of a bunch of destitute slaves with the clothes on their backs and some provisions and loot they were able to grab on the way out, is now a festival that only prosperous Jews can afford to observe properly.  There may be some poor Yemenite Jews out there who still struggle to make ends meet, but then there are Jews that actually don’t accept them as bona fide kosher Jews.

The Haggadah proclaims it’s as if we ourselves were personally freed from slavery, but it’s hard to relate, when you have to be privileged enough to afford to be Jewish.  That pretty much rules out folks like me.

But that’s okay.  Being the resourceful type that I am, I find ways to get around our limitations and keep to the spirit and essence of the occasion.  Each year I tighten the proverbial belt a little more and keep it even simpler.  There are few Jews and fewer Jewish resources out here in Goyland, so I have to get really creative.  I think of it as more authentic.  It keeps you honest and humble.

Some of our people survived the horrors of WWII, made it to this country, then apparently forgot their own history, turned around and treated other minorities as condescendingly as they had been treated themselves.  I never could understand such hypocrisy.  Shouldn’t we of all people act justly and mercifully toward fellow victims?  I guess it’s just human nature to become desensitized once you make it.

Traditionally, at the end of the seder we repeat the symbolic hope, “Next year in Jerusalem.”  It’s the homeland exiled Jews have always longed to return to.  Personally, I have absolutely no desire to return to Israel.  Once was enough.  I love middle eastern culture in general, but I don’t have much sympathy for those who turn around and use their military superiority to persecute fellow semites just as they were persecuted for millennia.  Jews, of all people, should know better.  But that’s just my position.

So instead I say, next year in Tennessee, which is as close to a “homeland” as I’m likely to find.  My son, who was born there, and family are there, and we hope to find some peace and liberation there.  (I almost said “deliverance”, but thought better of it!  Cue banjo-playing cannibals.)  There may be as many gun-wielding religious fanatics there as in the middle east, but hopefully they’ll all just shoot each other and leave us alone.

On that cheery note, here are some signs of Passover’s approach.  Of course the obligatory MD, or “sacred syrup”, more parsley, and festive pansies.


“Progress” Report

Notice I haven’t posted much about my resolutions of late.  I have a theory that there’s a direct correlation between trump/trauma and losing motivation to do anything.  It’s another manifestation of anxiety/depression.  The only resolution I’ve been pretty consistent with is writing these posts, probably because for me it’s more like a therapeutic outlet, as opposed to reinforcing that sense of the futility, trying to improve or progress in a regressing world.

(I do still get on the Infernal Device, when I think of it, when my back isn’t out.  And sometimes I even revisit the dreaded file crypt.  It’s a lot like the Inquisition.)

I think some of my resolve will revive once we find a more wholesome living situation far away from this depressing state.  Again, I’m not expecting some idyllic situation, just a chance to breathe again and start over, with more outlets and opportunities than we could ever find here.  Just having a garden of our own to work in, animals to care for, family to spend time with, and projects to direct our energy toward should keep us more active and productive.  And the process of moving itself will go a long way toward downsizing and organizing, and also divert me from wasting time online.

Today we got to go help another new friend with some electrical work.  I should say, E did the work and I stood around watching a squirrel do acrobatics out the window.  I have absolutely no clue about electric stuff, but she’s a natural.  When our friend’s outlets finally worked, his face lit up just like the lamps, he was so amazed and happy!  For E, it was just some routine detective work with a multimeter, some tools, and unscrambling some wires.  It worked out well for all of us, because in lieu of payment, we asked him if he could help load the truck when we move in late summer, and he was thrilled to exchange services.  That relieved us of one more worry.  It’s hard to find trustworthy people around here.

Here’s the squirrel doing acrobatics.