blog news, condescending twatbags, dogs, rants, travel

Home again, and glad of it!

Here’s a quick post before I delve into blogging about our most recent trip to the Schwarzwald. Bill and I got home about 45 minutes ago, after a relatively peaceful drive back to Wiesbaden. Today is German Reunification Day, so almost everything is closed. The posts are open, though, so Bill has gone to the commissary to buy some food for tonight. The weather cleared up just as we were leaving Baiersbronn. What a shame we’re missing it, because there were some things I would have liked to have done, had there not been rain.

We still managed to have a good time. It was restful in the Black Forest, and it’s always a pleasure to visit. I often feel twinges of regret and bittersweetness when we’re down there, since we lived in that area for about four years. It’s too bad we left living in that area with a rather bad taste in our mouths, thanks to our lawsuit against our former landlady. But at least we can visit, and enjoy how pretty it is. Living there introduced us to some nice areas that we can now justify booking stays in when we go see our dentist in Stuttgart.

As for the Bareiss Hotel… it really is a lovely place and we had a good time. We spent a good chunk of change, but it was significantly less than what we would have spent on a cruise. And since we were there with our car, we could easily get around and not be a captive audience. Not that we really took advantage of that. Thanks to the rain, we stayed pretty close to the hotel grounds.

Bill and I both had a lot of weird dreams while we were at the hotel. I think it’s because we were both worried about Arran. I really hope he’s okay. We’ll find out tonight.

I woke up at about 3am this morning, needing to go to the bathroom. When it was over, I was wide awake, so I went on Facebook… That was a mistake. On Saturday, we had a really nice lunch at the hotel. I had fresh trout, which was absolutely delicious. However, because it’s Europe, the whole fish is served. Several people left disgusted comments on the photo I shared. I let the first couple roll off my back somewhat, but then someone said it looked like someone had thrown up on the plate.

I guess the heart means we’re going home… because that’s where the heart is.

My response was an angry reaction, and the comment “That is not nice.”

The person doubled down with more “‘yucking’ on my ‘yum'”, so I posted “Can y’all who don’t like this picture of my delicious, fresh, trout lunch just keep scrolling or X out the photo, rather than leaving negative comments? Some you are being quite rude.”

To their credit, the person did apologize and delete the comment. Of course, by then I’d already seen it and felt irritated about it. And then I just deleted the photo, because I didn’t want to read and feel the need to respond to any more inappropriate comments about it.

I hated to have to make that statement, and I’m sure some people would call me “overly sensitive” for being annoyed about that, but I was already irritated because I couldn’t sleep. I just don’t see the need to leave those kinds of negative comments. Some people were enjoying seeing what we were eating at the hotel, and obviously, I like fresh trout. I don’t necessarily like looking at the eyes and the tail either, but the alternative is a decapitated fish. In any case, a fresh trout decoratively covered in almonds, tomatoes, and lemon is in no way reminiscent of vomit. And even if it was, there’s really no need to say so. I was delighted by the fresh trout, so posting that it looked like puke is basically insulting my taste. I don’t like looking at mushrooms on Facebook, but other people do. I simply X out the photo and move on. It’s not hard to do… moreover, the person who made that comment has put up photos that I have not commented on, but surely could say plenty of rude things about if I were a less considerate person.

Maybe it’s my fault, though. I can be inappropriate sometimes. Some people probably think it’s okay to say whatever they want to me. Anyway… I’ll probably bitch more about this in the travel blog, so I’ll stop now.

For now, I’ll just say it’s good to be home… and it’ll be so good to see the dogs again. I hope Arran will set our minds at ease, but if he doesn’t, at least we can take care of him and make him more comfortable.

I’m grateful that we got a few days away, though. We needed them. And there are plenty of world events I’m ready to opine about in the coming days. So now, if you want to read about our trip, come over to the travel blog. That’s where the story will be, starting today. I hope you’re there for it.

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dogs, healthcare, politics, rants, royals, social media

Yesterday was a particularly crappy Monday… mind if I vent?

I knew yesterday was going to suck when I woke up at 3:30am needing to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t just a quick pee, so when I was done, I was wide awake. I instinctively knew yesterday was going to be very difficult for a few reasons. I knew I was going to watch the Queen’s funeral, and there would be beautiful music, bright colorful uniforms on stalwart men and women in her service, somber people in black who came to pay their respects, and wise words from religious leaders. That would provoke an emotional response under the best of circumstances.

Then I knew that we would be getting the results of Arran’s cytology report. I knew that they would not be the results we hoped for, and I was right. Arran has been diagnosed with lymphoma, and our time with him is growing short.

We have dealt with lymphoma before. Our dog, Zane, had it in 2019. He was diagnosed on the Saturday after we came home from vacation, and was gone a week later. He wasn’t as strong as Arran is, and his disease was found later. We were in Scotland on a cruise when Zane’s symptoms appeared, and had no idea he was ailing. Unfortunately, canine lymphoma can sneak up quickly and work devastatingly fast. My one comfort in Zane’s situation was that his last week was relatively pleasant, as cancer goes. He was able to enjoy the weather, lie outside in the sunshine, and even take a walk the day before we said goodbye. Steroids kept him relatively comfortable until the end.

Arran is still quite strong and vital. He still eats, sleeps, walks, jumps, and engages with us. He’s also around 13 or 14 years old, which makes him elderly. Dying is part of life, and as lives go, Arran has had a pretty good one with us. So I’m not particularly sad that it’s getting close to the end of his life. I will miss him very much, and it will hurt to say goodbye. But I know this is a simple part of life.

I made a social media announcement, and wrote this for a friend who expressed preliminary condolences:

…I kind of look at this as I do the death of the Queen. Unfortunately, dying is part of living, but we’ve had almost ten wonderful years with Arran and so many fond memories. We’ve been able to give him a very loving home and a pretty luxurious lifestyle in two countries, plus the ones he’s visited with us. After being passed around a few times when he was young, he finally landed with the right people– especially Bill, who is his favorite person. 

It’s always hard to lose a beloved family member, but some situations are worse than others. At least we know kind of what to expect, and this isn’t a particularly painful cancer. I think he’s got some time left to enjoy… and when and if the time is right, we can give a home to another dog who needs one. In my experience, the successors seem to be sent by the predecessors. I feel very sure that our old dog, MacGregor sent us Arran in January 2013. 

As the Queen once said, “Grief is the price we pay for loving.” But that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to say goodbye when the time comes.

After we lost MacGregor in 2012, I started making memorial videos for my dogs. I made one for MacGregor, and two for Zane, because I had so many great photos and another song to use. On Zane’s videos, I even sang the songs that accompanied the photos, while I used Willie Nelson’s version of “Rainbow Connection” for MacGregor. Yesterday, I made a recording of a song I might use for Arran, when his time comes. I decided to do that, because I suspect I might be too emotional to do it later. In Zane’s case, I already had the recordings done, just because I had wanted to try the songs. I find that making the videos helps me process my grief, since it requires me to look at photos from years ago and see the progression of the time we spent together. I have tons of videos and pictures of Arran, so I think there could be two videos.

MacGregor’s video.
Zane’s video.
And more photos…

The timing for this diagnosis comes at a bad time. We are supposed to go to the Black Forest next weekend for a much needed five night break. We’re close enough to the reservation that I can’t cancel without owing 80 percent of the cost of the room, which is very expensive, because it’s at a five star resort with half board. We’re talking about 3800 euros… but it’s a special hotel. I do have travel insurance with cancel for any reason coverage, but I would rather not have to use it. Of course, I had no idea Arran was going to have lymphoma when I reserved. We are also going to see our dentist. Fortunately, the resort is in Baiersbronn, which is only a couple of hours away. If it comes down to it, we can probably still deal with Arran if he goes downhill during that trip.

Then, the day after we come back, Bill has to go on another business trip. It’s in Germany too, though, so he can get back if he has to. Still, it would be good if we can keep Arran going until that stuff is done– at least a month or so. I think we can do it, provided we have some chemical assistance. But lymphoma can go south really fast, as we found out from Zane’s experience. Or, dogs can be treated and go into remission… We’ll have to see what the vet can do for Arran’s situation. He did try to chase a squirrel yesterday on his walk.

The next thing that sucked about yesterday is that I spent the day feeling physically bad. I threw up breakfast because my stomach was all messed up. I have a burning, pinching feeling on the left side of my stomach. I think I have gastritis. I feel somewhat better today, since I tee-totaled last night, and drank herbal tea for breakfast instead of coffee. Bill made me eggs, which seemed like they would be the least offensive. I didn’t eat much yesterday anyway, and that tends to be bad for me. But I had no appetite or inclination to prepare anything. And when you’re 50 and you have these kinds of aches and pains, it gets harder to shrug them off, especially when you’re phobic of seeing doctors, like I am– and especially when you’re in a country that isn’t home.

And finally, I made the mistake of posting a comment on Amy Klobuchar’s Facebook page the other day. It was an innocuous comment– nothing that should have invited controversy. I wrote that I live in Germany and got a phone call from a German about voting in the US elections. I explained about that incident here on this blog, too. Naturally, I got several laughter reactions from MAGA trolls, which is irritating enough. But then some old bat left me a pissy comment about how I should post my address so she and her MAGA friends can send me their bills.

Already annoyed because of my gnawing stomach ache and the news about Arran, I responded “Grow up.”

She came back with more vile piss and vinegar about how she’s “grown up” and yada, yada, yada. I blocked her, and then ranted a bit to Bill, because for the life of me, I don’t understand why people feel the need to mock and harass perfect strangers for having different opinions than theirs.

Then this morning, I saw this very “literate” comment from someone else:

How could they get your phone #? Please, if you you make up stories, make them at least more believe label. Do you write fiction novels?

So this was my more eloquent retort, which I probably shouldn’t have bothered with:

I’m not making this up. They had my number because I signed up for Democrats Abroad. I just didn’t expect to get a phone call when I did that. My guess is that the guy who called was either a dual citizen or spouse of an American, or he might be a German who cares about American politics because our leaders affect Europe, too. Nevertheless, I am done voting for Republicans because of Donald Trump and his ilk. 

I don’t see why stating this on a page for Amy Klobuchar should invite rude, derisive, comments from anyone. You are free to vote your conscience. I expect and deserve the same consideration. And when you “laugh” at me and accuse me of lying, you just show us all that you don’t stand for American values.

This photo alone is one reason why Trump needs to go. People actually believe this shit!

She’ll probably laugh at me again, which will prompt me to block her. Seriously… I ain’t got the time for it. I like how the woman can’t fathom how someone over here would call me about voting… There are LOTS of Americans in Germany, and we are affected by our country’s policies. But so are Europeans, and folks, from over here, America looks like a three ring shit show.

I was surprised too, about the phone call, which is the only reason I decided to post about it. Why can’t people simply be civilized and decent? Especially when a stranger posts something pretty innocuous. It’s one thing when someone posts something obviously incendiary or obtuse, but I didn’t do that. I want to ask that person if she’s that much of an asshole in person, too. But that would only reduce me to her level, and I don’t need to go down there.

Oh well… no need to fuss over it. I’ve got bigger issues to deal with. At least the weather is nice today. I’ll walk the dogs and try to enjoy our precious time with sweet Arran… and maybe my stomach will calm down. At least the funeral for the Queen is over… I know not everyone loved her, but I will miss her. Overall, I think she was an exceptional person, and she did many good things, in spite of the many controversies surrounding the monarchy. At the very least, her funeral was a masterfully presented show for the world to see. Nobody does pomp and circumstance like the Brits do.

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language, rants, royals

Death is an inevitable part of life; it’s not automatically “tragic”…

Yesterday, I happened to see a video about Queen Elizabeth’s death. It was made by a popular content creator that routinely makes videos and shares social media worthy articles. I couldn’t help but notice that, more than once, the person (or AI) narrating the video described Queen Elizabeth’s recent death as “tragic”. Then I realized that other people, even media personalities who ought to know better, were referring to a 96 year old wealthy white woman’s death as “tragic”, even though she died in the company of her loved ones and attended to by very highly qualified physicians.

So I took to Facebook to air my grievances. This is what I wrote:

I have seen a lot of people referring to QEII’s death as “tragic”. I think people need to look up the word “tragic” and realize that nothing about the queen’s death was tragic. “Tragic” would have been dying alone and in pain, forgotten in a hospital room after spending months on life support. “Tragic” would have been dying in a freak accident in her 20s, or being gunned down by a maniac in the middle of the Platinum Jubilee.

The queen died in her favorite place, surrounded by loved ones, with excellent medical supervision, at the grand age of 96. She lived a fabulous life, enjoying robust health for most of it. Queen Elizabeth had a death many would envy. Her death isn’t tragic. Death happens to all of us. She has left a wonderful legacy that won’t be forgotten, and she is no longer in any pain. That is not a tragedy. We should all be so lucky to end life in such a way.

But she will be missed by many. Perhaps that is tragic for those who will mourn her the most.

Yesterday morning, I read a story in The New York Times about a man’s death that struck me as truly tragic. Marc Lewitinn, aged 76, spent the last 850 days of his life on a ventilator before he finally succumbed. Mr. Lewitinn had survived lung cancer and a stroke that had left him unable to speak when the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020. Because of his delicate health and age, his family urged him to stay socially distanced. Later that month, when cabin fever got the best of him, Mr. Lewitinn decided to venture out to a crowded Starbucks near his home. Soon after that fateful visit to Starbucks, Mr. Lewitinn was lethargic and had a blood oxygen level of 85 percent. He had contracted COVID.

Because of his falling blood oxygen levels, doctors decided to intubate Mr. Lewitinn and induce a coma. His family was told that in spite of the measures being taken to help him, Mr. Lewitinn would likely die within a few days, due to his fragile health and age. Instead of saying goodbye, his family urged Mr. Lewitinn to fight for his life. And he did. He remained in a coma for six months and was moved to a hospital closer to his home. He survived COVID-19. But the disease and being on the ventilator had weakened his lungs so much that Mr. Lewitinn was never able to be weaned from the machine. He spent 850 days on it until he finally suffered a fatal heart attack on July 23, 2022.

I’m not sure how Mr. Lewitinn’s family members feel about their father’s last two years. Maybe they were grateful that he hung on for as long as he did. I’m sure his case did some good for those who no doubt learned from it. However, in my personal opinion, and realizing that I wasn’t there to see the actual conditions he was living under, his last two years don’t sound like they were quality years. I noticed the comments on the obituary pretty much indicated the same thing. This man’s death, to me, sounds much more tragic than Queen Elizabeth’s was.

Maybe a better example of a tragic death would be any of the ones caused by gun violence. I think of the children who died in terror at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. They were in school to learn, and probably felt safe there. But then they were murdered by yet another unhinged man with a gun, while living in a state where guns are practically worshiped. Survivors of that horrifying incident are now starting a new school year. I’ll bet there isn’t a single child attending school there who still feels safe and comfortable.

Or perhaps another good example of a tragic death is that of Eliza Fletcher’s. The pretty 34 year old kindergarten teacher and mom went jogging in the wee hours of September 2, 2022. During her run, she was abducted and murdered by a man who had a criminal history of kidnapping and had only recently gotten out of prison. Fletcher had two beautiful young children, who will now have to grow up without their mother. That, to me, is tragic.

Today is September 11th. Twenty-one years ago, the United States was attacked by terrorists, resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. That was a real tragedy. It’s laughable to me that some people are calling the Queen’s death tragic, when I consider how 9/11 victims died in 2001.

Everybody dies. Most people have at least one person in their lives who will miss them when that inevitable event happens. But there are worse things than death.

I think of my father, who had always been a healthy man, getting afflicted with Lewy Body Dementia. For six years, he slowly became less like himself, unable to tend to his own needs, and losing his ability to think, communicate, and move at will. He died at age 81, after having emergency gallbladder surgery. He had survived the surgery, but was unable to recover from the anesthesia. It was kind of a shock when he died, since the gallbladder attack had been sudden. But I remember feeling relieved because, even though his death meant saying goodbye to him forever, it also meant he no longer had to suffer as his body failed him. And although I wasn’t there when he passed, my sister was, and she said he had a look of utter amazement and peace on his face as he died.

Many people expressed condolences to me when my dad died, assuming that his death would devastate me. I didn’t feel devastated, though. My father lived a long, productive life, and he spent his last days with my mother, who took very good care of him in their luxury apartment. He had many friends and loved ones who were there to pay respects to him. He didn’t suffer a terrible death, alone, destitute, or in severe pain. People loved him, and were there for him as he exited the mortal coil. That isn’t tragic. Neither was Queen Elizabeth’s death.

Maybe in the strictest definition of the word, any death is “tragic”, simply because death is fatal. But by that account, if everyone dies, everyone experiences tragedy. That seems like a very pessimistic way of looking at life. Life is full of winners and losers. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s the way it is. Queen Elizabeth was certainly one of life’s winners. She is already missed by countless people, as she was a beloved figure to millions of people around the globe. She had a very good death, not a tragic one. And now, her spirit is hopefully reunited with Prince Philip’s. I like to think it is.

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communication, complaints, rants, social media, technology

Why do I tolerate being disciplined by bots?

It’s a beautiful, cool, rainy morning here in Breckenheim. Seriously… it’s GREAT to have some rain at last. It’s been many weeks since we’ve had the kind of soaking rain that is going on right now. The topsoil in our backyard is parched; the grass is dead; and there’s an actual fissure in the ground, thanks to the drought we’ve had. I love to see the rain in September, because it means relief from hot temperatures. There’s a change in mood, too. People seem to want to get down to business again, probably because September is when a lot of young people go back to school.

I hope the rain lasts all day. It will match my mood, which is a bit cranky this morning. Why? Because I’m still “restricted” on Facebook for an infraction that happened in August, and the punishment was only supposed to last a few days. I typed a forbidden three word comment regarding Donald Trump on a friend’s post, and within a couple of minutes, the bots descended upon me with a nastygram and my “punishment”. It was SUPPOSED to be 48 hours restriction from posting in groups. I got my ability to post in groups sooner than I expected, but I still had the red badge of shame, as unbeknownst to me, Facebook bots had decided to give me thirty days of lower ranked posts in groups. I should be done with that “punishment” on September 16th.

I won’t be surprised, though, if I still have the stupid red badge of shame a month from now for a comment I posted yesterday. A friend from my hometown posted about how it annoys him that people post whatever they want on Facebook and he never comments, but when he posts something controversial, people get pissed off. I got curious, and soon found a video he posted

@mississippichris39 #fyp #foryourpage #mississippi #funny ♬ original sound – chrisalexander3595

My honest response to the above Tik Tok video was, “I think I’d probably kick him in the nuts.” It was a joke, of course. I’ve long since outgrown indulging my urges to kick people in their private parts. The point is, I don’t think I’d appreciate someone telling me to “Shut up” as they insisted on “loving” me, especially since I don’t know what “love” entails to someone so bold. Does it mean loving from afar, or a more physical kind of love that involves the risk of pregnancy (for someone younger, anyway)? A previous commenter posted a vomiting emoji. I wonder if I would have still gotten in trouble if I had posted something like this…

People post all kinds of offensive crap all the time, but Facebook never does anything about it. Twice, I’ve complained about someone ripping off my profile and pretending to be me. They don’t do anything about it. I post a figure of speech and the bots descend on me like flies on shit! I get accused of inciting violence, hate speech, etc. They ask me if I want to agree with their decision. I have found out from experience that disagreeing doesn’t do anything, as no live person will ever look at the context of the offending post. So I just accept the “punishment”, which has nothing to do with the infraction and simply makes Facebook more annoying and harder to use. I run a couple of groups, neither of which have any issues. Yet Facebook bans me from participating in groups because I posted a forbidden comment on a friend’s post. That doesn’t make sense. And it’s not like I’d learn anything, either, because you never know what will set off the bots. This crap makes me glad I disabled the official Facebook page for this blog.

Common sense would tell me that the right thing to do is to close my account and go back to living the way I did prior to August 2008, when a former friend convinced me to join Facebook. But now, everything is so tied up in social media that I feel like leaving the platform would make things complicated on several levels. So maybe the better thing to do is just spend less time on Facebook, and more time on other platforms. I just recently discovered Twitter and arranged my settings so I don’t get comments from toxic people… or really, anyone, anymore. However, I think Twitter is also pretty toxic, and just reading some of the hatred that gets spewed there is hard on my mental health. I know that sounds “snowflakey”, but life is tough enough without some of the rude, snarky, mean spirited shit people post.

Though I know some people might say the comments that got me in trouble were also mean, neither were personal insults toward anyone who would actually read and be hurt or insulted by them. They were joking comments made to friends. Meanwhile, people can be as sarcastic, nasty, and vulgar as they want to be in any newspaper’s comment section, and nothing will get done.

Is this really what the powers that be at Facebook want? To drive people away with draconian bots and their nonsensical policing of people’s innocuous comments, constantly taken out of context? I feel stupid allowing bots to discipline me, and I’m tired of being Mark Zuckerberg’s ass monkey. So maybe it’s time I spent more time reading books and watching videos than engaging on Facebook. I’d like to travel more, too… for as long as we’re able to, before the next pandemic or having to move somewhere else.

Anyway… it’s a minor complaint. Bill will be home tomorrow. He’ll take Arran to the vet to see if he needs hormonal help or anything else. Arran is a bit perkier this week, but I still want to see if he can use some meds. We’ll have a wine fest, which I can’t post about in my wine group until Saturday, thanks to this asinine “sanction” placed on me by a bot. I’m glad I don’t use Facebook for business purposes. It’s utterly useless for that.

Time to wrap up this post and get on with the day… which will consist of vacuuming, practicing guitar, maybe making a new video, and walking the dogs, if the rain lets up.

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family, politics, rants, sexism, slut shamers

“Sweater hams” and a new kid in town…

This morning, I was reading an article about a very busty, but tiny, nurse who has gotten a lot of complaints about the way she wears her scrubs. She made a video for Tik Tok, and it went viral. I’m nowhere close to being as tiny as she is, but I’m about her height with huge boobs. I know the pain. I’ve had big “sweater hams” my whole life. I worry about them a lot, since I’m 50 and hate visiting doctors for things like mammograms. I have had back issues, though I’m sure my back pain isn’t anything like hers.

A crappy video about the woman’s Tik Tok.

I could relate to the nurse’s comments about people sexualizing her, telling her that her body shape was a problem for them. They told her she looked “inappropriate”. The top of her scrubs made her look too sexy. Honestly, if you’re really sick, are you going to care what your nurse’s scrubs look like? Short of getting surgery, which this nurse may one day decide to do just to alleviate the back pain, I don’t know what she’s supposed to do. Sizing up might not be a good solution, since the scrubs might not fit the rest of her properly. Maybe she could have them tailored, but that would be expensive and time consuming. Her body is covered. I figure that’s what should matter.

I did have a laugh in the comments on God’s page about this story. One commenter wrote:

I’ve been told by teachers I was “dressed inappropriately” while wearing a sweater… Look it’s not my fault I have big sweater hams. It is however the ADULT TEACHER’S fault that they are looking at a minor with inappropriate thoughts.

Everybody went nuts at the term “sweater hams”. I think I’ve heard that before, but it’s not a very common euphemism for big tits. In any case, I can relate. I have big boobs, too. This time of year, they aren’t much fun to deal with, because it’s hot outside. Naturally, there was a mansplainer, who wrote this:

I want to roast some serious ham. Just because I think the phrase “big sweater hams” is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t have meat. You are not meat. You are a person. Ham is delicious. Women are not meat.

Um… she was just being funny, guy. Read the room. Most everyone thinks the concept of “sweater hams” is hilarious. This is not the time for you to be giving someone a hard time for saying something unconventional. Why do people have to confront others for expressing themselves?

Amy Klobuchar is a very vocal liberal. Conservatives like to hang out on her social media and harass people.

Yesterday, I was reading Amy Klobuchar’s Facebook page, and she posted about Steve Bannon’s guilty verdict in court. It was the end of a long day, and I wrote that I wouldn’t be happy until he was behind bars. And two obvious conservatives, a man and a woman, decided to leave me crappy comments, which I ignored. Why do people do that? Why harass strangers over sharing their opinions? These folks don’t even like Amy Klobuchar’s politics. Do they just want to spread misery and rudeness to strangers? I don’t see the appeal. It would be one thing if it was a news story. This is a liberal politician. They aren’t gonna vote for her. They just want to be assholes to people who support her work. I don’t understand the motivation. That behavior doesn’t change hearts and minds. I won’t be voting for a conservative politician because two random Trumpies confronted me on Facebook.

And finally, I got some news this morning from one of my cousins. My Uncle Ed, a man with whom my last conversation occurred in 2017, and ended on a very bad note, is apparently on his deathbed. He’s 85 years old; and last month, he suffered a bout of pneumonia. Apparently, he’s been struggling the whole time, and is now probably on the verge of death, if he hasn’t already crossed the bar. My cousin, who is a gay man, sent me a DM last night, while I was asleep. He lamented that his brother, who is a colossal Trump supporter, chose that time to argue about politics. It got ugly.

People can get really weird when someone close to them is about to die. I mean, my cousin– the infamous “Timmy”, whom I’ve written about before in this blog (and whose name isn’t actually Timmy)– is not acting strange when he argues about politics. He does that all the time. It’s just that he’s choosing to do it now, when his father is at death’s door. Instead of coming together with his brothers, including the one who wrote to me, Timmy is acting like an asshole. I suspect it’s because it’s his way of coping.

In July 2014, when my dad was dying, one of my sisters similarly acted like a huge asshole. I never confronted her about it. I wanted to at the time, because what she did was extremely inappropriate. My dad was in the hospital and had to be put on a ventilator. My sister, who has a habit of minimizing and discounting other people’s opinions and painful experiences, had (and maybe still has) a chip on her shoulder about the fact that I don’t hang out with my family much anymore. I specifically didn’t hang out with my dad much, because my dad was a source of a lot of pain. He regularly humiliated me, insulted me, and when I was younger, physically struck me. I finally got to a point at which I didn’t want to endure that treatment anymore, so I withdrew. And having sisters diminish that, and basically tell me that it was up to me to swallow more shit, made me want to withdraw from them, too. I’m happier and healthier for it.

Well, as my dad was dying, my sister somehow got the idea that I wouldn’t be coming to see him in the hospital. She kept sending me emotional blackmailing emails. In one email, she sent a picture of my dad in his hospital bed, wearing a huge CPAP mask. I knew this was not a photo my dad would have consented to. I doubted our mom would have approved, either. She had sent it to be manipulative, and to shame me into doing what she felt was “right”.

What really pissed me off, though, was that she absolutely didn’t need to do that. I was going to go see him, even though we were in the middle of trying to move from Texas to Germany. It wasn’t necessary for her to make the situation more painful than it already was. And even if I had decided NOT to go, that would have been my privilege. I am an adult, and I make decisions for myself. I was really tempted to lash out at her, but I decided that would make things worse than they needed to be. So I “thanked” her for the information, and Bill and I went to see my dad for the last time. He died two days later. I remained pretty upset about the photo my sister sent. It was inappropriate, unnecessary, and totally disrespectful. She wonders why I don’t want to go home and spend time with the family? It’s because of shit like THAT! I just want to live my life in peace.

So, when I read my cousin’s comments about his brother’s behavior, it made me think of my sister’s behavior. It’s not uncommon for “Timmy” to behave like a political blowhard. He traded booze for religion and politics, and has turned into an insufferable turd. But I know, deep down, he’s not really like that. I know that he’s a good person, underneath that MAGA facade. I assume most of the jerks I run into online are also, deep down, not terrible people. They say these things because they’re afraid. They think their lives are going to change, and they can’t control it. So they lash out with hate. It’s bad enough when that negativity is directed at a stranger, but it’s heartbreaking when it’s toward a supposed loved one.

Right now, my cousins need each other. They are sharing the experience of losing a parent. They are understandably under stress. I’m sure that arguing politics is one way to stop thinking about the huge loss they are about to endure. I love my uncle very much, even though the last time we communicated, he called me a “liberal nutjob”, and reminded me so much of my dad when he was on one of his worst benders. I know that overall, like my dad, his brother, my uncle is a decent person. But, like so many of us, he’s lost the plot and fallen into the abyss of political and religious bullshit. And it’s taken a huge toll on family relations, which is a real shame.

Which brings me to the “new kid in town” part of this post…

It occurs to me that my Uncle Ed may, if he hasn’t already, be crossing into the great beyond. I imagine my dad, his brothers, Carl and Brownlee, and his sisters, Jeanne, and Susan, his wife, Nancy, and his parents, Pappy and Granny, will all be waiting there to usher him into Heaven. That’s if Heaven exists, of course… and if they all went there. All of them were devout Christians. Ed will be the next “new kid” in town. And as I ponder that, I ponder this awesome album I downloaded by J.D. Souther, who helped write the song made famous by The Eagles. Below is a link for your consideration…

This whole album is gorgeous. I love J.D. Souther’s music. He’s underrated. This particular version of “New Kid in Town” is just sublime.

Well… I don’t know if Uncle Ed is gone yet. I do know that his mother, my Granny, died fifteen years ago yesterday. So if he has passed, it’s kind of an interesting time to go. My love goes out to my family who will miss him. I have many great memories of him, and the fun we had at family events. Before Trump changed him, he was one of my favorite people. I hope he finds much joy and peace as he becomes the newest family member to join the party in Heaven.

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