politicians, politics, stupid people, Trump

Strange times…

We are definitely living in them. Yesterday was a relatively normal day for me. I’m six hours ahead of my American friends and family, knowing that by the evening, things were going to get weird. But until the evening, we enjoyed a regular day of clouds and drizzle. I did some writing, practiced guitar, washed my sheets, and put together a new bookshelf to hold some of the fancy foodie books I’ve gotten for Bill over the years. An added bonus is that I also have a place to put board games and jigsaw puzzles I’ve done. I thought I’d put the shelf in the living room, but there’s no good place for it down there.

Usually, by now, I would have taken down the Christmas trees. I haven’t done it yet, because the trees make the living room look cozier and I like the lights. I find them comforting. I’ll take the trees down this weekend, when Bill can help me with that chore. Then I’ll do a thorough vacuuming… I’ve made such mundane plans.

And yet, what we saw in the news last night was anything but mundane. Like so many other Americans I was absolutely horrified, but not at all surprised, to see people rioting in Washington, D.C. over Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. It was appalling to see crazed, lawless people breaking the windows in the Capitol building as our lawmakers were evacuated. No, I’m not particularly shocked that this happened. Trump said it would, and it probably made him proud to see all of the chaos reigning as Congress was trying to settle the election.

We knew that many members of Congress intended to object to the electoral votes cast in favor of Joe Biden in certain states. I am sure that the fact that both run off elections in Georgia, one of the formerly red states that turned blue, ended in victories for the Democrat candidates. It’s clear that a lot of people who ordinarily don’t vote came out to make their voices heard, and the majority voted against the Republicans. Republicans, who had been enjoying their powers under Trump, have now been checked by the majority of the American people. A lot of them are pissed off, threatened, and just plain scared that things are going to swing way to the left. So their response is to fight back in a lawless way. One of my conservative friends actually posted this on her Facebook page. All I’ve got to say to it is… wow. Talk about someone who is out of touch with reality.

I feel like half of Americans have Stockholm Syndrome. How can they not see that their dear leader is the biggest abuser of all?

There is nothing cool or honorable about what happened in Washington, D.C. yesterday. So far, four people have died over this stupid shit. A lot of people were injured and arrested. And how many will get sick with COVID-19 remains to be seen. What’s even worse is that the world is watching this crap unfold. This is the kind of thing that happens in banana republics. It’s senseless and ridiculous and completely embarrassing. Trump is cheering it on and encouraging people to be violent and disorderly.

The highest leaders in Washington are talking about invoking the 25th Amendment. It’s an unprecedented move, but it may be the one thing the saves the country.

I really think it’s long been time to invoke the 25th Amendment. It’s sad that it’s only NOW that people in the government and talking about removing Trump from office. Trump was never suited to lead the country, and what we’re witnessing right now is the reason WHY he was never suited. And this behavior is also why I have repeatedly compared Trump to Hitler. It’s not because he’s rounded up six million people and assassinated them, but because his seditious rhetoric inspires the unhinged to react with violence and commit mayhem. It is appalling and terrifying to watch this from afar. I can only imagine how scary it is to actually live near D.C. and see this happening up close and personal. It makes me glad Bill is retired from the National Guard and we no longer live at Fort Belvoir.

Author Michael Wolff said in 2019, Donald Trump’s presidency would end in tears… Donald Trump’s tears. He says Trump is “more isolated, more alone…” and this is the story of one of the greatest political meltdowns in history. How astute he was in June 2019!

Anderson Cooper says speaking to Trump is like speaking to a child.

And yet people are still cheering him on and championing him, to the point of storming the Capitol building and interfering with Congress’s attempts to finalize the election.

Trump has no impulse control. He has no shame. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and clearly he is not an adult who knows how to negotiate. He’s just a bully and a tyrant and he needs to be escorted out of the White House… sooner than January 20, 2021. And every single one of the miscreants who breached the Capitol building needs to be arrested and punished. Law and order is for everyone, not just BLM. But… like I said, this isn’t a surprise for me. Donald Trump, like all malignant narcissists, has never hidden who and what he is. If you’ve spent any time with a narcissist, you know what’s coming. Some are worse than others. Trump is clearly among the worst.

I truly hope more people have seen the truth… and we’ll all learn from this craziness.

And now, Joe Biden is formally on track to be our 46th president. Thank GOD.

I am so ready for the Trump chapter to close forever.

I’m also delighted that Mitch McConnell’s unholy reign of terror as Senate Majority Leader is finally over. However, I will commend him and Mike Pence for FINALLY going off on Trump and defying him as he melts down. Too bad it’s taken so long for the two of them to grow spines. This never should have happened. Trump never should have been allowed to run for president.

And finally, a little old school humor that hits home as I watch this crap unfold…

Tell me about it.
narcissists, politicians, politics, true crime, videos

Gabriel Sterling is outraged. So am I.

My friend Andrew shared the below video this morning. Well, it was probably night where he is, but it was morning when I saw it. I must say, I’m very impressed with the speaker, Gabriel Sterling, an elections official in Georgia who is outraged. Why? Because he and his staff are getting threats over the election results!

People who are just trying to do their jobs are being threatened, all because some people are angry that Trump has lost the election.

I really think this video is worth watching, not just because Mr. Sterling speaks so eloquently about how wrong it is that elections officials are being harassed and threatened, but also because the guy doing the sign language translation is amazing. He expertly conveys the outrage coming from Sterling’s words through his facial expressions and gestures. In fact, the interpreter in this video is one reason why I hope face masks don’t become permanent. He would not be able to do this work so effectively while wearing a mask.

But anyway, back to the original subject at hand. Donald Trump has lost the election. With every passing day, it’s more and more clear that the people chose Joe Biden. I know Joe Biden isn’t perfect, and plenty of people have pointed out why he’s “unsuitable” to be president. Frankly, I think Biden is leagues better than Trump is, if only because he’s not nearly as delusional or narcissistic as Trump so obviously is. I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way. Biden won, fair and square. It’s time for Trump to do the right thing and concede, but I doubt he ever will. To Trump, concession is admitting fault and showing weakness. The reality is, a strong person would admit that he lost, condemn violence and threats against the election workers, and do whatever he could to make things seamless for his successor, for the good of the country.

I watched the video before I saw any of the news articles about this impassioned speech. I hear the pain and frustration in Gabriel Sterling’s voice as he frets about people possibly getting hurt or killed over the election. I sense the total dismay and shock Sterling conveys as he implores Trump to at least say something to the unAmerican whack jobs who are promoting violence against people who are simply doing their duties. The very fact that these folks are being targeted for doing what they’ve been employed to do is one major reason why Donald Trump has to go. He’s done nothing but encouraged division and uncivilized behavior among the American people.

I know it’s not one-sided. Emily Murphy, who is the administrator of the General Services Administration, basically the person who controls the funds that would allow Mr. Biden to set up his affairs as he prepares to take over the White House, has said that people have been threatening and harassing her, too. She refused to grant Joe Biden the funds to start the transition to power in spite of mounting pressure to do her job and growing evidence that Trump’s complaints about corruption and a “stolen election” are false. Murphy finally did her duty, but sent Biden a letter complaining about being threatened. She wrote that even her pets have been threatened with violence.

I don’t remember any other election fraught with as much chaos and polarization as this one has been. It’s absolutely batshit crazy. And I don’t know how or where people have gotten the idea that it’s appropriate to threaten people with violence for any reason, but particularly over something like a presidential election. The president doesn’t have all of the power… and thank GOD for that.

What good does it do to try to intimidate people? Who taught these people that promoting violence and issuing threats are the ways to make the United States a better place to live? Do the people who have resorted to threats and intimidation really think that is what will make American “great” again (not that it ever really was, our whitewashed history lessons notwithstanding)? Is that what they would like to happen to them someday if someone disagrees with them?

I do think it’s funny, though, to see how some Republicans are finally turning on Trump. It’s like watching rats jump off a sinking ship. Yesterday, I watched a video of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey letting a call from Trump go to voicemail as he was certifying his state’s election results in favor of Joe Biden. Ducey had once bragged that he had a special ring tone for Trump and Pence. Whenever his cell phone rang with “Hail To The Chief”, he knew it was a call from Trump or Pence and he needed to be sure to answer promptly. On the video I saw yesterday, one can see Mr. Ducey signing paperwork as his phone rings with that ring tone. He doesn’t answer. Instead, he glances at the phone and ignores it. Maybe that’s what we should all start doing… although Trump has gotten so big for his britches that doing so could be disastrous. If there’s one thing narcissists can’t stand, it’s being ignored.

Yup… they are all the same, when it comes down to it. There’s no real loyalty in politics. Looks like Doug Ducey has moved on.

Well… it’ll be interesting to watch what happens as the inauguration approaches. Hopefully, not too many people will get hurt or killed by violent, unhinged, and frankly obsessed people. It’s bad enough that people are dying of a dangerous virus. Do we really need crazy Trump supporters running around with weapons, threatening innocent people who are just doing their jobs?

healthcare, politicians, politics

If this story is true, we’re getting even closer to Nazi territory.

This morning, I read a very disturbing article about Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run ICE facility in the U.S. state of Georgia. The center, run by LaSalle Corrections and located in Ocilla, is about 200 miles of Atlanta. It’s in the news because of whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse who worked in the detention facility and observed some horrifying conditions.

Wooten alleges that staff members at the ICE facility are not taking proper precautions against preventing the spread of COVID-19. She claims that cases are being underreported; detainees are not getting proper medical care, nor are they being tested; and, most shocking to me, women are having unwarranted hysterectomies without proper consent. Wooten claims that some women have seen a gynecologist for somewhat minor conditions like heavy menstrual periods, and the physician has been “treating” them by removing their uteri or ovaries.

In a letter she sent to the Inspector General Office at the Department of Homeland Security, Wooten claims that she was asked to triage a man with COVID-19, even though she did not even have a face mask for protection. She also says that warden David Paulk told a staff member not to let anyone know that the man with COVID-19 had tested positive because he “didn’t want people to panic” (where have we heard THAT before)? Wooten reports that nurses were claiming to have seen patients who complained of COVID-19 symptoms when they hadn’t, and that she had actually seen nurses shredding a box of detainee complaints without even looking at them. Two $14,000 rapid testing COVID-19 machines were purchased by ICE for the facility, but Wooten says she only saw them used once. No one was trained to use them.

When Wooten complained to the powers that be at the facility, she lost her full-time position and was demoted to an “on call” job, for which she was only offered a few hours of work per week. Wooten, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and is at an elevated risk for COVID-19 was deliberately exposed to patients who had the virus. Management at Irwin neglected to tell her that detainees she had contact with were symptomatic and, in three cases, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Wooten’s claims were corroborated by other medical staff at Irwin who did not want to be identified because they fear reprisals. It was also verified by people who are currently or had recently been detained at the center. As of Sunday, 42 people at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19, but no precautions were being taken to try to stop the spread of the disease.

Because the first article I saw about this was from Yahoo!, I started checking to see if more reputable sources were sharing this story. Sure enough, I found articles in the Washington Post and the Guardian, as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The emphasis in the other papers seemed to be less focused on the mass hysterectomies.

It’s horrible enough that people are locked up in a prison with no way to protect themselves against a deadly virus that spreads through the air. But what got me to read about what’s happening at the center was a news article from Yahoo! that a friend shared. The headline for that piece was about the forced hysterectomies, rather than COVID-19. That, to me, just screams human rights violation– akin to the horrors of the Holocaust and awful eugenics policies that were carried out in another, somewhat recent, era in the United States. Have we learned NOTHING from our past?

The “doctor” who allegedly did these hysterectomies, along with removing the wrong ovary from one of his patients, rendering her sterile, has not yet been named. I would be interested in hearing his explanation as to why he’s doing these operations, especially since the women are apparently not being informed of the purpose of doing them or the risks. While it would be easy for me to conclude that he’s doing these procedures to prevent the women from having “anchor babies” (and he probably is), I would love to hear that there’s a reasonable explanation. The doctor who is performing the hysterectomies is being referred to as a “uterus collector”. To me, this practice conjures up an image not unlike veterinarians who desex animals and release them to the streets so they are rendered unable to breed. Maybe that makes sense when the subject is feral cats. It does not make sense when human beings are involved. Again… it reminds me of the dreadful eugenics programs that ran in my home state of Virginia as recently as the 1970s.

I doubt I will ever hear a reasonable explanation for the gynecologist’s practice of doing the mass hysterectomies. I’ll bet he’d say he’s somehow doing those women a “favor”– or, at least he’s doing the United States a favor by not allowing them to have babies that would be U.S. citizens. It seems to me that ever since Donald Trump took office, people who hate others based on their skin color or country of origin are incredibly emboldened to carry out barbaric acts motivated by their ignorance and hatred. These racists don’t see immigrants or migrants as fellow human beings. Instead, it’s more like they see them as akin to vermin who need to be exterminated, or at least no longer able to “breed”, a positively disgusting and horrifying mindset.

My heart goes out to the women who have permanently been rendered sterile because they had the grave misfortune of landing in the detention center in Georgia. Even if they are locked up for justifiable cause– not just because they were born in the wrong place and rounded up by ICE– there is no excuse for the cruelty that has been alleged by Dawn Wooten. I am also very sorry for everyone else who is incarcerated in that facility, completely helpless to protect themselves against what could be for many of them, a deadly virus and a potential death sentence. They must be terrified.

I think a lot of us are terrified right now. Yesterday, Forbes.com ran a story about Donald Trump saying that he will “negotiate a third term, because he’s entitled to it.” Clearly, Trump has not read the Constitution, but many of his supporters harp about that sacred paper whenever they justify voting for him. Their fervor seems to be mostly about their right to bear arms, which is, indeed, the Second Amendment. The rest of the Constitution apparently matters much less to them, as well as the humane and freedom loving image that Americans have always tried to disseminate, at least for as long as I’ve been living.

Four years ago, I might have laughed off Trump’s comments about a potential third term, which I hope will be rendered moot when he’s soundly defeated in November. But now that I’ve seen how much he admires dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, I find it terrifying that Trump is in office NOW, and that people are still championing him. Many of the people championing him are folks that I love and respect, but I feel very certain that they are going to be on the wrong side of history. They don’t seem to understand that Trump is not just a political joke. He’s done some real damage that will take many years to undo… and that’s if COVID-19 or the many natural disasters we’re facing don’t wipe out civilization. I worry that when the inevitable end of his tenancy in the White House comes, there will be actual bloodshed.

Anyway… I remember the days when I truly believed that the United States was the “best” country in the world. I don’t believe that anymore. In fact, I find myself feeling more and more empathy for refugees who feel forced to flee their homelands. I know my situation is not nearly as dire as theirs is, at least right now, but I do feel like I have an inkling. I really don’t think that fearing another four years of Trump is an overreaction. To me, it looks like he’s destroying the country and maybe even parts of the world. I can only hope that one of those Big Macs he’s always shoveling in his big maw causes him to have a massive stroke… preferably on live TV. But aside from that, I fear that there are worse people than Trump waiting in the wings, ready to pick up where he will inevitably leave off… whether by defeat, death, being being forcibly dragged out of the White House by a coup.


Why I find obvious humor annoying and insulting…

Forgive me, folks. I’m a bit cranky this morning. I spent all day yesterday waiting for a delivery from Amazon.de. I ordered new contact lenses on Thursday last week and they didn’t get to me until Saturday. And because the weather was yucky, we hung around all day waiting for them. When they finally got to us, it was almost five o’clock. Then, when I opened the package, I saw that one of the lenses wasn’t the right prescription. So I had to order again and return the wrong ones… or really, I got Bill to return them. Yesterday, once again, it was five o’clock when the delivery got here. I spent all day waiting because I know that if I’m not home, it could be a hassle to get my parcel. I need my contacts or I can’t see shit… and wearing glasses puts me in a bad mood. We also have yucky weather today, so it doesn’t look like we’ll get a walk.

Last night, I was also feeling a bit grouchy. Sunday afternoon, Bill and I had lunch at a Georgian restaurant in Frankfurt. Georgia, as many people know, is a U.S. state. It’s also a country. If you want to know why there is a U.S. state named Georgia and a former Soviet country called Georgia, click here. When I refer to having Georgian cuisine, I mean I ate in a restaurant that specializes in cuisine that comes from the country of Georgia. If I had eaten southern food or “soul food”, I would have called it that.

In any case, just as I always do when I try a new restaurant, I wrote about it on my travel blog. I shared the link on Facebook. One friend posted this:

No grits? <ducking>

That was a dumb joke, but at least she realized and acknowledged it was dumb. She’s also someone who interacts with me often, so I felt charitable toward her obvious attempt at humor. I even laughed and pointed out that the restaurant had polenta, which is much like grits. Basically it’s the same as grits, only more refined and more often yellow. You can get yellow grits, but most people eat white ones.

Anyway, I thought the obvious joke had passed. But then I saw a comment from another person on a different thread that just consisted of pictures. It was– you guessed it– another obvious crack about the lack of black-eyed peas, cornbread, and watermelon (although the dish Bill had actually did have collard greens in it). And the person who posted it is someone who doesn’t interact with me very often. Usually, when he does, he makes silly jokes or schooling comments, which, for some reason, I find insulting and kind of demeaning.

Sit down until you think of something witty. I challenge you to be genuinely funny!

I don’t know this dude very well. We “met” on a now defunct online review site, where over about eleven years, I made about twelve thousand dollars writing product reviews. It wasn’t enough to live on, but when you consider I was just writing reviews of products I was using anyway, it was nothing to sneeze at. I know another guy who made $48,000 there, but he wrote thousands of reviews. The site had pretty high standards and an awesome community of talented and intelligent writers. A lot of them are still my genuine friends five years after the site sank into oblivion.

I remember from interacting with this guy on that now defunct site, learning that when he was a young man, he suffered an accident that put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Maybe being in a wheelchair makes him feel like he has to compensate for something. But I also know that he did well enough in school to earn a doctorate in psychology. So he’s not dumb, and I would not expect him to make dumb comments. I can’t see that he’s in a wheelchair, so that doesn’t affect my opinion of him (and wouldn’t even if I could see him). And yet, he often makes stupid comments on my Facebook page that, for some reason, really annoy me. It’s almost like he thinks I’m dumb, and won’t understand basic wit.

So what am I supposed to do in such an instance? Should I just laugh along hollowly, feigning delight at the inept stab at humor? Should I just ignore the comment, inadvertently inviting him to try again later? Or should I let him know in no uncertain terms that I find that kind of inane comment irritating?

Well, because I was feeling cranky last night, I decided to let him know his comment wasn’t appreciated. However, because I was raised to at least try to be nice, I wrote “pay attention”. Seems like that would be a clue… but then he came back and explained his comment, which was even more insulting. So I wrote, “I think we both know that you knew I was referring to the country of Georgia, rather than the state. If you’re going to try to be witty, do better. You weren’t the first person to crack that joke.” Then I added a winking smiley, because I didn’t really want to come across as bitchy as that comment probably was. I just wanted him to quit being inane on my page.

So then he deleted his comments. I kind of expected him to unfriend me, too, but so far he hasn’t. It wasn’t necessary for him to delete his comments, but I suppose my retort could have been embarrassing for him, so maybe he deleted his comments to save face. I don’t know.

I am a southerner, and for most of my life, I was raised to be “nice” and tolerant. Unfortunately, I have found that always being “nice” can lead to undesirable results. At the very least, always being nice and overly forgiving simply invites more of the same shit. You have to teach people how to treat you, especially when they’ve “come to you”. It would be one thing if I had posted on his page. He posted on mine. Yes, he’s a “friend”, but does that give him license to be dumb on my time and try to “force” me to laugh at his corny jokes? Is there something wrong with challenging him to think of something more clever next time?

I felt like Spongebob, faking being an idiot for Patrick’s “parents”, who weren’t really his parents.

I probably would not have had this reaction had this person been someone I interact with a lot. Real friends can be dumb on my page, because I know they’re real friends who don’t think I’m dumb, too. People I don’t often interact with who make “dumb” comments seem to imply that I’m also dumb. Or, at least that’s the way it comes across to me, especially when I know the other person isn’t lacking in intelligence.

I realize that this reaction is one that comes from my own “psychological sunburn”, as the perpetually annoying Dr. Phil would put it. I am the youngest daughter in my family and still, at the age of 47, get treated like I’m dumb by some of my family members. My sisters, for instance, often offer me unsolicited advice or question my decisions, even though I’ve never been in any serious trouble… at least not so far. I’m also a blonde, and some people seem to think that a lack of melanin in one’s hair follicles makes them “dumb”. I’m not a dumb person, though, and it gets super old being treated like I am. Moreover, I don’t like it when people expect me to laugh when I don’t think something is funny.

As is my habit as an “overthinker”, I Googled to see if anyone else feels the way I do about obvious jokes. I found a couple of interesting articles, neither of which were about what I was researching, but both of which gave me some food for thought. The first one was from The Guardian. It was written by a woman who was tired of being expected to laugh at racist, sexist, and off color jokes. And she was tired of being asked if she couldn’t take a joke when she didn’t find the jokes humorous.

The other was written by a woman with type 2 diabetes who was tired of reading simplistic jokes about diabetes. She pointed out that type 2 diabetes is a disease that has many causes, but there is a real stigma attached to the diagnosis, particularly for young people. A lot of people truly are ignorant about diabetes and I, for one, don’t think it’s funny that so many people have it. But I know people make jokes about how eating something sweet is going to put them in a “diabetic coma”. I can see why those who have diabetes wouldn’t think that was funny.

Anyway… I suppose if I knew this guy better, I might try to explain all of this to him. I might tell him that when he makes really corny, obvious, lame jokes on my page, it’s actually kind of offensive. But I know that being offended by obvious humor is one of my many “issues” that stems from a typically dysfunctional childhood… I’m a workin’ on it. In fact, I’m even reading a good book about how to get over being angry. Stay tuned for a review.


The $61 steak…

Last night, while we were enjoying wine with our neighbors, Bill reminded me of a funny experience we had with my Uncle Brownlee. The year was 2010 and we were living in Georgia, not too far from the Atlanta area. On Bill’s birthday, in July, we visited Craft Atlanta, which has now closed. Craft is a chain of expensive restaurants started by the great chef, Tom Colicchio. They are usually in major cities. I’ve only been to the defunct location in Atlanta and its more casual sister, Craftbar, which is also closed.

In 2010, we were still fairly broke. We had just moved back to the United States from Germany, and Bill was still paying child support for his youngest daughter. A visit to a restaurant like Craft was a real treat. We usually only went to nice restaurants for my birthday, but that year, I told Bill I wanted us to go out on his birthday for a change. So we did, and he chose Craft Atlanta for our celebration.

I’m glad we had the chance to try this restaurant before it closed!

I remember I had duck for dinner, and it came with family style sides of creamy mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted asparagus. Bill hesitated when he saw what he really wanted… a delectable rib eye steak that had been dry aged for 28 days. The price was $61, which was more than he’d ever spent on any entree at a restaurant.

Although the price gave him pause, I encouraged him to order it anyway. He did, and I noticed our waiter looked very happy. I’m sure it mostly had to do with his getting a bigger tip, but I also had a feeling he knew that steak would put a huge smile on Bill’s face. Sure enough, it did. It was probably the most delicious steak either of us had ever had. And, better yet, we had plenty of leftovers!

I just did a search to see if I posted about that meal on Facebook. I found this thread, which is not as exciting as it could have been.

I know I also took some pictures, including the one featured at the top of the posts. These were the days before I wrote restaurant reviews, except for the odd one on Epinions.com, which did not allow pictures.

Anyway, in November of that year, we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving. We were talking about Bill’s special birthday meal with some of my cousins. Uncle Brownlee happened to be sitting in the kitchen, passively listening to me describe Bill’s dinner while he held up the newspaper to read. When I mentioned how much the steak was, he dropped the paper and gave me the funniest, most profound WTF look ever… His mouth dropped open. His brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. It was almost like I said the f-word in front of my Granny or something. He was shocked. I wish I’d taken a picture of his face at that moment. It was classic. Brownlee is a very “salt of the Earth” type of guy. He’d never spend that much on a steak, no matter how good it is.

Bill tried to explain why the steak was so expensive, but Brownlee wouldn’t hear it and thought it was ludicrous that we’d spend so much on a piece of dry aged meat. He’s always been practical and frugal with money. He’d probably rather spend his money on a Hammond organ or building supplies for his next project. I used to love watching him work on his construction projects. I remember he’d find cast off supplies like old doors, cables, or odd pieces of wood and he’d turn them into something beautiful and functional, as if by magic. He also taught himself to play the organ by ear and was good enough to play in bands for years. I used to sing with him accompanying me at the Natural Bridge Hotel. His old friend, Donnie, who played saxophone and sang, would join us. Donnie died on Christmas a few years ago. I was really sad to hear about his death, too… also very sudden.

I haven’t heard any more news since yesterday. I talked to my mom last night and filled her in on what I knew about this situation. She doesn’t use computers and refuses to have anything to do with the Internet, so she wasn’t aware that Brownlee had had a setback. She did say that when Brownlee saw my dad in his final days, he’d made it very clear that he didn’t want his life to end that way and was not interested in life supportive measures that wouldn’t lead to recovery. I really can’t blame him. It’s highly unlikely that Brownlee could still keep doing all that he’s ever loved doing, even if they did everything they could to keep him going. I suspect that being an invalid would be more than Brownlee could bear.

It was heartbreaking for me to see my dad like that, tethered to many machines and hearing alarms blare with even the tiniest movement. All of that intervention was ultimately for naught, and cost a mint. Dad had managed to survive health crises before. He’d even had a feeding tube for awhile and although the doctors bluntly told my mom he’d never improve, he did improve for awhile. At least physically.

But when my dad had his gallbladder operation and couldn’t recover from the anesthesia, it was clear that his body had finally had enough. My mom asked the medical staff to disconnect everything and let my dad go. He didn’t want to go. He made it plain that he didn’t want to die by trying his hardest to keep breathing. Mom had to tell him to let go, which he finally did. He passed away peacefully, with an amazed smile on his face.

I love this house. Brownlee has done a wonderful job making it what it is. He did most of the masonry and built the railings on the steps. That big tree in the front yard was planted when my Aunt Jeanne died in 1995.

I think it’s going to be very hard for my family when we lose Brownlee. He lives in the family homestead– the house my father grew up in and the cornerstone of my memories of my whole family. I don’t know if his wife will be willing or able to maintain it. Her son– my cousin– is a professional musician in Nashville. Her daughter lives in Roanoke and has her own career. My aunt has her own health issues to worry about. But it really is a stunning, magical place. I love visiting there. It’s been too long since my last visit.

The other side of the property. There are two creeks that intersect. Up the hill is the barn, where we have parties.
A rare snowy day in November.
The road that runs in front of the house is named after my grandfather.
Wish I could move in there myself. I love the sound of the creek when I’m going to sleep. It’s hard to believe that my grandparents rented part of that house for a time. I think someone from our family has been there since 1935.

Anyway… I meant for this to be more of a lighthearted post than it’s turned out to be. I guess I really miss home. I continue to pray for peace and comfort for my loved ones.