arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Of Botany and Karma




First of all, dear readers, please look at the photo below.  Let me know if this plant now in my side yard is a weed or a legitimate form of flowering vegetation. Will it look pretty in a few days/weeks, or will it develop a mouth and digestive system which could swallow me whole if I got too close?*






If it is a weed I may endeavor to climb up the west face of my yard and hack it down.  I’m not exaggerating the danger for the sake of satire.

Weeding this plant will prove to be an adventure since my yard is on a slope and my gait is unsteady on level ground let alone a slope.  Remember readers, I broke my wrist when I fell from my yard last year.  


Now from botany we switch to an international application of karma.


Remember last year when the current president begged Russia to release the e-mails missing from Hillary Clinton’s server?  Good news, Mr. President, we found an e-mail!   Bad news, Mr. President, it’s not from or to Hillary, but it’s from your own son (Junior).  More bad news, Mr. President, the e-mail strongly suggests that Junior did in fact do something which you and your administration minions have strongly denied since you took office: colluded/schmoozed or otherwise canoodled with the Russians.


Oh boy!  It’s this type of news which warms the cockles of a liberal bleeding heart!


This story is still in its early stages, so this is one of those stay tuned for more developments narrative.   I dare say that we are easily a year-and-a-half away from any sort of impeachment proceedings, if it comes to that.  I have mixed feeling about it going this route.   I remember the Clinton impeachment seemed to be a long and convoluted affair—almost as long as the O.J. Simpson trial-- which distracted the country from more important things like Osama Bin Laden.  And we all remember what Bin Laden was planning for us?  


The whole Clinton impeachment was a national trauma from start to finish. I’m not eager to repeat it so soon. On the other hand even in his most arrogant days Clinton could not compare to the hubris which we have seen from the current President.  And if he is thrown then we are stuck with Pence in the Oval Office.  


As another fellow blogger is wont to say, “Oh the pain!”


*I would actually welcome this given the sucky summer I am having.


(Thank you for reading.  Give me e-mails or give me death by plant digestion.)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

July Blahs



If all goes well, this entry should be accompanied by a photo of the first fruits picked from my summer garden.  Two cucumbers and a trio of cherry tomatoes will debut and be consumed shortly.  There are a few more cucumbers growing on the vine outside our living room window, but I will let them ripen a few more days until they turn a dark green in their entirety.  At the moment they are green at one end, but still yellow at the other end.



I have very good luck with cucumbers, and in fact my luck is too good. I use them in my tossed salad, but I could only use one cuke in a week even if I eat a salad every day.  Then if I did that I would end up spending a small fortune in lettuce.  I end up with many more cukes then I need.  Most of my harvest will be taken into work for distribution to whoever wants to make a salad for their dinner.


I am grateful that my garden is doing so well, but otherwise I am in the grip of the summer blahs.  This morning so far has not been hopeful.   We invested in a new type of some sort of cooking utensil which resembles a cast iron griddle with a handle, but in fact is called comal or some such hi-tech name.  I tried griddling pancakes on this morning.  I don’t know what the main selling point of the product is supposed to be, but ease of cooking is not one of them.   I ended up scraping my corn cakes off with a metal spatula and a good amount of elbow grease.  The result was a pile of cooked corn meal which in no way resembled pancakes.  Sorry, I did not snap a photo of this gourmet disaster to display beside my cukes.  Readers will just have to use their own imaginations.


I will give the device one more chance to redeem itself, but I won’t try it today.


The morning also started with the loud barking of two dogs that live two doors down from us.  The curs!  Don’t they know it’s Sunday morning and the humans in their neighborhood have no use for their loud yapping at this time of the week?  Then I noticed why they were barking: the neighborhood fox trotted through my backyard like he was teasing his very distant cousins yapping away at him.  I yelled my customary “SCRAM” to the fox through my open window and he disappeared somewhere in the field behind our house.


The dogs barking were a rude awakening (literally) for Warrior Queen, who slept in well past her customary wake up time of 7:00.  She growled as to why the dogs were barking.  I explained that they were barking at a predator and offered her morning “happy juice”.  She is fine now.


The blahs are this season accompanied by an overall sense of neighborhood melancholia.  Neighbors on both sides of our dwelling have separated.  The wives from both unions decided at some point after their marriages of 15-20 years that they have had enough and moved on to what they believe are greener pastures. We’ve helped out the abandoned spouses as much as we can, but somehow we can’t help getting drawn into the same emotions that they are experiencing.


Damn you, empathy!


Then there is another friend of mine who has an incurable, ultimately terminal condition.  He moved to the other side of the county a few years ago, close to a number of friends who look after him, but otherwise he lives alone with a cat.   All of his friends near and far got into the habit of calling him at intervals just to see if he was all right.  I have made my customary call during the last three weeks, left messages on his cell phone, but have not gotten a return call or a message on our answering machine.


Naturally, my mind races to the worst possible conclusion that the inevitable has happened and we have no way to find out.  We don’t have the phone numbers of his other friends to see if they have heard from him in the last few weeks.  I am hoping that he has been so busy helping another friend who was planning to move in with him temporarily at the end of last month, and that it is nothing more than this keeping him from answering my messages. This all adds up to blah.


Still, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning with a forecast of lower temperatures and humidity.  I have my garden to weed and feed and grass to mow.  I have plenty to keep myself busy and allow the other dramas to play out to their inevitable conclusion.


And I will have a nice salad to eat in the meantime…and I am grateful for that.


(Thank you for reading.  Hoping everyone is a having a warm, but not too warm, season.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Another Trip Into the Archives: Fourth of July 2008*



Today we mark another anniversary of this continuing experiment in democracy called the United States of America.  It is an anniversary celebrated with parades, fireworks, backyard barbecues and lots of pats on the back about what a great country this is.  We should all agree on this point: America is a great country, but we must nevertheless acknowledge that we as human beings fall short of its ideals on many occasions.

Chris Satullo, a newspaper columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently suggested that we put our fireworks away and forego all the picnics for a moment of atonement .**  He reminded his readers about all the less than ideal incidences which have occurred in America’s name in recent years.  Satullo mentioned the abuse of prisoners at Abu Gharib and the detainees at Guantanamo held without due process as two examples for which we should be ashamed.  

Naturally, readers exercised their First Amendment rights and responded quickly.  The Inquirer only printed two letters – one pro and one con – but I imagine they received many more than this and I’ll bet more than a few of those called Satullo every un-American name in the book.  I feel sorry for these people who feel that America is great, but also believe it is not strong enough to withstand constructive criticism.

These are probably the same people that believe wearing a flag pin makes a person patriotic.   If only patriotism were that easy.  They forget patriotism is not a show, but is a deep felt faith in their country’s ideals.   America has wonderful ideals to uphold: liberty, justice for all, and peace and tranquility in an environment in which each of us can pursue our own happiness, among others.  

Some Americans see that these ideals have been soiled by the current administrations actions during the last seven years.  Other Americans would say that that last sentence is heresy and that I am un-American for even doubting our government’s wisdom.  So be it.  I would argue that Americans can criticize their country and still love it in the same way that an adult can love their own children and correct them to be better human beings.  Yet, we should denounce these adults as anti-children?  I don’t follow this logic at all.

Once again, we must separate criticism of the government‘s policies from the cherished virtues of the country.  Many people don’t want to do this and use their patriotism as a blindfold to the acts committed in our name.  It’s as if we capitulate our rights to question our own leaders and say, “Go ahead, do what you want to do to other people.  Just leave us get our morning coffee, fight the traffic to our jobs, and let us get home in time to see the latest reality show on television.”  Our leaders count on this apathy to justify their own selfish policies, even as they tell us they’re doing it for our own good.

I would not go as far as Satullo suggested as to give up our celebrations, but I do agree that we could take a moment to reflect on what our country has done and which direction it should take next.  This is our right…to think, to criticize, and to act.  We are after all Americans, engaged in this great experiment of democracy, working “to form a more perfect union.” 

*Originally published on this date in 2008.   The references are a bit dated,  but I think we need to be reminded of what America can achieve,  despite the efforts of the current regime to do otherwise.

**”A Not-So-Glorious Fourth”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1, 2008.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

An Update (7/2/2017)



It has now been a full month since my latest surgery which marks the significant date specified in my discharge instructions to start doing more things. More things, such as lifting my left arm above my head and lifting heavy objects (like laundry baskets full of clean clothes) to ease myself back into the routine of my life.   As of this weekend I will not able to milk the “Sorry, dear, I can’t do heavy lifting…doctor’s orders you know” any more.  Drat!  

I am also easing back into my exercise routine.  At one time, which was a number of years ago, I would do 45 minutes on my stationary bicycle.  In more recent times I have only been able to do 20 minutes at a single sitting.   In more recent times, say the past twelve months, I have struggled to reach that humble plateau.   I started yesterday and stopped after five minutes; today I made it to six minutes.  Slow and steady wins the race.

So for all those who wanted updates, I believe that I am getting better albeit slowly.  I will have more answers in a few weeks when I see my cardiologist.  In the meantime, I am sure I will still have the occasional shortness of breath, but I am already noticing that these events are not happening as often as they were earlier this year.

Still, it will be a challenge.  I am convinced that about this time last year I began sinking into a funk, not a full fledged psychological breakdown, but rather a decline in my overall emotional optimism into a depression that gnaws at my psyche.  My mental state may have influenced a worsening of my pre-existing heart condition.  A historical article in the morning newspaper recounted how President Calvin Coolidge’s grief at losing his son may have aggravated his cardiac health and contributed to his death at relatively premature age of 61.

My mental lapse somehow coincided with the rise and subsequent election of our current President.  Many might see my condition as an overreaction to his election and that he really isn’t as bad as my mind makes him out to be.
Oh, really?  Based on recent events I am now more convinced than ever that my depression is fully warranted because the President of the United States is a deeply disturbed individual.   His psychoses are contagious.

Yay!   Make America Sick Again!

The President’s most recent attacks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-anchor Mika Brzezinski has dominated the news cycle in the last few days,  drawing attention away from the GOP effort to outlaw healthcare in the country and more mounting evidence that Putin did indeed influence the 2016 Presidential election.

Misogyny reared its ugly head again in the President’s seemingly uncalled for and inexplicable Twitter attack on a morning news show.  Naturally the rants were followed by a round of condemnations, and many of these came from within the President’s party.
Strange and SAD.  Someone, anyone, should have seen this coming before they crowned this mental midget at the Republican National Convention last year.  Oh, right, the GOP was too busy selling its ideological soul to notice.  Now they condemn him?   WTF?

The Morning Joe hosts, Mika and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, responded eloquently to the President’s attack and endeavored to take the high road.  The President’s timing also showed a total lack of decency and decorum: Mika is still dealing with the recent passing of her father, the highly respected former Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski.  The President’s remarks on her mental well being and overall appearance came at a very vulnerable time for Mika.

To her credit, she stood up for herself, addressed the President’s wildly inappropriate remarks, and then went on a vacation, the start of which was delayed by this controversy.  The President felt compelled to respond to their response to his attack, which swallowed up another news cycle.  I sincerely hope that when they return from vacation Morning Joe will resist responding to the President’s attacks and shift the focus of the news cycle back to the healthcare bill in Congress and the growing investigation into the Russian influence on our democracy.

Lastly, I should mention my mother, Anne Lauren Gunther.  She would have turned 81 today.  In past years, there would have been a celebration and, at least once, a birthday cake resembling the American flag baked by my cousin Paula.  This year I will remember as much as I can about her. 

I won’t resort to the old Nixon protestation (“My mother was a saint.”) because to be sure she was human with flaws like the rest of us.  Still she loved me and gave me a good understanding of the correct ideals worth fighting for.  Okay, so she didn’t give me a good physical heart, but that is forgivable.

Thank you, Mom.

(Thank you for reading.  May everyone have a good day and a good heart.)