“Happiness equals reality minus expectation.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.
Do not forget, National Be a Dork Day falls on July 15. It is also Return Your Tax Day. Also, have a safe, sane, and properly social distanced Independence Day.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL DISTANCING:
It has been a week or so since I have written here last. The only thing of note during that time was my trip to SF for my immunotherapy infusion and visit with my doctors. They indicated that I have responded well to my treatments so far — a tepid bit of cheer to say the least, but an appreciated one nonetheless.
I have tried to replace spending my time writing here every day with increased reading — mostly of trashy novels. My goal, for no reason but bragging rights with myself, was to read one book a day, a goal I mostly succeeded in reaching. I had decided to bury myself in comic fantasy novels because I could think of no other genre that would get me farther from self-quarantine with less effort. Two of the novels I chose simply because their covers were decorated with cartoons leading me to conclude their content was suitable for 12 year-olds. Upon reading them, however, I was surprised to discover they were perhaps more suitable for 17 year-olds.
One book told the tale of a bureaucrat from DICOMY (Department in Charge of Magical Youth) tasked with preparing a report about an orphanage located on a small island off the coast of Britain owned by a Sprite who also doubled as a cook, housekeeper and sometime teacher at the orphanage. The orphanage director was a mysterious man who would turn into a phoenix (a bird of fire) when agitated. In the course of the novel, the man from DICOMY and the director fall in love. He quits his department job and moves into the orphanage to be with the director-phoenix. There were only six orphans in all living at the orphanage, a sprite; a gnome (female) who was obsessed with gardening (of course); a boy who when frightened would turn into a small pekinese dog and begin yapping and peeing all over; a wyvern; a blob with two eye stalks who liked to hide under beds; and, a five-year-old boy who was the Antichrist. In the end, they all lived happily ever after except for the ferryboat captain.
The second book turned out to be the first novel in one of those never-ending series that continues on until the author dies or the public refuses to buy any more of his stupid books. It tells the story of a young man sailing a boat somewhere in the Bahamas who gets caught in a massive storm. During the storm, while trying to save a dog on another boat also caught in the same storm, he cracks his head on something and falls off the boat where he would have died except that he is somehow transported to another world where he lands on an island populated by beautiful women who appear somewhat reptilian (you know a few brightly colored scales on their otherwise uniformly beautiful human bodies) and all of whom want to have his baby. He happily complies with their request but, what makes this different from other books of this type is that in-between couplings he actually has adventures — like fighting and killing in great numbers orcs and wargs and many, many other creatures as well as conquering other islands peopled with women representing other species (deer and raccoons so far) who have similar designs on his reproductive organs as did his original reptilian fan club. I then read the following 4 books in the series that the author has written so far.
I could have taken mind-altering drugs to get me through the rest of this time of social-distancing but fearing the possibility of adverse drug interactions with the ten or so medicinal drugs I am now digesting, I decided I could just as well destroy my mind with books. I am not one who believes reading is only the road to enlightenment. It may also be the pathway to benightedness.
One delightful evening we went for a walk through some paths in the Enchanted Forest we had not explored before. The bright evening sunlight filtered through the trees left patches of darkness among the vibrant greens and browns of the late spring landscape. We came upon a large meadow with some benches. It was time for photographs.
Naida, Boo Boo the Barking Dog, and the meadow.
Pookie, Boo Boo and the Blue Hydrangeas
On other days on other walks, we came across the “decorated” duck statue.
And, on an early evening stroll, we came upon this:
One day, actually on several days, I drove into the Golden Hills and visited with Hayden. He has been working helping Dick to build the elaborate garden (flowers, vegetables, trees, paths, and terraces) around the house and also reflooring the deck outside of his man-cave bedroom.
“He was trying to act tough but he was just another skinny white kid trying to look tough. So, I took him aside and said to him, ‘You’re doing that because you think you don’t have any friends. Well, you’re wrong. You have us.’”
B. NOT BOOK REPORTS:
“Suddenly, your madness makes sense,” I said. “Not even you really know what you’re doing.” “Haven’t I told you that before?” “But now,” I said. “I believe it!”Montego, Greg. Ziegfeld Zaggar, Quantum Detective & the Dirty Rotten, Sarcastic Multiverse (The Quantum Detective Book 1).
A. Terry on Top:
This NYT Conservative Writer, Ross Douthat, has a pretty interesting point.Trump has taken, according to Douthat, the “decadent Reagan” philosophy (deficit obsession, dismantlIng the social safety net , strong military, globalization, etc.) that had been the bedrock of the Republican party and destroyed it (deficits galore). Period. It’s no more.He created a new Republican philosophy of authoritarian, nativism and sloppy ineffective government, which thrived until it didn’t; which has come crashing down leaving the Republican Party as a rump, with no base other than Trumps MAGA cohort.Douthat believes that Trump and Republicans are now in their “Retreat from Moscow“ stage, to use the Napoleon metaphor. It’s deep dark winter and all is lost! It has driven the majority of the country into the hands of the classic liberals that Republicans defeated in 1980. Or worse, “radical extreme leftists” whatever that means. I don’t know any. But I’m sure a few exist in the twitter world. From a practical point of view, the politics have seismically shifted. It’s no longer a question of whether the Democrats will win but by what margin and with what effect.To understand the future, one needs only to look at a similar period in the past: The 20’s and early 30’s. That was a period that included the 1918-1922 pandemic, the ‘29 stock market crash, massive income inequality, social disturbance, marches of the unemployed on Washington 1930-31, military intervention against peaceful protestors ‘31-32 ; it’s all happened before. We now call it The Great Depression.And, it led to the New Deal, when the pent up ideas of two decades of the progressive movement took Washington by storm and enacted a radical restructuring of the US economy. And they did it in less than a year. The “New Dealers” were all in their thirties or early forties. Imagine the so called “squad” led by AOC, becoming Assistant Secretaries of the then major domestic Departments of the Treasury, Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture, and you get a feel for what it was like.Now Biden isn’t going to lead with AOC, (although you never know) but he will bring in the millennials. Lots of them. And interesting “ radical” progressive ideas of the past will be enacted. Such as Senator Moynihan’s Guaranteed Annual Income (advocated by Nixon in 1969); Senator Warren’s breakup of Big Tech, which is what happened to ATT in the seventies being broken into the five baby bells; a screeching halt to globalization and the massive re birth of American manufacturing and it’s domestic supply chains as Senator Sherrod Brown has advocated for years. Suddenly they will have the votes. The filibuster has died; having been undermined and mostly broken by Mitch McConnell. The Democrats will hardly stand for it once in power. The American Economy will never be the same. What will it be? It’s up to the younger generation soon to take power. But it will be much fairer and much different. God bless them.FINIS Reaganism, Trumpism and McConnell’s icy indifference to his fellow man.And to Douthat’s point, it’s thanks to Mr. Trump. “It’s Trump’s Revolution”.It’s Trump’s Revolution,
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
C. Today’s Poem:
Adam Cast ForthWas there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,Almost for consolation, if the bygone periodOver which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,Might not have been just a magical illusionOf that God I dreamed. Already it’s impreciseIn my memory, the clear Paradise,But I know it exists, in flower and profusion,Although not for me. My punishment for lifeIs the stubborn earth with the incestuous strifeOf Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon.Yet, it’s much to have loved, to have known true joy,To have had – if only for just one day –The experience of touching the living Garden.By Jorge Luis Borges. translated by Genia Gurarie.
D. Pookie’s Musings:
E. Giants of History — Burma Richard,
So Near And Yet So Far — Part II:
Andrew and I hope to find the ancient lake from which the Wa people believe they crawled out of as the first people on earth, formed as tadpoles. The lake is on top of an 8,000-foot mountain which may originate from an underground spring. The lake, Nawng Hkeo is across the border in Burma and there should be a large river flowing down the side. From Ximeng we will go northwest to Shin Chang where according to our maps, one from the U.S defense department, with large swaths of landmarked, “relief data incomplete” and another world war 2 maps from 1943 on silk, there seems to be a trail into Burma.Up and down the trails are spiderwebs glistening with the morning dew. In the market of Ximeng, we bought blankets to warm ourselves on the slopes. Young Wa soldiers, kids really in green fatigues have the rising sun of the Uwsa, the United Wa State army stitched on their shoulders. Dogs prowl the streets faithfully waiting to be eaten by their masters. We have learned how to say I don’t eat dog in Chinese. The Wa are dirt poor and having a key worn around the neck is a treasure because it means you have something to lock up.I woke up and something had apparently bit me under my ear as it swelled up but there was no pain and the lymph seems to be normal. By noon it seemed to be all right. The bus to Shin Chang was completely full of people and huge bags of produce. We paid two people to get off the bus so that we had seats. Until the minute we left, we were struggling to learn Chinese phrases. On the bus we began to practice some Wa language with the Wa people copied from sir George Scott’s journals from the turn of the century. Surprisingly most of the words were still understandable. Andrew has an uncanny grasp of language.We passed through mountains of perfectly formed conical conifers like Christmas trees on winding switchbacks until the road abruptly ended at a massive landslide, cutting a gorge more than 300 feet across, washing the road away completely. Stones were laid into the mud traversing the crevasse and everyone on the bus as well as all the vegetable and Lancang beer was carried across to the other side. Another bus was waiting, and after another hour we arrived at Shin Chang where the entire length of paved road was 100 feet long and ended at a beer shop. “niplai” is the Wa word for “cheers”.The mountains rise dramatically shredding the clouds, and a waterfall in the distance must be well over 100 feet. Temperatures rise and fall more than 20 degrees f in minutes, baking hot then the fog rolls in like bales of thick cotton turning everything into mere shadows. To the west we can see Burma, and to the north is the village which we will hike to tomorrow if we can get the two hardy Wa guides we have asked for. That village is dai gu la or kola on some maps, a Wa village. I am sure that there have been very few foreigners in these hills for many years. In fact this area of Yunnan was only officially opened last year. This is China with the kids in the red scarves of the young pioneers. In these seemingly endless hills and mountains, there are only four or five lights to the north and a few more to the west. We are at the edge of civilization. Chinese tentacles reach through the whole of China, we hope it will be different in Burma.We woke up in Shin Chang at the Wa headman’s cement house. My sty was like a potato blocking the vision in my camera lens eye, but it was ripe and I popped it, mopped up the puss, and slathered the eyelid in antibiotic. We got two strong Wa porters and headed out for the march. The rice fields were framed in ferns and the trail was a combination of slippery mud, buffalo shit, and warm water, and ideal combination for the dozens of varieties of butterfly. Some were spotted green velvet with turquoise so bright it made my eyes water. Others vermillion with serrated wings lined with black, white, and pink.A few hours’ walk from Shin Chang we reached a Chinese border post where the authorities in green uniforms and red epaulets dotted with brass stars said we could not go on. Across the trail was a bamboo barricade painted yellow and black. It was the ideal vantage point over a huge expanse of the valley up the slope to dai gu la. After looking at our passports, and ascertaining that we had not crossed into China from Burma, the big boss said that we could continue for one day. I said that it was not enough so he offered us two. I asked him for three, and before answering said many times that we must not go into Mien Tien, Chinese for Burma. We lied and said that we wouldn’t.After about an hour and a half more we reached Dai Gu La village and rested. The mountains are unrelenting rising straight up, crisscrossed with streams. A few more hours walk brought us to Yung Gwang, the end of the trail. Apparently, the guards at that checkpoint had notified the police here in Yung Gwang and they met us at the entrance of the village. Telephone and electric lines extend everywhere in china to the furthest outpost, unlike Burma where communications in outlying areas is nonexistent.There are Wa houses with thatched roofs which extend high up and all the way down, nearly touching the ground. You have to stoop low to get inside. Andrew was met at the doorway by a very bored cow. There are a few old Wa women with silver hoops in their ears, wearing hand-loomed red striped skirts, and the lacquered black leggings holding up strips of cloth to protect their legs from leeches and sharp elephant grass. Their skin is like creased dark hardwood.There is only one trail into Yung Gwang made probably by the retreating K.M.T nationalist army who escaped into Burma at the end of their war in 1949. There is no place to hide. The guards told our porters whom we had already paid for the day the exorbitant price of 130 yuan each, or $15, not to take us as they had agreed to Burma and the mountain with the sacred lake which we could see in the distance. The porters left frightened. Here we are miles from the last bit of civilization where the trail ends, left with our heavy packs, my camera bag, and no fucking porters.To the north is Burma. To the west is Burma. In the distance, we can hear mortar fire at what we don’t know. The police that ordered our porters out of here had better get us, new porters, to get out of this place because there is no way I can hump my crap down this mountain. We are disappointed but not yet defeated.We were given a small room like a jail cell with open doors. There is no way to disappear, no way to head west into the mountains of Burma. Above the door is a huge spider and there is a beetle flying around the room that sounds like a b-52. Andrew and i are together and the room is lit with our candles. We eat trail mix, instant noodles, and are about halfway through the moldy french salami which is as big as a canoe, weighs a ton, and has been a joke from the very beginning. It is wrapped in plastic bags from every hotel we have stayed in and is a history of our trip thus far. Still, it stinks. I think that I’ll never eat salami again, I’m sick of the shit.
“Class: ‘Old money’ meant that it had been made so long ago that the black deeds that had originally filled the coffers were now historically irrelevant. Funny, that; a brigand for a father was something you kept quiet about, but a slave-taking pirate for a great-great-great-grandfather was something to boast of over the port. Time turned the evil bastards into rogues, and rogue was a word with a twinkle in its eye and nothing to be ashamed of.”Terry Pratchett, Making Money