The First 20 or so Things That I Love as They Occur to Me in the Moment


Peggy, my wife of 51-years

The circa 1955 house in which we have lived for 32-years

Cats, cat art, cat poetry, cat cartoons, cat fiction, cat history, the cat goddess Bastet

Memories of my mother, my father, Peggy’s mother, my father’s mother, various dogs, and other beloved dead, some of whom I only know through what they left behind

Believing that my mother and father did the best they could despite their failings

Coffee in the morning

Not having to worry about running out of money—at least not very much

Having access to medical care

Blog friends who I will never lay eyes upon

My British friends, Michelle and Philip

Phone calls from Philip

My sister, Anne

My thoughtful and generous former neighbor, Ellie, who just brightened my day with an email

My longtime friends, Jackie and Kurt, who are coming to visit me today

The cartoons of Gary Larson and George Booth

Gomer Pyle’s sweetness, innocence, honesty, and natural ability to find the good in everyone

Ernie Pyle’s ability to write eloquently and perceptively about the war that made him miserable and finally killed him

My houseplants

The marigolds and elephant ears (taro) that I grow in my backyard planter; the petunias that I grow in my front planter

People who are kind to animals

People of exemplary integrity

Knowing that the world’s most generous people are often its poorest

Reading about knots, houseplants and other things in bed at night

Tying knots in the cords that I keep by my bed

Having been born in the first half of the 20th century because since childhood it has made me feel more mature than people like Peggy who weren’t born until the early 50s

Western movies and TV shows

Enjoying old movies and old TV shows with Peggy

The First 20 or so Things that I Hate as They Occur to me in the Moment

Meghan Markle

Big Pharma commercials


Big Corporations

the Far Right

the Far Left

Fox Network

People who neglect their pets, abandon their pets, or refuse to neuter their pets

People who kill animals for fun






People who force their religion upon others

People who cheat the elderly out of their life savings

People who use nonprofits like Wikipedia and the Public Broadcasting Service but dont support them although they could afford to


Some clarifications… (1) In order to keep the list short and to make it less generic, I went back and deleted such obvious things as Trump, Putin, and rapists. (2) When I say hate, I don’t necessarily mean hate with a capital H. For instance, a person can be a wonderful human being and also be a Catholic, so when I say I hate Catholics, what I mean is that I hate it that Catholics financially support a sexist and callous institution that destroys lives through its crass materialism, its opposition to birth control, and its shielding of pedophile priests. Same with hunters. Many hunters are moral, generous and otherwise kindly, yet I believe it impossible for someone to remain a hunter following mature consideration of the rights and feelings of other species. I don’t even feel capital H hatred for all neo-Nazis because many such people are young, lost, and desperate for a sense of purpose and belonging. However, as with hunters, I don’t believe that a person of depth and consistency can forever remain a neo-Nazi. (3) Other times, I do mean hatred with a capital H. For example, nothing that could happen to Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump would be bad enough to suit me. Meghan Markle is another story.

So why, in god’s name, did I include Meghan Markle, but having done so, why didn’t I also include Prince Harry? The answer to the first question that the couple are on my mind because every time I turn on news of late, there they are. The answer to the second is that I don’t necessarily think Harry is evil; I think he’s a weakling and a chump. A comparison…

Many years ago, I belonged to a lodge, and in that lodge was a fit, attractive, and popular widower (I’ll call him Larry) in his seventies, who could have had his pick of many of the lodge’s widows if he had wanted. Then came the day that a woman in her fifties (I’ll call her Barbara) transferred into mine and Larry’s lodge from another lodge where she had served as treasurer and was under a cloud of suspicion regarding some missing funds. I couldn’t stand Barbara who was smug, morbidly obese twice over, had an air of entitlement, boasted of her wealth (which I didn’t believe she had), used a walker, and couldn’t shut up about her many health problems. A few months later, Larry told me with wonder in his eyes and awe in his voice that he had “finally” gathered the courage to ask Barbara to go out with him, and—God be praised—she said yes. I thought Harry had lost his frigging mind because Barbara had bad news written all over her. In trying to understand his attraction, all I could come up with was that she was decades younger.

The more I saw Meghan Markle, the more I felt that she was a young and skinny version of Barbara, an estimation that was deepened by the fact she hailed from a family of opportunistic lowlifes. Obviously, good people can come from bad backgrounds, but I doubted that she was among them.

When William and Kate visited America recently, they arrived on a commercial flight, and Kate wore at least one rented dress during the visit. During the same week, Meghan and Harry flew to NYC on a private jet (they use private jets despite their claimed devotion to environmental activism) for an awards ceremony during which Meghan wore a designer dress. Meghan and Harry then tried to steal the show from Kate and William by releasing the previews of their upcoming three-part documentary in which they proclaim that Meghan was victimized by the press, the royal family, and particularly by Kate and William.

In one of those previews, Meghan demonstrated how she curtsied before the queen. It was not a real curtsy; it was how a child would curtsy in play or a grown-up would curtsy if she wanted to show contempt for the person she was curtsying to. Also, in the documentary were photos in which scores—perhaps hundreds—of members of the paparazzi was shown hounding Meghan. Only they weren’t. One such photo was taken at the release of a Harry Potter movie; another was of the press photographing a Trump associate on his way to criminal court; and other photos also failed scrutiny.

Ironically, Harry now claims that William and Kate were envious of Meghan because she was more popular than Kate as was evident from the tremendous press attention Meghan was receiving. Given how horrible Meghan claims it is to be pursued by the press, I should rather think that the envy would run in the other direction, and I would also think that she would be keeping a low profile to avoid future problems. But no, not Megan. She is greatly desirous of press attention now that she is using her claimed victimization to make more money in a year than most of us could make in several lifetimes.

So how did things turn out with Larry and Barbara? Barbara was permanently expelled from the order by the Grand Lodge of the State of Oregon for embezzlement. As for her ever loyal husband, he believed her lies about the charges against her being concocted by people who were envious that her talents and charisma had enabled her to rapidly assume offices that they had worked hard for. Larry immediately denounced his many long time friends, and he angrily resigned from an order in which he had been loved and to which he had devoted his adult life.

Had it not been for that experience combined with the fact that a citizen of my own country is doing her damnedest to bring down the British monarchy for personal gain, I probably wouldn’t hate Markle so. Ironically, I have no interest in the continuation of the British monarchy. As I write, the British government is claiming that it can’t afford to pay its nurses a living wage, and an elderly British friend is complaining that he is given a different doctor every time he becomes ill. I believe that the livelihood of nurses and the welfare of the elderly is more important than King Charles’ palaces. I think most people would agree, yet King Charles has spent 74-years living off the labors of others, and I think I can safely say that he gets to see whatever doctor he wants and that he doesn
’t have wait in line to do it. 

The world is often a place where bad people prosper and good people founder, and so it is that talentless celebrities like Markle sometimes bother me out of proportion to their importance simply because I attribute their success to the fact that they are so silly and obvious. Im surely old enough that I should be above such things, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not.

The Animus Behind Thanksgiving and other American Holidays


On November 24, America celebrated its second most popular holiday, Thanksgiving, which originated in 1621, when the 47 survivors of a contingent of 102 English religious dissenters celebrated their first Massachusetts’ harvest. As every school child knows, the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious liberty. What few school children know is that once they arrived, they murdered Indians (whose heads they displayed on posts), and crushed dissent from their own beliefs with stocks, pillories, execution, and banishment. 

School children are rightly informed that the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to that first Thanksgiving, but they aren’t informed that 95% of the indigenous population would soon be dead of European diseases and their survivors forced onto a reservation. Or that when a party of hungry women and children stepped across the reservation boundary to pick huckleberries, the Pilgrims slaughtered them. With the exception of the Pennsylvania Quakers, the coming of Christ to America was invariably marked by rape, theft, murder, enslavement, mutilation, branding, and forced conversion.

Thanksgiving lacks the mercenary aspect of Christmas, its focus being on families getting together to gorge on 46-million turkeys. Yet, it would be wrong to conclude that Americans are wild about turkey, which, during the rest of the year, is only found in nitrate-laden sandwich meat. However, the Pilgrims ate turkey, so we do too. The holiday is notably depicted in two paintings, one of armed Pilgrims walking to church (Americans might not care for turkey, but we love our guns), and the other of a family of white people preparing to devour a fowl so noble that Benjamin Franklin proposed it as our national symbol. 

As for the governmental celebrations, miscellaneous officials encourage prayer and—of course—thanksgiving, and radio programs that contain only bad news the rest of the year, suddenly talk about how wonderful life is. Then, there’s the annual presidential turkey pardoning in which America’s president of the hour formally pardons a random turkey for unstated crimes, thus allowing at least one turkey to escape the slaughter.

For millions of Americans, the significance of Thanksgiving is less about the day itself than the day after, Black Friday, the official kick-off of the Christmas shopping season. On some years, poor parents form long lines on Thanksgiving night so they can get into stores before the Season’s Hot Toys run out. People are occasionally injured in the opening melee and many more in the slug-fests that follow when stock runs low. I’ve heard rumors to the effect that a few poor parents are able to pay-off their children’s purchases before it’s again time to honor the impoverished Christ child.

This year, my mail carrier brought the happy news that a local store’s Black Friday Sale would begin on the preceding Tuesday. As everyone who isn’t in a coma realizes, the Christmas shopping season actually began in late August when Christmas trees (faux, of course) and plastic ornaments went on display amid the rollicking noise of Jingle Bell Rock and the angelic chords of O Holy Night. Scrooges and Grinches naturally gripe about Christmas decorations displacing other merchandise, with some even arguing that five months of Christmas might not be strictly necessary. 

Another big Thanksgiving event is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Back when the emphasis was on organizational floats, marching bands, and baton twirling young ladies from Dubuque, Iowa, or Montpelier, Vermont, I enjoyed the parade enormously. Now that Internet groups have largely replaced groups in which people actually get together in person, the emphasis is more upon hand-waving actors and lip-synching musicians than upon dogs jumping through hoops or acrobats from Wyoming. In my darker moments, I suspect that the primary purpose of the parade is selling movie tickets, Quarter Pounders, and Disney merchandisewhen I tuned in today, I was greeted by a Ronald McDonald balloon followed by a Green Giant float. Such cynicism didn’t blossom unwatered....

When, as a child, I began watching the CBS Evening News with my father, commercials accounted for 13% of the broadcast. They now run 31%, yet that number only includes the obvious commercials, other commercials being woven into the news itself. For example, the ABC, CBS, or NBC anchor will say, “Here is where you can find the best deals on the Christmas gifts you want most,” and the camera will cut to a shouting reporter in a noisy mall who will dutifully rattle off a list of products, prices, and store hours at selected national chains (selected how, I don’t know). Mind you, this is not a commercial, this is, as one anchor puts it, “The news that America cares about most.” 

I was largely ignorant of the extent of holiday commercialization until I was seventeen and took an after school job as the only stock clerk in a small town F.W. Woolworth’s. This was in September and in no time at all, Christmas merchandise began coming up the freight escalator faster than I could unload it. Smart fellow that I was, I had, of course, observed that Christmas involved gifts, but I had somehow overlooked the extent to which the impoverished Christ child had been reborn as a merchandising gimmick. Yet because birth lends itself to celebration, I didn’t find this particularly disturbing—besides, I had spent my entire life benefiting from it—but turning Holy Week (the week that Christ was tortured, murdered, and resurrected) into an excuse to Slash Prices on lawnmowers, chocolate rabbits, and women’s dresses was another matter. 

After Easter comes another solemn American holiday, Memorial Day, the main purpose of whichas I discovered at Woolworth’s—is to honor America’s war dead with the Lowest Prices of the Season on grills, lawnmowers, and patio furniture. Sales on July 4th (the day that celebrates America’s independence from horrid old England), I could understand because it really is a celebratory occasion, and Drastically Reduced Prices on beer, fireworks, picnic supplies, and sports equipment, certainly encourage celebration. 

Labor Day is another matter due to the perversity of “honoring” American workers by forcing millions of them to work harder and longer during yet another Biggest Sales Event of the Year. More recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has been added as another truly perverse holiday in that it honors a man who condemned excessive consumption by—wait for itencouraging excessive consumption with A Sale Too Good to Miss. America now has so many legal holidays (days on which many people get paid for staying home) that we’ve combined Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday into a single sales event called Presidents’ Day, which features Door Buster Markdowns on mattresses, appliances, and furniture. Of course, holidays don’t have to be this way….

Peggy and I celebrate Valentine’s Day with a kiss, even when kisses aren’t on sale. For Halloween, we display a half-dozen knickknacks of scary cats, scary ghosts, and scary pumpkins. For Thanksgiving, we place two cute knickknacks—one of a Pilgrim-clad gentleman squirrel and the other of a Pilgrim-clad lady squirrel—above the stove where we can enjoy them while preparing our feast of Tofurkey with gravy, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, walnut pie, and whatever else comes to mind. 

Christmas is our biggest decorating holiday, although gifts play only a small part in it. To whit... We each receive $200 from Peggy’s father; home-baked cheese-straws from Peggy’s sister; and various gifts from a reader of this blog whose generosity is such that she would buy us luxury cars and ocean cruises if she could afford it, not because of how special we are, but because of how special she is. We also prepare a meal that is a repeat of Thanksgiving, but with the addition of Spritz Cookies (made from sugar cookie dough put through a cookie press and decorated with “sprinkles”).

I’ll close on a comedic note by sharing a condensed version of how the long-ago Greek traveler Herodotus described a Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the holy city of the Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet. Although universally adored by the lower classes, the humble cat-goddess was scorned by the lion-worshiping nobility. Like the mother cats she represented, Bastet was austere yet cuddly, fierce yet protective, and above all things joyful. She told her followers to love themselves, and she ordained that her worshipers gather to have sex, drink wine, play music, dance, and otherwise celebrate being alive. Herodotus writes to us from 450 BC: 

“Now, when they are coming to the city of Bubastis they sail men and women together with a great multitude of each sex in every boat. Some of the women have rattles and rattle with them [note the rattle in Bastet’s right hand], while some of the men play the flute during the whole time of the voyage, and the others, both women and men, sing and clap their hands; and when they come opposite to any city, they bring the boat to land, and while some of the women continue to do as I have said, others shout and jeer at the women in that city, some dancing, and others exposing themselves. This they do in every city along the Nile; and when they reach Bubastis, they consume more wine than during the whole of the rest of the year. To this place (so say the natives) they come together year by year even to the number of 700,000 of men and women, besides children.”

A Trumpian Named Skarlatos


Page 1 of My Completed Ballot for the November 8 Election

Alek Skarlatos first gained attention in 2015 when he was one of three men who subdued a would-be mass murderer on a French train. He was honored for his bravery by the presidents of France and America; made the rounds of America's radio and TV talk shows; appeared on Dancing with the Stars; and played himself in a movie.

He is now a 30-year-old Republican who is making his second bid for the Congressional seat of Democrat Peter DeFazio who is retiring after 35-years. Skarlatos well represents the prevalent hypocrisy and immorality of the Republican Party and its voters. To whit...

He is using a 2015 photo of him and Obama to imply that Obama supports his right-wing candidacy, and although he staunchly opposes abortion, his ads claim that he supports health care for women, words associated with abortion rights.

In 2018, Skarlotos appeared on the podcast Drinkin' Bros to publicize his upcoming movie. The intellectual depth of the podcast can be inferred from the fact that much of the 45-minute discussion consisted of a light-hearted look at murdering women during sex. At one point, the host asked Skarlatos if he had thought about what would happen "if you choked someone and killed them in bed." Skarlatos replied, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah!" and he and the host laughed. Skarlatos then told about a 2017 Florida case in which a woman died of asphyxiation because her partner, in Skarlatos's words, "kept his dick in her mouth" while she strangled. Skarlatos said that the fact he was found innocent of intentional homicide proved, “He got off in more ways than one.”

Skarlatos also enjoys looking at Facebook photos of scantily-clad pubescent girls (he checks the "like" box), and he has bitterly complained that he has to leave his current home in Roseburg (population 29,000) to find dates because only two of the town's women are pretty enough to suit him.

Skarlatos doesn't deny any of this, although he complains that his opponent is playing dirty politics by mentioning it. He does say that he wishes he hadn't joked about murdering women, but, after all, he was ever so much younger in 2018. Will Republicans vote for such a man? God yes! They knew of his problems when they put him on the ticket, and; Republicans from all over America are pouring millions into his campaign fund (most days, Peggy and I receive at least one mailing each from Skarlatos). Finally, if they didn't hesitate to vote for Trump after he said the following, why would they hesitate to vote for Scarlatos: 

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump said. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” (Just last week, Trump was deposed by the lawyers of yet another woman who accused him of rape.) 

Skarlatos' contempt for women is akin to that of retired football player Herschel Walker, a Senatorial candidate from Georgia. Aside from the fact that he is semiliterate, Walker is like Skarlatos in that he has no qualifications for office except for the fact that he used to be famous. Also, Walker's life stands in stark contrast to his claim to oppose abortion and support family values in that he fathered several children out of wedlock (after being married), coerced at least two of the women he screwed to have abortions, and never paid child support until hauled into court.

Where is the moral bottom for a people who insisted that Bill Clinton should be removed from office for receiving blow jobs in the Oval Office because, "Character matters," only to ignore the depravity of their own politicians. Republican candidates and the people who support them claim to hold the moral high ground because they are "good Christians," but where is the evidence of their goodness? Given their previous political alliances, I believe that Republicans would vote for Satan himself if Satan presented himself as a gun-loving fascist who hated gay people, opposed abortion, and claimed that any election he lost was stolen. 

As I was about to put this online, I learned that Nancy Pelosi's husband had been attacked in their home by a hammer-wielding Republican. Given that the Republican Party officially regards the  the deadly capitol invasion as "legitimate political discourse," why should they not view today's attack as more of the same?

The Foulest Air on Earth

Today, I feel queasy, my throat hurts, and my lungs are congested. I am experiencing these symptoms because Eugene's air smells nauseating, looks orange, and is currently rated as among the unhealthiest on earth due to the Cedar Creek Fire, which is fifty miles to the east and has been burning for six weeks. It has thus far destroyed 122,000 acres, killed a 27-year-old Michigan firefighter, and is expected to burn until the arrival of winter rains. The air quality for Oakridge, the town closest town to the fire, is 566, which is off the chart (see below). When Oakridge was placed under a mandatory evacuation order last month, most of its 3,200 residents came to Eugene, and their pets and livestock were housed at the Lane County Fairgrounds.

Two years ago, the nearby McKenzie River Valley was hit by the Holiday Farm Fire (named after a Christmas tree farm). That fire burned 173,000 acres, damaged four rural communities, and destroyed the 600-resident town of Blue River (see video). Many Blue River residents camped in Eugene parking lots, and talks about rebuilding the town are still in progress.

The Eugene area had no large area fires last year, but we got weeks of off-and-on smoke from fires in southern Oregon and northern California. Major fires are new to the area, but are expected to become larger and more frequent. Summers here have always been dry, but they're getting drier. When Peggy and I moved here in 1986, the average daily high for the hottest month of the year was 79 F (26 C). It is now 85 F (29.5 C) with another five degree increase expected by mid-century. Four of Eugene's five hottest summers have occurred since 2015. Last summer, the airport thermometer hit 111 F (44 C).

What is America doing about the problem? Not much. One-third of Americans (nearly all of them Christian Republicans) either deny that climate change is real, or think God is causing it, and we can only end it by begging God's forgiveness for the sins of abortion, liberalism, gay rights, secular schools, gun laws, vaccination mandates, interracial marriage, mail-in voting, Hispanic immigration, and the theft of the 2020 presidential election.

According to the deniers, only a complete fool would believe that the world is getting hotter when snow falls every winter. They say that if it were real, the Bible would have predicted it, and Donald Trump wouldn't have accused the Chinese of lying about it. Sean Hannity, America's most popular conservative media personality, went so far as to say that he wishes climate change were real because he hates cold weather. Perhaps no one has told him of the downsides.

Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health Concern Colors
When the AQI is in this range: ..air quality conditions are: symbolized by this color:
0-50 Good Green
51-100 Moderate Yellow
101-150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Orange
151 to 200 Unhealthy Red
201 to 300 Very Unhealthy Purple
301 to 500 Hazardous Maroon

One Man’s Road to Atheism

To my regular readers, some of the following will be familiar. Most will not.

I grew-up in an ultra-fundamentalist denomination named the Churches of Christ (people shorten it to Church of Christ). The women in my congregation weren’t allowed to teach Sunday school, and the men didnt want to, so the preacher, Brother Miller, held a Saturday morning Bible study. That was where I first questioned God’s compassion and integrity at age eleven after learning that he had ordered the Israeli army to repeatedly commit rape, genocide, and the senseless slaughter of pets and livestock (in Numbers 31:17-18, for example). 

I afterwards spent years praying for guidance so that I might reconcile Biblical passages in which God is described as petty, jealous, violent, and vengeful, with passages in which he is portrayed as loving, generous, peaceful, and forgiving. I mostly did this by praying for guidance and then pointing to a Bible verse at random hoping for a message. When my finger consistently landed upon unhelpful verses, I concluded that God was mocking me, and I lost all trust in him, although I lived in such fear of hell that I did my best to deny it.

When I was twelve, I was running my paper route when I told God that I shouldn’t have been surprised that he abandoned me given that he had abandoned his own son (Matthew 27:46). Within moments, I concluded that I might have committed the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:31-32). Years passed during which I was desperate for reassurance but too ashamed to tell anyone what I had done.

My fear of hell only abated in my twenties when I concluded that God didn’t exist. Unfortunately, my emotional need to believe in him continued because I had been told since infancy that a life without God is meaningless. While I found it easy to jettison the Church of Christ’s other beliefs, this one stayed with me. But I’m going to go back a bit...

When the events of which I am about to speak occurred, I was a rural Mississippi teenager who, through no choice of my own, was becoming the sole liberal in an area network of Churches of Christ. I initially kept my liberalism to myself as I preached short sermons, led prayers, presided over the weekly communion table, traveled with preachers to out of state revivals, and otherwise presented myself as a minister-to-be. Unknown to others, I was also struggling to believe that God existed and that he was good. 

I couldnt tell anyone about my doubts because the Church of Christ maintains that non-belief is a very serious sin (if not the unpardonable sin). If I had confessed to it, I would have been expected to move beyond it quickly, yet I had already failed in that. This meant that I would lose lifelong friends and be shut-out of an institution that was  central to my existence. Along with the problems already mentioned, my faith in God also suffered for other reasons. 

For instance, year after year and in sermon after sermon, I heard preachers tell of “countless Christian boys” who became drunkards or suicides after attending liberal Northern universities where their faith was destroyed by atheists, liberals, Communists, secular humanists, and Godless professors. When it came to condemning the sinners in their own congregations, preachers were reticent. Indeed, they often praised them for being the kind of people God prefers in that their relative poverty and ignorance supposedly makes them aware of their need for him, unlike the educated fools of Northern universities who are puffed-up with conceit and trust in their own understanding rather than in God. (Matthew 11:25; I Corinthians 1:27).  

The more I heard faraway secularists criticized, the more my interest in them grew because I was desperate to talk to someone who could understand the reasons for my doubts. Unfortunately, I didn’t know a single nonbeliever, so when I finally did choose a confidant, that person was a young Church of Christ preacher from another part of the state. As it turned-out, listening to sincere doubts was not his forte, so he quickly interrupted: Im not going to sit here and listen to you blaspheme my Jesus, and if you keep doing it, Ill have to ask you to leave.” My fear of such a scenario was what had kept me silent for years, so I knew that if I ever confided in anyone else, that person would be a nonbeliever. I had no idea what he or she might say, but at least it wouldn’t be the dismissive bromide that ministerial students were fond of repeating to people who interpreted a Bible verse differently than they did: God said it; I believe it; that settles it.

Because I so longed to meet a Northern infidel, I got to wondering if it would be possible to recognize one on sight. I finally settled upon the image of a white male who was blunt, balding, intellectually intense, worked in a suit, spoke with an upper Midwestern accent, and had no patience with sloppy reasoning (when The Fugitive TV show aired in the mid-sixties, I found my man in Lt. Gerard—see photo). However, I was much more interested in liberalizing the Church of Christ than in abandoning it, and was naive enough to imagine that I could. In fact, the truth seemed so obvious to me that I was certain that it would be obvious to anyone once I pointed it out.

So it was that during my last year of high school (1966-67), I wrote liberalizing articles for my congregational newsletter in order to convince its readers to adopt a kindlier version of God. What follows is an encapsulation of those articles, none of which were published.

I told my “brothers and sisters” that a loving deity would find it impossible to condemn people to eternal hell simply because they didn’t belong to a particular church. This statement wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in many denominations, but the Church of Christ doesn’t regard itself as a denomination but as, “…the one true church to which God will send anyone who sincerely seeks him, even if that person is blind, illiterate, impoverished, never heard of Jesus Christ, and lives in Communist Siberia.”

“If it is true that God sends all sincere seekers to us,” I continued, “why is it that everyone in our congregation was either born into the Church of Christ or married into it? What could be more obvious than the fallacy of this teaching unless it’s the fallacy of teaching that the Church of Christ has existed continuously for 2,000 years with its doctrines intact when the truth of the matter is that our doctrines aren’t even intact today. For example, our congregation uses lots of tiny glasses for communion while a nearby congregation uses a single large glass (I Corinthians 11:25), and they say we’re going to hell because we deny the obvious truth of God’s way. 

“There’s the question of whether women should be allowed to speak in church, even to make announcements or lead Sunday school classes. Our congregation allows neither, and we say that those who do are going to hell (I Corinthians 14:34). Then there’s our prohibition of instrumental music simply because it’s not mentioned in the New Testament. Again, we claim that every every person over the age of accountability (around age 12) who attends a church that has a piano is going to hell.”


When my submissions were ignored, I concluded that my presence was no longer wanted, so I started attending a nearby Episcopal Church where the people were as appalled as I by Church of Christ doctrine. Right up until my articles were ignored, I had loved my church, and I had believed its people loved me. I had even tried to believe that God loved me, but that had proven increasingly difficult given my growing doubts and my early memories of hiding under the bed to escape God’s wrath. I could see myself in the Old Testament story of a man whom God had killed for making a single mistake despite that man’s sincerity in serving God (II Samuel 6:6-7). I concluded that such a God is worse than Satan because at least Satan doesn’t falsely claim to love anyone. 

Then there was the question of why Christ acts like an insane boyfriend who says he will kill us if we don’t love him, but, unlike an insane boyfriend, will know if we pretend. The angels supposedly love him, so how is it, then, that one-third of them followed Lucifer into rebellion? Given that God needs our love, shouldn’t he at least make it easier to give? Christ complained of the Pharisees: “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden,” (Matthew 23:4), yet God had treated me similarly.

I was attracted to my local Episcopal Church for its beautiful sanctuary, its lovely rituals, its kindly deity, and its priest who I adored, yet by the time I joined, I had come so far down the road to non-belief that when Father Hale left and I distrusted his replacement, my doubts came roaring back. For example, why, if God is so good, is life so hard? Why would a perfect God author a book filled with inaccuracies, contradictions, and absurdities? And how can anyone seriously examine the basis for his or her beliefs yet remain a believer?

I could go on writing, but after many weeks and dozens of hours spent regurgitating painful memories, I am ready to be done now. This has been a hard post to write, and I don’t even know why I wrote it.

Why I Will Shoot You Dead if You Try to Take Away My Assault Rifle

Democrats are too stupid to realize that gun control laws won’t work because criminals won’t obey them. 

Gun violence is the price that a freedom-loving people pay for living in a free country.

Without guns, peace becomes impossible. 

Despite having strict gun control laws, the people of Chicago and New York City shoot one another all the time. Clearly, gun control doesn’t work.

Guns aren’t the problem; guns are the solution. 

Problems precede solutions, so if we didn’t have guns, finding a solution to gun violence would be impossible. What is the solution to school shootings?...

Arm every teacher, close every window, lower every blind, station armed guards at every door, install body scanners, x-ray backpacks, and use any and all other means to protect our children as long as those means don’t impinge upon the Constitutional right of every American to go through life armed-to-the-teeth in order to protect themselves.

Emotions are running too high right now to discuss gun control. We should wait until we’ve gone a year or two without a mass shooting.

If Democrats really cared about protecting children, they wouldn’t politicize the problem. This just goes to show what hypocrites they are.

America doesn’t have a gun problem; America has a mental health problem. This is why so many Americans are crazy.

Remington plans to name its new high capacity assault rifle The Uvalde in honor of the children who died needlessly because their teachers weren’t armed. Gun manufacturers aren’t interested in making money but in selling good people guns so we can protect ourselves from the bad people they sell guns to.

Biden’s goal isn’t to protect our children, but to take away our guns so we can’t stop him from taking away our other freedoms. Democrats only voted for a man like that because they hate their country and want to destroy it.

I feel close to God when I send my thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. I know that prayer works, and that God will protect the people I’m praying for. Their kids might be dead, but my prayers will at least keep the parents safe.

Teachers who are unwilling to shoot people who threaten their students should go to work for KFC or some other place that mass murderers don’t frequent. 

God, not man, gave me the right to keep and bear arms. Giving up my guns would be like throwing God’s gift back in his face, and only a fool would throw things at God.

If Obama didn’t believe that guns protect people, he wouldn’t hide behind heavily armed bodyguards.

A lot of us Republicans are unwilling to pass laws to save the lives of children, but if it was pregnant women who were being murdered, that would be another matter because we care deeply about fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. It’s only after babies are born that we lose interest, it being hard to love things that shit on themselves.

To summarize why I love guns in one word: Samuel L. Jackson.

Women need guns more than men because they’re the ones who get raped. I’m a 73-year-old man, and if someone tried to rape me, I would say, “Dude, are you blind!?”

God only helps those who help themselves, and he gave us guns for this purpose. Don’t ask for God’s help until you run out of bullets.

Every dumb-ass knows that fewer assault rifles would mean fewer dead children, but living guns are more useful than living children.

I saw an inspirational t-shirt at a gun show that read “A Lot of People Are Only Alive Because It Would Be Illegal to Shoot Them.” Graveyards would contain a lot more dead people if I could have legally shot every asshole who pissed me off.

The gun lobby speaks for me when it says, “I will only give up my gun when they pry my cold, dead finger from around its trigger.”

John Lennon speaks for me when he sings Happiness is a Warm Gun. Every time I hear that song, I remember that God always makes things happen for a reason, and the only reason he could have for making a man who was killed by a gun sing about how much he loved guns is that God loves guns.

Carrying a gun makes me feel I’m God because it gives me the power of life and death. For instance, I’ll be walking down the street smiling ear-to-ear because I’ll be thinking that if someone looks at me funny, I can shoot him dead right then and there because no matter how bad-ass he is, my .357 magnum makes me badder. That’s one hell of powerful feeling to have, so imagine how much more powerful that man in Vegas must have felt when he shot not just one person, and not just 100 people, but 500 people! Every time I replay the sound of his big old .50 cal, it gives me goosebumps because that’s how God sounds.

Foreign women drool and faint when they’re in the presence of an American man because they know that only men who carry guns are real men. Compared to American men, European men are like cardboard cut-outs that become flaccid in the rain. This is why European women would trade any fifty of their men for a single American man.

While it’s true that some children die after getting shot, the tough kids and the resilient kids walk away stronger for the experience. What’s more, every last one of them leaves the hospital knowing that if they had been carrying an assault rifle that day, the only corpse would have belonged to the bad guy. 

I personally look forward to the day when a school shooting survivor stands up at an NRA convention and tells the world how important it is that every American twelve years old and older carry an assault rifle. Ukrainian kids do it, yet Ukrainian kids are sissies compared to American kids.

If you don’t love guns, then you can’t love children because God made them both. Satan made Democrats, and because Satan is a liar, Democrats are lying when they say they care about children.

If we made gun ownership mandatory, people would treat one another better because they would be afraid the other man might shoot them before they could shoot him.

If we banned guns, mass murderers would use bombs, which means that not only would more children be killed, the schools themselves would be destroyed. I’ve heard Democrats argue that if the students were all dead, the schools wouldn’t be needed, but they only say this because they’re too stupid to realize that empty schools could be turned into homes for the elderly.

I need guns to protect me and my family. Without a gun, what am I supposed to do when my second grader is being shot at—throw sardines?

Except for the ones who own guns, students, actors, teachers, and emergency room doctors have no business talking about gun control because they’re prejudiced. I knew a man who wouldn’t even take a shower without his .45. Now, that’s the kind of man who has something useful to say about gun control. The world would be better off if we all stayed in our lane instead of straying into other people’s lanes. Too many wrecks happen that way.

God couldn’t be everywhere, so he gave us guns. “Thank you, Lord, for sending your son to die on the cross so that the people of America can own all the guns we want. We commit our lives to serving you, the NRA, and Donald Trump. Let’s hear it now: USA! USA! USA!

Even if we destroyed every gun on earth and made it impossible to replace them, people would still get shot, and their survivors would still need guns to keep other people from getting shot.

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Until I pick it up, my assault rifle is no more dangerous than the Easter Bunny, but after I pick it up, my neighbors run behind a concrete wall.

I’ve kept one loaded assault rifle on my coffee table and another beside my bed since 1989, and none of them guns has shot a single person. The only time that one of them even went off was when my wife forgot to engage the safety while dusting it. The only “person” killed was her piano, which was shot 24 times, but she didn’t play it anyway.

Crime goes down when gun ownership goes up because when there are millions of guns on the market, criminals don’t have to steal them. This is what’s called a reverse ratio.

Criminals are less likely to shoot at you if they know you’re carrying a gun. This is especially true if they can see that your gun holds more bullets than their gun.

Gun violence exists because bad people have too many guns and good people have too few guns. If we make gun ownership mandatory, bad people will be outgunned.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives me the right to buy all the guns I can afford and to carry all the guns my arms can hold. 

The Uvalde shooter, like all mass murderers was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.” ( Therefore, the goal shouldn’t be outlawing guns but imprisoning illegals, chicken-shit cowards, Hillary Clinton, and Democrats who run pedophile sex rings out of DC pizza parlors.

I have given you a lot of sound reasons for why I will shoot you dead if you try to take away my guns. If you still don’t see things my way, you’re either an idiot or a Communist, and I hope you rot in hell. 



P.S. I’m going to be real with you now. If you think I made all this stuff up, visit the NRA website, listen to right-wing legislators, talk with gun loving family members, tune-in to conservative talk radio, and check-out gun rights newsgroups. No one does more to make the gun lobby look like a walking nightmare than the gun lobby itself. Just as the Republican Party has labeled the attempted violent takeover of the US government on January 6, legitimate political discourse,”* it has been bought-and-paid-for by people who claim to be Christian, yet have no particular problem with children being so mutilated by exploding bullets that their faces are unrecognizable.** Despite their worship of Satan in the form of an assault rifle, these Republicans claim that their love for Christ gives them a monopoly on love and morality. Were it not so, the 268 mass shootings that have occurred in America as of June 1, might be hard to stomach.



A Life in Pain


As my regular readers know, I’ve suffered from significant middle-back, shoulder, and knee pain for many years. Eighteen months ago, I started developing low back pain. In February, it got so bad that my pain specialist ordered an MRI. When the radiologist said I might have a tumor, the pain specialist ordered a follow-up MRI. The second MRI didn’t show a tumor, but it did show “degenerative changes of the lumbar spine.” Perhaps, these changes were put in motion when I broke my first lumbar vertebra in 2013.

Over the years, I’ve had to give up hiking, biking, camping, and even neighborhood walks, but I was somehow able to do yard work. Yesterday, just getting my tools out for yard work left me in so much pain that I came indoors. I can still do light housework, but it has started leaving me winded. My internist suspects a heart problem, so he ordered a number of tests, the last of which is scheduled for tomorrow. I wonder if the problem could simply be caused by holding my breath because of the pain. 

I have been in worse pain (pain that felt like being stabbed in both shoulders with ice picks), but I’ve never been so nearly devoid of hope. Oxycodone helps, but getting enough oxycodone is impossible. Because I’m at the top dosage of oxycodone, the pain specialist suggested morphine or Dilaudid, but I hate to go to a new drug because of the time it would take to reach an effective dose. A major fear of mine is that the anti-narcotic forces will persuade legislatures to deny narcotics to people in chronic pain. If that should happen, I would have to either live in utter misery or shop the Dark Web for Fentanyl. Because Peggy is opposed to the latter, I would be in an impossible situation. 

I stayed awake for my prostate surgery last month. When I told the anesthesiologist that the surgical area felt fine, but that my back was killing me from lying on the hard surgical table, he gave me dose after dose of Fentanyl until I was completely free of pain for the first time in a long time. If I could feel that way everyday, it would be worth dying sooner, because the life I’m now living hardly qualifies as life.

I wrote the above yesterday, not knowing if I would put it online (I have come to share very little of what I write, either online or through correspondence). When I got up this morning, the following all but bubbled out of me, and I think I might put it and what I wrote yesterday online. Here is what years of living with chronic pain has been like…

A toothache that is horrible at times, and less horrible at other times, but is always there. Feeling like a physical and emotional weakling. Feeling that the person I used to be has gone away, and I don’t know where to find him. Not being able to enjoy things. Not looking forward to things. Not liking anything or anyone. Blaming myself for being in pain and for letting it rob me of a happy life. Not being able to concentrate or remember things. Being edgy, and feeling like a fool for being edgy. Suspecting that the world is full of people who are in more pain than I but are handling it better. Avoiding social engagements. Knowing that people will pity and avoid me if I tell them how much I hurt.

Looking forward to doctor’s appointments because doctors are friend substitutes who won’t reject me for telling them how I feel. Drawing-in on myself so I don’t have to deal with challenges. Dreading being in even more pain and losing even more mobility. Being awakened throughout the night by pain. Structuring my life around pain-avoidance. Wondering how I am going to pay for the household jobs that I can no longer do for myself. Tensing my body because Im afraid to relax. Holding my breath because breathing hurts. Feeling like a cripple, an invalid, a has-been. Feeling sorry for Peggy because she married a loser. Wondering where my friends went. 

Feeling like I’m losing my mind. Wondering how much longer I can hold-on. Worrying that pain and medicine will shorten my life. Feeling that if I were stronger, I wouldn’t need so many drugs. Blaming myself because I haven’t found a way out of the pain. Knowing that no one on earth understands what I’m going through because I look like a normal person. Wondering if people think I’m making it all up. Wondering if people consider me a boring whiner. Believing that I should avoid people because no one would want to be around me anyway. 

I won’t even try to wrap this up with a satisfying conclusion. I will instead put it online pretty much as I wrote it.

A Post-Surgical Update


Here is how Johns Hopkins describes the surgery I had on Thursday: “A transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is surgery to remove parts of the prostate gland through the penis.  The surgeon reaches the prostate by putting an instrument into the end of the penis and through the urethra. This instrument is…12 inches long and .5 inch in diameter. It contains a lighted camera and valves that control irrigating fluid. It also contains an electrical wire loop that cuts tissue and seals blood vessels. The wire loop is guided by the surgeon to remove the tissue blocking the urethra one piece at a time. The pieces of tissue are carried by the irrigating fluid into the bladder and flushed out at the end of the procedure.”*

Four days post-op, I’m seriously fatigued and bored out of my mind, but aside from the fact that it hurts to pee, my pain has been minor. I can slowly start working my way toward normal functioning in two weeks, at which time I’m supposed to let bleeding be my guide to what I can do.

I told the anesthesiologist (a delightful man named Albert Cho) that I wanted to stay awake for what was supposed to be a 90-minute surgery—but ended up taking two hours—and he readily agreed. There being a drape between us and the other five or so people in the room, we had an intimate conversation that I would enjoy sharing if I knew he would be okay with it. 

Surgical tables are hard, and the longer I lay there, the more my back hurt. When I asked for relief, he gave me Fentanyl. The pain didn’t go away until I hit 200 mcgs, an apparently large amount that I could only tolerate because I’ve taken narcotics every day for years. Fentanyl is awesome. I was wearing a Fentanyl patch when I crushed my thumb (after breaking my back) in 2014. When I realized that I had closed the bathroom door on my thumb, I said to myself, “That must hurt...” and then, By god, it does hurt!” and I opened the door.

When the surgeon visited me in recovery, I asked if there had been a problem, and he said no. I knew this couldn’t be altogether true both because of how long the surgery took, and because there had come a point at which the people on the far side of the drape had switched from talking to whispering. When he left, I asked my nurse (who hadn’t heard my conversation with the surgeon) what had happened, and she said I had bled more than expected, and the surgeon had thought it prudent to keep me in surgery a while longer. 

Recovery rooms are dismal places, what with people moaning, puking, and talking out of their heads—and that’s just the nurses—but I couldn’t go to a room because they were all occupied. I worried that I might have to spend the night in recovery (which has sometimes happened at Peggy’s former hospital), but my nurse predicted that I would be out of recovery in an hour or two, and she was right. My room being ready, off I went to meet my nurse, 27-year old Kristina, with whom I felt an instant rapport. I was so happy to have the surgery behind me that I babbled like a chimp. Before our time together ended, I was in envy of the man whose luck it is to be her father.

I left surgery with a double lumen urinary catheter, which consists of one tube carrying sterile water in, and another tube draining blood, clots, and urine out. Before entering my urethra, these tubes were joined together in a larger tube, which was taped to my thigh at one end and secured to my bladder with something resembling a balloon at the other. The balloon’s pressure made me imagine that I had to urinate, but there was nothing I could do about it. Nearly all of my post-op pain is due to the fact that it hurts to pee. My penis is black and blue, and my urethra feels sunburned, yet all of my post-op pain combined is minor compared to the back pain I’m in daily.

Most hospital nurses work twelve-hour shifts (hospitals appearing to be okay with the fact that consecutive twelve-hour shifts result in medical errors, job burnout, and car wrecks involving nurses who fall asleep at the wheel), so at 7:00 that evening, Kristina was replaced by Yani, whom I also liked and trusted. Before Kristina left, she said she would see me the next day. An hour before shift change the next morning, Yani said the same, so imagine my dismay when a gruff man with a loud voice—and a student nurse in tow—was introduced as my new nurse. I seek to avoid loud people, so his volume combined with my unhappiness over what I regarded as his hypermasculine persona, led to an unhappy relationship. On the other hand, he seemed competent and showed pride in his work, so my only real objection was that I didn’t care for him, and I didn’t think he cared for me. 

I tried to find out why Kristina had been replaced, but no one knew, although they admitted being surprised by it (I also learned that Kristina had spoken highly of me). I hate having to put up with things that make no sense to me, especially when I’m paying for them.

Before being sent home, I had to pass a two-part test. In part one, I had to pee into a urinal and show the result to my nurse. Part two was identical to part one. Had I flunked, I would have been sent home with a catheter that drained into a small bag during the day and a large bag at night. I easily passed, but my urine continues to be bloody, and I’m told that it might remain that way for quite some time. When I’m not peeing blood, I’m dribbling blood, but the nursing student who prepared me to go home offered nothing with which to catch the dribble. When I asked what she proposed, she gave me a stack of abdominal dressings, but I found that blood passed right through them, so I switched to stuffing my underwear with old washcloths, which cost nothing and are adequate for the task. Some men spend the rest of their lives dribbling, so I can but hope for the best.



On Last Week’s Surgery and this Week’s Surgery

Last Friday (April 8), I had a posterior capsulotomy. This is a laser procedure in which a hole is cut through a cloudy, post cataract surgery lens in order to allow the cloudiness to dissipate. So far, I’m not seeing any great improvement in vision, but the resultant floaters are driving me nuts. They are large and appear to move more rapidly than ordinary floaters. Depending upon where I am looking and how distant they appear, I mistake them for gnats near my face, roaches on countertops, and spiders on walls and floors. Yesterday, I sidestepped what I mistook for a mouse crossing my path. I am told that the floaters will “probably” get better.

Later this week, I’m to have a transurethral resection of the prostate, which is the name of a surgical procedure that’s performed through the penis in order to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate. Death is unlikely (one man in a thousand), but incontinence afflicts ten out of a hundred, five of them long-term or permanently.

I’m up to twenty-plus surgeries depending upon what one counts as a surgery (is a posterior capsulotomy a surgery?), but instead of growing accustomed to them, I dread them increasingly because: (1) the risks worry me more; (2) the care I receive is often impersonal and sometimes egregiously callous or glaringly incompetent; (3) Whether they’re minor or major, somewhere along the line of the many people and departments that are necessary to make a surgery possible, mistakes happen, always; (4) The older I get, the more slowly I heal; (5) I have to be at the hospital hours before I usually get out of bed, and surgery is a crummy way to start the day; (6) I chafe under the limits imposed upon me during convalescence (I’m not supposed to lift more than ten pounds for six weeks following this surgery, which is nothing compared to the limits imposed after rotator cuff repairs and major joint replacements).

I try to reconcile myself to the things I fear or dislike by remembering that, if things go well, my life will be better for having had the surgery, and that I should be grateful to have access to medical care that is denied to most of the world’s people. In the 1950s, I saw my impoverished grandmother go blind in both eyes for want of cataract surgery, and after five hernia repairs, I know something of how miserable and limiting hernias are (I try to put myself in the shoes of a poor laborer whose family will starve if he can’t perform heavy labor, but who is sure to die a horrible death from bowel strangulation if he continues to work). 

A hundred years ago, the average American man died at age 59; today it’s 76, and without modern medicine, I would already be dead. I remind myself of such things, but counting ones blessings can make a person feel bad about himself for complaining at all. By way of comparison, if you try to reconcile yourself to having a toothache by telling yourself that your problem is nothing compared to dodging missiles in Ukraine, not only will your tooth hurt as much, you will hate yourself for being a whiner and a wimp.


Update: My speech difficulty being worse in the morning, Peggy  called the hospital an hour ago to ask why we haven’t heard from the anesthesia department (they invariably schedule pre-op tests and a consultation a few days prior to surgery). She was told that the hospital doesn’t have me on its surgery schedule (perhaps the doctor’s office never contacted them). Upon learning this, Peggy immediately called the doctor’s office, but it’s nearly impossible to get them on the phone, and they take hours to call back. I have also called them, but I have no idea if the urgency in my voice will inspire them to act.

So it is that mistakes always, always, always happen, and the patient can never, ever sit-back and trust that what is supposed to be done will be done in the way that it should be done. Instead, the patient can but hope that the mistakes will be temporarily frustrating rather than life-altering or fatal. In this case, if there’s no operating room available, the surgery will have to be postponed, and because I was getting in early due to another patient’s cancellation, I could end up waiting months.

All about Peggy: Part 2: Dancing with Bears

Peggy’s first adventure with bears occurred while camped in the Arizona desert (the place was named the Coronado National Forest because of its ten-foot tall trees). Our camper consisted of a bear-defeating aluminum canopy mounted on the bed of a pristine white ’73 Datsun truck named Lolita. I so loved Lolita that I at least sponge-bathed her daily when we were away, including the engine compartment. Such compulsion is burdensome, but I couldn’t imagine driving down the road in a truck that wasn’t sufficiently clean for surgery. Peggy later complained that our photo album contained more pictures of Lolita than of her. This was true, but it was also true that I hadn’t followed-up on my plan to put a wedding ring on Lolita’s cute little distributor cable, and that the only presents I had given her were things like spark plugs and oil filters that Peggy didn’t care for anyway. To make a long story less long…

There we were, in the middle of the night, camped sixty miles from the Old West town of Tombstone, when my young bride suddenly and inexplicably announced that she had to “tinkle.” The park service had thoughtfully provided an outhouse for such troublemakers, but between us and it gamboled a large flock of feisty bears who were pursuing their hobby of emptying garbage cans and demolishing coolers. As Readers’ Digest regularly reminded its readers, what bears most enjoy doing is killing attractive young women—a description that still fits Peggy perfectly despite her advanced years—by hiding in outhouses and ripping-off their arms, legs, and heads before working-up to serious damage.

Aside from sunny and safe Sunday afternoon outings to the Jackson, Mississippi, zoo where the bears are tastefully locked behind stout iron bars so that courageous adolescent boys can impress wide-eyed adolescent girls by taunting them (the bears, I mean), Peggy and I had never laid eyes on an actual, in-the-flesh bear. Worse yet, these Arizona bears were nothing like the Jackson zoo bears in that these bears were looking high and low for innocent young camperettes. What’s more, they had us surrounded, and the moonless night was every bit as dark as a moonless night. 

Despite these unhappy statistics, Peggy remained grimly determined to pee. Such stubbornness represented a side to her that I hadn’t seen, and that troubled me greatly because, as I told myself, any woman who becomes this stubborn over a trivial matter like peeing would be capable of committing any manner of faux pas in the face of something important. 

Having nothing better to do at the moment, I decided to approach Peggy’s problem through the application of intelligent thought. Specifically, I thought about the following: (a) Our bed occupied the entire interior of the camper; (b) The canopy roof was too low for Peggy to squat over a jar; (c) Peggy might find it impossible to pee safely and effectively within the confines of a space that rendered safe and effective peeing impossible; (d) The solution to Peggy’s problem lay in solving for X when X=a+b÷3.14-7. Because I had no idea how to solve for X, or what solving for X would even accomplish, I regrettably concluded that intelligent thought is a waste of time except when boiling popcorn.

However (and it was BIG however), I saw in a flash that the cerebration of the stupidest man who ever lived is so superior to that of the most brilliant woman (Peggy), that I had no choice but to cancel my subscription to Ms Magazine. “What are you talking about?” you ask. I am talking about how a man, any man, could, in three easy steps, solve a problem that had short-circuited the brain of the female genius who lay squirming at my side with yellow liquid sloshing against her teeth. Here are those steps: (a) raise the camper door (this is extremely important); (b) lie on one’s side; (c) pee through the open door!

Irrefutable though my reasoning was, I knew it would be ill-advised to share it with a member of a gender that becomes overcome by feelings of feminine inferiority in the face of male rationality, so I settled for suggesting to Peggy that she tell her bladder to stop whining until the bears had gone to bed. I shed a tear when she promised to do her best because, inadequate though her best would be, not even a man could do more than that. Unfortunately…

As time passed, Peggy’s moaning and squirming achieved the desperation of a sugar cube in boiling water. Between moans, we could hear the bears snickering as they awaited her emergence, but we could tell that some of them had moved to another part of the campground. It was then that a plan presented itself. Peggy said it was time for extreme measures, so she would get out of bed and pee by the back bumper while I stood lookout. “That doesn’t sound like much of a plan to my male brain,
” I said, but if it’s what you want, I’ll lie in bed and protect you,” To my dismay, she made the power-hungry argument that I could best protect her by getting out of the camper for a less obstructed view, and to be on hand to eviscerate criminally-disposed bears. I told her that she sounded arrogant, masculine, and shrill, and it was then that the air became pregnant with tension. 

Peggy finally said that I could do as I pleased, but that if I stayed in bed, she too would stay in bed, and her side of the bed would most assuredly remain dry. Dry from what, I didn’t know, but her tone sounded ominous, so I offered to accompany her. We knew there were no bears behind the truck because there was no noise behind the truck, so I exited first—Peggy was insistent on this point—and chivalrously helped her to exit. Once on the ground, it was my job to stand beside her as I leaned from one side of the back of the truck to the other so that no bears could sneak-up on us.

As I was heroically occupied in doing my job, Peggy busied  herself by keeping a bone-crushing grip on my calf while tinkling as fast as she could go. Simple though these tasks were, she performed them admirably, although I later found it necessary to chide her for bruising my shin and calf. I also took issue with the fact that she had peed on my foot. “How could this have happened?” you ask. It happened because I had been so dedicated to doing my job properly that I took no notice of Peggy’s failure to do the same, the result being that when warm liquid ran across my foot and made mud pies inside my dusty flip-flop, I didn’t immediately divine its source. The situation could have been worse, of course, had the bears found the odor so maddening that they charged us like Crazy Horse charged Custer. 

What I learned about peeing that night was that, on the one hand, abject terror can make peeing impossibly unavoidable; on the other hand, it can make it unavoidably impossible. Such considerations notwithstanding, Peggy stuck to the task at hand. When she emerged victorious, I said that, in the interest of companionability, I too would pee, and that, in the interest of chivalry, she would guard me as I had guarded her. When she didn
’t respond, I looked toward where she had been and found myself alone in a moonless wilderness.

I naturally concluded that bears had martyred my beloved, so imagine my dismay when I happened to glance into the camper and found that she was cleaning her facial pores with witch hazel. When I, too, had returned to our snug fortress, I respectfully inquired, “Had I been massacred, Dear, would you have pulled my corpse to safety or left it for the rangers to stumble upon while you toured the Grand Canyon?” Snores prevented her from answering, so I broached the subject again over breakfast, adding that she should have informed me of her proclivity for snoring before we were married, so I could have decided upon the advisability of a shared future. I also asked if she had withheld other fatal flaws, but I regretted my cruel words a moment later when her pretty face reflected the anguish of a sensitive soul who was too remorseful to speak. I have no idea why, but everyone else on earth mistakes the expression for boredom.

Part Two

After moving to Oregon, Peggy and I camped every other week in pretty weather, staying out for 2-3 nights at a time in areas so remote that we seldom saw anyone (in Oregon, such places are easy to find). When sleeping in Lolita became uncomfortable for my beloved’s constantly aging joints, I magnanimously surprised her with a vintage 3/4 ton van with almost no dents and a high ground clearance for traversing rutted logging roads. On this occasion—as on many others—she was so overwhelmed by gratitude that she went through four stages of self-expression. 

Stage 1: Peggy is unable to make a sound. 

Stage 2: Peggy makes sounds resembling speech, but no one knows what they mean.

Stage 3: Peggy jokingly asks if I can get our money back.

Stage 4: Peggy jumps up and down in her characteristic happy dance; smiles her grimace-like smile; and pours out her gratitude with such playful teases as, “I hope you bought me a parachute so I won’t break a leg getting out of the _____ thing.” Many people claim that Peggy’s childlike humor is her most endearing quality, and that they hope to experience it someday. 

By happy coincidence, Oregon’s black bear population abounds alongside salal, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, salmonberries, huckleberries, and hazelnuts. On the joyful day in question, we were biking down an abandoned coastal logging road when I spotted three bear cubs not twenty feet away. I threw on brakes and exclaimed, “Sweetheart, bride of my youth, look, oh look, at the darling little bears!” I naturally interpreted her silence as the product of unspeakable delight, so imagine my dismay when I turned toward where she had been, and found that I had been speaking to a tree. I naturally assumed that a bear had eaten her and was busy accustoming myself to widowerhood when I chanced to see a woman who resembled my late wife receding into the distance as fast as her pretty legs could pedal her sexy red bike. Because I knew that Peggy would want me to love again, I set out after the mysterious “woman on red,” but a race horse couldn’t have caught her.

Some might say that Peggy, unlike her husband, behaved rationally given that mother bears tend to annihilate anything that comes near their cubs, trees included. I would respond that there is not a single record of a single black bear killing or injuring a single person to protect a single cub (although their predilection for human flesh often inspires them to peel people like bananas). What black bears are on record for doing is running rapidly away from their little ones at the merest hint of danger. Therefore, if you should someday sneeze while walking through the woods, you should immediately recite whatever prayer you remember (“God is great; God is good; let us thank God for our food” became favored by many after a news report claimed that
no one who used it reported being killed by a bear) because you are in grave danger of being flattened by one or more fleeing bears...The image of a female abandoning her loved ones brings my thoughts back to Peggy.

“Why,” I demanded, when I finally found her cowering in her bedroom closet two days later, “did you abandon me to certain death?” “I didn’t abandon you,” she mumbled while staring at the floor. “Like you, I wanted to get all drippy while schmoozing with Pattington Bear
’s mother, but because I love you, I gave up what I wanted in order to get help for you in case she turned out to be half grizzly.”

The realization that my wife held my physical prowess in such low esteem that she didn’t trust me to protect her from a buttress of brutal bruins hurt my feelings twenty times worse than had she proclaimed me a bear-destroyer
par eccellenza, but I was too scared to tell her that, so I rhetorically asked, “My gentlest darling, was that really why you rode away as fast as your wrinkled legs could pedal your sexy red bike?” “How could you have doubted it?” she cooed. “After all, Snowie darling, you know what grizzlies are like because we almost saw a whole gaggle of them on that trail in Canada. If those hikers we met hadn’t told us that there were bears ahead, and if we hadn’t run to the car and stampeded back to Montana without even stopping at the border station, you would have shown those Canucks what you were made of, and it wouldn’t have been pretty.” “You’re right, my brown-eyed nymphet. If I hadn’t gotten homesick for the Home of the Brave, I might have pixillated every bear in Canada because I’m so intimidating that there are days when I don’t dare look at myself in the mirror. It was here that she kissed my cheek. Most people mistake Peggy for a total hard-ass, but she can be half nice when she puts her whole heart into it.

Next time All About Peggy: Part 3: Peggy Abandons Me to a Flurry of Hawaiian Wolverines