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.”