The Horror!

“He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath: “‘The horror! The horror!’” ~Kurtz’s last line in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

How was your week? Mine had some horrifying moments. Like when I realized I completely ruined my blog. When I found out my neighbors have a slaughterhouse in their basement. Neither of these moments was more horrifying, though, than turning myself into human jerky.

I’ll start with the blog. Last week, I decided to clean up my media library and delete some of the photos. Sounds positive, right? Cleaning up, letting go, all that good stuff. Until that horrifying moment when I remembered that when you delete photos from the library, they are deleted from your blog posts, too.

Horror turned to despair as I sifted through post after post and saw gray spots where once there were photos. To make matters worse, so many of my posts are directly related to the photos that without them, the words don’t make much sense. I was able to add some photos back – a long, grueling process that required scrolling through thousands of photos on my iPhone, emailing them to myself, downloading them to my Chromebook, uploading them to the library, and inserting them back into my posts. I’m sure there must be an easier way of doing this, but I have yet to figure it out. Some of the posts are so old that I may never be able to retrieve the photos because they’re on my near-dead, virus-infected laptop. The very idea of dealing with that, and this whole blog mess, horrifies me so much that I’m going to ignore it for a while. Which brings me to the next horrifying moment.

Wednesday night I learned that my neighbors have a slaughterhouse in their basement. The revelation came during a Zoom Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing my husband and I attended on Wednesday night. We were there to oppose the neighbor’s request for a variance to keep chickens on their double occupancy property, which is not allowed in our small city. This chicken ordeal has been going on for two years. The coop is two feet from our property line, along which runs our driveway, and next to our driveway is our patio. The neighbors do not properly clean the coop and at times the smell is unbearable. Often we have not been able to enjoy our patio and have had to move outdoor gatherings inside because of the horrible smell. Then there is the matter of the chicken waste they keep throwing in a pile against our fence, which is now collapsing in places. Since the chickens arrived, for the first time in over 20 years of living in this home, we see rodents, dead and alive, in our yard. The town sent a cease and desist order to them for the chickens two years ago, but they didn’t comply and our communications went ignored by the zoning enforcement officer, until finally I went over his head and emailed the Director of ALL Zoning.

These are the same neighbors I called animal control on several years ago when I discovered, to my horror, at least 25 rabbits in small cages sweltering under a tarp in their yard during a heat wave. I had gone behind our garage, which is detached and set way back from our house, and there they appeared, like something out of a Stephen King novel. They were forced to get rid of all the rabbits except a handful, per zoning laws.

Once when the chickens got loose and ended up in our yard. I really was rooting them on.

Given their track record, I shouldn’t have been shocked when, during the hearing,  our neighbor admitted, in response to a question, that she uses the chickens for eggs and meat. But I was. A board member asked the question that had to be on everyone’s mind, “Where do you, um, prepare them for meat?”

“The basement.”

The silence that filled the Zoom meeting was without doubt one of collective horror. All five board members denied the variance and the neighbors have 10 days to get rid of the chickens. I imagine they’ll be stacked in a freezer soon.

Moving on, to my abject horror I turned myself into human jerky through my own carelessness. I don’t know what I was thinking when I spent four hours at the beach last Saturday without putting on sunblock. Usually I do, and sit under an umbrella most of the day. But it was pretty windy, so it didn’t feel too hot, and the umbrella likely would have blow away. I have olive skin and don’t burn easily, so I thought I would be okay. Not. I have been in agony all week from this sunburn. I had to wear a strapless bra for two days because my shoulders could not withstand straps. I have been slathering aloe vera that I keep cold in the fridge all over me, and still areas of my skin are starting to peel. Peel! I haven’t peeled from sunburn since, well, I don’t think ever. I am so mad at myself. At my age, the last thing I should be doing is allowing my fragile, aging skin to shrivel up like dried out, dehydrated meat. I learned my lesson the hard way, but my poor, old skin may never recover.

Oh, the horror of it all!

So, how was your week?

Pet Peeves

You know how bad things tend to happen in threes? I have a theory about this: Better to get them over with at once instead of having them spread out ruining your life at regular intervals. That’s how I’m going to vent about my pet peeves here. I’ve picked my top three and I’m unleashing them at once.

Pet Peeve # 1: Passive Aggressive People
Just stop! Say what you mean, mean what you say, and stop with the convoluted behaviors. I have a co-worker who, every time he’s about to criticize someone, prefaces it with, I hate to be negative but… No, you don’t hate to be negative. You revel in putting others down. But instead of being direct about it, you try to soften it with a preface and a fake I’m-really-a-nice-guy grin. I see through you. Then there’s my husband who, no matter how many times since I’ve been working from home and asked him, politely, to please communicate with me before he takes my car to work takes it anyway, without a word, leaving me stranded since I won’t drive his boat of a truck and he knows it. Just. Stop.

Pet Peeve # 2: People Who Think They’re Always Right
You are not always right. Let me say that again. You are not always right! No one is always right all of the time, every day of their life. No one! People like this bug me because they are not teachable. They don’t want to learn.  They just want to be right. Being right is the most important thing to them. More important than learning and growing and trying to see others’ perspectives. More important than having friends even, since no one likes a know-it-all who thinks they’re never wrong. Go away!

Pet Peeve # 3: Everyday Martyrs
We all know them. Maybe on occasion we’ve been one. But true everyday martyrs have mastered their roles. They could win an oscar with their long-suffering performances. Mothers and mothers-in-law are often the worst, or maybe it’s the best, martyrs. Cleaning up all the Thanksgiving dishes while everyone else lays around in a turkey stupor, banging and clanking pots and plates for attention, yet nobody hears or cares. Pretending it’s okay that their husband forgot their birthday, but spending the day sighing loudly in a woe-is-me way. Making sure everyone knows how hard they work, how much they do, and how unappreciated they are. Get over it! Ask for help with the dishes. Go buy yourself a birthday gift. Stop doing for everyone if it’s making you miserable. There is nothing to gain by being a martyr except negative attention that people, after a while, will completely ignore. 

There, I got that off my chest. Three pet peeves at once, so I’m not venting too much at regular intervals. I’m dying to know: What is your biggest pet peeve?

A Rumi Mood

As I attempt to process the pain and chaos reigning in my country – over 100,000 citizens dead from COVID-19, near-record unemployment, relentless racial injustice, and as many different opinions about these things as there are people – I find myself drawn to Rumi to make sense of it all.  Doing so has helped me realize some things:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I no longer feel responsible for saving people from their own willful ignorance, or for educating them about things they don’t want to learn.  I will save my energy for people who want to learn, grow, and change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am in no position to change the world if I overlook my own internal biases, prejudices, and conditioning. Self-work, self-examination, and self-awareness are great tools to start this process. So is exposing myself to conversations and situations that might be uncomfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am done trying to make people understand, whether an alternate opinion or perspective, my feelings, decisions I or others make, etc. If after an exchange or two it’s apparent that they don’t, or won’t, understand, my next reply is silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain is where change begins. When we hurt, we want to heal. When we see others hurt, we want to help. Through the process of healing or helping, we awaken.

 

 

 

 

 

Life is short. Seize the day.

 

Isn’t She Lovely?

This photo makes me smile, mostly because I want to be that old woman. I have always believed that the ultimate freedom is being yourself. It is a freedom many of us will never fully know. Yet with this freedom comes power. In this old, eccentric lady, I see power that no one can take away. It’s the kind of power that comes with loving and accepting yourself as you are, and expressing who you are, without apologies, excuses, or justification.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

I think it would, which got me humming this old Stevie Wonder tune. Hope you enjoy!

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

With Memorial Day on the horizon, it felt right to share these photos of my 2019 visit to Normandy, France to see the D-Day beaches. I was blessed to be able to cross off this bucket list item when I stepped foot on Omaha Beach that rainy day in October. The visit to Paris, and the day trip to Normandy, was a gift from my mother for my 50th birthday, a once-in-a-lifetime mother/daughter trip, for which I will always be grateful.

Standing on Omaha Beach was a bucket list item

Standing on that beautiful, sacred ground, it was hard to imagine that 75 years before, thousands of Allied troops, many in their teens, stormed the beach at dawn, not knowing if they would live or die. Hitler was asleep when they landed, having given orders not to be disturbed before noon. His general in charge of Normandy had gone to Germany to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Though they had been anticipating an attack, they weren’t sure where, and it never occurred to them that the Allies would risk stormy weather to catch them off guard.

Juno Beach, Normandy, France

With the rain falling lightly on my face, the waves lapping at my boots, and the  delicious scent of salt air filling my nostrils, I closed my eyes for a moment. I wanted to take it all in; the sacred energy of the place, the overpowering feeling of being humbled and inspired at once, the sadness over the loss of life, the gratitude for their courage, and the freedom I had to be able to stand there, safe, protected, privileged.

To all the men and women who have served and died so that we and our allies might be free from tyranny, merci.

Sand from Omaha Beach, rocks and shell from Juno Beach, Normandy, France