Double Take Saturday Mix- The Hard Way

Our homophone sets this week are:

horse – animal
hoarse – lack of voice

and

stationery – pen, paper, envelope etc.
stationary – still, unmoving

At the Upstate Youth Outdoor Rehabilitation School, affectionately called UpYORS by the kids, Ben supervised troubled kids from the inner city. The school served as a way to remove these kids from street gang influences while training them to be more self-confident, and independent, by introducing them to rural self-sufficiency skills.
All of these kids had never, ever, seen a ‘real’ cow or horse so Ben was responsible for their basic education on “do’s and don’t’s” in those animals’ company.
The letterhead for the school stationery had a silhouette of a boy milking a cow and a girl riding a horse but before ANY of them reached that goal, they would need to learn ‘animal manners’ to prevent them from being kicked in the head or bitten in the thigh!
The school had recently been given a generous donation and had purchased life-sized, stationary, representations of every farm animal they’d encounter. Ben schooled the kids on how to approach, how to control, and how to calm the animals, as well as, their basic anatomy and body language.
The one rule he repeated until he was hoarse was to “NEVER approach a horse from behind without first alerting it to your presence.” . The onsite horses and cows had all passed a rigorous temperament screening but Ben knew ANY horse might kick if startled.
Through the years, Ben had had a few kids who rubbed him the wrong way but ALL had come around and had responded well to his trainings. The kids were not on their “home turf” so that ‘unsureness’ made them compliant.
This year was different!
A burly, brute of a kid, named Mack, made a joke of everything when he wasn’t ignoring instructions or bullying everyone. He’d obviously gotten into the trouble that brought him to the school from that attitude. As for his 6’4″ 250 lb presence and a full beard at 17 years old, that was the reason no one had ever bothered to push back either.
Ben had to admit some of his jokes were pretty funny, just the same. Mack sauntered up to ole Bessie the cow, on day two, and pumped her tail like a water pump complaining she must be empty. But, Mack was going to be trouble.
The duties were on a rotating basis on paper. By day 7, Ben was sick of that kid so he assigned Mack to clean and groom Diablo, their most spirited horse kept for those who became experienced riders.
When Mack sat down to supper that night, his attitude had miraculously changed! So had his appearance. Some folks just need to learn things the hard way.

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Double Take – Saturday Mix, 24 July 2021 | Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie (wordpress.com)

Cancel Culture deprives us of Satire

Satire – the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

I don’t think we’d be hard pressed to find feminist groups who think kids should never be exposed to Ralph Kramden. The Honeymooners were a collection of one male chauvinistic scenario after another. Ralph shouted, threatened, and belittled his wife Alice. Yet, Ralph had tender moments with Alice, and most importantly, Alice almost always got the better of him. She ignored his faux aggressions and never played the victim either. Alice was the hero of every episode.
This is what’s known as ‘satire’. Satire is, IMO, one of the most powerful ways to expose unpleasant norms and enlighten people. It addresses those issues directly, and humorously, trusting in the viewers’ intelligence to draw conclusions.
‘Cancel culture’ is enormously satirically impaired to the point of idiocy. [I believe it comes from the ‘cancel decision makers’, who promote silencing, thinking they have an elite level of intelligence unavailable to the rest of us.]
But they, themselves, have become satirical caricatures who are hopelessly un-self-aware. Try not to outwardly laugh at them. They may cancel YOU!

Watch this clip kids. Have fun! You’re smart enough, and tough enough, to take it.


A True Story and Real Life Dilemma

oppossum

The following is a true story. By the time this is posted, I will have added a photo. For now, the story is more important:

Early in our camping experience last summer, my granddaughter and I heard my Jack Russell Terrier barking and came upon a baby opossum peeking out from behind our generator bin. It was frightened and clearly a bit young to be wandering around on its own.
I called the dog off and she scampered out of sight. (I say “she” because Nature makes females a bit more sturdy and independent early on. I will never know her true gender but my guess is an educated one.)
She appeared once more that day around our log splitter. This uncharacteristic sighting made me snap a photo and assume “something” had happened to her mother. When I told my husband, he said he had seen a dead baby opossum in the nearby bushes, the day before. Seems my “guess” had more legitimacy after that.
It was Sunday, and we were hours from leaving for home. I had learned from other lessons of interfering with Nature, that my human instinct to “get involved” was not always wise for either the wild animal or for my heart. I felt I just HAD to give her a chance. She had survived, so far, and although I could not take responsibility for her, I didn’t have to all-together turn my back.
Just before I left, I took a large handful of dry dog food and piled it, undercover, near the generator bin. With a heavy heart, I went home.
The next week, the dog food and opossum were gone.
I thought of her often throughout the summer. I also accepted the “not knowing” of what happened to her a mixed blessing.
Around the middle of October, my dog came strutting back to my campsite with a prize catch. My heart sank! He had caught and killed a juvenile opossum. It was from under the place where I had, months before, left the dog food. Even this moment, my heart is racing and my stomach is turning at the telling of an “almost” triumphant tale.
I have little doubt that the opossum was the orphan I had met in June. She HAD survived but had not learned enough to continue to survive.
This winter’s harshness has made me consider her violent end a possible blessing against the option of freezing or starving. Without a mother, her instincts may not have well prepared her.
The moral of this story, that I hold on to, is that I HAD cared. That I HAD tried to help. I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have done more and that I really need to let go of the heart-sickening guilt I keep revisiting.
There would be those who would say, “You didn’t care or do enough.”
I would beg to differ.
The sick feeling in my stomach while writing this is still there.
I also had asked myself a number of questions. Here’s a few:
Can I find her in time?
Is her mother temporarily trapped in a dumpster and might she return?
How could I safely capture and transport her in the same car as my dog?
Would I really be offering her a better life by interfering?
Would my husband’s opinions on my decision matter?
Is there a law against bringing wild animals into a day care setting?
Would the Animal Hospital accept her?
How terrified would she be in all this?
Yes…I DID care deeply but I knew that caring didn’t give me the “right” to affect absolute changes nor did it protect me from possibly doing more harm than good.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I hope in telling this story, “little opossum’s”, AND my dilemma, speaks to you.
Don’t forget…I also may be wrong in my conclusion that every sighting of an opossum was the SAME opossum. And that my friends, is where hope lives.

Once upon a time…

Nugget 2

I happened upon a vendor, at the flea market, this weekend. She was selling old beaten, yet still useful, metal trucks. My heart was happy at the memories stirred by these relics. Days spent riding them over the grass hills of my backyard with my brother. Tumbling and laughing …oblivious of their sharp edges and lead paint…we used them in the unintended ways kids do with toys.
Out of nowhere, I remembered Halloween and the fun we had roaming our neighborhood until 10:00 pm! I reminisced for a moment with the vendor. We shared a happy talk of pillowcases filled with candy and the knowing we were safe because we knew our neighbors.
“Now, Halloween is limited to an hour and a half .” I sighed. “Oh well, the kids won’t miss what they never had, I guess.”  I walked away with a heavy heart.

The next vendor had a metal Popgun for sale. He wanted $20.00 for memory’s sake and I held the toy, not daring to buy, but allowing myself the memories of me, as Annie Oakley once again. Jamming the barrel with dirt that would go off, with a pop and a puff, was not the intended use, of course. Such happy times…

I’d just had a birthday so reminiscing was near, anyway. The rest of the morning held flashbacks to the happiest times riding in the back of pick-up trucks and on top of hay wagons, with the breeze and treetops at my cheek.
Building campfires on an old dirt road and learning to swim without life vests in the ponds and creeks, came back. Using a wood-burning set without incident and at an “inappropriate” age and the “Thing Maker” with molten goop producing plastic bugs. Riding an, at least 1000 lb horse, bareback at the age of 6 and wandering about the cows, who weighed the same, without fear nor injury because I had been taught about caution. Oh yes, and building bows with arrows of sharpened sticks with the Barlow pocketknife grandpa bought for me. Building jumps for my spider bike and riding with no hands…feet upon the handles…producing some scrapes and bruises, but what a ride! Climbing to the tops of trees and silos and getting scared but holding tight and cheering “like a gold medalist” when I, once again, found the ground.
These things are dangerous and won’t happen any more…why? Because no modern child would attempt them. They haven’t any way to test themselves…to learn caution as they grow by “uping” the ante of self-reliance. All they know is “You mustn’t try. You mustn’t risk. Your judgement is flawed.Don’t get hurt.”
Kids are taught to fear, now.  A fine beginning to taming them…self-reliance is dangerous, you know.
Wild colts can turn into sheep.

Kids won’t miss, what they never had…

The Positive Power of Peer Pressure

tex playing video games
tex playing video games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Competition for kids is not only good for them, it is essential to their well-being.
The approach of parents and schools to reduce competition is, in my opinion, misguided. It seems to me that as in many things, nowadays, the real value is overlooked in favor of “kindness”.

Johnny wins the spelling bee. Sally tried very hard, studied very hard and wanted the shiny medal very much. She cries for a moment when she loses. Johnny, on the other hand, jumps up and down and shakes the medal at Sally.

First, crying and being disappointed isn’t fatal. But let the scene play out.

Johnny’s applause fades quickly (due to his flaunt) and classmates move in to console Sally and give her an “atta girl” rally. If she cries for too long, though, she’ll learn sympathy has a limit.

To interrupt what seemed to be a cruel scene in the beginning, would have stripped every kid of lessons in sportsmanship and human decency.

Johnny feels embarrassed for flaunting and sorry for Sally, whom he never intended to hurt. All the kids, notice that. Sally got the reward of friendship and support. All the kids, notice that too. Both kids survive the event with a clear message that losing is not the worst but poor sportsmanship is ugly. 

Society has weakened the effectiveness of peer pressure by regarding it as, primarily, negative. I’m asking you to consider what we lose when we deem competition and peer pressure unhealthy? Just as a body kept safe from germs fails to build antibodies, children kept safe from competition fail to build character. Peer pressure is the key tool in directing a positive result.

Both Johnny and Sally survive their embarrassment and disappointment, respectively. (Surviving adversity is one fine lesson, as well.) Each will react differently the next time they are exposed to competition. I’d advise, keep it coming until it becomes as much a part of them as saying, “Please and Thank-you.”

Dog trainers all agree that, in order to have a well-rounded happy pet, owners must socialize them while young. Their brilliant premise is built upon other dogs correcting un-dog-like behavior while dogs are formative.

No, I don’t think kids are animals but as human beings (who are basically very good and much more complex) they have an awful lot to learn from peer pressure.

Now, consider kids who have been protected from “real life” lessons (tears, anger, sympathy and hurt) and plop them in front of video games. No peer pressure in video games. There is one objective…WIN. Nameless, cold opponents don’t cry. Flaunting is encouraged AND if you don’t win, you can quit by pulling a plug!

Funny thing is, another misguided solution would be to take the video games away too. Apparently, some people aren’t getting the BIG picture.

An Act of Conservation

032It’s true that we seem to have many conveniences at our camp. Certainly, not traditional “camping” .  There are still many lessons in conservation that we learn. Many things, that being hooked to ordinary power and city water, would not teach us.

Our electricity comes from a gas-powered generator. The price of gas certainly keeps us vigilant in multitasking when we start the generator. Just yesterday, Ed and I set up Katherine’s swimming pool. We have a shallow well which is overflowing , right now, but may be reduced to a trickle in the near future. Filling the pool was an exercise in “using before losing”.  Also, I needed to vacuum my camper. I didn’t just start the generator for one task. When Ed ran the pool filter, I vacuumed and charged my Kindle too. We also charge large batteries and, by using a power inverter, are able to run the generator much less often.

We keep our food and beverages in ice chests. As the sun crosses the site, we move the coolers to the shady spots and we don’t linger over an open lid, either. That kind of browsing in front of an open refrigerator (by kids) drives us nuts at home. Conservation of energy and supplies becomes a lifestyle to those who learn from remote living. Power,water, propane gas and refrigeration are all resources that come from exhaustible sources. Whenever possible, I heat water to boil on our campfire instead of running our propane stove. One thing we have plenty of, is wood. But wood takes time, effort and gasoline to harvest too.

Another thing that we are very conscientious about is warmth. On a warm day, we open our camper shades and windows to make good use of the sun’s offering but have a keen sense, when to close them, as the day turns cooler. Everything we do is an act of conservation, in one way or another. With practice, it is such an automatic purpose that we often decide to act in the same moment.

Ed asks: “Do you think we should close up the camper now?”

I answer: “I just did it.” 🙂

I think that there would be far less waste, in this country, if everyone spent a summer vacation under these conditions, at least once.

Within Reason

A day and night spent in the forest, always inspires me to think more clearly. I write this post after one such excursion. Anyone who knows me, understands my mind is always searching for examples to further explain my personal principles. Mother Nature never disappoints me in that endeavor.

I align myself with conservatives. Conservatives have a healthier respect for caution and personal responsibility in the greater number of decisions made directing our futures.

At this point, you may be a thinking human being and want further proof or you’ve decided I am a toxic source and therefore, could not impart any wisdom that would apply to your situation. Since, my blog is mostly a medium I use to inform my kids, grand kids and loved ones, I care not whether you read further.

It is important to mention that I do not espouse caution as an instrument to impede change because I also believe in the natural principle of “evolve or die”.

I’d like to share an actual event where caution and careful consideration saved the day.

A group of friends and I were fishing in a river in upstate New York. We had fished our native areas, elsewhere, long enough to recognize all fish species that were native to our area. It wasn’t long before, one friend squealed with delight that she had a BIG one on the line. She landed an eight pound catch. Right away, the fish seemed odd. We had not seen one exactly like it before. There was an undeniable similarity to catfish. We knew catfish! I grabbed her arm, as she reached for the fish, warning that we should not be too hasty. We examined its wide “catfish-like” mouth. The group thought my reluctance a bit maddening. I picked up a nearby stick and pressed down on its lip which revealed large jagged teeth. The group gasped. Those who almost stuck their hand in, thanked me for slowing down their approach. Never once, did I tell them not to keep the fish. No doubt, slowing down the decision on something that was new to us, was annoying and time consuming but ultimately saved us a lot of grief. The fish, by the way, was a Bowfin.

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Bowfin

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A Bowfin Skeleton

I’ll detail other reasons for my conservative leanings in future posts. All I ask when discussing any philosophy with others, is that they have reasons and are willing to share them.