Small Mercies

I’m on a mission, one that keeps me from self-destruction. Each of us in our own spheres of influence have the power to do good. It might not seem like much in the grand scheme, but collectively it matters. Maybe our presence will prevent someone from doing harm. The world is already so warped by meanness the least I can do is stand my ground—if nothing more than to spite the next bully who comes along.

More Verbal Entropy: These portmanteau words are driving me crazy. OK so it’s fun to think of a blend of two words to express a concept. Sometimes you luck out and find two words that roll easily off the tongue or are clever. What’s creepy is how ubiquitous this trend is, kept alive through the vast internet. Here are some we didn’t need: dramality, flexitarian, jealousify, listicle, mirthquake, swacket, undoplasty, welebrity. Worth a giggle if you thought it up yourself, but there is nothing new here, just bland pop culture mistaken for originality. I’ll bet most people who love words make up their own anyway. Here’s one I just thought of…it’s true we live in a mediocracy, but it’s powered by the mediacracy!

Then there’s disemvoweling which evolved from texting, forums, etc. You know it’s a major trend when Madonna puts out an album called MDNA and we all know what it means (though the ‘a’ remains, disemvoweling normally strikes vowels only). There are even apps to help you spell words wrong. I guess we should be happy that texting drivers skip the vowels, but it’s just one more trend contributing to modern-day illiteracy. However, the word disemvoweling itself is an expressive and useful word. Another newish word that fulfills a need is petrichor. The eloquent definition for this glossy word from OUP is “the pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. Origin: A blend of petro- ‘relating to rocks’ (the smell is believed to be caused by a liquid mixture of organic compounds that collects in the ground) and ichor.” I can’t wait to use this word word when monsoon starts, because who doesn’t love that magical earthy smell.

Search engine term of the month: Search engine terms are bizarre and sometimes repulsive. When I write about pitbull abuse, I get hits looking for how to abuse a dog so it will fight. It’s a depressing way to learn about depravity. A few months ago I posted some photos of a vintage fridge-sink-stovetop unit from the fifties, and this month’s most revealing search term was “sex with appliencs.” Yeah dude, come on over to Find an Outlet for some spicy appliance porn. I’ll show you how to cut a glory hole in the back of a stove, because nothing screams orgasm like 220 volts.

Politics. Ugh. The bumper sticker below sums up exactly how many of us feel. We long for sane leadership but don’t see anyone who is in touch with real life. Six months ago we were confronted with the world population reaching 7 billion—millions of articles addressed it and suggested strategies. Now the biggest issue raging in Republican politics is contraception? How can this be happening? Is the media pushing this to alienate the candidates? It’s working, they’re turning women away in droves. For god’s sake give free birth control to anyone who wants it in the world—instead of aid, send birth control. Think of it as a low-cost contribution to saving the planet before it reaches the 8 billion projected for 2025 (if we’re still here). Do they think people (especially kids) are going to abstain—are they kidding? Anything but.

Some states force insurance companies pay out enormous sums for fertility treatments, and there are movements to lobby the government to pay if you’re not covered. Taxpayers have funded $240 million through Medicare during the last decade for penis pumps for old men—is that okay?  This is not a time to spotlight personal religious beliefs while solid plans for our country’s (and planet’s) future remain hazy. More and more people say they may not vote at all, and that might include me. I absolutely cannot support Obama, but neither can I vote for someone who is so misogynistic that they would deny abortion in case of rape. If this happens, expect protests that will make the Occupiers look like kittens. I really, really want a generator.

Instead of uniting all us Demoblicans and Republicats, they are dividing us into two nasty camps like never before, leaving millions of Americans disgusted. It’s exactly what won’t work.

Bumper sticker displayed by someone who probably won't vote.

Why. Why can’t people proofread. Would you get your new tat done here? Remember that song by Offspring?
"Now he's getting a tattoo yeah, he's getting ink done
He asks for a 13, but they drew a 31!"

There's a joke here about the pervasive plastic bags stuck to prickly pears and everything else—it's the state flower of Arizona.

The barren Huachucas are a stark contrast to the cottonwoods greening up along the San Pedro River. We hope the recent snow helps new life spring from the fire-ravaged mountains.

An amazing old face of someone who looks like she's been through hard times. I'll bet she's got a thing or two to teach us.

Jada, on left, 6 months ago. Jasmine just told her to go lie down and she's pretending she is. If only it lasted longer than 30 seconds.

And here she is now, about a year old. She's now officially the biggest dog of the pack, and I don't think she's done growing. But she's still a work in progress and will be for a while. She's a great new feature of our security system though.

Last year's seed pods and new growth of the scale-like leaves on my favorite southwest tree, the alligator juniper.

Happy little non-killer bee (the plant was full of them) on a gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) doing what they do best.

It's very warm here and everything is either flowering or about to.

Mwahaha! Some people have ridiculous amounts pillows on their beds or sofas, made goofier by all these huge tags sticking out. It's OK to cut them off, really, no one will arrest you! I applied scissors to this one myself. I had to.

We're now boarding two beautiful rescued horses. I'm not doing it for the (nominal) money, nor because I'm in love with horses, though they sure are growing on me. I'm doing it for the neighborhood. People trying to leave are dumping their houses cheap or renting them. The owners of these horses have their home up for sale nearby, and one of the reasons they want to leave is because they were driving back and forth twice a day to a town 28 miles away to board them. Now they're here, minutes away, and I hope the owners won't move, or at least that they won't give their house away for nothing, which is what you have to do to escape. Some of the new people moving in to my neighborhood are real low-rent. We've had the sheriffs out here a couple times in the past month, prompting us to turn our little house into a fortress. And there was a major drug bust here a month or so ago, complete with cops, border patrol, DEA, sniffer dogs, and hazmat suits.

27 responses to “Small Mercies

  1. I’m sure the disheveled old person in the photo could teach us much but i dont think i’d want to learn anything from her. i doubt if her “wisdom” (a word i hate) is related to hair coloring and style, cosmetic dentistry and surgery and trendy clothing. old people like this make it terribly difficult for those who try to present a smart, viable and productive image to a world that would dearly love to gas us all.

    • I can’t help but be fascinated by some of the old people I see. She’s not in a wheelchair or hauling around an oxygen tank, she’s was at Brakemasters getting her car fixed. A 70-year-old woman I worked for took care of her mother who was in her nineties—she came here from Texas in a wagon train as a child. It just makes me want to interview them all, and makes me wish I had asked more questions of my parents before they died. I kind of see people like this as not only a walking history book, but as a work of art.

  2. Your kind heart is showing through again, Debra. Those horses are adorable.

    Loved all the photos, but my favorite is the bee on the gopher plant. I have never seen one before. It is striking!

    • Char, the horses are so funny and sweet and have strong personalities and have helped me lose my fear of them. The gophers plants are common here in Arizona gardens, they apparently have something toxic in their roots and are said to repel gophers, but I have no idea if that’s true!

  3. It amazes me sometimes the search terms used and how then how google associates them with my blog. Yes I can image “find and outlet” and sex with appliances” go well together in google’s algorithms.

  4. A very interesting post Debra. It really reveals (I think) a lot about the life you lead. Seems challenging in S. Arizona for sure. I am always interested to see how your pack is doing. They really are beautiful and they way you write about them gives me a good feeling and displays one of your many good sides. And boarding the horses for a neighbor. That’s a stand all by itself. If more people did the simple good things that you do we’d all be way better off.

  5. It’s a shame these old don’t work harder at making their externals a work of art. Remember, I live and work in the urban northeast and run a business. keeping up the visuals is a matter of survival, no matter how many fascinating stories one can tell.

  6. Hi Bill, a lot of people simply do nothing, but I can even excuse them if they do no harm. I feel as though I have chosen sides and have an obligation to live it. You know what I mean. Without fanfare…just do it.

    A neighbor whose property abuts mine is a grumpy, unfriendly old man. At first I couldn’t stand him, but now I know how lucky I am to have a neighbor who minds his own business and keeps his property clean. No chained dogs, no hot rods, no loud parties, no cops, no threat. He could be so, so, much worse. So I kind of watch out for him—he’ll never know, he doesn’t need to.

  7. Thank you for mentioning petrichor. What a great word. I’m glad I now know it. Although, Firefox doesn’t. It gives it the red squiggly underline.

    That pillow tag! Remember in the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, when Pee Wee catches a ride with an escaped convict? He asks the convict what he did… “You know those ‘Do not remove under penalty of law’ tags they put on mattresses? Well I cut one of them off!” Call me easy to amuse, but that movie is a classic. All those jokes were lost on me when I was a child. Now I watch it with my children and can’t believe the talented writing.

    • Oh I LOVE Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, a true classic. Dancing to the song Tequila! The motorcycles! I totally fell in love with him when he rescued the snakes. What a great buddy he would be. But you’re right, it’s all about the writing! Now that you’ve refreshed my memory, I’m going to have to put it in my NF queue.

      Yes, the built-in dictionaries in Word or whatever are very simplistic, rarely updated even when they come out with a new version, and as we’ve mentioned before, often wrong—so I hope writers don’t take them seriously! Useful for changing ‘recieve’ to ‘receive,’ etc., and I do see plenty of writing that would benefit by this service—do you think folks don’t know what the squiggly line means?

  8. Hi D. How you doing?

    I don’t believe that Rick Santorum will win the nomination, but IF he does you might want to check out some of his OTHER positions…Really scary man..

    • Hi Bill, I’m OK, overwhelmed with everything as usual. And you?

      He scares me too. I can’t understand how he can criticize an oppressive government but can’t wait to impose his own brand of oppression.

  9. Why does it bother me?

    Jada is so cute Debra!

  10. I was doing fine until I got to the comments. Ageism isn’t any prettier than sexism or racism, and making snarky comments about people you know nothing about isn’t very attractive, either.

    There are cultures in the world who honor their elders. They understand that wisdom is more than story-telling, and that the survival of the culture depends of the passing-on of accumulated wisdom.

    When arthritis, dementia, congestive heart failure, loneliness, and declining energy come to call, keeping up appearances becomes a different matter altogether. I spent fifteen years caring for my mother, watching her struggle, as the years passed, to do her hair, to find her lipstick, to uncurl the fingers of her right hand with her left so that she could apply lipstick. But in the end, I took her out no matter what she looked like, because she still wanted to live, and I loved her.

    I love your photo of that elderly woman, too, and in my own way I love her. Someday, God willing, I’ll be her – and if I still have the courage to don a green headband and walk out into the world, I’ll count it a celebration of life.

    Of course, we always could just get rid of anyone over 75 or 80. That would help with that little issue of 7 billion people, no?

    • Linda, I love the green headband too. Perhaps she never cared about her looks, or maybe it’s just not important anymore. If she was a miner’s wife, or a farm wife, or raised a brood of kids in hard times, she’s probably tough as nails. Location likely does matter, because in rural America old folks aren’t mocked, but accepted. Whether they are respected has more to do with their character than their age. It just occurred to me that a ‘makeover’ for this woman might actually make her less appealing. I am only in my fifties and day-to-day physical presentation becomes less important each year. Or maybe I slide because it’s just not necessary here—out of place even.

      When I’m in my nineties and out doing errands on a bright windy day—without even a cane—I’d count that as a celebration of life too. All I know is I am smitten with these amazing faces, and it was all I could do to not go give her a hug.

  11. She’s a Stockdog, she may never calm down enough, without a job. She should excel in agility.

    • It upsets me so much that people keep breeding dogs who are meant to work. Jada is a heeler mix, and she wants to herd. She has no flock but us, and is constantly on my heels. She thinks she has to watch us every second. Imagine how a sheep feels!

      I play with her as much as possible but sometimes I just want her to “go lie down”! She’s sneaky, too—she’ll get up and tiptoe out of the room very quietly, next thing I hear is the garbage being knocked over, or her giant paws up on the counter looking for trouble! She’s a work in progress though, and in time she’ll be quite the queen. She’s already taken over the position of ‘top watchdog’ or so she thinks!

  12. About the bumper sticker: saw one this morning which read, “If they are in, vote them out!”

  13. Hey my friend! It’s been some time since I stopped by … Goodness! I am always inspired, yes, inspired by you and your life tales. It’s true we live in a mediocracy, but it’s powered by the mediacracy! LOVE IT. And well, the media is responsible for much of the hatred and bigotry around because their tale-telling is so lopsided. And the BUMPER STICKER! YES! It seems once again that we will vote against Obama or for him … either way. A non-vote is a vote FOR him, as I see it. It is so pathetic that in this day of vast information, we know NOTHING about what is REALLY going on!

    • Hi Barb, thank you. We are fed carefully culled and edited news, I think we all know it’s a fact by now. I don’t understand how this helps anyone. If it’s a plan to terrify or enrage every citizen, I don’t get why or who’s behind it. My question is no longer what can we do to save our world, but what can we do to survive it. If I sound paranoid, I am. I’m scared in my house and out in the world. And you’re right, we really don’t know what’s going on. Wow, I sure didn’t expect this worldview to become so powerful in my life. It’s not good for us. If people think everything’s fine, well I envy them!

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