Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summer Solstice Faerie Festival at Marshy Point 2019

All Hail, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," on this hot-and-humid summer morning! My name is Anne Johnson, your host with a boast.

I was a long-time attendee of the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. Oh, dear readers, how I did adore that festival! But time marches on, and Spoutwood's popularity outstripped its infrastructure. The event was held on a private property that just got mangled by the crowd, especially in rainy weather.

So the fine minds behind Spoutwood sought a new venue, and they landed upon a nature preserve called Marshy Point, which is just outside Baltimore.

EXHIBIT A: MARSHY POINT NATURE CENTER


There's lots of mature woods in the nature preserve, as well as one of those visitor centers with exhibits. It's a beautiful place, give or take the pesky insects that like to burrow and bite (which are everywhere at this season).

In just three short months the Spoutwood/Marshy Point crew put together a Faerie Festival. That's way past record time. Fortunately, years of practice at Spoutwood -- and lots of saved props -- helped to make the new place feel like home.

EXHIBIT B: SAVED PROPS


It is customary for these new festival venues to draw fewer patrons for a few years, until word gets out. But Marshy Point, being about 50 miles from Spoutwood, was close enough that hordes of regulars descended. And then the newcomers arrived. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Some things were the same, like the Gathering of the Tribes. On Saturday, every stalwart of the Mountain Tribe was on the property. Some of them drove from Lancaster and Harrisburg! It was so touching!

EXHIBIT C: THE GANG'S ALL HERE


We also got our usual spate of newcomers, who were persuaded to shout "Mountain Mountain Mountain" at the right moment, after which they were duly awarded with incentives.

As at Spoutwood, we called the Quarters. As at Spoutwood, we shouted "Kubiando," our special faerie word. We sang the same hymns and performed the same silly dances. The bands entertaining us were the same. The drum circle was led by the same facilitator, in a delightfully shady glen.

Summer Solstice is not the same as May Day. It was hot. But the coordinator had set up a misting tent, which was an inspired idea. Almost all the kid stuff was in the deep shade.

The biggest difference between Spoutwood and Marshy Point was that the latter is a state-run entity. We therefore had park rangers and police officers in attendance, a somewhat jarring sight at first. Most of the rangers seemed comfortable with our particular brand of mayhem and attire, and probably by mid-day the cops had figured out that we aren't the sort to pick fights or break stuff.

I felt sorry for this little guy, who was trotted out like they always do with critters at nature preserves.

EXHIBIT D: NOT THE HAPPIEST CAMPER


As for me, being Mountain Tribe, I was rather concerned about the flat land surrounded by water. Spoutwood is in the Piedmont, a place of rolling hills. But after ten minutes, I was completely sold on Marshy Point. There's more land, more shade (not necessarily where you need it most, but still), and really pretty water views.

When the coast clears and the nature preserve sees how we pick up after ourselves ... and the ducats are counted ... I imagine Marshy Point will feel warm towards the Spoutwood faeries. I hope so, because I can see myself visiting that pretty property again and again.

So, a bright Kubiando for new beginnings and a charming landing place! I'm happy for everyone who has put Spoutwood on the calendar each and every year.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Madonna, Ingrate

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," strolling through the years with gratitude for (almost) all of them! I'm Anne Johnson, a woman of a certain age. Glad to be alive!

I'm very, very, very behind in my blogging. I wanted to make some sweeping statements about a New York Times Magazine article called "Madonna at 60." A New York Times reporter spent a few days biffing around with Madonna to see what her life is like now, after all. these. years.

After reading it, Madonna said that she felt "raped." She was furious that the author of the article made so many references to her age, which ... you guessed it! ... is 60.

One could have some sympathy for aging pop singers, if not for the fact that said singers have made bank and are rolling in the ducats. If your career requires you to be come-hither sexy, and you suddenly find yourself north of the mid-century mark, you must feel a tad taken aback. But OH WELL, hon, you're rich! Get over yourself.

It happens that I am the same age as Madonna. Almost exactly. When I was in my 20s, I dressed like her and strutted my stuff, wore a kerchief around my curly locks, the whole bit. Then I moved on through the ups and downs of my 30s and 40s, a young mother ... then a mature mother ... with keening passions and deep loves. I dumped my religion and found another. I lost my career and found another. I've struggled with my weight, and yes, my age. But not to the point where the very mention of it is anathema to me.

I called this post "Madonna, Ingrate" because it seems to me she's as thoughtless at 60, yes the BIG 6-0 as she was through the rest of her years. She and I are part of a cohort. Maybe she has forgotten.

*Michael Jackson, born 1958
*Princess Diana, born 1961
*Prince, born 1958

Lordy, Lordy. I'm still breathing! And so is Madonna! Think of poor Princess Diana! And while it's impossible to muster a lot of sympathy for Michael Jackson, it does sound like his last days were Hell on Earth. The talented Prince, gone. No longer breathing.

It's a gift to live to be 60, and it's also a gift to do it gracefully. Grandmothers, crones, wise women -- call them what you will -- can still be sexy and daring, but it should be a different kind of sexy and daring. The time to strut around in lingerie and red lipstick is over, but life isn't over. Loving a partner isn't over. It should have evolved, though. These things should never be static.

So, Madonna, can we talk as contemporaries? You're rich as fuck, you're breathing, and you have a family. Bid the spotlight farewell and retire to a well-earned hammock, there to read some improving book. Be like me! Change careers, not because you want to, but because you have to! Time marches on. Aren't we lucky to be marching still?

Gosh, it's the most common joke you hear about aging: Consider the alternative. Madonna, consider. Seriously.  The Grim Reaper ain't at your door, and you should be thankful for that.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Interview with Bored Satellites: The Moons of Jupiter


Howdy and welcome to “The Gods Are Bored!” Do you want two tickets to paradise? Well then, we have to ask, Which paradise do you want to book? There are so many.

I’m not big on casting aspersions at any religion, because you never know what your next door neighbor is doing in the case of praise and worship. One can only imagine what my neighbors think of me, with my shrine and my candles and my drumming on certain nights.

It’s awfully hard, though, to look at some of these deity sets in a totally non-judgmental way, especially in light of the abortion laws being passed in certain who-the-hell-knows-what-they’re-thinking states. Suppose you are raped, or mistreated by the man who impregnates you? Should you have to carry an evil person’s child to term?

What better way to seek a response to this question than to interview some Ancients about it? The Moons of Jupiter will be visible with binoculars this week on Monday night, so their namesakes have arrived for a chat.  Please give a warm, wonderful “Gods Are Bored” welcome to Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – the Moons of Jupiter!

Anne: First, Ancient Ones, I assure you that this is a safe space. I do not allow Zeus, Hera, or any of their fellow High Deities here unless the premises is clear of mortals. I even lock Gamma the cat in the basement!

Io: Thank you for that. Zeus seduced me, and jealous Hera turned me into a white bull.

Europa: Thank you for that. Zeus turned Himself into a white bull, took me to Crete, and seduced me.

Callisto: Thanks you for that. Zeus disguised Himself as Artemis so He could fool me into having sex with him.

Ganymede: Thank you for that. Zeus abducted me and put me to work carting around wine to Himself and His friends. Oh, and he molested me too.

Anne: For the love of living fruit flies! Gives you some insight as to how Christianity established itself. Better one Jealous God with only two paramours than a bunch of squabbling rapist Gods and raging Wife Goddesses, turning poor mortals into bulls and trees and such. And all of you had Zeus’s children, right?

Io, Europa, and Callisto: Yes we did. No choice in the matter.

Ganymede: My gender saved me from this fate.

Anne: Wait. What? Ganymede, you got the same foul treatment, but because you are male, you didn’t have to carry children to term.

Ganymede: Correct.

Anne: I’m seeing yet another major crack in the core of the anti-abortion laws. So, all you mortal ladies who were preyed upon by Zeus, what were these offspring like who you had to bear to Him, even though you were duped, seduced, and raped by this ancient criminal?

Europa: Our children were handfuls. Chips off the old block: physically stronger, more willful, narcissistic, and ambitious than your run-of-the-mill mortal child.

Io: Nor were they particularly heroic, even if they were called heroes and were given cities to rule. They continued their Daddy’s ways.

Anne: Well, did Zeus at least provide them child support? Was he a presence in their lives?

All: Nope.

Anne: You know, it's bad enough that Zeus treated you that way, but you had Hera after you too. What was that all about?

Io: That one's easy. Zeus always told her it was us doing the seducing!

Anne: Works in the trailer park, so of course it would work in Olympus. It figures Hera would never turn Zeus into a tree or a bear or something. Me personally? I would have turned Him into a storm drain at the dog park.

Europa: You know what makes matters worse? We are still satellites around Him! Talk about humiliation.

Anne: I know. Damn. Then again, Europa, you have a continent named after you. The rest of you are zodiac signs and constellations and stuff too, right? And the only thing I know named Zeus is a Great Dane with prodigious bowels.

Callisto: Anne. Please tell us it gets better!

Anne: Honestly, I had high hopes for this country for awhile, but it's sliding backwards into darkness faster than I ever thought it would. But I'm determined to live to see AOC elected president.

Callisto: Who is AOC?

Anne: Is Zeus lurking?

Io: He's in Vegas.

[Anne shows her guests a photograph of Alexandria Ocacio Cortez.]

All: Ohhhhhhh!

Ganymede: If Zeus gets a look at her, he'll turn her into some kind of creature...

Anne: Ha! I doubt it. She already deals with Fox News. Zeus will be no match. Anyone want a scone?

Monday, June 03, 2019

Morons At Play

What can I say? It was a sunny day, and I had a few hours to spare while my daughter The Heir and her s.o. went canoeing. That's how I found myself on Main Street in Haterville in time to watch a Revolutionary War re-enactment.

 What was I thinking?

EXHIBIT A: BOYS AND BIGGER BOYS



The gaggle of colonials in the street had a cannon that they fired with reckless abandon at a small aggregate of Redcoats advancing on them. Lots of noise. But just like in Star Wars, no matter how much the two sides shot at each other, no one fell down.

I honestly wouldn't mind battle re-enactments if they were really authentic, as in people paying a good couple hundred bucks for movie-quality gaping wounds, which they would claw at in futility as they screamed for their mothers. Another compelling element always missing is the panic in the populace. There were lots of women standing around in colonial attire, just watching. Whereas, to be authentic, they should have been screaming and running, their few possessions or a child clutched in their arms.

All this is my way of saying there's nothing historical about re-enactments. They are a more expensive form of LARP with different rules and no dragons.

But, to make matters worse, this particular "skirmish" had a new loathsome attraction.

EXHIBIT B: UGLIEST "GODS ARE BORED" PHOTO SINCE THE END OF THE CHRIS CHRISTIE ERA


So they had a guy re-enacting an Iroquois Indian. He was on the British side.

See, if I didn't write this blog, I would have just uttered a few select expletives and walked away. But I wanted to get the reporting done, so I could bring this travesty to y'all.

This person said he has no Iroquois ancestry, he dresses like this "for the history." I asked what his gear cost, and he said around $1,000. I asked him about the red paint, and he said it's what the Iroquois wore into battle, so they could wash up afterwards and go about blithely, like blend in with the populace.

I couldn't resist. I have such a smart mouth. I said, "Well, you're lucky to be in a brand of entertainment that is more accepted than mine. I'm a Mummer, and if we came out looking like this, we would be fried on a spit." And I walked away.

Mind you, I know the difference between a battle re-enactment and a Mummers parade. In one, grown men dress up in weird costumes and make a lot of noise. In the other, grown men dress up in weird costumes and are silent.

The way I carry on with every deity from every kind of pantheon, both Old World and New World, you would think I would be okay with cultural appropriation. But for a Caucasian man to dress up like this, "for the history" or otherwise, is disrespectful beyond the pale.

I've never liked watching people shoot at each other. I think it shows bad taste. It minimizes the suffering that wars inflict upon an entire populace and the ecosystem as well. I doubt that you see many of them done in Syria or Afghanistan these days.

Well! Enough of the sermon! I know you need to have your palate cleansed, so feast your eyes on this short video clip of my Mummers club, the Two Street Stompers, covering the same material a few years back.

Palate cleanser found here.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Another Milestone Birthday

Hard on the heels of Walt Whitman's birthday comes that of my daughter The Heir. This is a milestone for her as well, but she doesn't want to talk about the number, and neither do I.

The Heir has a style all her own. It's definitely out there somewhere in the ether.

EXHIBIT A: CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK


My family is definitely "grab a costume and ride." The Heir has the most flair in this regard.

EXHIBIT B: THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR



I remember once, on Halloween, Heir went out dressed as a drag queen. That's a girl dressing up like a guy dressing up like a girl.

It's such a cliche, the idea that the moment you hold your baby in your arms, you become smitten and the Earth quakes. That certainly doesn't happen for everyone, and I would be the last to suggest it ought to be this way. Speaking only for me, it was. When the nurse handed me The Heir, the ground moved under me. I was never the same. Eventually the love I felt for her and her sister pushed me to the Goddesses, because for me, the mother/daughter bond was transcendent.

At a very low moment in my life, the Heir had occasion to read me the riot act. The fact that I had angered her altered my behavior completely. I changed overnight. That's the power a loving child can have over you: that you're willing to be your best self to make them happy, even if that takes a hell of a lot of work.

The Heir got a bachelor's degree from a 4-year liberal arts college, where the deans assured her she would be employable once she clutched the sheepskin to her bosom. Well, she does work ... and five days (sometimes six) a week, too. The jobs she has require that sheepskin. But they don't pay well, and they don't provide benefits. Her college loans hang over her, not enough to color her world, but enough to feel the flecks of pigment when she wants to be part of the purchasing economy,

I've got to hand it to her, though. She had a good season at Penn Christmas this year, snagging (among other goodies) a lifetime supply of freezer bags.

EXHIBIT C: HEART OF BRIGHTNESS


In so many ways she has surpassed me. Almost every Sunday she goes into Kensington, which is the worst drug neighborhood in the Mid-Atlantic, and she hands out clean needles, first aid supplies, and food to the addicts living there. She is part of a group. I worry for her, but I'm also proud of her. She cares about her world and the people in it.

So, here's to The Heir! May she rock on and on and on! I love her beyond words.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Bicentennial Birthday

Two hundred years ago today, a son was born to a struggling carpenter living on Long Island. The oldest child in a large family, he was sent to work at an early age in a printing shop. But he longed to write, so he pursued a career in journalism, wandering here and there, keeping his observations in little notebooks he stored in his pockets or travel bag. He wrote about everything and anything: spiders, grass, slavery, working people, ferryboats, the beach, the Gods, the jealous God, the spirit, the soul, the passion of lovers, science, family, politics, war, and this country, America. Eventually he turned all these observations into poetry. And then he became our national poet.


This is the bridge that bears his name today. He would be flabbergasted.

When I despair about this country, when I think it cannot get any worse, I remember that he saw worse. He worked in an Army hospital during the Civil War. He wrote about it, too. And yet he kept his optimism about America, about love, about the soul, and about the body and its place in the world.

I feel his spirit in Camden, the city where he chose to be buried. I stopped to see his tomb today, and it was open.



His work is timeless. If you want to see its latest iteration, try this. It's amazing.

Happy birthday, Walt Whitman! Prop us up here! Keep America singing -- its varied carols, for all of us.


"Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness,

All seems beautiful to me."

--Walt Whitman, "Song of the Open Road"

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Helen Dishaw Is Living My Dream

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your highway to hilarity in a world of woe! I'm Anne Johnson, denizen of this nuthouse garden, and you're very welcome to stop on by. Just don't stain the furniture. I'm very picky about my upholstery.

My regular visitors will recall that, last month, I took a real, live vacation to Salt Lake City to meet a fabulous condor named Andy who lives in a posh aviary there. But I was also keenly interested in meeting Andy's friend, Helen.


This is Helen with the aviary's black vulture, Chewie.

Helen is the reason Andy has become an international celebribirdy. Before she arrived in his life, he lived in a cave-like enclosure by himself (his sister died of cancer). Helen coaxed Andy out, and now he takes a daily stroll with her, in order to meet eccentric buzzard-lovers such as myself.

Helen has trained other birds in the aviary as well -- you should see Chewie with her. A vulture acting like a puppy! She and her crew also have shows featuring spoonbills, toucans, hawks, a turkey vulture, and an owl. 

The most impressive of Helen's accomplishments is that the birds in her care all seem so happy. Can birds be happy? If you have to ask, you've never had a meaningful relationship with a bird.

Someone at the aviary told me that Helen takes birds home with her when she is trying to bond with them. I'm sure she didn't do that with Andy, but he positively dotes on her. She coaxed him out for his birthday even though he had to go past some bright, flapping fabric and lots and lots of people. She calmly said, "You've got this, Andy." And he did.

Lots of people ask Helen how she got her job, and she demurs. She's not a university-trained bird person. Like so many folks who are really, really good at what they do, she's just been able to put her dreams into reality. She is very motivated.

As would I be, if every day began with a jovial stroll, just me and my Andean condor.

Helen's job isn't stress-free. Birds are touchy, and they can bite, so she needs to be vigilant without seeming so. She was pretty tense on Andy's birthday, because the aviary was so crowded. But all in all, she's clearly loving her work. I don't think I could prevail upon her to switch careers with me.

Imagine getting up every day to go see a veritable aviary full of cheery birds, who you will walk with, talk about, and perform with for people of all ages! No profession is a total bowl of cherries, but I'll bet working with Andy is at least a bowl of craisins.

All hail Helen, the lovely bird-whisperer of Salt Lake City! Helen is living my dream.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Geezer Wasteland

So I was driving to work one pre-dawn morning, and I heard an advertisement on the radio for a Who concert at Citizens Bank Park in Philly. "Whoa, that might be fun," I thought. Mind you, I had not had my morning caffeine at the time.

But even after the caffeine was restoring my neural tissues, the idea persisted that a Who concert might be a fun Saturday evening, especially in a ballpark where you could count on some affordable tickets. I asked The Fair if she wanted to go, she said yes, and I flung some ducats at a pair of seats in the nosebleed region of the structure.

The Who has always been my favorite rock band -- with apologies to Bruce Springsteen, who I also adore. I just go back farther with The Who.

EXHIBIT A: THE WHO 1970


As I plunked down $45 for two seats, I fondly recalled such seminal Who lyrics as "Hope I die before I grow old" and "We won't get fooled again." Classic anthems of rebellious youth, those.

With the Fair's schedule being what it is, inevitably she baled on the invite. This left me with two tickets to see The Who and only one person who wanted to go. I turned to poor Mr. J, who firmly feels that ballparks should be used to play ball -- but that hard-working wives need to be humored sometimes. He agreed to tag along.

Do you believe in magick? Sometimes it's hard to be skeptical.

The Fair came over for Concert Day even though she couldn't stay until evening. We went to the thrift store. Mr. J went too, and there he found, among the men's clothing, a t-shirt that said "Pinball Wizard." Never before has there been anything remotely Who-related in that store, because I would have bought it. This seemed like just the omen I needed to strengthen my resolve to actually attend the event.

Evening fell, and Mr. J was snoozing on the couch while I, pencil in hand, assayed the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Before we knew it, the clock said 8:00 and we hadn't even printed out the tickets. More reason to bag. But we persisted, because hey ... I remember the 1970s ... there's always a warm-up band, and the main attraction doesn't even take the stage until 10:00, and they play three encores. Plenty of time to get to The Who portion of the show.

We took the train into Philly and changed onto SEPTA. It was now 9:15. We waited awhile for the south-bound train, idly watching the rats scurry along the tracks.

By the time we got to the ballpark, it was 9:45. The ticket-taker said, "You're kind of late." (I guess so, no one else was ticketing in.) The Who had been performing since 9:00. Can you imagine, fellow people-of-a-certain-age?

Well, we entered at the concourse level and couldn't even find a ramp to ascend to the rafters. And at about that moment, the place rocked up with "Join Together." Being who I am, I just started dancing on the concourse. The fact that I was the only one dancing did not daunt me. Mr. J suggested that we just stay on the concourse and not even try to find our seats.

And after some trial and error, we found ourselves standing just behind a rail with a decent (albeit remote) view of the stage and a better view of the jumbo-tron.

It was at first bittersweet and even humorous, because to hear these two men sing "We won't get fooled again" is a great relief. Getting fooled again at their age would be humiliating, don't you think?

EXHIBIT B: THE WHO 2019


When I bought the tickets and saw the price range, I thought to myself, "The only way I would buy some of these high-end tix are if the entire evening was 'Quadrophenia' from end to end."

 It was "Quadrophenia" that bonded me to The Who back in the day. I was an angry teenager, living with a mentally ill, abusive mother in a dead-end small town. I got bullied in school and at home, and much of the responsibility for managing day to day household tasks fell upon me, along with my school work. Someone actually gave me my first copy of "Quadrophenia" (released in 1973). I wore that one out and bought another. The rage in that album, the sense of loneliness and isolation, parental disapproval and the solace of nature just spoke to my alienated soul. I'll bet I've listed to "Quadrophenia" over 500 times, if you count all the years I used it to exercise to as well. I know most of the lyrics, more or less, adjusting for accents and colloquialisms.

Back to the narrative: Mr. J and I had missed fully 45 minutes of the show. But what we didn't miss was a 30-minute run exclusively of songs from "Quadrophenia." Daltrey and Townsend tucked into this challenge the moment I got a place at the rail.

Reader (if you've even gotten this far in this opus), I stood there and cried. And of course, sang along.

Mr. J had never heard "Quadrophenia." Neither, apparently, had the drunken millennial Sad Boys sitting in the high end seats in front of the rail. But deeper down in the crowd, other people my age were as passionate as me.

Sometimes when I describe my childhood, people ask how I came out of it without being badly bent myself. Well, I do have scars that have affected my life, and make no mistake about it. But I credit The Who, and most especially "Quadrophenia," for keeping me sane when the world was burning down around me. I wasn't angry and alienated alone. It made all the difference.

So it was very, very special to re-visit "Quadrophenia" live in the open air, on a beautiful night in Philly, surrounded mostly by people my own age or older. It was like, "You know what? I survived, by all the Gods, and this is what saved me."

The "Quadrophenia" segment was so lengthy that after it ended, there was only time for one more song: "Teenage Wasteland." Which Townsend and Daltrey sang without a hint of irony. (They must laugh some other time, offstage.) Then they said goodnight, thanks for coming, Philly.

I turned to Mr. J and said, "They will play an encore." This is what happens at rock concerts.

They didn't. The entire light bank of Citizens Bank Park came roaring to life, and 28,000 gray Boomers and 2,000 bleary-eyed Sad Boys headed for the exits.

Bruce Springsteen has aged gracefully, turning his rocking tunes into mournful, slow ballads that he croons over a minimalist acoustic guitar. And I have to say there's something noble about that. It's easy to mock The Who for belting out their teenage angst anthems with all the theatrical moves and blasting drums of yesteryear. But you know what? It never hurts to switch off the internal clock for an evening and re-immerse yourself in your teenage experiences. And how illuminating it is to see them brought to you by someone who looks as world-weary as you feel yourself. Damn. We survived, and we won't get fooled again!

EXHIBIT C: GEEZER WASTELAND, ONLY GEEZER WASTELAND


We're all wasted!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cat Blogging Keeps Me Sane

Now there's an innovative blog post title, don't you think???

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that so many state legislatures have so many white men who can make laws that literally rob people of their essential bodily freedom. But pish tosh! What, me worry? Not when there are cats, cats, and more cats!

On Sunday morning I went to see my daughter The Fair. She lives in Philadelphia in a nice little row house with several roommates. And four cats.

EXHIBIT A: HOW THE FAIR SEES HERSELF


Like me, she is painfully aware that the only way to survive the Trump onslaught is to be surrounded by cats.

A few months ago, Fair adopted her first stand-alone cat. Her cat's name is Bijoux, and she is a pretty little thing! She's very tiny. And quite friendly. Even though Bijoux hardly knows me, she greeted me warmly.

EXHIBIT B: BIJOUX


Bijoux has a housemate named Fitz. Truth be told, I dig Fitz. He's very chill, a real bro, and also friendly to everyone. He and Bijoux exist in a kind of suspended warfare ... you know how cats are.

EXHIBIT C: FITZ


But the cats who really pull on my heartstrings at The Fair's residence are The Boys. Their names are X and XXX (I mean, who knows?), but we call them Rollo and Don Gato. These two rounders are what you would call neighborhood moochers. And it's their fault they don't have a cushy indoor gig, because The Fair tried bringing them indoors, and they went absolutely nuts. Their ears are snipped, which means they've been neutered by someone. For awhile, Rollo had on a collar with a little tag that said "Adopt Me." But he must have ditched it, because he just is an outdoor kinda guy.

Don Gato has one fang, which I guess is why he's so thin. It's painful to watch him eat. But he's one of those vocal fellows who will sing you an aria. I like that in a feline.

EXHIBIT D: THE BOYS


These two sure don't look like they've got a tough life, do they?

As it turns out, Fair was propping them up pretty good for awhile, but she discovered they have a feeding station in the neighborhood. I guess this is why they don't want to make the leap to rowhouse living. But when they hear Fair in her yard, they come strolling in, looking for a hand-out. She can pet them, but they were wary of me.

It's nice to see my Fair surrounded with cats. Somehow they seem like a bulwark against all the madness raining from the sky. There are Goddesses aplenty who look out for cat-lovers, and I can only hope that one or many of those deities are protecting my Fair.

To conclude this sermon, I would like to say farewell to Grumpy Cat. May she have found the Summer Lands. I won't miss her, because she will live forever in meme land.

FINAL EXHIBIT: GRUMPY'S LAST MEME


Thank Goddess for cats!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Smoke Screens

In my favorite movie, Matewan, by John Sayles, striking miners confront union organizer Joe Kinnehan about being a conscientious objector during World War I. The miners can't understand why Joe, an able-bodied man, would rather be in jail than fighting for his country.

Joe had an easy answer: "It was just workers murdering workers."

In these days of technology and unbridled ownership, it's oh-so-easy to pit workers against workers.

Mind you, I am absolutely appalled by these draconian abortion laws being passed by state legislatures. And I am sure the lawmakers are looking with hopeful eyes to the Supreme Court to remove a woman's right to the autonomy of her own body.

But that's not why those conservative justices are sitting there. Sure, they may overturn Roe. But abortion is a "worker vs. worker" issue.

The Supreme Court was carefully constituted by men who serve the needs of the wealthiest members of the global elite. While the spotlight is on abortion, this court has ruled against class action lawsuits and has overturned a decision that required people who were receiving the benefits of a union to pay a fair share fee for those benefits. This is the court that gave us Citizens United. Remember, the Constitution was written by wealthy aristocrats, so it's not a particularly difficult reach for "originalists" to look out for the interests of the few at the expense of the many.

The people in the highest levels of our government are doing the bidding of the moneyed elites. Abortion is a smokescreen issue that allows Congress and the courts (and, needless to say, the president) to undermine our democracy and make us all weaker, poorer, and powerless.

If I have to open my home to out-of-state women seeking health care in my state, I will do it, because it's worker helping worker. But that won't make me feel any more capable of shaping the laws of this land in a way that favors working people.

Oh, and by the way. The moneyed elite don't care about climate change, either. It won't affect them, except to undermine their profit margins if people begin to care about it.

Worker! Stop fighting other workers! Fight the owners. Forget the unborn, let's make this nation safe, equitable, and fair for everyone.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

When Good Luck Looks Like New Jersey

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Did you see that the U.S., Russia, and China are squabbling over the new shipping lanes opened up in the Arctic Sea? Well, they had better tread lightly, because Sedna has gotten wind of it, and She is pissed to the plimsol line. I personally hope She smites the politicians first and the ship captains second, but I don't particularly care what order She chooses. Transporting crude oil across seas that are thawed because of the burning of crude oil is just ... oh, for the love of fruit flies. How bad can it get?


You go, Goddess! Feed them all to the polar bears!

Well, that first little bit is not my main sermon of the day. I just read about it on page 10 in the New York Times and thought it was a new low, even for the Orange Menace and his minions.

My sermon is about appreciating the great good luck I have had to live in the post-industrial-apocalyptic-and-climate-change-inducing state of New Jersey.

Last fall I took yet another foray to an event called FaerieCon, hoping I would like it better this time. I didn't. There was even a notable Pagan speaker there, and I attended her workshop, but the whole thing still smelled like Teen Spirit to me.

Anyway, I was sitting in the Pagan workshop, thinking to myself, "Can there be any less hospitable place for a Pagan workshop than a conference room in a Marriott?" when the woman next to me turned to me and said, "Oh, isn't this wonderful? I drove all the way from Ohio to attend this! I'm so happy! No one where I live understands me at all."

Imagine that. I had driven a whopping 100 miles to the event. I even resented that distance. Imagine needing to drive several hundred miles just to lay eyes on a group of Pagans! I'm sure I would throw up my hands and return to the Christian fold, grumbling all the way. Okay well, maybe not.

My point is that over this past weekend, I got together with a few dozen crazy faerie-loving Spoutwood people, and wowsa, we meshed well!

How well, you ask?

Try this: Instead of looking at me sideways when they heard I had flown to Salt Lake City to meet an Andean Condor in an aviary, they all wanted to see pictures!

Speaking of pictures, here I am with my party program and #1 Andy Fan party hat on the day of!


Yes, the sun shone bright on Salt Lake City that day.

What I'm telling myself is this: I grew up in the mountains and miss them every day. But where I live now gives me wonderful opportunities to find people who won't judge me harshly. Yes indeed, I have heard many a comment in the vein of, "Why the hell would you fly all that way just to see a bird?" But not from my friends. Not. From. My. Friends.

I have found the mother lode of eccentric people, all well within driving distance ... and for that I thank all the Gods and Goddesses of multiple pantheons, known and forgotten by history.

If you're that poor gal from Ohio, have faith! It took me a long time to wind my way to the weird. Keep at it. The race is to the steady, not the swift.

Artwork by the incomparable Thalia Took.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Charming Chain of Command

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," and today just call me Miss Bliss! Here I have just returned from one swell getaway, and I'm fixing to take another tomorrow! Wowsa.

So today I'm going to share a series of posts by author Chas Clifton. It has been a few months since he contacted me about a problem with pesky pixies. What I loved about the subsequent correspondence was that, when I couldn't help him, I suggested walking his issues up the chain of command to a more experienced practitioner, and then he sought the advice of yet another expert we both know, and between all of us, a plan was crafted.

This is what I love about the Pagan community. It's still so small that one can easily meet or correspond with published authors in many paths. I have never found any of these authors to be anything but kindly and helpful.

You can find Chas's pixie adventure here.

It's a short read, and it sure gave me the happy feels!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Novice and Nope Ropes

Did you know the Internet calls snakes "nope ropes?" I love that. I wish I had thought of it.

Springtime is a busy season for nope ropes. They're just waking up, and it's still cold at night, so what they chiefly want is to sun themselves on rocks. Often they haven't eaten in a whole season, which makes them extra venomous too. This is not good news if you're a human.

I went to Utah to meet a condor, but I wasn't going to sit around staring at him for five days. In a search for other fun activities near Salt Lake City -- outdoor only, no temple tours -- I discovered a hike to a hot spring.

Hot spring! That's been a bucket list item for me lo, these many decades!

There were several glitches, however:

1. Mr. J has never gone hiking, even in the benign Pine Barrens of New Jersey. He's a water person. Give him a rowboat and an oar, and he's all set. But hiking? Hasn't done it.

2. Nope ropes. Abundant nope ropes of the rattling variety have been documented on the trail I wanted to take. There's a particularly compelling YouTube of a cluster of rattling nope ropes right next to the hot spring. And it's the season when these creatures come out needing a little bath to keep them in tip-top shape.

3. Speaking of shape, I'm out of it. And the trail was ranked "moderate." I had no idea what that meant in Utah. In Pennsylvania it generally means steep and rocky.

But never mind the concerns! It's not like the hot spring was going to hike down to see me! Mr. J bought a pair of hiking shoes, and bright and early on a sunny morning, we set out for Diamond Fork (Fifth Water) Hot Springs.


The first thing I discovered is that Mr. J sets a nice pace for hiking. I'm used to watching my daughters disappear into the far distance, but I kept up nicely with him. The trail was pleasantly Poconos-like, meaning steep and rocky but not what Utah can throw at a hiker. The scenery was outstanding, and the creeks were muddy torrents of snow-melt.

It was a long slog, but we made it to Diamond Fork. And there it was, a real hot spring, bubbling up from creek-side, scalding and smelling of the sulfurous bowels of the earth!


The hot water flows into a series of man-made "tubs" where you can sit and soak. It's like the Three Bears: one tub is too hot, one tub is too cold, and one tub is just right. Actually, the high water in the creek meant that the tubs weren't their signature deep blue color (the creek was overflowing into them), but they also didn't reek quite as much as they would most days.

Right above the tubs there was a Poconos-grade waterfall too! Added to my collection!


There's something about waterfalls. They always bring out the bliss.

Now, here's a sad fact for you striplings: A time comes when it's harder to hike downhill than it is to hike uphill. Gravity might be helpful to the heart, but it's a bitch for the knees. Nevertheless, Mr. J and I (after a good long soak) limped back down the trail to our car. Round trip it was five miles. My knees felt every damn rock, but Mr. J -- a complete novice -- handled it with nary a complaint.

As for the nope ropes, we didn't see any. There were many other hikers on the trail and in the tubs, and one guy said he saw two, but not the rattling variety. Nor were there any insects except butterflies! Even as I write this there are mosquitoes humming around New Jersey.


The scenery, like the hot springs, was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I haven't gotten around much. I had my own piece of mountain for the longest time, and I spent much of my life there. These Utah mountains, though ... they made my mountain look like a lil' old knoll.

If not for Andy N. Condor, I never would have known about Diamond Fork (Fifth Water) Hot Springs. Never let it be said that buzzards won't do you a good turn.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Sacred Thunderbird Navel Gaze

For a long time I have talked the talk. But last week I walked the walk. I, Anne Johnson, flew in a plane to Salt Lake City to meet a Sacred Thunderbird named Andy N. Condor.

They say you're not supposed to cross the country to meet someone you've just known online. Well, that certainly holds true for humans, but condors ... totally different story.

Andy N. Condor lives at Tracy Aviary. He is frequently online, where he performs essential ministry on the subject of vultures and their importance to the life of the Earth. I first started seeing his posts about two years ago. Then I found out that he and I both turned 60 this spring.

So I went to see him.


The very patient and understanding Mr. J and I arrived at Tracy Aviary at 9:00 on the dot for our tour. O blessed Sacred Thunderbird! Andy knew I was coming, so I got to take a special private walk with him and pose for photographs. It was a transcendent moment, dear reader.


What a magnificent specimen! I tried to contain my praise and worship so I wouldn't get tossed out. It was hard. Several times I had to ask myself why I put on makeup.


I took this photo myself. We had quite a stroll. I got to talk to Andy's best friend, a lovely Bird Whisperer named Helen, and she told me everything about him that I didn't already know. Which took about 25 seconds.

After my walk and chat with Andy, I perused the rest of the birdies at Tracy Aviary, and then Mr. J and I drove out to Park City. This was just Day One of our sojourn, so stay tuned for further missives about the adventure.

Before signing off, though, I'll have to say that I don't travel much. I hadn't flown in a plane since 2000. I haven't taken a summer off since 2015, and I've never gone anywhere on Spring Break. This brief jaunt made up for some lost time. Those of you who've known me awhile might well imagine what it meant to me to get this up-close and personal with a Sacred Thunderbird.

More soon! I'm not finished with this vulture!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Making a Pact

I am about to make a pact with an Andean condor who lives in an aviary.

He was hatched in the spring of 1959 and is celebrating a 60th birthday on Saturday.

They say he's in excellent health and could perhaps shatter records for his species in captivity.

Therefore, with a wink and a nod, I will enter into an agreement to see him again in 2029.

I have been in touch with the aviary, and they are awarding me a private audience with the dapper fellow. After our tete-a-tete, I will be spending the day doing volunteer work to help the staff prepare for the big birthday bash on Saturday.

I'm dragging poor Mr. J along, but after all this time he's well accustomed to my eccentricities.

Dear readers, I will report back when I return.

--Anne

Monday, April 22, 2019

Projects Completed and Occupied

The new luxury homes across the street are completed, upgraded, and occupied.

Behind Door Number One is a family of four: parents and children aged 3 and 1.5. The children don't understand the concept of "street." They run blithely where they please. Basically sucking entitlement from the breasts of their svelte mama, I guess.

Behind Door Number Two is a family of six: parents and children, the oldest of which is about 7. Double stroller often left on the double driveway beside the identical SUVs (well, one is gray and the other is white).

Family behind DN2 also has a dog, although my cat Gamma is about three times larger than said canine. This animal is one of those yappy pedigrees (Pom, maybe, but smaller). It makes some noise.

To say I have rolled out the red carpet of welcome to these families would be a misstatement of Trumpian proportions. I have offered a modest handshake. When the mother of the brood behind DN2 said, "I suppose you must have heard my noisy children," I didn't say, "What? Your little darlings, noisy? Why, I adore kids!" Nah. I just gave a thin grin and said, "I've lived here since 1987, and I've never seen so many children on this block."

SsssssSSSSSSSSsssssss. Petty, Anne. Very petty. Actually I don't mind the kids as much as the teacup pooch.

The one thing I have noticed that these two households have in common is this: Both dads look tired. They are prematurely gray, and they don't smile. Whenever I see them, they look grim.

Both sets of parents in both luxury homes are attorneys. That's all I know, and all I care to know.

I miss the trees.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Goodbye to Glen Onoko Falls Trail

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" How do you stand on the matter of waterfalls? As for me, I could qualify for Waterfalls Anonymous, if such a group existed. I just slobber over waterfalls. Best thing about that is, no one notices a little bit of Anne drool dripping into a cascade of clear, mountain water.

A few years ago, the combination of some weight loss and increased aerobic activity led me to attempt some daring and dangerous waterfall hikes that I might have sensibly avoided before. One of these was Glen Onoko Falls Trail near Jim Thorpe, PA.

The Glen Onoko Falls Trail is steep, slippery, rocky and perilous. But it's not like there's no warning.


And the sign doesn't lie. There have been about a dozen deaths along this trail (one of them a 3-year-old) over the years. The reason is that many people are totally lacking in sense. Maybe the sign should read


At the beginning of this trail there's a sign that clearly warns hikers that the trail is steep, slippery, and perilous, and warns people to wear sturdy hiking shoes with good tread. I had already done my due diligence about Glen Onoko before I arrived, so I had on my sturdy hiking shoes with good tread.



About ten minutes into our hike up the trail, my daughter The Heir and I met up with a family all clad in flip flops. There were parents and children. The hike had already begun to look challenging, and here these kids were in fucking flip flops.

Needless to say, Heir and I -- both clad in our sensible hiking shoes with good tread -- left the (presumably) illiterate family behind as we began to ascend toward the falls.

Glen Onoko Trail has three beautiful waterfalls. It's astonishingly gorgeous. But it is also steep, slippery, and perilous. As I was climbing (can't call it hiking when you have to use your hands too), I made a mental note that maybe I ought not try this ever again. It saddened me to think so, because...


This waterfall is so tall we couldn't get both me and the top of it in the picture. Nor can you see my sturdy hiking boots.

I've been on some rough trails in my time. The Appalachian Trail will always test you, and I've been tested. But I must say that inch for inch, Glen Onoko Falls Trail was the toughest hike I've ever taken over such a short distance. Oh, boy was it worth it, though!

This trail is the only place I ever saw a dog unwilling to follow its masters, as they tried to coax it onto rocks that should hold neither dog nor human.


The water table was low when Heir and I went, but at all times hikers could walk behind this cascade. It being August when we went, Heir was glad for the shower. I stayed behind, judging the rocks too slippery for a woman of a certain age.


I wish I had a better shot of Heir's grin as she came back from being behind the waterfall!

Long story short, the Pennsylvania Fish and Wildlife Commission, owners of this area, have declared that, effective May 1, the Glen Onoko Falls Trail will be closed.

Yes, closed. As in, not even people with sturdy hiking shoes will be allowed.

The rationale for this is the loss of life (all of it people who climbed to the top of the falls and then just had to go to the edge and look over), as well as the inevitable broken bones and sprains that can occur on such a challenging trail. You see, it takes a whole boatload of first responders to evacuate someone from Glen Onoko because the terrain doesn't accommodate stretchers, let alone vehicles. And people do get injured up in there. Apparently quite often.

So goodbye, Glen Onoko Trail! Nevermore will you end the existence of a drunken frat boy as he declares, "Hey guys! Watch this!" Nevermore will you host six-year-olds in flip flops or bridal parties in gowns and heels, looking for photo ops.


Nevermore will you host women of a certain age who, having ascended the challenging trail, feel a lingering sense of accomplishment ... heightened by the fact that everyone else at the top is a generation younger.

Nevermore will you host people who exercise monumental hubris, figuring the signs are for all the other people but not them. Oh, wait. Those morons will still rush in where angels fear to tread.


Monday, April 15, 2019

A Moment of Your Time

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we stray from the main message more frequently than we address it! I'm Anne Johnson, a wishy-washy Pagan ... but still a Pagan, thank you very much.

A scholar at American University is conducting a survey of Pagan values. If you would like to participate, here is the link:

https://american.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0PPJDpEo8UADemN?fbclid=IwAR2lRyx3MZMajcyajXj2MPFjZ4fCw2dBiXoFakRwMGIsJR0kUttZ88ee_S0

It took me about 20 minutes and didn't feel particularly threatening or judgmental.

Enjoy!


Friday, April 12, 2019

Katy Is Living My Dream

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, a has-been, over-the-hill, wannabe this-and-that. Just think! I always wanted to write a novel! (And I did, but it sucks.)

I digress. I think I'm about to start a new little series of posts here called "Living My Dream," about people who are doing what I would love to do, but couldn't or can't.

Katy is first on the list. She is my next door neighbor, and she is 10.

Every evening Katy comes out with her glove and her baseballs and practices pitching. She's got a wicked delivery for a fourth grader. And guess what else she has? She has a spot on a Little League roster!

When I was 10, I wanted nothing more than to play Little League. My mom and I used to go watch the games. (The fields were between two huge cow pastures.) In my dreams I was on the team, swinging for the fences.

But in 1969, girls were not allowed to try out for Little League. Probably just as well in my case, because my hand/eye coordination is the only thing in the world that's worse than my novel.

Anyway, last evening I went to the Haterville Little League field to watch Katy play. She pitched two innings and hit a triple. She struck out a few batters. And she was the only girl on either team.

I'm glad Katy didn't settle for playing softball. Don't get me wrong, softball's great and all that. But if you want to play baseball, you ought to be able to take a shot at playing baseball.

Katy is a proud tomboy, and this I heartily endorse. At her age, so was I.

All hail Katy, living my dream!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Can't Please Everyone

Hello, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where no good deed goes unpunished! Have you ever noticed that? The nicer you are, the more you're squashed. I'm Anne Johnson, a veritable pancake.

Today I arrived home to find the following note on my back porch:

To: Anne Johnson
From: Haterville Squirrels LL.C
Re: Ornamental Maple

It has come to our attention that you have made your ornamental maple inhospitable to hungry squirrels. Rest assured that we will bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities. You can expect to hear from our attorney, as well as the local and/or national press.

Don't think for one moment that the many peanuts you put in the back yard every day will mitigate this debacle. We are tired of peanuts and need some tender greens in our diet.

This isn't over.

Okay, okay! I have a maple tree that I planted as a seedling, grabbed from another yard. It's the same age as my daughter The Fair, and so I call it "Fair Tree." Last year the squirrels got up in the canopy and ate all the buds. The tree had scant leaves the rest of the summer.

So yes, I committed a nefarious act, and to be honest I expected some kind of retaliation.


That's cayenne pepper. I admit, it's really, really mean. But the tree won't survive another year of having all its buds eaten. It's a small tree.

I will continue to put peanuts out for these local, snobby, Haterville squirrels. Don't tell them the peanuts are for the blue jays. Next thing you know, I'll get another memo.

Monday, April 01, 2019

One Job Should Be Enough

What's wrong with the Democrats? Is it me, or is everyone missing the real problem in this country?

How long can this end-stage capitalism last, when our young people can only be employed in "gigs" as "independent contractors," as "part timers" when really they should be full time (and are, in terms of hours performed)?

Did you see this week that Lyft, whose entire work force is "gig," went public with an IPO? Shareholder value! The entire company is built on people who qualify for Medicare and food stamps!


What we have right now is a workforce that is losing all of its power to self-sustain. I am so tired of it. So. Tired. Of. It.

If I was running this world, I'd stick it to the oligarchs, and not just in this country, but everywhere. There ought to be an international cap on wealth, agreed to by all governing bodies.

Know why that will never happen? The politicians are either bought by the stinking rich, or they are the stinking rich.

One job should be enough. Enough to rent an apartment, enough to support a child, enough to afford a modest savings, a fun vacation, a car. That's not asking much. Why isn't it a platform of the Democratic Party?

Oh, by the way, sweet readers ... I missed you guys! You can comment, and sorry about the stupid verify thing. I'll try to police the sleaze bags.




Thursday, March 28, 2019

Not On This Site!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," serving downsized deities since 2005! Wow! Another follower! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have had to change the privacy settings on my comments link. "The Gods Are Bored" has been overrun with sicko spammers for Asian escort services. There are few things I find more loathsome.

Asian children from Nepal and parts of India are often trafficked into Red Light districts in the larger cities of the region. Poverty-stricken Chinese girls are convinced they will be getting good-paying jobs in America, only to be smuggled into massage parlors where rich old bastards use and discard them like sticks of chewing gum.

SMITE! I won't have this evil as part of my blogging package!


This is me when someone disrespects my blog. Any questions? If you have them, they will be moderated.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Minding My Sacred Space

Every year in March the Pagan community holds an event called Sacred Space at a hotel in Baltimore. I have never gone.

March is the hardest month when you are a school teacher. You get Daylight Savings Time as well as a level of ennui that puts the bored gods to shame. Everyone is praying for spring, praying for June, praying for evaluations to be over. It's still cold and often gray, raining but not snowing. The end of the year seems to be miles and miles away.

I lack the kind of energy I would need to go to Sacred Space and be really present there. So I stay home.

This spring I need to tend my own sacred space. The lavish new McMansions across the street are finished and inhabited. There are now 6 children under the age of 7 in those two houses. My whole block is suddenly running with kids. It wasn't that way when Heir and Fair were growing up.

It's time to tidy the outdoor surroundings, to buy screening plants for the porch and perhaps a fountain. I need a new bird bath and some more shiny stuff to please the faeries and Nature Spirits.

It will be a creative challenge to block the view of those ugly houses. If you have any suggestions, fling them at me. I need for my little piece of ground to be an oasis of peace in a desert of chaos.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mandescending and Mindfulness

You've heard the term "mansplaining," and I really like it. Whoever coined it was pretty smart. The definition is basically a man explaining to a woman something that the woman is either more knowledgeable about because it's her lived reality as a female, or something she has trained to do and knows how to do already.

For instance, my daughter The Fair was filming an event the other night with high-end equipment she is well trained to use, and some dude tried to tell her how to set up the tripod. Really?

I'm going to add a new term of my own: mandescending. This is where a man is condescending to a woman and dismisses her out of hand, even though her concerns are serious, maybe either health- or job-related.

Yesterday my school district had a professional development workshop, and part of it was yet another session on how to use the baffling new web site for which the district spent tons of money to purchase a full package. The web site does a gazillion tasks but is about as user-friendly as a potted cactus. Every time we get a demonstration, the same guy comes. He's yet another of those paid consultants who spent a few years in the classroom, couldn't wait to get out, and saw this web site as a ticket.

Honestly, I'll be the first to admit that if I had trained as a teacher I would have been looking to move into corporate somehow after five to ten years. The teaching profession is poorly-paid, overly scrutinized, underappreciated by the public, and physically and emotionally exhausting.

Part of what makes it exhausting is trying to learn the web site du jour.

To return to my narrative, I was attempting to keep up with the blistering pace of this man's presentation, and as usual I fell a step or two behind. When I asked why my page didn't look like his, he came to my station, flicked a few buttons, and said, "There you are." And sniffed with derision.

I went to the vending machine and bought a Snickers bar. First one I've eaten in two years.

The joy of the Snickers soon abated, but my fury has not.

This country treats its elders with condescension. Or mandescension, you decide.

In the summer of 1979, I was working in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of the Johns Hopkins University. I had a job with a special archive of psychiatric documents that belonged to a prominent Hopkins physician named Adolf Meyer. In order to prepare a documentary list of the voluminous records this man kept (which included extensive correspondence with Freud, Jung, and other psychiatric luminaries), the university purchased a word processor. It was the first one any of us had seen.

A technician wheeled the word processor into our office space and showed the lead archivist how to use it. But then an interesting phenomenon occurred.

One by one, the oldest professors in the Hopkins community dropped by to see the word processor. These were men (of course, it was 1979) who had probably written multiple scholarly tomes, using Royal typewriters or even legal pads. They wanted to see the machine in action. And so did I.

A few years later, I found myself working for a publishing house, preparing copy for encyclopedias. The work was done with pencil and electric typewriters. Then the company bought two word processors, but no one was particularly interested in using them. Having had a little bit of exposure to one, I gladly accepted a spot at the word processor. I got a raise.

I know I should have kept up with computing. I know I should be more capable when it comes to new web sites. Perhaps it shouldn't count that I was the most proficient with technology when certain workshop presenters were probably learning to use the potty.

I know my mental capacity isn't what it once was. I don't even write for this site like I used to. But to be dismissed with such thinly-veiled disdain was a nasty jolt. I'm old. I'm obsolete. I'm female. Thanks for reminding me.

But wait, there's more.

After being humiliated in the web site training, I had to go back into a general faculty meeting for both of the Vo-Tech campuses. When both campuses get together, it's a lot of teachers. A good two hundred plus, I should think. We fill an auditorium.

The rest of the long day was spent in mindfulness training. We had to ground, center, follow our breath, feel our feet on the floor (mine were cold), yada yada yada. Be in the moment, and if your thoughts drift, pull back to breath.

First of all, when I do this practice, it is tied to my religion, which I firmly separate from my work responsibilities. So I deliberately let my thoughts go as haywire as they wanted to. Here's the short list:

1. Wow, that guy is such an asshole! Karma's gonna come for him when he's 60, for sure. I'd like to be there when he gets confused over the communication system between himself and teachers on Mars. He won't have tenure. Maybe he'll get fired! Maybe a woman supervisor will tell him, "You're all washed up. Hit the road!"

2. I wonder where that mindfulness facilitator got her dress. Is that drip-dye, tie-dye or some other process? I like the way it drapes too.

3. Damn, I wonder what's going on with this student teacher I got assigned all of a sudden! Did she flake out on her previous assignment? What's up with that? Why did I even agree to do it?

4. Getting old sucks. I'm so tired all the time. I'm sick of people. I don't want to go out for lunch. I don't want to go to the gym anymore. My body is so weary, and my feet are cold. Why don't they turn on some heat in here? Dammit, I thought about putting foot warmers in my shoes, and I didn't do it! Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

5. I wonder if I should pull back the ivy in the back yard just a foot or two. But grass doesn't grow well, and Mr. J never mows the lawn. Isn't the ivy better? But pulling the ivy would be good exercise. Yeah, but you know how annoying it is working with that English ivy. Yeah, maybe I'll just leave it. But if I had a nice straight line down the back, I could put up a stone border, like a rock wall ... what, am I supposed to be feeling my back against the chair? Fuck that. Fuck this whole thing.

6. I think I'll stop by Woodstock on the way home and see how they're doing. It's sort of on the way. Let's see, if I take Haterfield-Berlin Road to White Horse Road, and then ... that leads right to Springdale. Easy! Because it's such a long slog up Route 73. Oh! Why does everyone have their hand up in the air? Did I miss something? Who cares?

7. I can't believe I'm hungry after wolfing down that Snickers.

8. Donald Trump is an asshole. All powerful men are assholes. Geez, even Bernie Sanders couldn't run a tight ship. But this country will never elect a woman. Women won't vote for a woman. I wonder why that is? But I know it's true.

9. Camping or a hotel? I'm too old for camping! I'm not sleeping in a tent on the ground. But the hotel is so expensive. I could use that money to improve the front porch, so I don't have to look at the disgraceful, hideous house across the street ... Is it time to go yet? FUCK! Another two hours? I can't even. Like, camping isn't as bad as all that. You wake up in the cool morning air ... snap, I would have to buy so much equipment. But then I would have all the equipment, and I could use it again! Yeah, use it again to go camping. I'm done with camping! I spent my whole teenage decade in a tent! You know what else I'm done with? Mindfulness! Just another trendy stupid thing our school district is flirting with. You'd think they would train us on what to do when angry parents start shouting in our faces.

10. Whoa, look at the shop teachers! They are giggling like kids. Welding and mindfulness: perfect together.


If you've gotten this far, I know you get the drift.

Readers, my stats tell me that I have had over a million page views here at "The Gods Are Bored." I think a significant number of those are spammers of the pornographic variety. Still, someone has been reading my drivel. If that is you, do you want me to bake you a pie?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Archives

When you're a school teacher, one dreary year blends into another. This is especially true on cold and gray March days when one has an after-work meeting at the other Vo-Tech campus, which is a 45 minute drive from mine.

As I made the long transit home from the excruciatingly boring meeting, I tried to remember how many years I've been a full-time teacher. I counted and counted in my head. But one dreary year bled into another.

Know how I figured it out? I went to the archives of "The Gods Are Bored."

I am completing my ninth year.

Oh well, lah di dah, time marches on and all that rot!

Happy Equinox to all in North America! The winters are longest when we hardly get any snow, and this is one of those winters.

If you're keeping score, I have to work another 11 years, or until 2031, in order to have 20 years in the profession. I'll be 71.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

My Grand 60th Birthday Gambit

If you're lucky, that day comes ... the day when the sun rises on your 60th birthday. You look in the mirror and say, "Wait a minute. Shouldn't I be turning 30?" But no. Daughter The Heir turns 30 soon. For me, it's 60. On Monday.

Those of you who have been with "The Gods Are Bored" since back in the grand old days know that I never opt for the sane and sensible thing to do, when instead I can do the wacky, frivolous thing.

And so, I am going on a mission to Salt Lake City to meet a very influential vulture named Andy N. Condor.

EXHIBIT A: ANDY N. CONDOR


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Anne! Why don't you go to the Andes and see real condors? This bird lives in an aviary!"

Yes, you're right. Andy lives at Tracy Aviary. Which means they know a lot about him. Including the day and year that he hatched. The year happens to be 1959.

Andy and I both turn 60 this spring.

The aviary is throwing a whopper of a birthday party for Andy, and I am going to be there. Additionally, I will be spending a day at the aviary earlier in the week for some quality time with this fine buzzard. It's going to be amazing.

What else did you expect of me? Something tame, like whale-watching? Pish tosh! The bored gods wouldn't have me any other way.

In preparation for my trip, I have done some research on hiking in the Salt Lake City area. Lo and behold, within a short drive of the city there's a fairly easy trail that leads to a waterfall and a series of hot springs. Soaking in a sulfurous hot spring has been on my bucket list forever!

So when I'm not fawning over Andy, I'll be up to my neck in a spring, or driving through big-ass mountains. This will allay some of the anxiety over the number of years I have been on the planet.

The trip is next month, during my spring break.

Please don't ask about my plans to retire. I don't have any, nor will I have any for another decade.

Alaska, Hawaii, Barbie, Andy, and me. Six decades along. Wow.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Motherly Advice for a Daughter of a Pretty Age

My dearest Fair,

As your doting mother, I feel it is well within my place to offer you advice on the matters of courtship and matrimony. You are of a pretty age, to quote Shakespeare (although the young lady of which he spoke was 13), and it is time to consider the prospects of your making a suitable match.

I proffer these remarks with a certain wistful awareness that the choice to enter into a contract often resides with the young couple these days, and not with sensible parents. Therefore I will be bold and list the qualities you must seek in the pursuit of lasting affection. They are as follows:

1. Your young gentleman must be amiable. He must greet the world with a pleasant smile and be fetchingly deferential to you and your family members, no matter how eccentric they may be. Concerning these eccentricities, which are abundant, he must regard all with benevolence and resist passing judgment on that which he witnesses. His grin must be infectious. Remember that when you are smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.

2. Your young gentleman must be possessed of a comfortable means. It need not be excessive, as in the manner of Fitzwilliam Darcy. However, it must needs be sufficient to cover expenditures with some shillings left over to bank for the future. You will, of course, contribute your own modest fortunes to the match, and therefore it should be a quite advantageous situation for you both. Go on, take the money and run.

3. He must have affection for domesticated felines and hold no allergic reactions to the species. Nor should he distinguish between pedigreed or mixed lineage -- sometimes known as "bear cats" -- never saying, "You can purr, pretty kitty, but I ain't gonna rub you no more."

4. He must eschew all frivolous forms of entertainment that require useless outpourings of lucre, most especially the despicable "football pool" and other dissipating habits. He is, however, encouraged to sit on the dock of the bay and waste time.

5. He must not be encumbered with a plethora of past contracts that were disbanded, for whatever reason. His regard must be fresh and untainted by the comparison with any other person he may have known. It should feel like the first time, like the very first time.

6. While looks are generally not important, he must possess a visage that does not frighten small children or cause laughter in the street. He should also cut a fine sartorial figure without spending excessively on his attire. Every girl is crazy about a sharp dressed man.

7. While not necessarily a gentleman who works with his hands, your young suitor should be able to mend, repair, fix, straighten, re-grout, spackle, tinker, build, and invent. He should also have a strong appetite for wholesome outdoor pursuits, including but not limited to hiking, biking, rowing, swimming, playing kickball or croquet, and scaling heights safely. He should prove daily that there ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough, to keep him from getting to you.

8. His habits in #7, above, should be moderate and not include meticulous collecting or Ironman triathlons.

9. It is always helpful if he is proficient with the sword and the dueling pistols. In short he should be willing to catch a grenade for you.

10. His interests should be similar, but not identical, to yours. That way, you enrich each other with your singular expertise while finding estimable commonalities. If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, he could just as well be into champagne.

11. He must put your happiness ahead of his own and be a safe port in the storm for you when the vicissitudes of life batter you about. He should be solid as a rock.

My my, how I do prattle on! I am quite sure this is not the whole list. Perhaps my readers will feel inspired to add their sage advice to mine. Suffice it to say that a union of true souls should not be entered into lightly, or in haste. So go on a slow ride, take it easy.

Your very loving, etc. etc.
Mama