Thursday, August 26, 2021

Die on the Hill, Just Don't Take Me Along

 Ah, summer is almost over, and a new school year beckons. Even though COVID-19 is almost worse than ever, we are back to full enrollment in our schools.

In the meantime, I know three fully vaccinated adults who caught COVID-19 and were sick for weeks. Granted, they survived. But sick for weeks. All younger than me.

Pandemic does not be over. How silly of me to think so! This is 'Murica, Land of the Idiot and Home of the Moron.

Why are people who have been vaccinated for a half dozen deadly and infectious diseases suddenly unwilling to get a shot? That was a rhetorical question. I know the answer. The answer (no matter what other answer they give) is that Joe Biden encourages everyone to get a shot. If Joe Biden promoted breathing, they would all turn blue and suffocate.

If it was just the anti-shot morons infecting each other, I wouldn't care a bit. Go ahead and die on the hill of your "freedom." But I don't want to go with you. I have done everything -- everything -- the public health experts have told me to do. Everything. A 45-minute visit on Christmas, on the front porch of my daughter's rental? Did it. Quarantine for weeks and weeks? Did it. Wearing a mask everywhere? Did it. Doing it. Will do it. Hand sanitizer? Use it. Avoiding crowded indoor events? Did it. Doing it. Will do it.

I fought to get a date for my vaccination. Now I will need to fight for a booster ... and in the meantime spend my days with a room full of teenagers. There are 100 students on my roster this year. Even if half of them are vaccinated, that'll be a lot of COVID-19 floating in the stagnant classroom air. And I will have to wear a mask all day long, every day. I'll be afraid to take it off any time I'm in the room, including when I'm alone. Shit can hang in the air.

Most of this suffering could have been avoided if we had a citizenry that is less evenly divided between reasonable and ridiculous.

Getting sick from COVID when you've done everything to prevent it is like dying of tobacco-induced lung cancer without ever having smoked a cigarette. I don't want to be that victim!

Yes, I have practiced magic to keep myself safe. But no matter. I'm predicting with confidence that I'll contract this damn plague sometime this fall. Oh, morons. Thank you so much.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Hope Is a Thing with Oak Trees

You know that even in the Wild, Wild West there were people who planted apple trees and built schools, right? That's kind of how I feel about Facebook.

The platform is a dung heap of buzzard-gagging proportions, but how else would I be able to keep up with the Southampton Township Historical Society? (They have a page.)

You see, the Southampton Township Historical Society is the historical body responsible for the area that my ancestors called home from the earliest 1700s. The president of the Society posts all kinds of stuff about that area. One day I clicked in, and there was the obituary for my great-great grandmother, who died in 1947. All kinds of stuff like that. And there are a lot of people following that page ... 939 to be exact. I'm probably related to 938 of them.

It was on this page that I saw an offer, by owner, for a small property in Southampton Township. The property is a quarter mile from the churchyard where my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents are buried.

Earlier this week, I went up to see the property in question. It's small. But I am in love.


I was expecting a steep, rocky thicket of scrub pine trees with no place to even set up a pup tent. Instead the land is a growing hardwood forest that has achieved enough maturity that the floor is springy with leaf mold and there's ample space for a cozy campsite.

This picture doesn't really capture it. The trees are tall. They're hardwood. No invasive species, no poison ivy, no place for rattlesnakes to hide.

I love it. I want to buy it. I want to be a citizen of Southampton Township again.

Working on it. Wish me well!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Plant of Doom

 It's happened twice this summer. I have gotten poison ivy without even seeing it.

I know what this pestilential plant looks like. I've known since I was a kid. "Leaves of three, let it be." Yeah yeah yeah. I know, I KNOW.

I let it be, I promise. But it finds me. It slinks through the underbrush and catches me unawares.

The first time I got it this summer, I kind of understood. The Fair and I went to Cattus Island County Park and took a hike. I stepped off the path for 15 seconds to pick some wild blueberries. I think that's when the Plant of Doom attacked. The next evening I started feeling that classic unbearable itch at two places on my leg. 24 hours later I had blisters the size of dimes.

Okay, that was weeks ago. This past Monday I did a little light yard work in my sandals. Did I mention that I know what the damn stuff looks like???? I did not see it. Nor did I touch it, because it's not on my hands. There are, once again, two blisters on my ankle, right above where the sandal hits my foot.

I. Did. Not. See. The. Plant.

I feel that poison ivy has become sentient. It is now following me around and attacking me by stealth. It does this because it knows it's the only native flora I will not abide in my yard.

Have any of you ever gotten poison ivy without setting eyes on it? I have literally not been anywhere outside of my yard since last Saturday. And I know I didn't get it at the LARP, because I wore boots, socks, and leggings while I was there.

Why, readers, why? I didn't see it! How can you get slapped by the Plant of Doom without noticing it? I'm on my way to two more  #$#S%#@$#  blisters!

Monday, August 09, 2021

Yes, I Went LARPing with a Bunch of 20-somethings in the Woods

 This post begins with a definition. LARP is Live Action Role Play.

What this means is, you go to a wooded area, arm yourself with foam weapons that look real, and fight scary monsters and zombies and other bad, weird things. I tell my students that it's basically a video game in real life.

I have a few Fairie Festival friends who recommended that I try out the whole LARP thing. They go to this event in Williamstown, NJ once a month for a weekend. I went a few times before the pandemic, but I hadn't been back to Williamstown until last weekend.

And I had a blast.

The property where the LARP is held is really swell. It's wooded in places, meadow in places, and a Christmas tree farm. The people who go to this regularly have built structures in the woods. There are so many it really looks like a little magical town. I would say there are at least five acres in all. So, if nothing else, it's fun to just stroll around.

LARP is pretty complicated, especially if you've never played a D&D type role-play game. Which I haven't. So I don't really know how to defend myself from the monsters. My only strategy is to run, but now that I'm better known as the token geezer, the monsters just let me escape. It's called "noncom," and it saves my graying keister.

"Graying" is the operative word here. I could be the parent of almost all the other players. There aren't any others in my generation. The participants are mostly 20-somethings, maybe early 30s. Some of them have tots.

On my previous visits to this adventure, I was pretty awkward. This time I kind of found a niche as a Non-Player Character (NPC). I helped to hang shiny things in the woods, I helped to determine where the magical land-shifting was occurring, and I did the muscle-memory church lady thing--helped to prepare dinner for everyone. In between I watched battles from a safe distance and caught up with my festival friends.

I was warmly welcomed in Williamstown. It felt good, sort of like a festival but not.

I'm going to the next event, Labor Day weekend.

No photos, alas. It's hard to run from monsters with an IPhone in your hand.

Friday, August 06, 2021

In Which Fox News Robs Me of Another Valuable Friendship

 We have all been there, right? Someone we have known forever, loved forever, looked forward to seeing, goes down the worm hole and becomes lost to us. But not without a parting salvo.

There is a business in my community that I have loved and supported for 17 years or more. It's family-owned and run by a mom, pop, and son. It stocks items I would much rather buy in person than from an online source.

Now, these owners. I'm not going to say they weren't eccentric (or Republicans) before they tripped and fell into the Fox News wormhole. I knew that small business owners frequently vote Republican because of tax issues. But 10 years ago, these people would not have displayed the xenophobic, racist anxieties that they are displaying today.

I didn't even have to go to the store to discover the sea change. Today I was reading on my porch when the mom of the business called me. I have her in my phone as "Mom."

She wanted me to be her co-author, and she sketched an idea that she thought would make a great t.v. series. It was so loathsome that I have no doubt it would be a fantastic hit with the people out there who refuse to be vaccinated because "freedom."

When I asked her where she got her idea for the series, she said, "The news." Note that she knows me well enough that she didn't say the "F" word. But I already knew the answer before I posed the question.

A fellow customer just told me that this business now has Fox News running in the back room all day every day. This would do wonders for the store if it wasn't located smack dab in the bleeding heart of Liberal Land. As it is, I don't think many customers will agree with the sentiments.

I counted this family as best friends and visited their emporium frequently, up until four years ago, when my visits fell off sharply. Now the visits will end. I would rather not see them at all than see them parroting the Fox News hard-liners. This makes me very, very sad.

But OH WELL. Tomorrow, while the business celebrates its 40th anniversary with a lawn party, I will be 30 miles away, doing a LARP with people I don't even know!

Shedding a shell, growing a new one, knowing that a lot of good will be left behind.