Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Paganism in Public Schools: A Teacher's Guide, Part One

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," public school teachers! Perhaps you have noticed that things have changed overnight in the ol' US of A. And while none of us like it, well, there you are. Personally I am heartsick, because separation of church and state has always been important to me. But pish tosh! We've all got to suck up and live by the new rules.

If you are a Pagan public school teacher, chances are that you have been entirely closeted about it in your classroom. Me too! However, I have always had a feeling that some of my students could benefit from some basic Wiccan/Druidic/Santeria influence. Over this summer break, I will be offering helpful tips on how to conduct Pagan practices in a way that is not coercive but is true to your personal faith.

First you need to spruce up that drab desk of yours!

Calling the Quarters is an important part of my practice. In years past, I have marked the Four Directions on a discreet sticky note that I stuck to my desk. This year I plan to mark my teacher desk in a more prominent way: a bright green paper taped to the desk for East, a bright orange or yellow paper taped to the desk for South, a bright blue paper taped to my desk for West, and a bright violet piece of paper taped to my desk for North.

I will feel free to talk about the Directions to my students if they ask. I'll also be sure to take some photos of my desk when it's all done up!

Ancestor Veneration is also an important aspect of my practice. This is the easy one. Nobody is going to look twice if you load your teacher desk with photos of the ancestors you admire. I've never taken pictures of my family in to school before, but wow. What a great idea! 

Deities. We all have Deities that support our work as teachers. But I'll bet you never had a picture of your Goddess on your teacher desk! I guess I am a bit ahead of you there, because since the pandemic started I have had a beautiful work by Thalia Took right behind my desk, discreetly looking outward. Here is my school Goddess:

EXHIBIT A: Artemis Brauronia

I have this photo in an ornate frame. A few students have asked me about Her in passing, and I have given vague answers. Now I will be more detailed, including how Artemis and I found each other.

(Aside, Artemis is not necessarily the Goddess for you. Check out Thalia's gallery: She has a lot of Goddesses!)

Herbs and crystals are something I haven't placed openly on my desk before. I have kept them in a small portable altar box. I'm actually really excited about getting some nice crystal geode to use as a paperweight. It really will soothe me to have an actual crystal on my desk! Take a crystal that speaks to you and use it! I wouldn't take one from your supply already, because things do disappear from teacher desks. Buy a new one specifically for your classroom and charge it yourself.

Instructive reading material. In my school district, which serves minority urban students, we teachers are encouraged to have compelling classroom libraries. I have a really good one, liberally supplied by readers of this blog. One thing I haven't had before, but will have now, are books about Witchcraft. I know some of my students are interested in this topic, and I also know that the secretary who runs our school library is a Christian zealot and Trump supporter.

There is actually a really nice introductory book about Witchcraft specifically for teens, and I have done the Amazon link here just because it's easiest. The best thing about Amazon is that they will have similar titles underneath the listing. I'll be adding this book and at least one book about astrology to my classroom library in the upcoming school year. Do some research! I'm going to try to find books about ancient religious practices of the Caribbean, because many of my students are from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Here at "The Gods Are Bored" we like to do series posts, so please check back for future installments about creating a Pagan classroom and modeling your religious faith for your students. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. None of us are rejoicing, but we must be heard and seen. It's in the Constitution.

Blessed be!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Thousand Questions

 I'm thinking this morning of Town Creek. It begins in Pennsylvania near the tiny town of Rainsburg and flows from north to south 36 miles to Oldtown, Maryland, where it flows into the Potomac River. The Potomac can be easily forded at Oldtown. It's not very deep there.

If you were a slave fleeing the South before the Civil War, you could follow a stream like Town Creek up into Pennsylvania. In the absence of maps, it was a way to move north, and most of it can be waded, which helps cover tracks. You would also have a clean water source.

My ancestors lived along Town Creek, just over the Mason Dixon line in Pennsylvania. In one instance, documented in The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley, they discovered a group of 13 runaway slaves who had committed mass suicide on their property, rather than be taken back to Virginia. Those suicide victims are buried in the Imes family graveyard along Town Creek, in plots marked just with the local shale.

If the escaping slaves committed suicide, it follows that they must have known they had been discovered and were going to be captured. This means that my family must have had to stand up to bounty hunters. Dead bodies were as valuable in the South as live ones, because of the terror they would inspire.

My great-grandmother was an Imes, a direct descendant of the patriarch who would have had to make decisions in the days of the Underground Railroad. I was three when my great-grandmother died, and although I met her I have no memories of her. Second-hand I learned that she was hard to live with. She suffered from intense anxiety and projected the worse outcome for every small thing. My uncle told me that her favorite expression was "Hit's a carshun." Translated, it means "uh oh."

It's not a leap to imagine that the Imes family had a streak of anxiety in the days of the Underground Railroad. They were less than three miles from the Mason Dixon. Helping runaways of any kind must have been a fraught exercise for them.

Today I am imagining the conversations that must have occurred in that farmhouse along Town Creek. What's right? What's wrong? What can we do? How will we be held responsible? How will this impact our family? Do we really want to involve ourselves in this?

For people who (perhaps) projected the worst outcome, this must have been excruciating.

This is not to minimize the 10,000 times worse situation of runaway slaves. I'm only speculating on how my particular family might have reacted to the situation they found themselves in, situated on a stream that flowed from north to south, ending across a wadable river from Virginia.

I want to overhear those conversations in that farmhouse. I want to ask Aaron Imes a thousand questions. I want his courage in the face of atrocity. How did you do it, family?

I'm saying this because something has changed in America, and something has changed in my neighborhood as well.

In America, we have slid back into a dark era. Many people have lost autonomy over their very own bodies.

And in my neighborhood, three blocks from my house, this:


My friends, this morning I want to step back in time. First I want to go see the Imes family and ask them a thousand questions. Then I want to go to see Anne Johnson, circa 2008 and tell her that her cocky, cheeky, snarky belittling of the Christian Right completely minimized the damage they could do -- not just in matters of women's reproductive freedom, but in a larger and more sinister plan to control lives, ALL lives, on behalf of the wealthiest elites.

I feel like Town Creek has come to my doorway in Haterfield, New Jersey. Do I have the courage to be an Imes, anxiety be damned?

Gods help me. Gods help us all.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Another Pesky Supreme Court Decision

 I'll keep this one brief, since the decision isn't published yet. But ...

Our new Spanish Inquisition Supreme Court conservative majority is about to issue a ruling about prayer in school. Specifically, Christian prayer on a football field after a game. Can a coach kneel and pray on the field at a public school, subtly encouraging his players to do the same?

I would lay a hefty bet that our current Supreme Court is gonna say OH JEHOVAH YES, LET'S SWAY THOSE FINE YOUNG MINDS.

To which I say: Fine! Will do!

As a firm believer in the separation of church and state, I have kept my Pagan beliefs entirely to myself. One time I saw a student reading a book about witchcraft. That was the only time that I ever had a conversation about Paganism in my classroom. And it was just with that kid.

My religion doesn't belong in my workplace. Or, I should say, right at this moment it doesn't. If the Supreme Court rules as above, re, swaying the fine young minds, then strap yourself in. I'm gonna sway.

This doesn't mean that I have changed my mind about the separation of church and state. This means that the Supreme Court is reactionary and regressive, and five supposedly intelligent human beings have not thought through the entirety of the possibilities of prayer in schools.

If the court decides for the coach who prayed on the football field, I will be offering up free advice to all my Pagan public school teacher colleagues nationwide. It'll be a whole doggone series on how to call the Quarters in the classroom, how to display an altar on your desk, and how to weave the tenets of Paganism into daily lessons.

Do I want to do this? No. Do I feel called to defy these dark times? Yes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Full Moon, Solstice Soon

 Teacher in September: By golly, I'm going to go to the gym after work! I've been doing it all summer. How hard can it be?

Teacher in June: Let me sit here in the recliner for an hour before I change that tablecloth.

My lieblings, this is not hyperbole. The tablecloth dodge literally happened to me a week ago.I feel even worse today.

With three days left in the school year (one of them devoted entirely to picky paperwork), I am fried like your granny's Maryland chicken.

I don't like to bitch and moan about my job, because I've got one. But dang on a biscuit, it's an exhausting bit of business.

Like, I didn't even need to make these memes. I just Googled "tired teacher." There are so many of us!

But the full moon will soon be rising, and Solstice is next week. I will finally staple the last piece of newspaper over the last square of bulletin board and walk out for a nice long holiday.

It will take me about a week to regain my energy. But once I start getting enough sleep, I'll be full of piss and vinegar again.

And speaking of sleep, the sun is still high in the sky, and I'm ready to hit the sack. Yep, 7:15 p.m. is the new midnight.

But I'm not worried. Every little thing is gonna be all right.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

What Did I Just See?

 For those of you just joining in the fun here at "The Gods Are Bored," you should know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of organized labor. I want to be buried with my union card in my cold, dead hand. United we bargain, divided we beg. Therefore it was with great happiness and anticipation that I got up this morning and headed into Philadelphia for the AFL-CIO Unity Summit.

Every four years the AFL-CIO has a whopper of a convention, and I guess it's just about like any other convention, with lots of people cheering and saying all the right things. This year's convention is in Philadelphia, which is a neat 20 minute train ride from my door. Joy!

Except the convention starts on Sunday, and the Unity Summit was on Saturday.

If the date wasn't tip-off enough, the invitation I got to this Unity Summit was just another email to my inbox with a link to register. Just out of curiosity (to see how much it cost to attend), I filled out the registration. Turns out it was free, with lunch provided. 

Better yet, there was a whole day of speakers scheduled for the Unity Summit, and there was a breakout seminar called "Next Gen Organizing" having to do with bringing more young people into the labor movement.

To say I had high expectations for this bash was an understatement. Philadelphia is a union city. Our Labor Day parade is impressive. My first thought was how long I might have to stand in line before I could get my registration badge.

The first tip-off that my expectations were about to be shattered was how long it took me to get my registration badge. I walked right up.

The festivities were scheduled for a ballroom on the top floor of the Convention Center. And the last time I was in that space was at Netroots Nation in 2019. Elizabeth Warren was one of the speakers that day, and the freaking Fire Marshal was at the door because of the crowd.

Today the Fire Marshal must have been home with his feet propped up, drinking his coffee and placing a few online wagers. When I say that ballroom was sparsely populated, I mean it was embarrassingly empty, considering the heft of the AFL-CIO.

To make matters more depressing, the speakers were outstanding. They all had rousing messages about battling voter suppression and systemic racism, and one or two of them mentioned in passing that Amazon and Starbucks workers were organizing here and there ...

Wait. What?

Over the past six months, about the only good news was that workers had successfully organized an Amazon warehouse and numerous local Starbucks stores. To me this is huge. It's the future of the labor movement, and the AFL-CIO should be all over it. In fact, I expected "Next Gen Organizing" to feature some of these brave people from Amazon and Starbucks. Nope.

So there I sat in a dark, cavernous ballroom, watching enthusiastic speakers dish out heaping helpings of platitudes to empty tables.

Worst part was that the "Next Gen" segment featured people who were indeed young, but they were also children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of union members who happened to go into the organizing business. Which is what it seemed like - a business.

All of this I can forgive, because solidarity. But you know what is unforgivable? There was no swag. Dang! What's a convention without swag?

(Well, I think some people got some swag, but all I got was an N95 mask I had to put on right away, and two Covid testing kits as I left.)

The whole thing reminded me of how the administration in my school district celebrates National Teacher Week by giving each of us a bag with some random penny candy and a mini bottle of water.

Either go big or go home, that's my motto. The AFL-CIO could have thrown a gigantic party today at the Philadelphia Convention Center if they had just invited everyone who marches on Labor Day to come in their union t-shirts, gather in some swag, and have a nice lunch. The ballroom would at least have been populated. As it was, any oligarch who might have wandered into the Unity Summit could quickly conclude that the halcyon days of organized labor are over and done.

Don't get me wrong. The convention only gears up on Sunday, and rumor has it the president might drop in before it's over. So I'm sure that all the union muckity mucks from all over America will be descending.

But not the most important muckity mucks. Not the brave people stepping out of line at their workplaces to form bargaining units. Not the soldiers. Just the generals.

Oh well. The day wasn't completely lost. On my way back to the train I went through Reading Terminal Market and snagged a Beiler's doughnut.

Now I'm back in my lounge chair, having learned nothing about how to help those Starbucks baristas get unions in their shops.

In solidarity,

Anne Johnson

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Free Advice on Traveling without Being Tracked

 Hi ladies, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I am Anne Johnson, a happy Pagan in the Great Blue Northeast, USA. I live in a state that has not only enshrined a woman's right to body autonomy into its laws, it also stands poised to be a "sanctuary state" for anyone looking for private medical care. 

If I can toot my own horn a bit more, I'm also a woman of a certain age. What's that age, you ask? Oh, I'm not shy about it. I was a stripling of 14 when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

A lot has changed since then.

The biggest change, bar none, is the cell phone. Did you know the doggone thing tracks you everywhere you go? And you would have to find someone WAY techier than me to tell you how to disable the tracking, should you need to for personal reasons.

But I can still help you. What if you took a trip and left your phone behind? Then no one could track you at all.

Scary, right?

Well, I'm here to tell you, it can be done! When I started traveling across state lines in 1974, nobody carried a phone with them. The phones were in little glass booths on the street corner. Or stuck to the wall in your house.

So. Let's suppose you want to travel from, oh, I dunno, Oklahoma to sunny Atlantic City, New Jersey, without your phone. Sounds terrifying. And I'm not gonna sugar coat it. This will not necessarily be like hopping in your car and turning on your Maps app.

First, you need to plan ahead. WAY ahead. You need to pretend that you may need a medical procedure at some point, and you need to put away cold hard cash. Don't wait until you need the money! Start now. Today. Put away as much as you can. You'll need cash for travel and for your medical procedures, and for a hotel room. In Atlantic City, most of the hotels are ridiculously expensive, but not all of them.

Second, you need a paper map of the old USA. Buy it right away and keep it handy. Then locate the nearest Greyhound bus terminal to where you live. I know, I know, Greyhound is the suckiest way to travel. But they go everywhere, and they take cash and give you a paper ticket if you ask.

If you plan way ahead, you can even enter some hypothetical destinations in Greyhound's web site and find out how much you will need for your excursion.

But how can you book a procedure in a strange hospital in a strange state? Again, ladies, you need to have an abundance of foresight. Locate the names and numbers of clinics you may some day need to visit. Write the names and numbers down on old-fashioned paper with an old-fashioned pen. Then, when you do need to call, you can buy a burner phone or borrow your best friend's phone to make the appointment.

Once you get a person on the phone to help you with the appointment, you can ask them: Where can I stay? Can someone pick me up at the Greyhound terminal? Is there any support system in place for a lady in my predicament? I'm hoping we will all be pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of aid that will flow in certain cases.

Thank goodness cash is still an option for so many ventures! When they do away with good old-fashioned dollars and cents, we will all be up Shit's Creek.

Most of us don't have a lot of ready money lying around, nor do we have easy ways to earn it. So my free advice to you, ladies, is save what you can. If you can put two bucks a day in an envelope, you'll have about $700 in a year. That takes a lot of discipline, but it's a sensible plan. 

I spent a lot of miserable hours on Greyhound buses. They are slow and stinky. But they go from A to B to Z. My free advice on Greyhound travel? Have that paper map, and pay attention to the stops! You don't want to miss your stop. (Well, in the case of Atlantic City, you won't miss the stop. It's as far as you can go on dry land.) You'll probably have to change buses a few times, though. Stay alert.

My last piece of free advice really shouldn't cost you a dime. You need to go to the board of elections and register to vote. Here's something you can freely look up on Google! You can find out just how to do it in your state. Then, once you are registered to vote, go out there and vote these monsters out of office. Bad things happen when you don't vote. Very bad things.

I hope you never need this advice. But take it from me, it is still possible to leave your phone on the shelf and take a trip somewhere. You just have to plan the old-fashioned way. Beforehand. Before you need to go anywhere.

This is what we did in 1974.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Guns Are the New Cigarettes

 Smoking was very fashionable when I was a kid. There were t.v. commercials that promoted it, there were brands for women and brands for men, and the product was available everywhere and affordable. The tobacco industry employed thousands and thousands of workers.

Everybody smoked.

I have no idea why, but my family was an exception. My parents and grandparents didn't smoke, although their siblings did. But my tobacco-free household was the exception to the rule.

Movie theaters were hazy with smoke. Buses were clouded with smoke. Go to a restaurant, everyone would be smoking with their meals. Cigarette butts lined the gutters. Every house had ashtrays.  And nobody gave it a second thought. People weren't defensive about smoking, it was just something everyone did.

Big Tobacco knew as early as the 1950s that smoking was linked to lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, and emphysema. They released "study" after "study" that showed no link between tobacco and cancer.

Lots of people were dying, though.

It took a long while for reality to sink in. Figure that cigarettes became widely popular in the 1920s. So by the 1960s, people who started smoking in the 1920s were getting sick. In droves.

My best friend's mother was a chain smoker. She died of emphysema in her 40s. And this unfortunate woman was not an outlier. I had numerous friends whose grandparents were battling cancer. My parents' friends were all sick.

In the face of such carnage, Big Tobacco could no longer lie their way out of responsibility. Better yet, the widespread public perception of smoking changed.

Smoking was banned in theaters. Then on planes and buses. Then in restaurants, hospitals, libraries and schools. Then in bars. Then in outdoor settings. Nowadays, if you light up a gasper in a crowded Irish pub, you'll get the stink eye and the bouncer along with your shot and chaser.

So many people had to die for this major social change. It was a rare family that wasn't touched in some way by smoking-related illness.

Guns are the same way.

The NRA will tell you that there's no correlation between gun violence and gun ownership. They have "studies." They have a veritable Bible of philosophy on the goodness of guns.

The assault weapons ban enacted after Ronald Reagan was shot was allowed to expire in 2004.

If guns have a 40-year run of death and destruction the way cigarettes did, the American public will finally be fed up and ready to enact bans around 2050. Sadly, that is my prediction. We are looking at a situation where gun violence will have to touch a majority of American families, the way smoking-related illnesses did, before any action will be taken.

Then it will be taken. Gun owners will get the bouncer and the stink eye. They will be shamed in public for their bad habits. They will give the guns up for their own safety and encourage their friends to do it too. They'll do it because they will personally know multiple people who have died due to gun violence.

This is the anatomy of a public health crisis. People blithely use a deadly product and justify their use, right up until there are widespread deaths directly linked to the product. Then, and only then, do people step back and show some common sense.

The difference between guns and cigarettes is that not many kids died from smoking-related illnesses. Kids are dying from guns. But until lots and lots and lots of kids die, until the gun-toting citizenry loses its own loved ones, nothing will be done.

Gun ownership is a public health crisis. It's a plague masquerading as a pastime.

As a teacher, I hope I survive it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Redirecting You Tonight

 Not gonna lie, I've lost a step or two with the ol' humor, and I know it. Fortunately, my old pal Thumper Lightfoot is ramping up. So tonight I offer a link to his very helpful advice about how to rile up a River Spirit.

The post is here, I hope! 

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Public School Teacher Reads "The Dawn of Everything" in the Spring

 What's the name of this blog again? Something about Gods. What's my name? Oh, I know this one! My name is Miss. Pretty sure of that. It's a very common teacher name.

So for Xmas my husband (I forget his name) gave me a book called The Dawn of Everything. It's a heavy book. I mean heavy as in it hurts your hands to hold it. Don't quote me on this, but I think it's over 700 pages, including exhaustive footnotes and bibliographies.

I've been reading this book with teacher brain since early March. It was interesting, I think.

Long story short, this book is about, em ... everything? First thing in the morning? Well, I am an absolute expert on that! I have to be everything to everybody at 7:15 a.m. every weekday! Heck, it's dawn or near dawn or before dawn when I wake up, ten months of the year. So I know me some dawns.

The book. It's about ancient cultures, and Indigenous Americans, and whether or not human history leads in a straight line from little bands of hunter-gatherers to Elon Musk buying Twitter.

Now, I would absolutely hate to ruin this important and fascinating book for you, so I'm not going to offer up any spoilers here. Mostly because I can't. I read this book with teacher brain. I think I got the message of it, but I won't be sure until mid-July when the fog clears and I'm no longer chronically sleep-deprived.

It's not just The Dawn of Everything that eludes my fried-egg-in-the-pan brain. It's the Sunday New York Times, the cookie recipe on the side of the oatmeal box, the exit signs on the New Jersey Turnpike, the laundry directions on a pair of blue jeans. I can't comprehend basic syllables, let alone sentences.

Well, it's 8:12 p.m., my bedtime. I feel like I could sleep for 15 years.

I have not used The Dawn of Everything as a book to fall asleep while reading. It's too heavy for that. Plus, my cat Gamma bats books out of my hands when I read in bed.

I liked The Dawn of Everything? Ask me again in August.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

May Day Faerie Festival at Marshy Point

 What do you know? All this Supreme Court s*** hits the fan, and I get so bummed out that I don't post about the first Faerie Festival I attended since the lockdown! It was already last weekend.

I thought I would cry, and I did.

Day to day I don't have any close friends around me. I have acquaintances like the Monkey Man and colleagues at work, but most of my spare time goes to the spouse and the daughters. There are only so many hours in the day.

I'll bet the same can be said for the other people who go regularly to faerie festivals, because wow, when we got together it was like a fresh breeze blowing away all the stale air! So very good to see everyone again, so good that we came through the pandemic and into each others' arms!

The festival outgrew its original stomping grounds before the pandemic and has since moved to Marshy Point Nature Center near Baltimore. This is a quite pretty setting. Along some of the walking trails there are vernal ponds full of tadpoles, and of course there's that classic Chesapeake Bay-style view of a swath of water with reeds and stuff. Another bonus was a black vulture named Dumplin on exhibit. (Turns out black vultures don't particularly care for bagpipes and shouting. Who knew?)

All the elements of May Day returned. The Maypole, calling the Quarters, Tribal rivalries. Which of course yours truly aced like a boss.


Okay, okay. At least I had a tribe. With a hobgoblin. Something to be said for that. If you look close you can see Kwiplick the hobgoblin on the shoulder of Professor Greenman. That's me behind the banner.

The event was very well attended, and the vibe was merry, festive, and respectful to our great Mother Earth. It was incredibly great to see all my friends!

Beltane is one of the major holy days on the Pagan calendar. It's a day dedicated to youthful joy and the lust that's rising in the land at this time of year. Perfect moment for a bunch of people who have been holed up behind masks and locked up in their homes to come dancing out for a good ol' time!

The festival lasted two days. I went to Marshy Point a day early to help set up. And I actually set things up! Not my strong suit. 

All hail the return of festivals! All hail Beltane, the day of dancing! As for me and my house, we will serve the Green Man.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

What Happens When It Happens?

 There was no particular controversy back in 1973 when women were guaranteed the right to bodily autonomy in the USA. Then as now, the majority of thinking people in American felt like the government shouldn't be messing in peoples' personal medical decisions.

The only blowback on Roe v. Wade came from certain sects of fundamentalist Christians. At first they made a lot of noise in their own domains. Then the Republican Party needed a platform to attract those voters, and abortion seemed tailor-made.

So, let's look for a moment at America since Roe v. Wade. At the time that decision was handed down, more than 24% of Americans were in labor unions. Now that percentage stands at less than 6. A family could live on one parent's salary. Now they can't. Housing and college were affordable. Now they aren't. There was government-provided day care. Now there isn't. Companies gave their employees health insurance that was pretty comprehensive. Now they don't.

Why is this important? Because both political parties stopped caring about the prosperity of the electorate, but the Republicans in particular.

No one has challenged the ridiculous stagnation of wages while prices rise ... because unborn babies. No one has challenged our deplorable health care in this wealthy nation ... because unborn babies. Heck, if not for one principled decision by a dying man, we wouldn't even have Obamacare anymore! Because unborn babies.

Just this past year, no one stood up for a terrific child care credit. It expired. Because the babies it served are born.

Now things stand to change.

States will pass draconian laws that roll back certain guarantees that have been in place since 1973. These laws will fall upon people who have never given their rights much thought.

It will be up to those people to go out to vote. If they don't, they deserve to live in the Hellscape that has been created for them.

Now, mind you, the Republicans are trying to find more red meat to fling at these same voters. But no amount of trans-bashing and teacher-bashing is going to overcome the sudden realization by millions of men and women that they may be saddled with an unwanted child. Saddled with pregnancy, which is a tough nine months. Saddled with expenses, one way or another.

It's not going to matter to Karen whether or not there's a trans student on the volleyball team when -- at age 40 -- she suddenly finds herself carrying a baby she doesn't want and can't afford. Critical Race Theory won't matter to Buffy when her cheerleading uniform starts fitting tight and she falls out of the running for 'Bama Cheerleader of the Year.

This is a test for our democracy. This is a test for workers. Breaking free of the "right to life" dogma, people might actually ask themselves what our government has given them in the past 50 years, as opposed to what the government has taken away. 

In New Jersey we have a blue legislature and a blue governor. A woman's right to bodily autonomy is enshrined in the state constitution. And just last week we got legalized weed!

If nothing else, the Republicans have just boosted New Jersey's tourism industry. But my feeling is, this regressive party has just Fucked Around and Found Out. And if it hasn't, the whole mess of a country should be divvied up. Just as when you lop off a rotting limb to save a whole person. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven for Single Ladies

 Are you a single lady in need of a quick vacation to the Garden State? Have I got a deal for you!

My name is Anne Johnson (really), and I have a nice little house with two spare bedrooms, here in New Jersey, the Garden State. I'm just a hop and skip from Philadelphia International Airport.

Would you like to take the Bruce Springsteen tour and hear a concert at the Stone Pony? We can do that. How about a nice hike with a few waterfalls? You would never guess New Jersey has waterfalls, but we do ... lots of them!

But of course the best part of this Constitutionally sound state is the Shore! Dear old Jersey Shore. You might not believe it, but the Jersey Shore is just like they showed it on t.v. Cheesy gaudy boardwalks, bars upon bars where you can get blotto in your bikini, caramel popcorn and taffy by the gallons, and miniature golf! And that's just Seaside Heights. If you go to Atlantic City, there are glitzy casinos and a first-class health care system in case you need some emergency procedure.

You can't beat this deal, ladies. For an unlimited time, you can stay at Chateau Annie absolutely for free! Yep, you heard that right. I know how expensive travel can be, and how single ladies often struggle financially.

The best part of Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven is that we have a big, broad, flexible outlook. We don't judge other people or tell them what to do with their lives. Be yourself, single lady! You're safe and sound here.

I'll be putting up offers here, beginning this summer. A simple email can set up your stay at Annie's. When certain things become official, this here tourist destination will be open for business.

No Bibles by the beds, either. I can give you some great witchcraft volumes to peruse. The library will be open to all the single ladies.

Come to Annie's Garden State Tourist Haven! We all need some privacy from time to time.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

I Have Returned from Anneland

 Anneland. That's what I'm going to call my mountain property. It's the most beautiful little scrub forest in the world! I'm just back from my first visit, and now I am going to bore you to death with the details!

I know, I know. I should be sticking to interviews. Who wants to look at photos of a scrub forest in the middle of nowhere?

Then I will be brief.

I did not know the boundaries of the land I bought, so when I arrived to find 5 inches of snow on the ground, I was also pleased to find that the surveyor had wrapped neon pink ribbons around trees on the property line. These same trees are also blazed white. No question where my place begins. And thank goodness for that, because here's my neighbor:

I made a list of things I was hoping to find on my property. One thing was a really mature tree. And, bingo.

I wasn't kidding about the snow. It's usually cold in those mountains in April, but it doesn't often snow this much. But hey, I love the white stuff!

Saving the best for last. When I got the survey at closing, I thought there *might* be a view. On that account I was surprised to the point of weeping.

I don't have any plans to build on this property. The land is not even on the grid. But if my ship were to come in, this would be what I saw while sipping the morning tea and doing my devotions to Venus Cloacina.

And oh yeah, that ridge is Polish Mountain, where my grandfather's farm was. It's not the farm pictured, but that's a good thing.

The only other item I have to report in this boring ass blog post is that I have vowed never to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to access my property. For one thing, its pace is worse than frenetic. For another thing, the tolls would set me back $100 per trip. So I took little ol' Route 30, the Lincoln Highway. Through Lancaster (Amish buggies), York (Walmarts), Gettysburg (battlefield), Chambersburg (city square), Caledonia State Forest, McConnelsburg (unfortunate name), and down to Route 522. Skipped that turnpike completely, and it only took me about an hour more! (It takes a solid hour to go the first 20 miles out of Philadelphia).

Something funny did happen on this trip. Saving it for the next installment of this Endless Navel Gaze called "The Gods Are Bored."

Monday, April 18, 2022

I'm Going Forest Bathing

 You've got to hand it to the Japanese. They come up with some of the best ideas.

Take "forest bathing," for instance.

That's what the Japanese call it when they stroll off into the woods and just take in all the joy that Nature has to offer. Apparently the Japanese do this in droves.

I've done this, but I never had a name for it. And it's been way too long since I have done it, mostly because every time I've gone to a forest in New Jersey, it has been densely populated with other New Jerseyans. It's to be expected, I suppose.

But the forest I am about to bathe in has no one around. It has no trail through it and no significant landmarks that I know of yet. It's off the grid and probably off the world wide web as well. Forest bathing is not done in the nude, but if I wanted to I sure could.

Gonna stroll into the woods for a nice long forest bath. Gonna stand there and appreciate the miracle of owning mountain property again. Gonna pull out a chair and a good book and just take in the view. Gonna hug every tree and kiss the ground, because I belong in the mountains, and it's been too long. 

I will bore you with photos when I return.

I'm going home.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Frank Talk about Keeping Your Classroom Free of Any Mention of Gay or Trans

 Hi there, I'm Teacher Annie of "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm an expert on all things teachy, since teaching is my job. Okay, okay, I'm only proficient, never distinguished, but you fellow educators out there will appreciate this -- on my most recent evaluation, I was 0.02 away from distinguished! So close and yet so far.

But enough about me, let's talk about not talking about gay!

The beautiful thing about teachers is how we all share our best ideas with each other. Some hard-hearted bastard teachers ask for money, but by and large we are a wide-open profession.

That's how I have seen nice teachers in Florida sharing "best practices" for not saying gay. Or trans.

And before the big reveal of those b.p., let me say something about trans children. They know themselves by kindergarten. They just don't know it's wrong to know, unless their parents tell them it's wrong to know. Which, if you are a truly loving parent, how could you tell your child they're wrong about their fundamental self-image?

Back to the school setting.

So apparently the bill signed by the Florida legislature (which no I have not read, kiss my ass) bans the teaching of anything about gender.  This is what I'm getting from the Florida teachers who have to live with this thing, so they have read it.

Can't teach gender. Can't teach boy/girl. Can't have gender-specific bathrooms, because they would have to be designated Boy/Girl. Can't read books where there are boys and girls. All children have to be kids. Can't teach about gay families? Can't teach about straight families either. Kid wants their parents to come to school, it better be a pair of storks.

Me personally, I'm all for not teaching one damn thing about gender from kindergarten to third grade. No stories with people in them at all! Not even the Muppets! A steady dose of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, thank you very much.

Here's a book that would make the cut, so long as you don't mention that chickens are female and roosters are male.

And you can even get it from this nice Christian book distributor!

My elementary school had non-gendered bathrooms. Only one kid could use the bathroom at a time. They were basically little water closets. All good, right? Gosh, how is it done now? Do you have a bunch of little girls hanging out in a bathroom together? Bullying each other and smoking cigarettes, like they do in high school? DANG! 

I think if it's done carefully, this whole not saying anything about gender or sexuality could be a boon to Florida's schoolchildren. Take baseball, for instance. Scrap those sissy softball teams, let's play some hardball, kids! Kids! Kids! Don't draw a family picture of your mommy and daddy, kid! Draw your parents. Chances are they're both working themselves to death, so why differentiate the gender?

Halloween's here! You don't want to be a princess, you want to be royal. But why even be royal when you can be a skeleton, or Pac-Man ... oops ... Pac-Person. Super heroes? Spiderperson, Batperson, Wonder Person! Or just be a cat. It's easier.

I can honestly see the upside to a gender-free experience in K-3. Let's put the lil tykes in unisex uniforms too, while we're at it. No one will get bullied for wearing the wrong thing to school.

I'm not taking credit for any of these brilliant ideas. I've seen them shared on teacher blogs. Sharing is caring, and teachers know how to do both!

To conclude this sermon, I would like to shout out my elementary school principal, Miss Hazel Fridinger. She was very dedicated, to the point where she didn't have time to get married. Her female housemate never got married either. I love to think of that happy pair, sharing expenses and chores all their lives long. See what I mean? Teaching is such a sharing kind of experience. Always has been.

Have a nice day, kids! Children! Youngsters! Tots! Precious little gender-free souls.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Another Haterfield Rant: Leaf Blowers

 Ah, beautiful! It's Friday afternoon after a long week, the temperature is a balmy 65, and the sun is beaming down. Bliss?

Sorry, Bamp! Wrong. No bliss. Five o'clock, and my jackass millionaire neighbor has his landscaping crew scouring every inch of his sucky property for the one leaf that the leaf blowers didn't find last fall.

Don't you just fucking hate leaf blowers? I can't think of a tool I despise more. Loud, stinking, and stupid is no way to present yourself to the planet. And yet I smell and hear this pestilential equipment going full bore, just as I sit down on the porch with my mocktail. I deserve better.

Granted, I do not have a very big yard. But I rake it from back to curb a couple of times a year, with a damn rake. All you hear with a rake is scrape scrape scrape, crackle crackle crackle. And you don't smell a thing. I'm 63 and I still rake my yard. My neighbors half my age crank up their leaf blowers dozens of times a year. Yet somehow, I don't have any more leaf litter in my yard than they do.

Many and many a Saturday morning has been marred by the gas-powered blowing menaces. Here I am, biffing out onto my front porch with a steaming cup and the morning paper, and OOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOOwwwwOOOOOOOwwwoOOOOOO. The leaf blowers start moaning. Here I am, biffing back inside to the kitchen table.

I hear that California has banned gas-powered leaf blowers. A sound move. Did you know that a leaf blower emits more pollution than a car? Way more. A thousand times noisier too.

Mr. J actually joined the Haterfield Environmental Commission in an effort to get some local leaf blower ordinances going. Ha! He lasted six months. In that six months, the Commission talked endlessly about backyard hens and nary a breath about leaf blowers. "Bad for small businesses, any kind of ban," the town councilman sniffed.

Can you believe that bunch wanted me to write an essay about micro meadows for their "Gold Star Community" checklist? Suck it, Haterfield. I'm not writing squat for you.

So here I am, all ranty and pissy on a Friday afternoon, instead of basking in the glow of spring sunshine.

Is it any wonder I bought four acres of trees? All leaves welcome, all the time.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Haterfield Is For the Birds

 Good day to you from "The Gods Are Bored!" Today's sermon: Great news if you're a stuck up, snobby chicken!

Haterfield, NJ is now accepting applications for backyard hen ownership. Great news, yes? Except this is Haterfield, so both you and your bok boks will have to jump through some pretty damn tricky hoops first.

I do not exaggerate when I report this headline from the local rag: "Haterfield Residents Can Now Apply for Backyard Chicken Permit."

Yes. You need a permit for your chickens. And that permit doesn't come cheap (cheep?). First you have to take a class on chicken care and produce a certificate that you completed the course. Friends, I have a vivid imagination, and I could not make this up. Yes! A course on chicken care!

I don't object to the idea of taking a class on fowl husbandry. Definitely a good idea. But my guess is that you could learn everything you need to know and then some just by watching YouTube videos, or talking to your grandma. Those are free, of course. Not so the chicken class Haterfield requires.

But the class is just Step One. Step Two is applying for a permit that must be reviewed and approved not just by Haterfield's new Backyard Chicken Advisory Board but also by the Board of Commissioners.

These entities come to your house first, to inspect your coop and chicken run. Don't try to free range those pullets, that won't fly.

There is a required annual inspection and a yearly permit fee of $50.

Needless to say, roosters are not welcome. Nor can you sup upon your own chickens. Or sell their eggs.

The first year you can have four chickens. If, upon inspection the next year you are deemed to be worthy, you can increase your flock to eight. No more than eight. 

I really wish I was exaggerating this, or outright making it up. I'm not. Haterfield now has a Backyard Chicken Advisory Board. Town can't keep its teens from pooping in pianos, but you better not try to sneak a ninth chicken onto your property.

See, I only want a rooster. I would call him Cluck Norris and allow him free range in the front yard. When the Backyard Chicken Advisory Board came to confiscate him, I would release the white farm geese and watch the carnage from my porch.

No one needed to tell me Haterfield is for the birds. I've known it since 1987. But what do I care? I have four acres of WOODS.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tough Time for Farmhouses

 All hail Venus Cloacina, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson, school teacher, and I got observed today. What an ordeal! I hope you don't ever have to endure such an indignity yourself.

But the subject of the sermon today isn't observations. I always get a C+, nothing better. I'm used to it.

Today's sermon is yet another rumination on the evils of modern capitalism.

My grandparents lived up in the mountains, but my family and I lived in the Cumberland Valley, which is nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny mountains. It's a lovely, fertile area with rolling hills and limestone outcroppings (technical name, Karst topography). The Antietam Creek meanders through. So perhaps you have heard of this place.

When I was a kid, there were a few factories north of Hagerstown, and a few more within the city limits. But the major industry in the Hagerstown area was farming. There were cows everywhere. Corn everywhere.

You think I'm kidding? Look at this vintage photo from August 23, 1984. That there is vintage Cumberland Valley. It was so pretty.


Two scourges have descended on the Hagerstown vicinity. The first is bedroom suburb sprawl. Thousands and thousands and thousands of acres of farmland have disappeared under the onslaught of ugly subdivisions. And as those eyesores multiplied, the grand old farmhouses on the land got ripped down.

It gets worse.

Lately Hagerstown has revived its reputation as the "Hub City." Two major freeways intersect there, Interstates 81 and 70.

You know what you really don't want? You really don't want to live near a freeway.

Have you seen those big, ugly Amazon warehouses? Guess what they need to be near? Ding ding ding ding! Yes! A freeway!

And so there is now a new building boom going on where I grew up. Thousands and thousands and thousands of acres of farmland are being bulldozed and turned into HUGE GODDAMN WAREHOUSES. Folks, we are talking about the razing of farmhouses that were there during the Civil War. In favor of Carvana auto storage facilities and Amazon and Walmart warehouses.

Of course there's a hue and cry when yet another venerable farmhouse (often crafted with native stone) becomes the target of the greedy corporate barbarians. So you know what the barbarians do? They deliberately knock the house down and leave a pile of rubble just to make a point. Sometimes they pull down the house months before any construction begins. Because they can.

I always loved the Cumberland Valley. And it is large enough that portions of it won't be maimed. But the scenic areas where I grew up, near the major highways, well. They are now either crammed with ugly housing or ruined with mile-wide warehouses.

My poor sister still lives there. She spends her days driving around the counties, taking photos of the farmhouses that are about to be torn down. More power to her. I can't imagine doing that. It's easier to stay away.

The moral of this sermon is simple. If you live near a highway, move now! You could wind up staring at an Amazon warehouse and the trucks that move its goods. As opposed to that quaint antebellum farmhouse with its outbuildings and barns. Put your home on the market now, before it's too late. You don't want to watch concrete smother your beloved valley.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Deed Is Done

 All three of my readers are saying, "For the love of fruit flies, Anne! Enough about buying land in the mountains! When are you going to start interviewing bored gods again and ranting about Republicans?"

Okay, okay, okay. I hear you. It's dull as dirt, reading about someone else's dreams coming true.

So today I'll just record the fact that the deed to 322 Mountain Road came in the mail. (The land is on Mountain Road, but I just made up the address. No house, no number. Sheesh! Go figure!)

Isn't it weird how these pieces of paper confer stuff to us? I have a title to my Subaru. A piece of paper that says I own the car. Gives the paper a lot of power, don't you think?

I don't have a deed to my house in Haterville, and I never will. It's mortgaged to the gills. Some bank has the paper for this house. I wonder where that paper is? In some file cabinet, I suppose. 

Sheafs of paper. Dang! Who thought this up? Shouldn't I just be able to go out there into the mountains and say, "THIS IS THE LAND OF MY PEOPLE, YOU JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE ME?"

My confidence in this pronouncement was so profound that I went the traditional route and sought out the proper papers.

I'm sure you've noticed this whole paper dodge. You go to the eye doctor, you get a little slip of paper with some weird markings on it, you take it to a store where they sell glasses, and by Gods, you can see again! How does this work?

And do you do any shopping at CVS? You go in for a pot of lip balm, give them some plastic card, and a strip of paper long enough to wrap up a mummy comes spitting out at you from the checkout. Why? Why do I need a piece of paper to get three bucks off the shampoo? Why don't you just price the shampoo three dollars less to begin with?

I guess I can blame my ancestors for this. They made their way up Town Creek until they didn't see any signs of life, then they started notching their initials or some kind of marking on the trees. Well, after all, trees are just raw, unprocessed paper. They raw-papered a complete landscape.

If you ask me, there's nowhere that this paper obsession seems more absurd than in paintings. Have you seen the ridiculous amounts some people are paying for paintings? Like, excuse me, it's a piece of paper with some color applied? You might look at it a few times, and then what? There it sits.

This is not really a sermon or a rant, it's just kind of me wondering how the whole paper thing got started. It's not what I would call a brilliant idea. You know what would work so much better? If you saw something you liked, and the person who had it just said, "Okay, here. You take it." And out of gratitude you might give that person something in exchange -- like a hearty handshake or a pizza or something.

So much better. But anyway, I got my papers. If my file cabinet catches fire, will I still own the land?

Friday, March 11, 2022

Another Year, Another Yawn

 All hail Venus Cloacina! Today's my birthday. Gonna have a party tonight!

Here's the guest list:

1. Mr. J (doing the cooking)

2. Heir and significant other

3. Fair and significant other

4. Gamma

The menu is Chicken francaise served on a bed of linguine with a lemon white wine butter sauce, and a salad with strawberries and feta cheese.

And of course let us not forget dessert, a fabulous Smith Island cake!

Best thing about the cake is, there will be plenty for any bored deity who drops in, even Gods with appetites like Zeus! 

At the age I have come to be, one appreciates a pain-free existence and the company of family. And the weekend. Always the weekend.

Blessed be,

Pisces Anne

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

On Teenagers and Masks

 Masks became optional at my school on Monday, March 7.

I figured I would walk in and finally see all the dewy young faces that have been partially obscured since September.

Guess what? The masks are all firmly in place! The only kids not wearing them are kids who wouldn't comply with the mandate. Those kids are unmasked. Everyone else didn't skip a beat. It's wall-to-wall masks, about 93 percent of everyone!

I never expected this, but now that I think about it, well. Teenagers. You know? They all want to hide their faces. Or to do what their friends are doing. If the cool kids keep wearing their masks, everyone else will.

Now I'm wondering if the principal will have to decree an end to mask wearing at some point. Until he does, I'm quite content to reside behind a sheath of cloth.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

My Plans

 All hail Venus Cloacina, and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wow, what mayhem. First we had Donald Trump, then we had a deadly pandemic, and now we have World War III. It's like the 1960s all over again. What can I do except go along with the flow and hope for the best?

For those of you just hopping aboard, I am an Appalachian American, living ex patrium for most of my life. Up until 2011 I had a hold on the old sod as part owner of my grandfather's farm, but then it was sold, and I was truly bereft.

Now I have land again, praise Cloacina, and only about a mile and a half from my grandfather's farm. At four acres it's small by mountain standards, but oh boy it has some qualities.

Probably the best thing about it is how flat it is. This is the mountains, after all. And it's shady! Lots and lots and lots of trees. You can feel them talking to each other underground. On top there's leaf litter and moss and fallen branches. The ground is springy, soft on your feet, from all the years of undisturbed leaf fall.

The ink is dry on the transaction. The seller has been paid. And everyone is asking: Anne, what are you going to do with it? The land, they mean. Tiny house? Big house? Vacation house? Gonna move there?


When those trees talk to one another, I don't want them saying, "OH SHIT, CHAUNCY, SHE'S CUTTING ME DOWN!" Nor do I want to plow in a driveway, or sink a septic system, or try to persuade the state of Pennsylvania to run an electrical line up through the woods.

I don't want to start a trash heap (though it's a time-honored Appalachian tradition). I don't want to build a fire ring in all that leaf litter. I don't want to hang fairy garlands from the tree limbs or build some monument (though there is already a nice cairn there probably made by some farmer 100 years ago).

I've had ten long years to think through what I would do if I got a little bit of land in the mountains. And what I decided some years ago was that I didn't want a parcel with a house on it. Why do I need something more to worry about? Or a place I'll feel obliged to go just to "keep it up?" Phooey on that!

I want this land to look just like it does now. Worst I'll do is snip down a few pine seedlings to make myself a place where I can view the sunset and the meteor showers.

Some people think it's ridiculous to purchase a property while having no plans to alter it in any way. Those people aren't Druids.

See, the way I look at it, I bought a church. I'm going there to worship, and when I leave there will be no trace that I visited at all. This I consider to be bliss.

I'll close today's sermon by thanking my dear Yellowdog Granny for the bear spray. When your new next door neighbor is the state game lands, it's better safe than sorry. Hope I never, ever need it!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Of Goddesses and Birthday Angels

 Did you ever have something happen to you that absolutely defied all odds and just seemed basically incredible? I have experienced this a few times, and it's always startling. Makes the most logical person scratch their head, because it is just magic.

Two weeks ago, after a long day at work, I popped into the thrift store. They always have a shelf of trinkets right inside the door -- they have Christmas stuff on it all year around, as well as other little do-dads and statuettes and such.

The moment I looked at the shelf I saw her:


This is a Lefton birthday angel ca. 1966. I have never seen anything ceramic of this vintage in the thrift store before. And of course, March is my birthday month.

It gets better.

You see, I actually had a birthday angel like this, had her for decades in fact.

I gave her away as part of a fundraiser to save Terrapin Run.

Only my oldest of old-timers will remember how a rural community in Western Maryland had to pay a land-use lawyer to fight a developer who wanted to build housing for 11,000 people alongside a little Tier I stream called Terrapin Run. While the lawyer supported our cause, he needed to eat. So the little consortium to save the stream had all kinds of auctions and such to pay the lawyer bills. I sent them jewelry, and I sent them my little March angel I had owned since I was a kid. Had tears in my eyes when I turned her over.

In addition to giving what I could to the fundraising, I worked magic along the bank of Terrapin Run. For years. The Goddess I petitioned was Venus Cloacina, the Roman Goddess of the sewers. I figured if any deity would object to a crystal clear stream being turned into a wastewater dumping ground, it would be Cloacina.

Developers almost always win these battles. But this developer didn't. He lost like an egg-sucking dog and limped his saggy, broke-ass butt back to Washington, DC.

Ever since then I have thanked Cloacina whenever I visit that area, because I truly believe She answered my prayers.

Back to the present: What are the vast odds of finding a 50-year-old ceramic angel, exactly like the one I donated, just sitting on the shelf at the thrift store I visit twice a month? (By the way, she cost me $3.50.)

It gets better.

I had been waiting six weeks to hear from the attorney in Bedford who was handling my purchase of a property in the land of my ancestors. Not two days after bringing home the March angel, the documents and paperwork arrived in my email.

I am as scientific as the next guy, but that angel was nothing but an omen. Sent by Cloacina.

Don't pish tosh me now, reader. Terrapin Run is less than 10 miles from the property.

Which is now my property. It has closed.

I have land. And a Goddess. Bless them both.

Thursday, February 24, 2022


 My knees really hurt. Especially the right one. I have to go up and down the stairs at my work, and I'm literally gripping the bannister and grimacing with every step.

My Altra Lone Peak 5 trail runners would be a game-changer with this, but I am not allowed to wear my Altra Lone Peak 5 trail runners to school. The school has a dress code. Teachers are forbidden to wear sneakers without a valid doctor's note.

I got a note from my doctor in March of 2021 so I could wear my Altra Lone Peak 5 trail runners to work. Last month I was told that since my doctor's note is not dated after September 1, 2021, it's no longer valid.

The principal nicely asked me to call my doctor and have him write out another note. But when I saw how the doctor rolled his eyes and clicked his tongue and sighed that any 63-year-old school teacher would actually need a note to wear comfortable shoes, I was so embarrassed that I would rather work barefoot than bother him again.

I could get a healthy checkup in March, but now I have to wait until September, so I can get the properly dated note for next year.

It's very hard for me to find comfortable shoes, as I have bad bunions on both feet. I often have to buy shoes that are a size or two too large to accommodate my feet. I actually have to rotate three pairs of shoes that are "suitable" when I go to work, because each pair has issues for my feet. I'm sure these shoes are contributing to the knee pain.

This is my problem right now. By all that is holy, what a lucky woman I am! Such a trivial damn thing, compared to all the tragedies all around, all the time. I have no doubt that some day I'm going to look back with longing at the time when my knees hurt because I couldn't wear sneakers to school.

May we all struggle with minor nuisance problems. Things can change overnight.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

You're Really Dissing the Thrift Store, Country Magazine?

 It's President's Day weekend, and what does that mean? Everything's half off at the thrift store! And whoa, doggies. The place was packed.

Have you seen the average thrift store shopper these days? No you haven't, because all kinds of people shop at the thrift store now. Lots of artsy Gen Z, lots of handsome metrosexual men, and lots of school teachers. Tons of school teachers.

I have a favorite thrift store that I visit at least once a week for retail therapy. Over the years I have almost completely outfitted myself and my house from that store. I've gotten towels, bath rugs, sheets, bedspreads, throw pillows, small pieces of furniture, books, shoes, decorations, and small kitchen appliances there. Clothing? Almost all my clothing comes from the thrift store. The only clothing I buy retail is fairy attire!

Fact: Last week I went to Target to buy a Valentine's Day gift for Mr. J. I picked up the one thing I'm loath to buy at the thrift store (underwear) and saw a cute set of pajamas that I liked. With Mr. J's gift I spent ... get ready ... $70. My jaw dropped. That's three or four hefty hauls from the thrift store!

So you can imagine my surprise when Country Magazine, that chic bastion of finding cute stuff at the antique mall, came out with an article entitled "40 Things You Should Never Buy at the Thrift Store."

40, mind you. Should have titled it "Don't Shop at the Thrift Store, Buy Something Expensive Instead."

Needless to say, I was intrigued to see what Country Magazine deemed unworthy of purchase from a thrift store.

*Old furniture. Might have lead paint. As opposed to stuff at the antique mall, which is presumably pristine.

*Anything upholstered. Well, they don't sell such things at my thrift store, thank you very much.

*Bedding. Might have bedbugs. Except you can see the industrial-sized washing machines in the back room at the thrift store.

*Stuff for kids, as in, car seats, strollers, and toys. Excuse you, Country Magazine. While my local thrift store is chock-a-block with cutie pie young skinny guys, it's also always full of poor people. You know, the people the thrift store is supposed to serve. And those people might not be able to go out and buy a brand new car seat. Shit's expensive.

*Throw pillows. Again, bedbugs. The magazine's advice? Buy a throw pillow from Target, where it's $10 - $20. News flash: $20 will buy 10 pillows at the thrift store. It's a bedbug gamble, but so is staying at the Hilton.

*Clothes. Say that again? Yes, you heard me. Clothes! They might be torn or stained, and you can't return them! For the love of fruit flies. As if anyone goes into the thrift store, plucks something from the rack, flips it on the counter, and doesn't so much as glance at it to see if it's stained! I'll admit, I did buy a shirt two weeks ago that is missing the bottom button. But stains and tears? Everyone checks for stains and tears.

*Anything that smells bad. Duh. That's advice for trash-pickers, not Goodwill shoppers.

*Kitchen appliances. They might not work. Well, let's see. I got my crock pot there, and it works. I got my hand mixer there, and it works. Case closed.

In this slideshow article, the list goes on and on, and most of the stuff on it isn't stuff I see in the thrift store where I shop. Who buys old windowpanes at the thrift store?

I can't imagine that many readers of Country Magazine actually shop in thrift stores, but I guess maybe the sport is getting so trendy that even rich faux-chic snobs are going there now. I'm stretching it with this one, but do you think perhaps Target paid the magazine to run such a spurious slide show? Hmmm. 

One last powerful point to this sermon, and it's the kind of whopper of a point that would bring any new congregant to the altar call. Have you read that little tag on the brand new pair of blue jeans you bought at Target? WASH BEFORE WEARING. WASH SEPARATELY. You see this on everything new. Everything. So how is that different from bringing home thrift store garments and flinging them in the washing machine? Well, maybe all the poisonous dyes have been leeched from the thrift store attire already!

I'll bet you're wondering what I bought today at the thrift store. Oh, readers. I got an NFL brand zippered hoodie with the Eagles logo, in my size, for $2.50. Have you priced out official NFL merchandise in the retail sector? Don't. Go to the thrift store, especially after the team has had a bad year.

There will be more in this space about the thrift store in coming installments. But this sermon has run long, and I know you want to get on with your day.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

An Auspicious Full Moon

 Thank you for visiting "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Anne Johnson. How can I help you? Please hold.

Had to add that last part, for those of you who actually remember how phones used to work.

Just now I got home from work and opened my home email. (Can't do it at work without spying.) Nestled among the come-ons for Hello Fresh and the latest God Pod and my Patreon payments and my electronic pay stub, there was another email.

An email with a deed.

And another email with information on how to close on a property from afar.

Full moon tomorrow, perfect time to sign documents and cut a check and get everything under way.

This is the part where I add that the property is coming to me from a private sale. On the multiple listings land of this sort goes for twice to three times the amount I am paying per acre. I've been looking at the online listings for years and years and years and years.

Four acres and change, all of it forested, off the grid with nothing built on it. No house for me to fret about. One contiguous human neighbor whose house cannot be seen and who was a chum of my uncle's. The other boundary belonging to the State of Pennsylvania, game lands.

Feature this. For the price of a middling cruise to Alaska, I will have a forest. A forest all of my own. Just for me and whichever bored deities like to go camping. I know Cloacina is wild about the area. She'll be my first invite.

Hold me in the light for this last haul, but it does look like all systems go.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Haiku from a Teacher

 Please stop banning books

I'm trying to teach reading

Can't if you ban books