It takes a special sort of self confidence to wear pajamas to the grocery store. I see that more than I am comfortable with—living here on the edge of Appalachia. It disturbs my sense of social sensibility.

Terrific vesper at home last Friday night. 1/2 Ketel one and 1/2 Hendricks Gin. Just me and the Jungle Fox. I put in some large capers which are tasty. Listened to Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler. Later had some wine with a nice dinner. Living large baby.

Saturday morning Brittany and I met her neighbor Steven for brunch at Fado. Sunday I dedicated to taxes. Mountains of paperwork and receipts, owing to building a home and running a consulting business and starting a coffee shop. But my part is done so that was a productive day well measured. 

It dawns on me that most of us living in decent circumstances basically won the life lottery. If we had been born 300 or 1,000 years earlier, we would almost certainly have had much more difficult lives. Food security was rare. Physical ailments that today we shrug off with a pill or a shot might have killed us. Movement was difficult and expensive. Diseases were rampant. We would have had few choices about where or how we wanted to live. Wars and skirmishes were much more common, depending to some degree where you lived. We would have had to dedicate the vast majority of our energy and resources to simply surviving. If we had kids, more than 1/2 of them would not reach adulthood.

If we were born 300 years later—it’s hard to say for sure. But it seems as if the world might be a much hotter place. With a population 3 or 4 times our current 8B or so. It seems likely life might become more problematic rather than less. Perhaps civilization peaked 20 or 30 years ago in terms of our enjoyment of lifestyle. Of course there are many millions still living in poverty and enormously difficult circumstances right now, so part of winning the life lottery is that we were born to decent circumstances. 

MLK Day. Unfortunately the dream of MLK is far from realized in America. THE NEW YORKER had several really good articles about Dr. King. His messages were more subtle and broad than I realized. He had a keen understanding that our particular brand of capitalism benefitted greatly from controlling the masses. Keeping people in a position where they desperately needed whatever jobs were close by and available. This served people who had money and so it became that the wealthy controlled the politicians through campaign donations and lobbying. In turn, government policy and legislation perpetuated a system that kept the wealthy in power and the poor fighting for their lives.

Many of us were lucky enough to claw our way in to middle class with a few months of living expenses in the bank and perhaps a bit more labor marketability which gives a little peace of mind. 

King got it all. He figured out the grift and was killed for trying to expose it. 

Our country is still very much shaped by police brutality, school segregation, voter disenfranchisement, a racial wealth gap, health inequity, and anti-Black racism. 

3.4%:The effective tax rate of the 25 richest Americans between 2014 and 2018

$1 trillion:How much money a one-off tax on unrealized capital gains of just the 100 richest Americans could create. The Oxfam report points out that $1 trillion is more than five times the total official world development assistance in 2021, which was just $178.9 billion.

I am doggedly working my way through the re-write of SV2SA. Slow going but I am nearly 40 pages in. I am getting excited about this initiative now. I’ve been joining some on-line writing groups which helps me set aside time and keep focused. There are always so many distractions, not the least of which is the job that pays the bills. When the boss calls, I must take that call. 

I am thinking there will be 3 outcomes to this effort.   

1 – a soft cover re-release of the book (print on demand most likely) along with a new intro and a new final chapter to bring everyone up to date on MYO and other changes since I lived in Arandis 20 years ago. 

2 – an audio book of the re-released narrative

3 – a Podcast. In the podcast version, I will introduce each chapter and to go into more detail about specific people or happenings that are going on at that time in the book. Seems sorta fun to have that extra bit of context and interaction because I will be able to answer questions or provide clarifications if someone writes in. We shall see. A lot of space between where I am today and those completed objectives.

Marti had to go back in to the doc for a round two of stitches. I am not the best doggie dad apparently. I was taking her on too many walks and giving her too much rope on the retractable and her stitches tore. So she is now re-stitched and I am on very strict instructions for her to never take off the cone and never be allowed to play with toys or go for a real walk for at least 10 days. So I can just let her outside on the leash to go to bathroom for 3 or 4 minutes and then she must come back in. So that is hard of course. She must think she’s being punished because of course she has no understanding of the situation. It is heartbreaking but necessary. So all fun ceases now for Marti for at least the next 10 – 14 days.

The instinct to hunt runs deep in animals—including domesticated dogs. When Mandela was dying, 3 days before her last day, I carried her outside to pee. At this point she could barely move. But when I set her down, she happened to see a squirrel and she shot off after—with all the vitality she could muster at that point. She petered out after 5 yards and then fell down. I carried her back inside. But even in that pain and suffering she wanted to chase. That is what they do.

When I picked Marti up from the vet, she was high on pain killers and very much out of it. I carried her outside, just as I did with Mandela 4 years ago. On this night, just as I sat Marti down, the dog who could not get the energy to walk to the door by herself, saw a rabbit and tried to chase. But with the cone and the drugs, it was a sad and pathetic hunt. The rabbit hopped off and Marti whined. I carried her back inside. 

But she tried.  

Anyway. We will survive this episode in Marti’s journey to adulthood. 

I recall when Trump was first elected. I had 3 incidents where I nearly got kicked out of bars for fighting with gloating Trumpers. I was in a fog for several weeks and casual bar conversation turned mean and ugly when it turned out the person I was speaking to was a Trump supporter.

I still remember when Trump walked out on stage that night to claim victory. I would have given my soul to the devil to be able to walk up and slap that smug look off his fat face.

This past Friday night my martini was two man-sized tubs of Jameson and a couple of bottle of Miller High Life. I hung out at the Hole in the Wall while waiting for Eric. 

The town idiot was sitting at the bar. Once, about 10 years ago, we were hanging out at the family farm in the butcher shed—which is mostly these days used to drink beer. I was there to visit my cousin, but the town idiot was there along with 6 or 8 other regulars. The idiot was telling a story and rattled off the N word a few times. I interrupted him and told him to not use that word anymore. It got real quiet in there I can tell you. Finally, he resumed, but didn’t say it again. I was a guest and an outsider, but then I am also family and he is not. So I felt justified in the slap down. 

My main regret was not dragging him outside by his ear and whipping his hillbilly ass. But I took the more civil route I suppose. Anyway, when I see him now, as I did the other night, he just glares at me. Sorta funny when you think about. He is friends with my sister and cousins but obviously not me. I have a picture of Brittany standing by his truck with bumper stickers of all his political beliefs. 

A true gem of a human being. 

Brittany and I slipped away for a whiskey tasting downtown. Nice night. Decent whiskeys and good food and just nice to get out on a cold winter night. We didn’t dally too long though because the Jungle Fox was home in her crate—feeling lonely and sad with her cone. So we hustled back to hang with her.

My friend Annie Pfluegger is a terrific nature photographer. But one day out of the blue she drove past a cowfield and saw this magnificent heifer standing very stately in the field all alone on a snowy day. Annie managed to get an amazing shot of this lovely creature and I got one printed on canvas for the wall at Black Dog Ridge. 

I’ve always had a thing for cows. Not sure why. My neighbor directly behind me keeps a few cows and they hang out right at the edge of my backyard so I think of them as my cows. I’ve named a couple of them and try to get to know them a little. Marti doesn’t feel the same way about the neighbor cows as I do. She wants to chase them.

Off to Worcester this week and then next week heading to BDR for 2 weeks. Lots of work to do and it’s time I started diving in after the unfortunate knee surgery sidelined me for a while.

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

1 thought on “Vesper

  1. Hi Rob,   I wanted you to know that I read your book and was truly amazed at what you experienced in Africa. Not many people can say that they made such a difference in others lives.  I am having foot surgery on February 21st but maybe before then you and Brittany and Scott and I can grab dinner.  Always enjoy reading your blog!! Julie 

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS


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