Friday, January 31, 2020

Three-Colored Lawns as Evidence of Glyphosate Poisoning

Flu has made its rounds during the past three weeks. There was talk of closing the schools. A school in Tennessee really was closed for a day or two as all the teachers and students stayed home to sweat out the virus.

I had it, after what's become my usual fashion in the last ten years. Nobody else would have noticed. I could tell I had the virus because I felt chilly even in a room where people who hadn't been walking briskly outdoors were comfortable, because my eyes got tired easily, because I felt tired by ordinary routine chores or even by know, that fighting-the-flu feeling. It was not a stomach flu (norovirus is the one that always gives me noticeable symptoms). It did not affect the digestive process.

In my forties I had this feeling for hours, maybe a day, at a time. This winter I noticed it for about ten days. Is that because I'm now in my fifties? I don't think so. Up to about age thirty, as a young undiagnosed celiac, I did not shake off that fighting-the-flu feeling. I came down with the flu. Yes, and as a child, when I was forced to eat everything other people thought I needed to eat and bundle up when other people thought I needed to bundle up and go outside when other people thought I needed to go outside, I didn't even have separate cases of colds and flu during the winter; basically, if it was winter, I had a cold; the question was whether I was sick enough to distract the teacher when I went to school coughing and sneezing at people. Because the law required children to be sent to school on 145 days of the year, even when what they were learning at school was to stay home when they had a cold, and even when they had one...which was why, as a teenager who was a little healthier and finally able to enjoy some of my classes at school, I was still very keen on school choice.

I don't know about you, but when I talk about changes in the quality of my life during the past ten years, I'm old enough to be told "Well, of course, you're getting older." What is getting old, stale, and tired of living is that cliche phrase. We are all getting older. My Nephews are noticing the same sort of changes, and although not all of them have even reached their full height yet, fourteen years old is older than four. However, the changes in the quality of my life (1) correlate pretty precisely with my exposure to glyphosate, and (2) feel to me like being younger. Like aging backward. I was not a healthy person until age 30 so when I feel sick it brings back memories of youth or even childhood. Not the sort of childhood I wanted The Nephews to have.

There are some changes we can all expect to happen just because, after a certain age (it varies, and seems to be determined by genes), the human body's hormone balance changes. In between one range of birthdays we grow taller, then grow heavier, and the texture of our skins changes to allow the skin pores to become bigger, and some of those pores tend to clog up, etc., etc. In between another range of birthdays we start growing more white hair in place of black or brown or whatever it used to be, and the texture of our skins changes again to allow the skin to dry out and form wrinkles more easily, and those of us who don't get enough exercise find ourselves losing weight in the form of calcium from the bones, etc., etc. I am actually starting to grow white hair, although during glyphosate reactions it falls out so it's not showing yet. The other changes normally start later in my family; no doubt they'll come along in due time.

Illness is a separate thing from age. The two things are correlated to some extent because, the older we are, the harder it is for our immune systems to recover from some kinds of illness--notably flu. However, young people can be ill and old people can be healthy.

One thing that definitely cheats some people out of enjoying a healthy old age is confusing age with illness. No symptom of illness is a valid indicator of age, but the belief that low-grade chronic illness is part of "growing older" keeps some people from correcting imbalances in time to avoid more serious illness...and illness definitely makes the body "older," slower to recover, more vulnerable to the next attack on our health.

So I had this dopey-sneezy-sleepy-grumpy-bashful feeling for ten days, and finally shook it off. Then on Wednesday morning I woke up at two o'clock, sneezing and sniffling. Having been well hydrated to help keep off the flu, I didn't dry out enough to go back to sleep until after six. Then my brain kept remembering that six o'clock is time to get up, so I caught three separate ten-minute naps before it was time to go to work, still losing water as I trudged through the drizzle that didn't become a real rain. At least only water was draining out of my face (nose, and also eyes). When I used the toilet I lost about a tablespoon of blood.

Where had that come from, I asked myself. What had I eaten that might have been contaminated? I decided to stop sweetening my coffee at the cafe, just in case.

It was raining when I went home. I felt dopey, sleepy, sneezy, grumpy, bashful, and a few more little guys Disney overlooked: lazy, weary, whiny--and the last one wasn't "Doc," he was "Blocked." Disney mis-heard that one. He mis-heard "Happy," too, but this web site's contract bans mentioning that Dwarf's real name.

On Thursday morning the junior cats Silver and Swimmer came to breakfast, one with her left eye swollen hut, one with her right eye swollen shut. I was sniffling again, and had the predictable gas bloating that means the sniffles were caused by glyphosate vapors rather than a cold. The junior cats had, too. Poor little things, they probably remembered it from when they were kittens...that was how Swimmer got her name; she was trying to climb up my coat, wasn't strong enough, and fell into water. Most cats hate to swim, but they can.

When I came in on Thursday evening my nose was clear enough to notice just one whiff of a smell I've learned to loathe, as I walked past a house someone has been trying to sell. Then my nose clogged up again and all the water in my body started trying to pour out through my face, again.

Then I came home, and my Queen Cat Serena, who snuggled against me for many a kitten-nap but does not think snuggling befits a Queen...snuggled. Yes. Serena was snuggling. Serena didn't have a real fever but her nose was warmer than it ought to have been, from inflammation, from breathing toxic vapors. Serena wasn't feeling well either. Serena didn't seem positively ill during any of last year's glyphosate episodes. Well, she didn't seem ill enough to be taken to the vet yesterday, either, but she was not her tough and sassy healthy self, not the cat who always shrugs away any petting and tries to redirect me to throw or drag something she can chase. What was bothering her was closer than the railroad.

I went into my home office feeling not just grumpy, but seriously angry. I can be too soft when it comes to forgiving or even pardoning things people do to me, personally. Touching my loved ones is the way to see the fighting side of me. I know who poisoned Serena. I'd always thought of them as a nice family, before. I'd even presumed to pardon them for poisoning some valuable wineberry bushes, because the poor idjit had not looked them up but only asked the guys at the shop, who'd told him they were poisonous. However. I went into the office, closed the door, and I started praying out loud: "God, please heal these cats and all the other innocent animals this fool has poisoned, and transfer all of their suffering to him, now."

Even if I felt any compassion for people who torture other people's pets, I couldn't forgive them. That would not be possible. Only those animals and the God Who made them can forgive those who poison animals. And I hope to live to see those disgraces to humankind suffer much, much more than any individual animal...enough to balance all the misery of all the animals who did and did not survive.

I got up this morning knowing that it might be a good market day, but I had too much to do online. One job  to collect payment for, one to finish, one to negotiate. Cyberchores to wrap up. Yes, although the big glyphosate news story hasn't broken enough to be worth reporting yet, it's been a month; there ought to be a Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter. And also there had to be a blog post about what the cell phone's cheap little camera doesn't quite show you: the three-colored grass. No direct sunlight, no true colors in cell phone pictures. You might think this photograph of the lazy fool's side yard shows just the usual wintertime mix of tiny green plants and frozen dead ones. Look again. The colors are grayed, but you'll see that two of those grass stalks, and a few of the blades of crabgrass, have a much redder color than the other yellowish winter-killed grass...

What produces that three-colored grass? New, green grass (including crabgrass) pops up, even in January, whenever the temperatures are not actually below freezing. Idiot and his sons used, when his children were living in the house, to mow this sloping patch of yard every week. That was bad enough, because the slope is below a road and Bermuda grass will not hold a steep bank below a road in wet weather, as we have all seen along Route 23...but on Thursday, probably in the morning, one of this idiot family had swung by and thought, "I don't have time to mow but I don't want any prospective buyers to see unmown grass--horrors!--so I'll just spray poison on the whole lawn." During the next few hours, glyphosate had no effect on the yellow vegetation, which was already dead, nor on the new vegetation, which continued to pop up, but it dried out the stalks of those other little plants and some of the tips of the crabgrass, producing that brighter, redder color for a day or so before those plant parts will fade to the same color as the parts that died naturally.

What woke me in the night would have been glyphosate vapors drifting up from the railroad, which was lined with three-colored vegetation this morning too; the Southern Railroad Company always spray poison on the railroad in the middle of the night. What I smelled yesterday evening would have been a fresher application of glyphosate to the idiots' yard. Maybe it was even some "helpful" real estate agent, rather than the idiots themselves, who poisoned the yard; I wasn't watching. But that three-colored yard tells us all we need to know.

I'm not going to post the idiots' name here, but I am going to post the picture of the property they're trying to sell, so that they can keep paying taxes on it for another ten years or else pay somebody to take it over.

One thing we can do to build a healthier world, Gentle Readers, is to look for three-colored vegetation around houses for sale. People poison their yards because they think that will help them sell houses for higher prices. We can help correct that mistake. We can publicize the fact that these properties may contain residues of poisons that may make people sick for who knows how long, so their market value has dropped below zero. We can tell owners who are trying to unload real estate with three-colored grass around it, "I might take that place off your hands if you pay me a couple of thousand dollars an acre, just to pay taxes on it while it recovers from having been poisoned! It's not worth anything now, for sure. Maybe in ten years, if the soil is assayed and all that stuff you sprayed on it has completely broken down, it might be worth some money again. Maybe. It's a very risky investment."

Do not buy this property, Gentle Readers. Do not let anyone else buy it. That lovely, scenic little brook runs below the poisoned grass shown above. It is washing glyphosate residues, AMPA and other nasty stuff, down toward Tennessee now. Whoever owns it might be considered responsible for making people sick in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, or even Louisiana. Yes, the idiots who poisoned that grass need to pay anyone who takes the risk of owning that field now.

We should be snapping pictures of poisoned properties, whenever it's possible to snap a blurry image that proves that plants have been poisoned. We should be posting them on social media with tags that include #GlyphosateAwareness and the name of the nearest town, e.g. #GateCityVA, so people will know better than to pay for these properties.

Further along the road, before accepting a lift into town with a neighbor, I saw further evidence of glyphosate poisoning along the railroad. Some poor soul had spewed blood-flecked mocha-colored froth into a napkin and thrown the napkin out beside the road. Since it landed on the passenger's side, who knows whether the sufferer spewed upward or downward, but it had definitely come out of a human body. Maybe the body belonged to the fool who poisoned the lawn; I hope it did, rather than to some innocent child who waited for the school bus at a railroad crossing. It was too cold for frogs, dead or alive, or for birds to be flying and singing. I did not see a dead bird...yet. At least the robins I've often seen flitting over the lawn photographed above are probably still further south.

I came in, sat down, bought coffee, went to the bathroom, and instead of anything a healthy person would see floating around a water-flush toilet, what I flushed away this morning was about a tablespoon full of blood and little separate semi-solid blood clots. That, too, is now on its way to promote the growth of cancers, the loss of valuable native animals and birds and insects, and the growth of Bermuda grass and Johnson grass and Spanish Needles and kudzu and very little else, in Tennessee. Sorry, Tennessee readers, that's what youall get for having sewer systems so you can keep those nasty old water-flush toilets. Nobody in Virginia would be dropping poisoned blood into your water supply if we could help it. 

Maybe it's a symptom of glyphosate poisoning, too...I think people need to have the evidence of the harm glyphosate does shoved in their faces. I snapped a picture of blighted grass. Maybe I should have snapped one of the blood clots. Maybe I should have saved the actual blood clots, themselves, and thrown them at the idiot's white door frame. Maybe what worked for the homosexual lobby is what it will take to convince Americans to stop the insanity. 

There is not, there never was, and there never will be a "weed" as ugly as glyphosate. Friends don't let friends spray poisons...especially on yards they are hoping to sell.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Postal Worker Fails Test of Mental Competence

The test of mental competence given to a geriatric patient with whom I stayed included an item: "What would you do if you found a sealed envelope with a new, uncancelled first-class postage stamp on it, lying on the ground?"

The answer was, of course: "Put it in a mailbox. The mail must go through."

If the stamp had been cancelled and the letter dropped or misdelivered, the correct answer would have been "If unable to take it to the person to whom it was addressed, send it back through the mail."

It seems my town now has a mail carrier who would not have passed the test of competence. Maybe this mail carrier has early Alzheimer's Disease.

My neighborhood does not have mail delivery direct to our doors. We still have the old Rural Route boxes, out on a rail beside the highway, and those of us who ever receive anything but bills and junkmail have post office boxes in town.

As mentioned in a previous post, I've been involved with the Encourage a Legislator campaign where we pray for a legislator outside our own districts during the General Assembly Session, along with our own, and send bland, encouraging, church-lady-style postcards to the one outside our districts. Political messages go to our people in Richmond. Encouraging words go to someone else's.

It's not gone well for me in other years. The post office is all the way on the other end of town; I don't usually walk out there. There aren't any big public mailboxes along my route. Some years I've not even had the money to buy six or eight postage stamps. Last fall I e-mailed the program coordinator that, if the Concerned Women could find enough other people to send out these postcards, that would be the best thing, as my income was still preposterously low and I didn't want to promise to buy postage. She e-mailed back that the organization would send postage.

So I received a packet of postcards with stamps and resolved to pray for the Delegate assigned to me--that was another post. And, of course, dropped the postcards into a Rural Route box I passed and raised the little flag on the side.

The first time, the card was apparently mailed.

The second time, it lay in the box all week, until I opened the box to drop the third card in and found the second one still lying there, with a note stuck to it, saying "This mailbox is not serviced."

I thought about putting it in a different Rural Route box; looked in a few and saw letters inside. Then I thought that the recipients of those letters might think the card had been misdelivered to them.

I don't think the U.S. Postal Service should continue to employ people who don't know that, when you find a bit of mail with an uncancelled postage stamp on it, wherever you find it, the correct thing to do is mail it.

A Ship Named for a Pedophile?

Seriously, Gentle Readers.

The U.S. Navy has announced plans to name a battleship after Harvey Milk.

That Harvey Milk.

He was a trailblazing homosexual activist, which some of you may think was a good thing, and he succeeded as an "out" homosexual because he was competent at his job, or jobs, which was definitely a good thing. He served honorably in the U.S. Navy.

But hello...can the Navy not think of other people who were competent at their jobs, who served in the Navy, and who were not child molesters?

In Harvey Milk's time the homosexual lobby hadn't grown big enough to dare to separate themselves from pedophiles; they took whomever they got. They got many same-sex pedophiles. They didn't repudiate the National Association for Man-and-Boy Love until, what, 1990?

To be fair, in Harvey Milk's time mainstream society had not reached a consensus about the precise definition of child abuse, either. People were more willing to believe that a sexual act involving a teenager had been non-consensual, but in some states consenting teenagers could marry each other, or older people, at thirteen.

Like a lot of "gay" men, Milk didn't publicize his sexuality unil he was fairly well settled in his career (and out of the Navy). When he did, all of his known boyfriends were younger than he. At least one was only sixteen. 

If you thought Judge Roy Moore's merely touching teenaged girls, when he was thirty and still single, was more discrediting than his "rogue judge" reputation, then to be consistent you must agree that Mayor Harvey Milk's having a sixteen-year-old boyfriend, when Milk was over thirty, is also discrediting.

Personally, I can't imagine what anyone was thinking--even if they knew nothing about the man's life--to propose naming a battleship Milk.

Unfortunately the petition linked below doesn't offer a place for those signing it to nominate other Navy veterans who weren't pedophiles (and whose names would look less ridiculous on a battleship than "Milk"). This web site, however, does. Please name your favorite Navy veterans and tell their stories below. Disqus will give you about 200 words. 

(This link will eventually expire.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Virginia Citizens Defense League Lobbying on Monday

Fellow Virginians, do you want your daily newspapers reporting a murder a day? Mostly young men, mostly shot in the back, as happened in Washington during the gun ban?

Do you want to take advantage of the January Thaw, with the opportunities this year's expected long thaw is offering to get away from farm responsibilities? Pay someone to feed the animals and off you go?

Do you like Richmond? As a day trip destination, I mean. Personally, if I were going to spend a day or two in Richmond I'd want it to be during the January Thaw. I'd pack a trench coat, unlined, and expect to leave it in the van.

If you do not want to read about our young men being shot in the back on a daily basis, do want to travel during the thaw, and would like to see Richmond at the time of year when the climate is likely to be most bearable, you might want to join a group called the Virginia Citizens Defense League and go and visit your Delegate and State Senator on Monday.

The whole thing, I am credibly informed, is being staged for maximum TV drama. Expect to stand in line outside, waiting your turn to go in and chat with your people (or their office staff) for a few minutes, while remembering that others are waiting. The idea is to show the world what a well spoken, nicely if casually dressed, Perfect Virginia Lady or Gentleman you are. The official purpose of the trip is to walk in and say, probably to the office staff, "How do you do? I'm (Priscilla King) from (Gate City); I'm here to demonstrate support for weapons right with the Virginia Citizens Defense League," leave a business card if you carry them, and then have time for sightseeing and socializing. That's all.

The e-mail they sent out was worth reading, even though I trust Terry Kilgore already knows where people in Gate City stand on this issue. I considered reposting the whole e-mail here...No. You should visit their web site, get to know the organization, and consider the networking potential before you decide whether or not to go to Richmond. Swapping cards with these people might be worth the trip.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Virginia General Assembly Is In Session

...And it opened yesterday, my first day back in town, and I didn't make the time to post anything. I've not even read my men's bills yet. I had cherished an idealistic hope that, given the proposed gun regulations and the number of people who can be counted on to oppose those, this would be another quiet year when the General Assembly could get along just fine without us bloggers nipping at their heels.

No such luck.

Once again, this web site is officially following and praying for three men (yes, all of them are husbands and fathers) in the General Assembly. Fellow Virginians, I know some of you can do this too; it's a safe, friendly way to engage with the process. Christian women, specifically, join a project called "Encourage a Legislator," which sends out postcards expressly for the purpose of sharing non-political encouraging words with a Delegate or State Senator other than your own. This person is not there to represent you, so you can't tell him or her how to vote; you just pray for the person, that s/he will be blessed with wisdom and courage and good health and so on, and let the person know that Christians across the state are watching him or her.

Out here on the point of Virginia, this web site is represented by Delegate Terry Kilgore (House District 1) and State Senator Todd Pillion (Senate District 40). Links for them should work if you're in Virginia, and should track which part of Virginia you're in.

Delegate Kilgore of Gate City has been representing us, or at the very least our Republican majority, quite well for many years. While the bills he's proposed this year are (I note with great relief) of more concern to other people than they are to me, legislators' commendations of their constituents are always fun to read... .

Fiscal conservatives's eyebrows may rise when they read the bill of which he's listed as a chief co-patron. It doesn't raise taxes, but it does allow local governments to raise taxes. I will forward concerns from readers in other districts if they are expressed in a parliamentary way. None of us is getting any younger and the General Assembly always guarantees sufficient stress at best.

About Senator Pillion of Abingdon, so far, I can say that he's been very "conservative" in spending money to file proposed legislation: .

The object of this web site's special concern this year is Delegate Ronnie Campbell of Raphine. Reading his collected works at is likely to motivate this web site's original primary readership to pray earnestly for him. Notable for its unacceptibility to all True Greens and Libertarians is his proposal to allow local jurisdictions to order people who don't even live in cities to "mow grass and weeds."

Hello? Most of Virginia is not flat land, and you do not ever want to see mown grass on a steep slope. Mowing grass on a steep slope...

* guarantees erosion

* promotes the growth of the invasive nuisance called Bermuda grass (and other things prohibited under this web site's contract)

* encourages the unwary to build new dependencies on poisons like glyphosate and dicamba, not to mention "fertilizers" that can build up to toxic excess, and ultimately replace lovely native plants with more Spanish Needles, Johnson grass, and kudzu

* makes it more difficult for glyphosate-sensitive people to find and cultivate survival food in their back yards, which is certainly what's keeping me alive at this point, when nearly all commercially grown fruit and vegetables are poisoned

* disproportionately increases the burden of land ownership on the elderly and on young working parents, to no particular gain for anybody

* reduces much-needed biodiversity and "wild" land

* promotes un-neighborly meddling and petty personal harassment

* and also looks ugly...we don't need more Astroturf!

Am I ever praying that God will add an extra boost to the amount of wisdom the General Assembly should share with this gentleman, by killing this bill. (He proposed a similar bill last year. They killed it.)

I think we need a ban on any local requirements that anybody maintain a "mown lawn" even in a city. Native plants are much better. I don't know that we need to empower government to ban the bad habit of monocropping for Bermuda grass to maintain that Astroturf look, but we certainly don't need to tolerate any encouragement of this practice.

Long-term readers will remember the intensity with which Americans rejected the foreign-born land-grab proposal known as "Agenda 21." The United Nations disowned this agenda, but that in no way prevents people who supported it from insinuating little tendrils of it, like those first little sprouts of poison ivy in early spring, back into the edges of even Republicans' philosophical "lawns."

Their proposals sound so reasonable. So nice.

Scott County unanimously opposed the whole idea of a local zoning ordinance, ten years ago, because we opposed the kind of discrimination against low-income families that is involved in things like banning trailer houses. (Remember, "Agenda 21" was all about promoting all kinds of bans and regulations that would force all but the richest to give up owning private homes and land, allowing greedheads to take over large amounts of real estate whose owners refuse to sell it.) Our county board of supervisors assured us that nothing in the ordinance would keep anyone from putting a trailer house on their rental property and renting it out.

Yet, with some dismay, I already hear of people on town councils giving in to what sounds like a harmless reasonable proposal to boost town and city incomes by...banning trailer houses.

"But the reason why these people want trailer houses is that they don't have to pay property taxes on them." Once trailer houses are set up as permanent residences, not in camps but on privately owned land, what in existing state law prevents them from being taxed in the same way other houses are? Not that I think we need more taxes on more kinds of property; I think we need more frugal budgets. But the people who are really interested in land grabs don't want to think about removing a tax loophole that might be discouraging people from improving their trailer houses. Their real goal is to put more people out of their homes!

I already hear of people on town councils wanting to segregate "high-end" from midrange or minimum-investment businesses.

"But high-end businesses generate more profit and pay more taxes and allow cities to do more for the people." Maybe so, but do the people really need higher taxes to enable more dependency, or do they need more encouragement to keep themselves off welfare through low-investment businesses?

In Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, we learned the hard way about gun bans, and we also learned the hard way about how those nicely-nice proposals to yuppify neighborhoods create what I've always hoped would remain a unique kind of homelessness. We need to be vigilant about allowing this kind of ideas to spread into Virginia. One of Montgomery County, Maryland, is probably more than all the world needs.

Maybe what we really need is legislation to establish a Free Enterprise, American Way, zone including all of Virginia under one nice, clear, simple rule: If you own land, you have no right to use it in a way that does harm to other people--which would include putting a chemical plant in the middle of a residential suburb, or keeping hogs in a pen adjacent to a restaurant. But those other people have no right to object to anything you do with that land that does not materially harm them.

Under that kind of clearheaded legislation, neighbors could petition a city government to impose a fine on people who fail to allow native plants to displace any lingering messes of Bermuda grass, or who persist in spraying the kudzu their "weed killers" have nurtured with things whose vapors kill songbirds--but they could not complain about native plants. Or trailer houses. Or the colors of other people's paint...I suppose Reston has a right to exist somewhere, but I'm not at all sure that it ought ever to have existed in Virginia.

Remembering that Agenda 21 also called for Delegate Campbell's and my generation to die younger than we grew up expecting we would, I urge Virginia's Republicans to be as vigilant about these sneaky little appeals to whatever little furtive traces of greed and snobbery they possess, as they are about the attention-grabbing gun ban. Not that gun bans are a safe experiment, as far as human lives are concerned. But land-grabbing is not a safe experiment either. 

Those who choose are welcome to join my prayer for the Virginia General Assembly for 2020:

Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon You, and we beg the blessing of Your guidance to preserve our common wealth from the influence of malevolent patrons who gamble on our shortsightedness.

Help our elected representatives to remember, always, that individual freedom and accountability only to You are ideals that have served us well in this world, while European notions about "gentility," dependency on government, and concern for appearance had destructive effects on all those who succumbed to them.

We ask Your particular blessing on Delegate Campbell, who is not a young man but is new to the General Assembly, and on Delegate Kilgore, whom You have placed in a position to guide and correct him.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Invitation to Gloat: The Goodreads Challenge

The challenge was to read 300 books and post something about each one on Goodreads in 2019.

I read the 300 books--and more, easily, because Goodreads counts recipe and pattern books. (And doesn't everybody reread the whole pattern book while they're knitting their version of a printed pattern? I knitted a lot of printed stitch patterns into original, one-off blankets in 2019.)

But I made the time to post mini-reviews of only 224.

Because I'm still on Goodreads and I still want to encourage those of the writers who are still alive (and online), I will eventually make the time to post about the other books I read in 2019. Unless I've reread them in 2020, I will list the date read as 2019. Eventually my Goodreads list will show more than 300 books read in 2019.

But the challenge included posting the reviews...therefore, I failed.

If this year's challenge is still open, I plan to enter again. 300 books will be read, whether or not I'm able to publish reviews of them...I am still hoping to get back to the Amazon links and direct sales through this web site, but that'll take a new bank account as well as a new laptop...sigh.

If I fail again, I fail again.

If people want to gloat because they finished their challenge, no problem; I'll be glad they're glad.

People may or may not want to know what happened in the last few online days in December. Norwalk Flu is what happened. I missed some online time in the last week before Christmas when I had it. The cafe was scheduled to be open half the day on Saturday and on Tuesday. I was mulling, "Which day should I use for Goodreads?" The cafe is, technically, the front room of the owners' home. They had relatives visiting. One of these relatives is a fellow celiac. In order to keep any lingering virus I had well away from that person, I took the laptop home early and dug into my holiday projects.

No Internet. Maybe half a dozen phone conversations. No Glyphosate Awareness...will I ever be glad when that's finished! Some visiting with friends and family, and lots of time for writing and knitting and housekeeping. It was like the pre-Internet era, only without the incessant clatter of the manual typewriter and the stacks of wasted paper. I enjoyed every minute of it.

It cost me a writing job to which I was really looking forward, too. Wail! Moan! Whine!

It was a lovely Net-free winter break, even so.

Meanwhile, I have a Goodreads review of a new book to expand and improve for an actual paying magazine.

Status Update: I'm Back

After two and a half pleasant weeks offline, I'm back. I have 24 pages of e-mail to sort through...and that's after checking the real mail.

Meanwhile, a funny thing happened on the way in, worth sharing...

I was walking briskly along, hauling this poor old laptop on my shoulder, watching where I was going in my astigmatic way. Generally my left eye stays focussed in such a way as scan the road ahead and my right eye stays focussed in such a way as to see what's immediately under my feett.

This leaves several yards of middle distance of which my vision, unless I take time to refocus on something in that distance, is blurry. Mostly what's going on at that distance is that vehicles are moving, and I move further to the side of the road as indicated.

Occasionally, two or three times this morning because the rain had just stopped and people were just going out to do their morning errands, a person speaks to me from that distance. What I see of this person is a human-shaped blur. The voice is what tells me whether it's male or female, whether it's friend, nuisance, or stranger.

So this blur said "Hi," and the voice told me it was a male stranger, so I said "Hi" back and kept walking.

I usually do say "Hi" back to people who do this kind of tedious greeting, or greeding, routine, if only because that's the quickest way to brush them off. Since I have the type of aging ears to which my voice sounds louder than it does to other people, and I don't intend to shout, people don't always hear me say anything.

Extroverts have this sick, crazy need to assure themselves that, even though they have nothing to say to each other and no reason not to ignore each other, they're not ignoring each other in a hostile way. A lot of hostility seems to fill in the gap where a positive purpose ought to be in the extrovert mind. Yes, I do feel that throwing them the scrap of attention indicated by saying "Hi" is a bit like bowing to Haman, but I suppose they deserve a little crumb of a treat for waiting till they get into speaking distance and speaking quietly rather than screaming across the street. (I do ignore people who scream, or who blurt out names--whosever names those might be--in a, not really hostile, but actively discouraging way.)

Anyway this particular man apparently felt a need to prove he was a vague long-ago acquaintance rather than a street terrorist, because as I kept walking away and his voice told me he kept walking in the other direction, he said something like "I'm John Doe! Used to be married to Jane!"

And I caught myself thinking, "Mercy, Lord. Does this fellow now expect I'm going to recognize him? Is that why Jane left him?" (I don't know or care why they separated. It's none of my business.)

I caught myself trying to remember the visual impression I had of this John Doe. Well, he seemed to be of average size. I did not actually see his skin color, much less eye color, or whether or not he had hair or was wearing a hat. His shape suggested he was wearing a jacket and trousers, but leather jacket or denim jacket, jeans or khakis, boots or shoes? I had no idea. If he'd needed a witness to something that had just taken place, I would've been the world's worst. All I saw of him was an average-man shape with the light behind it. No details whatsoever.

So now what happens? If he's a nice quiet introvert with a life, he'll get on with his life. Good. If he's a tiresome extrovert, he'll start fretting about whether I was ignoring him in a hostile way and how to reassure himself that he's taking control of that situation. Not good.

I really think we need a solid rule of etiquette that, if you don't have something to say that makes it worth stopping and focussing your attention on each other, you don't speak.

But the funny part is that probably 95% of all humans, including visually impaired humans who imagine that all people with 20-20 vision see everything in detail right away, would imagine that I'd actually seen this man's face--and I didn't see his face at all. I saw that he was moving in my direction, which would have been hard to do without its having been possible for me to have seen his face if I'd stopped and focussed my eyes on it...but I did not do that.

If asked to testify in court whether he was Black or White, I would have had to say that I believe that I did look at his face once, twenty-five or thirty years ago, and if he's the same person I believe him to be then he's White--but I did not actually see that.

Such is life with astigmatism.

If you know any of the people who fret about what it "means" that someone didn't speak to them on the street, you might do people with astigmatism the courtesy of reminding those people of the possibility that those who don't speak to them may not see them.