We knew it when we saw it

A short piece about the place where we really live–transformed far, far away. A sketch for a short story perhaps.

We knew it when we saw it, the place for our dream house. We climbed the rocky slope, over and between the boulders left by the upthrust of tectonic events millennia ago. So much like the land we had left behind in the American Southwest, even to the thorny plants that could pierce heavy denim. New Mexico had been arid for so many generations, then the unending drought that came with global warming emptied the wells and killed all but the hardiest cacti. When the opportunity came, we joined the exodus to a new planet. The promotional videos showed a verdant world. Rivers, lakes of a peculiar purple and trees in hues we’d never seen on Earth. There might have been such places on Eleuthra, but not in the area open for settlement when we arrived. But it looked so much like the home we’d left behind, we weren’t disappointed–too much.

Away from the few other settlers who dared the village outskirts, we sat on folding chairs we’d carried high atop the hill. First here, then there, we moved the chairs until the best view of the valley emerged. Semiarid like New Mexico, yet small streams flowed in a few places, sheltered by dull orange-colored trees. Mountains rose in the distance, with snow covered peaks rising several thousand feet above us. Yes, we could live here. We could write, we could paint, we could quilt. So much beauty, even amidst the danger. The deadly predators the Authority had failed to warn us of. Our future neighbors showed us the pictures and the defenses they’d erected. Still, if they could survive so could we. Not without some hardship. Not without some close calls we didn’t expect.

I Used to Dance

A little something from the Gila Writers Group last week.

I used to dance, long ago, once I overcame the fear of ridicule or looking foolish to those who actually knew the footwork and possibly other associated motions that certain Sixties dances required. By the Seventies, free-styling was the dominant form on the floor. With just the right number of tokes, who cared what anyone else thought anyway.

Actually, I think I got it all down pretty well by then–syncing my moves to the music of the day, or night to be more precise. There really were no prescribed moves anymore. Then came disco, that short-lived excursion into far more moves than ordinary rock and roll ever had. Kind of like a return to decades past. Many mocked the music but plenty did the steps. Not me. No time for learning that in the midst of law school–even if I’d wanted to. I suppose the freestyle and disco coexisted for a time, with disco fading first. But by then, age and marriage made clubs and the party scene a thing of the past.

Now I’m living just outside Silver City. A small town in New Mexico. I’ve seen bumper stickers that say

Old hippies never die, they just move to Silver City

There’s some truth to that. You can verify it with a trip to the Blues Festival that happens every Memorial Day Weekend. It’s FREE! Occasional name groups or individual singers show up. More often it’s people you’ve never heard of–but that doesn’t mean they’re not smokin’. Many folks just sit in their canvas event chairs, with or without umbrellas. But many others surround the stage set up on the pagoda in the middle of the town’s park. With music blasting, they make their own unique contribution to the dance vocabulary. No two individuals or couples move alike. From their apparel, it’s obvious some are reliving the good old days of wherever hippies and wannabes frolicked.

More than a little overweight and without the aid of still prohibited recreational drugs, I’ve eschewed the dancing myself. Now that I’m nearly svelte, next year has to be the time to revisit those days myself. Who knows, by then New Mexico may join the legalization movement that’s already taken hold in Colorado.

#WAWTB Nigerian Woman Makes Her Community Healthier

News from the Carter Center

The Carter Center, founded by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter decades ago, funds and organizes health programs (among many other things) around the world. This, from their website, relates the work of Kate Orji as a Community-Directed Distributor (of medicine). She has been doing this since 1995, providing essential medications to residents of her village, Umudurudu, to prevent disease. Armed only with two logbooks, a flipbook, two drug bottles, a spoon, and a pen, she visits 86 households twice a year.

Kate Orji, distributing medicine in her village

In recent years, [she has] added river blindness and lymphatic filariasis treatments on behalf of The Carter Center.

The modest contents of her plastic bag are the only tools Orji needs to halt these two parasitic diseases. Targeting river blindness, the drug Mectizan® (donated by Merck & Co., USA) kills the parasite larvae in the human body, preventing blindness and skin disease in infected people and stopping transmission of the parasite to others. When taken in combination with Mectizan, albendazole prevents lymphatic filariasis, a devastating disease that often causes grotesque swelling in legs and genitalia.

Her long tenure as a CDD exemplifies one of the benefits of women in the position: they tend to be more stable and reliable than men, who sometimes leave their communities in search of work or other opportunities. A recent study by the University of Jos in Nigeria suggested that recruiting more women as CDDs would be beneficial because they also are better at mobilizing their fellow community members into action.

If you would like to be part of the once a month posting of something good in the world you’d like to share, you can post it HERE in the linky share for #WATWB. Your hosts this month are:

 

Peter Nena,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal,
Shilpa Garg
Roshan Radhakrishnan
Sylvia McGrath
and Belinda Witzenhausen

Hottest Summer In Seven Years But the Wildlife Likes It

We moved to Silver City in March 2011. This is the hottest summer since we’ve been here. Global warming? That’s not subject to anecdotal changes of a decade or so. Validation is found over a period of at least a century, probably a lot longer. But the data is out there. But let’s not get into that. We’re talking about our personal experience here in New Mexico.

June is typically the hottest month in New Mexico. May starts warming up for the summer. July starts trending back down as the rains come. The clouds did their job, but the heat is still here on many days. We had nineties on many days in May, June and July! No, not every day–but more than should be outside of June. Oh well, that’s how you get averages. So the ceiling fans are on the casement windows open a half-hour after sundown as the temperature drops. Hot as it is outside, we haven’t been above 85 degrees inside.

Yes, the snakes like the weather–we’ve seen several bull snakes. A smaller one, maybe 24-30 inches graced our kitchen. I thought it was a larger lizard I saw in the side mirror of the Tundra as I entered the garage one day. Nope, must have been the snake. I had to pull the range away from the wall to move him out with a backscratcher before grabbing him behind the head and carrying him back outside.

We don’t have picture of that little guy, but here’s a bigger one that my dog Max carefully observed from several feet away. Yes, they do look a bit like rattlers, but they don’t have that noisemaker. This one is about 3.5 feet long. There have been many more snakes this summer–some bullsnakes and others we’re not sure of. No rattlers this year.

A bullsnake moves away from camera range

 

The tarantulas are here too. We hadn’t seen any since 2013. Now they’re everywhere–a small dead one in the driveway (natural causes, a predatory wasp?), one I saw from 30 feet away crossing the highway (I passed over him,  between the wheels) and then there was the one above the garage door. Not as big as the one on the highway or the one in 2013, but interesting.

The spider sat on the outside wall of the garage

 

The lizards are plentiful too. Skinny ones and fat ones. Long ones and short ones. Little ones (a couple inches) and a tad bigger (three to four inches). Birds galore too at the seed feeder–doves, finches, wrens, grosbeaks, Mexican jays and more. At least three varieties of hummingbirds are now here at the two feeders.

 

A desert willow with pretty flowersThe plants like the weather too. Cacti are doing well. The desert willow we planted six weeks ago is doing great, with new flowers continually blooming. Here’s a photo from today, with buds and blooms in full display.

 

 

GDPR Changes and John Maberry’s Writing

I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the European Union member countries to actively enforce requirements to protect the privacy of the citizens within those countries. Unfortunately, the challenges of making changes to my websites is more than I am willing to take on at this time, while working to overcome some health challenges. 

I run no ads, do no direct sales, collect no personal data other than names, email addresses and websites and then only for comments on posts or for subscribing to posts. I share them with no one, nor do I sell them. Until such time as VERY SIMPLE plugins and hopefully changes to WordPress itself to address GDPR are available I won’t be making those changes required to comply with it.

To protect myself from liability, this site will no longer be available within those countries known to be within the European Union as of May 25, 2018. Sometime this year, I will make an effort to join Facebook and will accelerate posts to Google Plus in an effort to publicize works in progress and new book releases. Once the process of compliance becomes simpler, this site should again be available to EU countries.

If you, somehow manage to connect with this site after May 25 and your IP is within the EU, please send me a comment identifying your country so that I can block access to it. I will appreciate your effort to protect me from enforcement actions.

The Waffle House Hero

It’s the last Friday of the month and time for the We Are the World Blogfest good news item. I didn’t get a reminder this month so I have no idea who this month’s co-hosts are. If you see a post elsewhere, you might find them.

With all the assault weapon attacks across America, it’s great to see a hero emerge to save lives. Not only did James Shaw, Jr. confront and disarm a shooter who had already killed four people at a Waffle House diner in Nashville, he started a Go Fund Me site for surviving victim. The page has already received over $165,000.

Read more about him and the attack here, if you haven’t already seen or heard all about it–which you probably have if you live in North America.

 

Tony Hawk Building Skateboards in Challenged Neighborhoods

Tony Hawk doing a trick on a skateboard
From the Guardian/US article

It’s the last Friday of the month–time for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest. This month I’m highlighting an article about the 588 skateboard parks opened around the US by funding from the Tony Hawk Foundation. I am neither a fan nor a skateboarder (more than a little too old for that  😉 ). Still, most people know the name of the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Skateparks aren’t cheap; the foundation donated $5.7 million to build those parks. The article that explains all this, includes other ways for people to help communities support youth.

Cohosts for this month’s WATWB are: Belinda Witzenhausen, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti. Please visit their sites for more good news articles like this one. 

Debt for Dolphins–Protecting the Coral and More

The Seychelles, which depend on tourism and fishing, has announced a first-of-its-kind program to exchange debt for protection of the ocean around its islands. The island nation will create two new marine parks and in return will have a substantial part of its large national debt paid off under a debt swap, according to an article in the Guardian.

$22m of national debt owed to the UK, France, Belgium and Italy was bought at a discount by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the NGO that has assisted the Seychelles.

TNC also raised $5m from donors to pay off part of the debt and cut the interest rate charged to the Seychelles government on the outstanding loan. This has freed up $12m over the next 20 years to help implement the new marine plan.

The new parks will cover 15% of the Seychelles ocean. Photograph: The Ocean Agency from the Guardian article

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest. Cohosts for this month are:  Shilpa Garg, Peter Nena, Eric LahtiRoshan Radhakrishnan and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal. Please check out their posts as well for other non-political good news.

The Gastroenterologist Transportation Commissioner

Another short piece from a writing group prompt–obviously the phrase that’s in the punchline. Use prompts; they work. 😀

No one could have imagined the result of appointing the well-regarded specialist Transportation Commissioner. He had much party support, having donated thousands of dollars to local, state and federal candidates. An astute observer, however, might have given the choice some pause. The gastroenterologist and his wife had developed a small vacation resort in the nearby mountains. The property featured the “Colonic Cabins” and a snack shop featuring “Digestive Delights.” Given his prominence in the community and all the money he’d contributed, he had no difficulty getting the short street to his medical offices renamed “Alimentary Avenue.” Still, disturbed as the locals were by the name he selected for the traffic artery he had commissioned a year after his taking office, they couldn’t deny the benefits of reduced traffic congestion after the opening of Gastric Bypass. What could you expect from him?