Not all heroes wear capes.

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Mornin’ all.

You’re looking at a person who deserves a medal.

Yesterday at work, a man came sauntering up to my counter. “You the cake designer?” he asked, by way of salutation.

“Sure am, how may I help you?” I asked, shoving aside the trash can that’s always in my way and grabbing my order pad.

He was carrying a piece of paper with him which he proceeded to unfold with unnecessary levels of sass. The paper snapped he unfolded it so hard, and I knew right there this was not going to be a customer interaction I would enjoy. He had an annoyed expression, too, as if I’d already sullied his shopping experience somehow by asking how I could help. He opened the paper, then tossed it on the counter, and said, “Make me that.” He crossed his arms. He stared a ridiculously defiant stare.

I had a pen in my hand. It’s a nice pen. Looks very professional unless you read the words on it. “Camp Dipstick.” That’s what the pen says and I love it. It’s my favorite pen. It’s got real heft to it, too. It’s metal, with a silicone coating that gives excellent grip. Heavy, metal, sharp, easy to wield…

I gripped that pen. My hand twitched. Time slowed. My hand began to move forward, seemingly of its own will, as condescension radiated from the man’s expression like a physical force. I couldn’t stop myself. I couldn’t help it. That smirk. THAT SMIRK. I HATE condescension. I can’t stand it. Be rude to me, that’s fine. Be an asshole if you want. But come at me with a dismissive tone dripping with judgment? Nothing gets me angrier faster. My hand lifted and moved and before I knew it I was…

Writing out his order.

I asked for his name and phone number, the standard opener for taking an order. He flipped the paper over and thumped the back where he had the information written down. I was supposed to know he already did that. My b.

A couple of times I got, “Yeah, suuurrrre,” as response to my questions, questions that clearly inspire sarcastic retorts like, “Would you like buttercream icing?” and “Would you like a filling between the layers?” I suppose if I’m going to ask questions like that, I kind of deserve ridicule. I mean, who do I think I am, right?

After the brief mostly grunty exchange, I went to read back the order to make sure we were on the same page. This is standard. They order, you confirm the order. I wasn’t doing it to hold him up or ruin his life, but I guess I just didn’t stop and think about my actions, did I? Don’t worry, he let me know I crossed a line. He rolled his eyes and sighed as if he was Atlas himself. “Just make it,” he snapped before storming away.

Folks, while there were many things I could have said or done, I took the order. I smiled. I wished his back a nice day as he too-cool-for-school strolled out the door. I put my nice, heavy, sharp pen away and filed the paperwork in the appropriate slot for long term orders. And next week, I’ll make his froofy unicorn cake the best goddamn froofy unicorn cake he’s ever seen.

Maybe I don’t deserve a medal. That seems a bit small for such an amazing feat of self-restraint and personal fortitude.

What, exactly, do keys to the city unlock?

Thus concludes a Musing for Thursday, June 7, 2018. I think it goes without saying that this is entirely sarcastic and I would never, ever harm a customer. It should, anyway. But, this IS the internet, soooo…..

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I’m back, and boy do I have a great idea…

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Mornin’ all.

Why don’t people tailgate at craft fairs?

“Uh, Bethie? You okay over there?”

I was driving home from dropping Teen Prime off at work, and an ad came on the radio for tickets to minor league ball games. They were advertising a partnership with stores that sell the tickets, and mentioned that folks should stop in and get tailgating supplies while they were at it. They said something about also not forgetting poster board and body paint to show their spirit.

In New England, we have a series of yearly craft fairs that fill the calendar. There’s a circuit of them, on a fairly standard schedule. During spring and summer, they take place at different outdoor venues, often as part of farmers or flea markets. In the colder months, they’re most often held in the basements of whichever local church draws the short straw.

Except for the Catholics. They don’t do “craft fairs”. Craft fairs are banal events attended by uncouth swine. *sniff* Catholics hold Christmas bazaars.

The people who attend these crafting events are the same people year in and year out. Once in awhile, they’ll drag along new blood, and of course they raise their children in the die hard craft culture. The point is, the craft world has a very dedicated core group of fans who seasonally plan their weekends around attending these fairs. They are just as ravenous as sports fans.

Why doesn’t society allow us to pregame a craft show with the same fervor and dedication as sports fans?

“Bethie, I highly doubt the people who go to these craft shows would be the tailgating type.”

Are you smoking crack? We’re talking about a group of people that gets giddy at the mere mention of naturally dyed wool. Their panties don’t just get wet at the thought of hand pressed card stock, they get BEDAZZLED. Do you think that level of fandom happens without wine? Granny would pregame the shit out of a craft fair if it was accepted by society.

Think about it.

We have grown ass men and women who cover their bodies in paint and glitter while holding up a hand painted neon sign to support their sports team. Paint and glitter? They stole that shit from us! Aren’t those supplies the very BACKBONE of the crafting world? And who do you think makes the snacks for the sporting tailgaters? I bet behind every family’s tailgate tradition was a mum who loved the hell out of her family, her team, and her secret Lil’ Smokies sauce recipe. It’s a no brainer, folks. It’s like this shit was made for the crafting world.

Why isn’t this already a thing??

I don’t often take a stance on an important issue. But, I am going to right here, right now. I am officially throwing my support and the support of this entire blog behind this movement. Let’s take back the glitter and paint. Let’s reclaim our secret kielbasa sauce recipe. Let’s pop open those bottles of Merlot while eagerly betting on who’s going to have a Pinterest worthy table and who’s going to end up on a bad craft sub-Reddit. Let’s cut the bullshit machismo and let the crafters party.

Who’s with me?

Thus concludes a new format Musing that I’m going to try out for Tuesday, May 1, 2018. I’m going to try shorter formats. Life has shifted, and my mornings have become busy. I’m going to see if just a quick blog allows me to pipe up with these million dollar ideas more often.

Can’t tell if it’s the cold or the paint fumes that’s got me feeling sappy…

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what? The world DIDN’T end in 2017!

…um…at least…I don’t *think* it did. I’m holding my face over a hot cup of coffee (the only hot thing in the entire northeast right now) in an effort to keep the blood flowing to my brain so I can type through the -11 degree morning.

“Achem, Bethie. It’s already warmed up to -10.”

Oh. My b. Lemme just run and find my tank top and hot pants.

Anyway, as I was saying, I can actually feel the pitifully small amount of heat radiating on my shivering chin. I can sort of feel my fingertips creak over the icy keyboard that I can see sitting on the desk in front of me. I can hear dueling tv shows the kids fell asleep watching (probably before midnight, though none of them will ever admit it). And I can smell an odd aroma I think is coming from the bathroom wall that we’ve got a space heater aimed towards in an effort to thaw out pipes.

Side question: Can you get lead poisoning from inhaling melting paint fumes? Asking for a friend.

My point is, I think I am observing these sensory inputs. Maybe I am not. Maybe we didn’t actually make it through 2017 and this is some bizarre afterlife.

“Um, I think you should probably move that heater away from the lead paint wall.”

It might be asbestos. I’m not entirely confident I know what asbestos is…

“You’re experiencing some kind of reality, right?”

Right.

“And I’m here, too, right?”

Welllll….technically…

“Let’s just say we made it through and move on before the coffee ices up and we freeze our faces to the rims like jackasses, okay?”

…fair enough. I think we can say with confidence that we may have actually made it through 2017! And if we didn’t, we have no idea. So, happy 2018!

Everyone’s doing this “What I learned in 2017” thing on Ye Olde Booke of Faces. I actually kind of like that. I’m one of those super annoying people who thinks there is something of value to glean from every situation, no matter how shitty. In fact, usually the shittier the experience, the more valuable the lesson.

I learned many things in 2017. I learned that my boys are far more capable than the Mummy in me wants them to be sometimes. I don’t really mean that, of course. I want them to be very capable, independent men. But I still want my little boys. If you have kids, you understand. Teen Prime has taken on a very demanding position at work and is thriving, Teen Beta is in college and broke as shit (as any decent college student do), and Teen 2.0 is gainfully employed and killing it. The Littlest Pup is having himself a great school year, and is finding his voice in my often exuberantly loud pack. And though I still want to protect them all against the trials and tribulations of life, they got this shit. And it’s awesome to watch.

I also learned that 39 years is apparently enough years of carefreely eating shellfish. The Last Lobster was damn good, though. I put the sea bugs on a charcoal grill, right in their shells so they cooked in their own juices. Man oh man, if you want the best tasting lobster of your life, don’t boil it…grill it whole. If at all avoidable, I’d skip the Benedryl dessert, though. Bitter taste, groggy finish. Still, better than dying, soooo… 3.7 stars out of 5

I’m not really that bummed about avoiding Maine’s number one export. I only ate me some lobstah maybe once every 5 years or so as a treat. What does make me sad is that the shrimp toast I tried a couple weeks later yielded a very similar “lack of breathing” result.

Top tip kids: You want to breathe. It’s the preferred method for staying alive.

*sniff* I love shrimp. I guess they got sick of me killing their brethren and finally launched an effective counter attack. Touche, shrimpies. You have bested me in this contest of life, and I concede the match.

In fact, 2017 was the year of general body rebellion. Maybe it’s age. Maybe there’s a genetic component, which seems very likely when viewed with others in my family. Hell, maybe it’s just 39 years of not taking care of myself finally catching up. Whatever the cause, the smiting I took at the fins of The Shellfish of Justice was just the harbinger of things to come. What followed was a couple months of serious stomach pain, until I tried an elimination diet to see if I could figure out what was causing the issue.

“Um, Bethie? Maybe you should just go to a doctor.”

Ooooh, look at Ms. Fancypants over here with her “health insurance”. I don’t work enough hours to qualify for insurance through my employer, I don’t make enough to be able to afford the “Affordable Care” promised to me through legislation, and I make too much to qualify for state assistance. I tried to straddle it, but I’m afraid I am one of the millions of Americans that has fallen into the coverage gap.

If I thought it was something super serious, I’d go to the doctor even without insurance. In fact, my self diagnosis plan was:

– Google

– Trying the reasonable things found on Google in order to eliminate certain possibilities (no, that did not include drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day, or eating a paleo diet that only kept the average cave woman alive for 35 years)

– Going to a doctor and working out the enormous debt later if steps 1 and 2 failed

They didn’t fail, though. I got a result, the pain stopped, so I really think it was diet related.

I’ve narrowed it down to wheat or dairy. I haven’t had either in many months now, and the stomach is much, much happier. It wasn’t the same reaction as the shellfish…it wasn’t like I was having an “oh shit I can’t breathe” moment after a cheese sandwich. But I was definitely in awful pain after nearly every meal. And since I cut those things out, I’m not.

“Do you miss that stuff?”

I enjoy not doubling over in pain when I eat far more than I miss pizza. It was one of those “I didn’t realize how truly awful I felt until I stopped doing it” kind of life changes. Here’s a surprise: I like not being in pain. I like it so much I don’t miss the things I’ve cut out of my diet.

It’s like when I quit smoking. I quit because I got the flu and couldn’t breathe. It was the first time ever that I couldn’t pull in a solid breath, and it was terrifying. I stopped smoking right then and there and have not once thought “man, I could use a cig.” Not a single time. That’s not a brag…that’s trying to explain how scared I was, how awful that experience felt. The same as sticking tweezers in an outlet, or trying to quick iron your skirt without taking it off first. You get hurt bad enough, you learn.

I’m just not a fast learner about some things.

I guess we’re down to my personal life lesson of 2017. It’s a big, emotional can of worms and there’s no way to say it without sounding like a total douchebag, so I’m just going to spit it out and give myself over to the dark side. I think in 2017 I finally learned that it’s okay to take care of myself.

“UGH.”

I warned you first. I’m going to sound like one of those annoying “it’s time for ME” people, and trust me, I’m not happy about it, either.

“I was only kidding, Bethie. You SHOULD take care of yourself.”

I’ve always had a difficult time doing that. In fact, I kind of perfected the opposite. When I feel bad, what makes me feel better is treating myself horribly. Maybe not always intentionally. Or maybe sort of intentionally with the comfort of guilt after.

I think a lot of people would understand what I mean by that, and if you’re not one of them, then I envy you. I truly do.

I had this realization in the middle of the grocery store health and beauty aisle when I was shopping for lotion. It was the third item on my list, right after “wheat free bread for stuffing?”. Yes, with the question mark, because just writing down such a selfish indulgence was hard for me to do. I found the bread, talked myself into buying it because stuffing is the only reason to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and moved on to lotions.

My skin is having a very horrible time right now. I think some of it is the weight loss (no cakes, no cupcakes, no cookies, no cheese covered sammies…can’t argue with the unintended results of cutting that shit out), some of it is age, a lot of it is working in a dry bakery… I’m chapped all over my hands and lower arms, and my legs from my knees down. It burns and catches on my sleeves and pants and starts bleeding. I need lotion.

I need it.

And it was so hard to buy. I was honestly in tears.

It just…it hit me, ya know? You ever have a moment when you stop and legitimately ask yourself what the hell you’re doing? I felt so bad for shopping for the foods that won’t hurt me, and buying lotion which – I’ll say it again- I absolutely, without question NEEDED, that I stood in the aisle and started to cry. It wasn’t the four bucks for the damn lotion. I had that in my pocket. It wasn’t about the cost, that was only my justification. It was because I still couldn’t shut that voice up in my head that was saying I was being difficult, needy, high maintenance, selfish…

I can’t do it anymore. I can’t bleed quietly while I convince myself I deserve it.

I don’t know where exactly all these feelings come from. I’ve got some obsessive tendencies I honestly believe are genetic. You all know I’m a hoarder. I’ve made no secret about that. Cleaning out my dad’s place after he died and finding the most bizarre stashes of random shit led me to thinking about things from my childhood…I think he probably fought that beast, too. I also have other harmful tendencies that I would also classify as obsessive compulsions. Perhaps it’s an extreme version of the genetic mutation which allows for altruism as a means of advancing the greater Us. I don’t know. That seems like a can of worms for a different day. As with hard solipsism, it’s a brain exercise that has little to do with reality when you get right down to it. At the end of the day, this is the reality I am experiencing. It’s the reality I at least have the illusion of controlling. How I got here matters far less than what I’m going to do about it.

I have to start taking care of myself. I have to figure out how to do it without feeling guilty.

I’m gluten free. I don’t eat dairy. I’m a douche who covers herself with cocoa butter lotion.

*author’s sidenote: Cocoa butter is UH-MAZE-ING. I got this “healing therapy lotion” for “severely chapped skin” that burned so bad I was fighting back tears for almost an hour. Only after the hour in agony did I read the back of the bottle and found that it had acid and two types of alcohol in it. Who the HELL puts ACID in a cream you’re going to rub on severely chapped skin?!?! Psychopaths, that’s who. Absolute maniacs. After scouring the lotion aisle once again and discovering all the big names are run by horrible, uncaring MONSTERS who get their jollies by tricking you into rubbing your already beaten body with what equates to the classic tequila shot, I found one that didn’t have acids and alcohols in it. Cocoa butter, kids. It’s just cocoa butter. No acid that will sear your already damaged flesh. No alcohol that will continue to dry your skin out further. It just creates a soothing barrier between your tender cracked shell and the cruel, icy world. Learn from me before it’s too late.*

Listen to me. I’m becoming a person I always secretly mocked.

Part of me hates that I’m at this point in life where I realize that I’ve belittled those who treat themselves well because deep down I was jealous that they seemed to deserve being treated right and I didn’t. Most of me hates the fact that it’s taken 39 years to come around to their way of thinking.

We don’t know what happens after we die. People aren’t exactly clamoring to come back and let us know for sure. The one thing we do know is that we’re here now. We definitely have THIS life. I’m hoping for at least another 20 years. I don’t want to spend the future the same way I’ve spent the past.

It’s not really a New Year’s resolution. It’s a New Year’s revelation, one that really shouldn’t be. This year, I’m going to try really hard to stay this new and slightly uncomfortable course. I’m hoping that it’ll get easier with time. And I’m hoping I have the fortitude to keep taking care of myself even if it doesn’t.

Thus concludes the first Musing for 2018. This one turned serious on me. I didn’t intend for it to. I wanted to joke about the cold and maybe do a Roundup. Guess sometimes you just have to go where the winds take you. I do feel a Roundup beckoning, though. Stay tuned. The next one will be fun. I promise.

Ain’t no party like a manger party cuz a manger party don’t stop…

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Mornin’ all.

On the way to work yesterday, I noticed a chicken on the side of the highway. She was just standing there, looking across the road, feathers ruffling in the breeze of the passing cars. Was she considering a brave run to finally answer the age old question? Had she already answered the question and was thinking over her epic journey?

About a mile up the road, more chickens were standing in a field. They were huddled together, clearly planning. It added a more intriguing twist to the story. Did the first chicken escape? Was she lost? Were the others planning to send a search party? Or did I happen on a situation that was far darker? Did she escape? Did she know too much? Were the others considering their damage control options once the coop expose hit the papers? Or were they plotting something much, much worse?

Sadly, I’ll never know. It was a brief vignette in the story of my day that will never find resolution. And I just have to live with that.

So how are you? It’s been awhile. I’d “mea culpa”, but you all know two things by now:

1. I work in a bakery. It’s the holiday season. I AM an elf of Santa, one of the Forgottens. No one writes stories about Santa’s bakers. No one tells the heartwarming tales of busy little elves working their little fingers to the bone to make the wonderful cookies and cakes and pies you know and love from your childhood. We really need our own claymation special. Someone get on that.

2. It’s me. If you haven’t clued into the fact that sometimes I can’t write, then you have only been dabbling in this blog.

Anyway, let’s catch up.

My jury duty service is done! I never went in November, because there were no jury trials scheduled during the entire month. I told you I live in a fairly uneventful area. In NH, when you’re selected for district court petit jury, you get two dates. I had another shot at being a responsible citizen in December.

And STILL no one was naughty enough (or maybe their lawyers weren’t prepared enough) to have a jury trial in December, either. I got an email from the court saying I was not needed, that I would be removed from the pool for three years, and thanking me for my service.

You’re welcome? I guess?

I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit bummed out. Not about the cancellation in November, because of the timing. I did a happy dance and immediately texted my boss with a string of excited emojis to express my feelings. But I kind of actually wanted to be of service and participate in the process. Now that won’t happen for at least three more years.

Interesting thing to ponder… I live in a rural area. Even so, the county has a population of around 80,000. Let’s say half are kids. Let’s get crazy and say another half of what’s left are adults, but aren’t registered voters. That’s still 20,000 peoples’ names in this pool of potential participants. Three people in my place of work were drawn for the same jury duty. Doesn’t that just raise the eyebrow a bit? Seems a bit unlikely that it’s a truly random selection process. My place of work isn’t even a large employer in the area. Hm.

Turkey day went fine. It was pretty mellow here, but I did make one kickass feast. Toot toot of my own horn and all, but YUM. We did not shop Black Friday. We worked.

*director’s stage notes: Rocky-esque montage of devoted bakery elves, flash back and forth between happy, carefree holiday shoppers getting rock bottom prices and the elves sweating and slaving over dough rolling…end with placing sugar star on top of cake…is Survivor still around to do soundtrack??*

In other news, they may have found life in space.

“WHAT? Why haven’t I heard about this?”

Because the Cheeto in Chief is a slimey asshat and his comrades are being arrested one after another. Those stories take precedence. (Yep. I said it. Pun intended and I’m not at all sorry.)

Also, because it’s Russian cosmonauts doing the research and reporting, people in the US are very skeptical. Here’s the deal.

Cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station swabbed the outside of our shared tin can. They do this regularly. It’s astounding how much we can learn about our solar system, and, by extension, our galaxy by analyzing space dust. The swabs were sealed and sent back to earth for testing in labs. The swabs were found to contain seemingly foreign bacteria that “was not present” during the launch of the ISS.

To be clear, this is not the first time bacteria and tiny micro-animals known as tardigrades have been found in or on things from space. However, if true, this would definitely be the first time we’ve seen any kind of life accumulate and propagate on our equipment that’s in our orbit. If true, this could indicate that bacteria, LIFE, can and DOES survive a space journey and seed a new environment.

That’s the important part here…the potential that this bacteria seeded a successful colony.

This could potentially be a big step in understanding life on our planet. How we got here. How it started. Abiogenesis is a working theory with successful lab results, but it’s a theory that is not without serious explanatory obstacles. It’s complicated, it takes juuuust the right conditions. Maybe it really was as simple as commuters riding in on a cosmic train. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Maybe bacteria from space interacted with the organisms that arose from abiogenesis. It could be a critical corner piece of our very large puzzle.

…or, it could be a lie. You can’t accept one lab’s results. That’s not how science works.

Let’s run with it, though. That’s more fun. Now, if the scientists ARE being honest, there’s a twist in this plot. They gathered the samples and sent them to earth, where Russian scientist are purportedly growing colonies of this space bacteria for study. Scientists say it “seems harmless at this point.”

Let’s mull this one over for a minute. They found space bacteria and are growing it here. On earth. Right now. And it “seems harmless…at this point.”

Seems harmless. At this point.

I don’t know about you, but that statement doesn’t really instill confidence, does it? I believe I’ve played this video game before. It didn’t end well.

Scientists, please use extreme caution. The second it even hints at going awry, kill it. Don’t try to contain the issue. Don’t try to cover it up. Kill it all with fire.

Twice.

And one more ramble before I go play Mario all day in my jammies.

People are decorating for Christmas, a hobby I fully support. The more the merrier. Gussy it up and make it twinkle and I’m in!

However, one neighbor has…hm…how can I put this?

Lost their damn mind.

Picture this: Ranch style house built in the early 80’s. Small lawn, nicely manicured, free of dead leaves and last summer’s crunchy flower stalks. Decorative trees planted to match a new house have grown a bit too large, making the scene slightly awkward, as if a child has placed their Mega Bloc trees around their father’s model train set. Still, they’re kept neat and tidy, and it’s clear the owners are proud of the property.

The display began years ago, with a simple manger scene in the yard and string lights around the side of the house facing the main road. The manger scene was one of those light-up creches. It was a bit on the tacky side but not one of those Disney-themed abominations or anything, so it was well within acceptable standards.

The owners have added since then. Inflatables, which aren’t my personal taste but do pack a punch to a holiday display. There is a cool sleigh scene done in lights on the shrubs to the right, balanced by a waving Santa to the left. More inflatables joined the repertoire last year. It was a bit overboard, in my opinion, but…okay. I still understood what they were going for.

This year, though. *sigh* This year.

Have you seen those laser lights that are all the rage? Sure you have. If you get cable or watch YouTube, you’ve seen the ads. They’re basically balls with little cutouts all over them, and inside are bright lights. You plug them in, turn them on, and they shine a display on your house. Some are just dots, to give a starry effect, while others cast bright shapes, like candy canes or Christmas trees. They are a cheap and easy way to cover the entire side of your house with lights, and those ads are really working. Many folks in the area are using them this year, including the Neighbors of Questionable Taste.

“Bethie, if you just got done saying that many folks are using them, what’s the problem?”

The folks in question have replaced the baby Jesus in their creche scene with one of these contraptions.

“Oh no.”

It gets worse. You can set some of these devices to slowly spin, giving a dynamic display. You know when a dynamic display doesn’t work? When it’s radiating from the baby Jesus.

I think they were going for a “radiating with a holy light” effect. But it’s multi-colored. And rotating. And casts pictures of candy canes all around. Let’s be real here. Mary and Joseph are kneeling at a manger rave, and I don’t think those wise men are bringing myrrh to this party, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Don’t do this, folks. Don’t turn baby Jesus into a club kid. This is not the kind of “lit” you want your Christmas display to be.

Hey, I’m just looking out for you. I do it because I care.

Thus concludes a catching up Musing for Sunday, December 3, 2017. I’m going to not put on real pants or do anything productive today. Kids know how to feed themselves, right? This elf is taking a break. I’m coming for you, Bowser. Time to fire up the Switch.

What we need here is a plan…

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*cringes at squeal of office chair’s rusty wheels*

*picks cobwebs off monitor*

*blows dust out of keyboard*

Mornin’ all.

My day started with a dead body.

My cat got another mouse. She’s a very good mouser, and for some reason, she’s had a ton of opportunity to hone her skills already this year. I don’t think mice have much of a feel for real estate. It’s all about location, location, location, and the mice in this housing development did not consider the fact that we have a cat, and our co-duplexer has three. There are four friggin’ cats in this one little building.

Mice. Not the brightest animals in the natural world.

Anyway, I came down the stairs and the mouse was placed at the bottom, right where I’d step on it if I wasn’t already cautious from the last time I stepped on a cold, dead mouse with my bare feet. Kitty the Ripper was sitting next to the door. See, she knows I throw the corpses outside. She sat there and gave me a look, daring me to try and toss the body of her victim into the overcrowded graveyard known as the Back Bushes.

It got intense for a minute there, I’m not going to lie. She looked very proud of herself, too…until my man walked over and picked her up, nullifying an entire night’s plan with one swoop.

Never brag until you’re sure a giant isn’t going to come along and put you in your place. Just a life lesson for ya.

It’s Halloween today, and for the first time in almost 20 years, I’m not taking anyone trick-or-treating. Little Pup decided he doesn’t want to do it anymore. He said, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to sit on the couch with my own sack of candy and not be competition for the little kids.” I made certain he was sure of this decision. Honestly, I think I wanted him to go last year far more than he wanted to.

No more trick-or-treaters. *sniff*

I’m thinking of getting a bunch of candy and stashing it around the house with riddles as clues that he’ll have to solve to get the bounty. I don’t know. Is that still childish? Will he feel like I’m still babying him? It’s hard for me to tell. I am extremely immature. Surely even the youngest in the group has clued into that fact by now and will expect nothing less. Hm. I’ll consider through the day.

Guess what finally happened to me? I got called to jury duty!

“Bethie, you sound excited.”

I am!

“But…it’s…jury duty.”

Look, I’m 39. I’ve never been called to jury duty before, and, frankly, I *am* excited! I am dying to know what it’s really like.

“It’s boring as shit. That’s what it’s like.”

Maybe. But even that’s a story, right?

The timing is putting a bit of a cramp on my jubilee, though. We have a clusterfuck in the bakery at the moment, and we’re losing a key member of our team the week before I head to the hallowed halls of justice. And it’s right before Thanksgiving, the number one busiest week for a bakery. Any other week of the year, I’d be crossing my fingers that I’d be picked for a full trial. I’d love to participate completely in the justice process, I really would.

Stop rolling your eyes. I’m not kidding. It’s one of the processes in this nation that makes us great, and I’d honestly like to be part of something so important. And I will, too. If I’m selected, I’ll do my best to give my full attention to the trial. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t torn by the pressures of the other parts of my life.

Speaking of the other parts of my life, at work the other day, this coworker was a total…

………

“…you okay, Bethie? Stroking out over there? Did the swill you call coffee finally get to you? Do I need to call someone?”

I just remembered I have a stalker. A work stalker, who reads this blog as a lurker. Hi, Lurker. I guess I can’t really shit talk the folks I work with if one of them is creeping.

See, I suck at self promotion. I mean, I’m utter SHIT at it. What I *should* do is tell all my coworkers about not only this blog, but my books, too. You know. Make some sales. I should hand out flyers. Or…business cards? Do people still use those?

Bah, you get the gist. I should be yappin’ my trap about all of it in an effort to create a movement. Or something.

I just want to keep work separate. Does that make sense? I want to be able to come onto the internet and blab and blah and bitch and moan and be as stupid and immature as I want and not see a knowing look in my coworkers’ eyes after I do so.

“Then maybe you should have written under a pseudonym.”

That would have taken a level of foresight that I just don’t possess. Look at my life. Does it seem like I have ever demonstrated the ability to apply careful consideration to anything?? HMMM?!?!?

Besides, I’m not ashamed of anything I write. I’m not. I just want to go to work and make cakes and be bossy in real life, and keep that separate from being on the internet, where I talk about making cakes and being bossy. Makes perfect sense to me.

Maybe I could talk about my coworkers in a way that won’t betray their identities? Let’s give it a go.

Yesterday at work, I was trying to…uh…get coworker X to learn to make…um…stuff…

Shit. This isn’t going to work, guys. It’s a small department. Anything I say would be enough info for the Lurker to put two and two together.

The thing is, this story is more about me than the coworker, really. Okay, I think I’ll just go with this.

Yesterday at work, I lost my patience. I’ll talk a big game and vent here, but in real life, I’ve gotten to where it’s actually quite difficult to get me truly angry. Raising a passel of kids will do that.

…well, that or break you. You either learn patience, or you go insane. Since I already was insane, I learned patience. I will let it all heap up on me and, for the most part, I take life’s shit in stride.

Once in awhile, though, the wrong personality comes along and just presses the right button. And that happened yesterday at work. I’m not at all happy about it. I generally keep my cool way past the point where everyone else has blown their tops.

It was excuses instead of acknowledgment. That’s what did it. I was attempting to show someone a task, they didn’t listen, then spent an hour asking me for instructions every step of the way…on a task they’d already done four times before. It’s not like I was showing this person something for the first time. They just didn’t pay attention, or didn’t care enough to try. The final straw was when I noticed they missed out on a crucial part and asked them if they had done it. “Yep,” they insisted.

“Nope” was the correct answer.

I prodded. “Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

I was looking at the thing that was not done. I said point blank, “So you put *blah* into the *yadda*?”

“Yes.”

I picked up the *blah* that was not, in fact, added to the *yadda*. Instead of a “Whoopsie, my b,” they actually said, “Oh, you didn’t say to put the *blah* into the *yadda*.”

That was it, folks. That was the point of Bethie getting legitimately pissed at a coworker. They had wasted not only their hour, but mine as well. And instead of just owning the mistake, tried to put it on me.

I. Hate. That.

Look, if you screw up, that’s called being human. EVERYONE DOES IT. Acknowledge the error, take responsibility, examine where you turned left instead of right, then do your best not to repeat the mistake. However, if you screw up and then blame someone else, that’s called being an asshole. If you don’t take the time to recognize where you’re screwing up, you will continue to screw up. You will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. You will not grow as a person. You will always be that coworker that pisses everyone else off.

I have today off. I am forming a plan for tomorrow. I have to adjust MY attitude now, because I am not at all happy that I got angry. That doesn’t do any good, either, especially since when I’m angry, I pretty much just shut down. I’m supposed to be teaching this person, and I can’t do that when I let my emotions get the best of me.

I’ve got to namaste the hell out of this shit.

So today when I clean the house, I need to decide how immature I’m being for Halloween shenanigans with the Little Pup, while simultaneously mulling over how I am going to go about being more mature at work tomorrow.

I had a dream about opening a specialty roast shop last night. Like, a store that just sells fancy meat roasts. Beef, pork, goose… My man was the delivery guy. We had a planning session on how to meet demand for Thanksgiving.

NO JOKE. Straight up, that was what I dreamt about last night. In painstaking detail.

Now, does this seem like the kind of mind that can balance these two conundrums in the same day?

Guess we’ll find out.

Thus concludes a musing for Halloween ’17. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!

I wish I could learn the binary sequence for upgrading my coffee making skills…

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Mornin’ all.

I had to take Teen Prime into work for 5 am today. We had an epic jam session in the car (some old school Green Day) while zipping through fog so thick it had a taste. I dropped him off, then solo jammed my way home and almost hit a bobcat on the back road I take to avoid the damned rotary.

Almost hitting a bobcat in the middle of some of the thickest fog I’ve ever driven through while singing “Basket Case” at 5:03 am in 70 degree weather at the end of September left me with an odd feeling.

You ever have a moment where you’re absolutely certain the programming glitched?

“Oh no, Bethie. Not this Matrix bullshit.”

Here’s your uncomfortable thought for the day:

There is absolutely no way for us to ever be certain that we are not just a computer simulation. Any test we could devise to determine if we are more than careful programming would fall within the parameters of the coding. Everything we see, feel, think, touch, taste, hear…it could all be an advanced computer sim and we would never ever know. Ever.

And it’s deeper than the Matrix theory. At least in the movies, the people hooked up to the machines which fed them their “reality” actually had physical bodies. There was always a chance that the human body would reject the machine, that they could break free. But if we are actually coding, if we’re just a simulation, then we don’t HAVE human bodies. We don’t have anything but carefully constructed sequences of ones and zeroes. Our “bodies” absolutely CANNOT reject the coding. There would be no way at all for us to break free.

If we are a computer simulation, we will never, ever know it.

Mull THAT one over.

*sips coffee*

“Bethie, you’re in a weird mood this morning.”

I am. It’s been a weird morning so far. It wasn’t just the car ride. When I got up, I noticed that my cat had dragged an empty soda box out of the recycling and had it set up by her food to lounge on. She got more plastic bags out of the cupboard (she has a thing for plastic bags…I don’t judge) and they are over and around the food and the box.

Guys. In the night, my cat decorated. She set up a sofa and has displayed her plastic bags. She made herself a freakin’ living room. Of COURSE I’m in a weird mood.

We should all be in a weird mood. Life is very weird in general at the moment, isn’t it? It was 88 degrees yesterday at the end of September. Supposed to be hot again today. It’s hotter right now than almost any day we had during the summer. I’ve got pumpkin spice everything at the bakery and no one wants it because who the hell wants pumpkin spice when it’s 88 degrees?? We should be in sweaters rolling our eyes at the leaf peepers up from Connecticut while we pretend to like our pumpkin spice coffees in an effort to drown out the internal panic at the thought of the impending winter.

I’ll happily take the heat wave, though. I’m only mildly bitching for comedic purposes. It’s absolutely nothing like the poor folks dealing with the earth’s other problems at the moment. Hurricanes and earth quakes and wild fires and floods… I cannot imagine the absolute horror they’re dealing with in Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Barbuda, Texas, Florida, Mexico… The earth is a hot mess right now.

Should we even bother to talk about politics? The term “shit show” doesn’t even come close to describing the current state of affairs. Trump is an even worse pres than I thought he’d be. He taunts an insane nuke-wielding despot one day, then turns around and berates American citizens for exercising their right to peacefully protest the next. Which do you think he put more emphasis on? It’s disgusting.

We’re not alone, though. Everyone seems to be losing their damn minds. If you follow international politics at all, you will never see a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. If Trump doesn’t start WWIII, someone else will.

Maybe our programming got a virus and is attempting to revert to factory settings?

Trump should shut up. Plain and simple. Shut the hell up. Let Americans peacefully protest whenever the hell they feel like it because THAT is what the soldiers ACTUALLY fought and died for. Stop taunting an insane child with nuclear toys. Stop threatening members of the House and Senate if they don’t vote your way.

Just.

Shut.

Up.

We should start taking care of the earth. It’s the only rock that’ll support our fragile asses and we should probably do more to keep our house clean.

We should stop politicizing natural disasters and just help. That’s it. Just help the people who need help. Don’t do it for Facebook likes, or to make your corporation look good, or get a tax write off. Don’t make it about immigration when you offer to house those who have lost every single thing they had. Don’t campaign on the backs of people who are at the lowest point in their lives. Just help. Take the enormous resources we have as a nation and help for no other reason than it being the right and just thing to do. Help. As simple as that.

Look, folks. Even if this is all just a simulation, it’s our shared reality, the only one we know, and our actions clearly have an effect. Even if we’re programmed, we’re programmed in such a way that the things we do and say make a difference, good or bad. Don’t you want whatever reality you experience to be as good as possible?

Gah. I don’t want to be in a doomy gloomy mood. I want to enjoy my day off. I want to have to remind myself not to throw the ridiculously priced Switch controller while I try to work my way through Breath of the Wild. I want to chill and relax and make the most of a lazy day.

Like this:

zelda

See? I wasn’t kidding. She set herself up some furniture. She’s surrounded herself with her favorite things. You can’t tell in the photo, because I didn’t dare disturb Her Majesty when she’s relaxing on her throne, but under the bags she’s placed a rubber band, a penny, and two bread ties, her favorite things to play with. No matter what else is going on around her, she has created for herself a calming, relaxing life.

I want to be like kitty. We should all be like kitty. Will it help in the long run? No. But it gives us a good break so we can regroup in the meantime.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Tuesday, September 26, 2017. I’ve charged the controller and pointed the a/c at the couch. Bring it, Calamity Ganon.

It’s about to get patriotic up in here…

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Mornin’ all.

I’m going to warn you in advance…today’s Musing will contain above average levels of both patriotism and sap.

“Hm. How much sap?”

Think Hallmark card written in cursive.

“Damn.”

That’s why I thought it was only fair to warn you. I’ll take no offense if you would prefer not to read about how great the United States of America is.

But, I think now more than ever is the time to really reflect on the fateful decision a bunch of fed up, over worked, over taxed farmers made to band together to kick the Redcoats the hell outta here and take control of what was then- and still is today- our responsibility.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Ours. No one else’s.

Have you read the Declaration of Independence? I think everyone is fairly familiar with the first paragraph and first sentence of the second. They’re pretty powerful.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.–

Even if you didn’t know the full bit, you’ve seen most of the preamble and start of the second paragraph on various Facebook memes. And why not? That’s some good and powerful writing, and boy did they know how to work up a crowd, eh?

But, do you really know what comes next? Because in all honesty, what comes next is SO much better. It’s a bit frilly, though, and muddled in old timey-ness. Maybe that’s why people overlook it.

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

I’d like to think they sent good king George a pot of aloe to ease those sick burns.

My favorite segment, pared down a bit to cut out the somewhat unnecessary frippery, is the line, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism…”

They just called their king an absolute despot. Consider the era. No one- NO ONE- called the king of Great Britain names in a public forum. It just didn’t happen. It wasn’t done. Not without the serious risk of head loss.

“…it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government…”

Coups happen. They’ve been done throughout human history. When Ugh got too big for his loin cloth, Egh rounded up the other cavemen and kicked his ass outta the top spot. So a rebellion was nothing new. But goddamn did they do it with flair.

And you also have to remember that at this point in time, we relied on Great Britain for a whole lot. They were our economy. Our military. Our lawmakers. Our back up plan in case the still largely untested New World didn’t pan out in the long run.

“Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies… To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

The main goal of the Declaration of Independence was to establish the United States of America as its own nation in every respect, especially in terms of global trade. We would need to be able to make our own deals, and until we were firmly established as our own nation, that wouldn’t happen.

Congress was smart enough to realize that if they only sent a copy of the Declaration to the king, nothing would change. The king would laugh, raise the stamp tax to teach the plebs a lesson, and continue to wallow in excess on the backs of his subjects. The demands would basically be swept under the rug.

To solidify resolve and prove just how serious we were, our congress sent copies of this document EVERYWHERE. Which makes this next part so damn good when you think about it. They proceeded to air the king’s dirty laundry. And they didn’t hold back.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Wikileaks, 1776.

No, really. That’s what it was. An open tattling to all the other countries. Blowing the whistle. Revealing the wolf under the sheep’s clothing.

And it worked, but not really because of the “injustices” on the list. It wasn’t as if the leaders of other nations would look at the perceived offenses and find them all that unreasonable. The rulers would have looked at the list and said, “Yeah, seems about right. He’s a king and you are peasants. Duh.”

It wasn’t the king’s offenses that got other nations excited. It was simply the fact that peasants would dare publicly rebuke their king in such a bold and uninhibited manner. It said we were serious. There was no going back. Our congress chose this path and we were fully committed. That idea was what got other nations so excited.

The idea of a new trade partner that wasn’t England was appealing to them. Most of the world didn’t like Great Britain at that point. GB had spent the better part of a few hundred years plundering and conquering and warring. Most trade deals with Great Britain were the equivalent of a kid giving his lunch money every week to the class bully so the dude wouldn’t beat the snot out of them. Other nations wanted the things Great Britain could get, and they grudgingly got in bed with the enemy to make it happen.

Then along came the colonies.

Imagine being a foreign leader at the time who heard about a document just absolutely shredding the asshole you have to work with but totally hate. Nothing could have rallied the other nations of the world against Great Britain like the Declaration of Independence. Talk about a smear campaign!

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

Here’s a clever bit. Congress laid out the king’s offenses, then turned it around and said, “Hey, we tried to work with you, fam, but you just have zero chill.”

“A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

I’m guessing that when the rulers of other nations read the document to their rapt courts, this is the point where people put their fists to their mouths and said, “Oooohhhh I do believe the king hath been served.”

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Is it a perfect document? No. I don’t think such a thing exists. Times change. Attitudes become refined. Knowledge gives humanity a different outlook and the ethos of a society morphs with that new information. All you have to do is look at the last item on the list of grievances to understand this. “Indian Savages?” *cringe*

But you know what? It’s a pretty damn good way to start a nation.

And now, more than ever, I think we ALL need to read it. Understand it. Reflect on the meaning. I’m not calling for war. I don’t think we’ll get anywhere if we grab our pitchforks and storm the White House. Or Senate. Or the House of Representatives. Or whoever it is that you particularly hate or blame for the current state of our nation. I don’t think we need muskets to fix our problems.

I think we need to remember where we came from, though. I think we need to spend a bit of today not ignoring the problems, but embracing the idea that WE CAN FIX THIS.

We’ve done it before. We can certainly do it again.

And it’s worth doing! It’s worth the work. I’m sitting here telling you that I’m all for a political coup…

*I can’t stress this enough, I’m for a POLITICAL coup, not physical. I’m not advocating militias. I don’t think we need them, at least not yet.*

…and nothing bad is going to happen to me. I’ll say it right here. I don’t like the dude in the White House. I don’t like looking at his orange face. I don’t like watching his flap of hair waft in the breeze. I cringe at the words that tumble from his drooling maw.

And there’s nothing he can do to me for saying that.

I’m not going to be decapitated. I won’t be incarcerated until I release a statement saying good things about Honorable Leader. My family won’t be evicted from our home. I won’t be fired.

I don’t like him. And you know what? I’ve got a looooong list of “do not likes” from BOTH political parties. I’m overall pretty moderate, which means right now, I’m an equal opportunity shunner. I am disappointed in everyone in charge.

And, I’m very disappointed in us for putting them there. And keeping them there. And paying the fees to make sure they don’t beat the snot out of us instead of putting them in their place.

I love this country. I honestly would not live anywhere else. I just want us to think about what the Founding Fathers did, and maybe embrace our roots going forward. They weren’t perfect. I’m not even trying to claim they were. Hell, on a personal level, I probably wouldn’t have liked a single one of them. They certainly wouldn’t have liked ME!

But you don’t need to be perfect to have a good idea. You don’t need to be perfect to fight for something larger than yourself. You don’t need to be perfect to put yourself on the line to change things for the better.

And you don’t need to live in a perfect nation to love it.

Thus concludes my Patriotic Musing for Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Everyone have a SAFE and happy holiday. The Founding Fathers would be very disappointed in you if you drink and drive. Don’t make Ben Franklin sad.