One thousand ninety-five

That number theoretically represents the number of meals, 3 times each day, which a person prepares in a year.

Of course, I don’t.

I bet you don’t either.  But, IF we did!!!—whew!  That’s a lot of meal planning, preparation and cleaning up, isn’t it?

“You’re annoying with your numbers,” Jabberwocky said, continuing “What’s for dinner, anyway?”

Jabber, you really don’t get it do you?  If it were not for imagination, which is YOU, and actual work, which around here is ME, there would not BE any meal preparation.  Cleaning up is The Man Who Lives Here’s domain.  Sometimes.

So, we have the work split up three ways, now, don’t we?

Keep me out of this!”

Often, I do, so don’t worry about that.  Most of the time it is whatever I have on hand and whether or not I feel like cooking.  Doesn’t require Jabberwockies.

What’s for dinner tonight is:

Tossed salad.

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Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes, shredded carrots, capers, small chunks of smoked cheddar, blue cheese.

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Hamburgers, grilled out on the grill, stuffed with cheese and topped with tomatoes, lettuce and sliced onions.  (No onions for The Man Who Lives Here.)

Potato skins, saved and frozen from when I made all those 10 lbs of twice-baked potatoes.  I’ll top them with shredded cheese, salt and pepper and then serve with some sour cream. 

For Dessert:

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Grilled mangos—sliced and peeled, of course, first, on vanilla ice cream.  All sprinkled with a little cinnamon sugar.

“I’ve never had grilled mangos.”

Neither have I, so it will be a new experience.

And this seems about right for dinner:

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And I think we’ll dine outside for a change.

“Picknicky isn’t it?” said Jabberwocky.  “What are you going to feed the ants?  And, for that matter, DOG?”

The ants will fend for themselves and DOG will likely have some hamburger—she always does, you know.  Which is why DOG is Happy.

I’m not sure about Jabberwockies.

 

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Dreams and Schemes

What PollyAnna actually looks like:

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What PollyAnna dreams of looking like:

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TEENAGERS!

Hydrangea report

A friend had a huge garden of white hydrangeas.  She gave me a plant, just one, years ago.  They have done well.  Four years ago I transplanted the plant, which had grown quite large and had multiple stalks, from one side of the house to the other, separating the stalks.  They have thrived there (the northeast side of the house).  I left one stalk on the other side, and it also has done well.  These are, I believe, Annabell Hydrangeas.

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“Security” is keeping the perimeter of the house safe.  This is the one lone plant, above, which is loaded with blooms this year.

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Northeast side of the house has multiple plants.  They are quite beautiful.

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Bumblebees were buzzing and enjoying the blossoms this morning.

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I think of my friend who has moved to another state when I see my hydrangeas,.  I miss her!  But I am reminded of her when the hydrangeas bloom.

When the blossoms completely turn from white to lime green, it is time to pick them.  I like to just stand them in a vase, without water, and let them dry or hang them upside down, tied with twine, so the blooms are separated to dry.  They will dry and fade slightly to a light lime green.  One can spray paint them, which I sometimes do, so they can be any color I wish. 

And then…………they will appear on a Christmas tree as ‘filler’!   Or, one can use them in dried arrangements.   And they CAN be kept from year-to-year if handled carefully.

One can also leave them on the stalks outside where they will eventually turn brown, but still very pretty to see.

 

Birthday Party

Grandson turned 10 on Monday and in his honor, there was a pool party!

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Here is the setting:

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His sister and a friend are enjoying ice cream and cake.

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So is his father……….

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His Mom dished it all up!

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Neighbors joined in the fun—party favors!

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A nice photo of his Mom, below:

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Surveying what remains:

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDSON!

Rainbow!

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Last night, after the storm!

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” Pogo

The other night I watched a movie on HBO about Hemingway and Gellhorn, his third wife. The movie presents many black/white images and film footage of the skirmishes/war (in Spain) and events leading up to WWII as well as very disturbing film footage of concentration camps. It was riveting.

I had, frankly, forgotten much about the era. I was shocked at myself! The epic struggle in Spain, long forgotten, as a prelude to the eventual WWII disaster was a central part of the movie, especially at the beginning.  (During that time, it was hard to distinguish one faction from another, often individuals changed allegiance, depending upon the topic, there were great political passions,  and the ultimate result was a disaster.)

The movie got me to thinking, and then I had a ‘flash’ of a vision of what our times might look like to future generations—if, indeed, our times don’t go down the memory rabbit hole (as the Spanish Civil War has, to our present day people)–and of the possible future for our world, for our country. I hope it is not true. I have to say, however, a lot of it is already present, today.

This is a STORY, a dark story—fiction—and I do not mean it to be particularly pro or anti any political party or any particular issue. It is, more or less, a warning about unintended consequences, badly directed dreams and desires—and those two words, ‘unintended consequences,’ have been haunting me, of late. I’m certain that I, as a resident of this country and culture, in this era, have been influenced by movies, news, websites, books, articles and general opinions, so perhaps this is more or less the nightmarish conclusion my own brain has mish-mashed into what might occur. This particular story has shades of Orwell, The Lottery, and Soylent Green.  But…….. similarities to anything already published or movies made, etc., etc. is truly a coincidence. I awoke thinking these imagines this morning.

The story leaves many questions unanswered and I don’t have the answers to those questions.  I hope it gets you to thinking.

The setting is 30 years from now……and an old woman is looking back. She is, of course, me (if I live that long, which is also doubtful!).

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She shook her head in amazement, wonderment really, at the world today and muttered silently to herself.  She was careful to have her back turned to the big screen so that what she muttered could not be lip-read by it.  She knew, however, that likely even her thoughts were being monitored.  And they were, in a way, dangerous thoughts.

There were no wars they knew about any longer, people around her ate well and slept well, doing repetitive jobs, but seemingly enjoying their lives when they were finished with work. Wars had been eons ago, back in the unenlightened times, when people needed more land or power and slaves to do the labor. At least where she lived this was true. Why, even she, at 90 plus years of age, had her own occupation—that of tracking her roommates’ conversations, interests and activities. Of course, they were all elderly, so most of this was easy to record and predictable. Still, for the Corporation, it was important to know that everyone in the community was doing his or her part to keep it going, happy and safe.  She knew that as long as she provided the ideal image of an elderly, kindly woman who was doing her part for the Corporation, she’d be allowed to survive.

Today, machines, operated by just a few, were able to grow and harvest almost all the food supply in the large corporate owned states, while only a few humans were required to operate the machinery. Robots had taken over the difficult, menial jobs which people used to do, from plowing to planting to irrigation to harvest to production of pre-packaged, appropriately allotted meals, to distribution. The only exception were the hard to pick products, but no longer were there many of these to harvest. Fresh fruits and vegetables were, more or less, a thing of the past since the environment had become so cold during the winters and so hot and dry during the summers. This was true throughout most of the world, and so in order to feed the many citizens, only the basics, which were genetically engineered, could withstand the weather and which could be harvested by machine were cultivated. Chemical additives were included in all meals, so that humans received the necessary nutritional elements daily.

Each person was allowed his or her appropriate calories per day and all were fed at the cafeteria, not at all like what she recalled from earlier times. This cafeteria was run entirely by robots, with only one or two women in charge of pushing the appropriate buttons or turning on and off the switches to make the robots operate. One simply showed one’s ID, implanted on one’s wrist, and the appropriate amount of each type of food was placed upon the plate. It was then labeled and packaged so that only the correct citizen could open and consume his or her appropriate food. There were many such cafeterias located every few blocks so that one did not have to walk very far to obtain one’s meal. If one was unable to go the distance from one of the corporate owned rooms where each family stayed, food was delivered by a corporate runner. The small rooms were monitored by the big screen TV (which was turned on at 7 a.m. and ran until 1 the next morning, allowing the allotted 6 hours of sleep per night per residence), the runners knew when a person was unable to get to the cafeteria and he or she was put on the schedule for meal delivery. It was a nice service, and free, and she herself had occasionally taken advantage of the service when her arthritis was especially uncomfortable.

During the quiet 6 hours when the incessant propaganda was turned off, a quiet monitor kept watch over the inhabitants, taking their blood pressures, temperatures, looking for signs of any of the myriad diseases which might cause an epidemic. If anyone was symptomatic, he or she was automatically scanned, top to bottom, for any other signs of impending illness and, if these signs were present, an unmarked ambulance might arrive in the middle of the night to whisk the ill person off to be treated. In some cases, the very elderly or the very ill never returned, and reports were made back to the families of their demise, with appropriate sympathy from the Corporation. This also occurred with individuals who were deemed, by the Corporation, unfit to inhabit the community. There were no legal means by which to deny or argue such a ruling. The individual simply disappeared. It might have been that the person, a child even, was exhibiting gender-inappropriate behavior, or was too sexual in his or her thoughts or actions, or rebellious, or, of course, was mentally challenged or disturbed. Everyone knew that politics, whatever that meant, was off-limits for discussion. The ‘eye in the sky’, once a popular song when she was a young woman, had become the ‘all-see-er’ and as such, could determine, even before the individual knew he was doing something inappropriate, what the person’s fate would likely be.

It was a system which kept everyone (who was left) safe. Security had become the big issue during the early part of the 21st century, after the infamous 9/11 attack which was kept fresh in the minds of all inhabitants by weekly docudramas telling the life stories of many of the heroes and outlining the evils of any religion other than the state-condoned religion, codified into law during the 2020’s.

She, herself, had taken great interest in that event and had done research on the computer decades ago to see what others were saying, what evidence was presented, what had happened. One by one, the websites where the research and first-hand accounts were posted went ‘dark.’ As she knew, repeat something enough, and it becomes reality—and the truth for most. No one, now, recalled the strange series of events leading up to that event and how they were so coincidental.

It was during that decade, as well, that the outdated ideas of accumulating personal wealth or pursuing personal accomplishments had begun to fade and finally disappear altogether for the majority–except for the small communities established outside the big cities and, of course, the very rich. The public was told that opportunities were less and less, jobs were hard to obtain, higher education became so expensive as to be out of reach for most of the citizens, children were taught facts deemed appropriate by the Corporation and tested to ensure they had retained those facts. Intellectual discussions were things of the past—philosophy, historical perspectives, alternative opinions of any sort were not tolerated. Meanwhile, the Corporations became engorged with money—taxpayer money, money from financial schemes and interest rates charged which could completely eliminate a person’s assets—and with that money they were able to buy the politicians who were then selected for their agreeableness to the corporations’ agendas. Voting became a ritual for almost everyone—do you wish to have A or B? Either choice was, ultimately, not going to make much difference. But the public still cheered for their ‘chosen candidate’ as though it did.

And there were other methods employed by talented operatives of both the major parties—votes would disappear or be counted not at all; eligible voters would suddenly find themselves ineligible; decisions would be made by Courts rather than the election results. She had begun to see what was happening, even back then, and she had been fearful for her country’s future.

Small communities, outside the cocoon of safety provided by the large ones, composed of the stubborn and independent often operated at a subsistence level, and often the inhabitants went hungry. They also had no health care access and no protection from the many threats of modern-day life. Their votes seldom counted on the national level, if they bothered to vote at all. Subsistence became the rule of the day for these small, rural communities, and they found they could operate on that level, so long as they were not attacked by the terrorists. But they were attacked, often repeatedly, by unknown drones flying above. This eliminated much of the rural population, leaving only a few who were able to escape in one way or another to practice the old-time ways.

(Unbeknownst to most citizens, the Corporation, in its wisdom, had known what was needed and prepared for the future, building large and secure safety areas for the remaining compliant and frightened population and slowly, but surely, had been able to convince the citizenry to populate them willingly. This large project had begun during the early part of the 2000’s and culminated successfully, eventually, during the 2020’s.)

Most rural inhabitants of those communities had chosen to come into the safety and security of the larger areas. The Great Famine during the Second Die-Off had made believers of most, having seen their friends and relatives die from starvation, illness and, of course, terrorist attacks. There was food, shelter, free medical care, and a job assignment for everyone in the Corporate Communities. They were given a room with enough beds for their family members, a large screen TV, and computer for continuing education. In the case of children just learning, there were the pre-programmed classroom instruction on the computer so that education was truly equalized. No one child was singled out just because he or she had a talent or a higher intelligence. All were given the same instruction and education, based upon age. There were no books to read as those had been completely done away with after everything ever written had been loaded onto the big computer at Headquarters. No need for libraries now.

Of course, one had to have permission to obtain literature on the computer and read it—and this could only be done after the children were done with their classes for the day, and so access was available to the adults between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m. only.

There was no longer a need to cook, bake or even decorate for holidays, although certain holidays were deemed necessary to provide a certain amount of ‘joy’ for the citizenry. This was all done by the Corporation which had defined what was appropriate and not appropriate for each occasion. Every small family unit—as it had been legally decided years ago that there would be only one child per household and that no one could live alone (older singles were paired with same-sex individuals, three to four to a unit)—had the exact same decorations for every holiday. Food was, of course, the same for everyone, as were the furnishings and décor in each and every unit, so that personal tastes or desire never entered into the equation. What used to be called creativity was allowed only in appropriate activities, for example, the colors chosen for holiday decorations or the color of the food presented for a meal. Music was available on the big screen TV and it was played every day at designated times.

Still, there was a great variety of foods given out. On Sundays, a large simulated roasted chicken would be served, along with the faux mashed potatoes and faux green beans. This was the best meal of the week. Generally, food was molded to look like what she recalled as scrambled eggs or bacon or even lettuce, but it was, of course, manufactured and prepackaged so that no one was really certain of what it was.

The packaging, however, told the calorie content, the percentages of fat, protein and carbohydrates, so that one knew what one was consuming. Since there was no other option available, one ate it regardless of its tasteless, questionable consistency.

It was food. It was reliable. And it was free and appropriately allocated to each individual. For this reason, there were none who were overweight or underweight. This, too, had been decided once the technology was put into place and the cost reduced to the appropriate levels per person. The Corporation had changed the law so that small grocers no longer could sell food, leaving them only junk food, now priced beyond what anyone in the community could afford, and marketed as ‘deadly to your health’, a required label on all junk food packaging. Junk food, of course, was any food or edible or drink which was not issued by the Corporation. Mostly it came from those rural communities, required to be taxed at such rates as to make it unavailable to the larger community.

As far as employment, everyone worked for the Corporation—what used to be called ‘government jobs’ were now the only employment available. Mostly it involved maintenance of the larger property, sewing garments for the community at large, monitoring the scanners which kept everyone healthy, or working at the factories which produced the meals or the necessary items for daily life. Each employee was paid the same amount and allowed to spend his income as he saw fit—usually at the Corporate Mall where choices were limited, but appropriate. There was no need to save for anything. From cradle to grave, one was cared for by the Corporation. There was also very little extra income to save, and even if one did, there were very few options on spending. Private individual ownership was a thing of the past. The Corporation owned everything now.

There was entertainment—movies, approved by the Corporation, various types of virtual video games, sports such as tennis, volleyball, baseball, and football, although the football was now allowed only as a virtual video game simulation, no actual contact. Actual football was played on TV, and only the largest males were chosen, every year, to participate in various ‘teams’ for which one could cheer. There were no longer any stadiums as those had proven to be too easy a target for the unknown terrorists, and so people would gather at the community indoor parks, no more than 200 per park, to watch the game on the big screen TV, and to root for their various teams. During the final playoff events, the Corporation provided extra food, simulated to look like popcorn, hot dogs and peanuts, along with chemical drinks, mixed to look like what she’d known as ‘soft drinks’ in her youth. One could spend one’s earnings there, to obtain the treats and enjoy the camaraderie with other residents.

Such events were held periodically—for football, for the community physical activity games and competitions, for any physical activity at all. There were also the mandatory Sunday groupings where everyone was required to attend at 8, 10 or 4 and listen to a speaker on the same big TV screen who reiterated what they believed and held to be true. One was required to go through a certain ritual to prove one’s belief, as well, followed by a donation, mandated by law.

Marriage was required of every adult who reached the age of 25. It required one man, one woman, and they were joined, legally, for life. Divorce was not an option as it had been outlawed. After one healthy child was produced (genetically engineered), the woman was sterilized within the month. (In the event the child was not healthy, it was immediately destroyed. The couple would be allowed two attempts to produce a living, healthy child. After that, no more.) That was the rule, one woman, one child, one marriage. If a spouse died, and was under the age of 50, the remaining spouse was united in marriage to another of the opposite sex precisely one year following the death of the original spouse. The union was arranged by the Corporation in the event the individual was unable to find another mate. Those who were spouseless at the age of 50 or older were required to move in with three other persons of the same sex. There were no options. This was considered very humane treatment for the citizens—they were always surrounded by someone who cared for them, on a personal level—and someone who would report any deviant behavior to the Corporation. It was comforting, really, to think that, in one’s old age or widowhood, one would find companionship. The young had no objections as they enjoyed the legality of having sex with a partner, and because pornographic films, magazines, and any indications of such were prohibited, the youth generally were pleased with an arrangement where some physical needs were met.

Personal ownership of automobiles had been outlawed in the 2020’s as well when the cost to operate them, the cost of repair for the roads, bridges and highways became too expensive and individuals no longer could afford to pay the tolls or the gas or the electricity to run the vehicles. This was after the Second Die Off of the teens (2010 to 2019) which had run for about ten years. It had taken that long for it to be all sorted out, for the new rules to be implemented, for the great Die Off to occur and for the additional terrorist attacks to strike complete terror into the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

The population had declined significantly during those ten years, old institutions had become suspect, such as universities, and finally disappeared, people wanted security above any other value. And, with that desire for security, they were willing to give up any semblance of personal choice, rule of law, or even dreams for the future.

There was only today. And food. And shelter. And security: To feel secure about those basic things as well as secure from terrorists attacks, old age, illness. The Corporations had made all this possible. Individuals and groups gave up their homes, their businesses, their farms, their money, what was left of that, their personal ambitions and their children’s education in order to obtain security. Sometimes, though less often now that everything was run by computer, they gave up their children to the on-going foreign-war effort. They heard nothing about it and the children sent to such a war never returned and were never heard from again, so no reports were ever brought back to the communities. They’d been told that war was a thing of the past—indeed, the old saying that “war is peace” which had become the norm during the Die Off era, was completely replaced by the saying, “what we don’t know won’t hurt us” and so there was no need for any reporting on the news from so far away.

Besides, there were the ‘others’ who were no longer of any importance. They were not to even be considered—it was, of course, us against them. And that was very well established and accepted. Some of the ‘others’ were trying to survive, alone, or in small clusters in the vast deserts which composed most of the present land mass remaining, once known as North America, but everyone knew they could not do so for long. When captured, they were immediately eliminated, or sent far away to where the fronts of various wars were being held—at least that was the rumor. No one knew for certain.

And there was the great divide between the rich, who still lived as she recalled she had lived, back in the late part of the 1900’s and into the early part of the 2000’s………..and the rich had everything, including freedom to travel to the most dangerous parts of the world on private planes, although no one understood why they would. But they were different, just as she’d always been told—the rich are different. They were entitled to what they had earned by helping the larger community  providing such security–and so long as the rest were contained. Besides, there were no longer any reports about how they lived, what they had, what they did. They were unknown individuals, well insulated from any difficulties of this life.  The masses were grateful that the rich allowed them to survive at all.  They knew the Corporation was being generous and compassionate.  For these reasons, there was no rebellion.  No one was allowed to even consider rebellion or think it.

Indeed.

The masses who lived in the cities, huddled in their small rooms, and who were grateful to survive never gave a thought to their lot in life. They were secure. They were content. They were uneducated, now, all of them, and they’d forgotten what their ancestors had once learned through great effort.

No one was left on her particular block who could recall the old days–except her. She was the only one who remembered……………she was very old…..and the ambulance might come any night now.

But she remembered and she wished she had spoken out, to warn people, at least her friends, her relatives. Be careful what you wish for! Be ever watchful!

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.  Benjamin Franklin

It was impossible, now, to convince anyone of that.

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Obvious questions:

1.  Why were these masses of people being kept alive?  For what purpose?

2.  How had they gotten to this point?

3.  What is the definition of freedom? 

4.  Is war inevitable for humanity?

I do not know.

Hidden Garden Tour

Friends Serious Leigh and Baker have other talents!  Here is their lovely garden, hidden behind their home, which I was privileged to visit this afternoon.

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At the front door, a hint of what is to come (above)….

 

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At the back door, one steps out onto the patio—take a look around!

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So charming and beautiful!  Thank you, Serious Leigh—seriously! 

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