Quarantine, hiatus, wishing you well

Heigh-ho, bored WordPress beachcombers and junk-pickers.

Extraordinary times, these. I hope you’re maintaining health, sanity, and some sense of normalcy. Or finding new ways to cope. “The Manager” and “The Residents” are fine; having the kind of job that permits working from home at more-or-less maximum capacity is a tremendous privilege. I’m grateful for it. At the same time, thinking about so many people losing so much, so suddenly, and experiencing so much grief and uncertainty keeps me awake nights.

Not that I’ve essayed much in the past several years, but I wanted to say that me, writing, is 100% unimportant—less important than ever before—to anyone on this planet right now. Are you reading wisdom from real writers with transcendent observations and genuine expertise in their fields these days? If not, I pray you will. If you are, you’ll see how superfluous the Little Green Inn is.

So we’re on hiatus once more, for the foreseeable future. Keeping this little site up for folks bored enough to read reruns.

Take care of yourselves, and one another. Please.

thoughts on a sunday in february 2020

It’s cold, gloomy, and Sunday, so I’m hanging out considering these point(s) to ponder about privilege. Note that this is not a post about shelter animals.

Have you fantasized about emigrating to a more democratic country because trumpism is so damn disagreeable?

I know I have. But it’s just fantasizing. I’m not going anywhere, even if I had that option. I don’t have that option.

The folks bearing the greatest negative impacts of trump’s presidency and the authoritarianism he’s implementing at an accelerating pace don’t have the luxury of leaving. And I’m not talking about me, a lower-income college-educated, employed white person of middle age.

Imagine packing up all your stuff. All of it. Selling a majority of it. Your house. Your car. All your furniture, appliances, household goods. Checking balances in your checking, savings, and retirement accounts. Pulling all your funds. Getting a passport. Applying for a visa for the country you hope to travel to. Thinking you can get a job once you arrive there. Assuming your destination of choice will actually welcome you, a U.S. dissident. Even affording the travel—not on foot with all your worldly possessions on your back.

Then get your head out of your white middle-class arse.

The people whom the trump administration are targeting are a helluva lot less likely than you to have homes and cars to sell. Checking, savings, and retirement accounts with large balances that permit travel (or any accounts at all). Access to passports and travel visas.

They wouldn’t be welcome in the countries they might want to flee into, any more than they are welcome here. The countries YOU consider prosperous, democratic, relatively free, relatively nonviolent.

You think YOU wouldn’t end up in a refugee camp in someone else’s country? You have a helluva lot of privilege.

Stay and fight and stand up for those folks. Use your privilege for a cause that’s worthwhile: REAL democracy. Real human rights. Real freedom. For all those folks who have less of the damn pie than you have.

Be willing to die for them.

Clemson Is An Odd Place To Live

Some insightful observation about life in the town of Clemson, SC. I apologize: when I originally shared this post, I clicked “Press This” rather than “Reblog,” which made me appear that I was claiming the essay as mine. I’m not the author!

Clemson's Public Square

Clemson is a very small city wrapped in a large university,
and that is an odder combination than I thought. We are have 13,905 residents (all city data
come from Wikipedia and based on population numbers from the 2010 census), abutting
a university with more than 24,000 students (student numbers come from
university web sites) all living in 7.5 square miles. One of the universities we are often compared
to is Auburn, but based on size and population that is not a realistic pairing.
Auburn is approximately 60 square miles in size with over 53,000 residents and
a university with 30,000 students. How about Virginia Tech? Nope, not like us. Blacksburg encompasses approximately 20 square
miles with a population over 42,000 and 33,000 students. One of the big differences,
in addition to size, is that both Auburn and Blacksburg have significantly more
residents than their universities have students, just the…

View original post 598 more words

Letting go; loving and learning on.

Saturday Feb. 9, 2019, 4:00 p.m.
This evening and through the rest of the month—about an hour after sunset, if it’s not cloudy where you are—I’d like to ask you to step outside and look for the brightest star you can find. Stand quietly, and listen for a faint and distant AAARRRrrrroooooooh, repeated over and over, circling that star. A one-note, baritone Coonhound bay. What it lacks in musical range it will make up for in enthusiasm and persistence.

The heavens will be brighter with the spirit of Amos Moses Coonbritches running loose there. My boy is free.

8:30 p.m.
So I went out, and it’s kinda overcast. A pretty, hazy crescent moon, but no stars. My thought: Amos has treed all the stars, thinking they’re raccoons. And I laughed out loud.

collar

Always the king

9:00 p.m.
I want to share with everyone who follows Athenspets – GA or any other animal shelter pages a more-than-special ACCAC alum who gained his wings Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Amos was brought into the shelter on March 10, 2014, by a good Samaritan who found him wandering around her neighborhood. I was at AC, in the front interaction pen loving on a pittie girl, when they arrived. My heart skipped a few beats when I saw him. He was impounded with the shelter name Amos. A BIG, LOUD, active, older (~8 years) hunt-trained Treeing Walker Coonhound, neutered and healthy-looking, but lost from his home and then not reclaimed. So after his 5-day hold ended, I took him home, at first as an adopt-to-foster. He never left me. We moved to S.C., and he had almost five years with me. He had a special bromance with my 84-year-old Dad. He ruled the roost and his three adopted/rescued smaller sisters. He survived a bout of kidney disease in 2015, and a Fall 2017 surgery and chemo for a malignant lung tumor.

Saturday, at 13, old-age infirmities that took his mobility, and a bunch of new cancerous, bleeding tumors in his spleen and liver carried him away from me physically, but he’ll be with me for the rest of my days. And after.

Special dogs find themselves at ACCAC every day, every week. They all deserve the kind of second chance Amos M. Coonbritches had. And I am so thankful for the ACOs, staff and volunteers who help them get those chances. Pics are from 18 March 2014, and 1 January 2019.

Amos-3-18-2014

March 18, 2014—first week home

Amos-1-10-2019

January 1, 2019—silver is golden

Thank you. Bless all who adopt, rescue, shelter, and educate. I’ve made a donation to the Athenspets Fund in Amos’s memory.

Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, 8:00 a.m. Reflection.
After Amos’s cancer diagnosis and surgery in October 2017, I made a little vow to myself not to post any kind of daily drama diary of dog illness and the hardship illness brings. All of you who know love and loss know how that feels already. We all see our friends grieving and struggling, and other than prayer, there’s not a lot we can do to fix things. There’s more than enough pain in our news feeds.

So on Facebook, I stuck to the funny and sweet things, the things we all want to remember a year from now. I haven’t blogged this year; real life and mortal beings took precedence over essay-writing.

He had a really good, amazing year—a bonus of borrowed time thanks to surgery and chemo. He surpassed his prognosis by leaps and bounds. All of you who sent get-well cards to him and his granddad at the end of his chemo… that was one of the most loving gestures I have ever experienced. “Thank you” is not enough.

Since Christmas, he declined steadily and quickly. It was really, really tough, because in an ideal world I’d have stayed home with him all day, every day. I have to work to survive and provide for the Residents, so I couldn’t give him that. The last three weeks or so were especially hard for us—for Amos, for my dad, for me.

He dealt with progressing physical illness and weakness much like Dad does: he was angry about it. Some seniors are gentle souls in their last days. This boy was defiant, and often difficult. He was fully incontinent and fell down dozens of times a day. His food-guarding turned to food mania. He bullied his three smaller sisters. They cuddled him anyway. He tried to bite us when we were helping him up: how dare we look upon the king as helpless? My house reeks of urine and feces; I’ve hurt my back several times lifting his 90 pounds, as has my dad. I haven’t slept more than an hour at a time for six weeks. But we loved him anyway. Loved. Him. Through it all. Amos is so stubborn, willful, ornery, and coonhoundy that he kept hanging on. Until yesterday, when he couldn’t anymore.

When Dad said Amos collapsed in my parents’ kitchen and refused treats, I knew it was time. I went to see; I sat on the floor and lifted his head. He laid his head on my knee—he never does that—and closed his eyes. I knew. I DID want to know for sure why, and to give him a fighting chance if there was one. Amos has had a grossly enlarged spleen since I’ve had him—we discovered this on x-ray in 2015. My thought was that he had a splenic rupture.

Dad and I loaded Amos in my car and I took my boy to Fox Nest. A heroic vet tech picked up his 90-pound self and carried him inside. He was such a good boy while he was there, stoic as ever. He never let out a single whine or complaint the whole time yesterday. Following an ultrasound that revealed abdominal bleeding, Dr. Adri Casagrande helped me choose the option of emergency exploratory surgery and if possible, a splenectomy. We went with that, and unexpectedly discovered a bellyful of cancer. So letting him go free while he was still deeply anesthetized was the only right choice. God’s blessings to the three dogs that donated blood for Amos—a basset, a pit bull, a golden—and their humans who stepped up.

I have zero regrets about any of the care we gave him or the decisions we made for him over the past 16 months. We went many extra miles and dollars, and his team of vets and techs did even more. We had bonus time with this precious old man. Extra innings. Double overtime. And in this, we—Amos and I, and his grandparents, and all the friends I’ve shared Amos’s adventures with—we won. I didn’t know him as a pup, or in the first eight years of his life, but in the last five, we had each other’s hearts.

the-paw

These connections never end

For the sake of learning, and with Dr. Adri’s approval after a thorough discussion, she’s sending off tumor tissue for biopsy. Or necropsy. Whatever you call it when the patient’s future is no longer at stake. This is not about closure, but about science. Everything about Amos’ primary pulmonary carcinoma in 2017, his aggressive chemo, his handling that chemo like a champion, and the length of his remission defied the odds. It feels important to discover if the cancer in his spleen and liver were metastases, or primary tumors from some other cause. We’ll share the results with the oncology specialists at Upstate. If this matters, I’ve a directive to donate my own body to a medical college for students to learn on, when I leave it. That Amos. He has something to teach. He has been teaching me since I brought him home in mid-March 2014.

And then his ashes will come home. His huge presence, joie de vivre, and resilience will always be here.

Far more than grief, I feel gratitude. No matter how hard things get, no matter how painful the goodbye even when you know it’s coming, it is a BLESSING to be allowed the love of a dog. It makes me a better person. And God knows I need all the help I can get with that.

Previous posts about Amos:
A positive moment
Out with the old; in with the unknown

About pet rescue and loss and healing:
Continuity
Adding Patches to the Quilt
The foster – the bridge
Heart animals and angels flying too close to the ground

 

Amos10-30-2015

The eternal soul is just that.

Don’t hog the puppies

323,459.
That’s how many views to date that my most popular blog post has received. I didn’t think it was “all that” when I wrote it, and still don’t. I was blowing off steam. Venting. The intended reader audience: folks in rescue who have dealt with enraged, entitled wanna-be adopters. But anyway, the response boggles my mind.

It’s not great literature or art; it’s factually accurate snark, but Adoption Application: Denied for some reason struck a chord with a lot of readers. It’s pissed off some too. Ultimately it’s turned into the only essay I’ve written that anyone wants to read or share, so I retired it. Poof.

Let’s call this a sort-of flip side to that post. Neither adopters nor rescue entities are perfect. Humans aren’t perfect, and given power, at least half abuse it.

Here, I’m not going off about the unreasonable expectations some rescues have for adopters (I’ll rant write about that someday; others have written about the topic).

Instead, I’ll focus on one weird issue: how some competitive rescues make it damn near impossible for a competent, experienced, highly qualified prospective adopter in my region, the Southeast, to adopt a young (8- to 12-week-old), healthy puppy directly from an animal control shelter, because those rescues swoop in and snag them all up before adopters have a chance to apply.

This is likely gonna make a lot of folks mad, too, but so be it. Bear this in mind: when I say healthy, adoptable puppies, I mean exactly that. Not sick pups, underage pups, special-needs pups, or any other type where rescue is the only sane option. God bless all rescues who step up for babies who need far more than the average adopter can provide.

Shelters, pounds, and ACs around here often give rescues the privilege of pulling animals when the facility is closed to the general public, after hours, even on holidays. And if there’s a surrendered single or a litter of adorable, healthy-looking babies over eight weeks of age (most responsible shelters won’t adopt out pups before that age, nor should they), those rescues race in and grab ’em up.

The pulling rescue may then beg for temp fosters, start fundraising for money for shots, spay/neuter, and health certs, and then all too often ship the babies “up north” to that magical land where there’s a mythological dog shortage, fosters grow on trees, and adoption fees for cute youngsters run $500­–600 and up.

Those healthy, homeless, ADOPTABLE 8- to 12-week-olds the pound just posted on Facebook at 5:00pm? Those little guys who got 400 comments in ten minutes? They might just have found perfect, loving, forever homes fast, without rescue-group brokering.

But the Caped-Crusader-to-the-Rescue-on-a-Mission-from-God rescue called AC after hours and the pups’ post was updated ***♥!!RESCUED!!♥*** before regular people who have to abide by rules even got to apply. Of those 400 who may have commented on the pups’ Facebook post, some were qualified local adopters, now disappointed, and probably not for the first time.

Ponder this: Some of us regular Southern folk may not want or need to adopt from a rescue; sometimes we’d prefer to adopt straight from that “kill shelter.” Not every Southern adopter is a backward, ignorant, cheap-hillbilly-redneck dumbass, a neglecter/abuser, a backyard breeder, or a purveyor of bait dogs. And—surprise—it’s not because the Southern adopter is “too cheap” to pay a rescue group’s adoption fee. It’s this: Not every Southern adopter wants or needs everything done FOR them.

Believe it or not, some folks want the full experience AND the responsibility AND the personal expense of doing all the work themselves—yes, really! Many have years of canine care experience, have spent many hundreds or thousands of dollars giving companion animals the best of care, and have been fosters themselves. They’re ready to cut out the middleman, and do the basics from the start. Because for some of us, basics are an integral part of the process.

The basics like taking that pup for the vaccine series, for microchipping (and perhaps they’d like that microchip registered in their own name rather than to a rescue group who in essence retains default ownership for the dog’s life), for frequent puppy wellness checks, for spay/neuter surgery. Basics like doing the housetraining, crate-training, leash-training and basic obedience work. The reward is getting to see and grow and bond with that puppy as a baby, from the stage where it’s legal to adopt onward.

Yes, there are actual responsible, civilian non-rescue folks here in the South who can do all the startup work, and who prefer to. But in some areas, they can’t, because rescues who have an “in” with the AC pull all those healthy, adoptable-aged, precious pups the minute they’re listed or even before that, while the shelter’s closed—before qualified would-be adopters have a chance.

What’s the alternative for those would-be adopters? Buying from a breeder? From somebody with an oops litter? From somebody selling puppies out of the back of a truck in the Walmart parking lot? Or paying a rescue’s adoption fee, jumping through dozens of subjective screening hoops, and signing a multipage contract that allows the rescue to “check in” for the next 15 years at will, and to take back the dog if they see or imagine anything at all they disapprove of? Or driving around the countryside looking for a “stray” pup that may or may not belong to someone, and may or may not be semi-healthy?

mixed-breed-pups

Source: Pixabay (Creative Commons)

Look, rescue groups. “Rescue” used to do two vital things: relieve shelter overcrowding, and give second chances to the unwanted, uncared-for, unhealthy, unsocialized pets who need the extras that only a nonprofit charity can reasonably provide. That includes  underaged babies separated from their mothers, that need extra care, OR abandoned moms with their neonate/unweaned litters incarcerated together and at risk for parvo, distemper, URI, and other diseases that plague shelters. I won’t even go into rescues that pull puppies and leave their moms behind.

Sure, there are legit situations where a rescue should hustle to claim adoptable pups if that rescue can act fastest: the shelter is overcrowded, and even adoptable puppies are at instant risk for euthanasia for space. The shelter has a communicable-disease problem. The shelter is poorly run or understaffed or can’t begin to screen adopters adequately (and this is often a subjective judgment, since many consider all facilities that euth for any reason “hellholes”). Etc., etc., etc. But to claim these scenarios are ALWAYS the case across the board isn’t legit. Many shelters prioritize adopters before rescue groups. More should, if they have the space and resources. That’s great.

If you’re pulling adoptable, of-age pups to recoup some of the expenses you incur when you take in dogs with a lot of pricey medical needs and long foster commitments—that is, because healthy, desirable pups offer quick turnaround, low expense, and a ready adoption fee—that kinda stinks to the average observer. Ditto if your fosters have puppy mania. Why do they take precedence over adopters? If you assume that NO ONE but you/your group can take care of those initial puppy needs because all the locals are inbred yokels/backyard breeders/dog-fighters and YOU are the shizz, you need to examine your bigotry and your control-freak tendencies.

Ditto with the healthy, well-adjusted, highly desirable purebreds and toy-sized dogs that don’t need an intermediary to get good homes. Stop snagging them out from under good potential adopters. Highly territorial breed rescues that grab ALL animals of their breed that land in shelters, regardless of interest from adopters or all-breed rescues, are a mafia in themselves. If the breed isn’t a “difficult”* breed to raise, vet, train, and socialize, an adopter is just as good as a rescue. But that’s another essay.

*GSDs, English Bulldogs, Cane Corsos, Border Collies, for example. Sensitive, major high-energy, serious medical challenges, tend to guard their humans, etc.

Please consider: some of us here in the South are competent, caring, compassionate, intelligent, dog-knowledgeable grownup folks with years, even decades of caregiving experience, who might like to give a young pup a great home for life without conforming to the rigid rules of, or forming a long-term relationship with, Rescue Big Mama. Who don’t want the miles of strings attached and pages of terms and conditions. When you constantly moan on social media about how harried, underfunded, under-fostered, in debt, and stretched thin your rescue group is, yet you snap up every cute, healthy, highly adoptable infant doggie or litter thereof from every facility within a hundred-mile radius before actual adopters can apply, it’s gonna look like your martyr complex is showing.

Don’t hog all the easily adoptable puppies. Please. And think the points in this essay through carefully, slowly, and objectively, instead of just reacting.

 

Untitled

There used to be a tacit understanding — in this former democracy — that those who make, enforce, and adjudicate laws and policies are bound by decency to observe those laws themselves.

I kinda miss that.

A positive moment

Amos_2-22-2018

Amos M. Coonbritches here.

The Manager took me in for my one-month-post-chemo checkup on Thursday, Feb. 22. Those humans at Upstate Veterinary Specialists are good to me.

My chest radiographs were CLEAR. That means no signs of any new pulmonary carcinomas growing at this time.

The Manager got teary-eyed over this moment of light.

I’m twelve. That’s geriatric for my size and breed. On March 15, I’ll have been with my Manager for four years — she adopted me from the Athens-Clarke County animal control facility. She says I was an “adopt-to-rescue,” and was supposed to go to a rescue group, but the two rescues involved weren’t the best places for me to be. Manager became my Mom and that’s been the best. I have three 4-legged sisters and a set of grandparents who think I’m awesome. I have a huge fenced yard and Granddad takes me for walks in the woods. Mom cooks for me, and I get too many treats. I have dog beds in every room and free range of the human furniture too.

So I do have senior big-dog issues. Arthritis and spondylosis — sometimes I fall over, slide on slick floors, can’t get on the couch by myself. Urinary incontinence—I drink a gallon of water every 24 hours and pee everywhere. An enlarged spleen—Mom worries about that. Corneal scarring on one eye so I don’t see very well. Recurring ear infections, and I hate ear drops but love ear massages. Thunder and gunshots terrify me. Plus, I’m a Treeing Walker Coonhound, so I’m stubborn, food-obsessed, LOUD, and selectively deaf when it comes to humans talking, though I can hear a plastic bag crinkling three rooms away.

The lung cancer thing was a wildcard.

I’m now super-expensive and high-maintenance, too. I bully my sisters on occasion—old guys can be assholes. I pester Mom by baying at her and following her everywhere for a full hour and half before mealtimes, every single day. I refuse to go outside in the rain, sometimes for days.

But the cool thing is that she loves me anyway.

She loves me.

She reminded me that even while we’re celebrating my good checkup, there’s tons of dogs like me who aren’t getting good checkups, and who are dying every day. Tons of humans no different from my Mom who are grieving. I don’t worry about all that, but Mom does.

She says that both joy and pain are universal. I have no idea what that means. I’m just napping until one-and-a-half hours before dinnertime.

Out with the old; in with the unknown

Another year ends, according to the Gregorian calendar. A little blue-green-brown speck completes another full circuit around a minor star.

If you’re reading this, you made it.

This has been a not-good year for me, so I’ve mostly refrained from spouting off in this blog. No one wants to read a whine. I didn’t even want to write a whine.

I still find it interesting which of my old posts folks read and share. Thank you for that, though I get a little discouraged that the snarky writing is the most popular. The greater part of me is kind, empathetic, compassionate, intellectual, objective, non-snarky. Thus — I guess — boring as hell.

My 12-year-old shelter-rescued treeing walker coonhound, Amos, has late-stage metastatic lung cancer. Pulmonary carcinoma is one of those cancers in elderly dogs that’s essentially symptomless until it’s well advanced. Early symptoms look like normal signs of aging. Twelve is geriatric for a large-breed coonhound. By the time he started coughing frequently enough, at the end of September, for concern and a diagnostic vet visit, a large malignant tumor in his right accessory lung lobe was pressing on his heart and cancer had invaded the lymph nodes surrounding and attached to his heart, lungs, and major thoracic arteries.

Amos had surgery on 19 October [month corrected] to excise the affected lobe and biopsy the tumor and one accessible lymph node, and is now close to finishing an eight-round course of vinorelbine chemotherapy. The surgery and recovery from surgery were rough on him, but he’s tolerated the chemo like champ. He won’t be cured; we’re buying him quality time. He’s doing really well right now. I’m grateful for every day that he gets to enjoy his home-made food, his walks with my 83-year-old-dad, his massages, his “hunting” adventures baying at wildlife in the back yard. He’s LOVED. He knows it, and loves us back.

So we take things a day at a time, and savor the days.

Amos12-26-2016

The one unqualified bright point of 2017, for me, was cataract surgery in mid-September. We tend to think of cataracts as a disease of old age, but younger people can develop lens opacity. I’ve had significant eye defects and impaired vision all my life. Coke-bottle glasses. Ever-changing contact lens prescriptions. Legal blindness without corrective lenses. I had the right cataracted lens removed and replaced with a corrective implant in 2012. The left one’s now got a toric lens implant that corrects my lifelong myopia and astigmatism. For the first time in my 54 years, I have 20/20 reading and distance vision. SEEING clearly is a new joy that I never tire of or take for granted. Every day, there’s something new to observe, especially in the world of nature.

Those two bright spots — good eyesight, and a companion dog who despite a terminal diagnosis is still alive today and enjoying life — make 2017 worthwhile. They’ve cost me the equivalent of a year’s pay, but that is what it is. Worthwhile things can sometimes be expensive things.

The rest of 2017 unequivocally sucked and I’m glad to kick it into the gutter of history. A new year of possibilities and 365 new opportunities to fuck things up rolls in.

I’m not making resolutions, nor do I wish anyone anything for the new year. There is no “normal” anymore. “Hope is the thing with feathers…” that men with firearms destroy with impunity, laughing as they kill.

I’m seeing out the year with a good, peaty single-malt on the rocks and no year-in-review highlights or nostalgia whatsoever.

But I hope you can snag or create some joy of your own in 2018. Don’t forget to remind your loved ones that you love them.

IMG_7045

 

For some, it is

[25 December 2017]

For some, it is the observance of the birth of a savior.
For some, it is a visit from a gift-bearing saint in a sleigh.
For some, it’s Chinese food and movies.
For some, it’s someone else’s day. Holiday. Holy Day.
For some, it’s only Monday again.

For some, it is family, friends, food, fun.
For some, it is solitude, or howling isolation.

For some it is parties.
For some, it is grief.

The celebration of loved ones.
The absence of loved ones.

Colored lights, gaily wrapped packages, delicious treats.
Darkness, cold, hunger, thirst, pain, fear, addiction.

For some, it is a day of rest.
For some, it is hours of overtime.

For some, it is deployment.
For some, homecoming.

For some it is the first drawn breath.
For some, the last exhalation.

The sun will rise.
The sun will set.

Hope. Despair. Hope. Despair.
Have. Have not.

For some, it is.

Think of some. Think of all.
Light your candle if you have one.

23Jan2016

What it’s like (to blog as an introvert)

Writing a blog over a span of time presents challenges if you are an introvert, or if you have any expectation of personal space. I am one such introvert, but I’m writing below in the second person (“you”) for fellow introverts who may blog or write and have similar experiences.

Let’s say you’re an introvert who comes out of the cave only on occasion. Who seeks balance between extremes. Who weighs rationality and emotion, objective fact and subjective experience, isolation and socialization. You write because you need and want to write — not professionally, not for fame, likes, shares, profit, followers. You know you’re a multifaceted being, with more than one interest. You chose a blog for that writing because it’s simple to keep your stuff in one place. Your essays typically are longer than Facebook users want to read, and far too long for Twitter. Plus, trolls and haters run rampant on both those platforms. You prefer to write for like-minded readers in smaller numbers. You don’t want to grant full access to entire population of the planet.

You start out OK. You get a bit of feedback that a handful of people have read and enjoyed one or two of your posts.

Then your posts get shared on other platforms, and before too long, all hell breaks loose. Over several years, what proves to be your most popular post is a rant, written to blow off steam. It is not by any means your best writing. Oddly, readers come to believe that’s all you are. That one post.

…..

You, in essay: “I am focusing here on Issue A, from the perspective of my experience, research, and the experience of people I’ve worked with. This essay cannot be all things to all people. It’s somewhat focused, somewhat narrow. While issues B through Z exist and are valid issues, trying to address them all in one essay dilutes the focus on Issue A. Some of this is documented, and I’ve shared the documentation. Some of it is my observation alone. You should be able to tell the difference.”

Most of your readers see where you’re going, and decide either to read along, or not. You get a few comments: “thanks,” “that was thought-provoking,” “I can relate.”

But inevitably, trolls pop up like dandelions, like fire ants after a rainstorm. You start to get a few of these:

Comment 1: “But what about issues G and T? That’s what you should be writing about.”

Comment 2: “No one gives a shit about issue A.”

Comment 3: “My experiences with Issue A are totally different from yours; therefore, you must be wrong. Oh, and you’re also ugly, stupid, and you dress funny.”

Comment 4: “Issue A doesn’t exist in my region. It must be a problem only for you stupid Southerners. Therefore Issue A does not exist.”

Comment 5: “I like your avatar photo. Are you single?”
Comment 5b: “Your avatar photo is dumb. Why do you have purple hair?”

Comment 6: “This story reminds me of my aunt’s boyfriend’s cousin’s cockapoo back in 1958 in Fresno. It did backflips for cocktail weenies. I miss that dog.”

Comment 7a: “Can you crosspost this blind, diabetic, dog-aggressive, one-legged ‘Pit’ mix with cancer in Chicago? He’s gonna be murdered by the horrible, heartless subhumans at the shelter in an hour.” [string of emojis follows]
Comment 7b: “Can you take my dog?”

Comment 8: <spam self-promotion>

Comment 9: “Why aren’t you writing about dog rescue? No one wants to read about your political crap, about nature, about middle age… and no one reads poetry. Even if I did, I can’t stand that puerile garbage you write.”

Comment 10: “This is SO-O-O-O negative. YOU are the problem.”

Comment 11: “I agreed with/liked this right up until you said ____. It’s obvious you SUCK, and know nothing about ____. I’m sharing this all over with my opinion so all my friends can scoff at you. And I’m unliking/unfollowing you and you can go to hell. But I’m gonna Google you to see if there’s any manure I can spread.”

Comment 12: “Whoever wrote this never responds to my comments. WTF is wrong with you?” (i.e., “I DEMAND your attention.”)

You: Sigh.

<disable commenting feature>

…<remove email address and contact buttons from blog>

…<turn off notifications>

…<turn off phone and computer>

…<go outside to walk dogs>

…<think about never returning>

Time-resistant

I stop for beauty.
For moments — for hours. For surprises. For little things.
I stop to help. To observe. To listen. To learn.
IMG_4922
More often than not, my stops make me late for a destination or appointment someone else has assigned me.
People tell me I’m inconsiderate, or unreliable, or undisciplined for being late.
For daydreaming.
Attention deficit disorder: that’s when I pay attention to anything — anything — but what you think I should be attending to.
But my priority is to appreciate beauty.
To attend a need when I find it. Not “later.”
To observe, to listen, to learn.
To understand.
I don’t want to miss the whole world
while I’m watching your clock.
All I have is now.

Long time, no write

While I’m not doing active writing at this time, I’ve unarchived my blog because people still appear to be interested. Lord knows why. In the three-plus months I sent it on vacation (that is, I set it to “private” so I didn’t have to monitor activity), I’ve continued to get messages from WordPress that readers are requesting access. So here it is.

Comments are disabled. That’s not changing. I don’t have the energy or patience to moderate conversation or answer questions here.

These days I don’t have the free time for research and writing that’s not related to my paying job. It’s not hard to find a few minutes to make a Facebook post or a tweet, but essays take much longer. Can’t write and edit an essay while I’m on a restroom break at the office.

Making a living for the “Residents” and “Manager” (in that order) takes priority. We’re all well, and I hope that you are too.

Inn6-7-17

Stat

As of February 4, 2017, I’ve written 98 posts to this online journal. Not all of them are public. Most of ’em no one reads.

Only 26 of these posts focus on companion animal advocacy – dogs and related concerns that help make my life livable.

That’s roughly 27.53% of my content.

Yet that topic category receives roughly 97% of what traffic this blog actually gets.

So, yeah, WordPress makes it easy for me to see what “my readers” like. And lets me know that my advocacy for dogs and other animals is the only thing I have in common with 97% of them.

Since my first post on July 26, 2012:
451,426 views. 166 different countries. Those two numbers make me feel like I’m trapped in a free-falling elevator in the Twilight Zone surrounded by aliens. I’m not even gonna share how many times people looked up my “about” info (now private) or my gravatar.

WordPress also tells me that – when I had the commenting feature on – my posts got 317 legitimate comments and 5,316 spam comments (thankfully, the site quarantined those so I could move them to the trash). Seriously?

Allowing commenting is not, for every single person who writes a blog, an invitation to ’round-the-clock interactive conversation. Readers these days appear to expect that. There’s no genuine privacy on the web, but I like to pretend I don’t have to allow 500,000 individuals plus advertisers, bots, scam artists, and the government into my house all day, any day, like a diner that serves breakfast 24/7/365. As a shy introvert who deals with chronic depression and social anxiety, I don’t have the desire or energy for full access. I also don’t have the time or energy to rein in the handful of people who get so incensed over something I write that they stalk me across social media and my private and work email accounts to tell me how much I suck or how wrong I am. Screw that.

So I turned off commenting. I don’t have my contact info out there. I will ask you – right here, point-blank – not to send me Facebook friend requests based on something I’ve blogged. My dialogue circle is tiny and I like it that way.

I don’t write for clicks, views, shares, repeat visits, followers, accolades or critiques or opposing viewpoints.

I write because I write. That’s it. Like breathing, or eating, or sleeping.

When the mood hits me. About what’s on my mind. Whether people read it, like it, approve of it, or not.

A blog keeps my written stuff in one place. I’ve got twenty times the original written content on my hard drive, but it’s a chaotic madhouse there. More like a natural disaster site than a library. And 97% of you wouldn’t find one bit of it interesting or entertaining. Of the remaining 3%, half of you might get it, and the other half might waste time trying to use it against me.

So… what’s the point of this particular rambling post?

Local, regional and global concerns more urgent than companion animal advocacy occupy my spare thinking time right now. My paying job – the one that keeps me from starvation and homelessness – occupies the rest.

Like many American misfits capable of individual critical thinking, I’m in survival mode. If I lose my entire readership because I’m either not writing, or writing stuff my readership dislikes or doesn’t care about, I’m OK with that. Since neither this blog nor this life is the Hotel California, I can check out any time I like. AND leave.

Please be well.

Footnote: In the three hours immediately following the publication of this post, 60 followers stopped following The Little Green Inn (presumably by social media). Just another interesting statistic.

Build-a-Dictator Workshop

Here are a few steps toward a do-it-yourself dictatorship.

  • Get elected by appealing to the populace’s fears and prejudices, by scapegoating minorities and twisting facts.
  • Incite violence while decrying and exaggerating the violence perpetrated by his opponents.
  • Once in, close all borders, recall all diplomats, announce policy of “us first, and only us.”
  • Promote isolationism, hyperpatriotism, and nationalism, even when these jeopardize economic stability.
  • Discredit and shut out all public media (i.e., eliminate freedom of the press) and establish government-run media. Cut off avenues of free/open communication within the country and abroad.
  • Surround self with a cadre of unqualified favor-seekers who you can control, but consider expendable.
  • Manipulate and redefine words (propaganda) to emphasize that “truth” comes only from you and your cadre.
  • Rewrite history and law; reinterpret constitution to favor your takeover.
  • Cut taxes of your chosen elite.
fascism

Image making the rounds on social media 1/24/2017; multiple sources.

  • Shut down all arts and humanities outlets
  • End social programs that do not serve your power.
  • Abolish all governmental departments and organizations that do not serve your personal agenda, calling the eliminations “spending cuts.”
  • Take complete control of and practice censorship over all government agencies you don’t abolish.
  • Expand the military and give military powers to the police while making them accountable to you alone. Exempt military and law enforcement agencies from federal and state laws.
  • Purge intellectuals (deport, incarcerate, fire, blacklist) unless they swear loyalty to you.
  • Shut down funding for and access to public education.
  • Cut off all traditional international alliances – economic/trade, humanitarian, tourism, military – and build alliances with former adversaries, thus earning praise as a “peacemaker,” while your agenda is really to stamp out a scapegoated enemy through war.
  • Round up and deport all immigrants. Isolate minority groups and dissenters, take away their homes, property, votes. “Register” fringe groups and minorities.
  • Divide whatever is left of the country into “us” and “them.” Bestow and renew privileges to your “us” while denying “them” basic human rights.
  • Build new military-industrial complex which provides lots of new low-paying, low-benefit jobs. Absent foreign trade, unemployment numbers drop but domestic wages also fall; standard of living falls. Currency is devalued. Inflation explodes. Environment is raped and pillaged and exploited to build individual wealth of your elite.
  • Talk about yourself in glowing terms, and abut everyone else as obstacles or assets to your success.
  • Remind your citizenry often that you have the nuclear codes.

Rights

Women’s basic human rights:

Equality. Equity. Parity. 100% full citizenship in humanity.

The right to equal pay for equal work.

The absolute right to body autonomy – that encompasses the right not to be objectified, groped, “grabbed by the pussy,” assaulted, raped, abused by spouses or partners or family members or strangers, and not to be blamed, shamed, damned, ostracized or ridiculed if we do become victimized.

The right to reproductive choice, and to NOT have men making the decision for us whether or not we bear offspring. There are more than seven billion humans on this planet, and three billion of them live on less than $2.50 per day.

The right to protect our children and seniors from bullying.

The right to access affordable, safe contraception and a full spectrum of medical care for any and all health issues, including those exclusive to female biology.

The right to be black, brown, umber, sepia, tan, beige, ecru, white, or green-and-purple plaid, without persecution.

The right to be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, deist, animist, new age, druid, wiccan, or uncommitted without persecution, as long as we are not using our faith/lack of faith to do active harm to others.

Rights to food, water, shelter. Rights to speak freely, access factual information without undue government censorship, peaceably to assemble.

The right to live and thrive, even with physical or mental disabilities.

The right to own and define our gender and sexuality, and to marry or not marry the consenting adult partner of our own choosing – or to choose not to.

The right to be LGBTQ without having to face constant discrimination, harassment, disenfranchisement, hate speech, physical violence.

The right to literacy, and a decent education regardless of our income.

The right to be treated as worthy human beings regardless of our age, race, size, body-mass index, appearance, health, fitness, language, economic status, fashion choices, hairstyle, food preferences, or any other arbitrary benchmark set by some entitled majority.

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the belief that all humans are worthy and free.

That’s a short list.

Oh, and the right to tell gaslighting, lying, power-crazed malignant-narcissist sociopaths and fascists to fuck off. I think the first amendment prolly covers that one. I have to note that there is no commandment that says, “Thou shall not say ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’ or ‘twatwaffle’.” That’s a social convention and I reject it.

The “unfollow” button is at the right side of your screen for your convenience.