More States End Mask Mandates

by Anthony Stewart

It’s July of 1936 on Boston’s Revere Beach, populated with exuberant young people of presumably many different ethnicities and many immigrant groups. It should make you smile to see such joy. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). However, with today’s skewed lens, it might immediately trigger folks who see too much white, lumping all of these faces into one category. Diversity is present in many ways. Retrain your brain to stop being offended. Stop being triggered. I thought judging by skin color was what we were trying not to do 60 years ago. I seem to recall a “content of their character” speech by an inspiring orator who would have been horrified by the present agenda, and how HARD IT IS TRYING to create more and more division. MLK wanted us to focus less on skin color, while today’s leadership wants us to focus 24/7 on skin color. Pedophiles, adulterers, rapists, terrorists? Turn the other way. But too little melanin? You’re the problem.

Frankly, I can’t believe this beach is even still called Revere Beach, since I’m pretty sure Paul Revere was white. His father was a French Huguenot, and that is precisely the kind of European white that you are not allowed to be. Perhaps one will soon be able to reassign or reidentify their ancestry, in essence, lie or pretend. You can imagine how hard this is on me, able only to celebrate my Cuban half, because being hispanic is celebratable, but not my Scotch-Irish half, because poor Irish folks were pink and clearly oppressors.

First off, the sins of your fathers are not your sins. Secondly, most of your fathers are being blamed for sins they never even committed, by folks who aren’t super clear on what a sin actually is. Thirdly, a father is different than a mother and has different roles to play because men and women are inherently different and balance each other out. No gender is better (out of the two that exist), and no race is superior out of the myriad that exist.

You can also imagine how hard this 2021 brainwashing is on me, knowing my love for Coke, oft-chronicled on this blog, while not endorsing their recent “be less white” training. It seems inconsistent in this world of, “You do you and let your freak flag fly,” but the truth is–only some of you can do you. And God help you if you’re a white man (I shudder to even type it) because you are exactly everything that was wrong with the former Mr. Potato Head. Maleness is shameful, and the neutering is going exactly as planned, Mein Führer. If penises are offensive now, which was only the implication of Mr. Starch Head, not the physical manifestation, then how long until the Berenstain Bears go the way of poor Dr. Seuss? After all, they DO DECLARE the reality of two genders.

At least they are brown and not polar white, like the Coke beast, which is polar-izing. Guess what, kids? Not everyone gets to be a mother, and not everyone gets to be a father, no matter how much you mutilate your body. Chromosomes tell the truth. Do we want to be authentic, or do we want to make up stories about ourselves and create “personal narratives”? Lies. How long before the cancel culture agenda takes out icons like Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross and Steve Irwin? Oh, it won’t be long, folks. History is being retold. So I’ll keep sharing these pics from the past with the reality of the circumstances before it is deleted or altered to fit the current PC agenda.

This is a picture of happy beach-goers smack dab in the middle of the Depression, trying their damnedest to enjoy life despite awful circumstances, kind of like what we’ve been doing for the last year. Most of them rented their swimsuits from the city, who laundered more than 100,000 suits that Sunday. Most of them descended from hardworking immigrants who came to this country, searching for freedom from socialist or communist or oppressive countries that devalued them. Actually, just posing for this shot was a new freedom, because even visiting the beach on a Sunday was, at one point, a crime. So just to be clear, this was not a white supremacist rally. It was not a group of Italians gathering to decide how to destroy their Polish neighbors. It was not insurrectionists storming the lifeguard’s chair. It was not a picture full of hate because most Americans do not carry hate in their hearts. Sorry to upset you, media, but we don’t. We don’t use hate speech and we don’t hate any skin color and we base our judgments on whether people are kind or whether they are jerks. Don’t fall for the pathetic attempts to divide. Don’t hate yourself for the way God knit you in your mother’s womb. He knew what He was doing when He made you, and that is nothing for which to apologize.

Me On Day 15 Of China Virus

LIFE Jan ’51

Actually, she looks better than I feel. Two weeks of making hot tea, hoping one day I will smell and taste again, losing a pound daily for the first 10 days, coughing, nauseated. Oh, what fun it is to have the China virus inside your body, when you never leave home, and a year has passed since any interaction with friends or family. But no matter!

Fanny Thorne presumably lived through the pandemic 100 years ago, and here we see here at the age of 88 in 1951, in the English village of Preston Candover, which today has fewer residents than the amount of students in most of your graduating classes. Fanny’s husband fought in the Boer War, then passed during WWI, while she lived a life of “deliberate sameness,” threshing wheat, sorting potatoes, or cutting kale for cattle because gross, why would humans eat it? At age 86, the great-grandmother of 19 “stooked” an eight acre field of barley sans help in just 11.5 hours. Combined with her years of devoted service to agriculture, the King of England himself awarded her the ribboned-and-silver British Empire Medal.

Not too shabby.

My, What Lovely Scales You Have!

by Anthony Stewart for Nat Geo 9/48

Curator of fishes, the vested Dr. Leonard Schultz, takes measurements of a parrotfish from Bikini Atoll in 1948. Bikini Atoll is a coral reef in the Marshall Islands, whose inhabitants were relocated in 1946, after which the islands and lagoon were the site of 23 nuclear tests by the United States until 1958. Before and after the Navy’s blasts, 70,000 marine life specimens were collected for testing, some of which you see in jars behind the good doctor. At this point, they had determined that surviving fish showed no anatomical changes, but they were concerned about future sterility and abnormal growths caused by radiation. The article states that “eventually, with the passage of time, the fish population will return to normal.”

getty images

While fish returned, the Atoll’s residents did not. In March 1946, the residents gathered their personal belongings and  were transported 125 miles eastward to the uninhabited Rongerik Atoll, one-sixth the size of Bikini Atoll. A deep-rooted traditional belief that the island was haunted by the Demon Girls of Ujae, as well as inadequate food and water (and fish that made their legs go numb), made the move a complete failure. Families were moved to other islands and moved again.

In 1970, three families were resettled on Bikini island, totaling about 100 residents. But scientists found dangerously high levels of strontium-90 in well water, and the residents were carrying abnormally high concentrations of caesium-137 in their bodies. Even coconut crabs retained high levels of radioactivity and could not be eaten. Women noticed genetic abnormalities in their children. They were evacuated in 1980.

At this point, the atoll is occupied by a handful of caretakers. Marine life, despite being radioactive and sharks perhaps missing dorsal fins, seem to have thrived in the absence of humans.

Just Shove Your Noggin In Here, Kid

9/48 Nat Geo by Justin Locke

A supervisor at George Washington University’s then-new eye clinic checks a toddler’s eyes for double vision. The clinic routinely covered a child’s “good eye” in order to strengthen the poor one in youngsters who had lost their ability to fuse what their two eyes view into a single picture. The two onlookers seem to be sizing things up just fine.

We Buy Lizard

Charles Wharton for Nat Geo 9/48

Seems a bit steep for a cagwang (flying lemur), but let’s recognize that these prices are in Filipino money. A four foot sawa (python) could run you $1.50 in US money, up to $37.50 for a 28 foot specimen. Here we see two Filipino men holding a reticulated python and a crested serpent eagle.

Cedar Waxwings Flummoxed By Snowvid Armageddon

Bird dynamics have been FUBAR during this frozen apocalypse. They appear to be much more sociable than in days of yore, flocking together and flying from icicle tree to icicle tree, wondering what in the name of the holy mother is going on. I know they are cedar waxwings because their little wingtips appear to have been dipped in red and yellow paint, and they wear that black mask which conveys a sense of outrage at Nature’s recent shenanigans. Here in central Texas, the old quote of “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” keeps popping up, as we continue yet more days sans water. Yup, it’s snowing, but we can’t drink that, although we’ve melted 14 gallons of it so far to use to flush toilets. Last week, we filled up some Arizona tea jugs with tap water, so we still have that. I suppose the birds can lick the icicles?

I braved my death by stepping onto our icy front porch to toss them handfuls of hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds out of an abundance of my own grace and mercy upon them. They flew away. Perhaps that’s why we call them bird brains.

Pray For Texas

We are not doing well. Last Thursday, the ice rained down on my car as I drove my dad to his oral surgery. I had not been near him since the pandemic began, nor had anyone in my car (or home), but anesthesia would not allow him to drive post-op. The frozen rain pelted us as we ran inside the center, which soon informed me that their lobby was closed, and I should sit in my car for the next 30 minutes. I told them I was not going to sit and freeze in my car, and no stores were open yet that morning, so I wasn’t budging. 30 minutes soon turned into an hour and a half. The drive home, stopping for a 30 min wait in the CVS drive-through for five prescriptions, was precarious at best. Friday, we were advised not to travel at all, due to ice.

this morning’s deck

We got down to zero degrees this weekend. That was a record. It snowed another round. Last night, it sleeted and added another layer of ice on our roads. Our grids have been overloaded, and electric cooperatives were told to begin rolling blackouts. Word on the street is that the federal government would not allow Texas to provide heat and water to its citizens, despite having more than enough energy, due to the amount of pollution that would exceed its environmental standards. If that is the case, they have blood on their hands.

No power means an inability to treat and pump water. This led to boil water notices. And now, nearly a week into this, we have zero water. No water to drip, to prevent our pipes from bursting. No water to rinse dishes or flush toilets or wash hands or give to the dogs. We have a case of bottled water in the pantry, but it won’t last long. I am literally receiving a text from the city as I type, telling us no water will be available before the weekend, if even. That means no showers, no bathing. My husband has filled buckets with dirty snow from the back yard and is melting them on the stove (we are blessed to still have power), so that we can flush toilets at some point. When the temperature increases this weekend, the newsmen have advised us that the water mains will all thaw and break, and to prepare again for no water.

And we are the lucky ones, stuck with roads not drivable, with no trucks to sand the roads, with grocery stores closed or emptied of food. Many of my friends have not had any power for days. DAYS. Dark apartment buildings and subdivisions can look out their windows and see the downtown buildings still lit up, emptied of people, yet warming the offices with heat and lighting the cubicles. Not cool. My friend, Jen, says her apartment has been without power for three days now. Her thermostat reads 48 in her living room. None of them can go warm up in their cars because the garages are solely automatic doors with no other entry. Trapped. Other folks with houses, able to warm up in cars in garages, have chosen not to open their garage doors and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

We have several unreachable windows 20 feet high, which is great until a historic, unprecedented event that makes you wish for blinds and curtains to block the sub-zero winds and cold. Note the blue garbage bin, which has been out for 7 days now, waiting for garbage men to empty them. Who knows when that will happen? Our trash cans are full.

our view to the outside

Poor Houston has 600,000 folks without power. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is a warming center, to shelter and feed many of them. But Austin is the hill country, and none of us can brave the icy roads and hills to gather our freezing friends, even if we could. No one has snow tires or chains. Few have 4WD. So they suffer. The millions of dollars worth of wind turbines that used to spew grease all over adjacent towns are frozen solid. Useless. So helicopters using fossil fuels are spraying chemicals made of fossil fuels onto wind turbines made of fossil fuels to de-ice them before tonight’s round of freezing rain hits. And carbon footprint trucks are pulling little hybrid cars out of ditches and saving lives. Green new deal, my ass. The folks who will be dead tonight would be happy for a handful of coal at this point.

Six Days Difference

This beautiful rye grass was our back yard six days ago. The oak tree was budding, and Roxie was free to spend hours in the sun. If you zoom in, you can see why she was agitated. A possum was hanging upside-down on the trellis. Can you see it?

Today, however, is a different story. Thursday’s ice storm bent the branches of that oak, and it will likely never recover. The cottonwood still stands tall, under a few feet of snow, the most we’ve ever had. My phone said 5 degrees when I awoke. Tonight we will reach a record-breaking one. We’ve dripped the faucets, but many of our friends and family have been without water for days and heat for hours. We are not allowed to travel until next weekend, due to layers of ice. Everything is closed all week. I will have to get creative with the one onion we have. Lentil soup? Tacos? We are down to one cup of milk. But we’ll be all right as long as we have heat and water and each other.

Spring, Interrupted

The weather keeps getting stranger and stranger. Last month, I saw more snow than had ever fallen in Austin in my life. This week will be the lowest temps we’ve ever weathered, dipping into single digits. We received a text from the county at lunch, urging folks not to travel for the next several days. The grocery stores are bare of meat, eggs, and milk.

Only days ago, spring had begun its first bloom, and now this.

Our oak tree, which had just begun to bud and stretched over 20 feet into the air, is now bowed down to the grass, branches breaking off every few hours.

Every home in our city has broken branches in its yard.

And our holly bush appears frozen in time, if not weeping from the sudden frost. Strange days indeed.

Canning Legumes

Portrait of an Era

The diligent ladies here are manning (or womanning) the production line at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire in 1934. In my home, we eat canned green beans about once a week. A couple times a month, I’ll buy the fresh ones and spend an hour snipping the ends and chopping them into reasonable bite sizes, then simmering them in beef broth for several hours. They taste better, but it’s not really worth the labor or the four minutes it takes my men to consume them. We always eat the thicker Italian cut beans, as they are heartier and easier to stab. However, when the holidays roll around, we buy the French Style beans to make green bean casserole because America.

But these British lasses would never have celebrated Thanksgiving and probably never had a green bean casserole in their lives. In Texas, we don’t eat many casseroles; that’s more of a Midwest thang. But I love a good casserole, from spinach to broccoli rice to sweet corn. And I never pass up a side at Thanksgiving. I am an equal opportunity consumer. I don’t even care if the cranberries are cut into a slab of congealed jelly or fresh berries with orange zest and ginger. Either way works.

What about y’all? Are you picky? I’d eat any and all of these sides.