Our Autumn Hereabouts

My sweetheart Lietta sent me a list of fun things we might do for Labor Day around the community and this is what we did.There was an assortment of interesting activities, some, like a boat tour on Lake Pend Oreille seemed out of the question in that we would be competing with all those with holiday time to spend.

With such in mind we opted for three choices, two at Spokane Riverfront Park and the third  at Green Bluff.

We had been planning to do the Skyride for some time now so it seemed like a good appetizer before pigging out in the park. There are those who have called the Spokane Falls Skyride “overrated” in their online reviews. I suppose that – based on priorities of time (a hurry to get to the next excitement) or perhaps “spectacular- icity”  (this better be breathtaking!) or just plain thrilling (aw shucks, this ain’t nothing compared to Tremors and Aftershock out at Silverwood in the Panhandle) – that a gentle lazy take-a-break moment on the Skyride where “frenzy” comes to a halt 5 or 6 times over a 20 minute interlude can be scary; especially if one is left to their own thoughts while just literally “hanging out.”Course that would suggest that “entertain me” cause I’m no good at self-entertainment is the norm … and that would make no sense in a laid-back city where the rate race is most and mostly pronounced during traditional working hours when the city is in fact a business center.
The Skyride was break in the actuality of frequently pausing to let my physical senses dangle in space while my mental acuity and sense of pondering from the heights was amplified. I enjoyed that ride which incuded frequent peaceful loving glances of serenity in the eyes of my wife.

Once the soaring interlude had ended, we commenced a serious consideration of how we were going to briefly betray our membership in Our Sacred Church of the Paleo Dining Lifestyle  (from which I have lost almost 100 pounds in the last six months and have discovered without bending over that there are feet attached to the ends of my legs.)So many choices … so little time. We opted for a plate of 3 huge pizza slices that were thicker than brownies and loaded with pepperoni and cheese. Grain-based food is the biggest no-no in our Paleo church so we were seriously backslidden in dining on something we had been fondly pining for now for six months. The additional thrill for me was that in order to eat the pizza at one of the beer gardens, I had to show ID – they CARDED me! That was so much fun I went out and back through the gate three times just to get carded. Haven’t had that much fun since I was a teenager wearing a trench coat while driving the rest of the gang around in Idaho as the 16-year-old designated driver cause I had made myself a fake ID for buying beer and partying in nearby towns.

Why I was so thrilled to be carded that I drank almost a third of a glass of dark beer. And one young couple, when they saw the gate guard card us, asked us, “Are you kids having a good time behind your parents’ back?”

Actually, the Pigout in the Park offered a much greater variety of a more exotic nature than mere pizza and such choosing left us planning on a different approach  next year.

Finally it was time for us to find our car and head for Green Bluff out by Mount Spokane. Our objective was participation in the Green Bluff Peach Festival. I ignored my reliable navigator and headed out I-90 to the Argonne exit and headed north toward Mt. Spokane and Green Bluff. After a long detour to the East we finally arrived at the peach festival. The better route is definitely north out Hwy 2 toward Newport and turn Eastward near Mead.

At Green Bluff we settled on Eleven Acres Farm for our peach pickin … at $1.25 a pound. We grabbed a little pull wagon and loaded two-three boxes and headed for the peach trees. In no time we had two overflowing boxes and a small assortment of other produce. Two our surprise we had picked almost 25 pounds of peaches to take home.

Last night we heated a bunch of water and blanched enough peaches to slice and bag 4-5 freezer bags of peaches for our next few jugs of smoothie juice. Our Paleo eating regime encourages smoothies which we make from one banana, 3 cups of coconut or almond milk, a bag of frozen fruit and either guava/pineapple juice or cranberry juice depending on what kinds of frozen berries or fruit we are using that day. Our smoothies come out more like fruity “milk shakes” that we will drink mostly with paleo breakfasts and will usually last for three days of meals.

We also sliced enough peaches to completely fill our drying appliance and those dried peaches will be ready some time tomorrow morning. We gave away two bags of peaches to neighbors and have enough peaches left for one more batch of dried peaches.

Well it was a fun Labor Day that actually turned into more Labor than I anticipated. But in terms of the sheer pleasure of being out in the sun on a less than overheated day with plenty of sunshine … well in Spokane where we’ve only been living permanently now into our second year … it doesn’t get any better than that.

Happy Labor Day.

Curmudgeon At Work

Windmill Tilting

A few months ago I finished my 7th decade and embarked on the first year of my eighth. I seem to have come to a greater intimate friendship with more folks ahead of me than behind me. In fact, most folks behind me with whom I share something of an intimate relationship are family members. Most of those ahead of me are social friends connected with the neighborhood, my lodge (which has more younger members than older), the Order of the Eastern Star chapters and of course the local senior centers (In 3 of which we maintain membership.)

It’s the older ones who concern me; not because they are older and more frail, but because for the most part they remain enthused and animated about many of their life activities. I admit, I don’t know what goes on when they are not on a public “stage” and act without a public script in the privacy of their homes or marriages.

I guess that is what I do too. I have a public persona with which I inform most people of what I want them to believe me to be. However, only my dear Lietta knows what I’m really like in the intimate privacy of our home and marriage. I suppose that for the most part such things will remain private through our coming end times.

We’ve had a major transition in process going back to the time of my retirement now five years back. She used to ask me what I saw myself doing after retirement and insisted that I get used to the new mode by being off the clock and off the agenda for at least six months.

How did that work out? pitchforks-mob

Depends on how it is defined. Not having to go to work every day was wonderful and my most initial reaction was that each day felt like Saturday did when I was working.

Coping with the reality of fixed income and uncertainties of our future health was meaner.  This proved to be more provocative and stressful than I anticipated. Almost immediately I commenced awakening in the middle of the night and became conscious of the fact that I seemed to be counting money in my head in anticipation of meeting bills and making all the ends meet. It would be almost four years before I achieved an internal state that allowed me to get away from my thoughts … and that not necessarily completely.

Then of course the curse of awakening out of habit at 4:30 or 5:00 am – something I began doing years before retirement because for me the most creative and alive time of my mind was early in the morning. I would leave for work at 7:30 but by 8:30 my mind had essentially gone to the dull side as I labored in the public assistance office, from which I’d arrive home grateful to be with my wife but mentally exhausted.

That was in 2011.


Aging has its impacts

By the end of 2012 we had moved out of our 120-year-old home in Pacific County which had proven to be too much for us to repair and maintain on fixed income.  We were renting in Spokane.  We eventually moved into a condominium that has proven to be totally more enjoyable than we’d anticipated and in a small urban setting that totally elevated our community life as compared to retirement in a fishing village of 200 souls in Pacific County.

There have been ups and downs, wonderful experiences in the city and traveling about – especially camping and yurting during the summer months. We’ve driven back and forth to the West side of the state for family activities and to relatives in Idaho and Montana and have encountered interesting alternative locations that remain tempting and inviting.

However … back to a 70-year old body, mind and spirit. My health is quite good for my age. My dear one persuaded me to enter into what is called a paleo diet by which I have lost a lot of pounds, lowered my blood pressure significantly and have subsequently felt more “lubricated” as in a well-oiled functioning machine even if it is 7 decades old.

So why do I often awaken in the mornings with a sense of dread that seems to originate in the context of whatever I was doing in my dreams. It’s as if I woke up and suddenly remember that someone near and dear to me had passed on or that I would be going in that day for a root canal. Some sense of unease without having something specific about which to worry.

Actually, beyond a vague sense of dread or uneasiness, I’m more aware of losing interest in all the things I used to be driven about and planned on doing when my career wasn’t competing for my time and attention.

What’s with that? Good Bad Ugly and Doofus

Is this what aging is about?

I still love to read and write, blog on line, but other activities like sports don’t do for me what they once did. I used to gorge myself on fantasy baseball and basketball and in some years maintained upwards of 20 separate teams at sites like Yahoo Fantasy and ESPN Fantasy Sport. I’m down to 8 teams which is not something facetious for me and that’s enought to hold my interest.

The most consistent interest that seems self-sustaining in my love of music and enjoyment of playing the piano. Lietta gifted me with a second instrument, something I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s a recorder, made of wood, plays mostly like a clarinet and is best played gently. No hard blowing as in saxophone or clarinet both of which I played well in high school. With some motivation from my siblings (Randy and Adrian Ruger) last April, I’ve upgraded my piano-playing and find myself serenading my sweetheart with a bunch of new songs as well as all the old pieces I’ve played for her for years.

I composed a piece for her as part of our wedding gifts to each other in 1996 and am of a mind to compose more. As for the recorder, I want to learn to play it the way Native American musicians such as Coyote Oldman play it. With available electronics I can play along with any piece I can find and am looking forward to it.

16 years ago while on vacation, I began writing poetry using what for me was a mystical device combining two separate phrases from my collections of thoughts and quotes. My poetry is mostly lyrical and I’m drifting more to writing poetry as competition to my not-running-down desire to write.

I’ve authored a historical novel and an assortment of blog articles and that part of me has not faded much. I still want to write on spiritual matters and opine about what’s going on in the world.

I’ve come to think of aging as an awareness and experience of my body and mind getting older and possessing the right to slow down, get rusty, start aching and creaking along. Arthritis is my daily companion but it is not now and does not seem to be on a path to debilitating pain, discomfort and ability.

I thought I’d lost my hearing in one ear but a visit to the VA medical center corrected that with a cleaning of a large wax deposit that had accumulated with my constant abusive use of Q-tips. I had concluded that as I got older, my hearing was disappearing.

Not so. Silly Section captain-picard-facepalm

Energy and stamina aren’t what they used to be my wife and I know I will never single-handedly move us from one location to another again.

So I still get up early, sometimes in a bad or sad mood, warm up as soon as my sweetheart awakens smiles and me and rings the bell I gave her as a signal to bring coffee, come back to bed, and read our electronic devices like smart phones and kindle.

I’ll get chores done during the day, cook a meal or two, and fall asleep in the afternoon in my recliner and again in the evening while watching a TV program before bedtime.

Growing Old Ain’t What I Thought It Would Be.


Now I’m waiting for a gaggle of acquaintances to sober up


Egotists like me write obnoxious stuff or otherwise stuff

Curmudgeon At Work

Curmudgeon At Work

Our ego continues to lead so long as we seek to be understood, to gain recognition for our views, or attempt to vindicate ourselves. It also remains in control if we defend ourselves, make pacts (to always act, think or speak in a fixed way when certain conditions occur), or steel ourselves against what might or might not happen.

In doing these things we hedge, doubting that the Creative will come to our defense. Even though others may wish to change, or relate to us in a better way, they remain resistant because they sense our doubt and defensiveness. So long as our ego is able to control us we remain unreliable. – Carol Anthony

On Civics, Politics and How ya Gonna Vote?


Me and Politics:

Politics is a slimy business but something we’re stuck with. Back in my younger days I remember reading about how lots of folks from both parties thought Chrysler chairman Lee Iaccoca would make a great president but old Lee flat out turned em down … cause politics is a slimy business and slimier today than it was back then.

What are ya?
Gimme the label you’re tryin to live by.
? Democrat? Republican? Conservative? Liberal? Somewhere’s else?
Not-a-damn giver?

No labels … soon as you do … you’ve proposed a definition of yourself that is imagined in the mind of those to whom you reveal your label. Don’t do it.

Believe what you believe in all its variety and across all the spectrums. Tie yourself down to a label and most folks will perceptually hold you to the label.

That being said, I have been a registered Democrat from sometime after the invasion and sacking of Iraq until the end of the mid-term elections in 2006. At that point with a majority in Congress, I figured the Dems wouldn’t need my help coping with the non-wise governance of a tin horn Howdy Doodie and the rubber-stamp congress that functioned for Doodie from 2000 to 2006.

What happened after 2006 is between the Dems, Repubs and Amercian voters … not my affair anymore. I unregistered from the Democratic Party in 2006 and have had no connections since then … although I’ve reacted more positively partial to Dem positions than Republican positions. But neither party’s talking points do much to clarify civic issues.

Talking points: the stuff of spin doctors who are at least one step below lawyers on my scale of respectability.

I grew up in Mormon Country before it became the domain of the Republican Party after I left home. I am the son and grandson of folks who regularly voted Democrat or Republican according to whether they thought a good man or woman was running.

I do remember my Congressional District voted Ralph Harding (the Democrat) out of office in the 60’s because that honest man had the gall to question the relationship between future Mormon apostle and later Prophet Ezra Taft Benson and the John Birch Society (Benson’s son was the at one time was the national director of public relations for the John Birch Society.)

Didn’t matter how statesman-like my Congressman was. He spoke ill of the Lord’s Anointed and you can’t do that in Mormon Country without consequences.

Personally, although only 17 and in no way knowledgeable or sophisticated about politics and parties, I still thought that was chicken shit on the part of those who voted against Harding for that reason.

I recall the time when my interest in politics was something akin to but less than my intense interest in the NBA, MLB and the NFL. The winners and losers in local, state and national elections were mostly a matter of “Did the person I like win or lose?” There was very little if any interest on my part in initiatives, law-making or the rising and falling fortunes of our political parties.

Now I’m an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970’s when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn’t. Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my “other priorities.”

Somewhere downstairs I’ve got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There’s a bunch of ribbons down there in a glass jar where sometime I’ll go down and look at them. There’s an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There’s little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They’re all down there to prove I went and did.

When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn’t about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda – mad about her movie Barbarella and its flaunting R-rated morals-challenged images which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. Oh,  and I was incensed by her Hanoi activities.

Funny how time changes perspectives. My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1968 I deliberately refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them.
What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I’m embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn’t do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a retired and stay-at-home repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.  I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on forgiveness. Most veterans have seen enough in life to know that there’s not much useful in taking an “I’ll never forgive you for that!” attitude in most areas of life.

No, I’m not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and served 2 more in the reserve. 29 years later, I’m still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.


By 2000 I realized that my veteran’s instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in George W. Bush. He’s my age and I could never vote for anyone who at best was no smarter than me. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn’t get nominated. I voted for Gore, the military veteran.

By the time George W. invaded and occupied Iraq and lied to me and you in order to get away with it, I was having problems with the political behavior in this country that now seemed more important than the Red Sox beating the Yankees.

When my wife Lietta took off for Texas to help Cindy Sheehan beat up on George Bush, I also decided to get involved … as a citizen … rather than a party partisan.  This despite the fact that my dissent and opposition to a sitting president almost demanded that I support the opposition party’s candidates and issues – to the degree I could stomach them and could stomach their lack of stomach for a fight.

I soon learned that lock-step support of a sitting president and publicly patriotic loyalty grandstanding had very little to do with civic responsibility and holding the government responsible. I was in good company .. folks like Tommy Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight the Eisenhower.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. -President Thomas Jefferson

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. – President  Theodore Roosevelt

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -President Theodore Roosevelt

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionist and rebel men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. -President Dwight Eisenhower

Good enough for me. So I began public dissent and never regretted it. Didn’t stop no wars, didn’t get anyone indicted or impeached and didn’t impact the outcome of any elections.

But … I felt good about myself for trying, for taking a stand and for standing for something of merit.

Bush’s 2004 re-election after all those manipulative antics and with the help of religious and social conservatives was a shock for me. It taught me things about American voters as a group and their diminished or absent attention spans that I’ve never forgotten. Predominantly republican congresspersons, television commentators and talk-show jocks all acting and speaking almost in lock step synchronicity, saying the same things and sticking almost sickeningly to the same talking points and slogans left me with a vulgar and foul taste in my mouth.

Democratic voices were mostly mealy-mouthed and seemed almost afraid to throw down any gauntlet against what I began calling the Kindergarten Konservative Klamor.

By 2008 there was no visible republican worthy of my vote and perhaps with one or two exceptions the democrat would get my vote. For me the eventuality was either Hilary or Obama and when McCain nominated the Konservative Kindergarten Kween my voting choice was going to be totally obvious.

Again here I am, So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

Here I sit at my keyboard … reminding myself why I got involved when one president and his administration lied their way to all those dead soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

I want to rephrase a few things I wrote about a president in 2005 and expand the subject to include the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.

In 1968 when I enlisted I had a rough idea of what I was getting into.

That “rough idea” was based on trust … trust in a system and, ultimately, trust in a specific leader and a specific governing political party. The specific leader of course was LBJ, the specific party was the Democratic Party and the specific system was and is the system that allows us to hang our political opinions on buttons and sanctimonious drapery of stars and stripes from which we belch our prejudices.

When you sign up you endorse a contract on the bottom line. It’s a contract with specified written obligations on the part of both parties, but also with unspecified but powerful assumptions on the part of both parties.

In the case of joining the military knowing what you are getting into is based on very powerful unwritten but nationally accepted assumptions:

(1)  The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC’s skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm’s way.
As a volunteer you are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities – with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver’s seat.

(2)  As a volunteer you are at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda’s and ideologies;
hat leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.

(3)  Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect – with your own power and will – the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn’t volunteering to keep a political party in power.

The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC. The troops are expected to trust the CIC’s wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.

The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.

The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.

That is what is going on right now.

The politicians have demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time when leadership is needed.

We have civic responsibilities that include critical thinking, striving for common sense and an ability to wade through or ignore bullshit so we can help do something about the bullshitters. If I could fire and replace them all I would … but I can’t. However, there’s no requirement to sit quietly in the tavern while the blowhards waste everybody’s time and money with political silliness. We ought to stand up to grand-standers, bullies and drugstore cowboys – no matter the color of the ice cream on their boots.

   “We proved the lie, were served up with a gagging portion of our own vintage distillation of apocalyptic horseshit
— all the narcissistic swill about indomitable spirit, invincibility, courage and nobility of purpose
— and demonstrated once and for all to those who looked on with interest a fact long suspected:
that this nation, through a self-administered indoctrination of spurious righteousness, larded with the false rewards of superfluous luxury, had at last achieved the most tractable, malleable — let’s face it, spineless — people to walk the face of the earth.”
– Aptly described by Oliver Lange in Vandenberg – The Journals, 1971

That’s why I’m taking my mind off the shelf and going back to the scuffle.

It seems to be what makes me feel good about myself for trying. 


Poetry In Motion


Things I wrote 14 years ago when retirement was never gonna get here.

My Secret Thoughts

Thoughts are the blueprints from which my words flow;
the source of the questions of what I would know

about life’s many lessons and where I fit in
to wend on the arduous path where I’ll win

the gifts of sweet Wisdom who shares willingly
with those who seek goodness and what that might be.

My thoughts drive my words which provide me a tool
to bring to reality what gives me rule

and a sense of relationship with all the lives,
the knowing of such is all that life gives.

© Arthur Ruger, 2000

The Form and Substance of Idleness

The body becomes idle by command of the soul
thru the mind and thinking that’s part of the whole.
Tis fear and doubt that hampers the will
by accepting an emptiness work might fulfill.

The Mother of all’s a great teacher with time
for planting and reaping a harvest sublime
in coming to know there’s a time and and place
to work or to idle with lack of disgrace.

Disgrace of the spirit’s what weakens our souls
leaving famine and drought to carve large gaping holes
in the form and the substance of quality life
torn to wavering shreds by the unholy knife.

When form becomes rigid, the style follows suit
and lazy is born out of idleness’s root
to thrive as a cancer giving rise to the doubt
that it’s better to work than to make do without.

The mind in its home is reluctant to quit
so long as to work is to make our life fit,
for the time and the seasons with wisdom we’ll know
that from idle to lazy is against Nature’s flow.

The garden of spring still awaits its renewal
tho summer be here, the unplowed has no jewel.
How long will you go with the soil left untilled
distracted by trivia with no purpose filled.

While anger doth dim the light’s life-giving boon
does reason enlighten to brightness of noon.
Take reason abroad where the field lies inert
unturned and unused serving nothing but dirt.

Turn over your anger and then plant the seeds
that reason facilitates in meeting your needs
to overcome idleness beset so with fright
by working your land from the dawn until night.

With reason and love you must plant your desire
to blossom with nourishment undimmed by your ire
and free to break forth to a joyous age
ignited by love quite untrammeled by rage.

Your wisdom bears fruit as by reason you’re wise
and discern where your passion expresses no lies.
To be idle in sulking will no harvest bring.
No time to be wasted with anger as king.

Make peace with your brother, let bygones be bye
for life’s much to short to live mad, then to die.

© Arthur Ruger, 2000



Silly Section captain-picard-facepalm

In the bad old days … pre-retirement days … I used to wake up some times in the middle of the night feeling some kind of dread, uneasiness or just plain worried.

Whether dealing with difficult issues at work, a house that constantly needed maintenance or merely counting money all the time in order to keep the wolf from having puppies in our living room, I absolutely hated waking up in the middle of the night to some dread.

I mentioned it to my VA doctor after I retired and she had only one suggestion, don’t drink much after 5:00 pm and try to avoid getting up to tinkle in the middle of the night.

Right …

Well, now that we are into our lifestyle, I drink liquids late in the evening at my own risk. I know that I will probably have to answer the tinkle bell and may or may not struggle to fall back asleep. Not as much as I used to however.

The one thing … I still wake up ready to get up at 5:00 a.m. which I did when I was working. So I try to force myself back to sleep, generally by counting slowly down from 100 or up from 0  and drifting off around half way. But it no longer comes with some unknown or known dread or worry … unless worrying about not sleeping through for 8 hours can be called dread.

I’m reminded of an 85-year old friend who lives on Willapa Bay and who said he wakes up every night around 3:00 a.m., goes in the living room and watches 1-2 episodes from the inspiration channel and falls asleep or goes back to bed.

My sweetheart will sometimes find herself awake with her thoughts, not so much worrisome thoughts but what she calls “churning” where the mind thinks its time to be busy so it is.

Before we fall asleep every night, we are in the habit of watching an episode from some old comedy series on one of  our Kindle Fires. We watched all the Frasier episodes, Northern Exposure, Coach and are working our way through Cheers and  3rd Rock From the Sun which, when it’s over, we’ll probably start watching Mash. We usually make it through a single episode but sometimes when I know she is asleep I end it in mid-episode and we take it up again the next night.

So right now, if we find ourselves awake, we rely on John Lithgow as Dick Solomon (3rd Rock) to put us back to sleep … although sometimes we laugh so hard we had to see another episode cause we are still wide awake.

When we’ve seen all the episodes from 3rd Rock, mayhap we’ll check out South Park. It’s been recommended.

Bottom line is “Up in the Night” comes with our retirement territory and no longer feels like an omen of bad mental health.

Tall Tales


Grandpa Doofus

Well, I’ll tell ya… South Bend boasts about be’in the “Oyster Capital a the World” and to quote a famous westerner from over in the Rockies in Utah, when it comes to oysters, “This is the place, Bub!”Why they GROW em here! They don’t just go traipsin out in the Willapa Bay with their little boaties an some sorta quipment ta scoop and snag em offa the bottom of the Bay. Oh no!!

They grow em in oyster beds not to fer from the processin plants themselves. An I don’t think them oysters is lollygaggin in no “bed an breakfast” — their doin their jobs and growin, obeyin the oyster farmers like corn and wheat obeys the farmers. An when them oysters is up past pooberty or whatever they naturally git past, they git harvested.

Memorial Day around these parts is more’n just honor’n the soldiers and sailors. Here they honor the oysters, callin it the “Oyster Stampede.”

I got caught in a oyster stampede once while I was drivin along 101 just this side a South Bend. Them there oysters was a stampedin in full gallop across the highway and there wasn’t gonna be no stoppin fer no highway traffic. I slid on ma brakes but was too late and I crunched ten or twenty of the little critters.

I hit one direct with my front left tire and you could see that oyster’s stunned look when he went squirtin outta his half shell and smacked into the side of the local oil dealer’s shed.

The others just kept comin across the highway and bein dareful an challengin me to hit em. Can’t do that though cause by whackin oysters you’re a harmin the town’s source a income and you’re more’n likely ta wind up in the slammer fer that than fer be’in drunk and disorderly at one a them taverns in town.

And elk? Boy we got em! There’s a town smaller’n Bankrupt, Idaho, out on Highway 6 that goes by the name a Frances. The elks must a had some ancestor elk named Frances cause they hang out there almost all winter. One or two folks out there’ll tell ya they talk to the elk.

There’s a road, Elk Prairie Road, that cuts off to the right as you’re driving through Frances. That road loops around behind Frances and comes back to Highway 6 on the other side. About half way around on Elk Prairie Road, some feller years ago left a purty white commode along side the road. Musta been his idea of a rest stop like they got on that big freeway east a Pe El.

Anyway, that commode is truly white and clean-lookin and the only thing we can figure is that the elk must think it’s a salt lick and are keepin it clean without knowin that they’re doin it.

I heard talk at the tavern in Lebam bout changin the name of that road to “Commode Road” and then to make things square with the elk and with the help of the Frances folks, they’d add a definer-type phrase to the town sign so it says “Welcome ta Frances, where the Elk’s speak up and folks listen.”

Well, that’s all I got to say tonight. Me an my little woman are gonna have supper then set up the card table and play a little Combat Scrabble. Til later this is Jake Turnrose sayin so long.

by Arthur Ruger
© 2000
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Myth, Herds and Freemasonry

Freemason Civic Duty

Why Can’t We All Just Agree?

Having been accused of being a liberal far more times than a conservative, I’m drawn again to the impacts of what professionals refer to as “socialization” where communities,   cultures – even celebrities without credentials – strongly influence the general attitudes in place.

There are areas of my community, of my county and state that are in many ways strongholds of political or social philosophies with which I am not in total harmony, but none contain individuals whose opinions render them unworthy of my regard or respect.

I was nurtured and grew to adulthood inside a culture – both social and geographic – that has tended in recent years to combine social and political conservatism into one identity. Living outside that culture now for most of 40 years, I’m still drawn emotionally to some of the feelings and values that I carried with me when – unknowingly as a young missionary – I left the area, never to call it home again.

Just as I’ve mentioned to those who have assumed that I am socially and politically “liberal,” I struggle sometimes to relate to friends and family whom I assume to be “conservative” when in fact the label may be totally meaningless.

Whether we admit it or not,  every definition of life we possess is an assumption. Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.

Our assumptions are the authors of our own story, that personal mythology from which we navigate our lives.

Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox years ago addressed this subject with excellence and I have paraphrased their writing to discuss what in essence are the different herd mentalities that inform who we are, perhaps who we used to be, and who we might become.

Our assumptions are usually based on that informal and formal set of teachings from which we authorized our answers to the following questions:

Where did I come from?

Why is there evil in the world?

What happens to me when I die?

With whom do I belong?

How close should I be to others?

What are my obligations?

What is taboo and to be avoided?

Whom should I imitate?

Who are the heroes, villains, enemies and allies?

What are the stages along life’s way?

What is disease?

How can I be healed?

What should we do with bounty and surplus?

What is our relationship with nature and the animals?

Why do we do the things we do with the feelings that we feel?

In so doing are we vitalized or bleeding away emotional energy? And does what we do leave us feeling validated or merely accepted?

Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story, all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.

“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another.

Defenders of religious creeds use the word “myth” to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying

“Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”

What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions?

How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?

Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught that the real  world is defined by our personal societal culture rather than how we’ve discovered the world to actually be?

Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to

“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.

The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”

A society lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are. Do we belong to the majority who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding “truths” – myths – of their own group?

As Keen implies,

” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”

I also like this quote from Carl Jung:

“I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’, and found that I did not know. So … I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks … I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.” -C.G. Jung, The Portable Jung

In a herd, members usually instinctively choose behavior that corresponds to that of the majority of other members. They do this through imitation, mimicry, citations or quotes as “authority”.

people often do and believe things merely because many other people do and believe the same things. The effect is often called herd instinct. People tend to follow the crowd without examining the merits of a particular thing.

As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. – Wikipedia

Herd behavior as a social study can describe how individuals in a group can act together without planned direction. There need not be strict control from upper echelon or hierarchy – individual cultural members tend to be the strictest enforcers of cultural norms and group-think. Herd behavior includes spontaneous moments such as riots, demonstrations and protests. However, herd behavior manifests itself consistently at religious gatherings, sporting events and organization meetings.

Where do I as a Mason find place in all this?

Lewis Monical, a Past Grand Master in Arizona, wrote the following (courtesy of Masonic World website):

In the first degree, we are charged to be true to our government and just to our country.  From Morals and Dogma we are told: “This degree teaches us that no free government can long endure, when the people cease to select for their magistrates the best and the wisest of their statesmen; when, passing these by, they permit factions or sordid interests to select for them the small, the low, the ignoble and the obscure, and into such hands commit the country’s destinies. There is, after all, a ‘divine right’ to govern; and it is vested to the ablest, wisest, best, of every nation.

“A democratic government undoubtedly has its defects, because it is made and ad-ministered by men, and not by the Wise Gods.  It cannot be concise and sharp, like the despotic. When its ire is aroused it develops its latent strength, and the sturdiest rebel trembles.  But its habitual domestic role is tolerant, patient, and indecisive. Men are brought together, first to differ, then to agree. Affirmation, negation, discussion, solution; these are the means of attaining truth.”

Our present government is seen by many to be crumbling into ruin, It has lost much of its effectiveness because Americans have lost trust in it. The crisis has been long in the making.  Long before the present flagrant corruption and moral bankruptcy in our government, it was axiomatic with sophisticated citizens that first-rate people seldom make a career of politics.

Because we have entrusted civil government to men of mediocre ability and shabby morality, we now have the reverse of what we want, yet we’re “asking for it” by our cynicism.

This nation has reached a point in distrust of government beyond which it must not let itself drift apathetically any longer. We now have two apparent options: (A) Let “government of the people, by the people and for the people” run right on down the drain; or (B) take a full turn-about and return to the kind of government our forefathers designed for us.

If the choice is Option A, there will be a time of anarchy and chaos. Then the “Savior of the Republic” will ride up to the “rescue. ” Government will be restored with a vengeance, and it will be for the people, but not of and by them. Nations drift into despotism and dictatorship. As Chesterton said: “A despotism is a tired democracy.”

If the choice is Option B, it will be up to Masonry, the church, and other institutions which influence the public mind to re-educate the nation about the worth and dignity of public service in government. It is a truism and a notorious fact that a nation gets the kind of political leaders it deserves; and its deserts are determined by its expectations and demands. If we expect third-rate people and demand nothing better, that’s what we get. If what we get in the end is Option A, it will be because in that fleeting moment, when we were still free to choose, we wrung our hands and said: “Well, that is politics. It’s a dirty game, so we have to put up with the dirty people who play it for the rest of us. Who wants a saint in the White House? ”

Masons today, especially the younger ones, desire to act together as a Fraternity, not as individuals only. We have fostered this idea in DeMolay and continued it in our own Craft.  Historically, Masonry steers a wide path from involvement as a Fraternity, but as individuals, we do the Fraternity a great disservice if we do not involve ourselves in the task of bettering our schools, our community and our government.

We return to the definition of the problem.  How can our beloved Craft find its way out of this predicament without radical change?  Radical change is not desirable, nor is it necessary.

Nothing forbids the members of the Craft from joining others within the Masonic family to act in civic duties. From Morals and Dogma again: “Masonry is action and not inertness. It requires its initiates to work, actively and earnestly, for the benefit of their Brethren, their country, and mankind. It is the patron of the oppressed, as it is the comforter and consoler of the unfortunate and wretched…. It is the advocate of the common people in those things which concern the best interest of mankind…. Its fidelity to its mission will be accurately evidenced by the extent of the efforts it employs, and the means it sets on foot, to improve the people at large and to better their condition. “

A diverse culture will by definition have a diverse set of values, assumption and yes, mythological stories ranging from origin to culmination.

It is only when we assume that we individually or as members of a specific culture have the one true point of view and morality that we in fact weaken the whole of our entire society.