The Widdershins

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I spoke with my mom a couple of days ago to find out that the temperature in her area was the exact same as ours. 104. The difference is that I live in a desert where such high and higher temps are probable in the summer. I live in a region where people become acclimated to such heat, as well as learn to take care of themselves in such heat. My mother, now 73, along with, I would speculate half a million or more elderly people, are not prepared for such temps.

The drought has hit the Southern states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas the hardest. The native vegetation of pine trees are not prepared for this. I’m not talking about trees dying off. Though the pine beetles will have quite a crunchy feast because of the dryness. I’m talking about them serving as a match that is waiting to be struck.

Nearly 18 percent of our nation is experiencing abnormal to extreme drought, crop losses, and water shortages. In Texas alone, more than 2 million acres of farmland have been abandoned, which has affected cotton, corn, and grain crops.

Cattle are dying. And, for the shit kicker, from too much water. Ranchers move their herds from pastures where water tanks have dried to ones with better water supplies. Cattle then gorge themselves and die of water intoxication.

Though oysters would seem the least of our food source worries, the drought in Texas is killing off their freshwater crops. Texas was chomping at the bits to make up for the losses of other Gulf Coast states oyster crops due to both the BP oil gusher last year and the Mississippi river flooding earlier this year. Oysters are over a 200 million dollar industry for the Gulf region.

Though we have all pretty much been warned of the extremes that have been coming our way, it really is hard to know how we will all handle it until affects us personally. It is hard to grasp the accumulating affects until it hits our community. It is just the way we operate. Myself included.

I used to joke with my mom about moving to Arizona “along with all the other old people”. She has always responded, “I can’t live in a place without trees and water.” I did not joke with her the other day about any of that as I actually heard caution and concern in her voice.

When I want to check in to see what Hillary Clinton is up to around the world, I google search “h-i-l-l” and she pops up first on the list. If something major is going on around the world, a google search will produce the top shelf result with “h-i-l”. I noticed a couple of months ago, however, that a “h-i-l-l” often produced a top result of “hillsong united”.

What could be so important that out of 34,000 googles searches per minute Hillary was given the boot? Of course I was thrilled (not) after giving their search result a click to find it was a Pentecostal megachurch. My silly question of “What would Jesus do?” became, “Humm, would Jesus spamdex?”

Granted, Jesus would know nothing of such a form of, I suppose, what could be considered missionary work, and, no doubt, it would have saved the apostles some really dry and cracked heels, but, what the heck? So, being the (backslidden) missionary that I had planned on being, I walked my fingers into a forum where I had googled and found some of these Hillsong folk blogging for Jesus.

And, of course being the backslidden Fundamentalist, with a chip on my shoulder, that I am, I simply asked, “Would Jesus approve of spamdexing?” It took a couple of obnoxious postings on my part before anyone would answer, yes, my trolling question.

The answer I received was a doozy. “your delirious dude. Maybe they just happen to be one of the most popular christian music organizations on earth. Not everything is a darn conspiracy!!” I never said a darn word about Christian music.

After a search for hillsong+music I found out that one of the means that this church had grown mega was through advertising Christian musicians. No biggie. I still have some fond memories of “I’ll Fly Away” myself, but the “dude” spilled the beans. Typing in “Christian music” of course does not produce the google result of “Hillsong”.

Manipulation bugs the shit out of me. Not only is spamdexing literal manipulation of search engine results, but under the guise of “What would Jesus do”, I consider manipulation hypocrisy. I could only image a group of fumbling Fundamentalist fingers googling “Hillsong” over and over again to bust themselves to the top of the list.

My spirit rejuvenation place is located about an hour from the West Entrance from Yellowstone. Tucked away in scenic spot in Idaho, also about an hour away from the Montana border, sits Upper Mesa Falls. In the pic above, this would be looking down on the falls from about 500 feet above.

I fell in love with so much when my dear friend Wesley showed me the spot. As we were standing there at the tourist lookout, the first time I saw it, the first time I had been to Idaho, he said, “Do you want to go fish it?” My eyes got big in excitement and horror. The journey to the bottom of the falls is over and down volcanic boulders.

After, perhaps, 35 minutes or more to slowly get down, with fishing gear in hand, you are greeted by a natural spring that you would never know is there from above. Numerous springs flow into the river in this stretch of the Snake River. I always look back up as I am sitting there enjoying my spring water and think, “Oh my god, what have I just done? How am I going to get back up?”

About that time I hear a faint shout over the roar of the fall, “Fish on!” Wes has already got his line in the water. I jump up, grab the net, run the 80 or so feet down the river, over more rocks, to help land the fish, if Wes can hold on and if he really had one in the first place. I often get to be the beginning and end of a few jokes when I am there. Or, more than likely, Wes was just prompting me in his way to get up so we could go journey together.

Either way the companionship of excitement is rejuvenating too. To know his own wide-eyed middle age eyes have been on me when I caught my first rainbow trout has been much to fall in love with. To know his watchful eyes have been on me when I lost my footing on a slippery rock while fishing in the river has been an unspoken safety net. To know I can allow myself another human being and nature to soften my often hardened resolve is much to fall in love with.

About 8 hours later after hiking and fishing and exploring and savoring the river, I’m back at the same spot enjoying my spring water and the day and Wes and Mother Nature. Then I look back up and say aloud, “How the hell am I ever going to get back up?” I have said this for at least seven of these fishing trips now, and Wes has always answered, ‘You’ll be fine. It’s not a race. I’ll carry your rod.” The short conversation is always spoken as if we have never had it before.

As will be the case here for all of us when I return from vacation. We will resume our conversations. For now. Gone Fishing.

This is how how I feel about the Democratic Party. The feeling has only quickened since the Democratic primaries and inauguration of 2008. The cultist behavior invited an unqualified, but more so, a candidate and now president into the corridors of my mind and the collective conscious of our White House. Haunting has remained the residue.

I would like to think the deprograming is almost complete. My mind, still half way sane, thinks not. We called it koolaid. Now this seems trite. We call it reality. We have a health care bill that never allowed single payer at the table, ran over any future movement toward Medicare for all, then backed up the bus, clinching the deal with an Executive Order that has women pinned.

Social security has gone exactly where it was expected from a candidate that had already informed, “Everything is on the table”. A wealth of other invited guest have shown up at the party of common ground signing ceremonies, allowed through the front door, while the servants quarters, now overflow with indentured servants to corporatism, the merger of government and corporations.

Memories of the tears that streamed down the faces of civil rights advocates on the night of the Democratic Party acceptance speech, haunt and blur my eyes still. I cried that night too. I cried because I was happy for the black community of elder activists that had worked so hard, well before Obama came along, to fulfill equality in race within our executive branch of our government. My heart was with them.

I cried also in the loss of hope for change. “Let Them Eat Change” became one of my mottos, for pocket change is what most have. Being upset at all the numerous times that uninvited legislation has come our way has almost faded. What is left is a haunting. You were uninvited. The wedding party for the democratic party under the promises of a big tent have crashed the party as a whole.

I have been looking for words. Deeper than daily news and staged press briefings, sentiment more revealing than head line snippets. And, my mind is tired of analyzing how it all happened or processing the loss of all hope that the Democratic Party will ever again resemble the party of FDR. Social security and medicare are was the Democratic Party. Equal rights was just the fancy window dressing that kept us hanging on.

Uninvited. Infatuation. An infatuation with a charismatic person gone bad. Ids to the left of us. A superego on the right. And here we are stuck in the middle. With clarity I say. “You are not allowed.” The Democratic Party as it stands is uninvited into the corridors of my psyche. We are but an uncharted territory, stalked for a vote. Unlike the lyrics to Uninvited, I do think you unworthy.

As we watch our country throwing away our tired and pour and hungry, I honor my great grandmother on this most fine Feminist Friday around here at The Widdershins.

Widdershins means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun, to go counterclockwise or lefthandwise, or to circle an object by always keeping it on the left.”

It is with thoughts of my great grandmother that I know I embody the populist spirit. I have an achin’ feeling if our country continues on this backhanded path, we’ll all be rememberin’ how we can best serve each other “just the best we know how”.

As Beata worded it yesterday, we have now moved into the era of the “Screw Deal”. Huey P Long, raised in the same impoverished Parish as my great grandmother, surely is rolling over in his grave.

When he “gave up the ghost”, as my great grandmother would put it, he took the Democratic Party with him. The man never had one ounce of shame for speaking the words “redistribute the wealth.”

My mother and I were recently going back through some of her grandmother’s meager positions she felt proud to have. One was her Democratic Party registration card. Bless her heart.

She was born Edna XXXXXXX on December 7, 1890 to Mr. and Mrs. William XXXXXXX who lived on a farm in Grant Parish.  When she was seven months old, her father was killed. Eleven months later, her mother died.  She was passed around from relative to relative. No one ever saw to it that the child learned to read or write. In her words, “I grew up like a buzzard hatched on a stump. Just the best way I could. I lived with first one and then the other.”

She lived with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Madison XXXXXX, for quite a while. Mr. XXXXXX operated a gristmill in Winn Parish until around 1900. The mill was built straddling a creek which supplied the necessary water power. When the mill eventually ceased operation, it rotted away, but to this day, the creek, a church and a little community still bear the name of Mill Creek.

Upon the deaths of her grandparents, the young girl and her brother were again passed from home to home until at age fifteen, she met a young man named John XXXXXX. They courted for three years. She remembered her grandmother’s advice for young ladies. “When you are at a dance, never go into the gallery with a boy for a drink of water. He might insult you. Always take another girl along. Any girl who walked out with a boy, well, there wasn’t nothing to her.”

John pressed her to marry him. She refused and broke off the relationship. They met again six months later, made up their differences, and were married within a month. When she was fifteen, Edna XXXXXXX the homeless child, became Mrs. Edna XXXXXX, wife, mother of her own family and eventually the most prominent midwife in the Goldonna area.

All her life, Mrs. Edna waited on sick people. “It was just a gift from the good Lord. It just came natural, doctoring folks. I would wait on and cook for the sick, clean up their house for them. I never charged nothing for it. One man paid one time, but that was all. I never charged. Some folks do, but that ain’t right. It ain’t according to the Scriptures.”

Even though she couldn’t read and had no formal education, Miss Edna came to be depended upon by the families of the sick. Then when she was in her twenties, a man came to her for help. His wife was having a baby and there was no one else available. Without a word of argument, he unhitched the horses so she could hurry to the woman’s side.

She said, “I began to get nervous and I prayed, ‘Now Lord, you’ve got to help me cause you know I don’t know nothing.’  The child was born and the mother was fine. That was when I started catching (delivering) babies. I never lost a mother. There’s younguns that I caught that’s married and got children and grandchildren of their own now. I don’t know how many babies there was. I could recall fifteen there a while back. I know there was more but I can’t remember.”

As time went on, Edna and John had five children of their own, including a set of Siamese twins that were born prematurely and died. Even when a doctor was available, some women felt better knowing Miss Edna was there. One mother hemorrhaged badly. Miss Edna observed the doctor’s procedure closely and was able to treat excessive bleeding thereafter by herself. Eventually one doctor gave her a surgical needle and thread and taught her how to stitch lacerations.

When asked if she had any special procedure in “catching” babies, she replied,”I would examine the woman to see how far gone she was. If she was dilated as big as a quarter, I knew it wouldn’t be too long. The beds back then sagged so bad, it made it harder on the mother. So I usually put the mattresses on the floor. If the woman’s miseries were slowing down, you could give quinine or black pepper tea to make the pains harder. You know, we didn’t have much medicine back then. We just used what we had.”

From catching the newborns, it was a natural progression to doctoring sick babies. “One newborn was purple when they came after me. I didn’t think it would live. But the daddy had some water hot. I put the baby into a dishpan of warm water and rubbed it and rubbed it all over. Then I began to slap it, so I put it back into the water and began to rub it again. It lived, but I sure didn’t think it would.” Medicines for a sick baby were usually onion tea, wintergreen tablets, calomel or castor oil. Sometimes mothers and their sick babies just moved in with Miss Edna until the babies recovered.

John died and Miss Edna was alone again, but even in her old age she continued to help the sick. “The Lord’s helped me through. I wouldn’t have been here if He hadn’t. I think about it sometimes, how good He’s been to me and I just get so happy I can feel His presence going through me. I’ve shouted here by myself many a time.

Biden illustration: REBUILD WITH BIDEN

Nice picture of our gal

Madam Vice President

Our President


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