American Elephants

The American Food Supply! by The Elephant's Child
December 31, 2022, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Politics

Last day of a singularly unremarkable year. Russia and Ukraine at war, a confusing conflict over who is going to be in charge of what. Ukraine is noted as the ‘breadbasket’ of Europe, which causes other countries some concern. The press, always looking for a juicy story, got somewhat carried away with threats of food shortages and hunger, but that has dwindled away.The folks who are selling long term cans of food for 25 years or so, are advertising like mad, but I don’t know how many people are falling for their pitch.

America has the most opulent supply of plentiful food in their ordinary grocery stores of probably any country in the world, so it’s pretty hard to scare people. I assume that most people have a good supply in their pantries, and few have to rely on a few cans saved for security. I have no idea. I grew up 9 miles from the nearest grocery store, with highways that were sometimes impassable in the winter, so being prepared comes naturally. We never had a food garden. Here, suburban housewives usually grow some specific things like tomatoes. Some have more complete food gardens, as you can see from the offerings in the food sections of Home Depot and other similar stores.

I’ve never stopped to analyze just how many days we could get through without more groceries, but it’s weeks rather than days, and it’s not like the nearest grocery store was 9 miles away today. This is a Seattle suburb! A lot of people still live a long way away from a grocery store. But a lot of people still do a lot of canning, sometimes because they have a productive garden. Some communities feature farm garden sales in town in the summer, The American food supply is opulent and inviting.

Apartment people have different problems, but most suburbs here have farm sales once a week somewhere in town. Don’t know if that is common across the country.

December 28. Almost Done With 2022! by The Elephant's Child
December 29, 2022, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Politics

It is 4:42 P.M. in a Seattle suburb, and almost dark. Sky is gradually darkening, and it will quickly be night. Any signs of “winter” such as a teeny bit of snow hiding in the shade are long gone. My neighborhood (at least the portion I can see from my second story window) show no signs of remaining Christmas lights. Clearly it’s January and a new year. Christmas and New Years are over, and the next holiday is Valentine’s Day? That’s just cards and candy, and unimpressive. Everyone has to get out of the Holiday mindset and get back to their normal routine. The Internet needs to come up with something of interest, and they are clearly still looking desperately for something, anything.

Pitch black out. When the sun retires, it’s really, really black out. This always seems to me to be a very unsettled time of year. Everybody is kind of waiting to see what turns up, what is dominant, what matters. Our minds were consumed with Christmas, trees and presents, and then New Year’s parties — and waiting to see what takes shape. Commercials don’t seem to have much to offer. We probably spent too much on Christmas and aren’t prepared to sign up for more spending just yet. Some, who took a vacation for Christmas, have to return to work. People let things that didn’t need to be done immediately go, over the holiday season, but now they have to be done. That kind of thing. At the same time, everyone is trying to adapt to a New Year with new expectations and unknown problems hanging around out there. Unsettled.

Living on a Hill! by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2022, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Politics

I have mentioned that I live on the East-facing side of a hill in a Seattle suburb. Have a view out my second story window far to the South, that is remarkably uninteresting. There is often a flickering light far off to the South, completely unidentified. No radio towers, no airports, no industry. Annoying that I cannot figure out what it is. See and identify planes in the distance, but flickering lights are beyond me. It ‘s a fairly timbered area, which does not help identifying anything whatsoever.

Had a lovely Christmas, our tree is beautiful, with special ornaments. Who could resist glass pickles, Santa Clauses in kilts (celebrating our Scottish ancestry) and sleds and toboggans. Everybody has their own Christmas traditions, and it’s fun to haul them out once a year. A pain in the neck waiting for the tree to become more of a fire-hazard than is acceptable, and having to take it all apart and put it away for another year.

I need, I think, some kind of Christmas ending ceremony. Something better than worrying about it becoming a fire hazard. New Years should do it, but that season has become more alcoholic than fun, and too infested with resolutions and vows to do better in some unintelligible way. I’m not big on vague promises to be a better person, perfect as I currently am.

It always seems like there should be some New Year starting thingy, which is not satisfied by New Years Eve Parties. It has never seemed to me to be any kind of celebratory beginning of something new and wonderful, but more of a downer.

Christmas and New Years and Weather, Oh My! by The Elephant's Child
December 28, 2022, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Politics

I keep thinking about the Midwest folks who have retired and moved to Florida for the warmer winter weather, and wondered how they are adapting to beaches and sun at Christmas time. I have no idea whether it is deliciously welcome, or a matter of major homesickness.

President Biden has gone off to the Virgin Islands for sun and sand. I can understand a vacation from Winter, since for many people winter weather is a pain in he neck, and winter driving even more so. But there are some of us who miss Winter, snow and ice and all that the season brings.

Christmas has come and gone, without a drop or flake of snow any longer visible. That’s what one gets in a Seattle suburb, and most people are undoubtedly grateful. After all if you are anxious to see snow, you can just drive up to the pass. And city snow is a general pain in the neck. Slick streets, wet snow thumping in the roof all night. I just miss Christmas at home in Idaho.

Yes, I am homesick. Nice quiet Christmas, coming up on a nice quiet New Years. I’ve never particularly appreciated New Years. For many it’s a riotous, hungover day but I’ve never really participated.

We tried one year at home to move our river rocks around to create a skating pond, but it was pretty much a flop, since the main purpose of the pond was to have ice thick enough to cut for the icehouse, full of sawdust to keep the ice preserved for the summer months. Harvesting the ice was a full day or more of cutting the ice into blocks and hoisting them into the icehouse and burying them in enough sawdust to last through the warm months. Complicated but exciting operation. Something left over from ancient days. It was some time before we got Idaho Power. We produced our own electricity with a dammed pond, a power house and electric lines. Had to go up early in the morning to close the dam, and start the pond filling up again.

What small amount of snow we had is long gone, the last traces kept dropping on my bedroom roof all night. I must be a real pain in the neck around Christmas and New Years, missing snow and ice and freezing weather. A farmer near our closest town had a pond. It was known as Leek’s Pond, and during freezing weather, the town turned out to build a nearby bonfire and everybody ice skated, nobody either skillfully or gracefully. But it was exciting when the whole town turned out.

The Brand-New New Year! by The Elephant's Child
December 27, 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Politics

I’ve never learned to celebrate the New Year, or for that matter, New Year’s Eve. I guess people welcome a new year in hopes that it will be an improvement over the past one. I can’t remember ever going to a New Year’s Eve Party, or even feeling that a “brand New Year” might be possibly better than the previous one. Not a cynic, I think, just don’t think a “first day” on the calendar is a big deal, nor worth celebrating. Don’t expect anything especially different than the previous week or month on the calendar. Events are seldom propelled by their location on a brand new calendar. Haven’t seen as many offers for pretty calendars this year, either. But then I haven’t been to our main shopping mall for some time either. Didn’t go at all this last year. I wonder to what extent online shopping has harmed the business of shopping malls? Probably quite a bit. But then I have never enjoyed shopping, but regard it as an unpleasant chore. And when you don’t go to malls, you get no feedback on how they are doing, except by the small shops that vanish.

I do enjoy finding the “perfect gift” for family and friends, but the act of shopping, which many people find pleasurable, is an unpleasant chore for me. Don’t mind malls off season, but with Christmas crowds, shopping online is way more pleasurable. I assume from the proliferation of online stores, that a lot of other people don’t like shopping either. That suggests a lot of change down the road of online shopping offerings as stores try to respond to customer wishes. I guess there are a lot of people who do actually like to shop. I’m not one of them.

Online stores haven’t done much research on how to make the online ordering process more inviting process either, and we’ve had a lot of foul-ups with their ordering systems and/or the Post Office as well. Had a vigorous problem with mailbox theft for a while, but an expensive locking mailbox solved that. The Post Office does not look kindly upon mailbox theft and penalties include terms in federal penitentiaries, which would probably be more unpleasant than anything one might find in someone else’s mailbox.

Stores have not done a good job either, with learning how to make their offerings look inviting, online. That’s a system slowly making changes that will change our experience of online shopping as well. and eventually damage the business of malls. Lots and lots of small meaningless changes often add up to dramatic change. People will still want to try on clothes before they buy them, see how they look and fit. but I’m not sure they actually like going to a mall. Things change dramatically, but we seldom notice while it is going on. Just suddenly one notices that everything is different. Time marches on.

The”Twelve Days of Christmas” End January 5! by The Elephant's Child
December 26, 2022, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Politics

Does anyone celebrate twelve days? I’ve never paid much attention to the idea of “12 days”, nor noticed if anyone else was. But apparently that’s a big deal. My computer tells me that there are over 40 books about the Twelve Days of Christmas currently on the market. Who knew?

Another member of the family got a book that outlines the vastly increased prices of books about the 12 days, and also the vastly increased prices of anything relating to Star Wars. One apparently needs to keep track of past fashions, for those whose lives were affected by Star Wars now want “memorials,” Prices for those are really going up.

I suppose that’s just normal. People who served in WWII, read about their war, and people who live near a Civil War battlefield want books about the Civil War. The other end of that, is that the books written about WWII by those who participated in the battles are eager for good accounts and those who didn’t participate also want recommended accounts. I would assume that books by those who participated in WWII are of far more interest than those who are just interested in history, but I don’t know if that is true. There’s a lot of fashion in books as well as the things we usually think of when the word “fashion’ comes up. The prices being offered for currently fashionable books is startling. I’m a major reader, but I do not read what is currently fashionable, never occurred to me. I guess there are a lot of readers who want others to know that they are “keeping up,”and very currently informed. I’ve never read to be “with it”, but just to learn. Too little time, too many books to read.

Wishing You All A White Christmas! by The Elephant's Child
December 24, 2022, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Politics

Here in a Seattle suburb, it rained last night, and wiped out any signs of a “White Christmas”. No snowy roofs, trees, only some small traces in spots that are not receiving any rain. Some branches that are not exposed to the rain are still white, but not for long, and not pretty anyway. The sky is a uniform blah, no particular color. Still seeing bright twinkling lights far off to the South. I’m assuming that’s more a sign that I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor, than anything perfectly normal going on out there, but I really have no idea. I guess one could call it a mild drizzle, but that’s probably a bit of a glorification.

Since it has rained enough to dispose of any remnants of a brief snowy Christmas, there is not a sign remaining that it ever snowed. I do have a bit of a hard time without snow at Christmas, because that is what I was accustomed to all my life, as well as a fabulous sledding hill. I still cling to my Flexible Flyer, though I haven’t been able to use it for years. I live on a dandy hill, with the potential for extending the ride from my steep hill on down to the park in a good year. Been a long time since we had enough snow to actually use the sled. But it was worse in California and Arizona with not enough snow for anything whatsoever, even looking pretty. I lived in California too many years and learned to genially loathe the state. Usually very bad governance, and in recent years obsessed with a “high speed railroad” between San Francisco and Los Angeles, though I can nicely get along without ever visiting either city.

One spell in southern California, we lived a very short distance from what became Disneyland, and I was able to take an aunt to the newly opened Disneyland. We rode on the newly opened railroad, and visited the newest attractions. Not spectacular as way too much was unfinished. It was enough however to satisfy any curiosity about Disneyland and any future need to visit. Not a fan. I really miss the snowy Christmases in Idaho though, and our own sledding hill. One year we even had our own ice pond in the river for ice skating, though we didn’t care enough about skating to do it every year. A farmer down by our nearest town had a pond that served to satisfy any local urge for ice skating, and it was lovely with a big bonfire on a beautiful winter night, and half the population turned out.

Could easily drive up to the pass to see the snow, but one wants to wake up an look out the window to see how much snow has fallen and plan for the coming sled runs. Our own hill was perfect, short enough to walk up towing a sled, steep enough to extend the run for a long distance. We went for spectacular snowmen too, Presidents and famous figures. Good snow is a very good sculptural material, and we were skilled enough to get some pretty good representations — at least we thought so. George and Martha Washington and Abe Lincoln were clearly recognizable.

Christmas Misery! by The Elephant's Child
December 22, 2022, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Politics

Breitbart is reporting that more than 2,000 U.S. Flights have been delayed, and 1,500 have been canceled. Lot of folks are not getting home for Christmas. Freezing temperatures for states as far south as Texas and Florida. 1,561 flights within, into or out of the country have been cancelled. Southwest has more than 450 cancelled flights. USA Today is reporting over 2,200 U.S.canceled flights. Hope some kindly angels are turning up at airports to soothe and encourage.

On A Hill in a Seattle Suburb by The Elephant's Child
December 22, 2022, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Politics

The sky is a pretty uniform off white. The remnants of the last snow still hang on the trees and bushes, unattractive and uninviting. If I were an insulation salesman, I’d be out looking at roofs to see who badly needs more insulation and probably doesn’t realize it. Keep their houses warmer and cut their power bills. Pretty good sales pitch.

Not pretty outside. Treacherous roads. If you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. From the sounds on the main East-West drag at the bottom of my hill, most people are staying home. Not much traffic. Not nice out. Treacherous weather. Don’t know what’s going to happen out there. The fallen leaves in the vine maple outside the window that have fashioned themselves into a bird shape and size now have a white breast that looks quite realistic. Odd, but interesting.

Flights apparently getting canceled or delayed because of the weather, leaving folks who were going home for Christmas stranded in airport waiting rooms. Hope they make it. Airport waiting rooms are not “Christmasy”. Wonder if airport staff would try to help out the stranded folks. Radio is telling me that Spokane was ten degrees below zero this morning. That’s cold!

Lots of trouble in the Cascade passes for those heading East for Christmas. Fortunately no plans to go anywhere for us. Do hope we can get our grocery order before Christmas, but we have plenty of food on hand, Didn’t plan, however on replacing the turkey with a tuna casserole. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Just checked: It’s 25 degrees out there!

Snow for Christmas? by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2022, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Politics

We had a little snow in the Seattle area, and I do mean “little”. Maybe 1/4 of an inch has remained on leaves to give the vague impression that this is indeed “winter” but that’s as much celebration as we can get. Any streets slick? Not that I can tell from my house. Very quiet outdoors. Two houses on the lane just below my house have Christmas lights around their roofs. In past years, houses on the other side of the golf course down below, had lights, but hardly anyone has bothered this year as far as I can tell. Traffic down on the East-West “main drag” at the bottom of the hill seems very light, Perhaps everybody has gone to a party to which I was not invited. Just seems unusually quiet.

Trying to get things shipped properly to the recipients is a colossal pain. There is no uniformity to the things one has to fill out, which might make it a little simpler. They promise, and you just cross your fingers and hope they’re not lying to you again. And when one lives on a hill, there is always at this time of year, a lack of knowledge about what the streets are like.

December 19th by The Elephant's Child
December 19, 2022, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Politics

Snowed last night in this Seattle suburb. On the level we have maybe 1/4 inch where it hasn’t been disturbed. Not exactly what one would call “impressive!” It does, however, look white against dark leaves, and on neighboring roofs. Sky is a fairly uniform very light gray, And my twinkling light far off to the South is still twinkling. Unless I get something more drastic, like changing from twinkle to flashing, I’ll ignore it for the present.

Snow is not only not impressive, but not either pretty nor even vaguely attractive. Not even enough to make any streets slick, either. Perhaps the higher hills have a little more. In a way, this is worse than a few inches, for you don’t know what has happened a few miles away or on the next hill.

I would really like to know what that twinkling light is. Sirens down on the main east-west through street. Undoubtedly a traffic miscreant, sirens abruptly stopped. I really don’t like having my local knowledge filtered through a far-away radio or TV station. But my view off to the South doesn’t offer all that much information. I’m limited to that and what my computer and radio tell me, and that’s not much.

Christmas is Almost Here! Are You Ready? by The Elephant's Child
December 18, 2022, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Politics

Two O’Clock in the afternoon here in a Seattle suburb. Cloudy skies with lots of patches of blue. More clouds than blue. Far off to the South there is a twinkling light. Apparently just in my head, as it isn’t moving as if it were an airplane. I’ve had that going on for a few days. Need new glasses? No idea, but it’s odd. Nothing off in that direction that should be twinkling. No radio towers. I don’t remember ever before experiencing twinkling lights way off in the distance. Need an appointment with my ophthalmologist, I guess, or a psychiatrist? The clouds are getting grayer, and the amount of visible blue is decreasing. Probably rain later. This is, after all, a Seattle suburb. It rains here.

Not much traffic on the main drag at the bottom of my hill. Everybody’s staying home wrapping their presents or ordering, writing last minute Christmas cards. Sirens off in the distance, a fire or an ambulance, or simply the police. Ordinary life doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas. I wonder if shoplifting or petty theft increase because of Christmas, or decrease. Do petty-thieves steal their presents, or is that a different department? Are the police busier in the days before Christmas, or not at all?

A squirrel dropped by yesterday, but I hadn’t put anything out for squirrels. I was surprised to notice this morning. online, that squirrels used to be popular pets. I didn’t know that. I have never known anyone who had a squirrel for a pet, have you? I don’t mean casually leaving some food out for them, but having them live in the house. I will not be inviting our squirrels in.

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