Mary Beth Writes

I haven’t slept well in two nights.  I pop wide awake about 2:00 and then listen to podcasts, look at boring YouTube videos (so many crafts one can make with concrete, none that include Jimmy Hoffa), practice relaxing my muscles, practice staring at dots behind my eyelids -and finally at 5:00AM I fall asleep. Since I’m retired I can still sleep in until 7 or 8:00, though twice now the 3-year old granddaughter has called early and her first astounded words are “Are you still in bed, Grandma?”

Possibly I am part of the global citizens who are stressed and insomniac. 

Or possibly I have been drinking five cups of coffee a day.

Why, you ask? Well, because I’m here and I can.

Sometimes we are part of humanity in crisis and sometimes we make dumb choices - and it’s a narrow line, isn’t it?

I've had two cups of coffee today and one glass of wine. Let the reader beware. 

HOLY SPOTTED WISCONSIN COW!

In spite of the most brazen attack against voter rights most of us have witnessed– when the Wisconsin state Republican party insisted that voting had to be in person or absentee ballots had to be turned in by the end of 4/7 – and this rule was announced 4PM on 4/6 – in spite of this dangerous decision that created an impossible impasse … Jill Karofsy won!  A judge not beholden to either party!

I feel as if some of us right here helped moved the karma needle on this. I wrote to my reps, I parsed what they responded and asked you to reply and eleven of you did. Thank you. I was paying attention and each time one of your said something, it made me stronger and braver.

Yesterday morning I worked more hours on our combined outraged voices, preparing our bit of the onslaught of ire against the travesty.

And then! Yesterday evening! The startling news broke into our wonderment! Karofsy won!

Right-leaning judges on the state supreme court still have the majority – but instead of 4 to 1, it’s now 3 to 2.

The determined passion of women and men who stood in long lines for ridiculous amounts of time – that image will not fade quickly.  There is anger and power afoot.  The muggles are beginning to see the powerful wizardry used against them – and they are pissed.

1700-1750(ish) the French were the Europeans du jour along most of the northern and Mississippi River parts of north America. In those decades the French king and his lords and advisors finally woke up to what native allies, resident soldiers, explorers, missionaries, and traders had been telling them for decades. If the French wanted to not lose control to the British, they needed to build forts. 

In 1750 the French built impressive Fort Carillon on their “southern boundary” where long, skinny Lake Champlain entered a short chute of rapids that were not too hard to portage. (You portaged here, then sailed Lake George, then navigated over to the Hudson River and on to NYC.) Fort Carillon was built at an incredibly strategic point between navigating all of Canada and navigating all of New England/the colonies.  

During the Seven Years’ French and Indian War (dumb name, should have been called World Powers War #1) , England won control of Ft Carillon from the French and renamed it Ft. Ticonderoga. (A native word that meant where waterways meet)

When France built this place, it was oriented southwards to intimidate Brits who might be coming north. In 1775 the Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain boys attacked and won Ft. Ticonderoga from the British, who then fled north to Canada. (Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold did not like each other one little bit. Seems like another moment ready for Lin-Manuel Miranda)

So now the fort belonged to the rebelling colonies.  And who were we fighting? Yes, the British, who could sail down from Canada right back to this pivotal spot. 

Everyone knew this was a super important piece of real estate to own, inhabit, keep in good order, and defend. From George Washington on down, it was accepted that we had to keep and defend Ft. Ticonderoga. It was 1776 and 1777. Generals and more men and supplies were sent to Ticonderoga.

Including two guys in their early 20’s, just out of college, who looked at the lay of the land and said to their superiors. “Look.  Do you see what we see? Ticonderoga is set several hundred feet inland. It faces south. The British when they come, they will come from the north.

“There are hills across the lake and river.  Those hills are HIGHER than the fort! With weaponry now available, anyone can go UP those hills and shoot DOWN into Ticonderoga.”

Those young engineers and some others set to work explaining, showing, building defensive positions on the higher hills.

But the old generals knew Ticonderoga; some had spent parts of their younger careers in it. It was a beautiful and massive complex, built las a brick-walled star around many sturdy buildings, around well-equipped quarters, a small hospital and surgery. Barracks, kitchens, larders, places for powder and armaments.   

So no one changed their plans and late that fall the British came and everyone realized they were sitting ducks. The Americans escaped in the middle of the night, fleeing by road, woods, river, however.

Generals and politicians went NUTS when they heard what happened. Washington had fits. Careers were lost. Court marshals were held. It was a huge, giant mess.

The following year the men and women who were the American army WOULD fight the British on a rambling piece of geography at Saratoga. There they would win a series of battles that would turn the tide of the war.

But today, reading this piece of history again, I was so struck.

Do not defend handsome old ideas that face the wrong way. Look and look again. See where you really are. Figure out what you CAN defend and put your smarts, energy, and resources there.

I’m reading “Saratoga: Turning Points of America’s Revolutionary War” by Richard M. Ketchum. It seems as timely as Twitter.

Comments

Mary Beth you are not alone with the insomnia thing I've been falling asleep only to awaken at 1or 2 in the morning and then falling asleep at 4 or 5 and then sleeping until 9 or 10... I take melatonin and Benedril to help me sleep but it's hit and miss... A friend is having the same problem, his sister's a nurse and recommended the Benedril for me... I don't think we are the only ones...

I love it when you get incensed Marybeth. You are a righteous woman!
Mary Beth's picture

Making me grin over here!

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The Good Old Days???

9/28/2022

Over the past few days Len and I have been emailing with two cousins regarding this interesting topic.

Were the Good Old Days All That Good?

The four of us grew up in the late 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. We are from three hometowns. Two of us were and still are science nerds. Two of us grew up in the same family and church.

This is what Len said about his childhood.

This is a more intense version of joking to kids that our smallpox scars are power ports.

Send $ to Welcome the Strangers Among Us.

If you have a heart for new immigrants among us and are open to another way to support them – Listen Up.

Three Things - Surviving the News, Our Web, Hiking Pix

9/16/2022

Len and I went on a hike yesterday at the Monches section of the Ice Age Trail and the photos are from there. 

Was it only a week and a half ago? My how time flies when one lives in an open and free society under daily assault.

3 Things - Cool, 9/11, Bulbs

The photo is from Hiroshima. It's the shadow of what was there before the bomb. 

9/11/2022

Yesterday it was hot and muggy and sticky. Almost every day since May has been hot and muggy and sticky. We have a small house with air conditioning; utility bills are not prohibitive so I am a lucky that way.  It’s usually cool enough in here.

But spending time outside, as one ought to do, is perpetually hot and muggy and sticky. I’m weary of sweating. Most weeks my laundry has included nearly twenty spent t-shirts … just from me.

3 Things - QE2, Triplets, & Me

The death of Queen Elizabeth dominated the news yesterday and it still thick afoot today. ‘Thick afoot” is my attempt to sound like a wee English countryside river animal political pundit. You know. An otter with a pipe. A weasel in a dark suit and an appropriate tie. A crow with an Hermès scarf.

I have two responses to QE2’s passing.

Wild Horses & Other Beauties

8/23/2022 

I first saw this photograph on Twitter in April. I don’t know the photographer, but the photo stopped me in my tracks. 

The Twitter handle of this person is Chris Byrne @ChrisByrnePhoto. He has a website; I think he leads photography workshops. His website is: chrisbyrnephotography.com.

Meanwhile, here I am, awestruck by a beautiful and wild place I will likely never go. It’s called Torres de Pain and it’s a national park in Chile. https://national-parks.org/chile/torres-del-paine

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