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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Quarantine Diary #187 "Hope is the thing with wings ... "

Last Sunday our congregation met in real time at an outdoor amphitheater along the Fox River. Everyone brought their own chairs and we social distanced like the thoughtfully PC UU’s we are. It was lovely to be together again.

Quarantine Diary #178 9/10/2020 What retired people do all day …

This has been a nutty day. Not a bad day, just a day one hopes no one asks, “How is Retirement going, Mary Beth?” For those who are not retired and wonder what we do all day, perhaps this will illuminate what we dare not tell the young.

I woke at 6:30. I got right up because I am Purposeful. However, Len was still sleeping soundly (he stays up way later at night than I do) and he was tucked into the quilts like a large butterfly burrito-ed in a Target-brand comforter. I quietly looked at my favorite websites, the Washington Post, and Twitter for … an hour.

Quarantine Diary #174 9/3/2020 Where Are Our Founding Fathers & Moms Now?

The photos are all from Franc Garcia, who took them in Kenosha last week. Thank you, Franc.

Part I.

The American War of Independence was won, or more aptly stated “ended,” at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781. I’m sure you knew that because a couple months ago I asked Len, “When did the Revolutionary War end?” and he looked at me with astonishment that neither he nor I knew. Not even the year.

We were pretty sure it was over but lately one isn’t completely sure if any of the wars are over yet.

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“A powerful, rollicking adventure that takes us across America and deep into one person’s life-and-death experience.”

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 ...

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A Book Review by CAMILLE-YVETTE WELSCH

Outpedaling "The Big C": My Healing Cycle across America Elizabeth McGowan Bancroft Press (Sep 6, 2020) Hardcover $28.95 (268pp) 978-1-61088-514-0

Elizabeth McGowan lost her father to melanoma when he was forty-four and she was fifteen. She rediscovered him during a bike ride across the US, following her battle with the same disease. Joyful, introspective, terrifying, and sobering, her memoir is about reconciling her mortality with her father’s.

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I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

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