I can’t help but wonder

About those in America who say they don’t want to pay for something THEY won’t use but others will in regards to health care.

This is interesting, and wrong, on so many levels. My guess is that those who say this are young and have never had a serious illness or seen someone they love with a serious illness. But those of us who have been around for a while know that none of us EVER thinks we’ll need health care. When you’re in your 20s, do you think you might get cancer? Or have a serious auto accident? Or fall down the stairs? Of course not; you are immortal! The funny thing, though, is that immortality wears off quickly and unexpectedly. So, say you opt out of health care for yourself and something happens? Then what? Do you expect the rest of us to pay for you?

Now, we don’t have kids. Never wanted them either. Why should I, then, pay for schools? I don’t use schools now that I’m older. I shouldn’t have to pay for them, right?

What about people who go skiing or hiking and go off the marked trails. I don’t do that. Why should I pay for those people when they have accidents and the rescue workers have to go after them? And, drunk drivers; why should I pay for my fire and police services to help them when they wrap their car around a tree. It’s not my problem!

Let’s not even get started on whether we were for or against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We didn’t vote for them, we didn’t want them, so why are our taxes going to pay for them?

Really, it’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? If we only want to pay for those things that we use ourselves, we wind up with a pretty mixed up society with an awful lot of people who fall through the cracks. Isn’t an enlightened society one where those of us who are lucky enough to earn a crust of bread help those of our neighbors who have nothing to eat? We never know when the hand of God is going to come down from above and squash us like a bug; isn’t it better to have a big umbrella for everyone?

Ciao for now.

Randy

The Rentree

It’s that time of year again. Vacations are pretty much over and the kids go back to school on Wednesday (or Thursday in some cases). Parents are in school supply overload (I always get a twinge of nostalgia when I see all the new notebooks and pens and back-to-school paraphernalia) and the mothers are all excited about regaining their freedom.

We seem to have, at last, broken the grip of the heat and the house is once again its usual, comfortable self. The prospect of cooking is becoming appealing once more.

Because of the heat, the leaves have already started to turn brown, but I have the feeling that we won’t have as colorful of a fall as usual if the trees have started to change this early. Grape harvest began a week earlier than usual as well and the vintners are hedging their bets as to whether this will be a good vintage year or not.

Last week, you could already tell that most of the vacationers were gone, as going shopping was far less traumatic than it had been. There are more empty parking spaces everywhere and the shelves no longer have that barren look, as if a horde of locusts has come in and swept everything away. Of course, although getting back to a bit of quiet is nice, the sad part is that friends who are only here for the summer are also going away. Too bad we can’t hold on to our own friends and let everyone else go back. But of course, everyone is someone’s friend, so that never really works in practice.

Even the light has started to change. There is that subtle golden glow to the sunlight that is one of the things I love about the fall; t is so much less harsh than summer sun. Jackets are again a requirement for early morning dog walks and I even contemplated putting on my gloves this morning.

A successful and happy rentree to all of you, and try to keep healthy this year.

Ciao for now,

Randy

Morning Walk (2nd time around)

Some morning when I walk Shmoo, it is just so beautiful that I have to share. Here are a few photos from yesterday, when the mist was rising in the cool morning air and the sun was just rising. Enjoy.

Looking at the hills from the bridge over the Blau

Looking at the hills from the bridge over the Blau

Here's the "new" church from the bridge on the Hers

Here's the "new" church from the bridge on the Hers

And the Terre Blanche in the mist

And the Terre Blanche in the mist

Heading home, you can just about see the church in the mist

Heading home, you can just about see the church in the mist

My Apologies

Yesterday, regular readers of Possumworld probably noticed that we were offline. The server where all of our domains are hosted had a hard drive crash and our hosting company spent the day restoring the data.

Unfortunately, it appears that any posts I made this past week were lost; I guess that the back ups that they used to restore the data were out of date. I am sorry about that. I’ll try to at least repost the photos that I had up earlier this week…

Sometimes

There are things I want to write that I just don’t.

I have a philosophy in life, which is very similar to the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. I’m sad to say that there appear to be many people who do not abide by this philosophy and seem to spend their lives making others miserable. I haven’t been able to determine whether they realize they are causing others to suffer, or whether they are just so selfish or such sociopaths that they don’t care. Unfortunately, the results are the same; those with whom they come in contact feel miserable.

I feel lucky that most of the time I meet decent, friendly, kind people. I feel blessed that I have so many of them in my life. I try to remember that the truly negative people that I know are probably in pain themselves, and therefore I try to be compassionate about them. But when they direct bile and venom at me or those I love, this can be hard.

So, on those days when they force their meanness upon me, I look to all of my friends, my family and my Shmoo for comfort, and I have to say how lucky I am that I have all of you in my life.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Summer, Summer, GO AWAY

I just can’t stand it anymore; way too hot! It’s going to be in the upper 90s today and even hotter tomorrow! Supposedly, according to Meteo France, the heat is set to break Thursday night/Friday morning. I hope they’re right, but wish it would come sooner.

Even the stone walls of our house are now heating up, so instead of staying at 22 C (72 F) inside, last night it was 26 or 27 C, so close to 80 F. It makes sleeping very uncomfortable. I get up at 6:30 to try to open all the shutters and windows so that we can cool off as much as possible until I have to close everything back up again by 9:00.

We HAD to do a big grocery shopping yesterday, because I was out of everything. When we walked into the Carrefour in Pamiers at just before 11:00, we thought it was not too hot. By the time we came out at noon, it was a furnace.

I do take cold bags to put anything perishable in for the journey home, then put those bags inside the car and blast the a/c until we get home. Even with those, the ice cream I bought resembled soft serve by the time we got here. Still, nothing actually went bad.

To make matters worse, I spent most of Sunday and part of yesterday COOKING, because my kind and generous neighbors have been loading us down with gorgeous, ripe tomatoes and zucchinis. But, since there is only so much we can eat fresh, I’ve had to freeze or cook it and then freeze it. I know that this winter I’ll be happy to have it all, but it is really not fun standing in front of a hot stove when it’s this hot out.

I think for the first time ever, my freezer AND the freezer on the fridge are both totally full! I can’t even find anything without digging inside like an archeological expedition. Still, we’re not going to go hungry anytime soon.

I hope that all of you, wherever you are, are keeping cool. You are perfectly free to remind me of this little rant in the depths of winter when I complain about the cold, rain and snow.

Ciao for now.

Randy

My Bad Boy

I should know better than to assume 100% good behavior, I guess.

For the last 2 weeks or so, I’ve been walking Shmoo on a semi-slip collar and he’s been doing great, walking loose leash, etc. Over the last few days he’s suddenly reverted to going totally nuts when he sees another dog and totally forgetting ALL the good behaviors we’ve worked so hard to achieve. When he’s like that, he pulls so fiercly on the collar, practically choking himself in the process, that I can barely stand on my feet. It’s dangerous and really, really embarrassing. So, today I had to put his head collar back on. He doesn’t like it, but for some reason with it, he’s less likely to go ballistic in the first place, and when he does, he’s easier to control. Of course, everyone who sees it thinks he’s wearing a muzzle or being punished, so I have to explain that, no, he’s not a ferocious dog!

Then, I’ve been so proud of him, because he sits and waits at the door when people come. But twice this week (Sunday and today) he has just run out of the door! On Sunday,  I put it down to it being David and Jane, whom he loves, and he wanted to see them. He ran into the street, but came right back when I called him. Today, it was a delivery person and he took advantage of her trying to get into the door to just run out. He ran straight down the street and disappeared around the corner. Now, other friends of ours were down there, so maybe he had seen them, or maybe he had seen another dog; I don’t know. At any rate, I had to run down the street after him, calling him. Finally, he was on the opposite Cours and saw me on one of the small, intersecting streets and ran straight for me as soon as I called.

That at least was a good thing, because it wasn’t like he was trying to run from me; I think he just got confused and was trying to make his way back home when I found him.

What’s scary is that with all the strangers in town there is a lot of traffic, a lot of people who don’t know where they’re going, people parking, backing up, etc., many more trucks, and I was scared to death of him being hit by a car.

So, I don’t know why he’s suddenly regressed. We haven’t had a lot of guests, we haven’t left him alone, we haven’t changed our routine, except for one thing: In the mornings, we take him on the rail tracks and he runs back and forth from me to JM a few times. I’m wondering if doing that has given him a taste for running, and that’s why he’s running out the door?

Now, I’m drenched and exhausted. It’s very hot and sticky and chasing a dog in the sun was not on my agenda.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Mid-August

I’ve always found mid-August a bit of a weird time. When you’re a kid, there’s that feeling that you’ve got to make the best of these last two weeks before school starts. As an adult, I just feel like I’ve had enough of summer and am ready to move on.

Don’t hate me; I know that those of you who love the heat think I’m crazy. But I’m really ready for a change of season. I love the fall, with the crisp nights, cool days and beautiful colors. I’m looking forward to it more than usual this year because we really have had a hot summer. Granted, not like an L.A. summer, but hot enough for me.

I’m also looking forward to the roads calming down a bit. We have definitely had more tourists in the area this year. Now, I know that’s a good thing and it is nice to see that the shops are doing well. But on the other hand, walking the dog has been downright scary! When we turn to take the road towards the railroad tracks, we have had difficulty walking without being run over. Last night, in particular, it was like rush hour in Reseda! There was a line of cars on the road from one end to the other, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Since there isn’t any sidewalk it makes walking really a challenge. The situation wasn’t improved when a couple of dogs in a car started barking at Shmoo and got him all worked up so that he was bouncing all over the place. A bouncing Shmoo is not fun when you’re on the other end of the leash.

I would also like to be able to find a window during the day to do my grocery shopping when I’m not being run over by people pushing their baskets while not looking where they’re going; where there aren’t kids with mini-shopping baskets running over my feet and where I can get in, get what I need and get out in a reasonable time.

Okay, I admit it; I’m spoiled. I got used to being in a place where the pace of life is slower. People who are on holiday somehow don’t seem to want to slow down; they just want to squeeze every minute out of their vacation. I can understand that, but I don’t want to be in their way while they’re doing it.

Ciao for now.

Randy

What is wrong with America?

As I sit here, safe and insured in the Possum Kingdom, I can’t help but ask myself that question.

In November we finally elected a Democrat to the White House and wound up with unbeatable majorities in both houses of Congress. Like many people I thought, “Fantastic! Maybe now something can get done.”

Well, to be honest, I wasn’t holding my breath, because I believe that the Democratic Party today is the Republican Party of the 60s and 70s, and the Republican Party today is just a bunch of insane, stupid people (not all of them, but a lot of them!). Still, I hoped.

Now I see all of the craziness of the Birthers and, even less understandably, the anti-health care reform loonies. Okay, it’s clear that the Birthers are really just racists trying to figure out any way they can to get a black man out of the highest office in the country. There can be no other explanation for it that that; because anything else means that they’re crazier than the followers of Jim Jones.

But the health care reform issue blows me totally away. Rousing people to demonstrate, even to riot against getting health care for themselves and their family defies any kind of rational understanding. To be fair, I suppose it shows the pure, evil genius of the denizens of Faux News and the health insurance industry. They have actually managed to get people to stand up and say, “No, I WANT to die in the street! Anything is better than being like France!”  Again, I have to say it’s genius.

If only that ability to manipulate the masses could be put to some good use that would make this world a better place, think of what could be accomplished.

Certainly it would be hard to find a people more likely to rise up and demonstrate against issues than the the French.;i t’s practically a national sport. But, and this is the important bit, the French demonstrate to make things BETTER for themselves and their families! It is impossible to imagine them marching in the streets to get rid of access to health care.

So, again, I have to ask: What is wrong with America?

Ciao for now,

Randy