The Comfort of Family

My readers recall that my wife Abby is not well, and remains in skilled nursing care.

I visit her every day, and try to bring her something  – photos, pillows, magazines, clothes – that hopefully will help her feel comfortable and restful.

One thing I recently brought her is a quilt her aunt Judy made.

After Abby’s father Hershel Shoffner died in April 2010, Abby got ahold of his blue jeans. At first she had no idea what to do with them, but then Judy offered to make them into a quilt. It turned out to be really beautiful.

Abby's aunt Judy Taff made this quilt for her out of Abby's father's blue jeans.
Abby’s aunt Judy Taff made this quilt for her out of Abby’s father’s blue jeans.

I brought it to Abby early in her stay. It is heavy and very warm, and reminds her of her father, who she thinks about and misses every day.

Including the flaws in Hershel's blue jeans in this quilt was a brilliant idea. It really is a beautiful piece.
Including the flaws in Hershel’s blue jeans in this quilt was a brilliant idea. It really is a beautiful piece.

National Pickle Day

Robert wears a pickle suit and holds "The Pickle" in downtown Ada, Oklahoma today.
Robert wears a pickle suit and holds “The Pickle” in downtown Ada, Oklahoma today.

Our long-time photographer friend Robert visited today, both to see Abby, and because today is National Pickle Day, and he brought The Pickle.

Wait, “The Pickle”?

Robert balances The Pickle on a rail of our front deck this afternoon.
Robert balances The Pickle on a rail of our front deck this afternoon.

Well, it’s a long story, and I haven’t talked about it much because really, it’s not my story. The Pickle has been on television and in newspapers, and, as pickles go, it is famous.

The Pickle wears the fifth iteration of a case. When it was first "pickled" in 1984, it wore a Seal-a-Meal bag, but as it became famous, it got a series of new enclosures.
The Pickle wears the fifth iteration of a case. When it was first “pickled” in 1984, it wore a Seal-a-Meal bag, but as it became famous, it got a series of new enclosures.

Abby enjoyed her visit, for which Robert dressed in a pickle costume. He brought her flowers, and said she looked good.

Robert photographed me visiting Abby at Ballard Nursing Center, where coronavirus restrictions have forced us to visit through a window. Abby looked and sounded good.
Robert photographed me visiting Abby at Ballard Nursing Center, where coronavirus restrictions have forced us to visit through a window. Abby looked and sounded good.

As always, Robert and I did photography together.

Robert holds the pickle while we visit Abby today.
Robert holds the pickle while we visit Abby today.

Abby and I were glad to see him.

Your humble host photographs Summer the Chihuahua this afternoon.
Your humble host photographs Summer the Chihuahua this afternoon.

A New Home

A month ago, Abby and I attended her family reunion, and Abby, seen on the right side of the image, seemed fine, and had a great time.
A month ago, Abby and I attended her family reunion, and Abby, seen on the right side of the image, seemed fine, and had a great time.

I wish I had better to news to share with my readers, but my wife Abby has moved from Coal County Memorial Hospital in Coalgate, Oklahoma, to Ballard Nursing Center in Ada, near where we live.

She has shown inconsistent recovery, and a gradual regression in her physical health.

2021 was a very hard year for her, though, oddly, not at all connected to the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

In February, she collapsed during a difficult period of dehydration, followed by a slow recovery.

We were both happy to travel to New Mexico in June, but she struggled with travel and all that involved.

On August 7, Abby fell and broke the head of her left humerus, requiring an emergency room visit. On August 8, she was too weak to stand on her on own due to a urinary tract infection, requiring an ER visit, which resulted in a week’s stay at Mercy Hospital Ada, and about two weeks recovering at CCMH.

Abby came home the Friday before Labor Day, still weak but getting better. Home health care came to see her regularly.

As all this was happening to her physically,  her brother-in-law Larry died of COVID-19 in January, her former brother-in-law Tim died in July, and her former mother-in-law Dorothy and her sister Inez died in August.

Abby was excited about attending her family’s annual reunion October 9 and 10, and had a good time there.

She and I hoped to go out to eat for our anniversary October 12, but she was too weak. She got steadily worse as the week wore on, and was admitted to Mercy Hospital again on October 15 with a diagnosis of pneumonia. She was at CCGH from October 21 until today, November 10.

Realistically, I have no concrete expectations about the outcome of this.

Finally, a word about the professional health care providers who treated and cared for Abby. You are in a great and noble profession, despite the often difficult circumstances you face both in treated so many patients with COVID-19 infection, to the completely unforgivable abuse you might have faced by those ignorant of how medicine, and especially vaccines, work. You are heroes and hard workers, and deserve thanks.

I took Summer the Chihuahua, right, to visit Abby today at her new room at Ballard Nursing Center. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we had to visit through this window, but Abby was happy to see her dog. You can see she is wearing her "Yeti," a super-warm pullover her daughter gave her for Christmas a couple of years ago.
I took Summer the Chihuahua, right, to visit Abby today at her new room at Ballard Nursing Center. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we had to visit through this window, but Abby was happy to see her dog. You can see she is wearing her “Yeti,” a super-warm pullover her daughter gave her for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Another Non-Report on Abby

Abby has been hospitalized for 19 days, presently in a recovery-level of care in Coalgate, Oklahoma. It is the third time this year she’s been in hospital care.

I wish I could say she is doing cartwheels in the halls and coming home tomorrow, but she’s still just too weak to come home yet.

She is eating well, and is lucid, and wants to come home. She is receiving occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Abby and I certainly miss each other, and she wants to be in the comfort of her own home, but I doubt she misses anything more than the company of her Chihuahua, Summer Time Lane.
Abby and I certainly miss each other, and she wants to be in the comfort of her own home, but I doubt she misses anything more than the company of her Chihuahua, Summer Time Lane.

An Updated Update on Abby

Everyone around town has been asking about my wife Abby, who remains in a recovery bed at Mary Hurley Hospital in Coalgate.

She’s slowly recovering. She was really sagging hard last weekend, but has been making progress every day; good appetite, cooperating with physical therapists, moving more.

I don’t know when I can take her home. The standard for this would be if I can take care of her, and leave her alone for periods when I need to work.

This is one of the most recent images I have of Abby.
This is one of the most recent images I have of Abby.

Another Report on Abby

Readers recall that my wife Abby is having a rough health year. After a three-day hospital stay in February, August was pretty much taken up by a urinary tract infection and recovery.

She experienced what seemed to be a full recovery, and we were able to attend her family reunion October 9 and 10, and celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary October 12.

But later in that week, she got sicker and weaker, and Friday, October 16, EMS transported her to the Mercy Ada emergency room. After a week at Mercy being treated with intravenous antibiotics for pneumonia, we moved her to “swing bed” care (rehab) at the Coal County Memorial Hospital where we got such good care in August.

She is resting and receiving intravenous fluids and potassium, but at the moment isn’t showing much improvement.

Sorry this post isn’t optimistic. Many people ask about her every day, and I wrote this update so they will know.

The dogs and I miss her, and I know she wants to come home. We are on hold.

Abby watches as her sister Gail tries to play Abby's three-string cigar box guitar at the Shoffner Family Reunion October 9. Abby was doing well that weekend, but has been sagging since.
Abby watches as her sister Gail tries to play Abby’s three-string cigar box guitar at the Shoffner Family Reunion October 9. Abby was doing well that weekend, but has been sagging since.

Take Care of Yourself

Abby's therapy included the intravenous antibiotic ceftriaxone, a powerful, broad-spectrum drug she has received many times over the years.
Abby’s therapy included the intravenous antibiotic ceftriaxone, a powerful, broad-spectrum drug she has received many times over the years.

My wife Abby is back in the hospital, this time for a bout of lower lobe pneumonia. The acute phase is over, but her recovery, like her difficult illness in August, is achingly slow.

It is stretching me thin.

One thing everybody tells me is “take care of yourself.” On paper, I know what that means, but I also know my duty to my wife, and that being true to that means I might not be able to always take care of myself.

Abby was well enough ten days ago to attend the annual Shoffner Family Reunion.
Abby was well enough ten days ago to attend the annual Shoffner Family Reunion.

So I’m eating and sleeping, but those activities are tainted by worry and frustration.

A bright spot in this otherwise cheerless entry is that longtime friend Ann Dicus baked us a pecan pie and sent it along with a kind, empathetic card today. Thank you, Ann.

Ann's pecan pie was a very kind, meaningful, caring gesture.
Ann’s pecan pie was a very kind, meaningful, caring gesture.

A Work in Progress

Readers know that my wife Abby has been struggling with a period of poor health that began in early August. Her recovery has been achingly slow, but today I am cautiously optimistic to report that she is legitimately better.

Abby and Summer
Abby and Summer

You can see that she’s still a little rough, but her optimism and success with PT and movement in general is a weight off of me. I am hopeful she will get better.

The August That Lost Us

“Everything wrong
Gonna be alright
Come September…” ~Natalie Imbruglia

My wife Abby and I were lulled into a sense of optimism, both external and internal. SARS-CoV-2 pandemic numbers were in freefall. We were both excited to finally be able to travel out west to some of our favorite places. Work was going well. In June, we felt confident enough in the situation to go on vacation to Taos, New Mexico.

First week in August: there was a huge spike in COVID-19 cases.  August 7: Abby broke her shoulder. August 11: we learned that Abby’s former brother-in-law Tim died in July. August 13: Dorothy, Tim’s 95 year-old mother, Abby’s former mother-in-law, died. August 14: Abby was admitted to the hospital with a urinary tract infection.  August 23: a relative of mine had unexpected diverticulitis. August 24: Abby’s sister Inez died. August 29: Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans, including my sister, her husband, and his mother.

August 2021.

I usually feel like a fortunate, and optimistic, person, but this August has left me in doubt.
I usually feel like a fortunate, and optimistic, person, but this August has left me in doubt.

Another Reason to Vaccinate

A friend confessed to me just today that he was “afraid of shots,” but was seriously considering getting his COVID-19 vaccination. He said he’d seen that I got vaccinated Monday Aug. 23. What he didn’t realize is that I got my third, or “booster”, dose of the Moderna-made vaccine.

Update, August 25: a day after I talked to my friend and posted this entry, I got a text message from my office showing his CDC vaccination card with his first vaccination, with the text message below it, which said, “Tell Richard that’s for him.”

For the first 24 to 36 hours after receiving my third, booster, dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, August 23, I was achy and just a tad feverish, but it was tolerable, and even encouraging that my body was mounting an immune response.
For the first 24 to 36 hours after receiving my third, booster, dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, August 23, I was achy and just a tad feverish, but it was tolerable, and even encouraging that my body was mounting an immune response.

My sister thinks the entire “vaccine hesitancy” issue is exactly that: fear of needles and injections. I think that is probably an issue with many, but I’m willing to say that it is more dynamic than that; that people are afraid of their bodies, afraid to put things in their bodies that they don’t understand, afraid of trusting others.

For me: there has never been a more important time to be as immune as possible. I am in a hospital setting every day right now as I visit my wife Abby, who is recovering from a very serious non-COVID-related illness, and bringing COVID to her would be a serious setback.

I was born in 1963. I have been vaccinated against polio, smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal pneumonia, shingles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B,  yearly influenza and, now, SARS-CoV-2, and have never, even once, had any significant complications from any of them.

I hope my friend gets his vaccines, and I hope many other follow my example and do the same.

Of all the vaccinations I have gotten, Shingrix, a two-shot shingles vaccine, hurt the most, and was sore the longest, about a week. You what it felt like? It felt like not getting shingles.
Of all the vaccinations I have gotten, Shingrix, a two-shot shingles vaccine, hurt the most, and was sore the longest, about a week. You what it felt like? It felt like not getting shingles.

Report on Abby

Final update for this situation: Abby has been home since Friday, Sept. 3. She continues to get stronger and more alert, she expresses a healthy appetite, and she is eager to do the exercises the physical therapist showed me. There is always a potential for a setback, but I will care for her and nurture her recovery from this difficult, complicated medical situation.

Updated to include that Abby is home.

Updated September 1 to include that Abby is eating more, and is doing her physical therapy. Her friendly physical therapist, Melvin, was very pleased with her progress.

Update September 1: Abby’s pain is much better controlled, her level of consciousness is improved, and the nurses said she had a “good morning.”

Of all the things Abby misses when she is not home, Summer the Chihuahua (in her arms in this image) is the one she talks about the most.
Of all the things Abby misses when she is not home, Summer the Chihuahua (in her arms in this image) is the one she talks about the most.

Update, August 30: Abby didn’t have physical therapy over the weekend, but will have it starting this morning. No progress to report.

Updated August 26 to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger.

Updated August 25 to include that Abby’s older sister Inez died yesterday. Link to obituary here.

Updated Tuesday August 24 to include that Abby seems more responsive and more determined to go home. She is not well enough to come home, since I can’t care for her in this state, but she sat in her chair for a while, had some physical therapy, and had a nurse-assisted shower.

My wife Abby is currently hospitalized.

Her current health situation began Saturday night, August 7 when Abby fell on her shoulder while coming to bed. Sunday the pain became acute enough to take her to Mercy Hospital Ada’s Emergency Room, where she was x-rayed and CT scanned, determining she had two contained, non-operable breaks in the head of her humerus. They gave her a sling and told us to contact our primary doctor about increasing the dosage of her pain medicine.

Sunday August 8 she became weak and disoriented, so EMS had to transport her, again to Mercy ER. They gave her intravenous fluids and the antibiotic Rocephin for a urinary tract infection, and she felt well enough to come home.

As the week went by, she seemed to be better able to stand and move, and required less effort from me when I lifted her. It seemed like she was recovering. We worked out a system for me to help her stand and walk that kept away from her very painful left shoulder. I administered the oral antibiotic cephalexin and her pain medication every six hours on the dot.

Saturday, August 14, things took a very steep turn for the worse. She awoke weaker and more disoriented. She complained of stomach pain and was sick all day. She rapidly degenerated into dehydration-fueled confusion, and became increasingly combative.

She didn’t want to go to the hospital, and I was leaning that way, but honestly thought of it as a last resort. I bought some Pedialyte and had her drink an entire container of it, but she didn’t improve.

EMS transported her to a very crowded ER, where she sat unattended in a hall for a while. There she was diagnosed with a worsening UTI, but continuing to resist my reassurances. I was relieved when they gave her half a grain of morphine for her shoulder pain.

She was admitted through some herculean efforts of ER staff, since there is currently a shortage of beds due to the coronavirus pandemic. I went home.

For a while during the week of August 16, she seemed to get very slowly better while I worked from the room using my laptop. I couldn’t stay the night (nor did I want to, since there was nowhere to sleep, and I needed to take care of the dogs), so I would time things so I could do at least some work on the way to or from the hospital.

On Tuesday August 17, she was given an e-neurological exam, and passed perfectly. Analysis of her CT and MRI scans were unremarkable.

On Thursday, August 19, a hospitalist named Weidong Zhao told me she was  medically well, and a social worker recommended transferring her to the “swing bed” care level in a smaller area facility. Sulphur rejected her because they were short a staff member, and I rejected Seminole because they aren’t allowing visitors. We settled on Coal County Memorial Hospital, which required a negative COVID-19 test, which she passed.

On Friday, August 19, we loaded Abby into our truck and drove her to Coalgate, where she is, as I write this, hopefully resting comfortably and recovering.

Tuesday, August 24: Abby seems more responsive and more determined to go home. She is not well enough to come home, since I can’t care for her in this state, but she sat in her chair for a while, had some physical therapy, and had a nurse-assisted shower. She correctly remembered my t-shirt today, which she gave me eight years ago, and was also able to accurately relay to the nurse the story behind her father’s wristwatch that is covered with pock marks from when he welded.

Wednesday, August 25: Abby’s sister Gail called to say their older sister Inez died in nursing care in Arkansas.

Updated August 26 to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger. She might come home tomorrow. She talked to her sister Gail about the death of Inez.

Update, August 25, to include that Abby’s older sister Inez died yesterday. Link to obituary here.

Sisters Gail, Inez, and Abby are pictured in 2003. Inez died August 25, 2021. The youngest Shoffner sister, Gwyn, died in 2000.
Sisters Gail, Inez, and Abby are pictured in 2003. Inez died August 25, 2021. The youngest Shoffner sister, Gwyn, died in 2000.

Update, August 26, to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger.

Update, August 30: Abby didn’t have physical therapy over the weekend, but will have it starting this morning. No progress to report.

Update September 1: Abby’s pain is much better controlled, her level of consciousness is improved, and the nurses said she had a “good morning.”

Updated September 1 to include that Abby is eating more, and is doing her physical therapy. Her friendly physical therapist, Melvin, was very pleased with her progress.

Updated to include that Abby is home.

Final update for this situation: Abby has been home since Friday, Sept. 3. She continues to get stronger and more alert, she expresses a healthy appetite, and she is eager to do the exercises the physical therapist showed me. There is always a potential for a setback, but I will care for her and nurture her recovery from this difficult, complicated medical situation.

Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron
Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron

Some Fun Travel Notes and Observations

Abby and I were finally able to travel again after a 20-month hiatus due to the pandemic. We chose the beauty of northern New Mexico.

I wrote a comprehensive trip report, The Summit, here (link), but here are a few extra thoughts.

Taos is a mess

It has been my displeasure to watch charming towns grow up, and as they do, “grow” economically, meaning that they get more businesses, and in turn get more infrastructure. Taos was once small and charming, but it now has a super Walmart, a sign that it has changed into an emotionally dead suburb. Santa Fe and Moab, Utah, have both died in my eyes in this way.

I'm sure this butterfly was meant to brighten up the route through Taos, but now it is graffiti tagged and ratty.
I’m sure this butterfly was meant to brighten up the route through Taos, but now it is graffiti tagged and ratty.

Poverty due to the virus

It was pretty clear looking at the number of closed, and even abandoned, businesses that towns that rely heavily, or even exclusively, on tourism and recreation fared worse than most because of the pandemic.

We saw many locations in Taos and through much of New Mexico that had been struggling before the pandemic, only to be finished off by it in the past year.
We saw many locations in Taos and through much of New Mexico that had been struggling before the pandemic, only to be finished off by it in the past year.

Church protest

On at least two days in Taos, I saw a car legally parked in front of First Baptist Church, covered in blaze yellow signs criticizing Vacation Bible School as “brainwashing.” It’s a pretty strong statement, and many people I know would probably find it offensive, but however you feel about the statement, you have to admit that making it was free speech in its purest form.

I know more than a few people who would actively advocate banning such displays, while at the same time saying they believe in freedom. To them, freedom is the freedom to be like them.
I know more than a few people who would actively advocate banning such displays, while at the same time saying they believe in freedom. To them, freedom is the freedom to be like them.

Food and more food

We had several great meals on our trip, from an amazing pizza in Taos to a great veggie burger and sweet potato fries in Madrid, but honestly, I don’t understand people for whom the best part of travel is the food. The best meals in our lives are usually at home, and I can get a great meal anywhere. I drive to Utah or New Mexico to find things we don’t have in Oklahoma, like mountains, deserts, and canyons, not overpriced appetizers.

We had a wonderful $22 pizza for dinner one night in Taos, but the truth is that I can make a pizza this good at home with ingredients that might cost $1.50.
We had a wonderful $22 pizza for dinner one night in Taos, but the truth is that I can make a pizza this good at home with ingredients that might cost $1.50.

 

More Green, More Grey

Early May was sunny and perfect for the baseball, softball and tennis playoffs I covered, but by the middle of the month, a consistent rainy pattern had set in.

I made several photo walks around the patch after walking the dogs.

I mostly planted these cherry trees for the fun of watching them grow.
I mostly planted these cherry trees for the fun of watching them grow.
Little green tomatoes on the vine are such welcome visitors.
Little green tomatoes on the vine are such welcome visitors.
Deep, contrasty late-afternoon light shines on my garden hose.
Deep, contrasty late-afternoon light shines on my garden hose.
Abby got this coffee mug from her daughter this week.
Abby got this coffee mug from her daughter this week.
Is a pasture selfie a thing?
Is a pasture selfie a thing?
My marigold seeds got scattered by a heavy rain right after I planted them, so they are coming up all over the garden.
My marigold seeds got scattered by a heavy rain right after I planted them, so they are coming up all over the garden.
A Virginia creeper vine reaches for the light earlier this week.
A Virginia creeper vine reaches for the light earlier this week.

At work, I’m shooting and writing well, and feel like I am succeeding in mentoring our intern, Mackenzee Crosby, well. I have a pretty versatile skill set, but I don’t do everything. I couldn’t tell you, for example, the first thing about covering a court case as a reporter.

At my suggestion, she called her column “Ellen in Grey.”

She came with me to document me donating blood this week, and wrote her column about it.

By Mackenzee E. Crosby - You host prepares to squeeze out a pint.
By Mackenzee E. Crosby – You host prepares to squeeze out a pint.
By Mackenzee E. Crosby - Mac got a Nutter Butter as a reward for blasting through her fear of blood and needles, and I got salted peanuts for donating my blood.
By Mackenzee E. Crosby – Mac got a Nutter Butter as a reward for blasting through her fear of blood and needles, and I got salted peanuts for donating my blood.

Internal Memo

This was my column two Saturdays ago, but I rewrote it a bit for the blog.

I am pleased to welcome my long-time friend Mackenzee E. Crosby as  the summer 2021 intern for The Ada News. I lobbied for her to get this position, and so far, she has delivered.

Mackenzee E. Crosby goes by "Mac" on social media and in public, but uses her full name in bylines. Her middle name is Ellen, and at my suggestion has begun writing a column for us called "Ellen in Grey," to reflect her imaging, including her love of shooting in black-and-white.
Mackenzee E. Crosby goes by “Mac” on social media and in public, but uses her full name in bylines. Her middle name is Ellen, and at my suggestion has begun writing a column for us called “Ellen in Grey,” to reflect her imaging, including her love of shooting in black-and-white.

I believe I first met her when her eighth grade class at Ada Junior High won a bet to collectively give over 100 units of blood products at blood drive, and was rewarded by being allowed to shave Luke Penrod’s head.

Mackenzee Crosby shaves the head of Ada Junior High science teacher Luke Penrod Thursday, March 8, 2012, as a reward for collectively giving over 100 units of blood products at the recent AJH blood drive. Assisting the seventh graders was beautician Kourtnie Rhodes.
Mackenzee Crosby shaves the head of Ada Junior High science teacher Luke Penrod Thursday, March 8, 2012, as a reward for collectively giving over 100 units of blood products at the recent AJH blood drive. Assisting the seventh graders was beautician Kourtnie Rhodes.

As the years have gone by, our paths crossed at events like Open Mic Nyte, graduations, and, in early 2020, Mackenzee interviewed my wife Abby and me for a college class assignment.

Mac photographed Abby and me for a class project just before the coronavirus crisis hit.
Mac photographed Abby and me for a class project just before the coronavirus crisis hit.

Mac comes to us with a rich history of imaging, especially for someone so young. Her images are fresh and innovative, yet have a “shoot from the hip” rawness about them that I find intriguing.

Mackenzee Crosby, right, photographs Malli Pingleton for The Cougar Call at Ada High School, April 11, 2017. It's absolutely amazing to see how different educational photojournalism has changed since the film era.
Mackenzee Crosby, right, photographs Malli Pingleton for The Cougar Call at Ada High School, April 11, 2017. It’s absolutely amazing to see how different educational photojournalism has changed since the film era.

Her work reminds me that I need to embrace that rawness in my own work, which can sometimes be too safe and habitual.

On a more personal note, which I didn’t include in my column, Mackenzee has endured some devastating tragedies, such as the debilitating traumatic brain injury to her good friend Avery Anderson in 2016, and the suicide of her father in 2018.

I told her recently that I find her a lot like I was when I was her age, especially when I read her personal writing; it is a lot like the things I wrote when I was 22.

Mackenzee is always a natural both in front of and behind the camera. I made this image at Open Mic Nyte a couple of years ago.
Mackenzee is always a natural both in front of and behind the camera. I made this image at Open Mic Nyte a couple of years ago.

I expect great things from Mac, and, in fact, have been very impressed with how quickly she caught on to the daily flow of news and newspaper. I think this summer is going to be a great learning experience for both of us.

Mac moved into a vacant desk in the newsroom and instantly made it hers. I think she's going to love real world journalism.
Mac moved into a vacant desk in the newsroom and instantly made it hers. I think she’s going to love real world journalism.

The Patch in May

Here are a few images from our home in the bucolic splendor of southern Oklahoma.

A wine cup wildflower sits tangled in other wildflowers in the west pasture.
A wine cup wildflower sits tangled in other wildflowers in the west pasture.
I spotted this tire track full of rainwater yesterday.
I spotted this tire track full of rainwater yesterday.
I had just hooked Hawken up to his retractable leash when he spotted a rabbit across the yard and tore out after it, breaking the leash.
I had just hooked Hawken up to his retractable leash when he spotted a rabbit across the yard and tore out after it, breaking the leash.
With the pond about as full as it's ever been, this grass peeks above the waterline. Normally, I would mow it.
With the pond about as full as it’s ever been, this grass peeks above the waterline. Normally, I would mow it.
Wires hang on a tree branch in the neighbor's yard.
Wires hang on a tree branch in the neighbor’s yard.
This is one of my shirts waiting to be ironed.
This is one of my shirts waiting to be ironed.
I had good cherry blossoms in April, and I now have lots of cherries about to ripen.
I had good cherry blossoms in April, and I now have lots of cherries about to ripen.
Irises only bloom for a short time in the spring.
Irises only bloom for a short time in the spring.
Hawken looks at me from under the back deck, which gives him plenty of shade.
Hawken looks at me from under the back deck, which gives him plenty of shade.
These bearded irises are my very favorite flower.
These bearded irises are my very favorite flower.
I bought Abby one of these recently, and it is now her new favorite drink.
I bought Abby one of these recently, and it is now her new favorite drink.
Lilacs take on evening light.
Lilacs take on evening light.
I made this image of a gate in our front yard right after a thunderstorm rolled through.
I made this image of a gate in our front yard right after a thunderstorm rolled through.
A small redbud blossom gathers vanishing evening light.
A small redbud blossom gathers vanishing evening light.
Reinventing the selfie? I made this after a thunderstorm. The water was cold.
Reinventing the selfie? I made this after a thunderstorm. The water was cold.
It has been cloudy and gloomy for over a week.
It has been cloudy and gloomy for over a week.
My first marigold of the year appeared recently.
My first marigold of the year appeared recently.

Picking Up Some Slack

I apologize for not posting more often. May is always like that – playoffs, proms, graduations – there’s lots of stuff to cover for my newspaper in a very short time.

But I am not dead or in a mental institution. I’m right here, and here are some images from what’s been going on.

A late frost hit the garden, but I was able to cover most of it with borrowed tarps. I was not able to cover my radishes, but apparently radishes don't care, because they are fine.
A late frost hit the garden, but I was able to cover most of it with borrowed tarps. I was not able to cover my radishes, but apparently radishes don’t care, because they are fine.
I grow radishes mostly because they are so fun to grow and so neat-looking.
I grow radishes mostly because they are so fun to grow and so neat-looking.
I addition to two large tarps and a couple of towels, I put a red heat lamp in the middle of the garden. It was a late-April frost, and a hard one.
I addition to two large tarps and a couple of towels, I put a red heat lamp in the middle of the garden. It was a late-April frost, and a hard one.
Mackenzee Crosby, who goes by Mac socially and Mackenzee E. Crosby in her bylines, starts her internship this week. She came in last week to find out where to put her stuff and how to log in to the server, and made this image of me while we talked.
Mackenzee Crosby, who goes by Mac socially and Mackenzee E. Crosby in her bylines, starts her internship this week. She came in last week to find out where to put her stuff and how to log in to the server, and made this image of me while we talked.
A long-time friend of mine, Kaitlyn Redman, spotted me as I covered ECU graduation Saturday, and waved me over, so I made this image of her. I have known her since she was just a kid, and am friends with her whole family.
A long-time friend of mine, Kaitlyn Redman, spotted me as I covered ECU graduation Saturday, and waved me over, so I made this image of her. I have known her since she was just a kid, and am friends with her whole family.
That's me in the middle, making a team photo of the Roff Tigers after they claimed another state baseball championship trophy Saturday.
That’s me in the middle, making a team photo of the Roff Tigers after they claimed another state baseball championship trophy Saturday.
As the Roff baseball game progressed, the mood became very jovial, so I snuck in with some of my young fan friends for a selfie.
As the Roff baseball game progressed, the mood became very jovial, so I snuck in with some of my young fan friends for a selfie.

The Eyes of Age

This was my column for Saturday, May 8

A confluence of conversation this week got me thinking about aging.

“You never change,” someone told me as I was covering a playoff softball game earlier this week.

Wes Edens spotted me doing my thing at the state softball tournament last week.
Wes Edens spotted me doing my thing at the state softball tournament last week.

It’s true that I haven’t changed all that much in the nearly 33 years I’ve been at The Ada News. Some of that is by chance, and some is by choice.

“You kept your hair,” a friend told me recently. Yes I have, though I can’t take credit for that. Baldness is genetic, and I guess I got the lucky gene, because I have young-man’s hair. I have also been lucky so far that it has mostly kept its color, but those days are numbered. I already color my beard twice a week, and I am starting to notice my temples are greying.

Wait, Richard. You color your beard? Yes, I do. I got the idea from a years-ago co-worker whose beard turned grey in his 20s. It’s an easy 15 minute chore twice a week.

Is coloring my beard an indulgence? Vanity? Ego? Yes, all of those.

One thing by choice is that I have kept my weight very consistent over the years, through a combination of smart dietary choices, and remaining physically active. Also, I don’t smoke.

The eyes are the biggest tell when it comes to age. Older people’s eyes tend to wrinkle and sag, and look less bright and intelligent. That’s unfair, of course, since the cosmetic appearance of cognitive deficit is different from real loss of mental function.

As a photojournalist, eyes are, of course, my living. You may have seen me wearing glasses. Those are reading glasses, which as anyone my age will testify, need to be stronger and stronger as we get older.

These conversations culminated late this week when I was on the phone with a fellow photographer who lives in Tulsa. As we talked, he walked into a bright patch of light just as he came across a mirror, and was suddenly taken aback by his self-image.

“Wow. Richard, I am so grey!” he told me.

Maybe age is sneaky that way, creeping up on us until we are suddenly old.

So, Richard, how old are you? That 33 years in Ada I mentioned earlier kind of gives it away, but my age isn’t a secret. I’ll turn 58 in July.

A week after I originally wrote this, a friend who had moved away some years ago, and hadn’t seen my column, told me, “You never change.”

It was so good to see Brenda Wheelock, and, for the first time since September (except for very-socially-distanced Rotary), sit down and eat in a restaurant.
It was so good to see Brenda Wheelock, and, for the first time since September (except for very-socially-distanced Rotary), sit down and eat in a restaurant.

Yes, She’s Better

Abby and our Chihuahua Summer pose for a photo this week.
Abby and our Chihuahua Summer pose for a photo this week.

Thank you everyone who asked with concern about my wife Abby. She had a rough winter and spring, but seems to be very much back to her usual self lately. This morning, for example, she asked for grits and runny fried eggs, which is a long-time favorite or hers.

Hawken the wolfhound pants after taking a big drink from his water bucket recently.
Hawken the wolfhound pants after taking a big drink from his water bucket recently.

I am fine as well.

I ate the last of my pinto beans a couple of days ago, so today I made anasazi beans.
I ate the last of my pinto beans a couple of days ago, so today I made anasazi beans.

“Everything Richard Eats is Healthy”

A really good meal starts with color.
A really good meal starts with color.

I was at a public gathering recently, and someone in the group said she’d lost 30 pounds recently, 30 pounds she said she’d gained during the lockdowns associated with coronavirus. She told us she lost the weight using the Optavia diet. I was impressed by her achievement, but that diet involves lots of cabbage and broccoli, and she said she had run out of ideas about how to cook them.

“Those are two of the most nutritious foods you can eat,” I said.

“Everything Richard eats is healthy,” she said to the group. I wish that were true. What is true is that I try to be aware of the nutritional content of everything I eat.

I have really been enjoying oranges lately.
I have really been enjoying oranges lately.

When my wife Abby wants a baked ziti from our favorite Italian place, for example, I usually get a veggie pizza while I am there. The fact that it’s a “veggie” pizza doesn’t change its nutritional content much. It’s an indulgence, but I always make sure not to overeat. Pizza keeps well and reheats easily, so I usually make three meals out of it.

I did myself the favor of buying these organic rainbow baby carrots the other day.
I did myself the favor of buying these organic rainbow baby carrots the other day.

Here are some additional thoughts about diet and health…

  • Refined sugar isn’t really a nutrient. How I feel when I eat sugar? Since I eat refined sugar so infrequently, its effect is very evident: rising heart rate, a subtle feeling of anxiety, marked mood elevation followed by a classic “sugar crash.”
  • I stopped drinking sugar drinks like soda decades ago, and if I have a sip of one now, it doesn’t taste appealing in any way.
  • Why do I like what I like? I never get tired of broccoli and cabbage, beans and rice, fresh fruit and whole grains. I admit that some of this is by choice, and some of it is how I am constituted genetically.
  • Counting carbs is off base; that’s how we got here in the first place. I believe the answer lies in a more fundamental behavior: eating less, eating real food, and moving more. The minute you look at a real food like a peach or a cantaloupe and assign a number to it, you’ve lost your way.
  • I ponder this one all the time: nobody wants to be obese or diabetic, so why is it so prevalent? Is it that the machinery of industry makes too much money too easily selling sugar and fat to us, or is it that we are too easily tempted by these things?
  • Stop thinking of food as a reward, and start thinking of food as a choice.
  • On weekends or other days off, the next thing I do after a meal is walk our dogs.
  • One trick that works for me: if I don’t think it should be in my diet, I won’t bring it into my house. When I have a desire for a mid-afternoon snack and look in the pantry, I find what I brought home from the grocery store. Is it apples and steel cut oats, or snack cakes and doughnuts?

I want to end this on a positive note: everyone and anyone can eat a healthier diet, it’s easier than you might imagine, and it has the potential to turn your health and your life completely around.

This is the end result of my go-to stir-fry: Gardein Meatless Chik'n strips, broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage, stir-fried until brown and tender, served over a bed of rice/quinoa mix. I have been eating this dish for 30 years, and I never get tired of it.
This is the end result of my go-to stir-fry: Gardein Meatless Chik’n strips, broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage, stir-fried until brown and tender, served over a bed of rice/quinoa mix. I have been eating this dish for 30 years, and I never get tired of it.

Nature Fighting Back

I got my second coronavirus vaccination this week. My arm is very sore and I have some muscle aches, but that tells me it’s working.

My second dose of Moderna-made coronavirus vaccine goes in my arm yesterday morning.
My second dose of Moderna-made coronavirus vaccine goes in my arm yesterday morning.

I posted on social media this week that my peach trees had gone straight to leaves this year, and did not appear to be making blossoms, which, according to my photos from previous years, almost always happened before the first day of spring. I was convinced that I wouldn’t have peaches, though I was encouraged to see that I did have plum blossoms.

A peach blossom clings to a branch on the largest of my peach trees this evening.
A peach blossom clings to a branch on the largest of my peach trees this evening.

Then today, as I walked Hawken, I caught sight of a few peach blossoms on a couple of my trees, and I felt encouraged, both because I might actually get peaches, but also that it seemed to me that nature, after years of cruelty to it by humans, seemed, in the last 15 months or so, to be fighting back.

I have more than one variety of peach trees in my orchard, and they make slightly different blossoms.
I have more than one variety of peach trees in my orchard, and they make slightly different blossoms.

First Day of Spring

Redbud blossoms sway in the spring breeze at last light.
Redbud blossoms sway in the spring breeze at last light.

I have been on vacation all week, and Abby and I have really enjoyed being together all the time.

The weather turned warm, and for the first day of spring, I chased down a few images of our redbud tree.

Also of note, my plum trees are putting on blossoms, but my peaches are going straight to leaves, which might mean I won’t get peaches this year.

Snow-white plum blossoms take on warm tones at sunset tonight.
Snow-white plum blossoms take on warm tones at sunset tonight.

Home, Well, and Back to Work

I missed my Ada Sunrise Rotary meeting two weeks ago due to the snowstorm, and last week because Abby was still in the hospital, but today I returned, and had what has become my favorite, and most indulgent, meal of the week for me, a veggie omelette, hash browns, toast and coffee.
I missed my Ada Sunrise Rotary meeting two weeks ago due to the snowstorm, and last week because Abby was still in the hospital, but today I returned, and had what has become my favorite, and most indulgent, meal of the week for me, a veggie omelette, hash browns, toast and coffee.

My social media followers know that Abby was released from the hospital last week, and while she was sketchy for a day or two, it seems like she is fine now.

It was nice to return to work, and a normal life. The stress of missing Abby and not knowing the outcome of her illness was overwhelming.

Christy Lucas Sheppard and I wait for the start of the Roff Tiger's state playoff game in Oklahoma City Wednesday. You might know Christy because she was in the Netflix Miniseries The Innocent Man. She was the cousin of Debra Sue Carter, who was murdered in Ada Dec. 8, 1982.
Christy Lucas Sheppard and I wait for the start of the Roff Tiger’s state playoff game in Oklahoma City Wednesday. You might know Christy because she was in the Netflix Miniseries The Innocent Man. She was the cousin of Debra Sue Carter, who was murdered in Ada Dec. 8, 1982.

From social media…

Also also, thank you technology! Abby lost her iPhone on her way to the hospital in the ambulance, which I didn’t know until today. I went to iCloud and the Find My iPhone feature, put it in lost mode, pinged it, found it at another hospital, the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, where it was in lost and found. My guess is that she dropped it in the ambulance, and someone found it and turned it in on a later EMS run.

Abby and I are watching the Bourne film series. We think the sixth installment should be, “Bourne in the USA,” followed by “Bourne on the Fourth of July,” “Bourne Free,” and “Bourne to Run.” The final installment? “Natural Bourne Killers.”

Dream: we had a house full of teenagers, some of them drunk, when I discover a bloodhound has scattered hundreds of pounds of popcorn through the house over a period of weeks, and everyone was simply pushing paths through it like plowing snow. We decide to make pizza, then decide it would be easier to order pizza, but every time I lift my phone and look at it, it is a different brand or ever from a different era.

For us, this was the day the Rona started, this week last year. Schools got together to send off their teams to the state basketball tournament. Some of them got as far as the gyms where they were going before they were turned away. I got about 20 minutes west of town on the way to cover them when an editor called me and told me everything was canceled.
For us, this was the day the Rona started, this week last year. Schools got together to send off their teams to the state basketball tournament. Some of them got as far as the gyms where they were going before they were turned away. I got about 20 minutes west of town on the way to cover them when an editor called me and told me everything was canceled.

I’ve Been Vaxed!

Good news: today I got my first coronavirus vaccination. I received it at a vaccination event sponsored by The Clinic and the Pontotoc Technology Center where I teach photography. It was the Moderna brand. So far, the only side effect has been the most common: soreness at the injection site.

I feel very fortunate to get my coronavirus vaccination today. Maybe we are finally on our way out of the dark pandemic tunnel.
I feel very fortunate to get my coronavirus vaccination today. Maybe we are finally on our way out of the dark pandemic tunnel.

Abby is still in the hospital, but fortunately got vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer brand weeks ago, so hopefully she is protected in her situation. She sounded much better on the phone, and might be able to come home in a day or two.

In the meantime, her Chihuahua, Summer, is still moping.

Summer the Chihuahua lays on one of Abby's afghans yesterday. I tell her she's a good girl, but she still misses Abby.
Summer the Chihuahua lays on one of Abby’s afghans yesterday. I tell her she’s a good girl, but she still misses Abby.

My Turn to Wait

Abby is in the hospital, and she and I are both very stressed by the fact that I can’t join her. Like people across the globe, including Abby’s daughter just two weeks ago, hospital stays are in isolation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (a phrase I have learned to type in my sleep.)

I'd like to think I miss Abby more than anyone, but her tiny Chihuahua Summer has been curled up on one of Abby's afghans all day.
I’d like to think I miss Abby more than anyone, but her tiny Chihuahua Summer has been curled up on one of Abby’s afghans all day.

Abby is not in any immediate danger. It became necessary to call EMS this morning when, after several days of difficulty, she was unable to walk or even stand on her own. The initial diagnosis is hypercalcaemia (link)

The Wikipedia article says, “The neuromuscular symptoms of hypercalcaemia are caused by a negative bathmotropic effect due to the increased interaction of calcium with sodium channels. Since calcium blocks sodium channels and inhibits depolarization of nerve and muscle fibers, increased calcium raises the threshold for depolarization. This results in diminished deep tendon reflexes (hyporeflexia), and skeletal muscle weakness.”

She was tested for coronavirus and flu, and does not have them.

As she got sicker, she experienced some cognitive difficulty, but, as is often the case with her, intravenous fluids bring her right around, and on the phone just down she sounded clearer-headed, and aggravated with the situation, which I take as a good sign.

I’m not really eating or sleeping, which is what I do when I am stressed, though as I wrote this I made myself eat a bowl of soup.

She said a doctor said she might be there three days, so that tired clichéd Tom Petty song lyric, “the waiting is the hardest part,” is mine today.

Diet Notes

This was my meal of Alaskan pollock last night. Abby had shrimp scampi.
This was my meal of Alaskan pollock last night. Abby had shrimp scampi.

I recently elected to add some fish to my diet in hopes of getting my wife Abby to eat healthier, or in some cases at all. Important caveats include the idea that the fish is noted as nutritious on its own merits, is caught in a sustainable fashion, and is prepared in a healthy manner (as in not deep fried.)

Note: there is no such thing as a vegetarian who eats fish. Therefore, I am no long a vegetarian. Need to call me something? How about dynamic healthitarian?

With the stress of the Rona on Abby, who is already somewhat isolated, she tends to turn down my offers of food, saying she’ll just eat some crackers or that she isn’t hungry at all, but if I prepare a big meal with something she loves – recently it was Alaskan salmon, saffron rice, and steamed Brussels sprouts – it makes her smile and appreciate it, and, of course, eat it.

A new social media friend of mine, who showed up in my feed by posting a picture I took of her as a first grader in December 1988, says she wants to lose 50 pounds, and, “has been making excuses and displacing the blame from myself this whole time. But this time is different.”

I wish I had some genius to share with her, but I think my success with diet and weight discipline is more about who I am than it is about any tricks up my sleeve. It’s easy, for example, for me to stop eating when I’m full. I seldom desire foods that are outright bad for me, like candy, doughnuts, or soft drinks. But I know plenty of people, maybe even most people, who pass by the fruit tray at the sports watch party and dig in to the Doritos.

I am also very, very lucky that my current level of health allows me to move, work on my feet, walk dogs miles a day, and feel like it energizes me. Part of it is luck that I don’t have arthritis or bad feet, but part of it is that my choices lead to better outcomes. I don’t have type II diabetes because I eat right and exercise, and I am able to eat right and exercise because I don’t have type II diabetes.

I friended the person who is trying to lose weight after she posted a snapshot of this newspaper, The Ada Evening News from December 11, 1988. I had been at The News for just six weeks when I made those photos.
I friended the person who is trying to lose weight after she posted a snapshot of this newspaper, The Ada Evening News from December 11, 1988. I had been at The News for just six weeks when I made those photos.

Sunny Sixteen

A young photojournalist friend of ours, Mac Crosby, came to our home in early March 2020 to interview us for her writing class, and made some amazing pictures of us together.
A young photojournalist friend of ours, Mac Crosby, came to our home in early March 2020 to interview us for her writing class, and made some amazing pictures of us together.

Film photographers might be familiar with a handy rule from the days without automation or exposure meters: the “sunny 16” rule. It gives a rough suggestion for exposure, f/16 at the reciprocal of the film speed, which with 100-ISO film would be 1/100th of a second.

I like the idea of “sunny sixteen” much better than the notion of “sweet sixteen” to describe our sixteenth wedding anniversary, as it seems much less of a cliché, and more positive. Sunny.

Abby and I were married on October 12, 2004 at Arches National Park. It was only one day, a beautiful, sunny one, that marked the start of this wonderful marriage.

You can see the story of our wedding day with dozens of images on our adventure blog here (link).

Abby and I pose for a photo on the Devil's Garden trail at Arches National Park the day before we got married.
Abby and I pose for a photo on the Devil’s Garden trail at Arches National Park the day before we got married.

Her Quiet

The road rumbles around us. Brilliant New Mexico sun shines through the windshield. Brilliant October blue sky surrounds us.

In the seat next to me, she sleeps. On the truck’s MP3 player is this song, Piercing Quiet by Tritonal. It resonates in me. Listen here as you read…

“The world’s in constant motion
And so are all of us.
You love the glow of sunrise.
My stars come out at night.
Your quiet pierces through me,
There’s freedom renewed.
It takes me to a place where
The solace drops right through…”

I reach over and push my fingers under her blanket to find her hand, her willowy, soft, pale hand. I take it, and as she sleeps, she takes my hand. In a second, she turns her head without opening her eyes.

“Where are we?” she asks, almost whispering.

“About an hour from Cuervo,” I say. She smiles, remembering in her half-sleep state a place we once visited, Cuervo, New Mexico.

She goes back to sleep. I find myself blinking back a tear. This moment together is so perfect in its intimacy, its simplicity, it’s identity. I cherish it, breathe it in, memorize it. I don’t know, after all, if it might be our last chance, our last dance. There is nothing I want more than her soft hand in mine, in a quiet moment in eastern New Mexico, with the wild road in front of us, and I don’t want it to end. Ever.

I see that she is asleep again. I look over my shoulder to see our Chihuahuas, Max and Sierra, are also asleep.

All morning long we chatted happily as home fell farther behind us. By noon we were in the Texas panhandle. By 2 p.m., we were in the mesalands of New Mexico. By sunset, we hoped to be in Santa Fe for the night.

I shift in my seat as another 400 miles of trucks and blowing sand and black coffee await. She shifts in response, and I watch as she pulls her newly-bought cowboy hat down to the bridge of her nose to keep out the sunlight streaming through the windshield. I lift my hand and place it on top of her blanket, and feel how warm the sun has made it.

45 minutes later, I hear her say, “Hi.” She stretches and yawns and looks back at the dogs.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

“Yes, what do you want?” she asks back.

“A veggie burger sounds good,” I tell her. “Honey, do you remember your first veggie burger?”

She smiles. I knew she would. On our first vacation together, The High Road, we rode the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to the landing on the crest of the mountain, then hiked for another mile to the restaurant at the very top. She only revealed to me very recently that by the time we got to the restaurant, she was famished. We both got veggie burgers, fries and iced tea.

Some memories never fade.

By the time we rolled into Santa Fe after dark, tired and dusty from the road, we stopped in the breezeway of our hotel and paused. We looked at each other. When everything else is busy and rough and noisy, she is quiet. She is the quiet at the end of every day. She is the quiet at the end of every road.

Aspens in Hillside, Chromo, Colorado, October 2014
Aspens in Hillside, Chromo, Colorado, October 2014

Know What? Chicken Butt?

This chicken wasn't at all shy about me being in the pen with her.
This chicken wasn’t at all shy about me being in the pen with her.

Our next door neighbor’s efforts to corner the chicken market seem to be coming along nicely. In addition to his 32 chickens, he recently added five guineas and a puppy that he says will grow up to guard the henhouse. They’re all fun and fun to photograph.

These guineas are sure to amuse us with their noisy chatter and tiny eggs.
These guineas are sure to amuse us with their noisy chatter and tiny eggs.
This chicken's feathers are fun to watch, and make an easy focus target for my cameras.
This chicken’s feathers are fun to watch, and make an easy focus target for my cameras.

The Delicate Arch Paradox

It’s not exactly a paradox, and it’s not exactly ironic, but it is frustrating.

How do I justify my love of exploration and photography in spectacular places like Antelope Canyon, Arches National Park, Yosemite, and White Sands, yet still feel contempt for the way these places have become desperately overcrowded?

You can't elope with an antelope's cantaloupe, and you can't really have fun in Antelope Canyon any more.
You can’t elope with an antelope’s cantaloupe, and you can’t really have fun in Antelope Canyon any more.

Part of my problem with this issue is that I feel oddly outmatched by the crowds photographically, not because they have more talent, but because they have diluted the landscape so much with geotags and armchair photographers, squeezing professional photographers and naturalists into an empty corner.

On the third hand, shouldn’t Abby and I have special Delicate Arch creds, since, after all, we got married there?

Am I being whiney because I don’t want to share its specialness, or has it been made universally unspecial by its discovery and overpopulation by the Instagram crowd?

I’ve been sitting on this post for a month, yet can’t quite solidify it. Help me work this out.

I photographed this passel of visitors at Delicate Arch in October 2005.
I photographed this passel of visitors at Delicate Arch in October 2005.

Just to Break the Tension

I’m not pushing this one to social media for inobvious, murky reasons.

I read, and I blew.

My sister says she despises the phrase “these uncertain times” and the word “unprecedented.”

Newspapers struggle to survive, and soon we will get all our news from Snapchat. All reporters will look like puppies and baby deer.

A baby deer is called a deerling.

I despise the idea that corporate America is selling it back to me, and that our culture crashes when we can’t have the things I happen to think we don’t need at all, like indulgent entertainment and indulgent products, indulgent technology, indulgence.

All things are held in balance by circumstances we might never understand.
All things are held in balance by circumstances we might never understand.

Assuming you don’t have a real excuse (asthma, bronchitis, copd, ect.), you have no excuse for complaining about the mask. Can’t breathe? Look in the mirror. I’m surprised your lungs can lift all that fat off your heart.

Ouch. So cold and dismissive. Why can’t we all be perfect like Richard?

The racist name for the pandemic is “Kung Flu,” but I prefer, “Flung Pu.”

Fortunately, all covid news is fake, so we can go back to our gun shows.

If I could sneak headlines into newspaper? (Can I? Whoa. I guess I could.)…

  • Local dickhead steals Christmas
  • Oaklahoma changes name to Tinesee
  • Private parts now pubic (pube lick?)
  • Forecasters predict it will snow assholes all day
  • Sneeze guards added to pocket pullers
  • Deranged goat attacks two ex-presidents in one day
  • 15 college girls killed in tickling accident
  • Renegade vegan farts on supreme court nominee
  • A personal look at author I. K. Malloveru
  • Anus management clinic to remain open

Maybe The Rona is Oxlong Penal Camp 2.0? (Now regretting letting that URL expire.) The grey jumpsuits and dusty sunglasses are just one executive order away.

I am amazed by how many people really like me, and how many people really hate me.

Explosive decompression of my colon.

A “fortice machete” if you will…

  • It was a mistake to trim her coochie with a fortice machete
  • Fortice Machete had been named in the fraud case just a month earlier
  • Fortice Machete was Nicarango’s fifth underground nuclear test
  • The wolfhound cornered a raccoon trying to steal his dog food; I chased it away with a fortice machete
  • Fortice. Not fartus. Although, fortis machette literally translates to “cut the fart.”
  • The fourth Matrix, the one that overheated all the time so they had to stop for water at every other Texaco, was coded with fortice machete
  • Fortice machete is a video game centered around making your opponents orgasm
  • The fortice integument was stronger than sea panels for bulge control

When did being monstrously racist and sexist go from funny to unacceptable? I know it did, but I never got the email announcing it.

I think most people thought the end of the world would be a lot quicker, like a nuclear war, or a lot more fun, like the zombie apocalypse.

What is this, anyway?
What is this, anyway?