A Friendly Little Dystopia, Somewhere in a Solitary Bower, and Dead Presidents

I’m more comfortable in my own little world.  Aren’t we all, I guess, unless you’re one of those people who thrives on being surrounded by the company of others.  I feel positively smothered in the midst of large gatherings. I can only take so much, no matter who it is or what kind of conversation is going on.   Most of my family are incorrigible extroverts (I understand the mentality, but acting as though I’m an extrovert positively wears me out) so they wonder why I don’t always answer the phone immediately or text back the minute I get a text.  Sometimes I simply have to turn all that stuff off or just ignore it if I have any hope of remaining sane functional.

It’s all good here in my own little dystopia.  I have old Journey songs on the MP3 player, iced tea (with lemon only, NO sweetener of any type) and a cougar pool, capacity: 1 old cougar, namely me.  The dogs don’t give a rat’s ass if I wish to engage them in conversation or not as long as they get their meals of processed, crunchy mutton and whatever else is in their dog food, and they get to go out from time to time to perform their bodily functions and run around in the grass.  Jerry will probably be going to the campground this weekend, so I get at least one quiet solitary overnight.  I may utilize some of said solitary time to enjoy some of my live Journey DVDs (cranked up, because I know Jerry is not a Journey fan) and/or finish reading a couple of books.  The one I just started – FDR’s Deadly Secret is proving most fascinating so far. The theory in this book is that FDR died from melanoma that spread to his brain, although he had a laundry list of medical conditions going on that could have killed him too.

I just finished another book – Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President which picked over quite a bit of formerly obscure Marion County history as well as some rather seedy dirty laundry involving Warren G. Harding.  Yes, Harding was a tomcat.  Yes, Harding had friends in low places, but as far as scandal goes, from today’s perspective, I would have to say Clinton far exceeded Harding in the area of tomcatting, and both Clinton and Obama have far exceeded Harding in having friends in low places, and in flat out scandalous and illegal behavior.  Since this book was written in 1998, before many of the Clinton scandals came to light, and Obama was probably still a “community organizer” somewhere in Kenya, I can forgive the author that.  This book was well-researched and documented, and (though long for most people) to me, a fascinating read.

I feel for Florence Harding.  I know all too well how difficult it is to be an intelligent woman stuck with carrying a man with a lot of issues.

I don’t personally think Harding was the worst president ever.  Obama takes the prize on that dubious distinction as the worst president ever hands down as far as I’m concerned, even when compared with Dick Nixon, (in his instance I will venture to speak ill of a fellow Republican,) Jimmy Carter and even Bill Clinton.  Many past presidents (JFK, FDR and LBJ to name a few- in the 20th century) were tomcats.  Almost every past president, including my personal favorite, Ronald Reagan, was involved in something that someone might construe to be scandalous.  It’s a necessity of the office.  Perhaps the most squeaky-clean of the 20th century presidents was Harry Truman- but his sort of Democrat is extinct today, believe that.

Even Reagan had his moments, but IMHO he would do better from the grave than the current squatter occupying the Oval Office.

Come on, answer my poll, and comment, even if you do think I’m a right wing nut job.  I’m not politically correct, and I’m not very easily offended.

History is an endlessly fascinating subject for me, especially 20th century history.  I don’t know where the fascination came from but for the past several years most of my reading has been historical non-fiction.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and I tend to get more engrossed in a story if I know it’s at least somewhat derived from historical fact.

It’s not entirely that I dislike people. Dislike isn’t really the right word. Dealing with people in most circumstances wears me out and sucks up what little energy I have to begin with. I do have my misanthropic tendencies- and I think people get on my nerves more than I should allow- but there are people I do adore.  The main problem I have is I can only take most people in very small doses and I can only take so much of even those who are dearest to me.  I need a lot of time alone, and when for whatever reason I don’t get it, I get very crispy around the edges.

Perhaps it’s the old school Catholic upbringing, but I feel guilty when I actually do put myself first.

In the event an airplane loses cabin pressure in flight, the flight attendant always instructs the adults to put their own oxygen mask on before masking their rugrat.  It makes sense- you have to cover yourself before you can have the resources to cover anyone else- but sometimes I get so preoccupied with other people’s wants and needs that I forget to do the things that re-energize me.

One of those things is simply turning off all the electronics and locking the doors.

 

 

The “Crazy as a Shithouse Rat” Files

 

How can you say no to a request like that?  I, for one, will be absolutely sure to keep my munchables good and far away from the toilet brush holder.

My grandfather (my Dad’s Dad) was one of the most taciturn individuals I’ve ever known- I think he could go days with little more than a grunt or a “yep” or “nope” when asked a direct question.  He could read Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey and watch Westerns for days on end without saying a word to anyone unless he was asked a question.  Grandpa didn’t usually talk unless there was something worth talking about. 

There were certain people in the public eye who he would comment on, and when he did, the tirades were priceless.  For some reason he didn’t much like Jimmy Carter. When President Carter was in the news, Grandpa would go on and on as to why Jimmy should have stayed down in Georgia picking peanuts.  Nor did he like Ted Kennedy, or for that matter, the whole Kennedy family, who he saw as being “Nazi-loving tomcats.”  I always wondered about that statement as a child, but in light of evidence suggesting Joe Kennedy’s pre -WWII support of Hitler and Nazism when he was Ambassador to England, I believe Grandpa actually did know what he was talking about regarding the Kennedys.  Grandpa didn’t care a whole lot for Reagan at first, either (I’ll forgive him for that) as he wasn’t much of a fan of his acting, and Grandpa thought him too old to be President,  but he did gain a lot of respect for Reagan after the assassination attempt. 

But when Grandpa had a really low opinion of someone, he would consider them “crazy as a shithouse rat.”  I have been known to use that simile myself in regard to certain people, but coming from Grandpa the phrase had a deeper dimension to it.  Until the early 1960’s they did not have an indoor toilet.  He used an outhouse for many years and probably encountered real live shithouse rats.  I remember an incident from when I was maybe five or six years old that helped illustrate the point. 

Back in the 1970’s there was still an open sewer that ran parallel to the railroad tracks that were not even a block away from my grandparents’ house.   We didn’t really understand what it was, we just called it the QuQua ditch, and we knew that the water in it was really dirty. It was OK to float paper boats in it- if you could stand the smell- but you dared not wade in it or even touch the water.  It was several years before I learned why this was so imperative.

An absolutely huge rat – and this is no exaggeration, it was the size of a small dog- came up from the sewer grate in the street (not far from the open ditch, as the storm sewers ran directly into the QuQua, along with lots of other unspeakable things) and was leisurely strolling about in broad daylight when we kids were playing outside.  I was completely freaked by this and ran back, screaming, into my grandparents’ house.  Grandpa looked out the window, saw the rat and got a shovel from the garage.  As the rat sauntered ever closer to the yards and the sidewalk, Grandpa ran up behind it and bashed its brains out with the shovel.  He scooped up the dead rat with the shovel and dumped it in the trash.  All he said about it was that we kids should never get near any rats or possums that come up from the sewer in the daytime because they have rabies and if they bite you’ll get the rabies. 

Nobody wanted to get the rabies, believe that.  We didn’t understand what rabies is, but we didn’t want to get it either.

That was probably the closest I ever got to a literal shithouse rat.

I have had pet rats- they are smarter than gerbils or hamsters- but they still have the common rodent problem of no bowel or bladder control.  Somehow a pet loses some of its charm when it is constantly going to the bathroom on you.  Our snakes eat rats (I have a ball python and Jerry has a red-tailed boa) which is sort of difficult because the snakes like their food live.  I know, it’s weird to have snakes, but Jerry likes them, and even I have to admit they are cool to watch.

Which brings me to today’s example of “crazy as a shithouse rat.”  Sadly, he’s from Ohio, albeit the northeast corner of Ohio where the lunatic fringe tends to congregate.   Dennis Kucinich is in the news again- for suing the government over an olive pit.  And I thought Obama’s priorities were screwed.  Compared to Kucinich, Obama almost looks reasonable and sane.

Why, oh, why, don’t the voters send their space cadet of a Representative back to the mistake on the lake where he belongs?

And speaking of being a space cadet, Kucinich claims that he saw a UFO while hanging out at Shirley MacLaine’s.  And I’m the Queen of England.

It may be unfair to the rats to compare them to Kucinich- he’s truly a nut job.  However, infamy is still a form of fame.

Beam me up!