Middle East

Meadows near Columbia River

Image by palestrina55 via Flickr

Being that we were on holiday in the Columbia River Valley in British Columbia if the world had actually ended Saturday, we’d have seen it coming. As one of the last time zones to hit 6 P.M., we should have been greeted with tales of mass vanishings and mayhem with our breakfast, but God, it seems, had not received the text or if he did, stubbornly decided to stick with his own random scheduling because the world was the world – same as usual.

Oh, there were earthquakes. Normal, apparently, for their global addresses. Flooding frustrations continue as do raging forest and grass fires. Tornadoes killed people. And I imagine the very usual death and destruction of multiple Middle East wars – civil or not – made a few more marks on the universe’s karma, the earth’s landscape and people’s lives.

On the drive home we passed at least two churches with jam-packed parking lots with nary a decorated limo in sight, and I wondered how those people could persist in a faith clearly unfounded and how they would rationalize the non-coming of Christ when May 22nd arrived.

But I knew they would. If you are so unhappy with your life that you long for the deaths of not just strangers but people you might really know and love, coming up with a new story to explain why The Rapture didn’t occur would be relatively easy for you.

Let’s face it. For some folks, life sucks. It might be tangible suckiness like home foreclosure, unemployment, physical affliction or emotional fulfillment, or it might be some slanted view of reality that doesn’t allow them to see that life is about choice and they aren’t doing such a hot job of making good ones. Whatever the reason, there are people for whom the hope of a God snatching them out of their clothes and planting them in paradise is appealing. The fact that others suffer and are victimized in effect by a supposedly caring deity doesn’t appear contradictory to them which just confirms – in my mind – the whole idea that “quiet lives of desperation” isn’t just a nicely written descriptor in a work of fiction.

Today is another day, as Scarlet once said. And though a 12 mile high volcanic plume over Iceland threatens European air travel and decent summer temperatures again, I feel that we can safely call the ball on this last end of times prediction a big miss.

Ah well, we still have the Mayans, 2012 and a rapidly descending United States, don’t we?


Image by tommypatto ~ IMAGINE. via Flickr

The Royal family marries off an heir to the throne minus coercion, Osama bin Laden is officially dead and Stephen Harper wins a majority government. An apocalypse has to be looming, don’t you think?

Being an American in the Canuck Kingdom feels like one of the Marvel Comics Bizarro worlds sometimes. Part of the Commonwealth, you’d think that Canadians would be all over the wedding of Kate and Wills, but it was a bigger deal to the folks down South than it was here. Similarly, for all our military fetch and carry deference in the ongoing American wars in the Middle East, the reaction to the dancing in the streets à la Arabs celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers left most Canadians a bit chilled.

And tonight? Not only have the Tories claimed their third consecutive election victory, but they will rule as the majority. No less startling was the utter collapse of the Liberals, the near extinction of the Bloc Québécois and Jack Layton‘s NDP rising up to claim the official opposition mantle.

Why do I care?

I have been struggling of late with this tangled web I weave around the Internet, and it occurred to me today – after vainly trying to write a post for my paying gig for the last two weeks and recoiling in weariness from a couple of Tea-Bagging baiters in the comment section of a Des Moines Register columnist – that I am tired of the way nothing changes.

Osama bin Laden is dead. They tell us at any rate.

No, they don’t have his body – conveniently they dumped it overboard on the way to spread the good news. There are no pictures, dental records or fingerprints. There’s video … of the swabbies tipping a shroud into the dark drink, in case anyone would care to be convinced by that.

It’s like someone captured BigFoot in the Rockies then killed it, cooked and ate some of him, dumped the body for wolves and came back to civilization to tell the tale – minus pictures even though he was carrying his brand new white iPhone 4.

“You just have to trust me.”

And the incredible thing is that “they” do. Try to tell anyone that even if bin Laden is actually dead – recently – nothing is going back to the way it was before – they won’t care. It’s enough to dance around with the Stars and Stripes proclaiming “justice!” “victory!” “Wolverines!”

I’m tired of writing about the slow death of public education or the coming loss of choice for women and their subsequent June Cleaver re-enslavement. No one cares. The choir is too busy blogging and writing non-fiction that no one reads. The opposition smugly sits back to wait for their next victory lap. “Wolverines!” The commenters in the  boxes choke on the smoking flames.

Happy New Rabbit Year!

Image by jijis via Flickr

As I have totally pushed the silliness about my zodiac sign disappearing into some unpronounceable and decidedly undesirable “lost sign” out of my mind (despite the fact that my husband thinks the new one suits me better), I must confess that I much prefer the nuance of Chinese astrology anyway.

I am a Rabbit, so this is sort of my year. Born in a water year with an ascendant Dragon (that’s the equivalent of a rising sign), I have found that the Chinese seem to know me a bit better than the Greeks. Though my daughter persists in her belief that I am a daughter of Zeus when she’s not reimagining her family as an alpha wolf pack.

Alpha, not Omega.

“Omegas are just silly and play all day, Mom,” she said.

She was born in the year of the Horse. A cause of great despair to have a daughter born in a Horse year. Sis’s youngest was born in the sign of the Horse and having observed her from birth to college – I am going to have to agree. I shudder a bit at the future.

Curiously, in both astrological universes I tend to gravitate towards completely unsuitable mates., a Virgo born in the year of the Metal Ox and a Scorpio Water Ox. Oxen though are grounded, stubborn and get the job done types and Rabbits? Probably not so much. I must be pretty awesome for anyone to pick up the cross that is me.

But today is the beginning of the new year in many Asian cultures and countries. It’s so much more festive and fraught with symbolism and possibility than the staid Western new year, in my opinion. There are dragons and parades and predictions for everyone and thing.

In the West we get top ten lists up the ying-yang and drunkenness.

Hmmm. I think we get gypped.

So anyway, I read that life in the year of your Chinese sign is anything but smooth. Up and down. Conflict. Possibly pestilence and revolution. Which confuses me because these are all things that Rabbits avoid like the second coming of another Bush dynasty. But Rabbit years have a mixed history.

Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in the summer of 1963, a Rabbit year, but JFK was assassinated that November. And I was born in the last weeks of the year though that’s probably neither here nor there.

1975 saw the end of a horrific recession. Score one for the Rabbit. But 1987 saw one of the first Wall Street crashes that have plagued us ever since.

Hard to tell what might happen this year. But with fascism’s slow creep across the United States and it being the kick off of yet another election cycle (its small wonder that no actual governing is ever accomplished in a country where officials mostly run for office and never really settle in long enough to work), things look bleak. And that’s minus the Four Horsemen like weather that’s occurring at the moment.

Oh yeah and there’s that revolution thing that appears to be sweeping the Middle East.


We hates conflict. Witness my tooth issues as prime example number one. I changed dentists because I loathed the hygienist I was assigned to instead of simply risking hurting the guy’s feelings (it was a sure risk by the way because the guy is very sensitive), I tried out someone new.

The hygienist was awesome. The dentist screwed up my bottom molars and I am probably going to lose the back one at the very least.

And I am still ducking the question of having my teeth cleaned. They ask. I hedge.

This is how much of a Rabbit I am.

Rabbits look cuddly. But they are not. Although some Asian cultures refer to the sign as The Cat. I think cats are too aloof and disinterested to really convey the personalities of those of us born in those years.

Although I love that old Al Stewart song, Year of the Cat, don’t you?

I secretly like to think I am this incredibly awesome, but sadly, I think not so much.

Middle daughter, Mick, has a rabbit. Cunning and destructive. She could be a character in a Stephen King short story. The rabbit. Not Mick. However if Mick were a character in the story with the Rabbit, it wouldn’t end well.

Mick’s rabbit “escapes” periodically and disappears.

Nothing could induce me to drop an animal out the window of a moving vehicle on a deserted Range Road faster than a bunny that occasionally turned up missing and then just as creepily – reappeared.

But despite the bunny’s destructive ways and eerie vanishing acts, Mick believes that one day it will come to love her.

If it doesn’t dispatch her one night as she sleeps and then opens the window to let the magpies in.


But back to the Year of the Rabbit. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t imagine Peter Rabbit. Think something along the lines of fur balls returning from the Pet Semetary. And you’ll probably be okay.