I Am Here By Some Sad, Cosmic Mistake, and I Am Homesick.

I have decided that from now on, I want every weekend to have five days. I don’t care where the five days come from, whether it means that we borrow a few days from the months we don’t like (I vote we get rid of February and March) or we just make up new day names (how about a Vinoday, a Dancerday, and a Dwadleday?)  I just want five days a week to be weekend-ish.

Last week Top Cat and I tried out this new five-day-weekend arrangement that I’d like to negotiate with the universe, and we went away (on an airplane!) for the weekend, which started on Wednesday afternoon (after we got off the plane) and ended on Sunday night (we took the plane back to Long Island on Monday morning). (Plane travel is so grotty that it cannot be counted in as part of the weekend-ish scenario.)

I can’t say that we were at the top of our game on this trip. Top Cat forgot to reserve a car and I forgot to pack a toothbrush. But it only takes about 10 minutes to get a car at Raleigh Airport and it’s not hard to get a toothbrush at Bynam’s Drug Store, where I got to eavesdrop on the ladies who were taking about a guy named Donny Joe, not the one who works at the church but the one who makes those birthday cakes that everyone likes.

So, yes, we had landed in southern America, and as soon as we hit the bricks there, which on the cusp of December does not mean that all your good porch-sitting days are over, I knew I would LOVE this place . . . 

. . . because you can bring your Sadie DoG to Santa’s village to get her picture taken (Sadie’s mom told her: Ears Up, Sadie; Ears Up!):

In those last two photos I tried to drop a clue about where we went (check out the flags) but I won’t be coy any longer. We went to the little town of New Bern, North Carolina (pop. 26,524) for no reason but we were on a tour of visiting’ our southern friends and New Bern was on the map.

They have a thing about bears in New Bern. So does old Bern, a city in Switzerland that has lent its coat of arms to their Tar Heel namesake.

Bern and New Bern have a lot in common. They are both on maps, and one is ranked among the Top 10 places in the world to live for quality of life and is the de facto capital of Switzerland from where the Universal Postal Union operates, which coordinates postal policies among member nations of the U.N. and has established that:

  1. There should be a uniform flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world
  2. Postal authorities should give equal treatment to foreign and domestic mail
  3. Each country should retain all money it has collected for international postage.

and the other was the birth place of Pepsi-Cola.

During our two-day perusal of New Bern, we went on a pub crawl (first night) that led us to enter our first Trivia Night contest (second night). We came in third, and if I had known which order of monks have 6 million of their bones buried in Rome (the Capuchins) or the name of the largest Native American tribe (it’s the Cherokee, not the Sioux) I could have come in 2nd. However, our 3rd prize covered our bar bill, so, Nice!

We saw the sun set over the Trent River . . . 

. . . and then we walked into town for dinner at a place where the chef was a guy from Baltimore so we knew the crab cakes would be awesome. And they were.

Day Three put us in the small town of Washington (pop. 9,801), where all the boats docked on the Pamlico River are required to be festively attired for the Holiday season:

It was almost 8 o’clock when we walked through the empty downtown (no pub crawl this night) :

But the next day we were back out on Main Street for the Christmas Parade:

Later, I got to meet this goat (her name is Eleanor):

I didn’t get to meet these Scotties, but I  LOVE THEM:


Days Four and Five were celebrated in the town of Oriental (pop. 882), where I got to visit my freind’s famous, hand-made Blue Bottle garden:

. . . and her new cat, Nieko, who is doing her best to teach their old DoG, Jack (who is not that crazy about little cats at all), some advanced catology re: the Two Bodies/One Space Theorem of Napping:

Seriously, I want to get in on that velvet cushion.

It was a very good weekend.

The quote that I am using for my header today is from Ernest Howard Crosby (1856 – 1907) and it describes how I feel about living in America these days. Right before I started to type this blog I listened to  Al Franken speak from the floor of the Senate in order to resign his seat as the junior Senator from Minnesota and I’m very sad. I’m very sad that he had to resign while there is a Republican sitting in the White House who has bragged, on tape, about his numerous sexual assaults on women, and while there is a pedophile running for the Senate in Alabama with the full support of his party. . . the Republican party, of course. I’m sad that America has gone bat-shit crazy.

It is clear that all a Republican has to do is simply deny all allegations, and their colleagues in the Senate and House will just shrug their shoulders, or pretend that it’s a matter for “the people” to decide. The Democrats, on the other hand, have made clear that they believe what women say and there will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and they mean it. They actually live up to the values they say they represent but Jesus, I’m tired and sad about being on the right side when I imagine that Donald Trump, Roy Jones, and U. S. Representative Blake Farenthold (he’s the guy from Texas’ 27th district who owes the taxpayers $84,000 for settlement of his sexual harassment case) are celebrating that they are members of the Republican party today.  And their wives, I’m sure, are thankful that they are married to such godly men who stand for the Christian values that will make American great again.

However: North Carolina GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, the finance chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (which removed their financial support of Roy Moore on Nov. 10) said the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm will be “standing firm” against helping Moore and, if he is elected, has called for an ethics investigation into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him.

Well, that’s something. But it’s not enough to not make me a little less homesick for the America I used to be proud of.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Thank you for letting me be part of your pre-weekend preparations. Whether you are porch sitting, pub crawling,  trivia contesting,  parading in your finest red jammies, or overthrowing the patriarchy this weekend, I hope it renews your spirit and refreshes your passion for your mission in life. I hope you get to hear your favorite Christmas carol and that you sing along and dance around and shake off the grunge of current events and do it good.

Oh, and there’s THIS:

Australia’s Parliament has voted to approve same-sex marriage following a protracted and often bitter debate that was finally settled in a nationwide referendum last month that overwhelmingly backed the move.

In a country where there had been 22 unsuccessful attempts in Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage since 2004, this should be seen as the triumph of a democracy learning to live up to its values.

Well done, Australia:

Fomer Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch critic of same-sex marriage, said: “When it comes to same-sex marriage, some countries have introduced it via the courts, some via Parliament, and others — Ireland and now Australia — by vote of the people,” Mr. Abbott said. “And that is the best way because it resolves this matter beyond doubt or quibble.”

Remember: Beyond doubt or quibble, the majority of the people of the United States voted for Hillary for President. Every day since November 11, 2016, I have wished that I lived in a country where that mattered.

See you here next Friday. XX OO.


22 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan December 8, 2017 @ 12:56 am

    Looks like a nice holiday and very festive too. On the other subject… I keep waiting to hear that there are people in the streets saying they are as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore… still waiting. I know there are good people doing things but really I keep thinking about the good people who are doing nothing. We all need to take to the streets. I think our days are numbered, what with North Korea having it’s cage rattled again and again and now the recognising of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it seems that there is not enough consideration of other races and religions feelings. I thought Jerusalem worked best when it was recognised as a holy city to Muslims, Christians and Jews. I’m too scared to turn on the news.

    • Patricia December 13, 2017 @ 9:35 am

      We did take to the streets … last year right after the inauguration of Trumpet. Jan 21, 2017. The largest single day march in US history. Guess we need to keep right on marching … But I am slightly cheered up by Ray Moore’s failure in Alabama.

      • Patricia December 13, 2017 @ 9:37 am

        Err, make that Roy Moore. I apologize to all Ray Moores for my mistake.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:20 am

      What Patricia said, and also I thought we should have revolted when it was proved that the Bush administration all lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded Iraq. I was outraged and pissed and incredulous that Americans were like sheep, willing to be lied to and then willing to do nothing when those lies were fully revealed. i don’t know why Cheney and Rumsfeld aren’t in jail.

      But then we elected Barak Obama, and righted the wrongs. So who knows WHO will arise in 2020. And yes, the defeat of Roy Moore does a lot to make me hate people a little less.

  2. Elizabeth Schmid December 8, 2017 @ 7:40 am

    I think trump gets up every morning asking himself what he can possibly do to make as many people as possible unhappy. he spreads misery wherever he goes…
    the animals in your post look charming

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:22 am

      That’s nice of you, to think that der Drumpf actually thinks.

  3. Citizen Reader December 8, 2017 @ 9:43 am

    If it makes you feel any better Obama was no prize, as he was a drone-warfare-happy, in the pocket of pharmaceutical and financial corporations tool, and relentless persecutor of whistleblowers and the free press. Then again one of my most deeply held beliefs is that All Presidents Are Gross (with the possible exceptions of Jimmy Carter and Abraham Lincoln). Der Trumpf certainly cements that belief system.

    Your pictures are gorgeous; thank you. I can quite honestly say I’ve never wanted to travel to the American South but your pictures might just change my mind.

    Australia also has gun control. Good on you, Australia.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:25 am

      Australia also has wombats and koala bears that drop unexpectedly from eucalyptus trees. I want to take a walk in the eucalyptus woods soooooo baddddd.

  4. Carol December 8, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

    That’s what truly bothers me, too, is that Hillary got the majority of votes. With these powerful predators falling like dominoes, it would have been perfect to have our woman in the White House.
    Thanks for the weekly dose of sweet animals.
    We have snow coming tomorrow and I’m painting all day long.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:25 am

      Me too! I also painted during the storm and truly earned by glass (or two) of ice cold bubbly.

  5. Catalyst December 8, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

    I have an old (in years and tenure) friend who lives in Raleigh. Though I could get along without the cold and snow, when it happens, it looks like a beautiful state, regardless of its politics.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:28 am

      My husband and I didn’t even catch one glimpse of Raleigh, so we have to put that on the TO DO list for next time. I could not believe how good the roads were, which I put down to an absence of the dreaded freeze/thaw cycle that makes for gigantic potholes here in the Northeast, and the fact that there’s a crap load of military bases in the state and good roads are necessary for the swift shifting of ordnance in times of strife.

  6. Kirra December 8, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

    I vote for the five day weekend too! Your trip looks great, I love the Christmas parade with animals and compulsory boat decorating, reminds me of where I grew up in country Australia.

    It was a good week for Australia, after many bad weeks/years on this issue we can finally start to treat people more equally. Slimy Tony Abbot didn’t even vote in parliament on the bill (only four policiticians voted against the bill and ten ‘no’ positions politicians abstained, mainly because in the people’s postal vote their electorates voted ‘yes’!). There was singing from the audience in parliament after the successful vote, which was pretty special as Australians don’t sing that often when not at sport events.

    It must be hard putting up with this truly crazy man as president, there was a great interview Hilary did for Australian tv about a month ago and it’s so sad to think you could have this strong articulate woman as president and you got him. You have to remember most politicians are compromised, otherwise they never would have been successful in the current political system! Until the system changes the same dodgy things will happen.

    We’re getting ready for 38 degrees (100 degrees) this Wednesday – it’s truly summer now. Enjoy the snow for me if you get it!

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:31 am

      I watched the video when the spectators and the parliamentarians all began to sing I Am Australian, and then I watched to music video for the song. It was a great moment, audit’s a lovely song.

      There is no such ting as a perfect political system. Even the United Federation of Planets has dissent and back stabbing and weasels. It’s a human institution and it’s what we are stuck with, so I don’t complain and make my vote count for the most viable candidate.

  7. Becky December 10, 2017 @ 10:25 am

    I needed this blog!! I agree a five day weekend sounds luscious. Thank you for taking us on this visual trip. I laughed at the Sadie picture and the 2 bodies napping in the same spot was so sweet. It looked like a fabulous trip.
    I too am sad about the state of our country. I listened to Franken’s speech and the couldn’t help but think of the irony of the trash occupying the WH and the other trash ball running for office. ( Hilary will always be the rightful owner of the presidency to me.). I don’t know how elected republicans can go to sleep with a clear conscience…..where are their scruples..oh I forgot on the Hollywood access bus.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:34 am

      I listened to Franken’s speech also and now I’m mad as hell at Kristin Gillebrand, the senator from my state who grandstanded for his resignation. She was played by the Republicans, who always count on the Democrats doing the right thing because we are too STUPiD to think 5 moves ahead. So now we’ll have a safe Democratic seat in play. Nice going.

      I have to look at cats doing cute things about 100 times a day, just to calm down from all the idiocy.

  8. Steve December 11, 2017 @ 3:29 am

    Bloody electoral college!!

    Your adventures in New Bern and environs sound great. I love a shop with old bottles for a dollar. Did you buy any? I never knew of the link between New Bern and Bern — I guess I just never thought about it.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the state of the country and the Republicans. They play dirty and they have for decades. They aren’t tied to any noble social ideals like fairness or justice, the way Democrats are. They’re just tied to profit and one-upmanship.

    By the way, I have trouble reading your blog from work, which is why I’m behind. (I do almost all my blog reading from work, on my breaks!) For some reason our web security program has blocked it as “suspicious,” which is no reflection on your blog — it’s some hangup in our program. So sorry I haven’t been around — I HAVE tried, I promise!

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:39 am

      Hi Steve! When I first started this blog in 2007 there was a Vivian Swift in San Fransisco who owned the domain vivianswift.com. She was a dominatrix and her website was for adults only. I contacted her and we had a laugh, ha ha, there are two Vivian Swifts on the internet! I am vivianswiftblog.com, but many of my first readers would accidentally shorten the web address and find themselves looking at a voluptuous ice blonde in bondage instead of pictures of my cats.

      I like to think that I’m as dangerous as vivianswift.com but alas, the only people I want to hurt are the feelings of Republicans with my razor wit.But maybe there is some echo of the X-rated Vivian Swift still lingering in the inter webs.

      The San Fransisco Vivian Swift has given up her on line presence and I am often offered her old domaine name for purchase, but at $999.99 the price is to steep for me.

  9. Marilyn December 12, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

    I always love your political reviews, keep them coming. They want to elect Roy Moore, so if they have to kick him out they can put in another Republican in that position. They are just wanting to save that spot. Love your adventures to the south too, oh those small town events are a delight.

    • Vivian December 14, 2017 @ 11:41 am

      I forgot to add that in the South, the breakfast biscuits are awesome!! In New Bern I got one as big as a saucer, and it was light and fluffy and the top was glazed with salty butter. And still warm from the oven. O. M. G.

  10. Felicia Cass December 14, 2017 @ 9:12 pm

    Vivan, we visited New Bern last year and found it as delightful as you describe. So glad you got away for a bit of fun and inspiration. The long arc of time bends towards goodness and this week Alabama showed what happens when good people reject cynicism

  11. Gigi DeVault December 16, 2017 @ 12:46 am

    I enjoyed the tour of your 5-day weekend. I like the idea and think we should go that way or the try out the 30-35 hour weekday in concert with our French colleagues. Why is it that people don’t perceive the shortness of life and think that spending most of their life at work is a good thing. Humans can be such lemmings!

    The photo of the Obamas…the halcyon days of integrity, civility, compassion, and intelligence. That Obama survived at all as President was a miracle of sorts. That we thrived as a country during his watch is testimony to enlightened governance. Politicians must be able to survive in the political environment at the same time that they strive to improve the system. Sort if like Jack, the DoG, and Nieko, the cat, don’t you think? Thus, compromise is a tool and the fine dance between Congress and the President means – when everything is pretty much going right – an occasional toe is stepped on.

    In my opinion, Abraham Lincoln was a master at compromise. Jimmy Carter was compassionate, principled, and idealistic – I think Washington DC ground him down. Maybe if Al Gore had won we’d be working to save the planet and not destroy it.

    What we have in the WH now is a terrible myopic toddler whose inane clogging destroys everything. There is no dance, there is no nuance. There are only the crass, careless, and hateful acts of an unhinged narcissist.

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