What We Think About When We Think About Thinking.

I adore the  State Flag of Maryland:

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM on Flikr

There are 50 states in the USA and this is the only one that has what I call style. The colors and shapes are so unexpected, so discordant, so difficult to pull off in that limited amount of space, yet it holds together like an epic poem reduced to haiku; like the way the weirdly plastic flavors of Cool Ranch Doritos pairs outstandingly well with an ice cold Grand Marnier margarita; like the way the audacious and sophisticated cord progressions in a Burt Bacharach song (like, in Alfie) take you by surprise and yet seem so right. Like that. I really, really love this flag.

Marylanders also have a State Cat, chosen on the same design principles and esthetic as their State Flag:

Right. The State Cat of Maryland is the Calico.

So, yeah, I’m fairly sure that by now you and me both think Maryland is pretty much our favorite state in the union. And now you can understand why a person of culture and taste might get a strong desire to visit Maryland and why last week I, being such a person, ventured off my Isle of Long and drove down to The Free State:

Once I rolled onto Maryland soil I kew I was south of the Mason-Dixon line because I followed this homeboy for about a mile, laughing all the way. It looked hugely funny, the way this Chevy seemed to be coming apart at the seems at approx. 60 miles per hour, bumper flapping in the breeze the way a bumper should never, ever, flap in the breeze.  Ha ha ha ha.

Well, I laughed about it until I pictured what would happen if the damn thing actually fell off (which I then hit, spin into on-coming traffic, and die) so I veered onto the nearest exit towards the reason for my visit to The Free State:

Marilyn: Note the sleeveless top. I’m 9 years away from proving to myself that I can achieve my new goal in life, which is wearing a sleeveless top with no shame when I’m 70.

You might remember how, several months back, on a cold late Winter day, a skinny, straggly, smelly, and sick stray cat wandered into my back yard, and how I couldn’t take him in because I needed to take in another cat like I need to take a joy ride over some Maryland guy’s Chevy bumper, but you might not know that a Dear Reader of this very blog saw the forlorn Mr. Fluffy here and decided this was a match made in Kitty Heaven.  So after Mr. Fluffy got his bill of health from the vet, we enacted some inter-state Cat Commerce and Mr. Fluffy was exported to Maryland, and this was the first time I got to visit a new and improved Mr. Fluffy in his forever home.

Mr Fluffy loves his forever people, and his forever people love him, and all this love has made Mr. Fluffy fat and beautiful. Just another reason why I LOVE Maryland.

Texas, however, can go fuck itself.

In the fiscal year 2011 – 2012 Texas — yes, TEXAS — received more federal disaster relief aid than any other state due to wildfires there in 2011.

And then in October 2012, Super Storm Sandy hit the East Coast of America, crippling the country’s most densely populated region with a 600-mile long swath of destruction.

So of course every Texas Republican in Congress (except for the guy from Houston, Rep. Joh Culbertson) voted against disaster relief aid for New York and New Jersey — that’s 20 in the House and both Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Republican claims that the Super Storm Sandy aid bill was loaded with pork-barrel spending have been proven false time and again. The Texas Republicans were just being dicks. They are being their usual greedy, self-righteous, white-supremist, anti-women, “Christian”, small-government-hypocritical dicks.

Jeff Sessions, currently Attorney General, was a Senator at the time and he also voted against Super Storm Sandy aid. His home state of Alabama is one of those Southern Republican states (inc. Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina) that sucks vast amounts of federal money out of Washington D.C., way more than what they put in, so that 34.9% of Alabama state spending comes from taxpayers who live thousands of miles away from that shit hole.

Republican lawmakers from Long Island (where I live) have reminded the Texans’ of their stand against Big Government in 2012 but have said that there will no hard feelings when it’s time for them to vote for Hurricane Harvey aid. Don’t worry, Texas, our New York and New Jersey federal tax dollars will go to help those poor people suffering in the wake of this terrible disaster. Yeah, yeah,yeah; it’s the right thing to do, we are all Americans together, etc.

That doesn’t mean that Texas . . . at least those parts that send Republican dicks to Washington . . .  can’t still go fuck itself.

Dear me, dear me. . . Is that kind of language unbecoming to a woman my age? Shouldn’t a lady of my mature years refrain from telling Texas to go fuck itself? Or is the fact that I can still get so riled up at smarmy-mouthed self-serving lying bastards a fabulous sign of vim and engagement with Things That Matter? (Spoiler alert: I think this opinion polled is rigged.)

Aging gracefully means something different these days than it used to mean.

This is what 58 Years Old looked like in 1954:

This is me at 61 Years Old in 2017:

I used this photo of me because all the 58-year old celebrities I found pix of have obviously had “work” done. And I happen to be wearing blue.

OK, OK; everybody looks awesome compared to Mamie Eisenhower (for those who don’t remember, Mamie was the wife of our 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower), but that was fun.

But the consensus from last week’s Comments was that the years 60 – 80 are, as experienced by our Dear Readers, can be a whole lot of fun, mostly because it’s the age at which one becomes more skilled at impropriety. Like Gigi said, every day is a once-in-a-lifetime galaxy event, through which we dance as if we have diamonds on the soles of our shoes whether they are Birkenstocks or Jimmy Choos.

Full disclosure. I tried on a pair of Birkenstock shoes once. They made me cry.

I’m agreed with Becky and Jeanie and Monique: the arts keep you from miles away from becoming the kid of old lady who yells at the TV all day.

Claude Monet, mourning the death of both his wife and his son and with his nation mired in the stalemate of slaughter that was World War I, responded to well-wishers on his 75th birthday with these words: “I am happy to let you know that I am more and more passionate about my work, and that my greatest pleasure is to paint and to enjoy nature.

His biographer Charles Merrill Mount wrote about Monet in his 70s: …that cagy resolute crank determinedly struck a defiant attitude. No one expected from him more than intermittent vitality…Instead he boldly embarked on the largest and most protracted work of his lifetime.

This is just one mural in the Grandes Decorations. There’s 7 more where this came from.

That’s what Monet did during the last years of his life: he painted the Grandes Decorations, the 8 murals that line the walls of a specially-built oval gallery in Paris. See? THINKING BIG can happen at any age.

I’ve had some Big Thoughts in my life. Going to Paris for the first time, when I was 19, that was a Big Thought, maybe the biggest one I ever had. 

The last Big Thought I had was  two years ago when I got Top Cat to go on a walk across England along Hadrian’s Wall with me. Well, on second thought, maybe that was just a Slightly Larger Than Average Thought; after all, all it took was money and time.  And we were certainly not the first, nor the oldest, nor the youngest, nor the fastest, to walk from Newcastle to Bowness.

A really Big Thought should take more personal, creative effort, don’t you think? Something that only You, and You Alone, could conceive and achieve?

I will think on this and report back.

In the meantime, this weekend in America we say Good-Bye to the Summer of ’17.

Labor Day — the first Monday in September —  signals the un-ofifcial (but heartfelt) end of Summer in the U S of A. One last True Summer day dream, one last True Summer sweet sorrow. Let us observe a moment of silence for What Might Have Been. (Oh,Summer, why do you burn so bright only to smolder into the most regretful season of the year?)

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone. May all your beverages and your thoughts be super-sized.

**The Maryland flag bears the arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. Calvert was the family name of the Lords Baltimore who founded Maryland, and their colors of gold and black appear in the first and fourth quarters of the flag.

Crossland was the family of the mother of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. The red and white Crossland colors, with a cross bottony, appear in the second and third quarters.

So now you know.

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16 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan September 1, 2017 @ 4:26 am

    Mr Fluffy is just gorgeous and thanks to you he has a wonderful home with adoring owners. He does look happy. I also love the calico cat, great ears! I think it is very sad that some people who really push the fact that they are Christians do not act in a very Christ like manner. They will have to atone for their sins, if there is any justice. Isn’t it funny how times have changed and how 60 is so young nowadays, all a change in mental attitude I think. Thanks for a great post and good rant. Have a great weekend. Pat Taffy for me.

  2. Kirra September 1, 2017 @ 4:48 am

    Maryland does look pretty good, I like their flag and cat. Good to see Mr Fluffy enjoying his forever home.

    Good to hear a strong political rant, you know in Australia we’re having a ridiculous national postal vote on if we think gay people should be allowed to get married THEN the politicians will decide if they will vote on it in parliament and if they will even vote yes. It’s costing us lots of money and obviously makes us look ridiculous (just compare us to New Zealand on many things and you will see how shit we are, in political terms). Extremely embarrassing as a nation…..I feel like I’m on an outdated island in the middle of nowhere, probably because I am!

    Anyway, I agree with other readers that old age is what you make it. My older family members seem to be having a good time and are always fun to catch up with. You look great in your 61 years photo!

    Sorry it’s the last day of summer but it’s the first day of spring for us! We got sunshine too, but it’s back to rain tomorrow.

  3. jeanie September 1, 2017 @ 8:44 am

    Are you serious about the state cat? If not, it’s a very good joke and if you are it is THE best reason to love Maryland! (It is a beautiful state, at least the very small part I saw a few years ago.) And I’m so glad Mr. Fluffy has a wonderful furever home. And looking very good indeed!

    Yeah, I’m with you on the disaster relief. I never would want to withhold it from anyone, just tit for tat but the hypocrisy among the legislators who voted against Sandy relief is ire-producing.

    Love the Big Thought concept. I need a new one. But I have a hard time figuring out when I’ll have time to do it (because I’m having fun!) Happy weekend. I don’t want summer to end. September is a fabulous month — but it leads to winter and I could use a little more heat and sun for awhile longer!

    • Vivian September 1, 2017 @ 9:57 am

      It’s for real alright. Maryland REALLY has a State Cat and it really IS the Calico.

      I KNOW!!

  4. Casey September 1, 2017 @ 10:21 am

    OMG you are the only person who has the nerve to say what I want to say. Texas. They have a knack for voting for the most despicable people in politics.

    Mr. Fluffy is the coolest cat in Maryland. I’m so glad to see that he is Mr. Happy these days.

    Poor Mamie Eisenhower. Didn’t she have anyone to tell her that those little bangs were not a good look? And you look amazing, gray hair and ALL. Notice that Ms. Eisenhower was deep into the Clairol and it still didn’t help.

    I am going to try to think big but to tell the truth I’ll be happy with a slightly larger than average thought, if it means I get to walk across England. My biggest thought so far in my life was when I figured out that living alone was better than living with a husband I didn’t much like, even though divorce would embarrass my whole family. It’s a big thought, when you understand that only you have to live your life and you start making decisions that are right for you and you alone. Keeping up with that thought takes a lot of metal energy.

    I wish there was an exercise I could do to make me think on a larger scale than I usually do. Does lifting a glass of Pinot Grigio help? Yes? Count me in!

  5. Marg-o September 1, 2017 @ 10:32 am

    Excellent rant. I like a rant with statistics and a good point.

    XO XO XO to Mr. Fluffy and his forever people.

    Happy Spring to everyone Down Under. Pity that it’s such a Big Big Big thought to give everyone equal human rights but I know Australia will do the right thing.

  6. Janet September 1, 2017 @ 11:13 am

    As a native Texan, I take absolutely no offense at your saying Texas should go fuck itself. Senators Cruz and Cornyn and all those slimy Republican representatives are a huge embarrassment to millions of Texans who didn’t vote for them and are stuck with a Congressional delegation that never seems to put the interest of EVERYONE in our state ahead of their own political posturing. And you didn’t even mention the current governor who spent the last six months trying to pass a bill to dictate who is allowed to use which bathroom (he failed) and ex-governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry who pushed to abolish the Department of Energy that he is now Secretary of. For the past few years, I’ve found myself wondering what happened to the state that gave us Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan and Molly Ivins – I can only imagine by now they’ve rolled over in their graves so many times they’re probably popping up in some farmer’s rice paddy in China.

    It has crossed my mind many times this week that all those Texans who voted for Cheeto Man and now find themselves underwater are going to be sorely disappointed when he loses interest and his attention shifts to the latest thing he thinks he can get TV ratings for. I was in New Orleans three years after Katrina and parts of town looked like the hurricane had hit the week before. Disasters like Harvey and Sandy take years and years to recover from – and while I have no doubt Congress will step up and vote for billions in relief, relief won’t ever come to thousands and thousands who’ve lost everything. Government never makes it easy to get help, and insurance companies must go to special training to find ways not to pay claims.

    Texans are a cocky and resilient breed, and you hear a lot right now about how they band together, look out for their neighbors, and can handle just about anything. Texans are big talkers, and many are even big do-ers. But this storm is bigger than the big talkers and far bigger than the promises coming out of politicians’ mouths. With sheer grit, rubber gloves and moldicide, donated clothes and a fuck-Harvey state of mind, I have no doubt that many Texans will weather this disaster and come out ok on the other side.

    It’s the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly that I worry about who don’t have the means and/or will to power through. It’s these unfortunate souls that are stuck with slime ball hypocrites like Cruz and Cornyn who could care less about the well-being of those they purport to represent. (Can you even imagine a President Cruz??) So yes, Texas government definitely needs to go fuck itself. Texans caught up in such a terrible storm, even those assholes who voted for Cruz, Cornyn and Trump and deserve whatever they dish out to them. Not so much (well, maybe I am slightly less sympathetic about the Trump voters, and that makes me feel pretty small).

    While Maryland may have a state cat, remember Texas’s state mammal is the Longhorn steer, which goes a long way toward explaining why the state dishes out so much bullshit.

    On a happy note, you’re looking mighty fine for pushing 60. And your wit and wisdom is fine, too.

  7. Vicki Abbott September 1, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

    The cat pictured as the official state of Maryland cat may have been misidentified. Yes, it’s part calico but clearly, part coon cat, too. Coon cats have those adorable pointed ears and are usually big. And oh, I do love your pique. You do it so well, smile.

  8. Marilyn September 1, 2017 @ 8:17 pm

    Wow! Bare arms and all! I am impressed! Good for you. We deserve to bare our arms as women of a certain age. And Big Thoughts, Yes! That too! Go for it!

    I had to smile at the state cat, really!? I think I would choose the calico too, it sort of goes along with the flag.

    I think we need a retreat of like minded women who digress into language and slam the craziness around us.

  9. Gigi DeVault September 2, 2017 @ 1:58 am

    I just joined the Mr. Fluffy fan club. He is a survivor (thanks to you and his forever people) and he is quite the looker. I love that he has a fresh-air napping table!

    Since I have a daughter and three grandchildren living in Texas, I know that some Texas residents are regular, rational people. But there is definitely something in the air / water / soil / oil that is killing brain cells of whole swaths of Texans. Many of the state’s (R) members of Congress should be branded, like their steers (I love the bullshit-steers connection!), with capital “Cs” for contemptible.

    I refuse to acknowledge the unofficial end of summer, in much the same way that I wear white after Labor Day. As summer slip slides toward the autumnal equinox, I will focus on being the best “cagy old crank” I can be and resolutely think “big thoughts” for the small days left to me.

    Two years after conceptualizing it, I have finally started my non-profit foundation for summertime career development of tribal youth.
    I am finishing (one of my damn) memoirs and a children’s picture book.
    Now that I teach online, I find I like secondary students more (!!!), so I may work a few more years.
    And I shall still travel outside the bounds of my recliner and the vistas on the screens of my several digital devices.

    I shall also continue to adore the way my feet feel and look in Birkenstocks.

    About “looks” specifically…you look stellar! You are fairy dust and Sparkle Plenty! By what magic did you transform? (Don’t mistake me – you were already gorgeous!). I remember you writing about a certain perfect liquid diet developed by techies who breathe coding and work, and so have no time for meal prep and chewing. What was that liquid food called? Please share.

    Oh how I look forward to Fridays! And that mimosa at Sunday brunch, and the single glass of wine I now have official (medical endorsement) to drink each day. Cheers!

  10. Tucson Tana September 2, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

    As a longtime (now former) Maryland resident, I’d like you to know there’s also a State Insect. (Legislators there apparently have a lot of time on their hands.). It’s the Checkerspot Butterfly, which is similar in color to the Calico with wings very much like a checkerboard in design. Also, the University of Maryland football team (on tv as I type) wears helmets painted like beautifully bright replicas of that state flag you so admire. All in all, I think Mr. Fluffy has landed in an impressively artistic place, thanks to you. Good job!

  11. Nancy S September 2, 2017 @ 8:01 pm

    Vivian, I will no longer be following your blog. I wish you God’s peace and pray God will soften your heart to those in need.

    • Casey September 5, 2017 @ 8:45 am

      Nancy, honey, shouldn’t you be praying for the souls of those Republican dicks who want to deny health care to millions of Americans? I’m sure that Vivian doesn’t need you to pray to a god that she doesn’t believe in.

  12. Becky September 3, 2017 @ 10:33 am

    I just finished watching the Sunday morning show where people formed a human chain to save a man from his truck……the reporter had a wonderful comment. It did not matter the color, race, religion or nationality of those who helped. If one person would have broken the chain the rescue could not have happened. It will be up to us to be strong…. the politicians be damned for their greediness, STUPIDITY, lack of empathy and lack of morality. We in pa. Also have some Rep. Dick heads. And I and my friends are furious that when drumf and his arm candy went to the flood area they had the nerve to wear those stupid hats for sale on their web site. When are those who supported him will wake up and see…$$$$$in his filthy pocket. If I had those hats I would use it when my dog makes her deposits.
    I could repeat some of Janet’s sentiments but she stated it all perfectly.
    Ok…enough of that….the Monet picture blew me away. I would love to see the others. Our conservatory did a spring show where the rooms were dedicated to various Monet paintings. It was fabulous! It was one of the few shows I went back to numerous times.
    I did not know about the Maryland flag….very interesting. Mr. FLuffy is absolutely beautiful, and I am so glad he found a loving home.
    Thank God Mamie’s look is not in vogue now. But I attribute this to how much more women today are involved in the outside world. She could be working or non working …..I think being interested in the new activities and ideas makes a difference.
    Have a great weekend.

  13. Becky September 3, 2017 @ 10:40 am

    Forgot to add ….you look great in sleeveless tops!

    • Vicki Abbott September 3, 2017 @ 6:44 pm

      Your loss, Nancy S.

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