courage and fear


Random quote of the day:

“We can’t allow ourselves to be frightened into not living our lives, and I think that we have to keep going and we have to keep going with the faith that things will get better…And things will get better when we make them better.”

—Oprah Winfrey, interview on Entertainment Tonight, as quoted on KTVB, October 2, 2017

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Last night (this morning) about 1:30 a.m. I was reading quietly in my chair in the living room and heard a loud thumping noise from the side yard, just beside the living room/kitchen. It startled me but I dismissed it, thinking the gardener must have forgotten to latch the side yard gate again. It’s been pretty windy so I figured that was the noise, and decided I wasn’t going out at 1:30 in the morning to re-latch the gate. A little while later I heard the noise again only this time louder and accompanied by a big dragging sound. The gate doesn’t make that noise no matter how windy it is.

So I turned on the kitchen light and I first thought to open the front door because it provides a view of the gate in question. I turned off the alarm and looked out but didn’t see anything. I closed the front door rather loudly hoping that if somebody was lurking they’d get the message. I was pondering what to do next when I heard another thump and drag. I wasn’t at all sure at this point if it was coming from my side yard or the neighbor’s yard (they have a very high fence I can’t see over). I don’t know if adrenaline kicked in or stupidity or what. But I went to the side door off the kitchen and turned on the side yard light. Then I open the door, looked out, didn’t see anything and decided to go down the stairs and check things out. The gate latch was perfectly secure so I looked behind me but the rest of the yard beyond the light was too dark to make anything out.

That’s when I said to myself, “Woman, if somebody is out here they’re going to hit you on the head and it’ll be all over.” So I hurried (as much as my arthritic legs can hurry) back into the house. And I said to myself, “Sometimes you are not very smart.”

But I didn’t hear that noise again. Either there was somebody messing over next door or in my yard and I scared them off, or it was critters and I scared them off. Whatever, I had no business going out there at 2:00 in the morning (by that time) on my own. Maybe next time I’ll just settle for flicking the lights on and yelling out the back door that I’m going to call the cops.

I have to admit, though, that I am my mother’s daughter. Neither one of us ever had enough sense to do the girly thing. We always charged full bore out any existential back door to investigate on our own. It’s a wonder either of us survived until old age. My mother was tall (5’9”) and strong and had grown up tough with a house full of brothers and on cattle ranches. She didn’t think twice about taking on anybody at any time. And yet, she always managed to look glamorous while doing it and she liked girlie things. A glamorous Valkyrie.

There was one memorable instance when I was in high school and some teenaged boys decided to break into the tool shed at our old house in Venice. It was a summer Saturday night and the windows were open. Mom (who had been up late reading, as it happened) heard something going on (she had ears like a terrier) and charged out the back door. She was wearing baby doll pajamas and fuzzy slippers. She bore down on those boys in full Valkyrie mode. One of them managed to get away, but she wrestled the other one to the ground and held him there, yelling at me, “Call the cops! Call the cops!”

Imagine, if you will, in those days before 911 when you actually had to call the police desk to get a squad car to your door, and me, a teenaged girl on the line with a cynical police desk sergeant trying to convince him that my mother had actually wrestled a thief to the ground and was sitting on him until the police could arrive. There were no cell phones in those days so I was in the house and my mother was outside so no sounds of commotion reached his cynical ears to help verify my story, even though I left out the detail of the baby doll pajamas. He eventually, grudgingly agreed to send a car (to get me off the phone, I’m sure), but none ever arrived. (It was Saturday night and Venice was a pretty rowdy place in those days. I mean serious crime and all.)

Meanwhile, some of the den of thieves who lived across the street and were related to the boys heard from the one who got away that my mom was holding the other boy prisoner and came to his rescue. Picture this: my mother in her baby doll pajamas and fuzzy slippers wrestling with not one but two teenaged boys. Going at it pretty heavy. One of their older brothers came running up holding his hands out like a peacemaker at this point, but the teenaged boys managed to get the other one free. My mother was so mad at this point she coldcocked the peacemaker on the chin with her fist and knocked him on his ass. He didn’t retaliate, fortunately, and managed (somehow!) to calm my mother enough that she went back in the house. But she insisted I call the cops again.

For some reason, the cynical desk sergeant was even less inclined to believe my story. Even though Mom got on the line this time and did some yelling. She insisted I write a scathing letter to the Times (“You’re good at that sort of thing”), cc’ing the chief of police and our local councilman about the shocking lack of response to a poor frail lady and her teenaged daughter needing assistance with a gang of teenaged thieves and receiving none. The Times declined to print our missive, and we never got a response from the chief of police or the councilman, either (although I’m pretty positive whoever may have read that letter got a really good laugh out of it).

The den of thieves who lived across the street remained the scourge of the neighborhood and surrounding blocks, but none of them ever again tried to rob our house.

I think, however, that in future I will try turning on the lights and yelling out the door if I hear suspicious sounds. If those Valkyrie genes don’t kick in an rob me of all sense of self-preservation.

A glamorous Valkyrie

Random quote of the day:

“To be feared is to fear: no one has been able to strike terror into others and at the same time enjoy peace of mind himself.”

—Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epistles

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Courage is the atom of change.”

—Bettina R. Flores, Chiquita’s Cocoon

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Courage is ten, nine is the ability to escape.”

—Azerbaijani proverb

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh, Fragrant Palms Leaves, Journals 1962-1966 (tr. Mobi Warren)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”

—Eric Hoffer, The Passionate Mind, and Other Aphorisms

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty.”

—Henry Miller, Sexus: the Rosy Crucifixion, Book I

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“When you make friends with fear, it can’t rule you.”

—Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

1. Let me thread you a story…(1-30)
2. Mayor Begay has been in office for some time now. We like the job he does and the way he cares for all the people of Portalville.
3. Weren’t always that way. We had us a mayor before who caused nothing but hard feelings and chaos. Mayor Covfefe.
4. As I’ve said before, folks in Portalville are generally accepting of everybody, but even good folks get scared sometimes.
5. If you’ve got an unscrupulous sumbich who likes chaos and playing on people’s fears it’s sometimes hard to break through the stramash,
6. and get people thinking sensibly once more. Mayor Covfefe was one of those sorts. Took over the City Council with his pack of yes men,
7. forcing agendas on the town nobody really liked but were too scared to oppose. Nobody trusted anybody else, see, and figured everyone
8. was out to get them, so no one wanted to listen to what others said without starting a yelling match.
9. So much screaming in the extremes when most folks just wanted to negotiate some peace that the City Council ground to a halt.
10. Weren’t no business getting done, or only what business lined the pockets of Mayor Covfefe and his cronies.
11. They tried to shred every principle we held dear here in Portalville, violating city by-laws like confetti.
12. Pretty soon folks was yelling at each other over every tiny thing that came along and forming parties of folk yelling in the same key.
13. We had us the Portalville League of Lawyers threatening to file suit over anyone who didn’t agree with them.
14. Fortunately, they mostly couldn’t agree with each other so their suits went nowhere or were easily dismissed by Judge Mathead.
15. Then we had us the Portalville League of Opposition. They didn’t really have a point of view except that they were in opposition…
16. to everyone else in town. “What are you opposing?” people would ask. “What have you got?” they’d answer.
17. The Portalville League of Witches got so fed up they put reversal spells on half the town. So many folks walked around
18. with heads on backwards they didn’t know if they was coming or going & got a much closer look at bodily functions than they ever wanted.
19. Finally, Sherman Begay, the town shoemaker, had enough. He formed the Portalville League of the Beleaguered to try to reassert sense.
20. Bar-Bar Shumay was one of the first to join, followed by Madame Mosibelle Nimby and her son Rupert.
21. They held giant clear-seeing resistance rallies where everyone who showed up got the scales lifted from their eyes.
22. Pretty soon, folks saw that Mayor Covfefe was a minor god of chaos, although no god of chaos is ever truly minor.
23. His magic had scared folks into going against their better nature, against what they knew was right.
24. (Then again, some folks ain’t got better natures and think right is only what is right for them. Even the most powerful magic
25. can’t do nothing to heal that kind of perversion. What’s required to fight them folks is a really big stick.)
26. Fear is a great motivator, but I got to believe love is, too. Once Sherman Begay, & Bar-Bar, & the Nimbys broke through the shouting,
27. let people see the truth, most folks came around. They realized that loving your neighbor wasn’t just a passel of pretty-sounding words.
28. It’s a way forward, a commitment to doing what’s right for the whole community.
29. Folks decided that they’d rather live in harmony than have their own way in every tiny thing. Compromise became a holy tenet.
30. Come next election, Mayor Covfefe lost by a landslide. And that’s how the new mayor, Sherman Begay the shoemaker, saved our souls.

This tale can also be found on Twitter @downportalville.

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