When 2016 finally ground to a halt, people seemed to be relieved: thank God, they said, we wouln't have to go through that again. It occurs to me, twelve months later, that we probably shouldn't have said that so loud, since 2017 was no freaking picnic. The weather was wacky: the Mesonet site at Magnum recorded a temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit on the 11th of February, fercryingoutloud. (Ten degrees cooler in the Big Town, but that's still 89. On the 11th of February. What's wrong with this picture?) By contrast, August was cool and wet, and September was cool and not wet. December, so far, has been weirdly dry: 0.68 inches of rain, and all but 0.05 inch fell on a single day. Jungle Defoliants LLC, which keeps the weeds out of my yard, once again managed to spray exactly when they had to spray to insure that their dire chemicals were properly watered in. If there's a Nobel prize in alchemy, I recommend them highly.

About this time last year, rather a lot of people had vowed to leave the country. They're still here, and so is Donald Trump, so you know what their word is worth. Democrats really, really hate Trump, which was to be expected; Republicans really, really hate Trump, which wasn't. To me, this suggests some redeeming social value in the Big Orange, and while most of his public utterances fall somewhere on the scale between silly and sinister, his behind-the-scene maneuverings seem actually comprehensible. He's never going to make a Republican of me, but he's never bothered to make a Republican of himself either, and those of us for whom neither party is defensible — well, he's never going to hit 50 percent in the Presidential-spproval polls, which matters just as little as you think it does. I suspect his thin-skinned Twitter act is just that: an act.

I'm not really happy with myself of late. Some of the financial pressures have been lifted, which gives me an occasional opportunity to pay it forward to my fellow man; however, the line between soft-hearted and soft-headed is a path with which I am not sufficiently familiar. A couple of months ago, a woman of indeterminate age from somewhere off to the East started following me on Twitter and tossing me the occasional pleasantry in DMs. It wasn't until yesterday that she let it be known what she really wanted: some sort of gift card.

Karma will take care of her. Then again, karma tends to be ruthless. My one remaining brother blew back into town for a few days. One of the things he did, it turns out, was to photograph several family graves. It's as though he was expecting to need one shortly. His relationships to the rest of the family have generally varied with what he happened to need at the moment, and so we gradually tuned him out. Came a note on Facebook last night from one of his friends: the internal bleeding is back, and apparently not entirely correctable.

And this bothers me. Last year when I was ill, he decided it would be a good idea to start mocking me, knowing I couldn't respond in kind. I wanted his unworthy ass kicked. I did not, however, want him killed. So I'm very uneasy about tomorrow or the next day: we've logged one Boxing Day death in this family already, and I do not look forward to another. And once the set of five was complete, on a winter's day in 1967, I would never have imagined that half a century later, I'd be the last one left.

Let's hope I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

The Vent

  25 December 2017

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 Copyright © 2017 by Charles G. Hill