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The Dead Mule @deadmule writer, thinker, advocate for an ethical society, publisher online for 25 years.

Breaking up is hard to do

Dinah’s Landing. Photo by author.

Used to be, if we didn’t want to talk to someone it was simple. Let’s see, how far back shall we go? To answering machines? 1980s. Then you just looked at the number glowing on the machine and thought “I’m not going to answer that, it’s Mabel.” If there was a message? You deleted it. Easy to ghost. One machine, one avenue. And then there was snail mail — easy enough to throw away a letter, you know, the paper kind. One even found satisfaction in ripping an envelope in half, like we do now with those credit card solicitations.

The past, the present, the future

it’s a gray day. photo by author.

What today is all about.

It’s about reading Apple News and finding out the Stimulus Package, whatever they want to call it, won’t be enough to stop the evictions.

It’s about knowing we’re safe after spending three years in PTSD-induced poverty. Finally getting compensation from the VA, the Air Force. Finally having more than my social security disability check $775 to live on and being able to breathe and feeling guilty about it because so many people can’t find the money to pay their rent, to buy food and now we can. We almost lost our house, we did lose…

We have to listen if we’re going to make them hear

Unable to imagine a suitable image for this essay, I opt for chickens. photo by author

This is a honest to God conversation I had yesterday with friend, a young man who sat over ten feet away from me, on my front porch, telling me why Covid is not real. He agreed to social distancing and sitting outside because I told him it was the only way I’d talk to him. I’ve known him for at least five years.

“We should watch the news. The military is on the move, they’re preparing, someone may have noticed. Someone in the media.” He looks at me, “I mean it. Turn on CNN. You’ll see what I’m saying is…

Jane’s boots. Photo by author.

My daughter Jane went surf fishing last weekend. Came home from the beach, rinsed off the salt water from her wading boots and left them on the front steps of her house to dry — about ten feet from the sidewalk. Two hours later, they were gone.

These were distinctive boots with orange lining, not the kind you see every day. Fishing boots that fit in her waders, not warm winter snow ones. Substantial, of course, they fit her waders and were special to her but not something one would wear anywhere but in the water. …

An Uncle Virgil story

Deer Camp groundscape. Photo by author.

The deer camp is about five miles from Thornton. It’s a hunting “lodge” in the middle of a passel of acres of pine plantation mixed with old growth forest. There are no other houses near it. This is Arkansas. The South. USA.

The wood frame farm house, built around 1910, has four rooms downstairs, (kitchen, two bedrooms, and living room) with a narrow staircase leading to one big attic room. The attic is lined with beds. Singles and doubles squatting under the eaves where at least eight people can sleep up there at at time.

It’s a man’s place, for…

creative non-fiction

My grandsons make me laugh. photo by author

An odd time to stop taking anti-depressants, that’s what my therapist said. But he went along with it, helped me to titrate my dosage down to naught and let me talk about myself through the change in my mental state. I’d become numb over the years. Time to bear witness again, to grasp emotions, tackle them head on and deal with them.

I began taking SSRIs when my mother became ill years ago. Congestive heart failure. My best friend she was, and dealing with her inevitable death proved too much for me. She would die just days after her 93rd…

Flash Essay

WWII Assemblage: work in progress by author

On December 3, 1944, my Aunt Helen wrote a letter to my mother. Mom was in Cincinnati, Ohio and Helen was following General Patton’s Army though Europe. She was a Red Cross volunteer. Young and idealistic, Helen joined the Red Cross seeking adventure. She wanted to contribute to the war effort. Before joining the Red Cross, she was a third grade teacher.

Mom’s on my mind a lot this fall. No particular reason, no death anniversary, no birthday to bring her memory front and center. She’s just here with me.

I’m cleaning out Mom’s desk and found the war correspondence…

Trying to get ready to go for a drive. Forget washing the car. photo by author

Mom said “colors in nature match, always” and it’s true. The greens and golds, the reds and oranges of autumn never clash. It’s true in pottery too. Clay sucks up a glaze the same way nature offers her palate. All colors combine into a concrete whole. Each season appears with a new combination of the sublime and the frantic. Summer’s flowery spires make way for fall’s magnificent parade leading us all to winter’s gray pale haze.

It’s almost October as we drive the Blue Ridge Parkway seeking solace from the reality of the pandemic. We are but two, in a…

Valerie MacEwan

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