Magi is Home, Stinkbug No Longer


So, with mixed feelings I report that Magi, aka Stinkbug, came to live with us last week. He really is a cute little guy. He has been isolated in a spare bedroom because of a cold and an eye infection. We took him to the Extreme Vet yesterday and got some medication for him. He stays isolated until another Vet visit next week. But he seems happy, friendly, active, and he eats well. That is Magi at the top of the page. Adorable, I must admit. My lack of total enthusiasm about him is strictly my own self-centeredness, for I no longer am the only black cat.

It has been another wildlife week here in Happy Meadows. A few days ago we went for a walk and encountered a big snapping turtle. He was over 20 pounds, for sure. I went up and sniffed at him and he hissed at me. So I hissed back at him as I backed away, happy to give him all the room he needed. This is what he looked like.


And this morning as Mike and I were out for our walk down Happy Meadows Trace a Marietta Police car pulled up and stopped. The officer said he wanted us to know that a black bear had been seen in the vicinity. When we got home Mike told Judy who checked the internet and found out that the bear was seen at a park less than a 1/2 mile from where we had walked this morning. How cool is that! If he comes by maybe I could hiss at him too! Or maybe not.

In other news, I suppose you have all heard that John Lewis died a few days ago at age 80. He was one of Mike’s heroes. Representative Lewis was immensely courageous as he fought for the rights of the underprivileged all of his life. He was relentless and outspoken. He was arrested over 40 times as he practiced civil disobedience as a non-violent tactic for change. He called this getting into “Good Trouble.” He had little regard for material gain, living as he did by the guiding principle in life of “love your neighbor.” Far less famous but equally highly respected in Atlanta civil rights circles was Rev. C. T. Vivian who died the same day at age 95. He was well known for his education and for his extensive library, and was regarded as the “intellectual” of the core group of civil rights leaders. There has been an enormous outpouring of love for both of them since their passing. They both earned the love and respect of everyone whose lives they affected. Representative Lewis was known as the “Conscience of the Congress” as he always took the position of what was right, not what was expedient or advantageous for him personally. He had the advantage of not having to worry about the next election, as so many of his colleagues in Congress seem to do. Mike says if our elected officials worried less about their re-election and more about doing the people’s business we would all be a lot better off. Not one of them would have any trouble getting a good job if they lost an election. And while I am on this topic, Mike wants me to say that he thinks there should be term limits in Congress just like for the presidency. He suggests 2 terms in the Senate and 5 or 6 terms in the House of Representatives. This would avoid the problem of people gaining too much power, never a good thing.

So, we continue to be under siege by the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 infection. There has been tremendous resistance from too many people to the public health measures recommended by our leading scientists, and the whole issue has been politicized. Since it is a new infection, we are only learning about the illness and the behavior of the virus in real time. Clearly, it is a novel infection. Mike follows the medical information fairly well from his quarantined office here in Happy Meadows. It is starting to look like many survivors of infections may have long term neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary consequences. And although the elderly and infirm are more susceptible to severe illness and death, young people are not immune. There was an article in today’s paper about Kyle Gregory, a 24 year old man who played high school football near here and got an engineering degree at Georgia Southern. He died of COVID-19 a couple of days ago. Please say a prayer for him and his family. While you are at it, say prayers for the over 140,000 Americans who have already died from this disease, and for their families. We can disagree about a lot of things, but 140,000 dead people is not fake news.

I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves, and not putting yourselves in harm’s way. You will hear from me again soon. Until then please wash your hands, wear your mask, keep a safe distance from others, be kind to everyone, and pray for world peace. I love you all. So long from Happy Meadows.

Still Stinkbug

So, we finally have summer weather here in Happy Meadows. Mike isn’t taking his afternoon walk, but some days he goes out to do yard work, which he enjoys very much. I hope wherever you are the heat isn’t getting to you. Mike said he saw in the paper where the high temperature in Baghdad was 118 degrees. Mike, Judy, and Michelle were in Palm Springs one day in June a couple of years ago when it got that hot. The low temperature that night was 99. I guess you get used to whatever you have to.

There is a lot of news about the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) these days. For one thing, Senator Kelly Loeffler from Georgia is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. She was appointed to the senate by Governor Brian Kemp a few months ago when Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to poor health. She had no experience in government or public service, but Kemp was looking for a woman who he hoped could appeal to suburban women voters who the party seems to be losing favor with for reasons that should be obvious. Her background is in business, and of course, she is a Republican. The other appeal to the Governor was that she agreed to spend 20 million dollars of her own money on her campaign for reelection this November. Thus far Mike thinks she is a lightweight who can’t do much more than say she supports President Trump. She has come out against players wearing a Black Lives Matter hashtag on their uniforms.  As I’m sure you all are aware, the National Football League (NFL) has done a 180 about players using their platform to express concerns about social and racial injustice. Loeffler objects to players using the #BlackLivesMatter on the uniforms, advocating instead for the American flag. She has said that the flag is a unifying symbol which is what we need in our country right now. And of course, she stands with the Great Divider-in-Chief out of the other side of her mouth. While the flag is a worthy symbol to get behind, it seems to Mike to hearken back to the “America. Love It or Leave It” mantra of the sixties. She is substituting a revered symbol to avoid dealing with current social issues; or so it seems to Mike.

On the other hand, let’s not be confused about Black Lives Matter. As a hashtag it is kickass. As a concept it calls attention to the danger that black men are in from police officers who have killed a great many black men who didn’t need to be killed. As an organization, it is another story. Mike suggests that you investigate their political agenda to make sure you can support it before you start sending them kudos or money.

The sports page these days is radically different from what one would normally expect. I’m sure today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution had more about political action and social issues by sports figures and organizations than it did about on-field action. Of course, there is very little on-field action to report. And I never expected to see both Adolph Hitler and Louis Farrakhan both mentioned in the sports page at the same time (let alone at all), but today was the day.

But getting back to the WNBA, players are demonstrating not only a strong social conscience, but also are taking action. Atlanta Dream player Renee Montgomery announced last month that she is taking a year off from basketball to work for social justice. She said her decision was made when she learned of the murder of George Floyd. Two weeks later Dream player Tiffany Hayes said she was also taking a year away from basketball to devote herself to social action. Their role model in this was Minnesota Lynx  player Maya Moore who stepped away from basketball early in 2019 to focus on criminal justice reform. She was primarily motivated to work on the case of  Jonathan Irons who was released July 1 from a Missouri prison after his conviction on assault and burglary charges was overturned. He had served 23 years of a 50 year sentence. His case was an outrageous example of the way the criminal justice system has disgraced itself in the treatment of blacks. Irons was 16 at the time of the crime that he was accused of committing, but he was tried as an adult. The prosecution claimed he confessed, which he has always denied. The officer who testified to his confession interviewed him alone,  took no notes, and made no recording of the interview. There were no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence to connect him to the crime. Furthermore, fingerprint evidence which could have cast doubt on his guilt was withheld from the defense. In another case. Johnny Lee Gates was released from a Georgia prison on May 15 after spending 43 years incarcerated for crimes that he did not commit. He was convicted in 1977 of armed robbery, rape, and murder in Columbus, Georgia. He was cleared by DNA evidence from the crime scene.

You may wonder how many people are incarcerated, some on death row, for crimes they did not commit. Of course, most incarcerated felons will proclaim their innocence. Thanks to DNA testing, we are now able to further investigate such claims. According to the Innocence Project, since 1989 in the USA 367 people have been exonerated of crimes in a total of 37 states. Of these the average time served was 14 years. Twenty-one had been convicted of a capital crime and had been on death row. Of the 367 convictions, 41 people had confessed. It is well-known that confessions are extracted under threat of conviction of a more serious crime or more time in prison. This happens to poor people who can’t afford a good lawyer. Remarkably, 69% of the convictions were based on a witness misidentifying the individual who was convicted. (In this regard, it is interesting that Jewish law requires 2 witnesses to testify against someone to get a conviction of a crime.) While these individuals sat in prison, the actual perpetrators of the crimes committed additional crimes. Of the 162 perpetrators who could be identified, they were convicted of 152 additional violent crimes including 35 murders and 82 sexual assaults. Of the 367 people who were wrongfully convicted, 225 were African Americans, 61% of the total. Mike had an eye-opening conversation with a detective in Madison, Wisconsin years ago. It was about an unsolved murder that occurred in Madison in the late 1960s. The detective told Mike that he had 3 prime suspects in the case, but could never quite put enough together to make a charge that they could get a conviction on. What was interesting, and disturbing, was that it was clear that it didn’t matter to the detective if they had the right guy or not. He just wanted a conviction to close the case, and would have been happy to pin it on any one of them.

So, we just got back from a trip to Good Mews to pick up little Stinkbug (Magi will be his name once he gets home.) Since yesterday he has developed conjunctivitis, so we left him there to be treated and cleared by their Extreme Vet. They offered us the opportunity to take a different cat. They are covered up with adorable black kittens right now. But Magi (Stinkbug) has stolen our hearts, so we will wait until the stars line up and he can come to his forever (ours) home. I will post more pictures when he gets home. Until then, don’t forget to wash your hands, mask up, keep a safe distance, pray for world peace, and be kind to your neighbors, and to their dogs and cats. You will hear from me again soon, but until then, so long from Happy Meadows.


So, it has been a few days. Mike is on a reading tear and not as available to help me with my blog. But we have something so newsworthy, that I was able to shake him loose from his latest book. He is reading up on mythology and spirituality, and who knows what else he will get into. He especially liked a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called “Holy Envy.” It is about learning to appreciate the best in other people’s religions. Of course, if you really want the inside scoop, ask a cat. As Eckhard Tolle said, “I have had many zen masters, all of them cats.”

The big news is we are getting a new kitten, a little fellow from Good Mews where Judy is a volunteer. They call him Stinkbug, but we are going to call him Magi; actually, Magi Stinkbug Gordon. The people will call him Magi, but the cats will probably call him Stinky. This is what he looks like:


Adorable, eh? It’s about time we got another black cat. He needs to be cleared by the Extreme Vet there before we can bring him home. Very exciting stuff, although the other 3 cats act like they couldn’t be less interested. They will perk up when Magi progresses from a potential cat to a real cat. I will keep you posted.

There remains a high level of polarization in our country, although you couldn’t really tell just by hanging out in Happy Meadows. It is as though a major segment of society has just awakened to the fact that black people continue to be mistreated in various and significant ways. And it is not just that there has been a new awareness, but that lots of people seem to care about it and want things to be set right. There will be significant push back by people wanting to preserve white privilege. Mike heard Brooke Gladstone on the radio the other day make the point that many of the poor white people in our country are trying to defend a white privilege that they don’t even get to benefit from. Interesting. As a black cat, just let me say that both from a study of history, and my personal experience, you don’t get treated the same. For me this is just a challenge, part of my life; but for others, 2-legged and 4- legged alike, things could improve. And it is not just black people. The treatment of Native Americans continues to be a national disgrace. As an example, Native Americans are disrespected in ways that other groups would not tolerate. If the Washington Redskins had been the Washington Kikes, the name would have been changed years ago. It does seem that the owner is going to finally yield to pressure that has never been there before. It will be interesting to see what happens.

So, the COVID-19 virus has not melted away in the hot weather like the Divider-in-Chief said it would. We have now surpassed 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths worldwide. Things are getting out of control, and if people don’t start masking and distancing, a lot more people are going to die. Get smart, y’all, the situation is nearing critical. A lot of people, Mike included, don’t like to be told what they can’t do or have to do, but if everyone just decided to be considerate of the common welfare we all would be safer. After all, a lot of people don’t like the idea of having to have driver’s licences, buy car insurance, wear seat belts, or pay taxes, but they do it anyway. We do have to concede that being a member of society confers certain obligations.

This would be a good time to celebrate the passage and the signing into law of the hate crimes bill in Georgia. It was passed as a bipartisan effort, and signed by a Republican Governor, although he never took a public stance on whether he was in favor of it or not. It included the LGTBQ community, which had been the roadblock for the past 16 years since the Georgia Supreme Court knocked down the hate crimes bill passed in 2000 as “unconstitutionally vague.” It’s about time, and ironically, would not have passed if not for the coronavirus pandemic. The Georgia legislature shut down along with the rest of the state in March, April, and May, during which time Armaud Aubury was murdered in Brunswick in what was an obvious targeting because he was black. Then George Floyd was murdered in Mike’s home town of Minneapolis, and suddenly Black Lives Matter mattered. So, when the legislature reconvened in June the hate crimes bill had strong bipartisan support that it did not have had in March, and Georgia no longer has the disgrace of being 1 or only 4 states in the country without such a statute. Who are the others, you ask? they are Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming. Some people also count Indiana, whose statute some say is very weak.

And let’s not fail to wish a big happy birthday to the USA, still a great country and a great place to live. The bombs were bursting in air the other night as people were having a good time and letting off some steam. Some of my dog pals were terrified, which is unfortunate, but they are okay now.

So, before I leave, may I encourage everyone to mask up. If we don’t the coronavirus will go on a feeding frenzy that everyone will regret, liberals, conservatives, and don’t-give-a-craps alike. Please, please, please, and thank you. And there are advantages to wearing a mask. As Jim Galloway pointed out in his column in the AJC yesterday, while wearing a mask our good Georgia Baptists will be able to go into liquor stores unrecognized. And on a more serious note, in a stroke of unexpected (by me) genius, Georgia Governor Kemp warned that if everyone doesn’t mask up and stay that way, there will be no college football this fall. If that doesn’t stimulate behavior change nothing will. Until then don’t forget to love your neighbor, pray for world peace, and extend a helping hand wherever possible. We love you all, and hope your favorite team wins. So long from Happy Meadows!