Guest Columnist

More contentment, less crankiness in 2020

Terracing and no-till farm practices on Mike Hunt's farm in the upper branch of the Elk Creek watershed help reduce sedi
Terracing and no-till farm practices on Mike Hunt's farm in the upper branch of the Elk Creek watershed help reduce sediment and farm nutrient runoff into waterways. Photographed Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010, in Delaware County. Funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship support watershed projects. Voters supportedÊaÊconstitutionalÊamendmentÊtoÊcreateÊtheÊNaturalÊResourcesÊandÊOutdoor RecreationÊTrustÊFund, so more projects to protect and improve water quality could be funded. (Jim Slosiarek/SourceMedia Group News)

I’m depressed because, as I’ve gotten older, it has become more and more difficult to put on my socks. Does this sound familiar to any of you? I know, I know, I should be depressed about some of the bigger things in life, but I can’t help it; these things arc toward the personal, just as they did with my mother and grandmother.

The holiday season is difficult for me, so I’m glad it’s past. The season was even more difficult for my mother, gone almost 30 years now. She would get all of her children ready to climb in to the station wagon for the annual Christmas trip to suburban Chicago, the home of her family and, as we’d start for the dining room door leading to the garage there would be my mother sitting in one of the dining room chairs, sobbing.

It wasn’t until years later that I understood her depression. Her mother, my German grandmother, spent the final 17 years of her life in what in those days was called an insane asylum. This is way more than you care to read but know that whatever you’re going through others have been there as well.

So what can we expect from 2020? I have all of the confidence in the world that we will once again spend a good percentage of our time flailing about, hurting each other, hating each other and, yes, killing each other. It seems to be what we do these days, and we’re alarmingly good at it.

I see or hear of these things every day, multiple shootings every day in a city three hours from my house, politicians taking the low road because their constituents travel there as well, etc. etc. And over the past several months I’ve noticed that if you’re a pretty white woman and you’re killed or kidnapped your story will be national news. The families of women of color are left to their own devices. National news is a private club to which they need not apply.

And now there’s this: I’m pretty sure I need counseling. Lately I’ve found myself yelling at my little television, yelling answers at contestants on the game show ‘Jeopardy.’ “Dvorak, you idiots!” “Hanseatic League!” “How could you not know this?” “Don’t you read books?” Don’t you listen to music?” I get kind of worked up, and it’s not healthy, and I blame Trump and Congress.

Perhaps this year is the year to jump off the communications ship, the one that keeps running aground. Maybe it’s time to stop reading national newspapers, stop listening to insulting local radio, and stop watching television news. Big pharma and big politics are spending millions in advertising during the news and I don’t have any of their diseases and don’t much care for the candidates. You can surely see why I like living in the woods.

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I pray for less crankiness on my part this New Year. I will take more comfort watching my black cat Pippa, front legs extended out in front of her, rear end high in the air, stretching her long frame beside the fire, happy, content, unaware of my craziness and anxiety, indifferent to a Brandenburg Concerto on the radio.

And about those socks. What do other old people do when they are no longer flexible enough to pull on a sock? There are all sorts of services for the elderly; perhaps I’ll start one wherein some kind person travels a route from one old guy (or doll) to the next, just putting on their socks. I suppose because age is a preexisting condition Medicare wouldn’t cover the service. Wow, a New Year and I’m at it already.

Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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