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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

Sunny day ramble

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

It was one o’ them days today. But it was sunny. It was Stress, Incorporated. But Sol was beaming down on blazing green grass. And you know, that springtime green, it does blaze. So I drove the dogs out to a place in the woods where a landowner has set a picnic table in a grassy clearing beside a beaver pond. And I enjoyed a sandwich made to order at the grocery store down the road, which has a fine little deli.

Ah. That helped.

Driving home, two teenagers with shovels scooted out of my way. They were on the road with a very unofficial looking truck, and as I slowed down I saw that they were filling potholes. Looking farther, I saw they were with a man who co-owns a local school.

The school is way back in the woods, and although it’s a religious, family-run operation, they also have a contract to take in kids who would otherwise flunk out or drop out of local high schools. Really remarkable place. Wish there’d have been something like that when I was a kid. Life would have been so different.

One thing they do is put all the kids to work in the afternoon, usually some type of charitable physical labor. Today it was filling potholes. In the county road.

This benefits them, too, because their school is way back out there off that road, beyond the rest of civilization. But it’s also for the many people who drive up there.

Dana commented about people putting up their own road signs. That’s an interesting development in the long and honorable history of people turning their backs on government, but of course could be negative or positive, depending on signage.

Pothole-filling? A plus for all. I wonder if they got the county’s permission first or just went out and did it?


I came home, followed up on some (late) email, then sat in the backyard with a Bloody Mary. More stress therapy.

I was preoccupied when I made the thing, though, and put in waaaay too much Worchestershire sauce. It was puckering me up something awful to take a sip of it. But I was in this way-comfortable chair and couldn’t bring myself to get up and go inside to dilute the thing with more V8 juice. Not as long as the sun was shining.

I kept wincing with each sip and waiting for a cloud to cross the sun so I could go inside and remove some of the fire.


Lately, I’ve worked with some very nice people. Some very difficult ones, too. Sort of a package deal. I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the ratio: how many nice people does it take to overcome the impact of one nasty?

I’m choosing to emphasize the good. And the good is prevailing. But my little body and brain can only take so much restorative vodka.

23 Responses to “Sunny day ramble”

  1. Old Printer Says:

    Claire, excuse me for responding to this in the personal. I know I’m not one of your favorites – and with good reason. But if that redwood picnic table was down a slope just off the county road, and the beaver pond is long and narrow, and it sits in an adjoining county, then chances are it’s mine. We put it there in front of the trailer that is no more so we could watch the beaver flap around or the occasional fish snap at a bug. The view up the valley was wonderful until the tree farm owners started harvesting a few years back.

    Columbia Land Trust wants the 20 acres. Hell will freeze over first!

    If you were at my place know that I’m pleased you liked it, and you’re welcome there anytime. Someone should enjoy the lost dreams.

  2. jed Says:

    I like the road signs. Not quite as fun as the knit bombers though. Can’t find it now, but just recently saw a story about a community where people are painting crosswalks, and the county is spending $1000 to remove them.

    I need a place like that to retreat to. Not sure how far I’d have to drive from work to find it — longer than my lunch break, I’m sure.

  3. Jim B. Says:

    Here’s news that removed the main bulwark of having a Swill bank account.

    I suspect this will make Precious Metals more desirable. After all, Gold is King.

  4. LarryA Says:

    Just what I need before logging off. Claire’s doing vodka, and Jim’s blogging “Swill” bank accounts. ;-)

    Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall.

    “We don’t always need to wait for the government to do things for us,” he says. “If we can do them ourselves, we could and should.”

    Someone from NYC said that? The end-times are nigh.

  5. Pat Says:

    “I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the ratio: how many nice people does it take to overcome the impact of one nasty?”

    Just one. I had that experience after two obnoxious people in a row at work, then met a very nice man who went out of his way to explain the workings of a tool he was selling and gave me a good deal on it. I went home thinking, “To hell with them. I’m off the next two days, and I’m going to enjoy myself.” Didn’t need the Bloody Mary, either.
    On the family that runs the school: Was their contract with the public school? The social services or court system? Or the community itself? Did the parents (or the kids) have any input in where they would go? Just wondering how that setup came about.

  6. MamaLiberty Says:

    “I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the ratio: how many nice people does it take to overcome the impact of one nasty?”

    This used to bother me an awful lot. I had to deal with hundreds of people, and had nearly zero input into who, where or how… The nasty ones were usually a small number, but liberally sprinkled throughout the day and it was sometimes difficult to get past the experience – except for terminal patients who, obviously, can’t be blamed if they have seriously bad days. And if they spent their lives being nasty, pity was a far more useful response than resentment.

    But, along the way, I discovered that the way to overcome most of the problems associated with nasty people was to be the best “nice” person I could manage myself. Don’t wait for a nice person to come along and overcome the impact of the nasty ones. Remember that nobody else can “make” you unhappy, angry or sad… they can provide the incentive, but you have to supply the response. Choose a healthier response. Sometimes all I can manage is a shrug, but it sure beats grinding teeth, slamming doors and upset stomachs.

    Sure, easier said than done sometimes, but it is a goal well worth reaching for.

  7. Claire Says:

    Old Printer — No, it wasn’t your property. I know the landowner in this case; a local logger. Your place sounds lovely, though, and than you for the kind invitation to visit. Hope you manage to hang onto it!

  8. Claire Says:

    Pat — Re the contract that the school has, I believe it’s with the school district. Though I don’t know all the details, everything’s voluntary with the students and their parents. I’m pretty sure it just means that if the students opt to go to the school in the woods rather than public school, the funds that would normally go to the district go to the alternative school.

  9. FishOrMan Says:

    how many nice people does it take to overcome the impact of one nasty?

    I believe will all have these funks from time to time… when we get treated poorly, (or see it around us), we tend to look for it and pretty soon it is all we see. On the other hand, if you look for

  10. FishOrMan Says:

    …if we our treated well, or see goodness around us, we start seeing it more and more.

    My real wonder on this is how much does a person’s childhood influence our overall viewpoint. I think we all know someone who is forever critical of the world and themselves, (and it seems they have a horrible stories from their childhood to go with it). But, was that upbringing the cause of their overly pessimestic views or just another of the symptoms.

    To answer your question all depends on how much we allow that positive encounter to influence us, (if we even allow positive in).

  11. Laird Says:

    Pothole-filling? A plus for all. I wonder if they got the county’s permission first or just went out and did it?

    I certainly hope that they “just went out and did it.” There’s too much asking for permission these days. Just do it!

  12. Jim B. Says:

    Argh! I meant the Swiss bank accounts. It had to do with no more privacy at all.

    As for the nasty people, well, to be vulgar, I’d secretly say “F*ck you, A***ole” and move on, usually work. It usually don’t pay to let them drag you down. Life’s waaaaay too short for that. Get it over with and move on.

  13. Jim B. Says:

    Also I remember one of the Clint Eastwood quote from that military movie he did: “Never give the Enemy the Satisfaction!”

  14. Pat Says:

    “I’m pretty sure it just means that if the students opt to go to the school in the woods rather than public school, the funds that would normally go to the district go to the alternative school.”

    I’m surprised the school system would agree to that. But maybe it’s worth it to get the kids out of their hair.

  15. Claire Says:

    Well, though I don’t know the details, I’m pretty sure it’s an option only for kids who are in distress — those in danger of flunking out, dropping out, or getting kicked out. I suspect if it were an option available to anybody, only the cheerleader and football player types would stay in the government schools! I taught a couple of classes out at the school in the woods once and it was fabulous.

    Total chaos, but fabulous. Those kids loved being there and were hungry to learn.

  16. Matt, another Says:

    My daughte wen to a charter school, a half-breed govt/private set up. They had some innovative teachers and administration. The science/PE/art project that year was making adobe walls and walks around the campus. The kids and parents cleared ground, compacted soil, leveled and made mud. We all learned the hows and whys of adobe, history etc and had a great time t hat year. It is also a useful skill come the collapse.

  17. SJ Griffo Says:

    One nice person really does make up for several nasty ones. Kindness is rare these days.

    My hubs used to fill in the potholes in springtime when we lived in the backwoods on dirt roads. Couldn’t wait for old Vern (county employee) to get ’round to it. Might have to wait till next spring…

  18. LarryA Says:

    Well, though I don’t know the details, I’m pretty sure it’s an option only for kids who are in distress — those in danger of flunking out, dropping out, or getting kicked out.

    Lots of schools have “alternative” campuses for potential problems. State and federal education folks are obsessive about dropout rates, and students who can be shucked off to another campus aren’t counted as “dropouts” for the beancounters. So there’s lots of incentive for the public school district to welcome something like your school in the woods. The kids there sound very lucky compared to what usually happens. I’d tell you how I know, but I’m having a good day.

    In my experience the hobbit/troll ratio depends a lot on environment. I’ve been lucky, in that surly people are rare in the shooting field. Out of all my events, over the last couple of years, I can only think of one student’s mom who gave us grief. Even when I worked in rape crisis agencies there were few staff who were nasty. Perhaps you just have to have a sense of humor to survive such.

    Clients, of course, tended to be in pain, and that’s different. Even there, many of them showed remarkable forbearance.

  19. naturegirl Says:

    I seem to always find myself in jobs and/or situations that require dealing with a lot of people. I’ve noticed as each year goes by I run into more and more that are nastier, enough to tip the scales in their direction. I tend to dismiss it by thinking “manners no longer exist” or “must be the economy/world in general misery causing it”. Doesn’t make it avoidable, or entirely acceptable, does make it a little less “my” problem (it’s THEM !! LOL). And whining seems to have been elevated to an art form, but that’s another rant entirely.

    FishOrMan could be onto something. Bad chiildhoods make it easy to spot the bad coming at us, but I don’t know if it really stays negative forever. Some spend a lifetime being the opposite of how they grew up, some just drag it all along their entire life. I hesitate to say that the ones pegging the nasty ones are the ones drawing in the negative. On the flip side of that, the nastiest people I’ve encountered fall into the elitist-with-the-attitude category more than naturally negative; they weren’t nasty to begin with they learned it along the way. I think there’s just more nasty people out there now, than at any other time in my life; ironically coinciding with more population than ever before. When you’re stuck with one (as in a job situation) sometimes all it takes is mirroring their behavior right back at them to get them to wake up to how they come across. The whole stand up to the bully theory, modified.

    Probably shouldn’t be “nice’s” job to counter act a “nasty”, nasty doesn’t deserve that kind of power and attention.

  20. jed Says:

    Found the crosswalk story.

  21. Jim Bovard Says:

    The more overworked / fatigued you become, the more that having to deal with a single obnoxious SOB can outweigh the joys of a dozen fine folks.

  22. Nicki Says:

    I’m not sure how many nice people it takes to overcome one SOB, I’m pretty sure it takes an entire bottle of wine to overcome a crazy! :)

  23. Matt, another Says:

    Lack of crosswalks is a sign of freedom. People should have the freedom to corss roads where and when they feel like it without interference from the government or neighborhood busy bodies.

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