Illegal Immigration Across the Canadian Border, #AlternativeFacts, and a Fictional Massacre: A Mamma Hamster’s View of the World

“In other centuries, human beings wanted to be saved, or improved, or freed, or educated. But in our century, they want to be entertained. The great fear is not of disease or death, but of boredom. A sense of time on our hands, a sense of nothing to do. A sense that we are not amused.”
― Michael Crichton, Timeline

I feel like I’m living in an alternate reality or perhaps like I’ve been dropped inside the pages of a badly written dystopian novel.  The last few weeks feel like a montage for news that should never happen.  I turn on NPR, listen to the latest events, and shout, “WHAT?!” then change the station.  I find myself avoiding social media.  It’s too exhausting.  It’s like living with a pony in your living room—a pony you’re in denial about it.  Pony?  What pony?  I don’t see any ponies.  (Steps over steaming pile of road apples.) But ignoring the situation doesn’t change anything.  It doesn’t make things LESS exhausting.

When I started blogging this year, I planned on focusing on me, on my life.  When in doubt, keep your eyes on your own page.  Yes, blogging is social media, but it’s social media I can control.  But, it turns out…that’s exhausting, too.  Because the metaphorical pony is STILL THERE.  Even if I’m yakking on about organizing or whatever, I still feel the enormity of the events that are happening all around me, events that are completely out of my control. I don’t want to offend anyone, but there are things happening right now.  Ignoring these events feels even MORE ridiculous than ignoring an imaginary pony.

I live in a small town in Michigan.  If I left my home right now, I could be in Canada in under an hour.  For those of us living near the eastern border of Michigan, traveling across the border into Canada is NOT a big deal.  People live in Windsor, but work in the Detroit area and vice-versa.  For us, it’s almost like crossing into another state, rather than another country. Our two countries are more alike than different.

Or so I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that asylum seekers are crossing from the US into Canada illegally, that people are willing to risk their lives, to risk losing their fingers and toes in the frigid winter temperatures, rather than stay in the United States.


I consider the United States a “safe” country, a beautiful country.  I thought the only people illegally crossing the Canadian border were people running from the law, not folks with children looking for a better life, afraid of being banned for being Muslim.

The United States is a place of freedom—freedom of speech and religion.  The United States is a country that fights for equality.  People seek refuge in our country.  They come from all over the globe to be here, in the United States.  But, then I see Canada’s Prime Minister’s tweet:

I wish my own leaders could learn from his example.  Prime Minister Trudeau behavior is a positive influence in an uncertain world.


Meanwhile, back in the United States…we’re experiencing “Alternative Facts,” a fancy word for lies.


The media is being criticized for not covering the “Bowling Green Massacre,” an event that NEVER HAPPENED!




This isn’t a partisan thing: Democrats versus Republicans.  This wasn’t a one interview slip up.  Several interviews were given regarding this non-existent event.  I guess this must be “Alternative Facts” in action, and yet I can’t imagine why anyone would say something like this, why anyone would want to create an imaginary massacre.  Is reality is too boring? Now, we have to worry about nonexistent events, too?

It’s like we, in the United States, are running around, afraid of all the bad things might happen, logic is being thrown out the window.  In my opinion, it seems like the United States is facing the “Mamma Hamster Effect.”  We’re so afraid and stressed, we’re willing to harm the ones we SHOULD be protecting, like a mamma hamster killing her own young because she perceives her sacrifice is for the greater good.  We are a reactive society rather than proactive.  Stuff keeps happening…and we’re shocked.  And entertained.

Alternative facts: We react with Tweets and Facebook posts.

Fake Massacre: An endless discussion ensues.

Are we so bored with our lives that we would rather be controlled by fear?  We’re so afraid of change, we’d rather cling to erroneous beliefs?  The political scene feels like a giant soap opera.  Is it any wonder why many people are feeding on these distractions?  It certainly is easier to be outraged and do nothing, than to be proactive and take charge of one’s life.

 “I have more respect for people who change their views after acquiring new information than for those who cling to views they held thirty years ago. The world changes. Ideologues and zealots don’t.”
― Michael Crichton, State of Fear

Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Don’t ignore the metaphorical pony in the room because it’s inconvenient.  See the sensationalism for what it is.  Be proactive.  Take control.  Stand up for those who are afraid to speak. Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen.  Do NOT allow yourself to be sucked into the ugliness.  Allow your voice to be heard through your art and your writing.  Do NOT stop living because of fear.  Plan ahead.  Be creative. Try new things. Educate yourself.  Learn about other cultures.  Don’t expect someone else to fix your problems but also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. We are together in this world—one people, the human race.

Snow? In May? Only in Michigan!

Yesterday, we had pellets of hail the size of Rice Krispies.  This morning, we woke up to a gentle dusting of snow covering the pretty faces of our May flowers.

Hubby took a quick pic when we let the dog out.

Snow May 15, 2016

I think Mother Nature is becoming forgetful in her dotage.  Perhaps she needs a calendar.



Yes…they both begin with the letter M, but there is a slight difference between the two months.

xo  Juli

Coffee Klatsch, Updates, and Muskrat Love at Yonder Hoffman Haus

I saw a muskrat while I was out and about yesterday.  An actual muskrat.  ADORABLE!!!  I had my camera ready, taking pics of the river that runs through my neighborhood when I saw him.  Unfortunately, he dove into the river and under the water faster than I could work my camera.

Here's the area where I saw my animal friend. This muskrat was about the size of a small cat. Brown fur like beaver, but a long, skinny tail.

Here’s the area where I saw my animal friend. The muskrat was about the size of a small cat. They look a lot like an otter, with brown fur like a beaver, and a long, skinny tail.      *I love the reflection of the clouds in the water in this pic.  It like something from another world.

I’m happy to report that my cold is nearly gone. The rest of the family is also feeling MUCH better.  Yonder Hoffman Haus no longer sounds like the TB Ward in an old Hollywood film. (Cue melodramatic violin music.)  Thank goodness we don’t get sick very often or I’d have to start buying stock in Vernors ̶ the ginger ale pop/soda with magical healing properties.

For those of you who aren’t from Michigan, we drink Vernors when we’re sick.  It’s one of those weird/traditional/regional things, passed along by our weird/traditional/regional grandparents.  You can drink tea and eat soup when you’re sick, but it’s a given that you must drink Vernors.  (And when you’re feeling healthy again, Vernors tastes AMAZING with a scope of vanilla ice cream.)  If you’re NOT from Michigan, you can buy Vernors online, but HOLY MARKUP!!  I paid a dollar for a two-liter at the grocery store.  It was on sale. Online, you could pay up to six dollars for a two-liter, plus shipping.  YIKES!

New to me, refurbished laptop seems to be working out.  She had a hiccup or two on her maiden voyage, but hubby reformated something or other and now she’s behaving herself. USB ports are tired, so that’s a little frustrating.  I know MS Vista is somewhat different from XP, but it should be faster at loading up pictures from my SD card for viewing than my old computer.  I don’t store pics on my laptop, so the problem is either in the ports or in the Vista program itself.  Yes, I’m still technologically backwards when it comes to my laptops, but you should see my cell phone!  It’s practically an antique.

The new laptop doesn’t have a Word program on it yet, so I’ve had to do all my Writing 101 assignments online.  I’ve got mixed feeling on this, but I’m rolling with it.  My writing laptop has my Word program, but I don’t allow it to play on the Internet.  My new laptop is for surfing the web, but I can’t write with it offline.  Two laptops for two different functions are all fine and well until your interests dovetail…like when I want to write out a new WordPress post.

Despite all the computer nonsense, I managed to complete all five of my assignments this week for Writing 101: Poetry, through WordPress’s Blogging U.  I’ve had little to no experience with poetry.  My preconceived notions tell me that poetry is dry, stuffy, and serious.  This is not true of course, but that’s the story I’ve told myself so I could avoid learning about poetry.  Isn’t that what we do?  We tell ourselves stories so we can be right! I’m not a poet, so why bother learning?  Meanwhile, I wrote as much poetry in this single week as I probably have in my entire life.  So how do I know what I want or what I’m capable of with so little experience under my belt?

This year has been about crawling out of my comfort zone, trying new things, figuring out exactly WHO Juli Hoffman is when she’s not being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, etc.  And guess what?  I discovered I LIKE writing poetry.  It’s fun!  It’s like finger painting with words.  It’s squishy, messy, better throw plastic on the floor because this is going to drip all over and make a stain kind of writing!  If I took the class seriously, I might not feel this way.  If I’d tried writing poetry when I was younger, my perspective would be different.  If I took poetry seriously at all, I KNOW I wouldn’t feel so irreverent.  I’d want to write about flowers or angsty feelings:

“Blah, blah, blah…my roses bloom in the moonlit glow of your love.”

*GAG*  I think I need more Vernors!  LOL

I’m not a hearts and flowers writer.  When it comes time to write out my feelings, humor and sarcasm are my trusty sword and shield.  As long as I keep my defenses up, I feel as though I can’t get hurt as easily.

I think that’s another reason why I’ve avoided poetry.  How terrifying it must be to throw your emotional baggage out into the world, with NO protection?  Your words dirtied and battered, or worse still, ignored by a fickle audience. I’d rather play with my words, make mash potato mountains out of my sentences.  “You don’t like my prose?  Food fight!” THWAK!!!  Writing 101 has taught me there are MANY different types of poetry, that poetry can be playful.  It doesn’t have to be serious.  It doesn’t have to be angsty.  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  It doesn’t have to be meaningful to be enjoyable.