My dad once said something to the effect that the only place you can find peace and quiet is inside your own home.
I think I should add that even behind closed doors in your personal humble abode, these days, it's still hard to find privacy, or to get away from other people -- those you like, or those you don't.
I mean, we all want our alone time sometimes, right?
Years ago, my parents bought a couple of acres in the country with an old house on the land, fixed it up, and ended up with a nice home place. Dad was meticulous about keeping the yard tidy with regular mowing and trimming, and proper tree pruning as well.
One of the chores I always hated the most -- still do -- was picking up sticks. In our yard, there were plenty. I wouldn't have given up the trees in favor of having fewer limbs to collect before the grass could be mowed, of course, but that's a little job I just dreaded.
But I digress.
Mom and Dad had this nice place outside of city limits where they could enjoy nature and not have neighboring houses just a few feet away. It was beautiful and peaceful.
But we couldn't seem to keep cats too long.
The busy blacktop road was not far away, and more than one feline ended up on a shovel headed for a resting place deep beneath the garden when I was a youngster. The circle of life, indeed.
Even a couple of dogs that my parents had -- mostly before I can remember -- went to the Rainbow Bridge via a set of Bridgestones ... so to speak. It was tough to accept.
Then, a neighbor built a hog barn less than a quarter of a mile away.
The stench was something. The use of the manure by vigorously spraying it -- via the so-called "honey wagon" -- into the air over fields around our house only worsened the horrible smell. We and all our neighbors saw a horrible eyesore and incredible nuisance in that hog barn. The local farmers saw dollar signs.
Even inside the house, when the day was just right, on hot summer nights when we might have opened the windows, you couldn't get away from the odor. We couldn't find peace even inside our own home, after all.
I don't know how much of a factor this was for my parents when they finally moved to town, but I'm sure it wasn't something they missed from the country.
Now, I wonder why they didn't just build a wall to keep out what they didn't want coming into their space.
In town in Shelbyville, where my mom lives, residents are allowed to burn leaves and other debris. I'm incredibly grateful that this is prohibited in Mattoon. Although I don't have allergies, by and large, I don't want to have to inhale that heavy smoke that comes with wet refuse (some people aren't smart enough to let it dry before they burn it).
In various places where I've lived and visited, neighbors have loud mufflers on their vehicles, or someone drives by blasting their music, or a motorcycle with straight pipes roars through the neighborhood.
Sure, there are more rules and regulations inside the borders of most cities or towns. I'm glad for this reason that I do live inside those borders.
But I guess if a town was really with it, they'd build a wall to keep "the undesirables" out, right?
You can't always get away from the negative actions of your fellow man. Sometimes you have to find smart ways to deal with them -- and you have to pick your battles, and know what's reasonable and what are plain old dumb ideas to fix your problem.
All these things have crossed my mind as President Donald Trump misdirects the government budget conversation when talking about a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A wall isn't going to do a damn thing.
And, what primarily ails this country isn't illegal immigration. It's just plain old bad people -- of every background and ethnicity and economic status and origin.
Some folks find immigrants -- from the south, in particular, if our president's words and actions are any guide -- undesirable. Period.
Oh, right -- it's only *illegal* immigrants that those folks find "bad." Sure. Wink wink. That's why applications from asylum seekers are being curbed, and why no one's heavily targeting immigrants from anywhere except Muslim countries and Mexico.
Build a wall, and someone will find a way to get over it, under it, through it or around it. I can't believe I'm writing this and expecting it to be a revelation for someone out there, but Trump is just using the topic of a wall to distract from so many things going on that are bad for him.
You don't live near an airport and expect to never see or hear an airplane overhead. No one whose neighbor puts in a hog barn can anticipate a break from the odor. If your neighbor is the local bread baker, you probably will enjoy the delightful smells that go along with bread making.
We'll always have illegal immigration -- some desirable folks coming here, and some undesirable people, cheating the system to get into the USA. For crying out loud, why can't we address the problem in a common sense and comprehensive way?
Oh my! I made a funny right there!
That's just not what we do in the Trump era. We blame, we misdirect, we scream via Tweet, but we never -- oh, never! -- try to use diplomacy or seek the best solutions no matter which party originates them.
And Democrats don't have any room to talk, either. Where are their good ideas to solve problems instead of try to out-Trump the president? As usual, they need to get their act together.
City limits allow leaders to make good rules that keep most folks from doing stupid things that invade others' space. The regulation of our nation's borders can be the same way.
Ah, but then, what would we argue about?
We might have to wonder why so many of the current president's staff members have been indicted. We might have to get off our duffs and research political candidates from any party and choose people truly good for the job. We might have to come together despite our differences and work out what's best for our country.
Oh no! No way.
Let the senseless, fact-bending memes fly! Leave me a voice mail saying, "Penny, most of your readers are Trump supporters, so you shouldn't write anything criticizing him." Let's keep having thin skin and an immunity to lies told by the alleged "leader of the free world." Let's let someone off the hook for anything they say or do as long as they're in our own political party.
All I can tell you at this point is, I feel like a neighbor to the White House.
And there's something eerily similar to a honey wagon sitting out front over there.