photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Border"line Insanity

So my friend Carla and I drove from Austin to San Diego (actually Del Mar) yesterday and today. From Austin it's a route that skirts along the wee north side of our border with our neighbors to the South---the dreaded Mexican border.

We saw no teeming masses of rapists and murderers swarming across it.

There was no impenetrable wall.

It's a horrible, endless, festering and depressing starkly beautiful yet lonesome area of deserts and mountains.

There were, however, checkpoints.

Three of them, to be exact.

When we approached the first one, my mind raced at all the things we could be questioned for, and I ticked off every one in my head.

-There were 18 guinea pigs in the car- guinea pigs don't get rabies so don't need health certificates to travel across state lines

-There was a baggie of cut up carrots and 6 apples in the car, so if they asked about fresh fruit and veggies we could just hand those over

-There may have been a partially consumed bottle of Rumchata in the back seat...

The entire car is filled with our luggage, the guinea pigs' supplies including several 40 pound bags of bedding, and 8 or 9 carriers---some with pigs and some without...yet.

So we steeled ourselves for the obviously inevitable search of our vehicle.

We approached the checkpoint, noting the nine armed agents and the super-enthusiastic German Shepherd. There was a dog who looked at every working day as THE BEST DAY EVER. Carla said, "He's going to eat the pigs."

Finally at the front of the line, we rolled down the window as the agent peered into the car. "Are you American citizens?" he asked. "Ummm...yes. Yes, we are."

"OK- you ladies have a great day."

...and we proceeded on our way, noting the vehicles that had been pulled over for further searching- every one with a driver who was...browner than we are.

I should have been relieved that we didn't have to unpack and repack all our shit or set our pigs out in the sun or open our suitcases to reveal our middle-aged chick clothes and daily supplies.

But I was unaccountably pissed off. Really, really pissed off.

"What the hell??? How did he know we're not running drugs???" I fumed.

"What kind of moron would say, "No- I'm NOT a citizen?" Carla added.

"Seriously- we could have had drugs in the suitcases, drugs under the pigs in their trays, drugs tucked into the middle of the bags of pine shavings to mask the smell!!! WE COULD BE DANGEROUS, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" <<< Me- but you already knew that.

Just then Ward called. "Hey, Caramia! Where are you?" And he got the recap of what you just read.

At the end of it, I added, "That was bullshit! Just because we're two middle-aged chicks we get a pass? If I were running drugs, I'D SEND THEM WITH ME BECAUSE I DON'T LOOK DANGEROUS. Maybe I'll start running drugs..."

"Ummm...I'd rather you didn't" Ward said in his calm and rational way.

He really is the only thing that keeps the world safe from me.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ahhh...Rested and Ready

So I leave day after tomorrow for ten days. I leave. Not we. For the first time in over two decades, I'll be going away for more than a weekend and Ward's not coming with me. For the first time in almost that long, I'll be going away for more than a weekend and Alec's not coming with me.It will be the longest time we'll be apart and I'm coming home on a Friday afternoon...after they leave for Denton for two days, so it'll be an addition three days without seeing them.

I'm going with friends to (don't laugh) the ARBA convention. American Rabbit Breeders' Association because that is, confusingly enough, also one of the big shows of the year for guinea pigs and I have 4 I'm bringing to the big show. Two friends are flying, another friend and I will be driving all the pigs across the desert Southwest and ending up in Del Mar CA. Two hella long days of driving across the desert with heat-sensitive rodents that are the pinnacle specimens of all our respective rodent-breeding endeavors, four days of stinking like rabbit pee from the 100,000 rabbits that will be there, competing against the other 800 guinea pigs that will be there, spending time with other friends from all over the nation, delivering pigs I've sold and picking up pigs I've bought (this is a hub for being able to get bloodlines you otherwise can't get without putting them on an airplane- and the prime example of my friend Cathy's husband's assessment that guinea pigs are really just furry little trading cards) and then driving back home thru that self-same desert in two days. It's going to be a blast. And I'm not kidding. OK, now you may laugh.

The point is...I need to be rested. I worked late last night, got home about 11ish, had dinner and was in bed by 1am. Not bad. I'm good on 6 solid hours and I get up at 7am. Today and tomorrow will be busier than yesterday as I prepare home and work for my absence and the pigs for their moment in the spotlight. Yes. Baths will come into play along with tiny little pedicures.

Making lists is the main thing I'll do today- packing lists for me, the pigs (food and bedding to keep changes to a minimum during the outlandish ten days they'll be enduring with their usual good humor), shopping lists, lists of what I'll need to bring to cook for friends while there...lists.

Bed at 1am and fell promptly asleep as I do. And I can stay blissfully asleep as long as nothing bothers me and alerts my "mom ears".

2:15am Bonnie starts whining in a rhythmic weird she does when she forgot to pee when we let them out a mere two hours previously. I'm on the other side of the house. Surely Boy will hear her- she's right next to his head.

2:30am Get up and let Bonnie out. Turn around and there's Sorcha- "Oh. Bonnie gets to go out but I don't?" Let Sorcha out.

3am Let Bonnie and Sorcha in because they are barking at invisible nocturnal squirrels.

3:30am Realize out of a dead sleep that HEY! Yanno what would be GREAT on this trip? AUDIO BOOKS! If I order them NOW they'll probably be here before Wednesday morning!!! Grab my phone to find audio books that will be here by Wednesday. Books ordered. I have no fucking idea what they are. Golly I hope they're good.

4:15am Ward gets up to pee.

4:30am Dammit, now *I* have to pee.

5:45am Fizzgig gets hiccups so mighty the entire king sized bed weighed down by two humans, 100 pounds-worth of dogs and a geriatric cat still vibrates from them.

6:15am Sirius starts grooming himself under the covers and up against my back with that oddly disgusting sucking noise he makes.

Annnnnddddd...I'm up.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Selective Memory and Outrage

The 15th Anniversary of 9/11.

And we replay it over and over and over today on a loop of horror that never ends.

That one day.

That one day that 3,000 Americans were killed on American soil.

It's awful because it had never happened before, and it hasn't happened since.

It should never have happened.

No one should have to wonder if today is the day they will die...while at work. Or at school. Or anywhere else that should not be dangerous.

We replay it over and over again in a loop of horror that never ends.

"How DARE they attack us on our own sacred soil?"

Totally ignoring hundreds of thousands of people who leave their homes EVERY DAY wondering if they will return, who close their eyes EVERY NIGHT wondering of they will open them in the morning. People who are afraid of *US*, of our troops, our drones, our "allies" who WE arm. Every single day. On their own soil.

Hospitals bombed with patients and doctors inside.

Schools obliterated with students and teachers inside.

Children who are afraid of birds because...drones.

Young people and old people who turn to lives as terrorists because it's really all they have left- everything and everyone else they ever loved is blown up or dead or both.

When will it end?

That endless loop of horror?


It will never end as long as we only give weight and matter to our suffering and none at all to the suffering we cause in "retaliation".

It will never end as long as we can justify our violence while deploring and punishing the violence of others.

With more violence.

Bigger violence.

"Better" violence.

Calls to "make our military strong AGAIN" when we are already the biggest, most horrific killing machine ever known to human society. Ever.

So we ignore the carnage we're causing every single day and revel in the knowledge that we'll be bigger, better, more strong...the behemoth of fear and bullying that proves how compassionate and freedom-loving we are.

And the loop of horror plays over and over and over again...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dream a Little Dream...

So Fizzgig got out of the house yesterday. Flew out the door when I opened it and disappeared across the field. Since we all have sort of a love/hate relationship with the darling scruffy cuddly yappy little land shark, our reaction was a mild, "Shit. Oh, well" and we carried on with our morning. About an hour later, she was back on the deck waiting to be let in- covered in burrs and literal shit, so she got a bath.

Last night, we went to bed about midnight and about two-ish were woken up by Fizzgig. She was licking Ward's face and wagging in my face and when we woke up she went and laid back down. She did it again at about three. At four she curled up next to my tummy like she does and went to sleep. After a few minutes she started paddling and making little dog noises-she was dreaming. I have no idea what she did or saw while in "the wilderness" but it clearly gave her nightmares.

So from four till six I was wide awake. I hate that. About six I finally dropped back off to sleep and as is usually the case...that's when you get the most bizarre dreams.

Dreams are great. All sorts of weird shit can happen in dreams and your sleeping self takes them all in stride. Perfectly normal.

Therefore, it was puzzling to the point of alarming when my dream self looked down into my dream lap and said, "Why the hell is there a baby rhino in my lap?"

It wasn't a fantastical rhino- no mythical being of odd yet shimmering colors. This was just a run-of-the-mill ordinary baby rhino. In my lap. Looking up at me in a sort of cross-eyed manner. Probably from looking at his tiny little stub of a horn.

My dream self had stuff to do. I was aware that I needed to check on loved ones, I had responsibilities to attend to and places to go- none in a DANGER DANGER WILL ROBINSON manner and there was no aura of malice or fear in my dream; I just had a lot of things to do.

So I carried on, in the rain, driving and walking and doing the things that needed doing...with a baby rhino draped over me.

I worked my way through everything I needed to, except one part of the dream where I had to go to Oklahoma and there was a border wall in my way. They wouldn't let me into Oklahoma. Because of the rhino and all. So I didn't go to Oklahoma. Anywhere that doesn't accept baby rhinos isn't worth going to anyway (a sentiment I hold in my waking moments as well).

Relaying the above dream to the boys this morning, I realized that everything I've been trying to do lately- from home to hobby to work to health has had me running in seventy-leven directions for the last several months without letting up.

Last night, one of my bosses gave me an affirmative answer to a request I'd made with one caveat- he needed me to do him a favor that would require more of my time. And that. That right there. Was. The. Baby. Rhino.

"Oh, you've ferried your family to a million doctors' appointments in several different cities?"

"You've navigated the footwork and initial research to set up not one, but two brand new departments at work (one of which requires coordination with two additional and separate community entities)?"

"You survived one of the most drama-filled and aggravating weeks of your 20+ years on the job, human-resource-wise?"


Done. And I shall name him Paul. After that one boss...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

In the Unlikely Event of...

That's what your airline host or hostess says.

They stand in front of you and smile reassuringly, stressing that you'll probably get to where you're going just fine. But just in case of an "unlikely event" there's oxygen masks and flotation devices and other things that really won't help at all if you're plummeting from thousands of feet in the air towards Earth.


We've been thinking about this election. And how the outcome may affect our family. Directly. Affect. Our. Family. Because if we end up with a President Trump (or similar) and all health care (including Medicare) ends up in the private sector, that's not acceptable and could be deadly. So for the first time in my almost 60 years, I'm looking outside the US for places to live.

Alec and his friends are already looking at Europe to go to college. I spent some time looking at Uruguay for the weather and its out-of-the-way location and its services and affordability. And I downloaded Duolingo for Spanish so I'm all set, right?

Here's the kicker and what gives me pause. It's really far away. Like..."you can't drive there" far away. And it's crazy expensive to fly there even IF I weren't paralyzingly horribly terrified of flying. You can fly to Denmark and back several times for one trip to Uruguay.

And then in a recent conversation, there it was. The Answer.

Remember when we went up to Washington state a few years ago and I said someday we WILL move there? Because the people, the climate and OH MY STARS the rainforest?

Washington state is smack-dab shoved up next to...Canada and ITS section of the same damn geography and climate!

Vancouver Island.

So I started looking (thank you, Hawaii via Toronto Jordan)and even chatted with a realtor up yonder. He asked when we'd be interested in making the move. I said, "Round about the second week of November---right after our election." He laughed and said, "Ya- you guys have a pretty crazy one going on, right?" I made sure he knew that we are NOT on the Trump-wagon and he seemed surprised and said, "Ummm...don't MOST people feel that way?" No. No they don't, Mr. Sensible Canadian Realtor.

I assumed that rural Vancouver Island would be pretty comparable to rural western Washington- still pretty spendy.

I assumed wrong. Oh, sure there are really expensive places that are close-into Vancouver or Victoria or on rocky promontories overlooking the ocean...but most are actually within reach of someone like us, especially someone like us who WANT to be out of the way and rustic.

So I'm looking at places on the northern third of Vancouver Island and found one on the Cape Scott Trail- the road that crosses the island from east to west and connects Port Hardy to the Cape Scott Provincial Park. It's gorgeous. The big trees, ferns, water, mountains,'s right there.

Ward said, "If it's on the road...the ONLY road to the park, it's gonna be really busy during the summer." He was thinking of that self-same trip when we did Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Arches- winding our way along bumper to bumper two lane park roads for literally hours before actually entering the parks. We're so used to doing things "off-season" with the freedom of home-schooling schedules, that crowded parks were a real and unusual annoyance and Ward and Alec voiced that often and until I had us stop for lunch one day (in July) in Death Valley National Park. We found a picnic table right away! And they never mentioned how crowded the other parks were again!

So I pulled up the flyer for the Cape Scott Provincial Park and immediately noticed a few things.

-I was reminded that every Canadian I know is sensible, easy-going and has a wicked sense of humor

-No. That's it. And that's enough.

Excerpts from the OFFICIAL provincial park flyer.

Under "Points of Interest" (Those things in US parks that highlight battles won, landmark discoveries, etc...)

As you hike along the trails and beaches of the park, watch for some of the following natural and cultural history points of interest:
9. Breakwater- the remains of an old sailing vessel sunk as a breakwater. Unfortunately it did not survive winter storms and was soon washed ashore.
10. Wooden cart- Located in a meadow off the north side of the trail near Spencer farm. Alfred Spencer farmed here till 1956
11. Caterpiller tractor- The first motorized machine used at Cape Scott is lodged between two trees on the north side of the trail.
19. Driftwood fence posts- Remains of a driftwood fence running east-west behind Guise Bay. Built by NP Jensen in 1910 in an attempt to stabilize the sand dunes for pasture.

And my favorite---

20. Cougar trap- in the sandneck is a wood a-frame structure used as a cougar trap by the Jensen children. A cougar was captured and held for 10 minutes much to the surprise of the children. (I'LL BET!)

Every single one is testament to how much puny humans suck next to Mother Nature. Our attempt at a breakwater? The ocean laughs. Albert Spencer thought he could FARM here? The wilderness kicked his ass so good he just up and left his CART for criminy's sake. So the humans brought a MACHINE to help them conquer the forest...and the forest grabbed ahold of it and hasn't let loose of it yet. Jensen wanted to make PASTURE out of BEACH? Not likely then and not likely now. And the only thing that would've been better than #20 is if #21 had been "Jensen family burial plot- where the Jensen children were buried after the encounter with the cougar."

And I don't think Ward has to worry about traffic.

Under "Caution"

Persons contemplating a visit to Cape Scott Provincial Park are reminded that the park is a wilderness area without supplies or equipment of any kind. Most trails are primitive and very muddy. Hiking along the coastline can be dangerous. Holberg is the nearest settlement and visitors should be in possession of suitable maps.

Boil or treat all drinking water before consuming.

In case of emergency contact the RCMP in Port Hardy, the lighthouse station at Cape Scott or the Park facility operator at Nels Bight (MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THERE).

Not a gift shop or restaurant in sight, and damn few outhouses. I count seven in the entire park and only the one ranger station...which may or may not contain an actual ranger.

We'd already decided that when I'm able to retire, we'll be heading to the Pacific Northwest.

So, in the unlikely event that we need to Trumpvacuate...I'm downloading Duolingo Canadian today.

Photos of the actual property near the park. Can you stand it?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Art of the Dealio

OK, kids. Here's the dealio.

This is possibly the most fucked up election that *I* can remember, and I can remember a few. All the way back to 1980 when I voted for Reagan. Shut up. I was young, idealistic and stupid.

Here's what pisses me off about this one. We HAD a chance. We HAD a great candidate but we didn't vote for him. Oh, I did and prolly you did but not enough people did and he lost.

The conservatives didn't vote for him because they're so scared of the word "socialist" they pee their underpants when they hear it and their "news" sources have told them that it's all about FREE STUFF and then dying in death camps, neatly sweeping the many democratic socialist successful happy nations that are currently "suffering" from this malady under the Conservative Media rug.

The liberals didn't vote for him because they feel that it's Hillary's "turn". Fair enough. She's worked damn hard for decades and is eminently qualified for the position. Absolutely and completely.

She also has the expected baggage that goes with literally years in the spotlight. Most is bullshit. Some is true. Her stances on things have changed AS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC'S STANCES HAVE CHANGED and that's not flip-flopping- it's doing what your damn people WANT you to do so I'm not sure what the hell is the problem with THAT. Bernie didn't have this baggage for one reason.

He was never considered a threat to the conservative side OR the liberal side. Once he became NOTICED and wildly popular, the Right hauled out the spectre of socialism and the Left hollered FREE STUFF and sneered while making sure they fudged a little here and altered things a little there so it was a sure thing that he wouldn't win it. Both the RNC and the DNC just wanted him gone. So he's gone. He's not DEAD and he will continue to do what he's always done...yanno, back before MOST of his most vocal supporters were even BORN.

Ahh. the RNC and the DNC. I've said it before but apparently we need reminding often. The primaries mean NOTHING. Honestly, if the DNC had done NOTHING and Bernie won by a landslide they STILL didn't have to make him their candidate. Just like the RNC did NOT have to make Trump THEIR candidate. They didn't. But they did.

And here we are.

We have two realistic candidates left and our choice is to vote for one of them. Yes, there are multiple 3rd party candidates. Are they on the ticket in all 50 states? If not, they are not viable. They SHOULD HAVE DONE THE HOMEWORK AND FUNDRAISING TO DO SO WELL BEFORE ***NOW***. If they couldn't get even THAT done, how good a POTUS will they be?

If they ARE on the ballot in all 50 states (Gary Johnson) do you REALLY agree with EVERYTHING he stands for? Or are you just voting for him because you're pissed off at the other two? Do you realize that Gary Johnson would have exactly FUCK-ALL chance of getting ANYTHING done once elected? Good. Just checking.

I hate our two-party system. I hate that we don't have more viable choices. But you know who's fault that is and when something should have been done about it?


To come in here pissing and moaning about our lackluster CHOICES this time is bullshit. OWN THAT SHIT.

To say "It's all rigged and both parties are the same and both candidates are crooks" is cowardly, finger-pointing douchebaggery of the highest order. You know how it got that way? WE LET IT GET THAT WAY.

What can we do NOW? We are 100 days away from the election and either Clinton or Trump WILL be POTUS.

Those are our choices.

Clinton has baggage and a shit-ton of experience in how things work on The Hill and in foreign negotiations. She's had decades either in public office or actually working with and for the private sector INCLUDING those who couldn't hand her a fat check.

Trump has jack shit. The first office he's running for is POTUS. Does that not say something about his ego and narcissism? He brings out the very WORST of the American Spirit and feeds it. The RNC convention was horrifying. The things he yells at us are terrifying. Would you want this asshole to coach your little league team? Run the humane society in your town? Babysit your KIDS? Why on EARTH would you want him in charge of our NATION?

Oh. He's going to bring back jobs. Great. So he's already closed all his factories in China and Mexico? No?

He's going to be the Law and Order POTUS. Super. So all those lawsuits he's been party to (not the ones he brings on other people- the ones brought against HIM and that he's been found GUILTY of in courts of law almost MONTHLY for the last few decades- those ones) are going to stop now? No?

He's going to protect the morals of our blessed Christian nation and God will smile on us again? OUTSTANDING- guess he's closed all his strip clubs and casinos!!! Huh.

What the actual FUCK, America?

So here's the dealio.

I love Bernie Sanders with an almost unnatural zeal- and I have for almost THIRTY YEARS. Not the last year and a half. Three decades. It's laughable to me that the Right dredged up an article (satire, BTW) he wrote while he was in COLLEGE and held it up saying that he hates women while their Chosen One calls women fat pigs and worse every single day NOW. But I digress...

So here's the dealio.

If you write in Bernie Sanders he will NOT be POTUS. He won't, and trust me no one would be happier if that were an option but it's not. If you vote 3rd party your candidate will not win. IF I were to vote 3rd party, I'd be voting for Mimi Soltysik/Angela Walker because they Rock. They also said that to be true to their beliefs, if elected the first thing they would have to do is fire themselves.

CAN we change the system from within? Yes.

WILL it be fast and glorious? No.

It's going to take ALL of us getting up out of our chairs and DOING something from the day after the election till the next one---4 years. 1,460 days. Including weekends. How many of us can AFFORD to do that? How many of us have the TIME to do that?

Virtually none of us. Our system is beautifully set up to keep us working long hours for low pay to scrabble for our families. But here's a thing. Here's a thing you CAN endorse that will help and it's got Bernie's blessing and support.

But THIS presidential election is 100 days away. It will be virtually impossible to get it done THIS time. So THIS time, here's how I'm voting.

I'm voting for Hillary Clinton.

I'm voting for the party platform that will do the LEAST harm to us in the next 4 years. Shit, the Republican Platform doesn't even sugar-coat anything; just states it's FOR exclusion, taking away rights hard won, and rampant discrimination of anyone not white and Christian. What the hell?

It's not "voting for the lesser evil" for criminy's sake. Thanks to Bernie, the Democratic platform is the most progressive it's EVER been in the history of Ever.

Let's talk cooking for a minute.

Say I want to make lasagne for my family tonight for dinner, but I go into my pantry and I don't have lasagne noodles or ricotta cheese or italian sausage or tomato sauce. I DO have elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese and pork chops and green beans. I also have Drano and Lysol cleaning spray and laundry detergent.

Do I throw a fit? Refuse to cook ANYTHING for dinner because what I have in front of me is not EXACTLY what I wanted? Turn on my family and holler at them for requiring FOOD AT ALL and stomp out of the house? FEED THEM A DRANO/LYSOL/LAUNDRY DETERGENT CASSEROLE EVEN THO I HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A PERFECTLY FINE DINNER IN FRONT OF ME???

No. I don't. I feed them macaroni and cheese, pork chops and green beans and make damn sure I have lasagne ingredients on my list for NEXT TIME I go to the store.

Honestly. Sometimes I just don't know what to do with some of ya'll.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living Liberal in East Texas- Voting

So I voted today.

Walked into our tiny precinct for the primary run-off election and there were the two tables- one marked Republican and one marked Democrat.

The lady at the Republican table asked me how I was voting and I pointed to the Democrat table lady.

There was an instantaneous air of shock in the room. "Really?" the three elderly ladies (honestly not older than me) looked at me with heads cocked to one side, like they were trying to get me into focus. I spun around as gracefully as my pear-shape allows but think I pulled it off pretty well thanks to my colorful sari skirt and hippie-braided rainbow hair, finishing off with a flourish of arms in the air.

"Are you sure? You know there's only one thing on that ballot- there are LOTS of things to vote for on the Republican ballot."

I said, "I can vote Republican even if I'm a Democrat?"

"Sure! You can vote however you like!" *sweet smile*

Wait a second. "How many Democrats have voted here today?"

The lady at the D table hesitated and said, "Well...none. I don't usually do this (her badge said she's really one of our municipal judges) and they told me I wouldn't have to do anything but sit in the chair all day- I don't even know what to do."

I really, really wanted to vote against that idiotic dangerous old bat Mary Lou "Obama was a gay prostitute to pay for his drugs" Bruhner as head of the state school board. Really. It would've meant me voting R today. Just today. The ladies at the R table beckoned- smiling, waving that ballot with her name on it...


I made the lady at the D table learn how to check someone in, saying, "Ya'll must've been expecting me- when I first moved here 20-plus years ago, they didn't even have a person in that chair- it was a potted plant." *Nervous laughter*

I took my voting machine code from the young man who was probably fulfilling some sort of community service civics thing- high school age, MAYBE college age. This was, I'm positive, the most excitement he'd seen all day.

So I voted Democrat and in the Athens paper when they list the election totals by party there will show TWO STINKING DEMOCRATS VOTED IN BROWNSBORO---including Ward, who is voting later today. It shall not show that Brownsboro TX voted 100% Red. Shall. Not.

I told the lady at the D table that my husband would be in, and to remember how to check him in. I told them all that in two years our son will be voting Democrat, too.

On my way out the door, I took one more spin and said, "Yep! We're taking over!" and the laughter stopped.

The young man smiled, winked and gave me a quick, secretive thumbs-up.

Can't blame him, really. He's stuck there till 7pm with three actual dinosaurs.

Change is comin', darlin'. One crazy old rainbow-haired hippie at a time.

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