photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's the Point? And Please Use Small Words- In Three Sentences or Less

Why is it so confusing for people, this "Occupy Wall St." protest?

Over and over again we hear, "But I don't understand. What's the point?"

Gee. I dunno.

The point is that our supreme court decided that corporations are people?

The point is that the banks and brokerages on Wall St. played with everyones' money with not a goddamn bit of oversight and when they lost it all the government bailed them out so "bad things wouldn't happen to the economy"? And then the banks didn't give it to people to stimulate the economy, they hoarded it like old ladies in a trailer park hoard cats and gave themselves big fat bonuses instead?

*or built more banks- just in Tyler there's a new bank on every corner there's not a chain restaurant or church*

The point is that capitalism without regulation is Social Darwinism at its worst- the very few do outstandingly well and the rest of us struggle?

The point is the bad economy is not because Obama is the president, or even because Bush was president or (god help me) because Reagan was president. It's because no one made Wall St. and the huge corporations accountable for anything- they couldn't, they'd all been bought, purchased, trussed up and gagged by them.

We have, ladies and gentlemen, a faux democracy.

Technically there is still one vote per person, but realistically those votes are not cast after careful consideration, but on the upswing of knee-jerk reactions- people love the easy answers, the black and white, the clearly marked lines in the sand.

Occupy Wall St. does not have the same visceral appeal as any Tea Party shindig.

What's the point? There are signs, to be sure- with every single word spelled correctly and with a message that's longer than a 15 second Super Bowl ad- there's one problem.

It's difficult to caricature-ize the people on Occupy Wall St. because save for a few topless chicks they look much like anybody on the sidewalk anyway- students, adults, children, senior citizens behaving rationally and...normally.

It's damn unexciting TV.

We need flash, extreme and instant recognition- that when we flip through the channels with a finger speed far surpassing anything any other part of our body can match we STOP, pause, the image bounces off the backs of our retinas and our brain says

Flag T-shirt + hat w/tea bags hanging from it + loaded and obvious sidearm + badly spelled message on a sign with Obama as (a nazi, Hitler himself, a cartoon with huge ears and/or an African native w/a bone through his nose) = TEA PARTY

Oh, surely I'm exagerating. Us tree-huggin' bleeding heart liberals tend to do that. Lets pause for a little musical interlude...shall we?

The Tea Party's got it going on. They've made themselves into instantly recognized characters. All they have to do when a reporter asks "Why are you here today" is scream "TO TAKE BACK AMERICA!" and everyone cheers.

Woe to the reporter who asks "Take it back from who?"

"From....them. The liberals. The socialists. The Commies. THE PRESIDENT IS A MUSLIN!!!" (wild cheers from the crowd)

As a comparison, lookit this video- the vast differences in the crowd members- I mean REALLY- there's not a sea of flag t-shirts or anything at all to give instant recognition- they just look like PEOPLE for crissakes.

Where are their ORGANIZERS???

What kind of "grass roots, ground up, for the people/by the people" movement can get off the ground without millions of dollars worth of corporate money for fancy fliers and posters and renting of halls and busing of people to rallies in professionally painted buses and covered no matter how pathetically attended by throngs of adoring media???

*Apparently this one can- Wall St. is fixin' to be joined in the next week or so by Occupy Dallas, Houston, Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee and over 20 other metropolitan financial districts.

And the message, the reason, the POINT of it all is so simple a nine year old gets it.

Pretty good, kid- the Anti-Robin Hood analogy.

But not nearly as catchy or memorable as "Obama is a muslin who takes orders from Satin".

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Protest on Wall St.???

"The Mainstream Media is so biased- it's all liberal bullshit- the only place BRAVE enough to cover the TRUTH is FOX News".

I've swallowed the bile that phrase elicits more times than I can count- and it may in fact be the reason I'm getting an ulcer.

Yes. The Mainstream Media is so liberal it doesn't show this-

And FOX News is SO BRAVE it doesn't cover this-!

Those aren't Egypt or London or Greece or Libya. That's right now in the good old US of A.

Peaceful protesters- unarmed and nonthreatening and brandishing not one sign inciting violence and the only people "carrying" are the police- an estimated one fully riot-geared 'peace officer' for every TWO protesters- a great number of them women, children, elderly, students.

What the hell are they afraid of? Getting patchouli all over themselves?

That fucking bronze bull has a 24 hour arm-linked bodyguard.

Occupy Wall St.

That's all.

Occupy Wall St.- the site of the financial rape and literal plunder of millions of Americans by the few, the uber-wealthy, the Original Randians- is the attempt to remind those making the "difficult and sad but it's just business" calls that render people homeless, jobless and foodless that ummm...we're here.

We're here and we're people and we're tired of getting jacked around by the 1% of the people who clutch most of the money and line their pockets with the souls of politicians.

That the filthy rich didn't just spring fully formed and handsomely endowed from god's tears of joy- they (or their fathers or grandfathers) climbed to the top of the financial food chain on the backs of a whole shitload of us.

Social Darwinism + Cognitive Dissonance = the whole "Survival of the Fittest" bullshit line that is squawked by all the old Tea Partiers in their hova-rounds living on SS Disability who fail to realize that THEY are the "unfit" ones- their beloved Republican candidates promise that they are going to do everything to "clean out the debris" from the government dole and the people in the audience CHEER- they cheer for their own incomes to be yanked out from under themselves and they cheer.

Just as they cheered at the happy thought that a young man without insurance be left to die in an emergency room because according to the carefully worded scenario he may not DESERVE to live- he made bad life choices and if he dies, he dies- thank GOD he'd have that happy FREEDOM of choice and not live in one of those socialist places that treat EVERYONE yanno...equally.

And when it's their son? When it's THEIR son who lost his job and lost his insurance and can't afford to buy insurance AND feed their grandchildren? Will they cackle then? SCREAM for blood and death and "nothing personal son, but sometimes yer the windshield and sometimes yer the bug"?

What's the matter with people? How can they listen to all the blatant "Fuck the poor and non-Christian and non-hetero people- the RICH are the JOB MAKERS" bullshit? And why the hell are they cheering like Romans in the Colosseum at the thought of Rick Perry murdering innocent people and uninsured people dying?

*ahem* Sorry. Got off track for a sec...

So Wall St. is being occupied and it's not on the regular TV. You need to go to the cable channels like LINK or Al Jazeera or to YouTube to see it- to see what's happening in our own country and under our own noses.

And the people who watch FOX News and attend their Tea Party meetings and warn that Obama is a Socialist Fascist Marxist Communist Kenyan who will turn our country into one of those countries where the public is only shown and told what Big Brother wants us to know?

Too late, assholes- unarmed women are getting maced on Wall St. but it's not on FOX News so it can't be happening. Ya'll just keep on tryin' to Pray Away the Gay, and telling women to be submissive, and shitting all over the 1st Amendment while holding the 2nd Amendment as more holy than the bible...because Big Brother told you it's what God wants you to do.

Anyone got a spare welding torch? There's a big bronze bull on Wall St. who'd look MUCH better as a big bronze steer...I'd hand deliver what I cut off to our President- he can use 'em to flog some Congressmen...

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Pitter Pat of Little Drops

It rained last night.

Such a simple sentence. Four words, none of them remarkable.

But this is Texas circa Summer 2011. I stopped counting when we hit our 75th day of over 100 degrees and we haven't had more than .05 inch of rain since May.

We were already in our 4th year of drought and the extremely unheard-of heat plumb finished us off.

Rain has been forecast, promised, held in front of our noses- so many dew-covered carrots more times than I can count on one hand in the last 3 months, and each time the weather updates and the percentage likelihood drops, fades, withers away before our very eyes as though even the weather report is no match for the furnace blast breezes and unrelenting glare of Old Sol.

So I watched the forecast this time as though listening to the tired refrain of an abusive spouse. "THIS time will be different. I've changed. I promise, Baby", knowing full well it's most likely complete bullshit but dutifully nodding all the same.

We were supposed to get rain starting Thursday night and for the following six days. Each day dawned bright and sunny and each night the moon reflected back the sunlight that couldn't leave us alone for even a few hours.

Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.


Last night the moon did not come out- the clouds did.

Breathlessly, hopefully, we looked up the radar and there it was- headed for us.


Now even then there was no overt merriment- not long ago a large storm formation thundered down from the north and as we watched split neatly in two just to the north of us, then re-formed just to the south of us, drenching everyone within miles...except us.

So we went about our business, nonchalantly.

The clouds deepened. The temperature dropped. The radar glowed red covering the tiny speck that is us.


One drop fell heavy to the earth as though thrown.

We held our breaths.

And the heavens opened, the giant pillow of clouds were torn end to end and water cascaded down, covering us in a slumber party's worth of beautiful feathery drops.

For over an hour it fell steady, fabulous and life-giving.

Today and for the next week or so it's sunny again, but not as hot and the dust has been knocked off of everything.

I breathed deeply of the cool morning air as I checked the creek. It's not running yet, but where the springs ooze up into it there are puddles- bigger puddles where the 3 within sight had been stalwartly refusing to dry up- ice cold on the feet of all who splashed in them- boy and dogs, and worth the trip down the bank for our 16 year old cat who crouches at their edge- a tiger in his mind's eye.

Yesterday all the foliage was dust red and today the colors are once again visible- different shades of green, but far too much yellow and brown where plants, shrubs, trees small and enormous have starved to death silently.

And I understand being grateful for the rain. I understand the relief it brings both physically and mentally.

And I can look to the sky and say "Thank you" sincerely.

But I don't get the whole 'Thanking God' thing.

I didn't get the whole 'praying for rain' thing either.

Apparently neither did God- for months and months.

Because if God brings the rain, that means he also withholds it.

That means all the dead cattle, birds, plants, trees, all the ruined farmers looking at no hay this winter and no pasture either, all the wildfires, all the decimated forests, all the torched homes and their accompanying now-homeless families, all the wounded firefighters, the young mother and her baby who died trapped in their flaming home...also the work of God.

When the whole idea behind religion is to provide order, and comfort, and a greater power who is just and righteous and someone/something to order our own lives and behaviors around...

I'll just go on believing it's merely Weather, thanks anyway.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Other Side of the Coin

Dear Mr. President,

Your ratings are in the toilet, in case you haven't noticed.

FOX News and the Tea Party are hammering into the heads of America that it's because you're so off-base, so off-course, so bad at being The Boss of Us that the only thing we can do to "save America" is to swing so far to the Right we fall flat off of the edge of the Earth. (We'll be able to do that, just as soon as David Barton's Big Book of Bible History is being taught to all the school children).

Your terrible ratings are being trumpeted like a K Mart Blue Light Special- and it seems to be working. People all over this fair land are lapping up the dangerous vitriol being spewed by every single Republican candidate, believing in desperation and willing to give up MORE- more money, more freedom, and the tatters of what's left of their own American Dreams PLUS those of their parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.

Anything to make it stop. Make the financial free-fall and social uneasiness we all wake up in every morning stop, because our mental vertigo from it makes it very difficult to plod through every single day with our noses to the grind stone without puking our lungs out.

Your most vocal enemies (and I searched every word I could think of without success before using such a strong one) on the Republican side of the aisle are singing a siren song and people are so scared and blinded by despair that they're following- following the flaming figures wrapped in the flag and holding high a bible and not seeing the cliff right in front of them. Our people- OUR people- are being led (actually pushed) off, lemmings stampeding to the hollow promises of freedom and rights while the abyss is the reality and coming up fast.

I'm sure it's discouraging to see people who voted for you shake their heads and turn away, some with sadness, some with a disillusion morphing ever more quickly into critical sarcastic loathing- that special emotion generally reserved for the wronged lover.

While the Far Right is maniacally shrieking that you're losing your support because you're turning the country into an entitlement-sucking, money-bleeding pit of godless homosexuality, let me tell you the real reason.

You haven't done enough, you're still trying to reason with bullies.

The Health Care bill is a personal thing for our family- my husband has several health issues that preclude him from any private insurance company coverage. Luckily he's on medicare, or we'd be bankrupt and he'd be dead. Your enemies think that'd be OK. Your enemies believe that "Obamacare" is a job-stealing, government-takeover monster. In reality, it didn't go far enough. What you NEEDED to do was make damn sure there was a public option- THAT would've leveled the playing field. I know you've heard it before but it's true. I know all us "little people" don't know all the ins and outs of how the Game is played up there on the hill but dammit- that was an important item and it got dropped.

During the debt ceiling debates? The words "Social Security" should not ever ever EVER even have left your mouth when listing things that could go on the table for cutting. Ever. Your base took that as a direct betrayal, because it was.

I understand that you're trying to be bi-partisan and fair and compromising for the benefit of all but I'm sorry to inform you that it's not working.

I'm sorry to inform you that you cannot reason with bullies who don't care if they are making any damn sense at all or their constituents lose their jobs and homes and die or the country falls to literal ashes as long as you yourself are also lost in the debris of what was once a strong nation. That's the only compromise they'll accept- anything that means you lose.

The problem is that you won on a promise to fight for US, to FIGHT for us- and for 2 years we've watched you try not to hurt the feelers of your enemies.

May I speak for all old ladies who voted for you when I politely suggest that you tell them all to go to hell and do what you promised US you'd do.

Whenever the Right has control, they don't mess around. They do whatever they want and unapologetically dismiss the Left like so many yammering puppies under their feet.

I understand you are trying to be better than that, but you have no choice if you are going to be, and remain to be OUR President.

The reason your ratings are so low is not because you can't do a good job, but because you won't.

You've started. You blazed into the Jobs Bill like a hero, and I know I wasn't alone in my happiness when you pointedly asked the Republicans "Well? Show us what you got."

But you've already back-paddled a bit, given in a bit, even though Social Security is supposedly safe, now it's Medicare and Medicaid? Seriously? Last I checked (and I do write the checks at work and pay the taxes) a hefty amount is taken out- bought and paid for by the people and their employers for Medicare. It's not an entitlement program any more than Social Security, other than we're entitled to them because we're paying for them.

Mr. President- remember those giddy few days after the assination of Bin Laden? Remember how high your ratings were? Across the board?

Here's why.

Because you showed yourself as a man who gets shit done. Who looks at facts and listens to good advice and gets shit done because it needs doing and you have the power to do it.

Our country is failing, floundering, bleeding from greed and selfishness and not-so-hidden personal agendas and it will not be healed by wrapping it in a flag till it suffocates or thumping it to death with a bible.

You can do this.

Look away from the corporations- they're not people.

Close your ears to the Far Right politicians- they're not unemployed and hungry.

Look at the people who voted for you, listen to the people who voted for you, not the men and women in lesser offices who blatantly say their number one political goal is to get you out of office- even if it means the continued suffering of their constituents and the decimation of this country.

They are the enemy.

Do what needs doing.


Sheri Dixon
Mother, Wife, Business Manager
Texan, American
Proud Unashamed Flaming Liberal

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Only For REAL Americans...

Here's something I've noticed.

I get emails...a lot of emails, from a few "conservative" family members and they all have one thing in common- a flagrant attempt to elicit some sort of knee-jerk negative reaction.

They read something like...this-


Informative, and mind boggling!

You think the war in Iraq is costing us too much? Read this:

Boy am I confused. I have been hammered with the propaganda that it is the Iraq war and the war on terror that is bankrupting us.

I now find that to be RIDICULOUS.

I hope the following 14 reasons are forwarded over and over again until they are read so many times that the reader gets sick of reading them. I have included the URL’s for verification of all the following facts.

1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year.
Verify at:

2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
Verify at:

3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
Verify at:

4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English!
Verify at:

5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.
Verify at

6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.
Verify at:

7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
Verify at:

8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.
Verify at:

9. $200 Billion Dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.
Verify at:

10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that’s two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US
Verify at:

11. During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, crossed into the U. S from the Southern border.
Verify at: Homeland Security Report:

12. The National Policy Institute, ‘estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.’
Verify at:

13. In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin.
Verify at:

14. ‘The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants In The United States.’
Verify at:



If this doesn’t bother you then just delete the message. If, on the other hand, if it does raise the hair on the back of your neck, I hope you forward it to every legal resident in the country including every representative in Washington, D.C. – five times a week for as long as it takes to restore some semblance of intelligence in our policies and enforcement thereof.

The problem with the above article is that it's 100% bullshit, as a 30 second search on shows-

They also generally have colorful cartoons sprinkled liberally (pun intended) between paragraphs- our President with huge ears or a chimp's face, Nancy Pelosi in various degrees of awful, turban-ed Muslims looking alternately foolish and threatening...matters not what the content of the email is- as long as demeaning and disgusting images hold the attention of the viewer to the end of the article, it's all good.

Most of my friends are liberals and/or progressives like myself, and yet I receive NOT ONE email from them...ever.

What the hell?

Is it because there's nothing we can complain about? Has the conservative agenda been that correct, that fabulous, that UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLY AWESOME that we stand silent in the glory of it all?

*I think not*

The Republican party and its embarrassing bastard child the Tea Party have done nothing but push to take away our rights while claiming to champion small government, and claim out loud and in front of god and everybody that they flat don't give a tinker's damn about anyone but those who bought them and pull their...strings.

Liberals don't have to make shit up- all we need to do is turn on the TV, listen to these people talk and see how they vote. I understand.

Right wing conservatives spend all day every day doing apparently nothing but sending easily-overturned obvious grade A second-rate propaganda by the literal hundreds TO EACH OTHER in an effort to make the reality of their party, their "side" look less heinous.

If they close their eyes and ears to what's really going on in "Batshit Crazy Dominionist Christian Conservative Land" and focus on what they THINK is going on in "Evil Socialist Homosexual Treehugging Land" they can do it.

They can believe that Their Side is ON their side- that men and women who stand up and say out loud before cameras and with a straight face that their vision for America is to make big corporations bigger by removing ANY regulations (safety, worker's rights- piffle), to make the Christian Bible the Law of the Land, to completely control what women can and can't do with their own bodies and who does and does not "deserve" health care, that American children don't NEED to learn "far out theories" like Evolution, that "real freedom" means no social safety net- Social Darwinism- survival of the fittest, and that the way to balance the deficit is by "shared sacrifice"- meaning of course that GE still pays no taxes but all the money we've paid into Social Security is now gone and we'll "just have to accept that there were promises that can't be kept" (thank you Eric Cantor).

They have to so bombard each other with a constant litany of fear, hatred, divisiveness and paranoia that the term "whipped into a frenzy" is 100% too tame.

Because if they were to take a damn breath and really listen to "Their Side" and its plans for THEM, the people who back them, support them and vote for them, they'd all become suicidal.

Thank god they're all armed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dear Mom...

(an email I just sent to my very conservative republican mother in Wisconsin)

I'm guessing yer gonna vote republican.

Please listen when I say Rick Perry is The Devil.

Not talking as a flaming liberal, talking as a woman with a child and a husband on disability and as a Texan. The man is dangerous- he's never won an election with a true 51% or greater majority- the most votes he's ever managed is 32%. Right now registered TEXAN republicans wouldn't vote for him for president- only 5% support him.

He cut $4 BILLION from schools- firing 100,000 staff members and closing over 1,000 schools at a time when Texas' population is growing and we already rate 49th in education. Thank God for Mississippi.

The TBOE- Texas Board of Education- appointed by him, is all rabidly anti-evolution and are working hard on getting "that E-volution out of our science classes and teaching the bible version instead". Seriously. Last year they also voted to remove Thomas Jefferson from texts as a "person of historical significance".

He ALMOST passed a law that every single 12 year old girl be vaccinated against cervical cancer- a vaccine that's since been proven harmful and in some cases fatal- I'm sure it was just a coincidence that he's a stockholder in the pharmaceutical company that marketed it.

Texas ranks high in teen pregnancy, illiteracy, and we boast the highest number of people employed at or below minimum wage and without health insurance in the nation. And before you say "all the 'illegals' are skewing the numbers", they're not. As an aside, for all the "wall off Mexico" crowd, immigration legal or otherwise from Mexico is down- way down. I guess Rick's a genius- all he had to do to stop immigration was to make Texas poorer than Mexico.

Can you find a job in Texas? Sure. But you can't live on it. It's common for a couple to have 4 jobs between them and be just scraping by, praying that no one gets sick or hurt because one good medical bill would mean homelessness. This isn't fantasy- it's hard cold fact for my friends, my neighbors, ourselves.

Rick Perry is so pro-life that he passed a law requiring women to view (with running commentary from a "counselor") a sonogram before getting an abortion. He also got cheers from the audience at the last debate for overseeing the deaths of 243 inmates- the highest number in the nation. Unfortunately, 41 of those have since been proven Lets hear it for Pro Life *~*

The fires here in Texas lately? Last year Rick Perry did some cutting back on the firefighters' budgets- but only by *75%*

Actually- Rick has a "Governor's Rainy Day Fund" that has $3 Billion in it. That could've rented a shitload of airplanes that drop water...or could've kept a bunch of schools open. Good thing he's saving it for an emergency.

Finally, he's a firm believer in NO separation of church and state. I know this because he and other Texas lawmakers locked arms and CHANTED IT at a rally. There are already countries founded on that sort of theocracy- they're Muslim.

I love Texas the State. I've been here 18 years this December. It's a huge expansive beautiful place peopled with folks that have hearts to match.

Texas and her people are surviving in spite of Rick Perry, not because of him.

The only "Texas Miracle" is that we're even able to do that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

At A Loss

I didn't know
What to write
IF to write

I feel I have no right
To write about it.

I wasn't there.
None of my beloveds were there.
My personal
World was not shattered by it.

We recieved no news
Good or bad
That would forever be
Overshadowed by it.

That morning Ward was at work.
Alec was watching Spongebob
On apparently the only channel
Not overwhelmed by...It.

The sun was shining
And I was watching
Baby goats playing
King of the Hill
Using their dad
As the hill.

Drinking coffee, calling a friend
We chatted a moment and then she said
"You don't know, do you?"

And as I turned away from the goats
And the sunshine
And turned off Spongebob

The images on the screen
Were unreal.

Because in my world,
Nothing had changed.
There was still sunshine
And baby goats
And a toddler
And coffee.

And I didn't know.

I didn't know that barely a month later
My beloved mother-in-law would be gone.
Without warning,
Or fanfare.
Just like that.

I didn't know that less than a year after that
Our family would become a Cancer Family.
With the words
"Just a little skin cancer-
No problem".
Just like that.

To say one word today
About war
Or vengeance
Or politics
Or righteousness
Of any flavor
Would be obscene.

And I wouldn't dare say
To anyone truly affected by 9/11/01
"I know how you feel".

Because I can't.

The only thing I know
That they know

Is that every moment spent
With loved ones
Doing mundane things
Quiet, normal, ordinary
Human things

Is precious

And can be shattered
And taken away
In the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wendy- A REAL Texas Miracle

Whenever we go on vacation the most stressful and time consuming part is farm care- we've got a truly daunting amount of critters to care for. We've always had the good fortune to have friends, family, co-workers, neighbors or a combination of all those willing to pitch in and "do time" down on the Dixon Homestead.

This year our farm sitter was Ashley, who works for me. Ashley's knowledgeable and sensible and I had no qualms whatsoever leaving our cast of demanding and spoiled characters in her care. We went through The List of everyone's schedules, care and feeding and we left after the breakfast feeding Day One of vacation.

At lunchtime I got a text from Ashley.

"I know we covered all the animals and their care, but I don't remember and don't see anything on the list about the beagle".

That's easy.

We don't HAVE a beagle.

Not so fast, Dixon...

Apparently, when Ashley got to the farm a mere *four hours* after we left, she was met in the yard by a purebred friendly beagle who was eager to welcome her and walked the yard AND THE HOUSE like she'd been born here.


And she was pregnant.

"FINE. Feed the damn beagle and IF she's still there when I get home I'll figure something out."

On our entire trip, I informed the boys "We do not need another dog. I'll find a home for her because we DO NOT NEED ANOTHER DOG".

By the time we got home, Joe was home from his summer trip too and his calm but firm opinion on the matter was "I can't stand that dog- all she does is whine and bark all the damn time and she's always underfoot".

I took her to work and had them give her a rabies shot and guess how far along she was...pretty far.

She had this weird habit of screaming non-stop every time she was touched but she didn't shy away or act aggressive. It WAS annoying and more than a little creepy.

She ravenously ate everything she could grab but again, never aggressively.

I sat on the porch petting her velvety ears but not making eye contact with those milk chocolate brown eyes- not out of guilt or dislike, but because she seemed to scream...less if you didn't make eye contact.

After a long while I got up and went inside.

"Her name is Wendy", I announced to the boys, and they knew That Was That.

Joe's mom went into the hospital up in Oklahoma and I went with him to help them through the hospital/doctor/home health care maze that I know so well and hate so much.

Wendy was pregnant when I left on a Thursday and not pregnant when I got home on Saturday. Just as I'd predicted whenever Joe said how much he didn't like her, she had the pups under his house.

Six puppies of unknown fatherhood- 3 black with white tips and 3 yellow with white tips. She was an excellent mother and now even MORE hungry than before. Because of the extreme heat of the summer and the fact that our house doesn't have air conditioning but Joe's cabin does, under Joe's house was actually the coolest spot on the place.

After a few weeks the puppies started venturing out and we started feeding them mushed up kibble. By "we" I mean "Alec", who became willing Keeper of the Tail-Wagging Horde.

Wendy patrols our property end to end and back and forth, sounding off with the signature Beagle Bugle if anything's amiss (to her thinking). If she's really upset, she'll barrel back to the house and circle it once, twice, thrice baying all the time. It took me a while to figure out that beagles never work alone- she's summoning a pack that isn't here, but instinct compels her all the same.

If her alarm reaches a particular level of urgency the 100 pound+ Great Pyrenees lifts her jowly head from the porch and lumbers off to see what's up. They make a cartoonish pair of guardians, but I feel safe knowing they're our Homeland Security.

Last Saturday night both dogs were frantic just past Joe's place- something was NOT RIGHT in the woods by the neighbors' pond. Alec went over there multiple times (garbed in his usual boxer shorts...period) with a flashlight and saw nothing but called the dogs back.

Joe looked with his high powered flashlight and the neighbors looked with their spotlight. Nothing.

Each time Alec came back he counted puppies- 6 puppies each time.

Finally whatever it was left, or the dogs plumb wore out and it was quiet.

Next morning Alec came to me over at the barn. "Mom- we're missing 2 puppies".

His puppies. Stoic, serious Alec, Keeper of the Tail-Wagging Horde- now smaller by a third- was still obviously crushed and sick with sadness.

We looked. We searched all the places the puppies play and sleep and hide. Nothing.

I was more than a little sick myself, remembering that very day all the puppies had followed Wendy to the edge of the woods, near the pond. Secretly, I had Joe go check the pond for puppies who'd maybe gotten stuck in the mud, or wandered in too far...Nothing.

I'd been waiting for the weather to break at least enough for the thermometer to read below 100 and Sunday it did- we snagged all four pups and set them up in a pen in Alec's room. I'd been toying with putting them down by the barn- moving some goats around to give them a stall and attached paddock to run in, but the thought that something was out there that eats...puppies was not conducive to making that any sort of a good idea.

So Alec tried not to think of the grisly ending of the puppies- the 2 shyest of the litter, we figured when "whatever" pounced, they froze instead of ran.

Black Saturday.

Imprisonment Sunday.




Wednesday night after feeding we were in the dining room and heard a puppy. Now all our windows are open and the house is odd shaped and the ceilings are vaulted and everything seems to bounce off the trees outside but still... didn't seem to be coming from INside.

Alec bolted out the door and returned a few seconds later

with a puppy.

The smallest of the litter, hungry and a little dusty, but tail wagging to beat the band, Wendy next to her, smiling.

Alec fed her and reunited her with her siblings and she settled down for a long nap.

Twenty minutes later we were in the dining room and heard a puppy.

Alec was out the door faster than the speed of light and returned a few seconds later

with the other puppy.

While Alec literally reveled in a pile of 100% accounted for puppies I sat on the porch and stroked Wendy's velvet ears. I can look her in the eyes now while petting her- she's seemed to beat back whatever devils made her crazy. I apologized for snatching her babies, told her that she was the BEST mother in the world, but now we'd keep her puppies safe and she could relax. Her eyes softened, melted, understood.

She sighed and wagged her tail.

Where the HELL were the puppies???

We'll never know. Best I can guess is that whenever they all scattered out from under the house those 2- the shyest 2- were so scared, so physically and mentally petrified that it took several days of Wendy nursing them, tending them, guarding them, before they felt brave enough to follow her back home.

And they came one at a time, meaning they were in two separate hiding places.

Four nights somewhere away from the houses, in the woods where the coyotes howl in packs of more than a dozen, bobcats saunter, hawks and owls peer down and the occasional cougar strolls through with only their 25 pound floppy-eared mother between them and becoming part of the food chain.

Rick Perry be damned. We know the REAL Texas Miracle.

Her name is Wendy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


There's something about a new house.

I've been in a fair number of new construction homes and it's exciting and a little daunting to step over the threshold of a structure, a house- that wasn't there just a few months ago. There's a "new house smell" just like "new car smell" that can't be replicated, no matter what the package with the thing you hang from your rear view mirror says.

And everything's so CLEAN- the walls are literal blank canvases. There may already be photos and paintings and prints hanging from new nails, but the REAL signs of life are still missing- the fingerprints, the smudge where the dirty tennis ball bounced off, the oddly fuzzy and amoebic shape where the dog licked...something.

Carpeting? Spotless.

Tile floors? Stainless.

Windows? Clean and nose-print-free. On BOTH sides.

Walking into a new home is like walking into church (I still remember church, shut up). It requires quiet respectful reverence and strict attention to whatever might be clinging to the bottom of your shoes.

Clean shoe bottoms.



Ahhh...that last one. A new home (or maybe that's the new owner) screams "Welcome to our new home. Don't touch! Be careful! Acccck!"

Which is something I reflected on watching a dear friend's new home go up via photos.

The house is spectacular- really beautiful. Softly muted brick exterior, elegantly appointed interior, every detail picked with care and taste and I can feel a quiet welcome from miles away.

But I'd still check the bottoms of my shoes and my son's (generally grubby) hands before entering, still refrain from touching...anything.

Even though I know we're welcome and our friends are not freaky-clean there's still the urge to not...leave a trail of debris, or clutter, or DNA...

Then there's our house.

We built it last fall and moved in January 4th of this year. 'Round about the 10th, the insulators came to tuck in Joe's cabin, right next to our house. Joe wasn't there yet, so the workman came to our door.

When I got to the door he wasn't looking for me anymore.

He was touching the logs- gently, like they were covered with dandelion fluff instead of bark.

He looked up when I opened the door, back at the logs, then to the cedar boughs touching the porch roof, then back at me.

"Maam, your home is beautiful". I thanked him.

"This ol' house has been here a LONG time, ain't it?" I chuckled and told him that 90 days prior, this was an empty clearing.

Inside is no different-

I've been asked "Where did you find this paneling?" about the logs that form the cross-walls, the same logs as are outside...inside.

The other interior walls beg to be stroked- knotty aspen and pine unvarnished and unstained glow with a soft clear satin sealer.

Kitchen counter tiles, glass shower walls, rock shower floors and fireplace, marble hearth and tin wood stove backings- all demand tactile attention.

Although I appreciate a cursory shoe-check of visitors, and we routinely never wear shoes in the house (or outside much for that matter), the fact that our entire floor is natural cement finished with garage floor sealer brings the "spotless new vulnerable flooring" fears down about 200%.

The greatest compliment I received was someone who saw photos of our place and said it looked like it had just sprouted and grown there- and that was straight after the construction crews left and in the middle of winter- before even the goatweed had had time to grow back in the packed dirt around the porches.

I just realized I haven't shared a recipe with ya'll for a while, so here's one I tossed together last night to go with our own eggs and some breakfast chops.

I wasn't intending to bake the hash browns, but realized that to fry them I needed 3 fry pans (eggs, chops, hash browns) and I have 2.

Like our house (See? It all ties together...) it's nothing fancy, but it's mostly natural, and completely comfortable and unassuming.

Mama Dixon's Oven Hash Browns

1/2 a bag of frozen plain (generic) shredded potatoes (15oz total for recipe)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter a medium sized (about 8 X 12 or a tad smaller) baking dish.

Mix together shredded potatoes, sour cream, milk and cheddar cheese and spoon into pan.

Toast bread and crumble into dried bread crumbs- toss in a bit of melted butter to coat. Sprinkle on top of the potato mixture.

Bake for about 30 minutes till bubbly and tasty-looking.

Serves 4 very hungry people with almost 1/2 leftover.