photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Bitey Update

You remember The Biteys.

Little half chihuahua/half wolverbeast puppies that someone so kindly dumped in front of our house with the rest of their trash?

Wild as March Hares, all (baby) teeth and snarls, they were about 4 weeks old when Alec found them under our old barn.

They were not to be toyed with.

After about a week, I was able to feed them out of my hand, but NOT pick them up.

After about 2 weeks, they discovered...Edna's house.

Edna adamantly stressed that she is 92 years old and just too old for a dog, much less 2 dogs, much less puppies.

The Biteys wagged their tails and blinked their little button eyes and that was that. They trotted up the ramp, into her house, onto a blanket she laid on the floor for them and never looked back at the barn.

Edna and the Biteys have come to an agreement-

Edna feeds the Biteys about 17 times a day, lets them sleep in her house every night (and for several naps during the day- she calls them in because "they've been playing all morning and are wore out- they need a nap")

In return, the Biteys are completely devoted to Edna.

They still don't like being picked up and held, but that's ok. Edna loves 'em anyway.

A few weeks ago I went to Edna's early in the morning, cornered the Biteys, crated 'em up and took them to the Vet's for vaccinations, worming, de-fleaing and spaying.

I told the staff "don't be fooled by their blinky eyes and their 5 pound bulk- use gloves".

When I picked them up later in the day, I told the Vet about the deer carcass they'd found and were bringing up to Edna's house one bone at a time.

He looked at me and said "I've just had to handle them- they didn't FIND the deer- they ran it down".

The Biteys go where they want, when they want (except for naptime and bedtime, then they have EDNA'S RULES). They get along with and play with all the other dogs and are happy to see human family members...just don't try to pick 'em up.

Me? After the trapping and drive to the Vet episode?

I'm pretty sure I'll never lay hands on 'em again.

I'm pretty sure I need to sleep with one eye open for the rest of my life.

Nothing concrete, understand- just the look in their eyes...

...their little blinky adorable vengeful puppy eyes...

The Biteys hiding in the weeds...waiting for their moment...waiting for their revenge...

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Invisible Woman

That's me.

And it's not political or sexual or anything of that nature, it's a cold hard fact.

Remember when public bathrooms had faucets that turned on manually? I do.

That was great.

Because now they all seem to have sensors- the magical black dots under where the water flows out that supposedly "see" your hands coming so they can turn the water on.

Those things.

They can't see me.

I take that back. They DON'T see me.

If they couldn't see me, that would be that.

Sometimes that seems to be the truth. Because they just don't turn on no matter how much I wave my hands in front of them- now close, now back a little bit, now quickly, now in slow motion, doing the Invisible Woman dance in front of the mute and waterless faucets.

If I'm very lucky, there is hand sanitizer next to the soap for me to use in my invisible-osity and I leave the bathroom weighed down by my physical nothingness.


I approach the faucets and make a preliminary cursory half-assed feint at it.

*and the water turns on*

Bubbling over with the joy of victory, I wet my hands and apply soap liberally, then work up a good lather (like the little signs on the wall tell me to).

The faucet turns off while I do that- the very essence of water-saving austerity.

Very serious stuff, very grown-up, adult sort of stuff for a faucet I think to myself while my hands become a veritable mound of suds.


I wave my soapy hands under the faucet. Nothing.

I bobble my sudsy digits back and forth in front of the faucet. Nothing.

I pound on the very faucet itself in frustration. I swear I can hear it giggling.

I should note here that the only places this particular scenario plays out are the bathrooms that do NOT offer any type of paper products except of the toilet paper variety.

Perhaps you've tried drying anything other than your nether regions with toilet paper- it ain't pretty and it ain't effective.

Leaving me with hands full of soap and no way to dry them except under the automatic hand dryer.

Which doesn't work because soap does not air dry. That's why you rinse it off.

When you can get the damn faucet to work.


Any number of other people- adults, children, large, small...all nonchalantly stroll up to the faucets on either side of me and the faucets turn on. Then off. Then on again.

In desperation, I've lunged at the water as soon as the previous washer walks away.

If I'm First Rinse, it generally stays on.

If I'm Soaped Up, nothing short of a sledgehammer uppercut would elicit so much as a drop.

So there I am, soapy hands, cursing, staring back at my reflection in the mirror.


If I have a reflection, I can't be invisible.


Friday, March 23, 2012

One More Shot

I own a gun. Actually I own two guns. I'm not a gun nut, nor do I love my guns anymore than I love my hammer or blender. They're tools.

When I got them, I learned how to use them with passable accuracy and total safety.

I do not enjoy shooting at targets for fun. I do not enjoy the noise involved.

When a chicken snake needs dispatched, I can do it.

If I'm around when something is trying to kill my livestock, I can stop it.

I'd never used one on something I knew personally.

Until today.

We had a bad experience with stray dogs getting into our nanny goat pen a few weeks before everyone was due to have babies. We were gone, the guard dogs were on the other side of the property for just a few minutes and the electric fence wasn't plugged in. It only took a minute, but that's all they needed.

We lost one adult nanny, 2 others had their ears shredded and 2 had their babies very prematurely. The elder of those was an experienced mother and has thus far been raising her babies admirably. The other was a first-timer and didn't have a clue, especially under stress. She had twins. One died that day and the other one I started bottle feeding.

From the first, he looked poorly. His eyes were milky with cataracts, but he ate heartily.

After a few weeks the eyes started to clear and we became hopeful of his full recovery and future progress.

One day last week he couldn't get up. I thought perhaps he'd been stepped on inadvertently and crossed my fingers. He didn't get up.

A few days ago the vet came out for something else and he looked at the little goat- still down. He thought MAYBE infection or vitamin deficiency and left me with a long-acting antibiotic and a few days' worth of injectable vitamins. If those things didn't work- and if they were going to work it would be almost immediate- the likelihood was organ failure from being a preemie.

He didn't get better.

He got progressively worse and this morning he not only wasn't standing, but he was also grinding his teeth- in "goat" that means "I'm hurting very bad constantly and this is the only outlet I have for the pain".

When I went out at lunchtime I had 2 things- a bottle and my gun.

Baby goat drank most of the bottle between teeth grindings and I laid him in the sun a good ways from the barn so as not to upset the other animals. I told him he was a very strong brave goat and that we both tried our best. He hadn't liked the antibiotic and vitamin injections- I'm sure they stung like a son of a bitch.

I'd fed him 3 times a day for a month and I'm the Queen of the Earth Mothers. This was my baby. Not to mention there's nothing in the world as cute as a baby goat.

My clinically trained brain went over it one more time objectively as he blinked at me, grinding his teeth, unable to even straighten his legs- if this was just any goat coming into our clinic I knew the answer- he was not going to get better. My only other options were

a) keep feeding him till he died a painful wasting organ-failure death

b) take him into the clinic where he'd never been and full of strange smells and people and hold him down struggling while they found a vein for the final injection

I sighed, told him again that he's a good goat- just one more shot and he wouldn't hurt anymore.

And he didn't. It was instant- not a twitch or a whimper.

Guns are tools. They're not toys. They're not status symbols.They're not video game controllers. They're not penis extensions.

When you point one at something and it goes "bang", whatever you are pointing at gets dead.

Dead is irreversible.

I own 2 guns. They're the tools I hate the most.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

To Hell With the Goose- the Gander Needs His Viagra

So some folks think it's a good idea to allow employers- any employers, not just religious institutions- the freedom to ASK their female employees who request prescription coverage for hormones (also known as "the Pill")exactly what they intend to use those hormones for, and if it is, in fact contraception to be allowed to deny coverage because of an employer's real or imagined religious or moral beliefs (also known as "just not wanting to pay for shit").

This is in addition to the "humiliation via probe and ultrasound" bills already in play for any woman seeking a (still legal- sorry) abortion.

Aside from that first paragraph being a hella run-on sentence, all of the above makes me all kind of squidgy for all sorts of reasons.

And I'm not alone.

There are a number of matching tit for tat bills in the works requiring men who want Viagra or Cialis to watch graphic videos of the unfortunate side effects, or to have a digital prostate exam, or undergo cardiac stress tests.

Which is not as (totally) spiteful as it seems- other than the obvious "I want the blue pill as seen on TV and I don't care about the side effects" most guys think, I believe a little "lookit what could happen, Ace" would be a good idea. It would at least stop 'em (hopefully) from thinking "If 1 is good, 3 will be kick-ass!" and landing themselves in the emergency room. As for the prostate/heart exams- yep- both good ideas before chemically stressing the systems involved.

(I personally think that a written report from a man's wife to the effect that no, he really can't get it up along with dates and measurements is in order. If the man isn't married, it's an automatic NO- cuz that would be immoral).

So actually, a little more care and prudence is MORE warranted for guys wanting to get their Viagra on than a woman who frivolously wants her cystic ovaries to stop causing her intense pain or her monthly visitor to stop making her pass out from anemia.

Women are so shallow...

In addition to the above cautions for the menfolk, here's what I think.

I think that if employers are religiously and/or morally against hormones for contraception and against any abortion for any reason they must therefore be super pro-baby and pro-motherhood.

That's great! Because one of the most expensive types of health care coverage is maternity, and one of the biggest stressors on a new mother is maternity leave.

So obviously, those same employers who will deny hormonal contraceptives and abortions will be happily paying 100% of all OBGYN visits, pre-natal visits, the entire hospitalization (vaginal AND c-section deliveries), will be thrilled to pay at least 6 months full maternity leave AND will be offering no-charge in-office child care.

Wait. What?

That hasn't even come up?

Because they're too busy spinning the entire thing to make women look like party animal slutty prostitutes if they need to be on the Pill while insisting that the need for ED drugs is "a physical condition"?

Because the pastors in church are actually saying that contraception is BAD because it's denying the natural order of things (i.e. producing more church members) but Viagra is GOOD because it allows men to (see above about producing more church members)? Never mind that men can, in fact, ejaculate without having an erection- that's "science" and has no place in church.

So women are not allowed to have abortions, or at the very least must undergo humiliation and pain OTHER than what they've already been through to make that decision and will go through the rest of their lives. Gotcha.

Women may not have privacy in the workplace but must announce that they need hormonal medications to THEIR BOSS- whose business that is exactly ZERO percent. Outstanding.

Viagra and Cialis? Covered under most plans, no problem even though that shit is about a gazillion times more expensive than any hormone out there. Perfectly reasonable.

And yet most plans do NOT cover maternity care and haven't for years. One of those "only good business/nothing personal" decisions.

But no one is trying to control women through a dominant patriarchal forcible submission attitude permeating all of society while simultaneously feigning respect for the fairer sex.

Because this is America, and that would be wrong.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When I Think of Mother Nature, She Looks Like a Collie

Someone passed along one of those photos of a big dog with his head on a sleeping baby. You know the one- the baby is smiling in her sleep and the dog has that soft tender look in his eyes.

Those always make me think of Slippers.

Slippers was a white collie- there are actually white collies and they are gorgeous. I'd always wanted one and when I finally got the chance to get one I snatched her up and brought her home.

She was a little confused about housebreaking at first and I hadn't thought of a good name for her till the day my husband hollered, "If that damn puppy pisses in the house one more time I'm gonna make a pair of slippers out of it!"

It wasn't long before push came to shove and one of them had to go.

I didn't miss him a bit.

Slippers was one of those dogs who was everyone's mother. Not just puppies, but humans, kittens, squirrels, guinea pigs, birds...all her children and she loved them all fiercely and equally.

The squirrels were the only ones who took actual offense at the attention- she'd hold them down gently and wash them nose to toes till their fur stood up in spikes. They'd chatter and curse and glare at her and she'd pay absolutely no never mind but continue bathing them with love and slobber.

Working in the veterinary field I constantly tell people dogs bite. No matter how gentle, if hurt or scared dogs bite because they're...dogs. Slippers was the only dog I've ever trusted to never bite, ever. A child could be bouncing on her back wearing spurs and poking her in the eyes and she wouldn't bite. I'm sure of it.

Our son Alec was born at home with a midwife in attendance.

After the delivery, we brought the dogs into the bedroom for introductions. Spooj and Tiny Ramon were interested in a polite sort of way- like we were showing them a slideshow of our vacation.

Slippers' eyes completely glazed over. A fresh. Brand new. Human baby.

She proceeded to sniff him ever so thoroughly nose to toes and back again, then turned on her heels and poked that long collie nose under the bed, beneath the dresser, behind the door...repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Ward asked, "What in the world is she doing?"

It took me a minute, then the maternal lightbulb came on and I started to laugh.

"She's looking for the rest of the litter. What kind of loser only has ONE baby?"

Slippers and my son Dave

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Smoke, Mirrors and a Little Thing Called "War"

Yanno what makes me twitchy?

Well, that noise that sounds like the well pump running even though nothing has been turned on, left on or flushed and that keeps you awake till you get up to check all faucets and toilets only to realize it's the sound of the ceiling fan bouncing off the walls weird- THAT makes me twitchy.

But in addition to that.

People who don't understand the difference between "what someone said" as opposed to "what someone SAID someone said".

For example- there IS NO "War on Christianity" here in the US. There is a movement to get BACK TO separation of church and state, something that was melded together just recently- back in the '50's, as a way of differentiating us from the Godless Commies in Mother Russia. No one is saying burn the churches, shred the bibles, feed the Christians to the wolverbeasts. There IS a history of persecution in other countries that continues to this day and is horrifying and WRONG. But to say Christians in this country are being "persecuted" because they're being asked to take the Nativity Scene off the courthouse lawn and truck it to the church yard ACROSS THE STREET is not persecution and actually belittles and demeans those who are actually, yanno, getting killed and whatnot for their beliefs.

For example- there IS a "War on Women". From trying to roll back Roe v. Wade to defunding Planned Parenthood to slashing social safety net programs that are very important to a huge amount of women, the current "far right" trend is to take women back a few generations and put 'em in their place. I know this to be true not because I read it somewhere or got an alarming email with sketchy references that can be fact-checked in about 5 minutes to prove totally bogus, but because I'm watching politicians on TV utter words out of their mouths that tell me so. They want this. They want this so badly that they are putting forth all sorts of laws with the sole purpose of humiliating and demeaning women who they feel are not worthy of their respect (in a lot of cases that would be the entire gender). For the most part these laws never get passed, but who the hell offers up a law for a vote if they don't WANT it passed?

For example- there IS NO "War on the 2nd Amendment" by our current president. I looked this morning- really searched YouTube. Typed in "Obama on gun control" and got several hundred thousand videos but yanno what? 99% of them are scary music and floating "quotes" and "figures" drifting past a photo of Obama wearing his Scary Kenyan Muslim Face. I wanted to hear the words out of his mouth saying "Guns are bad, mmmkay?" All I could come up with was about 45 seconds of him stating that he supports the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans and he supports STATES RIGHTS to limit them as they feel necessary. (small aside- isn't STATES RIGHTS what the majority of the Small Government/Big Gun crowd wants???) Not nationally. Not a widespread weapons grab. He rated an "F" from the Brady Institute for crying out loud because among other things after Gabby Giffords got shot he did NOT call for the banning of handguns.
If the rabid "anti-Obama" crew can't come up with one stretch of video supporting their views, I will assume it ain't there. Just to double check, I looked here and got this-
because I haven't spent years steeped in the Gun Culture, as opposed to being raised up a Christian in America or being born a woman.

For example, there IS a "Class War" going on. The brilliance is that the way it's being spun is that "They" (the women, minorities, illegals and crack ho's) are after "Our" stuff and money. Lemme just put it this way- if you sit down and pay your own bills and if you ever once ask "How much does that cost?" you are NOT the 1%. No one is after your stuff and money. Except the actual 1%. Nifty, huh?

You get the idea. I try to always verify the truth to any claim from any side and the best way to do that is to hear the words coming from the party (no pun intended) in question regarding the topic at hand.

I do not agree with all the words that I have heard come from the mouth of our current president, but I do not believe he is the anti-christ or a Kenyan Muslim groomed and put into place to ensure "death to America".

The words I AM hearing from the current slate of GOP contenders' mouths continue to scare the crap outta me, especially when they're accompanied by cheers from the audience.

Have we really devolved to the point where it's OK for women to die rather than receive medical care they need but be forced to have medical procedures the AMA says are totally unnecessary just because we want to humiliate them? How much of a witch-hunt is charging a woman with murder if she has a miscarriage? These are real bills that are really being voted on, along with the promise of "privatizing" our social safety nets to be "fiscally responsible".

Has anyone else noticed that the rapidly-spreading grassfire rhetoric on the Wars on God and Guns seem to be having the gasoline of self-righteousness and division and suspicion poured on them as an effort to divert us away from the stuff that IS being taken from us boldly and right in front of God and our open-carry sidearms?

Trash the EPA- no safe food, water or air for US but damn the jobs created will be sweet and high paying. Of course you'll have to retire early because of health problems. Sorry. No health care for you.

Don't regulate the banks and corporations- they're the Job Creators. Seriously. This time we won't yank the football out of the way while you're kicking, Charlie Brown.

There's only one War going on, and it's fixin' to be fought, as always, by the people who didn't want it, aren't in charge of it, and who only have a vague idea of who the enemy is and why they have to be defeated.

When all the smoke has cleared, and the country and all the money is safe in the hands of those people-corporations who egged us into battle we won't have any food, water, clean air, health care, education, rights as human beings (unless we're middle aged filthy rich white guys), money, jobs or dignity.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Share the Sacrifice

My fingers are paralyzed.

Sometimes writers get blocked- that awful feeling that there's nothing to write about- nothing worth using up cyber ink and paper for. Nothing, nowhere, nohow.

What's the opposite of that?

There's so much going on in my life, my family, my country, my world- things glorious and gruesome, too good to be true and unfuckingbelievable that it all gets jammed up in my brain and won't/can't come out in a way that makes any damn sense at all.

A good deal of what I've been dealing with is our personal finances, which is, I'm sure, completely fascinating for anyone else.

But here's the thing.

We're not alone.

Reading the news every day there are more people making hard choices and considering things they never thought they would have to. Not just brand name vs. generic or a one week vacation close to home vs. two weeks on the Rivera.

Things like not paying bills. On purpose.

Some are unemployed through no fault of their own, some underwater in their mortgages through no fault of their own and some knocked off the rickety bridge of "paycheck to paycheck" by a sudden illness or other Life Event and straight into Shit Creek Without Canoe OR Paddle.

So here ya go.

We had that unfortunate incident wherein the buyers of our old house disappeared after trashing it (also known as No Good Deed Goes Unpunished).

Our credit was already sketchy from a decade on the cancer/heart disease/diabetes train.

We can't afford 2 house payments, nor can we afford to fix the old house up enough for anyone else to want it. It is now worth approximately half of its appraised value and about $40,000 less than what we owe on it.

I called the bank holding the note to the old house and told them we needed to just let it go and why- they are supposed to get back to me to do a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" which means that we'll be in credit rating hell for 5 years instead of 7 years.

I called the bank holding the note to THIS house and she said we'll just have to ride it out- as long as we pay THEM on time they're still happy to be our bank...just don't ask for a loan re-write until our financial punishment is over.

Which sucks because it's an adjustable rate mortgage- the only thing we could get while still having the other house in our name, and we needed to move when we did- in the old house Ward suffered infection after infection literally non-stop. Our dear old house wasn't a danger to me or Alec or to most people, but was actually life-threatening to Ward. Since moving into this house- carefully planned with no carpets, no formaldehyde, no particle board and no drywall Ward hasn't had a single infection since the day we moved in over a year ago.

So it's all worth it. Absolutely and Amen.

The PLAN was for the buyers of the other house to make our payments on it till they could sell THEIR old house and get them a loan of their own to pay off that house and then our bank would re-write our new house to a fixed rate...before the first adjustment in 4 years (now 3 years).

*As an added pointy stick in yer eye bonus- remember the folks who disappeared on us are suffering NO consequences. NONE. Their credit is totally unaffected. *Ow*. Make it stop.

So I'm grimly positioning ourselves as though we're entering bankruptcy- making damn sure we have...

Shelter- check.

We've been a 1 car family for over 2 years. Ward's truck, Flaming Paul, needs work and even when running gets about 100ft per gallon, so it's been parked.

Lunablu, our trusty '05 Mazda Tribute, has been a wonder and a joy- never given us a moment's trouble in the 6 years we've had her. She's also still not paid for since we used her as equity to pay...medical bills. She's got 174,000+ miles on her and as good as she is, I know it's only a matter of time before the BIG things start going wrong.

So we went car shopping and were able to acquire Stellaluna- an '11 Tribute still new off the lot- there were dealer incentives cuz she's a year old, and they gave us an extended extended warranty- 72 months/120,000 miles instead of the usual maximum of 60 months/100,000 miles. (ElDorado Mazda in McKinney- see Doug)

Therefore we have 1 very-well covered new vehicle for the duration of our purgatory as well as a damn good backup car for Ward and Alec to use...

Transportation- check.

Those are the 2 biggies. Shelter and Transportation. Everything else is details.

And we hate it and it frustrates us and it makes us crazy and sad and more than a little ashamed.

The fact that there are articles and writings not just on "fringe" sites, but in the mainstream news about walking away from debt is remarkable, but doesn't make us feel much better.

When they point out that it makes sense, to not look at it from an emotional standpoint but from a "strictly business" standpoint- if something (like the old house) will never recoup its value and we would be paying well over 28 more years (because we took out the equity in THAT...for medical bills)for a house we no longer live in and will never sell for even what we owe on it- that it makes cold hard business SENSE to say to the bank "Sorry- we're walking away because any way we crunch the numbers this is a losing prospect...nothing personal".

Well, that's a new way of looking at it.

In a financial climate where businesses are saying every day "We're cutting your health coverage and laying off people- nothing personal" and banks are saying "We just can't accept a credit score of under 10,000 anymore and we're charging new fees and rates for old services...nothing personal", in a strange and perverse way it's empowering to turn the tables.

I was always told that your credit score is the most important thing to keep golden. But in this month's Consumer Reports there's an article explaining that there are 3 reporting agencies and their rating processes are mysterious and absolutely random.

All the services offering "see your credit score for free" will not even give you the same numbers as the bank will get when they request your credit score- you yourself as a private individual do not have access to the real numbers that determine life or death in the financial world.

So I guess the bottom line is that corporations make decisions that affect peoples' lives without regard for the individuals involved because it's "just good business sense". Banks make decisions that use a made-up number as their benchmark instead of the applicants' character, work history and length of time with them as customers because it's "just good business sense".

In this hard hard economy we've been told to get us back on track everyone must Share the Sacrifice.

We hereby sacrifice our old house to the bank. What happened was not our fault- we did our best to get good buyers in there and I had to get Ward safe first and foremost. We have crunched the numbers and are pragmatically positioned to weather the financial storm and it's just good business sense to cut our losses, hunker down and then move on.

We're not deadbeats. We didn't live beyond our means.

We're us. We're you.

It used to be so easy to know right from wrong, point fingers at those who made bad decisions and wrong choices. Now I'd never ever presume to judge anyone because unless I'm inside their head and their life I have no way of knowing anything about them.

My fingers are paralyzed.

Not really from writers' block or lack of ability to form sentences but from embarrassment and sadness.

But it felt better to share it.

Share the sacrifice.

Puts a whole nuther spin on that phrase...