photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hallmark Didn't Have One That Said This...

"You are my knight in shining armor"
I've always said-
Every card I give you says that
And has for the last 18 years.

Eighteen years ago you saved me
You rode to my rescue
In spite of your own injuries
That were every bit as horrible
As my own

I saw you for real
And in my mind's eye
Young and strong
Because even wounded
We were both still
Young and strong

Here's what I now know
Looking back on our life

Any young fool can ride in
Charging steed
Shiny new armor
Unmarred and clean

And be brave

When the knight has been mutilated
His horse crippled
His armor dented and burnt
From years of battles

And he fights pain and weariness
Every single day

But he gets up and
Keeps going every single day

Facing the same dragon
Over and over again

For ME
For our Boy
Our Family

That's courage.

Happy Birthday, Gomez
You are much more than my knight
You're my hero

I love you more today than I did yesterday
More than I did 18 years ago
But not as much as I will

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beauty Through the Decades

I hate mornings in Houston.

Mostly because we're not at home where the only sounds are the birds, the wind in the trees, and the Biteys barking every leaf into place on the entire 12 acres of forest.

Also because if we're waking up in Houston, that means a day at the cancer hospital, and that's always a thrill. Or a royal pain in the ass. I get those two mixed up sometimes...must be why I stayed married to my two ex-husbands for so long.

But here's what I really hate- when in Houston, the only morning TV unless we want to watch Cartoon Network (and all the good cartoons are only on at night) are the perky, helpful, trendy, ridiculous morning shows.

So we were watching one of the morning shows.

And one segment was "Beauty Through the Decades".

For women, of course.

There was a really long table set up with all sorts of crap that we need in order to be beautiful. Arranged by decade from the 20's through the 60's.

The 20's and 30's were an assortment of makeups- eye shadows, eye liners, concealers, foundations, blush, lip color, lip liner, mascara, brow pencils, bronzers, shimmerers, you name it, it was there- all colors and shades, all types and kinds.

All absolute requirements in order to be beautiful.

Here's where it gets weird.

Every decade after that? 40's, 50's, 60's?

No makeup.

No colors.

No shades.

The entire rest of a woman's life is supposedly dedicated to wrinkle creams and hair colors.


Apparently, once we hit 40, the whole 'beauty' thing is behind us, and our main goal in life is to just make sure we're as un-wrinkly and un-gray as possible.

In order to be not horrifyingly disgusting and make people throw up just at the sight of us.

Here's the thing.

In my 20's and 30's I did wear makeup. Never foundation though- it always felt like something suffocating my face. But I did the whole concealer, blush, mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, lipstick thing. And finished it off with compact powder.

When I hit 40, I started having trouble seeing to apply my makeup. So I said, "Screw it" and stopped using it. The only thing I use now is mascara. Only on the upper lashes. I can still do that without skewering my eyeballs with it.

I was afraid that if I stopped wearing makeup my skin would be blotchy and horrid looking and my eyes would disappear behind my glasses. Oddly enough, after being liberated from the stuff that had been smeared on it, my skin evened out on its own and tans in the summer. My eyelids have an actual color and my under-eye area isn't as dark as it was when I was rubbing it with concealer every morning.

Weird, huh?

In my 40's I developed an allergy to any face cleanser- any brand. So I started using my own homemade soap- goats milk (yes, from our goats), olive oil and just enough lye to make it soap instead of an amorphous gelatinous blob. And aloe vera cream as a moisturizer.

That's it. My entire beauty routine.

I did ask the people I live with if I looked OK without all that mess.

Here's the funny part.

The people I live with said I'm beautiful with makeup or without makeup. On accounta they love me.

Some women adore makeup and enjoy wearing it and that's great- if they're doing it for themselves.

But to be schooled on what products we NEED to use to 'be beautiful' by some chicks on the TV?

And then to be literally discarded after age 40 with a "You're not beautiful anymore so don't even try- just make an effort to not be totally old and gross looking, m-kay?"

That's bullshit of the highest order.

And I've seen some mighty high quality bullshit in my day.

See husbands one and two as Exhibits A and B.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

GOP's America- Worst. Family. Ever.

So the whole "WE NEED TO DECIDE ON THIS NOW OR THE WORLD WILL END" debt ceiling issue has been decided in a predictable American Guy fashion- we're gonna ignore it till May.

The "due upon receipt" invoices the GOP have been screaming about have been looked at, read, worried over and stressed about till the only sensible thing to do has been to stuff them under the rest of the mail and worry about it later.

Which is totally weird on accounta when the Democrats said, "Hey, guys- the debt ceiling is really something that can wait- maybe we need to talk about other things first- things that are actually, yanno- KILLING people" the Democrats were called all sorts of horrible names and told that they were Traitorous Amer'ca Hatin' Poopieheads.

Because the debt ceiling needed fixed RIGHT NOW. NOW! NOW!

Or May. Whatever.

I know I'm early (or late) in talking about this but here's what I think of the whole "What if the national budget were a family budget? SEE??? Totally irresponsible unless you're a Commie Government Leech Democrat Welfare Momma!" argument when it comes to balancing our federal budget.

First of all, the federal budget isn't at ALL like a family budget. Mainly because the money owed on it is ourselves.

So, if my family had had say $100,000 in the bank and wanted to build an $80,000 house, we could conceivably take that money out and promise ourselves we'd pay it back ASAP since that's our retirement savings and all. *Note- this is for hypothetical purposes only- what we have in the bank couldn't build a bird house. For little birds. Like wrens and shit.

After our house was built, say we had other stuff come up- a job loss or big medical expense or something and we just haven't had the chance to pay any of this money back into the account.

Do we evict ourselves?

Of course not.

Even IF the reason our expenses are higher than expected living in the new house and we decide, "Hey- this wasn't such a good idea- it's too big of a house and we need to downsize" in the meantime what do we cut back on?

We sit down and look at the budget and think 2 things-

We need more income AND we need to cut back.

So, being the family member who is able to provide more if I need to, I look for a part-time job to augment the budget because (according to economists of all stripes- not just squishy liberal ones) you CANNOT cut your way to savings- you must also have additional income.

Then we look at spending.

Lets look at the GOP "government budget/family budget" thing and see what it does in real life and for really what they're asking for demanding like a buncha self-righteous bastards-

Cuts to 'entitlements' which is that whole social safety net thing they hate so much. Veterans? Old people? Children? Women? Sick people? Fuck 'em. Bootstraps, baby- nothing but bootstraps for you.

In a family budget that translates into groceries, doctor visits, school expenses and medicines.

Our Family First GOP is telling America, "Too bad, so sad- we need to cut expenses and cut 'em deep to pay back money that we borrowed from ourselves. No hard feelers, remember if you believe in god, you'll go to heaven and never be hungry or sick again, and if you hurt too much now, you have access to any gun you want to blow your sorry brains out (and maybe your children's too IF you love them).

What the bloody hell?

Who tells their family they must be hungry and sick and uneducated because there was a clerical miscalculation when there's no bill collector at the door with a baseball bat waiting to break your kneecaps but it's just your own damn bank account that's not being paid back?

Self-righteous bastards, that's who.

So I would get a part-time job to increase income and then look at truly expendable expenses- things like maybe cancelling an expensive security system because we're out in the middle of nowhere and we have big dogs patrolling the place that do just fine, and maybe if we went to church we'd cut back on our tithing...

...because for some reason I think Jesus would say, "FEED YER KIDS BEFORE PUTTING MONEY IN THE COLLECTION PLATE".

So as a nation, perhaps we need to look getting the citizens who have the ability to pay more into the kitty to actually do that, then at military spending and probably re-thinking the tax-exempt status of churches.

Just by tweaking those three items in our nation's Family Budget, we could have enough money to feed everyone, offer universal health care and free or low-cost college for all our students.

Because if you're going to use the national budget/family budget analogy, you are automatically projecting that we as a nation = a family. Family cares for each other- even those who don't think like you do politically, even the ones who need a little extra help from time to time.

If it's found out that you are denying your children and disabled and elderly family members food, clothing, and medical care because you are paying money back into your own freaking BANK ACCOUNT, Social Services comes in and you are proclaimed an unfit parent and piss-poor human being.

Why the hell can politicians and propaganda-fed constituents do the same things to fellow Americans and consider themselves exemplary fiscal conservatives?

I keep hearing, "Well? Do we wanna be the next Greece?" as if that's not only a question, but an answer. Greece and other countries are suffering not because they're NOT enacting 'austerity measures' but because they ARE.

Read more than one news source- we have the entirety of the world at our fingertips now- why paint yourself into a corner containing only people like yourself playing an endless game of 'repeat something long enough and it becomes true'?

Acknowledge that other American citizens are NOT your enemies- and don't have to GET OUT if they do or say something you don't like.

IF the National Budget = a Family Budget

THEN ALL American Citizens = Family

Start acting like it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Are You Sure the Dinosaurs Are Extinct At Night?

So there's this gate.

It's rusted and old, yet heavy as all get out and not warped, cracked or weak.

It was the gate the "For Sale" sign was attached to when I first saw the land we now call Home.

A full 16 ft long, it's not aluminum, but solid iron. Even attached to the tree-like post with hinge pins wider than my thumb, it would work itself loose by turning the hinge pins via sheer weight as it was opened and closed. At that point it would thunk to the ground as I was closing or opening it, jarring my shoulder almost out of its socket as well.

When we built the house, the gate had to come down and the opening in the fence widened to make way for the cement trucks and the log trucks. It was gently set aside for later.

Over on the barn side of the property, there was no gate- just a "cheater gate" made of barbed wire stretched across the opening. When we built the barn, we installed a brand new aluminum gate. It's light and shiny, and swings effortlessly and straight as an arrow.

When it was time to re-install a gate over on the house side, Joe offered to do it and he and the rest of my family begged me, implored me, wheedled and cajoled me to please, please, PLEASE, PLEASE put a twin to the barn gate up on the house side.

Absolutely not.

That gate is part of the farm's history- I'd no more discard that gate than burn down the 80 year old barn that's part wood, part sheet metal, perched on some cement blocks and some big rocks that somehow manages with slatted walls and colander-like roof to keep everything inside it dry. Even Edna holds a grudging respect for the old barn now. Mostly.

So Joe set to hanging the gate.

We set it in from the road so we can pull off to open it- the road is just over one lane wide and although a pretty straight stretch is to one side, the other side curves pretty sharp- it wouldn't take much of a bump from another vehicle to topple us into the creek...and there's a creek on both sides of the road.

There were old railroad ties left next to the old barn and he used one on each side as gate posts. So far, so good.

Because of the weight of the gate, I recommended a wheel be attached to the bottom to help hold it up and not let it pull the hinge pins over, like before.

So he got the wheel.

And found out that they don't MAKE wheels for heavy, square-cut gates. Only light tubular aluminum ones.

Yanno what? You really CAN'T fit a round thing onto a square thing very well.

The gate dragged because the wheel wouldn't turn correctly.

The worst spot was right in the center of the dirt drive where there was a giant root sticking up a few inches- the gate would have to be pulled (cha-CHUNK) over the root.

Blowing the root out of the ground was not a viable solution. Which gave Joe a sad.

Eventually the wheel was removed because it didn't work worth a damn and the gate hung pretty well all on its own. But then it REALLY dragged on the ground when opened and closed just from the weight and width of it and it would now have to be LIFTED over the root.

Finally, Joe pulled the entire shebang off and re-hung the gate...almost a foot higher than before. The gate swung free of the root at last.

I work till 9pm, making me the last one in the gate at night, so I'm out there fall, winter and early spring in the dark closing the gate.

I'd pull the gate shut, chain it and turn back to the car...tripping over the root. Every. Single. Time. Even with a flashlight.

I started calling it the Root of All Evil.

I'm not afraid of the dark. Really I'm not.

There's about 1,500 ft from our gate to our closest neighbor to the east...then another quarter mile in to his house. There's about 3,000 ft. to our closest neighbor to the west...then another quarter mile in to THEIR house.

Across the road from us is over 400 acres of bottomland and forest.

During the day, it's glorious. At night, it's still glorious except when the compies are out.

Remember in Jurassic Park? That guy with the glasses who ended up getting eaten by the cute little dinosaurs in the creek? I swear something at night (not frogs) sometimes makes the cute little noise those comprasauruses (0r whatever the hell they were) made.

Matters not that there's no way we even know what those little things sounded like. That's what they sounded like in the movie and that's the noise I hear at night sometimes and it freaks me the hell out. Because OUR house is over 1,000 ft from the gate.

Which makes it eminently easy to forget and trip over the Root of All Evil.

Most of the time now I'm able to close the gate with dignity, say "Hiya, Root" as I step OVER the Root of All Evil, and calmly get back into my car.

So Nature decided to up her game.

Monday night I got out of the car to close the gate, swung the gate closed, and almost tripped over...

...the ugliest possum I've ever seen.

And that's saying a lot.

On accounta they're absofuckinglutely the ugliest creatures on earth. And I think they know it. And don't care.

So he just looked at me, balefully, and kept walking. Never even tried to avoid me or acknowledge my clearly superior ranking on the food chain.

I hope the compies eat him.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Calling All Strict Constitutionalists

Yanno what makes me crazy?

Well, sure. Thinking I've got a piece of hair in my eye and trying to get it out by reaching under my glasses and not being able to find where it's tangled up in my eyelashes and then taking my glasses off to really get after it only to think, "HEY! That knocked it loose and it's gone now" but then putting my glasses on and SHIT it's there again and repeating the above steps all damn day till I realize that the offending hair is attached TO my glasses.

That makes me crazy.

But OTHER than that.

It makes me crazy to watch an inaugural ceremony for the president of the United States of America and have a huge portion of it revolving around god.

Thanking god for this wonderful country and the opportunity we've all got to make it better.

Asking god for guidance to make the above a reality.

Finally a big-ass prayer to god begging his mercy and his grace so that our country is no longer divided ideologically and can come together as one nation...under god of course.

Geez, I must really hate god, huh?

Nope. Not at all. And even if I did, that's absolutely beside the point.

It makes me crazy that the same people who scream and holler about their 2nd Amendment rights and who say it's not about the GUNS, it's about being strict and patriotic CONSTITUTIONALISTS, AND (because I'm not letting the other side off scott-free, either) those who were horrified that Bachmann or Santorum were even considered for the highest office of the land because (among other disturbing lack-of-leadership-ability things) they stated that they considered GOD above the Constitution when making decisions for the COUNTRY...

...all those people absolutely loved the freaking hell out of today's god-filled extravaganza inauguration.

Because this is just one more little nugget of proof that their argument is complete and total bullshit.

The United States of America is NOT a Christian nation, no matter how much anyone may want it to be.

Yes, the majority of people IN the United States are, in fact, Christian.

But we are NOT a Christian nation by order of our Constitution- in fact we are to have NO state religion according to that self same document.

A subtle but hella important difference.

So, to ME- silly old woman that I am- the President should NOT swear on a bible, there should be NO invocation by ANY religious leader, and there should be NO mention of any god whatsoever by our president or vice president AT THE INAUGURATION.

Beyonce can still sing the National Anthem though, she did a fabulous job.

If they wanna go to church afterwards (or before) for a prayer and a blessing?

Go for it.

But DURING the ceremony? Absolutely not.

Separation of Church and State.

Our forefathers thought that was important enough to make that "freedom of religion" thing part of the FIRST Amendment

Even before guns and shit.

And the whole "beseeching your guidance to bring our country together" thing?

That's part of the damn problem- asking the Christian god for help in bringing together a country that's divided by great chasms of theological differences is the opposite of helpful or uniting to the huge numbers of actual Americans who don't happen to worship him.

Oh, I know- President Obama has a hard enough time as it is with all the Muslim Kenyan bullshit and I'm sure he just wants to remind folks that he IS after all, a Christian and an American.

But yanno what? The idiots who believe he's a Kenyan Muslim won't believe today's efforts to prove otherwise.

I'm waiting to hear the "SEE??? See how hard he tried to look NORMAL??? That's PROOF he's a damn Muslim!" crap that's poised to blow out the interwebs like 10 pounds of cheese in a five pound dog after a generous dose of laxative.

Because here's what makes me craziest of all-

President Obama's mother was an American citizen. He'd be an American citizen if he'd been born on another planet.

And even if he WERE a Muslim? There's not a damn thing about that that would render him ineligible for office. Nothing.


But where are our strict Constitutionalist patriots?

Oh, I know.

They must be busy disassembling that also-illegal standing armed forces.

That must be it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rolling Back Dignity With a Smiley Face

So Walmart has pledged to hire 100,000 veterans in the next five years as a huge 'thank you' for their service to our country, and the heavens open up and the angels sing their praises.

So, 20,000 per year.

There are 4,707 Walmart/Sam's/etc. locations in the US, so that means that this stellar sainted move will employ at each store...

4 people per year.

Now, of course 'all' it will take is for the veteran to show up with his papers of honorable discharge...and for them to qualify for employment just like anyone else.


Those lucky 4 people per location will be tossed into the pool of 1,540,000 Walmart employees. I saw that number and thought, "Wow- that seems like a lot" and it is- over 300 per store. Of course all those 4,707 locations are not stores- there's distribution centers and truck drivers, and the main offices in Arkansas filled with pencil-pushers and all that as well. And the stores are more often than not open 24/7- that's 3 shifts of workers every day. So ya. I guess that's about right.

Also, over a third of Walmart employees are part time, so not eligible for benefits which I guess wouldn't be a problem for veterans in the VA system, but the Walmart press release says NOTHING about whether or not these jobs will be full or part time and the average rate of pay for a part-timer is about $8 per hour and a full time employee makes about $10 per hour, making over a quarter of Walmart employees nationwide eligible for food stamps...because what they make at Walmart even working full time is below the national poverty rate...which is despicable.

Old people like me think, "Hey! $10 is pretty good! When *I* started working the minimum wage was $3.65 and I was able to afford an apartment and a car and food".

Looking back, I remember the apartment was in a crappy part of town- gunfire was a frequent background noise, my car was a 10 year old VW bug and I ate just salad...a lot. Even my cat had to learn to like salad. And that was just iceberg lettuce and generic dressing.

But I digress.

Lets say our returning veteran has 2 kids and a spouse, and the spouse also works at Walmart. They are both lucky enough to be working full time.

Making a combined $20 per hour, they bring home $800 per week or $41,600 per year. That sounds pretty good, right?

Take off a third for taxes and their portion of what Walmart provides for insurance. Now we're down to $27,734.

Poverty level for a family of 4 in the US is $23,050 so our hypothetical family is skating above poverty level by about $90 per week. They're taking home $1,920 per month.

Can you hear the angels singing?

Now figure in things like
rent- if they're hella lucky they can get by with $500
car- lets say just one and give 'em a really low $250 payment
gas for that car (just one, remember) $100
utilities- electric/phone/water...again we'll go low and say $200
insurance on the car and their possessions? $150
food- 4 people? Very frugally $400 per month

Now if anything happens- anything at all- new tires for the car, something at the doctor or dentist not covered by insurance, clothes for work since they can't JUST wear the blue vest of shame, and school clothes and shoes for the kids, any type of daycare at all, anything...they have the princely sum of $73 per week to cover it.

They've put nothing into savings. They've not tithed their 10% to the Lord. We've not considered any other type of credit obligation or loans like student loans or big medical bills.

I haven't even touched on the crappy working conditions, hellacious expectations and the fact that over 70% of Walmart employees quit in the first year.

I read a comment about this that said something like, "I've worked at Walmart. Working at Walmart is just like being unemployed except you have to show up on time and your boss gives you shit all day".

Welcome home, Veterans- this is the way Walmart wants to thank you for your service.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just an Old Goat

We lost Alice yesterday.

She went down about a week ago- not on her side or in pain or even in distress, just with her legs under her like a big dog and decided she didn't want to get up again.

And if a 150 pound goat tells you she's fine right where she is, you just move the food and water and tuck a sleeping bag around her old bones.

Alice and Trixie were our 2nd attempt at goats down here in Texas. The first 2- China and Marigold- were run down and killed by dogs who dug under the fence one winter day while we were at work.

It took me 2 years to get Ward to agree to try again.

Goats are very personable.

So we got Alice and Trixie. Trixie died of bloat about 5 years ago.

Alice had a set of triplets every year...and raised them all. Usually one is smaller, weaker, and gets pushed out of the way by siblings and has to be bottle fed. Alice made sure everyone played nice.

One year Alice had her triplets in an ice storm- outside even though the barn was right...there. They all died. I thought we were going to lose Alice as well. She stopped eating, hung her head and just gave up.

About a week later, we had 2 other births- one nanny had triplets and decided she just wanted two. The other had twins and decided she just wanted one.

I took the two virtual orphans over to Alice and set them down beside her. Her head came up. She sniffed the babies. She licked the babies. And she started eating.

Alice was easy to milk and loved people- She posed with Alec for many photos and with sunglasses on for t-shirts advertising the little store I used to own-"Grinning Goat Gifts".

When Alice went down I tucked a sleeping bag around her- she was pretty moth-eaten and missing some of her hair, but I know how she feels- I'm old, too. I sat by her side and looked up "life span of Nubian Goats" on my phone.
8-10 years
8-12 years
10-12 years
Alice was 13 going on 14.

So we moved the water dish and food, kept her daughter Lucy in with her for company (Lucy is 11) and made sure she was always tucked in and brought her the kitchen scraps- apple peelings, bread heels, carrots...She ate them all.

She never cried out, never ground her teeth and never seemed distraught.

She just slowed down till she stopped.

I'll miss you, Alice- but can see you in your daughters Lucy and Becca and your son Lazarus- Alec's pet.

Till we meet again, old friend-

When we took our official portraits for work, I let my staff choose who I posed with- overwhelmingly they said "a duck and a goat". I'm so glad I chose Alice.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Answer Is No


The cure for violence is not more violence.

The answer to bad men with guns is not good men with guns.

Very few things are black or white.

People are not inanimate objects; numbers that can be added or subtracted and result in the same predictable solution. There are always gray areas.

I've been a victim of violence. I do not wish violence on the offender(s).

It's not a "turn the other cheek" thing. It's a humanity thing.

Revenge would solve nothing- and would make me a lesser human- because then *I* would be a violent human.

There was a mass shooting.

Why was the immediate response a huge run on the purchase of guns?

If you already had guns, why did you need more...NOW?

If you didn't have guns, why did you need any...NOW?

How did that make you safer?

How did that help the victims' families, other than a resounding slap in the face-

"This type of weapon just slaughtered your baby- I GOTTA GET ME ONE!!!"

I don't care what you say, or your alleged motivation- that is exactly what those families saw

-in the empty shelves of the gun stores

-in the rising prices on weapons and ammo

-in the 'gun appreciation' days and the raffles of that exact. same. weapon.

And they hear no apology from you that does not include a 'BUT'-

-We're sorry your child is dead BUT you can't blame the gun

-We're sorry that over 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every year BUT the 2nd Amendment is what keeps us safe and free (unless you're one of the 30,000 I guess)

-We're sorry that our fellow Americans who outnumber us don't agree with us BUT we want our guns, we've twisted the 2nd Amendment to agree with us, we've bought politicians and supreme court justices to agree with us and fuck the rest of you.

Our society is sick.

Our infatuation and devotion and worship of death are a symptom.

More of the same does not make a cure.

Guns don't kill people.

People kill people.

People with guns kill a lot of people easily and quickly.

The answer is no.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

...In Which I Attempt to Be Calm

*In the interest of productive discussion, I have promised to type this calmly, and without sarcasm or frustration. We'll see how that turns out*

Some points I'd like the anti-regulation folks to ponder, please- no "you don't need that kind of gun!" rhetoric from me- and I've NEVER said that, by the way. Ever.

I understand your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. But I'd also like you to understand that that's all it is- an interpretation. No one alive today was in the room when they wrote and signed it. Not even today's supreme court justices (no matter how old they look).

You cannot look for intent in the founders' private writings, because that's what they were- private opinion and even if that's personally how they thought, it was NOT what they wrote to be the guidelines for the new country. They looked at the bigger picture of an entire society, and they compromised.

So all we've got is a sentence. The founders knew grammar, they were very well-educated. In sentence structure, you have the most important part first, followed by an explanation or further description.

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

OK. First part- even the most adamant anti-regulation folks will admit that the people back in the day DID have their own guns, and were supplied BY THE GOVERNMENT with powder and such and trained together in order to not, yanno- shoot each other in the ass if a crisis arose requiring them to muster. (Oops- first sarcasm. Perhaps a cookie will help. Back in a sec...)

Now, in light of that- that we're talking about a trained militia, the second part where it says "people" is important. Because it does NOT say "the individual" and that IS important- so important that the 2008 Supreme Court interpretation CHANGES it to acknowledge that it does in fact, mean 'individual'.

But that's not what it says. And any strict constitutionalists will agree with that. Again, the founders were not stupid and were not scribbling this shit on the back of a cocktail napkin. (Shit. Maybe some cocoa...)

Now- "bear arms". Bearing arms means specifically one thing- to take up weapons against other humans with intent to kill. You don't bear arms against a bunny rabbit destined for dinner. You don't even bear arms against a coyote after the chickens. And you sure as hell don't bear arms at skeet or traps or targets.

So there's my interpretation of it- as a sentence written in English by men who were educated and knew exactly how to build a sentence and what different words meant. They knew the difference between "people" and "individual" and "well-trained militia" and "buncha guys stockpiling shit rabidly and furtively". (Goddamn it. Time to break out the wine...)

Now, does this mean that anyone using the above interpretation thinks that ALL guns need to be confiscated, melted down and turned into bird baths? Of course not. Metal bird baths rust. Everyone is aware that guns are part and parcel of the American culture. Stop. Listen.

Look at me and listen to my words because I'm telling you what I believe and what everyone on 'my side' believes- no one wants to confiscate your guns. HEY! Stop. Deep breath. Do not utter the words "Pelosi, Feinstein or Shumer". Don't. Because yanno what? Those people are nowhere in 'my side's' news.

The 3 horsemen of the disarmament apocalypse are part and parcel of what 'your side' is telling you 'my side' is up to. But we're not.

Here's what we'd like to see happen-

-Close the damn gun show loophole. Seriously. It's ridiculous.

-Show us proof of proficiency if you want to own a gun. That doesn't mean you have to list your stash- you can have a driver's license without owning a car. Make the concealed-carry course mandatory for any gun purchase. One day. One day to show us you give a damn about actually being safe with your weapon of death. And a little renewal refresher every 5 years or so.

-Everything else? Would be impossible, and we know it no matter how much we may hate it. If we ban specific models- the manufacturers will change the model numbers. If we ban certain clips, certain other ones will appear and/or ways around the law will be figured out.

See that last one? Read it again. OF COURSE your terrifying 3 horsemen will ride into DC and demand the moon. OF COURSE 'your side' will dig its heels in and say "NO COMPROMISE!" and both sides will envision themselves with faces painted and charging at each other Braveheart-style, when in actuality what's supposed to happen is...compromise. Compromise. Compromise. It won't hurt you, really. Say it with me-

Here's the most important thing, at least to people like me- and we are legion, trust me. Way WAY more legion than ya'll are. Not a threat; just the truth. I know numbers and statistics are important to you, because we keep hearing about how the pleasure and rights of 80 million gun-owning Americans are at stake here. That means there are 230 million NON-gun-owning Americans. Americans. Just as American as the gun owners.

Please stop making any show about how you're clutching your weapons and stockpiling and 'no compromising' because you need them to protect and take back America.

Because you're not.

How and when do you plan on this big "taking back of America"?

Ya'll aren't organized, no matter how many there are of you. Sure you may know others like you- you may even all meet up to do some shootin' together. But en masse? To face off with the US government forces? How will you know when to go? Is there a big bat signal somewhere?

I'm not being facetious- I really want to know. I don't know if you've even thought about it, or is it part and parcel of the whole "cold dead hands" marketing? Have you?

(Note to self- the wine seems to be doing the trick. Mellow City, that's me.)

Here's what my side sees your side doing, over and over and over again-

-Wall St. tanks the economy- putting our country into economic peril and a whole bunch of Americans on the streets.

Our side gives birth to Occupy- hundreds of thousands of people marching, protesting, old people, young people, employed and poor people. They get arrested and roughed up and hauled off.

Your side calls them dirty hippies and tells them to take a shower and get a job.

-After the election, when not only our President won re-election but a greater number of diverse people were elected into office than ever before

Our side celebrates with relief, and then sets our sights on the '14 elections, because we LIKE the House of Representatives (along with all the other elected officials) to actually, physically represent us- all races, all genders, all religious affiliations or not- we're a melting pot, remember?

Your side wails and gnashes its teeth at the 'end of traditional America' and buys up MORE AMMO because very soon white people will be outnumbered.

-When the Keystone XL trenches its way through private property that's been taken through eminent domain- taken by OUR government and given to a foreign company to transport toxic shit to Houston where it will require billions of gallons of fresh water (and TEXAS has so much of that to spare) to make it usable for crude applications (the finished product will NOT be able to say...gas up your car) and then sold overseas

Our side protests, calls, writes letters, chains ourselves to bulldozers and up in trees, gets arrested and roughed up trying to stop a very hostile takeover of AMERICAN SOIL by a FOREIGN ENTITY

Your side has no idea. Because you're so worried about your guns being taken.

Here's what I hear- "Protecting the 2nd Amendment makes all the others safe".

Even IF that's true, when are you going to start?

Even though the anti-regulation 'saving America from tyranny' crowd talks a big game, and even though I really don't want to see them marching ARMED at any of the above protests, I need to know

where the hell are you?

Wearing your pro-gun t-shirts and caps, why are you NOT HERE and as outraged as we are about all the above transgressions?

Is it the conservative/liberal moat? Can that not be crossed? Because that's music to the ears of those doing the transgressing.

Can your side not even acknowledge that Wall St. hamstringed the economy and that foreign companies on American soil taking land without the owners' consent is FUCKING WRONG because our side tends to be liberal and want things like help for poor, sick, old and female people and tends to be not fanatical about knowing the joys and fun of shooting an AR?

(Damn. Wine's wearing off...too bad we don't have any weed...)

Can you not understand how it's brain-exploding frustrating to listen to you beat your chests and parade around in your soldier suits and scream "COLD DEAD HANDS/AMERICA/NO COMPROMISE" and know damn well that the only tyranny you care one good goddamn about is if someone knocks on your door and demands all your guns?

(Quick...wrap it up...MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!)

So please- unless you are ALSO going to be concerned about anyone else and any other issue, do not tell us you are patriotic Americans who are protecting America.

Please- do not tell us that you NEED your guns to protect America because you don't trust the government, specifically THIS administration, because in a civil society, that shit gets fixed in the voting booth and by the citizens. You want to be sure we don't turn into a fascist theocratic country? Stop voting for the bastards.

And finally- please- listen to yourself when you are spewing such venom, such hatred both for your fellow Americans and the government, really listen and counsel your hearts and then possibly consider taking the advice you give us when we say things like, "Yanno, every other country provides health care for its citizens- maybe we should try it".


At the end of the day, if the majority of citizens feels one way and you feel another, if the English interpretation of the constitution really IS what it means and not what you WANT it to mean...see above.

At the end of the day, we don't hate you because you own guns. We dislike you because you're selfish.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review "Embers at Galdrilene"

I don't generally read much fiction, and I very rarely read fantasy.

Embers at Galdrilene is both, and it's fabulous.

I confess I read it mainly because I know the author, but not the way you usually say that- "I know the author so I felt compelled to give it a shot...out of courtesy".

I read it because I know Audra- my family and hers have broken bread together, the boys have played together, at one point we sent a goat, 2 baby guinea pigs and a wringer washer home in their mini-van in exchange for the delivery of a puppy.

We've met in a tornado-whipped campground in Oklahoma and in their home in Kansas.

I love Audra and her family, and that's no understatement.

So I didn't open Embers with hesitation- I knew it would be everything Audra is- funny, complex, whimsical, dramatic, passionate.

And I was not disappointed.

Embers at Galdrilene is dragon fantasy at its very best- following half a dozen very different characters on their journey to come to peace with their gift of magic and to answer the insistent humming of their dragon-partners: something they'd been told was impossible and even deadly, they form an unlikely alliance and discover places and things that were supposedly lost in the mists of history.

An absolutely stunning tapestry of a fairy tale, the characters are true and the setting comes alive, pulling the reader in and along for the ride.

I ordered a 'real' book, since I'm old and still prefer that format, but the cover and interior details are so fitting and beautiful that I highly recommend this version over the Kindle or Nook versions.

The best part?

Embers is only the first book. So when you turn the final page, it's not depressing- there's more to look forward to.

Embers at Galdrilene- by A.D. Trosper. Even and maybe especially if you don't read fantasy, your brain and heart will thank you for this refreshing vacation.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Holy Shit! There Really IS a Slippery Slope!

And all this time I've been chiding and deriding the anti-gun regulation folks and the fundamentalist Christians.

Till it occurred to me, as though slapped with a sack of wet mice, that they are

Yes, folks- you heard it right here, right now. There is, in fact, a slippery slope and we've been on it for many years already.

The 2nd Amendment has been bastardized and we need to take it back. It was put there because we were to never have a standing army- the citizens were to be TRAINED as a militia so the government could call them up to fight FOR the government to protect our borders.

Somehow, about 50 years ago, the NRA went from being a hunter support group to making a devil's deal with the gun manufacturers to supply them with a consumer base. The lobbyists invaded DC and bought the politicians and the judges and the NRA did the rest.

Before that there was never even a word about the 2nd Amendment in their monthly magazine and the NRA is on record as being relatively PRO-regulation.

So here's where we went wrong, America- at the first inkling of the gross misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment, America should've said


*Note the gun joke. Just wanted to make sure ya'll got that since I thought it was pretty clever.

But, no.

We let the camel's nose under the tent and now the camel has not only upended the tent but he's shit and pissed all over it.

And you can't get the smell of camel piss out of stuff. Trust me.

And speaking of camel piss, how about that Joe McCarthy?

Joe McCarthy got all of America's knickers in a knot about the Red Commie Scare back in the '50's. Suddenly it was of vital importance to make it abundantly clear that America was not Communist.

Because so many people were confused about that.

Or something.

And what ONE THING separated us from the godless Commies?


No. Wait.


Yes, God with a capital G.

So ol' Joe made damn sure that God was everywhere- He got added to the pledge even though the Baptist minister who wrote it specifically and purposely left Him out of it, on accounta America does not have a national religion.

It got printed on all our money- replacing "E Pluribus Unum" with "In God We Trust", and if you look around, you'll see how THAT turned out, once we stopped believing that "Out of many, we become One" and shoved the Christian God of the Holy Bible down everyone's throats as they paid for their rent, and food, and beer, and lap dances.

And we even had to adopt "In God We Trust" as our national motto. Even though the 1st Amendment clearly states that we have NO NATIONAL RELIGION.

That was in the '50's. Not the 1750's. The 1950's. Once it became clear that McCarthy was as crazy as a spun cat, all that crap shoulda been scrapped since it was all absolutely counter to the 1st Amendment. All of it.

But no, we went ahead and let that slippery slope slide.

And look where we are now- having presidential candidates standing up and saying they consult God before any decision and that they use the Holy Bible as their guide.

Which is bullshit. Because that's what the Founders spent all that time laboring over hot meals and French wine pounding out a Constitution and Bill of Rights for. If they'da known you were going to toss it all over and use the bible instead, they coulda been back on their huge landholdings, overseeing their slaves and shit.

So I owe all the anti-regulation gun guys and all the fundamentalist Christians a huge apology. My eyes have been opened and I can see the light.

We shoulda slapped ya'll with a rolled up newspaper over half a century ago.

Because this is OUR country, too.

And as of now, ya'll have made a huge fear-mongering hate-filled mess of it that will take decades to recover from.

But we will take America back.

And we won't let you fuck it up again.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Delicious Diversity

Yanno the recipes I like the best?

The ones that you read and think, "How the hell will THAT work?"

When you're going along, reading the ingredient list mentally mixing it up in your head and saying to yourself, "Ya, ya, ok, sounds good..." and then you get to one or more ingredients that screech your thoughts to a halt with a recoiling-from-the-cookbook shudder and your instinctive reaction is. "How the hell will THAT work?"

So I made chili yesterday.

Tried out a new recipe that had not one, but FOUR ingredients that made me stop in my mental tracks.

But I thought I'd be brave and give it a shot- invited our 2 most daring epicurean family members within dinner-driving distance and tossed it all together, making a few changes as I went (like most cooks do- as in the rest of life, the key to success is experimentation balanced with the tried-and-true).

It was delicious.

After dinner we had a campfire and fireworks show- fire made by Rick and Joe, and fireworks by Alec and Ben.

Around the campfire we were a companionable crew of unlikely characters.

Our neighbors Rick and Christine- the best neighbors on the planet, but a little to the Right of our way of thinking politically. Joe asked Rick if he'd read one of my blog posts and he said, "I don't read that commie pinko stuff". He ate the shit outta the commie pinko apple cake tho...Christine does her best to keep Rick on a civil plane. It's a lifetime endeavor.

Joe- heavily armed, old Montanan, former Marine and about a hundred miles to the Right of Rick. An absolutely integral member of our adopted family for over four years now. I tell folks I've almost got him house trained. Almost.

Ben and Jason- (I can't even type their names without smiling). If I had had the pleasure of having 2 more sons, I'd want them to be Ben and Jason.

And of course, Ward and Alec. The 2 most dear people to me on the planet- both hysterically funny, frighteningly brilliant, astoundingly handsome.

We ranged in age from 12 to 70, from urban to rural, liberal to progressive to conservative, Catholic to Baptist to reincarnationist to atheist.

We're not all the same, we don't all think alike. Society tries to get us to believe that the ONLY way to happiness and success is to group together with 'like-minded people'.

Including and spanning out from last night's campfire, it's easy to see that our entire group of friends is hugely diverse in all ways. So how the hell does THAT work?

As good as the chili, baby. As good as the chili.

How the Hell Will THAT Work Chili

2 tsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
2 pounds sirloin steaks, cubed
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 can dark beer (I used Shiner Black Bohemian Lager)
1 c strong black coffee
1 12oz can tomato paste
12oz beef broth
1/2c brown sugar
3 1/2tbsp sweetchili sauce (from the oriental food section)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic till tender and transparent, transfer to soup kettle.
Brown the cubed steak and add to onions and garlic.
Brown and RINSE the ground sirloin and add to onion, garlic and cubed steak.
Mix in all the other stuff and stir well.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours- more is betterer.


1c baking mix (I use Pioneer)
3/4c cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2/3c milk
6 tbsp melted butter

Mix together, spread into buttered cast iron skillet and bake at 425 about 20-25 minutes till knife comes out clean.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pre-Coffee Persecusion

Lets just get this out of the way.

I'm never eating at Chik Filet again and I'm never shopping at Hobby Lobby again.

It's not really a big deal for me, a sacrifice- if you will, because the food at CF is really shitty (who the hell takes dry bread, a frozen-then-deep-fried chicken part and ONE PICKLE SLICE and bases an entire restaurant on that crap?)and anything I can get at Hobby Lobby I can get at any other hobby store...preferably a locally-owned one.

The Chik Filet debacle? Stupid. Ooooh, the Christians are marching en masse to eat crappy sammiches in support of Chik Filet's brave policies. "Clogging our arteries for Jesus". Whatever.

I've had it with the Hobby Lobby thing, tho.

They're willing to pay 1.3 million dollars A DAY in fines rather than supply their employees with ONE segment of health care? Coincidentally, since from what I've seen, Hobby Lobby employees tend to be under 50, lower middle class and WOMEN- it's the very thing they most need- help in deciding how big their family gets. How fucking Christian of them.

Let me do this so it's easy to understand and impossible to misunderstand-


Is that clear?

The ACA does NOT say "Everybody MUST take birth control and have a minimum of three (3) abortions in their lifetime, men included", but you'd think it says exactly that to hear all the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rubbing of ashes onto clothes-rent heads.

Settle the fuck down.

Just because the President/Owner/King of Hobby Lobby thinks PERSONALLY that birth control is a bad thing, he cannot CANNOT make that decision for his employees.

On accounta Hobby Lobby is NOT a RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION.

But the entire "we're so persecuted" Christian Nation is gonna march on Hobby Lobby in a few days to SHOW US HEATHENS that they support the holiness that is...a fucking glorified five and dime store.

They're going to march in support of ONE MAN being able to essentially screw and persecute the living hell out of every female employee he has, who is not doing it because he can't AFFORD IT- since he's paying more in fines than if every one of his employees (men included) took the pill every day for the rest of their lives.

That, my friends, is the most unabashed bullshit I've ever heard in my entire life.

And the angels sang.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Making Shit Up

I love to write.

I've always loved to write.

Words are magical, wondrous things and threaded together carefully and artfully they weave thoughts and dreams into the cloth that becomes the wardrobe of our imaginations.

Just by chance, the things that I've written tend to be real, and experiential and concise.

School newspaper, local newspaper, articles for a website, journal entries, blog.

Very much "where, what, when, how and who in 3,000 words or less" sort of writing.

'CancerDance- a love story' is journal entries and blog posts with a few chapters tacked to the beginning. Don't get me wrong; the format makes it much more visceral than simple prose would be.

'Easterchicks Gone Bad' is a collection of articles written over the course of 5 years that are all put into one volume.

Both of these are about real stuff. Reporting, as it were.

'Almost Invisible- a different kind of survival story' was my first foray into fiction, and it scared me to death. Not just the fiction aspect of it, but making a whole BOOK aspect- everything in me is trained to take a subject, circle around it, dive in, rip the heart out of it and set it to words...condensed and descriptive yet complete.

I wrote that little 100 page book one chapter at a time, one a night till it ended- and till it ended even *I* didn't know how it would end.

I was lamenting my current state of discouragement with my writing life in general and a dear friend...lets call her 'Audra', said, "You write for the love of writing and because you have people in your head that will drive you crazy if you don't let them out."

And therein lies the Rub.

My head? Empty.

There are no people in it.

The characters in 'Almost Invisible' were the first time that had ever happened to me in over 50 years. And so far, the last.

So I've got what I believe is a pretty good concept for what I'm doing now, and I've got it laid out in my head (and on paper as well because I'm old) and I'm fully engaged in the entire project.

The people in the book? Elusive as Bigfoot.

Audra writes fabulous characters who apparently hatch between her ears and gain form through her computer keys; and they leap off the pages of her book full of life and passion.

Joe, too- sits down to write and his stories appear on his computer chock full of people who come with their own histories and quirks and humanity. He admits that he has no idea how a book will go till it's done. "Beats the shit outta ME", he'll say when asked why a story takes the turn that it does.

The part of writing he finds tedious is the editing and spell-checking, but the story parts just flow.

I'm in awe of such gifts.

Having only dealt in non-fiction my entire life, it was pretty easy to think, "Fiction? What's so difficult about THAT? All you gotta do is make shit up".

Now I know.

Now I sit at my computer mentally drawing and crumpling up character after character in my head till I sketch one up that fills the need of the story.

I'll type it all up and think, "THERE! I've finished the first section", then look at my page count. Twelve. Twelve pages.

Dumbfounded, I think, "What the hell? I've said all that needs said here and it's only twelve pages??? That will not a book make".

So painstakingly, line by line and paragraph by paragraph I go through it again. I read each tiny section, pause, close my eyes and think, "MORE".

I elaborate, describe, add background and depth and read it again.


Over and over and over again.

It's unarguably the hardest work I've ever done regarding words.

I believe it's good for me.

I believe I'll come out the other side a better writer, and I believe I'll be proud of the finished product both in content and quality.

Will anyone read it?

Beats the hell outta me.

But Audra says that's not what I'm doing it for, and she's never lied to me.