Save Lives Not Guns

Just have to say it, again. For those who don’t get it. I still haven’t heard a politician say they are going to come and take away the guns from law abiding citizens. I HAVE heard that they and over 75% of the law abiding citizens in this country want to ban bump stocks, semi-auto, and automatic weapons from anyone but the police and military, instill background checks for purchasing a gun at ANY time a gun is purchased by ANYONE, make it more difficult if not impossible for people who have been convicted of any violent crime (including domestic violence or rape) to be able to purchase a gun weather or not they SEEM to be a law abiding citizen now, have a person who has HAD a diagnoses of an emotional or behavioral disorder be tested prior to purchasing a gun, but nowhere have I seen or heard that anyone would be coming into anyone’s homes to take away anyone’s guns that they legally have now. THAT would be illegal and unconstitutional and only people who don’t understand jurisprudence think that way.

The police already have voluntary programs where people can come to places, usually police stations, and hand in weapons/guns with no questions asked. This could take place if/when new gun policies ever happen. OFTEN these programs also give money to those who hand in the weapons. Also, many countries that have already done what people in the US want with these new gun policies, is to grandfather in the people who already have those types of weapons, but make sure they are registered to law abiding citizens. They are already supposed to be, right? Now all you have to do is tell the people you register with that you’ve added the bump stock, so IF the weapon is stolen they know it was already altered.

So, no. We don’t want to ban guns for law abiding citizens. Knowing who has altered their gun, who has guns, and knowing only the police and military have the correct heavy-powered weapons to fight the heavily powered bad guys seems OK though, doesn’t it?

The gun nuts keep telling us that they “know how to use their guns.” So why would a legal gun owner need an automatic weapon to protect their home? If they are such a good shot and SO good at using their weapon, if someone broke into their home and they never get nervous and are just as trained as the cops are in such a situation wouldn’t they be able to shoot as well as a cop and handle the situation accordingly the same way with just the same weapon as a street cop and hit their target?

I see no reason for every day Joe’s to own semi or automatic weapons or use bump stocks. No, not for hunting either. What is sporting about hunting with them? Either you can make your shot without them or you are a shitty shot, dude, and have one small penis. Don’t try to come at me with “what do you know about guns, liberal piece of shit.” Last time I shot a 22 caliber was about 5 years ago and I’m still an expert marksman. I’ve got the trophies to prove it. Just don’t own a gun. Don’t want one in my home. I do enjoy shooting though.

If I had one in my home, it wouldn’t do me any good if someone broke in to attack me. They would already have a gun IN their hand. How would I have time to go get mine? Duh, I’d already be dead. Really, IF you store your guns the way you’re supposed to; away from the ammo. The gun is supposed to be either locked in a cabinet or the ammo is, and/or stored up high away from any children. How would you get to it if you are about to be robbed?

If you are storing a loaded gun in your nightstand while you sleep, well THAT’s how the robbers in this country are getting away with suing the people they are trying to rob!!!!!! Because you were breaking the law! That’s also why so many youth have guns available to them for accidents, school shootings, and suicide; loaded guns in desks, closets, and drawers.

Even IF you have a license to carry, that does NOT mean everyone in your family does. When you take that weapon off it is supposed to be LOCKED UP. If it’s not and it’s used by any family member in an accident, school shooting, or suicide then I hope you feel like shit, because you are shit.

We need to fight the people who have guns illegally, not each other. Get it? We need to save lives. Get it?

Now, does anyone else want to send me a meme on Facebook about “They can take my guns out of my cold dead hands?” or “They want to take our guns away!”

Isms, White Privilege, & 1st World Problems

I recognize that I am happy to know that my white privilege keeps me, even in poverty, better off than others. I am so very glad that the bad things that have happened to me in my world have never been as bad as living in the Congo or other places dealing with genocide, female genital mutilation, child soldiers, daily air bombings like Syria, night raids when your family is taken away and women and children raped, or even in the American South where a black person gets gunned down simply for the color of their skin or anywhere in the USA Native American women go missing at high rates and it seems no one gives a damn.

Across the world women are still stoned for having healing skills or when THEY are the victims of rape and it’s said THEY bring shame to their family because of it. No, wait. That still happens right here in the US. So, too, do child marriages, it’s lawful to rape your wife in most states, and the police state in the US is being granted more and more leeway and freedom every day – including the right to beat and rape prisoners. That’s right. In most states it is lawful to rape a prisoner. That is, we know rape is illegal; however there is no law against NOT raping a prisoner.

Why write about it all? Why me? Simply because I AM white. People of color experience atrocities at profoundly high rates. It’s sickeningly ridiculous. What do we do? We continuously keep telling them to “get over it.” “Rwanda is history, slavery is history, the Indian schools is history, it’s all history, blah blah blah…” but it’s not history to their living parents, grandparents, and for some of them – living it now. We are living in times where icky “isms” of the past are coming alive again at raging rates worldwide. When those “old times” are starting to happen all over again how do we tell them to “get over it?”

That purely is white privilege speaking when telling them to get over it. Do these things not happen to white people? Of course they do, but that’s not the point. We know they happen to people of color at proportionately much higher rates. That is the point. They bring up “people conquer other peoples, that’s what history is about. The conquered people assimilate and you get over it.” Tell that to Ireland and Scotland, who are still fighting to be free countries and people who are still learning their old ancient languages. The same goes for Native tribes all over North and South America, Africa, Asia, and well virtually everywhere you find Native Tribes. I don’t think any place ever completely assimilates. The old hangs on.

The thing is, the old, they don’t have a voice. They are our memories. What happens is, many don’t want to let those memories go; memories of place, culture, peoples, and time. Whether or not those memories are good ones or not don’t matter to those who are doing the remembering. Some are remembering bad times and want revenge or justice. Some are remembering their culture and language and want to share. It is the children who grow up hearing the memories who are caught. Caught between hearing what actually was, and what is embellished upon by the rememberers, the children can also grow up with scars from the past.

When any person is asked where they are from they usually say a place. How many people answer, “I came from my loving parents,” or “I came from adoptive parents who took me in because my birth parents were killed in horrible…” due to whatever holy war or government war or war for oil or against slavery, etc, happened. How many people answer that they come from, and then go on to describe their culture instead of either a person or a place?

In the United States we don’t really have one culture to define us, unlike most countries. We have regions of culture. Each town or city may even have different areas or spots of culture. Is that good or bad? I think it is very good, yet now there are many who think the opposite. As a child growing up in the 1970’s I remember learning that the US was a “melting pot” and we were supposed to think of that as a good thing. That was supposed to be the American “culture.” The “American Dream” was supposed to be that everyone was to look forward to each generation living a bit better than the last. Yet another aspect of American culture. However, what that symbolic idealistic culture was hiding was the fact that our dreams were hiding behind white faces on the TV telling us about all this melting pot. The actual melting pot wasn’t actually meant to be seen or heard.

Governments lie, people are treated like shit. We know this. Viet Nam happened, Kennedy was killed, Martin Luther King was Killed, The 60’s tried to rebel and help and we go some new laws and thought the isms would start to die. The 70’s got lax and we celebrated the love we thought the 60’s had won – OK I’ll give ’em credit for protests. We started to go back and forth between Republican and Democrat parties defining themselves in new and profoundly worse ways every presidential election. Everyone in the parties getting farther and farther apart, separating our country. Our political parties have pushed so far apart until they are unrecognizable today and our government doesn’t recognize our people or the rights fought for back in those days.

Atrocities have happened here in the US. Yes We do horrible things to each other every day in the name of our politics, religion, beliefs, etc. We have terrible murderers, mass shootings, rapists, hell we even have ass-hats who think it’s OK to run people over with their cars simply because they are protesting something. Our near-past is full of lynching people for being black or gay, going to your house or place of worship to shoot you because you aren’t the same faith, and priests and rich college boys going free for rape. Our daily newspapers are full of horrendous and unspeakably gory crimes, yet if they are done by white people they get a lesser sentence and if they are done by a person of color – or heaven forbid – a person fleeing through our southern border, they suddenly are taking over our electronic devices and our lives.

Put it all into perspective though, would you? White people, please. Do any of the daily horrible things that you read or hear about actually affect you personally most of the time? Is your brother, sister, son, daughter, etc being  lynched or shot or followed through a store due to the color of their skin? Is your house or car fire-bombed or have a brick thrown through a window because you are gay, black, or called a witch? Yes? Ah, but how often? Now, if you were a person of color, these things would be happening to you multiple times over.

Now Americans as a whole should put it into modern perspective, too. Have we had the number of terrorist bombings here that France or other countries have had? Have we had to live through anything like a Rwandan genocide? I’m talking to white people here, because yes, our Native American brothers and sisters sure as hell have. Yes, the Indian Schools were still functioning in this last century. That’s not history. That’s modern. How about the barbarous actions in Syria? I am begging white Americans to stop whining about the trifles in their first world lives. Yes, even poor white Americans. Especially poor white Americans who keep voting for the Republicans who keep them poor. (Oops, my bad. That’s another post.)

There surely, honestly can’t be any white poor American who thinks they are worse off than a poor black person in Africa? A person living in the Syrian war? Anyone living in a cartel-ridden country in South America? If they do, then shame on them. Even if you live in a shack without running water in the South in America you can still find water to drink MOST of the time and you DO have that shack. Shit, I’m being one harsh bitch, right? I’m not stupid. I KNOW there is real abject poverty here in the USA that could be done away with if the richest 3 families in the US didn’t earn more than the bottom 50% of Americans. However, I also know that those poor families are not being bombed every day. They don’t have militia or cartels coming to their homes any time of day taking their food, or even worse, taking their family members away or raping them and then taking them or just killing them for fun.

I am part of poor America. I live below the poverty line. I am grateful that I am not being bombed, yet. With 45 in office, it’s an iffy subject. I have friends who don’t have running cars and sometimes go without running water or functioning heat. I also went to college and have a degree and a professional license. However, I became disabled and living on Social Security is not a living wage. Medicare is not a functioning health care insurance for my needs. I scrimp and save and go to food shelves.

I am so glad I don’t live in a war-torn country or anywhere else where crimes against humanity happen on a daily basis. Oh, I have to stop and laugh. I forgot who our current leader is for a moment. Sorry. No. Really. I AM happy to live here. We have SO many freedoms. I will fight tooth and nail to keep what so many in our country are trying to take away right now from so many in our beloved melting pot. I know it is my white privilege that allows me to live so freely in the US without fear. Having been a foster parent to several children of color I’ve seen the looks from the white folks. I’ve watched the managers of grocery stores follow my teen foster son for no reason. I’ve dealt with the school leaders giving harsher discipline to mine than others. There are different types and levels of fear.

I thought I knew fear. I know rape. I’ve seen the desire of a man to need to make his fist connect with my flesh, yet I held his eyes with mine in the moment of the dare and won. He may have had my body, but not the rest of my flesh. He had his moment. I wouldn’t give him more. I was able to fight back. That was but a moment in time. No, I don’t trivialize rape.  There is so much pain happening to so many people at any given moment. There are too many of the people willing to “walk on” through their days and do nothing. My white privilege allows me to get therapy and keep walking.  Can you all look into your soul and like what you see looking back? Have you looked at your isms and shaken them enough to know that you have them? Have you faced them? Do all the white people who are whining about their 1st world problems realize they are fearing what they fear in themselves?

Right now I fear I’ve rambled all over the place in this post.

The Good Life

We planted a labyrinth. OK, I didn’t actually do any of the work, no, I was out there one day I think for an hour. Not hard work, mind you, sitting on my ass digging in the dirt with a garden trowel. I’d reach every once in a while for the cardboard flat of medicinal herbs and plop its tender little life into a hole. The other women, who are much more physically healthy than I am, did all the actual diagramming of the round-a-bout lines on the ground with jamming sticks into the soil and winding a thin rope around the sticks to outline where to walk and where not to walk.

We all donated to the cause to purchase the medicinal herbs to plant, and yes, again it was the other ladies who did most of that planting around and around in circles from the outside of the labyrinth to the center. It was large, I believe it was about 100 feet across in diameter. One lady and her husband and son owned the land it was on, way out in the country, next to the Mississippi River. When we were quietly working we could hear the river, but from the labyrinth we couldn’t see it. It was also a bit of a trek to get out to it from their house, at least 10 minutes to the clearing through the forest. To get to their house you also had to drive about 20 minutes from town.

We gathered there on Full Moons, Sabbats, and other celebrations. We ate marvelous food,  shared delightful conversation, and laughed until our sides ached.  Some of us went out to the labyrinth alone at times to meditate, pray, seek guidance, cry, or for another calls or needs. It was for women, though, for women’s synergy, partnership, and unity. It was for bearing each other’s good and bad and putting it back into the soil to turn back into Mother Nature, and all we could take away from it was the good bounty of medicine we’d grown and positivism and nurturance.

I had been out there alone one afternoon. I had come to the bottom of all I could endure and I was facing blackness all around me. I’d been to that pit before and I recognized it. Despair and depression, anger and suffering, and longing and I couldn’t hold it in. I should not have gone alone. I did put it into the ground, but I did not “ground” myself. I forgot to thank and walked away with dragging feet and unanswered tears and shouted cries. That night, lightning struck the rock I’d “placed” my anger within. If you’ve ever seen a rock that’s been struck by lightning, it’s pretty cool. For lightning to strike the exact center of our labyrinth, after I’d been out there-the last person to have been out there-is like what, one in a zillion?

The next day the owner of the land was calling us all to figure out the who and what. So, I the guilty party had to be present as we all gathered to heal the labyrinth. From the time we all arrived, yes, all eyes were on me. I had to be “healed”, too. It’s not as embarrassing as it sounds to have a gathering of supportive women to “cradle” you in a dark hour. I laid it out as best I could about what was going on in my life, all my needs, etc. No, of course they really couldn’t help, it was medical stuff mixed with my messed-up family stuff. Just having it out there and shared and knowing I wasn’t alone really did help. I could still feel that eyes were watching me though, but not from the group of women, this feeling was coming from the forest. It was behind me.

Whoever was watching me wasn’t bad. It didn’t make me feel creepy either. I just knew someone was still watching me. The feeling was moving around, from place to place, like telling me to hurry up. So, the women gave me healing hugs, told me healing stories, we danced “like no one is watching,” and giggled and laughed like cackling idiots. We went back to the house, walking through the wooded path with “someone” still watching me. I mentioned it to the owner of the house and she looked at me and smiled. As the other women were getting all the mouthwatering food ready to eat she took me aside. She gave me an stunning shawl that she had handmade, saying she’d thought healing thoughts for me while making it. She also said that was one of two things she had to give me, but the other had to wait.

Those “eye” still watched me from outside while I ate. Now it felt like someone endearing me to “please share?” I can’t tell you how I knew these thoughts. They just popped into my mind from out of nowhere. How could this “someone” know I was enjoying a sumptuous repast inside the house? What on earth was going on? Finally, it was getting late and I really did need to get home to my child. The ladies gifted me with the lightning stabbed rock to take home and leftover mini-doughnuts: one package of cinnamon flavor and one package of powdered sugar. The owner walked me to the door and to my car, and as I opened the back door to place all my “gifts”; out of the woods a black shadow suddenly charged and jumped into the backseat! The owner of the land said, “we’re all allergic, but she showed up last night after the storm. I figure since she’s been watching you all day she must be yours.”

A black cat imperiously sat on the back seat. Not afraid of us or anything. She came towards me, meowed, and rubbed against my arm and said “hello human.” Since she wasn’t afraid of people I figure she’d been thrown away by someone, just like me. I thanked my host for ALL of the gifts, told the cat she could stay, and got into the front seat and shut the door. She wasn’t very old, a little less than 2 years old, maybe? Skinny. Beautiful golden eyes. A very long cat with long legs and short sleek black fur. My infant would love to pull its tail. I did have one cat at home already. My sister called me one day and asked if I’d take hers before her asshole husband killed it. Of course I did. Tempest was a black & white very fluffy long-hair that slept with my son, sat next to my son always. I think that cat thought my son was hers.

As I drove home, the “eyes” stopped. I figured the cat had fallen asleep. My friend and I were deep in conversation anyway. Suddenly my friend burst out laughing! She told me I didn’t need to think of a name for my cat; it had one. What? She was busy eating the ENTIRE bag of cinnamon doughnuts! So, OK golden eyes, those cinnamon looking golden eyes…you are hereby dubbed: Cinnamon. When I said it she looked up long enough to give us a loud “meow,” so I guess that was an OK.

She was right at home in my adobe. When I brought her into the house she went right for the couch, like she’d been there before, lay down and went to sleep. Well, she did have a very full stomach. She and Tempest got along, too. They played together and they both loved my son. She never cared when getting her tail pulled or an entire handful of fur or an ear. I actually lived in a mobile home. As my son grew, their favorite games were throwing super balls down the hallway and watching Cinnamon chase them bouncing around or rolling Hot Wheels down the hall and watching Cinn try to catch them while on the tracks or off the “jumps” and ramps.

When my son was three we moved across town into a house. The cats didn’t mind the move. Actually, it was Cinnamon who alerted me to wake up when the house was on fire! A guy had been putting insulation in the attic earlier in the day and his light had started it on fire, but he’d thought he’d put it out. 2 AM ,Cinnamon on my feet, I awoke to the nastiest smell I’ve ever smelled. It was difficult to completely wake, though. I then wandered the house trying to figure out the smell. I went outside and saw flames coming out of the side of my house! I ran inside to get my son, but he was difficult to wake, too and the fire was burning inside his closet. I half held, half dragged him outside into the snow. It was Easter Sunday in MN, so yes, snow on the ground. I left him standing in the snow and went back inside to find the phone. I didn’t have a cell phone. I called 911 and went back outside to wait. They came, we both got oxygen for our coughing, and we cried for them to find our cats who had disappeared.

We were homeless for 2 months. The cats were found and housed in a kennel while I at first went from the couch at my sister’s, then to a room at my brother’s then to a hotel for a month, because as I stated earlier my family is screwed up. Getting back into our home and getting back to our beloved cats was a blessing. My son had lost everything in his room, but he had his Tempest. Yes, Tempest had become HIS. Tempest was his world. Cinnamon had become mine. We share a rare bone disease. Every time my son is injured Tempest was there. Tempest was better than ANY medication. Going 2 months without our cats was horrible. Cinnamon had saved our lives.

I believe Cinnamon was our/my body guard or something. At least she thought so. At times she was sort of like having a dog around. A watch cat. She always stayed in the yard when we were outside. If people were walking by she walked the perimeter of the yard, making sure they didn’t come over the threshold. If a dog was walking by with someone, oh boy did that dog get the stink-eye! IF a dog was on its own and came into the yard she actually chased them out of the yard! Yes, dogs were afraid of my cat. She turned into a big cat, too. At her biggest she weighed 18 pounds. She didn’t look round either. She was just big.

I am an animal lover. So is my son. At one time he even thought of becoming a veterinarian. He discovered how long they have to go to school though, and thought better of that. We volunteered at the local humane society taking care of cats and walking dogs. Mostly taking care of the cats. My sister called one day and said there was a couple of strays at her work and could I help. My son and I went to help. We caught them. Now what to do? I found a home for the adult male, but couldn’t say no to my son about the yearling. So now we had three cats. This one is a tortoise shell who was very well camouflaged under the bushes at my sister’s restaurant. Hence her new name: Camouflage, Cami for short. The other two cats didn’t seems to mind, too much.

A short year later a friend’s daughter’s cat had kittens and the mom said no, they couldn’t keep them. I made the mistake of visiting before she gave them all away. Now we added a little black runt of the litter to our house. The first male of the brood, hmmm, how would THIS go over? The first real kitten, too. OMG, yes, holes in the curtains and holes in my legs! Those little claws are hypodermic needles! Cinnamon was having none of it. My son LOVED it! This little guy was quite the acrobat and he played fetch! Right away he, like, did flying jump aerials off the walls! My son is a computer, Xbox playing total nerd. This kitten was named: Ninja! Cinnamon and Tempest and Cami DID get used to having a kitten around, eventually. I think it even perked them up and rejuvenated them a bit.

We had a few years with the four cats running around playing together. Tempest became the matriarch and Cinnamon the bouncer. I tried to teach them all to use a leash. That did NOT work. Older cats will not do it. I though since Ninja was a kitten we could teach him, but nope. He was just too energetic and was not gonna wear something that might “keep him down.” Cami, she dances to a different drum. I made all the cats become indoor cats. They live longer that way, and it’s easier to keep track of them. No way was Cami going to do that. She is some kind of Houdini. She can slip between legs, open door slots the size of a pea, I swear it. I can NOT keep her inside the house. I can’t keep a collar on her either. I’ve tried all sorts of collars. She can get out of them all. She will get out of them, or die trying. She also goes on walkabouts. Yup. She disappears. In the summer she will be gone for 2 months at a time. Just when we’ve given up hope and think she’s been killed by something, she’ll come trotting up the driveway. She’ll be just a little thin, with a Cheshire grin on her face.

Drat. They figured us out. My nephew called and said there was a little cat behind the dumpster at his job. Said she was half frozen and would I rescue her, please Auntie? Oh, hell, of course. Another black one. This one has thumbs. No kidding, she looks like she’s wearing mittens. We soon discover her cuteness is a disguise so she can use these to grab your food while you’re sucked in by her itty bitty little cutey face. Yes, this polydactyle (geeze, I know I’m spelling that wrong,) creature uses this feature to actually stick out her thumb and inch it forward to grab things, like food off your plate. Like the Madagascar Penguins: You See Nothing. When we received her it was obvious that she had just given birth, as all her “plates” were set. We assume they froze to death, poor dears. So we named her “Lil’ Mama in remembrance to her lost litter. She stayed little, sort of. She is a short, stubby legged, little round barrel.

Don’t shake your head at us, yes, we did it again. I have since learned to say no. The elders, Tempest and Cinnamon, took me aside and begged me to say no. A lady called and said a cat showed up. She had large dogs and didn’t want this cat. Would I? Could I find it a home? She was SOOO cute? Totally white! C’mon, we had black cats. We had to keep the white one. It was Feng Shui! It was Yin and Yang! It was Karma! Her moniker became: Blizzard. Perfect for a MN cat. Until she grew up and her coat told us she was Siamese. My son then said, OK so there’s dirt swirling around in the blizzard. Sure, that actually makes sense for a cat that plays tag with herself at 10 PM every  night. Well, I think that’s what she’s doing anyway. Not quite sure why she runs around to every room at that time of night, every cotton-pickin’ night. At midnight she and Mama play tag together. It’s like elephants rumbling around the house.

Don’t let dog-lovers tell you that cats are boring. They like to say that cats don’t play. Phooey! Apparently they have never seen more than one cat at a time. Cats like to play “wrestle” just like rag-tag little boys. It’s a silent pantomime of what the big cats do to their prey in the wild. It’s a lot like watching a pro boxing match, except there’s teeth involved. Cats also like to play tag; a lot. This game is best played when humans are around so you can be underfoot. Also, you have to tag the tail or it isn’t a true tag and you are still “it.” I’ve seen that. The same cat really does have to still go after the other one. Cats will also play hide-and-seek. Hiding under the chair that a human is currently occupying is the BEST hiding place, because waiting on top of the chair until you come out an inch at a time to peek, then the cat who is “it” runs down the human to “find” you is the best way to find you. Tag-team playing with human feet is allowed ONLY if ONE of you gets the sock. Chasing your own tail is only allowed within the confines of the human bathtub.

That last one was Cinnamon’s game. I never could actually catch her on camera playing it. When I’d see her in the bathtub chasing her tail in circles, I’d turn to go get my phone and if she saw me, wham, out of the tub. She was done. I have no proof. I couldn’t get her playing ANYTHING on camera! Like she just wasn’t going to allow me proof that she would ever do anything beneath being stoic. The old bodyguard standing watch over her family. If the herd, the other cats, got out of line and got too close to her, she just squashed them, literally. She’d put out a giant paw and squish their head down to the floor! Floof! As if to say, “stop it.” If they really pissed her off, which I can honestly say I only saw I think twice, she had a killer fast right paw that struck out so fast you could hardly see it, that hit 5 times in a row really really hard. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. I saw her do it to a dog, and it dazed the dog. I got in between her paw and the cat she was going to do it too when she got senile, and my hand went numb. She hit hard. She also had 6 toes, so her paw was large.

We’ve been in this house for 15 years now. A lively house with a family of 6 cats and two humans. We’ve had two other boys come and go, friends of my son who lived with us for a while. They loved the cats, too. A couple of other women lived here, too, friends of mine. It’s a small house, but full of love for our furry members. Tempest made it to 23 years old before we had to let her go. She nursed my son through 80+ broken bones and 10 surgeries. Cinnamon crossed that bridge two weeks ago, she was around 20. We grow ’em old here. Putting her “out of pain” was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

She was the bestest best friend I ever had. My constant companion. My best listener. My secret keeper. My tear dryer. She helped me to keep my courage when things were at the worst, for dignity is what a cat does best. I can see the days past when it was her who chased away strangers on my lawn. It was her who attacked any dogs, up to 4 times her size, that came near us, to protect us. She ruled this roost with an iron paw and kept all the other cats in line. She found me after someone else threw her away. Their loss was my gain. Her first hungry meal in my back seat of that bag of cinnamon doughnuts sealed the deal. Friends to the end. She became an elder and we taught each other a lot. We were together for 18 long years, but she was at least 20 or so (in human years anyway.)

The other cats sniffed around looking for their elder friend and seemed a little confused since she is not in her regular places. There is a palpable empty feeling, a definite knowledge that one is missing. A feeling in the room that is gone. Her essence, or aura, was so “there”, so felt. I think it will take a few days for it to all fade. She’s under the large Lilac with Tempest now. They liked to lie there in the shade in the summer and roll in the catnip. I let her outside her last day. One more time to walk in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day. She taught me a lot about mothering and a lot about chasing my tail with dignity. That’s what’s it’s about, right? Living the Good Life.

The Fire In Me Smolders

They say outside today is a Red Flag Day. It’s 40 to 50 MPH wind gusts and only 20% humidity. Our area hasn’t received enough rain for the season. Put it all together and I guess that adds up to: duh, stupid people should try to remember not to throw their cigarette butts on the ground or burn brush today. I say “stupid people”, because that seems like a no-brainer to me.

So, just because someone “planned” to burn their brush pile today, or “planned” to have friends over for that outside fire with wieners and marshmallows, they’re still gonna do it. Why? Because that’s how they planned to do it, and by golly why should they change their plans just because the wind didn’t cooperate? I say, they’re stupid. It’s very easy to change plans and just do it on another day, but humans don’t like change. They like to make plans and stick to ’em. Why, it’s rude not to, right? Dumb-assess. It might not burn down YOUR house, but gee it could put your neighbor’s house in jeopardy. Or a person, like the fireman that has to be called, because of your stupidity.

When I say stuff like this people look at me like I’M the one who’s rude. Like there’s no possible way one cigarette is going to start a fire. I’m sure all the dead people in California feel that way right now. Try to say that with a straight face to their loved ones.

Just because we live in MN doesn’t mean we don’t have wildfires. In 1894 we had the worst one in Hinckley that killed 418 people and destroyed 12 towns and burned 350,000 acres. That was a drought year like this one and the fire was started by a small brush fire. In 1910 the Baudette fire also burned my small hometown of Roosevelt killing 42 people 300,000 acres and other small towns. It was a drought year and was started by sparks from trains going by. Let’s skip to modern days to the Ham Lake Fire that burned 76,000 acres and was started by a campfire. How about the 2011 Pagami Creek, Ely Fire that burned 93,000 acres that was started by drought/lightning. All of the MN wildfires in drought years have been started from things you would expect: sparks from trains, campfires, small brush fires, lightning and cigarettes.

As I sit here writing this I spun over to google just to check on the stupid humans. Sure enough, there’s a fire on the DNR website that burned 400 acres about 100 miles from my current town, cause: human. I just sit shaking my head. It just takes a “special” someone to go out and (“not” think) and play with fire when the winds are blowin’.

The 2017 western wildfire season has been unprecedented in terms of large, long-duration fires. As of Sept. 15, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports a total of nearly 49,500 wildfires this summer with almost 8.4 million acres burned. I wonder how much of that was, cause: human. Yes, I realize a lot of it could be started by lightning or sparks from, well, anything. Realistically though, humans just live too close together and don’t have enough space between their homes and their stuff and fire-fuel. In a drought there is “fuel” everywhere. Our homes are just too close together and flames just jump from one roof to another in a chain effect like a cartoon image of an animated flame-thrower just grinning from ear to ear telling his mom, “look ma, no hands,” as the flames are effortlessly jumping from house to house in a giddy little dance.

It just makes me smolder inside as we continue to encroach on more wilderness to build more housing complexes without thinking ahead about fire season. Contractors, construction builders, and city planners should take these things into consideration prior to building. People will just keep moving into these area of housing as long as we keeping building them. It will take education, as always, to make people understand how to keep your home fire safe. A large buffer around your home between your home and your outside stuff and any wilderness “fuel” and the next home is necessary. We can’t just keep on building houses within arms reach of each other. The high loss of life will just keep continuing until we learn our lessons.

Yes, Nature will be nature and continues on through fire and renews itself. Stuff can be replaced. Even homes can be replaced. I just think the 7 billion people on this planet could use what’s between our ears to think more often, educate better, and maybe figure out how to continue our own species without taking out the others on all those acres. I don’t know the answers. I just know, cause: human, makes me smolder.

#forgottentimes

Spending quality time with good friends. Do teen-aged girls have the market cornered on this? Is this phenomenon a thing of the past, passed by now by the electronic age of “smart” gadgets that have human beings “talking” to each other over screens instead of actual face to face. I mean, actually using their voices, vocal cords, not text speech or an electronic or computer voice over a screen or microphone – even if they’re in the same room – to have an actual conversation for more than 10 seconds constitutes quality time these days.

I am so incredibly happy to have just had several hours of delightful conversation with two ladies. I got out of my house, away from all screens, and had actual face to face time with friends. It was a reminder of how comforting it can be to be around people with similar likes/dislikes, activities, and situations. It was relaxing to just be able and sit back to enjoy laughter and tears about topics such as our kids, jobs, and even just life in general.

Too often in this age everything is about rush rush rush. Getting everything done as quickly as possible. We have drive through fast food places, drive through pharmacies, drive through coffee places, drive through banks, and even drive through liquor stores. Almost everything we do can be done on a screen that fits in our pocket, almost everything we need can be delivered to our doorstep, and much of what we use can be thrown in the garbage. American Society is about: hurry up, take no care, take nothing personal, care for no one, throw it out.

Whoa, slow it down! I think we all need to slow it down and take the time to make a big effort to make sure we mark it on the calendar right now to force ourselves to be with family and friends and away from the screens, the drive-throughs, and the garbage. We NEED to take days to cook slow food. Make an actual meal at home to sit at a table and eat with guests and enjoy great conversation. Send left-overs home with those we care about to enjoy later.

We allow ourselves to get too busy with work and family life. We don’t make time for friends and volunteering. That’s backwards. Family life is more full when it includes friends and community efforts. I don’t care what you do. Walk the neighbor’s dog once in a while for Pete’s sake. Yes. I suggest you know your neighbor. Gasp! What a concept! Shovel the driveway for the elderly couple down the block even though they don’t know you and they didn’t ask. Don’t take any money for doing it. Just smile. Make new friends. Guess what? You weren’t on a screen for a few minutes, you got some exercise, and you made someone’s day.

The world is full of things to do besides our jobs and the smart phones. GO see a friend. Yup. Just. Go. Do. It. I did. I’ve missed it. Yes, I’m the one without a job. I know she’s a busy person with a job and teen girls who keep her on the run. It makes it very difficult to grab any time to get together. I finally saw her car at home when I was on a run to get milk. So, I just simply stopped by. Is that rude? Maybe. Was she busy? She didn’t say she was. She IS the type of person to let me know if she is. A few minutes later another friend of hers came over, too. The three of us chatted for several hours. Not only did I get to see my friend, but perhaps I made a new one.

It had been quite a while. In fact we had only seen each other I think once in the past year or two. We follow each other on Facebook. We “like” each other’s posts from time to time and might post a comment here or there, but we just couldn’t find time to get together. We also each had things going on. Some pretty serious things to deal with. A few years ago we had a falling out over politics. I still have some reservations that we will never see eye to eye about some pretty heavy stuff. However, I think we really could have helped each other deal with and been there for each other with these serious things we’ve gone through in the past few years if we hadn’t been so stubborn.

We’re not besties, but I sure do miss the fun times and the conversations. We used to have game nights and movie nights and heck, just sit around the fire nights. It’s nice to have girl’s nights. Ya gotta have some time to have the ladies to chat with, adults to sit and dish with, when all you’ve got at home is a house full of teen boys. I’ve had a house full of teen boys for years now. As a single mom I’m really missing chatting with adults! Chatting through posts on Facebook just doesn’t quite do the trick.

These teens can have their screens. They are forgetting how to communicate. They are forgetting how to BE human beings! I fear humans will lose the ability to actually verbally speak if technology takes over “speaking” for us through screens. I mean, these kids today can be sitting right next to each other and not face each other or verbally speak to each other. They will still text on their phones to talk to each other! It’s amazing to watch. Actually it’s scary.

They can take their screens and shove it! I thoroughly enjoyed my live time with my lady friends tonight. Here’s to doing it more often! (Glasses clinking!)

No Longer On Call

I don’t have the right to cry. Right? When a woman has allowed herself to be used, per her choice, does she have the right to feel like shit?

We tell ourselves we know what we are doing. We tell ourselves we are big girls and old enough to make our own decisions. We tell ourselves we are independent. We tell ourselves that we can take care of ourselves. We tell ourselves that we too can have a relationship where there is just sex and no strings attached. We tell ourselves we can do anything a man can do. We tell ourselves lies.

Is it really a case of; what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? Can we do it? Can a woman really just have sex without involving feelings and emotions? I’ve heard some guys say men can be friends with women and not think of them in a sexual way, and I’ve heard some men say it’s impossible-that men can’t be JUST friends with any woman; they HAVE to think of them in a sexual way at some point. So, for men can sex just be sex even if you’re a friend too, or if you have sex with a friend does it ruin the friendship for sure?

What about the boy toy? Can a woman just have a guy she calls just for a booty call, or will she eventually develop some sort of feelings for the guy or think it’s some sort of friendship?

What I’m getting at is: why the hell does a woman eventually feel cheapened somehow by all of it and guys don’t? Why does a woman still feel lonely after a night of meaningless sex, and guys don’t give a fuck? Why do guys think less of the woman who is the booty call and go on looking for Miss Right? Why do women demean themselves and do the booty call and hope maybe this guy will like me when they really know what the hell it is? Why is it OK for guys to do whatever they want and get applauded for it by other guys, but women get called sluts by guys and women both? Why is sex so confusing?

Why does everyone just have to be made so lonely and made to jump through hoops and feel like shit. Hell, people kill themselves over this stuff. Why is this so hard? Someone has made all this into a game, and it’s not very funny. This big cosmic joke isn’t making anyone laugh. Finding someone to love should be fun. There should be laughing and fun.

Different cultures and different countries have different ways of doing all this. There are places where sex is revered. Sex can be magical. Sex can be sacred. It can bring you to the heights of mystical places if you are with the right partner, you are relaxed, and you can thoroughly enjoy yourselves. It doesn’t have to be a rush job that lasts 10 minutes. There are ways to even make orgasms last for over half an hour or more.

Fewer people are even having sex these days. OK, so the teens are still “hooking up,” but even the college age crowd are hooking up less frequently. The days of free love from the 1960’s are definitely over. It seems everyone is just too cynical about love and relationships. Gee, I wonder how that happened. It couldn’t be all the games that people play, could it? Well, I’m not playin’. This chick is tired and lonely. Been used and abused for too long. Game over.

The Walrus in the Room

Yes, I know the usual adage is about the Elephant in the room that nobody talks about, but there is another more sinister “animal” out there that lurks in the shadows that has come about. Some crass people do talk about it, but those with compassion and courtesy and who were taught “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” will keep their thoughts to themselves.

Not all of us were born with the genetics to look like a supermodel. We don’t have the willpower to eat like a rabbit either and nibble on broccoli and celery all day long either. The idea of starving myself just to placate the mass hysteria of what a woman “should” look like according to some stale male ideal is just NOT in my mind’s selection of best hits.

Being born with a genetic disease that causes my ribs to form a barrel that sticks out a bit more than the average Joe, it can make me “look” a bit heavier as it squishes my fat out the bottom. You can also look at every person on that side of my lineage and we all look the same: short, squat, and big tummies. No matter if we are in great shape physically or not, we carry our weight in our mid-section. Yes, we look like pears, or Walruses. Average sized heads on top and not necessarily overly large breasts (there are of course some, we’re not cookie cut-outs,) then the big middle, and slim back down to the legs, with these flappy things called arms sticking out on the sides.  Sound like a walrus?

So, OK, if we gain weight and get overweight, we gain it in the belly area. Nutritionists and doctors will tell you this is the bad area to gain weight. We already have medical problems due to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta, now add the heart disease issues. I also have fibromyalgia and arthritis. I am supposed to work-out, get exercise. When you’re in chronic pain what kind of exercise can be a good question.

Yoga anyone? People with big breasts complain about trying to do yoga saying their breasts get in the way. Try doing some of those poses with a belly you can’t get around and joints that won’t move. I’m not saying I don’t want to move them due to pain. I’m saying they WON’T move. Some of them have been broken too many times. Calcium build up or bone spurs cause them to NOT move. Sometimes there may be pins, screws, plates, or rods in the way. So, how am I supposed to lessen the big belly? I am not going to starve myself. We must modify yoga poses. We still get some benefit from the poses. It’s still better to do what we can, than not do any of them at all. On days when there’s not too much pain stopping us. You ladies with the big breasts? Bring it on! Bunch of complainers.

“Oh I can’t find a bra to fit.” Oh whine. I can’t find parts for my wheelchair that I can afford. Cry me a river.

Sorry. I get carried away by what some people whine about in our first world problems. I keep looking until I find what I need, because I can. WE can, because we live here and not in a 3rd world country.

Anyway, next try: swimming? Try to find swimsuits for walruses and then actually go out in public wearing them. The same goes for the clothes in the yoga classes I s’pose, but I just wear sweats there. I don’t go in for the skin tight yoga pants and tiny workout bra in public. What’s the problem? People! Yes, they DO talk. Apparently they didn’t listen in Kindergarten when they were told it’s not polite to whisper about what people look like. Heck, some of those people will talk out loud to each other about what you look like. It’s not nice.

Who said workout pools and spas and yoga places were for fat people? Do you see a lot of fat people there? Not usually. They are full of skinny people wearing the latest workout fashions built for size zero people. Know what else they do? They take pictures and send them to their friends on social media! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to end up “trending.” Even if you go to the beach to try to do your workout in a lake or river you have to deal with rude adults and children. “Look at the whale trying to workout!” No, I am a walrus.

Tai Chi Chih can be OK, if not a very good cardio workout. If you haven’t heard of it it is a series of 19 movements and 1 pose that together make up a meditative form of movement to which practitioners attribute physical, personal and spiritual health benefits. Obviously this is a lesser physically stressful version of Tai Chi. This can be done by the elderly in nursing homes, so I should be able to do this, right? Sometimes the nerve pain in my shoulders can NOT even handle this! Doing Tai Chi Chih on one particular day sent me to the floor in excruciating pain. OK, I could do the leg stuff, but not the arm stuff. It really sucked. Kinda hard to get to the spiritual health benefits when you’re on the floor “praying” for the pain to stop.

I have pah-lennnn-teeey of physical therapy exercises I’ve learned over the years that I’m supposed to do at home. Just need the willpower to do them. You know, this is why yoga and all those other things are done in groups. People like to do things in groups. Part of it is about the socializing of it all. Actually being able to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE would be nice once in a while. I know, a person learns what PT they are supposed to do one-on-one with the therapist, then they are supposed to keep it up at home. Boring! Why can’t they get together with other people who are supposed to do the same type of PT and do them in groups? We could tell each other if we’re not doing them right. Breathe right. Tighten our core. Get some needed socialization, too. The best part; no one to be there to mock us!

You know what those walruses sound like, that barking sound they make? They can get really noisy when they are in a group. When they are in a collective group they are called a herd, pod, or huddle. They do indeed sound like they may be mocking each other sometimes, especially when they call each other out to fight. Maybe I’m not the walrus. Maybe the dark animal lurking amidst our society that makes us feel not right according to the way we look are the walruses, lying around in their huddles mocking everyone by how they look. Their “barking” is annoying and I say we ignore them, dress however we want, and exercise however we can. If they’re the walrus in the room, then what animal am I?

I’ve Found Bigfoot!

Now, before you get all excited and start waiting for me to download great pics of this thing I have to warn you-it’s not what I expected at all. As they say a lot in Hollywood movies, “I thought you’d be a lot taller in person.”

For starters it’s a She and only about 5 ft. 1inch tall and lives in MN. She doesn’t really have a very big foot at all. Only ’bout a size 7 1/2. I guess she could kick your ass with it though. It would depend on just how badly you had pissed her off and what day of the week it was and what the weather was like. She can get a little ripe. That depends on several factors. Apparently taking a shower can be painful.

OK. OK. I give up the gag. You’re too smart. Yes, it’s me. I can get as hairy as the Hendersons (insert movie reference.) It’s really not my fault. I blame the Osteogenesis Imperfecta! I blame the fibromyalgia! I blame the Joint Hypermobility Syndrome! I blame my gad dern body. It just doesn’t want to obey. I have several medical/physical issues that cause chronic pain.

Chronic pain can cause even the most mild human being to roar like a forest monster. The poor cashier at the grocery store won’t know what hit them when I’ve been through their isle on a bad pain day in a hurry to get home to my comfy chair. The phrase “bit their head off” comes to mind. Sound a little bit like a grumpy hairy monster-like fellow?

The fabled beast has been noted to walk funny, or have a rambling gait. I have no idea why HE does, but my mobility problems are because I have bone spurs all over the place and arthritis in my joints. That causes me to walk slowly, rambly and funny and makes people get mad at ME! Well, toot toot, go around me if yer in such an all-fire hurry. Geesh. I try to stay close to the side if I’m going up or down stairs just so people CAN go around me, but I still have to listen to their grumbles about my slowness. On the days when I’m in a wheelchair; holy cow are people rude!

I’d like to see the big furry guy in a wheelchair. I’m betting no one would be rude to him.

Even if he smelled like a boy’s locker room. Well, I don’t get THAT bad. There are times when I have to go a few days without a shower. I just can’t lift my arms high enough to wash, or I just can’t climb over the side of the tub to get in. Especially in the summer this can lead to some smelly situations. I can’t afford to have A/C, so my house averages about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can understand where I’m leading about the smell? A few days, or weeks, of sweating in my bed and not being able to change the sheets by myself…you get the idea. I don’t even think the Yeti would want to come cool me off.

Without being able to wash means, yes I also can’t shave my legs. Good thing no one is currently running their hands up and down them except me. To put lotion on! Wow. Get your minds out of that gutter! So, anyway, I am quite furry and alas the Bigfoot sighting. It’s been a while now. You know what it looks like when you’ve had a cast on your leg and you get it taken off? You grossed out now? Well, it’s not THAT bad yet. Just thought I’d give you a fun visual. LOL! Not quite man-hairy, but not very lady-like either.

This is no way for a single woman to live. THIS is not very “come hither-ish” quality to catch a good date. Ya think? How ’bout that bigfoot? Think I could catch him? He might be available…

Don’t Ask Me how I Am

 People don’t really want to know how you are when they see you and say, “Hi, how are you?” It is just a greeting. They really don’t want an answer. Not an honest one anyway. They don’t want to know how you are really feeling, or how your day has been. It is supposed to be met with another, “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?” Whether you are really fine or not. I must be very weird, because this has always bothered me. I never know how to answer. I can not just say the required, “fine.” In fact, I seethingly hate the greeting all together!

It requires a lie as an answer! No one is “fine” every day of the frickin’ year! I have a problem with lying. I just can’t do it, so I can not answer this greeting. I might reply, “Oh, Hi. How are you and ?’ and simply skip an answer altogether or just say, “the usual.” Let them guess. I try to not use the greeting when I run into friends I see.

I might ask “how is your day treating you so far today?” The difference is though, I actually mean it, and I do want you to answer. I like to take the time to know how my friends are doing, even if their answer might be negative or sad. Here in the U.S. of A. we are always in so much of a rush. “How are you,” is supposed to be used as a quickie greeting with a quick response so we can make a quick getaway. We could learn something from our Anishanabe neighbors about  slowing down a bit to find out how our friends and family are really doing, honestly really doing. Taking the time to stand on the street when we see them and really mean it when we say, “Hi, how are you today?”

I guess I also learned that from having a foreign exchange student in my home. Europeans take a lot of time around meal times to talk to each other and really check in with each other about how they’re doing, what’s going on in their lives. When they see a friend or family on the street it’s like a reunion! Hugs and kisses, then lots of talking, and then more hugs and kisses, even if they saw each other only days ago! I really miss Eleonore. We had a lot of great talks.

Well, when you see me at the mall, please, I’m not being angry or bitchy or rude when I don’t answer your, “how are you” as you quickly say “hi” as you continue to walk past, I just know you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to chat. I’ll smile and nod, but I am “the usual.”