Home on the Range

There are a lot of things I like about Missouri, having lived here for almost three years.  It’s a pretty state.  I live in the foothills of the Ozarks; I like rolling land, I like rock, I like hardwood forests and rivers.  Many of the things I loved about Kentucky are present in Missouri.

Bluebirds have babies in the gourd out front.  When I went out with Bambi the other morning, I heard lots of noise.  Buddy was in the tree, right above the gourd, and the parent bluebirds were not happy.  He came when I called him, and everybody settled down.

I learned that Mr. Nobody refers to me, in his head, as Dr. Doolittle.  He went to remove a leaf from the driveway and found it was a bat.  So he came to get me.  I grabbed the camera, took some pictures, and eventually, the red bat flew away under its own power.  Red bats don’t hibernate in caves, like others do, I learned later.  I know nothing about bats, other than they freak me out a little, and they are beneficial to the earth.  I have no idea why this one was taking a nap on the driveway.DSCN2726DSCN2727 (1)It makes me smile, though, to be thought of as Dr. Doolittle.  If I could have a superpower, it would be to be able to experience life through other species bodies.  I spend some time thinking about what it must be like to be any number of creatures I see around the property.

Frequently, I get surprised by toads and frogs.  I was doing some spring cleaning and this guy jumped out.

DSCN2734DSCN2732Not very big, almost iridescent. Lovely creature.

Another nice surprise has been the number of butterfly visitors we’ve had.  Monarchs are very early this year, almost beating the emergence of the milkweed they depend upon to lay their eggs.  This is the only plant their caterpillars will eat.

DSCN2737The little white dots on the leaves are eggs.

These are very young caterpillars.  It makes me so happy to see them.

DSCN2739Milkweed is emerging in other spots around the property, and I’ve added some.  I’ve seen a variety of butterflies….some in the swallowtail family, some red admirals, and some very small butterflies that I can’t yet identify.  They do tend to move quickly!

Hearing the wood thrush in the woods.  I’ve never seen one, but their sound is one of my favorites.  I’m also hopeful that a pileated woodie has taken up residence nearby. Been hearing and seeing one recently.  Turkeys are around as well (and I hope they take cover on the property during hunting season).  Hummingbirds are back.

Then you have the disturbing encounters.  Once again, I was outside with Bambi, this time in the back, where I’ve been converting lawn into habitat for critters.  Well, I’m getting what I wanted.  I could hear the leaves moving, then I saw the leaves moving, then I saw this.

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The toad was a goner.  The western ribbon snake had a meal.  I watched some of it.  It took less time than when I watched an alligator eat a bird the size of a duck.

DSCN2748I like toads and frogs, so this bothered me some.  Had it been a rodent of some kind, I probably would have had a different reaction.  Still, as much as I don’t like snakes (or bats), they play a role on earth.

There are lots of things I don’t like about Missouri.

Today, for instance.  Buddy lives outside (he has the barn at night, with water, food, and heat lamps for cold).  I put bug repellent on him religiously, once a month.  But I still find ticks on him.  They seem to really like his neck and his anus.  I can tweeze the neck ticks by myself, no problem.  When they are on his butt, though, that requires the help of Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody is the material handler in our marriage.  He lugs, hauls, packs.  Today, he  put on long pants, long sleeves, and gloves and held Buddy while I tweezed three big ticks off the Budderbutt.  I hate to lose any karmic points, but I admit, I love to light those boogers up!

And, it might be time to admit that Missouri isn’t the most welcoming place I’ve ever lived.  I only have Michigan, Florida, and Kentucky (kind of) to compare it to, as in, I’ve spent some concentrated time in those places.  Missouri would be at the bottom of the list in the people category.  People here are not particularly warm and welcoming.  They tend not to do what they say they are going to do (my measure for trustworthiness).  It’s a pretty backward state politically, and it’s therefore a poor one.  Politicians here are openly corrupt.  My “representative” in Congress, Jason Smith, owned, with his mother, a puppy mill (his mother still owns it).  Missouri is a huge puppy mill state, and Jason made sure it would stay that way when he lead the fight to repeal Proposition B, as a member of the Missouri State Legislature.  Prop B would have imposed some regulations upon breeders. Not onerous ones, really.  People who love animals, those that breed responsibly, are already exceeding what Prop B required.  No, having clean cages, allowing dogs to have time outside of those cages, and so forth, was too much.  No conflict of interest there.

People who rail most against regulations are generally the ones who need it most.  Greedy, amoral, cowardly, disgusting people.  And why is it that they are all “christians”?  Oh yeah, that whole dominion thing….the biblical equivalent to might makes right.  God said, you own the earth, go forth and fuck it up.  Lotta that thinking ’round these parts.

As someone living with a dog that was used as a breeder, I can only look at puppy millers with hatred.  I despise them.

I exchanged a suburban lifestyle for a rural one on purpose and I have few regrets. People, though, can’t be avoided, even though I give it a good try.

 

 

 

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Dark Ages

One of the first things I did upon turning 16 and getting my driver’s license was to make an appointment at Planned Parenthood for birth control. This is called taking personal responsibility, something those “conservatives” are yakking about all of the time.

Obviously, this was a long time ago. Lifetimes. The 1970’s. Well before I knew I was a malfunctioning human female.

I was attending an all girl, private Catholic academy. Very small and intimate class sizes. There were 20 of us in my class; there were less than 100 in the high school.

In this small sample size, two of my classmates got pregnant. I can’t remember if my trip to Planned Parenthood was before or after that. Both girls gave birth and came back to school. We didn’t discuss their absence.

I have good memories of my visit. I remember being in a group of people, learning about the pill, condoms, foam, IUDs, everything….with the statistics on effectiveness for each, the pros and cons of each. I remember no judgment. No agenda. Just helpful information.

I remember I was examined. I was given six months of birth control pills, and I left with a feeling of relief and gratitude.

There was another time I needed them; the details are gone, but I needed a morning after pill. They provided that. They provided privacy. They provided safety.

I had occasion to use the information they gave me more than once. My younger sister came to me one day, with questions about pregnancy and how to avoid it. I went down the list with her.

One of the classmates that got pregnant came to me a couple of years after she had given birth, and given the child up for adoption, asking for birth control information. I shared what I knew and assured her that Planned Parenthood was there for her.

My stepdaughters were told that I would take them to Planned Parenthood no questions asked if they ever wanted to go.

I’ve served on a local board.

I’ve donated to them over the years, most recently in the name of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Two assholes who should never have been born.

Planned Parenthood is a national treasure. It should be honored instead of reviled. If we didn’t have so many shriveled old rich white men in Congress, it would be.

Even the so-called libertarian politicians, the ones who decry government regulations constantly and want small government apparently want it only small enough to fit into a woman’s vagina.

Study after study after study shows that readily available contraception reduces the number of abortions. This is one of those facts that is backed up by evidence. Not feelings, not opinions, not religion. Fact. Those that say they are pro-life but hate Planned Parenthood are not dealing in objective reality. Period.

So now, our Leader, the Liar and Pussy Grabber in Chief has rescinded Obama’s protection of Planned Parenthood and states can now defund them if they want.

Doesn’t matter that federal funds cannot be used for abortion. Doesn’t matter if Planned Parenthood is the sole source of medical care for low income women totally apart from contraception or abortion.

The Dark Ages are coming back with a vengeance.

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Hate

We haven’t lived in Missouri very long, and it took me awhile to figure out what congressional district we live in.  Unfortunately, we live in the Eighth, and are “represented” by a man named Jason Smith, republican.

It’s funny, but I’ve only ever lived in republican districts.  Justin Amash was my previous “representative”,  he of the “freedom caucus” that shuts down the government whenever they are pissed.

I have, of course, googled Mr. Smith and learned that he’s only ever worked for the government he despises, other than owning a puppy mill with his mother.  He’s 37 and single (read closeted and self-hating gay man).  A truly marvelous human being.

Because I like to know what is going on in our hallowed oligarchy, I signed up for his weekly letters.  This one is the most recent, but by no means unique.

Psychiatrists could have a field day with this.

I consider this hate speech and will eventually unsubscribe from him and his hatred.

 

Dear Friend,

On Friday, with the confirmation of our newest Supreme Court member, Justice Neil Gorsuch, the American people were finally able to claim victory over liberal obstructionists in the United States Senate. With Gorsuch behind the bench, we have a Justice who respects personal freedom and liberty. He knows our Constitution is a document that defers power from the federal government to the states, and puts the rights of individuals ahead of the interests of bureaucrats in Washington.

Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has consistently stood on the side of religious freedom and the right to life of the unborn. One of his most notable decisions came in the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, in which Gorsuch upheld that the federal government could not force businesses to offer coverage for abortion services.

Judge Gorsuch echoes the qualities of Justice Scalia, making him the perfect replacement to restore conservatism and balance back to the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia’s seat on the court does not belong to any president or any political party, but to the American people.

But if you’ve watched the news over the past week, you already know that liberals in the Senate have treated Justice Scalia’s vacant seat as an opportunity to put politics ahead of what the American people rightfully asked and voted for in November when they elected President Trump.

The Senate’s work on everything from Trump’s Cabinet to filling Justice Scalia’s seat has been halted by the actions of liberal obstructionists. And you know who loses in that situation? The American people.

Unfortunately, obstructionism is a pattern of behavior from the left. Instead of investing in an agenda that’s best for the American people, liberals in the Senate have given us the longest Cabinet nomination and confirmation process in the history of an administration. President Trump still does not have an Agriculture or Labor Secretary and it’s because the left is continuing to obstruct the process. Right now, President Trump only has 22 of his nominees confirmed. At the same time in the last administration, Obama had a whopping 54 nominees confirmed – more than TWICE the amount President Trump has.

Political tactics from the far left were meant to prevent one of the most qualified judges of all time from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. For purely partisan purposes, they tried to stop the guy who in 2006 had zero opposition from the Senate and the support of senators like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Gorsuch’s nomination should come as no surprise to the left, but they seem to forget that during the campaign, Trump shared a list of people he would nominate to the Supreme Court if he won. The American people took this into consideration, and voted for Trump’s plan when they elected him in November.

The left threw up roadblocks at every turn throughout Gorsuch’s confirmation process. Before this week, there had never been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history. But the liberals tried this anyway, using a filibuster to prevent a vote. I applaud conservatives in the Senate for showing leadership and changing the rules to go around the liberal’s filibuster and bring Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation up for a simple majority vote.

It is time for liberals to move on from obstructing the government and work to advance the agenda Americans voted for in November. With the election of President Trump, Americans proclaimed their desire for a smaller government and less intrusion. They want a healthcare system that actually works, not one with premiums that are higher than their mortgage. They want the IRS scaled back and their tax returns to fit on a single postcard. Most importantly, they want the government out of their business and out of their pocketbook. We must deliver on what the American people have asked.

 

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Profile in Courage

DSCN2729I’m just going to say it: Bambi has a strange little body. She’s built sort of like a swimmer. Her chest is the widest point. Her front legs are bowed and her feet are pigeon toed. She has a long neck and long back. Her feet are tiny.

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Her ears are quite expressive. When she’s alert, they stand up straight and tall. If she’s confused or suspicious, they go back. My favorite is when they go sideways. I have no idea what it means, but she resembles a donkey or Yoda, and it makes me laugh.

She is quite yogic. She stretches and stretches, usually ending with downward dog.

The Chippet does not like storms one bit. The Thundershirt helps (and I would like a full length one for myself) but she still will pace and fret. With our last storm, she approached Mr. Nobody for some soothing. Big step for the little one, to trust a man. She consistently shows more courage than many members of Congress.

We are surrounded by macho male dickheads that are constantly shooting or shooting off fireworks. This stresses her, but a little less these days. I have explained MMDs to her, apologized for them, and she seems a bit more accepting.

She has more good days than bad days now, I think. She has utterly conformed to the system whereby we go outside, she produces some kind of waste product, and gets rewarded. There have been no accidents for months. And, if I have somehow forgotten the schedule, she reminds me now.

Often when we go outside (and Bambi must have a human bodyguard), Buddy will stalk her. He’s about twice her size. She resembles a teeny deer, and he resembles (at least in his own mind) a tiger. He’ll get flat, his tail will twitch while Bambi is innocently sniffing something. Then he pounces. And Bambi just sidles out of the way. I don’t think Buddy has much concept of a dog this small.

There are two different happy dances. One is sort of just wild running in circles or figure eights, and the other is a series of twirls. She does the best twirls. I get to see these more than once a day. Sometimes, she twirls down the hallway when we get up in the morning because she’s so excited to get breakfast. And she loves bed time and will dance on the bed.

I still haven’t figured out all of the shades of meaning in her shivers. Some shivers are fear. Some are of excitement or anticipation. There is a cold shiver. I think she has a nightmare shiver.

She sleeps up against me. It varies from night to night exactly where she will curl up….sometimes it’s against my chest, or head or shoulders. I’m not certain what all her requirements are from night to night, but we’ve learned through experimentation that she doesn’t like being under the covers with me. She needs an escape hatch. Her flight response has been finely honed over the years. So I cover her lightly and trust that my body heat will keep her warm all night and usually it does.

She loves to sunbathe. She loves riding in the car. The best is to sunbathe while riding in the car. And she knows when I’m going out. Right now, the weather is cool enough that taking her along is a pleasure for me as well as her. But I know from last summer that soon enough, I’m going to have to trick her to get out of the house without her. I hate doing that, but I cannot quite justify leaving the car running with the air conditioning on while I grocery shop or whatever. Maybe I’ll get there yet. But the car lulls her, soothes her. It’s when she is most relaxed.

I marvel at this dog. That she can love me, mostly trust me, after all she has been through is amazing enough. But that she’s extending that to Mr. Nobody (who has been very patient and kind and gentle with her) is more than most could expect.

People can learn a lot from animals.

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Predictions for 2017

Every year since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve made predictions for the coming year.

So let me just take the swan dive into the depressing mire and get it out of my head.

2017 will be hotter than 2016, which was the hottest on record, beating 2015, which was hotter than 2014, which was the hottest ever recorded.

First prediction is the safe one. We have passed the point of no return on climate change. Storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, all will increase in intensity and destruction.

The ice continues to melt at both poles; betting on when the Larsen C ice shelf will calve is brisk. The blue ocean event looms. The US Navy predicted 2017 as the time and I’m nothing but patriotic, so I’ll go with our Navy. Our coasts are toast.

Methane releases will surprise and amaze scientists.

Say goodbye first to the Affordable Care Act, then social security and medicare and medicaid. Our new president is not going to fund a single thing that does not directly benefit the one percent. All of the safety nets will have yuge holes in them by the end of this year. Health care is going to cost more money, so the mortality rates in the US will be rising.

Since the middle class is the only one left to loot, we shall be looted. A financial crash is certainly on the horizon; but I frankly don’t understand the craziness enough to know whether it will happen this year or the next.

All of the pipelines currently under protest will be approved and the protesters will be locked up, with the key thrown away, assuming they aren’t killed. All of the mining, all of the drilling and logging and other extractive industries will be ramped up, polluting our air and water. This will contribute to the climbing mortality rates. But, jobs.

Protesting itself will be made illegal. Four states have this under consideration right now, only two of which I can remember: North Dakota and Michigan. My guess, because I just don’t have the energy to research it, is that these laws are being written by the same people who brought us Stand Your Ground and Right to Work, aka ALEC and the US Chamber of Commerce folks, aka the one percent.

Invest in for profit prisons, because they will be growing and hiring. Of course, they won’t pay well, because, well, you know. What the one percent really wants is for slavery to be legal again. So kiss all of the minimum wage increases goodbye. States will tell municipalities what they can and can’t do, and the states are run by the butt boys for the one percent….meat puppets, prostitutes, whatever you want to call them.

Somewhere in here, the United States will be declared a Christian nation. As I’ve said previously, 2017 is going to be an irony rich year.

Suicide will increase dramatically.

At the micro level, we are a more divided nation than ever. I confess, when meeting a new person, the first thing I want to know is who they voted for. This is not all that new for me….I’ve always been accused of taking politics too seriously. It’s funny that people are now starting to catch up to where I was years ago.

In short, this year is going to suck quite a lot.

As the endgame nears, I give less and less energy to the idea that change can happen. Sure hasn’t in my lifetime. Everything I’ve marched for, protested against, written about…..it’s all still happening and now, thanks to Obama, the surveillance capabilities have grown. Dissent is about to be severely curtailed, which will be wasted energy because dissent hasn’t changed a thing in the last 50 or so years.

Human beings are killing the earth. Instead of trying to save it, we’re going to look for a new place to destroy.

As a species, we have been proven to be incredibly stupid. I don’t expect that to change.

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Ice ice baby

The ice storm started Friday night.  It didn’t melt until Sunday night.

dscn2702It was beautiful and spooky.

No neighbors were out with the chain saws.  Very little shooting, either, so it was a human quiet.

dscn2695The ice crackles.  Limbs broke.

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At night, it drizzled off and on, with fog and mist hanging in the air.  Everything seemed muffled, except the ice.dscn2698

We were well provisioned with the necessities and the wood stove added its warmth.

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As we listened to the crackling ice, and as I watched the ice laden and terminally ill trees, I wondered if a tree would hit the house.  As I walked around taking pictures, I wondered if a tree would fall and take me out.

Beautiful.  Spooky.  A little terrifying.

It’s home.

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Thoughts on Standing Rock

At this moment, it appears that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies have won.

I have admired their campaign. They framed their message and kept it simple. They used social media brilliantly. By remaining peaceful, they performed sort of a jujitsu move on their opponents, in this case, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the tool of choice of Energy Transfer Partners.

I doubt the Morton County Sheriff’s Department even today understands what hit them. Every decision they made was the wrong one. Maybe it’s the hangover of the election, but they apparently thought that simply saying something was enough. But when the “water protectors” (and, jeez, how simple is that?) broadcasts live what the police have become in America, I think it shocked the shit out of people.

People like Wesley Clark Jr., for instance.

I’m hopeful that this is a great awakening. I’ve been hoping for a resistance to the constant nibbling and outright whacking away at the Constitution. And again, timing might be in play here. President Elect Trump has not, so far, demonstrated any understanding or appreciation for our Constitution. And a resistance will be needed.

What cannot be underestimated is the extremely high moral ground of Native Americans. Their constant reiteration of non-violence and prayer; their clear message of protecting water, their clear willingness to put their bodies in jeopardy, their constant “join us” invitations…..they were brilliant. That is leadership. That is exactly what is needed. Simple. Direct. Inclusive. Creative.

I hope for follow through. I hope evidence is looked for of collusion between the fossil fuel industry and the Dalrymple administration. I hope indictments, trials and prison time follow. I hope government gets the message that we would like for them to disconnect from industry. None of that will happen, of course.

I fear our government far more than terrorists. They allow threats to our food, air, water every day, in the name of business. We should have resisted this years ago, back in the 1980s.  It might have made a difference then.

Obviously, I hope that the Dakota Access Pipeline, and others, don’t get built, or at least don’t get built near major water sources.

It’s been very educational watching this happen. I’ve been checking the Morton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, and this department’s unofficial motto could be “Conspiracy is unnecessary when everyone thinks the same.”

They all look alike. They all sound alike. Heavy authoritarianism, lots of testosterone, lots of swagger. This is racism, folks. Institutionalized racism. They need to do some recruiting outside the mold. They need new leadership. They need to study the Constitution. They need to understand what groupthink is.

When it was announced that vets were coming to Standing Rock to protect the protectors, there was a moment when the Sheriff’s department tried to discredit the leaders of that group.  That lasted about ten seconds.

The Military Veterans who have stepped up surprised the shit out of me. I did not see that coming. As a child of the 60s, I’ve viewed our military as an extension of our industry. When our industries need something, be it oil, rubber, or whatever, we go to war to get it. The military has allowed itself to be used as a force of capitalism over and over again. So, I don’t generally get all misty eyed over our troops sacrifice. I don’t have close friends who have served.  I’ve sat during the national anthem.

But this action, and some others, have made me re-evaluate my thinking.

I was stunned and yes, awed, by something I saw on Facebook. A small group of veterans felt called to apologize to the Native Americans at Standing Rock for the part their units played in the past of genocide and forced relocation of our First Americans. They had an audience with tribal leaders. They humbled themselves by taking a knee, acknowledged the past, mentioned a few specific crimes or sins, and asked for forgiveness. By their presence at Standing Rock to protect the water protectors, they atoned.

Maybe it’s the Catholic upbringing, but that just killed me, to see that. White men, humbling themselves voluntarily. Has to be one of the most rare, beautiful and moving things I’ve ever witnessed. I could be proud to be associated with that group.

We are going to need a resistance.

 

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