Turtle Love

I keep seeing turtles.  Specifically, three toed box turtles.  They are a land based turtle that is a sub-species of the Eastern Box Turtle.

I’m seeing them so often now that I can differentiate between them.

DSCN2766I named this guy Mitch.  I was wrong, though.  As you shall see.  These markings on the shell are very different than other of the three toed box turtles.  I wonder why.

DSCN2844This is Mildred.  I’ve seen her most.  She hangs out in the paddock, where the garden is, and around in the bird room, where we have elderberry bushes.  Here, she’s on the pool deck, having just had a poop.  Because of Mildred, I can now identify turtle poop from other kinds.  When I see turtle poop now, I’ll say, “all right, which one of you did this?”

DSCN2884Mildred likes cantaloupe, too.  I saw her nestled into the side of one of the beds, and decided to conduct an experiment.  The cantaloupe had been mostly eaten by some other critter, so I put it on the ground to see if turtles would eat it.  Yup.  Using this same method, I’ve determined that she won’t eat green beans, carrots, or cucumbers.  Loves lettuce and cantaloupe and elderberries.  They don’t have teeth, but they do have strong jaws.


DSCN2880I’m calling this one Margaret.  She’s smaller than Mildred, but just walked up this morning to have some berries.

DSCN2861This is Milton.  He hangs out near the little orchard on the east side of our house.  He is much shyer than Mildred, who seems to be the most outgoing three toed box turtle on the property.

Although, not all that shy.  I saw him approach her, and sort of spin her around.  She would try to walk away, and he wasn’t about to let that happen.


I’ve been reading a bit about turtles, since stumbling over them so much.  They are omnivores.  They are very attuned to their environment and are constantly needing to adapt to temperature changes.  They need moisture.  So now I water various piles of leaves around the house, since I see them nestled under a pile of leaves so often. These turtles seem to have adopted certain areas around the house.  It’s been pretty dry.  This is the first time in three years here that I’m seeing 3 to 4 different turtles every day.  It’s cool.  But it worries me.

DSCN2817While eating breakfast the other day, we spotted this couple just outside the window.  Apparently, turtle breeding season goes on all summer long.  Since turtles are sparse, they kinda gotta grab the opportunity to mate whenever they come across one another.


This is how I found out that Mitch was female.  So now, her name is Michelle.

I really don’t mean to be a turtle sex voyeur, but they are doing it right in front of me.  This guy had a style all his own, and he looked to be having such a great time, I took video.  This encounter took over an hour, and I didn’t see the dismount, but she dragged him around a little, and his head would go back and I could just see the thought bubble (Oh Baby!  Yeah!).  The males hook their clawed back feet into the females shell and ride them, literally.



Mildred gets around.

Females can apparently decide when to fertilize the eggs.  So maybe she’s selecting the best of the bunch.  They lay eggs at night in sandy soil, according to the experts.  We’ve only seen one baby turtle in the three years we’ve been here.

According to what I’ve read, box turtles are most active right before or right after a rain.  I’ve seen them after a rain, for sure, but there are at least four different turtles wandering around our house at the moment and we haven’t had rain for days and aren’t forecasted to have any for days.  It’s strange.  I’ve looked in the various books I have and online, and people really don’t know shit.  Some sources say they don’t travel widely at all, others say they can travel 5 to 6 miles a day and that females, in particular, move around to look for the perfect place to lay her 3 to 8 eggs.  Some sources say they can live for over 100 years, others say 50 to 60 years.

Turtles are reptiles and have been on this earth for over 250 million years.  Sorry, creationists.  Box turtles are hinged, which means that they can close up their shells very tightly.  They aren’t born with that, though.  Their shells are soft and unhinged which makes them very vulnerable to predators.

These guys are under threat due to shrinking habitat.  And cars.  And idiots that use them for target practice (which is illegal, but idiots don’t care).

All of the turtles in Missouri are protected, with only two of the aquatic species considered game.  Those can be taken for food only under certain circumstances.

Supposedly, turtles mate and lay eggs in spring.  But all of these matings took place in September.  Maybe this is a last party before they dig themselves a space beneath the frost-line and go to sleep for a few months.

Most of September was hot and dry.  We’ve cooled off the past few days, with highs in the 70s.  I haven’t seen a turtle since.  I miss them.


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Mainlining Books

I’m a book addict.

When events overwhelm me, I reach for a book. Losing myself in a story is the best way I know to cope with the disappointments in life.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Increasingly, here in America, reading feels like a revolutionary act.


Not to brag, but I can and have read a book a day. Not real thin ones, either. I sort of inhale without chewing that first time through. If it’s a good one, I’ll re-read it. Sometimes right away. Other times, not.

I’ve missed some things that way, but I can’t help it. A compelling story grabs me and I’ve got to find out what happens next.

All of which is kind of preamble to confessing that I’ve joined a book club.

I’m not real big on joining anything, ever. But I’ve admitted to being a bit lonely here in the deeply red state of Missouri, and I love books so much that I’m willing to gamble that other people who love books will not be total assholes.

And so far, it’s going okay.  The club meets once a month, for one hour. It’s all white, all women over the age of 50, about 10 or 11 of us. The list is selected in advance. It’s generated by the club members, each one recommending one or two books. I’ve read everything I’m interested in reading from their lists of last year and this year.

I’m already obsessing over how the hell I’m going to recommend one book. One book! That’s torture! There are so many!

And I take the act of recommending a book or an author extremely seriously. To admit to loving a book is a revealing act. It tells what moves you, what makes you think. And there is a jealousy in it as well, because when I read a great book, or a great sentence, I’m jealous of that skill/talent. I only recommend books (or authors) I really love. And, I try to match a book to the reader, if possible.

I was recently introduced to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series. Book one was on my book club’s list for last year. Book two is this month’s read. Well, there is no way in hell that an obsessive compulsive like myself can read this year’s without reading last year’s first. And I found the books sufficiently compelling that I ordered the whole thing. It’s ferocious story telling. Not for the faint of heart, and not because of the violence, of which there is some, but because of the truth telling about women’s friendships, and humanity in general.  The series covers a friendship over five or six decades, and everything that is life is in there.  It was disappointing, but not surprising, that none of the other book club members were sufficiently interested in reading the series, and that most didn’t like the second book.  I don’t fit in anywhere anymore.

The pressure of selecting one book sends me down to my library. The library is arranged so that the non-fiction is on one side of the room, and my fiction is on the other, alphabetically by author. The non-fiction is grouped by subject matter. So, for instance, all American history is on one shelf, despite being by different authors. A Sorrow in our Heart, the story of Tecumseh, is near Washington, for instance.

I’ve got a raft of books about Katrina, all by different authors. A section on plagues and viruses. I get into a subject and read to satiation, I guess. Another large section on the “war on drugs.” More on evolution and the paleolithic. Nature is another big section.  Then there are memoirs, biographies and autobiographies.

Decision number one, then, is fiction or non-fiction? I have no idea how to decide that. Although, it does seem that the non-fiction tends to be weightier, thicker, more pages than fiction. And I don’t want people to hate me for “making” them read a big ass book. Because, as I’ve learned, not everyone reads or wants to read a book a day. I’m weird and I know it.

If I just focus on fiction, it’s worse. There are certain authors I love, just love everything they’ve written. How to select one? I love them for different reasons, none more important than another.

Maybe what I should do is to count how many books I have by one author and pick my favorite book by that writer. That would make Larry McMurtry the winner (21),* and that would make Lonesome Dove my pick for the club. But jeez, Lonesome Dove is 945 pages. I’m trying to make a friend, not enemies.

Genre comes up in our club discussions. Several of us have said that we don’t like science fiction or fantasy. Few of us, even those with grandkids, have read any of the Harry Potter books. I read Tolkien in my teens and never felt the need to re-visit. Comic books I left behind even earlier. Frankenstein is on our list. I’ve never read it, don’t really want to, and haven’t decided if I will or not.

I used to read lots of mysteries, but I get bored with formulaic writing. That happens faster with some authors than others, and hasn’t happened yet with a few (Minette Walters, I’m talking about you).

I’ve read romances, but again, the formulaic conventions get old. Never got into westerns, except for Larry McMurtry.

Though reading needs to be encouraged, it is surprising that some people essentially read the same book, over and over again.   That’s how formulaic some of these genres can get, and is a very good reason to expand beyond genre.

Authors that surprise me are the ones I go back to again and again. Not just with plot, but with insight or humor or a concept or a character; something that stays with me after I’ve finished a book. Most of the writers in my fiction library are white, probably mostly male, but I enjoy the hell out of writers who take me inside of another culture, time, or place.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel an urge to travel.  A good book can take me to a place, share it’s history, it’s culture, it’s people, with a depth and insight no tourist could approach.

But as I’ve said previously, I learned that I’m a middle brow from Susan Jacoby’s book, The Age of American Unreason. So while my reading tastes may not be mass market, I’m hardly an intellectual. There are a whole bunch of dead white guys I’ve never read, and probably never will.

When I’m between books, I get kinda like an addict needing a fix…restless, short tempered, bitchy.  I’m between books, right now.  Just finished Sherman Alexie’s new one, called You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.  It was beautiful.

You’d think, with my impatience, that ebooks would be right up my alley.  You would be wrong about that, and I can’t even tell you why, exactly.  I have a Kindle, and just didn’t like it…didn’t like having to charge it, didn’t like how it felt in my hands…it felt so wrong.  Fortunately, the plastic casing over the wiring disintegrated, and now I have an excuse to not use it anymore.

So, as a reader, I’m still stunned to find myself living in a country that is actively devaluing knowledge, education, learning, and where alternative facts, fake news, science denial, and ignorance of history is preferable to reality.  The Dark Ages were awful enough that I’m amazed people want to repeat them.

Dictators share at least one characteristic in common:  They want to control what people know, what they think, and what they say.  There is a good reason that Mao Tse Tung and his regime burned books by the thousands, closed universities, and otherwise discouraged independent thought.  He said, “the more books you read, the more stupid you become.”

I will take that as a compliment.









*Not everything he’s written, just what I own.

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Gravity Grateful

The rocket was beautiful. In conception it had been shaped by an artist to break a chain that had bound the human race ever since we first gained consciousness of earth’s gravity and all its analogs in suffering, failure, and pain. It was at once a prayer sent heavenward and the answer to that prayer: Bear me away from this awful place.
Michael Chabon, Moonglow



You might have heard that there is a solar eclipse coming on August 21, 2017.

Our area is in a tizzy of excitement. We are smack dab in the middle of the swath for visibility, assuming the weather cooperates.

I now have a new brag….my totality is longer than yours. Here in the bible belt, where denial of science is pretty strong, we will have 2 minutes and 41 seconds of totality. I don’t think there are too many areas that are gonna be blacked out longer than we are. I hope no witches get burned.

We’ve got our handy dandy solar eclipse glasses and I’ll set up a camera on a tripod to take some photos, but other than that, I can’t get too excited. When I look at the stars at night, it’s never occurred to me to want to be anywhere else but right here on Earth.

Unlike many, I have never once experienced the feeling that I’m a “lonely slave to gravity”, as Michael Chabon notes in his latest book, Moonglow. I loved the book, actually, even if I don’t share the idea that it’s Earth that causes suffering, failure and pain. I believe it’s humanity that causes all of that, and one can’t escape humanity in space.

There are a lot of really smart people who think we are going to colonize Mars once we’ve completely trashed the Earth. Elon Musk is gonna save us! Go Space X!

That sounds like a fabulous existence. To never breathe air, to have no trees, no insects, no birds, no sunlight, no oceans, lakes or streams, living underground to escape our complete and total destruction of a world of plenty. If you really want to live on Mars, just wait. Earth will be a lot like it soon enough.

Underground bunkers, completely dependent upon a 4 year travel time span from Earth to Mars…boy, that sounds great! But if you ever say anything like that out loud, immediately you get accused of being anti-science.

If you ever question the wisdom of exporting humanity into space, holy moly, stand back and be told that we must follow our brains wherever they will lead us. Homo Sapiens will not be denied our right to infect the universe with our brilliance!

All of which explains why I’ve never been into science fiction or fantasy as a genre. It’s the height of hubris to think that aliens would come here. If there are aliens, I suspect they are avoiding us with everything in their power. We are trashing a perfectly beautiful planet with our wanton reproduction and consumption and now, with so little left to consume, we look outward for more.

Now, that is a species to keep quarantined. I hope we never make it, for the good of the rest of the universe.

Imagine strip-mining other planets. Won’t that be great? Mountain top removal, drilling, polluting in zero gravity must be a capitalists wet dream. We can export our willingness to kill anything that gets in our way.

Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re on track to burn up or flood pretty much the entire earth within a decade or so. Not enough time to build whatever we will need to build and then transport it to another planet (and Mars seems to be the one we’ve decided upon. Poor Mars). Gonna be difficult to re-supply Mars from Earth when the Earth is depleted. It’s interesting how smart people ignore that reality.

I admit I haven’t been following the mass delusion surrounding Space X, so I’m unsure of what the plan(s) may be for the size of the first colony, but I think we should have a worldwide betting pool on when the first murder happens. I can see someone killing someone else over a can of peaches, can’t you?

The first group would be so carefully selected and vetted and stress tested before being launched out into the void. Four years in a spaceship together and then at least another four underground or in some kind of enclosed space with no possibility of relief in the near term. To be in a human generated human echo chamber for years. That is a prescription for madness.

But, no, I’m not against space exploration. It’s the idea of colonization that seems to me to be a very, very bad idea. We have zero evidence that humans can behave better on another planet. We’ve got about 45,000 years here on earth of evidence to the contrary.

From homo Neanderthalis and the wooly mammoths, extirpation and destruction follow in our wake.

I could get nervous about this, except for the fact that I’m pretty confident it won’t happen. I just don’t think there is enough time left. Especially now, when we have a “leader” as ignorant and hateful as Money Boo Boo.

For me, Earth is beautiful. Existence and life are not the same thing, and life includes water and air, sun, warmth, wildlife, flora and fauna and all that is not man made.  I’m grateful for gravity.



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It’s always been hard for me to tell the difference between denial and what used to be known as hope.    – Michael Chabon, The Wonder Boys



I’ve written several shitty first drafts on the subject of race and racism in America. I haven’t posted them. I keep asking myself what I have to add to the subject, since I’m a middle class white woman.

The answer, of course, is my own experiences.

One of the most revolutionary moments I’ve experienced is drenched in irony.  I was working in a corporation at the time, in human resources, and one of the training materials we used were videos by a guy by the name of Morris Massey, a professor of marketing and sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

His thesis was and is that our values are formed by where we lived and what was going on there when we grew up. Our values are formed by the age of 10 or so. He went on to say that he was born and raised in Waco, Texas, so “of course, I’m a racist.”

That just floored me! A white man admitting to being a racist? I was in my 30s by then and that was the first time I had ever seen a white person admit to being racist.

That has stayed in my mind for 30 years now.

I’ve lived in all-white suburbs and gone to all white schools. I learned about history from textbooks written by white people, taught by white people. Of course I’m a racist.

I could expand this and say that I’m American so of course I’m a racist. I’m not saying this is something to be proud of, you know. I’m saying this because, if we never admit this to ourselves, we will never grow, never learn, and just keep repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again and I’m bored with the same stupid mistakes. I would like us to make some new ones before we go extinct.

Science is quite clear about race: there is only one, the human race. Modern humans walked out of Africa and skin color, eye shape and color, etc., are evolutionary strategies, nothing more. We are all related to one another and we are all related to most everything here on earth.

But America is particularly fucked up. This country was founded on genocide and built with slavery and we have never, and probably will never, acknowledge that past. It’s been, excuse the pun, whitewashed in our history books. George Washington, the richest man in America, the one who lusted after land and was a large slave owner, was the father of our country.  Native Americans called him Town Destroyer. And he was among the enlightened class.

That was just the beginning. It has never ended.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his book, Between the World and Me, notes “My experience in this world has been that the people who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration. And the word racist, to them, conjures, if not a tobacco spitting oaf, then something just as fantastic – an orc, troll, or gorgon…….There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally.”

“Need to be white”…now there’s a phrase that’s made me stop and think. Do I need to be white? Or do I count myself as such because that’s what I’ve been trained to think?

Racism, it strikes me, is a spectrum of beliefs and opinions.

If the tobacco spitting oaf (and the KKK) is on one end of the spectrum, the smooth and likable CEO of any company anywhere might be on the other. These people don’t hate blacks. They just don’t want to live anywhere around them, have their children go to schools with black or brown kids, and only hire them because of those pesky government regulations. They are “the other”. And it is all about comfort level.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, of Bickmore West Virginia, after the election, posted this on Facebook: “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an Ape in heels.” And Beverly Whaling, the mayor of Clay, WV, posted this: “Just made my day, Pam.”

Both lost their jobs in the shit storm that followed. Both women said exactly what every white person has ever said after something like this…..”I’m not a racist.”

Melania Trump is an illegal immigrant, a woman who has posed nude, who may or may not have worked as a high class call girl, and has had so much plastic surgery that she looks weird. She’s lied about having a college degree. And she plagiarizes.

She is white. The “ape in heels”, who possesses two college degrees and was a wonderful first lady, is not.  Michelle Obama, objectively, showed kindness, graciousness, class, but strength, too. If black can’t be admired under any circumstances, isn’t that racism?

Donald Trump’s father was a member of the KKK. He was a slumlord in NYC. What do you think Donald grew up hearing?

And to think I was excited about Barack Obama’s election to the presidency.

I wasn’t so naive to think that racism in America was dead, or even on the run. But I did think it was a huge leap forward, for a country that codified slavery in our Constitution, and counted black men as 3/5th a human being.

I thought we would finally have some real conversations about race and perhaps even become a bit more enlightened.

Wrong again.

The backlash to Black Lives Matter tell that tale.  It seems to be perfectly legal and okay to murder unarmed black men.  Juries refuse to convict cops.

The struggles of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota further illustrate this. None of the police who are protecting the pipeline are racists. It has nothing to do with “the merciless Indian Savages” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and everything to do with enforcing the law, right?

How can it be that we can have racism without racists?

I was born in 1957, so I became aware of the world in 1967-68. A lot was going on then. The Vietnam war predominated, but Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated around that time, as well.

Right around then, I became aware of the Holocaust.

I was waking up to human’s propensity for needing a scapegoat, for needing violence, for exclusion and all of our other less than stellar behaviors. That was not the way I framed it to myself, of course. I believed for decades that people were basically good and that evil existed in only a few.

Live and learn. I’ve done both, and yet, I’m still so surprised, still so stunned that the same shit happens over and over again.

The travel ban and fear and loathing of Muslims….been there, done that. Someone actually asked me (on social media) what was wrong with killing Muslims, since they want to kill us. I responded with common sense: You are more likely to be killed by cancer, an auto accident, or a home grown white guy with an AR-15 than you are by a Muslim.

And I hate religion! Homo sapiens are hardwired to need to tell stories. Religion is just an outgrowth of that. And it’s been used ever since to kill people. It’s strange to defend one set of believers to another set of believers when I think they are all delusional.

Every “ism” is founded in fear.

Today, here in America, it tends to cluster around the Obama’s. People are not rational. It can’t be explained. Objectively, Obama was not the worst president ever. I voted for him the first time and not the second, because I had and have real reservations over drone killing, targeted assassination, and the Patriot Act. Objectively, the ACA came from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, that Mitt Romney used for the Massachusetts miracle. That is one of those stone cold facts. But the reaction to “ObamaCare” is not based upon anything other than race. And simply by reading what republicans say to one another on social media has convinced me beyond doubt that Trump is white backlash. That white hatred is so virulent that they are literally cutting off the country’s nose to spite it for electing a black man.

Slavery was the foundation of western civilization. The slaves changed nationalities, color, religion, sometimes, but slaves did the work so Aristotle and Plato and all those white guys could sit around and think and ask questions. Would the Roman Empire have existed without slavery? Most of us are too damn tired from the fight to survive in this world to do a whole lot of thinking, we’ve just accepted what we saw and heard around us for the first decades of our life. From what I’ve seen of the world in my 60 years, damn few people do much thinking about anything, especially these days. Fewer yet have enough moral courage to examine themselves deeply and find themselves wanting. Fewer still to then make changes.

I have no hope for humanity. That I can be surprised by how awful it is tells me I still have some work to do on the whole denial thing. Apparently, that desire to believe that we are better than our actions is deeply, deeply embedded.



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Independence Blues

Every American politician at the national level has to swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States from both foreign and domestic threats.

Unfortunately, they don’t have to read it.  Or understand it.  Or even, you know, actually believe it.

Oh, they all say they like the Constitution.  They say they support the Bill of Rights.  They say they love freedom and liberty for all. But actions tell the tale, always.

So, I pay attention to how the ACLU rates my “representatives”.  And as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my congressman, Jason Smith, got a whopping 11% rating.

I’m beginning to understand that rating on a very personal level.

The other day, I checked the Facebook page of Jason Smith.  I do this every day, actually, because I like to stay informed.  I found that I could no longer comment or even like someone’s comment.  Every comment I’ve made on any of his posts has been deleted.  Apparently, I’ve been blocked or banned.

There was no warning.

I am the first to admit that morons piss me off.  So yeah, I can be snide and snarky when commenting.  I try to avoid name calling or threats or other bad behavior.  I am not always successful, especially when Trumpanzee’s start doing their whole alternative reality thing (also known as lying).

But mostly, I don’t engage with the idiots.  I like to post links to articles that dispute whatever lies Jason Smith is telling (and boy, he tells some whoppers).  I’m not trying to reason so much with him (I have no expectations of anyone who can be a puppy miller), but to maybe educate some of his constituents.

If social media has become the “direct” line to the public, then banning or blocking people is a form of censorship.  It is directly a violation of the First Amendment. President Twitler is notorious for loving twitter because he can speak “directly” to the public without “fake news”.  He’s banned whole groups of people, including military veterans.

How ironic is that?

Then again, President Twitler is on record as calling the constitution “archaic”.  I doubt he’s read it.  It isn’t on one page, with bullet points or pictures.  No mention of him in it.

I digress.

I am no longer a member of either or any political party.  I think the two party system is now doing more harm than good.  I think we have to get all the money out of politics if we have any hope of real representation again.  Citizen’s United must be overturned.

But having said that, I will say that the republican party has become a vindictive, repressive, amoral force for corporate interests exclusively and that anyone who supports this party should be ostracized and publicly humiliated for being so stupid.

Whether it’s the first amendment, the fourth amendment, the sixth, or the eighth, republicans have all kinds of strategies and ways to violate them.  And it’s only going to get worse.

I will say, what does surprise me, is that social media is perfectly happy to have public, elected officials censoring content on their platforms.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook “founder”, is fond of a free and open internet…..for him, maybe.  He’s not so zealous when it comes to regular people being shut out of the conversation.




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We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


The shooting of Steve Scalise and three others in Washington DC was the 157th mass shooting in the United States. Followed closely, as in, the same day, by two others.

Now they know, I thought to myself.

Now they know what it’s like to be afraid.

Now they know what it’s like to be afraid where they were never afraid before.

Now they know that they can be shot at at any time.

On a ball field, in a grocery store, in a nightclub, at the movie theatre, in school. Now they know.

And, indeed, there were immediate calls to “tone down the rhetoric” from both the left and the right.

My own piece of shit congressman sent a note out, declaring solidarity with his fellow thugs, and saying “I want to reiterate Speaker Ryan’s statement, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. In the midst of partisan tension, harsh language and political criticism, the violence we experience made us stop, slow down, and remember that no matter what side of the aisle we are on or what policies we agree or disagree with, we are all Americans working every day to serve those we call friends and neighbors back home.”

Really? I would never, not in a million years, have known that Jason Smith considers liberals as people, much less a friend or neighbor. I like evidence, and I have seen none.

He goes on to say, “As we move forward from this horrific event, we must not forget that what makes America great is that we are all different. We cannot allow those differences to bring anger and violence to our doorstep and threaten our democracy.”

Actually, I would argue that our differences are exactly what is bringing the anger and violence.

In the alternative world the republicans live in, the more guns, the better. The more firepower in the hands of mentally ill or violent people is good. They keep writing laws that say so.

Those of us who abhor violence have protested legally and nonviolently to absolutely no avail. More guns. More guns. No regulations! We hate regulations!

More than a thousand women have died so far this year at the hands of their husbands, or significant others. Not all by gun, but many. This is not considered “an attack on all of us”, though.

And, at this moment, a group of rich white men are writing a new health care bill in a back room in secret. It promises to be even worse than the awful bill that came out of the House.


Yes, that’s right. That’s one of the many pictures of republicans celebrating taking health care away from 24 million people. My piece of shit congressman is just to the right and behind the religious fanatic that is our VP.  Of course.  Steve Scalise is also smiling and happy and he’s just in front of the monster from Wisconsin.

Frankly, I’m surprised more congress critters haven’t been shot. They have, essentially, declared war on us.

That’s right, I said it. The republicans have declared war on poor people, women, people of color, senior citizens.

They are saying, “die.” We don’t need health care, we don’t need education, we don’t need clean water, clean air.

According to republicans, the only people that matter are rich white men who contribute to their campaigns.

If you don’t fall into that category, you don’t matter. You can die horribly.

I don’t think I’ve fallen off the deep end to believe this. Just look around. Look at the state of Texas, for instance. They are legislating what health care women can have. If you have a problem pregnancy, where something has gone wrong with the fetus, you are almost condemned to die. Sepsis is a bad way to go, but republicans really don’t care about the woman.

And, look at Flint. How long have they been without clean water? Years! I am totally amazed that no one has taken Rick Snyder out. Seriously, it’s absolutely stunning that people have not killed that guy.


Now, I am aware that this is not a popular opinion. Everybody in power condemns violence. Unless, of course, it’s the police doing the killing or maiming. Then it’s okay. And who do the police protect? Rich white men and their property, for the most part. Just look at North Dakota and what that state did and is doing to people who tried to non-violently protect their water. Please enlighten yourself by checking out Tiger Swan.

It’s open season on Americans who don’t matter. I made the predictions at the beginning of the year and I wasn’t at all wrong. Social security, medicare, medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps…..all the safety nets are under attack. Here in Missouri, our governor is attempting to take away the $10 an hour minimum wage.

Congress has been “borrowing” from social security for so long that they can’t pay it back. Too bad for all of the people who have paid into the fund for years……screw you, Congress is saying.

It’s nothing short of remarkable. The people we “elect” to represent us, hate us.

I can prove that statement. Just check out the letter my “representative” sent out that I shared with you. He hates liberals. Plain and simple. Hates us.

I feel threatened as hell. I’m 60 years old, on the cusp of retirement, and health care is about to get a whole lot more expensive. My government, my “elected” officials, want me to die as quickly as possible. They don’t care if we go bankrupt. They don’t care.

And, we are supposed to sit back and just take this?


Violence is never the answer, according to popular opinion. Self-defense, though, people understand that.

You come to my house and threaten my safety, I’m allowed to kill you.

That is exactly how I feel as I watch these rich white fucks vote to take away everything that life depends upon. You are killing us, legally. Because you make the laws.

Well, fuck that.

Truly, it’s become a war. A war on Americans. A war on anybody who isn’t rich. That isn’t hyperbole, it’s fact.

It’s going to get really interesting, now. As more and more Americans get sick and can’t afford to treat their illnesses, they will have much less to lose. People with nothing to lose are extremely dangerous.

Good luck, Congress. I hope more of you pay for your votes in a really painful way. I don’t offer one thought or prayer to Steve Scalise. I think he got exactly what he deserves.

I can, and do, feel enormous pain whenever there is a shooting of people who don’t have a personal security detail. The men and women at Pulse nightclub. The people at the Aurora movie theatre. The children of Sandy Hook. I feel that pain.

I can’t feel one bit of love or sympathy for a group of people who sit around, taking things away from others. I can’t. Congress has evolved to a gang of bullies who think they are entitled to what the rest of us aren’t. They certainly are doing absolutely nothing to either “insure domestic Tranquility” or to “promote the general Welfare.”






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Range Update

DSCN2764I’d never seen a bluebird up close until moving to the Missouri Compromise. There are a lot of them around. They’ve got a nice sound.  They seem like the kinder, gentler cousin to the robin.

As I mentioned in the Home on the Range post, there was a nest in the gourd hanging in the front of the house. I was enjoying watching them feed their young.

Then we got the storm. Or, I should say, another storm.  Some storms cause flooding and some don’t.  Since we are on high ground, the flooding doesn’t affect us, but the storms sure do.  Climate change, of course, is causing them to become more intense.

After this storm, I noticed that the bluebird activity stopped. We got the ladder out and checked the gourd. Unfortunately, the smell announced what the cleaning of the gourd confirmed; all four nestlings were dead. There is a drainage hole in the gourd, but the nest material was so tightly packed in there, that I think the water just couldn’t drain.

Not one monarch caterpillar survived the storm, either. I’ve been checking the milkweed ever since, hoping to see eggs or anything. Nope. All gone.

I have seen Mitch, though. Mitch is a three toed box turtle that lives in our woods. I’ve seen he and another box turtle that is has a drab shell, so I’m going to guess that the males are the more brightly colored of the two. I love these critters!  Mr. Nobody thinks he saw an alligator snapping turtle recently as well.  I think they are endangered and wish I had seen it.  But isn’t Mitch just a cutie? The other box turtle made an appearance, too, so I included her.


DSCN2790Haven’t spotted the ribbon snake lately and that is okay by me. I did see this guy hanging around the front door. It took a lot of encouraging with a broom to get it to move away. I remain in awe of the size of these.


DSCN2782Butterflies are still fluttering around. They are difficult to photograph, but I got these pictures.



I like the frogs and toads around the property as well.  They come in many colors  and sizes and species.  I think both of these are tree toads, but I could be wrong.

DSCN2793DSCN2798It’s not a regular occurrence, but on occasion, a bird finds its way into the chimney and thus the wood stove. Recently, a male bluebird found itself stuck. The two indoor cats were thrilled with the show, sitting in front of the stove and watching the bird throw itself at the glass. As I was attempting to free it, it flew out and landed at Spooky’s feet. Fortunately, Spooky was just a startled as the bluebird, because I was able to grab the bird and release it.

Then I got some little nets from the pet store, as backup, just in case.

And today, a female bluebird flew into the chimney and down into the stove. I whipped out my net, caught it neatly, and released it with much less drama. I’m so proud of myself!

I’ve seen the wood thrush as well, finally, although it was sad. Both a Swainson’s Thrush and a wood thrush hit the glass windows and fell to the ground, thoroughly stunned. In both cases, Mr. Nobody picked the birds up and set them on top of our big ass Compostumbler. It’s high enough and awkward enough to dissuade Buddy from attempting to jump it. In both cases, the birds left, apparently under their own power. I always worry about internal injuries to the birds that hit the windows that hard and it happens more than I would like.  Last year, a bluebird was deliberately throwing itself into two specific windows (I also see them attacking the mirror on Godzilla, Mr. Nobody’s vehicle) and I tried soaping them up but that didn’t deter them.

Aggressive bluebirds are maybe a nice problem to have.  I sure like having them and all of the other birds around.  I think there is one lone whip-poor-wil in the woods nearby.  It moves around a bit, but there can’t be only one, right?  The pileated woodie and red bellies are still around and making their presence known.  Chickadees seem scarce this year, but I finally saw and heard one the other day.  Cardinals are nesting somewhere near the house, along with robins, phoebes, and other birds.  I can hear them feeding their young.  I like that sound too.

The little annoyances are in full swing as well.  Have pulled some ticks off of me already and have some mosquito bites as well.  They like me, they really like me!  So I’ve been experimenting with homemade bug repellents and weed killers.  The weed killer recipe is vinegar and a shot of Dawn detergent into a garden sprayer.  Doesn’t hurt the locals, tastes bad to the pets, and does a so-so job on actually killing the weeds.

The bug repellent is a bit more problematic in that it contains epsom salts and you really don’t want to spray that anywhere you want to grow anything, ever.  I’ve only used it in the lanai.  The lanai is just a screened area by the pool, but wasps, flies, spiders, etc were still finding their way in.  I tried diatomaceous earth first, laying it down along all of the walls.  Results weren’t good.

So, this spray.  Found it on the internet, promoted by none other than Paul Harvey; a mixture of epsom salts, beer and mouthwash.  Put it in a garden sprayer and sprayed the whole deck floor, all the corners, etc.  It’s supposed to last for 80 days.  So far, I’m pretty impressed.  It’s been over a week and only one little spider to be seen.  Wasps are gone.  At first, I was worried about it staining the composite deck, because I could see spray marks.  But those faded quickly and are gone.

Haven’t put much into the garden, but everything that was planted is doing well, so far.  Radish, lettuce, beans, onions and carrots are growing.  Still need some tomatoes and a few other things.






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For almost three years now, we’ve called the 8th District of Missouri home.

It’s a big district, land wise. Home to 749,444 people (2010 census), of which 92.36% are white. It’s the poorest district in the state. Median income is a whopping $36,965.

The largest city in the district is Cape Girardeau, with a population of 37,941. Which makes me smile, as that is a pretty small city. But only 38% of the population lives in a city in this district.

So, of course, poor whites vote republican. And they voted overwhelmingly for Jason Smith for Congress. He had 70% of the vote in 2016. This district went solidly for Donald Trump.

I googled Jason Smith and his accomplishments. He was best buddies with Aaron Schock, of Illinois, who is no longer in Congress since his lavish spending became an issue. Aaron’s the guy who decorated his office in Downton Abbey. No wish fulfillment there.

Jason and Aaron went to Brazil together.

So, you might be aware of the flooding that has taken place here in Missouri (or Misery, as I’m learning it could be called). Not that any elected governmental official gives much of a damn, but lots of people lost their homes and property in two separate flooding events in 17 months time.

Jason’s Facebook page has been loaded with pictures of him looking grave and concerned, with sleeves rolled up, at various points along his tour of the devastation. He’s not so grave and concerned to actually do anything, except for pose for pictures and offer prayers. He’s not asking for FEMA help, for instance. And neither is Eric Greitens, our new Navy Seal governor.

Jason is not interested in climate change, of course. He’s a big believer in rebuilding. I love that. He supports his constituency so much he’s urging them to rebuild in flood prone areas. He admires that kind of perseverance, which I call stupidity.

He hasn’t held a town hall since before the election, so I’ve not met the man. I’ve seen one video of him. It’s a suitably snarky one, of his pontification against a proposed tax on tanning salons. Jason uses google, and he found out that more women than men use tanning beds, and he felt that taxing them would be an undue burden on women. He said we might as well tax the sun, since it too, causes skin cancer.

He voted for Trumpcare, so that tells you how much he cares about women. Or children. Or poor people. Or people with disabilities. Or veterans (despite his strong strong strong words about vets…he loves vets, he admires vets, he regularly goes on and on about their sacrifice for our freedom. He just doesn’t care enough to make sure they can get health care).

I think I’ve mentioned that his mother is a puppy miller and that Jason’s name was on the business early in his career. Frankly, that alone is enough to make me hate the man with a passion. I hate anyone who hurts animals. That tells me he has no compassion or empathy at all. His mother isn’t an average puppy miller. She was selected by the Humane Society as one of the Dirty Dozen…the worst of the worse. Mary Ann Smith sued for defamation of character and lost.

When he was a member of Missouri’s state house, he lead a repeal of Proposition B. Proposition B passed, was voted on by the citizens of Missouri, to offer some minimal protections to dogs being bred. Awful regulations like, being allowed to leave a cage for a few minutes a day. Jason made sure it got repealed, because he hates regulations and government. He doesn’t care about conflicts of interest, though.

Of course, he’s been a member of government pretty much since graduating from law school.

So, I’ve been giving him some thought. Is he stupid or venal? Is he an ideologue?

He loves Trump. He’s featured in the various selfies taken at the GOP celebration of passing Trumpcare, and has video of shaking Trump’s hand. He went on television to support Trump after the pussy grabbing video came out.

Eeuw. I wouldn’t touch that guy with gloves on.

I don’t think Jason Smith is stupid. He graduated from college early. He’s one of the youngest members in the House.

He’s well funded by the Koch Brothers, of course, and every other extreme “conservative” group. FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Campaign for Working Families, Eagle Forum, National Taxpayers Union, Club for Growth, the John Birch Society and Heritage Action for America all give him high ratings.

The ACLU, on the other hand, doesn’t. They rate him 11% out of a possible 100. Think about that. The Bill of Rights, our Constitution….he doesn’t support that so much.

He gets a big fat 0 from both NARAL and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

None of this is unusual. People all around the country have “representatives” who vote against their constituents and then hide from them. They think they don’t have to engage or explain, that people are going to continue to vote for them because that is what they’ve always done. And, you know, they could be right. That’s what is so downright depressing.

So, that’s our “representative”. As far as I can find, he has offered absolutely nothing concrete to the 8th district. No jobs, for sure. He’s full of words, very short on action, unless it’s reducing taxes and regulations that protect people from corporations.

Embedded like a tick and just as useful.

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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.


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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