Category Archives: Arizona

View from Nowhere

The news makes you feel terrible and guilty and ashamed. But you jones for more, popping outrage or fear or morbid curiosity like a junkie on the good shit. These dealers don’t disappoint—they even give it to you free. Brought to you by advertising. Advertising makes you feel terrible and guilty and ashamed. What a loser I am, I’ll never have this thing or travel to this place or wear this style.

Consumerism appears to be a misery-based system, a distortion of reality as unnatural as big fake boobs, yet we desperately need the what’s left of the jobs that make it happen. This polarization of principles is so ingrained we think it’s normal. Exactly how much is the politically correct amount to enjoy life? Is the key to happiness acceptance or aspiration? Gratitude or greed? Or is it just being true to our own delusions?

In an endless cycle of madness, the news stories that sicken us when exposing sweat shops, diamond mines, factory farming  and all forms of human and ecological exploitation are bankrolled by the same companies that produce and advertise these products from hell. Many of us in our hearts feel manipulated. Some of us become freegans by necessity, some really try to break free, and many are just owned by the system—the cult of the follower. In some futuristic world it will be politically correct to effect a global campaign against overpopulation but until then, the planet convulses in desperate imbalance.

I took maybe a thousand pictures this year, making up blog post titles as I went, but in the end none seem worthy of more than a caption. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I have too much. And with the holiday season coming up, I may well augur my head firmly into the hard red Arizona sand, as I don’t wish to get caught off guard hyperventilating through some evil diamond ad or cringing at Black Friday anarchy videos. Consumerism is like a chain of mob bosses, each rung generating new predators in the midst of hard-sell hysteria.

So what is real? For me it’s a brief moment of relief from routine gloomwatch. A blink of anti-bleak. A lizard-brained lapse in my neuro-guerilla-theater-of-the-damned. Here are a few of those moments.

Alligator lizard in my driveway—looks like a snake with legs.

One of my customers throws apples out into his yard at night and they're always gone in the morning. He got a birdcam and we are thrilled to discover who's eating them!

One of my customers throws apples out into his yard at night and they’re always gone in the morning. He got a birdcam and we are thrilled to discover who’s eating them!

What's better than an elegant little gray fox? Two of them.

What’s better than an elegant little gray fox? Two of them.

This has got to be the offspring of an adult regal horned lizard I've seen in my yard in previous years. I am so honored. I keep my water stations clean and they love it.

This has got to be the offspring of an adult regal horned lizard I’ve seen in my yard in previous years. I am so honored. It means I’m doing something right.

Saw this old cowboy traveling down Hereford Rd. with his packhorses.

Saw this old cowboy traveling down Hereford Rd. with his packhorses.

He was a seriously cool guy. Just rides around the country. He gave me a paper about a Christian organization whose purpose is feeding people. I gave him $10 and some directions.

He was a very cool guy. Just rides around the country. He gave me a paper about a Christian organization that feeds people. I gave him $10 and some directions.

Best monsoon ever this year. So many frogs and toads and critters of all kinds. Our driveway is a popular spot because the porch light attracts lots of yummy insects.

Best monsoon ever this year. So many frogs and toads and critters of all kinds. Our driveway is a popular spot because the porch light attracts lots of yummy insects.

A curious leaf bug

A curious leaf bug

The swallows came as they always do and had two broods on the porch light. The juveniles like to snuggle as long as they can, until they're almost full grown.

The swallows came as they always do and had two broods on the porch lamp. The juveniles like to snuggle as long as they can, until they’re almost full grown.

Right before the swallows leave for the winter they are very active and busy. They must be planning. The parents and their two broods of three (one died) gathered on the street cable beginning of October, and then they were gone.

In the days right before the swallows leave for the winter they are more active and vocal and close-knit than usual. Then the parents and their two broods of three (one died) gathered on the street cable beginning of October, and then they were gone.

I borrowed my customer's birdcam and got the best pictures of the Mexican longnosed bats since I've been here.

I borrowed my customer’s birdcam and got the best pictures of the Mexican longnosed bats since I’ve been here.

I wasn't able to record their acrobatics as well with my camera as well as the birdcam does.

I haven’t been able to record their acrobatics with my camera as well as the birdcam does. Look at the barren mulberry trees—we had a Tussock’s caterpillar plague that stripped every mulberry in town. That’s another story.

The birdcam picked up these javelinas too. Nobody really wants them in their yards though because they can be aggressive.

The birdcam picked up these javelinas too. Nobody really wants them in their yards though because they can be aggressive.

I've been going over the border more for a couple of reasons. There are so many strays, it's so depressing. I could not walk by this emaciated, sick little guy I saw on the street. I picked him up and took him home. I thought they might give me some trouble at the border crossing but they didn't.

I’ve been going over the border more often for a couple reasons. There are so many strays, it’s so depressing. I could not walk by this emaciated, sick little guy I saw on the street. I picked him up and took him home. I thought they’d give me trouble at the border crossing but they didn’t.

Here he is a week later, healing physically and mentally. I can't keep him so when he is fully healthy he will make a loving person and wonderful pet. Border Animal Rescue (praise them) are helping me with his vet bills. He weighs four lbs. and how he ever survived on the street is a mystery.

Here he is a week later, healing physically and mentally. I named him Dante. I can’t keep him so when he is fully healthy he will be adopted into a loving home. Border Animal Rescue (praise them) is helping me with his vet bills. He weighs four lbs. He probably wouldn’t have survived much longer because it’s so cold at night now.

Jada, Blitz, Rabbit, Mops. I don't know why people are always saying cats and dogs don't get along, or that you have to be a dog person or cat person. It's a stupid myth that needs to be let go.

Some members of my family, Jada, Blitz, Rabbit, Mops. I don’t know why people are always saying cats and dogs don’t get along, or that you have to be a dog person or cat person. It’s a stupid myth that needs to go.

I was walking out in the scrub with Jada and met an earthy woman who showed me her home. It's an honest to god mud hut complete with outhouse. I had no idea it was there.

I was walking out in the scrub with Jada and met a woman who showed me her home. It’s an honest-to-god mud hut complete with outhouse. I had no idea it was there.

To Whom It May Concern

Sometimes having a blog with your name plastered all over it can hold you back from what’s really on your mind. When personal crises hit, you desperately want to write about them, but you can’t because you feel watched, like anything you say may be used against you. The same holds true for political opinions.

I’ve been a dimsel in damstress. The curl of smoke over my head rises from an existential blast zone that craves discussion, but I stand stupidly speechless. My honesty, phrased as diplomatically as a seasoned observer of crazy can express, has cost me. When a relationship—whether it work, family, friend, or love—demands more of your soul than you are able to give, we have the right to bow out. Wouldn’t someone want to know why? Not if the parties you’re dealing with are controlling, narcissistic, or immature, and you find yourself the target of blame-laced, ego-driven invective. These true colors, in shades of infection, necrosis, and death, cannot be countered. It’s like trying to respond rationally to an internet troll. I make my choices and take my beatdowns. But I will never, ever respond—that’s exactly what they want.

But frankly, this self-imposed whining freeze is getting old.  Thought I’d start with a few minor rants and work my way up.

Clicking around the blogosphere can be painful. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at one blogger’s About page which read ‘I’m a journalist and shit.’ It hit me hard that it’s a different world now, and helps explain the following sparklers seen on my home page…

By journalist who wants to be a pulp fiction writer:
The mayor has journeyed into swamp-like depths to help people stranded in buildings overlooking the murky waters that flooded their homes and their lives.

By journalist assigned the end of the world story:
World survives Maya apocalypse

By journalist covering the NYC subway beat:
Man faints in NYC subway, not struck by train

We have these ‘After 5’ walks in my town where the shops stay open late. Here’s a press release that showed up in my inbox a few months ago:

Xxxx Originals Gallery is having a Spring Fling and tossing out artwork at incredible prices! New artwork is on the way so we’re flinging out anything that’s been just sitting around. This is a great time to pick up fabulous deals on really spectacular artwork. So come in to the gallery and catch the deals we’re flinging out the door!

So where’s the What Not to Say to Starving Artists article?

I don’t agree with people who insist that humankind doesn’t have choices. If it is the custom of a culture to beat women, and for the acceptance of this to be passed down to sons and daughters, that may make them good citizens, but not good humans. Your culture is not an excuse for your cruelty. If beating, burning, cutting, raping, or murdering your wife or daughters, or the wife or daughters of your neighbors is the custom, and people defend it as that, then we may as well throw the words good and bad right out of the dictionary.

We saw these three beautiful babies on Carr Canyon Road about two weeks ago and stopped to let them cross. The mother had already crossed—but there must be several.

My yard’s been full of cactus wrens this year. They’re not usually so gregarious. Look at this silly nest they built on the tip of a branch—it barely contained them.

I’m fascinated by what people have in their refrigerators, especially when I’m asked to clean them. I arranged this little composition that I think covers all the food groups.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a ghost bike, on a nearby rural road.

My town recently got its first pot dispensary. Some people with medical marijuana cards are annoyed though, because they’re no longer allowed to grow a few plants in their yard, but must patronize this place and pay big bucks. If you live within 25 miles of a dispensary, you have to do business there.

Our precious hardwoods are being defoliated by caterpillars. I think they’re webworms but please correct me because it’s hard to find pictures that look exactly like this. Plus, there are about three different kinds eating the trees—green, yellow, and black.

Check out their suction-cup feet, perfectly designed to climb trees and eat them. They’re everywhere, in house, driveway, yard, laundry shed. At first I thought they were cute—until there were thousands.

Caterpillars in driveway with their scat, which is also everywhere.

This enormous western polyphemus moth was found already dead in a customer’s garage on Carr Canyon Road, a Coronado Nat’l Forest road near Sierra Vista.

This javelina came right up to our car, then stalked off when we didn’t feed it. I think javelinas are beautiful and mysterious, like all wild animals, but I just read there is an aggressive pack in Tucson that is slated to be shot. This is what happens when animals’ habitat is destroyed by humans.

I saw this regal horned lizard in my yard just a few weeks ago. Kind of a rare sighting, they’re only found in southeastern AZ and Mexico.

We’ve had a incredible monsoon this year, in fact it’s not quite over. I’ve never seen this many tiny frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, bats, birds, rabbits. There was even a huge barn owl couple who sat on the street wires all summer and made these funny shrieking sounds. The hummingbirds go to bed at nightfall, then the Mexican long-tongued bats shift takes over and drains the feeder, which I refill in morning. Every night I stepped closer and closer to the bats, to where I can stand within a few feet of them. It’s awesome.

We’ve had a incredible monsoon this year. I’ve never seen this many frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, bats, birds, rabbits. There were even two huge barn owls who sat on the street wires every night all summer and made these funny shrieking sounds. The hummingbirds go to bed at nightfall, then the Mexican long-tongued bats take over and drain the feeder, which I refill in morning. Every night I stepped closer and closer to the bats, to where I can stand within a few feet of them. It’s so awesome.

Artifacts of Madness

I come with a lot of baggage but it ain’t Louis Vuitton. It’s not even the kind with the little wheels. I schlep it around kicking and screaming.

COVERS OF WOMEN’S magazines at the checkout counter:  Drop 2 dress sizes in one week!  Next line:  Chocolate cupcakes to die for! Look inside and see the Ask the Doctor section. I have a large mass growing on the side of my neck. What should I do? Here’s a suggestion—why don’t you go get a big pair of shears and cut it off?

THE NEIGHBORS I have the restraining order against had their water shut off the other day. You can always tell a shut-off compared to a meter reading. Readings are done methodically by street. Shut-offs require the serviceman to wrestle with wrenches and rusted knobs. Next thing I see cop cars racing down the street. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what happened—the serviceman called the cops because the homeowners came out and harassed him. Maybe threatened him, who knows. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen to some poor schmuck trying to do his job. They need to start hiring tough guys, like repo-men, to shut off deadbeats’ water.

SERIAL LIKERS: I will never click on your blog. I have disabled ‘likes’ from my posts but there is no way to disable them from the reader feeds. But your robo-likes will no longer show up on my blog. Here’s an idea: why don’t you try writing something? I’ve clicked on a few serial likers’ blogs and found hundreds of comments on their About pages. I thought, wow, they must be good. But this is what you see:

Thank you for liking my post!
Thank you for liking my post! I’ll be back!
Thank you for liking my post! You rock!
Thank you for liking my post! I’m following you now!
etc., etc., blah blah blah

Please go do your part to keep Facebook shallow.

RECENTLY AN ACQUAINTANCE told me I need to kiss more ass if I want to be successful. He said it was part of the job. Sorry but I can’t do that. He said, fine, but are you happy? Uh, like kissing ass is going to make me happy?

Every now and then I put an ad in the paper advertising my housecleaning service. And every time, I dread answering calls because the cheapest people in the U.S. live in Arizona. They’re used to cut-rate labor and have no clue what a really clean house is, performed by an ethical person. I think of each cleaning job as a work of art that I sign my name to. Last week I placed a completely different kind of ad entitled Not Like Other Housecleaners. This time I wrote what my requirements are, and included a minimum price. I can only do one house per day. It was a little snippy but I’m sick to death of retired people following me around like I’m going to steal something,  interrupting me, asking me are you almost done? and forcing me to listen to CNN. It’s oppressive and I can’t do it anymore. Well damned if I haven’t been getting calls all week from really nice working people. I don’t have to fear returning calls, they already read the ad. I don’t know what the moral of this story is—maybe don’t kiss ass, it’s not worth your self-respect.

A bathroom I was asked to clean. I passed. I have cleaned for people who treated me like scum—lucky for them, I don’t name names. I did laundry for a local couple who were very nasty to me. If I showed the pictures of their laundry (which I had to pick up with rubber gloves and a stick), you would get sick. But not as sick as I.

A keyboard at a jobsite.

What I find on my front lawn in the morning. Gosh, I’m so glad they switched to Bud Light. Even f*cking a**holes need to watch their waistlines!

A neighbor’s yard.

A friend’s garage.

You don’t have to have doors or hoods on your cars here.

Only in B*sb**. 

This newspaper, from a very liberal city we visited in the Pacific Northwest, tossed around the word ‘anarchy’ like it’s The Big Solution. A tidy, anti-gun city  with mowed lawns, no litter, no smoking, and thousands of conformist students all with the same unkempt look, all on their phones. How do they know what anarchy is? They should come down here to the border to see it in actual use. First thing they’d do if someone threatened them is call the cops. Then they’d run back home to their mamas.

Look at the bottom line on the bus. Religion OR reality? I don’t get it. Are they saying people need to make a choice, pick one or the other? What kind of message is that?

My Desert Urchins

The kids in my rough-and-tumble neighborhood range from horrid little beasts to precious souls who just need a chance. Some of them remind me of myself and so many of us from our generation when we were young. They experience life head-on instead of through smart phones or computers. They know every shortcut, dirt road, and chained dog in the neighborhood. There’s not an ounce of fat on them. There are a couple of tough little girls I’ve befriended as they make their daily rounds looking for work. Now they love to come over and play with my dogs and cats as well as performing easy odd jobs, such as sweeping the carport or raking up storm debris. They show their gratitude with hugs and affection and hundreds of thank yous.

These kids are wise and aware and full of curiosity about their world. These are not the kids who take sticks and bash swallow nests full of babies, these are kids who know every dog in the neighborhood and how its being treated—and care deeply when they see abuse. The downside of this is they report these facts to me as if I can fix it all, and that’s just not possible, so I often end up distressed from an overload of depressing information.

What I love most about my girls is their complete lack of the expected sense of entitlement that Americans have become notorious for. They don’t even consider using the small amount of cash I pay them to buy things for themselves, they give the money to their caregivers. They ask for rides to the Dollar Store to buy toilet paper and laundry detergent and other necessary household items, not personal gifts for themselves. I see the stress in the older girl as she worries about shut-off notices and unemployment and things kids shouldn’t have to agonize over. I know of spoiled young adults who’ve wanted for nothing financially whose bad behavior is excused because their parents are divorced—are you kidding? Get over it.

Lately my girls have been on foot patrol and I learned their bikes are in such disrepair they’ve given up trying to ride them. I got excited about providing them with safe transportation that will give them the freedom to roam without stressing over broken seats and shot inner tubes. I asked around town but couldn’t find anyone who had used bikes to donate, so I went on Craigslist and found two nice girls’ bikes for $10 each…but had to drive to Tucson to get them. The bikes were well cared for by a bike-loving family whose girls had outgrown them. The urchins love them but I think I love seeing them flying around the ’hood even more, and always with a tailwhip stop at my house. They’re so damn cute.

But, like other kids living a lifestyle of lack, they have a streak of con artist in them. The other day I came home from work to find they had cleaned the little shed that serves as my laundry room, and they were waiting for me in my driveway. I thanked them but told them they shouldn’t have done that without a mutual agreement first. When they asked to be paid I had to say no. They did this through a combination of innocence and desperation, and I felt bad, but they need to learn they can’t play their customers for suckers.

In the past few weeks the urchins have multiplied. What started off as two became three, and now four.

The girls love to pose and clown for the camera. I debated whether to post some pictures and finally decided why not.

Not enough bikes!

They love to play with my dogs

Sparkle at the wheel

They love the camera

Don’t mess with Arizona girls! I love guns and archery—it’s all about marksmanship, not killing.

 

The Week in the Wastebasket

Freedom. It’s constantly held up as the ultimate human ideal, the be-all and end-all to the world’s problems.  We pay dearly in money and lives so we can help people all over the world be ‘free.’ Sometimes this means the freedom to abuse the group on the next rung down. So just how much freedom do you want?

You could move here, we have enough freedom to make you puke. Many folks here proudly stand by their freedom to be as annoying as possible because there’s no law against it. In seven years I’ve seen a distinct pattern emerge in my neighborhood—as old people who worked for the mining company die off, their relatives come in and dump the houses for whatever they can get. Still, many houses fester behind faded for-sale signs, and sometimes they are rented. Roll the dice. Sometimes groups of people buy them and turn them into their own exclusive heaps of shit and there’s nothing you can do about it. The houses collect more dwellers, junk cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and outside dogs. They degrade property values and quality of life for the few people left here who still care about the neighborhood.

The cars fly by on my street going 50 or 60, the speed limit is 25. A popular vehicle here is the ‘quad’ (satan.motors.com), a machine that is designed to be out destroying desert life, not raced up and down the street over, and over, and over. Ask nicely? Been there, done that.  So now I’m the girl, in an adrenaline-fueled fit, who firmly planted herself in front of a speeding quad. (I too have the freedom to act like an idiot.) The quad stopped, even though he would have been within his rights to run me over. It was a kid and I yelled at him to slow down. I didn’t know it was a kid, they’re all suited up and wearing helmets. Ten minutes later the patriarch of the clan walked onto my property and threatened me. Of course I called the cops, and a sheriff came. The next day the guy stood in front of my house taking pictures. More posturing, obscenities, cops. I was advised to seek a restraining order, which I was granted the next day. Now, members of the clan drive past my house leaning on their horns and sticking their heads out the window while adopting their best menacing glares.

Why? Because they can. There’s no law against childish intimidation tactics.

A couple days ago I received a summons back to court to respond to the neighbor’s legal appeal that the restraining order be dismissed (we all have the right to this). I hate living like this so I was prepared to drop it, under the condition that I be allowed to have an amicable, or at least neutral, conversation with the guy, with a mediator. I was feeling relief. All I want is for them to have some respect for their neighbors. When you move into a neighborhood, trash your house and yard and use the street as your personal racecourse, you have to expect that some neighbors will find this unpleasant. No, it’s not life-endangering—except for our collective blood pressure. I’m not the only one who has called the sheriff. They’ve pretty much alienated what’s left of our little swath of people who give a shit.

I sat in court waiting and thinking. This isn’t a power struggle, this isn’t about control. Trying to maintain your home as a haven instead of a snake pit by seeking just a tiny bit of respect is a basic human desire—but not to some freedom-lovers. I waited, the judge waited, the stenographer waited for half an hour after the appointed time. The neighbor never showed up. He went through some trouble to get this appointment, had the chance to resolve this, and he can’t even man up enough to show.  The judge had no alternative but to let the order stand.

Maybe it’s been bred out of them by the twisted survival instincts of overpopulation, but freedom requires a certain responsibility that many humans simply don’t have. Think twice about asking for it.

OK enough of the dark side. Here’s why I carry on:

Dove in nest tending to her babies.

A customer advised taking a couple of the little plastic tubes off a hummingbird feeder so bigger birds could also enjoy the feast. It worked! Male Bullock’s oriole drinking sugar water. Strength to go forth and multiply!

It isn’t much, but it’s what we’ve got: Wading down the middle of the ancient San Pedro. Local archeological sites date back to Clovis people 12,000 years ago. When we get a really good monsoon, the river floods. It’s a vital riparian gem with enough water to host a huge array of wildlife. Saw lots of raccoon, deer, coyote, javelina prints and scat.

Some parts were deep enough for Jasmine to paddle. Many once-mighty cottonwoods lay across the river, fallen in previous floods, creating pools and dams and little waterfalls.

Tracks of water snakes that swim along the bottom, but I don’t know what kind.

Most of the tadpoles (pic from last May) will be eaten before they reach adulthood, but many also survive…see next pic!

There were thousands of these! One can never tire of witnessing this! Never!

The San Pedro can flood out during a good monsoon. Pic taken a few years ago, recent monsoons have not brought this kind of rise in water.

We had bought this box of Hornady ‘zombie loads’ a while back and kept the box as a novelty to keep on a shelf. But if that bad acid going around Florida spreads out here…

The Last of the Huachucas

I cannot begin to describe the dread in which I witnessed the smoke pouring from the valley west of Coronado National Park this afternoon. I first noticed it at a cleaning job, refused to believe my eyes, but watched in horror as it rose thicker and faster as the day wore on. Cochise County Sheriff’s Dept. reports it started on the Mexican side and quickly jumped the border. The US Forest Service based at Ft. Huachuca has already dispatched air tankers with fire retardant. You can still see great white accumulations of the last year’s slurry all over the mountains—it looks like snow but doesn’t go away.

Last year’s Monument Fire burned 30,000 acres along with homes, businesses, and historical buildings  before masses of firefighters were able to contain it. It took a month.

On top of this, the Great Reconciliation I recently enjoyed with a family member has fallen flat on its face. I came home today to a true-colors email I should have expected. When oh when will I learn to trust my instincts, as I have been doing all my life. If something sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it isn’t.

Guess I picked the wrong day to quit smoking.

New forest fire started this morning around 11 am, taken from customer’s house.

New fire started today, May 8th, as seen from Rt. 92 in Sierra Vista.

School Canyon fire, near Parker Lake west of the Huachucas May 8, 2012. Note the devastation and dead trees in the foreground that will remain for many years from last year’s Monument fire.

The Month in My Sepulchral World

It’s not that I don’t have much to say, rather too much. Most Americans know that something is very wrong.  I’m so troubled by all of it, and it manifests in avoidant behavior.  At least I’m self-whiny though, and try not to inflict it on others, so I anesthetize with work, books, and Netflix.

‘Uncivilization’ coming soon to a town near you
I’ve been reading about ‘preppers,’ millions of Americans who are preparing for the worst.  There are over a million hits for advice, a disturbing gauge of our anxiety as a nation. Preppers believe America is headed for a social, environmental, or financial meltdown. They’re buying generators and storing food, similar to survivalists but they don’t live in the wilds of Montana, they live in the cities and suburbs of America. If I could afford it I’d do the same—every day the news warns us of major upheaval.  Here on the border many folks say your best investment is ammo. Can’t say I disagree.

The CruelPhone5
All this news about iPhones manufactured in China under wretched conditions, and they blame it all on the insatiable Americans. I don’t know one person who could afford a $700 phone. If they didn’t hype these phones, wouldn’t people be content with the amazing phones they already have? Apple has a million reasons for making them in China, many of them absurd. In the end it always comes down to the greedy Americans who won’t work for $17 a day and live in dorms with 20 people sleeping in one room. There’s a high rate of suicide among Chinese workers, so the company sprang into action and installed nets along stairways so they can’t jump off the buildings. Thanks Foxconn and Apple, your compassion is heartwarming.

Yummy!
I was going to make a joke about the word pizzle (steer or other animal penis) and offal (entrails of butchered animals) but I discovered that steer pizzles are a popular dog chew, prepared by stretching, twisting and drying the organ. Here are some quotes from sites that sell them:

♦  The rich flavor and crunchy texture keeps dogs chewing for hours!
  The first time I had Coco sniff one her eyes got big and tail wagged and
she’s been nuts for them since!
  Pizzle stick blowout! ValueBull Jumbo 20% off!

I read further and found many recipes for pizzle and other entrails. One recipe said  first, slice the pizzle open along its length and remove the urethra. That might make your stomach lurch but if an animal has given us its life, the least we can do is eat all of it. What I can’t stand is animals like seals being killed to make powdered pizzle, as well as other species nearing extinction because some cultures believe their horns or other body parts will do everything from increasing virility to warding off evil. Chemical tests show the body parts have no medicinal effect—the pizzle I guess just tastes good.

Boyfriend Story (sorry, the drivel made me do it!)
I dated this baker once, Bob “Shortcake” Pizzelle.  Little guy, looked like a breadstick. He was flaky though, and had this constant glazed look. He kept promising to whisk me away but it was always some half-baked scheme—we weren’t exactly rolling in dough. He was crusty about it and we had a big fight. When he called me an old baguette I had to batter him and insert into a preheated oven. He was pretty mad even though I deliberately undercooked him. As I walked out I heard him whimper, ‘don’t leave, I knead you!’ Forget it, you crumb, this little tart is done.

Insight and Faith
My philosophy has always been to carry on no matter what. Two extraordinary  friends have inspired me recently, their convictions more powerful than any new-age notion promising to autotune your life in five easy steps. It doesn’t work that way. One friend, devastated after just losing her job of 15 years writes:
My circumstances may change greatly, but I’m more than mere circumstances, and knowing that will be my saving grace.

My other friend sent this:
I-91, somewhere between Nowhere and Not Much
Infinite stars on a fine night to ride with a thousand wishes
May we still have the faith to make wishes, and the focus and fortune to be led by their light.

Thank you both for inspiring me, and to all who continue to fight the good fight.

I usually hate all pictures of myself, but I like this one. We met some people on the shooting range who invited us home. We sat around their tiny trailer and drank beer and talked for hours. Look—they even gave me a glass. Barely visible is my .327 Taurus revolver on my hip. When I got my CCW I had to go back a couple times because they couldn’t get clear fingerprints. The sheriff’s department explained that the chemicals I use to clean houses has worn away my prints—it happens. We believe that the right to bear arms is about protecting ourselves from both crime AND the government.

Old wood and rubber wheel in their yard. It was attached to some strange metal thing, like part of a train. We can’t date this or determine whether it was a wooden wheel ‘modernized’ with rubber, or if it was built this way. If you know, please tell me. Note the cut-line in the wooden rim, we think this is how they adjusted the wheel.

The trailer we visited—Arizona livin’ on the cheap.