Category Archives: Culture

The Bane of a Traveling Companion

Nothing brings out the savage in generally easygoing people like being cooped up in a tiny car/motel room together for a week. On a recent road trip with J, we lurched between arguing and not speaking at all, highlighted by a full-on brawl at 1 a.m. in a rest stop off a California highway that resulted in me refusing to get back in the car.

Money
The biggest issue, as always. The cash we brought lasted a total of two days and the rest of the trip was financed with a credit card. Two fill-ups a day at $4 a gallon equals about $90. A day. Just for gas. Add that to one type-A and one type-B personality, just for fun.

handy clothes-hanging area in motel room

Motels
We sought the cheapest, sometimes sneaking the dog in. Our last stop was out of weary desperation in a crowded city. First thing I do is check the bathroom—the toilet water was level with the top of the bowl. A few flushes confirmed a considerable clog. J went to report to front desk. They actually said, do you want a plunger? Another motel had a broken air conditioner (fan worked but no compressor kicked in) and when we told the manager he helpfully clarified: Work fine! Look, hot air outside, cool inside! Why do people want to be in the service industry? And why, why, why, can’t they install a few clothes hooks, especially in bathrooms?

Showers
We’re all built basically the same—head, torso, legs, feet. So how the hell does the languid descent of water droplets from some lame shower three feet above my head reach anyone’s anatomy? What am I, a gymnast? I want a bath, or at least some kind of unit on a hose you can take down. I gave up after a few nights. I just don’t get the whole American shower obsession. The water is going in the wrong direction.

Food
I generally don’t eat much, and lifestyle stress, lack of money, and cleaning houses keeps my weight stable. J decides to go on a junk food binge. It’s impossible to resist when two feet away. I not only gained weight and got stomach cramps, but the steady input of oil and fat combined with long-distance driving acted as an irrigation system that germinated, then ripened a bumper crop of zits. And not just on my face. I don’t want to talk about it.

Peeing
I gotta pee. I drink a lot of fluids and it’s my biological heritage to quickly process and release, passed down from my mother. I hate restrooms, they’re usually disgusting and women are pigs. I’d rather go on the side of the road, and seven years in Arizona has emboldened me even further than when I lived in wooded areas back east. I’m happy with a cactus for a screen, or even a tumbleweed, if nothing else the open car door is enough. I stopped caring long ago if someone sees me peeing. When I have to go, I have to go. When I’m traveling by myself, it’s never an issue. I am armed for god’s sake and you’d have to be an idiot to not see someone coming toward you. But traveling with a man, all of a sudden it’s “someone will see you.” Stop the fracking car, now.

Temperature
When traveling alone, dealing with my broken personal thermostat from hot flashes isn’t a big deal. Open the window, shut the window. Turn on AC, turn off AC. But this brings out the berserker in a man. Guess I can’t blame him.

Sex
What is it about crappy motel rooms that makes men want to have sex? Here I am calculating with dread the next minimum payment on the Visa, they’re having some sort of tailgate party in the parking lot, the AC doesn’t work, the dog refuses to eat, I’m bloated as a dead jellyfish, haven’t shaved my legs in days, and I have a painful lesion in my mouth from the disgusting amount of potato chips I’ve been stuffing in. His snoring has kept me awake for the past three nights and we’re close to a combat situation. I’m about as sexy as a coldsore. So back off, buddy.

TV
For the millionth time I wonder how anyone can stand TV. There may be no microwave, fridge, working air conditioner, or bathtub in these shabby rooms, but the damn TV works fine, doesn’t it? TV is agony. We brought a laptop but the volume’s not loud enough and the wifi connections are so bad you spend most of the time drifting in and out of service. The lightbulb is too dim to read by. All I want to do is sleep but that would be too easy.

Radio
Disc jockeys should have their vocal cords cut.

The best trips I’ve ever taken were by myself. I love to talk to strangers. After five minutes you can walk away. You?

Cosmic Effluvium

I met Planchette in a pasture where we were both staring at goats—he was hoping for some new kidskin gloves, I just wanted to snap a few photos. He claimed we met by coincidence but I realize now how random encounters are much more certain to occur when one person is stalked. Next thing I know we’re speaking in tongues and he was laying hands on me. Much was made of his expertise in touch therapy, but he was your basic medium. Planchette put the sham in shamanic healing and taught me the true meaning of mentalism.

I experienced a vision of life reincarnated but it turned out I just needed stronger glasses. His approach to our relationship was holistic—he wanted comprehensive possession. I made the mistake of mocking his new-age views so he insisted I submit to past-life regression—now I’m channeling a two-year-old. He promised we’d transmigrate to an oracle of divine relocation but instead I landed in a near-death experience.  His audible frequencies usually put me in a somnambulistic trance and teleported me to a higher unconsciousness, and he was always mad that I didn’t return his telepathic voice mails. Sometimes I’d turn ghostly white and start scrying.

Planchette boasted he was certified with the Countrywide Collusion of Simulated Psychics. We’d often hand out coupons for free dream interpretation via text messaging, then direct them to his website where he sold shamanic healing kits. The kits included tiny drums, rattles, his new CD The Dronings of Our Ancestors, some mild stimulants, and a package of Kleenex, all assembled in a handy carrying case for the paranormal price of $189.95.

It’s true he had a hypnotic effect on me but thank goodness I was fine once the narcotics wore off. I intuited I was in the gateway, maybe even the vestibule, of a psychic disturbance so I sat down to engage in some automatic writing, but what came out bent my pen. Next time I feel the need for an astral projection I think I’ll just stay home.

Submerged

We don’t wake up in the morning expecting bad things to happen. Though the realist knows they often do, we don’t plan or anticipate them—if we did we wouldn’t be able to go on. We don’t expect to have a tornado flatten our home, answer our door to a home invader, be maimed in a car wreck, or go see a movie and get shot. Fate affects us all every day in spite of our best intentions—we need only glance at the headlines to have our hearts broken in ways we couldn’t have imagined, with only a shred of luck standing between us and them.

My dog Jasmine was my best friend, co-pilot, and provider of unconditional love. She began her life as a sato, a slang term for the thousands of street dogs hanging on to life in cities and beaches in Puerto Rico. Similar situations exist in many beautiful tourist destinations as well as run-of-the-mill hell holes all over the world, where animals have little value and are poisoned, abused, starved, and sick with parasites and a host of other diseases. But like all animals, they have a strong will to survive. Volunteer organizations do exist, fueled by people who, through meager donations and their own passion, try to make a difference.

I know Jasmine’s life wasn’t important in the grand scheme. But the day we found this pup in a feed store in Connecticut, rescued by an angel who asked for a $100 donation, I knew fate had found me. A lot of dogs have passed through my life but none compared to Jasmine. Her untamed streak only made our bond stronger. She was snippy, growly, had food issues, and would never back down from another dog no matter how outsized. But she was fiercely loyal to me and never left my side during our many long walks together. These traits passed down through generations of her semi-wild heritage only made me love her more.

Yesterday was a normal day, I did a cleaning job and drove home in an intense monsoon thunderstorm. Thunder was about the only element that Jasmine feared, it sometimes provoked her to do unpredictable things even after 11 years. I don’t know how the fight with one of my other dogs started, I was only there to break it up. Breaking up a dog fight is hard when the dogs are determined. But I did, there was no blood, and the dogs settled down. I fed them and tried to anesthetize with a movie. Around midnight I noticed Jasmine seemed lethargic. It happens—the heat, the storm, the fight. I called her to come to bed with me and she was slow to rise. I lay down on the floor with her and held and soothed her. She ignored both me and her bedtime cookie. I got in bed and tried to fall asleep, a nightly ritual of self-torment. I drifted but heard nails dragging on the floor. It was now about 2 am. I sprang out of bed and found Jasmine on her side panting, her belly rising and falling with each breath. I should have picked her up and put her in my bed but didn’t want to move her. I lay with her on the floor but had a sick feeling…I would take her to the vet in the morning. Exhausted, I got back in bed and faded fitfully in and out of consciousness. I was shocked awake at 4 am by a bad dream as is my custom. I flew out of bed to check on Jasmine. She was dead.

I howled in agony and ran to wake Jimmy up. He wrapped her in a blanket and I kept vigil. At exactly 9 am when the vet opened we brought her body in to be cremated and returned. They said that dogs can have heart attacks and strokes just like humans. I honestly do not know what happened.

I have much to be grateful for. Eleven years and a quick death from a condition  she only had to suffer for hours instead of months.

With the horrors of the world in furious abundance, I am not asking for sympathy for the loss of a mere dog, an insignificant creature whose presence meant the world to me—but only me. Those of you whose hearts are held fast by the love of a dog or cat will understand.

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…

Unplugged

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good…oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.
(Not written by, but made tearfully famous by Eric Burden in 1965)

Changes. They’re harder when we get older but are often worth the struggle. I just got back from a week in CT, my home state. A family member I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years called because she needed me. I did not hang up on her, I got on a plane. A highly emotional reconciliation and physically demanding visit followed. It was wonderful. I have been telling people all my life I have no family but now that has changed, and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. She had me ROFL when she said, in all earnestness, “well you know you come from a long line of over-reacters.” Ha ha, like you don’t? I laughed so hard I fell off the couch.

I spent the week ‘unplugged,’ my first since the beginning of the computer age. No email, no google, no Trayvon, no bitter news to keep me in a constant state of agitation. (First thing I read when I got back though was this unholy alliance between Hollywood and Washington. It’s always been there, but this spectacle splashed all over front pages everywhere makes me sick in a whole new way—two professional groups of liars teaming up, a powerful fusing of the sordid with the corrupt. America, running on a currency of lies and coverups is now one big hateful reality show. Incontinent conservatives, please stop! You’re HELPING him!) But my hiatus was freeing, and had begun before I left. Too ashamed to dispense my moody posts, too involved in my own demise to comment on others. I apologize to my friends for neglecting you, but I do not sparkle with wit and humor, I crackle with confrontation and cynicism.  My friend Harry from The Fool Folds his Arms had these wise words:  I sometimes wonder if the Internet was invented to keep people occupied and passive while the powerful continue to chip away at what little they don’t control already. Well put Harry.

When I got home I learned of two shocking deaths here in AZ. The first was an older woman I adored, cancer. It happened fast and I didn’t know and I still can’t believe it.

The second was the untimely death of a young man whom I had struck from my life because of his cruelty toward his animals. I grew to hate him. I will not miss him but I am not glad he is gone. Like wishing for revolution and getting it, then cowering as the new regime inflicts more aggression and brutality than the last, I can’t know what will replace him. His (very nice) family is dumping the house cheap. Is it wrong of me to feel in my heart it’s about to get worse? No, it is merely experience speaking for me—I can’t unknow the past. Does the deletion of a selfish person add balance to the world? Absolutely not. It doesn’t work that way.

Here are a few pictures from around town this week.

I tried to research this bird but could not be sure what it is. Can anyone help? Saw him along the San Pedro River.

We don’t get many bluebirds in my neighborhood so this was a treat. He hung around for a few days and now he’s gone. But the exotic orioles are beginning to arrive, and they too, are just passing through. Time to buy oranges. The swallows are back and rebuilding their porch light nest with great dedication and style.

Funny young pigeon watching me at a customer’s house. I was so flattered how close he let me come to him.

These new solar panels in the historical part of town have got everyone’s panties in a twist. Irate letters to the local papers abound…’the town wouldn’t let me put a carport in because it wasn’t historical!’ and ‘why didn’t you make them put the panels IN BACK OF the inn?’ etc., etc. Now I learn they are selling the power generated from these back to the power company. What do you think?

Look familiar? Although not the exact model as “Christine,” they used several models in the movie and this ’59 Plymouth Savoy was one of them. I love the flag on the antenna. Don’t see many American flags around here.

 

Small Mercies

I’m on a mission, one that keeps me from self-destruction. Each of us in our own spheres of influence have the power to do good. It might not seem like much in the grand scheme, but collectively it matters. Maybe our presence will prevent someone from doing harm. The world is already so warped by meanness the least I can do is stand my ground—if nothing more than to spite the next bully who comes along.

More Verbal Entropy: These portmanteau words are driving me crazy. OK so it’s fun to think of a blend of two words to express a concept. Sometimes you luck out and find two words that roll easily off the tongue or are clever. What’s creepy is how ubiquitous this trend is, kept alive through the vast internet. Here are some we didn’t need: dramality, flexitarian, jealousify, listicle, mirthquake, swacket, undoplasty, welebrity. Worth a giggle if you thought it up yourself, but there is nothing new here, just bland pop culture mistaken for originality. I’ll bet most people who love words make up their own anyway. Here’s one I just thought of…it’s true we live in a mediocracy, but it’s powered by the mediacracy!

Then there’s disemvoweling which evolved from texting, forums, etc. You know it’s a major trend when Madonna puts out an album called MDNA and we all know what it means (though the ‘a’ remains, disemvoweling normally strikes vowels only). There are even apps to help you spell words wrong. I guess we should be happy that texting drivers skip the vowels, but it’s just one more trend contributing to modern-day illiteracy. However, the word disemvoweling itself is an expressive and useful word. Another newish word that fulfills a need is petrichor. The eloquent definition for this glossy word from OUP is “the pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. Origin: A blend of petro- ‘relating to rocks’ (the smell is believed to be caused by a liquid mixture of organic compounds that collects in the ground) and ichor.” I can’t wait to use this word word when monsoon starts, because who doesn’t love that magical earthy smell.

Search engine term of the month: Search engine terms are bizarre and sometimes repulsive. When I write about pitbull abuse, I get hits looking for how to abuse a dog so it will fight. It’s a depressing way to learn about depravity. A few months ago I posted some photos of a vintage fridge-sink-stovetop unit from the fifties, and this month’s most revealing search term was “sex with appliencs.” Yeah dude, come on over to Find an Outlet for some spicy appliance porn. I’ll show you how to cut a glory hole in the back of a stove, because nothing screams orgasm like 220 volts.

Politics. Ugh. The bumper sticker below sums up exactly how many of us feel. We long for sane leadership but don’t see anyone who is in touch with real life. Six months ago we were confronted with the world population reaching 7 billion—millions of articles addressed it and suggested strategies. Now the biggest issue raging in Republican politics is contraception? How can this be happening? Is the media pushing this to alienate the candidates? It’s working, they’re turning women away in droves. For god’s sake give free birth control to anyone who wants it in the world—instead of aid, send birth control. Think of it as a low-cost contribution to saving the planet before it reaches the 8 billion projected for 2025 (if we’re still here). Do they think people (especially kids) are going to abstain—are they kidding? Anything but.

Some states force insurance companies pay out enormous sums for fertility treatments, and there are movements to lobby the government to pay if you’re not covered. Taxpayers have funded $240 million through Medicare during the last decade for penis pumps for old men—is that okay?  This is not a time to spotlight personal religious beliefs while solid plans for our country’s (and planet’s) future remain hazy. More and more people say they may not vote at all, and that might include me. I absolutely cannot support Obama, but neither can I vote for someone who is so misogynistic that they would deny abortion in case of rape. If this happens, expect protests that will make the Occupiers look like kittens. I really, really want a generator.

Instead of uniting all us Demoblicans and Republicats, they are dividing us into two nasty camps like never before, leaving millions of Americans disgusted. It’s exactly what won’t work.

Bumper sticker displayed by someone who probably won't vote.

Why. Why can’t people proofread. Would you get your new tat done here? Remember that song by Offspring?
"Now he's getting a tattoo yeah, he's getting ink done
He asks for a 13, but they drew a 31!"

There's a joke here about the pervasive plastic bags stuck to prickly pears and everything else—it's the state flower of Arizona.

The barren Huachucas are a stark contrast to the cottonwoods greening up along the San Pedro River. We hope the recent snow helps new life spring from the fire-ravaged mountains.

An amazing old face of someone who looks like she's been through hard times. I'll bet she's got a thing or two to teach us.

Jada, on left, 6 months ago. Jasmine just told her to go lie down and she's pretending she is. If only it lasted longer than 30 seconds.

And here she is now, about a year old. She's now officially the biggest dog of the pack, and I don't think she's done growing. But she's still a work in progress and will be for a while. She's a great new feature of our security system though.

Last year's seed pods and new growth of the scale-like leaves on my favorite southwest tree, the alligator juniper.

Happy little non-killer bee (the plant was full of them) on a gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) doing what they do best.

It's very warm here and everything is either flowering or about to.

Mwahaha! Some people have ridiculous amounts pillows on their beds or sofas, made goofier by all these huge tags sticking out. It's OK to cut them off, really, no one will arrest you! I applied scissors to this one myself. I had to.

We're now boarding two beautiful rescued horses. I'm not doing it for the (nominal) money, nor because I'm in love with horses, though they sure are growing on me. I'm doing it for the neighborhood. People trying to leave are dumping their houses cheap or renting them. The owners of these horses have their home up for sale nearby, and one of the reasons they want to leave is because they were driving back and forth twice a day to a town 28 miles away to board them. Now they're here, minutes away, and I hope the owners won't move, or at least that they won't give their house away for nothing, which is what you have to do to escape. Some of the new people moving in to my neighborhood are real low-rent. We've had the sheriffs out here a couple times in the past month, prompting us to turn our little house into a fortress. And there was a major drug bust here a month or so ago, complete with cops, border patrol, DEA, sniffer dogs, and hazmat suits.

Tiny Speck, Big Windshield

After last year’s Mardi Paws fundraiser post, I received a nasty email from a nonprofit organization in another part of the country who, unbelievably, have trademarked the name “Mardi Paws.” I thought it was spam but it was no joke. Lots of small animal shelters across America have a Mardi Paws fundraiser in February, and for them to be hunted down and threatened with legal action if they continue to use the name astounds me.

Before the Internet they could never have done this. They would never have known. But because folks enjoy posting pictures of dogs in costumes, this organization is spending time and money surfing the Internet looking for all us criminals all over the US who dare to infringe on their “trademark.” How incredibly nonproductive, mean-spirited, and obviously since lawyers are involved, expensive. Isn’t it nice to know that the money you donate to a nonprofit may be wasted on some crack legal team bent on creating ill will?

We are a scrappy rescue group with no physical shelter. We beg for foster homes. Though most people here are violently against euthanasia, just try getting one of them to foster a companion animal. They have a million excuses why they can’t.

Yesterday was our Canine Costume Party and it was both funny and sad. Life being what it is, many beautiful items and services donated by generous local artists and merchants for the silent auction went unsold, including one of my own paintings. It was sad at the end to pack up lush animal-themed gift baskets, gift certificates, handmade clothing and jewelry, pottery, and other artwork. Volunteers had to solicit the merchants, and it’s a lot of work.

It seems there are more small dogs participating in the fashion show than large, I think it’s just because it’s easier to dress up a little dog. Our own big dogs are not comfortable in crowds—just like us I guess. They are wary of humans as well they should be. Instead we brought our tiny Maxi, ambassador to the fact that you CAN rescue and adopt small dogs, you don’t have to support puppy mills or any kind of unnecessary breeding. We had not planned on entering her in the fashion show but we were urged on. They rate the winner by the amount of cheering and clapping, and Maxi came in second! After that you couldn’t talk to her—she claims A-list status now.

As the world becomes more savage and primitive (no matter how fancy your cellphone) many volunteers believe that fifty or a hundred years from now there may be no one left to help stray dogs and cats. It depends on who’s running the world, and it’s clear it won’t be animal lovers. Companion animals may be shot, abandoned, used for food or sport, or outlawed. They already are in many places. An animal rescue colleague in Atlanta reports 80,000 animals euthanized last year. The pound there is packed with 400 dogs and cats right this minute. Conditions are so wretched that it’s hard to find volunteers who can stomach it. Roaches and rats in the cages, filth, neglect, incompetence, indifference. A few people are trying to help, but nobody, I mean nobody, wants to spend a dime on improving conditions in any city pound.

I once read in a PETA book that they would rather have NO pets than see one more animal suffer. I didn’t get it then, but I do now. I love my pack more than anything in the world, but the price in suffering that companion animals pay so we can have pets is almost too much to bear.

An American soldier with his dog.

This princess was helping folks get registered at the front door.

I love this dog's costume, very original.

Some costumes were elaborate, some simple. Some dogs ditched their costumes in their own special way.

Form a line everyone!

This gorgeous two-year-old male boxer mix is up for adoption. Housebroken, trained, and loving.

These little girls won third prize.

This gal made a serious effort with her and her dogs' costumes, and she won the well-deserved first prize.

SO cute. What a little bear.

Kids taught to respect animals are the best kids ever, IMO.

Uh-oh, this cutie has a lot of growing yet to do.

Gratuitous cleavage shot.

Choosing the winners with the "Applause Meter."

Important business to attend to!

A gathering of dog lovers on the porch.

Our Maxi waiting her turn to walk the runway.

Maxi walks the runway to loud applause!

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.

What will Future Generations be Nostalgic for?

No one can agree on the status of Earth in 50 years. Thousands of articles speculate, but “experts” are divided. Some say overpopulation and global warming will cause our destruction, others predict certain populations will decrease or die out. Some envision large scale nuclear war, others urge us to go forth and breed. Some say advances in medicine will wipe out disease, others say we’re all going to die from viruses, AIDS or starvation. Some say we will be communicating through chips imbedded in our bodies.

The commenters are just as virulent as ever, with about three quarters of them attacking people who try to express an opinion in a rational way. No article that I read had intelligent discussion, and almost every comment was nearly unreadable due to ignorance of basic language skills, excessive use of caps, and general internet abuse. It’s impossible to write an article on the future of the world without mentioning race in a scientific way, spawning openly racist comments such as “good, I hope they all die out, the world doesn’t need any more white people.” Many commenters blame the fat, gluttonous, greedy American public for the planet’s demise. Even the civil wars raging in other countries are somehow America’s fault. No one mentions that people have been killing and enslaving each other for 200,000 years, while America has only existed for a little over 200 years. Most Americans don’t leave vicious comments or any comments at all. So nobody hears us.

If you believe that Islam is a peaceful ‘religion’ with just a few fringe factions, why can’t America be granted the same indulgence? What about all the good people here—the animal rescue volunteers, the women’s shelter volunteers, the volunteer fire departments, EMTs, and ambulance drivers…the homeless shelters, food banks, countless charities, and billions in aid we send to countries who hate us? What about the Lions Club who picked up the $1500 tab for the hearing aid I helped an old lady get last year? The men and women who serve and die for our country, are they fat useless pigs too? The compassionate bloggers whose love of nature is evident in every post? The good kids who want to make a difference—the ones who don’t make the news? You don’t hear about them because they don’t commit crimes. Are each of us personally to blame for the ills of the world?

Picture of two deer taken this morning at a house I clean at the bottom of Carr Canyon in Coronado Nat’l Park, which was devastated by the Monument Fire last summer. This old woman puts alfalfa, seed, and water out for the many creatures displaced by the fire. What a GLUTTONOUS WHITE AMERICAN BITCH—WE NEED TO GET RID OF PEOPLE LIKE THIS!

I am nostalgic for the era I grew up in because it was a time of renaissance. Our home lives may have been difficult, but the world was open to us. Jobs were plentiful, travel was cheap, we explored the world through a windshield instead of an LCD screen. We were independent and never expected to be taken care of. We weren’t obese, brainwashed, or babied. We entered the world at a perfect time—we were neither burdened with our parents’ repression nor their economic depression. We left home early, anxious to embark upon adventures of our own. We figured out how to have sex and not get pregnant (thank you Planned Parenthood for keeping me both child-free and abortion-free for 30 years). We got on buses and trains and old clunkers and used maps and asked questions and took back roads. We got into trouble but learned from our mistakes.

Politics were more than a war between socialists and evangelicals. The millions of Americans who aren’t obsessed with abortion or gay marriage are not being represented—we just want our country back. The insanity of our political system and subsequent media slants are a big factor in our reputation as a nation of lunatics, and these overblown issues cause voters to make choices based not on what’s best for America, but on personal beliefs. Left or right, either way we’re all going to have more laws forced on us. Political correctness will worsen, it’s too late to go back now. I finally understand what “silent majority” means. It means us, working a couple jobs, paying our bills, trying to help our communities, and getting by the only way we know how. It’s the people who hardly have time to picket abortion clinics, write vicious comments, or spread their whiny filth through public parks across America.

I’m nostalgic for not having a computer and not being assaulted daily with every act of violence perpetrated in the world. But despite America being the planet’s designated scapegoat, and despite those who actually do fit the stereotype, most people I know would help you if you asked them. Though I witness disturbing activities where I live every day, I would not hesitate to go to any of my neighbors for help. Maybe I don’t want to hang out with them. Likely our politics and culture are a world apart. But who in America would slam the door in the face of a person in need?

We can’t know what will someday evoke nostalgia in the estimated 11,000 babies born each day in the US alone, much less the rest of the world. Will it be simple things like music, dancing, sports, their home town? Will it be grocery stores, libraries, parks? Or will it be something much more sober—sunshine, clean water, open space, fresh food, thinking for themselves, and freedom? Because the world will be different for them, too, and someday they will get old and look back just as we do. They’ll have their own regrets, but I imagine in essence they won’t be much different from ours. The blank vacuous lifestyle of a video game-addicted couch potato may surface later in life as an inability to adapt to the inevitable shifts we will continue to experience. A lack of curiosity about the world leads to stunted life skills no matter what age you live in. The resourceful, creative kids may find the means to survive no matter what is in store for them. In 50 years, each person may be completely on their own, a slave to a warlord, or forced to live under a government created while they weren’t paying attention.

Flexibility, resilience, and adaptability are all we have to keep us from collapsing into an abyss of despair or self-destruction as we reminisce about the past, but those aren’t easy traits to sustain. Most of us are just trying to cope, encumbered with a collective guilt we don’t deserve. But one thing I am certain of—if we choose to see ourselves as victims, we may well be granted that wish.