Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween - Village Life

The lions won't sleep tonight.
as ghosts gather,
and strange creatures watch.
Leaves die, beautiful in their passing,
as a porch waits for the the pitter patter of small feet.
 Everywhere there is color,
 lining your path.
Beauty is everywhere,
 as is laughter.
 The window is silent as trees stand guard,
over their fallen children
color remembered everywhere.
Abby explores,
while Bambi watches ghouls dance,
 their ballroom awash in color.
There is so much that is good about this season--
especially throwing an armful of leaves on your laughing little brother

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Voting - Hard Choices, Soft Targets

I picked up the phone at my Dad's and it was an election campaigner, someone who probably was calling all the voters in the area.  I was expecting a call back of a professional nature so I answered the phone "Dr. J." What I got was not the other Dr. type who was going to call me right back but - "Would you vote for Candidate So and So if they supported (insert liberal female issue item here)?" I was asked. "Actually no" I said.

"What?" was the response, "I'd expect a successful women to support a candidate who supports feminist issues".

Actually I'm not, a feminist that is. Not in the sense of the word usually associated with it. I'm not going to burn my bra (except for that one that makes me look like I'm expecting an assassination attempt) and I'm not going to walk dutifully 10 feet behind my husband with my head covered. I'm a contradiction in stereotypes, a modern woman who can shoot, hunt, manage a team of a couple dozen or so ex special forces types, fix most things and survive on my own. But I'm the type that wanted a strong but gentle man to remove the spider from the bathroom and understand that sometimes I can't do it all and am going to come home after slaying the dragon, go to my room and cry like a baby.  I wanted, (as you all have given me no end of kidding about when I first said it) someone who can  read an old 130 page technical report I wrote, ask me about the thoughts that went into it, then bend me like Gumby and make me forget my name.


I'm not the inaccurate stereotype that liberals would like to make of a woman voter of the right, some hillbilly woman with 8th grade reading skills and a baby on each hip. I'm successful, highly educated, pro Constitution and pro Second Amendment. I call older folks and all veterans Sir and Ma'am and I will happily bring my man a cold beer while he watches WWII  tanks blowing up things on TV (and likely join him).

The feminists probably wouldn't like me, and some of the more more traditionally brought up women I've met probably think I'm a different species. I'm not a woman that thinks my man should act like a women and treat me like a man. I may be able to fix the damn door but I like it when you open it for me. That's courtesy not sexism.  Like my parents, I believe that in a household, decisions should be joint, discussed, like battle strategy, what is best for us, for the family, not dictated by the man simply because he is the man OR the woman simply to keep the peace.

So I find the idea that I should vote for a woman, simply because she is a woman or a candidate because he supports marriage or reproductive issues based on what will get him the most votes rather than what is right in his heart, to be as idiotic as having a politician elected simply because he looked good in an expensive suit and talked pretty. 

"whoo, me?"

Perhaps it's something with me, passed on from a strong mother, who carried a badge and still greeted my Dad in a dress and high heels with a martini on Friday nights. He treated her with the utmost of  care and respect, the same was expected of us, examples of how we live and love, laid out before us.

My former husband was from the deep South, a Southerner raised of rigid and controlling values, not like all of the gentlemanly, strong men of the South I've come to know since.  I was brought home as some prize to show his parents, after they threatened to disown  him for taking up with some bimbo. "Look what I own now", was how I was paraded around, like some prize cow, valued for anything other than love.

I tried my best to fit in, cooking with the women, something I always loved to do for family, tending to chores. But I soon realized that the older women in the family all had a haunted look about about their eyes, a quiet desperation there among all the noise and bustle of large meal gatherings. Women were bearers of babies, burden and contempt, working all day in the heat and the noise on Sundays and holidays while the men got drunk and watched football.
My husband had moved far away, living a different type of life than this, in a whole other world when I married him, so young and so on the rebound from losing my first love. But his father's death brought us back to that place and soon he was treating me the only way he knew, the way his father had treated his mother, with idle disrespect and hidden bruises. I was not the girl he loved, I was the type of girl his parents wanted him to marry and I paid for that choice each and every day.

I tried though, oh how I tried,  but that first Thanksgiving was an eye opener. After cooking all day I went to sit down at the table and was informed by a senior member of the family that the women should "eat in the kitchen", not with the men. We were there to wait on them and clean up after them, and if we had time for a bite somewhere in there so be it.
I came into that relationship with a college degree and pilot wings on my uniform and soon found that although I loved rural life, I hated the way I was treated, simply because of my gender. If I went into a feed store I'd be asked if what I ordered was what my husband wanted. I could be up all night wrestling with a tractor, pack my bag and go spend a few days flying a large transport, only to come home and be patted on the head, and called the "little woman" while the salesman talked to my husband as the money I earned was spent, as if I was not in the room. Then I'd come home to chores and criticism, neither of which ever abated, no matter how hard I toiled.

I'd  leave the house, just to get away from words that drew blood like small stinging insects.  I'd go out into the back fields alone, laying out flat on the ground, looking at the sky, feeling the earth through my clothes, breathing  hard, thinking if I didn't move, he wouldn't see me and I wouldn't have to breathe so hard and so quiet. 

I was not alone, I'd see some women at the church socials, wearing plain clothing, with downcast eyes bearing trays of food which were made with the passion they weren't allowed to show in any other public way. I worked, as the money was needed, but few others did, other than selling cosmetics or kitchenware or other "at-home business". I was asked to attend one of their meetings, watching the team leader whipping the group into a lather of frenzy that reminded me of a church revival. "Who's going to book 10 parties!" and the group response with liturgical precision. "We Are! The products were usually good, and some women actually made a fraction of the money they dreamed of. I'd see in those meetings their eyes, that would blaze up like a lantern just before the oil runs out. There in that small moment a brief blaze of freedom that for many will be snuffed out once they got home.

So I understood that small stand for independence, that recognition of  keen minds and hard work they didn't get anywhere else, a place where they could speak freely, cloaked in the conspiratorial whisper of lipstick and perfume.
But these were strong women underneath, and like myself we went into such marriages with the naive vision of youth, picking someone because everyone expects you to get married. Someone likable, nice looking, someone young and strong, able to change your lives for the better, without a strong look at family, character or integrity. And we stuck it out because of. . . I can only explain it with a phrase that came from the Bible that I had not understand before. "A peace that passeth all understanding". Passeth all understanding. Yes, for in looking back I see it now, that decision to stay that bears no understanding on the surface. That pride, that furious wish to hide the abject folly of your youthful decision, bearing that load around like a large platter, too large for a small girl to handle. Not speaking up, not crying out but carrying that decision, for some, all the way into burning ground.

I will never forget that, but I have forgiven it. Twenty years have passed;  people and places change, while God and the wind steer us  to where we need to be, which for me was with a husband who deeply loves me even as he honors me and what I stand for  Society too has changed since those days when I was a young bride. I can now go into most gun stores and say "do you have the new XDM in .45?" and usually no one bats an eye. I drive a large truck and don't get funny looks in traffic. And if the seat of the truck is covered with cakes and pies it's because I wanted to bake them for the men in my life,  NOT because I'm expected to.
I am not that same young woman. I look at things in great detail now.  I see things not as a whole taken at face value, but as the individual components which comprise the whole. Just as in a crime scene you sift through those seemingly unrelated disbursements of strong and and fragile, the sniffles and sighs that echo in the air even as flesh cools and hair scents the air with ammonia perfume, those illusionary wholes of pieces of life and strong bones, detached yet familiar, so secret yet familiar. I look hard at things, including people, having learned the hard way the years of long sentence that are the result of foolish choice.

Choices without prejudice. Freedoms with responsibility. I will take some leave to travel to vote and like most days off, I will likely go to the range first and shoot, watching the bullet fly free of the firearm, like the stream from a fire hose. I will watch it fly with freedom and power, and I will stand in awe as to the damage that can be done when such power is misused.
Then, when the day has come, I will go home, clean my weapon, throw my apron in the wash and go to the voting booth where I will stand, breathing hard, yet quietly, reminded of sweet words and false promises, fragments of forgotten vows.  I will vote with my mind, as strong as anyone's. I will vote with my heart, not based on what others expect me to do or what is popular but what I as an individual, one lone citizen, can abide. I will vote from history, mine and this nation's.

I am NOT going to vote for a woman with a pro choice button and hair stiff with hairspray. I would not vote for her any more than I would vote for a woman with a NRA button and hair stiff with hairspray only because she is a women. I will  vote for the best candidate, one who can articulate in the face of adversity, stick with a commitment and a belief and put the interests of the people of this country ahead of their social schedule, golf game or Hollywood fundraiser. I want a candidate who, when confronted with a threat to our life and liberty, will not stare at the ground or a teleprompter, or worse yet, apologize. I want a candidate who will fight for with us, and for us, just as I am committed for life to a man who is willing to fight with me and for me (even if the ammo he uses I might have reloaded myself).

So Mr. Pollster, there you have it. Present to me a candidate  that can do those things and I'll vote for him OR her, but only on those terms. There are some mistakes we don't wish to make twice.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Basset Hounds

When I sold the original "range" to purposefully downsize, I got rid of a LOT Of furniture, donating most of it to Amvets, selling only a few pieces.  I ended up with a few nice pieces, enough to put into a small house. Then, on meeting my future husband, that house location changed, and that furniture ended up in a crash pad, I maintain during the work week.

That left a new (well, new is relative when it's a hundred years old) Range to populate.  Partner had a beautiful heirloom table and chairs, a rocker from his family and some bachelor stuff from his college apartment, but it needed a few more things to make it more comfy for two.  Some tables were restored, a mission chair was built and recovered.  Lamps and paintings were added, lace picked up at the thrift shop for the windows.

The last project was to replace Partners ancient Ikea couch from college. Over time the taupe cushions had faded from brown to pink and the whole thing was, well, . . . . 

sort of an eyesore.
There were some good memories on that couch with Barkley but we needed a larger and more supportive one.
We looked at some Amish built furniture, but the price was just too much to justify.  We can afford it, we just chose NOT to spend our money that way, which leaves us more for savings, for charitable donations, for helping the less fortunately, for preparedness.  That's more important than someone walking in and being impressed by my "things". And I did NOT want cheap "Wood-like" furniture. So we started picking up free furniture, things tossed out because they were scratched or dinged or needed recovering, but all solidly built, out of hardwood.
I came home one day to find this in the garage.

At one time it was a very expensive Bassett sleeper sofa, then a family with three young kids had it. The wood was totally scratched up, the cushions toast, the fabric really  late 70's or early 80's ugly. The frame was still good, the mattress never once slept on.  We got it from Craigslist with a "make offer".  In this case, a case of beer was the asking price from the husband wanting to just get it out of the house.
The cushions had all the support of a wet noodle and were pitched.  We purchased some foam, some fabric and some leather from Tandy for the trim.

Once the wood was stripped, sanded and refinished, it was time to remove the last of the Disco fabric--
while the cushions were hand crafted, the covering completed, and the leather trim attached to the top and bottom of the frame.

For less than $300 total in materials it's incredibly solid and should last a lifetime. The machine washable suede-like fabric can be easily replaced or cleaned.  It's also very comfortable, with good support for the back.  But do you know the best part?
It's been Lab tested--
and approved!  zzzzzzz

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - A Dad Post

Bud meets Buddy

Brigid's Dad here, with a little story that she is going to type up for me.

My family has always had a home somewhere in the mountains, sometimes a full time residence for someone, sometimes, a summer or winter place. This is my favorite, built by my beloved niece L, from the remains of a shack she bought with some land. I have spent every holiday here for a long time, but for last year. L's Dad, my baby brother, died when she was a very young woman and we just started to come up here after she fixed the place up, it  being home to us in in a lot of ways.  I didn't think I would ever see it again as it's such a long trip and my son always came with me, making that two day drive each way and helping me in and out of the vehicle. He's gone, and I doubted there would be anyone willing to make that long trek, twice in just a few months.
But "my girls"  L. and Brigid hatched a plot that involved 48 hours of driving for the round trip, a quick kidnapping (after coordination with the doctors for a pre "snag" check up and extra supplies.)  With the assistance of a strong, dashing man and a little cattle dog, we made it  in two days, with a stop to visit my beautiful granddaughter and great-granddaughter along the way.
 What do you mean I'm staying in the summer "Guest Cottage?"
Glad you were kidding, this looks really comfortable. You all sure make pretty things to decorate the place
 And the view of the back 40 is pretty nifty.
 Some things don't change, though the round rock collection is growing.
And the hives.
The bee hat, babe magnet every time.
I think I looked more dapper in my WWII uniform (that's me on the left), but I'm not complaining.
Because our family motto is sweet and clear.  Just Bee Happy!
So much to do over the summer.  Fourth of July!  Somehow I think alcohol was involved in this.
Some time at the lake. I'll let the youngsters play in the water, I'm just happy to sit in the warmth and share a glass a wine with one of my local friends.
 Doing our best to ensure the store's beer supply stays fresh.
 There's always evenings at the social club.
Or time with Shasta and K. at the old swimming hole.
 No, we didn't have bacon for breakfast.  Honest.
Brigid calls when she can't be here, seeing what we're having for supper.
 The mountain air is invigorating.  Let's go for a walk
There's no traffic at all, just some happy dogs.
I get to walk each day too, with a little help from Cindy who is a registered nurse.
And our squadron of rescue dogs.
After the outdoor time, a little snack is in order.
One of my girls is always making cookies for me.  My favorite is C's chocolate chip.
And a little relaxing as evening sets in.
Camera shy Dottie and Girlito the cat.
The summer flies by, quicker than we imagined, leaving on galloping hooves (like Buddy and Taxi the horse, that belongs to one of L's friends)
 Happy 94th Brithday to me!  Homemade Cake!
This is my family that shared in my summer and my special day. Only one of us is related by blood, the rest adopted, sharing of a last name, or simply a home, part of each's other's pack, rescuing one another, in so many little ways.

Before long, it will be time to head back, L. driving me north where we will meet Brigid and plan a family trip to the beach. While I was gone, B. got all the kitchen fire damage at my house cleaned up, everything repainted and cleaned and restored as best as could be.   She even replaced my broken old dishwasher that didn't work, so I don't have to do dishes or ask the nurse's aid to do them (more time for me to beat her at cribbage). I had such a good summer here, but I'm anxious to see my home.
But first, one last trip to the creek.
I just know there's a salmon in here somewhere.  I saw a bear do this once.
I'm looking forward to that trip to the beach as well, one last trek, one last family visit before the chill sets in.  

But that's a post for another day.
 - Bud