Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Dies Natalis Solis Invictus



I'm pleased to report that, just as it has since the dawn of time, the sun has remained unconquered (despite efforts by NOM, SarahPAC, Fox News and the GOP) and will once again begin rising earlier and staying up later. Yay!

However you celebrate this "birthday of the unconquered sun" -- be it with Druidic fir trees, Mithraic gift-giving and caroling, Saturnalia feasting, or invoking the elvish spirit of De Goede Sint Sinterklass like the chilly Germanic pagans of old -- we can all be grateful for that good old 23° 26' axial tilt that has been the cause of mid-winter celebrations of all sorts by human beings through the ages.

Happy Ramadan, Cool Yule, Blessed Bodhi Day, Diwali Mubarak, Happy Chanukah, Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas ... and all the others I've missed.

Make the Yuletide Gay.








Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spam-a-lot

For the time being, until some better solution presents itself (like Blogger putting some controls on this crap, for instance) comment moderation has been turned on. It's just too hard to track down all the phishing and spam comments and remove them after they've posted. It sucks to have to do this, but we don't need Cialis, and I'm pretty sure the rest of you don't, either. If you do, you're reading the wrong blog. : )


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mysteries of Nature

How does a ten pound cat gack up a twenty five pound hairball? Not that it ever happens at my house....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still Life With Melon

I'm going to have to repot this. It has seriously outgrown the pot it's in.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crimestoppers!

The other day we stopped at our local gas station, the Cut-Mart, so Lori could buy a pack of cigarettes before we went to her Christmas party in Evansville. The Cut-Mart is a constant source of jokes in our house; it's on the bad side of town and is the site of frequent knife fights. If we need to stop for gas after the sun goes down? We don't.

But on Saturday afternoon the Cut-Mart is a perfectly viable gas station with an excellent little deli that makes some of the best fried chicken on the planet. While Lori went in to buy her cigarettes, I sat in the car and scoped out the parking lot for potential entertainment. A Cairo parking lot is generally more interesting than anything on prime time tv.

There was a car idling in the parking lot next to me, with a driver who also appeared to be waiting for someone. After a minute or two, another car pulled up next to him and a happy smiling guy jumped out of his car and into the passenger seat of the waiting car. Maybe a minute passed, and then he got out of that car, got back in his own, and drove off.

Okay...I was born in 1963, which made me a teenager in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As was the custom among moderately bad teenagers at the time, I imbibed in all the usual illicit drugs. So you'd think I'd be a little faster on the uptake. But Lori got back in the car and I told her what she'd missed and asked her if maybe that had been a drug deal. She rolled her eyes at my cluelessness and said, "Yeah. That was a drug deal."

My only defense was that in the 1970s we had better manners and would invite our dealer in for a Coke and brownies. Don't judge me....it was the suburbs.

So now that I know what I'm looking for, I've graduated from being one of those horrible middle-aged women who yell, "Hey you kids! Get out of my flowers!" to being that horrible middle-aged women peeping through her windows looking for possible criminal activity in the park.

I'd like to be all Elmore Leonard, but I worry I might be more Gladys Kravitz. Can a housecoat possibly not be in my future?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cairo Hearts Teh Gay

I'm sure this is horridly un-PC and it embarrasses me a little, but you know me...I'm sort of socially challenged anyway, so consider the source.

For most of my life I've lived in communities that were majority Caucasian. This is probably the first time I've lived anywhere where the population was evenly split between white folks and black folks. When we moved here my coworkers acted like I was insane, like we had just moved to the bad side of Baghdad, but actually, it's been very nice. People, both black and white, have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome, even in the face of the obvious Gay.

When we moved here in August the first thing we did was apply to buy the municipally-owned field next to our house, The city was happy to oblige; anything that gets property back onto the tax roles is well received in Cairo. I had to make several visits to City Hall to drop off bids and deposit money, and then Lori and I went down there to sign the deed on the property.

The woman working the counter at City Hall is probably in her late 60s and very Southern. We're right across the river from Kentucky and a lot of the locals have that air of antebellum Southern manners and sensibilities. When I went in to drop off the final payment on the property she told me she had written the deed as a joint property with right of survivorship, like she would with a married couple.

She clearly understands the nature of our relationship and isn't worked up about it. And really, that's been the predominant attitude here. The gay isn't scary or dangerous or whatever else homophobes think to justify their -isms. Our neighbors understand that we're a couple and behave accordingly. In conversation, they ask after Lori, invite us to join local civic and social groups, compliment our yard and our pets, and try to catch a glimpse in our windows. Like people anywhere do with their neighbors.

Like I said, this is my first time living in a black community. There are a lot of churches here, and a lot of churchgoers. I think I had a sense that we might encounter some hostility with regard to our openly lesbian relationship. I've read repeatedly that blacks in general support a lot of liberal causes but draw the line at Teh Gay, since many religious people think it's a fast track to hell and feel the need to either distance themselves from it or pontificate at it. But either the local churches teach tolerance and diversity, or the local citizenry have too much on their own plates to worry about ours.

So the moral of the story is that I like it here. I feel welcome, and any oddness is not due to the gay, it's due to the cultural disparity between southern blacks and northern whites, which is much more interesting as far as I'm concerned.

So I'm likely to post a lot of stories about the community, but I hope they're taken in the spirit intended. It's a friendly community filled with kind people and I love it here. I've liked almost every person I've encountered here (Except the melon guy. What's up with him?), but they certainly have ways about them that leave me scratching my head at times and as always, I'll chronicle them here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

God Loves Me. Ask Anyone.

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm one tiny inconvenience from a full-blown meltdown. I think it's a combination of PMS, lack of exercise, and my cheap knock-off faux Lamictal. But regardless (or irregardless, as we say here in the Lower Midwest), I'm feeling a little ragged.

So this morning I woke up to a couple of minor inconveniences that put me into a deep blue funk. It was cold in the bathroom, there was no half-and-half for the coffee, and the second I turned my back on Cooper she gulped down half a notepad. We had a wrestling match for the other half and for a second I think she thought about biting me, until I growled viciously and clamped the hand that wasn't in her mouth firmly over both nostrils.

I finally yanked the bedraggled soggy ex-notepad from her mouth, went into the ice cold bathroom with my unhalf-and-halfed black coffee, and showered for the approximately two minutes that our recalcitrant water heater was willing to oblige.

I growled once more at Cooper on my way out, just because, then grabbed my book and keys and headed to work. Early. So I could attend a Corporate mandated meeting designed to make us more fucking happy at our fucking jobs. When I turned around after locking the door, I realized there was someone sitting on my front stairs.

I see this guy all the time. He's an older black man, walks with a cane, and spends a significant portion of every day sitting on the marble steps of the Post Office across the street. Today he was sitting on my steps with his cane, staring off into space. As I was locking the door, he turned around and said, "Good morning, Young Lady. I was dear, dear friends with Miss Kristie (the previous owner of our house, and a story unto herself), and I am very sorry that she has moved away."

I said good morning back and walked around him to the bottom of the stairs, hoping he wasn't going to be crazy, since I was already cutting it close for getting to the meeting about the fucking happiness at work. He introduced himself, and I said, "I'm Evelyn. Nice to meet you."

And he said, "I know. I've already heard about you."

Uh-oh.

Then he said, "You know...a person's sexuality is not important. It's what's in their heart. That's what's important."

Ummm...BIG uh-oh? Are we going to discuss sexuality?

He said, "I'm 74 years old and I'm a pastor. I don't smoke or drink, I never robbed nor raped nobody, and I try to help out any way I can. God don't care who you love, he just cares if you have a good heart."

And really...I'm an atheist, and this even warmed my heart. I was settling in for a feel-good "We are the World" conversation.

And then he asked me for $3.00. Or stamps.

My heart was so warmed that I gave him the whole book of stamps. If I'd had $3.00, I would have given him that too.

He should go into sales.

A PSA for Bibliophiles

If you're a person who likes books, check out Paperbackswap.com. It's a site where people exchange books by listing their books that they're willing to give away for free, and get credits to use to get other people's books. The whole transaction takes place for the price of book rate postage. When you join they start you out with two free book credits, so you can order a couple right off the bat.

I discovered them a few months back and have gotten rid of a huge pile of books I'll never read again nor inflict on my loved ones, and I've acquired a huge pile I'm really excited about. Fiction, nonfiction, paperback and hardcover...they're all free. It's a godsend to fiscally-challenged book nerds.

If you do happen to join, please use my e-mail address, UALabGeek@gmail.com, in the "referred by" section and I'll get a couple of free credits too. (You'll get your reward in heaven, or I'll invite you over for pie. Your choice. But the pie is pretty damn good, and your chances of getting into heaven might be a little iffy. )

One interesting caveat, though. The gay and lesbian section is also the heading under which anti-gay and lesbian books are found. I was browsing through the available books and between volumes of lesbian humor, lesbian mysteries and lesbian erotica I found stories about how much God hates lesbians. Oh, the irony.

A Dead Horse Beaten

The cop story:

I've been sort of blogjammed since the cop incident. We moved, and then I got busy doing new house things, and then...Officer Gibson.

In the immediate aftermath of my encounter with Officer Gibson, I did indeed travel all over Southern Illinois...over and over, in fact... to try to find some governing body who would punish him. I spoke to the state police, the state's attorney, and a variety of interested and/or knowledgeable people in law and law enforcement.

I did finally find the right person and she outlined a strategy to get my new friend Officer Gibson out of his patrol car and maybe into an unemployment line. Beyond that, though...not so much. He and the municipality he worked for could be sued for violating my civil rights, but not penalized in a criminal court. There's a lot of leeway afforded to police officers in the manner in which they arrest and detain people.

And in the short term, part of the resolution strategy outlined by the state's attorney was that I was to avoid telling this story to too many people. I interpreted that to mean probably not telling the entire Internets, so as of August 25th, I was pretty much dead in the water as a blogger. I couldn't tell the only story I needed to tell, so I couldn't really tell any story at all. I was stuck behind this boulder of a story and couldn't figure out a way to get around it.

But this morning seemed like as good a time as any to exorcise this demon and get back on track. I had been to court, told my story, and left it in the hands of a higher legal authority...and presumably they're dealing with it now. Whether they are or not, I don't feel any obligation to keep my mouth shut any longer, so here it is.

But on my way home tonight I was thinking about this in the context of the little moments that change the direction of your life. Maybe not change your actual life, but open a window to a view a person might not ever see, or even know they ought to see.

Ten years ago I got hit in the temple with an errantly thrown softball, and it instantly and radically changed my life forever. Five months ago I was handcuffed and bullied on the side of a dark highway. I didn't commit a crime, nor did I do any of the things that I would have typically expect to cause such a result. What I did was have the bad luck to be in the car that a crazy cop pulled over to shake down for cash, and the bad fortune to be both local and bothersome. It was the same amount of randomness as the softball and just as impersonal.

So. Power. You never notice it until you lose it.

In my real life, I'm a force to be reckoned with. I'm fairly smart and verbally nimble. I'm not fearless, but I'm brave enough to stand up for myself. I'm college-educated and middle class, and I expect to be treated with respect.

So when some big bruiser with a gun and a pair of handcuffs takes that away from me in an instant, it's a shock. There's a "maybe you're confused about who I am" moment, followed by a suspicion that this is happening because of who I am, and not in spite of it. Maybe if I wasn't a person who looks an asshole cop in the eye and says, "wtf??", he would have strutted around, metaphorically pissed on my bumper and drove off.

And then what? Well...I wouldn't have bruised wrists, a ticket for crossing the white line, and a burning feeling of almost-shame at having been so easily stripped of my power by some redneck moron who doesn't know one tenth of the things I know...and doesn't need to, since he has that gun-and-handcuff thing going for him.

So I'm still a middle-aged, middle class white woman with a couple of college degrees, and I don't for a moment imagine that I can understand what it must be like to be a person who expects to be randomly and gratuitously harassed for the crime of being, what...alive, maybe? But I certainly do have a better sense of the hopeless anger and frustration that comes with realizing that personal power only exists if everyone remembers to follow the same rule book. It doesn't matter how special I think I am if the guy with the handcuffs doesn't think so too.

But the silver lining of this experience is that it gives me another way to interpret and understand the world. When life is going according to the plan, whatever the plan happens to be, it feels linear, like a drive on a road. Follow it, and it will take you where you mean to go.

But when something like this happens, it makes it clear that life isn't a road, it's a field...every direction has some sort of value, and it will take you somewhere, even if it's not a place you thought you wanted to see. And those unintended detours add new color and nuance to our internal picture of the world.

I would always prefer things to work the way I want. But I can (grudgingly) see the value of, as my mother used to say, upsetting the apple cart. When we restack the apples they have an entirely different look, and a whole bunch of different apples are available for inspection.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In Which a White Laboratory Professional Gets Treated Like a Black Person, and Doesn't Care For It. Not One Bit.

I hate to juxtapose two unrelated topics when it's been so freakin' long since I posted on even one topic, but I have two things on my mind, and well...it's my blog. I can juxtapose my heart out and no one can stop me. Ha.

Thing one:

Last August I got pulled over on I-57 on my way home from work.

It was midnight-ish. I was driving 62 in a 65, wearing my seat belt, with all lights on the truck in good operating order...I knew I was in good shape. I saw the lights behind me and pulled onto the shoulder. The cop got out of his car, approached my window, and asked for my license, registration and insurance card. I wasn't sweating it because as an evening shifter who frequently comes home from work at about the time the bars close, I've been pulled over a few times on random drunk checks and I assumed this was that.

After a few minutes he brought all my paperwork back and said, "Have you been drinking tonight, Ma'am?" I told him no, I was on my way home from work at the hospital.

He stood there at my window for a while. He shined his flashlight into my truck. He stood there some more. Finally, I said, "What?"
And he replied, "You veered over the white line."
"Which white line?"
"That one", he said, pointing at the shoulder.
"No I didn't," says I, indignantly. "There's a rumble strip over there. If I had crossed the line, I would have rumbled. But I didn't. So I didn't cross the line."

At this point, my routine traffic stop got weird. The cop said, "Don't fucking lie to me! Get out of the vehicle!" I still thought he might think I was drinking, so I got out and prepared myself for a field sobriety test. What I wasn't prepared for was to be spun around, pushed against the side of the truck, and cuffed behind my back.

The cop continued yelling. "Don't fucking lie to me! Do you know what that is? That's obstruction of justice! You just bought yourself a ticket to jail for lying to a police officer!" Then walked me back to his car and pushed me into the back seat.

Did I mention I've never been arrested in my life? I've never been handcuffed, never even been in the back of a police car except the time my girlfriend forgot to pick my up at the Cape Fear Crocs game and a Fayetteville cop invited me and the kids to sit in his car to get out of the rain until she showed up.

So I was shocked into silence by the whole thing. I said, "You're kidding!" when he put the cuffs on, but that was it. So there I was, sitting silently in the back of the police car while he continued to yell at me, thinking what the hell? Can this actually be happening?

"Do you want to go to jail? Because that's where you're going. Lying to a police officer is a serious crime! And you won't see a judge before tomorrow, so no one is going to come down and get you out!

In between threats, Cop was studying a small computer on the dashboard next to him.

He asked me, "Do you still live at this address?"
I told him no, we'd moved to Cairo twelve days earlier and I hadn't yet changed my license.

"Don't fucking lie to me! There are no white people in Cairo! What's your real address?"

I gave him the address in Cairo and said, "Look. You can follow me home if you want, and watch me stick the key in the door."

He went back to his computer.

"Are you related to these people?" he finally said as he swivelled the screen around so I could see it in the back seat. "They're my kids." I said.

He ran his finger down the screen and rattled of a list of their various (traffic) crimes. Then he said, "What are you doing about this?"
"Not a damn thing. They're adults. They can take care of their own stuff."
"You're not a very good mother, are you?" he said.

Okay...NOW I was pissed. Handcuffs, insults, screaming accusations...ok. But denigrate my parenting? Oh hell no. Don't even go there. The next time he offered to take me to jail I said, "Fine. Have at it. If people go to jail for crossing the white line, then get on it. I'm ready."

He didn't reply, and continued studying his computer screen for a few more minutes. Finally, he took out his ticket book and wrote me a ticket for improper lane usage, and wrote "Lying to a police officer" in the comments section.

He got out of the car, opened the back door, pulled me out, removed the cuffs, and told me I could go. He was a big guy, so I had to look up to see his face. I said, "What's your name?"
"Officer Gibson, ma'am."
"Officer Gibson, are you a state trooper?"
"No ma'am. I'm an Ullin city police officer."
(What was with the "ma'am" all the sudden? Five minutes ago I was a pathological line-crossing liar. Now I'm "ma'am"?)

I looked up at him and said, "Officer Gibson, I'll be back in the morning to see your boss. Bastard." I was glad my voice wasn't shaking.

I walked back to the truck on quivery rubber legs and thought I'll be goddamned if I'll stumble in front of this bastard. Then I got in the truck, buckled up, turned on my turn signal, pulled out onto the highway, and cried like a girl all the way home.

Six months later, I still think about it every night when I come home from work.

(I was wrong...I won't tell the other story today. I have to take a shower and go to work now, but I'll get back to it later.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There. Now it's official. I'm senile.

Tonight on the drive home I scared myself. A lot.

I've been driving this 60 mile commute since mid-August and I know I-57 between Cairo and Marion like the back of my hand. I can drive it in the rain, in the fog, before dawn, after dark and, up until tonight, even when I'm deadly tired. Tonight I got lost coming home. Really lost, like "where the hell am I and where is home?!?" lost. If it weren't for the nifty direction finder in my car I might still be out there somewhere getting ready to cry.

I'm still not sure how it happened. It's dark and I was tired, but I know my exit. The highway curves to the left and the exit veers to the right. It takes a long curve to the right, then a curve to the left and comes to a stop. Then you turn left onto Route 3 and you're there. But tonight when the highway curved left and I veered right, taking the same long curves right and left, and came to a stop just like every other night, the left turn put me on little highway I've never seen and there was nothing familiar anywhere. I finally turned into an old pot-hole ridden gas station I've never seen before in my life and turned around. I found my way back to the highway, not sure which way to go, and took a guess. The next sign I saw said I still had seven miles to go to Cairo. At that point I was so confused I wondered if I'd somehow managed to drive across the bridge into Missouri without realizing it. There was still nothing that looked familiar. There were lots of lights I don't remember ever seeing and railroad overpasses that seemed completely unfamiliar and out of place. My directional computer thingie said that I was, indeed, still headed south, and the signs kept saying I was headed for Cairo, but nothing looked right to me until my exit came (again?) and it was exactly the exit I always take. But it was also exactly the exit I just took, except this time it went where it was supposed to.

I still don't know what happened, but whatever it was I didn't like it.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hellooooo?

So, where the hell have we been, anyway? Obviously not blogging. We've been reading, baking cookies, walking the dogs, hanging out on Facebook, working, commuting, settling into the new house and generally not being very interesting. Certainly not blog interesting. I feel guilty about it, if that counts, so I thought I'd make a token attempt to post something in November, what with it being NaBloWhatever.

On the upside, we're loving our house and our town. We're as settled in and unpacked as we can be until we erect the wall-o'-bookshelves; and aside from painting Ev's work-out room there aren't any other inside projects that need done right now, so we're in the idea gathering stage until some need reveals itself. Ev's big project has been clearing and cleaning up the lots we bought adjoining the house and wow, there was a lot of extra yard under that mess! We've been sneaking the dismantled chicken coop and other sundry trash from the yard to various dumpsters around town under cover of darkness, where we usually meet up with people who are taking things back out of them to sell for scrap. It's sort of like a social event ... but not. Burning shit in the yard was much more efficient!

Ev's also been collecting hundred-year-old bricks for the upcoming patio project. The really cool ones are heavy as hell and stamped with the year and manufacturer, so those are the ones she watches for when a house or building comes down (which they do with saddening frequency. We just lost three more historic downtown buildings last week). She and Pickle find the good rubble piles on their long walks (the last one was about six miles worth along the top of the levee clear to the Mississippi river) and then we go back (again under cover of darkness) to load bricks in the truck. I'm not sure anyone cares, but the clandestine nature of the scavenging makes it more fun. What can I say? We're easily entertained.

On the downside, Ev's been working way too much overtime way too often, Cooper's ear needed surgery for another hematoma, the Sebring has gone rapidly from being my dream car to a problem child to a goddamn mechanical albatross around my neck that spends as much time in the shop as on the road, and we finally had to put our sweet old Sage to sleep at the end of the summer. All in all, life balances out, but I wish it didn't feel the need to swing from one extreme to another in the process.

And I'm really really disappointed in President Obama.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death is lonely, Hunter


Today in Rhode Island, a bill that would allow same-sex couples to make burial decisions about each other passed the state Senate unanimously and the Assembly overwhelmingly, only to be vetoed by Gov. Don Carcieri on the grounds that it is a "disturbing erosion" of the "principles surrounding traditional marriage."

In an almost flawlessly executed catch-22 with a double twisting dismount, Carcieri stated that "he was also uncertain 'how it would be ascertained in many circumstances whether [a couple] had been in a relationship for year' since there is 'no official or recognized form'' of domestic partnership agreement in Rhode Island."

Ooooh, you're good, Gov. You've caught us. Our days of making fun-filled funeral arrangements in Rhode Island, and paying for the burial or cremation of any old body we want to, just for the hell of it, are over.

You can read about the veto here:


As the comments pointed out, there will probably be an override of the veto, but there's no overriding the hatred that led to it ... couched, as it was, in good intentions about family and tradition.

One of the many places that Carcieri's argument falls apart is that, in many cases, we're all we've got. For some of us, there is no family who wants anything to do with us, dead or alive. Others of us have families waiting in the wings for just such an occasion so they can punish our partners. Some of us have families from whom the only protection we and our partners have is each other. We don't want our screwed up families making the decisions our life partners should be making. Oh, silly me, that's the point, isn't it? To stand between us and those basic rights we want.

I've been wracking my brain, but I can't think of any group of people in the United States who were prevented by law from burying their dead. If we are to have no rights in life, can we not, at the very least, be afforded some small measure of dignity when we're dead?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

There's an excellent post at Jesus' General this morning, so in case he isn't already on your "must read" feeds, you ought to go and have a look at it. It's exactly what we've been saying here at our house with increasing frequency.

"I don't think they would get very far, but that doesn't necessarily deter extremists, does it? The hatred of and opposition to Bill Clinton was nearly as strong as what's being directed at Barack Obama, but it was under Clinton that we saw the growth of a violent militia movement. It was the militias --- extremist, racist and theocratic --- that gave birth to Timothy McVeigh and the worst terror attack in the United States before Al Qaeda's 9/11 strike."

Just last night I was saying to Ev that, considering the messages coming out of the right these days, they might just as well be broadcasting from bin Laden's cave. With elected government officials suggesting secession and coups, calling the duly-elected president of the United States an enemy of humanity, subverting foreign policy without censure by (if you'll pardon the recently overused phrase) going roque in Honduras and media personalities encouraging citizens to root for America to fail and celebrate when it does, how much more aid and comfort does the enemy need? Blankets and money drops? If not actual treason, this kind of rhetoric certainly falls under the definition of sedition.

The first amendment guarantees any crackpot the right to free speech, no matter how lunatic that speech may be, but as Ruth Calvo points out at Firedog Lake:

"While our usually deluded wingers are comfortable working against the public interest, outright sedition is a new tactic. While Perry and Pawlenty espouse the virtues of secession, actual interference with U.S. foreign policy is treason of a more active variety."


Whether or not the "Chinese curse" was ever actually uttered in China, it's sentiment is certainly applicable. I have lived in interesting times and I don't care for it. I remember 9/11. I also remember 11/22, 4/4, 6/5, 5/4 and 11/27. Once I start ticking off the dates of all the interesting times I've lived through --- from the Kennedys to Kent State, from MLK to Harvey Milk, from anti-war protests to Al Qaeda, it's hard to know where to stop.

I'm not old enough to have lived through McCarthyism, but I hear those were interesting times, as well. So, too, were the years between 1861 and 1865. Those are years about which some of our illustrious leaders and pundits might like to take a refresher course.

There must have been some pretty heated rhetoric following the Republican victory in the election of 1860. Heated enough to cause the secession of eleven states and bring about the deadliest war in American history --- one that would cost the lives of 620,000 American soldiers and untold numbers of civilian men, women and children.

I believe there truly are enemies of humanity in our midst, but they are not sitting in the White House. They are sitting in the United States Capitol, collecting a paycheck from American citizens while they thwart and obstruct the current administration's efforts to undo the damage done by the previous administration and decades of unrepentant, unrestrained, unfettered, deregulated corporate greed and financial mismanagement. They are being sponsored by corporations and exorbitantly compensated by a megalomaniacal Australian billionaire to broadcast 24 hours a day from the studios of Fox News.

They are preaching from pulpits, twittering terrorist threats and organizing armed overthrows of the government in basements in Oklahoma.

I've given up trying to figure out the why of it. Maybe it's fear, maybe it's racism, maybe it's religious fanaticism, maybe it's holding onto political power, maybe it's plain old-fashioned greed ... maybe it's simply human nature to hate and fear and be self-absorbed and self-interested to the exclusion of what's good for the planet or humanity as a whole. It no longer matters. Just like it doesn't matter what caused your brain cancer once you have it. What matters is how to get rid of it.

What I, as a tax paying citizen of the United States, would like to know is this: why is this being allowed to continue unchecked? You can't legislate rational thinking, but you can certainly uphold laws that protect the president and the government from assassination threats, treason and sedition. I would like to know why people are being allowed to carry firearms to a presidential speech in 2009, when four short years ago you couldn't attend one without first signing a loyalty oath.I would like to know why outright acts of sedition and hate speech are being ignored, and why threats against the president are not being prosecuted by any of our various and sundry law enforcement agencies.

Stupidity and swaggering bullshit is one thing, but this has crossed the line and become something else altogether.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

People

Yesterday I spent an hour squabbling with the phone company over our bad connection. Finally, when my voice apparently faded away completely and the woman from Verizon was saying, "Hello? Hello? Can you call me back from a different phone?" I gave up.

We live kitty-corner from the City Hall, so I walked over there to see if maybe they had a pay phone. The City Manager greeted me and said, "Hey! How are our newest residents doing! Are you all moved in?"

I laughed a little at that idea and told him I wish, but no...we're still threading our way between the boxes.

I explained my phone woe and asked if they had a pay phone at the City Hall. He said no, and asked me if pay phones still even exist...they're pretty much antiques now. The clerk offered me the use of her cell phone and I made a couple of calls, then I asked them about the local phone service.

"AT&T is the land-line provider and Verizon is the only cell service that gets a signal here.", said City Manager.

"Really? No one else has service here? Are they planning to?"

"No", he said, "You gotta have people for that. We ain't got any people."

At first I thought he meant you have to have important people who will lobby with state government and utility companies for better infrastructure and services, but after a minute it dawned on me that he really meant what he had said literally. We have no people. Cairo is a town that went from a population of thirty thousand in the 1960s to twenty five hundred today. That's a loss of more than 90% of it's population in 40 years.

We have no people. In my head, "people" is turning into a word that should be capitalized. The Holy Grail of dying small towns in the Midwest. People.

The last thing he said to me when I was leaving was, "If you know any people looking to move to a nice little town, you tell 'em to come here. We need people."

Well, People?

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

I got up this morning and thought I might work out. Then I carried 32 boxes of books out of the shed. Now I think I might lay down instead. How the mighty have fallen.

Always Thinkin'

Today we drove to Columbia, MO to deliver 7 of the ducks to their new caregiver, Fritz. I avoid the word "owner" because if you've spent any time with ducks, you know better about who owns whom.

We had a tasty housewarming breakfast/lunch with Fritz and Ann (With an "e"? I forgot to ask.), a fun but too brief conversation about politics, and then we drove home as empty nesters (heh). On the way home we were discussing our second favorite topic: how much we hate conservative talk radio nutbags and what interesting things they manage to cobble together into a conspiracy theory, such as:

Vince Foster, dead friend of Democratic President. Marilyn Monroe, dead lover of a Democratic President. BOTH DEAD. Coincidence? Could they have been killed for what they knew? Or could they actually be the SAME PERSON??

Consider this: they were both known to hobnob with people in their respective president's inner circle, yet they have never been photographed together. Why? And what of Lorena Hickok? Is it any coincidence that she's dead too?

Clearly, the Democrats have systematically worked to eliminate anyone who could expose their Communistic intentions, sometimes waiting until their victims were in their nineties to strike. We demand a Senatorial panel be convened to look into this, and articles of impeachment be drawn up for John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and of course the nefarious Clintons, all of whom have shown signs of Socialistic homosexual tendencies. Deceased defendants should not be shown leniency, as they would certainly be murdering your grandmother via their Death Panels if given the opportunity.

A nice paranoid conspiracy theory is essential to deflecting attention from actual issues, and instead drawing Democrats into a baffling morass of absurdity. Don't have any way to counter single-payer health care? Let's talk about the President's birth certificate.

For some reason, Democrats fall for this over and over again: whenever they're in danger of actually confronting the issues that got them elected in the first place, a well-placed Vince Foster, Monica Lewinski, Kenyan birth certificate and/or death panel can bring a policy debate to it's knees.

How can a party that's smart enough to force the Democrats onto the defensive over and over be dumb enough to propose Sarah Palin as the fresh new face of American politics? Because they think were not smart enough to pay attention to the life and death issues we'll be confronted with for the rest of our lives.

Screw the birth certificate. I don't care if he was born on the moon, if Obama can get us health care AND civil rights in his first term. If we get bogged down again and let this oportunity pass, I'll volunteer to be on the Death Panel the ends up killing Sarah Palin's grandmother myself. Its the least I can do for my country.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Adventure Begins

Well, this is it.

Today will be our last official day living in the place that's been our home since we moved to Southern Illinois three and a half years ago. I won't miss renting, and I won't miss our landlord, but I'll miss all the prettiness in our big yard and I'll miss the ducks. I won't miss Ev having to work so hard to keep the mower and weedwhacker and chainsaw running to keep it pretty, but I'll miss the bonfires; and, for at least this winter until we figure out how to convert the fireplace from a coal-burner, I'll miss the fireplace. I won't miss the nasty goddamn above-ground pool/mosquito brooder the landlord has stubbornly refused to remove, or his crappy trailer parked behind our house, or his junked truck parked in the yard, or the rutted gravel driveway he refuses to repair. In short, I won't miss paying to live in a place where we're at someone else's mercy.

I'm excited about our new house and looking forward to what comes next for us, but the whole ritual of taking apart a house, and handling and packing every item in it, is always bittersweet for me. I have several things that belonged to my parents and grandparents, so I think about them while I'm packing those things ... and then I handle all that Ev and I brought with us from other times and other relationships, and all that we've acquired together, and I think about our personal histories and our history together.

I get into a whole "circle of yife" space, which sort of inevitably leads to spending a portion of the packing time thinking about mortality, and what sums up a life, and what all this stuff I'm packing carefully against breakage is really worth in the grand sceme of things. Eventually, it will be a huge burden on our kids, to whom most of it will be yard sale fodder. I wonder what they'll hang onto? I hung onto Grandmother's crockery and a coffee cup from a Santa Fe Railroad dining car, a wooden medical kit with some syringes Grandaddy used to vaccinate his cattle, Mamaw's sugar bowl and Mother's sewing machine. My dad's ashes have been living on our bookshelf for five years now, trying to make their way back to South Padre Island. A combined 438 years of life and acquiring stuff, summed up in a box of photos and a dozen or so physical items. It gives one pause.

I woke up this morning thinking about the little blue dress my mom made for me when I was a flower girl at my cousin's wedding at the age of five. It was a beautiful little dress and my mom packed it away carefully in layers of tissue paper and saved it for nearly fifty years. She also saved many of our childhood toys ... special dolls and such ... intending for my sister and I to have them someday. When Mom got too ill to live on her own, my sister and I divided up the tasks. I took Mom to Arizona to stay with me until my sister could sell her house and bring the few remaining items to set her up in an assisted living apartment. She brought me some things from mom's house, but not the little blue dress or the baby dolls. I asked her about them and she said she threw them away. So, I woke up this morning wishing I'd been there to grab them off the discard pile and thinking that this is one of the reasons I care about all the stuff around here ... who knows what little dumb thing we haul around with us might be just the thing one of the kids treasures someday? I don't want them to wake up and wonder what ever happened to it, whatever it is.

But the overweaning thought that comes to me a hundred times a day during this process is how grateful I am for all the processes that came before it -- all the other moves, the weddings and divorces, the births and deaths, the falling in love and then crying over breakups, the things gone missing, the things kept, the people who influenced me and are no longer here, the people who are still here ... all of what brought me to this relationship, at this time in my life, on the verge of this move with Ev and the next chapter of our life together -- because this is perfect.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Diversity Training

We had an hour's worth of mandatory diversity training at my work yesterday, which was just enough time to say, "Although everyone in this room is white, you may encounter some non-white people at some time in your career. If that happens, be nice to them."

It was an exercise in PC agony. At one point the instructor asked if anyone could think of a stereotype applied to people of another culture, and the room was silent. How to repeat a racial slur without admitting you actually know a racial slur? A dilemma for sure. One woman finally started mumbling about wives who answer questions for their husbands and then trailed off, unwilling to say which wives and husbands.

So because I'm Evie and I Know Things, I finally piped up.

"Jews are cheap and Mexicans are lazy."
The guy behind me said, "Mexicans aren't lazy!"
"I know that. That's why it's a stereotype, not an actual fact!"

(He must know a Mexican. *sigh*)

Considering that my workplace is a hotbed of racial jokes, ethnic stereotypes, queer bashing and sexism, I'm going to go out on a limb and say an hour of diversity training won't be enough for a lot of folks. But it did fulfill our government-mandated quota for another year. And isn't that what really matters?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

T-Minus 1 Week

It's the last week before moving day!

Not much to blog about unless you like stories about packing up books and kitchen utensils, sorting through old papers and broken stuff and trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away.

The only bloggable story we've had this week was a sad one. We had a houseful of family and friends on Family Sunday, and one of the guests brought his labrador retriever (Archimedes or Agamemnon or Antichrist, or whatever his name was) to play with our dogs. It was all fun and games and big dog rasslin' and yard romping until Rob came around the side of the house dangling a big lifeless bird by the legs. It was our Spanish Black turkey ... cut down in the prime of its life. This put something of a damper on Family Sunday. And, as unpleasant as it was for us, it was probably even more unpleasant for the guest whose dog did the deed. Great way to make a first impression on people you've never me ... drop by and kill their pets.

So what do you do with a murdered turkey you've raised from poult-hood, held and petted and cuddled while it napped? You do the only thing you can do. You have the ex-husband take the two twenty-something young men out back and teach them how to ... well ... you know ... turn it into food.

They were quite a bit more excited about the prospect than we were prepared for, and took to the task with what I can only call relish ... and a dull-ish axe. The inedible parts were relegated to the burn pile where we performed a ceremonial cremation later in the evening. The edible part was placed lovingly in a very small roaster, seasoned lightly and baked for an hour, and (after a few beers) the guys produced their trophies ... Jenny-O's ex-feet with tendons still attached, useful for grasping, photographing and making YouTube videos.

I admit to taking part in that last bit. Sometimes, in the immortal words of Monty Python, you have to look on the bright side of death.

Jenny-O's buddy was bereft and spent the next day and a half wandering around the yard searching and calling for her, then started hanging around the pond with the ducks trying to swim. Turkeys don't swim. I kept carrying it back home to keep it from drowning itself, and then we took it into town yesterday and gave it to one of Ev's co-workers who has a farm. She has other turkeys (not for eating), horses, chickens, ducks, pet raccoons and peacocks. When I went to get Butterball from the pond for the last time he was hanging out with the neighbor's young son, fishing from the bank. It was a regular Tom Sawyer moment.


So ... moving to town has begun. The turkeys are gone, seven of the ducks will be going to Fritz's farm in Iowa, four will be staying here with the neighbors and we're going to try taking six to town with us if we can. If not, Katie has a friend whose mother will take them.

This has been an interesting introduction to Southern Illinois for my city-bred son. The first night he was here he was introduced to the age-old sport of frog giggin'. Two days later he was butchering poultry. The next day he went for a walk in the woods and came face to face with a five foot long black racer. Welcome to rural life, kiddo.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ho-Moaners


In case you're the last person on earth who a) cares and b) hasn't already heard this in person, via e-mail, or read it on Facebook or one of the message boards we post on:

We signed the contract and transferred the down payment yesterday, met the Mayor and got our official handshake and welcome to town, and there you go ... we bought the house!

We get the keys on August 12th and then we've got five days to get our stuff moved, our ducks and turkeys redistributed to their various new homes, the empty lots cleared of grass and weeds to make room for Ev's shed and have a refrigerator delivered and installed.

Except for the self-inflicted anxiety and fretting and waiting for something to go wrong, this has been a practically painless transaction. Woooooo-hooooo!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Which Ev and Kwach Go to Town



We've been keeping a secret.

It's not that we didn't want to share it with the world, it's that we didn't want to jinx it by publishing it and then having to rub salt in the wound by retracting it, as has happened in the past.

Those of you who've been reading us for awhile may remember that we've been looking for a house to buy in Cairo, Illinois for a long time, and that we came very close a year or so ago. When that didn't pan out we dithered about building on our land vs continuing to look for houses in Cairo vs buying a house we didn't really want as a temporary step on the road to one we really did want, just to get out from under our not-entirely-honest-as-the-day-is-long landlord. (We dither almost as well as we process, which is really saying something.)

Ev spends a goodly amount of her online time perusing Craigslist and realty sites, keeping her eyes peeled for the perfect house, and once in awhile she shows one of them to me if she thinks it's a good possibility. A couple of weeks ago she showed me one she's been watching on Craigslist for a long time. It gets listed repeatedly, but apparently without any takers. I took one look at it and said, "oh HELL, yes!" After a few e-mail exchanges with the seller and a trip down to Cairo to look at the house, we're there! The seller has the earnest money, we're signing the contract next week, and we're getting the keys on August 12th.

Folks, patience and perseverence have paid off and we found our house! It needs exactly nothing in terms of rehab, and its only miniscule fault was that it sits on only two town lots. But the six (yes, I said six) adjoining 25' x 100+' lots are all available and we're in the process of buying the first two from the city.

The best part of this transaction is that it's been conducted between the seller and ourselves in a very friendly and non-adversarial way. She had us write the contract, she's paying the costs for filing it, and she's selling us the house on a zero interest contract for deed, so it will be completely ours and paid for in three years. Why is she doing this? Because she's going to California to study for the ministry and she doesn't believe in usury and she does believe that we're a gift from God. (We could have told her that!) It sounds flakey when we try to explain it, but you'd have to meet her to understand it. She's got that big open friendly honest people vibe, and this has all happened so effortlessly that you just know in your gut that it's right.

So, about the house ...

It was built in 1897, it's got all the original woodwork and chandeliers, the plumbing and electricity have been upgraded, it has a working furnace and dual upstairs and downstairs central air, a full concrete-floored walk-out basement, three full baths (one with a clawfoot tub), three big living spaces downstairs that are joined by enormous oak pocket doors, a fireplace, original wood floors ... and an ENORMOUS eat-in country kitchen and walk-in pantry. Did I mention it doesn't need any work and it's move-in ready???? Hallelujah!

I fretted about finding new homes for the ducks, but that's working out better than I imagined. Our friend, Fritz, is taking some of them to his small farm in Iowa, where they'll live on his pond and share the land with his chickens and pheasants. His daughter plans to name one of them Ferdinand. The turkeys are going to one of Ev's co-workers who already has turkeys. Our neighbor (who has turned out to be a secret Duck Whisperer, and has even begun to tame the skittish new ducks who sit at his feet and eat corn out of his hands) has asked for the duck dome and four babies, and the other six babies will be moving to town with us to become ornamental yard ducks. The seller checked, and there's no ordinance against ducks in town, so she's leaving us her chicken coop, and there's already a small fenced yard to contain them. Six ducks is a good number for town. There, I think that's as many times as you can include the word "ducks" in a single paragraph without incurring some kind of literary fine.

Happily, we won't even need to change the name of the blog, because Cairo is still pretty much Nowhere, Illinois, which is exactly why it's our kind of town! The history and demographics of Cairo are endlessly fascinating. It's 60% black, 40% white and 0.2% lesbian. Now it will be 0.35% lesbian. You gotta start somewhere!

Friday, July 24, 2009

TLE and Me

I took yesterday off work as a mental health day, and I think it worked. I spent the day sitting around reading, cruising Facebook, and generally slacking off. Today is also my day off, but I'll have to actually spend it productively.

I changed seizure med about 6 weeks ago, since my insurance provider will no longer cover Lamictal. I've been taking a generic version, Lamotrigene, which works like Lamictal but not as well. And because I'm a temporal lobe seizure person and not a generalized seizure person, "not as well" for me doesn't cause me to roll around on the floor and pee on myself, it causes me to think and behave oddly. Just to recap, temporal lobe epilepsy, or TLE, looks like this on me:

(from Wikipedia)
Symptoms

The symptoms felt by the patient with TLE and the signs observable by others during seizures depend upon the specific areas of the temporal lobes and neighboring brain areas affected by the seizure. The Classification of Epileptic Seizures published in 1981 by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) recognizes three types of seizures which persons with TLE may experience.
Simple Partial Seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe and do not affect consciousness. These are seizures which primarily cause sensations. These sensations may be mnestic such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), a specific single or set of memories, or amnesia. The sensations may be auditory such as a sound or tune, or gustatory such as a taste, or olfactory such as a smell that is not truly present. Sensations can also be visual or involve feelings on the skin or in the internal organs. The latter feelings may seem to move over the body. Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other sensations can also occur during SPS. Often, it is hard for persons with SPS of TLE to describe the feeling. SPS are often called "auras," and are sometimes thought to be preludes to more severe seizures.

So my ability to function is for the most part left unimpaired, except that I can feel the hallucinations lurking around the corner (or more precisely, behind my right shoulder) and under stress I feel emotionally more volatile than I normally do. The idea of beating my head to pulp on the pavement starts to seem like it might be a good thing to do.

Since I've been on this ride before, I know how it works: I try harder to avoid stress by hiding out from my life, which works well for a while, until it begins to cause more stress than it cures. In the end I turn into a fearful, self-destructive hermit...and that's attractive, doncha think?

So my mental health day was to get a little more level and beat back the demons. I think it has mostly worked. Now it's time to plug back in and re-engage with my life.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Huh

We went out in the world and visited old friends for the weekend. It was wonderful to see them again and talk about the old stuff and catch up on the new stuff, but it reminded me that it's been almost 30 years since we've lived in the same town.

How does that happen?? How does 30 years pass when you're not paying attention? It makes me worry a little about the next 30. I think maybe I should be taking notes.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Near Miss

I almost had a sighting of my children today. I passed them pulling into the driveway as I was pulling out for work. Nice almost seeing you, kids!

So Robbie? If you're out there? I need a haircut. Bring the clippers with your laundry next time. I'll lay in a supply of beer.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

For Val

I promised Val I would e-mail her a picture of the red truck, but I apparently don't have her e-mail address (which must mean that she has only given it to me 6 or 7 times, and not the actual 12 times required to make me stumble across it at exactly the right moment and put it in my address book). I know she reads here,even though she's too shiftless to actually comment. If you need something scrubbed with a Hype-Wipe, Val's your girl. If you need a pithy comment on your blog...not so much.
So Peeps...the red truck.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pressure! Do I Need More Pressure?

Our little Joshie is going off to the Army to make America safe for pharmaceuticals. Or something like that. I'm not exactly sure, but he assures me that no guns will be involved and that any combat he's likely to be in will more likely involve the throwing of pill bottles than the shooting of guns, so I'm thinking this most likely won't turn into a "Johnny Got His Gun" situation. However, I'll be brushing up on my Morse code, just in case.

I'm expected to be the Official Recorder of Absurdity in his absence. That task requires treading a fine line; one man's absurdity is another man's tragic unrequited love for a pregnant stripper. The important thing is to put my own biases aside and create an unvarnished record that will let Josh feel the same stomach-churning frustration the rest of us feel every time we slip on the lab coat and step into the swirling miasma of melodrama and angst that characterize our professional lives.

To that end, I ask those of you who happen to work with me to please refrain from ratting me out to the boss., and if you have any fun dirt to pass along to Josh, please forward it to me in a typed double-spaced 500 word essay, or on the back of a torn unreceived specimen list with a suspicious fluid smeared on the corner. It's the least we can do for our boy on the front lines.

Josh, you're the Cool Hand Luke of the laboratory. Please send pictures of yourself with hot chicks you picked up in the mess hall or the commissary, even if you have to pay them to stand next to you. In return, I promise to send you Photoshopped pictures of Boss in stiletto heels and a Hitler mustache holding an Employee Opinion Survey in one hand and a 10 mL pipetter in the other, and remind you why being shot at by terrorists is preferable to another day with your laboratory family.

Carpe the Carp, Josh! And remember our motto:

"I wonder if I can have some organ removed that will get me 12 weeks of FMLA? Do people actually use their spleen for anything?"

Friday, July 03, 2009

Blog Neglect


It's not like there's nothing to blog about, because we've been busy and stuff ...

Vacation:


We had a great one! The first day, we drove through Kentucky and Tennessee on the way to Cherokee, NC and got a chance to stop in Whitwell, TN. "What's in Whitwell?" I hear you asking. Whitwell is the home of the Children's Holocaust Memorial, made famous in the documentary "Paper Clips," which you should see if you haven't. We'd been planning to get there and see it and it was right on the way to Chattanooga, so that was a bonus we hadn't counted on. We weren't able to go inside the tiny German rail transport car that houses the 11 million paper clips, but we did get pictures of it. Standing in front of it, it's still impossible to truly imagine hundreds of human beings inside it.

Less inspiring was the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville. Who knew it was now a shopping mall attraction attached to Opryland? Ye Gods, we hope to never pass through that wasteland again. Whoever the Gaylords are, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Chattanooga, however, is a beautiful city, and the gorgeous countryside and pristine whitewater rivers of eastern Tennessee scrubbed the nastiness of Nashville from our brains. Then it was a long, slow, winding drive up the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in a blinding rainstorm to get to our "free" room at Harrah's Cherokee, for which we gladly traded a hundred bucks of penny slot play. I tried to make use of all the amenities the room had to offer, but the jacuzzi tub shot me in the head and made a lake out of the bathroom, so I just stole WiFi from some other hotel that doesn't charge for it instead.

Day two we were on to Charleston and a great room at the historic Mills House Hotel downtown. We walked miles looking at the gorgeosity that is Charleston, walked the Battery, peeked in all the gardens, took lots of pictures and found a brew pub to sample the cuisine and the local beer. I picked up a copy of the New Testament in Gullah and we bought a coffee table book with before and after pictures of the places we'd just been looking at in Charleston, then returned to our hotel to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the fountain. The next morning we visited the Old Slave Market museum before heading for the beaches of North Carolina.


Day three and four were spent enjoying Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, NC. We romped in the surf, visited the North Carolina Aquarium, took the car ferry across the Cape Fear River and toured the USS North Carolina, which is very huge and very hot and very impressive in an "oh. my. god. I can't believe they lived like this" kind of way.

We ate at another brew pub and I had the best dinner I can recall having in a long time ... shrimp and grits, Charleston style. Indescribably tasty and just spicy enough! Ev proclaimed the pale ale "excellent!" The beach was relaxing and wonderful and we got sore calf muscles from all the beach walking and shell collecting. Ev almost caught a crab (the kind you eat) and lost her favorite banjo pick out of her pocket ... so, some good and some not-so-good, but the sum total was that we've decided we have to retire to the beach. We'll be needing donations, so get those in the mail right away, won't you?

Day five we were back on the road to Cherokee for the return trip and our second free hotel night. This time we had a lot of fun spending hours taking back our original hundred dollars, thankyouverymuch, and didn't spend it at the god-awful racist tourist traps all over town.





Day six we went up and over the Smokies on the way home, and I experienced something close to religious ecstasy. It brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it's the prettiest place I've ever seen, but probably it's just the prettiest place I've seen recently. At any rate, it's damned pretty. Coming out of the mountains into Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood will snap you right out of it, though. We had considered Gatlinburg as a vacation destination at one time. We're very much over it.

Please feel free to enjoy the rest of our vacation snapshots here, if you're so inclined.

Home:

We arrived home and found that Katie had done a great job taking care of the compound and all the critters alive and well, except that Pickle had acquired a brown recluse bite on her little head which had swelled to magnificent proportions, requiring a trip to the vet for antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Once her head finished draining she went back for her hysterectomy, from which she's recovering nicely. I don't think she'll require the ten weeks off work that Ev's co-worker required for the same surgery, which is a shame, because I would totally have taken FMLA to help her convalesce if necessary. I'm that kind of good dog mother! We also discovered that we have a new flat tuxedo porch kitten who had been living (just barely) in the woods. We're fattening her up and hoping to keep her an outside cat. We shall see when the weather turns cold. She loves us, loves the dogs and loves the poultry ... and tries mightily to come inside when we open the door. Not very feral for a feral cat.

The turkeys are still friendly and have learned how to fly the coop, so they spend a good part of their day wandering the yard eating bugs and weeds, but the ducks are insane and hate us now. A week with only minimal human interaction has made them feral. They run and hide in the dome if we even step out on the deck, and they go completely insane and trample each other when we attend to their feed, water and straw needs. Ungrateful little fluffy-headed bitchez!

In sad news, we lost another Rouen. We're down to the last two now, and I can't bear the idea of losing them all, so we've confined them to the pen with the other ducks. They aren't happy about it, but I'm hoping they'll bond with the others and get attached to the new flock. The upside is that they aren't hiding their eggs in Al's burn pile anymore, so we can eat them again. (Al has been intently watching and waiting for them to hatch, even after we explained that there's no male duck. He says, "I'm going to give them another week." Good luck with that ...)

Okay, that's all the news from Nowhere. Over and under.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reconciliation - ur doin it wrong

AP Newsbreak:

"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story," Sanford said."A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."

During an emotional interview at his Statehouse office with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sanford said Chapur is his soul mate but he's trying to fall back in love with his wife.



Do you suppose Jenny Sanford can even pick her head up and crawl out of bed in the morning anymore? What an asshole.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Damn

I just heard from a friend I met through the blog ... a fellow duck lover ... that one of his Cayuga ducks was killed this morning on his pond. It brought me right back to the day we lost our first Cayuga, and it struck me that, as jaded as the world seems sometimes, I'm proud to know other people who have the kind of heart that can be broken by a duck.

There's something about taking care of these funny, helpless creatures that runs the gamut from entertaining to exasperating to emotionally draining. As our original flock dwindled slowly from ten to six, and then suddenly from six to three ... and as we discovered that 15 ducklings is, in practical terms, at least three times as much work and worry as our original eight ... I sometimes question why we ever took on the care and feeding of ducks. They can be hard work, and you worry about them. Then you forget to worry and something goes terribly wrong. Every time we've lost a duck I've felt sad and angry, and guilty that I hadn't done things differently or taken better care of them somehow.

Ev always reminds me that the ducks are happy and that the smartest of them have survived over a year despite living in a place where there are all kinds of predators ... Darwin and all that ... and that they wouldn't be happy if we kept them safely penned up all the time. I know she's right, but it's still hard to see one less duck coming to the house for feed in the morning. My heart goes out to my friend, Fritz.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mark Sanford is Sorry

Mark Sanford, the recently misplace Governor of South Carolina, is sorry. He would like us all to know how sorry he is to have been caught violating his marriage vows. And how very sorry he is to have torpedoed his hope for a Presidential bid in 2012. Very, very sorry.

Once again, we're in the position of gleefully laughing about the schadenfreudosity of another "family values" politician who's built a career on tut-tutting the immorality of Teh Gays, getting nailed (heh) with his pants around his ankles.

Potential GOP presidential hopefuls are dropping like flies these days because of their pants problems: they can't seem to keep them on. Nevada Senator John Ensign is also sorry. So are Larry Craig, David Vitter, Newt Gingrich and a whole host of other former political hopefuls with pants problems.

And from the Dem side, Eliot Spitzer and Jim McGreevy are also sorry. Bill Clinton was very sorry (but not so sorry he didn't think DOMA was a good idea to protect the sanctity of hetero marriage from potential gay interlopers).

And once again, I'm brought to this point. Guys, whatever is going on or not going on in your primary relationship is your business as long as we can agree that the same is true for me. However, when you pontificate about the sanctity of your hetero marriage while condemning me for wanting the same right, I admit...I get an enormous amount of enjoyment from your marital pratfalls.

Whoops! Another member of the Morality Policy trips over his freshly lubed nightstick. And it's our obligation as Americans to pass judgment on your sexual habits, right? Or...did you just mean for that to be for the rest of us?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Because We're Lesbians...

...we've acquired yet another cat. This one is a stray that was waiting for us in the yard when we got back from vacation yesterday. A vacation, by the way, that truly rocked out loud. A vacation which has left us fantasizing about quitting our jobs and living on the beach with our ducks.

So anyway, about the cat...

I'm pretty sure it's the offspring of the feral cat that had a litter of kittens under our landlord's abandoned truck last year. This one, as Bob is my witless, will stay an outdoor cat. Not like Mrs. Foot, who merely pretended to be an outdoor cat to lull us into complacency and then moved indoor with a vengeance, taking over our bed and the sofa, and intimidating the dogs into snivelling cowards.

This new cat has an appointment to get spayed next week (Hey guys! I'm going to the vet to get tutored!) to prevent the inevitable litter of kittens to follow, which would cause us to have twenty feral cats living on our porch and put us in the position of trying to give them away to our friends and neighbors, leave them anonymously in baskets on stranger's doorsteps, and maybe put a few in the drop boxes of the library and post office.

Oh...and Pickle got bit on her head by a spider last night and has a vet appointment too, since her head is all bloated and she looks pathetic and even weirder than normal...which is saying a lot for Pickle.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good Honest Sweat

More along the lines of the kind of thing you really come here to read, here's a little poultry update for you:

Despite my existential funk, the poultry must still be tended to, and I tended to them mightily today. The big duck girls are running around the house quacking for their food and they keep running over to check out the cool new yard I built for the babies this afternoon. All by myself!

I dropped Ev off at work and then went to Rural King for straw, feed and fencing. Pounded a dozen wooden fence posts into the ground and strung 50 feet of shiny new poultry fencing to it, installed a small pool for them, gave them clean straw bedding, filled their feeder and waterer and put them out in the fenced exercise yard to entice them out of the dome. They ain't havin' it. They're all lying just inside the door looking longingly out, but not a one of them is brave enough to step one webbed foot over the threshold and come out under the big wide open sky.

I dragged a few of them out by hand and put them in the pool, but they jumped out and ran screaming back to the rest of the flock huddled inside. The big girls, however, are looking like they'd like to use the pool, so I'll go out and invite them in. They've already met the babies once and no one seemed to mind eating together, so we'll give it a go. Maybe they can teach them to be ducks.

The turkeys are growing and happy in their own little coop and enclosed yard, but I attached the big yard to their pen so they can come out and enjoy it, too.

I wish I were poultry.

Fuck It

I haven't blogged because, frankly, I'm just too damn tired. Not tired as in "fatigued" or in need of a good night's sleep. Not even the kind of tired that can be relieved by the well-deserved vacation we're taking next week. I'm existentially exhausted. It's the kind of tired that even the antics of baby poultry and a great visit with out-of-town guests who bring a big fluffy puppy to play with Pickle for a week can't relieve.

Tired probably isn't the right word for it. I'm demoralized, discouraged, disheartened and downcast. I'm shot down, cast-down, bummed out and blue. My spirits are low, man. I'm forlorn.

I don't see the point in blogging about it, because a) it's not what you folks want to read, and b) there are other bloggers out there doing a much better journalistic and fact-based job of it, but really, I don't see the point in blogging about anything else, either, because the reality is that I'm not feeling funny and that's a fact.

Life in Nowhere continues as it always does, with the usual round of poultry stories, truck stories, landlord stories, work-related stories and upcoming vacation news, but in the five months since Inauguration Day it's been overshadowed by a creeping, cancerous angst.

Whatever else we are here in Nowhere, we're a middle-class gay couple who can't get married. We're in the same middle class that's drowning and disappearing in these economic times, but our little gay slice of the middle class is doubly invisible to the Obama administration we helped elect. Now it appears, according to the DoJ, that keeping People Like Us away from our civil rights and federal marriage recognition and benefits is good for the economy ... although it's not that great for our personal economy. So we hear a lot about ourselves on the news and read about ourselves in our RSS feeds and find ourselves being debated by politicians and pastors and pundits ... and it feels a bit like being a helpless bug pinned to a piece of crap encrusted cardboard. I keep telling Ev that I don't recognize this country anymore. I don't recognize the hate-filled rhetoric being broadcast on TV news shows. And I sure as hell don't recognize the man I held out so much hope for and for whom I wept tears of joy on election night.

Ev says this is the same country I've always lived in, but I was living in the other half of it ... the white heterosexual middle-class half ... for the first 40 years of my life. Now I'm living in the half that actually feels the stick the other half has always been poking someone with.

I had held out a hope during the presidential race last year that We the People could do something positive to turn this country around before it imploded. I thought we were electing someone who meant what he said about equality and civil rights and healthcare reform and transparency in Washington and fierce advocacy, but what really happened is that I got seriously schooled in the realities of politics. Everyone makes campaign promises they have no intention of keeping to get elected. Everyone curries favor and takes campaign contributions from the folks who can least afford to make them and then throws someone under the bus. Everyone lies. Next go-round I'm finding out who the fucking Anarchist Party candidate is and sending them every dime I've got. At least I'll know where they really stand.

I don't know what the country feels like right now to everyone else, but inside my head it feels like we're taking so many hits from both our gay and our middle-class sides and being so completely sold out to corporate bailouts, political pandering, religious extremism and outright bullshit that the only possible outcome is for this nation to collapse under the weight of it's own greed and ugliness, and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing anymore. Sometimes the only way to fix something is to completely dismantle it and start the fuck over.

And would someone please tell me why we spent bazillions of dollars and wasted tens of thousands of lives to go halfway around the world and fight some nebulous religious terrorist regime when we've got our own Christian Taliban right here in the good old USA?

Anyone who'd like to give me the "America, Love it or Leave it" speech is welcome to hand me a one way ticket to Canada along with it. I'll be on the next goddamn bus.

Barring that, we'll be going to Asheville, Charlotte and the Outer Banks next week to play on the beach for our birthdays. Harrah's will be giving us free accommodations, because queer money spends just like straight money and, although they aren't very generous with the jackpots, at least they have no qualms about treating us like a couple and letting us bunk together in their lovely hotels. The rest of America should buy a hint.