Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Week In View

Seen in and around Dayton, Washington.
Main Street runs East-West.  This is looking West.

Pretty running trail that runs North-South.  Here it's looking North

Touchet (pronounced TOO-shee) River looking North

Same river, but with pretty foliage.
Touchet river by a happy old hill.

My mother's brother- Uncle Steve 
See the resemblance?

My grandparent's place. Five acres out the Patit road.  My aunt and uncle bought it and remodeled.

Aunt Vina's cabin.  She was my Great-Grandmother's sister. My uncle and aunt have it now too.  Before that, it was my Uncle Vernon's. Waaay up in the hills. No electricy or running water. Or plumbing.

The inscription says "Have a seat on a glacial erratic deposited in Columbia County by the great floods of ancient Lake Missoula". Way cool.
My first cousin, Chryssee.

Chryssee's daughter, A----.
My Grandparent's mailbox, left unchanged

Happy for new siding.  The old stuff was three shades of green.

New everything inside, including the kitchen...

...and the livingroom.
As you can see, it was a happy visit to my little town.  Grey got to meet some members of my family and look around Columbia County.  And now we don't have to go back for a little while.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day Town

Well, I'm driving.
Eleanor came with us because the cat sitter is out of town.  She is nonplussed and heavily drugged.  Eleanor does not like car rides and takes a form of kitty valium called acepromazine for when she goes any distance with us.  She is really stoned and that's or the best because she meows, climbs all over the car and generally works herself up into a frenzy.

Before I started giving her prescriptions for travel, my vet recommended "Rescue Remedy" and Benadryl.  Rescue Remedy is apparently a naturopathic placebo.  Only nobody told Eleanor what it's supposed to do before we gave it to her.  On one of our trips to Tulsa, she was cranky the whole way and tormented me, spreading hair all over my boyfriend's car.

When I tried Benadryl, she foamed at the mouth, acted like she had a sick tummy, and puked (twice) right into my hand.  At least she didn't hit the seats or anything.  She also pooped on my foot while she was puking into my hand.  But hey, at least she didn't hit the floorboard. It was a long day for everyone, and I ended up with a long shower and a couple of hours of soothing my poor kitty.  We tried cold turkey again, only with her carrier. She doesn't like her carrier.  She peed out the back side of it, this time hitting the back of the seat.  At least I was overly prepared with sprays and wipes and paper towels.

So I drug her.  And everyone is much happier.  She tends to hang out between the feet of whomever is on the passenger side of the car and stare into space while a heater blows a little warm air on her head.  It's very zen, especially for me.  I don't like to think of any animal or human being in pain.

Anyway, I'm driving.  The drugs haven't quite hit and Eleanor is pacing.  Grey is trying to wrangle her and be patient with me as I bark orders having to do with my cat.  He does not need me to tell him what to do with a cat. Especially this cat- he lives with her and knows her just as well as I do.  But it makes me feel better.

We are headed to Dayton.

Dayton, Washington. Home of my Centennial family.  Chrisopher Marll moved there from Pennsylvania right before statehood and settled in Dayton with his family.  I believe he was Grandfather to Nineva, who was my Grandpa's mother.  Nineva.  She went by Nina.  When I wear my hair up in a bun, my Grandma told me I look just like her.  That's one of the reasons my grandpa liked me so well.

And nobody goes by their original names, it would seem.  My Great-Grandma Nina used her nickname.  She had a sister named Vina- also a nickname.  My Great-Grandpa Albert was Abbot, Aunt Sis was Alberta, Bessie is Bettie, Teddy was really named Alice and Chaud was actually named Charles.  Family reunions are a bitch for this reason.  That and having a grandma who was an identical twin.  I thought I had two grandma's until I was 7.  It's no wonder I am named Mindie but go by Antoinette and that I married a man named Greg, who goes by Grey.

And now, it's time to introduce Grey to the family he married into.  Because it's not just a family; it's also a town and sometimes a geneological snarl.  I don't know where to start.  I'm related to just about everyone.  I consulted with Patti before we decided to come visit.  We decided to do what they do: stay in a local motel and visit from there.  That way, we have a place to retreat to, in order to have a bit of quiet and a place to rest up after the heavy information inputs.

We stayed at the place that allows pets. The reason the motel allows pets is so that hunters who come year round can bring their dogs.  Clean room- no pet hair.  Free wifi, hot water.  Not much else.  A quiet haven.  Hunters go to bed early. Come to think of it, everyone in town goes to bed early.

Time to meet the Fockers.

I always referred to my uncle Steve as Uncle T-B.  We couldn't say his name when we were little. He and my Aunt Karla bought my grandparent's place since their deaths and rennovated the house.  It's the first time I have seen the house in the two years since they moved in.  New siding, new windows, floors, heating system, bathroom (might I say WOW on that part) and a couple of new walls.  Pretty snazzy.  I am amazed at the touches they left in place.  The floor of the back porch that my grandpa built himself is the same.  The root cellar is still in the same place- also dug by hand by Grandpa.  Much of the furniture placement (new furniture) is the exact same, and the deck is updated by still in the same style.

T-B showed Grey videos of me when I was an awkward teenager, complete with long, blonde, permed hair and acid wash jeans.  And pimples.  The 1980s were a tough time.  He also showed Grey the vdieos of my time on the Columbia County Fair Court, wearing red off-the-shoulder dresses and big red picture hats.  Waving to a crowd of people with a big smile stuck on my face.  Riding in the back of a wagon at the country fair with spray-painted on jeans and white shirts.

Oy. Family.

One thing my family loves is apples.  One of the best places to get apples is in Ellensburg.  That's fortunate, eh? So we went to the best place to buy a couple of boxes: Thorp Apples and Antique Mall.  It's good food, reasonably priced.  Organic, local and oh, so yummy.  I picked up a couple of boxes for my aunt and uncle, and a couple of boxes for my sister Mickie and her family.  Mickie had her husband, Lester, stepson Logan and granddaughter Jenna Lynn (age 2) living at her house right now. Logan is 11 and very talkative.  He's a good kid.  While we were visiting Steve and Karla, we got to also visit with my cousin Chryssee, her husband James and their four year old daughter, Allie.

I spent a lot of time with this part of my family when I was younger.  A few weeks in the summers, lots of holidays and time where Ryan, Rob, Chryssee and I would be at Grandma and Grandpas at the same time.  Alsways fun.  I loved my cousins.  I went from being the youngest to being the oldest in just a few hours and I loved spending time with them.  So it's a treat to see any of my cousins.  Chryssee was born when I was 11, and somewhere floating around is a picture of me holding her when she is six months old.

We take apples for everyone.  Grey appeared somewhat skeptical at the prospect of me buying boxes of apples for my family.  We had taken one over to Patti's house the last time we were there and they ate them, straight up.  Didn't even pretend they were going to can them.  Bigger families on this side, so we brought more boxes.  It's not just my family; everyone here eats them like crazy.

We visit awhile longer and decide to go back to town to see the Christmas Kickoff fireworks.  The town really loves fireworks but can't shoot them off on the fourt of July because it's such a dry area.  So they do it the day after Thanksgiving.  Even though there are only about 2,500 people in town, thousands come to see the fireworks.  Grey and I find parking and work out way towads the courthouse.  It's the second oldest in the state.  My Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents saw it built.  On the way I am stopped by Ramon Streby, who goes to our family church and a friend from high school named Denise Witt, who I have not seen in 20 years but she is so remarkably unchanged we recognize each other immediately.  She is married and has three lively boys.  I see lots of people I know.  Some know me too and we nod.  Grey doesn't say much and seems unsurprised when I suddenly hug Ramon and then introduce him.  He's affable.

After the fireworks, we go by the historical Winehard Hotel, run by my friend Shelly.  She is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  You need a gorgeous suite in a beautifully rennovated hotel?  Go THERE!  And then off to a restaurant to eat.  The first place we tried, we couldn't get anyone to take our order.  It was terribly busy.  I recognized my nephew's girlfriend but we haven't been introduced and I didn't want to freak her out while she was working.  The second place, Skye Book and Brew, had a pretty decent grilled cheese sandwich and a local Johnson Hollow IPA.  Perfect. And a good end to the night.

The night ended at 9.  In fact, everything sort of ends by 9 in Dayton.  It's a "roll up the streets when the sun goes down" sort of place.

Today was a shopping and a walk around Dayton sort of day.  More relatives- Grey met one of my third cousins and a former stepdad (who I just love), and we walked a mile out to Grandma and Grandpa's to visit a bit longer.  On the way, I gave more town history and pointed out some landmarks.  Lester, Mickie's husband, took us up the Touchet River Road, turned on Hatley Gulch Road and drove us to the old Marll (Grandpa's people) homestead, past a bunch of my Uncle Vernon's land that my Uncle Steve now farms and to Aunt Vina's cabin.  The homestead is where they used to grow vegetables and strawberries to make their living, and that very strawberry field is the place where my Grandma correctly diagnosed my Aunt Dorothy with appendicitis- and it saved her life.  Grandma lost her kid brother to a burst appendix when she was just a teenager, so she knew the signs. We saw deer and Pioneer Park, the land my Uncle Vernon donated to be a hunting/camping park.  The sign just says that people should be courteous.  Nobody has to clean the place up.  Down Skyline and through the fields in fallow we drove, around a couple of hairpin turns, and back into Dayton.  I am really impressed with Lester. He knows our family history at least as well as me.

But by the time we got back to town, it was dark and I was carsick as hell.  And I needed to pee.  Jenna Lynn fell asleep in the car and would be up all night.  Logan helped to narrate and all along the way, Mickie showed us all the places she and Jenna Lynn would glean apples and have picnics.  I guess since Mickie and Uncle Steve both do it, gleaning isn't just a weird thing about me. Mickie referres to the practice of picking wayward apples, apricots, berries and other fruits as "procuring".  And Yvette does it too, sometimes in tandem with Mick.

So there.

I'm exhausted.  It's 8 p.m.  We are in for the night.  Tomorrow, it's church at our little United  Bretheren Church and then saying our goodbyes and taking off for home.  Yvette isn't here this trip.  She was at Mom's house for Thanksgiving and is now in Olympia visiting her boyfriend.  She and Grey will meet. Someday.

I worry about Grey though.  How will he do on the geneology test?  Will he know the Marlls from the Jennings?  Will he know the nicknames? What about the UB church history?  Will he be able to find his way back to town when Lester drops him off on Skyline? Can he correctly identify the location of the hospital where I was born? I mean, now the hospital is on the other side of of town. Will he be able to tell the difference in taste between a Jonagold apple and a Honeycrisp?  What if he can't even name my Uncle Vernon's favorite apple (It's Golden Delicious)? There is over 100 years of history just on my mom's side of the family to memorize.  I feel a little sorry for him but hope he will be able to come home with me.  I'll post pictures in a separate blog in a few days.  Because you know I took a bunch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things I Learned From "The Walking Dead"

Just so you know, there won't be any spoilers in this blog post. 

I'm not ready for an apocalypse.

It's a little chilly this morning, so I put on my brand-spanking new winter boots.  They are faux fur lined and have some red stuff and black stuff on them.  No leather.  Plugged my earphones into my phone/camera/musicdevice/internetythingy and walked to the office.  I have a sweet, delicate hand-painted teacup from which to drink my coffee, and I do that before I really dig into the dirt of the day.  My dirty day consists of sending emails, planning curriculum and grading papers.  I run out of coffee and switch to water, walking the 15 steps our chilled, filtered water fountain with a nifty attachment for water bottles.  The tap water is fine, and it tastes good, but hey, I'm not turning down filtered cold water.  I drink two liters of the stuff a day.  Since its a balmy day, I turn the little space heater on under my desk for a little extra comfort.  Life is good.  There's a fridge in my house with fresh food. There is a fridge in the break room of my office and a private bathroom.

Grey and I watch "The Walking Dead", AMCs wildly popular post-apocalyptic gross-out fascinating sci-fi show.  Now in its third season, we have followed the adventures of Rick Grimes and a small band of followers as they try to survive zombies and their fellow man.  Sometimes they act brutally; sometimes humanity still shines through.  The characters are compelling, but the viewer doesn't want to get too attached, since the writers tend to kill off even major players with impunity and without warning. 

I usually tuck my face into Grey's arm during the really gory bits. Nothing to help me sleep at night like visions of undead cannibalism dancing in my head.  Special effects have really advanced in my lifetime. *shiver* Good thing Grey is willing to snuggle.

In the show, the people struggle to balance safety against the daily necessities: avoidance of being eaten by a walker or killed by a stranger trying to take their possessions, finding food and shelter and enough ammunition to remain safe.  Occasionally, a hot shower is bestowed and when someone gets to be clean and not ragamuffin dirty, I sort of cheer inside of my head.  It makes me appreciate running hot water and soap. 

As do most people who read or view post-apocalyptic literature, I sometimes imagine what fresh horrors I would encounter if inserted into the situation.  Societal collapse, including an initial wave of panic and destruction, followed by a long season of strife and perhaps banding with others or creatively avoiding others and death.  Doesn't seem like a lot of fun.  Would I make it? Maybe.  I'm not sure- much of survival seems tied to chance.  What would I do? Hole up in our 100-year-old house with my aging cat and husband? I think we could make the food last a week, though we would be completely in the dark at night.  No candles and our flashlights right now don't even have batteries in them. One lucky break is that the staircase leading to the upstairs of the house is pretty narrow, so barricading it or defending it shouldn't bee too hard.  And the windows open on to the roof in case we need to get away. I have a couple of bandaids, some extra antibiotics and a few weapons- sticks and knives and the like.  And we would stay warm, since I replaced all of my winter coats.  That's a nice bonus.  And Safeway is right next door so I'm pretty sure I could sneak in at times and raid the Starbucks inside. 

Yeah, no, can't do without coffee.  Even if I had to chew the beans. Rampant zombie attacks are ok, but caffeine withdrawl? No can do. You know how zombies want to eat brains and are homicidal?  Caffeine withdrawal.

Needs coffee. And a hot shower.
Plus, I think I'd start smoking.  And I'd wait for my cousin.  Pretty sure he'd come up from Amarillo to Washington. I give that two weeks, maybe three.  He has guns. And frankly, there are fewer natural pests up North than in the South.  Fewer things to kill you.  At least you hear bears coming, unlike water moccasins.  There's a little redneck running through our veins and I think it's just instinctive that much my family would somehow not only live through but would probably be alright.  I wouldn't really head for the hills though. I'd stay close to the places that have houses and pharmacies.  I have some skills with weapons- I am not bereft- and some medical knowledge which is most helpful if you're a farm animal. 

The reality would suck.  Things I take for granted- modern dentistry, hair dryers, lights and refrigeration.  And cake. All of those would go away.  And my life expectancy would shorten to about 41. I'm already feeling old at 39.  The zombie apocalypse should've happened in my early 30s when I was best equipped to deal with it.

But then again, some things would gratefully go away: societal control of women's bodies, wars about religion, the idea of owning land, tanning salons and TMZ

I bet the climate would improve.

I catch myself spacing out, daydreaming of the advantages and disadvantages of the collapse of humanity on Earth.  It will probably happen in a few lifetimes unless we humans can pull our collective heads out of our behinds and learn to care for our environment and each other.  I turn off the heater under my desk and contemplate lunch.  I've forgotten my meal at home and consider any of the venues that are a 5-minute walk from my office door.  In a minute, I will snug into my bright purple jacket and put on that pretty hand-made scarf from Charlotte and skip over to the student union for a smoothie.  They have healthy options and I don't want to overdo it on calories since I'm having a huge Thanksgiving meal this week. 

I text my husband, "Thinking of you!", when what I'm really thinking is that if a zombie-inspired collapse occurred it would be important to me for him to stay alive so we could take shifts sleeping and defending ourselves, and because he would make me think that all of the pain would be worth it.  Someone needs to make it who has a deeper understanding of philosophy and world literature.  And who makes the coffee just how we both like it. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


One of the nice things about November is that the elections are over.  In this case, my favorite causes won in the national election- Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono, and Tulsi Gabbard all won historic spots in Congress, bringing women up to a record (and still not 50%) number of women representing all of We The People in Washington.  Tammy Baldwin became the first openly lesbian senator from Wisconsin.  It's not that I'm so "pro-woman" or "pro-LGBT" (ok, yes, I am, but I have a bigger purpose here) as I am adamant that our representatives reflect the demographics of who makes up our country.  I am glad that these people- Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Atheists and women- have stepped up.  In many cases, in my opinion, it's just a matter of finding the right person with the courage and backing to go forth and put themselves out there.  I'm not sure I would have the wherewithal myself.

But enough of political talk.

November is also a month of gratitude for many of my friends.  They list all sorts of things they are thankful for, from books and warm houses to coffee, friends, family and even death. I thought about jumping on the bandwagon.  I am grateful for those things too, and would also add technology (hint to my in-laws: we'd love to skype with you!) my job, my amazing husband and boots and snow and a house that doesn't leak.

I love reading what people put up.  It's poignant and often insightful, whimsical and sometimes just sentimental. I guess I could make a short list..

I'm grateful for Eleanor, who is 16 and a cat, for waking me up every day around 6:30 to give her water from the faucet because such a grand dame cannot possibly drink out of a bowl.

I'm grateful for snow because it gives me a chance to stay inside and get fat over the winter.

I'm grateful for coffee for powering my life and uh, keeping things moving...

I'm grateful for my friends in Oklahoma who somehow have the courage to live in a state that not only preemptively banned Sharia law but also in the last 10 years finally banned cockfighting and allowed tattoos, and has only this month done away with Affirmative Action.  Mmmmm yeah...

I'm grateful for breath mints.  If anyone ever, EVER offers you one, you eat that motha and like it.  I don't care if it's not vegetarian.

I'm grateful for deodorant.  See above, you smelly hippie.

I'm grateful for underwear too.  Warm underwear.

And cheese graters.

And unemployment.  When we decided to move here, Grey sacrificed his job in Oklahoma and moved across the country so that I might follow my dream.  As it turns out, this is a very small town with not a lot of employment opportunities.  And it's taking some time to find something.  There are often over 100 applications for every job.  What this translates to is a very patient man who does a wonderful job of distracting his attention into positive energy.  He researches, plans and cooks amazing and nutritious dishes.  I eat like a queen and all I have to do is dishes.  So while I hope Grey finds what he is looking for, I benefit directly from that not working out quite yet.  Nom Nom Nom!

I'm grateful to my mom because she makes amazing and beautiful quilts.  She made me one for my graduation last December and it's currently on the bed, keeping us warm on these frozen nights.  Now if Eleanor would just stop farting on the bed...

I'm grateful for my brother-in-law.  There was a time not too many years ago- long enough that my nephew, his son, would not remember but not long enough for me to forget- that we were not friends.  In fact, there was this moment during an angry confrontation between he and my sister that I had out a knife and I was a few moments of terror and self-righteousness away from letting a little more light into his noggin.  It's no secret that my sisters and I grew up a little on the rough side, and that means quite often that we made choices in our dating and marriages that sometimes involved rough guys.  And my brother-in-law was a rough guy.  And I about stabbed him, straight up.  I'm not proud of that.  I had to go to years of counseling to work out those issues.  The really great thing is that when you flash forward to ten years later, I am glad to report that one of the cool things about visiting my sister is also seeing my brother-in-law.  He is sober and clean and involved with his son's life.  He is supportive of my sister.  He goes fishing and is an expert at smoking salmon.  I should know; it's the only meat I really eat unless my cousin makes duck.  If B-- is making deer jerky, smoked salmon, or anything with crab or shrimp, I'm there.  I feel sorry for everyone who isn't me when B-- cooks.  I eat the hell out of that food and the only stabbing going on is if someone gets in the way.  On second thought, they are much more likely to get bit.  Grey got to witness this phenomena on our last visit.  He wasn't horrified, but let's just say that the honeymoon is over. 

Classic rock is also on the list of things I am grateful for. ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Seger, The Eagles, Queen, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Rush, Sting (with and without The Police) Iron Butterfly and the plethora of music that I grew up with and still love. We didn't get to bring any stereo equipment when we moved, so I listen to Pandora and a favorite classic rock station in Oklahoma City.  Classic rock is the soundtrack of my life.  Ok, that and classical music.  Don't judge me. Because, seriously, if you were going to judge me, it should have been about the meat-eating or stabbing confession above.

There are a few less tangible things for which I am grateful.

Like perspective.  I had a rough week.  Things just did not go the way I wanted them to go and for the life of me, not everything is under my control. I also know that my dandelion had a rough week too, probably much rougher than mine.  A friend of mine finally got the news this week - after weeks of waiting- that her husband does not have lymphoma as originally thought.  How difficult to wait to exhale for two weeks, and how lovely to get such good news!  My other friend sent me a text this week too- her mom, who is only in her 60s, has been sent home with hospice care for renal failure.  Her diabetes has made it impossible to keep her on the kidney transplant list.  It is a matter of time, and when she goes, my friend will be an orphan.  Her dad died when she was 19 and that's a tough thing to lose both of your parents by the time you are 32.  When I put into perspective how lucky and blessed I am to live the life I do, I am on the whole a fortunate person. So I don't get everything I want- who does? This does not mean I cannot be happy.

Anger.  I am grateful for anger.  For the longest time, I had two feelings: extreme joy or burning hot anger. Over the years, I have been able to identify and feel lots of feelings in between, like indifference, annoyance, slightly okie-dokie, significantly non-plussed and bemused.  The toughest one is "little bit pissed but still reasonable", which is as far as I want to go towards anger.  The acronym I have for self-assessment is HALT.  If I am angry, I have to do a quick self-assessment: Am I Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?  If I am any one or more of those, it means I need to do some self-care before approaching human beings.  I often just need a nap, a sandwich, a hug or a few minutes to reflect on my part in a situation so that I can refocus on making things better rather than worse.  That just leads to regret.

Regret. I am grateful for the stupid things I have often done.  I tend not to repeat those mistakes and since I'm not 39 and about halfway through my life, I think I have made about half of my mistakes.  I am fairly confident, however, that the mistakes I make from here on out are not the crazy, life-changing ones I made in the past.  Like that '78 Firebird I bought so that I could teach myself to power slide.  Or that time I moved to Denver on 24 hours notice.  Or how I was a bartender for about a year, and not a good one.  Or how I broke a few hearts. 

There are some things I never got to regret.  I had three older sisters I could watch grow up.  That saved me a lot, you know.  I never made their mistakes and they were protective of me.  So protective that on my first date, I was home by 9 with a quick peck on the cheek from a boy terrified that Yvette would beat him up.  She had a reputation for doing that- she beat the snot out of a kid for beating me up in sixth grade.  I'm pretty sure he went on to live a normal life.

Family.  I think this is my favorite intangible.  There is the family you get and the family that gets you.  I have both and I am lucky.  I wouldn't trade my family for anything, as crazy as we are.  My sisters are so funny, creative, laugh-inducing and heartful.  And like me, they each have a streak of iron through them.  We get each other as only siblings can.  Sometimes we tell the old stories, to reassure ourselves that these things really happened.  We used to tell them to someone draw out the poison.  Now we tell the new-old stories, of the younger years in my nieces and nephews' lives.  Of dance parties and grandparents and becoming women.  And now we plot new stories for our families.  And we connect on a deeper level than I can with anyone else.  I married someone who fits right in without even trying, and he is becoming part of those stories. The rest of my family is comprised of long time friends from Washington and Oklahoma. People who know the other parts of me, who have helped me become an adult and who saved me as much as I saved them. 

I guess I jumped on the bandwagon after all, in the style of oversharing and gratitude.  If you are reading this, I am grateful for you too, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  Stay warm, eat some turkey (or tofurky) and spend some time with people you love. 
That's not powdered sugar

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dia de los Muertos

Lots going on in the land of plenty.  Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, wiping out New Jersey and New York.  We weren't really doing anything with New Jersey and I think perhaps God was angry that Jersey Shore is still on the air. It's sad, but finally a bipartisan effort is undertaken only in times of national disaster.  Better late to the party than never, I guess.

Snow Man!
I hope you voted.  I am voting by mail, which is how we do it in our little town. The trees are putting on their best fall displays and the days are chilly and sometimes downright cold. I like that part.  On the morning of October 24th, I woke up to snow showers at 5:30.  Wonderful, wonderful day! It snowed off and on until about 1, and even though it didn't stick, I felt a thrill and a yearning for the long winter ahead. We are tucked in, the house is drafty but loving and Eleanor is all fluffed out in her winter coat.  Bring on the snow!

Hello, Happy Tree!

We turn our clocks back on Sunday, so instead of getting dark around 6:30, it will be so by 5:30.  I suspect that by the time of winter equinox, 4:30 will be our sundown.  Lots of people dislike living in the dark in the dead of winter.  But for me, I'm a homebody.  I have indoor projects and reading and writing to do.  I have yoga and good company and my blog.  I walk to work and have a month off at Christmas.  What more could I want? Oh, and the beer is better here too.  And the wine.  

Charlotte.  I want Charlotte.  I miss her.  I miss Cathy Klasek too.  And Keegan and Kimberly and Tammy and Greg (Albert and Horton) and Matt (all 7 of you sons a bitches) and Jon.  I would say "My Jons", but that just doesn't sound right.  And Bethany, and Kendra and Brandon- who just got married and honeymooned in Ireland.  And my cousin, Christian.  I think I miss him most of all.  So yes, I miss my friends.  If I could import them and perhaps my two favorite restaurants, Victoria's Pasta Shop and The Earth, I would be all set.

Know what else makes me bloom? Coffee.
Winter is the time of the defiant; the season of starvation and death. I have never seen it this way.  I see good cheer, time to visit with family, warm firesides and deep drifts.  I see children making snow men and farmers finally having time to work on their equipment to prepare for the spring.  I see mares in foal and sheep and cattle grow heavy. It is a time when I bloom.  

There is something I do not miss about Oklahoma.  Today, on Dia de los Muertos, an open carry law went into effect in my old home state.  Open carry, as in openly carrying guns and shit in public.

Let's let that sink in for a minute.

So if you have a concealed carry permit, you can now run around town with a Gloc or a Colt .45 strapped to your hip or hanging out of a shoulder holster.  Not on school property or in courthouses or jails, but pretty much any business or public place where it's not posted against it.

And people are carrying. Like idiots.
I'll shoot if you get too close to my multigrain!

Yes, it's an idiotic law.

We have police to take care of dangerous situations.  We don't need a disorganized band of yahoos to dispense some brand of vigilante justice through the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.  You carry a gun in public, you scare people. Some idiot with a gun is going to attempt to use it and it will go badly.  Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to die.  This someone will either be an innocent bystander or the poor dumb bastard who walks around with a gun on his hip looking for trouble. He may even have it taken from him and used upon him.  While that is some poetic "justice", it's still not right.

No, it's not Second Amendment rights and this is not the wild West.  Let me tell you what I see when I look at someone carrying a pistol inside of a grocery store.  I see someone with something to prove; an axe to grind and a chip on their shoulder.  I see someone who needs a tee-shirt that says "I can't handle my own problems so I'll MAKE people take me seriously, by God".  Add in a "Fuck yeah, America" and the ridiculousness of the situation comes to light.

I urge you, fellow Okies, to not stand for this.  When you see someone with a gun, point at them and scream "Oh My God! S/He's got a gun!".  Then grab your kid/mom/friend/dog and get the hell out of there.  Let business owners know you won't come to their establishment if they allow that nonsense.  It is simply unsafe.

Having said that...

Yes, I am aware that I am pro-gun ownership.  I approve of guns for home defense and for hunting.  And if you're out in the country and have to shoot injured animals or a poisonous snake at the house, that's also a pretty reasonable thing to do.  But this bullshit about automatic rifles and open carry? Aww, hecks naw!

Probably the next post you read will be about the election.  I have made no secret of my love for President Obama.  I adore him even more for cancelling last-minute campaign stops to go to New York and New Jersey to offer help and friendship.  And it was big on the part of Governor Christie to put what is best for the peole of New Jersey ahead of his own need to tow a party line.  That's the way people should behave.  None of this cutting FEMA or outsourcing to private companies.

Dia de los Muertos; Day of the dead.  It's a distinctly Mexican holiday when the spirits of the dead come to visit the living.  Instead of pushing death away or fearing it, Dia de los Muertos honors that and acknowledges that life and death exist side by side. They often make fun of death rather than revere it.  Children play "funeral" and parties are thrown.  Oftentimes, and altar is made and a photo of the deceased loved one is placed on the altar.  Incense is burned and sometimes "offerings" are made in the form of skull or coffin shaped cookies.  It is intended to honor the person who is gone. An interesting concept, to be sure.  One I find intriguing.  Lots of people that I love have died.  Their names are rose petals on a wilted flower that I am unwilling to throw away.  It smells familiar and takes me back to summer days, my youth and happy memories.  I'm not always close by their gravesites to clean them or bring flowers or whathaveyou.  I have my little blog and I write about my love, admiration and the ways in which I keep their memories alive.  I pass on their stories, recipes, susperstitions and sometimes those quirky habits that made them who they were.

Verline Fae (Jennings) Marll - Age 18
But I never laugh at death.