Friday, December 31, 2010

Radical Loving

My “neighbor to the south,” as he calls himself, rang me on a Tuesday November night to ask just how radical I am. “Are you a member of elf?” I heard him say.

“I’m too tall, and they won’t let me in,” I felt like responding, but instead, “No. What’s elf?” I assumed he didn’t mean extremely low frequency, because I generally have a lot of energy.

“ELF is the Earth Liberation Front. They’re the ones who burned down a [ski] resort in Vail several years ago.”

“Oh,” I sort of remembered. “No, not a member.”

“Well, if you’re so radical that you’d take a board out of my gate, I didn’t know if you’d be radical enough to burn down my house,” he surmised, not remembering that five of the eight feet of that gate are on my property. It’s my easement, and my real estate agent stated, “You can do with your part of the easement what you would like, but if Utilities needs to use that part of your property, you might have to remove it,” as it is with the front five feet of Colorado Springs residents’ yards, if the street is 50 feet wide or less.

“It’s a good thing our houses are brick,” I calmly and solidly replied.

“Well, you could throw a Molotov cocktail on my roof, and it would go up in flames,” my neighbor firmly lobbed at me.

Hmm, a crude incendiary device like a grenade: Now that’s radical. No, I won’t be doing that.

[For this story, I googled “ELF” and found the acronym 17 entries down. They’re a domestic terrorist group that finds many former members in prison, a result of their violent actions. And indeed, their original logo was of an elf—holding a weapon. On Wikipedia, I found that on October 19, 1998, the eco-terrorists ELF destroyed a Vail ski resort by arson.]

Monday, the day before my neighbor’s call, was a high-conflict day. I had to deal with Aetna, my health insurer who doesn’t keep its word after my gaining preauthorization. Then I was rejected for a marketing communications management position nearly identical to one I previously held in a department I established and operated. Later I was shorted by another organization that didn’t honor my honesty. I felt beaten up. And though I needed peaceful sleep, I awakened shortly after falling into it.

At 11:30 p.m. I awoke with a start and couldn’t shut my mind down. I felt the weather changing to cold. Isolated aloneness and shivering iciness crawled up my spine, and I wondered if an intruder were in my home. Not a physical body, but an amorphous being that wouldn’t leave a trace of either of us. I listened vigilantly.

Along with every invasive thought, a cracking or creaking sound emanated from a part of my house. No matter which of my sides I rested upon, I couldn’t find comfort. Every direction my mind traveled led me serenely, only to be severed with an abrupt slice of a cleaver.

By some godsend, my mind quieted at 3:30 a.m. and I started to peacefully dream.

But at 4:30 my daughter stood at my doorway and asked, “Mom, did you hear a noise?”

“No,” I mindlessly replied. Had she asked an hour before, I would’ve answered with a “yes, for four hours.”

But this was different, and our dog was barking continually. She scanned the backyard with the Maglite as we both looked through the cloudy old window into the muddy darkness. My eyes are bad and I was exhausted, so I moved away.

“Oh no,” she sadly said, “it’s a fawn. Its leg is stuck in our gate.”

“How do you know?” I asked, hoping she was wrong.

“It’s trying to get out,” she continued. I heard the baby’s cry, like a calf’s.

I rejoined her at the window and, with greater attentiveness, saw the hopeless sight. The gate was unlatched and swung back and forth as the mule deer fawn tried to break away from her trap. “Get dressed. Warmly,” I said, then called my neighbor to the south.

Wearing gloves, coats, and a resolve that was going to save this little life, we all quietly gathered at our back fence in the early morning darkness. With barely a word, the three of us lifted the seven-month-old fawn backward 14 inches to release the nearly severed bottom half of her leg from the decorative metal at the top of our gate. She screamed, crying for her mother who stood nearby with her other fawn. Gently, we set her down and my neighbor told me to get something to put over her eyes.

I discreetly ran inside, scattering the gathering ungulate crowd, and grabbed a bath towel. We wrapped it around her little head and taped it into place, allowing her large ears to flop out and her nose room to breathe.

Like a dog arduously panting after chasing a ball for a half hour or a child running from a perpetrator, her lungs filled with and released air every second. Around her bloody body kneeled three humans, holding her down, blocking any chance of escape.

Wearing his headlamp, my neighbor made his way back into his house to call the Division of Wildlife. My daughter and I kneeled in the darkness next to this hot, panting child of an animal, and we communicated through our senses to calm our unintended victim.

Throughout my life, I’ve been one to be able to see accidents before they happen, and so I take needed precautions to thwart any negative occurrences. I never saw this one coming, and my heart ached.

The wind would pick up and the fawn would stir, anxiously trying to escape with every breeze. A kick from her good hind leg slightly cracked my daughter’s pelvis, not her face a foot away.

My neighbor returned. “Jeremy’s on the phone. This is your land, you need to decide what to do next.”

“Jeremy,” I said, shaking, “thank you for answering the phone so early. You were here helping me before, in July 2008. [See] Did my neighbor tell you what we have here?” and then I started to lose it. I came semi-unglued, though not nearly as I had the last time. I sensed I was going into shock.

Briefly and as nondescriptly as I could, I trembled and asked for his help.

Jeremy said, “She’s already too old to take out east to rehabilitate, so we’ll have to put her down. Your neighbor could do it.” Jeremy knew about my neighbor’s previous affiliation with DOW and his hunter certification training classes. “Does he need the meat?”

My mind jumped several steps backward to my dad’s hunting days, the upside-down hanging deer in our garage, the blood, the pain I felt as he excoriated so many animals, so many species. My breathing jarred, pulsated irregularly, I shook. I moved forward to this moment, didn’t want to make a decision, thought about the little female life lying in our garden on her side in pain, bleeding into the cold ground.

“A cop from the CSPD put down a fawn hit by a car last year. Can we call them?” I asked.

“I’ll call the guy who’s closer to your house,” Jeremy pulled me back. I gave him my mobile number.

Quietly I moved past neighbor and daughter into our house to retrieve my phone and warmer clothes, then returned to the site. We taped her back legs together, one hanging on by her skin, then her front legs. We said little, just held her and offered solace.

Jeremy called. “I can’t get the guy who I work with to answer the phone, so I have an officer with CSPD coming over.” I gave him specifics, told him where the fawn would be.

It must have been about 5:45 a.m. when Officer Cope came over. Even in the dark, we recognized each other immediately—not by event, but by appearance and name. My neighbor had already gone home, my daughter moved into the warmth of our house, and I now sat on the grass holding the barely breathing baby.

“You can go in now,” Officer Cope recommended. “I’m going to call this in, because we’ll probably get some calls from the sound of this,” and he patted his pistol.

Sobbing, I walked into the house. Pop. It was done. Six o’clock in the morning and I’d already caused a fawn’s death, one who’d drunk from our bird bath the day before. Had she been human, sedatives would have been administered and the bottom half of her leg would have been amputated. So many of the deer around here limp. But now this one was dead.

My daughter didn’t go to school. We collected our tools and went outside. Within an hour and a half, we had scrubbed and hosed off most of the blood and skin from the gate. We also removed the swirled, decorative metal from three of our gates and took one horizontal board from the top of our fence, the one my neighbor called his gate, so the deer wouldn’t hit it anymore.

If you have an accident waiting to happen, I encourage you to alleviate the potential. It has been 52 days, and I am finally writing about this event. I’ve awakened in the middle of the night numerous times, panicked from seeing our little fawn trapped and unable to escape. I wish this on no one, especially not our wildlife.

Sometimes I think: To hell with fences. My neighbor to the south indicates that my anthropomorphism is wrong. To hell with that too.

Oh, and Officer Cope? I called to let him know that he had warned me to slow down one day after buying my new car—in 1994.

If animals behaved more like humans, we’d be doomed.
If humans behaved more like animals, we’d be ———.

Foamy Slippers

In December, the Institute of Noetic Sciences community group assembled in my home for our monthly meeting of the minds. Afterward, the 16 of us socialized for a while, drawn into smaller collections of conscious energy to expand on previously discussed topics.

I was initially drawn to share intimate God-time with one woman, who prayed with me for healing. This was interesting, because in the 10 years of my involvement with this evolving noetic body, I had been the only professed Christian (who, by the way, has been spontaneously healed in a prayerful environment).

Feeling pleasantly blessed, I sauntered toward the dining area, where another person engaged me with her feelings and observations. When I revealed recent self-deprecating events, she dragged me down the hall for a love-filled admonishment.

Slightly roughed up but now feeling a sense of purpose, I felt more empowered and cared about than I had been in ages. Walking three inches above the carpet, I headed toward the front door. There, the admonisher’s husband, Don, began a conversation about the eve’s events. Then with a quick glance, he caught sight of my feet.

“Whose slippers are those?” he asked quizzically, wondering if these huge flippers belonged to the guy screaming in the back room.

“Oh, they’re for guests,” I meekly replied. “We have a hot tub, so I keep extra slippers around—large ones.”

“They make you look like a clown,” he chuckled.

Sure enough, when I looked down and saw my Christmas stockings slid into oversized black slippers, I had to agree. I already felt they were dangerously cumbersome when walking up and down our stairs, but I’d never bothered to take in my ridiculous appearance.

I offered an excuse. “I washed my two pairs of regular slippers today and they’re still wet, so I slid into these. Plus they started disintegrating in the washer, and the process continued in the dryer. Some of the cardboard fell out, and now the foam is protruding.” I headed for the nearby closet to prove my claim. “Look.”

As I displayed my comfy, old burgundy slippers, Don looked from them to me. “Slippers don’t cost that much. You could go to Target and pick some up for a few bucks. Those things are shot,” he correctly observed.

“Aw, but they’re clean! I can’t just toss them.” I felt proud of my spartan lifestyle, though slightly embarrassed about being so cheap. I decided not to show him the other pair—my hot tub slippers.

“I think you should just throw them out,” Don advised.

So I ask, What’s the difference between frugal and downright cheap?

Frugal is buying a good-quality pair of slippers at a reasonable cost that have the potential of having a long life. Cheap is keeping them two years after they’ve died.

I think there’s a law against that.

So, Don, the blue ones are headed for a landfill, but the worn-in, comfy burgundy ones, well, we might have to kick that idea around a bit.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Guy in My Bed

For more than two weeks, there’s been a guy coming into my bed. I can’t see him, but I know he doesn’t sleep. He waits until I’ve slipped into a somewhat peaceful place, then he violently throws evil into my head, waking me suddenly, causing throbbing beats of my heart and pain therein. As I gasp for air and abruptly raise my head to see who’s there, he moves into the next room.

I sense him there.

After lying horrified for three hours, I apprehensively tiptoe to the bathroom, then back to my chamber and stumble into a half-awake doze until streams of light creep into the place he should leave. But he knows when to return and that scares me.

I trick him by doing the right things during the day in the hope of allaying his repeated presence. I hike and run, inform potential employers of my existence, repair the crumbling ranch, care for all those living in my midst, and learn something new each day—not always by choice.

After dark I warily crawl into my bed wearing socks to keep me warm, and in case I need to run, and read one of several partially read books till my eyelids signal their lack of muscular strength. But three hours into dreams, precognitions, and telepathic communications, he sends a clairaudient scream and terrifies me. My heart tries to escape my body. I cough a high cough to rid myself of my breathlessness and beckon my heart back. He reminds me of incomplete commitments, that I can’t eat, that I’m nakedly alone, and he can kill with his mind.

My light taps on, but I don’t feel safe, because now physical beings find me more easily. There is nothing alive and corporeal around me but a dog, two cats in the garage, and my plants, except for that one morning that I cannot write or talk about, whose thought pervades me like an impaled child.

I get up and make coffee. It’s only 3. Three hours till daylight.

When it’s light, his ominous presence will still be behind me, sometimes ahead. He will travel through my veins, follow me into my hot tub, cause strips of pain in my left chest making me sit firmly to throw him out. I hate him.

I wish he would let me go.

Let me go.

Let me drift away.

Friday, October 29, 2010


When I was a kid, I thought I had blackheads on my ankles. Specks of dirt were ingrained in the pores behind my ankle bones, and I thought they were permanent. At night, however, some of their permanency lost their hold and became affixed to my sheets. By washday, the foot end of my bed was lower from the weight of dirt ground into my sheets.

Barefootin’ was the way we lived during the summer in Minnesota. Rich, black dirt begot thick, healthy grass and clover that felt luscious underfoot. Of course the dogs felt that way too, so when we rolled in the grass we first looked where we were rolling.

As the population grew, so did asphalt, concrete, and less porous surfaces to walk. Our opportunities to walk barefooted became far fewer and more treacherous. It seems disease runs rampant, so any crack in the skin is a breach to test the immune system.

A recent story in the Colorado Springs Gazette talks about the trend toward barefootin’,* so I immediately asked my trusted friend of 25 years what he thinks of the idea. He runs almost daily, training for almost every race in the Pikes Peak Region and beyond. Always an excellent athlete, Don ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in 4:00:08!

Here’s what Don, who now sells running shoes, has to say about running shoeless:

The vast majority of people are not going to be running barefoot anytime soon. No worries there! We do get lots of requests for the Vibram FiveFingers** shoes, but we don't sell them. I have VFFs, as do a couple other footwear associates, and we often wear them to work.

Many people seem interested in them because they are unique; however, most people don't seem to understand that the VFF requires a much different running technique than is typically employed. Since there is no cushioning, people who run with the standard overstriding, heavy-heel striking method will receive instant feedback that these shoes can't be used in that manner. They require a forefoot/midfoot landing with the foot being almost directly under the body. This is the same way a foot would strike the ground if a person were running in place. Forward momentum is made by a slight lean, and instead of swinging the foot forward, the knee is moved forward with the lower leg/foot hanging down—sort of like a much less pronounced lunge.

After I mention these things to people, they seem less interested. Plus the typical shoe buyer seems more interested in the color of his or her shoes than if the shoe is a good fit for running style and gai and the VFF tends to be kind of ugly.

For me, the VFF is utilized as a training tool to reinforce good running technique. Because they require good form and weigh almost nothing, I often find myself running faster than normal. Due to this I tend to use them for my speed workouts.

Our ancestors who ran barefoot didn't have to deal with modern hazards. Concrete, asphalt, and all kinds of debris make barefoot running something most people won't be doing. I see broken glass on almost every run as well.

There is a movement toward minimalist footwear. This article is one of many. Runners World magazine had a lengthy article in November’s issue.*** There are other shoes that look more traditional but are designed to be used like the VFF.

That may have been more than you wanted to know. Anything else?


Thursday, October 28, 2010


I feel like a dandelion would, if it had feelings.

Like the weed, my taproot is long and grows deep, so I can draw nutritious knowledge and sustenance from the environment surrounding me. And like its bright yellow, sunshiny face, I maintain a cheery outlook with a good sense of humor—unless I haven’t slept enough or feel used up.

Like this daisy family member that gives up its leaves for creatures to enjoy, I give a lot of myself to those important to me and feed on appreciation. But when I sense toxicity around me, I cringe and shrivel up like a weed doused with chemicals. And I want to hide my face when I feel the long daggerlike instrument used to cut me from the rest of the world, my existence and talents dismissed before I’m tossed onto a weed pile with all the other rejects.

Like sucking marrow from the bone of life, I love learning and have garnered a repertoire of skills and abilities that I offer others to access. My curriculum vitae doesn’t describe exactly who I am and certainly not all I am capable of. Nevertheless, it can be found on servers throughout the States. Hoping that companies’ search engines will linger upon the special words in my document that will carry my potential to the next step in the job-acquiring process, I keep dispersing more of the same as I wait, anticipating a call or e-mail or invitation.

If God energy would give me what I truly desired, I would continue working from my relatively quiet home writing, editing, and becoming better at both. My clients would continue appreciating my detail orientation and extreme pickiness, and some godsend who receives my writing, either through me or others, would have a whoosh or aha! moment when reading my stuff and ask me for more.

Until then, I keep pursuing. Yesterday Kathi said, “You’re a survivor.” It’s true. I have survived huge negative events throughout my life and still smile. ’Course, I was dropped on my head when I was little and don’t know any better.

You know, I could really let all this rejection bother me…if I had feelings.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The C Word

Part 1
Some things are just difficult to talk about, even for me. My friends always say, “Go ahead, tell us how you feel,” after I’ve blurted out some intimate detail that most would never mention. Friends are accustomed to me, though, and some have been around since 1972. That’s tenacity!

I despise circumlocution. “Just get to the point,” is the thought that spills past my lips. But the point that follows hasn’t dribbled out as a public display—till today, because now it’s happened four times. It’s the C word.

We probably all know others who have heard the word directed toward them, but when it’s aimed at you, its implications deeply permeate the soul. The word pierces the mind like a knife, and there it remains, knowing that once impaled, the knife can turn again. But I believe, with good planning and luck, you can avoid receiving C news. Read on.

Strike one was in late September 2008 when I had an abnormal Pap: atypical, squamous cervical cells. My mom had a hysterectomy at a young age, though she was never clear about the disease causing such a drastic excision, e.g., cervical, uterine, or ovarian dysplasia, so naturally, I became concerned. But being a healthy person with a positive attitude most days (I was hiking when my doctor delivered her news), I figured my doctor scraped the only dysplastic mass in my body. After all, I was 49, and not all 50 trillion cells are going to be perfect at that age.

Three weeks later I went to a nurse at a gynecological facility for a colposcopy, a surgical procedure that mimics a Pap test but is less fun. Additionally, without my knowledge or my primary care physician’s order, the nurse took cells for another Pap test that I later had to pay full price for. That still burns me.

The costly Pap results were negative (good), and the colpo indicated two sets of my cells were mildly to moderately suspect and should head directly to the executioner: in this case, surgery again (strike two). Initially, the nurse wanted me to have LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure), which I heard as a razor-sharp, bloody, scalding, scraping procedure with an anticipated healing time of six months. I slept little for two weeks contemplating this torture. When I met with the gynecologist himself a week before excoriation, I asked what he would recommend for his wife, also a gynecologist, and he said, “Cryocautery.”

Sold. In mid-November I wiggled in to be frozen like a Popsicle in the hottest part of my anatomy. Though this was considered surgery, it didn’t feel like it, particularly afterward when my face flushed like a lobster in boiling water. I hoped the carbon dioxide snow killed any nasty cells, but it probably took a bunch of healthy ones too. Unfortunately, four days later my body reacted negatively, but I stayed away from the doctor anyway. One appointment alone cost $800, and that was with insurance, so rather than calling on my guardian angel, I treaded alone.

Seven months later at my follow-up colposcopy and Pap, more atypical, squamous cells were discovered: this time, glandular uterine (strike three). How many organs can be squished into such a small area, anyway? So two weeks later I had my fourth surgical procedure, one I would only wish on a couple of people, and they’re guys. Oh my God, what an immense, excruciating pain. Gals, if you can avoid having an endometrial biopsy (EMB), do. If you’d like details, click the link on your right, Stirrup Queens, where I met Melissa, head stirrup queen, who extended her kindness and love from New York all the way to Colorado, wishing me well before and after surgery.

The results from that removal proved negative (good again!). So now I shall share with you why I believe women can avoid hearing the dreaded C word. This has not been proven by anyone but me, to my knowledge.

As we age, our cells have more potential to form and grow abnormally. If we expose ourselves to unhealthy habits for extended periods of time, our chances increase that we will acquire a disease. Now think about the menstrual cycle. Monthly, women slough off unneeded cells that are dying, so chances are, they will appear dysplastic, particularly from a more mature woman—me, on most days.

Around day 14, our body begins tidying things up again, so our cells tend to be cleaner, healthier—even at an older age. My recommendation, therefore, is to have Pap tests done after day 14 and before day 26 in your menstrual cycle.

When my cells were taken on days 7 and 11 in my cycle, dysplastic cells existed.

When my cells were taken on days 21 and 22, my cells were fine.

An interesting note is this: The nurse who performed my colposcopies and endometrial biopsy said, “We can send your cells to four different labs and get three different results.” It depends on the person testing cells, the cleanliness and newness of chemicals, and other factors. Imagine that!

I firmly believe, after comparing notes with other women, that we are overtreated. I believe that had I not endured any of those surgeries and additional tests, I would still be fine. Why wouldn’t your doctor tell you these things? It would muck up their schedules and provide them and the labs less income.

Part 2
In early 2007 I noticed that a white, waxy dent, resembling a scar, had formed on my upper right forehead, seemingly overnight. For the next three and a half years I treated it with a friend’s precancer elimination ointment, vitamin E, triple antibiotic, and a dry-skin prescription. The dent grew.

I knew I should have gone to a dermatologist immediately but was concerned about the costs. When I finally made the appointment for Friday, August 13, 2010, the doctor walked in 35 minutes late, shook my hand in greeting, asked me what the problem was, took an alcohol-moistened pad, and rubbed my dent.

“You’re blue-eyed, blond, have fair skin, and you have cancer,” he said with the bedside manner of a guy who’s seen too many blue-eyed blondes with cancer. Strike four. Tears welled in my eyes as I stared at him in semidisbelief, hoping he’d slap me on the arm and say, “Just kidding.” Instead, he left the room while his assistant began injecting lidocaine into my forehead.

After a while, the dermatologist marched back into the room and declared that I appeared not to respect the medical profession, probably due to the prior shocked look on my face. Again tears erupted, and I cried, “I’m not aging well.”

He proceeded to use an electric grapefruit spoon to scrape away my dent, leaving me with a small landfill. Bandaged head and numb scalp, I paid my $50 copay and left. Cancer. Found in a building right next door to the gynecologist’s.

About a week later, a dermatological surgeon’s assistant called to set up my Mohs surgery for mid-September. The more I talked about my news, the more people shared their Mohs surgery experiences, so though I felt deeply sad, I felt as if I joined a club—one I wanted to be booted out of and not through death.

A friend of 25 years who had also had Mohs surgery offered to take me and stay by my side all day. When we arrived at the same dermatology clinic, different office, I requested a pain reliever for menstrual cramps. Eventually a gal handed me halcyon. Whee! I floated around on a cloud all day. Definitely couldn’t have done my taxes.

When the surgeon walked in, I felt immediate relief. Dr. Sniezek is young, bright, intellectually sharp, and knowledgeable. He patiently answered my list of questions and responded to my crazy comments with his own. I thought of cancer as a growth, yet I had an indent. It is still a tumor that is growing inward. Had I read that fact years ago, I wouldn’t have allowed the cancer to grow further. He asked if I noticed that the cancer was larger than the first dermatologist had noticed. I had.

Dr. Sniezek kindly asked my friend to return to the waiting room then drew lines around the cancer, which his assistant photographed. With lidocaine injected into my forehead and halcyon flowing through my veins, the surgery began.

After the first deep dig, hair cutting, and cauterizations, I floated to the waiting room for a couple of hours with a massive gauze bandage affixed to my head so my brains wouldn’t spill out. The way I was acting, though, I’m sure my friend thought it was too late. When I was finally invited back into the surgery room after noon, or maybe 10:00, he said they needed to remove more of me and that it was the rare, aggressive morpheaform type of basal cell carcinoma, invasive, fast-growing, and potentially disfiguring, since it can seep into and kill muscle, nerves, and bone. Insert halcyon number two.

After that excision, I think I stayed in the chair and thought about heaven and angels. At one point, Sniezek walked in and played with my forehead (pictured left). “What are you doing?” I quizzically blurted.

“I’m deciding how I’m going to put you back together and stitch you,” he answered. He described his artistry plan and left the room to go dig into someone else.

An eternity seemed to pass, so when he entered, I sadly said, “You abandoned me.”

Equally downcast, he slowly replied, “That’s a very strong word,” and he transmogrified into a seamstress.

Looking as if I were nursing a huge hangover, I stumbled to the front desk and scheduled my one-week follow-up visit and headed to Jim’s car.

For five days, frozen peas and my bed were my friends. It’s hard for an active person to rest midday, but I found it better than the dizziness I experienced plucking weeds. My hair has fallen out in sheets for three weeks, a condition Dr. Sniezek termed telogen effluvium, caused by a traumatic event. The guy knows everything. I even missed seeing him this past Friday following two post-surgery visits, but not enough to need him again.

If anyone has any questions or comments, write to ol’ Auntie. She’d love to hear from you. It’s pretty lonely staying at home looking like Frankenstein’s ex-wife.

basal cell carcinoma

Mohs surgery and morpheaform BCC

telogen effluvium

African sky © 2002 Bob Groat

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Islamic Community Center

If the proposed Islamic community center is built—and I presume it will be, because developers always get their way—I think it should have a heart-shaped, open courtyard in its center. Giving the proposed Cordoba* House a view of the sky and planes flying overhead will be a reminder for salat times, for all of us.

One thing I like about mosques, as I do with many Asian homes and places of worship, is that they are shoes-free zones.

What do you think?

* Cordoba, Andalusia, southernmost region of Spain: known for its architecture, particularly the Great Mosque.

See for a list of mosques in the U.S. Note how many were built in 1996 in Alabama (six of nine). California contains eight mosques; Michigan, eight; Missouri, 11; New York, four.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Auntie’s Systems Flow

It’s me, your very own eccentric germ freak who doesn’t like clogged systems. As I close windows more often to keep warm air inside, I decided to share some household tips to keep your home fresher and operating more efficiently.

Send your cutting boards with your range fan cover on a trip through the dishwasher. Mineral oil your boards afterward.

Rather than use a toilet brush to scrape your porcelain bowl, use a long-handled dish brush that you can buy at Dollar Tree. The bristles are in the right places. Opt not to use the brush on dishes later.

After you run your toothbrush through the dishwasher, keep it cleaner by attaching a pinchy clothespin atop a glass and set the brush between the pin’s legs to dry it quicker and not lean it against a germy surface.

Put vinegar in the fabric softener and/or bleach dispensers in your washer when you start a load. Clothes end up softer.

Fill your washtub with the right amount of laundry detergent and hot water. Soak and thoroughly scrub pillows. Send pillows through your washer's spin cycle, then place on a drying rack or other vented surface in the sun, which acts as a natural antiseptic. Do a final hot fluff in the dryer.

Reuse plastic bottles to squirt bleach water and/or vinegar through a hole you’ve poked through its cover.

Wrap your yardstick with an old sock. Secure with a couple rubber bands. Moisten with some Murphy Oil Soap and water, and wipe under your fridge and range. Keep the yardstick under your fridge for an occasional dusting.

If your comforters are too large for your washer, take them outside and shake ferociously (a person on each side works well). Lay on a clean surface in the sun for the day—where birds won't perch above.

I use a lot of vinegar and don’t like to waste those jugs, so I carefully cut the top off, retaining the gallon jug’s handle. Uses:
• store newspaper and grocery bags
• scoop water with it
• fill with compostable leftovers
• place labeled electronics cords and cables inside one
• keep one under your sink to contain stuff that usually floats around down there
• carry in your yard and put plucked weeds in it
• fill with soapy water and wash your dog's feet after hiking [see]

When you drain your hot tub, use a canister-type shampooer to pull the last few gallons out.

Spray peppermint water around the house to keep the air perky.

Remember to snort your snout in private and thoroughly wash your paws.

Wear socks in the house to keep foot sweat off the carpet, presuming we don’t wear shoes in our houses.

Stay healthy, my dear friends!

(Dawn, now do you know why I’m not married? Plus I just shampooed my garage floor with Murphy Oil Soap and bleach. Smells yummyful!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bear-Proof Fence

My wild ’n’ natural friend had a bear-proof fence installed around his backyard that’s nestled in the mountains. He said he kept moving his grill back and forth from his rear deck to the front, but wherever his grill went, the bear, and sometimes her cubs, would follow.

On special mornings when the bear’s tummy was growling, my friend would open his garage door to find her standing in front of him requesting breakfast. Being accommodating, he’d quickly close the garage door. Actually, he’s not really like that. I just think Mama Bear’s size reminded him of his ex-wife’s mother who broke their toilet seat, and he hoped the bear wouldn’t ask to use the facilities.

I suspect he, also, tired of Mama’s constant appeals, but given two children to feed this year and a gigolo boar who’d gone into the mountaintops to forage for younger, hairy sows, what choices did she have?

My friend’s bear-proof fence is made of thick, sturdy metal, though he assured me it doesn’t have spikes. Seeing an impaled animal for a later meal wasn’t on his list of fence functions, and around here, we hear of impaled-deer occurrences. Subsequently, the suffered aren’t later consumed, but wept over.

So when my surprised friend discovered the bear in his backyard again, despite his new, expensive fence, he wondered how the persistent beast entered. Did she scale the fence with its intermittent horizontal bars (which is what my friend would have done)? Did she get a running start, use a pole, and spring forward? Did she get a boost from a friend? Did she climb a tree and drop in? And if she did, how did she get back into the forest?

And why does his yard have such appeal?

“There’s a plum tree back there,” he told me. Itty-bitty plums, like my boobs. After all, this is Colorado, not Georgia. Being a health-conscious mom, and with all Mama Bear’s carnivorous fulfillment on Cheyenne Mountain, she knew she needed a balanced diet, particularly if she’s still nursing.

Going back in time, I’m sure my friend planted his plum tree thinking only of himself and not feeding the hungry, though he is of the thoughtful, God-like species. He had, perhaps, a plum pie or a scrumptious plum crisp in mind at seedling time.

But this is now, and Mama’s mate has done his seedling-ing, and she was hungry.

Aha! My friend watched the big ursine climb a large pine tree, reach over to his fence, and jump down, like Rambo or Arnold. He didn’t monitor her behavior and never saw her leave, so he’s unsure of her exit strategy, but I vote helicopter. After all, we’re talking Broadmoor bear here.

“Now that I know how she’s getting in, how can I keep her out?” my desperate friend asked. “I’m scared to walk out into my backyard.”

“I’d pick a few plums and toss them into your neighbor’s part of the forest,” I suggested. “Then find some fresh carrion and toss it near, but not on, your property. And post a sign with an accompanying map: Better Bear Food at the Zoo,” which is just up the street.

“Funny,” he solemnly replied.

“I know! Post a sign that says ‘Bear meat served daily.’ She seems quite smart!”

As I said that, a cub strolled up to my front door and asked for lunch. Fortunately, I still had some ex-boyfriend left in the freezer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Children of Priests

I read an Associated Press story that proved again, Catholic parishioners are slowly being reimbursed for all their ancestors’ tithes and indulgences. A priest impregnated an 18-year-old, and her parents are suing, among others, the priest, his diocese in Reading, Penn., and the high school where he was chaplain.

At least the priest was with a girl. The pope would probably see this as encouraging news.

Charges in the parents’ lawsuit were breach of fiduciary duty, infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. Upon reading the story, these accusations could aptly be used against the parents for aiding and abetting procreative behavior in the first place.

Seems the daughter and priest were spending a lot of quality time together in the parents’ home behind a closed door. The rhythm inside the daughter’s bedroom didn’t coincide with the beat of the music she played, so logically, instead of communicating with their daughter and the priest, the parents set up a video camera in the girl’s bedroom while she was gone.

Now maybe I’m just not a good Catholic, but isn’t secretly videotaping people engaging in sexual dialogue pornographic? And when one of the participants is a daughter, isn’t it classified as incestuously close observation?

Instead of using this visual opportunity to confront the daughter and priest, since any communication to that point was ineffectual, Mom and Dad jump into their Chevy and head downtown where the big bucks live.

At this point I’m thinking the daughter must have conspired with ol’ Mommy and Daddio and thought a little extra cash for some new pumps, teddy, and camisole would be nice—stuff the diocese could provide for her, since the priest wasn’t enough.

I could be reading the journalist’s story incorrectly, but it sounds as if the whole family had secrets stashed between the folds of their robes.

If the priest and daughter really love each other, they should enjoy the life they created: their little girl. They could be blessed with a happy ending, especially if the parents win in court.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Silent Songbird

I’m a rare bird and not ashamed of it. And since birds of a feather flock together, my friends tend to be rare birds too. One rare birdism we share is, we think about our impact on earth and her people in regard to sustainability, noise, pollution, and consideration. In a word, respect. We know we’re not the only ones who matter, and tread lightly.

I feel deeply sorry for Earth. Like the old woman who lived in a shoe, she is providing for more human life than she is comfortably capable of sustaining, and her population is expected to keep growing. Each person in 1994 needed 1.2 acres to maintain American dietary standards, acreage that relates to food production.

But what about fresh water? (I won’t even get into oil consumption here.) Glaciers are melting, so we can sip off them, but what do human, animal, and plant lives drink after all our fresh water has been polluted or drunk and there’s nothing falling from the sky but ash?

Earth needs to go on a people diet and not have so many, not only because of sustainability but for our hearts. When Mother Nature binges, she swallows large numbers of Earth’s beings. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, storms of all kinds consume lives, and the more densely populated the area of impact, the more heartfelt tragedy we experience. That includes the tragedy of hunger from human overproduction. Fortunately, researchers and medical professionals have diligently worked to reduce deaths due to disease, so farmers no longer have to supply their families with more help.

Densely populated areas also means concentrated noise pollution. Though I lead a quiet life, it doesn’t suit everyone. There are TVs and electronic games to fill quiet spaces, dogs to bark how dreadful their lives are, vehicles creating tension and shouting for attention with other machines, sirens, and incessant chatter. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person affected by noise, but reading The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise by Garret Keizer, I felt less lonely.

“I was raised with a keen awareness of noise. As a child I was told ‘Keep your voice down’ whenever my voice was likely to disturb ‘the neighbors.’ When my family came home late…my father would insist that we latch the car doors as quietly as possible and then press them fully closed. This taboo against slamming a car door at night was part of a code whereby holding down a job and getting oneself to work on time were sacred.… Interfering with a neighbor’s sleep was something akin to horse thievery on the old frontier, as assault on another person’s livelihood, a hanging offense.”

What happened to the common courtesy of honoring another with respectful quiet?

When I had my baby, I purchased the quietest vacuum cleaner—a Panasonic, bought a push lawn mower, and played my music quietly in honor of her hearing. I had quit watching the tube in 1975, but bought one at age 35 so my daughter could watch Disney sing-alongs. And when two friends each wanted to gift me with a “real” mower, I passed. Sure it’s more difficult to have a perfectly manicured lawn with a push mower, and I have to pass over each blade of grass four times, but my posterior is a lot firmer than gas-blower pushers’.

Again, I am not the only one who likes quietness and thinks about noise’s impact on others. Noise Pollution Clearinghouse tested more than 80 pieces of lawn equipment, rating them by decibels. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone mowed his lawn on the same day at the same time, so we would hear only one blended, powered blade noise?

What if we were all thoughtful of each other? Takes me back to the sixties “peace, make love (using contraception), not war, smoke this” culture. I’m not a liberal, but I’d certainly welcome a lot of peace.

I recently read “Revolutionary Road” in Smithsonian magazine. David Lamb wrote a story about Vietnam now and during the war. He quotes Le Minh Khue, who at 15 joined other Vietnamese youths helping to clean up immediately after war’s devastation. She talks about the bond these kids shared and says she “felt completely happy,” despite burying the dead, filling bomb craters, and ending each day covered in mud.

Khue recalls the kindness people shared with each other. “We came upon a mother and two children with no food. They were very hungry. We offered to give her some of our rice, and she refused. ‘That rice,’ she said, ‘is for my husband who is on the battle field.’ That attitude was everywhere. But it’s not there anymore. Today people care about themselves, not each other.”

Birds of a feather… Let’s quietly ruffle some feathers. Breathe deeply and silently smile. Open a door for someone and accept thanks with a namasté. Still your soul and turn something off when you’re not using it…even your mind.

Now that is something I am still working on.

1 David Pimentel, Cornell University,
Mario Giampietro, Istituto of Nazionale della Nutrizione, Rome. “Food, Land, Population, and the U.S. Economy.”
Nov. 21, 1994. (accessed 8/12/10). (Carrying Capacity Network, 2000 P Street, N.W., Suite 240 Washington, D.C. 20036, (202) 296-4548.)
2 Garret Keizer, The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise (New York: PublicAffairs, 2010), 11.
3 Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, “Quiet Lawns,” NPC Special Report (summer 2005),
4 David Lamb, “Revolutionary Road,” Smithsonian (March 2008), 62.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Luck in Losing

Losing things makes me crazy(er). Once I realize that something isn’t where it’s supposed to be, I start digging.

But typically I stop myself, remembering the sentence: Americans waste two weeks every year looking for misplaced items. Scary.

After reading that line 20 years ago, I became much more conscious of what I do and where I lay my belongings, especially those things that could cause me embarrassment should another person find them, such as my vibrator or Viagra. But the sentence also reminds me that the item will generally turn up soon, since it usually does.

Today I couldn’t find my pen that normally resides in my appointment book, also known as my brain, nor could I find a pair of my cheater glasses for old people. Just as well, no old people ’round here. Since I just had both items in the past day or two, I waltzed around, bending over when appropriate, looking in places I normally dance.

After shaking my head of the debris that accumulates with stress, I found my pen in my bed and, shortly thereafter, found my glasses in a basket I transport from floor to floor. I was on a roll!

What the heck, I might as well try to find the earring I lost the weekend I had a guest. Hmm, we sat on the sofa, but I had already checked under the cushions weeks ago and only found my ex-boyfriend, whom I quickly put back in the freezer where he belonged.

Ahh, we sat in the chairs by the big window. I dug my skinny hands between the chair’s arms and cushion, and voilà! Money! I started giggling. First I pulled out a nickel, then a quarter, then a peanut. It was like the game I invented for my little girl called What’s in the Bag? where I’d put various things from around the house in a paper bag and have her feel the texture and shape to guess what the objects were. Sometimes she’d even guess the color, but she’s a lot brighter than I am.

So while I was prospecting and pulling out coin after coin, I kept thinking, Most guys keep their change in their right pocket, and it seemed these changelings sat in my west chair. I tipped the chair on its side when the coins started falling into its bowels, thereby increasing my chances of scoring a winner.

After that archeological dig, I headed east to the other chair and found the treasure much less bountiful but rewarding, nevertheless. I don’t believe in gambling, but risking a hangnail digging in my own chairs made me feel risqué, like a proctologist.

My earnings? $1.78, two pencils, a piñon nut, and a peanut.

I think it’s time to have company.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Following is a note from my hiking bud’s daughter, whose little girl, Jocelyn, wrote an awe-inspiring poem:

Here is a poem Jocelyn wrote on June 14, 2010. I thought she was asleep at 10:00 p.m., when she called down asking if she could write a poem that was in her head. I figured it would only take a few minutes, so I said okay. About a half hour later, she came downstairs with the following.

Jocelyn said it just came to her, and she knew what to write. It just flowed out of her. I left all spelling and punctuation the way she wrote it. Having a period at the end and no other punctuation marks was intentional. She's nine years old. [Auntie added spaces between some lines for easier digestion.]

Hope is like a flowing river
Taking you with the current
Not knowing where you are headed
But you know it is somewhere good

Hope is a bright light
Shining in the sky
No matter what time of day
Urging you on
Filling you with energy
Feels like you could fly to the moon

When you are on the edge of despair
Hope is there
Cheering you up
Telling you to continue
Showing you the way to happiness

When you feel split in two
Like your heart has shattered into a million pieces
Hope tells you what to do
Whispering with its wise words
In its soothing voice

It sparks a feeling inside you
Like a match being lighted
It flickers, then burns brightly
And there's an entire fire of hope
Burning inside you
With its warm glowing flames
Everything falls in place

Hope calms you
With its soothing words
And the gentle feel of its breath
As if it is standing beside you
Helping you continue on

Even though there is nothing there
You can feel its breath against your ear
And its softness pressing against you
You can hear its lulling voice
Like music to your ears
It sounds like birds chirping
And laughter

You can almost see its warm glow
And the bright lights in its eyes
With an encouraging smile
Smelling like gooey chocolate chip cookies
And juicy cherries

It walks beside you
It is like a dream come true
Like a lake of water to a man lost in a desert
Or a shimmering light in a dark cave
Always there for you

It never leaves your side
All your good memories
Seem to float around you
Circling your head
Depriving your mind of sad thoughts

If you feel hollow inside
Hope fills up the hole
With a newfound light
And once again you can feel it beside you
The feel of its skin
And the sound of its voice
Its wonderful scent
And its beautiful face
Even though there is nothing there
You feel filled with happiness
And hope surrounds you
Like a starlit chamber

Hope is always with you!

by Jocelyn Theresa Wright, age 9, June 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Glenn Logan

You know how you just get a feeling?

At 8:10 a.m., Wednesday, July 14, 2010, I decided to take my phones into the bathroom with me. Rarely does anyone call me, much less at that hour, but…

I had just sat down on the throne when the home line rang. It was my friend’s wife, and I knew. “Glenn won’t be at the meeting tonight. He just died. It was so sudden. He coughed and started hemorrhaging from his mouth, and before the paramedics got here 15 minutes later, he was gone.”

Fifteen minutes later.

“How are you?” I earnestly answered, knowing she must be experiencing shock. She didn’t hear me. When I asked a second time, I knew she was in shock.

“His body’s in the other room.”

I hadn’t seen Glenn since June 18 when I picked him up to go see my hiking bud who’d had a stroke. On our journey to Memorial Hospital, I remarked at how great Glenn looked. Alive, vibrant, tossing sexual innuendo into the air like an active volleyball.

He’d been undergoing chemo for lung cancer early Tuesday afternoons and radiation weekdays at 4:00 for a couple of months and had recently completed the series. Vietnam’s Agent Orange and the dreaded cigarette.

He said, “I’m almost disappointed that I’m not going in for chemo anymore. The people there were so kind. Fact is, I looked forward to it every week.” He’d been going to Penrose Cancer Center that apparently had hired people lovers. Praise God.

On July 3, he responded to my meeting reminder: “I’m looking forward to seeing y’all!
Love, Glenn”

Due to life’s events, the group hadn’t seen him since April 15, except hiking bud Bob. In the hospital, Glenn asked for permission, which was granted, to lay his healing hands on Bob, who attributes his quick recovery to spiritual healing via Glenn.

Glenn knew people immediately, sensed what they needed, initiated energy. He was an honorary tribal member of some Native American tribe. Glenn joined them all, did it all. If there was a judgment, it wasn’t found in Glenn.

But I’m not saying Glenn was a saint. He wasn’t, and I’ll leave it at that. Every man has his opinion, his past, his life.

The night before Glenn passed, my aunt whom I earlier wrote about (her husband of 62 years had passed) called. “You have incredible talent,” she said. “I just found another piece you had written,” and she read it to me.

On March 31, 1996, I had written about the last time you see someone, to make it positive, because it might be the last time you see this person. As she read it, I was amazed at the profundity in its words. But most writers know that feeling when they arouse themselves out of the trance.

My final trek with Glenn was a good finale: "I love you."

On the night of our monthly IONS* meeting, we honored our friend. And while we felt his humor, his spirit, his insightful observations, we deeply missed his physical presence.

From Glenn, Sunday, March 28, 2010, 1:49 a.m.:

"Many of you (and friends from other milieux as well) have asked what I would have you do, regarding my impending demise (which could be measured in days, weeks, months).

"What I’d ask, I guess, is that you would remember the good and use it as confirmation of the rightness in your lives, while taking note of my mistreakes and using them to avoid similar mishaps in your own lives.

"I would ask for kind thoughts, and an occasional boot in the rear to remind me to avoid the maudlin and pointless drama.

"Above all, I would ask that you nurture your love and compassion for all of Creation, for each act of kindness builds (imo) to the critical mass that I believe will eventually carry everything into that transcendent future that I see on the horizon.

"Peace and Love, Glenn"

Glenn leaves six children and a wonderful wife on this earth.

Awards Ceremony

In early April 2007 I received a call. “Hello, I’m Frances with Cheyenne Mountain School District’s Awards Committee. The district is recognizing you as Cheyenne Mountain Junior High’s Volunteer of the Year. The ceremony is Monday, April 30, from 3:45 till 6:00. Will you be able to attend?”

“Ahhh,” a voice resembling mine responded. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“I believe it’s for doing the newsletter for two years,” she cheerfully fed me.

“Gosh, well, thank you. But I don’t get out in public much anymore. Is the event a big deal?”

“It is,” she earnestly replied.

When I hung up with her, I was astounded. Someone appreciated me.

Days before the affair, I was still uneasy about going to be publicly awarded, but when the day arrived, I roped my daughter into driving back to her school with me. I tossed on my Rockies khakis, spikes, a long-sleeved yellow cotton top, and a wrinkled silk scarf that I could use to strangle myself if…

When we arrived, it was obvious the Twenty-second Annual Recognition Awards Ceremony was a big district deal. About 200 employees, award recipients, and their entourage were professionally dressed, hair coiffed, teeth whitened. Well, all but one. I freaked.

Nervously and with a slight tremor, I scoped an off-center place to hide under two metal folding chairs. Instead, though, we sat. I anxiously looked around for someone besides my daughter whose jacket I could crawl beneath, but all I saw were unfamiliar faces.

And so began the honors. Crimson, the senior high school music group, kicked off the event with great harmonies. Now that’s where I fit in: between that girl’s perfectly straight teeth. Then the education board president spoke, followed by a word from the superintendent, initiating the parade of our smiling district’s best.

The program I firmly gripped assured me I wouldn’t have to endure the agony of waiting too long. Volunteers would be awarded first, rising to a crescendo of retirees as the event’s finale.

Before a beautiful wooden plaque was handed to each recipient, an announcer would read a long introductory description of each person’s service to the district.

Good grief, I thought, what on earth could they say about me? My body was beginning to convulse into Tourette’s syndrome movements. And as if that weren’t enough, a photographer was capturing each glorious handshake. Ahhhh!

The award winner before me was on his way back to his seat when the announcer began reading about me. It was actually completely cool. They made up wonderful things about me that made me wish I’d have brought a compact, so I could check myself out. The writers had thrown in crazy, fun ideas suggesting I was with the FBI or CIA, since they’d e-mail all the stories and news to be included in the newsletters, and in return, they’d receive a completely edited and designed work. Most had never met me, so I suspect I was the mystery mom.

With great might, I pried the magnet in my butt away from the metal chair and strolled over to receive a fine gold-inscribed plaque with my name accurately spelled and a handshake from a guy whose daughter once hit our car. I gave my best Cheshire cat grin and sprinted back to my security-blanket daughter.

As I sat, I caught a glimpse of a thin, white article falling from my pants leg. Apprehensively, I wiggled my rear back into the chair and reached down to grab the thing. What I discreetly pulled up into our view was a dryer sheet!

To this day, I’ve wondered how many people saw the white, mesh, sheet dangling above my high heels as it tried to release itself from my khakis.

So along with my pretty Outstanding Volunteer plaque and the program, I keep the dryer sheet, just as a reminder of how special I really am.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Writing for a Living

I love copyediting. It gives me the opportunity to learn new subjects and words and meet new people, though not in person. You see, I’ve always had a face for radio, so it’s wonderful that my work arrives via the Net. It’s sort of like cyberdating, except I don’t have to endure the interrogation, the “you’re a lot homelier in person” comments, and I get paid for my input. In the emotional world when you offer ideas for another’s improvement, they tell you to go “edit” yourself.

Authors and editors respect my work. My Random House editor said I see things other don’t, like a rule one point thicker than another, or a gray hair on my blond head, or an impure thought. Except for those who desire a polished, fact-verified, credible work, I’m a pain, and I don’t think my being single is an accident.

Note: my editing means that someone has written. That makes me feel a little bit envious. I am awed that a person took the time to write more than a blog post. I wonder how long it took the author to write and rewrite a manuscript and how many people contributed to his or her effort by giving suggestions and allowing quiet, contemplative time.

I wonder if writers squirreled away money where they would receive the highest interest rate, say, in their mattresses, so they wouldn’t stress about paying insurance invoices. Food expenses no longer count, according to one “professional” Dumpster digger my neighbor told me about. The guy finds four-course meals and beer just under the lid. Hmm, maybe I’ll keep food as an expense.

So today I am a writer, not just a writer wannabe. My words might be fun, insightful, or inspirational. Contrarily, they might be unintriguing. But writers write, right? If I’m tapping on my iBook keyboard, I am like them. Plus when I’m done, I’ll have something to show for it, unlike sending a zillion applications and résumés to purported employers who really don’t exist.

Does anyone ever hear back from “employers” after sending letters of application? I’ve played the game for 12 years, have gotten two interviews, one temporary position, and lots of technical-job nudges from San Jose (though I’d written “not willing to relocate”).

I could be hurt by all the rejection if I had feelings, but everyone else in the U.S. tells me the same story, so I’m not special and you knew that. My dad thinks I don’t try, but he never grasped reality or empathy. “See if you feel this!” Bam! He always had a way with whirls.

So between editing jobs, I’m submitting my work to magazines again. As instructed in the Writer’s Market, I am reading and learning about each applicable magazine to hear its voice and ascertain if a publication blends with my style. If it blends, I need to suggest to them where in the magazine my work would best fit.

To the editor: “My work is best displayed on the front cover of your magazine…as a model of an old gal needing to share her message with the world. It would have a talk bubble nibbling at her mouth: ‘Buy me! Experienced. Vivacious. Willing to learn and earn. Oooo, baby, I can write a story.’”

Pretty erotic, isn’t it? Whaddaya say? Can I write about you?

Comment on Vasectomies

A friend of 38 years responded to my last post.

Been trimmed down there (vasectomized), and when the doctor was using the cauterizing tool, there was smoke coming up from between my legs. I sniffed a couple times and said to the doc, “They were right!”

He said, “They were right about what?”

I replied, “They were right that it smells like chicken!”

He laughed so hard, he dropped the new cauterizing iron, and then told me I would be responsible for the $85 cost.

I told him if he couldn't handle the heat to get out of my kitchen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Forced Sterilization

In Uzbekistan, women are undergoing sterilization against their will, without their knowledge. After surprise mutilation and removal of their reproductive parts, women are left unable to bear children. It’s sort of like making eunuchs of Uzbek functionaries without their approval and “accidentally” lopping off their penises as an added bonus while the patients are alert and not under anesthesia, just so they remember the extraordinary event. Checkmate.

The government used to give Uzbek women medals for having six or more children, but overpopulation in our world has given their government reason to reconsider earlier lacking-in-foresight compensation.

Now they worry that with so many young men being born with so little imagination, they will join al Qaeda or the Taliban. The government believes these future male adults lack sufficient entrepreneurial spirit to deliver Uzbeks from their pit of despair.

So rather than bless Uzbek men with simple vasectomies and allow them sperm-free Uzbek manliness, the government, which I suspect equals men, mutilates women. Makes perfect sense to them.

Admit it, sex is fun unless one partner is evil and uses sex as a weapon. So why not free the world’s people and give them practice organs via vasectomies. According to my many male friends, it’s easy.

Get a vasectomy. Don’t contribute to Earth’s demise.

Friday, July 2, 2010

El Paso County, Colorado, Fourth Judicial District Corruption, Part 1

I think it’s time.

I’ve kept publicly quiet for 16 years, and the guilty need to face the jury.

It’s Friday, July 2, 2010, and I just read that the Jaycee Dugard family finally took a stand against the state of California, whose Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to do what they were paid to do. And the Dugards won.

She had been kidnapped by a paroled sex offender as a young girl and kept in his backyard. After 18 years in captivity, she brought forth two children and, most likely, a horror story.

Welcome to Colorado Springs and El Paso County, Colorado’s, Fourth Judicial District.
In the months to come, I will reveal travesties and constitutional violations by not only the district’s judicial branch and its judges, but all ancillary financial feeders on the system: psychologists, social workers, lawyers, quasitherapists, the Department of Human Services and all their employees, funded by El Paso County, the state of Colorado, possibly federal tax dollars, and primarily, the victims.

Just know, sexual molestation and abuse is condoned by El Paso County’s Department of Human Services even after numerous reports, as long as it is done by a family member, such as the biological father, his new partner, her son, or someone within two familial degrees of anyone in their families.

My daughter was 18 months when the molestation began, and it continued until her twelfth year, when she released herself of the situation. I was not allowed to release her, though the system eagerly embraced my thousands of dollars.

Imagine the cost in all areas.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Buy Good Quality

Stuff breaks. Pencils, bones, hearts, promises. This morning it was my shower head. It couldn’t withstand the coursing water pressure as I turned the dial to a different setting, and its head came unglued. I know the feeling.

Though I’ve had this shower head for years, I don’t plan to toss it at the neighbor’s barking dog. I will try a time, or two, if necessary, to repair it. The throwaway society that began in the 1960s never suited me, though I wish my parents would have thrown their marriage away 17 years before they did.

My id must be very strong, because I derive great pleasure from repairing rather than replacing things that have broken. Sure it takes time; I fix things each week. But through my action, I have not added to landfill waste, I’ve saved gas and money, and I wear a satisfied smile that looks as if I were doing something better.

Remember back in the olden days, things were solid, built well, constructed to last: tools, clothing, a lot of marriages. That was the American way. Then Made in China started appearing on the same kinds of products that Americans also made, except the much-less-expensive Chinese items broke rather rapidly turning into a much-more-expensive second trip to buy the American-made version.

Buying cheap isn’t smart, and you can’t repair the thing because its materials are inferior and flimsy, so into the landfill it goes.

Anyway, I superglued my shower head and didn’t realize the glue dripped onto my fingers. I was able to pry my fingers from the head, but two fingers were still stuck together. Warm, soapy water didn’t get the glue off. Neither did Goo Gone or Goof Off. Superglue wears off skin in a day or two, but it stays on fingernails longer.

The next day I tested my repair job with a pull of the shower activator and pop! The shower head is in the garbage can, the old stationary head is back in place. and I have regained complete functioning of my fingers.

So when something breaks, don’t come unglued. Give repairing a shot. And if you use superglue, have debonder close by.

Death and Darn Near

I know everybody dies, but why does everyone have to dip their toes into holy water at the same time?

My hiking bud, Bob, had a stroke June 7, Uncle Don died June 11, and a friend has had zero access to her son for months due to her lying, controlling, abusive husband.

My mind, body, and spirit are wiped out, because I'm the type who soaks everyone's feelings into my depths. And now, after relaxing in the hot tub, I'm completely drained and sobbing. If only I had some wine.

Bob hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, probably because we hadn’t hiked nor seen each other since May 17 and he missed me terribly, so his doctor recommended the How Much Do I Miss Auntie test at the hospital. The result: He only missed me a little bit. The real culprit was a little sac, and it wasn’t between his legs.

“In humans the appendix is small and has no known function,” which describes a couple folks I used to know.

His appendix had ruptured, which I find strange because it involves the digestion of cellulose and he doesn’t eat anything even resembling cellulose. Salads and green food are against his religion. Maybe it ruptured from inactivity, so the resident doctor performed an appendectomy.

Three days later and still in Memorial Hospital, Bob had a stroke. I surmise that the five clots they found in his head might have formed because he was taken off his blood-thinning drug, but I’ve only played doctor.

He lost some right arm and hand control and can’t walk very well, but his strange Iowan sense of humor slowly spills from his mouth. I visit Bob every other day rather than daily—a little bit of me goes a long way—and assist when I can, but not in the can. No butt wiping for me. Working with the occupational therapist, I helped him shuffle to the bathroom, tubes hanging out of his body, hooked up to bags of liquid and measuring instruments. I later fed him soup. I just pray he recovers fully and quickly, or his wife said she’ll go nuts.

Uncle Don was 87 and had a good life. My aunt, 83, was a tennis pro, Christian singer and songwriter, and worked at a retirement home till last year. She called this eve and shared the touching story about her husband of 62 years. She’d found love notes she had given him and shared their sentiments. By the end of the conversation, I looked like Alice Cooper. She said it would mean a lot for me to be there. But, she noted, we wouldn't have one-on-one time and she has a very small home.

I have less than $150 in the bank, and even if I started selling my body now, I’m not sure I’d have enough for gas and a hotel…or next month’s insurance payments. But at times like these, money should be of no concern…till next month.

As for my gal friend, I pray and hope for pure love and healing to move through her life—and her son’s. Whether healing is emotional, spiritual, or physical, it makes breathing so much easier.

appendix definition from New Oxford American Dictionary

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hire Auntie: Evolutionary Editor

When a person declares that he or she is going through a midlife crisis, I question if that’s the correct term for the experience.

I mean, maybe a gal is just viewing her reflection at the wrong angle. I would term that “weight rearrangement.” Reflections should only be viewed in a small, chest-high mirror until the crisis has passed.

Or maybe her husband is viewing his wife from a different angle than he does other women, which could be termed “boredom,” “lack of self-esteem,” or “lack of self-control.”

Perhaps a person is so tired of the routine that a deviation or transplant is vital. We simply can’t do the same thing continuously without losing precision and verve, even when we walk a diverse path. Viewing life from a fresh perspective can give us vibrancy and invigoration.

Therefore, I think another term for this midlife crisis concept is “evolution.”

Think of how many times you’ve evolved since high school or college. Many of us don’t even work in our degree field. In college I majored in journalism. My emphasis was on advertising and broadcast, so I was the promotion director at the college radio station and appeared on TV as both an environment reporter and anchor.

After graduation, I sold time—radio time, that is. Plus I was on the air from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. weekdays. But when an offer to earn almost double came along less than three years later, I jumped into the finance business and soon after ran a leasing company.

I can think of one position that pulled all my skills and talents together, except for singing, and that was as the international marketing communications manager for a high-tech company. I loved it, and they used me well, though I was only allowed to sing in the bathroom.

But less than a decade later, I decided to contract with my employer and work from home to more actively parent my little girl. And here I am 13 years later with my savings gone, evolving away and weighing my abilities to see what tips my scale.

Maybe you’re asking the same question: Of all the things I do well, what am I passionate about and do better than anyone else?

I believe my forte is editing, and writing, of course. [Purists out there will call me on my use of forte, I’m sure.] Therefore, I am hanging out my marquee to be your writer and editor.

Maybe you don’t need an editor. Here’s a test. See if you can find 25 errors in the following passage.

His sage advise after 30 years experience was:
(1) Read non-fiction books.
2) Don’t be lead astray by good looking women.
3) Be aware of ideas that are half-baked but others’ say are alright.
4) Don’t travel North West of Texas.
(5) When stopped by a Sheriff, know your hung if you don’t place you’re hands on the dash and act saint-like.
6. If you meet a skunk think twice before you yank it’s tail
(7) If you have a nearly-empty canteen be thankful for those drops already drunk.

With a wink of his eye and a tip of his hat, he said, “If I was you, I’d contact this Auntie girl.”

How did you do?

After I wrote that crazy passage, my daughter found one error that I hadn’t caught. Teenagers, they know everything. But evolution hasn’t caught her yet.

If you reach your audience with the written word, it matters to do it correctly, and your friends might not tell you something is wrong.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Embarrassed or Pleased

I don’t know if I should feel embarrassed or pleased.

Gee, as I wrote that statement I realized it could apply to several things, such as “I should feel embarrassed that I passed wind in public. I’m just pleased it was only wind.” Or, “I’m embarrassed that I forgot about the dog and left him inside all day, but I’m pleased that he ate the burglar.” Or, “I’m embarrassed that I haven’t had a boyfriend in five years, but I’m pleased that I don’t have chunks of broken heart messing up my home.”

I’m sure you could add a few for us out here in Blogistan.

Well, I’m embarrassed that, after taking my daughter to school at 7:15 a.m., I crawled back into bed, but I’m pleased that I’m feeling better. During the past four days I have worked this old body too hard and, as usual, I haven’t eaten enough, being particularly scarce on salads. And early last night, while my intent was to magically disappear between my sheets after partially dissolving in the hot tub, I stayed up, read, and helped my daughter study so she wouldn’t have to be alone. When my head finally hit the pillow and prayers were said, the hammer fairy laid a strong one on my head, and it was lights out.

When 5:58 a.m. struck me equally hard, the black bears on my flannel sheets held me firmly around the middle. They even put their black paws over my eyes, testing my strength. I struggled and they fought back, and at last I broke free and fell off my mattress. But I didn’t make my bed.

Making breakfast for my daughter has been easy the past two weeks because she hasn’t wanted eggs but, instead, cereal. So I set out her placemat, bowl, utensil, and napkin, then took out the recycling, garbage, and dog. When I came inside she said, “I thought you were going to make me eggs.”

“Oh yeah,” I breathed, vaguely remembering my "you should have a good breakfast" suggestion before taking her AP test.

Back home I vacillated: Should I? or would I feel guilty? Recalling that I am neither Catholic nor a full-fledged Jew, I succumbed and fed my body to the bears.

Forty minutes later, a transmogrified person arose from my bed. I must say, she’s quite pleasant compared with her exhausted twin sister. Grrrrr.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thank Yous

While I was in the shower today, I missed a call. When I recognized the number as my daughter’s school’s, I panicked, thinking the worst. (When some of us become mothers, we simultaneously receive an advanced degree in worry.)

When I collected the message, I heard the sweetest words from a woman I didn’t even know: “Thank you so much for….” She went on to say how my gift contributed to her students’ education and why.

Three days before her call, the arts department chairman responded positively to my offer of donating 64 high-quality illustration, photography, advertising, and design publications, Communication Arts. I had tried to sell them two years ago through Craigslist (ammo for scammers) and local universities, to no avail. After leafing through almost all of them during the past two years, I decided others should enjoy them too.

I sometimes feel as if I could live on thank yous. And while thank yous don’t pay for my insurances, they sure make me want to give more stuff away!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Haven

Have you ever noticed when you return home from vacation that animals knew you were gone, so they’ve moved in? It’s almost as if they conspired and waited for the day when the garage door would close, and they’d feel no vibrational frequency emitting from your home. With a welcoming wave of a hand and a short whistle, all the animals emerge from hiding, exposing themselves for the sheer pleasure of taking over human space. How satisfying.

Conniving little beasts.

Spiders construct new webs in the lower level. More deer lie in the backyard—the does filing their hooves and applying a fresh layer of polish, bucks now recovered from rutting season are playing a riveting game of poker. And birds have chosen to nest in your new hanging planter, the precious plant having been picked out and carelessly tossed on the ground.


This type of activity happens in our home and yard. The difference is, we never go anywhere, so they conduct their presumptuous behavior right before our eyes. Years ago a friend said, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” quoting Psalm 37:11. “I think what’s meant by that is insects, small and insignificant, will eventually overcome everything.”

Scary thought, but possible.

I’ve always attracted those less fortunate and those who have lived through a lot of emotional pain. I endured much bad stuff as a child and have done almost everything, so I really can’t be judgmental. People and animals know I’m trustworthy, and some take advantage of me, but I’m forgiving to a point…after which I disappear like the wind.

The most recent less fortunate being is someone I thought was dead and consumed by coyotes. I hadn’t seen him for three weeks, nor had several neighbors. But last weekend while standing in my neighbors’ backyard talking, I noticed a pair of ears. For five minutes or more, those ears didn’t even twitch.

Finally I asked if Bette and Bob would turn around and look at what appeared to be a ceramic deer, which would be a pretty weird thing to have, given the tens of deer trotting around all the time. We all trekked down the hill, and sure enough, it wasn’t a ceramic deer.

So I ventured, “I’ll bet it’s our injured one,” referring to the young buck I call Franklin, whose hindquarters are virtually useless after being struck by a vehicle. So we chose to let resting faux-ceramic deer rest.

By the next day, the injured deer was grazing in our back forty, as I call the easement area. I walked downstairs and outside to unlatch the back gate, so he’d have access to fresh water, the hot tub, and a more expanded area to poop. And sure enough, he’s made himself at home under the large junipers. Even Shiloh the Lab knows to leave the poor guy alone, so they share space.

Aside from one very close call during rutting season, Shiloh doesn’t let deer bother him. A fawn once touched its nose to Shiloh’s, and a doe chased the dog as he fetched his ball.

Today a ringed turtledove perched in our juniper above Franklin, and a beautiful kitty with a chunk missing from its left ear is skittering around. I boiled her a chicken leg and set it outside with a bed in a wooden box. This feline, however, will remain outdoors, unlike the other two. My heart goes out to the wounded and strays, as I hope someone’s heart would go out to me in times of need.

Two years ago I wrote to my friend William, currently a contractor in Iraq: “Shiloh found two kittens in the backyard, adding to the thick web I've woven. I feel as if I have a farm, but I can't butcher any animals.”

To this he gently replied: “Those animals are not an inconvenience. They are a way for you to be reminded that your house is a home, and it is safe for friends, family, and wayward strays.

“Don't worry about the poop. They'll make up for it by licking your hand one day.

“Be safe! William”

“If one of my wayfarers licks my hand, it’ll probably be the bear. Love, Goldilocks.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Isn’t for Everyone Anymore

Gee, what a shock. The catering company that has for two years provided delectable food at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is not renewing their contract.

Join the Nonrenewing Club.

Garden of the Gods Gourmet has worked their arts off to provide Fine Arts Center patrons with a multicultural menu at FAC restaurant Café 36, but the proposed contract, prepared, I suspect, by the relatively new FAC management, will not allow the caterer to make a profit—the probable financial direction for the center itself. How democratic.

The Fine Arts Center was led from 2003 to 2007 by risk taker Michael De Marsche, who visioned a spectacular center in Colorado Springs and instituted a fund-raising campaign to build the FAC’s new wing. The drive included our entire community and beyond and attracted a lot of new blood. Annual attendance grew from approximately 20,000 to more than 120,000, an ever-expanding audience that I’ll bet has ever decreased during the current CEO’s tenure.

Under De Marsche’s innovative management, the Fine Arts Center had monthly wine tastings called First Thursdays, tempting hors d’oeuvres, and two groups playing live music that drew hundreds to purchase memberships who otherwise wouldn’t have joined. Through these soirées, people became more aware of other programs—plays, musicals, gallery openings, guest artists, and classes—by being in the galleries and via periodic FAC communications. Subsequently, members attended these events, bringing friends and family. Too quickly, however, De Marsche left the FAC to accept the challenge of becoming executive director of the Yerevan, Armenia, Gerard L. Cafesjian Center for the Arts and Museum of Art.

October 2008 when new permanent management stepped in, word leaked out that CEO Mark Samuel Gappmayer might end the wine tastings because previous leadership had spent too much money on the new wing, and the wine tastings weren’t making the FAC any money. The Fine Arts Center is a nonprofit organization. Apparently advertising and public relations—spending money to make money—were new concepts, which could be a blessing because FAC communications lack consistency anyway.

During Gappmayer’s decision-making period soon after his arrival, I had a lovely chat with him during First Thursdays, imploring him to continue the more-than-20-year tradition of attracting people to the FAC via wine tastings. I’d even served at the gatherings 24 years earlier.

With a genuine smile and obvious concern for the FAC’s financial well-being, he said, and I paraphrase, “But look at who these wine tastings attract: middle-class people who otherwise wouldn’t be here. They’re not interested in art,” he declared, as smiling patrons socialized, gazing at and discussing the exhibit.

Middle class. What is wrong with middle class? Who, specifically, does he want supporting his Fine Arts Center? “Welcome to my center…unless you’re middle class.”

Let’s mention some of the middle-class patrons. One friend paid cash for his $1.3 million home. Many own their homes. This CEO himself purchased his house for $505,000, financing $404,000 of it. The house I built with my ex would now sell for more than $600,000. We have careers and places in society that would connote other than middle class. But why should it matter who pays to be a part of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center?

Some things should not be spoken. I’ve always advised those new in their positions to observe for a time to learn the mechanics of an environment before making consequential decisions.

Contributing to his lack of decorum, Gappmayer had uncharitably stuck the only live music in the small gift shop’s northeast corner—three or four musicians trying to gift us with their songs in a 36-square-feet area. There was no dancing that night.

A very wealthy friend was one of Gappmayer’s few invited guests to a special midmorning presentation to discuss Gappmayer’s plans, the future, and how important their donations to the FAC would be, if they would simply write a check of four or five figures before they leave and place it right here, he suggested with his coat opened just a bit.

Yes, rather than asking everyone to contribute to our community arts center, Gappmayer chooses to eschew the middle class and confront those who are hammered by almost every nonprofit organization already.

Like the Garden of the Gods Gourmet, I suspect many former FAC’ers have not renewed their “contracts” to maintain membership. While it used to be a venue to socialize, discover, and be entertained, it now appears the community center’s culture is open only to a select club.

I see a lack of vision, a view that had started within. But don’t take it from me, take it from someone who works near him: “He’s an idiot.”

And now he could be getting hungry.