Monday, December 15

Wild Bells in the Wild West

Ring Out , Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be. 

Thursday, November 27

Why So Many

I Have A Dream

"Any way you look at it. The US arrests more of its citizens, more of the time, and jails more of its citizens than any other country. At the same time, it doesn't have low crime rates to show for all this punishment. I suspect that the country needs to rethink its punitive approach to maintaining social order. The current system isn't working well." - fluffylucy, commenter - "One In 25 Americans Was Arrested In 2011" - Huffington Post, 8/7/13

It is estimated that 400 citizens are killed by police each year.  Last year over 27 police officers were killed.  Even for a population of 316 million plus, these numbers seem excessive and these statistics are compiled from incomplete and voluntary reports.  This means that many more deaths in police custody are not reported.  Why so many killings by police?  Why are police killed?  Are Americans really so lawless and vicious that police must have the right and the ability to kill in order to protect and serve their communities.  Each American has the right to bear arms.  Is this right the reason why our policing is more deadly than the law enforcement in other countries?  Lots of questions but no real data for answers.

Right now, citizens of Ferguson, Missouri are cleaning up from nights of rioting over the killing of teenager, Michael Brown, one of 400 who die after contact with police in America.  Right now, there is an arms race, but not between Russia and America.  Right now, local police are getting military grade weapons from the federal government.  Right now, citizens can purchase similar weapons. Now, there is a gun in  every conflict between a suspect and the police.  Citizens stopped by police fear that they'll be shot.  Police stopping people for jaywalking fear that they'll be shot.  The flood of weapons into and out of America is creating this climate of mistrust and fear.  Human interaction in America is all about the gun.  Someone acts crazy - that's sad, but if they carry a gun, it's deadly.

Common sense should tell us to authorize non lethal, peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.  Killing an unarmed teenager in the middle of a suburban street in broad daylight is intolerable and shows a complete breakdown of civility and responsible policing. Listening to an interview of officer Wilson in which he describes the shooting, I got the impression, he had memorized his lawyer's version of events, leaving him entirely blameless and certainly not remorseful.  His main defense is that he thought Michael Brown had a gun or wanted his gun and he had to shoot him to make him comply.  Wilson will resort to his gun again if pressured, and that's a truly scary thought.

Even if everything he said was true, the fact that a simple jaywalking incident became a shooting shows "his training" was inadequate.  Most police officers are confronted with similar or worse situations every day and don't go for their guns.  Even the Rodney King beating which sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots was restrained compared to Wilson's handling of Brown.  How would Darren Wilson have handled Mike Brown if he did not have a gun to rely on?  What skills would Wilson have needed to diffuse and control the situation?  Time to find out, eh, before another city is burned to the ground.

America must seek out better ways to enforce laws, but instead of de-escalating the police vs. citizen arms race,  military surplus from Iraq and Afghanistan wars are being given to local communities to control their populations.  Even Cottonwood, AZ with virtually no crime has taken advantage of this deadly give awayCongress had the ability to shut down the program that gives surplus military weaponry to local police forces, but it chose not to act giving tacit approval to the concept that superior firepower solves neighborhood conflicts.  Congress also allowed the assault weapons ban to expire, making it easy for citizens to arm themselves to the teeth, out gunning the police.

Our cultural institutions such as television programs, news media, movies support the "bigger gun wins" concept.  I enjoyed watching both Captain America movies on DVD this week - until I realized that the Cap and his supporters were just as cavalier about killing people as the bad guys.  Violent excess, brutality, senseless destruction, little or no reason other than craziness behind the mayhem fill the screen with the noise and gore of killing.  The first Captain America movie had a decent story of human struggle and overcoming hardship, but the Winter Soldier fooled me.  It is completely devoid of human feeling, focusing on mechanized death vs. everyday human struggle - a non stop blood bath which gave me many opportunities to raid the refrigerator while the black widow and Cap tore up Manhattan and turned the world into a smoking heap of ashes, vanquishing the "bad guys of Hydra" along the way.

We have an epic crime problem in America - and it's not the crime itself but the fear of it, the glamour of it, the exploitation of murder and chaos.  Our people are steeped in a "warrior culture" without the warrior - just the mechanized trappings of bravery:  the gun.  So, as the arms war escalates in America, citizens tired of the waste and stupidity need to stop supporting programs and cultural institutions that promote violence. Killing a person whether it be to protect oneself at home or in defense of the nation is a degrading, soul killing experience.  There is no good violence or bad violence, just harmful violence.  Someone gets hurt.  Someone dies.  Someone is responsible for inflicting pain and destruction creating a never ending wheel of annihilation.  A wise man once said:

“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

May all beings know love and harmony.  May we be the peace in this world.

Sunday, November 16

Mr. Lemning's Desperate Plan - Chapter 2


That Ugly Feeling

Best Laid Plans

The Last Straw Saga
Chapter II

I jam my foot on the accelerator and roar out of the parking lot of the Work Kare Reproduction Health clinic.  In my rear view mirror, I see that the clinic's security guard has his gun drawn and is watching me through his gun site as I maneuver past people coming in for drug tests.  I can't watch him anymore.  I have to get out of Shreveport before the Division of Reproductive Health notifies the state police and the nation that I have jeopardized my ability to procreate in violation of the VD laws of Louisiana.  Why did I decide that today I would go and get that damned exam?   Did I have a death wish?  Half of my friends have refused to even read the laws and the other half seriously regret being on the productive American list.  

"Oh no.  Is that police car turning around?"  My fear is so great, my eyes feel like they are closed or narrowed to mere pinpoints of light, asphalt and lines.  I slow and turn left onto Greenwood, right onto Highway 220,  and then veer off onto Interstate 49.  It was five miles before I heard the mechanized voice inside my car warn me that my seat belt is not buckled.  By the time I get off the interstate at the I-49 Frontage Road and stop for cross traffic, the warnings have given up.

"What the fuck do I need a seat belt to protect me when any jacked up security guard can draw a gun and shoot me.  How about a warning to avoid all contact with Reproductive Health clinics.  Jesus!" I am furious and terrified, shaking and spitting curses so loud, the driver in the truck beside me almost ran the red light trying to get clear of a madman.  "Get a grip.  Calm down.  Wipe the spit off your chin.  Here's your turn, Cletus,"  and as I try to calm my nerves, I follow the driveway behind The Ranchers Outlet into the shade of elms and cottonwoods.  From there, I walk to Mellincone's Storage Center, and so begins step one in my desperate plan.

The repressive VD laws passed a few years ago have added yet another layer of hell to my life.   Decades ago, mandatory government health care was considered a god send to the millions of people without insurance and I was one of them.

My father worked as an airplane mechanic for Red River Courier for ten or more years and the company provided health insurance for him, mom, me, Ruby and Bert.  Mom used to say that Red River insurance was almost as good as no insurance at all. So she doctored us with all kinds of concoctions gathered from her Osage relatives, the internet, and neighbors. Like the health care system, her cure rate was 50% or less.  Usually, we simply crawled in our beds and slept through whatever ailed us.  Mom died around the time that Dad lost his job.  So there he was with three teenagers, no money, no insurance and nothing but a Southern man's hope - a full fridge of beer.

Mom's sister, Aunt Rebbecca and her husband, Walt, took in Ruby and Bert. I was left with Dad, or Ron as he wanted to be called.  Ron, the mechanic, who spent his days taking apart our car and putting it back together again.  Oh, he was good.  But, mechanical days were long gone and he didn't have it in him to learn the ways of electric or hybrid technology.  I was fifteen when I got my first job at an auto parts store and two years later I talked the store into hiring Ron.

Thanks to Aunt Rebbecca, Mom's concoctions, and  Obamacare we were able to handle our medical problems without dying.  We could handle almost all problems, except for Ron's alcoholism.  He didn't feel any pain, true enough, but he leaked beer from every pore and eventually he was let go from the auto parts store.  From that day to now, he's been a mean loner, one step away from the gutter.   He's the one who predicted that the Obamacare of the 2010s would evolve from a godsend for the uninsured to a government monitoring system.

"Once they get your DNA, they can track you anywhere for any reason and you don't get any say in what they do to you."  Ron is a conspiracy junkie and a rabid anti-liberal.  The back of my neck begins to itch as I walk past the Outlet and onto the Frontage road.  I smell the asphalt and the sharp tang of Cottonwoods and pines. Ron got this unit a few years ago to store the many auto parts he stole from the store.  His plan was to sell them on Craig's List or the Southern Man's Auto Exchange websites.  After he got fired, he cleared out almost everything except the most valuable auto parts and put Bert's name on the agreement thinking that company investigators would be thrown off his trail of illegal activities.  Naturally, Ron wouldn't give a shit about his kids and the trouble he causes them.  

Just thinking of Ron prompts me to start rummaging in my pocket making sure my wallet is still there while I fish my keys out.  Right on top is the key to the storage unit lock and it fits - no catching or scraping.  It opens and there she is - Bert's Honda Goldwing hybrid motorcycle.  She's big and black with silver trim.  Last year, Bert asked me to get her serviced because he was expecting to come home on leave from his tour of duty in the Sudan.  His leave was cancelled and not rescheduled.  The last word we got about him was an email to Ron from one of his army platoon members, some woman we've never heard of who claimed that he would soon be promoted to corporal.  According to Ron, there were no details about when and where Bert would be promoted.  God only knows why he didn't forward the email to the rest of us, but he didn't and that was the last word on Bert.  His wife, Shauna, Ruby and I called the base locator to get some information on our brother, but no luck.  I guess the military is not obligated to keep track of people once they enlist, or maybe they don't feel obligated to tell family where people are fighting from day to day.  Either way, Bert's off the radar, and I have the keys to his motorcycle.

The cool interior of the storage unit smells of oil and old rags, a smell I had learned to love while living with Ron all those years.  In the corner, on top of the auto parts boxes was my "bug out" bag containing clothes, money,  an unregistered cell phone, a credit card, and a fake ID with the name Jesse John Martin.

"Jesse Martin!" I marvelled, thinking how easy it will be to remember that name and how hard it will be to track me down among the millions.  I had done research on this and found that there were not many men with the name Cletus, and hardly anyone with the last name of  Lemning.  I wondered if Ron's forefathers misspelled a real last name or dredged up some word they used in the swamp and slapped it on us.  I have always wanted to change my name, to fit in and get lost in a crowd and now I'm forced into escaping from Ron and the Lemnings, from the Division of Reproductive Health, from Louisianna and its obsessive quest to control its people with stupid state laws, even worse than federal laws as far as I can tell.

I'll miss Ruby and Bert.  Even though we were raised apart and we rarely see each other, I still have brotherly feelings toward them and hope they can live okay lives in this state.  I'm done with it here.  I'm looking at being locked up for five years or more if DRH catches me, so I'm pretty sure they'll wave goodbye with a smile on their faces.  Well, maybe not Bert because I'm getting out of here on his Honda Goldwing.  My stuff fits perfectly in the storage compartments, including a small tent and basic camping gear.  The only thing missing from this escape scenario is my Glock - it's old, but Ron took good care of it over the years he owned it and when he gave it to me, he'd scrounged a sizeable cache of ammo.  It's stashed in Oklahoma just waiting for me to get there and be on my way to Barstow, California.

Monday, September 29

The End of the Map

Allen or Rufous Hummingbird?

Sittin In The Morning Sun

Resident of The Gold King Mine - Jerome, AZ

Yellow Headed Blackbird - Pinetop, AZ

Ducks & Geese in the Sedona Wetlands Preserve

“Birds know themselves not to be at the center of anything, but at the margins of everything. The end of the map. We only live where someone's horizon sweeps someone else's. We are only noticed on the edge of things; but on the edge of things, we notice much.”

May all beings know love and peace and exhilaration.

Saturday, August 30

White Birds and Blue Water

Great White Egret - Monterey Bay California

Under the Bridge
"To see a heron in your dream represents self-reliance, stability, tactfulness and careful forethought. You will achieve much success through your efforts. Alternatively, dreaming of a heron signifies your ability to explore and delve into your subconscious." - Spirit Animal Totems

I dreamt deeply last night.  When I woke, the only remains of the dream were white birds and blue water.   An acquaintance, beloved by perhaps the whole town, was found dead in his bed yesterday and his passing has left behind shock and mysteries.  He was my age.  The struggle to stay alive, to become more alive, to live with joy and purpose has just become more urgent and more important.  

May all who struggle know love and may all those who no longer struggle, know peace.

Friday, August 29

Haiku Friday

a monsoon rain falls
two stand alone against time
 fish swim in smooth lines
- K Mackey (Haiku Generator)

In the coolness
of the empty sixth-month sky...
the cuckoo's cry.
- Masaoki Shiki

two rainbows
 have risen over
 the green paddy field

- Masaoki Shiki

A few days ago, a fast moving wall of slate clouds stalled over my valley. It hid the red rocks and produced a fresh wind ahead of bursts of hard rain. Flower pots, bird baths and hummingbird feeders shivered and filled with water, overflowing onto the deck. Sheets of water swept across the hills. The sound of overfilled gutters and tumbling rock in the wash drew me outside where the mist blew through my thin dress and refreshed my skin like a dewy shower. 

Soon, the cloud wall had moved further north and just as I considered going inside to finish my work, the faint color outline of a rainbow appeared on the eastern horizon. Sun and soft rain had created this beauty and soon the color deepened exposing another color outline and another rainbow, an even deeper-hued arch below the original one. Double rainbows are not rare in this red rock country during monsoon season, but I always think the appearance of double rainbows are singular and extraordinary. The weather has many lessons to teach us, but the most heartfelt lesson is that rainbows often follow a hard rain. Wait for it. Expect it. Celebrate it.

May all beings know love and peace.

Sunday, July 20

Critter Sunday

Osprey in the Wild Blue - Woods Canyon Lake, AZ

Peach Tree Visitor - Sedona, AZ

Feisty Rufous - Sedona, AZ

Who Stole My Place? - Elephant Seals at Ragged Point, CA

Nap Time - Monterey, CA
Spiney Lizard - Sedona, AZ

Gambol Quail Says Hi! - Sedona, AZ

"And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good." -
Genesis 1:21

I just got the newest historical novel by Diana Gabaldon, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood."  It's the eighth book in her Outlander series weighing in at over 800 pages and so far, it is an intense pleasure to read.  The series has everything:  time-travel, romance, history, medicine, biology, and wonderful writing.  She shares her extensive knowledge of the natural world in almost every sentence, and this knowledge gives each book a familiar flavor of the outdoors, opening doors into the interior worlds of Jacobite Scotland and colonial America.

One sentence in this new book seems to be the key for unlocking Gabaldon's fascination for me:

"I had my legs wrapped round him - I could feel the flutter of tiny insects on my ankles and bare feet as they swarmed, avid for his unprotected bare flesh - and didn't mean to let him go." - Chapter 65, "Mosquitoes"

Of course her description of Claire's sex with her husband, Jaime, is fascinating but the fine details she uses to paint a picture of an exhausted couple sleeping outside by the river with all of its plants, animals and insects really captures the earthy essence of this series.

It is a glimpse into an exterior world.  A world where human activities are outside of homes, factories, shops, and even when she describes urban living in the late 1700s, there are always descriptions of the efforts people must make that take them into the streets to communicate via messenger, ride on horse back or in carriages to neighbors and towns.  There is strenuous effort in her books.  People coping, day-to-day, with the "inconveniences" of unadulterated smells, finding food and shelter, physical injury, biting animals and insects - survival in a hostile world.

It does not surprise me that she was born in Flagstaff, Arizona - actually Williams!  Her writing shines when she describes a pine forest or snow falling on a rocky bluff or a meadow full of wildflowers.  Her educated and lively mind brings all of the color and freshness of Northern Arizona into her stories and those homey glimpses of reality infuse this fantasy series with a perspective both familiar and otherworldly.

Shouldn't be long before I finish this massive adventure story and then the long wait begins for her next installment!

Wednesday, July 16

Who Are These People?

Grand Canyon State Wonders

Gov Brewer Speaks Before the Arizona Legislature

Tough Talk 

Where Does It All Lead?

"From the Jim Crow anti-immigrant law and birther bill to the reality television show Sunset Daze, Arizona is gaining an international reputation for being crazy." - Jon Talton, Rogue Columnist

My guilty on-line pleasure is (holds breath)  Vids of housewives of new jersey? Rich kids of instagram? Nope.  None of these. It's *cough* ...Buzzfeed! Yes, I love this popular website.  It's not as boring as porn, or as trashy-fun as "housewives", or as drool-worthy as "rich kids."  It's a site jam-packed with the unimportant trivia I so love and, once in a while, it has a nugget of interesting truth to chew on.

One such trivia item came up a few months ago on Buzzfeed: The Stereotype Map Of Every U.S. State — According To British People. Arizona, the majestic Grand Canyon State, is perceived by our British brothers as hot (of course), desert (true), and the producer of "fucked-up laws" (WHA?). The last perception surprised me because I thought that only the lonely democrats in this state were aware of the truth of this notion. Thanks to Buzzfeed, I now keep an eye on not only local, but national and international news about Arizona and realize that it's hard for the nation and the world to ignore our creepy, ignorant, mostly republican law makers, and law enforcers, especially media manipulator Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his clone, Paul Babeu.  These elected officials grandstand relentlessly, giving the impression that Arizona is a haven of racist, homophobic, misogynist, gun-loving wing nuts who say they love their Lord God.  But, not when it comes to "strangers" like immigrants, children, women, (fill in the blank).  Then,  following Christian teachings, even the most basic one -

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12

- gets kicked to the curb for some deluded, liberal Good Samaritan to trip over.

Today's latest travesty, "Arizona Politician Mistakes YMCA Campers for Migrant Children", illustrates perfectly the unhinged nature of Arizona's political landscape. Today, Adam Kwasman is featured in the ongoing reality show, "Arizona's Crazy Politicians: Hysteria and Fear in the Grand Canyon State."  Yesterday, Arizona's political drama was about which republican gubernatorial candidate is more emotional about eliminating the state income tax.  What is Arizona's political future?  We'll ask Cathi Herrod, ALEC, and  The Goldwater Institute about their future plans and watch the clock go backwards.

I suppose some would say that Arizonans get what they deserve for voting for those who despise them, but no one deserves the carnage created by Arizona's legislature.  I asked a prominent Arizona democratic legislator what it's like to work with so many republicans, "I grew up with some of these guys and I know how they play the game.  So, everything I do is a compromise and must be flawless."  That's how democrats and independents must operate at the state level.

At the national level, this strategy has already unravelled and has morphed into a partisan quagmire where the no-brainer funding of extra help for our borders is bogged down into a tar pit of rhetoric and delay tactics.  Do nothing!  That's the rallying cry of tea party republicans and while they're collecting their paychecks and using reviled federal healthcare programs, they have the nerve to sneer and throw tantrums about anything President Obama requests.  Never mind that he won two elections and two popular votes.  The "people" don't know what they should want.  So these republicans do nothing but tear down any program that benefits people (...let's leave the peoplehood of corporations out of this one),  and they waste time and taxpayer money spinning  idiotic scandals - whether based on truth or lies - the ends justifies the means.  Crazy is a kind word for these public servants.  I just wonder if SCOTUS will grant corporations the right to serve as legislators under their new peoplehood status.  Then the grandstanding crazies might not be needed anymore.  Ahhhh...I can almost see the silver lining.   

Saturday, June 28

And Then There Was Light

I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time. ~Emily Dickinson

Light is such a gift.  I was raised in the Arizona desert and as a small child my greatest joy was witnessing the sunrise.  In those times, Phoenix was a growing city.  John F. Long was building acres of affordable housing. Whole neighborhoods went up almost overnight, invading farmland and bare desert.  My family lived in the far western edge of one of them. Our house was in the last row facing west and in the morning, the hot sun rose up over distant eastern mountains and burned its way into a new day.

Rocky, the family dog, and I would sit in the cold on the back patio and watch the clouds transform from a muddy blue-grey mass into swirls of pink, gold, purple, and bright white.  Huge, white cloud-ships sailed the morning updrafts into an ever expanding blue sky.  The night was over and with this exquisite display, daytime began.

It seemed that the rising sun was like nature's alarm clock, waking whole flocks of hungry birds who greeted the dawn silence with their anxious calls.  Soon, dogs barked, kitchen doors opened and closed, gates slammed, and coffee steam perfumed the air with bustle and routine.  It was time to wake up the family.  It was time for everyone to welcome the daylight.

Monday, May 5

Come With Me

I Know A Place

A Special Place

Secret Hideout
"I want to show you my special hideout.  You can do it.  Come on.  Come with me."  Timmy encouraged me to go out into his neighborhood, into his nine-year-old world on his adventure.

I am his seldom-seen-Kathy, Jon's Mom.  The one who will explore the steep pathways through tangled brush and branches.  I am the one who loves to see his happy face as he explains where he keeps his water bottle and where his slingshot is wedged between two large rocks.

His space is small and we squat down to look at rocks, pebbles, branches, coins and broken jewelry in a box he has stashed behind the boulders.  He shows me his treasures explaining the extraordinary properties of each item.  He glances up at me and although I smile and seem interested, he senses that it's time to move on.

"What do you think of this?" he asks as he puts on his blue and red Spiderman mask even though it's ninety degrees in the shade.  "You won't tell anyone about my hideout.  Right?"  He accepts my reassurances and skampers up the hillside.

Many minutes later, after a few slips and slides, I join him on a shelf of rock just below the lip of the canyon and we watch a raven catch an updraft and disappear.  There are more hideouts he tells me, and maybe if I wear better shoes, not the flip flops I have on, I may be able to go with him and have even more fun.  It's time to climb out of the little canyon where he hides his treasures, where he can pretend to be the ever popular Spiderman or the superhero of the day.  I realize how wise he is to suggest I give up my flip flops and wear something more suited to exploring his neighborhood.  As we walk past the manicured laws and driveways, he tells me how he wishes he has more friends.  I smile and know he will have many.

Sunday, April 13

Sunday's Spring Wildflower Show

Poppies in the Breeze


House Finch
Apple Blossom

Larry the Lizard


“April's air stirs in 
Willow-leaves...a butterfly

Floats and balances” 

Wednesday, April 9

Mr. Lemning's Last Straw - Chapter 1

The Last Straw Saga
Chapter 1

I was escorted by Nurse into the whitest room I'd ever seen. The walls were white. The floor was white. Every piece of furniture, every machine, every plug, every cord and instrument was white. Nurse was dressed entirely in white, including the latex gloves needed for the examination before the procedure. I was the only color in the room. Even that faint blush was eliminated after stripping naked and shrugging into the thin, paper surgical gown.

“Lie face down on the examination table with your gown open in the front, please.” Nurse was very polite and as sterile as the room.

It was terrifying. I felt an animal fear of consequences. I felt a blood-red, dirty, clawing feeling with that now familiar claustrophobia endemic to modern American life. Nothing was private. No one was hidden. Every animalistic, error-prone, human action was exposed and trapped in the whiteness of security. I must be examined and made safe and productive for America. This is the overriding narrative in every news media event, every informed opinion, every conversation in every household.  I felt panic.

“Mr. Lemning, your chart shows that you received treatment here five years ago for a venereal disease. Why did you take so long to come in for this examination? It's been two years since Louisiana law was passed requiring all state residents to undergo today's procedure. The deadline has passed and if we are unable to administer the procedure on you today, you may have violated this law. It will then be our duty as medical providers to inform the state police and you might be jailed without trial. I say this now so that if you have been examined somewhere else since the VD laws were passed you can tell me and I'll verify that the procedure has been done already. You will then be free to go.” Nurse waited the appropriate thirty seconds for my response.

Hearing nothing from me, I was told to position myself on the table so that my penis hung down through a hole on the table. Beneath the opening was equipment that fit inside the hole and quickly scanned my shriveled flesh right up to my belly. While the scan was taking place, I felt a heavy, cold instrument penetrate my ass. Nurse explained that the law required that men have their anus and penis scanned for impotence, disease or unusual inflammation. Both scans took slightly longer than Nurse's explanation and were surprisingly humiliating. I felt violated. The last secret place was probed, scanned, penetrated. My final secrets were now recorded on my medical records, all of which were made public when the new VD laws were passed.

“Please remain as you are on the table until Doctor comes. It shouldn't be more than a few minutes before we have the scan results and can verify them with the state database.” I saw the Nurse push buttons, remove and reposition the scanners, strip off scan membranes and the latex gloves all of which were thrown into a white trash bin. Then I felt the slight weight of a sheet or paper across my buttocks.

“What is going to happen,” I wondered out loud.

Three years ago, the nation was rocked by a series of scandals involving people who had sterilization procedures so they could not have children. Over a hundred men and thirty-six women were arrested in Louisiana for choosing to be sterilized and violating anti-abortion laws. Within a year, my state became one of five states able to arrest and jail “non producers.” The governor had proposed that laws should be passed to protect the unborn citizens of America by making sure men and women were able to reproduce. The state legislature approved the bill and set up the Division of Reproductive Health with clinics all over the state. A blue state liberal blogger spread the lie that Louisiana has more DRH clinics for the unborn than it has clinics for living children. Even though liberals are deluded liars, I will look this up. Probably shouldn't use the censored state internet.  I think the Starbucks wifi network may still be uncensored but it's not free anymore.

“Where's the damned Doctor?” I'm cold, uncomfortable on this table and becoming claustrophobic from all of this whiteness.

I close my eyes and allow the redness within my eyelids to warm me. I block out the whiteness and cold and even think about dozing, but there's that scratchy feeling at the back of my brain that keeps me alert. I'm in danger. There is no doubt that delaying this exam was a mistake. There is no doubt that I should have moved out of state with my girlfriend two years ago when the laws went into effect.

She had her tubes tied after having her third kid. Her boy child.  She was married at the time. Married to a lawyer who worked for ShoppersChoice in Baton Rouge. The whole thing lasted only five years. She said all he wanted was a baby machine so when she tied her tubes, she didn't tell him and that was the end of the marriage. A couple more years of nasty legal battles over child custody, good parent/bad parent, property division and she winds up with her two daughters and he takes the boy child.

I met him once. The whole family was at his father's funeral which was very, very Southern Baptist. She and her daughters were treated like cancer, in my opinion. I didn't expect any kind of treatment and wasn't disappointed.  Her little boy barely knew her which broke her heart and made her daughters cry. Shortly after that horror show, Louisiana passed the centerpiece of its anti-abortion program, the Reproductive Health Guarantee bill. Within weeks, she fled the state with her daughters violating the divorce agreement and the RHG laws.

I didn't go with her and now I have no idea where she is but the DRH doesn't believe me. Her husband filed for custody of her daughters last year because she is a law breaker but she cannot be found. So lawyers, police, you name it, have tapped my phone, followed me, sent letters, harassed me for information about her. She was just my girlfriend. We broke up. I don't know where she is. Now, the state is trying to pass “truth serum” interrogation laws.  No doubt Louisiana will be the first in the nation to try it out and I know my name is at the top of their list.

“Sir? Please get dressed and come with me,” says a stocky man in a white coat.

“Are you the Doctor?” I ask.

“One of them, yes. Please get dressed and we'll discuss your treatment options in my office, please.” He's out the door before I can ask why or where. I'm just relieved that I can get off this table and get dressed. I feel the scratch again as I lever myself off the table and find my clothes. Soon I'm dressed and something tells me to check the hall before I barge out. There is a security guard looking bored at the end of the hall. He's listening to Nurse and glances toward my door. I step into the hall and head toward the waiting room.

“Sir! Sir? Please. Come this way. The Doctor is waiting. This is his office, sir.” The security officer is smiling, his hands are in the air not near his holster. He waves me toward him. I remember that there is an exit to the alley before the waiting room and I sprint toward that door. It has an alarm, but I don't hear it as I run to my car. I tell myself that if the Doctor really was just going to discuss treatment options, no one should follow. My eyes tell me the security guard is in the alley and I will get to my unlocked car in time to drive away.

This is the last straw. My job, my home, my family, my friends none of these things are more important to me than living free. I can't live in a place that owns my sperm. This thought jars me out of my panic and I realize that any entity that takes away your ability to choose whether you reproduce or not owns you body and soul. Someday I'll figure out why conservatives promote these laws. Today, I'm heading for California.

Friday, March 7

Today is Brief

Season of Rebirth

The Brightness of Springtime

We See Beauty - The Bee Sees Life

Another Spring
By Christina Georgina Rossetti

If I might see another Spring 
I'd not plant summer flowers and wait: 
I'd have my crocuses at once 
My leafless pink mezereons, 
My chill-veined snow-drops, choicer yet 
My white or azure violet, 
Leaf-nested primrose; anything 
To blow at once, not late. 

If I might see another Spring 
I'd listen to the daylight birds 
That build their nests and pair and sing, 
Nor wait for mateless nightingale; 
I'd listen to the lusty herds, 
The ewes with lambs as white as snow, 
I'd find out music in the hail 
And all the winds that blow. 

If I might see another Spring - 
Oh stinging comment on my past 
That all my past results in ‘if’ - 
If I might see another Spring 
I'd laugh today, today is brief 
I would not wait for anything: 
I'd use today that cannot last, 
Be glad today and sing. 

Wednesday, February 12

American Woman

Last year, my mother-in-law and I saw a very disturbing movie, "The Invisible War."  It told of continued, almost systematic sexual and emotional abuse of women in the military.  The stars of this documentary ranged from privates in the US Army to lieutenants in the Marines.  All of them love their country and joined the military out of this love and sense of duty.  All of these women were treated worse than dogs.  All of these people want to stop the rapes, stop the predatory behavior of senior officers, and change the injustice of a system that dismisses, diminishes and disrespects people.  We were sickened by the reported maulings, suffocated by the trapped feeling these people experienced,  and enraged by the jeering, smirking attitude of the superior officers in a chain of command that focuses on the chains and turned a blind eye to command.

My mother-in-law had been married to a lieutenant colonel in the Marines during World War II and recalls her husband complaining about training women to fly planes when he wanted to be in the war itself.  She recalled that George was upset with the burden of keeping the men away from the "chicken coop" and that he suspected that some of the chickens were sluts making some extra money on the side.  She said she didn't really think about how the women were viewed or treated back then.  It didn't seem odd to her that women might be troublesome in an all male environment.  She remembered that the commanders were bothered by having to protect them from unwanted sexual advances on top of training them for warfare.

That was almost seventy-five years ago, but the attitudes of men toward women in the military haven't changed that much as illustrated by one of the comments made on the YouTube video below:

"the majority of rape cases are women pulling the rape card. From personal experience 9 times out of 10 a rape claim is a lie to either 1. get out of the military. 2. jealousy or vindictiveness. or 3. play the system for extra benefits. I wouldn't worry about it too much. This is just another anti-man documentary made by some feminist who thinks gender equality means women have extra special rights above men b/c vaginas are awesome." - comment made  by AwesomeGameGuru in response to the documentary "The Invisible War."

This man's response to sexual assault against women goes back to the dark ages and possibly beyond.  It is a mentality fostered by anger and delusion.  Violence against women is not an issue for this person because he believes most women lie, manipulate, and cause problems for men who only want sexual gratification by using their awesome vagina.  In his opinion, feminazis like the documentary producers are distracting people from important issues by giving voices and faces to rape victims instead of shunning them like they did in the good old days.  To be fair, most of the comments and written commentary about this documentary express the majority opinion that such abuses are intolerable and must be abolished.

However, there are too many people like AGG who propagate the "women are sluts" myth based on their unfortunate "personal experiences" and not on facts.  It's too bad that AGG's personal experience did not extend to watching this documentary because he might then change his opinion.  He would know that rape in the U.S. Army is not anti-man - men get raped too.  It is not about manipulating for extra benefits either since the people who have filed complaints are still waiting for justice and compensation.  AGG missed the entire point of this expose.  Those in a position of power preyed on their subordinates.  The complainants were either ignored, further abused or forced out of their jobs.

Fortunately, more powerful and influential people did get the point of this documentary and in December 2013 the latest defense budget includes changes to the army's Uniform Code of Military Justice that will encourage prosecution of rapists in the military.  This is progress.

Even though today's statistics tell us that violence against women is prevalent  there has been a slight decline in rapes in the US over the years.  It's interesting to note that while forcible rapes in the US have declined slightly, rapes in the military have increased.  Without the "whistle blowers" who bring attention to this shameful problem, the American public would not know that our military needs immediate correction on this issue.  We might not realize that women and men who are in the military have a greater exposure to harm, not from the enemy, but from colleagues and superiors.  It's progress that this issue is seeing daylight, but we've got a long way to go to stop the abuses.  The latest legislation brings change to the UCMJ but to really solve the problem of sexual violence against women and men - thinking must change.  Our collective mind must take the focus off of twerking, thug culture, aggression as a first choice in solving problems, and embed respect for oneself and others into every aspect of our culture.

Friday, February 7

Something to Look At

Purple Penstamons

River Rock Cairn

Icy Pine

Tuesday, February 4

Song of the Sock Monkey

 Happy Monkeys

 Brain Candy

Pacifier of the People

"A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power." - Francis Underwood - House of Cards television series.

It's that time again, folks.  Time for republicans in the House of Representatives to masturbate away while America struggles.  Yes, it's time to leverage the debt ceiling of the USA!  The first thing that came to mind when I heard that they were again hitching up the anti-Obamacare wagon to the dept ceiling was the definition for insanity (or stupidity - take your pick):  insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  It's tired and it's lame.  Give it up and work on something else, fcs!

Republicans need to stop trying to make Obama look bad.  No one cares if the president looks good or bad at this point, not even the president.  Even though it must be so much fun to spend all day dreaming up the latest way to derail a bill or dig up a scandal, citizens expect public servants to do some work.  It's time to get something done on creating jobs, immigration programs, health issues, security issues, environmental issues.  The sockmonkey games these guys are playing only reinforce their frat boy, non serious image.  They can prank each other all day long while we pay their salaries and provide them with healthcare.  Their no-can-do attitude will be remembered when it comes time to vote them out of office.

Today's Update (2/5/14 @ 1:40pm MST):  House GOP Adandons Debt Limit Fight.  There are some repubs still willing to fall on their sword over this issue, but most are realizing the debt limit is a lose-lose situation and have moved on.  Playtime is over.