Friday, October 31, 2008

Hey, Christopher...

...don't forget to vote!! Or you could wake up Nov. 5th to this:

Don't let this happen. ;-)

Oh, and Happy Halloween everybody. I wanted to post something scary and I couldn't think of anything more frightening than being praised by Bill O'Reilly or George Bush.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween on the farm

This video may piss some people off, but the only thing that makes me mad about this is that I didn't think of it first. We have three sheep and while I adore them they are hopelessly stupid animals. This video makes me laugh till my sides hurt. I wonder if - once the mask was off - the other sheep were like, "Oh, geesh. It's only Gus!"


So I've been tagged by Christopher and now must submit seven facts about myself. Furthermore, I must "tag" and link to seven other blogs or else something horrible may happen to me. For instance, I could wake up to find I've turned into a Republican Baptist who prefers the Rush Limbaugh podcast to my morning Writer's Almanac fix. 

Normally I don't care for chain letter-style memes, but why take the risk when so much is at stake? So here goes.

1. I never had morning sickness when I was pregnant. But I if I sat down and really thought about the fact that I had another person growing inside of me I'd get so sick I'd throw up.

2. I'm fascinated by old graveyards and love to take pictures of tombstones. I blame my childhood for my obsession with Things Morbid; I grew up on a haunted farm.

3. I can mimic a Barred Owl call so well that I can get them to answer or even fly close to me in the wild.

4. I enjoy sewing and have made my own clothes in the past. I also love to knit and make little felt dolls.

5. I used to think I could be friends with anyone despite philosophical differences. I recently found out that's not true. Some differences just can't be overcome.

6. I believe in magic and the supernatural. I've seen proof of both.

7. I shattered my ankle over a year ago. It turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

So here are the seven bloggers I am "tagging":

Assorted Misgivings and Trepidations - Home of Bobb Citizen of the Earth. My daily online stress-reliever and Moment of Zen.

Sea Scribes - Grace is beautiful and brilliant. Her writing leaves me breathless.

Pagreenery - Musings, wordplay, rabbits and more! Oh, and Lu' is a really nice person, too.

Mouthing Off With Micky-T - If you can get past that scary bird, this is a wonderful little political blog.

Fluffiest Blog in the West - Shrub is an awesome guy. He doesn't update that often anymore so I don't know if he'll participate, but his blog is worth reading for his Testicle Tuesday archives alone.

Jana the Caring Cleaning Lady - So technically her blog is called "Get Off the Phone," but Jana the Caring Cleaning Lady is what I call her. Super sweet gal who just adopted a kitten that looks a lot like my new kitty!

Entropic Doom - Don't let the blue hair fool you. She's a hip young chick and a damn good writer!

Halloween fun

My sister Carla sent me this interesting variation of tic-tac-toe. Try it. It's pretty cool or at least it might be if I could ever finish it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The empty Valentino suit

Thanks to Jim for sending me this link to a wonderful commentary on the makeover of McCain's Vagina, which turned out to be so financially and politically costly. Take special note of how the blunder has so thoroughly backfired against their claims of Obama Elitism.

Sometimes hypocrisy can be a beautiful thing.

Also note the campaign's weak arguments in defending the makeover. And if you are tempted to feel sorry for the party or their candidate, just remember: they brought this whole thing on themselves. Try as they might, they couldn't put enough lipstick on this Political Pig to get the public to take her seriously.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain's black eye

When the story of an alleged attack on McCain campaign volunteer Ashley Todd broke in huge red letters on the Drudge Report, I was instantly suspicious.

Todd - did I mention she's a McCain volunteer? - claimed she was attacked by a 6'4" black man who beat her up before sitting on her chest and carving a "B" on her face to "teach her a lesson." Why? Because the big, mean black man saw her McCain bumper sticker and got mad.

But the photo, which the increasingly desperate Drudge probably posted one handed while gleefully masturbating with the other, made me instantly suspicious.

Todd - she's a McCain volunteer, by the way - sports a black eye in the photo, but not the bruising one would expect a punch in the face delivered by a guy as large and mentally unhinged as Bill O'Reilly.

And then there's that "B," which looks more like it was scratched than carved. And the position of the letter shows it was put there by someone too ignorant to realize if she's going to carve a "B" into her face doing it in the mirror it would show up backwards to anyone facing her.

I don't know what the "B" was supposed to stand for. It can't stand for McCain, although that's the guy she's volunteering for. Did I mention that? I suppose she meant it to stand for "Barack" or "Black." But we know it stands for "bitch." Too bad she forgot to put an "S" in front of it, since "SB" stands for Stupid Bitch.

The best part of this story is that McCain apparently researched this story as well as he researched is pick for VP. Because if he had, instead of calling his volunteer Ashley Todd and offering support, he would have called his opponent to apologize for running the kind of campaign that has attracted such racist white trash.

I'm going this weekend to volunteer for the Obama campaign. Perhaps to even this out I'll put on a Neiman Marcus suit, scratch the word "Unqualified" across my forehead and claim I was attacked by a Palin supporter.

To you McCain enthusiasts - take a good look at that picture. That's the face of what your campaign has become. Hope you're proud.

Here's something almost as funny as the McCain campaigns continued implosion:

For the absolute funniest take on this whole story, though, go read what Blognigger has to say.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blondes have more fun

I'm seriously in love with Lumos. He's such an awesome little horse and so pretty. I'm pleased with how well he's coming along. He's very smart, very willing to please. 

There's nothing like a few hours of riding to mellow me out and today I was ready for some Equestrian Therapy. Regular readers of my blog know I've had a rough couple of weeks what with my kitty dying. The new one I adopted came with a virus - not a serious one - but serious enough to set me back another $200 at the vet yesterday afternoon. By late today a nice ride had risen to the level of Necessity.

The last time I wrote about the horses was when Alex and I had the instructor out. We'd been working on our jumping and Alex's quarter pony, Oliver, had done much better than my Lumos. 

Lumos is a Haflinger. He's built like a tank and while he has the ability to jump he has yet to refine it, and it's a challenge getting into a two-point (the position riders get in when a horse jumps) because he's so short and stout. 

We both did much better today. Today he actually jumped. It wasn't consistent; he still plodded through several fences but if I cue him hard enough he tucks up pretty well. 

Like all green hunters, Lumos has a tendency to over-jump and will go over a two-foot fence like it's much bigger. Or he'll just barely jump them. Experience will solve both those problems. 

Oliver did that today, too, even though he was trained as a hunter and knows better. I love Alex's pony but he can be a little shit when he wants to be. He did the same thing today that he did when the instructor was here; even though he can jump he plowed through them with Alex several times because he thought he could get away with it.

So today - again - I got on him and made him do the course. He jumped this one so ridiculously big that he looks like he's rearing. It didn't help that Alex's stirrups were about four inches too short so whenever he came down I felt like I was going to get pitched off. 

Eventually, though, he did like he was supposed to do. So next time he has no excuse to act like a complete jackass. 

I ended the ride with a sense of accomplishment. Small gains, after all, are better than no gains at all. And for me any ride that doesn't end with me falling on my ass is a good one.

It's supposed to rain this weekend. Again. So our plans to ride Saturday will probably be scuttled. Hopefully it will be drive by Sunday. Alex and I are trying to vary our routine so next time we're not going to jump. Instead we're going to play some games that should be fun for both us and our ponies.

On a final note, you may notice that one of us isn't wearing her helmet. That would be the dumb one. Really, you should always, always, always wear a helmet when you ride. I usually do. Usually.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fashionably hypocritical

Do you remember a week or so back when McCain's Vagina waltzed into an Ohio Wal-Mart under the pretense of buying some diapers for her baby-prop, Trapdoor or Pygmallion or whatever the hell his name is*?

Remember how some conservatives gushed that this proved that she was an average, everyday mom because she got off the Straight Talk Express to buy store-brand? The implication was that name-brand nappies were too extravagant to catch the poops of a baby whose mom was so frugal as Alaskan governor that she fired her chef and put her her plane on eBay.

"She's a regular person," McCain has insisted. But this morning the news is telling a different story.

Apparently, Palin's clothing and personal stylist have set the GOP back a cool $150,000. That's right. One hundred fifty followed by three zeros. I know a lot of truly average people who'd like to have that kind of money; if they did I bet they wouldn't spend it on over-priced make-up and clothes, either. I know I wouldn't. That's enough to pay for a year of insurance coverage, buy a modest house or fund two years at a state college for two students.

I was genuinely surprised to see a female anchor on MSNBC defend Palin this morning. "It cost a lot of money for a woman in the public eye to look good!" she protested.

It's a good thing the kids weren't awake, because I was up and out of my chair when I heard that.

"Not that much, you stupid bitch!" I yelled, gesticulating at the television as I did. And then I cursed some more when I realized I'd managed to spill my coffee while attempting to flip off some news anchor who couldn't even see me.

The anchor pointed out that Obama's suits aren't cheap and on that point I agree. But I bet it hasn't cost that much. And the McCain campaign is showing its true colors by selling Palin as an average hockey mom while spending more on five weeks worth of clothes than most working mothers make in a year.

If Palin was able to turn down a plane and a chef because they were too extravagant, why has she suddenly become unable to turn down nearly $4,7000 of hair and make-up services - nearly $1,000 each week of the campaign - on the grounds that it was excessive? The MSNBC anchor complained that its the handlers fault. They're making her do this. So why not go all Super-Maverick on them and Just Say No? If Palin can't stand up to her campaign handlers, how is she going to stand up to Congress?

The McCain campaign is in a snit over the criticism. They contend that they were going to donate the clothes to a charity after the campaign, but it seems to me that given the depreciation of their purchases, a wiser route would have been for Palin to put that GOP money where her mouth is, pick up something from Wal-Mart or Target and donate what the campaign handlers wanted to spend to a children's charity.

Is this how a fiscal watchdog behaves? Or is this pitbull with lipstick only satisfied with lipstick that's part of an over-priced makeover? If her past record is any indication, the answer is 'yes.' As mayor of Wasilla, she spent $50,000 in unauthorized city funds to redecorate her office.

Of course, there's an upside to all of this. For me. With each passing day, a little more information comes out that raises Palin's negatives and broadens Obama's lead in the polls. McCain deserves a defeat for hanging this bimbo-shaped millstone around his wrinkled neck. Maybe he should let her keep the clothes. I'm all for Palin getting some lovely parting gifts so long as we never have to see her again.

*I refer to the baby as a prop because many of us still doubt it's hers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More mouth-breathers for McCain

Watch this video, and the next time some wing-nut tells you that he or she likes Palin because Palin is an average person, remember that this is their idea of an average person.

Why? Because with the GOP, Stupid has become the new Black. And I don't mean black as a skin color, because the only thing that scares a conservative Republican more than a black person is a black person with a book. No, I mean 'black' as in fashionable.

McCain's Vagina has made knuckle-dragging vogue. Thanks to Palin, it's not only considered elitist for someone to be schooled in constitutional law, but to be schooled at all. It's equally elitist to speak proper English, reject the notion that humans once had pet dinosaurs or believe anything other than what Fox News tells you to.

 When did Willful Ignorance become the new litmus test for GOP leadership? And don't say, "Since Bush," because this crowd makes W. look like a Rhodes Scholar.

Seriously, people. This is some scary White Trash. 

Monday, October 20, 2008


I’m over the top, impossible, unfocused and erratic
I’m silly, childish, dirty-minded and overly dramatic

And I know you think I never listen to a goddamned thing you say
But that’s not true. I really do. I just do not obey.

And I’ve got this knack for disappearing and going off somewhere
inside my head while I’m still sitting right here in this chair.

Or sometimes I really leave and walk off in the woods
for hours. And I wish you’d hush, for it does me worlds of good.

It helps me focus and reflect on what you hate in me
when I’m off by myself like that, in my own company

And I have found when I’m alone that I like myself just fine
so just because I don’t list your faults the way that you list mine
does not mean they are absent because, lover, they are there.
It’s just that petty criticisms aren’t what I care to share.

So back off, man, time is short. The years have no respect.
We can fight if you want, but I’d just as soon have sex.


Onward, Christian cheerleader

If this doesn't scare you, you aren't paying attention.

For my eldest

My oldest daughter Jessica is a first year elementary school teacher. She works in a rural, underfunded district a couple of counties away from her home. She loves her job, loves her students and calls me every afternoon during her one-hour commute to tell me about her day.

These conversations sometimes make me angry. They sometimes make me sad. But they always make me proud. We're homeschoolers, and Jessica began her academic life at our kitchen table learning to read from stories I wrote about the adventures of her doll, Cupcake. She was four then. 
I loved homeschooling, and we still homeschool her two younger siblings. 

But I could not do what she does. I couldn't teach the masses. I know I couldn't. I couldn't deal with the bureaucracy or the politics of teaching with her aplomb. I couldn't face parents I knew to be abusiv
e or neglectful without asking, "Now tell me again why it was you chose to breed?" I couldn't stare into the eyes of some of my students, knowing that I was probably the only person in their lives who even gave a damn, without breaking down. 

Jessica does this day after day. And despite the hardships and aggravations of her job,  she truly loves it. 

"Do what you love." That's what I've told all my kids. And she is.

So when I was looking for another audiobook to put on my iPod and came across this poem by educator/poet Taylor Mali I had to share it with Jessica. And with you. It's a wonderful message that should be heard by anyone who judges a teacher - or any other person's worth - by their paycheck.

Mali isn't just inspirational; he's damn funny, too. I came across this clip on proofreading vs. Spell Check over the weekend and couldn't stop laughing. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

International Dispute

Hans, who hails from France, apparently thinks I'm being condescending.

His issue is with me is that I referred to a Palin supporter as "trash." Let me put this in context. This week I posted a video of a Palin rally, where a Palin supporter said she didn't support Obama because he thought white people were trash.

"I don't like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash," she said. "We're not trash."

I disagreed. She sounds just like every other white trash person I know who trash-talks Obama with statements so obviously rooted in prejudice. And I said so. If it smells like a piece of white trash and rolls like white trash then it's white trash.

Hans thought that was mean. He said I had no business calling anyone trash.

This sparked an exchange between us, during which I chalked his confusion up to cultural differences. Unless you've been around white trash, then don't be so quick to take things out of context, I told him.

His response sought to prove that he did, indeed, understand:

ook here: the mentality you describe exists anywhere, in any ethnos. Including parts of France. What I do not agree with is describing people as trash because of it.

I've had people, whom otherwise I would had trusted on grounds of religious sympathy, distrust me, whether it is because I am from a Protestant country, or because I speak fluent English and can converse with English speaking tourists, or because I fled my country, or because I live on the streets and beg rather than work hard with my fists and arms. I am "frog lover" as that lady would probably call me, but the "frogs" distrust me because I am also "ami des rosbîf" (yup, Frenchies call English roastbeefs=rednecks), and because my folksong repertoir is more anglophone than francophone. I can sing (or could before the colds strained my voice) things like Waltzing Matilda or In Dublin's Fair City or Scotland the Brave: but if I cannot sing either Brel or Brassens, I do not count as a real street singer around here. Especially since I do not play the guitar.

I am a composer, but since this has so far not landed me with success or money, some people will just give me no credit for it.

Wow, I thought. Good point. And then he went and ruined it by going all French Fundamentalist on me:

God decides ultimately who is trash and goes to Gehenna. Yup, the Hebrew word for hell also is the name of the refuse heap outside Jerusalem. Which is reason enough, knowing as we do NOT beforehand who goes there, not to describe people who are alive like that.


Well, here's my response to that:

Hans, you're quite welcome to come here on my blog and disagree with me. But again you simply do not understand.

There is a term used called "white trash" to describe ignorant people who remain uneducated by choice. They're generally a hateful lot, and the only way to elevate themselves is to look down on those they believe God created as Lesser Beings, i.e., the blacks, Muslims or even other Christians who don't hold their narrow interpretation of the Bible.

It's an expression, Hans.

But even so, I find it sadly ironic that you express indignation over an expression while admitting belief in a God you say will one day throw nonbelievers into some burn pile. And for what, Hans? For rejecting Him? For being of a faith other than Christianity? For being born into circumstances so brutal that they were never able to muster belief that there was some Benevolent Watcher who loved them or cared one whit about their lives?

For the life of me I can't understand why you are upset that I refer to someone as trash when you admit to worshipping a being who has deemed a large part of humanity disposable.

What would you call those people got cast into your Gehenna, Hans? They were born as innocent as you, but somewhere between innocence and death they lost their way. Would you call them trash? No? Your God does.

And if you really, truly believe that - and it's baffling that an intelligent person would - then you're condoning an injustice that goes far beyond some perceived verbal insult.

What's the French word for "irony?"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Charmed, I'm sure...

Who says kids can't give good advice? When Alex suggested I keep one of the kittens we've been fostering to ease the pain of losing Jingles, I initially refused to consider it. But when I couldn't face the thought of an empty pillow on my first catless night, I went and fetched the little black kitten that had mysteriously appeared in our ditch just three days before Jingles died.

Right away she settled into Jingles' familiar spot on my pillow, and when I awoke that first night and felt the stab of pain that comes with remembering something Terrible that happened before you went to sleep, the kitty purred in my ear and kneaded my hair with her tiny claws. Jingles used to make cat biscuits on me, too. The new kitty even seems to have a sense of humor. This morning I missed her and after some looking found her asleep in the terra cotta pumpkin I use for a doorstop.

Alex's friend Hannah was sad to hear of Jingles' death. When Alex told her over the phone, Hannah asked to speak to me. 

"I'm so sorry," Hannah said in the voice kids use when they feel the need to sound more formal and grown up. Then she grew quiet. "Did she leave a will?"

If you know our family, and the personalities and voices we give our pets then that wouldn't seem like an odd question. It turns out that Jingles did leave a will, and it will be formally read this week to friends and family who knew her. So far I only know of two things she bequeathed: she left the litter spoon and the can opener to me. And she left me to the new cat. 

I promise to try to be as good a human to this kitty as I was to Jingles, who always knew how to take such good care of me, her most prized possession. It's a good feeling to know that while this new cat will never completely replace the one I lost, that I will nonetheless be able to love again.

Update: I'd be remiss if I didn't share this very touching poem authored and sent to me by Christopher. I can't read it without getting choked up and think it is really a fitting tribute to Jingles, who really was one of those cats that probably comes along once in a lifetime. When I close my eyes, I can still feel her in my arms and know I will always remember. Even if I can no longer hold her in my arms, I will forever hold her in my heart.

Animals will do what they do.
It's just the way they're made, you see,
Like that grizzled old cat who
Slept on your face and ate brie.
His last meow meant, "Remember me."
Animals will do what they do.
It's just the way they're made, you see.

1993 - 2008

Election homestretch humor

Finally, the last of the debates is over. I think it was a good one - the best one yet. But even so I didn't really hear anything new from either man. McCain tried to distill everyone down to one person - a man named Joe the Plumber who wants to buy his own business - when Americans and their problems are much more diverse than that. Obama understood that and showed confidence and competence on a wider range of issues, which kept McCain plumbing the plumber line when he wasn't trying to tie Obama to Bill Ayers.

Unless something dramatic happens, it's curtains for McCain. He'll lose to the man who was too gracious last night to address Palin's staggering lack of qualifications should McCain become president and then die in office.

But that doesn't mean the rest of us can't continue to enjoy the low brow humor she seems to spawn at every turn. Check this awesome site out for the one of the funniest Palin parodies I've seen yet. Just scroll over the screen for hidden goodies. Scroll over everything, or else you might miss something.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sometimes it's best to step aside and let conservatives be conservatives

Really, do I need to add anything? Except to the woman who said she wasn't trash. Uh, sorry, but yes you are.

The really scary thing is that these mouth-breathers represent much of what lives in my community amid the forest of McCain-Palin signs. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Death of my cat

Jingles just last month, in her favorite place - my lap.

I don’t think there’s any way you can really prepare yourself for the passing of a loved one. When the loved one is a cat, folks may say things like, “She had a good life. She was one of the lucky ones.” They mean well and they’re usually right. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

Last night was the first night in years that my cat Jingles didn’t sleep on my pillow. That’s been her preferred spot since I brought her home twelve years ago as an injured stray. Even in those early days when she was thumping around the house in her purple cast, she managed to hop up on my bed then and curl up on my pillow as if to say, “This is My Spot. And you are mine.”

Larry had told me I could keep her until she was healed, but I think we both knew she wasn’t going anywhere.

I woke up about 2 a.m. this morning to find Jingles missing from Her Spot. I groped around for her and then got up to look for her. I finally found her in the bathroom cabinet. Sometimes she goes in there to get away from things, and normally I just haul her out. I don’t know why I didn’t this time. It was as if she were putting out “leave me be” vibes. So I did.

When the alarm clock went off at about 5:30 Larry got up as usual. About three minutes later, just as I was about to doze back off I heard a horrible cry. Alex came running in obvious panic.

 “Mom, I hear an animal crying! What is it?” 

We thought something was attacking the goats; that’s how loud it was. Then I realized it was coming from Alex’s room, from under her desk.

I found Jingles in a full seizure and I knew right away she was dying. My sister’s cat, Ivan, died of a stroke several years ago and what I saw was a lot like she described.

I cried out and picked Jingles up. She was cold and drooling. Her pupils were fixed and dilated. I kept telling her I was there, that I wouldn’t let her die alone. Alex started crying and Larry came running in.

I took Jingles into the living room and sat down on the couch. She cried out and seized a few more times, and while I’m not a religious person I summoned whatever connection I have with the Divine and communicated just one thought: "Don't let her suffer. I can accept that she has to leave, but I can't accept seeing her hurt like this."

And then, just like that, she kind of relaxed.

“I’m going to take her to our chair,” I said, referring to the recliner where I start each day working on my laptop. Jingles always sits in my lap when I do. Recently, after she jumped on my keyboard, got her claw hung under the “B” key and pulled it off (I still need to get that fixed) I learned to type with the cat in my lap and the Mac balanced on the arm of the chair. Jingles was all about being accommodated.

She had a purr like a motorboat, and this morning that was all that was missing. She didn’t look like a dying cat. She just looked like she was sleeping. After a few minutes the labored breathing slowed to become deep sighs. I think she knew we were there, all of us, because by this time – one by one – our other cats came in to sit at different points around the room as if paying respect to their friend.

And then she died.

It was about six o’clock, and shortly afterwards Lucas came in. He cried and cried when we told him, and came over to give Jingles a few posthumous “dot-to-dot rubs” (what he calls head-to-tail strokes) as Alex scratched her around the ears and above her little bob tail. Jingles especially liked those "butt scratches." The base of her spine was her sweet spot, and she’d throw back her head in ecstasy when we did that.

We spent some time comforting each other; it was especially hard for Lucas. He’s never known life without Jingles, and this was his first experience with Death.

We talked for a bit about what to do with the body. Jingles was still on my lap, looking – and still feeling – like she was just asleep. Larry offered to have her cremated and I considered that - having Jingles forever interred in a little cat urn on my shelf.  But I'm frugal, and ultimately decided that I preferred to bury her in the flower bed by the front door, beside the Lady Banks Rose.

I told Larry I’d just hold her while he dug the grave. While he did, the kids made farewell cards for Jingles. Alex drew three little portraits of Jingles and Lucas drew one. His rendering gave Jingles a long, giraffe-like neck. I don’t now how she would have felt about that one. We tucked the cards between her paws.

Alex offered to take a few pictures. She's turning into quite the little historian. Like me, she feels that everything needs to be documented, even the sad stuff.

"You can delete them later if you don't want them," she said. But I never will. Jingles death, like her life, is now part of our family's tapestry.

Last time going to sleep in my lap.

Farewell cards. Farewell, cat.

My 18-year-old son, John, is blessedly not here today. He’s autistic and Jingles is one of the living  things in his life that he truly loves. I don’t look forward to telling him that she’s gone. I don’t really know how I’m going to do it, in fact. There’s more to think about when a cat dies than you realize.
John and Jingles on Sunday, two days before she died. John, who is autistic, adored Jingles. 

Years ago I heard Garrison Keillor recite a poem called “In Memory of our Cat, Ralph,” in which he recounted the passing of his own beloved feline friend. The line I remember most was something about “that warm weight missing from our laps.” As I sat there holding my recently departed kitty, the dread of burying her grew exponentially with each passing moment. Because once she was off my lap I’d never feel that sensation again. Only cat people understand that every cat feels different, and Jingles felt the best of all. Her fur was warm and dense, and she purred so deeply that she practically vibrated. Sometimes I swear she'd purr so hard her whiskers would shake. And more often than not when I looked down at her she’d be staring at me through half-opened lids, her blue eyes telegraphing the message, “This is nice.”

And it was. It was so nice.

Larry came back in before I was ready, but even if he’d spent the day digging no time would have really been right for what I now had to do.

“OK,” he said and I stood, cradling Jinges with those homemade cards still stuck between her paws. My legs felt shaky and my stomach hurt from grief as I walked outside.

Alex had lined the grave with a piece of pink netting that she'd found. The dark of the soil was visible through the netting, and when I laid Jingles down the light parts of her fur looked so bright against the darkness of the hole. For a moment I wanted to pick her up, to hold her just one more time. But I didn’t. I'd had my goodbye, had been able to hold her and comfort her as she slipped away. She'd given me that, and I was grateful.

So I knelt, crying, and scattered soil over her body until I couldn’t see her any more. Larry finished filling the grave, tears running down his face as he finished burying the cat he’d joked would never die.

I won’t go into all the other things I’ll miss about Jingles. We give our pets voices and personalities and Jingles talked to us – or through us – so much that it’s going to be hard to get out of character. Or to get the character of her out of us. Last year I even made her an ordained minister.

It’s almost nine o’clock now, Jingles has been dead a full three hours and I’m sitting here watching this litter of farm cats we took in rip around the living room. There are four of them, and last week we added a fifth kitten someone had dumped in our ditch – a coal black kitty we dubbed Pookah. Today is the day I’ll put them all on Craigslist so they’ll get a chance to become beloved pets, to hopefully bring someone the joy that Jingles gave me.

“You could keep one,” Alex suggested this morning when I was asking myself out loud what the hell I was going to do now that Jingles was gone. “You could find the one that likes to sit in your lap and keep that one.”

If it could only be that simple, but cats are like people. They just can’t be replaced and I’m quite sure I’ll never find another one like Jingles. But that’s OK. Having just one Jingles in my life was probably more than I deserved anyway.

So now, with an empty lap and a heavy heart, I move ahead. Because that’s really all I can do.

Update: It's occurred to me that this may be my Most Depressing Post Ever. My beloved Andrea has informed me that it made her cry, which was not my intention. I'm sure the Dead Kitty pictures didn't help. So for balance here are some awesome pictures from when Jingles was alive and doing what she did best - terrifying Frodo the Dachshund and then Making Nice with him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

For Andrea... response to her post pondering why someone would let Obama hold their babies.

Yeah, he looks old enough to send to Iraq!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Slogans to stick with

Election Day may be less than a month away, but it's still not too late for you to support your candidate with a bumper stickers. The Landover Baptist store has some awesome ones, and I've selected a few to show you here. 

Now, I know that you McCain-Palin supporters are probably too busy preparing for the rapture to shop for bumper stickers, which is why I went ahead and selected some that I think will appeal to you, the true GOP base:

Sometimes, when Sarah Palin is winking at the camera and I get the feeling that the wink was just for me, or when McCain says, "My friend," and I believe that that's just for me, too, I fancy switching sides. If I do, then I'm considering these bumper stickers.

No matter which candidate you support, this one is one-size-fits-all.

And finally, I like this one so much that I almost which McCain had picked Romney just so I could put it on my car:

But then I see McCain's poll numbers and think, "No, actually I'm glad he picked Sarah." 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pot, meet kettle

Hmmm. If Sarah Palin loves America so darn much then why do she and her husband support a group that can't wait to get the hell out of it?

Maybe Todd thinks that if Alaskans secede, they'll make Sarah their queen. Then he can be king and they can name their next baby Prince Moosekill Beyond-the-Palin.

Oh, irony, thy name is McCain's Vagina.

Spanking New Blog

Today I'm announcing a new blog.

It won't supplant this one; the Token Hippie isn't going anywhere. No, this one is quite different. It's an erotic blog entitled Naughty Bits and will feature short, erotic stories, select soft-core photos and artwork book reviews and even some literary challenges from time to time.

I just put up my first post called "Cherry." No, it's probably not what you think. But with me things rarely are.

Oh, and to those of you scandalized by the photo? That's an orchid. Damn you and our dirty mind.

For perfectly understandable reasons, it will be by invitation only. So if you want to become a reader just email me at and ask.

For understandable reasons, I'm going to make it by invitation only, so if you want to become a reader, you'll have to email me and ask. Just drop me a line at

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Horsing Around, Part IV

Our instructor Stephanie came to us today for our first lessons on Lumos and Oliver. When your instructor tells you that you've bought a Good Horse you know you chose well. Lumos was on his best behavior today. We did walk, trot canter and Stephanie was impressed not only with his willingness but the fact that he also knows his leads. 

Lumos' former owner had him jumping small cavalettis, but it's been awhile. Today Stephanie had me try taking him some ground poles and cross rails. If you're wondering why there are no pictures, it's because they were all embarrassing. We think Lumos has the potential to do some jumping, but as far as he's concerned if barreling through the jumps gets you to the other side as effectively as jumping, why leave the ground?

I finally did get him to do a short course, but it was kind of sloppy. He's much more graceful at the trot and canter. I really think he'd make a better dressage horse, but we're going to work on a little jumping as well, just to see how he does. 

Alex's pony Oliver is a hunter and has shown competitively. He can jump, but his problem is that he is lazy. Today he plodded along and plowed through jumps to the point that Alex was close to tears. When I decided I couldn't stand it anymore, I put her up on Lumos, hopped on Oliver and made him do the course. After he'd jumped two fences like he was supposed to, I put Alex back on him and he did this for her:

Oliver is a sweetheart; you couldn't ask for a nicer pony with better ground manners. But he's a pony and will get away with what you let him. Stephanie thinks I should ride him at the beginning of each lesson to send the message that he has to work by the time Alex gets on him.

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain. Ugh. Hopefully it'll be out of here by the weekend and we can do a bit more flatwork with the boys. In the meantime, they're getting a well-deserved break. They both did well this week, and we're pleased.

Hippie vs. Cowboy

Over at Digital Cowboy’s place, he’s taken me to task for a comment I made about Obama. I mean, he’s really taken me to task. In fact, he’s all but gone McCain on me, not that I mind.

Digital Cowboy is a nice guy. I like him. But he’s really typical of the conservatives I deal with on a daily basis. So I’ve posted his assertions below along with my responses for those of you who may be interested.

Cowboy Assertion #1: The media is “fixing this election” for Obama.

Is Fox news included in there? Before Palin even made the ridiculous point that living next door to Russia gave her foreign policy experience, Steve Doocy said it. If she’s taking her talking points from that clown then that is Reason 4,560 not to vote for her.
Fox has done everything to prop McCain up besides roll out a walker for him to hold onto.

And Fox needs to get off the “We’re-Not-The-Mainstream-Media” line. How can they crow about record viewership and then claim not to be mainstream? Pffft.
There’s plenty of bias out there, but it cuts both ways.

Cowboy Assertion #2: Obama is unqualified to be president and is only where he is because he’s only good at public speaking...

…and yet Palin, while being more unqualified to be president, is where she is despite the fact that she can hardly speak at all. Wow. Jesus must really love her.

Cowboy Assertion #3: Obama is not American.

I assume you’ve fallen for the line that being Truly American means being a cheerleader for every blundering, heavy-handed, meddlesome foray we’ve made into the affairs of other nations. If that’s what it takes to be an American, then I’m not American, either.

Over and over the McCain-Palin crowd say, “They hate us because we’re free.” No they don’t. They hate us because we don’t know enough to keep our nose out of everyone else’s business.

And as far as being un-American, if Obama is, then he should go out drinking with Todd Palin. I mean, we need to get those two together. Todd was affiliated with the Alaskan Independence Party, which favored the state’s secession from the union. I’m not sure how you square loving America with wanting to get the fuck out of it. 

Who knows, maybe Todd though that if Alaska broke away they’d make his wife queen. And then he could be king. And their next kid could be called Prince Moosekill Beyond The Palin or something like that.

Cowboy Assertion #4: Obama loves abortion and it’s the only thing he’s ever taken a stand for.

Ahem. Um. I love it when you guys do this because I don’t see conservatives as pro-life so much as “pro-birth.” Conservatives love to see babies born. They love it so much that conservatives like Palin oppose sex-ed being taught in schools, although she did favor firearms courses being taught. So while they can learn how to handle the urge to hunt, they remain ignorant about how to handle the urge to hump. The result: Bristol Palin.

McCain favored insurance companies covering Viagra but not birth control for women. Nope, no inconsistencies there.
Obama has said numerous times that he wants to see the number of abortions go down. That doesn’t sound like a man who wants to bathe in the blood of dead babies. But the only way to reduce the abortion rate is for there to be fewer unplanned pregnancies.

I have to wonder too, if you pro-birthers love babies so much then why do most of you favor reductions in programs that provide prenantal care and medical care for young families that can’t afford it? Obama favors both. McCain wants to give each infant born a tiny pair of bootstraps to pull itself up by. 

Cowboy Assertion #5: Barack Obama has no experience, while Sarah Palin has actually done, uh, stuff.

OK, I admit it. When it comes to playing the flute and working as a sportscaster, my homey Barack got nothing on your peep Sarah.
Let’s see if I can find any other contrasts. Here’s one: before spending eight years in his state’s senate before being voted into the US sentate, Obama practiced civil rights law. That probably required him to have some awareness of the constitution, which Palin probably doesn’t include in her “vast” list of reading materials. I kind of get the impression that she might be the type who thinks her interpretation of God’s law supercedes man’s. I prefer my presidents not to think that way when it comes to running the U.S.

Obama also happened to work as a community organizer, which I personally applaud. Somehow, Palin’s work on the PTA is seen as more significant, although I can’t see how.

Cowboy Assertion #6: Sarah Palin is a setback for women the way Reagan was a setback for actors.

Are you serious? Really? If Reagan championed policies most actors found damaging or regressive to actor’s rights and was so ill-spoken, clichéd and dim that other actors cringed at having him represent them, then I could buy your argument. But even conservative women in the GOP like National Review columnist Kathleen Parker have suggested that Palin is a disaster. When McCain had real choices like Christie Todd-Whitman or Meg Whitman, for him to choose someone like Palin is puzzling at best and disturbing at worst.

Cowboy Assertion #7: McCain was in the military, so he must love his country more.

So was Jack Murtha, and I’ve seen that man called everything but the anti-Christ for opposing the war.

 The truth is, Cowboy, both McCain and Obama love their country. No one runs for president and puts themselves through what the race entails unless they do. But Obama loves this country enough to realize that the middle class is being left in the dust by these corporate robber barons and that our intrusive, heavy-handed, inflexible foreign policy decisions have brought trouble to our door.

McCain is old guard. People are tired of that, and that is why Obama will win the election. 
If he does, we’ll see whether the people who claim to love this country will love it enough to get behind him. If something happens and McCain wins, despite my threats to move to Canada, I’ll get behind him and will stay behind him unless he fucks up W-style.

I don’t think you can really love your country and want the president who takes over to fail, especially in time of crisis.

Do you?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Initial post-debate impressions

I want to get John McCain a bowl of soup. I want to tell him that it's going to be OK as I get him settled into his chair and carefully tuck the napkin into his shirt collar.

I want to tell him that there's no need to be so angry and confused, that no one probably even noticed when he forgot that guy's name who asked him that question about the economy, appeared to forget the question itself and then misidentified the job description of Gen. David Patraeus, who is not the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I want to tell him that his opponent, you know - That One - probably won't really see any benefit from keeping his cool, addressing his questioners succinctly while remembering their names and admitting that he doesn't understand why the fuck we invaded a country that didn't attack us on 9/11.

I want to lift a spoonful of warm pea soup to McCain's trembling lips, look into his confused eyes and tell him that soon, very soon, this whole nasty election will be a think of the past. Oh yes it will. And then he and that woman he chose as a running mate - the one whose name he also apparently forgot tonight -can go back home. And then he can finally have a nap.

So that was my initial impression and all I can say on it. Because I must rest up for my next challenge tomorrow, which will be to answer this post from Digital Cowboy who, while a perfectly nice guy, has made it obvious in the third comment of said post that he has never had sex with a woman who rides horses.

How to call a campaign office

Cheery Volunteer:
Good afternoon, Elizabeth Dole Campaign Headquarters.

Me: Hello. I'm an independent voter and I'm calling to verify whether a flyer I received today was endorsed by Mrs. Dole's campaign.

Cheery Volunteer: OK

Me: It says "Godless American pac wants to remove 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance and now they want Kay Hagan in the U.S. Senate. Does the Dole campaign support the message of that flyer? 

Cheery Volunteer: Yes, it does.

Me: Wow! What a relief! Because I just want you to know that this flyer has helped me make up my mind as an independent voter.

Cheery Volunteer: Really? Thats great!

Me: Yes, because I could never vote for any candidate who would send this kind of nonsensical crap to voters. This is swill. It's fear-mongering swill, and shows the mentality of a candidate and political party that would rather exploit religious differences than address the issues that voters really care about, like this tanking economy. So I'm voting for Kay Hagan.

Cheery Volunteer: What? Uh...I mean...Can I?

Me: No. There's really nothing you can do, unless you want to advise your candidate to stop letting fringe elements run her campaign. It's a real turn-off to us independents. Everybody loves to say "God Bless America," but it's been said God helps those who help themselves. If Senator Dole wants to do something truly righteous, maybe she could start with doing her job because it sure looks like she and her colleagues have been asleep at the switch. Thanks for your time, and have a good day.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Horsing Around, Part III

The cool thing about having a blog without a defined agenda is that I can write whatever suits me. One day that might be an analysis of our current political situation, the next it might be something about one of my personal interests. Guess which one you get today?

So last month our awesome new neighbor, who knew I was looking for a roomier place to board my horses, offered to let me use her acreage. She moved down here from California last year and has six fenced acres but no horses. She loves horses - loves to look at them, photograph them, pet them. But she doesn't want the hassle of owning one and thought it would be perfect if I put mine at her place.

Naturally I jumped at her offer and today agreed it's a win-win for both of us. She has three separate fenced paddocks and since the first of September we've been mowing and repairing fences as we started moving the ponies over. We put the geldings in the three acre pasture and they love it. We haven't moved the small mares over yet; there's a lot more involved in moving horses to new pasture than just throwing them on it. When the mares are finally moved, they'll be in the middle pasture, which is about an acre. The slightly larger front paddock we use for riding. It has enough room for groundwork and jumping.

All the work of moving our horses has left us little time to ride them. Most of what you've seen here have been pictures and videos of us on our instructor's lesson horses. If it seems odd that we have spent more time riding someone else's horses than our own, it's only because it is. I've felt especially bad that we haven't been exercising Oliver, Alex's pony, although the up side is that the experience she's gained at riding school has really prepared him to handle him. 

I saw today how the lessons have helped. Alex is so confident now, and wasn't even flustered when Oliver got balky or decided he'd rather go to the gate than work.

Alex discovered that when sufficiently motivated, he has a wonderful canter. He'd actually rather canter than trot, and Alex and I both agreed after riding him that he's got the most comfortable canter of any horse either of us have ridden. 

I was so proud of Alex's riding ability, and think that her little brother Lucas could easily ride Oliver when and if he ever develops an interest in riding. Oliver is a very laid back little horse.

After we finished exercising Oliver, I took him back to the pasture he shares with Lucas' impish Shetland pony, Rob Roy, and my new horse. 

Which reminds me: It's occurred to me that I forgot to give everyone my Big News. Remember my neighbor's beautiful Haflinger pony - the one I had fallen so in love with? I bought him from her last month! He's fabulous, and is as sweet as he is beautiful. I named him "Lumos Maxiums." Lumos, for short.

It was late today when we went out to exercise Oliver, so I didn't plan on having time to ride both horses.  But when I took Oliver back to the round pen to cool down, Lumos watched me take the bridle off and stood there as if to say, "Can I wear it?" 

He stood perfectly when I walked over and I slipped it on. Since he was bridled I thought, "Why not?" and hopped up for a bareback ride. 

Haflingers are stocky little horses, and are built kind of like sofas. I could have ridden Lumos all day, but by that time it was getting late so I hopped off. 

We're going riding again tomorrow. I can't wait!!

We love our lesson horses, but have decided than now that everything is in order (almost) at the new farm where our ponies are staying that we'd rather have the instructor come out here and give us lessons on our own horses. 

The "boys" are so willing that we have high hopes for all the things we have planned for them. We'd love to take one or both to the November show. It may be a bit ambitious, but you never know. Either way, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Go see this movie

Normally I don't post in the wee hours of the morning, but Larry and I just got back from meeting some friends in Raleigh and I could not turn in without recommending the documentary we went to see.

It's called Religulous, and if you are a thinking person who sometimes finds yourself puzzled over the crazy, outrageous or dangerous stuff religious people think and do, then do yourself a favor -  find the nearest theatre showing this film and go. Today.

Given the nature of Religulous, most people who want to see it will already agree with its premise, which is that religion is a kooky and can even be damaging. But it's not the non-choir this documentary needs to preach to. Believers really need to go see this movie. So when you go, try to take along one of your fundamentalist friends.

 Now, be advised that this fundamentalist friend will initially balk, tell you that Bill Maher is evil and say that they refuse to support his work. If they do, offer to buy their ticket. If they still refuse, call them a pussy - or better yet, a gay pussy - and taunt them until they agree to go.  I guarantee that once in the theater, even they will end up laughing at some point, no matter how far that God-stick is shoved up their ass. 

This move was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Some have accused Bill Maher of poking fun at religion, but the beauty of this movie is that it's the very religious people who hand him the stick. The statements made by the Believers themselves are their undoing; all Maher does is ask the questions - both of his interview subjects and of the audience. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Scientology - few religions are spared.

It's hard to say which part was my favorite, but I think it may have been the interview with the ex-gay Christian who tried to convince Bill Maher that he wasn't born that way.

There are a lot of atheists out there who take themselves way too seriously and who engage religious people - especially Christians - in long-winded, arrogance-fueled debates about the existence of God. Those people are on a fool's errand. Condescend to religious people, tell them they are stupid and that God isn't real and they'll only roll up like some righteous armadillo. 

The existence of God isn't really so much the issue, anyway. There's no way to prove or disprove the existence of God. The real issue is the existence of the mindset that invented religion, the mindset that fuels it and keeps it going. Bill Maher does a masterful job at exposing that mindset for what it is, and asking the questions that will spark healthy doubt in anyone who isn't afraid to consider them.

If you're not religious, Religulous will simply reinforce what you already believe. If you are, it may make you think. And even if you don't agree, by thinking then you've at least you will have taken a step in the right direction.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Doggone it to heck, she did it

Palin survived the debate. And because she didn't fall off the stage or set her hair on fire, she's even being declared the winner in some quarters. Over at FOX News they are already summoning a flight of angels to carry her to a golden throne at the right hand of Jesus, where she and that old guy she's running with - his name escapes me at the moment - will rule for 10,000 years. Verily.

Serioulsy, though, McCain's Vagina did not flub the debate. Instead, using a blend of folksiness and cliches, she managed to sound reasonably coherent. Her handlers did the right thing by having her take the offense; they knew Biden had too much class to give her a smack-down, given that he's against Violence to Women and all. 

The result: Palin came across as Tough, even if it was the Cutesy Variety of Tough. After the debate, MSNBC's Newsweek contributer Howard Fineman likened Palin's performance to "a wolverine attacking the pant leg of a passerby."

For those who are voting based on nothing more than a Tingly Conservative Feeling, McCain's Vagina rewarded them with spasms of pure Neanderthal pleasure. After a disheartening week, they finally have their mojo back. Yeah, baby!

But for those of us looking for more information on Palin's policy positions, well, I'm afraid we're going to need more than her showing us what a Maverick she is by refusing to answer questions. 

I'd like to see more interviews, although I can understand why McCain's Vagina is reluctant to give them. Journalists like to pin politicians to the mat and press for answers. It's not so easy to wink and grin your way out of an interview.

And I never though I'd do this, but I am going say that I understand why Palin may refuse to sit down with another journalist. This morning, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough passionately - and fairly - observed that the disastrous CBS interview was leaked out in dribs and drabs over the last week, leaving the impression that Palin was repeatedly screwing up when it was really just in one interview. Now, granted, the interview was still telling; Palin came across as completely unfit for the job she's been tapped to do, but releasing portions of the interview like that in run-up to the debate was kind of dirty pool when you think about it.

Scarborough said every Republican since Ike has been painted as a buffoon. Ford was a klutz, Reagan was nothing but an idiot actor, Quayle was stupid, Bush was a moron. He said the media is doing the same thing with Palin. He doesn't think it's fair.

And it may not be fair, which is why we need to all cut through the media spin on both sides and really listen to these people. If you did that last night, you didn't see anything impressive from Palin, unless you're impressed by a woman who can wink and talk at the same time.

And poor Biden. Despite the fact that he responded to every question with facts and made his points and rebutted hers, this morning the nation is sitting around celebrating the mediocrity of the candidate who really did neither.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Halloween prep time!

My totally cool new friend Christopher got me very excited yesterday when he put up a marvelous post about Halloween.  I love Halloween. Just love it. Celebrating the darker aspects of life and,  yes, even Death, is exciting. It makes us a little less afraid of the unknown, and reminds us to appreciate being on this side of the grave. For now.

Dressing up? Well, that's just icing on the cake. I'm always on the lookout for the Perfect Halloween Outfit, so in January (yes, January) when I found this awesome dress I instantly thought, "Vampire Wedding Party." I mean, it's perfect - black, clingy and it cinches down the front. How cool is that? Larry took this shot of me today out back, modeling said dress.

And yes, my lovelies, that is a real cauldron to the right. It's my cauldron. So there. 

The Vampire Wedding Party will likely be a family dress-up event, with Larry as my groom, my older sons as groomsmen, my daughters as zombie bridesmaids and darling Lucas as a ghoulish ringbearer. The ring he carries will still be attached to a severed finger. 

So after shooting me in the dress, Larry thought it might be cool to get a few shots of me with one of our spider friends before they die of exposure. The temperatures are dropping into the forties here tonight and our lovely tropical Nephila probably won't survive the chill. I found one right away, and thinks she went quite nicely with my tattoo!

Spiders are so cool. I love them, and will miss ours when they die off this year. For those of you who may have missed the video Larry shot of our collecting expedition earlier this summer, here it is:

I caught the spiders at my friend April's house. This Halloween I'll be spending lots of time at April's. We're putting together a Haunted Trail through her woods for Halloween and are going All Out.

Yes, there is so much ghoulishness to look forward to. Speaking of which, the VP debate is about to begin. I hope that Palin continues to exceed my expectations as she has done all wee. Because if she does McCain will go down in flames. That would be sweet, because a McCain-Palin administration? Now that is scary.

Anyway, I'll have plenty to say tomorrow about the debate, not matter how McCain's Vagina performs.