Welcome to my world...13 acres on the side of a mountain in north Georgia, which I share with my human, canine and feline family. I am surrounded by beauty and love of all kinds, but the roads I have traveled in this life have rarely been smooth. I know, though, that True Love travels on a gravel road, and Wisdom is borne from adversity. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote ~ When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. For most of my life I have tried to capture - in essay, poem, and photograph - the stars I've seen and the wisdom I've found. I share some of those crude attempts on this website; I hope you find a rough gem, or a not-too-distant star, somewhere in this collection. If not, you should check out that Emerson fellow. He may not be up to speed with the latest technology, but he's a damn good writer.
20 May 2016
ON HIATUS DUE TO ILLNESS
I hope to return to regular postings as my health allows. In the meantime, please follow me on
The world was aflame
The sky brushed crimson on indigo
The setting sun meeting the fingers of fire
Leaping from the grill on the deck
Guiding Him over the horizon
To another place where
Dawn would be breaking
And the world was dimly lit
The sky brushed pale gold on azure
The sun rising to meet the blood-warm fingers
Of another pair of lovers
On another day
"[S]omething is drastically wrong with what's going on in our United States right now. And when an individual is turned down to get into the military and then can be -- is able to go out and buy a .9-millimeter Glock pistol, and he had one of the -- or his clips were the extended clips that were limited to law enforcement only, and, you know, that -- or somebody has to put a stop to that."
~ Colonel Bill Badger
For those of you who, during the past week, have been living in a cave, or without power due to ice, snow, or a combination of both, Col. Badger is one of the heroes - along with Roger Salzgeber and Patricia Maisch - who subdued Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of killing six people and wounding 14 more at a political gathering in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011. Three days later, Col. Badger spoke with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Situation Room, and responded to one of Blitzer's questions with the above quotation.
I cannot say whether Col. Badger knew why Loughner was rejected by the Army. Military officials indicated it was due to a failed drug test, yet many media outlets - and even more bloggers - have speculated Loughner's mental health was the primary reason. Whether or not a positive drug test led to Loughner's failed attempt to enlist in the Army, it has been well established that he suffered from severe mental illness(es). Which brings the question of gun control to the forefront once again, most significantly this one: should an individual with a mental illness be allowed to legally purchase and own a gun?
This evening on ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer, David Wright interviewed Bob Templeton, organizer of the Cross Roads of the West Gun Shows which opens in Tucson this week, eerily reminding me of the equally tasteful decision made by the National Rifle Association's head honchos, including Überguntoter Charleton Heston, who refused to postpone or relocate their 1999 National Convention in Denver eleven days after the Columbine massacre occurred just miles away in Littleton, Colorado. Templeton, stepwise with the NRA party line, does not want any additional restrictions on gun ownership as it would "punish all gun owners."
I'm confused, nay, baffled: do Templeton and the NRA fear all current and/or potential gun owners may fail a test of mental competence? My goodness, no wonder they oppose nearly all forms of gun control. (In February 2000, the NRA gave thousands of dollars to Colorado state legislators in an effort to defeat Columbine-inspired gun control laws. Their efforts succeeded, and only a few NRA-backed laws passed, gestures such as a law allowing police officers to arrest individuals who buy guns for criminals or children, and the re-authorization of longstanding state background checks.)
Now, as I pull my tongue out of my cheek, I must make a very serious, not to mention private and somewhat embarrassing, admission: I suffer from a severe and potentially fatal mental illness and should never, ever be allowed to purchase a handgun. Yet, here in my home state of Georgia, I can.
In 1968, federal laws were passed in an effort to keep guns out of the hands of mentally "disturbed" (I love that euphemism) individuals. The law is terribly strict: a psychiatrist's diagnosis is not enough to support an individual is mentally ill; treatment must be court-ordered. However, some states have legislated tougher restrictions than the federal bans. In Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington, potential gun owners must waive all rights of privacy to their mental health records. In California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, buyers must obtain a gun license from law enforcement officials. (Those poor constituents of Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey are hit twice! I suppose they must eat NRA conventioneers for breakfast in those states.) But in the remaining 36 states, mentally ill individuals are subject only to the same, generally meager, gun control laws which exist for anyone else. Here in Georgia, in a mere 48 hours I can have my own .9 millimeter pistol - although personally, I'd probably choose a .22 revolver given the size and strength of my hands. And while no one in Georgia or any other state needs to worry about their own safety from me, my loved ones would surely need to worry about mine. You see, since the age of nine I have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), formerly known as clinical depression, and I have contemplated and/or attempted suicide more times than I could even hazard a guess. Most of the time, medication and therapy keep me safe and (relatively) sound; however, every so often they fail, and I fall down into the deepest, darkest well you can imagine, where I can see neither the sign of even a glimmer of distant light, nor any foothold with which I may climb my way out. These episodes usually last much longer than 48 hours, and unless I made a cry for help, no one could stop me from buying and receiving a handgun, taking it back to the apartment I share with no one but my dog and cat, putting it into my mouth and blowing the back of my brains onto my soft sofa with its red-and-gold silk pillows, the photographs of family on the table next to me, and these pretty gold walls.
But hey, at least I wouldn't inconvenience any other potential gun owner. Including the sociopath who used to come over to the apartment across the hall where his ex-girlfriend lived and beat the crap out of her. Hell, maybe he already owns guns; I haven't seen him since, a week after I moved into my apartment, she just disappeared in the middle of the night.
None of this is bullshit, none of it fabricated, elaborated, glorified, or gore-ified. It is the mean, hard, cold fucking truth, just like the deaths of all those high school kids in Colorado, the babies in Oklahoma City, and one beautiful little girl in Tuscon, Arizona, who had so much more to give to the world. Just like, I hope, I do.
If not, well...
"You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers."
Six days ago, and two days before the full moon, I wrote a silly poem which appears below this post. The first stanza of the poem makes reference to one of our cats - really, one of Susan's cats - who has been the only cat with the privilege of sleeping in our bed most every night. At the time I wrote the poem, Luna was having trouble eating or even drinking water, and we were trying different things to keep her hydrated. On the night of the full moon, she seemed better, and Susan and I were cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately, it did not last, and when Susan awoke yesterday morning, poor Luna was much, much worse, no longer able to use her hind legs and meowing in a very different way. She called our veterinarian who makes house calls and she came that afternoon, giving us time to hold Luna and tell her everything we needed to tell her, and just be with her. Carol came and sedated her; once sedation took affect, she administered the medication which sent her off.
Luna was 15-years-old and she had a very good life. She and her litter mates were born in the ruins of the old Cabbagetown Mill, several years before the famous fire. Luna's mother belonged to Susan's neighbor and, the night she was ready to birth her kittens, she managed to escape from the house. After a week or so, the mother cat returned to her home with (at least some of) her kittens, hiding them in the crawl space beneath the house. Susan's neighbor desperately attempted to trap the now feral kittens, but it was not an easy task. Finally, after five long weeks, the two remaining kittens - one sleek, handsome, solid black male and one tiny, gorgeous, calico female - were captured. Given they had never been exposed to humans for the entire five weeks of their lives, these two feral kittens wanted nothing to do with us now and had no problem letting everyone know it. The neighbor offered the kittens to Susan, and she jumped at the chance to care for them and bring them into the human world. Susan named the sable-coated kitten Annwn, an old Welsh word for the Underworld. She pondered over the female's name for a bit. She knew her name's meaning should incorporate "light" and "glowing," and contemplated Guinevere, Welsh for white and smooth. But then, the beautiful calico made it easier for Susan and simply told her what her name was: Luna, the Latin version of Selene, original Greek goddess of the moon: white, effervescent, exceptional. Once Susan named the kittens, she tended to raising them. She was patient, no matter how many scratches and hisses she received - and how little she saw of her two new charges during the first six months - but she never gave up and slowly coaxed them to come out from hiding, and then slowly to become accustomed to other humans, as well. When Susan came to live with me ten years ago, Luna and Annwn came along; Annwn, however, did not fare well in the suburbs. He ran off to explore and never came back, except in Spirit to let us know he was gone but at peace.
Luna, on the other hand, stayed with us through thick and thin. She put up with two pit bulls, three dachshunds, and four other cats. She learned the boundaries of our new land on this mountain very quickly when, right after we first moved in, she went on a walk-about and ended up in a compromising position on a branch high in a tree on our neighbor's land after her dogs chased Luna up said tree, and we had to pay a guy $100 to climb the tree, grab her and stuff her in a pillow case, and return her to safety! She never left our property without someone with her again. She didn't need to, for our land, our woods, our creek, and all the living creatures sharing the space with us was enough to keep this sweet kitty happy, as long as she was with Susan. And although she did like sleeping on my head, or my stomach or side or wherever she could fit, Luna was, from beginning to middle to end, Susan's cat.
Susan gave her the best life, and she gave her a very peaceful death. Her energy is still with us in the house, and Susan is making her cedar box in which we will place her in her bed, along with a few things she loved, and a few things which have meaning for us spiritually. The area Susan has chosen to place this cedar box, made with such loving hands, is beneath a red maple and next to a chestnut oak, so she will be shaded by Beauty, and guarded by Strength. She will always be at home, and yet she is free now:
Free from pain, free from all sufferings of the body, free from fear
She can run through the woods with the same speed and grace she had as a young cat
She can be one with the Earth and Wind, one with Water and Fire
She can play for as long as she wants to play
She can be here with us as long as she wants to be here...
And when she is ready, her beautiful Spirit can catch a Moonbeam
Spiral up, up, up, until she reaches the Summerland...where someday,
Susan will find her beautiful moon-kitty, her Luna, again
Three months into the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and BP announces they have placed a containment cap over the main well leak, which is finally controlling the major flow of oil, although minor leaks still exist. This is good news, of course, but in no way can it mask the damage that has already been done. Millions of gallons of oil are in the Gulf, much of it in deep water which, compared to shallow spills, causes even greater concern to scientists and environmentalists for a variety of reasons. One obvious reason is the difficulty required in removing oil from deep water. More troubling is how it may affect the marine ecosystem. This system works from the ground up, so to speak, each marine species living off the one which lives below it. If low-level food sources die off, that in turn affects mid-level sources, and so on. It would not only affect the Gulf waters, either. For one thing, the Gulf ecosystem reaches many other systems, like tiny fingers spreading far and wide. Furthermore, while it seems to be static right now, the oil spill could easily channel into the Atlantic at some future date. Once this occurs, it won't be long before the entire marine ecosystem is affected, at some point even crippled. This will, in turn, affect the rest of the environment, including the climate, health, and even the life of many species across the globe - including humans. Which is only fair, considering we are responsible for this mess.
During these past three months, I have watched the news and heard the stories, the wrenching details of people whose livelihoods vanished in an instant, whose beautiful shores turned brackish and thick. They had lived by and worked these waters all their lives, as had so many generations before them, as they had intended to pass down to their own children. Now, BP will not answer their calls or mail them their checks in a reasonable amount of time or, if they do send them a check, the amount is a pittance of their normal summer income.
Then I see the pictures of the Gulf wildlife drenched in oil, pelicans so coated you can hardly see their feathers, songbirds choking and dying before our eyes, dolphins washing ashore, dead on the dingy beach because they were unable to surface and breathe through the thick coat of oil spread for acres upon acres across their waters. And in the bayous skirting the southern coast of New Orleans, where Susan and I spent our honeymoon a decade ago, the oysters are nearly extinct and the luscious pink crabs are floating, belly up, in the poisoned waters.
Tears fall down my cheeks silently. I can't help it. I listen to the vitriol against BP and President Obama. I understand it, too, especially against BP the more I learn about how they have consciously and continuously chosen to cut costs over providing sensible safety measures, and against the past administration(s) and the agents within that administration who chose to deregulate the oil industry and, even further, allowed Big Oil to get away with murder simply by looking the other way. As for the current administration, I am not capable of determining whether eighteen months was enough time to fix such a behemoth of a mess, but certainly President Obama made some mistakes in the beginning of this current fiasco.
But none of that matters, really.
I was driving into town a couple of weeks ago and I stopped to fill my car with gasoline. Up to this point, I had been thinking about writing an essay about the oil crisis. As I was filling up my car, a 4-cylinder HondaAccord, I looked around me at the other customers and their vehicles. There were three extra-large SUVs, two king-cab pick-up trucks, two coupes similar to my car, one motorcycle, and one monstrous, diesel-fueled XL king-cab pick-up truck towing a sizable speedboat (which also required fuel, though presumably it would need to be purchased at the lake.) I got back into my car when I finished, put a CD in, and found the appropriate tune for my mood. A myriad of images of wildlife, birds and fish and mammals brutalized by our greed, flashed before my eyes; I squeezed them shut but the visions remained, and the tears rolled down with them. As I listened to Amy Ray croon, I knew where the blame lies for the giant mess in the Gulf. We can all point our fingers any which way we like, but the truth of the matter is we need to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves:
What do I want to leave to my descendants...
and what will be left for them if we continue with the status quo?
"All the fur and fin will lose again Cause our better is their worst reckonin' And our fine-feathered friends Will sing until they bleed And how will we replace that symphony? I've got the blackest boots, the whitest skin Satisfy my sugar tongue again "
For nearly an entire week, we have been without phone and Internet here in our remote locale - or, as our recent guests - my parents - would say, "The Boonies." This horrific condition ended yesterday, thankfully, before any irreparable harm was done. I didn't miss the telephone that much, but the lack of internet connectivity was very, very difficult. No e-mail, no Twitter, no Facebook - losing contact with friends and family and...whatever you call those people you Follow or Friend but have never met...was the first and most obvious loss. I didn't realize, however, how many other tools I use all the time and would miss. I couldn't Google any of the hundreds of (generally trivial) questions or contrivances which came to mind, or check the price or availability of some product I may want to buy at some undefined point from any one of the online sites I have bookmarked. Hell, I felt empty without seeing my happy little home page opening on Firefox. Oh dear, I'm tearing up now just thinking about it.
So, in this dreadful state, what is a girl and her various dogs and cats to do to fill the emptiness? The answer is obvious: watch television. Not just the shows we TiVo and always watch, but random nonsense such as MTV's Disaster Date and Parental Control, or VH1C's One Hit Wonders, and HGTV's Selling New York (I didn't even realize it was for sale!). And these are just the few I am not too ashamed to admit to watching. The situation was dire, my friends, it truly was.
Once again, Susan was my knight(ess)-in-shining-armor coming to my emotional rescue. She was not in the horrible shape I was since she was able to connect to the Internet at work. She was able to calm me down and assure me I could get through the withdrawal symptoms without resorting to picking up another addiction. And she was right; I didn't need the silly remote which operates the various machines required to watch television these days. But it truly sank in how dangerous it is to watch t.v. with such abandon when Susan showed me two photographs she had taken while I was in a zombie-like state, staring at some bright, shiny things on a home shopping channel. I was holding my darling little chiweenie, Sara Lee, and her eyes were also fixed on the screen, when Susan captured this picture:
I was shocked, as I am sure you can imagine. I had no idea I had such large, manly hands! Of course, Susan then pointed out that Sara Lee's eyes do not normally glow as if she had received a massive dose of radiation. I was so ashamed, knowing that I drifted off in front of the t.v. while my poor animals were forced to watch whatever was on. Ah, but again Susan was able to alleviate my guilt and fear. For it seems there are some benefits to having a very, very (one might say obese, if one wasn't in the same room with the subject) large - excuse me, I mean "big-boned" - cat. Orlando, the brown tabby in question, came to the rescue while I was catatonic. So to speak. Susan had taken this photograph, as well:
Yes, this cat saved me and all the other kitties and puppies in his harem, I mean house, simply by removing the remote from my large, manly hands (and on such a petite young woman, it must be ghastly to others), turning the various machines off, and returning to the comfort of his natural state...a nap.
So, dear readers, let this tale be a warning to you. Never trade your laptop for the t.v. remote control. Dogs and cats have absolutely no interest in computer screens. As for cats and keyboards, that's another story.
Among other things, I am an essayist, poet, photographer, philosopher, freelance writer and editor; très libéral and always ready to opine or debate on matières politiques; a natural-born witch whose pagan beliefs incorporate an amalgam of Native American Indian shamanism and eclectic Wicca; a slave to fashion, shoes, my wee cat Nubiti, and my "Chiweenie" Sara Lee - but not in that order; and a music enthusiast who loves to dance, sky-clad, at midnight beneath the fair moon.
Jesus, it's been nearly two years since I've edited this list. So I'd much rather spend your time, and certainly my time, reading/writing the posts themselves, not the inane lists I created years ago when I thought such trivialities were meaningful. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Not this time.
In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. - from The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy
I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. - Voltaire, attributed
The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins. - Oliver Wendell Holmes Many are destined to reason wrongly; others, not to reason at all; and others, to persecute those who do reason. - Voltaire