Tuesday, November 22, 2016


As I watched her slide off the brass elephant, I recognized in her something of myself. Which of our parents gave us this propensity to be amused at ourselves even while looking a little foolish?

I'm pretty sure that trait came from my father, who was known to be silly in his time.

Growing up as a child, I remember both of my parents loved learning. My dad was always reading a newspaper, Reader's Digest, or National Geographic. My mom kept the library busy, still does today. She brought me to the library so regularly and read so much, that it had a profound influence not only on me, but on my girls as I passed it on to them. Even today, my mom asks more questions than the  homeschoolers on when she goes with us on field trips, something I'm proud about.  Neither had the opportunity to be college educated. In fact, my father received his high school diploma honorarium in his 80s as he had dropped out to support his widowed mother. Both, however, instilled a love of learning in their children.  

It is strange, however, to see yourself reflected in another human being. Sometimes, it is also neat to see humanity reflected in a creature society doesn't always consider self-aware.

Diane shows photos to my favorite gorilla, "Jelani". She and her girls
enjoyed learning that he likes to look, in particular, at photos of baby gorillas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Winter Predictions

Putting the horses in the barn of an evening is both a luxury and a chore. They'd probably do just fine outside all night. A giant moon looms, but I hear coyotes closer every day. My miniature horse, Chyron, is a spitfire and could drop kick one coyote, but it sounds like a dozen. I imagine a pack of them attacking the minis in their paddock. My Arabian spooks as I lead her in. A deer is likely in the dark field, waiting her turn to drain my water tank for the horses. It is emptied much quicker than one horse can drink.

In the barn, near the hay pile, I see something black. Holy moly! I've never seen a wooly worm that large! It's all black. I don't know about you, but I can never remember if more brown means bad winter, or more black bands mean I'm going to be in long, cold misery. So, I did what any modern person would do: I Googled it.


After living here over twenty-one years, I'm still amazed to find creatures and things that I didn't even know existed and live with us on our property. Not a wooly worm at all, it is the caterpillar of a giant leopard moth, identified in part by its size and the red bands when it is curled up. I wish I had scooped it up right then, but I finished my horse chores and when I'd looked again, it was gone! Likely, it is wintering in my hay pile and we shall meet again.

Note: I read from this website that they are good! They eat invasive honeysuckle.
Unanswered question: will it be a cold winter? We have so little rain, we have a burn ban in place. I'm thinking the rain will come in the form of snow.

Reading: Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson

Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Privilege is Showing

It was only after I reached my car that I began to realize the mistake I'd made. I'd left the store feeling pretty good about myself. Spontaneously, I'd helped someone out of a tight spot just to help her have a better day. And yet, I'd missed the real opportunity. My whiteness was showing.

Waiting third in line at Walmart, of course I was in the line where there was a payment problem. I needed to get back to pick up my son from his class. I have a talent for picking the wrong lines. I watched. The cashier left to speak to a manager, waving the woman's card. They debated on what to do, both shrugging their shoulders. The older black woman looked defeated. Impulsively, I stepped around the woman between us and asked for the total on her bill. $50. I asked the woman to please let me pay, I could do that. "Merry Christmas early!" I said. "I want you to have a good day going forward and I'm happy to do this."

Still with her head down, fumbling with her wallet, she thanked me sincerely, and said she had not had a good day up to that point. I nodded, smiled, stuck my credit card in my pocket and retreated back to my place in line. It had actually had made me a bit nervous to act, but also felt exhilarating.

Then, back at car, I realized my mistake. I'd played the rescuer with my easy money, made myself feel good, and had missed the golden opportunity. What had happened to that woman that day? Why hadn't I taken just a moment more to truly connect instead of sweeping in with my money, a temporary fix. Although I was determined to never tell anyone what I'd done (thinking the deed was made better by keeping it secret), I write now about it to contemplate how I, with the ease of my money, thought to make a woman happy for a moment, not really understanding what it is like to be her. Perhaps I shamed her, me with my credit card that worked. Perhaps, though she really needed the financial help, she needed someone to "see" her more.

I can't do much about the hatred and bullying that has crawled from the shadows, but I can fight it with my own awareness. Next time, I'll ask, "What is wrong?"

Friday, November 11, 2016

For Carl

Just before World War I, a young boy-man felt so negative about the direction his country was taking, that he left Germany for the United States. He enlisted in the army, becoming a naturalized citizen. As the war progressed, he was sent overseas to fight his brothers who were across the fields in the German army. Ultimately, he died from having served, mustard gas and cigarettes causing lung cancer.

My dad remembered only a few things about his own father who died when he was an adolescent. He remembered collecting scrap metal with him to help the family scrape by in the Depression. He only recently, during his last illness, shared his anger that his father didn't chance an operation to remove half his lungs, prolonging his life, and giving my own dad, his young boy, more time with him. He remembered that his dad said "zink" when he meant "sink".

Tidbits would shape my image of my grandfather over the years, but there wasn't much. I knew he came from a small German town named Fritzlar. I knew he joined an uncle here and that he had other family, perhaps in Baltimore. I never knew, however, why he came to the United States. 

During my dad's last illness is when my dad told me that my grandfather did not like the direction his natal country was taking. That puzzle piece strengthened me. I had often wondered how my German relatives lived through that dark German period without doing anything. What were they doing as their neighbors were dragged off? My ancestor, my grandfather, sacrificed his life to fight against wrongdoing. 

We have as a nation said that a person that has personally perpetrated evil on other people, has espoused hate, revenge, and discord, can still succeed, can be lifted up to the highest position in the land. The end justifies the means. I must explain to my son that when it comes to "no means no", it doesn't apply if you are famous or the president. I am worried for my friends who have become targets of this monster. 

Like my grandfather before me, I will fight back. I will not be the one silently watching as my neighbors are treated with hate and injustice. I will not stand silent. I console myself with the fact that there is a record: Facebook. Those that stood with a man that epitomizes hate will be easily identified. When history is read, our descendants not have to search for a few words on a death bed to know if you stood with evil to justify your own agenda. It will be there for all to see. That is, if there is a world for humans. Emails got 100 minutes in the debates, climate change got none. 

*At present, I am taking a break from Facebook. You may comment there, but please excuse me for not responding as I won't see it for some time.


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