Thursday, December 01, 2011


Yesterday started out as a quiet day in the office.  More people were missing than present.  We've all worked here so damn long that about half the folks have trouble getting all their vacation time used before the end of the year.  There is a mad scramble to get in some extra days off before they get swept off the books.

Personally, I've never had that problem.  Which is why I was one of only two officers in the office. Mindy was the other.  It was her first day back after a freakin' 6 day Thanksgiving break.  As if there were that many leftovers that had to be dealt with!

When the clock struck eight, she was already down in the waiting room, herding people, one at a time, down the hall to her office.  The first guy sequestered with her was prepared to kill himself in a quietly self-effacing fashion in the rather immediate future.  The quiet ones are generally the ones you really have to worry about.  It didn't take long for Mindy to recognize how serious he was about achieving that particular goal. 

She called the mental health agency where the guy already had a caseworker.  They referred her to the crisis team and said the team would high tail it over to our office as soon as they could get out the door and navigate the seven blocks between there and here.  The State, she was informed, prefers that they handle crises, with expediency on site, rather than burdening the sufferer with making a trip to their office.  

Mindy called the crisis team, fully expecting the Mental Health Hero on duty to hit the big button that flashed the Nut Signal across the morning sky.  This would assemble the team for swift transport to our building, bringing with them assessment tools, passive restraint techniques and a plethora of pleasant voices. 

Instead she got Seth.  Seth yawned a couple of times, stretched in his desk chair and asked if the guy couldn't just walk on over to their office so they could deal with him there. 


In the middle of that crisis, the boss knocked on her door and asked her if she could get in touch with another of her people - Brian.  Interestingly enough, Brian happened to be sitting in the waiting room.  He does that every morning because he is unemployed.  If you are able-bodied and not completely addle-brained, yet insist on a life of leisure rather than more gainful pursuits, we make you come and visit us each morning - teeth brushed, hair combed and pajamas at least tucked underneath sweat clothes, if not removed altogether and replaced with more employment-appropriate clothing.  Then you set out for a day of job hunting. 

Brian was here to show Mindy his list of applications from the previous day, before being sent out to complete more.  Brian doesn't want to work. 

According to the boss, he'd received an anonymous call stating that 20-year-old Brian had perhaps misrepresented the truth regarding his current living arrangements.  When he told Mindy he lived at home with his parents, what he meant was he lived at his girlfriend's home, with his girlfriend's parents.   His fourteen-year-old girlfriend. 


Mindy hissed his name at the waiting room door and marched him back into her office.  His response to her questioning was "I don't know what you're so upset about.  Her mother doesn't mind."  That was not the smartest thing he'd ever said.  Especially since his neck was decorated with more than a few hickies. 

While we're on the subject, do you know about these

Immediately after booting Brian out the door with a laundry list of life changes he'd be making in the next 24 hours, Mindy called the cops.  She reported that her defendant was bedding a fourteen-year-old girl in her own home.  Nightly. 

The cops said, and I quote, "Eeew."

When Mindy told them the mother had condoned the situation, they said, "The mother may not have a problem with it, but the State of Texas sure does."  The said they were starting an investigation and were here within 15 minutes to take Mindy's statement. 

Child Protective Services also took a dim view of the state of affairs.  Since the police are more than happy to charge Brian with statutory rape, they will be investigating the mother on a possible charge of negligent parenting. 

All of this happened before 9:15 in the morning.

She took a break around 10:00 to catch her breath and snarf some popcorn.  After a few minutes, I heard a peal of somewhat maniacal laughter, then my instant messenger beeped.  It was Mindy.  She said:

"My horoscope today says 'your interest in your fellow humans is piqued today.'"

"Piqued with a baseball bat!" I replied.


Still no news from the Lazy Seth the Crises Manager.  We're hoping that's good news. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Six Places - Just Spaces, Few Faces

This week's prompt:  6 Places.  My six places are

all Dairy Queen.

1.  The Dairy Queen in Lockney.  It's the only restaurant open on Sundays.  If we plan on eating out after church on Sunday, we have to go home and collapse on the couch for a couple of hours first.  You can't wade through the blue-hairs to get a table until nearly 2:00 o'clock.  They have blizzards and WiFi.   They have the world's most polarific air conditioning system.  There are huge vents along the top of the wall.  The icy air they spew falls heavily on the chattering diners below.  Even when it's 134 thousand degrees outside, my knees knock the whole time I'm choking down my chicken strips and tator tots.  I don't yet know what happens in the winter.  Is the heater just as boisterously over-effective?  I'll soon find out. 

If it weren't for the frigidity, I'd hang out there, drinking cherry-limes and drawing pictures.

2.  The Dairy Queen in Post.  You are probably not aware of this, but this little fast-food joint in that wobbly little West Texas town is the epicenter of the six degrees which separate us all.  Everyone you've ever known will eventually have to stop there to use the bathroom.  It's one of those places - plunked down in the middle of nowhere on a back road that is the only way to get to some places from other places.  Everyone stops there.  Eventually.

If I were going to write the great American novel, I'd do it sitting in a booth in this Dairy Queen.  One great story after another walks in the door, heads for the ladies room then orders some tacos.  It's got this accidental, unintentional apocalyptic feel to it that makes you think you're missing something.  Something like the end of the world.  In Technicolor.  

3.  The Dairy Queen in Plainview.  This DQ was home to the Blizzard Boy.  Blizzard Boy was our secret nemesis long ago and far away when we were young and could eat a cup of ice cream blended with Butterfinger bars on a pretty much daily basis without the dire consequences to our waist lines and cholesterol levels.  He never got the order right or screwed up when trying to make change, or sometimes he just looked at us funny.

We toted the ice cream back to the office and sat around the conference table in the grand ballroom, dissing the Blizzard Boy and solving the county's problems.  It was like a drawly, cowboy-booted version of the Algonquin Round Table.  With soft serve instead of vodka. 

4.  The Dairy Queen in Brownfield.  Brownfield was the closest town to the country church where I lived in the early 1980's.  It was, to no one's surprise, dry and dusty and hot.  It was dead then and it's deader now.  At that church at the crossroads in the middle of Earth's armpit, the sand dunes piled high on the west side of the building and my brother and I tied towels around our necks for capes so we could jump off the roof of the sanctuary to practice flying.  And landing.  On our butts, mostly. 

It was at this crossroads church that I learned to appreciate open flame and weeping willows.  I learned to drive a tractor.  I developed what would become a lifelong distaste for lantanas and a morbid fascination with premillennialist baptistry paintings.  It was also a dark and destructive place that taught me to be spiteful towards family churches and suspicious of people who kept those religious malignancies alive.

My parents worked at that church because it was there.  We'd moved back to Texas from Montana so my dad could care for his ailing father after his mother died.  The church was a paycheck.  It seemed like a god-send at first. But in the end, it wasn't.

On Sunday nights after a day full of all that my parents could stomach, we would escape to the Dairy Queen in Brownfield.  A thirty-mile drive, one way, for nachos.  It was pretty much the only place open then.  It was a quiet place on Sunday nights.  And a little bit dark.

I still love nachos.

5.  The Ha-ta-ho in Roby.  Roby was too small to have a Dairy Queen.  I spent my high school years in Roby.  There were two restaurants in town - the Silver Spur Cafe and the Ha-ta-ho drive in.  They sat across from each other, separated by a rod-straight stretch of highway.  Local lore told that the burger joint was opened by a farmer who wanted to get out of the field.  He hated-to-hoe.


If you were inclined, you could skip the Ha-ta-ho and come on down the road to the City Grocery and Deli where I worked.  I would make you a chicken fried steak sandwich or a bbq sandwich. (Your choice of chopped or sliced.  Take my advice - go with the chopped.)  It was good enough food, but we didn't have fries.  Or fountain drinks.  Or chairs. 

I can't remember if the Ha-ta-ho had nachos.  They did have really good cokes, though. 

6.  The Dairy Queen in ?  I don't know where I'm going from here, but I'm going somewhere.  I bet wherever it is, they have a Dairy Queen.  It might surprise you to know, but I don't even really like Dairy Queen.  I hate soft-serve and only tolerate blizzards if they have something crunchy in them.  The burgers are ok and The Dude is pretty good.  The fries suck. 

I do like the nachos, though.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just for grins, because I don’t really know what this is.


Tonight I made the holy pilgrimage and left home

At twilight.

At sunset.

At the end of the day.

I walked down the street, through the bad part of town

At twilight.

At sunset.

At the end of the day.

A three-legged pit bull dog barked at me.  Only once.

At twilight.

At. sunset.

At the end of the day.

And I learned that those two lime green trailers really do glow

At twilight.

At sunset.

At the end of the day. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

7 wants

This week’s prompt?  Not getting any easier.  I really don’t know why these are so difficult.  Perhaps I really just need to sit down in a quiet place with pen and paper and work this out.  Hmm… That reminds me of something I want, so, without further ado: 

A.  I want to write.  With pen.  On paper.  I love the feel of a good pen flowing across the paper.  I love handwriting.  Drawing words is an almost Zen-like experience, as long as I’m writing something I want to write. I miss it.  Last week, while visiting Lois, I mentioned this.  She told me there have been studies done showing that handwriting uses a different part of your brain than keyboarding.  You write differently, on both a physiological level and otherwise, when you use pen and paper.  It’s a good change to make if you’re fighting writer’s block. 

I totally should have written this post on paper first.

B.  I want letters to make a comeback.  I know they won’t and I’ll be the first to admit that the convenience of email probably more than makes up for what we miss with written letters.  But still.  I love to write them.  Send me your address, if you want (Facebook message) and I’ll send you a letter!

C.  I want my nose to stop itching.  And they haven’t even started ginning cotton yet!  I used to live across the road from a corn field.  I’m terribly allergic to corn, especially when it puts on tassels right before harvest.  Not for that reason, we moved.  Now I live two blocks from a cotton gin, one of my other major allergies. 

Have I mentioned that I plan to retire to Seattle?

D.  I want Robert Downey Jr. to hurry the hell up with his next project.  Know what it is?  He is producing and staring in a Perry Mason movie.  I also am all geeked about seeing Johnny Depp do Dark Shadows.  And I want both of those franchises to use the theme music their TV versions used.  Perfect songs, both.  (I miss answering machines.  My answering machine message used to be accompanied by the Dark Shadows theme.  It was the best damn message ever – had a people call me just to listen sometimes.  Voice mail leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to creativity.)

E.  I want to get better at portrait photography.  I sort of enjoy it.  Sort of.  Most of the time, when I take pictures for fun, I don’t include people.  Not on purpose, but I’ve just always avoided people pictures.  But I think my taste might be changing…

F.  I want that sheriff’s deputy to quit staring at the stuff in my office.  I’m tired of trying to explain things to him. 

G.  I want to read a good comic book.  Read a good one and an incredible one last week.  The good one:  The Preacher #7.  It had all the elements of a good comic – expressive art, great colors, kick-ass story, tons of violence and more than a bit of gratuitous sex and gore.  (Yes, it really is about a preacher.  From west Texas.  Somewhat defrocked.)   The great one was Persepolis.  It was exquisite.  Lois had it and I sat down one night and read the whole thing (graphic novel) in about 2 hours.  I learned all kinds of things.  The art was simple on the surface, rich beneath.  The story was incredible – about a young girl in Iran during the fall of the Shaw.  She’d be about my age, I guess.  The writing was simple, but like the art, deceptively so.  Hell, the damn thing made me get all teary-eyed. 

Just go read it for your own damn self. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

8 Fears


I don’t fear the reaper, but I do fear that y’all will sing precious memories at my funeral.

Life is a highway, but I fear the lack of two-way traffic

I think we should come together, right now, but I fear that someone will bring pea salad.

There’s a bad moon rising, but I fear the scorching sun will make it all moot.

I love a rainy night, but I fear the swirling water.

Only women bleed, but I fear men are more often killed by falling pianos. 

I am Iron Man, but I fear that I will rust without some fresh oil.

I walk the line, but I fear tripping over the curved stones.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Ain't Cat Food

This week’s prompt is Nine Loves.  This was much easier than last week’s Ten Secrets.  So, without further ado –



1.  Drawing with ink.  It’s forgivably unforgivable.  It stretches my ability and makes me think.  I still love pencil and eraser and I do my best work in that medium, but drawing in ink has made me a better artist.  Ink forces me to incorporate my mistakes into the bigger picture.  With pencil I can just pretend the mistakes never happened. 

2.  Music without lyrics.   Especially while driving.  I do all my best writing while driving and listening sans words.  I could write the great American novel if I went out and got a job as a cross-country truck driver.

3.  Pork skins.  Especially the hot ones.  

4.  Scarves.  Well, love is a strong word, but I’m developing a definite like for them. 

5.  The fact that Britney Spear’s name is an anagram of Presbyterians. 

6.  My preacher’s kids.  As I sat in church one day and I observed one of my minister’s two teenage daughters do something very small and very nice for someone else.  She didn’t know anyone was watching.  It confirmed what I had suspected.  They are good, good kids.  I stalked them from two pews back and on Facebook as well as observing them from my couch as they stalked my house from the alley.  Then I did something – a tiny little experiment in being spooky, for lack of a better term.  They responded exactly as I would have when I was there age.  They are little Spookies in the making, I think!  I really, really, really like them. 

7.  Boots and peacock feathers.  Not necessarily together.  Not necessarily apart.  And that peacock green/blue color?  Love that too. 

8.  Fedoras.  I need some new ones.  I haven’t worn them in a long time, but I think I might start again.  I blame that Maria Bello ad for her new Prime Suspect show.  I might even take the one down from my office wall, dust it off and slap it up on my head. 

9.  Fiber.  I’m sucking down the nasty stuff twice a day, just like grandma used to do.  Donated blood last week and, according to the vampire’s testing, my cholesterol level has dropped to 195.  Fiber is slightly icky, but it beats the hell out of taking yet another liver-killing medicine.  (And yes, I know that being all excited over this makes me even older than the daily fiber-tang swilling ritual does.  Right now, I’m ok with that.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Truth Doesn't Always Set You Free

The Write. Eat, Post, Bathe group is starting a new series of weekly prompts. This is a good thing, because I still haven't snatched my writing mojo free from the gnarled talons of a vindictive and spiteful muse. I need all the prompting I can get. This week's topic is 10 Secrets.  

A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying 'tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.' - Quentin Tarantino

I thought this would be easy but, in reality, it sucks. I keep secrets. Always have, ever since I was a kid. When you live in a glass house, you need a deep basement. Secrets are not always a bad thing. But they get a bum rap in these days of hyper-connectedness. We'd be better off if we all had a few more secrets, I think. Take back some dignity, people!

That being said, here are 10 'secrets' for your perusal. They are not particularly earth shattering or revelatory. Maybe they are slightly entertaining. For starters, I'm stealing Cyn's number 10.

10. I love purses, bags, backpacks, etc. I have way more than I need. I also hate cleaning them out. Too time-consuming. So I have little bags of stuff that I can grab and put into the new bag. Presto chango.

9. I have a new mattress - one of those foamy things. I don't know that I sleep better, but I do know that I can't wait to lay down on it each night and I loathe, more than ever, leaving it in the mornings. Not sure that this is a selling point...

8. I am not entirely sure that babies are sentient.  Ever once in a while you see one with a spark of intelligence or personality in their eyes. I find that sort of fascinating. It makes me contemplate reincarnation. But most of the time - meh.

7. I am sucking it up and trying to learn how to photograph the aforementioned lumps of humanity. Babies and brides and their gawd-awful mothers. One of these days, when I retire at an obscenely young age, I am going into the photo business. If I'm going to make any money, I'm going to have to do babies and weddings. Them's the facts. I am, however holding fast with my prohibition against maternity photos. I'm seriously considering marketing myself as The Grouchy Photographer. The Grouchy Photographer doesn't like your mother and your baby is woefully average.

6. Women of America: pregnancy is not a disability. Neither is it some sort of noblesse oblige. It's just a fact. Of life. Get the hell over it. And stop showing me your belly. (Ok, this is more of a rant than a secret.  So sue me.)

5. Learned on Saturday that I can still make change. Thought I'd lost that skill. Good to know, in case I have to go with my fall-back position as Sonic car-hop.

4. Fog is sexy.

3. I have itchy scabs. (Won a fight with a rosebush and a chain link fence, although not decisively.)

2. Just bashed my hand on the side of the desk. Now my thumb is freakin' numb. (How many more do of these things do I have to come up with?)

1. Everyone had a Nellie Olsen when they were growing up. (Yeah, I read those books. Watched the TV show, too.) ((Wonder if there was ever a comic book incarnation?)) I recently came across the adult version of mine. Not the same person grown up, but someone just like her. And now, all these years later, I see the fear in her eyes. Maybe in another thirty years I'll learn to feel sorry for her because she can survive only by wounding the things/people she fears.

Well, that's it. Ten of the little buggers. Here's hoping that next week's prompt is easier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Longshot Fiction

This week’s writing prompt: So, think of a character and decide what he or she needs/wants to buy and write it out.

The premise was that you can learn a lot about a character by sending them on a shopping trip. It’s a fun exercise to be sure, but a little hard because I don’t really write fiction very much. While I was thinking about this during the week, I realized one of the reasons I don’t write more fiction. I have a phobia of people thinking it’s autobiographical. I write about my life all the time, but it’s obvious that I’m writing from personal experience. Or so I hope. But the thought of someone taking a scene or a character from something I write and positing it as motivated by my own personal experience/beliefs just makes me cringe. I realize this is because I am probably a psychotic control freak. But it doesn’t change the fact that I fear the reader’s (mis)interpretation whenever I write fiction.

Is it just me?


Skywater Longshot looked longingly up at the climbing wall in the sporting goods store. It would be a ridiculously easy for her to scale it’s two story height, but still she longed to be doing that – or pretty much anything else – rather than shopping. Skywater Longshot was not a shopper.

Unfortunately she really, really needed a new pair of tights. Crime fighting was hard on the wardrobe. If only her superpowers included invisibility, she’d just do justice while naked and save herself all the time and trouble of buying replacement parts for her costume. On the other hand, naked superheroing might require some sort of skin cream to combat the chaffing that would no doubt ensue.

In reality, Skywater wore more clothing than your average female superhero. Today she was purchasing a new pair of full length black tights to replace the ones that had been sacrificed to a nasty case of road rash last week when she’d been run over by a speeding Hummer full of escaping baddies fleeing a botched bank robbery.

In addition to the ankle length tights, she also wore a long sleeved mock turtle-neck, black as well, under a black, knee length cape which did an admirable job of hiding a posterior not entirely ready for prime time. Skywater finished off her costume with a pair of bright yellow wrestler’s boots and a matching yellow mask. Yellow was supposed to induce happiness. In Skywater's case it induced a sort of tepid goodwill.

She pondered color-induced cheerfulness as she traipsed past a display of terry cloth sweat bands. There was a pair of wrist bands at the front that would just match her boots and mask. Picking up the cardboard backer they were attached to, Skywater ran her fingers under the edge of the band, pulling lightly, testing the strength of the elastic.

It tested badly. These were more for looks than function. Skywater replaced them and moved on. They’d given her an idea, though. She would look for some gloves. Yellow. Yellow gloves were exactly what she needed. And new tights, of course.
Her pace quickened and she headed for the baseball section. Batting gloves would work. A good pair of leather batting gloves in a feisty canary yellow would protect the skin of her hands and wrist much more effectively than a strip of elasticized terry cloth. And skin protection was important.

In the baseball area she found a small bit of wall with pairs of batting gloves pinned to it. The gloves appeared to be arranged at random – more by color than by size. At first there seemed to be nothing but black and white. Upon closer inspection she found a couple of red pair, four blue and finally, in the top corner, two pairs of yellow. Perfect.

Standing on tiptoe, she reached up as far as she could, fingers grazing the bottom of the gloves. Just as she reached her limit, teetering precariously on the ends of her toes, something popped out of the middle of the gloves, right at eye level and launched for her face. It snarled. Skywater yelped.

She jumped back, knocking over a rack of aluminum baseball bats that clanged violently against the concrete floor. The pimply-faced kid who was restocking socks doubled over laughing. The manager was unimpressed with them both and barked an order at the stock boy. Scrambling to her feet, Skywater glared at the rack of gloves, then turned in a slow circle, eyes scanning furiously.

“I know it’s you, you little rat,” she hissed. Her reply was an angry squeaking noise coming from beneath a stack of t-shirts. “All rodents are rats,” she said, picking up the shirts. “Especially those that act like you!”

A small white mouse wearing a tiny yellow cape was rolling around on the table under the shirts. It appeared to be laughing uncontrollably. Skywater eyed the bitty beast with undisguised disdain. Finally the mouse stopped laughing and jumped up onto her outstretched hand. Skywater lifted him up to stare him in the eye. The mouse grinned at her.

“You are, without doubt, the worst sidekick any superhero could ever possibly have.”
The mouse took hold of the edge of his cape and lifted it to his face. Standing on his hind legs he peeped over the edge of the cape, batting tiny eyelashes at the woman holding him. She sighed. “Whatever,” she said, opening her bag with her free hand. “Get in and stay out of trouble!”

The mouse hopped off her hand and into the bag, disappearing beneath her wallet with a flourish of his silky yellow cape. Skywater sighed and made a final grab for the yellow gloves, still attached to the top of the wall.

Gloves in hand, she made her way to the runner’s area and snatched up a pair of her favorite brand of tights. She didn’t bother to try them on. It certainly wasn’t the first pair she’d bought and it wouldn’t be the last. Such was the lot of an incompletely invulnerable crime-fighter.

Skywater Longshot’s superpowers included invulnerability and an ability to control pain. Unfortunately, the invulnerability did not extend all the way through her outer layer of skin. That layer was susceptible to cuts, scrapes, road rash, chaffing and mosquito bites. It wasn’t uncommon for Skywater to be a bloody mess following an especially intense battle, yet be completely unscathed other than superficial wounds. It wasn’t glamorous, but it worked.

Purchases in hand, Skywater turned back towards the front of the store, ready to check out. A series of squeaks sounded from the depths of her purse. Pulling it open, she looked into the bag. “You want what?”

More squeaks.

“What makes you think I’m buying you anything?” she asked. The mouse’s head popped up next to a wadded kleenex and he glared at her. Then he sucked in a deep breath, puffing out his chest and screwed his eyes closed.

“Don’t you DARE!:” Skywater yelped. She slammed the purse closed even as she hissed “Fine! Fine – I’ll get you the sunflower seeds.” Cracking the bag open, she caught a beady little eye in her own steely gaze. “But do not think you can blackmail me by threatening to blow up like that. Next time I’m leaving you at home.”

The mouse stuck his tongue out and then burrowed under the wallet once again. Skywalker grabbed a bag of bbq flavored sunflower seeds and tossed them on the counter with her other items. “Stupid Ghost Mouse,” she muttered to herself.
Ghost Mouse, the unimposing sidekick, possessing an ability to swell himself to the size of a hand grenade and then explode mightily when she tossed him at her targets. He would blow himself to bits, taking a few bad guys or getaway cars with him, then reasssemble quietly while Skywater completed the mission.

Skywater slid her debit card absently through the reader and collected her bags. She smiled a vague response to the clerk’s canned friendliness and made her way out into the sunshine. “Ghost Mouse, Ghost Mouse, Ghost Mouse…” she mumbled, as if trying it out on the tip of her tongue. How unfair was it that her sidekick had a superhero name and she didn’t?

She’d have to work on that. Later.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

In Which the Writer Demonstrates How Crazy This Damn Drought is Making Her:

This week’s prompt: Creation, Si o No?

Well, it was more involved than that, but you get the idea.

Creation is kicking my butt at the moment. We’ve had 1.15 inches of rain since last October. We’ve busted the record for days in a year with temperatures in the triple digits by almost thirty days, and it’s barely the first of August. And today the air conditioner at my office is broken.

Creation is so not cooperating with me at the moment. Retirement to Seattle is looking pretty darn good right now.

Before I start planning my retirement, I’m planning a job change. I’ve decided to become Pharaoh. I think I’d be good at it. I’m all for covering the walls with quality graffiti. The smoky eye make-up is generally a good thing and Egyptian jewelry is always a favorite. Besides that, I’m ok with deified felines.

I’d be a hell of a good Pharaoh but I would change one itty bitty little thing, though.  If I were Pharaoh, it would be all over between us and Ra.

No more sun worship for me or my minions. No ma’am.  We would be major-league rain devotees. I’ve been a rain-worshipper all my life. Nothing makes me happier than a grey, overcast, drizzly day. I think I have a wonky, alternate universe version of seasonal affective disorder in which continual sunlight zaps my neurotransmitters and I crave the relief of a good thunderstorm or a long, soaking September shower.

And all we’ve gotten is one point one five inches all damn year.

Last week the head of the local Mental Health Center told us they are seeing a lot of people whose mental health problems are being exacerbated by the weather. Today one of my people told me he heard from a doctor that they are seeing drought related problems in their medical practice due to vitamin deficiencies which are causing a lot of depression and even more serious problems.

Drought makes you crazy.

Yesterday one of my people who’s worked on the same farm for 12 years was fired. He and the boss grew up together. Have been friends all their lives. But the drought, coupled with some other person problems have pushed the farmer over the edge. He fired everyone who was working with him. Now my 50 year old man has to find not only a new job (in an industry where no one is hiring) but a new place to live.

I’ve already volunteered to dance naked in the yard if that would help. No one thinks it would help.

So, am I frustrated with creation? Absolutely. Do I think this is God’s punishment on a wanton and wicked land? Absolutely not.

I believe whole-heartedly in evolution. I think evolution is an exceptional miracle. Any old conjurer can turn water into wine, but to start an entire universe with a single spark and mold, evolve and shape it into infinite worlds and infinite possibilities takes some real talent.

I think our actions are still working and shaping the evolution of creation. For instance, in the dust bowl era, which is now officially not as bad as the current drought, people couldn’t survive. Farms migrated. Who ecosystems were blown away. Now we’ve made strides in soil conservation that help hold the topsoil in place in the face of hot, dry, unrelenting wing. We’ve evolved. The next step is to evolve on our water conservation. And to maybe take a peek at doing something about global warming. Such as admitting that it exists for starters.

Hot enough for ya?

So we learn, we grow, we change. I think God watches over all of this, providing strength, guidance and more than a fair amount of grace. I think he’s disappointed in our failures and rejoices in our progress. I don’t think he does a lot of smiting.

I realize that I’m just sort of creating God in my own image, instead of vice versa, but I think of God as more of an observer, than an intimate participant. I don’t need God to be my daddy. I have one of those. I don’t need him to be my boyfriend. Have one of those, too. I need him to be God. Creator, Sustainer, The Omnipotent Author.

And I don’t think he minds if I worship the rain.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Delightful, for lack of a better word.


Last week I was supposed to write about feet.  I was too tired, too dead on the aforementioned, to do it.  This week’s prompt is to think about the things that irritate me.  Ponder them.  List them.  Know them.  Then write about what delights me. 

For starters, can I just say how much I hate Cyn for coming up with that prompt?  Far, far too apt this week.  Aptness is a finely edged weapon.  I have a stack of irritating things to ponder lately, most of them work related.  A tall, crooked, top-heavy stack of heaving irritations, just waiting for the most inopportune moment to crash down on my head. 

Think about it, she said.  Wallow in them.  Then see what you’re really made of and write about the things that delight you.

  • I left the house a little after 6:30 yesterday morning.  A hawk followed alongside my car for the briefest of moments before taking up his morning roost on one of the telephone poles.  There are few things on this planet more majestic than a bird of prey.  Even the scraggly, underfed hawks that we have here are just glorious to see. 

This hawk was watching a heard of pigmy donkeys grazing on a field terrace along side the highway.  I’d never seen donkeys there before.  Kinda cool. 

  • I finished up a teaching a class to drug offenders last night.  They were actually sort of engaging for once.  I enjoy stoners immensely one on one, but their group-think has been twanging my last nerve when I’ve taught this class recently.  This group was better.  Last night I taught about values, attitudes and behaviors.  Two of ‘em actually teared up.  Teared up!  Hell, if I’d had a plate I would have passed it and offered an invitation.  I couldda gotten at least one of ‘em to rededicate their life and the two guys in the back might’ve volunteered for foreign missions. 

Or, maybe not. 

  • I made a decision last week to pursue something I’ve needed to for a long time.  I have a building I want to someday rent/lease/own and put in an art studio.  I’m going to do it.  I’m even thinking about hanging out my shingle and doing a few photography jobs.  I’ll specialize in weddings of orphans.  I refuse to do weddings for people with mothers.  Mothers of brides have no place on a list of things that delight me.

I decided on a few small steps to begin with.  I’m actually going to try to sell some of my art.  Next weekend I am undertaking a very, very small beginning step and setting up a booth (card table and maybe a couple of easels) at a tiny town summer festival.  Just gonna wait and see what happens.  I can’t imagine there is a single person in the tiny town that needs/wants photos of graves or abandoned places.  And certainly not childish paintings of comic book themes, but who knows?  It’s a delightfully small first step. 

  • Jackson found me a new cemetery and Saturday we will take a little road trip and see how well it photographs.  That’s always delightful, even though he’s developed this new fascination with “Ghost Adventures” and now wanders the cemetery doing faux “EVP work”. 
  • I’m delighted that I live with a teenager who makes me laugh much more often than she makes me want to whack her upside the head with a heavy blunt instrument.  I’m delighted that we recently had this argument:

Kate:  “But!  I prayed in the shower!  I always pray while I’m taking a shower!”

Me:    “I don’t care.  You can pray again, out loud, with us.  It’s good for you!”

Kate:  “Argh! I don’t WANT to!  I don’t LIKE praying out loud!”

Me:    “What the hell is wrong with praying out loud?  Just quit whining a say a damn prayer, already.”

First she laughed.  Then she prayed. 

It was a crappy prayer.  But, what the hell, you can’t win ‘em all.


That’s it for now.  I’m kicking that list of irritations.  Kicking it hard, just to watch it fall.  I’ve got a lot of other things – more important things – to enjoy.  Who needs ya? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Write, Eat, Post, Bathe


Facebook destroyed my writing.  I quit thinking in blog posts and started thinking in status updates.  My blog died.  I’ve tried to resurrect it a few times, without success. This time, hopefully, will be different.  This time I’m using Facebook for blog-spiration. 

Saturday night, a few of us were sitting around playing on Facebook.  It is a sad and pathetic way to spend your weekend evenings, but it was what it was and we kept ourselves entertained.  We’d all blogged together previously and all felt guilty for abandoning our blogs.  (Why do we feel so guilty for not writing?)  We decided to form a new group: Write, Eat, Post, Bathe.  So named, because that’s pretty much how we were spending our Saturday night. 

We’ll attempt to make our Facebook addiction work for us, instead of against us, starting with a weekly writing prompt. This is the first weekly prompt:

So, write about writing this week--what you expect, how it makes you feel, why you fell out of practice or kept up with it, doing it professionally vs for fun, hiding from your real life--whatever. Any format, from poetry to prose to shopping list. Just write. And post your link so we can share. Totally optional means no stress. Write whatever or shamelessly stay silent this week. Have fun, for pete's sake.

I think this will be a fairly easy prompt to start with.  So, here goes:

I write because I am a comment whore. 

The End. 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

What I Did Today


Not much.  That’s what. 

Jackson and I went on some minor adventuring this morning.  We returned with a Cigar Bush and Hackberry tree that he planted this afternoon.  That’s four trees we’ve added in the last three weeks.  Two more to go and I think we might be done.  We are working to fill up the vast prairie land that is our back yard. 

Give us a couple of years and there might be some actual shade back there.  Right now we have the biggest apricot tree that I have ever seen.  It provides some excellent shade, but it’s right at the back of the yard.  No help for the patio or the house. 

Spooky’s gardening advice of the day is to go out to the nursery and purchase as many Russian Olive trees as you can cart back to your casa.  These trees put off a fine, sticky mist of sap for about a month and a half in the early spring.  Don’t plant them anywhere near your car.  But after that, you get another month and a half of the most incredible fragrance.  It’s sweeter and smoother than the scent of a honeysuckle.  The two trees that we have scent our entire yard, front and back.  It’s incredible. 

Russian Olives are easily rooted from cuttings.  I have a few new ones trying to come up from roots that I’m fixing to whack off.  If you’re a local peep and you want the little branches, let me know. 

When I started this post I had great plans for it.  Well, not plans, actually, but I thought I would twist the idea of gardening into some sort of essay about the peacefulness of that pursuit and how a home should be a place of peace, both inside and out.  A sanctuary, a refuge, a retreat.  But that seemed like a lot of trouble.

So, instead, lets talk about comic books.  I’ve been reading The Saga of Solomon Kane.  He’s a “Puritan adventurer” wandering the 16th century world, doing the Lord’s work.  As long as that work involves rescuing naked women from vampires. 

Solomon Kane is a dour-faced pilgrim.  A religious man, his purpose is to eradicate evil where he finds it.  He likes to eradicate things with his sword.  In addition to evil, he finds naked women.  The poor man has to gird his loins extra tight to keep from being tempted by their feminine wiles. 

It is cracking me up. 

Solomon Kane is one of the creations of Robert E. Howard, who also created Conan the Barbarian.  He was from Cross Plains, Texas, which ain’t too far from here.  Kane was a pulp fiction character created in the late 1920’s and in the 1970’s the comic book version was created.  I love the art from the comic book.  Kane’s sour demeanor and pilgrim-y, pirate-y costume are a cool combination.  Plus it makes him look sort of hot so that the naked women he encounters are more than happy to provide the temptations that test his faith and purpose.

I think I know what sort of churches Robert Howard grew up in. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Jerry Martin is a red neck.

He’s a big ol’ corn-fed guy, with a deep, slow voice. He keeps his dirty blond hair shaved almost to the skin and his fair complexion is splotched with crimson. Today he wore his Sunday best for the court hearing – a three-button red polo shirt and a generally intact pair of jeans.

When he dropped his ponderous frame unceremoniously into the seat on the witness stand, the rinky-dink chair groaned in protest. He leaned back, draped a meaty arm over the side of the witness box and met the stare of the prosecutor with unblinking apathy. His right forearm sported a brand new anarchy tattoo, still slightly inflamed.

Jerry is direct. He’s blunt. He’s got no social graces. But he’s not stupid.
I testified about Jerry’s performance on probation. He’d had a decent attitude, marked by a propensity for answering direct questions honestly, but not volunteering any information. He did some community service and made some payments, but never did as much as he was supposed to.

And he smoked a lot of pot.

The prosecutor wanted to know what we did about that. I testified that at first we tried 12-step meetings. When that didn’t work, I sent him to a treatment center for an evaluation. They put him into in-patient treatment. It wasn’t working, so after a couple of weeks they put him into their “Intensive Inpatient” program. (Not unlike Dean Wormer’s Double-Secret Probation.) A week or so into that program I got an irate call from the drug counselor. Jerry was caught toking it up with one of the staff members.

That caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

Jerry came to see me that afternoon and admitted he needed some serious treatment. If he couldn’t kick the habit, he would end up in prison. That day Jerry and I worked out a plan to put him into a long term treatment program. The next day he was supposed report to me again to sign the papers that would give away his freedom for the next nine months.

Surprise, surprise – Jerry didn’t show up. So, after dodging a warrant for the past few months, Jerry appeared in court this afternoon to find out what the Judge would do with him.

Under questioning from his attorney, Jerry explained that he knew he’d screwed up. Marijuana was a major problem for him, as was alcohol. He was worried that he couldn’t make probation, but he wanted treatment and a chance to try again.
Then it was the prosecutor’s turn.

“When did you last smoke marijuana, Mr. Martin?” the lawyer asked, his Eagle Scout uprightness contrasting with Jerry’s bumpkinly sprawl.

“Yesterday,” Jerry confessed.

“Prior to that, when did you last smoke?”

“The day before.”

“I see. And do you smoke marijuana every day, Mr. Martin?”

“Pretty much.” Jerry slouched more deeply in the chair.

“And how many times a day do you smoke?”

“Oh, I smoke quite a bit,” Jerry drawled.

“And you don’t have a job,” the prosecutor said, leaning forward slightly in his seat. “How do you get your drugs?”

“My friends,” Jerry replied matter-of-factly.

“And what do you do for them in return?” the prosecutor asked, letting a hint of disbelief creep into his voice.


“And they’re still your friends?” More than a hint of disbelief. “When were you arrested on this warrant?” he continued.

“The day after the Superbowl.”

“In January?”


“And you weren’t working then, either?”


“So where did you get the money to bond out of jail?”

“From Crime Stoppers.”

“Excuse me?!” The prosecutor was openly incredulous.

“From Crime Stoppers.”

“So you turned someone in?” You could almost read the lawyer’s mind – maybe Jerry wasn’t selling drugs himself, but he knew people who were. He must have turned one of them in to the crime tips hotline.

“No, but my mom did.”

“Your mom? Whom did your mom turn in?”


No one made a sound for several seconds. I would have loved to have seen the Judge’s face, but I had my eyes locked firmly on the desktop, shuffling through papers, in a mostly successful attempt to keep a straight face.

“Let me see if I understand this.” The prosecutor’s voice rose significantly. “Your mother turned you in to the Crime Stoppers hotline, got the reward money and used that money to bail you out of jail?!”

“Yessir,” Jerry deadpanned, completely unperturbed.

The prosecutor collapsed against the back of the chair. “No further questions.”

I guess Jerry’s honesty paid off. The Judge sent him to treatment. But he maxed out the underlying sentence, so if Jerry screws up again, he’s going to serve the maximum amount of time possible. And the next time there is a warrant for Jerry, I bet Crime Stoppers receives a request from the District Attorney not to post any reward money for his capture.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things I Think About on a Tuesday

I think that spring is here. I am going to dig. I need to plant the rosebushes that Jackson bought me for Valentine's Day. He always buys me flowering plants instead of cut flowers. Cool, huh?

Sometimes I think that Batman needs to just lighten the hell up. But mostly I think he's ok.

This year I think I am going to spend more time hiking. I'm only 36 miles from Caprock Canyon. Google maps thinks it would take me an hour and ten minutes to drive there. Silly Google.

I think we live way too close to the Dairy Queen. Blizzards are not our friends!

I think my nine o'clock appointment is not gonna show.

I don't know the person who bought the house catty-corner across from ours, but I think she might be my hero. Every time I've heard anyone mention it in town, they invariably say the same thing. "She's a single woman. I don't know what in the world she wants with a big house like that."

I think she might want that big ol' house so she'd have plenty of room for her solstice orgies and potion bottling operation. If I see her outside, painting pentagrams on the sidewalk, I'll probably stop and offer to help.

(I've never seen her, but I notice that she, too, is getting rid of the blue toilets in her house.)

I think the Japanese are resillient and innovative and it's going to be inspiring to see how they come through this crisis.

I am thinking about buying a bow and arrows. (Recurve. No wimpy compound bow for me!) Then I'll change my name to Rachel Hood. I look good in green.

I bought new work gloves during the lunch hour. They are pretty bad-ass. I think I'll probably be able to get the tiller started for the first time in a year with these bad boys on my hands. Yessirreebob.

I think I really need a pair of bib overalls and with a pouch of Levi Garrett chewin' tobacco in the front pocket. I'm channelling my inner Grandpa today...

I think this is a load of contradictory bullshit:

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

– Article XVIII. The Family. Baptist Faith and Message 2000

I don't actually spend time reading things like the Baptist Faith and Message. I just ran across a new (to me) term for an old idea and while looking it up, I found the excerpt from the Ye Olde Baptist Faith and Folklore. (New term: Complementarianism. Basically it means he and I are equal as long as he gets to be more equal tham me.)

I think I like being a Methodist, especially a marginal one. I'm sure they have their fair share of bullshit doctrines, but I'm not familiar enough with them to recognize any yet.

I think maybe familiarity really does breed contempt.