Wednesday, September 2, 2020

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING - AMERICAN NAZI (REPOST)

NOTE: I started this on August 13, 2012 and for some reason never finished it; it needs to be told now, as all we seem to be lacking are the snappy jackboots, parades, and apparently, we don't even need someone who can hold an audience in his thrall for seven hours or chew rugs. . . yet.



One of my fascinations has always been history and current events; I've been wanting to blog about it. Just about any history will do. The unfortunate fact that I am starting with White Supremacy, American Style has a LOT to do with Charlottesville three years ago and my own uncomfortable experience several years ago, when Hartline #2 and #18 took me to the Doctor, while I still lived in Tampa. I was one of the few white people around, and I found myself looking at the day’s TBT, Tampa Bay Times**, a rather fine, free bird-cage liner, with that Wade Page shooter and a Swastika emblazoned on the article itself. Since I couldn’t very well stuff it in my mouth and didn’t have my backpack and a only a very small purse, I had to proudly carry it. I hate that kind of shit. As if, possession of a newspaper with a swastika implies that I, a fair-haired, blue-eyed person somehow approves of such goings on. Racial guilt.
** I recommend reading this article for a quick who's who, and what's what.

courtesy:nytimes.com      

Shooting outside Sikh mosque on August 7, 2012. 

Anyway, my headlong immersion into history began with a bath in the events leading up to WWII, via my own father, who lived some of them; but he himself was quite the armchair historian and we didn't make shit up; we verified. All events, starting with the end of WWI, right on through Viet Nam (“Robert McNamara, that son-of-a-bitch!”, I heard my father growl every morning, as he shaved. I can also attest to the fact that directly after Charlottesville, I climbed up out of a sick bed, after having been in the hospital for a week with bradycardia and a low bp (I was probably dying, but was too stupid and stubborn to realize that), I got up and went on a protest march, were we listened to some very inspired rhetoric given by members of the Islamic-American community, The Tampa Communist Maoist Collective and #BLM, along with the Tampa Police Department. We were all one and we all marched and sat in several downtown intersections, snarling up traffic, while people honked in, what I hope, was solidarity. 

I've had quite an eduma-ca-tion. I would be intellectually deceitful if I said there wasn’t a powerful fascination in trying to understand why one group, race, nationality could so coldly, precisely and methodically shovel another group, race, nationality into ovens like so much coal, based on a RELIGION(?).  I am sad to say, that after 30 years of trying to figure out from so many different angles, artistically, culturally, economically and historically I still don’t. But ahh… there’s that nasty bete noire, religion. God, what nightmares. If some superior being were ever to show itself, we would be cinders. Seriously. We would be deemed unfit to continue our existence. But I went back to study and learn, because the roots of such deviant behavior don’t just spring up; there is a reason. Turns out I had to go all the way back to the Diaspora.

This is not getting to the bus and my embarrassment. I talk to everyone; and had a good time with the usual folks. I am a rarity here; a white person. I am very comfortable with this. My parents, being from Scotland, were completely color-blind. My Grandfather Wallace, with his kids in the old flivver, saved a man from a lynching during the Depression. His kids had no idea what was up. The man was on the back roads of Michigan looking for a job. Grandpa Wallace took him back for a meal and a helper for a few weeks. My folks never understood that fuss.

I worked, went to school and lived in the equivalent of the UN. I had an Egyptian neighbor. He would be taking his daughter for a walk. I’d say, “hi, how are you?” He’d say, “We are just only sleep-walking.” One night, there’s pounding on my door. It’s the Iranians from across the hall. “Can you come look at this, please?” they ask. I look. “Is this supposed to be funny?” It’s the 3 Stooges. “Trust me, it’s hilarious.” I say. The next morning, I am called to prayers. Well, actually the muezzin blows his tinny little horn on his portable tape deck. I watch as the men bow and pray, bow and pray.

At the teaching hospital, where I pretended to work, but just asked a lot of questions, because the docs there love to teach, Indian Dr. Das, the Head of Cardiology stopped me. “”You are good with sounds, you play viola.” Since when, but okay. He’s babbling at Dr. Stepniewski, who’s Polish; another Cardiologist. I’m like, “you guys need a translator, you're going to kill a patient”. I ended up translating their conversation; the patient survived; I just hope she didn't end up with two left arms, or something.

This is all leading up to this: the "otherness" and how white supremacists play to that. There are approximately 100 to 150 active to semi-active bands, such as Panzerfaust Records(now defunct, but follow the link; those assholes need to be put out of business too) that promote hate music. They will actively try to recruit junior and senior high kids as they are the easiest of targets. The thing I found interesting is that they are using music to inculcate these hate values into people, particularly the young. Death metal particularly. I love music, the harder, the more metal the better. Despite the fact I am a classically trained violist means nothing. Beethoven is my god. Were he alive today, he’d be writing and playing metal. Beethoven also believed in the brotherhood of man. Think very carefully about that.

There are other groups of skinheads who are diametrically opposed to these ideals and should be promoted. They refer to themselves as SHARPs, or Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. I love music. The fact that it is being used by people like Wayne Page, now deceased and his ilk is anathema to me. Peter Simi, who is associate professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska met Page in 2001 in California. Professor Simi’s specialty is hate crime and hate groups and I’m paraphrasing.

What is most alarming is the rising rate of proponents of white supremacy in the military. Because of lower recruitment rates, standards were lowered and white supremacists were allowed to join. Evil begets evil. I know from several people who have been in prison, done hard time that white supremacy abounds there. It should also be stated in the interest if fairness that an equal number of Latino and Gang Bangers reside there as well.

Here the original post ends, but I think that the gangs in prisons, by and large, exist as protection (see the wonderful “OZ” if you have not done so. It fully explores this subject.) and once out, most people who are NOT career criminals – and I can speak with authority -- having been housed with felons, leave that life behind. They return to normalcy.


Yet, today, we have one of the most anti-semitic, and if not yet, we will see, jew-baiting, hating Presidents as a Leader of the Free World. We might expect something like this from someone like Vladimir Putin, but guess what? Putin is above all, a statesman and he will not stoop to this sort of rhetoric. I am NOT a Putin apologist, by any means, but, BUT, when you have a Holocaust Memorial Day and do NOT mention the Jews, you are not far from calling out the the SS, the SA, and getting the ovens ready. I am inflammatory and I mean to be. Bring your shit on, Trump. 306 electoral votes my ass! YOU are our American Nazi!


God Bless anyone who has read this far, and I truly hope you have, because what I have to say next is said out of fear and hope. I'm going to provide two links that talk about the recent RNC and the events in Kenosha, WI. I see a country running dangerously close to the tipping point of madness. If, IF we wish to have an election come November 3rd, and a fair one, which seems to be less and less likely for a myriad of reasons -- USPS being sabotaged; Trump deciding he will not accept the terms; Law Enforcement, not including Military, stupidly getting involved; Barr's gang of ne'er-do-wells showing up uninvited and shooting random people; any number of any other things, not to mention Dems deciding "we've got this; may as well stay home!", we ALL really need to collect ourselves, be calm and do ... NOTHING! Stay home! Don't protest. Don't go out and do something that will provoke the authorities. 

I admit, there's much to be changed, up and down the line, but RIGHT NOW, sixty-four days prior to the election, we need to NOT give Trump an excuse to declare some bloviation of an excuse to declare Martial Law and keep his fat ass in the White House. We need for an orderly (as much as possible) election, and as fair as one as possible to occur, so we can get him OUT. The damage he's already caused is immense, and we need no more! I'm going to stop talking now; I think you're all smart enough to understand the danger our Republic is in and that we ALL need to unite and take a deep breath. Let's worry about fixing messes and addressing wrongs, after this election. If we don't settle down, 2016, may have been our last Presidential election. Have a great September! Here come the links! 




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

#IWSG – JULY 2020 CHECK IN – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ELIJAH McCLAIN


I haven't checked in, or written a great deal, lately. Time and events have been rather overwhelming and when I do write, I find I write out of a sense of urgency, or because I'm so enraged by what I've witnessed, I cannot hold it in. My orchestra is on hiatus, for how long? Who knows? I live in a Red State, which has completely and very ham-fistedly bungled any head start the Medical Community possibly had on containing the Coronavirus and they re-opened much, much, too soon, as we are now seeing. The global window is rapidly closing, and there is a new swine flu virus in Asia, that is, supposedly, not transmissible to humans, although people who do work with swine there, have tested positive for it, but are asymptomatic, and there are no signs that the virus is transmissible from person to person*.

Shortly after I wrote my previous post regarding the evictions en masse in the lower-income housing not very far from my house, and the heart-breaking image of the children's toys came the death of George Floyd and the Revolution took to the streets. I really had nothing to say on that, other than, “about time” and “I can be your Trotsky, should you need one”, but felt the people were eloquent enough in their righteous anger and fury over the dis-enfranchisement and the breaking of the contract that America should have kept with Black Americans and POC. Besides, I mentioned “fault lines” in my last post prior to all of the civil disobedience and Here. We. Are. We all do want the same thing and deserve it: equal treatment under the Law, Safety, and Fairness. What could be easier?

                                                                                                                               courtesy of:junkee.com                                                           
Elijah McClain

But, apparently, we still have nameless gorms who prefer living in the bad old days of Jim Crow and “Whites Only”, or more recently "White Power". Again, I'm really glad my folks aren't here to see this travesty of a country we've become. I remember my father and his sister telling me of the time they were driving in the old flivver, with their father, Grandpa Wallace, in like 1937, in the back woods of Michigan, and they happened upon three white men, trying to string up a black man, who was on a lonely road, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. My grandfather, being a Wallace, stopped the car and like something out of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, confronted the men. He stood them down. Being the cowards that they were, they left the scene, leaving the black man alone.

My father was pretty young at the time and I got most of the story from his older sister, Mary, my namesake. It seems the black man was walking the back roads of the lower peninsula of Michigan, looking for work. His people were in Illinois. My Grandfather came from a long line of crofters in Scotland. Sir William was originally a farmer before he led armies. He was also literate, having been schooled by his uncle, the local Priest. Anyway, his great-great-great-great, many times over grandson took the man home and fed him, and gave him a place to sleep for a few weeks, while he helped my Grandmother with chores and my Grandfather in the fields. Winter was coming, so when the hard frost hit, my folks paid the man, and sent him home. My folks being of Scots blood didn't hold with all of this “colored this” and “colored that”; they had also known oppression in their day. , However, I really, really digress.

This is about the life and death of Elijah McClain; a young man I barely heard of until this week. There were a few things in the news about him. But, there's been so much lately. We started the year with an Impeachment Trial, Kobe Bryant died, which was huge and then, went right into Covid-19, with a side-helping of Aliens, courtesy of the U. S. Navy, in the early days of the Pandemic; I guess on the off-chance we'd all have whip-lash and have forgotten how to read. We closed the Economy, and then, when cases slowed, we opened the Economy, and... OOOPS! Too soon! Now, we're dealing with exponential increases in cases of Covid-19 and our global window is closing. We may as well just throw in the towel. Period.

But, back to Elijah McClain. A gentle-souled, sweet young man who lived in Aurora, Colorado. By all accounts, he was a wonderful person. He worked as a massage therapist and his clients loved him for his sweetness, warmth and the way he lit up a room. He played the violin and on his breaks, he would go to the local animal shelter and play for the homeless cats and dogs there. “It soothed them,” one young lady said. I wish I knew more about Elijah. I wish I knew him when he was alive.

One night last year, on August 24, 2019, Elijah went to get his brother an iced tea. He wore an open ski mask because he suffered from anemia and he would get cold. I know what that's like. Someone called the police and reported a “suspicious person, wearing a mask and waving his hands”. Although unarmed and just listening to music, police say a “struggle ensued”. A carotid hold was placed on Elijah and when he didn't calm down, he was injected with Ketamine**, a supposed “therapeutic dose” to calm him down. It put him into cardiac arrest. He was transported to the hospital and put on life support. His family finally had him taken off life support on August 30, brain-dead and covered in bruises.

                                                                  courtesy of:Junkee.com                                   

Elijah, playing his violin to the stray cats in the shelter. It soothed them the shelter workers said. My cats love it when I play.

This is the bare-bones, brief story. For months, the body-cam footage was not released by the APD. When released, an officer can be heard admitting that Elijah had done nothing illegal prior to his arrest. Another officer accuses Elijah of trying to grab one of their guns. In the meantime, Elijah can be heard trying to say he's turning off his music; he vomits, and says his house is “right there”, then apologizes. “I wasn't trying to do that. I just can't breathe correctly.” One of the officers can be heard threatening to sic his dog on Elijah and also that he showed an “extreme show of strength when officers tried to pin back his arms”.

Very little of the officers' protocol can be observed however, due to their contention that their body cams all fell off during the arrest. The autopsy was inconclusive, and subsequent news reports seemed to point to McClaine himself as the unwitting cause of his own demise, because he struggled so, but, as Mari Newman, an attorney for the McClain family stated at the time, “Whatever the report says, it's clear if the police had not attacked Elijah McClain, he would be alive today.”

The officers, as officers in just about every one of these cases, with the notable exceptions of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently Rayshard Brooks, got off, initially, but a ground-swell of outrage and a plea from the Aurora, CO community and then, the nation, led the Attorney General of CO to re-open the Elijah McClain case and take a good, hard look at the injustice that was done to this fine, young man.

As a musician, I feel this. As a human being, this is just beyond the pale. Last Thursday evening, there was a violin vigil held for Elijah McClain in Aurora, in a park. Many string players showed up to play and practicing social distancing, they were playing Pachelbel's “Canon in D”. I know this piece by heart. I can riff on it, play it blues-y, play it jazz-y, play it in my sleep, play it upside down. But, I didn't get to hear much of what these talented, young musicians were doing, because the cops showed up. They showed up and they did what they do best. They threw a bunch of pepper spray or tear gas and they were in full riot gear. I could not hear any music over the screaming of “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” My poor kitty Allie could hear this and she got distressed. What is so wrong with us as a country that we can no longer assemble as is OUR RIGHT UNDER THE LAW! Not just any right, but our 1st AMENDMENT RIGHT!

These people weren't preaching sedition, or treason (why bother, we have a treasonous bastard for a President?), nor were they plotting the overthrow of the government, although it may be time to start thinking about a major change, because this shit ain't working!

 courtesy of:@ohsnapitztab via the CUT            

MUSIC transcends color, sex, orientation, religion, culture, time and belongs to everyone. I will NEVER get to hear Elijah McClain play, but boy, do I wish I did. I think I really missed out on something lovely. The more we take the beauty and grace out of our society the uglier we become. I, for one, don't want to see this happen. Say his name. Elijah McClain. Remember him. Say his name. Someone must; I know he's indelibly etched upon my heart.

====================================================================


*CNN Report, June 29, 2020
**Ketamine was approved for use on humans in 1962. Prior to that it was used primarily as a horse tranquilizer. It is known as Vitamin K, Special K on the street and is known to cause seizures, dementia and can cause arrhythmia when used in people with heart conditions.

Monday, May 25, 2020

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING - WE ARE A NATION OF HOLLOW DREAMS


For the last three months I have been in a voluntary quarantine. As soon as I heard about the Coronavirus and the first cases were announced in Seattle, I went straight to my PCP and in our short-hand lingo, discussed triage, supplies and what it all would mean for me, as I'm high-risk. Having worked in a tertiary care facility for four years, I knew that I was way down on the list for any kind of care, other than palliative, and in five minutes, I knew that I would be staying indoors for the duration of whatever this was, until a suitable vaccine was cobbled up, by our health industry.

I just had no idea that beneath the layers of what seemed to be a functioning (albeit, a dysfunctional one) nation, lay fault lines that were well-nigh insurmountable and that, moreover, the Powers-That-Be would not be swayed by a mere Pandemic to let their Better Angels out to save the day. No, all this lay ahead, to be peeled back in an ugly and rapacious manner that becomes uglier and meaner each day.

In early March*, when it seemed that we would have most of our work force staying “at home”, with the exception of the essential workers, and it was being bandied about in the House and Senate regarding Incentive checks and PPP for small businesses, there was also discussion about rent and mortgage “forgiveness” that would allow people to stay in their homes or apartments if they were furloughed. It was called H.R. 6515 and introduced 4/17/2020. This was to take care of folks to make sure that the homeless population didn't worsen, and to keep PEOPLE IN PLACE, during the Pandemic.
*Not precisely sure of the time lines, or when this was first talked about. 

I hate changing tracks like this, but I must at this juncture; one of the reasons I haven't blogged as much as I used to, as everything has overwhelming, but this, this is too much. My fiancé came home the other day from work (he works for the DOD and IS essential) and had a small children's bicycle, and a kids' hot-wheels toy in the trunk. I asked him where they had come from.


We, of course, have no children. We're going to fix them up and give them away; it just breaks my heart to see them.

It turns out that there is an apartment complex about ½ mile from our house, and it is for lower-income people. Our dog, Ripley, always runs over there and plays with all the other dogs when he gets off of his chain, or out of the house; we're familiar with the people there. So, James told me that people are being evicted right and left there. There are toys, clothing; kids' clothing, furniture, all piled up out there. I'm just enraged. What happened to all this “forgiveness” of rent? Is it because we're living in a Red State, but this doesn't translate to a Black or Brown State? Did the money just disappear into some fat cat's pocket up there in Columbia, or Raleigh, or wherever?


The toys are well-used and also well-kept. The children obviously were proud of them.

Every one of those toys is some kids' ruined dream; a failure on the part of this country. We can't teach them, we can't house, feed, or clothe them. What is wrong with this society, and what do we have to fear by teaching everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to the best of our ability, to be the best that they can be. NO child should have his or her dream, or ideal kicked to the curb by some money-grubbing fat bastard who doesn't need another goddamned dime from the American Public, or from anyone, period!


We have no way of knowing where the families may have gone, or if they're homeless. We're in a small town. So, they're probably in Greenville, or Spartanburg.

The Pandemic laid bare the fault lines that may have remained hidden for five years, or a decade. This country has become a weakened shell; a former chimera of itself. Our infrastructure has rotted to nothing. Bridges collapse daily, killing people in cars trying to cross them. Dams burst, flooding towns; two in Michigan burst last week. We have a golden opportunity to put together another CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to re-build our infrastructure, yet, our government is so corrupt with nepotism and incompetence and revolving door-ism, if Trump doesn't like the cut of someone's jib that nothing gets done, except some more GOP judges, who are unfit to judge dog shows are packed onto benches, because right-wing matters. If Trump doesn't like the news, he either lies about it, or he lies about what he just said, claiming it was "sarcasm". Who does that?


My baby Glenn, wondering why Mama's crying.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; two of the finest Americans who were at total opposites of the spectrum as regards politics are no longer with us and I'm talking about my parents. My father used to joke about how he was to the right of the John Birch Society and my mother used to say she was a bomb-thrower (Anarchist, for those not in the know), yet, we had some of the best political discourse around our dinner table that I'll never forget, and I'm so goddamned glad they're not here to see this mess of a country. I have a passport and don't think that I'm not thinking about maybe packing it in and making it back to the Auld Sod, as an Ex-Pat, when all of this shit is over. I'm so done with whatever is going on here and I'm not even sure if the U. S. is able to see its way out of the mess that is COVID-19.

As long as people keep lying to themselves and going outside and doing all of the things that are counter-intuitive and playing politics, there is going to be THIS Pandemic. Coronavirus don't care if you're GOP, DEM or INDEPENDENT. It's not about politics. It's not about your stupid freedoms. You're not having a “Rosa Parks” moment, by defying any government's (Federal or State's) orders and herding up together with your friends. Your Civil Rights are not being trampled. Imagine this were WW II. Would you go outside in London during the Blitz, because the German bombs were taking away your rights to stand in the streets and get blown to bits? I thought not. Think on that, this Memorial Day, and remember those who died for us, so we could live.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “G” - GLENN WALLACE, THE CAT


Glenn Wallace, the cat is a pretty amazing cat, although it must be said, he's actually pretty ridiculous most of the time. He's scary-smart. My better half named him after my late father, who was himself a pretty amazing, and scary-smart man, and also had his ridiculous moments. Glenn came to us in a rather startling way; we live out in the country on a corner parcel. There's just a lonely water tower and not much else around. Part of the land is abutted by forest and that's where Ripley the yodeling dog's imaginary pals live.

I spend most of the day ensconced in a house that is very secure and because of the day and the age, I am very aware of what's going on around me. It's quiet and Ripley will bark if people show up, so we're pretty safe. However, someone managed to sneak a black-and-white tuxedo kitten into our front door, between the screen door and the front door and there he stayed for a full ten hours, while James was at work. Now, the kitten may have wandered in there and gotten caught, I don't know. All that I do know, is when James came home, he said “Mary, how did the cat get out?”, when he opened the door. He was holding a black-and-white tuxedo kitten. I had not been out all day; hadn't opened the door. Our two chuckleheads were inside, busily dismantling the bedroom.


This is what Glenn looked like his first night with us. James was calling him "Kitler" from an old website from the 00s, that featured kittens with Hitler mustaches, that I had remembered. I was like, "Erm, no."

I pointed behind me to the two hoodlums and said, “I haven't opened the door all day; haven't been out! Look, here are our two goons!” I thought to myself “That trickster. James; he's just looking for a way to sneak another kitten into this household. Ha ha!” And he was looking at me like, “Mary, she's such a card! Looking for a way to get another new kitten in this house!”


Glenn, as he looks now. Don't let the beauty fool you; he's thinking of either his next meal, or what kinda shenanigans he can get into next. His favorite thing is to run rampant under my kitchen cabinets. I've told him that's Chthulu's timeshare, but Glenn doesn't care, much as my father wouldn't have cared.

James came all the way into the house with the new kitten. We could see that he (we checked that out right away, and he was an un-neutered male) was distressed; hot, dehydrated, hungry and rather skinny. He was about the same size as our two kittens. This was in October, so he was about six months old. Our kittens were both inoculated and up-to-date on their vaccinations, so he couldn't make them sick. The first thing we did was call the shelter for the county we now live in. They had no room for a kitten and the earliest they could neuter the kitten was in December. I didn't like that they had no room, and this wasn't a “no kill” shelter, so we decided to keep him.

James bathed him. This wasn't like the epic baths that my father used to give our cat, Oliver, when Oliver rolled in motor oil. My dad would lock them both in the bathroom and the yowling, screeching, and tearing of shower curtains and crashing around would commence. They'd both exit the bathroom, licking their wounds and treated bath time as some type of blood sport. The pair had an on-going feud? game? for ages, which my mom and I both enjoyed.


Eddifer and Glenn draped over, sleeping on the corner of my bed. Glenn looks like Superman or something here. I gave up trying to make the bed, because they all run around under the sheets, like a bunch of worms. Honestly.

Anyway, after Glenn's bath, we introduced Allie and Eddie to Glenn. We still hadn't picked out a name for him. We didn't have a feel for his personality. He was fine with the other cats, but was really, really hungry, so we fed him.

And, continued to feed him. About this time, I noticed that my hamburger buns on top of the microwave had a gnawed corner, in the bag and one of the buns had had some tiny bites taken out of it. I thought we had mice and since none of the kittens had really had mothers to teach them to hunt, I assumed that a tiny intruder was in my kitchen.

That week, when we went to the grocery store and I brought home a fresh loaf of bread, Glenn – who'd earned his name by doing something asinine that amused James, who while laughing, said “I'm gonna name this kitten after your Dad!”, and I, of course, being in on the entire ridiculousness of the situation, said, “Please do!” – saw this fresh loaf of bread and took a tiny, kitten-sized chomp squarely out of the middle of it as I watched, and I realized who the “mouse” in the house really was. I took the old loaf's sleeve and the piece Glenn had tried to eat, gave Glenn the chomped piece of bread, put the old sleeve on the new bread, took the new sleeve with the chomp in it, tossed it in the garbage and put all of the bread either in the microwave or the fridge, for safe-keeping. I give him the heels and now, Eddifer's in on this game of playing with/eating pieces of stale bread, when I make sandwiches. I don't give them much; just a bit to play with, and then eat. They're supposed to be carnivores, after all.


I know this is blurry; a testament to my fine picture-taking and my essential tremor, but this is the saddest pair of eyes I've ever seen. Poor Glenn! He only had to wear the cone for about 48 hours, but it was an eternity in terms of the Drama that unfolded in his mind, I'm sure!

Glenn is also the longest cat I've ever seen; long legs, tail and whiskers. He's almost four feet long when he stretches out on the floor and he's not fully grown yet. Like he's part Cheetah, and he gallops around the house like a little horsey. I think he revels in the sound his feet make on the hardwood floor. All he needs are little horsey shoesies.

He's also the one who goes in for all the weird, odd, and animated toys that James brings home. Glenn will be right on those crazy things and play with them for hours. He knows his name and will heel to hand commands, too. I've only had to tell him once and it's embedded in his little cat brain. Of all the cats, he's most bonded with me, with Misty being a close second. They are the two smartest, but I worry about Eddifer. Sometimes he gets lost in the scrum of life and will go off by himself. I make sure Eddie gets plenty of love. Allie is James' cat and she loves him to death. I'm an okay substitute, but there's no doubting who she loves best.


See what I mean about Drama? Allie is asleep all calm and Glenn is like, "I'M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, MR. DEMILLE!"

Ripley just kind of watches it all, bemused and the birds just add to the general life and noise around here. It's a happy house, with the animals, people and the music. We feel blessed. I hope everyone is having a great #atozchallenge!

I hope you stop by on April 19th, 2020 to meet Andy Toppin, Jr., and learn about his book “Rowan's Chronicle, Volume 1”. He's an awesome person, and a terrific writer!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “F” - Eddi-Fur; OUR FOSTER KITTEN

When we decided to throw caution to the winds and get hitched; without having even been in one another's presence physically, although, to be fair, we had done plenty of talking during viola lessons for a few years, we knew we were going to buy a house and fill it full of critters and music. We both play instruments and my fiancé has a fine singing voice – along with perfect pitch. I do too; I may have mentioned that I inherited it from my father, who had me singing harmony as a wee child, before I even knew what the word meant. But, I digress.


My father; a pilot in the Air Force during Korea. He flew B-29s and commanded a wing briefly. He was hilarious.

We got the house, and Ripley, the yodeling dog in the same week, and as we were moving in, we decided it was time to add in some kittens for more chaos. We had to start out with one, since you can only have one kitten that doesn't have siblings at a time from this shelter (you have to wait a week to adopt from another "family", so to speak), and the one kitten they did have was so tiny and cute; I about broke my neck running to the room to pick it up, before anyone else could see it. I'm ruthless when it comes to kittens and I wasn't going to let any little boys or girls deprive me. We found this tiny, tiny kitten, who wasn't available for adoption yet, but was available for foster. His little “biography” sheet said his name was “Tad” and that his birth date was April 20th, 2019. We were seeing him in early June, so he was less than two months old, and no bigger than a mouse, it seemed. I didn't see the “Tad” part, or the D.O.B. part until later. My fiancé had already run off with the paper to start the fostering proceedings.


Allie is in the background, chillin'. Eddie is photo-bombing the daylights out of this pic. He just popped up when I snapped the phone. Understand, that I take horrible pictures and that this is usually the norm for me. Confusion and body parts that all seem so random.

I didn't know what this kitten's name was, just that like with any kitten, I was in love, but there was something about this little guy – honestly, they're all like that; distinct personalities from the start. This little black-and-white tuxedo kitten blinked at me and I blinked back. Pretty soon, James came back with a cardboard carrier and a soft blanket and said brightly, “Okay, Eddie Scissorshands and I are ready to go! Let's pack him up!” I said, “Wat?” -- I say that a lot now --  “I'll tell ya in the car,” James says. So, we bundle up the kitten and off we go. In the car, James tells me, that he decided on the spot that this was “Edward Scissorshands” because “Tad” was just about the lamest thing he'd ever heard for a name for a kitten, even one as small and practically formless, as our new “Eddie”. So, “Eddie” it was. All of our animals got new names; the shelter is the only place that comes up with worse names for animals than I do. “Ripples” became “Ripley”; “Mittens” became “Misty”. Only Glenn came to us nameless, and James has heard all of these fabulous stories about my father, so now, we have “Glenn Wallace, Jr.”. There are days I swear that cat channels my late father.


Eddie and Allie; the forelegs may be Glenn's. It's just hard to tell. Allie has more white on her face, and Eddie has like this checkerboard pattern going on on one side of his nose. Their differences physically are subtle, and when they're up to mischief, a stream of pet names, some long-deceased issues forth... smh.

Eddie squeaked a lot on the ride home, and we had a fair piece to ride; close to 45 minutes as I recall. The ASPCA had given us kitten food and some instructions and some de-worming medicine for him. When we got him in the house, we gave him a while to decompress from the car ride, before we brought out Ripley. James had already thoughtfully gotten a kitty tree for little ones, but Eddie mostly ignored that, at first. He was too busy trying to be a kitten; prancing sideways, climbing jeans and playing with his imaginary friends – all of our pets seem to have LOTS of imaginary play mates!

When Ripley was introduced, we got the famous puff-up, dance sideways, hiss and growl – which sounds like a lion that has inhaled nitrous oxide – and then, he spent a good 15 or 20 minutes trying to figure out how to un-do all that shit, all the while going in circles backwards. The best entertainment ever. Later that night, after James fell asleep, Eddie cavorted up and down on top of him, doing somersaults and handsprings; kip-ups and lay-ups, with his tiny, tiny claws getting caught in the blankets for about 45 minutes. I didn't dare try to take a video, the light would have woken James up, but, damn! That was a riot. That kitten had the best time!


This little mite of a kitten was (and still is) just a hilarious little thing. Now that he's growing up, he's more "serious", "supervising" in the kitchen with this same look on his face. The look that really means, "Just what in the HELL am I seeing here?"
When we got his sister Allie Cat or KittenMcGrabbyPaws, the following week, we outright adopted her. We still had Eddie listed as a foster. He apparently, had not been raised by his mom. I've always worried about him; he's a week older than she is, yet she is sturdier and seems to have hit certain benchmarks earlier than he did. He did manage to catch up as they've reached the one year mark, though, and he's quite a good-looking cat.

We finally were able to adopt him at the end of July and he had to be neutered, and of course, we were both so nervous about that. We were afraid something would happen, but he came home and was fine.

Eddifer considers himself the Supervisor of the Kitchen. He must come and inspect anything we do. He's not a pain about it and doesn't get in the way and doesn't try to eat the food; he just likes to watch. I had to laugh about the people on Twitter who have several names for their animals. I have several names for all of mine; Eddie's are Ed, Edward, Eddifer, Son, Asshat (generally, when he, Glenn, Allie and Misty are playing “Viet Nam” or “The Floor Is Lava”). When they crank those games up, they A) either start knocking over the kitchen chairs and vacuum cleaner or B) it's 3 a. m. in the damn morning and they use the corners of the bed as launch pads. I must admit, as they've gotten a bit older, the 3 a. m. rampages are slowing down and they're more apt to sleep through the night.


Allie (foreground) and Eddie behind, horsing around on Ripley's blanket, while he's out going for walkies. They're very close and like any two siblings, have their spats. When I hear the tiny roars, I make them stop and fight nice.

The only other thing that makes Eddie stand out from the other cats is that he is not fond of loud noises or weird toys, or anything he doesn't understand. He heads right to the underside of the bed and stays there until the strangeness goes away, or he can figure it out. It's just one more thing that sets him apart from the others. I hope you're all having a great #atozchallenge!

April 19, 2020 is the date for Andy Toppin's blog tour on this website for the 1st installment of his book, "Rowan's Chronicle, Volume 1". I hope you'll join me for his interview! He's a good friend of mine and a wonderful writer!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “E” - EPHEMERA

I know this isn't about my new life in the carolinas, or anything about my animals, but it's a word that's been popping up in my head a lot lately. This probably has to do with the world's situation, and my internal dialogue is always “on”. My brain seems to have a running conversation with my moods, my reactions, how I interpret and analyze things and it never shuts off. So, just lately, “ephemera” has been coming to mind. I like the sound of the word; it's a beautiful word, much like “tintinnabulation” or “harmony”. We write and read for the beauty of the language, as much as we do for the import of the words.


I realize I am applying the definition to people, when it was originally meant to be used in the context of written or paper items, but our existence, on this earth, in context to the entire span of the universe's length of time is rather short, so I chose to use the term to describe our time here on earth.

By our very nature, we are ephemera, when compared to the rest of the universe, in terms of the length of time we exist, the amount of space we occupy and the things that preoccupy us. We have a tendency to focus on things that are less than monumental as a species and we haven't even figured out how to feed and house the entire planet peacefully. Rather, it's easier to make war over perceived slights and wrongs, than it is to work towards a peaceful resolution, that might garner less than the aggrieved party had hoped for. But, I digress.

Although, our corporeal beings are ephemeral, our ideals, passions and values are not. These things, abstractions really and any physical things we've created, as artists and people will exist after we leave this place. We'll be remembered; at least we hope so, and in a good light. So, in some manner, I guess, we do continue existence; my father and mother return every time I tell a story about them. There are their pictures and things they held that have been left behind; burnished by their touch.

In the time of the existence of the universe, it is less than we can even imagine – I'm being poetic, because although I know there's a hard number, it's still hard to grasp, because it's so minuscule in proportion to the age of the universe itself. In the time span of an epoch, it's a bit easier to grasp; however-many-score-years man is allotted to tread upon this mortal coil. It comes down to, “hey, we only get so much time. Make the most of it!” I'm really bad at this kind of sky-larking, but I couldn't get “ephemera” out of my head! Have a great #a-to-z-challenge!

Please, please, mark your calendar for Sunday, April 19th. I will be doing a blog tour for Mr. Andy Toppin, Jr., author of “Rowan's Chronicle, Volume 1”. Andy is a good friend of mine and a wonderful person. He is finishing the edits for Volume 2 now!

Monday, April 6, 2020

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “C” AND “D” - CATS!!!! AND A DOG



I'm cheating here. I should have posted letter “C” on Friday, but I had a little run-in with the SSA and then the IRS over this whole “incentive check” nonsense, and after sitting on hold, listening to horrible hold music and being hung up on by two different alphabet agencies in these here Untied (sic) States, I was in no mood to write or think about #a-to-z-challenge. Quarantining is bad enough and then, trying to deal with our Federal Gubmint for ANYTHING, just raises my blood pressure. But, I REALLY want to finish this challenge this year AND I digress.

At last count, in my household, we have four cats, one dog and three birds. The cats don't really seem to know what the birds are, as the cats weren't raised by their mothers and never learned to hunt. They do like to watch them fly around in their cages. We have two finches and a cockatiel. The finches finch around, making that little beeping noise, and the cockatiel has a variety of sounds that she lets loose on the regular. It sounds like a zoo in here. The cats are more likely to eat the birdseed that I scatter on the floor, when I'm feeding the birds, for some reason.


Ripley, wallowing on my bed, after I spent twenty minutes making it. 

When we first brought the two kittens in the house, we already had Ripley, our husky-hound mix. Two things about Ripley, besides the fact that he's an absolute sweetheart of a dog and is really easy with the kittens. First, being part husky, he loves to run, and if there's an open door anywhere in the house, he will run. RUN and will not come back until he's good and ready. This wouldn't be a problem, except someone put some buckshot in him once. He came limping home. We got him healed up, and we thought that would cure him, but nope. He still loves to run. Luckily, we're good at keeping him fenced up. The other thing is, he yodels.

I believe I read somewhere that dogs are only capable of ten types of sounds. Well, you sure wouldn't know it by Ripley. He'll be outside on his lead, yodeling, in just about every key. He's doing dog karaoke and hollering to his imaginary friends out there in the forest that abuts our land. It's hilarious.


Eddie was barely two months old when we brought him home, as a foster. We ended up keeping him. We're kinda like the "Hotel California". You can come here, but you never leave. 

Anyway, when we first introduced each kitten to Ripley, they all had pretty much the same reaction. Puff up, dance sideways, and hiss. I don't know about you all, but tiny kittens getting all fierce is the funniest thing ever. Poor Eddie, or Eddifer, as I call him, when I'm not calling him “son”; he was so brand-new when we brought him home – he was a foster – that he couldn't figure out how to un-puff himself. He danced backward into his little kitty house and circled around about three times, before he got it all figured out. For about two weeks, he was scared of Ripley. Of all my cats, he is the least adventurous and the one most likely to be found under the bed at the introduction of ANYTHING new, including toys.

Glenn Wallace – named by my husband, after my late father – is the smartest and most adventurous, and he loves any new-fangled thing that comes his way. We got this ridiculous toy that is battery-operated, and it writhes around on the floor and sparkles and snaps, and Glenn loves it! He also loves the Chitter toy, that makes a chittering sound when played with, unlike Eddie, who just ran under the bed when these toys were first introduced. Eddie doesn't hide so much any more from them, but he just sort of tolerates them.


Glenn, sleeping. He always looks like he's come in after a really rough night at the bar. He's also the longest cat I've ever seen. He has long legs and whiskers. I'm devoting the letter "G" to him and will have a lot more to say later. Just revel in the length of this animal!

Allie, or KittenMcGrabbyPaws is probably the funniest with her balls and tiny painting spool. She has these little wool balls, and she will fling them around, or bring them to me and have me throw them for her. It's so funny when she brings it back. I don't know if it's possible, but she always carries the ball on the right side of her mouth, so if that's a thing with cats – left-mouthed, or right-mouthed – it's the first time I've ever observed it. My old Russian Blue, Trotsky would play fetch, but as I recall he was ambidextrous, when it came to carrying shit around in his mouth; tin foil, wool balls, whatever we were playing.

The other thing with Allie, or any of the kittens and Misty is when they play with the spool, they make one HELL of a racket! It sounds like they're playing hockey; the wool in the spool gets caught in their claws, and they fling the spool around. It hits the wall, cabinets, and floor and it sounds just like a hockey game. All we lack is a fight.


My doofy husband, whom I adore completely, took this Alexa picture of Allie when we were out to dinner one night. "I wonder what the kids are doing?", he asked. Apparently, they were re-enacting "The Lion King".

The dog and the cats all get along; Ripley has discovered that he cannot go leaping about on the furniture, and he can't play “The Floor Is Lava”, but he's good for a cuddle! Letter “E” coming up; no more calls to the IRS or the SSA. It is what it is.

One last thing, I'm going to be posting a special post for a self-published author, a friend of mine, Andy Toppin, Jr., whose book “Rowan's Chronicle, Volume 1” is on Amazon. He's really a good friend and a special person. I love this book, and hope you all will enjoy reading about him! I'm enjoying this #a-to-z-challenge. I hope you all are too!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “B” AS IN “BUG” OR “BEETLE”

Letter “B” as in “Bug” or “Beetle”; more precisely, “Ladybug”, or “Ladybeetle” as, my oldest and dearest friend, Pamela calls them. I'm writing about them, because, like the kittens, and the dog and birds, they have become part of my landscape and in a big way.

courtesy: familyman.com   

My hubby also had a bunch of the little devils visit him in his woodworking shed as well.

One day, last October, here in the foothills of the uplands in the Carolinas, in the countryside where we live, ladybugs took to swarming; something I'd never experienced before. I'd seen scads of lightning bugs as a kid in Michigan and later on, when I lived near Gastonia, NC and, had heard tell of swarms of crickets from my aunt when they first moved to Las Vegas some fifty-plus years ago, when her husband, my uncle Stan, worked at the nuclear test site out near there. I'd also experienced swarms of Mayflies from Lake St. Clair, in Michigan, in June.

courtesy: mdc.mo.gov  

Lightning bug swarms are prettier than Mayfly swarms; here's a batch of lightning bugs in Missouri.

The Mayflies came up out of the bottom and swarm all over the towns of Grosse Pointe and East Pointe. People were sweeping them up with their push brooms and they would crunch when you run over them with your car. Kind of icky, but they disappeared fast, as the birds and I think squirrels would get some new snacks.

We also had the love-bugs in Florida. Boy, did we have love-bugs. Something out of a laboratory that got loose. Two bugs hooked together that flew around for a few weeks. They just got mooshed under your windshield wipers and were a mess to clean up. I was never really sure where they came from, or what ecological niche they were supposed to fill, but they were annoying.

courtesy: tcpalm.com  

Love bugs are supposedly a science experiment that got loose and have no known predator, so they just show up and annoy Floridians twice a year. The story may be apocryphal, but I was too busy cleaning dead love bugs off my car to care.

But, the ladybugs I found rather charming. They apparently live for between 2 and 3 years and they swarm in late October in the upper-third of the United States, looking for places to hibernate. They found refuge outside in my eaves, but several hundred, or thousand – I wasn't taking names at the door – found respite in my ceiling and my kitchen and bedroom and music room. They tucked themselves in and went to sleep. They will live off their body fat for the winter. The amusing thing is that it doesn't get really, really cold here, so we'd have a warm day, and a few hardy souls would come buzzing out and I'd find them creeping around in the kitchen.

I'm sure a few have fallen victim to the kittens and one did fall into one of my frying pans when I was cooking. I was unhappy about that. I've talked to people who work in construction and they're used to coming up on packs of them in walls and things like that, so it's not unusual, but I like having them here. At least they beat the wasp infestation I had last summer. That was just annoying. At any rate, I had to remember that terrible children's rhyme, “ladybug, ladybug, fly away home! Your house is on fire, and your children are all gone!” If I'm remembering that correctly, that's just the stuff of nightmares. No wonder we're all in therapy!

I hope you all are having a wonderful #a-to-z-challenge! Next up, letter “C”!