Saturday, June 26, 2010

Belly Laughs (Warning - Adult Language)

I do not remember now how I discovered the existence of Justin Halpern and his hilarious father, but I am so glad I did. Justin recently published a book entitled "Sh*t My Dad Says". Yes, that is the true title!

Mr. Halpern is an outspoken, eccentric, highly intelligent man who simply speaks his mind. His son, Justin, began twittering quotes of his father to a few friends. Then scores of people were following, then several hundred, then thousands, then kablooey - internet famous!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book: "Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern, copyright 2010

"Gore seems kind of like a pompous prick, but every time I see Bush I feel like he's probably shit his pants in the last year, and it's something he worries about."

"We're having fish for dinner... Fine, let's take a vote. Who wants fish for dinner?...Yeah, democracy ain't so fun when it fucks you, huh?"

"The dog is not bored. It's not like he's waiting for me to give him a fucking Rubik's Cube. He's a goddamned dog."

On Bob Saget's Demeanor While Hosting America's Funniest Home Videos:
"Remember that face. That's the face of a man who hates himself."

His parents, to Justin:
"You always got us. We're family. We ain't going anywhere. Unless you go on a fucking killing spree or something."

"I would still love you, Justy. I would just want to know why you did it," my mom said earnestly, having gotten back into the car and rolled down her window.

When I read the quote about Gore and Bush, I was in the book store alone, and I could not stop laughing. It was embarrassing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Sexiest Man Alive

Sometimes when I am in the check out line at the supermarket - only because I have nothing else to do - I might look at People magazine... if Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom is on the cover. It is embarrassing to admit I read such drivel but keep in mind that drivel is accompanied by the air brushed and best publicized male faces Hollywood has to offer. Those men have each been named The Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, or Second Sexiest Man Alive, or Incredible Breathing Sexy Man, or The Sexiest Man Who Will Never Call You For A Date So Go Ahead And Buy That Five Gallon Tub of Ice Cream Girlfriend.

But actually, those pretty boys are just that: boys. And they are not sexy. All they can do is stand around looking gorgeous, pretending to be real men for the movies. The most important thing they know is which side of their face is most photogenic. They are rich and famous, and even though it pains me to say it about such beautiful men, they are worthless in the real world.

But, do not despair because there is a real sexy man out there. Oh yes, Virginia, there is indeed a sexiest man alive. His name is Mike Holmes, the star of Holmes on Homes. Every week I tune in to watch this big hunk of Y Chromosome tearing into the horrible mess sub-par and dishonest contractors have made of some unlucky person's home. I practically swoon over his righteous indignation.

He wears overalls and tool belts and shakes his head in sympathy for the victimized homeowner. Sometimes he actually gets angry that terrible contractors are out there taking advantage of the weak and innocent, making it hard for the good contractors. Sometimes his manly, tattooed arms are bared. Oh, but the sexiest thing Mike Holmes does, the sexiest thing any man on the planet will ever do, is fix homes. And he fixes them right! They are up to code. Safe. Sturdy. Beautiful. Made whole again.

Now that is sexy.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Kid's Got Potential!

Raising chickens ain't rocket science but I suspect that in my case, it may as well be. I am "challenged" when it comes to keeping chickens alive and well, even losing one peep by accident in the safety of a small cage. The replacement chick turned out to be a rooster and I absolutely do not need any more roosters!

His name is Cherokee, due to his vocal approval for Rita Coolidge singing in the Cherokee language. Amazingly, he has already started crowing. It took patience but I recorded him crowing in the tiniest, peepiest voice you have ever heard.

Cherokee practicing to be the king.

If it is true that he is a black tailed Japanese bantam rooster, he will be dramatically handsome when he matures. Pure potential, baby!

Japanese Bantam Rooster

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Symphony in the Flint Hills

From Afar

On the wagon...

On the wagon...


Two Cowgirls

The banners in the humidity and South wind

The music - all photos by Anda - except for the photo of Anda by Mom

Thanks to my daughter, I had the chance to attend "Symphony in the Flint Hills" last night. Our first time but the fifth year of the event. In a celebration of the most beautiful area of Kansas, a symphony orchestra sets up out on the prairie and several thousand people come to listen. It is quite an event, grows in fame each year, and tickets sell out immediately. I had never been able to get tickets.

People come to enjoy the tall grass prairie and the beauty of the hills beneath the infinite Kansas sky. They spend a most pleasant day with horses and cowboys and wagons about, and all is blessed with the ever-present Kansas wind. It is truly an original Kansas event.

Large white tents were placed atop a long ridge, and tall standards tethering long white flags were set all along the area. The tent tops reflected shimmering silver from a long distance. The graceful flags adorned the south wind. The site appeared almost as a mirage. At first glimpse, my daughter and I felt the same anticipation every human being has ever felt arriving at a special gathering in the wide open spaces of these prairies.

Gentle people attend. Beer and wine are sold, but no public drunkenness, no whooping Kansas red necks, no one spoiling for a fight, no race or socioeconomic clashes. The sun goes down behind the gently rolling western horizon and stars appear, or lightning and lightning bugs, or all three.

Well into the concert, about sixteen cowboys on genuine working cow ponies gathered a sizable herd of cattle and moved them in a long trail across the opposite hillside. The front of the herd wanted to bolt, but some cowboys ran their ponies ahead. Those horses turned to face the oncoming steers, matching them turn for turn, slowing the herd and making the cattle go in the direction the cowboys intended.

A cowboy on a red roan appaloosa pony simply could not resist a bit of showmanship, prancing and rearing his horse before the crowd. Most cowboys work cattle and do all their cowboying far out of the sight of any appreciative greenhorn eyes. They are quietly proud of their good, hardworking cow horses. A modest show of skill before an admiring crowd is understandable.

A few cowboys rode along the temporary fence surrounding the hillside where the crowd was seated. Children and people of all ages gravitated along the fence, petting the faces of the patient horses, taking pictures and talking to the cowboys. I saw one elderly man, his back painfully bent, make his slow way to the fence. I imagined he had been a young cowboy and wanted to feel the soft nose of a cow pony and hear the creak of damp leather again. (Of course that is pure imagination, but why else would an old, crippled man make his way down such a steep and rocky hillside?)

It was an entirely unexpected gift handed to my daughter when those tickets were placed in her hand yesterday. I was enjoying myself immensely. I anxiously searched out the field journals created specifically for the event because I definitely wanted to buy one. The journals were artistic and beautiful, and contained chapters on everything about the Flint Hills except for a single mention of the Indians, the people who were here first. I simply could not stop the feeling of outrage spreading from my belly. How can hundreds of decent human beings put on such a great party celebrating this beautiful, unique area but absolutely ignore the people from which this land was taken? I was greatly dismayed. The journal was celebrating the Flint Hills, the beauty, the ranch culture, the long colorful history of the area, but apparently history began a mere 150 years ago. Bison were included, but not Indians. It was as if cowboys had simply appeared by magic in this magnificent emerald land. I was almost sick to my stomach.

I felt bad for my daughter because she was having a great time until I began bitching and moaning over this tiny little oversight committed by all the white people in charge of Symphony in the Flint Hills. I tried hard to tone it down but I simply could not see the event in the same light as when we first arrived. When we set up our chairs on the hillside in anticipation of the music, I tried to let the green and graceful beauty of the place calm me, give me perspective.

Then, the governor of the great state of Kansas took the stage. He gave a rousing speech to kick off the evening's festivities. It was a speech all about cowboys, and Flint Hills, and every Kansas college and university except Haskell, the Indian university located in Lawrence, where Quantrill's Civil War raid left over 200 dead because Missouri wanted Kansas to be a slave state, which the Governor DID mention. It was a perfect politician's speech suited to the occasion, but once again, the history of the Flint Hills began 150 years ago, when apparently a Christian God dropped white people into an empty landscape.

I thought of my son, one quarter Potawatomi by the white man's blood quantum. Leonard McKinney once said to me, "Your son is op-toh-zi [half] but which half is Indin'?" I thought of my son's Potawatomi grandmother and his father, and aunts and uncles and cousins, and all the Potawatomi who were given this land by treaty after it was taken from the Kansa. The Kansa were herded like cattle on foot from their diminished reserve in Council Grove, south to Oklahoma. Their trail of tears quite likely passes not far from where the Governor was standing, rah-rahing for the white people on such a festive night.

I thought of Patti, and her sons, and all her relation. I thought of all the Indians I love, and it brought tears to my eyes. So, I put a pinch of tobacco on the earth and assured the spirits I still remembered them. I offered a prayer for all the Indians who are still alive and well right here in Kansas, including my son. (It is quite a shock for white people to discover a few Indians made it through the genocide.) And, I told myself, someone will eventually come along and rub out the white people, too. That made me feel much better and I was able to shake off the anger and sense of outrage. I was able to enjoy myself and be good company for my daughter the rest of the night.

After the concert, which was wonderful, my daughter and I chose to walk all the way back to the parking lot instead of standing in line for an hour or two for the shuttle. I was huffing and puffing and sweating in the 90% humidity and well, maybe I was complaining about the long walk. I said we had to just keep slogging through and we would make it, and my daughter said, "Just like the Indians."

Saturday, June 12, 2010


To step through the door of my home, emerge beneath the sheltering trees as thunder rumbles, is to sometimes stand immersed in mighty currents of gratitude for a miraculous life.

Infinite blessings arise from the Heart and I stand still -

How is it the earth clothes herself in infinite acres of living green every spring -

How is it a tree increases in strength and mass as it stands -

How is it that I move on this earth with utter free will -

What thread of evolution produced the grace of horses to carry us to shelter, to food, to war -

In what dreaming did flight first arise -

By what infinite chance am I here to wonder such things -

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Happy Face

It Ain't Me

Torn from the headlines:  "A woman spent three days in jail for calling the 911 emergency line five times seeking a husband. The dispatcher was flabbergasted by the requests and asked the woman, "You need to get a husband?" The 57-year-old woman responded, "Yes."

Told that she could face arrest for misusing 911, the woman responded, "Let's do it."

She was convicted last week of improper use of the 911 system and was sentenced to the three days in jail, which she had already served since her arrest. Seven other days were suspended if she stays out of trouble for a year.  

After her release, the woman blamed alcohol." 

While I had a good chance of inheriting the unfortunate genes for alcoholism, by some miracle of gene pool lottery, I missed that affliction.  I am forever thankful.  Otherwise, my children might very well be reading about their mother in articles such as this. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What is Funny about Being a Fat, White Woman?

The first time I received energy work, I experienced what is variously called a shamanic journey, travel in the dream time, lucid dreaming - choose the discipline and use its term for an expanded consciousness experience.  Because I had no prior expectations for the energy work, I believe that made it easy to slip into the other awareness.  It is not an altered consciousness, not an induced consciousness, but an expanded awareness.  In addition to my normal senses, I could experience another realm with a previously unknown/unused ability.  While I was traveling, I was perfectly aware of my normal self lying on a therapy table, hearing the birds singing outside, the low voices in the next room, feeling the pillow beneath my head.  I was in two places at once and my brain was quite adept at keeping the two realities separate.  It was exhilarating.

I will not recount the entire journey, but I will say the experience remains as one of the brightest beacons in understanding why I have a physical life on this earth.  Of course, there are still a million questions.  It only answered a few, leaving countless more unanswered.

At one point I found myself riding thermals high above the Bad Lands, seeing everything through the eyes of an eagle.  I could feel the strength of outstretched wings effortlessly adjusting to the air in a masterful, consummate act of  flight.  Flying like an eagle is really cool - trust me - but I was searching for something specific.  I caught a glimpse of the poles and hide along the bottom edge of a tipi and instantly fell away from the eagle awareness to find myself standing in front of the tipi.  There was a man waiting for me.

When I looked into his warm, expectant face, I found I knew him and had always known him.  We embraced with great affection and entered the tipi.  As we settled by the fire within, I said he would never believe it but I was a fat, white woman now, and both of us howled with laughter.  We could hardly stop laughing.  Not that there is anything wrong with fat white women, There was such delicious irony and infinite humor in that news.  (Sometimes when being a fat white woman in this lifetime is too damned hard, I remind myself how funny it is in certain circles and feel much better.)

I spent a long time in there with this man I know so well.  We talked about everything, but try as I might, I can not remember what was said.  I suspect that I recall every word at some level, but it is information meant to guide me as I make my way in this strange, dense and brief physical existence.  Some time I will return to that tipi and that man and exist only there again.

At a certain point I could feel an irresistible force pulling me back, but I struggled to stay.  It was beautiful there and comforting, and I was infinitely happy.  I had just enough time to thank the Indian man and ask if I could visit again.  He assured me I could visit him any time, but I have never been able to find my way back to him - yet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remembering Jani

Sometimes memories of people long gone from my life arise and linger for a time. Maybe they are visiting me, checking in on my life here on earth. Jani has been on my mind for a couple of days.

I first met Jani when she hitchhiked into town from California. Her story was that she had left home in Columbia, Missouri at the age of 15 for the open road. As far as I know, that is the truth. I never knew her to do a single dishonest thing. Illegal yes, dishonest no. Though she most certainly had her own moral compass, she was not a liar. In fact, she was probably one of the most honest human beings I have ever known. Brutal honesty gets people in a lot of trouble, and that is a fact.

She lived a rather hard life on the road, but it was her conscious choice and she was no victim. Absolutely fearless, smart, and street wise, she was also beautiful. She was a natural blonde, fairly tall, and graceful. She wore her jeans and boots as if she were royalty. When I met her, she had been on the road for over a week, coming in from Fresno, California, but she was as fresh and clean as if she just stepped out of the shower. She was a presence, a force, comfortable wherever she found herself. A blonde shining star.

If something had caused her to leave home at such a tender age, it was never discussed - never a hint of anything dark or troubling. It seemed simply that she was destined to be a gypsy, too large for life in one place, or ever for very long.

While she was in Kansas, we had some adventures together. When one of her boyfriends was languishing in a very small town jail, the inmates devised a "fishing pole" long enough to reach through the barred windows and past the chain link security fence so Jani could tie a baggie of pot to the end. She kept them all high while they were waiting for their respective trials. When I look back on this, of which I was absolutely an accessory to a major crime by driving her in my car, I can only think the Sheriff had to have known something. Maybe he turned a blind eye, knowing that all of us would grow up and be respectable tax payers if given the chance. Maybe we were all just unbelievably lucky. Maybe it was Jani's in-your-face courage to live and act according to her own dictates that kept us all safe. No one would dare such a blatant and willful disregard of the law right at the very jailhouse.

For a couple of years Jani and I ran with a rough crowd of older people - artists, musicians, hippies, assorted counter-culture types, and yeah, there were a few drug dealers in the mix. At one point we both rented apartments in the same house and that is when we became good friends. (Those stories must be reserved for the book my kids must never read!)

At one point she had taken up with a business man who had a bad reputation for cheating and mistreating employees, customers, and his girlfriends. It began when she worked in his store. The last time I saw Jani during that time frame, she came to my door with her back pack, ready to hit the road. She was deeply angry at her boss and told me he had cheated her out of a lot of money. She kicked in the window to the apartment they were sharing, took what she felt he owed her, and left town. Later, the man was cussing her to anyone who would listen, claiming Jani had stolen hundreds of dollars of Navajo jewelery from him. All of us who knew both parties were of the unanimous opinion that Jani had merely evened the score and made a fool of him. I know this much: Jani would have never stolen a single penny from anyone. Being a thief was not her style. I always suspected the business man had become violent or otherwise abusive to her, though she never said that was so. He was lucky all he got was a broken window.

After that I did not hear from her for a few years, but she always found me, calling me out of the blue to tell me where she was living, what she was doing, and most importantly where she was going. If I lost track of her, I would call her mother's house for an address or a phone number. We stayed in touch fairly regularly over the years considering her far-ranging gypsy travels.

About 1985, she made a special trip to Topeka to visit me. She was no longer a young girl, but a young woman and doing very well for herself. She had settled in the Tuscon area and was dancing for a living - a quite lucrative living, I might add. Jani would simply never fit into a "normal" lifestyle.  From that visit I have photos of us standing by my Harley, having a beer together at the local watering hole. We took a day trip to our old stomping grounds and she made me laugh when I tried to throw my cigarette butt out the window. "Hey! Don't throw that out!" No one was going to litter the earth in Jani's presence.

She was impressed that I had my own Harley, happy that I had a career. She was happy to see my daughter who had been toddler the last time Jani had seen her. We had a great several days together, and then she returned to Tuscon.  She was studying and training to be a helicopter pilot and had the final testing coming up.

It was some time later when she called me with exciting news - she had just bought her own Harley and she was coming to Kansas in August. Whether I wanted to or not, we were riding to Sturgis. My son's birthday falls in Sturgis week, not to mention I have never wanted to go to the big biker gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota. Too many people and too wild for me. I did not want to rain on her enthusiasm, so I simply told her I would see how it went. At the least, I thought I could meet her in western Kansas and ride across Nebraska with her. I knew she would not be riding alone, anyway. There would be plenty of men willing to ride across the world with Jani.

I never heard from Jani again. When the summer came with no word from her, there was a tiny trickle of worry because it was not like her. If she said she was riding to Sturgis, that is exactly what would happen. I was a bit relieved, too, because saying no to her always took a lot of energy. I honestly wanted to stay home with my son and my family. I tried calling her at Christmas but her number had been disconnected which meant she had moved on. I knew she would call me sooner or later with her updated address. But she did not call that winter. In the early spring, I called her mother's home. A college student staying in the home answered. He quietly told me that Jani had been killed in a traffic accident about a year past. I was devastated and so shocked I did not ask questions.

When I could manage it, I wrote to Jani's mother. I shared with her the best of the Jani I had known and told her how deeply sorry I was. Her mother wrote in reply and that letter broke my heart. She said of all the people Jani had known all over the country, (and there were literally hundreds of people) only me and one other person had ever contacted Jani's family. She told me Jani had been riding on the back of her own motorcycle, some man driving, when they had been hit by a semi tractor-trailer. The authorities would not let her see Jani's body. I thought then of that beautiful, graceful body destroyed so violently in death and I have never been able to get it out of my mind. I thought of that brave and willful spirit gone from this world, and grieved.

With the dates in her mother's letter, I realized Jani had called me about the Sturgis trip the last day she was alive. She called me to say hello and goodbye. Of all the people she had known in her short 30 years, she had called me. I never thought I deserved to have a friend who burned as brilliantly as Jani, but she must have thought otherwise.

Until we meet again, Golden Girl.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Face Book

My daughter encouraged me to join Face Book, so I joined last weekend. I do not quite have the hang of it. It is not private whatsoever! Conversations on the "Wall" are apparently seen by everyone I have accepted as friends. I have become friends with people I actually do consider friends, but they are friends with people I do not consider friends and will never consider friends. I do not want those jerks reading anything on my wall, or looking at my photos, or even being friends with my friends! This is NOT a good thing.

I have set the privacy controls to the strictest I can, but there is a dilemma: what if I regret accepting a friend? If I sever Face Book ties with that person, will there be irrevocable harm to my real life friendship? I do not want to read on my wall that one of my friends scored his highest on a Face Book game, unless it means he scored the very highest score in the history of the world. That would be impressive. Otherwise it is depressing. I do not want to read bits of other people's lives when I have absolutely no interest in their worm farm or butt ugly grandchildren, same as they do not give a cluck about my stupid chickens. This is why we have blogs! People can choose to not read about my stupid chickens.

There are other problems with Face Book. I tried to be friends with a guy who has the same name as my son. Wonder what the hell that young man thinks about an old, fat woman trying to be friends with him? (Dude, it is NOT what you think.)

I will give it a few more days, but it seems like far too much information out there for far too many people. People I despise are friends-of-friends. I do not want them to have the chance to make fun of me for raising chickens now instead of posting photos of butt ugly grandchildren. I do not want people I hate to know I went out on a Saturday night and had a great time but my only comment was wanting more of the Velvet Cake. For crying out loud.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Crazy Family

Is there a better case for the genetics of insanity?