It’s Not All Hearts And Flowers


In Truth, I’m struggling here.

The inner Rhae KNOWS the Universal Laws. The person behind the pen name KNOWS that our experience with our True Selves on this plane is limited at best. However, the spirit that lives within the very fragile, time-limited expression of Homo sapiens is brought to her very mortal, aching knees every damn time by the acts of cruelty expressed by her species. There are numerous tomes, poems, books, movies and scripts to immortalize the highest aspiration of our very souls. Yet, on a daily basis, there are other mortals who actively choose to express the polar opposite of what we’ve been advised is our legacy and our nature; Love.

Love has been analyzed, dichotomized, romanticized, victimized and torn to its very quivering Thread of Quantum Existence. However to this day, despite the wisdom of prevailing religious structures, spiritual expressions, even international law and dictate there are starving children, women and men of every persuasion beaten, abused, demoralized and in some instances killed. There are individuals whom profit off of the misery of others despite the moral warnings written by the wisest and most venerated. There are massive groupings of businesses in existence solely to make as much money for the upper echelon of their operation as possible whilst ignoring the poisoning of the planet they live on. There are businesses that mask their true intentions by parading as religious institutions structured to inculcate the masses into their carefully prepared propaganda.

What is it about the human species that simply cannot accept Love as a pure essence of self? We place strictures and values and rules and taboos and shades and colors and judgment on what Love is until it no longer resembles what it was meant to be; the last Unified Field Theory of Life. Heinlein approached the mysticism of love through a character named Lazarus Long; and I finally found a handle on the strangeness of the male perspective of love through the eyes of this fictional character. Masculine nature quantifies desires and needs, theirs is a Universe defined by Order. The feminine nature knows intuitively that Love cannot be quantified and only temporarily defined; the true nature of Love is Chaos framed by Order until Chaos decides otherwise. Look at any household filled with children and the inescapable Truth of this is lovingly provided in everyday explosions of clothes, toys, pets, shoes and household chores done with an eye towards the activity of framing Chaos again. Androgyny stands in the middle of all of this Divine Drama and poses the eternal question mark of What The??

There are intersections and collisions of Chaos and Order, passion and tolerance, lives of despair and lives of fulfillment. These are the Threads that weave the human experience into the Masterpiece Declarative we live within. I just want to know why, with the majority of us that know the joy of what lives within our hearts, why we have chosen to express anything other than Chaos defined by temporary Order and described as Love.

In Truth, I’m struggling here.

Tums & Tarantulas


We all have demons to slay; those personal little horrors that sit quietly gnawing at the back corners of our sanity until common sense and equilibrium start leaking out of the hole in our souls. Such is grief when never properly allowed to be expressed, and if you came from a family that put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’ you can identify with this. As such, I’ve carried 3 camels worth of sorrow for my beloved best friend. Further, I’ve never found a way to process it; so, when in the flash of an instant it came crashing back over my psyche, I was a sobbing huddled-in-sorrow mess on the floor of my office.

For me, part of the healing process comes with writing about this unique friendship and the bizarre joys of our time as roommates. It was the eighties, I’d just barely escaped the clutches of an abusive husband and Mary had lost her previous roomie (a cousin) to job changes. Fate had us looking to move closer into town from the wilds of the suburbs, and as luck would have it, a rather fashionable townhouse had opened up just down the block from where I was working.

This was both opportune and serendipitous as not only was the grocery store within walking distance, should I choose to change my current employment situation, the metro stop was fairly close as well. I was working as an assistant credit manager and deposit clerk in an upscale department store, Mary was working as the educational liaison for a chain of nursing homes. We were both fairly happy in our positions and loved the proximity to entertainment, restaurants, etc. that our new home would provide.

The townhouse had a gated courtyard and a willow tree that I happened to adore with all the romantic bliss of the ignorant. It also had a fireplace; something Mary and I both insisted upon because hot cocoa and Grade B romance movies were a passion on those long Friday nights without dates. I’d taken the upstairs bedroom and en-suite bathroom, she’d chosen the downstairs. I loved my room with its lovely bay window shaded by the willow tree, she was happy with the room downstairs and its relative quiet as I was working long hours.

For the first six months, it was bliss. We’d have lunch together in the food court of the mall attached to the store where I was working when she was in town and we’d chat, laugh, and catch up on what was going on in our lives. Her job required travel no less than 4 days a week, so our lunch dates were special to both of us. We’d also plan out menus, shopping, movies, laundry, carpet shampooing, mundane household tasks, and when we could escape to go see her folks in North Texas. Her Dad had simply ‘adopted’ me as another kid in the family and when we went to see them, I had chores just like everyone else.

Then, early one spring morning I was pouring a bowl of Corn Flakes and discovered a very nasty buddy in my bowl; in fact, several. Cockroaches had infiltrated the cereal box and were feasting on my morning munchies. I’m not squeamish, but I squealed a very loud squeal of disgust. Mary’s howl of horror was not far behind. Then, when she went to open the refrigerator, several came flying out of the rubber seal of the door. We opened the cupboard doors under the sink and discovered a cavalcade of critters under there was well. She immediately called the 24 hours maintenance line and demanded extermination services.

For the next month or so, we were in chemical warfare against the little 6 legged invaders. We bought hermetic containers for any foodstuff that usually resided in a box, changed out canisters, and basically robbed the bastards of any foodstuff we could think of. Until, they broached the last bastion of our sanity. When deprived of any foodstuff humans normally consume, they turned to the electronic and proceeded to eat the plastics and coating within our video cassette player and television. Cry HAVOC!

We were at our wit’s end, eating lunch in the food court and were discussing everything from radiation to relinquishing the place we loved so much when, this tall rangy fellow from the exotic pet store comes over to our table and introduces himself. “Hey, there ladies! My name’s Clint, and I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and your problem and well – I think I have the solution.” Mary and I were stunned into silence with the sudden, unexpected introduction but nothing could have prepared us for Clint bringing a small terrarium with a HUGE brown tarantula in it around from behind his back and placing it right in the center of our lunch table. I immediately attempted to see how far my butt would fit in the large planter behind me and I remember Mary attempting to climb Clint like a tree in order to affect escape. Yes, there were the usual accompanying sound effects of squealing, screaming females.

Clint, in the process of prying Mary out of his hair and off of his person, remained nonplussed by our reaction and began calmly explaining that tarantulas give off a pheromone that sends roaches packing. We looked at one another; which one was going to do terrarium or rather terror-ium duty? Who was going to feed the eight-legged monster once he’d eaten every roach? How often do they pee/poo and what does cleaning up after a tarantula entail? We were not convinced that any amount of salesmanship was going to confer ownership of the spider to either of us. “Ok,” Clint sighed, “Ladies, look. I’ll loan you the tarantula for a month or two. I’ll even come over once a week to check up on him and see how he’s doing. Heck, I’ll even set the whole thing up.”

“Look,” Mary replied, “as long as you take care of that thing and neither of us have to do one thing that remotely involves removing the top of the container he lives in, we’re good. And DON’T get funny and slip in a pregnant female thinking it a joke because we WILL hunt you down!” Clint sorta turned a bit pale, but true to his word, that evening after the mall closed he came over and set up “Hairy’s” home in a corner of the galley kitchen of our townhouse.

A couple of nights later, we were curled up watching MASH and Mary looked with a funny glance at me and muted the sound on the television. “Do you hear a funny crunching noise?” She asked.

“Yeah, I do. Sorta like someone eating Frito’s.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“But, it sounds like it’s coming from the kitchen.”

“I ain’t going in there alone.”

“Me neither.”

“Come on, Roomie.”

“Oh, God! Ok.”

What we did not expect was to see something vaguely reminiscent of a 50’s science fiction thriller; Clint has set the terrarium up with a pickle jar lid of Cheerios in the corner. We’d assumed that this must be some sort of unknown treat for the tarantula, what the Hell did we know about tarantula diet? Nope, good ol’ ‘Hairy’ was crunching down on the cockroaches that nearly covered the small pile of cereal in the corner of his habitat, like a kid crunching on Cheezy Poofs. We would have screamed in horror, but the objects of our more immediate disgust were being permanently removed from our environs one juicy crunch at a time.

True to his word and ‘Hairy’s’ appetite, within six weeks the roach problem was reduced to the ‘damn near extinct’ level in the townhouse. Clint came over to take ‘Hairy” back to the pet shop, but Mary decided that as long as Clint would come over and “service” the beast we’d buy him and give him a home. Then, Clint gave us one more little trick to address the cockroach problem.

The fella was a good salesman because if he’d shown us this little trick, we might never have agreed to ‘Hairy’s’ presence. From a bag, Clint retrieved beer bottle caps. I asked, “What, we’d gonna get them drunk and toss ‘em out the door?” “Nope.” He grinned.

He placed a bottle cap next to the baseboards at the common wall between us and our neighbor’s townhouse. Then, out of his pocket he produced a roll of Tum’s antacids and he placed one in the bottle cap. “Now,” he smugly noted,” we wait.”  Within a minute or two, a cockroach came up from under the baseboards and began nibbling on the tablet. After a couple of minutes, the insect left the tablet, replete. It then began to walk across the carpet and it didn’t make it six inches before we heard a distinct “pop” and the insect jerked once and rolled over, dead. “Roaches can’t burp, ladies.” Clint calmly announced.

Mary would have fumed, but Clint was grinning such a gamine smile, she just threw her hands up in the air and for the next hour or so we were placing bottle caps with Tums tablets in them all over the townhouse. Granted, for a couple of nights the sounds of exploding roaches was a little unsettling, but we vacuumed up the conquered invaders with a sense of satisfaction that we were no longer engaging in hazardous chemical warfare, and we’d taken a homeless tarantula off the streets.

So, there you are. A little story that will forever remain in my heart about our escapades as roomies and how we simply didn’t give up the little townhouse we both so loved. Perhaps I also believe that in sharing this a wee bit of the grief that I’ve carried for 27 years has melted. Love ya’, Mur….

I Weave On Her Loom



What is it about being human that hurts so damn good and so damn bad at the same time? I ask this because, in a fit of that strange sanity that attacks me from time to time and kicks my arse into cleaning and organizing, I stumble over things like birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and old pictures that have me sighing in blissful joy or sobbing like baby. Perhaps, it’s also because the college kid is winging her way back to campus in about 24 hours more or less; and it’s always an emotional wrench to let her go.

On the other hand, there are the insane conversations that leave her father howling with laughter, trying to catch his breath and me blinking in confusion, “What did I miss?” It simply must have been hysterical on some level, because if I caught their eye throughout the day, the giggles and guffaws were painfully stifled. I’d like to say that I’ll promise revenge later, but I’ve also learned at the knees of Chaos that my chance to laugh like a madwoman at their foibles will come soon enough.

It’s been insanely crazy with the weather locally. When you consider that Kat left her winter clothes on campus because she was coming back to the locals of Texas for the Winter break, it’s been a bit of a stunner to awaken to a morning when the mercury on the back porch barely struggled to make it over 20 degrees. Oh to be sure, it gets better – her plane leaves tomorrow morning and the ever-so-rare event of threatened SNOW is a distinct possibility overnight.

This is Central Texas, folks. No one with any sanity dares to drive on the inevitable iced roadways. Personally, I’m convinced that this is a Universal slap-tickle because I refused to book any flights through Chicago O’Hare either way for our girl. I felt that no child of mine would be forced to sleep on the floor of a snow-bound airport and Truth be told, O’Hare gets more than their share of snow delays. Looks like the joke is going to be on me if ABIA is doomed to a weather delay.

In the mad stroke of domestic desire to clean and organize, I found my Josh Groban CD’s. (Yeah, whatever…I’m a shameless, hopeless romantic. I’m convinced we’re a dying breed, so I’m not going to make apologies.) Everything was going along swimmingly until I found a picture of my eldest child’s godmother at the same time that the CD reached the selection “To Where You Are.” It was emotionally devastating on the order of a 9.5 earthquake.

Mary was my beyond-best-friend/sister-by-a different-mister/anamcara (before I knew what the word meant!) We’d seen each other through really tough times, and she’d held my hand as I made those first tremulous steps of independence after an emotional and physically abusive marriage. Of course, those of us that find ourselves in that horrific quagmire usually find ourselves there again unless there is some drastic intervention. The genetic benefactor of my firstborn child was no exception; I’d seen him as a “Knight in Shining Armor” and he was in reality a “Rat Turd in A Tin Can.” In reality, when he abandoned the baby and me, she was angrier at him than I was! Because of health reasons, she was unable to conceive children, so the day I was able to place my daughter in her arms and name her godmother, her eyes shone so bright with tears of joy that I’d wished I’d been able to just give her the baby. She’d finally met and married a man that she loved to distraction before my daughter’s birth and the two of them loved to take my baby and spoil her rotten.

Life being what it is and having an equally generous hand with joy and sorrow, there was a phone call shortly before Christmas of 1987. I was going to take the baby down for a visit, and Mary had called to tell me that it would be better if I reconsidered the trip. Then, the gut punch – she’d been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She wasn’t clear with the stage, etc. She said she was going in for a hysterectomy and would do some follow-up chemotherapy; treating the diagnosis with an attitude of nonchalance. I, in turn, managed to keep the quaver of tears out of my voice until after we completed the call. Somewhere in our conversation, she’d mentioned that her chemo would finish up in early March. I promised her that I would plant King Alfred daffodils then; by the first week of March, they would be up and blooming. I would harvest them and bring them down as a celebration.

We’d touch base now and then, throughout her treatment and surgeries. I’d send pictures of the baby as she was growing, and Mary sent me a copy of the picture of herself and my daughter during happier times. The first weekend of March dawned foggy and cool, and I padded into the large kitchen at my parent’s house to start the morning’s coffee. After grabbing my housecoat, I stepped outside to make the long trip down the driveway to retrieve the newspaper. The small Arizona ash that I’d planted the daffodils around was awash in eye popping color. Not only had the daffodils bloomed overnight, but the Dutch irises I’d planted with them had bloomed early as well. The small garden was simply breathtaking in its bright, transcendent colors, and I was overwhelmed with joy. It was Saturday, and I could harvest these after breakfast and take them down to Mary today, remembering that her last round of chemo had completed the previous Thursday afternoon.

Somewhere around nine o’clock that morning, I was gathering the basket and the shears and the phone rang. There was a pause, then a deep breath on the other end. Then the voice on the other end informing me that “We lost Mary last night.” I was stunned in a silence of denial. NO. No. No. Everything within me screamed that this couldn’t be so. The daffodils were blooming, and the irises bloomed early. But, the strangled voice of the newly widowed husband on the other end of the phone assured me that he was in just as much shock as I.

On a morning so foggy you could have cut it, bound the edges and used it as a blanket, Mary’s ashes were scattered at sea with a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.” To this day, I cannot stand to hear even one measure. Part of my soul left to be eternally with the ashes of Mary, the elements of her earthly body returned to the Universe via the waters of the Mother.

On the other hand, her death spurred my own “bottoming out” so to speak because my use of barbiturates and alcohol accelerated until I found myself in an AA meeting by the end of May. I will always maintain that my best friend gave her life for mine, and no greater sacrifice can be given. However, the entire matter also spurs another windmill I tilt at until the Universe gasps its last erg of Light; that of healthcare for women.

Those of us who identify as female know on a gut level the inequality of care for our bodies by a medical system still slanted towards patriarchy. Our psychological health has long been treated with a “there, there” pat on the hand and prescriptions that do nothing to address the underlying self-hatreds, self-doubts, wounds from survival in a word-wide society that condemns most of us to a ‘less than’ status, and denies education to many. Women suffer genital mutilation, denial of pregnancy termination, denial of access to contraceptives and hormonal therapy. Endometriosis is a horrifically painful malady, and there are national figures that think the hormonal therapy needed to control the worst of the symptoms brands the woman using it as a “slut.” We are sexually shamed, our body images manipulated by greed, ignorance and stupidity. Additionally, we are asked to turn on one another should we counter this insanity with Truth; demanding that our passions be illustrated as feline or canid in their fury.

In summation, there is but one sentence to forewarn and advise those who listen: The Goddess is Awakened, and Her Will Be Done.


Behind “Home”

trail home


There’s been a ghost of an idea sitting on the back burner of my mind for a few days; more than just the usual ‘because’ that grants perpetuity in the writer’s mind. This niggling, this fomenting creation of firing synapses and fulminating neurons is much more than that. It’s a concept that is being borne out every day in some new way by hard science and prattled upon mercilessly by one guru or another.

In a very simple derivative, it is thus: all that we are is the summation of what is around us at any given time. We must needs be mindful of this at every moment or accept the consequences. Breaking this down into chunks or simple bits of digestible concept much like cold cereal follows. (Yes, stuff like this really DOES bubble around in my brain…maybe I should have had a bit more support in the educational realm.)

There now exists hard science that our bodies shed cells on a regular basis – we are ever in the process of becoming who we are on a regular daily, almost, cycle. Given this, stop for a moment and think. Where did your breakfast come from? Was it grown locally? Touched by the hands of a neighbor? Was it harvested by machine or by hand? Was it transported in a refrigerated truck far away from where it first saw sunlight? Did it sit in a warehouse waiting for its lot to be bid upon before moving on to a distribution center? Where does every iota of what you eat come from? Where are the hands that touched it in some form before you purchased it and brought it home to grace your oven, hotplate or microwave before it graced your plate and table? Do you know these people? Would you have them share your dinner with you? You do, you know.

Every time you eat, everything you eat has been touched by others in the process of here to there; unless of course, you grow and harvest every morsel of food you put into your mouth. So with this in mind, let’s track your day. Who grew the beans that were later harvested by another, transported by yet another, processed by an additional handful, roasted, blended and ground to be put into a container that found its way to your kitchen pantry and thus your coffee cup? Do you ever think to thank the blessed hands, hearts and minds of each person that touched the coffee you now drink? How about the hands of the laborers that went into making the coffee machine that brewed the beverage you now consume? Like it or not, we are all creations of energy; we expend it in myriad ways throughout our day, but we take it in likewise. The sum of each person’s touch is in every item of clothing we wear, every morsel of food we eat, the cars we drive. Our days, our world, our presence is literally filled to the brim with the essence of another – in fact many others.

When we allow Oligarchs and Plutarchs to rule, they seek to stifle, muffle, and silence the voices and the energies that make this energy exchange bright and joyous. Without the love of the land as expressed by a human farmer, the beauty and health of the wheat field loses something in the process of providing life-sustaining grain. Without the loving hands of those that prune, tend and harvest them, tomatoes seem to lose the vibrant flavor that dances upon our tongues and sings within the sauces and dishes that they later grace. Let us add the additional dimension of presence of place.

Many of us choose to live within an urban environment, some of choose instead to thrive well off of the beaten paths of civilization. Some of us live upon the water, and some of us have no door to close nor roof to shelter our heads. Wherever we find ourselves, we need be mindful of where we are for many reasons; the least of which was stated earlier – we change, we recycle, we regenerate our cells on a regular basis. The building blocks of who we are we must get from somewhere.

Think about this – think about it hard, for more than just the moment that you are taking to read this blog. Do you know the barista that made your coffee? Do you know the hands and heart of the person who crafted a cheese Danish for your consumption? Are you aware that the chicken that laid the egg you are eating may very well be living out her short miserable life in a 1 x 1 foot cage and force fed nutrients that do nothing more than force her to lay egg after egg?

There’s a very simple reason why home-grown tomatoes taste so good. The obvious reason is the vine picked freshness, but think of the joy and energy put into the plant with the daily watering and hand care received by the plant itself. But, you argue – I cannot raise the wheat that makes my bread, or the corn that goes into my tortillas, or the beef and fish and chicken that I consume. Maybe there’s another Truth you need to embrace and integrate. Are you within reasonable commute distance to a farm? Have you ever made an effort to get to know where your food comes from? When was the last time you kicked off your shoes and let your naked feet embrace the soil?

As a whole, we humans have forgotten our sense of tribe, our sense of unity with all things living and growing. We’ve neglected to remember our bodies crave communion with the earth our bodies are made of. We’ve forgotten the music of the winds, the waters, the hymns of feather, fur and scale. What’s even worse, we’ve convinced ourselves that wandering from place to place without discovering the “feel” of where we are is a ‘normal’ thing.

As a result, our children are numbed out with medication, we take pills to wake up, go to sleep, and keep our attentions focused on the production of mindless crap. We’ve neglected to embrace our elderly in a healthy manner and allow them to pass their stories to our young. We’ve failed to place adequate value in sound judgments that will stand the test of common sense and altruism. Further, and perhaps even more shameful, we refuse to govern ourselves beyond electing a sound bite and carefully packaged automaton whose sole purpose to exist is for the elite.

If we can, it is now past time to put our courage to the sticking place and take charge of change with both hands. If you only have one hand, make sure it’s your neighbor’s that you grab because like it or not, we’re in this together. None of us can single-handedly raise the food, shelter and transportation required of our lives; but we can remember and learn to accept as family those that can.

The “Me” generation was wrong; it is past time that “We” stand up, get over the petty issues, address the serious ones and move into our tomorrow – mindful of who we are, where we come from , and where we intend to go. At the very least, before you consume anything; eat food, pump gas, buy a piece of clothing, perhaps it would be a good thing to be mindful of the hands behind its creation – and give thanks.

At Year’s End

New Years celebration

Tomorrow is my 57th birthday. I still have no wish to “grow up” because to me, the next thing would be “growing old” and I refuse that judgment upon my person. I still believe in love, I still believe in the magic of those Unseen to affect beauty all around me, and I still believe (somewhat) in the goodness of the human race. I believe in romance; the kind that leaves you teary-eyed and breathless after a tender kiss. I believe in long-lasting relationships because the nature of love is compromise, care, comfort and consideration for one another. Oh, to be sure we all mix it up now and again to keep things fresh, funny and delightful to our beloveds.

I believe in reincarnation because I am very much a work-in-progress. It would be absurd, with all the flaws inherent in my being, to expect me to conquer them all in a single mortal lifetime. Especially if your lifetime has been foreshortened in a flash, with an unexpected crash. I believe in Wonder; because if I have forgotten what it looks like, all I have to do is find a four-year old to remind me.

When all the Ugly of this world descends upon me, all I really have to do is reach out to another. This has been the hardest lesson of all, because for years, I only interacted with others thru a narrow window of a bubble – refusing more than the scant contact of a phone call, a brief meeting in a small cubicle, the direct dryness of an e-mailed message. I wrote my stories at home, safely tucked away from the rest of the world in a 9 X 6 office, 30 miles from the nearest hub of human commerce. I liked it that way because those that deliberately looked for folks like me to harass, annoy, tease, belittle or outright bully could not reach me here; and I could illumine their souls with my limited understanding in the vain attempt to discover why they felt so compelled.

When you least expect it, Serendipity waves her magic wand and you find yourself bed-rest bound with a scary prognosis and an interminable wait for a follow-up CT scan and MRI. However, because of the Common Thread of Mercy, you also end up entertained by a lovely series of urban fantasy books. This was to be only the outside of the nesting dolls of discovery, but so little did I know.

Then, I discovered what a wonder a blog could be, and my eyes were sure to be as big as that four-year-old upon seeing fireworks from the top of a hay bale in a moonlit sky. Oh, the Universe wasn’t through with me, because then I had the joy of a writer’s retreat. Not before a near-complete meltdown, however. This little country mouse was secretly terrified of leaving her safe nest under the huge ash tree in the middle of the prairie. It took a lot of hand-holding, some serious acceptance of limitations and a warning of a bruised ego should she turn around and run back to the safety of the sun-dappled shadows, but Country Mouse not only navigated the airport and the rental car kiosk, but Chicago traffic and her own limited knowledge of getting maps to work on a smartphone.

There were some disappointments along the way as well; Google Maps is never accurate, hindsight is always better than gut-level panic, and re-think what you really need to pack before you have to schlepp it all over Creation. Learning your new limits or finding a new normal have been watch phrases for me; and in the spirit of being honest, not exactly welcome. The trade-off, because we do live in a Universe of Balance, is that I made some friends that have felt like they will and have always been a part of my heart.

The next stage of my life is a complete unknown – it’s like standing behind the curtain at an improv. You have no clue what you’re going to do, but you have a gut level feeling that you can wing it if you can just get over the fear factor. Every muscle in your body is both relaxed and tensed at the same time, your mind is racing and your breathing skips a bit along with your heart. However, there is that still, small voice telling you that “You. Got. This. You’ve had it your whole life. Now. Is. The. Time.”

To be sure, there is a wonderful happy part of me that is simply aching to share some good news. (I’m going to be published!) Of course, there is the part of me that simply wants the mess out of the house so she can sit down and finish writing some of the stories that fizzled to a whisper because of the distractions of crap she simply cannot abide! (Obsessive/compulsive, much?)

Here I sit, at the end. A sudden realization tearing my eyes; I am the only one with this voice, this perspective. Should I be too shy to sound out, the whispers of what I see will dim and face into the emptiness of Chaos, with no one to note that I even sat here at all. The fear of silence being more than the shyness of sharing a beloved’s touch on my neck, shoulders and the tentative kiss of “good morning” on a still sleeping face.

Soundtracks of a hundred movies sit in my queue, background music to a chattering brain flexing verbiage and feathered synonyms to paint the mind pictures. The window frames the sere grass overgrown for lack of a sufficiently powered mower to tackle the front acre. Naked limbs of crepe myrtle, mimosa, ash and tallow give depth to the framing, and within a golden pool of illumination, the fingers move and then still; here creation moves one phrase at a time.

Tomorrow, my heart will still waltz to an unheard tune, my eyes still looking for the miraculous, and my hands will still reach to learn that next, more difficult crochet pattern. Getting the brain to engage will always be the new challenge that the new normal has become, but I refuse to ‘grow up.’ No one ever said it that it was mandatory anyway; I prefer to grow better.

Mays the Bells of the New Year bless you and yours with their soul stirring chimes.

Gentle Hugs,



Takin’ Tater home….



On the Eve of Christmas Eve…..

This has not been the usual week of borderline sanity at home. First, the college kid is home for the winter break. The larder needs re-stocking as I’ve adjusted to just the Dane and me for edibles in the pantry, fridge and freezer. This will later reflect itself in “The Shopping Trip from Dante’s Acid” later. It also means that the cats, particularly Phucktard Phred, will be overjoyed that she’s back. For Phred it means that he get to be Protectorate Cat in Chief for “Kitty Mama Number Two” in exchange for nighttime warm snoozes at the foot of her bed. To show his appreciation the first night she was home, he dropped a half-dead, partially consumed gecko into her nearly-asleep cleavage. Knowing she would stampede the parental units if she screamed, she instead stifled her scream and upon retrieving the critter, tossed him under the bed to seek refuge. The following night, said gecko, still having a death-wish, dropped from the ceiling onto her shoulder. Keep in mind that we live in the sticks, anything from a scorpion to a drunken bat could have fallen onto her shoulder, thence to climb into her hair. Of course, this is the child that KNOWS better than to stampede the parental units with nighttime drama unless the need is acute; rather than give into the bone-numbing fear whatever-it-was invoked, she chose to lift a trembling hand to discover that Mr. I-Have-No-Tail-Because-Of-The-Cat Gecko had returned. With bravado unheard of in my offspring heretofore, and knowing full well that scarcely three nights previous there was a rattlesnake out there, she takes the gecko outside to the back porch. It’s our expected protocol for most critters, this “catch and release.” It was protocol for the children during camping trips as well, but that’s a whole different post. The now-tailless gecko goes his merry way and Phred’s place as a foot-of-the-bed guardian Lion-Cat is assured.

Today is unusual as it’s the re-scheduled day for my weekly visit to the therapist. When I get to her office/home, she’s still half asleep and in a robe as she was up until 3 am filing the paperwork for my insurance claim. It seems that yet again, the paperwork process has changed and she now needs to re-submit 3 months’ worth of my visits on a new online system that is more difficult to navigate than the IRS website and just as glitchy. She has the patience of a saint, and I just move to a small settee for our weekly chat as she fixes herself coffee, toast and we just do our usual visit in unusual surroundings. In the end, it works out better because dealing with change has always been a bit of a sticking point with me, and I needed her as a sounding board to deal with the trauma of the precious day’s shopping nightmare. But the frustration of dealing with the new filing system is evident in our visit. I ask myself; are all my primary medical contacts going to have to deal with this, as well? Honestly. If this is your “new normal”, quit calling yourself “insurance” and adjoin the proper description of your function as “protection racket.”

However, it was back to dealing with the insanity of shopping this close to a major holiday and children being allowed to run rampant in a very, very busy retail setting. This was not apparent in in one store but in all three that we visit in order that acquire the makings for not one, but two costumes as both the Dane and Kat are doing costume play (cosplay) at IkkiCon this year. My agoraphobia kicked in hard and all I wanted to do was bend physical laws and reach light speed to return home. I was grateful to get home, but both Kat and I were not in doing well for mental stability. The noise, the frenetic activity and the hostility from other shoppers twisted our experience into a visit into Dante’s psyche.

Soon enough, our time is over and I am driving home; food for thought growling around in my brain as it always does after these sessions and as I make one of the final turns to come home, in the middle of the road is a black bloodhound. He looks totally lost and completely thrilled to be seeing a human being; his tail wagging so hard it affects his back legs in the thump, thump, thumping of a joyful dog. I put the car in park, and go to open my door and see if I can get close to him; close enough to see if the tags on his collar could give me an idea as to who he was and where he belonged. The back country road he was traversing was NOT a safe place for two-leggers, much less four-leggers. As I exit the car, the dog sees his opening and jumps right in! He then jumps into the rear seat and starts to nose the cold window glass, I roll down the window for him, and he sits down as if fully expecting to go on a road trip. He was so excited, that I couldn’t get a grip on his collar and I made the decision to take him to the house and engage the assistance of the college kid. As we near the top of the ridge, the animal decides to engage in what bloodhounds do best, bay and howl. What the Hell, I figure, I’ll just howl with him. He was startled into silence the first time I answered his howl with one of my own. Until that is, he did it again. We were making sweet mountain music all our own all the way to the homestead.

We drive down the long driveway onto the acreage and George decides to join in with his own unique ‘bark from the balls’ addition to our chorus. From the time that George put his nose up to greet the bloodhounds’, a friendship begins to bloom; and frankly it was inevitable. Both are big, black dogs, both have distinctive voices, and both are just damned goofy. Kat helps me dog-wrangle the bloodhound and I get the vet’s phone number from his tag. I place a call and discover that a.) His name is “Tater” and b.) He lives about 3 miles from us. I get his owner’s phone number and his ‘critter-mama’ answers the phone. ‘Tater’ has been a bad boy and dug out of his yard again to go ‘visitin’ the neighborhood. I’m watching Tater and George sniff and play with each other as I’m making arrangements to get Tater back to his owners when I hear a strange yelp and see the college kid suddenly fall over laughing. Apparently in his way of sayin’ “Howdy!” to Tater, George put his cold, cold nose on Tater’s warm boy dog parts; the resulting vertical 3 foot leap and startle howl/yelp being of particular hilarity. In the meantime, the Dane has been awakened from his slumbers by the howling and the happy cannonade of bark from George. “What th’ Hell is that gawd-awful noise?” he stagger bellows from the hallway. It was almost a sudden verbal blow that my beloved would find the sweet bay of a bloodhound a ‘gawd-awful noise’ – never has our disparate childhoods been a factor in our relationship. Upon hearing my answer once more, the Dane grumbles from the darkened hallway, “The answer is ‘Hell to the No!’” My heart quavered a little, but I also realized that feeding TWO of George would require a bit more income or the graduation of a child from an institution of higher education.

Kat and I pile into the car and open the back door of Jean-Luc d’Cube for Tater. He jumps in and no sooner than Aerosmith starts thumping from the stereo but he begins to happily howl again. I can just hear the Dane in the house begin the growl and grumble over the joyful noise. I’m starting to get an evil idea that begins with a dark chuckle. Up and over the ridge and we’re back down the long, long country road the leads out of the back of beyond where the home front is. Soon we pull up to the mailbox that denotes the address of Tater’s owners, and sure enough there’s a young man waiting in a pickup truck for our arrival. Tater jumps out and then can’t make up his mind which vehicle he wants to be a part of. The young man is desperately trying to get Tater’s attention aimed in the general direction of the open cab of the truck. It take a bit of effort to wrangle 90 pounds of excited bloodhound to jump into the truck, but it’s managed with only a little bit of frustration and a lot of ignoring the tail-wagging excited baying howls. Later, Tater….I think I feel the addition of “play-dates” for George.

However, in tiniest corner of my heart, I am planning the addition of a bloodhound to our homestead. I realized what I missed in not having the sweet music of a happy howling bay to greet me home and howl with. No, the Dane has no clue; then again, he’d probably find me an early entrance into an old folk’s home if he had a clue that the addition of my dreamt of “Boudreaux” will also include the addition of a mule, too.tater

A Yuletide Pagan Primer for the non-Pagan



Time and again I’ve posted on Facebook and elsewhere NOT to wish me a “Merry Christmas” please, I’m not Christian. I don’t say it to sound mean or callous or Goddess-forbid engage in some feeble minded attempt to make war on a holiday held sacred by others. I’m simply asking that a level of civility be observed and to please extend to non-Christians the same courtesy extended to Jews, Muslims, and other non-Abrahamic individuals. In return, I’ve been asked “What DO you observe?”

I am only timidly going to stick my toe in the Pagan waters here, because I can only speak for our Druidic tradition and some of the Wiccan and Asatruar traditions that we share hearthkin with. Ah, yes…I can see that some definitions are going to be in order as well.

Shall we jump in? Primarily there are as many Pagan traditions as there are stars in the sky – and probably just as many variations in Druidry, Asatru and Wicca, so this is not gospel. It is a generality and should you have a burning desire to know and question that you just have to have answered, feel free to ask. Likewise, if I don’t have the answer, I can usually point you in a solid direction for where to discover the answer. is a likely resource, but not the final answer by any means.

Let us start with “community” – this is not as cohesive (although a crap-ton of us wish it were) or as inclusive as the word suggests. “Loose confederation” is closer, more holes that your granny’s doily is a better description. This mutually-agreed upon truce betwixt and between traditions and spiritual paths tends to generate a consensus gathering for most, if not all of the 8 “Holy Days” that revolve around an agricultural/astronomical calendar. Neither are the dates ‘set in stone’ per se. Because of a large amount of religious bigotry still running unleashed and rampant in a good part of America, most Pagani tend to utilize “the weekend closest to” the actual date/day/time for observance.

Let us also add an additional warning here. Because of the aforementioned problems with the distinct lack of general acceptance, if you’ve made an acquaintance of an individual that follows The Old Ways, please keep that information to yourself, unless that individual has acknowledged to you that they are “Out Of The Broom Closet” with regards to their spirituality. It’s a big no-no to expose someone who could very easily lose their job, their home, their children, their school funding or even their lives. No, I’m not going over the top here. It’s happened.

OK, definitions. “Heartkinship” – this is an established relationship between two separate groups of pagani; sometimes, two covens or circles, sometimes Druid and Wicca, sometimes Asatru and Druid. There is an agreed upon joint relationship for observance, prayer, feasting, even extending to informal fosterage of children during the summer months or sometimes during the school year. Yes, my family and I fostered our girls with an Asatruar hearth and likewise accepted their children into our household. It works very well when there are shared values and morals, with shared goals and expectations of the children involved. The benefits are amazing all around; but the trust and ability to compromise required of each side promotes a level of maturity that is admirable. Once upon a time, when there were extended families that knew each other just as well, informal fosterage was simply a given status. Modern America has lost something it could do well to rethink and regain.

‘Ghosti’ or Guestright – this is the set of acceptable behaviors between guest and host that stretches back into time. In a nutshell, it describes what is expected of a good guest; no breaking of the good china, lamps or host’s bones, no wrecking of the house, cars or property, no allowing the remainder of the household to come to harm through action or inaction on your part. In exchange, your host is expected to grant you a meal free from poison, vermin or inordinate gossip, a place to sleep should you require it, and a bath should you need one. Additionally, protection from anyone who would harm you while within the boundaries of their property is also an expectation. It sounds so simple, and yet too many times the members of the pagan community have seen both guests and hosts wreck the parameters of appropriate behavior on the order of a sleazy talk show.

As much as I hate to illumine the single underlying cause of the majority of these rampages, it must be outlined that alcohol can breed just as much antipathy as cheer. Setting firm expectations/boundaries with guests is a welcome foundation that can insure many happy holidays to come – be they Pagan or not. Oh yes. One more item. Set firm boundaries with regard to sex and sexual behavior. If you’re going to have a grown-up party, act grown-up and discuss consensus and protection.

Ah, so you’ve been invited to “circle” or “ritual” – Chances are the person that invited you will inform you of their particular traditions with regards to dress, time to show up, etc. Want to impress the person who invited you or officiates at the ritual? Bring a bottle of mead, or good wine, or something to eat. Clueless as to what would be appropriate? Do a bit of research on the ritual being observed. Many of the Full Moon/Dark Moon observations are closed – which means “no one outside the immediate group unless permission has been given.” So, if you are invited to a Holy Day observation, (one of the Big Eight) you’re going to be there with others who are likewise clueless or are attending their first event. Accommodations should have probably been made for your presence. Relax, keep an open mind and enjoy. Participation in the event is always voluntary, save for a preliminary ‘smudging’ or cleansing. Never be afraid to ask your host/hostess about appropriate attire, what to do once inside circle, if you can ‘sit this one out’ and where, etc.

What is this “Yule” thing anyway? For our hearth, Yule, is an ancient Germano-Celtic tradition that celebrates the return of the Light and is observed from sunset the day before the Winter Solstice to sunset the day of the Solstice. An hourly vigil is kept at the Hearthfire by the Yule Log to insure blessings to one and all that come to observe, offer prayers and seek blessings. There are some that keep an all-night vigil when seeking wisdom of importance. While there is gift-sharing, it is minimal and observes a protocol of “one gift to Share Your Light” (i.e. an artist receives expensive brushes, a chef receives a prized carving knife, etc.) There is often story-telling (the cycle stories of Munster, the Children of Lir, etc.) and there is often a recounting of the year’s events similar to Samhain.

At midnight, every light is turned off, the fire is ritually tamped out, and a new fire re-kindled upon the ashes of the old, with the exception of the Yule Log. Additionally, the Yule Log is never allowed to burn away completely; one piece of the log is saved to use to kindle the next year’s Yule Log, else the family line dissipate never to be spoken of or remembered again. Usually, only “hearthkin” (kindred accepted by rite) are allowed to share Yule as they are familiar with and answer to the traditions of “ghosti” or guestright. (This is a complicated set of traditions that have to do with hospitality – how to behave as a guest and/or host.) We usually roast a ham, a brisket and a salmon to offer on the table for the main feast. There’s baked apples, sometimes a roast goose, it all depends on a.) what we can afford and b.) what we can get at the butcher’s. It’s very different from Christmas, but very family oriented.

By far, this isn’t an in-depth description…because there is so much more. The names of all whom I’ve sent Yule cards to will be recited at the Hearthfire in order that the Exalted Ones extend a Blessing to them. There are bayberry candles that adorn the altar (for prosperity – “A bayberry candle burned down to the socket brings health to the family and gold to the pocket.”) Mistletoe is carefully hung over doors, holly and pine over windows (to honor the Ancestors & the Shining (Fae) Ones) and often the kitchen and pantry is ritually cleansed with salt & mint to keep pests away, the floor cleansed with herbal tinctures and homemade soap….It’s a JOB…but the laughter, the sense of community and the camaraderie makes it so worth the effort!

Yule is probably the one Holy Day wherein we open the hearth and door to any who care to share because we feel it’s only right to Share in the Light. To us, sharing the sacred with others connects us to them in a way that no other form of communion can. When you share a meal, a ritual observance, stories and song, you being to understand another person’s perspective, and their lives begin to have worth and value to you. A common understanding goes a long way towards acceptance and inclusivity.

Blessed Yule, Y’all…..from our Hearth to Yours.

The Message – Huh?


Its 4:40 on a Monday morning and by all rights I should be back in bed, recuperating from a gnasty sinus infection. Hat’s off to ragweed and mold; your attempt at my demise was a near miss this year. Somewhere in the night, I kicked off both socks and between my cold feet and empty tummy, the sleep cycle threw in the towel. Did I mention the softly snoring warm husband within arm’s reach? Happily for me, there are clean socks in my dresser, a bowl of cereal and enough milk to quiet the tummy for now and even a pot of coffee should I care to make it. I am blessed to have a door to shut, a fridge and a pantry with enough to eat, and clothes to cover this fragile human body. I am lovingly (perhaps) endowed with an Internet connection and the technological wherewithal to connect and even e-publish my thoughts on a blog.

If I look at this bounty in wonder, I need to also look at the threats to access being considered, if not already enacted by certain legislative and governmental bodies worldwide. Our basic human need to express ourselves in our own unique individual way is a basic freedom still denied to many for reasons selfish, pathetic and archaic. If you don’t like hate speech, you don’t have to listen. If said same speech is being broadcast, public pressure on the businesses that buy the advertising to make the broadcast possible is a good way to make your point – so is social shunning. It has worked before, and human beings are social creatures; shunning hurts.

Misrepresentation is a fancy word for lying. Americans have lost our backbone and our ethical compass when we allow what passes for news to become a bully pulpit for the “haves” pointedly ignoring or shaming the “have not’s.” Once upon a time, it was considered anathema to present any newsworthy item without the due diligence and research required for both sides of any issue. We also took pride in a work ethic that we desired to pass along to our children, along with a sense that justice was a guarantee if you were a law abiding citizen.

Some really ugly stuff has gotten in the way of what used to be Our Shining Glory – maybe it wasn’t so shiny after all. Maybe those ugly parasites of greed, racism and insecurity never really died off; they were simply buried under a mountain of white bread patriotism, force fed to us by those who were under the mistaken impression that “they knew better.” Questioning every step we make used to be a proud American tradition; this is before partisan politics made a mockery of our system of political representation.

To simply say “Shame on you, you should know better” is no longer appropriate because if you take a long, hard look at the entire matter, we no longer know better. We have become an “idiocracy” – allowing those with the least amount of foresight and wisdom to govern our daily affairs. In truth, we also allowed our government to be purchased and influenced by massive amounts of monies from multinational business concerns that simply use their influence to do what they wish and as they will in a country that made their conception and bounty possible.

So, in the nature of True American Spirit and Parenthood, I’m going to raise the flag here. Anyone remember the saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world?” Do you really want that precious life you care for, nurture and protect to grow up to be a hate-spewing, narrow minded bully? Whether born to you or adopted, that life was not presented into the world with a foreknowledge of exclusion. Those tiny hands were never intended to deliver a killing blow to another living creature save for the purposes of providing food. Those tiny feet were never intended to crush the neck of another human being in rage and anger. Let’s take this one step further. If you never intended to be a parent, why did you opt to bring that life into the world through ejaculation or conception?

Ok, I’ll admit – this was a complete crap-ton of heavy thought for what should be a happier time of the year. However, this is also a time for reflection. Each of us holds an immense amount of power within us, whether we want to admit it or not. Incredibly wise ones amongst us have acknowledged this in not so many words. Don’t think that you have to be an oligarch to change the world, it doesn’t cost a single cent to change your mind and approach a problem with a totally different response than the one you had yesterday.

The hubby and I made a conscious decision to “share the Light” this year in our own way. We purchased Yule cards with a quote we appreciated and a message we created. Little seeds of change, bread crumbs spread upon the waters of thought. It was an investment, to be sure. There is no sure way of measuring the return, and we agreed that there doesn’t have to be. The very fact that the intent was put forth, the energy spent, pretty well guarantees that there will be some movement somewhere; the Universe is not a stagnant pond. It is not the single motion that moves the boulder.

May you and yours find a way to poke a stick of positive energy, prayer, good intention towards those things that are keeping the human race from its best and highest potential. I’ll be there with you in spirit, if not in deed.

Gentle hugs.

The Spirit of Things


I’m not really exactly sure when I came to grips with that part me that others term as “spirit” but I can tell in a heartbeat if someone else is grappling with the idea of self-versus-Self. As a child I heard the magic of butterfly wings and raindrops, I remember the whispered wisdom of things that grow and go versus those things that have been here forever. There’s a sigh in the summer breezes that speaks of yawning tree branches and the deep coolness of spring-fed waters. Likewise there is a hollow echo to the chill winds of winter that aches with the absence of activity as all life slumbers.

This is not a consciousness that demands identity and labeling, this is a sense of self that requires a simple acceptance to freely express as whole and holy. There are no human words when the inner self needs to fly on wings that are not expressed as feather and tendon. There likewise is no language to paint with that captures a spirit in mid-dance. When that sense of what is eternal by sheer chance happens upon another whose dance is likewise free and uninhibited, “Love” is too small a term to embrace the sudden explosion.

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we come across the one person that makes the Whole of It real. I was lucky enough to have a person like this in my life; I call her “My Spiritual Mother.” Mama Donna came into my life just after I’d cleared the fog of the first three years of sobriety. She listened as I puzzled out where my Heart was, what my Spirit needed, and at the same time was unafraid to show where she was wandering so that others could learn along the Way, as she was doing. She showed me by example that Life was not about sitting on the sidelines, but jumping in on the Dance. Just to show me, she did; arms flung wide, one foot above her graying hairline and her heart open to all the Universe. I will ever remember her just as the photo captured, that “Woo-Hoo!” moment.

I remember when, in a moment caught off guard, she asked me what my ‘special stone” was and without hesitation, the wiser part of me jumped in front of my mouth and said, “Lapis lazuli, because it captures the stars.” She very steadily looked into my eyes and replied, “When you find that piece that is yours, send it to me and I will make something for you.” In a moment of serendipity some time later, there was a vendor at a city-wide event that had a beautiful disc of lapis in her stall and she sold it to me, along with some other pieces at a rock bottom price. Of course, I’d totally forgotten about Mama Donna’s advice until she lovingly reminded me again.

The unexpected thing about serendipity is that it never fails to bring home a lesson that will etch itself upon your heart for all time. I sent Mama Donna the lapis, and a month or so later, this beautiful pendant came to me in the mail, gold wire wrapped. What I didn’t notice (silly child that I am) was that there was a rune woven into the wrap – ‘sowelu’ – the Sun, wholeness and completeness. A sum of all that was, is, and shall be. It is a sobering reminder to me, now and again, that everything I need is at my hands – not everything that I want.

I’m still searching to ‘find my way’ and I suspect that this will be the status quo for quite a while until I can deal with the majority of the ghosts and terrors that haunt my waking and sleeping hours. Even turning your deepest anger into a fiction sometimes fails to slay the demons of memory; I cannot fathom the inhumanity visited upon one another our race perpetrates.

Within all of the lessons handed down to me this year wrapped inside the cloak of therapy is the stark reality that we are all more than the sum of what we do. What we do on a day to day basis is not the totality of the definition of our individual being, and when we allow such, we are in danger of losing that precious essence of self.

Here we are again, just past the edge of the cliff known as the Holiday Season. It’s enough to make me want to scream “Grow your own wings! FLY! Don’t follow the path of the lemming in front of you!” We tend to be herd animals, although. Be that as it may, I love and support those of us that have found a way NOT to go along with the herd – eschew the typical Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness, toss the idea of the usual gathering of relatives into the blood sport of dysfunctional verbosity, and find a new way to celebrate what they consider special and holy no matter what time of the year. Some of us even open our hearts and doors to others related only by virtue of species, because after all is said and done, we are all related.

In the Spirit of All Things, I challenge you to find another way this year. We each carry a bit of ‘sowelu’ within ourselves; we each have all that we need, not all that we want – we simply have to learn to ask and having asked, gratefully accept. The Light that we hold holy at this time of year is with us all year long. We simply need to learn to remember this, and carry a bit of it forward each day to share with each other. The road is not so long nor quite as lonely when we share the steps with one another.

Blessed Yule, y’all.

The Home Front


I never intended to raise a house full of girls. In fact, I think I can remember several occasions where I apologized for not giving my husband a boy to carry on his name. His answer was, “Have you SEEN my side of the family? We’re good.”

Be that as it may, just because there were females under the roof does NOT mean that there was a quiet, happy joy within the walls. Nope. No doubt there are Marine barracks full of rowdy males that were QUIETER and more sanitary than our home. From “fairy houses” of sticks, stones and mud to chickens (yes, I said CHICKENS) and the occasional kitten, there was always some sort of Chaos bubbling just under the surface of what appeared to be normalcy.

From birth, my girls were just itching to be into everything. Not a single one of them waited until their first birthday to walk, no run. At about 6 months, the urge to merge into bipedal freedom rose up along with their diapered little backsides. By 9 months of age, it was time to grab onto the curtains and cruise the furniture until “SURPRISE!” balance and locomotion made that little connection and it was time to run Mother ragged with squeals of glee and baby chuckles.

The firstborn had 3 acres and a pecan tree stump to wander over as she toddled into childhood from infancy. Not that she didn’t find enough mischief to get into; but dandelions were so much FUN to blow into her Papaw’s beautifully manicured St. Augustine lawn. A span of 8 years and then she had a sibling to join in on the domestic affairs, but Kat, the middle child, decided that living in the cupboards with the pots and pans was infinitely more enjoyable than just blowing dandelions into the manicured greens of the townhouse community we lived in.

Two years later and the last of the Celtic Warrior Queens Reincarnate came aboard just in time to celebrate with fireworks, watermelon and 100 degree temperatures in a very rural setting. We welcomed our first Great Pyrenees into our lives at the same time and of course he aided and abetted the baby’s first steps. What child could resist all that long white fur and gentle nature?

It appeared that the stage was set then, for all the antics and memorable moments to come. The move back into city life and the tiny apartment that barely managed to contain all the life within. The Yule tree that came with its own Squirrel; which didn’t reveal itself until the Dane was cutting off the 8 inches off the top to make it fit and managed to cut off the tip of his thumb when the squirrel made a panicked attempt at retreat down his body length. It gets better, the squirrel managed to find a way OUT of the apartment under the kitchen sink, but not without disturbing the bat that was sleeping/hibernating in the exit. When the sink door was opened to retrieve the dishwasher detergent, the bat fled the confines of the cabinet and all females of the household ran screaming for the relative safety of the master bedroom. This left Sir Bloody Thumb to capture the menace and expel such from the dwelling, immediately with no further assistance from the royal residents. You could almost HEAR his wish to fly free with the creature as he released it into the clear blue skies of a Texas twilight from the bat capturing shoebox.

The next move came with a backyard, an 8 foot privacy fence and a beautiful willow tree. It also came with the youngest daughters being ever-so-eager to go camping disappearing into the dark of a Yuletide Eve with a laundry bucket, their pillows, cans of food, but “No sharp knives, Mama!” The local constabulary were left with a Christmas story and had them all chuckling into their coffees the next morning as the paperwork was written and filed. There are also pictures of children wallowing in the mud of a drainage ditch where the only way their parent could discern lineage was by the blue of their eyes. Mad posse’s of children on bicycles when they weren’t at the neighborhood elementary also framed these years; as did the first of many sleepovers with children piled into heaps of air mattresses and blankets on my living room floor. This was where the practice of counting heads for pancakes began on those Sunday mornings way back when.

The next move would be marked by fields of bluebonnets accompanied by a little Welsh Corgi that had joined the household before the previous move, but now he was in his true element as the duplex bordered on a cattle holding. Retrieving Gizmo would become a household chore until a sane way of bolstering the fence line could be established.

Then, the eldest child graduated high school and was about to discover college. Time, it seemed had flown by all too quickly. True, there were two more daughters to get through the system, but this event telescoped the eventual happenings for the younger children. Once more, it was time to move. This time, into a house.

We were to lease/purchase a beautiful, two story home on what appeared to be a quiet cul de sac. Never doubt that appearances are deceiving, especially on a deal that seemed too good to be true. But, this was the house where the youngest child would set the sofa on fire with her laptop’s power brick and send her sisters screaming “FIRE” into our once quiet bedroom. This would be the home and final resting place for “Midnight- the Wonder Chicken.” This would be the home for what would become the starting set of kittens that grew into the “Crazy Cat Lady’s Starter Kit” I now know, love, feed and protect. This would be the home wherein I would watch a 20 pound Corgi ‘tree’ a 190 lb. electric meter reader up a 12 ft. oak sapling. This would also be the home that we would lose because of the shiftless, worthless lying greed of a ‘real estate investor’ and his inability to make the mortgage payments we’d been sending him for over 4 years.

I’d planted roses here, raised young girls into young ladies who attended their first proms here. Welcomed with open arms the eldest child back into the fold when a lying consort had beaten her and crushed her dreams. I planted morning glories and moonglow vines. I’d established an herb garden on the front porch, had plans to paint the bedrooms, created our first office, and managed to find a job that I could hang onto during the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. Now, with a single knock at the door and a visit from a confused Wells Fargo representative, it was going to be gone. Where was I going to shelter my daughters?

It all turned out better in the end, in its own way. Cat’s Paw Acres is not much; just 2.5 acres and a singlewide mobile home with a built on addition and a HUGE back porch, all covered by a wonderfully massive tin roof. In the past 5 years, we’ve made incredible memories here; the middle daughter’s High School graduation, but not before that fateful morning one late April afternoon when she received her acceptance letter into Cornell College. Then there was Batu, the wedding anniversary yak (an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees puppy) who grew into a 150 lbs of lap dog. And last, the youngest daughter asking to go live with her godfather in California, thinking that he wouldn’t be as restrictive as Mom and Dad.

Before I knew it, the homestead is quiet. I can hear the winds sigh through the ash tree, the crepe myrtles, and the ligustrums. I’ve perfected the art of watching grass grow. I miss the insanity of having children underfoot. I miss waking up to piles of children between the Dane and myself. But I’m beginning to understand the term ‘golden years’ because like the golden light of autumn, while there may be some bad memories back then, they’ve faded with the light of happier times.