Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let The Light Shine Through


We gathered with friends tonight, old and new, and made cookies. I won the 'how quick can you make the cookies' unofficial contest because I make a no bake chocolate oatmeal peanut butter cookie (my family has called them bull____ cookies for forever) that took me all of 15 minutes. My wife's sugar cookies took the entire afternoon and evening - it's the decorating that takes all the time...

I had plenty of time to sit and ponder the things around me. I watched a bit of football, but not being an avid fan, it only held my interest for short spurts. When my friend brought out his latest shot glass in his collection, my mind turned on. It is a fully leaded crystal shot glass with a small glass ball in the bottom of it. That glass, in combination with their Christmas tree just lit up my brain.... I give credit to Dr Sheila Cason (www.drcason.org) for the thought process entering my brain as she has a contest on her site now - All About The Holidays.

I then spent sometime underneath their Christmas tree, taking photos. This was my favorite ornament on their tree:
Thank you Sheila for turning my brain on to this!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Through the looking glass


I got in my truck this morning and was initially annoyed at the ice on my windshield. But then I looked at it. It was so beautiful, I couldn't resist getting my camera and taking pictures. I only took 3 pictures but it was hard to tell if they were coming out okay, so I stopped there. Now that I see how they turned out... next icy morning I will take more!

I never reailzed how much opportunity for beauty winter could offer. This winter I am definitely seeing the beauty all around me!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Snowy Tree

Winter weather may be here, but this tree is hanging onto fall with all of it's might.. those leaves are just not ready to fall....

Tenacity... it serves well

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our First Snow day




The snow is falling, the snow is falling....

This is our first day in the snow at our house.... it is fabulous!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rabbit in a tree

There is a long, bumpy, dirt road out in the middle of seemingly nowhere. It twists and winds and goes up and down and along the way there is the most beautiful scenery. I have travelled this road many times for searches and this spot never ceases to amaze me.
Every time I drive by there is SOMETHING in this tree. Elmo(he was stolen quickly), a stuffed bear, a stuffed dog... and this day, a rabbit. And other than the day Elmo was there and was stolen, I have never seen this tree empty. I have seen one thing early in the day and another by the end of the day... but always, something.

Interesting, eh?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Flying

One of the really cool things I got to do in Mexico was parasailing. Once I got past the "I know too much about ropes and shock loads and is this rope really okay?" I just enjoyed myself. I was please to see that they used autolocking carabiners...

It was fantastic. It was beautifully silent way up above the ocean. I could feel the wind, I could watch the ocean and I was simply flying. I kept looking into the ocean to see if I could see fish (I didn't). I don't think I ever stopped smiling while I was up there. It was an awesome experience. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall is here


These are the last three leaves on a tree next to my driveway. Fall is here. Still having 70+ degree days however, tricking you into thinking a bit of spring.
And this flower helps to keep the illusion of spring going.

Times, they are a changing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lost in the ocean


I spent a lot of time on this beach. All my life, whenever I went to the beach the ocean was pretty to look at but don't touch cuz ---- BRRRRRRR it would be just so freakin cold. This time was the first time I fell in love with the water. In fact, one night I sat down and just let the waves wash over me, over and over again, lounging in the fantastic feel of the warm water. I spent time just feeling the waves tug and pull at me... trying to take me out to sea. I knew it wouldn't succeed, but it was a good massage. It felt like a luxurious spa treatment. I never wanted it to end.

These two looked as lost in the ocean as I felt so I couldn't resist this shot. I had spent a lot of time both before and after this photo looking out into the ocean ... and letting go. I watched the waves come in with such fury sometimes. And then watching it all settle and calmly flow in and out. And the cycle repeated over and over again.


Kind of like life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunset and moonrise

The photo was taken on the beach at Cabo San Lucas outside our resort. I didn't realize that the full moon was rising behind me.
It would have been cool to have taken pictures of the sun setting and the moon rising simultaneously...

Always remember to look behind you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Candle in Cabo


This is something I saw in several places in Cabo. There was one at one of the restaurants we ate at and this was in a shop on the marina. The simply replace the candles, but let the wax do what it wants and build on itself. It was pretty cool to see.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cabo Crabs


I affectionately called these my Crab Buddies.... they were abundant! It seemed whatever rock I climbed up I was interrupting a huge Crab party! It was fun to settle and watch them do their work along the rocks. It was also fun to watch them run sideways...

more to come!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Travelling



I couldn't resist taking these pictures on my way home from Cabo San Lucas. This is from the plane as the sun set on the horizon...the colors were that vivid.

More photos to come.. I took over 500!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rejected

I have never considered myself terribly political, but this year has been different for me.

For the first time there was a ballot measure that would take away a right of mine. I was elated when that right became a reality, and I was angered that there were people out there that wanted to eliminate that right for me. I took a real interest in this ballot measure. I stood up for myself. I stood up for my friends and the community I am a part of. It felt right.

With many others in my community, I spent time standing on a street corner trying to raise awareness regarding the ballot measure. I had people calling me faggot. I had people calling me queer. I had people flipping me off. I watched as children were told they were going to hell for supporting their parents in this fight.

I was dismayed at the blatant hatred. I realize I put myself out there. But these people didn't know me. They didn't know if I was gay or straight, a parent or just a supporter of civil rights. They just assumed that I belonged to 'that' lifestyle and saw no problem displaying their hatred to me.

Be careful who you hate. It may affect someone you love.

That was a slogan during this campaign and I wish it had been brought more to the forefront of the campaign, because maybe people might have thought harder about their vote.

Upon hearing the results this morning about Proposition 8, I was angry.
What an unbelievable rejection of civil rights today. I feel betrayed and personally hurt because I know that people in my life voted yes on this measure. I was furious. What was I furious about??? So many people were willing to believe outright lies in order to justify their hatred and their ignorance. So many lies were put out there about what gay marriage meant to EVERYONE ELSE, and so many people believed them. Children being taught about same sex marriage in Kindergarten? REALLY??? What I remember about kindergarten is being humiliated by my teacher because she had a parent teacher conference with my mother because she was concerned that I couldn't jump rope!!! Even after the teachers associations said that that would not be mandated and that localities dictated what children get taught, the lies went on. Even when clearly stated that IF it was to be taught in school programs, that parents would have an opt out ability, when the Yes side lied about that, people believed it. On and on the lies went. On and on, people used the lies to justify eradicating my rights.

Last night, the rights of farm animals were protected and nearly in the same moment, the rights of HUMANS who are gay were rejected. Wow.

If you are social at all, if you work, if you have friends, if you venture out into the world, you know someone who is gay. You may not know who that person is, but I guarantee that you know someone who is gay.

If that gay person in your life is married, and you voted yes on 8, you very probably just erased that persons marriage. At a bare minimum, you stripped that person of the ability to marry someone they love.

Once more I say... how does my marrying the person that I love affect ANYONE ELSE? Other peoples straight marriages don't affect me!

Be careful who you hate. It may affect someone you love.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Silly Me...

I was silly to mention Mr Stinky in a recent blog. I should have stated that I was extremely grateful that he hadn't had words with the dogs.

That changed last night.

It's raining like a big dog here now and it was last night. Peaceful TV watching was instantly and rudely interrupted by an immediately identifiable smell.

Mr Stinky had introduced himself to Hazer. And in guilt by association, Please got to say hi too.... for ONCE Kaeden wasn't involved in the mischief!

Immediate action was called for.... so for the next 2 hours I was occupied with airing out the house and bathing dogs.

Happy Halloween. Maybe I should have had candy for the trick or treaters...

Just for laughs




Meet King Yoda.... He is an absolutely adorable mixed breed puppy that comes to my hospital and every time he comes in he makes my day because he makes me laugh out loud. It makes for a good day.

Enjoy him!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who needs TV?

I live in the woods now.... I have my own herd of deer, led by a beautiful 6 point buck I affectionately call Venny. He's pretty brave and I think one day, with as much time as he spends on our deck, I will find him lounging in our spa. Occasionally Mr. Stinky visits, luckily the dogs haven't had any words with him. There is Flit, my favorite hummingbird I got to go eye to eye with the other day. And we have our own Woody Woodpecker, who is convinced our house will give him the MOST delicious meal!

But last night was the best! Timing in life is everything. You will have to use your auditory imagination to really get the full effect of this. It has made me laugh over and over again each time I think of it.

Theme music: The theme to Mission Impossible - Seriously... it was on the radio. I am driving home, on my road. As the MI theme begins I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. I slow reflexively, anticipating deer. But no... it is a family of RACCOONS! As the MI theme continues and I am going slower and slower, this bandit dressed family slowly, carefully and craftily make their way from one side of the road to the other, all the while keeping their eyes on me. I watched as they faded into the darkness, continuing purposefully on their stealth mission while the music played on.

I laughed hysterically in my truck.

And there are no commercials or political ads to wallow thru!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Darkness

It seems as though the darkness comes earlier and stays later. I know that the time will eventually change, but it feels so far away. The mornings seem so much darker each and every day.

When darkness touches so closely, it can take you by surprise. It can rock your world, your core, every fiber of your being. You can't fight it... you can't make it undark all of a sudden, because you can't unknow it. Once the darkness has come, whether upon you or someone close to you, you can't make it go away. Eventually, the light may shine again, but, at least for a while, you can't be sure, and you worry it might never come.

The darkness brought tears. Tears I wasn't aware were there until the darkness slammed down upon me so unexpectedly.

The darkness brings so much uncertainty and it brings so many questions. Even if it isn't your darkness, the questions still come. All the what to do, how to do it and when to do it questions swirl around, a horrific typhoon in your head, waiting for answers that need to come but may never come.

I know the time change comes soon, but I suspect the darkness will still be leaving its mark in my world for some time to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pink On Top, Pink On Bottom

Working in the veterinary field, I have been asked many, many questions... as far as odd or unusual questions, they have quite a range.

My dog has been vomiting for five days.... do you think I should bring him in to see the doctor? (ummmm... yes)

I have to give the medication twice daily for the rest of his life... does that mean every day? (Only every day that he is alive...)

It says I have to give the pills every 12 hours... can I give it twice a day?
(sure.. that should work...)

I think there's a werewolf in my back yard. Who should I call? (Men in white coats....)


But yesterday's question threw me for a loop. Never in a million years would I have guessed I would have EVER been asked this question.

A gentleman and his young daughter dropped off their small dog. The dog had a minor problem that would easily be taken care of by the doctor. After discussing all the contact information and pick up time, the gentleman got a very serious look on his face and made direct and searing eye contact with me.

"Can I ask you a question? And I need you to be completely honest with me."

I was somewhat surprised by his seriousness and anticipated a very heavy question involving the gravity of his dog's condition ... which wasn't grave at all.

"Sure, of course. Ask away..."

He pointed to his daughter, a pretty little girl all of about three years old.

"Does she match?"

"Pardon me?"

"Does she match? Her clothes? Do they match?"

If any of you know me, you know color coordination is not my strong point. I deferred to my receptionist. She surveyed the little girl, who was wearing a pink striped shirt and shorts and pink socks. We were amused, thinking this father was concerned about HIS ability to dress his daughter appropriately. He then said...

"She doesn't think she matches..."

Clarifying, we asked... "Who? Her mother?"

"No... my daughter! She doesn't think the pinks match."

Carefully stifling laughter, we again surveyed the youngster. She was very serious in her look, and she too, was anticipating the answer.

We assured her she indeed did match. Further, we told her she was very beautiful and she had done a good job picking out her clothes.... The expression on her face told me that she wasn't sure she should believe us, but her father was relieved.

In all my years working in a veterinary hospital, I never thought that I would be asked fashion advice.

Just goes to show you, the adage is very true.... just when you thought you'd seen (or heard) everything....


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Difficulties and renewal

Such a roller coaster week. So many sick patients! There was very little in the way of simple issues.... it made for a challenging week. You sometimes get used to a flow of the easy in and out... the lacerations, the gi upsets, the itchies.... all things that have easy fixes. This week was more of the serious things that require research and diagnostics and aggressive treatment to make a difference.... unexplained kidney failure in a 3 year old.... a cat unable to have a bowel movement - for 2 weeks! .... a prostatic abcess that ruptured.... a routine UA that led us down the path of searching for cancer .... a bitch not known to be pregnant suddenly having puppies... a dog eating dental floss - container and all! A dog, abandoned by its owners, diagnosed with an expensive to treat disease and trying to find a home.. Throw in a power outage in the middle and no wonder I am tired! Our blood analyzing machines, ultrasound and digital xray all worked their hearts out this week, that is for sure!!

And then there was the dog whose whole life had been a tortured existence. The last four months of his life were with the greatest people who could have had him. He is the first dog I have ever met that was crying, actual tears running down his face, dripping from his eyes like mine eventually did, when we were putting him down.

So this weekend I hope to have a good renewal... the dogs have asked for a good run and I will give it to them. It will be good to do.

Sometime when you have the chance, take your dog out and watch him explore his world. My dogs just go ape when they get to run and explore to their hearts content. They run and sniff here, dig there, pee on that tree and just flit and fly where ever their fancy takes them. I am jealous of that kind of happiness. It is what they are good at ... living in the now. What is happing right now is the absolute most important thing in the world to a dog.... whether that be dinner, or a cookie, or a ride in a car or a romp in the park... they are unabashedly happy about it! I envy that!

I will take the time this weekend to meld into my dogs and hope their 'in the moment' lifestyle rubs off on me, even if for just a few hours....





Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Listening

I am listening.

I am hearing my dogs talk to me. I have one asking for more adventures. More more more more more, please. I have one asking what can he do next - whatever I want, he will deliver... just tell him what it is.

And I have one that is reaching out to important people in her life... in my life.... those that are open enough to listen. She is trying to prepare me for her transition. I can hear enough of what she is saying to understand that.

I need to let her know I am complete now. That the purpose she was here to fulfill with me she has completed. I need to let her know that WHEN she is ready, I am okay with her going on to her next mission. And if she needs help in that transition that I am here for her for that.

I see nothing really wrong with her, just by looking at her. I mean, I know that she has an enlarged heart and that she has horrible hips that are painful for her. I know that she can't hear well and her last bloodwork showed her kidneys were beginning to have problems.

But to just look at her, she isn't dying.

She went for a hike in the woods with me on Sunday and it filled me with joy to watch her light up when she saw the lake and just run as fast as her legs would take her to the water and just jump right in. As she left the lake, she hesitated momentarily as she realized the steepness of the hill to get back up to me, but she did it anyway. And her face just radiated joy. It was she and I again together in the woods.... reminiscent of times past when it was her role to search for that missing person and to lead me.

I know she is readying for her transition and she is rallying people around me and letting them know so that when she does go, I won't be alone with it. That is her taking care of me.

I am listening. I'm just searching for the courage to be able to let her go and let her know it's okay. I need to take care of her.

I am listening.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

use your imagination

Cruise the middle of nowhere long enough and there will be a site that you can't believe actually exists.... this is a driveway, lined with toilets. In the toilets are flowers. Please forgive the poor photograph - I only had my cell phone with me, but I couldn't pass this up without some kind of photographic evidence that this exists in the world.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Focus

I had a very long and very difficult day. I thought about writing about it here, but then I thought I needed to refocus myself. So I got out my camera and chased the moon around. I took dozens of pictures (thank goodness for digital cameras!) and got nothing but a white blob. Then I looked up how to take pictures of a full moon (thank goodness for Google!) and went back to work. A few dozen pictures later, and this is the result.


Isn't she beautiful?

I took all the day's pent up energy that strong emotions can bring and I focused on learning something new and putting that knowledge to use. And for the evening, all my anger, anxiety and irritation are now out of focus and harder to dwell on.

Sometimes you just have to refocus yourself.

Kaeden knows how.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is it time?

I am once again seeing patients that I remember seeing as puppies getting to the point in their life where we have to say good bye. I can so vividly remember the happy little ball of energy or fluff or fluff and energy coming in for the first times and the owners needing guidance to get through the terrible twos and all the other rough stages to get to their 'perfect' dog... and sometimes they never got their 'perfect' dog, but they could make do, so to speak.

Now, some come in and you can just see it in their eyes. They're tired. They have done what they have come here to do, and it is time for them to move on to their next mission.

They give us so much during their lifetime. Unconditional, unbridled love is often a benefit we get from them. If only we could be so giving of our emotions to them. We wish that they would just 'go in their sleep'... but sometimes that just isn't in the cards. Sometimes we are put in a position to make the decision that it is time.

I get asked all the time, "how do you know it's time?" The answer I give is this. You will know. If you listen. If you tune in. If you pay attention. Your faithful companion will tell you when they are ready. I also get asked, "what would you do if he were yours?" Ahhhh... the eternal question that is actually asking me my permission for you to make the decision - for someone else to you it's okay, which makes it my decision, not yours. I can't answer that question for many people. There are the obvious cases where the animal is dying a horrible, painful, elongated death due to an organ failure that can no longer be mitigated. But a lot of times, that answer is solely your answer. I cannot know what life is like in your household and how your dog or cat fits into that picture and if now is the right time. You know your pet the best. You know what makes them happy. Maybe they can't go on the 3 mile walk anymore -but a walk to the end of the driveway and back is okay with them. I can't answer the 'is it time' question for you. Only you can.

To be able to release our pets from pain and infirmity can be the greatest gift we can give. When we take on an animal, ideally, we take responsibilty for every aspect of their life. And that includes their death.

If you are questioning it, perhaps it is close. Take the time to block out all distractions from your life and sit with your pet. Be prepared to take as long as it takes. Stroke them gently, in all the places you know they love. Ask them. Is it time for you to move on? Do you need help with that? Be open for the answer. Allow it to come.

You will know when it is time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Even Though

A great day with friends yesterday spawned an interesting conversation that hasn't left my head. Great friends will challenge your thought process and yesterday I was confronted with the problem with 'even though'.

How often have we, as lesbian and gay people, heard someone say something like this to us:
"You know, I think you're (fill in the adjective.... nice, wonderful, awesome, intelligent, great....) even though you're gay," or, even more delicately put, "you're the way you are. "

I know that when people that have become close to me or that I have admired have said something like this to me I have felt good about it. I have felt like maybe I have been able to change their prejudice, certainly where I am concerned, but perhaps on a broader scale.

But in taking pleasure from that, have I actually perpetuated the prejudice?

Here's the thing.... no one would ever get to know someone and then say "You know, I think you're a great person, even though you part your hair on the right side." And the person that is said to would never be happy that someone said that, assuming they believed the person saying it was serious.

That seems like such a mundane comparison... a hair part compared to someone's sexuality, but is there any difference? When you tell someone that you think they are whatever wonderful thing you want to say, but qualify it by pointing out the thing that you think makes them different from the rest of the population, you are taking the time to point out they are different. Is the message being sent that they are LESS?

The 'even though' phrase implies that whatever follows is something negative. There are other phrases I have heard too... in spite of.... regardless of the fact that... in this context it seems the next phrase is something that the speaker believes is perceived as a negative thing.

I don't think that most of the people are intentionally trying to tell me that I am less of a person by saying 'even though'. In fact, I think most people think that they are trying to convey that my sexuality isn't a big deal to them. But in my acquiescence of their statement, am I actually acknowledging that I am, in fact, less than they are? At the very least, am I buying into that implication that I am different, in a negative way?

Indeed, I recognize that all people ARE different. We are not clones of one another and we did not all get raised in the same household and environment. Being different is standard.

The problem comes in when a difference is picked out that then becomes the thing that society uses to define you as a lesser person. Being black. Being Jewish. Being Japanese. Being gay. It IS how prejudice is born.

Something to think about.

Perhaps the next person you meet that you like, and you want to share that feeling with, simply say.... I think you're a great person. Maybe that person is gay, or black, or Jewish or has red hair.... just send the message that you like the PERSON.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stand up

I want to be like Del Martin... I want to be so proud of who I am that I am willing and able to stand up and speak out about who I am without fear of reprisal, regardless of what that might be and without fear of shoving my wife out of my life by alienating her with my actions.....

I want to make a difference. For someone. Somewhere.

I wish I had known about Del in the late 80's. I didn't have that role model growing up. There was one woman I thought was gay and was my friend, but when I broached the subject she shut me down so hard and so fast, I was scared to pieces to mention it to another living soul for a long time. My actual coming out experience, when I finally did begin to share with others, was mild. I only lost one friend, that came back to me later. But my struggle was horrendous. I fought it. I hated myself for so long. Now, I look back at journals and OH MY GAWD I was a DYKE, but I would NEVER admit it even there. It took silently melding myself into a group of lesbians I tripped over at 18 to make me realize that it was really okay to be gay. It was simply a facet of who I was and it was okay. I just wish I had had someone in high school that could have said to me, even if only privately and hypothetically, that being gay was okay.

Yes I know my experiences then helped to shape who I am now. But there have been so many young people that have had that miserable experience and instead of surviving it, killed themselves over it, because that was the only way out of their closet that they saw. I know that feeling. I tried that exit route. Luckily I was saved, but no one then knew the why. And really... they didn't even try to find out the why. They assumed I was a 'normal' teen having 'normal' teen issues....

I want to make a difference. I hope I can.

--

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Del Martin has passed

With Phyllis Lyon, her partner, by her side, at 87, a legend has died. I didn't know her, but I admired her for all she stood for. And in her lifetime she stood for so much. She came out of the closet long before it was even thinkable for gay people to do so. She believed in equal rights for all, and was able to finally *really* marry her partner of 55 years in June of this year. In 1960 she and Phyllis started a newsletter that grew to a magazine. In 1979 she and her partner started a health center for gays and lesbians. She and Phyllis were the first lesbian couple to insist on joining NOW at the couples membership rate. The list goes on and on. She stood up, spoke out and never let go of the idea that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as any other human.

She had such courage. She had such conviction. A woman to be admired for all time.

From her obituary:
"Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR's No On 8 PAC at www.nclrights.org/NoOn8."

Even in death, she continues to stand up for what's right. A legacy lives on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Update on Cruelty - Have Mercy!

The community came together and donated money so that the little kitten of my earlier post - the kitten who was thrown against a door and had a broken leg and a bazillion fleas - can be repaired! In fact her surgery was scheduled for today and hopefully was successful! The humane society has named her "Mercy"...

The local police are still investigating the incident, but at least Mercy is getting taken care of!

I love it when a community gets together to help the helpless!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Violated

I have been violated. I have been accused of being in a relationship that is not "the ideal situation for children" and it was posted on my door.

I am incensed. Outraged. Just plain PISSED OFF. People came on to my property, walked past my rainbow flag, and posted a notice on my door that is PRO proposition 8 - the proposed amendment to the constitution that would only recognize a marriage between a man and a woman. I wasn't home and my WIFE was sleeping when they showed up at our door, so they left their brochure along with a hand written note that said "Sorry we missed you."

Actually, we are sorry we missed them. It could have been an interesting discussion.

Among other things the brochure says:
"A Man, A Woman, Plus California's Children. While death and divorce may prevent it in too many cases, the ideal situation for children is to be raised by a married mother and father. Proposition 8 is a positive step.

Proposition 8 protects our children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage..."

Trying to appeal to people who know gay and lesbian couples and who wouldn't want to 'take away' something from them, it says that Prop 8 doesn't take away any rights or benefits from gay or lesbian domestic partners. But it goes on to say "Proposition 8 will not change this [the rights of domestic partners]. It just wouldn't be called marriage, and public school teachers wouldn't have to tell children it is the same as marriage."

This makes me angry on SO many levels!!! They say they are protecting children. What I get from what they say is that if Prop 8 passes, teachers will get to tell children that only men and women can get married to each other. What do gays and lesbians get to do??? Do they get to be 'domesticated'? They can form a partnership that is, supposedly just like marriage, (it ISN'T) but can't be called marriage because gays and lesbians are 'different'? How's that for perpetuating discrimination! Prop 8 makes it legal to teach discrimination. How nice.

And on another level... who is anyone to say that the "ideal situation" for raising children is with a married mother and father? Really? What makes it ideal? Because they are married? When did the fact that two people got married automatically make them ideal parents? Is there some potion that is drunk at the wedding that infuses ideal parental instincts?

Now I don't want children. But PLENTY of my gay and lesbian friends do and have. I suppose I am not an expert, but they appear to be doing a fine job of raising their children.

HOW DARE THEY USE CHILDREN TO TRY TO MAKE THEIR POINT!

I don't understand why it matters to ANYONE else who I marry. Someone needs to tell me how I hurt anyone else when my wife and I got married. I know tons of heterosexual married people and their individual marriages didn't affect anyone else right to living their life the way they choose. My marrying my wife didn't change anyone else's marriage or rights to anything else.

http://www.eqca.org/site/pp.asp?c=kuLRJ9MRKrH&b=4026385

I HATE being violated.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Knowing

She knows. Yet she doesn't know. She can feel it slipping, but she can't grab it tight enough to stop it. Pieces and parts are going, and there is nothing that can be done.

I see it happening. It is not as vivid for me as it is for others seeing it daily, but the picture has been painted well for me and my mind can grasp it. I am not good at feeling helpless. But I am also not good at fighting. And I am not faced with it day to day, so it is easy for me to sit back and armchair quarterback, almost as if it has nothing to do with me. But it does.

As we age, we just don't work like we used to. Our bodies begin to fail us. Our minds begin to quit. Somewhere along the line I think somehow medicine has gone wrong. I know that people are living longer and longer but, really, is it all that good? If you are fortunate to not have arthritis and diabetes and heart problems and dementia, you are rare.

Before now, getting old was abstract. I could tell you what to expect from an elderly person in terms of common medical and mental problems, but it was never a personal thing. Now as I talk about it, I realize that it has become personal.

My mom is old. I can't fix it.

It is personal now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Processing in real time

Despite my anxieties about changing my name, until today, it has proven anticlimactic. The great majority of institutions allowed me to make the name change via email, which surprised the living daylights out of me. Only my bank required that I come in, and those that didn't accept an email request, wanted only a phone call to process the change.

As of today, I was down to three changes that needed to be made.... the phone company, my bank and my auto insurance/homeowner's insurance. The bank was simple. In and out in under 8 minutes. I then went to the insurance agency. When I made the decision to go to the insurance company, I didn't know I had signed up for a comedy show. I suspect that I am the one who thought it was funny. But someone's got to be the straight man sometimes, right? (yes... pun intended).

I walked in with paperwork in hand. A very nice, mid 40's gentleman met me at the counter, asking if he could assist me. I informed him I was there to change the last name on my accounts due to a marriage. I told him I thought I had all the paperwork he would need, and put it all down on the counter... marriage certificate, interim paper license (new picture license came today in the mail - woo hoo!) and my previous picture license. He cheerfully took the papers and said he would go make a copy, and off he dashed.

He returned my original paperwork to me and I gave him my insurance card. He sat down at his desk, just behind the public counter, and began typing. Moments later he stopped. He got up and came to me with the copies of the paperwork in hand.

And so his processing begins....

With the marriage certificate on top, his hand hovering over it he asks, rather shakily,
"Um, forgive me, but what are we doing here?"
"Changing my name."
"Uhhh... which one are you?" as his hand continued to hover over the document.
"This one," I said recognizing immediately that this man isn't stupid. This is his first gay marriage name change. I pointed to my name.
"uhhhh... and you're ....?" He can't figure out how to word the question, how to ask, what words to use.
I smiled. I pointed to the document in the appropriate places and said, firmly, and I have to admit probably a tad bit too loudly, "This is me. I married HER. This is my old name. I have taken HER last name as my new last name."

The words floated in the air for seemingly forever while he tried to figure out how to breathe again.

"umm.... ooooo kay," he said with even less confidence than before.

So many things to process, so little time! He is speaking to a lesbian. She got married to a woman. She just essentially announced it to the whole office. She doesn't care that anyone else, coworkers or other customers, knows. I SWEAR I could see all of this processing in his head as he stood there, frozen for a bit.

It gets better!

He picked up the papers again and went back to his desk and began typing. A supervisor came by to assist another agent and as she walked past his desk he asked for help. Or rather he made an odd noise that got her attention, which indeed was his goal.

"uuuuhhhhh".... she looked at him expectantly. "She's here to make a name change on her account after a ......" his voice is strained and about two octaves higher than it should be, and yes, there is a conspicuous silence as he almost can't quite say it. "..... marriage."

"Yes?" The supervisor prompted him.

"Well, I, uh, well, I don't know the code to use ... with ... uh... this one."

Firmly, carefully and calmly the supervisor stated, "The same code we always use with any name change due to marriage." And she stated the code.

"Oh, oh, Okay," he replied in a more normal voice, and he began typing. The supervisor stood by and watched as he made the changes.

Then, with confidence he clearly doesn't actually feel, his voice still a tad too high, he speaks to me.

"um... okay.... the paperwork will now say " and he proceeded to stumble over deciding to say my name, my wife's name and our last name together as in Joe and Susan Smith, and he couldn't do it. So he said my name and then my wife's name as two separate names.

Which was fine with me. I was having fun with this! I smiled and thanked him. He got up from his desk and came over to the counter and returned my ID card. He stared at me, struggling to say something. He indeed realized he possibly could have offended me with his lack of ability to act professional given this circumstance he had never experienced. His staring went on for a long while before he said...

"Are you planning a trip?" This caught me by surprise for just as second. Was he offering me a deal on a honeymoon? When I told him there weren't any trips in my near future, he stumbled over sharing that their agency had a fantastic travel agency. I thanked him and put my things together to leave. He made one more attempt to try to make sure things were smoothed out and that he wasn't going to get in any trouble from me complaining...

"We also do DMV services..." and his voice got smaller. He was defeated. He gave in to the idea that he had not handled himself well at all. "...but you probably already know that..." he continued, almost inaudibly.

I decided to let him off the hook...

"Yes I am well aware of the wonderful services you offer here and the DMV services are one of my favorite reasons for staying with your agency."

With that I smiled, gathered my things and left. He looked slightly green, but was breathing more normally.

In no way was I offended. Those of you who know me know I can be a bitch when I want to be. I didn't think it necessary at all in this case. While I was getting tremendous enjoyment out of watching him squirm, I never got the sense that he was homophobic, only ignorant to the possibilities that are now out there. I'd like to think that I made it easier for the next gay or lesbian couple that goes in for the same reason.

Hopefully.

Next up... the phone company!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Adventure and a snow cone

My wife and I spent Saturday just cruising all around town hitting yardsales. We searched for nothing in particular, just wanting to learn more about our town and thought maybe we could find a few bargains in the process. We did indeed find one awesome bargain... a set of halogen shop lights for $10 - and they work! We were very proud of ourselves for that one! What a grand adventure we had!

And then we drove by a snow cone vender. Okay, so I guess they're called shaved ice now, but really... they're snow cones. It was HOT out and my wife thought the idea of a snow cone sounded awesome. I actually turned around and went back so we could get a snow cone.

When we got to the little stand, there was no one at it, but there was a gentleman painting a post near by. He hollered for someone to come out of the liquor store that the snow cone stand was stationed in front of. Sure enough, a young man walked out and opened the little stand up. We eagerly gave our flavor order (I ordered Rootbeer and my wife ordered Wild Cherry) and he switched on the machine spit out ice for us.

He filled the cups with ice and then did something that made both of us raise our eyebrows and exchange looks. He packed the ice in the cups - using his bare hands. He really worked the ice to pack as much in the cup as he could. This man had just walked out of the liquor store where he had been presumably helping customers buy alcohol... and here he was shaping our snow cones with his bare hands. Without saying a word, we each knew the other was thinking "When did he last wash his hands?" We both assumed it probably wasn't recently.

He poured the flavor on them, really smothering the ice with our respective flavors and proudly handed them over. We gave him our money and walked away.

We stared at the snow cones for a moment.

We ate them anyway.

It was HOT out!!

I think we both consider that our biggest adventure of the day.

And we didn't die.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where does cruelty come from?

I long ago realized that I would never 'see it all' and that there would always be something else that could amaze me. And today gave me that.

Who could hurt a poor, innocent little kitten? How could someone possess so much hatred that it would be okay to throw a kitten at someone's door, like today's newspaper? That's what I saw today. A small, undernourished, horribly flea infested kitten was indeed tossed at someone's door - hard enough to startle the occupant inside. She opened her door to find, wrapped in a towel, this sad little kitten, mewing at her. She took it to the humane society who brought it to us.

To look at her, you would never know that she had so many fleas that she was pale with the anemia they caused, aside from the pale gums that is. All she wanted was love. Someone to pet her and pay attention to her. Someone to give her affection to.

She didn't even seem to mind that she was skin and bones, severely undernourished so much so that you could easily see ribs and leg bones. She just wanted to be close to you.

She didn't even complain when, upon close examination, her broken leg was discovered. She didn't wince or back away, let alone cry out in pain. Instead, she purred loudly and pushed her head into me, wanting one more ounce of love.

Pick her fleas off? Sure, she'll sit there and purr through it.

Take xrays of her body to see the extent of damage? No problem, just keep stroking her and talking to her, and you can do anything you want. And if all you wanted to do was to hold her, she would happily stare into your eyes, waiting for the next good thing you were going to offer. And wanting so much to give to you that love right back ten fold.

All she wanted from you, expected from you, heck, believed you would freely give to her, was love.

How can someone throw something that trusting, that innocent, at someones door?

One again in my life, I am shaking my head in amazement..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Circle of Life

I shouldn't be surprised. Time has certainly moved along. Suddenly the reality of what that means is catching up to me.

You are born, you live, you die. Sounds like a simple process, but when you are intimately involved in it, that 'live' part sometimes connects with 'die' a little more poignantly than you expect.

In the last 2 weeks four long term clients have died. They touch my life, and I theirs, only briefly in the grand scheme of things, but some of those 'touches' are very significant because they have put their trust in myself and our hospital to care for the creatures they love very much. Sometimes that makes for some incredibly intimate connections. And suddenly, those people are gone from my life forever. I know that their loved ones grieve for them far more intensely than I, but I still find myself grieving a bit. I guess I am surprised by that. In discovering that I am grieving, I am realizing that these people have come to mean something to me.

In a similar vein, I am now seeing pets that I recall so fondly meeting as babies, getting old and dying. Some of the goodbyes I have said recently have hurt nearly as much as saying good bye to my own pets. As these elderly animals come in for their last visit, I have found myself struggling to be professional and complete the task set before me. It is not my job to cry and be upset when someone else's dog dies. It is my job to be compassionate and to be strong and allow the client to have as good an experience as one can have when you have to say your last good bye. Recently, that has proved to be very difficult. An interesting new experience for me to learn from.

And so the circle of life continues.

DMV Bingo and the double life

I am finding that at the moment, I am leading a double life... I seem to be in identity limbo! I have completed the federal process in changing my name, and have just completed the DMV process. But until the new photo ID comes, I am somewhat in between names. I have notified credit cards and utilities, and some changes have been completed. Some however require my physical presence to complete the process. Oddly, I am almost not sure who I am and what name to sign!

Take DMV for example. I was smart enough to make an appointment before going in. When I got there for my appointment, I gave my name and she couldn't find me. Suddenly I doubted the date of the appointment was about to groan out loud at my foolishness for not double checking the paper I printed after making the appointment. The lady behind the counter asked why I was there. I told her it was for a name change. So she asked for my 'old' name. I said that was the one I gave in the first place. She smiled, perhaps a thin smile with just a hint of impatience, said AHA, and asked for my new name. Low and behold, that was the name I had made the appointment under. I had NO recollection of doing that.

As a slightly funny aside, my DMV bingo experience was fairly mild compared to the social security office. My lucky bingo number was F010. I was seated only a short time before my number was computer voice called. Oddly enough, I got the very same man that I got the last time I went to my local DMV office. He was just as interactive this time as then. He moved at his own pace (about 75 MPH slower then I tend to move) and spoke very little. My first encounter with him was to get my new personalized plates for my truck. During the process, he said two words. I kid you not. I handed him my old plates and the form that would get me my new plates and he silently typed away at his computer. An eternity later, after I stared at him staring at his computer screen, he got up, went to a drawer and retrieved my new plates. He handed me a piece of paper and nearly scared me to death when he spoke aloud, asking me to 'Sign here'. And I was done.

As I approached Mr Silent Man Tuesday, I smiled and wondered if it would be a repeat performance. I wasn't disappointed. I handed him the completed form, the marriage certificate and my birth certificate. He typed a few things in the computer and stared at the screen. Something printed out. He typed some more and stared again. Something else printed out. He typed some more and stared some more. One last thing printed out and he again startled me with a 'Sign here' demand on my new interim license. He was forced to speak more this time because I had to get a new picture done (oh joy) so he had to say 'over here for your photo'. After the picture was done, he said, "Two weeks for your new license." and I took that to mean we were done.

Don't get me wrong. He wasn't unfriendly in his actions or his tone at all. Just quiet. It was actually quite humerous.

Back to my double life. Right now I find myself trying to remember who I am when I write or say my name. Which is odd, because I have spent the better part of the last year using my wife's last name for a lot of things, just not the 'legal' stuff. Now I guess I am finally melding into my new self. Seemingly very slowly.

It has been a fun process. I have no idea if any other newly married woman, lesbian or otherwise, has experienced the same feeling I have as this process has come together, but I tell you I have been positively giddy. It is almost like completing the name change process has allowed my mind to really believe that this marriage is real. Really. I seriously giggle when I think about it!

So is this what they mean about finding yourself???

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sprinting Kitty



If I hadn't been there to see it, I wouldn't have believed it! Splash likes to sprint. No purpose, no bug or bird being chased... just an all out windsprint!

We were working the garage the other evening when he flew by us out into the drive way at top kitty speed. I initially thought, 'hmmm he must have seen something out there.' After the second time, I began watching him because I was concerned that maybe something was watching us (we have a skunk that pops by now and again) and he was chasing it off.

Nope. Not the case at all.

He walked to the very far back of the garage and sat. Then he stood up and stretched and then bolted, through the garage and out the drive way. He did this 10 times. I kid you not. My wife and I counted! Each time was the same. After each run he would saunter back into the far back of the garage, rest up a bit, stretch and then bolt out again. My cat was doing windsprints!

What a funny little cat!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flying!!

Today was great!!! Occasionally we train for shorthaul - flying beneath a helicopter to allow for insertion into a search area that might be difficult to access or take a heck of a long time to get to if you were to hike it. Today was Kaeden's and my first 'for real' flight for a search.

WOW... Kaeden was fantabulous! He wore the harness without fuss, hooked into the system and flew like a pro (better than I did I think!) and when we set down and got the harness off, he went right to work like we had just gotten out of our truck! He was so meticulous.... He searched everywhere he could get to and was absolutely in heaven when he realized he got to swim TOO! He, of his own choosing searched both shores and everywhere he could access via rock across the creek. And when he saw something he knew he hadn't checked and the only way there was to swim, he slid in carefully and swam to it... It was fun to watch.

When I finally could watch that is.

First we had to rock scramble and I discovered I don't scramble as well as I thought I did. Or maybe the granite was so smooth after slipping three or four times my rock scrambling confidence was shaken. We walked on a crack. Really. A crack that some places only the toes of my boots could grip.

Kaeden's initial philosophy with the smooth granite was to run as fast as he possibly could across it. That worked for about halfway. After slipping and falling once, he somewhat abandoned that method and became a LITTLE more cautious and fared far better than I. Built in four wheel drive comes in handy....

We searched what we could as far as we could and then flew back out. This time I took more time to look at the absolute beauty of the land we were flying over. And I gotta say WOW there is some wonderous wilderness out there!

It was a GREAT day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Truth

This is raw.

I had a client say something to me yesterday that I would never in a million years have said, even to someone I hated.

In a matter of fact tone, she says "So, what happened to your diet?"

When I politely smiled and tried to go back to her invoice, she continued

"No, really, what happened to your diet?" This time more insistent, as if the fact that I am providing her a service or a product also entitled her to being able to ask personal, probing questions.

I suppose I could have said that, with all due respect, that wasn't an appropriate question or that the question overstepped some unspoken boundary. But I was shocked. Amazed. Mortified.

Instead, I replied, quietly, rather embarrassed, taken aback, "Sometimes life gets in the way."


"Yeah, it sure is easier to pack on all those pounds than it is to take it off!"


Did she mean well? Best of intentions and all? In whatever small way, she probably thought she was helpful. But she was down right hurtful. I am not sure what part of her relationship with me allowed her to think she could say something like that to me. None of my friends would have. At no point in time have I ever even thought that this client could be considered even slightly more than a client to me.

Which is probably key here. What she has said shouldn't be hurtful. What emotional investment do I have in her? Would I ever have coffee with her on any morning? (aside from the fact I don't drink coffee of course.....) So why should what she said nearly bring instant tears to my eyes and cause me to cry buckets this morning?

After hearing her say it, I do have to wonder if my friends have had the same thought, but simply had enough tact to not say anything. Is that what hurts?

Or is the saying "The truth hurts" true?

And is my emotional reaction evidence of that truth?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Much Ado About Nothing

They say that anticipation of a thing is often greater than the thing itself. Today proved that saying to be true.

I spent 1 1/2 hours at the Social Security office today. When I walked in, there were 3 other people there. I had to check in electronically, making a choice about why I was there. Pushing a special button garnered me a piece of paper with the number E 196 on it. I sat down to wait. There were two windows open and each had a customer actively processing their issue. Within 15 minutes the entire room filled with people. Every chair was filled and the walls were lined with people. Thirty minutes later, one of the customers was done and left and the woman manning the window closed the window and left. I read through two Newsweek Magazines. Occasionally, someone would come from the back and call a name. And then the other window opened and they started playing bingo. They began calling out numbers - O 236. R 329. M 560. As a number was calIed multiple people in the room would frantically look at their shred of paper hoping they had the winning number. I kept waiting for my special bingo number to come up. Finally it did. I took a deep breath, walked up to the window and sat down.

As I handed the paperwork I said, as calmly and coolly as I could manage, "I am here for a name change after a marriage." And held my breath.

Her computer hiccuped initially. It gave her fits and I was sure there was some secret special code embedded in my paperwork that would make it get rejected. Alas, as I was sure I was turning blue, she tip tap typed away and within moments she said congratulations on my marriage, had me sign a piece of paper and handed my a receipt showing the changed information!

It is official! In two weeks I get my new card and I can go to DMV and play DMV bingo!

Yipppeee !!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Equality? Really?


Yesterday I received our certified copy of our Marriage Certificate. It is what I need if I want to, and I want to, change my last name to my wife's. This is where I think the fallacy of CA saying lesbian and gay couples can marry is going to play out. While it gives the 'appearance' of making us equal... it is only in CA eyes....

To change my name, technically, in CA, I can just simply begin using my wife's last name (or any name I choose really), but in the post 9/11 era, that isn't recommended. What is recommended is to go through the legal hoops to do it. When one gets married, that Marriage Certificate is your key. You begin with Social Security and 'trickle down' from there. Once the SS recognizes the name change, you can go to DMV and make the change. Then from DMV you can go anywhere else you need to make the change happen and do it. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Not that it isn't work or time consuming, but it is a relatively simple non court involving process. One I am *hoping* will work for me.

Alas, I fear that it won't. The SSA is federal. And to the federal government, our marriage doesn't exist. Which means they can (and I suppose probably will) return my properly filled out paperwork and say "nope, ain't gonna happen."

And so I may get to spend money in court fees and newspaper ads, as well as the time going to court to make the change happen.

Not even separate but equal.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Inventive Australian Shepherd

Would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Would have been baffled by it for who knows how long. This morning I got one of the biggest laughs I have gotten from the antics of my australian shepherd, Please.

Please is not a big Australian Shepherd. She weighs about 43 pounds and stands about 15-16 inches tall. She's a decently wide Aussie dog, but she is not fat. Why does any of this matter? Read on my friends, and prepare to laugh.

I walked out to the mail box this morning to put some mail out and took Kaeden with me. It was an uneventful walk and when I got back, Hazer was in the yard to greet me, but Please was nowhere to be found. Not that that is unusual anymore. She doesn't hear as well and since I left via the front door and was returning via the back yard, I thought perhaps she is still waiting patiently, if a bit wistfully, at the front door for my return. As I came into the house with Kaeden and Hazer, I could hear the unmistakeable sounds of a dog ripping a large paper or plastic container. I walked down the hallway, expecting now to find Please in our bedroom destroying something and was taken aback to discover she was in Christie's gated office, actively inside a potato chip bag trying desperately to get the very last crumb out. I stood there for a moment, looking over the 41 inch tall gate at Please, trying to figure out just how she got in there.

This is the gate we have. We got it from Foster and Smith shortly after we moved in. Ours is black. It is so the cats have a haven that is a 'dog free zone'. Well, I suppose it's not so much that now.

With her bad hips there was no way she could get over it. Was it unlocked and only appearing to be shut? Nope.. it was appropriately shut and locked. And yet she was on the inside and we were all on the outside. What was the answer to this mystery?


As I was pondering this mystery, Please answered the question for me. She shoved herself through the CAT DOOR opening in the bottom of the gate. Seriously, she lunged forward through the cat door. It took a bit of work and for a moment I thought she was stuck half way. But with some wiggling and squirming, in no time, she was through it and out in the hallway performing a perfect sit looking at me saying "What? What did I do?" I laughed so hard I cried. My 43 lb Australian Shepherd had just squeezed herself, not once, but twice through a 6 or so inch opening. For potato chip crumbs. Is it any wonder her nick name is "Weasel"?

I suspect you might not be laughing as hard as I did, because it probably is one of those 'you had to be there' moments. But hopefully this at least brought a smile to your face. Of course, this "Please" story doesn't compare to the one where she stole my father in laws false teeth and paraded with them, but that's a story for another time....

Friday, July 11, 2008

FINALLY !! Happily Married

We did it! We got married July 10th 2008!!!! It was real and it was legal. And guess what!!???

The world didn't end.

No lightening bolt struck us down.

The earth didn't open up and swallow us whole.

None of the other people witnessing the marriage saw their straight marriage fall apart before their very eyes.

And the world didn't catch on fire and burn down!

(Well,okay, some of the little world we live in IS currently on fire, but I am fairly certain we didn't start it....)

Who knew???

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fire Snow and Fire Sun

This is a different kind of snow. It is not the nice fluffy, cool, moist snow that you might think of... No... It is fire snow. Most people call it ash. But the sky was as black as any snow storm might make it and the outside, at least through the kitchen window, made you think that when you walked outside it would be cold. It was a cool, crisp 80 degrees at 7 am.

This is Ashy Splashy! Yes, those are ashes on his head and near his eye. He just had to get involved.
This is the ash on my TBird's windshield at 7 am. By 7 pm, it has doubled in quantity. If you stare outside, you would swear it was indeed snowing, the particles that are coming down are that big and noticeable. I feel like pig pen when I walk as my pant legs create enough wind to fluff up the ash as I walk. There are tens of thousands of acres burning all around us. The heat has been turned up and we're running in the 100's to 110's and the fires are just loving it, eating up more and more land as the winds push them along.
And this is 12 miles from where I live and about 30 minutes after the above pictures were taken. The sun is just beginning to over power the smoke and poke on through. The ash rains down there too.

And this is only the beginning of summer. Wait till we hit the "REAL" fire season.



Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Great Escape

I have recently begun having enough time to read again. I found a book that I can't put down and since it is the first in a series, and I am nearly done with it, I ran to Barnes and Noble before coming home tonight so as to have the next in the series. Imagine my embarassment when I realized it is in the new releases for TEENS section! AAAKKKKK I just turned 40.... I am not sure what that says about me and what need in me this book series has touched.... but I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Mostly what I am very aware of is the fact that this book (and the "Dexter" series I just whizzed through on CD) is that the story that is told is an absolute escape for me. I become a voyeur into another life and can go for the ride and enjoy the thrill and all the emotions a good story teller can invoke.

I find that too with music. I am currently in love with Alanis Morissette's new album. I have an affinity for singer/songwriters because somehow I think the music that they sing is more real and they put more feeling into the song because it is a part of them and that makes the music better.

I gotta run.... only about 100 pages left and I need to know how Bella survives!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A funny thing happened the other day

I bought a sprinkler last week. I was looking it over thoroughly to see how much area it would cover when I saw this warning:

"For outdoor use only."

Really? That ruined ALL my plans for watering my indoor plants!

This means that someone actually used the sprinkler inside their house. And probably complained to the company about it.

And the same day, I saw something else that caused me to laugh hysterically!

A building is being put up and I saw 4 people working on it. Well, actually I saw 1 person working. He was standing on a scaffold crane swinging, rather lazily by the way, a hammer onto a nail in the plywood. There was a man on the scaffold with him, leaning, seemingly comfortably, on the railing. I would have guessed he was there for safety, except he wasn't watching the hammer swinger... he was chatting with his coworkers down below. The operator of the scaffold crane was sitting in his seat sideways, immersed in conversation with yet a fourth person, whose purpose I couldn't determine, who was standing to the side of the crane, casually standing, enjoying the nice weather we were having. Leading me to this conclusion....

How many construction workers does it take to nail one nail into plywood?
Four. 1 to hammer the nail, and 3 to act uninterested in the job.


Summer has only begun


Picture from the local news paper... that isn't the moon... it is the sun!
I awoke this morning and discovered our house was socked in with fog. Except it wasn't fog... It was smoke, thick enough to taste it. I have worked fires and been exposed to less smoke!
I am beginning to redefine the meaning of 'trial by fire' in my life. I just got home from evacuations for fires for the 2nd time in 2 days, with more expected as the week goes on. Not my evacuations mind you, but other peoples. My area, for now, thankfully, is safe. So here I sit 2 weeks after a fire that started on a Tues and caused me to give out evacuation advisories to others, only to find myself being told to evacuate days later. Now, with the new fires, I have found myself traveling to ends of the county waiting to be told the next road that needs to be notified. This time it seems a little scarier. No my house isn't in jeopardy. But the whole north state is on fire, so resources are thin. The smoke is thick so there aren't any aircraft on the fires. In fact, a lot of the fires are just burning with out any firefighters or equipment on them. Since they aren't -currently- threatening any homes, they are a low priority and they just get to burn. But even the fires that are threatening residences don't have a ton of resources protecting them because it just isn't available.

Saw a funny thing today... 6 firefighters enroute to a fire. In a minivan. Yep..... a dark blue mini van filled with fire fighters... it was a rental. No transportation to get the personnel to the fire, so they rented vehicles.

With difficult terrain, fuels dry, humidity high, and winds unpredictable, it is going to be a long, smokey, hot, scary week.

And the summer has just begun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weddings

California began allowing gay marriage as of yesterday at 5:01pm. Four years ago San Francisco had begun allowing gay marriage and we made an appointment to get married there. But it was taken away before we could go there to get married. But Portland Ore began the marriage thing and so we dashed up there and got married. It was legal in Oregon for less than a month and then we got our money back with apologies.

Now we have a shot at it again. Even though we refer to each other as 'wife', we aren't married. We are.... in so many ways we are... but we aren't.

Today we went to the clerk recorders office and paid our money. Once again we are on the road to married-dom. Someone asked me 'Just how many times are you to gonna get married?'.. I replied; "till it sticks!". This time it just might.

The Federal government still won't recognize it, however. We will not be able to file taxes jointly, although we still have to figure them jointly for CA purposes. If she or I die, our social security benefits get to go right back into the governments pockets and cannot be passed along to the surviving partner. If we leave California to simply travel elsewhere in the US, our marriage will probably not be recognized and we could be denied the right to make important medical decisions for each other should the need arise. Thus we still have to have the back up paperwork in hand. Or just don't travel, I guess.

I will NEVER get how my marrying my partner hurts another soul or takes a single thing away from anyone else in this nation. WHY does it matter to anyone else who I marry? I don't know how anyone can say that I shouldn't be able to make a HUGE decision for my partners well being should something horrible happen to her, or vice versa. Why should I have to have separate documents that say she can make medical or financial decisions for me? Or worry that without the legal documents in place should something happen to her I can lose our home? Preventing us from marrying doesn't benefit anyone else... it only hurts us! How rude is that?

All my soap box rantings aside, on July 10th, our 8th anniversary, we will be saying "I do" (again).

Here's to change!

Post Fire life

It has been one week since that nasty fire began to make its dent on my life. The evacuation notice was lifted Sunday afternoon and within minutes our power went out as the last remaining powerpole that brought power into our community gave up and fell over. Such was the day.

Six hours later power was back and it was time for bed. My dreams tell me just how vulnerable and scared I really was. I know I maintained an outward appearance of calm concern and perhaps a bit of frustration as I looked for the next thing I could do to ensure our safety. Inside I was a nervous wreck. But since my wife was outwardly worried enough for the both of us, I decided it was better to not let my nervousness make its way out. My dreams are now releasing that tension, with dreams of hearing radio traffic from the firefighters, but not being able to tell what they're saying, as well as the intense need to leave where I am, but with no ability to get out. Even now though, the dreams are less and less and I am allowing them to work out the emotional build up that needs release.

The animals were worried too, but they were all troupers, sticking close and helping where they could... as clothes were being removed from the dryer to be packed, I dropped a sock. Never fear Kaeden is here!! And he brought it along, very helpfully... Love that dog.... Hazer maintained a vigilant watch on all the goings on. I am sure he listened to the bird news wire to know what was going on and I looked to him to see if he felt the need to get away suddenly. I never got that from him so I think his newswire was probably more accurate than my TV newswire.

So it is all done now. And once again poof, another week is here and even nearly half over! Nothing happens that the next thing takes its place. Because, as always, time moves on.

On to the next subject too!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

fire update... relief

Just wanted to throw out an update... we are breathing easier (no pun intended, but actually, there is no smoke up here...)

Today they are attacking the living daylights out of the fire with a bunch of aircraft. I can hear them working fervently as they pass over head and watch them work in the canyon below us. They are cautiously optimistic that they've got a solid handle on this now.

I am SO glad I was able to listen to the fire's progress with a handheld radio all yesterday. Without it, we would have had to leave because we couldn't be sure what was going on with the fire. Once I figured out that I was listening to the fire crew in Butte Creek canyon below us... I was GOLDEN and we felt comfortable staying. When the fire got past/around them yesterday we couldn't have stayed without hearing what was going on and knowing that air support was redoubling efforts and that they were fully aware of what was happening. All I could see was that the quality of the smoke had changed and instead of just generally hanging out it was beginning to column and climb and of course was more furious and black, indicating new fuel. I was on the phone with a friend of mine in Portland, Or as that was happening and I could feel myself get nauseous and ready to throw up with the fear of what was going to happen next.

I hated, for a while, being one of those that 'won't leave' even when told it is a good idea. Over the years I have told many people it would be a good idea to leave now. Some of them totally refused to leave, even with fire in their back yard, and I have walked (sometimes ran!) away thinking how stupid. But we made a conscious decision and knew we were READY TO RUN the moment we absolutely HAD to. We got buckets upon buckets out and filled them up with water, and all the hoses we have unfurled and charged in anticipation of embers flitting our direction. And none came. Of course, the fire is still a good two miles away (line of sight) from us so we had some time if it really took a run. And we had the ability to monitor it if it was going to take a run.... that was the most important part. As much as the media was keeping us 'informed' they weren't up to date with all that was happening, especially where our area was concerned. And they were the media... they hyped it like crazy and if they were my only source of information I would have left a month ago because the fire danger was so horrific.... In fact as I listened to the media, I could feel my anxiety go thru the roof... then I muted the TV and turned up the radio and listed to how hard the firefighters were working and how much progress they were making and I felt better.

They still have us on a precautionary evacuation notice, but this morning looks promising as far as progress made on the fire on our side of the canyon. The winds are supposed to 'cooperate' today and be light, although it will still be warm. I will continue to monitor the fire crew below us closely today. If we evacuate, we can have two options of places to go. (of course, my wife works tonight so I hope she gets to sleep..)

The rest of the SAR team worked furiously over the last several days (I was only able to help one day) doing evacuation notices and doing actual evacuations of elderly or infirm. One of our SAR members lost his new home during the big run Thursday evening that took out the majority of the structures reported lost. Hopefully today there will be NO evacuations and the SAR team can relax on a Saturday!

Keep up your good thoughts!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Waiting

We have spent the day anxiously waiting.... waiting to see if we needed flee... waiting to see if the wind would pick up and whip the fire into a frenzy. At one point, in the mid afternoon, the fire flared up and we could see black smoke billowing up from the canyon. The fire had found new fuel and was eating it like crazy. But along came the aircraft... planes and helicopters and I could listen to the radio traffic and hear the bulldozers working frenetically to get the fire surrounded and trapped.... and soon, the smoke thinned and calmed down.... whew....

And now we're okay. The fire has 'officially' turned (for now...) away from us.

We'll see what tomorrow brings....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fire

We haven't been in our house a month yet, and our first real crisis is occurring. A fire started in a town below us and, due to the extremely dry conditions and horrific winds, it has come dangerously close to us. I spent yesterday evening helping with evacuations because my home wasn't threatened, but today was a different story. While at work I watched all day as the fire moved.... and moved.... and advisory evacuations were issued. Then mandatory as the fire jumped a major road. I left work and rushed home as fast as I could, which wasn't terribly easy. The news of the area was scary as time crept on. Homes were being lost. The only evacuation route was packed with people and traffic wasn't moving anywhere.

Now we sit and wait. We watch the internet, the tv and listen to the radio... waiting for the next piece of news of the fire to break. All of the important things are packed away in the truck, ready to go. They just need to say the word....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Deep Breath

Never has that been more necessary than this week. Take a deep breath. And then another. And another, until your head is clear and you can move on. Hopefully the world around you becomes clearer and perhaps easier.

In the space of 24 hours I learned that three people that I knew had died. None were expected by me. The things you never knew about a person! One of them I knew and had spent some time with, but never made the opportunity to learn more. One of them I hardly knew but was expecting to see the day she died. And one of them I enjoyed seeing whenever she came around.

The latter I have pondered much. I never knew she was sick. I have known her for years, but never knew that she had cancer. She shared her grief with me when her husband died, but never let on to me that she was fighting her own battle. She laughed every time I saw her. She had her demands, but none were unreasonable and all were easily achievable. When she would call, I was glad to talk with her and listen to her worries about her little ones and offer help in the ways that I could. And I never knew she was ill. Just one day, she was gone. I struggle with a question I ask myself... did she know that I thought she was a wonderful woman?

And then there was the one I wished I had known better. Could have known better, but time just never presented itself to make that opportunity happen. Kind of shocking to have someone you know who is younger than you die. Totally unexpected and so far unexplained. Sort of makes you rethink things in your life.

Lessons this week?
You can never find more time... you have to MAKE it.

Take nothing for granted. Never assume the loves in your life know you love them. Make sure to tell them at any given opportunity.

Spend time watching your dog. Learn to imitate his actions. Watch him notice the little things... and then move on. Watch him take pure joy in fresh cut grass and see how utterly happy it makes him. Infuse a bit of that simplicity into your life and perhaps life won't seem so difficult.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We're in!

I never thought I would see 100+ heat in May for days upon days. And who'da thunk it would be while we were moving to our new house? We'll it was!

Some awesome friends helped us move our things and because they were able to help us we were able to get so much stuff moved into our house very quickly. It was an amazing sight to watch. The first day we worked from about 1 until about 8:30, then on Friday we worked from 9 until 1 (I couldn't put our friends through another baked afternoon) and then today the movers were delighted to discover that they only had about 3 hours of work to do. The new fridge made it along with the TV and all of the other big heavy awkward stuff.

So the settling begins. Hazer was FUNNY. The dogs had to wait until the movers were gone and then I let the dogs out to run and play. They did just that. And when I finally said that it was time to go in, Hazer layed down on the grass and gave me a look that said... "oh no... I just got to this park...I'm not leaving yet!"

And the settling begins!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Too much to do.... so little time

Reality check time! within just a few short hours we will have the keys to our new home! The boxes that have stacked up everywhere are now packed (in part) in the back of my truck waiting for our first run to our new house. We even have people standing in line to help us move (I love my friends... have I mentioned that before?). so now it is crunch time. I have to work 3 more hours, and then we have 5 days to get all our stuff moved in.... it seems so big.

But if I just let it flow... it will go okay. I feel it. Everything about how this house has come together tells me it will all continue to flow and come together in the time it was meant to happen.

Then there's the matter of the awards dinner Friday night, but I won't go there about that now! (I still don't have a thing to wear!) SIGH.