Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wherever You Go, I Will Go.

Whatever your faith - I could not help but read these words this last weekend when we saw our first bit of snow in 3 months.  It was words from the Old Testament and I could not help but think of Barkley, and now Abby the Lab, who would never abandon me, and who would follow me, even out in the cold and the wet -always by my side.

"Don't ask me to leave you and turn back.  Wherever you go, I will go, where you live, I will live.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God." Ruth 1:16

Sunday, February 26, 2017

On Migration

 This is a post I wrote because I just needed to say it. But I hesitated to post it, because it's a  volatile topic. But being the offspring of grandparents who were immigrants there were just words I wanted to put down. 


Animals migrating. What is in their genetic code that drives them hither and yon, is it survival, is it intuition, that takes them to places that never disappointed in its appeal.

Birds of all sizes migrate, not just the mighty goose, braving thunderstorms and predators they move. Not all make it, Eagles, hawks, owls take them out. The mighty eagle has no consideration of noblesse oblige when he is hungry, he simply swoops down and takes, the divine birthright of he with the bigger talons.
Far below the waters of the land, the fish move, Salmon, Steelhead, for which I spent many an afternoon in waders, waiting for a fish, as they answered to that call upriver.

Caribou as well, migrate. I spent a summer in the Brooks Range after a death in the family, just to get away. Hours were spent soaring over the tundra in a little aircraft watching the herds of animals on the move. In spring the Porcupine caribou herd migrated hundreds of miles from their winter ranges just south of the Brooks Range to their traditional calving grounds on the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain and foothills, unless delayed by unusually deep snow.

The summer range provides ample and nutritious food for both calf and herd to grow, but it is not a place to linger in the winter, so they moved on back to a winter range where conditions of food and snow cover are more agreeable.

People migrate as well. The pressures of human migrations, whether as outright conquest or by slow cultural infiltration and resettlement, have affected the grand epochs in history, such as the decline of the Roman Empire. Under forms of colonization, migration has transformed the world, including the settlement of America. Many of own ancestors came here from far away, many eventually heading west as this nation grew. Others move on and move out, as well, simply to survive in times of famine and war.

But in doing so many have forgotten that there are rules, of nature, of man, that must be abided or there are consequences.
 here is a hue and cry right now in this country about illegal immigration. It's simple to me. If  I stayed past my visa to the U.K. illegally, fair skinned and redhead as I am, with British ancestry, I would be jailed and deported. My family fled Northern Europe due to hard times. That doesn't give me the right to go back and claim my piece of what I was somehow deprived of.  It's not about what generations before may or may not have experienced.  It's what is the law now.   There are ways and means to come into this country as my family did, through legal channels, swearing an oath to this country, paying taxes, not taking cash under the table as many do, to send it out of the U.S.

I don't care about your race, your manner of dress, or the God you do or don't worship.  I care that you come here with the same thoughts as my immigrant ancestors - to make America a better and safer place. Support our flag, support our economy. My grandparents did just that. They were proud of their heritage but they learned the language, the customs, proudly raised the American flag, raising children who would serve in the military, not for amnesty, but for duty, defending the nation of which their parents were so proud.

That is as it should be.
Embracing citizenship and our legal principles are exactly what has made our country successful, stable, and unique in the world. Personally, I don't believe the concerns of an individual state, who bears the brunt of the costs of illegal immigration in terms of services and education, means they have no compassion for those that seek a better life. They do, however, have a responsibility to the law abiding citizens who, economically and socially, are affected by such movements. It is not about discrimination. It is about being a nation of laws, the same laws that made this country attractive to live in the first place.

There are laws of nature and laws of men. The laws of nature keep healthy the herd, but often at a price. The animals come and go as they please, sometimes with a devastating loss. But we are so much more than the animals, which is why we have laws designed, not to isolate, but to protect.

The laws of men are designed to keep our resources strong and protect the lives and livelihood of those that wish to make this country their home in every way. Being a citizen is a responsibility, a shared one, not an entitlement, not something you can wear part time on pay day, and disrespect otherwise, waving the flag of your home country, hurling insults in your native tongue at the people whose tax dollars are providing shelter and medical care for you.

Immigrants have brought much to this country, those that came respecting the law and embracing it, as my grandparents did. I look at what our country has done with the efforts of those that came and took the effort to become a permanent part of the fabric of our flag. People that gave back generously in time, effort and loyalty for all they had been given here. I also look at the devastation to local and state economies in the West, my childhood home, as the movement is unchecked, criminals flowing in, drugs, crime that also come in with those simply seeking sustenance, schools and hospitals packed with non-citizens seeking betterment at the expense of the citizen.  Many head to "sanctuary cities" not to keep their family safe but to more easily engage in outright criminal activity, especially connected with the lucrative drug trade.  It is not a coincidence that Chicago, as a sanctuary city, has some of the worst drug and gang violence in the country, to the point, I've ever been downtown except for work, and won't ever, spending my money online rather than in local businesses, too many innocents taken out in the crossfire betwen rival gangs of differing heritage.

Add into that mix the tens of thousands pouring out of war-torn countries where there is a daily cry for American blood from many of those fighting and we have a situation that should concern everyone, even those legally immigrating hoping to find a safer place than they live now.
I am all for properly vetting those that wish to make our land their home bringing with them the desire to work and contribute to our society.  I understand wanting the best for your family, health, and well-being for your children, especially for those persecuted for their Christian faith. But compassion notwithstanding, it's not something the states have the monies to sustain as those numbers swell into the hundreds of thousands.

I'm out on the shoreline of a vast ocean, watching the sea, standing on shorelines touched by the ocean's glassy, manipulative touch. A river rushes into the sea, and the sea flows in, tangled together in a kiss of wet and salt. A fish jumps, swimming upstream to where he was born, and where he will die. Upstream are the fisherman,  Nature and man both have checks and balances to keep resources secure.  But like the laws that govern the rivers, the laws that govern our land were meant for a reason. They exist to protect the resources, ensuring a future. But like a river that becomes choked with fish, soon the oxygen is gone, and all that is left is bloated, gasping waste. Whether we agree with the law or not, it was put there to protect those that are willing to take on this country's oath of citizenship and all the responsibilities and support that entails.

We all want to survive, and I understand as a mother, about wanting the best for your offspring, for your future.  But the laws were put in place to protect more than just you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Author Interview today at NPR WNIJ/WNIU

My new novel is one of 4 featured at NPR WNIJ/WNIU today!

Read their coverage and listen to an author interview

At the top of the page there is a link where I read an excerpt from the book, one chosen by the station that they had particularly enjoyed, and further down is the interview.

Not only is there an actual picture of me, you can see if it's true what one of my readers said that after living in the Midwest 17 years I now sound like Erma Bombeck (hahaha). Thanks for your support!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Popcorn and TV

I rarely watched TV at home even when we had cable. Sometimes when traveling for work, I arrive back at the hotel, peruse the room service menu, and too tired to post anything of worth, consider TV. But not for long. If I watch, I do like the History Channel, NCIS, Red Green, Firefly, Top Gear and some old shows and movies, especially westerns and old classics. But when I had the crash pad before transferring here to be home after I got married I had basic cable service and only because with Internet I got a deal. Now, we ditch the cable and just watch streaming shows or boxed sets.  But during that brief time of actual television at the condo, for lack of a lot of things to do in the evening since Partner was 250 miles away, I discovered several things.

There is NO subject off limits in commercials. (Seriously, I don't want to know about the amazing merits of "Panty Shields with Wings!". Wings? Good Lord, they act like we won WWII with those things. Also, "have a nice period" Shouldn't that be changed to "vehicular manslaughter is wrong")?

If you are dead due to Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (caused by breathing the microscopic dust of ground up yard gnomes used in older insulation) you are NOT able to call the attorney listed at the end of the commercial.

No matter what time it is and how basic your cable, on one channel will be Law and Order Special Victims Unit.
I also rediscovered why I don't watch much television.

One late night's selection:
Talk show with guest - liberal Hollywood airheaded "actress"
Zombie Strippers (wait, wasn't that just on the previous channel?)
Cindy Crawfords Skin Secrets!
Rock of Love
Murder She Wrote (look, every time Jessica Fletcher shows up at a dinner party someone gets murdered, and yet she keeps getting invited, hellooooo)
Great Horse Cleaning Tips ( Maybe that was "house cleaning", at least I hope so.)
Depression and Anxiety Help (you invited Jessica Fletcher over for beer and Brats didn't you?)
Pimp my mailbox (or some such home decorating show)
Petty Officer Junction(what I call the non-original NCIS show)

 BBC'w "Fastest Animals on Earth (sorry folks it's still a fully grown Holstein dropped from a C-130 at 150.626 ft/sec assuming a 0.7 drag coefficient)
And of course, Home Shopping Channel:
Buy Jewelry Now!
Jewelry and You!
Jewelry to accessorize with your wearable towel!
What /were/are your favorite shows? If the Internet was down tomorrow for something what would you watch? Or would you watch at all?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14

It's that time of year folks, flying cupids, Hallmark cards, and expensive presents.

I appear to have received an old antique box.

My gifts to Partner in Grime were wrapped.  I had joked that all we had at the house was Christmas paper, and he suggested I could just draw some cupids on there to avoid spending money on new paper (we have expensive tastes in liquor and firearms but we are notoriously cheap on overall household costs).  I did one better and made my own paper online and printed it out.

Partner said, "add in a couple Leprechauns and a birthday cake and we'll never have to buy wrapping paper again!"

See here at the range, we do things a little differently (different is such a much nicer word that "weird"), and Partner and I often make each other something, sometimes serious, sometimes silly.  

Today Partner got a handcrafted paracord bracelet that any engineer would like, and a copy of Fire and Steam by author Christian Wolmar (and cupid picked up a bottle of Balvenie 16 to add to the Range Single Malt Collection.) But I still can't figure out what is in the old box.

Over the last 6 years together, there have been some pretty neat things, but today's gift was completely unexpected.

It started with a little stuffed animal in a coffee mug and a card of course, with a somewhat cryptic message.

Hmmm, it's a copy of the Blaster's Handbook (copyright 1949)

 Apparently, I'm going to need some directions with my "gift"
Time to carefully open the box.

It seems Partner in Grime has Put the BOMB in Bath Bombs!

If you haven't seen one, ladies buy them at the drugstore or from DIY Etsy shops for their bathtime. Made out of baking soda, citric acid, Epsom salts, water, oil and fragrance oil they are usually formed into round balls and make a wonderful fizzy and moisturizing bath. The DIY ones tend to be a bit more crumbly than the store bought but the ingredients are more natural.

Mine smell like something with lavender/sandalwood and perhaps orange, a restful scent, just toss in the bath water. By the time it was light enough to get a good photo, I'd already tried one out as I telework today, and didn't have to just do a quick shower.   I almost hate to use the other ones up, they just make me smile to look at them.

Well done Partner, well done!

I hope you all have a memorable Valentine's Day.
 I know for one I'm going to have a BLAST.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Armed with Tooth and Claw - a Woman's Perspective on Concealed Carry

From outside the bedroom window comes the screech of an owl, a sudden war cry beyond its peaceful hooting. With it, a mouse or a squirrel cries like a baby as it perishes, blood spilling on the pure white blanket of snow. Inside the house, a girl with a shy smile, patrolling her own habits, not watching nature, not aware of nature watching her, loyal to the mythology of safety that has four walls, but no defense for it. She comes home at night at the same time, leaving in the morning at the same time, driveway dark, obvious to anything outside that watches her world with the same intensity by which she disregards it.

A couple of miles away, a moonlit lane between pine trees and stone. There in the shadows, only steps away, a long shadow shifts. A woman with a gun stops, sensing movement, sensing darkness within the dark, in the woods past her mailbox. Her hand moves to her firearm, poised. A bobcat, easing back through the trees. A shadow, a form that slides like light through a picket fence, slanting sideways, then disappearing under cover. Her hand eases away from her weapon, but she backs away, towards light, towards home and sleep.

The girl with the shy smile wakes after a night's sleep, window open slightly as the room grows stuffy with the door closed, the frigid air invited in to touch her forehead. She doesn't fear sleeping with the window open, the nearby town is small, she knows most of her neighbors. There's a phone on the nightstand; she can call 911 if there's ever any problem way out here. The morning finds small footprints under her window in the pristine snow, a raccoon or a fox, stalking its prey in the night. Out in the driveway another set of prints, melting in the morning sun, evidence of something much larger that watched in the night before shifting off into shadow.

The woman with a gun walks quietly along a country road, her revolver, just as quietly, on her hip. She goes a different time each day, knowing that predators rely on patterns. There in the distance, a couple of coyotes, trotting along the edge of the fields, through snow that clutched at their empty bellies, heads cocked, eyes forward, using instinct, tooth and sinew to find that one small morsel there breathing under the snow, trying to hide for its life, a small shivering rabbit, wishing as desperately not to be eaten alive as the coyote desperately wishes to consume. The coyote stops to look at her, with what looks to be a smile on his face, not one of welcome but of mockery. the smile of a predator. He watches as she moves on down the road, round in the chamber, ready if needed.

The girl with a shy smile readies her day, moving with the ritual of pattern, of expectancy, iPod buds in her ears, coffee brewing, she doesn't see the dark form, standing sideways between the trees outside, just watching. If she looked, she might see the smile, a coyotes smile, not one that hits of internal laughter but a laughter as mirthless as the smile of the Spinx, amusement as cold and hard as the ground. She gets the newspaper off her porch, not locking the door behind her.

The woman with a gun walks back towards the house, when from the edge of the woods comes motion and sound, a blurred commotion, a high pitched, soft pleading scream that breaks the lie of safety. She looks towards the trees, and sees something darting quickly, a dark shape, too small to be human, too quick for her to catch a good glimpse. There, in the ditch, a small white form, a jagged tear in it's furry throat, rabbity legs twitching in the remembrance of life.

The girl with a shy smile steps from her bedroom, knowing she's 5 minutes behind schedule. She wrinkles her nose. There is a smell in the house, the stink of a cat, the odor of resentment. From the hallway, a shadow coalesces, the smile of the Sphinx, flat morning light on flat edged weapon, the claw of this particular predator. There, just past the pure white blanket on her bed, is her phone. It is 30 feet away. The cops are 20 minutes away.

The woman with a gun hears the siren racing down the road nearby. She moves towards the house, ears listening to anything unusual, eyes looking for anything out of order, a habit that is not fear but caution, locking the door behind her, smiling in her freedom to live out here, prepared and aware. Outside the snow blankets the ground with the perception of purity, mother natures design that hides the evidence of how the processes of life and death, predator and prey, play out in both animal and human kind.

She's a woman with a gun because she knows that predators will travel the roads and quiet fields of our life as long as there is darkness, the derisive echoes of their need carried out on harsh wind. She looks around to make sure she is alone, before heading out to her truck, the morning air cooling the blood, the field empty and quiet, except for the steady sound of a small wounded animal, a ceaseless and unemphatic cry into the wind.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It's Super Bowl Weekend

Everyone - we are busy with a house project this weekend and I"m going to beta read Old NFO's new Rimworld full-length novel, so I will just say "have a safe and fun Super Bowl Sunday". Since we don't own a TV, we will be curled up with books (and single malt).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lao Tzu - Quotes for the Evening

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

"To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

“Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.”

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

"Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.”

"To see things in the seed, that is genius."

"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe."

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”