Even Wool is on PeTA’s Bad Side?

So, last night I learned that PeTA is opposed even to wool because sheep are harmed in the production of it.  My mind is boggled.


Listen, I’ve no doubt that there’s animal cruelty in some corners of the wool industry, but this seems like such an easy problem to solve.  You locate the people who treat the sheep cruelly and you boycott them and you encourage folks to buy their wool elsewhere.  Shearing sheep is not inherently degrading or troubling to a sheep any more than you getting a haircut is degrading or troubling to you.

I don’t know.  I find it baffling.

Oh, I Forgot to Tell You The Other Weird Thing

The Tiny Cat and the Butcher now have some agreement where he will pick her up and put her on the counter to eat her food.  He claims that she can’t get up on the counter.  And yet, I find her in places higher than the counter all the time.

And I was all like “I’m not having any of this ridiculousness.”

But this morning, as I was pouring my cereal, she came in and flashed her big green eyes at me and I fucking put her up on the counter so she could eat.

I’m disgusted.

Oh Amazon, I Shake My Head at You

I ordered some stuff from Amazon and all the stuff that wasn’t actually Amazon but was one of their affiliates went out right away and was guaranteed before Christmas.  But the actual Amazon stuff?  The books?  Oh no, they said, we can’t get that to you before Christmas.

But, I thought, I live in Nashville.  The two biggest places you ship from are within a day’s drive of my house.  If you get it out the door this week, I’ll have it before Christmas.

And I just got word that the items have shipped, from Memphis.  Still no guarantee, according to Amazon, that they’ll get here before next Thursday.  It makes me laugh.

I remember the good ole days when I used to buy all my school books from Amazon and back then, that was enough to get you a Christmas gift from them.  I believe it was a travel mug.

And yes, kids, we had to walk up hill both ways in the snow to use it.

My Adventure with The Sacred Harp

So, today, I had to try to find out of any of the different versions of The Sacred Harp–each one claiming to be more authentic than the last, each one’s claim on true authenticity more dubious than the last, at least as far as I can tell–still had George Pullen Jackson’s historical piece up-front.  I ended up calling down to Carrollton, Georgia, where the Denson book is now published.

The gentleman I talked to informed me that there were nothing but hymns in his book.  He did not want it cluttered with any of that new junk.  That would be funny enough, considering that Jackson died in ’53.  But the thing that had me laughing the rest of the afternoon was that I swore I could practically hear the wink in his voice.

Sometimes the arguments are older than you are, and you just have them because you always have.  And what can you do in the face of your place in history but play your part when the tie comes and try to enjoy it?

Is a Fee a Tax?

Let’s talk about HB0010 just for a second.  Maggart & Lynn are sponsoring it.  The wording is such:

Election Laws – As introduced, requires identification and proof of citizenship for voter registration; requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots. – Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 2 and Title 2, Chapter 7.

I direct your attention to the parts I’ve bolded and ask your opinion on this.  So far, the “qualified photographic identification” seems to be either a state-issued driver’s license or a state ID.  Both of which cost money to obtain.  So, if you want to vote, you have to procure AND PAY FOR a photo ID issued by the state.  I’ll say it again–you have to pay the state for an ID in order to vote.  How does that not come into direct conflict with the 24th Amendment?

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Are the state legislators now not considering a fee (for the license) a tax?  It’s money collected by the state which you have to give the state in order to vote.

I’m no lawyer, but it seems like the very first election after this bill is passed ends us up in Federal Court.  That seems imminently foreseeable.  And fighting federal court cases costs money.

And aren’t we having a budget crisis?

A Preview of What We’ll Be Fighting About

The very first bills are posted at the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.

There’s some stuff about expanding what kinds of roads could have tolls on them and some stuff about lowering the tax on food and a proposed constitutional amendment to ban an income tax.  I think lowering the tax on food is a good idea.

But here’s what I wonder.  What is the strategy for fixing our budget mess?  I’m no economist, but it seems to me that, if you have more going out than you have coming in, you either have to reduce what’s going out or increase what’s coming in, or both.  Our main source of revenue is the sales tax.  So, how does reducing the sales tax put our finances back in shape?

I don’t know.  I, of course, think it should be done, but I also want to know what the overall financial plan for the State is.

There are a couple of gun things in there–letting military folks get out of paying some fee–which, again, normally I could give two shits about, but now am wondering if we need “coming in” to be equal to or greater than “going out,” why are we proposing lowering any of the “coming in”?–and a constitutional amendment to protect your right to hunt.  I’m not sure why we need a constitutional amendment for that, but fine, whatever.

A couple of things about how we treat children during and after divorce–one that would make presumptive custody joint custody and the other that would set an end date on child support payments.  I didn’t know there wasn’t already an end date on child support payments.  I thought that, once the kid turned 18, you were safe to show back up in its life pretending like you always loved it but its hag mom just wouldn’t cut you a break, unless your ex-wife had a really good lawyer.  But you learn something new every day.

HB0002 states “Child Custody and Support – As introduced, enacts the ‘Equal and Fair Parenting Act’ to create a rebuttable presumption that equally shared parenting time is the custody arrangement in the best interest of a child.” Yep, you read that right.  It makes the baseline “equally shared parenting time.”  Half and half.  Even for school-age kids.

My friends, be prepared to live in the same school district as your ex forever.

I think this kind of legislation is well-meaning, but we all know that people who actually put their kids first will make some arrangement where one parent has more parenting time than the other just so that both parents can find jobs and the kid can have a stable school life and this legislation will be used by parents who just want new and exciting ways to fuck each other over using their kids as weapons to do so.  I do not envy the judge who has to go through the timesheets.

Anyway, I’m expecting more troubling stuff in the pipeline.

This Time of Year

The thought is that the door cracks open on October 31 and all the haunts that aren’t done can slip back in and do their work until the door slams closed again the night before May 1.  Some pagans see it as one half of the year devoted to darkness, one half devoted to light.  One half to living, one half to dying.

I don’t think it works that easy.  We all have our own rhythms.  At Thanksgiving, we were talking about May in our family, how it’s become the month of family deaths (and some births, obviously, or I would not be here typing this thing to you now).  And clearly, if the door so firmly closes at the beginning of May for everyone, you’d not see so many of us spilling over in one direction or the other throughout the month.

But, my friends, I do think that December is a hard month, for the living and the dead–that time of year when our absenses from each other are the most obvious.  Grandma will not make her cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast.  You father will not stamp his feet in the doorway again to shake the snow loose.  His daughter will not light the candles in the evening.

And yet, that longing is palpable isn’t it?  From both sides.  To do those things with each other, now, at this time of year.

I did a tarot card reading once that I still don’t know how to talk about.  It wasn’t like I normally do tarot card readings; it was like they go in horror movies.  Except that I guess it was only scary to me.  The thing was the grief, just this whole-body, soul-shaking grief that wasn’t mine.

I don’t know if we ever learn better.  I don’t know if we even go on.  I just know that feeling does, even after the person whose grief it is has gone.

Stopped Short

I read this over at Angel H.’s about the manager of a homeless shelter assaulting a woman and I got to the part where she reveals that this fucker had already served time for sexually assaulting another woman at that exact same shelter where he somehow was still the manager!!! and my brain just melted down.

What the fuckity-fuck-fuck?

You work at a homeless shelter.  You sexually assault a woman.  You go to jail.  And then you…

…go back to work at that same homeless shelter?

How does that happen?

Where is the investigation into that?

You Can’t Not Have Christmas if All Your Relatives are Christmassy

So, even though I’m a heathen and we’re almost flat broke and our parents said “No Christmas presents” and the Butcher doesn’t have a job and paw’s run off and I’m real sick and the baby’s gonna starve to death, a girl’s still got to buy some Christmas presents anyway.

For the recalcitrant brother–jack shit.  Which he will be relieved by because he’s not getting me jack shit either.

For the Butcher–opuntia ficus-indica seeds.  I may have to cultivate them for him as he has never been able to grow cactus from seeds, but opuntia can grow outside here, which makes it a cool cactus in my book.  Did I ever tell you about the huge opuntia growing along the fence of the church-yard which turns out to hold the remains of Robert Johnson?  And you know what I say, good enough for Robert Johnson, good enough for me.

For the nephews–they’re all getting books on paper-airplane making.  I will leave it to their own imaginations to figure out how to make said airplanes lethal.

For Mom–a stuffed frog for her collection.  I now understand why people collect things: as a kindness for people who are obliged to give them gifts and have no idea what to get them.

For Dad–a thing called a thumb-piano.  I don’t know, but it looked like something he’d have a good time with.

So, hurray!  That’s done.

Two Political Questions

1.  Why is this shocking?

2.  Maybe I am just becoming a grouch in my old age, but I did not find the shoe incident funny.  I found it pretty terrifying, actually, that a man could stand up and shout something and get two good tosses off at THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES while the President has to do his own defense.

I don’t care if our President is Bozo the Clown or that cat that is constantly shitting outside the litterbox or whatever other annoying scary thing you can think of, what if those had been, I don’t know, ceramic knives?

I don’t know.  Maybe it will seem funny in a day or two but right now it just seems like everyone is laughing at the fact that we just watched a massive Secret Service failure.


I still think that the weirdest thing about this PCOS stuff–well, not about it, but about getting it taken care of–is really how tremendously different things feel.  Yesterday, for example, I woke up, did some shit for my dad, made soup, raked leaves, ran to town, dyed wool, played outside with the dog and cat, twisted my ankle slightly, and made a fire.  All before dinner.

Basically because I wanted to just be outside and be moving around.  Remember when you’re a little kid and you first learn to ride your bike and then that’s all you want to do?  If you’re outside, you want to be on your bike, all the time?  That’s kind of how I feel about being outside here.

And part of it is that it’s so beautiful in my back yard that I am still not over the novelty of the fact that, as long as I continue to pay my mortgage, I can continue to have that back yard.

But part of it is just that moving around feels so different.  I asked my doctor about it and she said she didn’t know, that maybe fixing how my body processes insulin has had that side effect.  I don’t know and I don’t really care.

All I know is that taking two days this week just to move some leaves around in my yard feels like the biggest decadence.

Though, I must admit that all the good-feeling in the world has not softened me on my hatred of in-the-house work.

A Quick Guide to Kool-Aid Dying

I found dying this batch of yarn to be even easier than the first batch and so I thought I’d show you how it’s done.p1010001

Procure some Kool-aid.  Be aware that the tropical punch Kool-aid is not blue; the blue packaged Kool-aid twist is the blue Kool-aid.  And the two oranges are the same color, so you just need to choose one.


Procure some 100% wool yarn and untwist the skein.  Then make sure both ends are tied (that’s what the pink yarn is for).


Now, here’s the tricky part.  You’re going to be putting wool yarn in hot water and, because of that, you’re running the danger of felting.  So, ALWAYS add your yarn to the hot water and do not move it around more than necessary.  So, obviously, fill your sink with water as hot as you can stand, and put your yarn in it.  Let it sit for fifteen or twenty minutes.


Meanwhile, put three packets of the same color Kool-aid into a cup of warm water to make some liquid dye.  Note the microwave-friendly containers behind the mugs.  For the dying stage, you want to keep things as wet as possible.  So, next curl up one (or two) skeins in each container and…


Pour on your Kool-aid.  You can also sprinkle on color as the inspiration strikes you.  Keep in mind that, like traditional tie-dying, you’ll have a lot of white on the parts where the Kool-aid can’t reach.


Do up another batch as well.  Cover both with plastic wrap.  Put one in the microwave for two minutes.  When it’s done, take it out and let it rest and put the other one in.  In a good microwave, each batch should only take two two-minute cycles.  You’re looking to see if the water is now clear.  Once it is, your stuff is dyed.


Now, you’re going to fill up the other side of your sink with hot water and dump your yarn into it to get rid of any excess Kool-aid that might still be on the yarn.

Then you’re just going to hang them outside to dry.


Which may involve twisting your ankle on the root of the damn hackberry tree.  In that case, you may have to go to more creative lengths to dry your yarn.


Chicken Soup

I’m sure the gals over at Home Ec 101 would tell you that the first rule of cooking is to create something nutritious and delicious for the folks you are serving.

But the truth is that the first rule of cooking is “Don’t kill the people you’re feeding with the food you’re feeding them.”

If I ever write a cookbook, mark my words, I’m making that rule number one.  It’s especially important if you’re only feeding yourself, because if you kill yourself with your own cooking, there’s no one to call an ambulance.

I mention all this only to report that the homemade chicken soup I made for lunch (and will happily again eat for dinner) was fabulous.

I share the recipe with you here:

One diced chicken breast

One bag of frozen vegetables

One can of corn

One bag of black beans and rice

A dash of every seasoning in the cupboard

A couple of boullion cubes for flavor

Cook until you get done raking leaves onto your flowerbeds.  Eat.  Knock yourself over with how good and simple it was.  Ponder why we even rake leaves.  Decide, fuck it, even if we are all going to lose our jobs and have to move in with our parents…

Oh, hey, my parents rent!  I could still keep my house by having my parents move in with me!  Oh, heavenly day.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, even if we all are going to lose our jobs and have our parents move in with us to pay the bills, a girl is still going to need her own Kool-aid afghan and so, Merry Christmas to me, I’m going yarn shopping.

Nashville, We Are a Weird Bunch

On the one hand, you have the folks spending all their money and effort on pushing that English-only crap (I have decided that their position can be boiled down to “We’re totally not racist, we just don’t like the foreign people we live with or who visit here.”).

On the other hand, last night the congregation of Our Lady of Guadalupe found out that their debt has been paid off and that they are a self-sustaining, independent congregation in their diocese.

Both things make me weepy if I think about them for too long, but the second makes me all Christmasy inside.  I will never understand how folks can feel anything but enriched by the diversity of our community.


I was howling with laughter when I read that the head of Thomas Nelson has stopped paying attention to financial news, because it’s making him kind of sick to his stomach all the time.  I mean, how sad that he’s a little sick to his stomach when so many of his ex-employees are without jobs right before the holidays.

But now I feel bad for laughing, because the Professor called me last night to tell me all about folks who, like me, must have thought their jobs were pretty damn secure, who found out Thursday that they weren’t.

We’ve already been scraping by for longer than I care to think about on just my income.  I have no idea what we would do if we lost that.  Part of me is all like, “Of course I’m going to lose my job.  I’m taking too much pleasure in this great house.  Too much unbridled happiness is always met with comeuppance.”  And I try to remind that part of me that such a worldview is pretty fucked up and that a person ought to be able to enjoy a little something without feeling bad about it or being punished for it.

So, I don’t know.  I’m pretty positive there are things before us that will go, if times get that rough, but this is the first time I’ve felt like, “Wow, it could be me,” and what would I do?  I’m not sure I have useful skills.

My dad is all excited because he believes that God will provide.  I’m annoyed by this, of course, because I’ve spent so much of my life being pissed off that God would as so much of my dad and in return let the kind of hearbreak he’s had visit him as strongly as it has, like God wasn’t living up to His end of the bargain.  And now my dad’s all convinced that the terms of the bargain have been met, hallelujah, start preaching to the recalcitrant daughter.

And you know, I sat there on the phone wondering if it was true.  And then a mischevious voice in my ear asked, “What if it took you doing what you do to get the Old Fart to come through?”

And I laughed, because, who the hell knows?

In doing this geneology stuff, I’m struck by the constant feeling that everything you know about your family is true and untrue in equal measures.  My grandpa, Hildreth Heistand Phillips, for instance, given at birth three last names.  And I easily found the Heistands, once I had the spelling right, but I found no more Phillipses than Hick’s grandpa Oscar (and grandma Mary) and no Hildreths.

Of course, I have heard all the stories about the two deaf-mute great grand howevermanys back there, but always as being on the Heistand side of the family, as an explanation for why my grandpa’s mom was so abusive.

But I’m digging through old census records to see if I can find anything about Oscar Phillips (I’ve had good luck finding branches of families by reading down the whole census page and seeing who lives right near by that has the same last name) and I find Oscar and Mary listed living next to Alfred Phillips and his family and Charles Phillips and his family and there, next to both Oscar and Mary, it says “deaf/mute.”

And playing a hunch I start searching for Mary E. Hildreth with my Mary’s birthdate, born in Ohio, and in short order, I’ve found her, in Ohio, listed also as deaf/mute, living with her parents and then, same parents, living in Michigan, in the same township she would later live in as Mary Phillips with Oscar.

So, there’s the last last name I needed to make my grandpa’s name make sense.  And there’s the proof that it wasn’t on the Heistand side that this happened, so, if my great grandma had some anger issues, it wasn’t the fault of her deaf/mute parents, because they were not.

Of course, in talking to my dad, he claims that Oscar wasn’t mute anyway, that he went deaf from scarlet fever he came down with in his late teens or early twenties, so he spoke just fine.

I don’t know where I was going with all this.  In my mind, it seemed to be connected, but looking back on it, I’m not sure it is.

Water in the Creek!

Whew!  I’ve been busy, thanks to you guys.  I bought a rake.  I filled my compost pile half way.  I had the Butcher take out the scrub pines and in their place, we threw down a few stepping stones so now, hopefully, people will stop tromping across my peonies.


Clearly, they need to be straightened out some.  But people better use them, that’s all I’m saying.

But the important point is that the creek has water in it!


Oh, yeah, and right along there is where I planted the crocuses, which I will now be able to see because the pines are down.


A tiny waterfall.


That’s the larger waterfall, which is not that big.  That small log is right at the end of our property, I think.


There’s our greenhouse, which we still have made no decision about.  I like it, because it’s creepy, but it’s falling down.


That’s where the creek turns to then form the side boundary of our lot and run out down to the road.


Another shot of the turn from on the bridge.


And that’s from that same bridge looking towards the other neighbor’s.


There are all kinds of weird things all over the yard.  Like this gate that doesn’t go anywhere anymore, at the back of the property.


And this sink right by the greenhouse.  I suspect that bed right there might have been for herbs at some point, but we’re not going to have it ready for herbs any time soon.  The magical herbs, at least, are going out front in the spring.


And that’s our back yard, from the very back of it.

Some day, I will have a talented photographer out to take better pictures.  But for now, you’ll have to put up with mine.

All Things in Popular Music DO Lead to The Band!

So, Vesta44 asks if the Hawkins singing Susie-Q is Hawkshaw Hawkins.  It is not.  Hawkshaw, for those of you who may remember, died alongside Patsy Cline.  I believe he had a couple of hits and was from West Virginia.

Our Hawkins is Dale Hawkins, who was from Louisiana.  How does that lead us to The Band?

Dale Hawkins’s cousin is Ronnie Hawkins, who moved to Canada with his band The Hawks.  While in Canada, everyone in The Hawks–except Levon Motherfucking Helm–left and some folks like, oh, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, joined up.

When they left Hawkins, they became…yes… The Band!