The Impending Rain Can’t Stop Me from Gardening!

So, Now Kirkland and Smith Say They Lied at the Debate Last Night

They say they never personally gay-bashed anyone. Smith goes so far as to say the following:

“I heard guys that said, ‘If there was a gay dude I knew about, he’d fall down the line or get pushed over’ … but I haven’t actually seen anything like that or seen a blanket party or anything like that,” he said. “… I’ve never known anybody personally to do that.”

So, not only did he never gay bash anyone, he doesn’t know of anyone who did. Kirkland’s people refuse to say.

But let’s remember how this whole thing got started–because someone at the debate asked a question about how gays in the military “drive up federal health care spending because gays live an extremely medically destructive lifestyle.”

The second that bullshit got spewed Kirkland, who, let’s not forget is a medical doctor, had a medical obligation to refute it. He did not. Instead, he joked about how folks in the military “take care of” gay people.  And Smith concurred.

Let me just repeat–when faced with factual untruths (what we better know as lies), both Kirkland and Smith lied in return, in order to make a joke about violence against gay people.

Smith’s daughter is gay. People, what do you even say in the face of that?

I don’t know. This whole thing shows that Kirkland and Smith have an incredibly low opinion of our armed forces, basically saying that, if gays openly served, the military is too weak to successfully integrate them. This is just so patently false I don’t know how active duty folks or their families could vote for them. I don’t know how they’d dare look active duty folks in the eye after this.

Our service members wouldn’t follow orders? The military would fail to deal with rulebreakers appropriately? I mean, just how inept do they thing the current military is?

Just because you’re an asshole doesn’t mean everyone you perceive of as being like you is an asshole.

And Kirkland’s not apologizing because he hasn’t been asked.

Like gay people need to grovel before him before he’ll deign to apologize.

Jeez, good luck moderate Republican voters in the 8th. You’re going to need it.

Edited to add: I’m more and more bothered by the underlying assumption here. It’s one we talk about all the time, I know, but it’s so clear here that I can’t let it go by without comment. Kirkland and Smith think that men are monsters. They think that men who sexually desire other men would rape or molest men in the showers. They think that straight men could not be told not to bash their openly gay comrades. They think that, even if they don’t personally know of any men who’ve assaulted or killed gay men, that it’s a great joke to make at a political event because of course “everyone knows” how men are. They just can’t help themselves. They have to be violent.

Let me be clear. Being a man does not equal being a monster. We can expect more from men then monstrosity. Men who care about their families and who take care of their children and who live their whole lives without ever raping anyone or assaulting gay people are the vast majority.

And yet, the stereotypes we hear about men from men are filled with these monsters who cannot really be trusted to be a part of society.

It’s insulting and it needs to stop. It’s not good for anyone for us all to assume monstrosity is the norm.

8th District Republican Candidates Brag about Gay Bashing

I’d like to assume this and this are mostly bravado, but who knows? Even if it is bravado, it’s disgusting–grown men, who want to make the laws that govern us bragging about committing violent crimes?

Tennessee, I ask you, even if you are uncomfortable about gay people, why would you elect anyone who wants to make the laws you have to live by who admits, openly, and with glee, that he’s broken criminal law and hurt other people? It’s like some disturbing game show, where you pick with violent bragging psychopath you want to think he’s better than you.

And let’s just be honest here–when it comes to publicly bragging about “taking care” of someone, there are only two reasons you would do that. Either you’re an evil jerk whose minister should introduce you to this guy, Jesus (I know, Jesus sucks compared to the parts of the Bible where you get to run around kicking the asses of people who are weak and vulnerable, but what can you do? When you called yourself Christian, I expected you to be trying to act like Christ. Bragging about beating up people who are different than you is hardly even trying to act like Christ.) or you are trying too hard to assure people that you’re not gay.  People who are sure in their sexuality don’t act like this, you know?

I don’t know. I was going to go off about how men who behave this way are pretty much signally that they have issues and are extremely vulnerable to embarrassing, but hilarious, sex scandals (since they so obviously have some weird sexual hangups), but I’m sidetracked by the idea of how much it must suck to be a guy like this.

I know a lot of men, liberal, conservative, gun-nut, etc., and, while many of them might have been assholes as teenagers about people’s sexualities, once they got their own stuff under control–figured out what they wanted, who they wanted, their likes and dislikes, they became completely disinterested in whether some dudes, somewhere, off in the distance, were gay. By the time you get to be our age, if you’re still worried about who’s gay, it’s not about the gay folks.

I mean, not like it ever was, but really, if you are of legal drinking age and you find yourself obsessed with gay people and what they’re doing as a group, like if you think they’re undermining the military or looking to rape you at any second or leading politicians astray or what have you, it’s time for you to seek therapy. You are stuck in some conspiracy-theory level rut.

But when I read about guys like this, bragging about this stuff in public, I think this must be a very different way to approach sexuality from the guys I’m friends with. This is not an understanding of yourself based on what you like and who you love. It’s an understanding of yourself based basically on “hurt them, before they can hurt you. The person least hurt wins.”

And it’s not that I don’t think that’s one current of American sexual identity. There are a lot of people, of all genders, who move through the world interacting with sexual “partners” (and I use that term loosely with this dynamic) as if it is a struggle to see who can hurt whom first.

But its a sad way to move through the world. It cuts you off from real connection with the people you could love.

So, this whole thing nags at me. I find it really scary that these guys are sitting around bragging about assaulting innocent people, just because they know their audience will eat it up (and shame on you, audience, for eating it up, instead of seeing it for the evil it is). But I also find it really sad and gross, like these are people whose intimate lives must kind of be a nightmare for them and for others.

I mean, because, if not, if they are just imitating this level of fucked-up-ness? Because they think it will get them votes?

All the alternatives are sad and scary.

Edited to add: Holy god. As if it’s not bad enough that they sat around joking about gay bashing, afterward Ron Kirkland tried to claim it was a “joke” and that he has gay friends (and supposedly had them in the military) and that his condoning of violence against gay people SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS CONDONING VIOLENCE AGAINST GAY PEOPLE. I don’t even know what to say in the face of that. I mean, if this is even remotely true, if this goes beyond anything I’ve talked about in this post, and is now straight into evil territory.

I mean, imagine that you have an attribute, like maybe you’re a long-haired hippie or you wear those really tight jeans the kids rave about these days, or you’re gay, whatever, you have some characteristic that other people don’t like, and you heard the Republican candidates going on about how they hate those long-hairs or those kids with their tight jeans. If you think they don’t know anybody like that, you can make a case for them just being an asshole.

But when they tell you, “I have friends who have long hair” or “I have friends who wear their jeans way too tight” and then the joke about beating them up? It’s… I don’t know. I want to say “vile” but that seems like an insult to vile things. Kirkland thinks it’s funny to imagine someone kicking the shit out of his friends.

Or he somehow thinks it’s better if we believe he thinks the idea of someone kicking the shit out of his friends is funny rather than we think he’s condoning kicking the shit out of his friends.

And let me be very clear about something. The 8th District has seen the Westboro Baptist folks show up to protest a soldier’s funeral–Sgt. Dustin Laird. That kid wasn’t gay, but those evil fuckers didn’t care. The fact that he’d give his life for a country where gay people aren’t supposed to get the shit kicked out of them pissed them off.

It is not hyperbole to point out that last night, at the 8th District Republican debate, Ray Kirkland and Randy Smith aligned themselves with the Westboro Baptist folks–they are also upset that they live in a country where gay people aren’t supposed to get the shit kicked out of them. In a district where people know so clearly what people who hate gay people will do when motivated, because they’ve seen them at a soldier’s funeral, we’re supposed to believe that a little gay-hating for funsies is okay, that it’s just something soldiers do?

That we should all just be able to take a joke about a little gay-bashing?

Tell that to the people who had to protect Laird’s family from the gay bashers.

Edited to add, again: I don’t want you to think that I don’t think you can follow a link, but over at Speak to Power, they have a post that illustrates exactly what “taken care of” meant in the military when these two guys were in the military. This is what they were joking about.

Speaking of Sunflowers…

I have just learned that some of the oldest domesticated sunflowers ever found were found in Middle Tennessee and that there’s a great archaeological debate about whether sunflowers were independently domesticated in Tennessee and Central America or if people from Mexico brought or traded them until they finally ended up here.

That would have been about 4,000 years ago.

Words I Never Thought I’d Say

I had the most pleasant trip to the gynecologist, today. It was so fast. And, yes, painful, but not too bad. For you, gentlemen, imagine a diarrhea cramp coupled with a poking sensation and that will get you pretty close. And the woman who took my blood was a genius. I don’t think I’ve ever had blood taken so painlessly and quickly.

I asked if the metformin could be making me a tick magnet, but she said, no, that she is also a tick magnet. Some folks just are. She herself had a handful of ticks yesterday.

Also, the next time I’m in, I’ll go for my first mammogram.

I don’t know why, but that kind of weirds me out.

The TNDP is Trying to Kill Me!

Not one week ago, I daydreamed about a day when we would get a press release from the TNDP featuring supportive words about Democrats and nothing about Chip Forrester’s negative feelings about Republicans.

Today, which is NOT A FRIDAY! I received a press release from the TNDP with supportive words about Joe Towns (D – Memphis), about an interesting subject (healthcare reform). And at the end? It outlined ways Democrats could do stuff.

I am not even kidding you.

This is me upon reading said press release:

Ha, and just think, if I ever have to write a post about my trip to the gynecologist, I can totally use this same picture.

I know, it looks like a sad image, but that was just me being overcome by this strange feeling of happiness. Also, quite possibly, I am eating an earthworm. Don’t ponder that picture too deeply.

Contemplating Sunflowers

I told y’all that we had decided not to do a big garden this year, but instead fill those back beds into sunflowers. I also am not renting a tiller this year, as our financial situation is a bit more modest, since the Butcher doesn’t have a job. Though, thinking back, maybe the Butcher didn’t have a job last year at this time, either. I forget. The economy’s been shitty, but we’re all supposed to suffer silently and accept that this is our faults.

At least, that’s what Glen Casada says–go get a job.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I say it to the Butcher, too, but we’ve been through this a couple of times now, so I know how it goes. It’s funny in that peculiar way whenever I hear Tennesseans, especially Tennessee politicians talking about how not everyone needs to go to college. And, you know, on the surface, I agree with that. But beneath the surface? When I see the Butcher up for jobs against folks who’ve been to college?

I sometimes wonder if this “not everyone needs to go to college” meme isn’t perpetrated by people who have every intention of sending their kids to college in order to insure their kids will have a little advantage in the job market.

I also still thing that discouraging kids from going to college is a way for Tennessee to continue to ensure employers that they will be able to get smart people to work for them under exploitation conditions.  You can get a man with the smarts of an engineer who will never have to be paid what an engineer is paid and who’s never going to be hired away by another company.

Anyway, that was a long digression just to say that I broke the two beds up by hand, while the Professor came behind me and dropped seeds. She’s of the opinion, and she’s probably right, that we’re going to have too many sunflower seeds for the beds we have. Even with as large as they are. So, now I’m trying to decide where else to plant sunflowers.

Of course, I need to get the other two beds planted first. And it’s supposed to rain all weekend, I just saw now. So I guess I need to get home tonight and get busy on them. I wish it would rain during the week and leave my weekends sunny.

But at least it’s raining. I was getting a little tired of lugging my watering can around the yard, trying to keep everything from wilting this early in the season.

I’m really looking forward to a huge bunch of sunflowers. It’ll be worth the effort, I know. But I have to tell you, second only to weeding, I find breaking up soil without aid of a tiller to be one of the most unfun tasks of gardening.

Only So Much You Can Do

I was talking with a new mom the other day who is all anxious about doing exactly the right things so that her baby grows up to be a happy and healthy person, not too selfish, not too wishy-washy, not a quitter, but not trapped into doing things he doesn’t like because he doesn’t want to disappoint others.

And, since I have known this new mom her whole live, which is practically all of mine, we talked for a long time about our family.

She’s upset because the son of our dead cousin isn’t that interested in staying connected with his dad’s side of the family. And I’m upset because of my brother’s ways. So, we talked about that for a long time. She wanted to know if I thought my brother should have been brought up differently. And I said yes, but I also said that I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made to the fundamental nature of him.  It would have been easier on him, I know. And lord knows, he deserved easier.

But sometimes crap happens and I get so pissed and the Butcher will look at me and say, “What’s your problem? He’s always been like that.” And the truth is that he has.

So, she and I talked about that, too, about how you want to think, especially in our family, where the narrative of us all being “The Phillipses” is so strong, that we are all alike in some core way and in it together. But your kid can be different than you, very different.  And your efforts to make yourself understand him as like you lead to some heartbreaking situations.

She, I think, wanted assurances that, if she played her cards right, her kid would end up like the non-fucked up members of the family and not like the fucked up ones.  But she’s pretty sure that there’s only so much you can do. At some point, a kid is an individual and going to make his own choices.

I didn’t tell her that the thing that has finally brought me peace is to realize that we are all fucked up. Being fucked up is being like us.

It’s hard to explain. And maybe I’d be more stressed out if I had kids.

But it’s like, first there is a family, then there is no family, then there is. It’s a cheesy song, but god damn it, it’s also profound.

Eh, I don’t know where I was going with this. And the baby’s not a boy; that just made it easier to write this post.

More Evidence of Non-Black-Eyed Susan-ness

Roy Herron for Us!

As long as “us” can speak English… or not

Okay, scratch “Roy Herron for Us!” Let’s go with “Roy Herron: I will fuck up fucking over the most vulnerable members of society!”

Hmm, maybe a little too vulgar.

“Roy Herron: I think WWJD and then I do the opposite!”

No, no, that’s not going to play well.

What about “Roy Herron: A Man You Can Feel Deeply Ambivalent About!”?

Well, at least it’s honest. And it’s shorter than

“Roy Herron, A Man who Lacks Compassion for People who Aren’t just like Him and Votes for What’s Politically Expedient, Even if It Makes No Damn Sense.”

Black-eyed Susans, My Fat Fanny!

This is not a black-eyed susan. The petals are obviously going to be white.

So, what the fuck is this and how did it get in my garden? Was there a mix-up in the black-eyed susan seed packing plant?

Is there still hope for some black-eyed susans later in the summer?

Will this turn out to be cool, so I don’t have to dig it all up?

Edited to add: Mike Byrd on Twitter has convinced me that these are Shasta Daisies. He says it’s strange that they’re on the verge of blooming so early, but that’s what they are. And I believe him.  Here’s what’s weird, though. These are grown from seeds that came out of a Rudbeckia packet. They have popped up exactly where I planted the Rudbeckia and, as you know, if you follow this blog, I had been assuming they were Rudbeckia.

I planted both r. golsturm and r. hirta, so I have hope that I may still get some black-eyed susans in July, when they bloom.

But still, it’s weird. I wonder how often mix-ups like that happen.

Hidden Rivers

The other day Brittney Gilbert linked to a post about the hidden rivers of San Francisco.  And I’ll admit, it’s been on my mind, in terms of Nashville. There’s the now-underground creek that runs north of the Capitol. Are there others? But more than that, I’m curious about the springs. You see all these signs around town that say “north of here, thirty feet was such-and-such spring.”

Where is the spring now? I honestly don’t get it. Did they all dry up? Did someone plug them up? Pave over them? What? Could they come back? Spring forth from another place?

And who is in charge of maintaining our hidden springs?

Is this under Metro Water’s purview?

Who Are These People Who Learn Life Lessons from Gardening?!

I learn nothing profound from gardening. I think gardening makes me stupider. Things go on all the time and you don’t know why, exactly. That plant does this. That plant does that. The tiny lilac remains tiny. You think that thing is dying, but it’s really just about to send something skyward.

Who knows?

Gardening humbles me. I don’t know shit. In the process of learning shit, there’s just more shit I don’t know.

This morning, I was walking through the back yard complaining to myself about how the god damn turkeys don’t come into our yard and eat all the ticks. I mean, what’s the point in having wild turkeys in your neighborhood if they don’t come into the yard and eat your ticks?

And folks, I am not even kidding you, just as I was at the height of my complaining, the dog startled, and I startled, and a huge turkey startled and I screamed and the turkey took off, flying low over the ground, up over Lloyd, and down into the field. Scared the crap out of me. I mean, I honestly didn’t even know that turkeys could fly.  I felt lucky he didn’t attack us.

Anyway, here’s what I have learned–some things in your garden smell good. The irises smell like citrus candy and the white ones smell the strongest. And chamomile smells like apples, weirdly enough.

Also, don’t even think bad thoughts about turkeys or they will get you. Holy shit, that’s a lesson I’m not going to soon forget.

God, What if McCain Had Won?

The President is supposed to uphold the Constitution. And yet, McCain seems to have given up on the Constitution and switched, instead, to the abuser’s lament–“You made me do this.”

See, Arizona simply had to enact legislation singling people who look too freshly Mexican out for discrimination because Obama didn’t act swiftly enough.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Arizona. What they’re doing is obviously wrong. I hope it will be swiftly overturned. I think that goes without saying.

But I can’t let the abuser’s lament pass unremarked upon. Folks always tell you who they are, you know?

Flowers in the Dark!

I finished up taking the pictures I wanted to take yesterday! Thanks to the Butcher.

Too Fat to Fight a Lie?!

I’m about ready to divorce Diet Dr. Pepper and marry this article. I quote the part that made me smile, but you should read the whole thing.

According to the report, hundreds of first-term enlistees are discharged every year for being unable to control their weight. (The retired generals blame this rate of attrition for $60 million in additional training costs.) But discipline isn’t the problem. For these oversized soldiers, not even the hyper-controlled environment of an Army barracks—and the motivational tactics of the nation’s drill sergeants—can provide for lasting weight loss. The “Military Leaders for Kids” get the picture: Diet and exercise don’t work over the long term.

An Open Letter to Stephen George

Dear Mr. George,

This is not a hit piece.”? Really? I would hope it was a hit piece because if this is how you write about female politicians in general, I’m going to have a lot of open letters to you to write.

Let’s consider who, aside from Evans, gets quoted in your story: Mike Jameson, Jason Holleman, Kevin Sharp, Richard Riebeling, and Joe Hall. You don’t find that the least bit strange or remarkable? I’ll tell you what; I find it strange and remarkable. Not one woman in town had anything quotable to say about Evans? Is that because you didn’t talk to women? Women wouldn’t talk to you? It didn’t occur to you to talk to women? Women don’t have enough power, in general, to make your list of important people to talk to? You just didn’t think your quotes from women were as interesting? What?

It makes me wonder whether criticisms of Evans being too much of a smarty pants, too arrogant, not helpful have to do with her as a politician or have to do with her not behaving how your “certain cadre of well-connected Nashvillians” expect a woman to behave.

You provided no examples of what folks think is her intellectual dishonesty, no examples of what you found arrogant about her, and when you were flailing around for a way to describe her, you said, “Evans looks more like a mom than a crusader,” as if those are mutually exclusive terms.  And what the hell does a “mom” look like anyway? The majority of women over the age of 30 are moms.

So, you’re basically saying that she looks more like a woman than a crusader. Your criticisms of her and the criticisms of her you pass along from others are all pretty thinly-veiled gendered complaints–the way she moves through the world hurts the egos of powerful men. They want her to be more, you know, demure, willing to hide her brains, willing to defer to them, willing to know her place.

And you! You feed into this nonsense. First by calling her arrogant without, you know, providing examples so your readers can judge for themselves, like we should just take the word of you and five other men that this woman is arrogant. Then you call her a mom, as if that tells your reader anything other than her gender and reproductive status–as if her gender and reproductive status somehow shed light on her brains. And your whole framing is kind of vile–that Evans has become less of a public figure, perhaps because she’s learned her place.

As the kids say, WTF? Your story is basically, some men don’t like her, but some dude did fuck her at least a couple of times, and now maybe she’s gotten most of that thinking silliness out of her system.

How is that a story? More than that, how is that not a hit piece? And not even a hit piece on Evans as a person, which, you know, more power to you on that, but on Evans as a woman? That’s kind of a finger in the eye to all your female readers.

Shape up,


Ticks & Me

In the olden days, I never, ever got ticks. Since moving to Whites Creek, I get ticks all the time. I get at least a tick, but usually two or three, when I go out to Bells Bend. My one day high is 12, which was, until that day, twice the amount of ticks I’d had in my whole life. The Bells Bend ticks are black.

Today I pulled two small red ticks off me. I had been briefly to a park to review it for Pith, but mostly I had been out in the back yard with the Professor planting sunflowers.

I have checked the dog and cats and none of them have ticks. We Frontline them, but Frontline doesn’t repel ticks, it just kills them, so if we were in a particularly ticky place, you’d think we’d all be particularly ticky.

But no, it’s just me.

It about makes me not want to go outside any more, but I can’t not go outside. I have flowers and vegetables to tend!

I joked about getting a small, diaper-wearing chicken to roam me and eat the ticks off of me, because I read online that the surest way to get rid of ticks is with guinea fowl.

But I am seriously skeeved. Is there something–Deep Woods Off applied every twenty minutes, some pesticide, something, that I can spray on myself to make myself less attractive?

And is there a possibility that it’s not the move, but the metformin?  Could I be altering my body chemistry in such a way that it makes me irresistible to ticks?

Too Bad the Battery Died, My Front Irises Look Awesome

We went to a park this morning (though not the park I was trying to find) and I took these pictures. And the Professor came over and we got two of the beds that will be full of sunflowers planted, which was awesome. I have blisters, now, so it’s going to have to wait until next week before I get on to the other two beds. I may have too many sunflowers. Though, I have to admit, the prospect of having too many sunflowers tickles me just a little bit.

Oh, Vegetables! I’m sorry.

I took the Butcher out to look at our tomato and pepper seedlings. When I planted them, yesterday, they each had four leaves. This morning, when we looked at them, some of them already had six leaves and were noticeably larger.

Those poor vegetables were just as ready as can be to get in the ground, I guess.

It’s raining here. We’re waiting to see if we’re going to get tornadoes. So, it’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I’m tickled to have the rain. I want it to rain a little bit every day or every other day until all my seeds get up and established. I want Henry and The Tennessee State Library and Archives to get some good deep rain to get them well-established.

And, yes, I still would like a flame-thrower for the weeds!

The Vegetables are In!

With the exception of the corn, I busted my butt when I got home from work and got the bed ready and the plants and seeds in. I even scattered the wildflower seeds. So, you know what this means.

Bring on the rain!

Tornadoes skip us!