Howl O'Scream....or ways my husband makes me laugh

I happen to adore my geeky hubby - in fact, that's one of our strengths - I'm moderately geeky in ways he is totally ignorant in and likewise he compliments the areas I could care less about. It was a point of contention between the in-laws when we married; I registered at Home Depot, he registered at J.C. Penney's. They could foresee doom and worried about possible children, I laughed and checked the insurance policies just in case.

Halloween is and will always be one of our favorite holidays - the year we married, the hubby started the tradition of taking my then 7 year old out to shop for her chosen costume, assisted with the decorating of the homestead, and dressed up just like one of the kids to make the neighborhood rounds. The eldest child was never going to say "no" when having her Dad all dressed up and going with her just meant she'd have more candy (loot!) at the end of the evening. The following year, when our middle child was barely old enough to hold a plastic pumpkin (loot holder!), "Daddy" dressed up as an invisible pedestrian (black sweat suit with with tire tracks in white paint alllll over the body - yeah, the neighbors got in a good laugh in the construction process of THAT costume.)

Two years and one more child later, "Daddy" comes through the front door with his beloved Radio Shack catalog - just in time to decorate for our special holiday.  His eyes glaze over and he takes a quick breath, "Oh HUN! You just GOTTA see this! We OUGHT to do this in the front yard!!!" The object of his child-like lust was advertised as a "remote control ghostie spook" that actually ran down a practically invisible cab
le, howling as it descended, guaranteed to make the kids squeal, scream, etc., etc.  I couldn't deny him his fun, so off to Radio Shack he went, kids in tow.

The following morning the household was knee-deep in preparation for the following weekend's festivities; all the decorations were coming out of tubs and boxes, costume shopping already done, it was time to bake cookies, and the hubby was busy on the roof preparing his "spooktacular" ghoul display of the ghostie-on-a-rope. I'd seen the contraption - the "eerie howling" was generated by a thin cable with raised striations rubbing against a metal bar and the noise was amplified thru a small speaker in the back of the "spook" - the remote control being two small servos operating a pulley system. Simplicity itself, but remember - while he is a cyber genius, I'm the one that rewired the fuse box on the Volvo station-wagon. He was so excited when he finished the installation that he came into the house all breathless, "OK, honey, we're all set. YOU get to push the button for the FIRST descent of our GHOST!!"

I smiled, put the baby on one hip and went out to test his project. Our littlest one was a squirmer, so I passed her off to Daddy and took the remote in turn to a clear "line-of-sight" place in the front yard. When I pressed the button, I heard the distinct "click" of the little servos releasing the frail gauzy fabric form to descend down it's thin wire to the middle of the ash tree in our front yard - what I was unprepared for, and what left me prostrate in the grass, laughing so hard I couldn't get up or catch my breath, was the noise emanating from our robotic ghoul.  What was supposed to sound like a low, groaning moan, instead sounded like a long, drawn out bout of flatulence. I saw that the hubby was totally speechless and astounded at the noise, but not only was the baby giggling, but his wife had lost her mind and was writhing on the ground in near-hysterical glee. The older kids were laughing, each wanting to re-set the ghost and have it make that noise again and again - but Daddy took the ghost down, quickly, and nothing more was said.

Fast forward 15 years. We have a new home in the country, it has a lovely ash tree in the back yard so tall that it would make a lovely launching point for the new and improved "remote control ghouls and ghosties" - but the kids are grown and we'd only receive a rare trick-or-treater in this neck of the woods. Hope and willful amnesia spring eternal in my beloved's heart - he wants to launch yet another remote-control creature this Halloween. Part of the problem is with the ascent to the potential launch site.

You see, our new home is in the hinterlands - we rely on a septic tank for waste elimination and have a hybridized greywater system to address the water needs of our lower pasture. But, if we receive more than a few inches of rain this wonderful system tends to back up and render the back yard a mud pit of reeky stink. We're working on improving the drainage, but it all takes time - and backhoe rental. In the meantime, the soil at the back of our lovely ash tree is a bit mucky. Not at all good for holding up a ladder; especially a ladder supporting a hefty gentleman - yes, I've fed my hubby well. All of this aside, just as he was determined in years previous, so is he now - and this time, he KNOWS how to make this thing work.

The remaining part of the hubby's problem he remains blissfully in denial of: the kids are almost and mostly grown - and they remember everything Daddy taught them. When Daddy began to wax reminiscent of his past Halloweens the kids knew the warning signs of "daddy is going to try something silly again" and this time the evil grins were inevitable. They are smart enough to know that Daddy loves his Radio Shack...and all the goodies "radio-control" and more. OK - I peeked. If my beloved hubby decides to reprise his "farting ghostie" the kids have managed (please god and goddess, I really don't know WHERE they get this..) to either record or capture the gawd-awful screaming sounds of something vaguely reminiscent of brake pads on poorly turned drums.  It makes me grimace in pain to hear it, but the kids don't know that Mom is wise to their plans. Mom has earplugs and a faintly hidden grin. The kids are going to sabotage Dad's ghoulie-ghostie.... and Mom will tag it as: "The Screacher From The Poop Lagoon."

See if he postpones the household chores list ever again.......

Arrogance, Elitism and Bigotry

I will the first to tell you that I am a mutt, not a scrap of the pure-blood about me - unless of course, you wish to count the sheer numbers of radicals, infidels and hell-raisers that I am proudly descended from. Be that as it may, I have felt the cold slap of bigotry in my face TWICE because I happen to have the Native American cheekbones and general body build. If you wish to trace the bloodlines, I'm 3/5ths technically - but due to some pretty blood-chilling practices by the Catholic Church, none of my "pure-blood" relatives were ever made known to me. It took at bit of patience and a stroke of cyber-genius to find my maternal "tribe" and one day, when all this economic horror is behind us, I intend to go out to New Mexico and re-acquaint myself with long lost relatives. There are bound to be some stories there that I wish to archive for the future family members to be. (When you have daughters, you tend to hope for the best and wait for the rest.)

Oh yes, when those unfortunate events occurred I was in "Injun" territory - once in Oklahoma, once in Texas.  I had a law-enforcement officer refer to me as "half-breed squaw" - which is a bad enough slur for anyone to endure - and I had a restaurant refuse to seat me amongst their "white" patron
s. I'm just "ornery" enough that when it appears that I won't be incarcerated and later used for unreported abuse and assault, I tend to make just enough of an embarrassing fuss that the perpetrators usually won't make that mistake again. While the law enforcement officer got off with a slap on the wrist of his career, the hostess of the diner will probably rue the day she was publicly rude to her Southern neighbor for the rest of her natural life.

The general "gnastiness" of religious bigotry was something that I tried to shield my children from as soon as it became apparent that somewhere after President Carter left office, acts of religious intolerance were an accepted part and parcel of American life. A certain representative by the name of Bob Barr decided to make Paganism and its' eradication a personal windmill for his public tilting. His mistake was targeting my Wiccan friends up at Fort Hood and the Open Circle group. Not all actions taken against Rep. Barr were done publicly - they didn't and weren't supposed to be. Prayer does work, Mr. Barr - and not just for Christians. By the by....did that nasty rash on your ass ever clear itself?

The largest problem within any Pagan population is not the external attacks, humans tent to eat their own when things get tough and Pagans are just as human as anyone else claiming hominid derivation and evolution.  This lesson was afforded me and my husband when, after a particularly bizarre spiritual experience, my husband announced to me that we were founding a teaching Grove. To sum up a very long and exhausting period of time, I now know that my first instinct to pack up the kids and leave him without a forwarding address may have been the right action, however, there is no doubt that the Universe would have schemed to teach me all the lessons accumulated by anyone whom offers pedagogy to the public as a whole at any time with any subject. I fully understand why the Druids practiced a unique form of elitism in their choice of student candidates, and this will remain a mystery to anyone else save for those that have attempted likewise. This is also why, I strongly believe, the door to the teacher's lounge was always locked. It was as much as to protect us from them as vice versa.

Thence we come to arrogance; sometimes intentional, sometimes a not-so-blatant way of shoving an unwanted social contact under the proverbial bus. I often wonder, if we completely tossed the political correctness of modernity out the window of "defunct-ness" and were bluntly honest with one another, would it not serve us better?
There is a place and time to be gentle with one another, then again there is a time when naked truth, although possibly painful, might serve a better and higher purpose. I often wish I could tattoo this personally held belief onto my forehead. For the sake of brevity, my husband joked, perhaps it would be best to permanently embellish "WYSIWYG"  in the space above my eyebrows and below my graying hairline. The problem, I note, is reciprocity. 

Is it not the same with all of the above?

randomness - it just feels right

This is supposed to be the week that we observe Mabon - Alban Elfed - the Autumnal Equinox. I'm not really in a spiritually observant mood right now. I'm supposed to be writing up the back-up liturgy if our newly-anointed Ovate blows it - but I could care less and haven't as yet put a single pen to paper nor irritated electron to pixel. I'm way too busy observing the wind-torn clouds, the sky-scattered birds and the bizarre insect life that has emerged from dark crevasses at home. I've reverted to my early adolescence of distracted elsewhere-ness, and I really have no shame nor guilt over it.

As for the folks that know me, they are totally convinced from this behavior that I've lost my marbles or had a small stroke of the frontal lobe. From my internal point of view, its' all refreshingly random and while I know it won't last forever - I want to cherish this before the "would-a, could-a, should-a's" envelop my stream of consciousness again and hold my duty-embedded feet to the fire of cyclical religious observations and responsibilities.

No doubt that there is a term for this unusual upturn in the mature psychology of a mid-life female or human being for that matter. The inner rebel is doggedly searching for the label-maker within my psyche to hold it off for as long as possible. For now, it's time to enjoy the scented candles at Target, think about hanging the skeins of silk-leafed mock maple leaves above the door to the foyer, and try to remember where I packed the long sleeved shirts. Oh yeah - I'm ready for the tallow trees to change color, too.

Kickin' thoughts around...

Having just completed the annual "lift the hood and check the spark plugs" physical and bodily invasion by medical professionals, I can say that I'm here. Somewhat healthy and whole with a few notable exceptions because of the damnable American diet and Germanic work ethos, but with a little additional effort and a mandatory exclusion of pasta from the diet, I should be able to embarrass the great-grandchildren with my own unique version of dance moves until the middle of this century. Perhaps beyond.

Which means that I have every reason to plan out my very own version of Shangri-La via roses, mimosa trees, and cup-and-saucer vines. However - there's always a serpent in every garden and unfortunately the one threatening mine is two-legged and carries an inordinate amount of emotional baggage within him. I wasn't the person who filed charges against him for criminal trespass, nor did I insert 4.5 ounces of methamphetamine in his front jeans pocket when he was arrested. I didn't call the sheriff on him when his choice of music disturbed the peace of the neighborhood at 1:30 in the morning. Since he violated his parole with such an infraction, he got to stay as a guest of the county correctional complex for an additional 18 months. However, I was there when he got out - a new neighbor who was law-abiding and politely informed his mother in her native tongue that drag-racing was frowned upon outside of the proper venue and would she please inform her son of such before someone else called the sheriff yet again? After which we sat down as all mothers do over good coffee and homemade kuchen to discuss children and such.

This fellow was not exactly happy with his mother's new found friend, neither was he happy that now there were two mothers with eyes and ears watching him and his behaviors. We encouraged him when he got a job driving a concrete truck; yes, it was hard work and long hours - but coming home to a cold beer and a hot dinner was the reward of such effort. The economy being still a bit jittery, when he was forced to take a week off he proceeded to return to his play mates, play grounds, and play things. While the sheriff didn't bust him with anything - they did find pockets full of no-no's on his buddies, and they went the way he had trail-blazed earlier.

To reward the people looking out for him, he jumped a fence and overturned three lawnmowers into the local wet weather creek shortly before the seasonal rains hit with the flash flooding that they are known to bless us with. This and other childish pranks of varying degrees of harassment are now his mark of frustration with being forced to behave like a grown-up. Both my new coffee friend and I see the handwriting on the wall, however - looking past the fact that we love our kids, we also see that sometimes no matter how much you love them, bad apples are inevitable.
If he survives to see 30, whether inside or outside of a jail cell, it will be a miracle.

However, I want my rose garden. I want to plant English roses, delphinium, geraniums and gladiolas to frame my beautiful over-arching mimosa trees and spiraling lavender crepe myrtles. I think I need a two-legged mongoose.

Writer's Block: You should have been there

Which five events in history would you choose to experience in person, and why?

This is juicy food for thought because I know myself well enough to know that I'd NEVER keep my mouth shut had I been some when, somewhere, if someone had only opened their mouth and state an obvious oversight. However, it's more now than just experiencing a particular time in history - it's being there with the wherewithal to change it. For instance, I've wished time and again that I could have been there when Ronald Reagan was making the decision to run for President. I think I'd have made sure that he remained somewhere so far removed that he never could have filed for the race - maybe the protective regulations that kept our economy in check would still be in place and some 45 million folks would have been spared the harsh realities of suddenly being thrust into poverty.

However, perhaps going back to the 1880's would have been better - had I had the power to crush the Robber Barons of that era that re-wrote the restrictions on corporations and allowed for charters to evergreen, thus encouraging the global transnational mega monsters to flourish and kill local businesses, trade unions, and personal prosperity for millions.

Then again, I wished I'd been able to field an army of free-thinkers on Selma, Alabama during the Civil Rights battles. Naked bigotry has no place on this Earth, and the blood of too many water the Tree of Liberty as it stands. I bristle at the ignorant utterances from my present day father-in-law's mouth as he curses the historic black man that sits in the Oval Office today; and I have to remember that he is a product of the generation that grew up in Mississippi before those battles.

Although I do not know the exact date, I wished I had been there to keep Rush Limbaugh's mother from conceiving him - or better yet - would have placed him in a foster home with Quakers shortly after his birth. Maybe their gentle influence would have created someone not quite is disgusting as the creature we see and hear today. Perhaps this should have been the situation with all those who spout hatred, bigotry and ignorance as gospel - the deliberate removal from their parents from infancy and fostering in a home so far removed from where they grew up that they never had a chance to germinate the despicable lies and filth that emanates from their mouths today.

I wished I'd been able to meet and talk with Mother Teresa, or St. Bernadette, or the original Bridget as glorified in Celtic Christianity and later sanctified. I think we'd see a lot of things from the same perspective, and I think we'd be equally frustrated by the silliness of humans perpetrating the same horrors on each other time after time with no obvious sense of repeating history. I also think that we'd be as one in the belief that it matters not what you call your personal observances, just that you take a moment to stop and reflect on something, some purpose Greater Than Yourself, with the end result a subtle termination of selfish self-centeredness from the species. However, every time I venture into research on any of these women, I come away with more questions on why they did what they did.

Hey, I can dream. After all - isn't that what it's all about?

My favorite time of year

This Wednesday evening, at 9:09 PM, the official start of my favorite season will begin. Thank you, oh Official Almanac of the Naval Observatory - but my heart felt the slow creeping of the autumnal glory well before the calendar announced it. The grasses first whispered the rumored change of the season when their roots began to copper and bronze under the heat of the August sun in Central Texas, The leaves at the tips of the bois d'arc trees began to slightly shift in their color, and the first hints of a cool breeze lifted the heavy humid skirts of the air. Of course, I could have noted that the doves had 'gone to ground' in prescience of hunting season, or that the green darting spirits of the geckos became more visible in their seasonal gluttony of insect feasting before the cooler weather ends the life cycle of their food. 

This time last year, I was slowly being swallowed alive in the hopeless fear of approaching homelessness. It was about this time last year that the simple act of answering a knock on the door resulted in the mask being ripped off of a fraud perpetrated on two usually savvy folks, my husband and I. You see 5 years earlier the owner of the duplex we'd happily rented from for 3 years announced that he was a.) getting married and b.) selling the duplex to make his future wife happy. The greed-blinded investors that he'd sold the duplex to wanted to raise our rent more than $300 a month upon completion of our lease - less than 90 days away. Did I mention that I'm a descendant of proud patriots and hell-raisers? Flying the middle finger to these asinine fools unfortunately also meant that we'd have to come up with the scratch for new deposits and moving expenses.

Ah, yes - the Universe often looks for juicy tidbits of pride to munch upon. We must have looked like prime kibble because I found an ad for a lease-purchase for a house on the edge of a neighborhood that was a hotbed of "gentrification" - and before the cheap paint dried, we'd signed the contract on a 4/2/2 that was to be both a curse and an education. In short, 5 years later we discover that we'd been scammed. The guy we'd entered the contract with did not have the legal right to sell the property, has misrepresented himself to the bank and mortgage holder, and we were left with absolutely nothing to show for $53K worth of payments, repairs and maintenance. Oh yes - let's add the pets that we'd rescued, the furniture acquired, the ties to the neighborhood association, the friends and schools that the kids had built their networks with. Then, there was the little matter that the husband was laid off two weeks before the Knock On The Door.

Nevertheless, there was no Yule celebration last year, we were packing and moving all of our belongings except for the absolute necessities into storage and looking for foster families for the pets. I remember dragging my ass out of bed to go to work for a nine-hour period of numbing Hell, thence to come home and cry as I put clothes and possessions into packing boxes. The kids were miserable and the animals didn't understand all the Chaos flowing around them. It didn't make it any easier when, in the midst of the non-celebration my husband's clueless brother shows up with Yule gifts on the Christian holiday. Mercy is a quality best bestowed upon fools, but there is a limit.

So, we struggle with clothing and packing and the husband announces that we'll be staying with his father for the time being. Oh joy. So, never mind that the man smokes so heavily that even the drapes are tinged with brown nicotine residue, right, husband? I cried myself to sleep again, and again, for about a week. OK, somewhere there was a sleeping Guardian Angel who woke up to hear sobbing and thought, ":Oh shit, I slept through another opportunity, better figure out a way to make it right, or better, or..."

There was a place up and around the corner from the father-in-law that came up for rent....however, I was not exactly happy about renting anymore. In fact, I wasn't happy about the whole family, marriage, kids, pets scenario anymore either. To this day, I believe that I must have been channeling a long lost relative that was an expert in horse-trading because before I knew it, I'd convinced the owner to sell the place to us owner-financed on a 7 year note, with only $3K down. He handed us the keys with a hand-shake and we became the proud owners of 2.2 acres of dirt with payments less than what we'd been making before.

It's time to let the Guardian Angel off the hook - I'd always loved mimosa trees, chinese tallow trees and honeysuckle. This place had all of these, plus a HUGE ash tree just off of the 24' long porch in the rear. There was a place for all the animals, from the Great Pyrenees to the finicky princess cat, Opal. There was a small pole barn AND a hen house with a small covered run. A wet-weather creek marked the rear boundary, a couple of fruit trees and  muscadine grape vine lurked beneath 5 years of neglect in the garden at the northern boundary. Now as for the living quarters - ahem.

For the first three months that we lived on the property, we bathed out of a bucket of heated water in the bathroom. Because of uninsulated pipes in this older single-wide mobile home (that I had tagged the Pinch-A-Loaf Lodge because I maintain it's a fecal sample from an aluminum eating monster) we had to replace every freaking inch of plumbing. It was next to the endless joy of Avalon to be able to shower - bliss enveloped my being when I was finally able to expose my dirty hide to the needle spray of hot water instead of the deluge of a hand held bucket. Yes, even dealing with the bucket was preferable to living with relatives. There's another story there - but I'll reserve the telling of it until certain figures within are safely ensconced in the sealed walls of their eternal resting place.

The employment struggle for the hubby became slightly more manageable with a one-year temporary contract, no benefits but enough money to justify taking it. As the weather warmed, I watched the stationary residents of the land return to their verdant profile. However, we were not ready for how verdant, how fertile, how willing the land was to GROW and BLOOM. Before we had a tractor to take care of it, the back pasture adopted a jungle status that we've only recently been able to partially clear once more. The economy has somewhat stabilized, but the need for the garden remains, as does the need to re-locate and re-establish the hen house and it's original purpose.

We're getting there, however - it's precisely because of the economy that we are able to do this. You see, we're not the only ones dancing on the razor's edge of poverty. A couple of acquaintances of ours were part of the lay-offs within the high-tech industry down here. Through some horse-trading of their own, they were able to parlay a diesel guzzling trunk into a small RV, and they just needed a place to park it. However, having no jobs that objective was proving itself impossible - thus the negotiated arrangement on the land. Cat's Paw Acres now has farmhands with access to tractors and farming equipment who brought their own shelter with them.

I did mention that Autumn is my favorite time of year, right? This will be our first year on the land that Providence handed us. We have a new fire-pit dug to gather around for our first observation of the Old Ways, and we've sent out the the invites for the Mabon gather for next Saturday - remember we're pagan, and not everyone can observe the Holy Days on the specific days. The kids are finding their own paths, and although that means that the youngest one is 5 states away, I have to "suck it up and put my Big Girl panties on" because children grow up. It's a "do your best and pray about the rest" sort of grit that I've come to recognize is just a part of my character. Harvest this year is more than ripe veggies, good food and companionship. It's a time of inventory, gratitude, and quiet reflection that makes me want to dig in the packing boxes and recover my copy of Thoreau's 'On Walden's Pond.'  A shining light of inspiration embodied in a Unity minister once remarked in an observance of Autumn that "This world is run by little old ladies in tennis shoes." I've tucked my lessons into my pockets and I'm tying on my sneakers as we speak. Who knows where I'll go from here?