good girl

‘Just be a good girl, won’t you?’  ‘C’mon….why aren’t you being a good girl?’  ‘It’ll all be over soon, if you’re a good girl.’

Try not to let things get too heavy here on the blog, but today I’m angry. I feel positively possessed to pen this social commentary. As always, you don’t have to agree and your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Watched a movie over the weekend….Wind River. The movie’s topic is incredibly timely, as every day we witness sordid revelations about sexual harassment/abuse/rape of women. As the movie demonstrates, misogyny is a sin easily tolerated.

Every women who has lived into her sixth decade has stories. Tales of the too-friendly uncle whose octopus-y hugs lasted uncomfortably long. The condescending professor who made inappropriate remarks concerning your looks. Your friend’s husband who propositioned you at a Christmas party while she was in the next room. A co-worker you actively avoided in the office break room. It’s was a fact of life and a good girl rolls with it.

I’ve definitely got my #MeToo stories. I remember being a freshman in college in 1974. It was my first week at school and I attended (solo) a welcome mixer on campus. The nightmare ends with me narrowly escaping this menacing horn-dog’s dorm room. I was lucky to not be his rape victim. I was 17. I don’t remember any talk on campus of reporting behavior like his. I was young, overwhelmed and I didn’t know a damn thing. My hair stands on end today as I wonder how many women this overzealous brut might have abused. Perhaps his next target didn’t escape. My ‘head-in-the-sand’ ostrich behavior was wrong. I didn’t rock the boat. I was a good girl.

The dramas swirling the headlines today have the same basic plot:  gross abuse of power. It’s the movie mogul who systematically and repeatedly harasses women who star or want to act in his movies. He’s not content to simply abuse females, but he has the cash to hire lawyers to smear them and destroy their careers if they out him. This continues for years….other people know this is happening….very well-connected people, and no one says a bleepin’ thing! We can even hear this beast’s voice on tape cajoling his victim, ‘Oh….come on. Be a good girl. Don’t embarrass me in this hotel!’ Pervert.

It’s a former President abusing power by indulging his fancy for a certain White House intern. Don’t talk to me about it being consensual sex. That doesn’t alter the fact of the unbelievable imbalance of power in this sick relationship. Conjuring images of this young women crouching under the oval office desk servicing the President while he is on the phone, doesn’t speak of his undying commitment and respect for women. Hindsight is teaching us about this President and his pattern of abusing women through his early days as governor right through his ascension to the White House. Other people knew and other people did nothing. The young lady did nothing until she was forced to speak three years later. The media attacked her like rabid, hungry wolves. God bless her and I hold no ill-will of her, but was she a good girl? I think so.

It’s the actors, members of Congress (both parties!) and elite businessmen who abuse their female staff. Men who think it’s OK and perfectly reasonable to ask a woman to attend a meeting while they are in their underwear, or getting out of the shower or seriously in need of a massage. These are the power-crazed good-time-boys who want what they want when they want it:  anytime with no questions asked. The good girls are sucked in by promises of promotions or well-connected friendships or their own ignorance. Our current President has issues with his, ‘Grab em by the p***y!’ remarks. Hugh Hefner died recently. I say ‘good riddance’. Could never understand how placing a puffy rabbit tail on the backside of a female elevated her.

I’m not a feminist. I have no kinship to the women who identify as feminists. I feel the feminist movement is more about promoting a political agenda than it is about protecting the rights of all women. Feminists today only seem interested in protecting women of a certain political persuasion. Don’t believe me? Ask Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann or Sharyl Attkisson.

The only hope for solving this problem? We must make it safe for women to speak out against the horn-dogs. Not a year later. Not 5 years later. Not 40 years later, when the accusations can be chalked up to changing political or social ambitions.

I wish I could kick that college horn-dog in the nuts right now. I wish I had mustered the courage to tell every overly hand-sy guy to back off. I wish I had confidently proclaimed, ‘Your behavior is inappropriate.‘ Seems simple enough.

I want to teach my grand daughters it’s ok to be the outspoken girl. The ‘problem’ girl. The young lady who speaks truth to power. The girl who refuses to be harassed or abused. The girl who won’t trade on her looks. The girl unafraid to be accused of being a word rhyming with ‘witch’. A girl who believes and supports her friend when she returns from a date with a bloody lip and a black eye.

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Change is coming. The good girl needs to go.

 

 

dry cry

The last weeks/months remind me of this previous blog post. The post discusses my recurrent fevers of unknown origin and joint pain with a flavorful dash of Roxy Doxy and the Texan thrown in for interesting spice.

https://onachickenwingandaprayer.com/2013/09/23/down-time/

Seems the symptoms DO have a name after all.  The autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Only took me 4 years to come up with this explanation. There is no cure. In the meantime, I’m sampling a tasting menu of -ologists:  rheumatologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, podiatrists, urologists, optometrists and dermatologists. Can a nephrologist be far behind?

Don’t worry….it’s just dry eyes and dry mouth! Look at Venus Williams….she has it and she’s winning tennis tournaments. No problem!

Until it is. Seems this idiotic disease likes to attack mucosal membranes in the body. Sounds innocuous enough, until I realized every organ system in the body is comprised of moisture.

If you have an autoimmune disease or know someone who does, you might be aware of the myriad of natural treatments for these diseases. Try the AIP diet and cure your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis! Acupuncture and meditation can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis! Fish oil and vitamin D reverse multiple sclerosis! DHEA can relieve pain and build muscle! The power of meditation and yoga can renew your mind and vanquish disease! Eating more dump cakes can cure headaches and relieve vaginal itching! Ok, busted….yeah, I totally made that one up.

I’ve tried or am trying them all. I’ve had doctors tell me to ‘educate myself’ and then get huffy when I ask a question about treatment. I’ve been told countless times that I am either too sick, or too well to receive various treatments. Do I meditate regularly? Am I a nervous person? Am I depressed? Am I eating enough protein? Do I eat enough vegetables? Do I exercise? Am I avoiding coffee/caffeine and processed foods and solely munching cardboard and kale? Yes, yes and yes!

I’m grateful for my talented doctors and their genuinely great intentions. They want to help and heal. I’m so glad earnest friends care enough to let me know of new supplements and helpful websites. My lowest point came last week when I was  grasping at straws  looking for help on the foundation site for my newest ailment. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number was prominently displayed. ***sigh***  That’s when I experienced it…..the dry cry. Sjogren’s leaves me with no moisture for producing tears. Preserves my makeup, I guess.

Having some tests and procedures performed this week so maybe docs can get a better picture of what is troubling me. I’m grateful to be living in this miraculous day and age and I’m praying for some answers and assistance. I believe God will provide a way to live with Sjogren’s

Here’s the marble-idea bouncing in the pinball of my mind and rubbing it raw. The only thing worse than living with autoimmune disease is living with my disease and being told that somehow my actions/inactions or my supremely rare form of craziness caused it. I’m calling bullshit on that. We ALL know I’m the good kind of crazy!

napoleon dynamite

It’s Sunday. Whatever weighs us down and causes our breath to shorten today and in the weeks ahead, whatever autoimmune disease, loss, cancer, grief, COPD, diabetes, or mental illness….whatever causes us to wet or dry cry, we can lay it down at the feet of Jesus right now and feel his strong arms embrace us. We will find our way through this crazy maze of life. Are your shoulders lifting? Mine, too.

 

christmas cactus
My Christmas cactus is blooming. It appropriately waited until after Halloween. Sign of good things to come.

 

 

I guaran-damn-tee He adores your unique martini of crazy. I like you, too.

Shaken, not stirred love to all.

 

yellowstone

No one warned me the park reeked of rotten eggs combined with the scent of bright pine. Rivers boiled, firmament steamed, golden mud perked, colorful algae glowed and streams dramatically plunged in this belching landscape. Clouds cleaved the mountains and glistening river valleys provided tasty habitat for wildlife. I craved deviled eggs the entire trip.

oldfaithful
Aren’t you smart?! It IS Old Faithful with Old Faithful Lodge in the background. We walked a very isolated trail up a mountainside to get this view. Worth it….even though we forgot our bear spray and I chirped ‘Hey, bear!’ as we walked to frighten away predators. The Texan was not amused. This Lower Geyser basin is brimming with geysers for miles.

robingrottoI had to look up the term ‘caldera’ to be sure I understood the grand views are perched atop a  volcano with an enormous, active magma chamber below. If it blows, like it did 600,000 years ago, it will affect most of the United States and change life as we know it. This is climate change I can understand.

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Norris Geyser Basin. The hottest springs and fumaroles in the Park. Rudyard Kipling remarked after his visit, “The uplands of Hell. It was as though the tide of desolation had gone out….a mud volcano spat filth to Heaven, streams of hot water rumbled underfoot….pink pools roared, shouted, bubbled or hissed as their wicked fancies prompted.”

The geyser/fumaroles/hot spring areas provided endless fascination to us. The angry earth grumbled, fumed and sputtered. Amidst the tantrums, we discovered visions and colors of indescribable beauty and tranquility.

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The fantastic colors as they appeared to us. No color boosting…..promise.

Mud was the artist’s pallet for the putrid water.

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The sulphuric steam wafting from the hot features can permanently damage a camera lens. I was told to keep the lens cap on and to always wipe the lens after taking pictures of these features.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Great Falls are crowd favorites.

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The Yellowstone River before it spills over the Lower Falls.

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canyon
Thomas Moran, the first artist to explore the Yellowstone, bemoaned his palette didn’t contain enough colors to render this scene.

I donned a sling to support my jaw. The constant gaping provided a fine mosquito and gnat habitat. I can’t help myself…..I’m a passionate, romantic person. There’s no way I can gaze upon these scenes and pronounce, ‘Meh.’

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The grand and the small astonished me. The wildlife roamed and rambled and I tried to follow the wonder with my borrowed spotting scope.

buffaloinroad
Just a photo taken through the windshield with a cellphone. The Lamar Valley was soul-stirring. It was my favorite portion of the Park. I’m planning my next trip back there.

There’s definitely a crowding issue at Yellowstone that must be addressed in a fair manner. I don’t know the answer, but the current influx of people doesn’t seem sustainable to me. That’s a discussion for another blog post. The Texan and I navigated by getting up EARLY….very early, and staying through sunset. Most mid-days we lunched by a stream with our lawn chairs or took a drive off the beaten path. The Park is very crowded between 10 am and 4 pm.

 

guystakingpicture
Buffalo are a favorite. The Europeans and Asians want to see buffalo….the iconic symbol of the West. The shaggy giants never disappoint as they appear everywhere around the park. I can still conjure their low-pitched grumbling.

Yellowstone made me feel small…like a pimple on the butt of the universe. Ok….maybe not a pimple, but certainly a freckle on the tapestry of time. Where was I when forces were forming the landscape 1,200,000 years ago? What of the Native Peoples who inhabited this land? What of the explorers and early trappers who tried to describe the indescribable to others? For me, our Yellowstone visit highlighted the infinite creativity of the Creator. I’m thrilled to witness the handiwork.

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Taken with cell phone attached to a spotting scope mounted on a tripod. Thanks Drummond! I’ll return your scope soon!!

The morning we left the park, I whined to the Texan I had not seen a grizzly bear. I’ve witnessed black bears, but I longed to see a grizzly. How totally complete and awesome would this trip be if I could spot a grizzly? We scouted around the morning we left, looking at likely spots by the Yellowstone River for wildlife. Just then, we drove upon some ‘scopers’ who were looking at an elk carcass. We rolled the window down in time to hear, ‘the grizzly is coming!’ We shot out of the car in different directions. I grabbed the binoculars and spied an elk herd upstream in the river. As I panned the binoculars, I spotted the hump-backed, powerful beast. He swam the river and was now determinedly loping across the meadow toward something. I feared he might be loping in my direction until I spotted the carcass. The Texan and I found each other and excitedly attached my phone to the scope.

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We observed this guy for an hour as he devoured this decomposing carcass. I’m happy I didn’t unexpectedly meet him in the forest. Trip made and complete.

If you are reading this, you are either a rabid nature-lover or you are completely bored on a Friday evening. Welcome to my world!

Hope these views inspire you. I want to show you Arches National Park in Moab, Utah in the coming days.

Did Thoreau ever see Yellowstone? ‘This Mother of ours…..lying around in all her beauty.’

Hope you see something wonderful this weekend! Spouting geysers of love to all!

 

 

zapata

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard-Thoreau

 

kathyongrater
Photo courtesy of Page Steed. Check out her website. You will enjoy her wildlife photography and unique vision.

The crisp chirp of crickets, the low grunt of buffalo, the impatient neigh of horses, the trickling rivulets of water and sand, and blessed laughter; I gratefully heard them all last week while attending the Zapata Ranch Workshop: Women, Horses and the West.

We rode in the morning and discussed literature in the afternoon.

 

riding out
Photo courtesy Page Steed. My mount was Merlin. Slowest horse in the West. He deserves his own chapter. Maybe another day.

Thoreau jump-started our week by helping us adjust our sight as he described ‘Simply Seeing’.

 

greenplant
Not so luxurious a soil as to attract men-H.D.T.

 

 

Author Dan Flores proclaimed the Plains are the American Serengeti. He explained how the Plains are ‘a sensuous feast of the minimal’ and how loving the grasslands is embedded in our DNA.

 

treeswithsun
Sunset in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

 

Dr. Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English at West Texas A&M university led our lively afternoon discussions. Bonney is brimming with contagious energy and passion and she had me reading and studying like crazy. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you must take it. I love her.

 

bonney
Bonney preparing to ride.

It was a special joy to spend the day….beginning at 4:45 am!….with photographer/geologist Stephen Weaver.

photography

I learned I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it. I made terrible mistakes with my photography this day and lost many a fun capture. I felt like an idiot even though Stephen was unfailingly encouraging. Learning is hard. Guess who will forever check her white balance setting before she shoots another photo?

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Mostly my pony and I sauntered behind the main group. Merlin wore a comforting, plodding cadence and I wore my appreciative grin.

 

Kathy
Photo courtesy of Page Steed

 

There was always an experienced wrangler nearby, just in case someone made a newbie mistake or needed help retrieving lunch from the saddlebag.

 

wranglers
The wranglers. Aren’t they gorgeous? Each and every one extraordinarily smart and gracious. Thank you!

My favorite and most lasting memory of the trip? Well, that would have to be the ladies in attendance! To describe them as professors, music teachers, caregivers, corporate-types, photographers, volunteers and healers somehow fails to summarize their sweeping personalities and spacious hearts. Conversation is a lost art these days. We’re too concerned with being right. Zapata’s legacy for 2017 is the expansion of my mind. Some days it felt as wide and bright as the sky.

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Is it possible my sight was adjusted? Even with the nagging problems with my eyes, was I noticing more?

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What am I hearing/seeing now? A certain gray-muzzled wiener dog impatiently dropping the tennis ball at my feet, the greeting neighs of the-best-old-lady-horse-in-the-world, the Texan watching old Star Trek episodes, and the grands giggling over hauling a perch out of the lake.

Oh, Thoreau! Here’s to fewer distractions, confusions and engagements. Here, here to an uncluttered mind and the blessing of a mundane existence! I’m raising my glass to the sound of crickets. Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Headin’-west love to all.

chairwithboots

Puddles Pity Party

Do you ever watch America’s Got Talent? After a particularly trying day…a day in which I struggled with pain, doctor’s offices, medications, my freakin’ eyes and ever-changing vision, I lumbered exhaustedly into my awaiting, comfy bed and mindlessly flipped on the boob tube. Didn’t matter what was on. I was done. Calgon take me away.

Suddenly, but slowly HE shuffled on stage.

puddles-pity-party-americas-got-talent

With shoulders stooped and a wrinkly-unkempt costume, this mute clown act was a sure-fire candidate for the giant X-buzzer. “Good luck, Puddles!”

The controlled baritone began quietly. I immediately recognized he was singing the Sia song, Chandelier. I knowingly chuckled and mocked the television from the fluffy bed.

It’s been DONE, Puddles! This song is cliché!

Can’t feel anything, when will I learn. I push it down, push it down

Ok, maybe this sad clown can sing a little. So what?!

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink. 1, 2, 3, 1 ,2 ,3 drink

Hey Puddles! Why don’t you bring me a stiff drink about now? Ready to forget the day I just experienced.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandel-LIER!!

I’m feeling your pain, Puddles. You’re so pitifully glum and your full-throated and melancholy baritone ain’t bad.

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry.

Where’s the Kleenex? Where is it!?

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist…..cause I’m just holding on for tonight.

Damn you, Puddles!! This ugly cry is on YOU!!

You probably know the end of this story. He received 4 ‘yesses’ from the judges and the crowd adored him. Of all the spectacular acts appearing on AGT…..death-defying stuntmen….leaving-you-breathless magic acts…..auditorium-filling opera voices…..why did folks respond to Puddles? Why did cynical-I like Puddles?

Because some days are hard. Some days are sad. I’m not clinically depressed. I’m counting my blessings. I’m staying on the sunny side. I have lots of fun things on my plate. I have a fantastic family and wonderful friends. But some days, when I’m struggling for relief from this stupid disease (It’s called Sjogren’s Syndrome, and it’s ridiculous), when I feel my own body betraying me, when the meds aren’t relieving the pain, when I feel the mist from this fearfully-approaching, slow-rolling disaster of a tsunami…..these are the days I totally relate to Puddles.

It’s OK to have a sad day. You have them, too. Went to a funeral yesterday and was struck by the lyric, ‘Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down…but still my soul is heavenly bound’. It was a terrible day for my friends. God bless them.

Hope your weekend is brimming with fun and glad things. But, maybe that’s not your reality today. That’s OK. I get it and so does Puddles.

Heavenly-bound love to all.

P.S.-I’m preparing for a grand adventure. Something amazing that God just threw in my lap. I’m a chronic over-sharer so get ready for some blogs describing my journey. Info to follow soon. xo

sculptor

Discovered my inspiration this week. I’ve admired this piece for a few days now.

bowl
art-it’s what’s for dinner

Perhaps I love it because Sprout #3 made it on his lathe and gifted it to me. Plenty reason enough!

 

lathe
the wood chips are a-flyin’

 

Maybe I love it because it’s simply beautiful. Each of the bowls’ perfect imperfections combines to make it singularly unique. I’m mesmerized by the yin of the smooth wood and the yang of the rugged, rough-bark edge.

The Sprout explained each block of wood is called a blank. He mounts the blank, sets the lathe to spinning and patiently applies his trusty bowl gouge-and voila!….a bowl is born. Although the bowl has entered existence, it must undergo certain time-consuming steps to becoming its best bowl-self. It must dry and cure in wood shavings. The wood needs to cure, but not too rapidly, to prevent future cracking. After it has dried for some time (months), the woodworker must diligently sand, apply sealer, sand, apply sealer, sand and….well, you get it. This entire process reminds me of the Michelangelo quote:

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My life spins like that wood block on the lathe lately. Events happen and I don’t comprehend. Enough with applying the bowl gouge already, ok? It’s painful and I’m not privy to the intricacies of the process. I didn’t attend woodworking school. The wood chips are swirling. Some days I want to jump off that lathe and return to my previous carefree tree-self. Is this my drying out phase so I don’t split later, or is this the sanding and re-sanding part? I don’t know.

I do know these struggles are not unique to me. We ALL have ’em. For me right now it’s health issues but your struggle might be your broken relationship with your parents or children, your spouse’s alcoholism, your sexuality, a cancer diagnosis, your depression, your lonely empty nest, your dead-end job, your failing marriage, your barely making it from paycheck to paycheck, your PTSD, or the unexpected death of someone dear to you. It could be a crisis of faith.

I adore this bowl because it reminds me of the Master Sculptor. I’ve put my life in the hands of the Wise Woodworker. The Brilliant Bowl Maker. The Lord of the Lathe….enough alliteration…I can’t stop myself! However clumsily I phrase it, I trust the process of becoming and I’m assured my life is in loving hands. One day I’m going to be a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind bowl! Yessir! A bowl with rings closely spaced to indicate I stood proudly during the tough, drought-y years. A bowl with widely-spaced rings to testify I raised a glass to the wet and bountiful years. A bowl large enough to hold a lot of cool things.

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Today I’ve been looking up.

 

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photo-public-domain.com

 

Here’s a reminder on my desk. Do you ever feel like you need Cliffs Notes for daily life??

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You are becoming quite a handsome bowl, in my opinion. Yes….you’re looking more and more like ART to me. I like that.

The bowl with the rough edges? Yeah….it’s me. How’d you guess?!

Lumber-y love to all.