Friday, December 30, 2005

I have a confession to make.

I voted for Nixon. Yes, it's true. In 1968 Mrs. Nivers' first grade class participated in a mock election and I voted Republican. While it was true that I was concerned about exactly where I was going to hide my big brother from the draft in my small bedroom, it was not Nixon's fiery statement about the issues of the nation that won my approval.

"When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a war in Vietnam with no end in sight, when the richest nation in the world cannot manage its economy, when the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented racial violence, when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad, or to any major city at home, then it is time for new leadership for the United States."

This makes total sense to me now. I'm sure he even pronounced all the words correctly. But that wasn't it. It was his hair. You see, male pattern baldness runs nowhere in my genetic line. At age seven, baldness and receding hairlines were just freakish to me. When I looked at the pictures on my little first grade ballot, Humphrey was definitely the more hair challenged. I knew I could trust all of my big-haired male relatives so Nixon it was. By 72, I was much more politically savvy and went with McGovern.

And two years later, Nixon came tumbling down in the Watergate scandal.

One Republican argument justifying Bush's NSA classified domestic surveillance program involves rolling back the state of executive privilege back to the pre-Watergate years. We essentially have a situation today where the president is advocating a modern day Huston plan, one of Nixon's Articles of Impeachment. The Huston plan advocated the systematic use of various illegal acts and infiltration of anti-war groups and others. In Nixon's words from his 1977 interview with David Frost, "Well, when the president does that it isn't illegal."

Are we okay with this? I don't recall being asked if I was okay with this. To me, Watergate restored some much needed checks and balances in the Executive branch of government. It made the statement that the president is accountable, not only at election time but the entire time he's in office. So watch your p's and q's buddy boy.

We live in a much different time now. Just visiting the NSA site will give you a cookie to track your movements on the Internet. We have very little privacy as it is, every purchase is tracked, private companies keep scores of our credit ratings, and the most intimate details of our life are available for a price. I'm old enough to remember joking around about our FBI files. Given that our lives are so accessible, I don't think it's too much to ask that government agencies wishing to violate mine or others constitutional rights take the extra few minutes to get a warrant to tap a phone.

It's not that I'm concerned about my own phone being tapped. This would result in long hours of dial-up screeching since I only keep one phone and am on the computer fairly often. But violating someone's rights should never be easy. It should never happen just because the president says it's okay. Unlike George Bush, the constitution is more to me that "just a %#$@#* piece of paper."

I have precious little privacy as it is. Despite my remote location and seclusion, nothing goes on here on the mountain that everyone doesn't know about. It's done the old-fashioned way, by observing and reporting to the rumor mill. I'm fairly sure that, at this instance, a community of 500 all share in the knowledge that I'm fighting a nasty chest cold and have plenty of cough syrup. They know this because I went to pick up some stuff at Mrs. Busbee's and declined her offer of cough syrup. If you want to tell your side of the story just go down to the dump and tell the dump crew your latest troubles, "leaking" the pertinent bit of information you want getting out.

This works just dandy for Grassy Fork. But I hold the federal government to a higher standard.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I spent most of yesterday worming and vaccinating the goats. I'd go down to the paddock with a bucket of grain and bring them up singly to the house to give shots and feed pelletized wormer to them. Nod was the toughest to catch. She's always been a bad girl but I absolutely had to get ahold of her this time. She'd grown out of her collar and it was way too tight. I have a festive purple one just for her.

Nod is one of my original three goats. She was just a wee doeling when she came here with Winkin' and her mother, Blinkin', and she's never calmed down. This time, I decided to keep her up here at the house for a few weeks to see if I could tame her down. I don't want her fighting me when I help her deliver her kids this spring.

I honestly think Nod will be happier for being gentled. She's not like the other goats. She's actually pretty mean to them. She's always the ringleader when the other goats decide to play "Throw Lucky against the Electric Fence." She bites the other goats and pulls their ears and tails. I've been remiss in not doing this before. Most herd keepers would just sell Nod for meat rather than fool with her, but I'm sort of fond of her ornery self.

When I was a child, my favorite Christmas myth was "The Night the Animals Talk". Supposedly, on Christmas Eve, for a time...the animals can speak. I'm not sure if they are supposed to speak English or not. I always just assumed that I would be able to understand them in the way I understand people.

My parents foiled numerous attempts on my part as a child to confirm this. My plan was to sneak out to the stable and finally hear my horse, Sonny, tell me that he loved me every bit as much as I adored him. I'm not sure what other sorts of horsely wisdom he might have had to tell me.

We once had a Siamese cat named Itty-Bitty who was taken from her mother too soon. She had that typically odd sounding cat cry that Siamese cats have. My root woman nanny was terrified of this cat. She swore the cat was saying, "Maaa-maaaa, maaaaa-maaaa".

It's not that I haven't always known exactly what my animals were saying. I just thought it would be neat to actually hear what their voices sounded like.

This midnight as the clock heralded in the wee hours of Christmas Day, I went out onto the porch to check on Nod. I think the part of me who was still eight years old was half-hoping to hear her say something.

"Blah. Blah-blah." She said, looking up at me with her topaz colored goat eyes and snorting.

I understood perfectly.

"Screw you! Give me some damn corn, you bitch!"

I scratched her under her chin and told her she was a good girl. Because it's important to tell homely creatures they are beautiful, and naughty creatures that they are good.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tis the season of small sacrifices.

I recently harvested this bouquet of roosters to put in my freezer. They are such lovely things that I hate to put an end to what has been, up to this point, a very happy chicken life. But too many roosters in the coop makes for very unhappy and unproductive hens. So...sadly, it was time to say goodbye to these lovely gentlemen.

Left are ten hens and the most splendid of the roos, Splash III. I will get my incubator going some 21 days before Easter to welcome the new crop of chicks from these remaining chickens.

I'm thinking about giving up on the poultry all together. I love them dearly, but have no business with my SLE and funky immune system keeping birds should the dreaded bird flu reach here. I'll certainly miss all the fresh eggs and lovely fresh poultry. But for now, I'll keep on keeping my flock along with my small herd of goats. Honestly, the war with the foxes has beaten me down. It's just so heartbreaking to lose birds to the wildlife. I hate that my geese must stay impounded for their own safety. I miss having them underfoot in the yard, fussing at me and begging in their loud honks for treats.

I was glad to see a bit of sun coming in my window this morning. The incessant drizzle and grayness of this time of year tends to make me a bit cranky since I can't get out and do as much as I'd like to. The wind blows over the mountain like some howling beast, knocking down everything in its path. The porch rockers are on their backs and will stay that way until spring. The woodstove is going a mile a minute, consuming wood at a frenetic pace in hopes of conserving some precious propane.

Real coq-au-vin for supper tonight. If you've never had it made with the real thing...a rooster...well, you are missing out!

Monday, December 12, 2005

I've been following the idiocy of the recent outrage over the White House cards and tree with my usual slack-jawed dumbfoundedness. Christian conservatives just seem to have too much time on their hands and I'm shocked at the dearth of goodwill. Petty, selfish meanness seems to be their only common language.

The so-called "War on Christmas" is just another bamboozle being lead by the same group of extremists who are fighting gay marriage. It's the politics of exclusion. They must have all had hand painted signs up on their tree houses as kids saying "NO (fill in the blank with your most hated gender/race/sexual orientation/creed) ALLOWED".

So they are boycotting stores offering "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays", expressing outrage over the inclusive White House holiday card, and have bullied the White House into changing the name of the Holiday tree back to the Christmas tree.

We all know the prominent role the Christmas tree has in the Bible. I love the part where Jesus plugs in the Nazareth Mall's stately douglas fir tree then goes on to kick some serious Samaritan ass.

This recent nit-picking battle of the Culture Wars just seems to illustrate, once again, how completely irrelevant Christ-like behavior is to the religious right. Let's remember that there didn't seem to be a marginalized group in his neighborhood that Christ didn't include and befriend. Samaritans, lepers, whores, tax collectors...he spoke up for all these people. I can't believe that he would look on favorably upon the direction the church he founded has taken.

Christianity's success is based on inclusion. One of the earliest debates of the church revolved around whether to allow gentiles, i.e. non-Jews, to participate as Christians. The early church decided to allow the gentiles in without them first becoming Jews. I'd hazard a guess that if the debate had gone the other way and adult circumcision was a prerequisite to becoming a Christian that Christianity would now be small paragraph in the history books. So, in a way, the big selling point early on was "no weinie whacking".

There is no denying that Christmas has been a huge success as a holiday. It's success is largely due to the secular elements, the lights, the presents, the tree, the songs, Santa. The "spirit" of Christmas is one of giving, sharing, enjoying family and friends. These are things that people of all faiths enjoy. I see nothing bad in opening the big mid-winter festival to all. It's not just about Christ. It's about "Peace and Goodwill towards ALL."

So Happy Holidays, Season Greetings, a joyous Christmahanukwanzakah to everyone. Don't let those Grinches, the Christian right, spoil the holidays with their exclusive boy's club.

Everyone has a place at this table.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Skillet Cookies

Skillet Cookies

My family's traditional Christmas cookie.

1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 package chopped dates
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 box Rice Crispy cereal
1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter in a large iron skillet over medium heat. Cream eggs and sugar together. Pour into skillet with chopped dates. Stir constantly until caramelized mixture is a dark brown. Add vanilla. Remove from heat and whip by hand until cooler (5 minutes). Add rice crispies and nuts to mixture then form small balls and roll in powdered sugar or coconut.

I have been making these cookies for as long as I have memories. In my mind's eye, I can see my chubby little four-year old hands in front of me, covered in stickiness and powdered sugar. I can feel the heat of the mixture of crisped rice, nuts and caramelized dates and creamed sugar.

I hear my mother's voice. "Be's still hot!" or "You're rolling them too big!"

I liked to roll them big. That was because later, after they were chilled, I would slyly select the largest ones when they were offered. Munching into that cold sweet crispiness and getting powdered sugar all over my shirt. My face. I loved it when my mother would look exasperated and dust me off with her hand.

"I swear!....," she would say.

The recipe was lost for a time. My sister had gotten rid of the cookbook that the recipe was in. I was devastated when I realized this particular book was gone. I thought I was being fair by leaving the sugar-stained tattered book behind for her. She did not see the old book as the pearl of great price that I did. My brother and sister have often been bemused by the things I deem valuable, but I think they are coming around to my way of thinking. History is important. Even the history of one family is important.

I reconstructed the recipe from my memories. My dead mother whispering in my ear the entire time. She often whispers to me.

I make them alone now to send to my family and friends. It doesn't seem right somehow, they are the sort of treat that really needs tiny sticky hands to form the warm melange into the little sugar-covered balls. If you have such little fingers in your house, you may want to give these a try.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

They are like some Dickensian nightmare that seems to crawl from under the modern Christmas Present’s robes during and after times of great tragedy. Actually they are always there. You see them rearing their petty noggins from time to time, but they like to snatch them back inside their shell once they realize how hideously ugly they are.

It would be so much easier if they were accompanied by clanking chains and the moans of the damned. I have a feeling that comes later for them.

I know we all are capable of being one of them. When I was in eighth grade, I remember the moment that made me their kin.

She was incredibly popular and pretty in a Mormon way. Big pretty teeth in a constant beauty pageant smile. She was just smart enough for people to like her but not freakishly smart. That was me. Freakishly smart and trying so hard to hide it.

I hated her. I think her name was Tammy. She grated on my nerves to the point that I could barely stand to be around her.

“Haaaa-ay!” She could turn ‘hey’ into two syllables. Chirpy, Chirpety, Chirp, Chirp.

My dislike for Tammy went beyond mere envy. It was a fury at the world that valued people like her and despised people like me. It was a rage at her on a cellular level, yet not at her, but at what she was. It was an archetypal racism. It’s the hate they talk about when they talk about “hate crimes”. It’s unspeakably ugly. Ugly as sin.

We were both attending a beach party on the Island. She came up to me with a sad look on her face and asked, “Why do you hate me so much?”

I was shocked because she noticed.

I broke down in tears and could not answer. My silence witnessed my epiphany. She walked away without realizing the change she had wrought in me by showing me my hatred.

I’ve come to understand that my epiphany hasn’t arrived for a fair portion of the population of earth. Most people are perfectly happy hating without rhyme or reason. Most people like to wallow in their hate and enjoy aiming it toward curious and inappropriate places.

I reserve my hatred for the government. They are largely deserving and I figure, they can take it. The pompous and hubris-ridden are fun to make fun of.

You’d think that philanthropic endeavors would be free of such vitriol. How can anyone hate you for feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or helping little puppy dogs? But not-for-profits seem to be almost as good a target for hate as pretty cheerleaders and stupid, evil political regimes.

Hurricane Katrina had barely cleared Mississippi before the rumblings began denigrating the Red Cross. The Internet is full of anti-Red Cross sentiment, some of it quite ugly. I heard a nasty Internet tirade the other day that went off on the Red Cross largely because the writer of this piece of idiocy thought the Red Cross charged WWII soldiers for cigarettes.

In humane circles, the big target is the HSUS. I can’t claim to agree with everything that comes out of there, but the sheer range of crazy opposition to the HSUS is pretty impressive. They have apparently pissed off everyone at some point or another. So you get cock fighters and puppy-millers screaming at them for being crazy animal rightists. Then you have all of the crazy animal rightists sneering at them for being toadies of the government. I am being stalked right now for including their url in a list of charities to consider for donations.

Even my little tiny corner of philanthropy is under attack. I honestly can’t find much these days to recommend about the rescue community, even in my little corner of fearless defenders of cocker spaniels. A rival group of cocker spaniel rescuers became insanely jealous of my little group’s fundraising success for Noah’s Wish and began pelting us with sour grapes. It’s actually fairly hilarious if it weren’t so vicious. I think I need to write a book about it.

Even when we were setting up the little fundraiser for Noah’s Wish, some slime mold came out of the woodwork and began defaming the founder of that organization. It very nearly pulled us off track. But it became obvious that this person was trying to appropriate our fundraiser for her own charity.

Part of the problem of moving the responsibility of news gathering to the Internet is that there are no ethics on the Internet. No control for slander or character defamation. And most of the people on the Internet really do believe everything they read there, particularly if it is nasty, gossipy or slanderous. It’s the price we pay for living in a “dumbed down” society.

But in the end, those telling the tales and badmouthing charities end up looking bad. You might as well beat yourself to death with an ugly stick. Picking on people who are just trying to alleviate a bad situation just makes you look petty. And sure, you will have people who will flock to you because of your ranting. They are more than likely to be people who feed off of pettiness.

Tammy, I imagine in my mind, lives in a perfectly ordered Junior League life as the successful wife of some lawyer or doctor. She has a perfect family with a gaggle of beautiful children with perfect teeth. I need to believe in her perfection. I need her to be that happy chirpy adult. I need her to be my reminder that just because there is an anti-me out there, that the world is big enough for both of us. I need to believe that her ability to marry well has served a purpose to the greater good. And I’m sure that it has.

We are a complex species. Each of us equally capable of both transcendental kindness and unspeakable depravity. Perhaps we do know better how charity dollars should be spent. Perhaps we would do a better job. If we honestly believe this, we should go out and use our powers for good. Not beat up on The United Way or The Red Cross or the HSUS.

Unless you are beating up on Reverend Benny Hinn. Now that guy is open season 24-7.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

My talent for melding into cultures different from own has led me into some interesting situations. The axiom I try to follow is, "Keep your mouth shut and your ears open and you might just learn something. "

A year ago, I remember making the same monthly trip into the small feed and seed where I purchase my dog food that I make each month. I like this little feed store because it is full of local color and is run by South Carolinians. I hear stories here I don’t hear anywhere else.

As I enter the front door, I always stop and read the bulletin board. The usual fare includes ads for hay, both square and royal bales, horses, pit bull puppies, farriers, guineas and game chickens. Indeed, much of the store is dedicated to the last item. Cocke County is famous for its game chicken breeders and illegal chicken fights. You can find all sorts of stuff here; special feed mixtures, special gunpowder to feed your cocks, special medications, muffs and things I have no idea what they are used for.

The folks who run the store have always been great source of information for me concerning my chickens. My chickens are fat, placid standards. As far removed from the brilliantly colored game chickens as a draft horse is removed from a Mongolian Steppes pony. Still, they get the same ailments and suffer from the same chicken problems. And if there is anything moving through the area that will impact chickens…these people will know about it. They keep healthier and cleaner flocks than any of the commercial or hobby breeders.

Indeed, I quite admire the chicken people. I agree with them up to the point where they throw those gorgeous birds into the ring to fight one another. The chicken people seem to like me as well. We are united by our disdain for the animal rights movement. I think they are a bit misinformed about this. I don’t think they understand that I’m very involved with animal welfare and don’t see the HSUS as the “great Satan” that they do. My disdain for the animal rights people is much different from theirs. This is just one area that I would consider myself in a “strange bedfellow” situation.

A year ago, I waded through a handful of cherried-out pick-up trucks with “Blood and Feathers” mud flaps and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers to pick up my dog food. I would have loved to have a Kerry/Edwards sticker on my jeep. Hell, I would have loved to have Kerry/Edwards signs all over my property. But I was soundly warned not to do such a thing. I was told out right that my property would be vandalized if I showed support for my Democratic candidates. Driving around this oddly traditional Republican stronghold dating back to the Civil War, the only places you could see Kerry/Edwards signs were on vacant stretches of woodland. I didn’t see one sign in anyone’s yard. If you are pushing toward a single party system, fear seems to be the best motivator.

So I didn’t flaunt it. I’m a poor person and can’t afford to replace my vehicle or have my home rebuilt after arson. I felt a certain quiet hopefulness though. It hardly seemed possible that George Bush could get re-elected after his lying ways had been revealed. Because lying is a sin and surely his thickly born-again Christian base would realize that. Wouldn’t they? I felt hopeful because I knew that Dems were getting the vote out in record numbers. Even as I was passing through the phalanx of RNP supporters stationed solidly within 25 feet of my polling place, I felt hopeful. I even grinned and said to them, “No thanks, I’m a Yella Dawg!”

So, I was understandably dumbfounded when GWB won. Evidently so were a lot of people. There are still rumblings involving Diebold’s involvement. Most recently a whistleblower came forward to reveal a remote back door to the Diebold’s software. Jimmy Carter, who supervises elections in third world countries, cannot say that our elections are fair. In our heart of hearts…we know George is an imposter. We just don’t know what to do about it but wait.

Photo Hosted at

So my recent dog food buying expedition ended up being much different. Prominently displayed on the back wall were T-shirts for sale that said, “I SURVIVED 6-11”. They refer to the June federal raid on a Del Rio cockfighting ring. The feds brought to bear their full resources, the Patriot Act and 400,000 taxpayer dollars to net 150 people on misdemeanor charges. They’ve spent the summer kicking in the doors of various small town sheriffs, Boss Hogs, deputies and other local officials. They’ve gone through courthouse records in great detail. The Feds are obviously looking for something. They don’t appear to have found it yet…whatever it is.

The chicken people have really taken all this very personally and are fighting it tooth and nail. They blame George W. Bush and the HSUS. I found myself in the singular position of hearing a well-phrased rant regarding the importance of separating leadership from personable foibles. They praised Bill Clinton to the heavens; because they knew Bill would have had more important things to do than harass a bunch of chicken people at taxpayer’s expense. They are very clear now that the drunk guy who’s the life of the pig pickin’ ain’t necessarily cut out to lead the free world.

Indeed, finally, after Hurricane Katrina, I seem to have strange bedfellows all about. They are like people waking up from a long, long sleep. I think the conversions have more to do with the Federal governments application of the Patriot act here in East Tennessee. It smacks of the old “revenuer” type of action that these people have such a long history with. Evidently, these types of actions are occurring all over the country in small rural communities and counties. I wish I knew why the Feds were cleaning house in these small rural enclaves known for cheap property taxes and slow economic growth. But people are finally experiencing what the loss of civil liberties means to them personally.

They still want “God” back in government, but they want George W. Bush out of there. I don’t know that they will become Democrats. I doubt they’ll ever be able to vote past their narrow self-interests and single-issue politics. They may continue to be easily swayed be slick ideologues with hot button talking points. But they are going to be looking more closely at what a candidate’s history is…and realize that “less government” pretty much means lots more government at the end of the day.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tennessee is my second home, the home of my adulthood. I grew up, as did all of my family going back several generations, on the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands.

The 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane

As we witness the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina and watch, with horror and fascination as Hurricane Rita churns her monstrous way toward Texas, it is easy to think, "Surely we have not seen the like of these storms before."

I've been wanting to write about the Sea Islands Hurricane since Katrina struck. Partly because I was honored to hear a first hand account when I was a youngster from an ancient black man who was my nanny's father. Joe Kinlaw was 98 when I saw his milky cataract-veiled eyes well up with tears at the recollection. I sat on the old heart pine blanket chest in his two room block house and heard a tale of unbelievable destruction. Bodies buried in shallow graves, flood, disease and the unbelievable stench of rotting corpses of animals and people.

Joe didn't have an inch of dark black skin that wasn't creased from a lifetime of tilling his crops with his mule on his Buck Island farm. He was a slight man, bent from a lifetime of broken promises. But he was strangely happy given all he had seen in his life and had the funny chortling laugh that Katie had...the laugh I inherited from the black woman who raised me practically from birth.

The Sea Island Hurricane struck August 27th, 1893, bearing down upon Savannah, Georgia and affecting the entire stretch of coastline on either side. It is hard to guage how many actually died but it is placed between 1000 and 3000, mostly the poor black population. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross who supervised the 10 month long relief effort, placed those numbers much higher. 30,000 were left homeless and starving, their crops ruined and the farm land salted by the storm surge.

The Sea Island Hurricane, like Katrina, chose its victims from the poor disenfranchised people of the coast. Like Katrina, accounts reflect that they had at least three days warning of the storm, but those who could not afford to flee inland were the ones who paid the ultimate price. Like Katrina, The Sea Island storm was followed by another terrible storm, The 1893 Charleston Hurricane. The US government did nothing to assist in the relief efforts in 1893. Over 100 years later, with all the benefits of our technology, we could not get our most vulnerable citizens out of the way of a killer storm. So much for "Lessons Learned". How many lessons do we need?

In 1894, Scribner's Magazine ran a long article about the storm and the relief effort. It tells the story much better than I could, but keep in mind the period when reading it. Attitudes toward blacks of the era are reflected in the writing.

Scribners Article

Here are some excerpts:

"Two thousand persons, the great majority of them Negroes, were drowned or killed on the night of the storm. The others died from exposure, from a lack of food, or from the malarial fever that was epidemic on the islands during the hot September days that succeeded the disturbance."

"One peculiarity of this storm was that the aged, the very young, and the infirm were all killed. The survivors were young men in the vigor of manhood. Very few were seriously wounded, and hundreds were found without a bruise on their bodies. They were killed by the sheer pressure and fury of the wind. In the settlements where the storm was worst, not a single child survived, and very few women."

"Fortunately for the survivors, they were in reach of immediate aid. They lived near New Orleans, one of the richest and most charitable communities in the country, a community in which the organization of benevolence has reached the highest point of efficiency. Relief was instantly forthcoming; there was not a moments delay."

"One moment she had five children clinging to her, in another moment there were only two. The angry winds and the hungry waters had torn them from her and swept them out of hearing before they could utter a cry. But what this wom an said did not run in the direction of grief. 'I glad to God I got two lil' one lef'.'"

"It is estimated - and the estimate is not in the nature of a rough guess - that two thousand five hundred lives were lost in the islands and on the adjacent coast. The truth would not be missed very far if the number were placed at three thousand. Not all of those were lost in the storm. Two thousand persons, the great majority of them Negroes, were drowned or killed on the night of the storm. The others died from exposure, from a lack of food, or from the malarial fever that was epidemic on the islands during the hot September days that succeeded the disturbance."

"As a matter of fact, the Red Cross Society as I saw it at Beaufort is something entirely different from any other relief organization that has come under my observation. Its strongest and most admirable feature is its extreme simplicity. The perfection of its machinery is shown by the apparent absence of all machinery. There are no exhibitions of self-importance. There is no display -no torturous cross-examination of applicants - no needless delay. And yet nothing is done blindly, or hastily, or indifferently."

Perhaps my knowlege of this 1893 storm colored my reactions to Katrina. Knowing that New Orleans came to the aid of my homeland so swiftly when we were decimated made me want to help even more keenly. Our memories are long here in the South. Our gratitude reaches across the centuries.

I know, as surely as I know anything, that happiness, music and humid summer breezes dancing in spanish moss will return to New Orleans...just as they returned to Beaufort and Savannah. And God Bless the Red Cross for being there then...and being there now.

Other Sea Island Hurricane and Red Cross Links:

American Red Cross Museum: African Americans in the American Red Cross

Her baby had died and she was glad.

Not that Margaret Workman didn't love her son. But his death in July meant that he wasn't with the family at Tybee Island a month later on Aug. 27, 1893

Reading of Maggie Workman's letter about the storm

An Interview with Clara Barton about the Sea Islands Hurricane

Monday, September 19, 2005

The box office of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kalita Humphries Theater in Dallas is shaped like a coffin. I was there working during Adrian Hall’s reign during the 80’s when it happened. It’s fair to say that Adrian didn’t care for me, often referring to me as “that woman”. So I spent my years of employment there doing the not so creative work of box office and house management. This was okay with me at the time. I had burned myself up like a white goat on the altar of Los Angeles and spilled all my creative blood so that I had nothing left to give. The Dallas Theater Center was a break I needed badly.

I consoled myself by remembering that the coffin shaped office was exactly where Preston Jones had penned A Texas Trilogy. If The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia had emerged from this hopeless place…perhaps I wasn’t completely washed up at 24. Maybe I could go on to do something wonderful like that.

And it was a good place for me then. A time and place of unbridled silliness where we giggled and “corpsed” each time Mrs. Polly Baumfalk came to exchange her tickets. (Could you spell that for me, please Ma’am?) I’d bleached my hair an absurd platinum color that, to my delight, seemed to absolve me of any expectations of intelligence.

In 1985 were doing a production of C. P. Taylor’s dark musical tragi-comedy Good. Good is set in 1930’s Germany and is the story of a basically decent “good” man, a professor, and how he ends up supervising the final solution at Auschwitz. It’s about how “good” people become encompassed and overtaken by evil. Slowly, seductively until in utter horror…it is too late to turn back. In 1985, the Holocaust was still a taboo topic. It was before the Shoah Project and Schindler’s List. It was like saying the word “cancer” in those days…also not a topic for polite conversation. People were still uncomfortable about what had happened to six million souls in Hitler’s death camps. We knew the play was going to be controversial. I just wasn’t prepared for the first and only complaint I handled.

She came in the big glass doors using a cane that seemed poorly suited to support the weight of an entire world. Her frailty seemed a symptom of more than her advanced age and when she spoke you heard the echoes of long dead happiness. She slowly advanced on the ticket window and pushed her season tickets through the window. Her hands were talons that grew sideways from crippling arthritis and were decorated with huge gold rings like jewels on bleached bones.

She grasped my hand when I reached for the tickets and asked, “Why?” Her rheumy eyes, filling with watery tears.

Stupidly I looked from her tickets to her face, not knowing what to say.

Frustrated, she released my hand and rolled her sleeve up. There, still visible, in the creases of her skin was a death camp tattoo.

“Why?” She asked again and grasped my hand, digging into my flesh.

I excused myself and joined her in the lobby. Still quiet, still searching for something I could say, and gently guided her to a seat and sat beside her.

I then said the only thing I could say.

“Because it is important that we, all of us, never forget this. It needs to be remembered.”

I knew when I said it that it was the right thing and the true thing, but I also knew that it was coming from a blonde bubble-headed gentile twenty-something and nothing that came out of my mouth was going to sound right. This grand old woman had more experience of cruelty and brutality and hatred than I would ever in my life imagine.

“Why?” She said again with a sob. “I can think of no good reason to remember such a thing. Such a ugly thing I’ve spent my life forgetting.”

I could not argue with her.

“You know, I there is nothing I can do to stop this play. What can I do for you?”

She seemed to tremble in her delicate, precarious unhappiness.

I called the general manager and we cut her comps for another show. I remember watching her leave the theater, still abjectly unhappy that this terrible thing was going to happen.

She was the first Holocaust survivor I ever met.

I hadn’t thought about my frail little Jewish lady in a long time. Lately, seeing the faces of these new survivors of an entirely different sort of cataclysm, she has haunted me. I doubt she lived long enough to see the efforts that have been made since to remember what happened to her and so many others. She was old beyond her many years even then.

I am tormented by my species’ inability to learn from past mistakes. We seem doomed to repeat history under different circumstances, never taking notice of the ominous similarities from situation to situation. We are like the friend who intentionally seeks out abusive relationships, one after another, each time thinking this time it will be different. All the while ignoring the fact that the new person is really the same person as before…just in a different skin.

I am a Cassandra. There are many of us and our numbers are growing.

Because it is important that we, all of us, never forget this. It needs to be remembered.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I was ten years old and putting my ballet slippers on in the cold, dank old jalopy of a building off Victory Drive in Savannah that served as a ballet school. I can still smell that mixture of kid leather, sweat, pine dust and nylon. Someone was boasting about their sister's recent debut.

"My sister's a movie star." I slyly said, looking up from my chubby legs stuffed uncomfortably into pink tights.

Another little girl, feeling left out from this preteen one-upsmanship blurted out, "Oh, yeah! Well MY sister is a majorette!"

I didn't know what to say. So I wisely said nothing. How do you compete with that?

I was recently looking for a bio of my sister. Not one of the awful B movie site ones, but one she'd written herself. I knew she had this excellent head shot out there for the real estate company she and her husband own and I thought there might be a bio as well. There wasn't. My sister remains adorably computer illiterate.

But I found this amazing little nugget on a blog called Velociworld. This guy, Kim Crawford, left this really wonderful blog entry about my sister and sideways, about my family.

October 28, 2003


I haven't blogged about Simone in a long, long time, mostly because it's too painful. She's the first girl I ever fell in love with, and to this day she has no idea who the fuck I am. Life's funny like that.

Simone was born in Savannah, too, 3 days shy of being two years older than me. When I was a kid my parents had a river cottage on the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina, and we'd spend the summers there. Simone's family lived just down the road, on Myrtle Island, on the same river, but in a great huge brick 1920's southern mansion, with enormous live oaks that blocked the sun, dripping Spanish moss and somnolent decorum. They had a long gravel driveway that circled around a fountain in front of the house, the Sure Sign of Old Money to me. This was obviously their primary residence.

I first heard of Simone the summer of '71, when our next door neighbor told us who she was and where she lived. Simone was enjoying great notoriety for a sixteen year old, because she'd just starred in a low-budget flick called Swamp Girl, about a girl raised in the Okeefenokee Swamp with no contact with the outside world.

They call it stalking now; I called it innocent curiosity, and spent the better part of that summer pedaling around her house and Myrtle Island, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of Simone, even as the hired help chased my pimply fourteen-year-old ass out of their driveway for attempting to cut doughnuts in the gravel with a Kolkhoff ten-speed. The fourteen-year-old boy's equivalent of scratching the grass with his hind legs.

I'd often see Simone as she water-ski'd by our dock, blond hair slicked back, bikini aquiver (you know what I mean). There were usually one or two GQ-looking boys in the boat with her, all studly and such, but at least she had the decency to wave back to the skinny geek with big ears and big wood in his banlon nut hugger bathing suit.

Unrequited love. Man. Actually, unrequited acknowledgement of existence. But we stalkers never recognize that fact until it's too late.

Simone did a lot of B movies and TV work after that, but I don't think she did anything after the mid-eighties.

You want to know when she broke my heart? In 1975, when I was in college, and I saw her do a nude scene in Death Race 2000 with David Carradine. Because I felt betrayed? Hell, no. Because she'd seduced Grasshopper. Some things a man just can't forgive.

My mother would have slap eaten this up. Mom worked terribly hard to project the image of "Old Money"...though...honestly...we had nothing of the sort.

The house never had a fountain. You can check the images in my galleries on that one and deeming it a "mansion", well, it's very flattering but quite wrong. I do, totally, believe that Katie chased him out of our yard for doing donuts. That is just such a Katie sort of thing. I can hear her in my head yelling, "Whatcho doin'! Git!".

Thank you, Kim Crawford, for this lovely little memory of my family. In return, I'm trying to make my beautiful sister aware of your existence. We tried to figure it out last night, but you are right.

She doesn't have a clue who you are.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm not sure if they've called Mike Brown back to DC to fire him orgive him a medal. Everyone else who has screwed up in this administration has gotten some sort of honor or promotion.

And of course... every one pads their resume. I'm sure he didn't expect this to happen. I mean....Who'd a thunk it? But, Brownie does appear to padded his resume in a way that sort of crosses the line. The line between bullshit and pathological lying.

And it all comes down to accountability and the lack thereof in theadministration. If GWB was a real leader, heads would roll. But he's too interested in people liking him. And not the people who count.

Here ya go, Brownie. Here's the nation's safety from natural disasters. You deserve it for kissing my ass so good. "You're doing a heck of a job here, Brownie!"

Gormless Git. Ain't no cold cokes in hell.

Reliable is Mike Brown's Resume?

Mike Brown's Resume
from Findlaw

They had to take the Arabian Horse thing off today. I think they
are trying to expunge that part of Brownie's life for some reason.

Memorable Quotes from previous employers and people Brown claims to have worked for, et al...:

"I think I've told you that I'm into Arab horses. Well, for 3 years Michael Brown was hired and then fired by our IAHA, the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He was an unmitigated, total fucking disaster. I was shocked as hell when captain clueless put him in charge of FEMA a couple of years ago."

"He ruined IAHA financially so badly that we had to change the name and combine it with the Purebred registry.

I am telling you this after watching the fucking shipwreck in the Gulf. His incompetence is KILLING people."

"The assistant is more like an intern. Department heads did not report
to him."

"Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He
was a student at Central State University. Mike used to handle a lot of
details. Every now and
again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was
always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."
(anyone who's been trained to write coded negative letters of
recommendation will get a laugh out of the above.)

"He may have been an adjunct instructor, but that title is very
different from that of 'professor'."

As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson
says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware
of it."

"not a person that anyone here is familiar with."

"was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was
never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never
heard his name mentioned here."

"He did mainly transactional work, not litigation," says Jones. "There
was a feeling that he was not serious and somewhat shallow."

I keep finding more quotes about this idiot as I go.

We all know a Mike Brown. He's the guy at work who gets by kissing the bosses' ass while doing absolutely nothing. He's the idiot who keeps talking about "team work"when what he really means is "how can I get you to do my job for me?" He's the asshole that you've had to cover for for the past five years because no one can get rid of him because the boss thinks his crap doesn't stink. You know him!

The difference here is that even our most incompetant bosses usually know not to give this asshole any real or crucial responsibility. Mike can't help it that he's an idiot. The real responsibility and accountability lies with the numbnut who awarded him FEMA.

Guess the leadership at the Department of Complete Imbecility had already been farmed out.

In fairness to Marie Antoinette, she did not actually say, "Let them eat cake". It was Marie-Therese who said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" some 100 years earlier. I'm sticking with the Marie Antoinette allusion since that is more commonly known. And brioche...while not still very yummy.

Perversely, people are defending this.  Just can't see this for the astoundingly insensitive and tasteless comment that it was.

This is the sort of thing that is out there. Name removed to protect the astoundingly insensitive.

"Do you honestly believe that any media person (other than a FOX employee) would give an accurate rendering of anything said by any member of the Bush family? Or any Republican, for that matter? PUHLEEZE!!!

I would bet what few $$ I have that Mrs. Bush's remarks were:

1.  Incorrectly quoted

2.  Taken completely out of context

3.  Deliberately reworded

I don't care what circumstance prompted this migration to other states -- it IS a hardship on the people who live in the communities where they go. It reduces housing availability and job availability. Many of those being transported were "homeless" before Katrina had her say. And now the government will "reward" them for being "victims".

Think about this a bit more dispassionately. And NEVER believe the liberal media when they "quote" the remarks of a Republican. Sound bites can be spliced. Audio can be edited. Spin is applied liberally (deliberate choice of words there). Don't sucker into it."

This is why I'm growing hateful towards Republicans. I'm fairly certain that these sentiments are nestling in all of their hearts like nasty little worms, whether they give voice to them or not. It's like racism. It's hideous when it's visible but you know even when it's not that it's still there.

I gave this person a link to the actual raw tape...that even FOX had to report on. I also gave her a piece of my fairly irate mind. She said I won the nasty contest by a country mile.

Guess I did.

Declaration of New Orleans
by Charles Montesquieu
Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 3:24 AM

A Declaration of The People of the United States of America Concerning
the Present Crisis in the City of New Orleans.

In the name of the People of the United States of America, we declare:

That for the last four and a half years the President and his
administration have served the interests of a few wealthy citizens and
not the interests of the American People.

That he has acted with contempt for the People and for the Constitution
and the laws of the United States.

That an edict of the Supreme Court made him President in 2000 and fraud
made him President again in 2004.

That the President has pursued an unprecedented expansion of Executive
powers that are a grave threat to the rights and liberties of the
American People.

That he has made war on sovereign nations that are no threat to the
American People.

That his "War on Terror" has cost billions of dollars and thousands of
lives without bringing those responsible for the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001 to justice.

That the failure of his leadership in the present crisis in the City of
New Orleans has resulted in the deaths of thousands more.

That he is derelict in every duty of his office.

Therefore, we resolve:

That President George W. Bush and his administration are illegitimate.

That he should resign from office and new elections should be held

That if he does not resign, the Congress of the United States should
act to remove him from office.

That if the Congress should fail to act, the People will exercise their
right to abolish this state and will establish a new government that
will better secure their rights and liberties.


And by the way....

There ain't no cold cokes in hell.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Virtuoso

The Virtuoso
Posted by: rosiewolf.
The only person you have the ability to muzzle is yourself. Yes. I'm talking to you.

I will continue to be critical of George W. Bush who now surely has lost the largest number of civilian citizens to violent death under his rule as any president in our history. We don't need to have an inquiry...we need an indictment.

I will continue with my efforts to help my fellow Southerners, for whom I weep for daily. We have long, long memories down here, Mr. Bush. You will surely live forever in infamy. Not since Sherman have we seen the miserable likes of you.

You bastard. May you rot in hell.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

If I hear him say the results are "not acceptable" while failing to step up and take responsibility for what is obviously his failing as a leader, I will surely spew chunks. George W. Bush is no more fit to lead a nation than my nanny goat is.

We have been so sorely injured as a nation by this man and his merry band of fascisti. Up to this point, I've merely had a shuddering horror and dislike of him, his administration and his policies. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I now realize that he is more than a dangerous, stupid madman. I no longer have to wonder what life must have been like for Romans under the rule of a Nero or a Caligula. I know. I watched this asshole fall apart while reading "My Pet Goat" to school children while the Twin Towers were hit. I've now observed him sit on his ass waiting for someone else to do something while hundreds perished and are still dying in New Orleans. The thought of this monster walking about stealing air while people are drowning like rats in their attics dismays me. It's just not right. He should be made to pay.

The fact that he fails to take responsibility for his gross incompetence yet again...well, I'm not surprised. I just wish there were some way we could get rid of him now and not have to risk another three years of his inept bumbling, global faux pas' and waste of life.

My apologies to any serious practitioners of reference to Samedi is because Bush now must be as well acquainted with the realm of death as the good Baron, having brought so very many over to that side. No offense was intended.

I find myself thinking that the poor, black population of New Orleans is the one disadvantaged population I would not like pissed off at me. I think we may see mass produced GWB voodoo dolls in the very near future. I'll take two!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rosie's Cocker Rescue Referral

Rosie's Cocker Rescue Referral


Old Maid's Aerie Farm and Jammery


The first annual Jelly, Jam and Preserves Fundraiser

Stock up for the holidays now with these lovely hand-made jellies, jams and preserves. These are completely natural "wild" food ingredients. There are limited supplies so please get your orders in soon. Once they are gone...they are gone. Please check this page for updates and availability. Will be shipping until supplies run out.

Suggested donations:

Half Pints.......6.00
Plus shipping..........Please refer to shipping guide

All proceeds go to the Fat Buddy and Babe Fund and RCRR

Currently shipping:

Wild Blackberry Jelly (half-pints only) Located down a secluded tract, accessible only by 4-wheel drive, is a burnt out farmstead where I gather these luscious blackberries. I always have to be on the lookout for the scent of "wet dog"...which means a bear is close by. This tastes of hot july afternoons and dark deep sweetness.

Zesty Wild Elderberry Jelly (half-pints only) If a blackberry and a blueberry fell in love...the elderberry would be their "woods colt". I gather these on the sides of mountain stream banks and springs.

Wild Elderberry Limeade Jelly (pints and half-pints)

Lime is the perfect accompaniment for the sweet elderberry.
Wild Kudzu Blossom Jelly (pints and half-pints) The legendary weed is finally good for something! Kudzu blooms have a sweet smell that is reminiscent of grapes and... well...something else you can't quite put your finger on. The jelly is a startling fuschia color, crystal clear and tastes of concorde grapes and tea. I guarantee it to be indescribable and completely unique.

Aunt Nell's Pear Chip Preserves (pints only) My great-aunt Nell Gleaton's astounding melange of pears, ginger and lemon. This antique recipe tastes of a Victorian childhood, times long gone by and girls in long white dresses.

Red Hots Apple Butter (pints only) This deep russet red apple jam is flavored with cinnamon candy and my own hand ground mix of allspice, cinnamon, clove and ginger. It smells and tastes like Christmas. The apples I use are as close to wild as they get...long ignored on old homesteads, yet still bearing.

In the Kettle(planned):

Banana Nut Bread Jam (October)
Wild Ginseng Jelly (November)


Please provide funds for shipping from zip code 37753 for your order based on the following weights. Shipping is by USPS Priority Mail unless otherwise specified. If shipping cost exceeds 7.70, the Priority Mail fixed rate box should be used. 7.70 for any weight, anywhere in the country. I can fit 6 half pints or 3 full pints in a fixed rate box.
Please indicate if you wish this option.

Weight Chart

1 half-pint
1 pound
1 pint
2 pounds
2 half-pints
2 pounds
2 pints
4 pounds
***Use Priority Mail fixed rate

Click Here for the USPS Shipping Calculator

Email me at with your order, then make your jam donation securely through PayPal here:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

As what looks very much to be a killing storm bears down on the Big Easy, I send my prayers and good thoughts to all who lie in the storm's path.

I'm always reminded of an old folk song that actually deals with the murder of one sister by another, whenever a big blow comes this way. Bluegrass has it's roots in a bardic tradition and some of the best songs also tell real stories. I have this song in my collection and I can't find it right now. I think the Dead did a version of it.

If you can find this's really wonderful. Very special.

Wind and Rain

Two lovely sisters were a walking side by side;
Oh, the wind and rain.
One pushed the other in the waters so deep,
And she cried, oh the dreadful wind and rain.

She floated on down to the miller's mill pond;
Oh, the wind and rain.
She floated on down to the miller's mill pond,
And she cried, oh the dreadful wind and rain.

He hooked her up by the tail of her gown;
Oh, the wind and rain.
He hooked her up by the tail of her gown,
And she cried, oh the dreadful wind and rain.

He made fiddle strings of her long black hair;
Oh, the wind and rain.
He made fiddle strings of her long black hair;
And she cried, oh the dreadful wind and rain.

He made fiddle screws of her long finger bones;
Oh, the wind and rain.
He made fiddle screws of her long finger bones,
And she cried, oh the dreadful wind and rain.

The only tune that the fiddle would play was;
Oh, the wind and rain.
The only tune that the fiddle would play,
Was oh, the dreadful wind and rain.

I just pray that New Orleans...that shining jewel of the South, is not completely blown off the map. I hope this storm ends up being a small, harsh hit and quickly exhausted as some of these big storms do.

Oh, the dreadful wind and rain.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Howard Finster's words on one of his early folk art works kept playing in my brain today as I fumed to myself in the kitchen today.

I prepared a gallon of elderberry juice this morning then moved on to the daunting task of turning the peck of feral winesap apples into apple butter. I don't like to do things the easy way so I'm extracting the pulp with my hands and grinding up spices. This was an all day chore. I just finished up 13 pints of this glorious russet colored spicey apple jam. My house smells like Christmas from all of the allspice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Anyway, as I'm slaving away, I have the T.V. on CNN. The entire Pat Robertson story has been burning me up. Pat Robertson had repulsed me for decades now. He is and has been the personification of evil on Earth for years and it surprises me that certain segments of the right wing are only just getting around to seeing this.

So this man, who has publicly prayed for God to kill one of the sitting Supremes, has now called for the execution of Venezuela's president Chavez. And prayed publicly for that to happen. So today he apologizes...but offered "kidnapping" as an alternate suggestion.

I believe in a God. And because I believe in a God, I have to believe that there is some special corner of hell, more horrific than anything we could possibly conceive of, where the evil little toad men like Robertson and Falwell will be locked together in some insanely profane embrace for all of eternity.

There won't be any spicey apple butter there and there definitely won't be no cold cokes in hell.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It was 1999 and we were all piled in Tree's office with the big glass windows at CNN in Atlanta. The door had been shut as we five "girls" in our late 30's and early 40's were having an important secret meeting. We always looked both ways down the hall to make sure no one was coming before doing this.

Tree, ceremoniously, withdrew the glossy 8 X 10 from the envelope to display. We all gasped and held our breaths. There he was, in his tweed jacket and impeccably tailored trousers, lounging in the doorway of his book-lined office. His long lines, graceful, and his weathered face in a world weary half-smile. His little reporter's notebook just peeking out of a pocket. You could almost imagine the smell of tobacco and scotch that surely must have infused that amazing tweed jacket and scented his long-fingered hands. We all swooned.

For women working in broadcast news, Peter Jennings was a rock star. There was something about his particular mix of extraordinary competence, stellar journalistic abilities, sardonic wit and easy confidence that just made one go all gushy inside. It wasn't about looks, though Jennings was very easy on the eye. Anchors have to be goodlooking, but they don't have to be smart or particularly talented in journalism. It was about presence, power and ability.

Like a the bumbling teenage nerd, I once was...I just kept saying, "She's gonna freak, man! She's gonna freak!"

I was speaking of the inscription on the photo. Tree had pulled some strings and gotten the photo personally autographed, "To Joan and Katy, Many happy regards, Peter Jennings."

Joan was our friend over at Turner Entertainment who had a huge Peter Jennings crush. Katy was her miniature French Poodle. Joan's birthday was coming up and she really was the gal who had everything. At least everything she needed. Tree really had done something special by pulling this particular rabbit out of the hat. That she had gotten the French Poodle included on the inscription was nothing short of inspired.

All of us had to trail our fingers over his signature, trying to sense whatever essence he might have left behind.

Jodi said, "I bet he has stacks of these photos that he sends out to women."

"Yeah." We agreed.

Today, I'm sobbing into my kitchen sink as I'm loading the dishwasher. Large, tearful, heart-wrenching sobs of mourning. I'll always remember exactly what I was doing, the moment I heard that Peter Jennings had died.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It's day three of Bolly and Lufu's internment on the back porch "goat hospital". They are separated from but in visual contact with AlphaBetty goat who continues to hack like a three pack a day smoker. I'm breaking down and starting her on a course of pen-G today. Penicillin is always scary because you have to have that epinephrin right there for anaphylactic shock. You only have moments to administer it.

Bolly and Lufu were scouring down in the pasture three mornings ago. Scouring is the livestock term for diarrhea. It's never a good thing in goats. I actually had to drag Lufu up to the house, he was so sick. Bolly was better...not in that hang- eared, degected state that Lufu was in. This had happened overnight. On the plus side, no one was hollering and they were still interested in eating.

I did the no-brainer stuff first. Got them cleaned up (they get the poop all over themselves), comfortable and hydrated with electrolytes. Then administered a big dose of Pepto-Bismol.

I went out to visit everyone else to make sure that no one else was spewing green efluvia. They were fine, but I found something alarming in the water bucket. My pastured goats have access to a spring fed pond, but they prefer that I keep a hose fed bucket near the house. So I do. It gets filled and changed daily. There was a dead rat in it.

I freaked. Goats are incredibly fastidious about feed and water sources. They won't touch fouled water. But Bolly and Lufu are at the age where they aren't the brightest bulbs in the pack and the possibility was there that they ingested rat infused water. So I went back and wiped out any surviving good gut bacteria with an oral antibiotic. Treated them all day with that then started them on Probios and yoghurt innoculated goat milk to repopulate the gut.

Day change. They are no better and no worse. I started them on 35 cc's of C & D anti-toxin sub-Q, in case there was any entero. I continue to feed them goat milk. Lufu got bad enough to warrant a shot of banamine, a prescription pain reliever and muscle relaxant. But they are still eating like fools so this is good.

The scours are green and watery. They aren't really terribly smelly such as you would expect in Cocci. So the other condition that causes this is plant poisoning. I've been spending a huge amount of time examining goat poop over the past few days. Provided I can get to it before the dogs do. Dogs love goat poop, it being both perfume and snack in one go. Healthy goat poop looks like rabbit poop. Little pellets. Green, liquid poop is indicative of three things: a) coccidiosis; b) gorging on too much fresh pasture; or c) plant poisoning. The gorging would have resolved by now but cocci and plant poisoning are high on my list of possibilities. I'm hoping it's not cocci. It doesn't smell like cocci.

This morning I began treating them for cocci and worm infestation. They got Vit. B complex shots. I took them off of free choice hay, which they were consuming rather rapidly. They'll just have the innoculated milk and electrolytes until this resolves. I was really excited that Lufu had a poop that showed a bit of definition to it. I'm hoping that Bolly will follow suit soon. I'm really hoping that the nutty boys just ate too much poke weed.

I'm calling my goat mentor now that I've tried everything she would have told me to do. Finding qualified caprine vets is a tricky sort of we all find experienced goat people who help us out. Betsy has been my mentor since I started keeping goats. Her herd is where my Saanans come from.

Keeping goats is hard. Don't ever think it's not. They can't just eat any old thing. So...I'm chained to the house and goat nanny until this clears up. I'll post pics of them when they are feeling better...they asked not to be photographed looking all sick and pathetic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I've been putting up a bushel of peaches for the freezer. There is something soothing about the strong sweet smell that transports me back in time.

I remember eavesdropping on my grandmother and her sisters. They were in my grandmother's bedroom in the house on Abercorne Street in Savannah, GA. My great aunt Emmy Jo had come up from Florida with a box of mangos and oranges from her grove. Great aunt Baby Dear had come from Tennessee and had stopped in Spartanburg for a few bushels of peaches. It must have been summer. In my memory, their gatherings were always garnished with fruit and the work that went into putting the fruit up for the winter.

I can hear them talking, sisterly, about mango peelings and rashes. One of the sisters would take a rash from peeling mangoes, which are related somehow to poison ivey, they said. I don't think that's true, somehow, but it sounded right at the time and I felt I had learned something special.

They are in the bathroom washing their hands and giggling. I am very small and sitting on my grandmother's rice bed with the nobbly white bedspread and wondering if she has any rock candy in her dresser. She always did. I think about the peaches and wonder if my grandfather will whittle monkeys from the peach pits as he sometimes did for me.

Today, the scent of peaches clings to my hands like gloves. I inhale the scent and for a moment I am five.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS) SB 1139/2669

Being the yellow dog Democrat that I am, it right pains me to get behind a Republican backed bill. But that is exactly what I am doing in regards to PAWS 1139/2669. I am begging you to take a bit of time and dash off an email to a few senators and your own representatives. If you care at all about animal welfare...this is a really important bill.

From HSUS:

"The PAWS bill is necessary because currently all commercial breeders of dogs and cats who sell their animals directly to the public avoid AWA licensing and humane handling requirements even when they are selling a large number of animals. The growing popularity of the Internet has created an unintentional loophole in the current law, allowing these commercial breeders to classify themselves "retail pet stores" and evade all federal oversight. As a result, raising animals in deplorable conditions and selling them to someone sight unseen has become even easier, and is a highly profitable business. These high volume dealers are commonly referred to as "puppy mills."

The puppy mill lobby has flooded the internet with lies about this bill. They have duped half of the rescue community by terrifying them with lies about how the USDA will now come after the shelters and rescue organizations. This bill stands a real chance of slowing the tide of misery pouring forth from these hell holes.

Organizations in support of PAWS include: HSUS, The AKC, and The Doris Day Animal League . Contrary to what the scaremongerers are putting out there...the only people who have anything to worry about with this bill are those who are abusing animals.

Rick Santorum's staff has indicated that what is needed right now is:

1. Calls and emails of support.

2. Co-sponsors for the bill.

If you have questions, please feel free to call Santorum's office. They are happy to answer your questions and will send out packets of information about the bill to you.

Please call or email the following contacts and your own representatives to support this bill!

Use this link to find your own representatives and ask them to please co-sponsor this bill!
U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Research, Nutrition, and General Legislation

Jurisdiction over legislation on agricultural education and research; animal welfare; legislation on or relating to food, nutrition and hunger; commodity donations; food stamps; national school lunch program; school breakfast program; summer food program for children; special milk program for children; special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children; nutritional programs for the elderly; Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act; and general legislation.

Rick Santorum, Chair
Washington DC Office, 511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Email Form:

Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Democrat
Washington DC Office, 433 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Richard G. Lugar (R-IN)
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
FAX: 202.228.0360

Thad Cochran (R-MS)
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Email Form:

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Email Form:

Max Baucus (D-MT)
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington Dc 20510
FAX: 202.224.0515
Email Form:

Mike Crapo (R-ID)
239 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
FAX: (202) 228-1375
Email Form:

Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington Dc 20510
FAX: 202.224.2499
Email Form: :

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
355 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
FAX: 202.228.1371
Email Form: :

Pat Roberts (R-KS)
109 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
FAX: 202.224.3514
Email Form:

E. Benjamin Nelson (D-NE)
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington Dc 20510
FAX: 202.228.0012
Email Form:

Full text of this bill is available here.

Image from "Prisoners for Profit" by Rachel A. Lamb.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Animal Hoarders

I'm not known for my ability to suffer fools gladly. In fact, I tend to suffer fools rather noisily and with a rather ill temper. I have little tolerance for people with mental conditions that are constantly used as excuses for their behavior. I, frankly, don't give a damn about your tragic childhood and how it has caused you to do whatever heinous act you've been indulging in. Particularly if it involves an animal or a small child.

I've been involved with animal welfare issues actively and formally for about five years. I work with humane societies and municipal shelters as a laiason between rescue organizations and the more formal sheltering professions. I try to help people keep their pets in their family...especially if the pet is a cocker spaniel. I also try to steer the public toward reputable rescues and shelters. I've had my share of bad experiences with both sides of the fence. I do what I can, time and finances permitting.

On the rescue side, the most common problem encountered is hoarders masquerading as rescue organizations. Honestly, people in rescue can tend to be a bit batty. You have to wade your way through a gang of crazy sometimes to find the people who are really just there to help the animals without some sort of agenda.

Animal hoarding is a world-wide problem. Some rescuers are clearly hoarders...but manage to take care of their animals and control their collections. But others fall into the dangerous side of collecting where they keep animals without adopting them out, fail to vet their animals and let animals die from neglect. I actually started my referral to combat such a rescue operating in my area. If you adopt an animal from a rescue, always ask for a veterinary reference. They are going to ask you for one so don't be shy about asking for one in return. Do not adopt from a rescue who does not keep a good and current relationship with a veterinarian.

Last week this story appeared. Animal control officers seized 488 cats from 82 year old Ruth Knueven's house. All of them were either dead or dying and all but 8 had to be destroyed. What makes this even more tragic is that 120 cats were taken from her in 2001. There is no cure for animal hoarding. Like sex offenders, hoarders do not seem to be able to stop this behavior. The judge in this case found the stones to declare Ms. Knueven "unfit to own pets".

Tougher laws are needed to deal with this problem which is more widespread in the rescue community than in other segments of the nation.

For more information on this devastating form of animal neglect:

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium at Tufts

Thursday, July 14, 2005

When that whole "Freedom Fries" thing came up...I was cringing. As if our french fries could even hold a bic lighter to pommes frites. There is absolutely no comparison and we should feel lucky that the French even allow us to call our pale, greasy imitation a "french" fry.

It's true...I drew a "moue" or seven while I was there. Particularly in Paris, where the tone is a bit higher. The coat check ladies at the Louvre were particularly offended by my smelly Barbour jacket that I wore everywhere. They thought I was a Brit. And everyone pleaded with me to please not speak French. That's how amazingly bad my French it is spoken very slowly with a thick South Carolina Lowcountry accent.

"ou est la toilette, y'all".

But I think I got points for at least trying to speak the language. I always loved David Sedaris' "Me Talk Pretty One Day"....because that was so me as well.

It is one thing to love France. Many people love France. But it is another thing entirely to love the French. I know my sister loves France...and she goes there quite often. I wish I could travel there as often. But I'm not sure she loves the French as I do.

Loving the French means submersing yourself in a set of priorities that are quite foreign to Anglo sensibilities. It means being violently passionate about certain things....and suffering from a dreadful ennui about others. It means caring deeply about human rights, tradition, food, wine, leisure time and sex, while at the same time having an abiding concern and devotion to Catholicism, family and privacy. As I do with any culture, I identified more with the country folk than with the Parisians. I just don't enjoy "putting on the dog" as we say, as much as other people. Paris is all about "putting on the dog".

I'm probably putting it poorly. I'm fairly certain that I don't actually "get it". But I've tried awfully hard to do so. I was probably as much of an ugly American as the next guy.

But I think I got points for not asking directions to the Bastille.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I couldn't make up my mind as to what to put in the Gullible's Travels gallery today. Did I want to do the psychic dog? Or maybe MoonFakers? There are just so many wacky things to choose from.

If you are wondering why this is important to's because I see an enormous amount of zeal flowing into things that aren't real. We have big problems. Big problems that are real. If we could channel the energy we spend on the things that aren't real into the things that are...I just wonder if maybe we could actually do something about things like global warming, wars, food safety, the environment, the rise of fundamentalist extremism, the awful political situation the US is nauseum.

These are taken from Robert L. Park's excellent article, The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, that appeared in the January 31st 2003 issue of The Chronical of Higher Education. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety. While most of the skeptical articles I refer to deal with science...the principles hold true for politics, commerce and day to day living. You will readily recognize many of these warning signs from advertising.

1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
"An attempt to bypass peer review by taking a new result directly to the media, and thence to the public, suggests that the work is unlikely to stand up to close examination by other scientists."

2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
The idea is that the establishment will presumably stop at nothing to suppress discoveries that might shift the balance of wealth and power in society. Often, the discoverer describes mainstream science as part of a larger conspiracy that includes industry and government."

3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
"All scientific measurements must contend with some level of background noise or statistical fluctuation. But if the signal-to-noise ratio cannot be improved, even in principle, the effect is probably not real and the work is not science."

4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
"If modern science has learned anything in the past century, it is to distrust anecdotal evidence. Because anecdotes have a very strong emotional impact, they serve to keep superstitious beliefs alive in an age of science."

5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
Ancient folk wisdom, rediscovered or repackaged, is unlikely to match the output of modern scientific laboratories."

6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
Scientific breakthroughs nowadays are almost always syntheses of the work of many scientists."

7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
"A new law of nature, invoked to explain some extraordinary result, must not conflict with what is already known. If we must change existing laws of nature or propose new laws to account for an observation, it is almost certainly wrong."

Also check out Robert L. Parks book, Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I picked up a big basket of South Carolina peaches in Newport the other week. The idea of the sweetness of my home state was too strong to resist. I mentioned something about the goats and the fella unloaded four crates of over-ripe peaches on me in addition to the basket I bought.

Well, the goats aren't going to see these. I'm making brandy.

Peek-a-boo Peach Brandy is made by layering sugar and peaches in a large crock or jar. You stir the mixture for the first seven days for about 3 minutes to release the fermenting gases. On the seventh day, add the juice of four lemons and a box of raisins. You wrap the jar in a paper bag and hide it in a cool dark place. Check in about 21 days and decant and bottle if you wish. It will result in a potent spirit by Thanksgiving at which you can "peek" at it and enjoy some. You can add some moonshine(or vodka) to make it even stronger and more potent. The left over fruit is really wonderful spooned over vanilla ice cream. By Christmas, it should have quite a kick to it.

I'm planning to do the same this summer with blackberries and elderberries. I haven't gotten much gardening in due to the spill I took during planting season chasing the damn goat.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Udder Denial

Udder Denial
Posted by: rosiewolf.
Lufu and Bolly would like to welcome you to their pen of Udder Denial. It is now weaning time so the boys will be camping out in the secure pen until they get over the milk DT's. They have actually handled it pretty well and only hollered for one night. They are eating well and haven't had any weaning shock. Maggie seems to completely forgotten they ever existed.

I don't know when I'll be able to let them out. The goslings have now joined them so there is plenty of company. The goslings will be there until they bond with that particular place as their homing place. Not the front yard. Not the neighbors. Not a half mile down the road.

I'm really happy to have all baby animals out of my living areas. After having the goslings inside for two weeks, then in the yard for four....the fluffy newness of babies gets old after a while. Around about the umpteenth time I hop in the jeep to herd them back to the homestead.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lil' Ol' Del Rio, which is literally at the bottom of the 300 foot cliff I live on top of, has made national news once again! The last time I remember seeing Del Rio get such attention was on the Discovery Channel's program, "When Snakes Attack"...or Bite...or something like that. Discovery Channel did a right nice bit on the Pentacostal Church Snakehandlers in Del Rio.

In case you hadn't heard, Del Rio has long been the site of the biggest cockfight in the United States. It's not exactly been a huge secret, that Cocke county and Newport were ground zero for all things cockfighting. The feed store where I get my dogfood each month, carries a full selection of game chicken accoutrement, feeds and items.

Which brings us to the BIG STORY.

What strikes me as interesting, but hardly surprising, is that nowhere is any county involvement mentioned. This was strictly a federal and state operation. Cocke County has only one, sainted, ACO to deal with the entire cockfighting, pit-bull-fighting and general neglectful state of animal welfare in the county. Animal welfare is just not a high priority to this county and it's a dangerous business to enforce.

According to J.J. Stambaugh's article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, "The Del Rio operation was "the largest and likely the oldest cockfighting pit in the country, having been in operation for more than 60 years," according to officials from the Humane Society of the United States."

Call me jaded, call me cynical, but I don't believe for one moment that anyone living in Cocke County, least of all the county officials, were unaware of a cockfighting "stadium" capable of seating 400 was sitting in their backyard for the past 60 years. So why didn't they do anything about it? I hope we get to find out which local and state officials were busted in the raid...cause I'm sure there will be a few.

I can think of a few reasons why nothing was done. Just north of here, in Greene County, they tried to enact a dog licensing law some years back that would require dogs show proof of rabies vaccination. Evidently, all of the county officials were treated to death threats at their homes. People feel that strongly about a 6 buck vaccine. It finally blew up and the result was a county animal shelter that does no adoptions. Animals go in, but they don't come out. All animals are euthanized. Can you spell "Draconian"?

I suspect the local officials failure to deal with the cockfighting problem, or the local paper's failure to report about it is based in fear and just plain cowardice. I'm sure there's a little graft and political backscratching involved somewhere with a liberal slice of not rocking the boat. Not sure just seems logical.

The thing is, I've actually grown to like the game chicken people since I moved here. It's a case of "Love the chicken people; hate the chickenfighting". The birds are breathtakingly beautiful and there is a high degree of skill that goes into their breeding. I just wish they wouldn't fight them and some other purpose could be found for them to keep these strains of birds going. The game chicken people honestly love their birds and I'm sure more than a few tears were shed by big rough grown men when 305 of these magnificent roosters were put down on site during the raid.

Do check out Stambaugh's's well worth the trouble of subbing to KnoxNews.

Maybe the embarrassment of all this will spur Cocke County to get poor Ennis, the County ACO, some help to do his job properly. Yeah, right...when monkeys fly out of my butt maybe.