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.