Grayson, a Sportsman

Before Grayson and I met in our 60s, he’d lived an active life and brought many stories to our marriage.

Some people are hunters. Grayson was a sportsman. Grayson’s idea of fun was to get out in nature. If he bagged anything, he considered it a bonus. Whether hunting or fishing, he meticulously followed the rules. Added to that, he never shot birds unless they were in the air. He felt it unfair to shoot them before they were up. And he always aimed for a deer’s head rather than its heart. A head shot is difficult. While it prevents the meat from a gamey taste, it is also a quick kill. The deer doesn’t suffer.

He hunted with others, and during duck season there was one guy who kept bumming shells off of him. Ammunition can be expensive, so Grayson reloaded his used shells. How could he discourage the freeloader? Ah, an idea! He loaded some special shells.

“Hey, Grayson. You got some shells I can borrow?”

“Sure.”

The guy loaded his shotgun, fired at the next flock of ducks.

Confetti!

I don’t know if anyone laughed, but the bummer’s face must have turned red. He never bothered Grayson again.

 

The Corn Maze Romance

4-H sponsors a corn maze and pumpkin patch every October. When I first became aware of the corn maze, I wanted to walk it. Having never done it before, I felt shy and hoped to find someone to go with me. Should I ask my landlady? She’d probably say yes, but she had a habit of fizzling out before we’d get far. There was the guy, a widower, who was helping her out. He’d even come like a knight to the rescue to help me repair the siding on my mobile home that the wind had torn loose. I hadn’t known I even needed rescuing, but that was his way.

Thinking he might scorn my desire to go through a maze as silly and childish, I nevertheless asked him. “Grayson, would you like to accompany me?”

Without hesitation he agreed. And he agreed to our first rule. Always turn in the same direction. That way, we’d get the most out of the maze, and we wouldn’t get lost.

Much later, he told me he found me interesting, and by the second year, we were going together. So when we entered the corn maze, he added a new rule. Never skip a cul de sac. In each one, a hug and a kiss.

The third year, with the two rules intact, we visited the maze as a married couple. It had become our tradition, and we continued with but one skip.

In 2008, a horrendous year for so many, with the tanking economy, the raging storms, the multi-state wildfires and weeks of smoky air, and my Grayson in the hospital for three months with e-coli, no one had a chance to use the corn maze. A tornado had flattened it.

We resumed our walks through the maze until Grayson passed in 2018. Of all the traditions we experienced, that is the one that stays with me as a celebration of our love and sharing.

Dreams of Grayson

Grayson's casket, 6-1-2018_0223

For months Hubby suffered the worst of agonies, pain so intense I wondered how he could possible take it and remain sane. Eventually he demanded release. From dialysis, from insulin, from any treatments to prolong his life and suffering. He blew me a kiss and told everyone, “The wife gets it all.”

And I didn’t learn until later that he, a Protestant, took confession from a Catholic priest at the hospital. I realize he was saying, “I’ve served my time in hell; now I’m knocking on heaven’s door.”

Home hospice is a wonderful service. Ministered to by loving nurses, by wonderful relatives, and me, Grayson declined rapidly, from joking on his first day home, to passing over a week later.

I dreamed I was letting him go, and that day is the day he left us. The Neptune Society came, placed him in a casket, draped it with a flag in honor of his military service, then folded the flag and gave it to me.

He was my buddy, my best friend, and I missed him terribly and wondered what it was like for him on the other side. Weeks later I had a dream that showed his application to heaven had been accepted. He was astonishingly beautiful. Youthful, healthy, joyful, and busy. He was carrying a tray of pastries and giving me more than I could eat.

I’m a natural skeptic. Was the dream wishful thinking? Whether or not, I cherished it and wanted to believe he is in a beautiful place in every way.

Months later I read a list in online Readers Digest of those who’d had near-death experiences and wrote books about it. In the site Trendingly, I read of the neurologist who had died and came back, with evidence that his experience of the afterlife was real.

That helped me believe my dreams of Grayson. In the next one, I was resting in the arms of my hubby. It was a protective embrace, nonsexual but loving. And he was letting me know that he was releasing me from my wedding vows, just as I had released him. “Til death do us part.” The marriage had ended. Nevertheless love never dies. His protection and love would be with me, as if from a guardian angel.

So now I accept that my dreams of Grayson are true. I’m grateful he is thriving. And I feel a subtle sense of protection and love. It gives me a peace I’d been lacking. Perhaps I will always miss my buddy. Since his passing, I am more easily moved to tears, not only for myself but out of compassion for others who suffer. And not a day goes by but I don’t think of him and cherish his memory. Just as when he was here in this life, I still enjoy talking about him. My buddy, my hubby, my love.

Dreams, More than Entertainment

In the window above my kitchen sink hangs a pretty sign my hubby gave me. It says, “May all your dreams come true.” Always I would change that message in my mind to read, “May all your GOOD dreams come true.”

Lately though, I realize all dreams are good, and most represent what is happening now. It is the rare dream that is prophetic. I remember a couple over my lifetime. I remember more dreams about the past, more common than the prophetic. Both types are interesting and informative. Because we live in the present, however, most dreams tell you what is going on with you now.

Dreams have their own logic and symbolism. Most people may dismiss them as meaningless entertainment, but if you interpret the dream’s language, you discover its importance.

Dreams are personal. While one size does not fit all, certain symbols seem universal. For example, a car may represent your body. Are you driving the car, or is someone else driving it? That is, are you in control of your life or is someone else in control of it?

It’s not the best idea to have someone interpret your dream for you. They might tell you, for example, that dreams of flying represent death. Maybe to them, but not to you. Meanings of symbols differ according to culture or personal experience. You can accept help from an interpreter, but the dream message is for you and not them. It’s up to you to use your own understanding of the symbolism as it pertains to your life. A dream might tell you that your male and female hormones are properly balanced. It may tell you where you are in your monthly sexual cycle. It might tell you when your allergies are bothering you. For example, if anyone in my dream is smoking, it’s telling me I’m having problems with air pollution.

Have you ever dreamed about being late to class or a job or of losing your way? Nightmares are usually the release valve on what would otherwise become a pressure cooker of stress. If a nightmare stirs your emotions, it might be a warning that something needs to change. A job, a relationship, a medical situation.

Dreams are progress reports, guidance and preparations, warnings, and comforts. They cover everything about you. Your potential, your growth, your decline, and what lies beyond. Pay heed.

 

A Changing Planet is Taking us with it.

There’s no escaping human-caused climate change. Last summer’s drought, warm nights, and three months of toxic smoke stressed my trees. The persimmons, which ordinarily more than filled my hands, were the size of walnuts. My apricot tree has two developing fruit, and the leaves are reluctant to appear. I don’t mind the unusual amount of rain, since it follows a lengthy drought. It replenishes the aquifer, and snow in the mountains adds to the pack that normally sees us through summer and fall.

That said, with the rising ocean levels, the increasingly violent storms, the floods, the fires, the destruction of forests and wildlife habitats, the polluting of the ocean, the increasing decline or extinction of species, we cannot help but see the change that’s upon us. I don’t relish hotter summers that provide little if any relief.

With the window of time that’s left for us to lessen the impact of the change, about 10 years, what can we do to make sure earth will be habitable?

It turns out, we can do a lot, if we all work together. We have to jettison mind sets that divide people, that exclude those we think are somehow inferior or dangerous. Instead, we must realize we need everyone who can help. Regardless of job description, economic status, race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, or disabilities, everyone has value. Right now we have the knowledge, the creativeness, the passion, the wherewithal within all these groups to ease our way to a better future for all.

When leaders won’t lead, or they mislead through climate-change denial, there are always the grass roots to show the way. There are the green jobs, sustainables, family planning, education, and over 40 years of study by climate scientists. When you want to know how to do something, you ask the expert.

Many are already busy working to improve our futures. In the best case scenario, I have 20 years of life ahead of me. Young people may have 80 years or more, providing they live in a climate-friendly earth.
We each can do something, even if it seems insignificant. A penny in a dollar doesn’t seem important, but without the pennies, a dollar cannot exist.

Our Vote: Our Voice

Thousands of us tried to unregister as voters when Pence and Kobach’s Voter Fraud panel panicked us by asking the states for information on voters. This result played right into Republican hands, who have worked hard over the years to disenfranchise voters, through gerrymandering and through strict voter ID laws.

Why did we panic and try to throw away our voting rights? Was it through the Trump era fear and hate mongering, the threats on private citizens, the constant lies?

What have we to lose by voting? The states have refused to hand over our voter records to the panel, aware the federal government cannot legally force compliance. Even so, the records are already available. So how does this threaten us voters? Should we fear arrest? Why? We’ve done nothing wrong by voting. We can state that with assurance. It’s been proven that voter fraud is as prevalent as a flock of geese reciting the Gettysburg Address. It exists at less than 0%. So, is the panel’s objective to pander to Trump’s ego and somehow “prove” that Hillary Clinton’s popular win by 3 million is fake? Or does it have the deeper purpose—to further disenfranchise citizens?

If the panel examined the millions of voter records, they would need to think up some reason to remove people’s names from those rolls. The easiest way is to create panic. Frighten us away from the polls.

My response to this sham panel is: Don’t be fooled. Don’t be manipulated by intimidation.

It is logical to fear an administration that chips away at our civil rights and liberties, even as it rules through lies, hate, bigotry, and fear. But we have the vote. It is our right. And not only our right. It is our responsibility.

This hateful administration seeks to take away our voice, our vote, because it fears us. The vote is our most powerful tool, and it was hard won. We must act with courage to protect and reinstate our liberties and protections. We must not despair and surrender to our fears. Let our fear for our future and the future of our loved ones drive our courage to use this most precious tool. Our voice, our vote.

Understand, we are not alone. We are part of a tremendous force for good. Let our voice be heard through the ballot. And when we look back, we can be proud we acted with courage.

 

 

Why visit Bayliss?

When you enter Bayliss, population 402, you’ll see no sign announcing a town. No speed zones, no cluster of shops, no factories. Amid the farms and private homes, only one building stands out. The Bayliss library. It’s stood along the road for a century, and this Saturday, June 24, 2017, it is surrounded by a huge outdoor crowd, there to celebrate.

Behind the library are various speakers, including politicians from both major parties. There are major and minor librarians. There are the Chico Area Orchestra in red shirts and black pants, and a Mennonite choir.

Along one side of the building you can buy home-made ice cream, berry pies, hotdogs, and boxes of library books.

On the other side of the library, under sun shades and on a dense lawn backed by a high hedge of trumpet vine, you can find Author Row, and me. Predicted temperature for that day is 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Situated as we are on the lawn, however, we are blessed by natural evaporative cooling. I sit there with my husband at our table and feel a cool breeze, mixed with an occasional warm breath. That means the temperature is in the upper nineties. Comfortable. Merciful.

There’s a lot of activity on the other side of the library as families examine books and eat goodies.

On our side, much less activity visits Author Row. I listen to a plane either dusting crops or planting. The hedge is too high to see it. Not far away, a rooster crows. A sparrow flies worms or insects to its nest in a tree. A hummingbird checks out the red geraniums and yellow chrysanthemums beside the library steps. The speakers in back are too far away to hear, but the excellent band plays catchy tunes from the Big Band Era.

There is an old-fashioned picnic feel among these outdoor activities. I take a few moments to venture inside the library where a table takes up a big part of the interior and displays three cakes in patriotic frosting for the centennial. The cake is free for the eating. And what I take for a standard size dictionary is really a box of bookworms, gummy candy, also free.

With all the library books for sale, I don’t expect to sell anything. I give out bookmarks that show my book covers and how to reach me. I’ve laid a braid from when I had long hair near a novella, the braid I used in its cover. I prop up a drawing of a dragon I used in a science fantasy book cover. So the remarks come.

“Are you the author of all these books?’

My name tag says I am.

‘Is this your hair?”

Yep.

“Oh, I like dragons.”

Me, too.

“I love nature. I have this preying mantis egg case. Do you know when they hatch?”

Summer.

Good conversations. Promises. No sales. Connections with other writers. And a visit to a century-old rural library.

The Climate March

Friday’s email told me a climate march would take place in Chico the next day. On such short notice, I wondered if many people would turn out. I arrived at the fish fountain in front of the municipal building on time, and saw three people, working on signs.

“Is this the right place? Are we having a march today? Where are the thousands of people?”

They were expecting their leader from 350 Chico, a local climate watch organization that had planned the march.

Gradually people showed up, mostly college aged, but also an older woman in a walker from a weekly peace vigil down the street, a man in a wheelchair, a homeless woman, and a college professor. The grand entry of a family of five, all bearing signs, was a real spirit lifter–not that spirits were low. We had plenty of signs, and eventually we numbered 30, not enough to march. Instead we lined both sides of the street where we bobbed signs and waved at passing vehicles.

The father of the family had promised his bathing suit clad kids a run in the plaza’s fountain afterwards. Meanwhile the daughter, Genevieve, who appeared to be eight years old, threw herself into leaping and dancing and yelling slogans and lectures nonstop. Traffic or none. It was fun watching her, so beautiful and athletic.

As drivers waved, gave us thumbs up, or honked, we answered with whoops. Woo-hoo! About 35% responded positively to us. Only three were negative. One guy farted black smoke out of his pickup’s tailpipe. Another gave a thumbs down. The third yelled “fuck you” with a dirty gesture. At that, words flew out of my mouth, “Jesus loves you!” Which earned me a surprised look from another sign bearer.

Did the insulter hear me? Possibly.

I thought about Trump who professes to be a Christian but acts like the devil. But then I thought, this rude guy who drove by is loved. And it’s out of love for our planet, ourselves, and our future generations that we are demonstrating…to save all life, and yes, even the lives of those who resist us. Our children and our children’s children want to live. Shouldn’t we give them that chance? We must.

Despair is no excuse for inactivity. The remedy for despair is to act. As long as there remains a shred of democracy, we can act peacefully–through the vote, through petitions, through contacting our representatives in the government, through writing articles, and even through prayer. Should our democracy completely disappear, where checks and balances no longer exist, where votes, petitions, and other peaceful protests are no longer allowed and our voices are silenced, only then would our protests turn violent.

The Earth Day March

Across the world, people marched to celebrate Earth Day and to call attention to our planet’s needs and the role of science in our lives. Many marched in rain or snow.

The weather in California was balmy. Neither too hot nor too cold. We met on the university campus at what was called the free speech area in the 1960s. Today it goes by a more neutral name. Tables of exhibits adorned the area, illustrating a variety of topics, from brewing to solar ovens to natural history to…well, you name it. Even so, the display of topics could barely touch how much we depend on science and a healthy planet for our daily needs. A few short speeches prepared us, with the mayor reminding us that Republicans weren’t originally against science, having introduced among such things as the Environmental Protection Agency.

We took up our signs and according to instructions, marched on the right-hand sidewalks, giving respect to traffic lights. Some drivers passed, tooting their approval. One guy stopped at the red light and played his horn to the tune of Tequila. I estimate about 500 of us took to the sidewalks with our signs, so it took us about an hour to march, which increased our public exposure. Some wore costumes, the like of which I’ve never seen. One was a balloon dinosaur with a marcher inside. Another was an eight-foot tall mother earth figure. I expect the person inside must have held her up with a stake. My favorite was a guy in medieval chain mail with a metal helmet. His sign said we must not go back to the dark ages.

The signs were clever. The spirit was cheery. The intent was serious. Men, women, and children–and a few dogs took part. A perfect day for a march and with hope that we can make a difference.

Celebrating Presidents and Black History

George Washington could have been a dictator. Instead he chose to be president and to serve a limited term. Thus he set the model for all presidents who followed him, lending a sacredness to the to…

Source: Celebrating Presidents and Black History

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