Monday, June 29, 2015

A Tail of a Father

CoopNo, I didn’t spell that wrong.  I did it deliberately.  This is my way of giving a small tribute to my little daddy dog, Cooper.
Cooper knew from the beginning that the lovely little Daisy was to be his and he waited.  Sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much.  But the day came and as my granddaughters like to say, “they got married.”
As solicitous as Cooper had been over Daisy for 2 long years as he waited, he became almost singularly focused on her for those 2 months she carried little lives inside of her.  He worried with me on the day of their arrival and he was carefully vigilant after the birth of Ozzie and Jakey without intruding.  He was watchful from a distance and once  again,  patient.
As good a little mother as Daisy was – Cooper’s skill at being a dad is amazing.  As she retreated more and more into the background of their lives (only presenting when justice needs to be administered),  Cooper stepped to the front and became something quite unexpected – something pretty amazing, actually.
He played with them, rolling and tumbling, bear fighting and taught them their rooster crows.  When Ozzie left, Cooper grieved and then joyously welcomed him back a year later.  There was no animosity in introducing another male dog into the mix – I think he knew that Ozzie was his and where he wanted him to be.
Jakey and Ozzie just turned 3 a few days ago but every night when the house settles and they are quiet and at peace, Cooper spends time with each of them and Daisy.  He cleans their eyes, and their ears and muzzles and readies them for bed.
He also shares his food with Jakey since Jakey never thinks he has enough to eat.   As Cooper is eating, he places bits of his own food on the floor around his dish for Jakey to have.  He will even allow Jakey to come over and just eat out of the bowl with him.
And, he still plays with them and rarely are there moments of strife between them.  Pretty remarkable when you have 3 boys in the house.  Yes, it is true he has also taught them a few of his more unattractive qualities such as the shrieking freakout when we bring Betty the Thunder Dog inside.  But, isn’t that what a good dad does?  Plays, nurtures, provides, protects,  and every now and then gives them a little bit of a devil to make them interesting?
There are a lot of  human dads out there that could take a lesson or two from my little brown Cooper rabbit.  For him, it all about someone else, particularly “the boys” HIS boys. 
I love that little dog that went more than a mile in helping to heal the huge hole in my heart so many years ago.  My Coop Doggie Dog who kissed me hello and has never stopped.

I cooped the bucketi hide

Friday, June 26, 2015

Oilfield Trash–Not Easily Offended

I've tried to remain silent....I really have. But, it occurs to me that silent apathy is the most dangerous and destructive force on earth. And, I've lived a long time and I really feel like I have just as much right to express my opinion as anyone else. In fact, I think I have as much right to be offended as anyone else. And yet, I am usually able to smash down my offended self with my logic and sense of humor. I grew up Oilfield Trash. Was that hurtful? Sometimes. Was I damaged for life? No. Was I offended? No, because I was well aware that my daddy worked like a dog for us and while some might hang that title on us - I knew we were not. Was I able to laugh about it - then and now? Absolutely.
But, some are not. Some view symbols, songs, taglines, and flags as dangerous things because of the message they convey. Let's face it people, symbols, songs, and flags are not dangerous in and of themselves. Those things cannot make anyone do what their heart will not allow. But in the hands of the wrong person, anything can be a tool of destruction. I could kill someone with a Q-tip if I wanted to badly enough. Does that make the Q-tip evil? Should ears go uncleaned for the rest of time because I killed with one? Should Wal-mart, eBay and Amazon stop selling them because someone MIGHT decide to follow in my cotton killing rage?
The issue is not one of objects or intangible messages, the issue is one of heart.
For at least 4 decades of my life, I have watched our country march forward to a better collective mindset. We have, for the most part, been scrupulous in our desire to foster a world of tolerance, love, and equality. And progress we have. I can remember riding the bus from Pampa, TX to Jacksonville, AR as a young girl and watching black people get on the bus with their paper bags full of belongings and automatically walk to the back of the bus. That is no longer the case as everyone today has the right to be, live and sit where they choose. We have not only elected but re-elected a black President and yet...since that moment...racism, intolerance, hatred and venom have been spewing harder and faster than ever.
We are now teaching children who had NO knowledge of racism exactly what it looks like. We are marching backward into a very dangerous past.
You can spout the symbolism all you want and if you delve into things deeply enough you can find plenty of history to shore up your argument on either side of the dividing line. But the bottom line here is that it is impossible to find anything these days that doesn't offend someone. And those who are most offended are usually the ones who have done little to make a stand about anything.
I find it fascinating that you seldom see conservative, Christian, white people rioting, looting and burning down their own cities. Why is this? Probably because they are all too damn busy working, trying to raise good sons and daughters, pay their taxes, and live inside the confines of the law. In short....we don't have time to be offended - we are busy. A lot of the burden of society falls on the working class and one has to wonder what would happen if Atlas did indeed shrug.
If everyone who provides the lifeline of America simply said - "No, I'm tired. I'm going to sit at home and let someone else take care of me." What if they became offended about the disrespect of the American flag and the fact they have to watch someone stomp on it and burn it? What if they became offended because their children could not wear a t-shirt to school with a religious message on it, while someone else can wear one supporting a drug using rock band? What if they became offended because their next door neighbors were flying the flag of a rival football team? What if they became offended because their pastors were being forced to water down their messages for fear of reprisal? What if....what if?
When did someone else's right to be offended become more important than my right NOT to be?
This is a dangerous mindset and a slippery slope - for where do we draw the line? How much bending over must we do before it all breaks apart? The very people who are against flags, and guns, and soldiers will be the first to position themselves directly behind those same things when danger rears its head. The sheep know to fear the sheepdog but when the wolf enters the pasture, the sheep know the sheepdog is their only hope.
The message of peace, love, tolerance and equality is a great one, but it is also one that cannot be a one sided issue. We can love our enemies with everything we have and everything we are, but if they still hate us it cannot go further. And let us not forget that while we might be okay with our enemies hating us it does not stop there. They want to destroy us, our way of life, our faith, our families...everything about us must be stopped and stamped out. There will be no happy ending for the offended until that which offends them is gone and unfortunately the line in the sand keeps getting redrawn. Everyday their list of offensives grows. Today it is a flag, a song, or a school team name or mascot. Tomorrow, it could very well be a town, a school, a church, the elderly, babies (oh wait - those are all starting to look suspect to the easily offended.)
In closing, I would like to say that I am personally offended by skinny people with rocking bodies, exceedingly good looking girls in bikinis, people with a lot of education and little common sense, and people with a lot of money. Y'all try and knock that off before I decide to make you the subject of my next blog post.
Peace My Friends.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Soooo…Just How Connected Are You?


I confess that I sometimes wonder what we did before the birth of the cell phone and then I also wonder what in the helicopter I'm thinking.

There is nothing on earth more frustrating, no...demeaning....than being with another individual who is constantly checking their phone. Each time that little **ding** sounds the subtle message is sent to YOU that you are just nowhere near as important as whoever is on the other side of that alert. You might be in mid-conversation and suddenly you are put on pause. I don't know about you, but at my age if you pause me very long you are going to have to allow me to rewind and play from the beginning. Of course, there is the distinct possibility that I could merely be jealous because no one wants to talk to me.  Maybe….doubtful….but maybe.

I'm sure we've all witnessed the table at the restaurant where every person has their phone in their hands, either surfing the web or texting (usually to each other.) I really find it awfully sad they are missing out on looking into each other's eyes and speaking....communicating. Just as I was once afraid children would soon be born with wheels instead of feet because they refused to walk anywhere; I am now fearful that they will born without the ability to talk - instead possessing overly large hands with nimble little thumbs.

The typist in me still believes thumbs are built for a spacebar not a teeny little keyboard where autocorrect likes to anticipate what you want to say. We've all seen those major fails where the message sent in no way conveys the sender's intent. Some of them are hilarious and quite a lot of them are frankly, very embarrassing. My phone insists on correcting love to live which means the message "I love for her to call" becomes "I live for her to call." Suddenly, I sound desperate, needy, and pathetic.

I imagine I am not the only person who has had to move out of the way of a "zombie" walking with head down and phone clenched in their hot little hands. They are completely unaware there is a whole big world spinning around them with living breathing people in it. They are connected....too connected to the wrong things.

But, the real reason behind this particular post is my grocery store experience today. I ran in for milk, rice cereal for the dogs, and hot dog buns. A quick trip at best meaning I should return before the hub-a-lump finished his little after babysitting nap.

A quick trip was not in my future, however. Upon entering the store, I observed a slender young woman in a much too thin dress for no slip, strolling the aisles aimlessly. Upon closer observation, I saw she was glued to her cell phone. Now the store was in the throes of after work hours busy-ness so people were on a mission to shop and get home. Every aisle I tried to travel, there she was, wandering around, putting an item here and there in her cart..........and talking.........endlessly talking.

Even though I didn't need it and certainly can't afford it, I decided to check out the meat counter and lo and behold there she was, casually strolling, with her cart parked in the way, and she was running her fingers across the tops of the meat packages as if caressing them. I gave up on meat.

Of course, every trip to the store means you always find things that weren't on your list but you know you need them so now my shopping trip had grown to roughly 10 items. I should have finished with the three I went for because by the time I got to checkout, there she was, in front of me in line........still talking.

Now this woman had a child in her cart that she had not given 5 seconds worth of attention to the whole time I was in the store. He was a cute little thing, redheaded, freckles, and friendly - very friendly. Or, desperate for someone to talk to. He hollered "HI!" at me which caused her to glance in my direction. As she scanned my cart and observed my age she merely continued to talk. She could have asked if I wanted to go ahead of her, but she didn't.....she. just. kept. talking.

She paused her conversation long enough to shout across the store at the assistant manager "Hey, I'm mad at you! You didn't speak to me yesterday at the water park!" Really? What are the chances she was "on a call" then as well?  Maybe the beginning of the call she was on today.  That would not surprise me at all.  The checker tried to engage her in conversations regarding a sale item, method of payment and whether or not she was playing "Clue" and she just waved her hand in the woman's face and pointed to her phone.

When she was finished checking out she went ambling out of Harps....still talking. I was hot on her heels. I loaded my items in the car, put my cart in the rack and proceeded to leave the parking lot as she loaded her items one handed into her vehicle....talking. She may still be there for all I know because she obviously has no self awareness of either her own rude behavior or time.

Being able to reach out and touch someone is a great feeling. Hopefully, we don't lose the ability to REACH OUT & TOUCH a real and personal way. By all means, stay connected. But, let's connect with faces, eyes, smiles, handshakes, hugs and speaking to each other face to face as much as we possibly can. Let us try to teach our children physical interaction with other human beings - they will be better for it.

I have to phone tells me it is time to take my medicine.

Peace Out!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Small Town Girl

Just a small town girl.  But there the similarities between the song and my experience part ways.  I did not live in a lonely world – I lived in a world of friends who became family.
A little West Texas town with no traffic light, an old time drug store, a handful of cafes and coffee shops and a few mom and pop businesses – that was and is home for me.  While the town has transformed a bit with the addition of one caution light in the middle of town and the demise of the old family drug store, there are new cafes and coffee shops which have been born.  But the people….the people of my youth….those are the same.
It is hard for people who never had the Stinnett Rattler experience to understand fully just what it means to those of us who lived it and loved it.
It was a life of tradition and pride.  It took dedicated people who wanted that to continue so that decades of kids would know what it meant to be a “Rattler.”  It is a testament to their dedication to the preservation of a heritage that recently in a room of over 200 people almost everyone raised their hands at the question “who took typing from Mrs. D?”  The only people who couldn’t claim that honor were spouses of ex-students.  Imagine what that is like to know that the teacher who taught your parents typing, taught you and your children and maybe even your grandchildren.
It was a life of safety.  We were blessed with a lawman who loved the kids of his town and took those extra steps to redirect their path when they stumbled and who also gave them a safe place to hang out and be kids.  His goal in life was not to punish us for trouble we caused or stepped into – it was to prevent us from ever going there in the first place.  But if we did, he brought us back with wisdom and love.  My hometown was a place that any adult had the right AND the responsibility to jerk a knot in our tail when we were out of line.  I never had one moment when I was afraid or felt in danger.
It is true that it was also a life of many secrets behind closed doors.  It was truly the definition of that old TV tagline “there are a million stories in the naked city.”  However, the only laundry aired in public was of a cloth nature.  We just didn’t talk about our problems or issues.  Sometimes I think that might have been the best lesson of all to learn.  In not dragging our stuff around for all to see, we learned to handle things, make decisions and most of all to be resilient, resourceful, and wise.  Some of us learned hard lessons and from the ashes of bad experiences most of us built better lives.
Once, someone told me they had always thought I had a “charmed” life.  It made me laugh because it was anything but charmed.  But, for whatever might be clouding the day for me I always could escape into the streets of Stinnett and the halls of Stinnett High where I forgot whatever it was that needed forgetting.  It was this place that taught me laughter would serve me better than tears and I try to reward that teaching by giving back laughter and happiness wherever I am and especially if I go “home.”
It hurts me to see buildings falling down, lots overgrown, landmarks gone and replaced.  Of course it does because in my dreams I can still walk those streets and see what I saw then as clear as day.  It even hurts a bit to know that the Rattler traditions and heritage have been replaced by a great Comanche nation who are building their own history and memories.  And good for them!  But, I know that the heart of my small town still beats inside the chests of the many who chose to stay and make it their home.  I know this because when I listen to their stories they are much the same as mine.  There is a commonality in us all which will keep us connected until the last Rattler draws their last breath.
I know it still is MY town because if I go back I see the heart of home.  The people who buy your lunch without you knowing, the people who open their homes when it might be more peaceful for them not to do so, the people who wrap you up in bone crushing hugs and tell you how happy they are that you are home – and they mean it.  I know it in the words of our school song that we all remember and sing with a catch in our throats and tears in our eyes.
So, yes, I am a small town girl.  Born in a small town and raised in another one.  I’m glad that I come from the people I come from and I’m proud of the place that taught me to be the person I am.  I am grateful for all the people in my life who love me for ME and who find me a person worth knowing.  I am learning to lean on that knowledge and know my own truth.  I am enough, I am valued, I am worthy………..I am a Rattler….and I am proud.