Sunday, August 11, 2019

Coffee With A View: "Heil Jesus"

I was going to write something a little more trivial and light this weekend...something about "Rules of the Road"...(drink coffee)..."Chew What You Bit Off"...(drink more coffee)..."Garden-Variety Weeds"...(don't ask)..."There are bats (no, wait...wasps) in the belfry"...

But my weekend took an interesting turn, not just because I got on a cleaning spree (it was cleaning weekend...my bedroom never looked better, LOL)...but because what I was watching and listening to as I was cleaning my very own house rang true...so loudly that I couldn't ignore the message that my soul's gut just couldn't ignore.

As I was cleaning, I was catching up on a series that I love: Gotham. It's the pre-Batman stage-set, and I got through the last season's finale, where Batman "begins". So of course, I had to watch Batman (1989) and I did. My own time clock is all screwed up this weekend, anyway, so I started watching "Batman Returns", but my Internet was doing screwy things, so I perused Netflix, and a docu-series caught my eye:

The Family.

So at about midnight, I started watching this series, and...to tell the truth, couldn't stop watching it. Finally, at about three in the morning, I had fallen asleep, but did resume watching the series with my Sunday morning coffee (and continued house-cleaning...)

Here are my thoughts:
Yes, I was born into this world as (quite honestly-speaking) a Native American half-breed. I was adopted and raised in a white, Mormon (LDS) household in the good ol' town of Riverton, WY.. The opportunities I had to excel in music and writing would have never been realized had I not been adopted into a family who could afford to give me the kind of love, support and dedication it took for me to excel as I did throughout my formative years and more...grade school, Jr High, High School. I will be forever grateful to my adopted family, as they made it a priority to keep in touch with my Native family. They knew my heritage was very important, and they respected it. Because of this, I can be proud to say that I AM a "half breed"...yet, the negative connotation for those on both sides of the Native-White controversy remains.

Turmoil does lie within me today; I've been here before. When I left the LDS church, I went from the frying pan into the fire of Evangelical Christianity. I even wrote a book about it; I did a book/singing tour. I was overwhelmed with people asking me many questions about what it was like being in a "religious cult." I did radio interviews, wrote for Christian publications...told everyone that I was "born again"and "found Jesus"...

All it took...was time. And here are my thoughts:

I don't care about cabals, religion or cults. I care about my family, my community. I care about First and Second Constitutional Amendment rights. I care about the separation of Church and State. About what really makes "America great". Free speech. Free press...to address grievances. Freedom of religion, to believe what you will...whether it's in God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Krishna...or little space men that came down to build the pyramids. I might have been born into the Northern Arapaho tribe...but I'm also proud of my Welsh immigrant heritage. I believe in the US Constitution (we actually have one, yes), and what it had, does and said it promised.

Those promises have been broken.

So what now? Here comes US Christianity, promising prosperity, justice and explanations done to [what they called] "heathens"..."filth"...

Still, no explanations.

Here comes Christianity, saying they're all about love, justice, peace, mercy and love. And there is still no justice, peace, nor love. Epic fail, without explanations. And just what is the "evil" that is defined here? You expect me to believe in some "Jesus Christ" that makes such awesome promises...but doesn't ever deliver? How does that "save" ANYone?

I've been saturated in Christianity all my life...on so many fronts, for so many years. I've seen the good and bad. I've seen the hurt and pain. I've seen the rich and poor, the joy and the angst. And now I come to realize that the MEN who have risen to power with a "Jesus" I have never known, nor would ever support...have been knowingly and secretly ushered in. And not only that...TAX dollars are spent spreading their "Word".

It makes me want to puke. And I haven't felt this way since leaving the LDS Church. Think about that, those of you who thought Mormonism was a cult. So many Christians point the finger at the LDS church, saying they're not "real Christians"...yet, so many Christians are not real Christians!

Where is the love? Where is the faith? Where is the hope? Where is the justice for victims? Two thousand years, and we still haven't figured it out.

I recently posted on a good friend's Facebook wall that, if you vote for Trump, and you claim to be a "Christian"...you're a hypocrite. Yes, you are, and you know it! Given my long-life history...because the Jesus (I thought I knew) would never condone imprisonment of children, Jesus would never backbite and call good evil and evil good. The Jesus I know even spoke against such! Jesus would never condone the building of a "wall". The Jesus I thought I knew would never justify killings or abuse of any kind. The Jesus I know would never condone anything less than "love God, love your neighbor, love your enemies."  Jesus would never condone what Trump is doing, and everyone knows it!

But, oh...who cares? We've become so desensitized, NO one cares, anymore. We just care about what we're told...what's on our phones, on TV, on social media...whatever is "out there".

I don't know who your "Jesus" is, but...Trump's "Jesus" certainly isn't mine. Gift of the silver tongue or not, he certainly has his way with things...because the masses give him the power to do so. And that's on us, as "We the People". We voted him in. Just as We the People voted Obama in...and every President in our lifetimes.

But it's not about the Presidency, and I hope that "We The People" can get that. We don't have to agree on everything, but...can we at LEAST agree that we don't want World War III happening any time soon? That we don't want a Hitler-like figurehead controlling our thoughts, our lives, our every move?

Wyoming. One of the last of the "frontier"states, one of the most sparsely populated US states, only second to Alaska.

What do I want out of life?

I want to roam the prairie. I want to watch the stars in the big sky. I want to watch my garden grow, my corn get past my own shoulders...I want to come home from a good day at work and say, "Hey, I had a good day." I want to help my neighbor, my friend, my co-worker. I want to give peace and love and hope, wherever I can.

But I can't do ANY of this if the leaders of the United States of America will not...and use "Jesus" as a cloak and device for the ignorant...for someone's agenda.

In hindsight...I wish Batman could swoosh down and save the city...

This is Coffee Pong. Because good coffee deserves some balls.

(Hey, ya got that out there, Big Brother? I just put garlic powder on my asparagus spears...)

Say it. I welcome your comments.

Carol Harper

South Pass on a sunny day...

Thunderstorm out of Rock Springs, Wy

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Lights & Sirens: Pull the F!@#% over!


So a certain citizen of Fremont County has been frequently calling the ambulance station, complaining about the [ambulance] sirens. He has called several times...

Here are MY thoughts:about EMS lights and sirens:

1) Lights and sirens serve a GREAT purpose. It means, "PULL OVER"; there's an EMERGENCY, and our EMS Providers need to get through.
EMS=Emergency Medical Services.
So..just do it. PULL OVER, let them through! They may be going TO an emergency situation, or an accident where many providers and agencies might be involved...OR, they might have a patient actually in the ambulance...and they need to get to the hospital fast.
It's not for you to debate in your head...
Pull over.

2) There are many drivers out there who may be hard of hearing, or...totally and completely oblivious to their surroundings (or...for some ridiculous reason, are not either...and think it's okay to flip off and impede our EMS Providers while they are desperately trying to get to their destinations. NOT cool.)

When you call 911 and want emergency services...what obstacles do YOU want in the way of your Paramedics/EMTs? You can thank the asshole who refuses to pull over...because, seconds count. Pull over...and save the "finger" for those who deserve it. Maybe it's a deleted Facebook friend, or an ex-spouse/boy/girlfriend, or whatever, but...I don't care. It's sure not our EMS Providers, nor those who serve our County and communities...so save your crass.

3) Lights and sirens are NOT the problem. So what are the problems? Let's think about this. If there were no crime or violence...no drug/alcohol abuse...no drunk driving, no DUIs...no domestic violence...no health problems (heart attacks, stroke, diabetic comas, etc.)...no one leaving their children and pets in hot cars...no folks ignoring safety practices, in all arenas...then maybe, just MAYBE not only our EMS Providers, but our fire fighters and LEOs would be sitting around, twiddling their thumbs.

But they're not...and this isn't Mayberry. So let's think about what the real problems are in our society and communities, and quit fooling ourselves as far as pinning the blame on our local agencies...fire, police, EMS, highway patrol, state troopers...everyone who busts their asses, every day because, well...

It's their job. And they're so very overworked and so very underpaid. But you know what?

They're there for you.

So quit complaining about the"lights and sirens" and do what many more do:

Maybe say a short prayer for the people involved in the accident...in the crime, the attack, the domestic violence, the shooting, the stabbing, the stroke, the heart attack, the suicide attempt, the poisoning, the drowning, the hemorrhage, the fall, the infection, etc. etc. etc. etc. (believe me, I read them all, every day)...and be grateful that there are those out there, at all hours of the day and night, ready to serve your community.

Because of 911...

THAT'S WHY THE LIGHTS AND SIRENS!!!






Sunday, July 21, 2019

Common Grounds: Relevance

For literally billions of people in the world, coffee is how we start the day. The perfect alarm clock...our morning ritual, our aromatherapy...our "daily mug" (um er, "bread"). There is nothing like that first sip in the morning. Coffee lovers, tell me you don't just love getting that mug up to your lips, close your eyes and go: "Ahhhhh...!" And the day can begin.

The hot summer days call for iced coffee. It's not just a perfect, refreshing "pick-me-up", but so easy to make! Um, ice and coffee...there you go, enjoy! I love making it Vietnamese-style...an espresso-strength brew, poured over and slowly dripping over ice and sweetened condensed milk. Ahhhhh!

So that's a cone drip (first three photos). Glass with ice and sweetened condensed milk. Pour the coffee over the ice. Stir. Enjoy! (Yes, that's a chopstick. LOL)

Hot debates in the media, in politics, in our communities are always going on. My own Facebook timeline has had its share through the years, as well as on Amador Community News (ACN). It's ok...we all have our opinions on current issues. In scrolling through the thousands of posts, my question has always been:

Relevance. How is this information relevant to me? How it this relevant to me and my family, my neighbors, my community(ies)? How is this relevant to my job, my co-workers, my work environment? Algorithms aside, how do we define our individual selves on this huge planet called Earth in a vast Universe, where we are but less than a speck?

Okay, Carol...what'cha been smokin'?

We have so many influencers, trying their very best to define us. Political parties and persuasions...corporate media and advertisers...religions...social groups. Drugs. Alcohol. We're bombarded minute by minute by, pressured to buy, to sell, to promote. But what works for one may not work for another or many others.

I try to look at nature as an example. Perhaps it's my Native side that has me connecting with the "birds of the air, the lilies of the field"...the fish in the stream, the squirrels in the tree...and I remember how simple life used to be. As I define myself in what I call my "Third Life", I acknowledge the lessons learned, the experiences I've gone through, the Nouns (people, places and things) of my life...and now?

I control my journey.

We all have our gifts, talents and abilities. I look back at my childhood and there are two things that shone through every light and every darkness: Music...and writing. When I was a child, my parents couldn't keep paper stocked fast enough for me. When I ran out of paper (notebooks, tablets, comp books), I used to take my crayons, pencils, pens, etc. and write stories and thoughts on the walls and shelves in my closet, under my bed, on the air vents (used to melt crayons on it, LOL). When I went off to college, my parents turned my bedroom into a guest room, and when they started remodeling, they laughed and laughed as they discovered that I had written on the window sill and whatever I was writing continued outside the window, on to the panels of the house.

I think back sometimes - at my First and Second Life - and wonder where, at certain points, lost my way. I very well know that I let the "Nouns" take over, many times...too many times. I let them influence me, control me, manipulate me, almost define me. Almost. Not quite. Some think it's because I might appear to be too naive, too compassionate, too giving. What the Nouns don't know is that I'm intently watching, listening and feeling. I am watching how you treat people, animals, families, tribes, nature. I'm listening to what you say, what you post, what you vent, what you gossip. I'm feeling how you treat and impact me and those I love...my family, my friends and acquaintances, my co-workers.

I've actually clocked how long it takes for me to process information (after utilizing my own R&D methods), and I can safely say it takes me about 24 hours, sometimes less if I'm already knowledgeable on any certain subject. In developing my own perspectives and opinions, I always like and try to get many sides and views of an issue or story; however, truth be told...if it is not relevant to my Third life, I'm not going to dedicate very much time to it.

Because if you bring chaos into my Third Life, don't expect me to accept it, or be happy about it. Don't expect me to agree with you if you don't walk your talk. I think I've been more aware in my life now than I ever have been before...which means I will weed out the BS. You can put on a pretty face and show, but know that I'm just not much of a "joiner" these days. There has been too much hypocrisy; too many lies passed off as truth, and truth passed off as lies. I will entertain what I will. But I'm done with all of the silver tongues.

And I've been happier for it, as I forge my Third Life back home here in Wyoming. Happiness is a choice. Being a good person is a choice...and some might think they're "good", but...unless you really examine yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, step in someone else's shoes...(because no one is an island)...how would you really know?

I absolutely love my grand-puppy, Emma. Dogs are so innocent. They are so very trusting and loyal. The kind of person you are is reflected in them. I've known folks who abuse and neglect their animals, saying "Oh, they're just animals..."it's just a ranch/farm dog, they need to know their place..."..."stupid dog"...etcHey...I'm watching, listening and feeling you. And if you treat a dog like that, then that says volumes about the kind of person you are.

I don't know. I guess I'm just sick and tired of all the bad that's going on in the world right now. I mean, just how difficult is it to be good to each other? Be nice to each other? When I see those claiming to be "good Christian folk" being so very UN-Christian (and justifying their very UN-Christian actions)...is it any wonder we have our upcoming generations embracing a post-religion culture? Because they have been watching, listening and feeling, too...and they're not stupid.

What would Jesus do? Not what you're doing/saying.

I'm at a point in my Third Life where getting back to my roots, my childhood...watching, feeling and listening..has been paramount, and I feel blessed. But don't get me wrong...I'm no Molly Mormon anymore. I'm no "Jesus Freak". I'm no joiner. I might be teased for driving a Prius in Wyoming, but like I say: "It takes more balls to drive a Prius in Wyoming than your gas-guzzling truck. See you at the pumps, bitch."

Oh no! She said the "B" word!

Relevance.

😉







Sunday, June 30, 2019

Common Grounds: Live Your Truth

Today's iced coffee is in a glass given to me by my son a while back. You can't really see it, but reads: "US Marine Corps 2007 Anniversary."
The perfect drink on a warm day!


A while back, I saw a post on a good friend's Facebook wall that (for the most part) read: "Speak your truth."

Yes! Speak it...but also, live it.

I used to be very much afraid of both living and speaking "my truth". Not many are granted the liberty to explore it. I can honestly say, I didn't "know" my truth in my younger years. I let religion, politics, family and "friends" define everything for me. I allowed people to  "guilt" me into believing things I truly, in my heart and soul, did not believe. I was too agreeable...too accepting, too "nice", too naive....defined as a "sinner" in need of saving. A lone wolf, wanting and waiting for acceptance.

Today? I think about what my Mom used to always say: "I don't give a damn about what people think."

Defining and speaking one's truth takes a lot of work. A lot. However...living one's truth also takes a lot of courage. It's like that ol' "high school" mentality...no one wants to be seen as the "nerd", the "weirdo". Back then, I thought I was pretty safe, immersing myself in my music, but I very well knew that, at school...the popular crowd defined life for everybody else. The "pretty" ones. The jocks, the cheerleaders. The over-achievers., the under-achievers, the "middle"-achievers. The "losers". Succumbing to the fads and fashions, not because you liked them, but because everyone was doing it, wearing it, trying it, smoking it, drinking it...peer pressure is a very real thing, and can prevent one from really living their own truth.

Eventually, we grow up and {hopefully) mature enough to realize that life is not "high school" anymore. You come to understand that the planet is a much bigger place than the little world you were raised in. Don't get me wrong; I have no complaints about my upbringing, but I completely admit that I was very naive about many, many things. Out of the proverbial frying pans and into the fires of life, I also remember other words of wisdom of my mother: "If you don't learn the easy way, you'll have to learn the hard way."

I think the significant word here is "learn". You can gain a lot of knowledge, get your diplomas and degrees, gather and retain a lot of data and information..."Google" and "Wiki" everything...and still be very ignorant about many things. You can identify with, feel for, and rally around...but you cannot speak a truth about something you have not actually lived

This is a crazy time we're living in, where we are bombarded every day by the media/social media with stories we don't necessarily know are true, but "ring" true and may pull on our heart strings. So much "peer pressure" to join a political party, special interest groups, marches and protests...drawn to "bigger, better, faster". It's difficult to really believe in something when history lessons prove otherwise, hypocrisy proves otherwise, "karma" proves otherwise...time proves otherwise.

Ah, yes. Time. It can be such a game-changer. Many know that I wrote a book a while back...wrote articles for "Plain Truth Magazine". It was a time in my life where I was still seeking "my truth", but looking back, it was also a time where I was very hurt, angry and bitter about many things. As I reflect upon what I wrote during that time, I can totally see where I struggled to find my truth, how there were bits and pieces of that truth revealed in my writings...but I could also see how I was influenced by others' "truth", which were anything but plain. It wasn't until I wrote a controversial article where I actually spoke my truth, but it also got me kicked off of Plain Truth's International Board and they no longer published my writings. I think that was the first indication in my life where I realized that many don't really like any truth outside of their own. One person's truth truly can be another person's lie.

And I get it. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear or acknowledge, and there are reasons people build up walls, turn a blind eye, get defensive. The truth can hurt. But I'd rather know the truth and hurt for a bit of time, than be content to believe in, defend or live a lie and allow it take over my life, my peace, my joy, my sanity.

We choose what we take into our bodies and minds that can help, heal...or hurt. I don't subscribe to any religion or political persuasion these days, but if your beliefs help you, I'm not going to say that they don't...unless and until they hurt others. That's where I draw the line. When beliefs begin to divide and hate, abuse and segregate...there is some examination and soul-searching that needs to be done in order to find out whether the "truth" that is believed really is.

I often think about the story of the "Emperor's New Clothes", how it was a little child who finally spoke up: "But he hasn't got anything on!"  So many have the gift of the silver tongue, and can convince anyone of anything...make it sound good, make it look good, make it believable.

Americans have freedoms that not many countries of the world enjoy...but when we start behaving as if ours is the only way - the only truth - we set ourselves up as prideful hypocrites, because the truth is, America also has many, many problems. And while we often try to defend our thinking, our logic, our convictions, thinking ours is the greatest, the biggest and best...the core truths that reside within our own consciences will constantly nag at us. Dress it up as you will, polish it up and put on a nice show...but deep down, we very well know what is right and what is wrong. We know the difference between what is good and what is bad. Winston Churchill once said: "I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behavior never lies." 

So be good...be nice...be strong. Be good; don't be bad. Be nice; don't be mean. Be strong in living your truth. Build a life surrounded by the nouns (people, places and things) that make you a better person, inside and out. Elect leaders who actually walk their talk. Support causes that help and heal, not hurt and divide. Seek for truth, and once you find it...live it.

"You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
John 8:32


Friday, June 14, 2019

History Lessons: Music

When I was a young'un, most knew me as a "child prodigy" on the piano. While still in the crib, I would plunk out tunes on a black-and-white key [toy] xylophone, by ear ("Mary Had A Little Lamb"..."Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"...Sesame Street songs, etc.). I absorbed music like a sponge. Since that toy xylophone had the keys stamped into them, I pretty much learned the music alphabet right along with the English alphabet. Basically..."A" had a tone. "B" had a tone. "C" had a tone. And so forth. Granted, after "G", there was no associative "key" or tone, so...there's that. LOL What do you do with perfect pitch as a blessing and curse?

Yes. The original xylophone...

My Mom was keen on my musical abilities. My sister, Kim, was taking piano lessons from Francis Kelliher, and after Kim would practice her lessons at home, I'd climb up on the piano bench and would pick out, by ear, everything that she had rehearsed. Mom asked Mrs. Kelliher if she would also take me as a student, but I was way too young. Back in the day, no piano teacher (especially in the middle of Wyoming) would take a student as young as three years old. But Mrs. Kelliher said that when I turned four, she would take me. So [near/around] my fourth birthday, I had my first piano lesson. I remember that day...she had four upright pianos in her basement piano studio, and I climbed up on each piano bench and tried each one. Little did I know that I was kind of an "experiment" at the time, but I just remember being in absolute heaven. Upstairs was the Steinway grand; I had never seen a grand piano before. Playing it was a privilege. Master the uprights, practice hard and maybe, just maybe someday you'll be able to play that Steinway.

And I did, but I cannot say it was an easy road. As most parents know, the attention span of a four year old varies, but my Mom kept me in line...she would be right by my side as I practiced and practiced and practiced. At that time, just 30 minutes per day was a chore, for both of us! I remember a lot of tears (as I always wanted to revert to my "by ear" habit to classical training), But then my Mom bought several vinyl records of "Piano Classics", and I would listen to them intently. On Sunday afternoons, we'd go out to my grandparent's farm house, and the Starks family would gather on the porch to sing and play the old folk and bluegrass tunes and hymns. My Dad would play the harmonica; my Uncle Earl would break out the guitar...I would sit there in my Sunday dress and little lace-stocking feet, black patent-leather shoes, smell Grandma's cookies baking in the oven...watch the afternoon sun sink behind the trees and wait for the crickets to join in the chorus.

Eventually, my parents bought a baby grand and I "graduated" from the old, pink-painted, yellow-keyed antique in the basement, and practiced my lessons (upstairs...out of the dungeon!) in the living room on the Grand. Eventually, I had been disciplined to practice a minimum of four hours a day. Eventually, four hours turned into six. Eventually, I learned Beethoven's Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Opus 79, the first Movement, completely by ear. Eventually, I had finally earned the privilege of playing the Steinway in the Kelliher home.

From there, Mrs. Kelliher said that she had nothing left to "teach" me, and I began my curriculum with Professor Carol Dahlberg at Central Wyoming College. I was in between eighth/ninth grade when I entered my first piano competition. Throughout my junior and high school years, I was submerged into the world of classical piano. I played the organ for church services (taught by Diane Tippets). I sang and played in the high school choirs, played flute and bassoon in the bands. Sometimes I look back and think it would've been nice to have some sort of "normal teenhood"...but at the same time, music has always been my world, my life...my best friend. When I couldn't count on people...I could always count on Music.

I tell folks often: "There's a song for everything," and it's true. Whether you're happy, sad, angry, conflicted...numb and tired, or active and motivated...Music has a way of speaking on the frequencies of the soul. My playlists contain a wide variety of genres...classical, jazz, bluegrass, rock, folk, Bollywood, alternative, pop, etc. Depending on my mood (or coffee intake, LOL), time of day, or life circumstances, I guarantee that there is a song for it. Music has always been...and always will be...my go-to-first medicine, entertainment, love and joy.

As for now, I'm taking an indefinite Sabbatical from my [formal] music career. Thirty years is a long time, a very long journey. I'm not saying I'm giving it up. I'm saying that I've learned a whole lot over the years as to what Music in my life really means. I'm excited to discover what lies ahead.

If you've read this far, thanks. Hopefully, you poured another cup of coffee! 😉



Sunday, June 2, 2019

Common Grounds: For Good

I love my road trips, and most of my travels lately have been to Utah or throughout my home state of Wyoming. As the weather [finally] warms up, I plan on embarking upon my "Wyoming CoffeePong Tour 2019", stopping at scenic views, visiting natural and historic landmarks, visiting friends and family, catching some live music here and there, and of course...visiting coffeehouses and roasters all over the state. Itinerary to come out soon, so if I'm in your town, let me know! I'd love to catch up.

This morning I'm kicking back with a nice French-pressed, espresso-grade, caramel-infused cup o' joe. My poor French press had been sitting in the corner as if to say, "Pick me! Pick me!" as I've always reached for the cone for my morning coffee these days. So today was "French Press Day", and I think it's happier now. Been saving coffee grounds for my gardening, so every cup has had purpose.


Ah, that word: Purpose.

Not many know the story of how I came to be back home in Wyoming, after 30 years in California. The short story is one that is frequently told these days: 1) Affordability. The cost of living had become too way much to bear. 2) A sustainable wage, income to expenses. Budgeting every dollar for bare essentials...rent, utilities, phone, Internet and food...added to the daily.weekly/monthly stress. When just rent alone sucks out over 3/4 of your net monthly income, all you're doing is surviving, not living. And 3) Politics. As a news blog editor who has done her very best to keep ACN non-partisan and politically neutral, I got hits from all sides, not just left and right. It got to the point where I had to cut blog writers, deal with finger-pointing partisan whiners, and pressured to either join the lemmings of the elite, or stay true to what community media is all about. Everything had a protest; everything was a protest, a march, a complaint...and if I didn't appear as progressive on either side, then I must have been for their opposition. I was called a "fence dweller", a "milque-toaster". I lost advertisers because of gossipers and backbiters. But I've stayed true to who I am, and ACN is still going strong, even with me here in Wyoming. Those who truly understand and embrace the concept of community media and the "common grounds" are still loyal readers and Supporting Advertisers. And I thank all of them, from the very top and bottom of my heart.

Back to the California exodus...I had been living in Sacramento with a significant other, making the commute from Sacramento to Amador County for my Music Director position at Trinity Episcopal Church...there and back again for five years, a two-hour round trip commute. Eventually, my supplemental, long-term temp job in Sacramento came to an end, things went sideways in the "relationship" (if you could call it that)...so I returned to Amador, renting rooms, desperately looking for a supplemental job that could help make ends meet. Two of the landlords I encountered were not "all there" (okay, they were nuts)...the last straw was when I had moved all of my stuff into a new place, and then the landlord kicked me to the curb. Then, he posted rent for the room for $200 more than what he asked of me...which is illegal. I filed a police report, but nothing was going to be done about it, and I knew it.

So...for a few days, I was homeless. I lived in my car...sometimes slept in my office at the church. Ironically...I became a "client" of the Interfaith Food Bank. I say "ironically" because I used to be a volunteer there, and remembered the housing market crash in 2006-7 and we'd have BMWs and sports cars parked in front, folks dressed up in business attire, applying for food boxes. It was a harrowing moment to realize that I, myself, had become a statistic as well.

One night I was updating Amador Community News (ACN), and also arranging the music for Sunday's service...and I just broke down. I was sobbing and sobbing, when I heard the little familiar "ding" from a Facebook friend. I don't remember how the PM conversation actually started, but I do remember her asking me how I was doing.

At that moment, I could have said, "Oh, I'm great! Everything's fine. How are you?" But what good would lying do? What have I ever really achieved with my pride standing in the way? I hesitated for a bit, but my tears and guts were all over the desk at the time, so I told her:

"You know what? I'm not doing so great..." And I told her my story.

She immediately said that she and her husband were going to help me get all of my stuff off of the [crazy] landlord's property and I would live with them in their guest room. "We'll figure it all out later, we just need to get you outta there." And we did. They did.

Not only did my decision to move back to Wyoming come during that time, but also an epiphany of honesty came to light. Telling the truth, no matter what, might be a difficult thing to do...but I've learned that there are angels out there who are waiting to hear it, and ready to take action when you cannot, and your strength has been totally drained. I completely admit that I was blinded by my circumstances and weakened by my pride. I often wonder what would've happened if I chose to say: "Oh, I'm great! Everything's fine. How are you?" instead of telling the truth.

I called my Dad and told him the truth. We made arrangements for me to move back home to Riverton, Wyoming and live in my grandparents' home, which had been vacant for years. I found a great job within a month upon arrival. I still run Amador Community News from afar for the people of Amador County, California (that's the beauty of the Internet)...no longer with the stress of political pressure or persuasion...and it's never been better. My partners, RTV and Sierra News Bulletin, have been nothing but supportive and innovative.

I'm here. For good.

Some don't believe in angels and miracles. To tell the truth, I don't, either...in the sense that they're ethereal, celestial creatures with wings and harps, or that miracles are simply coincidences that might be considered anomalies on the charts and graphs of probabilities. You know the ol' "You might be a red neck if..." series by Jeff Foxworthy?

Well, you might be an angel if...

I've been back home for almost two years. My life has come full circle, and I'm not about to discount any event that has happened, good or bad, that has brought me here. Everything that has happened in my life has brought me back here for good. So the very least I can do is be the kind of person for good. Help those in need...do good in the community...find that one thing that makes a difference. Paying it back, paying it forward...for good.

In a day where borders and walls seem like "good" solutions, I have a better idea. Let down your walls with humility, and make those tough decisions with faith, but more importantly, with honesty. Let down those walls of [false] security, and trust in your gut, with your smarts...but more importantly, with your heart. Not everyone can be trusted, and you don't want to bring chaos and drama into your own homes...but you know what? There are those who can be trusted, and there are those out there who need your help. So help them. Invest in them. Where before despair had set in...give purpose. Give hope. Like I did with my little French press this morning...

Be that angel that sets a course for good in this life on this crazy planet called Earth...for yourself and for others. For Humanity.

Do it...for good.



Saturday, June 1, 2019

History Lessons: 'Merica!

Folks and friends have asked where I stand these days on a few "political issues". I guess it's only natural that they would, given that I used to be quite vocal in the political areas.

Here's my latest "scoop":

On the abortion issue: We already have Constitutional laws in place. Roe vs Wade has been working.
Add on: Place the same requirement on men as well as women.
Men: Convicted rape/sexual assault? Jail, prison and an automatic vasectomy/castration upon sentence, according to the severity of the crime.
Women: Protect yourselves, and surround yourselves with other strong women. Oh, and clean up your lives. Quit the jobs that make you weak, afraid and desperate. You're better than that. You're strong and independent. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I'm both pro-life and pro-choice.
Pro-Lifers: Have you dealt with the infants and children traumatized and affected by neglect, abuse and violence in today's world? If you are a product of that, I'm so very sorry. But those who put religion in the mix need to shed the hypocrisy, then maybe there can be some talk. Because believe me...you can be a "good Christian family" that devastates and destroys children...please, don't ask me to provide proof. Google it for yourself.
Here's just ONE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-captives/california-couple-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-in-severe-child-abuse-case-idUSKCN1RV0NJ
Pro-Choice: I am a firm advocate for adoption (as an adopted child myself), but I cannot speak for the women who have been faced with "The Choice". Not all women can be mothers. Not all women want to bring life into the disintegrating world we live in. This choice needs to be protected and respected.

On the gun issue: We already have Constitutional laws in place. Practice gun safety in your homes and families, your community. The problem is mental health. The problem is the family, social, community environments you believe and raise your children in.
Parents: You raise your kids to be bullies? That's on you. You raise your kids to be racist? That's on you. You raise your kids to not care about anyone or anything? That's on you. You let them play video games that involve guns, drugs and violence? That's on you.
If you want a better world...take responsibility. There's nothing wrong with owning a gun. The responsibility in using it/them is what matters. It should never have to be used. But never fault those who do and have taken responsibility for the firearms in their homes. It's a Constitutional right. Enough said.

On the drugs/cartels issue: We're not stupid. We all know, deep down, what is right and what is wrong. We take drugs to do whatever makes us think is "normal" or to escape whatever reality we're in...whatever is marketed to us as "normal"...or think what normal should be. But we know very well that NO drug can do that.
Personally...I would rather drink alcohol in celebration than in a state of despair. Can't smoke a joint (here in WY), but...if I could, I would do it for medical reasons. I have a bad hip and lower back pain. Don't think I haven't tried all medical and homeopathic options.
But...also don't think that I don't know the effects of weed. I do become so much more aware, relaxed, creative and artistic. But at the same time, I become unmotivated, less productive and complacent. I'm grateful to have a job that requires me to be me, but I very well understand the struggle for those in non-420 states who need alternative medicine, rather than synthetic options offered by Big Pharma...which is also a cartel.

On the immigration issue: We already have laws in place, but the governmental red tape is absolutely ridiculous. We have future US citizens who can greatly contribute to the US economy. Fear, ignorance and racial tactics only gridlock and greatly minimize what America is about: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We the People have the power and ability to make change. Elect officials who will truly represent you, but don't forget what it actually means to be a US Citizen. Never forget where you came from. The struggle is real, on a global basis. The World is watching us. America is not a perfect country, but...
We are free because We the People make it free. There are those who dream about that. Can you imagine? Things that we often take for granted...people actually dream about.
Like crossing US State borders without an army with machine guns pointing at you...
Or some nuclear missle from some disgruntled country ready to aim and fire...
Yeah. There's that.

On the Native American issues: Diplomacy is always a good practice, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking this is still the 17-1800s, and American Indian tribes are still ignorant of the US government's ways. Treaties were made and broken. Today is the "karma" of bad decisions made in US history. This was their land, and it was taken and exploited. In some cases, destroyed. Tribes were made extinct. You visit a reservation these days, and you may as well visit the homeless under the bridge or the barrios in suburbia.
So now, here we are. Now it's become red against white...rez gangs against communities. What exactly was expected, after all these years?
I'll tell you right now...as a "mutt" (Native/White)...this is an explosive issue. I'm not one with an answer, but I do know the issues. And willing to be one to make a great change.

So there you have it. I know, I know...most of you think I just drink coffee and visit odd places.

But the world is real. Our home, our planet...is real. If we don't come together and think of solutions other than the warring between ourselves on the "little" things...what makes us think we'll come together on the big things? Our Midwest/Southern states are being devastated by tornadoes...the South is always being struck by hurricanes. And then, and only then do we come together.

Why? Why do we only come together in times of trouble? Shouldn't we come together in times of encouragement and progress as well?

We are all so small in this Universe...

Wind River Canyon, between Shoshoni and Thermopolis, Wyoming.
These canyons have rock that are millions, billions, trillions of years old.
If these rocks could talk.
We are so small.