Monday, November 30, 2009

Venting on Wind

NOTE: This blog entry is a work in progress. As I become educated on the pros and cons of wind development, I may add, change or delete some portions. This is an opinion piece, and I invite readers to add their two cents worth and make their voices heard. Above all, I desire information...verifiable data that is pertinent to this issue. If we have the truth, we Mainers can make intelligent and conscientious decisions regarding our heritage, our environment, and our quality of life.

I’ve spent the last few days having fun on GAG. I’ve written of dwarves being accidentally swallowed by hippos, of doing a stand-up comedy routine on the heels of strippers…I even ambushed my friend Jack on DUD and wrote of testicles getting caught between slats in a chair. These were all enjoyable topics.

Well…they were a blast for me to WRITE! I’m a bit of an idiot, that way. I hope they were also entertaining to read.

But I have a serious side. In addition to being a writer, I am also an American…a Mainer who is a concerned citizen. I’m a country girl and I enjoy a simple life, but sometimes a woman has to step outside her comfort zone and get involved in issues that have importance and impact, whether she likes such a role, or not.

I live in a small township in western Maine. I am a native of this great state, and I love these hills, these forests and these people with a passion. I am a conscientious woman, too, I believe. I take care to cherish this earth…to make my impact on her as minimal as possible. I suppose some people would call me green.

Wind power is coming—HAS COME—to Maine. Mars Hill, Vinalhaven, Freedom. Three communities that have already begun to experience the effects of huge wind turbines pulsing in their back yards. And now, to my dismay, Independence Wind is exploring the possibility of developing a large swath of pristine mountaintop range in my own neighborhood. Right next door, in the tiny village of Highland Plantation.

Before I proceed, I would like to state a fact. I am NOT against wind power. I am absolutely in favor of harnessing the power provided by sun, wind, water and the thermal energy available underneath our feet. I crave independence from foreign oil, and I would love to see us end the tapping of underground oil reservoirs and the burning of fossil fuels. These are the facts.

I like to think that I am a responsible citizen. A conscientious human being. I believe I am ‘green’. I also understand that many people will roll their eyes as they read that. That they will say, ‘Yeah, sure! Karen wants environmentally friendly power--as long as it is not in her own back yard!’

Of course, many people will feel that way…will think that of me! Of course they will! They will believe that I am only green when it suits me. When it doesn’t directly impact ME.

I know this. In all honesty, I’ve had those same thoughts about other folks in the past.

That being said, it comes down to this. I am not convinced that the erection of gigantic wind turbines on our remote mountaintops is a ‘green’ solution to our current energy crises. I am beginning to believe that the development of offshore wind farms will have the least detrimental impact on our economy and our environment. But I am a babe in the woods. My education is just beginning. In only the past few weeks have I begun to research this fairly new phenomenon that has come—and is coming rapidly and in exponential proportions—to the Pine Tree State.

There are several very important issues that concern, even disturb me. As with every relatively new resource, there is much we don’t know. First and foremost, I worry about the health issues. Many studies are being conducted into the new phenomenon called ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’. The data collected thus far is chilling, and I urge you to read the words of an expert by clicking on that link I’ve provided. I’ve tried to make it easy to do, so please…take a moment and read the opinions of professionals who are ‘in the know’.

And if you won’t believe the expertise of someone ‘from away’, I also have access to the written testimony of some real Mainers who are living in the shadow of these great windmills. Ethan Hall and Cheryl Lindgren are residents of Vinalhaven, one of the island jewels that sparkle off our wild Atlantic coast. These two people have been adversely affected, and to a great degree, by the turbines that have just recently come on-line on their island home. I am stunned by the immediate and severe consequences these two residents have suffered as inhabitants in the fall-out zone of turbine noise and blade pulse. I think anyone who reads their heart-felt and desperate letters will agree. I will enthusiastically make these letters available to anyone who would like to contact me at I would humbly ask that you be interested enough to do so, whether you live in my neighborhood, or not. Mr. Hall’s and Ms. Lindgren’s experiences are chilling, alarming, distressing. But I implore you to read their words, yourselves, and make up your own minds.

Another issue that causes me great concern is the actual impact such a development will have on the earth that surrounds us…our mountains, our trees, and those animals and lesser plants that flourish (or more importantly, those that struggle to survive) in these western woods. Former governor Angus King and his partner, Rob Gardiner have informed us that more than twenty miles of new road will be cut through our pristine woodlands. They’ve outlined how the crowns of several unique mountains will be blasted away and leveled in order to build the foundations or ‘bases’ that will support windmills which exceed four hundred feet in height. They’ve stated that year-round roads will be maintained—plowed, sanded, perhaps even salted or layered with calcium chloride—to allow access to the turbines, no matter what the season.

And yet, I heard not one word--not one FACT, that is—about how such monumental changes to topography and environment will influence our wildlife. There is no way in the world we can tell—not yet, anyway—how such an intrusion into the wilds of Highland Plantation will affect the native animals. I am certainly no expert. Far, far from it! But I can easily see how a wild creature’s mating habits and cycles could be changed due to a sudden intrusion of activity; a constant, unceasing noise; and the vibrations caused by mammoth blades thrumming through the air and causing pulse waves to buffet all that are within their path. I can imagine hibernation patterns changing. Hunting and eating instincts going awry. I can even picture our woodland creatures becoming less timid and more aggressive as they are subjected to such a colossal change in their natural setting. Living beings were not designed to withstand constant noise and unnatural vibrations.

As I’ve said, I’m no expert, no biologist. But I know animals intimately, and I have instincts of my own. In my humble opinion, there is no way the wildlife in our forests can escape unscathed from such a rapid and large-scale intrusion into their ecosystem.

There are so many, many more and diverse issues that must be researched before a large-scale development (and we’re talking upwards of fifty wind turbine towers!) can even be considered. Many questions and concerns come to mind.

What will the advent of a wind farm do to the value of the real estate in its proximity? If residents dislike—or can’t stand—living near the mills, will they be able to sell their homes at a profit, allowing them to move away? Will they even be able to recoup the original cost of their property, or would the value have plummeted so much that they must sell at a loss, or stay--and be miserable?

** December 1, 2009: After attempting for several days to contact fellow real estate agents in Mars Hill, a town that has hosted a wind turbine development for approximately two years, I finally spoke with two, earlier today. According to one owner of a real estate agency in Mars Hill, the development has not seemed to negatively affect property values. In fact, this agent cited several new homes built in the last year within close proximity to the towers. He also said that buyers considering the region have often REQUESTED property that had views of the windmills. To his knowledge, none of the Mars Hill residents who live within the corridor with the most noise pollution have placed their homes on the market. Until that happens, there will be no sales data to compare to...and that is the only way to honestly and realistically judge market value. Thus far, the advent of the twenty turbines has not seemed to adversely affect sales in the region. It is important to note, however, that the Mars Hill project is 'in town'--in an already-developed area--and the one proposed in Highland will be in a wilderness region. It may be years before we know the true impact of such a development on property values.

Will tourism still flourish once our wilderness is no longer unspoiled? As the paper industry moves abroad, as the wood-turning mills close and the shoe shops fold and the woolen mills and shirt factories go under, tourism is Maine’s last hope. Millions are drawn to our rugged terrain, to our fresh air and our unpolluted rivers, lakes and streams. Will this multitude of nature-lovers and seekers of peace still choose to visit our neck of the woods, if its spine is corrupted by industrial steel and concrete, and by unnatural sound and pulsation?

And then, there is the cost. Not the cost to health, or environment or peace of mind. Not the psychological expense of having to view the unsightly where once there was naught but beauty. I’m alluding to actual cost. Governor King and Mr. Gardiner admitted that currently--right now--it is cheaper to use natural gas than it is to harness the wind. Admitted that until generating power from the wind becomes less expensive, there won’t be a good market for the energy it produces. And yet, they wish to hurry their plan through, to put it before LURC. Just in case. For a time when it WILL BE an economically sound undertaking. By then, all roadblocks will have been removed.

As ‘pro-environment’ as these business partners and friends profess to be (and I believe they ARE, don’t get me wrong)…but as ‘green’ as these esteemed gentlemen are, they are not interested in proceeding with a plan that is economically unsound, even if it might be—MIGHT BE—better for the environment and the earth as a whole. Not if it can't turn a healthy profit.

That says something. To me, that says something very significant.

I have a copy of the expedited law passed by the legislature…the law that—basically—removes all vital restrictions to the development of wind farms in unorganized territories. In all honesty, I haven’t finished reading it yet. It was so disturbing that I had to take a break.

That our legislators—those men and women who are supposed to be representing US, and who are supposed to be stewards of this great state—both its land and its inhabitants—that they passed such a law without debate, without discussion, and without giving we, THE PEOPLE, advance warning or a chance to educate ourselves about it and make our will known, is appalling. Unconscionable. It makes me mad enough to chew nails, and causes me to want to fire the whole lot of them. How dare they? How dare they?

That’s the crux of the matter, to my way of thinking. We--the residents, the citizens, the voters and the tax-payers--have become non-entities. Our opinions, our wishes and our will have become unimportant to those with power. To those with money and influence. Our ‘one vote’? Not even asked for. Certainly, not wanted.

I also have a copy of a letter that Mr. Rob Gardiner wrote expressing his opinions--and even more importantly, his DIRECTIVES—regarding the drafting of the expedited law to facilitate wind energy in Maine. It was stunning to see how each desire this developer expressed, each stipulation he required, was incorporated into that expedited law. I’ll say it again: I am no expert. But I’ll eat my hat if it doesn’t appear that a developer—someone standing to make millions of dollars on wind farm development and expansion—designed that law which runs roughshod over the citizens and the environment of Maine. Oh, there are some safeguards in the law...but those protections appear to only affect any state or federally owned and/or managed lands and trails. There is nothing I've found, yet, that addresses protecting lands personally owned, or the rights of private citizens. Instead, there are the words 'tangible benefits'. As if we, the people, can be brought in line by vague promises of greatly reduced taxes or free electricity. As if we can be that easily bought.

I will also make Mr. Gardiner's letter available to any citizen concerned enough to request it. All you have to do is ask. Also, for those interested, here is the link to the Governor's Task Force on Wind. The more informed we become, the better equipped we will be to make the tough decisions that lie ahead. With rights come responsibilities, and educating ourselves is part of the process. I hope these links will answer some of your questions, for I am surely not able to. Not yet.

It comes down to this. We are Americans, and we are Mainers. We have rights. As well, we have charges! It is up to us, as intelligent and concerned individuals, to care for our planet and for each other. I love my neighbors in Highland Plantation. I honestly and truly empathize with their terrible financial tax burdens. I understand desperation, worry and fear. I completely comprehend a person’s need to take care of ‘home’ first, before concerning himself with the needs of a community at large, or an environment that seems, at times, to be vast and indestructible. But it is in times like these that my fellow Mainers show their stuff, display their true colors, and join together to help each other. That we use our Yankee ingenuity to form a plan to carefully and conscientiously address the problems facing us--be they financial, environmental, or civic. Above all, we hardy folk know when to say, ‘Enough is enough!’ We know when someone is running roughshod over us. We know our rights.

And friends, one of those rights, those freedoms? It is the right to say, ‘No!’ We have a duty to say, ‘Hold on! Wait just a second! We haven’t given this tremendous issue the time, care and attention that such a life-changing and landscape-altering development requires. We say NO! Until the average Joe Mainer has the opportunity to educate himself on this complex issue, and until each voter is allowed to make a collective decision, we exercise our RIGHT to say NO!’

Please, people…please. Stand up. Straighten your shoulders and brush yourselves off. And remember this! Please.

We have the right to say ‘No!’ The Governor, the Legislature...they work for US. For you and me. Not for developers, not for special interest groups, not for the lobbyists of corporations and not for the wealthy. They work for you and me. The little people with the big responsibilities.

And we have the right to tell them 'No!'

The above commentary consists of the thoughts and opinions of Karen Bessey Pease, and should not be attributed to any other entity or organization. I invite any reader with a differing (or like-minded) opinion to comment. This is America, and we all have a right to express our opinions. Too, I am an open-minded individual, and would welcome the expertise and input of those professionals who are involved in the development of wind turbine power, or its effects on the land and inhabitants of this planet we call 'home'.

To read a perspective piece on FOREIGN wind turbine manufacturing and OUR stimulus dollars, please read my comment below, dated 12/05/2009

Also, if you are interested in obtaining information on sound issues with wind turbines, please click this link. We owe it to this earth and to ourselves to become educated on these aspects of 'wind' if we expect to be able to make sound and responsible decisions.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Fat Lady

Well, the fat lady must have sung, because it’s over. The comedy show for charity at Nostalgia Tavern is a thing of the past.

Thank God! Cripes, at this stage of the game, I’ll thank just about anybody! In fact, I spent a good part of this post-show Saturday doing exactly that.

There are so many people who contributed to the success of the evening. And I’m speaking of success in the monetary sense…not critiquing my own efforts on stage. Good heavens! I cannot believe that there are people in the world that do that type of thing for a living!

I know I looked like Larry The Cable Guy, but with a bigger bust! (But not by much…) And I probably sounded just about as bright! But HE never looks nervous! Larry never has a joke fall flat! And HE can get away with wearing shirts that have the sleeves ripped off! Crimeny… I caught heck for letting a bit of cleavage show! And it was just a BIT! As long as I wasn’t bending over, that is…

There should definitely be some kind of law stating that one’s parents be barred from witnessing such a spectacle! No way in the world should it be permitted for my mother to hear me say ‘fart’ in a crowd...let alone allow her to hear me actually let one slip! (Because I do that when I’m nervous, you know! Sorry...too much information? Well, I’m working on those muscles as we speak!)

And a girl’s father should never, ever hear her discuss wayward testicles that might or might not get caught between the slats of a wooden chair. He’s not supposed to think I even know what those little buggers are! And I DON’T!! Not really!

But worse--far, far worse—is the ‘Grandmother Quotient’. What kind of society do we live in, where it’s okay for a ninety-three year old woman to hear her (once) beloved grand-daughter talk about nakedness, wet tee-shirt contests, getting body parts caught in zippers, and HORNY MOOSE??? Aw, Mammy!

I simply wanted to die.

However. A quiet, graceful, dignified death was denied me. Of course it was. I am the queen of the Bonehead Moment, and it is my lot in life to open my mouth, and suffer the consequences.

I do manage to raise a lot of money for charity that way, though…

So! The show is over, the money is being tallied and will soon be disbursed, and my one remaining nerve is shot. I’ve probably alienated my family, a couple of my local friends, and even my best pal half-way round the world. Am I a bona fide, unqualified success, or not?!

Of course I am.

But for the record…I have never broken wind, I don’t have a single clue about manly body parts, and I have never—not once in my life—participated in a wet tee-shirt contest. Nor have I been naked, nude, bare, exposed or unclothed. Them’s the facts, Mam.

Mam? Mammy? Aw, come on! It was for CHARITY!! It was for Alzheimers and…something else! I forget what it was…


Thank you—every one of you—for coming out in the cold rain, the wind and the sleet in order to help me support the ‘wrinklies’ and to assist me in settling the debt owed to my pal Jack.

It’s over. And he is soooo going to pay for that!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Visiting (after sneaking up on) My Friend Down Under

It's Thanksgiving. An American holiday. Some people have taken the day off to rest and relax and eat themselves into oblivion. Perhaps that's what I should have done. But I'm a writer. I'm not content--my day isn't full--unless and until I've written something. A short story, a poem, a long letter to a friend.


But I had no inspiration for a story. I wrote a poem, 'The Urine Man', just two days ago. And the friends I usually write to are either too busy to read my meanderings, or resting up from a day of over-indulgence. And so...

Tonight, I wrote a blog entry. However, I snuck up on my pal Jack and posted it on Down Under Dunder, rather than here on GAG. When he sees it, he may delete it, for it's a bit bawdy. A bit 'Kazza'. And that's a chance I'm willing to take. Jack knows I won't get offended if he does. Not REALLY offended. And not for long!

So, my friends...if you want to read what I wrote on this Thanksgiving Day 2009, perhaps you'd better hurry over to DUD. If I did it correctly, all you have to do is click on the underlined 'Down Under Dunder', up above. If I DIDN'T do it right, then the link is posted over on the right-hand side. One way or another, I'll get you there.

And for the record, my husband took offense at my posted article. Mr. Grumbles thinks my perspective is WRONG, and that it could have happened to ANYONE. And I? I can't believe he'd admit that!

Happy Thanksgiving! And remember, there's still time to make plans to attend my comedy show for charity tomorrow night. Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Urine Man (Title supplied by Shara)

I had a call the other day. It really was annoying.
It cast a pall upon a morn that I had been enjoying.
Quite busy and quite happy, I paid the office bills.
I’d finished building fire, to take away the chills.

I’d opened all the emails, and answered what I could.
And then I did delete the ones that scruples said I should.
The brochure I updated with listings that were new
To keep my clients happy, and satisfy my crew.

Then all at once, the peace I felt was shattered by a ring.
(Sometimes that blasted telephone can be a maddening thing!)
I picked up the receiver, and spoke a pleasant word.
And on the other end of it, a manly voice was heard.

‘I’d like to buy some property! Hello, there, little honey!
‘I want a parcel high and dry, with views! And I’ve got money!’
Well, money talks in real estate! I’d give this chap some time!
But calling strangers ‘honey’ made me think he might be slime.

But I am a professional. My temper must be curbed!
I never must let on when I am feeling quite perturbed.
I then extolled the virtues of a piece high on a hill
That had just what he wanted...the view was fit to kill!

And as we chatted, then I heard his footsteps on the floor.
But as his tread slowed down a bit, I heard the squeak of door.
At first, I did dismiss it. T’was movement of his feet!
But then I heard a noise that sounded like a toilet seat!!

Remember please, I’m not a child! For more than forty years
The sound of banging flush lid has echoed in my ears.
I’ve potty-trained two little boys. I tried to train my spouse!
Because I really do not like to have pee-spattered house!

My mouth, well it fell open! What was the gent to do?
Could he be taking me along to join him in the loo?
The man, he just kept talking…and then I heard a sound
Like splashing of a waterfall…it echoed all around!

The stream, it then abated. Became a little sprinkle.
What once was thunder in the hole had dwindled to a tinkle.
The visions there inside my head! The image I did see!
T’was not MY FAULT I pictured him then shaking off the pee!

My eardrums then detected the sound of toenails clicking…
In horror I commenced to hear a dog, from toilet licking!
The fellow spoke quite sharply, and sent the canine out…
Someone would get a pee-lick, of that there was no doubt!

My bathroom-mate, he paused his talk, and gave the thing a flush,
My mind’s eye witnessed swirling pee descending with a rush.
I felt a little nauseous, my face commenced to frown.
And then I heard the banging of the toilet seat go down.

By now, I was involved in this. Co-peeing made a link!
I waited on the telephone for him to use the sink!
But no! This nasty fellow, who made me hear him piddle
Washed not that hand with which his little wiener he had fiddled.

This really was too much to ask! T’was not my job description
To go to take a leak with him! There loomed a big conniption!
I didn’t care to sell to him! This buyer was a jerk!
I never had signed up for this when heading off to work!

I wanted then to cuss at him. I wanted him to squirm.
I had the urge to warm his ass, the slimy little worm!
But I am quite professional, and that was not to be.
Besides, that sound of tinkling? It made me have to pee!

The photo is of the downstairs bathroom that was in our house when we bought it. We were very glad there was not an upstairs bathroom...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Laughing Alone

I’m always talking about how beneficial laughter is…how it releases mood enhancing chemicals into our bodies, changes our perspectives and generally turns the seemingly unbearable into not such a big deal, after all. Laughter is amazing, and I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life trying to share those marvelous benefits with others.

I’m not only a teacher of the magical properties of glee, though—I’m a student. I discovered first-hand what a difference shared giggles could make to my existence. Laughter and the ability to look for--and find--the humor in most situations, has saved my life. And--if I’m to be honest—it has saved my sanity, too.

But what happens when something is wrong, and there is no one to laugh with? What happens when you have a problem that you can’t talk about, that you can’t share? What do you do when you really, truly need to laugh…need to cry and scream first, but need then to close it out with a bit of hilarity? A little sarcasm, or self-deprecation, or a touch of irony?

How do you laugh when you feel alone?

Shared laughter is the best, without a doubt. But I believe that an emotionally competent person needs to be able to self-heal, too. Face it. We can’t always be lifted up by others. In a perfect world, that would be possible. But this old world is far from perfect. And we need to take care of ourselves because, ultimately, I am the only person I can depend on, and you are the only person you can depend on. Ultimately, it is up to us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

I have been in a foul mood for three days. Mad, yes. Sad… a bit. Down in the dumps? Try a New York City garbage barge! Grumpy, depressed, bummed out. That was me. Mrs. Grins was nothing but a great big grumble!

I blame a man, of course. Heh. See? I feel better, already!!!

Aw, a man wasn’t the original problem…but a man could have made it better. A man could have been attentive, supportive…he could have given me a few moments of his time and consideration, and the whole three day grizzle-fest could have been avoided. Or at least…alleviated.

But, no. He was too self-involved and self-important to put forth the effort to make someone else feel good.

They really can be dillweeds, you know?

But I am Karen Bessey Pease! Author of excellent young adult fiction and a superbly written newspaper column! I make people laugh every day…and if I can do that, then I could surely find a way to lift myself out of the doldrums! Right???


So, how did I do it, you ask? Well, I started by looking at photographs last night. Pictures of peaceful scenes from here at home on The F.A.R.M., and others I’ve taken around the neighborhood and the state of Maine, at large. I pulled out photos of friends…cherished people that I have shared laughter with, in the past. Some of the pictures were uplifting simply because of the smiles on the faces of the people caught by the lens. Some brought a grin for the memories they induced. One caused a chuckle, because the photo inspired a scene in one of the sequels I’ve written for Grumble Bluff.

Have you ever seen the facial expression of someone who is considering the option of sea-sickness? Oh, I felt empathy, all right. But standing a safe distance away, I could also feel a whole boatload of mirth!

Those photos were enough, last night. They eased a burden that had been pressing on my diaphragm, keeping me from drawing a free and easy breath.

But I wasn’t in the clear, yet. I was still a little grumpy this morning…still a mite dejected. I was simply not back to my carefree, fun-loving self. And that’s never good. One of the worst things about a foul mood is its contagious properties. If I bark, if I am snippety, if I lose my cool and say something unkind, then my whole household suffers. My mood is transferred post-haste from me to my husband and children. And that’s never good. If I’m feeling pithy or pithed off, I want to keep it all to myself, and not suffer the guilt of infecting the rest of the Grumbles with my murk.

I’m selfish, that way.

So! It was time for Round Two of my self-induced therapy! I graduated from photographs to the written word!

It’s most likely a bit conceited of me to say that I think I’m funny. But…I do. And this afternoon, when I made myself stop working on my assigned tasks for an hour, I opened my ‘documents’ file on the computer. There, at my fingertips, were several hundred columns, letters and poems that I’ve written over the years. Many of them are unrecognizable by the titles I gave them, so when I opened them, they were a surprise. But unwittingly, I opened some doozies!

I write about real life. Real life that is sometimes embellished or exaggerated…for I am a simple woman and my life is not very exciting. But that ability to find the humor in the mundane, the idiotic and the pathetic is what this writer—this woman—is all about. If I have any kind of legacy to leave, I hope that is it.

I trolled through the files, reading about a husband who picked up a dog turd that he thought was a rock. I read about a son speaking into a wall-mounted box of utility knife blades, thinking it was an intercom. I perused a story of a daughter who would only eat honey when she discovered it was bee SPIT instead of bee POOP. I was reminded of a dog who could pick up stones in his viscous drool. A mother who has never farted. And aunt who unknowingly hit a chicken with her car and drove fifteen miles with it squawking and flapping in the grill of her car. (She thought she was incredibly popular, so many people waved to her that day!)

And I read about a burly woman who got stuck in her seat at Fenway Park and single-handedly screwed up a 'wave'.

And lastly, I read the FOASS letter.

That is one document that I did NOT write. I was the recipient, instead. The FOASS letter is the most insulting and loving letter I have ever received. It was written by a friend…a friend who called me every name in the book, and then some. A friend who knew me well enough to know that I would take it in the spirit it was intended. A pal who knew that I would be uplifted by foul words and rudeness, because I would recognize that only a true friend, only a best friend, could tell it to me like it was and be secure in the fact that I would understand the sentiment within.

Relationships evolve. They change. We all know that. When we are young and naïve, we think that the first blush of infatuation will always exist. We believe that an intimate friend will always be nearby--giving us an ear, a shoulder, a hand. But as we mature, we realize that each relationship has a honeymoon phase. Sometimes the relationship grows and strengthens and the bond is made fast. Sometimes events and other people get in the way, and the connection stretches and thins. Occasionally, it even breaks. That is one of the vagaries of life. Nothing ever stays the same.

But I have the stories of life on The F.A.R.M. I have the photos, the poems, and the old columns. And I have the FOASS letter. Right at my fingertips, so I can pull up a little self-imposed therapy… a little laughter, a bit of self-deprecation, and a smidgen of irony.

Life can be tough. But laughter can always, always make it a bearable journey. And quite often, it can make it a hell of a ride!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cover Your Mouth When You Yawn!!!

Freak accidents. We never expect them…that’s why they are labeled thusly. The phrase says it all.

Death is never funny. It isn’t. And the closer a person is to the victim of a fatal accident, the less amusing and the more tragic it is.

I consider myself a woman with a lot of empathy. A great deal of sympathy. More than my share of compassion. And yet, at the same time I have found myself chortling in fascinated dismay and yes—almost glee—when learning of certain ‘freak accidents’.

None of us wants to die. It is human nature to hold on to the tenuous and fragile strings that secure us to life with everything we’ve got. But we ARE going to die. It is inevitable. Some of us will die soon, and many of us will pass on in the distant future. But if I had my choice between a lingering illness, or long-term pain, or an existence where--because of the frailty of mind or body--I was affecting the quality of life of my loved ones who WERE healthy and who DID have a long and promising future…well. I guess I’m saying that I’m the kind of girl who would rather have her end be swift, unexpected…and even something that might be thought of as funny, after the pain and shock wore off.

Am I a sick mother (wife and daughter), or what??

The following is an excerpt from a newspaper article a friend sent me. I don’t KNOW that it’s true…but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.

A circus dwarf, nicknamed ‘Od’, died recently when he bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a yawning hippopotamus waiting to appear in the next act. Vets said Hilda the Hippo had a gag reflex which caused her to swallow. More than 1000 spectators continued to applaud wildly until they realized there had been a tragic mistake.

Well, NO WONDER we can’t get homeowner’s insurance if we own a trampoline! No wonder!!

Okay. You’ve read it. I dare say, you’ve read it twice! And I’m betting that a good percentage of you--whether you’d openly admit it or not—got a chuckle from that article. Maybe even a hoot! It has an aura of mesmerizing horror to it, doesn’t it? I mean, come on!!! Out of all the ways a human being might envision his eventual death, would this scenario ever, EVER cross his mind? We picture car accidents, or cancer, or house fires or diabetes. But we never, EVER foresee bouncing sideways from a trampoline into a yawning hippo’s mouth!!! I DARE you to tell me that possibility has crossed your mind!

I dare you!

I admit it. I giggled and tee-heed for five minutes after I read that. Sure, I feel sympathy for Od’s family and friends. What a terrible thing to have happen! One minute, little Od was bouncing away, light and free, doing somersaults to the delight of his fans, and the next…Hehehehehe.

I’m sorry! I am! See? I’m a sick woman! But Holy Hippos, Hilda! It simply boggles the mind!

And I’ve gotta tell you…I feel bad for poor, humble Hilda. There is no way that creature could have foreseen those particular consequences when she succumbed to the irresistible urge to yawn! Think of it! She’d no doubt seen Od’s high-flying acrobatics countless times! While he might have been keeping the crowd enthralled, Hilda was simply bored. Big deal! Once you’ve seen one bouncing, springing, leaping dwarf, you’ve seen ‘em all! She can’t be blamed for giving in to the urge to yawn. There was certainly no malice aforethought when she opened those massive jaws and inhaled. There was no way she could have known that that deep lungful of revitalizing air would be accompanied by a side order of dwarf. No way!

I, myself, have yawned and inadvertently inhaled a black fly in the spring of the year. I’ve inhaled a cookie or a bread crumb. Once, I even yawned in a piece of macaroni and whistled in panic for two minutes until the offending pasta was expectorated. But to the best of my recollection, I’ve never yawned and accidentally swallowed a circus star! Not a muscle man, nor a bearded lady…not even a dwarf. I am almost positive I would have remembered!

Almost positive!

Rest assured, now that I know such things are in the realm of possibilities, I shall make it my custom to cover my mouth each time I yawn. Without fail, and that’s a promise.

But Hilda didn’t have that option, did she?

Aw, heck. No, it’s not funny that Od met his demise in such a way. (It’s NOT! I’m sorry!!! I’m really TRYING not to snicker! I AM!) Ahem. Death is never humorous. But death IS unavoidable. And if you’ve gotta go--if you’ve gotta leave this earth in some manner—why not have it be in such a way as to inspire a smile in another? A laugh, a snort, even a chortle? Od was an entertainer, after all. He liked to ‘wow’ the crowds.

I’d say the man was a complete and absolute success. He left at the top of his game. After bouncing sideways.

That’s all I’m saying. Hehehe.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meadow Muffins and Bonehead Moments

It has once again been proven.... we country folk are easily entertained! What better way to spend an autumn Saturday then to attend a meadow muffin contest!

Someone from 'away' might ask what a meadow muffin contest is. Is it a cooking contest, similar to a chili cook-off? Is it held outdoors, in someone’s meadow?

Well, yes, it is an outdoor event. But no-one is baking pies in order to win a blue ribbon. Think cow pies instead.

That’s right! We Mainers know how to make the most of a good BM! As a fun way to raise money for charity, we like to pit our knowledge of the bovine gastroenterological system against that of our friends and neighbors! A section of field--or meadow, if you will--is divided into grids and fenced off. (Imagine a bingo card with MEADOW MUFFIN across the top and numbers 1-12 down the side, creating 144 square blocks of earth.) People 'buy' a square of ground inside the paddock, say D-3 for example, and then settle in for the show. The object of the game, of course, is to have the cow deposit a kucky cookie in the square that you paid for, thereby winning you a prize.

It’s not unheard of to arrive with your family in tow and a picnic lunch in a basket. Lawn chairs are set up, and the anticipation grows. The air is festive, and the excitement is contagious. Once Bessey, the heifer (the queen of all the cows) is released into the paddock, the suspense is a palpable thing. Will Bessey graze for a while, increasing the tension of the crowd? Will she give the spectators any warning before she makes a pattie placement? Will she perhaps stop and pose for a second so that everyone can witness the grand finale? What happens if she’s ambling along, calmly regurgitating and chewing the contents of one of her four stomachs while flopping the flap, and it lands in more than one square? (Cows can do that, you know. Their manure manipulation maneuvres are magnificent.) The potential variables of the extravaganza are endless, and add to the fun and excitement of the day.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Bessey, in fine form and with little more fanfare than a quick crook of her tasseled tail, makes her meadow muffin at last. The crowd crows with delight, the cow is praised for her fine form, and the winner is cheered.

Even though the contest is over, the day is not quite done. The fence comes down, and beautiful Bessey is led back to her stall in the barn. The cow pie is offered to the winner of the contest. When the champion declines the gift with all good grace, someone else takes care of the muffin removal. The spectators pack away their left-overs, load up their trucks with camp chairs, blankets and kids, and head through the field towards home. The sun dips low on the horizon and a whippoorwill calls across the now-quiet meadow.

Are we cheap dates, or what??

Yes, I appreciate that we can have a blast doing something as mundane as watching a cow chew her cud and waiting with anticipation for her to drop a doodle on a patch of grass. I love the fact that a community can join together to raise money for a worthy cause, and do it in a way that is inexpensive, hilarious and fun. I think it’s fantastic that you can make some money betting on the bodily functions of a half-ton cow!

And I gotta say it--I love any cow named Bessey.

This Bessey will be doing her bit for charity on Friday, November 27, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. (No!! Not THAT!!! Sheesh! I'm nowhere NEAR that regular...) To benefit Alzheimers (Maine Chapter) and Franklin Home Health Care, I will be performing 'Bonehead Moments' and 'I Love Ya Man...But Get a Grip!' at Nostalgia Tavern in Kingfield. Tickets are $15.00 per person, or $25.00 for a pair. Only 100 are available, and they are going fast, so please contact me if you would like to attend this evening of comedy. Tickets are also available at Nostalgia Tavern and Tranten's Store in Kingfield. During intermission, a character name in a Grumble Bluff sequel will be auctioned off. Here is your opportunity to have your name immortalized in a novel that takes place right here in the western mountains of Maine! Raffle tickets are also on sale for a quilt made by my 93 year old grandmother, and the winner will be drawn that night, as well. These are available at the Kingfield Woodsman Restaurant (where the quilt is displayed), at Tranten's Too, and at Narrow Gauge Realty.

Please join me for an evening of fun and help support these worthy organizations. I'll do the grumbling, and you can do the grinning! Call me at (207) 628-2070 or email me at for tickets!

Bonehead moments... Whose bright idea was this, anyway? Come discover the answer at Nostalgia Tavern! (He is SOOOOO going to pay for this!)
For those of you who are discering readers and followers of GAG, I'd like to take this opportunity to assure you that I DO know the bovine in these photos is NOT a COW. HIS name is Blue, and he is one of the steers at home here on The F.A.R.M. I DO know the difference, boys and girls! Cows don't have HORNS, after all! Sheesh...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Bliss of Papa's Lap

Today, I made one of those heartbreaking decisions that every pet owner accepts as being eventual--even, inevitable. I had to have Priscilla, our family dog, put to sleep.

Priscilla was a pound puppy. Of all the dogs I have loved and raised, only one of them was a pure breed…a dog who was purchased rather than saved. Jordan, the Newfoundland, was a gift I gave myself back in 1992. Excluding that goofy, enormous slobber machine, however, every other dog that has joined my family has been rescued from the pound or adopted from a litter of mixed-breed pups who were unwelcome and destined for the roadside.

But Priscilla, while adopted from the animal shelter just like Ringo and Sadie, and even though a mixed-breed, like Reuben and Buck, was more of a challenge than those other noble canines. She was the first adult dog I had ever adopted. Her age was unknown, as were her parentage and her history. The Humane Society’s veterinarian speculated that there was some 'terrier' in her genetics, that she was probably between three and five years old, and that she had been over-bred. Her little body and its 'female parts' were a mess.

She wouldn’t have anything to do with me when I visited the pound. I walked up to the cage and spoke to her, and she ran behind her little dog house and hid, nose buried in the corner, her hind-quarters towards me. I asked the shelter employee if I could enter the pen, and was given permission. I went inside and closed the door. I found a spot relatively free of poop and sat on the ground, about ten feet away from where she cowered.

And I sang.

‘It was no accident…me finding you. Someone had a hand in it…long before we ever knew… I tip my hat to the Keeper of the Stars. He sure knew what He was doing, when he joined these two hearts…’

I can’t sing worth beans. Priscilla didn’t seem to know that. I croaked away, ignoring her, my back leaned against the twisted steel of the cage. And after about ten minutes, I felt a little nudge underneath my arm. I opened it--moved it away from my side—and she slowly climbed up onto my lap and stuck her nose in my opposite armpit. That was all it took to fall in love.

But Priscilla, as calm and sweet and unobtrusive as she was, came with baggage. Our biggest challenge? We didn’t know what that baggage was. We didn't know what, exactly, had scarred her. She was incredibly shy. Painfully so. She was scared of her own shadow. Children made her nervous. Adults were to be avoided. She didn’t even show interest in other dogs. She preferred to be left alone. She wouldn’t eat if she was being watched. She wouldn’t do her 'business' if she felt eyes on her--but at the same time, she wouldn’t pee or poop unless she was accompanied outside. She rarely barked. In fact, she surprised us the first time she did. It happened almost three months after she’d come home with me. My daughter Josie had a friend over to play, and the girls were horsing around on the front lawn. Priscilla saw Sam chasing Josie, and she set off on a bouncing, barking run, as if trying to herd Sam away or protect Josie from this girl who was pursuing her. That type of horseplay--that type of rowdiness between my children and their friends--is one of the few things that ever sparked any life or excitement in the little dog. She didn’t particularly want to be petted or ‘made of’ by Josie and Eli, but she most definitely thought of them as hers.

Her nervousness around people was a completely new phenomenon for this woman who has loved and lived with dogs for forty-three out of her forty-six years. I’ve always had social pets. Outgoing dogs. Exuberant ones! But Priscilla was afraid of her own shadow. She preferred to be left alone, nose first in the corner of the couch—as if we couldn’t see her if she couldn’t see us--or else hidden in the shadowy safety beneath my bed.

It was weeks and weeks before Mr. Grumbles could even get near her. She would have nothing to do with him. But he is a quiet man, and patient. And one day, as he relaxed in the living room in his recliner, she padded around the corner by the doorway. She stopped. She looked at him, and he looked at her. He patted his knee. And without another second’s hesitation, she galloped across the floor and jumped into his lap.

That was it, for Priscilla. That was her human contact. Her only bit of personal heaven with any two-legged animal. Papa’s lap. Papa’s arm, his shoulder, his knee. Mr. Grumble had never been a ‘dog person’. He hadn’t grown up with scores of pets like this game warden’s daughter had. He could take them or leave them. But Priscilla changed all that. The act of having a cold wet nose inhaling and exhaling quietly underneath his ear, of having a wispy black and white tail thumping on his knee...well. My crusty husband fell in love. And the feeling was mutual.

She didn’t evolve into an outgoing or overly affectionate animal. And she didn’t always want that closeness. Didn’t always want that touch. Wasn’t good at letting her guard down. But when she DID crave affection, it was made available. My husband would sit in his recliner. He’d tip the foot rest up just a little bit to make it into a ramp--for with her stumpy legs, she couldn’t jump very high—and he would say, ‘Do you want to cuddle? Do you want to come sit on Papa’s lap?’ And up she would go, to her bliss. A bliss that Papa shared. Two shy, somewhat quiet creatures, giving and receiving affection without fuss and without fanfare. Just the two of them--one offering caresses and soothing words, the other offering devotion and trust.

She was solitary. She was timid and withdrawn. But she made an impression on this family, nonetheless.

Cancer isn’t selective. Its victims come in all shapes and sizes, all breeds, and from all walks of life. It invades the good and the bad, cuts short the lives of the gregarious as well as the introverted. Cancer chose Priscilla, and I had to let her go.

For those who have had to make the decision to peacefully end a pet’s life--to end its suffering and allow it the same dignity in death as it tried to maintain in life--the final act is heart-rending. Yes, it is quick. It is merciful and pain-free. Pain-free for the pet, but not for the pet owner. Not for the family that has loved that grinning dog or that purring cat, that nibbling goat or that nickering pony. Oh, no. Not pain-free.

I chose to hold Priscilla in my arms as the vet administered the euthanasia. I caressed her and held my forehead to hers. I looked through my tears into those soft brown eyes--those eyes that had always held a bit of reserve, but incredible trust at the same time. I whispered and I crooned. I apologized for every wrong the world had ever done her. And I told that little, sick and quiet pup that she was going to be okay. That there were great things in store for her. That she was going to go cuddle with Papa. She was going to go sit on Papa’s lap. For as long as she wanted, this time. Her own bliss. Her own bit of personal heaven.

We are heart-broken. We’ve been through this before, and we know that time will help to make the hurt diminish. But tonight, that truth doesn’t comfort us. We’ve lost our dog. Our pet. Our friend. A member of our family. And the rest of us need each other tonight in a way that we usually don’t.

Because, you see...Priscilla is gone.

I’m going to go cuddle with Papa, and sit on his lap. That timid little dog taught this grown woman something important. I will remember it.

And I will remember her.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Laughter...The Best Medicine

I’ve learned over the course of many years that laughter can be a life-saver. Sometimes, existing in a state of harmony with the world and those around us is nigh impossible. Things go wrong. People don’t live up to our expectations. Once in a while, we don’t live up to theirs. It sometimes seems as if strife is as commonplace as breathing.

But breathe, we must! And drawing breath comes much easier when our chests are free of the tightness caused by conflict, sorrow or worry. That’s why laughter is so good for human beings. It causes those constricting muscles in our torso to relax, and loosen up.

If you’re lucky, those are the ONLY muscles that will loosen up when you laugh.

I made someone pee her pants, today.

I’m actually quite proud of myself. Oh, I’m not pleased that this woman had to spend the rest of her workday afloat in seas of brine! Certainly not! I truly feel BAD that she had to field questions from her co-workers like, ‘Did someone bring a baby in here?’ and ‘Do you smell soggy diapers?' I’m quite distressed that she had to spread a garbage bag on the seat of her SUV for the drive home from her office. It’s terrible that she had to go into the store on her way there for a gallon of milk and a box of Depends. And I’m terrifically upset that she was wearing a beige skirt rather than something dark-colored which would have hidden a damp stain! Certainly, I’m not happy about ANY of those things.

Certainly not!

And yet, I still find it hilarious! Every time I think about the fact that she actually LAUGHED SO HARD SHE WET HERSELF, I go off on a round of giggles! When I picture the woman who shares her office crinkling her nose and looking into her garbage can for a used, disposable diaper, I start in with renewed snorts. Imagining my friend sidling past shoppers in the market so that she wouldn’t present them with the back of her sodden skirt causes my sides to ache.

It’s not funny, but it is hysterical!

And geez, I don’t know about my friend, but I sure feel better, now!

Of course, it’s not always appropriate to laugh. And naturally, when it’s NOT fitting, that’s when we feel the strongest urge to guffaw until we gag.

On November 27th, I will be performing a ‘stand-up’ comedy routine in a local tavern to benefit charity. I love to make people laugh, but I am NOT a comedian, and so this prospect scares the dickens out of me. And trust me when I tell you…I have good reason to be scared!

You see…I’ve done this before.

In March of 2001, I was asked to entertain the public at this very same tavern--only that time, the event was to benefit my small, hometown library in New Portland, Maine. I was to read portions of a manuscript I’d written titled, No, I’m not Pregnant, I’m just Fat (But Thanks So Much for Asking!) And that’s just what I did. I stood on stage and read select portions from my little, unpublished book…and the crowd of nearly 100 went wild. To my amazement, they LOVED it! I had them falling out of their chairs, they laughed so hard! I’m still dumbfounded when I think about what a success that evening was.

To my surprise and delight, the owner of a bar up north in Stratton heard about the event, and she asked me if I would come to the plaza and do the very same thing. Riding high on the triumph of that night, I said yes. Of course I would come! I was a rising star!

I was the Big Dip, and there are no two ways around it.

What the proprietor neglected to tell me was that my ‘act’ would directly follow another. I arrived at the establishment, ready and raring to go. Inside the lobby, I noticed that the swinging doors to the pub were closed. But emanating from behind those doors were the sounds of raucous laughter and enthusiastic applause!

‘Excellent!’ I thought. ‘Someone is warming them up for me!’ The bouncer told me that the first show was almost over, and he invited me to sit on the sofa to await my turn on the stage. I did as I was told. I looked around for something to read, but all there was on the coffee table was the local telephone directory. It was no big deal, really. Instead of reading a magazine, I opened my manila folder and once again looked over my manuscript. The manuscript I’d written about being fat.

All of a sudden, the doors to my right swung open and a stampede of approximately forty men poured through. Leading those men were two women. Two naked women. Well, I should be precise, shouldn’t I? Those ladies most certainly were NOT naked. They were bedecked in g-strings, pasties, and high heels.

Nope. Not naked, at all.

I just about had a cow!

Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against nakedness! We Lexingtonites run around naked all the time! But never, and I repeat, NEVER would we be caught in the nude in high heels. It simply isn’t done! Rubber boots for when we’re mucking out the stalls, sneakers when we’re mowing the fields--but never, ever heels!

Holy smokes…

Well, of course, I was immediately nervous. I looked at the wall behind me and saw the poster I’d overlooked. A bachelor party! That made sense! These women were strippers! No wonder the crowd had sounded so enthusiastic!!

And now that the show was over, they weren’t content to let the ladies leave. They crowded round them, practically falling over my feet and their own as they tried to get their phone numbers, tried to book them for ‘private’ parties…it was all quite ridiculous, really.

All that commotion over high heels! Pfft!

Well, I was completely overlooked. No matter that I, too, was a woman! It was apparent that those two girls were in a league of their own. I couldn’t compete for that male attention. No way! I had sturdy combat boots on, for Pete’s sake, not stilettos! While I wore a ‘C’ cup, I would never, ever fit into a size ‘G’ string! And the closest I’ve ever come to wearing pasties was the time I had atrial fibrillation and was hooked up to an electrocardiogram machine. And that time…well, those ‘pasties’ simply weren’t positioned in a seductive way, that’s all! Wires sprouting from metal nodules didn’t have the same effect as dangling tassels…I was sure of it!

I picked up the telephone book. I mean, those girls were standing with their alphabetized floss directly at eye-level! As curious as I was as to what-all good it did and where exactly it disappeared to, I couldn’t stare. That would be rude! And so…I pretended to be engrossed in the Yellow Pages. Never have I looked like such a dipstick! I smiled politely when one beefy, red-faced man tripped over my glossy black boots and landed in my lap in his attempt to get near enough to one of the dancers to give her switch a toggle. I scuttled sideways as another gent realized I had the best view in the house, and he plopped his sweaty bum next to mine.

I was completely and totally out of my element!!! Embarrassed, uncomfortable, at a loss with what to do or say. Seriously…what kind of conversation could I hold? I couldn’t talk about the weather, because it was COLD, and I was NOT going there! And the scenery? My view consisted of an intricate shaving pattern displayed three feet in front of my eyes. Oh, and a tiny little mole.

Holy cow! I wanted my mommy!

And then, I was saved. The owner of the bar, my friend, appeared at my shoulder. She invited me inside. She had the bouncer hustle the girls to their changing room, and she escorted the wild and wooly men back into the saloon. They watched the starlets forlornly as they were led away, and then grudgingly returned to their seats.

And in moments, I was on!

Can you picture the scene, at all? Can you imagine my discomfort? Here I was, frumpy Karen, dressed in bulky sweater, heavy jeans and thick-soled boots…and what was I doing??? I was talking about the trials and tribulations of being FAT to forty sexually turned on, recently turned down men! Oh, and three women. I don’t know if they were turned on or not…I simply noticed that there were ONLY THREE WOMEN in the whole audience!!

Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!

Nobody laughed. Not one person clapped. Even when I got to the parts which had made my first audience SCREAM…not a single soul made a peep. I could smell the frustration, feel the annoyance and hear the disappointment. Even, the disgust.
I mean, get real!!! They’d just been entertained by dancing, sashaying, tasseled, stringed beauties in high heels who offered lap dances, and I was cracking jokes about being FAT!!!


Never, not once in my life, have I been so humiliated. I wanted to die! Those thirty minutes that I forced myself to stand there on stage comprised the most agonizing, excruciating mental torture I have ever endured. And when I finally got out of there…when I finally reached the safety of my truck and slammed the door shut, I swore I would never, not in a million years EVER, put myself though that again! There was no force on earth that could compel me to stand up in front of strangers and open myself up to that kind of humiliation, again.

Have I mentioned…I’m doing a stand-up comedy show for charity on November 27th?

Yeah…that’s says a lot about my gene pool, doesn’t it?

But, you see…something happened. Something wonderful. That strong force I just swore that had no power? Well, it does. Laughter has a power that is beyond reckoning. I closed that truck door, turned the key in the ignition, shifted into first gear, and before that vehicle pulled out onto Route 27, I was laughing my ass off. I was crying, giggling, screaming with hilarity. Oh, my God!!! I could see myself from the perspective of those forty men. Who needs a cold shower when you have Karen Pease? Got the horn on? Aw, just stick her in front of a mike and see what THAT does for you! Instant deflation! Bromide with boobs!

Oh, my God!

The distance from Stratton to my home in Lexington is almost forty miles. On those snowy spring roads, in the dark of night, it took me more than an hour to get home. And I cackled every single mile, every single minute of it! And by the time I reached the peaceful security of my little homestead, I was okay! More than okay…I knew that that painful, horrendous experience had great value and huge potential. I could just imagine how many others would get a chuckle from that event as they lived it vicariously through me. Sure, it was awful! But it was also funnier than hell.

Laughter. It’s a gift, it’s a tonic, it’s a life-saver. It is truly the best medicine there is. Laughter’s side-effects? An occasional pulled muscle in your side. A load of creases and crinkles in your face. And a lightness of spirit, a hope for the future, and yes... a rare wetting of your pants.

Have I mentioned, I’m performing a stand-up comedy routine for charity on November 27th? I invite you to come out and laugh with me.

And just in case...bring your Depends.

The show mentioned above is to benefit Alzheimers Association (Maine Chapter) and Franklin Home Health Care. All proceeds will be donated in Jack and Alison Ramsay's names.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Daring to Disagree, Debating with Delight

Well, another voting day in America draws to a close. In a few short hours, even the polls on the west coast will lock their doors, and the ballots cast will be counted. Every state, every community, has faced different issues. Each region’s ballot is distinct. Some states’ residents were choosing governors. Many had to decide how to spend their tax monies. Others were deciding social and moral issues. Still more had new laws to vote for--or against, or already existing edicts to repeal--or not.

It is, in my opinion, the gravest responsibility for each citizen--this opportunity to have a say in how our homeland is governed, how our money is managed, and what our society is like. We have a duty to make each individual voice count. People have died, and are dying, to preserve the right for each single man and woman to have a say.

But as serious as this responsibility is, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it! I am a girl (oh, fine! A woman! Sheesh…) who loves to have a good time. I like to debate--politely and respectfully, of course—on pertinent issues that affect our lives. I absolutely LOVE to engage in an intelligent discussion when all parties are not in agreement. That is, I believe, one of the biggest privileges we Americans can lay claim to. We can disagree without suffering a parting of ways. We can speak in comfort, and listen with deference. We can completely oppose our friends’ views, our family’s, our neighbors’, and—most times—we are still welcomed into the fold. Because we’re equals, you see. We each have one vote. And if we don’t like the way one of our compatriots is going to cast his ballot, we have this wonderful opportunity to hurry to the polls and cancel it out!

What fun!

I’ve had several conversations today with loved ones whose views on certain issues were contrary to mine. From my own perspective, I think that is GREAT. I love the fact that we don’t all agree. We are each products of different things…our upbringing, our experiences and our relationships all mold us into the adults we are, today. And no doubt, we will be different adults when the next election day rolls around. That’s the nature of this beast called ‘life’.

One gentleman—loved, respected and more aggravating than any one gentleman has the right to be--took an oppositional stance to how I intended to vote today on Question Five on our Maine Ballot. Question Five reads thus: Do you want to change medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?

I told this gent that I had it in mind to vote ‘yes’.

Jumping Joints, Jehosophat! You would have thought I’d just smuggled in a pound of pot and hidden it in his humidor! It was like I’d suddenly become the plague! He visibly shied away from me, and his face grew dark with color. His eyebrows disappeared under the brim of his Cabella’s cap, and his lips formed into an expression of disgust that was half-sneer, and half snarl.

‘What the hell’s happened to YOU???’

Good question, that. What HAS happened to me?

Well, for one thing, I’ve realized the value of listening. I’ve discovered that very few things are black and white. That there are plusses and minuses in most equations, and a bit of positive and negative in each charged issue. Most fundamental, is this truth:

I am sometimes WRONG.

And even though this wonderful guy taking umbrage at my voting intention is several years my senior, he hasn’t yet reached that state of enlightenment. This fellow, believe it or not, is ALWAYS right! Every single time! Without fail! Even when he’s WRONG, it’s because someone else screwed up…and if they hadn’t, he would have been proven--once again--to be the undefeated champion of the positively precise, always accurate, totally true and completely correct!

Have I mentioned that he is one of the very few people on this earth who has the power to make me steam? Cause me to want to pull my hair out? Generate the desire to shriek and rend my clothes?

Ah, but that was ‘back in the day’. Not so, anymore. Because I’m an adult, now. I’m mature. I’m mellow. I’m unflappable…

Consecrated Clips, Cannibas! He drives me NUTS!!!

What this esteemed chap immediately assumed was that I’d gone over to the dark side. That I’d defected. Tossed aside all good common sense, all moral standing. That I was now of a mind to promote and encourage the illicit use of drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, hashish…you name it. Laxatives, diet pills, caffeine. I was going to vote ‘yes’ and send America to the dogs. Not only that, he informed me with conviction, but if I ever, EVER wrote publicly that I was going to vote in favor of this Citizen’s Initiative, I could kiss my writing career goodbye. I’d be done. Washed up. Old hat. The scourge of the literary world, and a disappointment to my fans.

And nothing I could say would change his mind.

He didn’t want to hear my reasoned opinions. Wasn’t going to listen to my claims. Didn’t care that I’d done research, read articles, given the matter much time and attention. Couldn’t care less that I’d agonized over my decision. He took no notice of my views regarding the irrational fear of this natural remedy, or why it should be treated like any other medicine made available to the ill or suffering. He wasn’t interested in my hope that, by legalizing the herb and making its prescribed use controlled, its currently mostly-unimpeded cultivation might actually decrease. I certainly am NOT in favor of any drug use that is not prescribed by a qualified expert for a viable health issue. But I could not convince this certain male of that. Nuh-uh. No way, no how. I have fallen from grace. And when he couldn’t convince me, compel me, browbeat me into changing my mind…he left in a huff.

Merciful Meds, Marijuana! That man gets my goat!

Oh, what fun!!!

See…this is what it’s all about. The old goat who gets my goat will still love this kid when the sun rises, tomorrow. If the vote goes his way, his love will be glorious, beaming, all-encompassing. He will be ear-to-ear smiles. Happy as a clam. As laid back as…well, let’s not go there. Suffice it to say, my fellow will be on the top of the world.

And I will NEVER hear the end of it.

If he is on the ‘losing’ side, he’ll be surly. That’s a given. But he’ll not be beaten. He’ll not admit defeat. Because he’ll know that there is always next year. Another chance to change the laws. One more opportunity to right a wrong, fix the country, restore the moral fiber of this promised land. Because, of course, his way is the right way. One hundred percent, every time, all the time. RIGHT.

Geez, I love that old curmudgeon.

And I absolutely adore living in a nation where we can disagree as individuals, and still remain whole as one American family.

Happy Election Day!

The above photos were taken today at my local voting station, an old one-room schoolhouse up 'the mountain' in Highland Plantation. I asked, and received, permission before taking the interior shots. (Can you pick out this author's ride to the polling station? Hint: I love men who love cats...)

And the winner is....It CAN'T be!!!!!

But it is!!!!

That Clever Captionistro, Ali g!!!

My judge received all the entries without names. They were numbered, only. She's never read my blog. (What ails that woman, anyway?) And she's never heard of Ali g.

And yet...and yet, she chose his entry as her very favorite for my photo to the right.

What talent, what raw, unadulterated TALENT that man has! Three for three! Holy moly, what a man!

So, Ali g... who shall I be writing this most excellent poem for? The lovely wife? The favored cat? Or, do I get to choose? Hehe. This will be fun!

Congratulations, my friend. (You REALLY should have bet on that horse race, yesterday! $120 million up for grabs!!!)

Oh, Ali g!

The above photo is of Tigger, relaxing after a long day of bossing Ali g around.