Lawlessness and Order

Jul 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM
Around here, there isn't much law. And not a lot of the kind of orderly constructs city folk are used to.

If something happens to me on my own property, there isn't really anyone to come help me - sherrifs would come out if someone died and investigate it, but calling 911 is absolutely pointless out here.

If there is a fire, I'm outside the Rural Fire District.

I can't get fancy services you're all used to like cable TV, fancy internet services, cell phone service, or even many regular telephone services like caller ID and voicemail.

I live in the true boonies.

But there is something that you don't realize you're missing there in the city. Neighbourly interdependence.

My neighbors and I have a system of communicating to one another to come help if there is an emergency, and no surprise here - it involves shooting firearms off in a pattern. The fallback is of course to call one another by phone. But without call waiting and call forwarding, and with how much time we all spend out of doors, those are less trustworthy than bullets. Shots can be heard by everyone at once, whether they're near their phone or not. And the message is instant and urgent.

Whenever shots resound, I listen up. I've learned to recognize the difference between urgent fire and simply playing around. All of us each go shooting at different times for different needs - plinking or hunting or testing sights on new rifles, etc.

I personally don't choose to hunt, but my neighbors do, and I can't fault them - they actually use the animals they kill. I've eaten legally hunted bear, elk, deer, etc, that my neighbors have given me.

Because I have real neighbors. I stop by their houses and they stop by mine. We all know we are one another's fallback in times of need, and we all know that we will be there if someone falls sick, or needs a ride to the store, or has a fire to put out, or simply needs someone to water their plants while they're out of town.

When we make pies, we always make extra to bring a neighbor or two. I always have a beer or two around in case one particular neighbor stops by. It's welcome wagon all the time around here.

So today, after several years here, my heart no longer leaps into my throat when I hear gunfire. I know the difference in the reports made by ten or so different weapons. I hear a gunshot, and I can tell you whether it was my farthest away neighbor with his automatic rifles, my nearest neighbor with his .22 rifles, his shotgun or .45s, and I can tell you whether it was the mountain man up the far hill with his .38 or his ancient shotgun. I can tell when these are shots fired for fun or at an animal or similar threat. And I call on the neighbor that needs calling on by phone if there is any doubt in my mind.

So today, as I write this, I am listening to the rumbling endless thunder of distant automatic rifle fire. I love that sound. it's the sound of a lawless, orderly, friendly, law-abiding place where all neighbors know each other and recognize that we are all friends. Sure there are oddballs here, but I trust every one of these people with our safety. We are too interdependent NOT to.

I truly don't miss the kind of gunfire you hear in cities. In such cramped quarters, guns tend to mean someone has been violent toward another or is defending themselves against violent action. And that is a thought that has always torn me up. My first instinct is to run toward gunfire, toward the sound of ambulances, run to help, to stop injustice, to aid the wounded. So being a city person is seriously a bummer for me. That is not simply frowned upon there, it's even occassionally against the rules.

Hunting doesn't happen in the city, and space issues keep you all from plinking. No, guns are solely useful for personal defense weapons in the city. But for that they remain amazingly well suited. I know I'd be dead a few times over if I wasn't a concealed weapons permit holder.

I have a feeling that along with the other vast differences between city and country life, one very critical reason that the use of firearms HERE is so different from the use of firearms there, is that when you live in the city, you delegate your own personal safety and security, your neighborliness and your support system, to government run services or civil servants.

You lose something powerfully strong when you stop thinking of your neighbors as decent individuals and start thinking of them as a threat or an unknown worry.

While I'm not knocking civil servants, and the services they do provide, delegation of your own protection to people you don't even know is a truly foolish thing to do.

Especially in light of response times -- if you are going to be a victim of a violent crime, the police simply statistically CANNOT get there in time to protect you worth a darn. They are cleanup and investigation when that happens, not prevention.

Prevention is you and your neighbors. Prevention is being certain you know your surroundings and can be in control of them. Prevention is awareness.

What kind of idiot goes out of his way to commit a violent crime in an area where it's well known everyone has at LEAST one defensive weapon per household. Yes, there are wacked out druggies around here. No, they don't approach our area. Not sure why, perhaps it's because this ranch and it's surrounding ranches are all known to be run and lived on by good, honest, hardworking folks.

Basically what I have is a true neighborhood watch, a true network of people who watch out for one another. Everyone is armed. Everyone is trustworthy. And that to me is priceless, and I realize the paucity of such in this country now. There really are only a few pockets of old-time America left. And I live in one.

And I trust it more than I ever trusted any of my city services. Plus it's free. And it works. We nearly NEVER have a crime commited out here.

There is something to be said for not delegating that which you can manage just fine on your own.

Piano Forte

Jul 28, 2009 at 2:17 AM
Aurora's skill with the piano has been improving dramatically lately.

I love to hear her improvising, gaining certainty, skill, playing Fur Elise or her favorite Rondino.

She even taught a few pieces to Harley while he was visiting.

I am glad. Also glad that it was without any poking or prodding. I hate it when parents try to turn their kids into something inappropriate, something totally unlike them. It just makes me happy when the girls do something artistic and from the heart.

So my cockles are all warmed up today from that. Very sweet.

It inspired me to sit and play for a minute. I did so, I played Bach and Handel, and a little Chopin. I forget, when I get all wrapped up in work, how much a simple 20 minutes of piano or drawing means to me.

How very much I need that moment of certain beauty that occurs just after the accomplishment of a piece and before the resonating strings within the wooden heart of the beast have ceased humming.

To me, every piano is a body suspended in sharp lack of a soul, achingly empty and waiting unknowningly to be brought to life by a practiced hand, for that delicate, aesthetic touch to bring forth what was always waiting to be born from within.

So when I must visit any place where a piano sits unmanned, unattended, and unavailable for playing, it brings a sense of loss, or futility and waste that hurts me in an urgent, foolishly strong way.

Last time I was at a fancy new hotel, I wandered into the marble lobby, with beautiful cornices, polished brass workings, and a lovely sitting area. And as I turned to look up the steps to the mezzanine, I saw the piano was there, a gorgeous baby grand, black, sleek, obviously in perfect condition and new. It was in the perfect spot for acoustically itting every part of that brilliant room.

A hush fell over my world and all outside noise drifted away. I knew exactly what piece I would play on this beauty.

And when I walked over to it, and began to lift the cover from the keys, I saw I could not budge it. There was a lock literally closing it like a vice to keep people like me from playing it.

You might as well place a canvas and brushes in your lobby - behind steel bars.

I was horribly dissappointed.

Does it seem as horribly rude to you as it does to me? Why provide a piano and refuse its beauty to the people who would play?

No matter how bad it gets, it can always get worse.

Jul 27, 2009 at 1:02 AM
Think if the expectations of tourists on the people who live in this town...

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Ornery Cuss

Jul 24, 2009 at 1:06 AM

Saturday morning, I wake up to find my lawn littered with the old men left over when all the young and fit ones have wandered off to either big cities or big dreams.

7 men, varying ages and sizes, poking around my yard, with four or five vehicles in various states of being moved around.

I walked out and said "If I'da known every man in the county was coming to my house, I'd have fixed myself up a little." Got a smile out of the ranch foreman, a strange stare out of Mike, and a chuckle out of some old coot I'd never met.

Frank (aforementioned foreman) told me they were moving out a few vehicles that Mike wanted (hello to Mike, nice to see you again, Mike waves and stares some more - not because he's interested, it's just rare to see a single person of the opposite sex around here and I think he feels obliged) before the scrap guy (absent wave hello to Scrap Guy, nice to meet you) grabs up all the scrap on the property on Monday morning.

My eyes say I'm mad no one warned me, and my attention hasn't wandered from Frank.

Oh, there somebody coming to pick up the scrap on Monday? Everything?

Yup. Just about, well, near everything. 'Cept these here cars. We're getting them out of your way now. Frank spits, scoots a foot along the ground. Meant to tell ya. They'll be here bright and early. Ish. Monday Mornin.

Holds his suspenders between missing fingers, skims his hands along the elastic. Plants his feet. Looks at me sidelong, waiting for the response.

Frank you gotta give me some warning when you're bringing the cavalry by. Id'a made coffee or something.

Listen, he says, I told your dad. Pulls down his cap. He sounds indignant that I'm asking him to warn me of company, but I can tell he feels bad about it because there's more shuffling of feet, which is what Frank does when I've said something he concedes to.

More men spitting and scratching and standing around old beat up cars, and scratching their beards, absently doing what they and their grandfathers and their grandfathers have been doing forever. Sliding fingers over suspenders, digging oil out from between fingernail and callous. Not even realizing how very very much they look the part they're playing. And mostly thinking about ways to tow the lumps of metal that are dubiously labeled as cars laying all over the back of the property back down the road to wherever they were taking them to either let them finish rusting or try to fix them up.

Chains and ropes getting hooked onto or lashed around bumpers in haphazard avant-garde disregard for symmetry or much more than keeping the car, the bumper and the wheels on the road. No red warning ribbons, no tiedowns or real hookups. No need. Staying on gravel backroads all the way there.

Any truly local man worth his snuff knows how to get all the way to any town within a few hundred miles all on gravel backroads and old logging trails.

I wandered back into the house.

Not a backwards glance at the first gathering of males I've seen in months. I know better. I spend ten minutes talking to any one of those men, half the county will have me engaged by next week. Only one in there within 30 years of my age or presumably untethered is Mike, and I'm friends with his ex and know HIS story. Not going there. Besides, rumor or no, I'm not interested even if he was charming. Even with the slim pickins around here I'm too picky choosy for my own good.

But dammit, just cause we're the only two single people under 50 years old, 300 pounds within five miles of here doesn't automatically match us up no matter how many old women subtlely beat me over the head with the idea.

So that gave me Sunday to get all the bits of scrap laying around the property over to the heap. If I had scrap to add to the pile. Which needed thinking on.

So on Sunday, I had discovered actually a heck of a lot of random metal laying around. I got everything I found laying around the yard (by which I mean about as much property as the average city park) into the pile, tons of old bits of logging tools that probably rightly belongs in a museum if they weren't rusting into flakes. I could move everything except a great big honking semi circle thing that looked like a toothless bear trap for the biggest bear you ever saw. Made of a solid HUGE thick piece of iron, probably before I was born. Heavier than my fridge.

It didn't want to budge.

I picked it up by the part that would hurt (if it were a bear trap which it wasn't) and lugged it about six inches before I realized I needed better shoes. Difficult rocky incline between me and the scrap heap - which incidentally was sitting smack in the middle of what I usually considered my "driveway" but was temporarily a scrap sorting area. No, I guess I wasn't planning on heading to town, but thanks for asking. I sighed and wandered into the house.

I got better shoes, came back out to the back field, picked up this giant iron horseshoe/beartrap/railroading/logging tool and started cussing very loudly. That's how I give myself a pep talk.

Six inches off the ground and my elbows aching already. If I sort of lifted and tipped myself sideways I'd fall over a little that way and the thing was moved a few more inches. Somestimes a few feet.

Cussed all the way about 60 yards to the scrap heap, stumbling and heaving and swearing up a storm.

Got the darn thing into the heap, or at least alongside it. Couldn't have lifted it to put it on top of anything else even if I knew all the sailors' language there is.

Frank came over and saw what I'd moved and was impressed.

His reward for doing the heavy lifting on that was to say, I'll get that spare dryer out of the way for you.

Thanks Frank.

Aw, t's'nothin. Rubs grease on pants, walks away cussing at his dog.

Monday, I looked down and saw that I gave myself a hell of a lot of dangerous looking yellow bruises all over my legs.

Today, they're working on turning greenish-blue. Every time I look at them, I can't help but break out in a prideful grin.

I beat the big piece of metal. It may look like I lost that fight, but I definitely won. That's right. Which one of us is it that is crammed into the country wrecking yard? That's right, it ain't me.

Plus I have only one dryer now, and that's a good thing. Means there's somewhere to put the next few years of scrap.

Economics Basics

Jul 23, 2009 at 2:02 AM
An economics professor at a local college recently made a statement that he while had never failed a single student before,
he has now failed an entire class.

It seems the class was insistent that Obama's agenda, specifically his commitment to quasi-socialist policies (the “spread the wealth around” concept) would inevitably and undoubtedly work – that, once it took full effect, no one would be “poor” and no one would be “rich” – that in fact his policies would prove to be a great equalizer.

The professor promptly proposed to the students that the class perform an experiment based on Obama's stated plans for the country.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail. Of course that also meant no one would receive an A either.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were quite happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D.

No one was happy.

When the 3rd test took place and the scores were presented, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that Obama’s agenda (i.e, socialism) would also ultimately fail because when the opportunity for substantial reward is great, the associated effort to succeed is equally great, but when government takes all the most desirable rewards away, no one will succeed, or even try.

Couldn’t be any simpler than that.

If somebody is unable to understand THIS explanation, then no explanation will suffice.

As the late Adrian Rogers said, "you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Pass it on.


Thanks to my friend LickNister for passing this one on. I hope the original source will contact me to tell me who to credit.

Basics of Humanity and Rights

Jul 18, 2009 at 12:48 AM

Why do I support human rights?

Because in times of desperate need, everyone has what it takes to become the hero or the villian, and that has nothing to do with age, race, religion, gender or sexual preference.

Because you and I may one day need to get help from each other, and if you believe in any kind of endless existence (the afterlife, reincarnation) then burning our bridges or diminishing another's power is pointless and silly.

Because the most basic of human urges, even greater than the urge toward sex or food, even greater than personal survival is the urge to help all our fellows. Why not act on it? It feels wonderful.

Because if you stamp on people they will stamp back, regardless of skin, religion, age, gender, or sexual preference.

Because in all the universe there is nothing more precious or powerful than the company of friends and loves, communication and art. If you curb that, you stomp on a piece of yourself as well.

Because a truly enlightened being wouldn't do it.

Because all spiritual people are the same: if a person is wonderful, then their life is wonderful, light, beautiful. If a person is black with jealousy or greed, then their space is black, regardless of any other differences.

Because happiness depends on helping your fellows along as much as yourself.

Because I love diverse cultures, and wish to respect all people for their amazing beauty in their own unique way.

Because believing yourself to be worth more than everyone not exactly like you is arrogant.

Because good and evil cannot be decided on anything other than a personal basis. There is no blanket of good or evil that falls over an entire swath of humanity.

Today is Human Rights Day. Act on it.

To sleep perchance to dream

Jul 2, 2009 at 11:43 AM
I have begun sleeping in the center of the bed again, like a child.

Although for years I held out, hoping there was someone in my future with designs on the right side of my bed, I find I sleep in the center again, splayed out like a dreaming youth. Sleeping the deep sleep of contentment.

I don't know whether it helps my sleep, but it certainly won't make me a better bedfellow if and when that fabled man shows up.

Oh well.

Dashed Magic

Jul 1, 2009 at 1:20 AM
An hour ago, I was visited by two hovering hummingbirds.

A few inches from my face, they hovered and tipped their heads to the side in choreographed unison. Like UFOs or synchronized swimmers.

Together they'd have fit into my cupped palm. Their little hearts beat so fast as to make you primaly certain there is a threat around, it raises the pulse and quickens the breath just to watch them.

Pale brown, with glinting sunburned gold in the wings and a scarlet bowtie splashed across their chests. They ducked and swooped up to my face.

As they visited with my eyelashes, I shushed the person I was on the phone with. I was enthralled. Oh, sweet precious communion with nature!

And then I realized. The hummingbird feeder is empty. They just came over to tell me to get off the dang phone and go fill it back up with their precious crack nectar.