Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The following was sent to me by my former classmate, Dottie (Bishop) Rogers. Dottie lost two sisters this past winter, both passing away on the same day. As if that were not shock enough, less than six months later I got an email that Dottie's dear sweet husband Grady had died from complications of shingles. He had been battling more than one ailment, including skin cancers, for a long time and his system just couldn't take anymore. Dottie's strong faith has seen her through many tragic losses through the years, and she remains a happy, fun-loving woman. I want to share what she recently wrote to me -- proof that for some people, 70 is the new 60 -- or even 50! She wanted me to assure our mutual friends that she is doing well, and planning to move back to Arizona to be near her children and grandchildren. The townhouse she is considering is on a golf course! One of Dottie's favorite activities used to be golf. Now she can take that up again... and I'm certain she will! You can pretend the eye patch is part of your Halloween costume this year, Dottie! Ahoy there, mate! (But here's wishing you a speedy recovery.)

"I just returned from a lengthy trip to New Jersey to be with my only remaining sister (the oldest of our clan of 5 girls) on her 86th birthday. My trip .. was a hoot! From my quiet little village of Midland, Texas I was thrust into a large Italian family, fed pasta for at least ten more pounds on my already plump body, was in two large traffic jams in Manhattan, gambled in Atlantic City and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, danced the night away in a sports bar where my nephew's band was playing, and was attacked by a lovable pit bull in the middle of the night when my door was left ajar. Scared me to death! But...he was only interested in licking lotion from my arms and giving me a kiss goodnight. They all scream, yell, drink, and eat but are a wonderful full family that cares deeply for my sis and her husband (age 90) who are the monarchs. I returned home on Monday with a full blown case of Bell's Palsy. The left side of my face is paralyzed and I must wear an eye patch because I cannot blink that eye. Just call me Captain Hook!!! I'll survive, but I won't allow any pictures...

I reread your blog and it was wonderful, as usual. I had to laugh because just over my desk is a picture of John Nance Garner and my husband's grandfather at a Democratic rally in Greenville, Texas, when he was stumping for President Roosevelt. It is great, with the sacks of grain and homemade sign saying "DEMOCRATIC HEADQUARTERS". Grady's grandfather was the representative from Hunt County during the 30s. Small world, huh?"
I wish to thank everyone who responded to a couple of the recent blog posts. The short story drew lots of good, constructive comments that I forwarded to my friend, the author. She said they really helped her a lot. I'm hoping she will submit that story or write something new to be published soon. I will inform you when that happens.

Most of the Scooby Doo responders were pretty adamant that I was not going to be able to do much about the Great Danes other than turn my neighbors in to Animal Control, or as Vince suggested, I could do as a character in one of his favorite books did to a dog who was killing his livestock. I could shoot it and bury the body in my back yard! (The book was Hardscrabble Times, I think. I tried to check it out at our library - just to see how the rancher handled it, but they didn't have a copy.) Needless to say, this advice is my least favorite, but there is a funny coincidence here... the neighbor's husband's name is Vince as well.

Someone else suggested I "make friends" with the dogs by giving them dog biscuits. Not only would that encourage them to come "visiting" more often, but I don't think their digestive systems need more to dispose of! I did find that if I can get to the water hose in time, when I see Jade in my yard, just the sight of the hose makes her run home! She hates water! The sweet little wife, who does most of the cleaning up after the dogs, told me they were going to fence the yard. We'll see. In the meantime, Piper (above) spent a miserable weekend with rain making a giant mud puddle of her pen and the tin roof leaked water into her little shelter. I was on the verge of calling someone, when the neighbors came home and let her out to dry off on a covered porch.
As for the killing of animals and the mounting of trophies, I got a lot of sympathetic replies, but no answers that were really suitable for publishing or telling my grandson. A couple of them might explain it to him somewhat, but I feel he will have to be much older than his 11 years to understand that some folks take great pride in showing off what they have killed. For this type of hunter it's like saying, "Look at this great big scary bear (or mountain lion, etc.) I killed. Doesn't this make me big and powerful in your eyes?" (Thanks to Jack for that observation.) And one that surprised me was from another former classmate, Jimmy, who wrote about one of the football players in high school catching a bobcat, getting pretty torn up in the process, and swearing he was going to tame it. According to Jimmy, this guy did it "to impress the girls!"

That reminds me of the one and only "coon hunt" I was taken on while in high school. This was a group of FFA boys and their dates. The "hunt" was led by their AG teacher. I was as excited as everyone when the dogs started baying and racing through the mesquite woods, indicating they had a raccoon on the run. We seemed to run after them forever, finally ending up with the dogs having treed the raccoon. As I caught up with the chaotic, noisy bunch of dogs and boys, I saw the raccoon in the tree. It was terrified, and I immediately felt sorry for it. I asked what they were going to do next. When I was told that the dogs would be allowed to kill it, I wanted to go home -- NOW! I started crying and I did not stay to view the "kill". It all seemed so unfair and cruel to me. As I got older and read about fox hunts, I felt I had participated in something cruder, but similar... and it was definitely not for me! I did not consider it a "sport" at all. I don't think I ever went out on a date with that boy again. For that matter, he probably never asked me!

As I remember stories such as this from my youth, I wonder if I passed on something in the gene pool to my children and grandchildren who are not into killing animals. But then again, I think the consciousness of the planet is being raised bit by bit. A kindler, gentler human race? I hope so. I see some indications of this, don't you?

If you'd like to make a comment, just go to the end of this post and click on "comments".

Peace and love,

Thursday, October 8, 2009


(This one is for my grandchildren.)

While in Dallas for my sister's memorial last month, my son Matthew wanted us all to go to dinner with his best friend from junior high school and his family. We loaded up in two cars and met them at a restaurant Matt had heard had excellent food. Upon entering the restaurant's foyer, we came face-to-belly button with a stuffed grizzly like the one above. It was HUGE - at least 8 feet tall. I was first in line and as I stumbled past it and took a step up into the restaurant, I saw that the walls were covered in stuffed animal trophies of all kinds. I turned to look behind me and noticed my grandson Tanner was visibly upset, and trying to keep from looking at the walls. His mom Carajean was trying to console him. It took a moment for it to register with me that he was upset about all the animals people had killed. This is my tender-hearted little vegan, who probably has never been exposed to any kind of killing or violence in his life. If he has, it might have been on a video game or TV show -- make-believe. The dinner was ruined for some of us, and Tanner didn't eat a bite. As we left, I held on to him and told him to do nothing but look at the floor where he put his feet until we were outside. Later, I wished I had had the presence of mind to try to explain why people put "trophies" up. Then I realized that I didn't have a good explanation. Why do people continue to hunt animals and display them? This Grandmama came up with the following story by piecing together what little I know about evolution and the history of mankind.

We all know of a time when man was forced to kill or be killed by the predators roaming the earth. Not only for the protection of his family and tribe, but for the food provided by the animals when there was no edible vegetation available. The pelts, of course, were also beneficial as clothing and bedding. Men were the hunters, protectors, providers. Women were the gatherers, nurturers, and child-bearers. These traits of males and females were ingrained in humans and remain so until the present time. Men were aggressive -- even war-like, by necessity. Now, though, we all agree that killing animals in the wild is not a necessity. So why do people do it?

I suppose the "killer instinct", or aggression, is still so ingrained in men that it must be released in some fashion. Some men accomplish this by playing contact sports. Others go to war to feel justified in killing. And then others hunt wild animals. I hear all kinds of reasons for hunting. Some say that the deer population would get so out of hand that many deer would starve if hunters didn't keep them killed off. Others tell me that the deer leases that so many ranchers now have allow them enough income to stay in the business of ranching when times are tough. Most of them have agreed with me that the ones who kill only for the "prize"... the huge rack from the deer... the stuffed head for their fireplace... those are the ones to be frowned on. Many mutilated deer were left by the side of the road in West Texas. Shot, their antlers cut off, then the body left to decompose. Now that's sad.

Men are notoriously competitive, and therefore, I believe that's why they want to hang their trophies from their kills for all to view. "Mine is bigger (or better or rarer or scarier) than yours!" Some people still stuff and mount the fish they catch. I was surprised when my son Matthew told me he had joined a bass fishing club in Austin a few years back. As a scuba diver, he learned to love the underwater creatures. When I expressed my surprise, he told me his fishing club was known as a CPR club. Catch, Photograph, and Release! Ahhh. Now that makes sense. If only we could somehow prove that the hooks don't hurt the fish when they are caught!

Come on, all you hunters and nonhunters! Help me out here. Give me more information to pass on to my grandchildren who don't believe in killing animals. Pros or cons.


Speaking of bears... When I was growing up, I was in awe of my maternal grandfather's second wife, Neva. She was a perfect match for my granddad.. a tough, brave lady. In his younger years, Granddad broke horses for the forest rangers in northern California, and was gone frequently. During one of his absences, the story goes, Neva killed a bear in their back yard, skinned it, and had bear steaks in the freezer when he returned! This story stuck with me, and when I was in my 40s, I wrote to Neva and asked her about it. I had always envisioned her protecting her little children against a "big monster" of a bear! I told her she was a heroine in my eyes all those years. She wrote back in typical Neva fashion, "Oh, Marilyn, it was just a little bear!!"

Granddad was 78 when these pictures were taken. She was the love of his life! It was a sure thing that he knew his family was safe with her tending the home fires.

May the grizzly in your life be "just a little bear"!