photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Letter 2014

I'm having a hard time getting ready for Christmas this year. Too busy, too stressed, too depressed by what's going on in the world at large. I'm stuck here at work awaiting delivery of a chest freezer so I typed up my annual holiday letter and that's when it happened, as it always happens every year. We're OK. The world at large may seem totally fucked up, but my little family is OK.

That sounds like a complete pile of ass-wipery because it sounds selfish and uncaring, but it's really not.

We're OK. Sometimes that's where you need to start from to even be able to move out of your mental hole and make a difference. Find the (sometimes tiny and seemingly insignificant) things that are OK in your life, hold tight to those as life preservers and go on and dive out into the rest of the mess.

People who have nothing to lose do desperate and sometimes foolish things. People who have everything to gain change the world.

It's almost 2015. Lets change the world.

Happy Holidays From the Dixons!

I can’t think of a way to open this without sounding trite or silly. Everyone has had a busy year. No one can believe 2014 is almost over. So, whatever. Here’s our ‘bringing ya’ll up to date holiday letter’. Ho ho ho.

Our big ‘thing’ this year was our annual road trip- and it was a doozy. Just shy of 7,400 miles north to Montana, west to Washington, south to Arizona and home. We saw everything on the way- everything. Three weeks of everything and it was glorious if exhausting. Pretty sure Alec took almost 2,000 photographs.

I passed my exam to be a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager- there are only about 400 CVPM’s and it’s kind of a big deal- I’m getting head-hunted from all over the country, which is very flattering for a chick who barely finished high school and is only 7 years away from retirement. I’m loathe to leave a job that allows for me to take three week vacations, though- even for more money.

Ward’s doing great- all his exams and scans continue to show ‘nothing of note in his head’. We love that result. He’s assumed most of the house and farm management since I’ve been taking college courses and studying for my exam.

Alec is finishing up 9th grade and is a solid A’s and a few B’s kinda student. His group of friends in Denton are again competing in the Future Problem Solvers program and they just took a three day field trip to participate in a workshop at Heifer International in Arkansas. He and his dog Bonnie have gone to some obedience and pre-agility classes and he still takes art and guitar lessons. Through the magic of layaway, he’s purchased a new steel string acoustic guitar and keyboard and now has his eyes set on an amp and electric guitar. Yay!

We lost Joe’s mom Edna in August. She was almost 95 and I miss her every day.

Joe continues to be one of the most popular authors in ‘mens adventure’ books on Amazon Kindle and he has a huge following of devoted fans.

We are still surrounded by fur and feathers- I finally got myself another ‘co-pilot sidekick’ dog- it’s been five years since I lost Spooj. Her name is Sorcha. She’s a uniquely beautiful blue-eyed red and white Border Aussie and she’s perfect.

Horse, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, various dogs, cats and of course the guinea pigs all present and accounted for. This year my pigs have won multiple best in show awards and did very well at Nationals. Yep, ridiculous.

Wishing only good adventures and the best of everything for all of you in 2015!

-the Dixons

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fun With E Mails

Ahhh...the chain e-mail. Such a great way to get a lot of people harumphing in agreement and indignation! Behold the following, which is usually accompanied by a photo of a hungry homeless white child- you know, an AMERICAN child.

In America - The Homeless go without eating.
In America - The Elderly go without needed medicines.
In America - The Mentally ill go without treatment.
In America - Our Troops go without proper equipment.
In America - Our Veterans go without benefits they were promised.
Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our own first.

Of course, the problem with this is what happens when you fill out the outrageous soundbites with facts.

In America- The homeless go without eating because time and again we vote against helping them; calling those who are homeless 'unmotivated' and 'just needing some gumption' and 'if we feed them they become dependent- we don't want to ENABLE them, do we?'

In America- The Elderly go without needed medicines because we have the most profit-motivated and unregulated pharmaceutical and insurance industries in the world

In America- The mentally ill go without treatment because St. Ronnie cut them all loose and "taking care of those folks would be nice, Sugar- but how will we PAY for it?" Also, see above re: enabling and motivation. If we just give the mentally ill a good kick in the drawers and a cheerful "Get over it!" they'll be FINE

In America- Our troops go without proper equipment because there is no fiscal oversight of the bloated military industrial complex that lines the pockets of Halliburton and Raytheon. Send one of Cheney's grandkids over yonder to the sandbox as a regular enlisted grunt and see how fast the troops get equipment

In America- Our Veterans go without benefits they were promised because we KEEP GOING TO WAR and make more and more broken men and women

Maybe, just maybe, 'Rose-colored Glasses Lefties' want fiscal responsibility even more than the Right- we want the money we have put where it's needed most and not GIVEN to those who already make more apiece than the average small town in America.

You can call that Socialism and rail against it. But the entire text in that 'patriotic' chain email reeks of socialism- garnering support for GOVERNMENT to help our own people.

Because in a perfect Conservative World, all those people mentioned? Should just get off their asses and fix their own lives instead of waiting for the NANNY STATE to take care of them.

Or is it only a Nanny State when it cares for people we don't think deserve it?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

When It's Not Fiction Anymore

There's this book that was written.

It's was written as one of those end-of-the-world, everything's-bad, we-need-a-hero sorta deals that also includes some paranormal activity and some pretty graphic scenes of physically intimate relations.

Except the end of the world wasn't brought about by foreign terrorists, or any sort of Liberal Gun Grab, or Literally Hitler come to life in the form of a brown guy who took all the money from rich people and gave it to unworthy (brown) poor people.

The end of the world was caused by an excess of the wrong kind of faith in the wrong kinds of things.

And by 'end of the world', I mean a slow, painfully avoidable rotting of the system from the top down and a society who has been taught that the best way to cure it is to cut out the healthy parts and throw them away.

Doubling down on ideology that will hurt them personally because they have been duped into believing the suffering of their fellow citizens is the unfortunate yet justified 'gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet' that will bring the country back from the brink, it all makes sense. Having faith in a God who celebrates those who suffer makes it easier to bear when it astonishingly becomes them personally facing a grim new reality of their own making. It's a perfect recipe for total dysfunction.

So everything is bad in the story, and it's because the wrong people are not only IN power, but get even more powerful when that element has the majority in all our top slots of government. Hey, look! We're almost there!

As of Tuesday...we're almost there.

So here's what I recommend.

I recommend reading this book. It's only 99 cents and a pretty quick read.

There's action, and guns, and a sexy chick who happens to also have some nifty witchy gifts and uses them to help other people. And give a few what they deserve.

Also zombies.

And a duck.

You know you need this after Tuesday.

Read it quick before it goes from being fiction to non-fiction.

And then lets get back to work. 2016 is right around the corner.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Three Little Words

There are three words that rule the universe, have the power to heal, to mend, to open doors and minds, that empower both the person uttering them as well as those within earshot.

Three little words.

"I was wrong."

"I was wrong" signals both an ending and a beginning. The end of stubbornness, selfishness, ego. The beginning of listening, empathy, growth.

"I was wrong" tells your partner you don't NEED to win every disagreement- you are a partnership and are vested in fairness, equality and love above any petty desire to be 'the one who knows better than'.

"I was wrong- please forgive me."

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- I love you."

"I was wrong tells your children that you are, in fact, only human and that they are, in fact truly human.

"I was wrong- please forgive me."

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- I love you."

"I was wrong" tells your co-workers or employees or boss that you're not perfect. And yanno what? No one really expects you to be.

"I was wrong- lets do it your way."

"I was wrong- help me figure out a better way to do this."

"I was wrong- and here's how I'm going to fix it."

"I was wrong" is the hardest (for me, anyway) when I'm faced with someone I don't usually agree with, maybe don't like very much, and who pretty much stands for everything I hate ideologically. But no ideology or practitioner of same is infallible. Not all my staunch beliefs can stand up under scrutiny. Because that's life. Things we are 'sure' we know turn upside down all the time.

When my first child was born, I was admonished to put her on her tummy to sleep- if she was on her back and she urped up, she'd drown in her urp and die.

When my second child was born, I was told to put him on his back to sleep- if he was on his tummy and got jammed into excess blankets in his crib he'd suffocate and die.

When my third child was born, I just laid him on his side and told him 'good luck'.

So stuff changes. Absolutes we take for granted turn out to be more opinion than fact. And even though it's safe and warm and fuzzy inside groups who only think like we do...isn't that the same thing we chide the 'other side' for? Staying cloistered and cozy in their own little echo chambers?

So I step out. It's pretty easy because in our immediate family we have wildly varying political viewpoints so 'stepping out' means walking 50 feet to Joe's house and having a cuppa coffee. And that's made a difference- for both of us.

When you're face to face with someone, it's harder to defend your superiority.

When you can see a reaction in their face, their body posture, their eyes, it's harder to spit venom with impunity.

If it's someone you care about and respect in other aspects of your life, it's easier to listen and open that hard little center of bullheaded belief just a bit to let the light of another angle shine in.

The interwebs are a wondrous place- you can find anything to support any viewpoint you want to have, groups who think just like you do no matter what you think, and you can be anyone you want to be and as snarky and ugly as your little heart desires- pretty much without repercussions. Therefore it's really hard to have discussions of much worth that don't quickly degrade into name-calling and catch-phrase wars.

That's not helping anyone, and it's hurting us. It's hurting us to become so callous and petty and small, vicious and cold. With every angry sarcastic remark, we lose just a bit of our humanity and every chance we'd have to actually connect with the other person.

We should never look only for flaws and mistakes on 'the other side' and crow about it.

We should look twice as hard for flaws and mistakes on 'our side' and expose them, confront them, fix them. Because they're there. They're always there.

"I was wrong- lets talk about this."

"I was wrong- I'm sorry I snapped at you."

"I was wrong- lets start over."

"I was wrong..."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Got That Croatian Feeling Going On

Sometimes thing just stick in my craw.

Sometimes it's one of those little sourdough pretzel bites that I eat on my way to work but then I reach for my coffee and DAMMIT I've forgotten it on the kitchen table...again.

Sometimes it's something like this-

This is a thing. It's a thing that's outside of McKinney TX, so we drive right close to it. There are a few 'communities' in between McKinney and Denton; the most notable (until now) being Savannah (complete with lots of imported palm trees and magnolia trees) and Providence (which is just sort of Stepford-ish).

These are not exactly gated, but they are extremely clannish in that they are fully self-contained subdivisions. You gotcher big schmancy houses- the ones surrounding the fountained pond at the lavish entrance, you gotcher more affordable homes all lining quaint little tiny-tree-lined avenues and all juuuuust different enough to not look totally creepy, you gotcher section just for "Over 55 Active Adults" far enough away from the affordable housing children so they don't have to worry about YOU KIDS WALKING ON MY GRASS!!!, you gotcher elementary school and yer private club and exclusive gym and all that mess. Circling the whole shebang is a single layer of strip malls that offer everything from dry cleaning to burgers to hair stylists to emergency rooms.

Providence alone has a population of over 5,000. That's five times the size of my little town. That's quite a subdivision.

But this...this Adriatica is something else.

First off, just by looking at it, you know there is no 'affordable housing'. It's Schmancypants City from the tippy top of the Bell Tower to the 'quaint cobblestone streets'.

Which is cool. If you have a buttload of money and want to pretend you live in Europe, that's great.

This is the part that is craw-stickingly jarring to me.

"The goal is to create community that in a relatively short period of time replicates villages that have taken centuries to develop. The project involves not only proper architecture and visual design, but also expertise in culture and social interaction. Not just how to build, but how to arrange the pieces of daily life, from where we live and work, to where we shop and play. It all comes together to form a balanced way of life."

Which is utter bullshit.

There are no Croatian fishermen here. No hard winters survived and generations of families and their various love/hate relationships intertwining the fabric of every person's history and future simultaneously, no hunger faced or natural disasters survived.

Be honest. Say "The goal is to create community that in a relatively short period of time replicates villages that have taken centuries to develop. The project involves not only proper architecture and visual design, and can do all this effortlessly because we have a metric fuck-ton of money at our disposal. We've studied the wants and needs of today's urban wealthy, and we know just what to build to enhance your life and fill it with truly comforting social interaction. We've artfully arranged the pieces of daily life so that once you enter these locked gates, your every whim will be fulfilled- food, drink, entertainment, all comes together to form a life balanced with you in the center of it; as it should be."

Seriously. This is a single family house. They must catch A LOT of fish.

And what Croatian fisherman family wouldn't require the following stores in their village to make their life complete?

Cavallis Wood-Fired Pizzaria
Keller Williams Real Estate
The Guitar Sanctuary
The Sanctuary Music & Events
Independent Bank
UPS Store
The Bella Donna Chapel
Silk Road Thai Cuisine
Zin Zen Wine Bistro
Fleurs & Events
Harry’s at the Harbor

I'm not jealous and I don't care where people choose to live if it makes them happy. But don't say you're something you're not.

It's not a Croatian fishing village. It's a Disney-ish fancied-up version of a postcard of a Croatian fishing village.

It's a Croatian Norman Rockwell; the Face the real villages put on for tourists.

While it IS "a true community perfectly balancing the needs and wants of its inhabitants", there's no getting around that the inhabitants are extremely wealthy, and that piles of money are the very real dues to get here and stay here.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe when one of the residents loses his high-paying job they'll all rally around and take in him and his family, sharing their home and money and food until he finds another job.

I'd like to see that.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Toad Lickin' News

You know that thing where you can hear stuff even though you're really sleeping? It's that thing that causes you to have really strange dreams until you wake up and realize you've been watching the infomercial channel all night. Which explains your dreams of women who have successfully lost 258 pounds who are wearing the world's most comfortable bra, cleaning their houses with a Shark while clutching Ginsu knives in their teeth.

At least that's what I tell myself.

So this morning, before I was fully awake, I could hear the news. And the news was all about Ebola, or as it's referred to here in East Texas- Eboli. As in, "I sure hope I don't catch me any of that there Eboli that African feller brought into Dallas! Stuff'll kill ya quick as a possum slidin' off a melted trailer roof in July, it will!"

And that's pretty dang quick.

Back to the news. It sounded serious. "More breaking news about the Ebola patient currently quarantined in a Dallas hospital!" The perky reporter was on the scene, in front of Presby Hospital in Dallas. Her tone was serious, somber, her voice filled with foreboding. I opened one eye and gazed across the room to the TV- yep; she was pretty somber lookin'. Across the bottom of the screen the ticker was retelling the whole history of Ebola's attack on the US of A right here in TEX of AS. She continued...

"All forty five people who have been in contact with this man..." (pause for effect) "...are still symptom-free!"

Now both eyes were open, and I was sitting up. "Oh, for the love of..." But there was more!

"The homeless man who rode in the ambulance right after the patient with Ebola has been found!" (another pause) "And he is not showing any signs of illness!"

It hurts to roll your eyeballs too soon after waking up.

Back in the studio, the anchorman announced, "Yes, as ____________ told us, none of the people who were in direct physical contact with the patient are showing any signs of illness, including his girlfriend- who we have on the phone in an exclusive interview!"

"Hello? Are you there?"

"Ummm...yes I am."

"Great! And how are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, thanks. I'm OK."

"There you have it and you heard it here! Stay tuned to this channel for any other breaking coverage regarding the ongoing threat of the looming Ebola crisis here in Dallas!"

Someone once told me that if you lick a toad first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be uphill. Far as I can tell, this was just as good. Bad. Whatever.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Things That Make My Head Explode


You hear that a lot from the Right. Like, every time something comes up that doesn't color exactly within the lines of what they consider 'the right way of thinking about shit'.

Lets take abortion. People like me think that it's a personal decision between a woman and whoever SHE wants involved in making it- family, doctor, God, no one...HER choice. Beyond that, it's a legal medical procedure so no matter what we personally think about's none of our damn business. If somehow pro-choice were really pro-abortion and being 'shoved down the throats' of those opposed to it, we pro-choicers would be pushing for every pregnancy to end in abortion. Every one.

But we're not. Because we're pro-CHOICE.

How about gay marriage? If you are in a committed relationship with someone and desire to have the legal and social benefits that marriage provides, that's your choice and none of our damn business. If somehow pro-gay marriage people were really into 'shoving that gay agenda down everyone's throats' we would insist that everyone marry someone of their own sex. Everyone.

But we don't. Because we want marriage equality,not something narrowly defined by a twisted interpretation of the Christian bible...since there are many definitions of marriage in that self-same bible including how many concubines you can have and the forced marriage of a widow to her brother-in-law. Also some neat ways you can marry slaves and the women you rape.

And about that Bible.

Until the Commie Scare of the '50's, there was no "In God We Trust" anywhere and "Under God" wasn't in our pledge. Before that the money said "E Pluribus Unum" and the pledge went "One nation indivisible". So we went from "Out of many, one" to "One True God" and from "we may be many different people but we are united" to "the Christian God rules this joint!"

Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion if you so choose, because we are not a theocracy and there's NO WAY any god of any religion should figure prominently because we do not have a National Religion. Let that sink in for a sec and then segway to the many fundamentals on the Right who are screaming for America to 'turn back to God' and the insistence that we twist our laws around their bible. Exactly who is destroying the Constitution?

So lets think about this for just a second.

Exactly which 'side' is shoving their agenda on everyone else while hollering about PERSECUTION and the KILLING OF AMERICA?

Which 'side' is clamping down on the freedoms of others in order to force them to conform to their narrow view of right/wrong?

Hint. It ain't the Left.

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