Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

I continue to be amazed by the backward thinking that some folks have, saying “If the ranchers had really cared about their animals, they would have had shelters every 20 acres and those animals wouldn’t have died.”

Aside from clearly not knowing anything about actual ranching, cattle, or the ranchers that have them, it’s patently false to think that having shelter was the key to saving them.

It’s not.

Let me say that again.

Having shelter would not have saved them. Not necessarily. Not guaranteed..

I read one account where 63 cattle had taken shelter and were found dead because they had gotten buried by snow and suffocated or froze to death. I read other accounts where ranchers were digging out cattle that had used bales of hay as a wind break; some of them survived, some did not.

If someone doesn’t think snow can suffocate and cause death, then I’d say that person didn’t live in a location where there was real snow. You try breathing in near hurricane force winds that are blowing sticky snow onto your partially frozen body, all the while burying you under snow drifts of 7 or 8 feet high. Ya. Try that and get back to me.

In addition, with that kind of snow load, a more likely scenario would have been the shelters collapsing under the weight of the snow and trapping and killing the cattle inside who were too buried in snow to escape.

I’ve seen pictures of cabin doors that were blown in and the cabin filled with snow. Now imagine if you didn’t have a coat and were already wet and it was blowing a sustained 60 mph.

Using a quote from an article on Beef Magazine.com, “She said, “Discouraging day. Cows are smart and know the draws to hunker down in, in just about any direction the storm comes from. But when the storm fills your hiding place, you must leave or get buried. Many cows did not leave and did not survive. The cows that left got stuck in drifts and had the same fate.”” 

Did y’all get that?

The storm blew snow drifts INTO the shelters. INTO THE SHELTERS.

Had this storm blown in during the actual winter, animals might have fared better. With this kind of driving snow, the ones not suffocating might not have succumbed to hypothermia because their winter coats would have given them some measure of protection.

And still, they might have suffocated under the snow anyhow.

They would have also been in their higher winter grounds. I’ve read about some herds that had already been moved to the winter grazing grounds who didn’t fare much better.

But this storm at this time?

No. The death toll was not because of ranchers not caring.

I’ve read accounts of folks going out to dig out cattle to get their ear tags for identification.diggingoutcattle Some found cattle that were buried and barely alive. So they kept digging, trying to get sunlight on hide to help warm them up.

I have yet to see anything on mainstream news.

Fortunately, people are getting the word out as they can.

In addition to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund, there are now several outlets on Facebook helping connect folks to relief measures.

Here’s a list of the ones I have. If you know of others, please link to them by leaving a comment. If I get enough, I’ll update either on this post or on a new one.

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association- has helpline info

South Dakota Cattle Locator– not just for cattle, as I’ve seen folks posting information on found horses

Pennington County digs free mass burial pits for cattle killed in blizzard- free carcass burial information

Rancher’s Reflief Fund– Facebook page

Atlas Blizzard Ranch Relief and Aid– good collection of resources and info

5 Resources For South Dakota Ranchers Hit By October Blizzard– this article has resources and links to other articles on the blizzard

Other links to stories written by other people with first-hand experience of this storm:

Photos: Heather Hamilton-Maude

Rancher Details “Gut-Wrenching” Pain From Cattle Lost In SD Blizzard- Heather’s Story

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I have never, not once, reblogged anything. That should tell you how critically important I think this topic is.

As if No Child Left Behind wasn’t bad enough, now we have Common Core. I am loath to think good things about anything forced on folks without full revelation on conversation about the contents.

Here again, we are being bamboozled.

Here again, we’re being forced to accept something unknown and being told to “trust.”  I have my own conspiracy theories 😉  but seriously – that exchange? Can anyone say Delphi Technique (Wikipedia doesn’t give a complete picture- it’s not just about group function, and really, it’s quite effective one-on-one) in action? Gee, gas light much? If I wasn’t on my phone, I’d paste a link. Go look it up. It’s important.

It’s abhorrent that the government is tracking our kids like this. It’s no surprise, though. I’ll take a stand and say I don’t think the government-particularly the FEDERAL government has the right to mandate any kind of education for our children. It is not its place.

If you care about your children, their futures, and the future of our nation, do more than read this.

Tell your friends.

Get involved.




Children for Sale

By Alyson Williams

No more decisions behind closed doors!  Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.


In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children.  It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No  other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was  complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d  heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common  Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this  decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free…

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Well. Here we are, I suppose.

If you know anything about me, you no doubt know that 3 of my 4 kids are girls. The oldest daughter is 14.5, but seriously looks at least 18.


Hunny’s plan was to send them all to the nunnery, despite us being non-Catholic. He was adamant about them not dating, or really even having boys as friends.  dad1

I, on the other hand, have always been on my daughter’s side. His position is that all boys just want to get in pants and that is their only driving force. I do believe that there are good kids out there- at least when we were kids there were. This is where my opinion originates.

Don’t prove me wrong, boys.

He is very sure all boys are the same and really the end game is having sex. I’d like to think there are still good guys out there who appreciate my daughter(s) for more than their body parts and what can be done with them.

I never thought I would have to sit down and come up with a list of rules, but here you go.

Before I start, there are a few things you ought to know. And by “you,” I mean any person of the male gender that shows any kind of interest in any of my daughters. 😀

  • This list isn’t written in stone. It may well be added to, but this here is a starting point.
  • Hunny and I are not so old that we don’t remember being teens. In fact, if you’ve ever had occasion to talk to us, you’d realize that Hunny is the kind of guy my parents would have never let me date, and some freaked out person these days would have wanted him locked up given his, um, ability to help local farmers with birds via his guns.
  • Respect is earned. No, really, it is. We don’t know you up from down. Regardless of religious leanings or not, you don’t start out with a free pass. {See earlier point about remembering what it was like being teens- even religious ones………} Even if we knew you in diapers, hormones are a game changer, and you basically have to start over in your new body.
  • {And this is probably the most important one- so PAY ATTENTION!}

My daughter is a jewel. She is THE MOST PRECIOUS thing in our worlds. There is NOTHING- and I do mean nothing- we won’t do to defend her and preserve her. {ok, we won’t send them to the nunnery- but you get my point. }

I will elaborate on that point as we go along, because I am not messing around. We are fiercely protective- she is our jewel.

Buckle your seat belts and keep your groans to yourself. If you want to see her or get to know her or date her, these things are absolutely not up for discussion.

  1. DON’T PLAY GAMES. You’ll notice I capitalized that one. It’s important. I despise games. You will not play them with her; nor with us, her parents. If you think it could be remotely viewed in a negative light; don’t do it. If you think something could remotely come across as being snarky, assume that’s what I’m thinking. Don’t go thinking you’re all cutesy and will get a pass. You won’t.
  2. If she’s on Facebook and you want to be friends with her, you will also be friends with me. 😀 You will not block me; you will not prevent me from seeing what you’re saying to her. If you don’t like that, you might as well stop now. It’s not a game and it’s not respectful to me, her mother. You are not entitled to privacy; you haven’t earned it and she is not old enough for carte blanche anything. She’s my daughter; my jewel. {If you have a sister, I’ll protect her just as fiercely- she’s also a jewel, and shall be treated as such.}
  3. Don’t disrespect me. If you don’t respect me, I have no confidence in your ability to respect her. I also watch to see how you treat your mother. 😀
  4. Be a gentleman. If you are going to say you are a gentleman, I expect you to act like one- around her, around me, around her father, around her family.
  5. I don’t care how smitten you are with her right now- common sense applies. I expect you to use it. This means being responsible. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Not placing either of you in dangerous situations, even to show off for her. 🙂
    • Finding out what her curfew is by asking her parents. If she tells you it’s ok that she stays or is a little late; she is mistaken. It matters, and will reflect poorly on both of you. This point, interestingly, goes a long way towards earning respect. Curfew means up at the house with notice to parents IN PERSON that arrival home has happened{don’t think you are going to get away sending a sibling- they rarely do as asked and it doesn’t count. I want to see YOU}. It doesn’t mean hanging around somewhere on the property, hoping someone noticed you’ve gotten home. Honestly, I don’t care if y’all hang around yakking, so long as it’s not real late and so long as we know she’s back home. {This is where the common sense comes in.}  dad2

We care about you, too, believe it or not. We know you want to impress our daughter; we want you to be safe. Showing you can be safe, responsible, and have some common sense with regard to your personal welfare shows us an inkling of what we expect you’ll do for our daughter.

And know this: I, her mother, am on your side. Really. 😀 I’m the one doing battle with her father to not run you off on sight. I’m the one fighting for both of you to get some time together. If you’re smart, you’ll keep that in mind and not piss me off.

I’m pretty forgiving, as a rule. I know kids {and shoot- *people*} do silly/stupid things. I was there once, too. There are probably only a handful of adults alive today that aren’t surprised that they are, in fact, still alive.

Hunny and I aren’t in that category. Both of us are able to look back and fully realize that it’s really by the grace of God that we’re still here.

We hope- we expect- you to be better than we were. I absolutely don’t buy into the “kids will be kids” baloney. Have fun, but be safe.

But you won’t get to have fun if you don’t follow the rules. 🙂

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I just found this! {Don’t ask me why I didn’t read it before- I must have somehow thought it wasn’t complete!}

Anyhow. Since I wrote this a year ago, the ideas of bees have continued to buzz around in my head. I’ve updated this post, so bear in mind that most of it was written before we moved and were still living in town.

What I need to check into now, though, is if I can get a hive to survive guineas. The guineas are a must, since ticks are such a huge problem out here.

If you’ve got guineas and bees, please share your experience with me!


Call me strange, but on my list of creatures I’d love to have around are honey bees.

Yep. Bees.

No, not the Africanized bees that will swarm and kill you; little ‘ole honey bees- by the hive.

Obviously, I can’t get away with that here. (Please, neighbors, I haven’t totally lost my mind :lol:) But that doesn’t make them any less appealing to dream about.

Most of us go through life not thinking about where our food comes from or what it takes to grow that food.  I will say that getting sick snapped me completely out of slipping into this mindset.

When I got sick, everything became suspect. It’s amazing what rabbit trails you’re willing to follow when you think you could really be dying, and you are just looking for some kind of straw to grasp at.

It was during this time that I started hearing about the world-wide bee population being in decline. I know for many, if not most, this revelation brings a sigh of relief, but I, personally, find it terrifying.


“The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.  bees

Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature.

Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

If you are anything like me, you’ll no doubt find this information startling.  And then, you might get to thinking, which might will mean you’ll end up scared. And if you’re not- you should be.

Think about that for a minute. 70% of the worldwide crops that feed 90% of the planet’s human population are pollinated by bees- bees which are in steep decline worldwide.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Here’s an article to get you started: Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Is it a leap to think that GMO crops are killing off bees? My personal opinion is, no, it’s not. In fact, I think it’s likely. I don’t know about you, but it seems like common sense to think that insecticide-enhanced crops can kill bees. That just seems like a no-brainer to me, personally.

Think I’m joking? Start at the Center for Food Safety and get up-to-date information. Studies show that the majority of foods in the US have genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

We know right now, for example, that The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving- Since you’ve entered this site at least 200 people have died of starvation. Over 4 million will die this year.”

I’m not going to go into specifics of the whys on hunger statistics, but I will say this: The world is struggling to feed its population right now; today. We may think modern science and technology can compensate for the loss of bees world-wide, but the fact is, they can’t.

The planet loses substantial amounts of people every day to starvation, and an essential component in global food growth is in serious decline?

GMOs are not mandated to be listed on food packaging in the US, and as a result, studies show that 58% of people in the US don’t know about this issue; and yet, they are in 75% of our processed foods.

Do you see the connection? Let me spell it out: Bees are critically needed worldwide to grow food. GMO crops have pesticide/insecticide in them. They’ve been killing bees. The decline in bees is critically affecting the world-wide food growth which is resulting in greater incidences of starvation.

Think I’m blowing smoke and/or being an alarmist wacko? Read Death of the Bees. Genetically Modified Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America. If that doesn’t convince you, I’m pretty sure nothing will.  nogmobees

While this topic might be overwhelming and make your eyes glaze over, there are a few things we individuals can do, past signing petitions and taking it to Washington, that likely won’t listen anyhow. There’s too much power and money wrapped up in this issues, with power players in key positions in the current administration {which, I am inclined to add, is nothing new- this power players from specific industries have played key roles in most presidential administrations……..}.

What we CAN do, as individuals, is support the local bee industry. Go to your local farmer’s markets and buy local honey.

If you have the availability of land, learn what you can about bee keeping. I’m a few years away from it myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start learning now.

I could tout the benefits of locally “grown” honey, but I’m pretty sure most everyone has a good idea of the benefits, particularly if you have allergies. I’d always been a fan of real honey, but honestly, I never gave any of it a whole lot of thought. Unbeknownst to many, however, is that the stuff you buy in the store isn’t often real honey, even if it’s labeled as such.

“More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.”

More information here:

Fake Honey In Stores – Learn How To Identify The Real Thing

Honey Laundering

Study: Most Honey Is Just Fake, Pollenless Goo

Have honey in your cupboard? Take a minute and go get it. Turn it around and read the label. Then leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve found.  Please. 🙂 {The only honey I have in mine is local, organic honey, so I’m no help!}

Ok, I confess that I don’t have a label that has non-honey stuffs in it. The benefit of real honey is something I’ve known about since I was a kid, actually, and have always only bought honey from my local health food store or from local honey folks. I never really thought to look in the grocery store until recently, when I wondered why my honey was more expensive and wanted to compare cost.

This gets back to things like truth in advertising, and all that jazz. My point is- beware. Read your labels. When I went looking at my local grocery store, most of the honey products contained other stuff. 😯

You may even remember the fake honey from China scam a while back.

But back to the bees! 😀

We’ve probably all heard about large bee hives being found inside walls of houses or under the eaves, etc.  And, we’re probably all been relieved to hear about the extermination of those hives. Anymore, it just makes me cringe.

Happily, those with bee infestations can sometimes find bee removal professionals.  There’s even a bee removal network! I don’t know about you, but this makes my heart happy, knowing honey bees will be relocated instead of exterminated.

I think there are all kinds of benefits to bee keeping. While I’m all for doing what you can in your backyard, I am not entirely sure I could get away with bees…………. {now that I’ve moved, though, I’m back in the game of exploring my options!}

Here are some links for your perusal:

Blogs I read that now have bees in addition to chickens :D: :

*sigh*  I really need to get to the country so I can work on getting more chickens. And Nigerian Dwarf goats. And bees.

I’m beginning to think I’m a lost cause…………… 😆  But if anyone asks, I’m going to tell them I’m the bees knees, honey.  :mrgreen:

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Tears of release;

Weep with relief.

God On High be praised;

Peace in my soul renewed.

His handiwork shines;

And reminds that it is all Him……………………….


I don’t remember a mortgage being quite like this; ever. If you’ve been reading along, you will know I’ve been doing some head banging. Ok, well, not really. I haven’t just been doing some head banging- I’ve been doing A LOT of head banging. So much so, that I’m pretty sure I have a sizable dent in my forehead.

The requirement changing that I referenced in one of my last posts was just one of the bumps in the road. You may {or may not} be aware of the factors that are taken into consideration for mortgage approval.

One of the things they most look at is what’s called “debt-to-income ratio.” In a nutshell, they want to make sure you aren’t overextended and can actually PAY for the mortgage.

You may think this sounds like common sense, and really, it is. You may be surprised, though, at the number of people who go into mortgages not having a clue what they can really afford- which is NOT the same as what they can qualify for- and then {in the past, before the new regulations} would totally over-extend themselves.

Before the housing bust and collapse, a certain amount of “high risk” mortgages were mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s come back to bite them in the butt.

SO many people were upside down in their mortgages, and couldn’t sell because the property was now over –valued and wouldn’t appraise. Then, many of those same people had either balloon payments coming due or had an ARM {adjustable rate mortgage} mortgage and had been paying basically the interest on the mortgage with the lock-in-rate coming due.

Many people had planned on having a low payment {or one they could afford} for 5 years then using the equity in the house to refinance at the end of the term, which would allow them to not pay PMI (mortgage insurance). Some people planned on selling the house {with all that extra equity} before their mortgage was set to get locked in; using the profit as their next down payment, and getting a regular monthly payment they could afford.

But the market tanked; home values went in reverse, and a lot of people wound up in houses with regular long-term locked-in monthly mortgage payments they couldn’t afford. When that happened, houses were foreclosed if the bank wouldn’t accept a short-sale, or they couldn’t get the house sold despite listing as a short-sale and still ended up in foreclosure and losing their homes.

Now what we’re seeing are regulations that are super, super stringent. I have heard horror stories of people who were self-employed with histories of consistent income with enough in reserves and other accounts in addition to funds for down payment and closing costs that couldn’t qualify because they couldn’t “prove” where their income for the last 5 years came from because they didn’t hang on to hard copies every single incoming penny.

I have heard all kinds of stories about people who have had closing dates and then couldn’t close for some odd-ball reason; I’ve heard about people who actually did close but then the bank didn’t transfer the funds to them which then delayed their move-in date.

It’s just been strange.

The point here being that all kinds of things are unusual trying to get mortgages these days, and it’s my opinion that it’s particularly so when you don’t have your other house sold. 😀

To keep our debt-to-income ratio where we wanted it to be for the two houses, we went ahead and got rid of a monthly payment. For the last few years, I’ve been paying this account electronically {as I do all my bills} and it *always* clears and is credited to my account in 2 days. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Except this time. Nope, this time- you know, the ONE time I NEEDED to have it paid on time- they completely lost the money.

Yep. They sure did.

And it wasn’t just a regular-monthly-payment amount of money. *sigh*

A week after it still hadn’t posted to my account, I started getting mad. My bank showed it had been paid and cleared my account. But the receiver of the money had no record of it.

That resulted in considerable phone calls back and forth with my bank so they could trace the money; and also numerous calls back and forth to the other place.

Then there were faxes. Paperwork needed to be sent to them with requests to different departments on the receiving end; all of which had to be signed. They needed “proof” from my bank that showed they had received the money. Because I don’t have fax capability, that meant that Hunny had to take time out of his massively busy schedule to do it. Blarg.

This one little piece of the puzzle was going to screw up everything else! And by that, I do mean everything.

What hinges on an on-time closing? Let me tell you….. The day we close (Thursday), I have my floor guy coming in to begin refinishing the floors. That won’t allow for carpet to get in until the following Thursday. That’s arranged, too.

The carpet takes two days (Thursday and Friday) and the semi with my furniture comes Saturday.

Because my house is getting loaded {and has some remaining packing} and delivered here, that means someone has to be there to let them in and supervise. That means 2 plane tickets back- flying there on Saturday and then flying home here on Wednesday. Oh- and a car rental.

Do you see all the moving parts to this? 😆

It’s what I call the “domino effect.” Have you ever tried to stop falling dominoes? What happens? Things get knocked all caddywhompus and it’s near impossible to straighten them out.

If I don’t close on time, I can’t get my floors done on time. If the floors don’t get done as planned, that pushes carpet back. If carpet gets pushed back, my stuff will have to sit on a truck, if they let us.

Why else am I so concerned about my timeline? Well, gosh, if you haven’t heard- there was a hurricane. While it didn’t hit us directly {although the Outer Banks got hit pretty hard} because we’re about an hour and a half inland, that means that availability of supplies could be an issue if we are delayed.

And then that might mean another few days in the campground, because our month will be up. Those extra days are paid at a significantly higher price. We’ve talked about moving the trailer to the house and plugging in there, even though we can’t get in because the floors can’t be walked on, but the sticking point is laundry.

We’re doing numerous loads during the week. It’s nice doing them here because we can get them started and just check back, instead of having to literally sit there all day.

We found the local laundromat- they call them “wash houses” here. Not only do most of the machines not work, but they don’t have any hot water. So, laundry is an actual concern. Hunny wants me to get an rv washer/dryer combo, because we have two sets of hookups in the house {even though the bottom floor hookups are in a spot where the floors are being redone} and we may go that route, although I’m not sure how that will work when during the week they are redoing the floors.

In the midst of all of this, I have the cleaning that I can get to, and getting ready to paint. The plan is to get most of it in one fell swoop so we don’t have to make repeated trips 25 miles away, one way. Lots and lots of organizing; lots and lots of trips for supplies need to be orchestrated; working around contractors.

Next week, I need to get all my utilities started. I very much feel like this is the calm before the storm. I’ll be relieved when the whirlwind is over, but this definitely falls into the ‘the only to get to the end is to go through it’ category.

Tomorrow, we blessedly get to do something “normal,” as we’re going on a homeschool field trip to a farm. They’re giving a tour of- you guessed it– a chicken coop. 😆 I am seriously hoping my kids won’t hijack the instructor. 😆

It’s the last little relaxed day of fun before things seriously get wound up. Hang on to your hats!

Yesterday, I had Gaga {Lady} running through my mind.


This morning, after getting news about travel arrangements, this was the song that came to mind: Shout to the Lord {Hillsong/ Darlene Zschech}.


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“I wanna free fall, out into nothin’

Gonna leave this, world for awhile

And I’m free, free fallin’

Yeah I’m free, free fallin’”

I’ve totally got Tom Petty’s song running through my head. If you’ve been watching the news, you probably know why.

If you haven’t been paying attention, you have missed out on a record of epic {and I do mean EPIC} proportion that happened yesterday Sunday in my former home town.

I have to admit that this was probably one of the only times I wasn’t there that I kinda wished I would have been.

Why, you might ask? Yesterday  Sunday was the day Felix fell from the sky and broke all kinds of records- records like:

• Largest manned balloon

• Highest ever manned balloon flight

• Only skydiver to ever break the sound barrier

Did you get that? HE. BROKE. THE. SOUND. BARRIER.

As in, Mach 1.24 with his body, in the sky.

And not just the sky. He was literally IN the stratosphere,

24 miles up- on the very precipice of outer space – and then he jumped.

On his way down, he hit speeds of 833.9 miles per hour.

And he lived to tell the tale.


Interestingly, this record was set 65 years to the day that Chuck Yeager first broken the sound barrier. But, it wasn’t planned; this particular date.

Nope. Last week, he had two delays. One was wind and a combination of other factors, as I heard from friends on the ground; factors like some people who were supposed to document it weren’t there or something along those lines.

The past week has been filled with friends posting pictures of themselves with Felix around town. And this is why for the first time in recent memory, I was actually wishing I was in my desert of 17 years, Roswell, NM.

I would have like to have watched that. Schools had been set up live for the kids to watch, but alas, the jump happened on Sunday.

You may be wondering, why Roswell? You might be surprised to learn that in addition to yuccas and mesquite, Roswell actually has one of the longest runways in the world, and the second largest {commercial} runway in the US. It was known, too, that it was a suitable {although not preferred, obviously} landing site for the space shuttle. So, Roswell made a good launch site for not just the final jump, but also for the other test jumps.

This doesn’t translate to passenger flights, though. But if you fly over, you’ll see a ton of planes on the ground. Not only is a giant parking lot for planes, but it’s also a graveyard for them, too. They land and then get parted out and taken apart. Pretty interesting stuff, really.

I am hoping that maybe, just maybe, in addition to the annual Alien Festival resulting from “the crash” on July 3, 1947, Roswell will also be remembered as the site of “when the guy fell from outer space.”

Felix. Amazing, amazing {and maybe slightly insane :lol:} man and an event to remember.

Here are some links:

Red Bull Stratos on Facebook

Red Bull Stratos with media

The whole jump


And, because life is a soundtrack and I really need this song out of my head, here’s Tom Petty with Free Fallin’.


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Yep. We are. And it’s not the good kind. We got up yesterday to falling ash. There is something deeply unsettling about stepping outside at any point during the day and seeing and smelling smoke.

Don’t you hate it when you’re sure you’ve ranted about something but then you can’t find it? Ya. Me too.

One of the topics that’s taken up a lot of my time through the years is fire. So much so, that while I remember very clearly planning to write about it, it appears I didn’t actually do it, for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s because it’s too depressing.

Last year, I wrote about being in a dry spell. It was really bad. My town recorded the driest start to the year since record keeping began in 1895, with a whopping .09 of precipitation from January 1 to May 12. When you normally get around nearly 13 inches of annual precipitation but only get 5.56 for the entire year, you know you are in trouble. It was no wonder we had bears in town!

And, it was hot. We spent from May on to September at least being mostly 100 degrees or hotter most days. I know some records will say we only had 60 days of 100+ weather, but their data stations aren’t in my backyard. We had a stretch of almost a month where it was around 110 every day, and daily highs were over 105. (Now, you people in Texas and Arizona, I know had it worse, so everything actually is relative…………..)

The year started off with a cold snap in February, that brought daily highs of -11; lows of -14. No, I’m not joking. The last time I remember that kind of cold was 16 years ago when we lived in NE Colorado. We here in the desert are used to daily swings of 50 degrees. But that cold was brutal, as was the heat and drought that followed.

You may remember the Las Conchas fire last year that threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratories. To date, it was the largest fire the state had seen, at 156, 593 acres.

Las Conchas fire pictures here.

However bad we thought that was, it doesn’t come close to the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire. As of this morning, it has consumed 278,039 acres and is only 32% contained. There are 738 people engaged in fighting this fire. Growth potential is high. This fire is part of the Gila National Forest, where most recently, ultra marathon runner Micah True  (of the book Born to Run fame) passed away in the Gila Wilderness; which is now on fire.

You can see more pictures here.

The fire raining ash on my house yesterday, is a baby fire in comparison at this point. It’s the Little Bear fire. As of this morning, it’s got 26,000 acres and is 0% contained. This is all rugged, mountain terrain. All of our favorite campgrounds have been evacuated. I don’t know if they’ve burned or not. There’s conflicting word regarding a church camp, church, and surrounding homes on the complex. We know people whose homes have been lost. My aunt and uncle used to have a cabin up there. 

I’ve heard that the church and church camp are lost, but I’ve also heard the church is ok. Seeing as a good friend’s brother-in-law is the pastor there, I am sure I’ll be able to get updates once people can get in. It’s heartbreaking. The church and camp there are closely tied to the community here, and many, many people I’m friends with have cabins up there. The Ruidoso Free Press reports the church and campground have been “compromised.”

For more pictures (where I got the one above) and updates, I’ve been checking out the Southeastern New Mexico Weather Web Page.

We’re under a red flag warning, too. This means sustained winds of 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. NOT good help for fighting fires.

And, for the record, we’re still in a drought, although rumor has it that El Nino may be showing up soon. We can only pray.

Picture courtesy of MSNBC.

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Some of the time, at least. Other times, it doesn’t matter how much harp music is going on; there will still be those that want to turn the other way and ignore the elephant in the room.

What has me all in knots this morning? We’re going to re-visit one of the topics that raises my blood pressure: giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in New Mexico. You may remember some of my other thoughts here and here.

Part of my ranting involved the abuse of issuing NM driver’s licenses. This, folks, goes beyond issuing licenses to document illegal aliens.

August of 2011 brought a bust on a Chinese crime ring of folks obtaining NM driver’s licenses fraudulently. The count that time was 62 illegal licenses obtained.

With February 2011 came the arrest of 5 more people, one on his way to India via O’Hare International in Chicago.

It’s no surprise that there’s been another arrest, given the new governor’s quest to deal with this issue and show the abuse that is no doubt rampant.

“Although investigators identified 54 cases for prosecution purposes, the ring is accused of fraudulently obtaining hundreds of New Mexico driver’s licenses for illegal foreign nationals living outside the State.”

The potential for this ring seemed to be particularly large, since this group was making $30,000 a month on fraudulent driver’s licenses.

There are, however, more stunning numbers.

“About 92,000 foreign national licenses have been issued in New Mexico since 2003. Out of those, only 16,000 license holders filed a return this tax season, Padilla said.

“Where are the rest of them? It appears they’re not in New Mexico, as is evident by this ring,” she said.”

Gee, ya think?  We finally have a governor who is trying to DO something about this issue, and even though there is a majority of actual PEOPLE in NM who want this gone, the legislature can’t seem to vote to get this law undone.

More detail about this latest crime ring is found here.

“According to the attached criminal complaint, Collazo-Medrano fraudulently used eight different addresses – four in Clovis and four in Portales – to establish residential requirements for dozens of foreign nationals between October 2009 and December 2011. Investigators have been able to establish 54 fraud cases involving Collazo-Medrano, so far, as their investigation continues.”

Still up in the air is what’s going to happen in January 2013. Why is this date such a big deal?

That’s the date when the postponed Real ID Act goes into effect. When that happens, those of us with NM or Washington driver’s licenses won’t be able to use them as our identification for flying domestically because they aren’t issued to just US citizens.

Yep. That means we’ll have to get passports. I wonder if the government is going to offer us all free passports. I know it sure would help me, since I have a family of 6. Prices today tell me it’s going to cost at least $855. Ya, I have that spare change floating around in my couch. 🙄  {snort} At this point, I haven’t seen anything that gives another solution.

It’s also no surprise then, that there’s a run on getting fraudulent licenses right now, because time is running out. Interestingly, an article about this topic on a judicial watchdog site says,

“The Real ID Act would kill those little deals. Under the measure a newly created federal database will link all licensing data that must be checked before states issue new cards. Residents of states that don’t comply with the law will be greatly inconvenienced because their driver’s licenses will not be accepted as proof of identification at airports, federal buildings or when applying for any sort of federal benefits.”

And then on the side bar, there are links to other articles, like New Mexico Won’t Stop Giving Illegal Aliens Driver’s Licenses  and Illegal Immigrants Fight To Keep Driver’s License.

Without getting tangled up in the debate of whether or not the Real ID Act should even be in place, I will say that it’s a load of crap that I, a private US citizen, should have to fork out nearly $1,000 just to be able to fly domestically because the idiot legislatures in this state want to give licenses to criminals.


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I’ve been sitting on my hands, not wanting to open this can of worms. I find, however, that I really kinda need to vent and get it out. It’s such a polarizing issue, though, and I’ve stayed away from this topic as a means of avoiding the mommy wars.

You can, however, thank Time Magazine for this little jaunt into the fracas. It’s been all abuzz with my friends, many of whom I know from my work in years past as a breastfeeding counselor.

What did Time Magazine do?  Here’s what:

I don’t take exception to the theme of the picture at all (and I’ll explain why). I DO, however, take exception to the caption. What the crap is that? If a mother doesn’t participate in extended breastfeeding she is not “mother enough?”

I’ve been reading my friend’s posts, many of which link to their (yes, I mean that) replies in the media.

Let’s start with my friend, Nancy Mohrbacher. Nancy is a well-known expert in the lactation world. She’s the author of titles like Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple and The Breastfeeding Answer Book.

Nancy’s reply in a Chicago Tribune article states in part,

“Nancy Mohrbacher, an officer with the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition, said the cover has sparked the wrong questions.

‘The question is not are you mom enough, but is our culture family friendly enough,” Mohrbacher said. “The question is not how should we parent, but how do we support and value parenting in our society.’ “

My friend in the great white north (Canada) Teresa Pitman, spent part of yesterday doing media interviews. She’s coauthored 14 books, mostly about breastfeeding and childbirth, like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition), The Latch and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success, and The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers (with Dr. Jay Gordon). She says,

“I initially didn’t have much reaction. Three-year-old nursing, ho hum, see it every day. But I really disliked the headline – only possible point of that is trying to stir up “Mommy wars.”

And when I look at …the photo, it’s awkward and unnatural looking – and has the effect of making breastfeeding an older child seem awkward and unnatural. The mother and little boy aren’t touching anywhere except at the breast.

I think many of the comments suggest that this is extreme or weird, but the fact is that the CPS, AAP and WHO all recommend breastfeeding for two years and beyond. They’re pretty mainstream.”

Part of my past-life’s work was counseling women on weaning, which seriously has become one of my more warm hot-buttons, so to speak. Why do people- particulary those not IN the actual relationship- feel they have the right to judge?

As an adopted breastfed baby who nursed into kindergarten {yes, you’re reading that right} and the daughter of another breastfeeding counselor with over 40 years experience, I have to confess that even I didn’t get this concept at first.

You can pretty firmly count me in the camp {and embarrassingly so, I was verbal about it, too} of one who thought it was weird and gross for a baby with teeth who was walking to also be nursing. Babies a year and younger (even if they were walking and had teeth) were fine.

But, I absolutely could not imagine nursing a child that was old enough to ask for it, with real words. And I was pretty solid with that perspective until I had a baby; who subsequently sprouted teeth, could walk and talk, eat solid food and yet still had a need to nurse.

That need wasn’t for nutrition, obviously.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that breastfeeding isn’t just food delivery. Nope. It’s not.

And yet, the argument against extended  biologically natural breastfeeding often revolves around that concept.

Or, the argument turns sexual. By the way- the breastfeeding of children {of any age} isn’t sexual, either. I’m making that distinction to shut down the argument that it’s not just children breastfeeding.

So let me put this in terms most people can understand:

Adults sexualize breasts; children do not.

Believe it or not, children don’t develop sexual awareness until they are school age (4-6). Before that, they just know there are body parts that are different and may “discover that touching certain body parts feels nice.” Around this age, they begin to notice that boys and girls have different parts. And, they may begin to ask more questions about things like where babies come from. But that curiosity isn’t sexual in the terms that adults view breasts and mouths on breasts.

So go ahead and throw that argument out the window, because it doesn’t wash. Society teaches; society judges; society HARMS. It’s not the mother and child in the extended normal breastfeeding relationship that have the problem- it’s those that are ignorant and actively seek to condemn.

When I saw the magazine cover, I thought, “Great. Here we go again.” For as long as I’ve been an adult, to breastfeed or not has been a hugely polarizing topic. I’ve seen friendships between women go south and get nasty because of breastfeeding. I’ve seen marriages have difficulty because of disagreement on this issue. I’ve seen a marriage end because a father tried to force weaning on a child (and mother) who wasn’t ready, and the mother was left to deal with the fall-out.

That Time Magazine cover doesn’t accurately depict any kind of extended breastfeeding relationship that I have ever encountered. I believe it was staged to be polarizing and to get a negative reaction from people.

It’s amazing to me how breastfeeding and weaning continues to be such a topic of hotly contested debate, even despite all scientific evidence. It always seems to me that we forget that babies have rights. Babies aren’t pets and don’t deserve to live off the scraps of what we parents are willing to give them. That’s just my two cents, and you are free to disagree. But I do think that babies deserve to have parents who are engaged and committed.

So, I’ve been reading along, sitting on my hands, seeing comments from people who have nasty opinions about this cover. The mommy wars continue, and we, as a species, continue to blast others and tear each other down for other people’s parenting decisions which we have no right to judge.

After all, we’re not talking about whether or not to use a car seat (although there are those that compare the formula campaign to those cigarette campaigns years ago, which I’m inclined personally to see the similarities in) or even nutritional content of infant nourishment; we’re talking about relationship. We are talking about parenting.

Back in my counseling days, weaning, as it is now, was a hot topic. New mothers were unsure of who to listen to; unsure of what the truth was.

I had one mother, no kidding, tell me her pediatrician told her she had to stop nursing when her baby turned a year old, if not before. She asked why, and was told “Because your milk will turn blue.”

Honestly. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

And through the years, one of the articles I routinely referred to was A Natural Age of Weaning, by anthropologist Dr. Katherine Dettwyler, PhD.  She wrote,

“In societies where children are allowed to nurse “as long as they want” they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between 3 and 4 years of age. This interest also stemmed from the realization that other animals have “natural” ages of weaning, around 8 weeks for dogs, 8-12 months for horses, etc. Presumably these animals don’t have cultural beliefs about when it would be appropriate. “

More recently, she wrote a comment in response to Brian Palmer’s Slate.com’s article, titled Breast-feeding in Prehistoric Times:

“Brian — After all the time I spent talking to you on the phone trying to educate you and provide you with actual research data to help you understand the biology and physiology of modern humans, and this is what you come up with? I’m quite disappointed.

My research suggests 2.5 to 7.0 years as the range of a natural/normal/typical duration of breastfeeding for modern humans. Most human children around the world, if allowed to nurse as long as they want, wean themselves between the ages of 3 and 5 years (not 2-4 years). Obviously humans CAN wean their children at birth (jor nurse for only six weeks or six months or two years) and have most of them survive, but it’s estimated that more than 900 children in the United States die every year because they were not breastfed, and many many more die where alternative safe and appropriate nutrition is not available and where vaccinations and antibiotics are not available.

The fact that culturally we’ve been messing around with this life-history variable for thousands of years does not change the fact that the underlying biology and physiology of human children has not changed. They evolved to expect many years of breastfeeding and that’s what they need for optimal development. Under the best of circumstances — good alternative foods, low disease and parasite load, low stress — children who are allowed to nurse as long as they want do so, typically, for 3 to 5 years, and many are happy to nurse much longer.

There is enormous variation in all aspects of human growth and development. Just as the average height for adult women in the U.S. is around 5’4″, there are some women who are only 4’10” and some who are 6’5″ (shout out to Elena Dellle Donne). Likewise, some children will wean on their own before their first birthday, and others will nurse up to and beyond 7 years if they have willing mothers.

The point is — nursing a 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 year old is NORMAL for our species, regardless of what people think about it. Just like being pregnant for 9 months is normal, and getting your first permanent teeth at age 5.5-6 years is normal, and going through puberty in your teens is normal. Nurse your children for as short or as long as you like, or don’t nurse them at all, or simply don’t have any. The point is that nursing for several years is NORMAL….”

If you can stomach the replies to her comment, you’ll no doubt notice that some of the arguments I’ve shared above made it into the queue. And that just demonstrates my point that it’s ADULTS that are making the judgements and it’s the ADULTS that have the social hangups.

Kathy’s also quoted in this USA Today article.

My friend and IBCLC (Internaional Board Certified Lactation Consultant) Diana, wrote about her 4-year-old daughter’s surgery, and her concerns over nursing her in the hospital. She wrote,

“Being Old Enough to Ask for It doesn’t forbid a child from receiving comfort from his mother – however that mother chooses to comfort her child. ……………..Breastfeeding my 4-year old, postoperative child wasn’t disgusting, it was normal. Nursing her back to sleep a few nights ago when she woke up in the middle of the night wasn’t indulging her, it was loving her the way she has come to expect to feel love and comfort from me, her mother.”

I’m not judging and/or condemning anyone for their beliefs, but this is one topic my opinion won’t change on. The only thing I want to add is that you can’t force a child to nurse if they don’t want to. There’s a reason some babies/children nurse longer than others, and in a perfect world, society would be more attuned to normal child development and needs- and then respond appropriately; based on the needs of the child instead of their own neurosis.

Obviously, I could rant about this for a good long while. That’s basically why this is a newer topic for me, although if you’ve been reading along, you’ve most likely just had your suspicions confirmed.  😆

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