Miss Addie <3

Miss Addie & Carl

I’ve talked in prior posts about fostering for an organization called Northwest Battle Buddies. Run by a *fantastic* dog trainer, out of her kennel, they train dogs to be service animals for veterans. These animals get some of the most training out of any veteran org out there – a minimum of 6 months *before* they’re paired with their new person, and another 6 weeks *with* their person. It’s an amazing org, and if you’re so inclined, you can learn more here:

We’ve fostered three pups thus far. Our first one washed out – too fearful to make it through. So he went to some good friends, and has made a *wonderful* pet. Our second one, Miss Addie, is the one you see above. We had her longer than usual due to covid, but she finally finished her training and has been paired with her veteran just last week. I blacked out his face because it’s not my place to broadcast him – but trust me when I say the smile on his face matches the joy shown by his hat.

I’ve had SO MANY people ask me how I could bear to give her up. And today, I can fully give that answer. Because the sheer JOY for him beats our sadness. Because this man – and by extension, these veterans – *need* these animals more than we do. And because at the end of the day? Anything we can do to help someone else out is what we *should* be doing. Some of these veterans haven’t been able to go grocery shopping, or out to dinner with their loved ones, or to a theater for YEARS – because they were too afraid. And now, they’ll be able to live their lives with more joy and comfort with a constant companion that loves them no matter what.

Miss Addie

I’m not gonna lie. I sobbed when I saw this picture, and the rest that went with it. But the tears were JOY. My heart is so full right now, knowing that she has her forever human (and based on that hat, is probably a pretty darn good one). I’m STILL tearing up, to be honest. But I’m so proud of her for completing training, and so excited for her next chapter – and that she’ll be *useful*, helping someone who has helped all of us.

For anyone curious – no, we don’t train the dogs. We don’t do anything but love them and house them and feed them. Only requirements are a fenced-in yard, patience, love, some toys, and a place for them to sleep.

Here’s a link to a short series of videos about why Northwest Battle Buddies was founded, why it’s so important, and about some of the veterans who have benefited. They *do* take donations if you’re not local or can’t foster, but I urge you – if you can foster a pup? Do so. Your heart will grow 3 sizes. πŸ˜‰

Cookbooks of Yore

So, part of this whole “leaving my husband” thing means that there is about 24 years worth of *stuff* to go through. Part of that means a WHOLE LOTTA BOOKS. And of those, a *lot* of them are cookbooks – including some that I got when my grandmother passed away. I can’t keep all of them, much as I might like to. So I’ve been setting aside the ones I want, and flipping through some of the others before I find homes for them.

And boy – people ate some weird stuff. Check out this recipe I found:

Um. Yum?

CHILI BEEF LIVER. Like…people actually ate this? And pay *very close* attention to the cooking instructions….

ON HIGH, it says. POWER LEVEL 7, it says. People. The authors of this cookbook EXPECTED PEOPLE TO COOK LIVER IN A MICROWAVE. Y’all…that’s just heinous. That is “cooking fish in the break room” kind of heinous. House would reek for *days*.

But just in case you’re interested in finding this classic and exploring its recipes for yourself? Get a load out of where it came from:

I HAVE QUESTIONS, Y’ALL. A *microwave cookbook* from JCPenney’s. Soon to be a relic of memory just like this book. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the other quality recipes in the cookbook:

  • Veal Cutlets Cordon Bleu
  • Potato Pork Dogs (with instant mashed potato flakes, natch)
  • Onion Cheese Pie
  • BAKED EGGS IN BOLOGNA (So much ew right here)
  • Broccoli Egg Divine (hollandaise sauce mix, broccoli, hard-cooked eggs, swiss cheese, bread crumbs, butter, and paprika, for the curious about how “divine” it truly is)

Truly a classic cookbook for the ages. Sadly, it’s one I won’t be able to keep. I just hope whoever ends up with it find they are much more excited about the recipes within than I am…

A strange thing about plagues…

Or any sort of disaster, really. There’s always ALWAYS a bright side. It might be remote, it might be something that you aren’t seeing, but it is rare that there isn’t a chance to see something positive when something terrible happens. In my case – weird as it may sound – it’s the impending separation and eventual divorce.

Now, I know there are people out there who are all “You should never get divorced after a traumatic experience like this!”. And in general? I would agree with them. But here’s the thing – this has been YEARS in the making. But going through the last year has actually been the thing I needed to gain the courage (or maybe just be fed up enough) to make the move.

I don’t intend to get into the so-called “salacious details” of all the problems. I will probably touch on them here and there, but while I’m leaving him – we still have kids together, and over 24 years as a couple. Dignity seems to be a four-letter word these days, what with “reality” tv all the rage. But – he’s the father of my kids. And he’s not a bad person, just not a good husband. So.

Having said *that* – here’s a little outline of why I suddenly realize I’m CAPABLE of going through with this. When covid hit? I had a job I enjoyed, working part-time at a local bookstore. His income paid for pretty much everything else. We did OK, able to pay for our daughter’s gymnastics, pay the bills, and so on. His job is a good one, and typically pretty crazy-proof. When covid hit, I got furloughed. So, I worked my other small business, and he kept working. Then he got furloughed too. We knew it was coming – warning in September, pretty serious in October. I got a full-time job starting first of October, and as of November 1, he wasn’t working.

The job I got, I will absolutely admit that I never even knew IT EXISTED. This was *not* my “dream job”. But it sounded interesting, it was in the healthcare field (which I have absolutely no background in), and I was qualified. Doesn’t hurt that it came recommended by a good friend. But then, working my first full-time job in more years than I care to admit? I found I *liked* it. I like it, and I’m damn *good* at it. I like getting those paychecks. I like doing my job. I like having that sense of independence. It’s been far too many years since I felt that way.

And here’s that silver lining: I found that, finally, I could envision in truth what my gut had been yelling at me about for years. That I could make the leap, and be ok. That maybe – just maybe – my future didn’t have to be the same as my past.

And so? Here we are. My blessing in a time when it seems strange to even say that such a thing exists. My hope, my happiness, and my future – so much of it was brought out by a plague. And while I don’t say this to discount the sadness and pain far too many others experienced, I do feel that acknowledging the positive things is what will help us move forward. This? It isn’t necessarily *happy*, but it IS positive. And I’ll take it.

So…I did a thing.

After 23 years, I’ve announced I’m leaving my husband. I’ve known for a while, because I *also* knew I would be the only one willing to step up and say “this isn’t working”. It’s a bit surreal, honestly – and frankly? Terrifying as well. Our 14yo daughter will be moving with me, though custody will be shared. This will be the first time in a very, very, VERY long time that I’ve been 100% responsible for myself – and now our daughter.

And you know – it wasn’t any *one* thing that caused this. Rather, a series of bad choices on the part of my husband, that have – over time – snowballed into where we are now. It’s always so DRAMATIC in the movies – someone is yelling, and doors slam, and sometimes things even get thrown. But in my case, it was more a slow, quiet, painful withering of trust, respect, and eventually, love. This song is totally it, but IN REVERSE. “When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter.” – but boy, when they aren’t? All that peeling paint and shattered glass just keep adding up, until one day, you’ve realized you’re standing in a pile of rubble and no damn clue how to go about fixing it, or whether you even think it’s worth it anymore.

So, I’ll probably be doing some blogging about that off and on. Cathartic, you know. Especially during these plague times, it’s hard to gather with the girls and just be able to go off. 2 1/2 months until we move out. 23+ years of life to figure out. Holy hell.

Let the games begin.

I’m baaaaackkkk…

Huh. It’s been an age now, hasn’t it? A friend sent me this, and well…

It feels like nothing has changed and yet *everything* has changed. I don’t know about you, but my reading is all whacked out and unpredictable, though I’m slowly starting to get back into it more. Part of that weirdness is because I ended up getting a full-time job, due to being furloughed and my husband getting furloughed as well. SOMEONE had to pay bills, right?

I’ve been lucky enough that this is the first full-time job I’ve needed to have in many years. I’ve always had part-time jobs and spent the rest of my time shuttling kids around. Especially with a competitive gymnast for many years – her sport *was* my job.

But now, she’s moved on from gymnastics, covid caused me my beloved bookselling job…and I’m working on a divorce. So…here I am? It’s such a weird world, where I can’t get together with my nearest and dearest for hugs and to run ideas and thoughts by them, or simply for a damn hug. So, I’m thinking I may be blogging again in order to express

So, I hope you’ll tag along for the ride. Some posts may be about books, some about divorce, some about kids, and some about my newish job – which I love, but boy it can be crazy. And…we’ll see where things go from here!

Review: Separated – Inside an American Tragedy

By now, we’re all familiar with kids in cages, yes? In fact, it’s been part of our national consciousness for quite some time now – long enough for it to have faded from mind with all the other things happening in the world. But for those families, and for those children – it will never fade from mind. Jacob Soboroff is one of the excellent reporters who helped to make sure the public knew what was happening. His book will, hopefully, help to bring this tragedy back around to our collective consciousness so that it actually STOPS happening – and never happens again.

Soboroff makes very clear that he was chasing another, completely different border story when the Trump administration began to seriously consider taking kids from their parents as a deterrent policy. He *also* makes very clear that, while President Obama’s administration considered the same policy? They decided NOT to go ahead with it. But by late 2016, as election season was ramping up, the Border Patrol began doing it anyway. Then came Trump.

He weaves the timeline through the beginning of the murmurs about separation, before he even knew about it, all the way through to now – when so many of the cast of characters are still involved in the Trump administration – and are botching the COVID crisis, just as they did the migrant one. He makes it clear as well – there is plenty of blame to go around. The Obama administration, in attempting to handle the crisis, opened the door to this – and Trump walked right on through.

This is a story that haunts those who reported it, who dealt with it, and who lived it. It’s ALSO a story that should haunt the rest of us, because this IS STILL HAPPENING. As he says in his author’s note: “Since the summer of 2017, the Trump administration has taken at least 5,556 kids from their parents. But still today, nobody knows for sure exactly how many families have been separated.[emphasis mine]”. The Border Patrol didn’t even bother to keep accurate records – and there are some children who are now orphans, when they should not be, because their parents were sent back without them.

Ultimately, this is a story of an administration willing to do anything – regardless of the morality, the ethics, or the damage – to make good on an impossible campaign promise. Anything, that is, except to do what actually worked – while the separations were at their peak, this administration was also canceling the aid to Central America that was funding programs that worked to help fix the migration crisis.

This is *also* a story of those rare folks who saw what was happening and tried to prevent it. When it became clear prevention was not possible, they did everything they could to try and ameliorate the damage. Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against them, and so we learn about Juan and his son Jose – two migrants who were running to escape with their lives from a drug cartel, and ended up in the United States just as the separation policy really took hold. Their stories are threaded throughout the book, as we see the system that failed them in all its ugliness. A system that continues to this day – one that we must NOT forget, and must hold accountable for the torture of so many people.

Black Lives Matter

How many of you are familiar with Trae Crowder, otherwise known as The Liberal Redneck? I started following him years ago, when something he said struck a chord with me (also, possibly hit my funnybone, because his brand of snark is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY).

So here’s the thing. I grew up in a very VERY small town. A very WHITE small town. Moved there when I was 11, I think? Though in all honesty, it wasn’t much different from the OTHER small *white* town I moved from. So while I did NOT grow up in the deep south (though I’ve lived there, when my husband was still enlisted), I can absolutely relate to a lot of the points he makes. And the best part is – he has a way of making those points that really encapsulates the stupidity, while also educating the listener. All, as I said, with a VERY healthy dose of snark.

My favorite short videos of his were always his porch rants. And this one, well…it hit home. Again, I didn’t grow up in the deep south, but I GUARANTEE that a large portion of the people I grew up spent a fair amount of time hiding shenanigans from the cops. Difference was, in that teeny-tiny WHITE town, that they weren’t gonna have their skulls bashed in or be killed “accidentally” for it. So. Without further ado – The Liberal Redneck and Black Lives Matter.

And if you are curious to hear/see more, here is his YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTHsQd-vRXK1bp4vpifl6yA/videos

So. There should be no question on where *I* stand, either. Black Lives Matter, and until we all get behind that, and work to change the built-in, systemic racism that literally BUILT OUR COUNTRY…then no lives can *truly* matter.

Review: The Great Influenza

“In ten days – ten days! – the epidemic had exploded from a few hundred civilian cases and one or two deaths a day to hundreds of thousands ill and hundreds of deaths a day.
Federal, municipal, and state courts closed…Physicians were themselves dying, three one day, two another, four the next. The newspapers reported those deaths – on inside pages with other obituaries – even while continuing to minimize the epidemic. Health and city workers wore masks constantly…
And city authorities and newspapers continued to minimize the danger.”

Reading those words above, it feels *easily* like something you might read in a newspaper or see on television right now, doesn’t it? There are states in our current pandemic that have continued to downplay COVID-19, saying, “It’s just the flu.”. But those words are related to history, and unfortunately, history is something easily dismissed or…altered…for those who prefer not to be *inconvenienced* by the lessons to be learned. Those words come from the book, The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry.

I’ll be honest – I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for a while now. I tend to be an emotional reader, one who has traveled with not only 3 or 4 books – but a Kindle as well, JUST. IN. CASE. But once we really started seeing not only COVID’s effects, but the absolute *refusal* of many to understand how much damage it can do, I was curious to read about the *other* pandemic – the one so many people are comparing *this* one to.

“It takes special trains to carry away the dead. For several days there were no coffins and the bodies piled up after something fierce….It beats any sight they ever had in France after a battle. An extra long barracks has been vacated for the use of the Morgue, and it would make any man sit up and take notice to walk down the long lines of dead soldiers all dressed and laid out in double rows…”

The interesting thing about this book is that Barry doesn’t just discuss the pandemic itself. He *also* talks about the scientists working feverishly on a vaccine, ANY vaccine, that might help somehow. He talks about the mindset of our country at the time – in a war, with a President who had no qualms about bending the laws to make sure every single citizen supported his goals. He gives a history of the science at the time, demonstrating both *how* and *why* the pandemic became as bad as it was. This isn’t to say that the book is boring – far from it. Barry does a good job tying all of this threads together in a seamless way, and it doesn’t drag along or get overly complicated.

“The disease has about reached its crest. We believe the situation is well in hand. From now on the disease will decrease.”

If you get a copy of this book to read, PLEASE do yourself a favor and get the updated version with the new afterword. It’s haunting to read about all the things that were put in place by our government and others after the H5N1 virus emerged, and to know that literally *none* of it was used during this current pandemic. It was also fascinating – and infuriating – to learn that even as China lied to the world about COVID, they had done the same thing with SARS.

“On September 28, marchers in the greatest parade in the city’s history proudly stepped forward. The paraders stretched at least two miles, two miles of bands, flags, Boy Scouts, women’s auxiliaries, marines, sailors, and soldiers. Several hundred thousand people jammed the parade route, crushing against one another to get a better look…It was a grand sight indeed…
The incubation period of influenza is twenty-four to seventy-two hours. Two days after the parade, Krusen issued a somber statement: ‘The epidemic is now present in the civilian population…'”.

It’s interesting as well that Barry discusses those in authority and the truth, particularly considering the current environment, where even simply wearing a mask has been politicized. One of the biggest faults found, looking back, on the governmental response to the 1918 epidemic was the way Wilson had co-opted messaging to the entire country, and how it did not allow for the truth to be shared. Rather, newspapers and governors all over the country (with the notable exception of San Francisco) kept to the party line – which only *increased* the fear felt by so many.

Society is, ultimately, based on trust; as trust broke down, people became alienated not only from those in authority, but from each other…

Those in authority must retain the public’s trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best.”

Overall, COVID or not, this is a book worth reading if you have any interest in the politics of healthcare, history, bacteriology, science, or influenza specifically. So many disparate pieces that make up the whole, and it truly does give a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of science, which seems to be similar to the pieces of a puzzle – only by turning those pieces just the right way, and just in conjunction with the pieces around it, will it snap into place and be what is needed at that moment.

“This was influenza, only influenza.”

#Bountygate

Well. 2020 is shaping up *nicely*, wouldn’t you say? And by “nicely”, I mean it’s this:

And every. single. time I think it can’t get worse? It does. But the latest thing, well…I don’t know that *anyone* saw this coming. Let’s chat about Mango Mussolini (MM) and #bountygate, shall we?

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/09/pentagon-ids-3-reserve-marines-killed-ied-attack-afghanistan.html

I served. My husband did 25 and retired. We have friends and family from all the branches spread out all over the place. BUT EVEN WITHOUT ALL THAT – the idea, the *possibility* another country would offer literal BOUNTIES for the lives of American and allied troops is (or SHOULD BE) abhorrent. Sickening. Wrong at the highest levels. That this administration has apparently known about this since *2019* is something I’m literally having trouble wrapping my brain around. Why? Because in the meantime, MM and Putin have chatted on the phone like besties, the Taliban (the actual killers in this insanity) were invited to Camp David, Putin was invited by MM back into G8…AND NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT OUR PEOPLE. Not even a sternly worded tweet.

The excuse that he didn’t know isn’t gonna wash. Either he knew and decided he’d once again go with his BFF’s word over our (and our allies’!) intelligence agencies, *or* he’s such a fool that they were afraid to tell him.

People. I shouldn’t have to say this, but – NEITHER OF THOSE OPTIONS IS GOOD. And the sickening part, to me, is that there were some bounties collected. At last count – that I know of – at least three. Three Marines whose families will never have their sons, their brothers, their husbands, their daddies come home again. Three Marines who signed on the line to risk their lives, but NOT to be PURCHASED LIKE MEAT.

And the GOP? They’ve enabled this. Every step of the way.

Look. The long and short of it is this – if you’re a veteran, or active duty, or have family that are, and you’re still supporting MM after this? You really need to evaluate why. What is that support getting you? Because cheering on another country that is literally paying to kill your people is…sickening. Un-American. Disloyal. Possibly even traitorous. And THAT shouldn’t need to be said, either.

And yet. Here we are.

It’s my B-B-B-BIRTHDAY. Almost.

Miss Addie & Nyx

Good morning! So those two yahoos up above? They are the two dogs I’m currently fostering for an organization called Northwest Battle Buddies (NWBB). By now, we’ve *all* heard the statistic: 22 veterans PER DAY end their lives. PER DAY, PEOPLE. These are folks suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and not seeing any other way out of their pain but to end their lives. It’s horrifying that this number is as high as it is, though ANY number other than ZERO is too high. Here’s where NWBB comes in.

Nyx likes bean bags. On couches.

This amazing group, led by a multiple award-winning dog trainer, trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. The veterans DO NOT pay for their dogs. The org covers the costs, fueled by donations and fundraisers. These pups get more training than *any other* PTSD service dog program, culminating in a 6 week training session with their new partners.

Addie gets herself…stuck. Again.

Here’s where YOU come in. I’m doing a fundraiser on Facebook (don’t @ me, please) for my birthday – and you can donate! When COVID showed up, all training had to stop, and you can imagine the pain this has caused all of us involved. Donations have slowed as well, making their job just that much more difficult. And here’s the thing:
Some of these veterans, that get these dogs? They may have barely left their house FOR YEARS. These dogs give them a freedom that they can barely remember, and a HOPE that they’ve long been denied. These brave folks helped to ensure *we* have our freedom, so now it’s OUR turn to help them have theirs. And YOU can directly take part.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Another donation option is their new drive, Operation Never Quit. $22 a month. $1 for each veteran who dies. Here’s the link:

https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/operation-never-quit/

For more information, I *highly* encourage you to visit their website and watch their 5-part Vision of Hope video series. Each video is short, but gives a great overview of their mission, and very powerfully shows how their mission is making a direct impact on the lives of struggling veterans.

https://www.northwestbattlebuddies.org/a-vision-of-hope/

My dear friend Phil, with his NWBB service dog Rimfire

Not everyone is suited for battle, but we can ALL make a difference in the life of someone who made the decision to write that blank check for their country.

And how can you deny THIS: