Wake Up America!


If you are a Democrat, Progressive, Independent or Liberal your world is reeling right now. So just what does being one of “those” mean to me? It means I care about my fellow humans. It means  I acknowledge they have the same rights that I have…rights afforded to us by our Constitution. It means if I see an injustice in progress, I will voice an objection. It means I believe that everyone should be entitled to a decent wage for services rendered. It means  I believe women and men doing the same job should be equal on the pay scale. It means I value our environment. It means  I acknowledge climate change.  It means  women’s rights are human rights. It means  I believe  healthcare is a right not a privilege for the rich. It means I believe that public schools are a good and necessary thing. It means I am a patriot. It means I am an American first and this means more to me than a party name.

In a perfect world, everyone would take care of their neighbors or people in need. Unfortunately, the world is not filled with altruistic people. It also contains self-centered people, individuals driven by greed, individuals who live by the philosophy of “every man for himself”. The mindset of these people makes it necessary for there to be laws that enforce protections for the weak or vulnerable among us. It would be a perfect world if every state would do its part, but unfortunately, once again, this doesn’t always happen. For years, Jim Crow laws in the South have suppressed the African-American vote. And even when it wasn’t a law, there existed an undercurrent of “that’s just the way it is done”.

I vividly remember as a child seeing different restrooms for white and “colored”, different water fountains labeled white and colored and when riding a public transportation bus, the accepted norm in the South was that blacks sat in the back of the bus. As a 5-year-old I recognized the unfairness of these Southern social norms. I was fortunate enough to have been raised by parents that weren’t racist..a Mother from North Dakota and a Father from deep in the heart of Alabama. I witnessed my Father getting phone calls in the middle of the night from his African-American truck drivers who had some problem. My Father got in the car and went to help them, to fix the problem, because back then a white man carried more weight than a black man, a white man could fix the problem, and a black man was the “problem” in a white controlled southern environment. From my birth I had a beautiful, loving, kind, gentle black woman who nurtured and cared for me as if I was her own. Daisy was my second Mom. I saw the inconsistencies of those Southern norms… when my Mother was at work and Daisy cared for me in our home, she used the same bathroom we did. Yet when Daisy walked me to the grocery store I saw the signs designating different restrooms for white and colored. At our home, Daisy drank from the same glasses we used, sat at our table and ate lunch with me. She fiercely defended me by chasing a neighborhood friend away with a broom when he tossed a rope around my neck. She loved me and I loved her. And yet outside the walls of our home, she was treated differently, like a second class citizen. As young as I was, I sensed the wrongness of all of this. Only as an adult after reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, did I come to realize all of the horrible things that blacks endured which had never crossed my mind. It never occured to me because I was white, blue-eyed, blond hair.  Because of these simple physical characteristics endowed to me by the luck of my birth, I never had to endure what blacks had to endure. And when I saw the movie The Help, I sobbed my way through the entire movie. I felt shame. Shame that I inherited just because of the whiteness of my skin. It burned me and left its mark upon my soul.

How was this inequity fixed? The Civil Rights movement of the 60’s and the phenomenal efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and President Lyndon B. Johnson, made these changes come to fruition. With the Civil Rights Act, some of the inequities began to slowly but surely be removed. But not completely. Southern states and polecat politicians created new Jim Crow laws in attempts to suppress the black voter. Jim Crow was disguised as poll taxes, redistricting, limited voting sites, gerrymandering, changing polling locations and ID laws, all popular methods of suppressing minority voters. A simple solution to eliminate these problems…when you are born you are automatically registered to vote. A simple concept and it eliminates controversy. If you are born here then you simply get to vote.


Change doesn’t happen quickly. It can be painful and it takes patience and tenacity to make it happen. Generations of feet marching, beaten, bloodied bodies and too many senseless deaths have paved that long road to equality.

The federal government has to be the watchdog over the states because unfortunately not all states promote equality. I find it very interesting that the Conservative movement of the Republican Party spouts constitutionality and shouts individual rights, but when it comes time for common sense, they fall way short. The recent elimination of a ban on mentally ill being able to purchase guns is a prime example. Paid for and supported by the NRA, the politicians who are just looking for a paycheck, accept donations from this organization and basically are participating in a “pay for play” agreement. It matters not that it makes absolutely no sense to allow mentally ill people the right to purchase guns. Another example is their fierce obsession with pro-life issues. They rant and rave about the rights of the unborn, but when it comes to funding programs for these children after they are born…they simply vanish into the woodwork. Example… eliminating free lunch programs for children of the poor who might be receiving the only meal they will have for the entire day. Where are the Conservatives and caring people who tout individual rights when these protections are non-existent or eliminated? If Conservatives truly cared, then they would fiercely defend those children after they are born with the  same fervor they exhibited when that child was in utero.

I have never been so ashamed of my country as I am today in this political climate. Truth and veracity are being tossed aside, hope is being squashed, and constitutional rights are being trampled. First the Muslim ban was invoked. Then the undocumented were targeted…Transgenders were next on the list. Freedom of the press is being pummeled now. Who or what will be next? Keep a list and tick them off, because what you are witnessing in the United States of America today is, in Steve Bannon’s cruel and sinister words, the “deconstruction” of the United States as we have known it for 240 years. He and his minions have chosen Cabinet members precisely because they are opposed to those government branches. The goal…to bring it all down. When will you reach your moment, your “I’ve had enough this isn’t fair and I can’t live with myself if I support this annihilation of my country moment?” I long ago passed my “moment”. My heart aches. Not over losing an election but for the loss of a beautiful thing…The United States of America.

Resist! Persist!


Winter Birding

I mentioned previously about taking a sparrow class in an attempt to demystify some of the little brown birds that all seem to look alike. Our instructor, Dr. Birdie, has great knowledge about these members of the bird world and did a great job of imparting his knowledge to us. We would meet Wednesday nights  to discuss and view different sparrows common to the Austin area, learning their markings, differences,  and preferred habitats and haunts. The field notes provided were used by me to sketch and paint the different birds in my attempt to help my brain remember some of those characteristics.


On Saturdays, we had our field trips to different popular birding areas in the Austin area to try to actually locate and get up close and personal with some of the birds we studied. Some of the ones we were chasing were obvious…black throated sparrow, rufous crowned sparrow but others are so similar that I am still having difficulty determining the accuracy of my sightings without Dr. Birdie there to help guide me through the identification process.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Small birds move quickly, darting in and out throughout grasses, bushes and shrubs. This rapid movement makes it challenging for my identification skills. We trudged our way through waist-high grasses and tried to surround one La Conte Sparrow for at least 30 minutes. In the end the sparrow won, flying easily away each time we though we had cornered him leaving behind some very tired and frustrated bird searchers. Did I see the bird…yes. Could I identify him again if he sat still long enough for me to study his markings…perhaps. The only thing I “caught” for sure on that particular day were some chiggers.

I have learned over the past few years that improving my bird identification skills is a long-range process. And slowly but surely, I am getting better. But at the rate I am progressing, I will probably expire before I become a super expert. That really doesn’t bother me though because I still get excited with each bird I see, my eyes constantly scanning my surroundings just in case something new and different or old, tried and true appears within my scope of vision. You see, it is the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the sighting and the satisfaction of making the identification that bring an immeasurable amount of  joy into my life.

Debris on the banks of Lake Somerville

Happy winter bird searching!


Nest Architecture

In the Springtime, Mother Nature signals all her bird species to begin the long process of building a family. A family needs a place to live and grow, and the nests of different bird species differ as much as the birds who build them. Some are meticulously woven and others are just a shallow hollowed space in the dirt or mud. Some are colonial nesters and others are solitary. The various materials used differ by species as well, with some bird species having a particular fondness for certain nest-building materials.

As the young birds grow, the nest takes a beating. Throughout the whole process, many bird species will continue bringing in twigs, sticks, moss to repair and reinforce the basic nest structure if need be. And after the young birds have fledged and the nest is abandoned, it may fall into complete disarray and remain that way until the following Spring when the parents may return and “remodel and update” as they begin the procreation cycle again. Or, another bird species may decide that what remains is a fine home and may move in to raise their brood.

Cavity Dwellers
Oriole Nest

Bird nest 2

Pileated Woodpecker Home


Carolina Wren Nest
Baby Eagles


Juvenile Osprey

Whatever the building materials, wherever it may be located, Spring is just around the corner as evidenced by bluebonnets dotting our highways, redbud trees bursting into bloom and the light green tinge on many trees signaling that the sap is running, time is of the essence and a new cycle of life has begun. Birds are feverishly seeking mates, selecting a nest site, gathering nesting materials as the race is on to have a home for their offspring. Everybody needs a home.

Happy bird searching!!!

Новый образ жизни-A New Way of Life

So, I am attempting to adjust to a new America and I am equating it to taking my medicine. I don’t particularly like it, but it is a necessary evil. Like medicine, I can only manage it if the dose is  small. To that end, I am trying to force myself to watch at least 15 minutes each day of Fox (Fantasy) News in an attempt to gain insight into the Orwellian alternative world of alternative facts. I think that this may be beneficial to me in maintaining my sanity and retaining my grip on reality and true facts.


I have also decided to increase my alcohol content each day with a shot of vodka. I think that in the near future imbibing in the national drink of Russia may help me to blend into the new America/Russia alliance. If nothing else, it will ease the pain of the birthing process of our combined nationalism and assimilation.


And thirdly, I also think that a handy survival skill will be knowing how to speak Russian. So to that end, I have begun to learn a new Russian phrase each week, a phrase that may help me survive in the new world. Is it easy? Het! (See I have already begun!)

Bozhe, khrani ameriku

I still remain hopeful, that saner minds will put country before party and remove someone who has demonstrated that he is incapable of leading our country and keeping us safe. One has only to listen or read the entire transcript of his latest “press conference” to see  clear irrefutable  evidence of his illiteracy and incompetence. Heil President tRump…I mean Bannon….oops Putin. So confusing right now! I think I need more vodka!!!

Torn, battered, but still waving!


Can A Teddy Bear Tear Down A Wall?

Today I bought a $10 teddy bear that I spotted when I walked into the grocery store. There was a huge display of them, all sizes, displayed to entice shoppers into purchasing one for a Valentine’s Day gift. Don’t ask me why I bought one but buy one I did. Later I found myself examining why I bought that silly stuffed bear. And then it dawned on me. The moment I spotted that bear I felt a part of me begin to dissolve. The bear was my key to acceptance. Accepting I must have faith that eventually right will conquer wrong.


Why you ask? What is so special about a stuffed bear and how in the world could such an object affect me so? The answer?…..my best friend has a huge stuffed bear that she literally hauls everywhere she goes. That stupid grocery store bear began hammering at my wall that has strained my relationship with both her and my very own sister in the present political climate. I will continue my fight for those who can’t, but allowing my angst, depression and frustration about the fate of our nation cannot cleave my best friend, my soul sister or my blood sister out of my life. That stupid grocery store bear began hammering at my wall to join my soul sister’s bear where two hearts can once again be joined as one.
I will continue to walk in protest, mail postcards to politicians, call, email, fax and tweet when I feel they are in violation of civil rights, in violation of our Constitution and generally lacking in morals and ethics. I am one small cog in the wheel of America but one small act of peaceful protest each day helps me to survive. But once my wall is down, I hope to bring some light and joy back into my life by continuing my fight as a patriot but removing my battle armaments and setting them aside whenever I am enjoying time with my besties, the people I love.
I find it ironic that 45 rose to the Presidency with a battle cry of “Build the Wall”, because on the campaign trail he built many walls across our nation. Walls between husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers. This has happened only one other time in our nation’s history…The Civil War. Then as now, our Constitution and our Democracy was and is being challenged. Our democracy is a beautiful system with three different branches of government creating checks and balances that have insured our democracy’s survival for 240 years.  I must trust that our forefathers created a living document that will be strong enough to endure.
Now my new bear and I have to get busy. It is hard work tearing down a wall.