Sam & Elijah

Sam & Elijah

Killed by a cop with hate on his shirt
But he didn’t know just what you were worth
Doing what you did for just a lick on the hand
Someday I hope I get to shake that hand
You weren’t perfect but who the hell is
Someday I hope I get to shake your hand man

You’re gone because you were different
So much talent & we won’t get to hear it
Please watch all those little souls in the sky
Like you they were too young to die
Play your song and sing them to sleep
Pray the Lord for our souls to keep

Doing what you did for just a lick on the hand
Someday I hope I get to shake your hand

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A Tale of Two Ladies

Two wonderful women have died in the last two weeks. The first was my grandmother, Mildred Baber. She was born in 1926 and was raised a middle child in a Christian home in small-town Kentucky. Quiet and unassuming, she was the president of her high school class (a fact I didn’t learn until her funeral) and attended Transylvania University. She married a World War II Navy veteran and had two children. The marriage didn’t last through no fault of her own. However, she continued raising her kids as a single parent working as a secretary for Avon. She took early retirement in the early 1970s to take care of me during the day while my mom worked. She continued to help raise all of us grandkids, as well as great grand-kids, nieces and nephews as long as she was able. 

Grandma played piano for her church circle and lodge. She considered it her civic duty to vote. Although she didn’t always vote the way I would have liked her to, she voted in every election until the last few years of her life. Although she never thought of herself as pretty, she wouldn’t have been caught dead at church or a meeting without wearing a matching outfit, jewelry, shoes and purse. Despite us as kids sometimes driving her crazy to the point of chasing us up the sidewalk with a twig or fly swatter, she rarely cursed. She remained spry and lived independently until well into her eighties. She spent the last few years of her life experiencing dementia between a nursing home and my mom’s house, but she retained her occasional chuckle and sense of humor until near the end. She was a consummate lady.

The second woman I’m referring to was, of course, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was born Jewish in Brooklyn, New York in 1933. Studious and serious yet wry, she graduated from Cornell before marrying Marty Ginsburg, an attorney. She had children before graduating from Columbia Law School. She served as a law professor, volunteered for the ACLU, argued cases before the Supreme Court, became a federal judge and of course was eventually appointed as just the second woman on the Supreme Court bench. 

Ginsburg cast votes and wrote opinions allowing marriage equality and upholding rights for women, immigrants and people with disabilities. She became known to the younger generation as “the notorious RBG,” and she giggled at the bobbleheads created in her honor. Although she was a self-avowed liberal, she maintained a friendship and love of opera with fellow and conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. In recent years, she fought through multiple rounds of cancer. However, she rarely missed work, sometimes casting votes from her hospital bed. She too was a consummate lady.

I wonder which of the two suffered more at the end of their lives: Grandma, mostly not feeling well in bed slowly losing her faculties, or Ginsburg, not feeling that she could rest or retire even as she trudged through cancer treatment. One thing is clear. Both, having left a legacy of well-lived lives in the service of others, can now rest at peace. It is now up to us to try to preserve and improve our society. We have to act on a local level, even and especially during this pandemic, to help others and care for the environment. And for God’s sake, we have to vote. We owe it to them.

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Bird’s Eye View

When I came home today, I saw a bird trapped by the leg in the fountain on the front porch. It was thrashing violently trying to get loose. Another bird was flying around screeching too. The other bird was very upset about its friend’s predicament. I put down the groceries and tried to pry the bars on the fountain apart. When that didn’t work, I had to move the bird’s bloody leg up until it got free. It fell to the ground. Its bird friend was still flying around furiously. By the time I ran into the house to get a towel to try to wrap the injured bird in and got back outside, it had disappeared along with its friend.

I don’t usually pay much attention to the birds that gather on the power lines in front of the house until they crap on my car. I know birds are social animals, but I was still struck by the care shown by the second bird for its friend. It got me thinking. If birds can show care and concern for each other, why can’t we humans, with our much bigger brains, care about each other in the same way?

Right now we are facing a virus. In order to reopen the economy, we should all be gladly wearing masks in public and social distancing to protect each other. However, a vocal minority has somehow decided that wearing masks is akin to bowing down to fascism.

We have seen the latest in a series of unarmed black men killed by police. Instead of demanding charged be filed against the police involved, some are arguing about the ensuing protests and riots.

Here in Ky, we have also seen armed self-appointed militia hanging an effigy of our Governor on state capitol grounds.

Our society seems to be more politically and economically fragmented than ever. Not to be too simplistic, but maybe we could all learn a lesson from two birds who helped and cared for each other just because that’s what they should do.

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Tiger King: King of Animal and Human Abuse

If you are one of the vast majority who has helped fill your quarantine time by watching Tiger King on Netflix, you have seen the batshit drama unfold between Joe Exotic, the gay, pro-gun exotic animal dealer, and Carole Baskin, the director of Big Cat Rescue who may have killed her husband. What the docudrama showed less of was the abuse inflicted on the animals at the center of the drama.

The show did a little better job of showing the abusive conditions for the human workers at the roadside zoos. While Joe groomed and lured vulnerable teens and young men with drugs and kept employees in rat-infested living conditions with only expired meat to eat, Jeff and Antle surrounded themselves with young women in a cult-like environment. Tim Stark of nearby Wildlife in Need even made an appearance with typical profanity-laden commentary.

The treatment of the people involved is similar in many ways to that of Randy Skaggs of the Trixie Foundation in Ky. Although he deals in the “sanctuary” of dogs and cats rather than big cats, his methods are similar to Joe’s. He lures vulnerable people for employment, doesn’t pay them a fair wage, sets them up in sub-par housing and isolates them.

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the fact that animal abusers and human abusers are many times one and the same. If Tiger King accomplishes anything, it shows that to be reality.

If you’re feeling a little dirty after watching the show, please consider taking positive action. Contact your Congressional delegate and ask them to vote for the Big Cat Act.

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My Coronavirus Diary

From random woman in Podunk, USA:
Week 1-3/2
This week, like the last couple weeks, we’ve been seeing on the news about the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, actually a new strain of virus, that originated in a meat market in China. The only Americans known to be infected are some who have traveled on cruise ships in the area and are now quarantined. Some funny memes are going around on the internet, like “Get some Lyme with your Corona…” Life is going on pretty much as normal.

Week 2-3/9

The Governor has been giving news conferences daily, sometimes multiple times a day. He’s being very calm and reassuring. At last count, there were still 5 cases of Coronavirus diagnosed in Ky. Unfortunately, 3 of those cases are in the county next to mine. Trump, after telling people just a few days ago that Coronavirus isn’t much worse than the flu and to go to work, last night gave an address that was much more concerning. He’s closing incoming travel to European countries, other than the UK. The NBA just cancelled its season. The NCAA tournament is to be played without spectators. Tom Hanks was diagnosed with Coronavirus. Colleges are going to online classes or cancelling semesters altogether. My 16-year-old son was very disappointed that he still had to go to school.

Week 3-3/16

There are now 22 cases in Ky. The first case in my county was also the first death in the state. DisneyWorld is closed. Derby has been postponed. Bars and restaurants are now closed. Restaurants can still have carryout and delivery. Schools are closed. My son is doing online school in Google Classroom. I work in state government, which has been encouraged to shut down by 50%. Many of our attorneys are working at home. Since I’m support staff, I’m currently still working in the office everyday. No one seems to know if this will go on for weeks or months.

Week 4-3/22We now have over 40 cases confirmed in the state. There are many more, but people can’t get tested. As of yesterday, we were still scheduled to alternate shifts at work. However, since then, there is more than one presumed positive case in our building. So now we will all be working from home while hoping we haven’t been exposed. I’m thankful to still have a job when so many have been laid off. My husband’s store hours have been reduced, but he’s still going to work around the public.

California (all of it) has now been ordered to shelter in place. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that here, but I won’t be surprised if we are. I’m not surprised by much anymore. I’m trying to stick to somewhat of a schedule for normalcy. I hope to get some house cleaning done, get my car washed and get the yard mowed while this is going on. I’m walking the dogs. I’m trying to combine trips so I don’t have to leave home more than once a day. I’m washing my hands like I’m scrubbing for surgery after each trip. Let’s just hope this ends sooner rather than later.

Week 5 4-1 The US now has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world. Ky has over 500 cases and almost 20 deaths. I’m still working at home. My husband’s still working. If we get sick, I’m pretty sure exposure will be due to his job. I’m trying to keep busy helping my son with NTI homework, working, cleaning, practicing piano, coloring etc. I’m so freaking bored, yet stressed too. We’ve been told stay at home orders will continue until the month at least. That means no Easter family dinner or church, which is depressing. I know we’re luckier than some. We have a place to live and can get by. I feel really bad for those who are sick or have lost jobs. I also feel bad for my nephew. This is his senior year in high school, but there will be no prom. Graduation is questionable. I’m so ready for this to be over…

Week 6? 4/11 So tomorrow is Easter. We won’t go to church. We won’t go to my mom’s for dinner on the first holiday after my dad died. I’ve made potato salad, slaw and eggs, and my husband will fry chicken for just the three of us. The Easter Bunny was declared an essential worker by the Governor this week (lol), so there will be candy. Anyway, happy freakin Easter. Sorry, trying to be positive, but this sucks.

Week? 5/4 I’m not sure what week it is now. I’m still working at home. My son won’t be going back to school this year. My nephew won’t be having a traditional graduation anytime soon. I’m just hoping marching band will be able to continue this summer. Ky now has 200+ deaths. I have no idea how many cases there are state-wide. Testing has increased. Some businesses are re-opening this week, with more slated to re-open throughout the month. I still don’t know when we in state government will return to the office. There has been no discussion of when dine-in restaurants, movie theaters or swimming pools will open. I feel really bad for those who have lost loved ones, but I, like everyone else, am so beyond ready for this to be over. One bright spot: the Trixie Foundation, a hoarding “sanctuary” had its 100+ dogs removed this weekend. I, along with many others, helped carry them out through the mud to another location where they are being assessed, vetted and placed into foster care. Why they decided to raid the place during a pandemic, I don’t know. I’m glad they are safe though. Here’s a link with more info:

Week ? 5/27 The initial wave of the virus appears to be ebbing. Although my sisters have returned to work at Toyota, I’m still working from home in my state job. In the past week, restaurants have re-opened for indoor dining (with reduced capacity), and hair and tanning salons have re-opened. It will be interesting to see if there is a spike in cases in a couple weeks. It is still uncertain if my son’s marching band will be able to have a season for his upcoming senior year.

Week @40

It’s almost Christmas. We’ve been at this now for almost a year. People have died, people have gone bankrupt. But we are now seeing a timeframe for vaccines on the horizon. Next week healthcare workers and nursing home residents may start to be vaccinated. Most of us will have the chance to get a vaccine in the next couple months.

Let’s consider quitting petty ignorant bickering over personal freedoms of wearing a mask and whether schools are closed. Let’s take advantage of this last chance to show some humanity and get vaccinated to protect ourselves and each other, so we can get back some semblance of normality.

My senior has missed his senior year of school. There was no marching band competitive season, no homecoming dance, no pep rally. There will be no prom and probably no graduation ceremony. Friends have missed the chance to say final goodbyes to family and friends who died. First responders have missed time with their families. Service workers have missed pay and will not be able to afford electric bills, much less Christmas gifts for their kids.

Don’t let their loss be in vain. Stay safe, get vaccinated when you can and let’s get the hell past this!

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Ky injustice

Jonathan Watkins was recently charged with animal torture after it was discovered that he skinned several neighbors’ dogs to make a fur coat in Floyd County. While few would deny he is mentally ill, people are rightfully concerned that he needs to be institutionalized for the public’s safety. This was true as well, when he killed a relative and jailer in 2012, was found incompetent and released.

A little known loophole in Ky law allows criminals with mental illness who are found incompetent to avoid trial and be released, regardless of the severity of their crimes. Many remember Cane Madden, who after being released from jail due to incompetence after biting a woman, molested a child in Louisville.

The vast majority of people with mental illness are non-violent and are more likely to be crime victims that perpetrators. However, for cases like Madden and Watkins, legislators need to find a workable solution for the small minority who are a danger to society.

PS Some of the horses found shot in Floyd Co may have also been partially skinned…

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Happy New Year

My dad passed recently after a long illness, so this post may seem inappropriately named. However, his passing and the holidays have given me a chance to reflect.

He was a great man and dad, but he could be selfish and singleminded in his farming pursuits. As a girl and then woman, I’ve always been conditioned to think of others. However, I have made a conscious choice to try to be more like him. He accomplished a lot during his life, working and growing a farm to almost 100 acres with as many head of cattle and a handful of horses and crops to boot. He left my mom and us the harvest of his labors, literally. However, at various times, accomplishing that meant he didn’t attend every school function, track meet or band competition.

For those who already think I’m selfish, I can only say you ain’t seen nothing yet. In 2020, I plan to try to transport more rescue animals, improve my appearance, work on my financial and physical health. I figure money I save cutting down on smoking can be spent at the salon and tanning bed. Time not spent helping my son with his homework may give him greater independence as well. I guess I’d like to try to have more positive interactions with others too, but I don’t want to aim too high.

So Dad, thanks for the example of a life selfishly well-lived. I will do my best to live up to the legacy. Happy New Year, everyone!

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Sport of Kings?

Having lived my entire life in Ky, I love the Ky Derby. I love the horses, the beautiful Churchhill Downs grounds, the hats, burgoo and even the hedonistic infield and nasty mint juleps.

That said, something horrible is going on in the racing industry. People much smarter and more informed than I have not entirely narrowed down why, but horses are dying and being euthanized at an alarming rate.

This year alone, according to the group Horseracing Wrongs, hundreds of horses have died as a result of racing. Are more horses dying now, or are the deaths being reported more? Is the cause track conditions, drugs, breeding, or a combination of all? Are incidents just being reported more often?

The issue of the fate of retired racehorses is a whole other problem. Although horse slaughter is currently outlawed in the US, there are not even good numbers of the horses who are trucked annually by kill buyers to their deaths in Canada and Mexico.

I don’t have the answers, but I know we need to get them. The horse racing industry is a big part of Kentucky’s economy. Hearing “My Old Kentucky Home” still gives me chills. However, it’s not as chilling as seeing the above list of dead horses. Please join me in insisting on answers before continuing to support this sport.

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Kashina Harper, a store clerk in St Louis, MO, hit live on facebook when an officer was shot in the store. She has since received death threats and vile comments, even after the video was removed. She later apologized and said she was not sure why she posted the video. The video did show her trying to comfort the officer and call for help.

Although posting the video of the aftermath of the shooting was perhaps in questionable judgment, I can imagine why she may have done it. First, with all the distrust of police in the black community, having a record of events is probably a commonly-accepted practice. In this case, however, the officer acted appropriately but was shot and killed.

Second, taking video seems to be the first thought at most activities today. Go to a concert, restaurant, or any public event. Then tag yourself, your pictures and video on social media.

I feel empathy for Ms. Harper after experiencing a similar albeit on a smaller scale level of online bullying after I opposed Mike Vick’s appearance at a recent football camp. I was called racist, told to die and many other unpleasant things.

With all the pressing issues today, from kids being kept in cramped, dirty, lice-infested camps without adult supervision to the environment being destroyed by regulation rollbacks, do people have nothing better to do than harass others online?

What possesses people to think that because they are typing behind a screen rather that interacting directly, they have the right to speak to a stranger as if they’re subhuman? How did this become acceptable enough that people behave this way and don’t give it a second thought? Is it technology? Is it the current political climate and leadership? I don’t know the answers, but I know it’s not acceptable. Maybe Melania Trump should focus her Be Best non-bullying program on adults rather than children.

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Mila Part Deux


When I was in my mid-20s, I was visiting my cousin’s apartment with my sister and baby niece.  Her roommate’s pit bull had just had puppies.  Having only known what the media said about pit bulls, I was terrified to let my niece loose in the apartment.  I held her on my lap in a chair, fighting her efforts to free herself to see the doggies.  She got loose and reached one of the puppies before I reached her.  “Doggy,” she said, laughing and petting it.  The mom looked at her.  Then she licked her.

In the years since, I’ve volunteered in shelters, transported and met lots of nice pits and many other dogs.   I never owned a pit until meeting foster failure Mila a few years ago though.  Well actually, she’s only 25% American Staffordshire Terrier.  She’s also 12.5% Boxer, 12.5% Heeler, and 50% Asian groups, whatever they may be.  Nonetheless, she’s come to represent Dog to me in a way not even Broadway, my previous “favorite” dog of all time, did.  Her licks, farts and stupid faces are some of my favorite things in the world.  I love my son, husband and family, but I’d probably miss her absence more than most people’s.  Even though she’s only 3 1/2, I’m already dreading the day she won’t be there anymore.

I say all of the above to explain how annoyed and sad I feel when people say they would never have a “pit bull.”  Although pit bull isn’t actually a breed designation, most people know what’s meant by the term:  big, blocky head and muscular, compact body.  What some may not know is that one that is of sound temperament is generally fiercely loyal, protective and goofy.  Although there are many exceptions, they tend to not do great with cats or other small prey animals, and some may be dog-selective, depending on socialization.  Typically they love their human families tremendously.  Any time there is a publicized dog bite, it seems if the breed involved is any other than a pit, the headline says “Dog bite” if anything.  If it involves a pit, it’s something more along the lines of “Pit Bull Attack”

No wonder some people who haven’t been around them are wary.  I’m just glad I got to know one.  Since I’m not in an area encumbered by ridiculous breed bans,  I’m sure she’ll be the first of many.  Although, no other dog could lick or fart just like she does, I know there will be many more in need with that familiar fat head and meaty thighs just waiting to be patted.

By the way my niece still loves pitties.

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