If You Build a House on Sand…

Unfortunately this bird chose the wrong location to erect her nest. There is a spot where one gutter opens out onto a metal roof and then another gutter continues beneath it. This bird thought the open mouth of the gutter tube looked like a great place to build a nest. It was sheltered from the wind, too high for the cats to reach, and provided some structural support to keep the little ones from rolling out of the nest. What she didnt know was that she was building her nest in a place that would soon fill with a torrent of water and push anything in its path out of the tube, sending her nest and the babies in it crashing to the ground. I think it is a testament to her twig configuration that neither egg cracked when the nest tumbled from the building to the pavement below. Building ones home in the mouth of a gutter isn’t a good idea, even in Texas. Even Texas gets rain once every three or four years. Unfortunately for this bird, we did get heavy rains this year and her nest is no more. I do think its sad the amount of trash they are collecting to build their nests in the city. At my house they often swipe dryer lint, dog fur, or chicken feathers, but here you see she has used straight up trash to make a nursery for her babies. I feel for her. I wish we had noticed that the object on the ground was a nest sooner than we did. We could have gotten the ladder and tried to put it back up, maybe in a nearby tree. Unfortunately, until i clocked the tiny eggs, we just thought it was a pile of trash and weeds in the parking lot washed together by the recent rain.

Life Rolls On

I didn’t have a full weekend off from work, only Sunday, because I had to go in Saturday to make up for Thursday when i had to stay home with a critically ill chicken. I nursed her back from the brink of death only for her to give up, refusing to eat or drink further. Now im having an ongoing argument with this chicken on whether she’s going to drink apple cider vinegar water and coconut oil and she thinks absolutely, unequivocally “no” so i spend hours of my Sunday pinning her to the floor and holding a spoon of liquid under her beak, negotiating some semblance of drinking while she flings the spoon at me and smears poop on my foot. Im meant to be mowing the lawn and using the internet at my friend’s homestead to upload the final copy of my third book for formatting, but i havent even finished my final read through for grammatical errors nor have i fetched the mower, because ive been here fighting with this chicken, entertaining every possibility from her being egg bound to an intestinal infection. I have been through it with this chicken, including an epson salt bath in the sink and going up in there with a finger coated in coconut oil looking for a stuck egg. Its not looking fantastic, prognosis wise. This reality has not kept me from trying. Its not over until its over. Needless to say, i did not get a lot of other stuff done this week. So Sunday i achieved laundry and kept the sick chicken alive for another day. I didnt cook or pickle any of the food i was supposed to cook or pickle. I didnt wash the dishes. I did clean and refill the chicken water dispenser because i was concerned the poop they deposit in and on it may have been a source of the problem with the chicken living in the house right now and i wanted to make sure the others stayed healthy. Around 7:45 pm i was finishing up the evening chores when i noticed the recent weeks of sporadic rain had fed the grasses and thistles in the dog run in an epic way and the jungle in there was now shoulder height to the dogs. It was borderline uninhabitable. I couldnt leave it like that if i expected to put them outside in the dog run while i worked tomorrow. It had literally just rained an hour ago. It was not the time to mow. The time to mow would have been when the grass was dry this morning. There was no use in wasting waning daylight talking about it. It would have to be done. I put a battery in the mower and dragged it from the shed. I ran around the dog run with a headphone in one ear and my other listening for a change in the noise of the mower so i knew when to turn it on its side and use a stick to scrape the wet thistle and grass gunk out from underneath the mower. The mosquitos were eating me alive and Cashew was forever challenging the mower to a duel as if it was some sentient being that could be bested in battle. I kept finding these fat poisonous mushrooms in amongst the thistles. When the blade would slice into them the insides were beige with a sickening bluish tint to them. All i could think about was how much trouble we would be in if Cashew found and ate one of these while i was at work two towns away. Cashew was not to be trusted with poisonous mushrooms. I tried to keep them whole and chucked them all over the fence, away from her reach. As i ran around the dog run, swatting wildly at mosquitos, my intention was to mow the front half of the dog run so that they at least had some relief from the chigger laden tall grass and pokey thistle area. Then i found some yucca and prickly pear cactus that had to go. Pretty soon i had mowed more than half the dog run. I switched batteries and attempted to finish mowing the whole thing, save for the sloppy edges against the fence. I was in a time crunch and working against fading daylight so i didnt bother with them. With one quarter of the dog run left to mow i heard metal spinning against metal and ordered the dogs away as i took my fingers off the button and let the blades spin to a stop. I turned the mower over and realized the gunk had caused the blades to loosen quite a bit and i would need a wrench to tighten them. There wasnt any time to raise my hands to the heavens and ask all sorts of self involved questions about why my life couldnt be easier and things couldnt go more according to plan. I walked to the house, fetched a wrench, tightened the mower blades, turned the mower back over, pushed the button down, and mowed the rest of the dog run while holding the wrench that had fixed the problem.

Life rolls on, with or without you. I could have spent time doing research or trying to find a mower repair man, lamenting my bad luck, or i could just choose to try something and see if it works. I broke the mower. I fixed the mower. I finished using the mower.

I keep thinking, if i can just get this chicken to do A, B, C, and D, she’ll live and recover nicely. i can put her back in the chicken pen with the others, and i wont have to dig a chicken sized hole in the rock at the end of the week. But it is out of my hands. The outcome is not decided by me. Life will roll on whether the chicken lives or dies, whether the 200 year old oak trees succumbs to oak wilt or not. Despite my fervent belief that i can control everything i set my mind to, things break, beings expire…Time marches on with indifference. You can spend time lamenting the misfortune or grab a wrench and roll with what God has planned.

Salad in a Bag

Recently due to what turned out to be under functioning kidneys, the list of foods i could tolerate without making what presented as gout or creating nausea and migraines was shortening. For whatever reason i became addicted to lettuce with little bits of purple cabbage and carrot in the mix. I would buy the mix and some toppings, toss them together with dressing in a ziploc freezer bag, and then seal and shake it until everything was well coated and distributed. It tasted intoxicating and i looked forward to it all day. I can only assume i was deficient in something contained in lettuce because since getting on a kidney support pill salad has gone back to tasting ordinary. As far as the ziploc bags go, i stand behind the method. There is no 100 percent dressing coverage to be had when lettuce is tossed with wooden utensils in a bowl. It must be shaken in a bag to achieve maximum even distribution of flavor and consistent texture throughout.

The “Name that Snake” Game

Common Garter Snake

I found this little garter snake in the orchard around dusk. He was very skinny with no bulge to digest so hadnt eaten yet and was no doubt cruising for a nice field mouse. i enjoy the presence of the various types of garter snakes i have here because they eat the mice without posing a threat to me or the dogs and they are very gentle natured and generally shy. Also many of them came over in the rock load from my friend Cindy’s property as tiny babies and it has been interesting to watch how much they’ve grown feasting on a steady diet of field mice.

Two Dogs, a Sick Chicken, and a Tornado Watch

We are in the middle of a tornado watch tracking a thunderstorm due to arrive within the hour. I have moved the car underneath the big cedar tree that holds the laundry line in anticipation of predicted hail. The thunder is creeping closer over the hills and the dogs are getting restless as the distant rumbles become louder. The pressure is rising and the little red weather radio puts out a warning to take shelter and prepare for severe weather. Somehow, this time hits different with a sick chicken in the house. She is in an old dog crate i ziptied back together after cashew hulked herself out of it and it wasnt any longer structurally viable against dog escapes. So far the chicken hasnt figured her way out. She has been through a ****storm of medical issues in the past 3 days and she’s inside the house for now as myself and the dogs try to coax her in the direction of survival. She’s severely anemic. I need to get her some spinach as she vetoed the beets i gave her yesterday but the dollar general doesnt carry spinach so itll have to wait one more day. The dogs seem to know there’s something wrong with her and they’ve been very gentle and well behaved around her, even when she’s out of the crate. As the storm approaches, both dogs are checking on the chicken perched at the crate door on a pile of straw next to a water dish. They sniff her through the metal bars and check on her each time the thunder rolls through. I dont think she’s ever ridden a severe storm out in the house. It must be rather strange for her to keep company with dogs now rather than other chickens, but she is so near death she doesnt seem to have an opinion on who is here and who is not. None of it bothers her. I am unsure of whether she will survive but its never over until its over, so we will continue to try with her, and she will live in the house with us for now. Cashew and Sili are taking turns laying beside the chicken in her cage and coming over to me to panic about the thunder and lightening. If she survives i have a master plan for reintegration. I will have to take one or two chickens from the pen and put them in the house with her, then reintroduce them as a group back to the pen, or they’ll decide she lives as part of the dog clan now and must be eliminated for the crime of being an outsider.

The storm arrived with a fury i did not expect. The wind threatened to bust the windows out the side of the house and the immediate change in temperature in the house was alarming as the thing came over the hills with a force and momentum i did not anticipate. I closed the sliding barn door to the bathroom and gathered the dogs in front of it, sheltering them from the windows with my body. Outside i could hear something hitting the metal of the well house. I wasnt sure whether it would be hail or rocks kicked up by the wind. As the rain came down in torrents blown sideways in violent sweeps by the wind i began to hear a concerning noise faintly underneath all the pouring rain. It took me a while to realize that siren like noise was the wind. With the amount of wind present, the swift and breezy temperature drop in the house, and an active tornado watch, i was fairly concerned about whirlwinds we couldnt see creating themselves in the dark. I kept the dogs at the back of the house as far from the windows as i could get them to sit and kept a jacket nearby so i could cover us if need be but in the event of a twister the tiny house and everything in it would be gone and i knew that so i just prayed that there were no twisters in this storm.

Cactus Flowers

As Spring drew to a close and Summer approached the cactus opened their banana, peach, and salmon tinted blossoms to the bees and beetles once again. As soon as Summer was underway, i knew the flowers would disappear and plump maroon fruits would sit in their place on the prickly pears that thrived in the dry, rocky environment each year. To someone with a need for order and routine country life had a certain allure. Every year the seasons brought the same changes. The same flowers blossomed. The same fruits appeared. The same seeds dried and fell. The same insects, toads, and birds conducted their life cycles and mating rituals at the same times. The same birds built nests by stealing chicken feathers and dryer lint. The same june bugs appeared at sundown, setting the dusk air abuzz with the hum of poorly governed insect flight. The same toads appeared to eat the june bugs. At a certain point when winter was fading into spring the chuck wills widows, crickets, toads, and flying song birds would return. The orb weavers didnt really appear until summer. The trees would change color with the arrival of autumn. I didnt need a calendar to tell me where i was in the seasons change. I saw it, heard it, and felt it all around me. The same as i did the phases of the moon. Only here, in this environment, with the constant observation of season changes and phases of the moon did i feel the passage of time arrest. I had no sense of a ticking clock here and i feared not aging. You fear aging when you are unfulfilled. You fear the bank when you are living a fulfilling life that you look forward to participating in with such joy that the passage of time merely represents bringing you closer to the next seasonal event to experience rather than time lost. It is a strange phenomena but in the city i am acutely aware of my age and feel a great pressure and anxiety to fit in as much as i can before i die. In the country i feel a need to look closely at every deer, cotton tail, snake, raccoon, orb weaver, armadillo, fox, and bird. I feel a need to observe every flower, every leaf, watch trees produce foliage, change colors, become dormant, and emerge again…. I feel a need to observe webbing being carefully constructed, agricultural termite tunnels being built, nests being recycled and upscaled for new offspring, toads snatching beetles and leaving ungodly sized poos for such a small animal, and song birds harassing the heck out of crows that stole eggs or chicks from their nests. I feel the need to observe weather, sunrises, sunsets, and temperature changes, dung beetles rolling poo away in perfectly round balls in a brilliant sort of team effort, dragonflies mating mid air as if a fighter jet was getting a mid-flight refueling without ever having to land to make contact. It is all beautiful and there is a masterful sort of equilibrium that exists here between all the animals, seasons, and processes. Here the passage of time is determined by sunrise and sunset, not paper and the hands of a clock. Here the passage of time is a privilege and something to experience, not a forward march towards death to the beating drum of fear and self doubt. If only it were possible to stay here forever. If i never had to leave this cycle to participate in the income and tax system of humans, i might know in my bones the feeling of contentment more often.

A Garden Update

The trees are growing, especially the pomegranate tree. The plants in the green house need more sun so i contacted an electrician about running electricity to the greenhouse and making several outlets to plug grow lights into above the windows. Right now those plants grow pretty slowly but i stand by my decision to not go with glass skylights, as it has already hailed six times this year and its only the end of May.

Plum Tree
Plum tree
Pecan Tree
Wild Grape Vine
Spaghetti Squash
Basil and Chives
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar Snap Pea
Sugar Snap Pea
Beans and Japanese Eggplant
Purple Bean
Butternut Squash and Lemon Cucumber
Cucumber and Cantaloupe
Yellow Squash
Lima Bean
Lima Beans
Lima Beans
Lima Beans
Lima Beans
Lima Beans
The Pomegranate Tree
The Fig Tree
The Fig Tree

Napping Interrupted

I was taking a nap and i left the mosquito net tent unzipped slightly out of laziness as i was only going to sleep 10 more minutes. In my groggy haze i saw a big old wolf spider crawling on the outside of the tent right near the zipper opening. I tried my darnedest to hurry up and zip it but with each jostling of the pieces the wolf spider grew closer and closer until it jumped into the bed with me. In terms of venomous or poisonous creatures i could have tossed in the bed with me, this situation was totally benign and it was the best case scenario i could have hoped for. Long story short, i killed him, because though i like wolf spiders…outdoors, not in the bed. And, i’m awake now.


My credit is on the mend. The bill collectors are gone. The phone is quiet. I no longer have a loan in my name. I am awaiting the title in the mail.

To be clear, the only reason i am standing here is because of a finance mole from austin placed into a hotbed of criminal activity to suss out who it was that was involved actively in criminal activity and who was turning a blind eye to what was happening, and a very young salesman they use as bait to hook the customers before selling the vehicles who grew a conscience.

One of two employees involved in selling me the car did not adhere to his signed promise that i made him type up that says the dealership would shred and not process the finance documents if i returned with a cashier’s check for the stated amount within two business days of the initial transaction where i gave them a deposit. Instead of shredding the papers when i returned he filled them out, with his bank account information, and successfully took out a $25,000 loan in my name, absconding with the money…regardless of the fact that my car was totally paid up and a loan was never needed for $25,000. The bill collectors were real because the money was indeed provided and taken, so the finance company expected their payments. However, since it wasnt me who filled out the information regarding billing and mailing address, i did not get any bill for my monthly payments on a loan i didnt know i had and never took out or received. I didnt know 200 dollar payments were supposedly due on the twelfth of every month. Suddenly i had 62 dollars worth of late fees, the bill collectors called every 4 hours, even on weekends, they spoke to me like i was a sleazy criminal, i had to worry about repossession of my only vehicle, and i had paid for the car in full. I called the dealership to discuss what was happening and they told me it was just a scam. Scammers were calling me trying to get me to divulge information or believe they were part of the car dealership but they werent, they were just scammers somewhere in india scamming me. I told them that they had information i gave to the finance person and were missing information i didnt give to the finance person so either they were legit or the car company had a serious data leak and scammers had access to customer information. At this point i did not understand that they were straight up criminals and they knew exactly what i was talking about so i didnt understand why they werent hearing anything i said.

So many people in my life said to me that these people were not criminals, that i was just a jaded individual with a poor outlook on humans and i was making this so complicated when all i had to do was ask to speak to a manager and tell them there had been a mistake. I knew that was not going to work because the guy who had introduced himself as such, the manager, the night when i bought the car, was the worst, most greasy, sleazy one. He was the one who wanted me to sign things without putting anything on the paper. I told him i wasnt going to sign a paper that didnt say something. he would have to write something on the paper and i would have to read and agree to it before i was going to just willy nilly sign a paper with the company logo and the date on it and not much else. I knew there was no reason for this and this was not logical and so i refused to do it, but when everyone said to me “oh you just have to go ask for the manager” i remembered his twinkling wicked eyes and his greasy face and his sly smile and i knew this would be the last thing to bring resolution, to ask for the manager. I knew they had done something criminal. It took me a few days to come to the conclusion that they had done it on purpose, and i used their behavior towards the situation’s aftermath to draw that conclusion. But everyone in my life besides one uncle and a coworker thought i was overthinking a straight forward mistake and nobody down there had done anything criminal.

This was a very hard situation to deal with because not only did most people close to me not believe me. Many were very disappointed in my actions. How could i think that i could go buy a car without a man present? Why didnt i see that they were corrupt individuals when they wanted me to sign things that didnt say much or sign finance papers when i didnt intend to finance? Well now, make up your minds…am i crazy for thinking there’s criminal activity happening and not just believing it was an honest mistake or should i have seen all their corrupt behavior coming and known ahead of time to walk away? You cant condemn me for both. But they did. Few were interested in holding the men accountable for what they did to my life and many were interested in properly dividing the blame up and hanging it on me for various reasons. I find it insulting that people said to me over and over, “oh honey, how on earth could you think of going to buy a car without a man present? They dont respect women. If you had just taken a man, none of this would have happened. They saw you coming a mile away and they took advantage because you’re a woman and you pose no threat.” When all was said and done i found out that this had happened to both men and women for a long time before me. I was just the only customer to get them to put a bunch of stuff in writing on word documents and sign their name to them. I did the guy from Austin a favor. I showed him who exactly was doing it. They had signed their name right on the form. I kept all my receipts and their drawn up word document contracts that i had them sign and i helped the car company bust the crime ring that they couldnt figure out because they were all covering for each other. As to whether the others that have had this happen to them will have their lives fixed, i dont know. As to which of the two men actually made off with the cash, i dont know, as to whether they will be criminally prosecuted and serve jail time, i dont know. I signed a paper that said i could not sue and had agreed to third party mediation for any conflict involving this transaction, and when i asked for clarification about this form and made a joke and the finance guy didnt laugh and instead stared at me with a cold blank look, that was my clue in hindsight that he knew then i’d have a reason i wanted to sue. However, the car company can sue the individuals involved for the cost of paying off all the loans if they choose to make it right with all the customers who have been ripped off and had their credit ruined. I could sue the individual or individuals involved as well if the car company would clarify which one or if both orchestrated this and share the information they have with me. The car company has expressed no willingness to share their info with me even though it was my info that gave them the answer to their question about who was running a criminal operation under their company name. They would rather just make things right with me and have me go away than give me info i can take to the police or the media. Im fine with that. I have no taste for vengeance. I just want my car, my credit, and my life back. But to those who told me i should have seen it coming and i made a mistake by not bringing a man to buy the car, i invite you to note all the men that got taken by these criminals when they bought their cars as well. My real crime was having good credit. My gender didnt dictate whether i became a victim here. My credit did. And as for me being stupid not to see corruption, i did see corruption. The problem was i had no different alternative. Its easy to say, “well you should have stood up and walked out.” I did 3 times. But they convinced me to come back in. My point is, at some point i had to buy a car, and they are all corrupt, so to walk out in favor of going to a non corrupt dealership is not a thing. The people who ruined my life werent even the ones who treated me the worst that day. The Ford dealership treated me the worst. They are bullies and they will pick you apart mentally and emotionally, destroy your sense of self worth, and assassinate your character so that when it comes time to talk dollars you just want to go home and crawl in bed and cry. I knew instinctively i couldnt buy a car from them because they were too good at yelling at me, intimidating me, and befriending me to then turn on me and make me feel poorly about myself. They even made me park their car after the test drive back on their display and critiqued my parking skills mercilessly asking if i even knew how to park a car. They do this on purpose so that you’ve lost all feeling that you should be a respected and fairly treated individual when it comes time to buy. The car they had was way overpriced for the mileage on it and the battery was dead so they had to jump it to start it. The car was basically “as is” but they had a whole rigamarole printed up on a sticker to disguise this for what it was…ie they didnt like the words “as is” but thats what it boiled down to, and they wouldnt let me inspect the car that was going to be basically as is with an independent mechanic. Finally they agreed but the amount of abuse they put me through before their teenage guy was allowed to drive the car across the street to the mechanic, and then the mechanic seemed trustworthy but mentioned that he buys parts from ford and so when he passed the car with not a single thing wrong with it, i had to consider that this guy may be influenced by the fact that he buys parts from ford and i should take the assessment with a grain of salt… in the end i just knew i wasnt going to be negotiating with someone who was that good at learning personal things about me and then using them to make me feel bad about myself before i began to negotiate. They were bullies and they were too good at it for my comfort so i left. In hindsight everyone told me i should have bought from Ford. Ford would not have taken out a loan in my name. Stupid stupid me, why didnt i buy from Ford? For all the reasons i just mentioned. Just because the people i did buy from turned out to be felony level corrupt does not mean Ford was a good option either. They would have sold me a lemon for way too much money and a lot of mileage on it and they would have given me a healthy level of mind games and emotional abuse while doing it. The saleswoman told me that i wouldnt like the other car, id be back by closing time, and i’d buy her car. Im not a person that appreciates being told what i think, what i like, and what im going to do. When she said that she sealed it that i was not buying a car from her. The fact of the matter is, this is the mess that buying a car is these days. I might rather buy from someone on craigslist and have a mechanic check it out before i buy. That used to be the dangerous bit, buying from independent owners, but if they hand you the title, and you’ve had a mechanic you trust check it out, i’d rather pay to fix a minor thing here or there rather than deal with a dealership, because as it turns out, this dealership withheld my title and still has not produced it because as far as they knew i hadnt paid for the car.

I want to make one thing clear here. This was not my fault. I spent hours negotiating with these people and i made decisions based on the behavior and tactics i was seeing all day. I was vigilant. Thats why i had them draw up the papers i did. Because i smelled a rat. Unfortunately they’re all rats so, i cant run every time i smell a rat. I just have to take measures to look out for my interests, and i thought thats what i did. Its not my responsibility to know an employee at a legit car dealership is committing felonies in broad daylight. To all those who have told me what i did wrong in this situation, i invite you to adopt a stance of “how horrible, the dealership employees should not have done that.” And leave me be. Trust me, i am suffering enough without your blame.

this thing is more deeply embedded than you think. I reported them to the company’s consumer affairs department and they stated that they would need 1 to 3 business days to conclude their investigation. By noon on the first business day the investigation was concluded. They had no findings to share and they sent me an email that said they couldnt get involved in a dispute between a customer and a dealership and invited me to go back to the dealership in an effort for resolution. They told me they’d told the dealership to call me within two days and resolve the issue, were sorry id had a bad experience at their company, and were working hard to make sure other customers did not have the same experience in the future. Nobody ever called me. I called them and called them and called them. They laughed at me, mocked me, dared me to hire an attorney, hung up on me, left me on hold forever, transferred me to several different answer machines…lied and told me the employee in finance who ended up resolving the issue didnt exist, told me people i needed to speak to were at lunch, not working that day, or in a meeting, constantly changed the department they said i needed to speak to.

An attorney advised me that if i waited for them to repossess the car i could sue for wrongful repossession but i had signed the form that said i wouldnt sue for the transaction of buying the car. However, if i let them repossess the car i didnt have a vehicle and couldnt drive two towns over daily for work. If i couldnt get to work i lost my job. The patients would have to be seen. They would have to replace me.

The dealership took a stance that i was all paid up and i was just letting a scammer get to me, i was just being a crazy paranoid difficult woman. So i couldnt easily bring this to the police because in the eyes of the law it looked like they were cooperating and totally blameless. I did call the Sherriff’s office but it was the weekend and the recording told me what button to push for each issue to report and according to the options, this was not yet a crime. I had to amass some kind of evidence to prove my point.

I called the car company’s consumer affairs line and pressed the number for billing. It said that i owed 200 dollars plus $62 in late fees for missing my payment on my loan on the 12th. I now had legit evidence that the bill collectors were not scammers. I began amassing evidence and paperwork and drove to town and spent $28 at office max printing copy after copy of all my evidence. I made myself a case while i was waiting for the attorney in austin (very good one) that i had used years ago to get out of a lease where the apartment had stinging florida carpenter ants and black mold to return my call. I tried to think “what would he do?” And “what would he look for” when i was amassing evidence and putting my case together. When he finally called back i had made some headway towards resolution but he agreed to take the case if they do not produce the title within a timely manner now that this is resolved and he said there are three things that they have done here that would release me from my agreement not to sue because of the wording on their form. If they produce the title im happy to move on with life and forget this. If not, he’s a **** of an attorney with 30+ years experience and endless knowledge. The fact that he’s willing to take the case if their effort to get me the title stagnates gives me peace of mind.

A group of 60 to 80 year old ladies offered to go down to the dealership with me that day and i took off from work to do it but i didnt really want to go with them. I knew they were up to criminal activity at this point and the ladies still believed they were good christian men and it was all a simple misunderstanding. I felt like what i was trying to do here might get muddied with these conflicting views on the situation and i didnt think they were going to get anything done with their “we know you just made a mistake” approach to the hornets nest of sleazeballs. Last minute my mother and i were fighting and she asked what i wanted and what i wanted was for her to come with me. I was tired and i wanted somebody else to take the reigns. She knew they were sleazy. She didnt have the misconception that they were good christian men. Maybe she could take the reigns and i could rest a moment. She brought her aggressive possessive dog who didn’t like anyone but her and a select few of her friends. It didnt take orders or sit in the back seat. It insisted upon sitting on me and the console. I wasnt thrilled about it being there but i figured she would present more of a problem for the dealership than me and she didnt seem all that interested in eating me when i didnt have a dog that wasnt her in my hands. So, i even lifted her back in the car when she had to go poop in the rain and apparently couldnt lift her back end up on the seat and mom had thrown her back out so couldnt do it. Anyways, we ended up at the dealership at 3 pm because that was when mom could do it, with all my paperwork, and the attack dog locked in the car in the parking lot front row facing the windows of the dealership lobby full of customers and salesmen. We entered and i said i needed to speak to finance. The guy crossed his arms, blocked my way with his body, and asked why i thought i needed to speak to finance. The others crowded around him. I saw the young man that had been my salesman and as i told the big goon my scenario and said i had bought the car outright and yet according to the company i had a loan payment overdue the guy raised an eyebrow and stepped closer, cutting off my route to finance. The young salesman pushed through the group and shook my hand telling the goon that he remembered me and i was all paid up, i bought the car outright, and i needed to speak to the guy in finance. I noticed that he said a specific name, not just finance. It was the name another salesman had told me i needed to speak to and when i had called to do so whoever answered tried to convince me he didnt exist or work there. He took me and mom straight to this guy’s office and explained the scenario. This gentleman looked genuinely surprised and concerned, specifically by the paper i had him sign, drawn ip in a word document, stating he would shred the finance paperwork if i came back with a cashier’s check. He then let me know that this was a very big problem, one that they needed to make right, and that he had been put here by the company two months ago to figure out who was doing this because i was not the first customer this had happened to. But at this point, everyone involved had said they were trying to help me, and they all turned out to be part of it, even at the consumer affairs office, so when he said he was going to help me, i think i believed him 25 percent. I couldnt be sure he wasnt one of them. My skeptical mind said actions speak louder than words so if he follows through and helps me, i’ll believe he’s helping me. I was angry but calm. I knew my eyes were on fire and my face was red but i was quiet and measured and when i spoke i chose my words decisively. I chose down to the point, straight forward, and powerful words. I pulled it together for go time and surprised myself, betraying my earlier breakdown, the days of crying, the therapy session that had gotten me nowhere and resolved nothing, and the very real danger of me ending my life facing a car company who didnt believe me, a police force who couldnt do anything, a paper that said i wouldnt sue, attorneys that said they’d call back and then never did, one great attorney i couldnt yet get ahold of… i was in a situation where i was about to lose my car. If i lost my car i couldnt get to work. If i couldnt work i lost my ability to pay the massive adjustable rate mortgage. If i couldnt make the mortgage payments the bank would take my land, my house, my fruit trees, and i wouldnt be able to keep my australian shepherd without the land…. If i lost this car i’d lose everything. I’d lose the ability to even make it to a place of business that sold food. I didnt live on a bus route. I lived in the middle of nowhere. I had spent $25,000 on a car they were about to repossess. If they did, i didnt have another $25,000 lying around to purchase another car. Then there was the matter of i owed a finance company an additional $25,000 i couldnt pay because i never received the loan and i couldnt make the money at work to pay it without a car to get there. I was now in a reality where i would be out $50,000 and have no vehicle to speak of. I didnt understand how this was allowed to happen in broad daylight and there was no way for me to stop them ruining my life and taking everything i’d worked for. I had made up my mind. If i lost the car, the job, and the land… i didnt want to be here anymore. I was out of reasons for why i’d be here in this realm doing anything. If you are puzzled as to how quickly i descended into this mindset just throw in a baseline of lifelong chronic depression and have bill collectors call you every four hours for a week and see how clearly you are thinking, see if your perception of reality has changed. Every time i began to feel like myself again, remember who i was, the bill collectors would call again and talk to me as if i was a criminal, a low-down dirty person who had skipped out on their responsibilities and was about to have their life ruined for doing so and should be ashamed of themselves for who they were and the way they were wired. I worked hard to build my little homestead, my little life. I put my blood sweat and tears into that property. I loved my job. I was a rule follower and i had never skipped out on anything. If i say im going to do something, i do it, so just to be referred to as a person who was the exact opposite of this every four hours was killing me. I tried to reason with them but they always thought i was lying and they just recycled their spiel again and again like robots. They thought i was just another liar trying to skip out on loan payments. Anyways, i digress.

I left the man with a thought. The salesman had said that the company wanted my business for life, not just with this car. If this is what happens when i buy a car, if when i have a legit problem i need to talk about and they mock me and dare me to hire an attorney, im not coming back for the next car. It felt like i was finally speaking to a person and not a sleazeball. He didnt read like one of them but i couldnt be sure. He said there was a loan in my name. The dealership was going to have to cut a check and pay it off. Then they would have to write a letter petitioning them to fix my credit. Once the loan was paid it would look like the car was paid up and the car company would release the title to my mailing address.

1 week later i called the finance company and my first clue that the guy had been legit and a man of his word when he said he’d help me was that the robot i was dealing with couldnt find an account attached to me. I pressed zero and spoke to the operator who transferred me to someone who could check my account for sure. She said the balance was paid in full, including late fees, and my account had been closed. The guy from austin in finance wrote a letter petitioning them to fix my credit. The bill collectors stopped calling but i had blocked some numbers when i realized i was on the edge of ending it and so i could not be sure if they were done calling or just gearing up with a new number to call me from. The car is mine now. They cant come take it. I can start leaving things in it again rather than taking everything out each time i park somewhere. Nobody is calling me and talking to me like im a liar and a criminal. Im awaiting the arrival of the title with a good attorney on hand in austin if it doesnt arrive soon.

When i left the young salesman who sold me the car was sitting at a cubicle outside the finance guy from austin’s office. He had listened to the whole conversation. He had his head down on the desk. I’ll never know whether he was devastated because he didnt know the extent of what they were doing, felt guilty for his part, or was anticipating the fallout for him, having vouched for me and led me to the finance guy from austin’s office. All i know is that i had assessed him to be a good person, not like the rest of them, and when this unfolded one of the things i was troubled by was what was going to happen to the souls of the young teens and twenty year olds they dressed up and put out there to lure people in for the kill? I felt like all these young people were on the wrong path and i worried he would spend eternity in flames for the kind of work they were doing there and i felt like he wasnt beyond reaching, wasnt beyond change. He still had a soul and i felt that and i knew there wasnt one in either of the two guys that had me sign papers or any of the goons that guarded the path to finance. When i saw him with his head down on the desk i knew he had a conscience and he was going to be okay. He would find his way out of this. He would be somebody’s husband and father some day. He would repent and change directions. I didnt feel this immense danger for his soul anymore. His whole body posture had changed and he seemed deflated. This notion that salesmen are perfect and confident and know everything, is a lie. Its a sell tactic. They’re well groomed and smiley and have perfect posture and broad shoulders and its all meant to sell you a car. Shoulders slumped, head down, he seemed small, and it gave my soul comfort because i knew he was real again. He was a person. It was strange for me to realize i wasnt young anymore, that there was a whole generation of people beneath me, but realize i did, and i worried about who they were becoming, having grown up with unfettered access to technology and no idea how to write cursive…signing everything with a line drawn across the screen…these people would replace me as adults when i went into my old age. I wanted them to be solid, real, and kind hearted, and it troubled me that this did not appear to be happening in a faster and faster paced world where quotas and time expectations became tighter and tighter and people became paid less and less to do more and more. They were coming into a cut-throat world where “every man for himself” seemed the rule and i worried about what kind of world we were creating by raising this next generation in this way. Their expectation of reality was different from mine, as mine was different from my mother’s and my mother’s was different from my grandmother’s. I needed that salesman to flip on the guys possibly more so i could have hope for the generation coming after me than for my own sake and financial situation. It just became too easy to wonder for a moment why the heck i would want to be part of a system or reality where this was accepted, the norm, and allowed to stand. Sometimes i think the corruption of this world becomes too much for me to bear. My coworker that stopped the sixty year old peer from finishing the story about the dog…she says thats why we have to protect carefully what we consume. But, im not sure thats right. If you turn a blind eye to all the corruption, are you not adding to it? What if the young salesman or the guy from austin had chosen not to see? If we ignore corruption it becomes the norm for the next generation. We have to stick in there and peel it open and get into the nitty gritty of whats going on. And people are going to get hurt and its going to be messy, because corruption never goes down without a fight. God doesnt promise a peaceful strife free life. He promises one full of suffering and strife and he promises to lead you through it. I think, if i wash my hands of or turn a blind eye to this, nobody following behind our generation will ever have that moment where their eyes are opened and they repent and turn to God. This very nearly ruined my life but a whole bunch of people are going to be believed now and the dealership will probably have to cut them checks to pay their loans and pursue the criminals to recoup their losses. A guy from austin can shorten the length of his assignment now with names on paper. And a young salesman will likely make a summer job out of what could have been a long and unethical career. Or maybe he will stay and try to change what car selling is, but hes not going to be part of a crime ring now. I dont have an answer. I cant wrap this up with a neat bow. Im still very jaded about humans, there’s a great deal of residual depression, and im still very aware of how close i came to not being here. There were some hard questions to think about like would i go to **** for taking a life that God gave me that gave me pause and probably bought me time for resolution to come about. I struggle with why God gave us the gift of salvation. Sometimes i cannot see what he would have seen in us. I struggle sometimes with what is good in humanity and at times i think the only part of us that is worth anything is when we allow God to work through us on behalf of others. God is good but what is man without him? Clay? It doesnt seem like. It seems like without God we are inherently messy and vindictive creatures. That i struggle with, and i will probably always struggle with it. But i hope God continues to drag me back from the brink of wanting to throw in the towel and the desolation of my lack of understanding each time so that i am still here when there is something beautiful to witness.

A side note about the sixty year old man that shot a dog when he was twelve… i heard him tell a patient the other day that he’s been on a spiritual journey for about forty years now to become a better person and go more in the direction that God would have him. He said in the past 15 years he’d made a decision not to condemn himself for past mistakes because it doesnt fix anything, it doesnt serve anyone, and God knows what he’s done and God has forgiven him. And the tears that had been missing from his eyes when he told us that story in a matter of fact way days before were suddenly there. And the presence of that water in his eyes told me that in the past 15 years he had made a decision to try not to condemn himself, not that he had released himself from blame, because he was blaming himself now in this moment. He had merely made the realization that indeed it did not fix or change anything to do so. I thought about the sentence “God uses broken people to reach others.” I thought about all the people i had influenced in my life, all the people this man in his sixties had brought scripture, understanding, empathy, and healing to… we are thoroughly flawed. And yet God uses us to reach others, perhaps because there can be no doubt that it is God working through us, because we are so broken, we’d be powerless to help ourselves, much less anybody else, without him.

What Does it Mean to be Human?

What does it mean to be human? Does it mean that we are beings who have dominion over all that is touched by the sun’s rays? Have we conquered outer space, the ocean, ai, the world wide web? Do we influence everything that we touch and if so for good, for evil, or indifference? Are we sociopathic by nature and shall we decide in the moment when it hits us just for the sake of chaos and disorganization? Do we seek to conquer rather than communicate and do we seek to dismantle rather than understand?

A 12 year old boy shoots a dog in the gut because he has a new gun and he wants to see what it can do. Is that what a human does when left to his own devices? The dog writhing in pain and confusion as to what has happened to it while it was minding its own business, unaware that anyone meant it harm, is not the most disturbing piece of the picture. The thing that i cannot reconcile in my mind is that the 12 year old boy in the story is a sixty year old man whom i know to be a fierce protector of and advocate for dogs, who owns way too many of them and spends most of his paycheck giving them the best life possible, and even sleeps on a cot on the floor to be nearer to the two that are not allowed to sleep on the bed due to low status in the pack. He dedicated his life to dogs after he took the life of one and the suffering of the innocent creature at his hands because of his decision, his finger, and his new gun haunted him for the rest of his life. It wasnt a cold calloused serial killer who shot the dog in the gut and watched it writhe in fear and pain. It was a child of man left unsupervised with a weapon. Are we inherently evil? If left to our own devices will we do awful things? How could a man i know to be so protective of and attached to dogs have done this thing when he was 12? Was he desensitized, used to shooting deer? Did he shoot it in the gut on purpose, or did he just have poor aim? The way he describes that dog writhing in pain with total shock in its eyes…the way he describes how he realized it was a perfectly good and healthy lab when he got up closer to it…before he ruined it, it seems like the moment made an impression on him. You cant take it back once you’ve done something like that. There’s no control z for life. I was clinging to a blue heeler at the time and i was burying my hand in its fur trying not to hear this story with my chin open and hanging in total overwhelm and disbelief hoping he would stop talking before someone else in the room shouted at him to cease the discussion because she didnt want to know anymore. I didnt ask if he mercy killed it by putting a bullet in its head after he had ruined its life, but i hoped to God he did. If he watched the dog’s suffering play out i wouldnt be able to handle it, i wouldnt ever be able to look at him as a person again. He had broken my cardinal rule. Not only did he not protect the innocent, he actively harmed that which was pure and loving, a loyal animal who would not know to fend for itself. This was not a venomous snake or a wild boar. This was a domesticated animal that trusted humans after hundreds of years of grooming its species to do so. Could God forgive him? Should God forgive him? If God were to forgive him, would i have it in me to understand why or follow suit? How could he? A gut shot. 12 or 62? How could he do it? This man, full of scripture, protector of dogs….how could he be the one to have done something as final and sickening as this? How?

But humans are sickening everywhere it seems. From the employee of a mainstream company in broad daylight who commits a felony and takes out a $25,000 loan in a customer’s name with his own bank account information to the man impersonating a police officer in a small town so he can pull women over and rape them, to the legit police officers that beat a person severely when they pull them from the vehicle because they put their flashers on and drove to a more populated area instead of pulling over immediately when they saw the cop throw on their lights and siren…to the police officers from my childhood who told me to call back about domestic violence when the aggressor standing in my yard threatening me and banging on the door was either actively trying to shoot or knife me and i had witnesses to the scene…to the officer who told me in my twenties that cops are really here to find out who killed you after the fact, not prevent your death. It is statements like that one that keep me from being for gun control. If you tell me the authorities can only investigate my death after the fact, but my neighbor is willing to shoot the axe murderer on sight, i want my neighbor to have a gun, not the cop. I dont really care what the cop is doing, because unless im dead, i cant call upon his services.

It is storming everywhere. I need to get home but im two towns away, still at work. The sun has set and the light is fading. There’s a man calling me gorgeous and holding doors for me. It is after hours. I dont want to be in the building alone with him while all the patients are asleep, the lights are off, and the staff station is empty. I leave the facility even though i desperately have to go to the bathroom. I am later told that this man has had a hard life, watched women mistreated from his mother on up to adulthood and has made it his personal mission to show women that chivalry is not dead and thats why he opens the doors for women and calls them all gorgeous, but i wouldnt know this because my experience with men, growing up in a major city, is that when they call you gorgeous or do something nice for you, they want something. Kindness, with men, is transactional. Thats what i learned throughout my life. The small town girls didnt like this and were angry that i had jumped to the conclusion when the chivalrous man called me gorgeous and held the door, but i cant afford to err on the side of benefit of the doubt because im living in a world full of many animals and one chivalrous door holder, as the universe provided an example of a mere few minutes later.

I stopped at a gas station and asked to use the bathroom. The man pointed me towards a unisex restroom. I went in and closed the door. I attempted to lock it and realized the lock had been ripped off the door. The second lock was installed in such a way that it didnt latch anything at all. There was no way of locking the door. I really really had to pee. It was now a matter of peeing myself or getting relief. I wouldnt make it much longer. I grabbed my box cutter and seat belt cutter on my key chain and held them in one hand while i held toilet paper with the other. Something told me i only had time for number one so i didnt bother with anything else. I retied the drawstring on my pants and washed my hands. As i was washing my hands the door flew open and a large man in hiking boots walked in. I could hear the gas station attendant shouting, no no, somebody is in there.” I said, “Oh. Not done yet.” He stood there for a moment, apologized, and then after too long a time for my comfort, stepped out, without closing the door. I thought for a second it was over and i could finish washing my hands when i saw in the mirror that he had returned. He just quietly let himself back into the bathroom and was standing there watching me wash my hands, blocking my exit. I picked up my box cutter and seat belt cutter with wet hands, turned to face him, sink still running, made eye contact, and said with unwavering confidence, “you go out now.” I was angry but not as shocked as i should have been. This was not a huge surprise to me, just another night. Friends asked me why i didnt call the cops. What for? To tell them what? A creep thought about a thing and then didnt do it? Was i gunning for another lecture on “call us when the rape or murder is in progress?” Its just another day in the land of the living. The world is a sick place, and i dont know if we should teach our little girls chivalry is not dead because maybe the night staff guy is kind and chivalrous but the next guy that holds the door probably wont be and if you give everybody the benefit of the doubt you’re going to end up in situations you cant get yourself out of easily. You have to see **** coming when there’s **** to be seen, and sadly that means being suspicious of every guy that calls me gorgeous for no apparent reason.

The man stood there and looked at me for a moment. I couldnt read him. He wasnt retreating or advancing. I raised the box cutter and closed my fingers around the handle. I was ready. He apologized again and left, leaving the door wide open. I closed the door. I finished washing my hands. I walked out past him and past the gas station attendant that had watched the whole thing unfold, had watched him go back into the bathroom a second time after he realized someone was in there. I walked out past them, got in the car, and drove home. Chivalry is dead, because believing the few men that are still chivalrous means we dont see the dangerous ones coming, so im perfectly fine but had it been one of the small town girls that was mad at me for the way i think when it comes to male strangers, its very possible they may have experienced something worth writing a police report about.

Yeonmi Park spoke about the starvation of the north korean people which makes them easier to control. She talked about how once a week every north korean citizen was required to inform on a peer, telling what they could improve upon or required discipline for. This meant that every citizen was watching everyone each week hoping to see something, anything, that they could report on when it was their turn. They were forced to tattle on each other and the people they tattled on could go to work camps or be executed as a consequence of what was said. PDA was illegal. There was no word for love in the north korean language. Everyone was starving, beaten, and in constant danger of being sent to work camps and tortured. The citizens were used to clean up the nuclear waste sites when they tested weapons. She saw birds eating a dead woman’s eyes and when a man was so starving his bony prominences made holes in his overstretched skin a dog sat waiting to take advantage of the intestines escaping from the man’s back as he waited for death. All the dogs were rounded up and killed in 2022 as a result of the regime declaring that family pet dogs were a western idea and would not be permitted in north korea. So she escaped to china where the people who helped her get out did so just to sell her and her mother as sex slaves. The amount of cruelty, rape, and starvation she went through at the hands of fellow humans makes me question what on earth God sees in us, or ever did.

Lets talk about the black ops individuals that spent years in prison before exonerated because a politician ordered them framed and a scene staged so the candidate they wanted to win could “crack down” on the foreign presence in the country and civilian shootings and be elected as the preferred and more manipulatable puppet head. They knew they were innocent and were willing to ruin their families’ lives and imprison them falsely for doing what they were trained to do as a means to an end.

My neighbor is bulldozing all the trees that once stood on acres of rolling hills. He is destroying the woods. The bulldozer comes in and tears down, uproots, drags away tree after tree into these gigantic piles and on a day when there has been rain the day before, he lights them. Everything on my property, including the dogs, is covered in tiny flakes of ash. The air is thick and choked by smoke. Pile after pile after pile of dead tree carcasses are set afire and burn across the street from me. Big grey circles are left on the ground which is now just a barren wasteland of brown dirt…once dotted with a multicolored carpet of beautiful majestic trees. This “progress” is in the name of grazing cattle. Now, when the wind blows, i dont hear it tunnel between the trunks of thousands of trees before it gets to me. It just rushes over the ground and its here. There is no hollow hum, no haunting sound. Only a shallow woosh. All around me humans are making progress, making progress destroying all that i love about the environment that we live in.

I sat parked where i always park to take my lunch break. Facing the wall of wild grapes hanging from the power line in front of a massive lot of shoulder to shoulder mesquite trees that usually had 2 or 3 cows, some deer, and turkeys in there. Except, today the wild grapes were torn down. There was no wall of green to shield the sun from the windshield so i could take my 20 min after lunch nap. Instead there were these giant yellow monsters with shiny metal tracks, taller than a one story building, zooming around at breakneck speeds, eating everything in their path and spitting it out the other side in the form of shredded twigs. They went back and forth in a grid pattern until by the end of my lunch break there was not a single mesquite tree standing. Anxious songbirds with nests in the trees dove at the machines, pecking and kicking and flying about above them but the machines continued on as if the birds werent even there. The birds followed the machines for most of my lunch break. When the last tree was consumed and the vehicles began trying to flatten and level the upturned dirt that remained, the birds gave up and settled on the ground in the dirt. There were no more tree limbs to light on. With nothing left to protect they gave up and landed, resting in the dirt as the machines threatened to run them over in their “progress”. These poor exhausted birds were so confused as to what to do next. Eventually they would hop off the field and light in nearby trees at the burger restaurant’s parking lot or next to the high school. It was as if it happened so quickly and so thoroughly, they needed a moment to process what they’d lost. Their home, their babies, their habitat, their purpose…. It looked like a wasteland. At the end of the day deer and a wild turkey were just standing in the middle of the road, unsure of where to go, and people got out of their cars to take pictures. On the worst day of their lives, home destroyed and in real danger of becoming roadkill, the paparazzi were just there snapping pics, documenting the tragedy as a cute little blip in their day. Now every lunch break i take is facing a construction zone, not wild grapes and turkeys. There is no more quiet, distant mooing, the melody of songbirds and sometimes the tap tap tap of woodpeckers. There is only the ceaseless screaming of the un-oiled tracks of the giant machines, squeaking their high pitched noises as they zoom about in the dirt at 40 mph pitching the giant metal creatures this way and that as if they were performing at a monster truck rally. My boss says they are moving so quickly because they get more money if they finish early and they probably want the building up by the time school starts. The cars are covered in dust. The parking lot is washed with clouds of dust. The air is filled with beeping and squeaking. My animals and birds are gone. My green wall of wild grapes is gone. My napping spot is tainted. The world ceases to make sense to me.