DUST STORM PENROSE, CO

June 27, 2012.
It’s very dry here in Penrose. The Waldo Canyon Fire is raging 30 miles away in Colorado Springs. The spread of the fire yesterday afternoon was caused by high winds. Firefighters were facing a wall of fire traveling at speeds up to 65mph.
This video was taken from my living room this afternoon at 2:40. I don’t know what the speed of those winds are, but I can tell you I don’t want to be out in them. And it’s just dirt and dust here.
I’m praying right now that they are not experiencing anything like this in Colorado Springs.

WALDO CANYON FIRE WE ARE OK

Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs
I’ve had a lot of friends ask how we are doing. The Waldo Canyon Fire is raging in Colorado Springs. Our home is 30 miles from the fire. I can’t imagine a scenario that would involve the Waldo Canyon Fire reaching us. But Sunday evening there was a fire a half mile from our house. We watched from our deck as the fire trucks lined Highway 50 watching for smoke. If the smoke billowing on the horizon from the Springs hadn’t brought it home, the small fire close to our house did. We could lose all of our material goods in a heartbeat.
The television stations have been running continuous coverage. Last night Steve and I were glued to the set as we watched homes in Colorado Springs begin to burn. The fire exploded, 65mph winds forced the firefighters to retreat. We watched as 35,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes. The police officers directing the traffic were wearing dust masks. Car lights were on at 4pm because of the dense ash falling from the sky. It looked like a scene from a disaster movie.
We went through the list of what to pack and what to leave, where to go, how to transport the animals.
I’m so glad Keely is in Little Rock for the summer. I’d hate to see the fear on her face.
Many people living in Colorado Springs are inside that disaster movie right now. They don’t know if their house is one of those destroyed, they don’t know to what extent their lives have been turned upside down.
Temperatures are in the triple digits. Humidity is 3%. There are brave men and women working under inferno conditions battling this fire. I can’t imagine what that must be like.
So far there are no injuries or loss of life. Material things can be replaced.
If you can donate to ShareandCare.org , those funds go immediately to help those in need. So many people need help and prayers, and will continue to for quite some time.

LAUREN KILLED FRANK THE SNAKE

Last summer I just about had a heart attack when I met Frank The Snake for the first time. I was home by myself, puttering around in the garden. I went over to the faucet to turn off the water and saw the water hose move. Except it wasn’t a water hose. It was a great big snake. Since he didn’t rear up and start rattling at me, I assumed it was a bull snake. I knew if I could get a good picture of it Steve would be able to tell me what kind of snake it was.
Well I wasn’t going to get close enough to get a good picture with my phone. So I hightailed it into the house to get Steve’s Nikon. This is one of the photo’s I took.

Frank the Snake

So I emailed the photo to Steve and the phone rang immediately.
“That’s a good snake. Don’t kill it. I know you don’t believe there are good snakes, but that is a bull snake and they eat rattlesnakes. Actually I’m glad it’s there. It’s a good snake. Don’t kill it.”
You have to get close to a snake to kill it. I had absolutely no intention of getting close enough to that snake to kill it.
A friend of mine told me that putting a name to the snake would make it seem less scary. I assumed it was a boy snake so I named it Frank.
Believe me when I tell you that I never walked in that yard without keeping an eye out for Frank. But I didn’t see him again.
A month or so later, my brother Michael and his two kids Paul and Lauren were staying with us. We were sitting out on the deck, getting ready to eat dinner when Lauren said
“Aunt Michelle, is that a rattlesnake?”
Immediately my feet went up into the chair, which caused Steve to about fall over laughing. But there was a snake coming towards us. ON MY DECK. Now my deck is anywhere from five to ten feet off the ground, depending on what part of the yard you are measuring from. There is one set of stairs. That darn snake had to really work at climbing to get up on our deck.
Steve looked over at it and said, “Oh, that’s just a bull snake. He won’t hurt you.”
I think he could tell by the look on my face that I wasn’t really excited about sharing the deck with a six foot long snake. I think he could tell I was seriously considering sitting on the table for the rest of dinner.
So he got some work gloves and went over and got that poor little guy out from behind the water barrel on the end of the deck.
All of the family except me went over to get a closer look. I was very comfortable where I was, with close proximity to the table and the door inside.
Here is a video of Steve and Frank The Snake.

After he played with him a while, he took him down off the deck and let him loose in the pasture. As he was walking by, I heard him telling Frank “It’s ok little buddy, its ok”.
We haven’t seen Frank this year. We did have a neighbor kill a rattlesnake on the road in front of our house. It’s really hot and dry here, and we know that there are a lot of snakes around. We watch where we put our hands and feet.
Michael is back again, all of his kids, plus his new wife Patty and her daughter Taylor. Mike and Patty are still on their honeymoon, so the kids and I are hanging out. They were still asleep this morning so I made a run into Colorado Springs to replenish our supplies at Costco.
While I was gone, Lauren went out into the pasture to walk around. She saw a snake, a really big snake. It was hissing at Mojo The Pug. So Lauren decided to kill it. She was being protective of Mojo. So she got a shovel and hacked his head almost off.
I’m pretty sure Lauren killed Frank. It looks like the same snake to me. I haven’t heard back from Steve yet, I sent him the picture. Lauren’s scared he will be mad at her, but I think her actions were totally justified.
She had to protect Mojo.

Dead Frank The Snake

DAVID AND KYLE…FARTMOUTH

This is a video of my son David, and my grandson Kyle. I think this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and I wanted to share. Hope it gives you a good laugh, as it did me.
Looking at Kyle is like looking into the face of David when he was a kid. I didn’t give birth to David, but he has been my son since he came into my life when he was two. His real mom Laurel was nice enough to share him with me.
One of my favorite memories is the call I got from Laurel after Kathy was born. David had gone to school all excited because his sister had been born. Laurel got a call from the teacher, who said she needed to talk to Laurel because David had been lying. He told everybody that he had a new sister, but the teacher knew Laurel and knew there was not a new baby.
Laurel said that yes, he did have a new sister and she was in Little Rock with David’s other mom and his dad.
“Oh, so he has a half sister” said the teacher.
“No, as far as I know she is a whole baby. She is his sister and that’s what we call her”
We never used terms like “half” or “step” We were just family.
One year, we invited David’s little brother Joey to stay with us over Christmas. I think Laurel was going to Mississippi to get some of her stuff and Joey staying with us would help her out. So five year old Joey got all dressed up and attended our big Christmas party (150 people that year I think). We did presents on Christmas morning. That evening, Laurel got back in town and called to see if she could take the boys out for their Christmas. She thought the waffle house would still be open.
I couldn’t stand the thought of them having Christmas at the waffle house, so I invited her to our home. Which used to be her house. Yeah, it was a little awkward, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We were all very adult about it and it really wasn’t about the three adults. It was about those two little boys getting to spend time with their mom on Christmas.
So now David is grown and Laurel and I are both grandmothers. And I think Kyle is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.

FREE RENT IN YOUR HEAD PART III

I am not a counselor. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a relationship expert. These thoughts are my own opinions based on my experiences. You may heartily disagree with my conclusions. But perhaps these blogs will at least make you think …
If you screw up, apologize. From the heart and with sincerity. If you feel the need to explain your side of the story (because there are ALWAYS two sides to every story) then do so.
In a perfect world, the offended party will accept your apology and life will go on as it was. Unfortunately, this world we live in is not perfect and it doesn’t always happen that way.
So what do you do if you are not forgiven? What do you do if you are told that you are forgiven but the touchy subject is not forgotten and is thrown in your face every time there is a disagreement?
Well…you have a couple of options.
You can take your toys and go home. In some cases, that may be the best thing to do. If this is a new friendship or relationship, and you are finding that there is no understanding or forgiveness for your human faults and transgressions, you might want to take a look at that huge red flag and speed away. If you find that every little thing you did is never forgotten and is presented again and again, I would take that as a crystal ball into the future.
OK, that is easy enough.
But what if the problem is with someone you really love and care about? Your child or your parent? These are relationships that are very deep and meaningful. We don’t want to toss them away. Marriages may come and go, but your parents or kids are a life sentence.
I’ve mentioned before that I have several friends whose kids won’t talk to them. In every single case it’s because of a divorce. In every single case the mother or father has done everything they could to put the other parent in a bad light.
Rule 101 of divorce is don’t trash your ex to your kids. I don’t care if they are five years old or thirty five years old. They don’t need to know the details of your sex life. They don’t need to know about affairs or lying or cheating. That is between you and your ex. Don’t contaminate your kid’s relationship with their mom or dad. And even though you may now think that their parent is a sorry SOB, he had some good qualities or you never would have married him.
Whatever the reason, if you have a problem between a parent and child, you really need to try to heal it. You may not really like your mom or dad. OK, I get that. They may do stuff that totally offends you and drives you up the wall. I get that too. They may have hurt you badly. But they are your parent, and you need to go the extra mile. We want our parents to be completely without sin. Only one person I know of that has ever walked this earth that we could say that about. The rest of us screw up constantly.

But here is the deal. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you are not forgiven. Doesn’t matter what you do or say, the other person is hanging on to that burning coal of anger and resentment and they are not going to let go.
You have apologized. You are remorseful. You have changed your actions to reflect your words. You have done everything you can think of to show them that you love them and you are sorry. But you are not forgiven.
Walk away.
Yep, I’m telling you to quit trying.
What’s the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over again with the same results.
You are trying to explain with words and logic, but you are being defeated by emotion. What you are doing is not working. So stop.
Realize that their anger and resentment is their problem, and YOU CAN NOT FIX IT.
Tell them that you love them, but you are not going to continue to grovel and beg. When they decide they want a relationship, you will welcome it. But you are not going to continue to open yourself up to the pain of their rejection. Hope and pray that time does truly heal.
But don’t give them free rent in your head.
I’m not saying to drop all contact, although you may have to. But get on with your life, it’s the only one you have. Don’t spend months or years trying to repair a relationship that the other party does not want repaired. Some people delight in punishing and controlling others. It takes two for that to work.
Hopefully, at some point in time they will come around and you can start rebuilding. But you have to be prepared for the fact that you may never have a relationship with your child or parent again. Making yourself miserable and wasting the rest of your life doesn’t help anyone.
Our wisdom is gained by making mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes hurt others, sometimes we just hurt ourselves. Sometimes the consequences of those mistakes are with us forever. All we can do is learn from it and grow.

FREE RENT IN YOUR HEAD PART II

I was told the other day via a comment on my blog “Free Rent In Your Head” ( the comment is unpublished because it is from my Whackjob Stalker and I don’t publish any of her crap) that I was not a very forgiving person. In the blog, I mentioned that I am no longer in contact with certain members of my family. The comment from WS was ” You do not come across as a forgiving person. If you were forgiving, you would still be in contact with all of your family regardless of what they did.”

Let me explain something to you. Getting some people out of your life is self defense. It is self defense at the most basic level to remove poison from your environment. I forgave them a long time ago. I don’t hate them, I don’t spend a minute thinking about revenge. I don’t wish them harm and I honestly hope they get their shit together and have a happy life. But I will not allow them to hurt me or mine anymore. I would be stupid as hell not to learn from the legion of chances that they were given to do the right thing and they chose to continue to lie, cheat, steal and do drugs. When they steal from my parents as my father is dying I have had enough.

What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

Note To Whackjob Stalker: I don’t spend time sending people emails under bogus names. I don’t spend time rehashing stuff from years ago and continuing to spew venom like you have all your life. I read your stuff, laugh, and delete it. But believe it or not, I hope you find someone you can be happy with. Live your life! Enjoy your adventures! But you may want to keep on with the counseling for a while because you are giving me free rent in your head.

I have a friend, let’s call her Helen. She has a so called friend that is really doing a number on her head. She slept with Helen’s husband after they separated. ( they were separated so it was ok, right?). Now she has decided Helen’s new boyfriend is not the right guy for her. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he is good looking and totally devoted to Helen? She is blatantly flirting with him and not getting any results.

I had this same kind of thing happen when Steve and I were dating in Little Rock. Look ladies, friends don’t try to fuck your boyfriend or husband. They don’t make subtle or unsubtle overtures. And when you are in a solid relationship your partner recognizes what is going on and is OFFENDED that someone would think that he or she is so shallow that they would hook up with your friend.

So Helen is asking herself if what she senses is what is really happening. Why would her friend do this? Shouldn’t she feel confident enough not to feel threatened?

What does all of this mean?

What is means is this chick is NOT YOUR FRIEND! Friends don’t sleep with your ex husband. Friends don’t flirt with your boyfriend. They don’t try to control and manipulate you.
They don’t make you feel bad about yourself. Good friends build each other up, they don’t look for opportunities to tear you down. They instill confidence not fear and doubt.

Take those same words and they are also the basis for a good relationship or marriage.

If you stay in the give and take of a toxic relationship dance, then you are dooming yourself to the same pain over and over. Some people have a hard time recognizing that. I understand. I had a relatively brief toxic relationship that made me feel like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. I didnt know which way was up. Took me a while to figure out what was going on, but when I did I got out. By the way I strongly recommend
” Why Does He Do That? Inside The Minds Of Angry And Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft.

It’s like picking at a scab for some people. It hurts but they can’t stop doing it. The the wound gets infected and the pain is worse. Plus it takes longer to heal.

Put a band aid on it and FORGET ABOUT IT! OR HIM. OR HER.

QUIT reading the emails. QUIT responding to the texts. UNFRIEND them on Facebook. QUIT taking the phone calls. Just QUIT.

Life is too short.

All Fathers Are Not Perfect. Deal With It.

My Dad and Keely

Father’s Day is tomorrow. 

My dad is gone now.  But I would have gone out to Mom and Dad’s and given him a card.  He would have cried because he got very sentimental in his older years.  We quit doing presents years ago because he really didn’t need anything.  The last couple of years I brought Cold Stone Ice Cream Cakes.  He really liked those.

My dad and I had a rough relationship.  I was the oldest of four and he had an anger management problem.  I got the brunt of it.  By the time my sister Tracey came around ten years later, he had mellowed a lot.  She had a different father than I did.  Her childhood memories are totally different than mine.

I came to terms with that a long time ago.  I loved my dad, but there were a lot of things about him that I didn’t like.  He was autocratic, hard headed, crabby and yelled a lot.    For a long time, all I thought about were the dark times.  The anger, the spankings, the unfairness of it all.

After I had kids, I was dumfounded when they would bring up the times I was angry with them.  The times I yelled.  Didn’t they remember all the good stuff?  The sacrifices I made?  The trips, the laughter, the fun?

That made me rethink my relationship with my dad, and remember that it wasn’t all bad.  He built a tetherball for me in the back yard.  He took us to drive in movies and let mom stay home for some relief from four kids.  He taught me how to play pinochle.   He built a barn for me (well he made me help but that was only fair) so that I could have horses.  He taught me how to drive.  Well, that wasn’t exactly a good memory because he yelled a lot, but in retrospect I don’t blame him a bit. 

There were good times.  He did love me.  But for some reason I had tunnel vision on the negative times.

He wasn’t all bad.  He wasn’t all good.  He was human, just like me.

It took hearing the same stuff coming from my kid’s mouths to make me realize that. 

So tomorrow is Fathers Day.  I know some dads that love their kids and their kids won’t talk to them.  

I was talking to one of those kids last year in Little Rock.  His dad and mom were divorced and it wasn’t pretty.  His dad was my friend and was heartsick over the fact that his son wouldn’t talk to him.  The kid wasn’t thinking about the zillion times his dad drove him all over the place for tournaments.  The family trips that were centered on Taekwondo tournaments.  How proud he was of him.  The sacrifices that he made.  He was only remembering the stuff he didn’t like. 

I asked him to think about how he would feel if something happened to his dad.  Because if then started having honest and balanced memories of his dad, he would remember the good stuff too.  How would he feel then about the way he treated his dad?  Did he really want to live with that guilt for the rest of his life?  Forever?

I don’t know if that made an impression or not.  I hope it did. 

 

Another friend waited for surgery on his knee so that he and his boys could test for their black belts together.  I could hardly talk for the tears when I awarded black belts to all of them together, and I can tell you there was not a dry eye in the audience either.  It was a true demonstration of a parents love for his children.   I can’t count the times we talked in my office or through emails about his concerns for both of those boys.  He turned down jobs that were out of state because he didn’t want to be away from them.  He was finally forced to take a job out of state and now his oldest son refuses to visit. 

I didn’t have any guilt when my dad died.  He knew I loved him.  In the great scheme of things I was able to balance the bad with the good.  I choose now to remember the good.