“Will We Get More, Martha?

…not like this isn’t nice.”


You’ve waited SO LONG Bear.

Last year — or any other year — I wasn’t walking out at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge. It never occurred to me to walk there until this past March when Covid hit. My usual walks were at the beautiful Shriver/Wright Wildlife Area and Rio Grande Wildlife Area, but when Covid hit, the trails at Shriver/Wright became too often frequented by people who let their dogs out of the car at the parking lot to run, and the Rio Grande Wildlife Area closes from February to July so birds can nest.

I’d gone out to the Refuge to walk once when the cranes were at their peak and saw that it would be a GREAT place for the dogs and me. Well enforced leash law. Wide trails so rattlesnakes would be visible come snake season. Animals. Few people and most of them in cars. Wide, soul-filling vistas.

It took a little while for my Big White Dog to accept it. Livestock guardian dogs don’t like change, but I knew the more often we went, the more content she would be and soon she would turn it — with its smells and landscape — into her territory, and so she has. I’ve written a lot about it on this blog because it’s been one very good thing in my life during this time. I’ve (obviously) loved every moment I’ve spent with the cranes. Endured the deer flies and mosquitoes of summer, the admission price to summer sunsets. And best of all (so far), fall with chill days, cranes and beautiful skies. At one point this fall my friends became interested in going along and that has been very nice. Once in spring, my next-door neighbor and I took a long walk out there and talked about so many of the things that were troubling us.

Still, winter is my favorite season, and I’ve been anticipating the experience of the Refuge in snow and cold, in winter’s angled light and often silvery skies.

The migraines have been a little worrisome and the approaching holiday? Well, as it happens, I’m not crazy about Christmas as a celebration anyway, but it still has a quiet and important place in my heart and life. Over the years, as many of my Christmases have been solitary since all my family has died, I’ve experienced some miraculous Christmas Eves, so many that I no longer plan anything. I just let them happen. One year my stepson and his wife showed up with German Christmas (my step-daughter-in-law is German) and suddenly I was celebrating Christmas Eve exactly as I’d celebrated it growing up — dinner and a gift exchange. Sandi, who’s from the area near Dresden, brought all the foods she was used to on Christmas Eve. I baked mince pie. It was a warm and lovely evening spent with two people I love dearly. Another year I was surprised to find myself riding a horse when I’d thought there was no way I could get on one.

Lately, in the midst of this strange year, I’ve felt (as many of us have) the melancholy of the holidays combined with the sad statistics of Covid-19 and lurking dread of 45 who just won’t stop. And so…

This morning I was finally feeling brave enough to face the glare of snow, and I took Bear to the Refuge. It was the first time I’d walked there in winter and it was magical. Silent and immense with the infinitely varying sky that’s a feature of the San Luis Valley. Bear was blissful — snow holds smells to the ground the way grass doesn’t — and I was happy that animal tracks told me something about what she was smelling. Hundreds of ducks had taken flight the moment we arrived and I watched them circle and dive and land back on the pond. Walking on snow is dream walking. I felt like I could go forever. I saw how great this place will be on X-country skies and felt a lilt of anticipation. When we turned around and the angle of the sun changed, I watched a hawk circle in the silvery winter sky.

“Spend Christmas with us,” said the Refuge. I looked around at the few trees and bushes, thought of the hungry birds, and of putting suet balls on one or two of them on Christmas Eve.

“I will. Thank you for the invitation,” I said, excited to be spending Christmas Eve with someone I love.

Walk in the Snow with Bear

It remains cold, below freezing, so the snow — though not freshly fallen — still powdery and perfect. I wanted to take the skis out again, but if a person can’t be fair to her dogs, what’s the point of her entire existence? (“Bear, stop putting words in my mouth!”)

Walking in snow a few inches above the ankle is a little difficult, especially when the snow doesn’t compress beneath your foot, but I was totally up to it. It was gloriously beautiful to be back out in the big empty, in the snow, with my big white dog (“I’ve waited a long time Martha!”), beneath the December sky that matches the blue and white of the mountains — the boundary between them marked by the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristos reaching into the watercolor-soft blue and white cloudy sky.

Bear likes to lean against me when I’m having a “moment.” I think she knows what’s going on with me. I think she understands perfectly that when I stare off to the horizon that it’s similar to me stopping and waiting as long as she needs to get the entire gist of a message. Sometimes she pulls — her messages seem, often, to carry a sense of urgency (ha ha). This is the biggest challenge. I don’t want to be pulled off balance right now. The messages I get from the sky and the mountains are quiet, reassuring affirmations of my place in the universe.

Bear found hundreds of tracks to, uh, track. Mule deer, certainly, and moose (it seems) as well as a nice patch of fox urine to roll in. She stopped to leave behind a message for her friend the fox should he pass again. My and my friend’s ski tracks rested unmolested. We only walked a mile because my foot is still not 100% and since I want nothing more than to keep skiing, I’m not going to risk anything. And, it happens, skiing is easier than walking.

The scene, this day after the solstice, was right out of John Greenleaf Whittier’s Snowbound, a long meditative poem on winter and my grandfather used to read it to my mom and her sisters and brothers every Christmas. It’s very lovely, evoking all the nostalgia and love of Christmas time, yearning for the past, endless love for those who are now only memories for us, whose stories and lives we carry around in our own lives — for good or ill or both.

The ending of the poem is exactly what I felt today, looking out at the rough snowy line of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the barren trees, the short, December light, my precious Bear leaning against my legs, my feet buried in snow. I felt grateful (again) to be in the San Luis Valley. I thought of the amazing woman I met yesterday at a Christmas concert and the equally amazing woman with whom I went. I looked at my friend’s ski tracks and remembered how much fun we had two days ago. I felt gratitude — again — to all the influences of my life that magically brought me where I am supposed to be.

The traveller owns the grateful sense 
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence, 
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare 
The benediction of the air.

If you’d like to read the whole poem, here it is. Snowbound: A Winter Idyll by John Greenleaf Whittier

Lamont and Dude Discuss Tradition

“Is it over yet? Can I come out?”

“What’s your problem with the holidays, Lamont?”

“Well, there’s all the kitsch, the expectations, the repetition of what we did last year…”

“That’s called ‘tradition’ Lamont.”

“…the illusion that it’s all somehow different and the world is going to change as a result of it. It doesn’t work that way. How’s the world going to change by doing the same thing you did last year and the year before? Show me ONE animal who celebrates ‘the holidays’.”

“Animals have bigger problems.”

“Yeah, exactly. Like food and kill or be killed. Whenever I see Santa and his Reindeer I think of the time I was a caribou. The whole thing shows little understanding of…”

“You were a caribou?”

“Yep. Wonderful times. Wandering with my pals for miles and miles in the snow, running from wolves, sometimes taking one down. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, Dude, but I loved the Ice Age.”

“It had its points, I’ll grant you, but it was cold. And as for Santa, in some parts of the world caribou are raised as domestic herd animals. It’s not totally crazy.”

“You don’t think caribou flying through the air is totally crazy? No wonder you were able to be a convincing Smilodon in that suit for such a long time.”

“I was convincing first because I was in that suit and second because I was once a Smilodon. I’d have made short shrift of you as a caribou. Remember that.”

“Short shrift. Now that’s one of the strangest phrases in English, don’t you think? What’s a ‘shrift’?”

***

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.


Merry Christmas!

Scrooge crawled off this morning when I looked at photos of the step-grandkids on Christmas Eve opening presents I had sent them. I was hard pressed to do gifts this year, hard-pressed financially and emotionally, but I assembled a big box and the presents were set under their tree.

My step-daughter-in-law is German, and her tradition of Christmas is like that of my family’s. Open gifts on Christmas Eve. She has endured the custom tug-o-war with her husband’s mom, but reached the same compromise my mom did with her in-laws. Open some gifts on Christmas Eve. The rest on Christmas Day.

Last night the kids were taken for a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights, and the room with the tree was set up with the presents. The kids came back to a surprise Christmas wonderland, and opened only the presents sent by Oma Martha (that’s me). When I saw the photos of them wearing the caps knitted by my friend, E, my Grinch heart softened. Maybe that’s the whole point. ❤

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/25/rdp-tuesday-host/



Immigrants and Refugees

A long time ago in a faraway land known as Omaha, Nebraska, I went to a private school. I was in the 6th grade, studying Spanish and a member of the Spanish club along with my best friend, Mary N.

Christmas came around and the head of the foreign languages department, Dr. Espinosa (known as Dr. Halitosis because kids are both young and cruel) wanted to organize a Christmas music event for the Spanish Club of Omaha. What this meant was that we learned a lot of Christmas songs in Spanish, some just the usual carols and some songs from Spanish speaking countries.

The big night came and because Mary and I were the only two middle-schoolers in the group, we had to dress like the other girls who were in high school. It was the first time I wore nylons, and I had to borrow a red blazer. Middle schoolers wore sweaters.

My dad took me and dropped me off at the Spanish club, and Mary’s father volunteered to bring me home though Bellevue was NOT on the way from downtown Omaha where our school was located to Council Bluffs, Iowa where Mary lived. From there we’d ride the school bus to the Big Event.

My mom’s nylons felt creepy on my legs, that plus my mom felt that 11 year old girls should NOT wear nylons. They were also cold. It was December in Nebraska, damp, biting cold hit my essentially bare legs. Both Mary’s mom and my mom drew the line on heels. Neither of us were going to wear them. Dr. Espinosa accepted that. We didn’t really look like high school girls anyway, especially for 1963 which was a lot of bouffant and hairspray, blue eye-shadow and orange lips.

We arrived in an old building in downtown Omaha. We were ushered into a room which was filled with old people, all dressed up, women all in red lipstick. There was a table filled with cookies and punch. As it was 1963, people were also smoking. They sat in three or four rows. We assembled ourselves in front of them and Dr. Espinosa introduced us.

It was an interesting introduction because he didn’t just introduce us girls to the group of well-dressed old people, but he introduced them to us.

They were all refugees from the fascism of Generalissimo Franco’s regime. Our songs — especially those that came from Spain — meant a lot to the people sitting in that room.

The only one I remember is this one, “Arrurru, Arrurru.” As I remember, it’s a song from Mexico, one often sung during La Posada, a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s attempt to find a place to sleep.

We sang it much more slowly than this version, but I have no idea what’s the right way or wrong way to sing it or if there is even such a thing.

The people attending the concert that night were very touched by our music. One woman said, “Thank you for bringing a little bit of Spain to Omaha tonight. Bless you, girls.”

My friend and I were silly pre-teenagers, caught up in our own passions (hers was horses, mine was Lawrence of Arabia) but we got it.

It was an important experience for me, unforgettable (obviously). It was the first time I fully understood how people could be forced to leave a country they loved, a culture to which they belonged, because of politics.

Not that PBR

I’m sorry but what? My family? Two dogs. A couple of cousins in the wilds of Montana (one of whom flirts with me, very creepy) and a couple others here and there. Family is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some families are just fucked from the getgo. Some fall apart over time. This joyful holiday get-together-with-family BS is just an added pressure this time of year, and I’m at the point in life where I get to choose my “family.”

Last Christmas I spent with some of my chosen family in Colorado Springs. Providence brought me a sister not long after my brother Kirk died from alcoholism. “Here,” Providence said, “from Kirk.” We thank Kirk from time to time because without him dying we wouldn’t know each other. To learn about that, you can read my post on the Kindness of the Gods.

The Christmas Eve get-together of family and friends was hilarious and grim as only family Christmases can be. The “brother-in-law,” we’ll call him “M,” got drunk and spent the evening sitting on the “going to the basement” stairs of the split-level house my chosen sister (CS) had borrowed from her second brother (who was not there) because it had a dishwasher and more space than her house. Probably 30 people attended. I knew most of them, but didn’t get to talk to everyone. I was in a lot of pain from my hip and couldn’t stand for more than five or ten minutes, so I had to spend the party sitting on a comfy chair (“No, no, not the comfy chair!”)

My “son-like-thing” was depressed and mildly inebriated, in a bad relationship and lost in life. My nephew, one of the sweetest people on the planet, a developmentally disabled guy in his 30s, sat with me on a small sofa with his head on my shoulder staring at my tits. My CS’s oldest brother and his piece-of-work wife interviewed me about my education and credentials to see if I merited their attention and conversation. I passed, but that didn’t mean we had anything to say to each other.

After about a couple of hours, my CS noticed that “M” was MIA.

“He’s on the basement stairs. He’s been there all night.”
“Is he OK?”
“He doesn’t look so good.”
“I’ll take him home,” I said. I’d signed up for that job early in the day.

Some friends helped “M” to my car. No one knew if he (blind and arthritic and drunk) could walk on his own, and the thought of him falling was not to be borne. “I’ll meet you there,” said one of my CS’s friends who was there with her son and his new girlfriend. I was pretty stove up at the time, needing hip surgery and unable to easily climb stairs, so I wouldn’t have been able to help him into the house. We’d have sat in the car godnose how long.

Absurd.

“Great,” I said, relieved. On the way “home,” I dropped off my CS’s very pitiful ( 😦 )alcoholic musician friend, then took “M” home. The friends drove up, ready to help, but “M” was fine. He went in by himself, headed directly to the basement, his hangout, with the mini-fridge and the 20 pack of *PBRs.

“You going back to the party?” asked the friend.

I shook my head, thinking how amazing life is that even with everyone in my own dysfunctional blood family dead, I could still have a Christmas Eve like that. ❤

~~~

*PBR stands both for Professional Bull Riders and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

Halcyon Days

I have a feeling that one’s halcyon days might depend on one’s attitude. I’ve been feeling glum about things. Anyway, woke up in a blue mood, confused and disenchanted. The prompt “halcyon” wasn’t happening. 

I realized lately it’s probable that I’ve hit another one of those “turning points” or “crisis junctures” in life, often related to age. Also, maybe, it’s also related to the time of year which everyone agrees isn’t always the “holly jolly” thing it’s supposed to be. In my case, after all the HOPE and striving last year, I have landed square in reality again. It’s OK. It’s a far better reality than that in which I lived last year.

Over the past two days I’ve seen what story the Work in Progress actually is. It’s not a happy story, but it is definitely a Goliard story and it’s a view at a little known aspect of the Middle Ages, though that’s not all it is. I still want to write it, but it’s going to require a lot of discipline and mountain hikes. I wish it would really snow so I could find out if I can still X-country ski. I make take horse-riding lessons. To write this story my life is going to need a very powerful balance toward the good, the happy, the light. Thank goodness I have a pal who’s always ready to go outside with me.

Anyhoo, with all this in mind, I left the story for the day, shopped, cleaned, took the dogs for a walk. At the store a couple of guys were making fun of salad dressing and it just cracked me up.

“All there is is raaanch.”
“I hate raaaanch.”
“Me too, but look at that. Every brand of raaaanch.” (You have to pronounce it in kind of a nasal way like in a cowboy movie)
I had to go where they were to get salad dressing and I said, “You guys are totally cracking me up.”
“Yeah and we haven’t even had anything yet.”
“Wow.”
“What about rawnch.” (Faux British accent)
I laughed. 
“Oh, ranch” (French accent).
“Mai oui. C’est merveilleux.” I said. 

Lucky I’m easily amused. 

Still in a funk, I took out the dogs. We’ve been walking at the end of the golf course where, if I were a deer, I wouldn’t hang out. Now I think my herd of deer might actually “like” me. 

Bear notices them as soon as they are within our “range” which is about 100 yards. I knew they were coming and from where when Bear suddenly stood between me and what seemed to be the “big empty” to the west. I knew then it wasn’t empty, but I didn’t see anything. 

We kept walking and from time to time I looked toward the north, toward the parked tanker cars beyond which the deer hang out. Not always “beyond which” I know for fact from their footprints, spray on snowy trees, tracks and Dusty and Bear’s passionate sniffing. Then I looked over at the train and saw big ears turned in my direction under one of the cars. I stopped. 

Bear resumed her guardian position. I took Dusty’s collar because we were pretty close — maybe 50 yards away and no real barrier. If he saw them, there was every chance he’d bark and chase. I turned and kept going. When I turned around, one of them had emerged from under the train and was walking toward us. 

Well, my deer. “We’re not friends,” I told her. “These are dogs and your dad or husband doesn’t like me.” She stopped. Dusty, Bear and I walked away from them and when I turned around, they were gone. 


Then I thought, “What’s really better than this? I can walk. I can write this difficult story. It’s in my power now, but it wasn’t before. I live in this beautiful place. I can spend the winter getting ready to climb mountains this summer. Never before in my life have I had this kind of freedom. So what if I’m old and ugly? Dusty and Bear don’t care and neither do my friends. That’s MY female ego problem, nothing more. So what if I’m approaching that ‘three score and ten’ they go on about in the Bible? I don’t want to live forever anyway. Sure, right now I’m disappointed about some stuff, but who isn’t? These are halcyon days, these winter days with the steeply angled light, the indigo mountains and the promise of snow.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/rdp-monday-halcyon/

Christmas Concert

Yesterday my friend and I went to hear Christmas music performed by the Valley Community Chorus and accompanied by the San Luis Valley Community Band. The event was held at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa, a beautiful hybrid between Romanesque and Gothic in style, patterned on the prevailing style of mission churches in this part of the West. It has wonderful acoustics. The community to which the chorus sang and the band played — and from which they draw for members — is as a big as Connecticut with a population around 60,000. There’s a lot of driving involved for some of them.

My friend and I are both retired teachers. It’s pretty obvious, I think. Strangers have said, “You must be retired teachers.” I don’t know how they knew that (I think I’m a punk rocker, yes I am) but as I looked around me yesterday, at the listeners and the performers, I reached the same conclusion. A lot of retired teachers. One giveaway was the prevalence of Christmas sweaters of a certain style. 

At one point in the concert, the director (who, I assume, is also a teacher) asked, “How many of our choir and band developed their love of music in public school?”

Most of the participants raised their hands. I started to clap loudly, and there followed a ripple then a roar of applause. I might never want to teach anyone anything again as long as I live and regret that I didn’t stay with Head Ski, get free skis and do marketing, but damn. Without schools? We would all miss out on what matters most in life — and that’s not our job. It’s what the band leader referred to as our “avocations.”

The high school in my town takes its band very seriously and the band wins prizes. There’s a big sign on the east end of town listing all the times the band won best in state. Since the high school is two blocks from my house, I get to hear them practice marching for parades. I love it. I’m proud of them. I get goosebumps when I see them going up and down the streets trying to keep in time and walk simultaneously. It’s the teacher in me. I look at youth in the act of aspiring and I’m moved.

Yesterday I looked at the retired teachers all around me, and I thought, “We never fully drop that torch. We always believe in it,” and I was moved. 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/rdp-monday-ripple/

Family…

This time of year families gather together. For many years, I traveled to Montana, first with my mom, dad and brother to stay with my grandmothers. Then, as an adult, I flew up to Montana from San Diego to be with my mom and then, after she died, I flew to Montana to spend Christmas with my aunts. 

There was a period in there when I broke off with my family — I made some choices I had every right to make, but my mom disowned me, leaving me feeling confused and ashamed. I can’t say the estrangement was a bad thing or a bad time. I now believe it was necessary. In those years I belonged to a new family, this family was in Zürich, and for a few years I flew “home” to Zürich for Christmas. I look on that time as one of the sweetest and magical of my life. 

My mom and I attempted to make amends after one of my cousins died suddenly of a brain tumor, and my mom realized it could have been me. From that came one of the three times she ever called me on the phone (it was my job to call her) and asked me to come “home” for Christmas. I did. It turned out to be the last Christmas of her life. It was a strange, joyless Christmas for both of us. We didn’t like each other. I wasn’t the daughter she wanted, and I had never found anything in common with her, feeling only a sense of duty and the wish for love. My aunt Dickie called me up while I was visiting my mom and attempted a heart-to-heart about my mom’s drinking. But, as my aunt Dickie didn’t want to bad-mouth her sister, and this is the cowboy American west where some things were just not spoken of directly by the older generation, I didn’t get the point. I didn’t even get it when my mom almost crashed the car into a curb… I would learn the truth three months later when a scan of my mom’s brain revealed brain lesions from alcoholism.

The years of Christmas with my aunts were wonderful, fun, warm, friendly, loving, and I savored those times knowing they would not last forever. All of my aunts are gone now and my reflection in the mirror is a collage containing features and expressions of all those people. Interestingly, only the bird finger on my right hand resembles anything about my mom. Go figure.

I think there’s a point in most of our lives — especially those of us who don’t have kids — when we’re the sole survivors. I don’t mind. I loved my family and I miss them, but I’ve understood for a while that we all stand on a curb watching the passing parade. It’s an interesting parade because though we stand and watch, we are also in it, moving at different rates of speed toward the moment when we turn a corner and are no more. 

Ultimately, I found my home in a place on the map my family only passed through. I could have come sooner, but I guess I wasn’t ready or didn’t realize what “home” was. I love Montana, but the winter nights are very long and I like sunshine. I ended up in exactly the right place for me. I began to get an idea about 10 years ago and a search that began in 2002 for a job in Wyoming became a search for home in a small town in Colorado where I could live on the rather frugal income I’d have when I retired. I also wanted mountains, to live at a high elevation, to have snow and sunshine. 

I found it.

And, family, too. Family-less, the blank spaces in my life have been filled by those to whom I have an affinity and they to me. Some are close, some are more distant, but the heart-ties are the same or even more wholesome, cleaner, without some of the loaded expectations we have of family. 

25 years ago I was given a collection of Rumi’s poems by a woman who was a very precious friend and soulmate, both she and her husband. I felt she was my older sister, and in the passage of time, her husband — who was born the same year as my dad — offered me affection and support very like my dad would have if he had been alive. In that collection of poems, I read this one and decided to use it as instructions for finding the right direction.

Anyone who genuinely and constantly with both hands
looks for something, will find it.
Though you are lame and bent over, keep moving toward [it]. With speech, with silence, with sniffing about, stay on the track.
Whenever some kindness comes to you, turn that way, toward the source of kindness.



EASY Christmas Shopping

I think having been through a big fire, I still have PTSD. Seriously, every time — but especially this time of year which is a couple weeks after my dogs and I finally got to come home after being evacuated from the Cedar Fire — if there’s a big fire anywhere, but especially CA, CO, MT or NM, I’m a wreck.

You don’t forget what it feels like to see a huge wall of smoke and flames crest a mountain that’s between you and your house, or finally to be released from the Red Cross shelter, or where you’ve been waiting (in my case it was both a shelter and a park), and told you can’t go home, but you can drive on the freeway to friends in another town, if you have any.

In 2003, I was lucky to have friends living near the beach. I drove west on I-8 with fire to right, left and in the median strip. The fuel was mostly gone, but some of the flames were high.

Safe at my friend’s, I waited constantly for word that my town and house were OK. The smoke still shrouded my mountains and phone service was sketchy. I was in a state of shock and anxiety.

I was (obviously) very lucky, but it was terrifying. When I did go home, the fire wasn’t out. It had just moved on to where there was fuel. Ash and smoke were everywhere. The road to the north was closed due to fire for six more weeks with firefighters from all over the US battling the fire in very rough terrain. At night the flames were visible. The firefighters were trying to encircle the fire and get it away from the two towns higher up CA 79, Julian and Lake Cuyamaca.

At the time I had four dogs, and they were all freaked out from the experience we were sharing. We lived in a rural area, so naturally, at the Red Cross shelter, were people who’d evacuated their farms and ranches, taking what animals they could with them. Imagine a flat-bed trailer pulled by a pick-up on which were strapped cages of chickens, ducks, rabbits, two sheep and a goat, horse trailers and livestock trailers filled with animals and feed. Horses tied to light poles at the high school parking lot, their trailers too packed with possessions and food for anything other than a brief, necessary ride. I overheard conversations, “I couldn’t do anything with the cattle. They’ll have to fend for themselves,” and “I just turned the horses loose. I don’t have a trailer. Nothing else to do. The Lord knows if I’ll ever see them again.” A little girl at the high school that was the Red Cross shelter was especially taken with my pitbull, Persie. It turned out they’d had to leave her dog behind when the fire hit Alpine, and they’d had ten minutes to get out. The little girl was devastated, and somehow Persie helped.

SO…I feel especially for the animals affected by the fires in California. 

Yeah, I know the comparative value of human life, but I think there are more resources for helping people. I’ve found a couple of organizations that are working hard to help animals who’ve been lost, burned, left homeless. These organizations are caring for the animals and trying to find owners who might be dead or disoriented or injured themselves. So if you’re so moved, North Valley Animal Disaster Group http://www.nvadg.org is one very active rescue that could benefit from your help. It has literally rescued more than a thousand animals left behind from the Camp Fire and the town of Paradise. Other agencies are helping them that could use your help too.

I don’t have a lot of people on my Christmas list, but this is what they’re getting from me.