Cali Crazy: A Texan’s Take on the Golden State—Weed wars, wicked words and wacky women

pot

Howdy, folks. I know it’s been awhile, but I’ve been awful busy. This Texan has been in a real-live (seemingly) Alamo—over pot, no less. Except this time, our side’s got plenty of big guns and ammo and just as much gumption.

In our battle against local pot growers bringing commercial cannabis into our little county via the ballot, we’ve more than held our own. But for the duration of this war (three more weeks), we’ve still got work to do.

But we just came away victorious in a debate put on by a local nonpartisan yet partisan group. We did real good. Not bad for a few old retirees who were just gittin’ started a year ago. In case, you don’t know—I’m our Webmaster, social media admin, and marketing/opinion writer.

Now, look at us. We got a website, yard signs, banners, brochures and over a thousand like-minded fellow voters.

Wicked words this way come

Our group is a lean, mean fightin’ machine, but we need all the armor we can get. Seems like every day we get ambushed by the silliest of accusations. The latest is that we signed up a bunch of dead people in the 1,000-strong names list we published in the local paper.

During the other side’s social media hissy fit, they tell each other strongly that these dead people oughta complain to the county and to the paper. Somethin’s gotta be done, they say. Dang … a year ago, things were a lot more friendly.

No more. In the months since I got into this fight over whether to allow a bunch of growers to write our pot laws for us, things have taken some nasty turns.

The growers and those in their posse call me: a liar, transplant, a lonely man with a computer, impotent, idiot, stupid, ignorant, a horrible person, a propagandist, a f…ing moron, a parasite, a sneaky rat, a media whore, a crybaby loser, a stupid sh*t, a cretin, a manipulator, deceitful, a public nuisance, a menace to the community, a hypocrite, a fraud, and dangerous. Period.

These are pretty good, but my favorite’s gotta be this:

I’m a gaslighter.

I had to look that one up. As gaslighter is a rascal who uses repetitive lies to get people to doubt their own reality. It’s like mind control. Evidently, dictators and psychopaths use it to control others.

According to my Facebook enemies, when I’m not on my Xbox (got an Xbox One, by the way), I’m mind-controlling a bunch of old folks to oppose the growers makin’ it legal to grow up to a million pounds of pot every year. That’s enough bud to supply each county voter with up to 88 pounds.

And it’s not like all that weed will stay here. These growers want to use our land to grow it and then sell most of it out of county. California produces seven to ten times as much as it can use anyhow.

And the weird thing about everything is this: The majority of the abuse is coming from local women. Now, I get that Facebookers are primarily ladies, but the ladies I’m used to—the ones in God’s Country—act a little more ladylike.

Ahab’s after me.

There’s one in particular who really has it out for me. I’m like her White Whale and she’s my Captain Ahab. She even comes to this blog to try to dig up some dirt on me, I guess. Then she posts my posts on the local growers’ Facebook group page.

Shoot, woman—keep ‘er comin’—there’s nuthin’ like free air time and more exposure. I guess it goes to show you that obsession ain’t all that strategic.

If this spitfire wants to shut me down and save the community from the menace I’ve become, sharing my Texas wisdom with her gang of growers ain’t the best way to go about it.

Not only is she a mean one, she treats my opposition to her group’s goals as a personal attack. Instead of just chalking it up to strong disagreement, it’s like she’d like to tan my hide in the public square and run me outta Dodge.

Everything’s a conspiracy to this woman. She recently accused a fella on our side of being a paid operative. Heck, I don’t even get paid. If he’s on the take, where’s mine?

She even questioned his county credentials by lining ’em up next to hers. When push came to shove, it turns out his family’s been in these parts since the 1880s. He beats hers by 40 years.

I’m a good guy. Ask my posse.

C’mon, now, lady—as the song goes—there ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree. Ooh, Ooh, OOH, oh, oh, OH.

Just because I don’t agree that cannabis cures EVERYTHING doesn’t mean I’m a liar and gaslighter. My strong opinions and disagreements with you and yours over pot, doesn’t mean you gotta be so ugly. And the only gaslighting I ever done was in high school with a lighter and a belly full of beans.

Just, relax. Once this whole crazy cannabis thing is done and decided, we’ll still be neighbors . Heck, we’ll see each other at the Safeway, at county fairs, while getting gas, and maybe even at softball games—if the wife and I ever get around to having a young-un—or ten.

Well, anyways, that’s all I got. The celebrated cannabis kerfuffle in my little ‘ol California county is about to be decided by us voters … for now.

It’s been a big, bruisin’ battle. Here’s hopin’ it won’t turn into an all-out weed war.

Puppen: The “perfect” little dog who broke my heart and taught me what it means to truly love

puppen

I’m not a father, but hope to be someday. I like to think I have a lot of love to give. I also know I’m learning what it means to truly love.

I know this because I’m learning it in the hardest, most heartbreaking way of my life. I’m learning to love and lose from a little dog named Puppen.

Her real name was Jewel, but we didn’t like it because it wasn’t a fashionable fit for our then eight-year-old Scottish/Cairn Terrier, Jack, or Captain Jack, the pirate. Jewel and Jack? The alliteration works, but we could do better.

Jack and Jill? Nah. Who names their dog, Jill? Let’s see … how about a liquor theme? Jack and Brandy? Brandi. Bingo.

We called her Brandi about a dozen times, but it felt like we did so to call her down. Brandi didn’t work because it didn’t fit. Our little tri-color (red, tan and white) Miniature Aussie deserved better. Then my wife’s mom called her “Pupdawg.”

Pupdawg. It fit. She became Pupdawg and Pupdups and Pupcake. Then, for us, she became Puppen.

And Puppen was perfect.

puppen

Lover and leaper

She was a natural, consummate athlete. She moved with a fluid efficiency, nothing wasted. Puppen quickly revealed her love for chasing, leaping and catching Chuckit-propelled balls and, later, for frisbee fetch.

Puppen was an affectionate love-bug. She’d lean against you during car rides, snuggle sessions, afternoon naps—she was an ultra-sensitive natural therapy dog who gave as good as she got.

Her car-ride love-leaning turned my father-in-law from a cat person to a guy who rushed to our Miniature Aussie breeder to get his own Puppen—her half-brother who became his Merley.

Puppen was, paws-down, the smartest little whip of a dog I’ve ever known. She picked us at the breeder’s. While her litter mates rolled around in a big ball of furry puppy, she stood apart investigating her surroundings. Then she saw us.

Puppen made a beeline for the fence gate and stood on her hind legs to welcome me with a few well-placed whimpers and longing gazes from her soulful brown eyes. She seemed to be saying, Get me outta here and make me yours. These brothers and sisters of mine are idiots.

No training needed

My mother-in-law has complimented us more than once on how well-trained Puppen was. I had to correct her. She trained herself. Puppen was an obedient, loving, wicked-smart dog who naturally took to frisbee fetch, love leans, and so many other wonderful things that made her her.

A contractor friend reminded me of Puppen’s intelligence one day while he was building a music studio for my father-in-law. “She’s the smart one. When she watches me work, I can tell she’s thinking things through.”

Puppen would ascend to her perch of a giant red rock on the ranch to survey the situation while the three other dogs ran off barking at phantom intruders. Let the slobberheads scare up whatever it was (or wasn’t)—I’ll wait here and watch.

puppen
Puppen & Merley

A month or so ago, Puppen was in the prime of her life—a few months shy of six and always ready to go and keep going while chasing frisbees and launching herself in the pond after well-placed ball throws.

Too much, too soon

Puppen seemed indestructible. We looked forward to many, many more years of joy with our perfect little dog. Life was wonderful. Then we were caught flat-footed the last Saturday morning in June when Puppen woke us wailing.

Her teeth were locked on the bars of her crate, eyes wide and bulging. Through tears and our worst fears, I unlocked her teeth and gently pushed her snout back through the bars. My wife pulled her out, her body limp, as she panted and drooled.

We called the vet and were told he was booked with emergencies. Emily’s parents rushed over in robes and slippers. Puppen seemed to rally, but then suffered another seizure that caused Emily’s father to collapse on the carpet next to her crying, “Oh, no, no … Pupdawg, Pupdawg.”

We carried Puppen to the truck and headed off to Reno for an emergency vet an hour and a half away. It was the longest drive of my life. As my wife tried in vain to comfort her, Puppen went through a half a dozen more seizures during which she wailed and paddled her front feet helplessly.

When we finally arrived, Puppen gave my wife one last look that may haunt her for the rest of her life. For one brief instant, she looked at her with recognition. During her fits, those piercingly intense brown eyes went blank.

prognosis: Grief

I carried Puppen into the clinic where she was whisked to the back for an IV and for what we hoped would be seizure-stopping midazolam. While waiting for the vet, we heard her screaming every ten minutes or so.

At this point, I was confident the vet would verify that Puppen had late-onset epilepsy and that it was merely a matter of getting things under control and then managing her condition with medication.

The look on his face told a different story. He knew Puppen was in deep trouble. We talked about cat scans and MRIs and taking her to Sacramento three hours away. We called Emily’s father who had spoken with his vet friend.

We discussed leaving her at the pet hospital and in good hands until Monday. Surely by then the IV and medicine would help her rally, so we could get her to another vet with advanced medical imaging capabilities. So we could fix her.

We asked to see Puppen before we decided what to do.

One look at our little pupdawg shattered all our plans and hopes.

Fear and anguish

Lying on her side with a puppy blanket covering her to the shoulders, her eyes were blank and half open. Her breathing was labored. Then she wailed and writhed. The addition of two more injections of the stronger anti-seizure medicine, phenobarbital, did nothing to help her.

The vet told us that her heart rate was dangerously low, which is not a symptom of epilepsy. He said that she probably wasn’t in pain, but was confused and frightened. Our little Puppen was a smart, sensitive little dog, and the information broke our hearts.

When her seizure ended, she panted and drooled, but when we spoke to her close, her ear flicked and she let out a faint whine of recognition.

This is when we knew that it would be an absolute mercy to deliver her and let her go. When Emily gave the word through sobs, I told a visibly relieved and wonderfully kind vet what he knew and hoped we’d choose to do.

They wheeled Puppen into a private room. We spoke to her soothingly and she whined with each word while desperately staving off yet another racking seizure. Her whines seemed far away and sadly plaintive. The vet gave us a merciful yet heartrending ten minutes or so with her.

Our words to her were of sorrow and regret that we couldn’t help her live and would miss her terribly.

Merciful release

As I watched the overdose of pentobarbital run from the plunger and into Puppen, she breathed deeply several times in a way that I can only describe as a peaceful letting go of relief. When her heart stopped forever, we sobbed in each others’ arms while the vet verified that it was done.

They wrapped her in a sheet and took an ink paw print. I carried her out to the truck through tears. We would bury her in a grove of cedars on the ranch, so that our little Jacky could join her at some point.

As I carried Puppen down the drive to the cedar grove. I cradled her little head against my neck. Through sobs, I told her I was sorry I couldn’t save my little girl. My wife braced me as we stumbled to her resting place. We’d picked her together and brought her home nearly six years before and now we were letting her go so cruelly early.

It seemed surreal and impossible that she was gone. How could such an athletic, intelligent, energetic, loving, obedient, beautiful little dog get so sick so fast? The disbelief and grief hit us like a freight train.

From sadness to fondness

Today is a week since our world was rocked. We’ve cried together and laughed with recollection of Puppen’s short, dreamy life as a ranch dog. We see her everywhere here. Somehow the memory of a little 16-inch dog casts a giant shadow everywhere we look and on our hearts.

We know time will heal us, and we’ll think of her with smiles and sadness, and later with fondness and little stabs of happiness.

Meanwhile, God is using Puppen and our love for her to tenderize our hearts toward each other and toward others. There’s nothing more clarifying than the life-color-draining grief of losing a love—even one for a dog.

My wife says the cedar grove where we buried Puppen reminds her of the Cedars of Lebanon, the Old Testament stronghold of a living, loving Lord. She says she feels like God is guarding Puppen even as he guards her heart.

Learning to truly love

I’m learning to love the one who made Puppen and who loves her more deeply than I ever could. Jesus wept for Mary and Martha as they grieved the loss of their brother, Lazarus. He wept even though he knew that day he would raise him from the dead. This is the sign of the ultimate loving and knowing heart.

I like to think that we’ll see Puppen again when God makes all things new. When he heals this broken world and knits the bones and flesh of our little pupdawg back together with a word of command and perfect love for us and his creatures.

Someday, there will be no more tears or pain or fear or seizures or heartbreak. I long for that day with a newly-softened heart that God used my little girl, Puppen, to break, so he could heal.

If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em. How to avoid personal and political responsibility in the age of Trump.

suing

I’m a courtroom junkie. I watched hours of the “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius trial and have been known to frequent the gallery of our county courthouse. I guess you could call me a legal barfly … get it? Legal … bar … fly … on the wall? Stretch.

So when I read that the Democratic National Committee is suing Russian hackers, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Trump campaign, and anyone else they hold responsible for their 2016 presidential election loss, I perked right up.

After all, it’s not everyday one of our political parties sues the Russians.

And what’s really interesting is that this impressive legal maneuver made news on the same day the DNC’s losing candidate’s election-night lament came to light. Hillary Clinton’s alleged words when told she’d lost:

“I knew it. I knew this would happen to me. They were never going to let me be president.”

The evil they

Who are they?  Wait, let me guess: men? White men? Members of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy? The Russians? WikiLeaks? The basket of deplorables? The keepers of the glass ceiling? All of the above?

While her party blames the world for her loss, Clinton blames everyone but herself. Let’s look reality right in the face and get real, Hillary. You lost to one of the worst (and surprising) presidential candidates in our history because of you.

The truth is that you were a bad candidate. You’re unlikable because you appear arrogant, calculating, cold, entitled and dishonest—many of the attributes voters loathe in politicians.  Stop blaming others. They did not fail to generate a solid ground game in several key states.

They did not pay more attention to a thirty-something social media and algorithm guru (campaign manager Robby Mook) than to your husband and two-term president who always knew how to connect with voters.

I know—you’re not Bill. You don’t have his charisma. But you do have smarts, determination and grit. Show a little character and take responsibility for your loss. You tried so very hard, but maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

But don’t try again. America doesn’t like a loser—especially a whiny one.

DNC vs. The World

Speaking of whiny, by suing everyone else for their mistakes and misdeeds, the DNC is taking things to a whole new, hypocritical level. First they cheated Bernie Sanders and his supporters—many of whom were fresh, young voters—by conspiring against the coot and indulging the diva.

Then they failed to safeguard against one of the most basic cybersecurity scams: phishing to gain access to someone’s email account.

Instead of preventing John Podesta (Clinton’s campaign chairman) from falling for this trick, their IT department verified the message as “legitimate.” Legitimate? With a sender email address of reply@accounts.googlemail.com?

And now they’re suing Russian hackers. They should be suing their former IT head. Or themselves … for incompetence and favoritism.

Why go after WikiLeaks? All they did was publish your damning emails; they didn’t create them. Why shoot the messenger when Debbie Wasserman Shultz and associates and several Clinton campaign officials are the ones who wrote and sent the messages?

This is like the Mob suing the FBI for wiretapping them. Or Trump suing Access Hollywood for recording his bragging about groping women.

As I’ve written before, if the Russians and WikiLeaks interfered with our election by hacking DNC servers and exposing the dastardly denigration of Bernie Sanders, please, Russkies and Julian Assange, keep interfering.

If election interference exposes the truth—or as the press likes to say—what we “need to know,” by all means, Russian “Fancy Bear” hackers, hack away. Teach us silly Americans to secure our servers and email accounts. We relish challenges and relations were kinda boring post Cold War.

It’s always about politics

DNC chair Tom Perez defends the lawsuit as “not partisan, but patriotic.” Critics, many in his own party, think it’s “ill-timed” because of the ongoing Mueller investigation.

Bad timing or no, the DNC can’t afford lawsuits anyway. Despite their financial woes, Perez says his party “can’t afford not to” pursue the lawsuit.

“It’s hard to put a price tag on preserving democracy,” he said. I’d say it should be impossible—democracy is priceless and should never be for sale, which begs the question: Why did the DNC pay Fusion GPS to subvert it?

Here’s an idea for preserving democracy, Mr. Perez: Rather than spend your constituents’ money on silly grandstanding lawsuits,

Secure your servers and email passwords.

Give your primary candidates a fair shake, so cream candidates can rise to the top and secure your nomination honestly and effectively.

Don’t engage in kingmaking—no one deserves the presidency—no matter how long he or she has waited to be crowned.

And above all, when you screw up and your candidate loses, take responsibility for your mistakes, make changes, and go get ’em the next time.

This goes for you, too, Hillary. But if you ever gain a smidgen of self-awareness, there won’t be a next time. Nor should there.