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NASA is reporting this morning that their dead and floundering satellite has burned up in the atmosphere, its ashes (and chunks) scattered safely in the Pacific. We can all rest assured that we will not be killed by falling debris from this particular space trash. As per my column this week on this topic, I can now untether myself from the ground rod, take off my tin foil skull cap and wait for the lottery winnings to pour in.

For all-is-almost-clear news: I called the call-before-you-dig 811 number to have all the underground utilities marked, and I totally got slammed by customer service rep Andy. I didn’t have the coordinates for my property to pinpoint our place on the map for the crews to find us, so Andy was trying to locate us on Google Earth or some other satellite picture site. Ol’ Andy was rattling off some addresses and landmarks, and I was directing him to go east or west along Hwy 2. Then Andy said (and this is a direct quote, though I can’t adequately convey the guy’s tone in writing): “What do you have on your property? It’s a mess.”

You can’t imagine how mad I get at my parents sometimes for instilling in me the knee-jerk reaction to be polite. Between that trained response and my inherent hypershyness, my throat chokes up on what I want to say in situations like this, and I lamely stutter some innocuous response.

What I said to Andy: “Well, it used to be a salvage yard, but we’re getting it cleaned up.”

What my brain was telling him: “What the fuck, dude? Did you learn that in customer relations class, or are you just naturally that rude? Gimme my damn ticket number, then shut your pie hole.”

The little automated message at the beginning of our phone call said that my call would be recorded. So my fervent hope is that Andy ends up being the bad example in a future customer service exercise. Dork.

Yes, I’m defensive and petty. My property might be messy, but it’s my mess, my white trash estate, my empire, and I will not stand by and let some stranger besmirch it.

I will defend its honor at pam[at]


You just never know what you’re capable of until your back is against the wall, the chips are down and … I’m out of cliches.

(BTW, my unhelpful spell checker doesn’t recognize “cliche.” It keeps saying “do you mean ‘chicle’?” Which is, according to my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate, a type of gum used in chewing gum … and, omg, now we know where the name Chiclets comes from. My other word option is “cloche,” which the dictionary says is a transparent plant cover to protect from frost. Who knew it had a name other than clear plastic thingy? No, dear spell checker, neither option is viable, but if you could tell me how to put that pretentious French accent mark on the word I do want, that would be useful. kthnx.)

Meanwhile, back to the mundane part of my story. I needed to move where I feed horses this winter because some of my hay is dusty from the alfalfa leaves crumbling when it was baled, and I wanted to be near a water source in case I had to drag a hose out and water the hay a bit. However, this meant feeding two of the horses at a tight spot in their pen where I had an electric fence around this scraggly old willow tree. This would not do — horses being horses and prone to crabbing about who has the best bite of hay or the nicest place to stand or if somebody’s looking at someone else funny or getting their cooties on somebody else. Horses are like that.

I didn’t want the horses to get into this bind. Plus, the new attitude in the humans around here as we work to clean up the place is: screw it, get rid of it.

So after 21 years of this pitiful tree being in the way in the horse pen and despite my love of all things tree out here on the prairie, I ripped the poor sucker out of the ground.

I know, right? It was older than me, like a little grandmother of trees, and I just went for the throat. Unconscionable. I still can’t believe I did it. I am a horrible person, an evil force of destruction.

It’s been 10 days, and I still feel guilty. I wrote an homage to the dearly departed tree, had it published out in the world, and then put it in the Write On folder linked at the top of this page. It didn’t really make me feel better. I’m guessing it didn’t make little willow tree feel any more alive either.

Is there a twelv-step program for the chronically guilty? at: pam(at)

This has been a really hectic week, and, yes, that’s totally an excuse for ditching you, dear Readers.

I feel like I should be sitting in a hot tub, drinking beer and hitting some pot while I write a recounting of this week.

Going into last weekend, weather prognosticators were using words like “snow,” “high wind,” “freezing cold,” “wind chill,” “drifting” and “below zero.” I was using words like “huh?” and “what the hell.” And I was scrambling to get the last-minute winter prep done.

Sunday was probably my crowning glory when it took me all day to build a wooden box. In my defense, it required using reclaimed creosote-treated lumber, figuring complex angles, compensating for layers and overlaps of different materials, and scalloping the edge with a protractor and a jigsaw to fit lumber and corrugated roofing butted up to corrugated siding. Still … All. Day. Oi.

And then there was going out at dark to help gut, drag and hang Niece the Shootist’s honkin’ big 5×6 buck that she bagged at dusk. Dang if that child didn’t do an awesome job of keeping her cool and pitching in. I was just disappointed that I didn’t get to use my horse to haul the thing out. Sure, it might’ve been a rodeo, but how does that detract from the fun? Besides, I was betting that she’d be awesome, too. Whatever. It was just me and the niece dragging 180 lbs of carcass through the brush. We’re stout. And useful. We had it covered.

Then the winter storm hit. There was blowing and rain until there was snow and drifting and vehicles sliding into the ditches and coming to rest against poles. Luckily, no one was hurt badly and none of it involved me. I had more winter prep to do because we weren’t as ready as we thought. And, of course, this work had to be done bundled into layers of warm and fluffy clothing. I looked like the love child of Carhartt Inc. and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man.

Random View: The temperature reading from last night.

There will be more of what you see in that picture, only more brrr-ish, this week — that is technically the end of autumn.

Then we had a family tragedy. So there was that.

I tried to make sticky buns for people who might want comfort food to munch on, but when the recipe calls for “cook & serve” pudding mix, you can’t substitute instant. Call me a liar and test my outcome if you must, but I’m telling you, the results are not the same. I’m not saying it’s unpalatable, I’m just saying you don’t want to share the results in public. You stop at the local bread shop to get a loaf of gourmet bread for the munching instead. I’m resourceful in a crisis.

And riddled throughout the week was the need to make an inordinate number of phone calls to strangers, and regular Readers know how I love me some interaction with people who don’t know how to deal with the social challenged. It’s hard enough for people who do know me to get through a conversation with me without saying, “huh?” and “what the hell.”

As if that wasn’t enough with the phone awkwardness, we received two inordinately out-of-left-field-type calls that, frankly, have the potential to be life-altering.

I know that’s cryptic, and I wouldn’t mention the calls like a tease without the full-frontal reveal, except I really wanted to say that it’s odd how two totally unrelated calls on separately monumental things just came in the same week, an already full week, making me say, “huh?” and “what the hell.” And they consumed more time and energy, created more angst. Like I didn’t have enough to keep me awake at night.

Life is so totally weird sometimes, it can make me look normal.

Now I just want to get on with the future, get this party started.

I say: Damn the autumn, full winter ahead at: pam(at)

I don’t know.

I had a personal to-do last Friday at work when the publisher told me that he couldn’t allow my column to run. I was all, like, huh? Looking like a deer in the headlights. B-b-bu-but why? (Knowing full-well why, but disagreeing and still feeling a little trepidatious … even though my dictionary says that isn’t a word.)

Boss man invited me into his office to let me try to convince him otherwise. Yeah, we have a history of me arguing points, and yeah, of course I jumped at the opportunity. He’d tipped his hand by telling me I had a chance to convince him. I totally knew he wanted me to talk him out of it.

So what was the big deal about? Prostitution.

His argument? Which he did preface with, “I think you’re funny, and I’m not offended personally, but …” 1) Apparently prostitution isn’t a topic fit for normal family entertainment, and 2) He’s new to the area and small towns in rural states in general so worried that the surprising local election wins of ultra-conservative, right-wing candidates indicated that area folks would not be receptive to said topic. And, though he never did say specifically during our conversation, I think he was worried as much or more about the way in which I expressed views on the topic as he was about said topic itself.

But I countered with 1) It’s not like I’m advocating prostitution [True, but still …]. OK, fine, there’s 2) My regular readers will not be shocked by this article … probably. [But I’m not worried about your regular readers, and you’ve never written a column like this before]. Oh but, 3) I did write about the moose poop guy [Moose poop is nothing like this.] doing everything under the sun I could to all but say “shit.” And there was the drunken breastfeeding woman [Breastfeeding’s nothing—] in which I said: “How drunk do you have to be to feed a breast?” [ …] “Hope she didn’t use a fork.” [ … (his face clearly indicated that he wanted a do-over on OKing that one.] But still [I don’t know, I’m not convinced. I don’t want to have to be answering a bunch of angry letters … .] so 4) We printed three or four news articles in the regular part of the paper about the brouhaha over proposed changes to the sex-ed program in Helena that used a lot more graphic and disconcerting language than I used. Phrases like “gay love,” “oral sex,” “vagina,” “anal penetration” … . At which point he relented, probably just to make me shut up.

Nevertheless, props to the boss for ending with a chuckle and saying: “But if I get any angry letters, you’re writing the replies.”

So then I worried all weekend that someone was going to call in or write a complaint. Not that I mind so much that someone complains, I just really didn’t want to ruin my office cred. It would totally count against me in any future arguments. “Yeah,” he’d say, “but remember how wrong you were about the prostitution?” And that would be the end of the discussion. It was nerve-wracking.

I wanted to share the column here, but also wanted to give it a true test in the public without skewing opinion with this backstory, so held it until now. The column hasn’t generated a complaint so far, though this blog entry will probably cause some ripple in the cosmic pool of irony, inspiring a letter of complaint tomorrow. If it happens, I guess I’ll follow through with my plan: Argue to have the complaint printed on the opinion page to see if it causes any other reactions. No that’s not an evil plan, I’m just fascinated by the newspaper-community interaction process.

In the meantime, you can find the actual column word-for-word via the “Write On” page link at the top of this page. (And I emphasize TOP! for those of you who are like my husband and can’t grasp my words either through lack of understanding, attention, or belief that one must use the link at the TOP! not the one on the left side.)

FTB, For the Blog! at pam(at)

It made John laugh, and generally that’s good enough for me so go on over to the “Write On” page for a little Halloween candy gram from me to you.

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat at: pam(at)

Remember our friend Amy Bishop, our scary gun-toting, murdering Alabama college instructor friend who went on a rare women’s shooting rampage and killed three colleagues? It seems that the cops have revisited the mysterious 1986 shooting death of her 18-year-old brother and all fingers are pointing to Bishop, in the family home, with the shotgun. Evidence for the case comes complete with a copy of an article, hanging on the wall in Bishop’s childhood bedroom, of the shooting death of actor Patrick Duffy’s parents — the description of which sounds remarkably like the scene of Bishop’s brother’s death. Imagine if you will that Amy Bishop is your mother. Creepy, creepy, creepiness.

Then there’s the case of Mexican bullfighter Christian Hernandez who, at the beginning of his bullfight match, swirled his cape once in front of the bull, dropped it and ran from the arena. He admitted in an interview with The Associated Press that maybe he wasn’t cut out for bullfighting saying, “I didn’t have the ability, I didn’t have the balls, this is not my thing.”

I couldn’t resist writing about him, so see it all on the Write On page. And forgive me for kicking the guy while he’s down.

And if you want a bizarrely heartwarming tear-jerker of a news story, read about this 84-year-old Australian guy who has, for several years, been quietly working to talk people down off the ledge — literally, because his house is right next to a popular launch pad for people determined to jump to their death. It sounds grim, but I swear it’s a nice story.

Bring a tissue at pam(at)

A few weeks ago, I thought of the “The Last Samurai” when the young Samurai, Nobutada, tells the Tom Cruise character, “Too many mind … mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind enemy — too many mind.”

I’m simple folk. I can’t think on too many things in my brain at one time. I start doing things like having to shampoo and condition my hair two maybe three times in one showering because I can’t remember if I did it. So literally, maybe I just did each once, but I don’t have a clue what the truth is. I turn on the oven to get the ribs cooked in the morning before the sun heats the house, and I forget to put the ribs in the oven, and it remains thusly until John discovers my blunder. And I do some other thing like those things and forget what it was.

Then I become convinced that I should be very very scared that I have too many mind … and none of them are worth a damn.

Reminds me of the good ol’ days, the stressed out days, the very days that thoughts of which give me hives. I think that in those days I short circuited something important. Maybe it was like an over-mind that linked all the other minds into a cohesive unit, like a computer network server of the brain. Now every once in a while the personal computer minds each get their shit together enough to think their own thought, but it doesn’t get fit into a larger scheme of things because the server brain is fried. Fuh-ried, I tell you. Nearly worthless at this point. Too compound the problem, some of the stand alone mind units are, frankly, a little short on power, memory and storage capacity so those thoughts get a little frazzled around the edges.

Oy, whatever, I put last week’s column on my “Write On” page. I don’t know if it will be in contention for next year’s MNA awards or not — since I added the word naive to it before emailing it to work, but I didn’t proof read that page, so I didn’t remember to double check the spelling. So it went to press as “niave.” So now I’m all Ugh-o-mania.

Too many mind, not enough thought at: pam(at)

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