Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bare Branches

The horizon off beyond the hills is gray
and dark and gives me chills. A sign
no less of a future message. A fortune
cookie's silent vestige. Overnight the
World has changed. Winter's cold
and loves estranged. The dog lays
quiet on the floor. Enlightened hearts
fly here no more. Time will tell what
is in store. Spring's rebirth is heretofore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Matter of Hate

I have been betrayed a time or two in life. I have been the victim of hatred, for no apparent reason - which has cost me dearly. When people wield their power as an extension of hatred, irreparable injury follows. But despite my experiences, I'm not sure I actually "hate" anyone. I assume that people who walk around that way will eventually get what's coming to them. That being said, this past October, a couple of married cop pals of mine became involved in a squabble with their 19 year old daughter - troubled, wrecked her car twice, sexually irresponsible - maybe - normal crazy kid stuff. And when she was asked to leave the house, and her paid for cell phone was commandeered, it became a full on squabble - daughter throwing a pot of macaroni and cheese at her dad. Dad then racing upstairs to pack her bags, there was screaming, yelling, then pushing and shoving. You know, these things do happen in normal families. None the less, another daughter called the cops and this family matter became a matter for the state. It probably should never have amounted to anything had the matter of "hate" not entered the picture. Making the best out of bad situations is what real cops should always strive for. That's not what transpired in this case.

Dad is retired, put in his time and went on his way. His wife is still a cop. He has always been a controversial fellow - both at work and in his personal life. But in all the years I've worked with him, never once has he been accused of abuse of power nor has he closed his hand into a fist on anyone - prisoner, colleague, family. I'd even go as far as to say he's a bit odd. Most of my friends have some order of spirituality. He is proudly void of that sort of thing - not huggy, not deeply loving in an expressive way - analytical and process oriented. And so, you never really know where you stand with him, whether you are part of the family of cop loyalty - something that should not be compromised - the live ever, die never, semper fidelis (Always Faithful) fraternal way. And it seems you do have to keep your most intimate secrets close to your vest or you will see them later in a book, or part of a conversation at a campfire, or hear it back from someone else. But not always. And he has a temper. When he gets pissed, you can see it boiling on the inside through the furrow of his brow and focus of his eyes.

Dad got arrested two days later for assault - two counts - and a protective order was issued. A protective order is meant to protect victims of family violence from retribution, further violence or psychological pressure to recant. As you know, chronic victims of family violence can often rationalize an ass beating as the price for love, security and what not. But the very foundation of family violence laws - the lions share of which if violated are rare and/or minor, or are a consequence of intoxication - is to discourage family violence in a home while also preserving the family. It's a complicated amalgam and easily lost sight of by fervent, officious or man hating cops - especially given the advent of liability. It is a duty none the less of the loftiest sort.

So this is clear to you, after the squabble, the husband and wife lived blissfully together for three days. There was no evidence of continued violence, retribution etc. On the third day, Dad was arrested and a protective order issued. The protective order stipulated that he could not contact his wife at home or work, could not go home, could not go to her business, could not go to his business - for sixty one (61) days. The wife, who never was a victim at all, who drafted and signed an affidavit claiming the same, visited with the judge who issued the order. And under the authority of the law, the protective order was modified to exclude her - for she was never a victim, nor was there probable cause to suggest so, nor any evidence whatsoever to suggest that there was a risk of further violence. The judge modified the order, applying the protections to the daughter alone. They went home and again lived blissfully together without incident.

Now back at the office, the Police Department and Sheriff's Department alike, cops started running their mouths, stirring the pot, and making shit up. And before you knew it, people were saying that the wife was a classic victim of family violence in denial, and that her husband had been repeatedly kicking her ass. I even got a phone call from an Assistant Chief making that very claim. Alas - there has never been any evidence to support that notion at all. In fact, witnesses to the squabble which generated this intervention indicated in statements that "never" has anything like that happened, "ever".

Fervent, unprofessionally outraged, personally involved - in hearing that the protective order had been lawfully modified, the Sheriff's Office personnel in command of this case re-applied for the protective order, re-applying restrictions to the wife - who had already stipulated in a statement that she was not a victim, was not assaulted, had never been assaulted, and was not in fear of further violence. And officious and personally driven as they were, no one bothered to pass on the change of order to the family at all. And so for the next twelve days, they lived together blissfully, without incident, or violence, or retribution, or chaos - not knowing that the judge had re-issued the order.

I am all throughout this, minding my own business. I have my annual Halloween party, the husband and wife come, I take pictures of the fun and frivolity and then post them on my facebook page. It seemed that the "couple" even engaged in coitus, perhaps, in the midst of it all. That fact may be repugnant to you more puritan and lonely types, but this house and my parties have often led to some sort of intimate exchange. Even one of our Sergeants attributed the production of his son to one of my Christmas parties. I will say that the most notable incident was Keri Atkins and Mike Impson going at it in the phone booth outside in the yard. Someone has pictures of that. Anyhow - after the Halloween pictures were posted, more San Marcos cops took it upon themselves to express their alarm that the "Ass Beating Victim" was hanging out with her "Aggressor". And so finally, after everyone made their flurry of phone calls intervening where they had no business, finally, the family gets a phone call from the judge reminding them that the protective order had been re-issued.

Needless to say, having now lived together blissfully for fourteen days and having fun at a Halloween party, the family was again separated from each other by a seemingly lawful order.
With nowhere to go, dad shows up on my porch looking for a place to stay. And I, being of sound mind and character thought nothing of opening my door and my house to him. He was my brother, my colleague, my friend for many, many years - although we often disagreed. So too was I on the receiving end a time or two of his angry eyes.

In the end, a special prosecutor was appointed to examine and manage this case. Independent and uninfluenced by the "wave" of hatred and insider trading that plagued this relatively minor incident, the protective order was recalled and the charges dismissed. Justice prevailed because someone without an axe to grind, who with a clear conscience sought to allow the facts to drive this case rather than the underlying dogma, unresolved issues and plane old "Hatred" that has no place in the enforcement and application of law. This is especially so from Law Enforcement officers. There are a few cops who ran their mouth in this case, unsolicited, that helped to make a bad situation worse and in doing so, violated their own code of ethics.

But I digress. This commentary is about hatred and the things it drives weak men to do. Just the day before yesterday, I ran into a prominent San Marcos cop. I've known him since he was fifteen. He took the time to laugh at me with a distasteful eye, cajoling me that a lot of cops had changed their opinion of me for allowing "Dad" to stay at my house. He went on of course in his conversation for a while, ending it with, "it's really none of my business". I, of course, pointed out that it seemed he was making it his business. His wife smiled and rolled her eyes. I told him quietly that I did for "Dad" the same thing I would do for him should he every need fraternal support or assistance. He replied that he would never get himself into that position. I said, "Lucky You."

While I'd taken on a temporary housemate, I included him in my circle of friends and we'd go bowling on Monday nights. The first couple of times there were a few tense exchanges between dad and Richie Prado who worked security at the bowling alley. Something about the Judge, his aunt, doing the wrong thing. Anyhow - I discovered that Barry - son of owner of bowling alley - also hates Dad. And then last night for the first time ever, I got charged for bowling not because I had worn out my welcome, but because I was in the company of dad. How odd. I asked why he hated him so much. He said that he always bitched about the prices and that once, he saw him take a cup from the stack of cups at the snack counter without offering to pay for it. Wow. I figured that he and the security cops had probably exchanged intel.

And so today, I am thoughtful of hatred. It's a debilitating waste of emotional commitment. So too have I wondered what it is about "Dad" that has made him such a lightning rod for disdain.
If you looked purely at the things he's accomplished in his lifetime, what he has acquired in material wealth, raising four kids from two families, and so much more - it seems like something that most people would admire. I'm sorry - I just don't understand why people who have not been around him for years are still taking such pleasure in wielding their positions of authority with such callous disregard for common sense and ethical fortitude. Time will tell whether what goes around will come around or not. It's just one of those things that would have never happened back in the day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Question of Moral Guidance

A few years ago I remember listening to an NPR lecture that included clergy from different religious entities. The question at hand was the morality of lying. The circumstance being discussed was whether or not President Clinton could morally justify lying about Monica Lewinsky. The consensus at the time seemed to suggest that he was right to lie and that lying is not by itself a demonstration of moral turpitude. They pointed out that a husband would be correct to lie about an infidelity if the lie was intended to save the marriage and the future security of parenting of children. And then certainly, to save the country from the embarrassment of his affair, both the country and the lofty demeanor of the Presidency, not to mention the personal nature of the incident and its impact on his own family. As you know, it was not to be, and the whole ugly affair became the matter of a semen stain for all to see.

I have of course rambled uselessly - but I find myself with a moral dilemma. Kodak Tri X-Pan Deal, aka: Kodak is my black Labrador retriever. She is nearly fifteen years old. A vet tech here at my recent Halloween party suggested that she was indeed circling the drain - so to speak. I have watched her slow but methodical approach toward the end of her life. It was first her hearing that seemed to diminish - and then here mobility and eyesight. Certainly she has put on weight. And then her difficulty at getting up stairs or into the car - choosing the wait for assistance rather than endeavor it herself. And now - three months before her fifteenth birthday, she has had a few seizures, has a few tumors on board, and bitches about going up and down the stairs. This morning she slid down the stairs on her chest - innovative yes - but slightly pathetic. She still looks at you with those same puppy dog eyes, recognizes you, and gets excited where there is Pizza in the house. But she also gets confused, seemingly forgetting that you are sitting right next to her and she barking incessantly as if she has been left alone in a room or on the porch by herself. If you reach your foot out and touch her, she is startled, turns, and then looks - with this dorky smirk as if she oops..realized that she was being stupid. But recently, she has started peeing in the house, on the floor, on carpets and more.

I remember visiting my grandmother when I was a kid - she surviving a stroke in a nursing home - pickled with Phenobarbital. I asked the nurse if she was still able to dream, for certainly that would have been the limit of her existence. I recognize the similar state arriving for Kodak - and certainly would wish for her to die quietly in her sleep during the night. I fear that this will not be the case and that I will be forced to examine an entire host of facts in determining if her quality of life is such that she should be put down - a decision I do not relish.

And so today, I have arrived on the cusp of the fast approaching moment when I must make such an examination. It is a circumstance that I have not yet personally explored as an adult. She has been a faithful and loyal companion. Will I be betraying her when she sinks into darkness with euthanasia - or will it free her to sleep forever. I just don't know.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Skinning Fox

Moon's Shadow Cast

It seems I have arrived at a point in life where I wake consistently
about five minutes before my alarm goes off. Alex called two minutes
later to be sure I was really going to get out of bed. I'd laid my
clothes out the night before and had found my
CTMC scrubs to wear
underneath everything else. I started the coffee as I loaded the car.
As one good cup percolated, out the door I went. Alex met me at the
gate at about 5:35. The four wheeler wasn't liking the cold weather
but blessed us with a ride into the back forty. The Moon's faint
shadows cast - the wake of the wind, silent and distant, then racing
overhead, through the tree tops and tossing the leaves. Numb fingers
and toes - Rosie cheeks -
hoodies pulled taut. The feeder swinging
the corn at sunrise and we wait. Bird wings ripple the air overhead -
brief, couple, doves, low flying by. An owl swoops in silhouetted sky.
The sculpted winter clouds move quickly against the trees -
creaking, cracking branches. The break of dawn's warm light high in
the clouds. Squirrel eating the corn. Cold dripping sniffling nose.

No deer today. But Alex spied a fox on the road - road kill -- and in
practice made perfect, skinned to tan before the lunch hour. Dang -
have to drag the plants in - it's gonna freeze hard. Fox fritters with
chipotle salsa - our boutique breakfast taco.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poo Steam

Cold foggy morning laying in its bed.
Silence still resting its weary head.
Restless dogs are at the ready.
The first footsteps are hardly steady.

This old house is frozen too.
A sweater, yes for me and you.
Water droplets drip outside
Flowers glisten diamond eyed

The sun casts sideways through the house
Shaddows long - a golden dowse
Creeking wood with every stair
Toenails race from here the there.

Ahh – the morning times fine warm convection.
Not this time a sweet confection.
Something steamy, warm and wet.
A breakfast treat left by my pet.

Too familiar to be a dream.
Fresh as toast with rising steam.
So keen a nose when they wiff and smell.
All the contents they could tell.

For me it’s just an awful waking.
Forsaking – a chance for picture taking.
But unlike last time I did not step
Into the morning breakfast “Crepe.”

And as the shadows crawl the wall
I know the day will all in all
Be great and warm and another miracle
A blessing each and often satirical.

Carl Deal

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Erik Pettit

These pictures are amazing Carl, I am glad that you came to the unicycle football game. I hope that you enjoyed being a witness to the wonderfully weird concoction that we call a sport here in the beautiful town of San Marcos. I enjoyed being a part of your party on All Hallows Eve, and so did my girlfriend and my goofy friends and family whom you welcomed with open arms And I know that I don't have to tell you just how good the party really was due to the surprise that you and Alexey walked in on in the middle of that night. haha So from getting to know you for the short, yet long time that you have been in Alexey's life and now mine I can tell that you are a pretty damn good guy And I would like to Thank you for all the things big and small that you have done for me.