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Archive for September, 2009

Introduction to Bobbie, Joseph and Travis

Introduction to Bobbie, Joseph and Travis
This is the first of many entries to my new blog site. First of all, I am a recent journalism graduate from New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces, New Mexico! (Yes, New Mexico is part of the U.S., a fact of which some people are unaware.) I ran face-first into this realization when I lived overseas in Aschaffenburg, W. Germany 20-some years ago. Some of my then-husband’s co-workers in the First Battalion, Third Infantry Division looked in wonder at us, and asked why we spoke such perfect English. Next was the inevitable question about money (U.S. or Mexican), then drinking the water.

After we moved back to Las Cruces, I worked as a substitute teacher, cashier, office manager, and raised my first son, who is now 23 years old. Joseph is currently a senior at NMSU, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with a supplemental math major and a minor in military science. He is also in Army ROTC, the New Mexico Army National Guard (elements of his unit have just departed New Mexico for training and an eventual deployment overseas to Iraq). He is also a member of two guitar groups — Trio los Guapos, which means the Three Handsome Ones, and Roma. Joseph and Mike Stevens comprise Roma. This group plays Gypsy jazz, Gypsy fusion, rumbas and flamenco music. Mike and Joseph play most Saturday nights at the Azul Lounge in the Hotel Encanto here in Las Cruces. If you are here in Las Cruces, stop by! They are great!

My youngest son, Travis, is 16 and a junior at Las Cruces High School, home of the ‘Dawgs. He, like his big brother, is highly gifted and intelligent. He is a member of the LCHS Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Mariachi Diamante de Las Cruces High School, and out of school, a member of Mariachi Espuelas de Cobre (Copper Spurs). He will begin to practice with Espuelas de Plata (Silver) when he comes back to Las Cruces in August. Espuelas de Cobre is the apprentice group for Espuelas de Plata. Travis plays a wicked violin, some guitar, and has taught himself some basic piano. He also wants to learn trumpet! His probable majors in college are music (obviously) and/or preveterinary medicine.

As for me, I am currently working at NMSU in the Office of the Registrar. While I am working there, I am also looking for permanent employment in the journalism field, thus, this blog.

As I wrote earlier, I graduated from NMSU in December, 2006 with my B,A, in Journalism and Mass Communications. I am a single mom of two hyper-busy young men. I used to be a social worker for the state of New Mexico. I suffered burn out and left that field. I will always love social work and I applaud the efforts that every dedicated social worker makes every day to facilitate change in the lives of their clients/families.

My plans for this blog site are to create entries like today’s, comment on everyday news events, such as the Ohio mom who has been missing for almost two weeks. I will also upload some of my earlier writings, such as stories I wrote for assignments, as well as new creations.

I hope the writings on my blog will interest all who enter and read; I also look forward to your comments. As I become more technologically proficient, I will also upload photos. They will be photos of my family and me, and content related to the topic I am writing about.

For now, have a great weekend, don’t overdo, and I  will see you again!


Why You Don’t Mix Cats and Puppies

Why You Don’t Mix Cats and Puppies
As I was getting close to finishing yesterday’s blog, my oldest son called to ask a favor. As you read more of these blogs, you will get to know my sons. Both have strong ideas of right and wrong, and want to help their friends out. Joseph agreed to house a friend’s two dogs for a week while his friend was in L.A. for a wedding. The dogs are chihuahuas, small and adorable, to Joseph and me. NOT to the resident king and queen feline Rulers of the Household! The dogs, Pink and Bear, came running into the front door. Krab, our one year old Black Egyptian Princess, immediately ran out of the room, expanding as she flew by. (I’m not kidding!) Her tail grew to twice its usual dimensions and her body did the same. Actually, it was her fur, and that was the instinctive reaction to a sudden, unwanted intruder. Boo-Bear, our usual “little gentleman”, heard the commotion and had a very similar reaction.

Once the dogs were inside, we decided to try blocking the bottom of the stairs with the child safety gate. That didn’t work, because the dogs could squeeze through the slats of the gate, so I took some box tops and rested them against the gate. When I got back home, the dogs had managed to get into the living room. What shocked me was that they were still alive, since they were in the same two rooms as the cats.

My usual sleeping arrangements were quickly re-thought. Instead of Boo spending the night in Travis’ room alone, he was there with Krab until they both cried to be let out. The dogs slept with me — literally! They snugged up to my side all night long, and for a while, I had Pink very firmly lodged against my neck and chin. This would have been fine if it had not been so hot.

Boo usually stays alone in Travis’ room because he tends to overdo the playing with Krab, and he bites her, thinking he is playing. Krab usually stays alone downstairs during the night, and both cats have access to litter boxes as they need them.

When I got up, it was earlier than usual for a Sunday morning, because I thought it would take longer than it did to prepare Travis’ room for the dogs to stay in. I took some old shower curtains I had stored away and opened them up on the bed and open floor area. This was a good thing, because as soon as the dogs came into the room on the shower curtain, one piddled. I then added a large wad of paper towels and clorox wipes to the “it will happen” preparations, and brought up their bowls of food and water.

After Mass, I played with the dogs for a while (and cleaned up some more piddle and a couple of “presents” they had left behind).

Now to the part where cats and puppies don’t mix: the resident king and queen felines “own the house”. We are allowed to reside there only to serve their creature comforts and clean out the litter boxes. Add two cute puppies to the mix and the resident felines become extremely possessive. Boo has resumed “marking” my lower legs as he winds around them, “caressing” me with his fur. I wound up separating cats and dogs all evening long, to the point where cat claws got sunk into my neck, shoulder and the back of my arm. As I was preparing my choir music, I put my hand into cat and dog faces to keep them well apart from each other. I stuck my finger into two cats’ faces to warn them to retract their claws (they did). When the cats would (very cautiously) slink by, the dogs would growl and bark (Pink barked). Boo hissed. Krab also hissed.

For the next week (and hopefully, no longer), the cats will not have their usual access to Travis’ bedroom; the dogs will not leave Travis’ room unless it is to spend the night in my room. (I dread the thought of being at work, and the dogs barking with no human warning to stop.)

The reason Joseph could not keep the dogs at his apartment was that his landlord became angry that he allowed the dogs to stay in a “no pets allowed” unit, and threatened to evict Joseph. In order to keep him from being kicked out, and the dogs not having a safe place to stay, I agreed to house them for the week.

Well, Pink has started to bark and Bear is crying. I have to go play with them, calm them, fill the water bowl and clean up their accidents.

Here’s hoping I keep what’s left of my sanity! Have a great week!

Death in a Far Away Community

Death in a Far Away Community
My entry today concerns the untimely, tragic death of Jessie Davis, the woman who disappeared from her home two weeks ago.

Davis, who was pregnant with her second child, a girl she had already named Chloe, was found dead this weekend, leaving her two-year old son without his mommy.

Davis’ boyfriend, Bobby Joe Cutts, the father of both of her children, has been arrested in connection with her death. He had been considered a suspect almost from the beginning of the search for Davis.

In an interview on the “Today Show”, aired Monday morning, Cutts’ former girlfriend alluded to a long-term pattern of domestic violence perpetrated by Cutts. She said that one of the most recent incidents of violence was a phone call filled with threats against her.

Domestic violence is a scar on the face of American society. It tears lives apart — the lives of the victims, their families and friends.

As Cutts’ former girlfriend managed to escape, a Las Cruces woman also managed to escape with her six children. Stacy Gaugler broke free and learned about the dynamics of domestic violence from her counselors at La Casa, a shelter for the victims of domestic violence, which is located in Las Cruces. Gaugler made the decision that she would never again find herself in a violent relationship; she also decided to enroll at New Mexico State University, in the School of Social Work.

Gaugler graduated from NMSU with her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is closer to her goal of lobbying for stronger laws against domestic violence and for the protection of those most affected by this crime.

I will publish my interview with Gaugler in another post this week. It is a harrowing, frightening story, one that I hope makes many people think and take time to pause and say a quiet prayer for the souls of Jessie and Chloe Davis, as well as for the many unnamed victims.

May God hold Jessie and Chloe in His hands for eternity. God bless both of you and all victims of domestic violence.


More About Domestic Violence

More About Domestic Violence
I hope my entry today won’t leave you feeling down, but I’d like to illustrate what domestic violence is, and what it does.

First, it is not about “love” or “passion”. Domestic violence is a crime. It is also about the abuser gaining and keeping control over his or her partner. It is not always male abusing female; there are too many instances of females abusing male romantic partners.

The abuser resorts to various kinds of domestic violence in order to keep the abused partner in the relationship. The partner experiencing the abuse also finds they are losing control of various aspects of life, such as money, decisions, finding or keeping a job and contact with family members or friends.

The abuser uses violence to help him/herself feel better or more powerful. “If I keep him with me, I’m attractive and lovable. If I get all of the power in our relationship, I’m strong.”

The victim of domestic violence never knows when to expect their partner to become angry or violent. The outbursts are generally unpredictable. This does not stop the victim from trying to find the “key” to gaining the approval of the violent partner, and stopping the violence once and for all. “If I just get dinner on the table on time every night, or if I could just make the food exactly the way s/he likes it, s/he’ll love me and stay loving. If I say things in just the right tone, I won’t get hit or yelled at.”

The victim is blamed for everything — “If you had just not burned the potatoes, I wouldn’t have been ‘forced’ to throw them at you. If you had just gotten home from the store exactly when I told you, you wouldn’t have gotten your face smashed into the wall.”

At first the incidents of violence are infrequent. As the abuser gains more and more control, the incidents can become more frequent and more violent.

Domestic violence is not just about hitting the victim. Violence can also be forced sex or unwanted sexual practices. Threats to hurt a loved one, such as a child or a pet, are very effective. Frequent put-downs are another characteristic of violence. The abuser also works to isolate the abused partner from friends, co-workers and family members, telling the partner, “They just want to make you look bad or get you in trouble. They don’t care about you. They don’t love you like I do.” Domestic violence can also consist of the partner threatening to harm themselves, children in the relationship or other loved ones in order to maintain control. Abusers often keep “tabs” on their partners, calling at unpredictable times of the day to ensure their partner is at home “where s/he belongs, and not out on the town”. Abusers control the money, keeping the partner on a strict allowance. They stop by the partner’s place of employment, checking on them and trying to intimidate them. Abusers use emotional abuse, such as, “You’re so fat. You’re ugly. Nobody will love you. You’re stupid. You don’t know how to talk. You don’t know how to dress. Look at her! She’s so hot! How could I have ever loved you?”

Victims don’t have to stay victims; they can seek out help from trusted friends. They can make plans to get away; they can contact their local domestic violence shelter and get counseling to find out what domestic violence is, and how they have been victimized. Remember, the danger to an abused partner and any children in the relationship is highest at the time that partner is attempting to escape.

I will check back in with you tomorrow, and post an excerpt from Stacy’s story.

Please take care,


Stacy’s Story, Part One

Stacy’s Story, Part One
Stacy Gaugler is a petite woman. Her hair is chestnut brown, framing a beautiful, delicately-boned face. As she speaks, the memories of her past shadow her eyes like misty ghosts. She is casually dressed. Her eyes sweep the Subway restaurant frequently, checking the exits and people as they come in. She sits defensively.

Stacy is a survivor of domestic violence. She suffered abuse as a child, so she never knew that her adult relationships could be different. Sam’s * abuse propelled Stacy and her six children into La Casa, a domestic violence shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her stay helped her to rebuild her life and learn what domestic violence is. Stacy graduated from New Mexico State University’s School of Social Work program with her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work just over one month ago, on May 13, 2007. She completed her internship at La Casa, where she and her children were temporary residents.

Domestic violence is any kind of physical, emotional, mental or sexual attack that one partner in an intimate relationship commits upon the other partner in order to gain or keep control.

Stacy agreed to talk with me last September (2006) and tell me about her own experiences with a violent partner. She talked about one very frightening and painful event, which led to the loss of an unborn child. This was only one of the many violent episodes that marked her relationship with Sam. It would not be the episode that caused Stacy to escape her relationship, although it led to the deterioration of the relationship.

“We were living in Houston at the time. We lived across the apartment complex from some friends. I was six months pregnant with my fourth child. While we were at our friends’ house, we were discussing basketball. My team is the Phoenix Suns, and I said something. Sam gave me ‘the look’ and I shut up.

“We went home. He beat me bad. I was on the floor; he was kicking me on the head, in the stomach, on my back and legs. He pulled me by my hair from the living room to our bedroom. Afher a couple of hours of this, he passed out.

“The next day, while I was picking up my daughter at the bus stop, I started bleeding badly. I thought I was losing the baby.” She pauses and bites her lip.

Stacy seemed to need time to come back to the present, even though she said she was okay talking about her experiences with domestic violence.

“I kept bleeding and passing clots. I saved the clots, ’cause I didn’t know what the baby would look like at that stage. Sam took me to the hospital, and the doctor told me that I was far enough along that, if I started to lose the baby, I would have contractions. I went home and stayed in bed.

“Sam went to work the day after I went to the hospital. I got up and braided his hair, which was long back then, and I went back to bed because I was having more contractions. The contractions stopped. I got up and went to the bathroom. I lost the baby in the toilet. I called Sam. I put the baby in a Ziploc bag. Same came home and put his head on my knees, crying and saying he was sorry. I told him it wasn’t his fault.”

*Not Stacy’s former partner’s real name

I will complete Stacy’s story at a later time. I want to give you time to digest what happened to this young woman; I also want to give you time to regain your emotional equilibrium, because this is a very upsetting, graphic story.

Please be assured that Stacy is a very real, very strong woman, and has managed to raise all six of her children, while keeping them safe. She has taught them what she has learned.

One Way I Choose to Keep the Shreds of My Sanity

One Way I Choose to Relax and Keep the Shreds of My Sanity . . .
I am: a single parent of two young men; looking for a permanent, full time job in my professional field as I work full time in my temporary job; taking care of two possessive, jealous cats and two overly excitable dogs who piddle and poop everywhere; trying to build my Avon business; and trying to stay relatively sane.

How do I hang on to those precious, few shards of normality? I crochet, cross stitch or do beadwork. At the moment, I am about 1/3 of the way through an afghan for my younger son. It is constructed of two shades of red and two shades of blue (his school colors), in a crochet triple stitch. My older son likes the pattern so much that I will use two of the same colors and make him an afghan. I have christened the pattern “School Colors”.

I am also collecting skeins of yarn in colors that I don’t have and crocheting “corkscrew” hangers that I can tie to my car’s radio antenna. The reason for doing this is that drivers seem to miss the presence of my car as I am driving in their general vicinity. They nearly strike me as they are spontaneously changing lanes with no warning signal; they drive across my pathway, seeming to ignore the fact that I am driving down a 35-mile per hour street at 35 mph! They turn in front of me as I have the green left-turn arrow, forcing me to stand on my brake pedal, as I pray desperately that the person driving behind me has seen what caused me to screech to a sudden halt.

Yeah, I definitely need to work to maintain the few shreds I have left (buh-buh-buh).

I also like to construct necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other creations out of beads and beading cord. I am still trying to graduate to beads and wire!

I also cross stitch, but I have not picked this craft up for about 16 months — I overdid it the Christmas before last, making gifts for friends and family. I need to have the itch to take up needle, thread and Aida cloth again. (I’ve been thinking about it, but I am still working on the school colors afghan, and want to start my older son’s afghan.)

“That means you’ll be working on two projects at the same time, doesn’t it?” I know you are thinking that, and yes, I will be doing just that. It helps me to maintain a higher level of interest in the project underway, especially when it’s as large as an afghan.

I have several friends who enjoy “hooking” (that’s with the crochet hook, not the other, socially unacceptable behavior involving the exchange of a sexual favor for money). That is just one nickname for crocheting. (One historical account has it that female employees in lace factories were forced by their wealthy bosses to “turn tricks” on the side in order to make up for the fact that the factory owners paid less than a living wage. This was said to have occurred late in the 19th century. D. Stoller, Stitch and Bitch, the Happy Hooker) Anyway, my friends and I exchange ideas and tips. We show each other how to complete a particular stitch, such as the shell stitch. We show books and patterns. We exchange ideas. It’s a great way to bond with each other and relax! Given that I am so busy and trying to make ends meet, it’s probably one of the best, healthiest ways I can use to relax.

My Musings on the Harry Potter Phenomenon

My Musings on the Harry Potter Phenomenon
The “Harry Potter” phenomenon got started in the U.S. in the late 90’s. Many, although not all of us, have come to love the stories written by J.K. Rowling, as well as the movies that have sprung from the books.

I remember my younger son (Travis, now 16 and a junior in high school) came home from visits to his dad’s house with the Harry Potter books; at Christmas, dad’s girlfriend would buy him (Travis) Harry Potter items, such as a “magic” mug that showed invisible images when hot liquids were poured in.

As each new book was published, dad bought it for Travis — I wasn’t going to buy the books for him because I thought it was just a passing fad and that Travis would lose interest. I was mistaken. Travis maintained interest, at least up until Half-Blood Prince came out. Travis still admits to a grudging interest in the books, taking one out at times, and reading it. He put the Goblet of Fire DVD in and watched that three times in one weekend recently.

I have to admit that I had not read even one book when Sorcerer’s Stone was released as a movie; Travis told me that, in order to understand the movie, I would have to read the books. My thought? “Oh, boy, I have to read it before we go see the movie.” At that time, Travis was just nine, and crazy about Harry Potter, Quidditch, Hogwarts and wingardium leviosa (a spell). I started reading the book at his urging and found out — surprise! It’s better than I thought! I borrowed the other books in the series that he had already collected and read those, as well.

Thank God he made me read them, because I would have been lost watching the movie, otherwise. My older son went with us — he ended up falling asleep, but said he enjoyed the parts he was actually awake for. I have read each book more than once; watched the movies more than once too, especially those for which we have bought the DVDs. The movies follow the books, though not so closely that every scene from the books is in the movies (or we’d be in the theatre for at least four hours per movie).

Travis has always been a reader, so I didn’t have to use the books to induce him to read. He read Order of the Phoenix in two days flat! I can see where the plotlines, characters and stories would attract children who are not normally interested in reading. The books also show the conflict between good and evil; the struggle against prejudice (pure-blood wizards and witches against Muggles, who are non-wizarding people, and against half-bloods, who are children born of wizards and Muggles). The plot throughout the six books already published has been Harry Potter’s struggles and battles against Lord Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry when Harry was just a baby. Because of the sacrifice made by Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, Harry was protected from Lord Voldemort’s killing spell (Avada Kedavra). This is a theme throughout each book that has become more and more touched upon by Rowling. Voldemort’s spell backfired upon him, nearly killing him and rendering him to the merest shadow of what he had been before he tried to kill Harry. The protection Harry has had with him throughout all of the books has been love. Harry’s best friend through the books has been Ron Weasley. His parents have taken Harry in as almost a surrogate son, giving him love, attention, guidance, advice and great quantities of food (Mrs. Weasley always tells Harry he is too thin). From the second book (Chamber of Secrets) on, Harry has ended up saving one Weasley family member or another. He has saved Ginny (sister), Arthur (father) and Ron. Hermione Granger, a Muggle girl with magic powers came to Hogwarts and is the “best witch” in Harry’s class. She is also one of the most ethical characters in the books; she reminds Ron, Harry and other characters that they need to follow the rules of the Wizarding world. At the close of Half-Blood Prince, she and Ron were just beginning a romantic relationship after both broke up with others. This relationship has been foreshadowed and in the making since Prisoner of Azkhaban, when Ron noticed that Hermione is “a girl”.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and other classmates have interacted with other students (Draco Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, Neville Longbottom, Colin Creevey, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan). Professors have included Snape, Binns, Dumbledore, Moody, Lupin, Quirrel, Umbridge and Flitwick).

Harry has endured the loss of several people important to his growth and development. His parents, James and Lily Potter; Albus Dumbledore; Sirius Black. However, he has been able to draw strength and encouragement from their presence in his life (James and Lily appeared to Harry in the mirror of Erised and during the pivotal battle in the Little Hangleton cemetery between Harry and Lord Voldemort). Sirius Black died near the end of Order of the Phoenix

; no doubt we will see him appear in Deathly Hallows at a critical juncture of the book when Harry is in need of guidance, advice or protection (remember the two-way mirror that Sirius gave him at the end of the Christmas holidays in Order of the Phoenix). Even though Dumbledore died near the end of Half-Blood Prince, his pet phoenix did not die. Harry, Dumbledore and the phoenix share a strong, mysterious bond. I have the feeling that the bird will play an important role in the upcoming final book of the series. I also believe that Dumbledore will have a role beyond the grave in guiding and protecting Harry.

As the years between books and movies dwindle and become months, then weeks, those of us who have come to love Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagle and others, look forward to spending some enjoyable hours with them again. We don’t know who will die or who will survive, but we do know this: even as the last page of the last book is turned, we can resume our relationships with these characters every time we pick up the books or watch the DVDs (in spite of the spoilers who would try to reveal the plot and who dies in the last book).

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