New Year’s Resolution

Whether your pet is “purebred” or mixed, there are no reasons – except expense – not to alter your dog and cat. There are millions of healthy dogs and cats, puppies and kittens killed every year in shelters across the country for the very simple reason that there are more born than there are homes for.

Please, don’t put it off any longer. If you can’t afford it, most larger metropolitan cities have low to no cost spay neuter programs. Call your local animal control or humane society for information. If your area does not offer low cost altering, go to http://www.spayusa.org/ and click on “Locate a clinic”. Also try http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/where_to_have_your_pet_spayed_or_neutered.html and/or http://www.felinefido.com/low-cost-spay-neuter.html.

If none of those resources are able to help you, PLEASE save a few dollars every month until you can afford to have it done. Your pet will be healthier and live a longer and happier life if he or she is altered.

Please, be a responsible pet owner – Do not breed.

Spay or Neuter your dog or cat – because you love him.

Doin’ Anything Next Saturday?

I knew a woman once who loved a man who had a very volatile, hair-trigger temper. The day before they were to be married, he threw a terrible temper tantrum. As her British friend would have described it, he spent an hour throwing his toys out of the pram.

She never knew what had brought it on. She only knew how terrified she was that he would turn his temper on her. His teenage daughter was there and the woman later described the heartbreak she felt watching the young girl frantically cleaning up a broken lamp and the other debris the man left when he slammed out of the house.

The young daughter sobbed as she told the woman that after a lifetime of his uncontrolled tantrums, she had become used to it and, as his wife, the woman would too. It did not seem to occur to either of them that if that were true, the daughter would not be sobbing and shaking.

This woman was not stupid. If you had asked her, she would have said that she did not expect marriage to change his basic nature. She knew that such things as a pregnancy or a change in geography will never be the deciding factor in the maturity of two people in a marriage. Nor was this the first time he had yelled and thrown things, breaking her belongings and behaving like a spoiled child.

In spite of her own small voice screaming in her ear, she married him the next day and so embarked on a marriage marked by his sullen silent treatment interspersed by violent outbursts. As the years passed, it only got worse. There were times when he hardly spoke for days on end and violently pushed her away when she tried to hug him. There was, of course, no sex to speak of and, looking back, she realized he had begun pulling away from her almost as soon as they married.

She was desperately lonely and often wondered if he was as well. He refused to listen or partake of any kind of intimate conversation and finally, after many years, she simply shut down. She worked hard to stop wanting and caring. She worked so hard to harden her heart to him that she stopped feeling much of anything at all. He had brought her to hysterical tears so many times and one day, she swore to herself that he would never make her cry again, that he would never ever see her cry. And, he never did.

Finally, but only after more than 25 years of a sham marriage, she left him. She remarried – to a gentle and loving man who knew and understood that not all scars show on the outside, and they set about living the kind of life they had both dreamed of for their whole lives.

The real question however is simply this … If it is true that this woman was not a fool who believed she could change her former husband’s inexcusably immature and violent nature and if its true that she had seen his tantrums before she walked down the aisle with him, WHY did she marry him?

She had been raised by a family who had abused her and part of the reason for settling for a man who also abused her was simply that she didn’t know she deserved better. That was surely part of the reason but I wonder if some couples get married for no other reason than they have no place else to be that day.

That sounds so very ridiculous but perhaps its really not. All relationships are living breathing things that change and grow. Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable and the inescapable growth is not always in the direction we would like or even expect.

There comes a time in most relationships when a decision must be made. There’s that long and agonizing moment when each looks at the other and both know they cannot go backward and they can’t stay where they are. And sometimes, even if there is no real base to build on, being alone is a lot more frightening than moving forward.

Sometimes, people get married because there’s no place else to go.

My Thanks to Ann for this poem

If I were ol’ Santa, you know what I’d do;
I’d dump silly gifts that are given to you,
and deliver some things just inside your front door,
things you have lost, but treasured before.

I’d give you back all your maidenly vigor,
and to go along with it, a neat tiny figure.
Then restore the old color that once graced your hair,
before rinses and bleaches took residence there.

I’d bring back the shape with which you were gifted,
so things now suspended need not be uplifted.
I’d draw in your tummy and smooth down your back
until you’d be a dream in those tight fitting slacks.

I’d remove all your wrinkles and leave only one chin,
so you wouldn’t spend hours rubbing grease on your skin.
You’d never have flashes or queer dizzy spells
and you wouldn’t hear noises like ringing of bells.

No sore aching feet and no corns on your toes;
no searching for spectacles when they’re right on your nose.
Not a shot would you take in your arm, hip or fanny
from a doctor who thinks you’re a nervous old granny.

You’d never have a headache, so no pills would you take
and no heating pad needed since your muscles won’t ache.
Yes, if I were Santa, you’d never look stupid.
You’d be a cute little chick with the romance of cupid.

I’d give a lift to your heart when those wolves start to whistle
and the joys of your heart would be light as a thistle.
But alas! I’m not Santa. I’m simply just me;
the matronliest of matrons you ever did see.

I wish I could tell you all the symptoms I’ve got,
but I’m due at my doctor’s for an estrogen shot.
Even though we’ve grown older this wish is sincere;
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.

(BTW, in spite of what the poem says, I’ll never dye my hair and you couldn’t PAY me to take estrogen in any form. Just thought I’d throw that in.)

Full Circle

Sometimes it seems as if, as we age, we come full circle, right back to where we started from.

Last night we attended the college Christmas celebration, a formal, semi-formal dinner and dance held every year for as long as the college has existed – almost 120 years. It was a cold winter night – clear skies and sparkling stars. Perfect for a winter ball and watching the students was like taking a trip back through time.

Some of the young women wore hugely voluminous gowns that would have done Scarlett proud while others looked svelte and sophisticated in sexy sheaths and bare shoulders. Some were elegantly thin, while others resembled brightly colored marshmallows. There was every color from bright reds to shy pastels that looked like the icing on petit fours.

The young men looked like young men have always looked at high school and college dances. Some were dressed like Sean Connery as 007 while others looked liked they were attending their own lynching. In the cloak room, they helped their dates off with their wraps – some with practiced aplomb while others looked like they had never before seen a coat hangar. We older folks watched the interaction of the young couples with everything from wistful nostalgia to little more than indifference but many of us commented that the women must be freezing in their formal gowns.

Then, a young woman in a lovely yellow gown caught my eye. The dress had a tight bodice and tiny straps over her bare shoulders. The skirt was full and seemed to float around her legs. Her date was wearing a black shirt to match his jacket and pants and yellow tie to coordinate with her dress. He was sweetly attentive and they had that look that couples have when they’re first getting to know each other. Or perhaps I misread their body language completely but that’s not what I want to tell you about.

He walked her over to a couch and, though I could not hear them, it looked as though he was inviting her to sit down while he went for refreshments. She smiled, perched on the arm of the couch and off he went, into the fray, looking for such things as sliced smoked salmon and, amazingly, corn chips.

And, then I saw it. Under her beautiful yellow gown, she was wearing frayed blue jeans and high top basketball shoes. I almost fell off the couch where my own husband had left me to go hunting for food and drink.

In my day, I would have cheerfully frozen to death rather than wear the equivalent of long johns under a formal gown.

But, no uncomfortable panty hose for this young girl in the yellow dress. No spike heels to teeter-totter on the ice outside. Nope. She was happy and comfortable and looked like a million bucks.

You go girl, I thought, and smiled.

Barbie Doll Doesn’t Live Here

I’m a flat chested woman in a family of Big Breasts. I can remember, in my early teens, seeing my mother put my two younger sisters in the car for the seemingly weekly drive to the local JC Penney store to buy Training Bras.

Even then, at that naive age, I knew my breasts did not need to be trained although, foolishly, I wished for my own breasts to grow large so I could become a Real Woman.

Bigger yes, but “trained”?  To do what?

Anyway, after each trip to buy new, larger bras, my sister’s barely worn old bras would be laundered and put into the top drawer of the bureau in my bedroom, waiting for me to grow into them.  I sometimes imagine that somewhere, there is a stack of brand new bras of progressively larger sizes, all pristine white and neatly folded, still waiting for me to grow into them.

That was a lot of years ago but some things change only for the worse. If you cruise the internet now, you find some amazing ideas of ways to make our bodies more acceptable or more beautiful – at least to some people.

We have come to accept circumcision, the usually unnecessary and barbaric practice of slicing off the most sensitive part of a baby boy’s penis. Male circumcision came into vogue as a method of discouraging young boys from masturbation.

In some parts of the world, the horrifying and permanent mutilation of the genitals of young girls is as common as foot binding once was in China. Although foot binding was, incredibly, seen as erotic, female genital mutilation is done to keep women under the sexual control of their husbands.

In Hollywood and elsewhere, women can have their virginity surgically restored, their labia snipped and trimmed, and a Google search for the term “designer vagina” turns up more than 300,000 hits.

There are literally millions of web sites devoted to the stretching, shrinking, pumping and/or enlarging of just about any part of your body you can think of. There’s even a surgical procedure to create fake “six-pack abs”.

What strikes me as the funniest of all these is anal bleach. One site I read touted the product as a way of “looking younger”. I just can’t quite imagine showing up at a party, dropping my pants and bending over for my friends to pronounce that, “Yep Bran, you look ten years younger!”

Meanwhile, tattoos and body piercings are more popular than ever, and I’ve actually met people who don’t have the money to make their rent but manage to come up with the price of a new tattoo.

My husband has a saying … “Play the game in the uniform you were issued”. Which is not to say that he doesn’t believe in staying fit. He does. We eat vegetarian and try to get regular exercise. He just doesn’t see the point in wishing for or surgically changing one’s body.

Neither do I.

Don’t misunderstand … If others want to buy bigger that or smaller this, that’s okay. Its their business and their money. And, if any of these procedures adds to one’s self esteem and sense of self-worth, well, then, I guess it might be worth it.

Not for me though. I’ll stick with my grey streaked hair and what is so adorably referred to as crow’s toes around my eyes. I’ll continue to fight what often feels like a losing battle against the Grim Middle Aged Weight Gain. But, no boob jobs, nose jobs, tummy tucks or face lifts for me.

I stopped wearing a bra some time ago. What a delightful feeling of liberation to finally be rid of that uncomfortable bound up feeling. Yeah, I’m still pretty flat chested but the difference is that now I’m getting older, I realize two things … I really do like my own body and gravity will never be my enemy.

Remembering an Anniversary

(Originally written November 19th, 2008)

This anniversary doesn’t get remembered much anymore and seems especially appropriate right now. The power, poetry and brevity of this speech never fail to move me.

November 19th, 1863

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Best Friends

(Originally posted November 17th, 2008)

If we’re really very lucky, there are people who share our lives with us in special ways.

In this post, I want to wish Polly a very Happy Birthday. We’ve been together, through thick and thin and soupy for more than 35 years. No matter what, you will always have a corner of my heart all to yourself.

Carol, my dear dear friend, Thank You for this silly fun caption. You didn’t even know when you gave it to me but I couldn’t resist using it.

Diane, one of those rare people who love me enough to always tell me the truth – even when I don’t want to hear it.

Polly, Carol, Diane and Kay and Ann — I could not have made it without you. Thank all of you and my sisters, Marianne and Marty for always listening with an open heart and a generous spirit and for caring about what I went through to get where I am now. And, Grey Fox, my lover and husband, for holding my hand and loving me in ways I never thought possible.

Bran’s Coming Out Party

I recently had the pleasure and honor to mount an exhibit of Bran Muffin captioned artwork. Here are a couple of photos of the exhibit. As this blog grows, so will the original art work illustrating Bran’s unique view of the world.

Mind Over Matter?

We’ve all heard that one, right?

That aging is “mind over matter … If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”. Well, I DO mind but another maxim that’s just as true is that ‘none of us is gonna get off this planet alive and any day above ground is a good day’

Camelot Revisited?

(Originally posted just a few days after the presidential election)

Since the election, that’s what I’ve been hearing — that our new president is so like JFK that his time in office will be very much like a new Camelot.

What a huge burden to put on him. Especially since he already has the all but impossible task of digging us out of the recession brought about by all the over-taxing and over-spending by our previous president. The last time we had a budget surplus, a balanced budget and enough jobs to go around was when Bill Clinton was in office. Now we’re so deep in debt that our great grand children will still be paying it off. Indeed, we’re practically a bedroom community for China now.

Reading the news these days is depressing to say the least. I’m reading of racial threats, people buying guns and ammo and bibles. Seems to me that if we can’t learn to live together, we might just tear ourselves apart.

Its Moving Day

Welcome!

It may take me a few days but this is the new home of Bran Muffin’s World.  Please change your bookmark and watch for new illustrations. There are plenty more though I am sometimes slow in getting them posted.

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Copyright (c) Bran Muffin, 2008