NEWS AND UPDATES #2

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In Memory of Daniel Davis

In Memory of Daniel Davis

My wife and I are in a group on Facebook called “US ARMY GERMANY (USAG)”. Recently a regular member and Administrator of the group, Daniel Davis, passed away. The members of the group would like to send flowers to this highly respected member of the group who will be greatly missed by all.

The Memorial Service in White Pines, Tennessee will be Tuesday February 18, 2014. If you would like to send a donation for flowers please use the link below.






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NEWS AND UPDATES #1

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I have accepted the position of INTERACTIVE ART COORDINATOR for the AARON DOUGLAS ART FAIR. I will be responsible for creating an Interactive Art Project that attendees of the Fair can take home with him. Thank you Staci Dawn and Aaron Douglas Fair Board Members for this opportunity to assist with this important event.
http://www.aarondouglasartfair.com/

aarondouglas

On another note: My water color painting, “The Albino Woman” will be featured on an episode of the Destination America television show “Monsters and Mysteries in America” scheduled to air sometime in March. The episode is about Topeka’s Albino Woman.
http://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-shows/monsters-and-mysteries-in-america

"The Albino Woman" By: J.A. George

“The Albino Woman” By: J.A. George



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SCOOTER POOTER BUTT

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SCOOTER POOTER BUTT

Scooter Pooter Butt April 6, 2000 - January 3, 2014

Scooter Pooter Butt
April 6, 2000 – January 3, 2014

It was a clear bright and beautiful morning in May 2000. I was leaving the house early to head up to the tattoo studio. I had a heavy schedule that day and I needed to get some tubes and needles into the Auto-Clave for sterilization.
Our home was at 5th and Willow Streets in Baxter Springs, Kansas. One of the oldest neighborhoods in town it was half industrial and half residential. Directly across the street from our mobile home was a body shop. To see traffic come and go into their lot was a usual site and I thought nothing of the car backing out of the lot until I saw the small puppy behind the rear wheel of the car.
“HEY, HEY, HEY!” I yelled. The car stopped and the puppy hearing me call out turned and ran towards me across the street. “SHIT!” I yelled, there was a car barreling down the street straight towards the puppy. Debbie hearing me yell came running out of the house as I shoved through our gate to rush into the street, arms raised and palms outward, to stop the car. The car stopped short of hitting the puppy and as I scooped her up out of the road I thought to myself, “How could it have not seen those cars?”
I lifted the puppy up and looked at the little blond face with the white stripe down the nose. The puppy looked back at me with only one eye. “What the…? How does a puppy so small and so young have only one eye?” I held the puppy up higher and could see that it was a female.
“Oh, she is so cute.” Debbie cooed as I approached the fence with the puppy in my arms. “No!” I firmly said, “No, No, No! We are not keeping her! We already have two dogs and we don’t need anymore animals.” Debbie put on her best pouting face. “But she is so cute.” She said as she reached out and scratched the little head. “Honey”, I calmly said, “We do not need another dog. Besides you know how I feel about this; both of our dogs are old and will be gone before long. I do not want the pain of losing beloved pets over and over again. I can’t take it anymore.” Debbie pouted, “But…” I shook my head, “But nothing… She is cute and she will get adopted quickly. I am going to drop her off at the pound.”
I left the pound shaking my head. “Where is the dog catcher?” The pound was just a couple of blocks from our home and that time of day he was usually there caring for the animals. I headed down to the Police department on the chance he might be there.
As I pulled up in front of the Police department I saw the dog catchers truck parked outside. I left the puppy in the my truck and headed inside. “Where’s the dog catcher?” I asked the officer behind the desk. “Haven’t seen him.” Was his reply. “His truck is out front.” The officer looked out the window and shrugged. “I don’t know where he is.” He said. “Can you call him?” The officer said, “Hold on.” Grabbing the mike off of the top of the radio he called the dog catcher. The call was echoed off of one of the Walkie Talkies on a nearby table. “Looks like he don’t have his radio on him.” The officer said.
I walked all through the station looking for the Dog Catcher but he was no where to be found. I returned to my pickup truck and as I climbed in I saw the content puppy, head resting on the white boots of her front paws, sleeping on the floor mat on the passengers side of the truck. “Shit!” I said as I backed out of the parking space and into the street.
“Check her out and if she is OK start her shots. If not put her down and I will pay for it.” I said to Kevin Kemp, our family Veterinarian, as I dropped the puppy off at the animal hospital. One hour later Kevin phoned me at the studio. “Your puppy is ready.”
I went down to Kemp Veterinary Hospital to pick the puppy up. “She is 6 weeks old and very healthy.” Kevin explained. “It looks to me like the eye has been kicked. It will never heal and she will be blind on that side.” I nodded, “I suspected as much. Any idea what her breed is?” Kevin shook his head, “Hard to tell. Looks like she definitely has Beagle in her.” I picked the pup up and she gave me a small growl right before she tried to lick my face. “Maybe some golden retriever?” Kevin looked at her. “Maybe.” I sat the puppy back on the counter. “So what do I owe you I asked.” Kevin smiled, “Half of what you normally would.” I gave him a quizzical look. “You just adopted a puppy that needs a home, congratulations.” From that moment on the puppy became a member of our family over my protests and much to Debbie’s delight.
It took us a few days to come up with a name for her. I have always been a firm believer that a animal will tell you what they want their name to be. I walked into the house one day after work and Debbie was smiling ear to ear. “I know what her name is.” Debbie said. “Oh yeah? What is it?” Debbie got on the floor in front of the pup and patted her hand on the carpet. The little pup started crawling across the floor on her belly towards Debbie, her little tail lashing back and forth rapidly. “Come here Scooter”, Debbie said as the puppy scooted towards her, “Come here.”
Six months after Scooter came into our life Spunky left. Debbie’s dog of 14 years had deteriorated quickly when his age finally caught up with him. On October 30, 2000 we made the hard decision to say goodbye to Spunky Doodle Bug and let him rest. Debbie said on more than one occasion that she felt that God sent Scooter because we needed a puppy to help us through the loss of Spunky.


Living with Scooter has not been easy. The kick to the head when she was a puppy affected her mental state. She is bi-polar, being the sweetest dog one moment and a bitch from Hell the next moment. She has gone after our other animals, sometimes viciously and she usually ends up on the short end of the stick ending up severely injured on several occasions.
She is food possessive and will guard a food bowl for hours to keep the other animals away from it. We have always had to feed her away from the other dogs for her own safety and their safety.
She is highly jealous especially when it comes to me. For you see, though I did not want to keep her, we have bonded, her and I. She is Daddy’s little baby girl, my sweetheart, my Scooter Pooter Butt. I Love her and she Loves me. She use to cry and wag her tail when I came home and the other animals had to be kept away until she had given me her attention and I hers. She barely looks up these days when I enter the house. The crying and tail wagging are a thing of the past. She still favors me but her enthusiasm has left.
Scooters one good eye has a severe cataract; she can barely see. She is very deaf and can barely hear you when you yell her name. She has a thyroid condition and her weight is way out of control though she barely eats. Her heart has slowed down and she sleeps constantly. Scooter wanders around confused and incontinent. Her arthritis is so severe that to lay down or stand up is a Herculean effort on her part. Her back legs are unsteady and have no strength, she has to be helped up and down the stairs just so she can go outside to potty. She stands as she urinates and hobbles around as she defecates because she can no longer squat. Scooter is tired and there is the smell of death about her and today death will come for her.
We decided early on, based on her age at the time we adopted her, that Scooter came into this world on Debbie’s birthday, April 6, 2000. Today she will leave this world, January 3, 2014. We have decided that it is time for my baby girl to rest and at 3:00pm today the Veterinarian will help Scooter cross over into Doggie Heaven. How do you say Goodbye when it seems like only yesterday that you said Hello?
As I sit here typing out this obituary for the little dog no one wanted I can hardly see the keyboard through my tears. I have stopped to go and blow my nose so much that my nostrils are sore. I have paused several times to lay down next to Scooter, hug her, tell her how much I Love her and soak what little fur she has left with my tears. I do not want to let go of her and I pray that she will go to sleep and not wake up before we have to take her on that last ride this afternoon. I pray for her peaceful passing and wonder why we must endure the pain of the loss of those we love, animal and human.
We never did come up with any conclusive decision as to what Scooter’s mix breed was. I always said Beagle and Golden Retriever and Debbie always said Beagle and Corgi. In these final few hours of my Scooter’s life I finally know what her breed was; She was and shall always be my Little One Eyed, Blond, Blind Girl Doggie.
Rest in Peace and play in fields of green until we are together again someday in Heaven my Scooter Pooter Butt. I Love and will miss you every day of my life. Thank you for being a part of our family baby girl.

-The GYPSY-
www.americanghostriders.com


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NAN-WESH-MAH

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"Nan-Wesh-Mah" By: J.A. George

“Nan-Wesh-Mah” By: J.A. George

Nan-Wesh-Mah was a member of the Potawatomie tribe of Native Americans. He was born in November of 1812 on the North Side of the Tippecanoe River near Muncie, Indiana. When his father died Nan-Wesh-Mah was adopted by his Mothers cousin, Abraham Burnett. The boy took on his new fathers name and became Abram Burnett.
In 1838 he was moved along with 10,000 members of his tribe to a reservation in southeast Kansas. After his first wife Dah-Moosh-Ke-Keaw died in 1842 he married a German Catholic immigrant by the name of Marie Knofloch in 1843.
In 1848 he moved with his wife to the area that would become Topeka, Kansas where he established a large horse ranch and trading company. He passed away in June of 1870 and was buried near Shunganunga Creek on what was his land. Abram Burnett has always fascinated me for several reasons. The main one being the mound that bears his name, Burnett’s Mound. Burnett’s Mound is the highest point in the Kaw Valley and sits at what was the Northeast portion of Chief Burnett’s land. Yes, I said Chief Burnett and that is the other thing about him that fascinates me. Though the son of Chief Shau-Uque-Be and Cone-Zo-Quah, the daughter of Chief Chebaas, who was the brother of Chief Topinabee the question arises; How did Nan-Wesh-Mah become a Chief?
Being a Chief is an honor earned never inherited. Yet there is nothing in the historical record to suggest how this honor was bestowed on Chief Burnett. I assume that it may have come about because he was considered the protector of Burnett’s Mound, a place sacred to many different tribes of Native American’s.
The legend goes that as long as no part of the mound was destroyed or desecrated that the valley below it would always be safe from harm. It is interesting to note that almost a year to the day, June 8, 1966, that highway I-470 was completed that an F5 Tornado swept through Topeka cutting a path from one side of the city to the other. It destroyed in much the same way a portion of Burnett’s Mound had to be destroyed to build I-470.
Another part of the Chief’s story that I have always found intriguing is the size of the man; 6’ 5” tall and weighing in at a whopping 450 pounds. To say he was a big man is an understatement. I am sure he cut an impressive figure anywhere he went, which brings us to the final thing I have always found fascinating about the man; his social activities.
It is a well known fact that Chief Burnett enjoyed his drink. The giant man would go into Topeka on a Saturday night and start at the first saloon at the North end of Kansas Avenue. He would make his way, in his horse and wagon, from saloon to saloon, drinking, eating and socializing until he would arrive at the last Saloon at the far south end of Kansas Avenue. At that point Chief Burnett was so drunk that he could barely stand. The bartender would put the Chief into the back of his wagon and the horse, who knew the way home, would return him to his wife and children.
Nan-Wesh-Mah; Chief Abram Burnett was a longer than life figure in the early days of Kansas and his story has always been a large part of one of the things I love about my hometown of Topeka. That is why I wanted to honor him, in my own way, with a watercolor portrait of him and his cabin.
As we move into the year 2014 the good Chief has been gone from this world for almost 144 years. I pay him, his memory and his spirit tribute with this, my first painting of 2014 entitled, “Nan-Wesh-Mah”.

-The GYPSY-
www.artist-alley.net


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DARK DAYS OF NOVEMBER

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DARK DAYS OF NOVEMBER

JFK By: J.A. George

JFK By: J.A. George

It was a bright and sunny in Topeka, Kansas that November day of 1963. I was in first grade at Clay Elementary and I had ran the three blocks to school that morning wearing nothing more heavy or confining than my Kansas City Chiefs sweat shirt. The Chiefs were playing their first season in KC and I was a fan.
We had spent the morning in class reading from our primers; See Dick, See Jane, See Spot. Run Spot Run. At 11:30 am we had been shuffled into the combination gymnasium and auditorium. The folding tables had been set out and I sat at my assigned spot quickly eating my lunch from my Jetson’s lunch box, the sooner I got down lunch the quicker I could go out to the playground. I played tether ball with my friends until our teacher, Miss Pyle called us in with a blow of her whistle.
Miss Pyle was a stereotypical old maid school teacher. She was pushing retirement age, had never married and had devoted her entire life to the education of children. Tall and lean her austere demeanor was offset by her flower print long linen dresses, cat eye glasses and white hair pulled back into a tight bun.
After lunch Miss Pyle instructed us take out our math work books. I lifted the lid of my desk at the back of the classroom reaching into the cavernous metal well below the lid. I extracted my math workbook. The book looked old and tattered; missing a multitude of pages that had been ciphered, judged, graded, corrected and discarded. I closed the lid to my desk and sat my large pencil in the empty ink well pocket at the upper right corner of the desk. The ink well pocket was a remnant of a time past yet at seven years of age I was completely ignorant of what it’s prior use was. To me it was just a convenient place to put things.
I liked my place at the back of the room, by the chalkboard. Early in the school year Miss Pyle noticed that I was running out of paper in my Big Chief tablet long before other children in the class; she soon discovered why. I was finishing my classroom assignments quicker than the other children and would doodle in my Big Chief tablet to pass the time. Miss Pyle had sat me at the back of the classroom by the chalkboards that adorned the swivel doors of the coat closet. Her instructions had been simple; “When you finish your work doodle on the blackboard and do not disturb the other children.” So that is what I did… Doodle.
It was shortly after 12:30 pm and I was doodling on the chalkboard having already finished figuring out that 2 + 2 = 4 when our Principal Mr. Sheldon entered the room. Leonard Sheldon was tall and lean and in many ways was the male counterpart of Miss Pyle. Mr. Sheldon would one day be my Junior High School Principal at two different schools but today he was just my Grade School Principal and something was wrong.
Mr. Sheldon was usually a very stern individual, more of an administrator than a educator he looked at all things with a very analytical practicality. Seldom would any hint of emotion cross his face. To see a slight smile play at the corner of his mouth was a rare and unusual event yet now he stood in the doorway of our classroom with tears in his eyes. “Miss Pyle may I speak with you in the hall for a moment?” He choked out. Every child in the classroom looked at Miss Pyle as she crossed the classroom and exited out the door. Mr. Sheldon softly closed the door and we were left to our own devices.
Some of my classmates seized the opportunity to start cutting up and throwing waded up paper balls at each other, while others ran from desk to desk laughing and playing around as for myself I was feeling anxious and I kept looking at the door. I wondered why Mr. Sheldon was crying and what it had to do with Miss Pyle.
Miss Pyle stepped back into the room and my classmates settled down, then the room got eerily silent as each and every child saw that their teacher had tears flowing down her cheeks. Miss Pyle’s usually pale and sallow face seemed somehow more pale and sallow than I had ever seen it. The click, click, click of her sensible shoes echoed within the high walls of the classroom as she made her way to her desk.
Stepping behind her desk Miss Pyle reached into her desk drawer and removed a tissue from the box she kept there. Dabbing at her eyes with the tissue Miss Pyle sniffled, cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. She looked out over the classroom of fresh young faces and in a soft voice said, “Children, class is dismissed. You are to go straight home, do not go anywhere else, do not go to your friends house, go home. Do you understand children?” Every young voice in the classroom sung out in harmony, “Yes Miss Pyle.”
As I put up my work book and pencils I looked up at the green cardboard changeable calendar on the wall. It was the type of calendar where one of the children was given the privilege of changing the numbers and day of the week each day. The calendar let all who looked at it know that today was Friday November 22, 1963.
I walked to the door and turned back to look at my desk to make sure that I had put everything up. Miss Pyle did not like items left on our desks and I did not want to write 100 times; “I will not leave things on my desk.” Miss Pyle came to the door and said in a small voice, “Run home Jimmy, run home.” She threw the switch by the door turning off the large overhead globe lights and walked back to her desk. The large windows on the east side of the room allowed the subdued light of the fall day to flood the classroom. I watched as Miss Pyle sunk down into her chair and buried her head in her hands; sobs racked her body. I left the room and did as instructed, I ran home.
When I ran into my home at 7th and Western Streets I discovered my mother and grandmother sitting in front of our tan GE Box Television. They should have been at work this time of day at Pelliters Department Store yet here they sat crying as they watched the black and white images on the screen. My mother held out her arms to me and I ran into them to be held in close. I did not know what was wrong but an immense sense of sorrow hung heavy in the air that day.
As my mother held me close and my grandmother stroked my hair CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite appeared on the TV screen, he too was crying. Looking up at a clock that was unseen to the eye of the camera he said, “From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:00 Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” Mr. Cronkite paused fighting back his tears. “Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded; presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly and become the 36th President of the United States…”
As I sit here typing this narrative I look back on those dark days in November of 1963. I remember clearly all the images that flashed upon the television screen. The Zapruder film shown over and over again. The never ending analysis of the shooting. The suppositions of why and how it happened. Rewind and rewind of slow motion Jack Ruby gunning down a slow motion Lee Harvey Oswald and of course the Presidential Funeral.
It has been said that upon the day of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, that we as a Nation lost our innocence. The nation may have well lost it’s innocence but I gained a sense of my own mortality. The loss of a beloved President taught me the meaning of life and death.
Would JFK have gone down in history as one of our greatest or worst Presidents if he had not been assassinated? We will never know. Would he be as loved and honored as he is without a bullet ending his life? Again, we will never know. Was there more than one gunman? It does not matter. What matters is that a man died and for what reason? We will never know.
It is now 50 years since the day that I ran home from school to learn that life is fragile. I have been away from my home for a long, long time yet somehow it seems appropriate that I have returned to Topeka at this time, on the 50th anniversary of the death of a President and the birth of my awareness. And on this 50th anniversary of the senseless assassination of our nations youngest President I have become aware of one other thing; my generation is the last one that will have the actual memory of those tragic days.
Most of us look at history from the position of an observer, not as a participant. When we think about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln we look at it from a text book point of view. All we know we learned in school, we have no first hand knowledge because no one is alive that lived within that time. But those such as I that were 7 years of age, or 6 or 5 at the time of the Kennedy assassination carry with us vivid memories of that day. One day the last member of my generation will pass away and there will be no one living that had an actual memory of November 22, 1963. Upon that day future generations will only know what they read in text books and are taught in school about the death of a President. JFK will seem no more real to those students of history than Lincoln did to us.
So while I live and breathe I will share with those that care what I witnessed first hand least the awareness of how this President, no, this mans death affected each and everyone of us on a personal level, regardless of age, sex, creed, color, religion or origin. I will remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy and mourn his loss yet more so I will mourn what we all loss on that bright and sunny day in Dallas, Texas; our sense of tranquility and the dream of Camelot. A Dark Day indeed.

-The GYPSY-
www.artist-alley.net


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THE ELEPHANT SLIDE

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Elephant Slide in Children's Park - Topeka, Kansas

Elephant Slide in Children’s Park – Topeka, Kansas

Please allow me to take a moment of your valuable time to share with you a very obscure and unusual piece of Topeka, Kansas history that is by sheer coincidence tied to my history also. This small yet relevant piece of history can be found in Children’s park at the corner of SW 6th and SW MacVicar streets.
On a day not to far removed from this day I found myself driving by this park. I had many fond memories of the park associated with my childhood. Across the street from the park there was once a hamburger stand known as Sandy’s. Many was the day that my mother would buy us lunch at Sandy’s and we would scarf down our hamburgers and fries so that we could run and play on the swings, the teeter totter, the merry go round and the Elephant Slide.
In this day and time of plastic jungle gyms and fiber glass slides the old fashion metal playground equipment is slowly becoming extinct. Yet in this park I was amazed to find, as I drove by, that the Elephant slide has survived. This simple little slide was a fixture in the park when I first visited it at 6 years of age and 51 years later it has withstood the onslaught that has taken away other such playground equipment of the past.
This obscure little slide is at least 60 years old and still has managed to bring the most pure of delight to 4 generations of children. No video game or iPod or megaplex movie will ever bring to a child the simple joy that this Elephant Slide has given to countless children through the years.
I pray that if the day comes when this most valuable of slides shall be removed from the park that the city of Topeka either donates it to the museum or at the very least sells it to me to preserve for future generations.

-The GYPSY-
www.freaky-links.com


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GOODBYE SWEETIE PIE

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Baby Kitty

Baby Kitty

Miss Kitty was dead. There was no pretending she wasn’t. She had died in my arms as Debbie hurriedly drove towards the vets office. We were both devastated at her loss but I was finished. “No more cats!” I had stated with conviction. “No more! I cannot take the pain of the loss of animals any more. I’m too old for this shit!” That was before I opened an email from Debbie and found two links to two different cats on PetFinders.Com.
One was a male white and gold long haired domestic. Large yellowish green eyes looked out of a cocked head from behind bars. The other was a female black, gray and white long haired domestic sitting on the floor and looking up at the camera with emerald green eyes. The message from Debbie that accompanied the links simply stated; “I need a fuzzy. I like these two. Either one of them will do.” We ended up with both of them.
The male was Buddy Boodrow Kitty. He was a resident of the Bartlesville, Oklahoma Humane Society. He had been dropped off by his owner along with a golden retriever dog he had been raised with. The owner was moving and had not wanted to be bothered with relocating his pets. Buddy was 3 years old when we adopted him and had the run of the animal shelter. The staff had found it impossible to keep him caged. He was a master escape artist so it was easier just to let him have his way. He ate anything he could and his 18 pound weight was a grand testament to his appetite.
The female was Baby Kitty. Her story was not as light as that of Buddy. Baby Kitty was 5 years old when she came into our life. She had been the pet of a Dewey, Oklahoma Police Officer. He had moved from his home into an apartment that did not allow pets so he did what no one with any caring for animals would ever do; He put her into the care of his mother who hated cats.
For two years the small 7 pound feline languished in an abandoned bedroom, locked away from the world. Her only human contact was that of the hateful woman who would throw food and water into the room and clean her cat box once a week. When ever the little cat would come near the woman she would kick at her and shoo her away. Then one day a new Animal Control Officer was hired in Dewey and it was not long before she found out about the neglected cat.
The Animal Control Officer gave the Police Officer 30 days to find a loving home for Baby Kitty or she would bring him and his mother up on animal abuse charges. That is how she ended up on Pet Finders where Debbie found her.
The Police Officer met me in the parking lot of the Dewey Apple Supermarket. He had the frightened cat in a pet carrier and when I reached in to extract her I soon found myself clawed and bleeding. He said that I could keep the cat carrier and I drove the wailing cat the 30 miles to her new home in Independence, Kansas.
Baby Kitty was only one step above feral. Scared and wild the two years of neglect, solitude and abuse had taken it’s toll on the animals psyche. But there was another more pressing problem we discovered soon after letting her out of the carrier; she was in pain. The small cat was covered in matted fur with the largest mat on her back. It was 6 inches long and almost 2 inches thick. She could not be touched without wailing out in pain and lashing out.
We threw a towel over her and rushed her to the vet clinic. The veterinarian tranquilized her and completely shaved her body. We brought her home doped up and groggy. It would be the first time we would get to hold her and the last time for a while.
Baby Kitty wanted nothing to do with us, our dogs or Buddy Kitty. She would hiss, growl and attack when anyone or any animal came too near to her. After being bit and clawed several times I decided it was time to have her de-clawed; for her safety and ours.
After she was de-clawed Baby Kitty soon learned that her slapping had no further effect so she took to running away and hiding. Then one day she jumped up on Debbie’s lap and snuggled down. When I moved she jumped and ran. Over the next year I could not get near her. Anytime she snuggled with Debbie it was only short term. Any sound or movement by me would send her scurrying for cover.
We also found out why she had been named Baby; she cried like a baby. As Debbie would pet her she would cry a pitiful cry. Noisy and obnoxious at times like a spoiled child we let her have her way. We could not bring ourselves to do anything that would further traumatize this poor little girl and we handled her with all the care and love we could.
She was Debbie’s girl, no doubt about it. Baby Kitty loved Debbie and Debbie loved Baby Kitty. I had made up my mind that the little cat would forever have little to do with me when one day she jumped into my lap. She curled up, went to sleep and purred. I reached out to pet her and she jumped down and ran away. Over the next year she slowly got to the point to where she would let me pet her for short periods as she sat in my lap but I could not pick her up. Her eyes would grow wide in fright and she would scream out her protest.
It seems strange now as I look back at that time that Baby Kitty bonded with a woman when it was a woman who had abused her. But that was OK; she was at peace in Debbie’s embrace and that was more than she had been before. If Baby Kitty never completely warmed up to me that was alright. She was safe and loved and that was all that mattered.
One day, after Baby Kitty had been a member of our family for around 3 years, she was laying on the back of my chair and as I walked by she swatted out at me and yowled. Later that day when I was talking to Debbie and relating what had happened Debbie said, “Maybe she is playing.” So I tested her theory. The next time I found Baby Kitty on the back of my chair I reached for her and she swatted at me and yowled. I did not pull back and reached to pet her head; she bit me.
It was not a hard bite, it was a play bite. She gnawed my hand twice and ran off. This would be a scene that was repeated often over the next year. Baby Kitty seemed to enjoy the game and I did not mind playing it with her. It was interaction between man and animal and it told me that slowly and surly her psychological wounds were healing.
In 2010 we moved from Independence, Kansas to Eula, Texas. Baby Kitty did not like the move but she adapted quickly. She was separated from me for several months during the transition and she bonded even more with Debbie. As my schedule changed and I was able to be around more Baby Kitty suddenly started to bond with me. No longer a scared Cat she became a purring whinny little ball of fur who would rub her head under my chin; she became my Sweetie Pie.
We lived in the country and she had her freedom to roam our acre of land. Though fenced Baby Kitty could often be seen outside the fence and roaming through the abandoned property next door. This was a concern as the neighborhood was rife with feral cats and we did not want her attacked. But there was no way to confine her and after two years confined in a small room she had the right to roam.
This past summer I discovered that our neighbors wife had been dropping Baby Kitty into her neighbors yard thinking she belonged to them because they had several cats. She did not like cats and did not want a cat in her yard so instead of trying to find out who she belong to she just assumed that Baby Kitty had come from her neighbor to the north when in fact Baby had come from her neighbors to the south. We believe that it was this exposure to these numerous cats that brought about the infection that would eventually bring her down; URI – Upper Respiratory Infection.
By the time we were fully aware of her condition it was too late. Once the infection hits it travels quickly through it’s stages. If symptoms manifest early treatment is possible but if symptoms manifest late in the disease mortality is likely. So it was with Baby Kitty and so it was with Miss Kitty 7 years before when she died in my arms of URI.
Baby Kitty first exhibited symptoms in August as she started losing weight. Short on funds we did everything we could to treat her at home and bring her back to health but to no avail. Soon the little fur ball who loved to be held like a Baby and snuggled was gasping for air and could not be held without being uncomfortable.
Nothing left of her but skin and bones the once abused cat who had healed and showed her contentment by hanging the tip of her tongue out of her mouth was gasping for breath.
We took her to the vet last night and said our good byes. Today she is being cremated. She was Debbie’s Little Girl and my Sweetie Pie. We could never make up for the abuse she suffered before she came into our life all we could do was give her a better life. For seven years she was a member of our family and a big part of our life. For the rest of me and Debbie’s life she will remain in our hearts.
Rest In Peace Baby Kitty my little Sweetie Pie. We will see you again someday in Heaven but until then know that you are loved and missed.

IN MEMORY OF BABY KITTY 2001 – 2013


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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE MEN IN BLACK KIND

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A Weston, Missouri Tobacco Barn

A Weston, Missouri Tobacco Barn

Men in Black exist, I know, I’ve met them. The year was 1973 and I was a Sophomore in High School. My mother, sister and I lived in a small house on the outskirts of Weston, Missouri. The house was not spectacular or special in anyway, it was just a house but what happened on that warm late summer night of 1973 was spectacular and was special.
Behind the house was a tobacco field which set at the foot of a southern bluff. Separating this field from the bluff was a small creek that meandered its way towards the east. The bluff was tree covered and it was not unusual to spot forest dwellers, bob cats, deer and coyote, finding their way to the creek for a cool drink. At the top of the bluff was a tobacco barn that was only accessible via a road off of the bluff road that followed the Missouri river.
I had found it hard to sleep on that night and I lay awake in my bed in my second floor bedroom looking out the window and watching the starry night sky. Suddenly a bright streak of light shot across the sky. I was startled, thinking at first that it was a shooting star then a chill ran up my spine; What if that is a plane crashing at KCI? Kansas City International Airport was less than 20 miles away and though there had never been a major crash there that possibility still loomed large. But then the streak of light shot back the opposite direction.
Unlatching the screen on my window I leaned out to watch the aerial acrobatics that the light performed for the next several minutes. Just in the middle of a maneuver the light suddenly froze in the sky. As I studied the light it seemed to be made up of 4 separate diamond shaped lights. It then slowly moved towards the southwest above the tobacco field and towards the barn at the top of the bluff. As I watched the light seemed to hover above the barn then slowly and silently descend.
As the light disappeared below the tree line at the top of the bluff I suddenly understood. The light had not been performing random maneuvers it had been looking for a clear spot to land. There was an empty field behind the barn.
As I watched the glow at the top of the bluff I wondered what it could be. I knew it was a UFO but was it from another planet or our own. I turned and looked at my alarm clock, two o’clock in the morning. The town of Weston slept and it seemed as though I might be the only witness to this “visit”. As I turned my attention back towards the window and the bluff beyond my eye caught a small light weaving it’s way through the trees on the side of the bluff and to the creek below.
Having spent many a lazy afternoon in the bluff woods I knew that the path that the small light was following was the game trail that meandered down the side of the bluff towards the creek and the tobacco field beyond. My heart was racing in my chest as I watch the light get closer and closer to the creek. I murmured a silent prayer that the light would not cross the creek but that prayer was not to be answered. The small light crossed the creek and entered the tobacco field.
My heart beat in my chest harder and faster than I had ever felt it beat in my life. The thump, thump, thump echoed in my ears. As the light broke out of the field of tobacco and into our backyard my Labrador Retriever started to bark then suddenly went silent. As I watched a small humanoid figure approached the driveway below my window and my mother’s car. As the figure got nearer the road it extinguished its light and all I could see was its shape in the moonless night.
It circled my mother’s car scanning it with a small device that reminded me of the tricorders from the Star Trek Series except it’s device was round with a series of small colored lights around it’s rim that glowed, blinked and moved. The creature was around 5’ tall. The suit it wore appeared to be too large for its small frame. I hesitate to say the head was large as it appeared to be more of a helmet than a head. As I watched silent, frightened and fascinated the worst thing that could have happened at that moment happened; I sneezed.
The creature stopped and casually looked up at me with one large dark oval eye. I had been correct, it was not a head it was a helmet. It had not been startled by my sneeze, rather it was as if it had known that I was there all along and the interruption forced it to acknowledge my presence. Turning the creature headed back towards the tobacco field and as it entered the field the small light could once more be seen.
I watched intently until the light once more disappeared at the top of the bluff. Jumping out of bed I grabbed my clothes and threw them on. Rushing downstairs I quietly past my mother’s room and went out the front door. This was no time for long explanations about where I was going at two o’clock in the morning. I grabbed my motorcycle and pushing it out into the street I pushed it towards town and two doors west of our home. Jumping on the bike I quickly kicked it to life and roared towards the town’s police station.
That night my Uncle Jerry, who was the assistant Police Chief at the time, was on duty. As I entered the Police station I excitedly started pouring out what had just transpired. Calming me down and forcing me into a chair Jerry said; “Now take a breath and start from the first; what happened?” I got about halfway through my tale when I jumped up and said, ”Let’s go, I’ll tell you the rest on the way!” As we drove in the Patrol Car towards my home I related the rest of the tale to my Uncle.
As we pulled into the drive behind my mother’s car I jumped out of and pointed towards the bluff. “You see that Uncle Jerry? See the glow?” Jerry stepped up beside me and looked towards the bluff. The tobacco barn at the top was clearly silhouetted from the glowing white light behind it.
Uncle Jerry returned to his squad car and extracted his shot gun and flash light. Shinning the flash light on the ground he quickly and easily picked up the creatures trail. The foot prints were small but deep as if the person who had made them weighed several hundred pounds. Yet the creature I had seen looked as if it could weigh no more than 100 pounds. The footprints were more round than oval in shape and somehow reminded me of a footprint an elephant and not a humanoid creature would make.
We followed the prints to the edge of the tobacco field and Jerry came to a stop. Shining his light into the field you could see the track the creature had made from the bluff and back again. There were broken and tramped on plants all through the field. Uncle Jerry whistled. “Mr. Pepper will not be happy about this.” Mr. Pepper owned half the town and this field and he did not take kindly to trespassers.
I looked at Uncle Jerry. “Are we going to follow it?” I asked. Uncle Jerry looked at me then pointed up the hill. “If you want to go ahead, as for me I’ll wait until daylight to see what’s going on.” I looked up the hill then back to Uncle Jerry and sheepishly said, “I’ll wait too.”
As we headed back to the driveway I asked Uncle Jerry to shine his light towards where my Labrador Retriever was chained up. I found the dog cowering and shaking, very much afraid, in the back of his dog house. I had seen this dog face down a pack of coyotes that invaded our yard one night. He was not afraid of anything yet now he had been frightened beyond reason. I took him by the color and pulled him from the house. Jerry and I looked him over to make sure there was no injuries and I led him towards the house. He would spend the rest of the night in my room.
At eight o’clock the next morning Uncle Jerry picked me up and we headed through town and towards the bluff road. Jerry told me that I was being allowed to ride along as a witness but I was to stay in the car at the scene until he was sure it was safe. I agreed. As we made the turn and headed up the hill towards the road that would take us to the top of the bluff and the tobacco barn where the light had landed Jerry said, “What the hell?” Blocking the road were two black sedans with government plates.
Jerry pulled his car up and said, “Stay here.” But as he went to open his door a large man in a black suit pushed the door back closed. Leaning down and looking in the window he said, with a disarming smile, “May I help you gentlemen?” As he said this another man, slightly smaller than the first one approached the passenger’s side of the patrol car where I sat. He just stood there, not looking into the car but straight ahead, his gaze fixed off into the distance.
Jerry said, “I am Weston Assistant…” but before he could finish the man said, “…Police Chief Jerry Stewart and this is your nephew James. Yes sir we know who you are.” Jerry looked at him hard. “What are you doing here?” He demanded. The man, still smiling said, “Official Government Business. Need to know only. Now Mr. Stewart, you were in the Air Force, I am sure you understand the meaning of that; don’t you?” I started to say something but Jerry stopped me. “Yes I do.” Said Jerry. “Good, Good”, said the man, “Now I suggest you turn the car around and go about your business and let us go about ours.” As Jerry dropped the car in reverse the man said, “And neither one of you saw anything last night and do not need to discuss what you did not see with anyone. Understood?” Jerry nodded then elbowed me. “Yeah, OK.” I said.
As we headed back down the hill I protested. “How can you let them talk to us like that? You’re the Assistant Chief, can’t you do something?” Jerry drove looking straight ahead out of the windshield. “When a guy in a suit driving a government car tells you to forget about something, you forget.” I was beside myself. “But Uncle Jerry what about the UFO I saw?” Jerry drove on. “What UFO?” was all he said.
Uncle Jerry would never speak of the incident again though I tried to bring it up several times. In late November of that year I found the courage to make it up to the top of the bluff to look around. The men in the black suits and black cars were long gone so I did not worry about being found out. The field behind the barn looked as though a controlled burn had taken place. The ground was blackened and no vegetation existed. As I walked through the dead field my eyes scanned the ground and then I saw it; three round shapes in the dirt where something heavy had rested.
They were in a triangular shape and there was about 20 feet between each indentation. It had been big and it had been heavy and now any doubt as to what it was had been removed from my mind. I had been witness to a landing of some sort of space ship. Whether it was extra-terrestrial or of Earth origin I did not know. What I did know was that I had seen something that was not suppose to be seen and had been told to keep my mouth shut about it.
For several years I did not speak of the incident to anyone yet as time passed by I would tell the tale in conversations where the subject of UFO’s came up. One such conversation occurred in October of 1990 when I was on a camping trip at Merrimac Caverns in Missouri with the girl that would eventually become my second wife.
Tammy and I were laying under the stars talking about life, the Universe and everything. She asked if I had ever seen a UFO and I related the story of my encounter to her. I was lying on my side, facing her, my head propped up on my arm as I spun the tale. Tammy was on her back looking up at the night sky. Suddenly she interrupted me, “Do UFO’s look like that?” She pointed towards the sky. Following her indication my blood ran cold as I saw a light made up of four diamond shapes silently gliding above the river and towards us. I watched speechless as the shape silently passed over the trees above us then quickly shot off to the west disappearing as fast as it had arrived. “Just like that!” Is all I could say.
In 1997, when the movie “Men In Black” came out I took two of my sons to see it. It’s funny how accurately in the characters they seem to have captured the attitude of the two men in black I encountered on that late summer day 25 years previous. I do not know what the job is of the ones I encountered is but I can guess that it deals with cover ups. Do “Men in Black” exist? Yes they do! Are we being visited by beings from another planet? Probably! Are there things un-explained that we will never have a clear explanation for? You bet there are! Do I ever want to see my two o’clock visitor again? Maybe! Do you believe? I have since 1973.

-The GYPSY-
www.freaky-links.com


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A FALL DAY

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A Fall Day along the Shunganunga Trail in Topeka, Kansas

A Fall Day along the Shunganunga Trail in Topeka, Kansas

For those who have called Topeka, Kansas home their entire life or those who have, at the very least, called Topeka, Kansas home for years do you know the treasure which you posses? It is a rare treasure, one without value yet priceless. Seldom seen but often visited. Never boring but taken for granted. With a sense of melancholy but a lift to the spirit. What is this most valuable of things that the most noble to the most lowly of Topekans own? It is a perfect Fall day.
The changing of the seasons is anticipation of what awaits us around the next corner and over the distant hill. For places that have no seasons where one season is just a continuation of the next that excitement of what is next is sadly missing. To not be able to anticipate the crisp white freshness of a winters morning or the song of the Robin on a Spring Day. What of the warm summer breeze that brings the sweet smell of grilled meats? But then there is Autumn, the splash of color, the glorious smell of change, the excitement of seeing the last leaf fall from the tree as you shuffle through it’s fallen brothers.
Topeka, Kansas has the blessing of being in the most perfect of locations to be able to give to those who live within it’s environs the experience of the full glory of each season with Fall being one of the most beautiful. With the large variety of different broadleaf trees and a multitude of vegetations fit for most any climate Northeast Kansas delivers a parade of color each year that is to be envied by many and enjoyed by all.
After being away from my beloved hometown for over 42 years I could not have picked a better time to return than in the Fall. Having an Autumn Birthday I have always been partial to that time of year yet even more partial to the Autumn days that can be found in Topeka and Northeast Kansas.
Today my wife and I took full advantage of this glorious Fall day. We spent the afternoon walking through the gardens at Lake Shawnee and then taking a drive out to Rees Farm for some Apple Cider. A beautiful way to spend a beautiful day. The next time you wonder what Topeka has to offer or you hear someone put her down just remember what we do have and thank whatever power you honor that you have been blessed to live in one of the most wonderful regions in the best State in the greatest country in the world.

-The GYPSY-
www.artist-alley.net


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MO MO

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Mo Mo Creature

Mo Mo Creature


We have all heard of encounters with the legendary Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of the Northwest United States, Yeti of the Himalayas and the Creature of Boggy Creek in the Southeastern USA. But few know of the creature that lurks within the Bluff Woods along the Missouri River Basin in Northwest Missouri and who roams as far south as the Ozark Mountains; a creature known as Mo Mo.
This cousin to Sasquatch is just as elusive and just as much as an enigma as his relatives and has been seen by few people yet his legend is bigger than he is. I am one of the few people that have had an encounter with Mo Mo and this is my story.
It was the summer of 1974 and I was a high school student attending West Platte High in Weston, Missouri. I had just finished my Sophomore year and my cousin Alfred had just finished his Junior year. We were out in my car on one of the Bluff roads enjoying the warm summer night and a few beers.
As we sat at a pull off alongside of the road drinking and watching the moonlight play across the cornfield at the foot of the bluff Alfred related to me an incident that had occurred to him the week before. Alfred had been out with his girlfriend Melinda and was returning home. Alfred lived a couple of miles outside of town on a tobacco farm owned by his father.
“You know where the road to the house dips towards the creek?” Alfred asked. I allowed that I did. “Well as I approached the dip, now don’t think me crazy, I swear I saw Mo Mo standing in the creek.” I laughed. Mo Mo was a local legend. A Big Foot like creature said to roam the Bluff Woods around Weston. “And did he ask you for a ride?” I said teasing him. “It’s not funny.” Alfred said, “Scared the Hell out of me.” I apologized and asked him to continue.
“Well I blasted through the dip and almost bottomed out my pickup. I heard something hit the back of the truck and was afraid that it had climbed on. When I got to the house I ran inside and locked the door. The next morning I went out and looked at the truck and there was a dent in the tail gate as if something had hit it.” Alfred shook his head. “I didn’t say anything to Dad, didn’t want him to think me crazy. I went down to the dip to look around.” Alfred had my interest and I asked him to tell me more.
“Well I walked the creek bank a little ways and found a cut out in the embankment. Looked like something had dug a large cave. I looked inside and I saw animal bones and twigs like something had tried to make a nest.” Alfred shivered. “What did you do?” I asked. “I got the hell out of there! When I got back to the road my Dad was there. He said, ‘So did you find Mo Mo?’ Dad told me that he had seen him twice on the road and he had found the nest also.”
“Wow, I would sure like to see that.” I said. Alfred shook his head again. “Dad said we should leave things be that we don’t know about.” I told Alfred that I knew of a cut out just up the hill from where we were at. “It’s a small cave, want to go look at it?” Alfred said no and we sat there just talking about other things for a while. Suddenly I saw a movement in the cornfield. Tapping Alfred’s arm and indicating silence with my finger to my lip I pointed out to the field.
Alfred and I had been leaning on the car and we both stood upright trying to see into the darkness with our only light that of the full moon.
As we watched the movement in the field I silently reached inside the car for the flashlight that I kept on the backseat. As my fingers found it I flipped the switch and shone it into the cornfield. As the powerful beam illuminated the field there was an ear piercing scream. My hair stood on end and my blood ran cold. My flashlight beam found a large hairy creature not more than 100 yards from us in the field. It’s bright red eyes seemed to flair in the beam. The creature let out another scream and started lumbering through the cornfield towards us.
Alfred yelled, “MO MO!” and ran to the passenger’s side of the car. I jumped into the driver’s seat fumbling in my pocket for the ignition key. Alfred yelled, “DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE, FUCKING DRIVE!” As I started the car and dropped it into gear the creature made it to the road. I sped away throwing dirt and gravel back from the spinning tires. A few yards up the road I slowed the car down. “I think we lost him.” I said, heaving a sigh. Alfred looked out the back window. “NO WE HAVEN’T!” He yelled, “FLOOR IT!” Looking out the rear window I could see the creature running through the dust towards the car and gaining on it. I floored the gas pedal and quickly left the creature behind.
That night Alfred and I made a pact never to tell anyone of our encounter. We also swore never to go down that road again. I cannot say that I kept the pact for I have told this story many times but to my knowledge, all the way to his death, Alfred never told a soul.
Now it would be one thing if I had a single encounter with Mo Mo but that was not to be. I encountered him once again in the Fall of 1974 when my Uncle Jewell asked a neighbor to check on his tobacco barn. Jewell had gotten a report that someone was messing around his tobacco barn out on Hwy 45. This barn was located on a hill on the same bluff that Alfred and I had seen Mo Mo and just a short distance from Alfred’s father’s farm.
It was tobacco auction season and Jewell was feeling under the weather having worked long hours running tobacco between the warehouses. Jewell had his own crop drying in the barn and asked his neighbor Eddie if he would go out and make sure no one was messing around his crop. Eddie, who was a mutual friend, contacted me and asked if I wanted to take a ride with him to check it out.
The cool fall air filled our lungs as we stepped out of Eddies small Toyota station wagon. Eddie had parked in the driveway of the Weston Gun Clubs firing range. He pointed at the barn across the road; inside a single light shown through the slates of the barn. The bare bulb should not have been burning. No farmer would leave a light on in his barn for fear of fire. Eddie and I saw the shadow move through the barn at the same time. “Awful big shadow.” Eddie said. A shiver ran through me, “Mo Mo.” I whispered. Eddie had heard the story of my previous encounter with the creature.
Eddie moved around to the rear of the station wagon and extracted his 8mm Mauser. The vintage World War II German rifle was Eddies pride and joy and he was a dead on shot with it. Wrapping his arm in the strap he rested his elbow on the hood of the car and took aim at the barn across the road. Eddie nodded to me. “COME OUT OF THE BARN!” I yelled. Suddenly there was loud crashing from inside the barn. The shadow shape hit the light and the bulb started swinging back and forth from the end of it’s cord. Eddie said, “Oh Shit!” and pulled the trigger.
The sound of the rifles fire was drowned out by the scream from inside the barn; the same scream I had heard that night on the Bluff Road with Alfred. The light was suddenly smashed out by whatever was in the barn. The fact that it had been disturbed at all had been amazing as the light hung 10 feet above the ground. As the barn went dark we heard more crashing and the sound of wood splintering. “You want to check that out?” I asked. Eddie looked at me, “Yeah, in the morning.”
The next morning found me, Eddie, Jewell and the local Game Warden at the barn. The pieces of the light bulb lay shattered on the dirt floor. The side door had been kicked in and the back of the barn had a large hole in the slats that had been created from the inside out. On the floor was blood spots in the dirt leading back to the hole. On boards around the hole pieces of fur and blood were found.
The game warden declared that it had been a bear that had invaded the barn. “Bear my ass!” Jewell said as Eddie and I exchanged glances. “When was the last time you saw a bear around here? There hasn’t been a bear in Weston in almost a hundred years.” The Game Warden said, “Well doesn’t mean it can’t happen.” Eddie nudged me, “Tell him.” So I related the story of me and Alfred’s encounter with Mo Mo. When I had finished the Game Warden said, “You shouldn’t go around spreading tall tales and rumors.” Jewell said, “Oh you mean like bears where none exist?” Eddie said, “It was more Mo Mo than bear!”
Jewell took to setting traps in his barn after the incident. I don’t know if Jewell ever believed that Eddie had shot Mo Mo that night but I do know that when he was once asked what he would do if he ever caught the creature in his trap he said would make a fine fur coat of it and give it to, “That damn fool Game Warden.”
Mo Mo is real and for those, such as myself, who have encountered this creature it is one of the most frightening experiences of our life. This is not a gentle woodlands giant. Mo Mo is a creature whose anger at being disturbed is a terrifying reminder of the power of the beast.
-The GYPSY-
www.ablazable.com

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SHUTDOWN

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ex·tor·tion

ex·tor·tion [ik stáwrsh’n]
(plural ex·tor·tions)
n
1. criminal law obtaining something by illegal threats: the crime of obtaining something such as money or information from somebody by using force, threats, or other unacceptable methods
2. charging of unfairly high prices: the charging of an excessive amount of money for something (informal)
3. getting something by force: the acquisition of something through the use of force or threats

An illegal act that if you or I engaged in would result in criminal charges being brought against us and would possibly lead to Federal Prison Time. However, it would appear that the Congressional Leadership is immune from Federal Law that applies to the rest of the populace.
John Boehner as the House Majority Leader and the Architect of this Extortion against the American people and our money is guilty of the crimes of Extortion and Treason against the American people. Remember, it is the money of the American people; not Congress, not the Government. Our government is of the people, by the people and for the people and it is the peoples money for the services we rely on that is being illegally held by John Boehner and the Congressional Leadership.
I urge you to write your Congress Person TODAY and say enough is enough! Stop the extortion and restore our services. It was not the criminal John Boehner’s right to hold the American people hostage for some political gain.
To find your Representative and their contact info follow this link: www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Please share this status if you agree that the American people should not be held Hostage and have our Country extorted by the Congressional Leadership.

-The GYPSY-
www.freaky-links.com


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2410 WEST 2nd – 1951

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2410 West 2nd – 1951 By: The GYPSY –Watercolor

2910 West 2nd, Topeka, Kansas - 1951

2410 West 2nd, Topeka, Kansas – 1951

The photo that inspired this painting is from the collection of Judy Perkins of Topeka, Kansas. It documents the day in 1951 that a neighbor man took Ms. Perkins, her mother and sister on a rowboat ride through their flooded home at 2410 West 2nd Street in Topeka, Kansas. Little Judy is peaking around her sister who is wiping a tear from her eye. Their Father was in another row boat in the foreground taking the photo.
The original photograph had a sudden impact on me as I had a similar experience 42 years later in 1993 when again the Midwest suffered a great flood. Just like when Topeka became a victim of rain swollen rivers and tributaries in 1951 so too did Baxter Springs, Kansas become a victim in 1993.



I was at a family reunion in Weston, Missouri in September 1993 when disaster struck. The Grand River authority in Oklahoma refused to open their flood gates to relieve the swollen Spring and Neodesha Rivers because they had just installed new playground equipment that spring and they did not want to lose it. So 100’s of families in Ft. Scott, Pittsburg, Riverton, Baxter Springs, Kansas and Miami, Oklahoma lost their homes and worldly possessions to protect a swing set.
Our home in Baxter Spring was the first to succumb to the rising waters and by the time I arrived all that could be seen of our house was the peak of the roof. After making sure that my wife, at that time, Tammy and my boys Michael and Ricky were OK I asked about the animals. Tammy informed me that Breeze A Dog was safe at a friends house but she wasn’t sure about Miss Kitty. Tammy said that the last time she had seen her she was asleep in the linen closet. “She may have got out when we were removing stuff from the house, I don’t know. I found a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy and asked him to take me down to the house in a boat so that I could make sure Miss Kitty had got out safely.
As the Deputy maneuvered his boat around to the back of the house I grabbed his fire extinguisher and once the boat was in position I used it to bust out the kitchen window. As the shards of glass slowly sunk in the Khaki colored muck I yelled out; MISS KITTY! A faint meow came from somewhere inside the house. The water was within just 6 inches of the ceiling and trash, food and furniture floated in the foul smelling water.
“Get me to the back door” I instructed the Deputy, “I’m going to kick in a panel on the back door and go in for her.” The Deputy said, “Are you sure you want to…” But suddenly stopped in mid sentence looking hard into the window by the back door. “She’s in that room!” He exclaimed, “I can see her eyes.” Taking the fire extinguisher I busted out that window and looked inside. On the far side of the room a set of box springs was floating and clinging onto the edge of those springs, her head held up above the water was my Miss Kitty.
The Calico Cat yowled mournfully, her wide eyes scared. As the Deputy held onto my belt with one hand and the eave of the house with the other I reached through the broken window for the bed springs. As my fingers made contact Miss Kitty ran up my arm clinging to my shoulder the way she had clung to the bed springs. I resettled into the boat and as the Deputy maneuvered us up what had once been 7th Street Miss Kitty nestled her water soaked body into mine purring softly.
As we arrived at Main Street there were News Crews from NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX waiting for us. Someone had alerted the news media that a cat rescue was taking place and for 15 minutes Miss Kitty enjoyed her fame.
This story has a happy ending, of sorts. Miss Kitty, Breeze A Dog, Ricky, Michael, Tammy and I survived the great flood of 1993. We lost irreplaceable items but saved a priceless object, Miss Kitty. Floods are horrible things that cannot even be imagined by anyone who has never had to endure the cleanup of the mud, muck, ooze and gunk. The smell seems to never go away and you feel dirty for months after. Yes a Flood is horrible but for those of us that have lived through a flood we can be a little more sympathetic and understanding of the strength that it takes to recover and start a new. We have the power of the water that took our comfort and gave us a strength stronger that the flood that washed it away.

-The GYPSY-
www.artist-alley.net


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