The damage done to the children of the FLDS will take generations to heal

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The children of Colorado City, Arizona and the neighboring town of Hildale, Utah will long suffer the degradations of the “prophet” Warren Jeffs.

“We were told the world wanted to kill us, that people wanted to destroy us and our moral values,” Raymond Jeffs told San Angelo Standard-Times reporter Krista Johnson.

Ray Jeffs is one of the sons of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned pedophile “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“I genuinely believed I would be destroyed because my dad told me that constantly,” Roy Jeffs, Ray’s brother said.

Roy continued to believe in his father until three of his sisters confessed that the man had abused them. After hearing his sibligs stories, Roy realized that he, too, had been sexually assaulted by his father.

Johnson’s comprehensive reporting on the FLDS cult provides in vivid and horrifying detail the control the elder Jeffs concerted over his people, damage that will take many years to rectify.

https://www.12news.com/article/news/nation-now/this-son-of-prophet-warren-jeffs-has-54-brothers-and-sisters-yet-the-former-flds-church-member-felt-alone/465-b6a7faa3-e9cd-453a-9e67-d3a8095efe0a

the scent of rain cover 200X300 copy

Anne Montgomery’s latest novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

A different viewpoint

Me Umpiring

Twenty years into my officiating career, my superiors finally relented and allowed me and my peers to wear sunglasses in the field, but, by then, my eyes were already damaged.

“Your blood pressure is a little high,” the nurse said.

I smiled. “Could it be that you’re about to stick sharp objects in my eyeball while I’m awake?”

My flippant answer belied the fact that I was certainly nervous, since the surgeon would soon be probing the inner recesses of my eye which a scalpel, a tiny ultrasound wand, and an itty-bitty vacuum cleaner. That I had waited patiently for my insurance company to cover the surgery for years did not make me feel any better as they wheeled me into the operating room.

My vision had been deteriorating for a decade. I can now hear those coaches who have complained about my officiating screaming in unison: “We always knew she was blind!” Admittedly, while I could certainly see all those behemoths holding on the line and the players who felt it necessary to dump a defenseless quarterback on his butt for no reason, I did sometimes lose sight of the ball in the hazy glow of the stadium lights. Don’t ask about baseballs. I tried to always work the plate, because, in the field, those flying projectiles would periodically fade and, more times than I’d like to recall, I ended up with a bruise, replete with seams. Off the field, nighttime driving became difficult: headlights in the dark were punctuated by colorful sparks shooting in all directions.

According to the National Eye Institute, a cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. By age eighty, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. While my parents did not undergo the operation until they were in their eighties, my turn came at the tender age of 59.

What caused me to begin losing my vision at a relatively young age? Officiating. It was once believed that sports officials should never wear sunglasses, an effort to cut down on the above mentioned, “Geez, ump, you blind?” quips.

Today, especially here in the Arizona desert, the idea seems ridiculous. Then again, you may recall coaches used to think it was a good idea to deny players water during practice. Thankfully, philosophies have changed. Sports officials now often wear sunglasses, but those years without eye protection took their toll.

While cataracts can result from certain health issues like diabetes and from tobacco and alcohol use – I’m hoping Chardonnay doesn’t count here – prolonged exposure to sunlight is definitely a cause. I probably spent the first twenty years of my officiating career squinting in the sun. And, since my eyes are a light blue, I was the poster child for cataracts.

As it turned out, the surgery was a breeze: quick and painless. As a bonus, while the surgeon was mucking about in my eye, I was treated to a color show reminiscent of an Impressionist painting. The drops used to dilate your pupil are heavy-duty and last twenty-four hours, so driving is out. After that, there’s only a little scratchiness and a regime of drops for about two weeks.

There are a few shocks when your vision adjusts. There’s a depth to objects that had been missing, the loss of which was so gradual I didn’t know it was gone until I stood before my rock box. I’m a mineral collector. Hundreds of specimens I’ve gathered since I was a child rest in a pine and glass case in my living room. Each night before going to bed, I look at the rocks. My friends know to be wary when asking about the specimens, since – given the right amount of wine – I am apt to tell you long stories about where and when I got them, whether you want to know or not. The night after my surgery, I approached the box to take my nightly look and turn off the lights. Colors leaped out, richer than I’d seen in years. Crystal facets glittered. It was like meeting old friends after a long separation.

However, my new peepers have also prominently displayed a few things I’d, quite frankly, rather not have seen. My house is not quite the paragon of cleanliness I’d always imagined.  Dust bunnies and not-so-immaculate tile floors accuse me of shirking my domestic responsibilities. But the biggest surprise came when I looked in the mirror. When did all those wrinkles appear? Like an aging on-camera news anchor shot through a gauzy filter, I’d been seeing myself through a similarly cloudy lens for years.

And here I thought I’d been aging so gracefully.

 

the scent of rain cover 200X300 copy

Anne Montgomery’s latest novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

“The characters in ‘The Scent of Rain’ added to an already amazing storyline.”

 

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Karen Klein, a staff reviewer at YABOOKSCENTRAL, gives The Scent of Rain 5 stars across the board. http://www.yabookscentral.com/yaindie/22508-the-scent-of-rain

Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

Umpire School: A Twisted Love Story

Umpire School 1981

I attended Bill Kinnemon’s Umpire School in 1981. Major League Umpire John McSherry – who would die while working home plate in Cincinnati on opening day in 1996 – sits in the front row, third from the left. His partner in crime, minor leaguer John Higgins, sits behind him to the right. I’m in the picture, too. See if you can find me.

I entered a tiny office in St. Petersburg, Florida, signed the legal forms, and was escorted to a single-story cottage across the road that fronted the facility. Unlike all but a handful of the 105 students registered for Bill Kinnemon’s Umpire School Class of 1981, I would have my own room, since putting me in the dorm with the guys was obviously out of the question.

I plumped the thin pillow, leaned back on the cot, and scanned the schedule that would direct my life for the next five weeks. Baseball rules classes, on-field clinics, and scrimmages in which students would participate as both umpires and players. My stomach twisted at the thought of anyone seeing me in the field. I’d never played baseball or softball. I could already hear the “she throws like a girl” jeering and wondered if there was any way I could actually avoid having to throw a baseball.

The next morning, we campers lined up in rows. “He’s out!” I called, straightening to my full height, bringing my left arm horizontally across my chest and my right up and bent at the elbow. Both hands were clenched in tight fists. Out calls emanating from scores of wannabe umpires echoed across the dusty field.

“Jee…sus Christ! That was pathetic!” senior instructor Joe Brinkman screamed, grabbing the bill of his cap and slapping it on his leg. Sound like you mean it!”

Furtively eyeing one-another, we bent over in unison again, hands splayed just above our knees, staring at an imaginary base, pretending the runner and throw were arriving almost simultaneously.

“He’s out!” I joined the others, glad I didn’t have a high voice. I might have been able to blend in, had it not been for the long, auburn ponytail. Cutting my hair short might have been prudent.

Major League Umpire John McSherry, 375 pounds, walked unsteadily through the lines of aspiring umpires, saying nothing, looking decidedly uncomfortable: the result of some especially painful dental work and a night of bubbly self-medication.

“He’s out! He’s out! He’s out!” We screamed over and over, working on our posture and intonation. McSherry wiped a hand across his face: the February Florida heat causing spots of perspiration on his red cheeks. As I bent down in preparation for another out call, he passed by, without even a glance.

It was not until later that night, when my name was announced during dinner, that McSherry sat up and stared. “Anne? Anne? There’s a girl here? You’re kidding,” he said, turning to the Minor League instructor who stood by his side. John Higgins pointed me out. McSherry looked over and waved his hand in the air as if the whole idea was simply too ridiculous to consider.

The days were grueling: long and hot, on the field and in the classroom. I worked hard to be just one of the boys.

One of the tenants of umpire school was that all campers should have an equal opportunity to be treated badly. The logic being that umpires will, by nature, be victims of disdain when working games, and if you can’t handle the abuse in school, you will never survive on the field.

My big moment came one afternoon. Campers were sometimes picked to perform certain special tasks, and, now, it was my turn.

“Butler!” McSherry called out, making sure my fellow fledgling umpires heard. “Bring the balls up to field two for this afternoon’s drills.”

“Yes, sir!” I said, chin up in my best imitation of an Army recruit.

I’d watched him berate campers, throwing his hat, and tramping around the dusty diamond like a bull with hemorrhoids. He’d go nose to nose with these grown men and they would shrivel. In fact, 12 campers would simply grab their gear and quit, walking away rather than endure the punishment.

Fifteen minutes prior to the afternoon drill session, I stood at the door of the equipment shed. Higgins, who everyone called Higgs and who seemed to be McSherry’s Sancho Panza, smiled as he leaned up against the wall, arms folded across his chest.

“I’m here to get the balls for field two,” I said. Higgs was cute with bright blue eyes.

“Don’t worry about it.” He smiled. “They’re already up on the field.”

“Really? But John insisted that I bring them up.”

“Nope. You’re good.”

I was one of the first people at the field, so I waited and watched as the group assembled, the last few stragglers running full speed up the dirt road, because being late was never, ever acceptable.

“OK, we’ll be doing first base drills,” McSherry said. “It’s about listening to the ball hit the glove and seeing the foot on the bag. Listen and look. That’s what you’re going to do. Got it?”

“Yes, sir!” the group called out as one.

Then McSherry paused rather dramatically. “Who’s got the balls?” Silence.
“Who’s got the balls?” he yelled louder. “Who was supposed to … Butler! Where are the balls?”

“I … I went to get them and Higgs …”

“Where are the fucking balls?”

I stared at Higgs. He avoided my gaze. “I don’t know,” he said. “I saw them in the shed.”

McSherry squinted at me. “Get ‘em, Butler! And while you’re gone, your friends here will run laps around the field.”

My eyes grew wide.

“Start now, gentlemen! Run! Run!

I bolted across the field and down the hill faster than I’d ever moved in my life. But I did not get away quickly enough to avoid hearing the curses that were being hurled my way.

When umpire school finally came to an end after five long weeks, it was, strangely, hard to leave. It was as if we all suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, where we had learned to love our captors and wished to emulate them.

Like most of the other campers, I flirted with those professional baseball dreams, even though a job would have meant life in the low minors, shuffling from tiny town to tiny town, little pay, low budget motels, and the built-in cruelties umpires endure daily.

When it came to picking the campers who would be recommended for that life, most of the school staff members decided it would not be a good idea to send a woman up the line. It was 1981, after all. It’s interesting, and came as a bit of a surprise, that I had a friend in John McSherry. I would find out years later that he was the only one who rated me in the top 15. But with most of the other staffers positioning me much lower on the list, my eventual ranking was 32. The top 30 candidates were certified for duty in Minor League instructional camps. I was told that McSherry thought I had good officiating instincts.

Did I deserve a job? Probably not. About ten days into camp, I injured a hamstring, which limited my mobility. And, in all honesty, I have always been a horrible runner, which just about anyone who’s ever officiated with me can attest. Apparently, one day my awkward stride caused McSherry to growl. “Jesus Christ, Higgs! She runs worse than I do!”

How do I know this? Five years after I attended umpire school, I ran into John Higgins. Then, I married him and John McSherry was there with us to celebrate.

the scent of rain cover 200X300 copy

Anne Butler Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

 

A question of time

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The recent passing of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who famously wrote A Brief History of Time, had me thinking about, well … time.

My students often complain when, upon being late to class, I am undeterred from marking them tardy.

“But I’m only a few minutes late,” they plead.

Which is all I need to hoist myself onto my soapbox. “When I was in television, I had to be in my seat when the red camera light blinked on. I couldn’t be one second late. And when I referee a football game, what if I’m late while the players, coaches, and fans are all waiting for kickoff? What if my students arrive at my classroom and I’m not there to let them in?

My young charges roll their eyes.

“You have to be on time,” I say. “If you’re the worker who’s always punctual, no one wants to fire you. It shows you care about being professional and not imposing on your co-workers.”

Here is where I admit that my nightmares consist mainly of me unsuccessfully trying to get somewhere on time. Whether it be a TV set, a classroom, a ballgame, or an airport, the scenario is always the same. I am late, horrified at the prospect, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get where I need to be on time.

Just a few days ago, I was revisited by the terrors of being tardy. My student reporters were in a contest with a deadline. We were six minutes out. I found myself repeatedly checking the second hand on the classroom clock … tick, tick, tick … as we tried to rectify the software glitch that was holding up delivery of our final product. I flashed back to those days when I had to run onto the news set, heart racing, and slide into my chair while pasting on a smile.

My students made their deadline, and the flashback gave me pause.

I will retire from teaching in two years, and I’d like to think those deadline dreams will diminish. But, it seems, I might have another time-related problem.

“I worry about you when you retire,” my long-time beau has said more than once.

“Why, my sweetie pie?”

“I’m afraid you will not have enough to do.”

I consider his concern.

“You don’t know how to relax,” he says. “You always have to be busy.”

“I will have plenty to do in retirement,” I say. “No worries.”

But he doesn’t look convinced.

While I do plan, upon retirement, to hammer to death the obnoxious alarm clock that has pestered me for decades, I’m not really sure just how I’ll respond to a world with far fewer deadlines.

As Hawking famously said, “Only time (whatever that may be) will tell.”

 

the scent of rain cover 200X300 copy

Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

 

 

 

It’s hard to say no, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do

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A lost pup forced me to make a decision.

Over the course of my life, myriad animals, too numerous to count, have almost magically appeared at my doorstep. My favorite example is Sir Winston, a wee creature with wobbly back legs and a misshapen jaw that my vet referred to as “the poster dog for inbreeding.” Whinny materialized, dirty and tick-ridden, one afternoon in my living room, as we were watching an NFL game. I stared at the tiny beast, shocked at his sudden appearance. Later, the neighborhood kids admitted they found the dog and had quietly slipped him through the front door, figuring, I guess, that I’d keep him.

For the past 30 years, I have invited all the creatures that have deemed me worthy of their care into my home.

Until now.

Last week, on the ride home from school, Makayla – my young house guest – and I watched in horror as a small puppy darted toward six lanes of traffic. We were stopped on the other side of a busy intersection at rush hour. The puppy slammed to a halt at the top of the curb, then darted back to the cover of some parked cars. When the light turned green, I maneuvered across three lanes and pulled to a stop. Makayla leaped from the car. I waited, but didn’t watch, not wanting the vision of a dead dog burned into my brain.

After a few minutes, Makayla returned with a dirty, tired-looking, Queensland Heeler pup, that sprawled exhausted in her lap.

Of course, there isn’t a puppy on the planet that isn’t irresistible. But those tailless, spotted Heelers, bouncing about on thick, stumpy legs, are especially enchanting. In short course, we fell in love.

On the chance that the pup, which appeared to be well fed, might just be lost, we rushed to the vet to check for a chip. None was found. We’d picked him up in a location that was mostly industrial. No homes nearby, so we figured he’d been dumped, which I would learn is too often the fate for rambunctious heelers.

I will admit that I was apprehensive about bringing a puppy into the home mix. Initially, those concerns centered on something I had not ever considered in the past. In a few weeks, I will be 63. I looked at the puppy and did the math. Heelers can live up to 15 years, by which time I’d be pushing 80.

Then, age reared its ugly head again. When the puppy saw our 16-year-old blind doodle – dachshund/poodle – he pounced on her, nipping and barking in his high squeaky voice. Frantic, Baby searched for cover. Our other dog, little Mousy – a fluffy, white, puff ball – similarly cringed. Only my blue-eyed cattle-dog mix, Bella, immediately stepped in and played momma dog.

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Some of my four-legged friends did not mind the new addition, but 16-year-old blind Baby, on the left, struggled with the pup.

Over the course of three days Bella and the puppy played raucously. While the two indoor cats didn’t seem to mind the little one, Baby and Mousy simply could not accept their new young friend. The realization dawned that it would simply be unfair to keep the puppy.

I had never given an animal to a shelter. The thought made me queasy. Still, on a whim, I typed Arizona Queensland Healer Rescue into my search engine and two popped up. After a phone call and an e-mailed picture of the dog, I drove out to the Healing Heelers Hearts Dog Rescue, still not entirely comfortable turning the pup over to strangers. But my fears were allayed by the compassion I witnessed, and any concerns I had about him getting a home vanished when a woman leaving the shelter grinned and pointed at the puppy. “I want that one!”

The woman was told it would be about two months before he would be ready for adoption, as he needed shots and neutering and some basic training.

The shelter lady, Tonya, looked at me. “He’ll be fine. We have another puppy here he can play with.”

After making a donation, I walked away, taking one last glance at the little dog, whose head rested serenely on Tonya’s shoulder. I wondered how long it would take him to find a forever home.

I would not worry for long. The next day, I looked at the shelter’s Facebook page. And there was the pup, newly dubbed Cruiser.

“What a cutie!” wrote one person in response to his picture.

“I can’t believe how precious and handsome he is,” gushed another. “I’m so interested in him, can’t wait for him to be available for a furever home.”

“I want him!!!” said a third.

And so it went, a long list of folks eager to make the little guy part of their family.

Later, Makayla was not her usual bubbly self.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The puppy. Maybe we could have kept him.” She stared at the floor.

I explained again that she would soon be off to college and would have had to leave the dog behind. And that Tonya would pick him a perfect home.

When she didn’t look convinced, I said, “You know, you saved his life.”

She brightened at the thought.

And so did I.

 

the scent of rain cover 200X300 copy

Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

 

Could you make the call? If things don’t change, you might have to.

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Is sportsmanship getting worse? You bet it is. Which is why there aren’t enough officials to go around. 

The National Association of Sports Officials recently polled over 17 thousand arbiters in an effort to determine how things are going on the fields, courts, and diamonds around the country.

To anyone who has ever donned the uniform, the results were not the least bit surprising. Just over 57% of officials responded “yes” to the question, “Is sportsmanship getting worse?” About 46% have “felt unsafe or feared for their safety because of administrator, coach, player or spectator behavior.”

I have been sports official for almost four decades. I have gone nose-to nose with coaches, close enough to feel their spittle on my face. More than once, I’ve required a police escort to get to my car after a game. I had a tire knifed following a coach ejection. In a sub-varsity high school football game, when I was a nascent official, I remember vividly the moment a coach grabbed one of his players near the sideline. “Hit her on the next play!” he screamed, index finger jabbing in my direction. I stood frozen, unsure of what to do.

Had I been a more experienced official, I would not have had the least compunction about immediately ejecting the coach. Had the player hit me, I might today own the coach’s home, as I would have had him and the player arrested for assault. Thankfully, the boy came nowhere near me that day.

The big problem is that young officials – still learning the trade, uneasy with the requirements of what is mostly a thankless job, and not yet enveloped in that protective shell that reminds us to stay calm and not take attacks personally – are unwilling to weather the constant stream of abuse and are quitting in droves. Add to that decline the huge number of veteran officials who are hanging up their whistles everyday. When you consider that participation levels in youth and high school sports has skyrocketed, it’s easy to see that there’s a massive storm ahead. Because, as much as fans and coaches contend that we are the bad guys, there are no games if we don’t show up. As my favorite T-shirt reads, “Without the Ref it’s only Recess.”

It’s not shocking that most sportsmanship problems are caused by parents. When polled, officials rated the parents the culprits almost 40% of the time, in contrast to 30% for coaches and 10% for players. And where is sportsmanship at it’s worst? Again, no surprises: youth competitive sports account for 36% of the problems.

The point, of course, is that it’s getting rougher out there for those of us who blow whistles or call balls and strikes. Note that officials don’t expect all rainbows and unicorns when they step between the lines, but some basic civility would be nice and it might help us do our jobs just a bit better.

I’d also like to ask each and every parent who has a child participating in youth sports to give the following a try. Step in and make a few calls. Pick up a whistle and see how you do with that one look from one angle that we officials get to see on every play. When you are engulfed in all that swirling action, you make the call. And, maybe, the next time you feel like berating an official, you’ll remember that moment and react with empathy instead of anger.

 

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Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

 

Child brides still legal in 25 States

In my novel The Scent of Rain, 16-year-old Rose is running from a life of abuse and the prospect of forced marriage to a man older than her father. While Rose is a fictitious character, her circumstances are alarmingly real.

Every once in a while, when I’m reading the newspaper, I get squinty. Then my right eye starts to twitch. Just such a scenario occurred earlier this week when I was confronted by the following headline: “Legislature looks to curb child marriages.”

I know what you’re thinking. Why, that sounds like a perfectly lovely idea. Let’s do that!

I felt the need to check the defintion of the word “curb”,  just in case I was having a bit of a brain cramp. And there, in my handy-dandy electronic thesaurus, my worst realizations were confirmed. Curb: to limit, control, reduce, cut back. Not, unfortunately, to end.

I wanted to scream.

The first line of the story, written by Dustin Gardiner of the Arizona Republic said, “Every year, about 100 children get marriage licenses in Maricopa County.” The second sentence was equally horrid: “The vast majority of them are girls marrying older men.”

I live in Maricopa County.

Last year, I published a book titled The Scent of Rain, which details the horrors of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a cloistered cult of polygamists who reside on a north-west border of the state of Arizona, a group that preys on young girls, forcing them into “celestial marriages” with old men. Let’s call these guys what they are: pedophiles.

As I read the following comments, I was glad I’d remembered to take my blood pressure medication.

“Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescot, has been the bill’s most outspoken opponent. He told lawmakers the story of his grandmother and grandfather, immigrants from Ukraine, who married when he was 21 and she was 16. Stringer said they had 10 children.”

Yo! Dave! Back in olden times, girls had virtually no choices. Marriage was pretty much it. Today we educate young women, telling them they can achieve hopes and dreams through hard work and dedication. I wonder if anyone bothered to asked grandma if she had any other aspirations.

Another dissenter to the bill that would simply ask that girls 16 and 17 have their parents’ consent to marry, said, “We know of plenty of exceptions where young girls have been married before they turn 16, happily married to a loving husband with children.”

I was tempted to call Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, to see if he’d give me a list of all those “happy” teens, so that I might asked their opinions. Something tells me he would demur.

According to the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, there are currently nearly 700 million women alive today who were married as children worldwide. And 15 million more are married annually. That this is happening in my country, my state, and my county is appalling. But don’t get too smug. Right now, minors of any age can marry in 25 U.S. states.

I have been a high school teacher for 18 years. I can tell you with complete honesty that I have never meet a teenage girl who was mature enough to marry. Ever.

We have to do better.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/legislature/2018/02/27/hundreds-child-brides-arizona-legislature-looks-restrictions/365193002/

Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

 

The humble T-shirt

Dreamer T

Today, the T-shirt has been converted into a canvas where we display images and ideas that are important to us, and, when taken in their entirety, present who we are and where we stand.

I teach communications skills to high school students. We explore all the different ways we deliver messages to one another: speaking, writing, digital design, radio, video, film.

Recently, I realized I have neglected one of the most common modern modes of communication: the humble T-shirt.

First, a brief history lesson on that most ubiquitous of sartorial artifacts.

“How did the T-shirt become an essential feature in our wardrobes, as necessary as a pair of jeans?” asked Laird Borrelli-Persson in her Vogue article ‘From Marlon Brando to Kendall Jenner, 27 of the Best Classic White T-shirts Ever.’ “The most classic version, a white cotton jersey crewneck that became standard military issue in World War II, is descended from undergarments worn by Navy men in the 1910s. Chanel famously adapted jersey, a fabric traditionally used for underwear, into fashionable womenswear in the twenties, but it would be decades before this hidden staple came out from under, and gradually morphed from a masculine to a unisex garment.”

Today, the T-shirt has been converted into a canvas where we display images and ideas that are important to us, and, when taken in their entirety, present who we are and where we stand.

“The basic tee, after all, is the simplest, easiest piece of clothing imaginable,” Borelli-Persson said. “It’s blank-page quality functions like a screen on which we project our current cultural preoccupations.”

Of course, this idea had me scampering to my closet, where I dove headlong into my stacks of T-shirts, wondering what this mountain of cotton might have to say about me.

I found a multitude of tees identifying me as a teacher: a red and white shirt saying “South Mountain High School Staff,” one displaying the head of a roaring Jaguar, my school’s mascot, and another with swirling stripes reminiscent of a barber pole proclaiming me a “Professional Role Model”, a gift from the student government kids. (See me blush.)

While my school tees denote my present, a bunch of others, similarly themed, represent my future. “St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands,” “Jimmy Buffet: Beach House on the Moon,” “Dive Fiji Islands.” My next adventure, when I retire from teaching – two years to go, but who’s counting – is to move to St. Croix, where I can have my scuba gear at the ready to dive into turquoise waters anytime I wish, and end the day with a cheeseburger in paradise, while I sit on my porch, sipping an adult beverage, as I watch the sun dip into the Caribbean.

Elsewhere in my closet, I located a fading black football shirt, washed so many times the cotton feels like a cloud. White letters spell, “Without the Ref, it’s only recess.” And my blue “Umpire Development” tee, which I wore under my chest protector when I called balls and strikes. Both identify me as a sports official, an avocation I have proudly practiced for almost 40 years. Intermingled with those were myriad tees sporting the emblems of my favorite college and pro teams.

I also have a few tees denoting me as a Maricopa County Public Health Volunteer. We’re the folks that get called up when there’s an especially nasty outbreak of the flu, or a terroristic release of anthrax, or something goes awry at the nuclear power plant. Hopefully, I’ll report when called for duty and not go running about like a four-year-old with my hair on fire.

I have a really beautiful black, red, and white T-shirt with Chinese symbols and letters scrawled on the front, a souvenir from a trip to China a few years back. I asked a couple of my Chinese acquaintances what the writing said. After staring at the shirt intently, they agreed that whoever penned the script had handwriting so poor the meaning is indecipherable. Whenever I don the shirt, I’m reminded of the young lady in Beijing, proudly wearing her English language tee that spelled ACNE in capital letters, so perhaps I really don’t want to know.

At the bottom of the pile, I found a shirt that had the state flag of Arizona on one breast: a gold star on a navy background, streaks of red and gold shooting out, a symbol of one of the things we do best here in the Grand Canyon State – sunsets. The back of the shirt said the following, in multicolored letters: “Arizona Kingship Program.”  Smiling, stick-figure children reclined on top of the words. I received the shirt when I graduated from foster mom school, a crash course in parenting that helped me make what, I hope, were the right choices on the road to helping my three boys – who still call me Mom – become men.

And today, somewhere in the mail, a new t-shirt is heading my way. John Lennon’s face appears as a kaleidoscope of color. Then, the words, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Imagine that.

 

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Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.

Doggy Diagnosis

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Bella, on the right, with her BFF Sadie, who, a few years back, went where ever it is dogs go. My goal is to be allowed access to Doggy Wonderland when I shuffle off this mortal coil. I hope they’ll have me.

 

Bella, my blue-eyed cattle dog, had been acting strangely. Always a good girl, she started chewing up pillows, strewing stuffing-guts all over the back yard. At seven years old, this new behavior made me wonder, and made me glad that, following a recent purchase of four pricey pillows, I had a change of heart, returning them for some that were less expensive.

I considered that we had two new house guests and thought, perhaps, my pup might be jealous. I’ve heard dogs can become afflicted with the green-eyed monster when new babies arrive. So, I sat Bella down and asked. She stared at me lovingly, but wouldn’t say.

The pillow carnage continued. Then, I got a frantic e-mail at school. “Bella’s hurt! She’s crying! What should we do?”

I’m lucky that the folks I work with are animal people. “Go! Go! We’ve got you covered.”

I roared home, picturing all kinds of awful scenarios. I was greeted by Bella, whining miserably, hugging her back leg tightly to her body. When I tried to check the injury, she screamed like she was being electrocuted. I called the vet.

“Keep her calm. Don’t let her move around. We’ll see her in the morning,” the receptionist said.

At 8:00 a.m., Bella and I faced the vet. She frowned. “Looks like she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament,” she said.

Visions of NFL players with wonky knees played in my head.

“Or she could have a fracture. Either way, she’ll probably need surgery.”

The American Express card in my back pocket poked me. “And how much would that cost?” Memories of my year-long financial adventures with Westin the cat still fresh.

“Two to three thousand,” she said. “First, we’ll need to get some x-rays and do some blood work, because she’ll need some medication.”

Understand that I love my dog. Some of you might think ill of me for considering the cost too dear. Bella popped her head onto my lap. I thought about asking if it would be cheaper to amputate. I’ve seen three-legged dogs that do quite well. But I couldn’t bring myself to ask, lest she think me a monster.

The vet bent down, and the moment she touched my sweet dog, Bella screamed.  She squirmed and whined when the doc tried to examine her mouth and leg, and forget about that thermometer in the butt.

“We’ll have to sedate her to get the x-rays.”

Forty minutes and $641.00 later, the vet reappeared with my sleepy dog, who was recovering from anesthesia.

“Well,” she wrinkled her brow. “Her ACL is fine and no fracture, either.” Did the vet seem disappointed? “But we’ll send the x-rays out for another look. And we’ll get her on some anti-inflammatories and pain meds.”

Bella came home, the front leg where they’d inserted the anesthesia needle wrapped in a purple bandage sporting gold sparkles. After a pain pill, she wandered dreamily to my bedroom.

The next day, Bella’s leg was much better. The vet called in the evening with the news that there was nothing – nothing! – wrong with my dog. I squinted at Bella, who was sprawled on my bed.

“Keep up with the anti-inflammatories for five days. Sorry you had to spend so much to find out she’s OK.” The vet seemed genuinely apologetic.

In retrospect, I realize it could have been much worse. Still, the $641 bill rankles. All for a simple diagnosis: my dog’s a drama queen.

 

32337760

Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.