Monthly Archives: March 2016

Why I believe the Bundys’ fight is the wrong one.

Havasu PalmsOur personal experiences shape how we perceive news events. Pet peeves we have are often the result of those experiences, which is why I’ve no sympathy for rancher Cliven Bundy’s imagined cause.

If you can make it through the first half of this article, you’ll come to where I’ll explain why I feel our family had a legitimate gripe against the Department of Interior—suffered real financial losses—and yet, I don’t for a moment  support either Bundy cause—and I don’t believe they have a tangible grievance.

Unless you’ve been following the recent news story of the takeover of the Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and of the subsequent arrests of the armed protesters, you may not remember the case of Cliven Bundy—the father of the group’s leaders—who some say set this news story in motion when he and his armed supporters kept agents of the federal government from confiscating his cattle back in 2014, at his Nevada ranch.

Why did the government want Cliven Bundy’s cattle? Well, cattle ranchers who haven’t enough of their own land to graze their cattle will pay grazing fees to use land belonging to someone else. Grazing fees on Federal land is considerably lower, compared to what ranchers pay to graze on private land. Yet, Bundy decided he didn’t want to pay his fees, and for some twenty years, he grazed his cattle on public lands, without compensating taxpayers and without adhering to environmental restrictions put in place to protect the land from overgrazing.

When the government finally tried to put a stop to his illegal use of public land, Cliven rounded up his armed militia friends and convinced the federal agencies—who didn’t want a blood bath—to back down. This didn’t mean the Feds had given up—they were just regrouping.

Cliven Bundy’s day of retribution has finally come—because he is now behind bars, facing a slew of charges, along with four of his sons, and dozens of his supporters—some facing charges for the 2014 Bundy Ranch incident, some for the Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover, and some for both.

In Oregon, the armed protesters initially demanded the immediate release of the Hammonds, two ranchers who were convicted of arson and required to return to prison to serve out their term. Supporters of their cause call it double jeopardy, yet that’s an inaccurate summation. The Hammonds weren’t tried twice for the same crime. It was instead some snafu, where one court allowed an early release and another cried foul. Were the Hammonds unjustly treated? Perhaps, but even the Hammonds didn’t support the armed takeover.

After the Hammonds quietly returned to prison, and failed to give support to the Oregon takeover, the Bundy’s cause shifted to a demand for the federal government to turn over the federal lands to the state.

That’s a rough summation of the events that led to the current situation, which is the arrest of dozens of their supporters, the death of one of them, and sympathizers moaning about the abuses the Bundy family has endured. This is where I cry bullshit.

If you want to feel outrage over abuses of the federal government, I don’t think the cause is a rancher who refused to pay grazing fees—fees much lower than he would have paid on private land.

I’ve written Havasu Palms, A Hostile Takeover to tell people what happened to our family. In this post, I’ll briefly touch on what happened to us.

Our family leased land from the federal government back in 1967 to develop a resort on Lake Havasu.  The name of our corporation was Havasu Palms. My parents owned 51 percent, and they were the general managers, and my father, a general contractor, was the guy in the trenches, getting the work done—along with the help of mom, and throughout the years, me, my sister, and later, our spouses.

The original lease with the government guaranteed that at the end of the lease Havasu Palms would be financially compensated for any improvements made—or allowed to remove the improvement. The lease stipulated that that would be applicable to any subsequent lease. Sounds good, right?

We ended up building a new marina, restaurant, new store, and 131 space mobile home park. What we didn’t plan on, the feds added the lease land to the nearby Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, and our next lease was with the tribe—which didn’t allow for any compensation for improvements.

In the end, we lost everything—even private property, like my husband’s fork lift, a mobile home, a store full of inventory—and a water ski my sister is still bitching about.

Our lease with the tribe had an arbitration provision, which we took. We won the arbitration, but a federal judge later set aside the judgment, saying it was not in the best interest of the tribe.

That is actually just a snippet of what happened over the course of time—and if you are interested you can read the book, it’s available in paperback and eBook.

At the time our family lost Havasu Palms, my husband and I were its general managers. Mother was a widow by that time, and she foolishly spent all of her money attempting to recoup some of her losses through the courts.  She lost everything—as we eventually did. It was a domino effect.

We suffered through rough, financially challenging years. Friends often ask us, how did you do it? Yet, never once—not once—did we consider taking up arms and threatening government employees. For one reason, the situation was—is—complicated, and I don’t believe the solution for this particular issue is armed insurgence. There are causes I would give my life for; this is not one of them.

Today—life is good. Those rough times got us to where we are today. Mom is 88 and lives with us. While her financial situation never improved after losing everything back then, she still has us, and we have managed to financially rebuild our lives. We live in a home I love, are blessed with an amazing family, and I’m doing what I always dreamed—I’m an author and actually making a good living doing it.

When I think of Cliven Bundy, throwing it all away because he thought it his right to graze his cows for free—I have to shake my head. I don’t get it. Our time here is short. Family is precious. And life is not always fair. But like Job, sometimes we have to deal with it and move forward.

Choose your battles carefully, because, as LaVoy Finicum discovered, sometimes they can kill you.

(Photo: Havasu Palms, California)

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Amazing Dairy-Free Homemade Soft Serve Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream
I’ve come up with a guilt free, healthy, delicious, easy to make, ice cream substitute—and I wanted to share. You‘ll need a Ninja Blender with a 24-ounce blender cup.

This is so easy and low calorie. But if you don’t like dark chocolate, it might not be sweet enough for you. Personally, I’m not fond of  super sweet desserts, so while I really love this, I can’t guarantee you will. But it’s such a healthy alternative, you might want to give it a try. Less than 150 calories.

There is no sugar added. The natural sugars in the banana and the  sweetness of the coconut milk will serve as the sweetener. I prefer the 45 calorie unsweetened coconut milk, but if you use the higher calorie coconut milk with sugar added, it will make the ice cream sweeter.

Its consistency is similar to soft serve ice cream or a thick milk shake.

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ice
Coconut milk

How to make:

Break the banana into 4 pieces and put in the 24-ounce blender cup
Add chocolate
Add vanilla
Add ice—fill to just below the full line
Pour in milk—fill to just below the full line

Blend until completely smooth

Hints:

Before bananas get overripe, I peel and put them in a freezer bag and toss in the freezer. That way I always have a frozen banana to make a quick faux chocolate shake.

Add a couple tablespoons of peanut butter for added protein and flavor.

When you add the ice over the banana, don’t smash down—you need the room around the bananas and ice for the milk to go. You need to keep the total ingredients below the max fill line, so the blender blades screw in easily.

While blending, watch the color slowly change, moving upward (at this point the bottom of the cup is up). When the color has all changed, it is ready to enjoy!

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Follow me, I’ll follow you—is that Twitter?

TwitterblogI did something a little crazy the other day; I started unfollowing people on Twitter. Since cleaning up my account, I feel liberated—while enjoying Twitter more than I ever have.

When I first joined Twitter seven years ago, I really didn’t know what I was doing, so I did nothing. After a few years, I decided to jump in. I did what I was told to do—I started following people and they returned the favor.

After following almost 300 people, I got bored looking for Twitter users. As it was, my feed was filled with tweets I rarely read and most were tweets trying to sell me things I didn’t want, and the tweets I wanted to read were lost in the noise.

When I decided to use Twitter to market my books, an author friend suggested I use a Twitter service to send out regular prescheduled tweets. I gave it a shot, and for several months I sent out dozens of daily tweets, featuring snippets from my books and what I hoped were witty comments, along with links. Not only was it a waste of time, I suspect my followers paid as much attention to my tweets as I did to theirs.

I abandoned the prescheduled tweeting over a year ago and paid little attention to my Twitter account. I would occasionally send out a tweet and rarely read what was in my feed.

Then something happened a couple months ago. A news story caught my attention. Since there wasn’t much about it on my local news, I started checking online for articles—and I eventually went to Twitter, where I found other people discussing the story.

From that point on, my use of Twitter radically changed. No longer was Twitter about marketing my books. It was about engaging in conversations with other people who were interested in topics I wanted to discuss. When watching the presidential debates I could search by hashtags to see what others were saying. Hashtags, I discovered, are essential for initiating and searching Twitter dialogue. They enable users to reach out beyond their followers, and frankly, that’s where you find the interesting stuff.

My epiphany regarding Twitter followers came when one surly Twitter user berated another for having less than a hundred followers—implying whatever this person had to say had little merit—whereas he had over five thousand followers, which of course meant people cared about what he said.

Or did they?

I looked at the number of people he follows. It was no surprise to discover that number exceeds how many people follow him. I doubt if he ever reads his feed—and I suspect the same can be said of those he believes are his “fans.”

That’s when I decided Twitter isn’t about accumulating followers or marketing my books. It’s about engaging in discussions and seeing what others are thinking. It also inspires my writing: story fodder.

So, the other day I went through my account and deleted Twitter users who follow thousands of people—keeping only those who I know, or those whose tweets interest me. I figured, those I deleted probably didn’t read my tweets anyway. I unfollowed people who hadn’t sent out a tweet in a year, and I unfollowed people who did nothing but spam.

Of course, after I unfollowed—people started unfollowing me.

I went from following 380 people to 115. My followers dropped from 481 to 445, in spite of the fact I picked up a few new followers during my recent Twitter activity. I imagine I will continue to drop followers after some check their reports.

Now I’m doing something I haven’t done since starting Twitter—I am regularly reading my feed. I’m also engaging with other users who share information I find interesting.

Twitter, it seems, is nothing as I originally imagined when I joined seven years ago.

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