March 26/17 —-more pictures from Big Bend trip

A very flattering picture of me, by June, which is why I included it. This is when we finally made it to the top of the Laguna Verde trail. There’s a forest up there! Farther down on the valley floor it is all desert. Walked back into the pines and saw a buck with a great rack of horns who was not at all afraid of me but I think something was wrong with him. He staggered a little. Odd.

 

Lunch at the old ranch house at the bottom of the Blue Creek trail.

Living through the extremely hot summers would probably have been bearable in a stone house like this. That’s the fireplace.

Evelyn taking pictures.

And Happy Birthday to Caroline Woodward-George! Belated, but at any rate best wishes for a great year! They are babysitting the light station at Nootka. Nootka; Land Of Whales. Which is cool because Caroline’s father was from Whales, she is half whelsh.

 

 

March 18/17 More from Around the web.

February 20, 2017

My sexual assault by the TSA

It was an excellent week-long trip my husband Keith and I took to Arizona to take the 250 Pistol Class from Gunsite Academy. The week ended, and it was time for us to fly back home this past Saturday, February 18th. While I have gone through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regional airport checkpoints since its spawning after 9-11, I had not yet gone through a TSA checkpoint at a major airport. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a major airport, and on Saturday, I was immersed there in one of those TSA “horror stories” about which I had previously only read.

My very dim view of the TSA has been shaped by all the reports of corruption, misconduct, molestation and sexual assault, theft, abuse of power and ineptitude by the TSA. To find these stories, you need only do an Internet search with any of those terms along with “TSA.” In addition to all that, air travelers in the United States are now stupidly forced to remove their shoes because of one Muslim maniac.

Needless to say, as we stood in the moderately long line of the Sky Harbor TSA security checkpoint, I was not happy and only wanted it to be over. We finally arrived at the x-ray conveyor belt with all the gray plastic bins into which we had to put our shoes, belts, purses, bags, watches, cell phones, laptops and anything in our pockets. When flying, I always try to wear nothing that would cause the x-ray imaging machines to raise an alert. So, I wore no belt or any jewelry. I had nothing in my pockets. I only carried my small purse, and I wore blue jeans, a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and simple leather boots. I removed my boots and placed them and my purse into two of the bins and pushed them on toward the x-ray screener.

I was directed into the – what I call a “rape scan” – body imaging machine. As you may know, we are forced to stand inside it for several seconds with our arms held up as if we’re common criminals, and the machine does a circular spin around our bodies. When the scan was done, a black woman told me to step out of the machine. I’m guessing this woman was probably in her early thirties. She directed my attention to the human body outline image on a screen outside the machine, which displayed the supposed results of my scan. There were “warning” boxes superimposed directly on the crotch, one knee and one ankle area, which I instantly knew were bogus.

Because of those flags, she informed me I would be subjected to an enhanced pat-down. I numbly looked at the entirely phony warning box images on the screen, knowing that with the advanced imaging capabilities of that machine, it would not possibly have “seen” any kind of threat anywhere on my body, much less between my legs. Nevertheless, I stood there silently with a smoldering outrage welling inside me as this girl described the sexual assault she was about to undertake on my body.

I hardly heard what she was saying she was about to do, because I was so angry knowing that this was a fake result, either from the machine or from someone’s arbitrary decision to subject me to this despicable, Fourth Amendment-crushing, far-beyond-unreasonable search. She finished her little speech by asking me if I preferred [my sexual assault] to be done in a “private room” or right where we stood in front of hundreds of onlookers. I was barely able to mumble a “here” with an indication of my hand gesturing down to the yellow footprint stickers on the floor where I was to place my feet.

She required me to assist her in my sexual assault. I had to lift my shirt to give her clear access to my waistband, into which she thrust her blue-latex-gloved fingers and ran them all around the front and back of it. She made me hold my pants in place from the top as she crouched down and firmly ran her hands from the top of my legs to the bottom, both front, back and sides. She firmly pushed and rubbed her hands between my legs, the entire area – THE ENTIRE AREA – from the front and back.

She finally directed me to hold out my hands, palms up, as she swabbed them with damp squares of white tissue, which she inserted into a machine that I assume “sniffed” for explosive residue. When it gave my hands the all-clear, she indicated that I was free to go.

At that point, I was fairly blind with rage. Shakily, gritting my teeth hard enough to beat the band, I went and retrieved my boots and purse from the end of the screener belt several yards away, where they had remained while I got the enhanced grope-down. I was glad no one had taken my purse. Keith had been moved along after going through security, and from his viewpoint was unable to see my belongings or what was happening to me.

Still seeing red, I slowly walked to a chair near the TSA checkpoint to put on my boots. I was shaking with rage, and my husband had to quickly talk me down from reacting to the powerful anger that was exploding in my mind. The sickening feelings of rage, helplessness and violation continued to roil in me for the rest of the day.

What can I do? File a complaint with the TSA? Yeah, right. Call my congressman? And get a nice form letter reply in the mail in a month or so? Yeah, no. I’m powerless here, as are the many other people who have been sexually assaulted by the TSA. Maybe you’d like me to tone it down a notch and call it “molestation” or merely “groping,” but I know what happened to me, and in any other situation, it would be legally regarded as sexual assault. If an ordinary person did to me what that woman – by authority of bad law – did to me, he would go to jail.

The TSA should be dismantled. Airport security needs to be returned to the airlines and local airports. The federal government’s takeover of airport security screening after 9-11 has only created yet another unaccountable, monstrous bureaucracy that continues to grow in corruption, especially under Obama’s recent lawless reign. Free-born American citizens should not have to abide such degenerate despotism in the name of “security.” The TSA has seized illegitimate power in its random imposition of unreasonable searches on innocent airline passengers. If the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution means anything, then the TSA must go.

© Gina Miller

Finally more pictures from the Big Bend trip, last of February 2017

Started out February 23 and as always on the 25th June, April and Evelyn went up to Alpine to the Cowboy Poetry Festival, I never go because by that time I need a day alone. I had just got back from Jackson/Savannah 2 days before, on the 20th, had to pack for me, Buck, Girl Dog. Rode with Evelyn in her terrific beautiful comfortable new truck, hauled Buck and her horse Anna in my trailer.

 

Girl Dog slept all the way. BTW I have no idea why my entries all end up in a column on the left side, will have to get Harold to come and do something about it.

Tricky curves getting into the Chisos Basin and unloading Buck at the house we rent. We were very glad to get there!

Sunset view from the house we rent.

That’s me, June and April. On the Laguna Meadows trail.

After a day’s ride everybody hitting their phones and laptops.

 

 

 

Today was the fall of the Alamo March 6

Strange painting, black-and-white, photographic.

They were fighting for the Mexican constitution of 1824.  Santa Ana wanted to simply overthrow it and its guarantees by force of arms and become a dictator with no limits on his behavior. Which he succeeded in doing. Eventually.

2/28/17 Big Bend Trip — our fifth year

More to come. At the Panther Junction ranger station and gift shop I found this book —I recommend it strongly. A desert explorer worked for (I think) the Forestry service tracing out waterholes in remote US deserts, many adventures, wonderful writing.

More pictures later. This is the first time I was on the Chisos Mountain trails, mainly up to Laguna Meadows. Hikers were endless. We met people about every mile, groups. They got off the trail for us although we tried to give walkers the right-of-way.

Lunch at an abandoned ranch house.

On the Laguna Meadows trail.

Book tour Jackson Mississippi and Savannah Georgia Feb. 16-19 / 17

Both cities were great, in Jackson I read and spoke at the Eudora Welty Center right next to the Welty house — was given a private tour of the house, much appreciated. Saw several of her manuscripts laid out on a dining room table — I mean ones she had edited and noted how she had arranged syntax to get rid of ‘and’s. Wonderful audience. A man named Richard (didn’t get his last name) spoke of his favorite passage in NOTW and I asked him to read it aloud, and he did, he did a great job.

We are nearing Mardi Gras and so it’s King Cake time in the south! This was at the little deli outside of Lemuria Bookstore, They are flying off the shelves. Great bookstore, thanks to Kelly Pickerill of Lemuria for being a great hostess and escort, more later.

This is Mardi Gras staring you in the face. I love the south.

Savannah Book Festival was extravagant to say the least, I had a very large crowd of people to speak to, great questions, much enthusiasm for the Captain and Johanna. Met Mark Hall’s mom and dad, so that was a bit from home. Mark is our baritone and guitar player for the bluegrass group. Got to walk around afterwards and take pictures. Savannah is just extravagant. Case in pint; lobby of restaurant in my hotel, The Mansion:

I will not include pictures of my Gone With The Wind bedroom and bathroom, that is just too redneck. But details were everywhere, backstairs and window facings.

and spooky houses on one of the squares at dusk

And an art museum horse with garden hose wrapped around his middle. Loved it! Wish I had it. Don’t know what I would do with it.

Four of us are hauling to Big Bend Wednesday, close on the heels of my return from Savannah, but couldn’t NOT go, it is a yearly tradition that I look forward to so much, pictures to come. We each take a dinner, so will make the King Ranch chicken tomorrow and try to clean up Buck who is plastered with mud from recent rains and before I go catch up on e-mail and an article for the Amtrack magazine. I am meeting myself coming and going. But no more traveling after this (I get nervous every time I have to pass through security now, an awful feeling) and back to bluegrass and writing and pennywhistle.

 

Feb. 13th / ’17

A good picture of my cousin Susan on Doc, from last October. The sacred light of holy Ozark Mountain horse spirits shining down on her. I don’t know what she’s doing — talking on a phone? Where’s the phone?

And here is Happy Hour at St. Joes’ the best trailer food in the country, run by June’s son Chris Chism. That’s June and Peggy Ramsay, in the background June’s sister Jeannie and April Baxter.

It was a BYOB evening, warm south Texas winter while storms and snow are hitting the north-east. Sorry guys.

And these are Peggy Ramsay’s new boots and no, I do not have any idea why this photo was so skewed.

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 9/2017

Had been hearing a dog barking to the north of the house, down in the woods, along Billy Moore’s fence line, But every time I went down there — silence. Girl Dog went with me but didn’t alert on anything. Finally the third day I searched and searched and found a young black lab, female, caught in a snare. It had cut deeply into her paw. She must have been there three days without food or water.

 

So she is with me now and going to the vet tomorrow to check the paw. It is cut to the bone. Now I have to find a home for her. Girl Dog never paid her the slightest bit of attention, even when I carried her home in the golf cart — Girl Dog’s own golf cart!

And so I have figured out how to avoid TSA’s groping — I will wear a hijab. I am not kidding.

 

February 2/17 TSA GROPING

 

That’s not me, of course, but I have been subjected to TSA invasive pat-downs now three times on my book tour travels, even though I have Pre-Check.

Is Pre-check just a scam? It is no good, doesn’t help you.

I have decided I can’t take it any more and I will refuse absolutely the next time they tell me to step aside for major groping. It is horrible, humiliating, and they always loudly announce everything so the passengers and security all around will look over as they stick their hands into everything.

‘Now I am going to touch your genital area! Now I am going to press my hand against your breasts!”

Which guarantees you no privacy, no way to avoid the horrified stares of passengers — men and women — all around. This has happened to me now THREE TIMES.

The next time I will refuse, they will escort me from the airport, and I will never fly again, quite happily. What a joyous day that will be. Never again creeping unhappily through security thinking  ‘Maybe I can slip through, maybe this time they won’t make me stand and be groped!’

This last time I went through the body – scan and then also the groping. Why? Who knows?

The first time was last spring, St. Louis trip, to read at St. Louis Public Library. Forced to go through the scanner for no known reason, had my hands wiped, and then the horrible groping.

Next time: Asheville NC, in October. The girl at the entry said my ticket name Paulette Jiles, didn’t match my ID name, Texas driver’s license says my married name, Paulette Jiles-Johnson. This meant a really horrible groping by a big woman in a nearly-empty airport who said loudly ‘Now I am going to touch your genital area! Now I am going to press my hand against your breasts!’ I just stared off into the distance.

She said in a loud voice ‘Are you listening to me!!?’ You figure that out.

This last time was going to San Francisco, last weekend. I was ordered to go through the body scanner when I had six minutes to catch my plane. I was late. So naturally they had to subject me to AGAIN the body scanner and then I had to take off my shoes, and then my sweater, and get groped by a TSA woman. I kept saying why? Why? I’ve already been through the scanner! ‘Now I am going to touch your genital area! Now I am going to press my hand against your breasts! And they stick their hand down into your waistband and you have to stand there with your feet apart and your hands out to the side like a dirty low criminal.

And so one of them said, ‘It was probably your wrist brace’. This is from when I broke my arm. So I took it off and threw it in their wastebasket.  The I just ran for my plane to Dallas/Frisco.

I was just about in a state of terror returning. That ticket also just said Paulette Jiles (instead of like my driver’s license which say s Paulette Jiles-Johnson) and I thought Oh my God no! Not again! But the TSA woman just looked at the two and said ‘Go on’. Totally arbitrary, totally up to their whims.

But it’s not going to happen any more. I don’t think they can handcuff you and force you to endure a groping if you refuse, you just get thrown out of the airport, which to me would be a very very happy day. No more flying for me! Yay! I would be delighted if I never had to get on a plane again.

So no matter where I am, San Francisco or anyplace else, I will refuse to let these people humiliate me in front of everybody in a public place. I will get home by train or whatever, any way I can. I am telling my publicity agent at Harper Collins that I am going to refuse to get groped, scanned and felt up again.

And so here are some pictures from San Francisco, the wonderful bookstore called Book Passage in Sausalito. . I did not feel happy after having gone through TSA abuse and humiliation but I did my best to speak, sign books and be charming.

Here were the flowers in the lobby of the hotel — they were really very calming and beautiful and I just stood and looked at them for a long time.

 

Fantasylandia; Friday Jan 27th/17

Beautiful photo, seems from a fantasy novel. Taken by Sylvie Collier, somewhere outside of Sapa, Vietnam. These are old bamboo water wheels, with the Tien Sa waterfalls on left.  Found this in a photography magazine which I was reading while sitting at the clinic waiting for my allergy shot.

Traveling for book signings. San Francisco this weekend, then Feb. 6th to Jacksonville MS and then Savannah Georgia, and it doesn’t end there. Message from Michael Ondaatje, will see him and Linda in San Francisco, at the Book Passage signing, hooray! It’s been forever.

‘Angels and Demons In the Ozarks’ will come out in Harvard Review 50th anniversary edition, not sure when. I wrote it quickly, short piece.