Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Day After

Yesterday was a sucky day and not just because my kitty Mary decided moments after I put my good heavy winter quilt on the bed and changed the bed linens to puke right on it all. I spent the day like many others, glued to the media coverage of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  Such young children!

Really, something so horrifying to the imagination that you just cannot wrap your mind around it. Most of the mass shootings have occurred at high schools and the occasional college. Not that any school being the target is ever right but you just do not picture an elementary school filled with kindergarteners and first graders to be the prime target in a shooting. Moody teens, yes, drama galore without adding in weapons.

Knowing that twenty two children in China were stabbed by an assailant for no known reason yesterday leads me to wonder what's going on in our society that people crack and attack randomly. Why? Is the stress and pressure too much for some?

At least those twenty two are going to live according to the news reports I saw this morning. The same cannot be said of the twenty kids that were shot yesterday. They are laying in a morgue.

As a mother my heart goes out to the families affected and as a mother I have to ask why the assault rifle ban was allowed to lapse? No one not military has any reason to possess one.

I know what you're thinking, that I'm just another clueless liberal spouting crap about gun control. Nope, I've always been for gun control, after living in Europe for some years, where handguns are banned but you can still own a hunting rifle. Death by gun is very rare in Europe compared especially to here. I don't want to take guns away from everyone, just assault weapons and handguns.

Keep hearing people harping on the Second Amendment. I cannot imagine that the founding fathers had in mind for citizens to own such powerful weapons. The way it reads I can well see that they were thinking that everyone that wants to own a hunting rifle can,,, just not this mess. I don't think ICM missles and flame throwers were quite what they had in mind.

It could escalate like it did in this very funny movie starring the Wayans Brothers..





But to be serious again, where does it stop? What weapons are enough?

Yesterday I had another in a series of disturbing phone calls with a close relative in which she said this shooting was all the fault of the liberals for not allowing teachers to carry guns in the school. I didn't bother arguing with her and pointing out that the guns that had killed the teachers and children had come from the home of a teacher. Adding more guns to the equation is not going to solve anything, merely leave a trail of bodies, even more bodies.

As tragic and horrible as the shooting is I think it's time in this country that we open a dialogue about violence and how to keep dangerous assault weapons out of the hands of those with no real use for them. Keeping those things in your home is just a recipe for disaster.

My uncle was a big NRA supporter and used to mock most of us in the family for not having guns around. Oh, how he bragged at every family gathering how his kids had been trained to shoot, how the guns were always locked up and how they were as safe as can be at his house because any intruder would have his ass riddled with bullets.

You know what happened next? Cousin #1 took one of Daddy's high powered semi automatic guns out of the supposedly locked gun cabinet, put it to the back of Cousin #2's head and blew his head off. This happened one January afternoon in that roughly 90 minute time span between arriving back home from middle school and the parents coming home from work. The most dangerous time of the day for kids alone.

The locked gun cabinet didn't stop what happened. The lock on the gun didn't stop it either. Even with so-called safety protections we still ended up burying my middle school aged cousin after his brother killed him with a gun that was supposedly out of his reach. Where there's a will, there's a way for a kid to get around the safety features.

Cousin #1 didn't just ruin his brother's life, he ruined his own. Since the shooting when he was 12 he's struggled with alcohol, drugs and mental health issues. He's been in and out of facilities and every attempt he makes to lead a 'normal' life has failed him.  Plus his parents and other siblings have never been the same. That one action of his has taken down the lives of just about his entire family circle.

Kids and guns never mix.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Real REAL Life?

Since the presidential elections I keep seeing Mitt Romney popping up in photos acting like *gasp!* a normal person! I'm sure you've seen those photos too, Mitt picking up an entire Thanksgiving meal from Boston Market, gassing up his vehicle, shopping at Costo, etc..

Most of my liberal friends are determined that all these photos add up to some sort of 'Hey I'm Just Like You!" posturing and fakery.

But why? What good would it do now? Not a bit of good. If he'd have shown glimpses of the real Mitt Romney, the guy that comes out of Costo with paper plates, toilet paper and paper towels just like every other one of us poor schlubs out here it might have helped him win more votes.

I didn't vote for Mitt, he made me very nervous over many things, mostly that I couldn't tell exactly what it was he believed in. I suspect many of the people that voted for the other side might have voted for Mitt had he just let his barriers down and showed that paper plate toting, hugging his wife while she heated up the dinner from Boston Market or just once been spotted doing some every man activity.

This is a big part of the problem in politics in my mind. You cannot tell who or what your politician is. There is no commonality between the candidates and their supporters. Which is really stupid because above all, if the president or the guy who rides on the back of the garbage truck and everyone in between should feel comfortable enough to be who they are instead of some jumped up polished creation of someone else's idea of what they should be.

Authentic people, not masks. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Christmas Letter

Okay, I'm going to rant and rant loudly today.

Why? I just received my annual Christmas letter from my Maw in Law. Every year it's the same thing, loads of praise for my husband's brother, the yuppie with issues against his sibling.  Praises for the brother, bragging on what my sister-in-law does, even if the brother is now married to a different woman. Scant one line mention of my husband. No mention of me or our kids.

I don't care so much about not being mentioned but I have always resented the fact that Maw-in-law brags and brays about the brother in these letters, paragraphs worth, while Jim is rarely mentioned. Jim, sweet guy with a big heart that helps so many people and works hard while taking pride in what he does. I guess normality is just not glamorous compared to us.

We rarely rate more than a simple mention while entire chapters are written about the brother in law the VP and loads about Mrs. Brother in law. I guess it's not very exciting that Jim and I are merely working with the nose to the grindstone, busy with work, family, church and living a regular folks kind of life when the brother is jetting off overseas with his job and the Mrs. is busy building a new home for them and selling their other homes. We can't compete with that.

The particularly sad part of all of this is that Jim put his life on hold for over a month to take care of his mother, set up her financials so that she didn't have to worry and took care of many other things once it became obvious that Maw-in-law was never returning to her tidy apartment in the retirement villa. He did a lot for her once she became ill but all Maw-in-law could say in her letter was how won-der-ful she's been cared for by the brother and new wife.

It was very stressful on Jim and he struggled to do the right things for his mother. Shortly before my husband came home his brother swooped in and moved the Maw-in-law to his town to a nursing home there and his wife has been in charge of the Maw-in-law.

His new wife I've only met a grand total of once, two Christmases ago. The main impression I came away with was that she was so busy in the family trying to make everyone like her, like life is a popularity contest. My inner warning whistle went off when I met her. I can't explain it but...

This is just the topper of booking airline tickets to go to the city they all live in. Jim told me we could stay in one of the brother's three homes. Jim emails them with the dates we'll be down to see them and the Maw-in-Law and asks if it's okay to stay with them only to be given a huge pile of excuses as to why we cannot stay with them. So we're renting a hotel to stay in for the week and Jim is pissed.

I had a sneaking suspicion that something like this might go down because of the fact that Maw-in-law was back in the hospital in September and diagnosed with terminal cancer, given six months to live. Brother made stink about how we didn't come down to help them take care of Maw-in-law. Jim didn't have any sick days left to go down for another month

Jim's brother has always looked down upon us and once told me that he resented the ridiculous amount of attention his parents focused on Jim because Jim had some medical issues as a kid. Brother complains that Jim robbed him of a childhood.

Thought perhaps as that it's obvious that the Maw-in-law is dying that.the brother would be able to bond some with my husband and we'd all pull together in the end. Stupid petty old family history! Gonna make Christmas a bitch, a big old bitch I'd rather not experience.

I can tell it's going to be awfully hard to bite my lip and not tell them all to go to hell.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Authoritative Marriage?

A couple of days ago I posted something by Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy ministries at No Longer Quivering in our new feature Quoting Quiverful. I was a fundigelical for many years and would have tried to believe and implement what that Debi Pearl quote says but now I've walked away from that whole controlling abusive mindset.

“…first know that a husband has authority to tell his wife what to wear, where to go, whom to talk to, how to spend her time, when to speak or not to, even if he is unreasonable and insensitive.”
Just reading that small quote from Pearl's book "Created To Be His Help Mate" makes me want to hurl things and dirty language her way. I know my marriage could never work that way. Hell, we really tried to do that but it just makes both Jim and I uncomfortable.

Some men, Jim included, don't function well when they have to lord it over their spouse and make all the decisions. Example? My yesterday.

Yesterday morning I had to trade cars with Jim and drop his off at the mechanics shop. One of the mechanics at the shop took a look at the car last week and said the noise we both kept hearing was a bearing that needed replacing.

But when I drove the car there I noticed the noise was louder and located in the engine compartment. When I reached the car repair place I told the mechanic that would be working on it that there was engine noise too and that I wanted it checked out as well.

Later the shop called to tell me that the noise was not the bearings and that the bearings did not need replacement. What was wrong was that the serpentine belt  was worn out and making noise. The compressor for the air conditioning was loose too. After the belt replacement and compressor being tightened down there was no more noise. They also asked me if I wanted them to do an oil replacement because of the mileage on the oil tag on the window and the fact that the oil in the engine looked darker than normal. Sure, I told them to go ahead and do it all.

So if I'm following Debi Pearl's words I don't dare venture an opinion or approve any of the work because this is a man's territory. But I think it's a more healthy opinion when both the husband and wife work together and trust each other enough to know if the other partner makes a decision on something they are dealing with it's one for the good of their life together. We both have different and the same roles in our live together, sometimes it's him making the decision to get the oil changed, sometimes it's my call.

I often wonder how those types of ladies, the submitting making no real decisions types, would survive as a widow or single woman? Is it okay to make your own decisions if there's not some man standing over you telling you want to do?

It must be like being thrown into the middle of the ocean with only a puny set of Floaties to help you. Overwhelmingly scary.

You might be submissive to your husband but it is pure foolishness not to know how to do things like change your own car tire or balance the check book or understand how your insurance policy works. Just knowing how to budget the household income and having some oversight of the monthly bills is useful. When husbands control everything to the extent in that Debi Pearl quote it reduces men to the plantation oversee and everyone else a cotton picker with no understanding of anything beyond pulling the white fluffiness that is cotton from a cracked brown cotton bole.

Reduces a woman to the level of a child. How on earth can you be a "help mate" when you have no knowledge of many things. Help Mate suggests to me a type of egalitarianism, partners working side by side in trust and love together. 


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Hurlarrific!

The new medicine isn't going so well. I took the first dose yesterday afternoon and by five pm three things had happened. 1 - I could not stop shaking, 2 - my heart rate sped up to ridiculous speeds, and 3 - I started feeling like I was a bare edge of hurling.

After sleeping on it I'm still on the bare edge of hurling but am not shaking or having a racing heart. I just didn't sleep more than two hours last night so I am feeling very odd today.

Andy got several pizzas from my favorite joint and I've had to run upstairs to hide from the smell.

So much for this switcheroo of medication. Back to the drawing board.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Suppressed

I started early today with the best of intentions to get a pile of things done but my day refused to cooperate, taking a hard left turn into chaos. Everything that could go wrong or slow me down did. Finally I just gave up and did laundry all day. When in doubt, iron those jeans out.

Patheos was busy switching NLQ over onto a new server or some other upgrade and I was completely unable to get in and update until mid afternoon, which threw my day all out of wack. So I worked on a new project I'm going to be unveiling soon involving the attire of Muslim women and how they are perceived and treated in the good old US of A. Started the laundry between coding bouts.

But the day didn't devolve into suckage until I went for my Xolair injections to my pulmo. The office was jammed crammed pack with the wheezing & sneezing. I have had a cold followed by a sinus infection while my allergies went into high gear for weeks upon weeks now. I should buy stock in Kleenex because I run through so many tissues to blow my drippy nose that I probably affect their bottom line.

Complained to my doc about my constant allergies now and he switched my meds around. Switched out some of the simpler allergy meds I'd been using in conjunction with the other prescriptions for a leukotrinine suppressor. So I'm on a leukotrinine suppressor, a Mast cell suppressor, a IgE suppressor, a proton pump suppressor. I'm feeling pretty suppressed at this moment.

By the time I waited at the doctors, dropped off my prescription, picked up my prescription, picked up a gallon of milk, went to the cable company and came home over three hours had passed and all passed in our tiny little town you can traverse the length of in ten minutes. Late afternoon, entire day shot with the exception of all the nice clean laundry.

But the warning labels on the new drug I'm taking worried me and I started having second thoughts about switching meds regimen. It's never reassuring when you read that seizures, sleep walking, sleep sex, sleep eating, aggression and hostility can all be side effects of the new med. I finally screwed up my courage, swallowed the first pill with one eye on the long warnings list. Only side effects so far are is that once it kicked in I got horribly nauseated and could not stop shaking but finally even those abated. I hate that the FDA uses most of us as unpaid guinea pigs on these drugs they push through approval so quickly.

Sometimes I wish I was still a stoner and wonder if smoking pot might ease my allergies. This new drug isn't working as well as I hoped it might. Nose still dripping like a faucet but I still feel a bit queasy.

Wish I still believed that God would heal all your ills if you just believed enough and got the right people to lay on hands and pray for you. Might be easier than being a walking science experiment.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Christmas Improvisations

Put up the outside Christmas lights this afternoon. Which was something of a challenge.

Back in the fall Jim took down the huge ligustrum bushes that had completely engulfed the front flower beds no matter how often he or I trimmed them. Jim had only meant to trim them but ended up cutting them level with the ground. I don't know if they'll try to come back or not in the spring but I've already planted one bed with all spring bulbs and have enough Mexican zinnia seeds to plant in both beds from our zinnias this year.

There was just one or two problems with cutting down those bushes. Every single year since we moved in I would cover those bushes with oodles of strings of colored lights for Christmas. Jim used to tease me that when I wired up the bushes and plugged it in the axillary breakers at the nearby nuclear power plant must have switched on, just like when Clark W. Griswold turned on his lights in 'Christmas Vacation'.



It's not quite like this at our house but Jim acts as though it is when they all get plugged in!

It's more like this picture I took in the dead of night after a record snowfall in early December three years ago.

I love this shot of my house at midnight during a very heavy snowfall.

That strange glow was coming from my bushes in front of my neat little Cape Cod house during a heavy snowfall that was over a foot at that point. So much snow had fallen that the lights on the left hand bushes were almost completely covered. The lights on the right survived unscathed due to the tree.

But I did finally figure out a way to use our outdoor lights without bushes. Got out all the tomato cages I could rustle up from the garden, turned them upside down and wrapped them with lights. Not as impressive as our six foot tall electrified bushes but still cute.

It was a bummer to discover that fully three quarters of the lights we had were dead. It worked out that I had exactly enough of different lights to do up the tomato cages as trees.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post Thanksgiving & Assumptions

We had Thanksgiving this year at my eldest daughter's house and I'm grateful there was no drama, no passive-aggressive snipes taken at anyone. But I think everyone to too tired and worn out to create any drama.

Which is good. I associate family gatherings with drama ever since I was a small child. Adults would consume lots of adult fermented beverages and then old wounds would be picked apart. If the holiday didn't end with someone stomping away yelling it wasn't a holiday.

I try to keep my house a haven of calm and quiet because of tension, fighting and drinking in my family of origin.

But that's not always because I'm calm or reasonable. About a week before Thanksgiving I got a note from someone I knew at my old crazy church telling me she'd been praying for me and my falling away from the Lord. She wanted permission to have her mother give me words of prophesy direct from the Lord concerning my life so I could get back on the straight and narrow. I wasn't calm and reasonable after receiving that missive.

I was inwardly verklemping about her email for the better part of the week. How dare she assume I'm an atheist just because I no longer go to church at Dysfunction Junction Central?

Prophetic words? Oh please! I have had piles of those through the years and most of them are so far off script there is just no way they are words from God, Satan or any other deity, just a bunch of made up gobblety-gook. No way will I ever believe another random person that claims to have words of knowledge from God for me. If I need validation for who I am in God I'll read the New Testament or pray myself for guidance. No more filtering everything through a third party.

I was itching to reply back to this young lady and ask her who was going around saying I was an atheist, who was her source of information because it was flawed. If she was so damn curious about my religious beliefs then why didn't she contact me at any point in the last six years since I left and ASK me. She says she is concerned and loves me. Then why nothing for six years now? Some love of Jesus, some real concern huh?

Pretty sad considering we used to be friends. In fact, I'd spent just about every Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was in town with this young lady and her mother at different dinners and social functions. 

Instead I'm ignoring her email. There's nothing I can say that would change her mind about who I am and there's nothing she could say that I likely wouldn't react badly to. It's a true Mexican standoff.

I am sick to death of the so-called friendship and sisterhood of various people I knew in my old world that put me down as persona non-grata the second I switched churches. It was a shock to discover how fragile and weak the bonds of sisterhood actually were.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lies Believed About Emotions

I remember back when I was going to my old church and I was having troubles dealing with a lot of the rules and regulations being preached at me. While I did keep trying to have another baby I either ignored while feeling guilty or decided something was utter bullshit while feeling guilty that I wasn't a good believer. I tortured myself with guilt, guilt over things that seem so completely absurdist now.

Example: I worked outside of the home because that was the way my husband wanted it. Instead of telling myself that it was alright regardless of how hands on crunchy home schooling bread baking mom everyone else at the Creek was because I was honoring my husband's wishes. I'd torment myself and tell myself that I must be doing something wrong because if  I was submitting properly and honoring my husband then he'd step up and be the patriarchal spiritual leader that everyone elses husbands seemed to be. He'd know then that I was supposed to stay home, home school, bake bread and stay sweet instead of wearing a business suit and working in an office as a professional.

Pulled two ways at once and politely criticized over every decision first by the condemning Greek chorus in my head and later by the 'oh bless your heart!' squad of stay at home mommas at our church. I didn't fit in anywhere, I was twix and tween two different worlds, forced to do a high wire balancing act while still being responsible for all the cooking, cleaning and yard work while working forty hours outside of the home.

One weekend I found myself at the yearly womens retreat just a few hours from home in a big fancy hotel. I was struggling and dealing with who I really was because of my foot in each camp and the massive guilt plus feeling that I was failing on all fronts. I remember feeling utterly alone in a ballroom filled with ladies who seemed to have it all together. I knelt and cried, praying to God, asking Him to show me who I was because I didn't know any longer who I was. I cried a lot that weekend, this session was no different.

I didn't hear anything. I sat down again, dispirited and tired and started idly leafing through the steno book I still to this day carry everywhere with me. I'd learned years ago that carrying one was the easiest way to stay organized for me, for the job, for the home, for the church. Jot down tasks to do, shopping lists, sermon notes, reminders, scratch them off one by one. Small enough to toss in any purse or lap top bag, always handy for writing down things to remember.

This particular book I'd grabbed had copious notes at the front of it for a comedy site I'd worked on with a few friends, some funny ideas, sketches of worship flags and paintings, funny observations on the people around me at church and work, strange little caricatures I'd drawn during long meetings. It held even lyrics and notes from worship songs I'd woken up from sleep singing.

The more I leafed through the notebook, the more I felt like God was telling me this was who I was, who I was created to be, a creative person, an artist, someone that always found the funny side of things. I started feeling much better, realizing that I was torturing myself over things.

As I started to smile our pastor's wife asked me why I'd gone from tears to smiles in a few minutes. I didn't elaborate about my interior struggle about my role in the universe of Fundy, I just said I'd been reminded who I was by the Lord and that your own emotions can sabotage you, they can lie to you.

I got the standard 'take every thought captive' lecture from her. She kept telling me that my own misery was manufactured in my own mind. All I had to do was change my thinking.

Stupid me, I believed it, stopping believing my emotions meant anything real. I questioned most of them, suppressed a lot of them. I suspect that is one of the reasons that when I left Possum Creek Church that I raged and went through such terrible pain, everything I'd not allowed myself to think about or feelings I'd turned off emerged once dear sisters and brothers in Christ made it their business to make sure I didn't leave and if I did that I knew I was now bound for hell.

It was ugly, messy, an emotional self-flagellation that I could have possibly avoided if I'd only allowed myself to think critically about things and I had felt and owned my own emotions. It was like something I'd laid away, food left in a tupperware container out in the sun for years, what remained was awful.

What I know now and I should have known then that emotions aren't culprits. They are just what we're feeling, they may not even be rooted in reality but they are ours. Trying to suppress your emotions can make you quite sick. You must deal with your emotions.

Example: Right around the time we left our old church my asthma went from annoyance level to severe. I'd be exposed to something as simple as someone mopping the floor with a chemical based cleanser or smelling someone nearby eating peanut butter, or heavy cologne. My airways would shut rapidly and my throat would swell. I'd medicate immediately, sometimes using my Epipen and as the adrenaline, epinephrine and/or aburerol and other meds pulsed through my body my blood pressure would drop and I'd have a full fledged panic attack brought on by the chemical reactions taking place in my body.

The first time it happened I was flipping out because my body and my emotions were telling me I was dying. If you've never had a panic attack all I can say is that it feels like the end of the world. Awful. Feels like I imagine dying might feel. I felt like hiding and would sometimes climb under my desk to hide.

But I learned to deal with that after I learned things that helped me deal with the surging emotions being caused by the chemical reactions. I learned to keep a wicker basket under my desk stocked with a pillow, small afghan, flashlight, bottle of water, bottle of Ativan and a pile of Mad magazines. When I had an asthma induced panic attack I would give in to my desire to hide, I'd climb under the desk, take an Ativan, drink some water and lay down to read a Mad magazine till the worst of it passed. I'd tell myself out loud, "Relax, it's just another symptom of your asthma, it's not going to kill you and you'll feel much better if you relax." I'd talk myself down off that cliff.

Possibly if I had still been a member of my old church I'd have been trying to paste a big old smile on my face and tell myself to ignore the panic attack by thinking happy thoughts. Yeah, like that's going to work. Now I acknowledge when things aren't so copacetic and go from there.

Your emotions and your thoughts are YOURS and don't let any pious holier-than-thou try to tell you to deny your mind and your heart because the reckoning will be terrible. Better to feel your feelings and thoughts and deal.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Less Cranky, More Thankful

I think my state of jumpy irritation on Sunday was more a function of the cold I was fighting than anything else. That and the fact that I don't do large functions with the eleven o'clockers very well ever.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I know the biggest thing I am grateful for is freedom, simple freedom from the inhibiting mountain of rules when I was at that fundigelical church. I realized this year I can do, say, dress, cook, be whatever I want. There are not as many hard and fast rules as I thought that there were.

Today I cooked for tomorrow's feast at my eldest daughter Margaret's house. I always bring Ham, Cajun Coca Cola salad, Cranberry Amaretto Pound Cake and Fruit Cake for Turkey Day. Her in laws bring pies, drinks and Sweet Potato Casserole. Laura my little daughter is bringing something made out of green beans, her boyfriend is bringing homemade rolls and my son Andy is making something, I just don't know what. But I do know between all of us there will be a big meal laid on and we'll have a good day together. For that I am thankful as well.

See my Fruit Cake? One day soon I'll post Gluten Free versions of the recipes I used today.

I always feel a bit funny posting recipes and the photos because I don't have a million dollar kitchen like most food bloggers. I have my tiny kitchen and old appliances but it works for me. Ah, the house smelled like brandy most of the day while I soaked the fruits for the fruitcake in brandy.

But during my day of cooking I did run into sort of a snafu. I got a letter from the local courts telling me I have jury duty again. In the twenty plus years I've lived here I have had county jury duty 5 times, federal jury duty once and state jury duty twice. Jim has been called exactly once in all those years.

I filled out the paperwork and sent it back in. This should be interesting because I had to tell them I'll be gone two weeks at Christmas and will need to be off every other Monday for my Xolair injections. I hope they do not call me. But then again I do in some ways.

Happens that my jury duty time falls right in the same time frame that Daniel Harmon-Wright will be tried in our town for the murder of my fellow worship team member Pat Cook. I know I'll have to divulge that I knew Patricia quite well if I am called up for the trial to sit on the jury but I have to say this is one of those times when I sort of wish I was comfortable with lying. I would love to see justice serviced for what happened to Pat.

What happened to Pat? She was sitting in her Jeep at the parking lot of the local Catholic school. The school called the police to run her off because she'd been walking around and refused to leave when asked. I could see Pat doing that. She loved children and she suffered from some sort of mental issues or depression so I can see the school being freaked out by her behavior.

The officer arrived, walked to her Jeep, there were words exchanged, loud words, Pat refused to hand him her ID and drove away.

One of the big claims by Harmon-Wright is that Pat rolled up her window and trapped his arm, dragging him down the road. Witnesses have refuted that story plus her Jeep had a manual roll up window, it was very unlikely she trapped his arm. What witnesses did see was Harmon-Wright's hand on the door knob and his other hand holding the pistol. He shot her twice in the head at close range as she tried to drive away. She drove down the road and Harmon-Wright walked into the road, shooting at her fleeing vehicle, hitting her five more times. She died and the Jeep rolled to a stop against the light pole.

Was Pat a threat? Not likely, Harmon-Wright is a big old guy and Pat weight probably a hundred pounds soaking wet. Those of us that knew Pat well knew she had struggles but also knew that for all her eccentricities (and she was highly eccentric) could not imagine any scenario in which anyone could ever think that Pat was a threat to their lives.

What do I think happened? Pat was acting oddly and a corrupt trigger-happy cop murdered her. End of story.

It took a long time and a very thorough investigation by the State Police before Harmon-Wright was charged and he'll go on trial this November.

I'm thankful also for accountability and justice. Justice needs to be done for Patricia Cook. Her husband recently died and her mother is quite elderly and ill.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feeling Cranky!

Have you ever seen that Snickers commercial where the person is so bent out of shape they are some celebrity that has a reputation for bad behavior? That was me today. Particularly this Diva version -



It's been a cranky week. I've had a cold that won't go. My old church changed it's name because they said someone had been trashing their name online. They even told a couple of my friends it was me doing it, which is such a lie. I never mention their real name because I don't want to fight with them. Googling the name brings up nothing negative at all so they're just lying again. Jim worked from home a day throwing off my schedule. I'm stuck on my nanowrimo novel but hey, at least I didn't cheat by loading 20 thousand words a day into my nano dashboard like someone I know. I'm working on a project that's taking a lot of planning and there's a quilt project I'm doing for someone that isn't going as well as I'd like. Hostess going out of business and depriving me of the odd Snoball didn't sit well with me, particularly after reading about the mess that Hostess execs made of the company while cutting wages for the poor working stiffs. Made the bakers take cuts while paying the company execs making the bad decisions millions.

Today didn't help my mood much. The cold is still here and my brain isn't functioning well as a result. Today I got up and updated NLQ with something Sierra had written about the paradox of Christian love, which got me to thinking about love and the church on a week when my brain hurt too much to feel anything.

At noon today was our annual Thanksgiving dinner at the mainstream denomination I've been a member of for the last five years. Our church is huge, the largest in town, with four different services, the Saturday night service that I attend occasionally and help out with the worship sometimes, two traditional services in the old style and our contemporary service that I'm involved with the worship, planning and other things.

Previous years Thanksgiving dinner was a good solid mix from all the services. Today it was not, no one but myself and my family showed up for the dinner. Very few members from any service except the eleven o'clockers I call them. Lots of staid upper middle class folks that seemed pretty classless to me today.

I'd stayed behind after our service to attend a planning meeting for our contemporary service. The meeting was far shorter than I'd anticipated so we were done quickly. I wandered downstairs to wait for Jim and Andy so we could dine together. Was joking around with the people serving the meal because it was a good mix of friends and people from the contemporary service. They were joking about how the hardest part was going to be restraining the eleven o'clockers from diving into the food before the prayer dedication.

The last service ended, the eleven o'clockers filled the room and the announcement was made that we were to wait for our pastor to bless the food and then people could go fill their plates.

The eleven o'clockers ignored the announcement, started galloping over to the place we usually line up at. I saw and experienced Good Christians elbow and practically step on each other to get in line. No one payed any attention to the request we not get food till the prayer. They were filling plates, stomping through the line and gobbling long before the pastor got there. I saw so much bad behavior in five minutes I was pretty disgusted. Heard a lot of ridiculous hypocrisy spilling out of the mouths of some in the line too. Lots of very insincere sounding "I'm so thankful for youuuuu!" and silly air kisses.

Back when I attended my last church I got to freaking hate pot luck dinners because the penny pinching Quiverfulls and Fundamentalists would always bring something like white flour macaroni with a few veggies chopped up in it and call it a side dish. I always worked those pot lucks and there was almost never any meat or meat based dish at them, just a sea of beans or white flour products. I used to get frustrated with it until we insisted the church provide the main dish, like grilled burgers or hotdogs.

Everyone was supposed to bring a side dish for today and the church would provide turkey, gravy and dressing. I brought mine, but I couldn't help noticing that the ratio of families to food was seriously skewed. Everything but turkey, dressing and gravy was quickly gone.

I waited to get my plate because I was still waiting for Andy and Jim. By the time they showed up there wasn't any place to sit so I found a table in the very next room with no one sitting at it, put my sweater on a chair for Andy and my purse on a chair for Jim. Left my plate in place and went to get coffee, came back to find a family had moved all my stuff so they could sit there.

As I finished up one of our associate pastors I'm friends with asked me why I looked so stern and I told her why, that the eleven o'clockers were rude and greedy with very bad manners. She laughed and told me I wasn't saying anything she didn't know, that I ought to try dealing with them on a daily basis like she did.

I fear for the picture these people show the world about what Jesus and God represent. I'm not saying I am perfect, far from it, but I at least have manners. How do you leave the sermon and immediately start acting like a jackhole?

I don't get it

Visited Wal Mart after church. I must be insane as it's a microcosm of frustrations. It's days like today that make me wish I lived on a dessert, er... desert island.

I do have to say I am grateful for my local trash collectors. They know my back is not good and if I miss putting my can at the curb they come up to the house and take it from it's nook next to the garage. Good guys!

Plus when I went out to do my weekly recycling at the community recycle center on Thursday near noon I found out it was National Recycling Day. The workers had fixed hot dogs and all sorts of lunch goodies. They fed me lunch and gave me a t-shirt and a tote bag! They didn't have to do that, I was surprised and touched.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath & Halloween

We got through the hurricane just fine. As I predicted here there wasn't much beyond a couple of days of rain and some wind gusts. Nothing worth worrying about much less stockpiling ten jugs of water and all the canned food at the store. But it was good that most everyone in town stayed home. Jim worked from home and I cooked. Boy, did I cook!

Cooking has always been a great stress reliever for me. We had sort of an early impromptu Thanksgiving dinner with turkey breast and all the trimmings. I baked pumpkin bars and banana bread. We read, watched movies and took naps. Almost like a mini vacation!

But the people of New York and New Jersey, places unused to hurricanes, took the brunt of the damage. It gives me flashbacks of the awful week after Hurricane Katrina. I hope and pray that FEMA and the powers that be do a much better job helping the citizens return, rehab and recovery than they did in New Orleans after Katrina.

Returning to New Orleans three months after Katrina was one of the most disturbing things I've experienced, mile after mile of ruined homes, clean up debris piled 50 feet high on the center of the boulevards near City Park. The hush of reduced traffic and the lack of any functioning traffic lights made New Orleans eerily quiet and still, like the corpse of a city.

After having lost all I owned in a few hurricanes in Louisiana I have a good idea what the people of NY/NJ face. It's going to be a long heartbreaking backbreaking time before things start to feel normal again. One of the few things I could do for the people of that area is that I've signed up to be a foster home for some of the exotic birds that have been found with no way to trace their owners.

This morning I struggled to write a piece for NLQ that linked together a variety of links having to do with Pro Choice, abortion rights and contraception. It was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do because I know that it's going to bring about some rather rude debate in the comments at some point. It's really one of the first times we've had any discussion of abortion at all on the site. For a long time we tiptoed around the subject but in light of the political battles going on this last week before the elections it's time we looked at what it will really take to bring down abortion rates. I have to say I am very disappointed that no one has commented on the article at all yet.

Tonight we had a very quiet Halloween. Very few kids. I'd bought the usual amount of candy I always have but I have 3/4s of it left. I'm sending most of it up to Laura for her and her roommates to eat. I guess the weather and returning to normal after Hurricane Sandy put a damper on the trick or treating.

Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. It's the first day of Nanowrimo, which I participate in every year. Nano is a good distraction for what November First represents to me. It's All Saints Day and every year till I was a grown adult it would be the time my father and I visited the family graves to clean them and lay fresh flowers. It's days like All Saints where I miss my father so much that my heart aches. All Saints is an old New Orleans tradition and one I'm sad to say has died away, a remnant of a kinder gentler time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Frankenstorm

This morning I ran out to the local grocery store because I was running low on my beloved addiction, diet coke. No way was I going through a stormy weekend with Jim underfoot without things that aid my calming rituals.

The store was crammed packed with panicked people. As a lady ran past me pushing a shopping cart filled to the brim with gallons of water and canned foods it dawned on me that people in the area are on high dungeon because of the coming hurricane Sandy. Which really made me laugh hard in the middle of the damn store.

I've kept one eye on Sandy, scanning the weather report too, but not to the point where I think THIS IS THE APOCALYPSE!! Granted, no one in NYC and other Eastern Seaboard Mid Atlantic states are used to hurricanes but... the media is driving some extreme panic on this one. As I was driving to the store I heard my local radio, right here in the Virginia Piedmont, many miles from the coast, advising people all sorts of extreme measures that just aren't needed for a category one hurricane. They urged everyone to stock up on canned foods and water. Get all your medicines refilled! Pack a bag just in case you have to evacuate. A bit extreme for this area but completely appropriate if you're somewhere south near the Gulf and a category three is coming. Complete overkill.

We are not facing this
New Orleans house from the Lakefront area after Katrina


So how does a New Orleanian or a Cajun prepare for a big hurricane? My hurricane safety list is for those bad ones. Even for these small ones it's not a bad idea to fill a clean bathtub with enough water to force flush the toilet and have fresh batteries in your radios and flashlights just in case you lose power but not most of the stuff I'm going to list below.

1. Make sure your car is filled with gas.
2. Board up your windows with plywood. Tape is useless.
3. Drag a mattress, pillows, blankets into the most protected part of the house. Somewhere with no windows that you and your family can hunker down during the worst parts of the storm. Make sure you have things with you to keep you occupied, a pile of games, a book, that sweater you're knitting. This place should be on the ground floor just in case a tree crashes through the roof. If you have little kids and they are whining try your best to make it a fun adventure, have sing alongs, play games.
4. Make sure you have canned foods and bottled drinks. A little liquor is recommended as we Cajuns tend to use alcohol for everything. Freaking out over the winds and water, have a nice little nip of Bourbon and you'll feel much calmer.
5. Fill the bathtub with water to flush your toilet just in case the water cuts off. You'll need to put a bucket next to the tub to fill the toilet tank.
6. Make sure you have an old fashioned transistor radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries. Better still is a NWS weather radio with battery capacity to keep up with the watches, warnings and essential information.
7. Each person should have a packed bag with a few changes of clothes and all essential medicines. If you have a pet this is a good time to crate them and pack a plastic storage bin with their food, medicines and anything else they might require if you evacuate. Good to pack a shot record because if you have to evacuate many places will not allow you to bring your animal if they have no vaccination record.
8. Use comment sense, if they say over the radio to evacuate, then do it.
9. Make sure you have a bit of extra cash just in case.

Just don't do like these New Yorkers did last hurricane.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Harvest Time Interrupted

The last few days I've been attempting to get the rest of the things in the garden in before we  have another batch of nighttime temps in the thirties. I still have onions, cabbages and sweet potatoes to harvest so that's been the goal of the last few days.



But with my silly luck I'm not getting much done. I have dug out a bushel of sweet potatoes but there are many more to dig. I'm set up to make and can sauerkraut in my kitchen but haven't harvested the cabbages get.

Why?

Every time I step out into the yard for more than a few moments I get interrupted by neighbors upset about the lack of forward motion of our HOA treasurer, someone I have absolutely zero control over. I like her no more than any of the neighbors but sitting on the board I have to attempt to get along with her.

I'd be almost shoulder deep in the friable dirt of my garden groping blindly for sweet potatoes when someone would drift up, complain they couldn't reserve the clubhouse and expect me to do something. I'd stop poking through the dirt for potatoes, strip off my gloves with a sigh, and take that person inside to look at the master calender before firing off an email to the treasurer.

I think tomorrow I'm going to sneak outside at dawn to harvest the last of everything. Hopefully the neighbors will all be asleep and I can get the rest of the garden in. I hate being on the HOA board.