Category Archives: communication

A Country at War With Itself

It is sad what the United States has become in just a short period of time. As we look at the destruction created by the looting and vandalism in the past few days, it is disturbing to see how much anger and hurt is harbored by so many of our citizens.

In truth, this is not a hurt or anger created by only George Floyd’s death, when a white officer pushed a knee into his neck for 8+ minutes, resulting in his death. This came only a few months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was attacked and gunned down by two white men while out for a jog. It took months for those men to be charged with a crime, and only after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

The protests being waged following Mr. Floyd’s death are the result of pent-up anger that has continued to grow as black people are disproportionately killed by white law enforcement officers.  Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but are 2-1/2 times more likely to be killed by police.

What is further infuriating is that in many cases the officers are not charged for having committed a crime. If charged many are found not guilty.

A huge problem in this country is the blue wall of silence, also referred to as the blue code of honor. This is a silent code under which police officers stay silent, refusing to report other officers who exercise misconduct, criminal behavior, discrimination, police brutality, or any other unethical action. Body cameras and bystanders recording on their cell phone cameras are finally bringing some of this to light.

I was very pleased to see the Minneapolis Police Chief remove his hat and kneel at the spot where George Floyd’s life was taken, and also remove his hat when he answered their questions on the news. This shows him to be a person of moral and ethical character.

When questioned the police chief stated that he fired of all four officers because the other three officers, by not intervening, were complicit with Derek Chauvan having his knee in the neck of George Floyd for 8+ minutes, resulting in death. Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter.  The other officers have not been charged.

I have seen many cities where police officers are walking with demonstrators or kneeling with them in prayer. This shows that not all law enforcement condone the behavior of the bad, but it is not enough to heal the pain that has been going on for too long.

Obama Administration

It was only a short 12 years ago that this country reached a milestone when it elected Barack Obama as President of the United States. This country, with its horrible history of slavery, racial oppression and discrimination, had elected a black man into its highest-ranking position.  That said a lot for how far our country had come.

Barack Obama served for 8 years as president.  During his presidency there were several high-profile deaths of black Americans engaged in encounters with the police and protests led to rioting:

  • Oscar Grant, a black transit passenger, was shot by a white police officer. Riots broke out in Oakland, California. The officer, Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
  • George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, and riots broke out in Los Angeles.
  • Manuel Diaz, a 25-year old black man, was shot to death when he ran from police. Destructive demonstrations broke out in Orange County, California.
  • Kimini Gray, a 16-year old, was killed by police after allegedly pointing a handgun at them. Riots broke out in Brooklyn, New York.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013. It was created to give black people a voice in civil rights. Issues included a broken criminal justice system and a higher unemployment level among black Americans. Those problems still exist today.

Black Lives Matter believes in peaceful demonstrations. They do not participate nor do they encourage looting and violent acts like those taking place today.

George Floyd’s Two Autopsies

After the autopsy of George Floyd’s death indicated he died from underlying health conditions, not from the loss of breath created by a knee on his neck for 8+ minutes, people were angry and upset. His family ordered an independent autopsy.

That independent autopsy determined George Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure”. The difference in the two determinations makes one question whether the first medical examiner works frequently with the police and is part of the “code of blue.” Both medical examiners ruled the death a homicide.

Where We Stand on Race

In 2016 a survey showed 56% of white Americans said the race of a subject made no difference in the use of police force, but only 18% of black Americans believed that to be true.  More than 2/5 of black people said that police in their community made them feel more anxious than safe.

U.S. citizens, looking for change, elected Donald Trump in 2016. A non-politician, non-military, public figure who promised to Make America Great Again.  The question now comes to mind, Is America at War With Itself?

There continues to be racial divide in this country on how people are viewed based on the color of their skin. There is inequity that results in black people being disproportionately injured or killed by white police officers.   

The fact that we have protestors trying to storm the White House and destroying Secret Service vehicles says a lot about what a lot of Americans feel toward President Trump.

Where else in American history can you recall riots where Washington DC monuments were defaced?

Where the Treasury Department was attacked?

Where the White House was at risk of being breached by protestors? 

When Chopper One lands at the White House lawn and is greeted by protestors with their middle fingers raised? 

Why is former Vice President Joe Biden was out speaking with protestors while President Donald Trump is hiding in a bunker under the White House? 

Trump Administration and Racism

It is likely that a culmination of numerous factors has led to the anger displayed toward President Trump.  We are all familiar with his tweets that repeatedly insult people, make racial slurs, and instigate violent acts.  

American people have come to realize what a strong racist their President is. Mayors of cities undergoing riots have asked President Trump to be quiet. To stop posting comments on Twitter that instill violence. To stop posting racial comments from the 1968 racial riots.

It isn’t all about tweets and verbal comments. His tendency toward discrimination against those of non-white ethnicity screams out from his campaign and administration: 

  1. In 2016 there was a strong correlation between Trump campaign events and acts of violence. Data from the Anti-Defamation League showed that counties hosting Trump campaign rallies had more than double the hate crimes than similar counties that did not host a rally.
  2. Counties that voted for Donald Trump by the widest margins experienced the largest increase of reported hate crimes.
  3. Surrounding the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes peaked from October to December 2016 and continued through 2017. This was the second largest increase in hate crimes in 25 years. The highest increase in hate crimes followed September 11, 2011.
  4. Quinnipiac University released a poll that states 80% of African-American voters feel Donald Trump is a racist. 55% of Hispanics feel Trump is a racist, and 51% of all Americans feel he has racist views.
  5. In August 2019 President Donald Trump spoke at the 400th anniversary of the year slaves first arrived on American soil. His behavior prior to his arrival resulted in the Black Caucus of the Virginia legislature boycotting his appearance. In doing so they stated “It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the President represents” and referred to his “repeated attacks on black legislators and comments about black communities” and they felt he was an “ill-suited” choice to commence that monumental period in American history.
  6. The Trump Administration is working to roll back President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat racial segregation. This roll-back would make it easier for banks to deny loans to black and Hispanic people. It would also make it easier for cities to confine families to minority neighborhoods.
  7. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has in 2020 proposed cutting back data collection that helps track discrimination in the mortgage market. In 2015 the Obama administration began tracking patterns of poverty and segregation with a checklist of 92 questions that had to be completed to access federal housing funds. The Trump administration is trying to eliminate that tracking system.  Of concern is that the Trump financial regulator could encourage banks to invest in inner city projects such as sporting arenas instead of loans that benefit local residents. 
  8. Black home ownership is at its lowest rate since segregation was legal. White rate is about 73% and black rate under 43%. 
  9. Housing discrimination complaints rose 8% in 2018, as reported by the National Fair Housing Alliance. This is the highest level since tracking started in 1995.

Trump Admnistration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks

Between 2017 to 2020 there have been at least 79 Trump Administration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks. Many of those rollbacks have a direct impact on low-income and racial minorities, which include:

*          In February 2017 President Trump signed three executive orders to fight crime, gangs, and drugs, and restore law and order, supporting the men and women of law enforcement. Civil rights organizations viewed these orders as vague and suspicious.

*          In August 2017 the Obama administration ban was lifted regarding the transfer of some military surplus items to domestic law enforcement, rescinding guidelines that had been created to protect the public from law enforcement’s misuse of military-grade weapons.

*          In August 2017 the Trump administration halted the EEOC rule that required large companies to reveal what they pay employees by sex, race, and ethnicity. The rule was intended to remedy unequal pay in American companies.

*          In September 2017 the Department of Justice ended the Community Oriented Policing Services Collaborative Reform Initiative. This program was created to build trust between police officers and the communities where they serve.

*          In February 2018 the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal denied critical health care to those in need. The funding was being diverted to funding the border wall.

*          In February 2018 the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget proposal eliminated the Community Relations Service which was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its purpose was to address discrimination, conflicts and tensions in communities around the country.

*          In 2018 The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education released a new Case Processing Manual that created a larger hurdle for people filing complaints. It allows for the dismissal of civil rights complaints based on the number of times an individual has filed.

*          In January 2019 the Trump administration was considering a roll-back of regulations that provide anti-discrimination protections to people of color, women and others.

*          In January 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration had stopped cooperating with and responding to UN investigators over potential human rights violations in the United States.

*          In April 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration would not nominate nor re-nominate anyone to the 18-member U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

*          In January 2020 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a proposal that would gut the agency’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. HUD’s proposal would leave people of color, women, and protected communities already harmed by unfair and unequal housing policies at further risk.

Heal the Country

There is a very strong divide in this country. Racial discrimination and violence are at the heart of it. We are a country divided, and it needs to be healed. There is a Michael Jackson song that says in part: 

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me

When Will it Stop?

We are now in our 7th day of protests, vandalism and looting. When will it stop? It is hard to say. We have had a President hiding in a bunker tweeting words that incite violence.  We have more than 37 cities in 22 states plus Washington DC destroyed.

It is time federal and state legislatures took action to make sure that the rights of every person in the United States are protected. Treatment and protection need to be equal regardless of whether a person is White, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Jewish, Black, or any other nationality.

This country was built by being accepting of all, a melting pot of immigrants that created a wonderfully diverse country. It is time laws were in place that guaranteed equal treatment for all. Until that is done and people are satisfied that their lives matter, history will continue to repeat itself.

Update:  As this writing was being finalized President Trump spoke in the Rose Garden.  Lafayette Park across from the White House was filled with peaceful protesters. Suddenly right before the speech law enforcement moved in, using tear gas and rubber bullets to force the peaceful protestors out of the park. Why?

It soon came to light. President Trump’s announced that he is deploying the 1807 law to deploy military then commented he was going to a special place.

Those peaceful protestors had been gassed and shot at by law enforcement because President Trump was walking through the park to St. John’s Church for a photo op.

Almost immediately the DC Episcopal Bishop denounced President Trump’s use of St. John’s Church as a prop. The Bishop stated that after having military police fire munitions against peaceful protestors President Trumps actions were an abuse of a sacred space.

And So We Continue

The anger continues. People want the remaining three officers involved in George Floyd’s murder charged. They want equal treatment by law enforcement. They want a justice system that is just.

It is up to the United States citizens to regain control of their country. It is time this country becomes what it was created to be, a melting pot. Many cultures living together, all on equal ground. Equal and just treatment for all races.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one….from Imagine by John Lennon

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DOCUMENT YOUR PART IN HISTORY

I look around, the place has more people than normal for this time of year, but it is still pretty well emptied out. Why wouldn’t it be? Who wants to stay where the summer temperatures go as high as 120° Fahrenheit?

Yet, here I am. Our original plan was to leave here at the beginning of April and visit several national parks and scenic areas through several states before heading to Michigan to visit family. Then head south and west again, hitting Sault Lake City and Colorado Springs for photography and RV conferences before going for a three-month stay on South Padre Island, Texas, followed by winter back here in Yuma, Arizona.

Those plans have been crushed by the Coronavirus shutdowns. We have extended our stay here in Yuma until at least August 3rd. We are trying to secure reservations in Michigan for somewhere between mid-August to early October, but so far have not had any luck. The state is still locked down and the few campgrounds that are open do not have long-term spots available.

Time will tell if we travel, where we will be, and when we will get there. When you live full-time in an RV, campgrounds are an essential part of life.

We are living through an event that will be written about in history books. Have you recorded your stay-at-home location and changes in lifestyle? Have you noted the schools closing, people doing work-at-home because businesses closed, hospitals overrun with patients, people wearing face masks and gloves to protect those around them?

If you have young children, have you recorded their thoughts on what is going on around them? These are memories that may be forgotten over time but will be important to future generations.

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Paul and I are hanging tight in Yuma, Arizona. I walked around the park and took snapshots of the camp, documenting the place that was full when we arrived in February and is now almost empty. A lot of the people here in the winter are Canadian snowbirds who were ordered to return to Canada in March or lose medical insurance due to the pandemic.

So where are you? Have you documented the event? Leave me your comments below.

Stay Safe!

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Be Kind, Always Be Kind

If you find yourself getting frustrated with an elderly person, think of them like your grandmother or grandfather, then treat them accordingly. That is something in the midst of this pandemic people need to remember. Be kind to strangers – all strangers.

I recently read a post on Facebook, and when I saw this image quote “Even the strongest hands can lose their grip, the greatest of minds can become cloudy, and the biggest of hearts can break. So Be Kind, just always be kind.” I put the two of them together.

The story behind the Facebook post is that the person’s father went to the grocery store to pick up a few items. He did not realize that the aisles were one-way. It can happen to anyone. Arrows posted on the floor, but who looks there when shopping?

BLOG PHOTO

Instead of nicely mentioning it to him, someone snapped at him rudely, belittling him for his stupidity. Her father, feeling ashamed and humiliated, left his groceries in the cart and exited the store without purchasing any food. He did not go to another store. He went home without any food, fearful of making another mistake.

I was grocery shopping and went the wrong way today. I had the store memorized on the directional arrows, and today I was halfway down the first aisle when I realized they had changed them all. Probably because they realized they originally had them backward for the way people navigate through the store. It can happen to anyone.

I have noticed that men are more likely than women to go the wrong way when shopping. Why I don’t know, but 4 out of 5 times, if someone is going the wrong way it is a man. Usually as I’m passing, I’ll say “you’re going the wrong way.” When they look at me confused, I’ll point out the arrows. The normal response is “thanks.”

If you see any person not following the rules, it doesn’t mean they are stupid and uncooperative. They probably didn’t notice that something has changed. You can let them know without being rude.

I would assume the daughter of the elderly gentlemen above purchased his groceries for him. What if he didn’t have family nearby? What if there was no one to help? Was it worth the possibility of him going hungry because of someone’s superior attitude toward him?

Be kind to everyone, especially the elderly. Think of how you would want them to be treated if they were your grandmother or grandfather and act accordingly. Everyone deserves to be treated nicely.

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Stay-at-Home Orders: 10 Positive Points

We have all been watching the fear of the unknown unfold before us with the Coronavirus spread throughout the world, but more closely to home here in the United States.

We all need a break from the chaos, and below I am going to give you 10 positive Points to the stay-home orders.

I am in a unique class of citizens. We do not have a “sticks and bricks” home, we live full-time in an RV. Stay-at-home orders affect us a bit differently. We elected to stay put in the RV park here in Yuma, Arizona until things calm down. Being in an area where temps average 107 in the summer is not our choice, but we feel it is the best alternative if things do not calm down before then.

When I think back to one year ago in April 2019 I was winding down on the sorting out of my house in the anticipation of moving into an RV full time. I was prepping for an estate sale, selling my home, leaving my full-time job, and hitting the road. By mid-August, those things had been accomplished.THINK POSITIVE IMAGE

I enjoyed a wonderful fall traveling in eastern Canada, and warm winter in southern Texas and Arizona. Our plans for this summer to hit some national parks before heading back to Michigan to visit family have been pitched. We don’t know when or if we will be able to travel to Michigan this year.

The Port Huron Township RV Park we stayed in last summer is closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus. The Port Huron Lapeer Road KOA is price gouging, charging $75 per night if you want to make a reservation. Under the circumstances, our plans are in limbo.

The coronavirus has been the main focus of news for the past couple of months and will likely be for the next few months ahead. We all need is a positive brain break during our stay-at-home time.  Here are some positives of the stay-at-home orders:

  1. You no longer need to set an alarm clock. Sleep in or get up early, your choice.
  2. You can dress however you want – casual, pajamas, the scroungy never-wear-in-public old clothes – whatever suits your fancy. You aren’t going anywhere, no one is visiting, so it’s all good.
  3. No need to wear makeup – who is going to see you?
  4. You can now read those books you purchased but never had time to read. Clean off that shelf and prepare for a literary shopping spree when the stay-home orders lift.
  5. There is plenty of time to do spring cleaning. Does anyone really do that anymore?
  6. Do the spring yard cleanup, plant flowers, ready the vegetable garden.
  7. Clean the junk drawer, the closet, or the basement. Think how neat and organized things will be once this pandemic is over.
  8. Lower gasoline expense – if you aren’t going anywhere you aren’t using any gas
  9. Skim through recipe books and try some new recipes. Think of all the money you save by not eating out, shopping, going to events and concerts.
  10. More time with your spouse, kids, significant other. Make art projects and play board games. Did out your old hobbies – woodworking, sewing, ceramics, stained glass – anything you used to do and normally don’t have time for.
  11. Sit on your porch or deck and enjoy the sun, listen to the birds, drink a glass of wine.

Use this stay-home time to enjoy life. Someday you will be able to look back and remember the brain break you were awarded in the midst of a pandemic.

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Life is not meant to be lived in one place

I have reached the point of excitement.  My new lifestyle will soon be moving from life in an RV in my local area to actual life on the road.    I am now on my last two weeks of work, with the 16th of August being my final day.  I am training someone to take my place at work, will soon have the closing date on my house, and once that is completed we will set off on our new lifestyle.

This past weekend Paul and I opened up the “basement” storage in the motor home and got the last boxes out of my car and into the RV.  Not everything is sorted and organized the way we want, but I am at least officially in the motor home totally and completely.  The next two weeks will be a whirlwind of finishing up things at work and training my replacement, a doctor’s appointment, turning in my lease vehicle, finishing up paperwork, listing the second home I own for sale, and closing on the home I was residing in.   In someways the day when I can “hit the road” seems so far away, and yet so close.  Time passes quickly when trying to get everything finished in the final moments.  Trave as far and as long as you can

We are now starting to plan the first leg of our travels, and it is exciting and a bit nerve wracking at the same time.  I am semi-retiring prior to retirement age, so will need to do remote or seasonal work while on the road to supplement  the spousal pension I receive.  Until I have a steady income from remote or seasonal work  I will be concerned about finances.  That is just me.

At the same time, if I didn’t jump at this opportunity now to travel full-time I know I would regret it for years to come.  You only live once, so might as well make the most of it.  What are that chances that I will ever again run across the opportunity to live full time in a motor home traveling Canada and the United States with a person with whom I am compatible who is also a fellow photographer?

I hope this is a life style we can enjoy for several years.  The opportunity to experience a variety of cultures and the diversity of nature as we travel cross country is something I am looking forward to.  As I travel I plan to keep a journal about my travels.  I enjoy freelance writing and hopefully you will see my writing and/or photographs not only in this blog, but also in published magazines and journals.

If you have any “must see” locations in Canada or the United States, please share.

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Writing to Relax

I have been, and continue to be, in the whirl-wind of trying to sort through 36+ years of belongings accumulated in my house and reduce the “keep” items down to what I can take with me in a 35-foot motor home, in which I will live and travel the United States and Canada.  Needless to say, this is a monumental task.  I am on the downside now, with only a few things left to complete, and the estate sale is scheduled May 2-6, 2019.

I have been sorting through old items, boxes never unpacked from when we moved here in February 2004, and family heirlooms, mementos and photographs.  Those special items I have painstakingly gone through and divided between my two adult children.  In the midst of all this my son has been moving out.  Between working long hours and moving about 45 minutes away, he has taken a long time in the process with a couple trailer loads of items still left to move.  This has made for a very stressful situation.   We are now down to “crunch time” as the estate seller will need to come into the home and get things priced.  My son made a comment about me pushing my sale back, but I refuse to do that.  I need to get my house emptied, ready for sale, and sold quickly.

closet cleaningI have spent weekend after weekend at home, sorting through all my current items and those in boxes, preparing for my estate sale.  Today I took some “me” time and attended the #RochesterWriters Spring Conference.  I enjoyed a day of informative keynote speakers and instructors, plus socializing with other writers.  It was time well spent, combining instruction in self-publishing with networking.   There is something about spending a day with other writers that inspires one to write.  Even though you haven’t seen me here in quite a while due to everything going on in my personal life, I find myself here tonight writing a quick blog, just to say hi and let you know I am still alive and kicking.

Once the sorting and packing is complete and I have moved into the RV, which will happen on or about April 23, 2019, you will begin to hear from me more often.  As I move into fall and begin to travel the country I plan to post travel blogs of my adventures, and hopefully expand into writing some travel articles for magazines as well.  What the future holds for me one can not be certain, but it will definitely be an adventure and a change in lifestyle.

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Celebrate the Positive!

So here we are, ten days into the New Year.  What will it bring?  Has it been a good start?  What about resolutions?  Were they made?  Have they been broken?

My year started out in a variety of ways.  On New Year’s Eve my daughter and her family were driving north to visit family when she hit black ice and rolled her vehicle twice, ending up in the ditch.  The three children, ages 4, 8, and 12, were fine, as was her boyfriend.  My daughter slammed her elbow into the driver’s window and needed stitches, and she had a couple scratches on her face, but other than that no serious injuries.  Unfortunately the vehicle was totaled, and she only had PLPD insurance, so they are down to a single cab pickup with a family of five.  celebrate-small-success1

Here is where viewpoint is important.  Is it horrifying that they rolled….well, yes, the outcome could have been far worse.  Should everyone be upset that they are without a car and don’t have the ability to purchase another?  Of course that is a dilemma that must be dealt with.  However, the overall important thing is that no one suffered any severe, life-altering injuries, especially the children.   So, with that we can say that their New Year got off to a good start.  They came through a scary, dangerous accident without anyone being seriously hurt.   Celebrate the positive!

As for me, my New Year weekend was both work and relaxing.  I had a four-day weekend during which I never left the house.  I took down my tree, sorted and packed items to go to my kids, and also sorted and packed items for me to take when I downsize and others to go into my estate sale.  I came across things I had forgotten about, and spent some time looking at some old pictures of ancestors.   Some would consider a long weekend home alone and working on household tasks a lonely, sad existence.  I am on a time frame to get through all my belongings in preparation for downsizing and an estate sale this spring, so having a long weekend to work on my project was positive.  Celebrate the positive!

Every year I keep a list in my “notes” section on Facebook of the books I read that year.  My goal is always 52 (one per week), but I have never made that.  The best I have done is around 26.  Last year on the 14th of March I had only just finished my second book of the year.  This year I finished my first on the 4th of January and am more than halfway through my second.   I’m not holding my breath on making 52 for the year, but the odds are favorable so far.   Celebrate the positive!

So now ten days into the new year I sometimes look around me and wonder how I am ever going to get through everything I need to by the end of March.  I also worry about my son, who is trying to find a place to live as he is currently staying with me, being able to find a home and move out by the time needed.  On a positive note, he also has quite a few tubs packed with his belongings.  We can only hope that it all falls into place without a problem.  I’m not ready to celebrate yet, but I am trying to think positive.

How is your new year going so far?  Regardless of whether you have had downfalls or things to celebrate, remember to keep thinking positive.  A good attitude can get you through anything.

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Bulleted Reunion

IMG_20180720_185225304I had the pleasure of attending my 40th High School Class Reunion in Eaton Rapids, Michigan this weekend.  The coordinators did a fabulous job of pulling the weekend together with a variety of activities to keep people on the move.  This was especially nice for those of us traveling in from out of town, especially those traveling from out-of-state.

This is my bulleted list of memories of the weekend.

  • Meet-and-Greet at Eaton Rapids Medical Center Conference Room.
  • Great desserts!
  • Friendly conversation with classmates.
  • Tammy (Ball) Albright’s face sign
  • Olive burgers and beer at Abies Bar
  • Woman’s bathroom is small with two toilets, no stalls.
  • Breakfast at Darb’s Patio, always yummy!
  • Glitch in planned tour of high school – Honor Society students are prepared to do tour, school is locked and they don’t have keys.
  • Classmate makes a couple calls and resolution is on the way.
  • Dave Johnson, teacher when we attended, later principal, now retired, has master key to school and comes to rescue, conducts the tour, and does an awesome job of sharing the way it was when we attended, and what changes have been done over the years.IMG_20180721_130944998_LL
  • Touring the high school after 40 years brings back memories, including these mentioned during tour:
    • The Cold Tongue
    • The smoking bathroom
    • Pep Rallies
    • After home game dances
    • Band/band camp
    • Typing class
    • 1-2-3 Roll’em Ferndock
    • World History class lectures in auditorium
    • Theater performances in auditorium
    • Mr. Phillips math classes
    • Mrs. Lohrke, English teacher
    • Mrs. Shimnoski and Mrs. Tuthill, Business/Secretarial Block teachers
    • Various athletes, coaches
    • Teachers and counselors now gone but long remembered
    • Library no longer has a comfy seating area of bean bag chairs, chairs, etc.
    • Senior Bench (now gone)
    • The former layout of the school compared to what it is now
  • Non-Reunion Activity:  Quick stop-over to visit with my sister for a couple hours
  • Walking a block to the Red Ribbon Hall for the reunion because I thought all  parking in front was taken; there were still open spots.
  • Some classmates’ appearance has hardly changed, very recognizable.
  • Some classmates have changed a lot — thank goodness for name tags!
  • Being surprised at how many people recognized me immediately.
  • Good food, good desserts.
  • Good conversation with old friends and classmates.
  • 1978 Graduate photo frame for shooting pics
    IMG_20180721_212645159
  • Fun slide show of “then and now” pictures of classmates.
  • Party Favors:  Eaton Rapids glass and notepad
  • The Red Ribbon Hall has very good acoustics = loud atmosphere.
  • A lot of us still drink, but not like we used to!
  • Many of us no longer “close down the bar” and left before the party was over.
  • Cell phones are great for event pics…I didn’t see a single “real” camera all weekend.
  • Facebook sharing of activities and photos on the ERHS Class of 1978 Page
  • Sad realization that we have lost 11 classmates, a nice memorial table was set up.
  • A quiz of things about our last year of school – presented by Mrs. Wheeler, former teacher.
  • Each classmate was to stand and give their name (maiden) now and where living…which grew as it went around the room to name, where living, married/years, occupation, children/grandchildren.
  • Amazing how many people have stayed in Eaton Rapids and/or the Greater Lansing area.
  • Surprised at how many have moved out of state, or resided in several states.

FB_IMG_1532145667519Time passes so quickly.  How is it we have already been out of school forty years?  Many thanks to classmates Julie and Jane Brenke, and their sister Jill, for organizing the reunion as well as several others who stepped in and assisted them.

 

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The Note In My Windshield Wiper

I don’t know what was more disturbing, the fact that I never noticed the note in my windshield wiper, or the content of the note itself.

The fact that I hadn’t noticed it was disturbing because it was most likely put in their on Saturday, a day in which I had made several stops running errands.  Based on the “er” on the left of the note my guess is that the paper used came from Meijer, but for it to happen at that location also made no sense.

I was at work on Monday and one of the attorneys in our office came in and said “Grace, you have a nasty note on your car, a really nasty note.”

I could not understand why anyone would leave me a note, and my first assumption was that it had been put there while I was in the office.  The attorney had noticed it tucked under my windshield wiper blade, and the paper was a bit stiff and yellowed, as if it had been baking in the sun.

When I read the note I realized it had to have happened when I was running errands on Saturday, because early Saturday it had rained and the note showed no sign of having gotten wet.  I knew I had not bumped anyone’s car with mine, not even a door, so I was baffled at the note.  However, my instincts told me that, based on the wording, it was possible whoever wrote it may have done something to my vehicle in retaliation.  I walked outside and checked my car out all the way around — no damage, so that was a relief.note on car010

My mind then went through my day, trying to figure out the location.  Even though I was guessing at Meijer based on the red “er,” I still wanted to figure out where I may have been parked close enough to warrant such a note.

  • First stop, farmer’s market — parked in a muddy dirt lot, I was the end vehicle and a wide walking path between me and the vehicle next to me.  Definitely not there.
  • Second stop, Kohl’s.  I parked in a normal spot, but my vehicle was dead center on my spot and so were the cars on either side of me.  I don’t think that was a logical location.
  • Third stop was a pool supply store, very small and there were only two vehicles in the entire parking lot with plenty of space between.  Definitely not there.
  • Fourth stop was Sam’s Club.  I parked next to the cart corral, and because the car on my driver side was over the yellow line, I had to park extremely close to the cart corral and was closely watching my mirrors so they didn’t catch on the rack.  If the guy next to my driver’s side wrote the note, then he should have addressed it to himself for hogging part of my spot.
  • Fifth stop was Meijer.  This was the only location where I used my handicap plate and parked in a designated spot, which means there was ample room around both sides of my vehicle.  The note appears to be on Meijer paper, but I could not have touched another vehicle, so again baffled by the message.

After all this analyzing there are two conclusions.

  1.  If the damage to the writer’s vehicle was so bad it warranted the above note, why didn’t they contact the security of the store, or even contact the police?
  2. If their vehicle really was damaged in the parking lot, it is possible that another vehicle was parked beside them, damaged their car as they were leaving, and then I pulled in, parked beside them and got blamed for someone else’s actions.

The bottom line is I will never know the answer to who wrote the note and where it occurred.   Based on the wording I will say I am glad that I did not arrive at my vehicle as they were writing the note as it may have been a hostile encounter.  On the other hand, at least I would know when and where the note was left.  The mystery of the note in my windshield wiper will never be solved.

 

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Filed under assumptions, communication, Discoveries, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, Mystery, reality, time

Dreams + Action = Reality

How often we have a dream of something…a place to travel, an advancement in career, weight loss, or a lifestyle change.  Often whatever that dream may be seems so far off in the distance that we feel it is unachievable.   The problem is that we fail to create a plan of action.  Without a plan the dream is impossible, because without action the reality of the dream will never be achieved.

Some people formulate plans in their head.  Other people, like me, make lists and cross things off as accomplished.  Some are able to just dive in and start working without a plan of action.  Whatever works for you is fine, as long as it works.  Too often when a task seems overwhelming it is easy to let it slide; even if you have the list you never act on it.  Other times set-backs can throw us off balance or cause a backwards slide.  When that happens get your footing and push forward.

The Distance between dreams and realityI am dealing with dreams in various aspects of my life, and the reality is I have been slow in taking action, but every small step I make gives me a feeling of accomplishment and the desire to push forward….I just need to start doing it at a faster pace!

Each of my dreams deals with a different part of my life.  Each has a different game plan.  Each will be worked on and accomplished at different speeds, and some may need to be put on hold while I push to accomplish others.  That is okay.  Even putting some on hold can be part of the overall plan of action.  The important part is to act on the plan.

So, what are my Dreams + Action = Reality goals?

Asset Control:  This sounds strange, but I have inheritance money and/or assets that have not yet been distributed to me and I need to take whatever steps necessary so that all items are under my control.  I also have property and a motor home that I want to sell and need to push stronger to get those sales accomplished.  Once I have achieved those things, my asset control goal will be accomplished and I will be able to better fund my investments for a higher yield, which has a direct effect on my retirement funds.

Downsizing:  I decided some time ago that I need to downsize, and I have talked about it quite a bit, but the “action” part has been slow in coming.  This is most likely because it will be a tremendous change.  I will have to get rid of an overwhelming  amount of items accumulated over a 34 year marriage, sell move from my 4-bedroom colonial with the plan to purchase a 2-3 bedroom ranch-style condominium.  I am finding the action part is both time consuming and somewhat emotional as I will need to part with numerous possessions.  However, after cleaning out my parent’s home following their demise and having listened to several friends also go through the same thing, I realize that the majority of this stuff is not anything my kids are going to want and is just taking up space.  This is my number one priority and the first “dream” I have to make a “reality”.

Retirement:  Being a widow retirement can be very close, within the next three years, or in the distant future.  My full-retirement age of 67 is still ten years away.  My goal is to land somewhere in the middle, around age 62-63.  I know I cannot afford to stay in this house once I retire, and so the push to downsize is a necessity as much as a desire.  The sooner I downsize the faster I can save more money toward my retirement dreams and/or another dream.

Travel:  There are a lot of places I have not been to but want to see, both in this country and others.  While working I want to start taking short trips and seeing a bit of the country.  Once I retire I want to be able to travel much more extensively.  I am even debating whether I want to go ahead and fulfill a prior dream my deceased husband and I had…full time RV.  A friend of mine just started on his adventure, and in helping him get ready to head out I felt the desire come back to hit the road myself.  I have learned that  there are a lot of women driving Class A motor homes and towing vehicles, living the full-time life all by themselves  If they can do it, why can’t I.  Time will tell.

Writing and Photography:  These are both things I do now, but my life has been rather hectic the past few years and I do not have as much time for either of these areas as I would like.  I hope that once I have downsized, and most definitely once retired, that I can devote a considerable amount of time to both of these areas.   I have a book started that I plan to finish and other ideas bouncing around in my head for additional books.

As you read this you may have realized that my dreams are related to each other.  I need financial control of all my assets to achieve my other goals financially.  I need to complete the downsizing prior to retirement.  I need to retire to obtain more time for writing, photography, and travel.  Dreams + Action = Reality.  I better get busy!

I hope that while reading this you have started to formulate dreams and plans for action in your head.  What are your dreams?  I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.

 

 

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20 Facts About Me

I was in a fog and not sure what to write about, when I stumbled across something that was titled “20 Facts About Me.”  Now most of you don’t know me, so this will serve as a quick introduction to who I am.  If you do know me,  you may find some surprises here.   I’m just going to list random things as they come to mind.  Here goes nothing:

  1. I was born September 23rd, which means if you follow astrology I am a Libra and I fit the personality criteria.
  2. I have lived most of my life in unique places:
    a.  Born in Traverse City, Michigan — the Cherry Capitol of the World
    b.  Lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan, which has one of the highest artificially
    created ski jumps in the world.
    d.  From the time I was 6 until just before my 21st birthday I lived in Eaton
    Rapids, Michigan — the only Eaton Rapids on Earth and also once famous for
    its mineral springs.
    e.  I now live in St. Clair, Michigan, which has the longest fresh water boardwalk
    in the world and is located on the St. Clair River, one of the busiest shipping
    channels in the world.
  3. When I was a child I wanted to be an actress/movie star, a veterinarian, and a writer.
  4. I work full time as a paralegal, plus I am a photographer and a writer.
  5. I have never learned my multiplication tables.
  6. I hate personal confrontation but like to stir up controversy in my writing.
  7. I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian and am an occasional opinion columnist for the Port Huron Times Herald.
  8. My favorite writer as a child was Nancy Drew, and as a teen I enjoyed reading Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.
  9. I now read a variety of genres, but primarily non-fiction.
  10. My favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla.
  11. I was married for 34 years and widowed at age 55.
  12. I was once an avid collector of Precious Moments figurines.
  13. I am a scrapbooker.
  14. I am the mother of two (son and daughter) and have a total of six grandchildren, but unfortunately only have contact with three of them.
  15. I am writing a book about our families involvement with CPS and my husband and my battle with them when attempting to adopt two of our grandchildren.
  16. I love to travel and hope to do more once I reach retirement.
  17. I have a tendancy to become emotionally attached to possessions.
  18. For the past 37 years I have slept on, and still sleep on, a free-flow water bed.
  19. My house is filled with items my deceased husband picked up when going through people’s trash looking for metal scrap.
  20. I have a large collection of bookmarks, most of them obtained for free.

So those are my 20 items.  Nothing too off the wall or bizarre.  Just simple little things that reveal who I am.   What I learned from this, is that coming up with 20 things to list about myself was more difficult than I anticipated.  I’m sure once I post this more exciting, fun things will come to mind.  That is just how life goes.

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Society is a Mess

I have had this jumbling around in my mind for a while now, the horrid mess that society here in the U.S. has become.  It is as if some people have lost compassion, morals, and are on an ego trip.

One area in which I think the media services the perpetrator rather than the victims is mass shootings.    A “nobody” who wants recognition for whatever reason loads themselves up with firepower and ammunition, then goes into some location where they are likely to find a large portion of unarmed victims and opens fire.   The victims have had their lives changed forever, if they are still alive.

part-of-culturesA prime target has become schools, where firearms are not allowed.   By an act of violence upon the innocent the “nobody” — a coward in my eyes because of the venue and victim type he/she chooses — has now become a celebrity.  Thanks to mass media the shooter’s photo is displayed on TV and in newspapers across the country repeatedly, video clips of the shooting and aftermath are played again and again.  Whether captured or killed, the shooter’s name will go down in history of having done something that made them headline news…a celebrity of sorts, even if for the negative they created.

It makes me wonder, would people be so inclined to perform such heinous acts of violence  if the perpetrator was only mentioned once, or their photograph shown for a very short, limited period of time and only in passing?  What if the person who committed the act was “brushed under the rug” so to speak and the news only focused on the victims from the beginning?  Would this decrease the desire to do something considered breaking news, something that the media follows for days or weeks?  It is certainly something to consider.

Another thing that bothers me is the influx of adults who are being found to have sexually abused large amounts of minors or adults in vulnerable positions.  Larry Nassar and Bill Cosby are two recent examples.  While Bill Cosby was already a household name for positive reasons and his name now tainted, Larry Nassar was not widely known until the large sex abuse scandal became national news.  Once again the news media turned a pedophile into a glorified celebrity.   There aren’t many people who hear the name “Nassar” and don’t know who is being referred to.  I have mixed feelings about this.the-great-hope-of-society-is-in-individual-character-quote-1

I think there is a fine line between “the right to know” for both the benefit of news and our own personal protection and the ego trip these people get in obtaining celebrity status, even if in a negative manner.  People such as the mass shooter or sexual abuser, in my opinion, are lacking in self-esteem and/or are so self-absorbed and egotistical that they are unwilling or unable to put the feelings of others before their own personal desires.  This leads them to harm or abuse those around them and in doing so they gain a feeling of power and control.   It would be interesting to see if horrors such as these would be reduced if there were no recognition for such dastardly deeds.  We will probably never know the answer.

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Life in the Fast Lane

There was once a popular song by the Eagles, with the lyric “Life in the Fast Lane, surely make you lose your mind.”  That is what my life has felt like these past few weeks.  I finish a day or a weekend and wonder how it went by so fast.  I never get as much completed as I want.

Sometimes when life is making you feel compressed you need to take a step back and relax.  Trying to paddle faster when you feel as if you are sinking just wears out your energy and you drown.  Taking a break can restore energy and prepare you for the next round of chaos.

I have had a whirlwind going around me due to a series of events in my life….a friend who has been staying with me for the past eight months is getting ready to leave on a new adventure of full-time RV life.  My son, who was in prison for six years, came home on the 20th of March and is staying with me.  I have come to the conclusion that I need to downsize and have to go through all of my belongings and determine what I am going to keep and what must go.

Each of these things in and of itself are good changes.  Compiled into one they are overwhelming.  I look around my house and the massive amount of things I must sort through and am not sure where to start.  My son is helping, he has started working on the side of the basement that was my husband’s workshop.  I have set a deadline for getting all of this completed, which in some ways increases the panic of how much must be done.

Even though my daughter and her children live in a separate house, the adjustment for all of us to my son coming home after so long has not been easy.  My daughter is living in a home that my son once lived in.  When he went to prison the belongings he had in that home had to be boxed up.  Both my daughter and son have items in my house that have to be cleaned out.  The sorting, cleaning, and relationship adjustments can be stressful.

Even though I am trying to slow down, I continue to live life in the fast lane.  This week I ate dinner out four of the five work nights because of my schedule…writers meeting, shutterbug meeting, haircut, and shopping all done after work created the preference to dine out rather than in.  Saturday I am on the road around the time I normally step out of the shower so I can attend a writer’s conference an hour from home.  Sunday I’ll need to tackle household chores, and of course Monday it all starts again.   Life in the fast lane, will surely make me lose my mind!

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First Day of Freedom

Imagine six years of life where your movements are controlled, where you have no privacy, where you can make phone calls out but no one can call you, your mail is read prior to you receiving it, where you can never go visit, but must wait for people to visit you.   That is the life my son led from the time he was 24 years old until he was 30.

When he received notice in December that he had received parole he began counting down the days.  March 20th seemed like it was in the distant future for him.  For me it went fast.  I was trying to get things done prior to his release, and of course I made the six hour drive to pick him up.

Patrick was released from Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula at 8:00 am March 20, 2018.  Although he is on a tether for the first six months of his two year parole, and he must abide by curfews that in the beginning are tight, it is considerably better than the spot he was at.  So how did Patrick spend his first day of freedom?

I picked him up at the correctional facility, we loaded his belongings into the car and than took our last two prison photos, a “selfie” of the two of us, and then one of him in front of the facility.  Every time I (and my now deceased husband) visited we paid to have photos taken of us together and one of Patrick alone, so this was our last prison photo shoot.

Our first stop was a gas station/McDonald’s combination where he got a McGriddle sandwich — also one of my favorites.  When he asked if he could have bacon added to the sandwich the girl responded “you can have whatever you want” and Patrick responded “those are words I’m not used to hearing.”

I had purchased him a cell phone, but phones have advanced considerably in the past six years.  He was on the phone talking as we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge and I heard him say that the water looked really cool with the ice on it and “if I wasn’t on the phone talking to you I could take a picture.”  He got instructions on how to stay on the phone and take a photo at the same time.

Two years ago my husband/Patrick’s father passed away, and I had obtained permission from the parole agent to make a few stops, Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly being one, where Patrick saw his father’s grave-site for the first time.

We then headed to Fort Gratiot, he did not have to check in with the parole agent until the next morning, and we had permission to go shopping at Kohls to get him some clothes and then out to dinner.  We ended up spending about three hours in Kohls.

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Patrick tries on a hat at Kohs

Patrick helped me pick out short outfits for my grandchildren’s Easter baskets, then we shopped for clothing for him.  He had changed sizes while incarcerated and had to try on a few things.  A pair of tennis shoes, four pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one shirt (couldn’t find many he liked), some boxers, and socks and we felt he had a nice start.  I had already purchased him a nice pair of fleece pants, hoodie, polo, and a v-neck t-shirt prior to picking him up.  During our shopping Patrick had to exit the building and stand in an open area of the parking lot so the satellite could take a picture of him/his location.  He was told that happens frequently in large department stores or malls if in for a while.

Next stop was Red Lobster.  Lobster Fest is going on, and we had the same meal — two different kinds of lobster and green beans with mushrooms, and of course salad and biscuits.  The place was quiet, the service was good, the food was fantastic.

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Dinner at Red Lobster

We were on our way home when my daughter called and said her boyfriend had the truck torn apart and needed to pick up a hose to complete it, could I swing by, pick him up and take him around the corner to the auto store.  I went by her house, dropped off Patrick, picked up Rob and took him to the auto shop, then went back around and dropped off Rob and picked up Patrick and we came home and unloaded the car.

The evening was finished off with Caroline (my daughter) and her three kids coming over for a while, and then Patrick and I watched a bit of TV.  It was a wonderful day for me, and I’m sure a great first day of freedom for him as well.

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What makes a weekend successful?

When you work 40 hours a week, the weekend is your time for everything – social activities, housework, projects, shopping, you pile it all in and attempt to get it done, frequently without success.

Last Thursday I created a to-do list for everything I want to get done by March 18th — that gives me two weekends and the evenings after work.  It is an extensive list, I used a sheet of notebook paper to make it out.  This being the end of the first weekend, I am already feeling either frustration or panic over whether or not I will get everything done.  That got me to thinking, what makes a weekend successful?  76602-there-arent-enough-days-in-the-weekend-quote-1

Friday after work I went to an opening of an art show exhibit at Studio 1219, an art studio I have belonged to for years.  I was there until 8 pm, viewing art and talking with several other artists I know.  I stopped for dinner on the way home.

Once home I cleaned out “junk” email, then shopped online for a new laptop computer.  Being the first time I have made a computer purchase on my own (that was always my husband’s department) I had no clue if what I was looking at was good for speed, memory, graphics, etc.    Luckily a friend had recently ordered a laptop so I pulled up the unit they purchased and compared their information to mine.  Feeling confident my selection was good I placed the order — laptop computer, laptop sleeve/case and external mouse.    I went to bed at 3 am….so much for weekend rest!

Saturday I started a major project — cleaning out my deceased husband’s office.  He had let it pile up the last couple years he was alive and I was literally stepping over and around stacks on the floor whenever I had to go in there.  I pulled a considerable amount of stuff out into the upper landing and found the floor.  Then I got a step stool and hauled everything out of the closet to see what was there.  I spent quite a bit of time going through things, setting some aside as “keep” or “unsure” and a lot of items went into boxes marked “sell.”  Boxes marked for sale I began stacking into the back of the closet.  I still have a lot of stuff on the landing to go through, put away, or temporarily store somewhere during the cleaning process (I currently have a bathroom blocked).   I still have more on the floor in the office to sort, not to mention on shelves and in cabinets, but I have made a decent dent and can actually walk into the room now.

best_is_all_that_matters_1438597959Sunday morning I did a few household chores and worked on my computer.  I had to prepare an Agenda for a meeting and email it out, preview a CD for a meeting later this week to make sure it ran on the laptop okay, plus a few other minor projects.  I then headed out the door for a 2:00 pm lunch event with the St. Clair County Eagle Watcher’s, a photography group I belong to.   This year’s event included a showing of five birds of prey.  Camera’s were clicking as each bird was displayed and talked about.   By 4:30 I was on the road and headed to purchase groceries.

I arrived home around 7:00 pm, unloaded and put away groceries, then chatted on the phone for about 30 minutes with a friend.  I sorted about four days worth of accumulated mail, hand-wrote a draft to a column for a newspaper due this week, then drafted out this blog, which I will likely review and post Monday morning.

There are still a lot of things left on my list to do, way more than I have crossed out.   Now the question is, even though I haven’t completed my list, was my weekend successful?  I did attend two social events, spent the majority of one day working on a large cleaning/sorting project, completed a few other tasks, went grocery shopping, plus drafted a column and this blog,

While it is easy to look at the number of things still on my to-do list and get frustrated at what is left to do, I think I have to log the weekend as a success.

How was your weekend?  Was it a success?  What did you do?  Was it filled with fun, work, or a combination?

 

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Good Morning!

I was at a loss on what to write about this week.  So much negativity in the news with school shootings, peace officer shootings, and of course the impact statements of victims of Larry Nassar.  While we want to know what is going on in our world, and all of these items are certainly newsworthy, it still can oppress the spirit and drain you of energy.

A cute frog with buggy eyes is smiling as it hangs on a tree branch surrounded by the words "Good Morning, Have a Happy Day..."

Image and Quote found online     Author unknown

Then I was online and stumbled across a cute little Good Morning image.  It immediately made me smile.  The visual impact of a buggy eyed frog grinning as it precariously hangs on by its feet from a tree branch is enough to bring a grin to anyone’s face.  The message “Good Morning, Have a Happy Day” just says it all.  Regardless of what your situation make the best of it.

We are a visual world and it seems we are constantly burdened with negative images.  TV programs that we watch for relaxation are often crime or medical dramas, the news is laden with the negative rather than the positive, newspapers frequently spotlight the worst of the worst rather than the best of the best on their front pages.   Even video games that our youth play are laden with crime….car jackings, gun fights, fist fights, and even sex and/or hookers can appear in these games.  What kind of message is this sending?  What kind of an impact is all this negative focus having on not only adults, but more importantly on children and teens?

A young boy wearing a striped shirt and printed shorts that hang almost to his ankles walks away with his head down, the quote says "Sometimes it is better to be alone nobody can hurt you."

Image and Quote found online      Author unknown

Take a look at another quote I found online.  This image, even without the quote, portrays sadness.  The little boy wearing miss-matched clothing, walks away with his head bowed.

The visual impact is an overall feeling of desolation.  The quote “Sometimes it’s better to be alone nobody can hurt you” confirms what the photo says.    You wonder what happened to this little boy that he is feeling so desperate and alone.   Is there abuse in the home?  Is he being bullied at school?  Is he lacking in friends?

The viewer’s mood is impacted by this image in a caring, sympathetic way, but the image also has a tendency to give a feeling of depression to the viewer.

Whales swim by a quote "Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too"

Image and Quote found online Author unknown

We are a visual society.  We are a society impacted by a lot of negativity in our lives.  The way each person approaches life and the way they conduct themselves when dealing with others has a large impact not only on their own life, but also on that of others.  It is easy to be nice, happy and courteous to a buggy eyed, smiling frog.  Keep in mind that the difficult adult or child you encounter may inside be that little boy, dealing with demons you are unaware of and can not even begin to imagine.  Regardless of who you are dealing with, try to be that kind, smiling frog in any situation.  Be kind and courteous and maybe you can turn their attitude around in the process.

Smile – Be Happy – Have a Great Day!

 

 

 

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Maybe I’m related to Lucille Ball

It has been one of those weeks when you could take my life and drop it into an I Love Lucy sitcom and it would be perfect.  For those of you who are too young to remember, Lucille Ball was a wonderful comedy actress who stared in several shows that carried her name…I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucille Ball Show, and Here’s Lucy. 

The fun part of watching a Lucy show was that you just knew she was going to do something goofy, create a catastrophe out of something simple, and the audience would find themselves laughing hysterically at her antics.  It was a type of “if anything can go wrong, it will” and everyone loved watching.

lucille-ball-desi-arnaz-marriage-secrets-scandals-7

Lucille Ball- photo found on internet

Now we take my week.  Sunday I was fixing dinner and blew a circuit breaker.  I went downstairs, reset the circuit, continued fixing dinner and blew the same circuit again.  Before I could make a bee-line for the door the Master Electrician currently residing in my house stopped me.  I couldn’t reset that breaker, he had to analyze the situation.  Never mind that dinner is in the oven and that oven is no longer heating because it is on the blown circuit, the analysis had to be done first.  Once he had analyzed the situation and made his determination I was free to reset the breaker and continue with meal preparation.  However there was a glitch.  I had lost track of how much time the food had been in the oven, and while I was getting a detailed explanation on his process the fish became quite overcooked and hard.   Lets just say that meal left a lot to be desired.

Monday comes and I walk into work.  The bottom of my shoes must have been wet from the snow and when I hit the tile floor of the kitchen area my feet flew out from under me and I went down hard on the tile floor, hitting the back of my head on the refrigerator as I went down.  My startled scream was loud enough it brought all three men who were in the building running.  Why can’t clumsy things happen when there is no one around to see them?  Then once I am again on my feet I open the upper cupboard door to fix myself a cup of coffee and in the process hit myself in the head with the cupboard door.  How could I not have enough sense to move my head out of the way?   I’m still recovering from the injuries incurred that morning.

Tuesday was hectic but I seemed to make it through the day unscathed.  I fixed spaghetti for dinner and decided to have a bottle of wine with it.  Only I could manage to get the cork stuck up inside the corkscrew…but with a bit of persistence I got it back out.  Only a moment to recover on that one.

Wednesday, hump day, shouldn’t I be on a roll to recovery now?  Oh heck no.  I was planning to take a second car I have into the dealership for service.  A friend of mine gets all the snow off it, I go to hit the unlock button and open the door.  The battery was so dead the car doors would not unlock.  We finally got the door unlocked by inserting the key, but it was frozen shut!  There is only one door on the entire vehicle with a key hole,  so only one door we could work with.   I called the towing service I have, but after about 45 minutes on the phone they informed me that until I got the door unfrozen and open they would not be able to assist me.   I called the dealership and they advised me to pour hot water on it.  Four gallons of hot water later the door seamed to be devoid of ice, but it still would not budge an inch.   I called the dealership again to explain my problem.   The gentleman from service came out and by the time he arrived the hot water had seeped far enough in that the door opened.  The battery was still completely dead and had to be jumped, but at least the vehicle is now at the dealership.  Between a recall, service I scheduled and a warning light being on, it will be there a while.

If that wasn’t enough I had a meeting to attend Wednesday night, and without anything major happening I did manage to call a green frog orange and a woman named Donna I referred to as Phyllis.  I think because she has such a funny personality I was thinking of Phyllis Diller…..that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So today is Thursday and I didn’t have any disasters, just fumbles.  I was sitting at breakfast talking when my friend says “are you going in to late work today?”  Crap!  I made it…barely!  Then when fixing dinner the potatoes were a bit under-cooked and the seasoning on the salmon wasn’t bad, just something we weren’t particularly fond of.  The bagged salad turned out great!  I think I need a vacation.

Wait!  That is what I forgot about.  I booked a vacation, a real 11-day vacation including airline flights.  Then as I was reading the airline confirmation it said that you should check and make sure you don’t need a visa for the country you are traveling to.  I knew I don’t need a visa, but I clicked on the button anyway and discovered that when traveling to Canada by air they require you to have a passport that does not expire for at least six months after your last flight.  Mine expires five months after my last flight.  I thought I was good, only to discover I have to renew my passport.

Now mind you I have plenty of time, but it did not do the mind and stress level any good.  I found out I can renew by mail and located a local CVS that does passport photos.  I went there after work to have it done, but the girl taking the photos was short and the first two didn’t turn out right, then the camera battery died, then my eyes were looking off to the side.  It was the fourth or fifth photo before we got a good one.  I didn’t think I was ever going to get out of there.   So I now have the application completed and ready to take to the post office tomorrow.  Lets hope that goes as planned.

Tomorrow is Friday and I hate to speculate on what could possibly go wrong.  Hopefully nothing.  With any luck it will be a no-excitement, ho-hum boring day.  I wonder if Lucille Ball ever had an uneventful, boring day?

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Freedom on the Horizon

For the past six years my son, Patrick, has called me every week, sometimes more than once a week, and each time we engage in a 15 minute conversation.  He always calls me.  I am not allowed to call him back.  We try to exchange as much information as possible in those weekly conversations.  Things that need to be handled, questions, and some general fun information on what is going on in each other’s life.

This past week Patrick called me in the middle of the day while I was at work.  It was a very special call and he was bursting with good news.  He finally received notice on the outcome of his parole hearing, which I talked about in All We Can Do Is Wait.  He is being paroled!  On March 20, 2018 I will be picking Patrick up from the prison and driving him home.

He will be on a two-year parole and is being released on a tether.  It is a six-hour drive home and Patrick will need to report to his parole agent here in our county that same day.   He will need to get a driver’s license.  The majority of his clothes will not fit as he has gotten taller and broader in the past six years.  Patrick was twenty-four when he went in, and will be thirty when he comes out.

Patrick and Grace taken during prison visit October 30, 2017

Patrick and Grace, October 30, 2017

It is exciting to have Patrick coming home.  In the time he was incarcerated he lost two daughters (my granddaughters) to foster care/adoption.  He also missed the funeral/memorial services of one grandmother, two grandfathers, and his father (my husband).  In addition to a general loss of freedom, those who are incarcerated can lose much on a personal/emotional scale as well.

We are both looking forward to the day of Patrick’s parole with excitement, but I think also a bit of trepidation.   Neither of us are the same people we were when he was arrested all those years ago.  There will be an adjustment period as he will be living with me initially while he gets his feet under him.  My home will need to meet the requirements of his parole.   He is used to living under the constant scrutiny and control of a prison and will now have the ability to enjoy freedom within the confines of his parole requirements.    He is used to living with all men.  I am used to living alone.  It will definitely be an adjustment.

The countdown has begun.  Seventy-seven days to go, but who is counting.  Freedom is on the horizon.

 

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Tradition with a Twist

As we celebrate Thanksgiving the minds of many is already on what has to be done in preparation for Christmas…the shopping, baking, decorating, and the traditional Christmas card mailing.

I have noticed over the years that the number of cards received has dropped tremendously.  Is it because people are too busy to bother?  Is it because people think an email “Happy Holidays” is as good as a traditional snail mail greeting?   Is it because the price of Christmas cards has become so outrageous, and then once bought and prepared the postage still has to be purchased?  The words Tradition and Change

It could be any or all of those reasons, but I tend to believe the cost of cards has had a huge impact on the traditional sending of the card.   The last time I purchased cards, which was several years ago, it was over fifty dollars just for the cards.  I had always sent the traditional card with a newsletter on our happenings for the past year typed and included, and usually a bit of a handwritten personal note on the card as well.   Then life happenings put me in a position to change all that.

In 2010 I did not get my traditional cards bought and the holiday crept up on me.  Still I did not want to miss the traditional sending of the holiday greetings, so I did it with a twist.  I used my Publisher program to make a Christmas Greetings newsletter.  I set it up to read like a newspaper with various topics and column headings and included a few pictures of the family as well.  A separate column was set up where I wrote about each of my adult children and my grandchildren.  Other topics might have been travel, house remodeling/upgrades, and other such items.  I then mailed the newsletter, with no card, in regular #10 envelopes.  I folded them so that the “Christmas Greetings” header was visible when it was pulled from the envelope to give it a bit of holiday feel.

My newsletter was well received.  People enjoyed getting lots of news on the family.  I also heard that the newsletter format was liked because it was a rather long letter, but they were able to pick up and read various columns and then sit it down and finish later without loosing where they had been.   I have not purchased any Christmas cards since then.  Every year I continue to do the Christmas newsletter.  It is printed back-to-back, which cuts down on paper.  Some years it is one sheet (2 pages), other years it has been 2 sheets (4 pages).  A red pickup truck with a Christmas tree in the bed drives down a snow covered driveway toward a large farmhouse decorated for christmas. The ground and trees are covered with snow. A dog walks across the front yard. Red bows and wreaths hang from the mailbox, a pinetree in the front yard and the house.

What has happened over the years since I started this?  Last year I received three “letters only” Christmas greetings.   So far I am the only one using newspaper format, the others were written in the traditional letter style, but they were full of information and happenings from throughout the year.   I enjoy receiving Christmas newsletters.  It is nice to hear about what people you are away from are doing, and it is more personal than a standard card.  It shows you took time, put effort into the greeting, even if it is a letter that has been printed and photo copied.  It still took a bit of time to compose that newsletter.

As we enter the holiday frenzy I challenge you to do tradition with a twist.  If you have already purchased your Christmas cards, then enclose a short newsletter about the past year inside each.  If you have not purchased cards, consider composing a Christmas Greetings newsletter and mail those out to family and friends instead.  You may find, as I did, that in a couple years you start getting those in return as well.  Tradition with a Twist!

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All We Can Do Is Wait

On October 31, 2017 while everyone was prepping for the evenings Halloween fun, I was attending my son’s parole hearing.  It was the first either of us have ever been through so the nerves leading up to the day were rough for both of us, but I’m sure more for him than I.  I visited Patrick the evening before the hearing.  We had a nice visit and were both quite relaxed by that point.  We were as prepared as possible.

Patrick and Grace taken during prison visit October 30, 2017

Patrick and I, October 30, 2017

The parole hearing was scheduled at 8:30 am, so McLeod House, the bed and breakfast where I was staying in Newberry was kind enough to fix breakfast for me a bit earlier than normal.  This was nice, as I was able to attend with a satisfied appetite.  When I arrived at the prison I had to go through the normal security check procedures used when visiting a prisoner.

The hearing was being conducted by video, with Patrick and I seated side-by-side at a table and the gentleman from the parole board on two-way video with us.  We could only see part of his face, but we could tell he was inputting information into a computer, reading information on Patrick, and forming his questions as he went.

This was surprising to me.  I expected them to have a written list of questions they went by, but that was not the case.  Obviously each parole hearing is conducted “on the fly” so to speak, with questions tailored specifically to each individual person and new questions arising based on the answers the parole board member receives.

When I arrived the parole board member asked if I had ever attended a parole hearing before, and when I told him I had not he explained that for the majority of the hearing he would be talking to Patrick and I was to sit quietly and listen, and I was not to help Patrick with his answers, nudge him, kick him under the table, or in any other way influence his answers.  At the end I would be given an opportunity to speak.

The gentleman covered my Patrick’s crimes, asked him some questions, and then asked me what I thought about his crimes.  That was a question I had not anticipated and all I can hope is my reaction/answer satisfied what he was looking for.    When given the opportunity I also stated that I have room for Patrick to stay with me, a car he can use, etc.  However given the nervousness of the situation I know I forgot part of what I intended to say.

The hearing took approximately thirty minutes.  When it was over we were advised it may take weeks or months to hear a decision.  Patrick has one required class he will be finished with in a couple weeks, and we anticipate they may wait until he has completed that before issuing a decision.  Hopefully it is not too long.

There is no visiting once the hearing is complete.  I was able to hug him goodbye and then I left the prison.  His earliest parole date is March 19, 2018, so there is plenty of time between now and then.  Hopefully the decision is made quickly so we know the situation.  It is in the parole boards hands so all we can do is wait.

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Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, decisions, Family, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, parents, time