Category: The Serious Stuff


Have you noticed that lately there have been a lot of posts on Facebook with the suggestion of what this country is missing.

Jesus is the big one. We need more Jesus and more faith in God.meme jesus

 

Other people are wishing for morals and manners.

Meme morals

One of my friends shared a meme that said we need more front porches being utilized by friends and neighbors.Meme porches

My favorite is that we need to help Grandma snap more green beans.

Meme grandma beans

I am sure you are waiting for me to have some snappy come back for all of this. But I am going to keep it simple.

Great! You start.

That’s right. If you have the guts to put this on the wall, then start doing it. No one else will know what you want until you start modeling the behavior. You know that saying from Ghandi about being the change you want to see in the world? The one you have snorted about and said “Yeah, right?” That’s what I am asking you to do.

Oh, there are lots of people out there willing to be jerks, to not hold the door open or push their way to the front of the line when you were clearly there ahead of them. So be their opposite. Hold a door open, say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ when it is deserved. Show people how manners work and chances are they will start to pick something up.

You know that mom who is trying to get around Walmart with the screaming kid right after she gets off of work? Pay attention and you might find that she has told the child he is staying in the cart and cannot run around. Instead of standing with your buds and criticizing her for having a yelling child, support her for being willing to say ‘no’ to the child and stand her ground.

And that one about Jesus being needed in our country? Show people what Christian love is all about and, to paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, use words if necessary. Be the only bible that others may read and live out the behavior Christ wanted us to model. And then do something bigger, like actually go to church. Once you go to church, start helping with a mission project or with youth group. I promise you will expand your thoughts and your faith. I can’t guarantee there will not be some frustration at times but how you help others will matter.

The same goes with the porch thing. Start hanging out on your porch during good weather days. Ask your friends to join you, sometime. Say hello to neighbors as they pass by on their regular walks. As you work on the flower garden in front of your house, sooner or later some gardener will ask you questions. Join the conversation and be a good neighbor.

Lastly, there is the thing about the green beans. Not everyone likes green beans, not everyone likes to snap green beans. So what. Go to the farmers market, buy a bunch for Sunday dinner, invite the family over, and have the grand kids help you snap the beans. They will hate you for it. Again, so what. Start talking to them while snapping beans about life, about memories, about them. Expand to other veggies when green beans go out of season. Expand to making cookies or pie crust together. Keep talking.

Will any of this instantly make the world a better place? Probably not. But it will make the world around you better. You will know that you taught people how to be polite, how to give to others, and how faith works in your life. You can teach them how to behave in the best possible manner. And you might learn how to cook green beans in a tasty fashion. I prefer saute in butter and thin sliced almonds.

How are you going to make your corner of the world better?

 

 

A few months ago I read an interesting article by a woman who is Type One diabetic. She talked about the mis-understandings people have about her illness, how much people don’t understand.

What people do not understand is that Type One develops when a person is young and will never go away. What people don’t understand is how she can manage her diet and still eat most of what she wants. What people don’t understand is that medication alone will not control her illness, she must take insulin. There are no cures by eating Iceberg Lettuce or Okra or Cinnamon pills.

And one of the things she gets pissed about is having her chronic illness confused with Type Two diabetes. Because, after all, people with Type Two are just lazy. If they ate right and exercised, they wouldn’t have this illness anymore.

diabetesOh, I wish that was true.

Since last August the monster I was always terrified of reared its ugly head. My blood glucose numbers were at high levels, enough that my doctor called me and told me to pick up my new medication and start taking it immediately. My A1C was a 12. I knew I was tired but I also work a lot along with a bunch of volunteering.

The diagnosis came after I worked to lose weight and change my diet. I exercised and stopped eating white bread, white sugar, white rice. I saw my belly get smaller and I thought I had made headway. I managed to lose 40+ pounds and thought I was safe.

But no.

At first I was able to get my A1C down to 7.3. I worked harder, walked more, gave up soda and flavored coffee. Instead of losing weight, as I had seen other friends do after their diagnosis, I gained weight especially in the tummy area. So I doubled down, made sure I did that mile walk minimum daily. I ate more salads and only dark chocolate. I don’t eat after 9 pm and drink a ton of water. And my morning numbers are still high.

So much for dieting and exercise.

The sad fact is that Type Two diabetes is hereditary. Just being in certain ethnic groups puts you at risk, such as African, Asian, Native American, Latino, or Pacific Islander ancestry. If your parent is Type Two, there is a 10-15% chance their child will have it. Both of my parents, one grandparent from each side, and at least one great-grandparent on each side had it. Worse yet, I was gestational diabetic with almost all of my pregnancies. My last child weighed ten pounds.

Lately, I have felt as if I was a sitting duck and there was no avoiding this diagnosis.

diabetes vegetablesThe truth is, you don’t get Type Two without a genetic pre-deposition. My mother is a thin woman who walks regularly. She does not fit the profile while I do with the extra bit of weight and two desk jobs. We are both dealing with Type Two but she doesn’t have to take insulin. I do.

You can talk to me about alternative treatments because I am willing to listen. I might even be willing to try it. But don’t sit there telling me I am lazy and not willing to work the diet. Don’t sit there and tell me if I just work it, I will be cured.

It might be comforting in some weird way to think that Type One and Type Two are different beasts altogether. It’s like you want to have a pity party because your illness is worse. Sounds like the kind of fights that happen between autistic moms who tell Asperger moms their kids aren’t really autistic because their kid is functioning while a different kid will never be able to take care of themselves or talk or get out of bed.

At their essences, both forms of diabetes are the same. The body has too much glucose and the pancreas cannot do its job without supplemental assistance. I can’t just lose weight by exercising and working my diet to make it my Type Two diabetes go away. I have tried. And I really resent people who don’t get it, even fellow diabetics.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go to bed. Getting plenty of sleep is one way to control your sugar numbers, so I hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Box

Because of the new bathroom laws, I am seeing memes and video posts in which men are saying they are doing this to protect their women and girls from rape.

Texas-Sheriff-Transgender Meme

 

WARNING!!!! I am about to let loose some opinions that will not please people.

You know, as much as I appreciate the concern for my safety and my daughter’s safety and the safety of all women out there, I can think of a few things that might actually do a better job than bathroom laws.

  1. Believe Rape Victims. How do rapists get away with what they do? The first thing a woman reporting a raped is asked “What did  you do that sent the wrong signal?” or “Why should we believe you because you are a known whore, liar, druggie, female, or all of the above?” We are not believed that all we did was be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Worse yet, every guy has a story in the back of his head about how some guy’s life was ruined by a false allegation.                                                                                                                                                                           That is what rapists such as Daniel Holtzclaw count on. The former Oklahoma City police officer was convicted on 18 out of 36 charges of rape and sexual assault in January 2016. His thirteen victims included a 17-year-old and a 58-year-old grandmother.Most of his victims lived in the poor part of the city and have a history of arrests for drug and prostitution charges.These women knew they were not going to be believed and did not report the sexual assaults. That is until Holtzclaw forced himself on Jannie Ligons during an unauthorized stop after his shift was done. She reported his behavior which led to other discrepancies in Holtzclaw’s records.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Yes, some women do lie about being raped, some have regrets about sexual behavior, or are forced to call it rape by their parents. But most women don’t lie and they don’t tell because they know they won’t be believed.

 

2.        Test the Rape Kits                                                                                                                     rape kit Strange things happens when rape kits get processed as they should.   Serial rapists, the ones that should frighten the bejesus out of everyone, get found. Cleveland found this out the hard way after two reporters, Rachel Dissel and Leila Atassi,  in 2010 began a series of stories in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about rape kits that were not processed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Starting in 2011, 4000 rape kits were tested, 1600 kits held usable DNA, 350 cases were prosecuted,  leading to the conviction of 100 rapists. Another interesting fact came together, 30% were committed by serial rapists. These are the guys who don’t care who they assault, they just want the feel of power that comes from violating another human being. One man, Elias Acevado, confessed to a number of rapes, at least two murders, and the sexual abuse of three of his daughters. One of the girls thanked Dissel because she reported her father’s abuse but was not believed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Another strange result?   Violent crime is down in Cleveland.

3. End the Statue of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Abuse                                Whatever you might think about Dennis Hasert, his case showed that it is hard for people to come forward with allegations. Worse yet, the laws that were relaxed to make it possible for people to report abuse would not have helped Hasert’s victims as they were too old to report what happened by 2000 when Illinois changed their state laws saying you have until 20 years after your 18th birthday.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               While several states have no statute of limitations for sexual assault, especially that involving children, there is no single rule. Some might allow 3 years, others give you a ten-year time frame to report. The Bill Cosby case is making California consider a change to no statute of limitations because of the scope and length of time of his accusers. Ask Corey Feldman why he cannot file charges against the men who molested him.

4. Stop the ‘Boys will Be Boys’ ideology                                                                                      Would the athletes of Steubenville had been better served if they grew up thinking their actions do have consequences? That perhaps raping a passed-out girl and creating a video as they were doing it might have ruined their futures more than the girl filing an assault report?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Was the girl stupid for getting so drunk she passed out? Probable. But nor does that mean it was OKay to assault her. No way, no how. Stop telling boys their bad behavior is OKay, stop laughing at their sexist antics, stop playing along with them so adult men can feel like they are still one of the boys. Stop demonstrating to boys it is OKay to cat-call and comment on a woman’s tits, ass, or body as if it is your property despite the woman being a stranger.

Do we live in a rape culture? Yes and no. It is not as in your face as it is in some cultures. Instead, it is insidious. We are constantly told how to act without being told outright. We are judged constantly on our looks, on our dress, on what body parts we do or don’t have. And if we speak out – as Beyonce has started doing – we are told to be quiet, that our opinion is not needed. Those in charge will take care of everything.

The men in charge, the men not testing rape kits, the men raping the women.

If my opinion is not enough, listen to Samantha B tell it like it is in her own unique way.

Editor’s Note: I wrote this a week before the Brock Turner sentencing. I thought it would be a good idea to sit on this essay and make sure it was the right thing to post. I have no doubts anymore.

 

The last few weeks, my reading pile has included a variety of books whose focus is North Korea.

These were not easy books to read, in fact it was dammed dis-heartening. I read about a country suffering through near poverty while its leader lives the good life.

Well, when he is not having his mistress shot because his wife found out about the affair. Granted I have only hearsay for that one. But it is pretty certain that his uncle is dead after some of his bolder acts came to be known. The man disappeared and no one has seen him. It is assumed that he is dead – somewhere. If one story is true, it was a very public and nasty death.

esape from camp 14This does not surprise me. Especially after I finished reading Escape from Camp 14. This non-fiction book, which is currently up for the Lincoln Award, tells the story of a young man , named Shin, who was born in Camp 14, a brutal gulag meant for those who went against the government in some way. If that isn’t enough, the government gathers your family, have people ‘mate’ or marry so that they can punish your children.

It is the whole idea of punishing three generations of wrongdoers. People within the camp are taught to snitch on each other, to always work alone, and to never trust one another. God forbid if you try to escape and fail. Chances are you will shot or hung in front of a crowd so your mistakes are an example to everyone else.

Recently it has come out that Shin changed facts around such as his mother, brother, and himself were transferred to a different camp, and that one escape attempt led him to being repatriated to North Korea.

Reluctant CommunistIt could lead you to discount the whole story until you read The Reluctant Communist by Charles Robert Jenkins and Jim Frederick. Jenkins was stationed in South Korea during the 1960s. While this was his second stint in South Korea, it was one filled with depression and loneliness. After eight years in the service, the Sargent wanted to go home and not be sent to Vietnam. That is when he deserted the Army and walked over the border to North Korea. Jenkins thought he would be sent home to face a court martial.

Instead he lived 40 years in a country that was brutal in its rations of food and money. He knows he had it better than most of the citizens but he dealt with irregular heating, electric service, and food sources. He was lucky to meet a Japanese woman and to have a true love match. Other American captives were ‘given’ women or eventually given a woman for a wife.

Because the Japanese government came looking for their abducted citizen, Jenkins’ wife Hitomi, was allowed to go back home. It would take nearly two years of effort on the part of the Japanese government  to get Jenkins and his two daughters into Indonesia to re-unite the family.

I raced through this book but would read various passages again so that I could truly understand what happened to Charles and Hitomi.

Without You There is no UsThe book that started me on this journey is the memoir by Suki Kim, Without You, There is No Us. It details the time Kim spent as a teacher at a university in Pyongyang, teaching English to children of the Korean elite. But even here, life is not privileged. Food seldom tastes good, even if there is meat. The electric service is spotty. Everyone’s computer is bugged so officials know what you are looking up at all times which was a huge fear when one of the other teachers stated they googled each of their co-workers.

Private conversations can only be had if you walk outside in the compound. And there is no such thing as a private conversation with students. You never know who is an informant and who is a rebel.

Kim tried to subtly introduce Western ideas but came to realize that she was only putting her students, whom she grew to love, in danger. Field trips for the teachers pointed out the abject poverty of the people. With her students not even allowed visits from their parents until school break times, Kim wondered about the life that her students lead outside of the university, if they had any freedom or were able to see other students like themselves.

You might say “That Shin guy lied, couldn’t these others be lying, too?” The problem is that there are too many stories from too many defectors. Why would thousands of people lie so grandly if this country was better than what it appears to be?

Then this week I heard about the Wired magazine article that talks with a man who smuggles thumb drives filled with American TV shows into North Korea. These are easier to hide than DVDs, easier to move around.  In doing this, the smugglers hope to show North Koreans that Americans do not focus on how to destroy their tiny country at all hours of the day.

Once upon a time, about 70 years ago, we said never again to things like the Holocaust and genocide. But with examples from North Korea and ISIS and Darfur and the break up of Yugoslavia, I wonder if that is ever possible. The only thing I do know is that we must keep working against the evil that deems we must obey or die.

Last night as I drove home, I found myself listening to Laurence Holmes on The Score.

Laurence HolmesI really like Laurence and his sports show because it is never just about sports. Sports is a big piece of his life but, as you listen, you realize there is a lot going on in Laurence’s life in a positive way.

It doesn’t hurt that he gave me a shout out once but I liked him way before that.

Last night, he discussed a documentary short produced by Joakim Noah, of the Chicago Bulls, on the effect of gun violence on those who survive, what it means to lose someone to violence.

Then he played the audio from the 8:49-minute clip. I found it heart-rendering. I found myself thinking the editor did a great job of telling these various stories from kids and Chicago Bulls players who lost loved ones to gun violence.

Could it lead to awards as Laurence thought it may? I don’t know but I do know that people who have been through this situation, of which there are too many, and watch this documentary will know that they are not alone. That there are people out there who know exactly how they feel.

And that it is okay to cry out those feelings and feel that loss.

Here is a link to that documentary.“You’re Not Alone”

A Helipad What?

I learned something new yesterday. There is a new parenting term out in the world.

Helipad Parent.

While listening to Bill and Wendy on WGN yesterday, they had a woman come on who came up with something new that describes her style of parenting.

Which is not to denigrate those helicpter parents per se. This is what works for them but I wanted to raise children who are capable of taking care of themselves. So does Katie Slivovsky who works at the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Katie Slivovsky with Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff

Katie Slivovsky with Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff

Katie admits in an essay on www.Freerangekids.com that she does not have the attention span to be a helicopter mom. Lord knows, I do not. But she is a loving prescence in her kids life who makes them a priority and always tries to listen to what they have to say. Her goal is to raise kids who know what to do in tricky situations when Mom is not there. And when the going gets rough, they know they have some place to land.

There are times when Katie admits that she can seem to be an unattentive parent. Such as when she completely missed the signs that her daughter might be diabetic. Personally, I might have missed that too if this is not something common in my family. I have a heightened awareness, she might not. I don’t think there is a need to kick her in the shins for that one.

The point here is not to look at helicopter parents and say “you’re doing it all wrong,” even if you think that. Which I do because I want my kids to be able to live and make decisions and learn from their mistakes while I am around to help them figure out a better way. The point is to say that there is this whole other way to do it. That you have to allow some hurts and failures and a soft place to land when wounds need licking.

Way back in high school and college, we studied different styles of parenting, one of which was called the Laissez-faire method. Which essentially means you let the kids do what they want, starting at a small age. While it certainly led to a child making mistakes to learn from, the problem is there are no rules as a guideline. That is not what Helipad parenting is about.

Helipad is about setting rules, guideline, and then allowing a child to be responsible for his/her school work/chores/responsibilities. It is about getting them ready for the time that adolescence hits when there will be choices that are not so easy.  It’s about being there to listen and to help. It is not about doing the kids’ homework for them.

Let’s face it, not every kid is going to work with a one-size fits all parenting philosophy. What works for one kid may not work for another. That requires us parents to bend and flex a bit.

Because this is a relatively new term, it has not been fully defined yet beyond what I have stated. There is a bit more that needs to be hammered out. And I do not see much difference in this and free-range parenting. But I really want to know what are your thoughts.

Are you a helipad parent?

Helipad

Get off your *** and vote

Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow is the final day for cards and letters in the mail telling us what a fool the other candidate is in their race. Tomorrow is the last day we will hear negative ads on the radio and TV.

Tomorrow is the day we vote.

Finally, I will get in the voting booth, hold my nose, and vote for the gubernatorial candidate who makes me wince less. Tomorrow, I tell a man who claims to run a small business what I think of him with my vote.

Picture by kenn kiser

Picture by kenn kiser

And I hope that you do,too.

While I want you to vote for my candidate, I understand if you have to hold your nose to do so as well.

Most importantly, I want people to vote. Too many people have sacrificed their life, their health, their freedom so that anyone besides a white male could have the right to vote. But when we sit on the couch and ignore what is supposed to happen, we are spitting in the face of every soldier and activist who put their lives on the line so we could vote.

I have had it said to me that only those who actually fight in wars should be the one who vote because they did the hardest thing of all. I wonder if that same person would say that to the teacher, the public safety worker, the public health workers who all had some part of their family’s life. They fight other battles as do our clergy and social service workers.

Quite frankly, when you start saying some people have the right to vote more than others, you forget what the American dream is about. The American dream is about freedom, of knowing that you can speak your opinion – no matter how wrong – and you do not have to worry about being dragged from your home in the middle of the night. If you work hard, you can acheive the American dream of prosperity.

Voting-boothBut there is one thing you have to do. Get up off the couch, away from the boob tube, walk out of your house and head over to your polling place. Once it is your turn, you go into the booth and vote. People aren’t going to throw acid on you for doing so. In America, we do not have to face the possibility of suicide bombers preventing the process. Gunfire should not be an issue. We go in and vote.

So let’s do it. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Are you ready?

In Camp NaNoWriMo

Did I tell you I am taking a complete leap of faith?

This summer I jumped on the Camp NaNoWriMo band wagon. It is the write-a-novel-in-a-month online community that normally runs in November. For the months of April and July it runs in a ‘less’ structured format so that what people are working on include poetry, screenplays, dissertations, or anything they want at the word count best suits their project.

For the next 29 day, I am writing 1600 or more words a day in order to complete my second novel. While the first one is done and in need of some heavy duty editing, I really needed a break from it. It is time to put that work aside and get deep into a different story.

2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover 2

For now, I am living with Fiona who has issues. Like none of the rest of us do. But she has them and needs to work some things out. Every time I write another chapter, I find out a little bit more about this art professor/potter.

It also means I have a stack of art books to look through so I can understand her world just a little bit more. I am having fun with this and so far, I am keeping up. I hope by the end of the month I can say I have written a book and need to find a literary agent.

What leaps are you taking this summer?

 

 

Feeling the Losses

Be aware, I am about to be very self centered for this post.

This has been a sad week for me.

Our family lost two pets to a brutal and vicious attack by neighborhood dogs.

Our rabbit, Thumper.

Our rabbit, Thumper.

Our pet rabbits lived in a hutch in the back yard. They had a wonderful shady spot, were loved and adored. They had just mated only last week.

But all that changed when two dogs tipped over the hutch, ripped off the bottom screening, and killed our female. My husband heard the commotion and ran outside to run them off. Except the biggest one decided to try and let him know who was boss.

He managed to get pictures and we filed a police report. Dale turned the hutch so it could not be tipped again. We thought it might be OK for Busy but it wasn’t.

Two days later they came back for Busy. They crawled under, pulled off the screen, and killed the bunny. Left him for dead in the yard. When my husband came back from his walk with our dog, he saw a vulture in the yard. Coyotes would have taken him away to have a good meal.

As you might imagine, I have devastated kids. I feel bereft and I wonder if the police an really do anything beyond slap the owners on the wrist.

If I were a shooting woman, I would sit in my yard with a shot gun and wait for those beasts to show up again. However, I need a FOID card and even then I am not safe from the long arm of the law.

That was loss #1. Loss #2 came when I looked at my writing group’s yahoo board. It was decided to shut down. We are kaput. No discussion, no nothing. It’s over.

Image by Patuska

Image by Patuska

This is the only place I have that I can talk about how characters are developing, how they are changing and growing without people looking at me like I am crazy. I see those pitying looks when people don’t realize how characters become real to you. But when you have guided and directed, sometimes they let you know when the wrong road is heading up.

It is the only place where I can be a grammar or spelling wonk and not be out of place. It is the only place I can be my nerdy self.

I am really going to miss it. Worse yet, I need to find another writer’s group.

Maybe that will take some of the pain away.

I hope.

 

 

 

 

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

 

I saw this meme on Facebook this morning. So nice, so nostalgic.

But I am trying to figure out which America this person is missing because there are parts of America that I never want to see again.

Which ones you ask?

Well, there is that part that thought it was OK for women to not be educated, to only run a house, raise kids, and take care of the husband. Women were not expected to have money, jobs, credit ratings, mortgages, or enough education to have a job/career to pay for all of the above in case the husband died or ran off.

Which leads to my other favorite part of America. The one that said it was OK to beat the crap out of your wife and/or children. Police, neighbors, friends, and family would look the other way if they knew that a woman was getting beat up on a regular basis. After all, she just fell down the stairs or ran into a door or something like that.

Now that makes me thing about the shame of sexual abuse. If a family member or friend or priest was abusing your kids, it was a shameful secret for the victim. It would take years of education for our society to realize that rape – no matter what – is wrong. Even so, we still like to think it is the victim’s fault.

Another old part of America I do not miss? Racism that lead to lynching and beat downs of black men who did something wrong such as look at a white woman, speak out against racism, become a little bit more than what was expected. Combine that with the mean and hateful behavior of separate schools, water fountains, and inability to sit at a luncheon counter. This was a happy place to live?

Am I saying our country is perfect now?

No way because we have some serious problems. There are shootings all over the place that are killing innocent kids. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you because it is not happening in your neighborhood or city but it is happening. Who needs car bombing in the market square when there are shootings every week?

We have veterans not getting the medical care or assistance from various programs by the government for no other reason than our politicians voted against them in Washington. Must be nice to be able to say ‘thank you for your service’ right before denying the VA more money to give healthcare to those vets. Could that be the reason why there are waiting lists at VA hospitals across the country?

We need some public works programs to get people back to work. Bridges and roads and public buildings need repair. Find that money to do  rebuilding because these projects will help the country more than anything else. Guys working on a new bridge bring that money home to their families which then get spent at stores and gas stations and on mortgages.

So now, look at that picture once again. Write in the comment section what parts of America do you miss and what you would change about now because we have a lot of fixing to do, some of it is left over baggage. I wonder if each of us picked a project to get a group of friends to work on, what would get accomplished?

Image from Facebook

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