What Will It Take to Stop the Gun Madness?

Image result for peace symbol images

Courtesy shutterstock.com.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today …

The first verse of Marvin Gaye’s memorable song “What’s Going On” (© 1971) applies to the proliferation of cop on black man shootings across our country these past few years. It applies to the epidemic of shootings in general.

TIME OUT! We as a society need to toss our guns aside and take a deep breath and a few steps back. What the hell is going on that we are so quick to shoot out, not talk out, our differences? While not Chicago, my hometown is rife with shootings just about every night. Recently a man shot from his car into another moving vehicle down a city street. For what? Apparently the threat to public safety is just another casualty in whatever turf war they were waging.

The hardening of our culture saddens and disgusts me. So many good intentioned people work every day to make a difference in the lives of kids at risk of falling prey to this lifestyle. Yet the killings continue.

I shouldn’t be discouraged, yet I am.

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Love our Public Market!

We finally got around to checking out our local public market last Saturday morning. Wow! Should have done it years ago. I’ve never seen such beautiful fruits and vegetables. I took my new Nikon D5300 along and shot some pics to get a feel for the thing and to attempt to capture the essence of the market experience. (Someday, when I figure out how to upload and add my photos to the blog, I’ll share them. For now, you get to look at a web shot of an adorable Scottish coo, one of my favorite animals.)

People everywhere at 7:30 on a Saturday morning! (Usually I’m just getting out of bed at that hour.) So many local farmers and artisans displaying their wares — such a good vibe all around. A couple of street musicians played us through the market entrance and prepared food areas. Who knew folks would line up for spicy hot breakfast sandwiches at that hour?

We indulged in cafe mochas prepared by a local coffee shop. The coffee may not have been Starbucks but it sure was good! Maybe the ambiance helped add flavor to my drink. People seated at schoolhouse style bench tables and chairs decorated with small potted plants. Hardwood floors. Plenty of outdoor seating. Loved it!

Summer here is so fleeting. People pour out of doors when the weather turns warm. The public market, with its inexpensive — and local — wares and opportunity for community building offers an ideal place to soak up the summer sun. I enjoyed chatting with some of the vendors.

We left with bags bulging with fresh berries, radishes, green beans, locally harvested honey and maple syrup and are already discussing what we’ll buy on our next visit. Both of us believe in supporting area growers and small business owners whenever we can. The public market is a great place to do both!

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#NoBillNoBreak #EndGunViolence

The sit-in. From C-Span.

Will all members of Congress willing to subordinate personal interest to the will of the people please stand up? No, wait. They’re sitting down. Sitting down in protest of the GOP majority’s refusal to allow a vote on proposed gun control measures.

Led by the courageous Representative John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, Democratic representatives and some of their Senate colleagues are occupying the floor of the House to force a showdown and take a stand against gun violence. My own representative joined the protest. Good for her!

Can anyone open the GOP’s eyes to the pervasiveness of senseless gun violence across this country and the urgent need to control illegal weapons sales? Even constitutional rights have boundaries when they conflict with the common good.

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Orlando Angels Triumph Over Hate

Courtesy NBC News, John Raoux/AP.

A strikingly beautiful image: angel wings worn by members of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater blocking Westboro Baptist Church protestors from disrupting the funeral of one of the Orlando massacre victims. In the words of Lin-Manual Miranda, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.” Westboro’s message of hate failed to hit its mark this time. #OrlandoUnited

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Donald Trump, Just Be Quiet

Image result for pride flag orlando

Courtesy flickr.com

Republican presidential candidate Trump, never one to pass up an opportunity to self-promote, made Orlando All About Him. (See? Look how smart I am! I knew Muslim immigrants were up to no good! Even if it’s simply by association with immigrant parents.)

Who cares about you, Donald? People died. Good people worth a lot more in heaven’s eyes than you’ll ever be in this lifetime. Your opinion doesn’t matter this time. Go comb your hair or kiss your image in the mirror.

Did he offer to help the Orlando LGBTQ community heal or do anything remotely positive to inspire a reeling nation? Way to do something for somebody else for a change.

For heaven’s sake, Trump, if you can’t do something nice then BE QUIET.

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About Maisie

We live with a spunky little orange and white tabby cat named Maisie. She appointed herself Queen of the House several years ago and hasn’t relinquished her crown yet. Her reign extends to our three young granddaughters, who gravitated to her as soon as they became aware of her existence.

Our vet diagnosed kidney disease a couple of years ago. Those of you familiar with cats know that kidney failure is the major cause of death among felines. We were devastated but determined to carry on with whatever therapy necessary to keep her comfortable — and with us — as long as possible.

Maisie defied expectations and rallied back to her former bossy boots self. Until about a month ago. Her kidneys are failing her, but she and we are fighting back. This means daily subcutaneous fluids, potassium supplementation, antacids, appetite stimulants. It sounds like a lot, but experts in chronic renal failure say that cats can and do put up with a lot.

We do this out of a deep love for Maisie but also with the understanding that her quality of life will have a lot to do with how long we continue her therapy. So far, she still enjoys spying on the neighbors from the dining room window seat and behaving like a naughty little girl in my office. She loves jumping where she shouldn’t.

This is a rough time for my husband and me. Knowing when to let go is never easy, and each time one of our dogs or cats reaches that point we are reminded of how fragile and short life can be.

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I Married a Forest Ranger

Well, he’s not really a forest ranger but would choose that path if he had it to do all over again. We just spent a lovely few days driving through Virginia and Maryland and incorporated a side trip through Shenandoah National Park on our way to visit family. It was well worth the price of admission.

Courtesy Sam – ThingLink.com.

I’d be a much calmer person if I spent my career surrounded by natural beauty. Trees instead of office buildings. Hiking trails in place of sidewalks and pavement. Black bears, deer, and birds instead of human co-workers. How privileged are the career stewards of our planet!

The dream, at least, will sustain me. My office life ended back in the Great Recession, but the stresses of city living (much as I love it) still get to me here in my upstairs bedroom-turned-office. We all need a happy place. Shenandoah is one of mine.

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Whither North Carolina?

Image result for us constitution imagesI sit here shaking my head over the “logic” behind North Carolina’s bathroom law, otherwise known as HB2. You know, the one that requires transgenders to use public bathrooms that correspond to their birth genders. Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t approve of local gay rights laws, calling them “local government overreach.” So, in his “wisdom” he decided that it was time to call out just which groups he feels deserve protection against discrimination in his state.

In Garrett Epps’ May 10, 2016 article in The Atlantic, “North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill Is a Constitutional Monstrosity”, Epps states (I believe correctly) that HB2′s true intention is to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It prevents localities from protecting any groups not specifically covered in HB2. LGBTs (and veterans!) are excluded from the list.

I am no scholar, but isn’t Gov. McCrory violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964? I invite you to read Epps’ article for a more thorough analysis of this awful law, currently the topic of dueling lawsuits brought by the North Carolina and U.S. governments against each other.

North Carolina is strikingly beautiful. I love its heavily wooded mountains. I’d love to visit Asheville one day. But McCrory deeply disappoints me. Unless he halts his crusade to turn North Carolina into a haven for bigotry, I will do my best to avoid anything to do with the state.

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The Primary System Confuses the Heck Out of Me. Does It Add an Unnecessary Layer to the Voting Process?

The deeper we get into this ridiculous election cycle, the more I learn about delegate apportionment. It makes no sense to me.

I thought my annoyance related to media reports that the vast majority of this cycle’s Democratic superdelegates pledged to Hillary Clinton, giving her an advantage right out of the gate. Then I learned that Bernie Sanders actually lost in the delegate count despite winning Wyoming. Really? Just how does that work? How is that fair?

Circumstances force me to admit that I agree with Donald Trump that a system that allows Colorado to circumvent the primary voting process entirely is inherently wrong. Instead of letting the voters decide, the Colorado GOP gave Cruz the win in order to deny Trump a win.

Why can’t our system reflect one person, one vote? The size of each state’s electoral college delegation is based on the total number of its representatives and senators. If the number of representatives is based on population anyway, doesn’t our current system add an extra, unnecessary layer to the whole process?

In my state, voters in my party of choice elect delegates that represent each of the candidates. I guess I don’t understand why we can’t just vote for the candidate? Whoever gets the most votes wins. Simple.

I may be missing an obvious point. Bottom line is, this election cycle has engaged me more than I’ve been in decades. And that’s a good thing.

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Bodhisattva. The Art of Compassion.

18 Arms Cundi Bodhisattva. From www.fodian.net.

The renowned Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield describes the Bodhisattva life as “a life dedicated to the benefit of all.” (Taken from The Wise Heart.)

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Spending your life helping others. Showing compassion. In a perfect world, it would be. But it’s not. And we’re not. Perfect, that is. We’re human, after all. To be selfish is easy. Putting others first is not.

I struggle daily with my desire to have everything my way. But you know what? Winning that argument is a hollow victory. I don’t feel any better than I did before. It’s when I put someone else’s interests before mine that I feel good about myself. Still … I can be stubborn.

That’s the human thing, isn’t it? That’s what we’re here to learn. That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. (Thank you, Mr. Spock.) Our time here isn’t supposed to be easy. Life is a challenge, a continuous stream of teachable moments designed to elevate our spiritual selves to a higher level. Compassion is its own reward if we stop putting our own self-interest first. That’s the challenge.

These are my beliefs, anyway. Everyone has their own. Or not. I choose to help spread good energy to offset all the negativity we find on the evening news. To make the world a better place. Otherwise, I might just crumple up and let sadness take over.

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