Love Those Soft Summer Nights

copyright 2013 Elizabeth Maginnis

My husband reminded me the other day of our two-night honeymoon at a local hotel. We were kids (college students) and basically broke, so the Marriott it was. Being the middle of August, we were able to sit outside on the patio after dark, listening to the hush of the cars on the thruway as we enjoyed a warm summer evening.

That is what I love the most about summer. Although I eagerly dive into our pool each spring for several months of swimming bliss, it’s the nights when the wind hisses through the leaves after dark that I remember most fondly.

So far, this summer has brought hot days and warm nights that necessitate another kind of hiss: that of the air conditioner. Maybe when the season winds down we’ll be able to welcome refreshing breezes as we fall asleep beneath an open window.

For now, I’ll remember our first nights as husband and wife, sitting together on a hotel room patio, in our own world, feeling the warm breeze on our faces while the cars hurtled past on the nearby thruway.

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Missing Maisie

Pet guardians know that there’s that one special animal who tugs at your heart. The one they miss the most after she’s gone. Maisie is that one for my husband and me.

Maisie’s kidney disease finally won. She passed peacefully in my husband’s arms in our vet’s office three weeks ago tomorrow. Quality of life was gone. We knew she was suffering. Yet our lives are sadder and emptier with her gone, even with all the medications and fluid treatments we administered toward the end. My husband commented recently on how lonely the house feels without her.

Maisie fought her disease hard. For two years you wouldn’t have known that that cat had a terminal illness. She was a tough little lady. Two months ago, though, the disease took over as it inevitably does, and we knew we would soon have to say goodbye.

Knowing and expecting the outcome of a terminal illness doesn’t make the end any easier. I cried yesterday after picking her ashes up from the vet. There are days when the sadness appears out of nowhere, but I can feel the happier memories begin to surface. It’ll get better.

We plan to adopt another cat to honor her memory, sometime soon but not yet. I think Maisie will have a “paw” in that, as she did in so many other aspects of our lives. Ever the nosy little Miss Bossy Boots, she never allowed any household goings-on to miss her careful scrutiny. She’ll let us know when the right candidate comes along.

We haven’t lost her. She’s just taken on a different form.

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What Will It Take to Stop the Gun Madness?

Image result for peace symbol images


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


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 –

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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