Saturday, July 15, 2017

In Happier News.....

While thunder rumbles outside my window right now, here's a shot taken last week: the Old Gal was surrounded by a rainbow, with the sun shining in as if she was covered in a dome of protection.  A few minutes later, it became a double rainbow.

So before this storm hits, let me finish being "Southern"....yep, I was born and raised here.  Hubby just did boiled peanuts like my Grandma use to do and I have a fresh peach cobbler in the oven using my Memaw's recipe.  There's pork chops and fresh butter beans for dinner.

Have a good weekend y'all!

 

Monday, July 10, 2017

We...the Endangered Species



       I couldn’t sleep last night.  Something I witnessed on television, live and uncensored, made me horrified, concerned and angry.  But mostly it just made me sad.
         Let’s say you’re at home when suddenly there are lights, sirens and the sound of a vehicle colliding with an immovable object outside.  You open the door to find a van upside down against a pole and a barefoot black man using a child as a shield between himself and a white police officer as he tries to flee.  The officer orders the man to stop, but the subject continues to fling the toddler around, like a weapon.  The officer is yelling, “That’s your baby!  Put the baby down!”   His hand is not on his weapon, but reaching to grab the man before the toddler goes airborne and gets injured.  Finally freeing the child, the officer takes the subject to the ground.  The man thrashes around yelling, “Help me!” repeatedly.  As the struggle continues, a pair of legs comes into view.  The officer, all alone, calls out, “I need some help!”   Would you:

         (a) Help the officer because it’s too much for one man to handle.
         (b) Ignore him because it’s the officer’s job and not your problem.
         (c) Wonder how the van flipped, as the engine continues running.
         (d) Whip out your cell phone to record the incident.
        
         The camera panned out to catch the moment that pair of legs came to the rescue.  Instead we see a guy filming with his cell phone.  And laughing.
         Whatever happened to Good Samaritans?  Remember them?  They do the right thing instead of the easy thing.  Have Good Samaritan instincts become extinct in today’s society?
         For what seemed like an eternity, the pair struggled on the ground, the man screeching for help, the officer yelling at him to stop resisting.  The officer never reached for his weapon while wrestling the man into a position to put him in handcuffs.  In the background, you can hear a crowd urging the subject to keep fighting.  The cameraman continued filming, mere feet away, as the man began reaching into his back pocket.  In the cacophony of sound and struggle, the officer couldn’t see that. 
         Back up arrives.  The man is subdued without gun play yet he continues to scream for help.  With the man secured, the officer jumps up, asking in a frantic tone, “Where’s the baby?  Where’s the baby?”  He shrugs off questions about his own condition in his quest to find that child.  The cameraman pans over to the crowd who’ve been egging on the fight: half of them are standing there, filming with cell phones.  While they are of the same race as the subject, none of them heeded his calls for help.  They just filmed.  A black officer approaches the crowd, which begins to surge forward to get a better camera angle as the man is placed in a police car, kicking and screaming the whole way.  Arms outstretched, the officer firmly commands them to back up.  Instead they taunt him, cursing and calling him names.  One even has the audacity to demand his badge number.  To the officer’s credit, he calmly tells them that as soon as the situation is under control, he will come back and answer all their questions.  None of the “concerned citizens”, or the father, ask about the toddler.
         The camera rotates toward the original officer, holding the little girl in his arms, talking to her in a soft, soothing tone.  Her arms are placed firmly around his neck and her head is on his shoulder.  It’s then I realize I’ve been holding my breath.
         I watched this story unfold Saturday night on an unscripted t.v. show called Live PD.  It follows officers in several states in real time, offering the public a front row seat to see what officers see every day.  Some days are good.  Some are bad.  Whatever decision an officer makes, it’s viewed in real time.  Live PD follows two different departments in my state.  The above incident took place a little over an hour from where I live.  We’ve watched long enough to know the officers by name.  And reputation.  The responding officer, Chris Mastrianni, is cool and level headed.  He’s usually joined by Kevin Lawrence, who’s known for calmly talking people back off an emotional ledge before they jump into something they’ll regret. 
         The phrase, “Judge not” echoed in my head when the incident was over. There’s a problem with pulling out a cell phone to video without knowing the whole story.  Yes, our perception is colored by our experiences.  Perhaps that crowd simply saw a white cop struggling with a black suspect and they were waiting for shots to be fired.  What they didn’t know, but viewers did, was that Mastrianni was enroute to a “shots fired” call at a family gathering of over 200, which had turned into a fight.    As Mastrianni approached the scene, this van came flying out.  He hit the blue lights.  The van sped up.  Cops have to rely on experience and instinct: a vehicle leaving the scene at a high rate of speed where shots were reportedly just fired is not on a leisurely evening drive.  Speeds reached 90 mph.  No one had any idea a child was in the vehicle.   I was once a Dispatcher for the SC Highway Patrol; the risk of pursuit to stop someone is weighed against the possibility of innocent bystanders getting hurt.  I didn’t get the words, “He’s going to wreck!” out of my mouth before the van flipped.
         I get queasy recalling that man crawl out of the van and position his child between him and the officer. They’d just been in a wreck and Mastrianni’s fear for that child’s safety was greater than her own father’s.  As the duo wrestled on the ground, I’d later learn about 95% of viewers were also yelling with me at the t.v., ”Mastrianni, he’s reaching for his pocket!”  Many viewers were angry the cameraman didn’t intervene because he saw it too.  Well, technically his job is to document, not get involved. But one of his co-workers did.  During the mayhem, the female producer could be seen in the distance, cradling the toddler as the struggle ensued.  Sometimes, you have to forget potential legal repercussions and just do the right thing.  Thank you, Producer Lady, for doing just that.  Okay, I admit it.  I did think the cameraman could’ve at least given Mastrianni a verbal warning.  If things had gone horribly wrong, would the cameraman regret his decision to just film?
         Life is all about choices.  Simply standing by, egging on a fight and filming was a choice based on preconceived notions and a lack of facts.  Ironically that’s often the very same argument angrily used when discussing injustice.  Unless one of the crowd had been watching Live PD, they didn’t know about the family fight, shots fired or the pre-wreck chase.  Did that crowd hang around long enough to discover the subject’s screaming wasn’t fear for his life, but to create chaos as he took a bag of weed out of his back pocket and shoved it into his mouth? As the crowd dispersed, no one probably saw the female deputy calmly ask where the weed was as he forlornly spit it into her gloved hand.  That means they missed Lawrence, the officer taunted for doing his job, talking to the man calmly while counseling that his behavior was making things worse.  In fact, at the man’s request, Lawrence insured another officer went down the block to get the child’s grandmother, rather than let Social Services step in.  The officer made two trips until he found Grandma home.  As they waited for an ambulance to come check out father and child for any potential injuries, Mastrianni was seen handing the toddler a stuffed bear.  Officers carry stuff like that in their cars to give children who are scared because the adults in their life made a bad decision.  Sadly while these “concerned citizens” were documenting the chaos for whatever reason, did even one of them focus on the child who endured a high speed chase, a wreck and being tossed around like a rag doll by an adult intent on saving himself?.  And as these worthless videos were being downloaded to impress their friends, I’m guessing none of them witnessed the wrecker flip the van upright.  No “documenters” were available to see the expression on Mastrianni’s face as he searched for a child safety seat…and there was not one to be found.  But he did find something.
         On the pavement, where the driver’s side door had rested, was a spent bullet casing.
         When tough choices had to be made, Mastrianni’s focus was on an innocent child.  Those whose focus was on a cellphone screen chose to turn a blind eye to someone in need of help.  No matter what their perception of who needed the help, (father, child or cop) their choice was clear.  They chose to do nothing.
         We need to stop pre-judging each other.  Hands need to be extended in a display of mutual assistance, not merely holding a cell phone in video mode. Choices have consequences.  It’s about time we start coming up with better consequences.  Ones that benefit ALL of society.



This is a screen capture of Mastrianni and the girl.   
In the background, a “concerned citizen” films the child’s father being placed in a car.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Savannah! I need....

...a break from man babies and cry babies and things that go, "You're wrong!  Very, very wrong!".

I respectfully request some photos of grandbabies.  Okay, so they're not "babies" anymore but they're cute and sweet and cuddly...well, my eyes view them as cuddly.   And they make me smile.

I could use a smile.  Do you have a cup of smiles I could borrow, sister?   

Thanking you in advance.  

P.S. Here's a giggle for you.  My mother-in-law just called.  She said her sister, who lives in Wisconsin was worried....because her husband is cold and walking around in a sweater because it's windy and 75 DEGREES!

Sigh.

Grandbabies.  Yep.  I need a dose of grandbabies.

Monday, July 3, 2017

America IS Great....but our "Leadership" could learn a lot from the Founding Fathers

I had a whole post on what we don't know about American Independence, but alas, I deleted the wrong file.  In a nutshell it was a "Did You Know" piece...

1.  The Boston Tea Party was so popular, Maryland, South Carolina and New York repeated the event.

2.  Paul Revere did not ride alone yelling, "The British Are Coming!  The British are Coming!"  Revere rode with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, who were eventually joined by 40 other patriots.  The whole thing was kept quiet as Revere was warned to be careful who he spoke to about his plan. 

3.  American Patriots were more than white guys in powdered wigs.  Native Americans in New England fought alongside the Colonists, while African-Americans fought side by side with white soldiers and earned the same pay.  Women were cooks, laundresses, nurses, spies and couriers.  When Margaret Corbin's husband was shot dead, she stepped in to man his cannon.  She was the first woman to receive full military honors and was buried at West Point. 

There was more but that's all my hot, tired brain can remember. 

Americans come from hardy stock who have tried, and sometimes failed, to make our country a better place.  The key is we never give up trying to do better...no matter what the obstacles.  We're still trying. So on the 4th of July I will salute those who have worked so hard to make the world a better place...and ignore those who can't see past inflated ego.

 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Okay, this photo is not Kim Ayres quality but it was (a) taken with a cell phone, (b) after I got caught in a downpour, and was (c) soaking wet and a little cold.

But this was too cool not to share.

Prior to the storm's arrival, I had to go to the Post Office.  It was my third trip this week and they've been teasing me about spending my vacation with them. My transaction was quick but our local Clerk challenged my head shake to the question,"Do you need any stamps, mailing labels or insurance forms?"  For the record he's usually at the front desk when I bring in packages to mail for our charity.  I've taken the time to fill out the survey on the receipt a couple of times and always praise him, by name.  I've noticed lately that if a different clerk sees me coming in with one of those charity mailings, they've gotten increasingly nice.  :)

"You don't want to miss this," he insisted, reaching into the drawer for a sheet of stamps.  "We won't have them long."

Why would I, the non-stamp collector, be interested when I didn't need stamps?  Well, it's not often that simple postage stamps turn into...mood rings.

Made to commemorate the upcoming Total Eclipse Aug. 21st, these stamps are jet black...until you touch them and they get warm.  You can see by the (crappy) photo that I've touched the one in the bottom left hand corner.

For once, going to the Post Office was a cool experience.  If only I'd gotten back to the car before the sun disappeared and the bottom dropped out.

 
 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Vacation...away from my desk


Well, the first week of "Staycation" it's rained the whole time, 
so all my "outdoor" plans have gone away.  
However, I do have a second week.  
In the meantime, 
I'm trying to not overdo on news/politics/opinionated people.  :) 

Have a good week y'all!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Still growing

Today he's 10 months old and 80 pounds.  
Still enthusiastic.  
Still stubborn.
And he still climbs on the couch 
to sit in my lap and lean against me.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Time to Remember




 My soldier friends have spent the week leading up to Memorial Day reminding folks this is NOT the time to thank them for their service but to remember those who have sacrificed.  Seeing this photo brought some memories rushing back...that of 12 year old me watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, seeing row upon row of graves at Arlington National Cemetery and being overwhelmed by it all.  I've shared this before, and I'm no poet, but the original challenge was to share an emotional experience in as few words as possible.  The number of words isn't important...the men and women who've served are. 

LESSONS LEARNED: Part 1

Five little girls.

Black and white.

Traveled in a van

With the undertaker’s wife.

Destination: Washington, DC.



Twelve years old.

Won a trip for helping folks.

Winning in the '70s…not a well known concept.

Especially at the end

Of the Vietnam War.



Arrived in the nation’s capital giggling.

Their accommodations:

A convent of nuns.

Quiet an experience

For 4 Baptists and a Latter Day Saint.



Their prize was a tour.

Their job to write it up.

Report back to the Principal

For a missed day of school.

The prize wasn’t what they expected.



Journeyed for fun.

Learned awkward lessons

Courtesy of Arlington Cemetery,

The Unknown Soldier and

the work of Lee Harvey Oswald.



Arlington Cemetery.

Eerily quiet.  Creepily Correct.

A mathematician’s symmetrical dream.

Precise angles wherever you looked.

Death done to perfection.



The Unknown Soldier.

Guarded by military precision.

Stony faces mirrored in a marble block.

How many guards pretended

To watch over a fallen buddy?



Four giggling girls

Raced for the van.

One stood with a lump in her throat

That felt as eternal

As the flame at her feet.



Quietly a soldier approached.

Silently laid a hand on the little girl’s shoulder

And stood reverently with her for one brief moment.

Funny…his touch

Reached all the way to my heart.