Archive for the ‘life’ Category

I grew up with one of my older brothers, Richard, being really into dinosaurs. When we were little, he used to collect those little plastic dinosaurs, the ones that were about three to five inches. He taught us the names of each one and some basic facts like whether they were carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores. He used to set them all up and make them fight each other!

Decades later, when I became a mom and my son was around seven, he really got into dinosaurs. I already knew some of the facts about them and I am one of those moms that tries to facilitate when her little ones are interested in so I got him the plastic dinosaurs like my brother had so long before, except that my brother’s were bright primary colors and my sons were neutral colors and supposed to be more real! As he got into dinosaurs, we got books and videos and, because we lived in southern California, we were less than a half hour from the La Brea Tar Pits where we could go and learn about dinosaurs. If you don’t know about the La Brea Tar Pits, it’s in the middle of busy Los Angeles, right on Wilshire Boulevard in the part that was called the Miracle Mile, with businesses and shopping all around them. The tar pits were neat because you could walk up and watch the tar bubbling up and look at the replica woolly mammoths that were stuck in the tar. It was really called the Page Museum of Natural History, but I think it may have changed names. They had a lot more than dinosaurs in there. My kids used to love to go see the woolly mammoth. They had a skeleton of a woolly mammoth that was really breath taking. At that time, admission was free. I just checked and kid admission is seventeen dollars! Wow. I would have gone broke if I had to pay seventeen dollars for each of my kids each time we went to see the tar pits!

A few weeks ago, while discussing what he wanted to study next, Anderson said he wanted to learn about fossils and dinosaurs. He’s that age. He just turned eight and is in second grade so the timing is just right. I decided to plan a unit on dinosaurs that we could do during the summer. However, I did go online to see if we could go see some fossils somewhere near. Well, the University of Oregon has an excellent exhibit but they are in Eugene which is about ninety minutes from here so it’s not as easily doable as I would like. There is also a small exhibit at Portland State but I read that it is really just a display in the hallway of the offices at the college and not meant for the public to go see, especially not kids. Then I saw that the local library had a presentation scheduled for March where an archaeologist from U of O would come with fossils and bones and skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct mammals. Yes!

Well, the presentation was on Tuesday and I actually remembered. He hadn’t been feeling well but he wanted to go so we went and it was great! It was very low key and not well attended but that made it nicer for the ones that did attend because there was more hands on time and they could ask all the questions they wanted. I was actually impressed with Anderson. I often wonder about the homeschooling and how it will effect him with interacting with others who go to regular school. He did great. He raised his hands to answer questions and ask them and he was right on target with the comments and questions. Yay!

We learned about the dire wolf and the saber tooth cat and the sloth. The lady brought a box of fossils with her that the kids got to hold and manipulate. Apparently, they were found at Fossil Lake quite some time ago but the person that collected them took them home and put them in his yard then year later, he brought them to the university and turned them in for their use. Because they had been removed from the area so long ago and there was no documentation, the university could not put them on display so they use them for education purposes and the go out to schools and libraries so that kids can see them and touch them and hold them. Neat!

Anderson’s interest in fossils and dinosaurs made me smile and think of the other little boys in my life that have had the interest and the ones that will have it soon. I figure Spencer will get there in another couple of years then Mati a couple of years after that. I have lots of time to get my dinosaur and fossil files together!


Read Full Post »

Silent Sunday


Read Full Post »

Whine, Wine And –#Enough

“Be a nuisance where it counts, but don’t be a bore at any time… Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action….Be depressed, discouraged and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics — but never give up.” –Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The whining. Well, I am not sure I feel it is whining but you be the judge.

Wednesday was the #NationalSchoolWalkout here in the United States. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it is/was a student organized movement in response to the February 14th shooting and murder of seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I say it was a response to the movement because students had different reasons for participating. Some participated to honor the dead students; some did so to protest the lack of gun laws here in the U.S.; some did so to show that #enough is enough and call for a change in current laws which protect the rights of those with the guns and not the ones of their potential victims. The walkout (from school) took place at 10 in the morning, which was the time the shooting began on February 14, and it lasted for seventeen minutes which is the number of students who lost their young lives on that day.  Why is this a whine? I, for one of a great many, supported the walkout and understood the importance of it (for the reasons above as well as because it allowed the students to participate in their own futures) so I didn’t whine. However, a great many additional people were upset about the walkout because they felt the schools were indoctrinating students (they weren’t as it was student organized and teachers here in the U.S. can’t legally take a stand any kind of political or religious stand in the classroom); some thought the students were missing important instruction during the time of the walkout (not in seventeen minutes I don’t think); and still others feel that there is already too great a focus against guns and that guns are not a problem. That was the whining and people were angry. People were mean and ugly to each other, in general and all over social media. There was so much whining! I won’t focus too much on the issue but it will take me to the wine portion.

Wine. Over a large glass of wine I gave great thought to the issue. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought but this week even more so. I don’t think that the #NationalSchoolWalkout will bring about a lot of change. It’s not the one answer. As I have stated previously, there is no one answer. It will take a lot of answers, each tackling a different part of the problem, before there is substantial change. But this is a start. It is also one way in which today’s youth (many of whom will be voters in the next presidential election) can make their voices heard and feel that it is important and productive for them to participate in the process. It’s a sign that they are accepting the torch that must be carried on if this country is going to change in a positive direction before it is completely destroyed.

And the more part. I am having a difficult time focusing on things and mostly on writing and expressing myself. Even speaking is more difficult these days. My mind is foggy and I have difficulty finding the words I want to use. I am pretty sure it is a direct result of my diabetes. (I hate to call it “my” diabetes because I really don’t want any part of it but I guess that’s the right way to refer to it.) I’m thinking about a lot of things. One of those things is really a not a thing but a couple of friends. One friend, close to my age, lost her son two days before Christmas. It has been a horrible three months for her, as we can all imagine. Her son died of a heroin overdose. He had been clean and sober for several years and was fighting his demons every single day. Then one day he didn’t call home, as was his custom to check in with his mom daily. His mom couldn’t reach him. Then the call came. He had lost his fight against that horrible addiction. I don’t know this woman in real life. I have, however, known her for over ten years. She was one of the friends I made on that website I mentioned previously, Gather. As a mom, I can only imagine how heartbreaking and totally horrible this would be. It came out of left field, both the addiction and the overdose. It’s a typical American family. Well educated parents who gave their sons what they could, including college educations. A loving, close knit family; a supportive family. And it got them, that addiction, that opioid.

And there’s another friend I am thinking of. I’ve known her for fifty-one years. She was one of the first people I met when my family moved and we had to change schools in the middle of the school year in 1967. She hasn’t told very many people yet but she was just diagnosed with breast cancers. She will see the surgeon and oncologist in the coming week. She lives about a fifteen hour drive from me and I wish I could be there for her. I’m going to try to work it out if at all possible so I can go see her. Maybe I’ll be able to help her after her surgery or just be there for her. Maybe. Crossing my fingers.

That’s what is on my mind these days. I’m kind of all over the place so bear with me in the coming days and weeks.

And please, keep a positive thought for both of my friends.


Read Full Post »

I’m not the confrontational type. I’m not the loud type. I’m not the “in your face” type.

But there are changes going on inside of me; inside of my mind. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I know time is short. Maybe it’s because I am just fed up with things. Maybe it’s because old feelings and memories that I have suppressed for decades have come tumbling back into my mind. I’m seeing things that I saw before but didn’t face and I’m facing them, at least inside of me. I’m angry at the way things are. The next step? I think I have to start speaking out; start acting. I have to try to help bring about some changes.

What kind of things? Well, I keep seeing, day after day after day, instances where women get blamed for men’s actions and poor decisions. Yesterday, I read about a court case where a Yale student was exonerated of rape charges even after the jury was shown video tape footage of a very drunk girl being dragged to her room, barely conscious. The young woman was asked, in court, by the judge, why she had chosen to wear a close fitting cat costume to the Halloween party where she encountered her assailant. The judge asked her why she hadn’t worn a Cinderella costume or something  “like that.” So the male walks free and the female is left not only with the trauma of waking up after passing out only to find that her clothes are off and the guy is on top of her, but she is also left with the humiliation of having to testify in open court and then called a liar. The jury’s verdict called her a liar. The judge’s questions called her a liar. Yale called her a liar. They failed to stand by a female student in favor of a male student.

Why is it that when a girl gets pregnant she is blamed for it; often she is said to have seduced the guy. Why is it that no one blames the guy? It’s pretty difficult for a girl to force a guy to get her pregnant. Possible but difficult, yet it’s the girl’s fault.

Why is it that when a woman is sexually assaulted, she’s to blame because she wore provocative clothing or smiled at a stranger?

And this one, while unrelated, still gets at the point that women are always blamed. Why is it that when a man cheats on his wife or partner, it’s the woman’s fault? She didn’t pay attention to him. She didn’t dress nice for him. She didn’t wear makeup for him. She didn’t hold his interest. It’s her fault he couldn’t keep his zipper up in the presence of other women.

Yup, time after time, it’s the woman who gets blamed. It’s always our fault.

And this all keeps women down. It keeps us from speaking up and reporting attacks. It keeps us oppressed. In our place.

It won’t end or change significantly in my lifetime but I have daughters and a granddaughter and I pray that they will see this change in their life times. For now, all I can do is express my anger over the way things are and I can support women who have been victimized by the system. I can tell my stories of my experiences; there are more than one. I was blamed. Then I got smart and stopped reporting them because no one would believe me anyway. It’s time to speak up in the hopes that others will benefit.

Changes. Lots of them. The time has come.


Read Full Post »

Politicians usually want the easy way out. That means not really fixing things, just doing enough to make it look like they did something. That way, when they are called on it, they can say they already tried to address the problem.

School shootings are a huge problem in the United States. They are happening with increasing frequency. Our youths are getting killed, injured and psychologically traumatized. What are we doing about it? I think most people agree that it’s a problem but not everyone agrees on how to fix it. And in reality, there is no way to fix it completely but the problem can be tackled from a number of different directions.  In other words. it will take layers of “solutions” to be effective. Banning the sale of assault weapons is one factor that can help. Banning bump stocks that make semi-automatic weapons behave like automatic weapons allowing the firing of hundreds of rounds per minute would be another step in the right direction. Requiring more stringent background checks on all weapons sales, banning the sale of weapons to people with certain mental illness, and raising the minimum age for gun purchases, are other steps. These all work together. Not one will stop the senseless killings but each step will save lives.

I will tell you one step that most likely will not work and, in fact, will most likely cause further loss of lives. Guns in schools. Nope! As a former school teacher I know that I would have put my body between any of my students and a bullet. I also know that most teachers would do the same today. That’s who we are. Teachers care deeply about their students and accept responsibility for keeping them safe while in their care. That includes when under gun fire.

However, that does not include accepting a firearm and being expected to shoot a perceived attacker. Most civilians are not trained to handle weapons and training them would take time and money and many teachers, in fact most teachers would be my guess, would not want to take a gun even if they were sufficiently trained. Those who are currently trained would also need to be trained to fire when under attack as most people that are trained in handling weapons are trained to hit an unsuspecting target, as in hunting, not how to hit a moving target that is shooting at them.

My guess is that the majority of teachers would not want to stay in the teaching field if they were required to take a weapon, be trained on it, then be expected to actually shoot at a human…shoot with the intent to stop them, which in the case of a school shooter would probably mean shoot to kill. That means we would lose our teachers. We would be left with a lot that might just be playing out a “Rambo” role. Which brings about the need to have regular mental exams of the teachers who were armed, if we did that.

Here’s what I know. I would give my life for any of my students. But I would not ever shoot a gun at anyone. I just could not do it. That’s the reason I never got a gun for protection. I knew that even if I took target practice and became proficient, I would not be able to shoot another person. I would freeze if I had to shoot someone.

Another scenario. Say there is a shooting at a school. Teachers have been armed and trained. Mr. Sanchez pulls out his gun and prepares to shoot the active shooter if he/she approaches his classroom. However, police have been called and they enter the school. They see an armed person in front of a classroom. His skin is dark. His hair is dark. They might even be able to hear his instructions to others and discern a foreign accent. They shoot at him. They shoot to kill. This is America. They assume that a person of color armed with a gun in a school room where there are reports of an active shooter is indeed the shooter. How in the hell are police officers supposed to know who the active shooter is when there might be twenty or thirty teachers armed at that a school? And some of these teachers aren’t in their classroom. They are out in the hall actively looking for the shooter to stop him/her. How will the police know who to shoot? How will they know if someone says they’re a teacher and they let them go only to find out that it was the shooter they let go and that shooter has left twenty or thirty victims in their path?

These are not even all of the scenarios. It’s just a sample that gives an idea of some of the problems with arming teachers. And guns in schools as a solution does not address the shootings in churches or shopping malls, or theaters, or anywhere else.

Guns in schools. This is NOT the solution or even any solution that should be visited. This is not the right band-aid to put on the problem. This is not the right way for any politician to cover their ass in regard to the problem.

No guns in schools.

Read Full Post »

Remembering A Photo

Recently, I’ve lost a hard drive full of photos and writing. Lots of photos. Probably dating back to the first digital camera I had in the late 90’s. They were not backed up. The other night, I found a thumb drive and stuck it in the laptop to see what was on it. I found pictures! Not all the ones I lost but I was still happy to find them.

One of the pictures that I thought was lost to me was one my daughter took of me in March of 2005 on a trip to New York City. My son and one of my daughters were on the trip with me and I convinced them that we should go to Liberty Island and to Ellis Island. I had been been to Liberty Island on a previous trip but it was during the restoration of Ellis Island so it was closed to the public so I had missed it. We took the ferry and it was freezing cold and crowded. There was no place to sit, especially for three people. So we split up and I stood and looked out. That evening, back at the hotel, we all exchanged memory cards and loaded all of the photos to our laptops. The thought was that we would be backing them up three fold. I looked through some of their photos because they sometimes were goofy together. Tony is my oldest and is eight years older than Susie but they get along really well, playing off of each other’s goofiness and feeding into it. One of the photos I found was surprising. Susie had taken a picture of me as I looked out from the ferry. It was special because she had taken my picture but also because the photo is evocative of a lot of emotions even to the ordinary viewer, or at least I think it is.

I thought that photo was lost but it was on that thumb drive so now I am sharing it with you and hopefully, should it become lost again, I can find it here.

Read Full Post »

Years ago, in what seems like previous lifte time, I was a member of one of the first social media attempts, Gather. It was promoted to me as a place where writers could post their work and get feedback and develop collegial relationships. I was really into developing my writing so I joined. I enjoyed it but there were so many people there for many reasons other than for writing. There were photographers sharing their work; foodies sharing their insights; technical types imparting their knowledge; and so many people just there for the points and money. Yes, it was a site where members could earn points for the content they posted and the comments and views their content garnered. Points could be turned in for cash (via PayPal) or gift cards. So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of junk there, too. I did develop some wonderful relationships which are still some of my closest friends although I have never met most of them. And I am happy to say that a few are still my most loyal blog readers. At one time, there was a group of us that met through Gather that all started or revived blogs. Most are no longer blogging but we are still in touch via Facebook.

Facebook brings me to another point about Gather, which is actually what inspired this post. Recently, one member has started a Facebook group devoted to finding old Gather members so everyone can get in touch with old friends. It’s a great idea for a lot of the old Gather members. The site, you see, disintegrated rather suddenly. The whole thing was sold to a Japanese company that promised they would maintain the site and develop it further. They didn’t. And then there was a lot of fighting and “ganging up” on some members and then it was suddenly shut down with no notice. I stopped “gathering” quite awhile before that happened. Someone emailed me and said it might happen so I went in and cashed in all of my points and never looked back. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to think that the content would remain online so I didn’t back up any of my stuff. I lost a lot of my writing and a lot of pictures that I no longer have anywhere. I still have my friends. There was a group of maybe fifty or so of my closest “gatherites” (Spell Check is going crazy on this post) that remained in touch. One member, Lydia, who some of you might remember died a couple of years ago, bought membership on another site where she started a group for us to keep in touch and post our stuff or just “talk to each other.” I no longer remember the name of that site or if it is even around anymore. And if it is still around, without Lydia, I’m sure our slot was not paid for so isn’t there anymore. More of my stuff lost! I don’t care so much about that as much as I care about losing the conversations and the memories we shared, especially with the members that have passes as there have been five or six that I can recall that have passed.

In any case, I know I’m rambling, Gather brought back a lot of memories for a lot of us, not all of them are good memories. A lot of the Gather members no longer want to have anything to do with any of it so it has been interesting to see the efforts of this guy (his name is Thomas) as he attempts to revive the old relationships. I’ve been sort of helping as a Moderator for the group. Mostly, Thomas wants me to help him navigate through some of the stuff he didn’t expect to encounter, such as people who are adamantly against him renewing anything related to Gather. A lot of the problems have revolved around privacy issues that he didn’t anticipate or understand so I’m sort of there to tell him when I think he might encounter some resistance. He kind of runs things by me. I don’t mind doing it. I am sort of in a middle point. I don’t necessarily want to get in touch with any of the members that I’m not now in touch with but I have enjoyed one member in particular who has posted a few of his new writings. I used to really enjoy his stuff so I am glad that I’m reading his work again. And if anyone has saved some of my stuff, it would be good to have that. Yes, we are finding that some people printed out a lot of the stuff and have reams upon reams of Gather content saved.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about today. I’m thinking about a lot of things actually. I’ve sort of been quiet here but that’s because of my glasses. I still don’t have the new ones. They came in but when I went to pick them up they had not made them right so they had to go back so another two weeks of being semi blind is keeping me from a lot of reading and writing, especially online where I have the back lighting to contend with.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to post again later today or tomorrow. And I will be coming around to read blogs, too. I’ve caught up a tiny bit but but there’s still so many I need to read.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »