Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Scavenger Hunt of Sorts...

I abhor those who sexually prey on children and/or young women.  I was speaking with a friend who told me that her granddaughter, a shy and introverted 20 year old, had been thrilled to get a wait staff job at a local restaurant.  Her excitement was short lived when the owner began making inappropriate sexual advances.  Needless to say, the experience did nothing for her self-esteem, much less her small steps toward a more extroverted life.  She was forced to quit out of self-preservation.
 
My friend was infuriated that her granddaughter was subjected to this man’s unwanted sexual advances.  That’s when she plugged his name into the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Registry of Sex Offenders.  Sure enough, this nasty man’s name and photo magically appeared.
 
Although the names and locations of sexual predators are public record, I won’t put his name in this blog post.  I will say that the restaurant is in Concord, less than half a mile down the road from a grade school full of kids.  I will not be giving my business to this predator.  I suggest that before you frequent your favorite Concord eatery (there are several located within walking distance to a grade school), you might want to find out who owns it and plug their name into the Lake County Sheriff’sDepartment Registry of Sex Offenders.  When you find this criminal, you too can boycott his establishment.
 
If you have never used the Registry of Sex Offenders, you might be surprised to find out how many there are and how close to your home they might be residing.  If you are a parent, you might want to take a minute to become more informed about the prospect of having predatory neighbors, especially if you have children or young women in your home.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Living, Breathing Contradiction...that's me!

I’m a pretty darn good shot.  It’s not something I spent time practicing, just a natural talent I discovered in young adulthood.  My husband and my father were sitting on the entry stairs of my parents’ farmhouse.  Dad had tied a balloon to a log between two outbuildings about two hundred feet from the house.  Seems there was a pesky groundhog ravaging the garden, and Dad was determined to rid himself of the beast.  The critter was often seen between the two buildings, so the balloon was serving as a slightly bobbing and weaving practice target.

Jim and Dad took turns attempting to shoot the balloon.  They went back and forth numerous times, and the noise of the shots was beginning to grate on my nerves.  I walked out the door and asked what they were doing.  When they told me, I asked if I could take a turn.  They laughed at me, but I insisted.  They handed me the rifle.  I raised it to my shoulder, sited down the barrel, pulled the trigger, and killed the bobbing balloon with one shot.  I handed it back and re-entered the house, leaving the men folk a bit speechless.

That was my first taste of the shooting experience.  I have to admit, I really loved it.  Many years later in 2001, I went to Las Vegas for a seminar on the accurate depiction of weaponry in fiction.  As part of the seminar, a group called TCATT (Tallgrass Center for Advanced Tactical Training), arrived with an SUV loaded with every conceivable firearm.  On the last day of the event, we went to a shooting range and were allowed to try any or all of the weapons in the mobile arsenal.  I shot everything from a snub-nosed 22, to a Colt 45 (huge kick), to two different sizes of Glock, to automatic and semiautomatic rifles.  My favorite weapon was a bolt-action Remington 700 sniper rifle that had the most amazing scope.  I set it on a tripod and began to shoot.  I’m not sure of the exact model of 700, but it had a detachable magazine that I believe held 10 rounds, and I managed to put every one of them directly into center target at 200 yards.  I would still like to own one of those beauties!

So where does the contradiction come into play?  Regardless of how much I love to shoot, I firmly believe that all guns should be registered.  All owners should have to show evidence of training and pass a test for licensing.  And a criminal record or psychological issues should preclude ownership of guns.  This isn’t bleeding-heart liberal blather.  I have to take driver’s education and pass a driving test with a member of the highway patrol in order to get a driver’s license.  In almost every profession, proof of education and subsequent testing are required for licensure.  This is true for doctors, dentists, lawyers and numerous other professionals that we trust with our lives.  If they are found to be criminally negligent, they lose that licensing.  You can’t even get married without a license.  So what sane person would want untrained, untested, criminal, or psychologically deficient people to buy or own guns?

I have to register my car annually and get license plates.  The government is not taking away my car because it is registered.  The argument that the government will come “confiscate” your personal firearms is nothing but an ultra-conservative NRA scare tactic.  It’s time everyone realized those ridiculous statements aren’t worth the breath on which they are uttered.  

And attacking former congresswoman Gabby Giffords with death threats and classless and derogatory remarks, such as “might have to shoot her again” or “too bad the bullet didn’t end her” or “someone needs to take her out” or “my rights trump her getting shot. She’s a piece of shit” is completely out of line.  Then there are the ones that mock her speech, or question her mental capacity, such as “has anyone even heard her talk?  I question if she’s even able to complete a thought or a sentence.”  Or this lovely one “Yes she can speak but …iiitt iiiiiisss soooo haarrrd…weeee mmmust hhaaavve gggun cccontrol…is what it sounds like.  Not just a puppet, a sock puppet.  A political prop for gun control.”  HELLO!  Gabby Giffords is a gun owner, too.  She isn’t promoting a government take-back.  She’s working for responsible ownership.
   
I find these comments incredibly offensive, and I’m not easily offended.  I wonder if those people mock a friend or relative or returning soldier who suffers from a severe brain trauma after being shot in the head.  Gabby Giffords fought her way back from the brink of death.  She has every bit of mental power she had before, but the brain injury prevents her from smoothly articulating the words.  She went from unable to walk, to driving a car.  This woman has more guts and courage than any of those vicious, judgmental souls who seem to think they are better than anyone else and need to place blame and hate on everyone that doesn’t share their political views or religious beliefs. 

I will continue to be a contradiction…loving guns, but promoting firearm registration and abhorring those who foster hate and try to brainwash the public with their scare tactics.  It's time to ignore the 10% of extreme radicals on the right and the 10% of extreme radicals on the left.  It's time for the remaining 80% to find common ground for the good of the nation and the good of the people.  It's time to only vote people into office that will work with each other for their constituents and not sell out to big oil or big banking or the 1% that control all the wealth.  


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Making lemonade...sometimes easier said than done.

You’ve all heard that platitude “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  It sounds rather simple and rather practical, with the proviso that you actually have a need for lemonade.  Things get a little tougher if you don’t have sugar or water to mix with the lemon juice in order to concoct this saving grace that is “the lemonade.”  Of course, attempting to solve the problem of what to substitute for the other ingredients will serve to temporarily distract you from the original issue…what to do with all the lemons.

Finding ourselves with too many lemons happens far too often in our lives.  I remember one time when it was peanut butter.  We were young and struggling with two kids and little income.  A work friend of my husband’s offered him a box of government peanut butter, and he took it without question.  He proudly hauled the 50-pound box into the kitchen and announced that we wouldn’t have to buy peanut butter for a long, long time.  I was thrilled…until I opened the box to find that the entire 50 pounds of peanut butter was encased in one, single, heavy plastic bag.

My heart dropped.  There was no way that I could store a 50-pound bag of peanut butter in my tiny pantry cupboard.  There was no way that we would ever use that much peanut butter, once opened, before it turned rancid.  The thought of attempting to even scoop peanut butter out of such an awkward package, without having it on every conceivable kitchen surface, was daunting.
 
Brainstorming began in earnest.  How could I preserve the tasty goo?  It was a real prize, because my husband took PBJ sandwiches for lunch almost every day, and it was a “go to” lunch for the kids on Saturdays.  It would save us a lot of money if I could figure out how to keep it.  We had purchased a chest freezer before the arrival of kids, and it housed dozens of loaves of Wonder Bread that I would buy at a discount at the Hostess outlet in a town nearby.  I also used it for freezing veggies we grew in the garden each year and to buy things ahead if they were on sale.  I had never heard of anyone freezing peanut butter, but I decided that the risk was worth the try.

We scrounged every plastic container we could find and every quart freezer bag we had left in the drawer.  Jim lifted the bag of peanut butter out of the box and laid it on the counter.  I gathered all the containers within reach, then took a pair of scissors and snipped off the tip of one corner of the bag.  Together we filled the containers as though we were milking a cow, slowly squeezing the peanut butter through the opening to fill each container and holding the cut end closed when switching from one container to the next.
 
It took most of the evening to accomplish the task.  I put multiple containers in the refrigerator, hoping it would stay somewhat fresh, and we made a space in the chest freezer for the rest.  I’m happy to say that the idea worked like a charm.  We had peanut butter as needed for about 18 months.  For some unknown reason, that peanut butter made the best cookies we ever had.
 
Life is like that.  Sometimes you just have to brainstorm for an answer and try it, even if you have no idea whether or not it will work.  Then have faith that it will.  You might be surprised at the positive outcome.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Redux - more office purging success!

Ten days since my last progress report.  Progress is the key word here.  The amount of paper removed from my office, in the form of scrap, newspaper, magazines, catalogs and other things piling up, now totals about 150 pounds.  You would think I had a hoarder’s room with that kind of number, but much of it was confined in drawers and old files I no longer needed to keep but had not yet discarded.  It is truly amazing how heavy paper can be.
 
My work table is now completely purged, along with a desktop utility shelf, a rolling book shelf, four of the five shelves on the computer desk, the file desk file drawer, the clutter under the work table, my rolling file and the floor to ceiling storage shelf.  I also cleaned out the rolling file, gathered all my tax paperwork for last year into one box (though it isn’t sorted yet), and filed all the paid bills and receipts for 2015 so far.

And, most importantly, I finally framed and hung the papal blessing from Pope Francis!  His is directly beneath the one from Pope Benedict.  Actually, it is pretty cool.  After all, I don’t know another person who has a papal blessing, in writing, from one pope, much less two…seems “A Mystery in the Mailbox” made an impression on both of them.



But regarding the purge, I have about 1/3 of the office to go.  I will attack that section once I sort all my tax stuff so I can get to the preparer quickly when my W2 and my 1099’s arrive.  I hereby declare that I will NOT be filing my taxes in April this year!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Progress Report...as promised

I can hardly believe it myself, but I made actual progress today.  All recycle materials have been cleared from the room (pop bottles), and I believe I removed about 60 # of paper, newspaper, magazines and catalogs.  I managed to get some things sorted and filed.  I still have a way to go.
 
I did clear enough space to hand feed postcard stock into my printer and I replaced the cartridges.  So I managed to get 120 cards printed for my recipients!

All in all it was a good day!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

12 Days Post-New Year....hmmm

Since last I sat here to write, much has happened, yet little has been accomplished.  Although, we did manage to undecorate the house, and I actually purged my ornament boxes of things broken and sorted out a small box of treasured ornaments to pass on to my daughter.  I really felt I had to “downsize” at least a little.  I gave in and purchased a new ornament for myself this year (something I swore I would not do), and I was given two new ornaments as gifts.  The tree is not getting any bigger, so a few things had to go.  Now if only I could manage to do this in every room of the house, life would be simpler.

My office has still not been completely purged.  I have not yet found the other ornaments I was looking for last week.  I’m starting to think the paper in this office has nothing better to do than reproduce itself at a phenomenal rate every time I vacate the premises for an hour.  And now I am searching for the wall calendars I bought for the office and kitchen.
 
I’m fairly sure they are hiding with those secreted ornaments.

I have sworn myself to progress today.  I’ll write a progress report before my head hits the pillow tonight!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve...the Herald of 2015

This morning I awoke to a world of white.  Snow covered everything, and the temperature was in the teens, though with the blowing wind, it felt more like zero or below.  This is our first real snowfall of December.  Likely it will be the last snowfall of December as well since it is now clear and sunny and the ball drops in Times Square in about 9 hours.  Right now we are ranking this as the third least snowy December in history for our area.  This is in stark contrast to November, when Mother Nature dumped close to 2 feet on our heads.  It seems that even our weather world has become one of extremes.

Before I embark on my bucket list for 2015-2016, I need to get my office purged and organized.  I’ve done a good bit in the last week, but I know I still have a long way to go.  This is evidenced by this morning’s find on my work table of a small brown paper bag containing a piggy bank and a Christmas ornament personalized with “Olivia” for the baby daughter of an old friend.  Olivia is now 12.
 
I am also determined to unearth some special Christmas ornaments I know I purchased at “Art in the Park” a few years back.  I was disappointed that they were not hiding on my office utility shelf, which is the one thing I have managed to completely purge and organize.  I did some paperwork reduction by taking the 9 months of paid bill receipts that were spilling out of a small gift bag, throwing out whatever was unnecessary, such as return envelopes and inserts, and stuffing it all into a Saucony shoebox.  It’s not sorted, but it is now manageable.

I may or may not return to the computer before the bell tolls midnight, but if I don’t, then I wish you all a very happy, and healthy, and prosperous New Year, filled with only the challenges that make you grow in wisdom and in love.  

Remember, the joy is in the journey!