Anyone seen the Pied Piper?

Rats – they bit the Babies in their cradles, and ate the cheeses out of the vats, and made nest inside men’s Sunday hats….

That was a line from a play I was in when I was about 7 years old- way back when I was in a private all girls school. I don’t recall much of the plot but I do recall following whomever it was that played that part of the piper out of the auditorium. I think it was an adult and I was a rat (I’ve been called worse.).

Anyway this line from the play comes to me now daily (amazing what we can recall from our childhood) bc we have rats! Rats! In the chicken enclosure. Lots of them. I’ll call it what it is – an infestation.

And they are cute rats. Well ..until you see the tails. They kind of gross me out.

I’m told rats and chickens kind of go hand in hand. And since we have been here 7 plus years now I will agree. I had seen a rat once or twice over the years. And that was after we got chickens. When we moved in there were those rat poison feeder things all over. That should have been for-warning that rats had been here prior to our moving in.

But before I ever saw a rat I got barn cats. Three of them. And I’m thinking this might be why I only saw a few rats here in all those years and now I’m seeing so many. We don’t have a barn cat now. One retired across the street at our neighbors home where he chose the cushy life of an indoor cat who sometimes gets some outdoor time. – and the others have passed on.

I never thought the cats were controlling the rat population because I never saw a rat carcass. I only saw mice and birds left for me in the center Aisle of the barn. Someone even told me cats won’t kill rats but maybe they kill the little ones? I don’t know. But it seems like the population explosion here kind of coincides with the loss of our last cat last November.

Yesterday afternoon I caught motion out of my right eye as I was feeding the chickens and ducks meal worms. I figured it was a rat. Hubby Kevin had recently seen a couple rats looking at him from their holes in the ground -so he got some poison safe for other critters and poured it in the hole. I wanted to avoid the coop for a while because I didn’t want to see dying rats dragging themselves around my paddock and coop area.

See I hate killing things and Kevin -Bless him – knows this. So he tries to spare me from it and maybe his attempts at killing which included the poison and flooding their holes were half-hearted. After all we had only seen a few rats. But the other day Kevin saw one gallantly walking to the coop from the barn. I found a bag of chicken scratch chewed open and it’s contents spread across a work table in the barn. My son Zach reported seeing some rats in the coop. He would spray them with water to scare them off. Hmmm….I began to wonder if maybe we had more than we originally thought. And they are getting bold.

So back to yesterday. I saw the movement under the coop and figured it was a rat looking out at what I was tossing to the chickens. We have two coops and two chicken enclosures for two different flocks and I didn’t think any rats were in this enclosure but I guessed maybe they moved here after the Flood. You know the one hubby Kevin created by spraying the hose into their holes.

Only I would take photos and video of my rat problem! See they are kind of cute!

Well I was curious and I walked over to a covered run that extends out of the coop and leaned down and peeked in and what I saw was like fours sets of eyes looking at me and some busy critters jumping into and out of the coop where we have the food. And they weren’t chickens. Rats!

Whoa!

We all just stared at one another and then I began counting and holy of all things holy we have a problem! Darn it. I began looking at those cute little rats with their little ears and wiggly noses – they are so cute – well not the tails. Why are the tails so creepy?

The rats just kept doing what they were doing which was stealing my chickens feed and not caring I was there- and the little ones kept staring at me. Very brazen. The chickens are either fearful of them or used to them dining in their house.

Let me just stop here and say that my rats though a huge problem because of the sheer numbers of them are not the rats you see in the city. These are country rats and not the giant dumpster divers you see in the city. Country rats are not as bad as city rats. They hang in barns and chicken coops just getting into food not trash cans (though i suspect if they had a dumpster they might dive in it.) Anyway country rats aren’t as gross as city rats. I say this all in jest it but I kind of believe it. Do you like my rationalization here?

I thought back to the tale of the Pied Piper- could I get them to follow me to a safe place. Though I think in the real tale they are led to their deaths. In my grade school tale they were just led “out of town” because you know … little Kids. (I’m adding this link to the summary of the Pied Piper story. It’s scary… maybe I wasn’t a rat maybe I was a kid. But why did we do that play in 2nd grade. The ways of the world in 1970! Let’s freak the kids out! Here is the link.)

But I don’t think my fantasy can work and I think there are way toooo many for humane trapping. Like I want to say I saw maybe 10-15. Maybe more. I know… some of you experts will say -oh there are more. I know. (Insert sheepish grin emoji here. )

And when so many people would have run at the mere mention of rats I don’t. Ok if one got too close I might have run because of rabies fears. They don’t scare me like a big spider does. Gah. I even thought maybe I could hand feed them some of the meal worms I was doling out. Ok – No I didn’t but See how I am? I will not be party to their deaths. But killing them is what is coming. This is not a job for hubby Kevin – I’m calling in the big guns. Let them kill my rats.

I got online to my Carroll County farm exchange Facebook page and asked for exterminators names for rat infestations and got the name of one who uses safe products to get rid of them. We will be calling them asap.

Poor rats. They don’t know what’s coming. But It has to be. I may have actually spoken to them and told them to pack their bags. I have a tendency to talk to all animals. So now you know some more of my crazy. But we all have some crazy. At least I know they don’t really understand me!

Now I have to re-design our feeders. We (aka hubby) had recently made some out of PVC pipe and placed them in the coop. I now realize this has to be reworked. I don’t need food in the coops. Food can mean rats dining there. Having the rats in and out of there is not good at all. So back to the drawing board.

And I think it might be time to get some more barn cats.

I’ll keep you updated.

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If you are at all curious take a look at this video. You will see rats and some chicken poop -so don’t look if you can’t take either of those.

Can I Draw?

I remember sitting in art class as a young girl and being petrified. There was usually an assignment to draw some object and I’d look around me and the other kids seemed to be drawing something that resembled the object that stood atop a desk or table. I looked at my scribbles and my insides would jumble up. Then I’d just give up and draw whatever suited me. Usually I would draw a little cartoon my bff and I drew on all our secret notes. We called it a pulb. I can’t even remember how to draw it now. It’s not in my head anymore. I would make twenty of them on the paper.

Ultimately I had to hand in something that resembled what the teacher asked for. Many students art were placed on the walls lining the hallways. I can’t recall mine being there ever.

This may not have bothered some kids. They would draw the best flower or cow or building they could and hand it in and be done with it. I was driven mad by inability to create a nice drawing. I wanted to be able to draw and I wanted it to look just like the cow or the flower that was the model for our assignment.

The things I could draw when I was young were limited. I mentioned the pulb. And I drew tons of smiley faces. But when my fascination with horses bloomed I spent hours and hours drawing horses. Some I copied and even traced so I could get the feel of how to draw the neck or the head. Some of the drawings came out of my head. None were very good but it was my love for the horse and the time spent being in the moment of drawing it that seemed to be satisfying to me.

Another period of drawing came when I became enamored with houses. I loved to go into other people’s homes and see what their floorplans were like. I imagined Home floor plans when I looked at houses from the outside. I guessed where the rooms might be placed based on the where windows were . I perused floor plan magazines spending way too much time for a eleven year old going over every detail of the plan.

It was then I began to draw my own floor plans on graph paper. I made drawings of floor after floor. (I guess it’s not shock that later in life I wanted to be an architect. Something my grades and math skills never allowed but I did major in urban planning.).

I never tired of drawing floor plans and I also began a fascination with maps. (Again this plays into the urban planning major).

I spent all that time drawing and I never felt I was an artist. I wrote back then too. I wrote stories and poetry. I dreamed of authoring a book.

I was the dramatic poet in high school penning love poems to boyfriends. I took a pottery class in high school and loved it. I never made anything good but the wet clay between my fingers was so relaxing.

I never thought myself creative though. It was just stuff I did. When I was a kid you didn’t major in art. My dad wanted me to major in business in college because that’s how I would get a good job. Creative stuff wasn’t going to provide for me in the future.

I didn’t picture having a creative life even after I discovered photography when I was just 22. I fell in love. I loved the technical aspects of photography and the feeling of that camera and the power to capture an image I found beautiful or captivating. I have thousands upon thousands of photos.

I longed to dig deeper into the art. I took classes and was discouraged after one classmates portrait assignment blew mine away. In fact many of my fellow students had much better darkroom skills than I did. I stopped classes soon after but I never stopped taking photos.

It wasn’t until I became a member of a creative group online that I actually allowed myself to say I am a creative. I may not be earning money being creative but I am one. I’m a creative.

I have to say that I’m proud of much of my photography and sometimes the photos that resonate with me aren’t my best shots. They are the ones that convey some meaning to me. A memory, how I felt at that moment. For me each photo has my story in it.

I realized it’s the actual creating that is what matters to me more then the outcome. It’s how I feel doing it. Just walking around with the camera and looking at things differently bc I have that camera in my hand- that’s a feeling I love.

The same goes with writing. Most of the time my pieces that I wrote never turn out the way I thought they would. My writing takes on its own form as soon as I sit down to do it. That’s the part I love.

Creativity is about outcome yes – but it’s also so much about the process. At least for me it is. I think about Michelangelo on his back for so much time painting the Sistine Chapel. It had to be about the process. It took him like 7 years I think. And what about Picasso and Van Gogh? Their artistic styles were so different. Picasso’s work made no sense to many. But it did to him. And when people look at art they get their own feelings about it.

My photo of the Baltimore harbor (see below) means something to me that was personal bc I was there and moved by the scene before me. I know it was winter and I was in the Marriott hotel inside and I took the photos through the window. I had been there to watch a Christmas boat show – a getaway with my husband. See? I have a huge memory of that photo. To someone else looking at it it will mean something entirely different. How cool is that?

So in my creative evolution I’ve become more fluid. I’ve wanted to try more things. I took a glass cutting class where we made some cute trivets. I wanted to keep that up but it didn’t stick. I began painting furniture which I loved but had to give that up bc of my nerve damage to my arm.

I never thought that I wanted to try drawing bc of my past fears. But recently my husband and I found ourselves perusing the aisles of a Michaels craft store (where items are way too pricey btw). Aisle by aisle I became inspired. And then it happened -my husband found a book of animals to draw. The fire lit inside me and before I knew it I was in line with the book and sketch pad and pencils.

It turns out I love to draw. I ordered myself a beginner book. The animal one was a bit hard.

I often think what I’ve drawn stinks. Then I go back after a day or two and I look and think it’s not so bad. I don’t think I’ll ever draw well. In my dreams I want to draw like the artists that can take a photo and draw it and you can hardly tell the difference between the two. I think that’s a huge gift and I don’t think God gave me that one. So I have to tamp down my hopes some.

I kind of want to find some drawing style that is me. But right now it’s the process that I love. I like the time lost in the learning. In the past I’m not sure I would have been as patient. I would have given up. But now it the process that benefits me. It’s akin to some meditation. It’s the same thing as my photos and my writing. All outlets for me.

So can I draw? Yes. Can I draw well. Not really -but I might get better. It doesn’t really matter though does it ?

choices and boundaries

Sometimes the wind gets knocked out of us. Sometimes literally like when we take a sudden fall – then you get that awful feeling that you cannot take a breath in for what seems like an eternity. Then you gasp and take the sweet air into your lungs- things begin to seem more clear  – less frightening.  Then sometimes the wind gets knocked out of us figuratively – some news or event might trigger this syndrome – while your breath is really there you still feel like you are drowning. You don’t know when you can come up for that deep breathe.

Sometimes I feel like I am in waves getting pummeled and then getting up and drawing breath in only to be pummeled again. 

Its been a time- feeling like the wind is constantly being knocked out of me- me trying to come up for air. Me wanting to write about things but feeling like I can’t or shouldn’t or both. But I think I can write now- but should I ?  I need to.


Sometimes people you love make terrible choices. People you love ignore your advice and offers to help.  Sometimes it is just too hard to watch.

Thats where I am. I can’t watch.  Someone in my family has made some very bad and risky choices.  I have confronted this person and they don’t want to stop and they don’t want help. They want me to accept their choices and I can’t – they are not safe choices.

In this “you do you” society (which has been created by the millennial genre) we are called upon to accept everyones choices.  Hey if you are into it then it’s ok.  To a degree I love this philosophy – I want people to feel empowered to reach for the stars, find your voice, live your truth. But the philosophy gets dicey to me if it becomes a way to enable bad choices. Hey if you are into it then its ok. Nobody is supposed to question anyone or warn them if their choices seem to be dangerous of even illegal.  We don’t want to hurt anyones feelings.  You Do You can be taken too far.

And I am not a person to enable anyone when I know their choice is harmful to them or illegal.  But what do you do when someone doesn’t want to hear your advice or offers for help?

I think there are as many answers as their are situations that we may encounter. It depends on the nature of the relationship  and I suppose the degree to which we each are able to watch things take a tail spin.

I just cannot watch.  I realize how little I know this person. That saddens me.

In light of the risky choices being made I had to create a boundary to not only draw my line in the sand but to also help save my sanity.  I knew I could not live day to day chatting with this person knowing what I knew.  Getting together and sharing space would just be too awkward now.  And they liked their choices and found nothing wrong with them. That is their prerogative I guess.  Sadly, they did not want to stop the behavior even in the wake of not being in contact with me and as it turns out other members of the family. I couldn’t watch the train going down the wrong tracks. I don’t want to see it crash.

What is left is heartbreak. I call it collateral damage. The family member assures us that there was no intent on hurting us. But sometimes our choices bring on damage that you can’t imagine.

The breath is knocked out of me. I am sad and angry. I promise myself I wont let this persons choices wreck my day. But it permeates it when I allow it too. It has effected our family unit. What a heartbreak.

I keep asking why? Why these choices? I have always been a why person. I have been to therapy and I have been told that sometimes there isn’t an answer to a why that makes any sense. And I suppose that is true.  I know this person has some buried sadness and pain. But even with all this I can’t figure out why these risky behaviors were chosen.

I know this person needs help but they have to really want it. When they shut out that possibility its so defeating for those who want to help. I want to shake them, I want to hug them, I want to scream….I want to help – but I can’t – not now.

For now,  I am not engaging in contact with this family member. I have made it clear that I need a break. I cant have daily interactions with this person knowing what I know – and frankly I think they feel the same.  A boundary is a consequence and a choice. Its my choice to set the boundary.  It is what I need in order to try to cope with this hurt.

I am sure some people reading this can relate- they may have been on one side or the other of this wall.  I know there will be a time where I can check in with this person but not now.  My open hand is always there if they want to accept help.  Always. Anytime.  I haven’t shut my phone off or blocked this persons number.

When you love someone it is so hard to see the person choose something that can hurt them and even others. It is hard to see the wall go up when they feel their choices are being questioned.  It is hard to not want to try to control it all. It is hard to know you have no control.  I know that the consequence of my boundary isn’t enough to make this person stop their behaviors and I am afraid of the the real consequences that may await them.

So I try to let go and live my life. Sometimes I wonder if I can ever forgive this person for the collateral damage they have caused.  The air of sadness that has permeated us. The feeling of rejection. That we aren’t important enough – that their bad choices are better and more important than the family that loves them. It hurts a lot and it angers me too… and then there is the need to help them that pulls at me – nags at me like itchy wool. Sometimes it all blows my mind and thats when it feels like the wind is knocked out of me.

But I get up again- brace myself and wait for the next wave.

 

 

 

 

What to say- and a painful setback

I see spring making it’s way to me.  I feel the warm sun as the angles change. I think about sitting out in the heat. I hope for an active summer. I want that.

I have been very mute lately when it has come to my writing. I have been blocked. There has been so many things happening in my world that I have become so overwhelmed and the words that need to spill out won’t.

Some things I just cannot yet write about – they are just too personal. I have always hoped to be as authentic as I could be when it came to my writing but so many things I just cant speak about now. It seems that God continues to test my faith. Is it that? Or just random hard crap that is bound to happen in some part to most of us- maybe some of us get more challenges than others.  I don’t know but my faith remains steadfast though I do shake my fist sometimes and ask why?  I think God gets it.

Anyway so what do I say? Maybe today I will write about things I can write about and maybe at some point I will feel ready and able to write about some of the other stuff. And maybe the stuff I don’t write about that is blocking me will take a step aside to allow my words to flow.

There has been a shift somewhere deep inside me this last year or so.  Sometimes I wonder if it as a result of all the surgeries I have had- all that anesthesia to my brain. Maybe its the pain I deal with- but I feel different. Not horribly down, but down sometimes and flat other times and sometimes I feel like me but with shifted worldview. I even went to my doctor to see if I am depressed and according to the questionaire I am mildly depressed. So I was prescribed an anti-depressant. I don’t do well on Anti-d’s typically -but I was given one that is in a different class than other ones I have used. All of those were for anxiety and depression and none ever worked right or I got some nasty side effects from them.

Anyway I haven’t take the Anti-d yet. Thats because I am now taking some other new meds for pain. My pain has returned – this time likely because of a failed fat graft. I have learned they can fail- die- form cysts etc. This graft in particular was put in an area in my posterior axilla (back of armpit) where the hope was that the stem cells would work to rejuvenate radiation damaged tissue.  I felt that graft with my fingers right after surgery. I worried that it felt really big in there and it sat in an area where I have had quite a bit of pain. But for over three months I didn’t notice anything. The grafts under the scars were doing well and that graft in the axilla wasn’t a bother- until it was.

A few weeks ago, I had a weekend where I did so many things (because I was able to finally do things again)and I can’t tell what may have set off the fury under my arm. Unloading boxes into my new kitchen after our reno was completed, I did a little barn work, I did a little working out.  Whatever it was set off a fire if intense pain that seemed to worsen each day thereafter. I called my nerve surgeon and gave me prednisone in hopes that we could calm down whatever was acting up. Prednisone was an elixir like no other. But as soon as the pack was done back came the pain. Stabbing, burning, searing, aching- crappy pain. Oh and this time swelling too. It just wasn’t feeling right under my arm.

When my nerve surgeon saw me he ordered an ultrasound and blood work and he added antibiotics because of low grade fever and the swelling  – and he ordered an anti-inflammatory – but no prednisone.  I begged for prednisone – it helped so much. You can only have so much prednisone I am told. Nothing has worked as well as that prednisone pack – not even medical marijuana. But maybe I don’t take enough MJ-I don’t want to feel “high”. My surgeon suggested trying opiates if needed. I haven’t taken opiates in months and want to avoid them if possible. I just want prednisone- it is hard to believe it is more dangerous than opiates.

I am back to limited mobility once more. I see the plastic surgeon next week who did the actual grafting. He did confer with my nerve surgeon about my setback and did feel it likely is the graft causing the pain. He did say he can take it out- which means surgery of some sort.

So frustrating.

I keep thinking how can I make lemonade from this? Maybe tack on a facelift or some tweak while I am under? God knows I have aged a bazzilion years since this all has started. I deserve some tweak – fillers don’t cut it!  Well if nothing cosmetic can be done, perhaps he could add more grafts under the scars that were treated before- I was going to need another procedure anyway- but that involves liposuction and that has a longer recovery time. so we will see.

I am looking at this as a setback. Pop that graft out and hopefully that area that has been my most painful area since I began this pain crap will settle down so I can enjoy my summer.  I had been looking so forward to summer before this setback. I am trying to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that isn’t so easy for me.

It is funny how pain can become such a focus when it is intense and when it is dialed back or gone you can so easily forget you had it. I have kept marching forward looking for things to ease my pain and understanding that those that try to help me are not always sure things will work- I am kind of a guinea pig I guess.  I just keep the faith.

So I sit here looking at the sun across my pastures and I wait for spring and the warmth. Our home renovation is finished with some minor tweaks here and there. I have an office and I have a kitchen that is so pretty I hate to soil it with cooking.  I remind myself that through hardships there are always blessings. I see them each day even if I don’t always acknowledge them. Lately, things have been hard for me and for my family.  I search for my words and for my authenticity. I will keep it as real as I can and maybe in time I will have more to say. Ill know what to say….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have we had enough?

The other day I sent my son to school without his cell phone.  This was as a result of some low grades and I had taken the phone away in hopes his grades would come back up so he could get the phone back. He had come into my room that morning and asked if he could take the phone to school and I refused him. Later I saw a text on my phone that he had sent me the day before “did you see the news about the school shooting?”  I had missed that text-and now I know why he came in to ask for his phone-it was the day after the Florida school shooting where 17 students and faculty lost their lives. Only when I saw that text did it occur to me that perhaps he had asked for the phone because maybe he was feeling anxious about attending school and having his phone would have made him feel safer to have a connection to me. Then I realized that it would make me feel better having a connection to him. Who would have thought we would be here as parents – fearful to send our kids to school. Wondering could it happen at our school?

I don’t always write about things that are controversial- but sometimes you just have to speak out.  And to be honest there doesn’t seem to be a need to make this topic controversial because I think we can all agree on the premise – that we are all sick of  kids and adults being shot dead in schools. This problem has become prolific.

Here is a list of recent school shootings in case you missed it.

Aren’t you frustrated at seeing the heartbroken faces of the families who lost a loved one? The faces of the murdered flow past our screens in rapid succession – maybe strangers to us but to someone they were the world.  And don’t we feel the pain? and don’t we become angry? I think most of us agree enough is enough.

But then what? It doesn’t seem our politicians can agree on what to do about the issue. They don’t want to become unpopular to their constituents or perhaps to the lobbies that fund them. So what happens? Nothing. They let  enough time go by and the masses demanding change thin out because they have life to get back to and the pressure on the politicians lessens and they go on without having done anything – then there is a next time and another.

And lets face it- nothing that is done will completely stop these horrible tragedies from happening but does that mean there shouldn’t be change?

And by this time you might be reading Gun Ban into my writing and if you are doing that you have read wrong. I don’t hate guns. I live in the country where many people own and use guns. I think guns are tools that need to be respected. But I do feel not everyone should have one.

The answer to this national epidemic doesn’t fall into one category. In my opinion, there needs to be a multifaceted approach to maybe begin to see the number of these school shootings and hopefully other mass shootings significantly decline. But we have to compromise and we have to admit the truth about a few key issues.

While I find that there is a need for gun reforms there is another pressing and urgent issue that must be addressed in this country and that is the failure of our mental health system. This especially applies to children and teens and young adults.  I keep hearing from politicians that it’s not a gun issue it is a mental health issue. Well politicians here’s the truth our crappy mental health system is the issue – it not hard to find story after story online of our fractured mental health system in the United States. The system is broken and must be fixed. The truth of this situation must be admitted by our national and state governments – only they can facilitate a fix to this crisis.  If it’s not a gun issue and is a mental health issue something better happen to begin improvements to a system that isn’t doing much to help the most broken among us. 

I say this with some experience circumventing the mental health system can be a nightmare.  Our family has been lucky – our needs weren’t huge. I wasn’t looking for a bed for a psychotic or homicidal child. I didn’t need to sit for hours and sometimes days in an ER only to be told  that there just weren’t any beds to admit their child.  Or told that their child didn’t meet the “criteria” for admittance to a residential facility or that the hospital that could take the teen that was suicidalcould only keep them for a few days -the family would need to find other facilities for their child- leaving them to step into the sea of beauracracy and limitation that is our mental health system .  We were lucky, We only had to try to find a psychiatrist and an therapist for my child. This seems easy enough but finding Psychiatrists wanting to treat adolescents under 18 are not easy to find and often the ones I found didn’t take our insurance. We paid the full hourly fee out-ot-pocket for years because we found someone very caring and open to working with our child. He left to go teach and we found another doc only to have him leave the practice shortly after we began to see him and  nobody stepped in to replace him.  I could go on with the stories but you get my drift – I think- i hope.  We are lucky that we could afford it- and we are blessed we haven’t been in the situations I mentioned above but I know of people who have been. Friends it’s a mess. 

The other day President Trump said that when people see dangerous behavior or strange behavior that they must report it. I know of families that did report that their children were becoming a danger to themselves or others only to be turned away. And worse –  At the ER the staff will often look at cases like these and if the parents ask for the child to be admitted- and refuse to take the child home – begging for someone to help – the staff at the hospital might call Child Protective Services or they might spell out what CPS might tell the family…you must take your child home – we have no bed- we cannot help – they don’t meet the criteria- they are too dangerous for XYZ facility – if you don’t take your child home then you will be charged with child abandonment and neglect. The very parents who are trying to get help for their child – the very ones who might feel fear of their raging teen but who still want ot help this child will be charged with neglect if they refuse to take this raging child home. Who is be neglectful really? It is our system.

So the very system that the President is asking people to depend on and report things to is broken and has turned away many people young and old that need attention.  I know the health care providers don’t want this but their hands are tied. This has to stop because those kids or adults who have ben turned away time after time will not be helped and we can expect to see more violence because of this. 

With the closing of many longer term intensive mental health care facilities in the latter half of the last century we see less beds and more doors closed for the mentally ill especially our youth.  Hospitals simply cannot meet the demands that are now placed upon them to handle severe mental health cases. And that leaves so many with no means of help.  What a tragedy.

So with the failure of our mental health system to meet the needs of the mentally ill population the people who need to be in a mental hospital will not be in one. So our gun laws will fail because the only way to fail the mental health part of a gun check to acquire a gun is to have been committed to a mental hospital.

Right now, under federal law, a person can be tallied in a database and barred from purchasing or possessing a firearm due to a mental illness under two conditions: if he is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or if a court or government body declares him mentally incompetent (ref 1). So if you have a mental health issue but have not been committed or found incompetent you won’t be in that database that is searched for that red flag.  
So how does all this get fixed?  I venture to say it will never ever be full proof. But still things need to improve. Admitting to and then addressing the issues that plague our mental health system is a start. In the meantime let’s get some rational gun laws on the books. Personally, I do not like the high powered rifles and feel they should be banned but that is just my opinion and not a popular one- so in spirit compromise I thought of the following that could be put into place-

–Don’t sell guns of any type to anyone under the age of 21. Many states have a legal drinking age of 21 for a reason. Why not enforce the age 21 for gun purchases too?

–Don’t sell high powered weapons to anyone under the age of 30. Ok I know people are like What? That is not fair! Well if we take into consideration the maturation process of the brain – it has been studied a lot- and it’s proven that as we reach our latter 20’s our impulsivity declines. So perhaps by the latter 20’s a person may have better control over reactivity, better control over feelings and reasoning.  A more mature person might be inclined to use it for the right purposes. 

Maybe a young person with mental illness will be stopped from acting out in such a devestating way if we just make some effort to tighten up the laws to help protect the most precious among us.  

Now I am sure I will hear the argument  that if someone wants a gun they can find one…this might be true. But I think it might be safe to say that not all of these people who committed mass shootings would have obtained their guns illegally- some may have maybe all would have-but I doubt it  – but something has to give. If the gun laws change and nothing improves well then we know we are paddling up the wrong creek. And I won’t pontificate more on the other huge issue – our failing mental health system. Ive said enough here. 

One of the things that was spouted after this last shooting was that Cruz got his gun legally- but there are clearly gaps in the system that are causing problems. Lets be reasonable. I mentioned above I don’t want a gun ban. I dont hate guns. But I certainly do not feel that any of my children (I have two teen minors and one adult teen)should own a high powered rifle-they have no need for one -and I would venture to guess if you are reading this and you have kids you probably feel the same – ok so I know there are the outliers but I’m sure most of us don’t feel we need our 16 year old running around with an AR15. I am only trying to plead for some reasonable change in laws so we can better protect our schools and other public places – but especially our schools.

I have truly had enough. I read an article the other day about this last shooting in Florida and in the article a woman was interviewed while she and her husband were looking for their daughter. They had been reunited with their son but their daughter hadn’t turned up and wasn’t answering her cell phone. The mother knew the police often ask the kids in a lockdown situation to leave their backpacks in the school and to leave on foot. So she figured her daughter left the cellphone in her backpack. There was another rendevous point that was hard to get to – it was at a mall near the school I believe and her husband borrowed a bike to go to that mall to try to find her – but to no avail. That mom was fairly sure they would find her – she thought she must be with a friend or another parent…

…At the end of that piece was the news. The family confirmed later their daughter was among the 17 killed.

That shook me – my stomach fell- my heart jumped. I felt her hope in that interview. The hope only a parent can have when the alternative is too unthinkable. I can only imagine the horror and grief she felt when she found out her daughter was dead.

I have had enough. Haven’t you?

All you need is love -?


I was filling out a Valentines Day card today for one of my kids and it said on the front: “All we really need is love”— inside it said “but a little now and then chocolate doesn’t hurt.”  The chocolate part is true and I’ve found if I eat six small Dove chocolate candies everyday I am happier in those moments of chocolate bliss but maybe my waistline isn’t. And the truth is the happiness is short lived. But as for the first part of the card “all we really need is love” I am not so sure that’s true. 

All we really need is love….really? Is it?

Then what? The world for us is better ?  All our problems melt away? Sadly I’ve found this isn’t so. Receiving love is a gift and it can lift us up but I’ve found sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love someone it doesn’t fix all their problems. A person may not want to receive our love and sometimes if they do it just isn’t enough. 

I was told for years if I just loved my son more he would snap out of his issues. He just needed more understanding, more hugs, more of me – and a magic wand would wave and unicorns would fly from the sky and his attachment issues would go away, and he would stop wanting to destroy our home or himself, he wouldn’t want to steal from his family, or ignore us and our rules. 

Kevin and I gave of ourselves and we tried so hard and we loved and still love and still it isn’t enough. We have exhausted ourselves trying to love someone so much that they will change. Life isn’t that easy I have come to find. Sometimes love just isn’t enough- but here’s the truth about love – even when it’s hard – even when it might not be received- even when it might not make unicorns fall from the sky – in the end love is a choice. And we the love giver must choose to keep loving even when it doesn’t seem to matter. That so hard sometimes-believe me- I know. 

Love is a choice – these words were spoken as part of a sermon I heard once. The pastor reminded us that love can be a feeling and a very strong one but sometimes it’s hard to feel love for that prickly person, that defiant child, that homeless person on the corner, or our neighbor -and when that feeling isn’t there we should choose to love anyway. Thank you Pastor Steve.  

One time a number of years back when I was in a very bad place of despair,  at one point I may have been praying or maybe just crying and a voice spoke to me or maybe it was a thought that came into my head that clearly was not mine and it said “Love is all that matters”.  In that bad moment I saw that so clearly. Like that was so easy -like why didn’t it appear this clear to me before? And simply yes that is so true -love is all that matters. Love here on earth is kind of like fuel and kryptonite all in one thing. It can bring us up and tear us down.  That’s because we muddle up love in it’s purest form and we always will. 

 The kind of love that we are called upon to give is one that’s unconditional that we choose to give no matter if we feel it or not. It’s not easy to live up to that pure of a love. But on this earth love is important and it’s easy to get frustrated when all the love you give someone doesn’t seem to help them or even matter. But what matters is we love anyway. 

Sometimes we have to let go of someone because their choices are hurting us. We can set boundaries and still choose to love that person. And I’ve done that. But here’s why love on earth can’t be as pure as love in heaven – or if you don’t believe in heaven or an after life just skip the heaven part- we are imperfect people. Face it – who wants to love let’s just say as an example Larry Nassar- the doctor that sexually abused all those woman and just received 175 years in jail? We are called to love him and God knows someone out there does and some out there pray for him and his soul. But most of us can’t be that loving -all I can think about is what he did to the young women he hurt. I can’t love him. 

And let’s take it further…he probably was loved by at least someone in his life and he is still a broken person..has no remorse and obviously has terrible mental issues. Sadly love wasn’t all he needed. But someone chose and probably still chooses to love him even if they themselves are disgusted by his actions.  In a way that is the magic of love. The capacity in which we are able to love if we make that choice – this amazes me. Still I can’t love Larry Nassar..feelings aside or lack thereof -I can’t even make myself choose to…I’m not Mother Theresa. 

In the purest sense those words that popped into my head in that moment of despair are so so true. I’d like to say that all that clarity made me better at loving but I am still human. I became more aware but I am flawed like anyone else and I am not that good at loving that unconditionally. I could spend pages and many words on the semantics of love because as true as those words-love is all that matters -are,  love is complicated here on earth because we complicate it with our humanness.  

But the point is when we choose to love we have to accept that we may not feel like doing it, and even if we do we feel strong loving feelings we have to accept we may not receive anything in return, and further we have to accept that we may try to love up a person all we can but that might not make a difference for them at all.

But we keep on loving. As Pastor Steve said:”because we choose too.”  

Happy Valentines Day 
The Beatles always inspiring music here All you need is love…..

When I’m 54 

Five four

Fifty four. Today I’m 54. 

19710 days alive on this earth. This beautiful, wonderful, terrible, scary, joyful, glorious, sad, happy earth.

That seems like so many days. That number is big. That’s 2808 mondays, tuesdays etc. that I’ve been around for.  I was thinking today that I missed a few of those days or most of one or two or so – but that was during college and I needed a recovery day. Wink wink.

So many days. Each one different. Each one with surprises and joys. Some with hardship and pain. 

But then I was thinking I’ve had 54 (almost Christmases) , that doesn’t seem like that many. And only 54 birthdays. That doesn’t seem like that many right? 

If we are lucky we could get 100 birthdays. That 36,500 sunrises/sunsets. But we don’t know how many days we have so I don’t want to take any for granted but I will. I’ll waste some. Some days I might not feel good. Some I’ll just be so crammed with things that I won’t take time to even register it. It’s life it’s what we do. But some days I will turn to face the wonder of this world. It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff but there is such wonder. 

Did you know that otters sleep holding hands? So stinking sweet? 

Or caterpillars completely liquefy as they transform into moths? What? 

Or two-thirds of the people on earth have never seen snow! Wow they need to see it, feel it, it amazing ( and cold!)

Or hummingbird weighs less than a penny? I knew this only because I saved one once and I’ll never forget it. It was a moment I didn’t take for granted. A magical moment. 

Thank you 54. Thank you 19710 I’ve learned so much….

And your welcome for the fun facts ….

Have an awesome day -I’m going to eat cake…:) 

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Fun facts credit: all-that-is-interesting.com