Dear Cabelas: Today you sold a gun.

Dear Cabelas,

Today you sold my husband a gun.  You had handguns on sale and one was within the price range that the person I am married to could finally afford.  It’ s not a fancy gun, but a weapon nonetheless.

He has been watching ads and looking in the paper, but as you are aware, prices of personal handguns have gone through the ceiling as fearful small minded people are sure that these personal weapons will soon be unavailable.  Foolish people.  As the manufacturers of guns and ammunition pump these out, making their millions, billions,  and retailers like you are getting their piece of the financial pie, men and women are stockpiling their personal arsenals.

Of course he had to wait to have a background check done.  He didn’t have to come home and go back to your store, this check would only take an hour and a half.  Ninety minutes, less than a good movie would take to watch. He wouldn’t have time to reconsider while waiting.   He had his carry permit.  That was easy.  Convince three people who were not relatives to sign a paper and turn it into the local sheriff for a background check.

So he came home with a gun which he knew I would disapprove of, and not affordable for us right now.  There was no discussion, he just walked in, and bought a gun and three boxes of bullets, from your store.

So what does that ninety minute background check tell you about this increasingly unstable man I still live with.?

No jail time, check.   No arrests, check.  Verification he was who his ID said he was?  Check.  Addresses, and employment status.?  Check.

Did it tell you about his experience or lack of knowledge of firearms?   No.  When the last time it was that he used a gun?   No.   Did it ask about his physical health or if he had any chronic diseases which might affect his judgement?

Your company just sold a gun to a man who if diagnosed might be considered pre bipolar.  it runs in his family.  Your company just sold a gun to a man who has no restraint to his anger, has a trigger temper.  Any disagreement can set it off.  It can be as common  as requesting whether the bills can be paid this month.  It can be a disagreement on how to stem the pets from sparring with each other.  A comment about driving left of center or using a blinker can bring on this ugly part of his being.  The temper has flared for years.  It has no off button, no safety switch.  You sold this person a gun.

Was there a question on the background check on whether you get along with your neighbors?   Was there a question about whether you are a person who has integrity and follows the rules?

You sold a man a gun who is in such a feud with neighbors that it has cost us over three thousand dollars we didn’t have in lawyer and land survey costs.   Another neighbor earns a moniker that would be considered one of the crudest terms directed at a woman.   There will never be peace.  You sold him a gun.

Did you ask if he retained employees with his business?  Or did his temper and lack of integrity and trying to get work for less than what it is worth cause most folks to fold up and leave.  Did the form ask if he cheated or treated his children fairly?  Did the form ask if he was as greedy as some born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and would go to all lengths necessary to get what he thought he deserved?   Did the background check ask anything revealing at all?

Today you sold my husband a gun.  A man who should never own a gun.  A man who acts first and sometimes thinks later.  Sometimes.  A man who believes that the world is out to get him, and cause him financial hardship.  A man who has borrowed and begged money from family and relatives and then goes out to buy a totally unnecessary item instead of paying a bill.  A man who while arguing with his brother has been enraged to a point that he considers his once close sibling to be dead in his eyes.  Today you sold this man a gun.

Did the background check ask about his financial situation?   Did it show several bankrupticies in his history?   Did it have a list of the women in his past?   Did it show how a home his aunt and uncle left him was lost after he borrowed money against it which was never paid back?

Today you sold a gun.  You sold a man a gun with an ego as big as the Goodyear blimp who is going through a delayed midlife crisis, who has no true friends anymore, because he screwed them all over too many times.

Today you sold this man a gun.

How many men have bought a gun who by a misstep, a beer too many, a disagreement on the highway make tomorrow’s front page headlines?

Today you sold this man a gun and in ninety minutes deemed him acceptable to own one.

Today I wrote my will.

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Trolls, bullies, and Armchair experts

I am entering the fray against the lack of civility I note every time I view comments on articles, blogs, or statements online.  It has become a battle to express an opinion without a negative, nasty, reply or comment following like a trail of ants after spilled sugar.

Whether it be a political commentary,  an article on a crime, or animal abuse exposed, we now brace ourselves to the downright mean and ignorant rhetoric that follows.  The armchair experts, even argue amongst themselves, often losing the entire meaning of the article that started the onslaught of words that they wouldn’t use face to face.

Some of these  computer combatants are referred to as trolls, as they emerge from under a bridge, looking for prompts to throw in their often foolish anti anything rants.  Sometimes they are “friends” and sometimes they are just a person, who instead of expressing their opinions in a rational and informed manner, blow up the feed with misinformation fed to them from a variety of sources.  There was a time when it was thought that these folks, were actually paid by those who wanted to spread their propaganda.  I can’t say that paid “trolls” were a reality, but the fact that they might not be is a scary though,  as it meant the authors of the rants were doing it just because they could.

If there is any doubt that this is occurring on a regular basis, just take a look after any article you might read online.   From a book review to a story about a dog being rescued to the latest hate crime being exposed, they wait to comment, often not reading more than the headlines or the first paragraph.   Their attitude exudes from their comments, and name calling. It would be referred to as bullying if done in public.   Even bullying topics bring out the worst of the population.

I am not so naive to believe that everyone is going to agree on everything.  There is something we used to called civil discourse where opinions were shared and accepted for consideration.  When, however, on our daily news feeds, we see adults behaving like spoiled little brats, whether they are politicians, celebrities, or “experts” is it any wonder that some in our  population online feel it is perfectly okay to bully their way through a comment thread.

Well, it is not okay to bully.  Period.  I have friends who remove those  who cannot behave as they strive to overtake a thread with increasingly vicious words.  You can almost picture in your mind, the furious tapping of the keyboard, the screen lighting up the snarling face, as the keys are pounded into submission.  The name calling is juvenile and in fact I know youth who wouldn’t resort to the disgusting levels some so called adults fall to.

If this was an isolated incident, only noted on a hot topic of the day, it might be ignored by a sad shake of the head.  This trolling and bullying online is happening every day.  In comments online and after op-ed pieces, and letters to the editor.  Some use their names, others a non de plume.   Lies and misinformation fill the comment boxes,  over and over again.

I am weary of adults not acting like adults.  I am weary of non substantiated “truths” after literally every topic.  I want civil discussion.  Civil.  I want to understand another’s opinion by seeing a citation where they got the information that formed their opinions.  I am embarrassed for the human race, who rant before their fingers hit the keys.    Who toss their hate, without cause, in a litany of misspelled words, sometimes all in CAPS, because they disagree with something that they read.

We don’t live in a perfect world and there will always be disagreements on a variety of things.  It would be boring if we all agreed on everything.  To move forward as a human race, people need to regain their civility.  This happens first at home.  Do you know your neighbors?  Or do you just form an opinion by the kind of car they drive or dog they walk?  We live in neighborhoods where people drive into the garage and go into the house, never to be seen until the next day.  Some people would find it impossible to contact a neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar, or have them pick up mail while they are gone for a few days.

Even in neighborhoods where the people do interact there are topics best left for other times than the annual block party or barbecue.  Because people are losing the ability to carry on a civil discussion on anything.  Anything.

This inability to discuss conflicting opinions  intelligently in person, carries over to the online comment forums.   The anonymous nature of the internet allows the ugly to flow unchecked.  Civility leaves, and the negative begins.

I sometimes would offer  an different side to a comment and move on.  I had no patience for the negative, and would just click to the next article or comment.  This country is in trouble, though and it’s getting worse by the day.  When powerful people go out of their way to spread the untruths, why should we expect everyday  Dicks and Janes to do so?

Well, I am now making a plea to bring back civility online, in a car or on the street.  To regain control of ourselves and act like the decent human beings most of us were brought up to be.  If we don’t take a stand, what kind of world do we leave future generations?

As citizens of this planet with a myriad of issues that need to be resolved, we must demand civility of our leaders, of our co workers, of our neighbors and of ourselves.

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It’s Raining , It’s Pouring

Today was the perfect example that our weather is changing.  In fact the past week was the proverbial poster child for climate change, not only here in the Northeast but all over the USA.

When we were children the occasional rainy day was an inconvenience but never stopped us from playing outside.  We did porch games, jacks, cards, step games, as the summer rain refreshed the air and cleaned up the sidewalks, we stayed busy.

As older children we often played in the rain, enjoying the soft and sometimes not so soft drops falling from the skies, creating puddles and erasing the hopscotch games chalked on the cement outside our homes.  It was the relief from the heat of the day, greening up the yard, and nourishing the shrubs and the trees lining the streets.

Our parents did not believe that getting wet would make us ill, just damp.  So we played outside rain or shine.

My daughters did the same.  I bought the rain coats, and rubber boots and rain did not deter them from being outside, when the spring and summer rains came.  We may have had a thunderstorm or two, sometimes with hail, which kept us all inside, but they were usually predictable and short lived.  To this day one of my daughters loves the rainy weather, preferably cooler rainy weather.   It was a few days when they were young that I first noticed a change.  A sunny summer day, clear skies and I kept them inside until almost dusk.  I walked to our mailbox and noted the the sun “felt wrong”.  Unease filled my heart.  As I walked back down the driveway, I looked around as though I expected to see an alien craft.  The sun felt dangerous.  That day we had an indoor picnic, and indoor games, until the sun was setting and then we emerged.  Let me add that I am not a paranoid parent.  Never was.  I do have reliable sixth sense about things, and this was a wrong day.

Several years now,  parts of the country that could count on a normal amount of rain for their area have been dry to the point of water rationing.  Brown yards, and wildfires have been a  plague on their little part of heaven on earth.   Even places that are notoriously cloudy and damp much of the year are having a dry season.  Drought warnings, and fires scar the countryside.

Other areas of the country are seeing copious amounts of rain fall from the skies, more than the norm, causing flooding and crop damage.  High temps have accompanied these daily rains, which equate with higher use of power.

Today in my little corner of PA, we had extreme weather for June.  Day long thunderstorm warnings , cool temps and alerts going off on my phone and the television all day.    Even a tornado siting which would not be unusual in August, but in June is certainly out of the norm.  First the screeching sound of the National Weather service alerts…and the ominous voice, listing all the areas in the danger zone and the time to expect the potential high winds and extreme rain.

For hours these alerts disrupted the afternoon and evening, torrential rains caused run offs, mudslides and numerous flooded roads.  The emergency sirens called in the volunteers to the stations as cars slid off the roads, into ditches or hitting trees.  Even I hesitated to go on one last errand, and opted to wait until morning.  I learned to drive in the rain, hard rain, black wet nights, and rain has never deterred me from getting where I had to go.  Except for tonight.

People often scoff about climate change, after all we sometimes have odd weather. Extreme cold snaps, drought conditions, flooding rains. have always been a part of the past, and I will agree that this is true.  The scenario has changed subtly perhaps but change it has.  The storms have become more violent.  The dry spells more severe, and the polar cold more prolonged.   The ice caps are shrinking and entire species are at risk.

I have noted stories about unusual behavior of wildlife, both on land and in the seas.  They say that animals note issues first, long before we humans do.  I believe this to be true.  Their habitat is being threatened through clear cutting, and pollution and extreme weather  conditions.

People tell of encroaching wildlife here in PA.  Still we build, cover the ground with concrete, bring in invasive species, and then are amazed when the family of raccoons make a home under your deck or the bear helps itself to the trash can.

Shark attacks in shallow waters have appeared in the news almost daily.  We ruin the waters with trash and oil spills but seem surprised when the unusual occurs.  Deformed sea creatures, shell fish and oysters unfit to eat.  Water too warm for native species to survive.  Strange wounds and infections defy explanation.

Animals behaving out of the ordinary should be a warning, but so many disregard it and deny the changes around them.  “Conspiracy, or lies,”  they vehemently insist that there is no change, just the normal  occurring.   They believe the propaganda of the mega companies responsible for some of these issues that we are facing.  They look no further than next week, next month, next year.  No regard for what the generations to come will face, the destruction we have wrought and ignored, left for them to find solutions to survive.

Today it rained so hard you couldn’t  see a foot ahead, and it happened more than once.  It’s raining, it’s pouring, and the old man is snoring.  How well will you sleep tonight?

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Holidays, Birthdays and the Fourth of July

June is skidding to an end and it has been a crazy month.  Not sad to see it end.  Not this year, and not for the past few years.  Summer isn’t really my happy season.  Some would think this is crazy.  They enjoy the pools, the vacation time, the barbecues, picnics and block parties.  The kids are off school and schedules are amended.  Summertime and the living is easy, or so the song would want us to believe.

When my children were younger I learned quickly that keeping them busy was key to my sanity.  Days upon days of doing nothing, doesn’t have the joy some would believe it would.   So we did summer swim teams.  Yes, teams.  We had practices in the mornings, and meets in the early evening.  Who knew there were so many pools or so many teams.  Of course, parents play a key role in summer teams.  We organize concessions, officiate, help the coaches, and set up a championship.  The other team required traveling.  Some years we could hit three states.   A small breather and then came the school year.   It required great fortitude, but reaped it’s benefits.  I rarely heard about being bored or that there was nothing to do.  I had plenty to do.  But hey it’s summer, and the living is easy.  I still have stores to give my money to, keeping the cars running, laundry and the pesky dinner thing.  Wait, oh and our business.  No different than any other month just hotter, and buggier.  I worked more late nights, when all was quiet, and was grateful I was basically a night owl anyway.

Fast forward a few years.  The daughters were eager to find a summer job, and so they did. Lifeguards, and retail, and lifeguards.  They could help with our newest branch of our business, the ( drum roll please) summer food concession.  It was going to make soooo much extra money we could sail through the winter months.  It was going to be fun, after all who doesn’t like fairs and festivals.  Of course what may seem like a fun endeavor is a whole lotta work.  Of course the girls were not interested, almost embarrassed and opted to continue their summer endeavors.

So I got to order supplies, retrieve supplies, find events, find a helper or two, deal with everything from insurance to fees, to inspections.  Yessiree Bob, I was having a bunch of fun.  Of course summer concessions are dependent on several things to be a success.  Weather, attendees, weather and pricing.  Did I mention weather?

I foolishly wished out loud how I missed the beach day trips we used to make.  Silly me, spent the fourth of July at the beach one year, working a Freedom Fest.  Another fourth was spent at a street fair, another at a military base ( not the best time ..seems not many service folks want to stay on base unless they have to work.. and if they are working, yep, they are not coming to a fair) and every place in between.  I don’t wish  out loud any more.

In between all this fun, we have decided to have a garden.  Mostly tomato plants and recently flowers and shrubs.  Sure they are pretty, but who knew how much work was involved to reap something that I am pretty sure I could get cheaper at a farmers market or roadside stand.   There are sprays to keep animals at bay, sprays to keep plant eating bugs away, sprays to keep disease from ruining all the hard work, all for the love of a tomato from a garden.  Some years we have a bumper crop, and are generous with our neighbors, so much so we just leave bags of our work on their porches, ring the door bell and run.  Other years, we have diseases and odd weather, and the late frost to deal with, as we research the reasons the garden failed to yield.

Let us not forget that this is also the time for the annual Father’s Day barbecue and gifts followed a week later by the father’s birthday.  This may seem like a no brainer, buy an appropriate gift, have a cake, grill steaks or burgers, and sit out under our canopy in a cloud of citronella smoke keeping the bugs away.  But, and this is a big but, this father always manages to buy himself the exact thing on our gift list two weeks before the grand days.   So now gift cards have become the norm,  a cake with the many candles, and maybe everyone will have some time to stop by.   This year, we had takeout Italian.  And so it goes.

I am eyeing the end of month with bated breath.  Three vehicles need their registrations and inspections done in the next two days, and a trip is scheduled five hours away for a daughter’s orientation to Nursing school and hopefully find an apartment where she will spend the next four years.  Furnished partly I am hoping.  I also have two projects that need completed and delivered and after the monsoon rains, the yard will need cut.  At least I won’t have to water anything.

Summertime, and the living is easy.

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Catching up

I have the house to myself today.  To be perfectly honest, there are three dogs and two cats sharing the space with me today.  No other humans right now.  I have lists of things I should be doing that I could be doing without interruption.  The lists are stacked neatly on my desk.  I have books to finish reading and books I haven’t begun.   There are videos on the DVR that could be watched and erased.

So very much to catch up on but not one iota of motivation to begin any of the lists.  The satisfaction of crossing a chore off at least one list should be the boost I need today.  Instead I walk to the windows, looking at the clouds floating across the sky.  I really have no excuse to offer.  My get up and go seems to have got up and left today.

My morning paper sits unread, too much bad news for me to consume with my coffee today.   I have mail that needs answered and a trip to the post office that maybe will be done later.  Maybe.

I have student loans to research and apply for,  and schedules to make.

Every so often I have these days, when I plan on catching up.  Instead I wonder how I got so busy, when I wish I was somewhere else.   People watching in my small town, walking along the river, taking a drive to an area I am not familiar with, sans a GPS, just getting lost for a bit and finding my way home.

Everyone else seem so busy, that I should feel guilty.  I don’t.  The minutes, and then hours click by and the lists grow.  I ponder which list will get my attention first.

I could be doing a hobby, for I have a few.  Yarn stock to challenge some small craft stores, and photos that could be framed.   Gardening, or maybe I will try something new.   Tomorrow.

I feel like I need a reboot, a recharge, a different perspective on life in general.  I am not getting any younger.  I wonder how much it would cost to hire a housekeeper, how much more work I would have to do to fit that in my budget.

Maybe I should just call today a wash, do random things, and start fresh tomorrow.  Now that seems like a plan.

Catching up can start tomorrow.  Let me put that on a list.

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The State of the Union

Usually I try to keep my blogs light, and mainstream.  Today is not one of those days.  So much is wrong with this country right now.  Just plain wrong.  Citizens have become complacent, perhaps due to the wrong opinion that their one concern or vote won’t make a difference.  The ugly is strong right now and seems overwhelming at times.  It is remarkable that any of us sleep at night.  So we take our sleep aids, and wake up and everything is the same if not worse than the day before.  We drink our coffee, get ready for the day and read the paper or listen to the news on the tube or in the car on our commute.  If you work at home, the bad and ugly creeps across the computer screen.  Head to the store and the headlines from news and magazines assault our sensibilities while we wait to check out.

We walk to our cars, heads down, no interaction.  Someone may give us bad news.  Road rage, hate crimes, animal abuse, rapes and murders fill the news wires.  We get all the news almost as it happens now.  No waiting for the evening news or tomorrows newspaper. Racism, riots, the homeless right here in our country, right in our neighborhoods, in our cities.  Total chaos across the globe adds to our dismay.

Still so many do nothing.  After all what can one person do?  It won’t matter.  So why bother, we have our own issues to deal with.  Incomes don’t match the bills, college graduates saddled with overwhelming debt can’t find jobs, and move back into the family home to regroup.  Wages are stagnant in so many states and jobs at a premium.

This grand country with so much to offer has lost its luster all over the globe.  It becomes embarrassing.  Still we do nothing.  What can one person do?  How can we make a difference.  Big corporations run by the mega rich are destroying our lifestyle, our land and  nature, all in one fell swoop.  Climate change is rearing it’s ugly head and our country and others are paying for it with the advent of super storms, droughts and floods, arctic temps where there were few, and melting where there should be ice and cold.  We tsk, tsk, and go about our business, putting over priced fuel in our cars, figure out how to pay our ever rising utility bills, and just do nothing.  We think well maybe tomorrow, things will be different but we know in that little voice in our heads that after decades of doing nothing, it’s not going to change.  Unless…. unless

Unless we start making some noise.  Not just a little noise, but a lot of noise.  We start in our neighborhoods, get to know and respect our neighbors.  We participate in the change by being involved.  One voice, one at a time.  We vote in our local elections and put people in office who are competent and working for us.   We do this on our county level, our state level, and on the national level. One at a time to start a groundswell, to rebuild what our country used to be not all that long ago.  We make some noise, because we have to do so to get change to occur.  Its all right to be angry and be noisy without being violent.

Our bridges and roads are crumbling, our infrastructure failing and those who should be finding ways to rebuild, people who somehow were elected, are NOT DOING THEIR JOBS.  Could you keep your job if you were producing what they are?  Of course not.  would you keep an employee who was not an asset or promoting and producing?  Of course not.  They are wasting our tax dollars, because so many feel that one vote doesn’t matter.  That one conversation doesn’t matter.  They perpetrate racism openly on an inter -national  stage. while the rest of the world shakes their collective heads.  There is no unity, no forward movement.  We are fighting the  same issues we have fought for years, because of our fear, our reason is because one voice, one vote does not matter.

It has come to the point that like it or not, courage of conviction must come to the foreground.  We must make some noise, we must vote, become involved or we will have nothing left to leave our grandchildren, great grandchildren and their children.   We must raise our voices and demand change.  It can be done without violence.  There is power in numbers.  Our ancestors worked too hard for us to not respect their tenacity  and they work ethics, to do nothing, to say nothing.

The time is now to fight to get our country back.  To let those in power know that we are not going to take it anymore and if they cannot help us, they must step down and let someone in who will.   Many voices make a lot of noise.  Lets get noisy !!

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The Class Reunion

June is rushing along as usual.  I am having trouble keeping up it seems.  The month is half over, and still so much to do.

June brings getting the yard in shape.  That means planting, keeping the vegetable garden going, treating the pets for the flea and tick season and the annual class reunion.

I have attended exactly one of my own reunions.  Most of the friends I had in high school I keep in touch with.  So once,  many years ago was enough to satisfy any urgings I may have had to go.  We moved around a lot  in my adolescent years, so many of my early childhood friends I no longer can find, not sure if they would even remember me.   My high school friends I had for three years before we graduated , and left to start our new adult lives.

My other however grew up in the same small town and graduated with the same people he started school with.  We lived in that same small town for several years until we sought greener pastures.  I never looked back.  The husband did and often.   Not sure how many were his good friends, he never really sees the ones I met all those years ago.

He has been going back to his small home town every summer for years now for the class reunion.  Every year there are a few less, due to their early demise, and others who dare to plan their vacations at the same time the whole town celebrates high school.  The town even has a small street festival.   The bars host the different classes,  but it is my understanding that the participants float around.  Planning starts a month before here.  By the way, I never go too.  Years back when we lived in that small town along the Ohio river, I went once.  That was enough.   If I didn’t attend my own why would I go to his.  Now other responsibilities  have my attention.  The daughters are grown,  but the pets and work remain.  I remain here.  I have only been asked  to attend once, and I declined, and I believe he was relieved.   After all he must play the role of the one who left and did well.  I might spoil that image.  We aren’t doing as well as he would have people believe.  I am honest about that, him, not so much.

This summer we are playing catch up from a long cold winter, little work, little attempt at work, and focusing on the wrong things.  No whining, just it is what it is.   But nothing will deter him from his weekend to play with his high school friends.  I actually chuckle about it, that he is so drawn to what he couldn’t wait to leave.

People change, every decade or so, so if you are young and waiting excitedly on your reunion, you will notice several things.   One is that the cliques who would not give you a halfway glance, become your friends.  It is an interesting phenomenon.  That they knew your name was rather amazing.  If you are like my group of friends you will be amused, and gossip about it later.  My school was much larger than most for the time,  yet attendance seemed low.   Maybe we spread around the globe more, making it difficult to come back.  Maybe we didn’t care to come back.  At least some of us.  At least me.

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