I did not become patriotic until I was a young adult watching the Olympics.  My childhood was spent taking a knee during any patriotic displays because the United States of America and my ancestors have never been sympatico.  The European settlers of this land robbed, killed, and made deathly ill my native ancestors while being viewed as savages.  The slave traders captured and enslaved my African ancestors.  While writing the Declaration of Independence and later crafting the almighty Constitution, the founding fathers were not including slaves and indigenous people.  Later through amendments due to societal pressures, the founding fathers’ vision was forced to include a marginalized population that had yet been recognized as…people.

For the past year and a half, the election cycle unearthed an ugly, festering cold sore sitting on the  botoxed lips of an aging supermodel named the United States of America.  To many, they can ignore the cold sore and call it a beauty mark.  For others, the cold sore is all they see and they are lead to believe that America is nothing but that cold sore.  It’s distressing to watch the cold sore grow unchecked.  The bloody pus dripping from the putrid sore is festering and becoming more than a temporary illness that can be cured with a prescription from the friendly, neighborhood pharmacist.  The sore is less blemish and more unchecked herpes.

As I write this, I listen to my children talk about fireworks.  I hear people near and far set off noisy bombs in the name of celebration.  I smell the smoke from my husband’s grill.  As I write this, I think about the American flag I planted in my garden and the row of flags my neighbors have planted in their lawns. Everyone in my neighborhood would have been considered less than the men the founding fathers thought worthy of the rights established in the Bill of Rights.  But everyone in my neighborhood is gearing up for the party to celebrate the birth of this country we call home.  

So as you tip back that beer and nosh on that bbq while listening to John Philip Sousa and watching the display of gunpowder and fire, be aware that you too love your home.  If you’re part of the resistance, you’re resisting because you love your home.  If you’re marching, you love your home.  If you’re still having hopes that your guy will grow up at the age of 70 and stop tweeting like a disgruntled mean girl, you love your home.  If you’re waiting in the shadows hoping that this new land will embrace you, you love your home

May God bless America, my home sweet home.

 

 

Dumbledore looks inept

He didn’t have a clue

To distract death eaters, like the media

But he had nothing on you.

Merlin is old fashioned

He cared about tables round

Your ways of manipulation

Makes alternative facts sound

Gandalf with his staff

Bolsters warriors to protect a ring

But you, sir, want to badly go back

When climate change wasn’t a thing

Dr. Strange was a real doctor

Medicine and magic, such power

But you, a Snakeoil Salesman

Makes mole holes out of a tower.

Can this mundane world hold you?

Will this democracy survive?

Will my children have a future?

Will our species continue to thrive?

Your finger is on the trigger

No wand, no cape, no spell

You, Masterful Angry Dark Wizard

Are creating a Masterful Hell.

The Sound of Bliss

Chit chatter 

Fills the void

With words worth hearing 

If you dare to listen. 

But busy minds

With cluttered thoughts

Insulate

Isolate

Negate the spoken word.

A venomous bite and arrogant slap

Cements destiny 

And births the sound of bliss

Silence.

I promised my family I would bake one item from my Just Desserts Pinterest board after my 40 days of Lent every week for the remainder of the year.  This promise was made because my youngest son encouraged me to bake what I pin.  Well in 2 weeks I’ve made 3 tasty desserts.

Week 1- 7up Cake

7up

This oldie but goodie dessert has a long standing place at family reunions, potlucks, and bake sales.  Oddly enough, I have never made it before.  As I combined all the ingredients, I wondered about the missing rising agent.  Well, I figured out the cup of 7up soda WAS the rising agent in this delicious cake.  As I marveled at that fact, I vowed to my husband I will take a professional baking class one day.  The science behind baking is fascinating.  My family polished off the cake in  four days.

My oldest son and I combed through my Pinterest board looking for my next great bake.  As we salivated over the beautiful pictures, I noticed I had an affinity for lemon and coconut desserts.  I’m the only one in the family who loves coconut, so I may be passing on those pins.

Week 2- Kettle Korn

kettle

This choice was a bit of a cheat. I had made this particular recipe before, so making it again was not a big deal.  This time I experimented with using coconut oil instead of canola oil.  I have to admit that coconut oil adds a nice flavor to the popcorn.  The boys loved it.  My husband did not get to try it. So…

Week 2 (part 2) – Lemon Bars

lemon

My love for lemon manifested into a delicious recipe I had never tried.  Lemon bars are one of my go to desserts when I want to make something fruity and I’ve tried many different recipes.  This was the first recipe that I’ve tried that had 6 large eggs in the ingredients.  The family loved them.

As I scan my pins, I’m leaning toward making cookies.  Hopefully if the weather cools down by Saturday, I’ll be whipping up a new cookie recipe.  I’ll keep you abreast of my adventure.

 

Perceptions 

You and I could spend a lifetime

Seeing the same thing

But draw different conclusions

Because our eyes see

What we want them to see

Through lens colored 

By our world. 

I see a straight line

You see a curve

I see beauty. 

You see ugliness. 

I see chaos 

You see order

My desire for peace

Keeps me moored. 

Your wiring for manic

Keeps you busy. 

Doggone It, Doc!

I took our sweet puppy to the vet to get his booster shots. Mind you, I Yelp the heck out of any place I dare to do business with. Yes, I know Yelp has its issues with fake reviews on either end of the spectrum, but I like to believe not every review is a bought plug or vindictive dagger.  Anyway, my first choice was not picking up, so I went to the second on the list.  The second choice had two Yelp listings. One listing was full of glowing remarks. The second was the complaint line. I rolled the dice. 

Well, the last vet office I visited was pristine and welcoming. Unfortunately, my visit was a one and done because I had to put down my tortoise. This very office was dingy and old.  Dog pee greeted us at the door next to an orange cone asking us to be careful. Giving the place the benefit of the doubt, I proceeded to get Cosmo his boosters. Oddly enough the simple $68 visit escalated to double the cost because they began upselling services. If you love your pet, you want what’s best for your pet, so you go along. At the end of the visit, I was told my pet had a parasite that needed an aggressive treatment that would cost 11 weeks of visits and $1600. WTF?

I tapped out. We needed a second opinion. I may not be a veterinarian, but I can smell bull crap a mile away. So I went to my first choice. Guess what I was told? My dog has the parasite, but every dog has it. The parasite would be a problem if my dog was old. So in order to rid our puppy of the parasite and fight fleas (luckily we don’t have that problem), he gave us a $50 medication. 

Doggone it!

Today in San Bernardino, California an elementary school teacher was shot dead by her estranged husband who later killed himself.  Even sadder, the murderer shot two of her students who happened to be standing by the teacher.  One of the eight year olds later died from his injuries.  Many people are asking how could this have happened.  The answer is scary and I don’t think many people realize how teachers risk their lives every single day.

During my 17 years of teaching elementary school in the inner city, I have faced irate parents who have threatened me with bodily harm, been confronted by unstable staff members, been told to look for suspicious packages (bombs), walked students while pregnant with my first child to and fro during a school lockdown because of a nearby shooting, left work alone after dark through questionable surroundings, watched my students drop to the floor while gunshots rang out nearby, and watched unknown people stroll onto the campus with no school business.  Schools are looked upon as safe zones because the the teachers and staff are determined to help students feel safe.  Unfortunately, there is not enough training to prevent the unexpected from occurring.

With the Betsy DeVos poised to dismantle  public schools, I reflect on how the public tend to disregard the hard job teachers are expected to perform in less than satisfactory conditions. Not all teachers are saints or inspirational in a Dead Poets Society way, but the majority of teachers are hard working, selfless individuals who find themselves charged to do the incredible in impossible circumstances. Miracles are expected with little to inadequate resources. Overcrowded classrooms of children who need their basic needs met before learning geometry are the norm in the inner cities.  Clueless politicians, stressed administrators, and a shaming media pressure teachers to teach, nuture, and protect children with stellar results. Some teachers succeed and some fail. Some live to fight another day, and some never return home (Sandy Hook).

Can’t Talk

Have you ever felt 

Like you can’t talk

To anyone. 

Everyone gives you

Half an ear. 

You know their not

Listening

Because it’s written

Over their face 

And it colors their response

With muted tones. 

Makes you feel invisible. 

Doggie Woes


Today I woke up to a destroyed vegetable garden. I had taken time to fence in my kale, but my dog managed to bypass the fortress to have his way with my meager crops. Luckily I had just harvested a small bounty he had not yet destroyed and pruned my plants to the perfect height. 

After having a restless night of sleep, a stressful trip to the pediatrician, and a breakfast of a banana and coffee,  I was in a mood for that elusive rush of endorphins people are supposed to get from bonding with their dog. So wearing my nice clothes and cute ballerina flats, I go outside to bond with my dog. He blesses my feet with happy puppy pee and streaks my clothes with freshly dug soil. Oblivious to the carnage a mere few feet away, I pat him on the head and give him scratchies behind his ears. He’s loving it and like the Grinch I feel my heart grow a little larger.  

I grab the shovel to hold my breath and lovingly pick up his poo. As I make my way to shovel up my pet’s putrid poo, I see a familiar stalk under the canopy my dear husband had put up for our pet’s comfort. With happy eyes, Cosmo, snatches up the stalk like a prize and gnaws on it with a happy thump of his tail. I feel sick as I backtrack to my garden…

The carnage…

The rich dark soil…

In a panic I look for my potted mint. My oldest saved his Mother’s Day gift to me from certain destruction.  Thank goodness! Happily, Cosmo trots up to the fortress ands thumps his tail with his ball in his mouth. Maybe one day I will look back on this and laugh. Maybe. 

Something to Believe In

20 years ago this week 39 members of a religious cult committed mass suicide in order to transcend to the alien spaceship following the tail of the Comet Hale-Bopp. I remember hearing about this tragedy and wondering what kind of madness could take over a large group of people and convince them that this was not insane. 

People need something to believe in. As humans we are blessed/cursed with the need to know why. The questions of why and how are the engines that keep humanity moving forward. If humans don’t indulge their natural curiosity, they die. Some people believe retirees die shortly after they retire because they believe they don’t have purpose once they stop working.  People need a reason to believe. 

Atheists may not believe in a God, but they have beliefs that keep their engines moving forward.  For a person deeply rooted in their religion and sacred rites, they may not understand the more secular beliefs rooted in science and reason. The extremes of religious beliefs may not agree with each other, but they have a lot in common in regards of having something to believe.  

In my opinion, I believe people steep themselves deeply into their belief system because of a personal trauma or tragedy. Christians call it a come-to-Jesus moment. I think once someone had hit rock bottom they need to find something to believe in so they don’t drift further away from life.  Maybe that is why many recovery programs have a religious component. As a good shepherd, churches and religious leaders are poised to welcome all lost sheep into the fold. The welcoming sheep are there to say how Jesus (church) was there to save them. For this salvation, the saved members press their roots deeper into the soil of this manmade concept and curse anyone who does not believe like they believe. 

Unfortunately, there are many predatory religious factions who lead the sheep to slaughter. It may not be as final as the Heavens Gate tragedy, but in many cases the collective brainwashing of a group of people looking for something to believe in could be just a different shade of the same color. 

Keep your engine running with questions of why and how, but keep your eyes and ears open. Not everyone is a shepherd, but most are sheep. It’s normal to be a part of a flock, but it’s not normal to turn off your brain and let the shepherd lead you away from your natural instinct to learn, move forward, and survive. Be wise and always question the narrative whether your belief system is religion, science, and/or politics. If you stop asking questions, you may find yourself wearing the metaphorical uniform of madness that seduces you to drink the poisonous Kool-aid.