Glad I Saw It: Sprinkler-Sized Yard

sprinkler Our backyard is roughly twice the size of what it would have been in Brooklyn. Which means it’s about three times the size of a four-door sedan.  And while it would be nice to have grounds resembling Pemberley, we can barely keep up with the weeds as it is. Besides, it’s just the right size for a sprinkler break on a hot day.

Plus, the entire yard gets watered as the kids play.

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Domestic Violence and Guns Don’t Mix: #Savethe9

Domestic-Violence-9Women-1_Meme-noURLLast October, Moms Demand Action focused on the nine American women shot and killed by their husbands and intimate partners every single week. Every single week. That number doesn’t include threats, injuries, intimidation — horrific enough on its own — made even more terrifying and immediate when a firearm is involved.

The victims are mothers, sisters, daughters, friends—each an irreplaceable loss to their families and our society. This past week, combined with the school shooting in Seattle and the story of a five-year-old Jersey City boy shot in the abdomen, came this story from Connecticut.

The bodies of a husband and wife were found in a Bristol home Wednesday morning, and it was three small children who made the discovery. (WFSB)

A fund has been set up for Kyla Ryng’s three children, all under four years old. Kyla was shot in the head and killed by her husband, who then shot and killed himself. This all happened in their Bristol, CT home while the children were playing in the next room. Kyla had filed for divorce just a week before her death, and it is reported that the marriage included abuse and intimidation. Her husband was a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard, and he owned a gun.

If you are moved to help the three children who are currently staying with family members, there is a GoFundMe site set up here that makes it easy: Kyla’s Kids.

If you want to avoid the fees at GoFundMe, you can also donate directly. Checks may be sent directly to Remembering Kyla, Farmington Savings Bank, 475 Broad St. Bristol, CT 06010.

If you want to help in your own community (yes, yours!), organizations like SOFIA in Essex County, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, and more are always looking for resources and support. A quick google search with your state and/or county will lead the way.

 

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Maya Would Have Forgiven Me

NeverDefeatedI didn’t know any better. Before I ever read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I taught a chapter called “Momma, The Dentist, and Me.” I was teaching kids who were about as far from avid readers as is possible. Some had diagnosed learning disabilities, others had missed so many classes in elementary school that when they were shuffled along into the next grade (out of pity? apathy? kindness?) the new educators had to re-realize they couldn’t read. Others were lazy. And a few made sure to exhibit obnoxious behavior bordering on abusive so they would be removed from the oppressive classroom environment often enough to allow deep breaths of freedom. But they all loved being read to, so that’s what I did. Continue reading

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Ten Round Magazine Limit: Nothing New; Still Effective

imagesLast week, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill lowering its current 15 round magazine limit to 10 rounds. New Jersey is one of only eight states that has ANY limit to how many rounds a magazine can hold. Part of the reason is that the expired National Assault Weapons Ban included a magazine limit of ten rounds, so states didn’t feel pressure to enact their own.

Now that the New Jersey legislation has passed both the NJ Assembly and the NJ Senate, the bill moves on to Governor Christie’s desk and he will decide whether to sign it into law, veto it outright, or conditionally veto with suggested changes. Continue reading

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Glad I Saw It: Salt & Pepper Feet

I haven’t been one to collect items of any sort lately. Not for a couple decades anyway. But I do appreciate other people’s collections. Local businesses do love to decorate with style. And this collection of salt & pepper shakers was especially fun to peruse. Love the feet!

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Can you name the local business that houses this pedicured pair?

You know what goes great with S&P? A little moonshine over at yeah write! Join us. Now.

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I don’t always act like a Fan Girl, but when I do, it’s for #OITNB

non celeb paparazzi

Not-yet-celebs I abused into taking a photo with me to erase the less-than-perfect interaction I had with a bona fide celeb moments before.

I had to play catch up with the first season of Orange is the New Black because I hadn’t read the book, and I like to read the book before watching its . But then, in the midst of a very aggravating week or three, I was pointed to this video by a trusted internet friend (Thanks Ms. Mary Mack!). And of the almost 150k views, I think my children and I account for about a million. It got us all through a LONG winter.

So I skipped the book and went straight to the show for a binge-watch session. Continue reading

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Mr. Rogers’ Mother Knitted

mrrogers_imageI’m not a big fan of designated days. I rarely acknowledge birthdays or anniversaries through social media — and I do my very best to discourage choruses of “Happy {special day}!” on my feeds. It’s partly because I’m an anti-social grump, and it’s partly because I find the whole ramalamadingdong of invented days a tad insincere. See? I’m a grump.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my kids making lots of pictures and special cards and cleaning their playroom and attempting to set the breakfast table. (We found out today that they’ve been taking the less dirty dishes out of the dishwasher when they’ve set it in the past.)

And one thing I’ve always found difficult is the gifts. I’m a big fan of consumables in the hopes of avoiding more pile up in closets and drawers. But this little segment from Mr. Rogers helped me to understand how items can help us to both remember and honor loved ones in deeply sentimental ways. One way that Mr. Rogers’ Mom showed love was through her knitting. And suddenly the iconic Mr. Rogers Sweater takes on new and wonderful meaning for those of us who grew up with his show.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who celebrate — with or without gifts! — and happy everything else day for all of us!

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For Mother’s Day: #BringBackOurGirls

Bring Back Our Girls

Thank you to Anna Sandler for offering to guest post about the mass abduction in Nigeria, which is a part of an organized campaign of terror by Boko Haram militants.

I like the commercialism of Mother’s Day about as much as I like seeing July 4th items on sale at my local Target last week. For me, the idea of buying some cheap token for Mother’s Day celebrates everything superficial about the holiday and very little about the real substance of the day, which to me, is taking a moment to think about mothers everywhere. Continue reading

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My Cervix Doesn’t Smoke

gynecologist stirrupsAfter seven years of university life and university health center nurse practitioners, my cervix and I had been spoiled. Those seven years of spreading my legs for plastic speculums and pap smears had been kind and gentle and chock full of information. A gentle voice would explain, “You’re going to feel some pressure and hear a click now.” And then I did. I heard descriptions of what the nurse practitioner saw, “Nice cervix! Healthy and pink!” And I was made to feel that questions and concerns were worthy of a medical professional’s time.

And then I moved to Brooklyn and got a job with a spare medical plan and a thin paycheck. At first I tried to find a female doctor, but they were few and far between on my insurance. I was too cheap to pay out-of-pocket, and Planned Parenthood had months-long waiting lists. So I shook off the scowl about a man not being a good enough lady doctor, and made an appointment.

My first clue should have been that I got an appointment the same week. Then, as soon as I walked through the basement entrance of the almost-Brooklyn Heights office, I wanted to leave. A woman ushered me into an examination room with a perplexed look. I undressed and put on the cloth robe folded limply on the cushioned table. “Alright, let’s get started,” and the door closed.

He was old. Shaky hand, papery skin, unkempt nose hair old. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t. No paperwork, no questions, no “I’m Dr So-and-So.”

“Lean back, honey.” And I did. “Alright, let’s see what’s going on down here.” I bit my lip. Stirrups, opened knees, a headlamp. And then I heard the metal on metal drag of a lighter followed by the crackle of a cigarette.

Oh, for FUCK’S sake.

I didn’t wait for more. Heels up, knees closed, I sat up to see a genuinely surprised look beneath the headlamp. What was with the head lamp? And suddenly he scurried out.

I got dressed, embarrassed by my stupidity. I left without looking the perplexed woman in the eye. Walking to the subway, I had to stop and sit on the cracked concrete of some imitation brownstone steps as I gasped for air. Anger, hot and white, forced its way out in tears. Why hadn’t I trusted my instincts? Why had I gotten undressed when I knew something was wrong? How could I have put myself in that position, quite literally, exposing myself?

I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. After a few months of slowly transferring anger from myself to the doctor I called the insurance company to report what to me was a huge invasion. The voice on the other end sounded bored.

I’d like to say that I never allowed respect, or maybe awe, of the medical profession to intimidate me again, but that’s just not true. I’ve allowed doctors to rush, brush aside, bully. But not silently. And never again while smoking a cigarette.

 

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Smart Guns Are Scary…to the gun lobby.

CDC-Map2000-2006DeathRates-FINAL-720

click to see bigger with source

More than half of all gun deaths in the United States are suicides. At almost 20k a year, those who take their own lives using firearms make up slightly more than half the total number of suicides as a whole. It’s a terrible number, but it’s a number that doesn’t have to be so high. Besides the obvious approach of limiting easy access to firearms (NJ’s relatively tough firearm restrictions are partly credited with its low suicide rate), long years have been spent developing technology that would bring responsibility directly to those who choose to own firearms. This technology that would ensure that only the firearm owner could operate his/her chosen firearm. Makes sense, right? Fears of a firearm being stolen, found by a child, used by a despondent family member, removed during an altercation would dissipate.

Yet, the gun lobby and anti-regulation extremists refuse to embrace this technology, thus revealing The Truth: They care not about firearm safety; they care only about their own control of guns. Oh, and the profits that flow from the firearm manufacturing and marketing industry.rfid-smart-gun-armatrix.si

Interestingly, the “smart gun” manufacturers, most notably Armatrix, tout the safety features:

The [smart gun] manufacturers argue that these new technologies could prevent suicides, accidental shootings and the deaths of police officers whose guns are wrested away in a struggle.

The technology is still new, of course, and relatively untested. But instead of lining up to try it out at demonstrations, anti-regulation gun extremists have targeted the Armatrix representative with harassment and threats, and the on-line wannabe tough guys swarmed a FFL firearm dealer who had planned to sell the guns.

“I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans,” one [calguns.net] commenter wrote.

The idea that threats to physical safety and intimidation are acceptable methods of influencing policy is no big deal to second amendment extremists. Their goal, as it always is, is to silence critics using the same tactics we see in schoolyard bullies.

Clearly, these extremists believe profiting from fear-mongering and toasting to the deaths of 30 thousand Americans a year is so much more palatable. The pernicious glee with which the gun industry has marketed its products smacks of the giggling F-U attitude seen in The Wolf of Wall Street.

In the same vein, it is a tiny minority of people who are creating the waves and drama (the modus operandi is consistent) that draws our attention and media time away from true tragedies that are happening every day.

Stay focused, people. It’s not hopeless.

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