Glad I Saw It: Unexpected Little Free Library

IMG_3463How cool is this? It’s a Little Free Library — with seating! I happened upon this recently on Myrtle Avenue in Montclair, and it got me to pull over and check it out.

I strongly suspect this is the work of Elizabeth Jacobs, who also created the memorial to heroism, Tony’s Bench, located next to Montclair High School.

PSA: The door doesn’t pull open. It slides. It took me a few attempts to figure that out.

Posted in Glad I Saw It | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gun Culture is No Joke: Of Puppies, Priests, and Football

On the ontennessee-mckaylae hand, we have a priest pointing a long gun at an 8-year old over a Cowboys/Giants rivalry. The parishioners say it’s “in jest” and no big deal. Haha. So funny!

On the other hand, we have an 11-year old pointing a shotgun at another 8-year old and shooting her to death over not being able to see puppies. She is dead. Not so funny anymore.

One witness to the priest’s lack of discretion said that the priest pointing a gun at a child “pales in comparison to how bad it looks for a prosecutor to hastily arrest a well-regarded priest for serious felonies.” That’s gun culture, for you. I wonder if it’s just a big joke if someone points a probably-fake-but-might-be-real gun at you in a parking lot. Haha. So funny.

Where are all the gun advocates who crow about the rules of gun safety and any responsible gun owner always follows them. You know — something like ALWAYS treat a firearm like it’s loaded. NEVER point a gun at someone you’re not willing to shoot. And a few more pesky safety rules. Forgotten already? Set the bar higher for heaven’s sake.

Brushing aside smaller gun incidents in which no one is physically harmed makes room for tragedies to occur. Shaming those who take pointing a gun (loaded or not, Civil War era — albeit working! — or not, in jest or not) at a child — or anyone — seriously is peer pressured bullying. It creates an atmosphere in which people look away, stay silent, make excuses, and close their eyes while mumbling, “I’m sure it’s nothing.”

So let’s file this under “I wonder where they get this from?” for now. And stand up for erring on the side of reason and safety. Do it for the 8-year olds.

** Edited to add another ridiculous case involving a whale — the connection, other than the obvious of a firearm, is that this fisherman points out that his firearm was a WWII-Era gun. As if that makes it okay. But the bullet still found its mark and the living being it hit is now dead. So, whatever.

Posted in Activism, random observation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Little Bit Helps: #PurplePurse Fundraising for Domestic Violence Outreach

“I don’ t need that — I don’t hit my wife.”

PurplePurse2015HeaderNot long ago, I tabled for Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates at a farmer’s market. It was pretty quiet, with some people walking by uncomfortably, and a few cracking jokes, like the one above. I also had one or two people strike up conversations that began as seemingly sincere questions and turned into jokes about wives taking away credit cards or playful spankings. And I get it. Domestic Violence is not an easy topic to discuss.

On the other hand, I was also able to talk with and share resources with a woman who shared her abuse from almost two decades ago. She’d never sought help or support, and she was clearly still traumatized. I also spoke with a man who listened and then teared up as he shook my hand and said, “Thank you so much just for being here.”

Those people make the jokers easy to humor. And sometimes the jokers are covering up pain as well.

Because domestic violence is a sticky topic, it doesn’t have the same public exposure other issues receive — yes it affects someone you know. Probably more than just one someone.

During the month of October, the Allstate Foundation is sponsoring the #PurplePurse Challenge, and S.O.F.I.A. is honored to be taking part for the second year in a row. Please consider chipping in!

The first 50 donors will receive a genuine Purple Purse Charm — and we have a generous matching challenge grant for up to $5000! Truly, every little bit helps.

Can’t donate? Please share our donation link and spread the word! Thank you!

Posted in Activism, education | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glad I Saw It: I See You

It’s a few weeks into the school year, and for many students it feels like class and friends and expectations are getting settled. For other kids and their families there are stubborn wrinkles in academic and social circles that cause stress and occasional weeping over homework or Facebook posts. For some families, however, the modus operandi is flipped. Constant vigilance and anxiety over children’s needs being met is how the new school year starts — and continues. And for those families, I want to share what a friend posted on Facebook recently. You are not alone.



Posted in Excellent Local People, Parenthood | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

No Peace of Mind at the Trader Joe’s

Who can measure the despair and sorrow of an innocent caught in the tangle of a heartless throw-away text?

I can be quite literal at times. Perhaps it comes from being all too sincere and dewy-eyed in a cynical world of one-upmanship and sardonic sneers. Perhaps it comes from hoping to see the best in people. Always. Perhaps it comes from the exhaustion of attempting to explain the difference (and not-so-difference) between simile and metaphor to hundreds of students over the years. But yeah, it’s probably just laziness.

Anyhow. It happened in Trader Joe’s. I texted an innocent question, offering to “pick something up” for a friend. She (let’s call her Amy) accepted, and even gave a specific request and location of a needed item.


Now, I don’t make it to Trader Joe’s often. It’s kind of far for my narrow definition of close-enough, and I usually end up overshooting completely or turning into the Tick Tock Diner by accident. So you can imagine that my familiarity with its products and layout is limited. I don’t point this out as an excuse for my naiveté; it’s just a fact.

I did my own TJ’s shopping (mostly frozen tamales and mini-desserts), and then I went looking for Peace of Mind. Nothing. I asked a young man in a flowery vest about Trader Buddha’s Peace of Mind Bars. He directed me to try Whole Foods. “A lot of people get us mixed up with them. No offense.” I insisted, and showed him the text with the clarification, “I don’t think Whole Foods would call their product Trader Buddha.” I’m so logical. Nope. Nothing. He knew they didn’t carry it. In fact, he informed me, with a smirk, that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have numbered aisles.

As I checked out my frozen treats, I tried one more time with the cashier. Nope. Nothing.

Dejected, I had to admit defeat. And that’s when my trusting innocence was flattened.

FullSizeRender copy

FullSizeRender copy 2

But at least I got to work in a nice metaphor reference.

Posted in Excellent Local People, People do silly things | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glad I Saw It: Men of the Mounted

IMG_3218Seen in the window of Chameleon Antiques. My poorly stifled giggles are further proof that I have the mind of a 14-year old boy.

Posted in Glad I Saw It, random observation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Good Things Come in Heavier Than Expected Packages

FullSizeRender copySo, I when I heard from SheKnows Media that I had an actual award coming for the BlogHer15 Voices of the Year, I expected a certificate. Which would have been cool. I would have filed it in my slim, but not empty, “Awards” folder, smiled, felt grateful, and then closed the drawer.

Instead, I received a package the other day. And it was kind of heavy. Inside was a fancy velvet box (super soft!) with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow. I half-wondered if it had been sent to the wrong address, but I opened the box and yup, there was my name (spelled correctly, no less!) on a sleek, round definitely-award-looking glass item. I picked it up, turned it around, weighed it in my hand, and said, “Huh.” The kids were more impressed with the fancy box than the award.

The only other tangible, non-paper award I’ve received was a generic “drama award” my high school gave out to the people who hadn’t received any other awards during their years before graduation. I still have it at my parents’ house. The little gold man has a birthday ribbon around his neck. It has my name (spelled incorrectly), but no reason for the award. Just “Theater Award” etched on. It was for those of us who did all the grunt work (oh the inseams I measured!) and didn’t get to take bows at the end of the show. It was an after-thought. And I knew it. In fact, I’d skipped the Senior Awards Night to work extra hours at Friendly’s, so I shouldn’t complain.

So this SheKnows/BlogHer/VOTY award is kind of my first real award. Which is pretty fun at 45 years old. The problem is, it’s for a post that’s more than 18 months old. And I haven’t been writing much. And I don’t feel like writing much. I’m distracted and unfocused and kind of done with sharing. So the award feels hollow and fake an undeserved. We’re supposed to always grow and get better, stronger, more perfect, right?

So for now, this first tangible award of mine sits on the mantle (that’s where awards go, yes?) next to a paper mache turtle and a peacock-monster-dragon thing. It looks good there. And maybe seeing it up there with my kids’ creations will inspire new creations of my own.

Posted in People do silly things, random observation | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is Love?


I can’t wait to see how she turns out.

Posted in Excellent Local People, Parenthood, People are Good | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Glad I Saw It: Leach Building


Even windowless storage buildings abutting the street have a beauty when seen in a certain light.

Posted in Glad I Saw It | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Family Photographs from Leslie Granda-Hill at Umbrella Arts

Leslie Granda-Hill is a socially conscious photographer with a long history of helping to bridge gaps in our understanding of the world around us. She has trained her lens on wounded veterans, orphanages, sick children from far away, and many more.


Her exhibition at Umbrella Arts Gallery focuses on a family in Oaxaca, Mexico that Leslie has been photographing for five years. The collection includes beautiful, intimate images that honor the unique relationship this family has — that all families have — with each other. If you are in the New York City area, make sure to visit Umbrella Arts through October 3rd, 2015 to see this wonderful exhibition.

Posted in Excellent Local People | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment