That Topic

There are a few issues in the U.S. that need addressing.

We need to start respectful, serious discussions.

Mass shootings in America has totally gotten out of control. I think we can all agree on that. What we cannot agree on is how to fix it. Or prevent it.

There is always someone who will say loads of people die from drugs, alchohol or car accidents. Should we ban driving? Again with the Prohibition?

Someone actually did say this.

No. But as a nation if we can keep improving why wouldn’t we try?  In many ways we have shown so much progress.

Our children are strapped in secure car seats. Probably saved a few lives. While biking we have our kids wear helmets. I am sure that prevented a head injury or two. We still have cars but almost every American buckles up once they are behind the wheel. Think that kept a body or three protected. Cars are now outfitted with air bags. I can tell you that helped me when I was in a head on collision many years ago.

The age to use/buy alcohol was changed and while young folks can/will still find a way to drink it might just have decreased the rates of alcohol related accidents/deaths and early addiction for some.

So why, when it comes to our children being safe while learning their ABCs or attending a concert, would we not want to look at any/every possible way to keep them secure? Have safety measures in place?

I feel like it’s closing in on us.

Long time followers of this blog will remember that my niece and nephew lived in the next town over from Newtown when that horror took place. Neighboring schools went into lockdown mode. My nephew was under the desk and couldn’t understand why his teacher was yelling. My niece was sent into the cubbie with the teacher pretending it was a game.

That was right before Christmas. Next town over but it effected everyone in the area. My brother and his wife were sick about it. Could hardly talk about it. Who wouldn’t be sick about it? I just can’t imagine the pain of a parent losing their baby like that. The fear those children must have experienced.

Not too long ago there was a terrible shooting in Las Vegas. Wasn’t in a school but during an outdoor concert. A young girl, whose mother worked in the office at my daughter’s California school, was shot in the head that day. A guy who attended high school with my friend Karla was killed.

Something has to be done. A lot has to be done. And maybe both sides of this debate can make the decision to move a bit closer to ensuring the safety of our children.

They can be the future.

If they’re safe.

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I loved the parables of Jesus when I was a little kid. Whether it was the nuns sharing with us or curled up with the glossy covered kid’s books reading on our own time.

My husband also heard parables or stories when he was a child but they were not about Jesus. They were about the Prophet Mohammad.

Same appeal.

He loved the childhood stories just as much as I did.

There was one he told me that I enjoyed.

The moral of the story, in my husband’s telling, is very important.

Each day a Jewish neighbor deposited trash on Mohammad’s doorstep. And every day Mohammad would pick it up and bring it to the dump.

Every single day.

Then one day Mohammad found that there was no trash on his doorstep.

Wait. What?

No trash?

Should be a good thing.

But it was unusual for this neighbor not to leave trash on the doorstep.

Mohammad went to check on the neighbor and found that he was ill.

This is a very important story. Religion, in my opinion, doesn’t have anything to do with it. That was just my jumping point. This is about the human connection.

Everyone in the neighborhood where I grew up knew everyone else’s business.

Knew when people pulled up their shades in the morning. The school and work schedules. Meal times. When someone had company. Which Mass families attended. When vacations took place. And when the shades went down at night. Usually after the late news or a bit of  The Late Show.

People know these things without realizing. It was just the usual daily routine.

When one of those things didn’t happen, according to the norm, it was a cause for concern. Something just wasn’t right. People checked on each other.

We all live in different neighborhoods and types of communities. Everyone has neighbors. I always say that one doesn’t need to be best friends with their neighbors (that’s a bonus) but we should care about each other.

Each person has a role in building up a strong community. Knowing your neighbors and caring about them can be the very first step.

 

 

 

 

 

Right Direction

My dogs come to me.

That’s an expression I have used on occasion.  I picked it up from my friend, Mary Ann, years ago.

It’s meant to convey, with a sort of cocky bent, that one doesn’t go chasing after dogs. They should come to you.

When we use the phrase, though, we are not actually referring to dogs.

I think I have had this attitude toward making new friends in Delhi. Waiting for my dogs to come to me. Not really putting much effort into it. Not chasing anyone.

Sure, I sent a few emails to groups, organizations, etc.

When I didn’t receive any replies I just let it go. I’ll be in and out of Delhi so was sort of thinking exactly how much time/energy do I want to sink into this.

A friend, over dinner, said that maybe I just need to put myself out there a bit more.

Absolutely correct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my own company. I’m so easy going. LOL

But I realized I do want to put energy into bonding with people while I am living here. I was thinking it sure would be nice to explore Delhi with friends.

So, the dinner, where the sage advice was offered, was on a Friday evening. The following day my husband and I were pulling into our neighborhood after running some errands. I spy a woman on the street strolling along with her little girl.

An expat neighbor perhaps?

I wave from the car. She waved back with a quizzical look.

Glance at my husband as I’m heading out of the car, with a determined expression on my face. Think of “I’m going in…” or “Here goes nothing!”

I actually say, “I am going to talk to that woman.”

And talk I did.

She was sooo lovely.

I fell in love with her right away. You know that feeling. When you immediately hit it off with someone.

Yay!!!!

Lives a couple of houses down from us. Works at the Swiss Embassy. Loves living in Delhi. Husband works for the Foreign Service.

But.

She was moving to the USA in two weeks.

Oh, rats! That is some dumb luck. Can’t be investing too much time there.

Anyway, it was nice to chat with her. She took us over to her house. Met her other kids. Asked if we wanted a drink. Very sweet. We declined but visited for just a little bit and then we went home.

Oh, well, I tried.

When we got back to the house my husband couldn’t find my US sim card. Because I had taken off the phone’s protective cover (where my sims roam happily about) so I could charge the phone with his case in the car. He thought it was in his pocket.

Maybe it was dropped while we were at our neighbor’s house.

So, I am in total Nancy Drew mode with eyes glued on the street. Looking for a needle in a haystack. Because those suckers are small. I retrace our steps back to neighbor’s house. Ask one of the kids to bring me to her mother. She is having tea with a woman named Nathalie who was picking up her child. Makes introductions.

I say, “So very sorry to intrude.”

Don’t find the sim card. On my way out of her home husband calls and says he found it. Great. I bid them a fond adieu and head back home.

I never saw the lovely Swiss lady again.

I continued to walk in the park each day for an hour. Got to keep my girlish figure. Or rather to find it again somewhere under the empty nest, smoking cessation, 0 friend list, twenty pound weight gain.

On one of my walks I saw a lady walking towards me. Figured she was an expat. I smile and say hello.

Side note: I had told my friend, Nancy, that I was going to say hi to every single lady/expat in the park as a way of putting myself out there. Just a little human experiment to pass the time. She was like okay, good luck with that.

The woman returns my smile with a cheerful one of her own. And we continue to walk in opposite directions.

A few days later I am huffing and puffing through the park when I see a woman who looks familiar. I think I know her. Can’t place her. Think she was woman I saw during a previous walk in the park.

She is heading toward me and smiles at me. I return the smile and say, “We should be walking together!!!”

The woman stops, does a turnabout, grabs my arm and we are now walking together in the same direction.

As we are walking, she says, “I thought I knew you!”

How does she know me???

She tells me that she remembered me from the day I was looking for the sim card at the Swiss lady’s home.

This was Nathalie!

Anyway, small world. We walked for an hour together. I heard all about her world. And she heard about mine.

She asks if I heard about this organization called Delhi Network. I told her I don’t think I had and I am a pretty good researcher. If I did, maybe the website wasn’t working when I checked.

She used to attend before she started working and said that expats (mostly women) meet each week for a coffee morning at a hotel. Almost in my own backyard. They have lectures, excursions, educational tours, etc.

Nathalie said I should just show up but she would double check which day the coffee was held.

That evening she texted me with the details.

I attended the next coffee, signed up with the group and started making pals. Went on a city tour, wine tasting in the country, frequented bazaars, etc.

I never saw Nathalie again. She was a teacher at the German school. Maybe she even moved by now.

But I might never have met her if I didn’t put myself out there and forced myself to talk to the young mother strolling on the street.

It was just making the effort.

A step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my Auntie Maureen lost her husband, Uncle Stiophan, many years ago I remember she wrote, “Life will never be the same again.”

That is certainly true. When you lose a life long partner it will absolutely never be the same again.

But life does continue. Just differently.

I was doing some research the other day. Genealogy. Like I do.

Came across a gravestone in County Wicklow, Ireland that was etched with this.

“Nobody cared more than you.”

A simple sentence on a headstone.

He could have been a person who cared about the world, the universe and more.

Most likely, though, he was a beloved son, spouse and dad. Who cared about his immediate family.

Made me think a little deeper about what it actually means to lose a partner.

The fact is that no one cares about you like that spouse/partner. Your parents love you like no one ever will. But it’s a different love. And parents (in an ideal world) will leave before their children.

Your children will love you because you’re their parent. But many times they will find a partner to fill the space that was once wholly yours. Rightfully so.

But the spouse or partner. They are the thing. No one cares about each other or the children you’ve created together quite like the two of you. It is so unique.

That’s why a lot of times the whole “step” thing doesn’t work out in families. I know there are a lot of wonderful people and exceptions out there who make step parenting fabulous. But not always.

When you lose a spouse or partner you don’t just lose a part of your family. You lose a piece of your shared history. You lose the person who cared more than anyone else.

I get that it’s the cycle of life.

But sometimes it’s a little sooner than we expected. And it creates feelings of being unmoored.

I suppose we just need to be a bit more mindful of those around us who have suffered this loss.

Was thinking of this when I was weeding my mom’s garden last night.

She and my Dad would putter around the yard. Each doing their own thing. He was the lawn and vegetable garden guy. Mom was in charge of the flower gardens.

Well, it’s not the same for her now. After fifty three years of being with someone and then, in a blink of an eye, they are gone.

I guess, though, in the end, if you have or had someone who fits this “Nobody cared more than you” description then you are or were blessed.

Hugs to you all and have a lovely weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sidewalk

I am going to share some of the people, places and things that I have discovered since being in India. Some in my neighborhood and others in nearby places.

Don’t worry. I am not going to share all of my discoveries at once.

This is my new tailor, Rajender. A happy, good-natured man.

rajender

Rajender sets up shop every day (except Sunday) on the sidewalk a block from our home.

I had noticed him on one of my strolls. I mean it is kind of hard not to notice him. He is literally on the sidewalk.

One day I thought I’d go and have a look. Check out this local business. But when I got a little closer there was a big crowd of men so I wimped out and kept going. I just didn’t want fourteen pairs of penetrating eyes on me while I tried to awkwardly make my small talk English understood.

The following day I swung by again. He was at the sewing machine with only one fellow sitting on a motor bike chatting with him. So I went over and introduced myself. Got his name. Asked his hours. Prices. His English isn’t great so the guy on the motor bike helped out a bit. I grabbed his telephone number and was on my way.

So the next day I gave him material to make four zippered pillows. I left him one to copy. He did a great job.

The following day I had him do my husband’s pants. He also fixed one of my T.J. Maxx bargains and hemmed a pair of my pants.

He is definitely not overcharging me. A new hem on my pants cost about $1.50 USD.

Anyway, a lovely fellow. Has a sweet daughter who is the same age as my youngest. She may or may not be learning how to sew. Seems to be more interested in her mobile phone. No different from most twenty year olds. Makes me chuckle.

I never imagined I’d be getting my tailoring needs met by a man on a sidewalk. But here I am. Now thinking it is the most normal thing in the world.

Every time I pass by, walking or in the car, I get a big wave and a smile from my new friend at the sidewalk stall.

I respond with my usual, “Hi! How’s things today? All good?”

They always seem to be all good.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I hope it’s all good!

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Again

A lot of people ask me if I like living in India.

The answer is absolutely.

Well, except for the air quality. 😦 No good.

Also the temps are starting to rise a bit. Today it is 102 degrees (F) or 30 degrees (C).

Despite those two things I do enjoy being here.

I love my neighborhood. Every day I discover something different, new or exciting. I’m totally learning.

We are getting ready to move. Again. LOL. But only a couple of blocks away. Same ‘hood.

Our house is in a lovely area. But the construction next door was/is driving us batty. It is like Chinese water torture. Every. Single. Minute. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We considered moving to a popular expat area across town.

Big skyscrapers in a gorgeous golf course setting. The apartments are ridiculously spacious-like 6000 square feet. The building boasts a movie theater on ground floor. Along with a gym, coffee shop and restaurant. Even a pub.

The outdoor pool would put you in mind of a Caribbean resort. Swimming through a labyrinth that’s shielded by towering palm trees.

Went to dinner there with my husband’s associate and his wife. They reside there and love it. Who wouldn’t? Very nice setup.

Couldn’t punch holes in it if I tried.

The wife of the associate was gracious. Explained how safe it was.

We totally figured that one out.

Had to register with guards to enter the gated community. Told them who we were visiting. Then we were on our way.

Came upon another gate at their actual building. Same drill. Security fellows allowed us entry.

Last line of defense against solar panel guys, Jehovah Witnesses and people like us who slipped past the first two gates? Yes, you guessed it.

One more smiling fellow on the ground floor of the building. Located near the elevators.

I was impressed with all of the amenities that the community offered. The woman told me about yoga classes, golfing, groups, etc.

She continued, “You’d never have to leave here.”

Ahhhh. And there it was. My hole punch.

I tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” look.

I’d never have to leave the grounds of this secure and closed community.

Which is totally fine for a four day stay at an island resort.

Okay, I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that would love this. Never have to worry about a thing. A pristine, sanitized, happy bubble.

I’m not knocking anyone. It’s just not me. At least, not the me I am today.

I know that no one stays in the community all of the time. They do leave the compound. LOL

We don’t drive here in India (company doesn’t allow) so I do a lot of walking. We have a driver but I have him drop me off at a park or I will just roam our neighborhood on foot. I always feel safe and I am careful.

You lose some independence by not driving. So I regain a bit of it by walking and exploring the dusty side streets. Never knowing what I will see. Monkeys, mongoose or sick bat stuck on a fence.

Strolling through the acres of the public parks with the funky birds and different sights.

I told my husband (we were waiting to hear on one last house in our current neighborhood) if the last house didn’t pan out then we needed to do what made the most sense financially, work transportation, etc. If that ended up being this expat spa resort then so be it.

I’d find friends and make the best of it. And leave the compound every now and again. 🙂

 

In the end, the house in our current neighborhood did pan out and we will move there in the next week or so.

Yay!

It really made me realize just how much I enjoy discovering something different, new or exciting. Each and every day in my wonderful host country. In my colorful neighborhood.

I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

 

 

 

 

Reactions

When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) are responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.