31 July 2012

My Fluke

Twenty years ago I answered the most important question of my life:  Will you marry me?  with an incredulous, almost embarrassing question:  Are you serious?

I was serious in my question, because I knew even then, that it was too good to be true, that it was a fluke, this man wanting to marry me.  But he was serious.  After a few moments of utter bewilderment, I found the good sense, at last, to say yes.

And sometimes when I remember to take a moment in gratitude, I still marvel at the fact that he really did choose me.  I feel like Sally Field accepting her Oscar with, “You like me!  You really like me!”

Because I can’t exactly be easy to live with at times.  I’m moody and take on too much.  I start projects only to learn that I’m in over my head and then require a bailout.  I think I’m right most of the time, even when, clearly, I am not.  I also don’t  always give credit.  I don’t always recognize how smart he is, his innate skills at problem-solving, how hard he tries, how much he notices, what he does to make our lives easier and better.

I don’t always recognize how lucky I am.  How lucky I am that he chose me.  Me, out of all the choices he could have made.  It’s dizzying to think about how he’s helped me to grow and develop into the person I am today.  Without him, I cannot even fathom what my life would be like today.

As I was writing this and thinking of the word fluke, I had to look up its meaning, just to be certain.  And while one meaning, the one I originally intended, is a stroke of luck, there is another meaning.  A fluke is the part of an anchor that fastens in the ground, and while I think that the connotation that first came to my mind is still accurate, there is something even more appealing in this second sense of the word.  And so with much gratitude, today, on this 19th anniversary of vowing to be there forever for one another,  I can only say thank you, Dan, for choosing me, for being my fluke, for grounding me to what is real and solid and true.

27 July 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

22 July 2012

Not so Disarming

I grew up in a house where there were guns.  All of my siblings and I were taught to use guns safely, and I watched my father teach my daughters and nieces and nephews this skill as well.  It was always an exciting event - although it never happened terribly frequently - to go out into the desert and shoot at targets or clay pigeons.  And my dad was always bringing home all manner of game to the dinner table, and in fact still hunts regularly with my uncle and others.

My dad, I would like to believe, is the typical gun owner.  Someone who is exceedingly careful with his weapons, someone who has extreme respect for their power, someone who knows what a bullet is capable of damaging.  But, in reality, I know that he is probably a rare bird.  All too often, we read about accidental shootings.  In fact, at a local, nationally known firearms school, there have been two incidents of students accidentally shooting themselves in class within the past several months.  Both survived, but there are many tragic cases of accidental deaths. 

And it seems that we can’t go more than a few months as well, without hearing about a heavily armed gunman shooting up a crowd, causing many deaths and injuries:  this week, it’s Aurora.  But I’m sure you remember Fort Worth, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Paducah, Tucson.  And those are only the most heinous of the mass shootings.  What about the DC snipers?  Or the infamous postal workers?  recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph lists thirty mass shootings in the US since 1999.  Since Columbine, the tragedy that gripped the nation and the horrific standard by which all other shootings were measured.  Until a subsequent mass murder one-upped Columbine.  And then another one-upped Fort Worth.  Or Tucson.  You get the point.

What’s wrong here?  I don’t know about you, but I am literally sickened by seeing the flag at half-mast over the senselessness of it all, again and again.  I haven’t even talked to my kids about Aurora yet, because what’s the point? 

Weapons are becoming more sophisticated, more deadly, more accurate.  In fact, it’s coming to light that there likely would have been more deaths in Aurora if the shooter’s first weapon of choice hadn’t jammed.

And so now the talking heads on TV will offer their interpretations and insights on Aurora, and the banter about gun control will swell to new heights - but only to stop again when something else grabs the headlines.  The talking heads in Washington will argue about public safety versus the 2nd Amendment until some other event changes the dialogue.

And in a few months, there will be another shooting.  I don’t have to be a prophet to know this.

When I was growing up, one of the major historic events was the arms race.  Who could have more nuclear weapons, the US or the USSR?  Whose would be more powerful?  The most accurate?  The most devastating?  Somehow, through diplomacy and some willingness to bridge a level of trust between nations, that madness stopped.  And by some struck of luck, it happened prior to either nation accidentally or intentionally deploying one of these horrific weapons.

And it seems that we are in the midst of another arms race, in this country.  Who can be more armed?  The quiet sociopath or you?  The jilted lover or you?  The disgruntled former employee or you?

At what point are we going to realize that for public safety, there must  be limits on certain types of weapons, limits on the amount of ammunition, and a better system to ensure all of this?  Certainly, I am not an advocate of banning guns completely.  But there’s got to be some common sense here, regarding what is appropriate, and what borders on or goes beyond irrational and dangerous. 

As humans are prone to do, we are pointing fingers.  People have even gone so far as to blame parents for allowing their children (teenagers!) to go to the midnight showing of Batman, of questioning the propriety of a six-year-old being out so late.  But if you think about it, these shootings happen everywhere.  Movie theaters.  Shopping malls.  McDonald’s.  Schools.

They’re random and there is no way to protect yourself or your loved ones from this kind of madness.  Which essentially makes this a form of terrorism, doesn’t it?  And in spite of all the rhetoric about citizens being armed to protect themselves and their families from criminals with guns, I can’t think of a single situation in which a gunman intent on mass murder was disarmed by a citizen with a gun - maybe there are some occurrences of this, but there are so many shootings it is hard to keep track, hard to know the details of each.  At the Tucson shooting where Gabrielle Giffords was wounded, it was unarmed citizens who saw an opportunity and tackled the gunman before he could reload.

I keep thinking back to that November afternoon in the desert when my oldest daughter shot a gun for the first time.  Her grandfather explained the rules to her, her sibling, her cousins.  He quizzed them on the rules, again and again, as a group and individually.  He identified the parts of the gun.  He demonstrated safe gun handling.  He quizzed them again.  And then once he was certain they understood the gravity of the act, one by one, with much coaching and guidance, he allowed them to shoot at a target. 

Maybe the target was an aluminum can perched on a log some distance away, I don’t recall.  My daughter cocked the weapon and pulled the trigger, and let fly the bullet.  I can’t remember if she hit the target or not.  But I do remember her face, and what she said, and how the power of the weapon had frightened her enough to make her not want to shoot a second time.  I can see how that power might be a rush for some people, how, instead of frightening them, it might make them feel more powerful, invincible, authoritative.  But I keep coming back to how my daughter felt:   that the gun was more firepower than she required.  At what point will our nation come to the realization that my then nine-year-old knew instantly:  that we have far more firepower than we require.

20 July 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

13 July 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

07 July 2012


I recently learned about a couple of websites for exchanging books.  At one, Book Mooch, members earn points for posting books they’d like to get rid of, and then more points for actually sending one off.  Points are then deducted if you have a book sent to you by another member.  No money is exchanged, it's all done through the point system and the US Post Office.

The other, Book Crossing, will send you a unique book identification number, which is affixed to the book along with Book Crossing’s instructions.  You then give your book away:  to someone you know or to a complete stranger.  You can also “release your book into the wild,” meaning that you leave it in some public place (bus, cafĂ©, the break room at work, etc.) in the hopes that another reader will pick it up.  If that person follows the instructions, they’ll log onto the Book Crossing website that they have it, and then hopefully, they’ll pass it on to someone else.  You can track your books’ whereabouts, and I suppose, travel virtually with it, kind of like a trackable geocaching coin.

I’ve also heard about some cool ideas like the LaundryBasket Library in Ohio, where a group of individuals accept book donations, which they then place in, yep, laundry baskets, and leave in various public places for free access to books.  It’s an honor system that hopes that its users will return the books or leave another in its place.  I’m also intrigued by the Bilbioburro, a man in rural Colombia who delivers books via burro to people who otherwise might not have access to books.

 I really enjoyed World Book Night in April and I'm looking forward to participating in that event again in the future, although I'm really curious if the books I gave away have been read and enjoyed or not.

The Internet and some creative-thinking people have given us so many cool ways to share our love of reading with others.  I have to confess, though, that my favorite way of sharing books is among friends and family.  There is nothing quite like sharing a good read with someone you love.  At present, I’m struggling to keep up with the bounty of books that keeps finding its way to my door.  It’s a wonderful problem to have, really (and I hope that I won’t incur any late fees!)  And I love realizing that a friend might also enjoy a book I’m reading just as much as I appreciate someone thinking I would enjoy something from their library.

I love, too, that my daughters are now growing old enough to share books with me and vice versa.  Madeleine has turned me on to the thoughtful, interesting stories of Jerry Spinelli and I can’t wait to share Colin Meloy’s Wildwood with her as soon as I’m finished.  My parents were recently here for a visit and they each left with a book I hope they’ll enjoy.

I used to hoard my books, not wanting to share them.  I suppose I was afraid I might not get them back, and certainly I’ve experienced that.  One day, though, my mother-in-law said that she used to feel that way, but then realized that she could always find another copy of a book she enjoyed if she wanted it again.  Unless it’s something we’ve put excessive notation in, one copy is just the same as another for the most part.  And so now I share freely, and often tell the person I share a book with that they can keep it or pass it on. 

What book(s) have you enjoyed sharing with others?

06 July 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)