Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Still Life on Scotts Creek

With all the chaos and uncertainty in the world, this was my peace this morning:
Walking beside waters so still that the trees were perfectly reflected in the water.
No fancy marinas along Scotts Creek, but well loved family boats of West Park View residents.
I love this stately Queen of the neighborhood.
Egrets and green herons feed in this marshy area of the Creek.  I feel grateful to be around this much nature, with foxes, rabbits, and raptors like Cooper's Hawks abounding...right in the middle of a city.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

And a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven

Fall comes later in Virginia than it did when I was up North, as a child.
Now the days are ending early, but the flowers flourish.   Our temperatures are in the sixties and the seventies.  My flowers are happier than in the dog days of August and September.
The trees across the street are just beginning to put on their fall clothes.
The last daisy nestles with some apple mint. I am always sorry to see them go back to sleep until spring.
Geraniums are party animals, the very last to go, hanging out until last call, when we get a hard freeze.

"To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven."  Ecclesiastes

Here's a gratuitous dog pic because I love her.  She's looking a bit more pit bull here than Labrador. That's one of her "babies" that I pick up at the Dollar Store.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Aerostat Flying Free

We are rejoicing over Bruce's new job as a senior instructional designer at Camber Corporation for a few reasons.

First, his normal hour and ten minute commute (one way) to another state is down to 25 minutes to Virginia Beach.

Second, the physical plant of his job site is in an upscale office park.  That is not the norm in military contracting.

The office park has a lovely little cafe, a gym, fountains out front, is well landscaped, with atriums in the buildings' centers. He and his co-workers walk during lunch along the trails which border the Lynnhaven River.  The "River" is actually a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.

Third, his pay increased tremendously.  Thank you, Jesus.  As my beloved Joyce Meyer says, "He's El Shaddai (Giver of All Sustenance in Hebrew), not "El Cheapo."

Fourth, Bruce had a word from God that he should leave his former company. He worked in the Quality Assurance department, creating videos to enhance safety, quality, and efficiency.  Bruce loved the actual work, which involved being highly proactive, productive, and creative. However,sometimes, I know, he felt like a voice crying out in the wilderness.

You know that big "blimp" that became untethered last week, taking down electrical wires, and leaving tens of thousands without electricity?  The media kept calling it a blimp.  It was actually an aerostat; a blimp designed to be tethered by lines, rather than to fly.  The media also stated that it was made by Raytheon Corporation.  That was also incorrect.

Raytheon was the primary contractor, but the aerostat was made by Bruce's former company.  The inaccuracy reminded me that the news media isn't too keen on fact checking, these days.

Walker Cronkite must be rolling in his grave.  When he said, "And that's the way it is, Thursday, June 2, 1972," you could believe it. Today? Not so much.

 I You-Tubed him and this made me cry:

Top Ten Walter Cronkite moments

When I was small, I thought that Walter Cronkite and Captain Kangaroo were the same person at different times of the day.  I related better to the "morning Walter." Modesty, professionalism, accuracy. The most trusted man in America. That's who he was.  Okay, back to Bruce's job.

The JLENS project (putting spy or commo stuff on aerostats) is now being scrutinized and, no doubt, the other countries (US allies) who buy the aerostats from the North Carolina company where Bruce used to work are thinking twice.  One source says the program is "hanging by a thread."     Not a good time to make aerostats  Bruce's job would have been highly jeopardized.

Thank you Lord, for speaking to Bruce's heart.  And thank you, Bruce, that you heard and obeyed.

Psalm 95:7
For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rest in Peace - Senior Trooper Michael Dooley Badge No. 1560

This is a hard post to write, but I must.  I returned from a cruise to the Caribbean to learn that my colleague, Trooper Michael Dooley, had died while I was gone.

Senior Trooper Dooley was one of the original troopers in my unit, the Sex Offender Investigative Unit, of a mid-Atlantic state police agency which I will not name.  Mike was a leader among us. He was well over 6 feet with a booming voice and a large demeanor,if you know what I mean.

I am told that he had more felony arrests than any trooper in the unit in 2014.  He took his job of protecting public safety seriously.  However, as one trooper related, he could go after an offender, yell at him, set him straight, and the offender would thank him afterwards.

The last time I saw him in uniform, he came into the office in the late afternoon and asked me where our Sgt. was.  This was odd because our Sgt. works earlier hours.  I looked at him, leaning on the door jamb.  I noticed that his normally ruddy Irish complexion was ashen.  When I asked him what was wrong he said, "I have a terrible headache."  He was diagnosed with a particularly vicious cancer shortly afterwards.

Police agencies are like families.  Mike's police family rallied around him from dispatchers to compliance officers to admin personnel to troopers to supervisors. I am proud that the professionals I work with went over many times to pray with him, meet his family's needs, begin work on a deck, take his two youngest children to the movies, do fundraisers, clean the house, fix the air conditioning, and to mourn with them at his passing.

It has been painful for his work family to experience his change from a unit leader to someone helped on and off the commode by his fellow troopers and his Sgt.   I am proud that my co-workers were willing to help him even in that most basic of functions.  He was barely recognizable from the way we used to know him.  Yet even in that helplessness, he had the power to affect all of us in both the way he lived and, more importantly, in the way he faced death.

My friend, Tony Jones, related in his moving eulogy that he first met Mike when Tony came to the unit from another part of the state.  I'll try to paraphrase what Tony said.

"I had met with the then Sgt. and was so discouraged that I thought I had made a bad decision to come down to the area.  I left and saw Mike Dooley filling his car with gas out back.  We introduced ourselves and I related my discouragement."

"Mike said, 'Oh, don't worry about him.  He just has his head in the clouds'  Only if you knew Mike, he didn't say in the clouds.  He said something else that I can't sat in church.  Mike told me to jump in his car.  He took me to Norfolk and showed me how to do the job while I rode with him for a few days"

All of us laughed and Tony went on, "I've prayed with Mike and I know where he is.  I am so thankful that he has gone on before because I know that when I get to heaven, Mike will be there to show me the ropes again."

Mike Dooley went home to God on his birthday. When you think about law enforcement officers, please think about this brave, hardworking, honest, and dedicated trooper who worked extremely hard and carried out his duties with integrity and professionalism.  I can still hear his voice on the radio in my mind, "This is 1560..."

Professionalism, dedication to duty, and the desire to help others is the norm for law enforcement officers. This is why it is big news when an LEO is video'd looking less than professional. The media doesn't run news stories about LEO's like Senior Trooper Mike Dooley, a consummate professional who did his duty to his utmost every day, because it doesn't inflame the public and raise their ratings.  Maybe they should.

In Memory of Senior Trooper Michael Patrick Dooley
10/21/57 - 10/21/2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rest in Peace...the Few, the Proud, Our Marines

Dear Abba Father please show us what is causing this sickness in our society.  Multiple news sources report 4 dead Marines in Chattanooga, a police officer in surgery, and a madman shot dead.  Help us, Jesus.

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill 
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill; 
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
Semper Fidelis, rest in peace brave Marines.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tweaking the Front Door Area

Over by the front door, I always have different items staged to go the mailbox or the recyclables or returning cold-pack grocery sacks to the car. I'd end up stacking them on the floor, an elegant look to be sure (eyeroll).

I had an idea while shopping at El Lotto Grande (as Alex at  Living the Small Life calls it) or Big Lots.  A box like this one was selling at a deep discount:

Whenever I am thrift shopping, I always look through the linens for vintage sheets which can be re-invented in all sorts of amazing curtains, tablecloths, and can be easily made in a simple skirt.  With the price of new fabric so high, I try to keep some on hand.

I raided my sheet stash and grabbed some spray paint I had from another project..

This is so much tidier than a bunch of stuff on the floor.  The box also makes for a comfortable extra seat.
I save the flowers Bruce brings from time to time and use them all around the house.  Seems like a sad waste to just throw them away. My front porch is one of my favorite things about this old house, but it is hard to get a good shot at the front door because of the shade it provides.

I've been saving the vintage sheet I used for the top for about 6 years.  With a can of spray paint and a staple gun, I am mighty.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Walton's Mountain

I've always tucked the Walton family, from the iconic 1970's television show, in a special place in my memories.  I still watch old episodes on the Hallmark Channel. Like the Andy Griffith Show, the weekly exploits of  John Boy, Jim Bob, Mary Ellen and the gang comforted me during a chaotic childhood.

The incredibly special thing about The Waltons is that the actors portrayed a real family struggling and growing during the Great Depression in the Virginia Mountains.  The narrator in the television show, who was also the creator and the actual John Boy, was Earl Hamner, Jr.  And he grew up with his many siblings, parents, and grandparents in this house in Schuyler, Virginia which is now on the National Registry of Historic Places.

We thought it would be a great place to explore on July 4.
Located about three hours from my home in Portsmouth, Schuyler is a sleepy, pastoral country hamlet along the Rockfish River.
Speaking of Rockfish (Daddy was always delivering lumber to Rockfish in the television show) here it is, post office and all.
Lumber operations still flourish in Nelson County.
The Walton kids on television were always messing around at the river. Ninety years later, kids were tubing down the mild rapids and jumping off a granite outcropping into the Rockfish.
I watched them from this bridge listing to the sound of the lazy old river, making its way down to the James River as it has for centuries, the cicadas encouraging it on its way, and children delighting in it as it flowed along.

Up the river, we think we found Ike Godsey's General Store from the television series.  Although it has been sadly overtaken by nature, if you look closely at the front roof line,you can see where the old sign hung.  The large porch overhang sheltered the old gas tanks.
Little farms spread out across from the Rockfish.
Schuyler Virginia is a slice of Americana relatively unchanged in 90 years. Schuyler and Rockfish have no McDonalds, no Payless Shoes, no strip malls, no stoplights, and no gangs.  No graffiti, no litter, and no one rude honking a horn.

In fact, as we slowed to take a picture of these barns, a car pulled alongside to make sure that we weren't having car problems.  When we let the driver know we were visiting "The Waltons" she wished us well, waved good bye, and told us that the river was just up the road.

I guess the Waltons don't just exist in my mind, but Walton's Mountain is a real place with real people who choose a different way of life.  I'm so glad they're still there, aren't you?
G'night John Boy, G'night Elizabeth, G'night Grandma,...cue harmonica music.  The end.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Red Sails in the Twilight

I'm a frustrated Manhattanite.  Well,  maybe not frustrated exactly.  I have a constant wistful longing for Manhattan.

I grew up between divorced parents in Connecticut, where my family has deeply-set roots and New York, where my mother and stepfather lived.  I treasure my memories from childhood in the Greater Hartford area, don't get me wrong.

I recall nearly every moment of my childhood there: the screeching of my grandmother's storm door as it opened, the taste of horn rolls from Michael's Bakery, the smell of Sunset Ridge School, and the chill as I put my hands in the icy water of the Coke cooler at Stanley Roman's Grocery on a hot June day.  I would charge it to my grandmother's account along with some animal crackers and think I was a badass.

I lived in Manhattan as an adult and visited frequently as a child.  My grandparents would take me in to see the Christmas Show at Radio City.  I'd go into the City (as New Yorkers call it, for there is only ONE city that matters) to visit museums and go to Yankee games on the A Train.

Mostly I would walk for miles observing and experiencing the hot dog vendors, the store windows, historic architecture like the Chrysler and Flat Iron buildings and, once, the surrealist artist Salvador Dali who had only half a mustache at the time, walking an ocelot on a leash down Central Park South.
It looks like a regular ole kitty, but this is actually a "big cat" also known as the dwarf leopard. I think the cat's name was Babou.

I would also see the actress, Ruth Gordon, out walking nearly every day in my neighborhood.  It came to the point that she would put her cane over her arm and pat mine saying, "Hi Honey, how are ya, how are ya" with a big smile as we passed.  This was a lot better than her character in Rosemary's Baby who scared me witless.

Life took a different path for me and hasn't been too shabby since Bruce whisked me away to live in Hawaii, but that longing for New York continues.  God's Word says that He gives us the desires of our heart. I don't think this means that we get whatever we want, but rather that He puts the desires in there to begin with.

I have an idea of what He is going to do with all this and it is exciting.  However, in the meantime,I was cooking dinner last night and dreamily thinking, "What would I be doing if I lived in New York?"

I'd have gone to a little grocery store (no room for big, huge supermarkets in NYC) such as they have there, like a Fairway, and picked out what I needed for a couple of days.  I'd choose my fruits and vegetables out front.
I'd wheel everything home in one of those personal shopping carts New Yorkers use and then hang behind the apartment's front door in between trips.

And then, and then...I mused while I cut carrots for salad and checked on the baking chicken.  I seized on just the thing, "I'd go to Riverside Park and walk along the water in the twilight," getting a little teary at my lack of Manhattan.

Then it hit me.  I live along a beautiful river, The Elizabeth, and the only reason I don't walk along it in the twilight is lack of planning or lack of gumption or pure laziness or lack of habit...who knows.

I walked along the river last night.  And was treated to this beautiful sight:
It isn't the Hudson, but I think this quite possibly could have been even prettier.  Bloom where you are planted.  I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too, when I vacation there soon.  And get ready for what God has next.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Gift of a Letter

I have had the great good fortune in life to have had personal contact with notable people I admire. While I imagine that many people who are raised up on pedestal can possibly be found disappointing, happily for me, that has not been the case.

I have long admired the prolific writer, Alexandra Stoddard.  For those of us who enjoy creating a beautiful home, her writing is truly inspirational.

One of  Alexandra's books is entitled "The Gift of a Letter."  She doesn't use the computer, but writes her manuscripts using beautiful, French-made paper, gorgeous colored ink, and a fountain pen. Her hand-written letters show the same panache, as you can see above, written to me on China blue stationary with a silver ink.

Yes, Alexandra Stoddard sent ME the gift of a letter after I penned a condolence note regarding the death of her beloved husband, the attorney and author Peter Megargee Brown.  Alexandra has been so brave and open about how she is coping with his earthly loss that I felt compelled to write

Years ago, I read about her first New York City apartment in which she had window boxes on the inside.  Twenty-five years after reading about those "inside window boxes," I made one of my own from my Papa's wooden tool box, which had once belonged to my Pop, his father-in-law.

Alexandra's window boxes had geraniums in them, but I don't have enough light at the back of my kitchen for flowers.

I feel blessed indeed that every time I have reached out to someone I have admired, each of them has turned out to be as wonderful as I thought they were.

Alexandra posts a monthly newsletter on her website on the first of each month. An assistant posts for her from her handwritten draft.  Alexandra's newest missive should be up tomorrow or so.  Each one is wonderful.  I hope you enjoy it.

Alexandra Stoddard

Sunday, June 28, 2015

HOH- PAAAAH!!!!!!!!

I’m passionate about the movies.  

Favorites include Moonstruck, The Hunt for Red October,L.A. Confidential, Fried Green Tomatoes and a lot of film noir.  

Film noir movies always include a dame, a hard-boiled detective or other cynical male lead, with a stylish mystery.  To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Key Largo, and all those movies from the 40's and the 50s with Robert Mitchum and his sleepy eyes are film noir.

Here’s a peak at a film noir favorite with some of the classiest movie dialog ever written.  It ought to be fabulous, William Faulkner wrote it.

The Big Sleep Bogey and Bacall

One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME is My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Not only my favorite, but the top grossing romantic comedy ever produced.  Which is lovely for Nia Vardalos, the Greek star who wrote the screenplay and earned an Oscar nomination the first time out.  

Nia recently tweeted that MBFGW2 is in production.  Every one of the original cast members Lanie Kazan, Michael Constantine (Principal Kaufman from Room 222), John Corbett, and Joey Fattone have signed on for the sequel along with newcomer John Stamos (Uncle Jesse from Full House).  Nia took the pic above while filming.  John Corbett is looking pretty good at 52.

Years ago, my niece, Piper, quipped that any sequel should be called, My Big Fat Greek Wife.  I think she was 11 at the time.  I don't think they're calling it that.

BTW, the title word up there is Greek for Hooray!

Friday, June 26, 2015

And Now, Some Good News - Amazing Grace

Yesterday, we all woke up to the news of horrific terrorist deaths overseas.  I will not name the group, because its name has been glorified (in a sense) far too much.  God is in control.  As Joni Eareckson Tada says, “He allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”

God is not surprised by this terrorist group.  God knew what would happen.  In fact, He foretold what would happen in Genesis.

How can I discuss Good News?  I can because Good News is all around us, if only we can stop grumbling and complaining enough to recognize it.

When I read the New York Daily News on line this morning, imagine what I found - an  advertisement for Amazing Grace on Broadway.  “The song the world knows, the story it doesn’t,” is the slogan for the show.  

When God wrote in Matthew 24:14 that the Word would be preached to the ends of the earth, he already had Broadway, the Internet, rapid transit, airplanes, and satellites in mind.

Have all the folks who say that Hollywood is all about unrighteousness noticed some of the fabulous television programming and movies being made these days about the Bible and the existence of God? 

Last Sunday, we were leaving Farm Fresh with our groceries in the cart.  Four young men in hip hop gear swarmed in the Out Door without realizing it.  When they saw we were coming out, they slowed down.  One of them looked Bruce straight in the eye, “Excuse us. Happy Father’s Day, Sir.”   How kind, how refreshing! Bruce and I don’t have children, but he has mentored enough young people to have earned the term “father.”

As I’m out and about for work, I listen to XM radio (which I pay for, not the state) to uplift me while I work in a dark profession.  This week I was so cheered to hear a newscaster being interviewed about her new book and her faith in God.  You GO Gretchen Carlson.

The City is replacing the sewer infrastructure in my neighborhood.  Most of the work is right in front of my house.  It has been terribly hot outside and the constant rumbling and beep beep beep of bulldozers has been a challenge. 

I was out mowing the lawn in the heat not long ago when I noticed that one of the big, heavy pipes was on a strip of the lawn I needed to mow next  The land is city property, but I am responsible to mow it.  I momentarily started getting grumbly and then checked myself.
The work has to be done. Maintaining a good attitude is the key.  I mowed the strip I could access.  As the bulldozer operator saw me coming, he “beeped beeped beeped” over, picked up the pipe and gently placed it back in an area which I had already mowed.  There is still good in this world.  I sent an email to the City praising how kind this work crew has been.

I stopped writing this entry because I had to get to work.  God’s biggest Good News surprise for today was yet to come.

Evil thought that it had won in South Carolina when a man was welcomed, a stranger of a different color, to a Bible study. He sat among these kind, prayerful folks listening for an hour and then killed 9.

My day started with Amazing Grace on Broadway.  My work week came to a close with Amazing Grace from my President as he provided the eulogy for Pastor Clementa Pinckney, one of the 9 lost last week.

I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama either time.  However, I know that God calls us to respect and obey those in authority.  We are called to pray for our leaders, whether we voted for or opposed them.  We are NOT called to write hateful things about Mr. Obama or his wife or his children and circulate them on Facebook. 

Hey Rush Limbaugh, we are not called to ridicule America’s First Lady by referring to her as ugly.  I think she is elegant and attractive, calling attention to many American clothes designers. She has a young, refreshing look.  I love how she puts a wide belt over a sweater. I guess when you can’t argue with someone effectively, you call them names.

Christians are also not called to forward on-line posters and quips which degrade the President or his family.  Remember what Thumper’s mother said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Today I saw President Obama preach the gift of God’s grace in church. He gave a salvation message. Yep, Barack Hussein Obama did that. And I love him for it.

He’s been called Godless by the right, which I am a member of, by the way.  I hope it is pretty clear after today that he is not Muslim (eye roll) or Godless. And come to think of it, how paranoid do you have to be to believe that our President was not born in America? I guess you have to believe that the Honolulu Advertiser falsely publicized his birth announcement over 50 years ago in case he might decide to run for office some day.

Evil used a confused and, most likely, mentally ill young man to destroy.  God ultimately won when all of the victims’ families extended grace and forgiveness in court. God got the glory when a U.S. President preached his faith in God’s grace to sustain us and heal us. God won when our President talked about the grace that saved him.  Amazing Grace, indeed.

President Obama Eulogizes the Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Saturday, May 16, 2015

This Is What Courage Looks Like - Owen

Okay, I confess it.  I always thought Shriners were a little goofy with the Fez hat and riding around in parades on tiny little motorbikes.

However, Shriners Hospitals (in cooperation with God Almighty, Commander-in-Chief of the Universe or as we military families call him "CINC-U") make everyday miracles happen for kids like Owen.  Owen was burned by boiling water over 98% of his body and was given ZERO per cent chance of survival.

This is Owen Mahan with the University of Indianapolis Baseball Team management signing a contract in a special program which pairs up college athletes with special needs kids.

This is Owen and his foster Mom turned forever Mom.
And if Owen can face life with a smile, then surely we can, too.  The next time we wake up with aches in places we didn't know we had because of too much yard work and think to complain like I did this morning, keep Owen in mind.

This is what courage looks like, people.

Owen's Story

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Did You Ever Notice?

Did you ever notice that the more verbiage on an envelope about how important the contents are, the less important it is?  If the printing reads "important" and "time sensitive" and some of it is in bold face, then I can assure you that the contents are completely worthless.

To show how totally without merit this little envelope from Ditech was, we have the requisite bolding, important notation, time sensitive verbiage, AND a tracking number.

And yes, I do miss Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes.  I can't quite make my voice sound as crabby and peeved as his.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Just Because I Am So Odd...err Unique

We drove over to the little communities of Rescue and Battery Park, Virginia on Saturday.  I know there must be a story about the name "Rescue" but I haven't discovered it yet.  Both neighborhoods are in Isle of Wight County...perhaps 20 minutes from our house.  However, they are light years away...sleepy, bucolic, peaceful non-suburbia.

Back in this area is a surprising place called Oak Crest Farm.  It is so surprising that the LA Times wrote a story it.

Zebra Farm

I'll never forgot how odd the zebras seemed the first time we saw them grazing.  It was as if a narwhal was sunning himself in Virginia Beach or a polar bear was sitting at a bus stop in Los Angeles.

The zebra are the farthest away from the road and hard to catch in a pic. The donkeys were frolicking right next to the fence, so I took some shots.
Okay, maybe it is just me, but I think this donkey needs to see a dentist.  He reminds me of a shipmate of my husband's who always used to say, "I'm an awful handsome fella, but my teeth are screwed up."  Actually, he said something else other than screwed up, but you get the idea.

I've been laughing at this pic ever since I took it.  I know.  I'm unusual.  It is what I do.  It is who I am.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Police Week

I’ve held my silence and stayed in contemplation since Ferguson and the war on police began in earnest.  This week is Police Week, instituted by President John F. Kennedy. I will remain silent no longer.

I’ve read all kinds of hateful stuff from bloggers who usually know better.  I’ve watched the mainstream media provide biased and unfair reporting.  I’ve watched thugs loot, burn, and steal under the coverage of what is called “peaceful protest.”  I’ve listened to the hypocrisy of the Justice Department, Al Sharpton, and the NAACP.  

For all of you out there who complain about police response time to routine incidents when you don’t bother to call the police – shut up.  If you complain about being asked nicely to follow the same parking rules as everyone else – too bad for you!  You got a ticket because you were unlawfully speeding?  Too bad, so sad.  You don’t like how the police responded to your domestic situation?  Keep a lid on your family arguments.  Here’s a news flash:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Over the three years that I have worked for my law enforcement agency, I have had three colleagues killed in the line of duty.  Think about that – who works in a place where three people get killed in three years, just for doing their jobs?

One co-worker, Jim, narrowly avoided death in November and only just returned to work last week.  Why?  Two bank robbing thugs in body armor had parked a getaway car in his neighborhood and tried to kill him while he was running the tags on his way to work.  Another Sgt. I work with was rammed by an evading driver going over 70 miles per hour and he is not yet back at work following the injuries.  This is just in one office alone.

Master Trooper Junius Walker (pictured above) stopped to assist a motorist whom he thought was broken down on the highway.  Russell Brown was actually lying in wait for Trooper Walker and shot him in the face so he could see “what it felt like to kill someone.”  This father, husband, and grandfather was close to retirement and was one of the longest serving troopers in our organization.  Trooper Walker was beloved by his family, organization, and the community he served.  We didn’t hear a peep from Al Sharpton, the Justice Department or the NAACP when he died.

Here is a cold, but true fact:  It is the African American community itself that is killing young black men, not police departments.   Where are the protests about that?  Inner-city criminals have been killing each other for years and not a word from the community or Al. 

For those who have been killed by law enforcement officers, the vast majority have long arrest histories.  The chance of anyone who is reading this or me being killed by law enforcement is zero.

I don’t know what went on in Baltimore, but I suspect that this “victim,” (who was actually a drug dealer well known to local police) may have swallowed some of his product before he ran.  This, in turn, may have contributed to whatever was going on in the van.  You have to dig pretty deep in the reporting to find out about his criminal history.  He preyed upon the folks in his community, those same folks who preyed upon local businesses which the neighborhood depended on, like CVS. 

That CVS is now closed and the neighborhood residents have lost their jobs there, as well as a place to pick up prescriptions.  All the looting did was hurt the community and get the “peaceful protesters” free liquor.  Of course, once your mayor states that you should have space to “destroy,” I guess you do.  I wonder how the owners of those destroyed business feel about that?

Do you want to know how it is that people are killed by law enforcement?  They break the law.  They flee from the police.  They move when they are commanded to stand still.  They resist arrest. They illegally carry weapons.  They try to hurt police officers.  They kick, punch, and spit at officers.  They try to grab officers’ weapons.  In Ferguson, they think they are entitled to steal cigars, strong arm the owner, punch a police officer in the face, and then try to grab his weapon…proven by DNA.

They are brought up in single-parent households and are not held to accountability nor taught respect for any type of authority. Teachers are afraid of them. Remember what would happen if a teacher ever called your parents about bad behavior?   In public schools these days, the parents come in and yell at teachers who try to discipline children.

Many kids are raised with no honor and that there is an excuse for anything.  They are not taught how to control impulses and often have no example within their families of people who work to advance themselves. 

The best thing that Al Sharpton and the NAACP, Urban League, etc. can do for African Americans is to advocate for better education for them.  They can teach kids ethics starting in pre-school.  How about citizenship classes?  What about parenting support and classes? 

How about telling young black men and women not to have children they can’t afford?  How about if Al and the NAACP address the fact that 80% of all black children are born out of wedlock, one the strongest indicators of childhood poverty. 

Two officers were gunned down in cold blood in Hattiesburg this weekend.  What was one local response?  Some subhuman Subway worker cheering about it on Facebook, Good for Subway for firing her, even as she lied and said her phone was “stolen.”  

A rising young officer killed in New York City and Officers Liu and Ramos before him.  So far this year, 40 officers have been killed nationwide in the line of duty.  Where is the Justice Department about that?  Where is justice for the Fallen in my profession?

So during this Police Week, I ask you to pray for the families, co-workers, and agencies of the Fallen. Let your police know that you support them.  Please pray for your own local law enforcement agency.  How many people are willing to go to work each day knowing that there are people waiting to kill them?  Pray for the wives, husbands, parents, and children of these officers.  Pray for their safety.

And if you don’t want to do that…try calling Al Sharpton or the NAACP next time instead of 911. 

Please note that these opinions are mine and mine alone.  They do not reflect my organization, which I have not named.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Harder They Fall

I had a two-hour later start Friday morning following a full snow day on Thursday. At 7 a.m. I had a call from Bruce advising of the following:

He left for work at 0545, but fell down the front, concrete steps. It hurt a lot, but he didn't want me to fall down on the same black ice, so he went to Walgreens to get cat litter to put on the stairs. He came home and spread it out.  I found that humbling, to say the least.

Then he left for work again, but once that he had been on the road for a while, he wasn't feeling so great.  He wanted to come back and go to the emergency room. Could I meet him at the Naval Hospital?

He passed out and started shaking at the ER, so they hooked him up to a heart monitor and tried to figure out what was going on.  After spending the whole day with these wonderful corpsman, doctors and nurses, seems that he had lost nearly a pint of blood internally due to how hard he fell.  A cat scan and blood tests followed to ensure that he wasn't continuing to bleed.  He was not and was allowed to return home with plenty of pain pills.

The pic shows about 2/3 of the injury.  The rest is on the right side and on his bum.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Goodbye, Mr. Spock

I don't think that most people who know me would believe that I am a die-hard fan of the original Star Trek.  Isn't it amazing that a show that only broadcast for three years would have such a profound influence on our culture 50 years later?

My favorite character was Leonard Nimoy as the unflappable Mr. Spock.  I think I appreciated him so much because he always had control over his emotions.  I'm not always so good at that.

The Vulcan salute of "Live Long and Prosper" was Leonard Nimoy's idea.  He first saw it as a little boy in an Orthodox Jewish setting, as he saw watched Rabbis raising their hands over the congregation in blessing using that familiar gesture.

He talks about this here:

Live Long and Prosper

Thursday, February 26, 2015

White As Snow

So sorry to those of you who hate snow, but I love it!  Here's the tree outside my front door, all frosted and beautiful. You can hardly see the old Shea Terrace Elementary School behind all the fluff.

All this lovely whiteness reminds me of the comforting words God share's with us in Isaiah 1:18:

"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

War and Peace

Yesterday started off with a jolt. 

I spend a lot of time in my take-home police vehicle, for which I am very thankful.  The radio squawks all day long.  I don’t typically need to use it, unless I am going to see someone I don’t know well.  I then check in with the dispatchers notifying them of my location, so someone looks for me in case I don’t check back out. 

Some of what you hear can be shocking. I frequently view this as an opportunity to pray.

Yesterday morning, the radio traffic was nothing less than life or death.  A pursuit started not too long after 8 a.m. with a driver who doing 76 in a 45 mph zone and would not pull over.  Soon he was clocked at 106 mph with several troopers trying to catch up.

He purposely rammed one trooper twice. The second time he rammed into the trooper, the driver lost control of his car, drove it into a tree.  The car looks as if split in half on impact.  The next thing I heard was a trooper saying that the car was engulfed in flames. The driver died, obviously.  I’m not stating anything that hasn’t been on the news.

One minute I was praying for the safety of the troopers and the next, I was praying for the driver’s family.  What has gotten into people?  What on earth was so important that he drove 30 mph over the speed limit to begin with?  What could the driver have done which was so terrible that he couldn’t just pull over to deal with it?  Some warrants?  A stolen car?

Now his body will have to be identified with dental records.  I was shaken. I can’t imagine how was for the troopers who were there.

It started snowing at 2:30 and by 3:15, it wasn’t safe to drive.  We don’t use snow tires here in southeastern Virginia.  I drove home, did some paperwork and started dinner.  I tried a new recipe for Genovese pasta I saw in the NY Times magazine on Sunday.   It was fabulous.

We walked in the snow after dinner.  We bundled up with hats, scarves, gloves and boots and put Lulu into her little orange coat.

All the city sounds were mostly muffled, with most people wisely inside and not driving.  It was so quiet that we could hear individual snowflakes hitting the snow already on the ground.  Peace washed over me as I finally let go of the tension from the morning.

We headed down to the partially-frozen Scotts Creek.  It is the prettiest spot in any season, with all kinds of wildlife; foxes, green herons, egrets, and Cooper’s Hawks.  The Creek didn’t disappoint tonight.  My pinkies were getting numb as we stamped our feet up the porch stairs and went inside.

My world is all peace tonight and another family’s world has fallen apart, as they surely must know by now that someone made a terrible decision.  And I pray that the God of all comfort will sustain the troopers and the family members this driver left behind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tiny House

I am entranced with tiny houses.  Every time I see one, I wonder if it was a perfect little spot for an aging mother-in-law. Or was it a workshop of some sort?  Here in the south, before air conditioning, folks had what were called "summer kitchens" which they used in the warm months.  The heat was kept away from the main home, although  the cook must have roasted along with the chicken and cornbread!

This particular little place has a fireplace and it looks as though there's some furniture inside. Yesterday, we stopped at a little Mom-and-Pop Italian place in Smithfield, VA and then noodled around north on Route 10.  We so enjoy the back roads, off the beaten path, which are so much more interesting than anything you might see on the highway.

We were somewhere between Surry and Hopewell when we turned around to take this shot.  There's a 1950's ranch house to the left, which doesn't fit the age or the style of this tiny house.  We were speculating that the house might have once belonged to the empty lot on the right, to a house that disappeared a long time ago.

If I owned this charming little place, I'd paint the door bright red, put black shutters up,and hang some Goodwill lace curtains in the windows.   Then in the Spring, I'd put up two window boxes planted with red geraniums and trailing greenery, like ivy, perhaps.

We'll need a grapevine wreath, simple, just spray painted white with one silk geranium on the door. I'd put a big, vintage watering can to the left side of the door and a wooden chair with the bottom out of it to the right, fitted with an old red handled pail and planted with red, trailing petunias. I think a red or black vintage bike with no gears should be leaning up against the side.

It could be precious at Christmas with a fresh, evergreen wreath on the door and little white lights around the windows.  Two vintage wicker chairs are needed about April 1, pulled out to just where the snow is right now. A black cat should be snoozing in the sun nearby from time to time.

Wouldn't it be just swell?  It makes me think of a sentimental old adage that hung in my grandmother's breakfast nook, "Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."

You know, I was just thinking that in My Father's House,there are many mansions.  I hope there are a few fixer uppers.  It may not be biblical, but I do so love expressing creativity this way.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

McFarland, USA

We saw a wonderful movie yesterday:  McFarland, USA with Kevin Costner.  No foul language, no gratuitous sex or violence...just a straightforward, heartwarming story of a down-and-out coach who assembles a team of migrant workers and inspired them to become the top cross-country team in California.

At the same time, it is the story of how Coach White, in turn, was changed by his encounter with the team members, who work before and after school in California's fields, picking the food we eat.   He takes the grit and determination they use to survive every day and translates it into a hunger for success which allows each team member to do well, despite inferior uniforms, the pressures of having to work in the fields every day, and lack of funding to support their team.

It is also a lovely portrayal of the best of Hispanic culture, from the special birthday girls celebrate at age 15 (quinceanera), to the incredible work ethic these folks demonstrate, to their love for family and friends which is perhaps demonstrated more visibly than in many other cultures.

Finally, one scene depicts the runners getting on their knees to thank God after winning the big race. I can't remember the last time I saw that in a movie.

As I watched them picking cabbages, I couldn't help but think of my late sister-in-law, a migrant worker, who met Eric, my brother-in-law, when she was hoeing beets in Jim Shekal's fields close to his own family farm.

Margaret was stunning, as Bruce would say, she was a south-of-the-border Farrah Fawcett-Majors. Their daughter, Heather, is just as stunning and runs a business as a personal trainer. Margaret died, tragically, in a single car accident more than a dozen years ago.  Any stereotype you might have about migrant workers would be shattered if you had known Margaret, one of the most dignified women I ever met.

Go see this movie and support Hollywood when they produce righteous family films!  And the next time you make a salad, cook fresh spinach, or eat beets, please remember these extremely hardworking folks who picked that food, like my late sister-in-law and her family or the kids who ran for victory in McFarland, USA.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Muslims in Oslo Norway Protect Synagogue

 I haven't seen too much media coverage of a wonderful story from Oslo in Norway.

The Times of Israel reports that 30 Muslims plan to form a protective ring around a synagogue to show solidarity after the Copenhagen Islamo-facist attacks.

They probably realize that ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups kill other Muslims in their terror attacks, as much as they kill Jews and Christians.