February 2012


My heart goes out to the families of Chardon whose lives were so recently shattered. A friend of mine asked, “OK, here’s a question… How many kids have to die in suicides and school shootings, how many other kids have to be injured, and how many *other* kids have to be totally traumatized, in order for schools and society to take the bullying problem seriously?”

This rather looks like blaming the victims here. Two children are dead and four more are injured. The small community is shattered. The criminal wasn’t even a part of this school system, but from earlier reports in a school for children who are “at risk” which is politically correct speak for “not so good”.

Years ago, we opted to mainstream to put children together so we could all learn to get along and not be bothered by differences among us. I don’t think this is working particularly well and I’m not completely sure it is the kids’ fault.

I know that the nose-picker kid who liked to put boogers everywhere was not my favorite student and I would always offer a tissue when I saw the mining activity begin. I also always washed the keyboard after class. But really, do you think this kid was bullied or was the peer pressure a way to socialize against public booger excavation? It is gross.

How many of us like to be sequestered with someone with annoying habits or tics. Think of being in an office next to a gum snapper or pencil tapper. Even just being in a one hour meeting with someone like that is enough to make the rest of the participants cranky. If you say something, are you a bully? Is the snapper/tapper a bully?

The criminal was said to be a loner. Does this mean he was shunned or does it mean he didn’t want to be around others? Do you socialize with everyone in your immediate area? Do you have a least favorite neighbor who doesn’t get invited to neighborhood events? My own neighbor has made it abundantly clear that she chooses to be left alone. I comply. Am I a bully?

What adult hasn’t looked at a People of Wal-Mart page of pictures? You are nothing but a bunch of bullies. I mean really! The entire premise of the website and the emails and videos it has spawned is nothing short of making fun of people. Of course, they are living outside the norms of society and rather beg to be laughed at.

When we moved, my son was eight years old. He came home from school crying. The kids were making fun of him. I asked more questions and found out they were calling him names on the playground. “What names?” I asked. “Thumb sucker,” he answered. My reply was something along the lines of telling him I knew the perfect response. “For God’s sake. You are eight years old and shouldn’t be sucking you thumb at school. Stop doing that and no one will call you that name again.” He stopped and so did the name calling.

What responsibility do we as citizens of the world have to conform to the basic societal norms of our region? If you are telling me they are just kids and can’t help their behavior, then those teasing them are also just kids and can’t control their behavior as well, so that doesn’t work. When you live outside the social construct, you eventually get on the People of Wal-Mart page or something similar.

Maybe some other good questions to ask are: When are we going to stop with a kneejerk reaction and think that everything bad in schools is a reaction to bullying? When are adults going to stop their own behaviors that are the same as those that are labeled bullying in school? This means no more gossip or making fun of people who are far outside the norm. It means befriending everyone in your immediate area regardless of compatibility.

If we believe that friendships are the litmus test of acceptance, how do we teach our children about inappropriate friends who have no right to their time? I just read about a teen girl whose ex-boyfriend is stalking her and pressuring her to get back together. Who is the bully? I mean, aren’t we all supposed to be nice? In the real world, we have standards.

In the world in which I live, there are people I can’t stand being around. I don’t care what anybody does in private, but when we are out together in our combined social sphere, we need to behave in ways that are acceptable. If you choose to live outside the norm, there are consequences.

Are there bullies? Yes. Should that all stop? Yes. Do some people bring bad reactions on themselves? Yes. Are we allowed to talk about that? No – that is blaming the victim. Unless it is a couple dead teens in Ohio.

Joey wanted a puppy. From the time he could start pestering me about such things, he wanted a puppy. I managed to ignore or deny the request for a very long time.

Finally, just before his eighteenth birthday, I finally caved and Joe got a dog. I was thinking that when he and his father went to the pound, they would come home with a small puppy. Instead, they came home with a puppy that was the size of what I had envisioned as the adult form of the dog. Joe named him Trip and said it had nothing to do with drugs, but that they would be traveling together.

I became Trip’s second human. He always preferred Joe to everybody else, but I was second choice. When Joe was nineteen, he decided he was an adult and would begin all those planned trips he wanted to take. So he and Trip moved out to Colorado.

I wasn’t ready for the whole empty nest thing and told Dick we either had to have a baby or get a dog. There was an ad in the paper for a puppy and Mom and I went out to inspect the creature. There was a small version of Trip – same coloring but much smaller. And scared. She was very scared, shaking like a leaf. She was also covered in fleas.

Her previous owner had brought her to a pet store, seeing if they would take her and sell her. But they didn’t do that. So the guy was going to take her to the pound where she would likely be destroyed. The worker at the pet store took her home, placed the ad in the paper, and kept her safe until I could find her. The lady raised beagles and had some super powerful flea foam stuff. She coated the puppy in the goo and sent us on our way.

Mom held the puppy on her lap and we brought her home with us, shaking like a leaf. Scared and pathetic, she came into our lives. I named her LC (pronounced Elsie) which stood for Last Chance.

First thing I wanted to do was be responsible and have her spayed. That’s what I did. There I was with a dog wearing a lampshade when Joe called saying he and Trip were coming home.

They arrived and I held LC on my lap while Joe brought Trip into the house. Trip sniffed at this usurper and I gave him lots of pets while he adjusted to this new presence in his old house. LC shook. That’s what she did best. But eventually, I set her down and two dogs decided they liked each other.

For years, they played together. They played chase in the back yard and they played chase in the house. They went after squirrels and after bunnies and never caught a squirrel, although one time LC did catch a bunny, which we managed to get free without harm. They played in the leaves and they played in the snow. We went on walks and they tangled up the leashes.

Joe moved away and the two dogs learned to live in different houses, but were always so happy to see each other. As we traveled between the houses, each dog would sniff at us and get a whiff of the other and wag a tail in appreciation.

Trip left us all behind last year. He got sick quickly, and succumbed to cancer. He was here and then he was gone.

In the last few years, LC has gotten progressively slower. She hurt her “knee” a couple years ago and could no longer run. She would walk with us, always a treat, but couldn’t go very far. But she seemed essentially happy with her lot.

She was losing her hearing and we would have to shout and that would startle her. Or we would get too close to her and that would startle her. She would look at us like we were being mean and she couldn’t figure out why.

She remained a cheerful helper and would lick the plates or bowls and help with the dishes. If we dropped any food on the floor, she would dutifully help clean up the mess. She would struggle to get up on the couch so she could get pets or perhaps snuggle a bit.

When she got sick, we thought it was just a passing thing. She has skipped a day or two of eating before. But she seemed to grow progressively worse and it all happened so quickly. When things went really bad, the vet had already left for the day. So, as soon as they were open this morning, we took her for one more car ride.

We sat with her and waited. She had her head on my arm and we cuddled and snuggled waiting for the doctor. His exam confirmed our fears. She had a virulent, fast spreading cancer and was in multi-system failure. Something I had diagnosed last night. We could prolong her suffering or we could hold her gently while she went off to sleep.

We chose the latter and pet her and cooed her and kissed her little head. She peacefully went to sleep and left us to go play with Trip once again. They are chasing each other or maybe they are running side by side, sharing a stick as they pace each other. Maybe they are chasing a squirrel or running in circles through the house.

I hope they both know how much they have meant to us and what a great addition they have been to our lives. And as I picture them now, they are their young, healthy, happy selves, enjoying the sunshine in whatever heaven they now inhabit.

Published today for Really Good Quotes and now, also here.

I am working on a journal experiment where I am writing down three good things that happen each day. They may not be repetitive; I can’t enjoy the same thing each day even though I absolutely do enjoy that first quarter cup of my morning coffee. I sip slowly in order to not burn my mouth and also to savor the waking up feeling as I move into my day.

I’ve only been doing this for a few days and I have no idea if it will improve my overall outlook on life or not. But just to make sure it doesn’t turn me into some cheerful nincompoop who has no discernible judgment, I thought I would counteract the writing by using this space to list some of my pet peeves.

These are in no particular order.

Drivers who want to go five miles under the speed limit who drive right next to other drivers going five miles under the speed limit and thereby block the flow of traffic for all the people who aren’t on their cell phones and are just trying to get to work on time. (It seems to me these people are just pacing each other because neither is really paying attention to their driving.)

People who claim they can drive and talk on cell phones without it making any difference.

Native English speakers who can’t tell the difference between your and you’re and any of the their, there, and they’re options when they write. In this category are the people who use words inappropriately because they really don’t know the meaning of the words they are using. Moot doesn’t mean what you think it does. Mute doesn’t mean that either.

Bike riders should not be weaving across the lanes of traffic, even in residential places. Especially in residential places.

Talking ads on web pages are simply awful. For a while, Wimp.com had a talking spot on pages with videos. The ads talked on top of the video you came to see. Really, really stupid and annoying. At work, I have the speakers turned off so I don’t get caught out by talking ads while I’m eating my lunch.

Why do skeins of yarn have that clump of stuff at the beginning and you can’t find the starting place? They make the tail end look like it is going to help, but it’s a trick. You have to de-gut the skein and have yarn all over the place. Years ago, you could actually start a skein of yarn without this problem, so I know there is a fix for this.

Screaming kids who sound like they are being murdered irritate me no end. I hated it when my kids did it and it would make my heart miss a beat when I heard them. Now, random screamers live near me and it is just as disenchanting as it was then, except I don’t really get the heart missing a beat thing, thank goodness. I’m really too old for that. Why do kids love to scream like that?

I’m irritated by people who don’t do their job. Laura forgot to send papers to my husband because she was either distracted, busy, or more likely just lazy (never incur the wrath of a writer) – and as a result, we aren’t getting his pension this month. We won’t ever get that back, so her inability to do her job as it should be done has cost us one month’s pension payout and I can only hope that Karma works and she gets to have some of this “help” when she gets ready to leave the work world.

In the US we have tamper resistant tops on many of our consumable goods. They came about after someone put poison in Tylenol bottles. These tops are meant to keep me safe and they also serve to keep random people from taking stuff out of the bottles. In fact, they keep the purchaser from getting things out of the bottles, too. It is my belief that all these protective seals should come with a safe and easy way to remove them. I know it is possible as my mustard comes with a removable seal. The millimeter tabs aren’t effective and need to be updated. In this same category are the huge plastic, rip-your-hands-to-shreds covering that make it difficult for people to steal small items. I understand theft is a problem in retail establishments. Why this should cause me such pain is a question I can’t answer. Also, in this same category – why do the US postal service, UPS, and FedEx have containers that make shipping possible but make it so difficult to actually access the shipped products? Sealing all the edges with superglue isn’t helpful to the recipient.

I love the written word. I am fascinated by words. I love the way they flow together. I am frankly, obsessed with words. I try to proofread even email and Facebook posts before hitting the send button. And yet, there are often errors. I hate that. I read and reread these writing before I send them out and still errors pop up. I always feel so dang stupid when I see the glaring proofs of my idiocy.

I know that many of my issues come about because the world does not behave as I think it should. I have no idea where the premise for how the world should work comes from. I know I would be more content and less peeved if I could let these shoulds all slip away. The world works as the world works. My desires are only my whims and do not have any bearing on reality. I really should let them go.