Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Art in The Haight

I need color in my life.  I need expressions of opinion emblazoned on street corners. I need some San Francisco and I need it now.  So, while my brain reels and my hip aches, my mind and I are puttin' some flowers in our hair.

We're hanging in The Haight. 
Years ago,  G'ma and Daddoooo stayed at this hotel, at the entrance to Golden Gate Park, with The Haight up behind them.  
 "It was different," was as judgmental as they got.
I'd have to agree.  we've got nothing like this in Tucson.
Who needs neon, anyway?
I love that the temporary fence on the right has decorations, too.
 For a moment, from the back seat of our Zip Car, those two under the OPEN sign looked real.
Are there words in there?  Action figures?  The aftermath of an explosion?
Some of it was creepy, but there was a line outside this pancake house in spite of the ghoul on the wall.
The political graffiti was inspiring. 
This woman with the sign in her face was much loved in the neighborhood...
or so said the wall.
Even the pocket parks are fun.
Don't get me wrong.
I love Tucson.
It's just that sometimes, every once in a while, when the mood strikes,
only San Francisco will do.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Chilling Effect

There were protests in front of my Senator's offices on Saturday - here in Tucson and up in Phoenix.  I planned to attend.  I really and truly did.  I debated driving to the State Capitol and joining my voice with others right there in the heart of the decision making process.  HB 2455 is on the Governor's desk right now.  It guts local gun buy back programs, requiring all turned in weapons to be resold to the public.  States Rights have taken on a whole new meaning here in Arizona; this bill trumps local control and gives the state the right to dictate to municipalities.  Don't worry if it's confusing to you.  Just imagine the brain whiplash we residents face every day.

I wanted to be there to lend my voice; something was holding me back. I told myself it was the long drive, the desire to spend the day with high school friends who were reuining by a pool in Scottsdale, the fact that no one could tell me if there would be security.... and that's where I stopped.

I drove to the event at Senator Flake's office here in Tucson, planning to join the citizens gathered to make their voices heard. His office sits in the back of a small complex, hidden from the street, facing the mountains.  The protesters were massed along Oracle Road, SR 77, the main drag between Tucson and Phoenix before I-10 was constructed.  It's a busy street, a through street, a venue with many cars zooming by and, as far as I could see from inside The Schnozz, a place with no police presence at all.

I couldn't make myself pull into the parking lot and join the party.

It felt too vulnerable, too exposed, too close to someone driving by who might disagree and choose to share that opinion with weaponry.  It was unlikely, I knew, but then, again, so was getting shot in front of a grocery store on a sunny Saturday morning.  These things happen. I know.  I was there.

One of the signs encouraged me to Honk if you ... and I did.  Tentatively, at first, I beeped a little beep.  As if by magic, smiles erupted on the faces of the protesters.  The signs began pumping up and down, left and right, and, encouraged by their response, I beeped again.. and again... and then I laid my palm on my horn and screamed along with The Schnozz.

It wasn't much.  It was all I could do.  Standing out there on the street, exposed and vulnerable, was more than I could manage.  I knew that.  Somehow, though, the feeling that I'd failed the cause stuck with me all day.

I lifted weights, I swam, I read another silly book on the Kindle, I ignored day 999 of the NFL draft.  The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the trees were flush with yellow blooms, and I was bummed.  I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd let people down.

JannyLou and Fast Eddie suggested that we share a quick and simple dinner that night.  We met at Five Guys, the cleanest, quickest, tastiest burger-and-fries joint in town.  JannyLou's special ordered fries - extra crispy, light salt - didn't look much different from my regular order; she accepted the teasing with her usual grace and grin.  We talked about the newly-weds and our summer travel plans and women who'd worked at Cummins Engine and the little boy with the very big pout who was sitting behind me.  JannyLou had us in stitches, mimicking the protrusion of his lower lip and the tears standing in his eyes.  The sun was casting a yellow glow on the mountains, my sweetie and my friends were around me, my belly was full and the Coca-Cola refills were free.  We sat for a long time, the staff offering to refill our drinks and smiling at us. Life was good.

The door opened.  A thirty something couple walked in, she in stripes, he wearing a polo shirt and pressed shorts... and a holstered handgun on his hip.

I can really move when I want to.

"Can we go? Right now? That guy has a gun."

TBG didn't hear my words.  All he saw was the back of his wife as I headed for the exit, my eyes never leaving the black leather covering a weapon on the butt of a smirking, well-dressed, young fool.

He found me outside, huddled behind a concrete pillar, just like the one Christina-Taylor and I were leaning against when the bullets started flying two years ago.  I didn't know where to stand. My eyes were everywhere, looking for exits, for safety, for an escape.

"This is what it looks like when my head explodes," was all that I could say when they reached me.

He was swaggering as he entered the storefront.  He was watching the reactions of the patrons.  His eyes followed me out the front door.  His smile never left his face. It was awful.  It was juvenile, it was a punk using a gun to feel like a big man, the words TBG spit out as he tried to calm me down. It's a real, valid reaction, he went on.  I had no reason to be ashamed or surprised. No one was angry at my quick departure.  No one but me.

The manager joined us on the sidewalk after a moment.  "Is everything all right?" he wondered.  I told him why I'd fled the scene, and wondered why Five Guys didn't have a No Guns Allowed sign on the front door.  A kind and wise fellow, he paused, thought about it, and told me that he didn't know.  "We should.  I'll talk to management.  You don't really need a gun to buy a burger, do you?"

No, you don't.

And I don't need to be in that bright and cheery burger joint when you get into an argument with someone over peanuts or ketchup or politics and bullets start flying because you have a gun on your hip and you can use it, instead of your words, to solve your problems.

Yes, we have the right to carry a weapon here in Arizona.  You can take a concealed firearm into a church or a bar or a restaurant or a car wash or a drug store or anywhere else ... as long as there's not a sign telling you not to do so. I know that, knew that when we chose to move here, haven't forgotten it. But I tend to agree with Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign, quoted in the Huffington Post:
"If you want to dress up and go out and make a little political theater by frightening children in the local Starbucks, if that's what you want to spend your energy on, go right ahead. But going out and wearing a gun on your belt to show the world you're allowed to is a little juvenile."

I didn't feel safer knowing that a patron was armed and ready to defend me.  No, safer is about as far from what I felt as it's possible to be. The presence of weaponry, the very real fear of being shot while standing on the street corner, holding a sign, making my voice heard... I spent Saturday being afraid to do what I wanted to do.

Where does my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness fall in all of this?  It was certainly abridged on Saturday.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Invading My Personal Space

A friend screeched.  Her mother-in-law had been driving her crazy, but this morning, in the shower, the events of the past week or so smacked her right in the face - her razor was wet, and her MIL's fingerprints were all over it.

"Freakin' G-to the-R-to-the OSS!" 

We all have our boundaries.  The razor snatching wouldn't have bothered me; I'd have changed the blade and gone on with my day.  But my fences aren't her fences, and she's over the top annoyed. I'm not judging; I'm sympathizing.

One of the first boundaries I set when we were married was the sanctity of my toothbrush.  Yes, we shared bodily fluids in many ways, but not that way.  Not with my teeth, with my paste, with my bristles.  No way.  No how.  Never.

My new husband shrugged his shoulders and agreed.  He thought I was strange, but it wasn't worth an argument.  That's the way it's been for the last 37 years or so; I'm odd and he brushes it off.  It works for us.

My heart goes out to my razor-intruded friend, though.  Having house guests is always stressful.  Knowing that they are attached by blood to your family, that you have to make allowances if you want to keep the spouse, only adds to the frustration.  Please don't empty my dishwasher... I'll only spend two weeks looking for the measuring cup you put away where it seemed to you that it should live.  Did you forget that it was my house?  That's about as stressful as my relationship with my MIL ever got, but that measuring cup was lost for much longer than it needed to be.  If only she'd listen.

My friend's MIL doesn't listen.  She drives her B*A*T*S**T crazy.  She used to live far, she's planning to live near, and it's only going to get worse.  Setting limits from the outset was the best advice I could offer.  Don't offer a key to your house.  Ask that visitors call before they arrive.  "Sometimes, I like to be naked when I clean house," might be a good image to put into the intruder's mind.  I can't imagine that even the nosiest of in-laws would want to walk in on a sweaty naked daughter-in-law who's up to her elbows in soap suds.

It helps to have the spouse on board when establishing limits.  No one ever won by getting between a man and his mother... or a man and his wife.  Not that winning is the ultimate goal.  Surviving is enough, sometimes.

When my father arrived ten days before he was expected, just two days after we'd brought Big Cuter home from the hospital, I told him he could come for dinner but not stay the night.  We were just getting used to being a three-some; I wasn't prepared to entertain a fourth.  He joined us for a meal, we shared the champagne he offered, and then he found a motel for the evening. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done... and the most rewarding.  We never had an issue after that.  He respected that we were adults, that we had made plans, that he was just one of the many moving pieces that now made up our family.

For my dad, who rarely acknowledged that others existed, it was an epiphany.  For me, too.

It's easier said than done.  It's often judged by outsiders.  But knowing where the edges are, where your space begins and my space ends, is part and parcel of family life.  I hope my girlfriend can find her boundaries before she falls over the edge.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bad Books... and lots of them

(If you are one of the nine people who read this yesterday before I realized that it wasn't supposed to be posted until today, I'm sorry.  If you click here, you can ready my rant on Senator Jeff Flake, which ran after this post yesterday.Sorry....)

I won my Kindle Fire.  I'd never considered buying one.  I'd railed about it here and in private.  I like books, real, hold in my hand, turn the pages myself, paper books.  I used the infernal machine for game playing and minor-web-searches on the couch, but never for reading.  Reading demanded covers, a binding, print on a page.  Reading was not pixels.

After I conquered my addiction to the gaming feature, I deleted them from the device's memory and began using it to read Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series while my boys watched football over Big Cuter's winter vacation.  There was no need to run to the library or the bookstore; with a little bit of pressure and heat from my finger, the next installment in the series was available in my hands. I was hooked.

Hearing of my delight at having new material available in an instant, one friend told me about BookBub and another about BookGorilla. Two surveys later, I was on their mailing lists. Now, every morning brings me offers of literary treasures for $3.99 and $2.99 and $0.99.  I manage to resist every one of them.  But, hidden within those same emails are my treasures; some of the titles are available for free.  Actually, they are available for FREE! and that's an offer I can't seem to refuse.

Regular readers may have noticed that the sidebar hasn't been updated in quite a while.  That's because the books I've devoured recently are electronic 0's and 1's.  They live in my Kindle, not on my desktop.  There are no bindings with titles reminding me of their presence and urging me to enter them and then put them on a shelf or return them to the library or resell them at Bookmans.  No, there is only the carousel of my Kindle, filled with titles I've long forgotten, with stories that have blended together into a delightful soup of unlikely detectives and villains and scientists and secret agents and Army Rangers roiling around in my head.

I have been able to put some limits on myself.  I resist the romances and the pseudo-scientific exposes.  I won't opt for the second or fourth in a series; as my experience with Kate Shugak proves, if I like the first volume I'll happily purchase the other nineteen in the series.  I'm not sure about the logic of offering a middle-of-the-series title for free.  I've been thinking about it a lot, and it makes no sense to me.  There are so many other books to click.

Amazon sends me a lovely Thank You! email after I've moved the code to my own little piece of the cloud; I've learned to download only the one I am currently reading.  That's the best way to remember which one it is, I'm sorry to say.  This afternoon I was certain that the main character was a Marine, not a Ranger.  It took me a while to figure out that the Marine was in yesterday's opus; the current hero was a Ranger.

This is what happens when you read a lot of not-that-great books.

I'm not talking about the ones I've stopped after fifteen pages.  I rarely put down an actual book, but with screen time involved, it's more like changing the channel than abandoning a literary tome.  This actually may be true.  A quick google search of tome finds that this word for a large volume is derived from Latin tomus, from Greek tomos section, roll of papyrus.  Nothing about the content in that context; it's all about the physical form.  I'm not sure what Plato would make of this, but I imagine an afternoon of infuriating questions leaving me, at the end, more confused than ever.  I'll spare you the discourse; just agree with me, okay?

Unreadable prose, bad grammar, nasty characters - one click and they are gone.  But, with all the titles available at my fingertips, I'm finding that I'm spending time with stories I'm barely following.  I'm editing as I go along, instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride.  I smile at how easily I can be amused.  There was something more serious about holding a real book than there is about taking in words from a screen. I'm more willing to put up with dreck, it seems, when it's electronic.

Why?  I have no idea.  I just know that it is true.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He's Not My Senator Any More

Jeff Flake and his wife shared the stage with Gabby Giffords and her husband.  It was the anniversary of the day we were shot.  The mall at the University was transformed into an outdoor cathedral.  The symphony was there.  Calexico was there.  The survivors and the family members were there.  We were united in grief and resolve and remembering.  After the ceremonies, TBG and I went back on stage, so that he could thank Mark Kelly for the kindnesses he'd shown us in the hospital, all those months ago.  Right then, it didn't seem like much time had passed at all.  It was recent.  It was real.

While the guys were talking, I was taking pictures.  Mrs. Flake and Ms. Giffords were trying to get a picture of themselves by holding a cell phone at arms length.  You know that shot; you've probably taken dozens of them, yourself.  They were happy to accept my offer of help, and that was how I came to take several pictures of two couples who were friends. Arms around each other, shoulders crashing, smiles plastered on faces that also revealed the scars of the past year.  It was comic relief, it was a welcome slip into the every day, it was healing.  The four of them might have come from different ends of the political spectrum, but the Flakes were there to support the Kelly's, and I was there to record it for posterity.

I saw them together.  I watched him hold her hand; a comforting gesture from one who'd been behind the scenes in the State Legislature with her, from one who knew her, who liked her, who cared for her.  I believed it, then.  It was, I thought, a harbinger of things to come.


Last week, Gabby's friend voted to quash the background checks, to allow assault rifles and extended magazines, to maintain the status quo.  He did this despite the fact that 90% of his constituents favor background checks.

Who does he represent?  He certainly doesn't represent me.  Of the twenty-some phone calls I made last Wednesday, Senator Flake's office was the only one whose voice mail was full... from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon.  I sent an email, again.  I really wanted to talk to a staffer but that was not to be.  I sent another email.  I'm still waiting for a reply.

Normally, I wouldn't expect a quick response.  Senators are busy people, after all.  But I received replies from other offices I contacted.  They were quick notes, "thanks for your comments" kind of things, but they were an acknowledgment that my views had been noted.  If Senators from other states can let me know they've heard me, I think it's reasonable to feel slighted by my own elected official.

Not that a response would necessarily be honest, or truthful.  Just look at this letter Senator Flake sent to Caren Teves, whose son died in Aurora:
There it is, at the end of the third paragraph: strengthening background checks is something we agree on. Probably not so much any more, I guess.

Is he representing the people who put him in office?  Of course.  Is he representing all of Arizona?  I don't think so.  Has he left us stranded on the political sidewalk, watching him vote away that which we'd worked so hard to achieve?  Seems like it.  Is he confident that we will have forgotten this little brouhaha by the time his re-election campaign comes around?  Perhaps.

I think he'll be surprised.  We are not going away.  We are not relinquishing our anger.  We will be represented.... by someone who listens and speaks the truth, by someone on whom we can count, by someone who knows what friendship means.

He didn't mind sharing the spotlight with Gabby and Mark in 2012.  I wonder how he's enjoying it right now.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Am I Blue?

Lauren Bacall has been in my head all day.
It's a Billie Holliday tune I first heard in this Hoagy Carmichael rendition in To Have and Have Not, probably my all-time favorite Bogey and Bacall film.  The words of the song (a man who's done her wrong) don't have anything to do with my funk..... or do they?  I'll let you decide after you finish this.

The events of last week blew up in my head last night.  For no reason on God's green earth, I decided to be furious with my boys for talking about the NBA on our usual, Sunday night, phone call.  I could feel the rage boiling up inside.  Little bits and pieces emerged first; head shaking, muttering, mumbling got no response.  I made my feelings known, fury was unleashed, anger unfurled, accusations hurled.  I was outside looking in, as my mouth was spewing vitriol.

Such is life with PTSD.  It appears randomly, set off by loud noises or skinny white boys in hoodies, or with a definite cause, like Senators who don't represent me, like stumbling unwittingly onto a picture of carnage, like watching a young man mourn the loss of his town, his friends, his co-workers, his home.  Whatever the origin, the results are invariably the same. One of us is screeching while the other stands there, bombarded by nastiness.  

It's the most out of control I've ever felt.  I knew I was creating chaos where sunshine and laughter had existed a moment before.  I was incapable of stopping myself.  It was just there, a burning triangle resting on my breastbone, pulsing and growing hotter with every passing moment.  It was fueling the darts flashing from my eyes, spurring me on to an anger I didn't know existed within my soul.  

Poor TBG was on the receiving end.  Rightfully, he was furious.  This came from nowhere and it felt awful.  He did the only prudent thing - he fled the scene.  

Once the major explosion passed, my insides and my outsides became one, again.  My heart was not filled with fury; it was ripped raw by the passion of what had come before.  It's a physical ache and an emotional ache and it's an awful, empty, hollow, lonely place that's left behind.  I took responsibility for the attack, I agreed with TBG that certain things should not be foisted upon those who care for us, who have our backs, who are there when we need them the most.  I know that.  PTSD seems not to care.  

Apologies accepted, hugs exchanged, tears wiped and noses blown, the evening was a series of What brought that on? conversations.  It was hard for me to concentrate on the triggers; my soul was bruised.  I don't like being mean to the people I love.... and I include myself in that group.  I spent the night trying to forgive myself for breaking apart.  PTSD respects no boundaries, pays no attention to what is needed in the long run.  When it's ready to explode, it explodes.

Living with that fury is, perhaps, the hardest part of recuperating.  I can predict that my hip will hurt after two hours in a restaurant chair.  I know that my body will rebel if I take a day away from my rehab routine.  Without analgesics, it is a certainty that my parts will begin a conversation with my nervous system.  These are things I can anticipate, things I can expect, things I can control.  PTSD is another ball of wax, entirely.

I thought I was doing fairly well last week. I took action and encouraged others to do the same. That's always my first step; "What do you think we can do about that?" was my go-to query as a practicing social worker.  I surrounded myself with those I love.  I participated in activities and exercised and read and wrote and through it all, beneath it all, behind it all, bile was building up.

I was snippy for no reason and, when asked about it, I turned the other cheek and agreed that I'd misinterpreted the situation.  That went on, intermittently, all weekend.  Should I have seen the ultimate blow-up in these mini-attacks that preceded it? I didn't.

Instead, I shrieked and sobbed and admitted aloud what I'd been holding in all week - I am very, very sad.  I spent the week watching my friends lobby Congress, telling their stories and achieving nothing. I knew I was not ready to join them in D.C. Somehow, I thought that by keeping my distance and reducing my activities to phone calls and emails and blog posts I would be protected from the emotional baggage they carry as they walk the halls of the Senate.  Turns out, that was a false assumption.  I had my own sorrows to add to their frustrations. In its own way, it was overwhelming enough.

Athletes were blown up and another slightly built young man will spend forever in a cell and the whole thing is living in my head.  I avoided the graphic images... and was blindsided by Sports Illustrated's photo of a man with severed limbs.  I'd love to close my eyes and see something else, but I can't rid myself of the picture.  Worse, it sends me back to my own hospitalization, to the pain and the fear and the immense sadness. I'm not sure where to stash these thoughts.  My head is, suddenly, not big enough to encompass them.

I'm not alone in this funk.  TBG is walking around with a dazed look in his eyes, too. Sometimes, the world is just too much.  Am I blue?  You betcha.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

I needed a break from all the sadness, all the disappointment, all the horror.

I opened Sports Illustrated and saw a picture of a man in a wheelchair, with bloody bones hanging below his kneecaps.  I'm sure I was meant to concentrate on the heroes pushing him and staunching his bleeding, but those missing limbs are imprinted on my brain, two days later, as I type to you.

The barely-30-something EMT from West, Texas, is living in my head, too. 
He "lost everything - "friends, home, everything" - in an explosion in a place with no zoning.
Honestly, would you put a middle school or a care home within spitting distance of a fertilizer factory?
The town's volunteer fire fighters ran toward the burning building.... and then it exploded, taking them with it.
My first cousin is a volunteer firefighter, has been since he was a teenager.  He tells me that I am a hero for taking three bullets and surviving.  I always counter with "But you run into burning buildings - You are the hero."  I've never felt it as strongly as I have this week.

JannyLou and Fast Eddie have been checking in all week, wondering if we are doing any better than they are. I can't say that the answer is clear to me, even now.  I have low-lying anxiety around the edges of my consciousness.  Little Cuter has been checking in a little more frequently.  Big Cuter is posting about my being shot on Facebook.  There is healing, but there is no escape.

What to do?
 I go to the garden.
Now, after last week's disappointments and disasters, I need some peace.

The daminita bloom without much prompting.
Now that I've learned how to prune them, they are regaining their rounded shapes.
TBG notes that they are encroaching on the walkway, but he'll just have to live with it.
I'm still working on getting it to fill in the holes on the top.

The aloes don't need much help, either. 
This one lives on the side of the house, and has irrigation.
 This one lives under the big palo verde, and gets no irrigation at all.
They are different species of the same plant and they both seem to love my desert dirt.
Even better, they send out shoots which can be transplanted.
It's too bad that last winter's freeze killed those babies.
Next year, I will remember to cover them up; I'm saving old sheets for just that occasion.

The hesperaloe are sending up their stalks, again without much help at all.
That cholla to the left is a volunteer which is enjoying the little bit of irrigation that flows to its neighbor.
I love it when a plan comes together, even if it's nature's plan and not mine.

The intermittent but strong storms we had this winter fed the ocotillo and the palo verde.
 Though I like the orange through the yellow, the blossoms are even more spectacular when isolated.

The cacti aren't far behind this season.
I have all sorts of prickly pear colors in the yard.
 The ground squirrels climb up the pads and decapitate the spent pods.
There's a lot of fine dining going on underground these days.
I'm watching them carry the tunas into their holes as I type.

The trichocerus I planted last year is blooming with a vengeance.
This is what it looked like yesterday afternoon.
This is what greeted JannyLou and me this morning.

The bearded iris rhizomes I smuggled in from California have never done anything.....
until this year.  I guess it took them a while to get used to the new dirt.  I'm feeling pretty smug; I managed to plant them right outside my desk window; I see them all day, every day. Now, when Artess tells me the clematis she inherited when I moved is climbing her trellis, I can look at these iris and not feel so bereft.  Gardening in Marin was heavenly.......
and things actually grew.

Long time readers may remember the oleander that would not die... but would not grow, either.
I transplanted it two years ago, and my patience has, finally, been rewarded.
There are small white buds just waiting to burst forth.
Gardening is not for those without faith.

I did some work on the containers, too.  
Pictures of the finished product will follow, once the blooms hit their peak.
For now, I leave you with a chuckle.

Carting my supplies from the car to the courtyard has been an issue since my hip was shattered.  
I've used a dolly (too low), a wheelbarrow (too ungainly to remove from the shed), and Elizibeth's strong back for the last two years, but this week I realized that G'ma's wheelchair, sitting in the corner of the garage while it awaits our next grand adventure, makes the perfect shlepper.
I can even use it as a chair
or as a pouring spout.
Happy Earth Day, Denizens!
Go out and plant a tree!

Friday, April 19, 2013

What You Can Do With The Next Five Minutes

It's hard to write about the mundane.  The world is going through one of those what's next moments, and my posts on what I've planted and what I've seen and what I've read just don't seem to rise to the occasion.

So, I'd like to ask you to take the time you'd usually spend reading The Burrow and contact your Senators.

Applaud them, chastise them, make your voices heard.

If you want a script, click here.

Thanks.  I won't take up any more of your time.

How they voted on Wednesday:

Yeas (54)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del.
Sen. William "Mo" Cowan, D-Mass.
Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D.N.H.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Nays (46)
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.*
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
*Reid voted no as a procedural move so that he would retain the ability under Senate rules to bring up the measure again should supporters believe they've mustered enough votes to secure passage.
Source: U.S. Senate

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Patricia Maisch, my hero once again, said it best .... and the Capitol police escorted her out of the gallery for saying it. "Shame on you!" she hollered from her seat, looking down on the Senators who closed the door on sensible background check legislation, legislation that is supported by 90% of the American populace.

In some sense, this is probably the most energizing event that could have come our way. My phone, my email, my Facebook are lit up with outrage. Big Cuter says that "Patty really needs to be the poster hero to disprove the nonsensical NRA jingle that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". I'm pretty sure this was the case of a "good grandmother with her gumption stopping a bad guy with a gun".

But that's trying to find the silver lining in what is a very dark cloud.  I overheard this today, and, though it's crass, I can only hope it's true:  "If the image of twenty, dead, white, six year olds isn't enough to move them, this is not a group that can expect to be reelected."  

I can barely formulate coherent thoughts.  I spent the morning on the phone with Senate staffers.  Ayotte, Coburn, Flake, Heitkamp.... they all heard my spiel.  Standing 10' from your Senator's former colleague.... holding the hand of my 9 year old friend.... our shooter's information was never entered into an accessible data base.... if you have the strength to vote your conscience it will be remembered at election time.... we are not going away.  Most of them thanked me and hung up the phone. 

But some of them were really listening.  I could hear the intake of breath as I told my story, quickly, tersely, pulling no punches.  Those staffers got the second tier: Gabe Zimmerman was doing your job that Saturday morning.  Now, he has a trailhead, a bust, a room with his name on it, and a headstone.... while you have a career.  Ask your Senator to look you in the eye and tell you why she won't vote for a bill that would have kept Gabe safe.... that will keep you safe.

Was I hitting below the belt?  Big Cuter, often my sharpest critic when it comes to others receiving an unadulterated dose of his mother, paused, and said, with a rueful laugh, "really, though, it's all true and they need to hear it."

Yes, they do.  
So that no one else's son ever has to post this on Facebook:

If you are represented by any of these Senators, and believe that the world would be a better place if my mom had never been shot, I'd ask you to vote your craven, bought and paid for "representative" out of office when next given the chance
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)

Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Golden Gate Park

Every city has its oddities. 
San Francisco has bison
They live in Golden Gate Park, just beyond the windmill. 
Yes, there's a windmill... actually, there are two windmills... at the ocean end of Golden Gate Park.
It's a wonderfully San Francisco kind of place.
 Look at that map. 
Those are road, and lakes, and polo fields.
There are swales for picknicking and trails for running.
There are trees to be admired and blossoms to be smelled.
Even the weeds made me smile.
Sitting on a bench,

watching the world go by, with this as the backdrop,
 we took pictures of all sorts of different kinds of humans, with their cameras, making memories for them to take home. We watched doggies drink from their own sized fountain
and watched TBG wash bird poop off his leg.
We were amazed by the bubbles these people were creating.
I, of course, have plans to replicate this.
I paid close attention to their technique.
 No matter how old you are, 
it's still fun to see if the balloon will make it all the way across the road without bursting.
Directly across Spreckles' Lake were these two gentlemen.
They were using remote control to maneuver their sailboats .
It was mindlessly peaceful to watch. 
 As the world seems to descend deeper and deeper into a morass of horrible, loud noises,
turn off the news reports and 
sit beside us,
on the bench.
It's a lovely place to be.