Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Here We Are

Ten years ago, I added Toni Morrison’s words to my photo of bleeding heart vine. The words captured my emotions in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The flower?  Well, all of our hearts were bleeding.

Ten years later, here we are . . . again . . . and sadly, we are all too familiar with the routine from the people who are actually in a position to do something but who openly choose not to.

I’ve heard many people say they have no words to describe what is a regular occurrence in this country. Well, I have words — plenty of them, as you can only imagine.

The nation and families are still mourning the victims of the Buffalo, NY, supermarket shooting, and here we are again — mourning the murder of children in school. On top of this are the victims of gun violence who don’t make the news, the ones who are killed on a daily and nightly basis, the ones who don’t get their own theme music on the news and hashtag-insert location-strong paraphernalia.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t working. We all know it. It’s said so often — a throwaway line — that the phrase is watered down, a cliche. We need action and policy and change . . . but where to begin?

I’m not an expert on policy and law, but . . . How about creating a national gun policy? How about closing gun ownership loopholes? How about reining in gun shows and online purchases of ammo and gear? How about getting lobbyists and corporate money out of politics? How about holding our elected officials accountable and voting them out for failing to protect our collective right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? (Note: I haven’t mentioned one thing about taking away Second Amendment rights.)

I don’t want to be (nor do I want you to be) a sitting duck in a shooting arcade . . . or a church, supermarket, school, movie theater, cafeteria, military base — the list goes on.

I also don’t want us to be numb. When future shootings happen — and they wilI, perhaps tomorrow, maybe next week — I don’t want us to shrug and say, “What can you do? It happens.” That’s the equivalent of stepping over the bodies and the carnage to get on with our own lives.

We cannot and should not get on with our lives when so many — too  many — will never be able to.

When I worked in a school, we practiced regular lockdown drills and instructions on what to do in the event of an active shooter in the building. Close and lock the door, shut off the lights, pull down the window shades, help students make a barricade against the door, huddle with the students in a corner. (Note: Books about two mommies, two daddies, addressing different family structures, and using the word “gay” does not cause trauma in children. Witnessing the shooting deaths of their friends and teachers, and then stepping over their bodies, does.)

When I worked in the nursery of a national box store, employees received regular training on what to do in case of an active shooter. These are lessons I carry with me whenever I’m anywhere — be aware of the exits so I can run to safety; if I’m trapped, find a safe hiding place; if my safe place is in danger, what can I use to defend myself and fight back.

This is not a normal way to live. This should never be a normal way to live. Yet, here we are.

I’m sorry for this rant, but I’m tired. We’re all tired. I’m tired of writing letters to and calling my senators, representatives, and governor. I’m tired of their canned responses and carefully crafted words and their inability and/or unwillingness to actually do what they were elected to do. I’m tired of them doing whatever the highest donors request. I’m tired of them focusing on divisive politics, while ignoring the very real-life problems that are impacting all of us every single day. (Note: I’m also tired that taking away a woman’s health choice has a higher priority than the massacre of living, breathing children.)

We need each other. We need each other. We need each other — because there may/will come a day when we find ourselves standing near one another at restaurant or in a mall, when a gunman walks in and starts shooting. When this happens, we’re going to look at one another, grab one another’s hand, and run to safety or find a hiding place until law enforcement arrives. If the shooter enters our hiding place, we are going to fight back . . . together.

No offense, but this is not how I want to meet you. There are so many other, more pleasant ways I’d like to meet you . . . in your garden or a nursery, at a flower show or botanical garden, here in the blogging world or there on the street.

Again, I apologize for the rant and for sounding defeatist and cynical — but I’m disgusted. I’m sad. I’m angry.

How much longer do we ignore the idea that we are all expendable, that we are collateral damage so politicians can continue to fund their campaigns with dollars from the gun lobby? How many more people have to die? How many more times do we experience a tragedy and offer the same do-nothing response? If that’s not an idiocracy, I don’t know what is.

So, here we are. Again.

Please, keep yourselves and your loved ones safe — and please vote. It’s the only weapon we have.

Does Spring Fever Exist In South Florida?

As I write this, I’m sitting on the patio by the pool, enjoying one of the last cold fronts to reach all the way down the Florida peninsula. The temperature is hovering around 80 degrees and there’s a coolness on the breeze.

It’s delightful! It’s the most perfect spring day in May — make that the most perfect northern spring day in May, because this is March in Florida.

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Sunflowers For Ukraine

This isn’t the post I wanted to share today, the one I was hoping would end my writing slump — but the situation in Ukraine is occupying all of my thoughts and a frivolous post is impossible now.

Like many of you, I am deeply saddened and angered by the Russian invasion, an action that has destabilized a world that still hasn’t shaken off COVID. Quite frankly, hasn’t the world had enough? Haven’t we all had enough?

On Facebook, I’m in a group called “View From My Window.” In the past two weeks, so many people from Kyiv and other areas of Ukraine have shared their city and country window views. What they’ve shared is beautiful. What they’ve shared are their lives.

Equally touching are the comments from around the world, all expressing concern and hope and prayers.  The photos, though, have made the war more personal because these are real people with real lives. Now, I am consumed with thoughts of strangers who shared their photos — ordinary people who are, in so many ways, just like me, just like you, just like us.

In my opinion, the vast majority of people in the world want nothing more than to wake up peacefully, go to work, bring their children to playgrounds, walk their dogs, plant something on their terraces or in their gardens, enjoy a delicious meal, laugh with family and friends, watch some television, and go to sleep with thoughts that tomorrow they will be able to do the same.

They do not want war. No one wants war.

Yet, here we are. Again. It seems the decision to go to war is always made behind closed doors by people — usually men — who have nothing to lose. Those with everything to lose are the innocents in harm’s way.

It’s as journalist Walter Cronkite once said, “War itself is, of course, a form of madness. It’s hardly a civilized pursuit. It’s amazing how we spend so much time inventing devices to kill each other and so little time working on how to achieve peace.”

I’m not sure how to end this post, other than to say I recently learned the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine — and so I have filled this post with some of my sunflower photos. Some were spotted in a field, and others I’ve grown over the years.

I’ve read the sunflower was given this distinction in Ukraine because it represents power, strength, and warmth — three traits that can just as easily describe a people. Each sunflower here is a small token of support for the gardeners and all people of Ukraine.

Please, stay safe. The whole world is with you.

Repost: And So This Is Christmas

I used to love the news. Over the past several years, though, I’ve found that it brings me more stress and anxiety than information. As a result, I’ve done my best to avoid it. Every so often, though, a news story breaks through my wall — and one such item was the recent school shooting in Oxford, MI, which — according to CBS News — was the 28th school shooting of 2021. (There were 10 in 2020. Thank you, COVID.)

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Twenty Years Ago & Today

I placed September 11 on a shelf twenty years ago, and I have tried very hard to keep it there over the past two decades. The news media, though, have other ideas to force me to take it out and relive it. Because this is a major anniversary, they have uncovered new angles, new footage, and new ways of delivering this nightmare — and I understand why. We’re not supposed to forget.

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