Addressed to chill

flying into Athens

Landing in Frankfurt airport one summer during high school, we suddenly realized we had dropped into the midst of menacing signs and barked warnings about terror threats and hijackings. That was my first brush with extreme force. Later, visiting Brazil, I ran into it again as military police, in full regalia, seemed to be posted on every corner. Then, Geoffrey and I went on what was supposed to be a romantic trip to Greece. It was one of the most beautiful countries I had ever seen on approach. Emerging in Athens, however, we entered a completely different world. Everywhere we looked, there were tall, green-eyed soldiers in uniform, with formidable machine guns slung over their shoulders. It was frightening and even though I loved Greece, I couldn’t wait to leave, just to get away from those terrifying weapons and the demeanor of the men who wore them.

special police force

Earlier this week, I got an email from the group that is working on behalf of a parent who lost his only child in the Santa Barbara massacre in May.  Essentially it asked me to sign a petition with the words “Not One More” on it and the group would send a postcard on my behalf to Senators Boxer and Feinstein, as well as my local Representative, Buck McKeon. After I filled it out and sent it back, the site asked me if I would post it on Facebook and Twitter, so I thought, why not? and did it.

Now, as some of you who follow me may recall, I am rarely on FB any more.  Last year, when I launched this blog, I had had enough of a particular group of fanatics there that seemed to be posting virtually non-stop.  These were not strangers, these were a good portion of my so-called FB “friends”.

staples

At first, I had been a rather reluctant social media participant because I was concerned about so much personal information being public and available to anyone who cared to use it for good or otherwise. But Geoffrey’s entire family joined FB early on because one of my BILs  always gets to any new internet phenomenon first and the whole enormous group followed his lead.  For once I had beaten him to a different site and I had a Twitter account one week before he did. Thus, no one in his family connected with us via Twitter, because they even had to control the family social platform effort [that’s why I jokingly refer to them as The Firm] and were not about to concede it to me. Geoffrey wants nothing to do with either.  He considers all of it a waste of time.  Fair enough.

When it came to FB however, I  joined when my own cousin started posting pictures of her baby there.  From the very start I felt Twitter would be a safer bet, being restricted to 144 characters – how bad could any post be, right? Who can spit too much venom in so few words, so I jumped in and over the past however many years, developed a following (I have no idea why, since I may Tweet once a month if that).  I have never had a bit of trouble with Twitter.

Not One More Julianne Moore

Facebook has been a different story, however. I immediately received (and sent) the usual invitations among all past acquaintances, and as you know, when you connect with school,  family, and work “friends”, your peeps quickly jump up into the hundreds.  Then you get their stream everyday and in some cases, it seems people are on FB all day, ready to engage. I would only get on from time to time and tended to post about my causes.  I didn’t think it was necessary to use it as a vanity site where I touted every new acquisition or every time I took a new and flattering picture.  So instead, my page was about scientific advances, new research on child development, psychological and psychiatric issues, animal welfare, environmental concerns, food science and the like.

Hitler views the SS

Apparently, that was a mistake.  The first person to unfriend me was a guy in Germany, distantly related to my side of the family.  He is a fierce far right winger and a champion of meat eating — live, if possible.  He couldn’t accept the idea that vegans enjoy a healthy diet and delicious meals, and after a few months of tolerating his rage, he up and left me. There were a few other defections but since we all have so many FB Friends, it is hard to see who leaves unless you make a list and keep checking — uh, I don’t think I have time nor interest. Geoff’s brother left  me because he only wants to be friends with “happy” people. Geoffrey eventually clarified what that means: people who make the BIL happy, i.e., do not discuss anything that disturbs his bubble and certainly nothing  He might construe as bragging or taking pride in anything I have accomplished, as I am outside of the approved family super-stars group (as is Geoffrey).  No worries there.  It actually freed me to post more honestly, knowing that he was not watching.

ja-news_OpenCarryMarch2

Soon enough I found out that a couple of people I went to HS with, and their kids and friends, as well as Geoffrey’s extended family members, were militant gun rights activists and sought any opportunity to take me on whenever I suggested in a post that I believe in gun control.  If I put up a link to an idea for health, education, nutrition, household management, or anything to do with scientific discoveries, I would get a few good friends faving and commenting, little more. But when I shared any progressive idea, campaign or opinion, the response I got was immediate and extremely insulting. Most of all when the issue had anything to do with curbing gun violence or ensuring gun safety.

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Well, back to the tragedy in Santa Barbara and the Not One More campaign.  Within one minute of posting on FB and encouraging others to get on board, the following thread began [click on each “page” separately to enlarge them for legibility, there are three in all]:

Not One More May 2014 page 1Not One More May 2014 page 2Not One More May 2014 page 3

This experience was so unpleasant, and made me feel so defeated in my attempt to do something useful and not self-aggrandizing or trivial on Facebook, that I took it down after a few of my friends left a couple of supportive comments. Several of Geoff’s tea party cousins faved the commenter who was giving me a hard time.  No surprise there — these are a group of people who believe in guns, do not think gun violence is a problem, probably do not own guns themselves and so have no appreciation of how dangerous it is to keep them in the house, especially with children or troubled teens, and are not disturbed seeing the Open Carry movement here gain steam.  I unfriended the so-called “friend” (a resident of my district, who is actually running for state assemblyman) who pounced on my post in the beginning and that will likely be my last post about this issue, if not my last post altogether, on FB.

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MSNBC’s Joy Reid, a Harvard-educated mother of teenage boys, had an interesting editorial comment at the close of one of her shows this week, addressing the Open Carry and Not One More movements.  It was intelligent, calm, and touched on the same points that most of us who are not gun enthusiasts hold as givens.  She cited, among other things, a Huffington Post survey that suggests 55% of Americans do not want guns in restaurants, movie theaters, the mall, the post office, college campuses, elementary schools, theme parks, and the like. She also pointed out that, were the Open Carry movement to be African-American, there would be a hue and cry from the far right that these were “thugs” and that we need to “take back America” from them.

Another point she made is that “wearing” a gun, conveys a threat that all of us react to viscerally, without even thinking about it.  Hence the photos I have shared here. The wearing of long (and large) guns, is not just a manner of conveying almost blatant phallic imagery and thus a potency that these men may not truly feel they have and must feign through these “prostheses”, but is meant to message intimidation, a threat of “or else”. They have gone beyond just sartorial intimidation, in Texas they have massed at Moms Demand Action rallies and attempted to harass and intimidate the women by various means, including rushing up to them and spitting in their faces. That is the only motive, however occult,  I can think of, to explain the ferocity with which they demand the right to bear arms of any size and power, in any location.  While we are on that subject, I am very clear that the Founders meant to arm a local militia (with muskets, a far cry from a Kalashnikov) in the event that the Crown might return and try to retrieve the colonies. They in no way meant for citizens to have dozens of semi-automatic weapons or worse in their homes and to imperil everyone around them with actual or perceived threats of harm or death.

RCMP

Even the NRA is coming to realize that their frankensteins have run amok and are no longer under their control.  After years of extremist rhetoric pandering to the fear and paranoia of a fringe element on the Right, their golden goose has come home to roost.

So, what’s the solution? What can we citizens do?

Let’s start by goosing our gutless Congress to pass sane legislation that defangs these marauding gangs of cowardly bullies, and get our so-called “lawmakers” out from under the grip of ALEC.

Send those Not One More postcards to the people in Washington we are paying to protect us from anarchy. Furthermore, we can refrain from putting more money in the pockets of those politicians, gun lobbies and gun manufacturers in two ways. Never purchasing a firearm ourselves and divesting our 401Ks of gun-related stocks.  This latter tactic helped bring about the end of apartheid in the 1980s, brought the tobacco industry to its knees in the 1990s and can do the same today for gun sanity.  Jennifer Fiore, the founder of UnloadYour401k.com, has provided a way to find out what you own and divest yourself of it. While politicians currently have few disincentives to support the gun industry,  the corporate world responds to reduced revenues, and those who put profits before lives need to be held accountable; here is where you can make a difference by refusing to subsidize gun violence.  Seven major corporations have already taken the lead and had the courage to say no to guns in their establishments.

moms demand action chipotles

In the meantime, I want no part of anything the primary purpose of which is to instill fear, maim, and kill. Long and semi-automatic, large-capacity-magazine guns are for soldiers, not citizens — if they are scary on a trained law enforcement officer, they are many times as frightening in the hands of an unskilled, undisciplined, unstable, trigger-happy fanatic. Again this week, another mass shooting of innocent people on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. When will it end?

What else can we do to protect ourselves? Everyone packing a gun would be chaos and shoot-outs in the street, with countless collateral casualties, that should be obvious to any reasonable person.  Be vigilant: “see something, say something”. Take self-defense classes, don’t walk in dangerous areas, don’t be out late at night, put a good security system in your house, and let law enforcement administer the law, not vigilantes.

Immediate push-back when someone posts any kind of comment on social media, addressing or inferring that gun violence must be curbed or eliminated triggers verbal abuse that is meant to quash the discussion and intimidate the poster, no different than brandishing a long gun in public places would be.  They are meant to stifle dissent, to commandeer the public will, and to force guns on us “or else”.

I am unapologetic in throwing my support behind rational men and women who care above all about the safety of our children. Obscene blood money and false bravado be damned.

Images: airtransat.ca, dailymail.uk, everytown.org, wikimedia commons, austinchronicle.com, nbcnews.com, politic365.com, ourtowntoday.ca, momsdemandaction.org

paw2014-s

 

23 Comments on “Addressed to chill

  1. I believe that we should be allowed to have guns for hunting or protection, however I do not think that civilians need semi automatic weapons, or machine guns or anything like that. And I think that if someone wants to purchase a gun the background check should be much more invasive. If someone has a history of depression or has been taking anti depressants then they shouldnt have a gun. I also think it would help tremendously to stiffen the penalty if you are caught with a gun and you’re not supposed to have one, automatic 5 years in prison. The slaps on the wrist are not preventing people from crime.

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    • Thank you mx4b (sorry, I don’t know your name) for that moderate position. Hunting, we can put aside for now. Extensive, properly conducted back-ground checks would go a long way toward alleviating this growing problem, I agree. Congress has the bill, they are afraid to pass it, because they care more about being re-elected than about safety and sanity. That is where term limits would make a difference.

      On self-protection, I think there is ample evidence to suggest that the idea is sound but the reality contradicts it. People who are only minimally trained in using weapons to deter crime are more likely to harm themselves and others than to prevent or stop violence. Most people surprised in their homes, in the middle of the night, let’s say, are ineffectual against intruders and often end up suffering more dire consequences, either self-inflicted or prompted by the failed attempt to combat the attacker. It would require the same kind of self-defense training that would be effective, minus the use of guns. Ours is the most heavily armed country and has the highest gun violence crime rate, accordingly. They are positively correlated.

      I have lived in both high and low crime areas. I have only had a couple of encounters with potential attackers and in both cases, my self-defense measures protected me completely.

      But the most important point is to get these foolish people, brandishing long guns, off the street. They don’t belong armed this way among the general population. We are embarrassing ourselves by this stupidity.

      I truly appreciate your weighing in here! I know there are many who feel the way you do. 🙂

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  2. Beth, You courageously tackle a contentious issue, in that it deals with a fundamental U.S. constitutional right. Excellent point you’ve made about the “for the purpose of forming a militia” context. I had a similar “This is a bit disturbing” experience the first time I deployed to Sicily and saw Carabinieri armed with sub machine guns.

    While my Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms context argues that there are reasonable limits that a society can place on rights and freedoms (section 1), which argues in support of your position but which may not be relevant in interpreting U.S. constitutional law, I would argue that the wisdom of the U.S. founding fathers should not be lightly set aside.

    If there are reasonable limits to be placed on Americans’ gun ownership and use, should not the same occur for the state? Limiting the size, scope, and firepower of the armed services and police departments and other armed government departments would act to mitigate the argument that the intent of the right to bear arms is a necessary mechanism to counteract the tendency of the state to oppress its citizenry.

    I never have liked FB. I, too, have a reluctance to share too much personal information to the entire world. It just seems to be too narcissistic for my liking, and that is a bit of a sensitive issue with me.

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    • Nav, thank you for this long and thoughtful comment. I need to digest it so my response is in kind.

      I think the State has an obligation to administer the law reasonably and blindly. There are many egregious abuses in this. I think of the “stop and frisk” program in NYC, for example. I think DeBlasio will modify this to bring NY back in line with human rights. I am sorry to say, it got out of control under Giuliani and Bloomberg. But NYC is a tough case and maybe not indicative of the rest of the US.

      As for the Constitution and the Founders – those men were brilliant and for the most part well intended. But we have amendments because they could not foresee every future scenario or condition, in the country, let alone the world. I am convinced they would not approve of Open Carry.

      I believe guns belong in the hands of authorized law enforcement, whether local, state or national, or international, for that matter. I do not believe ordinary citizens have the training nor the thorough research and commitment to responsible use of weapons, to be entrusted with them.

      We are likely very similar in our outlook here, but you are probably more Conservative than I am in the broad political sense (at least as it is defined here in the US, which is not the center of the universe, in my view). I am very conservative in the strict definition of that term, when it comes to giving people free rein to interpret the law as they wish and run out and mete out “justice” according to their own beliefs. That is what the libertarian movement in this country stands for, when you boil it to its essence, and to me that is anarchic. I think it is a poorly conceived, little thought through, false “philosophy” and has been successfully implemented in no state on earth to date.

      We can talk more about this when I have studied your comment in more depth.

      Meanwhile, thank you! 🙂

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  3. Reblogged this on Shouts from the Abyss and commented:
    The topic of guns is on my mind. I can’t imagine why. I found this thoughtful post and did something unusual: I read the whole thing. Agree or disagree, I found the tone reasonable and the arguments compelling, and want to show my support for the causes the author supports. If you are concerned about guns I think it’s worth a read.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read this, comment and reblog it. It is gratifying to hear that I sound reasonable, which is my primary aim in everything I do and write about. Your support in that respect is really helpful and I appreciate it. 🙂

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  4. Beth, This is such a well-reasoned and fair post. Frankly, if we are required to study, take a test and have legal limits to get behind the wheel of car, it boggles my mind that we are not required to have stringent background checks and training before we are allowed to purchase weapons that can kill. Just as driving is not a right, it is a privilege, so is gun ownership.

    Yes, I know what the wording of the Constitution says – but as Christians study the exegesis of the Bible (critical explanation in relation to the historical relevance), we must look at the historical significance of the second amendment. Those who insist it is a right fail to read the remainder of the second amendment, which states, “…a public allowance under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”

    Gun owner proponents forget about the “due restrictions,” and seem to ignore that the purpose was to “restrain the violence of oppression,” under which the people who formed the Constitution had just emerged. It was not about individual self-defense, but state’s defense against colonialism.

    Either way, selling assault rifles in department stores without checks and balances is simply wrong; it must be stopped.

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  5. First off, Susan: amen. Your analysis is so astute and original. I am glad to have it here for those who need to see it, to do so. Thank you!

    Second, the SCOTUS muddied these waters by only very recently giving gun owners their imprimatur for broad latitude to own and carry around anything vaguely construed as an instrument of “self preservation” on top of “resistance”. It has been lifted out of the historical context in which it was conceived and should remain embedded. The Justices could have easily pressured Congress to update the wording, but chose to pander, imho, to the NRA and their ilk. With grave consequences, immediately in its wake.

    As you so succinctly point out, it was to be group preservation against a presumably foreign intruder, since the Founders believed in the new government and probably did not anticipate that the newly enfranchised populace would fear and resist that new government, certainly not as individuals. That is why we have laws and a legal system at the local and national levels. What use are they if we decide that we can simply invoke separate individual rights that supersede those of the collective?

    In any case assault rifles for sale to anyone, anywhere, practically of any age, is absurd on its face. No other civilized country does this, why do we?

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  6. Oh hon, I am in Texas, where this fight is almost impossible to ignore and equally impossible to win. I laugh my a** off at all the people who think that they could actually somehow stop a maniac on a rampage with their handgun instead of just shooting their own foot off in the attempt OR just randomly manage to kill more people because they mistakenly equate shooting a paper target at a gun range is the same as attempting to shoot some crazed maniac moving target in a public place. PLEEEEEEASE. Just this last New Year’s a friend of mine was SHOT by her friend, who was hosting a party – he got drunk and decided to SHOW EVERYONE HIS GUNS – and he shot her in the gut so that she now wears a colostomy bag and will do so for the rest of her life. And get this – she actually DOESN’T want to sue this guy, because it was “an accident.” What the freaking hell?!?! Another young woman I considered a good friend revealed to me a few weeks ago how much she “loves” guns, and I just can’t with her anymore – I have no respect for people who “love” weapons of violence. I don’t get it at all, I find it abhorrent, and to actually know all these women who think getting some sort of sense of power out of shooting a handgun and keeping one in their homes is depressing and infuriating.

    As far as Facebook and issues of politics or social importance, check out this recent Time news article about a recent study on how much facts matter in an argument (answer = zero). There’s no way to argue or debate with these people, because their beliefs are emotional and will remain so. The study was done on people who are anti-vaccine, so if you are anti-vaccine yourself you should NOT read it as it will tick you off, just a warning. But I see it as an example of the problem in general with trying to argue with people holding deeply-entrenched yet ridiculous emotional beliefs.

    http://healthland.time.com/2014/03/04/nothing-not-even-hard-facts-can-make-anti-vaxxers-change-their-minds/

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    • Facts have to trump emotion but a certain segment of this society lies and wants to be lied to. That is the argument I have had with Bradley, G.’s younger brother. I refuse to lie or to accept lies.

      I agree with everything you said, 100%. I don’t get women who jump into this thinking they can handle guns in the house. Under ideal circumstances, highly trained people in combat cause friendly fire mortalities all the time. Guns are dangerous. They are hard to handle. Especially weapons that fairly shoot on their own like semi-automatics.

      Most everyone here already knows how I feel about hunting, a barbaric, antediluvian practice that is needless, cruel and unsportsmanlike – cowardly. So, no need for a gun for that reason if you are a sane and good human being, living in the 21st century.

      Whenever I have been personally endangered, I extricated myself from the situation by using my brain and by being fit so I could run. I have even posted here about some of those situations. Fourth of July a few years ago, I ran almost 2 miles, spontaneously, to get away from a mob that formed due to a freak accident on Valencia Boulevard. One mile of that run was up a steep hill to our house. If we are ready, mentally, we can accomplish what we need to as needed. I keep in shape and so at 42, I could get away from an unruly mob that went ballistic because a car jumped a curb. I didn’t whip out a gun and start shooting into the mob!

      [Oh and, just so I am not unclear on this and seem like a complete health nut 😉 — I am not anti-vaccine, so I will certainly read it. I am anti-give-every-shot-available-all-the-time-to-six-month-olds-and-very-old-people-to-make-more-easy-money. There are immunizations that are vital, like polio, small pox, pertussis, cholera, heptatitis. I just think we can handle flu and measles. Thank you for that link.]

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  7. Bath, this is a very calm and balanced topic from the way I read it. You wished people to 1) Understand your opinion of the foresaid facts, 2)You wanted people to be informed of why you take the stance in the matter, and 3) Freedom to voice your opinion and why people should be aware of our loss of comments sense and courtesy to our fellow-kind.

    I don’t say I am against what your stance is. Actually I appreciate your candor. For myself, I was raised in a household where there were guns. Those guns were always unloaded and the ammo was always under lock and key. The purpose of those guns was not self-defense but were used for hunting. As my father had to go out and hunt to supliment our food stores. Being on one income back in the 1970s was also not an easy feat, and working for the Government then meant non-paid observed holidays harder to get thru. Well anyway I degress.
    My point is he was a former military and he well knew how to use guns(shotguns).

    With his respect of said guns he is one of many. But it does take just one person, that one that would upset the balance. And go to an extreme and do something harmful in the community at large. One earlier post mentioned that the screening for new guns should be stricter more “invasive” before a permit is issued. I agree, that the legislation is different state to state, but we’d all benefit from it. And those that get guns off the black markets, well unfortunate as it is, there has always been an”underground” for goods that are in demand.

    I know there are many ways to Del with the guns, but I don’t agree to open carry for the normal citizen. I understand the permits for concealed carry and that I will not debate here, but is less intimidating. Unless your in enforcement (Govt,npoliceetc..) Then open carry should not be allowed. America is not a police country, we should be thankful for that, and laws for open carry are opening up people for further harm (IMHO).

    But in defense I do believe in defense of person and property as was originally laid down by our!ur Constitution. Although we are no longer the country just rebeling against Tyranny we do have 100+ years of governing under our belts. It is our civic duty to be “The People” that continue to see out for our fellow man adhere to rights And the amendments that we now live under. Change those (idealisms, laws, mind-sets etc..) Where we can and continue to strive for more peaceful solutions as we can draw breath.

    (I’ve posted as best from my point of view and I mean no offence, I respect everyone’s post and viewpoint. I want to thank everyone for sharing really because this is the first of such topics I’ve read without cringing as I am not an extremist by any stretch. Just believe in holding on to my freedom and ‘right to bear arms’ as outlined by current Constitution and the laws of manager.)
    Thanks Beth.
    Regards, Nims

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    • Sorry my sentence “…Just believe in holding on to my freedom and ‘right to bear arms’ as outlined by current Constitution and laws of man”.)
      Was not ‘manager’ spell check is a bear…!

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      • Don’t worry, lol, I have this happen to me all the time! WP should allow us to correct our typos in our comments. It is weird that it doesn’t.

        I think we do have a constitutional and legal right to protect ourselves and our property, but I do not concede that we are lawfully authorized to do it with a firearm. That is a debate that can be had.

        As for hunting, well, in the rare circumstance today when people have no other means of putting fuel in their mouths or their family’s mouths, I would not be the one to say starve. However, one can feed oneself adequately even living in an apartment with fruits and vegetables grown any number of ways and I would contend more cheaply in the long run than by having to run down a frightened animal and execute it. I eat quite differently from 95% of the population and am, thank God, in perfect health and shape. Far fewer calories, far less protein, far less sugar, far less fat. In fact, if one knows what one is doing, one can thrive on rice and beans and sardines and live to be over 100 – Mediterraneans basically live that way and are far healthier than most Americans who have a meat-based diet. Especially the meat that comes from those concentration camps, hidden away, known as factory farms. That is where almost 100% of the meat in the typical American diet comes from. It is a appalling and ignorant.

        If one has no choice but to hunt and fish to survive, far be it from me to interfere. But it can be done humanely and responsibly and not from moving vehicles with automatic weapons, or shooting pheasants and grouse raised in pens. There is nothing sporting, healthy, manly or civilized about that. And, someday, most Americans will come to realize this and feel as sorry then as they do now for slaughtering the indigenous peoples here, or clear cutting beautiful forests like the Amazon. It is just a matter of waking up. We all have areas of clarity and unclarity that we must work on, imho.

        Thank you so much for being so sincere, fair, and kind, Nims. And feel free to say whatever you think, when you are here :-).

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        • Thanks Beth,
          I don’t agree with ‘quartered’ game that is used for shooting. That is unsportsman-like and unfair to the skills of a hunter. That of course is not what my dad did when I mentioned hunting to feed the family. But no more of that.

          Would have been nice to do veggies/fruits in VA where I’m originally from, but snow and the cold has a way of nixing that. Unless you have a hot house! 🙂
          That would have been awesome! But in summer we had a cool little garden. 🙂

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          • That is why our grandparents had underground root cellars to keep things from the summer, all year long or why they canned and bottled things. I have done both and once you get the hang of it, it works well. You can grow most things hydrponically in attics or cellars with grow-lights on them. But, of course, few people had that knowledge or equipment forty years ago. We do what we can, but when we wake up at 50+ full of ailments and aches and pains, look to diet for most of it. 🙂

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    • I am going to get right back to you Nims! I have to run an errand but I want to respond in kind to your thoughtful and balanced comment. Thank you so much, and look for my response in about one hour. 🙂

      Like

  8. Pingback: Mental Health, Spectrums, Guns, Copernicus and other normal stuff | scottishmomus

  9. This seemed like quite a scary place to be while in your teenager years, visiting in a ‘war zone’ so to speak. I am wishing for World Peace, wishing to keep my rose colored glasses on, but constantly getting them knocked off my face! I hate, right now, the people who keep kidnapping young girls in NIgeria! Wish we could change the world, make it better! I support your views and am very glad you express them, Beth! Smiles and hope you have a Happy Fourth of July! ~Robin

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    • Thank you Robin, it was and is a scary world. I would prefer people to solve their differences without violence and threats of deadly force, but in some cases it is apparently the only way to keep these people for committing heinous acts.

      Happy Fourth!

      Like

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