Sunday, October 13, 2019

Who are the Kurds?




With the Turkish offensive in northern Syria, the internet s full not only of news of fighting and atrocities—beheadings being live-streamed to social media, a senior woman Kurdish politician pulled from her car and executed—but beguiling pictures of Kurdish children. They are wide-eyed, curly-haired, charming. Yes, it’s a form of propaganda, but it worked with me. I was charmed and spent some time this morning exploring the internet to find out who these people are and, if possible, why Russia and Turkey are determined to wipe them out.

This is sort of a primer for me, a simplification of what I found online. Wiser heads will no doubt find errors and misinterpretations, but maybe this will help others begin to understand what’s happening.

In my mind, I think I equated the Kurdish with Europe’s Gypsies—people without a country. Although they are racially closer to Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, the Kurds are the largest ethnic group without a country. And that is part of today’s problem.

The Kurdish number between thirty and fifty million worldwide, with the highest concentration (about thirty million) in southwest Asia in an area known as Kurdistan, a mountainous terrain located in parts of Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. There are Kurdish communities in Istanbul as well as diaspora communities in Germany, America, and other countries. The focus today is on those people in the Asian mountains. They have their own strong culture and their own language, but they are usually bilingual, often fluent in Arabic. Islam is the predominant religion, although Kurds follow several other religions. A minority are Christian.  

Betrayal runs through Kurdish history, including from western nations that have promised protection. A treaty signed after WWI created a Kurdish state but was cancelled three years later when the boundaries of Turkey were drawn without regard to the Kurdish state. They are historically a minority in whatever country they occupy, a fact that has led before to genocide and rebellions. Throughout the twentieth century the Kurdish people have fought for their culture and for the creation of a Kurdish state, despite the fact that their host countries seem determined to wipe them out. Because militant Kurds support force to backup nationalism, Turkey has declared the Kurds along its southern border “terrorists” and sees them as a military threat. Turkey wants to control a narrow strip of land on that border now held by the Kurds (at least until last week).

And yes, Kurdish forces fought alongside the Allies in WWII and more recently alongside U.S. forces to defeat Isis in the 21st-century conflict known as the Syrian civil war, in which the U.S. and its allies, including Russia, supported Syria in its defense against Isis and the militant forces of Iraq.

So why now are we reading that the Russians bombed four Syrian hospitals? Why are they in the mess? They claim they are supporting the regime of Syrian president Beshar Al-Assad, who inherited the presidency from his father in 2000; his father ascended to the presidency through a coup in 1971. A democracy this is not.

Russians insist they are fighting terrorists. In fact a Russian general used the same unfortunate description for the Kurds that a Texas sheriff spouted last week from the White House about Mexican immigrants: They’ll run over your children. Of all the things I worry about, immigrants running over my children--or grandchildren—is low on the list. Experts in international relations suspect, not surprisingly, that Putin’s reasons are much more complicated and self-serving. The politics are so convoluted, I won’t begin to try to sort them out here.

The saddest picture on the net: a small Syrian boy, about three, obviously injured and in distress, said, “I am going to tell God everything.” They were his last words.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The old lady in the mirror




Mushroom soup
Routine mammogram the other day. As usual, they sat me in  tiny dressing room to wait my turn, and the tech gave me the simple instructions all ladies have heard countless times. After she left, I turned to Jordan who was with me and said, “There’s an old lady in that mirror.” She laughed and said, “You were staring at the mirror the whole time that woman was talking to you.”

Indeed I was—staring in horror. I have always prided myself, vainly perhaps, on neither looking nor feeling my advanced age. But there I was staring at this woman with thinning gray hair plastered to her head—where was my comb and what happened to blond me? I had great bags under my eyes and sort of sallow skin. Plus of course, those wrinkles.

“I look like my Aunt Alice,” I wailed, which set Jordan to giggling again.

“It’s a fake mirror, designed to make you look old. Maybe I should see how I look.” She stood up, back to me, and stared in the mirror for a long time. Then, with an impish grin, she turned around and said, “I look pretty good.”

Thereafter ever time she caught me looking, she’d giggle and offer to change seats with me. Truly, there was no other place for me to look. The blasted mirror was about four feet in front of me in that small room.

I swore I didn’t look like that when I left the cottage, and I vowed to go home and check my mirror. At home, I did look better, but the lighting is different, softer. Now I worry about how I really look to others in the daylight. Maybe I’ll just wear dark glasses all the time. The pouches truly are hereditary from my dad’s side of the family.

To top it off, the tech was too solicitous. In truth, she was pleasant, talkative, and concerned. But she repeated things in a deliberate loud, slow voice and kept reassuring me I did fine. What’s to do wrong in a mammogram? Maybe she took a clue from the receptionist who checked us in and talked almost exclusively to Jordan after I confessed that I didn’t remember to bring my insurance card. And some money fell out of my purse, which led Jordan to ask why I had loose money in my purse, and I replied I didn’t have a clue. Guess I was marked as doddering right then and there.

Tonight I redeemed myself, I hope, by fixing dinner for a friend—a goat cheese/pesto appetizer, homemade mushroom soup, small dinner salads. So good. The soup was an experiment and involved both my small food processor and my immersion blender, but I finally got it close to the velvety texture the recipe specified. For dessert, I offered Trader Joe’s cookie butter. When I read about it, I asked Jordan what you ate it with, and she replied, “A spoon.” Tonight my friend tried it on a baguette slice and said it was much like peanut butter. I gave the rest of the jar to Jordan.

It’s a joy to me to prepare such a meal for a friend, and even the fixing is a joy—okay, maybe not chopping the onion and garlic—but the rest of it, making it come out right even if I have to use blender and processor (I have hand washed a lot of dishes tonight), planning the menu, finding I had hearts of palm to add to the salad, deciding to add a dollop of sour cream to the soup when serving. It’s all fun and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Tonight I cooked for a friend of over forty years. Our ex-husbands were colleagues in medicine, and we stayed in touch, sporadically, over the years after our respective divorces. Though she’s recently had major surgery, she remains a person of happy disposition with a good sense of humor, and I thoroughly enjoy her company. We differ on our opinions about trump, but I tried to soft-peddle it when it came up tonight. That means I was not my usual vociferous self. Where, I wonder, do I draw the line between passionate loyalty to our beleaguered country and friendship of long standing.

This old lady in the mirror is signing off. Sweet dreams, everyone.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Winter, chili—and sunshine?




A lifetime in costume jewelry spread out for sorting
We were so prepared for winter last night when it was still ninety degrees. Jordan envisioned chili for dinner, but chef Christian said he refused to cook chili when it was still so hot. Since it was to be rainy and cold today, Jordan ran out and did some grocery shopping yesterday and decreed today would be a stay-at-home-in-your-jammies kind of day. So I had my mind all set for a long, dark and dreary rainy day. Sophie made a hurried trip outside and was back in her crate, where she spent much of the morning gently snoring. A comforting sound.

I spent the morning working at my desk, with my prayer shawl warming my shoulders, even though I had the heat on and kept the patio doors closed. But when I looked up at noon, the sun was shining brightly—still a bit chilly, but so much for rainy and cold. Winter didn’t last very long.

We should be grateful though. In Denver, yesterday, it dropped 64 degrees within 24 hours (naw, there’s no climate change). My oldest granddaughter is in school in Boulder, and her family is visiting her this weekend—I suspect it’s parents weekend or some such. At any rate, I hope they bundled up well.

Tonight, Jordan is getting the pot of chili she wanted last night, but supper will be late. Christian rarely gets home before six and then it takes him a while to make chili. So Jordan unexpectedly busied herself going through old jewelry of mine that had been stashed away. I thought it was from boredom, but it turns out she was looking for an orange necklace to wear to a watch party for the UT/OU game tomorrow. She had already rejected the one orange shirt I own. To my mind, orange is not a flattering color, and I laughed that she thought she would find an orange necklace.

She got caught up in the task, sorting necklaces I haven’t worn in years, earrings without mates, strings of pearls that we couldn’t identify, strange pins that obviously came from clubs or groups of one kind of another. She found three Scottish thistle pins, which she promptly allocated to her sister and Melanie, the Scottish DIL. I don’t suppose I’d wear them, but I thought she might leave me one. She had fun texting her siblings pictures of her finds—a pair of pearl drop earrings elicited from Megan the sarcastic comment that she had been looking for years for a pair just like that. A ring with SAE on it went to Colin—no response yet.

In my working days I was a jewelry freak—big showy necklaces, earrings, and lots of rings. Somehow in retirement I put all that behind me. My hairstyle hides any earrings (I never did successfully pierce my ears and always wore clip-ons), necklaces were just too much trouble, and my fingers seemed to swell so that rings were uncomfortable. Today my fingers are slimmer again, and a friend just urged me to start wearing rings again. Jordan unearthed tonight the old pawn turquoise ring that belonged to her Uncle Bob and that I wore every day. I’m tempted to start wearing it again.

What started as an idle search has now turned into a full-scale obsession. Jordan has gone through several small jewelry boxes, moved on to her home safe, and is talking about looking at the safety deposit box at the bank.

Meanwhile, I’m hungry. Hope the chili is ready soon

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Today’s trivia




Tomato plants in bloom
Today’s trivia because nothing significant happened today.

My tomato crop: I have a little desktop plant system—not a greenhouse, but three little pots with a grow-light that is on most of the day but off for specified periods of time, which seem to change as days go by. In the middle of the night, it lights up the cabin like broad daylight. I’ve grown lettuce in it—a medium success—and basil, which was a whopping success. I made a big batch of pesto from the first cutting of basil and have a small but respectable second cutting coming up.

First tomato harvest
But lately—for at least a couple of months—I’ve been growing tomatoes. Tiny, tiny tomatoes. I was surprised by lots of blooms, delighted by tiny green things. It took them forever to ripen. Meanwhile the vines grew out of hand and threatened to take over my desk. So today I harvested and meant to discard the plants. I suggested to Zenaida, who was here to clean my house, that she throw them in the back of the yard where they would compost naturally and provide nutrients for some of the bushes. But she wanted to plant them, so she found a pot with something that had given up the fight, pulled the dead plant out, and planted my three plants, which were more yellow than green. I kind of doubt they’ll survive the transition from indoors to outdoors, but we’ll see.

Second tomato harvest
Meanwhile, I have these tiny tomatoes, which really don’t have a lot of flavor. I think I’ll grow more basil next, or maybe oregano which I’d like to have. But for a while, I’m going to have a few less bushes on my desk. And I have a lifetime supply of dried oregano leaves in the freezer, the result of not being smart about ordering spices in bulk.

I was so sorry to read that former President Jimmy Carter fell, blackened his eye, and required stitches. But as a recent fall survivor myself, I was glad to have someone so praiseworthy join my company. Of course, he’s a tad older than I am, and he’s fallen twice within recent months. Jimmy, my advice is that you get a walker. I do admire him so much though—within hours of his trip to the ER, he and Rosalind were at a country music benefit for Habitat for Humanity. As a couple, they have built homes and done so much good for people across the world. What a stark contrast to the man squatting in the White House now who pled bone spurs to get out of service.

I went to a breakfast gathering of the Book Ladies this morning, and once again it was difficult for me. When two or three conversations are swirling around me, I simply cannot focus on anyone, no matter how good my hearing aids are. I love those ladies and long to be a part of their group. Today one treasured friend I haven’t seen in a long time was talking about the changes brought about by new ownership of Barnes & Noble, where she works part time. I probably got about half of what she said, but it all sounded good. It’s hard for me these days to pull myself out of bed early for these meetings and then disappointing not to be able to hear. And it got my morning of work off to a late start. So I may have to rethink that.

Tonight, happy hour with a neighbor and my Canadian daughter and her husband—she is a former neighbor. Our neighbor across the street promised wine and a snack, but I felt I should have something so invented a dip at the last minute—Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, buttermilk, blue cheese, lime juice, garlic powder, and finely chopped green onion. Not bad if I do say so. Margaret brought some Brazil-bites—light bread/cheese tiny things, but so good. And a chocolate nut mix that I talked her into leaving. No dinner for me tonight.

My distress at our national situation continues, with the White House forbidding people to testify for Congress and the Attorney General saying if Watergate happened today, he would not provide evidence to Congress. We are indeed held hostage by a corrupt regime. The Founding Fathers intended the Congress to be part of a system of checks and balances, but I fear that won’t work today. I shudder at the word revolution and wonder what form it would take. God help us avoid violence in our streets but also help us get rid of the people who now seemed to be exploiting the American system for their own benefit—and destroying democracy. There are many in Congress—Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff—devoted to saving our democracy, and I pray for them.

Monday, October 07, 2019

An accidental experiment and other trivia




Last night I accidentally performed a little social media experiment. I posted a blog—nothing spectacular, just cheeseburger soup (so good on the first cool night, even though cool hadn’t yet quite hit), some thoughts that struck me in church yesterday, and comments on a church Connection luncheon we went to. The point was to connect with other members, and I thought it a great idea. Anyway, today I did not get one like nor one comment, and I guess I’ve gotten spoiled and used to feedback.

So I checked. I had neglected to put the post on Facebook. If you want to read it you can find it at https://judys-stew.blogspot.com/2019/10/could-fall-really-be-here.html But it demonstrates to me that a big part of my audience is on Facebook. In Sisters in Crime and other groups, there’s always debate about the usefulness of Facebook, but one comforting bit of social media advice I like is to do what is comfortable for you. So I have given up trying to master Instagram and I don’t do much other than post on Twitter, but I am really vocal on Facebook—and that includes occasional advertising in the form of “boosting” posts. So my experiment kind of confirmed what I do.

Another bit of cyberspace wisdom I picked up yesterday; two friends said they had tried to order So Far from Paradise and were told it was unavailable. So I ordered a free sample as a test—no problem. Then I called Amazon. It seems you cannot always order all books from an iPhone of iPad app. So my advice to readers: if you try that and get word the book you want is unavailable, order it from your computer. As an author, I wonder how many sales lots of us have lost because that fact isn’t commonly known.

Not much spectacular today, except that I got a routine dental appointment out of the way. Dentistry brings out my anxiety, and I tried to explain it to the hygienist: when I was a young teen, I had lots of cavities (poor enamel inherited from my dear father, whom I otherwise loved a lot). Our dentist was an uncle (by adoption if not blood), a taciturn man who scared me. Plus dentistry sixty-five or so years ago was not as smooth as it is today, and I still have a real dental phobia. So grateful that Jordan drove me and picked me up, that Stephanie the hygienist is such a good soul, and that my teeth are good enough the cleaning was brief, and I got a clean bill of health.

My day ended with a most pleasant happy hour with friends—one of those small world situations. I honestly thought we met on Facebook but Mary Kay Hughes tells me years ago she and her mother came to a reading group I conducted through TCU’s Community Education programs. But we also have our church and our politics in common, plus she works with Christian, and her husband proved to share all our convictions and more knowledge than I had about some of them. An evening of lively and interesting discussion.

I am heartsick tonight about withdrawal of troops from Syria and the almost instant bombing by Turkey, though I don’t think we know the truth of the situation yet. What does seem clear is that the orange one, he of “great wisdom,” let himself be hornswoggled again. He has not the faintest idea of the cost in human lives—ours and Kurdish—of his impulsive acts and lack of negotiating ability. But I won’t belabor the point—it’s all over the internet, and we will have to let the true facts sort themselves out. Tonight, my prayers for the Kurdish people and for our troops in the region.




Sunday, October 06, 2019

Could Fall really be here?




Not the world's best picture because it's what was left in the pot
after four servings and two 'to go" dishes but
you get an idea of he richness
           
The cold front isn’t exactly here but the air is much cooler already tonight. In my corner of Fort Worth, we got only sprinkles of rain—missed the showers that were all around us, but we’re ever hopeful that they’ll hit us tomorrow.

Tonight, anticipating that cold front even if it was in the 90s today, I made a pot of cheeseburger soup—hearty and good. All the things that make cheeseburgers good—ground beef, cheese (Velveeta, but you can use that occasionally), onions—plus some extras—celery, carrots, potatoes, chicken broth. I meant to make a half recipe but was far into it when I realized I was making the whole thing. We shall have plentiful leftovers all week.

Christian and I went to church this morning, while Jordan stayed home with Jacob who is not feeling well. But she met us for a lunch at the church—no agenda, no program, just a chance to visit. They called it a Connection luncheon, an apt term. We “connected” with people I knew slightly but never had really visited with. Made some small world connections, such as the woman I used to see at Lily B. pickup, when I went for Jacob, is the mother of a neighbor we all know. Good times.

This is the beginning of the church’s capital campaign, but Dr. Peterman, our senior minister, changed the focus with his sermon. Instead of telling us the pitiful stories of how much the church needs to continue its programs, especially outreach into the world, he talked about generosity as it benefits the giver and urged us all to live generously and appreciatively. “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you,’ it’s enough,” he said.

As I sat in the sanctuary this morning, with the glorious music and rich traditions, I was indeed grateful to be there. It strikes me that an organized religion two thousand years old with billions of devoted followers around the globe, a religion based on love, will always triumph over the selfishness, greed, corruption, and, too often, perversion of Christianity we see around us in our country today. Our people are steadfast.

I don’t think this is a Christian thing either, although Christianity to me is most relevant today. Judaism in its pure form reflects a respect for the law that is sadly missing in some of our leaders today. And contrary to the distortions we are fed, many Middle Eastern religions—Muslim, principally—are built on kindness and concern for others. With a great body of believers, we will hold on, and perhaps one day achieve a measure of peace.

I haven’t really said that very well, but it was for me a powerful thought, and this morning was not the first time it came to me.

Peace, my friends. Be of good faith.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

A major family crisis—and I slept through it


The Cavaliers--Cricket is the black and white one
They are inseperable


This morning when I raised the blind in my kitchen door, I noticed that the cars in the driveway were all rearranged. I knew Jordan and Christian has been to a big do last night—the American Cancer Society’s Cowtown Ball—and they planned to Uber home. So why were the cars moved? Then I booted my computer and got a chilling message, “Cricket missing. Plz watch for notices on neighborhood newsletter.”

Cricket is the older of their two beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, a placid girl of ten years or more who would never bolt out to explore the world the way Sophie would. But Cricket could wander sort of without knowing what she was doing or where she was going. Still, this morning, the house was quiet, so I figured she was home and safe. In fact, I thought she was probably in some hidden corner of the  house and they just hadn’t searched hard enough. I lost Jacob that way once when he was still a toddler—and after a neighbor and I searched the house and called and called, I had the phone in hand to call the police when I saw him under the dining table.

No such luck with Cricket. Turns out they came home about midnight and sat on the front porch for a nightcap, letting the dogs wander in and out because they had gates across the two sets of stairs. Cricket had apparently slipped by the gate and was gone. There ensued frantic phone calls and driving around the neighborhood. No sign of her. Jordan spent much of the night siting on the front lawn, sobbing, as she waited for Cricket to come home. Got to say Cricket, like our other two dogs, has no street sense, no car sense, and probably couldn’t find her way home from next door.

About five this morning, they got a text. Some good Samaritans had picked her up at the school across the street and taken her home, about a mile away. Christian went to fetch her at ten, and when I saw her Cricket looked blasé, like “What’s the fuss about?”

Of course, that threw the day off. Jordan and Christian were both exhausted from lack of sleep and worry. The errands we planned to do were first postponed to late afternoon and then cancelled. I did go pick up groceries from curbside at Central Market, but I am still in urgent need, of all things, of a block of Velveeta.

But at 9:30, the house is dark, and I assume everyone is sleeping. Jacob missed the excitement because he stayed over at a friend’s house. And that’s another story. At 8:30 last night I let him walk about six blocks to the friend’s house, though he was met halfway. I knew he was safe, because I talked to him after he got there, but I am of the school where you don’t walk alone after dark. It’s a hangover from growing up on the south side of Chicago. So at three a.m., when Jordan and Christian were searching for Cricket, I was lying awake beset with guilt for letting Jacob do something dangerous.

I am clearly too old for all this trauma. May everyone have a peaceful sleep and sweet dreams.

Friday, October 04, 2019

The good, the bad, and let’s not talk about it




Jacob’s school had something called Color Blast today. It means for a few minutes eighth graders can run around and throw packets of color powder at each other. Sounds like fun, no? No. Not to me, but he reported he had a blast, and he sure looks like one happy kid, although he was looking forward to a long, hot shower.

For me it’s been a couple of good-and-bad days. You ever have a day when you just don’t feel quite right? That was me yesterday. I woke in the night feeling queasy, sat up, and coughed a lot to make the feeling go away. Sophie was so concerned that she came and stayed on the bed for a while. Then she apparently decided I would survive and went back to her safe spot—her crate.

Yesterday, food didn’t interest me, and I didn’t eat much. My stomach was just a tad off, not even enough to say I didn’t feel well, and I had just the tiniest twinge of a headache—nothing worth complaining about. I did what I needed to do at my desk to get the day started—checking emails, clearing up some details on small projects. But work on my manuscript? Nah. I wasn’t there.

The good? I blew off most of the day and lost myself in a mystery novel by Susan Wittig Albert—one of many China Bayles mysteries I missed when it first came out. Reading a China Bayles novel is, for me, like visiting old friends. I know the people, I know the community, and I’m quickly drawn into whatever is happening to them. This was Nighshade, a novel that involves deep corporate corruption, murder disguised as accidents and suicide, an old family problem. I was thoroughly engrossed and hated to come to the end, though I admired the way Albert worked in personal growth for China. Not a bad way to spend an off day.

Today I felt much better, attacked the editing of my manuscript with enthusiasm, and think I made a bit of progress on the first chapter—making the chronology clearer, tying together threads of the story. This is nonfiction, so I don’t have the leeway I would in a novel. We’ll see if it keeps getting better.

But then there was supper. I found a lamb chop in the back of a lower shelf of the freezer—no idea how long it had been there, but I thought I could rescue it. Sautéed it in butter while I made a salad of avocado, tomato, blue cheese, lemon, and just a splash of olive oil. When the lamb chop was done, I squirted some anchovy paste into the pan with the butter and juices and poured it over the chop. Looked forward to a really good supper.

It wasn’t. The flavor of the lamb chop was medium—certainly not the best I’ve ever had but okay. But the darn thing was so tough I couldn’t cut or chew it. I finally dumped it. The avocado salad, however, was delicious.

So now the weekend looms, with grocery shopping, cooking, church—this Sunday we’ve signed up for a church luncheon, billed as “Connection.” I’ve been wanting to be more visible as a longtime member of the church, so this is a good opportunity.

And with up and down days, I remain transfixed by the antics in our government. In spite of that, I think life is good. Hope you think that too.


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Good food and more heart-wrenching moments


  

Always a joy to go to the Star Café. Friends Betty and Don Boles have owned the Stockyards restaurant for years, and for a few years around the turn of this century, I ran the cash register on Saturday nights. Now I go occasionally for the food and the atmosphere—and, of course, the company. The food—best chicken fried steak in Fort Worth, bar none. I never ate the stuff until I went to the Star and now I love it—but only here. It’s crispy, and flavorful, and tender. Tonight I split a steak and a baked potato with Betty, and had a small salad with their house-made ranch dressing—best ever. The steaks are also darn good, and even the hamburgers are hard to beat.

Atmosphere is funky western, though Don probably wouldn’t like that description. Lots of neon beer signs, walls covered with Texas memorabilia and signed photographs, tables covered with checkered tablecloths, scarred wooden floor. This is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Tarrant County. And rumors say it’s haunted—I even wrote a short story about a ghost seen there from time to time.

In reality, no ghosts. Just a lot of North Side folks and some others, ranging from friends from our church to “characters” of the North Side and everyone in-between. A warm, comforting mix of people, always friendly, always helpful. Tonight I was with Betty and our friend Jean, and we sat in the front window where we could watch the world go by on Exchange Avenue. A cowboy came and sat on the bench outside, playing his guitar—alas, we couldn’t hear it. Sometimes you can watch a mounted policeman patrol the streets. And Betty and Don love to invite “greenhorns” to come watch the Longhorn herd parade down the street. Then they take the greenhorns back to the Star for lunch.

Correction: Last night I referred to Amy Guyger, but even as I did, it sounded wrong. Still I had found the name that way on the internet. It is, of course, Amber Guyger, and today was another highly charged emotional day. Guyger’s mother took the stand, a woman so broken by grief that she could barely talk and mostly simply answered with, “Yes, ma’am,” while dabbing at her eyes with  crumpled tissue.

The most emotional moment came after the sentence of ten years was delivered. The younger brother of Botham Jean, the murdered man, took the stand and quoted John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Then, with remarkable grace, this young man—eighteen I believe—asked the judge’s permission to walk across the courtroom and hug the woman convicted of murdering his brother. It’s hard to imagine such grace of spirit, but I hope it sets a pattern for those who continue to cry out for justice. The prosecutor spoke and said the jury has done its duty; justice has been served. It’s what our system of government is all about.

And a moment of trivia: I promise I won’t come up with a new word every day, but I came across one today I couldn’t resist. Cockwomble: a foolish or obnoxious person. You may apply it to whoever you wish.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A sad night




During the day I squirreled away a couple oh-so-clever items to blog about tonight, like my miniscule crop of tiny, tiny tomatoes from my unruly plants on my desktop green house. Or I could tell you about the birthday dinner I had tonight, with three friends—lots of laughter and a bit of commiserating about the difficulties of aging. But my heart is too heavy tonight for trivia, and aging seems a blessing denied to many.

A Paschal high school student died at noon today because he was racing his car against a friend, lost control, and hit a tree. On a street that I travel often, the route I took to work for years. Somehow, we don’t expect these things to happen close to home. I do not know the boy’s identity, but the horror increased when I heard that tomorrow is his sixteenth birthday, and the car in which he died--a Mustang—was his birthday present. I cannot stop thinking about that family whose child is not coming home tonight. Jacob will go to Paschal in another year, which also brings it closer to home. How do we build a protective bubble around our children?

I grieve too for Bothran Jean, who left us some time ago, and for his family and for Amy Guyger who shot him and who today was convicted of murder. I watched TV for a while just after the verdict was announced, and it was wrenching. What she, a police officer, did was so wrong that there is no comprehending. Jean was in his apartment, eating ice cream—the only thing he did wrong was to leave his door ajar. She entered, thinking she was in her own apartment a floor below, and shot him, out of fear for her life, she says. I presume, as a police officer coming off duty and still in her gear, she had other ways to subdue a threat, but she shot to kill.

As the prosecutor said today, there’s a strong lesson there for police officers, a lesson about deadly force that should be a cautionary tale for so many police officers across the country. I was sad that supporters of Bothran Jean’s family made it into a racial issue, though the tones of racism were always there—she is white, he was black. But it seems to me this is more a police training and brutality issue than a racial one, though perhaps in our society today the two are so intertwined as to be inseparable. But like the teenage driver, Bothran Jean will not be coming home to his family—ever.

The judge allowed the castle theory defense for Ms. Guyger which seemed really out of whack to me. She wasn’t defending her “castle,” which was one story below. She was invading his castle. Still I thought she might be convicted of manslaughter. When the murder conviction came back, I felt a wave of sympathy for her, awful as what she did was. I could imagine, seeing the shock on her face, that she was desperately wishing that this was a bad dream from which she would wake up. But it wasn’t. She will pay a stiff price—from five to 99 years—for the grief that she had brought to two families and to a community and a city.

As a good friend of mine says, there’s a world of hurt out there. Be gentle with one another, my friends. None of us can see around the next corner in our lives.