Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This Summer's a Bummer

Over the course of two weeks, my husband lost his best friend, my recently widowed "uncle" lost his brother-in-law (roommate) and his own brother (two days apart), and my first friend in life lost his wife (having just lost his mother this past April).
All but one of these deaths were completely unexpected.

The first part of the summer was kind of fun.  Since late February I'd devoted myself to cheering my Uncle Al up, and we spent a lot of time going places he liked to go and doing things he liked to do but hadn't been able to during his wife's prolonged illness.  We were making a lot of progress, too.  Lots of laughs, and I'd pat myself on the back for my ability to bring hope and happiness to the bereaved...

But then came the onslaught... and whatever trick I had up my sleeve to cheer people up and make their lives happier became just that, an illusion with no basis in reality when confronted with heartbroken people whose only hope is that they themselves have enough time left for time to heal.  It turns out I am impotent in the face of bereavement... all of the strawberry shortcake and chocolate in the world can't bring even momentary peace of mind to somebody who's drowning in sorrow. In fact it can have the opposite effect... the "Morel Effect," I call it, in honor of a springtime four years ago when well-meaning people showered me with my beloved morel mushrooms in hopes of providing a momentary escape from my own sorrow.  I don't even like seeing pictures of morel mushrooms now.

Tomorrow I'll go to the cemetery like I do every July 23, and "celebrate" the birthday of a kid I loved dearly, who would be 27 that day except that he died when he was 22.  Strangely, this annual family gathering will probably be a rather happy event... we always have a lot of laughs and catch up on each others' lives and gossip about the people who don't show up... Maybe I'll be able to take something away from celebrating my nephew's birthday, and especially his life, that will help me somehow to help some of these other people... my nearest and dearest who, in the middle of summer, can barely see the light of day.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Forgive the Killer?? Really???

In court today, Charleston church mass-murderer Dylann Roof listened as members of the families of the Christians that he murdered told him that they forgive him, and asked for God to have mercy on him.

Really?  Forgive somebody who killed your loved one?  Who does that?

Many Christians do.  Many Christians don't, though.  Imagine if this had been a Black or Muslim shooter in a right-wing fundamentalist church.  Would the families be so forgiving?  I hope we never find out.

It reminds me of a video I saw some time ago.  See if you can spot the Christian in this video of the Green River serial killer facing the families of his victims:

That's what real Christians are taught in the Bible to do.  It's why I'll never understand why fundamentalists on the right love war so the death penalty so much.  I'll never understand it, but it's something I can forgive.  It's what we're supposed to do, isn't it?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reasons to March Against Monsanto

I hope to see you this Saturday at the Third Annual March Against Monsanto!

Do you need a reason to march?  Here's a recent one... Monsanto wants to spend $45 billion to buy a Swiss company that makes the biggest bee-killing pesticide in the world... banned in many places, but as this article tells you, "widely and controversially" used in the United States.

Here's another reason... the revolving door between high-level jobs at Monsanto and high-level government positions.
Take, for example, Michael R. Taylor.
Then: Monsanto Vice President for Public Policy
Now: Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Food and Drug Administration
He's not alone by any means. The government is crawling with former Monsanto execs, and Monsanto is crawling with lobbyists who used to be on the taxpayer payroll.

There are many more reasons to protest.  Monsanto assured us of the safety of DDT, Agent Orange, Dioxin, PCBs, the list goes on and on.

Now they are filling our dinner plates with Round-Up Ready GMO foods that are drenched in their Round-Up herbicide - a glyphosate poison that's made to kill every plant it touches - except for the food itself.  Back in the day, herbicides were sprayed AROUND the crops, now they are being sprayed on the crops themselves. The problem is, the weeds around their GMO crops are becoming resistant to the Round-Up, so farmers have to keep using more and more of it.

This is good news for Monsanto's bottom line, but it's bad news for farmers who are having to spend a lot more money on Round-Up, and it's even worse news for the human beings who are ingesting Monsanto's Glyphosate Round-Up at ever increasing rates.

These are just a few reasons to March Against Monsanto, and it will be going on in more than 400 cities around the world tomorrow, Saturday, May 23.  If you're in Kansas City, click here for the details.  If you're anywhere else in the world, here is a list of events around the globe, and there's probably one near you.  Even if there isn't an event planned close by, you can gather some friends, make some signs, and get out there and inform people!  Every year many, many thousands of people find out about Monsanto for the first time just from seeing the marchers.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Independence Day Perspective

It was July 4, 1988.  A couple of days earlier I'd had some kind of medical episode and I was waiting for medical test results delayed by the holiday,  prolonging the angst of what I was sure would be news that my  21-year old life was about to be cut short.

As my family gathered and got ready for the 4th of July parade and other festivities, I remember hugging everyone tighter, a fake smile in all the pictures being taken (to cover the heartbreak), all the while convinced it would be my last Independence Day.

That afternoon, I was invited by Danny & Marcy, my closest friends of that era, to do something amazing... watch the fireworks that night from above Kansas City in  a small airplane. I thought it would be a fitting way to spend my last Fourth of July on this planet.

Danny's mother, Betty, had something different going on that evening.  She would be hosting a dozen or more severely mentally handicapped individuals for cake and ice cream, etc.  She could really use a few extra hands, she told me.  I let my friends know that I wouldn't be watching the fireworks from the sky.

At 6 p.m. or so a van arrived, and  out came the group of visitors, many of whom had the kinds of severe physical and mental challenges that a lot of people rarely come in contact with. They made themselves comfortable in Betty's lovely, decorated back yard.  A few of us ran about serving cake and ice cream and chatting with them, sometimes feeding them. Their smiles were filled with more joy and happiness than I'd ever encountered.  "These men are the happiest people I've ever seen!" I thought.  They were thrilled and delighted at everything that was going on, and their love for Betty was obvious.  They knew her well, as she had done many such things for them before.

And for a few hours, I completely forgot that I was "dying."  All the day's tragedy had vanished, forgotten.  I was in awe of Betty for doing kind things such as this, bringing these people so much happiness. And I was in awe of the visitors who were able to find joy in the  midst of so much challenge and pain.

I'd known Betty all my life.  She was always doing things to help people. She'd helped me out before, and that night she helped me understand what a "higher purpose" looks like when it's in action.

As I watched the fireworks gratefully from the ground, I "bargained" with God that if I should live, I would be more like Betty and I would devote my life to helping people.  Needless to say, I survived the medical crisis that wasn't.  But I've fallen very short of "being like Betty."  I did not keep my end of the bargain.  Maybe there's still time.

Rest in Peace, Betty.  She inspired me, and I loved her.

Friday, April 03, 2015

March Against Monsanto KC 2015

We're getting close to the Third Annual March Against Monsanto, happening worldwide, and right here in Kansas City at the JC Nichols Memorial Fountain.  From

If you're not in the Kansas City area, there is sure to be a march near you.

A lot of scientists will tell you that genetically modified foods are perfectly safe.
But ask them about how safe it is to eat Roundup® Herbicide, because that's what's dumped all over your "safe" GMO corn, soybeans, and any other "Roundup® Ready" GMO seeds that end up on your dinner plate.  They led us to believe that Monsanto's GMO corn seeds would be naturally resistant to weeds.  What they meant was that Monsanto's GMO seeds would be able to survive being drenched with large amounts of Monsanto's Roundup® Herbicide, which kills everything else all around it (but not your food).

It was not a big surprise to many when weeds started to become resistant to the Roundup® they were dumping all over the crops.  So farmers had to use more Roundup®.  And more Roundup®, and more Roundup®. Monsanto's profits soared as farmers couldn't get enough of their plant poison to keep the superweeds at bay.

And because so many of the GMO grains that get soaked with Roundup are used to feed our livestock, humans are ingesting Roundup not only in the GMO foods that we eat, but from the meats we eat as well.

 When the World Health Organization recently proclaimed that Glyphosate, the chemical that makes Roundup® toxic to everything but GMO crops, probably caused cancer, Monsanto went on the defensive. Here's a GMO advocate telling us that you can drink it from a glass and it wouldn't hurt you. Watch the way he backtracks when he's offered a glass of glyphosate to drink, himself.

Naturally I prefer foods that didn't grow up being constantly sprayed with poison, but that's only one of many reasons I'll be Marching Against Monsanto again this year.  Soon we'll talk about the bee population, and the dwindling thereof.

 Over the coming weeks we're going to need lots of help getting the rally together and putting the word out!  Please visit and find out how you can get involved, but most of all tell your friends and try to be at a march near you!  If there's not an event scheduled in your area, there's still time to organize one, so don't be afraid to step up to the plate!