Thoughts And Prayers

Today Santa Fe High School in Houston, Texas became a member of a club no one wants to belong to, but too many already do when a student opened fire killing 10 and leaving 10 others harmed.

Immediately the usual debates and blame began in the media and all over social media. I’m not here to address policies, gun control, the existence of the NRA or anything like that. Not now, not here.

Also the usual “Thoughts & Prayers,” “Pray For Santa Fe” sentiments started to appear. Many took, and take offense to this and will counter these sentiments with calls to “do something.”

While I understand and share much of the anger and urgency to “do something,” at that very moment in time, while we are watching  students on t.v. crying, reliving the nightmare. While we watch the anguish of the parents who have lost a child, right at that very moment, what can we do?

We cant change policy at that very moment, and while the anger is righteous, we cant forget the people who are living through this nightmare.

This is where, for me, the thoughts and prayers come in.

Should we not pray for the families, students, faculty and the entire community? Should we not pray for their peace, their strength and faith to hold them in this most trying time? Should we not uplift them with our thoughts and prayers and let them know that we are all with them and thinking of and yes, praying for and with them?

People need to do something when tragedy strikes, they need to feel like they are in someway helping, and in the moments, days and weeks that follow these tragedies, praying is the most immediate thing that can be done.

As for me, I will continue to think about and pray for these people. If that offends you, I’ll pray for you too.

 

Ohio State Reformatory: Disembodied Voice

Ever since we moved to Ohio, Ive always wanted to go on a ghost tour of The Ohio State Reformatory.   I knew The Shawshank Redemption had been filmed there, but for me, the history, and the possible sighting of a ghost was more the draw for me.

On May 4 of this year, the husband and I took the tour. The tour is around 2 hours, and if you ever decide to take it at night, I suggest you take a flashlight because it is dark, wear comfy shoes because there is A LOT of walking. The groups go in about 20 people along with the guide and the few volunteers that accompany the group, they make sure no one gets lost, wanders off and the likes.

The guide we had was wonderful and knew so much of the places history, she also happened to be the archivist of the place. She pointed out the rooms in which Shawshank was filmed, and gave some antidotes about some of the actors.

I took some pictures but most of them turned out blurry or hard to see. There was however one particular picture that I took in the chapel area. I wanted to get a good shot of it without other people from the group being in it. As they were all making their ways out to go onto the other part of the tour, I turned to take a picture of the room, I snapped the picture and went on. It wasn’t until the next day at home I saw the dark figure standing in the back of the room. Now mind you anyone still left in the room was behind or beside me. There was no one in that part of the room and I did not see this figure in the camera as I took it. I circled the figure for the purpose of posting. Other than that, this picture has not been manipulated in any way.

As I worked the camera, the husband was taking video, and got what is perhaps the most compelling catch of the night. We were in the area of the prisoners were held in their cells. These cells are stacked 6 high and are really not bigger than your average closet. As we approached the cell where an inmate named, James Lockhart, in cell #13 on the fourth level, took his own life by douching himself with turpentine and lighting himself on fire after having been denied parole, we stopped long enough to get a video of his cell and the sign that hangs on it.

The husband and I were at the end of the line, and the guide told everyone going in to be quiet because sometimes you can hear shuffling and whispers, so we were all going slowly but quietly.

We didn’t hear any of this as we made our way through cell area, but realized once we viewed the video, even though we didn’t hear something, doesn’t mean someone didn’t have something to say.  I think it says, “they are gone.” What do you think?

Be Wary Wary Quiet, We’re Hunting Wacoons

As we’ve previously established, I’m not really what you’d call a “country girl,” I own it because it’s true.

This was never more apparent when a sickly possibly rabid racoon came into our lives.

It started out a day pretty much like any other except for the racoon we noticed sitting on top of our mailbox, in the broad daylight looking at us like it dared us to try and remove it.

When I say this thing didn’t look good, I cant stress how much it really didn’t look good. It was snarled up, its mouth looked foamy and its fur stood on ends as if  it was oiled.

The husband had to leave for work, so I’m left here with racoon Cujo on our mailbox. Eventually he made it down and was wandering the yard and straight up the middle of the road in front of our house. This thing didn’t even move when cars came up behind it, it just kept walking, and has fate would have it, it walked back into our yard.

Since we have small dogs I didn’t want to let them out with this thing on the loose, so I think – I’ll call Ohio DNR. Yeah, they’ll come out here take this thing away and all will be right in the world again.

WRONG!

I called them and was promptly told they couldn’t send someone as the only had 1 officer for 3 counties, BUT, I did have options. Each one more horrifying than the last. . .

She goes on to tell me in Ohio its legal to:
1) “Bash it in the head, double bag them and throw it in the trash.”
2) “Shoot it in the head, double bag it and throw it in the trash.”
* both of these were a NO.
3) “Live trap it, and release to a location away from us.”
* live trap a possibly rabid animal, and re-release it? HARD NO
4) “Just leave it alone and it will go off somewhere to die.”

I politely reminded her I was “NOT Daniel Fucking Boone.. not even Elmer Fucking Fud! I’m a city girl for the love of God and I’m UNDER ATTACK!”

She wasn’t moved. Thankfully racoon Cujo was as he eventually moved on, snarling all the way.

 

My Big Fat Redneck Funeral

Even though Ive told this story many times, I always get asked to tell it again. So without further ado . . .

Many many years ago when I was married to the starter husband one of his oldest friend’s brother passed away. We of course attended the funeral, and while at this point in my life I had been to a funeral or two and growing up in the South meant I’d been around rednecks my whole life, nothing and I do mean NOTHING quite prepared me for what I would see that day…and Ive seen some shit!

As we made our way into the funeral home room where the funeral was to take we were met with Elvis music. Not the many hymns he had recorded but rather “Jailhouse Rock.”

That should have been my first clue.

Then I see the wife (who the deceased had been separated from for some time) by the casket practically throwing herself into it and whaling like Ive never heard. All the while she’s doing this the man that she’d been living with since the separation was sitting in the front (family member’s) row checking his watch like he just couldn’t wait to get out of there.

The deceased was wearing pretty much the usual redneck/good ole boy attired – Budweiser ball cap, Harley t-shirt and blue jeans. In the casket and around the back edges were unopened beer bottles, packs of Camels .. you know, the usual stuff a good ole boy would need to carry him into the afterlife.

Then IT happened. . .

The decedent’s mother entered from a side room looking every inch like Dusty Rhodes in lipstick.

She took one look around, zeroed in on the “grieving” widow and took off in a run that would shame any Kentucky Derby winner. She pounced on the widow knocking her back in the chair leaving her sprawled on her back, feet in the air and no underwear. NOT a sight anyone wants to see!

Fists were flying, hair was being pulled, words were being exchanged .. and none of them were of condolences.

Being the now redneck brawl that is was, attendees that were sitting in their chairs were on their feet. Some were screaming encouragement, some were joining in on the free for all.

The poor little funeral director man was wringing his hands, muttering and trying in vain to stop the free for all. I just knew at any minute he was gonna get sucked under all of it and get the stuffing ripped out of him for his troubles.

All the while this was happening Mom and the widow were rolling around, punching air, each other and sometimes the casket. The casket was rocking on its base threatening to topple the dead out and roll him down the aisle like the meatball on top of spaghetti. And the flowers that had been so artfully arranged around the casket were now laying in tattered heaps all over the floor.

This is when it happened – I burst into uncontrollable laughter. I just couldn’t help it; watching it all play out in front of me got the better of me.

The starter husband proceeded to try to tell me how it wasn’t appropriate to laugh at at a funeral (as if what we were seeing was appropriate?)

As I left the room to retreat to our car Elvis was singing  “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog.”

I didn’t even dare attend the graveside services or the home gathering after it all.

I’m not going to lie though – sometimes I wonder if the second and third match of the day would have been better or worse than the first.

. . .  God, how I miss the South . . .

Rescued Is My Favorite Breed #AdoptDontShop #PawsUp4RescuePets

Holly Briley

Statistics show that approximately 7 million animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Approximately 2.7 million of them are euthanized.

That is 2.7 million animals who did not ask to be born, did nothing more than become unwanted, unusable,  or in some cases abused and neglected at the hands of their humans. Animals that if given the chance could be wonderful additions to the right family.

While I have always believed in adopting a pet versus shopping for a pet,and statistics aside, there is a more personal reason why I am so passionate about this issue.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with some pretty serious health issues which seemingly overnight robbed me of much of my life as I knew it. I went from being an active participant in many things, including the work which I loved to someone who at times couldn’t get out of bed because of pain, or if I did get up, had to return soon because of the pain.

To make matters worse, it was Winter. If you’ve ever experienced Winter “up North” you know the sun is rare and sitting out in it for any period of time isn’t always a possibility. So even on the days I felt good, I was pretty much stuck in the house with nothing but time to think on my hands.

To say I was in a bad place emotionally would be an understatement.

Then it happened. The little miracle I wasn’t expecting.

Sitting in the house with my husband one night during a pretty bad Winter snow storm we got a knock at the door. It was a little girl who at the time lived next door.

In her hands she had a tiny little Chihuahua dog who was shaking and covered in snow. This little dog had been tossed out by her owner .. a breeder who lived up the street from us. She was thrown out because he couldn’t use her for breeding due to her having a Luxating Patella. Since she couldn’t make him money, she was of no use to him.

After verifying all of this, the husband and I took her in. Her coat was dull and brittle, she wasnt house broken, had no idea what a toy was or how to play with one, and she was terrified of a water and food bowl.

The next several weeks were spent teaching her, hand feeding and watering her until little by little she got accustomed to eating from her food dish. She got her first toy and took to playing with it like a champ. She continued to thrive in every way and the luxating patella not withstanding, the vet gave her a clean bill of heath.

While caring for and teaching her, a funny thing happened to me. I stopped obsessing about my own health problems, started feeling hope and looking forward to the future. I still had some problems but they were no longer the first thing I thought of when I woke up or the last thing I thought of before I fell asleep at night.

I had another reason for ‘being’ and to keep on keeping on, and that reason’s name is Coco Mae Briley.

Holly Briley

Since rescuing Coco we have added to our fur family, and often joke that we’re one furbaby short of being a petting zoo.

While I love each and every one of our furbabies, and they are all spoiled rotten, Coco will always hold a very special place in my heart.

When she came to us, she needed saving. In the end though, she saved me more than she will ever know.

City Girls Should Not Go Camping

I was recently reminded of an event that happened not long after we moved to Ohio. I need to preface this by saying that my husband (who was raised in the country) has always calls me a “city girl.”

Not too long after we moved to Ohio we purchased a pop-up camper and decided to go camping.

Up until this time I only had one camping experience, when I went to sleep-away camp as a child. When we arrived there it was announced the “first years” duty was to clean the bathrooms. The bathrooms that were merely outhouses equipped for more than 2 people at a time. I took one look at that, called my dad to come get me.. and I never looked back.

Fast forward to the day the husband and I decided to go camping. Oh, the pop-up camper was nice enough, air conditioner, stove, fridge, pretty much all the amenities of home except for one important thing – no bathroom.

The husband said that was easily solved and we proceeded to pick out a very nice campsite in a state park, that was directly across the little path from the bathrooms. No problem, I thought. . .That’s what I get for thinking.

We had a very nice evening, settled in and went to sleep.

Well .. it happened. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. Any woman of a “certain age” whose ever had a child will tell you, when that urge hits, it cannot be ignored.

I was going to wake up my husband to walk with me to the bathroom, but thought – its only across that path and the path is lite.. so off I went.

When I got there the lights inside, got set down, the lights were flickering bright to dim, one light was out which only added to the overall spooky effect.

I immediately thought to myself – this is how every single horror movie starts out – a woman, in the bathroom alone .. in the middle of the night.

Then I heard it. A howling. Then another howling, then another and I swore they were coming closer and closer to me.

That did it!

I cut it off in midstream and took off back to the camper, and by took off, I mean I ran! Pants half pulled up, ass cheeks flapping in the wind and giving any other campers who happened to be awake and looking – a second full moon of the night.

As I lay in the camper the rest of the night listening to every single sound of nature outside and trying desperately not to pee the bed, one thing kept going through my mind.

. . . . . . City girls should not go camping.

 

Bring Our Girls Home #MissingGirlsOfDC

Since the beginning of this year a number of mostly African American and Latina women/children have gone missing in Washington D.C.

Until recently these disappearances have pretty much gone unreported by MSM.

This is not alright.

There is currently a campaign on social media called Missing Girls DC to bring awareness to the missing.

The D.C. Police have also reached out and are using social media to shed light on these disappearances.

If you are on Twitter you can also follow the hashtag #MissingDCGirls for more information and news about the efforts to find these girls.

Below are a few links where you can find more information on these disappearances, and what is being done to locate them. I share these links  because they can say it so much better than I.

Map Shows Locations Where DC Teens Reported Missing in 2017 Were Last Seen

What We Know So Far About D.C.’s Missing Black and Latinx Teens

Lawmakers call on FBI to help find string of missing black girls in Washington

Washington D.C. Police Are Asking The Public To Help Find Over 10 Missing Black Girls

#SundayFunny – You Know You’re Old When …

 

You stop growing at both ends and start growing in the middle.

You can cough, fart, sneeze and pee at the same time.

You got to second base with a TSA screener.

“Getting any?” means sleep.

When Happy Hour is a nap.

When you spot that first gray hair…on your kid.

When you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement.

Cheerios Giving Away Free Wildflower Seeds #BringBackTheBee

Bee populations which are crucial for pollinating  world food supplies have been declining in recent years.

Because of this, Cheerios is partnering with Veseys Seeds, and are pledging to send out 100 million wildflower seeds.

You can get your free wildflower seeds by visiting the Cheerios website, they ask that in return you plant them in a bee friendly area.

#BringBackTheBees

Holly Briley

 

Mike Brown: Trading One Stereotype For Another

Holly Briley Recently film director, Jason Pollock released what some are calling a “highly edited” video from his documentary, Stranger Fruit that retraces the events of the 2014 shooting of Mike Brown.

In this video Pollock alledges Brown gives the store employee a bag of pot for the Cigarillo’s he was previously said to have stolen. Pollock also alledges this was part of a pre negotiated negotiated deal.

 

Jay Kanzler, the attorney for the convenience, who also happened to be in the convenience store when a new rash of protesting and gunfire broke out, disputes the events in the video, and goes on to state they have nothing to do with Brown’s later visit to the store.

Mr. Kanzler recently gave a press conference and during it released the unedited version of the tape in question, taking the watcher step-by-step through it.

 

In the end the questions remain:

1) Was Mike Brown simply carrying out a drug deal and not committing strong arm robbery?
2) Why does it even matter as the events in the store had nothing to do with his death?
3) And most importantly in my opinion –
Why are so many people willingly trading one stereotype of young black men for another one that is equally stereotypical?