You’ve Got To Be Taught

Any city USA:

The call comes in, suspect in a robbery. The witness describes a white male, approximately 5’10” tall with dark, shoulder length brown hair, sunglasses, jean and a navy hoodie. As the police are patrolling they see six different white men in a group on the street as they drive, but don’t stop to question them because obviously they don’t resemble the description of their suspect provided by the middle aged white woman.

The call comes in, suspect in a robbery. The witness describes a black man in jeans and hoodie. Police patrolling see a black man walking his dog wearing sweatpants and a grey t-shirt. They pull up beside him, telling him to stop, call for backup and ask him who he his, where is he going, where does he live, what is he doing. The man is shocked, scared, nervous, and reluctant to say anything. The cop reads his behavior as suspicious and as two patrol cars pull up the cop yanks the dog’s leash from the man’s hands, and push him against the car to handcuff him. His dog is barking, the man begins to ask why he is in custody, the other officers have guns drawn and in a matter of moments this man has lost the right of innocent until proven guilty; the benefit of doubt. The witness was a middle aged white woman.

You wonder why people of color distrust police?

My sweet German Shepherd was traumatized last Friday after being trapped under our back porch while escaping the loud thunder and winds of a storm that blew through. She was trapped for several hours and has since become very reluctant to go outside to do her business for fear of being trapped.  We have to go outside with her because of her learned fear.

People of color, because of past experience have developed a learned response. They have experienced bias, neglect, distrust, and fear based solely on their race. Expectations passed down from generations of family, friends, and cultures which they have had no reason to discard based on their everyday experiences.

A line from Casablanca in response to a murder, “Round up the usual suspects,” is the reaction of rogue bigots in law enforcement and those usual suspects are often not white.

I am not saying that white people are not judged solely on appearance, have you ever seen a nasty white dude hooked on meth? I was profiled by a cop because the peeling paint on my car made him think I didn’t have insurance – big $$ ticket for him. He came up with an extremely lame excuse for why he pulled me over. It felt awful.

What I’m saying is there are years-decades-centuries of people of color given no quarter, always under suspicion, the first to be accused, the person who is treated aggressively, the one who expects to be the focus of distrust, and without merit they are categorized as unintelligent, immoral, underhanded, brutal and lazy. This has to stop with us, now, all of us. All humans.

When a child is told every day to steer clear of cops because they will not keep you safe and they don’t like you because you are black. When they see a brother or uncle aggressively searched and handcuffed because they were in a group on the street in front of their house and must be up to no good so the cops decided to stop anything before it starts. When they are in a not too busy restaurant waiting to be served and watch as a family of white people get seated, drink orders taken and given menus from wait staff who haven’t even looked at them. What is that child supposed to think?

I’ve seen behavior by white humans who get obnoxious and yell at a server for messing something up or taking too long, demanding the manager who came and did their best to assuage the customer, that a person of color would never attempt because they know it will go very bad for them. I hear “what about black on black crime?” “what about all the whites killed by cops?” Listen to what you are saying! You can’t justify, gloss over, and dismiss any thing with these statements. It’s all bad.

My young cousin was incensed that cops were wearing black ribbons across their badges “hiding their numbers” while working the riots. I told him it is common protocol to do this for a fallen officer. His statement was why do this now when it inflames the situation? My thought was why did the rioters wear full-face covered masks? Humans are hiding behind masks, rhetoric, and bias which keeps the others from hearing. Who will be the voice that both sides will listen to, the one voice that can radiate calm and focus on the fact that this situation has been brewing for centuries not just in the last ten years of people shaking the bottle ready to let it explode.

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught-Oscar Hammerstein II “South Pacific”

You've got to be taught to hate and fear

You've got to be taught from year to year

Its got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people who's eyes are oddly made

And people who's skin is a different shade

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late

Before you are six or seven or eight

To hate all the people your relatives hate

You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be carefully taught


Snaps and whistles

I was remembering when I learned to whistle and snap. These actions seemed to cross us over a special boundary of human muscle control. Children are captivated by someone snapping or whistling.

Have you watched a child try to snap? They imitate the action but the sound isn’t there, frustrating them in their efforts. They watch your fingers, then they watch their own but something isn’t working and they know it. I adore observing this process of physical learning. What is it that happens in their brain that figures out the dynamic of friction necessary to make that cool sound?

And a whistle? There are a few grown ups who still cannot whistle – astounding as that may seem to us natural whistlers. I can whistle the regular way. I also have my football game whistle, two fingers together and it makes everyone around me cover their ears.

Lauren Bacall said it best “just put your lips together and blow” and that made Humphrey Bogart her slave!! Just awesome the power of a whistle.

After potty training, learning to snap and whistle are huge steps in growing up – right up there with learning to read and write.

Can you whistle? Do you remember learning to snap?



Christmas wishes

I shared on Facebook something a friend had posted about what she wanted for Christmas from her kids. It spoke to me profoundly. She said she just wanted them.

I miss my kids. They live on opposite coasts and in different states from me. When my daughter Melissa started at the University of Arizona she moved out and never moved home again. After graduation in 1997 she moved from Tucson to Los Angeles and is in California still.

My son Aaron left for Northern Arizona University in 2001 and spent a couple of summer breaks at home, then moved to California to attend school there. He met his wife there and after about a year they moved to Oklahoma, then Texas and now will be living in  Florida.

I admit I am envious of mothers who live near their grown children. It would be wonderful to have them over for Sunday dinners, be able to share birthdays with them, and plan holidays together. Just being able to spontaneously go to a football game together or share a bonfire party would give me such pleasure.

So my Christmas wish is time with my children. To laugh, love, and spend precious moments together.




My husband was here for two weeks as is his routine: work two weeks, home two weeks. Well I realized when he is here the usual things that I do get totally scrambled. I did zero sewing, blogging or writing, I cooked way too much and consequently ate way too much. He flew back to North Dakota this morning and now it’s time to regroup. I love having him here but after two weeks of looking after myself, his always welcome presence, turns things around for me.

It’s all good though.

Millie is really growing. She weighs fifty lbs, is at least three feet tall when sitting and getting her big dog teeth. She’s still got a bit of puppy brain at six months old and easily gets distracted, but for the most part she is doing pretty well. She absolutely loves Chuck and when he is here she is his shadow. Sometimes though she will get into things and he runs her off back to me! That doesn’t last too long before she is back at his heels. She also snores when she sleeps and groans when she stretches-funny!

While Chuck was here the whole scary mess in Paris happened. It was the first time in a long time I actually watched the news on TV. I usually get my news from brief updates online. I hate watching the news channels. I don’t understand people who watch constantly. If I had the news on all day my brain would explode. I kept switching between CNN and Fox to get a more complete picture of the heartbreaking event. After a few hours over a couple of days I had a scary moment so similar to 9/11. Chuck and I were in a public place and I started looking at the crowds moving around me, I was watching their faces and behaviors and felt an insecure panic. I felt unsafe. I held onto Chuck’s hand all the time.

I never got to go to New York to visit the twin towers and I always wanted to. It was a place I wanted to stand on top of and look out on that city. Paris is another place I have always wanted to go and here it seemed I might miss out on it also. I was angry and frustrated by the evil of the actions. I don’t understand killing and injuring people who don’t agree with your ideology to make a point. The terrorists were more than making a point, this was intended to create fear and subordination in others.

We will all bear the scars in our minds and hearts.

With the holidays coming I will be spending them without Chuck. He is working Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. At least I will be able to be with Melissa for those days. I will also get to see Aaron and Chelsea after Christmas. My kids will cheer my heart. There is also Skype for Chuck!!

Now it’s time to hit the pages of my newest literary creation in progress!



I want humans to find me

I have been blogging for a while at blogspot and here at wordpress. My ideas and inspirations have been a variety of things that come to me in big splotches of thought. I was reading a post on Facebook that was talking about what would be the highlights of my life story.

Shit!@! I don’t have highlight’s of my life story. Not something I think anyone would want to know.

Ok, my dad was in the Air Force and my family lived in lots of places in the US as well as Japan and the Philippines. When he decided to retire I was kind of pissed because there were tons of places we hadn’t been to and he seemed to think he was done with his military career. What!! We hadn’t been to Europe and I really wanted to go to Greece and Italy.

Watching food and travel shows make me jealous.  I know I would be a great host on one of those shows.  Let me go from northern Italy to the Mediterranean eating local cuisines and drinking wine while taking along the viewers on an intimate visit and it would be a blast. Sitting in a provincial kitchen or a picnic by the sea sharing olives and cheese while locals tell stories about they way their families established themselves in the area is enchanting and fulfilling.

I want to wander slowly through the bluebell fields of Kent, stroll the tumultuous shore line of Wales, drink the best cappuccino at an alfresco cafe in Paris, let the sun toast me while I eat olives and drink orzo in Greece, and drinking wine and eating my fill of Parmesano Reggiano in Tuscany.

I can’t even tell you of all the other places I want to experience around the world.

But first and more importantly I have the absolutely coolest kids in the entire world.

My daughter, Melissa, is amazingly brilliant. She is sophisticated and cultured with an understanding of the whimsy of humans and their eccentricities. She went from being an expert in the retail culture, to immersing herself into the high end real estate of Beverly Hills to becoming a teacher and mentor for high school and middle school students. She is over the top so cool. Her students are in awe of her and she is a wonderful friend. I take no credit for the outstanding human being she is. Her genius is unique.

Then there is my son, Aaron. When God decided to make a template for a human with a heart of gold and a musical gift that those in the music industry would covet, he made my son. He is a person who makes you feel special and important. He is affectionate and compelling. He is overwhelmingly talented. Oh and my God can he sing! His voice is soothing, perfect and comforting. I love having him hug me and tell me he loves me. He married a woman who encourages him to be the best he can be and she is his perfect match.

I want to live in a place near water. I would prefer the ocean, salt water and I are simpatico. I also could handle a lake I could float around on. How the hell do I make that happen? Give me a place filled with every green in the world and water, with incense burning and candles lit, a kitchen I can cook anything I want in and a filled wine cabinet.  Give me prisms and crystals, fairies and dogs, my husband who loves me more than I deserve and I can keep going.

I would love for my readers to encourage others to follow my blog.  I would love to have my blog start trending!! Yes, I want to be trending. Let’s make it happen.


People watching

I was at Tucson International Airport last week to pick up my husband who was flying in from North Dakota and I took the opportunity to do some people watching. I love to people watch. It was late Wednesday afternoon and the airport was pretty slow. I found his flight on the arrival/departure board and sat down to wait the 30 minutes until his arrival.

One of the first things I noticed was this gathering of around ten people, some of them had a balloon bouquet that said “Welcome Back.” It was obvious they were together. I started to imagine it might be a returning soldier, but I didn’t see any flags, so maybe not. What I did notice was that every few minutes someone else would show up, get hugged by the others and settle into the little community.  It seemed there were now about thirty people gathered in one spot. Who were these folks?

Out of the blue this voice pierces the air. “There he is!” And just like that they were chattering, bouncing and hugging, again. I watched the escalator just like everyone else, ready to see “him”. Who was the human who could bring all of these people together just to greet him and welcome him home?

I caught a brief glimpse as the humans swarmed him. He was a baby faced, fair haired young man who was clasped tightly by someone I could only imagine was his mother in a strong embrace. The fair haired young man and his mother held each other, in tears, in a hug that seemed to last five minutes. No one interrupted them and cell phones were busy. I was so moved by this display of love I had to look away to gather myself.

What did this mean? He was dressed in a black suit, with a name badge on his chest. There were family and friends with lots of tears and smiles. The comments from them were welcome back, good job, and we are so proud of you.  Ok, putting all of these clues together, the fair haired young man was just back from a Mormon mission.

This congregation moved to the baggage claim area and I continued my people watching. Fifteen more minutes until Chuck’s arrival.

Humans were milling about, waiting for passengers and biding their time. I looked up to see a beautiful young woman in a pale green dress holding the hand of a little girl and carrying a sign saying “Welcome Home Daddy”. I can figure this one out!  The little girl was obviously anxious and the beautiful mother was trying to keep her daughter calmed. They approached the escalators to wait and I looked up when “Daddy!” rang loudly through the area as only a child’s excited voice can. The little girl ran into her fathers open arms. His grin was broad as he gathered her up, wrapping both arms snugly around her. There was lots of kissing and hugging with these two.

I was charmed. I was a daddy’s girl.

Then beautiful the mother and the handsome father got their own kisses and hugs in and the whole family held tight to one another as they went to the baggage claim.

I sat again and looked at the monitor displaying the disembarking passengers just in time to notice my husband in his navy blue long sleeved Arizona Wildcats t-shirt, his go-to travel dress, heading my way. I got my own hug and kiss and as we left the airport I told him all about the people waiting just like me.



I’m sitting on my back deck drinking my French roast coffee with stevia and cream surrounded by birds chatting, the occasional mosquito and barking dog, wondering what to write.

I live in the desert but you wouldn’t necessarily know that by the look of my yard. At least the tame part of it. My house sits on an acre near the Santa Catalina mountains. We are a little higher in elevation than Tucson and because of our proximity to the mountains we always have a bit of a breeze. It keeps us a few degrees cooler than the city.

Half of the acre where the house sits is surrounded by grass, trees, honeysuckle vines and roses. It doesn’t look like the Sonoran desert and I am glad of that. Most people say the desert is beautiful. I say it is brown, dry and full of things that stick you, bite you and suck the fluid from your body. I’ve lived here for too many years.

To me the desert is the best during monsoon season. When it is wet and plants that hide until the rains come make it look welcoming. When it is hot and dry even the mountains seem to shrink from the sun and look drab, but when the rains come they seem to swell and appear lush and dark. I’ve pointed this out to others and they can see what I mean. It’s almost like they are waiting to suck up the moisture.

Happy, that’s how they seem.

It is like humans. When we are lacking the support, love and fellowship of others we flounder. Our minds are so wrapped up in what we are lacking it is hard to feel good about ourselves. We know something is missing. I see children who need to feel cherished and their hearts are thirsty for acceptance and love. Sometimes they start seeking this outside of the home, many times making this worse and their souls start to dry out.

Just like my plants, people look happy when they are nourished. My plants give back by providing cool shade or soothing color. My herbs, fruits and vegetables provide me with the nourishment I require. I take care of them and they take care of me. Isn’t this what we need to do for each other as humans? It is the continuity and connection of all life God has placed on this little planet in the middle of an massive galaxy and an unimaginably immense universe.

I am but a speck on this earth, but the birds I feed and the plants I water depend on me. Much the same as the humans in my life need my love and encouragement. The true desert plants and creatures don’t need me to care for them, they wouldn’t miss me if I were gone. They belong here-that is the plan. The ones I placed here for my comfort require my attention and nurturing. If I go away the desert will continue as it always has. My place as a steward of the others requires me to place them in the care of another should I leave. It is my responsibility to them.

It is the same with the people in my life. I make sure they have what they need to continue wherever they are and they give back by flourishing where they are planted. I have two children who have grown into balanced, loving individuals who are pursuing their goals and making good lives for themselves. They give back to me with their success and happiness.

Who do you need to cherish? Who needs to nourish you?


Little Humans

Little humans crack me up. At least most of them. Once they can verbally communicate all bets are off!

I was leaving Wal-Mart this morning and this family passed me. Mom and Dad and two kids. The daughter looked about ten and the son was probably around five. The thing I noticed was this little guy was talking a-mile-a-minute. Mom would look back quickly and reply and the dad, who was walking next to the little fella, was listening to the happy chatter.

Little fella was explaining something and his expression and rapidly moving hands told as much as his high-pitched words. He was captivating in his efforts to express himself to the older members of his family. I wanted to turn and follow so I could hear more of this interesting human.

Another time I was having dinner with some friends who had their grandchildren with them. It took all of fifteen minutes and the questioning by the two oldest began. What was humorous and interesting were their candid questions and their mature responses relating their own experiences to my answers.

Forget the grownups, these guys were more fun.

At a wedding recently I started a conversation with my seven-year old niece. I was so charmed by her conversation and the way she leaned in to speak to me, the way an adult does when caught up in the interaction, I wanted it to go on. She expressed herself wonderfully.

One aspect I have noted is the mimicry involved in conversing with little humans. I can’t count how many times the parental influence comes through in their words or expressions. An aside here is I have also encountered a lack of this same aspect in little humans. I don’t claim to know why this happens and it may be natural shyness in some. Yet, it seems that most children are by nature gregarious and curious.

They are wondrous creatures. A blank canvas waiting for inspiration from those around them and a unrecorded video waiting for their story to be imprinted.

It is an awesome and righteous responsibility. What we communicate to them is what they will give to society.

I hope little fella was allowed to tell his story with acceptance and respect.