Monday, May 28, 2012

Peony Love

It's that time of year again when my favorite flower is in full bloom in my garden. Peonies! Without fail, they blossom beautifully every year leading up to my birthday. This year being no exception, given Minnesota's summer-like March and monsoon May, the peonies survived. I'm pleased to report my peonies are thriving and are in full bloom this Memorial Day.

In a way peonies are a sort of rememberance for me. Certain types of peonies remind me of peony bushes that once grew in the gardens of my grandmothers. In fact I do think that one of my bushes is actually from my grandmother's Wisconsin garden. That garden is long gone, but her peony bush lives on in my Minnesota soil.

I have vases of peonies scattered around the house, adorning the rooms with their beauty and lovely scent. But like most good things in life, they don't last nearly as long as I'd like. I do always hate to see them go though. That's part of the reason for this post . . . in the dead of winter I can pull up this article and see my favorite Spring blossoms in the garden.

Enjoy them while you can as they will be gone far too soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Ultimate Judgment

I woke up this morning to the news that Abdel Basset ali al-Megrahi, the supposed bomber of the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103, finally died. (He was released from a Scottish prison on his "death bed" nearly three years ago.) Am I rejoicing in his death this morning? Do I feel closure? No. No gleeful rejoicing or feelings of complete closure have come over me. Perhaps a sense of finality similar to finishing up a book, closing it, and tucking it away on a shelf. It's over. Time to move onto the next book. But that book will remain forever, sitting there on my bookshelf. I cannot possibly throw it away or give it away. It's always there and can always be reopened. This book can be put away, but never truly forgotten. al-Megrahi is dead but his atrocious deed committed against humankind will always be remembered.

The stretch of 23 years has taken over my emotions. Emotions wrapped up so deeply in the 23 years that I've walked this earth since December 21, 1988. 23 years of life taken away from those who were senselessly killed by al-Megrahi with Muammar Qaddafi's blessing. The pain and hurt ebb and fade, but forever linger within me. My heart goes out to the survivors—those left behind. Mothers, best friends, brothers, neighbors, fathers, sisters, and roommates. Also to those of us, like me, who somehow cheated al-Megrahi and did not board Pan Am Flight 103 that day. WE are the ones left behind who will never forget. Unless we all strive for peace and justice in this reckless world, their deaths will be in vain.

I cannot label how I feel about the death of al-Megrahi. Maybe a sense of relief that he has finally left this world to face the ultimate judgment that we mortal humans could never sentence.

This poem was written by Ken Bissett, a 21-year old victim from New York.
A poem forever engraved on his headstone.

Poem by Ken Bissett

As I was walking along,
I looked up at the nighttime sky
I was passing under a tree,
But, rather than having the tree
Moving past the stationary sky,
I imagined that the night sky was moving;
pulled along by unseen chariots
With white horses
or strong-armed burly men
Or brilliant blue seagulls.
For a split second,
The sky was a huge blue tapestry;
Perforated with tiny holes;
Illuminated from above by some unseen light.
In case you are new to my story, previously published blog articles on the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 are listed below.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Time To Cut the Cord

I resisted jumping into the Ann Romney "Mommy Wars" and didn't chime in on the racially charged, Florida murder of Trayvon Martin. However the cover of the May 21, 2012 issue of Time magazine piqued my interest.
Must we really do "this" to prove
we are "Mom Enough"?

If you haven't seen it, here it is. The three-year old boy nursing from his fit and trim Mom. After all of that nursing it's not surprising that she looks awesome! I have absolutely nothing against nursing a baby. I nursed all three of my kids when they were infants. Perhaps I didn't breastfeed them as long as some Moms out there. I had a couple of indicators that told me it was time to quit breastfeeding.

  • Teeth (enough said)
  • First words (when they can ask for it, time to stop)
  • Disinterest (instead of latching onto a breast, the hungry baby boy goes for the cheeseburger I'm trying to eat while nursing)
I realize there is a large population of adamant breast feeders out there. My daughter introduced me to them immediately after her birth. I took to calling them the Nursing Nazis. They were relentless in their pursuit of turning me to their side. Formula? Who needs that? Weaklings who cannot handle nursing a baby! Never mind that my daughter, who was born over a month early, could not figure out how to latch on and was losing precious ounces of weight. The Nursing Nazis had a solution—pump!

Talk about a torture device: the breast pump. After 6 weeks of pumping, Anna finally figured out how to nurse. I don't think I'll ever forget that 2 am enlightenment! Could I ditch the breast pump? No! The Nursing Nazis insisted that I pump. I just didn't tell them that I was secretly supplementing Anna with the dreaded baby formula. Luckily Anna's brothers had no such problem figuring out how to eat, one within minutes of birth. He remains constantly hungry to this day.

I've been looking around to buy a copy of this Time magazine, but I cannot get my hands on one. Have they all been removed from the racks? Censored for public display of a breast? Put in black wrapping like Playboy? Or bought up by the obsessive Nursing Nazis?

Me and my hungry eater
Circa October 1998
I was never quite so blatant about breast feeding as the Time cover Mom and did not nurse my kids nearly that long. But to each her own on this issue. Nursing your child three years doesn't make you a better Mom than a Mom who nursed her baby for only three months. And yes, I am Mom Enough.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cell Phone Harassment Abruptly Stops

As quickly as my cell phone stalker found me and put me on edge with incessant calls, it's come to an abrupt end. I think he is gone. I've blocked his moves or else he gave up on me and is now bothering some other poor soul. It's been nearly 48 hours since my last call from Irvine, California. I'm falling back into my routine again. I don't jump out of my skin every time my cell phone rings. No strange package from the United States government turned up on my front porch. I feel safe again.

As I think back over the course of the past few days and those harassing calls, I still don't know what to make of it. The guy certainly did not have a package to deliver to me. I think he wanted money. A credit card number and my home address. Identity theft? Credit card fraud? Perhaps . . . but such an odd way to go about getting money out of someone. Was his scheme to harass me with constant annoying calls, hoping that I would give in? Give him my credit card number just to get the package delivered so that he would stop calling? How stupid does he think I am? Although I must be somewhat naive as I did manage to let my cell phone number float around enough that it was picked up by this loser with a garbled Asian accent.

I did pick up some good bits of advice if this happens again. From my sister-in-law, who always has my back and checked in with the police, blow a whistle or an air horn into the receiver. That should do the trick after a few calls. From my neighbor with the county police, call the police if it happens again or if there is a pattern that continues like in my case. It may be a scam.

I think he's right that it was some sort of a scam. Unfortunately I somehow got caught up in the middle of it all. I'm sure he is harassing someone else, but I'm hoping he makes some stupid move and gets caught by the police. Just in case though, I'm keeping those numbers and "Unknown" calls blocked from my cell. For me at least, this cell phone harassment apparently has ended.

Lesson learned though—be careful with your personal information and don't give out that cell phone number to just anyone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Cell Phone Stalker

Have you ever felt unnerved by cell phone harassment? I wrote off the first wave of odd calls to my cell phone as some very confused person who had the wrong number. Seven calls in five minutes while in the depths of Target. The line was broken up. His English was horrible, but he kept calling back. Once from a number in Colorado. The rest from "Unknown". Then a 10 minute break.

The cell started ringing again in the parking lot while I loaded up my groceries. This time I heard my name. Whoever this was now knows my name! He probably got it off of my voicemail. I was able to pick out that he had a package to deliver to me. I hung up. No surprise the phone rang again. He rattled on in garbled English about a package to deliver to me. I told him I was not expecting a package and asked him again to stop calling me. More calls that I did not pick up. Still "Unknown." I was feeling a bit rattled as I drove home.

Then the calls stopped for the day. While getting my daughter out of the door for school this morning, my cell started ringing again at 7:45 am. Still showing up as "Unknown." I checked the recent calls record to find this person started calling my cell at 6:45 am. The cell starts ringing in my hand. Another "Unknown" call. This time I answered it. The same broken English male voice on the phone asking for me by name. This time I could pick out that he wanted to deliver a package to me today that was from the United States Government. Immediately I'm thinking this is some deranged lunatic or a scam. Perhaps both.

I run upstairs feeling more than a bit distraught that some crazy person who won't stop calling me insists on delivering a package to me today. What if he knows my address?! I wake up my husband to explain the situation. In the space of these 2 minutes, my "Unknown" caller calls back 3 times.

The fourth time my husband gets on the phone and attempts to speak with him. He picks out that this person claims he is a Sargent (military) with a package for me from the US Government that must be delivered today for $5. A moment of enlightenment! This guy wants money of course. My husband asks my cell phone stalker to stop calling immediately.

Mr. Unknown caller calls back again an hour later. This is becoming harassment. My husband threatens to contact the police if he continues to call. The calls don't stop. We contact our cell phone carrier and have all "Unknown" calls blocked. We have that random Colorado number blocked. I'm feeling a bit more relieved that this man will finally be blocked from my cell phone. I can finally relax.

This has all happened before 9 am. I finish up my morning latte and then at 9:15 am my cell phone starts to ring. Irvine. California is calling. I don't know anyone in Irvine California. That particular phone number is now blocked. I'm hoping that will do the trick and the calls will stop, but I have a feeling this person has a stockpile of random cell phone numbers.

I cannot help but feel like I am being stalked and harassed through my cell phone. How did this person get my cell phone number to begin with? So if you call me and I don't pick up, please leave me a voicemail. I'm screening all of my calls until I can get rid of this guy.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Watch Out for Flying Cell Phones

My family tends to not put things away. Probably like a lot of families out there in similar situations,  everyone is just too busy to bother to put things back in their proper place given that life moves at such a rapid pace. What's the ultimate consequence for procrastinating on putting their valuables away: lost or completely destroyed valuables. Items that once had such little importance that it didn't matter if they were left in the yard for the dog to chew up, in line of the sprinklers to get soaked, or lying underneath the car tires to get squashed. These inconsequential items take on new "just cannot live without it" importance once they have gone missing.

The new favorite place to leave pricey items is on my minivan. You can just imagine what happens to something left on the Toyota Sienna. When I back out of the garage my main concern is avoiding hitting a small child, the dog, or any stray bikes left behind the van. I can always tell when a basketball is left underneath the tires, but items left on the bumper or on top of the van are pretty much goners.

Last summer's intensive garage and mudroom search for the dog's very pricey Invisible Fence shock collar was futile. We all eventually concluded that it got left on the back bumper of the van and fell off somewhere along the main highway when I picked up speed. That was a $300+ lesson that was unfortunately forgotten by my son last week.

He was out playing basketball in the driveway and, for safe keeping (HA!), placed his cell phone on the flat extension of the Sienna's back roof. He went inside to do something else and left his mobile phone on the roof of the van. A few minutes later I loaded his younger brother into the van with all of his baseball gear and drove him off to baseball practice. That cell phone probably went airborne the minute I picked up speed on Birch Street. I had no idea that it flew off until hours later.

In a desperate and at times enraged attempt to find his cell phone at 10 pm that night, we determined it was probably somewhere along Birch Street. I insisted that we not go out searching for it at ten o'clock at night in the pitch dark along a highway. He called the cell phone and no one answered. A late-night call to Verizon Wireless disabled the cell phone, rendering it useless to anyone out searching along Birch Street for demolished cell phones.

At least it wasn't an iPhone or another type of SmartPhone, only a basic cell. Hopefully he learned a lesson not to leave stuff on top of cars. Have I bought him a new cell phone? No. He will be buying one himself and paying it off by mowing the yard in the coming months.

The next time a cell phone, dog collar, or random cup of coffee comes flying at you along the highway, you now know why!