Bathroom flap

I cannot believe the controversy over what bathroom a transgender person will use in public places. First of all: who is going to police who goes into what bathroom? Our law enforcement folks have more important things to do than answer calls about someone going potty in a restroom.

Second: are you going to ask someone if they’re in the wrong bathroom? I’m not. If someone looks like a woman or a female and they’re in the bathroom with me, I’m not going to question their right to be there. I’m going to use the facilities and get out.

If I’m a guy in the men’s bathroom, am I going to react more to a person who looks feminine walking in or someone who looks male? No matter what a person looks like, he or she can take a stall and not have any questions.

What happened to tolerance? What about just plain politeness? Why do we need to legislate this? I think a few people are uncomfortable about transgender folks, and think that since they’re different, they’re perverted. Oh, really? I suspect the truly perverted are hiding behind looking very normal — very straight.

And those uncomfortable folks — what are they worried about? That someone of the opposite sex is going to follow them into the bathroom to assault them? I think they just have to urinate. And I’d feel more uncomfortable if a man who was born a woman came into the bathroom.

Regardless of whether he’s had surgery to complete his transformation, he’s still going to take a stall like every one else, so what’s the big deal?

I say there are lots of other things for us to worry about. What bathroom a person chooses isn’t one of them.

“Ishmael” and other thoughts

The book club I attend recently read “Ishmael,” about a — OK, this sounds nuts — gorilla who communicates with a man about the future of the world. Full disclosure: I didn’t read the whole thing. My loan at the library was up, and I neglected to renew it. So the e-book went back to the cloud.

But the part I did read was thought-provoking. The author basically states that we have to let people die in order to save the planet. Yes, that’s right. We’re so good at curing illness and so benevolent about sending aid to starving people. But that just means that we’ll have more people on the planet using the resources.

If those people survive, then they’ll procreate and make more people who have to vie for the planet’s resources. If they die, we’re off the hook for providing aid. It’s nature’s way of saying, “enough.”

Will any politician ever say, “No, we’re not going to send aid to those starving people in _____.” Doubtful. It sounds callous, and we’re too nice to say no.

And that brings me to my discovery today. I found three small black plastic bags filled with single-serving foods out at the park. I don’t know if they were handed out by the nearby school to children or handed out to the homeless for Easter. I’m going to guess the former, because inside the bags were tins of milk, packages of cereal, and juice boxes, among other goodies.

Here’s my question: Why didn’t those bags make it home?

One theory: the kids really didn’t need it. They’re just low-income, but finding food isn’t an issue. Another theory: the kids didn’t dare take it home. Mom or Dad don’t want to be seen as taking charity. Another theory: the kids were careless and forgot about the bags after a quick pick-up game of soccer. Another theory: the kids have no concept of having something for later. They’re given what they need when they need it. Or they didn’t want to have to share it, or they didn’t want to hide it from the rest of the family.

I’ve heard of children squirreling away food in cases of neglect or abuse. They want to have their own stash in case circumstances change and they’re hungry. That’s heart-breaking, but I’m sure it happens. Obviously these children didn’t feel that way.

In any case, I left the bags on the picnic table at the park. Perhaps the kids will come back and help themselves to whatever’s left. Or maybe the homeless will have a seat and a snack. Happy Easter.

Musings on a walk

HighGuy went with Charlie Puggle and me on our walk this morning. It was actually daylight. These last few days have been pleasantly light out at the end of our walks, which points toward spring. Most of the snow has melted, and the wind has blown around the trash.

Now and then I take a grocery bag with us and pick up trash in our path and more particularly at the park where we walk. I find the strangest things: a DVD of The Lion King (which had a nasty nick in it, but was still playable), pairs of socks, and a pair of pants. And of course the usual trash includes other grocery bags, juice boxes, miniature bottles, liquor bottles, beer cans and energy drink cans. (Energy drink cans — I know! You’d think they’d have the energy to take the can to the trash can!)

And there are several trash cans scattered throughout the park on the walking path. They’re bright blue and usually affixed with steel loops that go around a pole in the ground. That keeps them upright and in place — very practical. One morning Charlie and I saw someone driving around the park, and before I could call the police, I realized it was the garbage truck. The fellow behind the wheel was emptying the cans!

Today the trash was pretty sparse. That’s OK; I didn’t have a bag with me (just the little ones for Charlie’s piles). I noticed that today a house down the block didn’t have toys and debris scattered around the yard. It was piled in a city trash can by the side of the house. I noticed one of the license plates on one of the cars in the driveway was from the reservation. Sigh.

I try not to be prejudiced, racist or otherwise biased, but it’s hard sometimes. When did native Americans become known in my mind for being sloppy? I would think that they would honor Mother Earth by not letting their trash blow around. I suppose it’s like any other culture: there are always bad apples.

We walk past a strip mall with a number of ethnic businesses. And there, too, the trash proliferates and is scattered by the wind and customers who don’t care. When did these people from other countries become so messy? Is their existence here so disposable? Are the business owners so busy or unconcerned that the trash makes their business look irresponsible or somehow shady?

HighGuy said that it would be so easy to give a kid a dollar and have him pick up the trash, but I disagreed. Most kids would want at least $20 to pick up someone else’s trash. But I have my reward. Yesterday when I was walking I found a $10 bill on the ground! Thank you, Mother Nature. I’ll keep returning the favor.

Missing Davenport

In the past two weeks, I’ve seen two people from Davenport, where I used to live. And that’s Davenport, North Dakota, not Iowa. It’s a bedroom community about a half-hour southwest of Fargo. (And it’s getting closer all the time with all the development happening on the south side of Fargo.)

Seeing an old neighbor and another acquaintance makes me nostalgic for what has become another life. I miss my great big old house; I miss my job at the newspaper; I miss seeing friends and visiting with them, even if it was just a quick update at church.

We had activities to go to: school concerts, church programs, community theater productions. The school has completely moved to Kindred, and we don’t have children in school anymore anyway. I’ve heard that the Lutheran church in Davenport may close — probably for lack of a pastor and a large enough congregation to support a pastor.

And heaven only knows what’s become of the community theater group. The folks who were instrumental in getting productions off the ground have likely moved on to other things — it was all volunteer anyway. The group had a closet stuffed with costumes and props, and a small bank account. I know they’ve done at least one Christmas musical. I recall seeing it listed in the newspaper.

And I’ve seen a couple of people from the newspaper where I worked for nearly 20 years. It’s all changed, too. They don’t have any full-time writers. But I’ll bet they have a full-time salesman. The publishers seem to think that advertising will support a newspaper. It has to have other stuff, too, like stories about people.

One of the people I wrote about was one of the people I saw just recently. He mentioned the story I’d done, and how he’d come across it again. “It seems like another lifetime, doesn’t it?” I said. He agreed. He’d come a long way from working as an elementary principal at the school. He’d worked for a while at a larger parochial school, and then for another company before retiring.

In some respects, that’s the track my life has taken: a smaller newspaper to a larger newspaper, and then off to another company. The only difference  is that I haven’t retired yet. The school principal and his wife have moved to Fargo, as my husband and I have. But it hasn’t made me any happier. It’s made my commute shorter by far.

So now I have more time, and that’s just more time to waste on the Internet and Facebook. I was whining about not doing much writing when HighGuy said, “Well, I guess you’ll have to start working on that book.” He’s absolutely right. So now my goal is to add a chapter a week. I have one book started, and ideas for several more. It’s time.

First fall of the season

The first snowy day we had came late this year. We’d had a little snow earlier, and then it disappeared with unseasonably warm weather. This time it was here to stay. I knew that we’d have to get accustomed to driving on snow-packed roads in town, and I knew the ice would test my resolve about daily walks for healthier living.

Sure enough, I went down — on a driveway that had been scraped just far enough to make it an ice skating rink. Pure glass. I went down before I even realized what had happened. I laid there for a while, contemplating whether I’d need an ambulance, and glad I had my phone with me if that was the case.

I rolled over on my back, and began my assessment. Arms, good. Hands, good. Elbows, good. Hips, good. Knees? Ouch. My right knee had taken the majority of the hit, and it was already at risk for replacement. My left knee was unscathed, so I discarded the notion of an ambulance.

I did consider calling HighGuy to come and pick us up, but he was out snow-blowing, and wouldn’t hear his phone. And wouldn’t you know it? We were at the farthest point from home. I looked around to find Charlie, and of course, he was sniffing around at the vehicle in the driveway, checking out the deck, and just about ready to climb the stairs to the house.

No concern for me at all. He didn’t even lick my face. Ungrateful dog.

I rolled back over and assessed just how I would accomplish standing. I couldn’t put any weight on my right knee, and besides, it was ice all around me. I’d just go down again. I dragged myself a little farther toward some softer snow in the sidewalk, and got my feet under me. Oh, that knee hurt. Ironically, I’d have to get home and put some ice on it.

I sniveled and boo-hooed a little, feeling sorry for myself. Charlie came back when I called him, and we started our homeward trek. I limped some, and knew that I’d have to keep trying to bend my knee so it wouldn’t stiffen up. By the time we’d made it home, I was full-out sobbing. Not so much because it hurt, but because I knew it was going to take time before I’d be ready for another walk.

Just the idea of giving up my morning walks with Charlie sent me into more wails. I tried to let it go, but I couldn’t. I’ve been doing fairly well with making healthier choices; I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds. This was a definite setback. I thought about walking at the mall, but they don’t open at 6 a.m. And they’d really frown on me bringing my walking buddy, Charlie.

I thought about getting a treadmill, but where on earth would I put that? Space is already a premium in our condo unit. We’d just dropped a hefty amount on a new bed — there was no money in the budget for a treadmill — new or used.

In the end, I gave up my walks for the rest of the week. I had good intentions about going on Saturday during daylight hours, but it never happened. On Sunday, I goaded HighGuy into taking Charlie for a walk, so they’d both stay awake for a few hours.

This morning, I woke up with the alarm, and Charlie and I went for a walk. Thank you, Fargo Park District, for clearing the paths in the park where we walk. And thank you to all the folks who shoveled their walks. Thanks also to Mother Nature for warming up the sidewalks so that most of the snow and ice was gone by today.

I hope those folks with the slippery driveway didn’t get hurt, too. But it would appeal to my sense of fairness if they did.

Local eyesore

I walk our dog Charlie every day (well, OK, almost every day) and our path takes us past a small strip mall just off Main Avenue.  The small businesses there are mostly ethnic — an African food market and a barber, among others. Every day, without fail, I notice trash on the ground around the businesses. And since this is North Dakota, the trash blows around the neighborhood. If I lived south of this little bunch of businesses, I’d be angry.

And the business owners are not doing themselves any favors. The presence of trash makes the entire area look tacky and rundown. They have Dumpsters in the back, but it’s always filled to overflowing, which leads me to believe they don’t have a contract to have it emptied.

I’d pick up the trash in my yard, and then I’d complain to the business owners. And unfortunately, those business owners might not understand me, because I’d bet the majority of them are New Americans. And those few are giving other New Americans a bad name. They don’t need any more black marks against them.

Here’s a list

Here’s a list of things that bug me — not big things, just little annoyances.

Guys who wear their pants hanging low look ridiculous. I just want to tell them, “Pull up your pants; you look like an idiot!” And I’m told that wearing pants low like that is actually a signal to other … ahem … guys looking for a “date.”

People buy nice clothes and then don’t know enough to open the pockets and back vent. Um, folks, the pockets and vent are basted shut so they don’t hang funny on the rack. And they press nicely in the store. But once you take the garment home, you can open the pockets. You can use them.

I buy 90 percent of my clothes at thrift stores, and I think I dress nicely. I can’t imagine buying everything new. Oh, I buy some things new: underwear, coats, shoes. But everything else is used. And when I’ve worn a garment a few times and I’m tired of it, I give it away again. I’ve gotten my money’s worth, and I don’t feel bad about donating it for someone else to wear and enjoy.

Little old ladies with grey hair who wear it long need a real friend to tell them it looks tacky. Color it, cut it, find a real style. Parted in the middle and worn straight isn’t a style. It’s the path of least resistance; it’s lazy; it’s boring. (And those who wear their hair as they did in high school are equally boring.)

Those who demonize the media would miss knowing what REALLY happened. One of the biggest compliments I received when I worked for a newspaper was from a board secretary. She said that in her limited minutes she couldn’t go into detail about how or why a decision was made. My coverage of the meetings gave that detail, and I think she found my coverage fair and unbiased.

Diets in which an entire food group is eliminated seems ill-advised. OK, you have celiac disease, so you have to go gluten-free. (What do they use to replace flour — sawdust?) I know a few people who are giving up all grains because they claim it’s healthier. Hmm, I have doubts about that. OK, they aren’t eating a lot of processed food, and that’s probably healthier, but all that meat certainly must be raising their cholesterol level.

I couldn’t give up chocolate. That’s one of the things that makes life worth living. I’m trying to make healthier choices, but my health coaches have said, “Go ahead and have chocolate if that’s what you’re craving. Just don’t go overboard.” I don’t want to feel deprived on this diet, and so far, I’m not. In all things, moderation.


Poor Mr. Charlie

HighGuy has been out of town off and on for a couple of weeks due to his job. I’m accustomed to having the time alone — well, I’m not really alone with relatives nearby. And I mean close.

But, poor Charlie Puggle. He doesn’t quite understand it. He knows that we both go to work during the week and stay (mostly) home on the weekends. He understands when we go to the lake for the weekend, and barks excitedly when we put his halter on for the car ride. He can’t wait to get out the door when we arrive.

Now that fall has arrived, HighGuy and I stay at home, and every weekend is different. But we still get up early (just not AS early) and go for a walk. I hate walking early mornings when it’s dark. Then I have to juggle the poop bag, a flashlight and the leash. And when it gets colder, I’ll have to do with with gloves on. But I digress.

Last week when HighGuy was gone, Charlie couldn’t figure it out. He waited by the door, and hung out behind HighGuy’s chair, wanting to be the first to greet him when he came home. Nope, no daddy. Daddy had brought home a new toy — a bright green stuffed wiener dog. So when it was time for bed, Charlie did the next-best thing. He trudged back to the living room, picked up his toy, and brought it to bed with him.

He kept his toy close by all week, and then Daddy came home, and Charlie was beside himself, wagging his tail and generally acting like an idiot. This week Daddy is gone again, but Charlie is a little less anxious. He’s still keeping his toy nearby, but he’ll be just as excited when Daddy comes home tonight.

Dark as…

When Charlie Puggle and I walk in the mornings now it’s dark out. And it will remain dark out until we hit Daylight Savings Time. And it’ll still be dark out.

This morning I started thinking of all the ways to say “dark” or “black.” Black as pitch, dark as night, black as the ace of spades — those were the common ones.

So then I decided to come up with some new ones:

Dark as Stephen King’s dreams. (I’m just guessing, of course.)

Black as Satan’s mustache. (Assuming he has one.)

Black as a pirate’s heart. (Again, assuming he has one.)

So, can you come up with anything?


Random walking thoughts

I walk my dog every morning, and I’ve had some random thoughts that don’t deserve a entire post, but I’ve kept track of them.

I pick up some of the trash I see, and I’m always amazed when I find an energy drink can on the ground, mere feet from a trash can. What? They just had an energy drink, and they couldn’t make it to the trash can? I pick up my dog’s poop, and I manage to get it to the can.

The Forum had just run a story on the homeless, which I read with interest. I’ve met some homeless people in the park where we walk. Nice bunch, for the most part. They’ve greeted us with a little hesitation, but Charlie usually breaks the ice nicely. We haven’t seen anyone for a long time, but just the other day, we saw three girls walking early on a Sunday in a park.

I didn’t think anything about it at first. But then I thought again. It was early Sunday morning, and they were not dressed up for church. Well, neither was I, but I had a dog with me. They looked as if maybe they’d just woken up and had to leave quickly. They were three different ages, so they weren’t friends; they might have been sisters.

They weren’t walking as if they were having fun. I thought it looked more like they were killing time. And thinking back on it now, I wish I had stopped them to see if they were OK. And maybe they would have looked at me as if I were crazy.

Walking in the early morning is quiet, or at least most of the time. One morning HighGuy walked with me and we saw a bunch of people in the parking lot of an apartment, yelling at one another. We took an alternate route through the park. Didn’t want to disturb a potential rumble. But HighGuy hasn’t gone with us for a long time.