Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mulvane Pizza Hut....A Second Chance for a First Time Manager

I am all about my community and whenever I can help, I try to. In a small town, your businesses are crucial and I try hard to promote our businesses and remind people of how important they are to us. I am going to start a new series that will be posted on our local pages that will highlight our small town and the businesses that are helping it to grow and I will throw in a little business love.....whenever I can. So here it goes........

Do you know Billy Carroll? If you don’t, then maybe you should.

Billy is the manager of the Mulvane Pizza Hut. I got to know him back in July when I was having a garage sale and a friend and I were craving pizza. We decided to try out the local PH “again” as it had been a long while since either of us had been there.

To be honest, I wasn’t very excited as I had been there about 18 months prior and I was not only disappointed in the place but I also left angry. I had gone in there for the lunch buffet. There were maybe three customers in there at the time. There were two kinds of pizza on the buffet and it was obvious they had been sitting there for a while as they were cold and dry looking. The salad bar was anything but fresh as the lettuce was wilted and the cottage cheese smelled very suspicious. The one waitress that was working was behind the counter on her cell phone the entire time I was there and I never got the drink I ordered. When I went up to pay for what was edible of my lunch, I asked to speak to the manager who the girl told me was not there. I went home, waited a while and called PH asking once again for the manager. She had apparently returned and when I reported my lunch experience, she basically told me that I was a liar and that my business was not necessary to her. Their delivery service was also on the same par. It was simply awful. So you can imagine that my craving for pizza that July day was pretty powerful to even consider going to PH and trying the buffet again. I can honestly say though, it was one of the best decisions I have made in a while.

Going in that day, the difference was night and day. The place was spotless. The wait staff was friendly and attentive (didn’t see one cell phone), our drinks were brought out promptly and the buffet was fresh and had many varieties of hot pizza to choose from. The salad bar reminded me of days gone by when the PH buffet was one of the best lunch venues in town. I was pleasantly surprised as was my friend.

It was this day that I got to meet Billy Carroll. He was the new General Manager and had only been in charge just a few months. He came out to our table and checked on us making sure we were well served and happy with our lunches. We were ecstatic and told him so. On talking to him, you hear a wonderful southern drawl in his voice as his answers were always enhanced with “Yes ma’am” and “Thank you ma’am.” He was professional, charming and very down to earth. In other words, his management skills far surpassed my last manager experience in the place.

After talking to him that day, I decided that the Mulvane Pizza Hut needed a little love. I knew just from town talk, that many in our community had quit going to PH because of similar past experiences to mine. What used to be the place for teachers, business people and families at the noon hour had become a shell of its former self because of poor service and a lack of desire to put the work in to making it a successful and speedy lunch time choice. I decided to learn more about Billy and the PH of today.

Billy graduated high school in 2008 and decided to make the move from his home state of Alabama to the Wichita area. While he worked several different places, over time PH became a job he knew well and stuck with. Working between the Rose Hill PH and Mulvane, Billy went from cook to shift manager and then finally, general manager. By starting basically from the ground up, he learned the business inside out and knew what made a good employee as well as what made the customers happy. As GM, he began applying the skills he learned.

Billy was very honest about his first three months as GM of PH. “They were awful! Plain and simple.” He spent his time trying to fix what was broken at the restaurant and trying to learn what Mulvane customers were looking for in their PH. In all fairness though, he was fighting an uphill battle within the community as he had inherited a wait staff and bad business practices from past managers. He had to start fresh and give Mulvane a reason to come back and give PH a second chance under his new management. How was he doing this? By insisting on good service and an ever present smile from his wait staff, a fully stocked and fresh noon-time buffet and if a mistake happens (as they often do dealing with humans and all) a prompt and courteous resolution to their problem. Sometimes this means him calling the customer personally and letting them know he knows of the problem and he is fixing it.

Billy’s managerial skills seem to be working, because when I went in there the other day to talk to him, the lunch hour was going strong. As he talked to me about his love for his job and his affection for his customers, he pointed to several in the restaurant and told me, “I know my customers. That guy in the white hat, he gets Dr. Pepper no ice and the salad bar. His wife, tea with lemon and also the salad bar. These people are my customers and I know their orders. I work to give them the best.” All I could think was “WOW!”

So I asked Billy, if he felt that PH was now on the right track and what he would like to see in the future. His reply, “I have a huge mountain to climb to gain back the communities confidence in PH and I don’t feel that I am even half way there yet.” It’s true. Mulvane is like any place else, especially when there is an ever growing number of choices for people to eat. If a person gets burned enough times at a restaurant, they will take their business and hard earned money elsewhere. Getting that business back, even under new management can be a tricky proposition.

As for the future of the Mulvane Pizza Hut, Billy’s ideas and enthusiasm for the possibilities were refreshing. He says he plans to continue building staff. It is a bit of a tightrope as he is also trying to rebuild his customer base. As people are hearing word of mouth that the PH under his management is a head and shoulders above the past and his numbers are steadily growing, there is still that up and down business thing where one day they are packed at the lunch hour and the next they may have only half that number, so keeping the right amount of staff right now is tricky. It is getting better though. PH currently has four delivery drivers, two cooks, two shift managers, three servers and Billy. As business increases, these numbers will change.

He is also hoping down the line to get more use out of his conference room. It is a great place to have a noon time meeting with the buffet for lunch. Quick, easy and efficient. They have also had clubs such as a card club who use the room and enjoy a game of cards and the buffet. It would also be great for a special events or parties. It is a great space that because of past experiences is getting overlooked by the community.

Billy also pointed out that during the lunch hour teachers get a 10% discount when they eat there and military always gets a 15% discount. “It’s all about serving the community.”

Down the line, he hopes to institute a possible 2pm-4pm happy hour where you get a drink and a slice of pizza. He also has a couple of other exciting ventures that he would like to keep under his hat pending corporate approval, but when approved will be great for Mulvane and for business.

The bottom line is, the Mulvane Pizza Hut has been a long time staple in our community. Yes, it has gone through some damaging times, but Billy Carroll is working daily to bring it back to what it used to be……a great place to have a quick and delicious lunch at the buffet, an evening sit down dinner with the family or a convenient way to have hot and delicious pizza delivered to your door.

Please though, don’t take my word for this. Go in there, introduce yourself to this hardworking young man (Billy Carroll) and give our PH another chance. I think, like me……you will be very glad you did!

Friday, July 8, 2016


A short story about....lives.

The white persons life is no more important than the black persons life. The black persons life is no more important than the policemans life. The policeman's life matters as much as the firemans and the fireman's as much as the politicians. The politicians life is no more important than the the voters life and the voters life is equally as important as the Presidents. ThePresidents life is not above the Popes life and the Popes life is as important as the Rabbi's. The Rabbi's life is no greater than the ministers and the ministers is equal to those in his congregation. Not one in the congregation has a life that is more important than the atheists and the atheist's life is just as important as the Christians. The Christians lives are equal to but not more important than the addicts life and the addicts life is just as important as the doctors life. A doctors life is not above his patients life and a mothers life is not more important than her unborn childs life. A muslims life is as important as a Buhdist life and country person's life is no less important than a city person's life. A straight persons life is equally important as a gay person's life and a college educated persons life is not above that of a drop out person's life.The homeless persons life is no less important than the rich persons life and the bank investors life is no more important than the day laborors life. The bullies life is no greater than the life of the one he bullies and the teacher's life is every bit as important as the students life. The disabled persons life is as important as the star athletes life and the restaurant servers life is as important as the restaurant owners life. The husbands life is not above his wifes life and the sisters life is every bit as important as the brothers life. So I guess the moral to this story is.....ALL lives matter!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My One and Only 2016 All Out Political Blog

I don't normally talk politics anymore, because....well.....I like to keep my sanity! Yesterday though, when the FBI decided not to proceed with action against Hillary Clinton, I did make a post on Facebook that expressed my frustration. It was fairly short and sweet and then I got busy and didn't come back to it until the middle of the night. What I saw at that point was interesting, disappointing to some degree and a bit scary knowing that this was just the tip of the iceberg as to where this country and it's people are headed. So, I decided to put my full two cents in this one time and then do a lot of praying between now and November.

Please keep in mind that this is my opinion and they are my thoughts and YES....I am entitled to them!!! Please also remember that I don't expect or demand that my family and friends feel the same. I do however expect and yes....even demand, that you respect my right to believe as I do, just as I respect your right to believe as you do.

It used to be that whether you were Republican or Democrat/conservative or liberal......we all wanted basically the same things for this country. We simply were going at those things from different angles. Yes, there were political disagreements, but we all had the common sense to know that we were going after the same things so we didn't tear each other apart in pursuit of our goals.

I know our current political situation did not happen over night, nor was it the responsibility of just one party. We have been running headlong into our current place in history for many years, even decades but the last couple of decades have been almost dibilating and who will pay for this? Our children. 

We have lost all perspective of who we are as a country and as a people. We are not perfect and never have been because we are human, but somewhere along the line.....we have lost track of what this country was founded on. We have lost our pride, our dignity and our respect for those who have fought and died for this country, those who started this country and those we call fellow human beings. We forgot that we aren't owed anything from anyone and that includes our government or our fellow man. We also forgot things like "anything worth having is worth working for," that "some things are worth fighting and yes.....even dying for" and worst of all, we forgot that "if you don't give don't get respect."

In the 1970's, my mother made a profound statement to me that I have never forgotten. It was after Roe v. Wade. Her heart broke that our government made abortion legal and basically said that one human life trumps another "innocent" human life, therefore making it legal to murder/kill/destroy another human life at will. She said, "when we make it easy to disrespect an "innocent" human life in such a way, it will be no time before no life will be respected and we will all be animals in the street killing, maiming and destroying life at will." Forty plus years later and she wasn't wrong. I truly believe that this one act of legislation set the course of things to come.

I will now say, that our last GREAT president was Ronald Reagan. I know there will be many of you that have already started throwing your hissies just hearing the name, but in my opinion....this is pure fact. Did Reagan do it all right as president? No. He was human. Did Reagan lead to the best of his ability? You darn right he did! He was great not because of every decision he ever made, but he was great because of his ability to unite the American people. He never made it an us against them among was an us against them when it came to our enemies and our enemies knew that he was not playing. Reagan was a strong American who believed in a strong America. He made no bones about where the United States stood and what action would be taken if our enemies disrespected us. He was a diplomat and right or wrong.....he always put the American people and the best interest of this country the best of his ability. Not since this man left office have we had a president who has done this....and it shows.

Bush the first, was not presidential material. He tried but the shoes left to fill were way to big for him. He may actually have been the start of what we are reaping today. Bill Clinton was a lot of things, unfortunately being a man of integrity or honesty were not among those things. Clinton could talk the talk, but he could not walk the walk. Luckily for him, he had Monica Lewinsky to redirect and divert attention away from his presidency and he had a faction of the American people willing to be charmed into believing that a president who molests interns and lies about it to the American people all while openly cheating on his wife, is acceptable. Many excused his actions saying that it was his private life, however.....his private actions happened in his business arena and lets face it, if he so easily lied about that, can you be sure he doesn't lie about other things? It speaks to his character as a man and he proved he would lie to save his own skin.

And how about that Hillary? She is not a friend of the truth herself. Apparently her and Bill are of the same character. She would prove that again and again over time. And let us not forget that long before the Clintons came to Washington, there is well documented information on how they conducted themselves and their lack of character going back to Arkansas. Yet somehow, the American people apparently no longer felt that we should hold our president to a higher standard than to be a liar and a philandarer. Now mind you.....Bill is a democrat and his behavior was both accepted and forgiven by democrats far and wide. Think for a minute if you will, if this same behavior had happened to either of the Bush's or Reagan. They would have been tarred and feathered out of the White House and the democrats would have shown no mercy. You know I am right. 

Bush Jr. What can we say about him? I sincerely believe he came into office with one finish what his daddy started. Putting aside all the conspiracy theories.....9/11 gave him what he wanted. Should we have gone to war after 9/11? Yes. Plain and simple because based on the information he had and the American people had, we were full on attacked and when you are attacked, you fight back. You have to show a strong front to your enemies and make them aware that some things are worth fighting freedom. I think though, after the initial call to war, we became lost in a never ending battle that should have taken much less time and should have been much more effective. Bush will not go down in the history books as our finest presidential hour.....especially after 8 years. 

Then came Barrack Obama. This man was nearly as charming as Bill Clinton and many voted for him not because of his credentials but because of his skin color. It was time for a black president! Yes, maybe it was, but not him. The whole rationale of choosing skin color over credentials was racist in itself. It set the stage for many things to come.

I won't even go into the damage he has done to us financially as a country (bye bye A+ rating), nor what he has done to healthcare. And I won't touch upon the fact that he still takes regular bows for work Navy Seals did. And just to keep it real.....I won't even mention Benghazi. What I will talk about is what he has done to the American people. He has single handedly put American race relations back generations. He has caused a divide among the American people that will take decades to fix. He has race baited and if not caused, then supported unrest between blacks and whites and blacks and police. Instead of using his position to unite, he has actively used it to divide and has taken us back to a very dark place in history where Americans are on the verge of both civil and race wars. Not only this, but he has also very methodically worked to make Americans government dependent all while growing governments reach and position. No longer is it about standing on our own two feet, taking care of ourselves and our families and working for what we have. Now it is about government handouts, government freebies and scariest of all.......the government protecting us. We are now taking uncomfortable chapters of history out of our history books, rewriting the past and focusing on it instead of moving forward as a united people.

Gone are the days when free enterprise, inguenuity and hardwork were deemed good things. We have become a glutonous country with a population that doesn't want to work and wants to take from those who do and our president perpetuates this mentality. We feel owed everthing and we have a generation of kids who feel that the government will protect them and take care of them and they can just stare at their phones all day and do as they like. We have a people that will kill over the color of skin, demand their lives be respected and matter, and yet will disrespect the lives of others. We have people that will destroy and loot their own neighborhoods because they don't like a legal judgment and then turn around and expect others tax dollars to fix the damage. Does Obama speak out against this behavior? No...he apologizes to them and sides with their bad behavior....much like he apologizes to our enemies over things the American people should not be apologizing for. He weakens us on every level.....all while promising to protect us. No one else finds this bad and even dangerous form for the president?????

Obama has opened our country up to illegal immigrants and rather than work to became Americans, they take jobs at lower pay, live off the government, get free healthcare and educations and then feel persecuted when legal Americans take offense. I have no problem with anyone coming to this country with a full desire to become an American and work hard and make their own American dream. It is what our country is founded on. My family were immigrants and when they came over to this country, while becoming American citizens they were treated as immigrant scum. They worked as slave labor, were treated as property and NO.....Irish immigrant lives did NOT matter. We did it the right way though. We worked hard and the American dream became our dream....legally. What's more, I am pretty sure we have put the past in the past and I don't blame today's protestant American's for treating my Irish Catholic ancestors like property or a subhuman species. Oops....sorry about the Irish immigrant tangent. 

Ultimately though, by opening our country up to illegals we are messing with jobs, wages, government funds and yes, our safety. Obama seems to be okay with this. I not.

Now we are faced with an election year. The three front runners were Bernie Sanders a socialist running for the democratic party, Hillary Clinton a democrat who up until yesterday was under FBI investigation and Donald Trump, a republican who has no political back ground. Sounds like the bottom of the barrel politicaly and as if the American people had the worst of the worst to pick from.

What I found scary was that the Democratic party split right down the middle when during the primaries, people jumped on the Bernie bandwagon more than happy to sell this country out to socialism. I heard remarks and justifications such as...."we have been a socialist country for years", "Bernie will even things out," (I assume this meant that Bernie will make us all poor and get rid of the American dream unless of course your American dream is to work hard and give it all away), and of course the young people were on board becasue in most cases their extent of political understanding comes from CNN and Facebook. I have a feeling our founding fathers were rolling in their graves which could explain a lot of those earthquakes and global warming we have been dealing with. The interesting thing, a lot of people who had previously shouted Hillary's name to the roof tops suddenly wanted nothing to do with her. She was evil and not good presidential material. No one really wanted to admit they ever even supported Hillary.

Bernie bombed. Guess what? Hillary is the greatest thing since sliced bread again! I am sure some of you would like me to forget I saw you flip flop on Hillary, but I can't. In my opinion after the way Hillary has conducted herself even before Washington, as the first lady and Bill's spouse and in these last few years I find her a liar who will say and/or do anything to protect her own hide (yep she is Bill's wife). She is as anti-woman as it comes as she talks a good game about women all the while knowing how Bill has treated women. She hereself has demonized those women so I don't see her as a great proponent for women. She has allowed soldiers and diplomats to die while comforting their families with the calous words, "What difference does it make?" Yes, there was more to what she said, but those were words that she never should have said. So this woman, with all the finese of an ogre and all the character of a snake, that lies as easily as she breathes, obviously puts her greed for power above what is right and best for this country and SHE is running for the highest office in this country and WE are good with that?

Then there is Donald Trump. I see a lot of never Trump! things posted. Why? Before his run for office, Trump was fairly well respected in the business world. If people didn't particularly like him, they did respect his business accumen. Yes, he had successful businesses and some not so successful businesses. All really financially successful people usually do. I find it funny that some of the people who now speak out against him were some of those who were fighting to be in his presence and be connected with his name and bask in his social circle when he was merely a businessman. I agree that Trump is brash and that he has rough political edges. However, he came into this campaign I believe trying to be as unpolitically correct as possible. I think he knew that the American people were sick and tired of being "correct" when all it has done is get us into this cluster of 2016. He grew supporters by openly saying some things that maybe needed to be said. Things many of us had thought all along, but couldn't because we would be branded a racist for going against not a man, but a black man....regardless of whether what he said or did was right or not.

We have had decades of politicians and all they have done is wreck our economy, circumvent our constitution and further their own powerful political agenda's. It has been a long time since we had a politician in office whose heart beat for this country and not for their own grab at power. Now we have a businessman whom I am sure has his own grab at power in sight, but also I honestly think he loves this country. This country has been good to him. Free enterprise has been good to him. He wants a chance at the American dream....and part of that is running for the White House. Does he not deserve the same right as any other American?

I find it interesting that some of the things that many have degraded Trump for, they have found acceptable in other presidents and presidential candidates. Trumps love of women is not acceptable, but Bills was. Trump makes "presumed" racist remarks and that is not acceptable, but Obama's out right racist attitude and willingness to divide this country are perfectly fine.

So why does Trump scare us so? Why never Trump? Is it because he is not a career politician? Perhaps it is because he has a rogue mouth and attitude. Maybe it is because regardless of his enemies, he is still pushing forward and he is a viable possibility as our next president?!

Quite frankly this election scares me to death. Yes, the candidates give me pause, but more is the people that scare me. There is an underlying willingness for the American people to turn on each other at the drop of a hat. They will pull faux information out of thin air and claim it as fact going after anyone.... friend or otherwise to have their facts viewed as  "right." People are tearing into each other and acting like rabid animals. Individuals who I know are educated suddenly are becoming politically ignorant listening to what they want to hear and only hearing "the truth" if they want it to be the truth. There is no longer a respect for those with differening opinions or political views and I fear for this country and the people......regardless of how this election turns out.

I love this country. I love my freedom and quite frankly......not voting is not an option. I will vote but before that, I will continue to watch the candidates, listen to what they say and research not only their political/business backgrounds but also their characters. I will do my own research and not rely on Facebook, main stream media or anyone elses opinion. When I do cast my ballot, I will know in my heart that while participating in this great right and responsibility, that I am voting my conscience and that it will be a decision..... that I can live with for the next four years. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Never Trump! Hillary! Bernie!

I pray constantly. Most of the time it sounds a lot like....."Lord give me strength." Us being in an election year though, it is sounding more and more like...."Lord give me guidance!" 

This election year literally bewilders me, but more than that, it scares me to death. I can't believe what we have done to our country and what the consequences of our collective bad choices are! It is bad when you don't even have the lesser of two evils to vote for and when all you have left is EVIL.

We have been a country that has been led astray by greed, self indulgence, narcissism and a sense of entitlement that is enough to make a persons head spin. We have strayed from all the things that made this country great and have become lazy and apathetic. Instead of working for the American Dream, we somehow have the idea that we are entitled to it without lifting a finger.

Gone are the days when we worked hard, refused handouts and fought our way from the bottom to the top to achieve our dreams. No longer is there pride in hard work and good ethics. Now we expect as a nation to be taken care of and we resent those who do succeed on their own merit and hard work. We want something for nothing and unfortunately......that attitude and mentality has brought us to three possible candidates for president, all who terrify me.

Now I am no political whiz and quite frankly, I have tried to avoid politics as much as possible in the last few years. Obama was a frightening lesson in people voting because of anything other than qualification and his legacy will be a mess that my great grandchildren will still be trying to overcome....if that's even possible. However, an American if we don't pay attention and vote carefully, what is left of our country will be unrecognizable.

My entire life I have seen myself as a Republican. The values and beliefs of the "old" Republican party were what I identified closely with. Now though, I am a Constitutional Conservative Christian (CCC) and I am having a very difficult time identifying with anyone who is running in this election.

What is a CCC you ask? I believe in God. I believe in the Constitution and I believe in family. I believe that all life is precious and has a place from natural conception to natural death. Yes, I am pro-life....and no....not just pro-birth. I also believe in common sense, meaning if you are not mature enough to be a parent or don't want to be a parent, that you use common sense and avoid the creation of a human life. It's not rocket science. I also believe that hard work and innovation are the keys to success. We should help our fellow man get on their feet, but those who are capable should work and support themselves. We should have the right to speak freely, but with that right should come common sense and a respect for that which has given you that right. We should be allowed to protect ourselves and our families against those who would try to hurt us and yes....even against a government who forgets that they serve the people and not the other way around. I believe that if you work hard and succeed, that while helping others is an act of generosity and is not mandatory that you support those who refuse to support themselves. I believe in programs that help people to find their way in life and to help themselves, not programs that enable laziness and entitlement through hand outs. I believe in education, freedom and that all men/women are created equal. I believe in equal rights....NOT special rights. I believe in small government and a government that remembers they are but elected officials, not dictators. I believe that America should be welcoming of anyone who wishes to come to this country legally and who wishes to work hard and grab their piece of the American Dream. I do not however feel that our doors should be open to those who wish our country harm or to those who only see us as a free handout with no obligation on their part. I believe that while there should be a division of Church and State, Christianity should not be shunned while beliefs such as Muslim and Atheists are embraced. Finally, I believe in the Constitution and feel that it is still as relevant today as it was the day it was signed. So you see....I am not sure there is a candidate running that I can identify with, support and/or contentiously vote for. It is scary.

So let's see what we are dealing with here:

Hillary Clinton....I see a criminal. Her illegal activities and questionable ethics long preceded her and Bills time in the White House and her lack of concern over Benghazi along with her email escapades don't scream leader in my book. She lies as easily as she breathes. Her actions do however scream orange jump suit and treason. And as for her running in support of women.....I call BS. Hillary has stood back and watched Bill womanize and disrespect women for years and she has allowed it to happen. She disrespects women who do not agree with her political stance and she obviously has little self respect or Bill would be her ex instead of in the running for First "Lady." Nope not a political candidate I can get behind.

Bernie Sanders....oh the liberals dream. Bernie is a socialist pure and simple. He will give handouts and force anyone who actually does have a job and makes money to do the same. What is left of this country will be gone because Bernie will give it away. Feel the Bern. Yes we will all feel the Bern much like I would assume we would with a really bad case of VD. If Bernie gets elected, freedom will no longer be free. Our Constitutional rights will be chock full of limitations and government will grow exponentially because the people will "need" to be taken care of. Our country will be unrecognizable and all that our fore fathers have fought for, will officially be gone. We will be a broken, broke shell of country and easy pickings for a takeover by our enemies. Soon we will be nothing and the days of a Great America will have died.

Donald a conservative....he scares me. I can't figure him out and I feel like he maybe a lot of talk, with nothing to back it up. He obviously has no political or social tact when it comes to speaking and he has alienated much of his own party because of his choice of words alone. I worry that much of what he says that is conservative speak, is either a smoke screen or can't be backed up with action because he doesn't have the resume to make it happen. That being said, I do like the fact that he isn't politically correct and says what many of us have been thinking for a while. But then that for show or is that just a raw, uncut part of who he is? You would think having been a successful business man and dealing with everyone from politicians to business people that he might be a bit more polished when speaking. Sadly, I am not sure he is any better than the other two, but when I see people saying "Never Trump!" then I question....but who? Because in my opinion, I kind of feel the same way about Bernie and Hillary. So if it is "Never Trump, Bernie or Hillary," what the hell are we gonna do?

So yeah, as I said....I do a lot of praying. I as an American, don't have an answer for this election and without some Divine intervention when it comes to our right to vote, after the 2016 election.....what we may actually be looking at is......."Never Again!"

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gorilla vs Child

In the case of Harambe the gorilla who was recently killed at the Cincinnati Zoo, yes...I am sad that he had to die but I am also a little alarmed that people put an animal's life above the safety of a child. I am also saddened at what a judgmental world we have become to brand the child's mother "neglectful" and a "bad parent" even when eye witness accounts say the mother had her son right with her and was warning him away from the fence just seconds before he slipped through. Yes, I am alarmed and saddened but not surprised.

In our current world where the internet shows us a myriad of pictures and videos of animals "acting" like humans and those watching obviously believing they have a human side, it somehow makes sense that people would be much more willing to fight for animal rights than they are for human rights. It's kind of ridiculously sad if you think about it. I guess because of this, no one should be surprised at the out cry in defense of a 400 lb. gorilla who likely would have killed this child had the zoo not intervened as it did.

The fact is, gorillas, bears, lions, etc are WILD animals. Even when "trained" or "domesticated" there is no guarantee that these animals won't get startled or revert to their most basic animal instincts....regardless of how many cute animal videos you watch on the internet. When that happens it is human vs. beast and the human is not likely to win that battle.

The internet is in full out cry and lynch mob mode that those in charge at the Cincinnati Zoo made the call to kill the animal, even though they explained their protocol and they are the experts on the situation. However, it does not keep Joe Public from sitting behind his computer saying "Awww poor innocent gorilla. He was just taking care of the boy." I saw the video and Harambe was most definitely NOT taking care of the boy. He was dominating the boy. You didn't have to be trained in animal behavior to see that.

Sadly, the likelihood that any of these indignant people have ever been closer to a gorilla than reinforced plexiglass or zoo cages is slim to none. They have never worked with these animals and don't know their true personalities or what the likely outcome would be of such a tragic incident. It's easy to be an armchair zookeeper when your screen saver is a grizzly saying "I haza cheezburger?" However, if you listen to the "real" experts, the people who work with these animals and know their temperament, they all say the same thing. The zoo acted responsibly. Harambe under the best situation...meaning people not excitedly screaming like crazy....would likely have ended up hurting or more likely, killing the boy. It might have been unintentional, but a 30 lb child being drug through the water is no match for a 400 lb gorilla. Add in the screaming people and that poor gorilla was likely very agitated. He was in protect mode and he was standing his ground. That little boy meant nothing to him.

One expert said that yes, they could have tranquilized him, but before he went down he would have gotten crazy as they don't go down immediately. Since the boy was between his legs, he would likely have been severely injured if not killed before Harambe actually became tranquilized. The zoo and all those who knew what they were doing, acted appropriately. They put the boys life first and that is as it should have been. The out come was sad, but would have been much sadder if the boy had been killed right there in front of everyone.

As for the armchair quarter backing of the mom...... So all you parents who have raised your kids without even one near miss, raise your hand. If you are honest.....there are no hands raised. The fact is, if you are a have lost your kid, dropped your kid, forgot your kid or watched your kid get hurt at least once and probably more times than you would like to admit. It doesn't make you a bad neglectful parent. It simply makes you a parent. You can't protect their every move. It is simply not possible. Believe me...I have tried....and failed!

All eye witness accounts say that the zoo was busy and that the mom was being attentive to her child. The little boy said he wanted in with the gorillas and she had told him no! This is not unusual, as kids want to be most places they are not suppose to be. They also have no fear of anything. That gorilla to him was a big cuddly stuffed thing he wanted to play with. Perhaps his parents had shown him videos of a gorilla cuddling a puppy. Yes....that was sarcasm. At any rate, it was at that moment.....his mission became  to play with that gorilla. And any parent knows when a toddler is on a mission, they are slippery, sneaky and very quick. It's what toddlers do! The mother turned her back for one moment to take a picture and that is all it took. The boy was gone. It has happened to all of us and yet you would think this was a singular case. The rest of us are just lucky our kids didn't try to crawl in with a lion or a bear.

So what are we now doing? Are we trying to set up a precedence that if a toddler does what they do best, that the parent faces charges? Looks like a lot of us will be doing time then. Yes, because that is what our legal system needs. More bogus cases clogging up the system and costing the tax payers money.

Bottom line is that people are being ridiculous. This was an accident plain and simple. Remember those? Where something unfortunate and unplanned happens but it really isn't anyone's fault. Perhaps some of you die-hard people out there who think the lady wasn't being a good parent, would like to have seen her have a leash on her kid. Oh, but no.....then you would have had a whole other reason to criticize her parenting skills.

I do find it sad that Harambe had to die, but I applaud the zoo for acting so quickly and for those who knew what they were doing, jumping into action and saving the child. I also feel a great deal of empathy for the mother who I have no doubt felt plenty of guilt already for her son breaking free and that was long before the opinions of America chimed in making it worse. I am sure it is a scare she will never forget and a situation she will never allow again. So lets save our parental rage for the parents who starve and physically and sexually abuse their kids. Just a thought.

Please people.....get over your mob mentality and get off your judgmental high horse. But for the grace of God that could have been any one of us parents...... and every last parent out there knows it. Lets just hope that a lesson was learned by all and maybe perhaps more zoo's might think about toddler proofing themselves just a little bit better. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day In My Town

I woke up this morning thinking about Memorial Day as a kid. It was the official end of the school year and the official beginning of summer. It was always hot, the town pool was open, people were off work, everything was closed and it was a day of patriotism and remembrance along with celebration and family.

Lawns were mowed on Saturday and cars were washed. Garages were cleaned out and barbecue grills were spiffed up and made ready for a big day of grilling. Flags were flown on every house and driveways, front yards and porches were full of people talking, laughing and remembering those who had fought so that their Memorial Days could be so picturesque.

For me, moving to and growing up in this small town was life changing. The wannabe writer in me even back then, knew the importance of the sensory experience of these moments and that many would either not be repeated or would some day fade away into an ever changing world. Even all these years later, I have held on to many of those images and the smells, the feel and wondering even at such a young age if one day my kids would experience this or if it would merely be unfathomable stories to their young minds.

So I have started walking again and today, after lying in bed thinking about the past, I decided to walk my 4 mile trek around town and see what my small town was doing in 2016 on Memorial Day. I vowed as I walked out the door to take pictures and to walk more slowly than usual as I wanted once again, the sensory experience that I seldom had time for anymore. I wanted to see this a kid again.

It is a warm, humid morning full of sunshine. My usual bustling little town is quiet. Traffic on the main drag is nil and in places it is so still I can hear my own heart beat. I try to remember how the sun felt as a child and how excited I would have been that summer was finally here, but my adult brain was taking me to the thoughts of how free I was. How amazing it was that I could walk no particular place in no particular time and how much I was enjoying it. I was trying to imagine what life would be like without the freedom to come and go as I please and I could feel a knot starting to form in my stomach at even the thought of such a thing. Yes....Memorial Day....a time to remember those who fought and died, so that I might have a peaceful walk without limitations.

I walked passed the city building with its flag waving majestically over head. Our flag. The flag that has been abused, stepped on, burned and yet still it stands. Amazing. And I walked on. As I walked through the main street of town flags adorned the center posts. There was not a soul other than myself as I headed down the street and yet I was not alone. With me stood all those that had built this town, worked in this town and yes....died for this town. It was such a feeling of belonging and also a feeling of loss.

As I headed west and then back south, the smell of charcoal and smoke was already permeating the air. Many cars lined the streets as family and friends started to gather for celebrations and barbecues. Kids could be seen riding bikes and playing in yards. The whir of lawn mowers could be heard here and there as lawns were finally dry enough from all the mow. Garage doors were open and people were sitting in lawn chairs with music drifting on the air. As is small town etiquette, they would smile and wave as I went by, none I am sure realizing, that I was searing their image, the sound and the smell into my brain. None knew that one question kept popping into my head. What if these days, these celebrations, these moments of freedom.....are numbered? I had to remember them. I had to remember this walk.

On the south side of town, I heard the occasional rooster crow and neighborhood dogs would stand at their fences and bark "hello" as I walked by. Even in the humidity, the tree lined streets gave off shade and ever so often a slight breeze could be felt. It was surreal beauty at its finest.

I looked at the houses as I walked by. Some were homes of friends that I had gone to school with or had grown up with. Some houses had seen better days and some had been given new life. There were beautifully manicured lawns and lawns that needed a green thumb and much love. Regardless, they were a part of the scenery of my life and each felt special as if I would miss it terribly if I walked by and it weren't there.

I walked past the park that used to hold the city pool. I spent so many summers in that pool with my friends. I stood quietly for a moment and I could almost hear the laughter, the splashing, the life guards whistle and the sound of the radio coming from the concession stand. I felt real loss at that moment for even though we now have a new pool on the edge of town, my kids will never know this pool and just how integral to our summers it was for generations of kids.

The more I walked, the more I realized how intertwined my soul and my heart were with this town. I understood fully how I was a small town girl and how grateful I was that my youthful dreams of being a writer in New York City had never panned out. My heart would not have lasted a week in a place where I couldn't hear my own thoughts or have listened to the trains as they passed through town or walked tree lined streets where everyone waved whether they knew you or not. No....this is home. This is where I belong.

As my walk was soon to end, a sadness creeped over me. As much as I loved this place, there was something missing and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I continued walking down my street, trying to figure out what was bothering me. As I looked at my neighbors house, it hit me. I knew what the sadness was and it was quite profound. In front of me stood my neighbors house and proudly from the front porch, gently waved the flag. It was solitary and singular and it represented all that this day stood for. It was at this moment I realized that yes.....the town had flags, but of all the houses I walked by.....only a handful had a flag flying. I immediately jumped back to those days of childhood where every home had a flag and where it was flown every Memorial Day without fail. Maybe we truly were coming to a time in our world, our town, where freedom was a dying right, being replaced by ignorance, apathy and a huge disregard for what this country was founded on and who fought to keep it free. I almost cried.

My walk was over and my emotions were raw. The sensory tour had been a little more than I had been prepared for. I had one more yearly event that I needed to do and although I wasn't sure I was up for it, it had to be done. I got in the car, flowers and flags in hand and headed for the cemetery. I drove out south of town thinking that I was pretty emotional and I hate to cry. I had to see my mom though and my husband and all those whose lives were a part of me and a part of my town.

As I drove into the cemetery, my heart jumped. Before me stood a row of big beautiful flags that lined the entire center of the cemetery. There were cars everywhere as people came out to pay their respects and honor those who had gone before them. The graves were adorned with flowers and flags and there was a sea of red, white and blue for as far as the eye could see. My town had not forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. They had not lost their pride of country or freedom. It was here....where it should be. Remembering the men and women who fought and died so that we all might be free.

Tears ran down my face as I took in everything. It was amazing and I knew I would never as long as I lived forget that moment. Yes....this is my town!

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

And We Laughed....and We Laughed....and We laughed

Have you ever laughed so hard that you literally had tears running down your face? You snorted? You couldn't breathe? You even peed a little? Guilty!!!! I love to laugh. There is simply nothing better....unless perhaps it is my own humor. Yeah....that is definitely better.

Many of you may not know it, but I am hysterical. No....really! I am! I think I came out of the womb thinking knowing I was funny. I remember as a kid often having a "witty" comeback when Mom told me to do something. Mom called it talking back, I however, called it...."me being funny." Mom and I often had to agree to disagree on my humor.

I was never openly disrespectful to Mom, or anyone for that matter, but things would just pop into my head and they had to come out. Sometimes I thought them so funny that I was hysterically laughing before I could even say them. On occasion I would see the corners of my mothers mouth go into a half-smile, but never more than that because she was not about to encourage my hilarity. In fact she spent a lot of time cautioning me about my mouth and my "humor" and warning me that someday it would get me in trouble. It has a time or two, but only because people didn't understand how funny I a really am. (wink)

In my defense, I come from a pretty darn funny family. Believe it or mom's side of the family was filled with humorous characters and funny stories. My grandfather once shot his own reflection in a mirror, thinking it was an intruder. Grandma killed a snake and put it on the walk heading up to the house knowing Grandpa was scared of snakes. Yes...these are my kin. Explains a lot now doesn't it.

Now Mom was funny too and she had an amazing sense of humor.....which usually showed up in church. Put her with her sister and it was like two 10 year old little girls sitting together. They would look at each other and you could see it start. Why were they laughing? Who knew, but before long....both had their heads down and were literally shaking and trying to keep from snorting out loud. At my cousins wedding rehearsal they got so tickled they were both laying in the pew....yes....they were snorting. The mother of the groom was not amused. Neither was my other aunt who threatened to take them outside if they didn't behave. They only laughed harder.  Eventually after years of  this kind of behavior, my mom and aunt realized that sitting in the same pew during Mass was a recipe for disaster so they ended up sitting across the church from each other and out of each others line of site. I think Father sent them each a thank you letter.

My aunt was not the only one who could get my mom going in church though. Once my mom, my brother and I all went to confession on a Saturday afternoon. We walked into the pew....Mom first, then my brother and then myself. Neither my brother nor I were paying attention and I guess we both assumed Mom had put down the kneeler. She had not. Both of us went to kneel down and hit the ground chinning ourselves on the pew in front of us. Let me just say......I'm sure it looked a lot funnier than it felt. Mom looked over at us and started to laugh. Neither my brother nor I were amused, Mom however was. She laughed and she laughed. Tears began to form in her eyes and we knew her trademark snort was just around the corner. Watching her trying to unsuccessfully hold back the snort got us to laughing too. It was contagious and none of us could control ourselves.I am sure Father wondered what was going on, not to mention the others who had come for confession and got a show. So you see, I am obviously funny.....even when I don't mean to be. It's a gift I tell you.

Through the years, I have surrounded myself with friends who are 1) either as funny as I am or 2) appreciate how funny I am. Yeah, I know.....if you are my friend, you know what I am talking about. Whether it was hiding from the cops behind a fridge on New Years eve, laughing our way to St. Louis or having the pleasure of being my wing person as I make up fake identities at a know how funny I am. You also know who you are.

My kids have also spent many years dealing with my humor. They, like my mother have not always appreciated my quick wit and at times I am sure I have even embarrassed the tapioca out of them, but along the way....I have also taught them to have a sense of humor and to laugh....even when life doesn't throw a lot of "funny" your way.  

In case you weren't aware....I am not your ordinary mother. As I have gotten older my humor at times has crossed over to the dark side and my mouth can be a bit irreverent. When my kids were young though, I always tried to keep my words and my humor appropriate around them, but even the best of us has our slip ups. I think Z finally realized who he was dealing with when he was about 8 years old. At that point in his life, I rarely cussed and the F-word was strictly forbidden in our house. Then came the day that Z saw a different side of me. The side that changed his view of me......forever!

Z and I were out outside working in the yard and we came upon a snake. Now this snake was huge and seemed to be squaring up for a fight. Z jumped into action, trying to be my big protector. He picked up a nearby brick to kill it. Now here is where I should tell you that I was wearing flip flops, not knowing that steel-toed boots might have served me better that day. Z threw the brick at the snake and missed it by a mile, however....he did NOT miss my big uncovered, unprotected, freshly polished toe. The brick left a huge gash right across the nail and actually broke the toe. The pain was immediately excruciating and as I grabbed my foot and began to hop around....from my mouth flew the words F*ck a Duck! Now never in my life had I used that particular I have no idea where it came from. What I do know is that it was loud enough that everyone on my block probably heard it and I turned to see Z white as a ghost with his mouth and eyes equally wide open. I am not sure whether it was the words that came from my mouth, the dance of pain I was doing or the expression  on my face, but all of a sudden my 8 year old just burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard that he doubled over. He obviously had inherited our families signature snort as he was snorting and trying to catch his breath. Even in my state of pain, watching my son gasp for air as he laughed at this unfortunate incident....well it got me to laughing too. And we laughed.....and we laughed.....and we laughed. By the snakes were injured or even remotely traumatized during this little incident. My toe however.....was not as lucky.

I think it was at this moment that he realized who his mother really was and I realized that my son, like me,  had an amazing sense of humor. As Z has grown, I have had a glimpse into what my mother might possibly have dealt with....with me. I have been the recipient of his "witty" comebacks and his humorous remarks that were so funny in his head, he almost couldn't get them out. He like his mother is pretty darn funny and sometimes together.....well lets just say.....only the truly funny can hang with us.

So yeah...I'm funny. And apparently....I, like generations before me....have passed this onto a whole new generation. For this, all I can say is.....your welcome!