Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for May 2022

Read SF Giants Manager’s Important Words — Do It Today #MustRead

with 20 comments

Tonight, I read an exceptionally well-written article about gun violence from former Milwaukee Brewers player and current San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler. He explored this topic through the issue of a moment of silence on the field before every major league baseball game, and points out that’s not enough.

Here is the article: https://kaplifestyle.com/2022/05/27/home-of-the-brave

And a relevant quote:

When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t. I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.

This particular time, an 18 year old walked into a store, bought multiple assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, walked into a school with an armed resource officer and its own police district and was able to murder children for nearly an hour. Parents begged and pleaded with police officers to do something, police officers who had weapons and who receive nearly 40% of the city’s funding, as their children were being murdered.

We elect our politicians to represent our interests. Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love.

But we weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free. The police on the scene put a mother in handcuffs as she begged them to go in and save her children. They blocked parents trying to organize to charge in to stop the shooter, including a father who learned his daughter was murdered while he argued with the cops. We aren’t free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without needing bulletproof backpacks and active shooter drills.

GABE KAPLER, “HOME OF THE BRAVE?” ESSAY
https://kaplifestyle.com/2022/05/27/home-of-the-brave

When I see something as well-written as this, whether I agree with it or not — and here, I obviously do agree with it! — I try to pass the words along.

I realize there are people who regularly read my blog who will not appreciate this post. But I urge you to read Gabe Kapler’s words anyway, in the same way I read George Will’s writing or Max Boot’s, because while I don’t often agree with either Will or Boot, I appreciate how they use language to make their points.

One, final word: Gabe Kapler articulated all of this better than anyone I’ve yet seen. Read his important words.

Read them NOW.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 27, 2022 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

My Thoughts on the Uvalde Shooting

with 24 comments

Folks, I thought about this for a few days before posting. I didn’t want to just pop off, as I felt that was unfair to the subject matter.

That said, here goes.

I’m extremely frustrated, upset, and unhappy over the recent shooting up of an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman (who as usual I will not name) was a high-school senior and he was not going to graduate. This made him so upset, he shot two teachers to death, at least 19 children to death (as there are more in the hospital, conditions unknown), and argued with his own grandmother beforehand and shot her, too. (Last I read, she was still in critical condition, but alive.)

This makes it sound like this shooter did this on the spur of the moment, but he didn’t.

We know this because he bought two guns, legally, and bought a great deal of ammunition, again legally. He did this just after he turned eighteen.

His only purpose seems to have been to create terror and heartbreak. He has unfortunately succeeded.

The gunman is dead, which somehow doesn’t seem like nearly enough punishment for what he’s done.

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who’s running for Governor of Texas, showed up at the press conference to demand answers. I don’t know how I feel about this because on one hand, I understand why he’s frustrated and upset — and I certainly share that. (I also will point out that Beto was one of the first people on the scene in 2019 when some depraved butthole shot twenty-three people to death at an El Paso Walmart and injured another twenty-three, all because he didn’t like Hispanic people. Beto raised money for the victims and their families and performed many acts at that time that seemed quite selfless.) I also am sure that if I had represented Texas in the House of Representatives, as Beto did for years, I’d be furious at the lack of improvements in the laws of Texas.

But it’s worse than that.

Recently — within the past few months, I believe — gun laws in Texas have been weakened by the current sitting Governor, Greg Abbott (R). The weakening that angers me most is this: there used to be a mandate saying everyone who buys a gun needs to go through a gun safety course. (I agree with this. It makes sense.) Now, however, no one has to do that.

Perhaps this is why Beto went to the press conference and started yelling at Governor Abbott.

Even so, I feel it was the wrong time and the wrong place for that. The parents are grieving. The teachers — the survivors, who know two of their own are dead — are grieving. The police in that area are grieving (one policeman lost a daughter and another his wife). The people of the area are grieving, too.

While I believe the way Governor Abbott behaved was wrong (he wasn’t polite, from what I’ve seen), and am further sickened by the fact that Abbott went to a fund-raiser later that evening from various TV reports rather than stay and try to comfort the victims and their families, I still wish Beto O’Rourke hadn’t confronted him there.

I understand Beto’s anger. I understand why he’s frustrated. I understand and agree with the fact that those laws should never have been weakened.

But when people are grieving, you need to help them heal. Beto knew that in El Paso in 2019.

That’s why I wish he’d not let his anger get the best of him.

Anyway, I remain sickened by the loss of life, the loss of potential in all those ten-year-old kids, the loss of two gifted teachers, and the loss of innocence in and around Uvalde as so many people they knew and loved have died.

Wisconsin is nowhere near Texas. I can’t drive to Uvalde and offer food, or a shoulder to cry on, or lay a wreath at the elementary school’s entrance.

I feel impotent. My rage at more senseless, unnecessary deaths has no place to go, because I know most of the politicians in office in Washington, DC, will do nothing at all, even after innocent children and their innocent teachers have died.

While I of course will pray for the innocent souls, and I will not forget them, thoughts and prayers are no longer enough.

I have no answers. I only have questions.

I wish I knew what to say to put an end to this horrible, awful, grotesque, disgusting and reprehensible behavior.

But I don’t.

Now, you all have the floor: what do you think should be done about gun violence? (Is there anything we can do? If so, what? And what do you think about Beto O’Rourke’s behavior?)

Responses, as always, must be polite or they will be deleted.

My Thoughts, As A Widow, On Recent “This is Us” Episodes

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(What a pretentious title, huh? But it was the best I could do…moving on.)

My Mom and I have watched NBC’s TV show “This is Us” about the Pearson clan for several years. (I can’t recall if we watched it regularly until the third year, but we did watch.) I’ve had a great deal of empathy for various characters. I remember Randall (played by Sterling K. Brown), the Black man raised in a white family, meeting his biological father for the first time. That was both difficult and heartening, all by itself; when the Pearsons, en masse, decided to welcome William (Randall’s bio father), it became something more.

Anyway, the matriarch of the Pearsons is Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore. We see her when she’s young and heavily pregnant; we see her when she’s in her late twenties/early thirties, raising her kids; we see her in her fifties and sixties, after her first husband’s passed away and she’s married her second one; we see her, finally, with Alzheimer’s disease, dying with her kids and grandkids around her.

Rebecca’s story is the one that I took to the most, over time. (This is not surprising, I suppose.) She loved her first husband Jack with everything that she had, and when he died unexpectedly, still in his prime, her world collapsed.

I understand how that feels extremely well.

Rebecca, unlike me, had three children who were all teenagers. She still had to be there for them. She also had good friends, including Miguel (the man who later became her second husband), her husband’s best friend. The friends helped Rebecca and her kids accustom themselves to a life with a Jack-sized hole in it.

This was not easy for any of them. Jack was an interesting, kind, funny, hard-working, loving man who adored his wife and was so ecstatic to be a father. He had his faults, including battles with alcoholism, that he tried to hide from his wife (and mostly did hide, successfully, from his children). But his virtues far outweighed his flaws.

Obviously, Jack’s loss was hardest on Rebecca. She was still in her prime, in her late thirties/early forties. She hadn’t expected to be a widow, much less so soon. But she was one, and she had to adapt on the fly, just as her kids were starting to flee the nest.

As her kids married, divorced, remarried, had children, and lived their lives, one thing was clear: even if their spouses had been divorced, they were still part of the Pearson clan. They were still welcome at every family function. They were included, not excluded, because the Pearsons believed “the more the merrier,” which probably came from Rebecca being pregnant with triplets in the first place. (The third triplet died, which is why Rebecca and Jack adopted Randall, who was born on the same day and needed a family as his mother had died and his father — then — was completely unknown.)

Of course, there were oddities that happened to the Pearsons. (How else? Life itself is strange.)

One of them was when Randall’s father, William, made contact with Rebecca and Jack when Randall was quite young. William felt Randall was better off where he was, as William was battling a drug addiction along with poverty and much frustration; that was an extremely hard decision, but one that reaped major dividends late in life when Randall (in his thirties, roughly) found that William had known a) he was Randall’s bio father and b) where Randall was the entire time. Randall forgave William, in time, and as I said before, the Pearsons welcomed William until the day William died.

That said, for many fans, the oddest oddity of them all was the fact of Miguel marrying Rebecca. We knew Miguel was with Rebecca from the start (or nearly), because “This is Us” has always told its story in a non-linear fashion. We also knew that Miguel was Jack’s best friend, that he was appreciative of Rebecca from the start (he told Jack to make sure he married Rebecca, because “someone else” would; maybe even he didn’t know that someone else, someday, would be Miguel himself), and that while Jack lived Miguel made no moves (as a quality human being, of course he didn’t).

Because of the jumping back and forth in time effect, though, until the last few episodes it was impossible to tell when Miguel had married Rebecca. (That Rebecca had developed Alzheimer’s, and Miguel was caring for her until his own death, was something explored in great depth this past season.)

Why?

Well, Miguel didn’t get an episode revolving around him until a few weeks ago. That’s when I found out that Miguel had waited several years, had moved away to a different state, and made sure his feelings were real (and not something conjured out of pity and the deep, abiding friendship he’d always had with Rebecca while Jack was still alive) before he married Rebecca.

We still didn’t see his marriage, which was the second marriage for both of them. (Miguel’s first marriage ended in divorce.) But we saw how he took care of Rebecca. He was tender, kind, compassionate, loving, and altogether the right person for her after Jack died.

I was happy she found another good man to love.

This may sound odd, if you’ve read my blog for years. I thought for quite a few years that my heart was not big enough to admit another love — romantic love, anyway — after Michael’s way-too-early death.

While I found out that was wrong, the two men I’ve cared about in the past few years did not end up growing with me in the same way. They did not want the same things. (Or in one case, even if he had, he could not express that. He is neuro-divergent.)

The man who might’ve been “my Miguel” was Jeff Wilson, who died in 2011. Jeff didn’t know Michael, so that part wouldn’t be analogous. But Jeff knew I was the person I am because of Michael. Jeff also was my best friend of many years (seven, at the time of his death), and during his fatal health crisis said to me, with a weary yet humorous tone in his voice, “Can we please proceed to the dating phase now?”

I’ll never know what would’ve happened had Jeff lived. But I knew I was going to try, and I told him that.

Then he died, after he’d been improving; his death was unexpected, and he was only a year older than Michael had been when Michael died.

So, two men. Both interesting, intelligent, funny, hard-working, creative…both themselves, indelibly themselves, and I cared about them — loved them — both. (I did not yet have romantic love for Jeff, but I certainly was getting there at the time of his death. I definitely had agape love and philios also.)

Anyway, Rebecca’s death episode was this past Tuesday. She was pictured on a train. She saw William (acting as the conductor); she saw her obstetrician (acting as a bartender). She saw her kids, possibly including her deceased triplet (I wasn’t sure about that), at various ages. She heard the various well-wishes of the Pearson clan, including from her daughter’s ex-husband, her son Kevin’s wife (he’d only married twice, to the same woman, but many years apart), and her sons. But she was waiting “for something”…

As she’s waiting, she sees Miguel, a passenger on the train. He salutes her with his drink, and tells her she’s still his favorite person.

This made me cry.

Miguel got no more time in that episode, which upset me. I thought Rebecca should’ve gone to him, hugged him, and said “thank you.” Her mentation has been restored, on the train; she knows that Miguel helped her while she was so ill with Alzheimer’s. She also got a second wonderful husband in addition to her first, which is very rare…yet while she smiled at him, and seemed happy to see him, she didn’t go to him.

This made me even sadder.

The end of the episode came when her daughter, Kate, was able to get there (she’d been overseas). As she says goodbye, Rebecca clearly crosses over and enters “the caboose,” where her first husband, Jack, waits.

That’s where the episode ended.

I don’t know what’ll happen in the finale of “This is Us.” I do hope that Miguel’s contribution to Rebecca’s life, and to the entire life of the Pearson clan, will somehow be recognized. (Her children all told her to say “hey” to their father for them, but no one asked her to hug Miguel if they saw him. That, too, bugged me, but maybe the writers wrote it and they had no time to get it into the episode.) It’s obvious that without him in her later years (even before she got Alheimer’s), there wouldn’t have been as much acceptance and love from the Pearsons as a whole.

Anyway, my take as a widow is that I want there to be some recognition of how much good Miguel did for Rebecca, and that Jack had no problems with it as Miguel both made her happy and helped her as her mentation declined. (Miguel also still saw Rebecca as the same person, even with her mind going; her own children couldn’t always do that, as her daughter Kate pointed out in a recent episode.)

To be able to love again after such tragedy was wonderful. To not express thankfulness and gratitude for loving again…well, had it been me in that position, I hope I’d have done better.

(And yes, I know they’re all characters. Not real people. But they surely felt real, which is why I hope that Mandy Moore wins an Emmy for her portrayal of Rebecca and that Jon Huertas wins an Emmy as well for his excellent supporting work.)

Very Quick Monday Update

with 5 comments

Folks, the last week or so, I’ve been running on empty.

Why? Well, as I said, I had priority edits to work on. One has been completed, and I plan to discuss it as soon as the book comes out. Four more are in process with various authors, and one of those nears completion also.

But of course that’s not the only reason.

Last week, Friday, I walked into the urgent care clinic. I knew I felt lousy. My throat hurt so much, I couldn’t sip water without pain. I was using either Chloraseptic or Sucrets (both of which have mouth-numbing properties) to be able to swallow, and most of the food I’d eaten in the previous week consisted of soup, oatmeal, and rice.

Anyway, the rapid strep test came back negative. But as I had red spots at the back of my throat that were not consistent with a sinus infection (these people have seen me many times, possibly as much or more than my regular physician), and as I wasn’t feeling well whatsoever, I was prescribed antibiotics.

The antibiotics, in short, have kicked me in the teeth.

Perhaps that’s what I need, in order to get better. I know the next few weeks will be hectic, as the Racine Concert Band will have rehearsals before our May concert, and I know it’s very difficult for me to allow myself to rest when I have so much work left to do. (And that’s not even talking about the writing I need to do for my own purposes, much less the music composition. I was in the middle of writing a march for a good friend of mine, and that has to stay on hold, too.)

But that does not mean I enjoy feeling like I’ve been run over by a bus. (Then again, if I did, wouldn’t you have to wonder about me?)

I’ve done everything I can toward helping my family as I was able during the past week. I think things are set up well enough that I can rest and hopefully heal without having to expend too much energy. I also think it’s possible that if I do this, I can go to the rehearsal on Thursday for the RCB and enjoy playing music with them.

That said, I’m trying to rest, heal, edit when my body lets me (may it please let me today, later, as I do have that priority project waiting for a few good hours of my time and concentration), and think good thoughts.

One final thought: There is a lot of outright despair at the moment. Folks are very angry, and it isn’t getting better (the divisive issue of abortion isn’t helping in the US; for the record, I believe in “safe, legal, and rare” as desperate women used to use Lysol as an abortifacient and that was extremely hazardous). We seem to have forgotten that we’re all human, and we have more in common than not.

I urge people to find their empathy, fast.

In the case of abortion, I’ve known some very good pro-life folks who worked hard for women’s rights. One, a clarinetist I knew in Nebraska, would drop everything and go at a moment’s notice to bring one of her pregnant friends food, take her to the doctor, and helped her through her grief (giving birth when you don’t want to is not only physically difficult and frustrating, but has all sorts of other things come into play). She did this because she and her friends believed abortion was murder.

I also note, for the record, that she did not shun people who were pro-choice. She knew I was. She had no problems with me, because we both wanted what was best for the women. And we absolutely, positively agreed that women who were poor but wanted to raise their kids should get all the help they needed to find good jobs, get excellent child care, and have the nutrition they needed to help raise their families.

If we could agree, back in the mid-1990s, that these things are important, why can’t people do so now?

Life is too short for division and strife.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 9, 2022 at 9:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Sunday Update

with 11 comments

Folks, I’ve been doing one of three things the past few weeks. These are, in no particular order, helping family, editing, and resting. (Yes, I include fighting migraines and other health problems as “resting.” I don’t think that’s how most people would see it, but if I’m not up and doing, I’m resting.)

I’ve also been concerned about a number of things in the news, as per usual.

The War in Ukraine continues, though the focus on it in the American media is less. It seems to have become a proxy war between Vladimir Putin and everyone else. I admire Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, and believe he’s done as much as he can to save his country from annihilation. But if we take our eyes off that war, we run the risk of making things worse for ourselves.

In other words, reality must be faced. Even if we don’t like it. Maybe especially when we don’t like it…but reality must be faced.

That’s the only way to do anything about it.

Anyway, on to other things.

One clickbait video I saw a few minutes ago is about Amber Heard and a disgusting, disturbing “prank” she played on her then-husband, Johnny Depp. She put “poo” (feces/poop) in his bed, and called it “a prank gone horribly wrong.”

What kind of woman does this?

(No, I didn’t click on the video. No point.)

For those of you who have had weird things happen during the course of your relationships, or worse, your marriages, I want to urge you to think of this: Not everyone behaves this way. Not everyone is as disturbed as Amber Heard seems to be (and/or anyone else who thinks this is a good idea). Most people do not and will not ever behave this way.

As I’ve said before, my two marriages before I met and married Michael were awful. I dealt with a lot of stupid, petty crap, and my second marriage in particular could’ve easily been annulled. (Michael was the only keeper, and he always said that as far as he was concerned, he was my only husband. I tend to agree.)

But even my ex-husbands did not behave like Amber Heard did in this instance.

There are some lines, folks, that you should not cross. What Amber Heard did is one of them.

Anyway, I must return to my editing. Do take care and have a great week ahead. (I’ll check in at some point, with whatever is on my mind most at the time, as per usual.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 1, 2022 at 2:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized