Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Police Matter

There is always a police officer standing near the entrance to the grocery store where I shop. I’ve shopped at this store for years and this was not always the case. I know from reading the “Police Blotter” in our weekly regional newspaper that shoplifting is a regular concern of merchants in our area. Other crimes reported are stealing cell phones. breaking into homes to steal electronics and jewelry, and people’s wallets and laptops being stolen from unlocked cars in their driveways. After watching countless episodes of Law and Order I think things seem pretty tame here. This is a good thing but I often wonder what the police officer in the grocery store thinks while he watches us collect a cart and push off toward the produce section.

I found out. After the recent horrendous killings of people being arrested and policemen being attacked and killed in retaliation, which has resulted in a tinder box of fear and anger ready to explode, a woman in the apartment building where I live asked herself what she could do. She is an extraordinary ninety-seven year old social justice activist who isn’t “going gently into the good night”. She called the Mayor and invited him to arrange for a meeting of police officers and the inhabitants of our apartment building to talk about the current situation. A date was set for us to gather in the Party Room of our apartment.

The residents here are diverse. We are a congenial mix of age, race and religion. The night of the meeting we filled the Party Room. Five police officers, most of whom have been on the job twenty to thirty years, told us about their roles on the force. The Director gave us a history of the changing culture of police work from “warrior” to “guardian”. Our police force were preparing for changing times long before things caught fire this summer. Our police force has moved to think of us as the people they work for and to listen to our needs. Some of the older members of the force call the new environment social work, which is not what they signed on for. When questioned, the Director said the biggest part of their job involved traffic and keeping the roads safe. They also go into the neighborhoods to check out garage doors left open and even cars left unlocked. The goal here is for officers to know and to be recognized by us before they are called for an emergency. The officer in the grocery store is being a recognizable face inviting us to approach him with questions and feel comfortable. I think this is like the beat cop of years gone by who was a regular feature of the neighborhood.

We were invited to share our past experiences with the police, good or bad. I told my story. The summer my¬† oldest son finished high school he was out partying and drinking beer one night. Coming home he was pulled over by a policeman and charged with a DUI. He was taken to jail to spend the night. Next morning he figured out how to call a bail bondsman to get him out of jail. When he made it back home his first words were “Mom, I’ve done something terrible.” He said he now realized the law had teeth and he was scared. The next weekend while he and his two brothers were away camping with their dad, a police officer came to my front door with a warrant for my son’s arrest. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was really upset. I had met the officer a few weeks before at a large Boy Scout outing where he was acting as a security guard. It helped when he let me know he was sorry to be the one to bring the warrant.

When I finished telling my story one of the police officers said that is exactly what they hoped to accomplish in developing their Guardian culture. The experience my son had being arrested taught him to be aware that his actions have consequences. I have always been grateful for that. And I understand the significance of having a police officer at the grocery store. He’s one of the building blocks of developing a police culture hand in hand with the people whose well-being they guard.


Haiku: Caps In the Air

Summer job, pay checks
Oldest grandson makes me proud
Hard work paying off

Real life lessons learned
High School Senior must apply
Goal to graduate


Haiku: Music In the Air

White boots, drums, trombones
Figures traced on football field
Practice for the fall

Grandson joined the band
Plays new sounds that stir old hearts
Some things never change


Haiku: ExUBERance

Had to quit driving
Still retain independence
Think I’ll call Uber

Like Don Quixote
Setting out to tilt windmills
Saddled a smartphone


Haiku: The Moon

Old as history
Antique brooch pinned to sky
Splendid evening wear


Haiku: Breakfast Story

Day did not start well
Flipped egg uneasy over
Landed on stove top

Cooked there anyway
Toast unattended burned some
Salted all and ate.


Haiku: Poet’s Malaise

Swollen gray rain clouds
Day by day color mindscape
Dampen my spirits

I dream of autumn
Leaves to fire inspiration
Summer’s a bummer


Haiku: Summer Luxury

Cooling elegance
Green oak leaves are fluttering
Fanning the garden

Blue pool slight ripple
Inviting lazy swimmers
Come in water’s fine


Score One For Mama

This week’s New England Journal of Medicine has an article about a scientific discovery indicating that dust in Amish cow barns is good for preventing childhood asthma. It seems to have something to do with a healthy immune system. My mother could have told them that seventy-five years ago.

When I was two years old I developed asthma that kept both Mama and me up at night with my wheezing. This went on for several years until my pediatrician suggested that I get tested for allergies. The test revealed that I was allergic to house dust and grasses. The doctor told my mother to remove curtains and rugs from my bedroom. He allowed no pets. Mama’s reaction was “bosh and tommyrot”, her favorite term for ideas she considered ridiculous. She believed if I were kept in an environment free of normal dust and pets I would never build up a resistance to asthma and outgrow it.

She saw to it that my bedroom had curtains and scatter rugs. It was no more dust-free than the rest of the house. On my sixth birthday I was given a puppy that I named Fuzzy after my favorite cousin’s dog. I played with my neighbor’s guinea pigs. I remember being taken to a rodeo – after all I lived in Houston, Texas. My mother wanted me to wear a surgical mask but I balked at being seen in public wearing one. We compromised by her spraying one of Daddy’s handkerchief’s with what I remembered as chloroform (but surely it was something else) that kept me from breathing in dust when I held it to my nose.

The article I read described asthma as “chronic and frightening”. When I was a child as far as I know children weren’t rushed to the hospital when they had an asthma attack. I do remember a time when Mama and I spent the night in a hotel during an extreme summer hot spell so I could breathe more easily in an air-conditioned room. What I remember best is having breakfast the next morning at the “Toddle House”. To me asthma wasn’t frightening. I never imagined I would die from it. I do think the asthma of today is worse that it was in the 1940’s.

My mother was right thinking that if I was not isolated from ordinary dust and pets I would build up my resistance and outgrow asthma. I don’t know how much science would see cause and effect in my mother’s actions. I do know that I outgrew my asthma when I was in my early twenty’s. Hurrah Mama!


Haiku: Changing Tempos

Winter dawning sky
Lovely clouds with stripes of pink
Linger for my view

Sky of summer dawn
Early wash of rose and blue
Soon replaced by sun

I miss winter sky
In no hurry to move on
Seems a lot like me