Just This About That

Blogging like no one will read it.


My Local World

This category is for posts about Alabama, Hoover, politics and education, the environment, the suburbs, my neighborhood, nature, sunsets, and meteor sightings.

I tend to get carried away

For Christmas, I bought myself hiking boots. They are lovely boots, comfortable and light, yet sturdy. I wore them around town for several days, getting used to the feel of them and making sure they didn’t have any spots that hurt.

Last Saturday, on one of those rare winter days when the weather is the perfect mix of warm sunshine and brisk breeze, Gary and Ben and I went out to Oak Mountain State Park and hiked part of the yellow trail.

My out-of-shapeness was clear, but the guys were patient.

“You better not be taking pictures of my butt,” she said, hearing the clicking shutter as she bent, hands on knees, sucking in oxygen.

“Nah, I’d have to changes lenses,” he replied, focusing on a hawk in the distance.

“Ha. Ha. Wide angle?”

“Fish eye,” he commented solemnly, adjusting the camera’s settings, and not looking at her.

We only hiked a few miles on a fairly easy trail, but there were streams with bridges, ferns, fallen trees covered with moss, and hawks circling. I am a notoriously indoor person, but it was beautiful and I am hooked.

I want to hike all the trails, and learn about the plants and trees. I want to recognize the hawks, and I want to see the owls that we only heard before.

And I want to sleep out there. I want to backpack in, with a tent and a sleeping bag, and food for our dinner, and sleep out there in the terrifying darkness.

Most of my family are risk-takers. They run marathons, race boats and cars, they ski, they jump off high places into water. My son went to Europe at 13. My other son randomly takes off on road trips with friends, with no worry about where he’s going to sleep. If there’s a sign that says “Danger,” my husband is going to do the very thing that it says not to do.

I am not so much a risk-taker. I am a bookworm, a studier, a dreamer, a learner. I am always the one who knows what foods are a salmonella risk. I carry hand sanitizer. I am the one who has a whistle in my day pack.

But I want to go into the woods, carrying my stuff on my back. And one of these days, I want to do it alone.

So, this is a goal of mine now. I plan to day hike ever increasing distances until I am in better shape. I am going to start collecting the appropriate backpacking gear. And some time this year, I am going to load my stuff on my back and walk into the woods and set up my little campsite and sleep out in the wide, wild world.

I am 58 years old. I figure it’s time to get out of my comfort zone.


The direction of my dreams

One of my favorite quotes is: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I have recently learned that it is a misquote. The entire quotation comes from Thoreau’s Walden, and is: “I learned this, at least, from my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours… In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Damn, Thoreau.

That is MUCH more deep. And does not fit on a coffee mug. Continue reading “The direction of my dreams”

We embrace our weirdness in Alabama

I just read a traffic tweet that says the right lane is closed and there’s a 15 minute delay “at the devil will get you sign.” It doesn’t even have to say what highway they are talking about.

If you’ve driven much north or south through Alabama, you know the “Devil” sign off Interstate 65 at Deatsville. I don’t know who owns the land, but everyone knows the place.

The message is pretty blunt. No beating around the bush.


Apathy is not the problem: TED Talk

This is a great seven minute TED Talk about the real barriers to positive change in the world. As a sometimes burned-out rabble-rouser and community volunteer going up against seemingly insurmountable odds, it inspired me.

Good news

A chic local brunch place is serving chicken and waffles Sunday morning. That’s what I feed the little girl I babysit every time I keep her. I didn’t know it was a thing, I just thought I was a bad babysitter with no imagination. Who knew she’s actually a cool, hipster toddler?

I wonder if Bottletree Cafe has thought of giving a purple Peep to customers who clean their plates?

Will no one think of the clip art people? How would you like to always have to be good-looking, smiling and interested in whatever BS cause or promotion someone decided to cut-and-paste you into? I weep for them, and how used they must feel.

This made me snort.

Now, someone in the comments pointed out that clip-art-minority man is supposed to represent “Everyman,” happily reaping the benefits of the wonderful works of all the dead conservative visionaries looming above him (and bonus Asian clip-art female). And good point.  I mean, I know how concerned Jesse Helms was about young black men in America, but to see it visually depicted in a massive banner backdrop really brings it home.

The Yellow Letter “G”

Okay, Gawker is a gross site, and I do not approve of people being outed in this “gotcha” manner, but it came across my Twitter feed and I clicked.

Sue me.

Yes, another self-righteous “ex-gay” blogger is “caught” cruising for dudes on a gay social networking site. Not exactly earth-shattering news, but what did strike me was how most of the comments showed so much sympathy and compassion for this young man’s situation.

I guess I should not be surprised, really. Everyone knows a LGBT person who is living, or has lived, a false life. So it is not surprising that many of the commenters wanted to say to this guy, “Stop hating yourself. Stop trying to please a church that will never love you and will never accept you as God made you.”

I understand completely the desire to be accepted, particularly by one’s church, which is often connected to acceptance by one’s family. There is so much affirmation, so much delight, when a “sinner” comes back to the fold and “sins no more.” It is hard for any person  not to just go with it, please everyone, play the part, be the good girl or boy and be one of the accepted group that God loves best.

But how heartbreaking. He blogged about feeling “overwhelming loneliness.” Imagine feeling that, as well as feeling like a fraud and a failure every day as you are praised and rewarded for your supposed strength and godliness in turning away from homosexuality. I can’t believe in a God who wants that kind of pain. I don’t want to attend a church that praises and condones living a lie.

The older I get, the more adamant I am about being who I genuinely am, and the more important I think it is for young people to be allowed to be who they are.

In tenth grade, while studying “The Scarlet Letter” my son had a project in which he had to choose a word he felt described him, create a decorated version of the first letter of that word, and wear it around his neck all day. He had to explain to anyone who asked what his word was, and how it described him


His word was GENUINE.

And I loved that, because he is. Kind of brutally honest, he has the freedom to be who he is: quirky, funny, over-sensitive, good, but not perfect. Not gay, but if he was, he’d be just as free to be himself, and just as loved.

How much would I like to say to Matt Moore to just let go of the false glory of being an important person in a church that will never, ever allow you to be genuine. Find a church that accepts LGBT people and affirms your faith and accepts that God made millions of different kinds of people, and some of them are gay. Make friends who like you for everything you are, who will forgive you for trying to live a false life because they’ve probably done it, too. Maybe you’ll find someone to love who shares your faith, but even if you don’t, you won’t spend every day lonely and hating yourself.

I know, easy for me to pontificate from my suburban marriage with the 2.0 kids. But one of the biggest regrets of my life is an event that happened when I was attending a small, Southern Baptist college and I was accused by some of my sorority sisters of being a lesbian. They required me to sign a statement affirming that I was not homosexual in order to remain a member, and they threatened to notify the University and my parents if I did not sign. I was 19 years old. I am not a lesbian. But I was terrorized into signing the thing.

It will shame me until the day I die that I didn’t remove my pin and walk out. When it came to being a genuine person, and standing up against something I knew was wrong, I failed miserably.

But one failure, or many, does not define us. Matt Moore – Move on, you’re already out. Embrace who you are, while holding tight to the faith that is obviously important to you. Stop visiting creepy dating sites and find genuine love. And most of all, love yourself.

A little sanity, any time now, would be good…

I know that Wayne LaPierre knows his audience. And he knows his job.

His audience is that subset of gun owners who are just, frankly, batshit crazy. That’s who he is working up into a frothing, fearful, screeching frenzy of outrage. It’s his job, so that those people rush out to WalMarts and gun stores and gun shows and buy more guns and ammunition.

I understand that it’s what he gets paid for. And the news media gives him a platform to do it by printing and repeating his crazy allegations that the President said things in his Inaugural Address that he simply did not say. I guess LaPierre is counting on the fact that his target (no pun intended) audience was busy counting their hoarded canned goods on Monday and didn’t listen to the Inaugural Address, and therefore won’t know that the President did not mention guns at all.

But when, I wonder, will normal, regular gun owners start to get uncomfortable with the nutcases dominating the discussion and making them all look crazy? When will someone take LaPierre aside as say, “Wayne, buddy. You need to dial it down. You’ve got this. AR-15s are flying off the shelves. Ammunition is selling at three times the normal rate. But you’re starting to make us look a little kooky, and we aren’t all kooks.”

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