Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Walking on Sunshine

 Walking on Sunshine


Back in the eighties there was a song called Walking on Sunshine. The chorus said “I’m walking on sunshine, wo-oh, And don’t it feel good?”


Despite the poor English, I agree. 

Walking on sunshine indeed feels good. 


I can’t help but sing these words as I stroll through my neighborhood. I feel good in part, because with the changing of seasons, the leaves are turning from a somewhat monotone green to glorious colors of red, orange, and gold. I feel good because the sun warms my face and touches my soul. 


October is one of my favorite months for many reasons. Yes, it is soothing to sit outside and soak in the autumn sun. But there is more.


In October, the apples are ready to be picked. When I was a little girl, we worked together at my grandparent’s farm cleaning the apples, cutting them, and feeding them into the cider press. To tell the truth, I probably did little to help with the making of cider…but give me a tree to climb and I was your girl.   


Perhaps the best reason for me to embrace October is that my middle daughter, Danielle, celebrates her birthday this month. Like the leaves, Danielle changed from an active baby to a tomboy; from tomboy to a beautiful girl; from a beautiful girl to an incredible wife and mother. 


Now all four of her children are in school and Danielle is making another transition as she finds new ways use her many gifts and talents.


It’s what happens. Like the leaves on the trees, as we move through the seasons of life, we all change. 


Change isn’t something to fear. Neither is aging. We cannot live in spring or summer forever. Though my mother disagrees, I am likely in the autumn of my life (okay, Mom…early autumn). 

It is a vibrant time of joyful living, a new and exciting relationship, and rest from the demands of raising little ones or plodding off to work every day.


I enjoy this time. I enjoy the sun whether it shines above or crunches beneath my feet in the form of colorful leaves. 


I’m walking on sunshine…and don’t it feel good? 

My Neighborhood In Autumn








Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Special Weapons And Tactics


Not Sweat. Not Sweet.

Not even S.W. A. K., for those of you old enough to remember that phrase on the back of an envelope.  

S.W.A.T. ... Special Weapons And Tactics.

For those of you following my Citizen Police Academy journey, I’m happy to report I survived the S.W.A.T. team adventure this week. 


This is a police tactical unit trained to use, as the name indicates, special equipment and employ maneuvers necessary for unique situations. For example, someone may be armed and barricaded in a building. He or she may have hostages to be rescued. We’ve all seen the scenarios on television. 


In fact, we watch television and we get a fairly accurate picture of the makeup of a S.W.A.T. team. We understand the team consists of a commander and negotiators. We see armed police officers including those with rifles. And there are members of the team identified as “entry personnel.” Those are those heavily protected guys we watch carry shields, knock down doors, and rush into the scene.


So if television offers a clear picture, why take the class? What is left?


Becoming part of the team. 


Well, at least participating in some training. The S.W.A.T. team uses three vehicles: An armored boxy looking vehicle to carry the team to the crime site, a transport vehicle to take hostages or bystanders to a safe location, and the Command Operations Platform. (Yeah, I know…it spells COP.) 


Half of our class climbed into the black boxy armored vehicle called “the BEAR.” It has heavily plated walls and bulletproof glass. Here’s a pic:



The rest of the class boarded the transport vehicle. We left the C.O.P. behind and rode to a country location (who knows where…) to engage our own bit of training.


There we learned about the tactics our S.W.A.T. team uses. For this exercise, they presented us with a few scenarios. The property is set up with the walls of a house or motel with winding halls and a variety of rooms. We were the “bad guys” in that scenario. We learned about the types of weapons needed to target the “bad guys” and remove them from the building. In another case, the “bad guy” had a hostage in a car. You get the idea. The police officers walked us through the strategies and weapons they would use and why. It was pretty interesting. 


But for me the most fun was that I was one of the two people selected to shoot a 40mm gun with a bullet made of rubber. This is designed to inflict pain in someone’s thigh so they’ll stop advancing. The “bullet” would bruise, but not cause permanent damage. (My kind of bullet. Just saying.) As it turned out, I hit the target. 


Those of you who know me know I am not a gun person. So why am I doing all of this? Why is this particular night of value to me?


I’m a writer. I am crafting a book where the antagonist is a broken man kidnapping people across the state. My protagonist is searching for this man. He is working with the police to track him down. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I’m pretty sure, if everything shakes out as planned, my local police department will be at the heart of the book’s success.


And just for fun, here are a few more pictures:

Rubber Bullet:
I put it next to
a chapstick so you
could see its size. 

Real bullet
Some of the Team! Thank you!

Believe it or not, this little robot 
is a valuable part of the team, too!







Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Family, Food, and Firewood

 Family, Food, and Firewood


It is always good to get together with family. I often think of a family reunion as a houseful of people all talking at the same time, lots of food, and tons of laughter. This year was a bit different.


I chose the date for the reunion at my house because my sweet cousin, Crystal would be in town. She lives in Naples, Florida. Crystal was in Ohio for her niece’s wedding…and before you ask, yes, her home in Naples was untouched by Hurricane Ian. That’s a praise.


As the week for the gathering at my house neared, I heard from various cousins about conflicts with the date or received those “try to get there” messages. In the end, of the dozen or so cousins I have on my father’s side of the family, four of us put our feet under my dining room table. Four cousins, Julie’s husband, Keith and my mom… Six of us all together. Then my daughter, Kendall and her two little girls showed up.


It was perfect.


Crystal, Julie, and my mom brought food. Kendall brought marshmallows to roast. I supplied hotdogs, buns, and drinks. My cousin John arrived with a truckload of firewood. 


We shared stories and memories. We chuckled and shook our heads at our own silliness. We laughed at the story of Aunt Maxine finally getting her drivers license at age eighty-eight…after years of driving without one. A lot of stories started with “Remember when…”


While we were still sitting at the table, Julie and Keith’s daughter sent pictures from her honeymoon in Jamaica. Tara swimming with dolphins; Tara holding what looked like an iguana. Tara and Brandon creating their own new family memories.


We never did get out to the fire pit. We didn’t roast a single marshmallow. We didn’t make one s’more. 


After the others headed home, my cousin John and I took a walk in the neighborhood. We were walking the streets where our grandfather’s cows once roamed over a rolling field and through what my grandmother called “the big woods.” We talked about the old farm and the newer neighborhood. It was as much as story of the fields and woods as it was how the landscape of our lives changes over time. 


Old memories shared and new memories being made. 


Before he left, John and I stacked the firewood he brought. It will serve me well this winter. The fire will warm my house, but it’s the memories of those I love that warms my heart.




Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Body Cam

 Fitted with a Body Camera 


If you’ve followed my blog, you know I am currently enrolled in our local Citizens Police Academy. 


Last week offered lessons learned about making decisions. Certainly, our police officers make thousands of split second decisions every shift. My own mistakes in the Firearms Simulator gave me a new appreciation for the power the influence of others can have on decisions we make daily. (If you missed that post you can go back and read it HERE.)


This week, three teams presented information to our class: Force Science, the Body Worn Camera Unit, and the Integrity and Development Unit (think “internal affairs”). These areas offer critical, independent data to assess those decisions officers make in the field on a daily basis. 


The underlying theme for each?


ACT: Accountability, Credibility, and Transparency.


I could certainly create a post for each. But not today. For this post, I want to explore the notion of “body cameras.”


Our presenter demonstrated how body cameras work, how the information cannot be altered by the person wearing it, and how the data is downloaded and stored at the end of each shift.


I looked to the woman beside me in class and jokingly said, “This could be a great tool for raising teenagers.” She laughed, but the truth is this: body camera information is only a small piece of the puzzle.


In this day and age of instant access to information, cell phones, and body cams, we  often view events on television in what we may consider “real time.” I know many of us watch videos and immediately think we are seeing the whole truth unfold before our eyes. 


I was privileged to raise three daughters. I watched them grow to be incredible women, wonderful wives and mothers. They are great people. I not only love them, I like them. Would I feel the same way if I had “body cam footage” from every aspect of their lives?


I can’t help but wonder how others would assess my life if all they had was the footage from a camera mounted to my vest. 


They might see my refrigerator door open as I scan the contents for breakfast and choose a yogurt. They might think, “That’s healthy.” What they wouldn’t see is me wishing I hadn’t run out of chocolate pudding and making a mental note to buy more. Chocolate pudding for breakfast? I never said I make wise choices.


If I wore a body cam to a football game, viewers may see what I see and hear me cheer for my team, but the footage may or may not pick up on me knocking over the drink of the guy next to me. Yes, I can be a klutz. Hopefully, the footage will reveal I apologized and offered to buy him another drink.


When I was in college, would the camera have shown me doodling instead of taking notes or would it be aimed at the professor? Actually, that could be pretty good. Go to class, sleep through the class, download the lecture, and replay it as you study. Nah…if it put me to sleep the first time, I won’t make it through the next.


It could be hard to view my life through a single lens. Hard for anyone else to make sense of the million decisions I make each day. Some might judge me as being lazy while others might think I’m hyper. A single lens offers a single vantage point.


As for police and body cam footage or spectators and cell phone videos? These are only pieces of the story puzzle. Pieces. 


There is a verse in the Bible that reads, “…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” It’s in the book of James. To me it’s a reminder to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle before rendering judgment.


I’m glad I’m not fitted with a body cam from God. If I had to stand before God one day and account for every mistake I’ve made that showed up on my body cam footage, I’d be in a heap of trouble. God already sees me for who I am and loves me anyway. And He’s already forgiven me.

Here is one rendition of a Body (and) Camera!