Constitutionally Speaking: Guns and Religion

Some of you may be like me, trapped in an On Demand, Hulu , Netflix cycle of must watch TV that requires a spreadsheet to track schedules, characters and plots; which allows me (and perhaps you) to avoid the news detailing what a mess this country is.

The news is typically so dispiriting that I have stopped watching, listening, reading much of it at all. Still, the news reaches into my cocoon. I’m going to stick to stories local to me but the hue and cry is heard throughout this great nation of ours.

This fall there was yet another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in the southern Oregon town of Roseburg.

Constitutionally speaking, I’m going to look to the right and all the people screeching about their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. I’m looking at you “2nd Amendment Voters/Advocates”. Please read the text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States before you tell me and the rest of the country about your right to own an automatic weapon.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Do you see those first four words about the well regulated militia? Do you get what that means? It doesn’t mean that everyone for any reason can own a gun or an arsenal of automatic weaponry that would horrify the Founding Fathers of this country. I am not part of a well regulated militia thus I do not need to keep and bear arms. The Oregon National Guard can keep and bear arms.

I’m not for banning all guns. I think there should be a ban on assault weapons. Automatic assault weapons are made for hunting human beings, that’s not okay. I think we should enforce the myriad laws we have for background checks and that should apply to online sales, gun shows, pawn shops, retail stores, etc.

I also think that the people screaming about their 2nd Amendment rights, should SHUT. IT. Unless they are a member of a “well regulated militia” and I don’t mean regulated by your Uncle Wally and run out of his barn. If you are a member of a police force, US armed services, the National Guard — then please feel free to assert your Second Amendment Rights. If not, stand down.

bear arms

And this guy can also bear arms

Ohhh, look over there on the left…they are all snickering about the loser conservative gun rights people on the right. Hee Hee, Maggie sure told them!

Well, folks on the left, I’m now going to have a chat with you. It is holiday time, time to decorate the holiday trees and send the holiday cards and make sure that Portland Public School choirs don’t perform at The Grotto’s (The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother) Christmas Festival of Lights, the largest Christmas choral festival in the WORLD. As I said, I am keeping it local but there are examples around the country of…wait for it, the separation of Church and State! Right!? Separate those two before real trouble starts!


Inigo Montoya for the win!

Ahem, now that you folks have got your First Amendment knickers twisted, just a little reminder that the words “separation of Church and State” appear no where in the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment leads with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” because our Founding Fathers came from Merry Old(e) England, where the government, then a monarchy, said to all of England, “your church is the Church of England.” Period. They added, “If you don’t like it, too bad, you cannot practice any other religion.” As I’m sure you all know as informed and interested American citizens, the Pilgrims left England so they could practice their particular religion without the King putting them in jail or gaol.

The phrase “separation of Church and State” comes from this letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury, CT Baptists in 1802. The phrase in no way means there is no room for religion in public life, it simply means the government will not dictate what religion its citizens practice and that said citizens are free to practice whatever religion they wish. Or practice no religion. Up to you, American citizen.

Again, as the 2nd Amendment folks need to get their facts straight so do you Separation of  Church and Staters, and again, SHUT. IT.

I am not saying that the discourse should end on topics so important to the well being of the United States of America. I am saying get your facts straight before righteously throwing around buzzwords like “the right to bear arms” and “separation of Church and State”.

“There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.” — Dr. William James, widely recognized as the Father of American Psychology




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Profoundly Resilient

Today is Brigid’s 16th birthday!

It is hard to believe that just four months ago this happened:

crash volvo

Brigid was in the back seat behind the driver.

Here you can see her car door stuck to the grill of the car that hit them.

crash truck


We were in the hospital for 10 days.

That's Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

That’s Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

Brigid in her bed, hooked up to tubes and monitors, being poked and prodded.

brigid rm 24

After five days, the pain was so great and the healing so limited that they operated on her and put in a plate to stabilize her pelvis and six screws to hold it in place.

Last week I took Brigid to a see a counselor, believing that any teenager who had been through such a trauma and had her life changed so drastically (missing months of school, not dancing anymore, etc.), might need to work through some of it. Jan, the therapist who I trust and respect, met with me and Brigid for a few and then I left and she and Brigid talked. I came back at the end to be told “Brigid is profoundly resilient.” Jan credits me with staying by her side throughout, the fact that Brigid has no memory of the accident, Brigid knows and accepts that she is deeply loved by family and friends, and Brigid is Brigid. Profoundly resilient.

Yesterday we went to lunch and birthday shopping.


“And I got a birthday bracelet from Tiffany!”

I went for a walk in the woods early this morning and thought about Brigid and her 16th birthday. At one point, I was overcome with emotion and gratitude; grateful to God for blessing us with Brigid back in 1999 and again for watching over her the night of the crash in April.

Brigid, I wish for you a long life filled with love for family and friends, quiet kindnesses and raucous celebrations.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl and many many many many more.


Brent Went To Let The Chooks Out And You Won’t Believe What He Found

We are home from 10 days in the hospital and Brigid is healing. She had surgery to stabilize her pelvis with a plate and six screws. I have taken a leave from work and she is not back to school yet as she cannot walk without a walker or any great distance. So since I am not blogging, I’m going to reblog some of my favorite bloggers. Here is a Brat Like me, an American girl farming and raising a family in France. Try her, you’ll like her!

Brat Like Me


A chicken outside the coop.


Two steps in, ten chicks popped out.

Here we are tending to four chicks and a hen, when we had no idea a hen was doing just fine with ten little chicks of her own.

It’s the peepy sound of Spring.  Very noisy hen and chicks.


… I do apologize for the crappy internet-gimmee-clicks title, it seemed right at the time.

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One Tomb; Two Teens; the Lottery of Location; and the Rest of Us

We always have so much to be grateful for. Brigid will be fine and hopefully home soon! Thank you to my dear wise friend Judy for this post.

We Are All Carpenter's Kids

A blog entitled “We Are All Carpenter’s Kids” should surely have an Easter post, and I am sorry it didn’t. Wherever you woke up Easter morning, the tomb was empty. Whether you celebrated in one of the world’s richer countries or one of the world’s poorer countries, the tomb was empty.

Last week Brigid, the 15 year old daughter of my best friend Maggie, was in a car hit by a drunk driver. She sustained some fairly serious injuries and was taken immediately to a nearby hospital in Portland, Oregon. She received excellent medical care, has had successful surgery, and though her recovery will be long and painful, she should be heading home today.

Last week, Carpenter’s Kid Aidan Chitawo, also 15, sought treatment for an intestinal blockage that has plagued him for at least a year. I can’t describe the tremendous efforts of his caretakers, including my ever-pastoral, tireless…

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I Got that Call

I’m typing this from Brigid’s hospital room. Early Sunday morning, she was in a car going back to her friend’s house from a run to McDonalds. A drunk driver blew through a 4 way stop and t-boned the car. Brigid was in the back seat on the driver’s side and took the bulk of the impact. She has a fractured pelvis which we still don’t know if she will need surgery to stabilize it. In the big picture, she is fine.

She had on her seat belt and because of that, we are in the hospital and not the morgue.

The drunk driver went to jail. I don’t know much other than that. There are no skid marks on the road so he never even thought to stop. Brigid’s friend’s (the driver of the car) mom has pictures of the car that Brigid was in as well as the drunk’s car. I don’t want to see them but I have heard they aren’t pretty.

Please make sure you and everyone you know and love wears a seat belt at all times, front seat or back. Every damn time you are in the car.


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Mag’s Wheels

My parents bought me my first car ever when I was a sophomore or junior in high school, I’d say 1981/82. They spent $750 on a ’75 Monte Carlo. It was dark brown with an off-white vinyl hardtop. It was a two door model, each door being approximately 6 feet long and weighing 500 pounds. I had to sit on a couch cushion to see over the steering wheel and needed binoculars to see to the end of the hood. It was a giant pimp car, which I told my mother and she said if I kept whining I would never drive any car again. I used to leave the keys in the car wherever I went hoping against hope that it would be stolen. Of course, it wasn’t because who the hell would want that car?

This is not my actual car, that I know of, but it is identical.

This is not my actual car, that I know of, but it is identical.

When I went away to college my parents sold that car. They were punishing me for some reason.

I didn’t have a car in college because my school was in a village and I didn’t need one. I didn’t have one for the three years I lived in Boston after college. Boston has the T and nowhere to park so I didn’t need a car there either.

When I moved back to Portland in 1990, I got the first car that I had to pay for, a 1989 Honda Accord.

Again, not my car but close enough.

Again, not my car but close enough.

I loved my little gold Honda Accord. The headlights flipped up when turned on so that was pretty spiffy. I had that car when I got married the first time. I remember filling it up with wedding gifts to be returned, eventually winding up with a trunk full of stuff that I couldn’t figure out where it had been purchased. One lovely spring day, I played hooky from work and went garden shopping with my mom. I realized as we were pulling our wagon up to the car to put all the plants in the trunk that it was full of wedding gifts. Oh dang! I opened the trunk and Voila! Someone had gone into my car, which was never locked, and had taken all the gifts so I could put the plants in! Win. WIN!

After having two kids, I realized in 2000 that I needed a bigger car to hold all the gear. I got a 1998 Ford Explorer.

Still not my actual car but make model color, my car.

Still not my actual car but make model color, my car.

It was more like a truck but got me where I wanted to go. No real good stories from this car (and I understand that you may not have considered the other car stories “real good”). This car had a key pad to open the car so I didn’t need to bring my keys into the gym with me (that tells you how long ago I had this car….the “gym” …..riiiigghhtt). One day I went out to open the car and the combination wouldn’t work and I was stuck at the gym! I called Mitch and told him about this fiasco and he said he would come get me and then I looked up and realized, I was trying to get into the wrong car.

In 2006, I went out to lunch with my pal Danni who wanted to look at an Acura MDX. I went along for the ride and wound up buying a 2003 Volvo XC 70 wagon. I loved that car. I had the old Volvo until March 6, the day we left for Nevis. That day the transmission light came on, the car gasped its way into the driveway and I said, “I’ll deal with that when I get home.”

Upon returning from Nevis, I had to figure out what to do with the dead Volvo in the driveway and figure out a new car. Salesman Derwood was working on the new car deal and what sort of trade in, etc. I went on Craigslist to see what Volvo XC70s were going for and saw an ad:

Looking for a Volvo XC 70. Must have clear title, less than 170,000 miles, and be broken, preferably the transmission or timing belt. Prefer a car owned by anyone named Maggie.

It didn’t say the Maggie part but other than that, that was the ad and I sold the damn thing for $1500.

FINALLY, yesterday I got my first ever NEW car! It’s a 2015 Ford Escape just like my pal Janet’s in SF!

My actual car. My actual new car.

My actual car. My actual new car.

My Ford Escape has Bluetooth in it and all my phone contacts are in the little whatever thing in the car and I can just say, “Call Katie Denver” and it calls her! I can ask for directions and it will give them to me. And and and….it has Sirius satellite radio free for 6 months. Sure, they are just getting me hooked knowing that I will pay for it after six months. This means that I never need listen to anything other than 70’s, 80’s and Frank Sinatra music for the rest of my days.

Which, as it turns out, is very similar to what I listened to in that ’75 Monte Carlo.



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A senseless death…

From Officer Don, more brilliance.

don of all trades

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at the same time.

He and his partner parked and I pulled up to their left and did the same.

I got out of my car and watched as the officer hurried from his seat and opened the back, driver’s side door.

When the officer grabbed the boy from the back seat of his police Tahoe, I knew almost instantly.

There was a split second though, before instantly I guess, where I didn’t know. For that split second, the officer looked like any dad grabbing his sleeping boy from the car and putting the boy’s head on his shoulder to carry him inside to sleep comfortably in his own bed.

For that split second, it was a sweet moment.

The officer, an around fifty year old white guy, clutched the little boy over his left shoulder gently, but with a clear purpose. The boy was small, a…

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Golf at Cat Ghaut

I need to write some Nevis stories before I leave on my next vacation tomorrow morning. Nevis is a very small island. It’s NOT a big place.

There is a guy on Nevis who knows everything anyone would ever need to know about Nevis. How do I get an international driver’s license? Where is the Diet Coke? Which cash machines have US currency? I need a fishing pole. Where can I play golf? This guy knows it all, and all the Nevisians know to ask him. His number was on the note pad next to the phone in our villa. He is the GO TO GUY on Nevis.

And his name is Marlon Brando.

Yep. Marlon Brando.

Here is a picture of him that I found from a Google search. This is Marlon Brando:



Marlon Brando told us where to find a golf course on Nevis because the two we knew of wouldn’t work for us. The Four Seasons Resort course charges $350 per person to play 18 holes which includes the cart, you don’t have to use the cart but they are going to charge you for it whether you do or not. The Four Seasons was cost prohibitive for us. Across the road from where we were staying was the Nevis Golf Association course. It’s 2 holes and is only open to members so again, we were out of luck.

Derwood and I visited Marlon Brando’s (no one calls him just Marlon) garage/pharmacy/quick mart one day to find out where to buy fresh fish and where the rumored 3rd Nevis golf course is located. Happily the fresh fish and the golf course are near each other.

This is what he told us, “Go down this road until you see a bus stop before the airport runway. Make a left and the fish guy is on the corner. Go up to the top of that hill and that is where the golf course is. It’s in someone’s yard.” Then he said he would stop by sometime because we had never done any paperwork on our car rental. He also rents cars.

It took us four attempts to find the course because we weren’t sure what a Nevisian bus stop looked like and while the road is Charlestown Road, there are no street signs.

Cat Ghaut Golf sign on the driveway gate of the owner's home.

Cat Ghaut Golf sign on the driveway gate of the owner’s home.

As promised it was in someone’s yard. We parked and got out of the car. Looking up the road we saw a large monkey crossing into the forest and that is freaking weird. When you have only seen a certain type of animal in the zoo and then you see them just wandering around, it’s kinda scary.

big monkey

We didn’t take this picture. We didn’t get any monkey pictures because they don’t hold still for very long. See how this monkey looms like Big Foot? That’s what the big monkey looked like… approximately the size of an 8-year-old child but looming, like Big Foot. Later when we got back to the villa, there were some monkeys down the path from us as we walked to our front door. It’s just weird. I don’t know what monkeys do, what if they just ripped my face off?

Back to the golf, when the four of us finally went to play Cat Ghaut’s 12-hole course we found it to be unlike any golf course we’d ever seen. No one works in the pro shop hut and it took us a bit to find the sign telling us how the Cat Ghaut Golf system works. In the hut are five or six old golf bags full of rusted golf clubs, a bucket of balls and a basket of tees, some of which were not broken. All we had to do was select our clubs, grab some balls and tees, and pay our $10 US into the little slot cut into the wooden counter.




Here we are on the golf course.

Derwood, Maggie, Kitty, Geoff

Derwood, Maggie, Kitty, Geoff

$40 total to play this funny little course on a hill above the Caribbean Sea. On the advice of Jefferson, the greens keeper, we tried to follow the map on the score card to find the 1st green; but by the time we were looking for the 2nd green, Jefferson said the map was no good.

It was so much fun we played Cat Ghaut twice. It was one of my most favorite parts of our trip.

Guess who holds the course record?

Marlon Brando.

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The Madness

I know I said I would post about my vacation to Nevis, but it’s March Madness time here in the U.S. and I wanted to get my picks in for those of you who may need help with your brackets.  I’ve been doing this for years and so far have a perfect record of never having picked the winner or enough wins to cover my $5 entry into the office pool. Watch and learn.

The March Madness is a basketball tournament played at venues throughout the U.S. by teams of basketball players. The tournament bracket (literally: broken in fours, which is where the phrase Final Four comes from) is divided into four sections for different directions that players travel to get to the tournament. I have selected my winners for the 3rd Round which will then inform how the rest of the tournament plays (meaning “play”) out.

Here are my prognostications (NSFW).


  • Kentucky is going to beat Hampton to advance because they are a #1 seed and the only reason I would even think of choosing Hampton is because my first fiance was from North Hampton, NH.
  • Purdue will beat Cincinnati because I can’t think of why they wouldn’t.
  • Even though Buffalo is a #12 seed they will win out over #5 W. Virginia because I have never been to WV.
  • Maryland will move on over Valparaiso because I had a Terps Lacrosse tshirt in college.
  • Butler over Texas because while I love many Texans, I don’t care for Texas.
  • The Notre Dame v. Northeastern game is a tough call for me because I’m Catholic and once lived in Boston. Notre Dame. God wins.
  • Indiana over Wichita because I saw “Hoosiers”.
  • Kansas over New Mexico because I’ve never been to NM and spent the Bicentennial in Kansas with my aunt and her family.


  • I have picked Coastal Carolina over Wisconsin because my first husband had a friend who coached soccer at C.Carolina. This was a tough call picking between two popular Western states.
  • Oregon will beat OK St. (they probably won’t but I have to pick Oregon, total bullshit).
  • Arkansas over Wofford because Wofford? What?
  • I am going with a Harvard upset over N. Carolina because I lived in Boston across the river from Cambridge.
  • I have to go with Ole Miss over Xavier because I like the sound of Ole Miss.
  • Baylor (who by the way will make it into the Final Four) is going to beat Georgia St. because my pal Amy from high school went to Baylor.
  • Close call between #7 seed VCU and #10 seed Ohio St. but my best pal Lucy lives in Columbus, so Ohio St.
  • Arizona will win out over Texas So. because Arizona is actually a Western state and again, Texas.


  • Duke will beat Robert Morris because they have a whole team and he is just one guy. I don’t even know why that game is being played.
  • San Diego St. goes down to St. John’s because St. John’s has a college affiliate program with American Academy of Dramatic Arts where my daughter, Annie, will start school in September.
  • Utah over SF Austin because Fletch goes to Utah in the movie of the same name and my siblings and I say, “You go to Utah, you STAY in Utah” a lot.
  • Georgetown over Eastern Washington because Georgetown always seems to beat other teams, unless they lose.
  • UCLA is going to beat SMU because my best pal Kitty’s daughter is a freshman there.
  • Iowa St. over UAB because I think the UAB is actually a small country in the middle east and they should never have been allowed in the tournament anyway.
  • Iowa will advance past Davidson to make matchies with Iowa St.
  • Gonzaga will not only beat North Dakota State but advance to the Final Four, all because the guy in my office who organizes this bracket went to Gonzaga.


  • Lafayette over Villanova because Lafayette is a similar small liberal arts school to my alma mater Colgate.
  • LSU beats NC State simply because it seems like something they would do.
  • Wyoming moves on past N. Iowa because Iowa was getting a little greedy.
  • Louisville will beat UC Irvine because they are Louisville, and they use bats which many people think isn’t fair but teams are allowed to use any equipment with their team name on it.
  • Boise St. will win a close one over Providence even though I have been to both cities.
  • I’m going with the numbers on the Oklahoma/Albany game. Oklahoma, a #3 seed, will show up in the Final Four.
  • Georgia beats Michigan St. for no good reason at all.
  • Huge upset….Belmont over Virginia because Annie likes a boy who got into Belmont.

So if you review all of that information and carry the 3, you will see that the 2015 NCAA Champion Basketball team winner will be Gonzaga.

You can take this to Vegas.

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Welcome to PDX, Your Winds Will Gust to 58 MPH

Sorry it has taken me so long to check in upon my return from one of my most favorite vacations ever. I haven’t known how to blog about it. So I will write it as I have been telling it.

I will start at the end. We had such a fabulous vacation. Nevis is a wonderful place with traffic patterns decided by wandering goats, donkeys and cows.

What? Do you need this road?

What? Do you need this road?

It’s a very long trip from the West Coast of the U.S. down there but definitely worth it. Nevis is a third world country, tiny, poor and also friendly and well-educated. I could live there as long as I was living in the ocean front villa that we stayed in. I was feeling quite proud of my new found attitude toward less than thoroughly western comfort, ass-in-butter conditions and then we got to our hotel for our lay over in Charlotte NC.


I still need luxury and the $85/night airport hotel that I found in Charlotte? In an effort to prove how frugal I can be? No, that didn’t work at all and I wasn’t comfortable going barefoot in the room.

I’m still me.

We flew from St. Kitts (the island federation is formally known as St. Kitts – Nevis) to Charlotte, spent the night and then on to DFW and then to Portland. While sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for our next flight, the thought “this isn’t going to go well” popped into my head.

I was right and I was wrong.

We had a smooth flight, as all of our flights had been, going and returning. It got really bumpy closer to the Portland airport, which is surprising because Portland doesn’t have one of those airports where you think there will be issues. I was reading my book and noticed the bumpiness but thought nothing of it, we were almost on the ground. Wait. I looked at Derwood, “he’s going back up?”

Yep, we couldn’t make it down and then we spent what I think was another 30 minutes circling around and trying to get to the ground but the wind was tossing a rather large plane around like it was made of paper. The plane was completely silent except for the woman barfing in our row, poor thing.

I asked Deren “why isn’t he saying something?” He figured the pilot was busy flying the plane. Finally the pilot came on and said, “I guess you all noticed, we didn’t land. I’m going to go around again and land this time.”

Oh are you? It was the 2nd scariest experience of my life after the beach incident with the girls. The more we circled and tried to get below the clouds and then being thrown back up, the more freaked out I got. I was clinging to Deren and praying my Catholic ass off. I really don’t care if I die, I’m not scared to die but I can’t die because I can’t leave my girls. And that’s all I could think of as I spoke to my parents, this is NOT the time for me to check out.

Deren doesn’t often get strict with me but he said, “Maggie, you have to sit up straight.” And I thought, well shit, we are going down and I have to be ready for that. It was horrible, absolutely terrifying.

As you know, because I am typing this, we made it down.

Everyone cheered when the plane hit the runway. The pilot came on the PA and said, “I have landed on an aircraft carrier in winds of 50 knots and this landing was worse than that.”

Glad to hear that, once we got down.

So tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about this place:


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