RILEY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A 73-year-old woman was in her kitchen doing what everyone does in their kitchen—cooking, cleaning, eating, washing dishes, hanging out, having coffee, etc. You know, “kitchen things.” Her husband was nearby.

The woman’s husband says he heard a loud “crack” and suddenly his wonderful wife of many years collapsed to the floor. She was dead.

The sharp sound was gunfire. The woman had been shot to death by a neighbor who was target practicing on his property, firing at a dirt berm.

Apparently, at least one of the shooter’s rounds missed its mark and traveled through the air, across his property and then across his neighbor’s land, through their walls, into their kitchen, where it came to rest inside the body of an elderly woman who was doing nothing more than enjoying a day at home with her husband. Now she’s gone, forever.

Police say the shooter is cooperating with authorities.

I bring up this tragedy because, first, it’s horrible, and next it reminds me of an incident that occurred just last year in the state of North Carolina. Onslow County, North Carolina, to be exact, and it involves my daughter, her family, their home, their neighbors, and me, in a roundabout way.

Our daughter’s home was struck by gunfire.

The initial round broke a window and penetrated an interior wall of a laundry room.

Thinking it may have been a freak accident, the window was replaced and all was well … for a short while. Then more sounds of gunfire were heard in the area, and those gunshots sounded extremely close with additional rounds striking the house. One lodged in the wood trim next to the front door.

The front door. The door most often used by my daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Tyler. The round hit less than a foot to the right of where a person would stand when unlocking the door, turning the knob to go inside, or to stand watching as Tyler’s school bus arrived, something Ellen liked to do until cancer arrived and made it too difficult for her to enjoy many of the things she enjoyed.

Ellen, our daughter, called the sheriff’s office to report that someone was shooting at her house. In the meantime, she contacted a next-door neighbor who also discovered rounds lodged in the exterior of their home. Also near the front door.

Here’s how the sheriff’s office responded to someone firing live rounds into the homes of human beings.

Day One

  • Ellen called the sheriff’s office the first day/time at 1552 (if nothing else, the daughter of a police detective knows to keep record of everything). The call lasted 1 minute and 12 seconds. She called back at 1606 because the shooting was still going on in the neighborhood. The second call lasted 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
  • No one responded and the sheriff’s office denied she’d called, in spite of her having the records stored in her phone.

Day Two 

  • No response – shooting continues. More contact with the sheriff’s office. Nothing.

Day Three

  • No response – shooting continues

Day Four

  • Ellen tells me about the incident and the lack of response and concern by the sheriff’s office. I bypassed the folks on the front lines and contacted the county sheriff directly and “politely” urged him to do something about the situation. Last year was election year, by the way. A major contacted me immediately. He said he’d follow up.

This is the point where I totally and absolutely lost it

One official wrote me to say, “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?”

Well, maybe it’s because NO ONE RESPONDED!!

In fairness, I feel sort of confident the official was relying on the “word” of the deputy who reported that he’d handled the incident. But …

Finally, it comes out, sort of …

The deputy who was assigned the original call, four days earlier, told his boss that he’d been too busy that day to actually show up. Instead, he claimed he’d tried several times to call Ellen on the phone, using his cell phone, and that he left messages on her voicemail. There are no such records. They do not exist. No one called.

Next, I was told that the sheriff’s office has records of all calls made by the deputy. However, they could not produce them when I requested them (I knew they didn’t exist).

Sheriff’s officials again claimed Ellen did not call, asking me, “What is the address? Is your daughter a minor? Who are you calling when you call?”

Keep in mind, the person who asked these questions was the same person I’d spoken with about the issue. The same person who took the information from me—name, address, phone number, nature of complaint— after the sheriff had him contact me. AFTER the deputy said he’d been too busy to respond to the call made by Ellen. After Ellen called several times. After neighbors called.

It was within the same written message to me, the official made the “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?” statement. Just seconds earlier, remember, he/she claimed Ellen had not called. Why would someone respond to a call that hadn’t happened? Curious, I know. 🙂

But … if there was a record of Ellen calling, why did they not know her name, address, age, the number she called? Puhleeze. I made up better excuses when I didn’t do my homework in elementary school. Anyway …

Convoluted, huh? But wait, it gets better!

Okay, back to the deputy. The major sent him out to speak with the shooters (by this time, everyone knew who was pulling the trigger) but he opted to merely drive by—he didn’t stop—reporting that the activity had ceased—he didn’t hear gunfire as he drove through the area (like people shoot nonstop, without eating, drinking, tending to needs, and /or sleeping, 24/7).

Four days later, the posse arrives

Anyway, the deputy finally showed up at Ellen’s house four days after her initial call to the sheriff’s office. While there, like in a Perry Mason episode, he used a knife to dig the rounds from the house.

He also finally paid a visit to the shooter. I was told that as long as the shooter was 500 feet from the nearest house there was nothing the sheriff’s office could do. They actually said it was okay to fire guns toward an occupied dwelling as long as the shooters were outside of the 500-feet-range.

Fortunately, this shooter used common sense and realized the danger and agreed to not shoot until he erected a dirt berm. Now, after hearing the tragic details from the Michigan shooting, we all know just how safe/unsafe a dirt berm can be. There’s a dead woman and her grieving husband who are proof that these berms are sometimes not safe, especially in a residential area.

I recall a well-known author posting about a similar experience in her super-nice neighborhood, and that guy was firing a fully-automatic weapon.

By the way, on the day the deputy finally spoke with Ellen and then visited the shooter, someone else from the sheriff’s office contacted me to say the matter had been resolved (case closed) several days earlier to everyone’s satisfaction. The message was extremely defensive, taking the side of a deputy without knowing the circumstances at all. No clue, but was quick to discount me, Ellen, and the shooting—case closed. This person was in no way involved in this mess, but she/he saw the correspondence and felt the need to chime in, without knowing a single detail. Not one. Four days after the fact while the situation was still fully in play.

Today, the shooting continues, with a dirt berm in place.

In the midst of all the buck-passing and possible fibbing and defensiveness of a deputy who was possibly a bit less than honest, I wrote this to the sheriff’s office command – “I know it’s none of my business how you conduct the business of your office, but this, trying to cover up after-the-fact, is part of the reason the public distrusts the police. I’ve devoted the past ten years of my life educating the public about police and that we really are the good guys and that they can trust us, and then all it takes is a few words to tear down the little progress we make. My blog alone has reached appr. 4 million people worldwide and it’s a battle each day to present positive information that’ll help build that bridge between the public and the police.”


Note – It’s a crying shame it took so long and to have so many people involved to stop a life-threatening situation. I sincerely appreciate that the top brass within the sheriff’s office handled this for me, but three or four days of someone shooting at your house before a patrol deputy could find time in his schedule to stop a potential death by shooting is, well, it’s beyond me. And why did I have to pull the “I was a cop card” before anything at all was done? Would they have eventually shown up had I not contacted the sheriff to mention I was a former detective who’s investigated more shootings into occupied dwellings than I could possibly begin to count? It’s illegal to do so, by the way.

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that 500 feet is not ample distance to completely prevent injury or death from a high-powered rifle round. Nor is it possible for improperly constructed dirt berms to stop rounds if the berms are too short, too narrow, or too thin. Even rocks or pieces of metal on dirt berms can cause ricochets, or lead to break apart sending shrapnel off in various directions. By the way, shrapnel is a fancy name for smaller projectiles that could also be as deadly as an intact round.

The rounds above each struck a hard surface before coming to rest. The item at the top is ejected brass from a .45.

Commonsense. Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a life. That, and not shooting toward homes.

#proactivepolicingsaveslives

#respondtocalls

#behonest

#shootresponsibly

#irresposibleshootersgiveallothersabadname

#baddeputy

#alwaysknowthepathofyourrounds


Finally, please continue to pray for our daughter, my little girl. She’s very ill.

Again, if you can help, please do. Contact me at lofland32@msn.com for contribution details. Thank you so much!

In 1963, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Hawking, regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein, passed away this week at the age of 76. He’d been confined to a wheelchair since 1969.

Today, I imagine him soaring through the cosmos, no longer shackled by illness and manmade devises, on a journey to finally locate the beginning of the universe and the true meaning of being human. After all, it was he who once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”

Stephen William Hawking, scientist and physicist (1942–2018)

No longer confined, Stephen Hawking sets out on a quest to locate the beginning of the universe.

To read more about this legend of science, visit the website of Stephen Hawking by clicking here.

 

The list is long. You know the the one. The list of laws we don’t like and don’t want to follow. They anger us. They seem foolish and often unfair. But is it okay to cherry-pick which rules we obey and which we don’t, simply because they’re not our cup of tea?

Seriously, which laws should we thumb our noses at and go about our business doing as we please—laws, police, courts, judges, and society be damned? Which laws are okay to shun as if they don’t exist? And, what are the consequences (excluding arrest and incarceration) should someone blatantly decide to disobey?

Snitchin’ Could Be Deadly!

Please allow me to slip back in time a bit to help put this situation into perspective. I was in charge of major narcotics investigations and one particular crack cocaine dealer seemed elude arrest no matter how hard I tried to nab him. So I organized an elaborate undercover operation complete with high-tech surveillance and monitoring equipment, phone taps, undercover drug buys from his residence, etc. A lot of time and effort and money went into the investigation. Finally, the day came when I had everything in order and I had a search warrant in hand. It was time to assemble a raid team and bring the guy down.

I called in an entry team and conducted a pre-search briefing—who would go where, when, do what, etc. I knew there were several known bad guys inside so I warned everyone about the danger involved and I made certain everyone on the team was wearing full protective gear. Then, just as we were about to head to our vehicles for the procession to the target home I noticed one of our team members was missing. I called him on the phone and he said he’d forgotten he had a quick errand he needed to attend to. Thought he’d be back before we were ready to go but time slipped away. He told me he’d meet us halfway there.

My heart sank. He’d left the meeting before I’d told anyone where we were going. The names of the suspects. Nothing. I always kept those details close to my chest, and for very good reason, and that reason was quite possibly coming to the surface. Somehow he knew where we were going without hearing it from me.

I again told everyone to use caution. There suspects were heavily armed and, well, it was going to be dangerous, and the sinking feeling in my gut made things seem even worse.

We rolled out, parked down the street from the target house, and that’s when I saw our missing team member walking toward us from my right. I asked where he’d come from and he told me he’d followed us but elected to park in a different spot.

As we talked I smelled alcohol on his breath. He confessed that he’d been drinking and didn’t think he was in any sort of condition to assist with a raid. I agreed and ordered him to leave the area but to be available after we were done. I had a few things we needed to discuss. First things first, though. *He’d consumed beer so he wouldn’t be allowed to join us.

Our boozed-up team member departed and we proceeded to the house.

Needless to say, the bad guys were waiting for us. They knew we were coming and they were ready for a fight. Fortunately, they realized they were outgunned and their numbers were far short of ours. We’d come in deep, as they say.

They fired a few rounds at us as they ran away into several directions. We caught a couple of the runners but they were clean—no weapons and no drugs. In fact, there was not a single speck of cocaine inside the residence. The place was cleaner than a hospital operating room before surgery.

Long story short, our partner gave the drug dealers advance notice that were on the way. I still don’t believe he knew where we were heading that night, but I later learned that he was paid by this gang to keep them informed. Therefore, when he saw the size and scope of what was about to take place he hurried out to warn his “employer” that the police just might be preparing to kick in their door.

This is serious. Many officers have been murdered in ambush situations over the course of the past couple of years. A bit of advance warning sets up the officers for a blindsided, deadly attack. And, to have someone turn against the police and to issue an advance warning that they might be on the way is, well, nothing short of extremely dangerous, irresponsible, inexcusable, and … criminal.

How would that official feel if someone were to die because of their belief that a law shouldn’t be followed because they don’t like it? Would it bother them if a suspect gunned down an officer as he approached a building or person during the course of their sworn duty?

What should happen to government employees who warn potential criminals and/or violent gang members and drug dealers and human smugglers that police may be on the way? What should happen to the official if an officer is hurt or killed because of that warning?

I know the feeling I had that night, knowing someone in an official capacity tipped off the bad guys and placed our entire team in harm’s way. It was not good. Luckily, we remained safe and sound (scary for a while when the rounds started coming our way) and we eventually busted the group of drug dealers.

The snitching officer was relieved of his police powers soon afterward (that’s a polite way of saying he was fired).

Anyway, this type of situation (different players and scenario, but the same danger level, or higher) is playing out right now in Oakland, Ca., where the mayor there just issued a public warning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could be conducting a raid in the area.

I get it. She doesn’t like the fact that federal agents are doing their jobs in the city where she works as mayor. However, as I offered above, announcing the arrival of police who’re conducting surprise raids makes the situation extremely dangerous/life-threatening for those agents/officers. This mayor is playing with real fire. Obviously, she feels nothing about the lives of the federal agents. Or, she hasn’t realized the consequences of her actions. Or … she just doesn’t care.

Again, I get it. Some people don’t like some laws and they’d prefer that police weren’t around (well, only when it’s convenient). Unfortunately, we are a country of laws and the police are in place to enforce those laws. Anyone outside of those parameters is breaking the law, including Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland. The mayor also contacted businesses in the area to remind them that a new California state law “prohibits business owners from assisting ICE agents in immigration enforcement and bars federal agents from accessing employee-only areas.”

Again, no matter the reason, this practice makes it extremely dangerous for law enforcement officers. They’re humans. They have families. They’re out there to protect us. They’re doing their jobs. They want to live, too, just like the rest of us.

You don’t like the law, don’t want ICE in your area … fine. Don’t help them. But do not place those agents in harm’s way merely to prove your point. Instead, let the agents fend for themselves and stay out of their way.

Like Ducks in a Shooting Gallery

Perhaps the Oakland mayor doesn’t care if she lives to see tomorrow. But I’m sure that each and every day those federal agents are more than happy to safely return home to their families. Sadly, they’ll have to do the best they can because not only do they have to worry about the daily dangers associated with the job, now they have people like the Oakland mayor who doesn’t seem to mind that she’s setting up these agents like ducks in a shooting gallery.

Again, you don’t like a law, change it, but don’t risk the lives of hard-working men and women simply because a rule rubs you the wrong way. Believe me, police officers don’t care if a law disappears from the books. It’s one less they’d have to worry over. And, they’d certainly prefer to not conduct dangerous raids where they could be injured or killed.

So please, Mayor Schaaf, consider the consequences of snitching when doing so could cost someone their life. And, by the way, your action was illegal …

Kratom, a tree native to southeast Asia—Thailand and Malaysia—can reach towering heights of 50 feet, or more. Its trunk, when fully grown, is an impressive 15 feet in diameter. Its leaves, well, the chemical compounds in kratom leaves behave like those found in opioids including morphine. This is not your average shade tree.

Users of “Biak-Biak,” as kratom is called in Malaysia, introduce the drug into the body by smoking, chewing, or brewing the leaves into a tea. Interestingly, chewing the leaves produces a milder effect than other means of consumption. And, the effects achieved when chewing the raw leaves is that of a mild stimulant.

Kratom tree

However, when ingesting kratom in higher dosages (extracts, powders, etc) it produces an effect quite similar to that of opium-like narcotic analgesics.

Kratom is a listed as a controlled substance in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma). And, it is listed in Schedule 9, the most highest level, of the Australian National Drugs and Poisons Schedule. It is not, however, illegal in the U.S.

Kratom is legal in the U.S.

The DEA, the same DEA that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, took a look at kratom and decided to not include it in either of the five drug schedule categories. Shoot, even Robitussin AC, a peach-mint or grape/menthol cough syrup, is on the list of “dangerous” drugs, but not kratom, a substitute for opium.


Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:

Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:

Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:

cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin


 The DEA briefly considered placing kratom in the Schedule 1 category but opted not to due to public outcry from people who claim the drug helps as a treatment for pain, anxiety and drug dependence.

Others say it’s safer than opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

Yeah, well, so is Lyrica, a drug prescribed for fibromyalgia and epilepsy. Lyrica warning labels list minor side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, difficulty concentrating, swollen arms/legs, and weight gain.

Kratom leaf

Possible side effects from using kratom include vomiting, sweating, itching, psychotic episodes, delusions and respiratory depression. The FDA has identified 44 reports of death involving kratom since 2011.

There are a large number of Kratom vendors in the United States. The drug typically enters the U.S. in shipments from Asia and from western European countries. These deliveries slip past U.S. Customs, an agency that confiscates all kratom it locates.

Kratom is sold in various forms, including raw leaves, and extracts, capsules, and powders. Vendors include convenience stores, gas stations, and even delis.

Will the DEA eventually add Kratom to the drug schedule? Will the drug be made illegal? Who knows? In the meantime, though, we can all rest easier knowing our nation’s supply of cough syrup and constipation-inducing Lyrica is kept safely under lock and key.

Each year on the last day of December I travel to a secret location where I meet with my friend Madam Zelda to learn her predictions for the coming year. The mysterious clairvoyant is so good at what she does that she’s rarely, if ever, wrong. The woman is uncanny.

So, in keeping with year-end tradition, Madam Zelda did a reading for us this morning and she’s confident 2018 will be fantastic. Here’s a list of her top twenty predictions which, by the way, contains a few from last year since they also pertain to 2018. Believe me, she’s always right … sometimes.

Here goes …

  1. Someone accidentally plays a Kayne West song in reverse and hears the star say admit, “I can’t sing. Not a word. Not a note. Nope, can’t carry a tune, not even in a bucket.”
  2. Universities rush to create safe spaces for students traumatized by what they’ve seen and heard in other safe spaces (yes, coloring books, Play Dough, and tiny ponies can be extremely scary).
  3. The Dictionary Police meet and officially ban the words, Bigly, Electoral College, Candidate, Fake News, Swamp, Email, Russia, Comey, Hacking, Polling, Weiner, Trump, Hillary, and “War On …” (War on Drugs, War on Christmas, etc.).
  4. The U.S. wisely eliminates all elections. Future spots are to be filled by the winners of Rock, Paper, Scissors competitions. All decisions will be final. No recounts, lawsuits, or hacking attempts allowed. NO campaigning!!
  5. The Electoral College closes its doors and the entire campus is razed to make room for a trendy new Filibuster hamburger joint.
  6. California will do something stupid.
  7. The news media is shocked to learn that news is something that actually happens, not the fantasy or agenda that lives inside the minds of some “reporters.”
  8. Doctors discover a cure for social media.
  9. Rumor has it that someone could/might actually perform a country song at the 2017 Country Music Awards. This one is a stretch and probably will not happen.
  10. Amazon’s Alexa is set to become the first all-electronic mayor of a major U.S. city. She’s definitely qualified because her standard answer to tough questions is, “Hmm, I can’t seem to find the answer to your question.”
  11. A criminal will break the law and someone will be shocked that he did, and that someone will start a movement to ban whatever it was the criminal did even though there are 2 Tatrilliongazillion laws already on the books that … here it comes … already forbid the act.
  12. The Oscars will present an award to someone no one in the entire world has ever heard of.
  13. Airlines will develop a means to tow utility trailers for those who prefer to travel with with even less frills than those afforded to passengers in coach (think hogs in the rear of semi trucks/trailers on their way to market).
  14. Congress debuts a TV comedy show titled “Deaf” Comedy Jam.
  15. Statues across the country begin to shout back at the folks who yell at them.
  16. For the first time ever the Postal Service delivers an un-crushed package.
  17. The North Koreans sweep gold at the 2018 Olympics.
  18. The winner of the Super Bowl depends entirely upon which team has enough standing members to play (It’s difficult to run while on your knees).
  19. HGTV launches series of new shows featuring more people doing the same things as the people who already do those things.
  20. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy. Expect the largest and most thrilling event we’ve ever produced. And, the 2018 Guest of Honor is … well, a secret for now. 🙂 Details coming soon. Very soon!

*This post is ENTIRELY a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor. Please do not try to read between the lines because there’s absolutely nothing there. Also, please … no comments about race, politics, cops, religion, etc. Let’s end the year with a smile. Goodness knows, I need one.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s just after 1 a.m. and I’m sitting on a plane heading to North Carolina where I, as a father, will be forced to hand over the safety and well-being of my daughter, Ellen, to a surgeon I’ve never met. I understand a robot will also have a “hand” in this operation.

All her life, I’ve tried my best to handle the woes, small and large, that came her way. From bee stings, scrapes and scratches, to sports injuries and dumb luck and more. I’ve tried to be there. Fix things. That’s my job.

This time, I’ve failed her when she needs me the most. I can’t fix cancer. I would if I could. I would also, without reservation or hesitation, change places with her. Can’t do that, either.

Again, I’m stuck and at the mercy of a surgeon and her robot, neither of whom I have yet to meet.


Ellen and I touch base at least once each day, by phone, Skype, and sometimes via social media. Our chats last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. There’s typically no rhyme or reason or purpose for our conversations other than to share a bit of dad/daughter time.


As I mentioned, I’m on a red eye flight to the East Coast and the plane is graveyard quiet, and dark. Not a single light other than the glow emitting from my laptop. The constant buzz of the engines has worked its magic on most of the passengers, Denene included, who are snoozing away while my mind is darting in a zillion directions.

One of those side avenues leads me down a path where a ton of thank-yous are in order. Many of you sent gifts and cards and messages to Ellen and she was surprised and thrilled to see so many wonderful things show up on her doorstep and in her mailbox. I can’t begin to express how much this has meant to her, and me.

At a time in your life when you sort of feel as if you’re facing “it” alone, well, it’s heartwarming to have so many good friends show so much kindness and generosity.


Okay, the captain has just turned on the fasten seat belt sign, and rightfully so because I feel as if I’m attempting to type while inside a child’s bounce house at a birthday party for 100 youngsters.


The bumpy ride, though, reminds me of a time long ago when Ellen was still a teen. She I decided to go for a bit of off-road 4-wheel-drive adventure where we hit a super deep muddy hole and nearly overturned my vehicle. Of course, we giggled like two little kids and even thought about making a repeat trip through the bottomless pit but decided to leave well enough alone.


Monday’s coming fast, the time when I’ll have to turn Ellen over to the surgeon. They’ll wheel her down a hallway and back again several hours later. It will not be me who fixes her. Instead, I’ll remain behind with Denene, Tyler (our grandson), and our son-in-law John.

I know, I’ve already handed off my little girl to her husband. Did so many years ago, and he’s a good husband. A good man. And a good father. He, too, would trade places, and he, too, must trust my little girl/his wife, to a stranger.


We, as a family, are fortunate. We have each other, and we have Ellen who, by the way, is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She’s a wonderful daughter, mother to Tyler, and wife to John.

She’s the glue of their family.

And she’s still my little girl. Always will be.


Not so long ago, Denene’s mother was diagnosed with a serious cancer and had major surgery as a result. She started chemo a few days ago.

For days you guys prayed and sent kind words, gifts, books, and messages. Since her surgery and while going through chemo, my mother-in-law has been back to church and even out to dinner with a ladies group. She’s not well, but she’s living life. Thank you all for sticking with us.


And now, we have Ellen who underwent emergency surgery a few days ago and will be back in the surgical unit again on Monday.

If you have any left at all, a couple more prayers would be very much appreciated. And, thank you for understanding that for the next several days, at least, my online activity (blogging, etc.) will be limited. I’ll keep you posted about the surgery, though (on Facebook).

And, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my little girl. She is, you know … my little girl.


By the way, Ellen and I recreated our off-road adventure the last time I was there for a visit. Denene was at her mother’s tending to her health issues and I was at Ellen’s to take her to begin the first of her cancer tests. Obviously, with Denene two-hours away, there was not an adult present in our vehicle when Ellen and I made the decision to stomp the pedal to the floor and hope we came out on the other side of the mud and deep ruts. An adult would never, not in a million years, approve of what we’d done.

Yes, we still giggled like little kids, even decades later. Of course, driving off-road in a pit of mud while driving a rental vehicle seemed a bit less insane.

Ah, nothing like a bit of quality dad/daughter time … But it was a memory we shared and doggone it, we did it again simply because we could and because, for some reason, it felt like the right thing to do … at the time.

And she’s still my little girl.

 

Priority: a thing regarded as having more importance than that of another.

As the Atlas fire, the inferno here in Northern California that destroyed over 50,000 acres, crept closer and closer to our neighborhood, Denene and I were forced to decide what to take with us should we need to evacuate. Clearly, a few of our priorities differed … greatly.

Denene remained fixated on family photos, antique silverware, important papers, clothing, and the like. Me, I went straight for the meat … books. Realizing, of course, I couldn’t take all the reading material lining our shelves, I selected three. Two are antiques that mean quite a bit to me. The third was a signed book with a personal inscription. I have several signed books and they’re each extremely valuable, but this one has special significance.

Next, I carefully wrapped and packed three rocks. Two of the stones came from Mt. St. Helens. The third is a rock featuring a hand-painted image of Barney Fife. My daughter painted it for me.

I selected a small airplane made from tongue depressors and a narrow piece of wood. Tyler, my grandson, made it for me when he was super young. An antique carpenter’s level, Jew’s harp, and an old and quite rusty Ballantine beer opener also found their way into my “go bag.” They belonged to my grandfather. A paperweight my father gave me when I first became a detective, drawing supplies, a hat gifted to me by a friend, an item signed by the Oak Ridge Boys, and my name/desk plates (police) from my old office. Each of those things went straight into my case.

Of course, when the time came to leave our home I also grabbed photos, computers, chargers, cash, and checkbooks. And yes, our entire family of Alexas and Echo tagged along, as did Dead Red Fred who, by the way, was in a huge hurry to leave. All his life he’s had a fear of being melted down and made into a little red rubber ball.

But, we’re back home now, all safe and sound. I greatly appreciate all the well-wishes and prayers. I also deeply appreciate the outstanding efforts of the firefighters, police, sheriff’s deputies, air support, CHP, National Guard, and others who worked around the clock to save as much property and as many lives as possible.

Priorities

I also thank you for the thoughts and prayers for our daughter who underwent emergency surgery last week. She’s recovering from that procedure but the situation is ongoing, and serious. We appreciate your continued prayers. The same for Denene’s mother. Her situation is ongoing and serious. My brother is scheduled for surgery in a few weeks.

My priorities remain with my family.

“Things,” signed books and rocks and airplanes and yes, even Dead Red Fred, can all be replaced.

#Priorities #SorryDeadRedFred


Priority: a “thing” regarded as having more importance than that of another.

I suppose the level of importance depends upon where and with whom in your mind the “thing” lives.

 

Busy night.

Long night.

Tired.

Robbery.

Domestic.

Juveniles.

Drunk driver.

Break time.

Coffee,

Sounds good.

Window,

Down.

Night air.

Cool, damp.

Traffic light.

Winking red.

Right turn.

Skinny dog,

In alley, limping.

Wino, in doorway.

Smile, no teeth.

A car.

Two teens,

Nervous glance.

Speed limit.

Exactly.

Glance, in mirror.

Tail lights.

Brake lights.

Signal light.

Left turn.

Gone.

Storm drain.

Steam.

Wispy tendrils,

Melting into black sky.

Radio,

Crackle.

Then …

“Fight-in-progress.”

“Tip-Top Bar.”

“Weapons involved.”

“Knives.”

“10-4,

Enroute.”

Blue lights.

Siren.

Parking lot.

Gravel, crunches.

Siren, stops.

“Hurry, Officer!”

Crowd, circled.

Two men.

Metal, flashes.

Step.

Grab.

Wrist turn-out.

Take-down.

Knife in hand.

Suspect on floor.

Handcuffed.

Blood.

Everywhere.

Mine.

Hospital.

Stitches.

Gun hand …

Again.

Should’ve been a writer.

Much safer.

“How could you say that life is fair, knowing this was coming?” she whispered while using a stubby finger to trace the letters of her brother’s name on the marble headstone. He’d just turned fifty-three when the brain tumor took him five days ago. “It’s just not fair, not at all.”

Her dying mother’s final breath and her sister’s pain-filled last days weighed heavily on her mind. Lung cancer. At the end, both were barely more than skin-draped skeletons.

She had never known her father. He’d died when she was still an infant. Doctors said they’d found a mass in his stomach. Inoperable.

A gust of cold December wind caused her to draw her thin sweater tightly to her plump body. A few red and gold maple leaves spun and twirled along the winding asphalt drive, making faint ticking and flicking sounds as they passed.

Another brother, the one closest to her own age, was currently in the care of hospice workers. No chance of survival. If he lived until Friday he’d be lucky. If, that is, being fed through a tube and having a constant flow of morphine running into your veins could be considered lucky.

Speaking of luck, five days ago her own doctor had given her only a few short weeks to live. The one remaining lung had finally let her down, as had the toxic one they’d cut from her body two years before. Never smoked a single cigarette in her life. Not even a puff. How’s that for good fortune?

The night she received the devastating news from the physician, she’d sat, alone, looking through tears at yellowed and tattered photograph albums, wondering how she would make use of her remaining time.

And that’s the moment she’d understood the meaning of her brother’s words.

Life is more than fair.

It’s death that is so unjust.

She stood and brushed the freshly-turned grave dirt from her knees and walked toward her family, vowing to spend her remaining time living and fighting, not dying.


#cancer

For support, click American Cancer Society Support Groups

He’s here,

Again.

The monster inside my head.

Scratching.

Clawing.

Digging,

At my skull.

Eyes wide open.

Leave me alone,

Please!

Dark.

Moonlight.

Clock,

Tick, tick, ticking.

Night sounds.

Refrigerator whirs.

Air conditioner hums.

Tick, tick, tick.

Owl hoots.

Cricket chirps.

Tick, tick, tick.

Then quiet.

So quiet.

A scream!

From inside?

Him, or me?

He’s there.

In front of me.

Behind me.

Over there.

No, over there.

Laughing.

Maniacal and hysterical.

Bullets.

Blood.

Bullets.

Twitching.

Quivering.

Like an animal,

Dying.

Flowers.

Roses.

Prayers.

Damp soil.

Tears.

Sadness.

But,

You did your job.

Sure,

Easy for them to say.

He shot first.

So …

Anxiety.

Fear.

Depression.

Insomnia.

Can’t sleep.

He’s here.

Again.

The monster in my mind.

Scratching.

Clawing.

Digging,

At my skull.

Eyes wide open.

Why every night?

I only killed him once.

After the shooting


* If you are in a crisis please seek help. You cannot do this alone. Call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, talk to your doctor, or call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).