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Master Gardening workshop

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I found  myself with time on my hands over this past weekend, a couple of days without commitments or obligations. So when the county agent here was sending out a call for gardeners to attend the semi-annual meeting of the state's master gardening group (with the added incentive of the extension service paying the $75 registration fee) I agreed to go to Macon for the day. There were others going, so I had hopes of finding someone to carpool with - but that did not pan out for me. I got up early Saturday morning and took myself to Macon for the day. I had a great time - even including the part about knowing no one when I got there.


I really don't mind driving, traveling alone - and get some great pondering done when I am on the road, having time to listen to public radio, talking books or even talk to myself. So the trip over (about 90 miles) was pleasant and uneventful. There were some really interesting speakers, mostly local people who are very knowledgeable about native plants, ecology, environment, plant health, etc. A number of vendors selling plants and gardening related items created some really bad plant lust. I accidently bought several small ferns to put out in a constantly shady place I have been adding ferns and hydrangeas too since back in the spring. And won a pretty spikey, pink-blooming pereninal prize for being in the right place a the right time (a result of coming in late and having  to sit on the back row in a dark room -  after all these years, finally a benefit for lateness!)

When it was over and I was oh-so-very well informed, I went on up to Decatur to spend the night, having rationalized that it was closer to go there than drive the 90 minutes back to Columbus. (Of course, I did have to then get up and drive the two hours back to Columbus on Sunday to get to church on time -nearly!)

a trip to MS... but not me!

Paul went to Biloxi over the weekend: the usual reason. When I encouraged him to go several weeks ago, he was 'invited' to come back and participate in a Tournament. What a sad, sorry, rotten way to lure people into leaving their $$$ in Mississippi. They knew he would agree, and be very flattered to be invited as one of the special people who is such a valued Customer they knew he would be a real asset to their event. And, as expected, he had already put the dates down on his calendar before he got back across the Alabama line to report he was so special they had requested the pleasure of his company this past weekend.

When he came in, looking a little sheepish: he handed me a little boxed gift of mixed nuts and snack mix. And reported that he had brought it just for me (so I know the temptation to open and snack on it had really been strong, and difficult to overcome - but it was delivered with the cellophane and tidy little ribbon, with 'Palace' sticker intact). He said the gift had been  provided to welcome the people participating in the card tournament. I said that was really nice and I was sure he would enjoy eating the assorted nuts and wasabi peas - but warned him about what wasabi means.

He said: Oh, no - I brought this for you. I asked how much it cost, and he reminded me it was a gift from the casino. I asked again how much the little box of goodies, probably about 12 inches by 6 inches cost, and he admitted that the actual  loss at the blackjack table caused the little box to be valued at $700. I did not notice an expensive diamond and gold bracelet attached - so I am telling myself: "You get what you get, and you don't complain."

He probably had $700 worth of fun.

learning about law enforcement

Saturday, October 8, 2011
I have been going to classes on Thursday nights since the first of September, at Public Safety to learn more about what they do and how they do it. It has been very enlightening. And a little intimidating: like the evening the group went on a tour of the city jail. Since I know I am a wee bit on the far end of the Claustrophobia scale, I was anxious for a week in advance, when I was reminded that the next class meeting would be going behind bars. My husband apparently got a lot of pleasure from telling people I would be going to Jail. Not so funny. Saw the intake area, solitary confinement areas, hospital/medical facility, kitchen, dorms and exercise space for males and females. And went into this control room with darkened windows where we were surrounded by the unhappy incarcerated. Lots of animosity floating in the air, and contentiousness oozing along the floor. Even those thick shatterproof windows did not make me feel comfortable. .Knowing I was safe, surrounded by peace officers, did not quell the uneasy feeling of knowing  I was breathing the air that those angry, hostile, mean-spirited men had been breathing.

We started off early last month with people at administration level coming in to talk about what they do, and have worked our way through traffic enforcement, juveniles, homicide (too graphic for me to stay in the room when he started the power point), fingerprinting, fraud/counterfeiting, sexual predators, fire-arms training, SWAT team and much more.

Last night I went on a 'ride along' with a patrol officer. I am very grateful that it was what she kept referring to as a 'slow night'. I was there, (sitting in the front seat- not in the cage!) when she had a couple of traffic stops. And thankful that was not me who would be going to court and having to explain why that red light was so blatantly run, or I was moseying down the street with no headlights on. And have to fork over the $$$ to pay the fine when the judge looked profoundly bored hearing the same excuses again and whacked her gavel down. Also feeling blessed to not live in a 'mobile home estates' compound where the streets twist and turn and double-back and dead-end so much that I felt like I was wandering through a maze in the dark. And basically just thankful for my life, home, stable environment with no need to be dialing 911 with problems.

I doubt the purpose of the experience, being out there on the Front Lines with the men and women who have sworn to protect and uphold, was not designed to give the class attendees a sense of appreciation for being moral, upstanding, model citizens. And pretty sure that exposing us to the mechanics of law enforcement will hopefully give a better understanding and sympathy for the officers who so willingly put their lives on the line every day. But a by-product of my experience thus far is profound gratitude. I had no idea leading my hum-drum life could be viewed as gratifying: not being a law-breaker never looked so good. All those decision not made really seem much more appealing.So now I am wondering who I should approach to seek forgiveness for all that teenage belligerance and underage drinking, falsifying documents back when licenses were written out by hand, and printed on cardstock.

In the course of the 16 weeks, we have the opportunity to 'ride along' with patrol officers who drive a 'beat'; spend four hours observing in the 911 room; a night with detectives; and another ride along with the Sheriff's deputies as they are crusing the by-ways of Muscogee County.  My stint last night was with a patrol officer who was assigned the south side of town, in areas with low income housing, lots of bars/clubs where there is usually plenty of activity - but apparently a lot more when it is a pay weekend, with disposable income in every pocket. She also surmised people who usually misbehave ('suspicious activity') might be trying diligently to walk the straight and narrow so they would not spend the weekend under the jail when there is a greatly anticipated football game being played at Memorial Stadium here today. Morehouse vs Tuskeegee. It would be worth being 'haved just to see the fantastic half-time show.