Standing Up for What is Just and Equitable | Your Great Outdoors – Reblog – By David J. O’Neill, President

This week marks my first week as President of Mass Audubon. I had planned to introduce myself to all of you by sharing my excitement and enthusiasm for what lies ahead. And I am extremely excited t…

Source: Standing Up for What is Just and Equitable | Your Great Outdoors

NEWS AND NONSENSE: June 2020 from LAURIE R. KING

Source: News & Nonsense: June 2020

From Laurie R. King whose next book is about to appear:


Dear friends, the world is exploding—and here comes Laurie with cheery news about her novel? That is so wrong, I can’t even begin to unpick it. And if you can’t bear one more word about the world’s explosion, I certainly understand, so feel free to skip down to the News itself.

The hard truth is, publishing is a huge machine, with more moving parts than a locomotive. This cheerful newsletter exists in a reality bubble where riots and burning and hatred and anguish don’t exist. It lives in the distant age of two weeks past, when we could pretend that our biggest problem as a nation was the spread of a virus among a crowd of beachgoers. Everything about this newsletter is wrong, from the date (since June 2 was Blackout Tuesday, which I and my publisher supported) to the tone (exclamation points and enthusiasm feel so incredibly clueless, at a moment when we need to be turning inward) to the book itself—from cover to plot, Riviera Gold is unabashedly escapist. Is this even allowed right now?

But it’s my locomotive, and jumping off will hurt people. I love this book, and yes, I love providing a little escape from the storms. I am not unaware, I am not ignoring, I am stepping back and thinking of what I should do as a responsible citizen of the world. But I am also the author of a book about to publish, and I don’t think it helps anyone to pretend otherwise. So here’s the newsletter, floating to you in a time bubble. I hope you are well, I hope you are strong, I hope we all get through this and make something better out of it.

—Laurie


And as a long time fan of Ms. King’s delightful (and thoughtful) novels, it’s great to see her thoughts on what matters — in addition to her books, of course. Of course, I already have the book on pre-order!

TOO MUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

Today is Saturday. The package Amazon said they delivered yesterday was not delivered and it wasn’t delivered today, either. I’m sure it went somewhere, but not here. Not a small package, this was a kind of tent for use as a place to store garden equipment. Lawnmowers. Hoses. Snowblowers. Shovels. Spades, hoes, clippers. The usual stuff.

The old shed

Our current shed is going to collapse and buying one like it is a lot more money now than this one was when we bought it maybe 18 years ago. Not sure, but it wasn’t long after we moved here, so maybe closer to 20. Finally, Owen settled on this tent which has a stainless steel structure and a heavy, waterproof covering.

We ordered it from Amazon and yesterday, we got a notice that it was delivered. Considering this is a 12X12 shed and costs more than $400, it was unlikely we missed it. This would be a very large package. So, since they’d already charged Owen for it, we wanted the shed or the money, but I wasn’t fooling around with whichever manager was in charge of big lost packages. And before you think I’m being funny, I’m not. They have a separate department for big packages.

Finally, long, long hold time later (I’m going to write lyrics for their “hold music” so I can sing along) and having heard how important our business is to them, I got one woman who said it was too expensive so it had to go to a supervisor. I got a supervisor, but he said this had to go the the “heavy object delivery supervisor.”

The music came back. I really need to consider writing lyrics.

It has been a full week of spending every afternoon on the phone with Amazon’s customer service. They have decided they can’t deliver to us unless the item is very small. I don’t mind most things showing up when they show up. I can wait a week or two for the bag of yeast or a rolling pin. But two weeks into a wait without so much as notification of when it might arrive? Or even seeing that the order has been processed? How about an email updating me … or alternatively saying you are unable to deliver it?

The thing is, we’ve been waiting for two weeks for them to process an order for a 3 cubic foot freezer which I finally canceled yesterday. They finally delivered the dehumidifier — without casters. We couldn’t get the castors without sending back the whole dehumidifier but offered us $5 to replace the casters.

Five whole dollars? After it got up to 20 following a loud discussion, I started to get pissed off. I went from online complaining to downright irritable. If they aren’t going to deliver something, they need to at least tell us and not just leave the order hanging in ether-land. And this order which they said was delivered, was even worse. As far as they are concerned, it’s delivered. Never mind that we didn’t actually GET the package.

I think I sort of blew up and said “Money or product, but you can’t have it both ways.”

“But the driver said it was delivered,” he said.

“I’m sure it WAS delivered, but not here.”

He refunded the money and said this was actually a large enough order that whoever kept it and didn’t order it — and it had to be one of our neighbors — is going to get sued because it’s a federal crime. I replied: “Go right ahead and nail the bastards.”

I feel like I have a new job. It’s holding while waiting for another person to explain how I should just wait and surely the package would show up. I definitely resented the whole concept, especially since we’d already paid and if I didn’t strongly urge them to deal with it today, we’d surely be waiting another month and then they’d tell us it was too late to solve the problem.

We found someone else to sell us a freezer and even deliver it by the end of the month. Woo-hoo! For now, unless there’s nowhere else to get it, I’m a bit “off” of Amazon. I understand that they are swamped, but if they can’t handle the business, at least say so.

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM – Rich Paschall

When You No Longer Have a Home, Rich Paschall


Jimmy knew it was not going to be easy.  He had put it off for weeks, but after a while, the delay was just as hard as what he perceived the actual event to be.  So the high school senior marched home, mustered up all his courage, and prepared for the inevitable battle.

Born of a rather dysfunctional family, Jimmy’s parents were divorced when he was just 4 years old.  His biological father remained marginally in his life.  His mother introduced a new “step-father” when Jimmy was 5.  He was raised by ultra-conservative parents to have values of the ultra Christian right.  Unfortunately for the family structure, Jimmy did not adopt the “family values” of his rather right-wing parents.  Nonetheless, the 17-year-old boy was prepared to take a bold step forward and challenge the strict guidelines he had been given.

When he arrived home near dinner time on a cool fall evening, his parents were already watching television and absorbed in some crime drama.  At the first commercial break, Jimmy made enough noise to be noticed.

“Well, boy,” the stepdad began, “you are a bit late, but you can still grab some dinner in the kitchen.” The mother just smiled and went back to watching the television.

The teenager had already called up all his courage and was not going to back down.  The moment had come, and even though he was shaking, he began a speech he prepared all day.  “I had something important to say,” Jimmy stated rather meekly.

“Well spit it out, boy, the commercials are almost over.”

Without launching into his well-rehearsed speech about each man having to be his own and so forth, a nervous Jimmy did indeed just spit it out.  “I’m gay,’ he declared.

“What?” the middle-aged, balding, flannel-clad stereotypical alpha male shouted. At that, the mother turned down the television volume.

“What did he say, dear?  I don’t think I heard him correctly,” said the middle-aged, middle class, middle intelligence woman.

“I think he said he’s a damn faggot,” the man shouted in a loud and disgusted voice.

“No, sir,” the boy countered. “I said I am gay.”

“The same thing,” the fake dad declared.

“I am appalled.  No son of mine is going to be a sinner.”  The mother was as much angered by the “sinner” as having to miss her TV program.

The step-dad marched right up to the boy and shouted in his face, “You will stop that right now or you will get out of this house, do you understand me?”

“I am sorry sir, I can not change,” the teenager said in a trembling voice.  At that, the step-dad pushed him as hard as he could and the boy went flying over a living room chair and crashed into the dining room.

The mother then began shouting at the boy, telling him he would go to hell, that God would never forgive him, that such behavior was forbidden in the Bible and that God hated him.  The boy rose to his feet and stood there staring at the shouting parents.

“If you are not going to take back that sinful statement, then you are not staying under my roof.  Get out sinner,” the pretend dad shouted.  With that, he gave a menacing look as if he would hit the boy again.  Before long, he started after the boy and shoved him, knocking him to the floor.

“OK,” the terrified teen said.  “I’ll go if that’s what you want.  I don’t want to be here either.  I will get my school books and leave.”

“I paid for those books,” the man shouted.

“Like you are going to read them,” the teen retorted.

At that the boy hurried to his room, he put his books, a few items off his dresser and whatever items of clothing he could stuff in his backpack and headed toward the front door.

“God hates faggots, son,” his mother said with great disdain.

“I don’t know that God hates anyone,” the boy countered, “but he does not hate love.”

That prompted the step-dad to pick up an ashtray to throw at the teen, but the boy was out the door too quickly.  The angry parents resumed watching television as the trembling senior high school student walked aimlessly down the street.  Tears filled the eyes of the handsome youth as realized he had no home, no parents, and nowhere to go.

Attribution: BookCrossingBefore at the English language Wikipedia

He struggled forward, step by step, as the night air began to chill his bones.  Was he shivering because of the night air, or because of the sad situation he found himself in?  When he arrived at a major intersection, Jimmy took a seat on a wooden bench by the bus stop.  He was not planning on taking the bus.  He had no plan at all.

After many moments filled with crying, Jimmy pulled out his cell phone and called the one person he thought could help him, his real dad.  He located the number, dialed, and got a quick answer.

“Hello dad, it’s Jimmy.  I have been thrown out of the house.  I have nowhere to go.  Can I come and stay with you a while?  I promise I will not be a bother.”  The teen was not ready for adulthood, and certainly not this.

“Why, what happened son?  What would cause them to do that?”

“I told them I am gay.  Can I come there?”

There was a long silence on the phone.  Neither one spoke for what seemed like minutes.  Jimmy finally spoke up again.

“Please.”


Note:  This is a work of fiction, but there are many true stories of teens tossed aside.  What do they do?  

A STRAW AND A CAMEL – Marilyn Armstrong

I understand that Amazon is overloaded and slow delivery is routine and that’s okay. Most things I don’t need tomorrow or the next day. I don’t mind waiting a week and sometimes much more.

What gets me is that they deliver my stuff to other people’s houses. Our left-hand next door neighbor is one ornery, nasty old cuss. We used to listen to him shouting at his wife. She’s gone for at least a decade. I’m surprised she stayed as long as she did.

Not surprisingly, since Amazon has taken to dumping our packages on his walk, he has found it annoying. He refuses to return the packages. If we can’t figure out that he’s got them, he keeps them. Yes, it’s illegal and once we had to send the cops who explained the legalities and he decided maybe he should return the packages.

But, in all fairness, this is an ongoing issue. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told the package was delivered but it wasn’t … and it never appeared. It was delivered somewhere, but not here.

We have provided our phone number and very specific directions on how to get here. We put up a sign along the road so if you are trying to find the We have given Amazon specific instruction on how to get to this house and we have a big sign at the top of the driveway that has our house number on it. Four packages were supposed to be delivered today and all four of them went to the nasty old neighbor. And all four delivery slips said “packages given directly to residents.” No, they weren’t. Not to us, not to the neighbor. Not to anyone but us.

They promised me it would never happen again. I wasn’t my usual placid me because I can’t count how many times they have said this exact line to me and it hasn’t changed anything.

That they can’t get the address right is annoying. That they lie when they say they handed it to a resident is much more than annoying. I understand te drivers are under pressure, but they had other options including “delivery is delayed” if it is. But it wasn’t delayed. It was delivered to the wrong place.

I hate the lying. That they make it increasingly difficult to get in touch with anyone at Amazon to deal with problems is most annoying of all.

The whole point of ordering things is so they get delivered. To me. Not my neighbor who lives a quarter of a mile down the road. It wasn’t that the packages were delayed, lost, or still on the truck. They were delivered — just not to me. The guy lied, said he delivered them to a resident, and dumped them on our neighbor’s sidewalk. It isn’t okay. And if I have to find local places that sell what i want, then I’ll have to do it.

I hope the state lets some more store open soon because it gets increasingly difficult to buy anything except groceries.

FUCHSIA BLOOMING – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

FOTD – June 7 – FUCHSIA ON THE DECK


Just as well I took pictures yesterday when it was sunny because today we had pretty much every kind of weather minus tornados and a blizzard.

Close up — Looking better without the Doves nesting in them

I woke up to a dark, humid world. The sky was that greenish-gray color that sometimes means tornadoes, but around here usually means very heavy rain. A little sun came out, followed by rain so heavy you could not see out the window. That was followed immediately by some serious hail. Which was followed by winds and more rain until the sun came out.

Poor Owen discovered his driver’s side window wouldn’t work, so he came home covered in ice from the hail, soaking wet, and he had to seal up his window with plastic bags. What a fun day!

But all the plants got watered. We had a waterfall in the front yard which isn’t even hilly.

I took the pictures yesterday and they are perfect for today, wind, rain, hail, humidity and all.