Stop – Stand Still – Raise Your Arms High above Your Head


We are in a crisis in this country. A crisis that involves our young African American boys. What is happening with our young boys is a problem that doesn’t seemed to be addressed by the people that are supposed to serve and protect. How do we protect that group of males when we can’t get an acknowledgement that there is a problem? How do we protect our young males when they can get shot whether they comply with police or not? What you see that’s happening in the streets is a war. A war that is between police and African American males that doesn’t seem to get any better, generation after generation. How do we get more color to our police departments when all you see and hear are negative words? There is nothing for African American boys to strive for in law enforcement. There is nothing that calls out for them to become part of the solution; a solution that as of now still eludes them. I have three grandsons and I fear that one day one of them might be stopped by a policeman. How should I tell them they should act when there are trigger happy cops that only see the color of their skin not the person inside that skin? There was a consensus in African American neighborhoods that to keep our boys safe they are taught not to run from cops, just stand still; don’t touch a pocket, don’t pull up your pants, just stand there. That is no longer what we can teach them because the wrong cop in the wrong mood will still get them killed. What can we say now? I’m not saying white boys don’t get stopped or shot, but the situation for them isn’t plastered in the media as frequently as what goes on with African American boys. Yes, I will admit that white kids are more involved in mass killing, however this is of their own doing. They aren’t being killed for sometimes doing absolutely nothing. That’s an apples and oranges comparison. Some will blame it on parents; that African American boys aren’t taught any better, they aren’t civilized, they aren’t disciplined, they have no respect for authority. The list can go on and on. I have heard people say that they deserve it because they weren’t going to do anything with their lives anyway. Cops these days are judge, jury and executioner because of the power that they have. What chance do my grandsons or any boys have when they can’t fight against a society that barely acknowledges their existence? Are African American cops so brainwashed by their white brothers in law that they forget where they came from? How do African American cops stand there and not do something to instill fairness in the very communities that raised them? Do African American cops just want to turn their backs on their brothers and sisters of color? It has become obvious that right now, at this time, when generations of children of all colors are supposed to be color blind, that this is not true. This generation of kids don’t stand a chance of making any change when they still see that the color of your skin still matters in this country. If they want to get ahead, they have to follow the status quo and not buck the system. This system has been passed down through so many generations that knowing anything different is a time well forgotten. Is there a solution? Yes; that solution is getting mental help for those cops that seem like they are racist. Racism comes out sooner or later in everyone in different forms. We have to reprogram our thinking. That will take a very long time. It won’t be easy but I see no other way. It has to start now. We can’t wait. I don’t want any of my grandsons in the newspaper obituary section because some cop didn’t see who they were, just the color of their skin. We have to do better. Not just parents, but this whole country. A country were immigrants flock but can’t police their own policeman. It’s sad, very sad. What will I tell my grandsons now if stopped? Stop – stand still and raise your arms high above your head. It might not change the outcome but I don’t know what else to say.

Throwaway People

We know of the people that we see on the streets that have been thrown away, by choice or circumstance. There are also throwaway people much closer to you, maybe in your very own home. These throwaway people can be given this label because we have mentally thrown them away. These people are isolated, just like the people you see on street corners or lurking in the dark shadows of the night. Who are these people? They are people who are ignored, bullied, abused, and isolated. Comparing these people to the homeless – they both need help. We, as a society, ignore throwaway people. We look at them and keep walking without a thought, but when you close your mind to those closest to you, you are doing the same as if that person was sleeping on the sidewalk. When we mentally throw away a person, it’s like they don’t exist. We ignore them. We turn our heads. We isolate them by not interacting. I feel that mentally throwing away a person is worse because these are the people you know and love. I often hear people say, “I tried,” or “I’m tired of trying,” when it comes to how they can mentally remove these people from their lives. The killings, to which we are becoming all too accustomed, could be the result of people been thrown away. The rapist could be the result of being mentally thrown away. The child bully could be the result of being thrown away. The reason I can say this is because we have the best babysitter in TV and video games. These things isolate our children, but parents throw their kids in front of a TV or a computer from an early age. The child grows up only interacting with a screen; it becomes a way of life. The child becomes an adult expected to live and act as an adult socially, but he/she doesn’t know how. The adult world shows no sympathy for that adult. When there are young people with weapons and stockpiles of ammo in the same house as the parent, I can only think that the child was mentally thrown away. When you have children killing themselves due to bullying and parental neglect, I have to think they were thrown away. I say this because no matter how tired you are and how many times you try, there is always something else you can do. It is hard to believe that there is nothing else. Can we honestly turn away from a problem that we ourselves might have created? The young person in your house who is on drugs – how can you throw them away mentally? The mentally ill child showing aggression – how can you mentally throw them away? The wife who is being abused – how can you throw her away? It’s way too easy to throw them away mentally. All you have to do is turn off the part of your brain that says, “I care, I love you,” and turn it into “I will not reach out to you.” All it takes is a flip of the switch in your brain and they are gone, even if they live in the same place as you and no matter the age. The answer to the problem is it’s not easy to keep that switch on when there are so many reasons to switch it to off. We, as a society, have to do something, and at this point anything is better than nothing at all. The heart and the brain sometimes have different approaches for how to deal with problems. Is one more right than wrong? I honestly can’t say. If you are waiting for me to give you a solution, then keep waiting. Honestly, I think each of us must take a look at our lives and ask ourselves: “Did I mentally throw away somebody rather than reach out to them?” I think you have to limit television, computers and video games and stick with it. You have give your time, which is not easy for a lot of people. We are so busy with our own lives that we swear we don’t have time. There’s always time! If it’s kids – you spend time, you listen, you relate, you be empathetic, and most of all, you keep that switch on. You might try having specifically designated family time each day. You can try family reunions, so you can get more of your family involved. These are just a few things off the top of my head. I just hope that we stop mentally throwing people away. And the next time you see a homeless person, don’t turn away, but show some empathy.

Have you ever wondered what if this or that? Of course you have. It is our nature to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. Let’s play the what if game for a minute… If you’re married, and there’s trouble in paradise, you start to wonder, ‘What if I wasn’t married?’ and if you’re single, you think, ‘What if I’m was married?’ When you look at being married or single you believe the grass is greener on the other side, but is it? I said what if in both scenarios and find that it’s what you make it. Really, married or single, you should think about yourself and what will make you happy, or at least content. Some people say contentment is settling, but what is settling but being comfortable? There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. It feels good like an old bathrobe that you snuggle into and wrap yourself in. It feels good. Here’s another: ‘What if I was rich? I could move, pay off my bills and travel the world.’ Again, poor people want to be rich, but you never hear of rich people wanting to be poor. Why is that? I actually don’t understand that because generations ago people lived simply. It was not richness they wanted, but freedom and rights for themselves. You do realize that rich people have problems and their biggest problem is staying rich. Their problems are usually more expensive and can sometimes be the source of embarrassment when they’re played out in the media. When I say poor, I am looking at society on two levels: rich and poor. There’s no middle class. Again, what’s wrong with settling, being comfortable, like old slippers that are raggedy but when you stick your feet it’s soothing? You need to just be able to take care of you and yours; nothing else is needed. You appreciate what you have more when there’s some effort in getting it. When you want to go on vacation and you’re poor, you scrimp and save. If you’re rich, you take it for granted because you can go on vacation anytime. I prefer to savor my vacation by saving. One more what if is children. Now, this is a big one. A person I worked with wanted children very badly. She wanted her own, not adoption or any other method. I had a daughter and though my daughter was a good girl. I still sometimes wondered ‘What if?’ in moments when she wasn’t so good. When I compare myself and my friend, I realize that everyone wasn’t meant to have children. There are the obvious ones that shouldn’t have children, which we read about every day in the newspaper. I am not going the religious route, but when I sit here and think about it, there is no real answer to the question “What if I had or didn’t have children?” because this is God’s choice for women. What if I didn’t have my daughter? Then I would not have the ability to shape another life that could benefit the world we live in in some kind of way. I wouldn’t have a life to wrap my arms around; someone that’s a part of me. My friend still wonders what if she did have children, and to her, a part of her is missing. I do feel for her, but that was God’s plan; his roadmap for her life. She could have stopped for gas on the road and adopted, or used another method to have a child, but she stayed with God’s plan. There is no point in asking what if the plan was made. The point of all this is to stop the what ifs. If you’re comfortable single, married, money, no money, have children, or have no children – just be thankful. It is all right to settle. It’s all right to be comfortable. It’s all right to snuggle into you. I’ve learned this as the years have gone by – to just get my old robe and my raggedy slippers and be okay with that.

Retirement and Dogs Part 20

I hope you have read the previous 19 blogs, because then you have an idea that there is something wrong with this dog. If you haven’t read any of the previous blogs, take a minute so you can understand why I say he’s a handful. I want to share with you how K, GG and myself deal with Mason.

I will start with K, because he pulled the wool over her eyes from the beginning. K was not a dog person at all, until I convinced her that GG needed company. I let her pick the dog, so she would feel a closeness to him/her. Mason was laying in a corner by himself while his siblings were all playing together. That should have told her something, but with her being a novice of dogs, and me not wanting to interfere, I didn’t say anything. Mason was sort of cute with his cross-eyes and fuzziness. K’s love for Mason didn’t come easy.

She wanted him out when he pooped on the floor and peed on the couch. We argued. She wanted him out when he barked all night. We argued. She wanted him out when he had anxiety and would run all over the house like every room was his bathroom. We argued. She wanted him out when he embarrassed her and got put out of Pet Smart dog training. We argued. She wanted him out when she had to spend money to buy 3 couches, a crate, and French doors to block into the kitchen and dog gates. We argued. I know you’re wondering how it is that he’s still here. He is still here because she went to Afghanistan and I knew Mason would bark whenever someone came near the house. That is the reason, and the only reason, he is still here. Mason is now 7 years old, and 2,555 days later, he’s finally got it.

K has come to love him and find him adorable. The biggest problem now is her begging and pleading with him to move over since he gradually weaseled his way up to the head of the bed so he can share her pillow. There is also the fact that he ignores us when we talk to him. We call his name, and he looks at you and turns his head. We can call him again and again and he will just ignore us. The only way to get him to respond is clapping your hands or making some kind of noise. Mason still stares at walls, which is a little strange to me. He stares at walls now even when the sun his shining. He is a dog that loves sunshine and warm weather. If it rains, thunders, lightening or snows his anxiety starts and he’s off into doggy mind land. The main thing is that, after all the arguments, money spent, begging and pleading, she loves him now. It was rough getting to this point, but we made it.

GG couldn’t stand Mason when we first brought him home. She would give me the evil eye if I touched him. When Mason came into a room she’d leave the room. GG would just look at K and I when we argued as if to say “You brought him here. I didn’t ask for him.” I think, after trying to get her to be motherly to him, Mason gave up and started trying to get her put out. Why do I say that? He’d go and hit her and steal her food and play with her toys. He’d hide milk bones and still does. Mason would do things and then sit innocently while we tried and figure out who did what. At night, going upstairs, GG would push him down the stairs and keep going into the bedroom. It was funny, but not so funny that we didn’t realize he could break a leg and cost us more money. It took her at least 5 of the 7 years to get used to him being here. She does her matador shuffle when she’s tired of him bothering her. The matador shuffle is her moving each of her paws like a matador in a bull-fighting ring. When she does that it’s on, and Mason better watch out. Mason still thinks he should be first, but I show GG love first. I can’t say that she loves him, but she tolerates him. I feel that one of Mason’s main jobs now is to keep GG moving. She’s 17 years old and I feel that he keeps her running and jumping.

I deal with Mason very incognito, because showing him too much attention in front of GG gets me the evil eye. He’s older and more settled into how he should behave. Mason is not a normal dog, and we know it, but he’s our abnormal big pawed Shih Tzu. I’ll surprise you with the next blog. Be safe.

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Retirement and Dogs Part 19

I sometimes wonder if Mason thinks he is a human because he stands on his hind legs a lot. He is the only male with three women and there are times when he thinks it’s all about him. A example is when it’s hot he lays in front of the fan thinking of only his comfort. He pushes GG out the way when they come in from outside because he wants to be first in. It’s all about him. Then when he has weather anxiety if we want peace we had better all get in the bed while he’s going through his episode. I’m counting GG with K and I because she is a female. Mason ways definitely remind me of some of the men I know. These men have limited consideration and a me first attitude. Here are more reasons where I can compare him to some men. He likes to sleep on a pillow next to one of us, but it doesn’t stop there he has to stretch out. I mean stretch out like you have no room to lay flat. You have to lay in your side. I can here K some nights pleading with him to move over. He wants to be in charge of GG, like he wants her to chase him, and when their food is put down, he likes to eat it first, and leave GG only what he doesn’t want. When GG happens to eat first, or he decides he wants more after she starts eating, he tries to sneak up behind her to snatch her food. K and I watch as he saunters behind our chair to come up behind her. It is funny because he actually thinks he’s doing something. We can dress him in different outfits and he doesn’t mind, but GG? She’s not having it. She somehow gets the clothes off, or she will just lie there like a lump of clay. One day, while K was in Afghanistan, Mason got out while I was looking in the mailbox. I had on my pajamas because it was a lazy day for me. A UPS truck drove by the house and Mason took off behind it. The UPS truck made a left turn and Mason was on the truck’s tail. I’m running down the street in my pajamas and slippers yelling, “Mason!” Of course, he didn’t stop. I haven’t run in years, but I knew as much of a headache as he is, I couldn’t explain Mason getting out and chasing the UPS truck, and me not running after him. I ran out of gas chasing him for a block and a half. Okay it wasn’t far, but to me at that time it was like a marathon. There were people out looking at me running down the street like a crazy person, however, when they realized it was Mason I was chasing, they understood. You see, Mason has gotten out before, but instead of me, it was K who was in her pajamas falling all over the yard out front trying to catch him. He’d let her get close, and then take off in the other direction. She had slippers on so when he would cut to the opposite direction and she tried to catch him, she’d fall on her butt. It was funny, but now that it was me being embarrassed , it was no longer funny. Our whole neighborhood knows of Mason because he is so loud that they can’t help but notice him. The other reason they know Mason is because when one of us is walking them, he is usually pulling us down the street while he tries to get after a squirrel. The particular day I was looking like an idiot running down the street ended when the UPS truck stopped and Mason stopped running. I think he realized he was not at his home because he was looking all around. When I finally got to Mason and picked him up, he was shaking. I guess he was scared. I didn’t care that he was scared because here I was in the street in my pajamas. I know he didn’t understand, but I used a few choice words on him from the time I picked him up until we got home. I tell you, Mason is going to get us killed. GG is nothing like him. If she was, I’d be crazy. I mean, she did have her moments, like wanting to play all the time until I’d have to go sit in my car to have some peace of mind. She has more sense than Mason, and she doesn’t follow him when he’s up to his antics. There is an opening where the gate and the gate door come together. Mason will go out the opening and run around to the front door and bang on the door. GG just stands there. What we used to do when he got was to open one of the car doors, and he’d jump in thinking he was going for a ride. When we brought him back, GG would be standing at the door, and as soon as Mason was put down, she’d jump on him. I guess she was trying to tell him something, but it took a long time for him to learn. Mason is older now, and the only thing that has changed is he no longer runs all over the place. He just goes to the tree out front, and then comes to the front door and bangs. I have stated this before just like a boy takes a little longer to catch on to things so true it is for boy dog too. I was supposed to blog about how each of us deals with Mason, but he ran out the back and came around to the front today, so while it was fresh on my mind, I decided to share some of his antics with each of you. Be safe.

Retirement and Dogs Part 18

GG being bad tearing up a training pad

This is as ferocious as Mason gets

I wanted to talk to you about the difference between GG and Mason. I wasn’t a dog person always and can’t say exactly how it happened. I know I don’t like cats, because to me they are sneaky animals with beady eyes. No offense to the cat-lovers, it’s just my preference. I’ve had three dogs in my lifetime and they were two different breeds: a lab and Shih Tzu. The first dog, the lab, I left when my relationship ended. GG, my first Shih Tzu, was gotten because I was lonely and needed company, and Mason, my other Shih Tzu, I got because I thought GG needed company. I’ve wondered how many people get dogs to soothe some kind of paternal emotion they have, since having a dog is like having a child that can’t talk. I have also come to realize that some dogs are more intelligent than others, and their personalities can be quite different. It has nothing to do with their breeds, but has more to do with their personalities, like people. There are book-smart people, and people who need a little more patience for them to get it. I have found with GG and Mason that there are teachable dogs, and some dogs that need waaaayyyyyy more patience than I have. GG took a weekend to learn to use a training pad, while it took Mason four years, three couches, two baby gates, a crate, and french doors before he got the message. GG is a clean freak. When she poops or her water is low, she comes over and barks like crazy until you get up and follow her to whatever needs to be taken care of. Mason couldn’t care a bit about cleaning up anything after him. GG tries to keep her food on her mat, while Mason will drag his food to any corner to hide it for when we can’t afford to feed him. When GG gets tired of walking, she will step down on her leash to say, “that’s it for me, take me home.” Mason wants to keep walking so he can disturb the neighbors with his barking. GG isn’t afraid of thunder, while Mason is afraid of rain, snow, thunder, and lighting. You get the picture – he only likes sunshine and warm weather. Mason is on medication because of his anxiety. I didn’t have to take GG to any pet training for her to understand commands, but Mason was taken and put out of a training class. I haven’t figured out if Mason is a protector or just figures barking should take care of everything. There have been a couple of occasions when I have been walking them, and a big dog had gotten out of his/her yard. On one of those occasions, GG started to fight with the dog, and on another occasion, she just stood there hoping – like me – that someone would come get this dog. On both occasions, Mason just stood and barked, no protection whatsoever. I am not saying GG doesn’t have bad habits, because she does like tearing up training pads when she doesn’t get her way. GG hardly barked before Mason came – it was like she discovered that barking gets attention. I do know that she got all her bad habits as a result of Mason. I kept Mason because his barking gave me a sense of security while K was in Afghanistan. Mason does have his good points, but right now I can’t think of any. Really. He did grow out of being cross eyed and can be lovable at times. The point is, just like kids, these two are as different as having a boy and girl in your house. Think about a boy and girl and how different they really are in personalities. When you compare dogs and kids, is there really that much difference? I look at my floor and there are toys all over the place from GG and Mason playing, and when my grandkids come over, my floor has this same look, except I can have my grandkids pick up after themselves. My final thought is that GG and Mason are as different as a boy and girl, and dogs are about the same as children. Want to start a conversation? Email me at anitadpowell@gmail.com. Don’t forget to checkout my other blog, uniquethings.blog, and visit our store at uniquethingsonline.com. Be safe out there. My next blog will be about my problem child Mason.

GG and Mason makes the same mess as my grandsons.

Retirement and Dogs Part 17

Mason showing the squirrels his ferocious side

I told you in my last blog about the dislike between Mason and the cats in the neighborhood. The cats just can’t stand Mason. When we pass them, they look at us with their sneaky, beady eyes, and with tails in the up position. Mason, on the other hand, pretends not to see the cats by turning his head in the opposite direction. There have been times when a cat has been sleeping under a bush outside, and Mason decides he has to go under that bush. When this happens, I pull him back on the leash while he barks and the cat screeches. The squirrels outside in front of the house are also enemies of Mason. The squirrels stand on their hind legs in front of the door, which drives Mason crazy. Mason runs back and forth in front of the door, barking. The squirrels are quite bold to me to stand there like that. Mason, as you can tell, just has a personality that animals love to hate.

One day, K called from Afghanistan to tell me that she wanted us to buy a house with the money she was making. I was tasked with managing the money and finding a realtor. I found a realtor, and started looking online for a house in Florida. We didn’t want to deal with snow or excessive cold in our old age, neither did we want to do stairs. Do you know the effort that goes into walking upstairs? When you get old, it’s a little top much effort, though doctors will call it exercise. I call it a Bengay hurt. I saw online that in Florida, there were a lot of houses being sold through the bank. This is called a short sale, where the owner and bank have a arrangement to sell, which is usually low because the bank just wants to get some of its money back. Banks are not in the real estate business, and therefore they will sell houses at a discount. Five years ago, Florida had plenty of short sale houses. I was warned that short sale houses are sometimes ruined by a disgruntled owner. I had a great realtor who looked out for us. There were pitfalls I needed to be aware such as Chinese drywall. Chinese drywall was used in building some houses in Florida because it was cheap. The downside to Chinese drywall is it smells like rotten eggs.

My realtor informed me of which places were good ones, and which were a money pit. She found us a place in a great neighborhood with not too many kids. You have to remember that all this was done over the phone and emails. I didn’t go down even once to see the place. I trusted my realtor, and hoped I did the right thing.

K finally came home, and we drove to Florida with GG and Mason. We were beyond excited to see the Florida house. We found hotels that accepted dogs, and he was still an embarrassment. If he heard any noise in the hallway, he would started barking, and wouldn’t stop. It was a hotel, so there was always noise in the hallway. When we took him out, we had to try to find an area where there weren’t any dogs or people. That all took time and patience, which we were short on. When you get to the development, you have to turn right past the cows. Yep, there were cows at the beginning of the development.

Finally, we got to our new home. It was very nice, more than we expected. One day, while walking GG and Mason, we decided to walk to the corner store, which was past the cows. When Mason saw the cows, he started barking and running back and forth his usually antics. What happened next blew my mind. The cows starting moving toward the fence where we were. They were just looking at Mason, and as we walked, the cows walked sideways along the fence with us. It was a sight to see. I didn’t have a camera with me the one time I needed it. I’ve surmised that maybe Mason is a Dr. Dolittle, an animal that can attract, gather, and be a leader of other animals. OK, maybe that’s a bit much.

The house has a fenced-in patio and pond out back. The ducks and sand cranes can walk to the fenced-in patio, which again drives Mason crazy. They come and just look at him running back and forth, barking. On each of these occasions, GG would sometimes join in or just go in the house. K and I are usually trying to get him to shut up because we haven’t heard any barking from any other dogs. There are plenty of dogs in the development that are probably better controlled than Mason. because you don’t hear them. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Be safe out there, and be sure to check out my other blog, Uniquethings.blog, or visit our store, uniquethingsonline.com.

When he’s at his quietness