Tuesday, June 21, 2022

In Memory of…

Here in the United States, we Americans celebrate the memory of those heroes who have fallen in the line of duty on the last Monday in May. In recent years, this has also been extended to include the first responders who have fallen in the battle against Covid-19.

About three weeks ago, on May 30, 2022, we, the people living in the USA, celebrated Memorial Day, the day in which we remember and honor those men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedoms that should be a given for all men, women and children wherever they live. In more recent years, this honor has also been extended to include the first responders who have fallen in the battle against Covid-19. It is right, because they are involved in the battle for our lives.

But today I want to talk about another war, one that shouldn’t exist, because it regards a subject that should be governed by common sense. Then again, in my opinion, if people would use common sense more commonly, there would be no wars, battles or skirmishes, nor would there be a need for them. The war that I’m referring to is the war against gun violence, gun violence caused by people who SHOULD NOT HAVE GUNS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Let me be clear here: I’m not referring to organized crime; that is another war all on its own.

This year, the US has been beleaguered by an increase in mass shootings. It’s ironic, because this year marks the 10-year anniversary of the school massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school. On December 14, 2012, a young man, who should never have had a gun in his hands, shot and killed 20 children and six adults in the mass shooting.

This year, in New York State itself, there have been several mass shootings, most notably the one in Brooklyn, where 23 people were shot and injured — some seriously, none fatally — in a subway station; the man, who has since been apprehended and indicted on domestic terrorism charges, launched a smoke bomb and then started  shooting blindly and the people trying to escape.

Another mass shooting took place inside a neighborhood grocery store in Buffalo, NY. In this shooting, another young man shot and killed six people; his intention, racially motivated, was to kill as many blacks as he possibly could.

Besides these two, there were nine other mass shootings in the United States so far this year, and the year isn’t even half over. All were horrible, some could have possibly been avoided, but the one that wins, at least in my opinion, the dubious “honor” of being the very worst, is the one that most resembles the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary: the one at the Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. In this senseless, horrific shooting, 19 fourth-graders and two teachers were gunned down by a teen. And one has to ask, “Why did this happen?” and “How could it happen?”

Before I continue, I wish to state that I have nothing whatsoever against guns per se. As has been said by others, guns are not free agents unto themselves; they need someone to operate them before they can kill. However, I do believe that guns should be used with caution and only by responsible adults, which means that there must needs be measures that serve to help determine who can fulfill the requirements necessary for responsibly using these instruments.

As a responsible adult I, personally, do not own a gun of any type. The reason for this is that I enjoy having two feet; walking is much easier with two feet, and if I were to ever own a gun, I might possibly be tempted to use it and would most certainly shoot off one of my own feet instead of the intended target. Therefore, I do not own a gun, something for which the rest of the world should be very grateful; I know my Dad’s younger cousin Jimmy is… Sigh.

So, one might ask, why am I writing this article? I have already stated that I am not anti-guns. What I AM against, however, is allowing guns to reach the hands of people who would use those guns for the wrong reasons, and I’m not referring to the idea of, like in my case, shooting off their own foot, although that is also a pretty good reason. I intend to state a case in favor of stricter gun laws, in order to avoid as many massacre situations as possible.

Many citizens quote the second Amendment of the United States Constitution where it states that “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed ” to support what they believe to be their right to own and use guns.

I’m not disputing their Second Amendment right. But I think we need to take into consideration the context and the life-style of the people when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. The Country’s independence from England had been gained just a few years earlier, and relations between the two nations were still a bit iffy at best. There were still British loyalists who supported neither the new government nor its Constitution. And  there were  other enemies, too.

A great many of the new Country’s citizens were farmers who lived outside of the protection of the towns. They needed guns to be able to provide food for their families. Fresh meat wasn’t readily available to anyone, because there were no grocery stores and no one had refrigerators. Hunting was a necessity of life. Livestock, such as cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry all had to be protected from vermin and thieves, as did grains, fruit and vegetables. I can totally relate to the problem… squirrels!

Hunting is still necessary in certain places, also. My ex-husband was a hunter, but he was also a responsible gun owner. He kept his gun locked up in a wall-safe, out of reach of my young daughter and her cousins, and even I was unable to open the safe. He used it only for hunting for food to eat, and only during legal hunting seasons. We had dogs to keep the foxes out of the chicken coop. He also had a license to use that gun, and it was also duly registered with the Carabinieri.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Second Amendment didn’t provide an unlimited permission to own a gun. Nor did they have automatic, machineguns or submachineguns. I can see why they might be necessary — or considered such — for military use. I can’t understand why non-military personnel, or even military personnel not involved in a war, might need these weapons of war, registered and licensed or not. It goes way beyond my comprehension.

Guns are much too easily obtained in this Country, and because of what I feel is a gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, anyone can obtain a gun: even me. Fortunately for all of you, I’ll never buy one! But I’m the exception to the rule, as we have seen from the sad experience of so many massacres of innocents because the guns were so easily obtained.

The right to not only own guns, but also to carry them is provided for in the U.S. Constitution. However, the provision is also subject to interpretation. I understand the desire of many to own a gun. What I DON’T understand is why serious, responsible gun owners refuse to even consider the idea of more realistic, UpToDate laws regulating their purchase and use. Don’t they realize that those using guns improperly are ruining the reputation of ALL GUN OWNERS?

So what can we do, especially since we are facing a truly serious problem? I’d like to offer a few suggestions that will probably never be seen by our legislators, but it’s what I personally feel could be of some help:

·         Background checks. Some people might think this is too invasive of their privacy. But I’d like to ask: Would you actually prefer preserving your privacy or saving lives? I know which I’d prefer, and I’ve already admitted that I’m not a good candidate for gun ownership. That’s pretty up close and personal. If you have something to hide, then maybe you shouldn’t own a gun?

·         Training on gun use and care. It seems logical to me that if you are going to use something, you should also learn HOW to use it and, even more logical, how to take care of it. Guns are not toys, despite what some people might think, and to get the most out of one, you need to know how to use them correctly.

·         The above point should be followed by a test ascertaining that the individual does indeed know what he’s doing. There is nothing wrong with learning correct usage and proving you know what you’re doing. It’s what happens in the military, and it’s just as important for civilians. You wouldn’t want to shoot your foot off, would you?

·         Getting a license. After training, it’s also Important to have a license. It should be a logical result. If you have a license or permit, you prove that you know what you’re doing and that you have passed a background check.

The license should be comparable to a driver’s license, with your photo, address, birthdate, and expiration date. It’s true, cars are not provided for in the Bill of Rights, probably because cars didn’t exist in 1791; sincerely, they’re even more necessary in today’s world than guns. And no, I don’t drive a car, either.

·         Last, ALL guns should be registered. Now, I’m not a techie, but I’m pretty sure that there is a way to make sure that all guns made with 3-D printers are registered. If the owners of all guns are known and registered with the proper authorities, I’m pretty sure owners would keep a closer eye on their property.

Folks, I don’t want to curtail your enjoyment of your lawful rights and property, but don’t you think maybe we all have a duty to protect, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the right of everyone to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? And the first of all is Life.

I wanted to do something in the aftermath of the massacre at the Robb Elementary School of Uvalde, Texas, and after listening to Mr. Matthew McConahey’s impassioned plea, I decided to do what I do best: write. And I wanted to write something useful.

So please, let us remember Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, from Uvalde, Texas and Victoria Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy from Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Although dying on the job was not part of the job description for these eight women, they each lay their life on the line in hopes of saving the children in their care.

Please, let us not forget their sacrifice, and let us work constructively together to find a way to make sure that guns do not make their way into the wrong hands ever again.


Copyright © June 21, 2022. Mary E. Purpari. All Rights Reserved. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Spring Break: Destination California

California State has an area of 163,696 sq. miles, with 3,427 total miles of coast, making it the third largest State in the country. And, most impressive of all is that California has something for everyone: rushing rivers, crashing waves, sandy beaches, majestic mountains, towering trees, “desolate” deserts, haunted ghost towns, unique wildlife, big cities, small towns, fertile fields, idyllic mountain glens, and placid lakes.

You can find restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, quiet parks, museums, fishing, skiing, water skiing, hiking, sunbathing, biking, swimming, boating and cruising. You can find all this, and much, much more in California

 1) Yosemite National Park

Located in Mariposa County, in the Sierra Madre Mountain range, Yosemite presents a look into true natural beauty. Pristine views of lakes, snow-capped mountains and peaceful valleys are enough to take your breath away and have you wishing you never had to leave. Towering Sequoias, considered the oldest trees in the world, stand out against clear blue skies. Thundering waterfalls, babbling streams, whispering leaves, chattering squirrels and beautiful birdsong all blend to create a symphony that not even Respighi could duplicate. All this add up to a true paradise. Bring along your camera, you’ll need it.

2) Coloma

Coloma is an extremely small town located in the Eldorado Hills, about 46.5 mi from Sacramento. It is most famous for being the town where Sutter’s Mill is located. Sutter’s mill is where James W. Marshall first discovered gold, giving rise to the California gold rush in 1848. A restructured Mill, in the original design, now stands in the same spot. And there is still “gold in them thar hills” and panning for gold is still a favorite pastime. You can also search for meteorite fragments from the 2012 Sutter’s Mill meteorite.

3)  Calico Ghost Town

Located in the Calico Mountains, in the Mojave Desert region, lies an interesting ghost town named Calico. At one time, Calico was famous for its silver mine, and was considered to hold some of the best silver veins in the country. When the veins petered out, the mine was closed, and the town built up around it was abandoned. As with many abandoned towns of the Old West, Calico became a ghost town; several paranormal manifestations have been reported in both the town and mine. There is a mine tour and museum, and mining artifacts can still be found near the abandoned graveyard.

4) Buena Park/Anaheim

In northern Orange County there are two fine cites sitting in each other’s lap: Buena Park and Anaheim. Here, you can find sports events, theme parks, fine dining, theatre events, great hotels, and plenty of museums. “Believe it or not”, even Ripley’s is there. Just 30-minutes further north, you can find yourself surrounded by prehistoric natural history at the La Brea Tar Pits, where incredibly preserved artifacts can still be found.

5) Irvine

 Unlike the relationship of most universities and cities of the same name, the city of Irvine did not come before the University. It was built up around the university on land belonging to the Irvine company. Since then, it has grown in magnitude, taking over a large part of what was once Santa Ana Heights, an unincorporated area.

Among the many things that can be enjoyed in Irvine are the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Lyon’s Air Museum at the John Wayne Airport, the Five Point Amphitheater, various other parks and ecological sites, and much more. 

6) Newport beach

Whether you’re interested in simply relaxing in the sun, swimming, body surfing or board surfing, walking along the shoreline, observing small marine life in tide pools, deep sea fishing, or playing Beach Volleyball, Newport Beach is the area for you. From the beaches and tide pools of Corona del Mar to the wide-open beaches of the Balboa Peninsula, you’ll find yourself in a Newport frame-of-mind.

7)  Big Bear

 Big Bear City is located near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. At only 87 miles from Newport Beach, it is located at 6,759 feet above sea level. The lake has just recently relaxed Covid regulations and is waiting happily to share its nature hikes, picnic grounds, camping areas and cabins with the lucky folks who choose to spend time in this mountain paradise.

8)  Catalina Island

 Catalina Island lies twenty miles off the California coast, in the Pacific Ocean. In the waters surrounding this island are found some unique forms of marine-life, including the Garibaldi fish, which didn’t get its name because Giuseppe Garibaldi discovered it (he didn’t). There are several ways to discover why the fish has this name, and if you’re not into scuba diving or snorkeling, there are always the glass-bottom boat tours for which Catalina Island is famous. Add in the palm trees swaying in the gentle breezes and the white sand beaches, and you’ll think you are in paradise.

9)  Mojave Desert

As with most of California’s ecosystems, the Mojave Desert is unique. It includes one of the hottest places in the world (Death Valley), but it also has a number of plants and animals unique to the Mojave. It has a more temperate atmosphere than most deserts, although it is still, nonetheless, very hot during the day and chilly at night. Although taking a warm jacket with you to the desert might sound strange, yet it is smart to have one at hand. The Mojave Desert is also known as the Mojave National Preserve.


10) San Diego

San Diego has some of the most interesting theme parks in the State, and even in the entire country. Where else can you go on an African Safari one day, coming into close contact with elephants, rhinos and other animals close to extinction, and then go shake fins with orcas, dolphins and sea lions, walk through an aquarium and meet face to with a shark (and not swim for your life) the next? These surprises, and more, will captivate your heart in San Diego.

This article was written with another scope in mind, but because of a series of mishaps, the article was unable to be placed in the intended venue. It seemed a pity to waste all those hours of work, so I hope whoever reads it will enjoy it and maybe take their Spring Break somewhere in California, hopefully in one of these 10 destinations.

Monday, April 19, 2021

AtoZ of Animals I have met: ‘P’ is for Pantero #AtoZBloggingChallenge#


And here is the last of the endless black cats in this series of blogs. Don’t tell Missy Prissy, but Pantero was my favorite black cat. I know, I know; moms aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Pantero really was. He was a very good cat and despite the way some people whose names shall not be mentioned treated him, he behaved himself and was everything anyone could desire in a cat.

He was born in a barn, but I can’t remember if he was brought to us by the barn’s owner or if Nino brought him home, but he was still a very young kitten. His eyes were already open and he had been weaned, and he also easily took to the litter box; however, he preferred letting us know when he needed to go out.

From the tiny little thing he was when he arrived at our house, he grew to be a more than decent sized cat. In his prime, I would say he weighed close to 20 pounds, which is why his name went from Panterino (little male panther) to Pantero (male panther).

Despite this, he tended to be reserved and a pacifist with humans, although he had his moments when people (names again withheld) tended to be aggressive toward him. Then, he would put his teeth and claws to work. The thing he particularly hated was when someone would pull his whiskers and jowls. Those were the only times I would hear him hiss, if that is what you can classify the sound that comes when someone is pulling your cheeks.

Pantero is another of those four-footed babies of mine that I could write an entire book about,
but space here is limited (sort-of) and so I’ll limit myself to one of his adventures (not completely happy, but it did have a happy ending) and two interesting habits. I’ll start with the habits:

We had some very nice chestnut two-by-fours on the stairs leading up to the bedroom. There was no need for a bannister, because the slats went from slightly below the step to the ceiling. I’m thinking some cats need a sort of observation deck, so they can keep an eye on their humans. We talked about Missy Prissy’s reasoning, but Pantero used his vantage point as a pillow.

Yes, a pillow. He would sit up there to make sure everything was all right, and then… then he would fall sleep, his head leaning against the boards. He would still be sitting straight up, but the board kept him from falling off the stairs. I never actually thought about it because it became commonplace. And then my Mom came to visit us.

She caught the quirk the second day after she and my step-father came, and burst out laughing. Pantero opened his eyes quizzically and then fell back to sleep. I still have to chuckle whenever I think about it.

One other good thing about him was that he ate whatever you gave him. He liked bread every bit as much as he liked meat. And he liked barbecue potato chips. For him, they were the best, and his ears perked up the moment he heard the rustling of the bag. I know, they were bad for him and I didn’t give him more than two or three, but we all have our weaknesses, and his were barbecue potato chips.

Pantero was an excellent hunter, and this trait almost led to his demise. I had gone to Switzerland for a week, and the day after I left he caught a mouse that had been, unfortunately, poisoned. He made it home, but barely. Nino and my daughter saw how weak and sick he was and immediately took him to the vet.

The vet was able to get his stomach cleaned out and gave him some medicines to buck him up, but it was touch and go there for several days, until the day I started back home. His listlessness disappeared and he even started eating again. He went outside the day I got home and came running down our little street to welcome me home.

Is there any doubt as to why he’s my favorite of the endless black cats?



Copyright © 19 April 18, 2021. Mary E. Purpari. All Rights Reserved.   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

AtoZ of Animals I Have Met: ‘O’ is for Opossums #AtoZBloggingChallenge#

Although I live in Brooklyn, New York, the area I live in is a lovely mixture of big city and rural area. I have often called my backyard a forest because of all the trees growing in the neighborhood. In fact, during the summer my backyard truly seems to be nothing less than a small woods area. You never really have to worry about people spying on you, because they’d need x-ray vision to see through the trees.

There is also an abundance of wildlife—besides the loud, chaotic, extremely annoying parties, which are, thankfully, a thing of the past and future—which includes a few feral cats; at least 16 types of birds (thanks to a nearby bird sanctuary) including cardinals, a red hawk family (watching them court was amazing), chickadees, blue jays (very annoying), a woodpecker (Woodie wasn’t joking: they really do laugh!), and others and an unknown quantity of squirrels.

And then, there are two more animals, both of which tend to be a little shy. That’s fine, I don’t need to be on a first name basis with the raccoons (there is one that is enormous and a little bit scary; it’s pretty old, I think, and it’s been through the mill a few times, which is probably how it lost its tail) and there are the opossums.

I like the opossums, probably because the ones that come are usually pretty young. I think their moms bring them and then leave. The poor babies are so ugly they’re cute and they win over my heart every single time. Actually, I haven’t seen an opossum for a couple of years. In fact, the last time I did, I even took a picture of him. For some reason, Opossums look like their name should be Gertrude or Joseph, or at least in my opinion.

I’d like to share the story that I wrote on Facebook that accompanied the photo of Joseph:

 “Last night I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard this shriek and I thought one of the cats had caught a bird (it was definitely not a mouse--too loud and low-pitched). I didn't think anything else about it until I heard this giant bag of leaves I have on my porch, rustling.

Since I’d heard it the night before, I knew who it was: Joseph, the opossum. Since I'm smart (sometimes) I connected the dots and figured Joseph might be in trouble, so I went out to look.

The poor little guy, whose name should probably be changed to Snoopy, had gotten his tail all tangled up in the bag. He knows me & usually isn't afraid, but this time, when I grabbed the bag to help him, he pulled until he got free and then took off. Of course, opossums don't take off very quickly, but still...
See, this is one of the reasons we should NEVER leave plastic bags out in nature: nature is curious and tries to check things out, and very often gets into trouble. Snoopy Joseph was lucky that I was there and could help him. Most aren't that lucky. The photo is a slightly younger Joseph.”

A funny thing happened about six months later. First, though, I have to mention that Missy Prissy tends to climb up my window screens to let me know she’d like to come in. That being said, one night a terrible racket on the porch caused me to jerk awake and bang my head on the ceiling about 10 feet or so above my bed. I looked over whence came the noise and saw this big form splatted on the screen on my bedroom window.

My first thought was “What the heck is that?” and then, I started to laugh: it was Joseph. The only reason that I could think of that might explain his being on the screen was that he had seen Missy Prissy climbing the screens and she got to come in. I guess he figured that if it worked for her, why shouldn’t it work for him. He tried all three screens and, as I think about it now, that may have been the last time I saw him.

Anyway, now that you know what the wildlife of Brooklyn, New York is really about, maybe you’ll have a different perspective about this crazy, wildlife city. I sure do.



Copyright © 17 April 17, 2021.  Mary E. Purpari. All Rights reserved