Enter Spring – Write & Release

Blackbird Egg - Elizabeth Harper

If you were to peek behind the curtain at GOTJ, you would see more than a few potential posts that read, <no title> Draft.

Some have photos, some don’t, a few are complete and ready to publish needing only a last read-through first. But given what has been happening in the world over the last month or so, my posts seemed like an uninteresting waste of your time and mine. So I let them sit.

It is not the first time I’ve done this … taken an impromptu sabbatical where I have withdrawn into reading while neglecting my writing.

Unfinished potential some might call it.

A friend asked me yesterday how my book was coming along and I while I wanted to say which one, I just said simply, ‘ It’s not. ‘

‘ Oh,’  he said, as he shook his head slowly, ‘ I thought you would be one of the ones to do it. ‘

‘ Well I’m not dead yet! ‘ I said, with a sharper tone than intended.

I tried to explain, but it just sounded like excuses … the car accident, work, a bad case of the blues.

Inside I was thinking … other people get it done despite having full lives, what is wrong with me?

Perfectionism will be my undoing if I let it.

Write and release.

 

‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’

I heard the church bells this morning, ringing like they do each Sunday.

There’s a group of dedicated folks who show up every Sunday and ring the bells for at least a quarter of an hour. They ring steadily, one after the other occasionally overlapping, tolling in a pattern of order that never seems to change.

At least three of the bell ringers live down the road from us and I know most of them never stay for the church services that follow. Asking why doesn’t seem appropriate even though I’d love to know why they ring the bells so consistently each week and then go home. I wonder if they’ve ever lingered to listen or maybe taken a seat on a pew.

In general, churches in England seem to barely have enough parishioners left to keep the lights on and all these lovely little village churches stand mostly empty during the week and not much better on Sundays. I’ve been to services in our village church a few times and I have to admit I don’t feel a big desire to hurry back.

I prefer to worship in another way.

Cornwall 2013 - Elizabeth Harper

Cornwall 2013 -Elizabeth Harper

Elizabeth Harper

Birdbox Cornwall - Elizabeth Harper

Selling A Dream – Where Are They Now?

Elizabeth Harper 1979

Elizabeth Harper – Woolco Department Store -1979

In 1979, I worked briefly in Woolco department store which was owned by a name you may more easily recognize as Woolworth’s. While my job title was ‘Camera Department Manager’ the only thing I had to manage beyond inventory and sales was the boredom I felt on the job everyday. (See goofing off image above)

Woolco was well into its decline when I landed there as most of its potential customers had moved on to the new malls that offered more excitement than our discounted merchandise and a long-term lay-away plans.

While I did my job well enough to receive an employment offer from a local station (religious broadcasting, as I remember it) for finding some dated equipment that they had not been able locate anywhere else, the biggest deal I closed was with two young men about my age who were passing by the camera counter during a slow day in March of 1979.

After realizing pretty quickly that they were not interested in camera gear, I remember talking about the future and what I wanted to do with my life. At that point, I was secretly considering joining the military. Having graduated early from high school and spent six months studying commercial photography by the time I’d turned 18, I was back at home with my parents while working and trying to decide what to do next.

I probably told them that I had three immediate goals which were,  to see more of the world, save money for school (University) and become independent. I can’t remember what they said or how I convinced them that three years in the army might give them opportunities they could not get by staying where they were, but by the end of our across the glass counter chat, I had talked two strangers into a life changing decision.

A few days later, they met me at the recruitment office and before anyone could say, ‘ I’ve changed my mind,’ we were all in the employ of  our Uncle Sam. I came in at a higher pay grade having earned one stripe for bringing two qualified candidates in with me which fit the requirements for the Buddy program in place at the time.

All this occurred 34 years ago this month and I can’t help but wonder how things turned out for the daring young men who joined the army after talking with me. I guess I was doing a bit of life coaching before it was trendy.

One of the things I like about Facebook and the internet is the ability to see what folks you haven’t heard from in years have done with themselves. I enjoy seeing who they’ve become, what dreams came true, and what new ones are in front of them. I wish I could remember the names of the two young men who enlisted with me so I could see if the leap they took on an afternoon in March was one that helped them live a bigger life than they had imagined possible in 1979.

I know it sounds crazy, but I thought with the internet being what is today and the way we can share information, if you could pass this along to your social network, then perhaps someone who has heard a similar story from a man, describing how a young woman with a dream talked him into a bold adventure at a camera counter on an afternoon in March … maybe I might find out how things turned out for them.

Thank you.

The Not So Lost Original 82 Posts … Of Gifts Of The Journey

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Unearthing An Archive

If you’ve been paying attention to my blog over the last few days you may have received an update or two you that found confusing. As long-time readers know, GOTJ had another home before moving to this one.

Stalker Forces Change

I was forced to change my website in early 2009 because I couldn’t moderate comments on iWeb and I had begun to accumulate ugly comments from a woman who had stalked and harassed me for months before finding my blog and making her vitriolic comments public. It’s an old story that I thought had died after not hearing from Maggie Namjou or  Margreta (Maggie) Kerr for several years.

Emails From Others

I have received emails from other people asking about her during this quiet time, people like Louise and Ian who contacted me last week with questions about what John and I went through while Maggie was harassing us.

Having saved hundreds of emails she sent us and recordings of the screaming rants in our phone messages on our wedding day, we told Ian and Louise that we would be happy to help with evidence as they deal with a lawsuit involving Maggie Namjou.

I don’t need to rehash the past, but if you don’t know the ugly story and want to know more, you can read about it by clicking on the links. http://stalkerupdate.wordpress.com/ and  http://giftsofthejourney.com/stalker-alert/

After Louise contacted me about the missing links to the old posts dealing with Maggie Namjou, I decided while I was dusting off the past for her, I would repost the original 82 posts ensuring all writing associated with GOTJ could be found in one place.

History Repeats Itself 

So if some of what you see over the next few days or weeks looks familiar, check the date to see if it’s one of the missing 82.

I’ve been able to transfer the comments associated with each post, but the links back to the blog sites of those commenting seems to be lost. Please feel free to leave another comment if you’d like and thanks so much for your interest.

New Posts

One last thing, I plan to add new material during this time so don’t stay away thinking it’s the season of reruns … you won’t even see the 82 unless you’ve signed up for an email notification found in the top right corner or you go looking for them in the archives. I found my footing with these early posts. I hope you’ll find something in them too.

A Castle For Your Dreams

13th Century - Restormel Castle, Cornwall, England

13th Century – Restormel Castle, Cornwall, England

Hundreds of years ago someone imagined a life on hillside overlooking the River Fowey. Not content with the natural height provided, they scooped up the earth to build a motte and bailey design castle. The first structure appeared around 1100 in what would eventually become the stone remnants you now see in the photo above. Restormel Castle in Cornwall is considered one of the best remaining examples of a motte and bailey castle and according the English Heritage site, one of 70 remaining in Britain.

Fulfilling the dreams of others

When my best girlfriend Patrice came for a short visit in 2011, she had a list of things that she wanted to do while she and her partner Lisa were here for a few days. One of which was a visit to a castle.

I took them to Sunday services on St Michael’s Mount and later John walked with us through the attached castle, but I wanted more for her. I wanted her to see a remote castle with no furnishings and few people, a place where she might have a moment alone to think about her mother who had died a few years earlier without going on the ‘Castles of Europe’ tour she’d always imagined she’d see one day.

I remember Patrice telling me how she’d asked her mother if there was anything she wanted to do in the time she had left and how they had talked about castles before her mother began chemotherapy. Her mother died without going on that trip so this was more than just another tourist stop for Patrice, it had a special meaning and while she didn’t mind which castle she saw, I wanted it to be really special and I had a feeling that Restormel Castle might be that place.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

When I see this photograph of Patrice, I can almost hear her saying, ‘I’m here, Mama’ as she pauses in the first entrance to the castle.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

You can see a second entry point into the castle where the person in blue is walking under the arch. The gatehouse was originally three stories high but was partially dismantled during the Civil War. I found the history of this building style fascinating when I researched Restormel Castle. If you’d like to know more, I have done some of the work for you by providing the highlighted links above.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

You can see the entrance to the chapel in the center of the photo above. The chapel projected out past the circular structure and had points of entry from smaller side doors.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel CastleLooking to the middle left of the photo above, you can a side entrance to the chapel as well as an arched entry leading directly into the sanctuary.

Patrice & Lisa

Here’s a shot looking mostly down into the space. I’m afraid these images are not my best work as it was wet and windy shooting that day, but perhaps you can still get a sense of the space.

Patrice & Lisa

From this angle so you can see how thick the walls are and get a glimpse of the lovely view from the castle walls.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

There are stories about a dungeon, but I’m not sure they are more than stories.

Patrice & Lisa

There are stairs which lead to all kinds of hidden areas like this one with Patrice. I said she looked like a monk from a distance with her dark hood up to avoid the rain so she assumed a prayerful position at the end of a moss-covered passage way.
Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

In this photo, you have a window in the center with an open space  to the left where a fireplace once stood. There’s a matching window (not seen here) on the other side of the fireplace shell.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

I wondered how many faces must have looked though these great stones windows over the last 800 or 900 years and thought about how the view must have changed along with the ownership of the castle. My imagination goes wild thinking about the lives of those privileged to have been able to stand or sit near the windows in a room with such an important function.

Patrice & Lisa, Restormel Castle

You can see how the windows and fireplace might have looked in the great hall by double clicking on this image of a plaque from the castle grounds.Patrice & Lisa, Restormel CastleHere’s a last look at what the interior of the keep might have looked like. You can see the window outline and the fireplace off to the left in this photo of one of the English Heritage information plaques. I usually take a quick photo of these to use later as a reference when I want to do more research online at home. I thought these might be helpful for this post.
Duchy Nursery

One more shot of Restormel Castle from a distance … the first and last photographs were taken during the last week and all others in September 2011.

It was good to help Patrice complete a goal that had been one of her mother’s dreams. Two castle visits may not have been the ‘Castles of Europe ‘ tour her mother dreamed of, but walking through Restormel Castle and St Michael’s Mount, I can’t help but think that Patrice’s mother would have had a little chuckle to see her daughter fulfilling a few of mom’s unfinished dreams.

I imagine most of us have something like that. There are so many places I see living in the UK that I know my dad would have loved to see himself, but the thing I feel most keenly is the connection he and I shared with writing and imagination.

My father left a fair amount of unpublished words and ideas and at least one story he wrote for his daughters. I know he would have been a big fan of my writing (being my dad) and would have encouraged me to go beyond the limitations of my blog. I hope to manage that one day and do something that he, like Patrice’s mom, never had a chance to do himself.

How about you? Are any of you secretly hoping to complete a dream desire that someone special to you can no longer do for themselves or maybe one like mine that you shared with a parent or other loved one?

The Last Photographs Of My Life … Not Yet

Wales 2013

Multi-Car Accident on A40 in Slebech, Wales ( I took this from inside the ambulance. The blue van in the middle of the road is the one that hit us. She also hit the car to the left, near the sign.)

Four days ago my husband John and I were hit by a woman in a van. It was 2:20 in the afternoon on a Friday in Wales.

The driver was drunk … almost twice the legal limit.

She drove head-on into our lane and only John’s quick reactions saved us from something that could have been very ugly. I don’t know why she made the decision to drink and drive or why she felt it necessary to try to pass a delivery truck on a crowded two-lane road after having had the equivalent of four pints of beer, but she did.

None of the cars were moving slowly although 40 to 45 miles an hour may sound slow to those used to higher speeds on major roads. I imagine the drunk driver was also accelerating when she pulled out from behind the large truck that witnesses said she’d been trying to overtake for a while before reaching us. They said it almost looked as if she had someone else in the car jerking the wheel back several times before she drove into our lane.

I looked up from a book I was reading when I felt John shift suddenly and saw the van coming at us, his quick response moved us to the edge of the road or what they call ‘the verge’ here. She hit the side mirror before striking the back side car near the tire which caused our car to go into a spin. We left the road temporarily while spinning … moving through the grass and mud before going back into the road and coming to rest across both lanes.

Wales 2013

We were traveling in the opposite direction of how the car is facing in this photo.

Wales 2013

The blue van in the middle of the road in the distance is the one that caused the accident. She also hit the car near the sign to left in the photo. You can see the grass we brought with us after spinning through it. The white car was behind us and stopped to help. (That’s our tire jack on the right … it flew out during the spin. We lost a big suspension coil as well)

Knowing there were other cars traveling in both lanes, I expected to feel the impact of more cars even after we stopped moving, but all was still afterwards except for the sound of my own coughing. As the dust from four airbags cleared, I knew I was unharmed, but I had to force myself to look at John because I knew his side of the car had taken the hit.

I was afraid to look for fear of what I might see.

Seeing him unharmed except for a bit of blood on his lip was unbelievable given the wild ride we’d just experienced and before we could say more than, ‘Are you alright,’ we heard a man yelling, ‘ Get out of the car, get out of the car!’ It turns out having four airbags going off at once can give an impression of a car filling with smoke and as we jumped out I didn’t know whether the car was on fire or about to be hit by something larger.

Having my camera in my lap at the time of impact proved useful and I snapped a few photos before a mad adrenalin rush and uncontrollable shaking had me sitting in an ambulance being evaluated. I took a few more photos from a sitting position inside the boxy vehicle which is larger than most American ones.

Wales 2013

My window to the world from inside a Welsh ambulance (enlarge to see the Welsh writing on the wall.)

Wales 2013

After hitting us and the delivery truck she was trying to pass, she hit the wall to the right and scraped the road. Somewhere during her out of control ride, she also hit the white car on the left side of the road too.

My title would suggest these were the last photographs I was referring to, but at then end of our day after being released from the hospital and having arrived by taxi at our B&B for the night, I was going over my photos when I came to those I’d shot less than an hour before the crash occurred.

I told John as I flipped through them that had things not gone as they had, someone else might be looking at the last photographs of my life … my final view.

These are some of those images.

Wales 2013

Wales 2013

I don't usually take photos that include the car, but I liked the cloud's reflection in the hood.

I don’t usually take photos that include the car, but I liked the cloud’s reflection in the hood.

My Last Photo ... Not Yet

My Last Photo … Not Yet

The photo above of the rider-less horse … is the very last one I took before the crash occurred. The rider had dismounted just before I took this shot.

Big big thanks for all of the kind thoughts from our Facebook friends. You heard first about our encounter with the drunk driver and your supportive comments were very much appreciated.

Hazards Of Being A Curious Explorer

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

It would be a mistake to imagine you might be able to veiw Cornwall properly from the window of a passing car. If traveling near our home, you’d see the wide open spaces of course and the immediate beauty of Bodmin Moor, but the tucked away places require a bit more effort to reach … and maybe a pair wellies if you want to keep your feet dry.

Last Saturday, John and I set out on a path we’d been on a few times before. We parked on a patch of moorland grass, slipped on our wellies and started walking towards King Arthur’s Hall.

Bodmin Moor, King Arthur's Hall, Brown Willy, Rough Tor

King Arthur’s Hall with Brown Willy and Rough Tor in the distance.

It had been a while since we had walked to the unusual rectangular shaped area on the moor  that is surrounded by 56 stones like the one in the photo above. There are a lot of suggestions as to its age and original use, but like the Arthurian legend, no one can say for sure. You can read more about the monument here. (Do have a look at the links as the details are interesting)

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You never know what kind of livestock you may come upon or how they will behave. Cows are always interested in you until you get close enough for them to see that you are not bringing anything for them to eat. These were part of a larger group that alternated between following us and running away. What looks like a pile of rocks behind them is Rough Tor. You can see me standing on top of it in my header at the top of this post.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Remember when I mentioned that you would miss a great deal if you only saw Cornwall by car … this stream of water is the first sign of the unexpected for those thinking moorland is just an open grassy space. Crossing over this footbridge takes you into what I think of as, ‘The Dark Wood.’ There are gorgeous bits of light that break through the tightly planted rows of trees at times, but not on this day.Bodmin Moor, Winter Trees

I shot this after walking through the narrow swath of trees. It was so green that I modified the color a bit making it look a bit more wintry than it actually did on Saturday.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

There are loads of circular stones once you are through the woods and they line the hillside reminding you that neolithic communities and medieval villages once stood here. The wind is always blowing when we’ve walked through here and I can’t imagine how the people who lived in these stone and likely wooden structures (I think) ever felt truly warm.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Rounding the hill and in the distance sits an old stone cottage that appears as if it has changed little over the years. The windows are not original, but with no electricity, or running water, it is still very primitive. I think the single pane of glass in the windows looks as if there is no glass there at all adding to the abandoned feeling that makes one want to hurry past … unless your name is John Winchurch.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but John likes to make his own set of rules sometimes and while he gives off this easy-going vibe and is certainly a gentle soul, he is not often deterred when I say, ‘ I’m not sure we’re allowed to do that ‘ as was the case on this day. While much of the moor is accessible to walkers, this cottage is not abandoned nor have I ever been as close to it as I have now. I generally like to keep a respectful distance, but when John walked up to have a quick look I couldn’t help following behind.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Even though I felt a bit guilty for peeking in the window, I was so intrigued by what looked like a place forgotten by time that I couldn’t help taking this image of a smaller window on one side of a primitive kitchen setup through a larger window on the front of the house. As much I wanted to photograph more of what I saw, I wanted to be a bit respectful so I took two quick photos of the window before following John up the hill behind the house as we took a different path back to the woods and on to the car.

I wondered aloud to John as we walked, talking about the history of the house and what it might be used for now. It was clear from our hasty look that someone was using the house from time to time and John suggested it might be used as temporary shelter for farm workers or a primitive holiday cottage for someone with a city life.

Fast forward a few hours to evening when we meet up with friends for dinner. We had no idea when we accepted the invitation to their home that there would be more than the four of us and were pleasantly surprised to see we were part of a party about twelve, many of whom we’d not met before.

Conversation was lively and the food excellent and just to keep us on our toes, the Universe sent us an answer to our  earlier questions about the house when we realized that the man we were seated next to at dinner … owned it.

That’s right, the one time I go past the gate for a sneaky look and a photo, I end up face to face with one of the owners.

He was very pleasant and shared the most interesting details about the land and area around the house. That said, I don’t think I ever actually mentioned that I took a photo of kitchen window, but given that we discussed my blog, photography, and how to find me, there’s a good chance he’ll know now.

I wonder if some artistic interior shots might make amends, not that I have them yet … because I’m not that nosy!

But with a proper invitation, I could do some lovely things.

Synchronicity, Dates … And My British Passport

Cornwall 2013

When a day begins with a sunrise this gorgeous it may be reasonable to assume that something special is going to happen.

Five years ago today I sent the email below.

On 2008-01-07 at 04:19:19, reaching4Skye wrote:

John,
I sent a real email to your other email address.
Sorry I dragged my feet a bit.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Best,
Elizabeth 

On January 7th 2008, he was a man I barely knew. We’d only exchanged one email after meeting on a UK dating site. He had a look that had caught my eye, and I liked what he had to say in his Guardian Soulmates profile so when an accidental save to favorites action on my part sent him a message saying that I was a fan, he sent me an email that started a correspondence that led to marriage.

20051000- 017You may know this story if you’ve read GOTJ for long, but I want to point out a connection I found interesting in the date of the email above and something that occurred this morning.

After John and I married and I decided that I was going to apply for a British citizenship, I found myself hoping that I’d be approved in 2012 which was the shortest amount of time it could happen. Given that it can take up to six months for approval, I’d hoped my naturalization ceremony might occur around one of our anniversaries. We have a couple in January and February that are important to us. As if happened, I had my ceremony the day before Thanksgiving and after redoing my passport application four times, (don’t ask) I submitted the dreadful form and all the other documentation required for my British passport.

You can probably see where this going, right?

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day I contacted John after ‘dragging my feet’ as I said in my email. I was worried about things that as it turns out, have not mattered at all.

A black car pulled up in front of the house this morning. It looked like a black taxi you’d see in London only without the taxi sign on top and it was totally out of place in our little village. Seeing it through our kitchen window, I wondered for a moment if it might have something special for me.

Why something for me, you ask?

Because I had an identity interview last Thursday satisfying the last step needed to receive my British passport.

And today … look what showed up!  You can call it coincidence, synchronicity, or luck, but I think it’s pretty remarkable.

IMG_3242

That’s right … my British passport arrived exactly five years to the day that I sent John my ‘ foot dragging’ email.

IMG_3261

No laughing at my photo, please. You’re not allowed to smile in them anymore so it’s pretty awful.

Still, I’m pleased as I can be.

And I’m smiling now.

How about you … is there some bit of magic you can’t explain in your life?

Big or small, do share it with me in a comment below.

Christmas 1942 – Somewhere In England

152nd Station Hospital -1942

I found this tiny program in some of my great-aunt Wylly’s things when I went to see my cousin, McKenzie last summer. I had a whirlwind trip where I scanned photos and documents for most the time I was there. It was a quick overnight visit with me quietly scanning through the night while the rest of the house snoozed. Aunt Wylly was my writer aunt that I’ve mentioned before and sweet to me like a dear old grandma. She was McKenzie’s great-grandma and after McKenzie’s mother died suddenly a few years ago, she’s been the one to keep the family history safe.

Going through things quickly, I learned a lot about my family I hadn’t known. This Christmas menu and program from 70 years ago was tucked in a box, no doubt saved by Aunt Wylly who left a serious paper trail. I knew my Uncle Tom had been in the army, practically everyone called him Sarge when I was growing up so it would have been hard to miss, but I did not know that he’d been in England during WWII. Finding this little treasure from 70 years ago left me with loads of questions with no answers. I gleaned a bit online, but I’m hoping a older relative or adult child of someone who might have served with my uncle will see this post and get touch with me.

Thanks to the internet I was able to learn where the 152nd Station Hospital was located, and found that my uncle was in Bristol, about a 14o miles from where I live now. Frenchay Hospital was much smaller before the Americans arrived in 1942 and they added more buildings to make a medical complex that is still in use today.

I wish I knew more about his life and his time in England during the war. My husband, John was less than three months old when Uncle Tom sat down to the Christmas dinner you see on the program below. Given the shortage of food and rationing going on in England at that time, Uncle Tom’s Christmas dinner was likely much better than what the English were having that year.

Christmas Menu 1942 152nd Station Hospital

Since I’m talking about food and family, I thought I’d share a bit of our Christmas day with you.

Christmas 2012

Our Christmas dinner, the American version … no roast potatoes, sprouts or parsnips. I like them, but I wanted a more familiar taste of Christmas and John was fine skipping them this year. He cooked the turkey and made the gravy, I made the rest from handed down family recipes. We did have the English version of pigs in a blanket which were wrapped in bacon versus biscuit dough.

Christmas 2012

That pink mass before you is a cranberry congealed salad. It stuck a bit in my jello mold so it’s not very pretty, but it was tasty. This traditional Christmas salad has been the subject of a great deal of ridicule from John. I get that congealed isn’t a very appetizing name for it, and that it tends to look like something that has already been eaten once, but it reminds me of my step-mom, Cullene and it’s very special to me. John thinks it is very similar to what they call a blancmange (sounds like bla-monge) which does sound a bit more grand. He had a decent sized portion with his dinner so I think he may be getting used to it.

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Here’s a shot of John waiting patiently for our present opening to begin. I’ll be back with another post on gift-giving as I received something very special from him.

P1020471

Since we’re talking about food in this post, here’s a shot of me with one of the carrots I took on our walk to the pub for our traditional Christmas drink. The couple that own our village pub offer everyone in the village a free drink on Christmas day if they come in on regular basis. I was carrying carrots hoping we might come across a moorland pony or two, but we stayed in the lanes on our walk making it less muddy and we bypassed the moor and the ponies. I did get lucky though as you can see below.

P1020476

This sweet horse was having a Christmas walk and had the benefit of the carrots in my pocket. Murphy munched them down pretty quickly and we went on to the pub.

Thomas Franklin St John

Thomas Franklin St John

I’ll leave you with this photo of my great-uncle Tom taken in uniform. I don’t share any of his DNA as he’s my uncle through marriage, but it’s kind of nice to feel a connection through both our military (Army) ties and our Christmas dinners in England.

If you’re visiting older relatives this Christmas … ask them about their life or you may be sorry later when they’re gone. 

Safer In the UK – One American Mother’s Perspective On Gun Control

Mountain View Elementary School (Internet Photo)

Mountain View Elementary School (Internet Photo)

Few things were certain for me in my early years, but some things were absolute.

School was my safe place, home was not.

Watching the news yesterday as the reports came in of the murdered children and adults in a Connecticut school, I could not help but flash back to the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, where my daughter was a student at the time.

I wonder how the recent mass shootings affect her, but I don’t know because she doesn’t talk about it.

My husband, John and I spend a fair amount of time talking about gun laws in the US and the UK. Having lived in the UK since 2008, our conversations are different from when I first moved to Cornwall. While it’s based more on how I feel here than the statistics John has quoted, it’s difficult to argue with the facts.

John frequently cites the numbers of gun deaths in the US. It used to annoy me, but having lived in a place now where I feel safer because guns are so restricted, I wish I could have the same relaxed attitude when I’m in the US.

I kept a .22 revolver for years in my home in the US. It was an old family pistol that my dad gave me and it made me feel safer. Unlike some of my handgun owning friends, I had weapons training in the military firing M16 semi-automatic rifles, and a M60 machine gun. Additionally, I’d had some experience with handguns as well.

I always recognized how deadly guns could be, but felt the risk necessary to ensure my daughter and I were safe if someone tried to break into our home and cause us harm. My gun was meant for protection at home which is the argument most Americans make when people talk about new laws intent on restricting their ability to own handguns.

Statistics still show that most gun deaths occur in the home with family members killing those they once wished to protect, a reality that makes the protection at home reason more difficult to justify. While the right to bear arms may be protected by the constitution, it has long been one with frequently deadly effects.

Here’s something for gun enthusiasts in the US to consider. The most recent figures I’ve been able to find show 87 people die each day in the US from gun related injuries while in the UK, only 58 die each year. It’s difficult to argue with those kind of numbers.

87 Deaths A Day versus 58 Per YearI feel safer living in the UK. I never ever worry about being held up at gunpoint or shot while shopping at the mall. Church is still a place of sanctuary and while I might get a rude gesture by someone with road rage, I know I won’t get shot. I could go on listing … public transport, movie theaters, and University campuses, but I think you know where I’m going with this.

Britain didn’t wait for as many reasons to push for change … after the Dunblane massacre of sixteen elementary school children, they did what was needed to keep it from happening again.

The Brits I meet are always talking about the US and our need to have so many guns. They tend to make ‘Wild West’ jokes about it, but they’re not really trying to be funny. I think they’re shocked by how much Americans will sacrifice to carry guns, a question I’m beginning to consider now myself.

I’ve chosen to focus on change in this post because I can’t bear to think about any more sadness and loss. This year alone has had more mass shootings than I want to consider and the grief of the families who’ve lost those who were precious to them, breaks my heart.