The Book in the Bushes

It made me really sad.

The other day I was walking down the sidewalk by my house (something I rarely do), and I just happened to look to the side and saw one of the books from my little free library was lying in the bushes. It was a paperback version of “Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul: Stories of Canine Companionship, Comedy and Courage.”

It was soaked through. Swollen. Warped. Completely beyond rescue.

I realize that this book is not Shakespeare, nor is it ever destined to be on the Times bestseller list, but it was a book. It was a book that someone might have enjoyed. It may have gotten a non-reading dog-lover to actually read. It could have planted a reading seed. But instead, some fool took this book and threw it in the bushes like so much garbage. It made me really sad.

On the Little Free Library Stewards group on Facebook, I hear about vandalism and destruction on a daily basis. Little free libraries that are cleaned out of all their books by one person who will probably sell them on Amazon. Books that are thrown in the snow. Library boxes stolen, or maybe even destroyed. Some libraries have been burned on Halloween or blown up on the 4th of July. So I know I’ve gotten off easy so far.

The thing is (and yes, there’s always a thing), all of these little free libraries have been put there for positive reasons. Their stewards are trying to promote literacy and get books in the hands of people who may not be able to obtain them otherwise. They are a positive force in this world. And I’d like to think that there are more people who benefit from them than there are people who want to vandalize them. But it can be awfully discouraging to know that there are so many destructive forces out there.

I realize that most of these vandals are probably males from the ages of 13 to 25 and that eventually they’ll grow up and mature and stop being so idiotic. But it’s kind of unsettling to walk down the street and look at the adult males and think that a certain percentage of them were once these little hooligans who got away with it and are now just living their lives, and not really making any effort to make the world a better place.

Your boss at work may have once keyed cars for fun. Someone you dated briefly may have destroyed all the beautiful murals in his town on one fateful drunken night. Your family doctor may have enjoyed leaving flaming bags of sh** on peoples doorsteps in his adolescence.

We’ll never know. And for society to function, I suppose it needs to remain unspoken. If we’ve learned nothing else in the past five or six years, we have certainly learned that a great many of us have a cruel, hostile, selfish and destructive streak running through our core. And one of those sub-humans crossed paths with my little free library the other day. Stuff happens.

I did retrieve the book, dry out the pages that hadn’t already been reduced to pulp as best I could, and put those pages in the recycle bin. And I’ll keep adding books to the library for those who actually want to read them. Because the only thing those of us who are responsible can do to counter these fools is to keep on trying to be a force for good.

Please support the little free libraries in your neighborhood, or consider starting one yourself. Namaste.

Read any good books lately? Try mine!

A Pig’s Head? Seriously?

If you’re the one person who hasn’t heard of this by now, two days ago some sick individuals vandalized the home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. They painted graffiti all over her garage door. “$2K” with a line through it, referring to the stimulus check debacle (as if that were her fault rather than Mitch McConnell’s). “Cancel Rent”. Anarchist symbols. “We want everything”.

This, in and of itself, is outrageous. But the fact that there was fake blood, along with, I kid you not, a pig’s head on the public sidewalk, really puts it over the top. This is straight up insane. What if a child had come across that? Fortunately, the head was removed by 3 a.m., so the odds of some kid being traumatized for life are slim. But that was pure luck.

Things are really getting out of hand. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a democrat and she’s a democrat. I’d say that regardless of the public servant who was targeted.

Public service has become a bit of a full contact sport these days. The mayor of Seattle isn’t running for reelection because of the people who are constantly milling about her private residence, chanting. Her family hasn’t been able to live a normal life since she took office.

And make no mistake, these types of behavior are acts of violence. They say, “I’m willing to destroy your life as well as your property.” And if you’re capable of chopping off a pig’s head to make a point, how much farther would you be willing to go? I mean, it takes some effort to gain access to a pig’s head in metropolitan San Francisco. They’d have had to drive quite a distance with that thing in their vehicle. Plenty of time to think about what you’re about to do. And yet, at the end of the journey, they still seem to have thought this was a good idea.

Who does that? What kind of psychopath does that? How angry and stupid do you have to be? This message says a lot more about you than it ever will about your victim.

A really terrifying thing is that I came across one article that published Pelosi’s address. Online. You can’t unring that bell. It’s out there now. How must that feel?

What did these people think they were going to achieve? Is Ms. Pelosi capable of issuing the $2K checks that so many people desperately need? Obviously not, because she was in favor of it, and it’s not going to come to pass. The Republicans rejected the plan twice, even though Trump is also in favor of it. Can she cancel rent? No. Can she give whomever this is the “everything” they feel they so richly deserve? Stupid.

And these people, whomever they may be, are now walking through life knowing that they did this thing. I’m sure they feel justified in their own minds, or they wouldn’t have done it in the first place. But that rot, that poison, will forever be inside of them. As long as they live, deep down, they will forever be people who left a pig’s head on a public sidewalk. That is who they are. I’m sure they’ll never admit that domestic terrorism to anyone, even a prospective partner. And that secret will add to the rot. Well done, you buffoons.

We need the best of the best to run for public office if we want the best democratic results. If this is the type of thing that one can expect for making this sacrifice, do you really think the best people won’t think twice about stepping forward? It’s hard enough, being under constant scrutiny, without having to worry about pig’s heads. This act was a violation of Pelosi, but it was also a blow to democracy itself.

Disgusting. This behavior just reinforces my belief that some humans are really lower life forms and have a long way to go to earn the designation “civilized”. We forget that we, too, are animals, and unfortunately not all of us are domesticated. And this belief of mine has nothing to do with race, creed, politics, economic status, origin, or education level. It’s based purely on the choices you make and the actions you take. By those will you be judged.

To the vandals: If your mother would be proud of this, then clearly the f***ed up apple hasn’t fallen too far from the twisted tree.

End of rant.

Peaceful Protesters Aren’t Rioters

They care deeply about this country and want to change it for the better.

There’s definitely a lot to protest about these days. Personally, I’m emotionally drained by it all. My whole life, I’ve never been more horrified by what’s going on in this country than I am at this moment. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with your own set of horrors. That’s the worst part about it. The list is endless.

The truth is that I’m glad people are protesting. It’s the only way that our voices will be heard. I’ve participated in a few protests myself. And every single one has been peaceful and nondestructive.

I get so frustrated when people equate all forms of protest with riots, looters, and vandals. Those things are a sickening side note that has nothing to do with the protests themselves. When a riot breaks out at a sporting event, as so often happens, do you blame everyone who attended the sporting event for that? When looters come in after a hurricane, do you blame the evacuees or the hurricane for that? When vandals tag a blank wall, do you blame the architect or the construction workers or the building for that? No? Then why are you blaming peaceful protesters? Is it because you really think it’s their fault, or because you want to add additional pressure to shut them up because you don’t agree with them?

In fact, according to this article, there is growing evidence that the trouble makers at these protests hold views directly opposite to those of the protestors. They’re trying to give them a bad name, when in fact it’s the right wing militia/domestic terrorists who should be accused. It’s horrific.

A lot of people are really angry right now. And unfortunately, some of those people are choosing to express that anger in very violent and destructive ways. That does not further their cause. In fact, it causes a lot of people to get hurt, tensions to ratchet up, and our tax dollars to be stretched even thinner to clean up after them, which depletes our ability to provide social services that might have prevented these problems in the first place.

But I genuinely don’t think looting, riots and vandalism have anything to do with the protests themselves. These destructive people are not trying to urge others to see their point of view. They’re just having a public tantrum, and using a protest as an excuse to get away with things that they normally couldn’t get away with.

I strongly encourage people to peacefully protest, and I genuinely believe that the vast majority of protests are, indeed, peaceful. There’s no need or excuse for things to escalate into violence or destruction. That would play right into the hands of those whom you are protesting against. Protesters know that. Please don’t lump them into the same pile with the destructive forces of this world. If anything, protesters care very deeply about this country and want to see it change for the better. Destruction doesn’t achieve that end.

What follows is the aftermath of some vandalism that happened at South Park Bridge in Seattle the other day. It’s a beautiful bridge, or at least it was. This does not win people over to your point of view, but I doubt that was the agenda in this instance.

As a bridgetender, I realize that I’m biased. I always hate to see a bridge damaged. It feels like a violation. It makes me sad.

Bridges as Barriers

Bridges should never be politicized.

As a bridgetender for nearly two decades, I’ve come to view bridges as ways to connect people. They can often be the fastest route from one side of a river to another. They’re a delightful transition from here to there.

At the same time, I’ve known many people who see bridges as things to avoid. If it takes you 5 miles to get from point A to point B, and there’s a bridge along the route, many people will go 7 miles to avoid what they see as a bottleneck. The thing is, they’re often using interstates to avoid these bridges, even though the distance between exits is much longer than the average bridge, and in fact they’re often going over several overpasses in the process. Interstates tend to jam a lot more often than drawbridges. So I don’t get this aversion that people seem to have about them.

This is not the first time I’ve ranted about this subject, so when a friend came across an article entitled, “In Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago, Bridges Have Become Barricades”, she naturally thought of me. (Thanks, Jen!) But this adds a whole new spin to my rant. Mayor Lightfoot is intentionally causing bridges to hinder passage. This horrifies me.

It seems that during recent Chicago riots, the mayor has been ordering the city to raise the drawbridges and keep them raised. Yes, I’m sure this is rather effective in keeping looters from their targets, but there are several issues with this concept that bother me. First of all, I can’t imagine that this is putting the city’s bridgetenders in the most comfortable position. They can now be targeted by the rioters and will be every bit as trapped as the rioters are. Also, I would hate for Chicago’s beautiful bridges to be the focus of vandalism.

But the thing that bugs me the most about this concept is the inhibition of the free flow of Americans. I’ve spent my entire career trying to make my bridge openings as short as possible to avoid impeding traffic too much. We are even told that we should continue our bridge openings even if there’s an ambulance or a firetruck en route so as to speed the vessel’s passage through and close as soon as possible, but every bridgetender worth his or her salt will raise a traffic gate back up for an emergency vehicle if it’s at all possible.

Using a bridge as a barricade is making it perfectly clear that some neighborhoods are better than others. It sends the message that more privileged areas need to be protected from the unwashed masses. It pits one part of a city against another.

I love bridges. I look at them as sacred. I hate the idea that they are being politicized in this fashion.

I think a better idea is making the protestors feel heard. Listen to their needs. They deserve accommodation as much as any other citizen does. If they’re treated with dignity rather than met with teargas and walls, they will be more willing take pride in the community in which they are an integral part.

Another side rant is that the article I link to above refers to us as “bridge tenders”. Would you call someone a bar tender? No. It’s bartender. It’s bridgetender. I don’t care what your spell check says. Get it right.


I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition!


Trees Can Die of a Heart Attack

Added to my list entitled “I Never Thought of That” is this poster, below. I saw it at a ranger station while traveling through Oregon, and thought it was a message worth spreading.


Carving your initials into a tree seems so romantic. Young love, immortalized. B.A. + C.L. with a heart around it. People will gaze upon it and know your love is true, right?

Unfortunately, removing the bark from a tree can reduce its ability to transport needed nutrients throughout its system. It can introduce pathogens and invasive insects. It causes the tree to divert precious energy toward wound repair. At the very least, it results in ugly scar tissue.

It also will encourage others to take part in the same kind of vandalism, thus increasing the damage. Because people are, let’s face it, stupid. And they sure do love to leave their marks, even if it means destroying that which was already beautiful.

So, please, if you want to immortalize your love, how about planting a tree instead of causing scar tissue and potential death? Now there’s an idea…


Plant a tree. Then read my book!


I’ve never understood the instinct to demolish and destroy.

Barely a day goes by without some young fool putting graffiti on my drawbridge. I’ve also noticed that if something is breakable and it’s accessible to the public, it will be broken. Signs are defaced. Stickers appear everywhere. Human beings seem to love to trash things.

I’ve never understood this instinct to demolish and destroy. It makes me angry. I don’t see the point of it.

When discussing it with a wise friend of mine recently, he said that he thought it was people’s way of making their mark. Everyone wants to be able to say, “I was here.” “I existed.”

Okay, I can understand having that instinct. It’s why I blog. It’s why people have children. It’s why we create art. Everyone wants to have a legacy. We want to have something to show for having lived on this planet.

When it comes to youth, I suspect they feel as though they will never have an impact, and therefore this petty destruction is their only outlet. They don’t realize that they’ll grow up. They don’t comprehend that there will be other opportunities, but that some of those opportunities will take hard work and sacrifice. Graffiti, on the other hand, happens right here, right now.

I think it’s really important that we teach young people to be positively creative. We should give them projects and outlets for their energy. They should be taught to build their communities. They need to learn to problem solve, not problem create. And dare I say it? The worst, absolute worst educational trend is that of defunding art and music programs in schools.

Producing beauty is essential for everyone who wants to make a mark on this world. Otherwise, ugliness will prevail.


An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

My Halloween Tradition

It’s that day again. Time for me to turn out all the lights at the front of the house, refuse to come to the door, and pray earnestly that no one vandalizes my car. This has been my time-honored tradition for my entire adult life. Happy Halloween.

For starters, I don’t like kids. I avoid them the rest of the year, so why should I bribe them with sweets on this particular night? And in terms of self-care, keeping candy in the house has never been the best idea for me. Also, it’s really not the kindest thing to do for this generation of children, who have traded in their bicycles for computers and are struggling with obesity.

I also hate those adult parties where women feel obliged to dress up like sexy witches, dominatrices and French maids. No one puts that kind of pressure on men. I find these displays depressing.

And then there’s the fact that I used to know someone who worked with parole officers with caseloads of people on the sex offenders’ database. This time of year they’d have to do twice as many home visits, to make sure these people aren’t decorating their houses to draw the kiddies in. “Want some candy, little girl?” Sorry to break this to you, but Halloween is the high holy day for perverts.

I think my generation was the last to really trick or treat safely. If I were a parent, I certainly wouldn’t be allowing my children to knock on the doors of strangers in this day and age. You just don’t know who they’ll be coming face to face with.

Fortunately, more and more communities, churches, and malls are having public Halloween events. I think this is a marvelous idea. Let the little monsters and ghosts roam around in a well-supervised environment. Brilliant.

And at the risk of being one of those grumpy neighbors who shouts, “Get off my lawn, kids!” I really would prefer to be left in peace. But in case of emergency, I’ll be in the back of the house, in the dark, listening to ghost stories on Youtube.



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