Tag Archives: North Carolina

Help Us Stop Domestic Violence – Read and Vote

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Today’s post is a shameless request!  I am asking everyone who reads this to please go to the Huffington Post’s Mayors Challenge (HPMC) page and vote for my hometown, High Point, NC as the Fan Favorite.  Voting ends March 6 and you can only vote one time.  Then share this request with others.

Why should you?  Because the Fan Favorite winner gets $50,000 to put towards its program.  That would be a terrific contribution to the work we are doing.  And I’m asking nicely (see the word “please” above).

And the work we are doing?  It’s a novel approach to stopping domestic violence.  There’s a short video about our work (and the work of all the other finalists) on the HPMC page.  However, there is so much more to say.  And even if we don’t win the Fan Favorite contest or the Mayors Challenge, I want you to know about this approach because it might work in your hometown as well.  That’s one of our goals.

Our program is called the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative.  It’s patterned after a violence reduction program we created and have been using for over ten years, which has reduced our violence and homicide rates significantly.  It is a collaborative effort between the law enforcement agencies (local, state, national agencies as well as probation/parole offices) and the community (residents, volunteers, service agency representatives, business owners, etc.).  Law enforcement identifies 4 levels of domestic violence offenders – individuals who are showing initial signs of abuse patterns to those who have a record of abuse – the worst of the worst.  Those showing initial signs receive warning letters as well as visits from law enforcement officers to explain why this behavior is wrong and what will happen to the offender if it happens again.  A repeat offense moves that individual up the ladder of levels and results in other consequences.

Those with established patterns of abuse are asked to come to a meeting.  We call them “notifications” or “call ins”.  This is a highly structured event, hosted by a local non-profit organization, High Point Community Against Violence (HPCAV), and the High Point Police Department.  Members of HPCAV address the individuals first, explaining that their past behavior is wrong and will not be tolerated.  We are very purposeful with our words and what is said is based on research done in the area of domestic violence offenders.  Following this part, representatives from a multitude of law enforcement agencies as well as the state and federal court system make their comments.  The heart of the message is that domestic violence – abuse of intimate partners – will not be tolerated by our community or our law enforcement.  Any repeat offenses will result in immediate and severe consequences.  These include moving that person to the top of the list for a court appearance, a look at how to get that person the most jail time possible and a promise that the community will show up in court to let the judge know that a warning was issued but ignored.  The meeting closes with an offer from HPCAV:  if you are willing to change what you are doing, we are willing to help you make that change.  We stay to have conversations with any of the individuals who want to talk.  We explain how we can help them connect with established programs or services that can help them control their anger or resolve some of the challenges that may lead to violent behavior.  Our director is available to listen, to guide, to support.

This particular initiative started almost one year ago and is based on careful research and data gathering.  Domestic violence victims and service agencies have been a part of the research and planning.  Our six month data looked very promising in terms of a lower number of repeat offenses.  We are excited and hopeful that the first year’s results will be as good or better.

Imagine what our communities and our country would be like if we could stop domestic violence.  Imagine what it would mean for women and men, girls and boys.  What it would mean for children.

This is a very shortened explanation of a complex and well-conceived program; it’s what is being considered for the Mayors Challenge.  While winning would be an incredible gift to our city, what we really hope for is results, real results.  We want a real decrease in the number of domestic violence incidents, this year, next year, and 10 years from now.  We want a program that you or anyone else could replicate in your city or town with confidence, because it has been successful in our city and because we have the research to prove it.  We want every home to be the safe haven it should be, for all of us.

I hope you’ll vote for us and I hope you’ll keep this effort in your thoughts and prayers.  Thank you!

Delightfully Discombobulating

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Last post I issued an invitation to Mother Nature and someone passed it along, because she visited us this week.  First, two days of cold, yukky rain and then last night – SNOW!

The weather forecasters were on overdrive, predicting when it would start, how much we’d get, possible power outages.  I think they must go to training classes with the same people who talk about the products for sale on QVC.  Who knew so much could be said about so little?!

Because we don’t get a lot of snow around here, we kind of lose our minds.  You have to avoid any place that resembles a grocery store.  We react to snow or ice predictions as if we were facing the Great Depression with money still in the local bank.  Several school systems let out early – though not the first flake had fallen.

No wonder someone shared this on Facebook last night.snow pic fb

It started after dark.  We were in our basement den where you can’t see anything through the windows at night.  I went upstairs for something, looked out the window and was pleasantly surprised to see a white yard.  (We have more than our share of false alarms for snow – I believe it when I see it.)  I turned on the outside lights at the deck and the snow was swirling around in the wind. snow on deck

I picked up my cell phone, took a couple of pictures and went back downstairs.  Without saying anything, I pulled the picture up and handed my husband the phone.  He looked at it a minute and then asked somewhat incredulously, “Is that our deck?”  He got up and turned on an outside light so he could see the snow falling.   There’s just something magical about it.  Then we had some snow thunder, followed by lightening.  The weather folks got it right!

This morning, it was the usual schedule for me.  As the sun began to rise over the lake, I had to take another picture.  This time of the morning is so quiet and calm.  As I drove to work, I soaked up the view as the sun rose and glazed the tree tops, the gray white snow beginning to glow with a combination of pink and orange.  This post began to write itself in my head.

snow next am

Best of all, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day.  Coats came off and you could hear the drip, drip, drip of melting snow everywhere.  The dull overcast sky gave way to that beloved Carolina blue. snow blue sky 2

Tonight, the roads are mostly clear.  There will be some ice in the morning and I’ll trek through the grass to get the newspaper.  Our shaded driveway will be an icy slope until Sunday when the temperature will be back in the 50’s.

Then this will all be a memory.

Portable Peace

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View from Beech Mountain

Beach or mountains – do you have a favorite?  That’s a frequently asked question around here.  Living in central North Carolina means I don’t have too far a drive to either the beach (+/- 4 hours) or the mountains (+/- 2 hours).  That makes “getting away from it all” pretty easy and I’m happy to go in either direction.

I was in the Blue Ridge for a couple of days this past week with my two sisters.  As we were out and about, we discussed the merits of both locations.  We grew up going to the beach more frequently with extended family and friends around.  There was always so much to do – a necessity for kids and sometimes, adults.  Sand between your toes, the wind in your face and the hypnotic sound of waves breaking – it’s a package deal.

Not so with the mountains.  Even in the noisiness of a busy sidewalk café in Blowing Rock, there’s something inherently quiet in the shadow of those dark blue and gray hills.  When I look at a picture of the ocean, I need the rest of the package to feel like I’m there.  When I look at a picture of the mountains, I have a greater feeling of being there, even though I’m far away.  It’s that quiet, that peace and it’s portable.

The best of both worlds?  To be able to sit on the side of the mountain while looking at the ocean; Maine and Maui come to mind.

Whichever is your favorite, I hope you’ve figured out how to pack it up and take it with you.  That’s what holds us over ‘til the next time.

Random Acts of Beauty

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I live within the limits of a small town that is still mostly rural, about 12 miles from where I grew up and where I work.  It’s really the best of both worlds.  I’m close enough to restaurants, entertainment, etc., but my neighborhood is quiet, spacious and dark at night.  There are plenty of wooded areas where I can cut greenery for my Christmas wreaths.  One of my favorite things in the area are the active farms.  I like watching the seasons change based on what is happening to the land.

Driving to work one morning, a pop of color caught my eye and as I looked more closely I saw small circles of white, fuchsia and deep purple peeking through the leaves of the corn plants.  Wild morning glories!  And right now they are  blooming gloriously every morning.  The more I searched, the more I saw.   In some places, the vines are clumped together and it’s easy to see a large splash of  color.  In other spots, the face of the bloom peeks out at you, an unexpected gift.

Morning glories are like happy faces, welcoming the new day.  If you don’t look for them early, you won’t see them in the afternoon.  If you don’t have any, you can sow some seeds.  Toss them with abandon and next year, you’ll enjoy random acts of beauty.

Loving the storms

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I love a good thunderstorm and we have had several of those lately.  Watching the dark clouds gather together, forming an ominous blue-gray wall…feeling the wind pick up and the temperature drop a little…it’s my signal.  As long as the lightening is not cracking directly over the house, I’m heading for the screen porch.

There’s something cathartic about being in the midst of the storm.  It’s like God reaches down and grabs all the ills of your world by the neck, shakes them, pounds them, drenches them and then sends them through the old fashioned ringer to squeeze out the last little bit of nastiness.  Booming thunder drowns out whatever stressful thoughts are rolling around in your mind.  The wind cools your skin.  Your focus becomes watching for the next bolt of lightening.  Then when it’s all over, there’s … silence.  The air smells clean.  And if the sun comes out, you just might be lucky enough to top off the whole experience with a rainbow.  Or in the case of this particular day, a double rainbow.

If you’re not afraid of thunderstorms, head for a spot where you can take advantage of the experience the next time one rolls through!

Yard Art

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I have a penchant for yard art and it has grown over the last few years.  Now, a little class in selection is important and it should not be overdone.  While remembering the gnomes in the movie The Full Monty still makes me laugh, I don’t want creatures peering at me from every natural area.

One of my neighbors has some cool, life size metal art in the backyard that blends in well.  I like those tools  (shovels, saws, etc.) that talented people have turned into garden animals.  And I will admit to having a plastic pink flamingo that comes out for special occasions or as needed to bring sunshine (annoy) those who have a limited sense of humor and clearly need some help.

But my favorite is this fella who I have named Trex (the husband has named it Dina).  I pass him every week.  He’s perched on the corner of the roof of a business that makes coatings for iron products.  I have no idea how long he has reigned in this spot, but I noticed him a couple of years ago.  His strong purple color pops against a beautiful blue sky.  I look for him almost every time I pass that building.

And for whatever reason, every time I see him up there, I hear the refrain from George Gershwin’s Someone To Watch over Me.

“There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that she/he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me”

If the company ever decides to get rid of him, I hope I can bring him home to my yard.  I know I can find just the right spot.

Roadside Harvest

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On my way to work this morning, I saw a car stopped by the side of the road.  A woman was walking towards a section of tall, scruffy weeds with a small plastic bucket in her hand.  I had to smile; I know exactly what she was doing.  My husband and I do the same thing.  She was stopping to pick wild blackberries.

Late June to early July is the time to be on alert for a roadside harvest.  I’ve seen folks on the side of an interstate highway, backsides of all sizes and shapes towards the traffic, focused on picking the sweet, dark berries.  You can find them in overgrown areas next to railroad tracks, woods around a business or, lucky me, in the neighborhood where I live.  I’ve been watching them grow for several weeks, making a pass by the different patches as I walk.

It helps to know what you are looking for and you have to pay attention to timing,because the birds may beat you to them.  Wild blackberries are usually smaller, but when they ripen, they are just as sweet.  Four cups is all you need for the blackberry cobbler recipe below, easily gathered in 2 16-ounce plastic cups.  It’s possible you’ll end up looking like you’ve been in a cat fight, but it’s worth the sacrifice.  Really, there is just nothing better than homemade blackberry cobbler.  Wash them gently, dry and freeze them and this winter when it’s cold and gray outside you can reclaim the taste of a sweet summer roadside harvest.

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

Preheat oven to 375.  Place 4 cups of blackberries in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice.  Stir together 1 large egg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a medium bowl until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle over the fruit.  Drizzle 6 Tbsp. of melted butter over the topping.  Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.  Makes 6 servings.

(Southern Living, July 2008)

A Happy Median

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Daylillies in full glory

I live in North Carolina.  It’s an absolutely beautiful state.  We have mountains – the Great Smokies – rolling hills of the Piedmont – and a great coastline, including the Outer Banks.  If you have not had the pleasure of visiting, you must put it on your to-do list.

One of our state’s gifts to the locals as well as visitors is the Wildflower Program.  From spring through fall, medians around the state brighten the roadways with color from plantings of flowers and grasses.  Even local municipalities participate by adding their own flowers and bushes in strategic places.

I took this picture a week or so ago.  It’s a local and state interchange I travel through frequently and on this particular morning, the yellow daylilies were in full and glorious bloom, covering both sides of the highway and the median.

Perhaps you have something equally as beautiful in your area.  Look around.  Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the visual feast and carry it with you as you travel.

This is what I call a happy median!