Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: July 2013

A photo of me:
Ummm... there are random photos of my hands and feet (inside shoes) (my feet, not my hands) (in the shoes, that is), but none of actually me. I am going to blame my husband. I can't be expected to make them all self-portraits, can I?? I'll do better next month.

1) Candle scents* this month:
Seaside Holiday. Turquoise Sky. Summer Wish. Waikiki Melon. Beach Walk. Juicy Peach. Juicy Watermelon. Cherry Lemonade. Pink Sands. Coconut Bay.

2) What I am reading this month (you can find me on Goodreads!):
I finished up The Waste Lands (Stephen King) pretty quickly - definitely my favorite book in the series, so far. I really want an Oy! And then it was full speed ahead for July: Gentlemen and Players (Joanne Harris) - a ton of characters, a lot of switching back and forth between present and past, the first third was a little slow, but a decent book. K is for Killer (Sue Grafton) - the next book in a series I hadn't read in a very long time, but I had no trouble picking it back up again. Unfortunately, it had a terrible ending without any real resolution. Bummer. The White Queen (Philippa Gregory) - first book in a series, I'll definitely read more of them. Medieval England sure was a violent time and place to live, though. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Sophie Kinsella) - I struggled through the first book in this fairly popular series quite a while back, but I finished that one and wanted to give the second book a shot, thinking it might improve. It didn't. I got fifty pages in and just couldn't do it. The main character is awful and annoying. There are too many books waiting to be read for me to waste my time on one I hate. I won't be attempting any more from this series. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) - I read this in high school and decided to re-read some of the classics as an adult, to see how my perspective and opinion of the books would change. This one was first on my list (long before it was made into a movie and became the "cool" thing to do!) and all I can say is wow, what a miserably unhappy group of people. The writing itself was fabulous but there wasn't a pleasant, likeable character in the whole thing. I started World Without End (Ken Follett) but had to set it aside when two books became unexpectedly available off my library request list, but needed immediate attention as there remains a substantial waiting list behind me, so I am very much looking forward to returning to it as soon as I finish the other two, the first of which I just started last night: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley).

3) Three things on my mind:
1. There were a lot of insults hurled in the direction of Florida when the verdict was given on George Zimmerman. Here's the thing though: opinions and feelings aside, as far as I can tell, the prosecution failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was guilty. There were many questionable decisions made by the prosecution, both leading up to and during the trial, that failed to get much national media attention, which doesn't really surprise me, because it didn't serve their purpose; they don't believe in across-the-board disclosure and honest journalism, but rather in fueling dissension, ratings-driven sensationalism, and promoting verdict in the court of public opinion. I believe that, above all, the jurors did as they were charged: decide whether he was guilty (and here are the keys so conveniently forgotten) by the letter of the law, based on the case the State presented. I have served on a jury. I have had the burden of a verdict weigh heavy on my shoulders and my conscience. Before that experience, I had absolutely zero concept of the enormous responsibility that truly is, and when I see people moan and groan about being summoned for jury duty, squirming their way out of performing their civic duty using a multitude of excuses, but are quick to form loud opinions via social media, I know something none of them do: It's as easy to be an armchair juror as a Monday morning quarterback, when your opinions hold no true weight, when they don't actually affect real lives, when they are formed only by what the sensationalized media provides you as the "facts and evidence" it deems relevant. It's so easy to say you would have done differently (ha! you'd have to actually serve on a jury for that to happen and we all know how you feel about putting your money where your mouth is on that topic!), but when you actually sit in one of those chairs, knowing you will have to live with the decision you make sitting on your conscience, knowing that no matter what you decide, one side will hate you for it? It's different. Different in a way you will never appreciate, unless you put yourself there. Whether or not I *like* the outcome of any trial, I believe in our justice system, that the burden of proof is on the prosecution and that we are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State fails in that regard, then the blame is on them, not on Floridians and not on the jury.
2. I shared some related thoughts on Facebook (that I want to include for myself):

I am astonished how many of you boisterously take on the role of armchair juror in the court of public opinion, yet vanish into a mist of excuses when your number is drawn to actually perform your civic duty. May you or your loved ones never require a jury of your remaining "peers." Until you sit in one of those seats, charged with the enormous burden of responsibility given you by that role, you have no idea what it is like to shoulder the weight of such a decision. 
The burden is not on the jury to execute personal opinions, but on the prosecution to present an indisputable case, based solely on evidence, and it is the charge to the jury to examine that case *only* by the letter of the law, all emotions and opinions aside. If the State fails in its task, a person *cannot* be found guilty. 
I have been in one of those chairs, with the weight of a verdict on my conscience, knowing that half the people in that room would celebrate my decision and the other half would hate me for it. Even knowing we did exactly the job we were asked to do, it has stayed with me all this time since. 
I believe in our justice system. It's easy to say you would have done differently, to be judge, jury and executioner when your verdict and sentencing have no actual profound effect on the lives of the people on either side of a trial, when you don't have to live with the decision you made for the rest of your life. 
It's too bad that more people don't take jury duty more seriously. If you want to make a real difference, don't squirm out of your next jury summons. Be a part of the judicial system you're so quick to judge from your living room and the other side of your computer screen. Trust me, it will *change* you.
3. On July 29, the Red Sox played the Rays in Boston. Late in the game, Daniel Nava slid into home with (what would have been) the tying run, in a game that decided which team would lead the division. The umpire called him out, the Tampa bench went crazy, John Farrell lost his mind and was ejected from the game, and the Sox went on to lose. Here's the thing: There's no telling how that game might have finished. The tying run only gave the Sox a fifty-fifty shot at winning and they still could have lost just as easily. Even though the umpire admitted after the game that his call was bad, the damage was done. You see, I can swallow a loss when it comes as a result of the Sox not playing well enough to win, but I want to lose on our own merit, not the failure of an official to properly do his job. I am left feeling furious. I want (proverbial) blood. I sure hope the Sox feel the same.

4) Movies I saw:
RED 2 - we loved the first one and the sequel did not disappoint. Good action, good laughs.

5) Calendar image for the month:
Another summer image that doesn't really speak to me. Meh.

Neither did this one. Uninspiring. C'mon, calendars! I have to look at you all month! Give me something good.

6) New recipes tried this month:
Macaroni Salad. Sweet and Sour Meatballs Kabobs. Freezer Sweet Corn.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Boston Lobster Feast (T's very belated birthday dinner request).

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. An abundance of fresh fruit. Cherries. Pineapple. Cantaloupe. Plums. Nectarines. Strawberries. Blueberries. Raspberries. Grapes.
2. Words that paint pictures. For example: "Occasionally a burst of laughter shot upward like a bottle rocket, exploding softly against the quiet darkness of the neighborhood." And of all places, that quote came from a murder mystery, "K is for Killer" (Sue Grafton).
3. The Red Sox signing Pedroia to a seven-year contract extension through 2021. Heart and soul of the team. I can't imagine him anywhere else but in Boston.
4. The birth of England's new prince. Not so much because I have Royal Fever, but because they look like such a sweet, loving, genuine couple and I am thrilled for them.
5. Ummm... getting a paid day off from work? Listen, folks. It's July. I am summer weary and the end is nowhere in sight. Thinking of four things took monumental effort.

9) Three goals I had this month and three goals for next month:
1. Get through all the August issues of my magazines as they come in and get at least five old issues from The Stack into recycling. (I got through all but one new issue, and that one arrived on the 28th, *but* nine old issues were marched off to recycling! I still feel like I did well enough to cross this one off.)
2. Pick a paint color for the hall and part of the main bathroom. (Done! "Lyndhurst Gallery Beige," in case you're the curious sort.)
3. Attempt to recreate Gram's pickled beets. (Fail. I really need to try this. Like, for real.)

1. Tackle all the September issues of my magazines as they come in -- and after the slim summer issues, this will prove challenging! -- as well as finish the lingering August issue (Better Homes and Gardens) and another five issues from The Stack gone to recycling.
2. Attempt to recreate Gram's pickled beets.
3. Get the DVR current, once and for all, before new shows start up in earnest in September.

10) Something I learned:
::blank, summer-weary stare::

11) The best part of this month and the worst part of this month:
The worst: the night the air conditioning went out.
The best: it was only out one night, it was a quick fix, T learned how to fix this issue himself next time, and it was the least expensive central air problem to have.

12) A photo I took this month:

How we do Fourth of July dinner.

*All scents are Yankee Candle, unless otherwise noted.

1 with their own thoughts:

Janet Tuesday, August 06, 2013 1:54:00 PM  

I discovered the Sue Grafton alphabet series just before I moved to kept me occupied while I recovered from homesickness.

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