The Time I Shot a Gun

Sometimes I write posts based on experiences in my pre-blog life. This is one of them.

Depending on where you grow up, shooting guns may be normal for hunting, clay pigeon shooting or target practice. I grew up in a family where hunting was normal although not a dominant part of our lifestyle. So the idea of guns wasn’t entirely foreign to me but I didn’t really have any hands-on experience with firearms.

I went through college with the intent to become a newspaper reporter. As I neared spring graduation I interviewed for several jobs and accepted the one that sounded like the best fit. However, I had little experience with the beat I would be reporting on – cops and courts.

But being a reporter is all about learning so I was all in. I asked a lot of questions, looked up law enforcement terminology I didn’t understand and took in all the information I could. In the fall of 2007 the local police department I was reporting on announced they would be holding a Citizen Police Academy. This would be a good story, I thought. Wait… What I if I went to the class too?

shooting a handgun

After a little discussion with my editor I enrolled. The classes were in the evening so they didn’t interfere with my normal work duties and I was so engrossed in my work that going to class at night to learn more about the police didn’t seem like work at all! The class would contain a few highlights – a police ride along (which I had already done but was eager to do again), a ride on the boat patrol (yes, patrolling Lake Erie) and shooting firearms.

I was a little nervous for the firearms night. Most people were excited, which I understand. But from my reporting I also knew how devastating and harmful firearms can be when in the wrong hands. I was very cautious with my approach, making sure I understood everything that was going on before I pulled the trigger. I was also nervous about the gun jamming or something go

In Defense of Pumpkin Spice Latte

A post by a food blogger went viral earlier this week, and conveniently, at the same time Starbucks started selling their seasonal drink – the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Friends of mine who do not even read healthy living blogs were commenting about it and asking for my thoughts. The blogger’s post was reported on by USA Today and other media outlets. It was a social media storm.

pumpkin spice latte

Meanwhile, Pumpkin Spice Latte-loving Starbucks customers continued to buy their drinks as usual. I usually order the drink a few times a season, although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “fangirl” of the drink. I read the blogger’s post, the USA Today report, the social media tweets and comments. Today I’m drinking an iced Pumpkin Spice Latte – “cancer-causing ingredients” and all.

My first issue with this whole debacle is the drink is called “Pumpkin Spice Latte” not “Pumpkin Latte.” As far as I know, Starbucks never claimed to use pumpkin in the drink so to attack the company on something it never advertised is idiotic. Additionally, while I try to eat healthy, whole foods I don’t live my life in panic and fear.

  • Questionable caramel ingredient in your latte? Don’t drink it.
  • Charred burger on the grill? Don’t eat it.
  • Inhaling exhaust from car driving by. Wait… don’t don’t breathe.
  • Free shampoo in your hotel room? Don’t wash with it.
  • And while we’re at it, you don’t know how that hotel water was filtered or where it came from so…. just don’t bathe.

For many people this food blogger is being heralded as a saint, an investigative reporter and an advocate for all of us. Really? She’s just a woman with no formal industry training who likes to pick apart every food and company on the planet. I came across her blog years ago. There have been several mainstream media reports about her more recently so I’ll let those reports speak for themselves.

Lastly, do I believe in transparency? Of course. If the ingredients in this Starbucks drink were not listed publicly, as claimed, then yes, I believe the company could have done better. They should list their ingredients. I do value having ingredient lists available on everything from fast food menus to labels on boxed goods. I also strongly value having calorie counts available for these same foods.

I’m not advocating corruption in the food industry. But I’m not also going to advocate to believe every word an untrained professional posts on her blog. I am advocating we all have choices. And they are OUR choices. Last time I checked we have known about the connection between smoking cigarettes and cancer for 50+ years but I still see people smoking every day.

Today my choice is to drink this latte.

An August Update on My Garden

Where did summer go?! Honestly I’ve been working on my garden a lot. It doesn’t look like much but weeding, pruning, watering and tending to plants is an ongoing chore. I find if I ignore the yard for a week it really gets out of control. It’s easier to step out daily and do a few things.

crooked neck squash

So to back up, I took about a week off from work. I had a friend stop by and water my potted plants. Before I left I had squash and cucumbers in mass quantities! I picked as many as I could. When I returned I picked a bunch more. Then… everything started dying!

I found out my plants had squash vine borer – a nasty slug bug that eats vines from the inside out. I did my best to salvage the plants I could. They were doing “ok” until this week when everything took a nosedive. While our summer has been mild temperature-wise, the sun has been strong. I think my plants are just beat up from the sun and pests.

So I planted spinach, carrots and lettuce recently with the hopes for cool season fall crops. I am continuing to pick a few cucumbers here and there. More concerning, it’s August 20 and my tomato plants are full of fruit but the fruit has not ripened.

potatoes

I did harvest my potato crop. I think I did this right. I had quite a few! I plan to plant them again next year. They were really easy to grow and deer do not eat them.

I’ve been battling sawflies on my rose bushes too. Because I am an organic gardener I have not used any chemicals on them. I have been killing them by hand and spraying the plants with water to shake the flies off. I have seen improvement although the pests are not 100 percent gone yet.

On the lawn front I have scheduled core aeration this month along with a beneficial nematode treatment to combat lawn grubs. I will overseed the lawn and add organic fertilizer after the core aeration.