April Fools Day, Key West jubilee

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Kari and Sloan

Yesterday, for me, was a mixture of idyllic and bewilderment. I spent a lot of time with Kari in Bayview park. Idyllic. I wept a little. We laughed a lot. We were in what I call “the space”, much of the time. A state of grace feeling.

  • Tim Ousley's photo.
  • Tim Ousley's photo.
    Tim Ousley's photo.

Perhaps the quiet before the storm.

four horsemen

It took me about two hours yesterday afternoon to get all packed up and my little bedroom vacuumed. I kept wondering what this was all about? 72 years old, what do I have to show for 72 years? What does moving out of yet another living situation tell me? What does being poor again, tell me? It was not a happy feeling. It felt ominous.

My friend Todd German came by right on the button at 5:30 p.m., as he had promised.

Todd German SafariTodd GermanTodd

We threw my few belongings, relatively speaking, into his Toyota Land Cruiser, and were off to his home on Cudjoe Key. En route, we passed a friend of mine, who is on the Board of the GLEE Community Garden, where I have a plot. I asked her if I could keep my bicycle in the garden at night. She said, sure. That way, it will be safe at night, as the garden is locked all the time, and only people who know the combination can get in there. And, the bike will be locked to something.

I had thought earlier in the day, that the GLEE garden would be a good place to keep the bicycle. I went over there and bumped into a garden member, and asked her about keeping my bike there. She said probably okay, but I’d have to get the Board’s approval. I see no way it was a chance occurrence that I bumped into the Board member on US 1, in slow traffic on Cow Key Channel Bridge, just as Todd and I were leaving Key West.

Todd said he felt I had messed up with my first email to my father’s lawyer and my father’s widow, asking for an advance against my second and last inheritance from my father’s estate. Todd said he knew my request would go nowhere, it was too offensive.

I said I knew it was offensive when I sent it. I had not wanted to even make the request. But it seemed I had no other choice. I wrote something vanilla wafer, and was sitting on it, waiting to see what the angels might say. My father came to me in a dream and got onto me for not making the request. He said I would lose. I said back, he would lose too. So, I added the offensive to the request and email it to the lawyer, and asked him to share it with my father’s widow, his second wife.

I did not tell Todd that I was egged on many times in dreams, to keep forwarding to them later things I was publishing at goodmorningkeywest.com, after republishing them at goodmorningbirmingham.com. And to include other men, on whom my father had relied, and my blood sister. She and I are our father’s only living children by our mother.

I did not tell Todd that I had been encouraged in dreams to think I was making good progress in Birmingham, that something was going to break there. Not only in my dreams, but in many dreams had by my friend Brenda in north Georgia, was I encouraged in that way. In no wise was I shown in dreams that I was messing up in Birmingham. Or that I had messed up.

Even so, I still did not like having to deal with Birmingham. I knew my father’s will was written so that there was no legal way the advance could be made under his will, while my stepmother was still Living. I knew the family trust my father had set up was written so that there was no way the trust could make an advance to me while my stepmother was still living. I knew the only way an advance could be made was by my stepmother doing it out of her own personal funds, of which she was well-endowed through her inheritance from my father.

I also knew that my stepmother had caused a great deal of trouble in my father’s family, and, after he died, in his company, in which she controlled over 50 percent of the voting stock under the family trust. I thought she was better off dead, than living and causing even more trouble. Better off for her, and for my father’s company. I knew from people who had worked for my father’s company, that my stepmother was not liked in the company. My father was loved by his employees.

Those are the facts. As a far as I was concerned, the request for an advance of my inheritance was just another fool’s errand, on which the angels were sending me, another mission impossible, like my falling in love with Kari. However, despite all the rough sledding, due to Kari’s alcoholism and our having no money with which to have a life together, I am glad we met. Something precious and special awoke in me, and still is in me.

I told Kari yesterday, that she is the funniest woman I ever met. I could have said she is the funniest person I ever knew.

I told Todd last night, that I was in a rut until Kari came along. She got me out of it. She gave me a reason to want to be alive, for I was fed up with what I was experiencing and doing.

I’m getting choked up inside. I’m getting more choked up inside.

When we reached Todd’s home on Cudjoe Key yesterday evening, I was amazed at how it had changed, since I last saw it. Mainly, I was amazed over how his yard looked. It’s turning in to a tropical paradise. He’d had it pretty much clear cut, but he had planted a lot of trees and shrubs, and soon the place will be beautiful.

Todd loves anything with a motor. He has cars, motorcycles, on which he is always piddling. He built all of his wood decking, which is extensive, and there’s more to go. Built it all himself. He did a lot of the kitchen work himself. He’s really good at that sort of thing.

Todd is really good working with people. He’s really good a making money.

He is the Chairman of Hometown PAC, based in Key West, which hosts calls to candidates and candidate forums. He was the first Chairman of the Key West Citizens (Police) Review Board. He is chairman of the charter high school in Key West, and recent went onto the Board of the large charter high school association, to which his high school belongs. He is on the Key West Citizen Editorial Board. He is always doing something gratis in community affairs. He hobnobs with the local powerful and influential business men, Conchs (natives) and immigrants alike.

I said to myself last night, Todd is a renaissiance man. He has followed his dream, one step at a time, and he’s at the top of his game, and he’s only just getting going.

I talked a few times with Kari on the telephone last night. She was still in Bayview Park, until the last call, when she was in her hidey hole.

What a trial, being homeless, living outside. What a super trial, doing that and being a woman. What a double super trial doing that, and being a natural magnet for men, who flock to her as if she has something essential, which they need. And, she loves me, who has nothing to give to her, but me.

She once told me she would never leave me, she would be with me always, but sometimes she would have to be away from me. When she said that, it went straight into my heart, through it, and out my back. I felt it physically, like an energy beam. I had never felt anything like it. I was left in tears. I was shaking. I was disassembled. I was a while coming out of it. In the Burger King, on North Roosevelt Boulevard, in Key West.

There were trials, mostly due to her drinking and the way that affects her personality. Yet, and despite that, my heart kept opening back up, and I would start crying and shaking and disassembling. Sometimes when I was riding somewhere on my bicycle. I would melt down, in tears. Sometimes I melted down with Kari. She would try to stop it; there was no stopping it.

A little while later …

I heard my cell phone buzzing through the wall. It was Kari. She knew I was awake, in distress. She felt it. She feels me coming toward her, when we are meeting somewhere. She knows when I’m there, without even looking up and seeing me. I got on the phone with her, and really melted down.

A cop had found her in her hidey hole and told her to move on. She told him that she was not allowed to stay at KOTS. He told her to move on anyway, or he would arrest her and take her to jail. She thought, didn’t tell the cop, she was going to jail anyway, in two weeks. I said, maybe should have told him that, and invited him to take her there now, to save the time. We laughed.

Kari says she is resolved in herself to do the six months special jail program briefly mentioned in yesterday’s post, in order to be free of her probation – if the judge allows her to use that special program. I can’t imagine being in jail. I can’t imagine coping with that. I nearly went nuts being on a locked ward for three weeks. I paced like a tiger. I could not sleep. I had trouble breathing.

I have no clue what lies in store for me. Perhaps the dreams last night were telling me, all that warfare in my life, it was not a good idea. I messed up. I should have gone a different route, been more like Todd, seeking solutions, resolutions, in everything I engaged. And now I laugh internally. If I had gone that route, the pot would not have been stirred. A lot of things that needed to be said, would not have been said. I might as well have been Todd, instead of me. I might as well have tossed out my entire training by the angels.

Well, I suppose if I’m able to get back to sleep this morning, I’ll be hearing more from them about what woke me up: the swell dreams about all the wars going on in every quadrant of my life. Maybe I’ll hear something from them about Kari and me.

She’s hurting plenty. She doesn’t have a nice bedroom in a nice home, in which to sleep. She doesn’t have steady Social Security retirement benefits rolling in each month. She has jail in front of her. Detoxing, again, in front of her. She knows not if I will be there whenever she is released. She knows not if we will have a life together. Her dreams say we will not.

If not, what was the point of us meeting? For the angels flat arranged for us to meet. Was it solely for Kari to be gotten off the street, given another chance to get her life back on track, but without anything encouraging her to do that? Doing it, just because?

And what lies ahead for me? I have no clue. I can see what I would like to happen, but I’m getting no encouragement. I can’t, for the life of me, grok why I am not able to make a living wage doing what I am good at doing. That is so bizarre to me, that I can only imagine it is punishment, a penalty, for past wrongs I have done. Karma.

I was not able get into Todd’s wi-fi at 3:30 a.m. this morning. It was working fine last night with my laptop. I suppose I was not supposed to get online in the wee hours today. I suppose I am suppose to write, then get Kari’s phone call, then write some more. I suppose.

If I get back to sleep, dreams could wipe all of that out, give me entirely different “marching orders” for today’s post at goodmorningkeywst.com. Or for no post there today.

I never have a clue what’s going to happen. I just try to do what is in front of me, as best as I can, in keeping with the angels’ training and directives, which are as changing and variable as, hmmm, a woman?

Oh, wow. I’m now online, connected to Todd’s server. The angels never sleep, so I guess I’m not going back to sleep just now.

I see nothing in today’s Key West Citizen, which seems to beckon me to engage it.

Todd sent this on Facebook yesterday, which I told him last night, is amusing. He groused about religion. I said, it’s all screwed up. My stepmother is super religious. She has lots of company in having no clue that, as Kari said yesterday, God loves us all, even if we don’t.

As I wrote the lead into what Todd sent to me, this arrived on FB from Africa:

  • Wednesday
  • Musumba Sserwadda Christopher
    Musumba Sserwadda Christopher

    ON DESTINY CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES in Busega Kampala 31 March 2015 .. and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. – Rev 1:7 (niv1984) . dear brethren in Christ we have started the campaign of buying instruments for the ministry we need 12 millions sofa we have raised 1million continue to pray for us and support us with what ever u have , any contribution u or the Lord directs u to stand with us u can send help on mobile money O774645459 or u can visit us direct @ church in Busega or call direct to pastor 0702645459 / 07026415241. God bless u as u do your best to support the great work of the Lord .

I suppose until the day I die, I will remain leery of ministers asking for money to fund their ministry. I don’t recall Jesus ever did that, during his ministry. At least, not in the Gospels do I recall he did that.

In that regard, one of my vicious van dweller criminal friends sent this on Facebook the other day:

What…….”We”……..Have Become

'What......."We"........Have Become'

And this:

Victor Clarke shared a photo to your timeline.
'Indiana Governor Mike Pence claims he's a Christian but his actions are the polar opposite of Jesus' teachings. As Governor, Pence eliminated food stamps, closed healthcare clinics, and signed a law discriminating against LGBT residents.  Pence is not alone, but rather represents the new face of the Christian right: a hollow shell of hatred and intolerance, wrapped in the name of a prophet who they have long ago abandoned. SHARE to make hypocrites' heads explode. LIKE our page US Uncut! </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>#BoycottIndiana'

Indiana Governor Mike Pence claims he’s a Christian but his actions are the polar opposite of Jesus’ teachings. As Governor, Pence eliminated food stamps, closed healthcare clinics, and signed a law discriminating against LGBT residents. Pence is not alone, but rather represents the new face of the Christian right: a hollow shell of hatred and intolerance, wrapped in the name of a prophet who they have long ago abandoned. SHARE to make hypocrites’ heads explode. LIKE our page US Uncut!

And this:

What we have Become……..

'What we have Become........'

And this:

Richmond police chief: ‘All lives matter. That’s really what community policing should be about.’

by Brad Marshland

When Chris Magnus first moved to Richmond, Calif., in 2006, he would hear gunshots at night, sometimes very close to his house. That would be disturbing to anyone, but it was especially so to Magnus, as he had just been hired to be Richmond’s new chief of police.

Recent shootings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Madison, Wis., have triggered violent reactions, revealing a deep chasm between many police departments and the communities they purportedly serve. But not so in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Richmond: Not only are relationships between the people and the police strong, but the statistics indicate that the policies instituted by Chief Magnus are significantly reducing crime. Violent crime has been dropping nationally for years – down 14.5% since 2004, according to the FBI. In Richmond, it has dropped even faster. Homicides in this city of just over 100,000 are down from 47 in 2007 to just 11 last year.

Since Magnus took over as Chief in Richmond, he has instituted geographic policing, where officers are assigned to specific beats over an extended period of time, sometimes as long as several years. He has also challenged his officers to do more than just respond to calls. Evaluations are now based in part on how much officers engage with and address the residents’ top priorities. Back in 2006, for example, despite the high homicide rate, one of the first things residents complained to Magnus about was the number of abandoned vehicles on the streets. While addressing this problem first may have seemed counterintuitive, it went a long way toward building trust. “It sent a very powerful message to residents that we were actually listening to them and were willing to make their priorities our priorities,” Magnus told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric.

Acting in partnership with the community on such minor matters can have hugely positive effects when it comes to tackling violent crime as well. “Just starting a conversation sometimes leads to surprising results,” says Magnus. As relationships get built, residents are more likely to talk to officers they know and provide tips that either solve or prevent more serious crimes down the road.

Longtime community advocate Kathleen Sullivan has never been afraid to call the command staff when she sees an officer behaving badly. The fact that they listen has changed everything. Now she feels comfortable telling others “Sometimes when you’re concerned, you need to call the police. Because they are here to get the bad guy.”

The term “community policing” has become such a buzz phrase that “Pretty much every department, if you ask them, would say they’re doing community policing,” says Magnus, “And I think most believe it. But the challenge is: is community policing really policing the community in the way that the community wants to be policed, or is it driven by the police department?” Magnus’ approach has been to build partnerships with the community at every opportunity, learning from the residents what their priorities are, in order to define where resources should go.

One thing Sullivan believes the department could do better would be to get out and walk the streets more. The key is to train the officers to view walking and talking to residents not as an added chore, but rather as a means to an end. “You’re talking to people in order to get to know them,” Magnus says “to build a relationship that helps you ultimately solve or prevent a crime.”

In the past year, the national wave of protests against excessive use of police force turned violent in many cities, exposing a rift where police departments and the public view each other as adversaries rather than as partners. In Richmond, the demonstrations were peaceful, with the police department command staff engaging community members in dialogue about how policing could be done better. Chief Magnus, who is white, went so far as to hold a “Black Lives Matter” sign. “It seemed to totally represent what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Magnus, “which is respect: this idea that we acknowledge that the relationship between police and the African American community, particularly in many cities, has really been at best strained and at worst incredibly difficult for many, many years.”

Magnus took some grief for holding the sign, but he stands by his decision: “It doesn’t mean a wholesale endorsement of attacks on police or saying that police are brutal or racist across the board. Of course I don’t feel that way. I feel like all lives matter. That’s really what community policing should be about.”

Along with reducing crime, Richmond’s style of community policing could explain why Richmond’s recent protests were peaceful. “The key to the whole thing,” says community advocate Sullivan, “is the more you know who they are, and they know who you are, you respond to policing differently.”

Community policing is not Richmond’s only strategy. They have also actively hired for diversity within the department, deployed computer algorithms to help predict where crimes are likely to occur (and allocate resources accordingly), and they have begun testing body cameras on their officers. While some have touted body cameras as a panacea for preventing excessive use of force, Magnus thinks the issue is more complicated.

“First of all,” says Magnus, “cameras don’t show everything.” No matter how they’re worn by an officer, they don’t give a complete picture of what an officer may be seeing or perceiving in any given situation. And yet the public may believe the video will show the whole truth. Second, the whole truth is sometimes hard to look at. “Using force never looks good, even when it’s completely appropriate and within policy,” Magnus says. “It’s very tough to see somebody on the receiving end of a police baton, even if that is the right tool under the right circumstances to use.” Still, the public wants to see some of the results; they want criminals arrested, and they don’t want police officers put in unnecessary danger. “This means one of the challenges we’re going to face as police agencies is really helping to educate the public about the use of force. When is it appropriate, in what measure, under what circumstances? How do we do it? How are those decisions made?” And that conversation is only just beginning.

Finally, Magnus sees a real danger to the whole idea of community policing once body cameras get introduced. He believes that officers should not be required to have cameras on at all times, “because I want the public to be able to have positive, proactive conversations with officers that they don’t feel are being recorded.” What community policing has so successfully achieved in Richmond may be undermined if lawful residents suddenly feel they are under surveillance.

That said, the Richmond department has begun testing the technology, in part in an effort to learn how cameras might support its broader goals.

Last fall, the Department of Justice asked Chief Magnus to be on a panel of experts looking at protocols, procedures, training and supervision in St. Louis County. His takeaway: “it is critically important we redouble our effort to reconnect police and community at every possible level. None of this is easy. But if we’re operating from a position of goodwill, with the goal of building trust, there’s really a lot we can accomplish by working together.”

protect and serve 2

It’s now close to 7 a.m. Todd just said, it’s April Fool’s Day. For a fact, I’m a fool.

clown

Todd says he is driving into Key West just after 9 a.m. today. I expect I will go with him, to see Kari and whatever else the angels dream up for today. I’ll call Kari and let her know my ETA.

sloanbashinsky@outlook.com

 

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