Death in the Parking Lot: Expect the Unexpected

Gallatin County Courthouse

My job sometimes scares me.  I’m an official court reporter working in small counties with small courthouses.  The problems that bring people to these small courthouses are just as big as other places and just as important to them as the problems in bigger, more congested, areas.  And these problems cause just as much angst and anger among the parties involved.

One such person killed himself this week in the parking lot of one of the courthouses where I work once a week.  His hearing for a modification of child support was set for the afternoon.  Our court security officer was coming back from lunch a little later since the morning session had gone on longer than expected.  As he walked from his car through the parking lot, he noticed a man sitting in his car and then heard the door shut as the man apparently got out of his vehicle.  By that time the officer was already walking up the ramp to the back door.

Within five minutes of him walking past the man in the car, another man came running into the back door of the courthouse, yelling that someone had just shot himself in the head right outside.   The two security officers ran outside.  Within a few feet of the walkway to the back door the unidentified man lay dead.

What had caused this man to take his own life in that parking lot?

Everyone can only surmise; there is no real knowing.  Was he intending to kill his wife and daughter who had already gone upstairs for the hearing?  Was he lying in wait for the attorney to come back downstairs and out the door to get in his car?  Was he planning to come in the courthouse, shoot the officer at the door, then make his way up the stairs to the courtrooms?  Had he decided, perhaps, he couldn’t accomplish getting in and getting whatever deed done that he had planned after seeing the officer?

It’ scary thinking of any of those scenarios… even the one that actually occurred:  the taking of his own life in the parking lot where everyone parks for work.

The sheriff’s department says this is a wake-up call.  Be more vigilant.  Expect the unexpected.

The Effort at Making and the Ease of Breaking Habits

Back a few posts ago I wrote about my decline in thanksgiving; that it takes a month, so it’s been said, for an action to become a habit.  This past year was supposed to be filled with new habits:  cooking, practicing my baby grand, exercise routine, and a solid start on my scrapbooking.

Mmmmm! Dumplings

Do you see those delicious dumplings?  They were very delicious… but also one of the very few things I have cooked this year.

Not only do I look like Mom, I make a flour mess like she did. And they live on through us!

Jeez, I can’t believe there was a shooting at the courthouse today!

Do you see these rolls of fat?  Oh, yeah, I lost that picture.  Somehow it just didn’t make it onto the blog.  But they are there, rolling and sagging and jiggling and in general enjoying the non-exercise routine.  They resemble the dumplings above, only not as pretty.

You’ve seen my baby grand (if you’ve read any of my blog) and you notice I am not sitting at it in any of those photos.  I began playing every day when I first got it, and then…

Let’s see.  Now, what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah.  Scrapbooks.

The scrapbooking mess is not allowed to be seen by anyone at the moment.  Apparently even me.

Where is my Carmex?  My lips are so dry in this disgusting, nasty, rainy weather.

So I have already broken habits that I haven’t even made.  How can that be?  I am normally so together.  Okay.  Maybe not so together but for sure thinking about being so together.  Somewhere in those jumbled thoughts of mine I know an organized, so-together person is living who can cook great meals and play the piano like a real piano player and finish fantastic scrapbooks and is lean and trim, albeit still saggy.  That’s just a given at this station in the life cycle.

Thank goodness the month of thanksgiving is almost over.  I am worn out from the effort at making these new habits; there was just no energy left to apply toward making the thankful habit.   Come to think of it… I don’t know why I should be so tired.  It was so easy breaking the half-baked (I did cook!) habits.

Duuuuck! Cheeeese!

Think I’ll just continue on with the one habit I’m pretty sure I succeeded in making and not breaking:  taking pics of the girls in their towel.

The Resurrection of Mac

The Mac is alive!!!  Kyle, my go-to friend who can figure out any and all computer problems, has succeeded in reviving it.  Not only has he got the Mac working like a Mac, but he has also got the Windows for my court reporting software working properly.  Now… I have to reinstall that software.  Hmmm.  Wonder if I should just take it over to the master or try to do it myself.

Tommi, the tower, has slowed down, again, as though she reflects her owner’s stamina.  Jerk.  Just let her try that after I’ve got my Zumba routine down and am moving around like a young IPad, whipping all over the place with all those apps.   The other laptop, Lenny, won’t get on the internet for some reason.  I thought it was the internet server having problems until I plugged it in to Mac.  He works just fine.  So… it must be something wrong with Lenny’s (Lenovo) insides.  I had tried to delete some stuff from the major gut place, and thought that had totally messed him up, but blessed Kyle fixed it.  And Len worked okay until I upgraded Firefox.  How could something that simple keep me from getting on the internet at all?!

I am almost back to being thankful.

Ms. Amazing

I look just like my Mom here.

You know, I really hate to brag, but sometimes I amaze myself; so much so that I have nicknamed me….  Ms. Amazing!!  Yep, pretty dadgummed amazin’ awright.

So far this week (what? it’s only Tuesday?!) I have managed to crash, I say, totally crash my Mac.  White screen.  Snow.  Christmas is coming soon.  Better watch out.  Better not shout.  (See how my amazing mind works?)

This one looks like a screamer.

Oops.  Too late.  I’ve been shouting, screaming, kicking things, and just generally behaving in a manner unbecoming Ms. Amazing.  When I’m not standing around staring into space, that is.  Well, that used to be my nickname:  Spacequeen.

Once when my children were all small, my mother called.  As we were talking, one of the boys did something, so I had to tell Mom to hold on a minute, laid the phone down, and took care of the problem.  A little bit later my mom came through the front door grinning ear to ear.  “Did you forget something?”  No, I don’t think so.  Then Mom proceeded to go pick up the telephone receiver and hang up the phone.  Gee, I hope I didn’t use ugly words while she was waiting on me to realize I had left her hanging, on my last word so to speak.

my professional look?

Sunday night I stayed all night with my seester.  (When my hair is longer and curly, people think I am of Southwest descent.  What’s that mean, anyway?  That I can speak Spanish as in seester?)  We had decorated her tree and put some Christmas things up.  Since it was foggy, I just stayed planning on getting up when they get up around 6:00 or so and going home to get ready for work.  The extra bedroom is very dark and away from noise; good sleeping.  I started waking up, thinking I would wait for Dar to get up, but feeling rested and that she should be getting up soon.  My cell phone rang and I jumped up to get it.  As I passed through the kitchen, I looked at the clock.  9:40!!!!!  WHAT?!  Where was Dar?  I soon realized work was calling me wondering Where is Bren?  So I threw on my clothes, whizzed home, and got ready in, oh, three minutes.  Such a lovely start to the week.

This almost looks like my high school senior picture!

Come to think of it… that used to happen in high school too.  I would take my makeup to school and scrunch down in my seat behind the kid in front of me to put on makeup.  Ms. Beasley never even acted like she saw me doing that.  She was one of my favorite teachers.  Now… I just wash my face with a wash cloth and hightail it on to work.

oooh, I'm so kissable in this picture.

The night I stayed with Dar and slept so soundly in the dark room, I had this sexual dream about our little state’s attorney.  I couldn’t wait to tell him.  He’s this cute little thing younger than my children, so I knew he was going to be so excited and delighted.  When I told him we kissed in my dream, he said, “Well, how was it?”  “Sort of like kissing my brother would probably be, weird.”  Then I went on to tell him that there was this really hunky stud muffin that was in the dream too (I think it was the defendant from last week).  Our little SA said I had, in all of three minutes, totally deflated his kissing ability and studly quotient.  Only Ms. Amazing can take ’em down that fast!

Me as a blonde.

I’ve been asked on many occasions, “Are you sure you’re not blonde?”  (Sorry blondies.)   In fact, there is a great possibility that I am blonde.  After all, my middle name isn’t really Kay… it’s Ray.  I found that out when I got my certified birth certificate to go to Mexico many years ago.  I told my Mom, “Hey, did you know my name is really Brenda Ray?” “No, it isn’t.” “Yes, it is.  It’s right here on my birth certificate.”

So you see, I’ve been living under a false pretense of rightness gone wrong when actually it’s been wrong all along.  From day one.  My life was destined to be one screw up after another.

I think I like me with blonde hair.  I look pretty amazing.

The decline of thanksgiving, namely mine

Grrrr.  And grrrrr.  Where has my dedication to being thankful the whole month of November gone?  I have lost my grip and plunged head first into the “it-must-be-Christmas-time” bad attitude.  A thief has stolen my goodwill, my cheery outlook on life, my decision not to despair this season but instead be thankful for 30 days (they say that’s how long it takes to set a new habit), and to come out victorious in the face of the New Year.

The stinking thief lives in a very thin, silver box and costs waaaaay too much money.  That’s the only reason the stinking thief is still in my house today:  I waited waaaaay too long to decide I don’t know what the heck in Hades I’m doing with the thin, silver box, so it must stay because I can’t return the blankety-blank (insert really, really bad words here) thing.

It is, I know, operator error, operator stupidity, operator dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks-when-it-comes-to-computers, but I followed all the instructions (I thought) to the letter.  So why do I now have a blank screen on my disgusting I-so-hate-it Mac Air?

Because it’s possessed by a demon?  I think so.  Because the makers of this computer are too smart for their own good and like messing with people such as I?  Oh, yeah.

So, it’s now off to the friend who just fixed my tower (viruses that came right through the McAfee) to see what he can do with the devil.

I only hope he is still sane the next time I talk to him.

The Birth of Radio Shaq!!!

Well, the router trip turned into a USB trip.  That was successful!  (Somersaults, jumping up and down, yelling wildly)  My beloved RadioShack had a thingie with a USB on one end and an ethernet connection on the other.  So I bought the little darling for around $25.00 (worth every penny) and brought it home to marry my new Mac to the internet.  There was consummation of the marriage between them, and I have been deliriously happy ever since.

Today they are giving birth to a brand new blog post in their honor and named after the one who brought them together.  Little Radio Shaq is singing the praises of its godparent,


RadioShack, for getting me connected.  And this evening when I get home, I am going to try to get my software up and running via the downloads that I could not download previously.

🎵RadioShack…I think I love you.🎵

And so does little Radio Shaq!

My upcoming router trip

Today I am thankful that I have finally, and I say it again, finally, figured out how to get my brand spankin’ new MacBook Air that only can access the internet through Wifi to actually access the internet.  I am going to get a router.  Tomorrow.  Only because I don’t feel like doing it tonight… even if anything was open to get it.

MacBook Air

For the past several months I have been trying to get my court reporting software on this Mac computer.  First, I put on Parallels so I could add Windows since my software runs on windows.  Great!!  Get to transcribing notes!  But, no.  After a call to Stenograph, which I should have done first before I bought a computer, I found out that Parallels doesn’t work with my software.  Windows needs to be put on through Bootcamp.

This week is the week!  After I get the router, then the Windows.  An update coming soon.

Sweet Sam

Well, it’s not tomorrow, if you read my last post.  But it is Sam’s day to shine.  And he does love to shine.

Sam summer 2009

This pic was a couple of years ago, but it portrays his sweet little smile that he still has today.  Although, this picture does show his mouth closed which never happens.  He talks nonstop.

On our way home from K.C., as he sat way back in the far back seat, he asked his Mawmaw, who had driven the whole trip, why she had to do all the driving and Gigi was just sitting there.  See how thoughtful he is?  Then he proceeded to tell us how unfair that was and all Gigi was doing was just lying around.  I had to save my reputation and explain that I had to take care of little Ava so I really couldn’t drive.  I don’t think he bought it.

Sam is a special gift to me from God as well.  If you read my last post, you saw that 2001 was a bad year, but in 2002 God gave me little Jack.  Then the next year, in 2003, we were all busy getting ready for Jack’s first birthday which kept me from dwelling on the anniversary of my husband’s death, as well as all the other things that were occurring within my family.  Then in the latter part of 2003, Julie (bless her heart) was pregnant again.  Another baby due the last of April!  Yippee.  Another surprise since they chose to let the sex be kept a secret from them once again.

And once again, in March of 2004, five weeks early, Julie had to go into delivery with Sam.  Another wonderful distraction from sad memories.  This time I didn’t make it in time for the birth, just barely missing it,  and so the evening was filled with anticipation and eagerness to get there, phone calls back and forth.  “Do we have a baby yet?  What do you think it’s going to be?”  And once again, the little fella came five weeks early, on March 12, the exact date of my husband’s death only two years previous.   And once again around the exact same time as my husband lay dying, my little nephew was being born.  A gift to me from God.

Little Sam fell as in love with me as I was with him, just as Jack had done.  My life was again filled with a baby, a new little life, plus the added delight of a two-year-old Jack. Such wonderful distractions from sad situations.  And once again my sister and Julie shared their little bundles of joy with me.

So for the four years after the death of my husband, on each anniversary of that death, a little life was born or a celebration of that little life was taking place.  These two boys have been God’s blessing to me… and at this time of thankfulness, I am so thankful for them.

My Sweet Jack and Sam

The sister and I took a day trip to the doc today, getting all kinds of tests taken and blood vaccuumed from our veins.  Next week is the return trip to see how healthy/not-so-healthy we are.  Let’s hope it turns out better than today’s extraordinarily long day–maybe she will allow me to tell you about it later — however, we did swear each other to absolute secrecy.

But the whole point of that little intro (because we talked about them) was to bring up my nephews, Jack and Sam.  I’m sure I have mentioned them before and maybe even why they are so special to me, but today I am going to tell you again because today I am counting them as one of my greatest blessings and am most thankful this month for the little boogers.

Sam and Jack Easter 2011

The year 2001 at approximately 5:00 in the evening on March 12 my husband died.  And I was devastated.  Exactly one year later, little Jack was born.  And here’s the story…

The week of March 12, 2002, I took off three days of work because I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate at work.  It was the anniversary of my husband’s death, and the year had been extremely rough for me.  In January of 2002 my mini-breakdown, as I call it, was only appeased by a trip to the Eagle’s Nest (another awesome story for another day).  By March I was back at the regular grind of learning to live without parts of me or, in other words, great grief.  The only way I can express to you how grief feels is to say it is like losing parts of your body, say, a leg and having to learn to live without that part, learning to walk all over again.  Knowing the days around March 12 were going to be tough ones, I prepared and took time off from work.

My sister’s daughter-in-law was pregnant at that time, due the middle of April, but on March 11 Darla calls and says, “Julie’s water broke; we’re going to the hospital.”  Oh, my!  That’s at least five weeks early!!  I jumped in my vehicle and met them on the highway, being the lead vehicle, honking at people to move their slow butts out of the way (the contractions were getting closer and by golly she wanted that epidural!).  We had to get there in time for the epidural!!  It just so happened that the 11th came that year on the same day of the week that James died, not the date, but the day of the week.  I had been reliving all the events.  Until Dar called.

As we raced to the hospital and waited for him to be born, I forgot about everything else.  Wes, the uncle-to-be, was there with the video camera interviewing all of us.  “What do you think it’s going to be?  Girl?  Boy?”  Davy and Julie had chosen to be surprised at birth instead of finding out from the sonogram what the sex would be.  That made it doubly exciting!  Wes had all sorts of neat things on that video, fun things, and we were all so eager.

Not until it was all said and done did we realize that little Jack had been born at the same time my husband had been dying only a year earlier.  What had been destined to be a heart-wrenching evening had turned into one of joy and thanksgiving.  A gift from God to me.

Jack summer 2009

From the first moment that little fella was put in my arms, he loved me.  He wanted me even when his Momma was around or his Mawmaw.  And even though Jack was my sister’s first grandchild, she gave him up to me, letting him love on me instead of her many, many times.  And even though Jack was his Momma’s first-born son, she gave him up to me, to let him love on me many, many times.

How can I express my thankfulness to God for these women?  How can I make you understand how special a gift that was to me in a time I was losing every person I loved to death or mental illness or drugs?  What can I possibly say to convey the depth of aloneness that was relieved by this little baby’s hand grasping mine and his great love and longing he had for me?

My gratitude to God for this precious gift He gave me, even though his sweet Momma had to give birth five weeks early for me to get it/him on the day I needed, is deep.  I will not understand this life until I get to Heaven; it is too complex; there are too many contradictions.  Why does something bad happen or something wonderful happen?  When I was yelling and screaming and mad at God, He finally had a little talk with me, through chapters 38-41 in the Book of Job, and told me to stop.  I’ll let you read it and see what He said.

Tomorrow… Sweet little Sam.

The Gift of Seasons


Autumn is a lovely time:  beautifully colored trees; cool, crisp weather after the hot summer days; bonfires; jumping in the raked high leaves; toasting hot dogs and marshmallows; Halloween; Thanksgiving.  What fun!

Today I am thankful for the seasons of the Midwest.  We have lovely springs full of new life, gorgeous blooms, warmth after the cold, dreary days of winter, hope.

spring blooms

Then comes the summers full of vacations and swimming and picnics and laughing and shady spots under the canvas of full tree limbs, life.

sun with shades

And last but not least we have winter: a time for slowing down… until the snow comes.  Then it’s all about sledding or ice skating or building snowmen or snow forts or shoveling out from under snow.  It’s a time we appreciate that hot heat we had in the summer as we break ice to water cattle or horses.

winter scene

This weekend I am enjoying a fall party at the home of my nephew and his lovely wife.  Six children, cousins, all running around playing and fighting and having a great time.