Random Thoughts


Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Well, Hello. Welcome to June’s installment of my random thoughts. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

– Like you, I woke up yesterday to the horrific news about the mass-murder in Orlando. Like you, I’m feeling all the feelings. I’m simply heartbroken for the victims and their families. I’m distressed and disturbed that in 2016 there is still so much hate directed at gay people, that coming out is a very dangerous thing, requiring more bravery than I will likely ever have to muster. I’m angry that there are still people in my life who aren’t willing to consider serious gun law reform. I’m sickened as I read the statistics showing plainly how much more gun violence there is in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world.

Like you, I want to take action, but feel daunted and somewhat helpless. What can I do? I talked my kids and wore my rainbow dress yesterday, I made calls to several senators on this list today, I’m looking up local blood drives to see where I can donate this week. Of course, none of it feels like it will ever be enough. What about you? How are you holding up? What do you do when you feel powerless in the face of tragedy?

I know this is a heavy way to start the post. The rest of my random thoughts are much lighter.

– Yesterday, I took Ben Blair and the 5 oldest kids to the airport. They flew to St. George for our annual Cousins Week. I’ve mentioned it before, but basically, any cousins 8 or older are invited to my sister Sara’s house in St. George for a camp of sorts. It’s a week(ish) of unlimited popsicles, movies whenever you’d like, swimming, sugar cereal, staying up late and bonding with cousins. Each day, some structure is built in with outings, crafts or activities. Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents help out with the structured parts and Sara takes care of the rest. Sara has been hosting Cousins Week since 2009.

Something fun this year: There are four new 8-year-olds joining the group!

– Our whole crew will arrive home from Cousins Week late Thursday night. Till then, June and I are the only ones home. It feels so strange. The house is super quiet and of course, June is missing her best friends. Things I promised June we would do this week in an attempt to relieve her broken heart at not being old enough for cousins week: get mani-pedis, buy a box of Frosted Flakes (her favorite sugar cereal), and shop for a “Chinese dress” (I’m not sure what this is, but she saw something in a window in Chinatown last time we were there and has begged for a “Chinese dress” ever since).

I rarely get extended alone time with one of my kids, so I’m really looking forward to our week together, just me and June.

– We leave to France on Monday. That’s right: 1 week to go! I’m a little overwhelmed by the task list ahead of me this week (and by little, I mean very much so), but I have high hopes it’s all doable — especially since most of the family is out of town. It sure makes a big difference. I have literally zero kid events, kid pick up times, or mandatory kid errands till Friday. That opens up a lot of time!

We’re not staying in La Cressonniere while we’re there, but we’ve found a couple of gorgeous places to rent that are in the same general vicinity — and not too far from our cottage.

– Speaking of which, I’m super, super, super excited to work on The Cottage once we get to France. Last week, we got in touch with our architect in France. We’ll meet with him soon after we arrive and see what we can accomplish over the summer. But I have to keep reminding myself not to get my expectations too high — everything takes longer than I think it will. Hah!

As I’ve mentioned, my daydream when 2016 started was that we would have tons of work on the cottage done from January through June. And then, when we arrived this summer, the hope was that we would use our time for finishing work — painting, choosing a fridge and stove, shopping for beds, etc..

Did that happen? Not even close! Oh well. We’ll see what we can manage this summer. One thing I know for sure: It’s always easier to put things in motion when we’re actually on site. And even with the much slower timeline, I still can’t wipe the grin from my face when I think about making improvement to our little piece of French countryside.

– My sister Jordan is about to have her baby, and I won’t be here to help. It is killing me! I’ve never lived close enough to watch the kids or bring dinner before, and now I do, but I’ll be out of the country. Unfortunate travel timing on my part! Do you live near any of your siblings? Have you ever been able to help them when a baby arrived?

– Tomorrow is my birthday. It will be a celebration for two — just me and June. I generally prefer a very low-key birthday, so that’s fine with me. I’m thinking we’ll get the promised mani-pedi.

balloon banner DIY

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.

27 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. I just the texts that one of the Orlando victims sent to his mother shortly before he was shot and killed. It just about broke me. “No Way To Prevent This, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” is the title of an Onion article it has published a few times in response to these mass shootings, and like you I feel horrified, heartbroken, distressed, angry, daunted, and helpless.

    On a lighter topic, I wonder if June is thinking about a qipao or cheongsam dress? Good luck finding one – I’m sure SF Chinatown has lots of options!

  2. I always have the same question after something horrific happens, “What do you do when you feel powerless in the face of tragedy?” I have thought so much about this in recent years as I have felt overwhelmed by grief at the refugee crisis, or gun violence, or anything else. I have decided that it helps me to DO something. I look for something that is related to the event–donating money or your other ideas about donating blood or whatever else, even if the gesture is small. If I can’t think of something related to the tragedy, I try to just do something kind for someone. I like to think I am sending a message to the universe that while I know there is evil and hate in the world, there is even more kindness and goodness and light and hope.

  3. I call my senators, representative & governor every time there is a mass shooting in the news and tell them it’s time for gun safety laws. I am making these calls more and more often and nothing is happening. How many innocent people have to die? This grief and rage cannot be the ending of the story, it is fuel for making change happen.

  4. Thank you so much for listing the names and numbers of senators opposing gun control. I will be spending tomorrow calling every one.

    I am visiting my nephew and his wife who just had a baby in San Francisco next weekend and will bring them a couple of meals and I know how you feel that you can’t be there. I also know there are so many apps, food delivery services, etc., that you could send them a meal or really any services. Housecleaning, food delivery, diaper service, dog walking, you name it. My son has lived in SF for 3 years. He got a bad flu and I was able to send him some chicken noodle soup.

  5. I feel for your country, I really do. What a tragic experience for so many people. It infuriates me to see so much discussion around the NEED for guns when things like this happens. I haven’t heard of one mass shooting when a regular citizen stopped a shooting with his/her gun. Perhaps I’m naive but I’d like to think we live in a world with no need to assault rifles. Much love from this gun-opressed-Aussie. x

  6. I am going to participate in sending emails out to Senators. Thank you for that. I’m very upset and frustrated and feel something needed to be done a long time ago with gun control. I worry about our children and I feel that they are getting accustomed to this kind of tragedy. On a lighter note, I’m super excited to learn about the updates in France. I wish you all the best there. I am missing my cousins. That kind of get together sounds really good right about now.

  7. I agree with tightening gun laws, but this guy was a terrorist! He vowed allegiance to ISIS……..a terrorist group that beheads people, throws gays off buildings and countless other horrific murders. I don’t think stricter gun laws would have stopped this murderer.

    1. Hello Julie,
      I respectfully disagree with you. because there are other people who have allegiance to ISIS (or other groups pro-hate and pro-violence) who do not have access to guns. So when they attack with their bare hands or a knife, they hurt 1 or 3 people. They do not kill 50 and hurt 53…. That’s the difference between violent people with access to guns and no access to guns. There are terrosrist and hate groups all over the world who would like to do damage to many people… the fact that they do not have such an easy access to guns do make a difference….
      Besides there are lots of mass shootings in the US that are not related to ISIS…

      1. Isis supporters also use suicide bombs…..which have killed mass amounts of people (in turkey, one suicide bomber killed 31, injured 100). And they do get their hands on guns in countries with heavy gun regulations (the Paris attacks).
        I agree with tightening our gun laws…..we must keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. Criminals get them off the black market, not through legal means. I agree that assault weapons should be addressed. But we also need to recognize that gun laws will not necessarily keep criminals or terrorists from getting them.

    2. “I don’t think stricter gun laws would have stopped this murderer.”

      Actually, that’s wrong. Have you had a chance to read about him and how he acquired his guns? Stricter guns laws and thorough background checks would definitely have prevented him from buying the weapons he used.

      1. I have read about him. Have you? He aligned himself with a terrorist group. My point is that someone with his ideology will find one way or another to carry out their murderous rampage. It is not solely a gun issue.

        1. Yes, I’ve read about him as well. I agree that it’s “not solely a gun issue”. I think everyone would agree with that. He targeted a gay club, so it’s also a hate crime issue against the gay community. He targeted Latin Night at the club, so it’s also a hate crime issue against the Latino community. He was extremist in his views, so it’s also an ISIS issue.

          I don’t know how long he held anti-gay, anti-Latino, pro-ISIS views, but I do know he didn’t kill anyone until shortly after he bought guns. If he hadn’t been able to easily buy guns, he wouldn’t have killed 50 people on Sunday morning.

          You say, “that someone with his ideology will find one way or another to carry out their murderous rampage”, but I don’t think that’s true at all, and I have never seen any data to back up such a claim. It seems like a big leap to make.

          1. Gabrielle et all,
            I don’t even respectfully disagree anymore! Turning another blind eye to the fact that in 2015 we had a “mass murder” every! every! day of the year in this country is absurd. The only, thing these events have in common is GUNS! I was in Orlando, this weekend in my son’s home, less than a mile from where this atrocity against the LGBT community (not an Isis supported terrorist attack) took place. I drove home Sunday night sick to my stomach. I drove into my quiet Miami cul de sac and was met by trees bearing blue ribbons. The ribbons are a symbol of Peace and are in honor of our neighbor. A lovely, kind man who was killed a year ago by a mentally ill neighbor who had a gun. Pepe was murdered in front of his wife, while walking his dog in our quiet neighborhood. The idea of gun violence is not theoretical to Pepe’s wife and children nor to my family or the other families who live here. We see his home, his wife, his children and the spot he lay bleeding and dying every single day. So spare me the nonsense! The “if we outlaw guns only the criminals will have guns” or “people kill, not guns” or the statement by the Governor of the State of Florida Rick Scott whose only advice, and solution after this mayhem was “I think the biggest thing is pray …. Pray this never happens again” As a country have we lost our minds?????
            I apologize Gabrielle for the tone here but I am beside myself with utter disbelief at the head in the sand, bullheaded childishness of comments such as those by “Julie”

  8. I’m grateful to have you feeling the same feelings I am, and speaking them so eloquently.

    Hope your birthday is joyous!

  9. Dearest Gabrielle,
    May you have the happiest of birthdays!
    One of my sweetest childhood memories are those spent only my mom and I… going for an ice-cream date, going to a museum, watch a ballet , reading together, writing a book together, cooking, going to a restaurant. Please do try to make her week special!
    Thank you for the list of senators, I have written to them and just forwarded it to all my friends. Have you watched under the gun of Katie Couric? It shows that must gun owners, even those who are members of NRA are pro gun control. But some NRA leadership think otherwise (and they represent something like 5% of NRA gun oowners). I think we should do something about that. Get the NRA members pro gun control to speak out and say out loud they disagree with the NRA lobbies who do not allow gun control to be done more seriously… Why is it that such a small percentage of this institution who clearly does not represent the will of the majority of the institution and even less of other Americans have been dictating the laws in the entire country?

    And think about the madness of it all: this small percentage of people are afraid of loosing control of owning guns (which is quite different from gun control) . So, under that excuse (which by the way is not under question – the right to own guns is assured, don’t sweat about it), they inforce irresponisble laws or block responsible laws and by these actions, they put everyone at risk of the “random crazy guns owner”, the ” random terrorist” who had easy access to guns and feels entitled to stae his/her point by killing/hurting people. And how many “random” people like this have we’ve seen lately? We are letting this small percentage of people (who again do not represent society’s point of view) to decide wrongly for the rest of the country. It’s insane!

  10. This is perhaps too personal a question, but I will pose it nonetheless. Feel free to ignore if you like! ;) One thing I would love to hear from an articulate, educated blogger like yourself is how you (or someone like you!) reconcile certain religious beliefs/doctrine/mandates with support, compassion, and advocacy for the LGBTQ community. I so admire your perspective and outspoken stance on this point, and I would love to be able to share your “approach” with religious people I know who do not reconcile doctrine and support/compassion in the same way.

    I work in development in a peaceful, tolerant primarily Muslim country in Africa. Sadly, the majority of people here are openly homophobic, though not at all violent. I am not particularly religious, so I’ve always wished I could share a more religious person’s approach to LGBTQ advocacy and support. And I think this approach/viewpoint might be enlightening for quite a lot of Americans as well.

    As always, thanks for broaching these topics on your blog! It keeps me coming back time and time again.

  11. I live in Germany and the Netherlands and am so sad for your country, which I once loved and spent many vacations. Now when people here are asked to name 5 things that are typical Amercian, gun violence is among most peoples answers.

    I am so frightened that your next president will be Mr Trump. He is racist, sexist and violent in his words. I fear he would cause a lot of evil and sadness to the world.

    I pray for America to change their gun laws. In my two home countries things like this happen maybe once every four years. In your country it seems to happen every week. It upsets me and we have cancelled our trip to the USA due to this.

    1. Dear Isabell,
      I have wondered when gun violence is going to become a ‘Standort’ disadvantage, and start impacting investment and tourism in the USA. You are the first I have heard, but I am sure not the only.
      It is ‘interesting’ (in a bad way) to see how Americans are becoming used to random massacres, and are able to rationalize gun violence as inevitable and unchangeable.

  12. Thank you for the link to senators-I sent it to my family in the appropriate states for them to call their representatives. More and more these days I think of leaving the US. I have had many friends leave the US for various reasons and when they have the option to come back they decide to stay where they are because of the violence and strife in America. sigh…

  13. Hi Gabi,

    I don’t often comment but I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and not shying away from this difficult topic (the massacre in Orlando & the need for stricter gun control in our country). You’re someone I regularly read because I’m always drawn in by your frank and genuine approach to so many different topics. Thank you.



    1. Seconding Sandra’s words above. I have enormous respect for the space you create here for civil discussions, and I always know I’ll learn something when I come to your blog. Happy birthday! May it be full of joy and rainbows and mani/pedis with June! (Maybe a rainbow pedicure, even!)

  14. June b-days are the best. :)

    I don’t live near family but when my brother became a hospice patient with brain cancer I had a timely layoff from my job and during the transition time I went to Florida for 2 months and helped take care of him and their family (3 young kids). I would have gone nuts if I hadn’t been able to help them out.

    Enjoy your June week!

  15. The timing of this post is so perfect! My older kids and husband will be out of town in two weeks (to deliver the kids to grandparents for a whole month!) and it will be just me and my three year old daughter at home! I am actually looking forward to it too! Our plans are very similar to yours, including a very sought after trip to the movie theatre!

  16. HAPPA BIRTHDAY Gabrielle. I cherish you for your courage and openness to subjects that go beyond household, crafting and beauty. Being a Mom is also about being a good role model and helping to shape a society in which children can have a good future. I see that you are setting a great example to your children and you are speaking your mind in good words.

    Like Isabell I am in Germany (therefore my english is a bit flawed!) and the image of American society has suffered badly in the last years. Of course there are bad people everywhere, in every country. We here in Germany know what can happen when bad people become powerful. The shadow of Nazi Germany is always there and again there are Germans that are racist and violent. But our country luckily tries to stop them from hurting others. I have the feeling in America bad people are encouraged to to evil things. Your gun laws makes it easy for them. Words spoken by Trump or Tea Party politicians applaude bad peoples actions!

    Here there are very strict gun laws and in my lifetime (I am 32) there have been three shootings in a school and very few in other public places. Awful enough. We will never have a world without awful acts of terror by organisations or single offenders, but we can make thins more difficult for offenders.

    I also would love to visit the USA again, we considered a vacation to the West coast to see friends in Seattle, but after a shooting in their area last year we do not feel safe traveling there with two small kids, so instead we are heading for Canada/Vancouver in July and will meet our friends there.


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