It is a tragedy that we know more about Robin Williams’ death than Michael Brown’s death.

Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014.  He was a beloved actor and comedian.  The news was even more tragic because he apparently committed suicide and had a history of mental illness.  Depression is a terrible terrible disease.  What people show on the outside is not always how they present themselves, and depression kills.

Michael Brown died on August 9, 2014.  He was an 18 year old black man in Ferguson Missouri who was shot by a police officer.  He was unarmed. And according to several witnesses to the event he was holding his hands above his head in a gesture of surrender when he was killed.

We have heard intimate details of Robin Williams’ death.  We now know all about his marriage, his illness, his medical information, his assistant, and many other things.  Things that in my opinion should be private.

The Williams family is mourning the loss of a loved one.  Shouldn’t we grant them the right to mourn their loved one in private?  Shouldn’t we give Robin Williams some dignity.  All over Facebook I see tributes to Robin Williams.  Even Blizzard and World of Warcraft has gotten into the mix.  Apparently Robin was a player and there was a petition signed by over 11,000 gamers to have an NPC (Non Player Character) put into the game to remember him.  Now just to be clear I am an avid World of Warcraft player. However, I did not sign the petition.  Something about it just didn’t seem right to me.

In fact, I was unaware of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri until I read about it on Facebook on a post by The Bloggess talking about another unarmed black man shot by police.  So many of the comments were awful!  Racism is alive and well in this country, I am sad to say.

However, in sharp contrast to the abundant information about Robin Williams’ death, we have almost NO information about Michael Brown’s death.  We don’t even know the name of the Police Officer involved because the Chief of Police feels it will endanger him and his family to say his name.  We have been told this young man “reached for the officers’ gun.  Which is contrary to what the other man with him has stated.  An eye witness to the shooting who arrived on the scene after it began said she saw the Officer shoot Michael in the back, and then shoot him again at least two more times after he had his hands in the air.

I am a mother.  I have two sons. I am white.  I have a stark awareness of the fact that I don’t have to teach my sons about how to “not talk back to police”, and I don’t have to worry every time they go out with friends if they will survive the night. I do worry when my oldest goes out, but only because he is now at an age where he is driving and he is in the car with teen drivers.  That worries me. But it is NOT the same as worrying about whether your son will be killed simply because he is black or brown.

I am acutely aware of the fact that my sons can walk around our neighborhood at night with a group of friends and NOT worry about being hassled.  According to an article I read, a black man is killed by a police officer every 28 hours in America.  That is a startling number.  You can find the article and read it yourself. 

Why is it that a celebrities death is more important than an unarmed young man? Why do we know more about Robin Williams’ death than Michael Brown’s death?

Even in my local area of Virginia if you go to the Local TV station Wavy 10.  The top story in National news is Robin Williams wife saying he had Parkinson’s disease.  Below that is a story about President Obama talking about the Ferguson situation, and then some photos of the protests in Ferguson.  Can’t you do better than that Wavy??

WVEC channel 13 online is not doing any better.

By all accounts Michael Brown was a gentle young man who was leaving for college in a few days,  He was walking with his friend to visit his grandmother.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

His death was senseless.

His death was brutal.

His death was needless.

His death was tragic.

Tonight my son The Genius and I will be attending a National Moment of Silence at Old Dominion University to honor those killed by police and to honor those victims of police brutality.  #NMOS14  Look for a vigil in a city near you!

We need to make changes here in America.  The killing of unarmed black men needs to stop.  Police brutality needs to stop. The Police should not so militarized.  This is the Unites States of America.  What has our country come to?

Please consider attending a NMOS14 even in a city near you.Let’s stand together against police brutality and racism!  Will you join me?

Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour 2014 in Virginia Beach….Oh what an amazing night!!!

Karol and I have seen Keith Urban perform 4 times.  Our very first date was to a Keith Urban concert.  We would ride around in my car with the sun roof open singing Keith Urban songs together even before we were a couple.  “Our” song was Love Somebody Like You by Keith Urban.  So I suppose you could say he is part of the bedrock of our relationship. In fact, Karol introduced me to Keith Urban music when we started hanging out in 2003.  I was not much of a country music fan.  I have always been more into Alternative music like The Cranberries, Collective Soul, Green Day, Pearl Jam, among others. So although he had been playing for years, I didn’t “meet” him until 2003.

As I said, our first “date” was his concert in Virginia Beach in 2004.  It wasn’t really a “date” per se. We were just exploring our feelings, and were very tentative and shy, but that concert really set things in motion, so I thank Keith for the 10 years I have shared with this beautiful creature.  But I digress……back to Keith.

He had not been back to Virginia Beach since 2004.  He did come back to the Hampton Roads area in 2011, and played at The Hampton Coliseum. That was an amazing show. He had multiple stages, some way out in the audience so we could all get a good glimpse and he gave away a guitar to a little girl when he went up to the “nosebleed” seats and played up there.  He is amazing!  I have only seen two other music Stars come out into the audience like that: Michael Franti and Patrick Monahan (front man for Train). (we go to lots of concerts…they are our “thing”).

So when she heard that Keith was coming back to Virginia Beach for his Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach , she wanted tickets!  I was happy to oblige.  I joined Keith’s fan group The ‘Ville in order to get a code for Presale tickets.  I was sitting at the computer as soon as the tickets went on sale, and bought them 10 minutes prior to the Presale even beginning. (A perk for paying to join The ‘Ville).  I was so excited to get tickets to the Orchestra section seat 46 and 47.  I told Karol and she was stoked.

As the date for the concert got closer, I reexamined our tickets and realized the tickets I had purchased were not for seats, but General Admission in the Pit, and we would be standing with lots and lots of other sweaty people who would be drinking, possibly heavily.  This did not make me happy.  So I talked with Karol and she said she did not want to be in the Pit either, so I began a frantic ticket selling and buying extravaganza.

I went to Craigslist to sell and (hopefully) purchase new tickets without breaking the bank.  I had an excellent previous experience purchasing tickets to see Imagine Dragons, (one of the top 3 shows I have EVER been to by the way). So I listed my tickets  and received quite a few emails and texts within 10 minutes.  In fairness I responded to the first person to ask for the tickets.  We corresponded via text message and he said he would meet me in Virginia Beach at my office to exchange the tickets for cash.  Then after we made the arrangements I never heard back from him, so I went to the next person on the list.  She panned out and was very excited to get her tickets.  Interestingly she had purchased seats already, but her mother wanted to be closer, so she was looking for tickets in the Pit.

During this time I was looking for tickets of my own.  Even thought “by the rules” people are not supposed to sell tickets for more than face value, I saw tickets selling for 200.00 each on Craigslist.  I knew that was scalping….to be honest it pissed me off.  I did not even respond to those people.  Then I found a “real” deal.  A man was selling two tickets with VIP passes and preferred parking for what seemed like a fair price.  Probably true face value including the exorbitant fees added by Ticket Master and Live Nation. So I contacted him, and although he was from Richmond, he was getting ready to vacation in Williamsburg, (45 minutes from my house) and we agreed to meet there.  I drove up and purchased the tickets. He was happy to sell them and I was super happy to get them.

The seats were amazing, and we were so happy to have the preferred parking and VIP lounge tickets.  So off we went to the concert.  This is how close we were to the stage:

Row C seat 1 and 2.  AWESOME!!

Row C seat 1 and 2. AWESOME!!

We were READY for the Keith Urban Raise ‘Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach!

Karol and I are ready for Keith!

Karol and I are ready for Keith!

I took LOTS of photos during the concert.  I only took one video, honestly because the Farm Bureau Staff kept telling people not t video and we were right on the aisle by at least three staff members keeping people from coming down by us or sneaking into the pit area.

Keith Urban Raise 'Em Up Tour in Virginia Beach

Of course I took pictures close up as well.  To be honest I usually rely on the big screens on each side of the stage to see him well, but this time I had to crane my neck to even see those.  We were so close I could see his face from my seat.  CLEARLY!! It was amazing!

KU3

KU14

KU13

I was really surprised that the Pit area was NOT jam packed, and people were behaving themselves.  It made me regret not staying in there JUST a bit.

KU8At one point he brought a young lady from Virginia Beach onstage with him to sing “We Were Us” which is a duet with Miranda Lambert.  She was awesome and Keith was so sweet to her.  She also brought her boyfriend onstage and he played guitar.  What an amazing night for them.  You can find Sammi Rae Seachrist here. She did an amazing job.  Can you imagine being in front of tens of thousands of people and singing with Keith Urban?  I am sure she was nervous as all get out, but her nerves didn’t really show.  She was awesome!!


Keith really interacted with the crowd.  He signed a guitar from someone in the Pit, he walked back to the grass area where he had a stage set up and performed in the crowd, he brought a cute little girl wearing a pink cowboy hat and matching boots up on stage with him.  All in all it was a magical night.

One of the most amazing parts of the whole night in my opinion came AFTER he was finished singing.  I have been to probably over 40 concerts in my day.  I have seen Elton John, Billy Joel, Genesis, Tom Petty (3 times), Fleetwood Mac, and I have NEVER seen the band or artist do what Keith did after the show.

He didn’t leave the stage right away.  He stayed on the stage for at least 10 minutes.  Shaking hands and signing autographs, taking pictures, and just being his charming, polite self.

KU16

KU17

KU15

It was awesome, and amazing, and then I did truly regret selling my tickets.  Oh well, there is always next time.

Right Karol?

Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers

My garden as been growing like crazy this summer.  I am not sure if my thumb got greener over the winter, or I have just learned enough about gardening to be more successful, or it is just magic. I did do some things differently this year: I made the garden bigger, I paid more attention to the last frost and planted 4 weeks after the last one, I used organic compost, and Karol built me a garden “box” complete with chicken wire to keep out critters.

And by critters I mean my dog Bailey. He had this bad habit of running through the garden and breaking plants and herbs, so this year Karol was innovative and the plants are Bailey proofed.

Bailey

Bailey

So the garden has been flourishing and I have been up to my ears in tomatoes and peppers in particular.  I wanted to find a way to use these veggies in a different and new recipe and I also had some potatoes in the pantry on the verge of getting soft that I wanted to incorporate into the dish, so I went and talked to my friend Google to see what I could find.

And I scored!  Google always has great ideas.  We have become very good friends over the years. I found a very interesting recipe using potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.  Sold!  It was called Moroccan chicken with peppers and tomatoes.  A usual, I looked it over, and modified it some to make it my own, and this is the result:

moroccan chicken

Moroccan Chicken with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes

4 boneless chicken breasts
3-4 baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 large fresh tomatoes, diced (or 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes)
3-5 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2-1 bell pepper, diced (use whatever color you choose)
1/4 cup olive oil
parsley (1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbs. dried)
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp cumin
a few pinches of saffron, if you’ve got it
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, parsley, paprika, saffron, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes (until chicken is thoroughly cooked and just beginning to shred when handled much), stirring occasionally.

Add water as necessary to keep mixture wet and saucy (this really depends on your idea of “saucy”.  Add enough to keep it as saucy as you want it.) Add potatoes, and carrots cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are completely cooked. (I like my carrots a little crunchy, so I added them a bit after the potatoes).

If you want to eat in authentic Moroccan style, dish onto a large plate and serve with lots of bread (something crusty like French works well). The bread is a great way to sop up the sauce, and it is delicious so you want every drop.

**The original recipe also called for peas, which would have added a nice burst of color and flavor, but I felt there was enough starch with the potatoes, so I omitted them.

** You could serve this over rice or pasta to soak up some of the sauce, but I did not as I didn’t want to add more carbs.

So there you have it,  Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers. It was a hearty and delicious meal.  Even the kids liked it and have asked for me to make it again.  That my friends is high praise!!!