Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Found a star on my birthday!

Sometimes you have to look very hard to find the bright spots in life but on Monday in Raleigh, I didn’t have to look – the bright spots came to me. 

I was arrested at the Legislative Building on Monday night although I was not part of the official protest. I went to hold my own little protest because I feel very strongly that the protesters' Civil Rights are being violated. They have a Constitutional right to take their complaints to the capital, to express their opinions and to be inside the Legislative Building – it is a public building and they are members of the public. I read the building rules and can’t find any that are being violated. 

After they are arrested, they are told that they can't enter the building until after their court date although they are charged only with misdemeanors and have not been found guilty in a court of law.

Monday was my birthday so I chose to share it by handing out cupcakes, watch the protest, and witness the arrests. When the announcement was made to vacate the area in the Legislative Building, the protesters were in front of the Senate Chamber. I went to the opposite side of the rotunda and stood by the doors to the House Chamber.

All but the protesters left the area except for me who stood silently and quietly leaning against the wall. The police officers were courteous and polite but repeatedly said I should leave my vigil post or I would be arrested. After the protesters were handcuffed and led away, I was the only remaining person. And I was arrested.

That’s the nutshell version of what happened but it wouldn’t be complete without adding that legislators who occupied the first couple of offices passed when first entering the building, stood at their doors to welcome those who came in to voice their objections to the travesties that are taking place in the General Assembly. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch their names but I would like to tell them how much that impressed me.

But the biggest brightest star appeared a few hours later when I was released from jail and met outside by a small black woman who introduced herself as Sen. Earline Parmon who was there to support those who were arrested for speaking up and stepping out.

I was really taken off guard at that moment, not expecting a legislator to take the trouble of not only supporting the protesters but taking the time to meet them face to face as a way of saying “we are all in this together.”

Having missed dinner, I caught a ride to the church where they were feeding protesters and where I was to meet Beth Storie who participated in the protest and was arrested that night, Linda Willey who was booked a couple of weeks before, and Lovey Selby who was there to offer moral support and film the event.

I was eating my dinner when Sen. Parmon walked in the door and began going table to table to make sure that she hadn’t missed anyone at the Detention Center.

Her bio on the legislative website says she served five terms in the House and one term in the Senate. She is from Winston-Salem and noted as being retired but my guess is that just means she doesn’t get lots of money for her hard work.

It would be incorrect to describe her as a rising star because it is obvious that she is already casting her bright light wherever she can.

So on my birthday, I had a birthday bash with about 3,000 in attendance, exercised my Civil Rights, got a free glamour portrait, aka mug shot, and found a new hero.

Thank YOU, Sen. Parmon for demonstrating true humility and class.

Post Script: I was found not guilty because it was a public building and I had a right to be there.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Almost here - my 'use it or lose it' birthday...

Tomorrow is the big day, happy birthday to me!

I can't wait to hand out my birthday cupcakes in the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

Some have told me that they think that this is a strange way to celebrate arriving at the big 66 but I think it is the only reasonable manner in which to honor those who have come before and after me. That's really what birthdays should be about.

My 17-year-old grandson, Justin Varner, has long had a desire to serve his county by joining the military so he can help to protect our freedoms. He has chosen the Army and will enter boot camp 11 months from now. He used early enlistment to get the MOS he wants - medic. I don't think he knows that when his great-grandmother joined the Women's Army Corps during World War II, that also was her first MOS. So he is carrying on family traditions of both protecting our freedoms and helping others.

I obviously can't join him in enlistment but if he is willing to give up college so that he can help defend our freedoms, then I have a responsibility to exercise them.

And that is what I will be doing tomorrow at the Legislative Building. I will share my birthday while I support the protesters' right to be in that building and to demonstrate their frustration with the actions of the General Assembly. I have read the rules governing the building and I see nothing that suggests that the protesters have violated any of them. It is a public building, they are the public and have a right to be inside until the General Assembly adjourns in the evening.

Those who are arrested are told that they have to promise not to enter the building again until after their court dates. How can someone be held under arrest for not agreeing to impose a restraining order on themselves? And how is it possible that anyone is asked to give up their Civil Rights when they have not been found guilty of anything?

While I'm in the Legislative Building, I'm going to see if I can get some answers to those questions and, if so, will share them with you on  a future blog.

A doctor recently told me to exercise more - "If you don't use it, you lose it," he said. I think that applies to our Civil Liberties so I'm going to exercise mine on a more regular basis starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Need help with birthday bash!

I'm getting very excited about my birthday bash in the legislative building in Raleigh on Monday, July 8.

For months many members of the General Assembly have repeatedly sent me an implied invitation to share my birthday cake, but, an actual cake would be too difficult to deal with so I'm resorting to cupcakes. Anyone who is looking for a birthday present for me might just want to bake a dozen or so small cupcakes to add to those I'm taking to Raleigh. Please remove the paper cup because it is illegal to litter inside the building, and I certainly wouldn't want to break the law after being so graciously invited.

As they cut education, refused Medicade coverage for 300,000, continue to try to toll the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry, push to allow chemicals in our aquifers, propose closing the state's three drug and alcohol treatment hospitals, and a long list of other things, their response to opposition has been "let them eat cake!" Now, how great is that? They have been inviting me to share my birthday cake! What a state!

If you aren't into baking, it wouldn't be a birthday party without games so I think trivia and knock-knock games would work best. I've come up with a few but need more. I can remember just so much, so I'll write them on my apron to remind me. If you can think of some, please send them to me via the comment link on this blog or email them to

Here's a couple of examples of what I think would be fun and make my birthday guests smile..

1. How do you turn an elephant into a jackass?
    Just give him a seat in the General Assembly!

2. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    The Pope.
    The Pope who?
    The Pope who bought North Carolina!

What is happening in State government is not a laughing matter but I hope all will forgive me needing a little fun on my birthday. The rest of the world is laughing at the absurdity of what our elected officials are doing so perhaps we can use a little levity to make a point and express our outrage.