Courts and kokanee…

I recently spent several hours in a courthouse observing Family Law cases being ruled upon. You might call it research for my current novel.

Relationships fall apart and divorces, especially the contested ones, are emotionally, physically, and financially draining. What I found interesting to observe was the dynamics between the couples who were all visibly male and female couples or at least appeared so in the cases of ones joining by webex. What struck me about the cases being heard was the volume of men present to fight for more time with their children, and in one case, to have his name listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father.

Men have virtually no rights to their unborn children, and there remains a heavy bias when it comes to custody—80% in favor of the mother vs 7% to the father. Shocking statistics when one considers what’s at stake is the best interests of the child. All men are not violent and abusive and all women aren’t nurturing care-givers. I was pleased to see that in one case, custody remained with the father and support payments made to the mother were ruled to be returned to him, and he was to receive child support going forward.

The judge was compassionate but not swayed by drama and unsubstantiated allegations. Like a captain steering a vessel, she gently guided each conversation back to the law being applied and then made decisive rulings.

I was encouraged by her decisions and left with the feeling that perhaps men will be heard and maybe given time, be considered more than just wallets when it comes to family.

The image above is one of kokanee spawning. In their life cycle, after 3-4 years have passed, the fish turn bright red and travel upstream, the females to lay eggs and the males to fertilize those eggs. It isn’t peaceful. The males fight for dominance and the females fight to keep their nests, called redds, safe. They linger and die there. The males too.

Not that different, humans and animals.

Remembering 9/11…

Recently I was asked to describe some defining moments from my life. (Before you read on I’m curious if, when you think back, your defining moments are happy, sad, frightening or?)

For me I found that happy moments were not what came to mind.

Although the year changes, I never forget this date. September 11, 2001 reinforced the idea that things can change in an instant.

I was standing in line at a coffee shop waiting to pick up some bagels to take to a friend who was ill, when images began to fill the screen of the wall mounted tv. The sound was off and I thought, like those around me, that a movie was being shown.

The chatter from other patrons soon died and we watched in horror as footage of planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York played out on the screen.

My phone immediately began ringing and the next few hours were consumed with phone calls, primarily from team members of the Search and Rescue team I belonged to.

At the time I was living in Florida and handling a bloodhound, a scent specific dog utilized when we needed to find one particular person, but the events of 9/11 called for the usage of dogs trained to search for anything living in collapsed structures.

Several of our team members who trained such dogs were deployed to New York with FEMA Task Force II to be a part of the search.

A defining moment as vivid today as it was twenty-one years ago. That day brought home awareness that the world can change in an instant. Many lives were lost in the attacks and more through the years as a result of the attacks. That day changed me in ways I’m only beginning to understand.

My bloodhound has been gone for many years, the hound in the image above was one that I had the good fortune to photograph one cold winter morning.