Saturday, February 25, 2017

The biggest question...

Who speaks for me?
Obviously not the president of the United States.  He thwarts the first amendment by denying public media access to information.  He thwarts decency by calling that same media the biggest enemy of the people.  He surrounds himself with people who obviously live in an alternate reality, averring "alternate facts" and "fake news" when they can't explain their lies. 
Obviously not our senate contingent, who voted to seat a Secretary of Education who has no experience in or knowledge of public education, citing the battle cry of "local control" as their reasoning...never explaining how Secretary DeVos or her privatization of education would enhance local control.  Instead, their lock-step support of a partisan vote totally ignored and discredited the thoughts of the educators in the state who vehemently opposed this nomination.  And don't get me started on economic support of their campaigns!  Really?  You didn't know, Senator Rounds, where $47,000 of campaign support funding came from?  That's frightening!
It's time! The answer to the original question is...I!  Complacency is no longer an option. It's time to speak decry the usurpation of my constitutional rights.  To question just exactly who our "representatives" represent.  There are those of you who will take exception to this post.  Good!  There are those of you who might consider things from a different perspective.  Better!  And the answer is not only I.  We ALL need to speak for us, before we no longer have the right!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stand up!

When the flag passes, I stand and salute.  I respect the emblem of our republic.  When a state or nationally elected presiding officer enters the room, I stand out of respect for the office.  I always have.  But what happens when you have no respect for the officer?  What happens when a man, selected by a minority of those voting, tramples on the constitution and/or the principles I espouse?  Then I stand for my country.

The question?  What can Mr. Trump accomplish in his first 100 days?  With a flourish of his pen, he can attempt to completely altar the constitution of the United States.  Executive order Trumps rights.  With cronyism at its worst, he can put in place a cabinet that has little or no regard for what it takes to make a living for the majority of the country.  Power Trumps rights.  With inflammatory rhetoric and a smirk to match, he obfuscates the truth with “alternative facts”.  Bold faced lying Trumps rights.
By nature, I have a tendency to be a-political.  I’m not a party person.  I’m an issues person.  I take issue with this president.  As you trample on the right to free expression, I take issue.  As you profile people based on ancestry, I take issue.  As you destroy faith in a fair republic, I take issue.  As you inflame peoples across the globe, I take issue. 
To the elected representatives who are allowing this to happen, I ask you to stand. Stand up for the constitution.  Stand to protect those of us who do not suffer the problem of privilege.  Stand to withhold confirmation of cabinet members not suited for the job.  Stand for decisions based on facts, not “alternative reality”.  I ask you to be the check on unbridled power and corresponding ego.  I ask you to provide the balance that must exist for our nation to survive.  We cannot, we MUST NOT wait 100 days.  If the choice is to “stand by”, none of us will be left standing!   

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's all about me

For the three people in the world who don't know, today is my birthday.  67.  It will be a good year.  They all have been.  Every one.  I'm sure there have been some episodes in that era that may have provided ammunition to dispel that belief, but hey, I'm old.  Why choose to remember those?  Instead, I will dwell on the most positive thing I can.  Today.

Episode 1
It started early.  Since I was born at 4:00 am, I got up at 4:00 am.  After all, I had this post to do on Facebook.  And while I was sitting at the computer, I realized the beast had pretty much covered a 360 square mile area of the basement floor with dry food, so as the coffee dripped, I swept.  Then it was coffee and one of the most exciting gifts of the day--the Dakota Style salt and vinegar potato chips my lovely bride had found.  If you are amongst the uninformed (as I was until I asked), they no longer are making those.  This was a "vintage" bag we had somehow managed to ferret away (maybe one, maybe two) years ago.  The thrill of unsealing the bag--the aroma--the first touch of the piquant vinegar to the tongue--the after effect of salt on the lips--the chorus of angels singing in the background--all was right with the world.
Now, with a fresh coffee fix coursing through my veins on its way to assuage my one true addiction, I have printed the puzzles and will accede to my throne--the recliner in the front porch--to test my mental acuity, to solve the problems of the world, and to prepare to deliver the PACH totes this morning.  As the day progresses, I shall return to update you.  Try to control your enthusiasm.

Episode 2
The totes are delivered, there are fewer chips, and breakfast has been consumed.  What was for breakfast, you ask (I heard you, you asked!)?  What does everyone have for breakfast on his birthday?  Baked creamed pheasant and grilled sour dough bread!  The pheasant was provided by Bradley--one of our children with whom we are well pleased!  The sour dough was mine!  Even in retirement, our former students amaze and sustain us!  Fortified, it's onward and upward--go pick up the birthday cake!

Episode 3
Running of the beast.  Cath had book club at Our Redeemer, so the beast and I delivered her.  Never one to fail to opportunize (I'm old, I can make up words!), I took the flinger and the ball with us on the trip.  Big parking lot.  No cars.  Beast friendly.  Get out of the car.  Toss the ball.  Walk the length of the parking lot to toss from the other side.  For those of you who have never experienced the parking lot at Our Redeemer, it makes Chicago wind seem like a gentle zephyr.  And cold?  Sweet Mary, the word bitter does not begin to describe.  After what I considered the absolute minimum beast fetches (and the maximum cheek freezing!), we bundle back into the car and head home, awaiting the call to pick up my bride and go to Dempsey's for lunch.  Okay.  Go to Dempsey's for fries!  And probably an adult libation.  Have I mentioned it's my birthday?

Episode 4
The fries.  The amazing thing about Dempsey's is the menu rarely changes but the food does.  Sometimes, the chicken strips are beer battered.  Some times they aren't.  Aren't today.  Usually, the fries are coated in a beer batter and deep fried.  Pretty much regular fries today.  That is NOT a complaint.  Regular fries are still fries, and I managed to eat all mine and 99.5% of Cath's.  I do believe I'm attempting to set a record for salt intake in one day!  Anyhow, we came home to prepare for bridge tonight.  Believe it or not, there are no fries on the menu.  Chips.  Lots of chips.  And a new cheese dip that is baked in a loaf of Italian bread.  And curried chicken salad.  And home-built buns.  And to keep it healthy, there are the vegies (to dip into the cheese dip)!  We may even play bridge!

Episode 5
The afternoon passes, and it's time to heat up the oven for the dip, get the ice bucket out, and generally start putting it all together.  Oven set to 375.  Sit in the porch until it is pre-heated.  Buzzer announces process has completed.  Somewhat put off by the aroma coming from the oven.  Whoever baked something last must have let it run over.  Hmmmmm.  Come to the kitchen.  Can't see the back porch.  Smoke and questionable aromas greet me.  Turn on the fans.  Open the doors.  Pray.  Our guests probably didn't know we believed in burnt offerings.  Thankfully it's still an hour until they get here.  By then, we should be set.  Cold, but set!

Episode 6
Bridge.  What can I say?  The food was good, the company was better, and the cards?  Well, let's just say the food was good and the company was better.  I may have whined a little.  A lot!  But what an amazing group of ladies with whom to share my natal day.  And we were done by 9:00.  That's only 2 hours past my nap time.  Not bad.

As per our usual, everything is put away, the dishes are done, the left-overs stored, the house in its pre-company form.  Years and years and years ago we made a pact never to go to bed with the onus of a dirty house greeting us on rising.  And now, as my eye lids sag (along with a phenomenally full stomach) it's time to reflect on the day.  Started early.  Stayed busy.  Ran long.  And you would have to sand blast the smile off my face.  I am overwhelmed with the greetings on Facebook.  I am overwhelmed by the kindnesses extended.  I am overwhelmed by how bad my cards were (who says I have to quit whining?).  I shall sleep tonight with the knowledge that I am decidedly the luckiest man in the world.  I am full.  I feel loved.  After all, it's all about me!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The promised recipe

Home built sourdough bread:

In an eight-cup bowl, combine
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Stir to combine
Add 1 5/8 cup tepid water (1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs.)
Stir to combine.  Cover with sprayed saran wrap and let rise in a warm place for 12 to 14 hours!
Remove to a floured surface and knead slightly.
Clean original bowl, spray with a vegetable spray, and return dough to bowl.  Cover and let rise for another 3 hours.
When ready to bake:
Place heavy covered casserole (or heavy enamel pot with lid) in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Carefully remove pot, uncover, and spray with vegetable spray.  Roll the dough from its bowl into heated pot.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 30 minutes.  When done, tip onto cooling rack and allow to cool as long as you can stand it!
This truly is a bread ANYONE can make.  Start it right after supper.  You will have amazing bread for lunch the next day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In my opinion...

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 
                                                                                                           Edmund Burke

Dear Mr. President elect,
I just finished reading the farewell speech delivered by President Obama.  Quite literally with tears in my eyes, I was reassured that my opinion of and support for him were both justified.  The use of language to inspire, not denigrate; the use of a call to unify, not isolate; the re-clarification of our democratic principles; the call to come together; the call to action; all resonated within my soul.  The peaceful transition of power is necessary for our republic to survive.  Therefore, Mr. President elect, I pledge to you my support for proposals you put forward to advance our nation—to uplift those in poverty—to add equality both in rights and the ability to make a living—to keep us in good standing in the international community.  I do not, will not support any effort to undermine the true bastion of democracy—our public education system.  I do not, will not support any effort to impose social values that belong in the purview of the individual.  I do not, will not, cannot support a new form of “bully platform” in which the advancement of one person or group occurs by diminishing those who disagree.
Mr. President elect, you have an amazing challenge in front of you.  I wish for you the intelligence to know that there are two sides of every issue, the grace to occasionally recognize you may be wrong, and the wisdom to surround yourself with people willing to disagree with you—for only then can advancement take place, and only then will we survive as a nation.  With all my heart, I wish you a term that truly keeps us GREAT.  And most fervently, Mr. President elect, I hope you lose your Twitter account

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Flying away

It’s a Wonderful Life

When celebrating a life like Little Ruth Marie Nelson Chase Olson’s , especially at Christmas time, one immediately thanks Frank Capra.  He posed the question:  What difference could her life possibly have made?  Having had the opportunity to play Clarence, the angel in waiting, it’s only fair I get to answer that question!

Born a daughter and a sister, Ruth’s formative years began in metropolitan Goodwin, South Dakota.  Sandwiched between her two brothers and “guided” by an older sister, she quickly developed a loyalty and love for them that was boundless.  And of course, there was Miss Cookie!  An amazingly strong and resourceful woman, she raised Ruth to recognize her own worth—to make lasting friends—to fiercely protect the animals in her (and everyone else’s) care.  Miss Cookie raised four highly intelligent, independent thinkers.

Graduating from the cosmopolitan town of Watertown, (Class of 55, an amazing amalgam of phenomenal people) Ruth was off to SDSU, where she received her teaching degree AND established life-long relationships with the women affectionately known as the Knight House Girls.  These friendships would grow and deepen over time, with every effort to stay in touch through letters, cards, e-mails, and the yearly pilgrimages they would make to exotic locations like The Blue Belle Inn near Rapid City and a trip or two to holy city--Saint Cloud. 

It was back to Watertown to teach, to meet her handsome prince, to marry, and to live happily ever after.  Or so was the plan.  Mark, her handsome prince, died unexpectedly one summer while away from home.  Her “once upon a time” did not have the expected ending.  But no one was better dealing with (or teaching for that matter) plot shifts.  With the help of supportive friends, life went on.

Enter Clarence, or more specifically, the loud, obnoxious, freshman debate coach.  Suspect from the start, Ruth and friends were completely unsure as to what had just happened.  I’m not sure how, or for that matter, why, but they accepted me, nurtured me, and began a life-long friendship that even death cannot destroy!

Once upon a time becomes twice upon a time.  Ruth and Chuck meet, discover in each other a part missing from their lives, and have spent the last 38 years traveling, gardening, raising and loving their cats (whose names seemed to change periodically!) and completing each other. 

Retirement.  While a viable concept, no one would say it applied to Ruth.  Although she no longer taught, she enmeshed herself in her community.  Friends of the library flourished.  The Mellette House had its own girl guide.  The Historical Museum had an avid crusader.  Retired School Personnel had a champion.  Town Players enjoyed the fruits (and savories) of her kitchen labors.  And her friends and family had Ruth!

So that’s her life.  Did it make a difference?

Ask her husband.  Ask her brother.  Ask the nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.  Ask the Knight House Girls.  Ask the class of 55.  Ask her life-long friends.  Ask any of the organizations to which she gave her time and energy.  Ask anyone who was the beneficiary of one of her greeting cards.  A couple favorites stand out—there was the Easter card with the dyed eggs on the front, and when opened, you were confronted with an extremely bellicose chicken screaming “Who painted my babies.?”  And my all time favorite—the birthday card from Ruth and Chuck that very simply wished me a happy birthday—from the Jungle Stud and his Amazon Temptress! 

But most importantly, ask the children whose lives she touched, whose minds she molded, whose souls she changed.  Upon announcement of her death, over 100 responders spoke to her abilities…her deftness at “learning them” and making them feel good.  This is what one of them wrote to her only last week.
I wanted to say a few things to someone who has touched my life so profoundly.
Not only do I value the things you taught me in the classroom, but far and away the most important and valuable thing to me is our friendship and what that has become. I am always excited to email you and tell you news from life. You encouraged me to go to grad school, to complete the dissertation beast, and always make me feel like you are proud of me. You support me in my academic, and now professional, endeavors. Having you as a cheerleader means more than you may realize. I have come to think of you as part of my family and love you as such. I am angry that we won't get enough time to continue our friendship. I am also angry that something like this happened to such a beautiful person. I am so glad I walked by your classroom saying hi everyday, and am thankful for everything that came after. You have touched many lives, none more than Chuck's, but you have certainly influenced and made mine better. There should never be a day that the earth turns without you in it, but I am so happy I got to spend some of those turns with you.  

Today we celebrate our turns.  Today we give thanks for all the joy and smiles.  Today we eat and drink because she wanted us to, we put away our tears and pain for just a while, and we raise our glasses…To our Amazon Temptress.  The time has come for you to fly away.  Let us give you your wings!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The annual Christmas letter--abbreviated version!


wrote a book.
enjoyed a myriad of organizations.
Have Been
Will Be

May your hearts be merry and bright!
Merry Christmas