Monday, September 28, 2020

The Election

Before you read this please be warned that it will be a post about politics. As I often state the primary reason I write this is for my children and grandchildren.  I feel I owe it to them to let them know why I am voting a certain way.

As always I welcome comments. Differences of opinion are always welcome.

However whether you agree with me or not I will delete any nasty statements.  I believe in a pleasant discourse. After all it IS my blog.


It is a year divisible by 4. That means it is time time cast my vote for President of the United States. 

I have voted in every election since I was 21 years old. I believe strongly that it my responsibility to choose the people who represent me. If nothing else they are reminded that at least one person is watching to see that they do a good job.

There are other officials running to be elected but I am going to focus on the office of president.

The two main candidates are President Donald Trump and Vice-President Joseph Biden. Trump is the current president. Biden was vice-president during the Obama presidency. Once you are either one of these officials the title stays with you unless you achieve a greater title. It is a matter of respect.

Trump was elected 4 years ago. According to our Constitution he can serve another 4 years.

Both candidates are older than any other candidates in history. Health and mental acuity are both qualities necessary to run a whole country so age could be a consideration.

I am not happy with Donald Trump. I feel he is a bully. He makes a habit of applying derogatory nicknames to other people including government officials. He has demeaned other races and religions. He has severely tested relationships with our allies while openly admiring dictatorial leaders of other countries. 

Our country was heading toward an inflationary economy with the rich getting richer and the poor being left to fend for themselves. 

Chaos seemed to be the rule of thumb in all governmental actions. The turnover of top advisors to the president is ridiculously high. A certain number of people will need to be replaced in any administration. As of September 3 of this year in this administration 91% of the so-called A Team of advisors have been replaced for various reasons. This does not include cabinet members. Some cabinet positions have never been filled. As a matter of fact many governmental positions have not been filled... at all.

Nepotism is rife. His daughter and son-in-law hold highly-placed advisory positions. Mitch McConnell's wife is Secretary of Transportation. Rudy Giuliani's son is (Sports) Public Liaison Assistant to the president. William Barr's son-in-law is a legal advisor to the president, while his wife who is Barr's daughter now has a job with the Treasury. Both left their jobs with the Department of Justice so their father had no personal ties to anyone in the department while he was waiting to be confirmed. There are more than a dozen other examples.

There are several crises in our country at the moment. Multiple hurricanes and tropical storms have hit our country this year alone. No one can stop that. All we can do is try to make the clean-up and recovery from them as smooth as possible.

The whole west coast seems to be on fire. Our president has stated (and I am paraphrasing) that if the states would keep the floors of the forests free of dead leaves they would not catch fire. He does want to spend a lot of money for the recovery of these states because of that. He neglects to mention that approximately 53% of the forests are owned by the federal government not the states.

COVID-19 has attacked the whole world. In the United States alone we have 200,000 deaths because of it. There have been guidelines issued by scientists and doctors to instruct us in the best way to prevent getting and spreading the disease. Even when he was talking about the best way to act he behaved differently. He refuses to wear a face mask and is now encouraging us not to bother. He asks his devotees to attend large campaign events with no safe distances between people and face masks.

I have so much more but I think you get the idea that I will not be voting for Trump.

However I do not believe in voting against someone. If I cannot find someone to vote FOR I would not vote.

Joe Biden has been active in our government for 44 years. That is not necessarily a recommendation. There are a lot of career politicians who do not do a good job.

He has calm demeanor. He can get his point across using reason and knowledge. He is familiar with foreign leaders and has a working relationship with most. He was highly regarded by senators from both parties when he was a senator.

He listens when someone is talking to him. He may not agree but he allows the person to have his say.

He shows genuine empathy for people who are full of sorrow. He generates a strength of character that I admire.

As far as the several crises we are facing right now he has informed ideas of how to deal with them. These include listening to scientists and doctors and trying to follow their recommendations.

When Biden announced that he would be running for president a feeling of calm enveloped me. I felt as if he would be in charge. He would work to take care of everyone and everything important to my country. 

Biden has been accused of improperly acquiring a job for his son in Ukraine. 

He is older than any other candidate ever. He seems to be active and in good health.

I will vote for Biden.

No matter which candidate you choose please vote. It keeps our officials honest.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Family Traditions

The traditions I refer to in the title are not things like holiday rituals or alcoholism. The things I am talking about are more like family legends. They are things we feel are unique to us and we have a lot of fun with them.

The seeds of maple trees have a "tail" on them. It is almost see through and is flat. It is wider at the end than it is at the seed. If you throw them into the air they spin and float to the ground. We call them helicopters. A handful of helicopters thrown at the same time is a sight to see.

My second granddaughter took a handful of helicopters to her second story bedroom. She tossed them into the air from her room. Some went up and floated straight down. Some just went straight down. Some caught little flows of air and went to the sides before floating down. It was spectacular.

My family considers snapdragons to be our family flower. My father delighted in taking a snapdragon to show a child how he could make the dragon open and close its mouth by gently squeezing the sides of the blossom.

When my mother died in a cold January I asked the florist if it would be possible to have arrangements made of summer flowers because she loved them so. It was possible. We were all thrilled to see snapdragons in the arrangements. When I asked my oldest son if he would like to leave anything with his grandmother he told me to take some snapdragons from the arrangements. So Mom was buried holding our family flowers.

Most members of the family like rain. We walk in it and we dance in it. Or maybe we just sit on the porch and watch it come down. A good storm is a delight with rolling thunder and an occasional flash of lightning.

When my oldest granddaughter was about 8 years old she came in and said, "Grandma, I smell rain coming. Do you want to come out on the porch to watch with me?" Of course I went right out and we had a wonderful time.

If you drive by a house where someone in our family lives and it is raining you might very well see people out dancing in the rain. From the oldest to the youngest we spin and twirl to celebrate the cleansing of the earth.

Gremlins are those troublesome little creatures who cause glitches in mechanical items. My father claimed that he brought one with him when he married my mother. The gremlin's name is Petey. Whenever an appliance or a car would act up we all blamed Petey.

Then I married a man of Irish descent. Suddenly we had leprechauns too. They were the ones hiding car keys and misplacing important papers. How many families can be so lucky as to have both gremlins and leprechauns?

I told my second granddaughter about feathers. The belief is that whenever you find a feather, especially a white one, a loved one who has died is watching over you. My granddaughter is constantly finding feathers. She even tells us who is thinking of her.

My granddaughter idolized my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law. All of them are gone now. When my granddaughter found three feathers, all separate but in the same place, she knew they were from her great-grandma and her two great-aunts.

Have you ever seen a slope and wished you could just roll down? We do it all the time. It is freeing to be at the top and lie down and roll over and over until you are at the bottom.

My husband's parents owned a small farm in the Loess Hills. As soon as my children arrived on the farm when visiting the first thing they asked to do was climb the hill behind the house and roll down. Soon after there would be what they called "walking the hills".

Sadly after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and father-in-law the farm was sold. But happily the man who bought it has welcomed members of our family and allowed them to "walk the hills" and roll down the hill. He is a nice man.

As you can see it takes little to make a family tradition. It could be your evening walk as you point out interesting sights in the neighborhood. All that is important is that they create cherished memories that are carried to adulthood. Then they will try to re-create the same memories for their children. And the cycle continues.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Don't You Know All The World Loves To Laugh

I am often the one that makes my family laugh. I do not always do it intentionally but they laugh anyway. Laughter is good for the innards so I am happy to help keep them in good health.

Everyone knows how much I love baseball. My sister-in-law just smiles and shakes her head as she says, "You and your baseball."  But my children are another matter altogether.

We lived for a long time just a few miles from where my favorite major league baseball team played their home games. We went often. My children were able to watch some great baseball and great players. When we were not able to go to a game we would watch on television.

Even after my father died my mother and I had a good time watching baseball together. We would moan when our batter's hit was caught just before it appeared to be going over the fence for a home run. We would cheer when our outfielder caught the ball hit by the other team just before it went over the fence for a home run. We would scream and yell at any perceived infraction to our sensibilities committed by either team or the umpires. It is great fun.

But my children, nieces and nephews, and younger brother and sister were the ones having the most fun. They would sit in the back yard on nice summer days and laugh at us as we screamed at the television.

These days my children still laugh because I am still screaming at the television during ball games. They are joined by my grandchildren. Soon my great-grandchildren will be joining in. At least the dog does not run and hide any more.

I love music. I am the weirdo you see in the supermarket bopping down the aisle when a favorite song comes over their music list. I will being watching TV disinterestedly and suddenly find myself chair dancing to the music of a commercial. And of course I sing long and loud with the radio.

Now I know I cannot sing. If you put the tune into a breifcase and locked it I would not be able to carry it. But I have a lot of enthusiasm. Does that count for anything?

Of course my whole family laughs at me. When I begin to twitch in the grocery store my children used to scatter not wanting to be associated with the crazy lady. Sitting in a restaurant with my grandchildren brought head shaking and comments like, "Don't do that." Listening to music on the computer brings wails begging me to stop singing. (It is my house. I sing.)

When my children were young I would try to plan activities we would all enjoy. Movies were a good bet but we often did not want to see the same movie. Theaters that show multiple movies worked well because we could see the movie we wanted to see then get together afterward for something to eat.

But there were movies that we all enjoyed. Star Wars was one of those. So off we went to Star Wars. But it seems that everyone had a favorite place to sit in the theater. It works for us.

Toward the end of that movie Darth Vader is killed by his son Luke Skywalker. It was an emotional scene and I cry easily at the movies so I was dabbing my eyes and (I thought) quietly crying. Then I hear son number 3 chuckling. He was sitting several rows behind me and to the left.

He then stage whispers to son number 2. "Hey, Mom is crying because Darth Vader got killed." All heads in the theater craned to see me dabbing at my eyes. Son number 2 chuckled as did son number 1 and my daughter. Then the whole theater erupted into soft laughter. Think how good they all felt inside.

After the movie I had plans for us to go downtown in the big city. Summer weekends they held what they called Ethnic Festivals. It was an attempt to introduce people to other cultures and learn more about their own. It was one of the best ideas they ever had.

Anyway this weekend was the Irish Festival. Seeing that I had four little Irish children we went to the festival. After much searching we found a parking structure that was almost within walking distance.

As we were walking into the riverfront area where the festival was being held there were so many people milling about. Son number 3 took great joy in walking up to as many as he could and saying, "That's my mother. She cried when Darth Vader died."

Most people just had confused looks on their faces. But a few of them laughed. My son was having a good time. Add to that the fact that we had a good time at the festival. It was a great day.

It truly does not bother me when people laugh at me. Know why? I laugh at them too. Ridiculous things happen all the time. The trick is to recognize them for what they are and enjoy them.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Where The Jackalope Play

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Nature Center Magazine. I have had it on my mind for about two weeks now. Perhaps I am meant to share it again.

Late at night the cowboys sat around the campfire relaxing from the long day. Tall tales were told. Loved ones were remembered. Then the cowboys started to sing.

But what's that? In the distance something was singing back at them. Other cowboys? None in the area. Rustlers? They wouldn't let themselves be known. No... it's the jackalopes joining in.

Are you asking what is a jackalope? It's a supposedly mythical animal that is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. Or perhaps it is a cryptid. A cryptid is a being that has not been disproven.
It looks like a jackrabbit except that it has horns like an antelope or deer. Occasionally it might have a tail like a pheasant too. Is that a jackalopant? Nope. It's still a jackalope.

A jackrabbit is actually a hare. It is usually bigger than a rabbit and has longer ears. The babies are born above ground and able to see and have all their fur when they are born. They are able to fend for themselves. Take a look.

Deer and antelope are much larger animals. They often have magnificent antlers. Often they are hunted for more than meat. The antlers and heads make trophies for the hunter to brag about.

How did these two kinds of animals unite to form a new animal? Nobody seems to know. Maybe the same way that other hybrid animals of mythology were made.

Now the jackalopes are able to make their own little jackalopes. They are still very rare because they mate only in a storm. Lightning is an essential ingredient to successful mating.

As I said before baby jackalopes are able to fend for themselves from birth. But they are mammals which means that milk from the mother helps the young grow stronger and faster.

Jackalope milk is valuable. It has many medicinal uses, including as a powerful aphrodisiac. It's hard to get though.

The female sleeps belly up so it's fairly easy to get the milk if you can get to her. The milk comes out homogenized because of the powerful leaps made by those strong hind legs. The problem is that jackalopes are either shy or ferocious depending on who you talk to. There aren't too many of them either so it's kind of hard to find them to begin with.

Jackalopes can mimic any sound. We've already learned that they can sing like us. When they are being chased they will often send their hunters on a wild goose chase by yelling, "There it is. Over that way!" It makes it hard to find them.

The best way to catch a jackalope is to set out a flask of whiskey. They love the stuff. They are easier to follow and catch when they are drunk. Just be careful. They're mean drunks and will fight to the end.

Jackalopes are found mostly in the western and prairie states of the United States. Cousins can be found in the alpine regions of Europe. Some of the names they go by there are Wolpertinger, Blutschink, Dahu, Dilldap, Elwetritsch, Hanghuhn, and Rasselbock. In Sweden there is the skvader.

President Ronald Reagan had a jackalope trophy mounted on his wall. He said he had captured it himself. A senator from South Dakota gave him another one a few years later as a gift.

Douglas, Wyoming, calls itself the Jackalope Capitol of America. In June each year they have an official Jackalope Day. Celebration of all things jackalope to be enjoyed. In fact you can even purchase a jackalope hunting license. The season is short so you will have to be prepared. Only one day, June 31 (not a misprint) and the time is only 12 midnight to 2 in the morning. If you go hunting for jackalope, I wish you luck.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Vote For Me And I'll Set You Free

The Temptations sang a song called Ball Of Confusion. The first verse begins;

People moving out, people moving in
Why? Because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can't hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I'll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

It is 2020. That means it is time for us to vote for the person we feel is best qualified to lead our country.

In the United States the leader of the Executive Branch of the federal government is the president. In every year divisible by the number 4 (as in 2020) there is an election to choose who will be our president for the next four years.

No person can be elected president for more than two four year terms whether those terms are consecutive or not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to serve 4 terms. There have been other presidents who took office as the result of the elected president dying who served for more than the two terms but not for more. After FDR's long run people felt that a limit to terms was necessary and a law was passed limiting the amount of time that can be served.

The Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says in part;

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

President Trump has served one term as president. Each citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age or older has the right to vote. During the primaries a 17 year old citizen may vote as long as they will be 18 by the time of the presidential election.

Two people plying for my vote. And there are many differences of opinion from them about running this country. Some statements I like and others I do not. I may agree with one candidate on one issue but completely disagree on another.

My ideal candidate would completely agree with me on all issues. I am certain that millions of other voters feel the same way. And I am also certain that not one of those voters completely agrees with me.

So how do I choose the person I will vote for? I pay attention to what the candidates are saying. 

I then listen to speeches. I watch body language. How do they respond to questions? Do they seem knowledgeable about the major issues? Do they have responsible and reasonable solutions to problems facing the people of my country? Do they seem intelligent?

Those are a few of my criteria. I go online. All the candidates post their platforms. I can read each one and decide whether I agree or disagree. I can decide whether they have a real plan or are full of hot air.

When the day to vote arrives I go to my local polling place and cast my secret ballot. Actually this year I am voting absentee. My request for my absentee ballot has been submitted. I will return my completed ballot to the county auditor in person. That way I will not have to depend on shaky mail delivery.

One person close to me says my vote does not matter. Nothing will change.

I believe that as the number of voters declines the politicians take that as an indication that they can do as they wish. If nothing else I want all of them to know that someone (me) is keeping an eye on them. I wish more people felt the same way.

My children all have strong political opinions. Some of them are totally opposite from mine. That is their right and I encourage them to have those opinions. We have some lively discussions.

I also have grandchildren who vote. My two oldest grandsons are the political beings. And they each support a different political party. Luckily they like each other a lot but they do have some good discussions.

They come by it honestly. My parents were active politically as was my father-in-law. We were all taught to care and take the operation of our country. After all we are The People.

 So please register and when the time comes VOTE.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

These Times

 I have not been writing much for several reasons. We are living in extremely trying times. I hesitated to write about them. Then I remembered this is for my children and their children. It needs to be recorded along with my feelings about it.

COVID-19 has been devastating all over the world. It is a virus that even experts in the field of virology and infectious diseases aren't sure of the correct ways to handle it. 

As of the latest information available on September, 2020, deaths worldwide are more than 890,000. In the United States 192,000 have died. It is devastating.

I live in a remote little town in Iowa. Right now the county I live in has dropped from the highest percentage of new cases in the state to second. The only businesses in town are a bar and a gas station. Both are closed because employees have contracted the virus.

I am considered high risk because of my age (73). The son I live with is diabetic and extremely high risk. We stay home except to pick up groceries which we have delivered directly to our car and to pick up medications which are also brought to the car.

We do occasionally take a drive through the country to keep the cabin fever away. It helps immensely and we don't come into contact with other people.

The rest of my children are in another state. We are in contact by phone. 

My son who had the car accident is also high risk because his immune system is still compromised. The same is true for his son. They are both fine and still recovering now.

My other son and his wife are both working again. Their state is still having problems with the virus so they take precautions. Both their children are married with children. So far so good. 

My daughter and her husband also have two children. All four are working. My grandchildren will probably take their college courses online.

I hope that the children will all be schooling online. I know that if my children were still of that age they would not be attending a school. Their well-being is too precious to me.

So far we have endured this corona virus for 3/4 of the year. I have hope that next year will be better.