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Follow the rules

September 5, 2017

As a 5th generation American, I accept and firmly believe that this country – this United States of America – was built on a foundation of immigration. Then, as now, if you want to live here, you must follow the rules, please.

My great-great grandparents immigrated, as did so many others back then. They followed the rules and took the necessary steps to do it legally. Similarly, when they homesteaded in harsh North Dakota weather extremes, they followed the rules to do what law required so they could be thriving citizens.

It seems to me, as long as any person has to hide because they haven’t followed the laws, they are not and cannot be thriving citizens. That resulting lack of freedom leaves them short of full participation. Mostly, it hurts them far more than it hurts the rest of the country.

Does it cost money to follow the rules? You bet it does. A couple of weeks ago, it cost me nearly $60 to renew my driver license. Something that I remember being free not too long ago. I had to manage my income and spending so I had the $60 for that renewal that allows me to keep lawfully driving. Driving allows me to get to my job to continue to legally earn money to support my needs and my family needs.

That’s how it works. I don’t have a $9,000 (exaggeration intentional) cell phone because I know I need my money for other expenses, too. Maybe if I immigrated here from another country, I would buy a cheap phone, eat ‘rice and beans’ as financial counselor Dave Ramsey likes to say, and whatever else it took to have the money necessary to attain legal US citizenship.

Easy? No. Who ever said it would be? If I moved to another country where I wanted to live, I would expect them to make it a bit hard – to earn it. That country would also expect me to follow their laws and rules.

Being a free country built by brave immigrants a couple hundred years ago does not negate the necessity of rules, laws and structure. All I ask is that you just follow the rules if you want to live here.

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Today is eclipse day!

August 21, 2017

Be careful out there. Today, Aug. 21, 2017, is a big day – the first total solar eclipse visible in the US since 1979.

I’ve heard several say, “It’s a once in a lifetime event.”

Well, not exactly for many of us. For example, on Feb. 26, 1979, when the last one occurred in the US, I was 18 years old. I was probably in class so sadly, I don’t remember that one.

The next one will be April 8, 2024. Now, I realize no one knows what the future holds. My driver license expires in 2025 so I expect I’ll be here for that one, too. At least I hope so …

I heard an ‘eclipse chaser’ over the weekend tell a reporter, “It’s a life-changing event.”

Ummm, I don’t quite get that. Who knows? Maybe it was the eclipse of 1979 that began the trajectory of the next 38 years of my life. Somehow, I doubt that.

All that aside, today is an exciting day. I’ll be in work; however, I do plan to step outside to check on it.

Without looking at the sun. Never look at the sun, especially during an eclipse.

If like me, you don’t have the proper protective glasses, please do not look at the sun. It stinks, I know. I’m annoyed with my lack of planning that’s resulted in no special glasses. Sunglasses don’t cut it.

I plan to use the old school, low tech simple card projector. Ultimately, it is the only approach I feel confident with in lieu of the proper glasses.

All the major networks will track it and NASA offers live streaming, as does the Weather Channel on its mobile app.

Here are a couple of helpful and reliable resources, in case your planning just started.

Finally, just for a quick smile, check out today’s Google doodle in the spirit of eclipse day.

Have fun, stay safe and in awe, admire the grand power of nature in this impressive show.

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Red roads lead to home

July 30, 2017

With family and deep family roots in North Dakota, I spent much of my life in central and western North Dakota. My paternal grandparents farmed in a small western ND town, Golva, just a few miles from the Montana state line.

Golva is less than 200 miles from the state capital of Bismarck. Across those miles, the geography transforms. The same is true when you head east toward the Minnesota line. The artistry of the glaciers is quite amazing, if you stop to think about it.

This website explains in easy-to-understand terms how glaciation did what it did to the Northern Plains. My most favorite part of the state is “The Little Missouri Badlands.” Since I’ve not yet seen the Grand Canyon (can you say, “bucket list?”), I describe The Badlands as a small Grand Canyon.

So, when this weekend my husband’s sister-in-law posted a picture from Montana where their little family attended a wedding, I returned to my past.

Her photo comment about scoria roads took me back to the drive to my grandparents’ farm. The drive was always for my siblings and me, both torturous and thrilling. It seemed to take forever with many, “Are we there yet?” moments.

Yet, when we hit the red rock road, a.k.a., scoria, our excitement heightened because we knew we were close. I always loved the scoria roads and the scoria all around in the rock wall formations of the glaciers.

Funny how you can forget, and then in an instant, memories pop to the surface. Several years ago, the county (I believe) paved the road to Grandma’s. For ND winter maintenance, I’m sure it was a wise decision. Easier to plow and easier to drive.

Yet, it covers an element of western ND charm – scoria. I understand it’s still there and is west of there. In the southeast, where I live now, some areas have red clay. Still, it’s not the same as the red rock and doesn’t have the sentimental value for me that scoria has. Silly, I guess, that red rock can make me smile.

Schmeling Farm Yard-2 5-2002

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President-in-Training (unfortunately for the rest of us)

July 23, 2017

When a public servant, elected or other, is willing to sacrifice his constituents for his pride, we do not have a public servant. It becomes exponentially more frightening to me when that public servant is the leader of all US public servants – the president of the United States.

Yes, our current president said, on camera, it’s time to “just let Obamacare fail.” Horrifying and insensitive! Not like that would hurt any ummm – people!

It is his job to own it, not let it fail without an alternative. It is his duty to work it, not walk away from it. It is his moral and political obligation.

What happened to his campaign bravado that he could negotiate and make deals? That he knows how to compromise?

I did not vote for him but I could see a connection between the ability to reach compromise and the need for that in Congress. If he was smart, he would figure out how to leverage his negotiation skills to build those relationships with all Congressional members. If he could do that, he and this country, might reach solutions and achieve progress.

Instead, we are stuck with a tired, ignorant, non-transparent president and administration. So far, they have accomplished nothing except to show us all how untrustworthy they are. All citizens, you know, those of us who are ordinary, hard-working, non-billionaire people, should be frightened and outraged. Current US leadership is wont to do anything for us.

Some days, I think Trump will get up one morning soon and say, “I’m done. I don’t need this. It’s harder than I thought it would be.” (He’s already admitted that the job and health care reform are too hard for him.)

The rest of us knew it was a hard job with difficult issues. We should never have chosen a president-in-training. That’s the VP job. I hope I’m right that he’ll walks away. I won’t hold my breath because he seems intent to destroy our country except for the select 1 percent.

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June the 12th

June 12, 2017

Pulse Remembrance Day. One year ago today, the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 people. Many of them gay, which seemed to be the only reason the shooter targeted that location.

In my local paper yesterday, the remembrance quoted someone (possibly the Orlando police chief) saying that he calls the day, “June the 12th.” I interpreted that as being comparable to “September the 11th.”

Two days in American history, in my lifetime, filled with such vile hatred and evil poison. I do not – cannot – understand how our world can have so many people who are so wicked. I have begun to think that, in addition to red and white blood cells, they have ‘hate’ blood cells coursing through their bodies. It is as if it is in their DNA, which is of course impossible and means they choose evil.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. I encourage everyone to visit if they get the chance. America’s civil rights movement of the 1960s is not something I remember, other than from history books. In recent years, we’ve seen a renewed attempt at a civil rights movement. (Sadly, in my opinion, the violence in many of the current attempts thwarts their messages.)

So, reading again about and seeing again all the absurd laws and rules whites put in place, makes me sad. I don’t understand how anyone thought the oppression and segregation were appropriate. And, as I left the Center (#GetCentered) that afternoon, I was sadder because it seems we still haven’t learned the lessons of that time.

Fear makes humans do stupid things. This hatred out of fear because of skin color or sexual preference seems ignorant to me. Some people ‘wrap’ it in religion, which I don’t accept. My God loves all people and only God will judge someday. I don’t have to understand others’ choices. If they do no harm to others, who am I to deny them the privileges I have?

While we humans often act out of ignorance, we are also resilient and hopeful. I am hopeful that we will continue to make progress and learn from the current day atrocities, like the Pulse shooting, the Sandy Hook heartbreaking shooting, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

We seem to have already forgotten the lessons of September the 11th, and we seem to have long ago lost the lessons of the Holocaust. We must work to remember – to remember so that we can learn, grow and change. People are people, after all. In a country like America, we should be able to set the worldwide example. We can seek to understand and, live out that understanding. Every day, in every encounter.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2017

May 14, 2017

Today I wish a lovely Mother’s Day to everyone. Not all are mothers, yet we all have mothers. Some biological, some maybe not. This is a day to celebrate being a woman and girl.

We nurture others in so many ways, whether as mother or not. I became a mother 34 years ago and now, I would say I’m a better mother than daughter. I’m not a very good daughter but I try to be better.

As my mother ages, it is easier to be better … most of the time. I remind myself that the world’s fast pace is difficult for her and she doesn’t like it. She wants to have the world in which she grew up. That’s not wrong or bad. Impossible, but not wrong. Who am I to judge or try to sell her today’s crazy?100_3562

I know that she did not ask for the aging that her body has experienced. Of course, she’d still like to be agile and spry, and especially pain-free. That’s out of her control at this point.

As daughter – and as mother who must model the way for my daughter and in time her children – I must be patient and tolerant. Those are not always my best traits. From this life lesson, I can increase both and be the daughter I should be.

In many ways, it would be a Mother’s Day gift to myself, as well as my mom, my daughter.
Time is precious and limited and I have no excuse to make it anything less than happy for these dear women in my life.

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Unity in frogs

September 21, 2016

Are you tired? I’m tired. Seems like all around us is unhappiness, fear, poverty, anger, violence, terrorism, racism, unrest. It wears on me and I think it wears on you and others, too.

It wears on me in part because I don’t understand our responses to it all. I want to fix the problems somehow but no one – no single person – seems willing to step away from his or her firm opinions.

Isn’t it possible that in all these issues, we have nuggets of truth on all sides? In my life experience (which is starting to add up in the number of years), there are almost never absolutes in any situation. Especially when they involve people.

We have racism in this country. I see it across all people and in varying degrees. Law enforcement did not and does not cause racism. I and the people I know didn’t cause racism.

In addition to the horrible, deadly terrorist acts, we have deadly violence in this country among our own citizens. We have neighborhood drive-by shootings where the flying bullets strike and kill young children doing homework on their beds. We have an ex-boyfriend who fatally stabbed his girlfriend in Walgreens while she worked; her mother says her only crime was loving the guy. We have justifiable officer-involved shootings and we have questionable officer-involved shootings. We have people killing people on the street every day in this country over Lord knows what.

It’s tragic. Doesn’t it break your heart and make you tired?

How does more violence help solve any of that? I just do not understand how anyone can believe that violence and destruction are the right answers to deadly violence. More violence does not seem to me to be any kind of solution, particularly if our true goal is unity and peace.

Please don’t give me “racism” or “white privilege.” You don’t know me and I don’t know you. My white privilege includes a ‘father’ who abandoned his wife and three kids, living on food stamps while my mom tried to recover financially, working since age 12 to buy my own clothes, contacts, etc., and working full-time while going to college and raising my daughter so I could better my life, and still working hard today to have a modest home and an unlikely retirement. That feels like hard work, not privilege.

Somehow we have to find ways to come together in conversation. Leave the violence and firmly held ideas in the other room. We are, after all, just people. And we’re not really so different.

Sunday I stepped outside to clean my car and I heard, “Excuse me.”

I turned to see a neighbor who I don’t know and whose skin happens to be a different color than mine.

“Are you afraid of frogs?” she asked. One had jumped into her car.

“Well, yea, I sort of am but I’ll try to help you out,” I told her.

So there we were, two neighbors-but-strangers in Florida, one with a broom and one with a spray bottle, acting like ‘girls’ because we’re afraid of frogs. We’re not really so different and weren’t afraid to ask for or to respond with help. In those few minutes, I didn’t feel so tired.