Tuesday, March 30, 2010


It was a marathon, but the trip to Umatilla this weekend was priceless. Rick was in the hospital about three years ago. Several hospitals actually. He finally ended up in Seattle after a midnight ride from the Tri Cities area in an ambulance. He had symptoms that mimicked meningitis, but it wasn’t meningitis. I’m not sure they ever came up with a definite diagnosis. Then there were problems in the last year or so with phlebitis in one leg.

Perhaps that’s what prompted him to get everything organized. As his pastor put it in the memorial service, “we were the only ones who were surprised last Sunday.” Rick had organized things, picked out his favorite music, made a tape and left all the materials with his pastor. I can only imagine how difficult it was for this man to come to Robbie and say “Rick left this for you.”

Words aren’t enough to describe what happened Sunday afternoon.

Imagine a basketball sized high school auditorium. People are filling one side of the bleachers. A few flower arrangements, a couple of rows of chairs, and AV equipment are on the floor facing the other set of bleachers. Somebody grabs a mike and asks folks to scoot closer together because “we’ve still got people coming in and they’re backed up to the sidewalk.” A few minutes later the pastor, my nephews and the AV guys said the heck with it, had us turn the props towards one end of the court and started seating people in the other half of the bleachers. In a town with about six thousand people, we had at least six hundred at that service.

It was unconventional to say the least. There must have been at least two dozen students who shared stories and memories of Mr. Wyland or Coach Rick. There was some from friends and family, but it was mostly the kids, some very articulate kids.

And yes, there was a purple tutu. He made a bet with the cross country team. If they made it to the state meet; he would wear a purple tutu. In public. They did and he did.

I knew the family Rick. I didn’t really know the teacher or the coach, or the believer. My loss. I only hope that when the time comes I can be as cheerful and graceful about facing my mortality as Rick was.

And I was reminded of something I believe is very important. Sis and her husband not only shared their teaching skills but their personal support and when needed; their home. At least two students spoke briefly, without too many details, of times when they needed a refuge and they found it. We can test for teaching skills and that’s important; but I’ve never heard of a test for empathy. And that may be the most important skill of all.

Brother I am going to miss you. But, when I see those wonderful sons of yours smile or laugh or lend some one a helping hand I’ll know that you’re there too; with a smile, and words of encouragement.

And on the home front? We left three cats with three litter boxes. We were gone approximately fifty four hours. With these ladies this is something you keep track of, believe me. I am prepared to swear that Lucky met us at the door and led me to the box in the pantry. She looked at me, looked at the box and looked back at me. Her expression was priceless and very, very eloquent.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A pain, not in my back, but in the you-know-what...

Most health plans, including mine, recommend a first colonoscopy at age 50. I managed to put off the procedure for eight years, but two years ago, at age 58, I finally got around to having it done. It's a good thing I did, because the doctor found several polyps of a type that, left untreated, are likely to become cancerous. Those polyps were removed, but because they are aggressive and tend to grow back, he scheduled another colonoscopy in two years. Last month I had the second colonoscopy, and the results were good, so I now have a three year period before I have to have another.

This morning I got a letter from a subrogation services company contacted by my insurance company "to get more information about the injury or care you received". The first question on the Questionnaire included with the letter read: Was your treatment due to (please check one below) auto accident? home injury? work accident or injury? medical malpractice? liability, like a slip or fall? other/not an accident (explain below). The letter had a case number that I'd never seen before, but no other information about what they were asking about: not the doctor involved, or the facility; not the treatment or procedure; not even a date of service.

I sighed and called the 1-800 number. After spending some time going through a number of annoying steps in the electronic processing procedure, I was put on hold. Eventually, a claims representative came on the line. I told her that I thought the letter must have been sent to me by mistake, because I haven't been in an accident.

"That doesn't mean anything," she exclaimed cheerfully.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because," she said distinctly, and I could practically hear the unuttered DUH! "You could havebeen injured in an accident without being in an accident!"


After I provided my date of birth, she began to unravel the Gordian knot. The inquiry was related to my recent colonoscopy. Apparently, my insurance company would like to get out ofpaying for this procedure. Never mind that it wasn't an emergency procedure, and I had to be pre-approved before it was scheduled, and they'd been apprised two years ago of the results that would require this to be done again in two years time.

"It says here you had this procedure due to back pain," the claims rep said.

I told her I did not have the procedure because of back pain; I had the procedure because I previously had a certain type of polyps that requires regular screening in case they come back. She blithely disregarded me, exclaiming, "Back pain is what the nurse put down!"

"Well then the nurse got it wrong!"

"Was the back pain due to an accident?"

"I DIDN'T HAVE BACK PAIN!" I exclaimed, although I was beginning to have another sort of pain trying to get her to understand this.

"I can't change the record, but I'm making a note that the back pain wasn't due to an accident, so you can tear up that paperwork," she said.

I hope the new health care plan is able to eliminate some of this idiocy, but I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


You are a treasure. God, the Universe, pure dumb luck didn't see fit to bless me with brothers. I did luck out in the brother in law department. I had two, now I have one.

We don't know the how, only that Rick knew his candle might be a little shorter than he'd anticipated. Sis hasn't shared the details yet. He'd had some health problems over the years and a hospitalization three or four years ago. Something was causing meningitis like symptoms but, big but here, the condtion resolved itself, apparently. I guess we'll know more after this weekend.

Rick was a very private person in many ways. He was a nut. He was a good teacher. He'd do almost anything to psyche the kids up. I know he let them shave his head as a reward for acing the careers class and I've heard rumors about appearing in public in a purple tutu.

But, right now I'm remembering the skinny, funny, ed student with the red and white VW bus who was sweet on my sister.

And right now I'm torn between understanding why he'd keep the information to himself and wanting to kick his ass for denying the rest of us the opportunity to help him carry the load.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sympathy for a Friend

Please join me in offering condolences to Jackie; her family experienced an unexpected loss on Sunday.

My thoughts are with you, my dear friend!

In Surprising Agreement With...

Y'know, I've always thought Dennis Kucinich was kind of a flake. A joke. A wild-eyed hyper-progressive.

But this is what he said about his vote for the Health Care Reform Bill. And, by golly...he speaks for me almost word for word...

Denis Kucinich: Why I'm Supporting the Health Care Reform Bill

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Buyers’ Remorse?

The increased shrillness of partisan rhetoric caused by the passage of the Health Care Bill has caused my blood to curdle to the "political rant" point. I haven't felt one coming on this strongly since the 2008 election…

Let's face it. Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 for two main reasons: First, he was NOT George W. Bush or anything even remotely associated with that infamous administration; and second, he had not chosen Sarah Palin as a running mate. It's utter folly to believe that a majority of American voters carefully scrutinized the platforms of all candidates and chose Barack Obama based on anything he said or promised or represented. Which is not to say there were not those who voted for Mr. Obama for reasons other than his non-Bush-ness. But those true believers alone would not have pushed him to victory. George W. Bush let his house of cards fall down around his Alfred E. Newman ears about six months too early to allow him to hand the mantle of power over to a successor of his own political ideology. The American people were fed up with Bush and everything he stood for. And they voted that frustration.

So when I hear about this "buyers' remorse" that all of us who voted for Obama are supposed to be suffering now, I beg to disagree. Mr. Obama is, after all, STILL not George W. Bush. And he did not clasp hands with Vice President Sarah Palin upon signing the Health Care Bill into law. If he is or accomplishes nothing else in the next three (or seven) years, he will remain exactly what I purchased with my vote sixteen months ago.

However, I am beset by a certain amount of remorse connected with the Obama presidency. When I cast my vote, I foolishly assumed that an Obama victory would put an end to the madness. That the presence of an articulate, educated, intelligent human being behind the desk in the Oval Office would raise the level of political discourse in this country to something at least a rung or two above the putrid, sniping rhetoric of hatred and fear propagated by the previous administration. What was I thinking? What made me believe that the party of "Daschellism" and swift-boating had any intention of abiding by the will of the people, dropping their delusions of national domination and getting down to the business of government?

Mr. Obama, for his part, tried to implement the gospel of inclusiveness he had preached before the election. He was all about bi-partisanship; he did everything but stand on his head trying to get Republicans to come to the table and pow-wow about the changes he had promised the American people (after he spent the first weeks of his presidency desperately trying to keep the country's head above the treacherous economic waters into which the Bush Administration had cast it…)

The newly-demoted minority party richly rewarded the President's outstretched hand. First, they cast aspersions on the bail-outs he was forced to offer to floundering financial institutions (as if he was simply throwing our hard-earned tax money at a bunch of spoiled rich kids for no reason, or for reasons of his own creation.) And then they banded together as a rock-hard block to oppose anything and everything that the President tried to accomplish—with the expressed intention by their own admission of causing this President to fail. No thought to the needs of the people. No thought to the challenges facing any government in 21st century global politics. Their entire platform, all their energy was sunk into that single mission. Effectively solidifying the minority party into a giant turd clogging the pipes of our government. And, of course, blaming it all on the "other side."

Am I frustrated to near hysteria by what's going on? Of course. Do I blame President Obama? No, I do not.

I know who I believe in my heart is responsible for this entire mess. But I also know that, at this point, fixing blame is pointless. Our government is broken. Perhaps beyond redemption. The patient is dead. Will figuring out who's to blame bring it back to life?

How do you make them shut up? How do you make them care about anything but their own avarice, their personal delusions of power and control? I don't know. Obviously nobody knows. The country has gone completely mad and it appears there is no help for it. For the first time in my life, the thought of just getting the hell away from the madness, rather than working to calm or change it, looks tremendously appealing.

I've always wanted to travel…


Thursday, March 18, 2010


I’ve been able to trace two branches of my family tree to the very early 1600’s or earlier. The white bread ancestors I can account for arrived around the 1680’s or 1690’s. It had to be pure dumb luck that the Heatons and the Elmores could pay their way up front. The usual alternative was a loan secured by agreeing to work for whoever would buy the contract of indenture. At least the indentured colonists only had to serve for seven years or so. Then they were free to find their own way.

The first African slaves were sold in Virginia in 1617. That's before the Mayflower colonists fetched up in New England. And at least fifty or sixty years before my ancestors crossed the water. The slave trade, but not slavery, was outlawed in the early 1800’s. Years before the Irish survivors of the combined effects of failed crops and persecution got off the boat, Decades before the waves of European migrants who arrived between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

And that’s what may be sticking in the craws of the Flour Power (I didn’t come up with this, found it on the net) Tea Partiers. I’d love to see the family trees of the likes “I speak for the real Americans” Palin, or pill poppin’ Limbaugh, and or “we’re in danger of a Socialist dictatorship” Beck. Al Sharpton’s African ancestors may have gotten here first. :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


In some ways trying to trace your ancestors is a combination of genes and mathematics. Just getting past your great, great grandparents ranks as a major success. Going further back is as much good luck as good record keeping. And gee whiz, guess what, there are a couple of really famous people in the family line, but the furthest one back died nearly eight hundred years ago. That’s a lot great, greats and floods of water under a lot of bridges.

Do the math; two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents and so on. By the time you hit that twenty somethingth generation you’re looking at more people than I can comprehend and everybody born in southern Scotland and northern England is a potential relative.

Stop and think about though. If you’re breathing God’s good air this day and your family hails from Europe you’ve already beaten the odds. Your family survived the Black Death of the middle 1300’s. That’s the one that took out one third to one half of the population of Europe.

If you’re Scots/English/Irish your ancestors lucked out and made it through the Peasants Revolt, the Wars of the Roses, the battles that put the Tudors on the throne of England, the feuds of the Irish and Scottish clans, the endless campaigns between the Scots, the English and Irish. They made it through famines, rebellions, epidemics, accidents, enclosing landlords and forced clearances. Being alive and kicking when the dust settles is the longest running success story in the world.

For every Sir John, Walter de whatever the name of the castle on the hill, or general so and so there had to be hundreds of foot slogging spear carriers on the flow chart of the family tree who just prayed that the man on the horse knew what he was doing and that the campaign would be over in time to get the harvest in before winter. For every lady so and so with a few silks and jewels in the dower chest there had to have been hundreds of mothers and wives who were praying that their man made it home, the battle down the valley didn’t end up in the barley fields or the orchard, and that the soldiers eyeing the storehouses weren’t too hungry.

I can’t prove it, but for every possible lord of the manor perched on a branch of the family tree, there’s probably a horse thief, pick pocket, cutpurse or two who avoided dangling from his branch by being transported to the Western colonies as a convict or indentured servant.

More than a few blanks in the family tree have to represent wives and daughters who discovered that the vow “until death do us part” or family loyalty included several weeks of being tossed about on one of the little wooden ships of the day with the hope that a home in the new world be better than the old; or at least no worse. They traded the open fields of the midlands for the dark forests of the Atlantic Coast. The craggy Scottish seacoasts for mid Atlantic colonial farms or shops.

There’s a good chance that the last pieces of my family puzzle arrived from Northern Ireland via Liverpool during the last of the Irish potato famine. My great, great grandmother Margaret Clinton landed in New York in 1850. Somehow, over the next few years she made her way to a marriage in Indiana by way of Tennessee. Over the years the growing family made its way west through Minnesota and finally fetched up in The Dalles, Oregon just before the turn of the century. It’s hard to take in; Ireland to Oregon in less than fifty years.

If you happen to be reading this your family made it through our bad harvests, isolation, more wars, various colonial border wars, European spill over wars, a revolution, another Civil War, depressions, elations and the westward migration.

It’s all profit after that.

Monday, March 15, 2010


During the Viet Nam era anti war group finally learned a hard lesson. It sank in that if a new recruit had miraculous access to weapons and a sure fire plan to use them he or she was probably a paid informant for the bureau or the company. Maybe both.

The armed, possibly dangerous and vocal anarchists on the right or left don't scare me near as much as the quiet ones. Hey, everything I know about running an underground operation I learned from reading the funny papers. Seriously, if I was planning armed opposition to the government I wouldn't be buying my guns in the mall, I wouldn't be speaking to a reporter, from any news organization; sympathetic or otherwise, any tattoos I had would be where nobody could see them, and no booze or drugs.

If the elected hired help was half as organized as these folks seem to think it is and the martial law scenario they fear is credible, the lists are already drawn up. Not the lists of people to be arrested after martial law is declared. The lists of people to be arrested before the boots march and the borders are closed. They'll be the ones paraded before the cameras to justify the crack down. Do the words sacrificial lamb ring a bell?

While we're busy keeping our eyes on the loud ones, who's watching out for the quiet ones?

Oh, and an open memo to the military officer in question. The military serves as the discretion of the civilian authority in this country. Civilians make policy, no matter how inept it may seem at the time. Break with that tradition an we just might have an earthquake in Kansas as a former five star general/president makes his displeasure known. I wouldn't want to face a wrathful Eisenhower. There's at least one history book that claims the man could give swearing lessons to longshoreman. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during that session.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are You Kidding? Facebook?

I'll be out of town for a few days, probably not posting.  Hopefully taking some good flower photos at Dallas Blooms.  But, as usual, I need some friendly advice from any readers who care to play along.  Yesterday I did something I've been womanfully resisting - I joined My Face..... er.... I mean, Facebook. I haven't thought I needed any other ways to remain seated at a keyboard (sometimes I feel like those people in WallE, whose legs had atrified because they just sat at consoles playing games all day - not that I EVER play games, but I do write a lot) and Facebook seems to be a  timesucking black hole.  So, I don't know what came over me, but I idly called up the sign-up page, and....evil spirits typed me in.  Now I have a Facebook page that I have no notion what to do with.  Mystifyingly, though quite wonderfully, almost immediately a gang of former students from my high school teaching days forty years ago in Dallas appeared out of the Great Void wanting to be Friends (in Facebook terms).  How does this happen?  How did Facebook know they knew me?  How did it know I knew them?  Is this witchcraft, or what? Oddly, nobody from my own high school, nor university, dropped out of that ectoplasmic void.  Maybe they've all left the planet.

I have this blog, as well as Quid Nunc? and if I want to ever write there, The Blue Voice, as well as a private personal blog.  Clearly I don't need anywhere else to actually write.  Facebook doesn't appear to be about writing.  So far most of the things that have appeared on my Wall have been incomprehensible postings about games people are playing on a continuing basis, Farmville, Vampire Wars.  Do I need this? I'll give it a while, see what else happens.  Any creative advice is more than welcomed. I may check in from Dallas, but most likely not.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Friday Photo

I took this picture during a previous snow, but in this morning's three or four inches, St Francis and his birds looked even more baffled by what was happening.  In fact, when Gail looked out at him, she said "Doesn't he look like he's saying 'What The F.'?"  And, yes, that's just exactly how he looked.  We all kind of looked like that, as this was entirely unexpected here in town, but quite beautiful and totally gone by about three p.m.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Club Report, First Book Discussion

Since I began my book club adventure with an appeal to readers of this blog to tell me of their book club experiences, I thought it would be only fair to report in, now that I seem to be launched into this. As I previously reported, the book chosen for our first read was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, something I would never in a month of Sundays have picked up to read of my own choice.  However, almost against my will, I madly loved it.  It's not great literature, but it's a damn good read, a book that crawled right up into my heart, made me laugh out loud as well as tear up a time or two, and feel sad and reluctant when I had to turn the last page. The characters in this epistolary novel were so beautifully delineated through their letters and notes that they were alive and breathing, real and very quirky human beings. 

So, last night the neighborhood women in this book club gathered in Carla's cozy living room to discuss The Guernsey Literary Society, with Paula leading the discussion.  I already knew from our emails that several of the other women loved the book as much as I did (and I knew that Gail did because we read in the same house and have our own discussions right here) but in fact every one of us felt the same way.  The discussion was lively, intelligent, heartfelt, with only a few digressions (and I for one often find digressions quite interesting).  For me one of the best parts of the evening was discovering how interesting and simp├ítica these neighborhood women are.  I knew one of them fairly well, from political co-conspiring during the 2008 elections, but the rest have up till now been people I wave and smile at when we cross paths walking dogs, having yard sales, riding bikes, and so forth. After just two meetings with the purpose of reading together, I feel that we can actually become more than acquaintances, may ultimately become friends.

The most difficult part of last night was figuring out the choice of a new book for next month. It's next to impossible to find a book no one has yet read, and one that we're all interested in reading.  Finally we settled on The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, which Gail and I have actually read.  It was Nancy's strong choice, and she was willing to lead the discussion; so it was late, we were tired, and all said yes to it.  I will have to browse this book again to refresh my memory.  It's quite a compelling novel, especially for someone who lived through pre-Civil Rights days in the South:  Texas, North Carolina and Washington D.C. in my case. It's garnered some controversy, but is still one of the most popular reads in the country after several months as a bestseller. Our own Women On writer Cynthia of the blog Sorting The Pieces read and reviewed it earlier this year, her post will give readers a good idea of the power of this book.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Angry, Armed, Dangerous, and Self-Righteous

I started to post this as a comment on Lisa's last post, "On The Level of Anger" then realized that it might get longer than a comment. This isn't really even a post, as much as a collection of links to direct readers to the hair-raising research I've been scrolling through in recent days. I think, perhaps, that Lisa's ending line in her post: "It could be that we're already there (hell, that is)" might in fact be the truth of this matter. Having breakfast this weekend at our favorite breakfasting hole, which also has a great magazine rack as well as great pancakes and huevos rancheros, I saw the cover story on Mother Jones, skimmed it while snarfing my eggs and green chile, then came home and read the complete article online. If Oath-Keepers And The Age Of Treason doesn't make your teeth chatter, you can go check out the Southern Poverty Law Center's report referenced in the Mother Jones article: Rage on the Right, The Year in Hate and Extremism for more reasons to quiver in your boots:
The anger seething across the American political landscape — over racial changes in the population, soaring public debt and the terrible economy, the bailouts of bankers and other elites, and an array of initiatives by the relatively liberal Obama Administration that are seen as "socialist" or even "fascist" — goes beyond the radical right. The "tea parties" and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.
  A blogger I have admired for some time now, David Niewert, has been dedicating his attention to the influence of "hate talk" and the rise of the "patriot" militia movement in this country on his blog, in books and articles for years.  He is referenced in the Mother Jones article and is currently writing for the political blog Crooks and Liars, his most recent post here. 

Jackie began this thread with her post "I'll Take What I Can Get," where she posited her belief that the Tea Partiers aren't as strong as the letter she quoted seemed to believe.  I think, however, that this assortment of aggrieved, pissed-off, and downright crazy (IMHO) groups is a lot stronger, and more dangerous than we might assume.  Here in my town, Albuquerque, NM, every utility pole I pass has an announcement on bright yellow paper stapled to it advertising the Tea Party Rally at the IRS main office on April 15th. For the last Townhall Meeting our First District Representative held some months back (on Health Care Reform) I heard an announcement on our local NPR station (imagine that) urging Tea Party voters to attend, and encouraging them TO BRING THEIR GUNS AND WEAR THEM WHERE THEY COULD BE SEEN.  At a time when these folk fly planes into IRS office buildings, attack guards at the door of the Pentagon, and who knows what actions are yet to come, I for one am taking hate and extremism pretty friggin' seriously.

Posts in this thread are as follows:
1. I'll Take What I Can Get
2. Violence Against Public Servants
3. On The.Level of Anger
4. This very post.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On The Level of Anger

"It's the level of anger out there that scares the green water out of me. And the fact that angry people can so easily be armed,"
Mary Ellen wrote in the thread following her post, " Violence Against Public Servants."

A few days later, I read a post by an old AOL friend, one whose politics are and have always been diametrically opposite to mine (and yet we somehow managed to "like" each other, as much as cyber-acquaintances are able, anyway…) This normally articulate and introspective person took off on a heated rant against something with which she disagreed (to put it mildly.) I was shocked by her words of rabid fury and complete demonization of the party positioned opposite to her personal ideology. It was angry and it was ugly and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, as if sensing a personal threat.

It was then the thought occurred to me: That's IT. The level of anger. Every day, everywhere, all over America, we are angry. We are goaded into that constant state of agitation, bombarded every minute with images and sound bites spewed forth by our intrepid 24/7/365 media. Many planted by political forces who find it so easy, and so in their best interests, to sow seeds of rage in those media that will bear fruit as rabid, brain-washed soldiers in whatever army of intolerance they choose to recruit. Ask yourself: In whose best interest is it to make sure the general population is ignorant, angry, and armed? I don't have an answer to that question. It seems to me that neither side could feel safe, in that instance.

Anger is poisonous. There are only two possible outlets for such corrosive emotion: It's either released violently upon other beings, or it consumes the host from the inside out. Anger is a self-absorbed, blinding, crippling disease of the soul. Why are we so eager to allow people we don't know and who really have nothing to do with us personally, to inflict a plague of fury on us?

Until we can defuse that anger, until we choose respect and tolerance, generosity and compromise, this nation—this society—is going nowhere. Except, maybe, to hell.

Or it could be we're already there.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


One of my nephews asked for some help last week for a school assignment. Could we give him some information or stories about our family history? What the heck, I went for a short term membership in Ancestry.com and started looking up names. Luckily, one of my uncles had already done some research so I had some names and dates to work with. It got really interesting real fast.

Just for the heck of it I’m going to post what I found here. Part of this is purely selfish. We have readers from all over, and who knows, maybe somebody will recognize a name or a date. Some problems that I did run into. I get the feeling that my family was born with a double or triple dose of itchy feet. After 1800, nobody got married in the state he or she was born in. And nobody stayed in the state he or she was born in. A William Elmore was born on the east coast, probably Pennsylvania, about 1798. By 1905 his grandson was in Roseburg, Oregon by way of Indiana, Kansas and Colorado. According to another family tree I hooked up with, his brothers and sisters were named Robert, Elizabeth and Mary Ann.

He married a Sarah Caroline Taylor in 1821 in what would become West Virginia. The couple had six children. James Larkin in 1823, William Jefferson in 1824, Alpheus 1826, Elizabeth A in 1831, Robert T in 1831, and Mary E in 1842. Sometime after the birth of their last child and before his death after 1870 William Elmore moved to Indiana

In the 1840’s two of the sons, James Larkin and Alpheus, moved to Ohio. Interestingly enough, the two brothers met two sisters from the Foster family; Dorcas and Jemima. James married Dorcas and Alpheus married Jemima. James was my great, great, grandfather.

According to census information on Ancestry.com James and Dorcas had a houseful of children including my great grandfather Seymour R Elmore. Other brothers and sisters included Lewis, Margaret, James, Caswell, and Srina. Over the years the family lived in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. No real information about how he made a living. Probably a farmer. J The family seems to run heavily to farmers.

Dorcas Foster was born in 1829 in Ohio. She died in 1912 and rests in Ingalls, Oklahoma. We have a letter she wrote to great granddad in 1907. She wrote vaguely about coming west to visit the family in Oregon, but I doubt anything came of it. Decent handwriting, interesting grammar and spelling. I suspect she spelled the way she pronounced the words. Bin for been, crick for creek, that sort of thing. She must have written it in the summer or early fall. The weather’s hot. Most of the garden produce is either dried or in the jars. She must have had an orchard because she talks about the fruit she’s put up that season. Some friends must have known she was going to write because she asks if the land in Oregon is good for farming and if the “price is dear.” There’s rumors of the “black smallpox” (a real disease, a hemorrhagic form of small pox) in the neighborhood. And that it’s more deadly that “the cholery” (cholera). Diseases we don’t have to worry about anymore. How times have changed.

Seymour R Elmore was born in 1861 in Iowa. He went by Sam, can’t imagine why. He married in the 1880’s. Officially great grandma was Elisabeth Isabelle Hadley. But, in every entry I can find she was Lizzy B. Her parents were Joseph and Mary Hadley. We do have battered copy of the New Testament and Psalms stamped A J Hadley 1862 with the written inscription “civil war.” So he must have served during that war. And here I spent a lot of time trying to find A J Hadley or A Joseph Hadley only to find out that whoever stamped the testament got the initials turned around. He was Joseph Addison. Go figure. Just thankful someone held onto that poor battered little book.

The Seymour and Lizzy B had six children. Three in Kansas, one in Colorado and the last two, including my grandmother Edith, in Roseburg. Family history says great granddad worked for a rail road company, don’t know which one though. After Roseburg, they moved up to Donald (that's wide spot in the road up in the northwest corner of Oregon) and bought a farm. The couple finally ended up in Eugene. Mom remembers a small house on a double lot.

There were a lot of berries and a big garden. The house had straight chairs and a couple rockers. All the clothes were kept in chests, no closets, according to mom grandpa made his own rag rugs and that was what they had on the floor. The house was built before indoor plumbing so great grandma used a pump at the dry sink and heated her water with the wood stove. Oh, and an outhouse. The house had a full basement and that’s were the furnace, the laundry and several years worth of canned goods were stored. Grandma made her own butter and if it came out too light she’d soak a carrot in it for awhile to color it up.

I stumbled across another family tree with ties to the Elmores. It takes the family back to the early sixteen hundreds. Family names from the 1700's also include Todd, Stafford, and Ellyson. Frankly, the closer it gets to 1600 the more I was going “unh hunh, maybe.” All during the colonial years and the revolution the family stayed pretty close to the east coast. One generation and no British army to keep them east of the Allegheny's and the cork was out of the bottle. Two generations and we were on the west coast.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh Happy Day!!!

Cynthia calls them "appreciations," Alphawoman calls them "Grace in small things" and tries to list some every day. When I do them I call them "gratitudes" and usually post them in my private journal, far less often than every day.  They are the small wonders that make life bearable, even sometimes good, or better than good, if we're lucky. I had no intention of posting any gratitudes today, I had a lot to do this morning, including getting to the grocery store before I get dressed and turn into a professional woman and go off to teach my class. So, I hied myself to Albertson's because it's Ten Percent Discount for Senior Citizens (also known as Old People) Day and I try to stock up on nonperishable stuff once a month with that discount.  And it was right there as I was walking past the ice cream freezers that a mighty big gratitude appeared unto me, so I'll list it first:

1. Two guys were unloading cartons of something that they were loudly proclaiming to be a "new ice cream."  Well, yes, for New Mexico I guess it is.  For a Texan born and bred, it isn't.  I had read this online, and now it has come to pass:  Blue Bell Ice Cream is available in Albuquerque. One of the guys gave me a little sample cup of Homemade Vanilla, the very best of their flavors, and I threw a pint of the same into my cart.  Blue Bell is made in Brenham, TX, in the middle of some of the purtiest bluebonnet country there is,  and is the national ice cream of my home state, and should be the national ice cream of all fifty states, because as the company proclaims quite truthfully, it is "The best ice cream in the country."
2. The sun is shining brightly and warmly and today it truly does feel as if we may have seen the last of winter.

3.  The yard is full of robins.

4. My new running shoes, although of course I only walk in them, are great - supportive and fast, I feel like an athlete when I put them on.

5. I am taking cupcakes to class today, as three of my students have birthdays this week.

And now I have to go turn into a Real Person, get out of my jeans and sweatshirt and head off to UNM.  With Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream in the freezer for dessert tonight. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Violence Against Public Servants

This is more on Jackie's post "I'll Take What I Can Get" a few days ago.  This is an email I received this morning from PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an organization that I revere. Clearly the IRS is not an environmental organization, but the recent attack on the IRS in Austin has the environmental government employees worried again.

Dear MaryEllen:

In the early '90s, conservative castigation of "over-reaching" by the federal government rose to a crescendo. One Republican U.S. Senator referred to EPA employees as "jack-booted thugs," other Members encouraged physical resistance against federal regulation - especially environmental rules. Right-wing militias sprouted up in every state.

In the West, federal biologists and rangers were targeted. One ranger based in Nevada had both his office and his home firebombed; the Forest Service relocated him saying it could not guarantee his safety. Federal employees were advised not to travel alone or wear their uniforms in public.

Spurred to action, anti-government terrorists blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, mostly federal workers but also children in a day-care center on the ground floor.

Following that tragedy, the virulent anti-government rhetoric subsided… until lately.

In February, Joseph Stack flew a plane into a building housing IRS and other federal workers in Austin, Texas. Hours later, a Facebook page appeared under the "Don't Tread on Me" flag being waved at Tea Party events. Here are some of the comments posted:

"Mr. Stack is a true American hero."

"When does terrorism become patriotism?"

"Joe Stack had the balls to make a point - and his point certainly received international attention."

"If I were in that building…I would have been honored to die for a good cause that would finally at least open up some eyes."

Experts cite a direct correlation between threats and attacks on public employees and agency enforcement efforts - especially on resource protection issues.

PEER has been tracking attacks and threats against eco-employees ever since Oklahoma City and we maintain the only such database.

The threat of violence against public servants did not hibernate over the past 15 years but it can escalate when fueled by irresponsible statements from politicians seeking to co-opt the latest populist trend.

Support our efforts to monitor and combat this dangerous undercurrent before it builds to another ugly catharsis. Help us protect the public servants who protect our environment.