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Friday, May 31, 2019

Not a review of William Kent Krueger's Sulfur Springs



 
William Kent Krueger is one of my favorite Minnesota authors. There are many such authors, both male and female, who write in diverse genres, usually set in Minnesota. As you know, when a book is placed in a location that you’re familiar with, it helps to bring it alive.  Krueger basically writes detective stories.  The background is often in Minnesota's forested lake country, known as Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Lake Superior or the nearby towns of the Iron Range. In Sulfur Springs Cork O'Connor, Krueger's protagonist and former Sheriff, has a new wife named Rainy.  She is an Ojibwe.  Cork is partly Indian and mostly Irish. In Sulfur Springs, Rainy’s son calls from Arizona and tells his mom that he has murdered someone, mentions one name and the phone goes dead. Cork, now retired from the detective business, and Rainy rush off to Arizona to help. There they encounter an environment far different from the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota. In this alien environment they find out that her missing son is part of a group(Coyotes) who try to rescue refugees from Guatemala fleeing from wars and extreme poverty, all to seek refuge in America.   These families are often left to die waterless and lost in the desert by scammers who take their money and abandon them. Blocking their way, besides the desert, are the beginnings of real walls and barbed wire, border patrols and vigilantes.  Besides the vigilantes, there are also the drug traffickers who all have their own reasons for building higher walls, or in the case of the vigilantes and the drug traffickers, killing people. In plain English, the refugees are people crossing through a war zone. The story inside this  Krueger's mystery is a tragedy writ large in the place far away from Minnesota. This issue divides our country ever further between the red and blue states of America.

I recently met William Kent Krueger in our town library. The taxpayers of Minnesota passed a legacy amendment referendum raising our state taxes for protection of the environment as well as cultural and art support. Mr. Krueger has visited a number of town libraries because of that referendum. I arrived at the Spring Valley's public library early to speak to our librarian and her aides when through the door the famous New York Times best-selling author arrived to set up for his presentation. I greeted him and we spoke for about 10 minutes. We compared a few notes on both of our living at one point in St. Paul, and I said at the end of his presentation I was going to ask him a question. He then said I should ask him now, and I'm glad I did because after his presentation he was surrounded by fans and people clamoring to buy his most recent yet unpublished book.  I said something like this, "Surely you had to know that you would get bad reviews and comments and perhaps even threats for writing about refugees crossing from Mexico into the United States in Sulfur Springs? His answer in a nutshell was to nod his head and say ‘Yes.’ ‘Why,’ I asked and he explained. I can't remember his exact words, but they were what I wanted to hear. He cared. It was an issue that touched him deeply and he needed to write this book. And he did.

His actual presentation, at least for the first half, was quite a surprise. He never mentioned his own books but talked about libraries and books and their great influence on all of us in our early childhood. There were many parents and grandparents in the audience so he spoke of how those early books that our parents read to us had a powerful influence on us for the rest of our lives.  He explained and reviewed the impact of Dr. Seuss and  other authors like him. The audience even could mimic his words as they anticipated his punchlines. The audience was enthralled. Later he talked about his books and his experiences and how he wrote and what was coming and answered all the questions that his fans wanted to hear about. I didn't ask any more questions and when I left ahead of the crowd, I thank the taxpayers of Minnesota for making this special evening possible and William Kent Krueger for being there. And since then I've finished reading all his books and can tell you, if you love a good detective story, now you'll know where to find quite a few.

 Cork O'Connor, the hero of many of Krueger's books has  a favorite beer. I hate to say it's brewed in. But it’s my favorite as well. The brewery is in in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Some years ago I bought a Lienies hat at the brewery and wore it for more than a decade till it recently fell all apart. It was white and red so I won't try to Trump or change anything about this not a review but plainly the books references to refugees and walls might seem out of today's headlines. But what I'm concerned about today is getting a new red and white hat and I've located several.  So I could drive over to Wisconsin and get a new one or perhaps the following might example might serve just as well and so here is perhaps even better alternative. The colors are right though it doesn't say make America great again. I remember reading Orwell's 1984 when I was in high school in the 1950s. The literary reference to that book  might just as well apply today. What you think?        


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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Dogs Journey



Serendipity means a happy coincidence of effects and  circumstances. Recently, after a long morning at Cottagewood, where was the usual reports about Barb falling repreatedly usually out of her confinement to a wheelchair. That night she was found on the floor in her room about 2 AM facing the bed and yelling for me to come and rescue her. My suggestions of having her where her walking shoes during the day to help give her some balance and have assisted morning walks ran up against various state laws and local protocols and all the usual excuses and mumbo-jumbo. After lunch somewhat giving up, I decided to go to a movie based on a book I'd  read some years ago.  So I went to see a Dog’s Journey the dearly. The next day  at 11 o'clock I had an appointment with Dr. Kirsch who told me my hope for  the  right knee sometime in July was off  due to my recent bout with pseudo-gout and more specifically the cortisone shot which over night ended my desire to meet St. Peter at the pearly gates. It seems cortisone reduces the ability of the body to fight off infections. I guess that explains why both Barb and I for years after left knee replacements had to take antibiotic pills whenever we visited the dentist. I asked the doctor how serious the risk was of going had with the surgery and his reply basically was “well, you  get an infection there and we’ll probably have to amputate you right leg”. Hmmm I guess I’ll wait till September…..

This is not intended to be what Stacy, my very wise cleaning lady and EMT, calls a “pity party” nor some extraneous “drama”which I am getting rid of by writing about a dog movie.. The movie began about 1: 30 and I found myself all alone in the theater both literally and figuratively.  The scene was a farm we see  a beautiful young woman and mom of a little girl. The mom lost her husband in the war in Iraq. Now she was drinking too much and paying little or no attention to her child. The grandparents offered to raise the little girl, and instead their daughter took her child planning never to return to the farm so she could a musical career life in the big city. The catch to this story is all about Bailey, the beloved dog of the grandparents. Bailey had already adopted and protected the little girl. Given the mission to protect the little girl we see  Bailey return to protect her in the form of a series of other dogs who carry on his life and mission.

Pretty sappy I guess but in our family there was Max our first dog, and big guy a. K. A. Baron our first German Shepherd and Ethan our oldest grandson and several other coincidences of names and circumstances. Halfway through the movie sitting in the seat for two I lost it. Later, on the way out unbeknownst to me, there was an elderly couple in the theater. Out in the parking lot the lady came up behind me and said “your a dog lover like us aren’t you?” I could only nod in response, while thinking that's just a small part of it.This movie hit a too close to home.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Starry Stary Night

 
Dear fellow bloggers and friends, I am writing tonight about yesterday’s visit to Mrs. T’s memory care facility at Cottagewood. It’s actually a story I’ve titled  “Starry Starry Night”after French artist Vincent van Goghs painting of the same name. The song itself is named Vincent by Don Mclean.
I and Barb were discussing with the head nurse Chris, Barb’s numerous recent falls. The issue was simply what to do to keep her safe and if possible avoid permanently assigning her to a wheelchair. During this lengthy semi successful discussion I finally heard some music from the commons room around the fireplace. Taking Barb’s hand we chose to follow the music.
Finding a seat in a large circle involving most of the residents and their aides and caretakers we focused on a large boned blonde woman beautifully singing as she played her guitar. Her companion, also in his 50s was quite short with thick glasses and looked to me like a retired hippy the from an earlier decade. He also was playing his guitar while occasionally pounding on it for rhythm. He also sang quite well. She asked the audience for any further suggestions on what they could play. No response. So I raise my hand and volunteered the notion of some “golden oldies”. That’s the phrase I had used and previously writing about the Valentine’s day where we got rock ‘n roll from the pianist and later waltzes for the Dementia land luncheon with your sweetheart and Ball .
This time though, I’m not exactly sure how to describe the music, let’s just call it old time hip big city folk music from decades ago. Some of the audience was sleeping, some watching and listening and a very few tapping, smiling and singing along. It was all good. And then….
And then I heard the phrase which they were both singing, “Starry Starry Night.” And I put my face in my hands, listened and then began to cry. I don’t believe anyone except the female guitarist noticed my reaction at first but in any case she kept on going and so did I. As the song concluded I stood up and approached her to thank her and she nodded and pointed to her husband. As I approached him he held out his hand and said”I know”and I said bipolar. And the name? Ted. Then she approached and gave me a hug and said”I’m so sorry, we will play it again for you at the end. Later, when she looked at her watch, I waved my finger and shook my head no and she nodded and I requested American pie. The audience smiled and Barb and I stood up to dance as we had when Don McLean sang the some years ago in the Rochester Civic Auditorium.  Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
Everyone has been guessing the meaning of all these words since forever. That song is  now is legend.
Oh, could that man could sing and composed the songs  he sang and for others as well. Often to be their greatest hits. Roberta Flack   sang her greatest hit “ killing me softly with his song, ” with these words 
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song Killing me softly with his song
It was about McLean.  Ending this story with one of Barb and my favorite songs composed and sung by Don Mclean. AND I LOVE YOU SO.    I played our piano back in the day and we both sang that song.......

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Daniel Boone and Troutbirder

Daniel Boone American explorer and Frontiersman extraordinaire saves Troutbirder from humiliation and find his way home.   Double click on Mark Twain above for details.....

Friday, April 19, 2019

For Easter and Ecumenical dialogue



A religious dialogue between an evangelical Baptist, my beautiful loving daughter-in-law Deanne and myself Troutbirder who is perhaps a skeptic or even a secular humanist. The dialogue that follows stems from my noting to  Deanne some of my favorite parts of the New Testament. Well, I have some issues with the Old as with that eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth stuff. Each part of the dialogue begins with my comments some favorite passages and Deanne’s take on those comments. Enjoy or comment on them in the comments section yourself. :-) Remember however this is not red state versus blue state stuff, nor zero sum debates but between two people who love and care for each other.

  Hi Ray!

 

I'm presently at my 2nd of 3 jobs I have.  My client  was born with a rare chromosomal handicap. .  He spent the first 5 months of his life at Children's hospital.  I was blessed to start working with him when he finally came home--a little "peanut" of a boy, with a sweet smile and pretty auburn hair.  He's my dear "Billy"  I just love him to pieces and am truly blessed to know him and his family.

 

 

Speaking of "blessed,"  the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible (Matthew 5).  It truly makes sense that you love that chapter, as well, Ray.  From your insight on each verse, backed up by the way you have lived, one can easily see you have a deep passion (from God, I believe) to help and advocate for the less fortunate--the ones who suffer...the lost...the lonely...the disabled...the weak...the poor...the unprotected...the vulnerable...the overlooked...the forgotten.  I have ALWAYS seen Jesus in you, Ray--but reading your take on the Beatitudes, definitely added another dimension to the beauty of your soul. 

 Not that my opinion matters, but since you asked me to comment on your take on the Beatitudes, I will do so now, for you...

 

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  I think that may mean something about depression.  And I know it saved you and Barb when Ted went there to be with God.  Thank you for saying that, Ray.  When Ted went to Heaven, not only was my husband gone but so were my dreams and my future.  That's why it took me so long to regain my footing because TED had been my footing.  I had to turn my pain, depression, and FUTURE over to Jesus or I would have never made it.  Being "poor in spirit" meant relying solely on Jesus--the only One who could heal my pain and give me HOPE again.  And He did.  From that whole heart-wrenching trauma I came to realize REALITY that we are ALL passing away...that we are all dying.  And I can't tie my anchor onto anyone or anything that is passing away. I can only tie it onto the One who gave His life for me and is preparing a place for me in eternity.  Two of my favorite Bible verses are John 3:16-17, which I'm sure you know: 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

 

"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." That also covers the previous one.  I also know I've had a share of that business in my life.  Yes, you have, Ray.  Mental illness is no respecter of persons and it has dug it's ugly claws into too many of your beloved family members.  I can't IMAGINE the anguish you've had to endure, especially with losing your beloved son.   I do so hope the Lord comforted you in those valleys of darkness and carried you in His loving arms until the sun (AND Son) shone on your face again.

 

"Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the earth."  I hope that's true for they deserve it the most.  You are soooo right, Ray.  Ok--here comes my fiery opinion...(watch out!wink)  It is this point that makes me righteously angry with BOTH the republican and democratic parties.  Both parties talk out of both sides of their mouths. Scripture AND the constitution are clear that ALL life is important and valuable--whether you're of the 97% who are born with no birth defects or of the 3% who ARE born with so-called defects, whether you're Christian or Atheist or Muslim, whether you're one skin color or another, whether you're heterosexual or homosexual, whether you're a woman or a man or unsure of your gender, whether you live within the  "walls" of the United States or outside the "walls" of the United States, whether you live within the "wall" of a womb or on the outside of the "wall" of a womb...ALL life is important.   And I, too, hope the MEEKEST of the meek possess the earth someday.  The last WILL be first.

 

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."  Another core value for me and it should as well be for our country and many others.  But as a country we have failed that many times because of many things including prejudice racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. etc.    I completely agree.  And I would also add in there that this country has failed because of greed, selfishness, and disrespect for God and for our neighbor.

 

"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  Yes indeed, the good Samaritan.  I love that story of the Good Samaritan.  Did you know that in Jesus' day, the Samaritans were looked down upon because they weren't purebred?  (That goes back to when the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes of Israel and many of the areas of those regions--AKA, Samaria became "mixed" then).  Yet, it was the "unclean" and "mixed" person from Samaria who helped the half-dead traveler on the road.  We ALL need to be good Samaritans!  The world would definitely become a better place if we did!

 

"Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God."  I'm not sure what clean means here but under my sainted mother's direction I was a long time member of the clean plate club.  Hahahahaha!!!!  I love your sense of humor!  But back to the verse,  I think "clean of heart" here means asking God to forgive us of our sins and then seeking to do what God wants.  I always think of Psalm 51 when David was so remorseful for his sins and he cried out to God, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

 

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."  The very best people in the world who follow the teachings of Jesus, and knowing what I know now, would not have volunteered to fight in Vietnam nor any of our subsequent wars.  Word war II yes--it was a fight against an evil man in system, including the Holocaust, likely the worst kind ever.  Trying to exterminate one religion by another tribe on the basis of race and religion.  I really don't think I have the right to comment on this one because I don't know much about ANY war except World War II, and I was never deeply rooted in a military family.  My dad was in the National Guard and so was Troy, but otherwise, I really don't take a side on anything with the wars (mainly because I'm ignorant--unlike you, who knows a lot). I DO respect your opinion, though, on this matter.  But back to the verse,  Jesus says that any who try to make peace shall be called children of God.  I don't know about anyone else, but I  certainly want to be a child of God so I will do all I can to be at peace with everyone.  The writer of Hebrews reiterated the statement, when he wrote, "14Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD." (Hebrews 12:14). And you're more than right about the Holocaust (of the Jews or ANY other group of people) being BRUTAL, inhumane, and EVIL.  Hitler and his wicked cohorts are definitely reaping now what they sowed during their time on earth.  They were NOT children of God--and because of that, they are in a place where God IS NOT.

 

"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Well, justice and mercy have somewhat been covered so I will mention heaven.  I mostly believe that heaven and hell are here on earth as God gave us the ability to make choices; thus heaven is here on earth and is made by mankind's choice of love or hate. My take on the verse is that Jesus for-warned us  that anyone who follows Him WILL be persecuted-- It's a given.  And as the end draws closer, evil will continue to ramp up and will try to snuff out Jesus' commands of "Love God first" and "Love your neighbor as yourself," and also His Great Commission to spread the Good News about Him.   But we WILL be rewarded in the end for following Him, believing in Him, and for receiving Him as our Lord and Savior.  In my beloved mother's obituary it was stated that all her suffering (which can be synonymous with persecution) had been replaced with the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  

 

Moving on to your take on "the kingdom of heaven"--it's interesting!  Thank you for confiding in  me, in writing, and also in person, your "beliefs" on heaven and hell.   Do you mind if  I share with you another segment of favorite Scripture verses (I have a gazillion, by the wayteeth_smile).  In John 14, Jesus is comforting His disciples.  They know He is about to die soon.  This is what He says:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going'

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7

 

Just as Jesus was comforting His disciples with this assurance, He also comforts ME with these promises that He's coming back one day to take me to my new Home--my permanent Home with Him (and with Ted and my mom and grandma and with YOUR mom and dad).  I can't wait!  But until that day happens, I have a lot of living to do yet here and a lot of GIVING to do yet unto others.  --NOT because my salvation depends on it but because I WANT to do it in joyful response to what Jesus did for me.   I am saved because I have a SAVIOR--and one day I will reside with Him WHEREVER Heaven is located.

 

So how did I do on my commentary??  Yes, I admit I'm opinionated, but hey--I DO have a mind, a heart, and a will of my own!  God made each of us uniquely--made in His image, but still UNIQUE.  I'm glad I'm unique.  And I'm glad YOU'RE unique, too, Ray.

 

 Blessed are the...  blessed is ME!!  --To have a Savior, to have life, to have love, and to have BEAUTIFUL people in my life like you, Barb, and Ted.   I hope you feel blessed, too, Ray!!

 

I would love to come to church with you one of these upcoming Sundays in March!  I'm going to shoot for March 17 or March 24th.  I would feel honored to attend with you, hear the sermon, greet your fellow Spring Valley Methodists, and have Sunday treats with the friendly female parishioners.  Sounds like it would be a perfect start to a new week!  I will talk to you about it soon.

 

Hope you have a joy-filled weekend, Ray! 

I love you!

--Deanne

Deanne and Mrs. T. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Not a book Review of Sulfur Springs

 
William Kent Krueger is one of my favorite Minnesota authors. There are many such authors, both male and female who write in diverse genres usually set Minnesota. As you know,  when a book is placed in a location or environment your familiar with, it helps to bring it alive.   Krueger writes basically detective stories.  The background is often in Minnesota's forested Lake country,  Boundary Waters Canoe  Area, Lake superior or the nearby towns of the Iron Range. Cork O'Connor, Krueger's protagonist and former Sheriff has a new wife named Rainy.  She is an Ojibwa.  Cork is partly Indian and mostly Irish. Her son calls from Arizona and tells his mom that he has murdered someone, mentions one name and the phone goes dead. Cork, now retired from the detective business and Rainy rush off to  Arizona  to help. There they encounter in environment far different from the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota. In this alien environment they find out that her missing son is part of a group(coyotes) who try to rescue refugees from Guatemala  fleeing from wars and extreme poverty, all to seek refuge in America.    These families  are often  left waterless and lost in the desert by scammers who take their money and abandon them. Blocking their way  their way besides the desert   are the beginnings of real walls and barbed wire, border patrols and vigilantes.  Besides the vigilantes  there are the drug traffickers all have their own reasons for building higher walls or in the case of the vigilantes and the drug traffickers killing people. In plain English, the refugees are people   are crossing through a war zone. The story inside this authors mystery is a tragedy writ large in the place far away from Minnesota which divides our country ever further between the  red and blue states of America divided.
I recently met William Kent Krueger in our small town library. The taxpayers of Minnesota past a legacy amendment referendum raising our state taxes for protection of the environment and cultural and art support. Mr. Krueger visited a number of towns libraries because of that referendum. I arrived to the library early to speak to our librarian and her aides and  through the door the famous New York Times best-selling author arrived for his presentation. I greeted him and we spoke for about 10 minutes as he set up for his presentation. We compared a few notes on our both at one point living in St. Paul and I said at the end of his presentation I was going to ask him a question. So he then replied will ask me now and I'm glad I did because that the and he was surrounded by fans and people clamoring to buy his most recent yet unpublished book. Was something like this, "surely you had to know that you would get bad reviews and comments and perhaps even threats for writing on this topic? His answer in a nutshell was to nod his head and say yes. Why, I asked and he explained. I can't remember his exact words so I'll make them up but they were what I wanted to hear. He cared. It was an issue that touched him deeply and he needed to write this book. And he did.
His actual book talk, at least for the first half was quite a surprise. He never mentioned his own books but talked about libraries and books and their great influence on all of us in our early childhood years there were many of parents and grandparents in the audience so he spoke of how those early book that our parents read to us had a most powerful influence on us for the rest of our lives. All of those child books but when he explained or reviewed the impact of Dr. Seuss and those like him the audience even could mimic his words as they anticipated his punchlines. The audience was enthralled. Later he talked about his books and his experiences and how he wrote and what was coming and answered all the questions that his fans wanted to hear about. I didn't dance any more questions and when I left ahead of the crowd I think the taxpayers of Minnesota for making this special evening possible and William Kent Krueger for being there. And since then I've finished reading all his books and can tell you if you love a good detective story now you'll know where to find quite a few really good ones
P. S.
Cork O'Connor, the hero of many of Krueger's books has as  a favorite beer. I hate to say it's brewed in our neighboring State of Wisconsin but I might as well. It's brewed in Chippewa Falls. So  some years ago I bought a red and white Lienies hat at the brewery and wore it for more than a decade till it recently fell all a part. I  won't try to trump or change anything about this not a review but plainly Krueger's references to refugees and walls in Sulfur Springs might seem out of today's headlines. But what I'm concerned about today is getting a new red and white hat and I've located several and I could drive over to Wisconsin and get a new one or perhaps the following one pictured might serve just as well and so here is perhaps even better alternative. I think the reference to Orwell's 1984 might be very appropriate for my new hat. Whatcha  think?  



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Spring Ditty

A Mrs. T. often reminded me on April mornings...
"Oh there you are Merry Sunshine,
What makes you rise so soon?
You scared away the little stars
And  shined away the moon.
The grass is green.
The flowers are riz!
Oh! There you are,
you blooming idiot

Okay. So I'd just gotten up and was only slightly cranky. The fact that the weather report for today the 10 of April indicates up to 8 inches of snow this after hasn't helped my mood either...:(

Friday, March 29, 2019

Becoming




So this morning I just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama. This much discussed book is likely or has already been identified as the most read or listened to autobiography/memoir of all time. Some of my former students, of this long retired history teacher would no doubt find it hard to believe, when I say, for this review I’m at a loss for words. What is there to say that won’t sound like a bunch of hackneyed clichés or overdrawn superlatives?' I'll try to choose my words carefully and with restraint.

Becoming is a book exactly about that. How a child and then a young girl grew up first in a racially diverse mostly blue-collar working-class neighborhood on the south side Chicago. Her rock-solid family was anchored by  a father who despite serious physical handicaps worked a full-time job for the city, never complained and brought laughter and fun to all those around him. Then there was her mother, who fostered in her children that with no excuses they should always strive to be the best that they could be. Incidentally, this should always include using proper grammar  Finally, there was an older brother who steadfastly protected his little sister and often paved the way for her on their mutual road to success. As we know, it is often the case that our early childhood sets the template for who we become.

Each following candid chapter reveals more and more of the becoming theme. Michelle’s high school years were marked by the effects of the white migration to the new suburbs. The south side of Chicago began to suffer the effects and trauma of poverty, crime and drugs. The self-actualization of the word "ghetto" only worsened the problems. In the mostly black high school, which Michelle attended, she was asked  "why are you so white?  Grammatically correct English was no doubt a factor there.
 In succeeding chapters we meet a striving young woman who regularly asked herself she was “good enough?” Needless to say she was both while attending an elite Ivy League university and beginning work at a Chicago law firm where she  hoped someday to become “a partner.” Obviously both of these institutions were largely white and mostly male-dominated.

 The next chapters becoming for Michelle involves an unlikely romance and marriage involving two people so different in their upbringing and lifestyle one can hardly imagine  how in the end it all works so well. Of course, the last becoming involves politics and the White House. Here the details are rich and compelling and  include an evolving marriage and raising two girls as normally as possible in the White House. There is some  disdain for politics  at the beginning of the stages but overall  little rancor,  Michelle’s tagline "when they go low, we go high” pretty well sums it all up what is left out in these final chapters. We saw all the lows on national television. The highs in those White House years when a special woman and her family did us all proud.
So now as I promised, without all the superlatives and clichés I could think of, I will  simply say this is the best autobiography/memoir I have ever read. And to those who for whatever reason have yet to read it I believe anyone who approaches this story with an open mind and a little empathy will find it touches the heart.
 


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Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Good Valentines Day in DementiaLand


  It had been most recent Valentines day and I had been invited to  lunch and a party with music, with my special Valentine. When I got there Barb had a new friend to go along with Nancy who held hands, on a regular basis, with Barb who reassured her when  Nancy cries that everything was going to be all right. She also promised to be the matron of honor for another somewhat confused lady who believed she was going to be married at the end of the week. Naturally, Barb volunteered to be her matron of honor.  All of us sat together for Valentines lunch at a big table after I cleared with the authorities that this was okay and seemed no danger to anyone. I also consulted with the pianist who was providing the music and asked if she could play some slow music after lunch, preferably waltzes, so Barb and I could dance. All I could think of was the Tennessee waltz. In the meantime, the pianist was playing golden oldies from the 50s.  My lunch group along with others at other tables seemed to be having a good time and I encouraged my group to guess the songs which were golden oldies and we played guess the name of the song and the singer. All the people with dementia beat me soundly in that game. Some bad jokes on my part, more fun and  then I told them Barb and I were going to dance. And so we did. Alone at first and then several other "mixed"married couples(caretaker and resident) joined us. Finally,  some of the aides began rounding up people from other areas in wheelchairs and brought them to join  the dance party.  Here they held hands h with those in wheelchairs and they danced also. Towards the end as some of the smiling laughing people began to sit down from exhaustion, one of the big shots showed up with the camera and took pictures of the  crowd. Later, I asked for copies and told them with their permission I might advertise their wonderful institution by putting those pictures on my blog. Unfortunately, because this facility is part of a giant corporation they have lawyers, there are some "privacy"issues involved in that . So eventually, I expect to get an edited picture of me and my beloved dancing through the night at our best Valentines day ever, and they will be posted on this very same blog :-) Ray

 

Finally, I had to deal with one difficult problem. Saying goodbye to Barb. The problem is easy to explain. When I arrive I get hugs and kisses. When I leave I have two choices. The first is to bring Barb home with me. The second is to shack up with her and move in to memory care. The solution requires teamwork on the part of the staff and me heading home without being seen. Today it all worked well and when I called back Barb was still happy, contented in her new apartment and doing just fine. A really good day in dementia land for Barb and me as well.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Vocation


 

I was reminded last Sunday by our Methodist pastor who spoke in his sermon of a word rarely used today.  That word was vocation. It is somewhat similar to the word calling, which clergymen and women are often said to  to  have experienced. The minister told the story of a young friend of his, who at age 11, told his parents he intended to become a medical missionary. He accomplished that goal by attending medical school, became a pastor, doctored in a small town in Minnesota. There he married and helped raise a family. However, he spent much of his adult life in the small African country of Sierra Leone. There he treated thousands of people where no medical care was available. In semi – retirement he returned to Minnesota  and later returned, at age 84, to Sierra Leone to help fight the spread of the dreaded Ebola. The moral of the pastors message was surely that there are some people in life who spurn the goal of riches and fame, that in the cause of doing good in this world. Something more than a job, something with a mission. I do believe there are people in  jobs and professions, who do that. Not everyone,  but there are some who see their job as a vocation. Nurses, teachers, firemen, social workers, EMTs and so on and on. Let us all remember to give them the respect and honor for what they do, often without much reward, but certainly deserving of our support. Troutbirder (ray)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Dang it!

I did it again. You'd think with only two blogs I could keep it all straight. Wrong!!! My latest post intended for this blog is on the other one. Sorry but you'll have to click on Mark Twain above, sitting next to the idiot to jump over to my other blog

Monday, March 4, 2019

Theodore Roosevelt's early books.


 Hunting Trips of the Rancherman and The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt.

This 1996 modern Library edition of two of Pres. Roosevelt’s many books is readily available. In reviewing it I must reveal a big bias. It seems my father born in 1909 had a middle name named after Pres. Theodore. I followed with the same middle name and then Mrs. T and I named our eldest son Theodore. Theodore Roosevelt was the most remarkable of men. He ushered his country into the 20th century. He stands also in the first rank, according to author Stephen Ambrose, of the 20th century presidents. He was  among famous world leaders second on the great writers list just behind Winston Churchill and Julius Caesar. You can add scholar, cowboy, outdoorsman, rancher, conservationist, war hero, police Commissioner, Nobel Prize winner for peace, and progressive Republican who became president. He also reflected some of the currently politically incorrect beliefs and biases of his times. He was a man for all seasons.
The  memoir I just finished reading was an early one of his many books. It does reflect the new man in the making, who lived in the West and learned from it. As a young New Yorker, Harvard graduate,  inheriting wealth from his father he presaged his younger cousin Franklin and was the uncle of Franklins bride Eleanor. I will say this about this book. If you’d like to meet this great president firsthand instead of biographies or see his face on Mount Rushmore. Read about him in his own words. It's real history in the making.

 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Posting on my book review blog

It seems after weeks of inability to enter my own blog and do new posts my computer guru finally got Google to admit me. The war between Yahoo and Google was conquered. I did miss my book review for Barr Sumie do yesterday the first Wednesday of the month yesterday but  today its up and running. So they'll be a new one coming up a few days late and a few dollars short. :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Birds & Barb

 
A Bald Eagle flew over our house this morning and then a rare pileated woodpecker showed up at our suet feeder. A good sign I thought. Then sure enough a call from Cottagewood memory care saying Barb was having another good day. Since her new medicine was put in place that makes almost 3 weeks in a row without drastic or aggressive agitation. Sharon G. sent Barb a card saying that she had moved into an apartment just like Barb had. Perfect! Barb said she hoped Sharon would have as nice an apartment as she did. Smile According to the staff Barb is working miracles. She helps big time in the kitchen and holds hands with other ladies who are seriously confused and consoles and reassures them that things will be all right and she will be their friend. That the Barb I know and love...

Ray (Troutbirder)

 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Safe From The Sea


The natural  beauty of the Great Lakes and the awesome force of its storms provide set the scene for this great tale  of life’s natural cycles. Peter Geye in his first novel Safe From The Sea   frames a  profound story of an estranged father and the sons attempts to reconcile, along with the tragedy of a Great Lakes sea wreck hanging over their heads.  The son and his wife also have problems with conception.  This all provides us with riveting characterizations writ large.    It also seems evident to me that  my attraction to this story  that the father son conflict is generational.

Safe From The Sea obviously also clicks for me because as a nature loving Minnesotan our Greatest Great Lake and our northern Pine forests are close to my heart.
This is a very good book.  Family redemption issues, managed by good people, always works for me.

 

 

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@Barrie Summy

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Dr. Suess

Click  on the guy standing by the trout stream above and jump to my semi rant on the subject...:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Return To Duty

In the words of General MacArthur who promised fleeing the Philippines, under duress " I shall return" and did so....well here I am ready to go.  Barb is still in St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester recovering from her  broken arm and soon to return to "memory care." So far so good. I'm doing ok as the adjustment to living alone begins. I do have a new technological device which will help me blog called Dragon. I'm really excited about it as when I talk to it and it types for me on the screen. This is now called "word process". It's gonna take a while to catch on to it but with a little practice....
Here a sample of the first time I tried it.

Latin is a dead language. Dead as it can be. First it killed  the Romans and now it killing me....
(Read by me from  the back of Barb's old high school Latin text)

Ray (Troutbirder)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

New Post.

Dear Friends,
I'm dipping my toe in the water with a return to blogging. Click on the picture above of the guy in the pink shirt.
Ray