Monday, March 6, 2017

Some Words Come With Their Own Baggage

Back decades into the last century when I was a young Society."  I asked my older sister what the John Burch Society was?  I remember she was quiet for a long time.  Then she said: "You know how Dad is about the flag and stuff?"

"Yeh", I said.

"The John Burch Society is about 100 times more than Dad about the flag."

"OHHHHH",  I said.

Fast forward many years.  I was attending a grant writing seminar.  One of the participants was a Lakota man from South Dakota.  During a conversation I said the phrase, "They Jewed him down."

He looked at me, I saw him weighing his words before he responded.

"Where did you grow up?"

"Southern Idaho"


"May I tell you a story?"


"Some years back I was part of a committee working on a project.  We were to receive a major grant to finish funding the project.  Three of the funders came out to our reservation to look at the paperwork and sign the final documents so we could move forward.

One of our tribal members had been working hard on the budget and many of the line items were coming in under budget.

The three visitors looked over all the papers we had submitted.  Finally one funder addressed us."

"You originally asked for X-dollars.  I notice the actual amount in this final report is much less.  How did you do that?"

My friend answered, "I jewed that company down.  Saved us a bunch of money."

The funder looked at my friend, then he looked at the other two funders.  They looked back. They put their papers back into their brief cases.  Latched them, stood up and walked out the door without saying anything.

Five million dollars walked out with them.  Three years of planning poof it was gone."

He waited patiently as I processed this story.  I am sure if I would have been drawn in a comic strip a light bulb would have been hanging above my head.

"Ohh, jewed Jewish.  Oh my lands I never made the connection".

He looked at me and said, "Every time you say it remember my story."

I worked hard to remove this epitaph from my vocabulary.  This word I had heard often from my father but never new the meaning the racial slur that it was.

There are so many of these racially deplorable words peppered in our vocabulary.  Think of the word "gyp - to cheat or swindle".  Where does it come from?

Some words come with their own baggage.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Nevertheless the People of Montana Persist.

Montana is a land of great diversity.  Mountainous western Montana is classically breath taking. Eastern Montana has a semi-arid steppe (dry grassy plain) climate.  It is rugged, it can be unforgiving.  It has strength, and endurance, it perseveres.

Place has an impact on the people who live there.  Eastern Montana has been home to Native American tribes and homesteaders.  The land is arrid.  Water is life.  Who were the people who lived and struggled here?  Tough, no nonsense, self-reliant, determined people.  Even as there was conflict between the tribes and the unwanted immigrants (homesteaders). The land fought its own battle for dominance, it demanded respect.

When the homesteaders came the grass was lush. Journals tell of grass up to a man’s knees. Everything was in bloom. They settled.  They proved up the land, a cabin, a corral, sometimes even chickens.  Four or five good years.  Then the drought came.  People couldn’t make a go of it.  Many left with just the clothes on their back.  Old timers told me of going into the abandoned cabins and dishes were still on the table.  People of Montana persisted, they persevered.

Fast forward about a 100 years.  In 2011 the rains started, the floods washed out roads. The land bloomed.  It was lush, it was seductive. The grass came up to my husband’s knees.  

Here is a type of beauty that reflects strength, endurance and persistence.  Here is where many of the Indian Wars were fought.  Here is where dinosaurs still hide waiting to be uncovered.  Here a fire can smolder for decades in an underground coal seam.

Nevertheless the people of Montana persist.

They Will Know We Persisted and Persevered

History is one of my passions.  I served 24 years in the Montana National Guard. My country and the Constitution are my passions.  I have been a librarian for over two decades.  Teaching is my passion. 

A few years ago I was asked to create a unit on Hazel Hunkins, a suffragist from Billings, Montana. As I researched I learned about the women who were part of the suffrage movement.  I learned about the marches, the pickets, the arrests, the forced feeding.  Never the less they persisted.

Many of us never heard their stories.  We didn't hear the stories of the men who supported them and helped work for the vote.  I think we need to hear their stories of perseverance.

Being part of a democracy gives us many rights.  With these rights comes responsibilities. I believe being an informed constituent is one of those responsibilities.  Most of us have many commitments and little time. I believe being informed is a critical part of democracy.  

I also believe that my elected officials have a responsibility to listen to their constituents.  Sadly in my state of Montana, Senator Daines' phones were not working well in February.  Even some of his offices were locked and constituents could not talk to him face to face.  Its hard to comprehend how this could happen.  And the stories go on and on.

Listed below are 10 current bills.  This link lets you look up bills in the House.   Read them for yourself.

1.      HR 6489 – Social Security Reform Act – will cut benefits by about a third.
2.     HR 861 – Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
3.     HR 610 – Vouchers for Public Education
4.     HR 899 – Terminate the Department of Education
5.     HJR 69 – Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
6.     HR 370 – Repeal Affordable Care Act
7.     HR 354 – Defund Planned Parenthood
8.     HR 785 - National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
9.     HR 83 – Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
10.  HR 147 – Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)

Call your Representative and ask them to speak up for your rights, health & safety, and our beautiful country.   Find Your Representative 
And maybe in the future our children's children will read our stories.  They will know we persisted and persevered.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Dangerous Thoughts

The theme for Montana's National History Day this year is "Taking A Stand in History".  As I ponder this quote I think of all the women who fought for suffrage.  People like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Hazel Hunkins, a Billings, MT suffragist.  And men and women like you and me.   They took a stand.

Yes I said "men", I wasn't muttering.  One organization was the "Men's League for Women's Suffrage".  Wellington Rankin was a member of Montana's League for Women's Suffrage.  (Clue he had an older sister named Jeanette.)  He took a stand.

The James Madison award is given each year to the individual or group, who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public's right to know at the national level. The award is given by the American Library Association. Yesterday they announced the 2017 winner - Montana Senator Jon Tester.  He will receive the award March 15, 2017 at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Senator Tester took a stand.

Tell me about a person you believe took a stand.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I Was Once Young

I and 39 other 4-Hers (all teenagers) boarded a chartered Greyhound bus in Lewiston, Idaho.  We were going to attend the 4-H Club Congress in Washington DC. It was the summer of 1973 and I was fifteen years old.  Three adults were on the trip; the bus driver, and two chaperones sadly I don't remember their names.

We were gone a month. One week to get there.  One week attending 4-H Club Congress. One week to get home.

Today I would not take 40 teenagers across town with just two chaperones, let alone a three week trip staying in motels.  We ranged in ages of 15-19.  We stopped at most of the historic spots.

We went through Butte, saw them mining the Berkeley Pit.  Stopped at "Custer's Battlefield".   Stopped at Mount Rushmore.  Went to the Science Museum in Chicago.  Drove on the edge of a tornado for several hours.

We rotated chores each night cleaning the bus and preparing for the next days trip.  I could not reach the windshield.  So when it was my turn I washed and dried the headlights.

I remember going to Williamsburg and eating Peanut Soup and Cornish Hens.  Seeing Monticello and Gettysburg.

Our week in DC was about learning and experiences.  Our chaperones and leaders had organized our trip before we left.  We attended a live performance of "Jesus Christ Super Star" at the Ford Theater.  Saw the National Zoo.  Saw white Bengal tigers, Smokey the Bear, the pandas from China Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing.  We went to the Smithsonian saw the 1st Ladies gowns, and the Hope Diamond.

These are some of the memories that still dance in my heart and soul.

Friendship is Everything

Friendship - it's the little things; it's the big things.  Ida is my friend. She has been my library volunteer for 6 years.  This fall Mrs W our secretary suggested a surprise birthday party for her 88th birthday.  All 297 students made her a birthday card.  It was great! She dreams of the future.

Lauri is my friend - she has been my library volunteer for over 10 years and two school moves.  A few years ago is gave our library a collection of Goosebumps.  Her adult son said it was ok to give his childhood collection to us.  Last week one of the books fell apart.  I had already used a ton of tape on it.  I showed her it had been checked out 77 times.  She encourages dreamers.

Karin is my friend.  She is a retired librarian.  I worked with her the year before she retired.  She has been my library volunteer for two years and in two schools.  She has helped me catalog our new books and weed the collection.  She has helped me pack up my library two years in a row (all the books).  She then helped me unpack them.

Trish is my friend.  She is a retired librarian.  She is loyal.  She says what she thinks.  She scolds me and then supports my dreams.  I have only to say I need your help and she's there.

Audrey is my friend.  She too is a retired librarian.  She has listened to me cry. She has encouraged me. She has believed in me. And she too, helped me pack my library twice in two years, every book.

Kelli is my friend.  Yes she is a retired librarian.  She taught English and then joined the library ranks.  I was a 2nd year librarian and they made me her mentor. LOL.  I told her straight out I was learning and we would figure it out together. She taught me so much. She laughs with me and makes me answer my own questions.

Mrs W is my friend.  She is our secretary.  She drives by my house on her way to work.  Tuesday there were emergency vehicles near my home.  She called to check on Dan and I.  I was very touched.  My elderly neighbor is still in the hospital.

These are some of my many wonderful friends.  They are ones to ride the river with!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bobbing Balloons

Three sets of bobbing balloons decorate this month's table.  Each month birthday staff are recognized during a monthly potluck.  Decorations and small gifts change depending on the folks who are hosting the luncheon.

Friday, our secretary Mrs W reminded me to take my balloons.  I decided to leave them in my room so I could enjoy them while they stayed aloft.

Monday, I came through the doors and Mrs W pointed to the balloons sitting on the counter.  I looked at the gentle swaying balloons as she said "Don't forget your balloons."

"I put them in my room Friday."

Mrs W.  "I know."

Me: "So why are they here this morning?"

Mrs W: "They set off the motion detector and set off the alarm.   I figured it out the 2nd time and put them in the vault."

My beautiful bobbing balloons accompanied me to the library. After school I took them home and put them in the living room.

My two dogs were not impressed.  Baby stood by my chair facing these gently bobbing interlopers. She growled her warning that if they came closer they would deal with her.  Eventually she laid down but kept them in sight.

Tank, (our Scooby Doo), would move in for a closer look at the gently bobbing balloons.  Then he would notice a shadow or slight movement and off he would run.  Returning to check them out again.

Beautiful bobbing birthday balloons.