Monday, May 30, 2011


Diplomacy is the best method to resolve conflict. It requires great strength to remain nonviolent. Economic sanctions can be used as long as multiple countries enforce them. Unilateral (one country) actions are foolish. Military action must be the absolute last resort. Violence indicates a failure of politicians and diplomats. They can’t do their job so the military has to step in.

I am a member of a military family and several are currently on active duty. I have spent a lot of time worrying about their safety and visited many military bases. We can trace our involvement back to the Civil War (an ancestor was a Union Captain). My family members have been wounded and died in service to our country and on behalf of other countries. They knew the risk when they signed up. I nearly joined but I am a bit too sassy.

There is a clear difference between defense and offense. I don’t always agree with orders from the politicians and decision makers in the Pentagon. Sometimes they use military action to achieve political goals, which is reprehensible. Members of the military follow orders. It is their job to do what they are told to do. It is not the choice of the individual soldier/sailor/airperson/etc but their unit’s commanding officer who follows orders from their commanding officer (CO). The chain of command hierarchy travels all the way up to the Pentagon and Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. The President is ultimately responsible for the actions of every member of the military.

The Geneva Conventions and Protocols must be absolutely enforced. When a service member acts inappropriately, they should go to jail. When a commander acts inappropriately, they should go to jail. Military law should be at least as harsh as civilian law (excluding capital punishment). No one should get off with a reprimand when they break the law or act inappropriately. Period. End of Discussion. The United States must be willing to send their commanders to The Hague for criminal prosecution when they perpetuate war crimes. If the United States is a “champion” of democracy we must fully participate in the world’s efforts for democracy.

The United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy officially need to completely integrate women into full combat duty. Females have been unofficially participating for years. Full combat duty will raise women’s status and increase promotion opportunities. Many countries have fully integrated combat units. The women perform just as well as the men. The number of rapes and assaults will reduce when women are equals. My friend’s daughter suffered horrible harassment by the men in her unit while recently serving in Iraq. She couldn’t report it to her CO without getting in trouble herself. That is profoundly wrong.

I wish that nonviolence would be able to solve all conflict in the world. Unfortunately we humans haven’t evolved to that level of maturity. We keep harming each other. So much has been wasted by violence. What could have been accomplished? We all lose when elected officials fail in their diplomatic skills. I am appalled that the politicians renewed the Patriot Act; it continues the shameful removal of rights from United States citizens. My family has paid and continues to pay for those rights with blood, sweat, and tears.

Thank you to all the current members of the military and veterans. Stay safe! I am proud to be amongst the family and friends who support our military.

© 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Ironically, Art-A-Whirl is sometimes depicted as a tornado. Didn’t expect that it would actually happen during the event and a few miles west during the galleries on Sunday. The tornado in North Minneapolis was horrible but it is frightening to imagine if it had shifted the east. Thousands of people were wandering around the neighborhood to visit the galleries. They would not know where to seek shelter. The buildings are old industrial factories but their glass is brittle.

Art-A-Whirl (AAW) is a fabulous event, which occurs mostly in Northeast Minneapolis (MN). Hundreds of artists open their studios featuring myriad forms of art. It officially commences on Friday night but most of the studios are open during Saturday and Sunday afternoon. It’s nice to attend a daytime art crawl. Visit for details.

AAW is concentrated in several buildings and some solo studios in the neighborhood. It’s a bit too far to walk but biking would be fine. A trolley takes people around to the larger buildings with an informative tour guide. Parking can be a hassle due to the popularity of the event. I arrive before the official opening at noon so that I can find parking nearby.

Ideas for improvement:
* Highlight building entries with an official AAW flag or sign. I found it frustrating to locate an open door;
* All locations need to be open when they are listed in the program directory;
* Better internal building signage. Northrup King was the best but I somehow missed the first floor of Northrup because I couldn’t find an entry door;
* Greeters distributing directories at entrances to each building would be great. Casket Arts had a friendly person at the front door but no one in the back;
* Trolleys should run every fifteen or twenty minutes;
* Bike racks would be helpful to reduce congestion;
* Partner with Green Expo folks for recycling and composting receptacles placed throughout the event. Artists could be encouraged to serve their treats on compostable materials;
* Mobile food trucks available with two or three at each of the large buildings; and,
* Invite performance artists to add to the mix by singing, dancing or performing in the lobbies or hallways of the buildings.

I feel honored to walk into the artist’s space, converse with the artist, and view their amazing creations. Many of the exhibitors are part-time since they have to support themselves with a full-time job but art is their passion. Art is in the eye of the beholder; everyone considers different things as beautiful. I wish that I had the funds to purchase artwork but instead I will highlight some of the best work in a future blog.

Writing a blog is art too?

Monday, May 23, 2011


Please make a donation at Thank you!

The western sky was an ominous dark gray-green and I knew that it was mean. I was walking between buildings for Art-A-Whirl on Sunday afternoon when the tornado sirens began their ear-splittingly loud wail. I turned my tail around and headed back to the Northrup King building. I rushed in and told people that we needed to move to an interior hallway. They looked perplexed until I told them a tornado was outside.

Actually, it was a couple miles to the west in the North Minneapolis neighborhoods. Horrible. Several people at Art-A-Whirl used “smart” phones or people called to let them know about the storm that swept through St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, and northern suburbs. My phone is old fashioned but I knew that it was time to head home. I didn’t learn of the extent of the damage until I turned on the tv.

I immediately called the Red Cross since I am a trained disaster volunteer. I let them know that I was available. When a disaster occurs you never “self deploy” or just show up at the scene. You might get in the way of first responders (law enforcement, fire, ems/emt). Gawking is even worse, you could get hurt and slow down emergency responders so just stay home and watch it on tv. Its nice to volunteer but make certain that you are helping in an organized effort or you'll add to the chaos.

Red Cross called me back. I assisted at the Family Assistance Shelter as a Red Cross worker. Almost 200 people were already there and more came in to have about 250 people sleep overnight. They had nowhere else to go. Many of their homes were completely destroyed or damaged too badly to remain. Most were renters and not sure what their landlords would do to assist them. Traumatized. I will not divulge specifics because that would be disrespectful to their pain and violate HIPAA rules.

I am exhausted. I need to get in some sleep before I return. The only advantage is my schedule is fairly open due to unemployment. I can help more than if I were working full time. The damage in MN is bad but I feel sorry for the folks in Missouri. Their storm was much worse and it follows the devastating storms that swept through the South last month. Global warming is a fact, no myth.

Every person has the responsibility to prepare themselves, loved ones and pets for disaster for details.

Are you ready???

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Meow-lish, aka the language of felines which humans understand, aka how they train us to do their bidding. Tillie is a year old muted calico-Norwegian forest cat who has taught me her version of meowlish. Tillie likes to look out the kitchen window, which she is technically forbidden to view since it would involve walking on the kitchen counter. Yuck, I know where her paws have been (litter box). Thus, when she gives the “pick me up” meow I dutifully lift her into my arms so that she can view the activities in the back yard for a few minutes.

One morning she asked and I picked her up. Her paws were wet, how odd. I had not spilled anything and she actually had not tipped over the water bowl that morning. Where was there moisture? A couple inches of rain had fallen the day before on frozen ground so I suspected the basement. Living in a nearly 100 year old house is wonderful but one persistent issue is water seeping in. Alas, Tillie had walked through a stream of water in the basement. No big deal, I just cleaned up the water, turned on the fans and dehumidifier. Thank you Ms. Kitty.

A couple weeks later I cleaned the toilet. Not my favorite chore. The phone rang just as I finished. I dashed off to answer it. About five minutes later I was walking back to the bathroom when I heard happy kitty sounds. Oh, oh. I walked in to find Tillie in the Toilet. Tail in the air and all four paws happily splashing away. She had found a new puddle. Oh bother!

I started laughing and could not yell at her. It was my fault. I picked her up, washed her paws in the sink and cleaned up the water that she had spilled on the toilet seat and floor. Since then every time I open the toilet seat she rushes over and looks in. I have to shoo her away or she would probably jump in. Exasperation. All hopes of toilet training the cats are now dashed. Tillie will always want to play in the puddle and won’t care if she and Zozo have pee’d or poo’d in the water. Ugh.

Read more about Tillie, Zozo and Momo adventures on January 20, 2011; August 25, 2010; February 19 & 21, 2010; February 11, 2010; and, January 22 & 26, 2010. Cats are amusing.

More tales to come with Toilet Tillie.
© 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011


I hate you,
You hate me,
We’re a dys-functional family…
(Inspired by Barney, the purple dinosaur’s song)

My family sucks. The eldest sibling decided to hate me when I went to college. She got the stupid ass notion that our parents paid for my education. What a laugh. They gave me a few groceries and rides to and from school a couple times per year. That was it. I worked all during school and ended up with over $30,000 debt upon graduation.

Through the years her paranoia has increased. She has convinced sister number two to despise me. They have both borrowed money from our parents and have never paid them back. Both of them received hundreds of hours of free babysitting and lots of stuff. They have lived with our parents on occasion with their children, too. I have never asked for nor expected money or items from our parents. My dad said that siblings number one and two don’t believe him when he tells them that I am self sufficient. They are certain that I am a lesbian because I haven’t been married or bring men to visit. Their kids just go along with the crap. Multi-generational stupidity. Our mom didn’t like her sister, either.

When I bought a house almost nine years ago they were certain that our parents paid for it. Ha! I have a huge mortgage. I am making payments despite being unemployed. I have never purposely provoked my siblings. About fifteen years ago I gave them all a book of encouragement for sexual abuse survivors. I had been seeing a therapist and I wanted them to benefit from mental health counseling. That didn’t go over very well so I dropped the subject (“Letting Out the Demons” January 2011 blog for details). I strive not to complain or say negative things about them to other family members.

As an optimist, I try to keep the communication lines open. I didn’t visit for nearly six months after they were horribly rude to me. I sent my sister an email letting her know that I would be in town and hoped to see her. I was busy visiting family and friends but she never called. Our parents said that she usually works during the weekend. She had indicated a long while ago that she didn’t like phone calls so I didn’t call. I returned home and she called me with a nasty attitude. I remained calm and told her that I tried to make contact but she was still angry. I am perplexed. Why would she want to see me since she hates me?

I can only control my reaction. I really strive not to be bothered by their stupidity but it bugs me. I wish that they would be supportive and kind but that will never occur. They are not happy with anything that I say or do or don’t say or don’t do. I feel vulnerable in their presence. I don’t have anyone to take along and provide back up or comfort. I avoid my family like the plague. That is my best coping mechanism.

I’d like to cut off all communication but I maintain tenuous contact because of our parents. I feel ill after visiting. I have enough stress with unemployment (ten months), delayed repairs to my house, financial fears, and striving not to burden friends with my problems. I wish that I could divorce them.

Sick of striving.
© 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Should marriage be based on gender or be based on two adults who want to have a permanent bond? Bonding is much more important than gender. As long as the marriage involves two unrelated adults (over the age of 18), it isn’t anyone else’s business.

This is the civil rights issue of the 21st Century. Not too long ago marriage was forbidden between people of different ethnic backgrounds or religions. There was cultural, philosophical, religious, institutional and legal resistance to integration. Efforts of thousands of people got the Civil Rights Act passed and enforced. Many brave people were harmed or killed because they knew that racial equality was imperative. We have not reached racial parity for everyone but America is a lot better than it was 50 years ago.

People of faith know that The Supreme Being(s) do not make mistakes. Every “gay” person, which includes gay men, lesbian women, bisexual, queer and questioning people are meant to be. LGBT or GLBT community members are at least 10% of the population. They were not arbitrarily created. Agnostics and atheists know that sexuality is a genetic trait. Each person is born with their sexuality intact, it isn’t a whim. People do not choose who to love, love chooses them. I knew at an early age that boys were cute…

Legal same-gender marriage will boost the US economy with marriages and eventually divorces. I know several couples that have traveled to states and countries to get married even though their union is not legally recognized in Minnesota. One couple moved to New Zealand to procure their rights and they have met many other couples that did the same. We are losing some amazing people because they are seeking equal rights. I am appalled that the Minnesota State Legislature is trying to pass an amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota. Apparently many states have done this and it is repulsive. has a lot of information.

A compromise of “Domestic Partnership” or “Civil Union” could be substituted for marriage as long as all the rights were the same. Approximately 500 laws give rights to married people. They would all have to be amended to include domestic partnerships and civil unions. The US Supreme Court may have to make a ruling in favor to ensure that all people have equal rights, regardless of their sexuality. A huge number of heterosexual couples would benefit from domestic partnerships and civil unions, too.

We need to follow the example of the Civil Rights Movement founders; such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired by the nonviolent actions of Mahatma Gandhi. We need an inspirational person to lead the protests and boycotts. Same-sex marriage or domestic partnership/civil union must be legalized in the United States soon. Period. End of Discussion.

Love don’t know no gender.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I read a lot. There are some books so bad that I couldn’t even finish them. Perhaps I should create an “avoid this book” list. I personally know and respect folks who make their living by writing, but sometimes they should be bold and break out of the “formula.” Once you sell enough to survive, strive for a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read previous reviews posted on April 10, 2011, February 17, 2011 and September 14, 2010. Please become a follower of this blog to learn of future reviews. I have been evolving the manner in which I review books. I hate it when a reviewer spoils the plotline or gives away the ending. Five worms is the highest rating but rarely attained.

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie three and a half worms
Witty and creatively loaded with puns regarding time. Great kids book (ages 10 – 14) but entertaining for adults. Apparently this is the continuation of a book about the character’s older brother but it does explain the fantastical elements of the story.

True Grit by Charles Portis three and a half worms
Interesting voice of the female lead. She is the character with the most grit. Only unrealistic scene involved snow. Only fresh snow covers signs of activity. Quick read. Haven’t seen the new movie, yet.

Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck three and a half worms
Story of the sisters is a bit convoluted in the beginning but develops well. Disturbingly possible. Psychologically wounded people who don’t get counseling wound others. Perhaps something is lost in the translation from German. Helps to have a background in German philosophy authors.

Stormchasers by Jenna Blum three worms
She learned how to talk Minnesotan and correctly refers to carbonated drinks as “pop” instead of soda, cola or coke. Good character development and an interesting story line. Romance was appropriate but the main character would have kept writing. Too bad the author didn’t work in the word “binder” instead of rubber band…

I Think I Love You by Allison Person three worms
David Cassidy fixation during the first half of the book and tedious to flip between two main characters. Midway the book becomes much more interesting and the final couple chapters are quite nice. I especially like the last chapter in the male character’s voice. Fame is fickle and brutal, I don’t know what I’d do if this blog became popular (which is profoundly unlikely).

Wicked Lies co-written by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush two worms
I haven’t read books by either siblling and unfortunately the pacing is bit odd in this book. Sharper editing would have helped. They mention a medical situation on almost every page of this romance story set within a mystery, enough already! What absurd repetitiveness. It is blasted obvious that they are going to write a sequel.

Why won’t some female writers create a plain old mystery? Mixing the two genres spoil the mystery or thriller element. Whereas, many male mystery writers tend to ignore females or focus on horrific violence. If you have any suggestions of good books, let me know. I read books available in the Twin Cities, MN library system (MELSA).

Thrilled by what unfolds on each page.
© 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I recently bumped into an old crush, Jerry. We met in high school and lived in different cities. We participated in the same “enrichment” program for geeks who needed stimulation. Jerry was cute, had a twinkle in his eye and a wonderful chortle-laugh. I immediately developed a crush and was thrilled to learn that he wasn’t intimidated by smart females. I didn’t have to hide my intelligence. I’m no genius but I did qualify for MENSA (never joined). We were friends and communicated on occasion (no internet in those days), long distance calls were costly.

We stayed in touch through college and hung out when I was in my final year (he’d already graduated). I don’t consider it dating because we both were seeing other people at the time and never kissed. We hugged but there was no spark. An intellectual match. I am glad that we didn’t try to force a physical relationship. One day he just stopped returning my phone calls. Fell off the planet. I was angry for a long while. We didn’t fight and he never indicated that he didn’t want to hang out. An irritating mystery. Why do men just stop calling? Another facet of cowardice.

A friend of mine, Sally, shared a mutual friend with Jerry. She heard through the mutual friend that Jerry had gotten married. This occurred about fifteen years ago. I wasn’t angry anymore and honestly hoped it was a good match for him. Ironically, I went to a meeting the next week and sat next to his wife. She was really nice and I didn’t tell her that I knew Jerry. Even though I hadn’t dated her hubby, she might have reacted in a possessive manner or given him a hard time.

Jerry had always been thin and when I saw him at a conference about four years ago he had only gained a bit of weight. He kept staring at me at the conference so I stayed close to friends because it sort of freaked me out. However, he now has developed quite a belly. I was rather shocked that he gained a lot of weight so quickly. I realized that he no longer is wearing a wedding ring. Not everybody does but I suspect that he is now divorced since he spoke in the singular and used to wear a ring.

We chatted and conversation stayed light since we were in his place of work. He still has the same laugh and quick wit but the eye twinkle is gone. Maybe it was because he was at work or I no longer have a crush on him. Does the hardships of life take away the twinkle? Still no spark between us. I didn’t give him my phone number but he did email me for work. I don’t expect any further contact. Sally urged me to ask him out for coffee. That would be a bit odd. We are different people after so many years of no contact, I don’t know if we could be friends anymore. I’d be afraid of him suddenly not returning my phone calls again.

Time changes people.
© 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011


I cannot celebrate his death. Osama Bin Laden was an evil person who financed, organized and inspired others to do acts of violence. Cowards use violence. They are too weak to utilize ethical political methods (like democracy) or diplomacy to achieve their goals.

Death is too easy of a punishment. Lifetime imprisonment would have been better. The Hague would have provided an international trial. Al-Qaeda members have killed and harmed people around the world. Bin Laden was their commander in chief but their “army” has split into many units worldwide. The death of this one man will neither bring back the thousands of civilians killed, injured in body and mind nor heal the multitude of people who care about those who were harmed. Military deaths and injuries are sad too but at least they knew it was a possibility when they joined (yes, I am a member of a military family).

It is imperative to completely uphold every article of the Geneva Conventions. These guidelines (conventions and protocols) protect our troops and civilians. Al-Qaeda may not fall under the auspices of a singular country, but they are an organized group. Send all Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp prisoners to The Hague’s International Criminal Court for a proper trial.

Peace requires strength.
© 2011