Tag Archive: the serious stuff


Digging up Family History

As I have gotten older, family history has become important to me.

My free time lately has been filled with searching for family names and finding birth and death dates. I put in names in google and see where it leads me.

Next up will have to be ordering death certificates my mother already does not have in her collection. I would like to see if I can find pictures.

I am trying to avoid having to sign up for a paid site. But they seem to have more information that I can use. I can find some family members but a Thomas Proctor, a great-great-great uncle, born in 1850 while the family was still in England has been difficult. His widow and sons are on the 1920 census living with my great-great grandfather.

Next up, I plan do one of those DNA tests. A cousin did hers on Ancestry and said it was easy. After that I would like to set up my own family tree so that my kids can have the information – should they ever want it.

In the meantime, I am using the information I do have. The other day I spent a part of my day in a cemetery looking for gravestones. I had called the cemetery staff looking for a possible location. While they told me the lot number, I never found lot number markers.

So I did what I could, knowing that my great-great grandparents died in the late part of the 1800s. I found myself in the part of the cemetery that held the founders of the town. It took me awhile but I hit pay dirt. As I walked around with a car snow brush in hand, I uncovered a number of grave markers that looked as if they could be from the right time period.

It helps to know a little history on cemetery markers. Such as granite would not start being used till the mid-1900s. And families, especially those of some wealth would have obelisks as a family marker. The taller the obelisk, the wealthier the family.

No, I didn’t find my great-great grandparents. I found my great-great-great grandparents, the ones who came from England and helped settle the town of Arlington Heights in the Midwest. It appears I come from pioneer stock.

All of these commercials about finding your history are meant to make one curious, meant to make you wonder just where did you come from. Was your ancestor a good person or a not-so-good person. It makes you wonder where certain health issues start, such as my rosacea.

I remember when the genealogy for Barack Obama came out and there was a scoundrel somewhere in the family tree. It was also found that his mother’s family came from the second boat to arrive at Plymouth. When you go back far enough, you find the good, the bad, the incredibly ridiculous and incredibly boring.

Well, I am looking forward to finding out more of my family tree. After that, I can go farther to those British and Polish records. Eventually.

Sarah Proctor 1833-1900
Thomas Proctor 1827 -1897

Open Letter to All Senators

What did you do on January 17 to fulfill it as a day of service?

I crafted a letter that I sent not only to my senators but several other senators, including a few I really dislike, regarding the two voting rights bills that are on the senate floor.

In sending it to my own senators, I am preaching towards the choir. They are voting for Voters’ Rights. But there are others who need to stop acting as if voter fraud happened when no one , not even the former guy, has proven that it happened. I hoped by voicing my opinion, politely, maybe they would listen.

So I am putting that letter here. Perhaps it will get more attention, perhaps not. But I want senators to now that not every one who contacts them wishes them ill.

Dear Senator,

I am asking you to vote for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment.

I feel that these bills will protect the rights of voters everywhere in our country. I believe strongly that all Americans should have the same experience I do when I go to vote. Many times, I am in and out of the voting booth within 15 minutes. And that includes waiting for the election judges to find me on the rolls and give me a ballot.

No one should have to wait hours to vote, especially if they have time limits because of their work hours.

No one should have to bring along a day’s worth of food and drink along with fold-up chairs in order to vote. Or be denied the opportunity to be given food and drink while waiting in line to vote an inordinate amount of time.

No one should be denied the opportunity to use absentee ballots, especially our military serving overseas or people worried about contracting Covid-19 in all of its variants.

Early balloting should be made easily available to all. I know I used it when I served as an election judge in November 2020 and was glad I did. I ended up being assigned to a voting site not in my area. People who have to work on voting day need the opportunity to vote as easily as possible.

Voting polls should be abundant, especially in states where the counties are the same size of our smallest states.

I ask you to vote for these bills to help all Americans, not just a few. Justice denied to some means justice denied to all.

I ask you to work with the party across the aisle to make these bills passing into law a reality. These bills are for all of us, not some of us. When it comes to voting rights, we should stand together as a nation and show the world how it is done.

I may not live in your state but your vote doesn’t affect just your state. It affects everyone in our nation. Please work to make these bills become reality to help all Americans have the right to free and fair and accessible elections.

Sincerely,

Karyn Bowman

Dear Mike Pence,

Can we talk? I want to have a calm conversation with you.

I ask this as a fellow graduate of a church-based college. Yours is Presbytarian and mine in Church of the Brethren. If it makes you more comfortable, our spouses can be in the room as well. I realize that your wife went to a private college but my husband went to a church school, so that should aid in your comfort.

Please, have a seat. I can make some tea or coffee, set out some cookies, or cheese and crackers.

You’re going to need the sustenance because what I am about to say is going to be hard for you to hear.

Donald Trump, the former president and your former boss, is not your friend.

I know, I know. You worked hard for him, believed in his platform, and that he was the shining light in the Republican party.

But the man does not have your best interests at heart. I’m not sure he cares for you at all.

Why do I say this?

Because on January 6, 2021, the day when you chose to live by the law, his followers were looking to kill you. They were yelling “Hang Mike Pence” and set up a noose on scaffolding that was there for restoration work.

By minutes, you and your family were able to get out of the Capitol building before the insurgents calling for your death rushed through looking for you specifically.

Worse yet, your boss did nothing to stop the violent behavior. He never called the national guard to stop the attack on the Capitol but you did. Oh, he put out a tweet a few hours later telling people to go home.

But he did nothing to stop the insurgents. He did nothing to safe guard the Capitol police, members of congress, or you and your family. You ended up calling the National Guard.

What I don’t understand is how you can say it was just one day, it was another day in Washington D.C.

What I don’t understand is how you can still support Donald Trump.

Is this a PTSD reation to discovering that your boss didn’t care if you and your family was harmed, or worse killed, because he loved that his supporters’ mis-guided notion that Trump won the election?

Is the idea of continuing being vice-president or being president someday perhaps more important than your life? Or the life of your family?

We both know that January 6 happened, that it was real. We know that while protests might be a daily part of D.C., we also know violent protests are not a daily occurrence. We know that the Capitol does not experience violence like this on a daily basis. Congressional members do not have to hit the floor or bar the doors or quickly get out of the building on a daily basis.

I don’t pretend to know what motivates you. I haven’t been able to figure out why you continue loyalty to a man who doesn’t care if you live or die; he only cares that you give him what he needs by any means necessary. And just because you served him loyally for nearly four years, doesn’t mean that counted on the day he wanted to remain president.

I cannot figure how how you can justify all of that. Perhaps you can explain that to me.

Someday.

Meanwhile, I feel concerned that you don’t understand the danger you were in, that your family was in. I feel concerned that your naivete doesn’t get that Trump doesn’t like you and will put you in danger – again – if it means he wins.

Is it your Christian faith that chooses to believe Trump is the guy to make your Republican dreams come true or is it greed and a desire for power?

What would Jesus say to you if you were to actually speak to him?

I don’t think you would like the answer he would give you.

But this is one time you should listen to it.

ALL OF US

I recently came across this clever little meme that talks about who is a true American that has given us the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom to demonstrate, freedom of the press.

 

“It’s the Veteran, not the reporter,
who has given us the freedom of the press.
It’s the Veteran, not the poet,
who has given us the freedom of speech.
It’s the Veteran, not the community organizer,
who gives us the freedom to demonstrate.
It’s the Military who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

 

I have news for whoever wrote this.

You’re wrong because it takes all of us to make sure those rights exist and stay in place.

By excluding the community organizer, you exclude the people who call us to arms, to try to right the wrongs of the community as we see it. Community organizers are not just demonstrating in the streets, they are recruiting people to their cause – be it the army, the alt-right, the women’s march, or their house of worship. And whose words are they using?

They use the words of the poets, the dreamers, those who can speak eloquently about the things the rest of us believe but can’t put into words. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander  were incredible writers who put into words the things that our burgeoning nation wanted and dreamed of. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence that still stirs our souls over two hundred years later. Hamilton wrote various portions of the Constitution and went on to write the majority of the Federalist Papers that define and explain the Constitution even further. Where would we be without the writers of the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, or I’m Proud to be an American?

By excluding the voter, you exclude the people  who do the hardest part of this nation. They go to the ballot box and make their voice heard. Sometimes your side wins, sometimes your side loses. Other nations fight for this right. Other nations have election day ruined by those factions who throw acid or shoot at voters. That doesn’t happen here. And let’s work to make sure that never does happen.

You want to prop up the military as the only fighters of freedom. And a part of me understands. But the other part says that’s not going to happen because the military isn’t the only one doing the heavy lifting of democracy. The work belongs to all of us – the poet, the organizer, the artist, the voter, the journalist, the mother and father, the every day joe and josephine, the soldier.

Someone has to inspire, someone has to gather us together, someone has to create the images and flags, someone has to write about it, someone has to work with the children, someone has to do the everyday work of the nation, someone has to protect it. We are in this together despite looking and being different in so many way.

DEMOCRACY REQUIRES ALL OF US!

 

So Together

So Together
by Kadir Nelson

The only question left is what are you doing to protect our democracy?

 

 

 

The Wait is Over

When Trump was first elected, people said wait it out. They said to give him a chance.

Then he began tweeting about Saturday Night Live and vote numbers and Happy New Years greetings to his enemies

womes-march-chicagoBy the time he was about to be inaugurated, I knew from his behavior and cabinet choices what he said during the election was true.

So I chose to march on the 21st. Did it proudly and didn’t throw it in people’s faces.

I hear people call the marchers lazy, “why don’t they go to work?” I had support from several friends who couldn’t go because they were working.

I saw women post the reaction about why they are proud that they didn’t march. They can’t believe others would because we have so many rights and women in other countries don’t. But what they refused to understand is that our marching was not only for our rights in this country but women around the world. Even women in the Antarctic marched. Womens’ Rights are Human Rights.

People want these marchers to shut up and go home. Back in October, there was a New York Post article that came out to say stop posting political stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, that’s not happening. Especially as 45 keeps at it. (I am not calling the orange one by his name, only his number).

So when 45 issues an illegal Executive Order, such as the Muslim Ban, I am speaking out. Bannon and co. think if they only talk about Islam as a political movement then it won’t be a religion, and any orders about the Islamic people are constitutional. That’s as silly as Paleonistas stating beans aren’t a real food.

When uninformed and uninterested persons are being nominated for cabinet positions, I am speaking out by calling my senators ad nauseum. I am calling my representative to make sure they get the tally mark for my opinion. (When calling your rep or senator state your name, your zip code, and your issue. Leave the reasons why out, just say the basics.)

Let me make something clear to 45, Bannon, Sessons, Pence, Gorsuch, the Alt Right, and their followers. All those people you hate are living beings. They are out of the closet, out of the apron, out of the plantation. None of us are going back. NONE. OF.US.

We like working so that we can provide for our families. We like being able to live wherever we want. We like being able to have health care and the medications we need covered by that health insurance. We like being able to pray in our churches, in our synagogues, in our mosques. We like not having to go to church if we don’t feel like it.

diverse-colorful-happy-peopleWhat we want is to be able to live and work and worship as we see fit. And, just like you, we do not want to be judged for the things that are none of your business – our religion, who we sleep with, the color of our skin. We want to walk in this world knowing we are not going to get shot, get raped, get bullied, -and have all the blame dropped at our feet – just because we are there.

What we want is the feeling you have everyday. And what you need to understand is that you will lose nothing in letting that happen. You might gain something. In words paraphrased from “Hamilton,” the world is wide enough for all of us.

All of us.

Keep Wearing the Hat

So this past weekend, we put on our hats. We marched in our cities, and big towns, and small towns, and on a boat. We held all sorts of signs letting people know that women’s rights are human rights.

But the days following has seen plenty of blow back.

“Why are these women marching?”

“I have plenty of rights.”

“Those hats look stupid, take them off.”

“After marching, the ladies were home in time to make supper.”

“Why don’t they just give the money it cost to go to the march to a charity?”

Don’t get discouraged. Saturday was a great and terrible day. I was amazed by all who showed up to protest, to make our voices heard. But I was saddened that we still need to do this, tell people that women have rights and deserve rights. Women is our country do not deserve to be beaten by significant others. Women in other countries deserve to move freely, go to school, and receive proper medical care.

However, if you are reading all of the stories and some fighting within march participants, don’t give up. This is only the beginning and the start can be rough. Now is the time when we congeal and find our collective voice.  An article in USA today gives some ideas on what to do next.

I like this because we need to have a direction for our anger and frustration. We need to be focused. So let me add my list to what we can do until the next march in April.

  1. pussy-hatContinue to wear the hat. Yes, it is awkward and not in your usual color.                                                                                                                   So what!                                                                                                                Someone made that hat for you. It may not have taken a lot of time on their part but wear it with pride. Until you put away winter stuff, wear your hat wherever you go. Bring it our again in the fall. You are sending a signal to others who wanted to go and couldn’t. You are that safe person they can talk to. And when the haters come to yell at you, don’t yell back, don’t swear at them. Tell them you believe what you believe and move on.
  2. Put your senators and representative on speed dial on your cell phone. Call them daily or weekly, especially when an issue you cherish is on the line.
  3. volunteer-graphicPick an issue and work for it. Maybe it is Standing Rock or Planned Parenthood or Immigration Rights. Find one that speaks to your interests and passions. Then do the hard part and give them money and/or your time – every month.
  4. Build your community. Volunteer at a food pantry or mentor program or youth program. Be a coach or a helper for the Girl Scouts or tutor school children or help seniors in your neighborhood. It can be something short and sweet or a longer commitment but do something that makes you feel better about where you live. Grab some friends to join you in this endeavor.
  5. Help get people out for the vote. If you know someone who is not registered but wants to vote, take them to get the paperwork completed. If someone you know had issues with their registration, help them get it sorted now so they can vote in upcoming primaries. Voters need to develop a pattern of voting and by taking care of that now, those votes will matter more next time.  Imagine if each of us helped one person to have the right to vote.
  6. iPhone crass

    Picture by Crass

    Plan one day a week to be totally offline. No social media, no phone games, no texting or e-mail (maybe just reduce this last one to the most important stuff.) Use this time to relax, sleep late, walk the dog, or clean your home.

  7. Lastly, plan one day a week to have fun. You can do this on the same day you go offline. Plan a visit with friends. Take in a meal or go to a museum or the library or a long walk in a state park. Throw a pot luck game night. You need to do this to re-charge and take care of yourself. After all, if you spend all your time being earnest, you become of bit dull and overbearing to your friends.

I know some of you are frustrated. I know some of you are feeling disheartened. Maybe this list is overwhelming. Start with baby steps by starting with the hat. Every week add one of the steps until you have all of them. Soon, you will know that you are doing something – a lot of somethings – to improve your immediate world and the bigger issues.

Just remember to be kind, to make your message without swearing, without profanity, without sexual innuendo. We don’t need to be violent or destroy property.  We are doing something infinitely much scarier.

We are speaking up, together.

dont-be-silent

Transitioning

It is finally the week of the inauguration.

Despite my fears of the Trump administration – Muslim Registry, loss of health insurance, decreased rights for women, decreased rights for the LGBT community, loss of first amendment rights for the press and citizens – it is a weekend to be filled with pomp, circumstance, and speeches. The parades and balls will be incredible.

melaniaAs this week has come closer, I began to realize how sorry I felt for Melania.

She did not run for this office. She tends to be a private person and does not live in the spotlight. I am guessing the various pictorial spreads of their penthouse was a real intrusion.

However, at this time the real invasion is about to start. Maybe Melania thought the press was everywhere she went before. But now, oh, it is going to be 1000 times worse. Every dress, every outfit, every decision she makes in the East Wing is going to be scrutinized. Granted, the first six months will be easier because she is staying in New York City with Barron.

After that, she can expect criticism for the simplest of decisions, be it how she decorates the family quarters or any trips she takes or how she talks of her choice social issue. Staffing issues will be leaked and god forbid her husband steps into whatever fray there may be on Twitter. No one will let her forget past mistakes or photo shoots.

I say this because I have seen the comment pages on any article about Melania. There are those who praise her for being a class act and those who bring up the nude photos every chance they get. I have heard her called some vile names that may or may not be true. It’s not cool, not right, not classy no matter which side of the aisle you sit. But this is what we do to first ladies, right?

michelle-vera-wangMichelle Obama has been called some awful names and imagined to be a man. Her fight on childhood obesity has been vilified. Her dress choices have been scorned. Doesn’t matter that she went to an Ivy League university and law school. Or that she held a very prestigious position before going to the White House. This happened with other first ladies, including Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Clinton.

Soon enough, Trump’s years will be over and we can look forward to the weekly headlines in the scandal rags about how Melania is filing for divorce. Just like they do for every presidential couple at the end of their term, including both sets of Bush presidents.

Wait, I saw that last week on the side of my Facebook feed.

Good luck, Melania. You’re going to need it.

Facts are Friends

There are times in our life that being right really matters.

My husband and I have this conversation often as another inane argument over some minor details rolls on until we are both yelling at each other.

It ends with me yelling “Is it more important to be right or do right?”

By that I mean sometimes it is important to give up arguing to prove you’re right when it doesn’t matter. Such as when your batty aunt insist the dinner plates are red when they are clearly blue. Just agree with her and keep her happy.

Sometimes, though, it does matter, and then being right and doing right is one and the same.

For instance, it is constantly coming up on my facebook feed that Trump won the popular vote as well as the electoral college. According to a false Google report Trump gained 62.9 while Hillary won 62.2. It’s usually followed by ‘Suck it up, cupcake. Your candidate lost. Big Time.’

You Trump fans want it to be true, I know. But this is one time where you’re not.  And it is a sad day when you have to lie about something that can so easily be fact checked. It took me all of five minutes as I went to a progressive site and choose to go to a more conservative site to have a second source.

The actual numbers run  at 62.4 million votes for Hillary and 61.2 million votes for Donald. That is according to The Nation, a progressive magazine who used The Cook Political Report as their source. Cook chooses to be non-partisan. And in case you think I am telling a fibber, it turns out that The National Review also thinks Hillary won the popular vote while losing the electoral college.  The National Review is one of those conservative bastions. (An expert stated on 11/20/16 that Hillary may have gotten nearly 2 Million more votes.)

So stop with the nana-nana-boo-boo bits. The woman won the popular vote, just not in the right places to make the electoral votes go in her favor. And we know that liking it is another thing all together. But when you lie about it, it makes the rest of us doubt every word you are saying about anything else.

Same goes with the story about the 11-year-old boy who was beaten-up in school. There is a video attributed to Fox26 in Houston. When I look for collaborating stories, I cannot find any. There is no other video or stories from other area TV Stations or newspapers in the area.

However, the amount of alt-right websites carrying this story has grown since  last week. Worse yet was when I thought I found call letters they started with a W. Any self respecting Texan who knows they are west of the Mississippi River knows that TV and radio stations begin with a “K” and not a “W.”

It is not necessary to make up these stories, as the young woman did in Louisiana regarding having her hajib torn from her head. Sure, you want to make people on the opposite side  look bad. Trust me on this, they don’t need your help. There is the real crime of a Trump voter who got beaten up in Chicago along with an uptick in hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, and others since the election.

Lying about something happening to you by a member of the opposite political party or about the numbers in which your candidate beat the other is not the way to be credible. You want to have something to say, prove your point about your view of things.

Then take my suggestion – use facts whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

What Are You?

It is two days after the election and Donald Trump is now are president.

Let that sink in for a moment. because one of the more interesting trends I am seeing with my Trump-loving friends is shock and surprise that they are being seen as racist, white supremacist, uneducated.

“I am not that,” they are saying. “The evil press is depicting me like that.”

So the question that must be asked is this: If you vote for a candidate, do you hold some of his qualities, all of his qualities, or none?

trump-hillary

If I am to be frank, Trump said some things in this campaign that were truly deplorable.

If you voted for him do you believe what he says, do you believe his statements to be true or do you vote for his promise to make America great again?

Conversely, I voted for Hillary. Does that mean I am corrupt and willing to bend the rules to make them fit for me?

In asking that, I want to make sure I get it. There are times that I have seen Trump supporters be awful. They cold-cocked a black protesters as he was being lead out of the arena. They kick the wheel chair of a boy with cerebral palsy as he was being lead out. They screamed at a Muslim woman as she silently stood, and wore tee-shirts saying ‘Trump that Bitch.’

On the other hand, Hillary called Trump supporters ‘deplorables.’ A Muslim father  of a dead soldier ask Trump what he sacrificed for this country. Various Clinton supporters called Trump unfit for office, citing his inability to control emotions on his twitter account.

All the same, am I and others voters in this country similar to the candidate we vote for – with all of their good and bad traits? Am I a liar with a need to protect my privacy at all costs? Are Trump voters haters to the extreme?

It is tempting to paint the two camps with one paint brush for each. Liars and law-breakers, haters and violent asses.

The problem in all of this is that we are neighbors. There are no distinct areas of only Hillary voters and only Trump voters. We live next to each other and in the same towns.  Can we work to Make America Stronger Together?

Maybe not today or this week. But we are going to have to do it soon. Because the problems we face may not be solved by big government, it might be better to work with each other in our own communities. And to make all that happen, we need to let go of our pre-conceived notions.

Are you willing to try?

workingtogether

 

 

It has been over two weeks since the video of Trump was released to the public.

We heard a reality TV star, the one now running for president, state that he can grab pussy whenever he likes because he is famous and women will let him get away with doing that.

trump-videoBut every time I hear that phrase or hear people defend his words, I get uncontrollably angry.  I know there is someone freaking out and reliving a memory she doesn’t want to remember of someone grabbing her because they had to power and ability to ride over her objections.

I am not sure what is worse, him saying it, even if it was ten years ago, or people defending it.  They say it is boy talk or locker room talk or what men say all of the time when women are not around.

I have heard men blow it off, relegate it to the trash. And then there are other men who state that in their locker rooms, this is not how they talk.

That doesn’t stop Trump, his wife, and other men say it was nothing and this is how men speak.

It leaves me wondering about every man I know. Does he speak this way with other men? Does he realize that participating in this talk upholds rape culture? Does this mean the men I know who quietly condone this talk also quietly condone behavior that is rape?

And then I realize that if they do quietly condone rape, if they never speak out against this type of talk, that I cannot trust them. If this is OK in their eyes when speaking with other men, is it okay to act out on those words? Is discussion about rape normal for all men or most men or only some men?

I don’t know and that scares me. It scares me not just for my own sake but for my daughter and her friends and any woman. Who knew that making America great again meant putting women in their place as sexual objects for men like this?

Trump isn’t talking about what he would like to do or what he wishes he could do to women he finds attractive. He is talking about past action. That he kissed beautiful women, that he grabbed pussy. That he violated a woman’s personal private area.

I could be paranoid or crazy. Except I know I am not. Women know what he meant by that phrase. We know from our daily experiences of guys trying to get a quick feel, or tell us to smile or say hello, or cat-calling vulgarities in our direction that a stranger’s propriety behavior over our bodies is not going away..

It works on our sense of safety, our sense of comfort. When we see our males friends agreeing with that statement of locker room talk, that sense of safety shrinks a little more. It makes me feel scared, it makes me feel like crawling up in a corner and hiding from the world, it makes me mad as hell and not wanting to take it anymore.

I and other women are not your toy, your plaything, your sexual release – especially if permission was not given.

What do these men care? All that Mr. Trump, and men who agree with his ‘locker room talk,’ want to do is grab pussy and to hell with it being permitted.

That’s just not okay. To talk about it like that is not normal because rape is not normal. Grabbing pussy without permission is not normal. When men engage in ‘locker room talk’ and condone it, they condone the behavior that is not normal.

How many times do we have to say this behavior, this speech is not normal?

We say it until people finally understand that rape is never a crime of passion or lust. Rape is a crime of overpowering someone to do your will in the most intimate ways possible.

That is most offensive of all.