Martin Luther King Day, 2018

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By , January 14, 2018 2:32 pm
If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

He was one of my heroes, and meeting him, even though only for a moment in time, overwhelmed me. There were others at that rally in 1965, too – famous civil rights leaders whose names you would likely know if you know anything about the civil rights movement, but I’d be lying if I could tell you that I can remember anything specific they said that night. For me, it was all about being in Martin Luther King’s presence and being inspired by him.

So I stared at the protective detail around King as he made his way across the floor.  As a volunteer helping out at the rally, I had been assigned a spot up front near the speakers’ platform, and somehow, I seemed to be right in his path. I think his detail expected me to move or get out of the way as they made their way toward the platform, but I was so stunned that I just stood there. And that’s how I wound up face to face with my hero.

“Reverend King, Reverend King,” I said.

“What is it, my child?” he asked me kindly.

And I couldn’t find any words. I just cried. In a moment, he moved on.

I wish I had found the words in time to tell him how much he meant to me, but I hope he knew. I’d like to believe he did.

We were a weird and glorious mix at that rally – black and white together – the poor and the middle class – old and young – those who were genuinely committed to activism and those who were just playing at it because it was politically correct to be liberal. But there was an electricity in the air at the arena – an electricity and energy that he radiated and nurtured. It was the power of his words and his moral clarity that enabled me – and so many others – to stay nonviolent in our protests.

One of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog was about Martin Luther King.  I wrote it in April, 2006, and a lot of what I was describing is as true today as it was then.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, I have no doubt that had King lived, he never would have let President Trump’s “shithole” remark go unchallenged. And he would not have waffled or tried to excuse the president’s egregious conduct by saying it was only “racially ignorant” or “racially uninformed.”

Martin Luther King would have elevated the conversation to talking about human dignity and how we treat each other.  In doing so, he would make the president look like the very small man he is, but that wouldn’t be his goal. His goal would be to help us become better people and to create a better and more equitable society for all.

So please, cable news folks: stop trying to prompt people to express anger or disgust with Trump’s comments. No person of good moral character could ever condone what he said, and if your point is to highlight the cowardice of members of Congress to stand up for what’s right, well, that’s already too painfully obvious. Raise your sights and raise the level of the conversation.

In any event, if you never heard jazz drummer Max Roach do solo accompaniment to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, watch and listen, and get inspired by the message:


What will you do on this day in history?

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By , November 8, 2016 9:48 am

Nov. 8, 2016 –

One day, my grandchildren, if I am fortunate enough to have any, may ask “How did Granny and Grandpa vote in the election of 2016?”

So to future generations:

Today, for the first time in more than 35 years, we went to the polls together. Our votes often tend to cancel each other out if we both vote, as we tend to disagree on a lot of issues. But today – today – we both went to vote together because we are both convinced that Donald Trump is despicable and a threat to our country.

And I hope that the GOP will take note: when you have one independent and one ultra-ultra-Conservative both firmly rejecting your candidate for the highest office in this land and both see your candidate as a threat to democracy, you’ve screwed up. While we despise Clinton, too, she was absolutely correct when she said Trump is “unhinged” and “temperamentally unfit” to be President.

In fact, both major parties should take note: we’re tired of voting for the lesser of evils: give us a candidate of good ethical character who loves – and understands – the Constitution and rule of law, and who has some knowledge of both domestic and foreign affairs and will work towards a better world while keeping America strong. Surely you can find someone who meets those criteria, no?

My grandparents came to this country to escape persecution and for the dream of a better life.  Two of them came over with their mothers and siblings after their fathers had come ahead to find a place to live and a job to support them. Two of them came over by themselves, as their siblings sent for them after saving money for their trip. But they all came with a dream. And whenever I see the Statue of Liberty, I am thankful that they had that opportunity. And I am proud that America was the country that took in people and was a “melting pot.” Yes, our country has a long history of discrimination to overcome, but there has been progress, and it needs to continue, not be reversed.

Donald Trump’s vision of America is not my vision. I refuse to be afraid of people who have different religions or come from different cultures. I do not want to live in a country that judges people based on the color of their skin, their religion, or their country of origin. And I refuse to turn my back on those who are fleeing persecution or war-torn countries or who came here to find a better life.

We are better than that, America.

Tonight, I will find out what we, the people, have done to our future. I just hope that we make a decision that future generations will appreciate and that today, we do not create a more dangerous world for them.

On this day in history, I voted. Have you?

Update: Nov. 9.


Zing! went the strings of my heart

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By , July 4, 2016 10:52 am

How do you explain love at first sight? I had no idea, as I struggled last night to explain to a husky rescue organization how my family had fallen in love with a dog named “Indy.”


Was it the look on her face? A message in her eyes?


I don’t know, but I knew as soon as I saw her. And maybe the fact that she’s named “Indy” was God’s way of making sure I got the message that she was meant to be with us. I wouldn’t even want to change her name. It’s…. perfect.

Yes, she has challenges. So what if she does? Almost everyone in my family and two of our previous three dogs had challenges – challenges that we’ve always managed to overcome.

I don’t know whether the rescue organization will agree to let us adopt her. We’re so far away from them and I could certainly appreciate any hesitation on their part. They want the best for her. So do we.

So we’re hoping and waiting.  Maybe our veterinarian will tell them about how our past dogs were treated and they’ll be reassured. Or maybe when they do a home visit, they’ll see that every room has dog art and that it’s filled with love. I don’t know how we assure them that Indy is right for us and we’re right for Indy.  I just know.

In the meantime, I hope the rescue organization tells Indy that there’s a family who wants her and a “furever” home waiting for her. Every dog deserves to know they’re loved.

Update July 7: She’s ours! We’ve been approved and look forward to going out to Illinois to bring her home after we get the back yard suitably Indy-friendly!

Finding a small measure of comfort… at a dump

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By , July 4, 2016 9:55 am

My husband went to the town dump yesterday to get rid of stuff as we continue to try to clear out decades of accumulated… well, stuff.

While he was there, he noticed a woman unloading boxes and bins of her own.  She looked to be in her 70s. When he saw that she was going to throw away some great plastic bins with covers, he said, “Are you throwing those bins away?”

“Yes,” she said. “My husband died, and I’m clearing out some of his things.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” my husband said, and paused. “But if you’re really going to throw them away, I could use them. They’re great for wood.”

“Wood?” she asked, her face growing animated. “That’s what my husband used them for! Do you make things out of wood, too?””

“Yes,” my husband told her. “I have a woodworking shop as a hobby, and those bins are great for storing small pieces of wood that I use for making boxes.”

“Wait, then,” she said, and happily pulled out a box of sandpaper. “My son was going to get rid of this, too. Would you like it?”

My husband saw that the sandpaper was not high quality and mostly used, but said, “Yes, that would be very helpful, thanks!”

So a widow, who was dealing with the sadness of saying goodbye to her husband’s memories, wound up smiling at a town dump, because her husband’s belongings were now going to someone who would appreciate them. Somehow, it makes loss a little more bearable when you can tell yourself that the person you loved lives on – even if it’s just the knowledge that some fellow woodworker is using their supplies.

And because he said he could use the sandpaper, well, that’s just another reason I really love my husband.

A dog named “Rally.”

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By , July 17, 2015 10:10 pm

We got Rally from a shelter.  The tag on her cage said she was a 3-month-old German Shepherd/collie mix, and since we already had one dog with that mix, we thought she’d make a great companion for the older dog. In time, we would come to realize that Rally was really a Heinz 57 varieties mutt, with a lot of terrier and almost no detectable German Shepherd or collie, but by then, it no longer mattered – she was our little nut job.

The shelter’s records also showed that “Nutter Butter,” as they had named her, had survived Parvo, something that kills about 90% of the dogs that contract it if they are not treated. Clearly, this little puppy was a survivor, but the illness had taken a toll and she seemed somewhat subdued as I took her out of her cage, held her in my arms, and fell in love with her. Minutes later, as I went to take her to the desk to complete the last paperwork in the adoption process, I found out why she was so subdued. The staff ran a final check on her and discovered that she was running a fever and had several infections. They took her away from me to examine her further. When they came back, they gently suggested I pick another puppy, as they didn’t think she would make it.

“No,” I told them. “She’s my puppy and she’s going to get better.” They tried again to convince me to pick another puppy. I resisted again and told them that they had to save her.

For the next week, she was in ICU. The staff would call me and give me bad news and suggest again and again that I find another puppy. And I’d refuse and ask them what they were doing to help her recover.  Every night, my family would drive to the shelter and visit her in the ICU. We’d hold her and explain to her that we wanted her to rally and get better so she could come home with us.

And so after yet another call from the ICU suggesting we let her go and pick another puppy, we turned our baseball caps backwards, formally re-named her “Rally,” and asked everyone to keep her in their prayers.

That was 11 years ago, and for the last 11 years, Rally has brought us laughter and love. Her early illnesses took a toll on her system and she’s had some problems, but overall, she’s done remarkably well for a dog who had such a rough start in life.

Tonight, though, Rally collapsed in the back yard. Suddenly unable to walk, she cried pitifully.

We rushed her to an emergency veterinary service who sent us to another hospital where they would be able to run an MRI. They gave her a pain injection to try to ease her misery and anxiety as she was in obvious and severe distress.

We do not know what caused this sudden problem – a slipped disc, a tumor, a stroke? We’ll find out more tomorrow after the surgical team evaluates her. I don’t know at what point they’ll run the MRI, but I expect they’ll need it to make the differential diagnosis. And what happens next, well, it will all depend on what they find.

So if you happen to see this post, please keep Rally in your prayers.  She could use lots of positive energy right now.

Thank you.

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