Wednesday, November 9, 2016


My beloved blog has been taking back seat to my heavy schedule and homework.  Not intentionally, I have been disconnected with an audience that I worked hard to build.  This morning, I arrived at school and found my first class cancelled – my Poetry Professor (capitalized out of respect) probably too depressed to hold class.  Or he’s nursing a wicked hangover.  Or he’s sick…

Last night, the country watched television and computer feeds that returned election results we definitely were not expecting.  I live in California (our friends call it the ‘left coast’ for our left-wing politics) and our extended family is in either Boston or New York City.  Our insulated bubbles of left-wing surround sound did not prepare us for the majority of our country screaming for change.  NO to the status quo – NO to Congress at a stand-still – NO to our increasing debt.  Domestic policies be damned, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.

The United States.

When we lived overseas our friends laughed at that name.  “You are Fifty countries sharing one government!” They would joke- and that joke was not far from the truth.  We live in a place so diverse, we have to work hard to feel united about anything. 

Despite what most of our friends living in other countries think, the country’s decision to elect Donald Trump was a hotly contested fight to death, and many Americans believe that he is dragging the corpse of our ideals, it’s flesh still fresh from the kill, all the way to the swearing-in ceremony. 
If you’re interested, here is how these things came about:

  • 1.        The Majority of Americans are EXTREMELY WORRIED about our national debt – and should be.  

We were in South Africa when we heard – ON EVERY RADIO AND TELEVISION STATION – that the USA had lost its AAA Credit rating on the world market.    When we lost this top-tier AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's it was an unprecedented blow to the world's largest economy.  It happened in the wake of a political battle that nearly took the country to the brink of default.  It exposed that the USA spent far more than it was producing.

President Obama signed legislation designed to reduce the fiscal deficit by $2.1 TRILLION over 10 years -- Budget Control Act of 2011.  This action was well short of the $4 trillion in savings S&P had called for as “a good down payment” on fixing America's finances on the world exchange system.

All of this happened while we lived in another country – and we wondered how it would affect our money, our assets, and our children’s future. 

I went to American news stations – and guess what? They were reporting on Jerry Lewis and how he would would no longer host any further MDA telethons.  American political shows, like the Daily Show, were poking fun of Michelle Bachman and her face.  There was some talk of “immigration reform” and Obama opened his arms to more people streaming into the United States, citing our open policies of taking care of our own. 

“Where are we getting the money?” I wondered…
That’s when I became a Libertarian.

  • 2.        The Majority of Americans are SICK AND TIRED OF CAREER POLITICIANS.    

The 2016 US Presidential campaign saw some interesting stuff.  It was filled with brilliant candidates and I wondered how America would choose.  Both big parties put forward their best, but it was a hard, long race that required money and political favors right and left. 

My candidate, Rand Paul, represented common sense and the Constitution.  I am a fan of both.  He was out early.

 Bernie Sanders, an Independent Party junior senator from Vermont organized the largest grass-roots campaign that America has ever seen.  People who didn’t vote registered and swore allegiance to the ideals that Sanders held – that together we could make a difference. 
The debates were brutal.  Many people didn’t watch because of the inability of candidates to do anything more than promote themselves. 

In the end, the Republican Party, with much hesitation, put forth Trump as a candidate.  Democrats traded the popular favorite (Sanders) for the politically savvy Clinton.

This is when it became a pit with two vipers – and we (the American Public) were watching in horror and disbelief.  Many people insisted that Hillary would be “more of the same” – a person who would promote the Democrat’s platform instead of manage the country for us all.  Trump was seen as a loose cannon – the candidate that somehow made it in despite such a (fill-in-the-blank) personal character.

We are a nation that uses the electoral college, a group of electors who cast their votes for whomever their district elects.  And last night, we watched the Electoral College – declare that Trump had it. 

  • 3.       The Majority of Americans are on one side or the other – we are a nation divided. 

There are always the Versailles Treaties that precedes the Hitlers.  There is always a pendulum swing to cause a certain political action. 

President Obama has overseen, in his eight years in office, more domestic terrorism than any other president.  We are a nation at war with itself.  The economic divide (between rich and poor) and the social divide (between represented and under-represented) in our country is staggering.  There are single mothers (like our daughter) working their tail off to make a living.  People of color –especially African Americans, feel unsafe in the presence of people designed to protect them.  Waitresses that work long hours and can no longer feed their families. 

To remedy this, Obama’s administration has tried to legislate change.  His administration has produced more social programs and regulations than any other president in history.  As a Libertarian, I can testify that more government is not the answer – it only creates more debt. The cost of running this country has increased dramatically.  We are now holding a debt that we …can never repay. 
Ouch.  That hurts to write.

Obama’s Job Approval (according to the Economist) say that Fifty percent (50%) of the country approve of the job he has done, and forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.  The chasm between the two sets is wide – and unfriendly.  On one side, people see a president who is suave, loves people, and represents us all as a whole.  On the other side, people feel abused, forgotten, neglected by a country who is supposed to be their home.  Many small business owners feel squashed by the forced social programs and systems to which they must adhere.  Many immigrants finally feel represented.  Many people adore the way Obama leads – many others hate it so much they can barely speak his name. 

In a Republic (which is what we are) we elect officials to represent us.  A Democracy (which is what people think we are) the people speak for themselves.  We elect officials to run our nation – and our nation, like the officials that represent us – is fallible.

Many people blame our Commander in Chief, who is actually only one arm of our government.  We have the Supreme Court and the Legislature to share the load of responsibility or blame. 

In the 2016 election, the Pew Research Center revealed the three most important issues to America:
1.       Economy (which includes our National Debt)
2.       Terrorism (Domestic and International)
3.       Foreign Policy  (US support of Israel, especially)

“Middle America” has now decided that Trump is the man to tackle these issues.

We, as a country, are apprehensive about electing Donald Trump -- to say the least.  Trump is not a stunning example of our best, and I will say this no matter how many of my fellows would disagree with me. Then again, neither is Clinton.  I would have liked to see Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders in a race. 

I can say “if only” many times…but it won’t change things.

Last night, while listening to election results, I drove home from school.  The drive was long and hard and I was grieving.  Ahead of me, on Fair Oaks Boulevard, I saw flashing Police lights.  There, in the road, was a beautiful buck deer, sitting down as if he belonged in the middle of the road.  As my car past him, he looked at me.  There was a beautiful expression in his eyes, and his antlers were covered in a soft, brown velvet.  It occurred to me, as I passed him, that he had been hit by a car and the police were guarding him until animal control would arrive. 

I wept all the way home…and I haven’t stopped.

Pray for us.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Lilliana Grace
at Mahaffie’s Historic Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe 

When you love someone, really love someone, you want to know everything about them.  This used to apply mostly to Mario – the love of my life –as I tried to learn everything about him in order to love him better.

The older I get, the more this principle applies to my grandchildren.  It is especially true for Lilliana Grace, my enigmatic granddaughter who is happier to observe most conversations than participate in them.  Because I want so very much to know her, I spy on her.  

To be part of her world, I have researched Josh and Tyler, watched several Jack Septic-Eye videos and know who segue-way Steve is.  I know which emojis describe her.  I know that she has incredible relationships with colors because she is an artist (and how she prefers to wear certain hues while she paints her room dark)  

Because I love her, I want to know everything about her.  

Beautiful Lilliana

The last time we spent significant time together (this past August), I figured out something else beautiful and significant about Lilli: she remembers things.  She can store  details and facts that “normal” kids forget. Random things that we heard in passing, or trivial details about a destination and kept track 

We took a trip to Mahaffie’s Historic Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe on perhaps the most beautiful day of summer.  I sighed as we walked down to the coach.

“This is so beautiful, isn’t it?”  I motioned to the rolling sorghum fields, the red barn in the distance and the Poplar trees, whose leaves were blowing in the warm breeze. 

“Did you know that Olathe means ‘beautiful’ in another language?” Lilli asked, looking up at me. 

“Does it?” I asked, smiling.  The air was so warm and the sky was so blue and that day will forever be etched into my heart because Lilli glowed with summer as she told me. 

It turns out that Olathe does literally translate to “beautiful” in the Shawnee tongue.  When Dr. John Barton arrived in the spring of 1857,  the prairie was covered with verbena and other wild flowers. Barton asked his Shawnee guide how to say “beautiful” in his native language. The interpreter responded, “Olathe.”

Last Christmas!! Lilli in striped shirt in front
Because Lilli lives with her siblings (Max and Lauren) in Kansas and Mario and I live in California, our relationship is not the traditional Grandparent-grandchild type.  My own Grandma lived in the same city as I did as we grew up – she wore only dresses, didn’t drive a car, and hung her wash on a clothesline.  She baked cookies and sang songs in Spanish.  I loved her deeply and still think of her as a driving force in my life, an inspiration.  I want to be that kind of my Grandma to my Grandchildren, but today things are more complicated.  Lilli has four sets of grandparents – and we are the furthest away. 

But love knows no boundaries.  Love has the power to skip over natural barriers as easily as stones skip over water.  Lilli is in my daily prayers and I carry her with me wherever I go.  Because she is so incredibly valuable to me, I will continue to learn about her and find new reasons to love her.

Today, our Lilli will blow out candles on a birthday cake and the glow of her candles will light up her face like she lights up the world.

Happy Birthday, Lilli.  I hope you know that I do see you, even when you think I can’t, I do.  You are amazing, creative, brilliant, and loving.  I am so proud of you, honey.

 Oh! And BTW – did you know that your name, Lilliana means “beauty” in another language?  True story.