Ordinary but Remarkable

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., my husband and I visited monuments to some extraordinary people–some who founded this country, others who led us through tough times. We remember and honor one such person today–Martin Luther King. Thinking of these people leads me to also to think of the millions of extraordinary people who go unrecognized.

In 2016 I had a surprise encounter in a cemetery with a couple of long-dead uncles (long story, another post) that inspired me to finally begin work on a family history that is now in the works. As I learn more about each family member it strikes me that these ordinary people let truly remarkable lives.

Two such ordinary men were Charley and Johei.

Charley was born shortly after the civil war. He met and married Minnie in Texas where they began their lives together. Around 1910, Charley moved his growing  family to the Sacramento area where he worked as a laborer, helping build a bridge over the Sacramento River.

While Charley was building a bridge in California, Johei was working as a farm hand on Vashon Island, Washington, having come from Japan via Hawaii. He eventually made his way to the mainland Seattle area. Johei married his picture bride, Hatsuma, and they raised their family near Seattle. By then, Johei had begun farming on his own. He worked land owned by others, because the law prevented Japanese immigrants from purchasing their own land. Johei improved the land, installing a sprinkler irrigation system to extend his growing season. He was the only Japanese farmer in western Washington to do so.

Both Charley and Johei and their families lived through the years of World War I and endured the Great Depression. Charley did not live to see World War II; Johei and his family had their lives ripped away from them when Executive Order 9066 caused them to be sent to concentration camps for the duration of the war.

And so it goes.

The U.S. has been built by millions of Charleys and Joheis. They have farmed the lands, built the bridges and skyscrapers, educated the children, defended us and saved the world from tyrants. Billionaires and moguls owe their success to these ordinary people, without whom they could not have built their financial empires.

Lately those billionaires and moguls, including the President, have come to believe they are entitled to more. They prey upon the poor. They ravage sacred lands to add to their bank accounts. They take away from the ordinary but remarkable people who have built this country in order to enrich themselves. Congress enables them.

It is time for those of us who are able to speak out against this trend. It is time to elect officials who will work for the ordinary people they are elected and sworn to represent. It is time for all of us to become involved at the voting booth. It is time to honor the millions of remarkable, ordinary men and women who built this country.


Minnie and Clarence RussellCharlie and Minnie


It’s Time

I had planned for this post to be about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. I’ll have to put that one on hold for a later post. Recent news has compelled me to comment, or rant, about another topic.

It is high time for President Trump to go away.

Yesterday, Donald Trump granted a pardon to Joe Arpaio. Arpaio had been convicted of defying a federal injunction to stop detaining individuals based on what amounts to racial profiling. Trump’s pardon of Arpaio flouts both the law and the power of the federal courts.

This isn’t the first time Trump has thumbed his nose at decency.

By his remarks in response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump has emboldened white supremacists and other hate groups.

He has repeatedly offended leaders of other nations.

He seems to govern by tweet.

His financial dealings are shady at best.

His bombastic remarks aimed at North Korea created some tense moments over the possibility of nuclear war. The threat is still there, but Trump has moved on to create havoc on other fronts.

Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax, and pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. (This seems to be a total reversal of his views in 2009 when he signed a letter calling for urgent action on climate change.*)

The President called for an investigation into voter fraud seemingly because he thought he didn’t win the election by a wide enough margin.

He has spent an inordinate amount of time playing golf.

He has also spent way too much time pandering to his base and holding rallies that look like campaign events. He is less than a year into his first (and I hope only) term. He should be using that time to take seriously the tasks of governing.

His supporters have continually turned a blind eye to his displays of racism, cruelty, and mental instability.

And then there’s the Russian problem.

If none of this terrifies you, you haven’t been paying attention; or maybe you just don’t care.

It is time for Congress to stop enabling this madness. It is time for Donald Trump to go away.

I remain cautiously optimistic that this country will one day return to sanity.

To my fellow Americans: Please use the power of your voices and votes where you feel they will do the most good.

To my readers who are not Americans: Please pray for our country.

einstein quote *http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/12/trump-climate-timeline/



Today the House of Representatives held a premature vote regarding the American Health Care Act.

They did not wait for the Congressional Budget Office to report on the possible cost and other ramifications of the proposed legislation.

News reports suggest that most (if not all) members of Congress did not even bother to read the entire bill before voting.

The vote was almost entirely a straight party-line vote. Only twenty Republicans voted against the bill, along with all Democrats.

After the vote, they celebrated. Apparently they had beer on hand before the vote even took place.

I think it is safe to say, these members of Congress did not have the best interests of the country in mind when they acted.

Their action was never really about health care, although if the legislation goes forward, many stand to suffer.

No. This was all about winning. Our side versus your side. Republicans versus Democrats. Rich versus Poor. Healthy versus Sick. Us versus Them.

How did we get here? Why are we so divided that we cannot look beyond a label and do what is right? More importantly, how do we fix it? I wish I had the answer.

Today, 217 members of Congress played with our lives when they voted for this bill which was rushed through the process without proper research, thought, or consideration of constituents’ opinions. They acted irresponsibly and out of selfish interest. I support the defeat of every one of those 217 Congressmen and Congresswomen when they come up for reelection in 2018.constitution-62943_640

Just Thinkin’ about Civic Action

I have joined the Resistance. I’ve knitted these hats and sent them off to be worn by participants in the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on January 21.

My “civic action knitting” is largely symbolic, but I hope these hats will join thousands of others to make a powerful statement in favor of women’s issues and against misogyny.

Each of us who has a voice must step forward and speak against all forms of hatred–racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia–whenever and wherever we can.