Current Events

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As Easter (Resurrection Day) arrives, I find myself thinking first of Good Friday. As a Christian, I have always felt quite saddened about the need for our savior to die on the cross, and yet, we were a lost and defeated world. We had no hope of salvation, or freedom of religion…whether we knew that or not. Prior to Jesus coming, the world’s religious views were very mixed up, with the worship of Pagan god’s and other beliefs that would get us a one-way ticket to Hell. Jesus came to show us the one true way to Heaven. The Bible says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus was our way out of the horrible mess we had gotten ourselves in. Though guilty of no sin, Jesus became sin for us that we might be saved. And…it is a free gift to us!!

I always thought of the horrible crime that was committed upon Jesus on Good Friday, and wondered how that awful day could be call “good,” but that is what God calls it…Good Friday. It was the day that everything was made right again, and it was a reason to celebrate. Jesus came to Earth, was scourged, bled, and died…for us. It was Jesus finished work on the cross that gives us victory over every situation in our lives. God knew we could never fix our present situation on our own. We needed a savior to change things for us, and Jesus came to be that savior.

As we celebrate this Easter season, better described as Resurrection Day, we all need to be mindful of the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made so that we can live a successful life full of day of Heaven on Earth, and when our days are done, we know that we can have the promise of eternal life in Heaven after we pass from this life, and it’s all because we have placed our trust in Jesus…the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is Risen!!! May you all have a wonderful Resurrection Day…and God bless you all.

Being arrested is probably one of the scariest things that can happen to a person, especially when they have done nothing wrong. For most of us, that will never happen, but it could, if our government is corrupt and run by a dictator. Such was the case in Nazi Germany. After Hitler was elected, he began to dismantle the police department, filling it with men who were loyal to him. Then, he gave them unlimited authority to go after anyone who disagreed with his plan. These people were not guilty of any crime, they were simply on the wrong side of the political and spiritual agenda of the time.

The Nazis set out to control every aspect of the lives of the people now under their control…making them little more than servants. It was a very dehumanizing system, whether the people were Jewish, Christian, Agnostic, or Atheist. Even the people who were in Hitler’s “good graces,” knew that one false move would end life as they knew it, or even get them killed. The Third Reich was the final authority in all things…at least at the time. The people were even subject to Hitler’s rules in the privacy of their own homes. The neighbors, and even some of their family members, became spies for the Third Reich. Once a “violation” was reported by anyone, the “perpetrator” was arrested, commonly in the middle of the night, hauled away, and often, never seen again. The Nazi leadership dramatically redefined the role of the police, giving them broad powers, completely independent of judicial review, to search, arrest, and incarcerate real or perceived state enemies and others they considered criminals.

Once a person was arrested, the police could do anything they chose to them to get them to talk…confess to their crimes. The victims of the police taken to Gestapo Headquarters where they were raped, beaten, tortured, enslaved, starved, and often killed, with no repercussions against the police at all. Their actions were considered above the law. They could even do those things to the people on the street, who were not under arrest for anything. The Supreme Court of that day, failed to challenge or protest the loss of judicial authority at this time. In general, it approved of the Nazi leadership’s decisive action. Further, the Supreme Court had been the court of first instance for treason cases since the Imperial period but, by the 1930s, it was overburdened with such trials and had endured relentless criticism from all sides for the judgments it rendered. The court was ultimately relieved to have responsibility for political crimes removed from its jurisdiction. It was another way to remove power from it’s proper place, and put it in the hands of the police, and ultimately Hitler.

The Secret State Police, called the Gestapo, which investigated political opposition, and the Criminal Police, called the Kripo, which handled all other types of criminal activity, were the two civilian forms of law enforcement officers. In addition, Hitler had the SS or the SA, which also imposed public order, but were considered paramilitary forces. The Gestapo was often used “protective custody” (Schutzhaft) to incarcerate people indefinitely, without specific charge or trial. These people were deemed to be potentially dangerous to the security of the Reich. Protective custody had been introduced in the German general law code before World War I to detain individuals for their own protection or to avert an immediate security threat if there were no other recourse. Do not be fooled by this. It was anything, but protective. The Gestapo employed protective custody to arrest political opponents at first, but later Jews, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses who, because of religious conviction, refused to swear an oath to the Nazi German state or to serve in the armed forces. So, now the people could not speak out politically or religiously, and remember that their gun were also gone. It was a precarious place to be. Hitler was in charge, and he considered anyone who opposed him expendable.

So just imagine, you are asleep in your bed, after a nice Easter dinner with your family, and there comes a knock at the door…or rather a pounding at the door. The door bursts open and the police come in and drag your husband, wife, or even children away with barely a word spoken. No one was exempt. Kids could speak the wrong things too. Of course, usually parents were the ones hauled away for what they taught the children. Children were taken into “protective custody” to be retrained in “proper” thinking…in other words, Nazism. Those were perilous times, and times that should never be forgotten. Failing to remember the horrors of the past, opens us up to a repetition of past mistakes in a future time.

By the time Spring arrives, people are naturally over the cold and sometimes depressing Winter months. When April 1st arrives, hopefully bringing with it, sunshine and warmer temperatures, pranks seem to just pop into our heads. We need a laugh, and the good-natured pranking of our friends is a great way to get that laugh. People have pranked their friends and family in many ways. The ways are really as diverse as the prankster. My sisters and I, when we were little, did all the kid pranks, like “there’s a spider in your hair” or exchanging the salt for the sugar. Other people go all out, like telling someone their car was stolen or placing a rubber snake in their bed. I suppose some pranks can be a little over the top, and can even backfire on the prankster, but most are done good naturedly, and are taken as such. Of course, the best part for the prankster is yelling, “April Fool” to their victim.

As traditions go, some stand out more than others. In the United Kingdom, it is tradition that all pranks stopped at noon. This continues to be the custom, with the pranking ceasing at noon, after which time it is no longer acceptable to play pranks. So, a person who didn’t watch the time, an playing a prank after midday is considered the “April fool” themselves. In Ireland, it is more of a “fools errand.” The prankster entrusts the victim with an “important letter” to be given to a named person. That person would read the letter, then ask the victim to take it to someone else, and so on. The letter, when opened contained the words “send the fool further” and then the victim knew he had been had. I can’t say that would be a traditional joke, because the word would get around pretty quickly, and then it wouldn’t work.

April Fools’ Day isn’t just for individuals either. On April Fools’ Day, elaborate pranks have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, and websites, and have been performed by large corporations. One of the more famous pranks was in 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC was soon flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. A good prankster could come up with similar pranks for the media to use, and now with the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ pranks can catch and embarrass more people than ever before. It’s the one day that “fake news” can be fake and it’s ok. Happy April Fools’ Day to all the pranksters out there. Have fun, and watch the time so you don’t wind up being the “fool” indeed.

Sometimes, the “best laid plans” turn into the biggest unplanned event. Bob and I take a trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming each year to celebrate our anniversary. Thermopolis is a dinky little town with very little to do, except that it has amazing hot springs she that adds up to great mineral water soaks that are terrific for the body. We also take wonderful walks along the trail that is set up on the Bighorn River, which flows through town. It is a peaceful tradition that we love to continue. Nevertheless, sometimes life can throw you a curve ball.

Bob and I have both been snowed in during our lifetimes, but this storm was still something new to us, because we are not snowed in. We are snowed out!!! Thermopolis got no snow at all, only a sprinkling of rain, but in Casper, which is home, it is a very different story. I have see n measurements of 18″ to 24″, and I’m sure it could be more by now. The roads in and out of Casper are closed, and since we are in Thermopolis, where there is no snow, we are not snowed in, but we are snowed out of Casper. It is a matter of the fact that you can’t get there from here…at least not today.

I can’t say that I am exactly heartbroken about having to stay at least an extra day in Thermopolis. In fact, I’m hoping that a lot of the snow will melt before we get home. That would simply not hurt my feelings one bit. I have been talking to my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock; and my daughter, Corrie Petersen and grandson, Chris Petersen in Casper; and one sister, Caryl Reed in Rawlins, and they have graciously provided me with what I cannot see here. Tons and tons of snow!! The pictures of all the work trying to dig out, and the futility of such a venture in most cases, are shocking. It’s hard for me to fathom the amount of snow from here, but I can say that it is massive. Even my niece, Lindsay Moore in Laramie, and my nieces, Liz Masterson, and Jenny Spethman in Casper, have added to the amount of pictures that have told the story of this huge snow day. It is truly a kid’s dream, and for those who couldn’t go to work today and won’t be tomorrow, it isn’t the most horrible news either.

My grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith has reached a milestone in her life today. She is officially a teenager, turning 13 today. I find it very hard to believe that she could possibly be 13 already. It seems like just yesterday that Kaytlyn made her entrance into the world. Now, unbelievably, she is in her second year of Middle School already. School, now there’s a concept. We all thought we knew what school was like, but Covid-19 has completely blown our idea of school out of the water. Middle School is usually a time of learning more than just the educational studies. The students get to start having school dances, sports (which they also have in elementary school too), school politics, clubs, and other such activities. Unfortunately, with Covid, they haven’t had any dances and have to go straight to class when getting to school, instead of socializing for a while. It’s a whole new world, and the school kids are some of the worst hit by it.

The 2020 school year was the strangest one we have had since the 1918 Spanish Flue Pandemic. Things were normal, until Spring Break, and then it all stopped. School was over for the rest of the year. The Covid restrictions kept everyone at home, unless their jobs were deemed essential. Students had to adjust to online learning over Zoom or Google Classroom. Even screen time with their teachers was limited…often to 30 minutes a day. Parents became homeschool teachers, when they were not prepared for such an occupation. Kids became depressed and disinterested. The school year was a disaster, by anyone’s standards. Kaytlyn loves school, and this new educational reality was not a reality she wanted to be a part of. In fact, I don’t know of a single student that did want to be a part of it, or the current situation that is just a continuation of the new educational reality…school with a mask.

One good thing that came out of being home for the last part of the 2020 school year was that Kaytlyn’s family got a new animal friend…Olive. Olive is a mixed breed of Pit Bull, German Shepard, and Lab, and she is Kaytlyn’s best friend…well, animal friend, anyway. It was nice having Kaytlyn home with Olive, when she first came to live with them, to help with training her to go outside and not to chew stuff up. Kaytlyn and Olive’s birthdays are also very close. My Olive was born on March 4th, so Olive is 1 and Kaytlyn is 13. Susan finds herself feeling rather sad, because her children are officially no longer little kids. I know what she means. You are never ready for adult kids…or grandkids, but they don’t care. Kids just keep growing up.

Kaytlyn is really enjoying being back in school this year and working very hard on her grades. I’m not sure if we will ever really know how badly this online learning experiment hurt our kids…especially since “No Child Left Behind” doesn’t allow kids to be held back. They just get further and further behind. Thankfully, Kaytlyn is the exception to that rule too. This year with her hard work, Kaytlyn is carrying a 3.5 GPA, putting her on the Honor Roll!! Her parents are so proud of her, and so am I. Today is Kaytlyn’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As the United States is in the grip of a fierce snow storm, I am reminded of another snow storm that happened February 21 – 23, 1971. The storm is considered Oklahoma’s extreme storm. This blizzard buried northwestern Oklahoma under as much as three feet of snow, and that doesn’t include the drifting. The town of Buffalo was the hardest hit. They reported 23 inches of snow on the 21st alone, and a state-record snow depth of 36 inches by the morning of the 24th. The northern part of the state was just buried.

Oklahoma tends to be a mild weather state, with temperatures in December, January, and February averaging in the 50s. This week is the anniversary of the 1971 blizzard, which was likely the most intense winter storm ever to hit the Sooner State, although the current storm might rival it now. With the current storm, Oklahoma is seeing temperatures averaging -6°. The prior record was in 1909 at 7°. The power company had had to implement rolling blackouts to assure that the power grids don’t fail. I don’t think they have received the amount of snow with the current storm, but the severity is very similar, when you think about it. Anytime a storm is is bad enough to shut things down, especially the power, it is severe.

When the blizzard of 1971 finally ended, 36 inches of snow was measured in Buffalo, which was the state’s record for the highest snowfall total, but the snow drifts measured as high as 20 feet tall. While northwestern Oklahoma was hit very hard, just a short distance to the west in the Oklahoma Panhandle, only light snow fell with Boise City receiving only 3 inches and only 2 inches in Kenton. The 1971 storm put ranchers in a precarious position until C-124s from the Oklahoma Air National Guard dropped 150 tons of hay to stranded Oklahoma cattle. Local cattleman flew along with the aircraft to guide the aircrews to the stranded cattle. The massive loss numbers of 15,000 in livestock accounted for much of the $2 million in damages.

The vicious storm became known as the 84-hour blizzard. It actually occurred across the eastern half of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. The storm his the worst un Oklahoma, but in the region, 8 deaths were reported…7 in Pampa, 1 in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The average drifts were 10 to 20 feet. Storms like these will not likely be soon forgotten, if they are ever forgotten. People are really never prepared for such cold temperatures and so much snow in the southern states. We can try to prepare, but when year after year goes by without such a sever storm, we soon become complacent, until the next one hits us, that is.

There are lots of people who enjoy people watching. It’s a source of entertainment for them. Many of us are that way, myself included, but it is not a pastime I ever associated with animals. Maybe I should have, but somehow, the idea never crossed my mind. Oh sure, we know that our pets watch us for clues about what is going to happen, such as is it time to go for a walk, or a ride in the car, or if they jump on our laps, will we pet them. That is not really people watching, but rather owner watching. There are other animals who like to watch people, however.

Yesterday, I read an article about the Lake Superior Zoo, in Duluth, Minnesota. That one caught my eye, because I was born in Superior, Wisconsin…just over the bridge from Duluth, but as I looked around the internet, I saw that the same situation is going on in many zoos. The animals miss the people who come to the zoo. I really never gave any thought to the idea of the zoo animals watching the people who are watching them, but the do. They are interested in the goings on of humans!! Shocking, but it’s true. I guess that it is more than just the humans who are adversely affected by the quarantines and shut-downs.

The zoo keepers are finding themselves being the entertainment for the animals, and it’s not just for something different to do, it’s necessary. Like people, the animals need mental stimulation to stay healthy. Many beings, especially those in zoos, have been locked up during this time. We have talked about the elderly people in nursing homes, or even in their own homes, who can’t have visitors, and how very lonely they have become. Sadly, the animals in the zoos feel the very same way, and until the shutdowns cease, there is little that can be done about it. The job of a zookeeper is an essential one, and it’s a good thing, or these animals would see no one. One of the zookeepers at the Lake Superior Zoo, Lizzy Larson said, “You guys as visitors are the main sources of entertainment for the animals at the zoo. As much as we like watching the animals through the glass or behind a fence, they also love watching us. We walk by, we do things. It’s really exciting for them to see us.” That is a strange thought for me, but I guess it makes sense. It makes me feel sad for them, because while we at least know the reasons for the closures, they don’t, they just know that no one is coming to see them.

As the final day of 2020 arrives, I find myself…relieved. This has been a hard year in so many ways…so many losses. Setting aside the loss of friends and loved ones, because that is almost too much to go into, I will turn my attention instead to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the source of much of the loss we all felt this year. Countless numbers of people lost their jobs this year, or at least temporarily lost their source of income. We became isolated, even if we weren’t sick, we were told to wear masks, and even when things opened up partially, the churches were told to stay closed, while the abortion clinics were considered essential businesses. We were told to shelter in place, making us feel isolated and alone. We couldn’t visit loved ones in nursing homes or hospitals, making them feel alone and forgotten. We were told to skip the holidays and stay at home, further isolating all of us. Urgently needed surgeries and cancer treatments were postponed, because of the virus, but people could still kill the unborn babies. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the seriousness of the virus, I lost loved ones and friends too, but the way things were handled, especially in Democratically run cities and states, did nothing to protect the people of this country. We tried to listen to the scientists, but they kept contradicting themselves and each other. One minute masks saved lives, the next they didn’t. I hate to be a person who only rants, but like most of us, I’m over it…and I’m over 2020.

With all that has gone on in 2020, I am still able to say that I have high hopes for 2021. The craziness and sadness of 2020 will not last forever, because people have a strong tendency to have hope for the future. Pandemics have come and gone, and this one will too. As a nation, we will fight for our freedoms. We have done it before, and we are not scared to do it again. I believe we have God on our side, and in Him, we have the victory in every battle…especially this one. Whether people want the vaccine or not, it gives many people hope that there is an end to this Pandemic. I think that is the main thing that people are looking for these days…hope!!

As we close out 2020, we can consider it hindsight as we look forward to 202Won!! I really like that, because this nation, as well as many others, need a win right now, and I’m all for putting 2020 in the rearview mirror, and turning the mirror toward the ceiling so we don’t have to look at it ever again. We will persevere, and we will come back stronger, if we don’t lose hope and our strong faith in God!! I am a positive person, but I think 2020 was enough to try anyone’s patience and even faith, but we must never lose faith. Never doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light. And don’t ley what you see make you doubt what God has spoken. So, here’s to the end of 2020. Bring on 202Won!!! Happy New Year everyone.

I finally finished my Christmas shopping!! I’m very excited about it. I suppose that would sound funny to most people, especially when you consider that today is December 28th. In case you are wondering, no I’m not finished with next year’s Christmas shopping. That would be a miracle, indeed. Actually, I was doing ok with my shopping, I had everything purchased and shipped to my daughter, Amy’s family in Washington state, with the exception of stocking stuffers. Then, it happened. Covid had made its way through our family, my sisters (except Alena Stevens and her family), brothers-in-law, and a number of cousins. Bob and I had it over Thanksgiving, which was also cancelled this year…at least for us. I thought maybe we would make it through Christmas Covid-free, but then my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin caught it, and their quarantine would take us through Christmas. This just wasn’t our year for holidays.

That said, the urgency to finish my Christmas shopping left me, because we decided to postpone our celebration until we could all be together for it. Celebrating, when part of us we’re stuck at home or in the hospital was just not the same, and it would be especially sad for Corrie and Kevin. It doesn’t feel like a celebration when part of the family is not there. When the day comes, it will be worth the wait. It will be a real celebration, because we will all be well. So we wait, because Corrie and Kevin being with us is more important than what day we celebrate this year.

I suppose that means I could still have plenty of time for shopping, but who knows. The thing about Covid is that some people take a while to get over it and others are over it in two weeks. The day when we could finally have Christmas could creep up on me and then my shopping wouldn’t be done. Not good!! So, I decided to get it finished. And another good thing is that I actually have all the gifts wrapped Wow!! Now, whenever Christmas comes this year, I’ll be ready.

Most people have heard the song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” which was written by lyricist, Kim Gannon and composer, Walter Kent. Most of us also know that the song was recorded by Bing Crosby, putting it in the older, classic category. We also knew that if was probably written, and in reality was written to honor soldiers overseas, who really wished they could be home for Christmas. I wasn’t sure what year it was written, but have since looked it up to find, exactly as I expected, that it was in 1943 during World War II. Our boys were off fighting, and Christmas was going to be very different that year, for the families, but mostly for the soldiers, many of whom would be away for the first time in their life.

These days are really no different, except that quite possibly the old song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has taken on additional meanings. For those who have soldiers serving all around the world, the old classic meaning brings a renewed feeling of the old meaning of wishing their soldiers were home. For many others of us, who have loved ones who live far away, it brings memories of Christmas’ past, when our children were little and everyone was with us, gathered around the tree and dinner table. Others are fighting off the Covid-19 virus, and are quarantined this Christmas. And still others are facing a very different kind of sadness and loneliness this Christmas. Some have lost loved ones to the Covid-19 virus. For others there are other causes for their loved one’s passing, but it doesn’t matter what the cause…the passing of a loved one is the worst loss that can ever be felt…any time of year.

The song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is the epitome of of our longing spirit. Sometimes we feel like we need a good cry, and yes, we probably do, but that will never really ease the pain…especially the pain of loss. Time and prayer are the only was to move forward. We will never forget our loved ones, but we know that they are safe in Heaven, and we will see them again soon. Our soldiers will come home, our children living far away are only a plane ride away, our loved ones who are ill will recover, and there will be other Christmases. Can we ever get this Christmas back…no, but most of us can celebrate when loved ones get home or well, and still others can talk on the phone, Facetime, or Skype, so the miles seem to melt away. Whatever the reason for our fractured Christmas, this year and years in the past, we can all relate to the meaning behind the song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and when we all get to Heaven, we will truly see that dream come true.

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