Monthly Archives: November 2014

Part 2 of 6 From The Bellwether

Think of the 1800s, the wagontrains, and the people who crossed the prairie looking for a better life. Now fast-forward to the new millennium and the worldwide economy totally crashing, causing unbelievable chaos and violence. During the last days of his Montana cattle ranch job, Aaron Hodges learns through Native American prophecy, of the bad days coming and envisions building a hidden colony to ride out the likely decades-long crisis.

But first he must grow up a bit. After a long, long, absence, he finally goes home and gets back in touch with Caroline, the love-of-his-life, but nothing goes right so he takes a break in Las Vegas, wins a ton of money, comes back to Minnesota, buys a farm, begins a battle with Agribusiness vs. the environment, loses, continues seeing chaos growing, so seriously begins planning the colony.

He has a list of old friends he wants to come along and help in the development, but nobody really sees the need, especially Caroline, who absolutely refuses to go, and Aaron won’t go without her, and he’s running out of time. They need to get where he wants to go early enough in the season to plant crops, but he has to convince his friends to want to go.

The declaration of martial law changes things; they no longer have the option of taking a caravan of trucks down the highway.
This 2nd post of 6 introduces senior citizen, George, and the love of Aaron’s life, Caroline.

Excerpt from Chapter 9 “George”
(This man, in his sixties, a hobo, has no last name and a peculiar body odor. The two men bond quickly; eventually George will become a living conscience for Aaron.)
The hitchhiker flung open the door and crawled in, “Where we headed, Cowboy?” then tossed his meager belongings into the back.

Aaron gave an exasperated groan, “North.” Then he saw both forearms were covered with tattoos, and one color: moldy purple. The clothes were gray and worn but clean, and an odor came from him. A peculiar odor.

“North sounds just fine, young feller. North where.”


“Fine. I’ll ride along if ya don’t mind.” He closed the door.

“Doesn’t look like I have a choice.”

“Oh, you have a choice all right, Cowboy. Just say the word and I’m out, but you don’t strike me as the kind’a person who’d do that.”

Don’t bet on it. “You tricked me, didn’t you? I gave no indication of stopping and at just the right moment you reached for your gear.”

The old man’s smile faded a bit, although he appeared to not feel too much remorse, “All right, I tricked you. That little ploy works sometimes.” He held out his hand, smiled again but less smugly, “Sorry, Cowboy, but a man has to do what he can. My name’s George.”
Think of the girls/boys you have met in your past, your deep past. Myself, I can think of two young girls I really liked. One I met at a barn dance 60 years ago; another I went trick-or-treating with, also about 60 years ago. Both girls I have never seen again.

Another, a sales clerk in a drug store where I bought…something. I don’t remember what, but I remember her. That was only about 40 years ago. In those few moments she charmed me and I never saw her again.

What I’m getting to…our brain has a huge receptacle for memory. I can’t remember a person’s name, can’t find my keys, or a certain tool, but I remember all three of those girls, and often wonder about them.

Aaron met Caroline 19 years ago; he was eleven, she was nine. He picked her a bouquet of white daisies and when they had to part he kissed her on the lips. Good things happened, so he remembers and she remembers. In this next excerpt they finally meet again.

From Chapter 13 “The Reunion” (George has the viewpoint)

Looking sheepish, still a bit provoked, Aaron came around the side of the van and stopped short, his eyes gawking. Caroline stopped short too, but her eyes were only slightly gawking, but, gawking nonetheless, but then they evened out as that gentle smile of hers returned. Oh, that smile! But still about six feet between them. And both appeared to be thinking something bad was about to happen.

Just stand there a minute, young’uns. Get to know each other a bit through your eyes first, then I’ll tell you who you are.

Caroline’s smile reflected off the parking lot’s lights. Her eyes appeared wet, as if she were about to cry. Enough light enhanced the dark reddish luster of her hair, and bounced off a few blonde guardhairs, and exposed faint freckles around the bridge of her nose. Her blue jeans fit as if she had been poured into them, yet did not flaunt her figure, just seductively made known the curves—something a girl-watcher would skim over lightly, but a girl-connoisseur would study and notice where the jeans fit loosely here and snugly there—and swept down to the frayed bottoms where the toes of white canvas shoes peeked out. And the beige top—gathered by the rope-like belt, a frilly focal point—rose and fell as her breasts rose and fell with her breathing, as if a fine-tuned motor were inside warming up, generating life and energy for the most beautiful female creature George had ever laid eyes on.

And the hippie-cowboy, straightening a little with each obvious breath and appearing taller and stronger, his eyes still gawking wildly but calmly too, and maybe even also were a bit wet. George felt with a little help and guidance from the curly-haired woman, that Aaron Hodges would grow stronger and straighten more each day for—who knew? Probably forever.

But the two just stood there, six feet apart, staring at each other, contemplating, surveying, scrutinizing. George reckoned a little push were about due, “Hey, Aaron, do I have to tell you that this woman here is Caroline?”
This excerpt opens the door to the romance and love that will eventually come to these two people. But–like true love in the real world–don’t expect it to come easily, or quickly, but do look for the appearance of Caroline’s daughter, seven-year-old Jenny, to help the situation immensely. (Aaron will finally meet Jenny in Chapter 40 “The Great Novice Assembly”)
One of my most favorite romantic songs is Superstar from the late Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters.

Bullies, They Aren’t Just in the Schoolyard

This photo down the hill from my house gives further proof that flooding is out-of-control. Those 50-60-foot cottonwoods stood in 3 feet of water for 3 years, which finally killed most of them. They are standing on the original route of State Highway 18, which made them 50-60 years old. Didn’t make me happy to lose them, also had to move my garden.

The link takes you to a full screen photo (credit Vern Whitten Photography.) Flood of 1997, south of Fargo looking north. The dam would be built south of the interchange, which would send all that water upriver to small towns and communities where flooding has never been an issue.

Years ago I was heading north on Interstate 29, toward Fargo, North Dakota, population 100,000. Three or four miles south of the first exit there appeared a sign: Future Home of Rutten Park. “Wow,” I thought, “How much land do those people want?”

Not long after that I began finding out how much land they wanted. The Red River Valley consists of some of the richest farmland in the world and should not be paved over and turned into suburban lawns.

Fargo and south of Fargo is natural floodplain.

Fargo wants to grow south. But there’s a problem: ice jams and flooding. The Red River of the North forms the boundary between ND and MN and flows north, crosses the border to Canada and empties into the huge Lake Winnipeg. The problem happens in spring, when the snow is melting. The Red has a gigantic drainage basin that wants to send that melt-water north, all at the same time! Unfortunately, up north the river is still-frozen; therefore ice jams and flooding in the south.

In the flood of 1997, volunteers in Grand Forks, ND, feverishly tried to reinforce the dikes during a blizzard. The dikes broke and that water in just seconds and minutes flooded both Grand Forks and sister city, East Grand Forks in Minnesota. Fires broke out and firemen could not respond due to very deep water. Much of downtown Grand Forks burned. It was a heartbreaking sight that made national news and brought President Bill Clinton to visit.

Fargo mostly ducked that flood but she saw the future, and saw one (and only one) option to prevent future floods: the Fargo/Moorhead Diversion, an enormous ditch that would take the water around Fargo.

Right, the ditch would protect only Fargo.

Remember the Rutten Park sign? That’s about where Fargo wants to grow to (land totally in the floodplain.) They want to build a dam farther south to protect that future growth. Oh, and that dam would cause the flooding of the farms and small towns that—now get this—have never had a major issue with flooding before. Much of that staging area has never flooded.

The diversion monies (much of it federal) have not appeared—go figure: the country is broke. Part of those monies would go for that dam and for building ring-dikes around the small towns and communities. No mention for the farmers affected. I mean they can’t exactly ring-dike all the thousands of acres Fargo wants to affect as their so-called “staging area.”

It should be mentioned that sixteen cemeteries are included in that staging area.

Guess what? The communities affected are fighting back, and are sometimes accused of being anti-diversion, which they aren’t. Everybody knows and agrees that Fargo needs protection from flooding.

Sister city, Moorhead, MN, Grand Forks, and East Grand Forks, have all made improvements: moved houses and businesses out of flood-prone areas, creating “greenways, built better dikes, etcetera, and Fargo has done some similar things, but not enough. They want their way. They want the diversion, and they want that dam to protect their future growth into the floodplain.

One of Fargo’s city leaders is on record saying, we aren’t “…a bully…” or “…bullies…” something like that. I’d like to know what he would call it.
The last word: Fargo is 35 miles from me. I shop there. I have friends and family there. I want Fargo to stay afloat (after all—even though not one iota of the movie was filmed there, Fargo is where the title of the movie “Fargo” came from.)

But a bully is a bully. Fargo can control her flooding by other means than flooding her good southern neighbors.

Here’s a favorite song to illustrate the powers-that-be, “Powderfinger” from the 1978 album by Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Rust Never Sleeps.)

In the song, a bit naïve 22-year-old lad—left “to do the thinkin’”—is on the dock watching a boat in the distance slowly approaching. He’s holding his “daddy’s rifle” and he senses the boat is bringing the authorities…and he senses life-changing intent, from those authorities, but his naivety would prevent him from ever expressing those feelings into spoken words.

I chose this song because the people living on farms near Fargo can see the city coming. They are not naïve. Their future is as unstoppable as that boat; the owners of those farms know their farms will be swallowed up, and, like the lad in the song, they know nothing can stop nothing.

Child Shooters of Children

Siding the House 001

A recent article (Turning kids into shooters) written by Tracy Reiman, executive vice president, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) appeared on the editorial page of The Forum, Fargo, ND, November 15, 2014.

(“Sorry, Ms. Reiman, but I think you are way off base.”)

Let me first say that I, too, believe in ethical treatment of animals.

In her very first paragraph she casts the NRA (National Rifle Association) in a negative light. I’m not a member of the NRA, but I would stand with the NRA long before PETA.

She blames “hunting” for school shootings and, evidently, blames the parents who give their kids a gun and teaches them to shoot…more than likely shoot responsively. But in that same first paragraph she says verbatim, “Giving young people guns and encouraging them to go out and kill living beings is resulting in dead kids.”

She goes on to list some school shooters who can be linked back to hunting, “…‘practiced’ on animals…”.

Among those ‘hunters’ listed were the two Columbine, Colorado, shooters, but she neglects mentioning that Eric Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox, and his sidekick, Dylan Kiebold, well, his records are sealed. Hmmm, I wonder why…?

Here’s a link to a website that lists a much more believable reason for kids killing and maiming other kids, and not just with guns but knives, machetes and baseball bats: DRUGS.

Prescriptive psychiatric drugs. The winner: Prozac.

That site lists 34 school shootings/acts of violence by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

78 killed, 167 wounded, and several suicides right after the shootings.

In several other shootings toxicology and other medical records were never released, including Adam Lanza of Sandy Hook. The office of the Connecticut medical examiner refused to release Lanza’s records…I have to wonder why…?

James Holmes of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting. It took months but the info finally released included anti-anxiety Clonazepam, anti-depressant Sertraline, and the generic of Zoloft.

I’m no lover of Michael Moore but included at that website is a very interesting 2-minute video about what he thinks of drugs and parents’ responsibility to their children taking those drugs.

A second worthwhile 2-minute video discusses the violent and suicidal thoughts on withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

Ms. Reiman mentioned the Virginia Tech Massacre, the “…dubious distinction…of the deadliest…”  Seung-Hui Cho killed 32, wounded 17 (strange she didn’t mention those numbers) then committed suicide. But no mention of Cho being a hunter, and no mention of drugs.

Moving on, another reason for shootings: Bullying.

I have never been bullied but back in school during the “peaceful” 1960s, I observed others getting bullied. But none ever brought a gun (or any other weapon) to school for payback. But my school was very small. Today it’s different. Guns are not only more accessible, but accessible to kids who should never go near a gun. (“That, Ms. Reiman, I will give you.”) So, today if a young man decides he can take no more bullying he can do something about it.

Kids interviewed after these shootings (that I’ve seen) rarely if ever, admit to ever seeing the shooter kids getting bullied, and absolutely do not and would not ever list their hotshot friends who did the bullying. It’s even possible that the actual bully(s) dodged the bullet…so to speak.

Then there’s the fact of the cool and shallow girls rejecting the uncool boys. The girls cannot be blamed for the rejections, but were they nice about it? When they said “No” was there an arrogant and shallow (shallow is the worst) tone in her voice? Did the girl(s) explain they had another boyfriend? Did they give the rejected boy any reason?

There too none of the girls interviewed after the shootings admit to rejecting the shooter. I’m not saying she was wrong to reject the shooter, but if she did the rejecting, or saw the rejecting, I’m thinking maybe she should have said something.

But of course that sort of answer would not make the evening news. The media would rather run with a cockamamie story like the one from PETA. The media wants to tell the story the public wants to hear, and the public wants to hear what they want to hear, and many—way too many—of the public, wants to blame—not drugs—but guns.

We can blame the liberal media and left-handed politicians for that mindset.

One thing the media really gets out there is that the cops always look for motive, a reason, some justification, for the shootings. I hate to tell ya, guys, but the shooters’ motives are moot, and the blame should be placed squarely on psychosomatic drugs, bullying, rejection, breakup…oh, yeah, and parents dropping the ball on raising their kids.

A good song to end this post: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen