Back in business

PLEASE NOTE: The permanent new address for this blog is here.  More below about this change….  Now, Forward!

A Political Convention:  Our local Senate District had its convention April 23.  I attended, and my thoughts afterwards can be read here: DFL District Conv Apr 23 2022  (“snip” it was very worthwhile.  Downside, somebody who was there has tested positive for Covid….)

The Blog’s Vacation:  The counter notes this blogpost is #1,795 in a series that is beginning its 14th year.  You may be one of those who have endured them all, since I began in Spring, 2009.  They are all archived, and word-searchable.

They were hosted on an old frame, and there was inadequate memory so finally it said, in the way tech says it, “I quit”.  Of course, I didn’t have a clue, except I couldn’t access the blog to edit or add.  It is sort of like saying I was living in an old house, and it needed major remodeling, and an addition, to accommodate all my junk!

[April 30 update and correction from my web adviser, Jody: Your old site did not run out of memory. It ran out of hard disc space for the database. Memory is how much energy the site uses to access. Hard disc is the literal megabyte space allocated to the site — which you outgrew and we moved it to solve the problem. (Though I am sure something else is amiss)]

So…I had to rename it (not actually, since the words have been part of the blog since the beginning, but because I needed a new Internet address).  It will take time for me to get used to this, but this may be the last change, at least for me.  Thirteen years is a pretty long run, I think, for this kind of venture.

Ukraine:  I noted a short commentary on Jews in Ukraine, and asked one of you who I thought might have some information.  Joyce came through with a very interesting article, which led in turn to curiosity about the “Pale of Settlement“, which I plan to write more about.  Judy sent a recent paper on Jewish history on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range: project_muse_851938-4   While not about Ukraine, the paper on the Iron Range is very pertinent to the conversation.  It is forwarded with permission.

On 82:  Wednesday I’m 82.  That’s sort of a boring number, granted.  On the other hand, my 80th birthday came in 2020 when people were finally waking up to the fact that Covid-19 was a major problem.   My big event was taking a solitary drive and taking a photo of a street sign for 80th street in nearby Cottage Grove.

The last four years have been eventful, to say the least.  Within weeks of my 78th birthday came the surprise diagnosis of a major heart problem.  I came through that.  Then last Fall came the Colon Cancer, and resulting surgery in February.  I came through that, too, and the follow up appointment last Thursday continues positive.  I was Stage 2, it hadn’t spread, and the tentative analysis is that it may not be genetically related to the family.

So, on I go.  The daily schedule includes a 2 1/2 mile walk.   I think it was Satchel Paige who said, memorably, “don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

My first photo in this new blog is of that street sign.  A fellow saw me taking the picture, and thought I was up to no good.   I told him about the impending birthday, and that ended the conversation.

I remember my friend, Les, who 22 years ago said that the 70s were really good years, and they had been.  This was in 2000.  I was 60; four months earlier, on my 60th birthday, we had been at Auschwitz.  Les died in 2003, not quite making 80….  On the road of life, for all of us, there are ups, downs and reminders that our lives are temporary.

I still think “The Station” is the best commentary on life.  Here it is, again: The Station001

80th and Kimbro Ln Cottage Grove MN May 2, 2020

I will try not to wear out my welcome.  Have a great day.

April 17, 2022

Today is Easter in the Christian tradition.  I’m Catholic, so I plan to be in Church, the first in-person attendance at Easter services since the Pandemic.

Friday was the first day of Passover, and began the second week of Ramadan.  Kathy from the Reconciliation Project wrote on April 14:  “And we are one week into Ramadan. I am told only once in every 30 years do the three Abrahamic religions all have their major holy days overlap. Maybe some synergy of the practicing can help leverage a change In Ukraine.”

Then there’s Ukraine.

Carol, a friend like-minded to me, tried a light touch for Easter on Saturday afternoon:

I responded with a light touch of my own, from my ND farm cache of old postals from over 100 years ago:

“Over there” Putin has played the Nazi card for his own perverse reasons.

Friday evening I picked up a copy of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, the 1959 blockbuster by William Shirer.  It comes via a neighbor now in a Nursing Home.

I read Shirer’s Foreword, and the last two paragraphs seem appropriate food for thought on Easter 2022, and beyond.

“Adolf Hitler is probably the last of the great adventurer -conquerors in the tradition of Alexander, Caesar and Napoleon and the Third Reich the last of the empires which set out on the path taken earlier by France, Rome and Macedonia.  The curtain was rung down on that phase of history, at least, by the sudden invention of the hydrogen bomb, of the ballistic missile and of rockets that can be aimed to hit the moon.

In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen [emphasis added] pressing an electronic button.  Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it.  There will be no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.”

Putin may not like the reference to “little madmen” though he certainly is one.

I note Shirer likely wrote his Foreword in 1959, 63 years ago, when I was in second year in College.  He’s stuck with his prediction, exactly as written.  We have the potential wisdom of hindsight; of impacting on the present; and personally we can impact towards a better future.   But it’s only potential, and we control that.

Shirer, who was a journalist in Germany from 1934-40, knew of what he spoke.  In the 1950s he had no way of knowing the world we inhabit in 2022, and the new and very real threats to the very survival of our planet, such as a compromised internet, portability of pandemics, the economic connections between nations, on and on.   We can destroy ourselves now in ways Shirer and others probably couldn’t have imagined.  There are no longer borders as traditionally understood.  Covid-19 didn’t care where the border was, or who was infected….

There will always be “little madmen”.  They exist in every society including our own.  This has always been true.

It is up to the rest of us to help steer the boat which is our planet in a more positive direction.

As I said at the beginning, I’m a church guy.  We were at Basilica of St. Mary this morning.  The church was packed, masks recommended, about half with masks….  The Archbishop mentioned Ukraine in his message.  At home, I learned that Pope Francis had done the same.  The Pope’s Easter message is here.

And Thursday is Earth Day.  A good place and time to get engaged in the rest of your life.

Finally, in a few months the next American election.   Each is more important than the last.  Now the clash is between Democracy and Autocracy.  Get involved.

Ukraine reader.

Today is April 14.  Easter is Sunday April 17; Passover begins Friday April 15.  History continues each and every day, and we all are makers of that history.  Like it or not, the tragedy of Ukraine is part of our history this season of 2022.

“per aspera ad astra” There are many thorns on the race to the stars. (more at the end of this post).

Two days ago, April 11, I published a long post including many opinions about the what and why of Ukraine and the U.S. relationship to the conflict, with a look back to the past.  Of course, I think it is worth your time to at least browse it in coming days.  Most of the comments in the post come via ordinary folks like myself, rather than the talking heads we see all the time.  I especially recommend the very last entry, which includes a very clear contemporary map of the place that is Ukraine.

Personally, I am noticing analogies between our country in the 1930s-50s in relationship to WWII Europe.  I have some basis for comparison.  I was born in 1940 and every single one of my mentors in life were ordinary people who directly experienced the impact of the Great Depression and World War II, and were of German and French descent.

In those difficult times, Americans generally were first isolationist, then participants, then the U.S. participated in the recovery of our enemy through programs like the Marshall Plan.  We had a big role, but not as huge as our national imagination supposes.  We were part of the team that won WWII, not the Team….

Those at the highest levels, debating every day what to do about Ukraine know all of the history far better than I.  There is room for lots of debate, but sooner than later debate needs to be replaced by action.  Anything proposed will be right…or wrong…depending on the person making the assessment.  That’s a given.  I am just saying, I’m noticing.

Then there’s us, the population.  Today, we apparently worry about gas prices now and inflation and interference with our lives.  We seem to want what we want.  “America first”.  It didn’t work in the 1930s and it won’t work now.

For example, in WWII gas rationing became a given, part of our patriotic duty….  Sacrifice was the name of the game, then.  Are we up to this, now?


Here’s the map of Ukraine I used in my first post on the topic in February:  (At the end of the April 11 post – linked above, note  #2 – is a current map of Ukraine.)

I decided to use my 1961 Life Atlas to pinpoint Ukraine, Kiev and Moscow, because in 1961 Ukraine was part of the USSR, until the breakup about 1989. This might help define this particular time of grievance – not justifying it, but at least identifying it. The map quoted is on page 326 of this Atlas, which I bought when I was in the U.S. Army.

The caption was from the earlier post.  Note the absence of borders of places we know as Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania….  This conflict is about more than one country.

Not everyone thinks history is important or even interesting.

But every single one of us, I repeat, every single one of us, is involved in making the history others will ponder many years from now.   We cannot evade it.  How will our generation be graded 50 or 100 years from now?

Get engaged.


The art work: in 2000 we took an extended trip focused on holocaust sites.  It was memorable and extraordinarily powerful on a multitude of levels.  Roughly half of the 40 participants were Jewish, the other half Catholic, from neighboring Minneapolis church and synagogue.  Auschwitz-Birkenau was only one of many places for prayer and reflection.  The group met for some months before we traveled.

One of the colleague participants, Sandy, was Jewish, probably about my age, and an artist.  The art work above is hers.  Along the way, in conversation, she shared that her given name was Odessa.  Her parents (or was it grandparents?) left with others from Ukraine in the early 1900s, and first settled in southwest North Dakota, at the no longer existing town named Odessa, founded 1910.  Ultimately her parents, as I remember, ended up in Minneapolis, which is where she was born and raised.

There were tens of thousands of these Germans from Russia.  Search “Germans from Russia” etc for much, much more about that forced migration.

On our return, we kept in touch with Sandy, and saw her studio where she did her painting.  We purchased this one, and it’s been on our living room wall ever since.  On the back of the painting Sandy handwrote the title, which you see in the caption; She signed it “Odessa”.

She is one of several people I know in the United States who have direct connections to Ukraine.  Several are on the list who receive this post.  Many came to the Dakotas, which in many ways was similar to their home area in Ukraine.

Putin’s gambit will ultimately fail, as Hitler’s did, but this seems to be only beginning.  This is no time to pretend all is well.

Be part of the solution.


from Judy: Beautifully said.  I never dreamed in my lifetime I would see this kind of mass annihilation.


What is Ukraine’s history?  Here is an 8 minute PBS video on the topic which is very interesting.

Several commentaries about Russian disinformation have come by recently.  I invite you to read them.  I have some personal comments at the end.  This is not a simple topic.

A couple of days ago a long-time friend sent the following to two of us.  We all generally agree on things political.  The article is here, translated from the original Russian.  The pull quote from the article is hers:

“Everything that Russia has done for the West, it has done at its own expense, by making the greatest sacrifices. The West ultimately rejected all these sacrifices, devalued Russia’s contribution to resolving the Western crisis, and decided to take revenge on Russia for the help that it had selflessly provided. From now on, Russia will follow its own way, not worrying about the fate of the West…”

A day later came another, a post in Politico, from an activist friend, about youth in Russia (if you’re 22 or less the only Russian President you’ve probably ever known is Putin, who’s been President all but four years, 2008-2012,` since 2000.)

Today, yet a third, from “The Weekly Sift”, a thought out commentary titled “Why the Russians did it”.

There are more, but let these suffice for now.

My comments:

My earlier posts on the topic are here (the first Feb. 16).

I was surprised that the Russians actually invaded Ukraine.  I have not been surprised by the atrocities and the disinformation.

In my opinion, President Biden’s administration of the horrible situation has been admirable.  Of course, there are endless opinions about that.  The presidency is a lonely place.  The restraint by the president, means we have so far avoided a broader and even deadlier war, notable after over a century of deadly wars.  [April 11: Heather Cox Richardson has an excellent column about the press and Biden, here.]

It is easy to kick around the United Nations but the assorted coalitions which have evolved with the UN over the years have done and are doing yeoman service under awful conditions, and not only with respect to Ukraine.  Without the UN and the abundance of other organizations, like WHO etc, the situation would be much worse.

My country, the United States of America, enters this conflict without clean hands – something easy to ignore when things are cast as good versus evil, and evil is always the other party.

The U.S. is given considerable credit for the perfection of propaganda, going way back to the yellow news media, Pulitzer, Hearst et al, and the campaign eliciting citizen support for World War I through the Creel Committee.   One character on that committee staff has always fascinated me: Edward Bernays.  His expertise in manipulating public opinion was copied by others, like Joseph Goebbels.  We Americans are hypnotized by advertising, which is propaganda, pure and simple.

Most of the codes of conduct for war, like the Geneva Convention, and terms like “war crimes”, are largely inventions around the 20th century.  Before 1900s, brute power ruled.  So it was considered fair game to depopulate our country of its indigenous persons.  That didn’t meet the definition of genocide, which came later.

The 20th century was the century of making war more and more deadly, especially to civilians.

We can’t avoid talking about our role in Vietnam, and later Afghanistan and Iraq.  Etc.  But these topics almost never come up in any context from any quarter these days.   But they’re in the very near background – out of sight, but not out of mind.

And, of course, the United Nations was never designed to have united power.  Five nations: the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, have power of veto over most anything of substance.  The rules do not apply to those five, the winners of WWII.  This was intended at the start, and hard to change.

And when the 45th president of the United States took office, he clearly favored authoritarians like Putin.  He ran for reelection and got 74,000,000 votes, and while he lost by 8,000,000 he will never admit it.  And people are still covering for him.  This says too much about our own citizenry.

There are lots of valid reasons for an American to be cynical about America at this point in our history.

I am an American, and I give a damn.  I respect my country with all of its abundant faults, which I think we have to acknowledge and deal with.

I have long been active in an organization now called Citizens for Global Solutions which has a very long history.  Both the State and National work at being a voice for positive change in our world.  We are a small voice, but we are a voice.  Take a look at both state and national and consider getting involved.  see the most recent national newsletter which has some excellent commentaries.  Some food for thought.

Putin and Russia are serious problems, but ‘we, the people’ are an even larger problem, and paradoxically the only solution to our current malaise.

Be on the court as an individual.  It’s the only solution.

That’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

COMMENTS (more at end of post): 

from Carol: This is my 2 cents, and you likely won’t agree with me.  It’s long – please free to share all, part, or none at all.  I think we as a country have to get more involved – with overwhelming Ukrainian air support, not the “boots on the ground” stuff.  The Ukrainians are doing an awesome job on the ground themselves.  And I have now sent a message saying that to my senators, representative, and the White House.

You are correct that Biden did an extraordinary job of rallying our allies so far as sanctions, and donations of military equipment.  And apparently the Ukrainians are putting what the West has sent them to very good use.  Their patriotism, and determination to defend their country, are awe-inspiring.  Their president is awe-inspiring.  We cannot just continue to watch while their whole democratic nation (a democracy we encouraged) is demolished.
I say this partly because of the brutal massacres in Bucha (I’m sure the same is happening in many other cities we can’t see yet), the horrific attack on refugees at the train station (after they were specifically advised to flee the area) and, to tell the truth, partly because of that chilling article from Russia.  When I first saw the article, the poster said that the author is someone close to Putin and it would not have been published without his approval.
The article also reveals their plan of shoving the “Russia haters” into the west of the country, into a kind of non-country, subject to Russian regulations and controlled by Russia’s military.  They intend to assassinate Ukraine’s leaders, and punish or kill many of its people.  There will be no “Marshall Plan,” it says, for the former Ukraine – they will have to rely on Russia for any help.  There are references to European and U.S. culture, which they’d love to wipe out.
Putin has made no secret of the fact he wants to restore the U.S.S.R. to its former glory.  Poland, it is said, is on his list.
Biden, et al. keeps assuring everybody that Putin will not take “one inch” of NATO territory.  Well, if he’s successful in Ukraine, what’s going to stop him?  The West is sitting on its hands solely because he has nukes, and has threatened to use them.  Is that going to change?  I realize that NATO is a defensive organization.  However, individual countries do not need NATO’s permission in order to act here.
The U.S. had little problem with invading Iraq for absolutely no reason – and in getting involved elsewhere where it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad (as you pointed out).  This time it’s obvious who the villains are, but here we sit hoping that we don’t anger Putin by giving Ukraine TOO many weapons that are TOO bad.  I believe if we do not confront Putin now (at a time when his own army has taken quite a beating), we will be forced to do so down the road.  Then it will be harder – and there will have been a lot more innocent lives lost plus destruction of most everything in sight.  I don’t believe he intends to stop unless, like all bullies, he’s made to.
As far as the threat of a nuclear attack, are we all supposed to just let any nuclear-armed country now have their way with any neighbors they might choose to exterminate?  China, perhaps?  Or maybe North Korea might decide to annex South Korea.  This is a terrible precedent.  That’s a world I think none of us want to live in.  Putin knows that many of the world’s nuclear weapons are all pointing at him.  He may be a fool, but he’s not about to have his legacy be the annihilation of Russia.
Response from Dick: At the beginning, you say “you likely won’t agree with me”.  Not so.  We are witnessing evil at work; unfortunately, it is and has been at work also in our own country, since the beginning of our history.  In Putin, I see ourselves.
The solution has to be thoroughly debated, and is being debated, appropriately, even in the anti-war Left, of which I’ve been part since our response to 9-11-01, which I felt to be insane, and we proved it with a 20 year unwindable war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, I’ve become sort of an orphan on the left, by choice, at this moment.  I just don’t think we’ll ever be able to end war, but I hate war.  Ukraine is an example.
A few weeks ago, came a couple of local articles on a peacemaker list of which I’m part, and I’m linking them here: Facts over ideology.  Basically, I resonated with most of the “Facts Over Ideology…” piece by Terry and Andrew, and told them so.  Mike’s response seems to reflect the basic more Left position, which seems to be that anyone is more pure than the U.S. and if they said they were antiwar, so they were.
At this very moment, in our Citizens for Global Solutions group, we are working to decide how to engage in the long-going debate on ratifying the International Criminal Court, which the U.S. has never agreed to join.  (See #2 in the link above.)
What seems apparent to me, my personal opinion, is that the powers that be in the United States, which is the Senate, do not want to be bound by such statutes which may find us culpable of war crimes ourselves.  Note the comment in said #2:  “in 1998 the US was one of only seven countries – along with China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, and Yemen – that voted against the Rome Statute. US President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but did not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. In 2002, President George W. Bush effectively “unsigned” the treaty, sending a note to the United Nations secretary-general that the US no longer intended to ratify the treaty and that it did not have any obligations toward it.”    Presidents cannot do such things by themselves, and “we, the people” through our representatives stand in the way.
See also Peter’s comment below as well.
We are only individuals, but this war will be fought in November at the American ballot box.  We can’t stand idly by.
Thanks much for feeding in.

from Terry and Andy to the Peacemakers group, meeting today (April 12):

A friend pointed out this article on Juan Cole’s site yesterday.  I thought it was good – it is tough for us to be on the same side as the mainstream. I’ve seen that sentiment from a number of friends.  But we have to recognize there are multiple imperialisms – the US is not the only imperial power. And sometimes the US is not the worst actor in the room.  The author has included very good background analysis on Putin, NATO, and Ukraine.  I hope you find the article useful.
Peace, Terry

The Left has to Recognize Russian Imperialism in Ukraine or it is Trapped in Americocentrism


 It is tough for leftists to be on the same side as the mainstream. We can easily feel at those times that we’re missing something, that we’re letting down the struggle, that by ganging up even on an admittedly bad actor we’re helping strengthen the nemesis at home, allowing it to appear as the good guy.
But for leftists to be more concerned with the security interests of a great power—in this case, a right-wing militarist power that supports itself almost entirely by the mining and selling of planet-killing fossil fuels—than with the desires of a small people hoping to secure their independence and not be invaded, is scandalous. Leftists never treat the peoples marginalized by western imperialism in such a dismissive way.
Almost no one on the left has supported the war. But saying “Down with the Russian invasion” and then turning immediately to blaming America, and only America, for provoking it is almost the same. Not only does it show a lack of basic understanding about Russia, it is also a stunning betrayal of the most basic internationalist principles. If we want to support the right of self-determination to America’s neighbors, we can’t deny the same to Russia’s. If we’re not able to recognize multiple imperialisms, we are guilty of the same kind of Americocentrism for which we castigate others.
from Fred:  [This link] carries information about the Russian army and its complicated recruitment issues dating back quite a ways. At the bottom of the piece, is a link about modern US and Israeli missile defenses that is also good.
from Carol: Tim Snyder commentary, Russia’s Genocide Handbook.
More from Terry, April 13: I know Terry, personally, and yesterday she was involved in a zoom meeting of an organization of which I’m a member, but I didn’t attend the meeting.  Afterwards she shared some resources you may wish to review.  She’s been involved in issues like this for years, most recently with Russian involvement Syria, which in many ways seems a companion study for what is now going on in Ukraine.
As promised, sharing with you a couple of resources I mentioned in the chat. Please let me know if you have any questions about these. And of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, something to start with. 
1. For those interested in learning more about the history of Ukraine, I recommend checking some works of Timothy Snyder. Here are his book recommendations and here is his bio and website. There are also some lectures and videos on his website. 
2. For a very brief overview of key events that explain historical context leading up to the war, I recommend this summary done by Razom, a group of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American activists in the US. You can also donate to their causes on their website, they are one of the largest Ukrainian activists movements in the US.”




This may appear to be a ‘miscellaneous’ post.  It is not.  If you have any interest in heritage, in my case, French-Canadian, you will possibly find something of interest within…something which may jog your own memory.

On the other hand, you may not be interested.   There’s plenty of very serious stuff to consider, but let’s divert for a week or two.


My sister, Flo, seems to have a family trait which I share: “reuse and recycle”.  So when I got the below postcard from her a short while ago, it reminded me of the premiere event we attended at the rural Minnesota resort, Val Chatel, probably back in the 1970s.  The postcard says this: “Vikings!  A two hour live play on a magnificent outdoor stage surrounded by the beauty of the Northwoods.  Fascinating family entertainment, colorful costumes, exciting music and spectacular dance.  All new ampitheater located at Val Chatel on County Road 4, 16 miles north of Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Postcard advertising “Viking” at Val Chatel, rural Park Rapids MN, ca 1970s

It was a nice night; the mosquitoes were manageable, and the Vikings did cross the lake, and land!  A nice evening.

Such spectacles are hard to maintain in rural areas.  “Vikings”  is in the category of ‘long ago’, now.  Val Chatel, then a happening place, descended nearly into ruins, and when I googled it recently, I found it is being resurrected as part of a public land trust for a park by a private donor.  That story is interesting in itself.


A popular Quebec song is here.  (It’s satire, but within satire is truth….)

The remainder of this post is primarily links about history and heritage.  If you are interested, these are interesting pieces for your spare time.  If not, have a good Easter and Spring.

  1. A group from my French in America organization is preparing a book about over 70 French-Canadian families from Quebec who settled in rural Dayton MN, about 25 miles up the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis.  Two of those families were mine, Blondeau and Collette.  Here are some snippets of information I submitted about these families who came west to Minnesota territory in the mid-1850s, before Minnesota became a state: Dayton Blondeau Collette  The document is three pages.  Here is a tintype of my great grandparents, Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette, after their marriage at St. Anthony (later part of Minneapolis) July 12, 1868.  They spent almost all of their. long married life at Oakwood North Dakota.
  2. Along similar lines, three years ago I and many others heard a fascinating two hour talk by historian John Vanek about the history of Benjamin Gervais, born at the end of the 17th century in Quebec, and his wife, Genevieve Laurence, born early in the 18th century, one of the very first families to settle what became St. Paul at the beginning of the 1840s.  The two-hour YouTube video is here.  It is very well worth your time if you have even a small interest in voyageur days, how people lived and moved, and the settlement from what became todays Winnipeg to St. Paul.  The presentation was filmed at the Little Canada Historical Society in September, 2019.
  3. Finally, some years ago I was privileged to meet a gifted friend from French Canada.  Over the years, Emilie, who now lives in Montreal, received a grant from the National Geographic Society to develop a significant exhibit on the matter of ancestry and diversity.  This week she sent collaborators a brief video, about three minutes, describing her project as it is to date, and a photo (below) of one of the exhibits she is developing for NatGeo, a large quilt.   In my opinion, hers is a very important project, and I look forward to seeing more about it.  Her brief summary gives much food for thought.  This is shared with her permission.

Finally, the title of this post is “Rebirth”.  Spring.  Easter…. Your choice.

I thought it appropriate to share the flowers (below), planted by my Aunt Edithe at her then-home in rural LaMoure ND.  She had been in assisted living, then in Nursing Home for some months when the 2013 growing season came, and the flowers came to their own conclusion and grew of their own volition, with no outside help.  Edithe died in 2014 at the age of 93.  She lives on is these flowers.  Who do you remember, this day?

Aunt Edithe’s untended voluntaries at the ND farm May 17, 2013.

Have a wonderful Easter.

COMMENTS:  More at end of post.

from Emilie (see #3 above):  So nice to hear from you, and thank you so much for sharing your blog with me. I am honored to be mentioned in it. I am awaiting answers for the exhibition. It might be with National Geographic, a partner institution, or a different outcome. The decision isn’t mine. I will keep you all posted as soon as I know.Have a lovely weekend.

from Fred: You Frenchies are getting organized. You and your group have helped generate a lot of interest. As I mentioned to you, the stories related are not nearly as well known about the Brits and Old Stock Americans.

I’d like to get an audience like that speaker on the Gervais family had. Of course they were almost all related. It was a very well organized and illustrated talk; liked the maps.

Kudos on your voice appearance [in Emilie’s preview, I have two very brief appearances at about 2 minutes in]. I could pick you out. It was wise not to have actual photos shown for security and other reasons.

from David Vermette, author of the book “A Distinct Alien Race, the Untold Story of Franco-Americans” (simply search the title.  This is a very well received and worthwhile book with many reviews.)

David’s comment: Your blog post and book project both sound interesting.
I read a good book that might also interest you: “Les Voyages de Charles Morin.” It is a diary of a French-Canadian who leaves his home and travels all over N. America before settling in Argyle, MN where he becomes one of the elders of the town. It’s not fiction but a translation of Morin’s journals. It’s a fascinating peek into the mind of a person who was very like our ancestors. I reviewed the book but the review is behind a paywall. Here’s another review by Susan Pinette. If you have not read Candace Savage’s “Strangers in the House” I also recommend that one, too.
Thanks for getting in touch and please do let me know when your book is released.
Note to David and all from Dick:  David’s review of the Morin book appears to be of the French academic translation of the diary.  Morin’s great grandson Jim Morin, has published an English version of the same diary, “Charles Napoleon Morin Memories of My Travels and Adventures”.  This is also available on the internet.  I have this version and it is very interesting.  Jim Morin lives in the Twin Cities, and has given a talk on the book for the French American Heritage Foundation.  I couldn’t attend, but I understand it was very interesting.
The Dayton book referred to above will probably be available later in the summer, and details will be at the website of the French-American Heritage Foundation.


Recently, there have been a blizzard of happenings.  In each, some aspect of “Team” surfaces.

First, Ukraine isn’t mentioned below but, to be clear, what is happening now in Ukraine has to be world priority #1, and each of us is integral to this.   We cannot sit idly by.  Do something.

Second, Global Minnesota has an open to the public program on Thursday, April 7, on World Health Equity.  All information is here.  The agenda looks very interesting.  Do check it out.


For me, for the first time in years, I prioritized Basketball – both the semis and finals of the Final Four Men’s NCAA, and the finals of the Women’s NCAA.

These were some of the basketball teams I watched: Villanova, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, UConn (Connecticut), South Carolina, St. Peter’s (Jersey City NJ), Texas Tech.  (Of course, the “Kansas” team members are not all born and raised Kansans, et al.)

I also watched part of the Oscars, a little of the Grammy’s, and heard about the successful union organizing that won employee representation at Amazon in New York, as well as settlement of a strike in Minnesota.

And on and on I could go.  As you know, lots going on.  LOTS of teams.


Then there’s “Team USA”:  Us.  In this most recent time frame came the Senate Judiciary Committee, yesterday voting 11-11 on recommending a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  One can legitimately wonder how in the world a country which nurtures this kind of division can thrive.  Our elected political representatives at every level are US.

Earlier this afternoon President Biden signed an Executive Order expanding the very popular yet still maligned “Obamacare”.  I watched Presidents Biden and Obama as they talked about that.  Here are the remarks as they appear on the White House website.


We live in a Team World- I’d say it’s part of being human.  This is never perfect.  Every one of us knows from personal experience how teams work…and don’t…and why….

Winning teams aren’t divided against themselves.

Our own country – Team USA – is obviously in such a state of division at this time.  It is unhealthy for our future.

The basketball teams are obvious examples of working together.  Such teams aren’t perfect, as we can see.  Just watch the 40 minutes of any game.  Easy shots are missed.  On and on.  But generally, you see an extraordinarily well-oiled machine working together, passing, shooting, rebounding, supporting….  Like all of us, athlete personalities differ, but their skills complement each other, and they know and respect this.

Of course, all teams are  imperfect.  None of the winning NCAA teams listed above could thrive if there was only a star, or an outstanding coach, or only people who could dunk, or could shoot free throws.  Winning teams have people with varied skills.  Yes, they have egos, but in the end analysis, they blend their talents towards an ultimate objective.

The same applies to other groups.  I watched only parts of the Oscars, but I know that on the road to Best Picture, or whatever the honor, there are a huge number of people, collaborating to do the work leading to the Oscar which is given to one or more people.  Every success worth anything results because of a Team.

In our country, and in our world, disagreement is inevitable.  It is apart of the human condition.  But division is disabling if not resolved.  Resolution is a basis of relationships generally.  The assorted versions of Win/Lose are always losers for every one including the winners.

And “team” is more than just the ten players on the floor at the NCAA game.  They are everyone on the bench and in the stands.  We all have a role, and it’s not bystander.

I still think that Margaret Mead said it best: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   We all make the difference.

POSTNOTE same day: Tonight we watched Ken Burns new film on Benjamin Franklin.  Outstanding.  Check your local PBS station.