The poet in each of us

Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit he runs
Wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of goodbye…

Thinking back to 1969, listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, before they were well-known, helplessly hoping someone is going to read this blog.

Do we need to discuss the etiquette of blogging?

There is a poet in each of us. Must we be heard? Will not the written word suffice? Need I say it twice. It is nice to like.


Paralysis of Analysis

Oz is an old man by most standards. Not his.


Abbie Hoffman, or one of those Yippie guys, said “don’t trust anyone over 30.” He meant by this that 30 ends the learning curve; by 30 we have bought into the system, we have become “the Man”, “the Woman” beholden to a corporate structure and incapable of new thoughts.

This reminds Oz of that classic sci fi movie, Logan’s Run where reaching the age of 30 is a death sentence, and it’s the job of Sandmen to track them down and kill them.

“The future belongs to you,” Oz tells his daughter. What we need is a paradigm shift, a mental leap, and only the young are agile enough to make it.

She replies that that is a “cop out”.  Oz disagrees, no surprise, and says, it is high time that the younger generation takes charge and solves the world’s problems. We tried, did some good, did some bad, generally ignored most things.

History will judge the “second greatest generation”.

“Paralysis of Analysis,” the daughter says.

“What’s that?” Oz wants to know.

“The tendency to talk an issue to death without solving the problem,” she says.

“Good point, let me think about that,” says Oz.

At this point Oz began to wander. “They call them sunflowers for a reason,” he said absentmindedly.


future world

hot air balloon over water

“In a world of change, learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Change

Of course the world changes, it changes every day, every moment, someone thinks a new thought, invents a new gizmo, starts a new fad that either catches on or doesn’t. The Wizard of Oz understood this. That is why he got in his balloon and sailed away from the Land of Oz.

One has to move on so that others may follow.


Hoffer, Oz thought, lived by that adage. Hoffer spent ten years on Skid Row in Los Angeles, then having “found himself broke in San Diego” in the year 1934, he changed from longshoreman to philosopher and became famous and rich writing about lessons learned. There are perks to money and fame. Hoffer went from smoking discarded cigar butts to Havanas.

But, Oz thought, Hoffer was not entirely right. Learners inherit the future, the learned live in the past. And when the future becomes the present, the past is still past.

The problem, not everyone recognizes when the future is here.

hot air balloon over water



Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real, I’ve looked at love that way
Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

“Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels the dizzy dancing way you feel,” is a lovely metaphor for how crazy love and life may be. Oz must be a little crazy, traveling here and there trying to learn what he will never learn.

How to be happy with what one has.

Take a lesson from the Sami people, who smile and laugh despite their “hard-knock” life. Take a look at the faces in Anders Beer Wilse’s photograph of a Sami family. Is the man not smiling? Are they not proud?

The Sami are an indigenous people who live in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and in Russia. Traditionally, the Sami people supported themselves  through fishing, livestock farming and hunting, along the coast, on the fjords, and inland rivers. Some engage in raising reindeer. Today, tourism is abundant. About half of the estimated population of 80,000 live in Norway and half of this group still speak the Sami language.

The Norwegian Storing gave the Sami people the right to vote in 1821.

Lest you think the Sami are isolated and insignificant, Renee Zellweger and Joni Mitchell both have Sami ancestors and blood.

Sami family, circa1905

Photo, Anders Beer Wilse, ca 1905. Wilse wrote En Emigrants Ungdomserindringer (An Emigrant Youth Remembers, 1936) and Norsk Landskap og Norske Menn (Norwegian Landscape and Norwegian Men, 1943). He left behind over 200,000 photographs of Norway, its people and its beauty.


Life is precious, life is precarious, and not always perfect or peaceful, enjoy it and leave a little something behind as a reminder to others to do the same.



Towanda, Kansas

George Catlin described the Osage as “the tallest race of men in North America, either red or white skins; there being … many of them six and a half, and others seven feet.”

Osage Mission missionary Father Paul Ponziglione said of them: “Most perfectly built, they each one measure 6 feet in height. Their appearance is worthy the brush of Raphael. Their heads are cleanly shaved to their very top, and in the small bunch of hairs left on it, they wear a large bold Eagle Feather, decorated with small red streamers. All along their scalp, they have a set of stiff bristles standing up like the crest of a helmet.”

Osage Indians

Towanda may mean mean ‘peaceful resting place’ or ‘burial ground’; or it may mean ‘many waters’ or ‘rushing waters’. The former comes from the Algonquin Sioux; the latter meaning derives from an Osage Indian word. Three towns in America are named Towanda: Towanda, Kansas; Towanda, Illinois; and Towanda, Pennsylvania.

Towanda, Kansas

Because the Osage Indians chased the bison on the Tall Grass Prairie for thousands of years, Oz is going to accept the latter meaning of ‘rushing water’. There is no direct source for identifying Osage words. Time has erased too much that we once knew. And the Osage who once lived on this land were relocated during the 1870s to a reservation in northeast Oklahoma.

Instead we will go to J.P. Mooney and his History of Butler County, Kansas, starting at page 218, published in 1915.

The Indians knew of the spring that flowed from the rocks near the headwaters of the Whitewater River. There was abundant green grass for the Indian ponies and the buffalo grazed on the grass as the herds passed though each spring and fall. Daniel Cupp and his wife came in 1860 and made the area their home. It is to them that Mooney credits the name of Towanda springs. The valley was first settled first settled by C.L. Chandler as he was returning after having little success in his search for gold. He was returning with a wagon train of other gold prospectors along the Santa Fe Trail. After hearing about tales of a place along the Whitewater River, Chandler headed south. Chandler built a cabin there in 1858. He later sold his buildings and land to James R. Mead for $3 an acre.

Mead would explain:

“In the spring of 1863 I located at Towanda, by the big spring, as a convenient point from which to carry on my business of collecting furs from the hunters and the various Indian tribes of the plans and of the Indian Territory and also following my own favorite pastime of hunting. I found “Towanda” to consist of a big spring of pure water, a rude log school house on the hill, an unoccupied log house near the spring and the residence of C. L. Chandler and his family who occupied a story and a half hewed log house; he also had a small field fenced. Mr. Chandler also kept a United States post office, mails arriving and departing once a week, supplied from Cottonwood Falls by horseback service. There were two settlers south in the valley, and along the river was a heavy belt of oak and hackberry timber almost untouched by the axe. This was all there was of Towanda on June 1, 1863. During that month I erected a building which with its additions answered the various purposes of a trading post, dwelling, postoffice, church, wayside inn and Indian Agency, and soon became the general supply point and center of interest for the southwestern frontier and was widely known as “Mead’s Ranch.” In the spring of 1864 the Wichita and allied bands of Indians, refugees from their homes in the Indian Territory, settled along the Whitewater, Walnut and Little Arkansas rivers, to subsist on the buffalo. In the fall of 1864, the government sent an agent, Major Milo Godkins, who established his agency for these Indians at Towanda, occupying one of my buildings until the winter of 1867, when the Indians were removed to their old home on the Washita river in the Indian Territory.”

Genealogy Trails

The spring is now gone, and a peaceful town remains. The road that once went from Wichita through Towanda to El Dorado now bypasses the little town.

Wayfaring Stranger

Aren’t we all poor wayfaring strangers, just traveling through this world, going home?

I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world below
There is no sickness, no toil, nor danger
In that bright land to which I go
I’m going there to see my Father
And all my loved ones who’ve gone on
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home
I know dark clouds will gather ’round me
I know my way is hard and steep
But beauteous fields arise before me
Where God’s redeemed, their vigils keep
I’m going there to see my Mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
So, I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home

American folk song, 19th century

Why can’t a woman be president?

mountains, lake, gap, chasm, feet

Why are politics so hard to discuss?

If the Wizard of Oz can’t “see” the wisdom of his daughter’s political beliefs, then she snaps his head off like a snapping turtle to a fish. Ouch!

My 30-year-old daughter asked me why there have been no female US presidents. Foreign countries have had female leaders. India, Israel, and Sri Lanka were ably lead by women in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s there was Argentina, Isabel Perón (don’t forget the fiery Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who was elected in 2007); the Central African Republic, Elisabeth Domitien; Portugal, Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo; and United Kingdom, the memorable Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. Canada now has Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, but it also has Julie Payette as Governor General. In 2011, Mexico came close with Josefina Vázquez Mota, but like Hillary, close was not good enough. The list goes on and on, and includes of note, Theresa May and Angela Merkel.

In Norway and Denmark where Oz was vacationing with his daughter, they tout female heads of state to visiting American tourist, as if to say they are so much more advanced. Maybe they are. In 2011, those happy Danes elected Helle Thorning Schmidt president, putting the Social Democrats in power. And since 2013, the Norwegians have been guided by a female conservative named Erna Solberg. (France has never elected a female head of state, but who wants to be like France?)

This is all new news in Europe, but it doesn’t have to be now that the taboo has been broken.

Is the problem the patriarchal system in the US?

The idea of the man as the sole breadwinner, the head of the household, went out the door in the seventies. Sure, not everyone was on board. Sure, there have been bumps in the road to progress, i.e. equal rights, equal pay, equal treatment has been and still is a subject for national and local debate. We have come a long way and there is a longer way to go.

There have been female candidates, though most people would be hard pressed to mention one other than Hillary Clinton who lost to Donald Trump in 2016. That has been a sore subject to many women who ascribe Hillary’s loss to a misogynist attitude in politics. We are not quite ready to be told what to do by a “broad,” some troglodytes say.

Experience is a factor, but then again.

There have not been as many women experienced in politics as men. Ah, but my daughter points out Donald Trump’s lack of political experience, and she is right. We do not always elect leaders based on their political background. George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, Dwight Eisenhower all got elected without first holding political office. But they were generals, leaders of men and women in battle, saviors of our country.

Perhaps, what is needed is “a leap of confidence,” but whether the leap be made by the voting public or the female candidate, or both, remains the question.

It may seem strange to quote music from The Sound of Music at this point. After all, the plot is an outdated non-PC stereotype – a confused young girl wants to get married.

Caution to the wind, here goes.

Picture Maria (Julie Andrews) leaving the sisterhood and the convent with guitar in hand to take a job as governess to a wealthy Austrian aristocrat. It is a musical, so she breaks out in song as she skips down the road.

“So, let them bring on all their problems,
I’ll do better than my best.
I have confidence
They’ll put me to the test!
But I’ll make them see
I have confidence in me.
Somehow I will impress them.
I will be firm, but kind.
And all those children
Heaven bless them
They will look up to me
And mind me!
With each step I am more certain,
Everything will turn out fine.
I have confidence,
The world can all be mine!
They’ll have to agree
I have confidence in me.

Let’s leave it at this, “it has been a long time coming, but a change is going to come.”