Columns 2016

Hoisted on his own petard

There’s an old phrase – hoisted on your own petard – which I can remember my mother quoting in my childhood every time I did something she warned me not to do and it went bad.

The quote comes from Shakespeare and, since mom was briefly an English teacher, she loved those quotes. For sure it was not something often said by any other members of our extended family. They usually used Italian phrases when yelling at us and then refused to translate what they’d just said. Didn’t matter though. We knew from the tone just how much trouble we Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Anchorage should be proud of its police

I think it’s time to take a break from the horror of our current presidential campaign and turn inward just a bit. Because, quite frankly, once the word for a baby cat entered into the national debate in a presidential election, all hope that the campaigns would somehow get back to real issues is lost. All hope that our current presidential campaigns will not embarrass us on a global level has vanished. It’s time to turn our thoughts towards something locally that we can honestly take pride in.

Have you noticed that our Anchorage Police Department has been in three Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Fat shaming… not cool

Long before the term “fat shaming” came into vogue, I was all too well aware of what it was. I started my childhood in a store lovingly called Chubettes. When I grew too big for Chubettes, I moved up to Lane Bryant in the days before the store sold itself as modern clothing for the big sized modern woman. I got to try on clothes that had clearly been meant for my grandmother.

So yes, I know about fat shaming. Anytime I walked out of one of these stores, I wanted to hide my head in a bag. The only Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Put on your big boy and girl pants and face the current fiscal reality

I don’t know how it is in your family, but when I complain to my relatives in the lower 48 that I’m ONLY getting $1000 from the state instead of $2000 I am somehow owed, I get a less than sympathetic response. This might be because they live in reality where, if you want government services, you pay for them. Alaskans have seemingly forgotten how this actually works.

For a group of people that likes to complain about government overreach, certain Alaskans are screaming awfully loudly about something that is, in essence, a free government gift. And please spare me Continue reading →

Columns 2016

To cut or not to cut the PFD check

Anyone catching even the slightest glimpse of my checkbook knows my ability with finances is, to put it mildly, limited. That I’m able to live on my own and pay my own bills this late in my life is totally due to other people who understand finances and helped me save some of that money flowing so easily through my fingers. So when I talk about our PFD checks, I speak from a human perspective and not a technical knowledge of high finance.

In most of Bush Alaska, a PFD check is treasured. It provides that extra boost that helps Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Social Workers aren’t the problem

I remember the first night I spent as the only social worker on the North Slope. It was the mid-eighties. Money and drugs were slamming our villages pretty badly. Ahead of me would be nights when I never got to bed because of the number of child endangerment calls I had to respond to. But that night, all I could do was lay awake and wonder how I was going to keep track of all the kids already in foster homes or group homes. How was I ever going to find the time to work with the families to try Continue reading →

Columns 2016, pictures

There is always the Fair

joesnake gretajoeIn 1992, Queen Elizabeth II gave a speech in which she referred to the previous year as her “Annus Horribillis”, her horrible year. As Halloween decorations take over store displays that had once promoted grills, and yellow leaves cover our carefully tended green lawns, Americans have a right to look back on this past summer and think of it as our very own “atrox aestas”, horrible summer.

theyoungprinceFor those of you not familiar with Latin, let me apologize for using it so indiscriminately; but I had 16 years of Catholic schooling and many of those years involved learning Latin. It’s Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Spewing hate is not American

My cousins Joe and Mary have three children. The oldest boy is married to an ethnic Chinese woman from Vietnam. The middle son is married to a Pennsylvania farmer’s daughter. The youngest, a girl, is married to an African-American. This is coming to you from a family that, just two generations ago, thought when my Uncle Albert (Italian) married Aunt Jean (Polish), the world was spinning slightly off its axis.

When I read about the interracial couple who were stabbed because they kissed in public and some racist thought that was just too much to ask him to bear, my Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Old Friends

The thing about living in Alaska is that if you weren’t born here, if you came here from elsewhere, you probably left a lot of people behind. I know I did. While I wouldn’t give up the life I have here for anything, I can’t say that I haven’t missed being a bigger part of my birth family. Although it’s been over 44 years, I still miss the siblings and cousins and friends I left behind.

One of those friends will be visiting me tomorrow. She’s special. She got to wear a cape to her high school prom, the most Continue reading →

Columns 2016

Your vote is your power

I’m writing this before the final vote in Tuesday’s primary election. While I may not be able to name the winners and losers in contested seats, I feel pretty safe in saying that the turnout was dismal. I can predict this because that’s the way it almost always is.

Perhaps the upcoming presidential election will push more people out of their chairs and into a voting booth in November just because the rhetoric in that election is so very loud, angry and divisive. Or perhaps a lot of Americans will do a lot of ranting and raving about the election Continue reading →