If you grew up in rural South Dakota 60 or 70 years ago, you're either brave when alone at night or you see monsters behind every corral post and cottonwood tree. Some of my friends from childhood are brave. Me, I see monsters, even today. Why, just the other evening, when I looked out the patio window and saw footprints in the snowdrift behind the house, I figured it was a monster. I switched on the outside light. I saw nothing, but I was pretty sure some "thing'' was just around the corner of the patio.
I confess I'm uncomfortable with the notion of a soon-to-be-president who expresses himself in 140-character tweets. I don't consider that a criticism of Donald Trump. It's my observation that he doesn't take kindly to criticism, real or perceived, and I'm sure he's in for a lot of criticism over the course of his administration. I'm pretty sure he'll respond, too, perhaps through the Twitter account he used quite successfully throughout his campaign.
Back in my days as a newspaper reporter covering the Legislature, state government and politics, I used to traffic in rumors and tips.
Imagine if a natural disaster or some man-made craziness occurred in the United States today and 96 people lost their lives. It would top the world news. Yet that’s the rate at which people die on the nation’s highways, and it draws attention primarily from the families and friends of the crash victims.
For as long as my memory holds, I'll have vivid images of trying to stay warm when my dad took me to work with him on the farm on winter weekends. The images are most vivid mostly because I so often failed to find enough warm clothing, the right combination of garments, the proper mix of wool socks and the most wind-resistant headgear for long hours out in the open. No matter how I tried, I always wound up with tingling fingers and with toes that felt like stones inside the several layers of socks. The supposedly insulated work boots just didn't do the job.
Each year, at the end of my medical checkup, my doctor tells me three things. Keep moving, he says. Stay away from sick people. Don't fall. Of course, he asks if I've gotten a flu shot, and he spends a fair amount of time on my general physical and emotional health. But just before he walks out the door to see his next patient, he tells me to move and to avoid falls and sick people.
Here it is New Year's Eve, and I'm considering resolutions to improve my life in 2017.
Our Christmas company has gone, and we're putting the house back in order. You know the routine, that familiar business of laundering the guests' sheets and towels, breaking down a mountain of cardboard boxes, stuffing bits of ribbon and hunks of brightly colored paper into a couple of garbage bags, taking leaves out of the table, hanging the extra chairs back on the hooks in the garage and generally turning a holiday party palace back into a quiet haven for a couple of old folks.
The family Christmas tree was a lot like Santa Claus when I was a kid. It just showed up. I never saw Santa, but he always delivered. Somehow, often when our dad was showing us the wonders of the night sky as we bounced across the frozen pastures in a Jeep, Santa swooped down and dumped our gifts. Our mom spotted him a time or two, but the rest of us? Not a glimpse. Only the presents showed us he'd visited. That's some kind of Christmas magic.
I wrote a while back about what a hero former astronaut John Glenn was to people of my generation. When he rode Friendship 7 into space, orbited the earth three times and returned home safely, he made us proud. We were relieved, too. We could compete with the Russians in the space race. Glenn's successful space mission boosted American morale in a big way. In those days, communist Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, loomed as a threat to free people everywhere.