It's a different world following the Legislature from the outside as an average citizen instead of from the press room of the Capitol building. For 40 sessions, from 1970 through 2009, I watched from the press box. For five sessions after that, with the Department of Public Safety, I followed the Legislature every day as part of my job. It wasn't the same as being a reporter, but it kept me on the inside.
Early one misty morning a couple of summers ago as I stood outside the operations center near the east end of Camp Rapid, I stretched, took a sip of coffee and looked up to where the fog had parted enough to show me a massive dinosaur above the clouds.
Last Friday, while many people watched the inauguration of a new American president, Nancy and I joined a great crowd of other folks in the Rec Center at St. Joseph's Indian School to say goodbye to an unassuming, but remarkable woman named Diana Caldwell.
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.