Sunday, May 1, 2016

Can the Democrats Pull This Out of the Fire? Do They Want To? Do They Care?

The election that I really wasn't much interested in this cycle is starting to look more promising. The question is for what, though?

It's clear enough that the Bernie phenomenon has put the fear of the Devil into the Hillary camp. That wasn't supposed to happen. Bernie's entrance and presence into the primaries was supposed to be nothing more than a footnote. Similar to O'Malley's. These two would be allowed to bookend Herself, but not at all to threaten her Victory. (There were other Democrats in the primaries for a bit, but I've forgotten who they were already, not being all that much interested in the Pageant at the outset.)

Well, Bernie surprised everyone, including himself. It seemed like no one knew beforehand that there was such a deep reservoir of resentment toward the Democratic establishment -- partly because no one "who mattered" was paying attention. Ah, power politics and how it works!

No, the People had been dismissed long before by the Powers That Be in both of the major political parties, and literally nothing the People had to say about much of anything was something the PTB believed they had to listen to. "Governing Contrary" to the public interest and the will of the People was ingrained in the System. There was -- and would be -- no alternative.

"No you can't." No, you CAN'T! NO, YOU CAN'T!!!!

That was Hillary's opening gambit, and she's pretty much stayed with it ever since. And it's honest. Honest for her, certainly. But an honest reflection of the attitude of the Establishment -- regardless of party -- toward the Rabble everywhere, expressed as directly and openly as you could want.

No. You. Can't.

It goes to the heart of the political system, its beliefs and its workings, and there is and can be no alternative for the Rabble. None. Ever.

This is the Neo-LibCon statement world-wide to anyone and everyone who wants something better. "You can't have it. You will never have it. There is no alternative."

Yes, well. Bernie upset that applecart. So did Trump. This wasn't supposed to happen.

More and more, I'm suspecting Trump is a ratfuck. His campaign was never intended to be real. Instead, it was supposed to be little more than a sop to the Other Side's Rabble, while preventing the emergence of a popular (not populist) Republican candidate in order to grease the skids for a Hillary Victory.

Yeah, it looked from the outset that both Party's establishments had chosen Hillary to be the next President, and they believed it would be a piece of cake to get her in. The rest would be Show Business.

But a spanner or two has been thrown in the works.

A lot of Hillary Haters simply cannot understand her appeal. Why, they wonder, would anybody vote for her given her obvious and notorious Evil?

To me, this is just silly. Her Evil is no worse or better than any other presidential contender's. The idea that she is somehow Uniquely Evil -- because she's a Clinton or something -- is ridiculous. She is what she is, and she's reached the level she has in US and Global politics because she's useful to the Powers she serves. She's also a known -- and generally respected -- quantity globally. She may not be all that popular when you get down to it, but she's popular enough at home and abroad.

People vote for her because they know her. That's the simplest way to explain it. There's a little bit of nostalgia involved, but it's mostly because they know her story very well, those old enough to remember the Clinton presidency followed it like a soap opera, and many expressed deep and abiding sympathy for Hillary that they've carried to this day.

So a "coronation" was not out of the question at all. It should have been easy, but it wasn't, an it may get even rougher. I have little doubt she can sustain herself no matter the onslaught, but it's not clear that her path to Victory is still open wide. It may turn into a real contest, and that would be something.

Let's be blunt. There was no way in Hell Bernie would be allowed to defeat Herself in the overall primary contest. None. Those who rule us have many, many ways to ensure that upstarts like Bernie are kept well away from the levers of power, oh yes. This is basic to the theories of Neo-LibCon primacy. Nothing and no one an ever be allowed to interfere with their rule, and anyone who seriously tries to shall be crushed with extreme prejudice.

But I don't think Bernie ever intended to be a serious challenge to the PTB or Hillary.

His intent was little more than to move her and her sponsors leftwards, on the premise that it would be better for everyone (including Hillary and her sponsors) to do so. Continuing the rigorous path of TINA and LibCon rule would be a disaster.

It was not difficult at all for Hillary and her sponsors to move slightly left in response to Bernie's hectoring, but oh my. He tapped such a reservoir of resentment on the part of the Rabble.

Just as Trump did on the other side.

And now what wasn't supposed to be looks possible.

Hillary could go down to defeat.

Oh. My.

Even Trump didn't expect that.

Flop sweat, panic and desperation is growing over the events of the last few months, and Our Rulers appear to be entering Defcon 4, preparing the bunkers, and holding their breath.

Uncharted waters ahead.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Illness and Dealing With The System (UPDATED)

I have a Medicare Advantage Plan through Presbyterian Health Care in Albuquerque. Until yesterday, it seemed to be fine. I got care by competent professionals when I needed it, and though the clinic is 35-40 miles away, it's not too inconvenient. Co-pays -- so far -- have been reasonable.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm currently being treated for rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia. Rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful and debilitating, whereas pneumonia can be lethal, especially for an elder like myownself.

Treatment for RA has consisted of diclofenac twice a day and high-dose prednisone for five days, with a follow up by a rheumatology specialist. That follow up has not happened. I was supposed to receive a call from Rheumatology setting up an appointment, but none came. The prednisone treatment ended April 18, and for the next week or so, the pain I'd previously experienced was more or less controlled. But yesterday, actually the day before, the pain started returning, and it became so bad I could barely stand it. It was at times worse than before I started treatment.

I had been given a five day course of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, half the time-period of previous treatments. It seemed to control the symptoms, but then not. At all. It did not seem to me that Azithromycin was an effective treatment as I still had a severe cough, chest pain and compression, and difficulty breathing.

So I contacted my primary care physician reporting that I was experiencing returned or persistent symptoms of both RA and pneumonia and requesting advice.

The response I got was... odd. "Were you able to set up an appointment with the Rheumatologist?"

The answer, of course, is No. I replied that I had never received a call from Rheumatology and I had no contact info.

Shortly, I received a text telling me that Rheumatology had called me and left a message for me to call them back to set up an appointment. Apparently I hadn't received the message for some reason. Contact information was provided and I was encouraged to give them a call to set up an appointment.

This I did promptly.

Hm. I spoke to a very nice person who said that in essence there are are no appointments available until November at the earliest. The doctor who I was told to contact is not accepting new patients at all, and the only rheumatologist on staff who is accepting new patients won't have an appointment opening before November. I explained that I'd been informed by my primary care physician that someone had tried to contact me to set up an appointment with the doctor who isn't taking new patients but that I had not gotten the message. "Let me check," she said. A few minutes later, she said there was no record of anyone from rheumatology trying to contact me and no record of an attempt to set an appointment time. Interesting.

I asked if it was possible that someone had tried to contact me but called the wrong number (I get calls periodically from doctors offices and dentists for other people, sometimes because the caller has misdialed) and she that they only have the one number for me, and there is no record of anyone from rheumatology trying to contact me at any time.

I explained that the nurse told me there was, so it was something of a mystery. She said she would look into what happened and get back to me, because it certainly seemed odd to her, too.

I then texted the nurse who had told me that someone had tried to reach me from rheumatology with the information that they have no record of it, and I had checked through my voicemail messages for the last month, and there was no message from rheumatology.

Meanwhile, the pain was becoming excruciating while we've tried to get this resolved. As it happens I have a few prednisone tablets from the first prescription when I was told I was taking them wrong, and I took one last night -- because in a pinch, one tablet will control the pain for about 24 hours. Doctor told me not to take it that way, but I have no other pain relief option when the RA pain comes on the way it has, and as the issue with rheumatology follow up seems to be a mess for the time being, as they try to sort out what happened with my non-appointment, I used what was at hand.

We'll see what happens. At least the pain was controlled overnight, and that is a major relief.

Meanwhile, I still have pneumonia symptoms which I've reported and asked for advice on, but so far, there's been no response to that request. At all.

The system apparently isn't set up to answer two questions in one message or to respond to more than one issue at a time.

I'm learning, I guess. But if I didn't have the prednisone, I would be in serious agony with no relief at all, and the persistence of pneumonia symptoms after treatment ought to be something of a red flag -- but apparently it isn't.

UPDATE: Despite systemic resistance, I was able to set up two appointments to deal with immediate issues. The first, yesterday, followed up on pneumonia symptoms. Turned out my condition was worse -- gee, ya think? -- and I needed and was prescribed a stronger antibiotic along with more prednisone in case the chest pain becomes severe.

The next appointment is Monday for the rheumatioid arthritis. Since there apparently is no rheumatologist who is accepting patients within a reasonable time frame (at least none that I know of), it will be up to me and my primary care physician to find an appropriate treatment for as long as it takes to get in to see a specialist -- which apparently is going to be months.

Prednisone does work. Even, it would appear, in low dose, which I've tried since getting prednisone for chest pain yesterday.

My co-pay for the stronger antibiotic is quite high (close to $100). It may be that the earlier ineffective treatment -- which had a very low co-pay ($4.00 or something like that) was intended to keep my costs reasonable. I don't know. But it didn't work, and at first, the staff at the clinic ignored my repeated requests for relief. Then something happened, perhaps when I called up again yesterday morning, and things changed.

The system may be resistant but apparently it's not entirely non-responsive.

Leo the Incurable Romantic

Leo was my mother's step-father. He died before I was born, and I've never seen a picture of him, so I didn't know him and I have no personal knowledge of what he looked like. But since I've been on this journey of genealogical discovery, I feel like I've learned a great deal about him, enough, perhaps, to have a fairly good idea of what he was like.

I have little doubt that he was an incurable romantic.

He was second-generation American. He and his parents were born in the United States; his grandparents were born in Germany. That surprised me, for I thought he was Welsh or even Irish, but according to the records, he was German. He was born and reared in Indianapolis, and as far as I know he was a friend of my mother's biological father. That's what I was told by my mother, and the records I've found indicate they both worked for Indianapolis's streetcar company, and at least for a time they were neighbors.

Leo was a machinist for the streetcar company, whereas Larry (aka "Riley"), my mother's biological father, worked mostly as a conductor. When he worked. Leo was a member of the Sons of Pythias, and seems to have parlayed that and his own rather sunny personality into a much better life than Larry the Rebel was able to do for himself and his many offspring.

Larry would be killed in a railyard incident in St. Louis just before Christmas of 1916. He left behind a widow and young daughter in St. Louis and another widow and young daughter in Indianapolis. There were a number of other women and children, but those two households were primary at the time of Larry's death. The yard boss in St Louis married Larry's St. Louis widow Marie and adopted her daughter Helen, and they lived in St. Louis for the rest of their lives.

Larry's Indianapolis widow Edna would be married by Leo, and Leo, Edna and her daughter Virginia -- my mother -- would move to California in 1917 to start a new life. Leo never legally adopted my mother, but he treated her as his daughter and she used his last name as her own until she married.

Leo and Edna had no children together of their own.

In California, Leo started out as an auto mechanic for the Ed Reubel Dodge dealership in Santa Maria. He worked his way up to service manager, and he and his little family had a nice little California bungalow a few blocks away from the dealership. The house is still there and it still looks cozy and cheerful though it's now part of a multi-unit compound.

Sometime after 1930, Leo pulled up stakes and bought an auto court and filling station on the Redwood Highway in Willits called "U-Auto-Stop" where he and Edna moved. By this time my mother Virginia was married to her first husband, and shortly she would give birth to a daughter, Patricia, my (half) sister. They continued to live in Santa Maria where my mother's husband, Polk, worked as a mechanic and at other jobs for Ed Reubel.

In 1939, Leo sold the "U-Auto-Stop" and at first, I didn't know what had happened to them. Turns out he and Edna moved to Reno where he became the Secretary-Treasurer of a mining company. After some further search, I found out it was called the Jungo Mine, and it was located outside of Jungo, NV, the site of a very famous gold mine that had been extensively featured in Life Magazine. That mine was called the Jumbo Mine.

I found some ads for the Jungo Mine offering penny shares to all and sundry with extravagant promises of riches to come. Sacks of ore were being taken out of the Jungo Mine, some of them assaying at $12 and $15, so the ad copy said, and this translated to a remarkable return on a penny investment. "Get in now!"

Whether or not this mine actually ever operated, I don't know. There were lots of diggings around Jungo following the Jumbo strike in 1936, but whether any of them proved worthwhile is unknown to me. The ads I found for the Jungo Mine seem to have been placed only in 1940 -- I found none before or after -- and by 1941, Leo and Edna were living in Vallejo, CA.

Leo took a job as a machinist at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard -- where all those Liberty Ships were built to win the War -- and Edna took sick with the cancer that would shortly kill her. She died in October, 1941. Leo continued to work at Mare Island until his own death in 1945.

My mother spoke rather highly of Leo, when she spoke of him at all -- which wasn't often. Except that, when it came to her mother's death, she became hard and unforgiving. Suddenly her attitude toward Leo changed, and she blamed Leo for her mother's death at age 52. According to her, Leo and Edna had adopted Christian Science, and that meant Edna got no medical attention during her illness and according to my mother, she died in agony. There were hints in the story she told me that they had turned to Christian Science because they couldn't afford traditional medical treatment, and the fact that they couldn't afford it was due to Leo's profligacy.

That could be, but my mother didn't say anything to me about Reno or the mine or Vallejo. Her stories of her mother and stepfather stopped in Willits, which is where I thought Edna had died. But it wasn't so.

She lived at least briefly in Vallejo and died at the Solano County Hospital where she was taken when it was too late.

At the time, my mother was living with her husband and daughter on an orchard-ranch in Yolo County owned a Japanese-American family. Her husband, Polk, she said, was working as an oil-jobber, but according to records I found, he was a service station attendant. It's possible he was both. She divorced Polk in 1941 or 42 -- due to his infidelity, she said. She and my sister stayed on the ranch until some time after the Japanese family was sent away to the camps. Then they moved into town, Sacramento, just across the river from the ranch. Polk was also in Sacramento at the time, and he stayed there through the War and afterwards. In fact, he's buried in Sacramento, which surprised the heck out of me as he died in Walnut Creek where he lived with his second wife for thirty years or more working for Chevron, eventually becoming a vice president for sales.

But his new wife Jean was from Sacramento, and after Polk died she moved back to Sacramento where she lived the rest of her life.

This is getting far afield of Leo, however.

Leo's romanticism comes through in the path he follows from Indiana to California, from California to Nevada, and from Nevada back to California -- when it seems that his hopes in the mine were dashed.

In the end, I see his story as a romantic tragedy.

Leaving Indiana in 1917 and making a new life in California with my mother and her mother was in itself a romantic gesture, a supremely romantic gesture, it seems to me.

My mother's mother Edna had come from a rather well-off matriarchy headed by her mother Ida. Ida was a widow-woman who had apparently inherited quite a lot of property from her parents and her husband, land and buildings in the path of Indianapolis's growth during the 19th and early 20th centuries. She lived off the income and proceeds of sales of this property and provided a home for her sisters and son and daughter, and soon would be providing a home for her granddaughter when Edna gave birth to my mother Virginia in 1911. The house where they lived on N. Sherman Drive is still standing, and it seems like a rather modest place, though it's deceptively large. It's next door to a fire station which was built in 1915 on the site of Ida's former home, the place she'd shared with her husband and children. Though I've never seen a picture of that house, my impression is that it was an old two story farm house that was built when that section of Indianapolis was rural. It apparently burned in 1912 or 1913, and Ida sold the lot to the city -- for a fire station. The household moved next door to a house Ida also owned at the time.

These places on N. Sherman Dr were half a block from the Michigan Avenue streetcar line where Larry, my mother's biological father, worked -- when he worked -- as a conductor.

Larry was quite a ladies' man.

He'd been married in 1896 and had three children with his wife Maud, but they were divorced around 1907 and his children were farmed out. His daughter Florence went to live with his brother Frank and Frank's wife Edna, and for all anyone knew, Florence was Frank and Edna's daughter for ever more. Larry's sons, George and David, went to live with Larry's parents where they stayed until they reached majority.

Larry fathered other children, three of whom I found records of. One, Virgil, was born the same year as my mother (1911) to a woman (girl, really; she was 17) who never claimed to be married to Larry. My mother's mother Edna did claim to be married to Larry, though I could find no proof of it. According to what I did find, she claimed to be married to him in January or February of 1910. But she did not live with him as man and wife -- ever, so far as I could find out -- and she did not use his last name until after my mother Virginia's birth.

Larry's other child, Helen, was born to Marie, his wife in St. Louis. I did find records of their marriage, though he married her under what appears to have been an assumed name. My mother always claimed that he was a bigamist, and the scandalous discovery was made at his funeral when his "other family" was revealed. My mother remembered attending his funeral, and she recalled feeling sorry for his daughter Helen who was then two years old (my mother was five.)

She recalled the funeral taking place in Indianapolis, but it didn't. It was in St. Louis on the 23rd of December, 1916, and Larry was buried in Friedens Cemetery in Bellfontaine Neighbors just north of St. Louis.

I suspect my mother simply didn't remember the train trip of several hours from Indianapolis to St. Louis to attend his funeral.

My mother said she had few memories of her father, but I suspect she had none. Not only was he a ladies man, he was a somewhat notorious petty criminal, accused of numerous robberies and burglaries from the time he was a young teenager. In March of 1912, he was chased through the streets of downtown Indianapolis by a "merchant policeman" who was firing his gun at the fleeing Larry -- who he accused of burglarizing a drugstore.

Larry was apprehended by regular police -- who knew him -- and taken to the stationhouse where he denied everything. The proprietor of the drugstore averred that nothing had been taken from the premises. Larry was arraigned and the case was bound over to the grand jury but I found no disposition. He may have gone to trial, but maybe not.

Larry's father David was a prominent Civil War veteran who held a number of patronage positions in Indiana state government. He was the legislative parliamentarian, later the state land clerk, and he served in a number of other capacities. He had six sons, three of whom became prominent in Indiana in their own right. Larry, the second youngest, on the other hand, became notorious.

It seems that Larry's father got him out of one scrape with the law after another, but the 1912 incident may have been the last straw. By sometime in 1913, Larry had moved to St. Louis where his older brother Harold had long lived and worked as a printer and Linotype operator for the St. Louis Globe Dispatch. (As a side-note, David, the pater familias, had published a newspaper in Lebanon, Indiana, before moving to Indianapolis and taking up positions with the state government.)

After Larry died in St. Louis, Leo -- his friend in Indianapolis -- took it upon himself to "make an honest woman" out of Edna and to take care of and protect Edna's daughter Virgina. They moved to California to start a new life -- a project which appears to have gone very well.

The family's life was very different and better in California than it could possibly have been in Indiana. Indianapolis was rough and gritty and dirty, and whether she wanted to be or not, Edna was caught up in scandal brought on by Larry's misbehavior.

Given the "moral" standards of the era, Edna was sullied, and there was nothing she could do about it -- though she tried. Leaving was her best option, and the fact that Leo was there and ready, willing, and able to take the risk of building a new life in California with Edna and Virginia was a godsend.

It's too bad that Leo's romantic vision culminated with his mining adventure in Nevada -- which apparently came to nothing and left him broke, his wife ill, and his stepdaughter hating him.

It's a very common story in some ways, but on another plane, it may be unique to this particular group of people at this particular time in American history. I knew little about it because it all took place before I was born, and my mother was not necessarily forthcoming. She harbored great resentment -- indeed hatred -- towards Leo, blaming him and his incurable romantic vision for her mother's death. She could not and did not forgive him. I have little doubt he carried his own sense of guilt and failure to his own death a few years later (I believe he died of a heart attack -- or perhaps of a broken heart).

I didn't know Leo or Edna -- let alone Larry. I've never even seen a picture of any of them. But they had an influence on my life through my mother. Finding out about them -- who they were, where they came from, what they did -- is an adventure for me, something I could not have done to this extent prior to the advent of the internet.

Now that I've found living cousins I'm learning a whole lot about my father's family I never knew before, too. It's all quite a wonder.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Jackson-Tubman Thing

This is kind of interesting. The South is apparently rising again (again?) over news that the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill will be replaced with Harriet Tubman sometime in the next four-five years. Supposedly, this is an insult to Jackson, and by extension to the South and all it stands for -- whatever that may be. Southern white men -- especially -- are incensed. Poor things.

Jackson is seen as a heroic figure by many of them, and it is precisely for the kinds of things his critics have condemned him for since forever: he was a racist, a slave owner-trader, a Indian killer in acts that amount to genocide, and he was a prime advocate of Indian Removal. He is considered by most observers to be responsible for the Trail of Tears on which so many Native Americans were ignominiously sent West -- too many of them to their deaths.

It gets interesting because Ms. Ché, a Cherokee Nation citizen, thought there was more to the story than we were being told. No matter the tales of Jackson's evil that she'd been hearing all her life, she thought there must be something redeeming in him and that his acts -- deplorable as they were -- weren't as one-dimensional as they had been made out to be.

We'd been to Nashville a few times together, and I found I didn't like it much at all. Nashville struck me as not just the South but the Bad South, some of the worst aspects of Southern Tradition were alive and well, and there was very little "Good South" to mitigate it.

Ms. Ché , on the other hand, was quite taken with the place and the people, and she's been back several times on her own. The last time she was there, she decided to go out to Andrew Jackson's plantation, The Hermitage, and see for herself just what this man done on his own land, and try to get a sense of his spirit.

She toured the mansion and rode what they call a slave wagon (a cotton transport wagon) around the grounds. She heard the stories they tell there of his life and times -- both good and bad. She researched on her own too. She came back home and said, "You know, I think they've got Jackson wrong. He wasn't quite the monster he's made out to be."

I was kind of stunned at her point of view. What about the Trail of Tears and all the suffering he caused her own people? She said, "He wasn't directly involved in that at all. It came after he left the White House."

I said that if it hadn't been for Jackson, Indian Removal probably wouldn't have become national policy. She disagreed. She said it probably would have --  and it might have come sooner and more brutally than it did if it hadn't been for Jackson's interventions.

Whoa! Talk about historical revisionism!

Where did she get these ideas? Her point of view was that Jackson was very conflicted about the Indian Question, and he had a lot of respect for Indians at a time when white folks were expected to hate them and kill them whenever they could. He may have believed that the only solution to the Indian Problem was for them to leave for the West, but he might not have believed that if the popular sentiment among white folks at the time hadn't been so racist, greedy and bloodthirsty. He himself, she said, was not like that.

He wasn't? No, she said, not really. He'd let himself become seen as a heroic Indian fighter and Indian hater, and he felt guilty about it and about what he had done. He would much rather have found an accommodation with the tribes than try to force them out of their ancestral lands. But it wasn't possible, for one thing because the white-trash rabble that coveted Indian lands wouldn't allow it. Nothing less than annihilation was satisfactory to them.

She talked about Rachel, his wife. The plantation slaves. The Indians. She said so much of the Black Legend of Jackson is false. The truth is much more complicated.

She said she knew she was supposed to harbor resentment and hatred toward Jackson, but she didn't feel that way about him. For one thing, she didn't believe such feelings were healthy. But for another, she insisted he wasn't the monster his critics made him out to be. He'd been falsely portrayed for many a long year.

Hm. Well, I can't say I'm convinced. I tend to think that Jackson represented and represents some of the worst and most destructive aspects of White America. He was sort of the epitome of White racism, resentment, violence and greed, living off the backs of his slaves and the theft of Indian land. He may or may not have had redeeming qualities, I wouldn't know, but too many people suffered too much due to his actions, beliefs and policies for him to be considered anything but a monstrous figure in American history -- at least to my eye.

When news came that the Treasury Department had decided to replace Jackson with Tubman on the $20 bill, I thought it was symbolic but fine. I didn't see it as denigration or denunciation of Jackson but as one way to honor Tubman. Jackson, ultimately, would not be affected by this move at all. He would still be honored by those who considered him a hero, denounced by his critics. That would not change by putting someone else's portrait on the $20 bill.

Ms. Ché saw the move as an unnecessary aggravation at a time when domestic animosity and factionalism has reached a fever pitch in this country. She has no problem with honoring Tubman, just that doing it this way at this time may be unwise.

It won't be done for at least four years, and by that time who knows how the national conscience and consciousness will have changed? This is far from the most important issue we face or will face, but knowing how sensitive some people have become about every perceived slight, and how resentful and violent some become, it's certainly conceivable that the Outrage!!!!™ this move precipitates could lead to yet more civil unrest among the under-appreciated white folks of this country.

On the other hand, there has been far too much bending over backwards to mollify the South for far too long and far too much tolerance for the violence that ensues.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ché the Pneumoniac

Yes, I have pneumonia again. Third time. I wanted not to think it was true, but symptoms were too similar to previous episodes, and I was not getting better. So, got doctored for "persistent cough" and sure enough, pneumonia.

This is  annoying as all heck because I've had both pneumonia vaccines. What in tarnation is the point if I get pneumonia anyway? And where did it come from this time?

It's a mystery, but this is my suspicion: When I went to the doctor for RA symptoms, I got a flu shot because I didn't get one last fall. The nurse who administered the injection had a severe cough. A few days later I developed flu-like symptoms, but I attributed them at the time to side effects from the RA medication I was taking.

After I finished the high dose course of RA medication, I figured the flu-mimic symptoms would go away. They didn't. It became more and more obvious that I had somehow acquired pneumonia again.

How? My suspicion is that I had flu after the flu shot -- either from the nurse or from the vaccine itself. I had no treatment for flu, of course, because it didn't really register with me that that's what I had. The flu led directly to a pulmonary infection that became the pneumonia I'm being treated for now.

If it is viral pneumonia, the antibiotics are not going to work, but so far they seem to be working, so we'll see what happens over the longer term.

For the record, RA symptoms have been largely under control since the five-day high-dosage prednisone treatment -- which ended on 4/18. Not a cure, no. But at least it's less debilitating.

What a drag it is getting old...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Elections Fraud

This seems to have become a nearly routine issue in American elections. They are not "free and fair" by any stretch of the imagination -- at least in some areas, at least some of the time.

Reports have been coming in of potentially millions of voters disenfranchised in New York, for example. Ridiculous levels of SNAFU afflicted the primary election in Arizona, and similar problems restricted voting in several other states.

There is a remarkable consistency about these problems: polls don't open on time, there are too few polling places, too few voting machines at the polling places that are open, not enough ballots, voters are not found on the rolls, party registration has been changed if they are found on the rolls, extremely long waits to cast ballots, purges of eligible voters, etc.

Neither major party seems to have more than a casual interest in correcting this situation, and anything they would -- eventually -- sponsor to correct it would likely institutionalize disenfranchisement rather than ameliorate it.

So. What's going on? We've had some rather spectacular elections irregularities at least since the 2000 presidential election that was lawlessly decided by the Supreme Court in an act of unprecedented arrogance.

Now it seems that elections fraud has become endemic to the system and like a virus is spreading far and wide. Of course, when "elections fraud" is mentioned, it's generally interpreted to mean that somehow voters are committing fraud, and that must be stopped with all due prejudice. This means access to the franchise is further and further restricted by law, to the point where millions are effectively disenfranchised with little or no practical recourse.

The only problem is that voters are not committing fraud in more than single digit numbers. The idea that they are is a myth.

On the other hand, over and over again, elections clerks and their sponsors and supervisors have acted directly and indirectly to make voting as difficult as possible or actually impossible for millions, seemingly more and more voters affected at every election.

The only remedy is in the courts, and the courts are loathe to interfere, consequently the problems are not corrected. They grow worse.

Something tells me this is by design. Ultimately the public will lose faith in elections altogether, and who knows, maybe officials will be selected by boards of experts.

We've been down this path before, and it looks like we're headed this way again. Disenfranchisement was a key element in early American elections, and it came back with a vengeance in the early days of the Progressive era. The whole point was/is to restrict voting to those who are considered "worthy." And to restrict it to as few of them as possible. And to restrict voting to as few issues as possible.


I see no way out of this dilemma in the short term. Over the long term? Oh, a revolution may be in order.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Problem With the Sanders Campaign Sanders.

I don't know how else to say this, but he's an old man who comes across too often as if he were the crazy uncle in the attic. Sorry, he just does.

By and large, he advocates for policies and programs that would have been ideal in 1980 -- or 1950 -- but now they seem inadequate and anachronistic. We can't go back to some halcyon past when things were or could have been better.

The mess we're in is the result of cumulative decisions by policy-makers and their sponsors over the last several decades. Both major parties have been complicit. Bernie has not been able to stem the tide. Sometimes he hasn't tried.

Comes now his campaign which has been resonating strongly, particularly among the young, and it almost seems like something out of the mythological past. Things could have been so much better if only...

If only, yes. The problem is that "if only" notes what's been lost, not what can be -- will be? -- made manifest in the future. In other words, as I see it, Bernie's campaign is a lament, not a manifesto.

I won't even mention Hillary's campaign, as it's too dreary. "No you can't have nice things -- ever!" is hardly an inspirational message, no?

It's my hope that the Sanders campaign will be a catalyst for that missing manifesto for the future, but I don't think the necessary political, economic and social adjustments will come through the ballot box.

We're way past that.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Jungo Mine

While researching my mother's paternal issues, I came across census information that her mother and  stepfather were living in Reno in 1940. Her stepfather, Leo, was listed as a mining company official; her mother was listed as a bookkeeper. Her stepfather's income was only $600, a very small amount even for those days, and her mother Edna's income was reported as zero.

This was interesting for Leo and Edna had owned and operated an apparently successful auto court and filling station in Willits, CA, for years, but they sold it in 1939. I had known about the filling station and auto court from an early age because my mother had told me about it. But I had never heard anything about a mine in Nevada.

My impression is that Leo had sold the auto court to buy into the mine.

He was listed as secretary-treasurer which indicated to me that he had an ownership stake, but I didn't know what mine, or any other details about the operation. Or even if there was an operation. Something told me this may not have been a legitimate company, but I didn't know.

I don't remember quite how it happened but I came across information that the mine was called the Jungo Mine and it was some distance outside Jungo, NV. There was another mine in or near Jungo, a very famous mine, the Jumbo Mine, and even in my research, it was easy to confuse the two. The Jumbo Mine had produced quite a lot of gold, but I could find nothing except advertisements about the Jungo Mine. They were mostly from 1940. And they seemed to deliberately confuse Jungo and Jumbo.

The ads offered penny shares in the Jungo Mine, and in one of them, a man is mentioned who was probably my mother's stepfather. He took prospective investors on tours. Leo seemed to have quite a gift for dealing with people.

The Jungo Mine seems to disappear after about 1940. In 1941, my mother's mother became ill with the cancer that would kill her. She and Leo moved back to California where Leo found work as a machinist at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. Either they didn't have enough money for Edna's cancer treatment or they chose Christian Science treatment for other reasons, but Edna's condition rapidly worsened.

She died in Vallejo in October of 1941. She was only 52. Leo stayed at the shipyard throughout the War and died of heart failure in 1945 at 65.

My mother never forgave him for Edna's death, though I'm not convinced that there was much that could be done in those days by medicine or religion.

But I'd never known about the mining venture in Nevada. It gives me a much fuller picture of who Leo was.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

On Mortality -- Have I Lived Too Long Already?

I've found out quite a lot about my relations and ancestors over the last couple of years, one thing being that I don't descend from a particularly long-lived line. Not at all.

Some examples:

Sister (b. Apr 1933- d. Jan 1993) (59)
Brother (b. Aug 1935- d. Oct 1972) (32)
Mother (b. Nov 1911- d. Feb 1987) (75)
Father (b. Jul 1901- d. Jan 1969) (67)

Maternal Grandfather (b. Sep 1878- d. Dec 1916) (38)
Maternal Grandmother (b. Jul 1889- d. Oct 1941) (52)

Paternal Grandfather (b. Apr 1869- d. Sep 1941) (72)
Paternal Grandmother (b. Sep 1875- d. Jan 1940) (64)

Average age at death for this group: 57 (point) something.

Lots of aunts and uncles died relatively young (one in infancy, others at 14, 40, 54, 62, 64, 69.)

One aunt lived to age 90, so there is that.

When I was young, I was convinced I wouldn't live past 30; strangely, when I reached 30 and was still going strong, I thought Death was stalking me at every turn. Quite a few friends passed on in the '80s and '90s, so many that few of the people I was close to when I was younger are left alive today.

I'm quite a survivor compared to them.

Interestingly in the first group above, my mother is the longest lived, though not all that long-lived in
the overall sense. She suffered from emphysema after a lifetime of smoking, and she died from its complications.

My father died from an untreated melanoma. According to those who knew him at the end, he had lost interest in living and refused to have the cancer treated when it might have made a difference.

He was younger at his death than I am now.

My sister died of an embolism after knee surgery following injury at the prison where she worked. She was knocked to the floor and smashed both knees against a table-leg during a prisoner take down, injuries requiring the surgery from which she wouldn't recover. She suffered from lupus for the last 20 years or so of her life, and she was sometimes in extreme pain because of it. She was 59 when she died.

I'm not sure what my brother's cause of death was. But I've learned enough about his condition to understand that he was in pretty bad shape physically for most of his short life. He couldn't stand or walk on his own until he was nine or ten years old, and he likely suffered from seizures and paralysis for most if not all of his life. I suspect that's what ultimately led to his death. He was 32.

My mother's father was killed in a rail-yard incident when he was 38.

Her mother died of stomach cancer -- which wasn't treated or wasn't treated properly -- when she was 52.

My father's parents both died of heart failure. His father at age 72 (pretty good, eh?). His mother at age 64.

This is not a record of long life among my immediate relatives, and I'm now actually older than all of them except my mother and paternal grandfather.

So. Have I lived too long already?

I'm not completely incapacitated (yay!) but I see so many things I wanted or intended to accomplish that I probably will never be able to do. It's dispiriting to say the least. Ms. Ché is concerned for fear that I might become paralyzed myself. That seems unlikely as long as this RA condition is controlled, but you never know.

I haven't heard anything from the specialist I'm being assigned to by my family practice physician. The medications I'm taking (diclophenac 50mg and prednisone 20mg) are partially effective against pain and inflammation. I take diclophenac twice a day, and it seems to be between 0% and 15% effective (down from 70-80% effective initially.) When the pain becomes too much -- like it wakes me from a sound sleep or comes on suddenly in several joints -- I take one prednisone tablet which can be effecrive for 24 to 36 hours if I'm lucky. The prescribed dosage is three a day, but I'm told not to take it for more than five days running,  I'm limiting my intake as much as I can consistent with being relatively pain free most of the time. In fact, it's just 24 hours since I took a prednisone, and the pain is coming back in  my hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders -- and soon, knees.

So I'll take another one to control the pain and contact my doctor next week to see whether I'm taking too much.

As for having lived too long already... I may bring that up too....

[Note: I worked on this post for almost a week. It's become more and more difficult for me to sit and type for any length of time.]

Sunday, April 3, 2016

RA -- So what is this thing anyway?

It's morning on the third of April, and I've been up for a couple of hours now. I woke up in pain, mostly hands, wrists and shoulders, but overall I was very stiff and could not move easily. It had been just about 12 hours since I took anti-inflammatory medication which is supposed to control the pain, though sometimes it doesn't. I thought this morning might be a bad one.

I managed to get through the first part of my morning routine  slowly and carefully, adapting my motions to whatever triggered more pain, and then I had to sit still for a while. I took more anti-inflammatory medication, right on schedule, and that helped lower the amount and duration of pain, but it took 20 minutes or so to begin to be effective.

Then it was time for a cup of coffee, reheating some from last night. I could barely hold the cup. Barely pour the coffee. This after waiting for the anti-inflammatory medication to work --  which it was doing though I was still stiff, still in pain.

Gradually, the stiffness dissipated and the pain lessened sufficiently for me to start typing.

This is pretty much my routine every morning. The mornings are the worst.

They say that the anti-bodies are released in quantity -- and attack the joints, muscles and organs -- while one is sleeping, and that is the reason why mornings can be so difficult for people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar auto-immune conditions.

It can take hours, sometimes all day, to get past the initial problems of just getting up in the morning.

The medication I take is partially effective in controlling the pain and inflammation. I rate it on a percentage basis, 10%-70%. Its effectiveness varies throughout the day and night. Sometimes relief is almost complete, other times it seems like the medication isn't working at all. I am never entirely free of pain. One wrong move, and I get a sharp reminder in my finger, wrist, arm, shoulder that I have a condition and must adapt my movements to that condition, or pay a heavy price in pain for moving the wrong way or too far in the right way.

That means every action has to be thought through in advance.

And I'm learning how many things I can't do anymore or can only do with great difficulty. Opening a can, lifting a 5 gallon water bottle, putting on a long-sleeve shirt, tying shoes, brushing teeth... the list goes on.

Learning, yes. Appreciating what I still can do, too.

I look out the window, and the sky is still blue, the birds still sing, and my heart can and does still soar with joy.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

RA update

Not really. We're still in the early stages of figuring out what to do about this apparently permanent and debilitating condition. My primary care physician is assigning me to a rheumatologist for treatment. Interim care essentially is limited to prescription anti-inflammatory medications which come with some fairly alarming potential side effects -- increased risk of heart attack and stroke among other things -- and at least at times, they don't much work anyway.

At least there's this: so far actual joint damage is minimal, and treatment will aim to keep it that way. There's no cure, any more than there's a cure for Ms Ché's diabetes, but maintenance over the long term and prevention of further damage become the primary objectives.

Meanwhile, one learns to live with it.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I'm coming to grips with an impending diagnosis of early stage rheumatoid arthritis as soon as my doctor gets around to coordinating and evaluating the avalanche of test results that have come in this week.

It's hard to state coherently how much pain I've been in for the last several months, but it has periodically been severe and debilitating. Joint pain. It began with two episodes of general joint pain -- involving practically every joint -- last summer, pain which did not respond to pain relievers -- aspirin and naproxen -- that I had been taking. My doctor recommended that I try ibuprofen, which I did, and sure enough, it seemed to help. On recommendation by a relative, I tried turmeric curcumin which also seemed to help.

After the second episode of general joint pain, the problem became one of a pattern of periodic joint pain that would center in one set of joints after another. Ibuprofen continued to control the pain until mid January of this year when the inflammation and pain seemed to concentrate in my hands and wrists and the pain was nearly constant no matter how much ibuprofen I took. I was up to as much as 2400 mg per day, and still would wake up in the middle of the night needing more.

I'd stiffen up during the night so much it would take hours for me to unstiffen enough in the mornings to even brush my teeth.

Finally the pain became so bad and so constant that I tried an old left-over prescription of Tylenol and codeine that I'd gotten years ago for back spasms. I hated taking it then, and I didn't want to now, but something had to be done. It controlled the pain long enough for me to get some sleep, so that was good. The side effects were still unpleasant, though, and I didn't want to rely on it for pain control.

So it was time to see the doctor again. After hearing what I had to say about what had been going on, the doctor ordered a raft of blood tests, x-rays, and suggested this was probably an auto-immune issue, not osteoarthritis that is caused by degeneration of joints.

She also prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac -- which I'd never heard of -- which she said I must not take with ibuprofen. In fact she said over 800 mg a day was ineffective anyway. Oh, well. I beg to differ, but that's another issue for another day.

The anti-inflammatory helped right away. I'd s say the pain in my hands and wrists was 60% controlled almost immediately, and by the second day of taking it, the pain was almost gone for most of the day, though there was still a good deal of stiffness and swelling.

Then the test  results started coming in. At first they were ambiguous, suggestive of an auto-immune issue, but not clearly pinpointing it.

Then results came in that confirmed a  diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis with an possible other autoimmune component on top of mild osteoarthritis.

Understanding what it is is taking me a while. My sister had lupus for the last 20 years of her life, and I really never knew what it was. She was periodically in intense pain, but she seemed to be getting along reasonably well at other times. Medication helped, and after the first few episodes, the pain seemed to diminish though it kept coming back.

My doctor tested for lupus, and that's the other autoimmune component that appears to be confirmed.

I'm noticing that the anti-inflammatory's effectiveness appears to be diminishing. From 60% control, it's down to about 40% and overnight stiffness and pain seems to be returning in force.

I'm not the world's best patient, so this is going to be an interesting time.

I'll try not to be too self-pitying!

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Some time back I posted an opinion that this year's presidential election may turn into something like 1964's blowout for Lyndon Johnson. The 1964 election was bizarre in part because of the circumstances -- coming off the assassination of President Kennedy only a year before, perhaps the most traumatic single event in the nation's 20th century history; and the selection of arch-conservative Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater as the Republican standard-bearer.

LBJ was roundly criticized and despised in the aftermath of the assassination (some suspected him of having a role in it.) He was satirized unrelentingly, demonized, and held in wide contempt by Democrats and Republicans alike. His election to the presidency was by no means foregone. He had "acquired" the Presidency by misfortune, and it was not his office by electoral incumbency.

The near-certainty that LBJ would be elected president in 1964 came after the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater. By today's standards, Goldwater was a "moderate" but in those days he was seen as a radical, borderline crazy, and deeply, fundamentally dangerous to the future the nation and the world.

The nation wasn't ready for anyone like Goldwater in the White House with his finger on The Button.

LBJ has a mixed legacy: Civil Rights for the disincluded, Medicare and other Great Society programs are to his credit; the appalling war in Vietnam which he expanded exponentially, and the uprisings in the inner cities and on college campuses nationwide, not so much.

Ultimately, LBJ chose not to run for a second term and Nixon was elected in 1968 (after several more traumatic assassinations and a police riot at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago) only to be forced out of office in turn in 1973 upon discovery and disclosure of his many high crimes and misdemeanors that would have led to his impeachment if he hadn't resigned.

Presidential politics has been a roller coaster ride ever since.

More and ever more, the Presidency has become the public face of a shadowy Neolibcon control apparatus, keeping the masses entertained and tame while wrack and ruin, plunder and destruction, rape and rapine are loosed around the world.

More and more the public's say in who shall sit in the Big Chair is reduced to irrelevance.

Comes now a likely contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the prize -- the Big Chair, the Throne, the White House -- in November. Neither has been officially nominated yet, but the signs and portents strongly suggest that they will ultimately be the contenders.

If so, Hillary wins in a landslide, no? Of course, many are trying to make it not so, through various stratagems to Stop Trump. But they seem to be failing monumentally. On the other hand, a suspicion has arisen that the Trump candidacy is a ratfuck.

Oh. My. Goodness. Could it be? Yes, it could.

Whether it is, I don't know. But the signs are interesting.

Who actually is behind this ratfuck, if it is a ratfuck, is something of a mystery, but supposedly, the Clintons and the Trumps are best buds, and supposedly, Trump is doing this to enhance Hillary's likelihood of electoral success -- also to cripple the Republican Party for a good long time, a "revenge ratfuck" you might say.

Perhaps those who control the world are  simply fed up with the Republicans and their chronic tomfoolery. Who knows.

Trouble is, there are at least some signs that Trump could beat Hillary in a head-to-head (though I doubt it.)

Now that would be something. If it were to happen somehow, I suspect the election results would be invalidated by strategy (one that's being tested now through voter suppression and other means), and who can say where that would lead.

Uncharted waters yet again.

Ain't politics grand?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


During the last couple of years, I've done a fair amount of genealogical research and I've posted some of my findings under the tag: "Who Are These People?"

I thought I knew plenty about my ancestors, but I found out I didn't know much at all. This was especially true about my mother's ancestors -- particularly on her father's side -- but I found I didn't know much about my father's side, either. At least not as much as I thought I did.

One of the enduring mysteries on my father's side had to do with Ohio. In family mythology, Ohio was named as a stopping point on my paternal ancestors' journey to Iowa where I was born and my father was born and where his father was born. My father's grandfather and all but one of his grandfather's siblings, however, were born in Ireland. That wasn't the story I was told, as I was told very little, but it was the story in the records I found. There was a surprising amount of information about my ancestors available online.

The records indicated that my father's paternal ancestors emigrated from Ireland in 1850 or thereabouts. It's not entirely clear where in Ireland they emigrated from -- some possibilities include Counties Tipperary and Offaly (called King's County prior to Irish independence from British rule.)  I choose to think my ancestors' Irish home-place was in County Offaly because that was the historic seat of the family clan dating back into the dimmest mists of time. Tipperary borders Offaly, so it's certainly possible that the ancestral origin was in County Tipperary as I'd been told by my father, but he never mentioned a specific location within Tipperary.

The records indicate that by July of 1850, part of the family was living in or near Springfield, Ohio. The missing part is my father's grandfather James. James's father Alexander, mother Mary, brother and sister in law Charles and Anna, and sisters Mary and Sarah are all there, but James is not, nor is his brother John. This suggests to me that they had not left Ireland yet.

They don't show up in the record until the 1856 Iowa state census.

1856 is actually an earlier date for their arrival in Iowa than I had previously thought. The stories I'd heard and read said they'd arrived in Iowa in 1857 or 1858. Yet here they were in Pleasant Valley, Scott County, Iowa, in 1856.

Something had happened to cause them to leave Ohio within six years of their arrival. It wasn't just my father's direct ancestors who left Ohio, either. Another branch of the family that had settled in the Piqua area of Ohio -- forty miles or so north and west of Springfield -- in the 1830s also left for Iowa at about the same time -- mid 1850s -- as my father's ancestors. The other branch settled in LeClaire, Iowa nearby my father's ancestors (LeClaire borders Pleasant Valley) and the records get confused from that point because both branches used many of the same given names, and of course they shared the same surname. Figuring out just who is who is a challenge I haven't yet mastered!

Meanwhile, the chief mystery remained: what happened in Ohio that made them leave en masse like they did?

There were no stories about it that I recall hearing.

The record is scant. There is only the 1850 census stating who among my ancestors was in Ohio and where they were and what kind of work they did -- and how long they'd been there and where they'd come from (a year or less, and Ireland). There was also a listing in the 1840 census for the head of the other branch of the family -- which showed him with a household of 60, most of whom were young men, none named. Was this a monastery? I don't think so. More likely, it was a canal-building crew of Irish immigrants. By 1850, his household was reduced to 15 and included a number of named Irish immigrants.

By 1856, all of them were in Iowa. Both branches of the family were in Scott County in neighboring townships, essentially on neighboring farms, but my father's great-grandfather Alexander was listed as a "farmer" while his brother and neighbor Edward (assumed relationship) is listed as a "contractor." In other words he assembled and supervised work crews for others. That's essentially what he'd been doing in Ohio as well. It's not entirely clear what Alexander and his family had been doing in Ohio, as the only indication is the 1850 listing of Alexander and his oldest son Charles as "laborers" in Springfield.

As I say, there were no family stories about the Ohio sojourn. All that was said was that it happened. And then they moved on to Iowa.

In a history of Scott County that included members of my father's family, it was noted that "opportunities were better" in Iowa -- compared to "more thickly settled" Ohio. I got to thinking about what that could mean in a historical sense.

Edward had been in Ohio in the Piqua area since the 1830s, probably arriving from Ireland in 1836 or 1838. The area had recently been "cleared" of Indians, though there were still some there, and if I understand correctly, Indians still live in the area, descended from those who didn't move west when the rest of their tribes were forced out under the various Removal acts.

Not only were there still Indians in the area, there were also free Blacks, brought to colonize the area from Virginia.

The leading citizen was named John Johnston, a Scots-Irish immigrant who was styled "Colonel" and who had been made Indian Agent for the region. He held many other positions as well. It is my understanding that he was a primary recruiter of immigrants from Ireland and elsewhere to the region around Piqua. My assumption is that Edward and Johnston were working together to recruit Irish immigrants and put them to work on projects -- land clearance, road construction, canal building and the like.

It's possible that Alexander's intention was to go to Piqua and join his brother when he emigrated to America, but he only got as far as Springfield. My suspicion is that he ran out of money, and given the tenor of the times, it's possible that what little money he was able to bring with him from Ireland was stolen.

By the 1850s anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment had reached fever pitch in much of the settled country. Ohio was no exception. There were many incidents of violence against Irish immigrants (and others) throughout the period of Know-Nothing political control of the state. Violence against the Irish included destruction of (Catholic) churches and other property and the robbery and murder of Irish settlers. It was an ugly time, and for the most part there was no recourse at law. The law, such as it was, favored the mob and their terror and violence against the Irish. Needless to say, the Irish were not the only victims, but they were most definitely preyed upon by the dominant white "real" Americans.

Something happened to my Irish-American ancestors during this period to convince them to move on to Iowa. I don't know what it was but it had to have been pretty awful, especially for Edward and his family. They'd been living and working in Ohio for decades.

One generally doesn't pull up stakes without a reason.

I believe the reason that drove my Irish ancestors to come to America was a desire for land -- something they -- as Catholics -- couldn't own in Ireland.

Alexander and his family had only been in Ohio for a few years, but it's my suspicion that they found that no matter how hard they worked and saved, they could not acquire land of their own because they never had enough money to buy it. They couldn't own land in Ireland, either, because the British had seized almost all of it and forbade Catholic ownership of what was left.

Why stay in Ohio where the land situation was similar -- or even more difficult -- and where routine violence against Irish immigrants went unpunished by the law?

There were homesteads available in Iowa for the claiming. Claim the land, improve it, live on it, and it was yours. No one could take it from you simply because you were... Irish.

And so they moved -- dozens of them -- to Iowa, where "opportunities were better" in a land "less thickly settled."

They acquired farms in Scott County -- in LeClaire, Pleasant Valley, McCausland, and Princeton. There may have been others I'm not aware of. I know that later they would also acquire farms in neighboring Clinton County. My uncle Vincent painted this scene of the Princeton farm when he was 11 years old (c. 1912):

The Princeton farm stayed in the family at least until my grandfather died in 1941.

Family members did not actively work the farms after about 1880 or so. They were either left fallow --- especially during the Depression -- or they were worked by tenants. But the land and ownership of the land were very important to members of my family even after their active farming lives ended.

Equally important -- if not more so -- was the law and government.

In my grandfather's generation, all the boys became lawyers. I thought that was also true of the boys in my father's generation, but I found out recently it was not so. In fact, my father was the only attorney in his generation. So far as I know, there are no attorneys in my generation, but some in the generations to follow have expressed an interest in the law.

The law became so important to members of my family, I believe, because the law did not protect them in Ireland -- just the opposite -- and they soon found it did not protect them in Ohio, either. Coming to America may have been the adventure of a lifetime, but it was not a solution to their problems.

My grandfather and his brothers formed a law partnership in about 1894 with branches in Davenport and Clinton, Iowa. It appears to have handled general law and -- importantly -- real estate law. My father became a partner in the firm founded by his father and uncles, and then -- after their deaths -- he was the sole owner and proprietor. And his focus, from that point on, was abstracts of title and real estate law.

Back to what might have happened in Ohio, I've been unable to find any evidence that my ancestors owned and worked their own land either in Springfield or in Piqua. As I say, there's not a whole lot of evidence that they were there at all, but there is some, and what there is indicates that Edward in Piqua assembled and supervised work crews for others as a contractor, and Alexander and his boys worked as laborers on others' properties in and around Springfield.

There is no indication that they owned their own property in Ohio.

In Iowa, on the other hand, there's quite a lot of evidence of my ancestors owning and working their own land in Scott and Clinton Counties at least until the 1880s.

According to one account I read, the "Famine Irish" refused to take up land for farming in Ohio, even though farmland was available at almost no charge in the Western Reserve.

This is somewhat hard to believe but it may be true.

Those of my Irish ancestors who arrived in Ohio in 1850 would -- I have little doubt -- be classified as "Famine Irish" even though, from what I've been able to find out about the famine situation in the central part of Ireland, they likely did not suffer from starvation or disease - or eviction for that matter.

The Third Earl of Rosse was the British lord of the region, and according to contemporary accounts, he was a great defender of the Irish and he assured that the Irish in his domain would not -- and did not -- starve. He was almost alone in his sense of responsibility for Irish welfare. But he did what he could.

The Irish left Lord Rosse's domain anyway.

It was a terrible time for Ireland, and the Great Famine will forever remain one of the (many) black marks on the British Empire.

Once in America, the Irish faced many hardships, most of which were the result of poverty. Most Irish arrived in the United States penniless or deep in debt to whomever had paid their fare out of Ireland.

Opportunities to make a living were scant, and there were multitudes of "real" Americans eager to exploit Irish poverty and naivté to enrich themselves. While some Irish, like my ancestors, came to America specifically for freedom from oppression and for land, others came for no other reason than to survive.

One history I read suggested that the Irish grossly exaggerated the discrimination they faced in America, and to the extent they faced any discrimination at all, it was their own fault.

Another history, specifically dealing with Irish immigrants to Ohio, also blamed them for their own problems and misery. The Irish were said to be "uncivilized," "ignorant," "dirty," "violent," and often drunken.  They were lazy, contentious, immoral, and illiterate. Their Catholic faith was little more than a superstition. On and on. Any sort of stereotype you can think of was being cited in a current history of Ohio to justify the mal-treatment of Irish immigrants in the 19th Century.

Apparently, to this day, Ohioans have little regard for Irish immigrants of long ago, especially not for the "Famine Irish."

And yet the Irish experience and memory of discrimination and mob violence against them is "exaggerated."


Apparently anti-Irish prejudice and Know-Nothing-ism was not as strong in Iowa as it had been in Ohio.

I've wondered why my Irish ancestors didn't press on to California and the Gold Country when they finally decided to leave Ohio. The Gold Rush was going full blast when Alexander and his family (my direct paternal ancestors) arrived from Ireland in 1850. Emigration to California was still under way when they left Ohio for Iowa in or about 1856. The lure of the Gold Rush must have been strong, and yet it wasn't strong enough to get them more than a few miles across the Mississippi River. What kept them in Iowa was the land.

The land situation in California was complicated by the unsettled condition of the numerous Spanish and Mexican land grants -- grants that were supposedly guaranteed to the grantees in perpetuity by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hildalgo ceding California and the rest of the Southwest to the United States. That isn't quite how it worked in practice, but that's what it was supposed to look like. So there wasn't really much land available for homesteading in California, and gold-finding was not what it was cracked up to be.

In Iowa, on the other hand, once the Indians were forced out, there was abundant land for the taking. Homesteading was possible, and if land had to be purchased, costs were apparently within reason.

Once they had land, my paternal ancestors could begin to build a future.

Apparently, too, the law in Iowa was on the side of the settlers, even if they were recent immigrants from Ireland.

There is also a German side to my paternal ancestry, but we'll not deal with that here.

My sense is that land was not available for my paternal Irish ancestors in Ohio, there was an increasing level of anti-Irish prejudice, discrimination and violence in Ohio, the law did not protect the Irish in Ohio, and Iowa beckoned.

The road from Springfield and Piqua, Ohio, to Scott County, Iowa, was a long one, but it was taken around 1856, and from that point on, the story of what happened to my ancestors in Ohio was forgotten-- or at least never spoken of --  much as the story of what happened in Ireland fell into the mists of time.

But whatever it was, what happened in Ohio helped make them who they were.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Is Nearly Here

Had a wonderful day in Santa Fe Monday enjoying the weather and three of the museums in Downtown Santa Fe I dearly love: The New Mexico Museum of Art; the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors; and the Museum of Contemporary Native Art.

Santa Fe (or "Fanta Se" as the City Different is sometimes known) can cause a lot of tittering among the cognoscenti -- I titter about it myself from time to time. It's also called "Adobe Disneyland" -- and for good reason. There is a certain artificiality about it, a certain belief that "what you see is what it was meant to be -- but it was never really like this, and it isn't really like this now." Not real.

It's a stage set for tourists. Even though it's not high season, and there's still a nip in the air (they say there might be snow by the end of the week) the tourists are assembling in their multitudes. Oh my yes. They come from all over. Yesterday, I encountered  tourists from the South, some from Germany, some from Japan.

They come from all over, they do.

Once there in Santa Fe some are enchanted, some complain. Well, the altitude (7,200 ft or so) affects people differently.

Ms Ché and I tend to take the Old Pecos Trail which leads to the Old Santa Fe Trail into town. The historic route. The road gets narrower and narrower the closer you get to the Plaza, but interestingly -- at least to me -- it doesn't go directly to the Plaza. Instead, it jogs on Water St. a sharp 90 degree turn, then another sharp turn on what's now Washington, and even then, where it ends at the corner of La Fonda Hotel, the trail is just off the Plaza. How supply trains maneuverered through that maze -- or even if they actually did -- I have no idea. I have a hard time imagining that a fully loaded supply wagon pulled by a team of mules, horses or oxen -- six, eight, or ten strong -- would even attempt it.

Many of the complaints of tourists today have to do with getting around and finding this or that attraction in Santa Fe -- once you find the city different itself. Or rather, its historic district. It's not exactly hidden, but it's not on the freeway, either, and the signs that seem to point you toward it aren't necessarily helpful. Unless you know your way around -- or have the patience of Job -- you're bound to get lost and frustrated, annoyed and even angry. I've seen it happen.

It must have been similar in the old days. Except in the Old Days, Santa Fe wasn't really a city at all. It was barely a settlement. There was  cluster of adobe buildings huddling around the Plaza and a big old adobe church -- the Parroquia -- a block off the Plaza, and that, pretty much, was "it." The rest of what constituted the town was a smattering of scattered farmsteads and haciendas extending north and south along the superlatively named Santa Fe River (which then and now was an intermittent creek.) At most, the area population amounted to a few hundred families, Hispano and Indio in several combinations. There were also a few Anglos from early times, but the demographics weren't like California's where the Anglos seemed many.

Santa Fe was more like a frontier garrison in the Old Days, with the Presidio dominating everything. A small remnant of said Presidio, grandly styled the "Palace of the Governors" remains across from the Plaza today. Although some of the building is "historic" -- ie: contains elements that were built in the 17th, 18th or 19th Centuries -- nearly all of it is a recreation. And the facade which greets tourists today and the portal under which the Indians sell their wares dates from 1913. It has not changed since 1913. When the Palace was being used for government and military affairs -- as opposed to being a museum -- the facade was regularly changed and the building was continually modified to suit whatever necessity or desire its proprietors envisioned. It was a living building. It hasn't been "alive" since it was re-skinned with a heavy beamed portal in 1913. And its mummification is one of Santa Fe's many peculiarities.

Josef Diaz, a curator of the History Museum, took us on a "backstage" tour of the Palace on Monday-- actually it was "on stage," and he was explaining how the set would change over the next few years. I've been to the Palace many times, but I saw rooms Monday that I've never seen before. I also saw rooms lit by natural light that had always been dim and shrouded in darkness in the past. One of the persistent frustrations of Palace exhibits is that they were so dimly lit, you could barely make out what was on display.

Now some rooms have been opened to daylight for the first time in decades, and Josef said that many more rooms will be. So. That's good. I'm all for it.

He also said that many of the current exhibits in the Palace will be removed and allowed to "rest." Some of them have been on display for 20 years or more and they are deteriorating. Others, he seemed to think, don't belong in the Palace, and they will move to the History Museum behind it. Or they duplicate what's already at the History Museum and they'll be retired. What they want to do with the Palace is focus less on New Mexico history per se and more on the actual history of the building itself -- particularly its period as governors' offices and residence -- and its role in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680-92. Well, now, there's an idea, I thought.

During the Pueblo Revolt, I've read, the Palace -- or rather the Presidio of which the Palace was a corner -- was transformed and rebuilt into typical pueblo housing  and at least one kiva was built in the Plaza. There may have been other kivas in the Presidio courtyard as well.

After the return of the Spanish, the Indian pueblo aspects were removed and the Presidio/Palace was restored to what it had been -- more or less -- before the Revolt, much as the churches that had been destroyed during the Revolt were re-built more or less like they had been prior to the Indian uprising. But exactly what the Indians had done to modify the Presidio and Palace was never entirely clear -- though there is a good deal of evidence of it remaining -- and there was very little on display in the Palace that made sense of that period at all.

Josef said that the plan was to turn over an entire room to the Revolt, and to open up many of the floors and cover them with glass that could be walked on so that the buried elements -- both Spanish and Indian -- can be seen more fully and clearly.

That's good, too. I'm all for it.

It will take years to change the Palace set, and then to populate it with holographic actors might take even longer. Yes, holograms are in the offing, and I'm not entirely sure it's a good idea. Governor Armijo is supposed to offer his holographic greetings in a room off the main entrance to Palace, and Governor Prince and his wife might have their holographic discussion in another restored residential room. This Governor Prince I don't know, so I asked Josef "What about Lew Wallace?" He seemed momentarily startled: "Didn't I mention him? Oh yes, we'll have an extensive display on him. There's a problem getting artifacts from his tenure as New Mexico governor, as they are in other museums or private collections and arranging a long-term loan can be problematical." I said, "Well, wouldn't he make a good holographic subject?" Indeed. Indeed he would -- thus obviating the need for many artifacts it seems to me.

Other things that Josef pointed out would be changed over time are that the Segesser hide paintings would be moved from a dark and narrow corridor to a building of their own which was previously used for storage. Murals that once graced the entrance hall would be restored and replaced and other murals in the building would be restored and better lit. The print shop would -- maybe -- be reconfigured (Tom Leach, Palace Press honcho, is not entirely convinced it's a good idea)  and the entire Palace would be lightened and brightened.

It all sounded great.

They only need $6 million and change to get it all done, and they have a million or so from the State to do the structural repairs. The rest gets to come from "us" -- the public, starting in 2018. OK. The amount of private wealth available in Santa Fe for these sorts of projects can be positively breathtaking.

At the Art Museum, curators took us through the current Alcove Show and the "Stage, Setting and Mood: Theatricality in the Visual Arts" exhibit that was prepared to go along with the (brief) exhibit of a Shakespeare First Folio. The First Folio/Stage exhibit was located in a room beyond the guitar exhibit, and the guitars were the main draw once people learned they were there. The Art Museum had publicized the First Folio extensively, but not the guitars. So when people arrived to see the Folio and had to go through a really extraordinary display of contemporary and historic guitars, including an air guitar, to get to the Folio, they stopped, stunned and intrigued. I bet half of those who arrived never got to the Folio at all, they were so captivated by the guitars.

It happened even on the tour I went on on Monday. The Folio was gone, but the guitars were still there, and about half those on the tour stopped and gawped. The curator for the "Stage, Setting and Mood" exhibit encouraged them to come join her in the next room -- they could appreciate the guitars on the way out. Well, that seemed to bring them into the "Stage" exhibit, but I could see some looking longingly out the archway into the other room.

The curator (didn't get her name -- was it Carmen Vendelin?) had selected works that demonstrated "theatricality" in painting, sculpture, and other media. Most of the items were from the Museum's own collections, and many of them I had seen before. There was no problem in seeing them again and appreciating them this time for their theatricality. But there was one standout work I had not seen before, a painting by William Jacob Hays from the 1860s of a huge buffalo herd on the move that was lent from Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. As the herd rumbles toward the viewer, one of the animals appears to stop to consider the skull of a long departed buffalo on the ground before it. The moment is compelling, almost otherworldly, and that is one reason why the painting was selected for this show.

Theatrical? Positively Shakespearian!

The Alcove Shows have been a feature at the New Mexico Museum of Art since its opening in 1917. A handful of artists are offered alcoves off the entrance to the Museum proper to exhibit their works for a week. Works in all genres and media are acceptable. The emphasis is on New Mexico artists -- of which there is an inexhaustible supply -- and the frequent rotation of artists and their works is energizing. We saw works by Scott Anderson, Gloria Graham, Scott Greene, Herbert Lotz, and Bonnie Lynch. Media varied from ceramics, to photography, to paintings and mixed media. Whether one "liked" the work or not was beside the point. The point was exposure to it and to its varied point of view. I found myself intrigued by everything shown at this Alcove Show.

Ms Ché and I have long been participants and patrons in the arts, and now that Ms Ché is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, our participation and patronage seems to be growing. One of the reasons we live in New Mexico in our dotage is the pervasiveness of art and the presence of so many artists, galleries and museums to showcase the work.

It's a never-ending wonder.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


While the Bernie folks are not giving up -- and they shouldn't -- it's looking more and more like the presidential contest will come down to Hillary on the one side and Trump on the other. Who ya gonna choose, huh?

How sane is the American electorate?

We might even see another Daisy Ad that is never aired but everyone knows and talks about.

I wasn't old enough to vote in 1964, but I was very aware of the presidential campaign that year. You couldn't very well miss it. The nation had been on an emotional and political roller coaster since the assassination of President Kennedy in November of 1963; that singular but by no means unprecedented event had changed everything. The assassination was such a shattering event that it was almost as if the earth's spin axis had been reversed.

The elevation of Lyndon Johnson to the presidency was widely met with contempt and derision -- he was considered a bumpkin at best, a corrupt and dangerous  good ol' boy, and he was considered a stone racist not much better than the big-bellied sheriffs keeping the Negroes down throughout the South.

We forget from this distance how disliked Johnson was in those days, a dislike that crossed political party lines.

Came then, however, the Republican nominee for president, an Arizona senator, one Barry Goldwater, a dyed in the wool conservative-reactionary. My god in heaven.

Goldwater was far more polished than the Arizona senator who ran for president recently -- "Gramps" McCain. He was erudite, calm, with a well developed ideology that had elements of appeal even to some of the more rigid progressives and liberals of the era. His book, "Conscience of a Conservative", had sold millions of copies and was something of a bible to true believers. Goldwater was a known quantity. His intransigence in the Senate on behalf of the conservative-reactionary cause was legendary.

Johnson, too, was a known quantity, and while he might have been widely disliked, Goldwater was feared. Saber-ratting was only the half of it. Goldwater wanted to end the progressive-liberal era in American politics once and for all and restore what he and his partisans saw as the "correct" and constitutional relationship between government and the people. Which meant, then and now, a government that served the interests of the wealthy and powerful and ignored the interests of the people most of the time.

Goldwater -- like many conservative-reactionaries today -- called that "freedom" and "liberty." For whom, though? And to do what?

I've written previously and fairly extensively on how progressivism originated as the Republican response to Democratic populism which was sweeping the country in the late 1800s. While Republicans originated progressivism as a means to stop the spread of populism, the ideas of the Progressive Movement were widely adopted by Democrats by the mid-teens of the twentieth century. Progressivism became the standard governmental operating system under FDR, and there was no looking back.

Well, that is, until Reagan. But we're not there yet. We're still in 1964, and that means that progressivism was still the standard governmental operating system. And Barry Goldwater wanted to dismantle it and substitute... what? What went before? Cronyism? Benign neglect? Wild-west shootouts? What? It was never entirely clear what Goldwater wanted to do, but whatever it was, it would mean harm to many millions of Americans, who -- according to conservative-reactionary thinking -- could just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps the way Goldwater's people had done in the long-before.

By contrast, Johnson was a progressive with a strong Southern populist aura. He may have been considered a bumpkin, but he was a bumpkin in the mold of FDR, and that was familiar and comfortable to many Americans. They may not have liked him, but that didn't matter so much as a kind of continuity that Johnson represented, continuity that was deeply important following the trauma of the assassination.

Those were different times, of course. The present era is not much like it, but many of the same political dynamics are at work.

The continuity candidate is Hillary. Bernie is not likely to win the nomination, but if he did, he would be seen as a wild card to be "stopped." Trump, however, against Hillary is the wild card, darned near a mad man. The likeliest outcome in that contest is a landslide victory for Hillary -- not because anybody likes her, though some do. Not because they think she's the best of the best or what have you. Not even because she's a woman -- though that matters.

It's because she's not crazy and she has shown no inclination to overturn the entire governing apparatus to suit her proclivities the way Trump has.

So is this going to be a replay of 1964? In some ways, I think so, yes. It's not an exact parallel because times and conditions are so much different. President Hillary will not be likely to have a Democratic majority in either house of Congress (yes, I predict the Rs keep the senate, though their margin will be cut). LBJ had an overwhelming Democratic majority -- and so he was able to do practically anything he wanted.

Yet he was undone in the end. Two factors contributed to his undoing: the unending war in Vietnam -- which he expanded exponentially at the behest of his generals -- and the Civil Rights Act which
essentially split the Democratic Party irreparably leading to the eventual triumph of the conservative-reactionaries who hold the reins of power to this day.

Hillary won't mess with that power relation much, anymore than Obama would. Thus continuity.

But what will come of continuity may not be what anyone anticipates.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Well Now, Here's A Thing

I cruise the  real estate listings now and again to get an idea of what "Luxury Properties" -- as well as more mundane places -- are going for in our area of New Mexico these days. We bought our place at the height of the real estate bubble after all. The crash hit New Mexico hard and things have a long way to go before there can be a recovery.

Meanwhile, the swells, the High and the Mighty, seem to have done right well for themselves here and everywhere. The luxury properties that are features of Santa Fe Living, Santa Fe Style, have mostly held their value, and many have increased substantially in value. Those who have the money to spend on these places for the most part have much more disposable income now than they had before the crash, so prices increase. Meanwhile the rest of creation wallows in increasing poverty.

Same as it ever was? Well, maybe not.

While going through some of the listings today I came upon this:

What is this you might well ask. Well, here's the listing. See for yourself.

As we wander through the convolutions of the electoral primary wars, Our Betters are preparing.

I'm told that some of the High and Mighty in Santa Fe and environs have been spending enormous sums to equip their own compounds with similar facilities -- "for when it all goes to shit." Wouldn't be surprised. Of course we don't know any of those people, so when it comes -- whatever "it" might be -- we'll have essentially nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

Actually, back when we bought this place, out in the middle of nowhere, ten years ago now, friends in California said, "Oh, so you got a place to escape to when it all goes to shit, eh?" They were only half joking.

Monday, February 15, 2016

OT: He Died of a Pulmonary Embolism

Saturday, I received a copy of my brother's death certificate from the authorities in Iowa. The same authorities say they can't locate a copy of his birth certificate, which is interesting. It's possible none was filed. On the other hand, it's possible he was born somewhere other than where I thought, and the search turned up nothing because of my error in locating his place of birth. Of course the authorities in Iowa could also just be Iowa Stubborn. (Boy-o-boy, do I know the ground truth of that trenchant observation of Meredith Wilson's about Iowans and the way they are.)

At any rate, despite the errors and typos on the cert -- it's shocking how badly some of it is mangled -- I now know what my brother died of -- pulmonary embolus it's called, a blood clot in the major artery of the lungs, stopping the flow of blood to the heart and brain, killing him within minutes if not sooner.

Same thing my sister died of.

I should say they were not blood relations with one another. My sister had a different father; my brother had a different mother. But I am blood relation to both. It was never particularly difficult to sort this out in my own mind, but trying to explain it to others -- especially in the straight laced '50s when I was growing up -- could be difficult. Multiple marriages were not common in those days, you see.

At any rate, I considered both my half-sister and my half-brother to be my sister and my brother without further qualification, though as it happens, I did not personally know my brother at all (never having met him), whereas I knew my sister very well indeed.

I thought I knew enough about my brother though. I'm finding I didn't, not really, and now with a fuller picture of his passing and after learning more about his relatively brief life, how much I didn't know and don't know is becoming much clearer.

For example, I didn't previously know that his mother died the day of his birth. I thought she lived for a while -- days or weeks -- after he was born (not sure where I got that idea, though), but his death certificate says he was born the same day I previously learned his mother had died. That must have been devastating to my father, and it helps explain why he never got over it. He was in mourning for my brother's mother for the rest of his life.

In some ways, I think he blamed my brother for her death.

Thirteen years later, I came along. I didn't realize that my birthday is within three days of my brother's --- and the day of his mother's death. My mother told me that she -- my mother -- experienced a long and difficult labor with me, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that her labor started on or about the date of my brother's birth and his mother's death. I can imagine the period surrounding my birth was gut-wrenching for my father. Would history repeat? Would it rhyme?

My brother was born severely challenged both physically and mentally. I didn't realized how severely he was challenged until late last year when I started corresponding with a cousin I previously had no knowledge of. She had letters that her mother had preserved, letters which mentioned my brother and his condition. It was not good.

For quite a while, and apparently at various periods, he could neither stand nor walk on his own; there were times when he apparently couldn't speak, other times when he would merely babble. He'd been described to me as an "idiot savant," which is to say that like some autistics, his mental development was stunted, but he had an astonishing memory for obscure statistics. From what I've read in those letters, though, I'm not sure that was true.

I had no idea at all that he was so severely physically challenged. No one told me. No one even hinted that he couldn't stand or walk on his own as late as the age of nine or ten. Both my mother and sister told me of their meeting with him when he was thirteen or fourteen, and their recollection was that he was pretty normal except for his learning disability.

I never met him. I recall being taken by my father one day to the house where he was living with friends of the family. The nice lady who answered the door said he was sleeping and she didn't want to wake him. When she found out who I was and why we were there, she suggested it might not be wise for him to see me as it could upset him greatly.

So. We never went back.

I knew that he lived with that family until they could no longer take care of him -- they were older than my father, after all -- but what happened to him after that I never really knew.

When my father died, I discussed my brother's whereabouts with his probate attorneys, but all I recalled was that he was in a "facility." He was being well cared for. I had nothing to worry about. I didn't know or rather recollect the name of the facility or where it was -- except that it was in Iowa somewhere -- and I assumed that it was a state hospital.

I've since learned I was wrong about that. So far as I know, he was never placed in a state hospital, and that is something of a relief, because I'd been told he was terrified of going to a state hospital. Apparently he had been taken to one as a potential patient-resident, and it did not go well. So he was not admitted.

Instead, it appears that after he left the care of these family friends, he was placed in a small nursing home  (which no longer exists) a few miles out of town. I don't know how long he was there or what his condition was while he was there. But in 1968 when my (our) father was ill with the cancer that would kill him, my brother was transferred from the nursing home out of town to a residential care facility run by the Sisters of St. Francis in town. He was there until early October, 1972, when his condition apparently deteriorated significantly and he was transferred to the University Hospital in Iowa City where he died on the 27th of October -- of a pulmonary embolism.

As far as I know, he didn't have surgery prior to his death -- which my sister did, and a blood clot following surgery was what caused her death. Given what I have learned about his physical challenges, I suspect my brother was transferred to the hospital in Iowa City when his physical problems became too difficult for the sisters to handle.  He may have had seizures. I suspect he became paralyzed. The ultimate result was the blood clot that killed him.

I sensed he died in 1972, but I have no recollection of being told of his passing. Perhaps I was contacted by someone... but I have no memory of whom it might have been, or even if it ever happened. Finding out that he did die in 1972 and where and how is still surprising.

And I do mourn this one. The loss of my brother is hitting home to me all these years later. I wish there was something I could have done, but what could I have done? I don't know, and that's part of the loss I feel.

So, now I know more...