Monday, December 21, 2009


I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was wrapping Christmas presents in the family room downstairs in my home. The gift was a golf practice game for my husband. That's when the telephone call came that was to change my family's life forever. My Dad was in the emergency room at the hospital. Get there as soon as you can. My Dad? He's at a Christmas party with his co-workers. Mom went with him. And that's the last normal thing I knew. It wasn't the same after that.

Dad had collapsed while dancing a waltz at that Christmas party. He had finished a dance with Mom and one of the other women asked him to dance. I always liked to watch him dance. He was so graceful, and he loved to dance.

Dad had a massive heart attack and died that Christmas party night on the Winter Solstice, Dec.21,1979. I was 37 years old with a husband and three little girls. I needed my Dad and wasn't ready for him to fly off into the night, leaving us all bewildered below.

As I left the ER that night, on my way home to a new reality, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking of Shakespeare's Romero saying "And, when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. He will make the face of heaven so fair that all the world will fall in love with night and pay no heed to the garish sun."

Thr lessons I learned from him were many.He was always there for us.He worked harder then a man should have to work. He was proud, he loved Wyoming,and had the best sense of humor. He was comfortable around people and could shoot the shit with the best of them. One day I stopped to have lunch with Mom and Dad. I was stressed out over a job I had as a nurse. There was no job description and I had to develop it as I went. It was a big chance and a big challenge and needed constant interpretation to everyone. I was sick and tired of it and wanted to quit. As I talked to my parents about it, Dad said I should quit. He questioned the reasons the job was given to me, didn't they know it would be too hard? On the way back to work, I got mad. They were not going to beat me, I would show them I would do just fine, and I would do what I knew deep down I could do. Dad's reverse psychology really worked on me that day!

We just didn't have him long enough. There's lots I would like to talk to him about and tell him. I do that now, but his twinkling blue eyes are not looking at me, and his crazy faces are only a memory. I know life is a journey to death. He made his journey a legacy for us. I pray I can do half the job for my children that he did for us.

Good-night, Herm. Sleep well. Tomorrow is another dancing day, and you and Mom have the universe to waltz through. Don't stumble on the stars.

Pax Tecum

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


There are 450 Minutemen III missles deployed in the United States. That breaks down to 49 in Colorado, 82 in Nebraska and 19 in Wyoming all controlled from Warren AFB in Cheyenne.
There are 150 in North Dakota controlled from Minot AFB, ND. Finally there are 150 in Montana controlled from Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls

Each missle has one nuclear bomb on board. The size of the bomb is estimated to be between 12 and 18 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. They are on constant alert with bomb crews deployed in groups, which are assigned 10 bomb sites per launch control center.

Vigil at Nuclear Silo N8, August 15, 2009. The directions from Cheyenne: Go south on route 85 to Ault. Take route 14 east for about 35 miles to road 113, you can see the silo from the road.
East of I-25 in Colorado, it looks alot like Nebraska, rolling farm land with miles of corn and cows. The sky is very blue.

We, who are gathered here, pray today with all the world citizens that peace may be in every heart, in every home, in every nation.

I didn't think it would have the impact it did. A steel lid on a concrete pad with a fence around it, looked on by a camera and a satellite dish in the middle of Colorado farm country. Every bit as powerful as 20,000 people at the gates of Fort Benning. Why? It was the stillness that caught my attention. The air, the site, and very nearly my heart....all still. It was all over me. Comprehension of chaos evoked a sense of stillness to the extent I almost didn't breathe.

What was that? If you get the chance, visit a Silo up close. Chances are your reaction will be similar. The stillness is deafening.

Pax Tecum

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The dog days of summer. August is here. The road trip from Wyoming to New Mexico was relaxing and scenic and summer. The horizons smiled at us. Santa Fe was bustling and vibrant and fun. Lots of people and history and art.

We were on our way to Los Alamos, which has a history unto itself. Our focus was the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It has 13,000 employees and a yearly budget of 2.2 billion dollars. It's main purpose has always been the classified work for the design of nuclear weapons.

We, along with other Pax Christi members traveled from many states and countries to participate at a vigil to remember what happened from there 64 years ago. As we walked in silent, reflective, non-violent procession to be witnesses to that event, I thought it ironic we crossed a street called Oppenheimer Drive, named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, the first director of that famous Manhattan Project.

Los Alamos is high country, over 7,000 feet. It has breath-taking mountain scenery. Its canyons and mesas cry out beauty and peace. It is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Hundreds of PHD's do not come cheap. As I sat among others at the lab site, in silent prayer and reflection, my mind reached back and pulled 64 years ago close.

"The bomb exploded with a blinding flash in the sky...a great rush of air...a loud rumble of noise...a great cloud of dust and smoke...a pall of darkness...fires sprang immense fire store...." (from the U.S. Gov't report on Hiroshima)

Monday, August 6, 1945....Hiroshima, Japan
Thursday, August 9, 1945...Nagasaki, Japan

These are, to date, the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.

The victims: Two cities in Japan
The perpetrators: The United States of America

Killed: 140,000 people in Hiroshima
80,000 people in Nagasaki

One half of these deaths occurred on the days of the bombings. 15-20% died from injuries of the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition, and radiation sickness. Since then more have died from leukemia and cancers attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs.


Beautiful Los Alamos. Why am I crying??

Pax Tecum

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I just completed reading a remarkable book entitled "The Third Chapter...Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50" by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. She writes that the third chapter is a stage of life when the traditional norms, rules, and rituals of our careers seem less restrictive; a time to embrace new challenges and to search for a greater meaning in our lives.

This book spoke to me. Since my retirement 2 years ago I have been on a new path, that I haven't been able to articulate clearly, to myself or to others. For over 30 years I worked diligently in the public health sector being an advocate for people who had no power.
Along the way I was fortunate to be in the arena with some large social justice issues. I worked with the farm-workers in Central California, with immigrants fighting tuberculosis in Texas, and elderly people in Wyoming who had to choose between buying food and medications. I did what I could, along with working long hours and raising a family.

My life changed dramatically and quickly when I retired. All of a sudden I had the time and the passion to devote to direct action activities so near and dear my heart. With the support from my terrific family, I entered into justice issues, I had never had the time to explore before.

And I jumped in with both feet, energized by a passion too long ignored in a journey that led to this time in my life. I am no longer afraid of speaking out, or of standing up, or of questioning the powers that be. My place is to be in that march to make the world more just, more peaceful and more loving. There is a voice to my heart and it speaks louder every day.

And so I am arrested and imprisoned for my beliefs. What a gift that was! And I continue on. Know that in my writings I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to you. I wll write more of my journey, most recently a trip to New Mexico in recognition of the anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With joy I invite you to travel with me, but wear good shoes and carry some water. The trail can get bumpy and hot!

Pax Tecum

Monday, May 18, 2009


One year ago, on May 13th, Mom died. The year went quickly, as I knew it would, bringing us back to that pivotal day, that the world we had known with Mom in it, ended.

I knew in my heart that remembering her especially on that day would not be enough, so I branded the week that was, Mom's Mojo week. I wanted to honor the things that were important to her, and fun for her. And it turned out that her spirit was indeed along for the ride!

It started with Mother's Day on May 10th. I went to Mass and prayed, along with everyone else for my Mom and Moms everywhere. The impact they make on the lives of their children is priceless.

Then on to Tuesday. My sister, Judy and I, with the help of Jolyn (another sister) gathered up flowers and plants and made the trip to Buffalo. It's about two hours north of Casper. We visited her and Dad's grave-sites, and many other relatives resting in the Willow Grove Cemetery. We spent time walking in that beautiful, peaceful place among the trees and listened to the breeze as we looked to the Big Horn Mountains. It is a friendly place, and very familiar. The spirits of the history of our loved ones reside there, and they were happy we came. From there we visited relatives in the area, people who share our history and that we see all to seldom. Our bond of family lives in us all. From there we visited sites remembered in a long ago childhood, the library, now a museum, but still smelling of books read and listened to long ago. And our elementary school, where we began our journey to the outside world. It was a day treasured.

Wednesday was difficult. I worked in the afternoon but was distracted. I kept remembering the Feast of Our lady of Fatima a year ago, and how I had prayed for Mary to take Mom home on that day. It pained me to know she honored that wish.

Thursday, the early morning Mass was said for Mom. It was said in Mom's favorite Church, where she had attended most of her life, and the Church where her funeral Mass was conducted. And so we came full circle.

Friday came and it was time for fun. She loved to travel to Deadwood to gamble at the slots. Tom, Judy, and I went to Deadwood for the week-end and walked to all the places Mom had so much fun going to. It was a fun trip, and as we listened to the bells and the whistles and saw the lights flashing and heard the excited banter, I felt Mom's presence and heard her laugh and saw the twinkle in her eye. We did indeed inhale her mojo, and we all won little bits of money, and even found money on the floor, not one of us but all of us! How do you explain that?

And so that was the week that was. Gone but still here,never to be forgotten, loved forever, in my heart always!

Pax Tecum

Friday, April 3, 2009


This very hour, this very day one year ago, I was kissing my husband good-bye, fighting tears, and going through the steel doors of the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac near Seattle. It was one of the most traumatic moments of my life. Every thing was stripped from me. I got to keep my glasses, and that was it. But I did still have my body and my mind and my spirit. And I knew I had a choice. I could choose how I would live in that environment and I could choose what I wanted to learn and bring out of that experience.

What a difference a year makes. It's Spring again in Wyoming, with all the heavy wet snows and the budding trees and the tiny green leaves of daffodils waiting patiently for their blanket of whiteness to melt. And I get to look back and reflect on a year unlike any other.

Such joy and such sorrow and such growth. How could I know that when I said good-bye to my Mom sitting in her blue recliner that it would be the last time I would ever see her in her home? The day I was released from jail, she went into the hospital and died 13 days later. And how much joy was felt when almost a year later, my oldest daughter married her love.

But the growth has not been without the pain. I am not comfortable now. I question more, have less patience with the wrongs in the world and wonder, more then ever, where my place in all of it should be.

I continue to try and read the signs. I have a new job, working a few hours a week at a clinic for the homeless. I consider the clients fellow pilgrims, who add joy and hope to my world. I write to prisoners and gather books for them and try not to forget that one out of every 31 adults in this country is in jail. And I returned to Georgia last Fall to continue my commitment to close down the School of the Americas. And I was witness to six new people who came forth and non-violently stood up and challenged injustice. They are currently serving their time in prison.

I am optimistic about this country of ours. I feel that justice and peace are more possible now then ever, and I am confident that this economic crisis will improve. As my 67th birthday approaches, I thank the Spirit for allowing my journey to include a side trip behind those steel doors. There are all kinds of gifts. Who would know that one of the greatest gifts was given to me one year ago this very hour when the doors clanged shut, leaving me locked inside.

Pax Tecum

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yu Betta Belize It!

Winter always lasts too long under the blue sky of Wyoming. This January we decided to take a time out and leave the snow and wind and biting cold behind us. We drove to Denver, left our winter coats in the car, got on the plane and flew to Belize.

Why? Because it was warm, and was some place we had never been before. We were ready for a new adventure and Central America and the Caribbean called us to their warm shores and their laid back life-style. We didn't expect to fall in love, but Belize took us by surprise, and fall in love we did.

It inspired us to relax, invited us to explore, and exposed us to a gentle, kind people. We saw shapes, colors, and creatures near the hemisphere's largest barrier reef. We walked among prehistoric tree ferns and ancient religious plazas in Maya archaeological sites.
We saw birds, insects, cats, and critters in Belize's vast areas of forests.

We met many of the 290,000 Belizeans coming from a multitude of Creolized cultures. The English-speaking, affable citizens make things easy, its location to the United States makes it close, and its wealth of creative accommodations, and active list of tours makes it a natural place to visit.

It gave us a different perspective, took us to a different place and a different time in our lives.

My favorite place ? There were many. Certainly the wildlife boat trip on the New River to the Mayan temples at Lamanai , and the taxi boat rides to the neighboring Cayes basking in the bluest waters I have ever seen are among the high-lights. Of course down-town Belize City with the markets and the bustle and the easy going people with the sights and sounds, of the drumming on the city street corners, and the clothes hanging out to dry from porches, and windows and door-ways and the bright colors of the houses including purples and oranges and yellows and all shades of blue, but no dark colors, all filled my senses and delighted my being.

There was poverty. Lots of it. People living simply, but with an attitude of gratitude and sharing. It humbled me to be among them.

And so on this end of January day, with snow and wind and below freezing temps outside, I sit inside warmed not only by the fire in the fireplace,but by that inner Belizean glow that will substain me in the coldest of days.
Yu Betta Belize it!!!!!

Pax Tecum