Angle Outpost Resort Celebrates 60 Years

From its very foundations, family has been central to Angle Outpost resort. Through four sets of owners, 17 children have been (or are being) raised there, beginning with Harold and Irene Peterson’s five.

Peterson’s Camp was formed as a hunting and fishing outpost in 1957. That was in the pre-electricity days of the Northwest Angle, before there was much for indoor plumbing or even a road to get there. Raising a family and running a resort in those hardworking times took fortitude. “Money was pretty scarce and I ‘worked out’ eight hours a day,” Harold said of the early times, his faded yet still musical Norwegian accent catching on the hard consonants. Continue reading “Angle Outpost Resort Celebrates 60 Years”

Life after drinking

Last week I was filling out a new patient health questionnaire, giving details on my exercise level, water intake, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco use, when, for the first time ever, I marked the None box beside alcohol.

None!

I used to lie on those questionnaires, downplaying.

It’s been one year. One dramatically different, altogether quiet and peaceful year. A month into sobriety, I had a glass of wine at a fancy dinner. It seemed like the thing to do, but it didn’t taste good and I felt like a fraud, drinking only to fit in. I ended up leaving it. In hindsight, I can see that dinner was a turning point, just as checking the None box was another. They are clicks, switches, personal proofs I relish encountering from time to time to remind me that I am done.

In my 20’s, I used to say that I was suspicious of anyone who didn’t drink, as if they were lacking and abnormal.

I spent my 30’s in a whirling social life, part glamorous, part bohemian, all indulgent, with alcohol as the frosting on a crumbling cake. A friend’s words ring in my ears to this day: “We love Kellie; we just don’t love drunk Kellie.” I was the girl who was too drunk to drive home at most parties. I would reliably show up with champagne at any Saturday morning event. I could have a blast doing anything so long as cocktails were involved. And of course, they always were.

Column 53 - Champagne
Eight years ago, I was very good at opening and pouring champagne. 

Booze is so ingrained in our way of life that I’m inclined to become something of a conspiracy theorist: i.e., this great numbing of the masses is one of the many tools meant to keep us as distant as possible from our birthright – the Peace that Passeth Understanding. It should be a universal wisdom allowing our release from suffering, our enlightenment from the dark grasp of the ego, our salvation from a hell we wrought and wrangled ourselves.

Many years ago, author and spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer said something that rocked me to the core…his own teacher had helped him to understand that so long as he was drinking (he had a one-beer-a-day habit) he would not be able to reach his spiritual goals. Heaven on earth wasn’t possible. Enlightenment was out of reach. Even from just one beer a day.

Such was the power of the almighty drink. Such is our propensity to create false gods.

Drug and alcohol addiction have a nasty stigma in our culture, as well they should, being life-destroyers and all. But in terms of spirituality, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, addiction is addiction is addiction. Sugar, shopping, success, sex, social media, etc., …it’s all a paltry replacement in our sadly human attempt to fill the void left gaping and raw from denying our connection to God.

Drinking just happened to be the one I needed to address first.

I was lucky. I had a drinking partner who loved me, loved Us. We quit together, even while we were apart and drowning. Once we had rebirthed our commitment and moved back in together, it was easy to put Us first. Socially here at The Angle, there was almost nothing we did without a drink in hand or imbibing heavily beforehand. So we quit all that too.

I’ve struggled here in this isolated place having zero friends that I see consistently. But, I was a selfish friend anyway. I was a lousy employee, a mess-making daughter, a neglectful sister, a whining writer, and even a bad mom.

But as the sober weeks wore on, each one easier than the last, life started to change. It became slower, sweeter and infinitely more satisfying. I don’t fear missing out as I used to and I don’t feel left-out, though we often were in the beginning.

My intuition is back. My patience – once I got through the physical and emotional detox – has increased. My desire to create is more purposeful and much more determined.

My skin and hair are healthier. My vision is sharper. My reflexes are keen and dependable. My struggle with extra weight is ever-present, but it’s now about making Tony’s favorite pasta and Iris’ favorite granola bars, rather than about consuming a thousand calories from a bottle on a barstool.

I hadn’t known how to love, how to give, how to listen, how to be still as I do now. The emotional ups and downs still come, but they are manageable because I’m aware instead of numb. Guilt, self-hatred and death used to plague my thoughts. No longer.

The first time I reached to join hands with my little family around the dinner table, it felt terribly awkward. I didn’t know how to pray so I looked them in the eyes and said quietly, “I love my family.”

That’s what not-drinking has become for me. I love my family, I love my man, and I’m starting to love myself enough to want what God wants for me.

I know it’s important to bless my past. I even bless the booze. I’m grateful for the journey. After all, it brought me here.

Here to this place where not drinking is normal, where the love of my nuclear family is just the beginning, where Check boxes help define how far I’ve come.

Life after drinking is worth the challenge of change. Life after drinking is finally living.

 

(Column 53 – Published in the March 14 Warroad Pioneer)

On Corporal Punishment

(Column 50 – published in the Feb 14th Warroad Pioneer)

Life is heavy at times. Like the weight of the rain on top of our snow base, thickening a crust that can hold the fox and a four-year old but not the sharp-hooved deer and a Muck-booted mama.

I have emerged from my self-imposed social hibernation with short trips here and there. Sledding, skating, fishing. A weekend Kenora visit along the winding ice road.

We even scheduled a date, as many couples do, leaving the little human with the grandparents for an evening. It was pleasant to sit quietly over dinner, talking only with the man I choose to love about topics that make us smile. There was no struggle to find non-phone distractions keeping a new four year-old occupied and in her seat.

At The Angle and near-abouts, we allow her the freedom to roam and visit with strangers. Social interaction is a commodity in this lonely road’s-end home, but she is unafraid and inquisitive, and people are beautiful and interesting. Her forming sense of identity is still innocent enough to readily share what she knows of herself with them. It is a gift she can give truly, sincerely.

I hope she will always give.

So many of us go so far away from that as we age. What we call life seems mostly about “getting” and “keeping.”  Me. Mine. My family’s. My country’s. The more successful we are in “getting,” the more revered we think we are. The more “getting” we achieve, through whatever means, the more justified we feel in labeling those who have more barriers to “getting” as lazy and freeloaders. Some who are born “having” are granted the elevation the rest of us earn through hard work. They, in their unearned “wisdom,” are boosted by the people whose heads they stand on, and they climb more quickly because they started further up where the rungs are closer together.  It is comforting to put our salvation in their hands, yet it is hard to see from way down here that their hands are, in fact, NOT held open to those below them. No, their hands are white-knuckled around each rung as onward, upward they climb to see what else they can “get.”

It is understandable how we came to be this way – this selfish putting-first of everything pertaining to me and mine, this closed-eye faith in those who did a better job of “getting” and “keeping” than we. In a word: fear. I wrote in my last column that fear, in and of itself, is very simple. Just as darkness is the absence of light, fear is the absence of love.

Simple in definition, perhaps, but complex in its manifestations. As a parent, I hold many fears about my child’s future. So much seems beyond my control. In reality, what matters most is completely within my power to transform.

Most fear is taught. Studies have shown that 90% of all parents inflict physical pain as a way to teach right behavior from wrong. Fear certainly serves a useful purpose in keeping us safe from lions and tigers and bears for example, but in the case of corporal punishment, our moral decisions are then built on the fear of physical pain. As we grow, it is natural for us to go into self-protection mode when anything uncomfortable confronts us.

Me. Mine. Protect.

From the minutest example of a parent spanking a child to the grandest scale of a dictator’s deadly regime, fear of physical pain is a biological weapon used to enforce obedience.

Unquestioning subservience over time becomes blind glorification of the ties that bind.

As a result, there are billions of child-adults who logically choose Me/Mine over what is morally right. We run away from perceived fear instead of walking towards it shining our lights to examine its nothingness.  We hold close what we believe won’t hurt us. We make enemies out of the slightest possibility of pain.

Me. Mine. Get. Keep. Push. Punish. Protect. Disconnect. Demonize.

Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad would never have struck a child, no matter what the crime. Why do we think it’s okay that we parent in a manner different from how God loves us? God doesn’t isolate us in time-outs either.

My Bible study group argued once that God in fact does punish us BECAUSE he loves us, and that is supposedly what parents spanking their children is all about. I disagree with every ounce of my being. We may perceive the consequences of our wrong actions as punishment, but the two are very different things. Consequences are natural, organic. They are our mistakes correcting themselves, our free will teaching us to be still and listen to the voice of God.

Punishment is the hell humans put each other through when we’ve stopped listening to God.

Yes, I have spanked and slapped hands in my ill-formed, ever-evolving parenting approach, but it was certainly not out of love. No punishment is born of love. Punishment is the result of plain and simple fear that the child will become the manifestation of the behavior we have judged as wrong. Spanking a child for failing to pick up toys is about our fear of them becoming irresponsible and slovenly, but more importantly, it’s about our fear of losing totalitarian control in our home, in our lives. “She didn’t listen to me, so I punished her” actually means “I am afraid of not being fully in control of what I consider ‘mine’ and of perceived disrespect towards that which I consider “me.”

So, yes, it is understandable, but it’s not OK. Spanking gets results in the short term, but I’m not raising my child short term. “I was spanked, and I turned out okay,” I might say, defensively. But did I really? Look at all the fears I hold, desperately, tightly, as if they were my Beloved.

In the game of Love – and make no mistake, that is the only game there is – none of it makes any sense. We have grown to physical adulthood and yet our spiritual maturity has been left in the smiling eyes of the four year-olds we once were.

Give, said Jesus.

Give mercy, said Mohammad.

First, practice generosity, said the Buddha.

That is the way to freedom.

Freedom is what I want, and it’s what I want for my child. Spankings and punishment become stillness and connection. Me and Mine becomes Us and Ours. Man-made borders become ribbons connecting the beauty of humanity.

We walk awkwardly through the snow. Her chatter balances my silence. I give.

Life is the crashing through the crust time and time again and yet crawling on. Because that is how I grow. That is how I gather strength and endurance for the tests ahead. For the toppling of the ladder. For forgiveness of the head-steppers. For unclenching their fear-filled fists so that we may join hands. As children would.

Through the Eyes of a 12-Year Old

 

(Column 47 – Published in the January 3rd Warroad Pioneer)

We had all joined hands in a huge family circle before our Christmas dinner, waiting for the last few to straggle in from the various parts of the house. When almost everyone had found a place in the circle, my younger brother Ward stopped the show holding up a piece of paper.

“Ellie wrote this story for school,” he said. “And this would be the perfect time to share it.”

Ellie is his wife’s 12-year old daughter and we welcomed them both as part of our family well before the wedding took place. Ward walked across the big circle. “She’s too embarrassed to read it, but here…,” he handed it to Kristal, our oldest sibling. Kristal is always good at on-the-spottedness.

She found her new reading glasses and within the first paragraph, Ellie, through Kristal, had most of us in tears.

We laughed and we cried, and at the end of this young girls’ story, we all held hands a little bit tighter before letting go for applause and whooping hollers of appreciation. My dad’s voice cracked as he said the blessing and looked around the circle at all of us. “You have no idea how much this means,” he said quietly, referring to the family as he held up both of his linked hands. “Just wait until you get older.” A single tear slipped down.

“You mean like Tony?” Ward guffawed. Everyone laughed.  Several more wise cracks floated through the sentimental wrinkles of our tough facades. But for everyone standing in that circle, and for the few on opposite sides of the country who couldn’t make it, nothing means more to us than this great big and growing-bigger family.

Here is Ellie’s story. It touched my heart to hear about our family’s celebration through her young eyes and tender position. It is one small but hugely important perspective of the amazing big-family experience I’ve been blessed with my whole life. And my dad is right; it only gets more precious as the years go by.

I’ve left her story as it was originally written, without correcting one word or punctuation mark. It comes from where she’s at in the world and it’s exactly perfect as is. Enjoy. And Happy New Year!

The Knight’s Christmas

(By Ellie Sabourin, Age 12)

Every other year the whole Knight family gathers at Grandma Linda’s and Grandpa Bill’s HUGE log cabin, named “The Big House.”  The house looks like those beautiful log houses you see in the magazines. It doesn’t sound like much, but when your grandparents had 8 children, all of them are married, and they all have about 3 children, and not to mention the half dozen dogs that try to eat every scrap that hits the floor. We should have our own movie, like the Griswold’s. Just imagine the chaos and excitement in that house, and the amount of cookies baked.

Since Grandpa has a band, we have a party and the whole Northwest Angle (population 150) comes. It’s so much fun! The Knight Lighters play until 3 in the morning while us kids get thrown into the snowbank by Casy, or for entertainment we put Iris’s Barbie on a remote control snowmobile. Other memorable activities include the 12 days of Christmas puppet theater. We each got to design our homemade sock puppet character with a cartoon singing voice. We also enjoy racing up and down the driveway barefoot in the snow. I’m pretty sure we could be youtube stars.

Grandpa Bill added a swing inside the house hanging from a log beam and we push each other just high enough to touch the delicate and massive moose antler chandelier. One year we put out all the mattresses from the 23 beds into the great room and it was like a trampoline park. When we are all worn out from countless games and running non stop Auntie Kellie spoils us with a big screen projected movie and Grampa’s amazing popcorn with just the right amount of butter (about 2 sticks) and salt.

All the women and girls enjoy baking in the kitchen around the island handbuilt by Grampa. Our family is so big we have a calendar that tells us whose turn it is to cook. We all get a turn to make a mess and taste test our creations. My favorite is the ice cream that Layla and I made from snow. I also enjoy decorating sugar cookies with Oma and Auntie Kristal except the little boys eat them faster than we bake them.

Last year in particular was one of my favorites. We had a expedition to get Grandma a real Christmas tree to add to the 6 artificial ones. Here’s the challenge….we had to get 22 children round up, dressed up and loaded up into sleds and snowmobiles. Talk about being squished like sardines into sleds! Plus the tree had to come back with us, after much disagreement on choosing the perfect tree. As children were dozing off in the snow we finally agreed to disagree on the perfect tree, did a headcount and headed off back home. Every little kid on the way back were saying “my hands are cold, i have to pee, don’t touch me, are we there yet?” A 45 minute deal turns into an 2 hour deal.

Then Nolan, Layla and I went snowmobiling with a sled. It was freedom from the little kids and a opportunity to start a new game. We called it Whiplash were one crazy driving cousin pulls someone on the sled behind them whipping them off the sled into the field. The person with the least amount of falls win. After all that pain we are rewarded with delicious hot chocolate.

Another favorite activity is we got to make gingerbread houses with Auntie Kristal who bought every kind of candy in the world. Most candies were eaten before houses were assembled. The most talked about and debated tradition would have to be the girls against boys ice fishing competition. We spend the whole day on the ice. One year the boys cheated when someone in a nearby fish house offered the boys there extra fish. Of course they added that to their total, winning by 1 fish or something like that. But details don’t matter and we all had a great time.

I can’t wait for this upcoming Christmas. No matter what we do, we always have fun because we are together. With all the chaos and excitement you are never bored! I love being a grandchild in the Knight family even if I have to wait in line to use a bathroom (there’s 3).

 

For Goodness’ Sake

 

(Column 46 Published in the December 27th Warroad Pioneer’s Special Holiday Issue)

As I wrap Christmas presents for my child, I’m taken back to memories of opening them. My first thoughts are what it must have been like for my mom, scrimping and saving and hand-making leg warmers and hats and mittens to ensure all eight of us kids had a present to open, many presents some years.

The Christmas that stands out gift-wise is when I was somewhere around eight. I unwrapped a telescope and a microscope. Maybe they were even given on different years; it all blends together so tastily in memory soup now.

The telescope and microscope were toys, but not to me back then. The moon was closer. The fruit fly was larger.

I was suddenly wiser.

I set up a Question and Answer booth in my bedroom doorway. My younger siblings would come ask me questions and, looking in my microscope, I would discern the answer.

The telescope was better at examining tall-tree leaves than it was at looking at the galaxies, so my wisdom spread to the whole out of doors as well.

I was in charge. In control.

Science was now mine.

And I charged my brothers and sisters a pretty Monopoly penny for my wisdom.

We did the whole Santa thing this year, for goodness’ sake. She’s three, and she sorta gets it. We wrote a letter. She asked for a trumpet.

Growing up, we didn’t have the luxury of believing in Santa. The church said Halloween and Santa were Wrong Bad Evil, so I have no memories of Trick or Treating or Santa Claus as a young child.

The debate whether or not to allow the magic for Iris was a real one. I had never believed, so now I felt as though I would be lying. I wonder if parents who did believe in Santa find this step easier, find it’s not actually a lie but a gift, perhaps, that they’re nurturing in and for their children.

I love the spirit of giving and I love the sweet stories of Santa’s magic. But I don’t want to lie to my one and only child. Yes, she’ll have a trumpet from Santa under the tree, and we’ll also search out an opportunity to give something away in Santa’s name so she can be part of the magic that way as well.

For the sake of goodness, I need another telescope and a microscope into all of this parenting business. I need a Question and Answer booth to come to, to lay down my colored money and gain wisdom in return. I need a whole lot more than an Amazon Prime membership.

But maybe Santa already knows what I need.

Maybe I just need to believe.

 

 

 

A Family Portrait (Part 2)

Published Dec 6 in the Warroad Pioneer – Column 43~*~

A group of men walked through the front door.  “WHO is that?” I thought to myself. He had dark hair and was of medium build, and though there were four of them, all good looking in their own right, I saw only him.

It was my parents’ annual Christmas dance and potluck dinner, and I had designated myself the greeter and coat taker. Home for the holidays meant two weeks off from a meeting-heavy, computer-centric job, an hour-long commute each way, and the beautiful chaos of Seattle’s 4-million-strong greater metropolitan area.

These Minnesota men in their heavy winter boots, snowmobile jackets, and two-day old whiskers carrying their own cooler of beer were like a Copenhagen-laced breath of Real winter air.

I walked up to Tony, held out my hand and said, “Hi. I’m Kellie.”

I don’t remember his touch or his introduction or even how we started talking, but I do remember finding my way back to his side throughout the evening. I asked him several times to dance, but he declined, and I settled for conversation and mixed drinks.

His group stayed late and we talked into the small hours about everything and nothing. A day later, he called my parents’ home and asked me out on a date – ice fishing. He picked me up on a snowmobile, a fast one, and I pretended I wasn’t scared when we reached illegal speeds of nearly 80 MPH. It wasn’t my first time ice-fishing by any means, but it was the first time fishing with a man who wasn’t my brother. I don’t recall anything we talked about, but I do distinctly remember the many comfortable silences.

And I remember catching fish! And him cleaning them right there and cooking us an early dinner on the ice.

I would find many reasons to come back home over the next 20 months, and each time he showed me more unknown facets of The Angle. I’d been visiting my grandparents and their quaint Prothero’s Post Resort all my life, but that tiny west end with the creeks, the inlet, the school and the church were all I knew.

Tony showed me a completely new side of this place: its lifestyle of harsh survival, hard-work and crazy, good-time adventures, so many new people, the island resorts and bars, Canadian fishing, snowmobiling beyond the inlet and Bear River, not to mention the quiet beauty of a wilderness that beckoned to my very soul.

Ten months in and still dating 1,700-miles long-distance, I proposed to him in the boat as he drove me northward on Lake of the Woods one perfect September afternoon. He had found me a fully off-grid cabin on its own island for a week-long just-me solitude retreat. “Let’s get married,” I said above the noise of the outboard. “Right NOW?” he asked, looking aghast. I jumped up and put my arms around his neck. “Yeah! Let’s spend the rest of our lives doing our damnedest to make each other happy.” He laughed and squeezed me in a one-armed hug. Nothing more was ever said about it.

After 21 months, neither of us could take the distance anymore. He drove to Seattle and moved me home. We didn’t have a place of our own or even any direction or a plan. But we wanted to be together.

We were both heavy drinkers then, and that made for trouble and ridiculous fun at the same time. While we were drinking, choosing sobriety seemed like an impossible task.

So we stopped.

And each day from then on, we choose to not drink.

And eventually, it became an easy change once we finally realized that’s what it would take if we wanted any chance at a future for Us, for our little family. We’d separated for over ten months in 2015, both dating other people and doing our best to move on. But the feelings didn’t fade, and when it mattered, he fought to save Us.

For me, something just clicked. I realized I’d never fully committed, never fully chosen him, never elevated him and Us above my needs.

High on the clear-headedness of sobriety for the first time in a long, long time, it became so pleasantly easy to put our love and our family first. But for the drinking, he already knew how to do that.  And now, he shows me how to love in a million tiny ways every day.

We’re in our forties. We’re unmarried and are still renters – basically failing at two societal measures of success that drive my ego crazy. But, if it matters and when the time is right, it will happen as it’s supposed to. The worries that used to plague me and result in the shaming pressure I would put on him have dropped away.

The fears of being judged in this tiny community have turned into a forgiving acceptance that people will judge based on who they are, not who we are.

Tony doesn’t seem to have worries or fears like that, and every day he teaches me patient devotion to What Is. Despite his scorn of non-motorized boats, he knows exactly how to float merrily down the stream. He let go of the tiller a long time ago. I’m the one who always steers right into the rapids.

Sometimes, even though I know this life IS but a dream, I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to loosen my hold on the attachments my ego has created. The dream has become beautiful and comfortable, and who knew I could have so much fun sober?

But going back to sleep isn’t really an option once you’ve started the process of waking up. And all those attachments my ego desperately grasps are what will pull me under when the boat capsizes in the rapids I choose to ride.

But there will be Tony, throwing me a lifeline from the shallows. Smiling. Cherishing my efforts. And calling me Beautiful, as he has every single day since that first one.

“WHO is that?” I asked once. Now I know.

And that is how Tony was born to our family.

“I’m not racist,but…” I Am

Column 40 Published in the November 8 Warroad Pioneer

We had buried my grandpa earlier in the day and though many of us were emotionally spent, we gathered for living-room conversation of light-hearted fare, marriage, babies, the future.

An old family friend and self-made pastor was commanding the floor in his well-intended, often over-bearing comedic way. With my pregnant cousin and her hubby at the center of it, he steered the conversation from jokes about baby names to having all your babies with the same father to “those women down in the Cities who have 14 children with 14 different men” – his words.

Normally I would find a quick exit at that point. Words such as those collide with all my spinal sensory nerves, make my root chakra wince and then I flee.

But grief does funny things to filters, to nerves, to practiced patterns.

The speaker didn’t falter. “I’m not racist,” he continued loudly to the group, “buuuut…” and then, muting his voice with his hand he said glibly out of the corner of his mouth, “…but they’re almost always black.”

Without raising my voice, I quipped, “Anyone who says “I’m not racist, but…’ is most decidedly racist.” This got a laugh from my sister, who nodded her agreement. The pastor hadn’t heard me, nor, in my cowardice, had I intended him to.

He continued his tiresome schtick, but the group had quietly divided its attention. My uncle sitting near me turned and said in an exasperated tone, “I’d like to see ONE person who’s NOT racist.” We were still speaking quietly at the outskirts of the small circle, lounged comfortably on my grandpa’s worn living room furniture. Everything quickly got very uncomfortable.

It was one of those moments I wish I had practiced for; the kind that afterwards I would relive again and again, perfecting the response in my mind.

Before I could spit something out, he turned even more directly to me and asked, “What? You’re not racist?”

Though my first instinct was to blurt a vehement “No!”, I stuttered for a second, processing thoughts of all the current events and the volatile national conversation on race.

I stopped myself from a simple denial.

Absolute truth seemed infinitely more important in that moment than simply defending my moral character.

When words came, there was no righteous strength behind them. “I know I have been guilty of it,” I said slowly, cautiously. “I mean, I’m sure I’ve done things…but, I don’t think I’m better than anyone.”

My uncle turned back to face the group but he nodded to show that he was listening.

“I don’t think I’m better than anyone because of their ethnicity,” I continued quietly, “or because of where they come from.

“And I don’t think I’m better than anyone because of their sexual preference.”

I added that last part hastily after realizing that several other family members were listening, specifically one who had taken to Facebook referencing scripture in an argument against homosexuality and against marriage equality. (Note – this was all taking place in late fall of 2014, about a year after Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize gay marriage.)

In my typical passive-aggressive way of responding, I had quickly unfriended her. Now, this little verbal jab felt like vindication for having spent so much energy confused about who Christians purport to be and my perceptions of their intolerance for the very people to whom Jesus would have ministered.

The not-racist exchange ended there, and I got up pretending to be concerned about what my toddler was doing elsewhere in the house. In the moment, it had felt egotistically good to finally speak a small piece, but there was no feeling of glee or gloat, just an overwhelming sadness that compounded succinctly with the existing grief.

The thing is, these are not “bad” people, the not-racist pastor nor my extended family. They are hard-working, lower-middle class, Bible-believing people who try to lead good lives and are simply a product of their environment, just like me and just like everyone else.

Perceiving their ignorance only strengthens my own. I must forgive and I must ask for forgiveness.

But, I cannot and will not align myself with the likes of their beliefs, the limitations of their religion, nor their political candidates.

A recent funny but telling social media meme goes, “Another way to look at an election is to see who the Nazi’s and Klansmen support, and then maybe look elsewhere.”

Seriously.

November 8th, the day this paper comes out, is my 41st birthday. November 8th marks eight short month of non-drinking for Tony and me. And, November 8th will tell us if a misogynist or a feminist will take the oval office. Yep, it’ll be a big day in my house.

I grew up telling anyone who would listen that I want to be the first woman president of the United States. At the very least, I’m hoping I get to vote for one.

Back to the not-racist pastor, our old family friend … last week, in a subtly-threatening public post written directly to me on a NW Angle non-profit organization’s Facebook page, he called himself a “representative of God” said he had to love his friends’ kids, and told me I needed to get some help. On a photo of a quilt-raffle, no less.

When my flee impulse resided, I had to laugh. What else can you do?

It was the most bizarre outreach I’ve ever encountered. From a man who used to tease and tug on my baby blonde curls, sing funny songs and make me feel so special. Tony, ever the wise diplomat, said simply, “ignore him.” My decision, which clearly proves why I could never get elected to anything, is to write about it in the paper.

I don’t call myself a Christian, but I do learn from the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Dear one, you interpret your Bible and I’ll interpret mine. You vote your beliefs and I’ll vote mine. We are no different, you and I. We both cling to the beliefs of fear, because that is all beliefs are. Every belief, right down to the big one about a God that exists and resides outside of ourselves, takes us further from being Truth Realized and achieving Christ-consciousness.

Clearly, your Jesus would never send messages over a private email server.

And my Jesus? Well, he would never assault women and call names, build walls and deport immigrants, defraud students and mock POWs, make fun of the handicapped and make money owning casinos and strip joints. Jesus wouldn’t sleep with the wives of other men let alone brag it, and he wouldn’t cheat on his wife. In fact, he might stand beside his spouse through a very public, very difficult time of moral failings, not unlike a certain woman candidate who did just that and for which she is now harshly judged.

There are many more comparisons, but the election is over. My breath is wasted.

You don’t believe you’re racist and you do believe you are a representative of God.

I don’t believe I’m not racist. I don’t believe anything. Or at least I’m getting there.

I just Am.