Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let's Play...Founding Mothers

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

I haven't had a really good pet peeve for ten years. Maybe twenty. It's been a long time since I've let myself get full-scale annoyed by other people. Mostly, I just bumble along, getting annoyed with myself. But lately, that old annoyance is creeping back.

List of current pet peeves:
1) The rampant, free-flowing use of the term Founding Father.

OK. I guess I have only one pet peeve to date.

And before we go any further, don't get me wrong. I have been graciously hosted by the Father of Bluegrass Music in North Dakota. I've had my picture taken next to Mister Shelterbelt of the Great Plains' tree. Though I've never met the Fathers of Perfumery, Canadian Rodeo, Modern Sabre Fencing, the Yellow School Bus, Fourth Generation Warfare, or the Compact Disc, the Internet assures me their contributions have bordered on the extreme.

Honestly though. No matter what I'm told, I've always been pretty sure that history was (and is) full of women. Still, do I know who my mothers are? Not very many.

So, in case you're as pet-peevish as I am, I'll invite you to play a short game. Founding Moms. The object: Guess who said what and when. Are you ready?

1. The rights of the individual should be the primary object of all governments.
A) Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939.
B) Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
C) Mercy Otis Warren in 1805.

2. How long shall the fair daughters of Africa be compelled to bury their minds and talents beneath a load of iron pots and kettles?
A) Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
B) W. E. B. DuBois in 1909.
C) Maria W. Stewart in 1831.

3. Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.
A) Paul Wellstone in 2000.
B) William Jennings Bryan in 1908.
C) Mary Elizabeth Lease in 1890.

4. Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.
A) Erik Erikson in 1969.
B) Jean Piaget in 1955.
C) Maria Montessori in 1949.

5. I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.
A) Barack Obama in 2008.
B) Gordon Brown in 2007.
C) Wilma Mankiller in 1993.

Doesn't it feel good to have some Moms?

I'll admit, Founding Parents isn't catchy. It's only true.

(P.S. Click on the Comments for little-known facts on these Founding Moms.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sarah Palin and Yours Truly

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

It all started when Kris declared, You should go as Sarah Palin for Halloween! Before this crucial moment, it never occurred to me that Sarah and I might have anything in common. But upon further investigation, I found...

Sarah Palin and I:
1) Are women with bangs.
2) Were both completely unknown as of August 29, 2008.
3) Can see a foreign country from within our home state.

Looking at this list, naturally I ask myself, Well, what do I have in common with Joe Biden? More than it may seem...

Joe and I:
1) Are not married to Elizabeth Edwards.
2) Are not married to Bill Clinton.
3) Have never been mistaken for Kathleen Sebelius.

So maybe I should go as Joe Biden...?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wisdom (Not My Own)

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

I used to be a wild-eyed collector. In 1978, when my family moved from Chenoa up to Bourbonnais, Illinois, my collections had to go with me. We carried my brother's effects (hardly any) to his brand-new room. With sweat dripping and muscles popping, we hauled my stuff (endlessly endless) to mine. Dad discovered my rock collection, in two giant boxes, hiding among the others marked Karen's Room. Long story short, he almost sent me back to Chenoa.

I don't collect rocks anymore, from other people's parking lots. Now I collect their wisdom. Here's a little I gathered this past month:

On the Empire Builder train out of Minot, North Dakota, I met a florist named Bonnie. Her advice...
Let the flowers speak to you.

On a stroll through the Illinois woods, my seven-year-old cousin turned to me, and she said...
I like snakes.

While visiting my dad, I did some research at the Kankakee Public Library. Shock of the world, I spotted an old heart-throb at the check-out counter. As the heart-throb said...
Time marches on.

In Chicago, my mom and I found ourselves at the Freedom Museum. Here, I first learned about America's founding mother, Mercy Otis Warren, who once said...
Every domestic enjoyment depends on the unimpaired possession of civil and religious liberty.
In other words, we're only free in the home when we're truly free in our country.

On the Empire Builder back from Chicago, I met a political scientist named Maggy. We talked and shared our souls from Chicago to Minneapolis (eight full hours). World-wise and shrewd, Maggy reminded me...
There's only one remedy for a jellyfish sting.