“Public education is not broken.”–Diane Ravitch

I heard Diane Ravitch on WPR talking about public education. She is a research Professor of Education at New York University, she was an Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991-1993. I am very interested in the education of our children, so I read her most recent book book, Reign of Error , published in 2013. It is details what many nationally prominent educators got wrong in the 1990s into today. “Public education is not broken.”

She further states that the problem is: “Our urban schools are on trouble because of concentrated poverty and segregation”

What follows is a  delineation of her solutions:

-Pregnant women should see a doctor early in their pregnancies and have regular care and good nutrition.

-Children need pre-kindergarten classes that teach how to socialize, listen, learn and communicate well.

-Children in early elementary grades need teachers who set appropriate goals. They should learn to read, write, calculate, explore nature, and have plenty of time to sing, dance, draw, and giggle. Class size should be small.

-A balanced curriculum for upper elementary, middle and high school should include: reading, writing, match, sciences, literature, history, geography, a rich arts program,physical education every day.

-Staff for these schools should include: librarians, media specialists, nurse, psychologist, guidance counselors, social workers.

-After school program should be available.

-Teachers should write own tests while using standardized tests only for diagnostic purposes.

“Public education is a basic public responsibility. The future of our democracy depends on it.” –Diane Ravitch

I agree.


Rain, Rain Go Away

This spring we planted about two hundred acres of corn, then the rains came. They went away for a day, day and a half, not enough for the ground to dry out. We started using the childhood chant of “rain, rain go away, come again some other day”–it didn’t work. For almost three weeks the rain spigot was not turned off. It reminded us of 1974.

Then the rain stopped. The ground dried. And it became a dash to get the rest of the corn and soybeans planted. We did it with help from a brother-in-law, many thanks to him.

Then the rain didn’t come. And the ground continued to dry, creating a crust that the shoots might not break through. We waited, and waited. Finally, the rains came again.

We’re hoping that this isn’t a repeat of 1974–there was an early frost that year.

With farming, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.


Book Review–Low Tide by Dawn Lee McKenna

Nightmares of her rape had faded to the point where Lieutenant Maggie Redmond could control them. She never reported it, she never saw her attacker again. Until she was assigned to investigate his murder. What a dilemma!

If she takes herself off the case, she’ll have to report the rape, then she’ll become a person of interest in the case.

If she stays with the case, can she overcome her revulsion of the dead man to see that justice is done?

And as one dead body leads to another, those nightmares resurface.

Low Tide is a good read. Character and setting are wonderful. At the end, I needed to know the rest of the story. Riptide, the second book in the Forgotten Coast series, did not disappoint me.


breaks and other things

I’m working on revisions of my third Edie Swift novel. It isn’t going very smoothly–lots of distractions. This got me to thinking about what stops writers from writing.

Writer’s block: I’ve experienced it, but usually find that I don’t have enough information to continue the story, don’t have a clear view of where I’ve been or will be going with the story or the story idea is just plain stupid.

Silences: Experienced this lots of times, mainly because I’ve let other parts of my life come first–sometimes it has to. But all those interruptions add to what I want to say.

And days like today: the sun is shining, humidity levels are down, flowers are in bloom. Who can resist a day like today. I’ve advocated for “blue sky” days in addition to “snow days”(no one has taken me up on this) because we need to enjoy these wonderful times.

Hope your day is a joyous one.

Book Review: Life on the Loose by Cari Taylor-Carlson

Recently, when asked what type of books I like, the reply is “a good one.” But it is hard to pass up a good adventure story. I liked Life on the Loose by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

After college, Taylor-Carlson settled into a life expected of her: work in merchandising, marriage, family, a home. But what came next? She found it for herself–adventure.

She lived a life outdoors by offering guided tours into the wilderness through her company Venture West. Some of her tours were: Teton Pass to Driggs, Idaho, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, Green River, Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon.

She tells some good stories of the good and the bad of leading a bunch of “city folks” out of the concrete jungle and into the wilderness, even if that wilderness is in Switzerland.

Hope you have a chance to read it.

Knee High

Walked into one of the cornfields on July 4th, the corn was chest high–what a relief. The old rule of thumb is if corn is knee high by the fourth of July, you’ll get a crop. Great, a little less stress because the spring planting didn’t look so hot. But the crop isn’t made or out of the field. We have to worry about: late summer hail storms and wind, an early frost, a wet fall, an early snow. But one more milestone in growing a crop has been met.

As we drive around looking at crops, wheat fields are looking good. Which means we can expect some storms. Seems when the wheat is ready, the wind, rain, and hail come too.

But for now, we can enjoy these summer days and nights–enjoying the firefly displays. Hope you are enjoying summer.


Haven’t posted in a while, lots of stuff required my attention. Family, farm, politics, community work have filled this past year. And writing, just not here.

So what’s happened?

Family seems to be doing well.

Farming is always a worry. The harvest was delayed for a variety of reasons, but we did get it in before the snow flew(not always the case).

Politics…that should be enough said, but the refrain of “We the people” echoes throughout our history. We should not forget that this government is ours, not the other way around. We need to be involved, there is no one else to blame or praise.

But I have been writing. The second Edie Swift book, Darkness Endured, is out. The third Edie Swift book, untitled as of now, is in revisions–hope to have it out later this year.

Hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable summer ahead.

Writing isn’t done in a vacuum

Writing isn’t done in a vacuum, writers read other writers, are friends with other writers. So I get a good belly laugh when reviews from writers are taken off a book’s sale site–what are those monitors thinking? Are they thinking?

When I decided to write a crime/police procedural novel these are a few of the books a read to acquaint myself with current writing. Most of the books were first-in-a-series because I wanted to see how those authors started.

First Degree Fudge by Christine DeSmet

Ava Oosterling wanted out of Door County, Wis. Hollywood was the place she wanted to be. Now  she wants out of that shark tank. Her dream is to return home and open a fudge shop. But soon she is a suspect in a murder case. Did she bring the shark tank with her?


On the Road to Death’s Door by M.J. Williams

What does Emily Remington, retired police officer, do during retirement? See the country in an RV with her husband and solve crimes.

Bad Policy by James M. Jackson

Seamus McCree is greeted by homicide detectives when he returns home from a business trip. How does he know who murdered the guy in his basement? He was out of town. Well, he has to find out because he is the prime suspect.

Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

Riley Spartz, investigative reporter in the Twin Cities area, delves into two cold cases. Two women named Susan, murdered exactly a year apart. Will it happen again? She tracks down the killer while filing reports on current stories, dealing with office politics, and the death of her husband.

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin.

Henry II of England asks the King of Sicily for aid. Some one is killing children in England, and the Jews are being blamed.

Vesuvius Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, aka Adelia, aka Dr. Trolula, is sent. But she needs to keep her identity as a doctor hidden or be accused of being a witch.

All good books to read. Gave me some ideas on how to begin a series. Hope you find one you enjoy among this list.

Spring Planting

For being optimists, farmers worry a whole bunch: is it too early to plant, will there be a freeze, will the crops survive an early freeze, is the ground too dry, is it too wet, when will it stop raining, when will it start raining, why haven’t they delivered the seed, why haven’t they delivered the fertilizer, what the hell is the market reacting to…it goes on until the crops have been harvested and sold. Then comes the new year, and the worries start all over again.

There was a freeze in mid-May, about the time we can expect the last freeze of spring. Here is what a corn plant looks like with frost damage. Notice the brown edge on the leaf.


The next photo is of corn plants just emerging. This is the first time we farmers give a sigh of relief, the seed is growing.



The next photo usually brings the next sigh of relief, it looks like a green haze over the field. A miracle, the crop is really growing.


From here until the harvest is complete, we will be walking the fields to monitor the progress of the crops. Why all this work? We enjoy the work…mostly.

Second Edie Swift novel on its way

I thought I had all the kinks worked out with the first book, but a few new ones popped up. And I worked through them, and added to my list of what to do in getting the next Edie Swift book ready for publication. I find it thrilling that Darkness Endured, the second book in my Edie Swift series, is almost ready to be published.

Detective Edie Swift is cleared for duty. Her docs say that she’s recovered from the near fatal beating of last fall. Is she mentally ready to take on underbelly of society?

When a murder victim is found in Troutbeck, Edie believes she is ready for the challenge of police work.

Below is a photo of the cover. Hope you enjoy this work.