The Unexpected Blessing of James Meinhardt

Jim Meinhardt has a presence. He comes into a room abruptly, carriage high, and mouth smiling.  Built like a Clydesdale, Jim is six feet tall and a rock-solid two hundred ten, so when he plants his feet, he is nigh on immoveable. He radiates a particular kind of energy that is amplified by definitive life. Jim is retired Air Force, and has 24  years of flying  monstrous cargo planes all over the world. A devout Christian, Jim now flies passenger jets for United and grows peppers for his church garden.

Jim and I had met years ago through a friend, and I had kept up with him on social media largely because of his politically active family. I would shoot him particularly exciting skydiver videos, or political items.  He and his family would comment on the politics of the day, often with great hilarity.

On a lark,  last month I sent him an invitation to ski, as I knew he favored Vail. (You know that two of my girls are ski instructors there now, and the employee buddy passes are the only reason I set a boot on that pricey slope.)

I was delighted when Jim accepted my invitation, and made plans to meet him one sunny day at Vail. What followed was a remarkable day skiing with a peer. (You folks know my children are expert skiers. A lifetime ago, Chris and I planned to give each child ten years of ski instruction, the goal therein being that they’d always be able to ski, together, anything on the mountain. Goal achieved, it’s hilarious to watch them bomb down slopes as adults.)

One by one each child’s skiing ability outstripped mine.  Somewhere around year eight, Rachael, my last child, eclipsed me. Now when we ski, it’s the children who wait for me with good grace, rather than the other way around.

The girls started their day, and Jim and I started ours.  We flew down after run, made plan after plan, and ended with a late lunch at the top of the gondola. Jim and I were nearly equally matched, which was a rare pleasure for me.

The next day, Jim bravely plunged into the scattered, driven world of Victoria. When Chris died, I acquired  several jobs.  I became Dad, Mom, household manager, preschool director, real estate developer, property manager, care provider for old folks, and all around shepherd to important people around me. I’m equipped for only a few of these. The rest, I simply do the best I can with the tools around me. Leadership like this can be wearisome.

I had several things on the agenda for that Sunday, and forgot to include Jim in nearly all of them. No matter, Jim was a good sport of the highest order. I was late for a meeting, and rushed out of the house without offering the man breakfast.  He made it himself. We needed chairs for the game day party, Jim lugged and carried what we had.

Finally, we were to go to church to get Dad for the day. I walked with Jim to the sanctuary, and we sat, listening to the sermon. It was time to pray, and Jim took my hands. The prayer was long, and I sat with Jim, holding hands, praying together.

Praying together.

I opened my eyes, and looked at Jim’s hands. They were huge. Mine felt small in his, and I felt small, sitting there, holding hands with a Godly man.

Small, comforted, and, oddly protected. Suddenly, tears welled up in my eyes, and I fought down a sob. Holding hands with a Godly man in a protected space was heartbreaking in it’s comfort. Jim had blessed me in a  completely unexpected way.


Christian women, listen well.  Don’t take that blessing for granted. God is indeed a friend to the widow, but the gift of a Godly man is a rare jewel indeed. Treasure him every single time you can.

Much love,










The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0

I started my teaching career in the fall of 1986 in upstate New York as a ‘paraprofessional’ or ‘para’.  I worked with small groups of immigrants, small groups of second language learners, and individually with students who had very intense special needs. I earned the lofty sum of $5.25 an hour, and considered myself lucky to get this foot in the door in a quality school district.  Paras are an immensely helpful piece in the puzzle that is public education-they free up important time for the classroom teacher, and often provide the extra boost of attention that  children of color, poor children and second language learners so desperately need. As a newly licensed teacher, I was glad to get into a building with experienced, quality people.

Meet some of the children of Stein Elementary, Visitors.


Stein Elementary is one of a dozens of Jefferson County schools that are staggering under the weight of the de facto apartheid that is Jeffco.

Stein is located in an area of Jeffco considered very undesirable.  Urban blight is present near Stein, unemployment is higher, and poverty is endemic. The student population reflects that. Consider these descriptors of Stein:

Nine out of ten Stein children are not white. 

Eight out of ten children at Stein get a free, federally sponsored lunch. (That means they are classified as poor. )

For my international Visitors, free and reduced lunch families qualify for this benefit when the adults in the household earn around 11$/hour US. For example, a family of four that earns about 44,000$/year can apply for free lunches for the children. This assumes two earning adults. Not a bad program, in my opinion.)

Slightly more than HALF of Stein children do not speak English, or do not speak it well enough to succeed in school. 

When sixth graders graduate from Stein, three out of four do not have a grasp of science.

One out of two Stein graduates cannot perform math anywhere near grade level. 

Thankfully, writing scores are creeping up. Only four out of ten Stein graduates need extra help with writing after graduating Stein. 

Now, consider this, Visitors. Teaching is a very time-intensive profession. The best elementary teachers I know, and I know many, plan for as much ‘face time’ with children as possible. The best grade school teaching happens in small groups, or individual interactions. When that teacher actually bends down by a desk, actually reviews the project, critiques the writing, oversees the activity, that is where children make progress.

Paras extend the reach of a classroom teacher considerably. Paras are used by Stein, often in positions of reinforcing critical language concepts, which these limited English speakers so desperately need. Yet, Stein has a long, long way to go. With HALF of Stein’s population speaking little English, Stein can benefit from any available Jeffco resources.

Enter this man- Michael Blanton.


Blanton is an attorney, of the type my 95 year old dad would call an ‘ambulance chaser.’ He runs a firm that deals almost exclusively in personal injury cases. You’ve seen the type of firm, the kind that runs advertisements in the middle of the day, aimed at the recovering victim who hopes to wring as much money out of the insurance company as possible, and will do so, with Blanton’s help.

Blanton and McCord were part of a group that successfully forced this recall down the throat of Jeffco voters. A few days ago, we learned that cost Jefferson County voters about 225,000$ US.

Now, those of us tracking with this remember when McCord, an established liar, and Blanton, the attorney, said this through spokesperson Lynea Hanson.

“We ( McCord, Blanton and third partner, Tina Gurdikian) have been told there will not be additional costs for the recall if we are on the November ballot with the existing school board election,” Wendy McCord told Complete Colorado last July in a statement through the group’s media contact, Lynea Hansen.(


Gracious. You just can’t make this stuff up. Two lawyers in this effort, blatantly, provably lying about this entire recall. It’s pretty easy to figure out that this is a surefire way for Blanton self-promote, and McCord has her own reasons for being so hateful.

Visitors, I’ve often said that when you want to make a difference in the world, it doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what you say. It certainly doesn’t matter what you feel.

It only matters what you do.

Sit with that a minute.

It only matters what you do. This is what Blanton, McCord and Gurdikian did for the children of Stein.

They spent $225,000 of our tax dollars forcing this misguided recall. Experienced paraprofessionals cost the district about 23,000 a year.

TEN paraprofessionals could have plunged into the population of Stein, working with limited English speakers, implementing teachers’ science plans, checking and reviewing math work.

Thanks to my brother and his colleagues, experienced teachers now start around 40k$, with full benefits. FIVE experienced classroom teachers could have started at Stein, decreasing class size, applying expertise to limited English speakers, reviving a dimming interest in science. That alone would have likely changed the lives of Stein students for the better.


Not going to happen,Michael.


Stein will continue to go without, Tina and Wendy.

Few problems can be solved with more money, but some can. We certainly could have gotten a head start at Stein, we could have made the difference for hundreds of children. Instead Wendy, Tina and Michael made sure that the Jeffco Apartheid stays in place for several more years. THIS is what recall supporters voted in.















The Lying Mouthpiece of Jeffco Teacher’s Union: Meet Scott Kwasny

Readers, especially Jeffco visitors, I’m almost boring myself here. Honestly, this whole Jeffco debacle is such a relentless drumbeat of hate speech, deceit and disruption, I find myself running out of adjectives. Those of you who have been with me for a while, remember the Louisa stories I developed a while ago?

Louisa (who was me, of course) was a medieval warrior princess. She had lost her prince in a terrible battle to the death. (That was Chris, dying of cancer). She was burdened heavily with the responsibility of her community, largely of families and children. Louisa discovered, as time went by, that this work suited her. It was tremendously consequential, and only successful with the aid and succor of local villagers.

In short, Louisa and her village had to come together to prosper. Corny, but true. We, all of us, have to band together to stand in the gap for Jeffco’s disadvantaged kids.

Check out this guy:



Meet Scott Kwasny.

Kwasny is Jeffco Teacher’s Union hired gun. He was hired by Jeffco Teacher’s Union one month after my brother and his colleagues were elected in 2013. Prior to moving to Denver, Kwasny was a well-paid agitator for the American Federation of Teachers in Detroit.(NINETY THREE percent of Detroit kids can’t read well. Mission accomplished, Kwasny?

For my international Visitors, there a two chief education-related labor unions in America. One, the NEA, or National Education Association, was the union I referenced in a previous column. It was one of three unions that pre-funded the recall election with hundreds of thousands of dollars. (This is what made  Wendy McCord, Tina Gurdikian, Terri Straut et al, liars, as they swore this was a parent-driven effort. )

American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, is the other big-dog player in the pro-Union scene in American education today. As of this year, AFT has over a million and a half members. They give millions of dollars to political causes, all of the funds coming from rank and file members. 95% of AFT donations are of a liberal, left-wing bent. AFT has publicly endorsed Obama, both Clintons and has given tens of millions of dollars to political causes. AFT has given far more than any private corporation in America. AFT, and Scott Kwasny, are the epitome of education politics in America today.

Someone I respect greatly once said “Know where someone sits, before he takes a stand.” So, we know this about Kwasny. A fairly young man, he worked for several years for hard-left union causes in AFT. Jeffco Teachers Union is a hard-left organization, therefore, when they lost to conservatives in 2013, you can assume that they would hire a hard liberal like Kwasny to bring Jeffco back into the union fold.

This is where it gets interesting, Visitors. Kwasny is very, very good at what he does. Mainly, because the man has no moral compass, and will say, and do, anything to get a win. Check this out- This is the beginning of a  Facebook conversation I had with Kwasny during the election season:

Scott Kwasny

  • If you think that you have fought for social justice and that helps you sleep at night than so be it… you are only ten years older than me. I am a hard working father and husband who has a very different belief system than you and your brother…for example – I would not kick a child out of my daycare because they had 2 mothers or 2 fathers. I spoke to a woman this past weekend who said that is exactly what you did. Keep on pretending, Victoria.

  • 10/26, 10:02pm


    Victoria Lierheimer

    Scott, I will get on you every single time you post another lie like the ones you just said. I have never, not one single time, ever discriminated against a gay couple, and I will give you names of gay folks in this town who will attest to that. You are a liar of the worst sort, one in a position of influence and power, and I have dedicated my life to protecting innocents against people like you.

    Consider this, Visitors.  I make a point of wide-open inclusivity in my non-denominational Christian school, even to the point of irritating my more conservative friends. Why? Because I’m convinced it’s what Jesus would do. These days, we have family structures of all kinds. Young, old, May-December, divorced, not married, gay, straight and single, straight and living together-gracious, I have to write it all down or I get lost. It’s important to me, again, as I’m certain I’m pleasing God by doing so. Incoming family structure is not important at EA. How that child is parented, that’s the only important thing.

    Irrelevant to Kwasny. He makes it up as he goes along.

    Here’s another:

    Scott Kwasny 10/6 9:27 pm 

    John Newkirk is nothing but a gold plated trust fund baby who’s never done anything by himself, only slid along the coattails of his father, a well-respected man in the community. He doesn’t know anything about Jeffco kids, he’s never had to work a day in his life! Victoria Lierheimer, John Newkirk’s sister, isn’t even a teacher! She’s the ‘principal’ of a failed religious academy. #standup4kids

    10/6, 9:38 pm

    Scott Kwasny Actually, let’s deal with this here, you lying coward. As a union employee and hack yourself, you now have access to my teaching license? My 28 years of licensed teaching preschool, kindergarten, grade school, and middle school English? In both public and private settings? What, you don’t like school choice? Addressing the needs of languishing schools like Alameda? Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, Amanda Stevens, Ron Mitchell, this is who you have fighting your battles for you.         Readers, remember these names, remember Scott Kwasny as an excellent, gold-plated example of the type of a lying union employee who doesn’t give a plugged nickel about the well being of your children, or the state of Jeffco Schools, and instead wants to shove his union agenda down your throat. #norecall#standuptounionbullies (that’s you, Scott Kwasny)


    Brrrr.  Absolutely chilling. Most of you know that I’m studying for a masters degree in Criminology, with an emphasis in pathopsychology.  I’ve always been interested in questions of behavioral deviance, and my course of study could not have been better timed. Kwasny, as you can see, is a sterling example of the hired-gun henchman who will discard all morality, engage in all kinds of deviance, all in the name of politics.

    As the election continued, all kinds of deviant and criminal behavior surfaced. I uncovered five artificial FB identities, three fake twitter accounts, and at least two stolen identities, all surfaced on line in order to spread slander and hatespeech in the name of this successful recall.

    Kwasny and his crowd won this round. One can only hope that the forces for good will win the next one.






The Damaging Exploitation Of Jeffco Children

Check this out, Visitors.


Braeden Adams, 7, reacts to the recall of three school board members during a watch party Tuesday, November 3.Photo by Chancey Bush/ Photo Editor/ Evergreen Newspapers


When I first saw this image in our local paper, I was so disgusted I  put it out of my mind completely. Surely, this was an aberration. Surely, Braeden Adam’s parents didn’t mean to exploit their child, sell his image, and use him as a poster boy for this hate-filled, deceitful recall.

Boy, was I wrong. You can buy Braeden’s image here.

For 17$ you can get a copy of Braeden nearly vibrating with the hatred his parents and other adults filled him with. For the same price, you can look at this image of innocent children dragging their little red wagons full of petitions to get the three deceit-filled issues onto the ballot.


You can also look at white, affluent, Jeffco teens, ALL of whom received prorecall propaganda IN the classroom, courtesy of the teaching staff of Jefferson County Public Schools. ALL of the information Jeffco teachers disseminated to these kids, (unethically and immorally, I might add) turned out to be false.



Visitors, I find issues like this to be tremendously discouraging. Most of you know that I’ve been a teacher and early childhood specialist my entire career. (30 years this spring! Astonishing.) I have spent those decades endeavoring to do my part to help make a generation of decent human beings. Generally, I’ve been successful.

The mind of a young child is a malleable thing. Most of you know I run an early childhood facility, and frankly, the kids in my school are lucky to have us. I have been studying children my whole adult life, and I clearly understand that the influence you have over a young child is permanent. So does my staff, and we never, ever influence a child in a negative way.

Do you love a particular food? Likely, your child will too. Do you find a particular sight or smell comforting? So will your child. Do you have an affinity for dogs, but can’t stand cats? Your child will have the same preference. (But hey, at least that one is reasonable.)

More importantly, do you carry around prejudice? Likely, so will your child. Do you hate someone? Sit with that for a minute.

Do you hate someone? Were you part of the crowd that cheered when my brother endured death threats? Were you part of the crowd inspired by Wendy McCord’s vicious lies?  Are you part of the crowd that looks at the plight of disadvantaged Jeffco kids and says ‘Meh’?

Discouraging. More than I can say. Visitors, think with me here. Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are….. what?”
imgres-4images-4 unnamed-3


“Doomed to repeat it.” That’s what.


With great sadness,



The Endless Lies Of Wendy McCord

Jeffco School Board Recall Petitions Submitted

Tina Blackmore Gurdikian and Wendy McCord at today’s (7/28/2015) rally for submission of petitions in the Jeffco School Board Recall campaign.

Visitors, I have had it. Simply up to HERE. Wendy McCord and the bottom feeders at her organization Jeffco United were forced by a judge to disclose their donor list on Christmas Eve.  McCord, you remember, was the lying, hatemongering  spearhead of the recent successful recall.  McCord’s noise was characterized by treating  ‘union’ as a dirty word. This is a grass roots effort! A coalition of angry mommies! The donor lists show a vastly different story. This was, from beginning to end, a battle funded by the educational establishment as maintained by national and state teachers’ unions.

Most of you who have been with me since Chris died, know that I have an overdeveloped sense of justice. Chris would kid me about this all the time.

“You can’t fix everything, honey.”

“You are not the police officer for the world.”

“Sure, you’re right, they’re wrong, what of it?”

Often, he’d be right. I can’t fix everything. Unfairness and injustice abound in the world. The weak get overtaken all the time. Powerful people run roughshod over the powerless, poor folks get the shaft, people of color get discriminated against and children get neglected. As Christians, we are promised that trouble will always be with us.

So, what to do?

Seriously, I’d ask him. What to do? Ignore all of this around us? Be happy that we have made our way to an affluent white enclave like Evergreen, and be thankful that hey, at least we have ours? We’re OK? Everyone else be damned?

Hmm. Let’s look at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 verse 40 for a minute.


THIS is why I fight. This cause is mine. I have been an advocate for children my entire professional life, and this verse contains the social justice imperative which cannot be ignored.

When I got my first teaching license in 1986, I was pretty naive. I thought that anyone in the profession was there for the good of our students. I honestly thought that everyone there was like me. Bright enough, interested, engaged, and convinced that some skill and intentionality would be rewarded with results in the classroom. Wages in the eighties were abysmal, so we weren’t in it for the money, obviously.

Fast forward to current day. Wages are actually competitive now, and compared to some fields for new grads, teachers actually do pretty well. We do get more than 14 weeks vacation, and PERA, or the Public Employee’s Retirement Account, actually does much, much better than Social Security. Add that to a powerful union that makes firing an incompetent nigh on impossible, and you’ve got a pretty cushy berth for a contracted Jeffco teacher.

Rewind to two years ago. A set of conservative board members which included my brother, John Newkirk, was targeted by a group called “Jeffco United”. Jeffco United was organized by lawyer Wendy McCord, pictured above. Wendy is an Evergreen local, which means she has a household income larger than most Jeffco families, by about 50%. (It’s a demographic fact that Evergreen denizens make more. Neither good nor bad, just a fact.)

Wendy went on a lawless, deceitful, and ultimately very successful jag to unseat the conservative board majority.

Jeffco United received 99.9 percent of it’s funding from the three teacher’s unions in Colorado.

99.9 percent, Visitors. Over a quarter of a million bucks, and this from the ladies who SWEAR this was a ‘grassroots effort’. An effort backed by citizens. Liars, through and through.

Visitors, this is the point where my verbosity gets the better of me. I am sorely tempted to pour out pages of statistics like these:

*Alameda High School, once run by Ron Mitchell, is a school of color. More than eight out of ten Alameda kids are not white. The same number of kids fall UNDER the poverty line. NINE out of TEN of Alameda grads can’t do math on an tenth grade level. This started during the ten years Ron Mitchell ran Alameda. Ron Mitchell is now Jeffco Board of Education president. This is just so bad as to be unbelievable.

*HALF of Jeffco kids are not at grade level for reading. HALF.

*ONE THIRD of Jeffco kids who go to college need remedial work. ONE THIRD.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Our schools are broken. Wendy McCord successsfully campaigned that they stay that way.

(Can you imagine the HELL that would break lose if that kind of nonsense happened in Evergreen? I can tell you what would happen. All of the white soccer moms up here would jump in their late model SUVs and go looking for blood. )

Wendy McCord did an excellent job of orchestrating the chorus of lies, damned lies, and outright endless hatemongering. Check these out.


Uh huh. With 265,000 dollars coming from the unions, and what, 3 grand coming from your ‘coalition’.

McCord-Union-1 (1)

This one is particularly staggering. If you inspect the donation records that McCord was FORCED to disclose, you can see the 265k$ was there when this post was made. Nowhere near six figures, Wendy?  Lie much?

And my favorite. She posted this after some imagined slight from John.


From who, Wendy? You? While you were out there peddling the oppressive, sickening tales that Jeffco is just fine? Your destruction has set us back decades, and this truly makes me sick.

Well, visitors, I’m just about at my limit. For our next column, we’ll explore more destructive perfidy of organizations like Jeffco School Board Watch.

Until next time.

Warm regards,




The Overt Racism of Jeffco Recall Supporters

603192_420545174680129_1953852512_n images

I just had an interesting experience with a recent Alameda High School graduate. I had to take my car into the dealership, gone are the days where dealing with car keys involved a simple trip to the hardware store. I was directed to the parts desk, where an attractive young Latino man smiled at me.

“I was directed here because I need a new battery in my key fob. Can you help?”

“Sure!” he said pleasantly. He took my key and disappeared behind desk. A few minutes later he bustled out and said-

“Take this to your car and try it out. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go from there.”

I hustled out to my car, and the thing started right up, low battery woes are gone!

I brought the key back to the young man, and prepared to pay.

“OK, that’s eight dollars and thirty five cents. ”

I was delighted! I know nothing about cars, and a small car bill is a pleasant surprise. I handed the young man a ten dollar bill and four dimes. He looked at it, and scowled for a minute. He hemmed and hawed, then disappeared in the back again.

Oh, dear, I thought. He can’t possibly be struggling about making change. Say it isn’t so. He came back through the door to the back, beaming.

“OK, here we are! Change of a dollar sixty five. ”

Oh, goodness. I sighed inwardly and asked him-

“Are you, by any chance, a recent Jefferson County graduate?”

“Sure am! I went to Alameda High School! ” Oh dear. He handed me a dollar sixty five in change. Gracious. I put on my friendly old lady math teacher mien and smiled back.

“Look, hon, I owe you  8.35, right? I gave you 10.40. There is two dollars difference between eight and ten. So you give me two dollars. There is a nickel between 35 cents and 40 cents, right? So now, give me a nickel. Two dollars and a nickel back, make sense?”

The kid slapped his forehead and said  “Oh! Right! Brain fart! Sorry!”

Sigh. Well, that’s instructive.  Friends, those of you who have been with me for a while know that education issues, especially to kids who present unique challenges, are very important to me. I’ve been a teacher since I graduated in 1986, and challenging kids are fascinating.

My brother, John Newkirk, shares the same desire for an excellent education for all, which was why he was elected to the Jeffco School Board two years ago.

When he and the other two members of the conservative majority were ousted last week, some really ugly facts about the typical pro-recall voter began to surface. (A “pro” vote meant that you voted to replace the current conservative majority with the liberal, union-backed candidates).

Outright lies, lack of respect for law and order, and teachers advocating for the union point of view in the classroom dominate the list of ugly things that marked the race.  But there is a very real, very profound racism running through this election that I would like us to visit.

Consider Alameda High School. Jefferson county is huge, at 85 thousand students it is, I believe, the largest district in the state, and thirteenth in the nation. The demographics of Jeffco are all over the map, from white affluent mountain dwellers, to racially diverse populations in the Alameda articulation area. Currently, Alameda HS has about 850 students, grades 9-12. Eighty three percent of Alameda students are not white. Eight out of ten of these kids qualify for free or reduced lunch, which means they’re poor. NINE out of ten graduating seniors cannot do math on an eighth grade level. Nine out of ten. Sit with that for a minute, friends, and build a mental profile of a typical Alameda graduate.

Much like my parts helper, an Alameda graduate is not white. He likely was raised in poverty, and got substandard instruction during his stay at Alameda. She doesn’t have the money to go to college, or even trade school.  Instead, he got shunted aside, trapped in a poorly-performing school that the white kids can avoid. She depended upon Jeffco to provide an exceptional education, and Jeffco failed her miserably.

Friends, the conservative majority addressed this issue for the first time, ever. The conservative majority diverted resources to improve reading and math instruction at Alameda, and even changed curricula, all of which are beginning to show improvements for the students at that, and other racially diverse schools.

Enter the Jefferson County Education Association, or the Jeffco Teacher’s union, as we call it here. One of the candidates that was vetted and inserted by the union was Ron Mitchell. Ron is a thirty year veteran of Jeffco, starting as a teacher, going for two stints as a principal, and then retiring ten years ago due to health reasons.

Who ran Alameda for ten years? Ron Mitchell. Who is responsible for not meeting the special challenges of a diverse population? Ron Mitchell. Who disengaged from his position enough to let Alameda become a talking point for poorly performing schools? Ron Mitchell. Who did the Jeffco voters mistakenly think is more competent than the ousted majority? Ron Mitchell.

Who is now in charge of a billion dollar budget, very little of which supports the racially and linguistically diverse student? Ron Mitchell.

Well. You might ask, “I voted for the recall. I couldn’t stand the noise. How on earth does that make me racist?”

Friends, it makes you racist because ignorance of profound inequality is no excuse. If you have any sense of social justice, you have a responsibility to address these nagging social problems, like the failure of Alameda High. Your vote is how you do that, and you voted to keep Alameda the way it is.  You voted to keep instruction substandard. You voted for an incompetent administrator in Ron Mitchell and his union-supported colleagues; you voted for a return to the status quo. You voted to continue to produce class after graduating class of Alameda kids who can’t make change. You voted to keep an underclass from getting the tools to make a better life. You voted for yourself, and not for these kids who depend on an education to improve their circumstances.

That makes you racist. Please, reconsider in 2017.

With respect,


Full Throttle Aging: Here We Go!

Volume One: Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Body?

     Visitors, I turned 50 over a year ago, and it’s more fun than should be allowed. I’ve got this curious affliction going, where time just rockets along the older I get. Ever notice that yourself?

I’ve been toying with the whole aging thing since Chris died. Honestly, all of us know that colon cancer is usually an older person disease, Chris was part of that 3 percent that gets diagnosed before 50. In the five years that he’s been gone, I’ve been slowly settling in to the fact that time keeps rollin’ along. I have this horror of getting stuck anywhere along my timeline, so I figure I better shake it off and figure it out.

When I turned 50, I noticed a peculiar thing happening. Pre-50, I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted, go about my usually frenetic lifestyle, and hover around the low 130’s, weightwise. During the winter of my 50th year, I  noticed the Newkirk Chubby Handles growing a little bigger. Well, hell, it was November, barreling into the usual confections of Christmas and New Years, who cares if I got a little bigger? January melted into the hearts of February, and March arrived with me fully twelve pounds heavier than that the previous fall.

WHAT on God’s green earth was going on? Now, before you think me the shallowest of body-obsessed fools, consider this. Unusual weight gain or loss is a sure sign of physiologic change. This was very unusual for me, so rather than just blithely go along, it behooved me to pay attention. I have folks who worry, after all.

So I made the rounds. Thyroid, check. Other cancer markers, check. Routine blood tests, check. Menopause (that silly word) comes late in my family, check. No cancer or other soul-sucking disease, today, anyway. So what was going on?

The answer from my doctor, a giant, crashing NOTHING!

“It happens, Victoria. Things slow down. You’re probably eating slightly more, and working out slightly less, and your metabolism isn’t as efficient.”

Huh. It happens. I pondered that for a while. Honestly, I’m sure all of us have heard the same thing, friends slow down, start complaining about their various ailments and expanding waistlines, how it’s all downhill after 50.

Not for ME it isn’t. So I thought about it. Eventually, I connected with my trainer, the illustrious Michele Sodon and her Fit Photage program. Fit Photage is a hard core regimen of diet,  and deliberate, conscientious exercise. I decided to take the twelve week plunge on this thing, and work toward the prize of an excellent photo shoot with the wonderful Dustin Sheffield of Dustin Sheffield Photography.

See, Visitors, I had heard this story so often it was trite. So many of my clients, after producing a string of bouncing babies, go about their lives and blossom into these heavy, complaining Evergreeners who mourn their age, their lives, their slipping athleticism,  and eventually the hand God has dealt them. I just can’t stand that.

Michele is this  deeply caring little firecracker of a woman, who used to lift competitively and still competes often. She scorns skinny jeans, and trash talks her clients nine ways to Sunday. The schedule was intense, I saw Michele four days a week, and picked up the slack the other two on my own.

The gains I made were impressive. I lost nearly two inches on my waist, picked up about an inch and a half on each arm, and the two inches I lost on my waist reincarnated themselves into a firmer, stronger back and chest measurement. I also stopped eating wheat entirely, cut out my daily Starbucks cold turkey (FORTY SEVEN grams of added sugar. FORTY SEVEN. That’s what, eight teaspoons, fellow lifters?) and ate six or seven times a day. I refocussed my eating toward protein, fresh everything and processed nothing, and lost almost six of the twelve pounds gained. I also learned to leave the scale obsession back in my dancing days. It wasn’t good for me then, and it’s not good for me now.

The thirty year old 132 lb dancer was a pretty good stage, but this 51 year old power lifter is even better. I’ll take it.

Much love,


Next time- Full Throttle Aging: Dancing with the Stars.


(Photo credit: Dustin Sheffield of Dustin Sheffield Photography. He makes me look pretty good, don’t you think? )