The Overt Racism of Jeffco Recall Supporters

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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? )


MY STORY: Corp. Todd Love


Visitors, graduation season seems to be a time for inspiration. I think I have reposted someone else’s work maybe twice in my life, but this one is a keeper. I’d like to introduce you to a young man I am proud to call a friend of mine. When I was in rehab for my shoulder, I was down in the dumps, and sent Todd a personal note. Much to my amazement, he sent a lovely, encouraging note back to me, that helped through my year of rehab. Todd is alternates between being hilarious, thoughtful, profound, inspirational and just plain dorky. Visitors, please meet my friend- Corporal Todd Love.

Originally posted on Brett May Photography:

As the first episode in this project, I selected one very special to me and a great number of people in my community. One of my best friends allowed me the privilege of documenting his story. Todd Love, Corporal USMC, is a man that I admired and revered before his accident. He took time out of his busy schedule to share what happened to him while serving in Afghanistan…

Todd is truly an amazing man of character. He was recently on leave from Washington DC where he is doing his physical therapy; or as he likes to call it: a stupid gym membership. He is returning today to DC to finish up his term for the military. As long as I’ve known Todd, he has never truly been able to sit still. He was the guy in our group of friends that always pushed our dumb ideas to the next…

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Divorced Baby Boomer Men and Later Life Marriage- Take Heart!

So, I had the most charming news a few weeks ago. A very good friend of mine, we’ll call her “Sarah” got married! Sarah was a widow, and her boyfried “Siegfried” (a stout man of German extraction) was a widower. We lost our spouses about the same time, and Sarah vowed she would never marry again.

“I just miss Mitch too much.” (Sarah was like me, married for decades.)

“I can’t imagine ever being a wife to anyone else but Mitch!”

Siegfried was actually a friend of Sarah and Mitch’s for years, they went to church together, and had children about the same age. Siegfried and Sarah lost their spouses within a year of each other.

Sarah grieved Mitch, and after a couple of years, I began to notice Siegfried popping up more and more in conversation. Soon, they began to enjoy each other’s company on a regular basis, and Siegfried began to appear with Sarah at various functions. I would nosily question Sarah about Siegfried, and she’d timidly laugh, and say what a sweet man Siegfried was, and how much fun they had together.


I was delighted for Sarah.

Grief is hard, but so is marriage. Baby Boomer Men, check out the stock picture I found above. Most of you are grey foxes like the model, or on your way there. The chick reminds me a little of myself, agewise.

Remember the satisfying times? Remember why you married in the first place? Remember the times you laughed so hard together your abs hurt? Remember the trips, the new experiences shared, mutual support given?

It’s possible to go to that place again. Maybe it looks different than the first time around, but it can be just as satisfying, just as uplifting, and just as much darn fun.

Just ask Siegfried and Sarah.


(Newlyweds Siegfried and Sarah, 81 and 82, respectively.)

Much love,


Divorced Baby Boomer Men and Their Ideas About Relationship “Work”.

NOTE: OOOPS! Somehow, I published an earlier, incomplete, and slightly idiotic version of this column. THIS is what I intended to print, and I hope you like it.

Much love, Victoria


Most of you know I started jumping out of planes last year. Christopher, my son, is now a tandem master, coach, and all around top-notch skydiver, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s really more fun than should be allowed, and has introduced me to a hilarious crowd of bawdy boundary pushers. Among them are a segment of Divorced Baby Boomer Men, and I’ve gotten into some pretty interesting talks.

I have to be careful here with identity disguise, because the community of expert skydivers is so small, they’re pretty recognizable. Let’s call this one “Brian”. Brian is 47, an utterly brilliant skydiver, leader in the field, and organizer. Brian has been married once, and divorced after a handful of years.

“It was too much work, Victoria. If it’s the right one, it should be easy.”

“What does that even mean, Brian? What should be easy? What part?”

” Oh, hell, I don’t know. I just picture our eyes meeting across a room, and we just fall into it.”

Fortunately, these guys are genuinely punchable. I punched Brian on the shoulder, and told him he must be kidding.

Another is an engineer in real life, and skydives as an  expert hobbyist.

“This is how relationships work, Victoria,” he told me in the middle of his divorce. “Find someone you hate, then buy her a house.” Gracious, how cynical.

It’s a funny thing, Visitors. It’s as if this generation of men has checked out of the “Nothing worth having is easy” consensus.

Got it? I'm sure you do.

Got it? I’m sure you do.

Divorced Baby Boomer men, of all stripes, seemed to be terrified of this one. This is just a brain-dead one to me, Visitors, because they are so accomplished. At least the ones I hang out with are. Pilots, athletes, businessmen, professors (so many professors) have at least one, perhaps two, broken marriages under their belts.

On the one hand, I get it. Women, if we’re honest, we can be a pretty emasculating bunch. Once we really get to know a man, to the point where we’re calling him ‘our’ man, ‘our’ boyfriend, ‘our’ husband, partner, any form of committed relationship, generally we’ve gotten to know our guy pretty well.

The Divorced Boomers I know have had been knifed pretty well. Remember Maynard, the firefighter in the previous column? Say what you will about bodybuilders, but bodybuilding is Maynard’s ‘thing’. It’s his hobby, what he does when he’s not fighting fires or being a divorced dad. Credit where credit is is due, the man looks like a block of granite, competes and has won prizes.

Obviously, ideas of self worth and masculinity are tied up in the mind of the male bodybuilder. To be knifed by TWO extramarital affairs must have been quite a blow. Completely human to be gunshy.

But on the other hand, is this the first serious setback you’ve ever had, gentleman? Somehow I doubt it. I’d venture to guess you’ve had failed businesses, don’t get along with someone you should, or have had one of many setbacks along the way. No one is invincible, and you’re over 50, after all.

So lean in, boys, this is the good stuff. We’re just as fragile as you are. We’ll meet you in that place, and we’ll give you your chance. Yes, most of us are pretty high maintenance, but you know what? So are you! And it’s OK! We’re all old enough, and smart enough, to figure out what a treasure we can be to each other.

What is 50+ anyway? High noon, as far as I’m concerned.

Much love,

Divorced Baby Boomer Men and Their Sexuality Issues, With Peppermint Tea

When I was still a wife and the kids were young,  Chris and I were very frank with our children about sex. We never used words like ‘little man’, ‘coochie’, or even ‘banana hammock’ for underwear (which privately I found to be hilarious.) If anything, we were guilty of overexplaining things to our kids, which is kind of hopelessly predictable for a household with two teachers.

Divorced baby boomer men seem to be stuck in some sexuality netherworld. I just can’t figure it out. There is prudishness, where we simply can’t talk to a date about sexuality issues. Of any sort. Or we are hypersexualized, and want me to come over the second date. (Honestly, I once had a delightful date with a retired doctor on the other side of the baby boomer demographic, born in 1946. We had a lovely dinner out. The next night, he called and asked me over to his house to cook me dinner. What. Me and my pistol? What were you thinking? No! You may not ask me to the man-cave on the second date! No!)

What were you thinking?

What were you thinking?

Or we are hyposexualized. One of my dear male friends, not a romantic interest, said he could gladly live without sex, but not his reading glasses. I’m still not entirely sure he was joking.

Or we are oversexualized. Pornography, the ‘victimless crime’, is endemic to Divorced Baby Boomer men, and I could slap them silly. (Check out for some thoughtful, reasonable, intellect-based commentary, and for hipster, rational anti-porn Christian thought.) I’m especially incited to violence by CHRISTIAN men who use this exploitive medium. Honestly! I like my body, it’s popped out four kids, and still lets me skydive, swim, kayak, ski, run around, do all kinds of stuff, and will never, ever measure up to the silicone stick figures you’re watching.

AAAAND by the way? Should I decide to make you my next partner, (namely, my next husband) pornography will AUTOMATICALLY make you boring to me. Keep that in mind.

It seems too, as though divorced baby boomer men haven’t had the reality of a functional sexual relationship. This is actually heartbreaking, when you think about it. A dear divorced baby boomer friend of mine, not a romantic interest, once related to me the affairs of his first two wives. Maynard was ex Army, a firefighter with an actual degree in fire science. He’s a Crossfitter, and a competitive weightlifter, and has built himself up to look like a block of granite at 54.  Personally, I like that look, and have zero problem telling my male friends they look stunning.

Maynard looks stunning. Being betrayed twice in a sexual manner was obviously devastating to a man like that, and Maynard has come to a halt in his sexual development.

“Victoria, you will not believe the kind of people I meet on”

(Inward eye roll)

“Victoria, meet my new girlfriend, she’s an interior designer I met on line. Victoria, meet my new girlfriend, she’s a bank executive I met on Victoria, meet my new girlfriend…….” and on and on and on. Maynard sleeps with each of them, breaks up with some complicated quasi-Christian rationale, and moves on to the next one who will affirm his damaged sexual identity.

Doesn't take a doctor to figure that one out.

Doesn’t take a doctor to figure that one out.

Go figure.

Another divorced baby boomer gentleman, once a possible romantic interest, related to me how he and his ex wife had a tumultuous sexual relationship, They were in love, or so they thought, but the only time they had satisfying sex was after a knock-down, drag out fight.

No, thank you very much.

Chris was a lot of things, most of you know his history. When he became a Christian, the sexuality issues were suddenly righted into perspective. Not that he wasn’t human, no one is perfect. But sexuality was never, ever an issue in our marriage. It was candy to children.

I wonder if it has to do with this conversation I just had with my son, here in Puerto Rico. I’m here on my ‘vacation’ doing some necessary work. Christopher had to run back to the parking garage to get something out of the car.

Facetime rings on my computer.

“Mom? I’m at Starbucks. You want your peppermint tea? ”

Heart melts. “Yes, dear boy. Peppermint tea with two honeys.”

“Got it, see you soon.” Click.

Gentlemen, listen to me here. (Divorced Baby Boomer men have to have stuff spelled out) My son saw my husband be thoughtful with me for eighteen years. It stuck. When my son marries, his wife will have the joy of a man who (mostly) thinks before he speaks. Who wonders what she’d like. Who uses his words and asks her. Who, most of the time, puts her desires in front of his. Who treats her well.

This, gentlemen, is not learning brain surgery. It’s learning what makes great sex.

Much love,


Divorced Baby Boomer Men Are The Most Fragile Of The Species

So I’m in Puerto Rico now, Visitors, because my son asked me to come see him accept an award from AGC, the Association of General Contractors. Frankly, I find that to be manly as can be. This kid did a project that landed him a week-long, all expenses paid trip to Puerto Rico, a cash gift and a nice plaque, and he asks his mother to accompany him? How secure is that?

This got me to thinking about some recent escapades I’ve had with some remarkably insecure baby-boomer men. See, I’ve discovered that single men my age (just turned 50) can be categorized. Category 1- about 1%. Never married. What’s up with that? Heartbroken? Ok, but for decades? Mommy issues? Rather just be single? Ok, fair enough, but can we quit pretending we’re interested in a solid relationship with a woman?

Category 2- Widowed. Another 1%. Of that tiny fraction, about half have no business dating, they need to grieve their wives, and not kid themselves they are OK. Get busy boys, it’s a lot of work, trust me on this. The other part of that fraction? I’m not sure they actually exist, except once on a blood moon I see a happy, settled, widowed man announce his engagement. Generally to a widow.

Category 3-and buckle up- 98%. Divorced And Fragile As Hell. There’s a gentleman in my life, we’ll call him “Mitch”, who’s company I really enjoy. He’s divorced, bright, educated, hilarious and capable of great kindness to me. We recently had a discussion where he admitted to me that he was ‘as intimidated as hell’ by me.

“Really? By me? What on earth is that about?” Mitch and I had great talks.

“Well, I guess I’m old fashioned, but I think the guy should be the provider. You know, make more, give his lady things. You don’t really need anything from me. ”

(Mental facepalm)

“I drive around in my beater cars, and live in a little house in Broomfield.” Mitch pauses.

“Mitch. What. Seriously? You own those things. You have 20 percent left to pay on your house. I’d much rather be driven around in a beater you own than some fancy car you have out on payments. You know this. I also admire your discipline about your house. You know this too. ” Mitch and I talked a lot about economics.

“Well, I don’t know, Victoria. You’re beautiful and driven, and financially better off than me. That’s just kind of intimidating.”

When Did This Happen?

Visitors, maybe because I’m more firmly established in my widowhood. Maybe it’s because I’m fifty. Maybe it’s my manly son, who had a secure man as a dad for 18 years, but I just couldn’t stand it. Mitch’s paycheck isn’t that much smaller than mine, and are we really so fragile?

“Mitch. You’re just going to have to deal. I’m done apologizing for who I am. If we’re going to be friends, than accept me for who I am and what I do. ”

THAT was six weeks ago. Yep, not a word.

Another, this one a  divorced business associate. You folks know I dabble in real estate. I’m negotiating a little bitty condo deal right now in Denver. The owner has his mother, yep, his 70 plus year old mother, respond to all of my negotiations.

Recently, I laid out a fairly short list of inspection objections, totaling about three grand.  His MOTHER nearly ripped my head off . I was bossy, I was demanding, I was uninformed, and the answer was no.

Fine, I walked away from the deal. The son, FINALLY, sent me a meek little email asking if I would still be interested if the conditions were met. I got what I knew was reasonable, and the son made a jaggy little comment about ‘how I drove a hard bargain’. Really? What makes you such a wuss? It’s just business, and didn’t you learn not to take that personally your first job? Honestly.

Seriously? Say it isn't so, men. Please.

Seriously? Say it isn’t so, men. Please.

Still another, someone I thought was a dear friend. Divorced, ex- military, we had been friends for a couple of years. We cycled in and out of each other’s lives, a delightful ebb and flow. Recently, we had a lovely dinner together. I thought about it afterwords, and decided I was done with the incidentalness of things, and wanted to see my friend more.

I sent him an email, and made some suggestions. A picnic at the lake? A bike ride? A hike in the park?

Poof! Like magic, my friend disappeared. That was three months ago. Thinking the best, I sent him a couple of texts. “Are you OK? Kids all right? Everything OK in your world? ”

Not a word. Then “Friend, did I offend you? What’s up? ” The silence was deafening. Sigh.  What else to think but I some how broke something fragile in this man. Again.

Well, for heaven’s sake. How frustrating. Nary a male soul my age to be found who isn’t a quaking flower, unable to deal with a strong, self-directed woman like me.

So I’m stumped, Visitors.  Suggestions? I like men, I’d like one in my life. But I utterly refuse to be something I’m not, to cater to a frightened, oversensitive, fragile man. What do you think? Am I being to hard on them? Suggestions and thoughts are welcome.

Much love,