Nehro a threat in the Belmont

Nehro (inside) breezes 6f  in 1:12.20 at Churchill Downs
with stablemate Dominus on May 30, 2011
Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs
Even though Nehro hasn't yet won a stakes race, the Mineshaft colt's running style and his near-misses in the Kentucky, Arkansas, and Louisiana Derbys point to him as a fast-improving horse who seems to have the credentials to spoil the bids of Animal Kingdom and Shackleford to add a second triple crown victory to their resumes.

In a tuneup for the June 11th Belmont-G1, Nehro breezed six furlongs over a fast track early this morning at Churchill Downs, in company with the Smart Strike colt, Dominus, another Steve Asmussen-trained three-year-old who placed in the Derby Trial-G3 at Churchill in his last start.  Working on the rail under exercise rider Carlos Rosas, Nehro was caught by the clockers in 1:12.20.  Even though he finished a length behind Dominus, assistant trainer Scott Blasi told Daily Racing Form, "I thought they went great."

Asmussen has indicated that Nehro will likely ship to Belmont in three days, on Thursday, June 2nd, where he'll train up to the mile-and-a-half classic at Belmont Park.

Nehro seems to be following in the footsteps of his late-maturing sire, Mineshaft, who didn't really blossom until his four-year-old season, when he became a true powerhouse, winning four Grade I handicaps, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Suburban, both at a mile and a quarter at Belmont.  For his exploits that year, in which he won or placed in nine stakes and earned $2,209,686, Mineshaft was voted Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year.

Nehro preps for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill
on April 28, 2011

Photo:  Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs
Mineshaft's sire, the Intermediate/Classic Chef-de-Race A. P. Indy, not only won the Belmont, but also sired Rags to Riches, who, when she outgamed Curlin to capture the Belmont in 2007, became only the third filly ever to win the prestigious race, and the first one to do so since 1905.

From his first five crops of racing age, Mineshaft has sired seven graded stakes winners, including classic contender Dialed In, who won this year's Florida Derby-G1, but who has not fared as well in the first two legs of the triple crown, finishing off the board in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

Nehro didn't break his maiden until February of this year, when he won a mile maiden special weight race at Oaklawn in his third lifetime start.  Though he has now amassed earnings of $825,140, Nehro is still eligible for non-winners of two allowance conditions.  Even though he won't go postward in the Belmont as the bettors' favorite, he will certainly go into the starting gate with their respect.

Nehro is the eighth foal from stakes-winning The Administrator, by Canadian Champion and Horse of the Year, Afleet, a son of Mr. Prospector.  The Administrator has been a solid citizen in the breeding shed, having produced four other winners, including Grade III winner Saint Marden (by Saint Ballado) and the talented Kris S. filly, Sweet Lips, a stakes winner of $565,138.

Nehro's fifth dam, the Newstead Farm foundation mare, Legendra, is also the fifth dam of legendary Zenyatta.  In a blog post from April, 2010, noted pedigree analyst Frank Mitchell recounted how W. L. Brann, who bred and raced Legendra in the 1940s, summed up his breeding philosophy in an interview with Daily Racing Form's Charlie Hatton:  "I breed for the classics and try to emulate the best racehorses in England with my own bloodstock."

While Nehro's Dosage Index (4.33) suggests that he may not quite be able to get the Belmont's 12 furlongs, there is physiological evidence to indicate that he can.  When they measured him prior to the 2009 Keeneland September sale, EQB recognized Nehro's superior cardiovascular capabilities, and earmarked him as one of their "short-list" prospects.  Their client, Ahmed Zayat, subsequently signed the ticket for Nehro's $170,000 purchase price, and must be pleased with the returns on what now seems like a relatively modest investment.

Regardless of whether he wins the Belmont, or he doesn't, there's no doubt that in Nehro, Zayat Stable has got a talented colt in its arsenal, one who seems capable of becoming a star in his own right, with the genetic fortitude to keep going strong when other rivals fade in the stretch.

So You Think You Can Dance?

Have you read Anna Befort's cover story in the June issue of Viking magazine on Hallgrim Hansegård and his groundbreaking FRIKAR dance company? If so, you know Hansegård, originally from Valdres, began playing Hardanger fiddle and dancing the halling at the age of 7. His exposure skyrocketed in 2006, when appeared on the popular TV program "Danse Feber," Norway's version of "So You Think You Can Dance?" Here's a clip of his appearance, when he wowed the judges with his traditional laus (literally "loose," or solo) dancing.

While Hansegård's group is solidly rooted in Norwegian folk dance traditions, lausdans is just the beginning of what you'll experience in a FRIKAR performance. Hansegård's influences also include breakdancing, ballet and martial arts. Check out FRIKAR's YouTube channel to see dozens of clips of FRIKAR performances, including their winning "Fairytale" performance in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Marvin R. Sanders

Marvin Ray Sanders, 86, of LeFlore, OK passed away Sunday, May 29, 2011 in Glenpool, OK. Marvin was born in Fanshawe, OK on December 16, 1924 to Snowden & Addy (Thurman) Sanders. He was a correction officer at the Jim Hamilton Correctional Center and retired Dec. 31, 1988. He was a veteran of the US Army serving in WWII where he received a Liberation Ribbon with Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal & Occupation Medal. He was preceded in death by wife, Lottie Bea; his parents; brother, Eldred & Sister, Juanita.

Survivors include his daughter & son-in-law, Sandra & Kenneth McCool of Bixby, OK; grandson, Allen McCool of Tulsa, OK; granddaughters, Dee Dee Laymon of Cameron, OK, Kennetha & Eric Gillespie of Bixby, OK; great grandsons, Duane & Darren Bryant & Brett Laymon; great granddaughters, Amanda Laymon & Erica Gillespie; sisters, Lueta Brandt of California & Snodine Hale of Spiro, OK; brothers, Orval Sanders of California & Dale Sanders of Poteau, OK; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Thursday, June 2, 2011 graveside at LeFlore Cemetery, LeFlore, OK with Rev. Charles Caughern officiating. Interment will follow. The family will be at the funeral home on Wednesday evening from 6-8 to visit with relatives & friends. Honorary pallbearers will be Kenneth McCool, Allen McCool, Duane Bryant, Darren Bryant & Brett Laymon.

Laura Nicole Kosoff, Transplant Recipient 1973 - 1995

Laura's picture was taken on her 21st Birthday just 5 weeks before her passing. She succumbed after a life long battle of Kidney Disease, which included 19 surgeries, a transplant and many years of Dialysis, from the time of her birth. 
She was, is and will always be my Hero!
Thank you for the opportunity to have her included in this Donate Life Memorial Blog.
Claudia Stone, Laura's Mom

Dmitriy A Nikitin, MD, Transplant Community Member, Transplant Surgeon, 1969 - 2011

NIKITIN, M.D, DMITRIY A., a multi-organ abdominal transplant surgeon at Florida Hospital Transplant Center, died tragically on May 26. He was 41. Born in Russia on October 15, 1969, he received his Medical Degree from the Omsk Medical Institute, Omsk, Russia in 1993. He completed a residency in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine there in 1994 and was a staff anesthesiologist at Omsk Regional Hospital until he immigrated to the United States in 1996. From 1996 until May 2001, he served as the Senior Manufacturing Scientist at Hemagen Diagnostics Inc. in Waltham, MA. He then completed a General Surgery Residency at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA in June of 2006. Subsequently he completed a Transplant Surgery Fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX in June of 2008. He then joined the Florida Hospital Transplant Center in Orlando, FL, where he performed 168 transplant surgeries. Dr. Nikitin was Board Certified in General Surgery with expertise in multi-organ abdominal transplantation, hepatobiliary surgery and minimally invasive surgical techniques. He was a member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the International Liver Transplant Society and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Nikitin devoted his career to saving the lives of countless transplant patients, and it is with deep sadness that his family, friends, colleagues and patients mourn this tragic loss. Robert A. Metzger, MD, Chair of the Department of Transplantation at Florida Hospital, says that he and Dr. Nikitin's colleagues will not only miss this gifted surgeon, but will miss the caring man who worked tirelessly by their sides. "He was a very passionate and meticulous surgeon who had an inquisitive mind and a zealous pursuit of excellence. Our transplant team is stunned and grieving," Dr. Metzger said. As a researcher, Dr. Nikitin conducted clinical trials and authored numerous articles and book chapters. In 2007 he was awarded the Young Investigator Award by the International Liver Transplant Society. "Dmitriy was such a pleasure to work with," says Leigh Ann Burgess, director of the Florida Hospital Transplant Center. "He was a true professional and treated his patients and coworkers as equals. We will keep with us the memory of him walking down the hallway carrying an apple in his hand and an ever-present smile on his face." Dr. Nikitin was a very proud husband and father and spoke often of his children to the transplant staff during his long hours in the operating room. He is survived by his wife, Lyubov, a daughter, Mariya (17), and three sons, Dmitriy (13), Andrey (6) and Maxim (3). Their extended family lives outside of the United States, and Florida Hospital has created a fund to help Dr. Nikitin's wife and children.

Dianna F. Ragland

Dianna F. Ragland, 65, of Pocola, OK passed away Saturday, May 28, 2011 in Pocola. Dianna was born in Red Oak, OK on March 16, 1946 to Jefferson F. & Teresa (Owen) Ragland. She was a clerk. Dianna was a member of the First Baptist Church in Albion, OK. She lived in Albion for most of her life.

Survivors include 2 brothers, Jefferson F. Jr. & Hattie Ragland of Electra, TX, Randy & Kathy Ragland of Pocola, OK; 3 nephews, Willard J. Ragland, Albert R. Ragland & Randy Ray Ragland Jr.

Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, May 31, 2011 graveside at Red Oak Cemetery, Red Oak, OK with Rev. Johnny Montgomery officiating. Interment will follow under the direction of Evans & Miller Funeral Home in Pocola, OK

Dudley Lee "Duck" Martin

Dudley Lee “Duck” Martin, 64, of Wister, OK passed away Sunday, May 29, 2011 at his home in Wister, OK. Duck was born February 25, 1947 in Batesville, AR to Jesse Fred & Emma Eunice (Baldwin) Martin. He was self-employed in construction. Duck was preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Marion “Sooner” Martin & Burrus “Poose” Martin.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Margrete of the home; 4 daughters & sons-in-law, Debbie & Derek Brewer of Wister, OK, Kim Newell of Ft. Smith, AR, Jamie & Rodney Nobles of Wister, OK, Jackie & Tody Perez of Wister, OK; Special Children, Ronald & Cathy Robertson of Cameron, OK, J.K. & Margie Rowzee of Corpus Christi, TX, Jack & Courtney Word of Summerfield, OK, Amanda & John McAlester of Summerfield, OK, Faye Beason of Heavener, OK; 12 grandchildren, Aaron & Alyssa Brewer of Wister, OK, Aleisha “Montana” Brewer of Wister, OK, Stephanie Greenwade of Ada, OK, Christopher Greenwade of Ft. Smith, AR, Macy Nobles, Maddy Nobles, Kaiden Jackson & Preston Perez of Wister, Tanner McAlester, Gunnar McAlester, Addley McAlester & Case Word, all of Summerfield; 3 Sisters & brother-in-law, Nancy Martin, Retta & Tommy Baker of Wister, Pat Anderson of Heavener, OK; brother & sister-in-law, Thad & Mary Martin of Wister; Sister-in-law, Linda Martin of Wister; mother & father-in-law, Don & Aline Smith of Arkoma, OK, Special Brother, Bob Oliver; Uncle Farland “Sandy” Baldwin of Broken Arrow, OK; Great Granddaughter to be, Baby Bella; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at the Wister High School Cafetorium with Rev. PJ Atkinson & Rev. Clyde Steelman officiating. Pallbearers will be Dwight Lowe, Toby Mead, Gary Mead, Rick Ford, Chad Bridges, Brian McKinney; honorary pallbearers will be Bob Oliver, W.A. Busby, Sam Walden, Bill Scott, Stevie Walden, Dr. Scott Clark, Mauel Swift, Lamar Ford, Dave Monks.

The family will be at the funeral home on Monday evening from 6-8 to visit with relatives & friends.

Kevin Patrick Pryor, Organ Donor - 2008

Firefighter Kevin Patrick Pryor returned home from a strike team at the Humboldt Fire on Sunday night and was found unconscious at his home by a friend on Monday. Brother Pryor was rushed to Western Medical Center on Monday afternoon and placed on life support overnight. He was pronounced dead on Tuesday, June 17, at 7:00 AM with family, friends and fellow firefighters by his side.

Brother Pryor was 31 at the time of his death. He began his firefighting career at the Pismo Beach Fire Department in 1999 where he was named Firefighter of the Year in 2002. In 2003, he went to CALFIRE in Riverside County where he was named Valedictorian of his 2003 Firefighter Academy class.

Brother Pryor began his career with Newport Beach in 2005 where he served with the same excellence he demonstrated throughout his career and assisted as an instructor with the Community Emergency Response Team.

Brother Pryor loved the outdoors and climbed Mt. Whitney for the second time this year. An avid history buff, he is remembered by family and friends for his intelligence, dedication and humor, known for his hilarious impressions of fellow co-workers and celebrities.

Brother Pryor is survived by his mother Margaret, father Mark and brother Eric.

Oleta McMillin

Oleta McMillin, 71, of Poteau, OK passed away Saturday, May 28, 2011 in Poteau. Oleta was born June 30, 1939 in Big Cedar, OK to Rich & Lela (Fortner) Haney. She was a homemaker. Oleta was preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Linda & Wanda.

Survivors include her husband of 52 years, Charles of the home; 4 daughters, & sons-in-law, Maria & Keith Davis of Gilmore, OK, Lisa & Paul Kelley of Lone Oak, TX, Charlene McMillin of Poteau, OK, Carla & Max Dunigan of Bristow, OK; Grandchildren, Brandon & Kristie Davis, Brandy Davis, Brett Kelley, Heath Kelley, Ashley Dunigan, & Dexter Dunigan; 2 great grandchildren, Alyssa & Kaley; sister & brother in law, Joe & Loretta Turner of Monroe, OK and brother & sister in law, Clarence & Betty Haney of Poteau, OK; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Vaughn Cemetery, Gilmore, OK. Pallbearers will be Rodney Hemphill, Mark McMillin, Brad McMillin, Weylin Groome, Billy Jack Smith & Steve Turner. The family will be at the funeral home on Tuesday evening from 6-8 to visit with relatives & friends.

Jackie Colleran, Organ Recipient 1940 - 2011

Jacqueline (Jackie) Colleran, age 70, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, died at UCLA Medical Center on May 17, 2011, following a courageous battle with cancer. Jackie was born on June 8,1940, in the town of Glasgow, Scotland, to the late William Lawrence and Theresa Davis Lawrence. After moving to Canada, Jackie attended Cathedral High School. Jacqueline married Jack Colleran on Oct.15, 1960, at Saint Anne's in Cleveland, Ohio. Jackie and Jack raised three children, Mike, Lisa and Tim Colleran, and have eight grandchildren. Jackie worked for the Conejo Valley School District as a school nurse at Los Cerritos Middle School and Newbury Park High School.

In 1996, Jacqueline received a transplant from UCLA Medical Center and became a volunteer and activist for Organ Donation. Jackie became the President of Ventura County West Valley Chapter of Trio and a member of the UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) committee which is responsible for managing the United States Organ Transplant System.

Jackie is survived by her husband, Jack, and children, Michael, Lisa and Tim. In addition, eight grandchildren from eldest to youngest: Ryan Pope, Christine Colleran, Connor Pope, John Patrick Colleran, Jacob Colleran, Kelly Colleran, Nick Colleran and Katy Colleran.

Bob Blake

Bobby Beale Blake, 75, of Poteau, OK passed away Wednesday, May 25, 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. Bob was born in Oklahoma City, OK on August 8, 1935 to Floyd & Clema (Howerton) Blake. He was a purchasing agent for Johnson Controls. He was a veteran of the US Air Force having served 4 ½ years. Bob was a longtime faithful member of the South Broadway Church of Christ in Poteau where he served as Deacon, song leader and Bible Class Teacher. He was a member of the Poteau Kiwanis Club & served as its treasurer for many years. Bob was a wonderful husband, father & grandfather, affectionately called “GrandBob”. He enjoyed fishing & spending time with friends & family. His love & compassion for nature & animals were passed along to his children & grandchildren. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, and brother, Richard “Dickie” Blake.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Margaret; daughters & son in law, Cindy & Bryan Loughmiller of Pampa, TX, Melinda Blake Leader of Poteau, OK. Four grandchildren, Adam Loughmiller, Michael Loughmiller, Lindsey Loughmiller & Emily Leader; one sister & brother in law, Dena & J.C. Williamson of Oklahoma City, OK; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends & extended family.

Services will be 10:30 am, Saturday, May 28, 2011 in Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Bryan Loughmiller & Phil McGehee officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau. Pallbearers will be Ken Bentley, Mike Kemp, Steve Watson, Jr. Sockey, Bill Barber & Julian Scott; honorary pallbearers will be the men of South Broadway Church of Christ.

Danielle Schneider justifies her criminal behavior

It seems Danielle Schneider and her supporters are continuing to waste my time by trying to justify Schneider's criminal behavior. Says Schneider: "The author of the post is assuming I am guilty of something." Allow me to point something out:

Legislative finding.

The legislature finds that the prevention of serious, personal harassment is an important government objective. Toward that end, this chapter is aimed at making unlawful the repeated invasions of a person's privacy by acts and threats which show a pattern of harassment designed to coerce, intimidate, or humiliate the victim.

*** CHANGE IN 2011 *** (SEE 1206-S2.SL) ***

(1) A person is guilty of harassment if:

(a) Without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens:

(b) The person by words or conduct places the person threatened in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. "Words or conduct" includes, in addition to any other form of communication or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication.

(2)(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, a person who harasses another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Intent -- 1999 c 27: "It is the intent of chapter 27, Laws of 1999 to clarify that electronic communications are included in the types of conduct and actions that can constitute the crimes of harassment and stalking. It is not the intent of the legislature, by adoption of chapter 27, Laws of 1999, to restrict in any way the types of conduct or actions that can constitute harassment or stalking." [1999 c 27 § 1.]
This disclaimer is also on the sheriff's office websites around the state of Washington:

Abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass registered sex and kidnapping offenders will not be tolerated. Such abuse could potentially end our current ability to release this important information to the public.
I don't make assumptions. I read the law.

No matter how Schneider feels about Rojas, the bottom line is what she is doing fits the bill for harassment. I cannot support such actions. There is a reason her story is posted on this blog, which focuses primarily on cyber-harassment. Schneider and her followers, like "mssparky," another damned special interest crime blogger (and my loyal readers know how I feel about wannabe crime analysts), have filled my comment board with insults and excuses for her criminal behavior. I can't believe they're still crying because I didn't post their juvenile comments, but that's a beef for a different day. The fact remains that the Rojas family has a valid argument whether Schneider likes it or not.

Someone sent me a few choice quotes Schneider posted on Facebook.

Danielle Jones Schneider
You had asked for people to submit questions or ideas that they would like explored in your documentary...
I believe if someone is accused of childhood sexual abuse or rape that they should be required to have a psycho sexual evaluation and PASS it as truthful in order to even be considered eligible for a plea offer....what would need to happen for this to be made into law? Since the abuse in my family occurred, I've noticed that individuals that harm animals seem to get harsher legal consequences than those who harm/sexually abuse children, can the statistic be looked into for this.

Schneider wants to dent someone accused of a crime to be considered guilty until proven innocent and treated as automatically guilty. Have people forgot it is supposed to be INNOCENT until PROVEN GUILTY? Have we forgotten about false allegations? It happens.

Schneider: I DO NOT BELIEVE a P**** can be cured...althou gh I do believe in a God of miracles, I WOULD NOT be willing to risk an innocent child to test if a convicted p***** has been "healed" would you?

It is hard to read such things without reasonably concluding you are willing to put a slant on your arguments favoring your opinion. I wonder if her God shares her opinion?

Schneider: The recidivism rate comment could be argued. Lots and lots of abuse is not reported!

Who is assuming now? A recent New York state study found 95% of sex crime arrests were of first timers. The recidivism rate is consistently low. Yes it can be argued, but like many comments Schneider makes, it is based upon conjecture and assumption.

Danielle Jones Schneider
I agree with the above statement...of course some are unjustly punished (life is not fare![sic]) In any criminal conviction there is the potential for errors. BUT I do believe that sentences for sexual crimes are not equal to the damage done. THAT is why I suggested that you look into the stats for other crimes that although are bad, in my opinion, don't damage individuals the same as a sexual crime. I THINK THE BIGGEST QUESTION SHOULD BE, WHAT DO WE VALUE AS A SOCIETY? and DO OUR LAWS REFLECT THAT. Yes, I am bias BUT one could argue I have personal experience and that SHOULD make my opinion matter!

Well I have personal experience too, as a victim of cyberstalking and vigilantism. She admits to bias. Bias means she is incapable of looking at things objectively. Bias justifies illicit actions, like running a blog that mixes a few fact with some baseless conjecture. Well I'm a bit biased against my ex but I know the difference between speaking about proven facts and spreading rumors. The fact remains Schneider is inflicting pain and her own brand of justice on another person.

I really don't care about this case. I merely blogged about it as another bad example of a vigilante feeling justified. Is Schneider a member of the criminal justice system? Doubt it. One of her screen name is fitting -- Totally Cracker. It fits her quite nicely.

Another wonderful example of Schneider's wonderful bias:

B***** wedding. I believe the wedding is to take place in Virginia, May 7th at a Sovereign Grace church : KingsWay Community Church. Some of the R**** family members that have been in the UK are in the United States, RIGHT NOW for the wedding! If you attend the wedding you may even get to meet ****, the convicted level 2 sex offender, whom is suing me because I continue to tell our story.

If you see E*** R*** please call your local authorities and tell them that there is a felony warrant in Washington state for ***** aka***. The police can handle it from there. Can you imagine marrying into this family?

Benjamin is on the witness list to testify on behalf of P*** and J*** lawsuit against myself and my husband. Not sure that this apple has fallen too far from the tree.

I'd love to hear what she meant by that last line. Another example of Schneider's conjecture:

There is also a wanted felon that is all twisted up in our story (E*****) shouldn't I do everything within reason to locate him? Especially because he has children with him that are most likely the victims of childhood sexual abuse.

At least she admits she's again assuming something. It sounds like she's implying the family is full of child abusers. The fact she says this on a blog gives more merit to the lawsuit against her, along with gratuitous use of the terms "predator" and "pedophile." I wonder if she cares her comments may be the only thing hurting the children?

Someone recently brought up a good point I should relate here. This is what I've referred to as keeping someone in victim mode. Instead of starting the healing process for the sake of the Rojas's victim, Schneider decides to obsess, to pick at the scab. After all, people think it is wrong to overcome the abuse. I could even question the motivation to ask constantly for funds. She says she has a FB page to beg for more money. I wonder if she was encouraged by the support Angry Tammy Gibson got for her unprovoked attack on a Level 3 registrant. Its the same location, it was high profile, and the time Schneider began blogging coincides with the outcome of the Gibson case. Jesus stated Love of Money was the root of all evil. It also makes a good motivator for a struggling mother with SIX kids.

Think I'm wrong? Well sue me, Danielle. Maybe I'll start a legal defense fund too.

UPDATE: It is funny Schneider posted this on her blog:


: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation

I find it quite befitting her. Obsession also implies the taking over of one's life, which is what her blog does. She truly is no different from AZU.

World's Best Beard Proudly Sports Norway's Flag

If you live with a facial-hair enthusiast, like I do, you might already know about the World Beard and Moustache Championships held recently in Norway. My husband dropped some heavy hints about visiting Trondheim this spring for the event, which was temptingly scheduled on May 15, just two days before Norway's national day celebrations. While our family budget couldn't accommodate a spontaneous beard-inspired jump across the pond, there were plenty of photos taken to document the event. And I must admit, there were some truly impressive displays of facial hair.

The biennial contest offers competition in 17 different categories and this year attracted contestants from 15 countries. While a world beard championship might seem frivilous, Ole Skibnes, president of the host Norwegian Moustache Club, warns that there's more to this event than meets the eye. "This is not a circus," Skibnes said in a recent CNN interview." You can't just judge the size of the moustache—you have to see if the hair is well-groomed, see if it suits the person, see if it makes them look good."

This year's winner, Elmar Weissar, a hairdresser from Germany, took the coveted title of "best beard" for a third time. With a not-so-subtle nod to his Norwegian hosts, he sculpted his gravity-defying whiskers to include a moose and a Norwegian flag.

After the event, participants were invited to stay in Trondheim to participate in the city's Syttende Mai parade.

While the next world championship is still two years away, it's not too early to start growing that beard. Anyone up to the challenge of representing Sons of Norway in the 2013 competition in Germany?

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Sheila Fay Dunigan Tolleson

Sheila Fay Dunigan Tolleson, 43, of Poteau, OK passed away Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Poteau. Sheila was born in Poteau on May 30, 1967 to Tommy & Betty Ruth (Hodge) Dunigan. She was a homemaker. Sheila was preceded in death by her parents; & three sisters, Linda Sue Dunigan, Shirley Bennett, & Bernice Cannon.

Survivors include her companion, Mike Crandell of Poteau; daughters, Brandi Tolleson of Tahlequah, OK, Brenda Gail Hackman of Poteau, OK; son, Eddie Wayne Tolleson of Poteau, OK; sisters, Patsy Lamberson of Panama, OK, Debra Beshirs of Shady Point, OK, Norma Hobbs of Poteau, OK, Brenda Moss of Shady Point, OK; brothers, Timmy Dunigan of North Carolina, Freddy Dunigan of Midland, AR, David Dunigan of Midland, AR, Ricky Dunigan of Shady Point, OK, Richard Dunigan of Texarkana, AR; 8 grandchildren; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Monday, May 23, 2011 in Evans Chapel of Memories. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau, OK

Lona Kathryn (Ratterree) Dryden

Lona Kathryn Dryden was reunited with her heavenly family on May 18, 2011. . She was born to W.E. & Rina Jane Ratterree on September 7, 1913. She was preceded in death by her parents, an infant daughter, Nancy Carolyn Dryden, & her husband of 68 years, Charles Bailey Dryden, as well as brothers G.A. (Aud) Ratterree and John H. Ratterree.
After the death of her mother, Lona Kathryn was blessed with a “second” mother, Annie Nation Ratterree, who also preceded her in death. A Poteau native, Lona Kathryn graduated from Poteau High School and Northeastern State University, continuing graduate work at the University of Oklahoma. She and Mr. Dryden were married in 1938, and the couple moved to Tulsa where they lived for 50 years. Mr. Dryden was self-employed as an accountant, while Lona Kathryn was a second grade teacher in the Tulsa Public Schools for many years. Both were very active in their church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Tulsa, until they returned to Poteau in 1998, where they affiliated with the First Baptist Church. Lona Kathryn had lived in Ellisville, Missouri, where she died, since 2008.
Survivors include a son and daughter in law, David Charles & Carolyn Dryden of Ellisville, MO; two grandchildren, Paul David Dryden of Ellisville, MO & Katherine Ann Stephens of Maryland Heights, MO; a dear sister in law, Helen Ratterree of Jacksonville, FL; and sever nieces, nephews, & cousins, including several special nieces & nephews from her husband’s family, all of whom dearly loved her.
Services will be 2 pm, Tuesday, May 24, 2001 at the First Baptist Church, Poteau, OK with Rev. Phil McGehee officiating. Interment will follow in Vaughn Cemetery, Gilmore, OK. Pallbearers will be Ed Abernathy, Charles Durant, Scotty McMillian, Kelly Hughes, Archie Baca & Weylin Groom

Vigilante blogger Danielle Schneider going broke

I don't pity Danielle; she made her bed, now she's laying in it. No matter what, vigilante actions are criminal acts. Rojas offered to drop the suit if she dropped the blog, but she took the law into her own hands and now she's paying the price.

Bio | Email | Follow: @
Posted on May 20, 2011 at 5:39 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma mother says her family is going broke fighting a legal battle against a man convicted of victimizing their child.

A sex offender, Patrick Rojas, is suing the mother for negative comments she made about him on her blog. Rojas, 26, was convicted four years ago of inappropriate contact with Danielle Schneider's 11-year-old child.

Danielle spends her days cleaning, cooking and caring for her family, but at night when all six of her kids are asleep, she says she blogs about him.

"His story became my story when he chose to abuse my child," Danielle said. "I just felt if I could save one child from being abused, I could take being vulnerable and sharing my story," she said.

[COMMENT: How often have we heard this battle cry to justify illegal activity?]

But sharing her story has come at a price. Rojas is now suing Danielle for $60,000. He says she's slandering his name. Now mounting legal bills and counseling for their daughter has left Danielle's family almost broke. "My husband and I have had to go to food banks," Danielle said.

KING 5 News spoke with Mike Davis, Rojas' attorney, who said he tried to come to some sort of compromise with the Schneiders before filing a lawsuit. He says there are many details on the site that are private information and simply not true. He also says Rojas served his time and has gone to counseling. Davis hopes to come to an agreement with the family before this goes to trial in December.

Ann Vaughan

Ann W. Vaughan, 75, of Poteau, OK passed away Friday, May 20,2011 in Poteau. Ann was a retired teacher. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill. Survivors include her sister & brother in law, Betty Marie & Joe Lineback of Tulsa, OK; nieces, Karen & John Lineback Crowder and John & Kathi Howard Lineback. Services will be 10 am, Monday, May 23, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories in Poteau, OK with Rev. Dr. Greg Tener officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery.

Marion Ruth Davison

Marion Ruth Davison, 75, of Hodgen, OK passed away Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Poteau, OK. Marion was born September 23, 1935 in Bridgeport, CT to Harrison & Mary (Rogue) Johnson. She was a homemaker. Marion was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Allen Johnson & sister, Dorothy Kovaloc. She was a loving wife, mother & grandmother.

Survivors include her husband, Jerry of the home; daughter Sherrie & Dennis Harrison of Cameron, OK, Charlie & Leta Davison of Gans, OK; grandchildren, John Harrison, Ali Davison, Jill Harrison, Cody Davison, Kayce Davison, & Kyle Davison; other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will to 10 am Saturday, May 21, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories – Poteau, OK with Rev. Monty Brown officiating. Interment will follow in Hodgen Cemetery, Hodgen, OK. Pallbearers John Harrison, Cody Davison, Mike Davison, Joe Davison, Dennis Harrison, & Chuck Davison.

Velta Faye Killion

Velta Faye Killion, 84, of Poteau, OK passed away Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Spiro, OK. Velta was born November 21, 1926 in Cameron, OK to Jesse & Ora Belle (Shipman) Moon. She was a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Poteau where she taught a children’s Sunday School class for many years. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, & homemaker.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Carl Killion; daughter, Sharon Lamar; 2 sisters, Bonnie Lee Goodwin & Imogene Logan; and one brother, Jesse Moon.

Velta is survived by 2 sons, Jerold & wife Phyllis Killion of Spiro, OK; John & fiance’ Diane Killion of Tulsa, OK; 5 grandchildren, Crystal Stimac, Angie Neal, Carol Davison, Lori Bigley, Brent Daniel; 8 great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

Services will be held 2 pm, Friday, at Evans Chapel of Memories with Rev. Keith Williams and Rev. Jeff Mattox officiating. Interment will follow in Oakland Cemetery, Poteau, OK. Pallbearers will be Gary Newby, Jeff Calloway, David Alexander, Paul Cast, Chris James & Harry Killian.

Tidbits from a month of life...

Ah, the blog.  It's been pretty nuts around here lately, and I've neglected my little blog.  I have taken all sorts of pictures, though, and it's about time I updated.  Here's a quick run-down of what we've been up to, pictures included!

My brother and his wife were in IF for a couple of weeks before Tanya's internship in Arkansas, so we had a lot of fun hanging out with them.  They arrived a couple of days before Easter so I took Tanya shopping with me when I bought some new clothes for my little crew.  Tanya was a lucky charm-- I found cute, inexpensive, matching Easter outfits for all of us!  I am sure that my time for dressing the boys in matching outfits is quickly running out, so I take advantage when I can.

The next week, I took Thomas to the orthodontist for his last of a set of three appointments in April-- and this one was to get his braces.  Even though it might seem early for braces, we're actually hoping to correct and prevent with "early intervention".  So far so good-- he looks adorable and he has been a real sport with all of his new food (candy) restrictions. 

While Jake and Tanya were here, we had plenty of fun excursions.  I'm sure Chris would say that his favorite of these trips (mostly involving eating) was to Sammy's-- a little diner/shake place in Rexburg.  We actually discovered Sammy's on a trip to Provo a few months ago and Chris became an immediate and diehard fan of their famous "pie shakes".  Chris described learning about a shake made with vanilla ice cream and a whole slice of blueberry pie as a nearly spiritual experience.  He said something about how he had always known it was true, just hadn't realized it until someone told him.  Hilarious. 

Thomas participated in a day-long chess tournament hosted by his school.  He has been in the chess club since first grade and is really starting to get pretty good-- I think.  I have to admit that I don't actually play chess myself.  I should probably start.  Anyway, one of Tom's friends described him as a "baiter"-- he uses one of his pieces as bait to trap his opponent into making a fatal move.  Sounds pretty clever to me!  Tom earned a participation ribbon at the tournament, which means he wasn't in the top 3, but he had a great time playing and hanging out with his fellow chess-players.

My grandparents, Nonny and Bob, were in Idaho for a few days early this month.  We always enjoy spending time with them!  It seemed like a really short visit, but luckily, we'll see them again in just a couple of months. 

Gordon's kindergarten teacher sent home a note saying that Gordon was invited to share his reading skills by reading a book to his class.  We picked a fun and simple book, then Neil and I went to the class to see him "perform".  He did such a great job-- he is a very confident kid and seemed at ease reading to his whole class.  I am thrilled with how much he has learned this year and it was fun to see him show off his skills.

This last week, we celebrated for three days for Mr. Gord-- he turned 6 on Sunday!  On Friday we brought treats to his class, then on Saturday we went out for breakfast, had a lunchtime party at the Aquatic Center (with sixteen kids... holy cow), then extended the party to the slip and slide and sprinklers in the backyard.  On Sunday, his actual birthday, we had another yummy breakfast before church, then a birthday dinner and ice cream and Ghirardelli brownie sundaes for dessert.  Whew-- I think I put on a pound for every year of Gord's life!

My friend Becca wrote a fantastic article/post about her son, Brigham, who I really think was cut from the same cloth as Gord.  I know for sure that I'm in "Parenting 505" with Gordon-- and where Becca is probably getting an A, I'm hoping to squeeze by with a C-!  Case in point-- she shares about a day where she prays to be able to get through the evening with her rambunctious kiddo; I was thinking about how most of my end-of-day prayers are those of repentance for not quite making it without losing my temper!  

While Nonny and Bob were here, we were discussing Gord's insane energy, stubbornness and determination, and when I complained about my parenting difficulties,  Nonny said, "yes, but he is growing up to be such a neat, neat person."  That comment has really stuck with me and has helped in the past couple of days when birthday-boy-brat syndrome has shown its ugly face.  Gordon can be a very challenging child, but he is also an incredibly sweet, intelligent, friendly, and wonderful little boy.  He truly is a neat person and I'm so glad that we have the opportunity to learn and grow from each other.

Finally, we're down to the last few weeks of school and a countdown to summer.  I am SO EXCITED for this summer-- Neil is finally emerging from baby-hood and I think I can take him places without a stroller, and Tom and Gord have been busy planning all of the outdoor activities they want to do.  Gordon got a new fishing pole for his birthday and Chris has already logged several hours checking out the local trout ponds.  Plus, last weekend, a glimpse of summer weather blessed us for a couple of days and we took advantage in the back yard!

Oh, that sun felt goooooood.  It's chilly and cloudy again, of course, but just knowing that warm weather is just around the corner is enough to make everyone smiley.  Let the countdown begin!

One more picture-- our cute neighbor boys and my boys are thisclose (they even fight like actual brothers) and they all got Club Penguin toys for Easter.  I don't particularly care for Club Penguin, or any video game for that matter, but the boys were very excited about their little plush toys.  They played outside all day.  Cute, cute, cute.

Gratulerer Med Dagen!

It's Syttende Mai, and that means that Sons of Norway communities throughout North America and Norway are waving their Norwegian flags, hosting parades, church services and all manner of celebrations to commemorate Norway's constitution day.

This is a great day of unity and celebration for Norway, so please join me and all of Sons of Norway in saying Hurrah for Syttende Mai!

Dr. George E. Nenstiel II

Dr. George E. Nenstiel passed away on Sunday, May 15, 2011 in Overland Park, KS after a valiant battle against lymphoma and the effects of treatments. George was born on April 20, 1931 in Belleville KS to George and Irene Nenstiel. He was a chiropractor for 53 years, 35 of them in Poteau. He was actively involved as an elder and member of the Presbyterian Church, Lions Club, Main Street Matters and the Chamber of Commerce and was a veteran of the US Army. He enjoyed ballroom dancing, reading, watching football and spending time with his family. His caring spirit and sense of humor will be greatly missed.

George was preceded in death by his wife Donna, his son George (Skip) Nenstiel, his parents and a host of childhood relatives.

Survivors include children Linda and Bob Dover of Lenexa, KS; Kimberly and Jesse Hurst of Cottage Hills, IL; Valerie and Charles Cook of Tulsa, OK; Cynthia Aazami of Minneola, FL; Cherie and Alan Chavis of Eagle, CO; Paul and Kristen Sample of Paris, AK; daughter-in-law Shelva Barnes of Cameron, OK; sister Lou Jane Temple of Tybee Island, GA; 15 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, 2 nephews, 1 niece, and his dog Shadow, as well as extended family and friends.

Friends are invited to attend a 1:00 memorial service and reception at Poteau Presbyterian Church on Saturday, May 21. In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been established for Poteau Presbyterian Church.

Hurrah for 17. Mai

Today is Norway's Constitution Day. Happy 17. mai, or as they say in Norwegian, gratulerer med dagen!

As this festive day is beginning on our side of the ocean, celebrations in Norway have been well underway for hours. The weather in Oslo early this morning was chilly and threatened rain, but the sun broke through later to shine on the celebrations.

Crown Princess Ingrid Alexandra was up early, dressed in her finest, with the rest of her family. By 8 a.m. they were on the front steps of their estate in Skagum, where they greeted parading schoolchildren. Later, she and her family joined her grandparents, the king and queen, on the balcony of the royal palace, where they waved to the thousands of participants in the country's largest parade.

To watch a recap of the celebrations in Norway and around the world, check out NRK Nett-TV. You can read more about the day's events in English by visiting Views and News from Norway. And if you haven't seen it yet, check out "The Rites of Russ" in the May issue of Viking.

No matter where you're celebrating today, the staff of Viking magazine wishes you a very happy Syttende Mai!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Geir Halvorsen

Jim Lingos obit

Priscilla Sue Solomon

Priscilla Sue Solomon, 63, of Cameron, OK passed away Saturday, May 14, 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. Mrs. Solomon was born May 31, 1947 in Detroit, MI. She was a homemaker. Services for Mrs. Solomon will be all day Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 26245 Caughron Rd., (Knothole), Cameron, OK. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made at Evans & Miller Funeral Home.

Eurovision 2011: Semi-Final 1 Results

If you tuned in on Tuesday to’s live coverage of the Eurovision song contest you enjoyed the musical stylings of contestants from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Norway.

Despite an infectious chorus and beat, Norway’s entry entitled “Haba Haba” by Stella Mwangi didn’t make the final cut to advance to the finals on May 14th. (To learn more about Stella, click here) In spite of the loss, Stella remains positive saying, "I'm fine. It was a great atmosphere in the arena, everyone seemed to be singing Haba Haba." Eurovision 2009 winner, Alexander Rybak, showed support for Stella during an interview with Aftenposten saying he believes that Norway’s second place in the performance order may have been challenging. He also went on to say that due to broadcast malfunctions, viewers in Spain were unable to hear any sound during Stella’s performance.

All is not lost, however, as two of our Nordic neighbors, Finland and Iceland succeeded in the first semifinal to advance to the finals on Saturday, May 14 with fellow contestants from Serbia, Lithuania, Greece, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, Hungary and Russia. You can also follow Denmark and Sweden’s performances in the second round semifinals today on at 2:00 PM (CST).

Mary Elizabeth Meyer

Mary Elizabeth Meyer of Poteau, Oklahoma, born July 22, 1920 to James W. Glaves and Ruth Haydon Glaves went home to the Lord on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Poteau, OK.
Mary was born in LaBelle, Missouri in 1920 and graduated from LaBelle High School in 1938 and later attended Quincy Beauty College in Quincy, IL. In following years her most important occupation was that of wife, mother and homemaker.
Mary was married on April 5, 1942 to Charles H. Meyer of Quincy, IL., who preceded her in death in 1988. To this union were born two children; Bonnie Jean and Cheryl Ann. The family moved from LaBelle to Poteau, OK in 1954. Mary will be remembered as a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend dearly loved and missed by her family and numerous friends.
Mary was a member of the First Christian Church of Poteau for 50 plus years where she served in the church as the CYF (Christian Youth Fellowship) leader for six years, Christian Women’s Fellowship member and officer and as a Deaconess.
Mary was also a member of the LaBelle, Missouri Order of the Eastern Star #316 for 50 plus years where she served as Worthy Matron.
Preceding her in death was her husband Charles Meyer, her parents James William and Ruth Glaves, her brothers: James (Jim) and Haydon, and her Great Granddaughter Brittani Johnson. In her death she leaves behind her two children; Bonnie Johnson and husband, Basker of Broken Arrow, OK; Cheryl McKendrick of Poteau: Grandchildren, William Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson Conrad, Charles McKendrick, and Amanda McKendrick Lacewell; Great Grandchildren: Ashley Johnson, Andrew Abbott Conrad, Matthew McKendrick, Baylor and Finley Lacewell; two cousins, three nieces and one nephew and many loving friends.
Services will be held at First Christian Church of Poteau, OK on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. Interment will be at LaBelle, Missouri Cemetery following a graveside service.
Pallbearers at Poteau are: Terry Amend, Paul Collins, Joe Means, Lloyd Ivy, Jeff Shockley, and Jim Dunn. Honorary pallbearers are: Dick Winters, Riley Smith, Lloyd Dobbins, Bill Peters & Neville Brehm.

Mildred M. Strickland

Mildred Maxine Strickland, 85, of Dover, OK passed away Monday, May 2011 in Dover. Mildred was born in Gowen, OK of September 25, 1925 to Ambrose Louis Sr. & Marie Adelaide (Querva) Capell. She was a homemaker. Mildred was preceded in death by her parents; 2 brothers & 4 sisters.

Survivors include her husband, Warren Strickland of the home; stepson, Richard Strickland of Cameron, LA; sisters, Mary Jacobs of Del City, OK and Mary Ann Barr of Choctaw, OK; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives & loved ones; many beloved friends.

Services will be 10 am, Thursday, May 12, 2011 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow in Shady Point Cemetery, Shady Point, OK. Pallbearers will be her nephews.

Delbert Leon Archey

Delbert Leon Archey, 64, of Shady Point, OK passed away Sunday, May 8, 2011 in Fayetteville, AR. Delbert was born September 12, 1946 in Cameron, OK to Edward & Dora Claudia (Hilburn) Archey. He retired after 40 years at Whirlpool. He was a veteran of the US Army. Delbert loved to fish. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Rita Jean Archey; sisters, Elcie Hale, Foy Brown; brothers, Jim, Robert, Jiggs, George, Bill & Roy Archey.

Survivors include his wife, Teresa (Jeanie) of the home; son & daughter in law, Kirk & Kim Archey of Shady Point, OK; 2 daughters & son in law, Shila & James Waddle of Shady Point, OK, Shea Archey of Poteau, OK; 1 stepdaughter, Tonya Whitecotton of Wagoner, OK; stepson, Tim Neal of Wagoner, OK; 11 grandchildren, Caleb, Kris, Alisha, Kyndal, Breanna, Skye, Brittany, Savanna, Gracie, Kalli, Ava; great grandson, Gunner; brothers, Ray Archey of Shady Point, OK, Buck Archey of Cameron, OK; sisters, Francis Loomis of Cameron, OK, Lois Brown of Congerville, IL.

Services will be 2 pm, Friday, May 13, 2011 at the Knothole Cemetery Pavilion, Cameron, OK with Rev. Jim Cook officiating. Interment will follow. Pallbearers will be Bruce Thompson, Caleb Archey, Alex Bryce, Jim Archey, Lynsey Hale, Carl Wilson. Honorary pallbearers will be Loyd Estes & Jim Kersh. The family will be at the funeral home on Thursday evening between 6-8 pm to visit with relatives & friends.

Norwegians as Role Models for Peace

"When more women are involved in politics, there will be more peace," says Norway's former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. It's a statement that some concerned Minnesotans took to heart when they planned an event called "Empowerment of Women Through Education and Economics." The symposium, held last week at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, was hosted by Norway House, Minnesota International Center, the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights - U.S. Foundation.

With Mr. Bondevik (pictured here) as keynote speaker, the event focused on how Norway can serve as a role model to the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality and the role women play in shaping society. And how can we as Americans work within our society and political systems to make a difference? I'm hoping to learn more about this at a follow-up session the organizers are planning for October.

You can read my interview with Mr. Bondevik about his peace efforts, formerly as prime minister and now as founder of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, in the May issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Norway House

Tuning in for Eurovision 2011

The month of May marks many exciting events within the Norwegian community, primarily the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day. However, this year Norwegians have yet another event to celebrate: Eurovision 2011.

In it’s 56th year, the Eurovision song contest is an international broadcasting event—coordinating simulcasts in 43 participating nations as well as Australia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, and New Zealand. From May 10th through the 14th, viewers across Europe will be tuning in to this year’s live song contest to watch and vote for their favorite contestants. Hosting the event this year is Germany, the home country of last year’s Eurovision winner, Lena Meyer-Landrut.

Norway’s contestant, Stella Mwangi, received a winning 280,217 votes in Oslo’s Melodi Grand Prix with her song “Haba Haba” to win the nomination for her adopted county in February. Mwangi’s energetic pop song takes cues from her African roots and centers heavily on the words of encouragement Mwangi received from her grandmothers, who encouraged her to be whatever she wanted to be. Commentators from Aftenposten suggest that Mwangi may have good chances of winning Eurovision since recent winners—including Alexander Rybak—have succeeded with upbeat songs.

Viewers in Canada and the U.S. can follow along by visiting at 2:00 PM (CST) on Tuesday, May 10th to watch Mwangi in the first of 2 semi-finals, where she will compete against contestants from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey. The second semi final will take place on the 12th, the final on the 14th.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day, Part 1

Once again, Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother.

I attribute my happiness in life to having a wonderful, supportive mother. She never berated, belittled, or criticized. Rather, she nurtured the very best in all her children and was unfailingly on our side. This doesn’t mean she condoned bad or inappropriate behavior -- not at all. Her standards were high; her love was unconditional. She made being a mother look so effortless that when I had my first child I accused her of making parenting seem too easy.

It wasn’t.

Married to a workaholic school administrator, she was a stay-at-home mom who forged a decades-long writing career that has resulted in more than 50 published novels.

She is my mother, my writing partner for the last 20+ years, and my best friend.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Part 2

In addition to being a daughter, I am also a mother. An old mother by my reckoning, married at the tender age of 22 and a first-time mom five days shy of my 31st birthday. Had my second son when I was pushing 36.

They turn 16 and 21 this year, so you can do the math.

Unlike my mother, I sadly run a loose(r) ship. Like my mom, I endeavor always to be supportive and value the importance of children stretching their wings.

The other night my older son, Erik, was packing for a train trip East. After a layover in Chicago, he’ll arrive in Pittsburgh, take a Greyhound to Morgantown, WV, liberate his girlfriend’s car and drive to Baltimore to pick her up from college.

I must have asked him half a dozen times if he had packed his tickets.

Like his father, Erik is a transportation junkie. Trains are his preferred mode of travel and his interest in locomotives started at an early age. From “The Little Engine That Could” to Virginia Lee Burton’s better-than-Mike-Mulligan’s-steamshovel “Choo-Choo” to all things “Thomas the Tank Engine,” Erik was a train aficionado.

Of course he had packed his tickets.

I explained to him I feel like I need to catch up on some ‘hover mothering.’ He had come home from his ‘final’ final that same day and announced he’s now a senior in college.

Huh? Seems like only yesterday we were winging to Germany to visit him during his high school exchange year. His little brother, Andrew, is nearly done with his sophomore year of high school.

Erik will be back in a couple weeks, then he’s off again (this time to NYC for a university writing workshop) – via train.

In the fall, he’s hoping to do another study abroad (he studied in Germany again in college). Eventually he’s going to go for good.

Then it will be Andrew’s turn. But it won’t be a totally empty nest since we’ll still have Grandma, thank goodness.

Somehow I recall knowing when I held my tiny (at six pounds we called Erik a ‘little monkey baby’) firstborn son in my arms that long-ago December in northern Arizona, when it was so cold there was snow on the southern cacti, I wouldn’t get to keep him forever.

I just didn’t know the time would come so soon.

Look to Plum Pretty's Female Family for Clues to her Kentucky Oaks Win

Plum Pretty holds off St. John's River to win the Kentucky Oaks
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
A daughter of Medaglia D'Oro captured the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs for the second time in three years earlier today, as Peachtree Stable's Plum Pretty eked out a front-running victory in the prestigious mile and an eighth filly classic, which is often a stepping stone to divisional honors.

In 2009, Medaglia D'Oro's eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra had announced herself as something truly special when she trounced the Oaks field by more than 20 lengths, without ever being asked to really run.

It's too soon to tell whether Plum Pretty will follow in Rachel Alexandra's footsteps, but the Bob Baffert trainee has accomplished enough during the last two months to write her own name in the history books.  She came to the Oaks off a freakish 25-length tour-de-force performance in the mile and a sixteenth Sunland Park Oaks in late March, one which the betting public at Churchill mostly dismissed because Sunland Park isn't considered to be quite in the same league as the historic Louisville track.

Until today, the bay filly's bona fides weren't taken very seriously, in spite of her respectable third-place finishes in two graded stakes at Santa Anita:  the Grade II Santa Ynez, and the Grade I Las Virgenes, in which she lost to top three-year-old females Zazu and Turbulent Descent.  Zazu could do no better than third today, behind a furiously closing St. John's River, who, though still eligible for a "non-winners of two" condition race, almost caught Plum Pretty at the wire.

Plum Pretty has never been out of the money in her five career starts, and with her win in the Oaks, her earnings have soared to $761,200.  And her pedigree supplies ample evidence that she's no fluke.  Plum Pretty is just the latest in a string of top-notch fillies sired by El Prado (Ire)'s son, Medaglia D'Oro, whose daughters include Acorn-G1 winners Champagne D'Oro and Gabby's Golden Gal.  She is bred along the same cross (Medaglia D'Oro-Seattle Slew) as Al Khali (Capote), a multiple graded stakes-winning turf specialist who has earned over $500,000.

Plum Pretty is the fifth foal out of the unplaced A. P. Indy mare, Liszy, who was sold for $170,000 at the 2008 Keeneland January sale, carrying the future Oaks winner.  Liszy had previously produced fillies by More Than Ready in 2006 and 2007.

Initially offered at the 2009 Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, Plum Pretty attracted a bid of $100,000, but failed to meet her reserve.  She was eventually purchased for $130,000 by her current owner, John Fort, at last year's OBS March Two-Year-Olds-in-Training sale, and when she arrived at Bob Baffert's barn, the Hall of Fame trainer confessed that his first impulse was to nickname her, "Plum Ugly."  But no more.

Plum Pretty's second dam is the stakes-winning Private Account mare, Silent Account, who won the Alcibiades-G2 at Keeneland and produced the stakes winner and sire Gold Case.  She descends from the two-time Champion Filly, Alcibiades, who captured the Kentucky Oaks in 1930, and went on to exert her considerable influence in the breeding shed, too, producing Champion Two-Year-Old Menow (sire of Tom Fool).  This is also the family of Horse of the Year and Chef-de-Race Sir Ivor.

Interestingly, Plum Pretty was produced by what is often called the "Rasmussen Factor," a pattern of inbreeding to superior female families through different individuals.  Her distant crosses of Alcibiades come not only through her own female lineage, but through her grandsire, El Prado (Ire), who is out of Lady Capulet, by Sir Ivor, and whose second dam, Cap and Bells, is by Tom Fool.

Work in Progress

Note: I wrote the following a couple weeks ago, and nothing has changed. Kind of scary but kind of symmetrical?

I don’t know if I’d qualify this as a wonderful day, but I sure as shootin’ got nothin’ to say.

Zippity do dah, zippity ay.

Or zip, zero, zilch.

Now those who know and love, or at least tolerate me, are now rolling on the floor barely able to contain their peals of laughter…I’m sure.

Me, at a loss for words, is a rare thing indeed…the spoken or written kind.

My mother called me, affectionately and accurately, ‘satchel mouth’ when I was a child.

You know, suitcase, open and shut, open and shut…well, you get the idea.

Contrary to this mom-labeled moniker, I can keep a secret. However, I also have never been very good at keeping my mouth shut.

It’s not that I’ve run out of things to say, I’m just takin’ a breather.

My deadlines are met, new exciting projects loom on the horizon, and as for holding on and letting go… here’s an update.

School is winding (or as my eldest says, crashing) down. My college professor husband is busy with end-of-the-year stuff. Older son Erik is finishing up his junior year of college and planning a study abroad in Korea next fall. At the tender age of 15, he first broached us with the idea of going to school overseas. Since then a lot has transpired. Now a German major and English minor, he’s blossomed into an excellent writer and is planning his future.

I said to him the other night, “I’ll miss you when you grow up and go away.”

His insightful response? “I don’t have to grow up to go away.”

His younger brother, Andrew, now 15 himself and finishing his sophomore year of high school, told me recently we’re entering into “uncharted territory.” I’ve never had an 11th grader before. Erik spent his junior year of high school in Germany. Then, as detailed previously in this space, he applied to college, dropped out of high school, got his GED, and went off to college a full year early.

Having a conventional child is indeed going to be a new experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way with both of my sons.

In early June my husband and I head to West Virginia. I’ll be seeing old and dear friends at the West Virginia Writers’ Conference. Spouse will head south with a good friend to motorcycle. Also this summer, we’ll see much of our extended families, my mom and I will continue to write together, and thanks to Facebook I’ll continue to reconnect with friends from decades ago.

I guess for a girl who doesn’t have anything to say, I’ve managed to say a lot.

Zippity do dah.