During Prohibition (1920-1933), when my mother was about 8 or 9 (1930 or 31), one day she and my grandmother went uptown to visit friends.

Grandpa was making home-brewed beer back then. Grandma wasn't thrilled about the idea, since it was illegal at the time, but she put up with it...He was even known to sell a bottle now and then to someone. Grandma herself, after a hard day's work, would drink a bottle against the heat. However, that day, Grandpa crossed a line...

Walking up the road to the house, we came upon an unbelievable scene: Men, women, sitting around, having a good time...drinking Grandpa's beer! It was a regular outdoor honkytonk. Well, if you only knew my Grandma, you could imagine what happened next: She was not amused. People knew my Grandma well enough that just her arrival meant they had better clear off. As they did, she proceeded to grab the remaining bottles of beer within her reach and smash them against the side of the shed.*

[NOTE: My Mom told me this story a few other times in my life when circumstances brought it up. On evening last June, she brought it up again when talking about her sister, my Aunt Pat. How Aunt Pat is scared about her health, and very lonely. She talks about coming up here to be near Mom. We hope she does. Mom said Aunt Pat likes her bottle or two of beer every day...and it went from there...]

* This scene evokes a connection in my mind to the story of Jesus clearing the moneylenders from the temple, for some reason!


In the northern-most section of Iraq are where the Kurds live. My son-in-law Meran and his family came from from this area. They lived in a small village named Bigdowdi. Several of Meran's uncles were Peshmergas, or guerilla resistance soldiers against Saddam's regime.

In March 1988 Saddam began campaigns against Iraqi citizens specifically the Anfal campain targeting the Kurds; it began with Halabja...later in August, they gassed Bigdowi.

Meran's mother and father were with his family when they first left for the mountains for safety. However, they realized that in the rush to escape, they had left important papers. Despite the risk, they felt they needed to go back and retrieve them. A relative went with them to assist. They never made it back.

Later, after the family felt it would be safe, they went back to try and find them. They eventually did, but it was sad news. The gas had overcome them; they had safely retrieved the documents, and were on their way back, but couldn't quite make it. The family had to bury them there, and continue on their way.

During the next 4 years, they lived as refugees in Turkey. My daughter told me their camp was near Mardin, Turkey. They were fortunate enough to be sponsored by Lutheran Social Services to come to the United States in 1992. It was here in Fargo, ND that my daughter met Meran...