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Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Our good friend, Yulie Seydoux, recently responded to questions from a student who was given the assignment of interviewing someone from another culture.

What is your history? What is your home of origin? Why did you or your family settle in the area.

I have a gypsy soul. I'm from Ukraine, western Ukraine, from the Carpathian mountains, near Hungary. I always liked the United States. I liked the openness and friendliness of the American people. I've always been kind of weird. I can be myself here. In Ukraine, it's strange to say hello to someone on the street. They would be like, "What the heck?" Only kids can do that. They're friendly here. So I found a way to come here. There was a summer work program at Silver Dollar City, and once done there, I decided to stay.

What are  some of your family customs and roles of members within your family?

Our family is not very traditional. We don't have a lot of old traditions. Christmas is kind of different. We celebrate it on the 7th of January. You need to have 12 dishes. One of the twelve dishes is kutya; it's wheat grains, with pieces of a flower, and nuts, and something really sweet that you don't have. It looks disgusting, but it's good. When the first star appears on the 6th, we can eat. Then little kids come to the house, singing, usually dressed as angels. Some dress as kings and act out the Gospel. And we all go to church and sing songs that night.

How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into the mainstream culture are members of your family and how well is that accepted by the rest of the family?

I never felt Ukrainian. I always wanted to be French but knew I was American really. There are some things Ukrainians do and think that I never did or could. The rest of my family is pretty well assimilated, pretty well Ukrainian. But they supported me when I went to America.

What are the gender roles in your culture? And in your family?

Gender roles are mostly the same. But women are expected to know how to cook, how to sew, and how to embroider--embroidery for making our national clothes. Women usually are working, though, not a lot of housewives. Guys are jerks, though. They have super big expectations for women, and feel entitled. They will openly criticize the weight of the women in their lives. Very concentrated on appearance. Men are gentlemen more here. Of course, it's the modern world; everywhere there are similarities.

What are your family beliefs about child rearing and discipline?

My Dad would drill me on geography or history or languages, and had a tutor for me, teaching me French, English, and Polish. My Dad said he was training me, like a dog, but this was a joke. He had a big world map, and I needed to know every place. He would teach me martial arts, and I would train hard. He wanted excellence, but he would encourage me. My Mom, on the other hand, spoiled me. She wanted me to be a lady. When I would come home from a fight at school, Dad would cheer, and Mom would say, "But Yulie, you're a lady." I was their treasure. I am their treasure.

What would be the characteristics and practices of people who are considered to be excellent parents in your culture?

Parental expectations are similar to here. But kids live with their parents much longer in Ukraine, and families typically stay geographically close. Also, all kids are expected to go to university in Ukraine, and the parents pay for it.

What is the power structure in your family? Is age a factor in who has power? How are decisions made at the family and community level?

I am an only child. My parents are separated, so I am the authority. Age is not a factor in our family's power structure. But growing up, everything had to be approved by my Dad. My Mom would listen to my opinions more, but my Dad would have to approve. He is really strict. When I made the decision to move to the U.S., though, they told me to listen to my heart.

Who holds positions of formal power in your culture? Who are the most powerful informal leaders in your community? Who held positions of power in the past?

We have a president, but his power is only technical, because if we don't like it, we will have riots. We have to respect elders. In Ukraine, we have two "yous." To elders, we always have to say the respectful "you." Priests are respected in the community. In the past, power belonged to a really bad president who ran away when we had a riot--a Russian bitch, who had golden toilet seats in his house.

What is your concept of health? What are customary health practices and beliefs? Who is responsible for and influences health care? Do you use home or folk remedies, a healer, shaman or some other traditional or spiritual healer?

I guess, in villages, they have folk remedies. In my family, when we got sick, they would put something on our foreheads, like a compressor. My Grandma would put alcohol from lilies on my face for acne. She said it worked, but it never worked. In Ukraine, they are superstitious. Instead of saying, "You're beautiful," they would say, "You're ugly," so you wouldn't get sick, but it meant, "You're so beautiful." And your family would suck your face in a cross and spit, to take away negative energy.

Here the interview abruptly ends, and right at the intriguing part about sucking face in a cross and spitting! But apparently it worked, because you'd be hard-pressed to find any negative energy coming from this beautiful soul. And I'm grateful that Yulie gave me permission to share this brief interview with you.

For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Now with Columbus Day approaching, our daughter told us that Columbus was really a bad man. This she learned in public school. I know why in public schools this is being taught, but I won't go into it here, other than to say that there is a reason all our former heroes are being disgraced, especially Christian ones, and the reason is very patient, willing to extend beyond our present generation until it gets its way as planned. And we shouldn't necessarily blame the public school teachers, for they have been taught what they're teaching, using the resources provided, and with all they have to do, it's impractical for them to do the research on their own. Most do their best, and their students realize this and so hesitate to call out any suspected errors lest they hurt feelings or cause arguments that would harm the student-teacher relationship (and affect grades). 

But it's always best to go to the source. (In social media we should know this by now.) And so here is the account written by Christopher Columbus himself in February of 1493, while off the Azores and beginning his return trip home, describing his first discoveries. It was addressed to Louis de Santangel, the treasurer of King Ferdinand of Spain. Although addressed to the treasurer, it was intended for the eyes of the King himself, and for those of his queen, Isabella. The letter was first printed in Barcelona, soon after the arrival of Columbus.

Now this "bad" man, whom the natives were so afraid of, finally found it necessary to compel some of these "Indians" to accompany him to show them they had nothing to fear. And after being with Columbus and his men for a time, they STILL thought that these strange newcomers were heaven-sent and enthusiastically introduced them to their tribes. It's unfortunate that these natives are not here now to teach in public schools.


As I know that it will afford you pleasure that I have brought my undertaking to a successful result, I have determined to write to you this letter to inform you of everything that has been done and discovered in this voyage of mine. . . .

On the thirty-third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. To the first of them I have given the name of our blest Savior, trusting in whose aid I had reached this and all the rest; but the Indians call it Guanahani. To each of the others also I gave a new name, ordering one to be called Sancta Maria de Concepcion, another Fernandina, another Hysabella, another Johana; and so with all the rest.

As soon as we reached the island which I have just said was called Johana, I sailed along its coast some considerable distance toward the west, and found it to be so large, without any apparent end, that I believed it was not an island, but a continent, a province of Cathay. But I saw neither towns nor cities lying on the seaboard, only some villages and country farms with whose inhabitants I could not get speech, because they fled as soon as they beheld us. I continued on, supposing I should come to city or country houses. At last, finding that no further discoveries rewarded our progress, and that this course was leading us toward the north, which I was desirous of avoiding, as it was now winter in these regions, and it had always been my intention to proceed southward, and the winds also were favorable to such desires, I concluded not to attempt any other adventures, so, turning back, I came again to a certain harbor, which I had remarked. From there I sent two of our men into the country to learn whether there was any king or cities in that land. They journeyed for three days, and found innumerable people and habitations, but small and having no fixed government, on which account they returned. Meanwhile I had learned from some Indians whom I had seized at this place, that this country was really an island. Consequently, I continued along toward the east, as much as 322 miles, always hugging the shore, where was the very extremity of the island. From there I saw another island to the eastwards, distant 54 miles from this Johana, which I named Hispana, and proceeded to it, and directed my course for 564 miles east by north as it were, just as I had done at Johana.

The island called Johana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health-giving rivers; and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these islands are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes, easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars. I think these never lose their leaves, as I saw them looking as green and lovely as they are wont to be in the month of May in Spain. Some of them were in leaf, and some in fruit; each flourishing in the condition its nature required. The nightingale was singing and various other little birds, when I was rambling among them in the month of November. There are also in the island called Johana seven or eight kinds of palms, which as readily surpass ours in height and beauty as do all the other trees, herbs, and fruits. There are also wonderful pine-woods, fields, and extensive meadows, birds of various kinds, and honey, and all the different metals except iron.

In the island, which I have said before was called Hispana, there are very lofty and beautiful mountains, great farms, groves and fields, most fertile both for cultivation and for pasturage, and well adapted for constructing buildings. The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the excellence of the rivers, in volume and salubrity, surpass human belief, unless one should see them. In it the trees, pasture-lands, and fruits differ much from those of Johana. Besides, this Hispana abounds in various kinds of spices, gold, and metals.

The inhabitants of both sexes of this and of all the other islands I have seen, or of which I have any knowledge, always go as naked as they came into the world, except that some of the women cover parts of their bodies with leaves or branches, or a veil of cotton, which they prepare themselves for this purpose. They are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror. They carry, however, canes dried in the sun in place of weapons, upon whose roots they fix a wooden shaft, dried and sharpened to a point. But they never dare to make use of these, for it has often happened, when I have sent two or three of my men to some of their villages to speak with the inhabitants, that a crowd of Indians has sallied forth; but, when they saw our men approaching, they speedily took to flight, parents abandoning their children, and children their parents.

This happened not because any loss or injury had been inflicted upon any of them. On the contrary, I gave whatever I had, cloth and many other things, to whomsoever I approached, or with whom I could get speech, without any return being made to me; but they are by nature fearful and timid. But, when they see that they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary, they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection toward all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all. But I forbade giving them a very trifling thing and of no value, such as bits of plates, dishes, or glass, also nails and straps; although it seemed to them, if they could get such, that they had acquired the most beautiful jewels in the world.

For it chanced that a sailor received for a single strap as much weight of gold as three gold solidi; and so others for other things of less price, especially for new blancas, and for some gold coins, for which they gave whatever the seller asked; for instance, an ounce and a half or two ounces of gold, or thirty or forty pounds of cotton, with which they were already familiar. So, too, for pieces of hoops, jugs, jars, and pots they bartered cotton and gold like beasts. This I forbade, because it was plainly unjust; and I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatever, in order to win their affection, and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our king and queen and princes and all the people of Spain, and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.

They do not practice idolatry; on the contrary, they believe that all strength, all power, in short, all blessings, are from heaven, and that I have come down from there with these ships and sailors; and in this spirit was I received everywhere, after they had got over their fear. They are neither lazy nor awkward, but, on the contrary, are of an excellent and acute understanding. Those who have sailed these seas give excellent accounts of everything; but they have never seen men wearing clothes, or ships like ours.

As soon as I had come into this sea, I took by force some Indians from the first island, in order that they might learn from us, and at the same time tell us what they knew about affairs in these regions. This succeeded admirably; for in a short time we understood them and they us, both by gesture and signs and words, and they were of great service to us. They are coming now with me, and have always believed that I have come from heaven, notwithstanding the long time they have been, and still remain, with us. They were the first who told this wherever we went, one calling to another, with a loud voice, "Come, come, you will see men from heaven." Whereupon both women and men, children and adults, young and old, laying aside the fear they had felt a little before, flocked eagerly to see us, a great crowd thronging about our steps, some bringing food, and others drink, with greatest love and incredible good will. . . .

I have told already how I sailed in a straight course along the island of Johana from west to east 322 miles. From this voyage and the extent of my journeyings I can say that this Johana is larger than England and Scotland together. For beyond the aforesaid 322 miles, in that portion which looks toward the west, there are two more provinces, which I did not visit. One of them the Indians called Anan, and its inhabitants are born with tails. These provinces extend 180 miles, as I learned from the Indians, whom I am bringing with me, and who are well acquainted with all these islands. . . .

Although these matters are very wonderful and unheard of, they would have been much more so if the ships to a reasonable amount had been furnished me. But what has been accomplished is great and wonderful, and not at all proportionate to my deserts, but to the sacred Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our sovereigns. For what the mind of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to mortals. For God is wont to listen to his servants who love his precepts, even in impossibilities, as has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished what human strength has hitherto never attained. For, if any one has written or told anything about these islands, all have done so either obscurely or by guesswork, so that it has almost seemed to be fabulous.

Therefore let king and queen and princes, and their most fortunate realms, and all other Christian provinces, let us all return thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has bestowed so great a victory and reward upon us; let there be processions and solemn sacrifices prepared; let the churches be decked with festal boughs; let Christ rejoice upon earth as he rejoices in heaven, as He foresees that so many souls of so many people heretofore lost are to be saved; and let us be glad not only for the exaltation of our faith, but also for the increase of temporal prosperity, in which not only Spain, but all Christendom is about to share.

As these things have been accomplished, so have they been briefly narrated. Farewell.

For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.

Monday, September 26, 2016


In my teens I got to go water skiing for my first and only time. The boat was going to tow me onto the water from my sitting on the dock. I had two big water skis on my feet and the handle in my hands, as the little speedboat slowly putted out to the rope's end and then sped up, pulling me off the dock.

I knew that most make the mistake of standing too erect and so fall face down into the water on their first try. So, trying to act the pro in front of my friends, I leaned back upon leaving the dock. I certainly did. I went back and right down into the water. Now this would have been no terrible thing -- I had a little life-vest on -- except that the front of my skis crossed and were held tightly in place by the water pressure, while the rope was beneath the skis, between my legs, with the handle caught horizontally across my thighs. And so the boat was pulling me fast, feet first, slightly under the water, and I couldn't let go. The driver must have thought I did let go, for it was some time before he slowed down, and the pain of the water rushing up my nose was severe.

Finally he slowed down enough for me to force the handle vertically so it would slip through and out of my locked legs, and he circled around to pick me up. "Do you want to try again?"


For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


If you don't believe Hillary Clinton said such a thing...

(And for the record, I choose Jesus.)

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Monday, September 12, 2016


I just sat in hospital emergency for a while (our son hit his head, but all is well), and discovered that this place is not only depressing because of the suffering. What bothered me worse was having to sit by a TV! We don't have TV service, and if ever my family wants me to move out, all they have to do is get TV service.

After a medical commercial (most all are medical now) advertising Botox, something that the doctor injects to fight migraine headaches, they listed the multitude of possible side effects (some life threatening), including . . . headaches.

Then I was stuck having to try not to listen to a show called "The Talk." One of the lines in it was, "Isn't it good to hear Trump saying something nice?"

Take Facebook, but in which you no longer can choose your friends but they're chosen for you, and the requirement is that they be Democrats. Then add volume to all the posts, with yelling and obnoxious sound effects. Then add flashing and blinking lights, almost seizure producing. And there you have TV.

The best cure for migraine headaches is not Botox. All you need to do is stopping watching TV.

For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.