Tashfeen Malik came to the U.S. in July, 2014, at 26 years old, married, got pregnant, produced a baby girl, became a terrorist and an assassin and was shot to death by police.

This is a capsulized version of news stories I’ve cobbled together. The information left many questions.

Originally from Pakistan, Malik traveled from there to Saudi Arabia where she reportedly trained for five years as a pharmacist. From what I’ve read about Saudi Arabia, men there rarely allow women to be educated. Question #1: How was a female Pakistani visitor allowed that opportunity?

Also, women in the Middle East seem to marry and have children early, raising Question #2: Was this baby girl, Malik’s first and only child? Was Syed Rizwan Farook her first and only husband?

Question #3: Why, if this young mother hated Americans so much, did she want her baby to be one?

Malik’s mother-in-law purportedly lived with the young family in an apartment. Malik and her husband filled said apartment with “thousands of rounds of ammunition,” handguns, rifles, and bomb-making paraphernalia. Question #4: How did word not get out in the neighborhood about all that weaponry?

The couple rented a car to use in their adventure. Did they take out an extraordinary amount of calamity insurance?

Finally: What is to become of Baby Girl Farook?

Will the rage, the anger, the madness that drove her parents live on in her tiny soul?

In a television interview on Sunday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham responded to this horrific event by demanding we put 50,000 American soldiers in Syria right away and bomb ISIS strongholds there.

In all my soul-searching these many days, wondering what Tashfeen Malik was thinking, Mr. Graham’s “solution” never even crossed my mind.

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My grown children have alerted their offspring: “Don’t eat anything from Nana’s fridge or cupboards without checking the ‘use by’ date.”

Alex, 12, took a bite of cheese and began spewing, running for the trash as he squawked, “Bad cheese. Bad cheese. I forgot to look at the date.”

Alex had never eaten extra sharp cheddar and the taste set him spinning. Happily, this cheese was still well within its safe date.

Who determines when a food is beyond it’s “safe date”?

I suspect it’s the same petite, finicky person who marks clothing “One size fits all.” Bless her heart.

Our young visitors now have me totally paranoid. Pulling out a new roll of toilet paper, I glanced to see if there were a date stamped on the package.

My mother kept Miracle Whip in the kitchen cabinet, not the refrigerator. She lived to 92, never having experienced food poisoning, as far as any of us can remember. Her four children continue alive and well. Of course, we grew up in daredevil, adventurous times before manufacturers were required to post warnings. Like most people of my vintage, we learned spoilage by swigging our share of sour milk.

When our older daughter recently banned her younger son from the internet, he complained loudly, “It’s not fair.” His angst was not humorous, although she and I both laughed on the phone when she told me about their disagreement.

“Those were once your most often repeated words,” I reminded, which set her giggling again.

“I know,” she sputtered. “It’s so funny to be on this side of the conversation. He’s using all the same arguments I used on you guys. He has no idea….”

As a teen, Katie (not her real name) had been a handful. Months before she turned 18, she lectured us often, reminding than when she was 18, we would no longer “be the boss of her”; that she would make her own decisions and we would have no say.

Husband and father, Bill, held silent through these lectures until one night when she caught him tired and out-of-sorts. “You’re right,” he agreed. “When you turn 18, you will no longer have to do what I say, AND I will no longer have to support you.”

That brought her up short. “You’ll have to pay for me to go to college, or have an apartment, if I decide to get a job instead.”

“No.” His voice was quiet. “If we continue supporting you, you will have to continue doing things our way, especially as long as you live under our roof.”

“Daddy, that’s not fair.”

When Alex tattled to her last weekend that the Ranch dressing in our fridge was three months out of date, he regarded her frowning, hands on his hips, anticipating the blow-up. Instead, she waved a hand and said, “Don’t worry about it.”

“You mean I should eat it?”

“Go ahead, if you want to. It won’t kill you.”

She called last week, laughing and grumbling. “I hate it when I hear your words come out of my mouth and it’s happening more and more often lately.”

I cannot tell you how happy this whole evolution of generations makes me.

If cold weather has you trapped inside, you might enjoy snuggling with one of my mostly cheerful novels. You can find them at:

If you enjoy them, drop me a note. If not, well, remember that motherly advice: “If you can’t say something nice, it’s better not to say anything at all.”

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God gave people free will. Some politicians want to legislate it away, but only in certain areas.

Some political types would make it the law for every woman to carry every baby from conception to birth. After that, however, it’s, “Sorry, honey, you’re on you own.”

They might be as enthusiastic about banning “fornication,” if that were not so popular. Same for other potential legislation involving personal decisions and lives.

The voices of legislators rise to a crescendo giving a president power to declare war. They beat their chests, then cross their fingers that volunteers will materialize to fight it.

It seems to me that it would be truer to our forefathers for those congressional folks declaring war to grab their muskets and take to the battlefield. Or, aroused by the same fervor that commits “boots on the ground,” they should reinstitute the draft, insisting every eligible person over the age of 18 sign on.

Of course, the law would provide for “student deferments,” meaning those 18-year-olds who continued their educations, could delay their commitments to their country until their educations were complete. That’s the way we used to do it.

National pride and patriotism, seems to grow in countries that require every person to do two years of national service after they reach a certain age. Some meet the two-year requirements in the military, others work in organizations like the Peace Corps or Red Cross or Salvation Army or….

My junior year in high school, two clever but rowdy fellows got in trouble with the police. They were given a choice: Military service, or jail. Both opted for the military. Both earned their high school diplomas in the service, then continued, eventually used G.I. Bill benefits for college and graduate work. In the most traditional terms, both became successful, one an attorney, the other a well-respected businessman. Surprised their families, and their community, including old classmates. Made us all proud.

If we are going to legislate lives, maybe we need to do it in a broader, fairer way: all or none.

And maybe we should confine our legislating to national interests and leave personal decisions on abortions and same sex stuff for individuals to negotiate with God.

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The proposed Keystone Pipeline is kaput, thanks to President Obama. I am relieved.

Congress was suspect when they pushed for construction of the humongous pipeline to be built by foreign entities––either companies or governments––smack through the middle of America from Canada to Mexico, allegedly to carry dirty fuel for sale to nations overseas.

Supporters like my own U.S. Senator, James Lankford (R-Ok), said the Keystone Pipeline would provide jobs for Oklahomans. What? Digging a giant trench and laying pipe? That kind of work brought Chinese laborers to America two hundred years ago to build railroads, work few settlers wanted.

As a novelist, the proposed pipeline initiated wild imaginings in my head.

Here in Oklahoma, landowners negotiate with companies drilling for gas and oil, for “taps” in the lines to allow residents to siphon some of the production for personal use.

What if Keystone had provided similar taps for enterprising souls? I remembered the inmate whose people dug a tunnel directly to his jail cell and provided a small motor scooter to transport him through the tunnel to freedom. He has not yet been recaptured.

What if owners of the Keystone facility inserted outlets along the pipeline, then sent Isis insurgents into the tunnels to pop up randomly throughout America?

Why not? No security checks at either end.

What if a line like that ruptured and blew up buildings or ignited fires like residential gas lines that have erupted in U.S. cities recently, or broken waterlines that wreaked havoc?

All than conjuring gave me new ideas.

Last February, “Morning Rundown” showed a U.S. Coast Guard cutter breaking up ice on the Hudson River. The report said those efforts keep that passage open for barges that carry 70 percent of the heating oil that supplies the Northeast United States. I supposed barges have been providing that oil to those states by that method since before the birth of the nation.

If politicians want to get in the pipeline-building business, perhaps they could run a domestic line alongside the Hudson River to New England, replace those barges with new, more dependable infrastructure.

How about a pipeline from America’s wetlands out to often-drought-stricken California?

Americans are encouraged to think outside the box. That’s how we’ve come up with so many inventions, medical cures, etc.

I write novels––fiction. If you like how I think, you might enjoy my books. Check them out at


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Have deviants always raped small children or is that something peculiar to society today? It seems to happen often now. Right here in Smalltown, Oklahoma, a young, not unattractive man, raped a nine-month-old baby girl. He was her mother’s boyfriend and was baby-sitting, left alone to protect the child.

A man sentenced to die in Oklahoma (execution delayed by problem with the lethal injection meds) had raped and murdered a one-year-old girl.

Is this new––this lack of regard for innocence––or have these perversions occurred in other places and throughout history, neither reported nor discussed?

Lines of cars at local schools deliver and pick up children who live mere blocks away. The schools are securely fenced, gates padlocked to prevent intrusions, also the ingress or egress by everyday parents, students, and pedestrians.

Bicycle racks sit rusting, abandoned and unused. Thus protected from natural exercise, American kids battle obesity.

With both parents working, I walked my older grandchildren to school. Now, however, with the newer batch, we cannot cut across the school grounds. We have to walk two additional blocks around to enter the front door of the schools and register.

One afternoon, when my own children were in elementary school, they complained that some of my daughter’s eighth-grade male classmates were harassing them on their way home. I loaded our baby boy in his stroller and walked over to supervise. I took my trusty paddle. School personnel had stopped using corporal punishment. I had not.

When I arrived at the trouble spot, I laughed at my own silliness. The “naughty boys” rode their bicycles round and round the moving, giggling gaggle of girls, flirting. Their methods not yet refined, the boys did it clumsily, but the efforts were recognizable.

Embarrassed by my arrival, my daughter and her cronies introduced me to two new girlfriends, and to the “annoying” boys.

I smiled and we visited a minute before my daughter said, “Mom, what are you doing here?”

“You complained about the boys giving you a hard time on the way home. I came to check on you. I didn’t realize you were just dealing with grown up young men trying to get your attention.”

“Yeah,” the biggest boy, the son of an acquaintance of mine, said, and he grinned like he was embarrassed. “You won’t tell my mom about this, will you?”

“No.” I couldn’t help smiling. When had I gotten to be such an old fraidy cat?

Normally, I do not assume evil motives. News coverage of horrendous behavior has changed my American naivete to fear. I think that’s a shame.

Contemplating how we are changing, I wrote my most recent novel, JINGO STREET. It is about a modern American thug and the society that created him. It’s sort of a modern day love story. You can find it at


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When the resource officer picked the smart-mouthed 17-year-old girl up out of her classroom seat and hummed her across the floor, I said, “Good for him!”

Some people sided with her.

The officer was fired.

“He should have handled it differently.”

“Oh, yeah? How? She was disrupting the class, refused to cooperate, hand over her cellphone, or leave the room. She refused to follow rules everyone else had to follow.

“What should the teacher or the officer have done?”

Three days of pondering, one woman said, “They should have called her parents to come to the school to deal with her.”

I was skeptical.

As a parent, I got my bluff in early. By the time they were 17, my children had regard for authority. At age 12, my sons did not point toy guns at approaching police officers, or get shot and killed. Stopped by a traffic cop, my children spoke with respect and showed driver’s licenses on request. They did not have to be tazed out of a car, cuffed, and hauled off to jail.

My children got swats at home and in school. They needed judicious corporal punishment. We loved them enough to provide it. Little bottoms are engineered for spanking.

Scripture says a father disciplines the child he loves. Mothers do too.

Toddlers who learn respect at home do not have to be yanked out of a high school classroom. Let’s put corporal punishment back in our schools. American kids need it.

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Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in an effort to draw a veteran on the street into conversation, asked about the man’s military service. Encouraging the man, McDonald said he, too, had served in the Army. When the man said he had been in special forces, McDonald went along, saying he, too, had been with special forces.

Today, McDonald said he had misspoken, that he had not served in special forces.

Newscasters suggested the reaction of veterans to McDonald’s misstatement should determine his future with the VA.

The story went on to say that, after graduating from West Point, McDonald served five years of active duty in the U.S. Army where he completed Army Ranger training before becoming part of the 82nd Airborne.

The Vietnam veteran at my house, after hearing McDonald’s record, said: “Good enough.”

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Tuesday, February 24, 2014

“Morning Rundown” today showed a U.S. Coast Guard cutter braking up ice on the Hudson River. Their efforts will keep the passage open for barges that carry 70 percent of the heating oil that supplies the Northeast United States. I imagine barges have been providing that oil to those states by that same method since the 1700s.

Meanwhile, controversy rages over the Keystone Pipeline that is to carry Canadian oil down the length of the U.S. to Mexico for sale to customers in other countries. My own U.S. Senator, James Lankford (R-Ok), says the Keystone Pipeline will benefit Oklahomans.

Both stories made me curious.

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Adrian Peterson and Parenting

Adrian Peterson is a righteous man who takes responsibility for training his son.

I believe respect for authority begins with toddlers and small children in the home. A devout Christian and the mother of four terrific kids who grew into responsible adults, I trust biblical admonitions on parenting children. Scripture says a father disciplines the son he loves.

Four-year-olds require attentive fathers and mothers. You won’t find a young man who grew up respecting authority firing random gunshots into passing cars. He doesn’t strong-arm aged merchants, or try to grab a weapon out of the hands of a law-enforcement person, or race from the scene of a hit-and-run accident for which he was responsible. He has been taught better.

Years ago, so-called experts on child rearing added spanking to the lists of forms of child abuse. I didn’t agree but decided to try not spanking.

We tried time-outs, but with four children, it was hard to keep track of what punishment went to which kid. Spanking was clear and decisive and we could all get on with our days as soon as swats were meted out.

I wanted to be kind with the eight eight-year-old cub scouts when my lovely friend Carol and I agreed to be den mother and assistant. The first meeting was a nightmare. The little boys romped and stomped and took full advantage of our tolerant selves. Before the next meeting, I called Carol and told her I disliked the boys and their behavior. More than I wanted the boys to like scouting, I wanted to like them, so, no more Mrs. Nice Guy.

The next week, one kid burst through the front door, ran to the den and leaped onto the sofa in his muddy shoes. It was early in the year and he was in shorts, his fat little thigh fair game. I smacked his leg with my open hand and told him he was to behave in my home as he would in his own, then warned them I was going to treat all eight of them like they were my own children, that I was a spanker and they were going to mind me or else.

They all stood quiet, wide-eyed and nodding.

We had adventures together, fun, laughter and achievements. I hugged them often. There were occasional swats. Late in the year, other dens began to fold. The scout master called to ask if Carol and I would take more than eight boys. Every kid in Troop 2 wanted to be in our den.

Not a chance.

I was den mother two years for our older son and two years for our younger one. With talk of child abuse, I feared getting into trouble with someone for treating the boys like they were my own, but we got no complaints and none of the boys quit scouting. I loved those kids then, and still like them as adults.

Our sons outgrew both Bill and me when they were teens. One afternoon, when our older boy was 16, he thought he was big enough to take me on. He was taller and heavier than I was. I don’t remember the infraction, but I was his mother and did not intend to put up with a smart mouth. The new wrestling coach had rented a house across the street. He said he had never seen anything funnier than our big boy scrambling, backing out of the house, trying to defend himself from my flying hands as I smacked first one muscular bicep then the other.

Our older son was a fine athlete. Coaches complimented us, saying how great he was to coach. He learned regard for authority early. He was an all-state football player and attended college on scholarships.

Our second son stayed with scouting and earned his Eagle. He is in law enforcement.

Both of our daughters are great moms. The younger one is a certified early childhood teacher who complies with school policy and deals with children in her classrooms without corporal punishment. At home, however, with four children of her own, she follows patterns set when she was growing up. Her children are respectful, thoughtful and good students.

I believe that disciplined children grow into adults with respect for authority. They learn to control tempers and tantrums. They take responsibility. They become outstanding athletes, statesmen, judges, and parents. They do not become thugs and thieves, or abusers.

Sooners appreciate Adrian Peterson. He was one of us. Most Viking fans probably do, too. In him we see a disciplined athlete, a leader of men, and a responsible father. Anyone who has parented a four-year-old boy knows the challenge. A child needs to know the rules and he needs to learn them early, especially from a father who is not afraid to love him enough to discipline him.

A final thought: I’ve seen Peterson run. If his son has his genetic gifts, catching and switching the little rascal probably was no easy task. As a parent, I am proud of Adrian Peterson.

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NIGHTINGALEScullery maid Jessica Blair, 18, calms the runaway stallion, then backtracks to find his missing rider. Injured, the arrogant duke, Devlin Miracle, 28, is waiting for daylight to begin his trek home, but for the duke, there will be no daylight. The attack by thieves has left him blind.

This is Ervin’s tenth published novel, her first historical. It will be released as an e-book from Crimson Romance on May 20, available for e-readers everywhere. Paperback to follow.

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