The Hill We Climb

Yesterday was a new era in America. President Biden was inaugerated during a pandemic. A star was born, a young poet, Amanda Gorman. Ms. Gorman taught Americans and all the world the power of words. She sketched our history, captured our pain, bared the soul of a nation, wove us together from West to East and North to South. She gave us a vision for the future of light and she did it all with the musicality of words. Her words will be studied and remembered for generations.

Amanda Gorman at President Biden’s Inauguration

The next time someone asks me why the humanities are important I am going to reference the words of Gorman “We must see light. We must be brave enough to be the light.” As we move into a new day, we are all better off for being part of yesterday.

Have a wonderful day.


Breathe, America, Breathe

One word

A simple reflex

In and out,

Taken for granted

The essence of life.

I can’t breathe!”

Gasping for air

A knee relentlessly ground into the neck

Life to death.

Pealing back our glossy, polished veneer

Revealing a rotting racist underbelly.

Horrifying a nation,

Marchers flooding the streets

Rioting, looting.

More black deaths.

Rooting out rancid white entitlement

So, all can breathe.

Seeking approbation

To walk in neighborhoods

Worry free, enjoying the night air

In and out

Simply breathing

Feeling safe,

Living unencumbered.


Kayla is my adopted 17 year-old daughter from China.  She came to America when she was 8 months old. She weighed 9 pounds, couldn’t sit up because she had been confined to a crib most of her short life and had no hair, head sheared to avoid lice.  The poem below was written about her.

A small sprout transplanted from China,

you toppled out of the crib, raced out the door, dashed into sports,

embracing soccer, track, cross-country, skiing, volleyball,

Cross-country meet, fall 2016


running, jumping, digging, striking;

fierce, competitive, impatient, aggressive, bold.


Spanx and sports bra, the daily uniform,

going all out–all the time.

Building strong biceps, sinewy tendons,

Nature’s glitter ; translucent shimmering sweat

crowns your brow, glazes your arms.


A flourishing STEM bud, nurtured in curiosity,

math and science are puzzles to solve.

complicated chemistry formulas,

elaborate derivatives–no problem.

English and history–suet for the birds.


A stunning tiger-lily,

rooted in fairness and compassion

your heart, a vibrant piñata,

burgeoning with raw emotions, jumbled together;

happy, confident, sad, anxious, angry, loving.


You’re an authentic explorer,

propelled by your virtual pinioned,

zeitgeist cloak of inquisitiveness;

restless to break free,

soar, create, love, and chase your dreams.20161120_130321


The Work in the New Year

world-of-christmasChristmas may be over but  the work of Christmas is just beginning; to help those who are most vulnerable.   One example  of need in our communities  is Flint, Michigan’s water problems. No public official in  Michigan was deliberately trying to poison children in Flint. There is no public enemy number 1;  rather we see a series of bad choices   and then a cover-up. “Administrative Evil”  is normal administrative professionals engaging  in evil acts without being aware that they are doing anything wrong (Adams, Balfor 2009). 

My poem “Flint (2014 ongoing) captures a real case of administrative evil in action.

Flint (2014 ongoing) by Julie Robinson


purveyor of health

taken for granted

streams out of taps

into our mouths

circles down drains to

contaminated rivers


cycles around

no filters in place

brackish, brown, stinky

budget reductions

a public disgrace


none of it safe

flows through the body

poisons children

irreversible harm


restricted to bottles

apologies abound

costs unpredictable


nature’s gift

public malfeasance


vital, virulent


Summary of the Flint, Michigan Water Issue

My husband, a physician, frequently says the United States health system is more dependent on our high quality public health programs than on our abundant supplies of physicians and hospitals. One example of this is  drinking water from the tap.  If you have travelled in other countries where the water is undependable such as Mexico or China, you know what a gift it is to be able to drink water directly from the faucet in the U.S.  Of course, that is not true everywhere is the U.S.  The place that has received the most publicity for public health problems over the past few years is Flint, Michigan.  In Flint, a decision was made to move the drinking water to the Flint River in 2014.  This decision was made to allow time to build a pipeline to connect to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). 

children in flint.jpg
Some children in Flint are still restricted to drinking bottled water.  High lead levels in the water may have impacted as many as 12,000 children.


Mayor Walling explained the decision as follows: ‘It’s regular, good, pure drinking water, and it’s right in our backyard… this is the first step in the right direction for Flint, and we take this monumental step forward in controlling the future of our community’s most precious resource.’ “

Rather than testing the water first to make sure the public was safe. The City chose to take a less expensive route of “waiting to see” what happens.

High lead levels started being documented in February 25, 2015. This information was deep-sixed by public authorities. By December 2015 as lead levels continued to climb, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency over the elevated lead levels in the city’s water. “I am requesting that all things be done necessary to address this state of emergency declaration, effective immediately,”

The water continued to be unsafe in Spring 2016. Both Presidential candidates Trump and Clinton and President Obama visited to symbolize their concern.  Concern is not corrective action!  By July nine public officials in Michigan had been charged with criminal offenses for the problems with Flint, Water.  These public officials were charged with misconduct and misuse of public funds.

By December 2016, four officials — two of Flint’s former emergency managers, who reported directly to the governor, and two water plant officials — were charged with felonies of false pretenses and conspiracy. They are accused of misleading the Michigan Department of Treasury into getting millions in bonds, and then misused the money to finance the construction of a new pipeline and force Flint’s drinking water source to be switched to the Flint River.

Today, filtered Flint water is safe to drink but not everyone, especially low income families, have access to working filters. The courts have ordered that these individuals be provided with bottled water.

A $170 million stopgap spending bill for repairing and upgrading the city of Flint’s water system and helping with healthcare costs was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 8, 2016.[8] The Senate approved it the next day.[9] $100 million of the bill is for infrastructure repairs, $50 million for healthcare costs, and $20 million to pay back loans related to the crisis.


Flint Protesters



What’s in a Name? How we chose a name for our Chinese daughter, Kayla

Almost seventeen years ago, my husband and I learned that we had been selected by the Chinese Government to be parents of a little girl. We were ecstatic.  Her Chinese name was BiYunYang. But the question for us, as for many new parents, “What would we name her?”

After rejecting a long list of names for a variety of reasons, I remember sitting on the floor at the Boise Barnes and Noble store going through books of baby names. I came across the name Calla.  The name was a derivative of the Calla Lily which grows wild in China and Idaho.  Since our baby had started her life in China but we hoped would thrive in Idaho, I thought this was a perfect name.   The strong “K” sound also went well with my husband’s last name, Kozisek.

I went home and told my husband I wanted to name our daughter, Kayla. I have trouble with pronunciation.  I actually thought “Calla” was pronounced “Kayla”.  He corrected me on the pronunciation indicating the first “a” was short with a strong C in Calla.  “Kayla”, on the other hand, contained a long ”a” and strong” K”. We both were undeterred by my mistake.  “Kayla” seemed a perfect name for our new daughter.  The story of Kayla’s name originating from the Calla Lily, rooted in China and Idaho, is still part of our family folklore.bell-shaped

Every Easter, I buy a Calla Lily from our church youth group to be displayed on the alter. We bring Kayla’s plant home after Easter services and display it on our kitchen table before replanting into our yard. Some years, the lily, a perennial, survives Idaho’s winter and returns the next spring.  But more often, we only have the lily throughout the summer months.  The tall-stemmed plant with the glorious, glistening bell-shaped flower and arrowhead shaped leaves is a regular reminder all summer of the gift we received in spring 2000 from China.

The language of flowers has existed for hundreds of year. For example, during the Victorian period, lovers sent secret messages to one another with small bouquets, called tuzzy-muzzies. Today, the symbolism continues, as lilies displayed at church represent new hope, new life and new beginnings of the Easter season.  I personally believe that we saved Kayla and gave her a new life and a new beginning when we adopted her from China.

golden liliesThe Bible references lilies on a number of occasions.  One of my favorite Bible verses about lilies is Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” This verse refers to the natural beauty of the earth. God’s world does not need additional adornment.  The verse, however, also reminds me that my Chinese daughter is a gorgeous girl and we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to share our lives with her.

I became interested in Chinese adoption after seeing several beautiful Asian girls in Helena, Montana. When I investigated the adoption process, I learned that these girls were available because of China’s one child adoption policy.  Since boys were seen as more valuable in providing for their extended family in later years, girls of poor Chinese families were given up for adoption.  Many of these girls were left at bus stops, on door steps or otherwise without any identifying information. Relinquishing a baby was also against Chinese law so babies were deserted in public places.

We now know that these policies have proven to be short-sighted.  China has a shortage of marriageable age young women.  Recently, there have been reports of occasional gangs of young Chinese men in rural areas crossing Chinese borders to kidnap young women.

China has lifted the one child rule and made international adoption much more difficult.  But during the period when I was interested in expanding our family, adopting a young girl from China was relatively easy. All one needed was to be patient and diligent about paperwork and have the funds to pay the Chinese government for processing and travel.

Our Kayla lily has proven to be true to her American name. She came to us as a malnourished, 8 month old, weighing only 9 pounds and unable to sit on her own.  Within months, she was sitting, crawling, and full of wonder.  Now 16 and half, Kayla is an honor student and outstanding athlete.  She is a beautiful person both inside and out.  We chose the right name for Kayla. Her soul is truly rooted in the beauty of the wild lilies, that thrive in Idaho.

As William Blake wrote in his poem, The Lily

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn, 

The humble sheep a threat’ning horn: 

While the Lily white shall in love delight, 

Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

 field of lilies.jpg

Two Dogs before Christmas!

Two days before Christmas, upstairs in the house

The teenager was sleeping just like a mouse.

At precisely 9 am, the mistress to exercise went

Leaving two dogs in the house to follow their scent.Two Shelties


Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!


Left to their wandering noses, the dogs went wild,

Like leaving an unwatched 5 year old child!

They ran through the main floor without making a clatter,Teenage Girl sleeping

The teenager slept on not knowing anything was the matter.


Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!


They nosed opened a vanity drawer, throwing tissue and plastic around,

Then into the master bath they went with a bound.

They yanked the toilet paper off of the spindle

They tossed the washrags on the floor in a bundle.


Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!


Next to the master closet they did scout

The master’s dirty underwear they then routed out.

They tugged and pulled all manner of man clothes

Who knows what tantalizing smells came to their noses.


Dash-away, dash-away, dash-away all

With the mistress gone, we’re hav’in a ball!


An hour later the garage door arose,Christmas House

The mistress found the mischievous canines in calm repose,

And the teenager remained snuggled asleep in her bed,

As visions of sexy dudes danced in her head.


The mistress was heard to exclaim as she saw the dogs’ mess,

“Merry Christmas my scoundrels, with you two I am blessed!”

Christmas Tree


Goin’ for Broke

Some people knit while watching TV, I write free verse about what I’m viewing.  My daughter and I like to watch The Voice and America’s Got Talent. Let me know if  I captured the contestants’ emotions.the voice

Goin’ for Broke

Standing in the dark shadows,

Gut twisted in knots,

Stomach clenched.

Sweat trickles down my temple, tickling my ear,

My shirt sticks to my back.

My heart is pounding—kaboom! kaboom!

Can no else hear that beat?


An aspen quaking in the breeze.

My palms are clammy and cold.

My nerves are stretched taut,

Shredded rubber bands on steroids.

I’m totally alone!

Action is the only choice,

My harsh inner critic caterwauling,

“Don’t blow this!”

I breathe in, out,

The marvel of circulation

Calming my fears, quieting my mind.

Deep inside, a whisper,

“I’ve got this!”

Hearing my name called,

I step into the spot light.spotlight

Harnessing all that crazy energy inside,

Bouncing around like a ping pong ball.

This is my moment!”

Pushing full throttle past my fears

Believing in myself,

I plunge ahead, risking everything!

Pulsating adrenaline cracks my veneer,

Exposing my soul,

Releasing my inimitable self.

I feel totally alive!

celebrating life


They scurry by outside my office window,

red-squirrelRat-like but fluffier with poofy tails;

They lack the guile of most rodents.

The lady next door feeds them daily

Sprinkling bird seed on the ground

Taming their wild spirits but not domesticating them.

They scamper towards the kernels

Grabbing the small nuggets with their tiny black claws

Like manna from heaven.

They are half breeds,

No longer self reliant but not a pet, Funny-Squirrels-Funny-Squirrel-Picture-25-FunnyPica_com_-140x140

Somewhat tame but still aloof,

They exist in a limbo land.

Urbanization has stolen all but five of their trees,

Leaving a play ground of cement, gravel and asphalt.

They dash behind cars, and trash cans,

Hiding from humans by placing themselves in harm’s way.

My coworkers find them annoying pests

Squirel with gun

Flashing my badge to exit the building,

Something furry brushes by.

BAM!  The door slams tight.

I peer through the glass.

Five inches off the ground, bright black eyes stare back.

I’m locked out. He’s in.

We’re both terrified.

 I’m clumsy.  He’s quick.

 Frightened, he darts farther into the unknown.

 I fumble through my coat, petrified;

Oh no, I have lost sight of the little devil.

 Frantic, I search for badge and beast.

Where did he go?

Found it! Swipe, yank! The door is open.

I need a miracle.

 Here he comes,

Propelled like a rocket, down the hall, out the door.

BAM! The door slams tight.

“Thank God!”

I breathe a sigh of relief,

But  I  still feel squirrelly.

Funny-Squirrels-Funny-Squirrel-Picture-red eyed