Issue No. 23, July 2009

Hello from breezy Hood River, Oregon – a popular windsurfing spot, but we came for the train show and the world’s best cherries!

A Tombstone Tells Its Story, Strikes a Chord

Download the PDF here

My newest Ancestry piece, A Tombstone Tells Its Story, posted to my website and Ancestry’s in mid-June and within a week had become the most popular article on my site. It was Sunday edition front-page news in the Grand Forks Herald, referenced on Minnesota Public Radio’s website and picked up by blogs and various websites concerned with history, law enforcement, civil rights.

For me, four simple words on a tombstone — “Killed while on duty” — turned the death of Officer Even Paulson of Mayville, North Dakota into a story that needed to be told again, and it has clearly struck a chord. A life cut short in the performance of public service always demands our attention, but this story awakened something more. The community for which Offer Paulson’s life was taken had forgotten the long-ago tragedy, even though his tombstone telling the story was in plain sight. It is a reminder to all of us that quiet heroes are among us always and, as Tombstone concludes, “it speaks to the fragility of any random moment in which history is written and lives are irreparably altered. It reminds us to live our lives acknowledging that that fragility could shatter us at any random moment and that both the good and the bad we do can live on after us.”

I hope you can spare a few minutes to read Officer Paulson’s story, and to honor his sacrifice and the sacrifice of others like him who do what they do for us in increasingly dangerous times.

For fascinating further reading, follow along with some of the news accounts I used to reconstruct this story of “the most atrocious crime in Traill Country history” and two decades of political fallout on my website.

Read the Grand Forks Herald story here [word doc]

Excerpt from A Tombstone Tells Its Story:

It’s a wonderful parable, how I went to North Dakota looking for ancestors and came home with a police escort. As genealogy buffs, we avidly believe in the adage “every tombstone tells a story,” but few gravestones do it as provocatively as Officer Even Paulson’s.

Even Paulson
Born Dec. 29, 1862
Killed while on duty
As Night watchman at
Mayville, N.D.
Sept. 3, 1893
1 o’clock a.m.

Even Paulson didn’t write his own epitaph, and the instant I laid eyes on it I felt the piercing depth of loss dealt to those who did – not just a family but a whole community. Embodied in those few chiseled words - the shock, the sorrow, the anger, the spectacle of a sensational trial played out in the media across five states, and the repercussions that would rage on for two decades...

Read this and other stories like it in Ancestry magazine

More reads

New on my Facebook author’s page:

Run Ragged
A happy new kind of exhaustion awaits parents of children with autism who aren’t careful what they wish for – a typical teen.

Calgary’s Child
Sharks and Minnows: Making swim lessons work for special needs children
July-August 2009

Some children take to the water like fish, but for many special needs children, overcoming fears and sensory challenges is daunting. Dive right into tips for helping your little minnow get past the sharks. Adapted from The Autism Trail Guide (2007).

Autism Asperger’s Digest
Postcards from the Road Less Traveled:

Yes, it IS your Problem

July-August 2009

Parents and teachers have an obligation to work together, never more so than in these challenging times. We’re fond of saying that it takes a village to raise a child. When that village is burning, everyone joins the bucket brigade. No one steps back and says, “I’m not the fireman; it’s not my problem...”

Children’s Voice
Let's Make a Deal
July-August 2009

Contracts and deals can be effective behavior management tools, in the home and in the classroom environment. When used effectively, deals and contracts can reduce behavioral problems, keep attention focused, and help teach one of life’s critical lessons: work = reward.

Soapstone – now accepting applications for writing residencies

Those who have followed me for the last couple of years know of my great love for Soapstone, a women’s writing retreat in the coastal mountains of Oregon where I have twice been honored with a residency. During my first residency, my housemate was Brittney Corrigan-McElroy, and as they say in Casablanca, it was the beginning of beautiful friendship. Brittney was recently named Executive Director of Soapstone, which is part of why we look so darn happy in the photo on the left, at the annual work party last month.

I know by the stack of books and manuscripts on my desk that many of you are aspiring writers. I can loudly attest to what a period of solitude in the woods can do for your writing energies. 

The application period for Soapstone residencies is now open. Applications postmarked between July 1 and August 1, 2009 will be considered for residencies starting November 2009 to November 2010.

Learn more about Soapstone and download application forms from their web site:

Call for articles for next issue of  Healing, from editor Pat Sullivan:

The focus for the next issue will be autism. We would like to hear from parents, educators, clinicians or anyone else who has information to share with our readers. The limit is 1,200 words, and we will be requesting bios and a photo of authors whose articles we use.

For more information contact:

Pat Sullivan
Editor, Healing Magazine
4085 Independence Drive
Schnecksville, PA  18078
610.799.8340 | Fax 610.799.8001

Meet my readers: People in your neighborhood

Following are some groups and organizations who have contacted me recently. These groups are all actively involved in supporting families living with autism. I hope some of you can hook up with these People in Your Neighborhood:

Open Doors Tennessee is committed to providing inclusion opportunities, resources, accessibility information and new programs for families of individuals with disabilities. Programs include a social skills summer camp in July.

The Korea Rehabilitation Fund conducts research, PR, training and rehabilitation projects to provide support to such projects, promote international exchanges, share useful information among local organizations, and ultimately contribute to specialization of local rehabilitation services and extension of welfare services for the disabled person. KFR is marking its 20th anniversary this year by funding the translation and distribution of Ten Things Every Child Your Student Wishes You Knew to families in need.

REENA (Thornhill, Ontario)
Reena is a non-profit social service agency dedicated to integrating adults with developmental disabilities into the mainstream of society. Established in 1973 by parents of children with disabilities, Reena enables people with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential by forming lifelong partnership with individuals and their families within a framework of Jewish culture and values.

Mackay Autism Support Group sends out a monthly newsletter and the Autism Queensland site offers education, therapy and support services.

Linda Hodgdon, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, well known in the autism community for her expertise in visual strategies,  is the publisher of Autism Family Online, a membership site for families and educators offering information and resources to help them meet the challenges of autism. The goal of the site is to present best practices, sound, high quality, state-of-the-art information related to education and other topics of interest to those who support individuals with autism. This multi-media site shares contributions from many authors to provide the readers with a variety of topics, viewpoints and philosophies.

VSCA, established in 1970, offers monthly meetings where members can get a chance to talk with other parents, hear the occasional guest speaker, and sign out books, DVD’s, OT equipment and educational materials from a lending library. A monthly newsletter offers updates on the latest happenings at VSCA and in the Victoria area. There is also a small pool of respite funding available to members. VSCA holds several workshops each year on autism-related topics as well as a range of social activities for children of all ages.

College of Education, Exceptional Student Education

PRDA, established in 1973, provides therapeutic horseback riding to individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Close to half of current riders have a primary or secondary diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Newsletter archive on my website

If you are new to our newsletter community, please visit the newsletter archive on my website and browse some popular past features here.

June 2009: For my dad, for all dads / On My Soapbox: Tragedy or Opportunity? / The Difference Between Heaven and Earth

May 2009: Ellen’s Archive: I Sound Like My Mother – I Hope! // Mixed feelings about Autism Awareness Month // Vietnamese translation of Ten Things // Hyperlexia literary journal debut issue

April 2009: Right on the Money// Encouraging playground interaction                                  

March 2009: On hiatus

February 2009: You Said It: Your favorite articles in 2008 // A Readers’ Favorite: Three Little Words

January 2009: On My Soapbox: The Less the Merrier for 2009 // Winners quit, quitters win

December 2008: On holiday – see you next year!

November 2008: Interview: Autism and the Holidays

October 2008: Childhood Obesity: is it abuse? // A-(scavenger) hunting we will go // Happily ever after, in real life

Book excerpts on website

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
from Chapter 8: Please Help Me with Social Interactions

Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew
In its entirety, Chapter 3: I Think Differently

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
from Chapter 2: The Limits of My World – Visual Strategies

The Autism Trail Guide: Postcards from the Road Less Traveled
from Postcards from the Homefront: I Sound Like My Mother – I Hope!

If you’ve read my books and feel inclined to share your thoughts with others, please consider posting a review on my book pages at It’s easy to do and you don’t have to post your real name.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone you feel might share an interest in our kids with autism. New subscribers can sign up at here.

©2009 Ellen Notbohm | Third Variation Strategies

A Tombstone Tells Its Story, Strikes a Chord

More Reads

Soapstone writing residencies

Call for Articles

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Newsletter Archive

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This month’s Facebook column: Run Ragged – a happy case of “be careful what you wish for”

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Autism Asperger’s Digest 10th Anniversary Special – last month!1 year (6 issues) $19.95 plus $5 s/h. 50% off regular price of $49.95. Subscribe any number of years at that rate, via our all-new website or phone 1-800.489.0727 

Article links in this issue

A Tombstone Tells Its Story

News chronology: A Tombstone Tells Its Story

A forgotten crime in Mayville

Sharks and Minnows

Run Ragged

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