Saturday, November 14, 2020

Home and Ashore

The goats are alright. The chickens are alright. The cats, too, are alright. In fact, they are better than alright. Our pets have been such bright spots, giving us food, affection, distraction, laughs. I think about this everyday, about how happy, even relieved I am, that we had pets going into this Stay at Home Season, and that their care and well-being has kept us occupied, that their antics, and the narratives we create around their personalities are happily shared between us, and with friends. They have made our lives richer.

I ordered a therapeutic quantity of seeds from Renee's Garden, which I admit probably means too many, but I had fun sharing them, and now I have begun planting our winter garden. I definitely shopped with my emotions, so flowers will (hopefully) out-number veggies, about 2 to 1! I ordered Nigella and Corn Flowers, Poppies, and Scabiosa. Just the names were enough to tempt me... Grandmother's Pincushion, Persian Violet, Love in a Mist. I brought armloads of expired plants from the garden beds to the goats and chickens. Old corn stalks, and bean vines, faded calendula, some dandelions, and raggedy tomatoes. The goats and chickens take it all as a buffet and kind of sensory experience... they scratch, peck, nibble, tug, devour, and for me, the gardener, it all becomes mulch, and compost, and good soil. I love this cycle, and cooperative farming method. With old stuff cleared out, I am making room to get those seeds in the ground, including peas, beets, carrots, spinach, and some of those flowers.
We are making more ventures out into the world... sadly, just as the COVID numbers are rising. We have practiced an abundance of caution, and will continue to keep our distance, wear masks, and take care. It's nice now, though, to have quieter days on the local beaches. We have enjoyed some long, beautiful walks. On this particular outing, I had a hard time moving forward without stopping to take one more picture. We watched a pelican in flight, scanning the water, then dive swiftly into the water. That is awe inspiring, as pelicans are kind of other worldly, and the dive is dramatic. I think the last shot, of the sunset and pelican is other worldy, too... the lens flare, or whatever we call that blue orb, could be Neptune in some improbable orbit. I love it.

Friday, November 13, 2020

More To Say

So, since 2016, I've been wrestling with how much to say on the subject of a former reality television personality, and I admit, I didn't want to get involved, then I didn't want to sound alarmist, and of course I really wanted to believe his bid for the White House could not possibly amount to anything. Some people let me know I did say too much, that I was being alarmist, and disrespectful, naive, a buttercup. Those people were wrong, and in some cases they were the fragile buttercups. I should have said as much as I cared to, as much as I dared, because all the while I have been observant, reasoning, judicious, and earnest, and emotional, and the failed businessman has been genuinely deplorable. That anyone ever gave him a chance, heard him out, respected his points of view is a failing that will cost us for a generation, or more. Probably my biggest advantage as a blogger has been my obscurity, because I have not been trolled (much), nor admonished, unfollowed (much). But if anyone asks, if anyone takes issue with my posts, with my IG account and stories, where I post support of Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, and I celebrate Indigenous identity, accomplishments, where I am Political, then I hope I would be as eloquent and succinct as Gabrielle Blair is in her post, Hey Trump Supporters: I Don't Make Content For You. The thing is, I must add, so much of this is not actually political, but moral, a matter of justice, decency, and I will not tolerate choices that demean, degrade, and discriminate against people.

"At least this time," I declared to Geoff, as we waited for the election results to post,"I won't waste my time offering olive branches, taking the time to listen to, and sympathize, with those 'poor, white, rural, good souls who have suffered at the indifference of East and West Coast elites.' Because that was utter tripe." Seriously. After fours years of witnessing what this administration and its supporters have to offer, it's evident enough: It offers lies, corruption, treason, impeachment, racism, hate, embarrassment, disgrace, and backwards acts against the environment, human rights, and our health. We are no greater, we are not winning, and every single time he committed a new gross deed, I heard from the people we were asked to care for, and they were pleased, thankful because it was all they wanted, to make liberals cry, to be free to say whatever crossed their brains, however low, base, cruel, or hateful. My time and energy, my concern goes to everyone else... to everyone not being racist, not pushing conspiracies, and hate, to the victims of systemic racism, to the disabled, and uninsured, for BIPOC, and for the environment, for anyone trying to make a living, and letting others live. We have lives, and stories, too! It happens that Rebecca Solnit recognized the cognitive dissonance two years ago. Her essay in LitHub, "Whose Story (and Country) Is This," is another good read. It opened my eyes, addressing the feelings I have carried around with reason, and evidence. I think her article pairs nicely with a newer piece, by Mahshid Hager, "An Open Letter to the Racist Half of America." We are America, too. Yes, and I want our stories told, listened to, respected.

I would like to thank Melissa, of Julia's Bookbag for the links to some of these articles, and for many more leads to thoughtful, inspiring, fun, and good blogs, tweets, recipes, etc. And yes, some of it, thankfully is political!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Small Steps Forward

At first, Maria and I carried down a doll house and boxes of our collected and handmade miniatures and dolls, even her original bumbies, the Calico Critter family she carried everywhere in a small, cardboard suitcase. We set all of this up across the mantle, with Cairo's help. Then! Then I realized that playing with the doll house, moving cows, and decorating the small rooms, will be easier if we move it all to the floor, or a low table. I cleared the mantle, again, and suddenly I had an obsession for evergreen branches. I thought of the storm, and the possibility of fallen branches, so I convinced Geoff to join me on my quest, a second bike ride to find any fallen pine greenery.

Cairo was most insistent... no Christmas wreaths before Thanksgiving. He knocked it out of the doll house every time. I was going to say something about cats being so silly, but we were silly too... so amused about him batting the wreath, and replacing it over and over again.

It's been a while since we do anything with this doll house, and occupants. This makes me want to make more dolls, both the doll house scale ones, and smaller ones. And I miss hand sewing, too... embroidery, clothes making, quilting. Maybe part of what I enjoy about miniatures is the small scale allows me to dabble in many interests at once.
Kiki and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have been in this curio cabinet for a few years. It's time to refresh their surroundings, too. Gigi looks as though he would like to come down from the fence.
Anyway, I took all the minitaures down, and set them on a small side table, next to the fireplace. We can sit in front of the fire, and play with them there. And Geoff and I rode for ten miles, collecting pine cones, and some really nice pine branches that we found fallen from the wind and rain that came through. Alex helped me arrange everything, with our flameless candles, and the bunny lantern. Jennifer's doll quilt has been in the doll house, but I think it looks very pretty with the evergreens and soft lights.
In my usual fashion, I am putting togther a random, and rambling post. I hope someday to look back and recall that I was both joyful about the election results, and anxious; waiting for signs that the losing candidate will concede, that none of his behavior nor threats will amount to actual treason. I hope to look back and sigh with relief that we overcame these trial, that we have become a better nation, a just nation. It is almost surreal seeing our worst fears daily come to pass. It is almost surreal to play, to wash dishes, to think of the holidays, when terrible things are transpiring, and threatening our democracy. It is deeply concerning how many people I know that are actually immersed in spreading Q-onspiracy Evangelism and cultish ideology. Yes, there is every indication that the healing and reasonable engagement we hope to foster, the path forward, away from hate, and delusion, will be rocky, indeed. I'm sad, and scared. I wish there were fewer hardships and challenges facing all of us at once. I would so like to gather with friends, family, neighbors, and cook together, share our skills, make things, hold hands.

Monday, November 09, 2020

To Oregon and Beyond

"Joy does not betray, but sustains activism." ~Rebecca Solnit

November 7

Sunset pictures from the seat of my bicycle. Pinch me... this is one of the views I am blessed to enjoy when peddling around on one of our six or ten, or twenty mile rides. Eighteen months ago, if you'd told me I would be riding my bike six days a week, for at least six miles, sometimes at night, a few times all the way into town, to the beach, I could not have believed it, or even wanted to imagine it. It still makes me anxious, and even on the twenty mile rides, it's only many many loops on the same quiet streets, away from cars, and loud noises. But twelve or twenty miles is still a lot, even if I'm getting nowhere. Sometimes William rides with us. Usually it's just me and Geoff. He calls me on the phone, a funny gesture for two people constantly at home together, and he asks "Are we riding?" Or I step into his office, and ask, "Are we athletes?" Our street and neighborhood were once very quiet, but these days lots of people are out, and many of them are riding the same make of e-bike. Geoff has a knack for being one step ahead of these things.

Incidently, and I've been meaning to write about this: I am not getting nowhere, because I am riding to Oregon, then Boston. On paper, anyway. So far, I've peddled 1,737 miles of neighborhood loops. From here, to my Mother's home is roughly 1,059 miles. I spend long spells figuring things out, imagining a typical day, wondering how I would manage the more challenging aspects of an actual bicycle ride to the Oregon Coast. For instance, if I rode twenty miles a day it would take me about 53 days to finish the trip. Of course, if riding to Oregon was my one occupation, I like to think I could get in more miles than twenty. Could I ride 40 miles a day, and sustain that pace for 1,059 miles? Then I'd be there in less than a month. Sometimes, in my wild head, I cheat... like, for instance when I imagine riding a bicycle through Los Angeles, (shudder) so I hop on the train instead, and disembark in Ventura. How would I fair in San Francisco? I think if I mapped the route along the coast, on the Coast Highway, it will be more miles, but wouldn't that be wonderful, I mean the sights? Tecnically I've shot past Mom and Dad's house, even if I do take the long way. And I wonder about riding directly from Oregon to Boston, or if I should begin, again, from home. I'm not sure. And I pull up a map. Oh, bliss. It's clear, on first glance: Riding east from Oregon lines me up nicely for stops in Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and that is irresistible. Wow! Not detouring for my Midwest favorites, and it's still a whopping 3,262 miles from the Oregon Coast to Jennifer's house. I am short by about 2,900 miles. Hmmm. Very well. I am not in any hurry. And it's way more compelling to imagine the stops along the way than just racing to the end. What I would love is a map feature that tells me destinations that are a fixed number of miles away from where I am presently. For example, I am in Coos Bay, Oregon and traveling toward Southborough Massachusetts: Where would I be if I rode my bike 637 miles? Incidently, I am never bored.

Where should I stop? What should I see? And should I bring a tent, and all manner of survival gear, or just a credit card, tooth brush and fresh change of clothes? So many variables. So many possibilities. I still think I will keep it more fun, than daring, so that train ride through Los Angeles is not negotiable.


All of my intentions, and all of my efforts, around not being consumed by the election, by anxiously waiting for the results... were helpful, but not foolproof. That was a hard, long, tense wait. Which night was it, Tuesday, Wednesday? when I went to bed steeling myself for four more years? I couldn't stand the possibility, but unconditional hope is a tough mindset for me to muster, let alone maintain. I am cycnical (yet, almost paradoxically naive. Something in me just can't help looking for good.) I think trauma has made me believe that reserving hope and confidence protects me from feeling crushed by disappointment, but my higher thoughts, the ones I am always trying to live by... they have proven that living half-way, fearfully, doubtfully, is a slow crush, and leaves little room to breath, to let joy permeate. Hope was never going to be enough, though.

Stacey Abrams portrait by Dan Winters, Photographic Systems.

To confront corruption, injustice, to call out the bad players and hold them accountable, to meet the challenges of this election, it would take hope and work, hope and vigilance, hope and strategy, stamina, support, intellect, and registered voters. Lots and lots of registered, succored voters for a Fair Fight. We have had amazing and dedicated people acting boldly, conscientiousnessly, for the welfare of democracy and voting rights, most notably, Stacey Abrams. I am looking forward to watching the documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy, and learning more about what she and others accomplished, and to be reminded that the problem of voter supression is never solved for good. Going forward, we have work to do to keep the right to vote in the hands of all citizens, especially Black, Indigenous, People of Color, the poor, anyone without influence. "We should not live in a nation where your access to democracy depends on your celebrity, your wealth, or your ZIP code," Abrams said in an interview with NPR.
And so, while I waited, I thought about what more we could do, no matter the outcome of the election. Four years ago, through shock and dismay, we resolved to counter anti-environmentalism with installing solar, and to meet all of the bad faith, racist, petty, and hurtful acts of 45 and his admiministration with expanding community outreach through STEM mentoring, and Making, and increasing our political activism, education, and support nationally, and locally. Those were commitments we took to heart, and stood by. Yes, I resolutely re-affirmed, no matter the outcome, we will stay this course... defending voter rights, being anti-racist, supporting the causes of justice, and especially continuing to share our personal interests in bringing science, technology, engineering, art, math, and music to our communities, to inspire young people, to recognize their innate intelligence and wonder.
Maria came into our room, Saturday morning, tears streaming down her cheeks, smiling, and eager to share a song, a musical anthem she has been listening to... We got the power to be loving each other. No matter what happens, we've got the power to do that. And I was overcome with emotions I had no words for, and it happens that someone else had those feelings, too, and he did find the words for them... Thank you, Van Jones. I feel able to look my own daughter in the eye, see her innate intelligence and wonder, and tell her, We got the power to vote out hate, to register voters, to make PPE, to practice science, to be ourselves, and respect others, and to elect a new President and Vice President of the United States who have integrity, who believe in possibilities. Once again, and as always, character counts.
Fellow Americans, our President and Vice President elect, are For All Americans. We the people.