Thankful Thursday: tongue firmly in cheek edition

Today I am thankful for the continued political pressure that will surely be applied to the Democratic party which now holds the executive office plus majorities in the House and Senate. I am thankful for all the “resisters” who for the past four years were laser-focused on the many, many wrongdoings of the Republican party and who will now aim that righteous energy at the Democrats so they will enact bold policies to save the people and planet. Today I am thankful none of those resisters will tune out and go back to brunch now that the loathsome Tr*mp is gone and the Democrats control everything.

June 12, 2019

Truthfully? Today I’m mostly thankful for this White-crowned Sparrow photographed at the Bockman Campground in State Forest State Park.

Peering out

I feel a kinship with this robin peering out from the vegetation and wish I could hunker down in a like manner. I dread what comes next. Neoliberalism cannot defeat white supremacy because the two are deeply entwined. I believe this is what’s known as a recipe for disaster.

American Robin in Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020.

I wouldn’t fault anyone in search of a four-leaf clover right right about now.

‘Merica, amirite?

On our way up the street for a hike in the open space (our much-needed break from the coup attempt by the terrorists** white nationalist fascists), I was disappointed but not at all surprised to see this sign still prominently displayed in front of a house:

In case you missed it, this sign loudly proclaims POLICE PROTECT US and
VIOLENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Sure, dude.

I can’t help think about how Standing Rock protestors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline were hit with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets during the Obama administration.

Or how over the past year of historic protests and marches for Black Lives, militarized police forces around the country brutalized protestors.

Or how almost exactly one year ago, 37 climate activists and I were arrested and jailed for singing a song outside the Colorado chamber as Governor Polis (Democrat) gave his State of the State address. We later learned from a former CO state legislator about an incident in which a spectator yelled a death threat during a legislative session. That person (a white male) was merely escorted from the building. No handcuffs. No fine or charges. No jail time.

What’s happening today as the entire world watches? Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists** white nationalist fascists who broke into the capitol.

This isn’t a shock. An armed militia entered the Michigan capitol in April 2020 , legislators in session wearing bullet proof vests, and nothing was done about it. Violence has not only been tolerated, but encouraged, throughout our nation’s history. This country was built on genocide and white supremacy, and only certain kinds of dissent are allowed. The police only protect a certain demographic.

Same as it ever was.

** edited to replace my use of “terrorist” after reading this tweet:
https://twitter.com/bodega_gyro_ao/status/1347245711482646530
absolutely not my intent to amp up the “war on terror” with added policing, surveillance, etc. that would target other groups

Twofer Tuesday: shadow edition

I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.

Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):

         

So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to  lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?

Psst, it ain’t 2020’s fault

People are understandably eager to say goodbye to 2020. I have no issue with that sentiment. However, I do take issue with the belief that the many horrific things we experienced this year are because the year was cursed.

December 13, 2020

I hate to be Debbie Downer, but it’s the system that’s killing us. Not 2020. And the only real difference starting on January 20th is that there will be a veneer of civility as the machine continues to grind us down. People are starving, being evicted, and collapsing under debt. That inhumanity will continue.

Last May, when Biden was considering VP candidates, Senator Kamala Harris co-sponsored legislation to give everyone $2000/month for the duration of the pandemic. This past week, there was a movement to increase the single survival check from $600 to $2000. The VP-elect did absolutely nothing to make that happen and, in fact, yesterday, voted to squash the filibuster that might have forced the loathsome Mitch McConnell to hold an up or down vote on a one time $2000 check. And what about the president-elect? Did Biden put pressure on the Democrats to fight for us? Hell no.

Joe’s out there hawking inaugural memorabilia:

Look, here’s a medallion you can pre-order if you AND your partner pool your $600 survival checks:

What about that record-breaking $740 BILLION defense budget they passed yesterday? Well, that included $1.3 BILLION for Trump’s border wall. Remember the border wall? The one that so greatly offended the Democrats? Hate to tell you, but they’re fine with it.

It’s one big club here in the ol’ US of A and we ain’t in it.  Please stop blaming 2020.

Gaining daylight!

Yesterday was the winter solstice which means it was the shortest day of the year. As of today, we’re gaining daylight. I know I’m not alone in welcoming that boost to our collective morale. When I called out a “Happy Solstice” to a neighborhood friend today, he tilted his face to the sun and pumped his arms.

I went in search of an appropriate quotation for this post and decided upon the following which, in light of the president-elect’s role in inflicting austerity on the masses via the latest covid “relief” legislation, feels very spot-on:

We must not fear daylight just because it almost always illuminates a miserable world. ~ Rene Magritte

But at the same time, more daylight allows more bird sightings.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, December 13, 2020.

I refuse to allow the greedhead bastards to take away all my joy. Happy Solstice!

Insult to injury

We’re eight months into a pandemic. Over 300,000 have died. Millions have lost their employer-based health insurance. Millions are facing food shortages while food banks struggle to meet the overwhelming needs.

Did our elected officials come together this week to provide every person a monthly check? Did they vote to provide Medicare for All? Did they cancel student debt? Of course not.

Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. September 18, 2020.

Last week they voted for a $740 billion defense spending bill. This week they’re generously offering We the People $600 each, up to $2,400/household.

When will we finally rise up?

#Caturday with Loki

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind.  ~ Cleveland Amory

Loki on November 20, 2020

And we’re really stretching their feline patience these days. Come on, human kind. We’ve got to do much, much better.

Ready, Set, Go!

Face the week
Embrace the challenges and opportunities
Agitate for a better world
Fight for someone you don’t know.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

Confession: I’m still in my pajamas and am working from bed today.
Gathering my strength for Ready, Set, Go!
I’ll be there soon, I promise.

Thankful Thursday: 5 items, yo!

Black-billed Magpie in open space. March 31, 2020.

This morning, for the second day in a row, I got up and ran on the trails.

Black-billed Magpies perched on yucca alongside the trail and flew ahead of me as I chugged along, bringing smiles and lifting my spirits.

I’m excited to regain the strength and endurance I’ll need for the many fights ahead on behalf of the people and planet.

Day by day, I’m inching closer to FINALLY understanding my protagonist in my new novel project. That’s the good news. The bad is there’s a very good chance the 4k words I’ve written thus far will end up in the trash and I’ll be back to 0 words. However, I’m feeling more solid and at peace with this newer understanding.

While knotty writing problems sometimes amp up my frustration, they also take my focus and provide a refuge from our current (and future) reality. Hooray for an inner creative life!

Mood

Having trouble focusing today. Still haven’t started my NaNoWriMo writing and just had a mini-meltdown. However, the universe then gifted me this robin in our birdbath and for several minutes, I aimed my camera and forgot everything else.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

This attitude? It me.

Feeling all out of sorts

My strategy to escape reality by burying myself in fiction-writing has already hit a bump. I wrote my 1000+ words today for my NaNoWriMo project, but I don’t like those words or where they’re taking the story. It doesn’t feel as if I’m capturing this character’s voice or have a particularly strong grasp of her arc. I know it’s early days and that these things change and change again along the way. But still. Not a great feeling.

My one consolation is that because there are BIG SCARY things looming in the very, very near future, maybe, just maybe, I can chalk today’s icky writing session up to all that?

Either way, I really hope to find my fictional refuge soon.

My state’s on fire

American Robin. December 16, 2019.

This photo was taken last December, but it feels fitting for today because the robin is looking to the north. As I write this, people are being evacuated north of here due to the East Troublesome Fire that exploded from about 35,000 acres to 127,000 acres after 60 mph wind gusts last night. The fire jumped the Continental Divide. Rocky Mountain National Park is on fire. Homes are burning. East Troublesome Fire is currently the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado history.

Colorado has been on fire with multiple wildfires for the last four months but I’m told I must vote for the presidential candidate who believes climate change is real, yet keeps telling us he opposes a Green New Deal and won’t ban fracking. I’m told I must help the Democrats reclaim the Senate by voting for the candidate who drank fracking fluid and opposes a Green New Deal. It doesn’t matter to them that I’ve spent much of those past four months inside as my lungs can’t handle the smoky air; I owe them my vote.

I’m angry and exhausted and just about cried out.

Solidarity with workers

Everything is produced by the workers, and the minute they try to get something by their unions they meet all the opposition that can be mustered by those who now get what they produce.               ~ Harry Bridges

 

The Senate is currently conducting a farcical SCOTUS confirmation hearing (during a pandemic, while several Senators are COVID-positive) for a woman who will do the bidding of the powerful elite: crush the working class. The Republicans are seeing the culmination of their decades-long plan to stack the courts with anti-worker judges who will forever change the face of this country. The Dem party pretends to resist but they are equally comfortable with this outcome because they aren’t either jobless or working 2-3 jobs to scrape by, nor are the Dem elites starving, facing eviction, saddled with astronomical medical debt, or living in frontline communities as the climate crisis worsens. This latest SCOTUS judge will consolidate their wealth and power. All’s well.

It’s way past time we rise up.

Foliage and fury

I took this photo almost exactly one year ago, a fair representation of what the contoneaster in my yard looks like right now. So why didn’t I just step outside to get a current picture? Because it’s smoky. Still. And I don’t want my lungs burning. Again.

October 7, 2019

I can’t emphasize enough how damaging these months of Colorado wildfires (not to mention the fires raging throughout the western US) have been not only to the environment but to our collective health, both physical and psychological. Trapped indoors while the climate crisis worsens and those in power do absolutely nothing to avert worsening disaster. Colorado has a Democrat governor and Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But hey, Vote Blue No Matter Who.

Anyway, Happy Monday.

Never happen in the U.S.?

Before the military coup in Chile, we had the idea that military coups happen in Banana Republics, somewhere in Central America. It would never happen in Chile. Chile was such a solid democracy. And when it happened, it had brutal characteristics. ~ Isabel Allende

We’re so confused now, focused on “is he/isn’t he” which gives them time and room to maneuver. They wouldn’t even need the military because there’s an army of white supremacists on standby.

I realize this makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, a paranoid crackpot. But this isn’t a solid democracy, not by a long shot.

#Caturday mood

Marcel and I are in solidarity with anyone else chewing their nails and/or shredding their cuticles today. I’m not so much nervous about what’s going to happen as pissed by the knowledge that the Democrats will handle this latest end run by the Republicans in their usual spineless fashion. The Democratic establishment only plays hardball against the left.

September 14, 2020

The one piece of good news is that I’m pretty confident I won’t be coughing up a hairball. Marcel? Not a given.

 

(ETA: for my own historical reference, I want to note the Senate approved five judges just this past week with the help of the Democrats who during the Obama years passively accepted MANY judicial vacancies at the hand of Mitch McConnell.)

This is a climate emergency

August 15, 2020

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?     ~ Henry David Thoreau

Zippy took this photo last month and while today’s air quality isn’t nearly so orange, I’m not spending any time outside. The local air quality index reads “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” I’ll go out on a limb and say I think this translates to “the air is unhealthy for everyone and everything.”

Exceptionalism?! All over the United States, people are hiding indoors to escape the ravages of the climate crisis. And our elected officials don’t care, so it’ll only get worse.

Nostalgia

State Forest State Park.              June 12, 2019.

June 2019 seems like a lifetime ago (hell, February 2020 already feels like historical fiction), and I just spent time looking through photos from one of last summer’s camping/hiking trips. I remember how hot it was in the Bockman Campground when the sun rose in the sky and how happy our doggo was every time we came upon a patch of snow during our 8-mile hike. I remember waking up to a moose grazing next to our tent. I remember photographing this old building, thinking that with a little fixing up, it might make a nice place to spend my days.

We didn’t camp this summer. We’ve only hiked in the nearby open space. Until this country gets its collective act together, it seems I’ll have to make do with memories.

Let it snow

February 7, 2020

Colorado continues to burn and those of us living along the Front Range are being told to create “safe rooms” with air purifiers.

It was undoubtedly a stupid thing to do, but Zippy, Emma, and I walked early this morning. We’ve been trapped inside for days and couldn’t take it any more. I wore my mask and we walked at a leisurely pace. No heavy breathing as we went up and down the hills of our neighborhood. Partway through the walk, Zippy remarked on the thick air and put on his mask. Overall, we felt okay.

Just now, though, I stepped outside to get the mail. I was only out about thirty seconds, but as soon as I came inside the coughing started. I’m now closed off in my writing room with the purifier. The coughing has subsided but my lungs are burning.

Colorado had a Senate candidate (Andrew Romanoff) who centered his campaign on the climate crisis and a Green New Deal. He understood what’s at stake in this climate emergency. So how did the Democratic establishment respond? Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) stepped in to crush Romanoff in the primary and prop up the oil and gas candidate (John Hickenlooper). Thanks to their interference, this November I’ll have the “opportunity” to vote for Hickenlooper (and Biden). Basically, a ballot filled with candidates who’ve  made it clear they don’t much care about the people or the planet.

The most I can hope for at this point is that the wildfires are contained by the general election.

Eviction is an act of violence

This pandemic continues to expose the many holes in our inhumane, capitalism-obsessed society. We’re about to see an enormous surge in the numbers of people who are unhoused. Those figures were already shameful and they’re about to become catastrophic. For the last three days, I’ve worked with the Denver chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) as a housing advocate offering support to those facing eviction. The stories I’ve heard made me scream, rage, cry, and cry some more.

Image by Rusty Gouveia from Pixabay

Silly me, I thought it made sense to encourage an elderly couple infected with covid to emphasize their health issues during their eviction hearing in order to buy time before they were forced to move out. Wrong. I listened in yesterday during their virtual court hearing as the husband described the difficulties of his health issues and then reminded the judge that it was against public health and safety to put covid-positive people out on the street. Was the judge affected by this sound argument? Not at all.

The good news is that their eviction notice/notice to quit was served incorrectly and now the process starts over. That will buy the couple time to, I hope, recover before they’re forced from their home. That’s considered a victory in this hellscape reality.

I’m waiting to hear back from a young couple who had their eviction hearing this afternoon. There are three generations living in that apartment and the family has been desperately searching for a new place to live ever since getting their notice to quit. There’s nothing out there for them.

Tomorrow is the hearing for two brothers. One lost his job at the start of the pandemic, but the other still had a job with reduced hours which allowed them to hang on by a thread. Then second one lost his job when the employer couldn’t hold on any longer. Their unemployment benefits took so long to be processed they are now facing eviction. They spent all of July looking for a new home but, surprise surprise, no one wants to rent to two unemployed people.

In both cases, the tenants had always paid their rent on time and tried to arrange payment schedules during this hard situation. Didn’t matter. The landlords are determined to kick them out in the street during a pandemic.

We are a broken society. There is nothing great about a country that not only allows this kind of abuse but intentionally puts laws on the books that inflict trauma on its citizens. Eviction is an act of violence.

It is way past time to rise up.

Colorado’s on fire: we need a #GreenNewDeal

I live in Colorado. There are currently four wildfires burning around the state. Here’s a tweet from a Colorado journalist this morning:

I can usually see downtown Denver from my front yard. The last few days the buildings have been obscured by a smoky haze. Right now, I can see the tops of some buildings. But that “good news” is deceptive. I just spent about ten minutes outside, thinking it was okay because there wasn’t a strong odor of smoke. Wrong. I’m now coughing and my lungs are burning.

Just over a year ago, I participated in our Sunrise Movement hub’s first art build. We gathered to create a banner to pressure the Colorado Democratic Party to vote for a presidential debate focused solely on climate.

Our first art build on July 24, 2019. Boulder, CO

Our pressure worked and the representatives for the CO Dems voted YES to a climate debate. However, Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee shut down our voices. There was no climate debate during the presidential primaries, despite the fact that the majority of people in the U.S. want meaningful action on the climate crisis.

Only two presidential candidates (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) included serious climate plans in their platforms. Bernie’s earned an A- from Sunrise Movement. The presidential candidate the establishment contorted themselves to install as the party nominee? Well, Joe Biden earned an F-.

My state’s experiencing a years-long drought and record-high temperatures and is literally on fire right now. Except for Rep. Joe Neguse, none of the Colorado congressional delegation supports a Green New Deal. The Democratic representatives all understand that climate change is real, but unless they push for bold and meaningful action, they are no better than the climate deniers in the Republican party.

Meanwhile, Colorado burns.

All hail the king

Western Kingbird. Grand Island, NE.   6.2.20

The U.S. Senate just adjourned until September 8 without passing a stimulus package. They’re going back to their comfortable homes and lives, oblivious to the pain and suffering of the peasants. If we’re going to be ruled by an entitled aristocracy, I’d prefer to bow down to a feathered king.