Signs of hope

I took this photo on April 1, 2020, but the image feels appropriate for today. This afternoon I had a productive phone conversation with an elected official about pending legislation that would greatly reduce jail populations in Colorado. I’m feeling hopeful.

Bulbs planted by neighbor who now lives in Hawaii and undoubtedly remembers exactly what this is.

And what’s more hopeful than brave flowers pushing through the soil, year after year?

Dose 1: mixed feelings

This morning I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. While I felt gratitude and relief to be halfway to fully vaccinated, I also felt anger, disgust, and shame. As with everything else in our system that puts profits over people (and planet), the Covid vaccine distribution is unequal. I’ve already blogged about some of the ways access is inequitable here in the U.S. (not to mention incarcerated people’s lack of access), but the situation is even more dire around the world.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

The global death toll is currently at 2.77 million. Human decency would dictate that vaccines and vaccine patents be freely shared.  Nope. Big Pharma isn’t satisfied with the billions they make each year. They’re lobbying the Biden administration to clamp down on countries trying to increase production. Read this article and weep. And rage.

As the needle pierced my skin this morning, I thought about this excerpt from that article:

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, mocked proposals for sharing intellectual property as “nonsense” and “dangerous” at an industry forum last year. The vaccines are netting drug companies $21 billion this year alone, according to one estimate by Bernstein Research. 

There you have it: Big Pharma scoffing at the the World Health Organization (WHO). Silly WHO, thinking people’s lives matter more than intellectual property.

So yeah, not totally thrilled to get that Pfizer shot in the arm.

Healthcare, schmealthcare rant

As of yesterday, I am eligible in Colorado for a covid vaccine. As of this moment, I’m about to pull out all my hair.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Off and on today, I checked the various sites for vaccine alerts and availability. Every single time, the listings for available appointments were always false. I’d click on the link and get variations of “There are no more appointments at this site.” But just now, I was actually allowed to select a date and time for an appointment and I thought, “This is it!” I made it through the entire process, answering all the questions about allergies, health condition, etc., and then it came time to confirm my appointment. Confirmation? Yeah, right. I got “We’re all out of vaccine.”

I’m very fortunate to be able to commit time to trying to make an appointment. I don’t have an outside job. I have access to a working computer and the internet. If it’s this hard for me to find an appointment, how in the hell are people without my circumstances supposed to get vaccinated?

They’ve had a year to get their acts together on the vaccine roll-out. But the government’s number one priority during this pandemic has been to protect capitalism at the expense of the people, so this vaccine mess shouldn’t be a shocker. I mean, they’re denying us Medicare for All during a freaking pandemic that’s killed 541,000 people so far. People are being evicted and unhoused people living in tents are being harassed by police, all during a freaking pandemic. Our well-being is clearly not the priority.

Still, I can’t help but be appalled how this pandemic has proven (again) that here in the United States, the world’s most expensive health care “system” is the least effective. More than half a million people dead . . . and counting.

Nature for the win

There are so many thoughts and feelings jumbled inside me right now regarding the climate crisis, green new deal, capitalism, greed, cruelty, political failure, collective trauma, heartache and rage, but rather than unpack all that, I opted for self-care. I just spent the last thirty minutes looking through photos from camping trips and hikes, birding excursions, quick getaways in the nearby open space, etc. It was nice to gaze upon and remember those moments.

May 6, 2019

Because I need to get outside to shovel the much-needed snow we finally got last night, I had to quit my trip down memory lane and make a photographic decision. I opted to celebrate (again) the juvenile Limpkin that allowed me to take many photos of it when I visited Kapok Park.

One bird can’t change the trajectory of the world, but this limpkin can and did soothe my soul. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Nuthatch vs. Thatcher

I decided to bless this Monday with a wee Pygmy Nuthatch and went in search of a quote to accompany my photo. Alas, brainyquote.com interpreted my “nuthatch” request as a search for Margaret Thatcher quotes. NOOOOOOOOO!

I remember gagging when the valedictorian in Zebu’s high school class (a young man I like very much), referenced Thatcher in a positive light in his graduation day speech. And more recently, I could barely watch season four of THE CROWN because it included the Iron Lady, a politician whose every mention makes me feel stabby. Gillian Anderson did an amazing job portraying that horrible woman and the heartless policies she championed, but my entire body felt like a mass of raw nerves whenever she was on screen. (Okay, I can’t resist giving a sample of Thatcher’s philosophy: “A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.”) Spoken like a true colonizer, Maggie.

Anyway, getting back to the original intent. Here’s a sweet little bird that recently visited our yard:

January 10, 2021

Happy Monday to all. Stay well and I wish everyone a good week.

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?

Speak peace

Common Grackle. Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020

As an artist I come to sing,
but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace,
and no one can silence me in this.
~ Paul Robeson

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.