No implements of destruction

Yesterday I got zero writing done on my work-in-progress. I was enraged and exhausted by news and events. Late last night I fell asleep wondering whether, in the face of relentless misogyny and violence against women, my idea for a middle-grade novel narrated by a boy was what I should pursue. Maybe, I thought, I should abandon that story and instead write a burn-it-all-down book filled with pitchfork-wielding girls.

Well, I’ve spent the last several hours analyzing and fleshing out the beginning outline for my boy-based work-in-progress and have decided it’s a GO. Not only am I moving ahead with this story, I’m kinda excited about the plot lines. My main character won’t be fighting the power structure, but he is a decent human being.

In today’s climate that’s worth a lot.

Families Belong Together

I went to the Families Belong Together rally today at Civic Center Park in Denver. Turnout was high and I was grateful to be surrounded by so many outraged and engaged people. We heard music and the stories of immigrants from different parts of the globe. I cried. When the emotions felt too overwhelming, I focused on the signage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get to hug my son

Zebu in summer of 1998

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I’m feeling especially grateful. He (and our other son) spent their entire childhoods with Zippy and me and while those years certainly held challenges, we remained intact as a family. The four of us were never forced to seek asylum, we were never denied refuge, and our children weren’t ripped from their parents’ arms. That kind of unspeakable trauma was never part of our lives. Not because we’re exceptional or more deserving, but because we were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. That’s it. Sheer luck.

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I get to hug my son. I’m weeping for those who can’t.

Thankful Thursday: people-and-places-in-my-head edition

I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I’m very grateful for my creative life.

For the past few days, I’ve immersed myself in a work-in-progress project I’d had to put on hold for much of December while working on another, and yesterday told Zippy I’d fallen in love with the manuscript all over again. I’m grateful to love the work I do.

Today my gratitude is more specifically about the refuge my fiction provides.  Admittedly, it’s not an impenetrable fortress. Earlier, I had to make a shaking-mad phone call to my House Rep’s office after learning about his pro-NSA surveillance vote and I just hopped onto Twitter in time to read about Agent Orange’s racist and hateful remarks about people from Haiti, Africa, and Latin America. The very act of writing that out has me so agitated, I’m now chewing at my cuticles. Clearly, the people and places in my head don’t keep the ugly at bay 24/7.

BUT.

I do have an outlet when the current reality feels too horrible to contemplate. And I hope that’s true for everyone, whether it’s watching goat videos or smelling sweet puppy breath or welding sculptures or hiking or drumming or blowing raspberries on a baby’s chubby tummy or resting in a pool of sunshine or . . .

Please, do whatever it takes.

Still standing

Wildebeest, Zebu, Tracy, and Zippy on this New Year’s eve.
It’s been a hard year on the planet, but we’re still upright.
There’s definitely strength in numbers, and I’m grateful we have each others’ backs.

Happy New Year to you and yours.
Here’s hoping we kick every ass that needs kicking in 2018.

Anguish and Outrage

This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.

As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.

How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?

Souvenir of the day

My writing often contains souvenirs of the day
– a song I heard, a bird I saw –
which I then put into the novel.
~ Amy Tan

Thinking back on my writing day, I didn’t include a snippet of song or any bird images. Instead, I referenced a heartbreaking news item about a ten-year-old girl with serious health issues who has been caught up in this administration’s xenophobia-on-steroids policies. Tomorrow, I’ll try hard for a bird.

American Crow for president

Solitary crow seen through my kitchen window, December 2015.

Every time I see or hear a crow, I smile.
I stop what I’m doing so that I can watch what it’s doing.
Because, crows are smart.
How smart?

Crows sometimes make and use tools.
Examples include a captive crow using a cup to carry water over to a bowl of dry mash; shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food; and breaking off pieces of pine cone to drop on tree climbers near a nest.

Crows are that smart.
Wouldn’t smart be a nice change?
Also? Crows maintain extended families and communities.
And wouldn’t responsibility to community feel really nice right about now?

This random image feels very apropos for today

I woke this morning to a long to-do list. The bad news is that I haven’t checked everything off the list. Not even close. (I ran, I walked Emma, I figured out some characterization and plotting stuff for my work-in-progress while walking with my dog, I vacuumed one room, I scrapbooked a whole bunch of photos and then cleared off the dining room table that’s been covered with photos and scrapbooking materials for the past couple months, I took advantage of our recent rainstorms and weeded for 30 minutes, and I put out clean towels for Wildebeest who will be back home tonight. YES, IT’S HUGELY GRATIFYING TO LIST THE CHECKED-OFF ITEMS HERE!) So, while I didn’t accomplish all I’d hoped to accomplish, I kept very busy today.

Being busy kept me offline. That’s really good news. Because the one time I took a breather and checked Twitter, I discovered that Agent Orange has been swinging his tiny manhood at North Korea.

Who cares about an unfinished to-do list when a psychopath is threatening nuclear war??

Remember the Vasa

I photographed these carved figures with my phone while visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and have held onto the bizarre image for months as I waited for the right time to display it here.

Today feels like an especially good day in the Corporate States of America to share these figures from the Vasa’s prow.

I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
[The Vasa] was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

Militarization.
Privatization.
King’s ambitions.
Dangerous instability.
Greed and arrogance.
Epic failure.

The Vasa sank after traveling just 1300 meters.

Today I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking.

(NOTE: As a writer, I’m also thinking about how there’s truly no such thing as an original plot line. Greedheads gonna be greedheads, from the beginning of time…)

Koi: further proof that orange can be beautiful**

Writer-friend Sarah and I went to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday. She has a membership plus a special key fob that allowed us in the side gate to the gardens. We walked and talked through the gardens, pausing on the little deck to gaze at the colorful koi. Bonus: the dark one in the lower left of the photo has delightful whiskers, and I highly recommend clicking on the photo to enlarge.

We didn’t feed them (nor have I witnessed anyone feeding them during any of my visits), but that didn’t stop the koi from gathering below the deck and puckering their lips in anticipation.

** My ongoing project to reclaim the color orange, helping me remember that it can be a thing of beauty and not just a hideous spray tan in the White House.

 

Asking for a friend

Let’s say you were contacted to write a 48-page children’s non-fiction book in a series about World Leaders. You may or may not be interested in taking on the project when you see how low the work-for-hire payment is, but there’s a possibility you’d at least consider it.

Okay, now what if that 48-page children’s non-fiction book in a series about World Leaders was specifically about the current White House occupant?

Is there any dollar amount that would get you to YES?

No longer worrying my pretty little head

Just brought in today’s mail that included this:
cover

What the what?! A paperback in my mailbox? A book without author or ISBN? A book seemingly focused on end times?

I searched the rest of the mail and found this:postcard

Oh, cool. God’s got my back. What a relief to find out I no longer need to worry about Agent Orange & The Billionaire’s Club!

Whew.

 

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Vermiculture or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Worms

These days there isn’t even the option of pretending not to see the bad things being done to the planet and its inhabitants. Agent Orange and the Billionaires’ Club are taking what was formerly done on the down-low, cranking it up a couple hundred notches, and shoving it in our faces. Anger, anxiety, and despair (just to mention a few) are running high. I’ve made tons of phone calls and sent emails, and while those are important tasks, I’m not feeling overly swell about my influence on Washington, D.C.

Enter the worms.

Back in mid-December, I blogged about nabbing some free wooden drawers off Craigslist. I wanted them for worm bins. And now, after lots of reading and research, I’m pleased to say Zippy and I have converted some of those drawers into worm bins.

bins-with-lids

Zippy did all the construction. He drilled holes in the bottoms of the bins and ventilation holes on both sides. Then he lined the bins with shade cloth.

ventilation-holes  bin-interior

I prepared the bedding using newspaper, phone book, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and an ancient newsprint drawing pad that I must’ve brought with me from North Hollywood (via Santa Rosa, Bakersfield, and Anchorage). Yes, I sometimes lean “hoarder.” But hey, isn’t it cool that the worms are benefitting from my issues?!

bedding-supplies

Bedding supplies

bedding-preparation

Shred, shred, shred some more!

On Saturday, we went to pick up our two pounds of worms from a worm farmer in the Denver area. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic documentation of our worms’ homecoming because I was focused on getting them out of the cloth sack and into their prepared bins. But here’s a fair representation of what those worms looked like when I released them from the sack:

compostwoms

And here’s a quick and slightly blurry overview of the bin in use (didn’t want to dawdle since worms are light-sensitive):

bin-in-use

The worms are working away in the damp shredded paper, etc., beneath a damp “blanket” of newspaper. They’re eating our kitchen scraps and their bedding. They’re helping me feel less horrified about my footprint on this planet.

Today the Senate voted to confirm a wealthy, unqualified, anti-public school fundamentalist to head the Department of Education. I had no influence over that vote. I do, however, have control over my worms’ well-being and my household contribution to landfills.

 

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