The other day I saw a neighbor walking up the street ahead of me. In 2016, that white woman displayed a political sign in support of Agent Orange (something I don’t think I’ll ever forgive or forget), and when I saw her walking along in her red T-shirt I experienced a surge of anger. That red shirt triggered a stream of expletives about how she supported a white supremacist. (Poor Zippy had to endure that volcanic eruption.) Stupid mean people. Stupid red shirt.
But you know what? All the horrible racist people in this country don’t own the color red. Red is a beautiful color. Red belongs to all of us.
Cave Creek Canyon Ranch. May 16, 2019.
And no one wears it better than this dapper Northern Cardinal.
I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.
The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.
Late this afternoon I finished reading John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (later re-released as Invictus) and then took a walk around the neighborhood with Zippy and Emma. As we walked past the home with the enormous pickup truck parked in front, the enormous truck with a TRUMP / PENCE sticker in the window, I fought my daily urge to throw a brick through that window.
And then I remembered the magic Nelson Mandela wrought in South Africa. After being unjustly locked away in prison for twenty-seven years, Mandela’s heart and mind were still open wide. He paved the way for blacks and whites to reconcile their anger and their guilt so they could become one. One Team, One Country. He helped blacks and whites unite around the Springbok rugby team as it went on to win the World Cup in 1995. Over and over, Mandela’s instincts and generosity of spirit helped everyone, black and white, become their better selves. It’s an extraordinary story and book, and I highly recommend reading it.
It’s hard to admit that within minutes of finishing Playing the Enemy, I wanted to inflict my red-hot anger on the person who keeps that sticker on his truck. Instead, I’d like to keep in mind what Desmond Tutu’s friend said about the day South Africa united around the Springbok victory: “The great thing about everything good that has happened is that it can happen again.”
Time to cultivate my better self.
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
They’re so afraid of our outrage they’re barricading themselves inside. I’m not sure how much more abuse we’ll take from the oligarchy before we finally converge on D.C. and take back our power.
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.
Channeling my inner snow leopard.
Reminder to self
not all orange is grotesque
like the spray-tanned Tr*mp
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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??
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.
Greed and arrogance.
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…)
I offer these vibrant helianthemum from my front yard as an antidote to the soullessness and unabashed greed of Agent Orange and the GOP.
Remember, people: ORANGE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL AND LIFE-AFFIRMING!
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.
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?
Valley of the Gods, Bears Ears National Monument. Photo by BLM. Creative Commons usage.
Please, take a moment
for national monuments.
Fight for this beauty!
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
~ Mark Twain
From “The Top 40 Most Hilariously Wrong Exam Answers”
I hope that helped. I’m definitely feeling better.
Image from Pexels.com
Now more than ever
creatives are essential.
Can’t let ugly win.