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.
This morning I met my pal Laura Perdew in Golden where we walked the paths next to Clear Creek. It was sunny, but cold and windy. After we adjusted, though, it was absolutely beautiful. We walked and talked. Walked and took in our surroundings. Laura spotted a duck on the water, a species neither of us recognized, and I lamented that I’d forgotten my camera. Later on, we circled back to where we’d started from and there was the duck again. These photos were all taken with my phone. I had on my prescription sunglasses that are polarized and couldn’t really see anything. Basically, I held up my phone and optimistically clicked away.
The above image on the left shows two mallards on the ice while the duck we didn’t recognize paddled about. (We later identified that paddler as a hybrid Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye, a perfectly stunning specimen). The Goldeneye is also in that photo on the right which was captured as I blindly clicked away.
These ice photos were taken from where I sat on a boulder in the sunshine, so very happy to be out in the natural world. I swear I could spend hours looking at ice formations.
It was a glorious morning and I’m going back there soon with my camera. Clear Creek is balm for my soul.
(Note: Right before waking this morning, I dreamt I was out in public and realized I’d forgotten to wear my mask. As I fumbled to put it on, I realized the throngs of people around me were all mask-less. I called through mine in a panic: “Where are your masks?” I was ignored. Fortunately, I’m pleased to report my real life experience was totally different and probably 95% of the people I saw today wore masks.)
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!
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?
I took this photo last March, at the beginning of the quarantine.
Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, March 20, 2020.
Little did I know what was in store for everyone. I’m quite sure I stood at the window that day, focusing on the scrub jays and bushtits visiting the feeders, knowing the best and healthiest path forward was to seek out beauty and moments of quiet joy.
I hope this scrub jay is still alive and well. I hope the forecast for snow this weekend comes true (because Colorado needs moisture). And I hope I never stop seeing the beauty around me.
I’ve got strong feelings about ALL SORTS OF STUFF right now and felt a rant rising inside me. But as I tried to pin down exactly what I wanted to convey, I paused and reconsidered. Maybe what I really wanted to do was post about the writing life: the process, my progress, the angst and insecurities, etc. I’ve written many such posts over the years and appreciate that documentation which reminds me I’ve been here before and survived. Breathe, Tracy.
Which is how I began searching through Douglas Adams quotes, knowing he wasn’t an angsty guy but would provide me with the tone needed today. And here’s what resonated with me:
My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees. ~ Douglas Adams
Why does this resonate? One: it cracked me up. Two: I can relate to those young sloths because Three: as I near the end of this first draft, I vacillate between an overwhelming sense of ineptness and glimmers of “hot damn, this might actually not suck too much!”
And at the risk of sounding like a sloth-shamer: I haven’t yet fallen out of the tree.
American Robin. January 21, 2020.
A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long. ~ e.e. cummings
Each morning, I play loud, upbeat music to help me get going (one of my go-to songs is What’d I Say by Ray Charles) and yesterday it worked like a charm. I was singing and dancing as I washed my face when suddenly, the reality of what we’re enduring hit me. I froze, staring at my tear-filled eyes in the mirror. I felt a crushing weight, the despair pressing down on me as I remembered all over again that we’re truly on our own. Then I blinked away the tears and sang more loudly. When one day at a time feels like too much, I take it one breath at a time. That’s how I cope.
Squirrel friend out my window. November 20, 2020.
Please take care of yourselves and hang in there as best you can. My enduring hope is that we the people will rise up together to demand better. In the meanwhile, sing, dance, or do whatever carries you through those especially tough moments.
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.
Marcel rehearsing his scary face. January 25, 2020.
People in the neighborhood are being creative with their candy offerings. One house has a long tube running from an upstairs window to the driveway. I think the trick or treaters are supposed to shout in the tube to make candy come down. Another house has a catapult. We’re setting out candy on a table in the driveway which isn’t nearly as creative, but it’s still a fine chocolate-delivery system.
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.
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.
I sat down to blog about porcupine quills and my dear old husky, Flaco, when the group chat for the eviction defense group blew up. Why? Because it looks as if the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is preparing to issue a federal evictions ban effective September 4 –December 31, 2020, for those making less than $99,000/year.
Chat reactions were variations of “this would be amazing!” I wholeheartedly agree. As I also noted in the chat, it’s an indictment of our society that we’re viewing a common sense and humane move as “amazing,” but that’s how low they’ve set the bar.
Renters and those with mortgages are still liable for back rent, penalties, interest, etc. It is definitely a good step, but because it doesn’t include a cancellation of rent and mortgage, people are going to be hit hard at the end of the year.
Scroll down to page 34 at the end of the document for the DECLARATION UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY FOR THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION’S TEMPORARY HALT IN EVICTIONS TO PREVENT FURTHER SPREAD OF COVID-19. This must be signed and given to the landlord.
Forget the porcupine quills, I’m going with a red rose.
I keep meaning to write a funny post about magpies and the neighbor’s dog, complete with lots of photos I took several days ago. But my energy level’s still not there (in large part because we haven’t been able to open windows today due to wildfire smoke which means the house is approximately two hundred degrees).
Instead, I went to Pixabay and found a photo that made me smile.
I hope these little pigs also bring you a smile.
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.
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.
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.
This is a slight exaggeration.
My horns aren’t quite this long.
(Confession: I just spent approximately one thousand minutes perusing free goat images on Pixabay. Fellow goat-lovers . . . proceed at your own risk.)
This spent phlox is a pretty accurate representation for how I’m feeling today.
August 6, 2020
But just as this hardy perennial will gather its resources in order to bloom again in the future, so will I. Hopefully, it won’t take me until next summer to do so.
Two days ago, a neighbor a couple houses up the street started flying one of those TR*MP Keep America Great flags. It made me ill. Yesterday, the house across the street from that flag-flying home displayed their own Keep America Great flag. Today? The house next to that second house is sporting a Tr*mp yard sign.
I can’t even.
Shall we begin with the fact that this country, built on genocide and slavery, was never great for a whole lot of people? Or the blatant transfer of money and power to the already rich and powerful? Maybe the rollback of environmental regulations and climate denialism? The deployment of Homeland Security to crack protestors’ heads and shoot them in the faces? Or maybe the 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per day? Etc., etc., etc.? Great, indeed.
My reaction to the neighbors? I wanted to fly an Antifa flag, but Zippy worried the ignorance surrounding that message would result in violence directed at us. So what was his preferred message? F*ck Tr*mp. While I approve that sentiment, this moment is much larger than that loathsome individual. Negotiation ensued.
I’m pleased to announce I found a message we’re both happy to display.
I also ordered an Earth flag to replace the one we displayed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many people in our neighborhood fly U.S. flags and I doubt they’ll even see past all their red, white, and blue, but that’s okay. An earth flag will help me remember we’re all in this together.
ETA: Here’s something from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Does any of this sound familiar?
I started the quarantine with only about eight checked-out library books that I read *sob* and then held onto for months until my library system started accepting returns again. While I did download a few ebooks this spring, I don’t enjoy that format, and instead concentrated on my bookshelves. The bad news is, I’ve already read most of what I have at home. The good news? I don’t mind rereading books.
This past week or so, I’ve reread three Raymond Chandler novels featuring Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep; The High Window; The Lady in the Lake) and two Rex Stout novels featuring Nero Wolfe (Might As Well Be Dead; Death of a Doxy).
Witty private detectives + murder = self-care.
Today’s been exhausting on multiple levels: personal, professional, societal, and human-on-the-planet. I just took a much-needed nap and am now posting this burst of yellow as a reminder of all the beauty in our world.
July 12, 2020.
Next on my self-care agenda? Scrubbing out my kitchen sinks.
Please do whatever you need to take care of yourselves.
I’ve had to revisit Dr. John Sarno’s mind-body connection lately due to ongoing vertigo. After three weeks of living at a tilt, I had an epiphany and realized it was my brain trying to distract me from the many emotions I’m experiencing during these difficult times. My brain thinks I’ll be better served if I’m focused on bogus sensations rather than doing the helpful things that help me manage my anger/anxiety/fear, helpful activities such as trail-running. Since the onset of this dizzy bullshit on June 9, I haven’t run on the trails. Because what’s scarier than rocks and roots sticking up on narrow , uneven trails, hoping to trip an already-tippy me?
I’ll tell you. A three-foot snake across the trail.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
How do I know? This morning I finally went out in the open space. (note: the vertigo has greatly subsided since I caught on to my brain, but things are still off.) I’d only run about 20 feet from the trail head when my right foot came down close to an enormous snake. I let loose with my customary profanity as I jumped left. The snake didn’t acknowledge my presence, but my heart still pounded as I watched it slither along. No rattling. I now think it was a bull snake, but I didn’t lean in to verify whether it had slit-like pupils (rattlesnake) as opposed to a bull snake’s circular pupils. I will say that I had a whole new pep in my step when I started running again. Adrenaline can be a beautiful thing.
During my three-mile run, I also saw rabbits on the part of the trail we call the “bunny run” and later on kicked up a flock of magpies. The Spotted Towhees were also out in force, singing their “sweet-sweet-teeeeaaaa” songs. It was wonderful being there again. My pace was slow but my spirits were high.
Take that, brain!
Question for this crowd:
do you oppose fascism
or only the masks?
I’ve been struggling and I know I’m not alone. We in the United States have been told in very clear terms that we are on our own. Our government serves the wealthy and powerful, and that’s it. We the People get crumbs while the elites party on.
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels
Mental health is a huge issue for many, many people right now. Life’s always been a tough row to hoe, but this pandemic has upped the ante. I’m fortunate in that I have my writing. The middle-grade novel I’ve worked on for the past eight months has been my lifeline. I am very grateful for this project. However, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my agent by the end of the month. And then what? Each time I think of COVID minus a writing project, my anxiety surges.
So here’s my official statement to the universe: Hellooo, I am open to new story ideas!
Square Top Lakes hike. August 28, 2019.
A lifetime ago
laughing, talking on the trails
little did we know