No judgment

Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. Sept 18, 2020

I’ve been driving the struggle bus lately and haven’t been disciplined about working on my latest book. In the past, I’d work hours and hours at a time on my projects, coming up for air only to discover it was late afternoon and that I’d done little else. These days, I don’t have that drive. Sometimes I’m at peace with this change. Other days, not so much; those critical voices can get pretty damned loud in my head.

Yesterday I realized it felt worse to not work on my book. So I opened the document and reworked a critical early scene between one major and one minor character. Page-wise, I didn’t make huge progress. But characterization and plot-wise, that little bit of work moved the revision forward in a significant manner. Plus, by taking action I was able to douse my angsty-guilty feelings. I hope to do the same today. However, whatever happens I’m going to try hard not to judge myself. It’s hard times on the planet and we all deserve some grace.

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.

Thankful Thursday: Clear Creek edition

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.)

So very long ago

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.

Too long

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

#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.

Happy Halloween!

Marcel rehearsing his scary face. January 25, 2020.

Boo!

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.

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.

Thankful Thursday

Hard days on the planet, yo. However, this morning I sent my revised manuscript to my agent and that feels so very good. While that project has definitely been my refuge, there were times it was hard to focus because of *gestures* everything. But after two months, the revisions are complete and I’m very proud of my tenacity (call me Tenacious T) and the finished product. Huge shout-out to all the readers who offered their insights, suggestions, and support at various stages of the process. ❤️

Blue Jay, Florida. May 3, 2019.

I’m also grateful for birds. They never, ever let me down. No matter what — watching them, listening to them, studying them — always soothes my soul and returns me to balance. More birds, please.

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.

Eviction ban on the way!

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.

Image by AliceKeyStudio from Pixabay

Forget the porcupine quills, I’m going with a red rose.

 

 

Scattered

As is typical for me these days, I had to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed this morning. After making it to an upright position, the day turned into one thing after another. Small things that demanded my attention and action, but nothing of substance. I have zero sense of accomplishment or completion.

This entire hot, smoky Monday I’ve felt scattered, unfocused, and non-productive. Weepy, screamy, and anxious. Overheated, overwhelmed, and over it all.

I wish it would rain.

Guinea pigs for the win

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.

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.

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.

Hello, Universe

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!

 

Thankful Thursday: hoopla edition

This morning I woke planning to run on the trails. Then I looked out the window and saw tree branches bouncing in the wind. Instead, I opted to hoop inside.

Hooping with my niece D in Ohio. August 15, 2019.

I haven’t hoop-danced in quite a while. I’ve attempted it a few times over the past months, but couldn’t summon enough oomph. This whole pandemic situation and the blatant desertion of working people by the political elite of both parties is exhausting. And infuriating, rage-inducing, horrific, etc. And did I mention exhausting? No dancing for this one.

Until this morning. People, I hoop-danced for 25 minutes and pretty much grinned the whole time!

Take that, you soulless ghouls. I refuse to be broken.