Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. ~ Douglas Adams
The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).
As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).
Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.
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.
And no one wears it better than this dapper Northern Cardinal.
Today’s mail brought something fun:
A packet of Pentagon rolling papers from presidential candidate Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, is running for president (and last month his campaign offered these papers in exchange for a donation). These papers are meaningful because while a Senator in 1971, Mike read a portion of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. He believed the public had the right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War.
It’s true that Mike Gravel is an older white man. But, he’s also the most antiwar, anti-imperialist in the field of candidates and we need him at the Democratic debates. We need his perspective and brutal honesty. In order to qualify for the DNC debates, Mike needs 65,000 individual donations. I’m imploring everyone reading this to donate $1 each to help him reach the quota.
Mike Gravel is against endless war. Both wars for oil and the so-called “war on drugs.” We need Mike’s honesty and passion on these issues during the debates. Please join the #Gravelanche and make a donation today.
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.
Last night the Boulder/Denver hub of the Sunrise Movement held a town hall meeting on the Green New Deal. It was organized by the two young leaders who worked their tails off to put it together. I’m the group’s token Baby Boomer (my words, not theirs) and was proud to assist Michele Weindling and Nick Tuta as I could. We had over 100 people show up on Memorial Day, many of them young people who care so deeply about the climate crisis they dedicated their last evening of the long weekend to activism. Impressive and humbling.
As I listened to the speeches from young activists and watched the Green New Deal presentation that included the many, many challenges facing young people today (decision to not have children due to climate crisis, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and tight job field, etc.) I teared up. And when those same speakers declared their resolve and refusal to back down from their demands for real action on the climate crisis and environmental equality/justice, I wept some more.
These young people aren’t going to take No for an answer and politicians best wise up. They either need to Step Up or Step Aside. We need a Green New Deal.
Please support the young people in their efforts for a sustainable future and contact your representatives to demand they co-sponsor this aspirational resolution. Thank you in advance!
So many people in my neighborhood have signs in support of candidates and policies that are destructive and greed-based. Candidates who want nothing more than to strip away our health care. Strip away protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Strip away health insurance coverage for young adults under their parents’ plans.
I tried explaining my family’s health care needs to a kind neighbor displaying a campaign sign for one such candidate, telling him it was hurtful to see that sign in his yard. He listened to what I had to say about my family’s medical needs and how that candidate’s policies would change our lives for the worst. He listened and then said he’d talk to A and D, two men in our neighborhood. Well, apparently my female opinion wasn’t enough in the face of men’s opinions because my neighbor still has the sign for the candidate backed by the Koch Brothers in his yard.
Then there are the many anti-Proposition 112 signs in the neighborhood. All of them saying it’s more important to save a few oil and gas jobs in Colorado rather than protect the health and safety of its citizens. Every time I see one of those signs I wish I could put a drilling rig/fracking site on their front lawn. It’s so easy to vote against public health and safety when you’re not at risk. There is zero chance we’ll ever have oil and gas operations in our neighborhood, so fuck everyone else around the state, right? Not to mention how insane it is to ignore the fact that the planet is on a crash course to extinction due to fossil fuels.
I apologize for venting here. I just wish my neighborhood was filled with people trying to behave less like ignorant greedheads and more like Mister Rogers. I’m gonna go back to my fictional neighborhood now . . .
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.
The only two things you can truly depend upon are gravity and greed.
~ Jack Palance
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.
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?
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?
Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen –
that stillness becomes a radiance.
~ Morgan Freeman
It’s been a hard week, stillness and radiance-wise. Every day, I’ve called the soulless Senator Cory Gardner regarding his votes on the health care repeal. His staffers don’t seem to be taking calls anymore and so I’m forced to leave messages. Confession: I don’t give good voice mail. Even under the best of circumstances, I’m prone to blithering-blathering-wandering messages that spend way too much time in the ditch before I yank the steering wheel and get the call back on the pavement. Today I shouted my entire message at Senator Cory Gardner. However, I did not curse.
Come to think of it, the last time I swore during one of those calls was a couple months back when I reached an actual human. That young man told me if I cursed one more time, he’d hang up on me.
Maybe I’m actually making progress with this whole radiance thing.
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…)
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.
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.
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?!
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:
And here’s a quick and slightly blurry overview of the bin in use (didn’t want to dawdle since worms are light-sensitive):
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.
I just removed this sign (h/t Bob Herbert) from the back window of my Prius. It’s faded from approximately six years of sun exposure. I put it in my car after attending the Democratic county assembly in March of 2010 that was nothing more than a lovefest for Obama. It wasn’t cool with me that the Democratic party was overlooking the horrible policies it’d (rightfully so) shrieked about during the Bush/Cheney years once it was a Democrat enacting those policies. I was disgusted by the lack of spine. I taped the sign in my car and revoked my membership in the Democratic party. I became an Unaffiliated voter.
Here it is, nearly six years later, and we’re facing a loathsome soon-to-be president whose election was largely enabled by that same spinelessness. The corporate Democratic establishment opened the door to this nightmare and, because Obama doubled down on many Bush/Cheney policies, shit’s about to get real in a way many people didn’t see coming.
Right now it feels as if I could cover my Prius windows with signs and it still wouldn’t be enough to address the realities of Agent Orange. But whatever signage I adopt, it can’t be all about him. That madman exploited the situation put in place by people who were/are supposed to be the opposition party, and right now I’m not seeing a whole lot of spine.
I just hope I’m not the only one calling them out on it.
And as I looked at that slightly freaky, somewhat off-putting creature, I pondered the connection for today. Clinging? Holding on for dear life? Prayer? None of those resonated with me so I did an online search for “praying mantis facts,” and found my answer:
Instead of running away from a threat it will stay put and try to look bigger. It will raise its wings and raptory arms and try to stand as tall as possible. Maybe even rocking from left to right to seem more intimidating. Does it work? Actually, it does! Animals that are not particularly interested in eating the mantis or have not yet experienced this are a bit suspicious of a prey that does not run away.
In light of the current political freak show and our soon-to-be bully-in-chief, aka the Circus Peanut, I think we should all take a page from the praying mantis.
No running away!
Stand as tall as possible!
No running away!
And, if necessary, rip the bastards’ heads off and devour them.