Sunday Confessional: I’m not feeling very neighborly

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 . . .

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

Ready or not here I come

It’s a new week and I’m in fake-it-’til-I-make-it mode. There are seriously messed up things happening on the planet and my gut instinct is to stay in bed reading books and eating toast for the rest of my life. But that’s exactly what all the horrible people out there wreaking havoc right now want; they’re counting on wearing us down so that we start averting our gaze.

Nope. Books and toast are good, but constant vigilance is essential.

Today I’m gonna make like a prairie dog . . . and keep fighting the good fight.

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.

Worth one thousand words

Couldn’t find artist or location of this graffiti.

This image pretty much sums it up:

(1) right now I can’t bear to hear/see/speak about the latest atrocities committed against the planet’s most vulnerable by the world’s most powerful and (2) imperialism and insatiable greed are the two constants behind all U.S. military actions.

We’ve seen this movie.

Martin Luther King Jr: the subversive edition

Martin Luther King Jr. (Wikimedia Commons)

“We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.

(Go here for other quotes from  MLK, eloquent dissident.)

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?

Bunny Monday with a hint of peril

I miss seeing bunnies on my lawn and haven’t snapped a photo of one in a while, so went to Pixabay in search of an image. There were many wonderful photos, but this one jumped out as a fitting representation of our political predator-prey dynamic:

Rabbit, Run!

Need more goat

Cute goats,

I beg-your-pardon goats,

and goats that recognize revolution’s a-comin’ and they’d best get out of the way or risk getting mowed down by angry mobs.

Thank goodness I still have access to a free internet and all its goat images.

Sunday Confessional: Everything is making me sick and I’m taking a break

Today I went through my email and unsubscribed  from every political, environmental, and news organization that sends me updates, action alerts, petitions, pleas for money, links to never-ending bad news, etc.

I’m worn out and run-down. Exhausted.

Between the constant assault on the planet and the constant assault on the most vulnerable/powerless people of the planet, I’ve had enough. (Note: These assaults aren’t new, just more blatant than before.)

I’ve fought the good fight for many years, and I know I’m needed now. But I also know I’m no good to anyone or anything if  I’m not healthy. So I’m temporarily changing my status from Activist to Inactive.

Today I’m taking action for me.

I plan on watching lots of cavorting goat videos.

Thinking globally while head explodes locally

Zippy and I just returned from a city council candidates’ forum. We heard from the three candidates running for one of the two seats in our ward. It was my first time attending a ward function.

Ugh. Our neighborhood ward is essentially run by a cabal of older, reactionary people.

Know what? After fifteen minutes trying to arrange my thoughts in a coherent manner for this post, I give up. I can’t bring myself to rehash their disrespectful, clique-ish behavior or the dog whistle language they use to work everyone into a fear-based lather. It pissses me off too much.

Instead, I’m going to escape into my fiction. Some of the characters in my novel are also horrible people, but I ultimately have power over their lives. If I want to load them all on a bus and drive them over a cliff, I can do that. In real life, not so much.

Radiance: a work in progress

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.

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…)

Like this Northern Flicker, my feathers are ruffled

And it’s starting to feel as if those feathers will be in a permanent state of ruffle. It’d be awesome if we could drag all the cave people back to their caves, slide boulders in front of the entrances, and starve their mean-spirited carcasses to enlightenment.

A bird woman can dream, can’t she?

 

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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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Warm Cookies of the Revolution

This morning I joined my friend, Sarah, at an event put on by Warm Cookies of the Revolution. Warm Cookies bills itself as a Civic Health Club, and while Sarah has participated in numerous events, today was my first.

The topic: The Science of Effective Resistance by Erica Chenoweth

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This was the opening slide: Presentation prepared for Warm Cookies of the Revolution: The Science of Effective Resistance Erica Chenoweth Ph.D

When Sarah texted me the invite I went to the site to read up on the talk, and saw that it was about nonviolent conflict. My first thought was, “Screw that. We need to be in the streets with torches and pitchforks, and maybe burn a few cars while we’re at it.” (Yes, I am incredibly frustrated with the timid response from the “opposition” party.) But I value Sarah’s judgment and wanted to spend time with her today, so I thanked her for the invitation. And off we went.

Here’s my takeaway: Erica Chenoweth has done the numbers on violent vs nonviolent campaigns of resistance. And guess what? Nonviolent campaigns have a higher success rate. There are a variety of reasons for that but the one that went ping in my head was that acts of violence can (and probably will) turn off active allies and potential allies. Imagine that!

Her research shows that all successful nonviolent campaigns have three things in common:

  • mass participation
  • defections from the ruling regime
  • the use of flexible tactics

Hey, looky there! We’ve got two out of three going on right this very moment!

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What it means to be an artist

To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.
~ Akira Kurosawa

zoey-averting-her-gaze

Yes, I absolutely agree with Mr. Kurosawa. Art calls for the unflinching truth. However, sometime’s I’m with Zoey and just want to avert my gaze. Sometimes it’s just too damned much to process.

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