Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Audacity of Hope

 The title of this post is, of course, from the book of the same name by President Barack Obama.

  I'm writing this today from a country that used to be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  A country where respect and common decency used to be the norm. Now it's a place where a militia type Federal police force made up of a gang of thugs (made up mostly of security forces from the border where they hate anyone who isn't white already) . I remember  the shootings of students by National Guardsman at Kent State and how the entire nation was shocked to the core by the killings at a war protest. Now it's a country where people are being pulled off the streets and dragged into unmarked vans and whisked away. (Does any of this sound familiar ?)  Now it's a place where a long respected heroic BLACK congressman dies and the POTUS refuses to attend the funeral. And then refuses to put the flags at half mast and then does for half a day (amid backlash) and then removes it again.  Now it's a country where the  Administration incites hate and racial unrest every time he opens his mouth.  The latest is his stirring up shit among white suburbanites and publicly rescinding affordable housing acts put in place by the guy that wrote this book. 

  How did we go from an educated, literate compassionate president to this monstrosity that is in the WH now ?  This man whose gibberish is impossible to understand ? Who can't speak in full sentences ?  A man who declares bankruptcy over and over, neglecting to pay his bills, lying and lying and lying some more. And then claims to be a successful businessman who is going to "help" this country get back on it's feet. (Which, btw, was not "off" it's feet until he took office and started screwing with International trade relations, screwing over American farmers, and the hundreds of other things he has done to line his own and his cronies pockets.  

  There are no ethics, no integrity and no soul in our government anymore. We have turned into Hitler's Nazi Germany. This once great country of ours, forever a beacon of hope and good in the world, is now a sad laughingstock. And the ones that aren't laughing are shaking their heads in despair and fear.

  I can't decide if I am going to post this blog  or not. I am so despondent over the state of things here.  My inclination is one of 2 things: to completely withdraw from the world and stay here at home on Honeysuckle Hill doing what I can to prepare for the crash that is coming (or already here-- food shortages, outrageous unemployment, civil unrest)  or get my old fat happy ass out on the streets and scream until something changes.  I guess you know which one I'm choosing.  I screamed about Nixon. I screamed about the Viet Nam war, I screamed about Reagan and I screamed about Bush (es).  I have laryngitis of the soul from all the screaming I have done in the past.  I am tired.

  But... today is a sunny Sunday and I am contemplating making some kind of dessert.  And maybe a low country boil (because that's fun).  I am considering the idea that meditation and prayer might be the only things I can do these days. Living with intention. I despair over the people I have known who think this is all great or funny or whatever the hell they think. The ones that harbor as much hatred and fear and racism as the man in charge of this country does. They probably really need my prayers, but I have a hard time not closing my heart to them. 5 years ago, if you asked me if those kind of people were actually in my life, I would have said, no--of course not.  The people I am friends with are not like that.  Turns out many of them are.  And it breaks my heart.

  I am stopping here.   Maybe I will post it, maybe I won't.  But I feel better having gotten some of it off my chest.  I think I'll work on straightening up my little living space and listen to some soothing music. My soul is tired...

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Pretty sure it's a sign of the impending apocalypse...

   Is it just me ?  Good grief.  In all kinds of situations and circumstances, I am finding myself shaking my head in bafflement and bewilderment.  I try to stay away from the news, except for a once daily update on important things.  The people around me are acting like complete morons, while Covid numbers are rising all around. There have been 4  cases of it at my husbands job... and one guy has a newborn baby, and mama and baby have both tested positive. 2 of the guys were at a kegger together last week.  One thought he was just feeling hung over. I went to a store this morning that has big signs saying, Face Coverings Required, yet 1/3 of the people in there did NOT have them on and no one said a word to them.  I read that there were 4 dead and 26 hospitalized in Arizona after drinking hand sanitizer. WTH is wrong with these people ??  Today I was on a cooking site that I visit from time to time, and a woman asked if anyone knew any other way to cook broccoli besides IN THE OVEN , because it is too hot to run her oven for 45 MINUTES.  WHAT ?????  I have never in my almost 68 years on this planet heard of cooking BROCCOLI in the oven.  And my God, certainly not for 45 minutes !!!  People asking questions like, how do you cook noodles ??  WHAT ???    My head is about to explode.

  It's been stupid hot here, with outrageous heat indexes tacked on.  It's too hot to go outside and try to do anything, not much better in the house, where the poor central AC cannot keep up.  My electric bill is thru the roof. I shut everything down at night, but it runs for 12 hours.  We have been having days of intermittent storms and that cools it down to about 80 at midnight. Also waters the heck out of all the giant weeds growing in my front yard. They grow so fast you can't see where any weed whacking was done. The mower is still in the shop.  I'm living in an overgrown meadow, for crying out loud.  The trash pandas (raccoons) stripped my peach tree, so if I want peaches I'm going to have to buy them and they're running about 15 dollars for a half peck. Outrageous.  But the prices of everything have gone up and even things on sale don't seem like sale prices now. 

  I am pretty stocked up.  I have plenty of masks and gloves and hand sanitizer and wipes and toilet paper.  I need to stock up some dog food and cat food, but it's been readily available so I haven't worried too much about it. My food storage is in pretty good shape. We won't starve for awhile. But I have to tell you... I'm more than a little concerned about people.  Not having basic cooking skills is abhorrent to me.  Thinking none of this is going to affect you, is unbelievable to me. The complete lack of consideration and the selfishness of not caring what happens to anyone else as long as you aren't inconvenienced is so alien to my way of thinking that I feel like I am drowning in despair. 

  I'm going to bed now, with high hopes that I will feel better in the morning and not so snarky and exhausted.  Another hot one on the books, but I will do everything I can to stay cool.  Got everything done today that needed doing, so, there's that.  I even cancelled 2 appts, one medical,  one opthamologist, because I don't know if we should be in quarantine or not.  Neither appt was a life and death deal, so I rescheduled them both. Yay me.  Really didn't feel like going to St Louis.  Or seeing people.  lol

   So, don't worry about me.  I am the eternal optimist.  Here's your smile for the day...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Independence Days...Covid 2020 Edition ...


   Back in the good old days of 2011, I posted several times on the idea of keeping things stocked up and about a book I was reading by a woman named Sharon Astyk. The name of the book is  INDEPENDENCE DAYS.  As fortune would have it, I was able to take an online class she was holding about food storage and preservation. I am better than a lot of people about this kind of thing, and have been a long time.  But she taught me invaluable things and gave me a new perspective about it all.  Rereading my posts from when I was awash in gardens and chickens has made me almost  melancholy tonight.  But Sharon (with a little prodding from her fan base) has started up the Independence Days challenge a time when many of us are fearful of what the future holds. Of course, some of us have been living this lifestyle all along, and others are looking to learn it.  The "challenge" was to report every week on what you have.been able to do (or not do, in some cases)... 

Plant or Harvest something: Not everyone can garden, but many people can, and many others can forage for local greens or fruit, or be involved in gleaning.
Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season. This category also covers preserving and protecting local resources, community resources, things that would otherwise be destroyed. So it counts when you make jam and counts when you work to keep your local drug counseling service in business despite budget cuts.
Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count. Also dumpster diving, salvaging and repairing items.
Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term. Making yourself more economically secure. Paying down debt, finding new sources of income, reducing expenditures and costs, increasing savings. Also reorganizing so that you waste less or use less or spend less.
Eating the food: It is a running joke among gardeners that it is harder to eat the food than it is to grow it sometimes. Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage! Also, using up food pantry bounty and other food you don't get to choose. Creative use of leftovers, and helping feed others - everything from little free pantries to sharing with neighbors. We all want to know what you are cooking this week.
Caregiving and enhancing community support systems and mutual aid. This can be formal organizations that already exist or working with your neighbors, or caring for your own family members. This includes fundraising, volunteer work, helping out your neighbors, advocacy for better supports and services, political activism, anything you do to make your community a better place. Whenever you step up to protect and care for those who can't do it for themselves, you are doing incredibly important work. Of course, this includes homeschool, helping out senior and disabled family members, helping out people with kids, etc...
Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a barn, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as teaching calculus to your kids. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff. It doesn't matter if you'll ever make money at it (although that's good too) if it helps you get along, grow, make our new reality better, you should be proud.
Winter is Coming: Finally, whatever you do to make your home and immediate surroundings better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years. What does your home or your life or your job need to make it viable? How are you going to continue to make your home and religious and cultural and family life worth living? What do you need to improve things for yourselves and your neighbors? What are you doing to get ready if things don't get better, but instead get worse? You don't have to believe we're all doomed to hedge your bets on this one.
Hope you'll join me! You are welcome to share, repost, whatever you like. This is one of those "more fun if more people do it" things.

So, there it is.  I have pulled my book out too (That's the cover photo here), to spend some time looking at what else I might need to do. I am going to try to shore up my food stocks, and not forget that I also have some 4 legged family that needs to eat. My garden areas are unusable right now but I vow to have them back in order by next year.  In the meantime I can buy produce from other gardeners and farmers markets and at least spread my money around to people who can use it.  I also have a healthy stock of canned goods and other items from grocery stores.  

  In spite of what you might think, things have not begun to get rough.  It can get much worse than anything we've seen in our lifetimes. Are you ready ???

  A couple of years after I read this book and took this class, my husband and I were in a one car rollover accident. He is the breadwinner in our family and I was on SS.  He broke a vertebrae in his back and couldn't work for  three and a half months.  No short term disability. The company he works for were great, they let him take his vacation and holiday pay for the year. But there was no other income besides my SS.  Insurance paid for the car and much of the medical bills. It was Memorial Day weekend, so not even halfway through the year. I had already taken some measures (per the class) to cut back some of our expenses. I had food stores in place.  I took a pad and pencil; and went through my freezers and my pantries and made lists of meals I could cook with what I had on hand. In the 3.5 months, I spent exactly $37.43  at the grocery store.  For things like toilet paper and rice and olive oil. By the end of it, Old Mother Hubbard's pantry was pretty bare, but we did not go hungry or do without.  And then I thought-- this.  This is why I do this.  Not because of the Zombie Apocalypse or because I'm a doomsday prepper.  But because things happen.  And we need to be prepared for that.  And now we are in the middle of a global pandemic, which makes these things more important than ever.  Am I as ready as I wish I was ?  Maybe not.  But I have tools and I have guidelines and I have support systems. 

  I am luckier than some.  

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Rant time in the old town tonight

  It's been a couple of days.  I am outraged tonight at the stupidity of people about this Covid pandemic and wearing masks and social distancing.  Selfish, inconsiderate fools. I blocked about 15 people tonight on my Facebook page because I have had it with this bs.  I can't believe that I am letting it get to me like this, but it is.  I should be in bed. I have to get up in about 7 hours, but I needed to get this out of me or I won't sleep anyway. 

  This pandemic has already killed 5 people that I know.  The latest was my husbands barber, who had battled cancer last year and was immuno compromised.  A lovely woman in her late 40's.  We live in a fairly rural area of Illinois, a little over an hour south of the state capitol. The closest city to us is about 25 minutes north, a small city of  around 8000 people. This happens to be the town where my husband works.  A local church there has been having gatherings and services  and after the 4th of July, 25 people there tested positive for this virus.  One of those people works with my guy.  Thankfully (we hope) my guy was on vacation from July 1 through July 11. However...this person came to work for several days after the 4th sick, -you know, just a little sick. Then a little sicker every day. Then couldn't make it to work. Then was rushed by ambulance  to the hospital (from his home) because he couldn't breathe.  3 days this past week my husband worked with all the guys that worked with and were exposed to Covid by the sick guy.  The health dept is involved and I guess they will have some meetings on Monday to decide what the next steps are.  Test all the remaining employees. See if they have enough employees left to keep the plant open. In the meantime, all these men (and 2 women in the office) have potentially taken this virus home to their families. And that possibly includes my husband bringing it home to me.  He's a pretty healthy 60 year old. I am a sort of healthy 67 year old. We wear masks and we social distance and we stay home a LOT.  But now, none of that could matter.  I am trying not to lose my shit over least until we have the facts. 

  And this is why people are making me crazy tonight.  I have given up believing that we are a nation of  [mostly]  rational common sense people. That has been apparent to me the past 3.5 years. But this is in my backyard now and I have no patience whatsoever for the bullshit. 

  I promise you that I am not a generally violent person. But I am ready to throat punch some people.
And I hate feeling like this. I am not a drama queen. I am not a hysterical person.  I mostly am able to live and let live. But this is really getting to  be a deal.  You do not have the right to ignore public health guidelines which endanger the people around you.  You do not have the right to endanger others because it's inconvenient to you.  If you are stupid enough to believe that this is a hoax perpetrated by ANYBODY, then you need to go right ahead and take yourself out of the gene pool.  Please--do humanity a favor. 

  Guess I'm running out of words. And energy.  And I stand by every word I wrote.  

  Maybe I can sleep...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

This life of mine...

  I found these at Aldi's last week again finally.  I first had them about a year ago and fell in love...and they never had them again.  They are awesome pretzels.  Oh so good.  Not that I need to be snacking on anything. I have gained 13 pounds since the shut down started.  And unfortunately I don't care. I am having all kinds of old people shit going on and as much as I wish I was 27 and 104 pounds, I am not. And never will be.  So... I'll be a jolly fat person for as long as I live maybe.  Or maybe not.  

   I have to be careful because I have been having some creeping up the scale blood sugar issues.  I probably should be eating a low carb diet, but then what would I do with this ?? 

 Because it's peach season (at the grocery store. Mine are later).  I did use minimal sweetening in it, so it's tastes like a pastry full of fresh peaches.  But still...

  I had a pretty severe diverticulitis event last week and wound up at the Urgent Care for antibiotics. I was diagnosed with that little gem about a year and a half ago when I had a serious problem with pain and bleeding that put me in the ER. The big D is a goofy thing. All the things they used to think caused or exacerbated it, they have now debunked.  They simply admit they don't know. But it is extremely painful and after the initial event, I only had a couple of mild ones that cleared up by themselves in days. Until last week.  Blech. I was down for the count for about 5 days. It sucked.

  Then I had some kind of a hissy fit one morning in the shower... came out and cut off 8 inches of my hair. Didn't just cut it off, like I usually do, but butchered it beyond repair.  Tonight my personal groomer came over (lol) and did his best to shore it up and make it look presentable. Bless his heart. lol  I have hair about 1 inch long now. And it could just be that I'm in shock, but it looks completely white now. I have several very thin spots on my scalp as a result of chemo back in the 80's. So it really looks like hell.  When did I get so vain ??

  And then...  All of my life my teeth have been bad. I got no dental care as a kid. I had one trip to the dentist that I remember because I had a permanent tooth come in behind a baby tooth. It was the bane of my existence most of my life.  About 18 years ago, I had a ton of dental work done, including a bridge. Nothing could be done about that tooth... the bridge, that I wore for 15 years, caused all kinds of other problems in my mouth and as a result, some of my upper teeth are loose. I need dentures, but ... so anyway, that tooth came out the other day.  The tooth itself is small, but it left a gaping hole in my mouth. I am extremely self conscious about it.  That damned tooth, that drove me crazy all my life is gone, and now the feelings are worse.  How crazy is that ??  

  So this is my rant against aging I guess.   Isn't it funny ?  I have never been a vain person (I didn't think)  but now I am a short, fat, balding grey headed old lady with missing teeth that wants to hide under a rock.  I need to get to bed as it's almost 1 AM and I have things to do in the morning before leaving to take a friend to a dr appt.. I don't sleep well anyway, and I promised her daughter I would bring chicken and dumplings to her when I pick up her mom at 10 AM. My husband , bless his heart,  just says that he loves me no matter what.  I think it might be the peach pie talking...

Monday, June 15, 2020

When I was young...

    I can't tell you how excited I got when my son brought about 8 tons of driveway rock to my house last weekend. They raked and shoveled and worked their butts off for about 5 hours to get it all spread. ( I have a big driveway). 

  I got an extra parking space/ turnaround too.  AND a little path up to my sidewalk.  I was over the moon.

  I haven't always been like this. Getting all excited about things like gravel.  There was a time when only really outrageous things excited me.  Like the time I got to drive a boyfriends Porsche 135 mph in the desert in the middle of the night.  Or the time I flew to South America, and stayed there for 4 months, unbeknownst to any of my family.  (They knew I was gone.  I think.  They just didn't know where).  Or the time I picked up a guy in a bar because he told me he owned a sky-diving business and I wanted to do that. Always had wanted to. It was AMAZING, falling through the sky. Ahhh... when I was young. And fearless. And foolish.  Bulletproof.  Immortal.

  Now I get excited about gravel. And jams and jellies that actually set up LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO !!  Or getting 45 quarts of green beans out of my garden and canned.  Or the number of hummingbirds that grace my feeders every year. Visits from friends.  Word of cancers seemingly cured. Notes from old friends that I thought I had lost touch with.  Surprise gifts in the mail.  You know... those things.  As I start the slide into  the end of my 60's decade,  I think about that girl... that silly foolish daredevil girl who didn't think twice about taking risks or expecting the biggest best things in life.  I have traveled in my middle aged life and seen some pretty remarkable stuff.  Been all over this country and visited a few more.  Most of it was never as exciting as the first few times though, and I guess that's the way of it.  I miss the adrenaline rushes and even the chaos. Today I have to choose which things I might try to get done instead of jumping into life with both feet.  I'm tired.  And I'm starting to feel old.  I hate that most of all. 

  So... I am trying to learn to grow old gracefully and some days I fail miserably.  I stomp and raise my fists at the sky and yell... because of the limitations I have to deal with daily.  Other days I sit comfortably on the porch in a rocking chair with a new book and marvel that a) I survived my life, and b) that I am as comfortable as I am doing next to nothing.  

  It's an interesting  thing, isn't it ?   And now, having just celebrated our 28th anniversary, I am headed into the kitchen to cook another Monday night supper. I was musing the other day about how many meals I have cooked in 28 years, but it made me dizzy. lol  Tonight I have pounded and marinated chicken breasts in Italian dressing.  I will cook them on the little Foreman grill and accompany them with a quinoa salad and a steamed vegetable medley. I will take pictures of the food, with the idea that someday I might write a cookbook. And then I look at the calendar. But hey-- who knows ? I am proof that absolutely ANYTHING can happen, right ?


Thursday, May 28, 2020

I am weary...

  I am tired.  Physically and emotionally and spiritually. The world and it's people are breaking my heart and I feel like I can't take it one more minute. I have cried several times today. First it was the video of George Floyd being murdered by the police in Minnesota. Hearing him beg  to get off him, that he "can't breathe" and the cop  just leaning in harder.    What kind of human being does that to another ?  Police meant to protect and serve, murdering people every year, rogue cops getting away with it over and over. This particular officer has a long history of  complaints  of police brutality. And nothing was ever done to him about any of them. I cry for Mr. Floyd's family, and for every mother and father who live in fear of their black children going outside or walking down the street. I cry for a world so ugly and so full of fear.  Then I learned of the death of my friends baby, less than 48 hours after birth. He had a heart defect and they were all ready to have him in surgery tomorrow morning, but he started having trouble breathing and then his little heart just couldn't keep him alive.  This young family is grieving the tragedy of their loss in the midst of this crazy pandemic and the whole world is upside down. I cried through the entire tale of the birth and the beautiful baby boy and his untimely death. And I don't claim to understand the laws of the Universe or the will of God... but I see no purpose in either of these deaths. and it breaks my heart.

  I generally tend to keep a cloak of optimism around me. I wouldn't have survived life on this planet for this long without it.  I want to believe that we can be better. That people can change. That love can prevail.  And then I see the headlines of  this administration destroying Native burial grounds to build a wall. Of a lying and conniving man in the highest post of this country who has used this presidency to line his pockets and those of anyone who may be useful to him. Who spreads hate and division on a scale never before seen in this country.  And I cry for democracy. And I cry for the poor.  And I cry for myself. 

  And so, Thursday has been my Day of Grief.  I feel like I am losing hope. I feel like I can't do enough to appease my activist heart.  I feel like no one is doing enough. I feel like I have never seen so many people blinded by their fear and their ignorance and their hate. And I don't know who I am or where I live or what is going to happen.  I try to keep my feet grounded in the day and not become so overwhelmed by it all that I am paralyzed. Or worse.  I don't want to become so angry that I don't recognize myself anymore. Even so, on days like today, I feel myself slipping away.  Where is that place people can go to insulate themselves as though it were none of their business or not their fault or giving up entirely the thought that they can do something to make a difference ?  I cannot in good conscience escape this. I cannot turn a blind eye to children at the border in camps, separated from their parents. To immigrants being turned away because of the color of their skin. To people dying because they cannot afford health care or food or shelter, here, in this richest country in the world. I cannot ignore it. It hurts my heart daily. And my heart is old. It is tired.

  I am reminded of a poem written by Wendell Berry,  which gives me the strength and grace to live another day...
The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence  of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 1999),

   So...I will have my one day of  tears and heartbreak, and I will re-wrap myself in this cloak of hope and optimism, and chant and pray and dance for better days to come.  And try to remember...