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100,000

May 27, 2020

There are so many aspects to this pandemic worth crying over. The whole thing, all of it, is just incomprehensible. Today was a milestone day as we passed the 100,000 mark for deaths. A hundred thousand people. That number could have been far less if we’d have had steady, thoughtful leadership (which we’ll never have as long as he’s in the White House).

Though he whines and shifts blame and turns every appearance before the press into a eye-rolling grievance session, I believe that 100% of the blame for the federal government’s lack of a cohesive, humane response rests with his erratic, incompetent leadership (“leadership”).  Ridiculousness Every Single Day.  First it was nothing, then it was something but it’d be disappearing very quickly, then he was a war-time president, then he got bored with the facts (and terrified of the no-end-in-sight reality and the prospect that he’d have to really roll up his sleeves and work at this), then it became the states’ problem, and now, having “prevailed,” (we haven’t) we can aggressively reopen the country and begin our transition to greatness. “Transition to Greatness” = fancy, repeatable slogan designed for the merch market. Hypocrisy, incoherence, desperation from a fool who just cannot stay focussed for two seconds on anything that matters to humans. This whole shit show just keeps jerking along as he goes from one self-serving message to another … and it would just be another in a continuing list of things he’ll never get right, except that people are dying — 100,000 of them — families and lives are destroyed, and he cares not a wit because for him it’s about propping up his fragile ego, poll numbers, stock market and ensuring his reelection. Only.

Like I mutter to myself every single day.. I just cannot believe this is really happening. Our president (not my president), not a healthy man (he is not a man), is a slave to his pathological need to appear strong, to win every battle, to be the unquestioned supreme leader of the universe, and, of course, by any means necessary, to be a two-term president. MAGA.

We are living a tragedy.

The uncertainties — on every front — are kinda overwhelming. The deep anxiety so many of us feel to be in the hands of such spectacular incompetence… I just don’t know.

Every part of this is bad, but what’s really gotten surreal is how he’s managed to turn a life threatening pandemic into a partisan culture war. Between US.

My biggest beef from the moment he was elected (“elected”) is that he has never been the president for the whole country; he is the president for his supporters only. He thrives on division. He always needs an enemy, so we are the enemy–dems, the elite, anyone who didn’t vote for him.  He’s not a unifier, so this business about the virus attacking everybody and we’re all in this together and he’ll lead our entire nation through this crisis… yeah.. not his thing.

It didn’t take long for him to be at odds with the scientists; they were complicating things. He likes easy, pat solutions — get in, get out — but pandemics are hard and require patience, sacrifice.  He loved the idea of being a war-time president (when he saw how popular the daily coronavirus task force briefings were, he placed himself front and center and delivered each day’s alarming news himself, though couldn’t handle the press questions, but didn’t give a shit because he just lied his way to provocative headlines because headlines are all he cares about anyway) but needed the virus to run its course quickly so he could take credit and move on to juicing the economy in time for his reelection. The scientists were delivering terrible news, not advancing his reelection goals. So he began to discredit them and establish himself leader of the resistance (resistance to his own administration, oddly enough). I’m not entirely sure that was his game plan, but once he sparked some real energy on the part of angry, frustrated, newly unemployed people who were suffering financially through the stay-at-home orders, he was only too happy to go with it and turn this whole thing into a war.

And that’s what’s really killing me right now.. he actually said today that wearing masks is about being politically correct. Fighting words for his people. We, the mask wearers, are weak. We’re afraid. And here we go…

Yesterday he made a big, very tough guy announcement about how he was ORDERING all the churches and synagogs (and because he had to include them, the mosques) to reopen. (His numbers are dropping among evangelicals.. so, stage a fight on their behalf!) He said he’d use his authority to overrule any governors who’d fight him. He practically yelled this. His press secretary accused democrats of hating religious people and said we never wanted houses of worship to be reopened. One shocked and insulted reporter strenuously challenged that. Dems also want to see more people die because it makes him look bad. His demented children love this talking point.

All that. Stoking division. As always. Making himself the hero for the working class (he is not), getting them back to work and making the economy work for them again (it never will under his policies).

Back to the masks. He won’t wear one. First of all, that’s about vanity. He thinks he appears weak if he puts a mask over his face (more like it smears his make up and musses his hair). Masks have become a symbol of the PC crowd, elites, dems, anyone who wants to see this prolonged, which ruins his chances for reelection. Mask wearers are now the enemy. We and our masks (and our inflated statistics) undercut his message, masks validate the message that the virus is still around (it is), it busts his myth that we are back, TRANSITIONING TO GREATNESS!

This is bonkers.

Seriously. Masks reduce transmission. Period. I can’t believe I live in a country where half the people are buying his snake oil, are willing to risk their own health, our health in partisan protest. WTF. Do they know that on social media, half the posts about masks being a plot to deny their freedom are bot-generated? Do they know they’re being used? Again, just like in 2016, they’re being manipulated to act against their own interests (and in this case, their health/lives).

Freedom! Don’t tread on me!

Did the president (not my president) talk about the 100,000 deaths milestone today? (No.) Did he offer, has he offered, condolences for families who have lost loved ones? (Nothing beyond perfunctory.) Has he challenged the death figures and/or tried to keep them from public view? (Yep.)

Maybe he’ll have the last laugh. It’s possible, I suppose–though not what the epidemiologists say–that we’ll continue to level off (despite shocking displays of f**k you togetherness all over the country during the Memorial Day weekend), maybe drop a little for seasonal reasons (nobody knows), and by fall, as the campaign gets into full swing, maybe the numbers won’t look as bad, the economy will show signs of coming back, he’ll declare victory over the virus and, of course, he’ll convince people that we need to stay the course with him at the helm, lest the dems take the country back to the failing policies of Obama (they were the opposite of failing) and we lose our economic momentum. He is a very convincing liar. Thing is, the virus WILL come back, but maybe not in force before he’s been reelected. That’s his bet. He just has to lie and say that he’s lead us to victory over the silent enemy with his nobody’s-ever-seen-anything-like-this-before response, that we are transitioning to greatness and will have an even better economy than before, and convince people that Biden is mentally unfit (how ironic), corrupt (how ironic), abuses women (how ironic).. and whatever else he’ll throw out. 2016 redux. And it might work.

Long as he can keep us totally divided and hating each other. Cuz that’s what good presidents do.

 

Barely a Two!

May 26, 2020

I have been on a pretty good streak with recipes this past few weeks.. lots of 4’s (out of 4)… and I was feeling all master-of-the-kitchen.

Tonight, I baked my first tofu. I’ll barely order tofu in a restaurant, let alone cook it at home.. but for some reason this recipe looked pretty good, “Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice.”

Lots of ingredients… white rice, coconut milk, fresh squeezed lime plus its zest, jalepeno, molasses, arugula, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, red bell pepper, veg oil, scallions, soy sauce, fresh ginger, peanut butter and tofu.

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You make coconut rice, you make some pickled peppers, and you make a spicy peanut sauce that goes on the tofu and bakes to a caramelized glaze:

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Then you assemble and garnish…

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And serve…

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And damn, if it wasn’t thick, gooey and cloying, and, according to Jim, tart.

Won’t make it again, but learned a bit about tofu and peanut sauces and pickling… and making coconut rice.. that was good. They said it was coconut-LIME rice, but it wasn’t. Huh.

I gave it a 2, Jim gave it a 2+…. and we have a lot of tofu with thick, glazed peanut sauce leftover. Ugh.

Recipe people are fallible.

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day

May 25, 2020

At dinner tonight, Jim and I tried to think of anyone we knew — in our families, extended families, community of friends, community of acquaintances — who had died fighting in a war on behalf of the United States.  It wasn’t until we got down to that last one — community of acquaintances — that we could even imagine anyone we knew who might have died in a war, any war. I can’t name anybody, but there must be someone we know. A lot of wars and certainly a lot of folks who’ve died in them.

While we couldn’t summon a single name, we acknowledged it’s an enormous sacrifice.. losing one’s life for one’s country.

A few weeks back, as we watched Ken Burns’ documentary series on the Vietnam war, I felt emotionally wracked by the whole mess.. by the wrenching decisions that were made that kept us in that conflict, by the senselessness of battles, of deaths, of being there at all. I just can’t imagine the pain of losing a son, a daughter, anybody, in a war, any war, and especially a war that served so little purpose. It just turns my stomach. I’ll never get the images out of my head of those the young men, barely men, in all that chaotic, brutal combat. And then to die.

I’m thinking about you. You gave everything.

~~

Not that this belongs in the same post…

Memorial Day = the start of summer. I can’t begin to organize all of THOSE thoughts. How is it, on the uphill side of a pandemic, people are out, in force, to celebrate — in some cases with a nasty vengeance — their freedom. Crowded parks, beaches, beachside bars and restaurants. Little to no compliance with what remains of guidelines.

So.. awful. Not going to discuss that one at this moment.

I have a couple pics on the day, though.

First.. yesterday, Ruben and his crew finished leveling the front yard and then turned their attention to the back. They removed thick (THICK) vegetation from about 1/3 of the backyard.. here’s what it looks like right now:

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That is bare ground, where once a thicket of shrubs, flowers, weeds and a ton of construction detritus and former garage junk existed! Today, Jim segregated the wood he wants to hang on to — stacked in the back there — from the scraps he’s willing to let go of (prouda him). He’ll continue to add to this pile of junky junk and Ruben will haul it off next week. Out of camera shot, there is a bunch more (plants, trees, weeds and junky junk). Within a week or two, the back will be a tabula rasa, ready for the next phase.

While Jim did that, I made a new Spotify channel (my first, actually,  John Prine channel which turned out to be audio heaven) which I listened to while swinging in the hammock:

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It hit the high 90s today (so got an early morning Arboretum walk in with Janet before it got too unbearable).

I had the outdoor ceiling fan going at top speed, but it was still too hot by mid afternoon to lie out there. Shifted indoors and wrote 20 postcards to would-be voters in Arizona, encouraging them to register to vote by mail online and then vote for Mark Kelly for Senate in their August primary!

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Made some wee progress in my book (The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller, about the aftermath of a pandemic, of all things), and then Jim and I launched BBQ season with turkey burgers and grilled eggplant.. and fresh tomatoes and pears… ah.. summer.

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No beach. No park. No picnics. No family/friend gatherings.  And let me add.. no judgment on that (except for those who did not do those things safely). I know people who were out, and together, and celebrating summer, and who did it carefully and respectfully. I’d have enjoyed being there, too. We just didn’t have the opportunity or imagination.

But had a nice day anyway.

 

 

 

 

The Great Greats

May 24, 2020

Let’s start with River…

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river skooters

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Then Magnolia…

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little mom

 

And finally, Juniper…

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Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage is offering streaming concerts. Free. They encourage you to pay the busker, but it’s not required for viewing. I watched one of my favorite folk singer guys, Jeffrey Faucault. I did not know he was partnered up with another folk singer Kris Delmhorst. She’s also wonderful. Their teenage daughter even came out and the three of them sang a Cole Porter song which was just lovely.  It was 90 minutes of really great music… highly recommend it as something to accompany a snack.. like apples with peanut butter. It was a win win.

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It’s not a great shot, but I did a screen capture, which gives a little bit of a closer look at Jeffrey and Kris… in their kitchen.

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Mask Solutions

May 22, 2020

Everyone’s trying to figure out best mask practices. I think most have now accepted that we wear them in public … if we get close enough to people that it’s necessary and/or to show respect. There are the scarf-style masks, the buff-style masks, normal mask-masks.

These days–because they’re so much easier to pull up when needed and draw down when not–I wear a buff more often than a mask mask.

But today, since both buffs need washing (another mask management issue), I had to take/wear my mask mask on my walk. It’s inconvenient if you’re constantly putting it on and taking it off (time was, I just left it in place for a whole 5-mile walk, but that seems like overkill these days). Especially if you have to navigate the straps around sunglasses, earbuds, earrings and a hat. So I figured out a new way to have my mask at the ready without having to carry it: loop it through my sunglasses, like this:

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(I know.. goofy looking).

And then, when somebody gets close, easily pull the dangling strap over to the free ear, like this:

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It’s a little lopsided, but mostly does the trick!  (I’m still smiling for the camera, you just can’t see it.)

The buffs are still the better mask solution..

 

 

Hanging Around

May 21, 2020

Not getting enough of this…(how is that even possible…?)

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I feel like I need to add a comment, though. Swinging gently in a comfy hammock in a candy-colored backyard (even if it is filter-embellished) on a sunny spring afternoon completely belies my mood. I feel just shitty today (in my head, heart). Some days — probably those without all the multiple distractions I’ve managed to fill my days with (good distractions) — the angst hits hard. Today for example.  I mean, if you allow yourself the time to actually think about what’s going on.. you gotta feel pretty uncomfortable with where all this is going. It’s like the phrase if you’re not mad (sad, scared..), you’re not paying attention.

It IS bad. I AM mad, sad, scared. Most of the time, though, I’m busy with political action, cooking, exercising, watching the Crown, even cleaning.

Today a lot of it hit me.. combination of sheer exhaustion at having to bear that batshit crazy fool of a president* we are suffering under; the wretchedness of white supremacist murders gunning down a young black man out for a jog; news about the just endless corruption in a ravaged government; the complete immorality of the administration’s response to a virus still killing people by the thousands; the prospect of a brutal campaign ahead; despair over the idiocy around us (I’m looking at you mask deniers).. and just weird stuff… for example, the buckling of higher education under decades of elitist manipulation.. it’s always seemed wrong and now, caught in the coronavirus mess, it’s showing its many flaws. I didn’t even expect to be slammed with that today. But it just added to such a weariness.

Anyway… gotta stop. I’m late for the Crown (every night I’m late for our agreed-to time to sit down and watch it).  Just sucks today. I have so much more to say.. and I just can’t seem to find words that are adequate to describe the sheer, sad, messed up clusterfuck this all is.

So enjoy the candy land hammock pic.