There’s sort of a pattern that’s emerged in the last week of protesting: during the day, there are generally peaceful protests, marches, speeches in cities across the country. As evening falls, and curfews go into effect, the crowds change and it seems to get a lot more raucous. Unclear who’s responsible for all the destruction, fires and looting that have been characterizing some of the night gatherings. This will become clearer as we go on.

Some images from the last couple of days of protests:





This meme’s been circulating on social media. Captures the hypocrisy well.




An excerpt from today’s Letters from an American — a fantastic daily summary of each day’s events written by Heather Cox Richardson, an historian and history professor at Boston College (she’s been writing these for about 6 months now). It’s my favorite read each and every day.

For all the uncertainty, there was one very clear story today. Although he tweeted angrily, Trump stayed out of sight, and from the safety of the White House continued to feed the flames burning America. “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy,” he tweeted this morning, apparently unmoved by the videos of journalists arrested and shot with rubber bullets last night. “As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS.”

He announced “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” although there is actually no organized group of radicals identified as Antifa (a term drawn from “anti-fascist”), and U.S. law does not permit the government to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations anyway. “FAKE NEWS!” he tweeted, and “LAW & ORDER!”

Trump’s attempt to project strength took on quite a different cast when a New York Times story this evening revealed that he had spent an hour Friday night in the White House underground bunker, where Secret Service had taken him. The Associated Press reported that Trump has told advisors he is worried for his safety, and that he and his family “have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds,” according to “a Republican close to the White House.”

An A. P. story then offered a doozy of a paragraph: “As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump’s advisers discussed the prospect of an Oval Office address in an attempt to ease tensions. The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president’s own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity.”

That Trump hid in the White House while he was urging others to violence captures his personality, but it undercuts his carefully crafted image as a man of courage. The leak of this story is itself astonishing: we should not know how a president is being protected, and that Trump is bullying to project an image of being a tough guy while he is actually hiding is a big story, especially since presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was out in the streets talking to protesters today. And to admit that Trump has no policy proposals and has no interest in delivering a message of unity…. Wow.

And now for something completely different, from Joe Biden:

Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not. The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.

And.. he attended a protest .. yes, it’s photo op, but who cares? He went, he talked, he listened, he’ll act.

joe at protest



May 30, 2020

Day #78 of the coronavirus stuff.. and Day #5 of George Floyd reaction.

Spent many an hour watching CNN reporters on the ground in protest-turned-riot-torn cities all over the country this day. As I watched all of that with half an eye, I was catching up on stories and analyses across the media spectrum. I’m weary and overwhelmed with grief. Part of me is heartened that the response is so widespread; it makes me feel hopeful that, in fact, there are a lot of people unwilling to accept the abject corruption and profound injustices that exist in every corner of American society.  It’s clear that while these protests initially formed as a response to the murder of George Floyd, the problems are far deeper, far more systemic than a single act — or even the recent spate — of police brutality. Seems like a flash point. We can hope.

But, man.. the pile-on of stuff is just numbing. It’s leaving analysts on TV in tears (like, all over the place). It’s the raw savagery of this week’s tragic events on top of a pandemic, on top of an economic collapse, on top of unprecedented unemployment and business closures, on top of a government & institutional shake up that I don’t even know how to evaluate (in a later post I’ll paste in Heather Cox Richardson’s list of global agreements our country has pulled out of). I’m scared..mostly because the facts of where we are are bad enough.. but we have a guy who’s got more power than he can handle and seems to be relishing–actually stoking–the unrest. He seems to have no interest whatsoever in calming a nation (laughable, he couldn’t anyway). I have long thought that disruption and chaos are what he’s after.. even though part of me doesn’t believe he is capable of orchestrating and carrying out a game plan, even if that plan is to blow it all up. He’s just too disordered and incompetent. Who knows though… he’s playing on a field none of us has a view of. I don’t believe anything anymore. Certainly don’t believe anymore that OUR government is there for OUR interests.

Once again… I have reams to stuff I’ve written in the past five days, but can’t seem to organize my thoughts into anything coherent right now. Just bleary and unsettled, overwhelmed and scared. I’ll keep trying though.


But for now.. Our 100+ weather of the last few days dropped to the 70s today, with intermittent cloud cover.. which was nice. Made 44 calls to one of the nation’s most hotly-watched political districts, which always feels like a good day.  Had some nice hammock + Spotify time, and a nice walk + podcast… all excellent distractions… and took a few really pretty pictures, so the day wasn’t a total downer.  Have to keep seeing the beauty, you know?


And two others from about the same spot… and I Prisma-filtered one of them..


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Bread Pudding

May 29, 2020

Jim made his famous bread pudding. It’s not a recipe, it’s a concept, like most of his creations. Which are universally good. He works with what he’s got.. this time leftover french toast from last week, waffles from two weeks ago and the usual butter, some kind of dairy (cream this time), embellishments (raisins this time)… and I don’t really know what else. It was incredible, especially with some vanilla gelato on board.



Note: The world’s in a world of hurt and I’ve spent the last couple hours writing about it. But I had so much more to say to tie all my thoughts together and it was getting longer and longer and more complicated .. and I’m just too, too tired and so weary. So I bagged it. I did. And posted bread pudding instead. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow when fresher.





May 28, 2020

Man.. things are so seriously messed up. I’m not even sure I can put adequate words to this.. well, I know I can’t. So bear with me. I want my blog to have some kind of accounting of the rage and heartache so many are feeling around the completely senseless death a few days ago of a 46 year old man, George Floyd.

But honestly.. it’s hard to even grasp a single tragedy without broader perspectives and contexts for the tragedies that lead to it.. and shit.. it’s not like I’m going to make sense of any of that in this late night of writing.

Be that as it may..

This is George Floyd.

george in jacket

Four white Minneapolis police officers stopped him to question him about his maybe involvement in the possible use of a counterfeit bill in a liquor store. And even though he appears to calmly comply with directives throughout their police procedures, he still ends up face down on the ground with one of the officers forcefully holding him in place with his  knee on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck. He is saying over and over again that he cannot breathe; numerous onlookers are close enough to see what’s going on and are repeatedly, insistently, desperately saying things like let him go, he can’t breathe.  This goes on for 7-8 minutes. The officer simply ignores Mr. Floyd’s pleas, even when he begs for his mom. The officer looks like he cannot be bothered and even has his hands in his pocket. The other three officers are simply looking on, making no efforts whatsoever to stop this. You wouldn’t believe something as inhumane as this could happen–IN FULL VIEW OF DOZENS OF PEOPLE, many of whom are recording it–if you didn’t watch the video (and there are a lot of bystander videos, not to mention body cam videos soon to be released) with your own eyes.  It is such a shocking display of contempt for a human life it leaves you absolutely stunned and sickened.

George Floyd died a short while later.

There is pretty much not a soul on earth who could look at the video and not conclude the officers — in particular the guy who pinned Mr. Floyd with his knee — constrained and then killed this man not in self defense, not in a moment of temporary confusion, not in response to any resistance on his part, but in some inexplicable perversion of duty.

Without a doubt, one of the most horrific things I’ve ever witnessed, especially as you know he dies from this barbarism.

Tonight was the third in a row of protests and looting. The violence in Minneapolis has escalated each day and is now spreading to other cities. Tonight, rioters took over the police precinct in that part of city. The entire police force and staff vacated the building and just left the area. It was a calculated decision .. I think it was the least costly move in terms of safety for all concerned. The building is on fire as I write this and will probably soon completely collapse, as have numerous other buildings in the area (like, a Target store and several other commercial buildings that have burned to the ground).

So that’s what happened, but what I can’t wrap my head around is how this kind of profound injustice just keeps happening.  I’ve been listening a good part of today to numerous African Americans describe the pain, the anger, the weariness and I’m just so profoundly sad AND disgusted AND angry AND ashamed for how white people treat black people. It just makes me sick.

And, of course, it’s not isolated. A few days ago an African American guy was birdwatching in Central Park (NYC) and asked a woman to put her dog on a leash (leash law in that part of park). She refuses and he decides to record the situation. She becomes agitated and threatens to call the cops. He says please do, please call the cops! She does and tells the dispatcher that she’s in danger, that an African American man is threatening her life (he was doing nothing of the sort). I don’t know if the police show up, but his video goes viral, she gets fired from her job, gives up her newly adopted dog and issues a sincere apology, stating that she is not a racist. One could possibly see how emotions, fear (even if irrational) could get out of control, but her presumption of a threat because he’s black, using her whiteness as leverage over his blackness and instinctually manipulating the situation to become an instant victim to his perpetrator is straight up racism. And if you think we’re dealing with ignorance or some supreme lack of awareness … I don’t think so.. She went to the University of Chicago (one of the most prestigious schools in the country, in a city where about a third of the population is black) and he went to Harvard and, among other impressive things, sits on the NYC Audubon Society board of directors.. a serious birdwatcher.  This is Christian Cooper:

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Or how about last week when video turned up of the cold blooded murder–committed by a white man and his son, and recorded (yep!) by a friend (white)–of an African American young man, Ahmaud Arbery, who was just out for a jog. It’d have been swept right under the state of Georgia’s rug, but for that video. No idea how the friend came to release the video three months after the murder occurred.


Or 26 year old Breonna Taylor, a healthcare worker at University of Louisville hospital (working full time on covid-19 cases), who, two months ago, was asleep in her apartment when Louisville police broke in with a search warrant (for the wrong house) and shot her 8 times in her bed.

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And Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark..

Wiser people have a depth of understanding for the racism that permeates our culture, an experience of racism that I’ll never have. I don’t pretend to know any more than what I have observed. But I’m angry, disgusted and so ashamed for our society.

These are hard times, harder still for those in the margins. The racism that’s never far away is exacerbated by unexpected changes in our lives brought about by a pandemic –profound stresses around fear of illness and death, the vicious divisions the president stokes for political advantage (he’s so disgusting), the economic chasms getting deeper and wider, a loss of control, futures growing increasingly uncertain.. it’s hard. People are fragile. It wouldn’t  take a lot to rattle folks.. but a senseless, racially charged murder is dynamite.

I’m shaken.  I’m scared by the cruelty and unhinged-ness. What in the world is wrong with people that they regard other human beings with such contempt. Nobody should have to live with that.

Please, people, more kindness. How about more love and less ugliness, how about just respecting each other.


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.


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:


Then you assemble and garnish…



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:


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:


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!


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.


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



Then Magnolia…



little mom


And finally, Juniper…






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.


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:


(I know.. goofy looking).

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


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..