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Grand-Sibs

September 27, 2020

I’ve made it known to the universe that Jim and I shall be remaining on this earth to see our grandkids journey off to college (no rush, Peter, you just keep doing what you’re doing).

But until we have grandkids to dote upon, we have two grand nieces and a grand nephew.

Alexis calls River and Magnolia Irish twins. I had to look that up and found that it can be thought of as derogatory (by Irish folks), but it refers to siblings that are less than a year apart… and have a particularly close bond.

Yeah… I’d say so:

Here’s a sweet one. Looks like they’re at the doctor’s office…

And here are a couple individual shots. Alexis’s photos are just magic. She is the Norman Rockwell of cell phone photography.

This one really needed to be in color….

Juniper deserves her own entry on another day…

Driveway Moments

September 26, 2020

Socializing in 2020.

Well, this was lovely: A call yesterday morning from Sarah, saying she and Gabe would be passing by Davis on their way home from Napa… and wouldn’t it be nice to hang out for a bit?

Yes!

We ended up sitting there, on the driveway, at distance, well past the setting sun, into the land of the night-time rainbow.

Okay, not really into the land of the night-time rainbow.. I’m not that poetic. But Sarah is! Land of the night-time rainbow is a reference to the book she wrote, illustrated and published as a Covid project. We all need pandemic projects–some people make hammock stands and coffee tables; some people start cooking again after 20 years (80 new recipes, and counting); and some write children’s books.

Here’s Sarah’s:

This is a sweet story she told to her kids each night, adapting it to reflect the day’s events, big and small. And twenty-five-plus years later ….

The book’s got that Sarah flare.. colorful felt art, poked and shaped into illustrations:

Here’s a closer-up… so you can see the detail of the work:

So, so creative, that girl.

The book was a bonus gift. The best part was actually hanging out, drinking wine on a warm fall evening, and talking with friends we hadn’t seen in nearly a year. Like normal people.

Even if it was on the driveway.

Mending Fences

September 25, 2020

Ruben and crew finished the new fence this week. We went away to the beach for the day (on Tuesday) and found a new fence upon our return. From start to finish, it was more like three days (and three crew folks). It looks great!

Before:

After:

Just a Little Zoom Humor

September 24, 2020

I need a bit of levity tonight…

I saw this t-shirt and laughed right out loud. Every day, every Zoom call.. there’s always someone (sometimes me!) whose mouth is moving, but no sound.. because: they’re on mute. It’s just hilarious. (You gotta be there…)

And speaking of Zoom: it’s just plain our way of life. Every day, in every way, Zoom. Everything’s remote… meetings, school, parties, celebrations, funerals, tutorials. Probably really weird shit, too, but I don’t even wanna go there.

This picture also made me smile. It’s part of an NPR story about a CNN interview with this climate scientist.

It’s worth zooming in on (so to speak) to catch all the detail in the photo on the right. Also hilarious.

Get Down to the Sea Somehow

September 23, 2020

I want to go back to the beach. I’ll take any tiny coastal community far, far away where I can pretend the world is not going to hell in a hand basket, which it very much is.

Reading headlines, catching a few first paragraphs, watching just 20 minutes of news, I feel like we are hurtling toward a crisis so profound, perpetrated by the commander in chief himself, that unless we have an outcome that establishes Biden’s victory early in the evening of November 3rd and a map that turns overwhelmingly blue as the night goes on, we’re in big trouble. Anything short of an indisputable landslide… buckle up. If Trump loses, big or small, his loss will unleash mayhem… he’s making sure of that

And if he cheats out a win–which he’s orchestrating from every angle–we’re done. I don’t believe we survive another term under his rule. We won’t recognize the United States in a few years if that happens.

So yeah.. the beach.

~~

Here are a few more shots from Jim’s and my hike out on Tomales Point yesterday:

Stopped so we could pee (public bathrooms are hard to count on these days.. you gotta be like the Swedes: nothing more natural than the need to pee, so just stop when the need arises–whether you’re a bus load of 40 people or a lone driver), and found myself among a gaggle of wild turkeys:

Next on the wildlife checklist was this coyote out for a walk:

The trailhead for the Point Tomales hike was at the former dairy operation fo the Pierce family (ca 1867):

And I took these at the end, but it gives you a sense of the scale of the Ranch and a little about what they did:

A typical stretch of trail:

The trail offered views of magnificent Pacific on one side and the 15-mile long Tomales Bay on the other, with herds of elk in between:

Over the course of 4.7 miles from trailhead to point, the trail goes up and down, mostly modestly; the trail description says you gain and lose 1000′ overall. Here’s a view down to a stand of trees, where we’ll come upon a watering hole, a favorite location for relaxing elk:

After the watering hole, the trail climbs to a long, bushy plateau that then gently descends over about a mile to the rocky point of the long peninsula. The brush is about waist-to-shoulder high and the ground is now pure sand. You meander through the brush, picking a course (many options) through this giant labyrinth of options; all roads lead to the point.

The trail culminates at a small ledge (maybe big enough for 3-4 people to stand safely, as long as nobody gets elbowed), with a great view of the ocean, the bay, Dillon Beach, Bodega to the north, rocky cliffs to the south, crashing waves below. It’s a nice prize after all the sand!

We’d gotten a late start (1:15 or so) so finished late, as well (5:45 or so).. but it was just lovely to be finishing as the sun was getting low in the sky…

While I’m a Sierra hiker at heart, and if made to choose, I’d go for the mountains any day of the week, I also love the coast and appreciated the expansive views, the fresh air, the coolness and breeziness. That air is like nothing else, and the forever view is good for pondering one’s place in the universe.

~~

I just read this. I think it offers a more cogent expression what I tried to say at the beginning of this post. It gives me no comfort, but it does validate my concern. And if Dan Rather thinks we’re in a crisis for our democracy, then we are. It’s not just me being scared. I mean, I’ve been reading it everywhere for a couple of years now.. the threat of this dangerous man has become growingly apparent to anyone paying attention. But interesting to read Rather’s commentary just now, after writing the above.

There is no more time for silence. There is no more time for choosing party over country. There is no more time for weighing the lesser of two evils. All women and men of conscience must speak or they are complicit in America lurching towards a dangerous cliff of autocracy and chaos.

This is a moment of reckoning unlike any I have seen in my lifetime. I have seen this country in deep peril, as the hungry begged for sustenance during the Great Depression, as the Nazis marched across Europe and the Japanese across Asia, as missiles were moved into Cuba, as our political leaders were murdered, as a president ran a criminal conspiracy from the Oval Office, as planes were hijacked into skyscrapers. All of these were scary times, but through it all I never worried about a president actively undermining American democracy and inciting violence to do so – even Nixon, for all of his criminal activity.

What Donald Trump said today are the words of a dictator. To telegraph that he would consider becoming the first president in American history not to accept the peaceful transfer of power is not a throw-away line. It’s not a joke. He doesn’t joke. And it is not prospective. The words are already seeding a threat of violence and illegitimacy into our electoral process.

I suspect he is doing this because he feels he needs to. It is the same reason he sought dirt on Joe Biden, because he is deeply afraid of losing. Losing an election could mean losing in a court of law. It could mean prison time and ruin. But I suspect Trump’s motives are more instinctual. He needs to hold on to power for the sake of power. He cannot lose, even if he has to cheat to win. Even if he has to blow up American democracy. He considers little if any about 200,000 plus deaths from COVID. Why would he care about our Constitution or Bill of Rights?

There is no sugarcoating the dangers and darkness we live in. But I remain heartened that the majority of Americans do not want this. Trump is in danger of losing states that he should be winning handily. Yes, his base is energized and numerous. But so is the opposition. I have seen opposition parties in foreign countries channel the morality of their causes to bring great change. And most of those opposition movements didn’t have the strength, power, and resources of those who stand against Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has himself defined the stakes of the election. This is a battle for American democracy as we’ve known it. We are well past warning shots. Allies across the political spectrum are ringing alarm bells. Right now, all those seeking to defeat Donald Trump know winning a close election may not be enough. The size of a victory will likely matter. Failing that, what happens? I don’t know. But I would say we all should try to remain steady. Try to conserve our energy for the battles ahead. Be committed to your community, your country, and your conscience. If enough Americans of decency and courage come together, the future of this nation can be better, fairer, and more just.

Anniversary Hike

September 22, 2020

With this guy…

Wuv him. Will post more photos tomorrow. It was a fun day.. and now it’s late!

24 Rock Music

September 21, 2020

Jim’s sources say one’s 24th wedding anniversary is celebrated with stone, or a rock. My sources said in the modern tradition, the 24th is celebrated with music (or a musical instrument). Rock.. music… Works for me!

We celebrated with take out Symposium — comfort food of the highest order, and an Egyptian eggplant dish that we ended up throwing away! (What in the world were we thinkin’ when we picked that recipe? Cumin seeds, cardamom seeds (toasted then ground), harissa paste, mint, garlic, honey, cider vinegar… it just was not to our taste.)

The day was mostly consumed by work (Jim) and a phone bank event organized to honor Justice Ginsberg’s legacy (me). So tomorrow we’re taking the day off, skipping town, hoping to find some clean, fresh air along the coast. And some vigorous hiking in cool, salty loveliness.

In the meantime, some pics from some of those 24 years.

And the Winner is..

September 20, 2020

A brief commentary on yet another aspect of life during a pandemic: Awards shows in general, and the Emmy’s tonight.

It’s not that TV is a significant part of the my life — I’d seen exactly one show of all the shows nominated for Emmy Awards this year (by my rough count, and, full disclosure, I wasn’t able to sustain enough interest to watch the entire show). But, I’m in the category of people who really like and look forward to award shows and I was particularly interested in seeing how they would pull this off.

Per award show tradition, Jim brought me dinner so I could sit in my office cave and luxuriate in Hollywood stars and their clothes and try to catch up on a year’s worth of popular entertainment culture. I really love this tradition.

What I saw was quite clever and some parts of what I saw were really funny.

Like, look at Jimmy Kimmel’s audience:

Those are socially distanced cardboard cut outs.

All the nominees were in their homes, dressed up (or not), with their own gaggle of family and friends, each their own square on a giant Zoom-like screen that Jimmy would address from time to time from the stage, alone in the giant theater. The winners were just as excited when their name was announced as they would be in person, and gave speeches just as they would in person…all from their homes.

I lost interest because I truly did not know the shows nor the actors (which is weird). And it seems Schitt’s Creek or Succession won everything.. neither of which I had seen. And why couldn’t The Crown win something? I have seen that show (and loved it).

They carried off the whole show as though it were novel, which it was. They clearly enjoyed coming up with a lot of clever adaptations and funny bits. I couldn’t help thinking that everything in the whole wide world has changed. And while the show was novel and fun, funny and clever, life during a pandemic, with all of its extraordinary adaptations, may go on for a very long time.. and pretty soon nothing will be novel or clever.. it’ll just be the way we do things.

Showing Up

September 19, 2020

There are so many people — and I mean hundreds of thousands, probably more — who are sweating blood to ensure favorable election outcomes all over the country. Working in ways big and small. It’s a lot. I don’t know if it’ll be enough; I hope so. The forces on the other side are formidable and they don’t play fair. I know better than to feel defeated, because that’s just not an option, but I do get so weary.

Nerves are so frayed.. reserves so depleted. It’s hard to have an ugly election on top of the other stuff.. stuff I’ve written obsessively about for months.

These times we’re living in.. I still just can’t believe it.

I think I gotta stop reading the news. I need not to hear stories about politicians who celebrated Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing. I need not to know about the unscrupulous politics of court packing.

Mood rating today: so very fragile

Sat alone in the candlelit darkness of Central Park tonight for a vigil for RBG. Missed three quarters of it because I got there late, but heard the final speaker and a closing song. Even just that was moving. Glad I made it.

Just.. sigh.

~~

Here’s what doesn’t feel sad: I learned in a conversation with Peter yesterday that he’s been writing some letters–about thirty of them, he said–to voters in Michigan. Yes, handwritten letters to voters. He said a woman in his coop is politically active and somehow, through her, he came to write these letters. He mentioned it at the end of our conversation saying, “Oh, here’s something you might like to know.”

It absolutely was!

The call was unexpected; he’d called to check in about RBG. That gesture also worked its way into some aching little heart spaces. I so love him for that.

Anyway, that’s why I titled this Showing Up. Because he is. Our 22 year old. That means so much to me and is so hopeful. I really need to focus on that and remember, trite as it sounds, the future belongs to them. I think they can take it from here.. if we can just get out of the way. I think, in their hands, things will (eventually) be okay.

RIP RBG

September 18, 2020

President Obama’s statement tonight:

Sixty years ago, Ruth Bader Ginsburg applied to be a Supreme Court clerk. She’d studied at two of our finest law schools and had ringing recommendations. But because she was a woman, she was rejected. Ten years later, she sent her first brief to the Supreme Court – which led it to strike down a state law based on gender discrimination for the first time. And then, for nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality – someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American.

Over a long career on both sides of the bench – as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist – Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are – and who we can be.

Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land. Michelle and I admired her greatly, we’re profoundly thankful for the legacy she left this country, and we offer our gratitude and our condolences to her children and grandchildren tonight.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored.

Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.

A basic principle of the law – and of everyday fairness – is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment. The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard. The questions before the Court now and in the coming years – with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures – are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.

I was in a Zoom meeting with twelve other political activists (as I guess we are), planning phone banking logistics for the remaining seven weeks of this miserable campaign. Right in the middle of someone talking–probably Steve–Tim just starts saying, “oh no, oh no, oh no.” Then the news, then the reactions (instant tears for many of us). I put my computer down and ran to the garage to tell Jim. Peter texted us. Returning to the call, there was a moment of silence, suggested by Scott. (I should say, the rest of the folks on the call were women.)

I had trouble focusing on the call.. so ended up blacking my screen and muting myself. And just cried.. for the shock of her death in this moment, for the end of her magnificent life. I’m filled first with so much gratitude for her intellect, her principles, her dedication to the law on all of our behalves. Thank you, RBG. I am also so incredibly moved by her fierceness in hanging on as long as she did, her efforts to stay strong through insane health issues, in order to keep an essential voice on the court, and ultimately to maximize the chance she’d be replaced by a democrat. And I’m breathtakingly anxious and overwhelmed, sickened, by the injustice and hypocrisy that is sure to come in the next couple of months. What was already a miserable political nightmare will become so much worse. The whole election just turned.

History is being written. How trying it is to be in these times. Sand feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. There will be doubling down on all of our parts to mobilize and activate. I’m in. But I’m feeling a knife through the heart tonight. Things again feel so unstable.