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.


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.

Knock Knock

September 17, 2020

Who’s there?

UC Davis.

UC Davis who?

UC Davis when the smoke clears.

Yep, I made that up. Right on the spot.

It was a sparkling morning… cool, bright, sunny. Coulda danced around the arboretum today. Vicki and I just walked, though, then went to a very crowded Mishka’s — a lot of folks sitting outside on a gloriously smoke free day. Here are a couple of pics…

First, we saw this pure white duck. Had never seen him before. The photo was very low rez, so I spuzzed it up with some Prisma..

And a couple of path shots…

You’ll note color, shadows… and I’ll just tell you, the sky was blue.

For us Davisites, who’ve literally been under a blanket of smoke for a month (with only one day that I can remember when the AQI was almost safe), it was just plain fantastic.

Moving Right Along

September 16, 2020

With any luck, we will finish most of our landscaping: back (pictured in progress, here) and front (stripped, so far) before the rains come. But I can’t say we’re moving with speed…

Here’s a shot of the back in its current state:

Things left to happen: All the hardscape (patio on the north side.. right in this picture, out of view); raised concrete planting beds which will surround the patio; two arbors; 4 green screens; sitting area metal chairs and table (rear left, in this picture); patio furniture; empty the play structure of all those treasures; build new fence…. and, of course, planting. Lots and lots of planting.. including flowers, scrubs, a ginkgo tree, a fig tree, maybe another one or two fruit trees. Then some power washing and refinishing (already!) of the deck.

Hardly anything. Then the front.

“SAC” Trump

September 15, 2020

Did I mention the con man president made a visit to Sacramento yesterday (Monday) to meet with Governor Newsom and hear about the California fires? Way too little, way too late… these fires have been raging for a month. And I can assure you, his visit had nothing to do with his compassion for the people who’ve lost lives, or property, or livelihoods. Nothing to do with his concern for our forests or charred hillsides. Nothing to do with his understanding of the impacts of climate change. Frankly, I don’t know why he came, but I do know it was a calculated political move. He does nothing that does not benefit him in some way. Like nothing.

I imagine most of us in SisterDistrictIndivisibleYolo world had heard about the Monday presidential visit when it was announced on Saturday. By early Sunday morning, a couple of folks had decided we should do something about it.. some kind of protest? Some kind of online event? Some kind of political action? Emails flew. By mid morning, we decided it would be a big, giant — as giant as we could make it — phonebank; Rachel had prepared a detailed to-do list, and by midday, the Comms Team was done with its work — a name for the event, accompanying graphics, calendar notice, Facebook event notice, social media promotion, blurbs for e-newsletters. Good work Comms Team! For the next 24 hours, a team of folks got to work in countless other ways to plan for said big, giant phonebank. A trizillion details later, we carried off this event.

Which went off without a hitch and was an enormous success.

For the last six months or so, our phonebanks — we host five per week — were chugging away at about 6-8 attendees per. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Then, based on some compelling stats about the value of direct voter contacts, we shifted our attention and most of our Comms Team focus to promoting phonebanks. We have always known that direct voter contacts were effective, but with Covid and face-to-face canvassing out, phone calls became the next best thing.

By last week — due to the Comms Team efforts and a new intra-org texting platform that allowed our Text Team to bug our entire volunteer base with texts to their phones — we were starting to see 2o to 35 folks showing up for phonebanks. Which has been phenomenal.

But Trump’s self-serving visit really awakened the bear. Everyone, even phonebank-averse volunteers, loved the idea of showing their disdain by attending our SAC TRUMP phonebank and calling thousands of critical voters in swing states to make sure they vote for Joe Biden. Which we did in record numbers.

We set a goal of 2020 calls. We made over 2600!

So there! Do come again.

Person Man Woman Camera TV

September 14, 2020

Remember that? That was the five-word string Trump was required to repeat, from memory, when doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center felt it was necessary to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a test used for detecting cognitive impairment.

He was very boastful (of course) of his acing the test. Nobody’s ever done as well. The doctors, he said, were very impressed.

He’s such an embarrassment.

This is why I love this mug so much.. it arrived today!

Two Food Stories

September 13, 2020

First one:

Our beloved Sunday brunch. Jim’s become our pandemic Sunday brunch chef. Today, he went the egg route.

While lovely, none of that is blog worthy. But turns out it was a funny plate of scrambled eggs. He decided to clear the refrigerator of the week’s accumulated miscellany and put what he thought was some chopped basil into his scramble. Turns out, it was mint. So we ended up with … minty eggs. Edible. But maybe not repeatable.

Second one:

And then we sorta made a sad observation.

We, everyone, the whole blippin’ northern hemisphere have missed out on summer, what with this pandemic and its limits on where we could go and what we could do.

But I think maybe we salvaged a little something from that sadness by realizing that the pandemic also made way for a whole nuther level of cooking. We’ve developed this whole new practice around meal planning, shopping, cooking and consuming. We always ate pretty well — not taking anything away from Jim and his two decades of being top chef in the house! He’s a natural. But with every single meal of the day–day in and day out–happening now at home, we got a whole new thing going on. We’ll see if we sustain it as we return (if we ever do) to dining out for at least half of our meals (maybe even more).

Until then, we’re adapting quite comfortably to this rhythm. And we realized that we did, in fact, experience a pretty great summer … through our food. Food was it.. that was our summer. I’ve posted a ridiculous number of photos of our meals, I realize. But: pandemic. Not much else going on.

Nearing the end of summer bounty:

Mostly leftovers… that mayo chicken, miso rice w/ cabbage, arroz verde (all from different dinners), plus zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, pears…

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign

September 12, 2020

I assembled twenty signs and distributed them around town for the local Community College Board of Trustees race.. Kelly’s campaign.

Here’s one in its natural habitat…

I was also promoted to phone bank trainer today. Not really… it’s not a position one gets promoted to. If you’ve done as much phone banking as I have, it’s more like an obligation. The truth is, as we enter the final two months of the election season, people are coming out of the woodwork to do something. Nobody wants to see a repeat of 2016, and nobody could live with themselves if we find ourselves on the losing end of a close race and they didn’t do all they could to get us over the finish line. Nobody’s taking this one for granted. So… where we used to have 6 or 8 people in a phone bank, now we have 25-30, and we’re doing five phone banks a week! And a huge number of these guys are new.. which takes a lot of hand holding.

Gad Zooks

September 11, 2020

Okay.. what that is, is a plate of really fabulous zucchini.

You brown, at a fairly high heat, a bunch of zucchini, cut in half, one side and then the next. While that operation is going on, you toast freshly ground pepper until it gives off a great smell, then add butter which will foam up and then subside, and when it does, you add a lot of grated parmesan. Before that mixture gets too clumpy, you spoon it over those browned zuccs and toss a bunch of mint (or basil, your choice) on top. Eat.

Wowzer. It was good.

Which we served with this….

… which looks a fright, but was pretty good. Boneless skinless thighs, marinated in grated ginger, lime zest, salt, pepper and…. mayo — yes, mayo — then grilled (which is where things got a bit dicey.. Jim needed to oil the grill, he thinks).

We both gave both dishes four stars. Chalk up another success for me.

We also had some end of summer nectarines. Nice dinner.