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My Turn for a ….

January 25, 2021

….pandemic birthday!

Which meant a birthday– not unlike many others, but — just a little quieter. Just Jim and me.. close to home. And it was a lovely day.

Jim and I braved lunch out, sitting outside at Crepeville in 47-degree-ish temps:

We’re smiling.

I took a great walk with Carrie, had a nearly 4-hr conversation with Peter (yes!) and then had dinner with Jim. My birthday dinner choices were meatloaf, baked sweet potato with brown sugar and marshmallows (don’t laugh) and roasted cauliflower. Every single bite was insane. A truly perfect meal. Here’s his meatloaf with glaze (ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and onion powder, S&P):

Here’s the whole ensemble.. comfort food galore:

And finally, that German Chocolate Cake.. twenty pounds of pure bliss:

And by twenty pounds, I mean the cake. It was heavy, sweet, dense, moist… and just fantastic.

It was a two-Zoom day.

I’ll start with the second one first. About 19 of us hung out this afternoon in a sorta-happy-hour, reflecting on the work we did together this past four years — in particular 2020 — and then looked ahead to 2021 and spoke of hopes and dreams for the coming year. My kinda Zoom meeting. I’ve got plenty of questions (for myself) about how I want to be involved in political action and advocacy going forward, but expect to remain engaged in some manner. (Just so I can remember, this is who was on the call today: me, Kelly, Rachel, Emily, Megan, Steve, Tim, Lloyd, Linda, Chris, Janette, Amanda, Alex, Amy, Betsy, Rebekka, Peggy, Michelle, Debbie.) One thing that’s funny to me (and several commented on this), as long as I’ve been in Davis, and as many friends and acquaintances as I have, pretty much everyone in my political circle is new to me — most of them in this past year of working intensely together. Didn’t expect to make so may new friends in a pandemic year. And today’s group was but a fraction of the folks I met and toiled with, learning new stuff and fighting like our democracy depended on it. Whew, wow and grateful for smart, passionate, committed peeps.

The Zoom call this morning was this ancient group of friends from multiple time zones: five Hesse girls (of five!) + two of their partners; three Osborne girls (of three!) + a drop-in by Bev; and moi. The full complement (minus brothers or male spouses)! It was Vicki’s and my birthday celebration. We donned silly hats, played a game (“How Well Do You Know Kari and Vicki”), laughed a ton, shared memories and some catch-up stuff, read poems, sang songs (spontaneously), and just had a great gathering for nearly two hours.

Here are a couple of photos that appeared at times during the party:

Lisa made these…. Vicki and me as babes:

And Leah made this one of me with my pal Bernie (it was taken Summer 2019 when we all spent a week in a house on the Betsy River in Northern Michigan.. the whole group from today minus Lundee). I am struggling (feigning), but Bern’s providing encouragement!

I whiled away the time between zoom calls singing (loudly) while jigsaw puzzling as the rain came down.

Happy Sunday.

Quince Flowered!

January 23, 2021

Seems a bit early, but the flowering quince done did its thing. It’s a few weeks behind the narcissus, but … they’re weird.

Still… I can feel spring in the air. And even if it’s not quite in the air, IT FEELS LIKE IT because: happy. Laughing a lot, singing a lot, dancing a lot, finding humor everywhere. Feeling all optimistic, even as I know the politics will get brutal. Better to be where we are than the alternative.

Anyway, happy. And the flowers are coming.

Try as I might, I could not get my camera to focus on the blossom. But here it is anyway.

Brave Enough

January 22, 2021

Amanda Gorman reads a poem at the Inauguration of president Joe Biden in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of TED.

This was a truly inspiring conclusion to the Inauguration Ceremony two days ago. Amanda Gorman got my attention the moment she took the podium. Her words were pure medicine and her delivery mesmerizing. Here is the poem she wrote for this moment:

The Hill We Climb

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Twenty First

January 21, 2021

As I write this (well, in exactly 5 minutes), this is true:

How ’bout that!

In other news:

I am still flying high! Everyone I talk to — even my casual conversation with Sinesia at Mishka’s when ordering my au lait this morning — turns to the grand and cleansing exhale we all experienced at noon yesterday, the 9th cloud we are all walking on, [it is now 9:21, by the way!], the stuck-on smile on our face, the lightness in our step.

Like I said last night, the thrill today is about two things in equal measure: one is having won the trifecta — WH, House and Senate — and what that means for issues and values we care so much about. The other is the relief in being rid of the now former, and increasingly irrelevant, so-called president.

Speaking of winning the Senate, I forgot that I’d taken this great picture. It should be included in the wonderful images of yesterday’s event… the swearing in three new Senators, by former California-Senator-Now-Vice-President Kamala Harris: Rafael Warnock, Alex Padilla (who replaces Harris herself) and Jon Ossoff.

How ’bout that!

I was also blown away by what planners and artists did to the National Mall. Insofar as the general public could not attend the inauguration (covid precautions and terrorist concerns) (what a time we are living in), they created a Field of Flags and it was just gorgeous:

And finally, this funny meme thing happened yesterday. It made me laugh last night as I looked at dozens of implementations, and laugh again this morning as I looked at dozens more. The photo is of Bernie Sanders sitting alone, evidently cold, at the Inauguration, sporting a new pair handmade mittens. It didn’t take long before it turned into a viral meme. Here are some of my favorites:

One more meme-y thing that I thought was wonderful:

See? Sun is shining. People are laughing. Lightness and smiles are everywhere. Sure is better than the alternative!

New People!

January 20, 2021

Since about Nov 7, when Biden’s victory was finally assured, I thought I had adjusted to the idea that we will have a new president and that the other guy was finally headed for the dustbin of history. 


But it wasn’t until today that it felt real. Today was official; there were bibles and oaths. The blowhard is really and truly out; he actually got on a plane bound for golf-land and left us, mercifully, alone to revel in our new, drama-free, inspiring world.  

Today was definitely Biden’s day, democrats’ day, a day for all of America and Americans of all stripes. I’m filled to the brim with optimism and hope. Today was glorious and proud-full.  

But in and amongst all the joy and tears (there were lots of both), there was also this flood of immeasurable relief. I’m not sure which feels better: Biden’s vision of unity and the promise of a beautiful, just, diverse future (tear-worthy!), or a world free of the toxic, steaming turd that has dominated every single day for FIVE years (also tear-worthy!). I mean, this has been a truly awful, mind-numbing presidency. Five years of daily shock, worry, despair. I’ve just ran out of words to describe how dispiriting and disturbing it’s been… his profound, creepy pathologies that revealed a developmentally stunted man… un-evolved, entitled and lazy. Impossible to deal with the shock that he was actually the president of us. Harder still to fathom: the crazy number of people who worship him (still). He was, of course, stunningly unfit for the job, a job he couldn’t be bothered to learn or grow in. So we were all just battered daily by his revolting, mean, relentless drivel. And when he lost the election, it got worse, and truly scary. His lies about fraud and a stolen election incited his thuggish animals into full blown terrorism. 


So today was just this great, lung-clearing exhale. Not only is he finally out of the White House (shudder.. and oh, by the way, it cost like half a million dollars to clean the place of his germs and stench), nothing horrible happened today — no murderous insurgents, no confederate flags, no long wispy-bearded guys with guns frothing nonsense about stolen elections. 


And today he flew away and nobody paid attention outside his small gaggle of sycophants at Joint Base Andrews (his idea of a huge military send-off did not come to pass and great gobs of invitees opted out of attending in favor of showing up at Biden’s Inauguration). No media coverage. Nobody talked about him. Nobody cares. He’s instantly irrelevant. He can’t even rant on Twitter, since he’s been banned for life. Maybe FOX is still watching his every move and talking about him (and crying in their beer, I imagine)… I don’t know. 


And here I am.. talking about him!!  On a day when he’s become a has-been. Okay, but here’s what I realized: I never have to write about him again! He’s done and out of our daily lives. He can’t hurt us anymore. 

~~

Here are some photos on the day:

The Inauguration Ceremony was quite good… and Biden’s comments were encouraging:

But this… this is really good for so many reasons:

By far, though, Amanda Gorman’s poem, and her delivery, inspired me the most:

Because of the pandemic, no Inaugural balls. But far more egalitarian — a celebration we could all join — the Inauguration Celebration Concert thingie.. a little hit and miss, but a worthy production! And the whole event concluded with a firework display that I just could barely believe.. it was so huge and stunning and seemed to take place all over Washington, DC. Absolutely breathtaking.

Right?

Our new people:

Nut Job

January 19, 2021

A new love! I’m thrilled with the result.

You take 3 cups of seeds… in this case: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax:

And 2 cups of nuts… here I used pecans, pistachios and almonds (which I then ran through a food processor just to reduce the chunkiness a bit):

Add those to 5 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/3 c olive oil:

Mix it all up….

And press it into a couple of loaf pans lined with parchment paper…

And bake at 325 for an hour. I checked it a couple times and pulled it out at 55 mins since I’d divided it into two pans…

And then cut and eat! And it’s fabulous!

We received a loaf of this from former neighbor Denise over the holidays. Jim’s not in love, but I sure am. She sent me the recipe and this is my first effort.. yay!

Real Winter

January 18, 2021

While we’re having temps in the mid-70s, this is the view out Peter’s window in Ann Arbor:

Let the Sun Shine In

January 17, 2021

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…. which begins officially on January 20 — 3 days from now. Coincidentally, Inauguration Day.

Coincidentally, the sun shone in like crazy today, and it was the second day in a row of temps in the 70s. These must all be signs of a new day, the dawning of a new age. Right?

Threw open the windows.. it was glorious.

Handiworks

January 16, 2021

Not really patting myself on the back for this, but worked in the garden today. Which is to say, I weeded for 30 minutes, and boy am I rusty. I usta have a whole routine with my tools, tasks and techniques. Oy…

Anyway, on this 75-degree mid-January day in Northern California, I donned my shorts and crocs, eager to pretend it was spring and I was a gardener.

Look at ALL THOSE WEEDS! (Not to mention those pale, winter legs.)

So, as I said, rusty. It took me thirty whole minutes to weed this small patch (about six feet by one foot) . I’d better up my game here.. it’s a big yard!

Some weeks ago, I planted about 30 bulbs… I see only one sprouting up:

(At least I hope that’s one of mine.) The narcissus are coming up in a few places. I did not plant these .. they are leftovers from the last version of our backyard and survived a year and a half of total neglect, no irrigation, abuse and rototilling!

Whatever bulbs Ruben and his crew found during the leveling of the back yard in prep for the new landscaping, they put in this bucket (no water). And they are growing like gangbusters!

Bulbs are crazy.

~~

And speaking of handiworks, no sooner did I finish that, than I took on Jim’s hair. In ten months, this might be the fourth or fifth haircut I’ve given him. The electric clippers gave up the ghost last time, so today was a full-on scissor cut, and I think it’s the best one yet… check it out:

I need to tidy up that bottom edge… otherwise, pretty good!