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Phone Banking

March 28, 2020

phone banking

I thought maybe I’d get through the entire 2020 election season without doing any phone banking.. preferring face-to-face voter registration, canvassing, postcarding… and just about anything to the awkwardness of phone banking. Mostly, I so loathe getting phone calls from strangers that I just couldn’t stand the thought of being that person on the other end of the call annoying the hell out of somebody.

Truth is, phone banking has proven to be effective. Not as effective as face-to-face advocacy, but it meets its objectives a fairly significant percent of the time (as significant as this stuff gets, and we have to remember that elections are won by the smallest of margins, so these efforts are important — provenly so).

Still. I’ve avoided phone banking with the exception of election day get-out-the-vote phone banking, which is very fun. (We’ve done it at the crack of dawn with cappuccinos and scones as a huge group filling the rooms of the Wilkerson house a few times now.)

But since there is so little to do during days of self-distancing and shut-down businesses (including our newly opened volunteer center), At-Home-Political-Action is now a thing, and phone banking is at the top of the most effective things to do list.

A group of 15 of us gathered at 10:00 this morning for a training and then spent a couple of hours making calls to democrats in CA-10, Josh Harder’s district. This was extremely easy and satisfying because we were only checking in with folks to see how they were doing, inquiring as to their health and safety, and asking if Rep Harder could provide any assistance. Of my 22 calls:

-6 were bad numbers

10 accepted messages on their answering machines

-2 had full mail boxes

-4 were live people, all of whom were enormously grateful for the call

Josh Harder is a newly elected democrat, up again in 2020 in a very red district. His win last time was of the slimmest of margins. He is considered vulnerable and his win an essential part of retaining the house. I’ve been part of a voter reg group that’s gone down to Modesto and Manteca several times to register voters on college campuses and expect to canvass there, as well, when guidelines are lifted.

But for now…  it’s phone banking.

 

Day #14

March 27, 2020

Coronavirus sequester Day #14.

It was a quintessential CV isolation day…. novel activities for a novel virus pandemic.

There was, of course, the standard social distancing…

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I took this picture when on a walk with LL. She was in Sacramento, I was in Davis and we talked throughout the entire walk. Honestly.. it was great. Would love to see her, but this was, in some ways better (under the circumstances). We could have all the benefits of a beautiful walk (see pics below), while maintaining a safe distance. Each of us is hard of hearing, so walking at 6′ apart is sort of hilarious (in a sad way). Connected instead on our cell phones, we could walk with our earbuds in… which is great sound! And, we saved gas. Lot of positives.

Here are some nice pics from “our” walk:

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I took a similar picture a week or two ago, but now the branches are full of leaves and blossoms:

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So that was my walk… nearly 90 minutes of exercise, connection and photographing. Then:

– I did a little work on my recipe organization project;

– Jim and I had a wonderful conversation with Peter (who’s a bit bored and ready to get back to classes Monday);

– I had a Zoom meeting with the Communications Committee and prepared a proposal  — like, a real proposal with rationales, objectives.. the works — thereafter for the leadership team… which was feeling a little too close to the work bone, but also kind of fun;

– Jim and I watched episodes 5 and 6 of Brockmire (the reintroduction of entertainment media into our lives is fantastic).

And then, AND THEN, I went to a distance cocktail party.  This was loosely organized by a neighbor a few blocks away, envisioned as a way to bring folks out of isolation to socialize close to home, but in a safe distance-maintaining kind of way. Some neighbors actually thought this violated the Yolo County Health Dept Guidelines (and said so quite lecturingly), but enough of us felt we could handle ourselves in a conscientious way and gathered anyway (rebels!).  Besides, we decided mental health was also a worthy objective. We each brought our own cocktails (me, sauvignon blanc in a mason jar) and snacks (me, crackers in a baggie) and chairs. And committed to doing it weekly until the guidelines are lifted. Nice way to meet some neighbors. Here are some pics (the good ones taken by neighbor Adam):

These UCD seniors brought their couch to the sidewalk (of course)..

The Social Distance Cocktail Party

Our hosts Beth and John..

The Social Distance Cocktail Party

Ron and Wendy, playing a lot of Grateful Dead and other 60s peace tunes, with Jan and Adam (and dog) enjoying right along …

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A closer look at Ron and Wendy..

The Social Distance Cocktail Party

It’s funny….. three people, whom I’ve met through political action in the last 3 years, live within 3 blocks of one another on A Street (Beth, Meghan, Wendy.. and of course me). What are the chances?

Oh, and finally, I gave myself a haircut. Bad hair is a sad reality and a telling artifact of our stay-at-home and/or socially distancing M.O these days. A funny joke going around is that we are all about to see what everybody’s true hair color is, as our hair grows out shaggier and shaggier, grey-er and grey-er.

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Adam took a photo of me, which I’ll crop in order to illustrate my point/s:

The Social Distance Cocktail Party

(Ouch.) Bad haircut and grey emerging. But I’m good with that. These are extraordinary times.

So, on this, the eve of week three of the global pandemic stay-at-home order, I managed to fill my day with novel novel coronavirus activities… self haircuts, zoom meetings, remote walks with friends, streaming media, long fallow projects, and a distance cocktail party.

Makin’ the most.

Melted Anchovies

March 26, 2020

Melting the anchovies is a new one on me. But it was a recipe that seemed worth trying.

It came from a New York Times article on recipes that draw from your current pantry… basically a response to the fact all of us are in stay at home mode — strict orders from, in this case, the California Governor — and we may not be grocery shopping as frequently as usual, and may be running short on ideas for what to cook, given we’re having to rely on relics from our pantries for ingredients.

This one called for tuna, capers and anchovies. (And the truth is, I had to go to the store to buy capers and anchovies… since I’d recently tossed 3 small jars of ancient capers and we had sardines but no anchovies in our panty.)

Here’re the ingredients, all prepped and ready to go:

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And the recipe…

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Jim’s and my rating is on a 4-star scale… I gave it a 3.5, Jim gave it a 3.  I didn’t take a pic of the finished dish, but it was angel hair and with the garnish, was very presentable. Served it with some steamed zuc… just to get some veggies.

I’ve been threatening Jim for, oh, about 21 years, that I was ready to get back to sharing a bit of the cooking. I used to cook a lot — Jim cooked a bit, as well, but I did the lion’s share — then, when Peter was born, Jim stepped in and pretty much took over all of the cooking. I was grateful! And he became a very good cook! He’s a natural because he has no fear of winging it and has a remarkable sense of taste. Like having an ear for music, he has a keen sense of flavors, can usually identify what’s in a dish, what it’s short on, what it needs for balance… he’s just really good that way. And never follows recipes (unless he’s baking or making something like batter for pancakes or waffles). He’s definitely produced some bombs, but for the most part, his dishes are really, really tasty.

 
I am a recipe person….which was one of my barriers to reassuming cooking duties. I felt like I had to organize all of my recipes first before I could re-launch into regular meal prep. And of course this was a project that sat dormant for a couple of decades… as big projects do, right? (RIGHT!?)

I subscribed to the NYT cooking thing (what is it called??) and have been doing the modern equivalent of clipping recipes for about six months, and am amassing quite a collection… so little by little have been venturing back into the kitchen.. much to Jim’s shock, I am quite sure.

Part of it is shame, too. I can’t, with good conscience, not do something with all of this free time (coronavirus free time). I mean, I have literally hours and hours of free time right now — in EVERY day. I’m blogging, I’m getting a lot of exercise, I’m committing a lot of hours to 2020 election stuff (I sure hope we have an election in November), I’m reading way too much news (but I guess that’s okay since we’re living in the most weirdly newsworthy time in history)…and I still have loads of time left over. So I may as well cook, right?

I’m also running out of things to blog about since my days have become repeats of one another… walks, spring flowers, anger and despair at the current state of our politics, coronavirus states of affair and the resulting shut down of society and life as we know it … what else is there?

Thus… a cooking post. Hopefully there will be more!

 

 

 

Adaptation

March 25, 2020

Here are a couple of examples of what people do when in the middle of a virus pandemic and nothing is as it was.

Nephew John who manages Legends, a huge and hugely popular sports bar in the heart of the very bustling 2nd Street district in Long Beach, got hit from multiple different angles. First, one by one, major sports teams suspended their seasons, their tournaments, their spring training..  that’s just terrible news for a sports bar that is covered wall-to-wall in screens big and bigger. In addition to that, the annual Grand Prix — a road race that takes place on the streets and boulevards of downtown Long Beach  — that is a huge event for all the local bars and restaurants, has been canceled this year.  Adding insult to injury, Governor Newsom called for the closure, first, of all bars, then of all restaurants. Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch.

Besides having to lay off (or at least send home) dozens (hundreds) of staff members, they have a huge inventory of food and drink. So.. instead of letting all that stuff go to waste, they decided to see if people would want to buy it..

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… and they did! They are taking a huge hit on nearly every front, but at least can recoup some of their losses through these small sales.

Kellie, the massage therapist I have gone to for .. gosh .. about five years now, decided to turn her creativity and incredible talent to the task of making cute mask covers.. because those medical masks that people are wearing all over town are so… medical looking.  Get a look at this!

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Me… not as industrious… I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Here are a few shots from this morning’s absolutely beautiful outing:

Some crazy daisies…one bush, two different colors.. just delightful..

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The Bridges, at the corner of A St and B St (one of my favorite addresses in Davis), are hosting a bit of sidewalk chalk art…

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Community Park in fine, if sparsely attended, form…

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I’m just loving our front yard..

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And these… which I’ve never identified, never planted, but which come back every year… and I love..

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For example, I was just sitting here burrowing deeper and deeper under my fluffy blanket, next to the fire, listening to the pouring rain…

 

 

 

And by the time I finished writing that, the rain vanished, the sun came out blazing, and the living room is now full of sunbeams and rainbows. As I look outside, I see water dripping from birch leaves that are shimmering in a light breeze and a bright blue sky with a few puffy clouds. What the heck.

I suddenly feel silly under my blanket.. let me see if I can get a pic of this suddenly spring afternoon… brb.

—–

Ok, here’s what I got:

The backyard birch, right next to the deck.. (deck.. we now have a deck!)

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Wet leaf on said birch…

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Looking back toward house, water dribbling off said deck…

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(Just noticed, the sky’s about the same color as the house… that would be Bella Blue.)

So.. what I was going to talk about in this blog post is the change apparently a – comin’ in the US’s, uh, fight against the coronavirus. We apparently have won! And won big.

Just going to cut to the chase here: as we are all gearing up for a battle we think is just getting started, the president has decided it’s over. He anticipates that by Easter (about 2.5 weeks from now) we will all be congregating in big, beautiful crowds for Easter services in our nation’s churches.. because he now sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He says this in a press briefing (which I’m happy to say I missed) to the shock of every public health professional on the planet.

Who am I to say he’s wrong? What do I know? I guess we’ll all see.

So change. You think you’re going in one direction and then you’re not.

 

 

 

 

 

Day #10

March 23, 2020

So, I started keeping this little pandemic journal. I felt compelled for a couple of reasons. One, we are all in a sort of collective global twilight zone of uncertainty, helplessness, ever-changing rules and death, which is absolutely unique in all of our experiences. We are witness to the world unraveling on every imaginable front. This is truly a bizarre time. You could be terrified if you thought too much about it, or if you’d read too many apocalyptic end of times books. It really can seem surreal and scary and out of control. So, yes, this certainly is worthy of documenting.

And two, most of us are isolated in our homes, trying to make our way thoughtfully through the days, trying to figure out how to organize our time to be productive and healthy (both physically and emotionally). As I’ve said before, for some, that’s a more complicated task because they might have kids, might have older parents, might have jobs to maintain or other obligations. Retired me, I’m just short a few regular activities and suddenly having all this time at home, largely alone. It’s become this unique opportunity to really do something with all this new-found time. It’s been a work in progress as I balance the desire to keep up with the tsunami of breathtaking news every day, with the desire to stay sane and fulfilled with activities like exercise, writing, reading, the aforementioned exciting-new-projects, and household stuff (like cooking, shopping and cleaning.. esp now that we’ve told Miguel not to come until all this is over).

So I think it’s good to note what kinds of things I’m doing and the things I can’t do .. as a way to document this moment generally, and I think it’s good to be intentional about what I do do, and accountable so the days don’t just slip away.

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It’s funny.. we don’t know how long this is going to go on. Listening to the press briefing today, the president came out with this new idea that “the cure is worse than the problem” and wants to end this social distancing thing and get people out of their houses and back to work as a way to bring the economy back from the brink of collapse. I could write a thousand things about that, about how he’s focused more on the economy than on the health and wellbeing of the people of the country, and how his political future depends on a robust and growing economy, so damn everything else. I could write about how there’s a part of me that actually understands what he says about the cure/problem thing, and thinks there’s something to explore in that, but that’s not for me to worry about, not being a public health or economy expert.

But I’m more wanting to reflect on how so many of us were settling in for the long haul, expecting this situation to go on for a very long time, beginning to accept that “sheltering in place” or “staying at home” or “lockdown” was going to be a protracted reality and it was shaping up to be this rare opportunity to slow the heck down and reconnect with ourselves, or learn about ourselves, or at the very least reinvigorate some long-idle project or hobby or whatever.  I mean, I still have an item on my to-do list that says: set some goals for the long sequestration; make a daily plan.

And now it may be over before I even get started on any of that. Seriously, it’s only day #10 of self-isolation .. and I haven’t done anything spectacular yet!

 

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I haven’t figured out everything about managing my time during these long, homebound days, but one thing I can rely on is lots of walks. I am also upping my podcast game. Building a nice library as we speak. Besides a bunch of NPR program favorites (Hidden Brain, This American Life, Fresh Air, Wait Wait),  I discovered one yesterday called Pod Save America that I really enjoyed (a bunch of dem strategists, strategizing) and have a few more queued up: Buddhist Boot Camp, Unlocking Us (Brene Brown), Rachel Maddow, and The Daily, which has been great for deeper dives into current news.

I can also imagine walks could be a good time to have phone conversations with people. I’m actually missing people.

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Those were daisies along B Street and a pretty blooming tree at Community Park.