Monday, January 23, 2017

They Were There

My brother and my cousins and my daughter and my son  - they all were there and they've all agreed that I can share their stories.  

Brother sent this to me and his Chicago-based daughter.  He tells a great story. Some of the language is not suitable for children, but there are no Alternative Facts in the tale.
Tina (our German citizen neighbor across the street ) drove the Metro at 8:00 am.  Curious how an International Monetary Fund employee, a non-citizen, is protesting for women’s rights in Washington DC.  Imagine you doing that in Tehran or Ramallah.

Wife and Daughter and Crowd
We got one of the last parking spots.  It took 10 minutes to walk down the usually empty stairs to the Metro to fight the crowds to get on the train which left Shady Grove at the end of the line completely full. Never been a crowd like that.  We elbowed our way through the crowds ... (and  there was a farecard kefuffle and Brother became separated from his wife and daughter and neighbor) 

Walked home, tried to get a donut, but there was a line about 10 minutes long at the also usually empty Dunkin' Donuts. Many people walking toward the Metro.  I explained three times that they better have a Metro farecard because the lines to the machines were 20 minutes long.  

Had a nice chat with Raoul who was delivering gas to the BP station.  He liked my hat and the flag on my jacket. 

Brother's hat courtesy of his eldest siste
He came here legally and is mad at the people who didn’t follow the rules and now want to stay.  He also opposes abortion and says that the woman will have to deal with the mental aftermath but that is her problem.  He agrees with Bill Clinton that abortion should be rare but safe.  Maybe agrees.

Got home, loaded the Brompton folding bike into the front seat of the Miata and drove to (his old synagogue) where I got a good parking spot.  Rode the last 12 miles downtown and wound up walking through hordes of angry sign carrying humans.  Fellow Brompton riders shout “Hey, Nice Brompton.”  Must be a thing.  

No way I could get to (his companions) near Air and Space. Crowds way too big to move around.  Had to march 2 blocks the wrong way for 20 minutes to thread my way across Independence Ave. with the Brompton.

If HRC had won, and this was an anti-Clinton rally, these same marchers would be up in arms about the alt-righters being sore losers. Imagine hundreds of people not wearing the ubiquitous FUCK TRUMP shirts, but instead wearing FUCK OBAMA shirts 8 years ago, demanding love and understanding of gun rights and calling for revolution. (I can’t imagine anyone wanting to wear a FUCK HILARY shirt – mixed message there.) 

It is now 6:45 pm, Metro completely underestimated the crowds, and is advising people to stay downtown until Metro can hire more people, buy more train cars, fix the tracks, and maybe get you home safely.  WTOP reports people are still walking from the Capitol to the White House along unplanned unpermitted routes down both Constitution and Independence Avenues.  

There were huge crowds all over downtown because there was no real parade route, no Jumbotrons, no central sound system, no real plan.  Just come on down and be heard.  The weather is moist 50 degrees and this was the most piss poor planned event in DC history, but truly exemplifies the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Let us all pray that Donald Trump will in fact Keep America Great and be overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020 by the largest voter turnout in history.  

And go buy a lottery ticket. Who knows, it might happen.
And his daughter replied: Rights are nice. I like having rights. 
I asked for permission to share his rant (for a rant it surely is) and this was the end to his reply:
Love and kisses from your angry old white man brother whose anger is evenly and randomly distributed among the haters and hatees. 

The king is dead long live the king.
Tomorrow, more thoughts and photos from those who were there.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Will You Be Watching?

My shooter is in prison for 20 years for interfering with my participation in a civic event, not for trying to kill me.  That has always felt right to me; there has been a chilling effect on my public participation in political gatherings ever since bullets and I intersected at Gabby Giffords's Congress on Your Corner.  My fears overwhelm my desire to participate.

Friday morning, I'll be faced with a similar situation.  The fear is psychic not corporeal, unless throwing up counts as a physical threat.  I have to decide whether or not I will join TBG as he watches the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America.

I don't know what I'll call him in The Burrow.  I have respect for the office, but I cried last week when I saw Barack Obama's portrait in the Federal Courthouse lobby... cried because his replacement has yet to demonstrate that he, himself, deserves my respect.

He thinks it's okay to brag about grabbing and seducing and kissing with impunity.  I am as appalled by the bragging as I am about the acts.

I used to take the kids out to Bill Clinton Dinners.

We'd dress up and find a restaurant with tablecloths and behave as if POTUS was dining with us.  We had serious conversations and practiced being adults.  It was playacting and it was rehearsals and it was altogether wonderful.

The name became somewhat risible once this photo surfaced in 1992, but we never stopped having Bill Clinton Dinners.  The lessons were important.

FlapJilly's invitation to a Donald Trump Dinner would involve warnings about inappropriate touching.

Seriously. Would you encourage your daughter to spend time alone with him?  Am I overstating the case?  I really don't think so.

As the inauguration comes closer, I'm finding myself unable to listen to NPR; they keep talking about President Trump.  I'm not a safe driver when I hear that.  I had this reaction immediately after the election, but, up until today, I was feeling proud of my ability to accept the reality of the result.
Then, as I watched the Trump family leaving Blair House for a gala at Union Station on Thursday night, I found myself taking deep breaths, trying not to retch.

This is really happening and I'm having a panic attack.  It's not a useful reaction, but it's my reaction and The Burrow is the repository for my truths.

I know I'm not alone.  The Bride bristles with righteous indignation and a modicum of fear as her Facebook feed fills with incidences of anti-Semitism.  Little Cuter worries about the world in which her daughter will grow to girlhood.  Mrs & Mrs Realtor are bringing a new life into a world which is becoming ever more hostile to their love. My gynecologist is doing 7 or 8 IUD's a day, every day since the world went to Hell in a hand-basket.

I just don't think that I can sit on Douglas and watch this happen.  I don't want to listen to the list of those who are not attending.  If Rep. John Lewis thinks it is appropriate to absent himself, res ipso loquitor (the thing speaks for itself).

And then there is the whole thing about the ratings.  I'm turning all the devices in the house to NatGeo; TBG can switch to the parade and the speechifying and the swearing in if he feels the need. I'm going to walk on Christina-Taylor's path and try to make sense of things.  Perhaps she has some suggestions.  I'm fresh out.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Annual Butterfly Exhibit at Tucson Botanical Gardens

Certainly, there are plants at the Botanical Gardens.
Some make you smile, like these cacti Scarlett named Llamas

I see snails with their necks elongated.
We laughed at both descriptions.
This was all on the way to the tropical environs and big bigger biggest leaves in the desert in The Butterfly Experience.
These LBT's (Little Brown Things) were everywhere, fully exposed and camouflaged.

One circled me, but decided not to land.
I was kinda sorta glad about that.
You are warned to avoid touching the butterflies if they land on you.  
You are also warned to avoid stepping on them.
Their life-cycle spans 2 to 3 weeks; no need to shorten it by human intervention.

We stood for a while, watching the proboscis probe as the antennae and wings provided balance.
A friend came to visit, skirting my elbow and sharing the nectar as his (her?) wings fluttered.
They didn't seem to notice us, which was vaguely insulting.

These orchids were mesmerizing, a burst of pink amidst the green and the humidity.

Up close and personal to an orchid tendril, I found this multi-eyed beauty, soaking up the goodies.

There was another on a sturdier leaf, resting, perhaps, after sucking nectar. 

This is the inside, the view from above when the little beastie is flying.  

It would blend right into the sky and the clouds and the dark ground below, wouldn't it?  

We seem to be making this an annual adventure, Scarlett and I.... although it might become a monthly visit; they receive a new shipment of chrysalises every three weeks or so.  I'm kinda sorta curious about the next set of visitors.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Frida Khalo at the Tucson Botanical Garden

Frida Khalo and Diego  Rivera were artists and activists.
They were gardeners, too.
Who knew?  Not I, that's for sure.  Yet Scarlett and I spent a lovely Tuesday morning with Tucson's recreation of their Casa Azul.  The blue was a perfect match to our summer skies, a perfect reminder on a cooler winter day.  The orange is echoed in every other house here in The Old Pueblo.  It all felt very close to home, tempered with a bit of I-could-never-live-so-bright-a-life.
They had a ziggurat, or is it a pyramid, or is it an artists rendering of the search for heaven?
The Botanical Garden made one just for us, and adorned it with the plants that they (and we) could grow.  There was fauna to accompany the flora, with real frogs living above the ceramic toads in their pond.
Though their walls probably didn't have explanatory posters
I'm sure the windows were exquisitely placed, just as these were.
The Botanical Garden engages the community in their programming.
These skeletons were created by Senior Citizens (sic) in one of their Outreach Programs.
They were a little creepy for our taste, but they did make me smile.
We walked past the "plant these in your garden" beds and the model railroad layout and sat on several of the lovely benches while we waited for a pause in the endless stream of high school students on a field trip to the Butterfly Exhibit.
We agreed that Frida is not our favorite artist, but that the Tucson Botanical Garden had represented her well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Matter of Perspective

Little Cuter was right this morning, when she said that my generation was used to taking to the streets to fight for what's right.  Her generation never had to do that, until very recently.  It's not what they saw on television growing up; those battles weren't being fought that way in the 1980's and '90's.  

In 1969 I left my Spring Formal dress in the closet in Ithaca as I rode to Washington, DC for the Mobilization Against the War. It was as close to being a Freedom Fighter, busing through the Deep South and registering voters, as my generation was able to get.  I'd seen it, I'd read it in the newspapers.  It was real and relevant and it inspired me to leave that fancy fraternity party behind in order to make a difference.

I don't remember my parents registering dismay or apprehension about the trip, either.  The country was in an uproar and a statement needed to be made and why shouldn't I make it?  I was prepared to be tear gassed, but the nearest we came to disaster was the officer on horseback encouraging us to get out of the pond surrounding the burbling fountains on Constitution Avenue before he had to take us to jail.

I wonder if these women set off with similar high hopes?
image:Library of Congress
They left New York City on February 12, 1912 and hiked to Washington, DC

There, they joined The Woman Suffrage Procession.

They came from all over the world, and all over the country, too.
image:Library of Congress
It looked like a lot of fun, 
image:Library of Congress
until the hostile crowds blocked their way.  
image:Library of Congress
One hundred women were hospitalized.  Women won the right to vote..... eight years later.

I don't know what kind of impact the Women's March on Washington will have, but I know where the heart and soul of it began.

(Thanks to Alex Q. Arbuckle for the photos and the history)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Shoelaces and Love - A Snippet

I've been reading Dr. Seuss to the 7 kindergarten classrooms at Prince Elementary School helping with the transition from recess to classwork.

I hang out with the kids on the playground before then; there are hugs and there are Hi, Grandma!!'s and there are untied shoelaces.  I believe that the Untying Fairy flies over the area and afflicts every other shoe in the vicinity.

I used to bend over and tie one and move on.  Lately, now that the kindergarteners and I have bonded over Horton hatching that egg, I've had to sit on the ground.  There are too many to do in a crouch... even when I could crouch with comfort.

And there I was on Friday, looking at untied and too long laces and knotted laces and soaking wet laces and muddy laces when I noticed a pair of grey shoes, laces loosely but securely tied. I watched from the corner of my eye as one shoe, slowly and stealthily, tugged on the longer end of the other shoe's lace, untying it.

It took a while, but that lace ended up in the Bring me that shoelace! brigade surrounding me.

Who knew that tying shoelaces would be a thing?  Love shows up in the most unexpected places, sometimes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

When They Surprise You

He does it because he almost lost me.  He worries.  A lot.

So his look of relief - when I announced that I didn't think I was physically up to walking in January in D.C. with thousands of other people for miles and miles even though were I able to go I would, for sure - wasn't unexpected.

So tonight, when I said that if I could get on a bus and sleep all the way to Washington, arriving at just the right time and dropped off as close as possible to wherever we wanted to be and then picked up at a logical location and driven home, he surprised me.

After 46 years together, surprises are few and far between.

"Well, why don't you go on-line and see if there's a bus company that will do that?"

The weather's going to be fine.  JannyLou's going and so is my gynecologist.  She doesn't have a pussy hat, but she has t-shirts in a similar vein.

"Will I worry? Of course I will.  And please don't ask me to go with you (TBG does not do crowds.) But if there is one peace-time issue that is worth going to Washington for, it's this.  And I totally get your need to go; it's such a you thing to do."

It's 33 hours across I-10 or $1000 for a change-planes-trip and 2 days and 16 hours on 7 different buses and Amtrak has Coach seats for 51 hours so I'm looking for another way to speak out that day, but I do it with a great big smile on my face.

For almost five decades, I've listened to TBG sing the praises of strong women.  Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights seems so obvious to him.  He'll be the first to tell you that a civilization can be judged by the way it treats women.  I wasn't surprised that he thought it was the right thing to do.

I was surprised that his worry about the future of America outweighed his worry about the safety of his wife.  I was surprised that he wanted me to go. He wanted me to make a statement because a statement needed to be made and I was the person to make it.  Of course he would worry; he worries whenever I walk out the door.  It's the way it is when someone you care about goes to the grocery store and ends up with bullet wounds.

But for this, for standing up to misogyny and disrespect, against the lies and the nihilism and the obvious disregard for anything beyond his own small mindedness, for this President (for President he surely will be) - for this he would worry but not worry-enough-more-to-matter.

That was a big surprise... and, then again, maybe it shouldn't have been.

It's a sign of the times, my friends.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yarn Bombing in Tucson

The Yarn Bomber came to Tucson last weekend.
We took donated pieces
of which there were many
sent to the YarnBomber from Arkansas and Ontario
and Thrift Shops around the country
and embellished the larger ones with smaller ones
before attaching them together in building-wrap sizes.
We set up inside for small work and outside for the larger constructions.
Denizens, I have to say that there's lying on the concrete, bleeding to death, 
and there's lying on the concrete, sewing pieces of whimsy together,
and my brand-new-Holiday-Celebration-Tour-sneaker (over there, on the right) and I are here to tell you that this way is much better. 
 The Brit Who Hugs made pretend snow angels on her section as she agreed with me.  I was having too much fun watching her, and being glad about the fact that I was there to watch her, to stop and take a picture.  You'll just have to imagine our giant, life affirming, in-the-moment, smiles.  

Here she is, with her husband and Kid The Younger, working on the aliens' spacecraft:
What aliens?
These aliens.
(oh, for a better camera)
They sit on the roof of Tucson Medical Center's Hospital for Children,
ferried from Santa Barbara by Stephen Dunier, the YarnBomber, himself.
The installation was not simple.
Sizing and piecing together just the right colors and patterns and shapes and textures required an artists' eye in addition to lots of extra long zip ties.

The single afghan covering the single panel is, he said, his favorite piece.  
He said this after an emphatic "NO!" and while I removed the very long, very bright pink embellishment he described as: 
"You couldn't help yourself, could you?!?!"

Alone, it echoes the texture and the color of the building itself.

That's why he's the artist and I stuck to my whip stitches.
I admit it.  I was addicted to the colors.

I sat on the concrete on the anniversary of the worst day of my life and I measured and rearranged and stitched pieces like this:
I just kept on smiling, doing a nonsensical but eminently logical bit of whimsy on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It was perfect.

Yes, that's a Ninja Turtle above me.  
Every kid noticed him.
That gave me the opportunity to escort them and their parents out a little bit into the driveway so that 
they could see the aliens on the rooftop.
The pieces on the top weren't connected yet, but our audience didn't seem to notice.

I wondered who'd sewn all those granny squares together and if she was glad that her work was part of the LOVE section of the wall?
I wondered who'd cut and twisted all those plastic bags to make the first three pieces on the edge.  I stitched them together, faux yarn at its finest, and thought about sustainability and distribution of resources and then I just smiled.
It was the anniversary of the worst weekend in my life, in Tucson's life, and there we were, laughing and having a great time doing something that had absolutely no utilitarian value.  And it was good.  It was whimsical and beautiful and I know that Christina-Taylor and I would have had a lot of fun, being there together, which, of course, we were
I wanted to spend that time with purpose and connection.
I did.
I didn't know, but I soon found out, that there could also be joy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Sighed Aloud

Did you?

About 45 minutes into the speech, that beautiful, rhetorically marvelous, speech tonight, I sighed aloud. The audience did, too.  I can't remember the context beyond the fact that he is leaving.

I sighed.

Going forward, I imagine I'll be outraged and horrified and I'll be screaming and groaning.  But tonight, watching the Father In Chief do Aaron Sorkin as well as Aaron Sorkin does Aaron Sorkin, I sighed.

And then, I cried.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Doing The Work

NPR told me that unfriending people on Facebook is not the way to advance the discussion.  The panel told me to listen, to learn, to open my mind to hearing disparate views.
Image may contain: text
I'm fine with that.

My No Labels quotes, shared on my Facebook page, get positive responses from the most conservative, Evangelical, not-on-my-page-at-all, connections.

There is something to be said about finding a center, about working with one another instead of screaming as we hold onto the outer edges of our beliefs.  I'm trying to be open minded.

TBG says that Hillbilly Elegy opened his eyes to the other. Watching Longmire on Netflix last night reminded us that not everyone lives within shouting distance of a Walgreens or a Walmart.  The disconnect between what I feel and what is happening seems to be getting wider with every passing hour.  I'm trying to bridge the gap.

And then I think of the gunman in Ft. Lauderdale.

He reloaded 3 times.

Had our shooter had the chance to reload, I am certain that I would
not be sitting at my desk typing this to you.  I would be dead.  But citizen heroes, Roger Salzgeber and Col. Bill Badger, 70 year old white guys just standing in line like the rest of us, jumped over fallen bodies and tackled the man before he could put another magazine in his Glock.  Pat Maisch grappled for the magazine, wrenching it away before more damage could be done.

There were no heroes in Ft. Lauderdale.  There were people running for their lives (understandable) and people hiding in terror (even more understandable) and people who lost their shoes and their luggage and their identification in the tumult (laughable, in a dark humor sort of way) but there were no people willing to jump the gunman and disarm him.

As Pat Maisch said in her editorial, here in Tucson two brave men, good guys without guns...tackled the shooter without regard for their own safety.  How sad that there were no heroes in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale.  How many lives might have been saved?  

Teddy Roosevelt was right:

Sometimes, the solution involves putting yourself at risk.  Sometimes the solution is as simple as making a phone call.  Sitting quietly on the sidelines is not an option.  We are all in this together.  We all need to do the work.


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