Category Archives: Rants and Laments

The white underwing

I happed upon this image just before a writing session. Here’s most of what I wrote.

Up, anxious, sitting on the pot. Above the bathroom curtain’s ruffle, I can see a section of the night sky. A wedge of moon travels above Linshaw’s roof and into the netted shadows of their massive copper beech.

That tree, part sentinel, part cautionary tale, is hundreds of years old. It was a sapling during the small pox epidemic of the late 1700’s. It grabbed sky in one direction and earth in the other when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Horses and a stream wandered nearby.

The beech was bigger yet at the Emancipation Proclamation. By the time of the Spanish flu perhaps the twin trunks had established themselves.

The white planked house is old too, but not nearly as old as the tree. I like to think that old Abraham Jackson sited the foundation with due regard for the tree, a tree which was still in its youth but already punctuating his property with its mighty grace.

The moon in her delicate variety is older yet, so old that a different scale of time is required. The coal-to-diamond scale. The asteroid-encounter scale.

All I can think about during my brief viewing of the night sky is how insular I’ve become. A life apart from the wonder of puddles and their up-side-down worlds. Apart from trout and hummingbirds. Apart from the cleansing sweep of cold night air in the lungs.

Oh I go outside, but my walks with the dog are more like mail delivery than adventure. Making the rounds. A chance to take stock of all the closed blinds and to wonder why so few structures ever show any signs of life.

When I lived on the other side of the state in the Berkshires all I had to do was raise my head off the pillow and gaze out my eastern window to be transported. Sheep’s Heaven Mountain. The mountain’s name whispered: time passes, time passes. Not that long ago the wooded hill was bare and dotted with sheep.

Here the horizon is rooved. One neighbor painted their house a bright yellow this year. At first I wondered about their choice but today I look out and its yolky warmth is welcome in all the grey.

All the grey can dull the senses. Maybe that’s why the news photo of a snowy owl in Washington, DC captivated me this morning. She’d made her way south from her usual haunts. She could be yet another signal of the drastic climate change we’re all so busily — in one way or another — trying to ignore.

But when I spy her fluffed up against the cold atop a statue of Themis, a figure representing freedom and justice, I like to think she stands for something else. That she augurs change. I like to think that when she lifts her wings and reveals their white undersides, we are meant to notice and in noticing, act.

I don’t believe the arc of the moral universe necessarily bends toward justice. There are too many ways we can fail. But this bird perched on the head of a goddess carrying the sword of justice lets me think we have a chance. A chance to make things right. A chance to live up to our promise and to atone for our sins. Not because I say so, but because a solitary owl, mysterious and commanding, has told me so.

one week out RANT

May I be peaceful. May I be free of inner and outer harm. May our nation be peaceful. May our nation be free of inner and outer harm.

On the fateful night, although not the decisive night, one friend plans to zoom with her Quaker community, another to block out all media. I say with a barking laugh: “Oh, it’s ice cream and Steve Kornacki for me!” Last time, I stayed awake. I drew a map of Florida and prayed over it. I saw the dismal, bleak, heartbreaking result before dawn, which by the way was not shocking because ever since a certain lanky G-man had made a catastrophic announcement about emails, I’d been sick to my stomach. Part of me knew already. Could not be shocked. Is it a good and decent sign that no such sick feeling attends these final days? Flutters of panic, passing visions of chaos in Pennsylvania, but no stomach ache.

Even with one of the Orange Buffoon’s Supreme Court appointments practically quoting the propaganda machine in an anti-democratic voting rights decision favoring republicans, I don’t feel sick yet. (There’s Gorsuch parroting Fox News about the need to have results on Election Night, adding “or soon thereafter,” just to sound lawyerly).

Isn’t it awful that “anti-democratic republican position” is now a redundancy? One Party Minority Rule is their game — and not a good solo party, either, but a regressive one with allegiances to business that will wreck the environment, with Federalist Society reasoning that tries to mask their sexism and racism, but can’t. Bye, bye voting rights! Bye, bye legal contraception (and you thought just abortion was on the line?) Bye, bye legal same sex marriage. Due process will have three months to fall during the next President’s 180-day Commission, that is, if we win and win big.

If we win and win big, the centrist party will have to turn a fire hose back on the other side of the aisle. We wont’ stand for less! All legal, of course, and perfectly Constitutional — “balancing” to “packing.” But really, why take it sitting down, with our heads in our hands?

Here’s the thing — AND IT’S NO SMALL THING — the right wing will revile whatever we do — even the centrist politician’s tip-toeing along, touting the virtues of incremental change — so we might as well be bold and decisive. Which is not to say I’m about to put a rose in my twitter moniker.

She makes calls to Wisconsin, another to North Carolina. The friend from Cleveland shares the podcast about white suburban women changing their minds (not my mind, mind). I gave a chunk of money to secureblue (again!) because who can say NO to President Obama? Also: made a gift to a Wisconsin voting advocacy group, because: Gorsuch. NO MORE MAIL!

Because a certain handmaid on a balcony stands ready to proselytize in jihadist extremes from our highest court. There she was in black with a tight smile, I’m guessing her only kind of smile, and pearls, standing next to the fat orange transgressive machine of destruction. Posing for Reality President TV. Will we be free of the beige, racist eunuch of a son-in-law, who’s speciality, for all I can make out, is failure? Well, and maybe crimes against humanity. Will we be rid of the Goya-posing reconstructed daughter that Daddy would’ve liked to fuck both before and after her many surgeries? Please say yes. Rid of them. Gone. Please say yes.

May those with sense be ready with a replacement health care plan, Supreme Court work-around built in. Then let the minority (may they be a minority!) bring 50-60 — or WAS IT 70? — bills to try and repeal THAT. McConnell closes up what some have called “the most expensive lunch club in DC” until November 9. Can you imagine being so cravenas to advance his justices with lightning speed and leave Americans in need hanging? Seriously, (and Mr. Necrotic Hands did more than take a fall, by the way), he knows his Stupid Prick of a leader is about to go down. He knows he himself hasn’t got much longer. Else he might not have taken such an inglorious and hypocritical approach to the Supreme Court vacancy. He’s grossly miscalculated, says one. It’ll backfire, many assert and I want to believe them.

Meanwhile, there’s joy at the polls. Trucks with music, activists with pizza. The moon is waxing. The leaves are falling. Babies are being born, dogs walked, prayers uttered. May they go down in flames. May the defeat be so decisive that not even the machinations of a certain MIA TOAD attorney general can pervert it.

May I be peaceful. May I be free of inner and out harm. May our nation be peaceful. May our nation be free of inner and outer harm.

—- * —-

Notes :
Collage made with dianaphoto app and includes a paper collage made while in Italy (the Buddhist monk — probably from National Geographic) and an image of Mahershala Ali (probably from Vanity Fair). Prayer is from Buddhist tradition. Lanky G-man is of course, James Comey; the recent SCOTUS opinion concerned whether Wisconsin could count ballots post-marked before Nov. 3, but arriving some days later. The answer was no; the miscalculation of McConnell’s was explored in a long thread on twitter by @realhoarse and the thread is here.

Joy at the polls — you’ve probably seen

Rant or Lament?

Can’t tell if this is a rant or a lament. That may be evidence that I badly need to get out of the house and go camping or it may signal something about this extraordinary age. Probably both.

That’s when I got the idea about sleeping out in the forest: pine needle pillow; pricks of stars visible through the jagged, vertical pines; shadows. Hoots and cricks, some scary, some soothing but all better than the eternal thrum of the AC system and its chill result. What are we? Slabs of meat in the walk-in cooler waiting for the sous chef to grab and fry? The heat knows no bounds. Or at least, previous bounds exceeded. 90, 91, 95, 97. Even the dog gets tired after a block.

I drape my bra on the back of my chair — convention set aside. Where am I going anyway? I can speak to a neighbor at the lot line with my arms across my chest.

The deck at night offers no alternative because of all the AC generators littering yards nearby, thrumming into action at regular intervals. Plus traffic two blocks over. You don’t hear traffic in the daylight because of all the suburban sounds of improvement and maintenance — yawing, sawing, polishing, blowing, hammering, trimming, and trucks, trucks, trucks.

The place of my birth always lies to the north or west. Where I write in community in August quite nearly on top of my birth town and so the geography speaks to home as little else can. When no single school, no single neighborhood, not one state, even, claims your history, let the rolling hills and the clinging mists at dawn speak to home. Those hills. Old, old mountains. Not the majesty of young upstarts like the Rockies, but the soothing ancient rolls of tree-covered dirt and stone. That’s where I’d like to sleep.

After a long solitary walk away from the conference center’s line of Adirondack chairs. A creeping fear of bears. A constant look-out for the bite of a tick. Scraping through damp grasses until shadow and branch take over. What happened to our primitive selves — the musculature of the hunt, the wary nervous systems of vigilance?

We’ve been scrambled. First by too many interior hours, then by a wicked remove from food sources and now by the glowing blue light of our devices. How many sleepless nights do I succumb to the news feed — holding the phone above my head, working my arm a little, my thumb a lot, knowing the whole while that I’m entering an insomniac’s hell — a damnation so complete that it might keep me awake until the early doves start calling out to each other and the passerines twitter with their timeless chatter. If the eyes manage to close at three, the continued scroll under the eyelids represents a modern form of torture — not just for the delivery system with its pituitary-disturbing glare, but because of the tsunami of terrifying content.

We are fourteen Reichstag fires into the creation of a fascist state. We are frogs, boiled, boiled, boiled. We are pretend pundits, all, twittering our outrage in fear and pretend hope that something, ANYTHING, we do might forestall the total collapse of the Republic.

How much, then, I might prefer the clicking rattle of a venomous snake or the crackling approach of a large mammal to lying in bed in the glare of news. Dying riddled with poison or after being mauled by a bear, alone and in pain, somehow more right than the accretion of damage to our nervous systems wrought by today and tomorrow’s political fuckery, which of course is not merely political, but personal. DID 1970’S RADICAL FEMINISM TEACH US NOTHING?

So okay, those circles of advocacy were hideously, egregiously white, but now here we are all, arms extended to any and all who would prefer liberty, or let’s say “so-so democracy,” to kleptocracy, hoping to grab each other and sing, not unlike the yellow-shirted moms in Portland trying to protect protesters with their bodies, which is what good moms have always done — tried to protect their young with their bodies. Look how they turn the BLM chant into a lullaby — “hands up, please don’t shoot” — knowing how the nasty, cameo-clad soldiers must not be angered and really, must be soothed.

I’ll sue, you’ll sue, the AG’ll sue, the ACLU will sue — but the delays and the chances of meeting a radical, unqualified right winger on the bench grow by the minute. We’re frogs. We’re boiled. Our organs are near to exploding.

Let me walk, therefore, barefoot on rocks still warm with summer sun and risk disturbing a rattlesnake. Let me enter the deep, cool shade of the forest and lie down there as the sky inks black. Let me be surrounded by the old sounds, even if bringing ancient fear with them. Let me lay my head in the bracken ferns, aware that I crush a few fronds for my comfort, but prepared to do so to save my soul.

  • Collage above made sometime between Zimmerman’s acquittal and Michael Brown’s death.

White Woman Rant and To Do list

This is a long post, only partially a rant.

What a razor’s edge: judgment!

Step forward! Shut up and listen! Step back! Silence is violence!

The voice of the hour responds: try being Black for a half hour.

Marshall your hatred and your good person biases and give them license, or don’t, for the hatred and biases both good and bad need no license. They like to go rogue. They operate on the sly. The rotten impulses will thwart and harm another’s soul, a Black person’s soul, whether you grant them permission or not. Being otherwise decent has nothing to do with it. Do a little reading for Christ’s sake.

So why must discrimination law require demonstration of INTENT? So bogus. Such a loophole.

So many ways to pose as ally, whether silent or speaking up. But, oh hallowed white person with every advantage coded into your DNA, silence from your earthworm lips surrounded by freckled skin prone to burning, no no silence is not acceptable.

Shout loud and clear and worry about getting it right and redeeming your moral points later.

(This business of hoping to earn badges toward redemption is not just a White Woman thing, BTW, it’s a very Catholic thing. So — fucking crucify me on two counts).

History shall condemn us if we do not, oh darling freckle-faced politicos, put our bodies on the front lines, yes, even our raggedy, lumpy bodies and yes, even during a pandemic. Protests? Maybe not. But calls and donations, yes. I’ve said it before.

TODAY: I shall call my reps in support of H.R. 51 — a bill regarding Washington, D.C.’s statehood. Why don’t you, too?

TODAY: I shout out the importance of all those down-ballot races. It’s not just the protests shrinking the response time between racial murder and indictment, it’s Black mayors and Black DA’s and Black police commissioners. Progressives of all races.

I long for the day when progress is measured by the absence of Black bodies gunned down by police and not by the swiftness of justice.

TODAY: I shall rest in the satisfaction of a Supreme Court acting like a court and not like an adjunct of the Executive (even though I’m inclined to move straight to dread about the tax case and did just that yesterday). In particular, I say HALLELUJAH AND FUCK YOU to trump for Neil Gorsuch authoring the LGBTQ opinion.

Have I lately been so satisfied by a court’s result?

(Well, yes, Judge Sullivan in the Flynn case. I CANNOT wait for him to sentence that traitorous ass).

TODAY: I shall finish one of the books by a Black author that I purchased in support of a week of buying Black writers (Instagram) (‘course, I’ve been doing this for years, letting myself buy bestsellers penned by Black writers LOOONNNG before they come out in paperback). Today? Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John. It takes place on Antigua where Kincaid grew up and incidentally, where Eliza Lucas Pincnkey also grew up.

The Solstice is nigh (she said). With Leo on the ascendant, and a problematic 12th house, this time of year always comes as a kind of relief to me, a psychological blossoming as well as a literal one.

I will also make two more masks. The elastic I ordered back in March finally arrived. These two will be birthday gifts for a Cancerian friend who is coming over tomorrow to write POSTCARDS to Florida with me. If she’s lucky, I’ll use some of the batiks that Tina sent me.

They say the postcards make a difference, but what do I know? What do any of us know?

In the category of things that surely don’t make a difference but that make ME feel better: this week I sent a postcard to the White House, saying, “You’re Fired!” as part of a campaign to get millions of people buying stamps because — you know — ahem, absentee ballots, the Constitution, the USPS, Jeff Bezos.

I also made a complaint to the Virginia Bar about William Barr (OK impeachment might be out of the question, but can’t somebody disbar the fucker?)

Since this blog is PATTERN and outrage, here’s some noodling from this week, done in anticipation of some hot pink threads from Deb (due to arrive any minute).

P.S. Don’t give to the Minnesota Freedom Fund as I recommended a bit ago — they’ve been SWAMPED by donations! A wonderful problem for them. Also in case you don’t know, don’t give to anything Shaun King is rustling up. He’s reviled by many of the Black woman I follow on Twitter.

PPS. I do not mean to hassle those who are taking time to absorb things and order their thinking and staying quiet. I can’t tell you how tentatively I posted our Hearts for Charleston quilt on Instagram yesterday, it being the 5th anniversary of the Mother Emanuel AME massacre.

Food, news, and a rant

Snowflakes wander to the ground this morning and put us in mind of another April Fools Day, when two feet of snow fell. We couldn’t open the front door. It seemed a grand joke from Nature.

Who feels like joking now?

What will people discover isn’t so necessary when this is all over? D’s biology class resumes this week, but online. No lab. Surely hands-on science won’t fall by the wayside, but maybe all those corporate, in-person meetings?

The snow must be over, for the skylight is a blue rectangle.

Problem: a very bland fish chowder. I’m considering a remoulade to add flavor. NOTE: Jars of roasted red peppers make fabulous quarantine food, especially when fresh vegetables run low.

My next grocery delivery isn’t for another ten days and I’m almost out of onions and celery! Lettuce for two salads left, maybe. I must wage my war of emptying-the-fridge and relying-on-the-pantry in silence, otherwise K might take it upon himself to grocery shop.

I really don’t want him to go to the grocery store. I know people are making different decisions about this, but avoiding the store is a way to avoid worry.

Put another two ways: I really want my husband to live; I really don’t feel like dying.

Leave it to my friend DT to get to the heart of any matter, even if harsh truths are involved. ESPECIALLY if harsh truths are involved.

“What’s so bad about dying,” she asks in a recent phone call. “Why are we so afraid of it?” After a pause, in which perhaps she thinks about the recent arrival of another granddaughter, DT adds, “But, I have so many reasons to want to live.”

Another friend’s brother is on a ventilator. In Florida (no comment — rant comes later). She’s remarkably sanguine about it. She’s married to a doctor, which makes me wonder if the medical perspective is generally less hyped-up with avoidance strategies. My brother’s going grocery shopping, that’s for sure. His partner is being exposed in a Los Angeles ER and coming home. What’s grocery shopping compared with that?

My roasted pepper remoulade will feature garlic, salt, and olive oil. Can you picture the pretty red swirl in the creamy soup? Plus a sprinkling of chives from the pot out by the garage.

A plane passes. Earlier, an ambulance. Hong Kong’s numbers rise again. Talk of asymptomatic carriers who never get sick. K quips, “I’ll bet China doesn’t want to call Hong Kong theirs NOW.”

We see clip after clip of ER doctors describing war zones, their eyes wide with sadness. We see field hospitals being erected in Central Park and in various arena around the country. And still, the Partisan Dicks of some Red States stand their ground in a vicious display of macho-trumpism (oh, sorry. Is macho-trumpism redundant?) How can their decisions be allowed to govern when their toxic allegiance will literally kill people?

It’s no metaphor when Nancy Pelosi says trump has blood on his hands. The Boston Globe says it, too. Blood AND sputum.

Among other things, trump demands that we re-invent language, for surely “callous disregard for human life” and “lack of empathy” don’t quite capture his epic willingness to let people die.

We are still running the heat. I look forward to a short-sleeves day.

I’ll keep you posted on how the food challenge goes, as the vegetable bins empty and the onion bowl reveals only a littering of rust-colored, papery skins. The challenge appeals to me — something about my farming ancestors? A potato-blighted, starving past, perhaps. But seriously, this is a fight I’m equipped to fight. For so many, I lack all skill, all stamina.

A friend once said to me, “In a barter economy, you’d be a queen.”

It was a compliment, I know, but at the time also stood as an indictment about how I just couldn’t manage to make money or survive in the corridors of business.