The Keeping of Hope and Faith in Strange Times

 

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

 

 

Just when it looks like rock bottom’s been hit, the current administration digs a hole and goes even lower. I’m not going to post the picture of Melania-Antoinette in her jacket with the graphic on the back proclaiming “I don’t really care” as she left her photo op  at one of the children’s concentration camps in Texas. Please Google it. I will not post her picture or say anything further  in this space to curtail the spread of evil.

I will tell you that yesterday’s act of casual cruelty shook me to my core. With a heavy heart and aching head, I shut off the computer.

Unfortunately, we live in times where we can’t go into lassis-faire mode about the news. The challenge is to stay as well informed as possible without events numbing us into apathy. How, then, do we pay attention without losing our minds?

  • Find a reliable news source, but limit checking it. I go to the CBC website a couple of times a day unless something such as a perp walk  or indictment breaks. I also like BBC and DW for their calmness and refusal to normalize the BS coming out of DC.
  • Read history books and articles. I find impermanence comforting, and I find the stories of how everyday people survived craziness inspiring. On my to-read list is The Fourth Turning (sorry, don’t have author info at hand). The authors stipulate that modern history runs in cycles of approximately eighty years of ascension and decline, but with each cycle, we end up closer to a just and equal society. The US Civil War (the declared one, not the one going on right now through bad behavior and social media) and World War II were about eighty years apart. We are about eighty years on from the beginning of World War II starting in Europe. The decline is happening, but there are signs that the ascension is on the way (look at how many young ones are getting involved, registering to vote, speaking out).
  • Keep an eyewitness journal. What’s changed in the last eighteen months? How has it impacted your personal world? Think about Ken Burns’ films and how the letters and diaries featured gave names and faces to the people alive at those times, and making it more real than a list of dates and events ever could.
  • Kindness. Look for kindness. Journal on that as well. I’ve quoted her before and will do so again: Mr. Rogers’ mom reminded him to look for the helpers in troubled times. Be kind any way you can.
  • Anti-toxins for the spirit include nature (if you can play in the woods or a garden, great; if not, YouTube has a plethora of videos); art that you create or appreciate; uplifting music; and handing out with friends.
  • Let your voice be heard. The rep for my district or whoever runs his social media put a person I know in Twitter jail earlier this week for tweets about detained children. Very well, then. I started tweeting my senators and letting them know about the lack of response from the erstwhile representative. I tweeted to the Democratic candidate,  I also tweeted to other possibly interested parties like the UN Human Rights Commission and the International Criminal Justice Court. You know, the one in The Hague? Yes, that one.
  • If you have a spiritual practice, do it with the intention to stay sane and grounded during these turbulent days. If you don’t, just set an intention to do so.

We will get through this. I don’t know how, but somehow, we will.

 

 

 

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Life in an Oddly Shaped District

Welcome to my congressional district, baby. It’s a mishmash of two old money cities (St. Charles and Geneva); three rustbelt cities in the process of getting gentrified (Aurora, Batavia, Geneva); small farming communities, and towns swept up in the never-ending sprawl of the suburbs. I’m in the southern third in a community that exemplifies the rural white mentality.

We ended up in the soybean field when Hubby had his midlife crisis. He decided that he wanted to build a house. Any lots near his place of work were astronomical. We found the land just before the building boom took off in the mid-’90s when the county of our residence was declared one of the hottest places to live. The influx of residents who moved out here from suburbs closer to the city did so to get some space from their fellows. Or in some cases, to get away from “bad influences” (read: diversifying populations), sycophants with the rural white voter base already out here.

Currently, we are represented by Randy Hultgren, poster boy for the guns and Jesus crowd. He’s taken NRA money. He promotes himself as a pipeline to the federal government. However, that only applies if you agree with him. The rest of us contacting his office get canned emails; rude or clueless staffers who have told constituents to check Google or the website for his position on issues; and conference call town halls inconveniently scheduled at times when most people are carpooling, eating dinner, or attending their children’s school activities. He’s also made appearances with no notice at big box home improvement stores to shake hands et. al. Oh, and let’s not forget the day when a group of peaceful protesters with questions about changes to the Affordable Care Act were greeted by a locked office door. Very well, then. They returned to the parking lot to hold up their signs. Once out there, they saw eyes and fingers parting the blinds in the office windows.

Personally, I gave up calling Rep. Hultgren’s office a long time ago after a staffer named Brian hung up on me when I expressed concern about health care issues. However, I have been retweeting items on Twitter with little reminders that this is how history will remember him and does he really want to be on the wrong side of it?

Evidently, apathy rules his day. This week has been especially frustrating concerning the children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and Texas. One of my local friends who’s more active than I am in politics called his office to ask about his position.

She was told that he hadn’t said anything about it and didn’t know if he had an opinion on it one way or another.

I should also mention that Rep. Hultgren is co-chair of this the human rights commission.

The last few days I’ve tweeted him relentlessly about the children’s concentration camps. Not just him, but the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the UN, Amnesty International…you get the picture.

Where the hell is Obi-Wan Kenobi when you need him?

Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we need to take a deep breath and regroup, then start working for a candidate who really cares about her constituents. Should statistics and chance favor us, we should be under the leadership of Lauren Underwood  in November. She’s an RN with political experience as a senior advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services appointed by President Obama. She helped implement the Affordable Care Act as well as working on disaster management and prevention programs.

Somehow, after the last eighteen months, Ms. Underwood’s disaster management skills seem especially applicable.

Sunday Notes of the Random Sort

 

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

 

(No, not quite like that.)

Late this week, the weather settled into a pattern conforming with the norms and standards of late spring/early summer. Metrological summer, not astronomical summer, that is. I spent five or ten minutes here and there pulling weeds and what had been labeled as mesclun mix on the seed packet from the raised bed this week. Finally, yesterday under a blue and grey ombre sky, I evicted the last of the rogue salad blend, dug out six inches around the burrow created by the critter this last winter, and planted the garden.

Since weather conducive to planting without risk of hypothermia or heat stroke came late this year, I decided to get some already started plants at our local ag store. Oakley and I walked at a nearby prairie restoration, then we stopped and selected the plants. We have three kinds of tomatoes (large heirloom varieties called Brandywine and Cherokee Purple for Hubby; yellow pear for me); yellow squash; lavender and basil (their aromas please the senses while warding off insects); cucumbers; and cilantro. From seed I planted rainbow carrots, parsley, green beans, and radishes. Water and wait.

Afterwards, I took a hot shower and coated my back with an analgesic roll-on to prevent my muscles from freezing into an unintended backbend. It worked.

Hubby’s next class started yesterday. It’s an internship where he gets to work on projects for his instructor’s clients. He was happy and geeked up and then…

Then came the text. His brother-in-law  (BIL)  had been in remission for a couple of months, but started having problems breathing recently. During the workup, they found out that the chemo and radiation f–ed up his lungs. Technically speaking, it’s called pulmonary pneumenosis. The treatments for the cancer caused damage and inflammation leading to the bronchial sacs becoming stiffened, making it hard to fully inhale or exhale. To add to the hilarity (she says, dripping with sarcasm), the cancer came back and took up camp in his liver. He’s in the hospital. We don’t know how long he has. Not much else can be done at this time except wait the interminable wait for the call we don’t want.

I talked myself out of making a cake. It wouldn’t help BIL, and with the mood that news triggered last night it likely may not have made it into the oven.

We’ve spent the day keeping ourselves distracted. Hubby is working on cabinets for his mom’s house. It’s keeping him busy.

Oakley and I are staying busy as well. We had our usual weekend morning walk with our friends early today. I took Oakley shopping at his favorite store. They finally had the bunny burgers in stock, making both of us very happy. Better yet, they had put a couple of bags of the burgers aside with a note to check with us to see if we wanted them. That made the day a lot better.

After lunch I put Oakley in the car for a ride. I needed to clear my head. We drove aimlessly, and stopped at a forest preserve. Usually this one is relatively desolate, but today a family reunion took place. A huge one. I smiled, waved, picked the way out of the creatively parked cars back to the main road and brought us home.

Hubby continues with building cabinets. I write. I need to clear out the dishwasher while contemplating one of the great mysteries of life: how two adults and a dog can create that many dirty dishes in a 24-hour cycle.

Maybe that’s not such a mystery, after all. Maybe the small tasks of everyday life are gifts, are the things that give us structure as we navigate the winds of change.