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.

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This Much I Can Do

Antique poster–no ownership in any way claimed–found on internet.

We have primaries on March 20th for governor, congressional rep, and an assortment of state and local offices.

I am more excited about election day this year than I am about holidays in general. While I’m not active in the IL-14 Indivisible group,  I do follow them on Facebook along with a couple of other local Democratic groups. Several members have contacted Rep. Randy Hultgren’s office since yesterday’s school shooting to express concern about assault weapons and mental health.

The responses from the office have been less than helpful: no, we don’t know when or if he’ll be releasing a statement. Um, I don’t know; let me refer you to our DC office on that question. Have you tried Googling your question?

He’s also been silent about the harassment and abuse so-called allegations against Cadet Bone Spurs (copyright Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL). I don’t think he understands that silence indicates tacit approval.

I stopped calling his office a long time ago because of conversations like these. I have enough headaches on this end without him adding to the list. I would rather put my energy towards getting Lauren Underwood or Jim Walz elected.

We will be choosing a Democratic gubernatorial candidate as well. We are spoiled for choice in that slate. I will be at peace with any of them. I never liked Bruce Rauner. I like his opponent, Jeanne Ives, even less. If you have to use cartoonish stereotypes of minorities, feminists, and LGBTQ people in your cheaply produced ads to illustrate your points, please get off of my TV and my ballot. The ad is so offensive that I’m not going to try to find a link for it.

I took a couple of small actions today. I donated to Common Dreams, my favorite progressive news site these days. NPR is getting too corporate for my taste. I did a lot of re-tweeting today as well. I avoided telling some elected officials where to stash their thoughts and prayers.  I can’t think of what else to do at the moment. If I hit the lottery, I’ll see about setting up a local Pacifica network station. But not this week.

In the meantime in the nonpolitical world, Hubby continues to improve post-crud. I had to run Oakley to the vet on Tuesday. He’d started rubbing his eyes and looking for dark places again, plus there was a bit of discharge from one eye.  The eye vet had me take him to one of our regular vets to get his eye checked. It looked good to her. After a quick call between Doc A and Doc V, the  current game plan consists of keeping him on a half-tab of Pred twice a week and reevaluate around the end of the month; in the meantime, work on his weight. He chunked up from the Pred. It will come off with a bit of portion restructuring and some walking. We changed him to a prescription pain killer instead of aspirin–it had interacted with the Pred and caused the explosive tummy upset last week. The prescription worked a little too well and made Oakley kind of stoned. He slept it off and seems OK now.  We’ll try a half dose tomorrow night.

Life goes on for the next thirty three days. On March 20, I’m voting.

And because I like it so much, I’ll be doing it again on November 6.

 

Onward

Image courtesy of Old Design Shop

I like this little guy. Quite dapper with the bow tie and hat, plus the broom to sweep away the last vestiges of 2017.

We spent New Year’s weekend watching the “Downton Abbey” marathon on our local PBS station. Few other options for amusement  existed. We had a small storm on Friday that dropped enough snow to make the roads challenging. As in what usually is a 30-minute round trip to pick Oakley up from day care morphing into two hours. On its heels came a brutally cold Saturday. Sunday wasn’t bad. We left the Crawleys and their staff to their own devices as we went for a New Year’s lunch and a new to us bookstore. Hubby found several books on woodworking and reproducing antique furniture. I found several history related books. A good time was had by both.

Monday sent the temperatures back into the deep freeze. If someone saw the two inch snow cover glittering beneath last night’s full moon, they might have thought that the midwest isn’t that bad in winter. Unfortunately, it can be. There are two options: a grey slushy day with temperatures in the high 20s or low 30s, or a picture perfect day of blue skies and sparkling snow with air temps that will shatter your lungs when you inhale.

Despite the cold, the earth spins on. We move onward into 2018. I will refrain from making any statements about it not being worse that 2017 for fear that 2018 will ask it to hold its beverage before spinning out of control.

Will we ever get back on center, though? I am heartened by  the current wave of political activism. One of my personal resolutions was to get involved at least through making phone calls to express my support or displeasure to Senators Duckworth and Durbin. I also resolve to do what can to get the local Congressional rep, Randy Hultgren, out of office in November.  He has been unresponsive and his staffers have been even worse. I’ll put my energy into getting in one of the candidates running against him, thank you very much.

We all have our work cut out for us. Let us continue. Let us begin.

 

 

Storm Report for 3/3/17

March came in with rain and falling temperatures. February pitched a hissy fit as she left.

Oakley had spent the afternoon at day care flirting with his girlfriend Jazz and singing with his friend Willy. After I’d picked him up and brought him home for dinner, I had a strong gut feeling that I should check the weather on TV. A good thing I did. All kinds of red and yellow blobs covered the screen.

I made my dinner, too, then settled in to watch the storm coverage. During the course of the evening, one of the twisters headed east along the I-80 corridor to Morris. That’s a 20 minute drive from my house.  The track of the twister ran about ten miles south of me, so despite the admonishments from the siren, we stayed on the sofa, watching, listening.

The lights didn’t even flicker. No sounds of breaking glass or crunching metal. Just steady rain.

We stayed with the storm coverage except for a break to watch a mystery on one of the PBS substation instead of the happenings in Washington, DC that night. A wise choice. The TV is new to us, and I likely would have done had things to it had I watched the events in DC.

Oakley and I stayed up as long as we could, trying to ride out the rain so we could make the final potty run in relative comfort, trying to see what was happening to the south and southwest of us. At bed time, we knew that the the town of Naplate (just outside of Ottawa) had received a kicking.

When we went to Starved Rock or Buffalo Rock State Parks, we would drive back through Naplate. They had, and please, Mystery, may they still have a main street divided by parkways. Each one hosted gardens, benches, and sculptures, including a Greco-Roman temple at the east end. Between those and the mid-19th century architecture of the homes, anyone passing through had a taste of life in the Civil War era.

Yes, I choked up a little. For the people of the town, and for the loss of that street. The cherry on the icing of good hikes at the parks was the drive through town.

However, the good outweighed the bad. There were two passages caused by a tree falling on a couple of men, sadly. The good news was that all the residents of the county nursing home survived, even though its structure was heavily damaged.

Cleanup started. The new normal will be implemented in due course, I don’t doubt that.

The questions that I have concern global warming, climate changes, and the biggest one: was this an omen? Was this an energetic cleaning and clearing?

We will just have to wait for the answers.

 

 

 

The Need to Carry On

It finally started thawing here yesterday. We have another round of something slushy late tonight or tomorrow morning, but it should melt quickly. John Denver said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOonHGpHLms

And do you care what’s happening around you? Do your senses know the changes when they come? Can you see yourself reflected in the seasons? Can you understand the need to carry on? 

We’re about two weeks out from the primary for governor here in Illinois. I can’t get excited about any of the candidates on either side. Governor Quinn took over when Rod Blagojevich was impeached. I’ll likely vote Green Party unless something really drastic happens. Otherwise, it’s a question of Coke or Pepsi.

Right now, we desperately need legislators who will take stands on a couple of important environmental issues. One involves a proposed fracking operation downstate. The other involves pit mining near Starved Rock State Park, about forty-five minutes west of me. The only thing that will come of either is pollution and birth defects. In my lifetime, there has been fire where Lake Erie literally caught on fire; Three Mile Island; and this winter, the Elk River poisoning. It pains me that nothing has been learned by this. 

There’s also the need to stand up to Monsanto and how they are poisoning the food supply. The Greens do not accept corporate contributions, which assures me that they are not in the pockets of the people who brought us Roundup. We know personally of several farm families that have been ravaged by cancer or neurological problems that can’t be explained by modern medicine. Enough, already.

In all honesty, yes, I am tired. I fully comprehend and understand the need to carry on. I’ve been fighting this since I was in upper elementary grades. Discreetly, because when one is raised by a parent who makes Ronald Reagan look like Bernie Sanders, that’s what you do. I am hurting from seeing the gains made in environmental protection thrown out in the name of lining a donor’s pockets.

I’ll tell you what. I’m going to have a little nap for the fatigue and lots of chocolate for the soul. And I will see you at the computer later and at the voting booth on March 18 and in November.