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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We Are Stardust. We Are Golden. And We Have to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden.

 

graphics from Old Design Shop

Oakley asked to go out at six this morning. While he nibbled yard salad and tended to personal business, I watered the garden. The last shadows of the night veiled it, allowing me to give it a good drink that should soak in before the rising sun evaporates the water.

The radishes came up first. Their leaves look slightly ruffled. Some carrots may have sprouted. At least I think they’re carrots. I didn’t mark any of the sections, so there may be some overlap.  Green beans and tomatoes poke their first leaves through the top layer of soil. The first planting of mixed French lettuces and basil have broken through as well.

No weeds. No invading species. Just my crops. As Oakley sniffed and grazed, I sang to the plants and myself the lines from the Crosby Stills and Nash song: We are stardust. We are golden. And we have to get ourselves back to the garden. 

In the wake of yesterday’s events concerning the Paris Climate Treaty, it seemed like the best place to be this morning. Even though I was expecting the news, I still felt as if I’d taken a foot to my solar plexus.

The backlash for this rash decision began almost immediately. Governors and mayors announced their commitment to the Paris guidelines. Elon Musk left the president’s business advisory council within a few hours. More will come internationally, I’m sure.

On an individual basis, a bit of self examination will help determine doable actions in your own little corner of the world. In addition to gardening and protesting, what about writing thank you notes to the elected officials who are standing up to this attempt to send the US into developing world status? Just a little “thanks” on social media? A phone call?

There’s always a little something to be done, a seed to be planted, as we return to the original garden.

 

 

 

Taking Refuge in Lake Wobegon

 

 

(from cardcow.com)

 

“Chocolate cake.”

Until last week, those had been two of my favorite words. Hearing them spoken by  The Wearer of Ferrets as he discussed the moment during a dinner with China’s President Xi when he gave the green light to bomb Syria put a considerable pall on them. I may never be able to eat either again. If there is a positive, the sound of his voice echoing around my mind is aversive enough to keep me away from both as efforts at weight loss continue.

While desserts have their charms, taking refuge in them too often is not a good idea at all. Just ask my jeans.

Where, then, does one turn to escape the rampant insanity ? I’ve tried to keep the TV off with mixed success. Two PBS shows I love run late morning, and then there’s the midday news that a couple of minutes of won’t hurt, then perhaps a couple more, and next thing I know it’s 1:00 and I have to ice down my middle fingers from overuse. Not a good idea.  Limiting time tuned to WCPT  (independent progressive talk) and NPR to short bursts in the car helps somewhat as well. Somewhat.

In times like these, we need refuge from current affairs to prevent a collective slide into madness. I find mine in visits to Garrison Keillor’s fictitious hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Blessed be the tuneIn app that delivers the stream to the Sonos system that fills the house with his soothing baritone, gentle wit, and delicious sense of absurdity.

There are days when one needs to hear stories of hair raising escapes from fishing sheds as the ice breaks beneath one’s feet (especially when the shed in question is an RV). There are days when one needs the tale of a homecoming parade inadvertently but rudely interrupted by the queen’s father’s front loader that just excavated a septic tank. And there are days when one needs a slice of rhubarb pie and fresh coffee at the Chatterbox Cafe.

Based on the quick news summary just now on WFMT with the sabre rattling, I think I’ll take the pie, please. And if there’s any vanilla ice cream, a scoop of that on the side would be most appreciated.