Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Dark Times Journal - Exposure to light

Inspired by the Women's Marches around the world, and sickened by the inaugural I watched in horror as each day in the last week brought our country and our ideals down further. In someways I was going tharned like the rabbits in Watership Down; frozen in the middle of the road staring at the headlights approaching. But I kept on keeping on devoting a small portion of each morning on the computer to research on issues before congress and firing off emails to my representatives. Even making a few calls.

I hate calling. Email, personal messaging, chat are invented for me personally. Or at least I believe. But I made calls. Love it when I can leave a message, short and sweet on one issue, and then disconnect. But I was at a loss for words when I got a person when I called my congressman's office. After a pause I recited my script and she chuckled. Silence from me. Then she hastened to add that of course the congressman would vote that way on that issue. But she would make note I was on his side. 

On his side. Comforting. It dawned on me suddenly that our democratic legislators are just as alone as we are in this horrid new world. Do they have a secret group they can turn to for support when they feel helpless and hopeless against this dark tide?

My secret group has gained members, and more are willing to voice their opinions. There are a few of us, I fear at times, who dominate the conversation. Saturday we all met in person. It was not the best of possible times for everyone. We are busy people with jobs and businesses and travel plans. But 25 plus showed up. They were real! They smiled and hugged and shed tears. Some I had only met in the social media group. Others I have been friends with for years and was relieved to find in this different reality we could still be friends. I have lost a few. And several I call friends just by not calling them. I know we could not share anything real. There would be this barrier which could not be bridged. A barrier which was not there with this group.

This was a action meeting. A meeting to decide on our direction in the difficult times ahead. But it was also a coming home. A support group. People I could talk freely with about the emotions and frustrations within me. And there was the joy of finding out I was not an alternate fact to be dismissed. This was real. These people were real. Our feelings of dread and despair are real. They are shared. There was this wonderful light where there had been gloom.

So when the question of our next meeting came up. There were no excuses of too busy or whipping out the calendar on the iPhone to check available dates. All agreed it had to be sooner rather than later. Our country needed that commitment. We needed it.

We haven't got a name yet. But we are a group. We are united. There is light.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Dark Times Journal - It Was the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of our despair. . . .

Opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

And so it is now going from the grace and hope of the Obama family in the white house, to the swearing in of the evil troll. All on Friday seemed so utterly hopeless. I could not watch any part of the telecast let alone his evil words of carnage stolen in part from The Bee Movie. So appropriate as he jokes he steals all we have gained in our society. 

It was a day of tears. 

But then Saturday as the Women's March on Washington grew and grew on live streaming a glimmer of hope. Reports came in about the size and number of sister marches not just across the country and around the world. Some 470 in total with numbers beginning at 2.9 million and rising. The largest protest in the United States around an inauguration. And perhaps the largest protest in the world against one ruler.

So many taking the microphones and delivering short but hopeful speeches of united in a common cause. It seems a long and difficult climb out of the abyss. We just must not give up. We must work hard to resist. To best the orange troll in the white castle and his sale of our freedom to the dark lord in Russia. 

It is the winter of our despair. Hopefully spring will bring more hope and light.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dark Days Journal - National Day of Resistance

National Day of Resistance on the day before the Trump Inaugural. And the 21st is the Women's March on DC and about 300 other sites around the world. Imagine that. 

And yet divisions run so deep even in the midst of what appears to be a united front against the Republican agenda and the illegitimate president elect. 

Now suddenly we have to show our bonafides to those who have been on the battle lines longer. Johnny and Joan come lately's are being called Lexus Liberals by some. Let me make a couple things clear: 1) I don't own a Lexus. A 1989 GMC 4 x 4 occupies my driveway, 2) I have fought for one cause or the other since I was in college and demonstrated for the Free Speech movement and after that the Civil rights and ERA and end the war in Vietnam and end the draft, 3)Equal rights for women is my heart cause but I have also researched and written about water issues and the stripping our schools of the arts.

And in the midst of all that I have fought a brain injury, and a crooked contractor who wanted to take my home, and become deeply committed to the arts community.

Okay, I will grant you I have not been in the same trench with some of those fighting for freedoms. But then my trench, and the enemy trying to breach that line are different than the trenches in Dakota or Ferguson or Flint. But be it in Africa or Syria or Selma or in front of the dais in DC tomorrow one thing is clear: Women are not equal. We get dissed as soccer moms or Lexus ladies. But, damn it, women through our history have fought for voting rights for blacks and won even when they could not vote themselves, and we fought for equal rights for blacks and still do not have them ourselves.

In the midst of the lobby efforts to end the war in Vietnam I manned desks to advise boys with low numbers on the draft how to avoid it. Provided them with the information of emigrating to Canada. And when not on the desk I knocked on congressional doors to advance legislation to end the draft. Then one day advising a blonde white boy about how he could avoid getting sent to an illegal war he noticed my small ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) lapel pen and started talking to me about how that was so stupid because we weren't equal law or no law.

I have a horrid temper but all the non-violence training we went to in order to march peacefully showed up instead of my right hook. And I stood up and walked out of the basement we were allowed to use in the National Council of Churches building and never went back.

That is what I want to virtually do on the internet last night when I was denounced as a sudden resister. But, baby boy, I have more to lose under the GOP and Trump than you do. I will continue to resist but it is for me and all my sisters and the land we live on. So just F**k off with your Lexus Liberal shit. 

BTW the soccer moms in their Lexus cars get in to audiences with Senators and Congressmen and have the money to fly to DC for marches. Do not cut them short. And I wasn't for Hillary but I am for a woman president. They don't grab pussy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dark Days Journal - Who I am January 17, 2017

I am still a cat owner but now he is bored. I am spending too much time at the computer desk doing research and writing letters to my congressmen and interfacing with my resistance group. I manufactured a kitty whip, and moved Thicke a box over to beside my computer chair. But other things in my life are not as easily handled.

I have an art business and the calls for entries are going out now. I also am a member of an art organization whose goal is to further arts in our community, and one of a steering committee for an art guild. Since the crash of 2008 art income does not make ends meet. So there is Social Security, rental income, pet sitting business, and a part time home care job.

Almost all of those things stand to be adversely effected by the new congress and the new administration. On national and state level. As a member of the local Chamber of Commerce I just got a letter about more lobbying which needs to be done. The first 100 days will be the hardest they say. Thicke doesn't understand days. Supposedly he has the smarts to understand five but not twenty times five.

The washing machine picked the worst time to fail. Not that there is a good time for them to fail. And the one foot of snow didn't ask me for my schedule on shoveling.

It dawned on me I was exhausted. So I took the weekend off. Off from lobbying and research. I still had to do all the things I had shoved to the back like play with my cat, catch up with the group novel, spread the word about a call for entries, cull through my art to see if I had anything worthy or needed to start painting a couple.

How do the people with full time jobs and families manage the time to stay up with the political agenda? How do they find the money to take a day off of work and demonstrate for health care? Or visit personally with their representative?

I am reminded of the title of a a 1982 biographical film, "I am Dancing as Fast as I Can." For years I scrawled that sentence on notebooks and mirrors and once on the palm of my hand. The main character was addicted to Valium and went cold turkey. I had been addicted to speed. First with allergy meds and then diet pills and then black beauties, etc. But the mantra of I am dancing as fast as I can worked for both of us.

These days it is just coffee and protein shakes. And dark chocolate. But when I want to brew another pot of coffee I remind myself I first have to take care of myself. And I am dancing as fast as I can. That just has to be good enough.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dark Times Journal - Who I am January 15, 2017

Storm Coming
I live in a Blue state. But in a very rural area (Red), visited by many people from Texas (Red and Fundie). And I am an artist and an introvert who lives rural. Especially in the winter the majority of my interaction with others is on the internet where I get to largely pick and choose who I interact with.

But there is a storm coming. If the weather bureau got it right this time. I picked up a house bound friend and we ventured to the local market filled with visitors and shopped for some comfort food and snowed in with no power supplies. The safety pins on my lapel were getting some angry looks. Some of them were still wearing Trump campaign buttons.

We escaped to the soup aisle with the tiny section of organic soups. To shop organic we have to go over the mountain, but a storm was coming. So we contented ourselves with organic baby spinach and a few organic soups, fire starters, some bottled water just in case.

I admit I am not fond of this chain store which bought the local market. I especially hate their prices and that they stock their shelves just for the tourists. I really do not like jalapenos that much. But on this particular day if felt really hostile.

I asked myself if it was me or them or just the approaching storm. Guess approaching storm can be taken a couple ways. On to the library where recommended some books by an author I enjoyed before, Anne Perry. We were treated to the story about how as a child Anne had killed her friend's mother. She had been convicted only of participating in it. The teller had other facts wrong but she really emphasized gay. And questioned whether we would still want to read her books.

Our aging full time population has many widowed or single women and we support each other by helping with tasks and errands. Are our long time friendships to be called into question every time we check out a book or buy organic curried lentil soup?

Or is it just me? Do I no longer feel safe out in the general population? I must watch that this does not limit my freedoms. To what extent do we quarantine ourselves?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Who I am January 14, 2017

I slept well last night. No dreams I could remember. No waking up in the middle of the night with hamster wheel thinking. Undefined fears. Sometimes it is the exceptions which make you realize what you have been dealing with.

I have changed my morning schedule to allow time to check legislation and write my congressional representatives. Computer time is more directed to research and posts to a group of like interests. I have been out with my camera less. A painting I have begun stands neglected in the studio.

I am more easily frustrated. 

And I have so many questions I cannot get answered. I am manic at times trying to google answers to questions google has not considered.

I would rather not answer the telephone.

I have five buds on my butterfly amaryllis and I have not photographed the first one beginning to open. Just remembered it as I typed this blog.

I think one of the things I want to really hold on to is my creative expression. And maybe those things need to go on my ToDo list so I don't forget them amid the anxiety and frustration and fear in this drink the Kool Aid era.

And I need to develop a strategy to avoid going tharned like the rabbits in Watership Down.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Who I am January 13, 2017

Bench in Winter
MAD. I am just MAD. Mother, forever the Kansas City Cub reporter even if she never wrote another article, would correct me. She would say, "No, dear, your are angry."

Me, ever the smart ass as she would say, replied, "I am so angry I am mad."

After the ACA procedural vote I am livid. And I hate white men.

"Now, dear," Mother would say, "Isn't hate the wrong word?"

Loathe. I loathe white men. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were in my nightmares last night. The better part was when I had them on the rack. Must have been a good dream because I slept in.

There is an old Lone Ranger joke which has him and Tonto surrounded by hostile Indians and the Lone Ranger asks, "How are we going to get out of this one, Tonto?"

"We, White Man?" Tonto replies.

Part of me really wants to be Tonto this morning. I want to grab my guns, pile into pickup with the fur kids and head for the hills. Dad, the one white man I still look up to, taught me survival. He raised me as a boy and never corrected my English.

But to give Mother credit, where it is due, I do know how to write a concise, and on point letter to my congressmen. See, white men again. Which may bring me to why I didn't vote for Hillary. She is every older woman I ever worked for in the professional world: More white man than white men.

But this morning I am also angry with white women. At least the ones who want to wimp out.

"Never talk politics or religion, my dear," Mother advises from somewhere beyond her grave. And too many of those white women of my age took her advice. Mind you not me. I spoke outside the Student Union in defense of free speech and was disciplined.  Which meant I then participated in the protest when the makers of Agent Orange came to college to offer white men jobs poisoning Asian peoples.

I marched in Washington to end the War in Vietnam and gave flowers to the military lining the streets when Nixon declared Marshall law in DC. He may never have lifted it. Which means the Orange man can use it against the women in the march on Washington the day after he is crowned. The last big May Day March I manned the phones at the National Council of Churches on the ready to bail anyone out. We were the telephone number everyone in the march was to commit to memory. Nobody called because the protesters were rounded up by the military and held without due process at the Red Skins stadium. Some of those people, my friends, I never saw again.

Today all those memories are so fresh there is a pain deep in my belly and I am so totally MAD, Mother.

Note: I am not marching on the 21st. I have volunteered to man the phones. And every morning I contact my congressmen about some issue making me angry.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Who I Was January 10, 2017

I had no sooner finished the previous blog when I found myself asking who was I just the day before. Or the minute before I read the article which made such a difference in how I saw my future.

The glib answer is, "The same me."

But I know that isn't so. If it was then the article would not have had such an impact. I knew we were facing dark days. I knew it was very important to resist the direction this clown and his party were taking our country. I knew I had zero in common with any of them.

But I also knew I had friends who I cut off because after the election they became someone I did not recognize. It was as if the election of Donald Trump had given them permission to use his words and his mocking tone, and his rude and crude behavior. It was almost as if pussy grabbing was contagious or at least I was afraid it was contagious.

Yesterday, I was totally fine with the loss of those few friends almost as if I believed it was a temporary quarantine. I would commit myself to the work of the CDC to cleanse the population of this virus and soon all would be back to normal. A former political activist in my twenties I was finding being in the resistance exciting. I enjoyed the research and the posting in the secret group I belonged to. Every morning since the new Congress was seated I have begun with research as to its agenda for the day and then fired of communications to my representatives and lobby groups or committees in an effort to effect the outcome. Two years was going to fly by. Then we would have a new congress. Impeach the president.

But today I realize it may not be so easy. That I might not persist in this fight. I might cloak myself in the language of the others out of fear or exhaustion or frustration. I might wake up and find myself not me.

I have done a lot of research on serial killers. Boogie men have always been fascinating. And I am aware of the members of the FBI criminal profiling divisions who spend too much time alone with dragons. 

I am an introvert so I know I am strong within myself. I do not compromise me to be accepted. But I am also a mimic and I an pretend to be someone in order to pass a check point.

These blogs are my check points. Check point Charley.

Who I am January 11, 2017

Sunset in Black Lake
I read an article this morning written by Sarah Kendzior for a Dutch publication and posted by my Canadian friend. We're Heading into dark Times as chilling. She called on readers to write down who we are, what we have experienced, and what we had endured before illegitimate president D. Trump takes office because an authoritarian state can change who we are. I have decided to accept my assignment. This is just day one.

I like who I am. I am a photographer and I see it as a calling. I am ready to record the beauty and awe others are too busy to notice. I have always been a recorder. When we traveled in my childhood I kept the records of miles and cities we passed through; took pictures with my little Brownie camera, drew sketches in a sequence of notebooks. We traveled. My relatives did not. They were the solid mid-westerners in Kansas City, Missouri. We were the nomads who settled on New Mexico.

My Aunt Louise didn't even believe New Mexico was part of the United States and offered me sanctuary during a small local uprising in the state when I was at the University of New Mexico.

I think I have always had trouble understanding that particular mind set. I spent the second grade in three different schools. My best friend in the fifth grade was Yolanda. Her family was from the Philippines. I loved her mother's cooking. Squid sauteed in garlic and vinegar was my favorite. I learned to ride a horse bareback from a Navajo. He also told me how to watch for changes in the weather. My father, the pilot, taught me the names of clouds.

The clouds in the photographs below are Asperitas clouds. One of the newest classifications of clouds (2009). Information is still being gathered about their formation and what they portend regarding the weather.

All of which brings me to what else I am; a constant researcher. Google was invented for me. Losing access to a free internet would be very hard for me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Spoiled Cat

Thicke in Attendance
I don't usually write blogs about my pets. Yes, Thicke, is the darling of my Facebook Timeline.  And in the past so have been The Darkness, Wee Willow, and Scrappy.  I have always believed my purr kids were special especially as subjects for my photographs. I am after all a crazy cat lady even if at this point in time that includes just one cat: Bad Boy Alan Thicke.

We have had several days of bad weather which has included extremely high winds and Thicke has been house bound by his own determination. He does not like wind. Suddenly even the array of Amazon Prime boxes has not been enough to keep him amused.

Thicke in a Box
 He has followed me around the house and thrown himself into my activities like putting away the Christmas decorations. The outcome has not always been helpful if photogenic. 

Thicke packing up decorations

Yesterday I was trying to paint in the studio. He loves the studio. In it he has the chair featured in the leading photo, a couple baskets, his own ladder, the director's chair featured below and just about anywhere else he wants to sit. Except on my canvas or drawing.

The Director

He was bored. A bored cat and a wet canvas do not mix well together so I was trying to entertain him so he would get tired and nap and I could paint. I constructed a kitty whip with a bamboo plant stake, a scrap of lacing and a butterfly lure made from a scrap of canvas lying around. It worked quite well for keeping him off my huge project, two 30 x 16 canvases worked as a single painting. But it also kept me away from my project. I was too busy dangling the lure for the prince of the studio.

Finally he laid down on a pile of drawings in a corner of the table and I moved to the paintings almost killing myself on a yellow golf ball he had been batting around the tile floor. I picked it up and put it on the corner table where he laid. Thicke awoke, batted the golf ball over the edging off to the floor. So began his version of fetch. He bats and I fetch. But it allowed me some space to paint. Between bats.

And of course I had to post it as a status message. And so began the tales of other spoiled cats. Even links to blogs about other spoiled cats. It became obvious I was going to have to write at least one blog about my spoiled cat. And this is it. I still maintain, however, he is not spoiled. He is just a cat who interacts with his human, me. That puts him somewhere between dog and cat in the realm of pets. Such a gift should not be discouraged. 

Besides which he is very photogenic.  BTW he did ultimately tire of the game and napped while I painted.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Please Just Be Quiet

Be Still

I want there to be stillness
Be calm even if there is no peace.
Breathe silently
Slowly in and out.
Stop the wind
Cease the shouting.
Do not scream
Or shout.

Be still.

J. Binford-Bell
January 2017

I feel as if I have made a cosmic shift. I felt the same 16 years ago. Only then I was hit on the head. This time I feel as if I have been punched in the belly. Really hard. I am having trouble catching my breath.

Post traumatic stress disorder my psychologist said then. CBT said my neurologist. Acceptance kept me in balance even when everything in my life was changing. Even friends because I was no longer who I used to be. I tried to act as if I was when I went out among strangers who knew me before. At home I noticed I no longer liked Stephen King. I could only watch action films at home so I could escape to the kitchen when it got too fast. I was far more comfortable with the small screen of my computer as opposed to the panoramic screens of the movie theaters. 

Slowly what was strange became normal. I knew the new me. I began revisiting Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. Then embraced the mysteries set in Navajo or Ute Country written by Hillerman, or Dos or Johnson or Box. I streamed BBC creations on my computer. Disconnected from cable and satellite. Slowly embraced some American shows. On my schedule and with a pause button. I confess to muting any and all commercials

Then came the presidential circus of 2014 to 2016. PTSD is really easy to reboot. I was warned. I confess I can no longer watch what passes for entertainment in this world I live on the edges of. The list of streamed favorites I once watched grows smaller and smaller and smaller. I don't want to have the lives of my favorite characters on the brink every episode. And I want the dialog to be spoken and not yelled. 

And it is not just me. It is not just my previous condition. Life is iffy enough right now without fictional danger. There is a mad man in a golden tower with a finger on the nuclear button. Hollywood needs to bring back song and dance. A remake of Singing in the Rain might be nice. Thankfully to Netflix I am able to watch the BBC and old films like Out of Africa. Even past seasons of Midsomer Murders. How about a new Rosemary and Thyme?

Please give me quiet diversion while I contemplate the end of the world as I know it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First You Must Grieve

Through a Fog

All life is about loss. It is what life is. You cannot move forward without leaving something behind. And not all things we leave behind are abandoned with joy. And even then we must grieve that loss. 

We, as a culture, turn things into celebrations be it graduating from college or getting married. A friend who was living in Japan gave me a wedding Kimono upon my marriage to my last husband. It was red and white. Red for the celebration of my new family and white for the grieving of the family I was leaving. I was a modern woman and my parents were dead, his mother didn't even attend so I didn't get the significance then. 

It is only now I see all new steps as a leaving behind of something else. We cannot always be dragging behind the weight of our pasts. I hate being told to hurry up or to get over it. Move on. Moving forward is not as easy as slamming a door shut. You must say goodbye. You must grieve. Or at sometime in the future the past will extract its due. And we each have our own timeline. Each bit of past we put behind us has a different weight or significance. And the same thing for me might be more significant than for you. 

At a 50 year reunion of high school I found some of my former friends had not left those years behind. Had not put them in the past so they could move forward. One high school hero declared those three years the best of his life. They were probably the worst of mine.

As 2016 ends and we move into the uncertain future of 2017 we must grieve what was and what might have been. It won't be. But we must do it in our own time. Not on a schedule set by others. Dreams which die are sometimes the hardest things to leave behind.