Thoughts on Resolutions

I made a bunch of new years resolutions a few days ago. Unfortunately, I’ve been sick with a bad cold and awake all night coughing, so that’s kept me from getting a start on half of them. I have started the fiction editing, finished the 2019 annual bookkeeping, looked up the Chatham County Democratic party online, and figured out the row-a-day scarf (along with a modification that is okay to miss a day and then catch up. Even 2 or 3 days!). But the daily vigorous exercise – not a chance this week.

So now, in light of this halting start, I’m making another resolution: to cut myself a break when circumstances get in the way.

#newyears #resolutions

The Long Night, Chapter One

This is a little scary for me, but here goes. Last year I wrote a story for and this year I want to edit it. The thing is I have no particular talent and no training for writing fiction. So, the scary part is exposing my attempts to my nonexistent readers. I’m going to do it a little bit at a time. Please please feel free to make suggestions. In my opinion, this first bit is kind of flat, but that’s okay. If I don’t jump in, I’ll never jump in. I’ll improve it later.

Copyright, all rights reserved, 2020

Greetings.  I have wanted to write a story set in Norilsk, and now I have.  It is a very rough first draft.  I would like to know if you finished it and, if so, what you think of the setting and whether the story is worth editing and revising.  Please be honest.

Things that need to be done to the rough draft, in no particular order:

Research:  the % of minerals that come from Norilsk Nickel, hierarchy in Russian police force, use of mercury street lights, laws about gun ownership, nature of permafrost, juvenile delinquency regulations in Russia, use of search warrants in Russia,

Also, must attend to: Last names where needed, Punctuation and formatting of quotations, Time line – events in sequence, in reasonable amount of time, editing for word choice, grammer, flow

 Author’s Note

Norilsk is a real city.  It is located in Siberia and is the northernmost city of more than 100,000 people in the world.  It was founded as a gulag for prisoners, but is now inhabited by 170,000 people who live their voluntarily. The reason for its existence is the presence of nickel and other minerals.  The main industry is Norilsk Nickel, a vast mine that is the source of XX percent of the world’s nickel and other minerals. 

Pollution.  Minerals are mined and smelted in Norilsk and the resultant pollution is reduces life expectancy significantly, to approximately 50 to 55.  Workers are entitled to full retirement at 45, and no plants or trees grow for miles around due to the pollution.  However, in recent years, Norilsk Nickel has taken steps to remedy this.

Weather:  It snows 270 days of the year.  In winter there are about 45 days when the sun never rises, and in the summer 8 weeks when the sun never sets.  For several months the temperature is below zero.  In the brief summer it may go up to 40 or 50.

Ravelry is an actual website, where over 8,000,000 knitters post on hundreds of forums and record their yarny exploits. 

What is not necessarily true:  everything else. I hereby state the customary disclaimer that the people are all imaginary and not intended to bear any resemblance to anyone living or dead. 

But it goes farther than that. I made all this up.  Norilsk is what is called a closed city.  In order to visit, one needs government permission, presumably because of the strategic significance of the mining that takes place there.  Because it’s a closed city, there are few tourists and no published guides. Also, there are no roads or passenger trains to Norilsk.  There is a freight train that goes further north, but people must arrive by air.  This makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of daily life, sights to see, customs, views, local habits and festivals, favorite foods, social patterns, living arrangements, hobbies, and so on. 

I resolved the problem of obtaining accurate information about daily life in Norilsk by making it all up. I have no idea if any of the description of life in Norilsk bears the slightest resemblance to reality.

Chapter One: Introduction

        Our story opens on December 4 in Norilsk, Siberia, in the Russian Federation. Several days earlier, the sun had risen and set for the last time for the next six weeks.  At the moment our heroine, Roza, was in an orange grove, with bees buzzing near her head. Of course, Roza had never been in an orange grove or seen a bee, but such is the magic of dreams. The bees continued buzzing loudly until Roza awoke to realize that she had forgotten to turn off her alarm. That remedied, she slept for 2 more hours.

When she woke again, Roza reached for her laptop and checked a few sites, then closed its battered top and tucked it between her mattress and the bed board.  Standing, she twisted and stretched from side to side with her arms raised overhead before moving to a window.  Although the sky outside was a deep bluish grey, she could see across the courtyard to several other five story concrete apartment buildings that mirrored her own.  Harsh street lamps illuminated the few people who were outside in the gathering darkness. It was 2:00 in the afternoon.

Even during the 45 days a year when the sun does not rise in Norilsk, there are brief periods of twilight – civil, nautical, and astronomical. Civil twilight is defined as the time when the sun is no more than 6 degrees below the horizon and daily activities can be conducted without artificial light.  Nautical twilight occurs when the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon, and the sky is a deep blue.  Astronomical twilight, when the sun is more than 12 degrees below the horizon, is the period just before full darkness.  At 2 in the afternoon, nautical twilight was yielding to astronomical twilight’s deeper darkness.

Roza’s apartment was on the second floor at the end of the hall, a location that she considered ideal.  The apartments on the first floor were exposed to the brutal winds that blew into the building.  On the other hand, she was glad not to be any higher in the building because Roza shared the apartment with her grandmother, Nadya, and did not want her to climb to the 3rd, 4th, or 5th floor.  Furthermore, they had windows on three sides because their apartment was at the end of the hall.

Roza moved from her bedroom to the main room, where she and Nadya spent most of their time. This room had a kitchen area, a table and chairs, and a small couch.  Next to windows on one side were tiered shelves holding over 100 plants, including herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Although Norilsk Nickel was engaged in an ambitious effort to alleviate it, the air pollution was still too severe for trees and plants to grow near the city.  There is a human need for greenery, which in Norilsk was met by indoor plants.

Nadya had been born in Norilsk, but her parents grew up where the soil was living, and so Nadya was skilled at nurturing plant life.  She crooned old Russian folk songs to her flowers, exhorted the herbs to be strong and healthy, and attended to her flowers and vegetables with the dedication of a governess or besotted admirer.  Her indoor garden rewarded her devotion by blooming, sprouting, or leafing out. Roza’s job was to water the garden, to save Nadya the back strain of filling the water and bending over repeatedly.

After watering the small indoor garden, Roza brewed a cup of tea for Nadya and coffee for herself.  She set the table automatically, having made the same gestures daily for over a decade, since Nadya came to live with her.  Without having to think about it, she cooked an oat porridge, adding a small amount of honey.  Then she crossed the hall to bring Nadya her tea.

“I’m up, I’m up,” she heard Nadya say from their tiny bathroom. It was tiny, but – wonderfully – it was private.  Roza thanked the fates every day that they did not have to share a bathroom with other apartments.  “I’ll leave your tea by the bed, Babushka.”  Nadya had adapted to Roza’s schedule and generally slept until Roza fixed breakfast at around 3:00.  Roza returned to the kitchen, and looked more closely at a small miniature orange tree growing among the other plants.  “Nadya, I think we can add one of the little oranges to our cereal – what do you think?”  “Wait until I can look at it.”

Roza sat down and sipped her coffee.  The garden contained a large onion and mustard greens that were on the verge of bolting.  Roza thought that if she got to the market when it first opened, after she got off work at 7:00 a.m., she could buy a piece of meat, a few potatoes, and a carrot, with which to make a stew.  And, of course, no one would blame her if she happened to stop by the Stolle bakery to buy her babushka a sweet roll . . . and maybe visit with Sergei.  Nadya came into the main room, set her tea on the table, and went over to the garden area.  “Okay, which of you are ready for cereal, eh?” she murmured over the little oranges.  No, you need to get larger.  You – come with me.”  She sat at the table and handed Roza a calamondin orange no more than an inch or two in diameter.  Roza hopped up, kissed the top of Nadya’s head and carefully dissected the orange.  All of it, including the peel, was added to their cereal.  The seeds she put in a bottle cap and set by Nadya for future gardening.  The orange bits added welcome flavor to the otherwise bland cooked cereal.  As they ate, Roza shared her proposed shopping list with Nadya, who approved, adding only that she should get a garlic clove as well.  “I’ll dig up Mr. Onion and cut the greens while you’re gone,” she said.


Here we go!

I’m adding one more to this daunting list – knit a long scarf by adding a little every day.

New Year in Norilsk

One of my resolutions is to edit a story set in Norilsk, which is in Siberia and is the northernmost city of over 100,000. Almost 200,000 people call Norilsk home and love it, despite its isolation (no roads or trains in or out, and you need government permission to visit), the weather (no sun for 6 weeks, months of snow and below zero temps), and the pollution (nothing much grows there, full retirement at 45 because life expectancy is low). I find it fascinating, the extreme weather and the residents’ affection for their home town. Because it’s a closed city, when I wrote a story set there I had to make everything up, with no idea whether it bears any resemblance to reality.

Anyhow, I’m in a Norilsk Facebook group (can’t understand any of it because it’s all in Russian), and here are a few photos from today:

Resolution hereby Resolved

It’s 31 December 2019, time for New Years Resolutions. I resolve:

To do some writing and some exercising every day.

To start a garden, organize yarn, keep painting, and write letters.

Not to make 20-20 vision jokes during 2020.

Anyone else?

“The Weight | Featuring Robbie Robertson | Playing For Change

2020 Ticket

Time to consider the best 2020 Democratic ticket. Disclaimer: Just my opinion:


We cannot win with a ticket that is two white men.

We need a woman on the ticket, and we also need a non-white person on the ticket. Yes, I realize that if Stacy Abrams or Kamala Harris is on the ticket, that takes care of both.

We need a presidential candidate that Cousin Louise would vote for. (Louise, my second cousin, is an educated, suburban Republican who is dismayed by Trump. My own one-person demographic!).

Candidates being ruled out. This exercise does not consider candidates who appear to have no chance of winning, although WHO KNOWS, I certainly ruled out Voldemort in 2016. Management is ruling out the following:

Yang – one trick pony with low poll numbers.

Williamson – she actually has some good ideas, but oh well.

All those white guys on the sides of the stage in the first 2 debates.

Possible tickets.

1. Biden and someone. I’m not enthused. He’s too old, too old fashioned, too dull, too more of the same. But he is the front runner for now anyway, so okay. Let’s give him a good running mate, either Kamala Harris or Stacy Abrams. That would boost turnout, Louise would vote for him, and I think he’d win. Not enthused though.

2. Bernie and someone? No. I just won’t. He is passionate about his ideas, his ideas are good ones, but my instinct is no. He seems more interested in shouting than in the nitty gritty of governing, and Louise would balk at voting for him. If he is the nominee, who would run with him? Klobuchar to add a woman and a moderate? Stacy or Kamala?

3. Elizabeth Warren! She has plans! If she tweaks her positions just a little (that’s a separate post), Louise would vote for her. She comes across as peppy and practical. Let’s pair her with Cory Booker, and we’ve ticked the racial and gender boxes with 2 nice people. I like Buttigieg better than Booker, but racial diversity is necessary to drive turnout. Best ticket so far.

4. Kamala Harris and somebody? Buttigieg and somebody? Would the two of them be a good ticket? Putting this match aside for now.

5. Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Castro. Sorry guys, but I don’t see a place for you. I don’t trust Amy, and both Beto and Julian have shown lapses in judgment, and I don’t want to vote for any of them.

“Turn of the Key”

Listening to Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key while knitting, and the (?)heroine is driving me nuts. I want to slap her. Since that’s not possible, I’ll opt for a running commentary. Spoilers abound.

10 September. Knitting. Lovely green shawl for a friend (Hi Laura!) who is expecting twins.

Not A Spoiler. The book opens with the protagonist, Rowan, writing to an attorney from a Scottish prison where she is awaiting trial on charges of killing a child in her care. She insists on her innocence and asks the lawyer to read “the whole story” of what led up to the child’s death.

9 September. Knitting: an appallingly hideous scarf knit from some frightful hairy novelty yarn. Someone hired a friend (hi Merike!) to knit two of them, and I offered to do one.

Story so far: Rowan takes a position as a nanny for a rich family with 3 small girls and a teenager, who live on an isolated estate in remote Scotland. Every room of the old home place has been outfitted with cutting edge computer activated smart house features, including surveillance capability. Normal, right? She accepts the job without nailing down important details about her duties, the girls, or the smart house stuff. Mom seems to be a nervous wreck and dad is a sexist pig. She also ignores the flashing red light that 2 or 3 hundred nannies quit during the previous year, ostensibly because the place is “haunted.”

As soon as she arrives, both parents leave for a few weeks (also very normal, right?) and then ~~☆*creepy spooky*☆~~ stuff starts to happen. Mysterious creaky footsteps, disappearing keys, lights going on in the night, strange noises in the dark? Is it a ghost? (spoiler: I doubt it.) More to follow!


category: brief rant.

Eleven Democratic candidates for President have qualified for the next debate. Each one could plausibly complain about something – the way they are covered by the media, the schedule of primary elections, campaign finance regulations, misleading statements by their opponents, even their assigned positions on stage during the debates.

For example, one can easily imagine supporters of Biden griping that the media focuses too much on supposed gaffes, or Kamala Harris boosters complaining about slanted coverage of her record as a prosecutor. Warren is probably just as sick of Pocahontas stories as Buttigieg is of seeing “openly” next to the word “gay.” Can anyone doubt that Beto’s backers fume at the stories about his failure to rise in the polls, that Castro and Klobuchar think they deserve more media attention, or that Yang and Williamson don’t think their campaigns are given serious consideration?

None of the candidates are campaigning in 100% perfect circumstances. In particular, the media tends to run articles portraying each of them with one or another simplistic label or tag line. And, to increase attention, articles posit unlikely conflicts or pointless straw men. “How long can Warren and Sanders remain friends?” “Is Buttigieg the new Beto”? “Can a woman win this time?”

BUT. A carefully conducted and statistically reliable survey (of my friends and relations) establishes two important points. First, with one exception, no matter which candidate people prefer at this stage of the game, they plan to vote for whoever ultimately wins the Democratic nomination. Secondly, with one exception, they understand that anyone running for any office is likely to face annoying party rules, misleading media coverage, silly debate moderators, and false statements by reporters and politicians. Right? So, okay, Big Shrug, and whatcha gonna do, thems the breaks.

EXCEPT, gosh darn it, for the Bernie Brigade. Don’t get me wrong, Bernie is a good guy with some good ideas. But his supporters are the only ones who insist that if he doesn’t win it’s because of an evil conspiracy, and the only ones who declare that they won’t vote for anyone if Bernie doesn’t win.

Not only is this annoying as hell, it’s also scary because it increases the chances of Voldemort’s re-election.

Furthermore, the “Bernie or no one” position is the exact opposite of the values behind Sanders campaign. Democratic socialism is based on the principle that we should, within reason, enact policies that benefit society as a whole, even at the expense of certain individual privileges. The idea is that people may pay higher taxes and businesses may have more regulations, but free public transportation will be available and pollution will decrease. It ultimately requires some sacrifice by the individual for the good of all. However, a Bernie Brat who is willing to see Trump re-elected if Sanders is “cheated” out of the nomination is essentially declaring that they will sacrifice what is manifestly best for the common good rather than endure the personal discomfort of voting for a party or candidate they are not thrilled with.

To the Bernie or Bust cohort, I say (1) grow up, and (2) what would Bernie do?

Bright Side

I won this yarn in a charity auction that raised over $14,000 for the Coalition to Stop Violence against Native Women. The pattern is called Bright Side, by Makenzie Alvarez, and the yarn was dyed by Knitted Wit.

Bubble gum!! Summer sherbet!! My Little Ponies!! I’m proud to have supported this cause. Depending on the final result, I may give the shawl to a child.

Time to Break Up?

This is a map of the United States. I’m no longer sure whether we should remain United.

Polls indicate that some 40% percent of Americans plan to vote for Trump. This leaves a person (note: by “a person” I mean me 😁) spluttering in frustration. “But how can you?! Why?! Don’t you see that he is” – are there any adjectives that haven’t been used? Ignorant, lying, narcissistic, incompetent, insecure, greedy, self-centered, stupid, shallow, lying, lying, lying. Oh who are we kidding, they know all that.

So, Why? Some are so virulently determined that every girl or woman who becomes pregnant be forced to deliver a baby that nothing else matters. Apparently polls indicate that 20% of all Americans favor outlawing abortion in every case, and another 30% think strict limits are in order.

Another big group of Trump supporters are people who love guns more than they love human beings. So, the ostensible devotion to unborn embryos doesn’t translate into any concern for living children. Nope, these folks are willing to risk their own tender children being slaughtered by a random madman as long as they can keep their military rapid assault I-dont-care-what-the-tecnical-term-is weapons.

I despair of people who are so anti-intellectual that, rather than aspiring to read, learn, master a new skill, or grow, they use the word “elite” as a sneering curse. update – a poll reports thst 33% of Republicans think colleges are bad for the country. What the actual hell?

How can one get through to someone who actually believes what they hear from Trump, Fox Spews, or online conspiracy nuts? (by “one” I also mean me of course 😀).

Trump voters are all either stone cold racists or so het up about some issue like immigration or guns that they will overlook his constant, blatant, incessant racism.

But, really, a lot of it really, is racism. Trump voters are folks who are so convinced that their taxes mostly provide assistance to nonwhite transgender immigrants that they are willing to die – literally die from lack of medical care – rather than expand Medicaid.

Or they have been tricked into believing that “government regulation” is the source of all evil. Trump voters are prepared to breathe poisoned air and drink polluted water if it means thwarting the wishes of the “coastal elites.” What is WRONG with them? Stupidity? Bitterness? So, okay, I admit “a person” can get kind of foaming at the mouth about all this.

The point is this: apparently a sizeable percentage of our population would prefer a country that (1) is a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, in which religious beliefs are a legal excuse to discriminate and public meetings are opened with explicitly Christian prayer, (2) spending on education, parks, libraries, public health, and other services is reduced or eliminated lest these benefits be used by “those others” (3) regulation of industry, employment, and the environment is reduced or eliminated because guvmint regulation, and (4) anyone can walk around anywhere with a military assault rifle.

So, let them have that country, I want no part of it.

The question, nonexistent readers, is how to divide up the country? Should we use state lines? Should we split into two, or maybe more? Look at the map up top and try to figure it out. When one (me again) starts fiddling with the map, several problems are apparent.

First, places that seem to belong together are not all next to each other. The coastal elites are on different coasts, so do we connect them with a band across the top? Secondly, a lot of people might end up in the wrong country – looking at you, Austin, New Orleans, Chapel Hill, Athens Ohio, Athens Georgia, etc. Finally, it’s kind of sad, as break ups are. Kentucky and West Virginia can’t really survive without the taxes collected in New York and Massachusetts. A person could miss Miami and Charleston.

If anyone has thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.

Nautical Knitting

A few photos from the knitting cruise:

Head Banger

In Bellingham I was on a wonderful sailing and knitting cruise among the San Juan Islands. The ship was The Schooner Zodiac and the knitting was organized by Northwest Yarns and a good time was had by all.

I was with a good friend and neighbor and, after the cruise, we had a big spaghetti supper complete with dessert and 2 glasses of wine. Back at the condo we relaxed with a tiny bit of something that is legal in Washington but that in retrospect may have been a bad idea.

So now we have a combination (DH calls it a perfect storm) of exertion, dehydration, alcohol, blood sugar overload, and that other thing. This resulted in my experiencing low blood pressure and fainting, which in turn resulted in passing out flat on my face.

The fall resulted in 2 jaw fractures, loosened teeth, black eyes, swelling, bruises and, worst of all, a concussion. Ten days later I am still dizzy and on a liquid diet (As a result of which I’ve lost 8 pounds, so there’s that).

The Walkers

When I can’t sleep, I think about the Walkers, a fictional group living in, roughly, Mendocino County some 150 years after an apocalyptic disaster. The Walkers might be the title of this year’s Nanowrimo book

I read somewhere “There are only two basic stories – ‘a young man set out to find his fortune,’ and ‘a stranger came to town.’ ” I guess this the second. More to follow.

Teach Your Children Well

I find this video very affecting. In fact, I cried when I first watched it.

All About That Base

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, whose song was catchy and body-positive:

The 2020 election – it’s all about that base. We have to win, because who could stand another 4 years of this?

To win, we have to turn out the younger people and all the African Americans who tuned out for Obama. And to do that, management has concluded that we need to nominate Kamala Harris.

UPDATE August 22. Maybe not. Management continues to believe that African American voter turnout is a key, and that this will be easier if there is a person of color on the ticket, but might that be accomplished with Cory or Stacy as VP?

Look, any of them will be a quantum leap better than that [add your own expletives and colorful barnyard sayings here]. Kamala may not be your first choice, or mine. But we don’t win if we don’t motivate the black vote.

Now scroll up and play the video again. It’s catchy!


No Joe Biden is not the most “electable” candidate. Electability is code for “dull white candidate who won’t turn off the right wing of the Democratic party.” History demonstrates that choosing the “electable” candidate is a losing strategy.

Since WWII, the Democrats have consistently LOST by running safe “electable” candidates. Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, even Hillary – they all lost. (Yes, I know Republican chicanery played a huge role in Gore’s and Hillary’s defeats, but it shouldn’t have been that close.)

Democrats have WON by taking the “risk” of nominating a candidate who represented a break with the past, in some way that made sense at that moment. Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, Obama all won. In 1960, it was a Thing for a young Catholic to run; in 1976, Carter’s piety was a refreshing change from Nixon’s amorality; Clinton ran as a “new Democrat” (no comment on all that), and of course Obama promised Hope and Change and the first African American candidate.

No, Biden is not the best candidate. The crucial key to winning is turnout and inspiration, and who find Uncle Joe inspiring? Or Klobuchar or any of the indistinguishable white guys at either end of the row during the debates?

#electability #Buttegieg2020 #Harris2020

Wilde Across America

My nephew is having a wonderful adventure, biking with his cousin from Minneapolis to Seattle and posting daily updates on Instagram under @wildeacrossamerica.

They have camped out a few nights, sleeping in the open and cooking out. Most nights, however, they have found shelter with strangers in the small towns that they pass through. Apparently there is a network of biking enthusiasts who put each other up.

I’m glad he is exploring the world beyond suburban New Jersey, and discovering natural beauty and kind souls. There is nothing political in his posts, photos, or reflections, so this Debbie Downer observation is all my fault.

The observation is this: You kind of need to be a straight, white, Christian, cisgendered male for this trip to be such a carefree lark. Just saying, and nothing against him or all the fun.

First Pass – Joe Biden

Joe Biden has applied for the position of President. Management finds that the pros and cons of his application have a substantial overlap.

Pros – Biden’s strongest assets are that (1) he is likeable and seems authentic, and (2) he could jump right in without needing an education, given that he’s been in politics since 1753 and has even been vice president.

Cons – Biden’s greatest weaknesses are that (1) his go-along-to-get-along, affable, deal-making personality is not what we need in this time of crisis, which cries for someone who is braver and willing to step on toes if necessary to save the country, and (2) he’s been in politics since 1756 and does not seem to have Kept Up with Things.

Leader in the Polls. Biden is the current front runner. This is a point in his favor, but the rankings will surely change and change again.

Can he win? Maybe.

On one hand, people who dislike the current president won’t be “afraid” to vote for him. They won’t associate a vote for Biden with a dangerous leap into some hitherto unknown presidential demographic (a gay French Hindu juggler!).

On the other hand, Biden will neither excite anyone nor bring a new generation on board. Nor would any demographic, even his own, be thrilled that – at last! – an old white man will have a chance.

Then there is the question of age. See the post of April 14 that I would link to if I remembered how, “Are Some 2020 Candidates Too Old For the Demands of the Presidency?”

Nominating Biden feels like admitting that we lack vision, guts, bravery. On the other hand, he is the current front runner.

Conclusion: Biden will not be invited back for a second interview at the moment. However his application is retained for further review.

The Washington Post: Want to help prevent mass extinction? Get rid of that grass lawn. (Seriously.)

I wish I could leave this on the neighbor’s lawn. You know, the one with the lush lawn maintained with pesticide, about 3 houses down the hill? It’s yellow but isn’t my yellow house.

Want to help prevent mass extinction? Get rid of that grass lawn. (Seriously.)


Reyna is a free pattern for a one-skein triangular shawl. The design is a mindless combination of garter stitch and eyelet lace, perfect for social knitting or Knitting Under the Influence. It’s so boring that I need TV or conversation to work on it. Nonetheless, I’ve made several. Here is the latest.

“Go get the paper.”

“I think we should switch the New York Times and the N&O to digital. We’d save a lot of money.”

Well, yes we’d save some money. It’s also more environmentally healthy, all those trees not being used for paper. We’ll do it I suppose, but I’m not enthusiastic.

It’s obviously a generational thing, dating from a time when kids had paper routes, moms saved clippings, and the latest update arrived with the paper and not on your phone.

I like newspapers. They wait patiently if you get busy for a day or two. You can spread them out on the table, or give them a brisk shake as you turn a page. They’re useful for packing, painting, and lining canary cages. And the last thing I need is to spend more time staring at a screen.

When I was a kid, the driveway was two tenths of a mile long and “getting the paper” was a chance to daydream for a few minutes. “The puzzle” referred to the NY Times crossword, which gets harder as the week progresses.

For 36 years of married life, we’ve taken at least two papers. We’ve dashed out to get them before the rain started, cut out recipes (So old fashioned) and given “the paper boy” (usually a 50 year old man) twenty dollars at Christmas.

So, yeah, I guess it’s time to go digital, but I’m not excited about it.


Past Present and Future

Mothers Day.

My time as an active day-to-day mom is in the past. My own mother died 15 years ago. When you do your job right, you render yourself unnecessary – my mom said that about motherhood. The child becomes an adult with a partner or family that is the center if their life, exactly as it should be. Time to move on.

I have a box of old family letters in the closet that I should maybe get rid of. They certainly don’t spark joy. Some are hurtful, even mean.

The past. Do the old letters, old books, old things, connect me to the Past? Why do I want that – am I going to forget my childhood if I don’t keep old detritus around? And why would forgetting some things be a big deal?

I have lots of current projects and ideas for the future, but I’m haunted by the fear that I was a generally Bad Mother – wounding and harmful rather than nurturing and inspiring. I’ve sought therapy, not to resolve gripes about my parents, but to figure out if I was really so awful. I’ve done searching moral inventories of my mistakes.

But why? Why can I forgive myself for normal failings, since most of the time things were okay, even good, and my mistakes were well within normal range?

I think it goes back to accepting that the whole mother with children thing is over.

So, Big Realizations. First, as long as I participate in drama, I’m not coming to grips with the reality that the only healthy relationship for adults is an adult one. Secondly, I can unilaterally withdraw from the drama.

I can burn old letters. I can let go of drama that serves only to perpetuate long-outgrown roles. I can engage less with the past and more with the future. I can stay on my side of the street.

Happy Mother’s Day – we all do our best, and we all benefit by forgiving ourselves.

Love and Death in the Spanish Moss

Okay, it’s time to write a southern gothic novel – the kind with forbidden love, ghosts, murder, creaks heard at night, sexy family secrets, and so on. Ready, imaginary readers? I’ll provide the illustrations and a prompt, you fill in the blanks.

She hasn’t seen the ruined plantation house since that fateful day 40 years ago, but she still remembered . . .

The sight of the barred windows brought a shudder. That hot night in July . . .

She recalled the lane – how innocent it first appeared!

Fearfully, she stepped inside. There was the hall, the old fireplace . . .

The sight of the stairs brought a slight shudder. She’d waited upstairs, only to discover the truth . . .

Fleeing the house, Erythrinia found herself among the live oaks – under whose branches she had first –

The Spanish moss dripped like blood from the branches . .

There had always been only one way out of Tibwin. For so long she had been locked in . . .

#spanishmoss #gothicnovel #southerngothic #southcarolina #photography #tibwin

Report: Electability

Review of the application of Amy Klobuchar has raised the issue of electability. Obviously, management is charged with selecting, not simply the best candidate, but the best candidate who can defeat Trump in 2020. Accordingly, management has commissioned a report on the subject of electability.

A Central Question. The debate over electability often focuses on the relative merits of two opposing viewpoints:

(1) Choose a candidate from the middle, who will appeal to the broadest swath of potential voters and have a greater chance of winning the votes of disaffected Republicans.


(2) Choose a vibrant, exciting candidate who will increase turnout among his or her demographic group, younger voters, and progressives seeking transformative change.

This report cites a number of articles. Hot off the presses today is “Can anyone define what ‘electability’ means?” in the Washington Post.

Update. a new article from WaPo about electability.

Perhaps my favorite article is in The New Republic which declares that “electability is a crock of shit.” Similarly, Vox argues that the term “electability” is a coded way of saying “white male.”

A few more articles – one in the Washington Post about electability, and a good one in The Intelligencer about the two main opposing views.

Don’t get nervous, but an article in Real Clear Politics suggests that a significant number of voters would vote for a Democrat, depending on who the candidate is, and thus that the choice of candidate matters a lot. Gee, thanks for increasing the pressure.

Observation. Can’t remember where I read it, but Democrats have lost more often by running supposedly electable candidates, and seem to do better with candidates who offer something new. (It’s ancient history now, but it was a big deal that Kennedy would be the first Catholic president).

Preliminary Conclusion. It seems that “electability” is often shorthand for “most conventional and least threatening.” If a candidate’s views are bizarre or extreme, they are not electable.

But, if a candidate has the same general positions as other candidates, we should not assume that they are unelectable simply on the basis that “America will never vote for a candidate who is” [so young, so old, black, white, Hispanic, gay, unmarried, angry, from the south, inexperienced, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, quirky, etc. etc.].

This is a big subject and I’d love to know what my imaginary readers think. Meanwhile, it’s time to publish this for now with a promise to revisit it as we go along.

#electability #2020electability