Indivisible

I’m grateful for Indivisible: the national grassroots organization that arose from the righteous anger of former Congressional aides after the 2016 presidential election put our country in the hands of the least patriotic, most corrupt, cruelest, and stupidest person in 228 years of presidents. I’m grateful for grassroots activists across the country for crawling, scrambling, and bursting out of the woodwork since that cataclysmic election.

I’m grateful to Ellie for catalyzing our local Indivisible chapter in the valley in February of 2017, and for the years of sanity and community that it has provided for me and dozens of others; and for the loads of fun we’ve managed to share in parades, potlucks, and community festivals. I’m grateful for the ongoing monthly zoom gatherings with our die-hard defenders of liberty and democracy, and for each of their efforts to influence elections in the direction of human rights, dignity, basic freedoms, and compassion. I’m grateful to be welcomed back with open arms after taking a year’s sabbatical, and for the meaningful work of facilitating and recapping some of the meetings.

Because our mission and our message is so important, I’m taking this opportunity to share yesterday’s meeting recap with everyone who reads Morning Rounds. Everything below is relevant to every American. Please step up if you already haven’t, and get involved in whatever way you are able, to protect our “Freedom to vote, freedom to love who you want, freedom to start a family when or if you want, freedom to be safe from gun violence, freedom to read what you want…” (to quote R. Hubbell) “…these are things everyone understands, and no one wants to lose.”

AMPLIFY OUR IMPACT: This became the theme of the meeting. Our overall motivation was reiterated in various ways throughout the meeting: Prevent a second Trump term. If you’re not already, GET INVOLVED. The stakes are simply too high to leave it to chance, or leave it to other voters. 

Some ways we can increase our influence among friends and family are suggesting links like those included here, sharing articles, books, and ways to donate or take direct action.

Jessica Craven’s daily newsletter provides easy, quick actions for every day, and a good news recap each weekend of things that are going right in the world legislatively, politically, and otherwise. 

Robert Hubbell’s daily newsletter offers a sane and hopeful perspective on each day’s news, as well as shout outs to grassroots action groups and numerous opportunities for reader engagement. 

How many of us used to rely on Dan Rather to be the voice of reason bringing us world events? I did. He has a weekly to occasional newsletter called Steady that can help inspire and ground us.

For ongoing inspiration and action opportunities, we can always turn to national and state Indivisible websites and email subscriptions. We at CAI don’t have time to reinvent the wheel. Here’s the national Indivisible link, and here is Colorado Indivisible

Please check out these links, and consider subscribing to some of the newsletters, and sharing them widely.

Several articles were discussed that we invite everyone to read. 

In The Atlantic, 24 journalists on what a second Trump term would actually look like, a series of articles some of which may be free if you start at this link.

In The Washington Post, a profile in courage of the rape victim behind the abortion ad that helped Gov. Andy Beshear win reelection in Kentucky this fall. A moving and important story about women and girls’ rights, and the power of one person’s voice to amplify the voices of thousands. This link is free to all, no paywall.

In The New York Times, an in-depth story about local Silverton, CO, a town bitterly divided by politics at the beginning of the pandemic, and now well on its way to healing the rift. How did they do it? Also free to all, no paywall.

Finally, we all remember (don’t we?) how media coverage of Trump’s circus in 2016 propelled him to victory. The same thing is in danger of happening again, if we don’t make our voices heard to the mainstream media. The narrative of the polls that “Biden is too old” and “Trump is pulling ahead” in a contest that is NOT your average horse race is destructive and directly threatens our freedoms. The press must be held accountable while they still have a chance. A second Trump term will attempt to strip first amendment rights from the very media who refuse to take the potential seriously.

Hubbell wrote yesterday that “If the media narrative shifts, we should amplify it in every way we can. We have suffered through a year of bad press and survived. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity—and urge media outlets to continue their narrative by praising articles that highlight the threat posed by Trump–without telling us that all is lost.” 

Please watch the media and read articles that are starting to shed the ‘infotainment’ angle of presidential campaign coverage to tell it like it is. Then send letters to the source praising them for finally getting on the right track with their journalism after leading us so treacherously down a similar muddied path as that which led to the first Trumptastrophe. And spread the news!

GRATITUDE: Ana sends thanks to everyone who has contributed to the States Project giving circle. They’ve raised $1200 of the $4000 goal, mostly through donations from CAI individuals. We can amplify the impact of this giving circle by talking about it with friends who wish they could do something, and sharing it widely with friends and family through our emails and social media. Here’s the link:

pastedGraphic.pngA Matter of States | The States Project Learn more about A Matter of States such as its mission, community impact, and how you can join or make a one-time online donation. www.grapevine.org

Thank you. Wishing you all peace and contentment in this holiday season. May you remember to notice and celebrate joy and ease in your own life wherever and whenever you find it.

The photos don’t really require captions at this point, they’re largely here to break up the text. However, I am grateful for the delicious eggnog made special for the Bibliofillies with Bob’s Secret Recipe, and delivered cheerfully around the neighborhood today so we could all enjoy our covid-safe holiday book club zoom with our pre-pandemic traditions of eggnog and a book exchange. I’m grateful for how the fillies enlarge and enrich my world.

Breakfast for Dinner

I’m trying to improve my dietary habits a little at a time, like oatmeal for breakfast, and more walnuts. But it’s hard, since I have an ever-growing stack of recipes I want to try, like these maple-pecan scones. So simple, so delicious! Mix a few dry ingredients in one bowl, a few wet ingredients in another bowl, toast and chop some pecans, grate some frozen butter. I made it even easier by using maple cream instead of mixing a glaze from maple syrup and icing sugar. Somehow, I’d never had maple cream before: it’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted! It’s just pure maple syrup distilled into silken heaven.

I did have oatmeal for breakfast again, and a healthy lunch of salad and soup, and then a scone for dessert. After my feast, Wren did a few tricks just in case I might have a treat for her. And after a day of good and meaningful work, it was time to eat again. I’m grateful for three meals a day when I want that many, and for all the causes and conditions that lead to having clean, healthy, and nutritious food in my home.

For dinner I made The Bear omelette, and while my omelette cooking skills can improve this was a good start. There’s all this fancy technique, from whisking the eggs through a strainer into a bowl, and “constantly stir[ing] the eggs while gently jerking the pan back and forth.” I stirred a little too long to get a good fold but it still tasted great, and was definitely fluffier and lighter than the last omelette I made twenty years ago. The quirkiest part of this dish is the sour cream and onion potato chips crushed over the top. I’m grateful for breakfast for dinner.

Oatmeal

The precious clippers and the dozens of other adorable whimsy pieces made this, like all Liberty puzzles, a delight to assemble.

I’m grateful for this lovely puzzle that brightened the past three dark and snowy days, Indoor Summer Garden by Jenny Wheatley.

I’ve never been an oatmeal-for-breakfast person, but in my quest to eat more healthfully I decided a month ago that I’d try again, and I began to imagine a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and maple syrup. Then I started looking for the oats that I was sure were in the cupboard or pantry somewhere. Not to be hasty, I opted to keep looking for my oats rather than surrender to purchasing another canister. So I double and triple checked the cupboards, and over a couple of weeks in several installments sorted and culled the pantry. Still couldn’t find the oats, so I bought a new bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic oats. Finally I could live the dream! And honestly, it’s been every bit as satisfying as I imagined it would be. I add a tablespoon of protein powder and a teaspoon of maple syrup, and feel ever so virtuous eating oats instead of croissants for breakfast. I’m grateful for oatmeal.

Snowy Saturday

I am NOT violating Puzzle Rule #1: The coffee only appears to be above the puzzle, I would never hold a beverage over a Liberty puzzle.

A quiet, snowy Saturday, sleeping late and enjoying a latté and a puzzle: I couldn’t be more grateful for these delights, and I know that it is only through the grace of my birth and the conditions that led to this moment that it is what it is. I did nearly nothing of importance today, just relaxed and enjoyed the simple pleasures of food, water, shelter, and space: the essential ingredients of any animal life.

Deconstructed cheese sandwich: smoked gouda melting on sourdough toast, avocado mayo, and a tiny fresh tomato from the sunroom vine. Wasn’t sure the proportions would work out if I spread them all on the toast at once, so I added flavors bite by bite. Because I’m grateful to have the time and ease to be able to do so.
After lunch, Wren naps in my lap.

Come ON! How fantastic is this? Garden clippers that actually ‘clip’! So grateful for the genius of the Liberty Puzzle puzzle master.

Just before dark we went for a walk. Wren was sneezing when she came back from this romp, and I thought she might have gotten a grass seed up her nose. She seemed to have sneezed it out by the time she got back to me so I didn’t worry about it. Playing this back frame by frame I could note the moment she did get a seed up her nose, and see it still sticking out at the moment the video ends. Clearly she got it out because she quit sneezing and has been fine ever since. It was so long that I’d have noticed if she hadn’t relieved herself of it. Super grateful for that!

For supper, just a snack of miso-maple toasted walnuts. So simple, so delicious. Grateful to watch the finale of the 2023 Great British Baking Show, and inspired, though I’m trying to quit.

No-Buy November

I’m grateful for the first real snow of the season, which started last night and has continued throughout the day. We woke to a couple of inches this morning, and at bedtime tonight it’s up to five or six. So it’s been slow and easy all day. The first snow of the year always reminds me of Conrad Aiken’s short story “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” and brings that muffled sense of peace and isolation he captured so intimately. Wren knows nothing about that story, dwelling in the moment with a snowball on the deck. Seconds after we came inside a snow shelf slid off the roof that would have buried her.

Any money I saved (and there was plenty) by not buying things I don’t need with money I don’t have was instantly offset by the new starter for the Honda. Otherwise, No-Buy November was a smashing success. I’m grateful for the mindful practice of not being a consumer for most of last month, except of groceries and an essential car repair. It’s reset my spendometer to zero and I intend to creep along at a much slower pace going forward. In fact, I’m planning on a Junk-free January, where not only do I not buy anything I don’t need including junk food, but I’ll work hard on getting rid of things I don’t need or that don’t spark joy.

Obviously, because of the joy they spark and the mental exercise, I won’t be relinquishing any Liberty puzzles. I’m grateful to have a couple of new puzzles from our Maryland satellite library, and started a lovely one today after wrapping up the week’s work.

There’s a floral theme, and I started with the easy part, the garden stool. I love, as usual, how the pieces align with the image, as in the bird piece above landing on the bird image. Another trick in this puzzle which is rare in these masterpieces, is at least one piece that fits where it doesn’t belong. I’ve seen this a few times, and know it’s an intentional mind game from the puzzle master, which adds to the delight.

Wrong piece above, and right piece below.

I’m grateful for the luxury of having more than I need, and the wisdom to recognize it. I’m grateful for the lessons of No-Buy November and the motivation to pare down and simplify.

Feeling Useful

Wren likes a belly rub first thing in the morning…

I am grateful for feeling useful today. I got a lot of things done, taking care of myself in several important ways from completing important paperwork to cooking a delicious (adapted) wild rice soup, with several short walks outside in between; getting some work done to meet a deadline; helping others in some meaningful ways…

… and finishing a spontaneous knit hat I started a few days ago when I ran out of Sugar and Cream scrap yarn for dish cloths. I used up some other lovely yarn ends, including a sage chenille and two gorgeous handspun wools. I was able to keep going all day for two reasons I can think of, besides being useful: I enjoyed oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, and I threw in some full caff beans with my decaf coffee. It’s hard to know (and it doesn’t matter) whether any one of these factors was more important than others: together, they contributed to a very fulfilling day. So simple, so satisfactory: Feeling useful, just being me.

Bluebirds

I’m pretty confident that the bird in the top of the birch tree is a western bluebird, but I don’t know what the others are. All About Birds from Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that outside the breeding season, they flock in large numbers with several other species of birds, and the flock this morning was huge. They filled the trees and flew among them as Wren raced with delight below. I’m grateful for bluebirds and all the other little songbirds that live here year-round and those who migrate through. I’m happy these birds were enjoying the birch catkins. I hope they’re back tomorrow; I’ll try to get a better view and photos.

When I pulled into the parking space in front of the PT building this morning, I couldn’t stop looking at this gargoyle face emerging from the natural rock of the stem wall.

Things That Last

I’m grateful for things that last. My little Honda, for example. I’m grateful for numerous offers from neighbors to give me a lift to pick her up, and for the one whose timing worked out today; I’m grateful that Ray got her done quickly once he received the new starter required to get her running again. The cost was staggering, but much better than having to replace the engine or the entire vehicle. I’d been thinking about a new car, but I really like this little old Honda I’ve had for seventeen years this month. Ray was impressed with what great shape she’s in, and amazed that she’s only been in his shop one time many years ago. I’m impressed with how long she’s been running, and grateful for how long she is lasting.

I’m grateful for the sixty-plus-year-old potato masher that Auntie gave me. I’m grateful for ancestral lamps with ancient wires, and old tintype photographs of some of those ancestors. I’m grateful for the carbon steel paring knife my father gave me when I left home for college, which I use every day and remains my favorite knife. I’m grateful for many things that last. I just scooped some kitty litter from the bin into the box using an old square Tupperware that I’ve been using for this purpose longer than I can remember. I do recall that it was my mother’s container and she also used it for many years before she died, which was nineteen years ago this month. I must have packed something in it to bring home safely after her demise, and used it until I lost the lid. Because it had lasted so long, and was so sturdy, I turned it into a kitty litter scoop. Show me a plastic container made today that will function for thirty or forty years: Oh, I’m sure they’ll last, in landfills and oceans, but would they actually still function?

There aren’t that many things that last, anymore. Just when we needed to start conserving resources and energy and manufacturing things that last, companies got the bright idea of planned obsolescence. I was horrified when I learned of this strategy years ago, and I’m still angry about it. I’m grateful for this eloquent diatribe from pioneering rock-climber and outdoors-outfitter Yvon Chouinard, where he pleads for corporate responsibility to return to making things that last. He discusses planned obsolescence and introduces the latest insidious profit-grabbing, planet-destroying strategy, quality fade. This involves “slowly downgrading materials to save money and duping customers into buying something a little bit worse each time even if the label stays the same. As a result, products that could have been made to last a lifetime — or even generations — end up in landfills.”

It’s a great read, and short. I enjoyed learning about how Chouinard developed his quality-driven product ethic from his climbing gear origins, which brought to mind memories of dating a climber in the early 80s who revered Chouinard, and his gear. I’m grateful for some sweet memories that last from that time. And I’m grateful for Patagonia, the company that Chouinard founded, which turns fifty this year. Another thing that’s lasted. And just last year, Patagonia made Earth their only shareholder, a revolutionary corporate approach to conservation.

Tuna Fish

Living inside the kaleidoscope: days after snow it lingers down below and covers the mountains.

I’m grateful for the simple comfort food of tuna fish. I don’t eat it often, but it was a lunch staple when I grew up. As with most purchased fish, it’s complicated to balance the nutritional value with ecological costs. After enjoying it for lunch on a salad, and then for dinner in a tuna melt sandwich, I chanced to read an article about the ‘desperate search for cod babies’ in the North Atlantic. Even the once-most bountiful fishes in the sea are in decline, another symptom of the systemic collapse of life on earth due to human pressures.

Enjoying the tuna, pondering the cod shortage, and contemplating adding more fish to my diet all converged today to make me look up how-to-fish videos on YouTube. I spent a little while imagining myself with a couple of poles, bait, and spinners fishing along the shore of the Crawford reservoir next summer, or some of the mountain lakes, stocking up the freezer for the year. Wren would be splashing along in the shallows or darting about on the beach. Then the kid on the video put a hook through a minnow’s nostril, and I started to doubt my capacity to handle live bait. For now, I think I’ll just stick to enjoying tuna fish. But who knows what summer will bring?

Last night’s full moon rising over the West Elk Wilderness, through the living room window.

Knitting

I’m grateful that we got a little snow overnight. And so winter begins, and brings with it indoor pastimes.

For a few years I knitted a lot of dishcloths, simple squares of knit knit knit, that took little attention and resulted in lovely sustainable dishwashing utensils that I am still using. I knitted enough to increase my supply year by year, and to give as gifts to others who equally appreciated their unique satisfactoriness in the bewildering and often dissatisfying world of dishwashing products, largely throwaway plastics. I was grateful for that hobby which allowed my mind to rest while my hands were productive; until a series of wrist and thumb injuries stopped my knitting career.

I’m grateful that physical therapy and time and life healed my joints enough that I can knit again. I’d been thinking for a few weeks about getting back to the dishcloth habit, and was inspired to finally do so after a conversation with a dear friend led to her buying the dishcloth yarn and sharing her grandmother’s instructions. I didn’t read them because I had mine in my head, but I did sort my yarns and needles into order and started knitting tonight. I texted her the above picture to thank her for her inspiration, and we ended up on the phone trying to figure out where she’d gone wrong with grandmother’s pattern.

We got it squared away, literally, and she started over. I finished my basic square and decided to try the fancier pattern, which had sounded complicated but was actually simple once we understood it. So while she knitted away in Oregon, I knitted here, and later we exchanged photos of our success. I’m grateful for an old friend turning into a new knitting buddy!

I’m grateful for my other little buddy who fits right under the needles while I work. I’m grateful for my friend and her grandmother; and for the little old lady in the eye surgeon’s office years ago who showed me the simple dishcloth she was knitting and recommended Sugar and Cream yarn when I expressed an interest in emulating her. And my knitting buddy and I were both tickled pink when she first found her grandmother’s handwritten instruction page and it called for Sugar and Cream! I’m grateful to be part of a generations-long tradition of thousands of women using this sweet cotton yarn to knit dishcloths, and for all the multiple thousands of people through the years who have grown the cotton, processed the cotton into yarn, the yarn into skeins, and sent the yarn to the shelves. I’m grateful for knitting.