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.

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.

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.

Clean Air

I was ok without bread for a cheese sandwich yesterday, because I had leftover comfort food in the fridge. I had cooked a batch of grits and a creamy mushroom sauce the night before. Grits was just for breakfast when I was growing up, but I’ve learned recently that I like it more than rice or pasta as a base for many delicious sauces or toppings. Tonight I enjoyed more leftover grits topped with leftover mustard-parmesan cauliflower that I roasted last night, with grated cheddar and a splash of salsa: just a mashup of delicious. But I was grateful to have a fresh, perfect loaf of sourdough out of the oven this morning in time for lunch, another cheese sandwich: cheddar and a slice of roasted cauliflower. Mayo, of course. So simple, so delicious.

I’m grateful for another beautiful day as this mild autumn lingers despite the forecast for snow. Outside there’s the occasional waft of woodsmoke from someone’s fireplace or stove in the morning or evening, but even throughout winter with lots of people burning wood and some still using coal to heat their homes, the air at this altitude is generally clear and crisp. I read yesterday and then saw video on the news last night about the air quality crisis in Delhi, India. Air quality rating here tonight is 29. Last weekend, air quality in Delhi was rated around 218: 0-50 is considered good. After Diwali festival fireworks, Delhi’s AQI measured 850. ERs were crowded with children unable to breathe. I’m grateful for the miracle of clean air on this little mesa in a world where willful ignorance continues to foul the air that billions of human and other beings rely on.

Old Friends and Existential Threats

I’m grateful for Old Friends and Existential Threats. They both give me a healthy perspective on this fragile human life. And when the two come together it doesn’t get any better. A dear couple of friends from out of town visited yesterday morning, to enjoy a short visit, coffee, and cinnamon rolls. They are Dog People, and quickly made friends with Wren, who was delighted with their calm and soothing attention.

We were discussing Biko, who is now 23, and he asked about the tortoise’s life expectancy. “80,” I said, “ish.” We laughed as he said “You’ve gotta find someone young, then.” Then she asked, “Not to be gauche, but what are you gonna do with this place?” I laughed. “It’s only gauche to ask if you think I might be leaving it to you,” I said. I shared my thoughts on the matter, and they understood without further explanation. They are also Climate Realists. Then they left, and I came inside and opened the virtual newspapers, and read about this Supervocano in Italy. I’ve been well aware of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, but I had not realized there are more scattered around the world.

“Supervolcano is ‘a made-up word,’ said volcanologist Michael Poland, scientist in charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. ‘I think it’s misleading. I think it’s misapplied. I can’t stand that term…”  Of course it’s a made-up word. All our words in any language are made-up words.

Supervocano refers to only about 20 of the 1000+ known volcanos on earth, one that has already erupted with astonishing force, ejecting “a volume of around 1,000-cubic kilometers or more — about a thousand times bigger than Mount St. Helens.” Supposedly, just because one erupted thirty thousand or a couple of million years ago doesn’t mean it will erupt again. But it might! And while it might not result in human extinction, if one does erupt in our time it would create massive destruction and havoc across the globe. So the mere idea of an Existential Threat reminds me of the fragility of all life on earth, and of course my own; while a visit from Old Friends recalls the stability of enduring connection among our fragile human selves.

And speaking of perspective, we were all three grateful to hear the primeval call of migrating sandhill cranes, a bird that’s been around at least two million years, and then we felt doubly blessed when this beautiful V flew right overhead. Bearing witness to this antediluvian species puts our own into a healthy perspective that adds even more gratitude to my little life.

Last night I was grateful to prepare another delicious recipe I’ve been wanting to make for awhile, and finally had all the ingredients: Chickpea-Mushroom veggie burger. You’re supposed to freeze the patties for at least two hours but by the time I finished mixing everything I was too hungry to wait, so I fried one right away. It was really delicious! And I still had eight to freeze for later meals.

Today I was grateful for a lot of other things, including a good vacuum cleaner, Method cleaning products, a warmish sunny day, and a visit from a newer friend, mentor and teacher. She also, it turns out, is a Dog Person, and Wren recognized that right away. That, or Wren is just starting to realize that most people are dog people at heart, and no one is out to hurt her while she lives with me.

Other People

Obligatory Wren portrait, the little lady among her rumpled bedclothes, suggesting “Do we really have to get up already?”

My dear departed friend Michael had a postcard on his refrigerator that I coveted. It became my secret motto, and it looked something like this:

It’s hardly an appropriate mantra for a mindfulness teacher, so as my practice has developed I’ve modified my interpretation. Whether it’s ear-splitting music shattering the peace of a secluded beach or earth-shattering climate chaos, it’s the ignorant choices of some other people that ruin things. It’s not the polar bears or the giant redwoods ruining their own habitats, it’s people. It’s not the natural desert sucking the Rio Grande dry, or grazing bison depleting the Ogallala Aquifer, it’s people. These are just the tip of the melting iceberg, of course: Everyone has their own examples, from wars to weeds.

But while it’s true that most of the horrible things I lament in the world are the result of other people, it’s also true that other people are responsible for almost every good thing in my life. They’re certainly responsible for my survival from birth, the education, employment, and other opportunities that shaped me and enabled me to settle here, and my ongoing thriving in this wonderful community. And just like me, most other people are doing the best they can with what they have to live their own little lives without causing intentional distress for anyone else.

Other people are responsible in some way for everything on this table, from the copper watering can and ceramic bonsai pots to the coffee, its mug, the ingredients for the cookie and its plate, and the table itself. Other people created from natural materials all the construction elements of the sunroom where the table sits, from the adobe bricks to the window frames and the glass windows. All the art in my home (including photographs I made) came in some way from other people. Even the tiny percentage of food that I grow in the garden (that other people helped me create) relies on the efforts of other people for the seeds, water delivery, soil amendments, and help maintaining. It’s an infinite pool of reliance: I’d be nothing without other people. So I’m profoundly grateful for other people.

Real Food

Blessed rain came after midnight, dressing the high country in snow. It’s rained down here off and on all day, deepening snow cover in the mountains all the while.

I indulged in a decaf vanilla latté with French toast made from the heel of the last sourdough loaf, topped with yogurt, apricot jam, and pure maple syrup. I’m grateful for real food, even if some of it is sugar. But that’s not foaming milk above, that’s how I clean the milk frother after frothing milk: a small squirt of dish soap and warm water and press go. Then just shake and rinse, air dry, and it’s ready for the next time.

The maple syrup jug slipped a little as I poured it on…

I’ve waited awhile for this syrup. I usually buy a gallon at a time and it lasts me around a year, I think, though I haven’t really kept track. Neighbor Mary turned me onto this wonderful Vermont company and I’ve been buying maple syrup from them for years now. I like to wait til it’s on sale, but this summer I’d run out and they offered a ‘Generosity Bottle‘ to benefit people who suffered losses during torrential floods in the state last July. One hundred percent of profits from these bottles go to flood relief. I hope it’s enough to tide me over until their winter sale. Today was my first taste in months.

I did some work after breakfast and before I knew it it was time for lunch. I mixed the glaze from last night with a little mayo and dolloped it onto the remaining six salmon cupcakes. What a delicious, nutritious, and filling lunch!

After lunch it hailed outside briefly, before going back to rain. I worked some more, read a little, built a small fire in the woodstove, mixed some Trail Mix cookies, and started a new loaf of bread. I’m grateful to have enjoyed a cold, rainy Saturday. Next thing I knew it was time for dinner. I tossed a healthy salad and garnished it with my share of the cauliflower harvest.

When I posted the other day about the dangers of highly processed food-not-food to individual, societal, and planetary health, the irony wasn’t lost on me that my plate contained processed cheese puffs and a commercially baked bun, as well as numerous dyes on the M&Ms. It got me thinking about cleaning up my own eating habits, which are already better than many, living in this valley of abundant organic fresh produce and ethically raised animals for meat, supplemented by my own garden. I’m grateful for Real Food, which is a value I’m going to pay more attention to going forward.

Tiny, Fortunate Life

I haven’t been able to master the ‘smashed potato’ until possibly the other night. And I also haven’t been thrilled with most of the Instagram recipes I’ve tried, but this one that Amy shared a week ago actually turned out splendidly. I quartered large Yukon gold potatoes and boiled them til just fork tender, then rolled them in olive oil in a roasting pan, and smashed them with the bottom of a heavy glass. Previously I’d boiled them too long and they just mashed. I got the timing right on these so that they flattened without mushing. I roasted them for awhile til they were brown on the bottom and starting to crisp, and while they were in the oven, I (over) caramelized half a small onion I had open. Then I flipped the potatoes, layered some with the onions and sliced Havarti, and when I ran out of onions I left the remainder bare. They were delicious!

I accidentally ate all the onioned potatoes that night, but saved the rest, and reheated some of those the next night with grated parmesan and ‘bacon’ bits, and turned the rest into hash browns with a fried egg for tonight’s supper. I’m grateful to have potatoes, a kitchen to cook them in, and a small plot of peace in a crazy world.

Topaz purring on the bed last night…

It feels so dissonant to enjoy these small and gracious pleasures, the seemingly steady security of my little neighborhood, while people elsewhere are reeling from the tragedy of yet another war. How do we hold both the trauma of human aggression and the beauty of nature and life at the same time? This requires a longer, deeper practice of equanimity than I have mastered, and some profound wisdom I have only occasionally glimpsed. Suffice to say that though I cannot leave the topic of Israel’s 9.11 unmentioned, I also remain speechless.

My heart breaks for the innocent lives ended and upended in both Israel and Gaza, and for the terrified hostages; as well as for the non-human animals who are always ‘collateral damage’ in the explosive devastation of wars. My heart breaks for the planet as a whole as even more finite resources are wasted in another flagrant power struggle among humans who have more in common than different, while our species as a whole plunges willfully toward its own demise. As my heart breaks I hold even more dearly, with an almost desperate gratitude, the daily treasures of my own tiny, fortunate life.

A spider orchid blooming in morning sun in its new location…
A tiny dingo unperturbed by my yoga mat…
My friend’s gorgeous courtyard as we shared jasmine tea, beauty, and heartbreak this afternoon…
And the unexpected pleasure of picking a few apples off her trees to bring home…


The apparent total of my pickling cucumber crop… what a small jar of pickles this will make! The vine itself isn’t much longer than the border of the picture. I certainly learned something about insufficient nitrogen in the soil this summer.
Where’s Wren, tomato edition. This basket represents the essential end of tomato harvest this summer. A few green tomatoes remain on some vines, but again, the weird cold spring, even with nutritious soil in these beds, resulted in a scarce harvest.
Ah, but the fruit trees! I’ve baked and frozen and given away, and still have a decent batch of peaches to process tomorrow; perhaps the most delicious way to eat them is simply peeled and sliced in a crystal goblet…

I’m grateful for any kind of harvest, and maybe more grateful this summer for a slow and gentle harvest without any urgency to put up the fruits of the garden. Some years I’ve been grateful for a hectic and abundant harvest of tomatoes, or cucumbers, or peppers, or any combination. This year I’m grateful for a tame and easy harvest.

Enough to Eat

I’m grateful for leftovers: veggie enchilada with shredded romaine and fresh garden tomato for lunch today, the last of the cauliflower soup tonight. I’m grateful that I have enough to eat, and a roof over my head, and good friends around the valley and around the country, and everything I need to bake cupcakes tomorrow.

I’m grateful that Hurricane Idalia wasn’t quite as catastrophic as she could have been in terms of human fatalities; though she’ll result in plenty of long-term suffering for millions of Americans along her ongoing path. Supporting my plea argument yesterday, R. Hubbell wrote in Today’s Edition:

         “The effects of human-caused climate change are manifesting themselves everywhere—as should be expected given the interdependence of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land masses, and ecosystems. We can feel overwhelmed if we simply catalog the many ways in which climate change manifests itself. We cannot give in to helplessness. It is never too late to make changes that will benefit current and future generations. The most important thing we can do is to elect leaders who will prioritize the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels…. It is time for all Americans to put climate change at the top of their issues list when deciding how they will cast their vote. Remember that at the GOP debate last week, Vivek Ramaswamy declared that ‘Climate change is a hoax.’ The only hoax is politicians who refuse to address a problem that is an economic and national security emergency affecting the lives of every American.”

Robert Hubbell, Todays Edition, August 30, 2023
I’m grateful for a quiet, uneventful evening walk among the late summer light and the altocumulus sky.