I’m grateful tonight for a brief burst of sunshine this morning, and for some more much needed precipitation this evening, but mostly for a glimpse of a sunny blue sky this morning, it did wonders for the spirits in this house. I’m grateful for breakfast with Topaz, who’s become more interactive in recent weeks, even jumping up on the recliner for awhile this evening. She’s really enjoying her new comb, and I’m enjoying less hair around the house. I’m grateful for coffee in the sunroom with her, Wren in my lap, Dickens on the Kindle, art on the walls, bonsais on the table, and sun outside. I’m grateful for heat in the woodstove, wood in the shed, friends in the neighborhood, friends across the country, friends in other countries, internet in the ethers, power from the solar panels, water in the pipes… I’m grateful for more than enough.
I’ve been fascinated by the art of Bonsai since I was a child. I’m grateful that my mother brought awareness of this art, as she did many other arts, into my life. Most of my adult life I’ve kept a variety of trees and shrubs, mostly jades, in miniature, but never really learned the skills of Bonsai. The attraction has intensified in the past few years, and I’ve started several bonsais in training, including a couple of French lilacs, a pink honeysuckle, lemon geranium, culinary sage, and my pride and joy, a redwood. After hearing a friend in Australia wax eloquent about the fragrance of the jasmine hedge outside her house, I ordered a jasmine bonsai which arrived yesterday. I’ve always loved the scent of jasmine, too, and long intended to have one potted in the house. It’s not blooming at the moment, of course, and arrived dry but not desperate. It seemed like the perfect splurge.
I’m grateful to know about Bonsai, to have seen several astounding Bonsai shows and collections through the years, to have the facility and leisure to pursue this interest; grateful for the whisper of mortality to motivate me to get on with it already, and ramp up my focus on this pastime. Pastime. Pass time. Past time. No time like the present. Passing time, not killing, wasting, or spending it. Choosing to pass my time among yet more living beings, with the art of miniature trees. Why not? I’m grateful for choice, internet ordering, transport services, and other people with similar interests; grateful to live in a world where, all other things being as they are, I’m able to derive some small pleasure and satisfaction from a few little potted trees that conditions have allowed to take root in my house. I think Jasmine will be very happy here. I look forward to potting down some of the trainees this fall, and setting up a dedicated bonsai table in the sunroom for winter.
Grateful for Robert Hubbell, a wise, compassionate attorney in LA whom I’d have never known if not for Sarah Juniper forwarding me a copy of his newsletter last year. He started writing what is already a historical record of the White House’s descent into madness on the day after the 2016 election, as “a way of providing support and hope for my three daughters and close friends who were shocked and anxious…”
This evening R. Hubbell hosted a holiday zoom party for a thousand of his closest readers. What began as a small circle had widened by the time I jumped on to around 5,000 readers, and continues to grow exponentially, as other readers like me share it with friends and family who are suffering under the constant stress and trauma of the current regime’s assault on our planet and democracy.
Each year Hubbell hosts a holiday party for readers, and this year he hosted the party on Zoom. Ellie and I got our RSVPs in early enough to join the party, and were beside ourselves with excitement to meet this man who has brought so much calm and optimism to our lives during this absurdly fraught election. Each evening Hubbell thoroughly parses the day’s news, synthesizing many sources from journalistic mainstays and obscure trade journals, and we wake to a sane, reassuring recap that calms nerves and inspires action. I have no doubt that his dedicated effort to inform Americans over the past four years contributed as much as many other grassroots organizations to the hopeful outcome of this last election. Much remains to be done, as he reminds us often, and he’s committed to continuing the newsletter going forward. He now has a dedicated readership of more than 17,000.
He analyzes and critiques a wide range of government players, and shares quotes from and links to many of his resources, such as this from yesterday’s newsletter: “Why we need a Commission on Democracy, and what it could do.” He writes with a level perspective and a compelling blend of clarity, urgency, tenderness and irony, often making me laugh out loud. He also gives praise where praise is due. Here’s an excerpt from Today’s Edition (No. 1,052) “Out damned spot!”
“A reader sent a link to an article about a former member of the Department of Justice, Erica Newland. See NYTimes, “I’m Haunted by What I Did as a Lawyer in the Trump Justice Department.” Ms. Newland’s op-ed is worth reading in its entirety; the excerpt below does not do justice to her thoughtful discussion. But the following paragraph struck a chord with me: No matter our intentions, we were complicit. We collectively perpetuated an anti-democratic leader by conforming to his assault on reality…. No matter how much any one of us pushed back from within, we did so as members of a professional class of government lawyers who enabled an assault on our democracy — an assault that nearly ended it. ….Ms. Newland quit the DOJ early in Trump’s tenure. She acknowledges that some of those who remained behind resisted Trump; indeed, they revolted when Bill Barr ordered them to look for election fraud immediately after November 3, 2020. ….As we reckon the damage of Trump’s presidency, we must consider how we can ensure that the “professional class of government lawyers” have a firmer grasp of—and deeper loyalty to—the rule of law. Law schools, bar associations, and professional organizations must play a role. If lawyers who enabled Trump leave government and are welcomed with open arms by law schools, bar associations, and professional organizations, we will have learned nothing. I applaud Ms. Newland for having the self-awareness to recognize her complicated legacy in the Trump administration. Others should be held to the same standard of accountability to which Ms. Newland holds herself.”
So Robert Hubbell’s Today’s Edition is where I begin gratitude practice today, followed by Neighbor Mary’s holiday tradition of sharing Potica, a nut-roll cake that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.