In 2014 (two years ago today) I posted this.  (Obviously I was still in my e.e. cummings mode.)  We’ve come a long way, but there’s still room to move forward.  We hope 2017 will be, if nothing else, a safe, secure, peaceful year for all of us.
“i try to avoid long posts, but i just wanted to put this out there.
today is my friend E’s final day of work. long story short, due to transphobia and intolerance in her family (DIL is a so-called teacher in the school system where she works, and made up false accusations against E.), she was forced to resign from a job she liked and had hoped to retire from later on.
there is very little diversity or tolerance here in ohio. being trans is something you’re born with, not something you choose or wish on anyone, but many people refuse to become informed or to educate others. young trans kids are starting to enter this system, and won’t have much prospect of being understood or accepted. E. loves kids (she was denied access to her gkids for the same reason, being trans, which broke her heart), and could have been a good mentor and role model for lgbt kids entering the system. instead, people got all hysterical and rabble-roused a witch hunt.
this is a hard day for E. she also had many friends and colleagues who respected her, and had hopes for recovering financially from the damage done by a dysfunctional ex. now she has to struggle to start over again. we help and support each other, but sometimes she gets very discouraged. she endured poverty and abuse all her life, but worked very hard to support a family that rejected her, and this was like a final blow.
in some ways the timing works out even better than we could have planned for moving on to a new life. we will be fine, and look forward to it. but today is still a sad reminder of the ties she was forced out of and must leave behind. she sometimes feels abandoned by everyone and everything. fortunately for her and me, she didn’t commit suicide before i came along, as so many do. if you’ve ever felt like that, and i know some of you have, please think of E. today, and send out a kind thought. thanks. she didn’t know i was going to post this, and hope she forgives me!”

Happy New Year.

‘Shine P.3

Day 3 can be summed up by booty, loot, plunder, haul, spoils, and swag.  Also did I mention ‘shine?  And homemade latkes by Stacey!  A berry pavlova by Lily.  A day for half naked kids playing out on the deck with bubbles and rainwater, which ended up a big waterfall over the side.  I took a stroll in the springlike woods out back (see previous photos).  We were hanging out on the gazebo swings, talking, watching the sunset.  In December.  I can live with this.



Mountain ‘Shine P.1

I was introduced to some real moonshine while hanging out with my TN family.  And lots of other refreshments.  A festive time was had.  The following are some random shots I captured during our four days in the mountains.  I’ll publish this in several posts.  Here is day one.

Just after dawn we entered TN, always a pleasant moment.  We stopped at our favorite country restaurant to get a real Southern breakfast.  Then on to Maryville, Southland Books to meet old and new friends, and our HQ, the Luxbury, with the cool crystal chandelier.  We were exhausted, having not slept for days, it seemed.

Finally, we made our way up the mountain to see all the kids, grandkids, critters, and confections being made.  It was a relief to reunite with my son and family, and meet the newest additions to our extended family.  Here is a random sampling.  That was Day 1.  More to come, stay tuned.

Winter Greenery in the Smokies

For my first post about our wonderful reunion in the mountains of TN, here are some shots I took while strolling through the woods behind my son’s house.  It was a warm springlike day in December, and there were many shades and textures of life in the misty woods.  There were deep emerald mosses, ornate gray-green lichens, and graceful tree sculptures.  It was a breath of fresh air after the stagnant atmosphere of Ohio.

Two Steps Back

We got back from a very encouraging, positive reunion with my family in TN, feeling like there is still hope in the world, and what do I find waiting for me but a letter from Social Security informing me that I’ll be even poorer in 2017.  Instead of the $801 a month I’ll get (finally raised a whopping 2 cents from $799 for “cost of living”), I’ll be getting $667 a month after they deduct Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums.  Those don’t even cover a Part D drug plan, which my Medicaid won’t cover.  They don’t explain how a person already living on less than the cost of rent alone is supposed to afford to survive on even less.  My anxiety level was not helped by this.

I feel like it’s pointless to have any hope or optimism, because the system will see to it that it’s snuffed out.  It’s not like I sat around all my life and then collected welfare.  I worked as long and hard as I could, paid my taxes into SS/Medicare, took the hit during the crash and recession like everyone else, and now I can’t count on even enough to live on.  And I’m one of the fortunate ones.  I found a friend I could share meager incomes with just to keep a roof over our heads.

So of course I had to have one of my typical holocaust nightmares (no thanks to my Jewish heritage).  They were rounding up all the children in trucks and killing them, then the grownups.  I was on the latter list, and there was no way to escape.  On the way to my death, I happened to see my son, and told him I was going to be killed.  He just sort of shrugged (he wasn’t on the death list yet).  That’s how my night went.  I feel so discouraged.

We went over to the local SS office (no, not that SS, but it feels like it) today to see what’s up, but it was so crowded, we had to leave and try again tomorrow.  I doubt I’ll get any reassurance.  They’ll just assure me that I am indeed screwed.  If I try to inquire at the local state office whether I qualify for any help, they just snarl at me, like I’m just another welfare case.  This is the country Repugs want to make even more awful.

Sorry, I meant for this to be a very upbeat TN report, which I promise the next one will be, complete with photos of our wonderful visit with my family in the mountains.  I just needed to get this out.  Here are the Skullies to wish you a happy Chanukah.



Anxiety is nothing new to me, but this election has added an extra layer of fear and anger to the mix.  Now I lie awake at night being angry we live in a country where a few hundred electoral votes can trump (you should excuse the expression) millions of popular votes, and terrified that we will lose our ability to survive.  Scary psycho-clowns are for Stephen King novels, not real life.  Nightmares aren’t supposed to last 24/7, unless you’re in a concentration camp awaiting death, which is now not such a remote possibility, at least to me in my current state.  A privatized dictatorship run by greedy, corrupt white supremacists isn’t a democracy, it’s a Randian dystopia, where average people like us are just pawns for profit.

Much as some people like to complain about Pres. Obama, we’ve been spoiled by the last eight years, believing we were at least making progress.  Some folks are going to have a rude awakening.  It used to be, you could wake up after a disappointing election and just grit your teeth and hunker down for four (hopefully not eight) years and try again next time.  This is something different.  It’s a worst-case scenario about to get worse, if that were possible.  The best that could happen is they sabotage themselves with their own incompetence, and reasonable leaders use the few strategies left to obstruct them.  It’s a pretty sad commentary on how low our democracy has sunk while we weren’t looking.

Now I wake up to a frightening reality wherein I and others in my circumstances could lose even the minimal income and healthcare we get.  My current SSA income, finally given a whopping two cents cost of living adjustment after years of no change, is not even enough to pay an average low-income rent, let alone other expenses.  My few (for now) healthcare needs have been thankfully paid by Medicaid due to poverty, until next year when Medicare kicks in.  Medicare costs normally get deducted from your SS income.  Medicare is limited in what it will cover, so you need supplemental insurance that you pay for out-of-pocket.  In my case, I’m desperately hoping I’ll qualify for extra help, because there’s no way I could afford any of the above.  Now even that chance could be eliminated.

People who think safety nets are some big free handout are seriously deluded.  We pay separate taxes for them all our working lives, then we pay more when we’re retired on a low fixed income.  In a delusional privatized Trump world, we could lose even the little financial security and healthcare we have now.  And that’s just average people like me.  My friend E., in a more marginalized, vulnerable group, stands to lose much more.  We’re fortunate to have each other for combined financial survival, but that security is threatened in a phobic Trump reality.  Her dreams have been full of dark premonitions, which is unusual for her, even with her enhanced instinct for danger.

So it’s hard to sleep, and it’s harder to wake up to a world like that.  It won’t just fade out like a nightmare.  I really hope I’m wrong, and the coming years are bearable for all of us.  If nothing else, it’s a wake-up call to seriously change our perceptions and behaviors toward each other.  Our divisions are what screwed us and allowed a charlatan to manipulate our naiveté to his own ends.  We can’t all just resign ourselves to a lesser existence and let him win.  But what can we do, while also trying to stay safe and survive?

Please just continue to humor me while I get this out of my system.  I don’t mean to add to everyone’s already high level of anxiety.  It’s a trying time of year as it is, without apocalyptic dread.  We’ve all survived many threats and challenges, and smart resourcefulness will usually win out in the end.  We each just need to be a little more mindful of each other than normal, while we try to get through these next few years, and maybe go the extra step to be inclusive and helpful.  Bureaucratic systems can seem impregnable, but where there are sane, intelligent people who find small ways to chip away at its walls, there has to be hope.  I can’t believe we’d all just cave and give up on the planet and damn our children in the process.  Even lesser species don’t act like that.

So I’ll continue to wake up each morning, vent some frustration, and appreciate the little things we still have.  I’m not sure I can go as far as Anne Frank, with her childlike faith in the human race, because my confidence has worn thin.  But millions have lived and continue to live under far more terrible conditions, and keep their spirits and hopes up, so I should be able to come around.  I don’t just live for myself, after all.  I have to be strong, or at least stubborn, for those who have even more to lose.

As always, any input is welcome.


Reality Overload

It turns out I’m of the school of the obligatory daily dose of world news in order to be a good civic-minded citizen who stays informed and thus somehow makes the world a better, more reasonable place.  And it seems there is another school of thought that says this is mostly pointless, that it will only make me more crazy and scared, though perhaps with a slightly eased conscience, and not do a thing for changing minds or fixing the world.  I hate to admit I think I’m starting to appreciate the latter POV.

I’ve done my bit to filter out the worst of the hysteria “news” in favor of more factual “intelligence”  briefs.  For a month or so I’ve dutifully, if uneasily, sorted through my daily dosage of more and more unbelievable crap about our so-called PEOTUS and cronies, and the predicted longterm  damage it will do to, like, everything.  Every day the news gets more insane and horrible, and my state of mind goes deeper into fear and despair.  The rabble who elected this nutcase are becoming even more brazen and full of themselves, while the newly appointed partners in crime gloat and plan their evil agendas.  It’s unclear whether the checks and balances we used to depend on will even be in place.  All the getting informed in the world isn’t going to slow this avalanche of stupidity. It turns out the momentum has been building for a while.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s getting to be too much for my puny brain.  It’s a reality overload, and I know I’m not the only one suffering from it.  The divisions in this country have gotten so extreme, no amount of reason or debate is going to bring us back together.  The more we protest this affront to democracy and civil rights, the farther it seems to divide us.  But we can’t remain passive and acquiescent either.  If we surrender ground, the adversary wins, and all of us lose.

Personally, I don’t know what to do.  I feel helpless.  We and fellow at-risk individuals stand to lose even more critical services, rights, and protections that we depend on.  We just want to go hide somewhere in obscurity and relative security, and try to weather this.  On bad days, I hope to not live to see the devastation of our country and planet, but then I think of my kids and grandkids who are inheriting this disaster.  We think of other vulnerable friends and communities who will suffer.  Apathy, fear, and passivity got us to this crisis, and will only enable it to devolve.

So I may take a brief hiatus from world news, or I may give in to my self-destructive addiction!  It’s like a sick fascination.  My generation was indoctrinated with the imperative to stay informed and never let history (i.e. the Holocaust) repeat itself, so it’s a hard habit to kick, and I can think of worse ones.  Not that knowing of atrocities will stop pigheaded tyrants from perpetrating them.  All it may afford us is some warning to head for the hills faster and avoid the mudslides.  Maybe grab some loved ones and fellow survivors on the way out.  Keep us mindful of being examples of reason and compassion to anyone who is open to it.

Any thoughts are welcome.


Frigid, the Sequel to Frozen

This morning, the ice on the inside of what passes for windows was so thick and solid, instead of opening the blinds to get solar heating help, I just left them closed to maintain the extra ice layer of insulation.  Also, the crystal patterns were exquisite (see attempts at photo captures).  One learns to be resourceful and appreciative of the little things.

The outside temp right now is all of 8°!  “Feels like negative 7°”!?  The low was like 5.  Meanwhile, in our future TN home, it’s like 32°, a mere freezing.  When we’re there in a week, it will be more like high 40s or even 50.  Yes, I keep track of things like that.  I think moving south is a very good idea, on a day like this.  We’ll see how summer feels.

So I’m a weather/climate freak.  One gets that way, working outside in all conditions for decades.  Now, I’m quite content to be retired, thank you, even without the income.  Being an oldster will do that to you.  Having a roof over one’s head can not be overrated.  Having climate change deniers in office who want to take our very roofs and planet away from us, on the other hand, is very troubling, but I won’t go there.

After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I am an utter coward.  I have no courage at all.  I could be the lion in Oz.  If push comes to shove in this country, and it’s another Nazi holocaust or apocalypse, I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one heading for the hills in abject terror.  I just hope I’ll have the integrity and bravery to save a few other stragglers along the way.  Or maybe I’ll surprise myself.  I hope I never have to find out.

(Winter does this to my head.  I get very insecure.  I think of all the homeless people freezing to death, and how I could easily be one of them.  Really not a big fan of winter.  Blah.)

Anyway, here are some pretty ice formations.  I’m very fortunate to be on the warmer side of them.