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Archive for October, 2020

We are all holding our breath. Five days.

But really, it will most likely take longer to count ALL the ballots. I wish the UN would send some election poll watchers to us, because all those wannabe home-grown terrorist groups do not need to show up in my city. Maybe just a bus parked outside a polling place, filled with our National Guard, like they did at the Women’s March?

Why do Americans have to deal with voter intimidation and voter suppression? The Supreme Court will allow absentee ballots to be counted after the election in two battleground states – Pennsylvania and North Carolina, but not Wisconsin. What the hell? So if your absentee ballot was mailed in time, but arrived after election day, it doesn’t count?

In Canada people don’t even have to “register” to vote! They show up and vote, with ID presumably. My sister Kay has a friend, a naturalized citizen from South Africa, who stood in line to vote early in NYC for almost two hours. She is a cancer survivor and not young. I mean we can click a button on Amazon and get same day delivery, but we have to jump through hoops to perform our basic constitutional right!

“That echoed a concurring opinion issued on Monday by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in a voting case from Wisconsin. Justice Kavanaugh also said that state legislatures, rather than state courts, have the last word in setting state election procedures. Writing on Wednesday, Justice Alito said he regretted that the election would be “’conducted under a cloud.’” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/28/us/supreme-court-pennsylvania-north-carolina-absentee-ballots.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Once upon a time I said “states rights” is a synonym for racism. Just like the electoral college, it exists under the shadow of slavery.

I’m taking a deep breath this morning and counting my blessings. My brother Dr Jim is doing well and is being discharged from the hospital today. The L’il Pumpkin is turning six and about to have a pandemic/socially/distant/halloween/ninja Birthday Party.

And I had a little fun taking this quiz – can you tell a Biden from a Trump supporter by peeking inside their fridge? I know, it may seem prejudicial but Bob says it’s like the Prius and the Pick-up, which is from a book he read. It’s the Noosa yogurt and the sourdough starter that’s a dead giveaway! https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/27/upshot/biden-trump-poll-quiz.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

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Halloween is on the way. Last year we went over to the kids’ house to see the Grands as they left for Trick or Treating. We stayed behind with the hounds to give out candy because our place is a forlorn block of 20 somethings partying. Like other pandemic holidays, All Saints Day this year will look a bit different. And our children are bound to be slightly broken hearted at the thought of a Zoom haunted house.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway from “A Farewell to Arms.”

At least the Love Bug had her cast removed on Friday. She broke a finger while riding her new bike and avoiding a parked car. I must say she was very proud of her injury; all her classmates got to sign her cast and I even managed my John Hancock – NANA. Maybe she could plant the name-covered cast in her front yard with fake fingers reaching out of the grave grass?

Why is it that kids can just return to normal life, or semi-normal life in this case, after a cast comes off? Start playing and writing and acting as if nothing happened. A few years ago, when I broke my pinky finger carrying the Baby Bug at a bounce house, I had to endure several weeks of Occupational Therapy. Still, my right pinky is shorter than my left, and should I ever resume traveling, my Global Entry fingerprint no longer works, if you must know…

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in,” a mashup of Rumi, Leonard Cohen and Hemingway.

Some breaks are easier to see than others. We broke the rules about visiting Great Grandma Ada and Hudson. Children were not allowed to visit outside (or inside for that matter), but some rules are meant to be broken. Ada was thrilled to see her babies and almost got to sign the Bug’s cast, before we were found out.

My brother Dr Jim fell last week and broke 5 ribs. FIVE ribs, and he’s been hospitalized ever since. Luckily, his friends have been wonderful and the nurses in MN are exceptional and can appreciate his unique sense of humor. He is healing nicely and we intend to visit him soon. While he may be in a hospital gown that ties at the back, Jim is still a working psychologist, trying to fix broken souls, wherever he may find them.

Here is a scary picture for Halloween. Bob and I were on a houseboat in the Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Our friend said to do something interesting. But don’t worry, only the Brie was cut and no marriage was broken on this trip two years ago. https://mountainmornings.net/2018/09/06/a-kiss-de-paris/

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Being a practitioner of brutal honesty is always difficult.

Take yesterday’s tale of the parsnip cranberry cake; I was worried because even though I’d dug up two pounds of parsnips, there wasn’t one cranberry to be found. Not fresh nor frozen. So I grabbed a bag of frozen acai berries – that was the first mistake because there were no berries, it was just juice for a smoothie.

I swirled the juice over the top of the cake batter and popped them in the oven hoping the acai would add the needed tart moisture. As I was assembling the three layers with yummy cream cheese icing, but without cranberries or cranberry sauce, Bob said, “It’s lopsided!”

Now granted, he was right. It was like the Tower of Pisa! So I pushed and I turned and for just one moment I thought I’d fixed it. But no, I’d baked a crooked cake. There was no denying it, the truth didn’t exactly set me free but it did leave me with hope. Maybe it would taste good?

My friend and neighbor who is known to deliver peaches dropped off an extra copy of Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. The cover story is timely, “Free Speech Will Save Our Democracy; the First Amendment in the age of disinformation,” by Emily Bazelon.

It’s an article of faith in the United States that more speech is better and that the government should regulate it as little as possible. But increasingly, scholars of constitutional law, as well as social scientists, are beginning to question the way we have come to think about the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. They think our formulations are simplistic — and especially inadequate for our era. Censorship of external critics by the government remains a serious threat under authoritarian regimes. But in the United States and other democracies, there is a different kind of threat, which may be doing more damage to the discourse about politics, news and science. It encompasses the mass distortion of truth and overwhelming waves of speech from extremists that smear and distract.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/magazine/free-speech.html

Finally social media has started to add caveats to false and misleading claims but much of the damage has already been done. Just this morning Mr T said he hasn’t had a call with a reporter for the NYTimes in two years – when in fact just two months ago he spoke with Peter Baker for 40 minutes! Does he have dementia or is this a malicious strategy to create a fog of lies so that we the people never know what to believe?

Sure in China information is censored, but will our democracy survive the chaos of chronic disinformation? We have 15 days to vote.

Last night, I delivered my listing/tilting parsnip acai cake to the Bride and Groom’s front porch. I admitted my failure and was told the icing was delicious! And as we talked about the L’il Pumpkin’s upcoming birthday, I told him that lying to your parents will get him in more trouble than telling the truth, every time! And he said, “Mom has truth-telling eyes.” And I believed him!

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I was just opining about our lack of delectable take-out lately. It’s too salty, too puny, and just plain unappetizing. Why would such fancy, local restaurants develop a whole different menu for curbside pick-up with very little choice? And in between raindrops on our neighbor’s patio, with everyone in agreement about our plight, I forgot to tell them about my search for parsnips.

The other day I ventured out to The Turnip Truck specifically to buy parsnips. A few days before that, the produce manager at Whole Foods told me they haven’t had a shipment of parsnips in weeks. There I was standing in an empty grocery store known for its fresh vegetables, only to be told the same thing. Nada. NO. Not happening. Carrots yes, but. If a corporation like Amazon via Whole Foods and our small Turnip Truck grocery store can’t find parsnips…

…what chance do I have of ever baking Dorrie Greenspan’s glorious, three layer Parsnip Cake with cranberries? https://foodschmooze.org/recipe/dorie-greenspans-triple-layer-parsnip-and-cranberry-cake/

I should have known this would be difficult when I had trouble finding the key spice – coriander. It’s like toilet paper, the shelves were empty. But Bob was with me on the first day of the hunt, and he finally found a small 0.4 oz jar hiding out on a bottom shelf of Frontier Co-Op ground coriander. After all, he knew this was a competition.

Just because he is now baking sourdough bagels didn’t mean he could take over the cake and muffin arena in our kitchen!

I’ve baked zucchini and banana-chocolate-chip bread, bran muffins and mini-bundt cinnamon muffins and carrot cake during this pandemic. I’ve ordered new cake pans from Amazon and resisted ordering a huge KitchenAid mixer in turquoise because I take pride in using my 1960’s hand mixer in avocado green. However, the pasta making and sourdough bread baking shall remain unchartered territory for me. Boundaries people!

When the Bride first started cooking as a teen, she earned the crown of the Stir Fry Queen; and she still holds the title. I would never step on her shoes. But ever since I learned about using asparagus stems for soup, I feel like a Soup Queen. Venturing into new soup recipes with my trusty stick emulsifier, aka an immersion blender, the sky’s the limit. It’s like a huge KitchenAid blender becomes a tiny pepper mill in your hand!

Today, the plan is to make potato soup since Bob has dug up a bunch of purple sweet potatoes.

Parsnips would usually find their way into my soups, especially when the weather turns cold. What hardy vegetable soup doesn’t deserve a few good parsnips. I’ll continue my search for the dull, but mighty root vegetable at the Farmer’s Market, because I’ve made my triple layer carrot cake with toasted coconut icing for over 40 years and it’s time for a change.

And nothing says celebration like a cake!

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If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re doomed to a life of unending mediocrity. I learned this early, from my big brothers and Catholic School. On my Zoom call yesterday, I was recounting my instructions to Bob that he should shoot me if I’m ever really sick with Covid – like, will never recover sick. I immediately felt bad because that would mean he’d have to buy a gun, something we just would never do. We are so anti-gun it’s almost funny. But then Bob said:

“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t use a gun!” and the whole Zoom call burst out hysterically laughing.

Let’s face it, we could all use a good laugh right about now, and gallows humor seems appropriate. I’m lucky my pandemic partner can turn sourdough starter into bagels and still tickle my funny bone. But Mr T is sitting in the Oval, or maybe he’s at some Covid-super-spreader-rally somewhere, precisely because he has NO sense of humor. Because President Obama and Seth Meyer told a few jokes about him at that 2011 Correspondent’s Dinner, and he didn’t get it.

He can’t laugh at himself, and strangely enough his followers think that only they are IN on the joke of his presidency. Look at how strong T is, how he beat Covid, the Stock Market and all those conservative Judges! In this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, I discovered that Mr T may actually have a twisted sense of humor, and it has a name, Ambiguous Irony!

Ambiguous irony also lets the president hedge his bets. Trump is constantly saying things he doesn’t mean (Jim Acosta is “a real beauty”), or things he kind of means but goes on to retract (his authority is “total”), or things he didn’t mean at first but later does (“build the wall”), or things nobody thought he meant that he apparently did (“lock her up”), as well as things he seemingly did mean before he retroactively declared them sarcasm — like his televised claim that injecting bleach might stop the coronavirus. Ambiguous irony opens up space for Trump to revise the meaning of his statements later, when he knows how they have played.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/magazine/trump-liberal-comedy-tv.html

 He is the ultimate reality show star, constantly checking his ratings, his polls, his numbers; it’s more of a tactic than ironic. By this definition, Kellyanne Conway was right, in Trumpworld there are alternative facts! It’s pretty tough to make political punditry when the butt of your joke is a shape-shifter. Here is his attempt at self-effacing humor:

“What’s the difference between a wet raccoon and Donald J. Trump’s hair? A wet raccoon doesn’t have seven billion f—ing dollars in the bank.”

This morning, while members of the Senate Judiciary Committee take a few minutes to spew their ideology at the confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, while she sits silently, masked in a tight fuchsia dress and pearls, I think that we, the American people are being hoodwinked. The hearing is a total sham because it takes 51 votes to confirm, and Republicans hold 53 seats.

Maybe Mitch thinks Democrats can’t count? I can’t look at Lindsay without throwing up a little in my mouth. This is why the world is laughing at us.

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Every morning I wake up and think, this is it. Today it WILL happen, if not today when? Then I get up and boom…

Pushed to the back of my ever-shortened To-Do list, my closet remains a mess. I thought I could start with the pants, all those pants that I never wear, that I can barely reach, that probably no longer fit, remain hanging silently, judging me.

Today Ms Bean woke me at 5am. I thought maybe we had an emergency, but no, she just missed me. So we let Bob sleep and turned on the news, because any day now our communal nightmare must end. Is VP Pence returning to DC because he’s sick? Or is Nancy going to appoint him President?

Poor Pence. While 28 states are seeing coronavirus spikes this week, all anyone could talk about was the fly to the left on his snowy white head. Of course it was actually on the right, or was it…? The passive aggressive mansplaining had gone on long enough, I gave up watching the debate. But Bob lingered; he saw that notorious fly stick its 10 point landing.

Memes aside, my takeaway was Momala Kamala’s quip, “I’m speaking,” said with a tinge of contempt mixed with pity. That ‘little boy lost look’ was no match for our Democratic challenger. The choice was clear. Yesterday’s grandpa who attracts flies and calls his wife “Mother,” vs today’s woman – a DA who can rock a pair of Converse sneakers?

We discussed all this with Great Grandma Ada and Great Grandpa Hudson yesterday sitting under a canopy in their parking lot. It sure beats the vestibule! This was our first real visit in seven months and the weather cooperated. She told me that when she laughs, it’s a heartier laugh – a belly laugh! She said she’s starting to practice T’ai Chi and going back to being a blonde since their beauty salon has reopened.

They heard a rumor at lunch about a kidnapping plot, and needed all the details. The white supremacist militia terrorist plot to kidnap the Michigan Gov was real breaking news, still unfolding. And all I could think about was the commentator explaining FBI lingo – they called the operation, the arrests and indictments “Left of Boom.” In other words:

“Boom” = the EVENT, the bombing and the kidnapping or possible execution of Gretchen Whitmer; and

“Left Of” is that exquisite moment before the Boom happens, when you’ve gathered enough evidence for an arrest. Two very brave informants wore wires and knew that all the training and planning was just about to come to fruition.

I hope these gun-toting, anti-government, anti-women, anti-semitic, racist extremists get locked up for life. Because we don’t need to fend off any attacks from other countries, we’re doing a fine job of self-implosion as it is. Don’t forget, disrupting the government was Steve Bannon’s idea.

The same guy who was arrested for defrauding donors of millions to build Mr T’s wall. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/bannon-build-the-wall-indictment/index.html

We’ll be Left of Boom for another 25 days metaphorically speaking. Make sure you have a plan to VOTE! https://www.showuptovote.com/

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Driving around Walter Reed hospital just to wave to his supporters last night was an act of insanity.

Melania refused to visit Mr T because she too is positive for Covid-19, and she didn’t want to put her Secret Service at risk, but her husband could care less. If we are to believe that his oxygen levels dropped precipitously this weekend – and not knowing what to believe is a big part of the problem – and that he is now taking Dexamethasone a powerful steroid, then he should hand VP Pence the keys to the football/briefcase immediately.

But he won’t. You know he won’t.

Some of the side effects of steroids are well known; insomnia, mood swings, confusion, delirium or even paranoia. Take them long enough and they will erode your hip joints. Doctors do not treat their patients with steroids blithely. When I was finally diagnosed with West Nile, I was putting steroid drops in my eyes every 2 hours and taking oral pills too. I was also moving the Rocker into his freshman college dorm. It was all a very painful blur.

My point being that a president who just Tweeted 20 times in all caps in just one hour is losing it. Last night’s lap around the hospital is proof – can NO ONE say NO to this president?

Jumping through so many hoops to enact the 25th Amendment will not happen with the current Trumpian GOP, but isn’t there a doctor or two in Walter Reed who might get him involuntarily committed? He is definitely a danger to himself and others, and has been for a very long time. But even his doctors are crafting their words carefully, “We’re tracking that,” when asked if he has pneumonia.

Mr T knew that Hope Hicks tested positive, and still he mingled with over 200 donors in NJ. Reckless.

He pushed through his SCOTUS pick at a super spreader, largely unmasked Rose Garden event. Careless.

He ridiculed Joe Biden for wearing a mask, and ordered his family to take them off at his debate. Ruthless.

And now he’s demanding to go back to the White House. Maybe this is what the master manipulator wanted all along because the media is no longer talking about: Trump’s taxes; or Melania’s tapes that reveal she was too busy decorating for Christmas to care about separated families; or Don Jr’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who paid $4 Million to an employee she was sexually harassing at Fox; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/03/new-details-kimberly-guilfoyles-time-fox-news-are-horrific/

And what’s on the front page of the FOX disinformation website? “Trump is ready to get back to work!”

But are we ready?

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On a personal level, I celebrated my birthday this week by depositing our signed and sealed ballots, along with Great Grandma Ada and Hudson’s, into the historic Broadway USPS. We saw the Postmaster stamp them and Bob’s been tracking them online ever since. Now we can only hope our votes are counted!

And speaking of Hope, news broke that Hope Hicks tested positive last night for the coronavirus right before we went to bed. It gives me no sense of pleasure to hear that anyone of any political tilt has contracted this virus. I know what the Groom went through, and it wasn’t fun. I slept quite peacefully for a change last night, eight full hours, only to wake up and hear that Mr T and Melania have tested positive for Covid-19.

Or at least that’s what the president Tweeted.

There are so many questions, and the morning pundits are all abuzz – who else was exposed during debate prep for one. How could I forget that debate with Joe Biden? The way T threw shade on Hunter Biden’s past cocaine addiction. How T told the Proud Boys to stand by? I actually spent about 15 minutes watching it in disgust, and then went to bed with a good book, “Transcendent Kingdom,” by Yaa Gyasi.

My political life has turned a corner. It was either transcend this pandemic season of presidential denial or succumb. Maybe it was confessing my sins to a fountain, or maybe I just got a bit older. Hearing the news of Mr T’s taxes barely registered; I’ve become habituated to the daily onslaught of bad news. Sure, we’d all like to know who owns his marker for millions of dollars, what country?

But deep inside, I know that his cult will never betray him.

I truly wish Mr T well. We should not have lost 208,000 people to this disease – one in every 1,000 African Americans has died from it. How did we come to politicize wearing masks, why have Americans become immune to this tragedy? Writing in The Atlantic, Olga Khazan explains our collective exhaustion:

… there’s an additional explanation for this empathy deficit: Part of the reason this majority-white, majority-non-elderly country has been so blasé about COVID-19 deaths is that mostly Black people and old people are dying. Eight out of 10 American COVID-19 deaths have been among people older than 65; the rest of the dead are disproportionately Black. White people’s brains psychologically sort minorities as “out-groups” that stir less empathy. Segregated neighborhoods have also helped insulate white Americans from the horror Black Americans face, because the ambulance sirens and the packed hospital wards are typically far from their own zip codes. “

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/covid-death-toll-us-empathy-elderly/616379/

It’s our history of covert racism that set us up for this divisive Trump era. Still, just because the Groom’s ICU was filled with Spanish speaking workers from a Tyson packing plant, the virus didn’t discriminate. My Son-in-Law and his colleagues were lucky to have moderate cases. Yesterday, Bob and I got our “elderly” flu shot at Walgreens. One less thing to worry about.

The high point of my week was a stroll through the Nashville Zoo with the Bride and our Pumpkin and Bug! The summer days of sweltering heat are gone and my kind of sweater weather has returned, all the animals agreed. An adorable eight month old Joey kept scampering about the kangaroo enclosure and then would crawl in and out of his mama’s pouch., unsure about the world.

I know how you feel little guy.

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