Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Rant with Good Reason




In the midst of so much worry about children being taken from their parents at the Southern Border, yesterday I listened to Donald Trump describe their trek through Mexico to reach the United States. "They're strolling like it's Central Park," he said, "they're criminals infecting our country." 

This is so far from the truth I'm constantly stunned by how and why so many Americans believe him. There is  concrete evidence that almost all the families and children walking for days and weeks to apply for asylum are anything but criminals. These are folks who have left their countries because their choices ran out, and not just from poverty, but because of threats and episodes of lawlessness, murder, rape, people suddenly "disappearing."  

This is the reality but Donald Trump pounds out the message that immigrants are 'infecting' America and must be banished, that it's 'us' or 'them.' As a country, Trump's government has no interest in promoting or protecting human rights. To be living through this is unreal, disheartening, frightening, and thank god for this too--energizing.

Yesterday on Facebook a woman from my high school and a Trump supporter blamed the parents for exposing their children to roundup and lockdown by the United States Government. Several other high school classmates agreed with her that everyone has a right to their opinion and Trump is doing his best. I disagreed. 

Do we have the right to offer and support an opinion that contradicts facts and debases morality? Is it okay to say that slavery was justified and white supremacy is justified? How about Hitler--should we respect the opinion of anyone who says the Holocaust never happened? Should we justify small children being ripped from their parents and warehoused throughout the US because the US President  didn't plan for that or doesn't care that these kids will carry this trauma for the rest of their lives?  

And yet here we are. I'm well aware that this post is not fun to read and may not be read at all, same with my recent Facebook posts. But isn't that a problem? Are we numb? How can it be that more than 40% of Americans and 90% of Republicans support the lies and racism and inhumanity of Donald Trump? These are folks I went to school with, who had the same safe childhoods I did, whose parents were likely Democrats, as mine were. These are decent and intelligent people, except they've put their faith in a Fascist. These folks are furious Trump is being compared to Hitler and they believe nothing the special counsel is uncovering. These are folks who don't mind that Donald Trump is systematically dismantling our democracy and our diversity.

This is probably the lowest point in American History, certainly in my lifetime. Was the Civil War like this?

How is it that Trump supporters can be so misguided, so uncaring to the plight of others, so believing of a man who lies all the time? Do they care that their schools and children aren't safe, their communities are feeling the disastrous effects of climate change, their health coverage is in trouble, their allies in Canada and Mexico and Europe have been abandoned, and what we're told about Russia and North Korea are lies?

Questions. 

They hurt.

love
kj




Saturday, June 16, 2018

Children at the Border

I won’t bother to include links that show and tell in detail what Donald Trump and the United States Government is doing to the toddlers and children who have arrived at the U.S. border seeking asylum, which by the way is not a criminal act.

I will simply say my disgust level could hardly get much higher. Donald Trump is an amoral man who uses immigrants and children to bargain for his border wall and insistence that the family members of American immigrants and the refugees seeking safety have no place in his vision of white America. He’s counting on the fact that moral people will have to cave in order to stop atrocities he condones.

May karma and the universe right this and bless my country.

Love

  • kj




Saturday, June 02, 2018

Peas on Earth

Peas on Earth by Emily Rabbit some time ago


In my lifetime I have never seen racism in the United States so blatant as it now presents itself. The U.S. President is racist by every standard and he incites his followers--his base--to apologetically push aside and condemn decent people who are non-white. In the early 1970's when I lived in Germany I asked my German friends how their parents and grandparents could have allowed Hilter to systematically persecute and murder Jewish citizens and families. The answer was "they were too afraid to speak out."

Being "too afraid" is not what I am witnessing now. I'm not even sure what to call it: white supremacy, resentment, fear? Perhaps, but at its core there is a heartlessness that refuses to accept that helping people in need is a core value of being a good human being. And because the actions of my government on immigration are especially so disturbing, I find myself asking over and over:

With all our advancements in technology and science, why have human beings not evolved in compassion and cooperation? 

Why do we still fight each other? Why are we at a point where even a family seeking refuge from harm or poverty is viewed as a threat, unworthy of help? Why is male aggression still so dominant? Mothers--women--bring up these little boys who become arrogant men and use power uncharitably: why has feminine influence and evolution not brought sensitivity and kindness into the fabric of our DNA?  (I know this is not all men. But masculine dominance is always found at the core of our world conflicts.)

There is plenty of discussion about what will happen to America once Donald Trump the man and president is gone. That day will come but I don't know what then. I'm truly shocked that almost 40% of my fellow Americans are willing to look the other way while racist treatment of non-white people is clear as ice. The economy, the stock market, jobs--yes, of course we support growth and opportunity. But is that really what's happening? Because what I see is an American Super Bully closing out anyone who dares to pursue inclusion and commonality.

Donald Trump won't stand. But I have to wonder what comes next. Not just in my country, but in our world. Will we ever have true peace on earth? And Jesus, I ask, why the fuck not?

Love
kj

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Thursday 13 on Saturday: Gratitude



Back in the day, I used to post a "Thursday 13" every week, sometimes events, sometimes feelings, sometimes images, sometimes all of that. 

I'm reviving the tradition, even though it's Sunday. This Thursday 13 is about Gratitude:

1. It's a chilly 50 degree grey day today and I've turned on the new propane stove in the living room to blanket the chill. The gas fire glows. I like that so much.

2. JB and I planted tomatoes this morning. We put a 3 x 6 raised garden bed in our small front yard, filled it with organic soil, and were so excited as with a spoon we planted 6 tomato plants (3 varieties), 6 basil plants, 12 marigolds, and 2 zucchinis. This is a tiny garden for sure, but it's still a thrill.

3. I'm so glad that Prince Harry is in love with someone who loves him back. He strikes me as such a decent and nice man--I sense his Mother's influence on the little boy he was when she died.

4. My back: well, I'm still not standing without pain for more than 3 minutes at a time but I'm improved. I'm more active and I'm more social. 

5. I've started physical therapy and was assigned a therapist named Patience. I knew nothing else about her, but I almost asked for someone else solely because her name seemed weird to me. I admit how shallow this is. Turns out Patience is excellent --above and beyond. No promises, but I think I may be able to strengthen my back to a significant degree. 

6. This time of year here in Provincetown is abuzz. All kinds of repairs and fresh paint and new oyster shells on driveways, all ready for the non-stop tourists that have already begun to come. I'm not much into crowds or shopping, but I cannot believe the bay and ocean is all around me. 

7. JB volunteered to help a local motel, not even a block from our house, for a month, putting out a buffet breakfast for guests. They're waiting for the seasonal visa workers Trump has held up. In return, besides her paycheck, we are graciously allowed to use their pool this summer. Since I'm forcing myself to swim as part of  exercise for my back and as a way to MOVE, this is great news for me. 

8. I've lost 35 pounds. More motivation than I've had in years. 

9. I feel so glad about the people in my life. I listen to Donald Trump and his vanity and attacks on immigrants and I know my family and friends would not and do not carry that kind of rigidity or mean-spiritedness inside them. I don't mean this politically--I mean in their hearts. 

10. I have 4 grandchildren who are all healthy, interesting, fun, and unpredictable. JB and I rent a small studio apartment near them and besides for my joy in seeing my daughter Jess, I love when the kids come to visit. I try to keep the place stocked with new puzzles and clay and other entertaining ways. I also always kept a stash of Devil Dogs--what could be a better treat?!--until my daughter forbade me to give these unhealthy treats to the kids. Now I have Oreos and chocolate coins. 

11. My book is written. I love the characters. It's time to send letters to agents and publishers hoping one will ask to see the manuscript. I still have to edit and proof the whole thing, and I have to write a synopsis of the whole story, which is harder than it sounds. But I'm pushing forward. 

12. Mattie is now a 10 month old puppy. I'm unable to walk her (grrrrr) because of my back but boy is she enjoyable. And easy. And smart. We're conjuring up a doggie sandbox for her in the corner of our side yard, hoping we can achieve a dog-friendly plant-saving garden. I'm grateful I can work on the garden, sitting on my stool. :^)

and:

13. I don't say this to brag: I find that most people like me.  More often than I would expect I'm told I'm interesting and fun. I think this is because I listen. I'm interested in hearing and talking about about the big and small parts of people's lives. You can't be a good Counselor if you don't listen, and that's true of being a friend or acquaintance too. 

So all in all a pretty good week. I hope this is true for you too. The USA is a scary mess, that's for sure, but today I'm just happy to be sitting on the couch. 

love
kj




Thursday, May 03, 2018

Friends



How many friends do you have?
How much time do you spend with your friends?
Do most of your friends live nearby?
Do your friends know and are friends with each other?

When I was newly married, in my twenties and starting my career, my then-husband and I had a group of about 15 friends and we all hung out and did things together. A few people in this circle were extra special to me but mostly we all collectively planned pot luck dinners and days at the beach and lazy weekends smoking weed and drinking wine.

Since then, my friendships evolved into more singular connections: people I met from work, from my neighborhoods, from shared interests, from blogging, other parents, sometimes from friends of friends. The common thread now is that my friends are all over the place and I don't have a "hang out" group where I and they just knock on the door and fall into daily life. My friendships are also now more selective, probably because time seems more finite. They are also deeper, and most prominently, at a distance, some folks an hour or two away, some a state or two away, some a country or two away. I don't have that circle that I suspect comes from living and staying in one place. 

I count about five or six people I would  call in an emergency or in whose company I'm comfortable enough that I don't worry about when or how we connect. There's a wonderful comfort in that. But because they're most often not local, JB and I and they have to plan ahead to see one another and that's not the same as a knock on the door or an impromptu cook-out.  

I live in the small town of Provincetown now and I think some deep and long lasting friendships are forming. When we first moved here JB was sick and now I'm slowed by my back pain so that's  slowed our connections but even so,  I don't see that we'll have a circle of friends who are also friends with one another. I am SO lucky to have wonderful interesting people around me, that's for sure. I can't complain, but still, I wish my friends and I wish my Jessica and her family were closer; close enough for a quick anytime drop-by. Close enough to share my chicken soup and lettuce from our garden or to drop off our puppy for a dog-sit. In other words, close enough to be spontaneous.

I'd love to hear about your friends and about your thoughts on friendships....

love
kj  

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Pup Named Mattie


We had no intention of getting a puppy. For one thing we're too old. For another, we're partial to older dogs who need and deserve a good home. And for another thing, we weren't ready.

Here's what happened: my daughter's brother-in-law posted a Facebook photo of Mattie and he left a comment, 'you might be interested.' I impulsively called the rescue group listing her and found myself talking to her foster mother. Mattie was being housed on Cape Cod, so it was easy for us to visit her foster home, watch her play with the three other dogs who lived there, and hear about how sweet she was. The die was cast: we decided on the spot to adopt her. 

Except that Jess' brother-in-law didn't direct his comment to me in that Facebook post at all. He was nudging someone else to consider Mattie, not me! Which is another way of saying that Fate took the wheel and destiny delivered Mattie to our little family.


Her foster mother was right. She is a wonderful dog, smart, sweet, flexible, kind. At nine weeks old she was pretty much potty trained in a day, slept through the night, and even now is uncharacteristically patient for a puppy.

Mattie was rescued off the streets of the island of Aruba. She was was flown to the United States with about 40 other puppies before she ended up in our neck of the woods. Aruban street dogs are called Cunucus, a rare breed named after their homeland, the small Caribbean Island in the Dutch Antilles. The word "Canucu" means 'countryside' in the local language of Papiamento. These dogs are known to be athletic, courageous, loyal and intelligent. Mattie is all that. If they have any faults at all, they dig and bark. They are also agile and have amazing leaping ability. This is apparently an adaptation for lizard-chasing in prickly terrain, which may be a necessity in Aruba but not here in Provincetown. :^) Cunucus are pack dogs who live on the streets, forage for food from tourists and by their own means, and are targeted for rescue, especially the puppies, by a few wonderful animal welfare groups. 


It has been 2 years since we've had a dog and in those two years JB and I had the luxury of no responsibility for any one but ourselves. No longer. Now we're tethered to Mattie, but not because we feel responsible. It's simpler than that. Love has taken over. I'm amazed by how easily and completely that can happen. We care about her, we've all bonded. Because of my immobility this pup has learned all kinds of commands from me on the couch (sit, stay, leave it, bed, come, kiss, paw, no, yes, kiss kiss kiss) and all kinds of fun in the outer world from JB (daily dog wrestling at the local dog park, runs on the beach, walks on a leash.) She rides in the car with us, plays with our grand kids, welcomes and snuggles with our company and friends, and sleeps right next to me each night.

Dogs are special beings. When they're loved and with guidance, their loyalty and unconditional love can't be matched by us flawed humans. I hope once I'm back on my feet we'll head to our local animal shelter and bring home that 6-7 year old dog we first planned for. We're sure Mattie will like the companionship. Meanwhile, forgive me for saying she's a special dog, but I think she is. Most of all, she's kind--my favorite quality no matter what your species.

So here's to Mattie aka Matilda 'Mattie' Marie. She has a too-small yard to play in and a non-athletic and kid-less family, but all in all she landed on her feet. And so did we.

love
kj
this post dedicated to my friend Wieneke xo

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thoughts...


There's no escape from the mess that is current American democracy. This week the President of France addressed a joint session of Congress and his message and articulation of unity and justice and  compassion was especially striking because it contrasted so sharply with the angry and divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. Many and most Americans are hoping that the mid-term elections in November will begin to right the ship. I don't know what troubles me more: the abhorrent treatment of decent immigrants or the flagrant danger of dissing the Paris Climate Accord. (Yes, I could add the attack on the free press and all our systems of justice and government.)

I know great damage has already been done but I have hope. 

  
As I prepare to shop my second novel, here's a reminder my first book is a good beach read. I still remember what it felt like to first hold this book in my hands. The characters of Alex and Lily live with me still. Writing is a lonely profession: it has to be done alone. To me it's a mysterious process, how words follow one after another to create a story. Sometimes I reread what I've written and I hear it for the first time, like someone else wrote those words. These days my mind is on my current heroine Christine Macabee, mother of 4, devotee of poetry and all things John Denver, a woman whose belief in devotion both comforts and deceives her. 

I'm glad to be a writer. 




This is where I live. Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, a peninsula where the light bounces off the sea like no where else. (First 2 photos courtesy of the Provincetown Photography Page.) 

I long to step into spring and summer. I still can't walk very far; I can't walk Mattie  and I can't walk along the sand. But some progress is happening. No more pain meds, my activity has increased, I'm still losing weight (!), and hope still floats. I'm determined to keep my attitude high and in check because maximizing what I can will clearly help me. 

Recently my brother was hospitalized and discharged home with hospice care. His situation is well more serious than mine, but his attitude is similar: he's determined to enjoy his days and wait to worry. When my parents died, one of the last things my Father told me was, "I'm not afraid, I'll see my Mother." And my Mother, two days before her last breath, with her eyes closed and her body withdrawing, said to herself, quietly and with no fear, "I hope I'm not dying." I chuckled about that since because she was so matter-of-fact and calm. Years apart, they both died peacefully and surrounded by love and family. They never once complained. I think that will be my brother and I hope when the time comes that will be me too.

Dying is hard to talk about and hard to plan for. Do you know about Five Wishes? Google it. Totally helpful. 

I'm so glad to be blogging again. 
love
kj