Family · Uncategorized

Something to Celebrate!

Happily, we got out of town for a few days around Independence Day. It’s been hard to even think about celebrating this country lately because we are so far from the ideals we were founded on. It would have been awfully hard to watch our town’s traditional parade and the bonfire we have instead of fireworks. It would have been hard to go through these motions, the same as every other year, as if this year the country wasn’t burning down around us.

Thankfully, this year my husband’s family had a reunion. We rented a house in Vermont for 29 people. Only one person, one of my nephews in flight school, wasn’t able to make it.

L is the oldest of six and his family is scattered all over the country. Before we had kids of our own, we did a lot of traveling to where one brother or another was stationed, but with all of our kids getting older and having schedules of their own, it’s gotten harder and harder to get everyone together.

Ludlow, VT. Near Mt. Okemo, this house sleeps 30!

This reunion was two years in the planning. People far more organized than me took care of all the details. We travelled from all over the country, as far as Seattle and Mississippi to be together.

There were several times during our stay that I found myself close to tears of gratitude for having become a part of this family and that they were so loving and accepting. L and I have been married over 25 years and every so often it strikes me how lucky I am and how lucky our kids are to be a part of this clan. I can remember at one point sitting with many of them around the table thinking that this was the large, extended family I had always hoped for – the one for which I wrote stories played out in my childhood dollhouses. Here they were, in real life. I was surrounded by them.

There were twenty-nine of us and four dogs. Many of my nieces and nephews are now adults, starting lives of their own, scattered across even more states. One recently became a captain in the Air Force, another just bought a house and is expecting a child in November. One landed a killer first job in the office of her Senator. Two are starting college in the Fall.

Three generations watching old home movies.

There were old home movies that my sister-in-law had converted from the original film reels. I had heard about these, but never saw them. Apparently I somehow missed the ritual of showing them to each new significant other. L was never thrilled about them, so I didn’t pursue it back then. The clips went back to L’s first Christmases. Each new clip brought the next child, and through it all, my Mother-in-law was smiling. That, I think is what struck me the most.

For the most part, on that weekend, I forgot all about the politics of the day. I mean, we had a short conversation about my old bumpersticker and whether it meant that I was supporting Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential bid (currently, I’m team Kamala, though I love them both), but I was able to read, nap, talk to people about their lives, and mostly stay off Twitter. We watched Wimbledon matches instead of the news.

Two generations playing Cards against Humanity . I managed not to be too embarrassed in front of my kids.

We talked about going to see Ludlow’s fireworks. There’s just something magical about fireworks (not to mention, my eighteen year old son discovered he could buy them in Vermont; they are illegal in Massachusetts). When we looked into it, we realized we could see the show from the house we were in. It was wonderful because the little ones could watch in their pajamas and head off the bed when they were done.

There was cake!

We played games, several folks took hikes to the nearby river. There was cake. My youngest nephew, aged seven, followed my youngest son, seventeen, everywhere. P is not crazy about little kids, but he was remarkably patient.

My only complaint was the heat. Since the house is mainly rented by skiers in the winter, there was no air conditioning. There were a couple of nights I ended up sleeping downstairs on the couch because it was cooler. The heat may or may not have contributed to the short battle I had with Afib while I was there. I was a little embarrassed to be such a wreck in front of everybody, but of course they were wonderful. I managed to get myself back into normal rhythm, so there was no trip to the hospital. Later, one of my sisters-in-law told me that she was planning to take time off to come help me post-transplant. She lives on the other side of the country. I’m just floored. And indescribably grateful.

As it happened, we had plenty to celebrate this Independence Day, and it was so nice to focus on other people, their humor, and their gifts instead of my health and the politics of the day. It’s hard to remember when I’m worried about being sick, or about money, or about my teenagers, or the state of the world; but, of all the things I imagined for myself when I was younger, I got this wonderful family. And I get a few moments, every so often, to sit quietly and revel in it.

Now in my head, I know the time was made sweeter by the fact that we don’t see each other that often, but in my heart, I sure do wish they all were closer.

Politics · Uncategorized

A Sigh of Relief

VotingBooths
Voting Booths – Creative Commons Photo

It was a big enough win. Sure, the loss for Beto O’Rourke was disappointing (next to Scott Walker, Ted Cruz was the guy I most wanted to see the end of), but the Dems took the House, and restored a path to some accountability for Trump.

As of this writing, the Governor’s race in Georgia and the Senate Race in Florida are still being counted. There are rumblings that the Governor’s race in Florida is tightening, even though the Democrat, Andrew Gillum, conceded last night.

What we might have learned from 2016 was not to concede so early. We didn’t know the extent of Russian interference or voting irregularities in 2016. This year, widespread voting problems, broken machines (or those delivered without power cords)  and blatant suppression efforts mean every candidate in a close race should fight until the end. See Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico.

By now, Trump has fired Jeff Sessions and clearly has designs on ending the Mueller investigation. Things will move quickly, but last night’s win was a sign of hope that all is not lost in our Democracy. It has also re-energized a party that was fighting for its life. Democrats have flipped several states, grown their numbers in state legislatures, and now have begun to rebuild the foundation they were lacking in 2016. This helps head off some Republican attempts at gerrymandering, voter suppression, and election manipulation ala Brian Kemp and Kris Kobach.

There’s so much work to do between now and 2020, but when your team gets a big hit, you suddenly feel the momentum shift in your direction, you can often see your way clear to winning the game.

Politics · Uncategorized

Election Day

We’ve been waiting for this for two years. So much has happened since 2016, it makes your head spin to think about it. It’s been a long two years.

Today we braved the foul weather and, in many places, long lines and ornery voting machines. Hopefully it will be a positive outcome.

I’m not turning any news on until the polls close on the East Coast. That’s a few hours from now and it’s going to be a long night.

I think I’m going to take a nap.

 

 

Me voting in 2016: Hermione

 

Me voting in 2018: Trelawny

Politics · Uncategorized

The Worst People

KavanoThe Trump regime’s determination to employ the worst possible people has yet another notch in its belt with the Kavanaugh hearings this week. Somewhat forgotten after all the claims and denials surrounding the attempted rape accusations of Christine Blasey Ford is the appearance of Kavanaugh having lied under oath about several things even before the allegations became public and Dr. Ford’s name was revealed.

Utterly without integrity, the Republicans are trying to force Kanavaugh on the women of this country in their determination to deny us bodily autonomy and agency.  That there’s an attempted rape to complete the picture of the privileged male seeking control over women is really not that surprising, is it?

Early in the hearing, in an attempt to humanize Kavanaugh and soften his image, much was made of his role as a girls’ basketball coach. He even jokingly referred to himself as “Coach K.” Later, members of the team were brought in to sit behind him. He used those girls as props, and more than likely, as an attempt to shield himself from protesters who would likely be less vocal with the young team there.

But no amount of political theater can disguise what’s happening here. Behind Brett Kavanaugh’s smug smoothness is perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Roe v. Wade, the potential further restriction of the availability of birth control, described by Kavanaugh as  “abortion inducing drugs.” Though he claimed to be using the words of the plaintiffs in that case, the dog whistle was pretty clear.

As of this writing Dr. Ford is negotiating the terms of her testimony to the committee. Among other things, she is asking for her named witness, Kavanaugh’s alleged accomplice, to be subpoenaed a well. As others have noted, these are not the moves of someone making a false accusation.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are doing all they can to undermine her testimony before it even happens. The eleven Republicans on the judiciary committee are all white males,  some of whom presided over the Clarence Thomas nomination and the grilling of Anita Hill and should know better, but they are doing all they can to bully Dr. Ford before she even comes to their hearing.  Kavanaugh is being coached for his testimony on the accusation by staff in the White House including Don McGahn and Bill Shine, who has plenty of experience with unwanted sexual advances, having enabled Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at FOX News.

A few have attempted to discredit the accusation by suggesting that Dr. Ford was confused or had mistaken Kavanaugh for a classmate (who is undoubtedly surprised to have been dragged into this thing). Now a main proponent of that theory has given the game away by posting the whole thing on Twitter (since removed), so who knows if they’ll bring that up in the hearing itself. For his part, Mitch McConnell vowed “we’re gonna plow right through it.” He was speaking about the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to Family Research Council Values Voter Summit.

Republicans are making it clear that they do not value women. They don’t care about women’s rights, their safety, or their agency. They are determined to walk back the rights we have gained and make it as difficult as possible to be equal partners. They used to be more deceptive about it. Now they are throwing it in our faces. There are plenty of anti-abortion judges that could have been nominated here. By elevating their second justice accused of sexual misconduct, Republicans are forcefully declaring open season on women.

The way we viewed and spoke about the sexual activity of teenagers in the 80s is different from the messages and expectations of today. I understand that. As this story  unfolds, I keep thinking about Fast Times at Ridgemont High or an attack that took place not far from where I grew up in New Jersey, told in the book Our Guys. Even as the attitudes of privileged white boys go though, Kavanaugh seems pretty egregious. His yearbook entry from his elite private high school reads like a how-to manual for toxic masculinity. His activities at Yale run along the same vein.

It makes you wonder how the parents of that girls’ basketball team feel about “Coach K” now?