Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Asking for a Friend

hands-holding-heart-dark-background_23-2147596663

As regular readers know, our beloved Hecate is about to undergo a major move. Many regular readers have had the good fortune to meet Hecate in person over the years, but even for those who haven’t, you’ve likely gathered that she is not a person who enjoys upheaval and change, being around a lot of people (particularly strangers), or having her physical space disturbed and disrupted.

Guess what will be happening to her one week from today?

So since she’s unlikely to ask for it herself, I’m asking you, sometime over the next week, to perform the following simple spell to assist her in this major life transition.

Ground and center yourself.

Light a candle. White’s always good. Pink or light blue would be good for this working. too. Maybe light your favorite incense, too.

Call who/whatever you normally call to assist you in your workings, plus your favorite deities/spirits/symbols of home and hearth, protection, and animals. (I’ll be calling Hestia, Columbia, and Bast, but you do you.)

Visualize Hecate surrounded by a bubble/globe/sphere/aura of calm.

Visualize Nimue and Merlin curled up together, peacefully napping.

Visualize Hecate’s belongings being carefully packed, safely transported, and equally carefully unpacked and placed in her new home, with nothing lost, broken, or damaged.

Visualize her internet tech showing up and connecting her on time and without delay. 🙂

Finally, picture Hecate , early in the morning, sitting in her favorite Stickley arm chair, her things unpacked and in order around her, looking out her window at her new view of her beloved Blue Ridge mountains, coffee at hand, purring cat on her lap, settled safely in her new home and at peace.

This is our will, and as we will it for our beloved friend, so mote it be.

Background photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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In Memoriam

A dear friend of mine died one year ago today.

She was…

A mom

A wife

A civil servant

A singer

A dancer

A writer

Formidable and sharp of tongue and mind, a smartass

Yet also witty, wise, kind, curious, and generous

Rest In Power, my friend. Those who are remembered are never truly gone from us.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Want TrumPutin Impeached?

ImpeachTrumpNow

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE.

Ever since the Mueller report was released – hell, even before it – there’s been a steady drumbeat from progressives/liberals/the left/the Democratic base, calling on Nancy Pelosi to impeach TrumPutin.

First, IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY. Framing matters, y’all.

Second, she cannot make a unilateral decision on this front.

As self-described “Congress nerd” and Senior Fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University Josh Huder explains far better than I could in his recent Twitter thread on the topic:

The House decides impeachment. The Speaker has powers but the House is arbiter. If 218 members of her caucus were behind an impeachment inquiry, it’d be happening. It’s not. She’s not holding back a silent majority.

How do we get to 218 Democrats in the House favoring an impeachment inquiry?

One member at a time.

Step 1: Find your Representative (if you don’t already have her on speed dial)

Step 2: Click the link to her website that shows up. It WILL have contact information.

Step 3: Pick up the phone, dial, and tell the nice staffer who answers that you want the House to begin an impeachment inquiry. Not sure exactly what to say? NeedToImpeach.com has you covered with a sample script.

“But my Representative is a Republican!”

Call anyway. Justin Amash (R, MI-3) has come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. Others may follow if they get enough pressure from their constituents. And bipartisanship would REALLY help the House Dems on this one.

Also, 2020 is coming. Campaign like you mean it for whoever chooses to run against your current Republican Representative – or consider running yourself.

Stop bitching and moaning on Twitter and Facebook and to your friends, and CALL YOUR DAMN REP.

Image found here (and they have a petition you can sign, but really, call your Member of Congress)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

First Weekend of Summer Potpourri

redwood grove at Muir Woods National Monument

I’m going to try a Hecate-style potpourri post. Wish me luck!

Spouse and I just got back from a long weekend in northern California wine country. As of the beginning of the month, I’ve been running my own business longer than I’ve held any other job. About a year ago, I was speaking at a conference in northern Cali. We’d extended into a long weekend as we tend to do when one of us is traveling somewhere good, and we had a great time, so when we were looking for a place to go to celebrate, it seemed like an outstanding choice. As we did a year ago, we hiked in the mornings and tasted wine in the afternoons, mostly at boutique wineries recommended by a good friend who is a deeply knowledgeable oenophile (Sonoma last year, Russian River Valley this). We had wanted to go to Muir Woods last year, but it was right after they’d instituted their reservation system for parking, and I wasn’t paying attention. This year, as soon as we booked the trip, I secured our reservation – I wasn’t going to miss it twice!

When we entered the park, we immediately turned off onto one of the “real” (not paved/boardwalk) hiking trails, which climbed up from the canyon floor through the groves to the ridge line, along the ridge through the abundant wildflowers and pollinators, then back down into the treeline and onto the “tourist” path. Even with all the people talking and laughing and taking selfies, the groves, particularly Cathedral Grove, were a magical, sacred place. What natural spaces are sacred to you? Have you been to visit them recently? What did they have to say to you? What offering did you make to them?

We returned home to find that our jasmine, planted in 2016 and nearly killed by an extreme cold snap in January of 2018, had burst into PROFUSE bloom. The entire back yard and most of the house smell of jasmine. I’m so glad I took GreenMan’s advice to be patient with it and let it heal itself. What’s blooming in your garden right now?

Part of the reason I can smell the jasmine so clearly in the house is that the AC is busted and ALL the windows are open. Apparently, it was quite hot while we were gone, but since we’ve been back, the weather has been cooperative, for which I am extremely grateful. I am also grateful that, although it will be a pain in the ass to get the AC fixed (involving a crane and the necessary permits), we can afford it. Many Americans report that they would be unable to afford an unexpected expense of more then $400. Do you have some money stashed away for a rainy – or a sweaty – day? If not, are there any lifestyle changes you can make to facilitate the creation of at least a small nest egg?

Speaking of my business, it’s been really quiet this spring. When this has happened in the past, I’ve tended to freak out. This time, finally, I’ve learned to respond more calmly, using my unexpected downtime to catch up on my reading, complete and release a major personal interest research project, organize my paper and electronic files, find a new accounting firm (which I’ve been meaning to do for YEARS), catch up with colleagues and former clients I haven’t seen in a while, and be more actively engaged with my volunteer work. When you get unexpected downtime, do you look forward to it, or does it make you anxious? How do you use it?

Last year, three people who were close to us died, two quite unexpectedly: a very close friend of 20+ years of metastasized melanoma, and our nephew, a veteran who had just turned 27, of a still-unexplained infection (he had a cold, then started coughing blood, then was hospitalized, then lapsed into a coma, then died of septic shock, all in the space of less than a month). One, you know how Hecate is always reminding us to get our mammograms? Don’t forget to get your skin checked regularly, too. Two, my spouse’s family is just generally not close, but since my nephew’s death, I’ve been making the effort to contact (text, phone, email) my sister-in-law monthly on the date he died (I know, I know – women always end up shouldering the majority of the emotional labor, and I shouldn’t be feeling like I’m responsible for this, but here we are). What relationships are you trying to build (or rebuild)? What are you finding to be effective for accomplishing that?

Last night, I went to the annual volunteer appreciation event for a local nonprofit with which I volunteer weekly. Due to negligence in our mayor’s office, we won’t be receiving Corporation for National and Community Service funds on which we’re dependent for next year, and our city funding, while it has remained in place, has been stagnant for years, despite a little thing you may have heard of called inflation and despite the fact that our program – and the local people we serve – has grown exponentially. Needless to say, there was a FULL COURT advocacy press over the past two months. (My ward city council member and the members of the Committee on Education aren’t immediately fleeing when they see me – yet – but it’s been a close thing.) At the event, the nonprofit’s executive director had two pieces of good news to share: one, the mayor’s office has promised, in writing, to restore our missing federal funding from city coffers, and two, our city council went over and above that and increased our city funding in next year’s budget by 25%. What local issues are you passionate about right now? What have you been doing to work on them? What outcomes have you seen?

Something that’s been bugging me happened during – actually at the end of – my volunteer shift this week. The next team was coming in as I was finishing up. There’s a perpetually sour-looking white woman in the crew that follows me every week. She started a conversation with a white guy who’s also part of that crew while they were waiting for their shift to start. They were across the room and I was completing my notes from my shift, so I wasn’t really paying attention, until she raised her voice about the lack of POLITICAL diversity at her son’s high-falutin’ prep school. Junior – or maybe she, it wasn’t clear – had the “brilliant” idea that he should wear a MAGA hat to school to “be provocative.” Junior’s classmates booed him, and the school administration stood by them and refused to punish them. Ms. Sourpuss was mad because “if my kid called someone the ‘n’ word, the administration would have been all over him!” I didn’t say anything – I wasn’t part of the conversation and I was trying to clear my station so someone else could use it in the next shift – but what I WISH I’d said was, “When you had the conversation with your son about how actions have consequences, and sometimes your choices have consequences that you might not like – because, of course, political affiliation is a choice, unlike race – and you asked him how he planned to respond, what did he say?” Why does the perfect response always come to me too late? What do you to prepare yourself to respond better than I did in the moment in these sorts of situations?

(What I really wanted to say is: “It starts as being ‘provocative’ for the ‘lulz’ but in 10 years, your son is going to be waving a torch and yelling about ‘blood and soil’ and when that happens, I want you to remember that these were the seeds and I told you what was coming, so don’t even try to pretend you don’t know how it happened.”)

Right-wing operatives doctored a video of Nancy Pelosi’s talk at the CAP Ideas Conference to make it seem like she was drunk and slurring her words. “Deepfakes” are a problem that is only getting worse as increasingly sophisticated photo, video, and audio editing software become widely available. It is only a matter of time until bad actors on the left start doing this, too, and it’s really tempting to pass along the lies that confirm our biases. What steps are you taking to ensure that you’re viewing media, particularly that which aligns with what you inherently want to believe, critically? What are you doing to validate information before you pass it along?

We are now up to 24 Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 elections and there are lots of theories as to why – Hillary created a logjam in 2016, life in Congress is pretty shitty these days – but MY theory is that it’s sexism and racism. Because many of the early out of the gate candidates were women (Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar) or men of color (Cory Booker, Julian Castro), the white dudes who’ve been every single president we’ve ever had, save one, don’t view them as real candidates, and figure “well, if they’re letting women and black and Latino dudes run, surely I, an unknown Representative who’s virtually interchangeable with all the OTHER undistinguished white dudes running, am OWED this.” That said, two of my favorite local activists recently repped their faves at the same time, and I AM HERE FOR THIS TICKET NO MATTER WHICH WOMAN TOPS IT.

activists wearing Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris tshirts

Two (more) thoughts about the abortion restrictions/bans many states are passing right now in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade.

As Michelle Alexander eloquently related in her personal abortion story in the New York Times recently, the rape exceptions don’t help us:

I wondered how a “rape exception” to an abortion ban could possibly help women, like me, who did not want to report a rape to the police and who could not possibly prove that a rape occurred if the man denied it. Criminal cases take months, even years, to be resolved. Would abortions be allowed based on mere allegations of rape without any proof? If not, what would a woman have to prove in a matter of days or weeks to get an abortion in the first trimester? How could she overcome the inevitable denial? What man would admit to rape knowing that he’d face a likely prison sentence?

Speaking of, dudes, as Jessica Valenti points out, it’s time to get off the bench and into this fight. Start by educating yourself.

Men, women are living in a terrifying moment. You are in a position to use your privilege and power to help. So, please, for the sake of women’s future, do your best to not just be passionate, but also knowledgeable, about protecting abortion rights.

Abortion is health care and equality for women demands that we be able to control if and when we choose to have children, full stop.

Finally, I mentioned I’ve been catching up on my reading lately. Here’s what that’s looked like:

  • Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler – I’m a fan of dystopian science fiction, so I enjoyed these books, although Butler never really explained why, in one generation, all of a sudden, no one could read, and I felt like having some of the characters be “sharers” was a distraction that didn’t really add anything of substance to the overall story. Also, kinda christian, which is not my favorite.
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker – More dystopian science fiction, with a climate crisis precipitated by the slowing of the rotation of the earth, and a young woman protagonist who is going through the trials of adolescence, puberty, and first love in the middle of it. Outstanding.
  • The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger – Engrossing story, although the ending was a little too pat. Also, although she credits Farah Deeba Munni, the woman upon whose story the novel is loosely based, in the acknowledgements, it still felt a little cultural appropriation-y to me.
  • In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – Apparently there isn’t a whole lot more documentation about the Mirabal sisters, which is unfortunate, because Alvarez brought them and the Trujillo dictatorship period of Dominican history so vividly to life that I’d love to learn more about these heras.
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy by NK Jemisin – Perfection. No wonder all three books won Hugo awards, the first time an author has ever won three Hugos in a row. And hey! According to Wikipedia, she’s W. Kamu Bell’s cousin. That’s a talented family.

What have you read lately and loved?

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Climate Crisis

Yes, I am still totally pissed about what’s going on with women’s reproductive rights and rights to control our own bodies, and as I tweeted earlier this week: “If you were fully on board with boycotting Texas over their anti-trans bathroom bill, you can miss me with your “but we can’t boycott Georgia/Alabama/Ohio because reasons” takes right now.”

HOWEVER.

We are in the midst of a planet-wide crisis.

(Not “global warming” or “climate change.” Crisis. Framing matters, right Hecate?)

The UN reports that ONE MILLION species are at risk of extinction entirely due to human beings. (Funny, Elizabeth Kolbert published a book about this FIVE years ago. Am I the only one who read it?)

The latest issue of MIT’s Tech Review is entirely about the climate crisis. The conclusion they come to: It’s too late for mitigation. We waited too long. All that remains is adaptation and suffering, which is going to lead to a “new dark age,” a thirty year series of shocks (massively destructive hurricanes, famine, slowing of the Gulf Stream, political upheaval) that will “bring about the end of global fossil-fueled capitalist civilization. Revolution or collapse—in either case, the good life as we know it is no longer viable.” In fact, we are potentially facing the end of our species. Which, let me remind you, has happened before. “We burn some of them to drive our cars.”

That could – and probably will – lead to despair. We need to grieve what we’ve destroyed in our own carelessness, short-sightedness, and arrogance.

But we do still have power to act, and it’s incumbent on us to think carefully about what we do with that responsibility.

Individual action cannot prevent our climate crisis. In fact, nothing can at this point.

Individual action cannot significantly mitigate our climate crisis. In fact, nothing can at this point.

Individual action can help us adapt to a world with dramatically changed – and narrowed – operating boundaries. It falls to us to “save what can be saved.”

By doing what?

Well, I’ve written about this before. Twice. So I’m not going to list it all AGAIN.

But do SOMETHING.

Something small – plant some flowers in your yard or in a pot on your balcony that will feed your local pollinators. Tear up your lawn. Buy local, in-season produce – or grow it yourself.

Something big – if your local electrical utility offers source choice, choose 100% renewable power, even if it costs more. Or install solar panels on your roof. Or do both (since even with solar panels, you will still draw off the grid, at least sometimes).

Something bigger – dump your internal combustion engine car for an electric vehicle – or, if this is a possibility in your area, for a 100% reliance on public transportation, biking, and your feet to get around.

Something really big – run for office on a climate crisis platform, and support other candidates who do.

“We can let them kill this beautiful world— or we can get to work making space for a decent future.”

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Abortion Bans Violate the First Amendment

image of the exterior of the Newseum in Washington DC, into which the text of the first amendment is carved

Did you know that, far from prohibiting abortion, Talmudic law sometimes mandates it?

I have a spouse whose degree is in comparative religion and many Jewish friends, so I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while.

Then, in response to the Gilead-level bullshittery going on in Ohio, Alabama, and Georgia, the fabulous Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (who you really should follow on Twitter if you aren’t already. Go. Now. I’ll wait.) posted an outstanding thread explaining Jewish law on this matter.

  1. I am not a Talmudic scholar.
  2. I am not even Jewish.
  3. I know Hecate just posted about this yesterday, but I’m pissed off, too.

I’m going to summarize a few of her points, but really, go read the whole thread if you have a minute.

  1. Jewish law does not consider a fetus a person until birth.
  2. In fact, even if the mother is actively in labor and her life is in danger, the fetus may be sacrificed to save the mother.
  3. In fact, Jewish law sometimes REQUIRES abortion to preserve life – the life of the mother, which is considered to have greater weight than the POTENTIAL life of the fetus. (imagine that!)
  4. Abortion is permitted in a much wider range of cases, even by “ultra-Orthodox” rabbis. This is under the “rubric of great need.”

The good rabbi lays out her arguments more fully in a recent piece for Forward magazine.

And did you know that the christian practice of using a bunch of versus from the Old Testament to rationalize their stupid “life begins at conception” stance is considered by rabbis to be inappropriate use of the texts?

As Rabbi Ruttenberg explains: “To put it simply, we don’t derive matters of Jewish law from Psalms.”

I guess understanding the context of your own holy book is for suckers, amirite, fundamentalists?

Another fun fact: the religious right’s origin story is all about resistance to Roe v. Wade and “think of the babies!!!!” That’s a lie. The pro-forced birth thing is a cover for early religious right leaders’ (like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Paul Weyrich) real motivation: white supremacy and trying to preserve Jim Crow in the face of federal civil rights legislation. Yes, really – here are the receipts.

Having grown up in that world, I can confirm from personal experience that they didn’t start giving a shit about any of this until the mid-1980s AND that interracial dating remained a huge issue until at least that time, if not later.

Women in fundamentalist circles are encouraged/forced to stay forever child-like, submissive first to their fathers and then to their husbands, leaving all important decisions up to the menfolk. Most do not have anything resembling a career, and many have never held a job more involving than what one might have as a teenager – or even any job at all. Many earn no money of their own and may never even have paid a bill.

Relatedly, they are, as a group, often subject to jejune sentimentality. Which the men who run the pro-forced birth movement (because it IS mostly men) play on, big time. It’s evil, and it’s gross.

I’ve written about this before, but if these people were genuinely pro-LIFE, they would support:

  • Comprehensive sex ed
  • Easy, universal, free access to birth control
  • Comprehensive, free prenatal care
  • Universal parental leave
  • Subsidized, high-quality child care
  • Wrap-around adoption support

Do they actually support any of that stuff?

NOPE.

Want to know what it’s like right now on the ground in Georgia? Read this heart-breaking thread, and take the action the writer recommends at the end.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Women’s Work and Being “Neighborly”

stereotypical 1950s white American family in their yard

I recently had lunch with a conservative friend of mine. (Yes, I do still have some conservative friends. I’ve dumped the libertarians, though. Those people are just self-centered assholes.)

He and I got talking about the “decline of community.”

You know about this phenomenon. “Nobody knows their neighbors anymore.” Bowling Alone. Suburban isolation. Car culture. Fragmented society. Overwork. Too many hours commuting. Blah blah blah.

I pointed out that at least one major reason why it happened is that women took back their unpaid emotional labor.

My friend either didn’t understand, or pretended not to (or didn’t want to). He came back with “but all these guys in my neighborhood seem to be avoiding their families by spending excessive time on lawn care.”

I didn’t let him get away with it, and came back with a fairly stern, “That’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Everyone” wasn’t more “neighborly” in some hazy, largely imaginary, more communal past. WOMEN were, whether we wanted to be or not.

My dad was not the one who built the connections with the neighbors (and neither were those dads in my friend’s neighborhood) – it was the moms. They baked the cookies to welcome the new family that just moved in and threw the baby showers and made the casseroles when the baby arrived or the mom got sick (because OF COURSE the dad can’t be expected to know how to cook or be willing to do it after a hard day at his desk job) and watched the kids before and/or after school for the moms who worked outside the house and organized the block parties and cookouts. They did this even when they didn’t like to, didn’t want to, even in cases where the moms themselves worked part or full time outside the house. Community building, “neighborliness,” was yet another instance of unpaid emotional labor required of women.

And in our rapacious capitalist society, women are less willing – and less able – to do unpaid emotional labor in 2019 than they were in 1959.

Two things:

  1. Men, do you miss community, knowing your neighbors, those weak/casual connections where you’re not best friends, but you know each others’ names and kids’ names and ages, and feel comfortable sharing a beer on the front stoop? You’re perfectly capable of doing the emotional work to create those connections. It’s not something that’s magically attached to a double-X.
  2. We need more time banks.

What are time banks? Glad you asked!

Time banks are places where you store time-based currency.

So what is time-based currency? According to Wikipedia, it is:

an alternative currency or exchange system where the unit of account is the person-hour or some other time unit. Some time-based currencies value everyone’s contributions equally: one hour equals one service credit. In these systems, one person volunteers to work for an hour for another person; thus, they are credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of service from another volunteer.

In other words ALL types of labor are valued EQUALLY. And, as a recent Washington Post article points out, time banks inherently build community.

Founded by a University of the District of Columbia law professor in 1995, TimeBanks USA allows local communities to set up their own time banks for an extremely small fee, which then, per founder Edgar Cahn, allows people to “value what it means to be a human” – and make visible the value of the unpaid care-taking work that’s traditionally been required of women.

Sounds like a good start to building community to me.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.