The Circus…

Looking at the political situation in the US now, one thing I can say is that I know a lot more about it than I did two years ago. I think that might be true of a lot of people in this country. The thing is like a huge, morbid circus.

There IS a lot of “fake news.” Yesterday I read that a friend of Trump’s thinks Trump might fire Mueller, the Special Counsel. That’s not news. That’s gossip. But it has spread and so… From a liberal blog, but…

I watched Trump’s meeting with his cabinet — finally he has a cabinet. The meeting was surreal. He blamed and bragged and the “cabinet” sucked up shamelessly. I thought last night that the job of the president and the cabinet was pretty serious and had nothing (much) to do with egos, but this was nothing but. Maybe after the photo-op was over, they went into a room and worked. I don’t know. Once again, he calls Democrats “obstructionists” not thinking that he is the president of ALL the people in this country, not just the ones who kiss ass. I think he believes his own fiction.



Ivanka the Good Witch came out in favor of apprenticeships in high schools (I’m completely and totally for that) and then I read an article in The Guardian exposing the terrible treatment of workers in Ivanka’s factories. It’s quite anecdotal and makes use of the passive voice, still, I don’t doubt it’s true. It’s also true that when I worked in China I earned $100 US/month and was near the top of the pay scale, close to the highest government official. The article is not what I call hard data.

Watching Comey testify last week was interesting, most interesting was that his BIG statement, that Russia interfered in our election process in a major way was not as interesting to people as other things he said. I got the impression that — to Comey — that was the most enormous thing but to the people on the committee and maybe the people in the country, the gossip he also shared was more intriguing. “He said, she said” is, to me, always gossip. Unverifiable and ephemeral, but so tantalizing. I do not know how anyone could ever prove that when Trump said, “I hope” he meant “You’d better.”

There’s just so much crap and that includes some of the REAL news. My interest in all this has not tapered off much because it continues to be completely beyond my ken. (I got to write ken 🙂 )

Unreal vs. Imaginary

This is a debate I’ve had with people. Well, a few people. OK, two people. It’s a good debate because I won both times. 🙂 Just because something is imaginary does NOT mean it’s NOT real.

For example, my two pals, whom many of the readers of my blog know, Lamont and Dude are VERY real. They have their own experiences, philosophies, memories, personalities, ideas but they are imaginary. Whoa, you didn’t know that? You thought the whole Lamont and Dude thing was a live documentary kind of thing? Nope. I made them up — or more accurately, they appeared one morning while I tried to write to a prompt. Here is their first appearance in “print,” February 4, 2014,  “Dude’s Love Story.” I don’t even know how many times they’ve shown up, but far too many to say they are not real.

But not all imaginary and/or unreal entities are as benign as Lamont and Dude, and that’s a problem. Sometimes it’s not easy to recognize that the enemy is a phantasm, an illusion. Every single day it seems that some drama comes out of Washington, and it hit me yesterday that it might all be about “ratings.” People I never heard of are suddenly in my fiend, I mean field, of view, people with whom I would never, ever have the reason to exchange even the time of day. I find myself doing laundry, lifting the lid to the washer and thinking, “I bet Ivanka Trump never read the instructions on the bottom of the lid to her washer.” I mow the lawn (a chore I already hate) and think, “I bet that idiot in DC never pushed a lawnmower.”

I am now trying to send all those people back to non-existence in my field of view, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy.

There’s another side to this imaginary vs. real problem. Sometimes what is real must be proven.

There was a bully on our street, Larry Pope. He was always after my brother and there were a lot of times I had to punch Larry Pope in the face. The kid was a sadist and he planned ahead. His bullying wasn’t acts of spontaneous passion; he planned them. The worst — and conclusive proof of this — was he stretched fishing line from a mailbox on one side of our street to a mailbox on the other — the mailbox with the word “Pope” written on it. It was EXACTLY the level of the throat of a kid on a bike, and it was invisible. He got me; I came home with a deep cut across my throat. My dad was furious and said, “He could have killed both my kids.” He was ready to go down the street and give the what for to Larry Pope’s dad.

“Don’t give them the satisfaction,” said my mom. “They’ll just take their kid’s side and deny it.”

“I’ll take Martha Ann with me and show them.”

“What will that prove? Only that she’s hurt, not that Larry Pope did it. If you go down there, you’ll be tilting at windmills. No one wants to believe their kid’s a bully.”

It did not matter in reality that the incident was REAL. There was no way to prove anything. My throat healed. My dad taught me to box. Larry Pope moved away.

Did you Vote? Survey

Every time I think about the most recent presidential election, my mind returns to the nearly 50% of eligible voters who did not vote. Why? This is a big question for me but something haven’t seen written about much in the real or the fake media. I did, recently, read a tremendous, very big, everyone says so article in Rolling Stone that did focus on that question. It said (of the Democratic Party), “The party doesn’t see that the largest group of potential swing voters out there doesn’t need to be talked out of voting Republican. It needs to be talked out of not voting at all.”  (Article)

I’m not a Democrat and I’m not a Republican. If I were to self-identify as anything, well, idealistically, I’m an anarchist and believe in self-government. I’m also not stupid and I know that’s still not possible. As Thoreau wrote in “Civil Disobedience,” “I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

Humanity is not ready for it… So, in the meantime we are tasked to find the best “expedient.”

To find an answer to my questions about why people didn’t vote in 2016, I came up with a survey. It’s only 5 questions and ABSOLUTELY anonymous. It doesn’t even ask you HOW or for whom you voted. I’d be grateful for your responses and for you to share it with friends.  In a week or so (when I have a number of responses) I’ll write a blog post about it. Thank you!!

The Garden

Even if you have not read Voltaire’s Candide you know the story. It’s life, pretty much. You have a decent education, good looks, youth, combined with longings and yearnings, and at the moment you find they are about to be fulfilled BAM! they’re taken away and you’re sent to the army, but that turns out not so bad because, lo and behold, things get good again — and the object of your desires is again in front of you through an amazing concatenation of events! Over and over and over again, the rollercoaster ride of life until, finally, having won and lost more than you ever even imagined possible, you are (and who knows how?) in the back of beyond tending a garden. Your great love is a toothless old hag; your teacher is a blind, syphilitic, blathering idiot, but the figs are coming along nicely and it looks good for peaches this year.

I garden, not because I’m fascinated by it or want to grow my own food, or am passionate about any aspect of it. I’m not. I like flowers growing and homegrown tomatoes and basil for caprese in the summer. That’s about as deep as my enthusiasm runs. The flowers I like most need cold winters to do well in summer (sort of like me). My favorite flowers are iris which I was constantly trying to grow in Southern California — finally succeeded, too. The gophers didn’t like them much. I like wildflowers growing in a meadow in the high country, so I’ve planted a wildflower “meadow” in my backyard. My peonies got frosted again this spring, but it looks like I might get two blooms — the first since I planted them three years ago.

This year my garden is more important to me, and I’ve done more with it and taken it more seriously. I have found myself perplexed by many things that are completely out of my control, the leadership of this country is a big one that I can’t do anything about. The other is the question of well-written and compelling novels — that have won awards — that no one wanted to publish…

The big independent bookstore in Denver has agreed to stock my novel, The Brothers Path, . There is a $50 administration fee for them to stock it (pay to play) and if it doesn’t sell within the first three months, I can continue to have the book in the store for an additional $150. This is a way to deal with the plethora (ha ha, I used that word) of self-published authors. I’m doing it, the $50 anyway. There’s also the possibility of holding an “event” — book-signing, I guess. The store does a lot of publicity for the author and the author pays them $150 to do that and must be able to invite 30 people. For the chance to do this, the author has to write a fairly elaborate proposal and the store evaluates how well events for other books in the genre have done.

So, the garden. I cannot shoot my novels to the top of the NYT Bestseller list, but I can set out the tomatoes I started from seeds two months ago. I can’t change the political situation, but I can plant petunias. I don’t have the resources to travel the world, but I can walk around the little “garden” by the river, the slough, and note the changes happening there every day throughout the seasons. Life moves continuously to the present moment and we owe that moment everything.

“There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put into the Inquisition; had you not traveled over America on foot; had you not run the Baron through the body; and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts.”

“Excellently observed,” answered Candide; “but let us cultivate our garden.”


Tulip yard sign for Lois

The sign I painted for my friend’s fence

I Demonstrate

I’m fundamentally apolitical, in fact, I believe in anarchism which is not anarchy, but never mind that. My philosophy is if the government isn’t fucking with me, I won’t fuck with it. I vote — I always vote — based on issues as much as I can. But, I marched for science today joining possibly millions of other people around the world. Why? Well, my personal reason is that my dad was a mathematician here in Colorado Springs, where I came up to join this Earth Day event. The second is political; the stupid “leader” of the Amurican people and his denial of scientific fact pisses me off on a moral level.

I like truth. I respect people who can say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” And, “Yikes! I’m wrong!” and “Wow! What is that? I want to learn more!”

So I went to Colorado Springs City Hall with my friend and her developmentally disabled son (though I think he might not be disabled, more abled in a new and original way). I made posters to honor my dad. They have a slide rule on them. 🙂

March for Science Mark and Me

The march in this small city had just around 1000 people — not bad for a small, right-wing city on a snowy, wet April morning.


Here We Are Again (or Still?)

Yesterday I learned that the MOAB was dropped on Afghanistan. Of course, I was horrified. So were some of my friends. One believed the third world war was on the horizon (I think we’ve been fighting that since 9/11).

Until yesterday I thought Moab was a place in Utah (that I like), now I know it’s the “mother of all bombs.” I guess they reserve the “F” for nuclear weapons.

Some thoughts…

First I realized last night that Obama did the same kind of things, but I didn’t pay any attention because I trusted him to be the president. Other people DID pay attention, and some of them ended up not liking him for reasons other than skin color.

Second, I was tossed into that paradox of nuclear vs. conventional weapons. I grew up near a major target during the Cold War where most of the B52s hung out and where there were nuclear — and other — weapons. A Minuteman Missile stood in front of Strategic Air Command Headquarters. It might, still. Since then, I’ve studied a lot of wars.

All bombs kill people. Ask Dresden. A bomb is a bomb. The difference is the “collateral” damage caused by nuclear weapons, yeah, I get that. Still, I’ve always been grimly “intrigued” by how we measure the “relative evil” of a bomb.

“Well, it’s not like we used nuclear weapons.”

“That’s true. Good on us.”

Third, since I was a kid I’ve been bewildered by the notion that it’s better to kill few people than many. I never resolved this conundrum. I started thinking about it when were were sitting around the family table in Nebraska, where my dad worked for Strategic Air Command. We were talking about the missile silos in South Dakota.

“They put them there, honey, because there aren’t that many people out here compared to New York City.”

“Don’t the people in South Dakota matter as much as the people in New York?” Even then I guess I had a loyalty to the empty spaces.

“Sure they do, but there aren’t many of them. A bomb dropped on New York would kill millions. A bomb dropped on South Dakota would only kill a handful,” explained my dad, but I don’t know how he felt about it.

I don’t get that yet. How in the world do you quantify human lives?

I have a lot of other thoughts about this, but when Old 45 decided to send missiles at Syria, a switch flipped in my mind. Whatever happens with him, his reign, his rat-faced family, the Russians, our economy, will happen and THIS little person out here in the back of beyond has a life to live.

Back in the day, when George Bush I started the first season of the Gulf War Show, I was very sad. I had friends, former students, in Kuwait. I don’t know how to explain my choices now, but what I did in response was take my collection of Yeats’ poetry on a hike with me (why?) and I sat on a hilltop and read poetry. On my way home, I stopped at K-Mart, bought a bare-root yellow rose, brought it home and planted it. One yellow rose to stem the tide. My desert island book is Candide. I think Voltaire was right; in all the absurdity, cruelty and wackiness of life, the best thing we can do is “cultivate our garden.”


Here we are, just past the cusp of Spring, daffodils sending cheery messages to passersby who say, “Love your daffodils. Really cheer me up” so I have evidence for that. And then, last night…

Spring snow.

I like spring snow. Bear LOVES spring snow. I let them out this morning and she leapt in joy to knock the snow from a low hanging branch over their yard. Sometime today we’ll head out into it, walking because I’m going to be stuck in my driveway. This is the best thing, a dump of wet snow like this means the seedlings (and seeds) in the fields get a jump start and the snowpack in the mountains gets a needed boost.

The other day on Facebook NPR posted that they wanted to hear from people in rural areas; they wanted us to tell them what we needed, what concerned us. They gave a phone number and I called and spilled the whole story as I know it. But, as always, as it was Facebook, there were comments.

Some city woman (I’m a city woman. I just happen to have chosen to live in a rural area) said, “They just want us ‘awful city people’ to pay for them. What do they give us?” I went a little nuts. Then I wrote, “We feed you.” I left out, ‘You twat.”

That unleashed a storm, a good storm, but a storm. And it’s true; many rural areas voted against their own welfare (ha ha pun ha ha) in the last election. My area went, pretty much like the nation as a whole. My state went blue…

It’s pretty simple. Urban areas have a high population density and a large tax base in relation to their footprint. That means better services, health care, transportation, pretty much EVERYTHING we don’t necessarily have in a place like this. So yes, urban woman, your tax dollars DO (god willing) filter their way to a rural area like mine. Thank you. When I lived in CA, I knew that of every $10 I paid in taxes, only $1 stayed in CA. That’s fine. That’s my “rent” for good roads, etc.

I then posted a comment describing what’s going on in the San Luis Valley right now (besides snow). The fields have been burned (some of them) and plowed. Some have been planted and are beginning to emerge with tiny green shoots. Lambs and calves are dropping in the fields. ❤ Yearlings are being auctioned off — steaks and burgers. Local “boutique” dairies are making cheese from the milk of their goats, sheep, cattle and yaks — yes, yaks. Yaks really like the San Luis Valley and they are pretty easy to be around having been working close to humans for centuries. I love them. What else? There are local guys making sausage. Hops and barley will be in soon if they aren’t already. There’s beer — both Coors and various fancy brews — and Budweiser. Potatoes are our main crop and we are second to Idaho in growing potatoes, particularly gourmet potatoes, you know, the cute little fingerlings and pretty purple ones? That isn’t even all. We have one of the largest solar farms in America and it’s growing.

For the privilege of having food on the table, urban people pay taxes. But we pay taxes, too, at exactly the same rate. There are just not as many of us.

I understand the resentment of the urban coastal people having had a president foisted upon them (foisted on me, too) for whom they did not vote. And they had to witness a lot of angry “rural” people at Trump rallies. I think a lot of the problem is the result of the media picking and choosing what they wanted to show. But the message — in spite of the result of the election — should have some meaning. I truly think that only desperate people would reach for the absurd promises of that scheister. In my message to PBS I said that I believed that people in rural areas could benefit from political education about how government policies — like the ACA — directly benefit us.

There many cultures in this nation — and not as a result of immigration. Down here (the San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico, a region as large as Connecticut) it’s a kind of cowboy/farmer/vaquero/campesino culture with a lot of old hippies and a few rich people mixed in. It’s unique in the US, I think.

Well, I guess I’ll pull on my boots and see if there is anything left of my daffodils to rescue.

Trump Junkies…

Three years ago about now I filed for retirement. I was in a hotel room in Colorado Springs and I had just spent the morning looking at houses. If I had been able to buy one that day, I would have. But, I couldn’t… It was what I needed, though, to wake me up to the fact that I was done and the chips would fall as they would fall.

I’m one of the lucky people. I ended up with enough money to move, to buy a house — well, acquire a mortgage — and to settle in a new place with an income that’s livable if tight. It includes amazing insurance, and, thankfully, so far, I’m also in pretty good health. I have internal and external resources, and I’m mostly happy. I’m still adjusting to this, though. One big difference between my younger life and this older life is the proximity of the destination. Another is my body doesn’t work as well and sometimes, often, that’s frustrating and sometimes it makes me sad. We spend a lot of our lives working toward the time when we’re not working any more. I loved my work, so it didn’t feel that was what I was doing, but still, I was doing that.

I feel that I’ve been very successful in my life. I have all that I need and a smidgeon left over. I have friends and abilities and, overall, a good outlook. Sometimes I can’t believe my luck because I didn’t plan this. I just fell into it. I’m lucky because I have three amazing dogs and live in a beautiful place. I feel like a rich person because I AM rich in things I care about.

I read the news often these days (it’s hard to look away from a train wreck) I wonder what Old 45 would make of my successful life. I’m pretty sure he would not understand it at all, no more than I understand his. Everything he has, does and represents is a huge mystery to  me. I don’t understand the desire for masses of external symbols of wealth. I don’t want power over anyone. I don’t respect anything he has ever done or been, but for years I taught people who did. Once, in the first year I was teaching Business Communication, one of my students  said, “Why should you teach me? When I get out of here, I’ll make three times what you do.”

That started an argument in the classroom. Some students said, “You need to learn what Martha has to teach if you’re going to make that money. Communication is everything.” The response was that if I could do it so well, why wasn’t I out there making the big bucks? Someone said that teachers don’t care that much about money. I just let them at it. I thought at the time that in their future, they’d be working with all kinds of people, some like me, some like them. They were unwittingly simulating a discussion between managers. When they were finished, the “winners” were the loudest, most aggressive and relentless.

It is an unbridgeable gap between the externally and the internally motivated. If Old 45 were to land his gold-plated helicopter at the park two blocks away, and walk around my neighborhood, he’d see “losers.” If he stopped to talk to the people out raking leaves, tending their bulb plants, chatting with their neighbors, picking up their mail, they would make no sense to him at all. He would not understand how my neighbors and I are happy with our lives and ourselves and what we do every day. He would not understand why I love my little Ford Focus that has only 30k miles and new tires.

The only way he can “understand” us is when he stands in front of a large crowd and controls their response to him. And they, caught up in the moment, may have forgotten that when they get home, they’ll grill hotdogs for their grandkids, talk about the old days and,  and worry about why their own children have been lost to heroin addiction. He takes them out of the reality of their lives for a while, and they’re thrilled to think that a big golden guy like that “understands” the problems of their lives. They year for the material things he represents. They, too, measure their value and success by external wealth.

Over the last couple of days I’ve read about a “crisis of despair” among older white people and the theory that that led to Old 45’s victory. I think there might be something to that, but the bigger, underlying problem is our idea that success is measured in externals. Virtue is rewarded materially, meaning if we’re not “good enough” we’re not going to “have enough.” I think somehow there needs to be a cultural shift away from this idea of “the good” but that cannot happen as long as so many of the disenfranchised whites are also buying into the church of money, Christian fundamentalism.

It’s a complex, intricate problem. Despair looks for a magical escape elixir, heroin or Donald Trump, the “First Time Free” man is always a con.


On Tonight’s Show…

Old 45 has a symbiotic relationship with Twitter and commercial television. He uses them to effect policy. Yesterday he did a promo tweet for a TV show, “Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.” It seems that “Judge Jeanine” was set up to say something Old 45 couldn’t.

That was, “Paul Ryan needs to step down…The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill … The one that he had seven years to work on … The one that had to be pulled to prevent the embarrassment of not having enough votes to pass.” (source)

First a government official shouldn’t advertise for a television show. Second, well, here:

“She added: ‘I want to be clear. This is not on President Trump. No one expected a business man to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of Washington and its legislative process.’

Anyone running for any government office should understand the “nuances, the complicated ins and outs of … (the) legislative process.” And if they DON’T they should accept help from those who do or, better still, don’t run for office.


As for the bill, the only way this will work is if the functioning republicans (not the Freedom Caucus) and the democrats get together and build something that will work and that the majority of both parties can vote for. Even more important, it should be GOOD for people. I don’t think some of the people in government (Old 45 tops the list) understand they are governing an entire nation and ALL the people in it, even the pink pussy hat wearing women carrying “Not My President” signs. Government subsidized healthcare really is life or death for millions of people in this country. It’s not politics at all.

Flashback and I Never Did Acid

Listening to the hearings this morning in which FBI Director Comey was asked a lot of (often very leading) questions by the House Intelligence Committee shot me back to the days of being a new college grad, unemployed and watching the Watergate hearings.

I kept hearing one hypothetical question after another and one question about the future after another and Comey consistently saying, “I can’t answer hypothetical questions,” “I cannot respond to that; that’s a hypothetical question” and the interrogator would respond, “No it’s not; I’m asking about the future.” Comey was very patient and (I believe) honest in those responses. He even said, “I don’t know,” when he could not have known. He took the time to explain why he couldn’t answer hypothetical questions, and that impressed me. Reality is always far more intricate than our imagination, well, maybe not more intricate than Old 45’s imagination which seems to be a raging machine of weirdness and paranoia. I think he did a lot of drugs in the 70s hanging out at Studio 54.

I don’t know what the results will be, though I know what came out of it. The election was manipulated by the Russians and Trump Tower was not “surveilled” by Obama. It remains to be seen if anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

I read an article yesterday that set forth the new dynamic in the world, no longer “Communism vs. Democracy” but “Authoritarianism vs. ????“. I honestly forgot the opposite as it was presented, but it’s NOT Old 45. ???? is whatever he’s not and Putin’s not and various other people were not… Are not.

The point interested me.

Still I cannot believe that only a year ago, in spite of the debates and the hoo-ha of the election, the country was working pretty well and relatively peacefully. I wasn’t checking the news every few minutes to find out what was going on with a deranged entity who claimed he was “my” president. I trusted the government to do what it did without my noticing it and I felt mentally and emotionally free to carry on my life as a famous writer, owner of dogs and resident of Heaven. What I watched this morning saddened me and I was — am — upset by the waste. Here are people who have a job to do, a job that (god willing) they never have to do because things are working as they should. Money spent. Work in other areas not done all because of Old 45.

Here’s a President who lies, who steals — his income that he vowed not to accept, millions of dollars a week so he can go to Florida — who accuses honorable people of terrible crimes, who’s surrounded himself with evil human beings, has put out a budget plan that cuts many of the small, good things my tax dollars funds, and who may have been involved in an act of treason. I believe he needs to be put on trial; he needs to testify under oath. I don’t see any other way to get our questions answered.

All we can do is what we are doing. As the Koreans say, “A thousand strokes of a feather will cut down a tree.”  Even the rednecks who voted for him are beginning to see that they will not have affordable health insurance under ANY of the plans that are floating around Washington now. Some of them say, “I still like the guy. I’m sure he’ll come around.” Yeah, well…  It’s hard not to try to save face, but when their diabetes meds are ripped from their hands, when their government subsidized jobs are gone from the face of the earth, they’re going to realize what, in fact, a more liberal government has done for them.