Anti-Nazi Movement

I’ve read and seen so much over the last few days that my head hurts and my heart aches. So much of it is based on incomplete knowledge (not that my knowledge is complete) selective memory, stupidity and blatant desire. Most of it ignores the fundamental fact that we are all on this planet together. Those of us in the US are in this country together, black, white, yellow, pinkish/red and speckled (that’s me), young, old, rich, poor, smart, stupid… We’re here. Right now. We all have to make a life. We all want a good life. We all know that shit happens all the time. There are booby traps down the road — sinister ones like cancer, car accidents, dead children, loss of work, divorce. We all know this.

I’m bewildered by the lack of pragmatism in some of my fellow citizens.  If my life is good YOUR life is improved. It’s really very, very, very simple. My desiring a better life for my neighbors (and working toward that in some small way) takes NOTHING from me but enhances  my little world.

For this reason, I do not understand racism. What’s the point? When I hear discussions about race, they often turn on little points of definition, semantics. The long term goal of our society should be the best life possible for all the people in it. What doesn’t work in that direction should be questioned by everyone.

I’ve never felt “white guilt” or been ashamed of being white. That just seems absurd. Some of my ancestors owned slaves. Some of my ancestors stood on board a ship and waited for someone to buy them so they could get off the ship. Some of them died on the way. Some of them died in servitude. They weren’t me. Universally all of them worked toward a better future for their children. All of us look at our lives and say, “I don’t want my kids to live with this.” We have all done that. Generation after generation has worked in its small way toward improving life for the next generation.

I think one of the most appalling things that is happening in the US now is that forward movement has been stopped by the fuckhead who “leads” the country. 

So what is forward? Peace is forward. Prosperity is forward. Education is forward. Medical care for all is forward. It’s not hard to know which way to go, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want these things. Each of us works in our own way toward these things for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.

It has nothing to do with politics, race, religion, age, nothing. It is human nature when it is allowed to blossom. 

My black students cared more about my skin color than I cared about theirs. I got that. My brown students, also, noticed my whiteness more than I noticed their “brownness.” In China, of course, I stood out like a sore thumb, but I also forgot about my own skin color at a certain point until I was reminded by a green-eyed man from Sinkiang.

Sometimes I feel caged by my whiteness. I grew up in a world in which Spanish was spoken and Mexican people were loved and admired. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t the same everywhere. I wasn’t conscious of my “whiteness” until my Mexican neighbor in CA pointed it out by saying, “You’re the first nice white woman I’ve ever known.” Wow. In one sentence I learned that I’m white and that whites can be assholes for no other reason than that they’re white.

I’ve been in the middle of a family broken by “La Migra.” I’ve seen what black gang fights and the desperation of poverty can do to people of all ages. I’ve taught young people with PTSD returned from fighting the hopeless war against terror. My life has shown me that every person needs compassion. Every person deserves the respect of curiosity about who they are as individuals. 

I taught a black kid about a hundred years ago. It was an English class. Rap was semi-new (it was the early 90s). My students wrote a weekly journal. This kid wrote about his favorite music. They all knew mine (because they interviewed me). I don’t remember his words exactly but he wrote something like this, “Hey Martha, you won’t believe this because I’m a black guy, but I also love punk rock music. I’m not sucking up. I mean really. I like hardcore, just like you. I got to see Jello Biafra last summer and it was amazing.” He felt he had to prove he was telling me the truth and offered creds to legitimize his claim. I slipped a Sex Pisols sew-on patch I’d bought but hadn’t used into his journal so he’d know I understood. It appeared on his hat the next week.

I believe it’s human nature to seek commonality — and we will as long as we have honest interest in others.

When the Nazis (or the KKK, or the MAGA douchebags) dress in a uniform they are saying, “I have subsumed my individuality to the morality of this group. I am the lowest common denominator. I have abdicated my right to self-determination. I am no longer responsible for pursuing the highest good.” They are no longer fully human — by their own choice.

It’s a huge responsibility being fully human. We work hard all our lives to achieve that. There’s an old man at the end of my block. He’s Hispanic. His kids are junkies, so he is raising his grandsons. He’s a lovely, noble, gallant, old-school Hispanic man of the San Luis Valley. He rides his bike every day for exercise. He tips his hat when I’m outside and he goes by. “You’re working hard,” he said one day as I was sweating and mowing the lawn.

“I’m the only one here to do it,” I said.

“I know what you mean,” he said. “Have a beautiful day.”

The fuckhead in Washington knows NOTHING about these individual people, but we all do. That’s where we live, in the grainy reality of human effort and ordinary kindness.

Disastrous Post

I live in an alternative universe in which workmen take on jobs and then never show up. I’m about to fire the garage door guy. I wanted to fire him last night in a voice message at his work phone, but when I called it, his wife answered and I hung up. Ha ha, that should give them an interesting conversation. Not disastrous, I hope, but interesting. Anyway, I’m torn between calling him and firing him or waiting for him to call me and firing him or waiting for him to show up ( ha ha ha ) and firing him. A little voice inside says, “Don’t call. He blew it,” but that reminds me of dating…

In other disastrous news, the US has, as a “leader,” a guy who doesn’t see anything wrong with his son having met a representative of a foreign and inimical power to get the dirt on the “leader’s” campaign opposition. This is a person with absolutely no ethical center. Such a person cannot be moved or defeated in any normal way. There’s no appealing to his “better” nature. “My son is a quality person.” Well, yeah. Low quality. The “leader” is not the disaster as much as are the people who elected him and the representatives who continue to support his bizarre and nefarious agenda. OH WELL.

Disaster was averted yesterday when Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog got out of the side yard. Once out of the yard (a major highway 50 feet away) Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog dived through the self-same lilac hedge into the front yard where Mindy was lying on the front porch waiting to be let in. It could have gone so wrong, but thankfully Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog has a strong attachment to her house, her pack and person. But she no longer gets to “run” FREEEEEE in the side yard. Her person has a strong attachment to her and doesn’t want a disastrous outcome.

Fourth of Whatever….

They woke me up before I wanted to wake up, damned dogs. Now they’re happy. They’ve been out, fed, given their morning “toothbrush,” and they’re back to living large. I’m sleepy and cold, wondering what to write for “dash” since I don’t dash, they don’t dash (particularly Mindy and Dusty don’t dash; Bear been known to dash around the yard). It’s kind of a “dashless” world I’m living in. I’d say Monte Vista in general is not big on the dash, maybe at track meets.

So here we are at the fourth of July — almost. Tomorrow. People are already shooting off firecrackers and fireworks. Dusty is actually taking the explosions more in stride than he was wont to in the past. The noise terrifies a lot of animals. Over the years, I’ve found lots of lost dogs seeking shelter in my yard. Once it was a beautiful German short-haired pointer, quivering and quaking against the fence outside my kitchen door in San Diego. I kept him over night then called Animal Control. Thank goodness his owner had reported him missing.

I have some philosophical and political thoughts of my own this Fourth of July, Every day I get disgusted anew by the antics of that ugly, stupid man. That a man with the poor judgment and lack of class to Tweet (I could just leave it at that) a video inciting violence against the media IN HIS OWN COUNTRY is allowed to speak to the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea on the phone regarding North Korea sickens and terrifies me. That the Republican leadership of this nation is not equally horrified sickens and terrifies me even more.

Anyway, there isn’t much I can do about it.

In other news, Bear’s most recent Barkbox included an incredibly cute toy — a sloth. I finally broke down and gave it to her, and she is tearing into it even as I write. She’s gotten the plastic squeaky part out, has shaken the life out of it and is about to proceed to the disemboweling. Fortunately, she doesn’t eat the fluff inside.


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.