Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

Real Food, Real People, Real Americans: In Praise of Organic Farmers

And yes, I know how elitist I am, supporting hippies…living on farms they tend with their own hands…

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2016: What We Lost

 

America lost it’s first man in space–a statesman and an astronaut. It also lost a formidable first lady, a supreme court justice, and it’s first female US attorney general.

Hollywood lost a sassy space age princess with a snarkey sense of humor. A famous mother lost her beloved daughter. A brother and son lost them both.

Mr. Ed lost his best friend. The Brady Bunch lost their Mom. Gentle Ben lost his human counterpart. Super Man lost Lois Lane. Bugs and Daffy lost their voice. Raymond lost his meddling Mom. Tootsie lost a suitor and Cool Hand Luke lost a cell mate.

Sherrif Bart lost the Waco kid. The Chocolate Factory lost Willy Wonka and Translyvania lost it’s mad scientist.

Boxing lost a floating, stinging heavyweight with a propensity for colorful prose. Golf lost it’s pioneering King of the Greens. Baseball lost a promising rookie and Tennessee basketball a tough coach.

The music world  lost a country legend, a poet, a pop culture prophet, a prince, and an orchestra’s worth of band mates and players in every genre.

Israel and Egypt lost peace makers and Iran lost a dissenting director. Cuba lost a revolutionary leader and America it’s most defiant adversary.  The Human Race lost an humanitarian activist and survivor of the holocaust.

Journalism lost a droopy eyed veteran reporter. Public Broadcasting lost a spiritual journalistic mentor with a radiant smile.

Literature lost the creators of Atticus Finch and Watership Down, and the Guyanese educator immortalized in “To Sir With Love.”

In Politics, Britain lost it’s union, South Korea lost it’s honor, and the Syrian People lost everything. The American GOP lost control of it’s party, and the US Democratic party lost it’s mind. The general American public lost their desire for civil discourse and their ability to discern truth.

America lost eighteen active duty military service members in 2016, and one hundred and forty peace officers, including three 9/11 first-responders. May they rest in peace.

And may we never see another year the likes of this one. Welcome 2017.

 

 

Me and Cosmo

The Author (on the right)

 

House Cleaning, Christmas Miracles, and The Wonderful World of The Old Man’s Imagination

My husband does believe in some things that I KNOW don’t exist. Like dishwashers that actually scrub a cheese omelet encrusted pan clean …

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Ho ho ho dammit

A wonderfully gentle reminder of what we must keep in our hearts this Christmas especially…by one of my favorite bloggers.

Aging Gracefully My Ass

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It’s been a weird lead up to Christmas here in AGMAland.

After going away to Germany and France last year in December, I swore that I’d never go away right before Christmas. Things just were too hectic; too discombobulated.

No time to do Advent devotionals or meditate on the the true meaning of Christmas. Ohmmmmm…

The Christmas tree went up late, the baking was done late and there were no AGMA holiday cards sent.

So naturally we decided to go away again this year right before Christmas.

We got home from Australia on 12/1, but we might as well have gotten back last week.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve hung 4 wreaths, put 4 fake poinsettia plants around the house, and put my 1964 scary stuffed Santa out. The under the tree manger set-up is still in our attic. Our artificial tree has been up for a week or…

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Christmas Television Viewing: Who’s the Grinch in Charge of Programming?

in lieu of getting drunk and throwing up on the Christmas tree, bring on the flicks!

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Joshua Dubois: What the President secretly did at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Acts of true courage, leadership and love by a man who will be sorely missed…

Vox Populi

Below is an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua Dubois, the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He’s recounting events that occurred Sunday, December 16, 2012 — two days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. Dubois had gotten word the day before that the President wanted to meet with the families of the victims:

I left early to help the advance team—the hardworking folks who handle logistics for every event—set things up, and I arrived at the local high school where the meetings and memorial service would take place. We prepared seven or eight classrooms for the families of the slain children and teachers, two or three families to a classroom, placing water and tissues and snacks in each one. Honestly, we didn’t know how…

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Our Silence

A powerful performance shared by a blogger new to me, that I think will become one I follow from now on. I concur. Pray for peace.

Uncle Spike's Adventures

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Time has marched on;
Many things have changed in our world;
Perhaps more so here in Turkey and the Middle East;
Sometimes, our silence says more than words.
– Pray for Peace –

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F Bombs, Soap and Water, and Cleaning Up a Dirty Mouth

I’m not like other women. I tend to avoid girly activities like lingerie parties, pedicures and spa days. I’ve had one manicure in 57 years. My girly sister treated me to it so I would be presentable at her son’s wedding. And Spa days seem so upper class, the kind of thing Paris Hilton might enjoy, but me, not so much.  I dislike that bitch. I also don’t watch girly TV, you know Dancing with the Stars or The Voice or Dr. Oz or The Bachelor. Wallows in lameness.  And I’m sure that if there is a hell, it is pretty much a 24/7 big screen in your face Life Time Network marathon continuously for all f’in eternity. Which makes me want to be really, really good. I have never thrown a “dinner party” or worn pearls, and I don’t wear earrings or diamonds or a wedding band for that matter, which is okay since the only place I get hit on anymore is in Nursing Homes and those guys are harmless. I’m old enough now that it actually stokes me a little. In summary, I am one cheap date.

It must be the male influences. After my sister Judy was born my four older brothers took on more responsibility for my upbringing and therefore had more influence on me. Mom was busy with her new baby girl and Dad had his job and his golf and was pretty much over kids by then.  At three and a half I  was already old news, a snot nosed toddler, likely with an attitude, so the folks must have figured if my brothers hadn’t killed me yet, they probably wouldn’t. And besides, they had another girl now, so I was no longer the charmed child in the family. I was expendable. It was possibly a questionable life choice for my parents to allow their four little gangsters to raise their oldest daughter. It certainly wasn’t charm school. There was a lack of proper feminine influence at a crucial time in my development is what I’m saying. That’s why I’m different. I’m sure of it. Then again I may just have a hormone problem.

I do know one thing though–my brother’s taught me to have fun. Lighten up, don’t take yourself too serious. They did this with a carefully planned curriculum, a combination of ridicule and the singing of belittling songs—music therapy of sorts. They were ahead of their time, experimenting with this form of treatment decades before it was clinically recognized as therapeutic. I was their cute little brown eyed lab rat. If I whined, complained, said something stupid, or was generally annoying in some way, which of course I NEVER was, it was turned into a song. Actually a taunt paired with a catchy melody, which made me mad, which resulted in more melodious taunts until I would fly into a rage and hit one of them and they would hit me back and I would start to cry. Which was the whole idea in the first place. Clever boys.

We were a very musical family. My brother Joe was the song leader. He was kind of a cross between Mitch Miller and Chris Rock. He made up dirty little ditties and we all learned the words and melody and sang along. I had only the vaguest idea that what we were singing might be inappropriate. What I did know was that we all thought our little songs were freakin hilarious.  I once made the mistake of performing one of our original compositions in the presence of my mother. Once. I thought she might enjoy the humorous antidote. She did not. Let’s just say she was not pleased and said she couldn’t imagine where I picked it up. I don’t think I finked Joe out, but Mom was smart, she knew a scoundrel when she gave birth to one. She did.

It really wasn’t until I was an adult and I would ask people “Do you remember the song “Hello to Gertrude?”, you know the one “She’s a horses ass……”, and they would look at me like I was a rabid squirrel with a dirty mind, that it dawned on me–NOBODY else’s family sang these songs. Just us. It’s actually pretty impressive. My brother Joe was a child protégé lyricist. He was cranking out completely original tunes and at such a tender age! All that time I really thought they were the same childhood songs every family sang amongst siblings. My childhood was so special that way.

Apparently Joe, who grew up to be a navigator on a Naval Submarine as a young man, was probably born to be a sailor. From all accounts, well, from Phil’s account of things, his mind was in the gutter from a very early age. And he didn’t seem to have a clue that his mind was perhaps lingering in places that the normal eight year old boys mind wouldn’t be visiting for at least another four or five years. He was very advanced that way. Adults generally held a dim view of his accelerated development, especially Dad.

But hey, lots of families enjoy singing campy tunes and we were no exception. Dad was a total ham who was known to, after a few drinks at a wedding, stand up and belt out a tune or two. His favorite was a peculiar version of the old tune “Pennies From Heaven.” Dads version was about a GI coming home from the war to find he has a newborn son, the punchline of the song being “every time I ask, you say, Bennies’ from Heaven.” So maybe it was an inherited gene or something.

And it didn’t help that Dad was a former drill sergeant whose language was peppered with four letter nouns, verbs and adjectives. I don’t think he understood how impressionable kids were. He certainly didn’t expect his beautiful daughter to grow up to be so intelligent, articulate and foul mouthed. I guess he figured I would take after Mom who didn’t swear much at all. Mom was so different from the rest of us. She had more grace. But like I said, she was busy with my sister and I was busy being schooled in the finer points of swearing like a slut and telling raucous jokes. I’m sure I could hold my own in a room full of sailors by the time I was ten. Sadly I never got the opportunity.

So I pretty much started dropping the F-bomb on a regular basis in around fifth grade, just for effect. It used to send my friend Mary Ellen into fits of laughter, which made me do it more frequently and with more gusto. Then her Mom would invite us in for lunch and I would be as polite and well-mannered as a Catholic schoolgirl eating lunch with the Pope. Mrs. Ryan would comment on my manners and grace, and at such a young age! Of course Mary Ellen would be snickering, poking me in the ribs and giving me these sideways glances as if to say “right, why don’t you drop one of those F-bombs right now you phony baloney.”

But I knew how to comport myself like a graceful, astute young lady when I had to. Mom taught me how to behave in public and I knew there was a line that should not be crossed. I learned this the day I watched her wash my sister Judy’s mouth out with soap when she was like four years old.

It was terrifying. Judy, Mom and I were home together and for some reason, it couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with me, Judy started randomly yelling the F word in her squeaky little voice.

Prepare yourself for profanity below the dotted line!

Fuck!

What did you say? Don’t say that!

Fuck!

I told you not to say that. STOP!

Fuck!

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!

I will wash your mouth out with soap if you say it one more time.

FUCK!!!

The first time she did it I thought it was funny and I was kinda proud of my little sister. But when she kept doing it, I got scared. Mainly because I thought Mom might ask her where she heard that word, (which would have been ludicrous because the F-bombs flew around that house like flies, especially when Dad was working on home improvement projects.) But I was afraid Judy might suggest that I had somehow inspired her enthusiastic utterances of the latest addition to her four year old vocabulary.

And when she just wouldn’t stop, I thought maybe Mom would wash her mouth out with soap and that perhaps my baby sister might die from soap poisoning and that it might somehow be my fault, and I would never forgive myself because I really did love the little twit.

So finally, after Judy screamed FUCK! About twelve times, Mom grabbed her puny little body and hauled her into the bathroom and lathered up her hands and slathered soap into her mouth and damn my sister didn’t even try to bite her. She just screamed bloody murder and cried and my mother yelled at her to NEVER EVER SAY THAT WORD AGAIN! For a moment I was worried she might yell it the minute Mom let her go, but she didn’t. She was lifeless, like a little puppy after a play date with a guy named Lenny.

I watched it all from the bathroom door absolutely stupefied. What the hell had gotten into that kid anyways? But I was also thinking what a good person she was because she didn’t bite Mom’s hand like some other bratty four year foul mouthed kid probably would have. I was a little pissed at Mom for over reacting like that too, and Mom was REALLY upset because she rarely lost her temper, but she clearly could not stand for four year olds dropping atomic F bombs casually around the house that way. So that is how I learned that there was a time and a place for profanity, especially F bombs, and it was not around adults. So now I only drop them around children.

©2016 by Ilona Elliott

Me and Cosmo

The Author (on the right)

The Politically Disconnected

So many of us feel frustrated with the election outcome. I know I personally feel like my pro-environment, anti-discrimination, pro-labor and worker’s rights politics are pretty much irrelevant now. Enough voters seemed to vote against that kind of representation that I must be out of step with my fellow Americans, right?

I’m unsure. I can’t shake the feeling that a large proportion of voters these days have a disconnect between their own values, concerns and personal beliefs and their choice of political candidates and parties.

I don’t think the folks I know who voted for Donald Trump consider themselves xenophobic, anti environmental bigoted crony-capitalists, despite having voted for a man whose life, words AND actions suggest that he is all of the above. There’s a disconnect involved.

Why would my numerous friends who consider themselves nature lovers consistently vote for candidates who exhibit little concern for the health of the environment, and whose policies promote large scale fossil fuel extraction over investments in clean energy? Why would they support these men who will happily turn our beautiful and wild public lands into mines, oil wells and gas fields, endangering our countries most fragile and unique environments in the process??? Disconnect.

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Last Years Fawns

And why would my female friends vote for a xenophobe? They would be disgusted by  a xenophobic supervisor at work, yet they went ahead and hired one to run the country??? Disconnect.

Why would my friends who work in union shops, enjoying the benefits of union protections and representation, consistently vote for anti-labor candidates? Are they completely unaware of how much damage their elected officials can do to workers rights in this country??? Disconnect.

Why would anyone who isn’t a racist vote for a candidate who denigrates minorities, women, and even the overweight and physically disabled among us??? Disconnect.

Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the scripture: Out of the heart, the mouth speaketh?

Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the words of Maya Angelou– “When someone tells you who they are, believe them…”?

Or, perhaps they don’t care what a candidate says about “others” as long as he promises to take care of them?

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Or maybe they are fearful and fed up, and want to shake things up? Change things. Any change will do. Like the Cubans were in 1959.

Many questions. I don’t have any answers. So I’m going with the disconnect theory.

Trump himself apparently has one great big disconnect between the things he says and the person he thinks he is, (and wants us to think he is). Sitting next to his wife Melania during a post election Sixty Minutes interview, he didn’t bat an eye, (neither did she), when she shared that her chosen cause as first lady would be to battle bullying. Interesting choice, considering her husband is famous for his bully pulpit politics and angry and intimidating tweets. But of course Donald Trump doesn’t consider himself a bully. He just acts like one. Most of the time. He also told Leslie Stahl, all innocent and wide eyed, that he thinks Barak Obama is very smart and the Clintons are good people, as if all the shit slinging and false narratives he’s thrown around about them for the last two years was all political BS. Well, of course it was. But he said it not some body double posing as him. Double Freaking Disconnect. (You can see the interview here. I found it fascinating and frustrating.)

This disconnect on the part of politicians and the voting public bothers me. With one exception, my own attempts to respectfully debate the issues with friends across the aisle are largely met with defensive silences or argumentative responses. I have concluded that it’s pointless to talk about politics. We have become an us and them society within the political arena. We are as separate as we have ever been. I gave up Facebook six weeks ago and I’m not planning a return anytime soon. The proliferation of false news reports so feverishly promoted there in the name of partisan politics sickened me. It was too reminiscent of the propaganda machines run by authoritarian republics during the last century for my taste. And the obvious delight people took in the vile accusations against their chosen one’s opponent, as if there was nothing you couldn’t believe and blindly accept and pass on (except anything positive), did nothing to assist the democratic process. I am interested in truth and committed to fairness. I found little of either. I refuse to be a part of it any longer.

Here’s what I am going to do in response to the political disconnect I perceive:

I am going to vote for candidates who have responsible attitudes towards environmental policy, who are intelligent, caring, hard-working and just human beings, whose policies reflect my values.I will not be a one issue voter, regardless of the import of any single issue. The world is too complex for that. I will not vote for cowboys, misfits or mavericks unless of course they exhibit the qualities I mentioned above.

I am going to keep the heat on the people in Washington, just as I have been doing, to make America a more inclusive/less repressive, more responsible/less destructive, more pro-citizen/less pro-corporate society. I’ll keep signing those petitions, writing those letters and supporting the causes I believe in.

I’m going to continue living my life according to the personal concerns and beliefs that are most important to me. I will recycle. I will shop locally and garden organically. I will maintain my voice and my integrity in my personal life, but I will not cast my pearls before swine in the social media arena.

I am going to stay engaged in the process, despite the frustration I feel with the outcome of this election, by speaking to the people in power regularly. I hope you will too.

I just shared my feelings about clean energy policy with the President elect through a link from a renewable energy activist group I support. Apparently, Team Trump has created a website designed to take comments from folks about how to make America great. Why not let them know how YOU feel, respectfully and truthfully, right HERE. (https://apply.ptt.gov/yourstory/)

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What she said, THAT’s what makes us great.

Sexual Assault and the Deplorables

I was sexually assaulted. In broad day light. On a bright and sunny afternoon as I walked to work in a middle class neighborhood in south Tacoma, Washington.

I was in my early twenties, working a retail job in a strip mall. I was walking down 56th street a couple of blocks from my home. It was such a lovely day. Two young men passed me on the sidewalk, one on foot and one riding a bike. As they passed, the youth on the bike grabbed my breast forcefully. I turned myself around to look at him as he rode away, shocked, embarrassed and angry. I yelled to him that he best never do anything like that again and turned back to continue on my way, badly shaken. There was a warehouse across the street from me where a number of men and women were taking a break, sitting on the landings smoking cigarettes. They watched our exchange. Not a single one of them, man or woman, made a move or any effort to see if I was in distress or in need of help. I walked on as fast as I could.

Then I heard him returning on his bike. He challenged me as to why he should never do that again. He followed me and we argued back and forth for a couple of blocks. He grabbed my breasts and my buttocks several times as I tried to walk away from him.  I was a young and serious evangelical at the time, used to talking salvation to people. I tried to reason with him as to the error of his actions. I tried to talk to him about Jesus. He responded with foul language and more painful grabbing. The longer he followed me and continued to put his hands on me, the more frightened I became. The assault ended when I realized the young man was sexually aroused by our interchange. I began to run. There were homes on the street where we were walking and I ran to the nearest one and rang the doorbell, crying. A nice grandfatherly gentleman listened to my story and recognized my distress. He and his wife let me sit in their living room chair, tears streaming down my flushed cheeks, as they called the police for  me. They said they had heard our voices on the sidewalk but thought we knew each other and were just arguing.

The police came and took my statement and drove me to work. The young assailant was long gone by then. I suspected he lived in my general neighborhood and wondered if the police would ever find him. Would I run into him again?

My breasts and buttocks were bruised and tender from the force of his attack. I felt victimized, violated and vulnerable.

I was still feeling that way a few days later when I spotted him in the parking lot of the neighborhood grocer. This time my husband was with me. We were able to track him to a side street before he ditched the bike and disappeared. My husband stopped to grill the boys he had been with. His friends Mother came out to see what all the commotion was about and gave my assailant a name.  And that is how the good detective assigned to  my case found him. He admitted his crime, was charged and ended up in juvenile detention.

And here’s the kicker and the reason I am disclosing this very personal information that I rarely ever speak of, so much so that my family doesn’t even remember it ever happened: I was relieved that it wasn’t worse. I was grateful that I had not been raped. I was glad it had happened in broad daylight in a neighborhood where I could run up to a house and find a nice but somewhat bewildered elderly couple to shelter me in their home until the police came. But I was also aware that a small group of people watched as I was grabbed by this boy, and as he followed me down the sidewalk, assaulting me, and did absolutely nothing.

Which is why when I heard the comments our President elect made about how his celebrity status entitled him to grab women by the pussy, the gall rose up in my throat. And it rose higher as grown men, and women, down played the ugliness of his words and the implications of his attitude. And it rose still higher as his followers and apologists ridiculed the responses of those who were rightfully shocked and angered by this new revelation of this man. This man who will soon be our President. As if it didn’t matter to them at all.

They reminded me of that group of people, smoking their cigarettes, putting them out, and going back to work while I was being sexually assaulted across the street. As if it didn’t matter to them at all. I hadn’t thought about the incident in years. But I am now.

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