Politics

Family, Friends and Neighbors, Politics

Memories and a Recipe for the Fourth of July

Fourth of July, Me and Hector
Me and my neighbor, Hector

Dear Reader:

On this morning last year, I was sipping mimosas, eating “breakfast crack” and mingling with friends in my neighbor Cathy‘s backyard. I hadn’t really felt good about America since the 2016 election, but I love brunch and I was wearing my protest t-shirt, so I felt okay about celebrating.

I live in a home that’s almost one hundred years old in a well-established neighborhood in East Sacramento. It’s a holiday-loving neighborhood. Real estate documents disclose this fact to anyone looking to buy a home here. Large crowds gather for Halloween, Christmas and the Fourth. Last year’s parade was the 89th annual event and it brought residents out into their yards and visitors from all over the city into the streets.

Our beloved Governor Gavin Newsom made an appearance! I was absolutely devastated that I missed him. I’d wandered off with a group of ladies to meet the former newswoman and acclaimed author who lives right around the corner from me when  my husband spotted him walking down the middle of the street.

“There must have been security,” he reported to me, “but it wasn’t obvious. And, yes, he’s just as good looking in person.”

Well, that was 2019. Today, I’m wearing my navy joggers from Target, but I’ve got a new t-shirt: Biden for President it reads. The outfit amuses my daughter, because “You don’t even like him, Mother!” Let’s just say, he’s growing on me.

I wish there was a parade this year; I’d like to visit with Gavin.  I hope that next year’s parade is just as grand as last’s years and that I’m feeling proud of my country again.

Michele

“Breakfast Crack” is slang for Creme Brûlée French Toast…you’re going to love it!

Creme Brûlée French Toast

 

Ingredients:    

                                            

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 (8 to 9) inch round loaf Challah bread

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Cut 6 (1-inch) thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bring bread mixture to room temperature. Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

 

Politics

Dear Governor Newsom …

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom

Dear Reader:

My dear friend, Laurie Seidler, asked me to proofread her letter to a man we both passionately admire, because it’s not everyday that you write to the governor.


 

The Honorable Gavin Newsom Governor of California
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Newsom,

Are you getting enough sleep? You look drawn.

That is not a criticism, Governor. Far from it. I’m a fan. I think you’re doing a wonderful job ceaselessly working to protect the 39 million Californians in your care. You have my utmost respect and admiration. I worry about you because I care. It’s as simple as that. I love you, Gavin Newsom.

To clarify, when I say that ‘I love you’ I mean it in a purely platonic/maternal way. Although, let’s face it, you are the whole package: kind, caring, easy on the eyes, and soothingly science-y. If I’m honest—and I want to be honest with you, Gavin—put me in a room with you, Justin Trudeau and Anthony Fauci and I would spin in a circle like a short-circuited Roomba. (If you could keep that last bit to yourself I’d appreciate it. The Fauci posters already have my husband a little on edge.)

Seriously though, Gavin, I worry about you. You’re greying. (It suits you, but still.) You’re pale (like a sexy vampire.) And your voice is so… so husky. Are you gargling with salt water? Have you tried Throat Coat tea? Tell me if you need some honey because I will leap into my minivan and drive straight to Sacramento. I will. I have honey, and it’s all for you.

Say the word and, according to Google, I’ll be there in one hour and fifty minutes—half of what it would have taken pre-Covid-19!—plus two to five days for the test results to come in, because I want us to be able to merge our bubbles without shame, or guilt, or 14 days of isolation. Not that I’m likely to have even a cold because I’ve been sheltering in place like it’s an Olympic event. I’ve been very, very good, Gavin. I always wear a mask in public because, to quote you: “Together we can slow the spread.”

Once our bubbles have merged we won’t have to wear masks or keep six- to ten-feet apart. We’ll be free to be ourselves. But we can take any precautions you like because I want you to feel safe, Gav. I want you to be safe. I want you to guide us through this inferno and emerge Phoenix-like to mesmerize us with your informative and factually correct press conferences for years to come.

So, drink some tea, my Governor, and get some sleep. Sweet dreams, my prince.
Respectfully yours,

Laurie


 

I think my friend speaks for so many Californians… including me!

Michele

P.S. Can you spell S-A-T-I-R-E?!

Politics

Quit Facebook…NOW!

Quit-Facebook
There’s never been a better time to quit Facebook.

Dear Reader:

With a bit of assistance from my in-house tech support person, my daughter, I quit* Facebook last night and I’d like you to consider doing the same. I should have done this immediately following the 2016 election. Why would I want to remain on a platform that allowed Russian agents to buy ads designed to subvert American democracy? Why would I associate with any entity that demonstrably helped to elect a man clearly devoid of any qualifications to be president?

I’m new to all social media. I opened my Facebook account only three years ago when I started my blog. My tech consultant suggested that it would be a good way to let people know that I was blogging and that I might enjoy the experience of connecting with old friends. I didn’t find the site inherently appealing or pleasing, but it was a novelty. I received generous support from friends who used it to connect to my blog posts. I loved the baby photos and the puppy photos. I liked to “like” my friends posts and support their causes through birthday fundraisers. And, speaking of birthdays, I loved getting reminders so I could extend best wishes to my friends.

With every negative story about Facebook (and there have been so many) I thought about leaving.  But I have friends who love Facebook and use it as their primary communication tool. I haven’t wanted to desert them. Not without good reason. I now believe there are many good reasons to leave:

Despite being the largest media company in the world, Facebook refuses to fact check political ads or regulate its content.

Just think POTUS here! Beyond that think of the risks associated for thousands or millions of followers given false information about vaccinations or coronavirus. False information can be deadly.

CEO Mark Zucherburg has sided with our belligerent, ignorant, cowardly president to allow his site to be used to incite further violence.

He’s allowed a post to remain untouched that Twitter marked with a disclaimer for “glorifying violence.” Zuckerberg has come down on the wrong side of history. His employees are protesting his inaction with some resigning this week.

We have the ability to make a difference even if we are not part of the protests rocking America and the world.

I’m staying at home to protect myself and my family from the risk of contracting corona-virus. I disabled my account from my couch. I’m no longer contributing to a business that generates billions of dollars for a few and political opportunities for others at the expense of truth.

Finally, Facebook isn’t even sexy anymore!

In a 2018 US survey , 9% of respondents said that they had recently deleted their Facebook account, while a further 35% reported that they were using the social media platform less. Young people shun Facebook. There are so many other platforms available to connect with people. Sheltering in place has led me to discover ZOOM and, indeed, to re-discover the telephone. I’ve been emailing more and putting pen to paper so my friends can discover that they’ve got mail. TikTok has provided me with some comic relief and WordPress is overflowing with beautiful and meaningful content. The list goes on…challenge yourself to discover and master another platform.

If you’re unconvinced and can’t imagine a life without Facebook, you might want to consider the results of a recent study that showed that people who left the platform were overall happier. They saved time and then put that time to better use. They even reported that their moods had improved.

Leave Facebook. It’s just one small way to make a difference in 2020.

Michele

* They don’t make it easy to opt-out and they apply a 30 day waiting period before you’re officially removed (in case you reconsider)!

Politics

I Stand With Peaceful Protestors

Washington-HoustonGeorgeFloydProtest

Dear Reader:

For the past couple of months, my favorite trip has been to my backyard. Today the weather is cooler and cloudy. The skies are alternatively dark and light and I’ve been pursuing the sun.

Having found a patch of light and warmth, I sat listening to the water run in the fountain, smelling the jasmine in bloom and hoping to clear my mind. Nature has always been a reliable comfort to me. But, I couldn’t erase the images I saw on CNN last night. I couldn’t forget the president’s tweet this morning threatening protestors with “vicious dogs and ominous weapons.”

“You okay, ” my husband asked as he handed me a cup of coffee he’d brought from the kitchen. “What’s on your mind?”

“Ah, all of it,” I answered. “The burning buildings. Our cowardly, ignorant, incompetent president. The crowds. The masks. The lack of masks.”

People are taking to the streets in mass in the middle of a pandemic to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. And, as is the case always, there are those who are perverting the expression of free speech by using it as a license to destroy property, endanger others and create false narratives.

We sat last night watching the images of our country in pain as did so many others. Suddenly, it became familiar.

“I recognize that neighborhood ,” my daughter said.

CNN was showing images of protests from cities across the country. Suddenly we were in San Jose, California where my husband and I lived for 30 years and my daughter grew up. It’s the place my daughter still calls home…just 120 miles down the road. The protestors were gathering in the downtown district. We knew it well. My husband’s first post-college job had been in that neighborhood. We dined in the restaurants and celebrated in the hotels that make up the business center. We recognized storefronts and landmarks. It made the news feel more real.

Blacks make up about 14% of the U.S. population with only 6% living in my home state. I can not count a single black person as a friend. I have one black acquaintance, a close friend of my personal trainer, who I met at the gym. There was one black student in my high school. I’ve never had a black neighbor. My experience isn’t unusual. I grew up in an upper middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs. That’s where I’ve spent most of my life. The suburbs aren’t integrated.

I am a privileged white woman and I am ashamed of my country’s treatment and attitude toward people of color. I am saddened by the dehumanization of an entire group of people based solely upon their skin color. I am angered and deeply embarrassed by a president who exploits racial division for his own political gain.

I feel so incredibly powerless in moments like this. It’s a small thing, one voice, but that’s all I have. And, I will use it now to say that I recognize racism. I support equality. And, though I will not be literally standing with the peaceful protesters, I stand with them figuratively.

And, I will vote. Nasty women vote.

Michele

Politics

Protesters Hit the Street in My Neighborhood

 

stephon-clark-protest-sacramento46_wide-c5a1474635a22cc4364609ac5d82c78d03feeef7-s800-c85
Protestors gathered in front of my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.

Dear Reader:

Last night was not a typical night in my new neighborhood. My phone started ringing at 5 p.m. Neighbors were calling to warn us that the local chapter of Black Lives Matter had organized a march through our section of town to protest the shooting death of a black man at the hands of the police.

“I’ll bet this didn’t happen much in Carmel, ” joked my first caller. “Actually, it’s a first here…as far as I know, and I’ve been here for 35 years!”

Shortly after that first call, we heard a police helicopter overhead. My husband used a tracking app and we followed the yellow line as it made its way closer to our home. Suddenly it was over us and we heard the people in the street before we saw them.

We watched from the windows that surround our front door. It’s an odd sight to see a steady stream of people moving down the road. There were a couple hundred marchers chanting “Not a Gun” over and over. We stayed by the door until the last marchers passed. They were followed by a dozen police cars and several white unmarked vans that we speculated were filled with SWAT teams.

The organizers said that they chose our neighborhood because it is old, established, upscale and  predominantly white. They also noted that many city officials reside in East Sacramento. I only know one. I met him while walking the dog the day after Thanksgiving. He was giving his home the Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation treatment and I commented on how magnificent it looked.

“Well,” he shrugged, “when you have kids, you just do it!”

He’s the Assistant City Manager …and a father of three. We bought Girl Scout cookies from his daughter last month.

I do not have an opinion to share regarding the shooting, but I do have strong feelings about what transpired outside my home last night. Since the 2016 election, I’ve often felt simply ashamed of my country. But, last night I felt proud to live in a country that gives people the right to peaceably gather and protest. I wholeheartedly support free speech and that says something when POTUS regularly attacks the fourth estate.

I must honestly conclude by saying that I was also extremely grateful for the highly visible police presence.

Michele

 

 

Politics

Sometimes I Must Look Away…

and take respite in two offerings from PBS.

Dear Reader:

These are tough times right now, but not for men who may be wrongly accused of crimes against women as POTUS suggested this week. These are tough times for women and men of good character and conscience.

Yesterday our president mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford while at a rally in Mississippi and Esquire magazine provided the perfect headline for the story underneath his picture:

This Vicious Buffoon Is a Vessel for All the Worst Elements of the American Condition (I couldn’t have said it better, so I didn’t try!)

I watched the coverage of his speech with a mixture of disgust, anger, anxiety and sadness. I was born in 1960 and I’ve been a feminist* for as long as I understood what the word meant. My only child, Natalie, is 21 years old and I knew that she would not be leaving college and entering a perfect world before the 2016 election. But, I sincerely believed that our country had made significant progress toward our journey to equal rights for the sexes. I think most people took that for granted. Perhaps we have, but, obviously there is more work to do in our homes, schools and workplaces. And, most significantly, in the courts, Congress and White House. We are being reminded of our responsibilities to one another as citizens of a country based on the principles of equality.

I’ve got a theory for what is happening right now. Here it is. Imagine turning over a rock in your garden, dear reader. What happens? Well, it’s creepy right? Everything ugly comes crawling out into the light. Exposed. That’s what’s happening right now in our country. The ugliness has come crawling out. The “Vicious Buffoon” in the White House has given it license to spew its poison upon us. We must wholeheartedly reject the president’s message and the Republicans’ spineless response to the nightmare that has become our daily reality since the election. And, we must remember that the yucky things that live under the rocks are only a small percentage of what inhabits our beautiful land. We are a majority and we have power.

Speak your mind. Change a heart. Write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor. Make a donation. Speak your mind, again. Stay engaged as much as you can. And, when you simply cannot take it anymore, pour yourself a glass of vino and tune into PBS for Poldark and The Durrells in Corfu. We all deserve a break!

Hugs,

Michele

* According to Merriam-Webster, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Politics

Stupid Stuff or Attempted Rape…What Were You Doing in High School?

Dear Reader:

You may have heard or read in the New York Times that:

“The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under mounting pressure from senators of his own party, will call President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault before the committee on Monday for extraordinary public hearings only weeks before the midterm elections.

The hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist in Northern California, sets up a potentially explosive public showdown that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in an episode that riveted the nation and ushered a slew of women into public office.”

I was 31 years old when Anita Hill was persecuted for telling her truth. I was riveted by her testimony and repulsed by the Congressional response. I’d liken the feelings I experienced then to the feelings I experienced when our current POTUS was elected. I can only hope that we’ve really progressed to a point that character matters and the definition of “character” encompasses how men treat women.

But, I’m dubious. I hear lots of comments like this one culled from the Wall Street Journal : “Well, if he did this, he was so young. We all did stupid stuff in high school. Why does it matter?”

Let me just ask then: Would it matter if Kavenaugh held up a liquor store in high school? Would it matter if he held a bank teller at gunpoint and requested she hand over the cash? Would we care if he stole a car or lit the neighbor’s house on fire? I wonder???

It seems to me that crimes against women are simply not important to this nation. We don’t take women’s accusations seriously. Let’s see, goes the thinking, he tried to rape a 15-year-old girl when he was 17- years- old? Hmmmm….well, that was a long time ago.

Um, let me just say: I did stupid stuff in high school. Nothing I did was violent. I don’t think anything I did would preclude me from serving on the highest court in the land. How about you? Attempt to rape anyone in high school? Attempt to rape anyone after graduation? Ever attempt to rape anyone? Does it matter? I really hope so.

We need a hearing. We need to acknowledge that crimes against women are FIRST AND FOREMOST….CRIMES! If the accusation is credible and believable, this man does not deserve a place on the highest court in our land.

Michele

Politics

Class Meets Crass

cheers
Cheers!

Dear Reader:

I’m watching CNN’s coverage from one of my favorite places: England, or more precisely, Windsor Castle. Everything about our mother country makes me happy: the tea, cream, museums, gardens, china, architecture…language. But, I digress. You know I’m an unapologetic Anglophile.

I am also in awe of the Queen. Now, here’s a woman who took the hand she was dealt and played it beautifully. Sure, there are perks to being a royal, but she’s 92 years old and still on the job! How many of us can say we could muster that amount of energy year after year to perform a job that we did not choose?

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Windsor Castle twice and, on one of those visits, I was lucky enough to see the Queen as she left for Royal Ascot. Today she is hosting POTUS there.  I can not help but feel sorry for her. I’ve read about her diet that includes four alcoholic beverages per day. I’d just like to say that I hope she’s being served a couple extra glasses today. I’d need a proper fortification to endure a meeting with POTUS!

Cheers to Her Majesty the Queen! Long live the Queen!

Michele

Creativity, Politics

My First Troll

 

Unknown-13

Dear Reader:

I’ve been trolled! After 16 months of blogging, I received my first hateful comment. The writer thought my guest post A Gloomy Fourth was “treasonous” and as such I should be “put down by an American patriot.”

Whoa…it felt a bit like a kick to the gut.

I immediately sent a text to my friend and technical consultant, Kristin. I needed her to talk me through this.

Me: First troll; see my site!

K: So funny. I’m watching Trolls 2 with the girls right now…how random!

Me: Should I be afraid?

K: No, trolls are everywhere. I’ve deleted it.

Now I know how it feels to be trolled…just another first for me at the tender age of 58. You won’t see any changes to my site as a result of this experience. I’ll continue to devote most of my posts to the things that I love: family, friends, doxies, flowers and fitness. But I won’t shy away from expressing my opinions about politics when I feel compelled to do so. That’s what true American patriots do.

Fellow bloggers, have you had a visit from a troll?

Michele

Politics

Guest Post: A Gloomy Fourth

Unknown-11

Dear Reader:

As the holiday weekend comes to a close, I’m reflecting on why I didn’t feel like wrapping myself up in the flag this year! No mystery. Adele, a blogger I admire, sums it up perfectly. Despite the fun in the sun, it was a gloomy fourth.

Michele

 

Teacups and Tyrants-Adele Fasick looks at people, books, and history

Those of us who are old enough may remember a little verse by Sarah Cleghorn that we heard in school:immigrant child

The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

That verse popped into my mind yesterday as I heard the news about Congressmen (and women) leaving Washington this weekend to go back to their districts for the Fourth of July celebrations. Some of them are no doubt headed for golf courses. And meanwhile we have thousands of immigrant children being held in detention centers, separated from their parents, wondering what will happen to them. While our representatives celebrate the past glories of our country, they have not taken the time or made the effort to fix the immigration system so horrors like this do not occur.

This has been a bad year for America…

View original post476 more words