Friday, January 27, 2017

I Think It's Time We Stop, Children. What's That Sound. Everybody Look What's Going Down

Before we start this weekend, I want to write about last weekend. Last weekend was the first time I felt hope for this country in a while. With the women's march, I finally got to see democracy at work again. If you don't understand why we have to march, please reference my last blog post. One of the first things T. Rump said when he got into office was that he was cutting funding for The Department of Justice's Violence Against Women Project. Since Trump's good buddy Putin just decriminalized domestic abuse in Russia. What is wrong with people? Anyway, tons of women were out marching and it was lovely. My friend Annie even put my name on her sign for the Washington March in solidarity. It sounds like there will be more and more marches in the future too. How else do we fight fascism? Anyway we can.

Since it was in the 50's, we decided to go on a nice, long, bike ride to Kalona. As you can see by the mud freckles, it was a little wet, but not too bad.

We rode to the brew pub and had a wonderful meal. While we were there, some friends of ours came in. They were at a pool tournament in Riverside and went to Kalona for lunch. While we were there, I mentioned to them that we were engaged, but we didn't want to tell a lot of people. Of course, our friend Dawn asked if she could take a picture of us and announce our engagement on Facebook. John agreed as long as she didn't tell people when we were getting married. In his head, if our friends knew where to find us, they would all crash our wedding and he wants it to be as small as possible. Like he says, "they require two witnesses and unfortunately, they won't let us use the cats for that..."

We headed home and saw many horse and buggies, but also a ton of bald eagles. We stopped to get a better look at one and John said, "Look at him. He's sizing us up to see if he can carry us off..."

We got home and Burne and our other friend, Adam came over and ate black bean chili and cornbread with us.

On Sunday I ran my 3.5 mile route and then got ready for another bike ride. It was colder on Sunday and the winds had changed and were coming from the North, so we headed for a very hilly 35 mile bike ride to Solon.

Man, am I out of shape on the big hills in January. We usually can't ride there this time of year, so it was "interesting" (read: sad) to see just what kind of shape I'm in...Or not. It did feel good to get out and ride for two days in a row and we got 85 miles in for the weekend. Probably the best I've ever done for the 2nd to last weekend in January.

We were happily surprised at Big Grove's Winter menu. The had excellent new salads and a Borscht soup. It had some kind of meat base, so I couldn't eat a bowl of it, but our friend Burne did and let us try it and it was really good.

On Sunday night, John went to play pool with his friend Bryan and I had a night alone with the cats. It was so nice to just chill out at home and read my bike and rest my weary muscles.

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night, So I Can, So I Can, Watch You Weave Then Breathe Your Story Lines

Those who study authoritarian regimes suggest keeping a list of abnormal events after a demagogue is elected, as a way to remind yourself that this isn't normal and to keep from being overwhelmed into acceptance by the onslaught of attacks on our rights.
Here is a list below. We are 4 days in.
As the author says, "when you see all of this in one list, it is easy to get overwhelmed, at first-- it is also easy to see a pattern and to finally, finally recognize that none of this is normal, nor is it ok."

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nothin', Don't mean Nothin', Hun, If It Ain't Free, No No

Poor John.

There are many ways that John and I deserve each other (take that any way you want). We've been together 6.5 years now and he is the only guy I've ever been with who hasn't made me feel like I had to cut off certain parts of my personality in order to be in a relationship with him. Most importantly, we think we are hilarious. Here are just a couple of conversations we've had in the last few weeks about our impending nuptials.

First conversation:

Me: You have two more days of freedom left. How does that feel?

John: This is freedom?

Me: (singing) Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose...

Second conversation:

Me: What did you say?

John: Nothing. I'm just being strange right now...

Me: Good. If you weren't strange, we wouldn't have anything in common.

John: I said, STRANGE, not PSYCHO.

Me: Okay, then. If you weren't BITCHY, we wouldn't have anything in common.

Oh, but we have fun...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oooooooo, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch. You Know That I Love You...

Me and my girls in D.C. This really has nothing to do with my post, but I didn't have a photo representation that worked.

I've been trying hard to be better about a few things for my health. One, is what I've been speaking about and that's alcohol intake. I'm not completely dry now, but I've got it waaaay under control. Good on me!

My second thing is trying to drink as much water as possible. I'm usually okay about it at work, but I get lazy with it at home. So, now I've been trying a lot harder to drink more water, and I'm doing better at that. I have asked John to remind me to drink water and I've been making sure I have a full water bottle sitting beside me when I'm reading or watching TV.

My third thing is the hardest for me. I have always loved sugar (salt too, but sugar more). I know it's bad for me and I feel like crap after I eat it, but that apparently doesn't stop me. Since it's hardest for me at work, where people bring all kinds of sugary treats, I started bringing a bag of raw, unsalted almonds with me and every time I crave sugar, I eat a handful. It's been working pretty well. As with the alcohol, I still eat some sugar, I just don't go ape shit over it...Right now, anyway.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

And When the Dark Clouds Arise, I will Stay By Your Side.

Us with silly props looking crazy.

So, this weekend we finally let the cat out of the bag. We had been talking about it for a couple of years on and off and decided it was as good a time as any...With John's condition that he's all for it, as long as we didn't have to have a party to celebrate it.

Of course, we look even crazier without the props...

A few weeks ago, we decided to get married. We've both already been married before, so we are keeping it as simple as possible. We will get married this Saturday with a justice of the peace, my girls and Archie if he wants attention (duh). We will then go get sushi for lunch with all of the above mentioned people, plus Stinky's boyfriend and our friend, Burne (our adopted son, when he doesn't have a girlfriend). Nothing will really change for us, except I get to change my name back legally for free and if I get bumped out of my health insurance, I will be able to use John's. Also, we're hoping for a tax break.

So, yea us!  We're pretty damn happy and we'll continue to support each other and love each other and call each other on our respective shit. It sounds romantic, huh?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Our Home, Yes I Am Home, Home is When I'm Alone With You

So, I wrote my whole travelogue posts, but what have I been doing since then? Inquiring minds want to know...Or else they can't be bothered, but I'm going to tell you all anyway.

I got back on Friday evening. We dropped Coadster off at Union Station, so she could catch a train for NYC to spend NYE there with a college friend. Stinky and I took turns driving home. We had a great time on vacation, but man was it great to be home. John and I stayed up talking until after midnight that night and that is REALLY late for us.

I also didn't run or ride bikes at all on vacation, even though we did average about 21,000 steps per day and one day walked over 23,000 steps. I didn't read a book either while we were gone, but I did educate the hell out of myself in other ways for that week.

The first thing I did on Saturday was ride bikes, go for a run and read 100 pages of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".

The other big news is that Coadster got engaged the day after she got back from her trip. They had picked out the ring in May, so it wasn't a huge shock to any of us. She isn't a fan of diamonds, so she wanted her birth stone. I'm not one much for jewelry, but even I know that it's gorgeous.

 I have spent the last couple of weeks spoiling cats...

...And reading books.

I also got to meet my friend Burne's rescue donkey named Mojo. I love him ever so much. Apparently, I'm a fan of jack asses.

So, things are getting back to normal at our place.

We even got my commuter bike all set-up. The cables broke, so we took it to the shop and got a new chain on, it's recabled, John put on new brake pads and I had the bike shop dude put on some bright red bar tape. Sexy!

I'm hoping to hunker down, start training for running and bike races coming up, get some work done around the house and get some book reading hibernating done during the next couple of colder months. There's no place like home. There's no place like home...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And Now My Mind is Working Overtime, It's Been a Looooooong Day.

On our last day, we got up and got moving by 9 so we could get to the Air in Space Museum before it opened and hopefully not have to wait in line very long. Although the line was long, it was a good plan, because I wait was easily doable.

We checked out the gift shop and I bought a pair of Einstein socks. When I went to put my card in the machine, it gave me the screen for a debit card, even though it was a credit card and not a bank one. the woman told me to put my car d back and try again, so I did.

We looked around at the flight stuff and then got a snack before we headed to the space stuff.

The space stuff was really cool too.

And my girls were very sweet about posing for dorky photos.

We headed to the Holocaust Museum and past an Art Museum that had some really cool sculptures.

The Holocaust Museum was very well done and of course, really intense.

I thought the section where they take you through the life of a Jewish child during the Holocaust was the most powerful. You really feel it as you walk through and follow the story. It's such a sad, sad chapter in world history.

While we were at the Holocaust Museum, I got a call and voice mail message. I checked it out and called back my credit card company because they said that someone made some weird charges. I thought it might just be that we were in D.C., but when they told me what the charges were, I knew I had been hacked. $300 on clothes? Me? I might spend that much on food...So, I instantly spazzed (one of my "strengths") and they stopped my card and took the charges off, but I only had one other card with me, which was Mine and John's joint account. We only put so much money in it to take care of bills and mortgage, so we only had $100 dollars left. It was our last day, but we still needed money for food for the rest of that day and the way home and gas to get us home the next day.

I texted John to ask him if he could slide even $100 more into our account, and because he is so wonderful, he said he just slid the money he was going to put in for next month a little earlier. Whew! I had to take the girls outside because the Holocaust Museum is cavernous with tons of background noise and I am quickly becoming a deaf old woman.

Because the lines were so long and we still had a few things we wanted to see that day, we never got to see the rest of the Holocaust Museum. We did, however, go to the National Archives and see one of the Declarations of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights AND the Magna Carta.

We headed to the National Gallery again. My friend Annie had told us about a great gelato cafe right before you get to the underground tunnel to go to the other art building. Since we never got lunch, we decided gelato would be a lovely meal.

The tunnel between the two building was its own art installation. So cool.

The other side of the National Gallery was most of the abstract and more modern art. Coadster doesn't really appreciate art that's just a colored piece of cloth or other things she could just do herself, but she does love Pop Art.

 Apparently, it was my day to see car art.

We headed out of the museum and went to the National Cathedral to meet my friend Kit. I met her back in the 80's during my activist days and haven't seen her since 1987. She asked us to meet her at the cathedral, but sadly, it was already closed. The outside was pretty damn impressive, though.

We walked over to a Mexican restaurant and had a lovely meal and a great conversation. The girls and I headed home early, so we could clean and pack and then we all just passed out in our respective beds. It may not have been as spectacular as our first day, and there were certainly some problems (one BIG one), but it was a very nice way to end our trip.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Free at Last. They Took Your Life. They Could Not Take Your Pride.

Stinky listening intently to President Lincoln.

Wednesday was a good day too. We decided to go check out Ford's Theater. its' free, but if you buy your tickets on-line, it costs $3 per person. We did that and were very glad we did. We also went on the first tour at 9, which happened to be another good idea.

We walked to the theater from Union Station, got there around 8:45 and there was already a line. They let us in, we picked up our tickets at Will Call and headed into the museum part. There were many videos and posters and information about Lincoln's presidency, the Civil War and John Wilkes Booth's plot to first kidnap him and then the change to kill President Lincoln instead.

We wandered around and learned so much and then headed to the theater for the presentation.

At first I thought, uh oh. A ranger standing on the stage and talking? Could be a regular snooze fest. Luckily, I was wrong. The ranger did get up on the stage and talk to us about what happened with Lincoln's assassination, but he was entertaining and informative and he told us fun details about how Grant was supposed to go with Lincoln, but Grant's wife couldn't stand Mrs. Lincoln, so they had to make up an excuse to get out of it.

After the presentation, they take you across the street to see the house where Lincoln died. there is another post death museum there and they talk about the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth and how delusional he was.

After we got done at Ford's Theater, we headed to Starbucks for caffeine and croissants before we went to the zoo.

I finally got a to see a live panda! Stinky wanted to see giraffes but we were told they were all in Florida for the Winter. What are they? Retirees?

We had a good time at the zoo. We all agreed that the reptile area was our favorite. We saw a snake eating another snake. EW!, but cool.

We went to the rain forest area for just a little minute, as there were birds just flying around and Coadster finds birds creepy. You can see her on the left of this photo keeping a safe distance.

We finally ate lunch and then headed to the National Gallery. We saw lots and lots of religious art and some other cool exhibits.

I'm a fan of the Impressionists, so we checked some of their paintings too. Right as the museum was closing and we were getting ready to leave, we found there was a whole other building to see. We would try to check it out the next day...Our last day in town.

We headed over to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was very well done.

While we were there, we saw a man with his daughter who was about 6 or 7. They went to each quote, his daughter read it and her dad asked her what she thought it meant. Then he talked to her about the meaning. Mostly about coming at the world with love, and fighting for justice and civil rights for yourself and everyone else who is being oppressed. It was so sweet and powerful, that the girls and I were close to tears.

On the way back, we stopped at what I believe was the World War I Monument? It was simple but pretty at night.

Then we went to dinner at an old firehouse. It was good for the most part, but the mussels on my seafood pizza were so overcooked I couldn't eat them. I tried, but they were like rubber. the rest of the pizza was good, though...

My friend Annie met us there. She lives in Virginia and is an activist and mom and an all around incredible woman. I met her on RAGBRAI a couple of years ago and I just love her. The girls had a great time talking to her too.

We headed home and cleaned watched another girl movie before bed. We went to bed early, so we could get up early and make the most of our last day in D.C.

I CanSee a New Horizon. Underneath the Blazin' Sky.

On Tuesday we got going pretty early. We wanted to get our Library of Congress library cards before we met John's family.

 I thought it was just going to be a library, where you went to some kind of desk, filled out the paperwork and got your card. Boy, was I wrong.

The building was gorgeous. Pretty much every little corner of it.

And they even had their own exhibits.

We spent way more time than we thought we would at the library.

The exhibits were engrossing.

We finally tore ourselves away from all of the amazing information and checked out what the actual library part of the Library of Congress looks like. We saw a woman sitting down there and as John pointed out, she was texting. I really want to go in there and read some cool shit if I ever get to go back to D.C. and if I do, you can bet your sweet bippy I won't waste that time texting.

So, we finally got our library cards and they are good for the next two years.

John's family rolled in from Virginia and we met them at the botanical gardens. If you look closely into the silver balls, you can see Stinky's bright pink jacket.

The gardens were lovely, but oh so packed. You could barely find a place to stand without people pressing you along.

We headed to the Native American Museum after that. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. The building was beautiful, but there wasn't much in it. Maybe I'm spoiled by going to the Herd Museum every month when I was a kid in Phoenix, but to me it seems like with so many tribes and so much culture and art and such a sad, sad history from all of us illegal immigrants who came to the US since the Mayflower and before and how badly we STILL treat the actual people who have a right to live in our fine country, that there would be several buildings of exhibits. I thought the gift store had more stuff in it than what I saw from the exhibits. A few of the exhibits I saw were really good and interesting, I just wanted more of that.

It was 64 degrees on that Tuesday and so it was really nice walking around. We ate lunch and then headed to the American History Museum. Stinky loved the African American exhibit and the First Ladies floor. Coadster loved all of it and was a wealth of knowledge any time we had questions about anything.

I was overly excited to see Julia Child's kitchen up close and personal like.

John and his family left us at the museum to get back to John's sister's house. John and his mom were flying back to Iowa pretty early the next day and they had to go home and pack. We definitely missed them after they left.

After the museums closed we walked to the Jefferson Monument, and walked and walked and walked...Even though our feet were killing us, we were lucky enough to see an incredible sunset behind it.

The monument itself was pretty cool too.

And we had this view on the way back. Not too shabby.

We took an Uber to the Georgetown area and hit another Happy Hour with drink and appetizer specials and I FINALLY got the crab cake sandwich I had been fantasizing about since we got to D.C.

 Then Stinky wanted to go the St Elmo's Fire Bar, which is really called The Tombs. We went there, but did walk around to some of the shops in Georgetown first, because we wanted to make extra special sure our feet would fall off by the end of the night...

Since it was just across the street, I made the girls check out the stairs from "The Exorcist". It was sufficiently creepy.

We took another Uber home and our driver was a very interesting character. She talked to all of the cars as if they could hear her through hers and their windows and I have never been honked at by so many people in my life. I'm happy to say that we made it home okay, though.