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Impeachment Day Flood

As I write, Nancy Pelosi is explaining to the House why President Donald Trump ought to be impeached and, in the night, the Mary's River spilled its banks and flooded our lower meadow.  The new John Legend song comes to mind, the one which has become my private Pandemic/Trump-era anthem: "Never Break."


As the water rises

And the mountains shake

Our love will remain

We will never break.


Because here we are, still together, still watching history go by. We fell in love the Spring of the Kent State shootings, and bought our first TV the summer we were married, specifically to watch the 1974 Watergate trials.


This fine man I signed on with forty-seven years ago is not wasting time being romantic, though.  He's taking up the electric cords for the outside Christmas lights which we've been leaving on purely as a mental health measure.  He's worrying who's in charge of warning the occupants of the ever-growing sprawl of tents at the homeless encampments  two miles downstream in town that they'd  better move.  At Wake Robin Farm, though, his first priority, our four-year-old grandson, has just arrived to set up the wooden Brio trains.


As for the pandemic, our daughter-in-law, a vet in Portland, got her first shot yesterday, so we know the vaccines are out there.  We have hope.


Hang on, everybody! 

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Random Thoughts in Random Pandemic Times

Early in the summer I received an email from a frantic woman in Texas.  She was halfway through reading my memoir about prescription med withdrawal-- Accidental Addict--and had to know, DEMANDED to know: Was I well?  Honestly well?  She needed me to answer her immediately or she just couldn't go on.


Of course I was happy and grateful to be able to deliver the prompt reassurance that yes, despite the desperate depths of my illness in those years, I am now fully healed, and she will be too, given time. In our subsequent exchanges, I asked about the state of the pandemic in her area. She thought the whole thing had been exaggerated, and she was out the door to meet a friend for lunch at a restaurant.  I asked if she didn't find it pretty convincing  that  60,000 people had died, the tragic number at that point.  She didn't answer this directly, but in a later letter referred to my "fear of the Covid."


I wasn't afraid of Covid. I just believed it was real. And I've been determined from the start that I wasn't going to get it. I bring this up because it made me realize this was my first and only personal contact with a person outside the lovely bubble that is my own very blue Benton County, Oregon.


I'm proud to say we still have one of the lowest infection rates in the country.  Why?  Because we're a highly education and solidly Democratic population and nobody believed President Trump for one minute when he said we had nothing to worry about.  We hunkered down immediately and when masks were shown to be helpful, everybody started wearing them. That's it.  We are blessedly free of yahoos in jacked-up trucks, flying flags and Trump banners, mocking  masks and calling people chicken for trying to keep themselves and others safe.  In fact, my friends and I have noticed the handful of Trump lawn signs actually coming down in recent days.


As the lockdowns began in the spring, prescriptions for Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications soared, and I shuddered for those people who started desperately swallowing the poison.   Of course Xanax helps immeasurably right this minute, and who hasn't been freaked-out over everything this  crazy year has delivered? But I'm so hoping those folks stopped these meds after the recommended limit of two weeks and found other ways to cope; otherwise there is going to be hell to pay as a sizeable portion of our population who may have eluded  or survived Covid now go into benzodiazepine withdrawal.  Watch: It won't be long before people are posting reports that their benzo withdrawal is way worse than anything Covid anxiety or even Covid itself delivered.


A haunting parallel to the sufferings of benzo withdrawal  are stories from the so-called Covid "long-haulers" who can't seem to fully recover.  Neurological damage seems to be involved.  The chronic fatigue and brain fog they report sound eerily familiar to benzo survivors  and so much like what I went through after stopping Xanax.  These victims of Covid are appalled to still be sick after three or four months.  I was sick like this for several years.  Not interested in a repeat.


Damage to my precious brain is nothing I care to mess with, and as much as I miss restaurant lunches with friends, it's simply not worth the risk to me. The silver lining here is that my "long-haul" recovery from Xanax served as training for this pandemic lockdown.  I was actually more isolated in those times, being sick on my own, than I am now when everybody's going through this together, if separately.  My self-care plan of yoga first thing every single day without fail etc. was already firmly in place when all this hit, and "working my program" while I feel perfectly fine as opposed to  doing it while sick is a great contrast and serving me well.


The first order of business for our poor country  is to get rid of a President  who has made this whole thing drag on so much longer and be worse for so many people by insisting we pretend Covid isn't out there.  If ever the expression "blood on his hands" applied, it's here.


My heart breaks for the elderly who are locked in solitude and dying of isolation so that Donald Trump can keep up the fiction of his thriving economy.


Special place in Hell for him, I think.


Or jail.  


In the meantime, let's hunker down, wear masks, and get this over with.


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Lock Him Up

You probably don't need me to point out that President Donald Trump has come completely unhinged. He's always been a raging, narcissistic psychopath, but now he's a psychopath on steroids.  God help us!


When he started raging around about busting out of Walter Reed and claiming he felt better than he had in twenty years, I thought, Whoa, I know that feeling, and then on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta remarked that people all over the country who've been on steroids are now nodding in understanding.




I was in the middle of writing a rough draft of my memoir Wedding in Yangshuo when my doctor put me on a course of prednisone, a steroid, for a suspected ear infection. She warned me I might feel extra energetic.


Ha! I went completely manic. Instead of an eked-out thousand words a day, I wrote THREE thousand.  I didn't sleep.  The best part was that I knew I was brilliant. I was writing the greatest book ever written. It would be a lot like Eat, Pray, Love, I figured, and people would travel to my daughter-in-law's hometown in China and make her mother's charming little hotel famous!  But why stop there? It would probably improve the economy of all of Yangshuo!!! And oh, look, what a beautiful silk dress on the Johnny Was internet site!!!  I should buy it! !! It would be perfect for when  I walked the red carpet when my book was made into a movie!!!!! A movie that would probably win an Academy Award!!!!!!!!!!


Unlike Donald Trump, though, I was—even under the influence of these drugs—self-aware enough to suspect what was going on. I did not actually buy that dress. After one phone chat with my mother, I stopped calling people. I could hear myself sounding crazed. I didn't leave the house. I just rode that crazy bucking bronco around my office until the pre-arranged tapering doses ran out and I came back down. 


Reporting to my doctor later, she was alarmed. "Why didn't you tell me?" Well, I would have, if she'd phoned and asked, because I can't lie to save my soul. But she didn't. And, honestly?  I was having too much fun to complain. I felt a little sad when she said she was putting on my chart that I must never be given this stuff again. When I mourned that I had been so productive in my writing, she said, "Yeah, but was what you wrote any good? Because we had one guy on this stuff who wrote a lot and then he never quite came back."


They say a writer is somebody on whom nothing is lost, and I tried to pay attention to how all this was working as I lived it. Prednisone didn't give me any better words to use. It didn't provide a more interesting story to tell. What it did was allow me to get out of my own way.  I did not waste the time I—and many  writers, I suspect—usually do on beating  myself up with negativity. No way! With chemical permission to feel brilliantly confident, I just barreled on through and nailed down those words at three times the pace I normally would.


But Donald Trump. The guy is already crazed with his own grandiosity. He cannot hear the horror of the things he says.  Maybe he needed these drugs to save his life, but a mind like his, under the influence of drugs like this, has no business calling the shots from the oval office. It's dangerous. It's scary. Isn't there anybody back there who can stand up to him? Apparently not.


We should lock him up. And then VOTE HIM OUT. He talked about draining the swamp. Instead, with everybody around him dropping from Covid-19, they'll have to fumigate the White House.

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Mary Trump Speaks Up

Apparently many people are finding solace in reading books during the pandemic, and I certainly expected to.  When Oregon locked down in March, we bought a stack of hardbacks at our local independent, Grassroots Books, and while my husband has been through a dozen, I have been embarrassed that I just recently finished my first. I felt better when a dear friend, gobbling a book a day in a small room in San Francisco, pointed out that, here at Wake Robin Farm, I have no need to escape. And she's right.  Rather than seeking distraction, this beautiful time of the year here makes it easy to try for the living-in-the-moment thing.


While America's on fire with the virus and violence, and all around people are suffering, I'm feeling oddly optimistic. Surely we will be rid of Donald Trump shortly and can begin to build the better world we all want. I've read Fear, by Bob Woodward and one of the other more forgettable Trump titles, and when I heard Mary Trump was publishing her story, I was thinking I shouldn't waste another minute of my precious time letting this odious man occupy my brain space.


But then I saw the picture of Mary. Brown-haired—not blond or orange. Steely blue eyes. Serious looking. And hey, her name's Mary, the favorite name I gave my daughter.  And her mother—another persona non grata with the Trumps—is Linda.  And she has a PhD. in Psychology. I decided to read the book to honor her. If someone is bravely willing to speak up, I will listen. Exciting, knowing that as the book was downloading onto my Kindle in the wee hours of the July 14th publication day, it was doing the same in tens of thousands of other Kindles across the country.


Of course nobody has to read any of these books to hear the most salacious details. The press will help out with that. Everybody's heard by now, for example, that Trump paid somebody else to take his SATs. Big surprise.  But what Mary's book does that none of these other accomplish is to explain why this man is the way he is, how all his worst traits are so deeply embedded in him by birth and upbringing. For over three years now we've had to hear the talking heads repeatedly pleading for Trump to express more empathy, not be so tone deaf, just be honest about the pandemic and tell people to wear masks etc. It wouldn't take that much, they'd argue, for him to rise to his position as president. For myself, I've never been able to understand how anybody could hold out the slightest hope he would change. He can't say the right thing because he doesn't think the right thing.  He doesn't feel the right thing.  Mary Trump explains the hopelessness of imagining he will ever be any different.  She lays him bare, and calls out all the enablers who have helped make this reign of terror possible.


For people like me who are more interested in family dynamics than politics, Too Much and Never Enough makes a fascinating read. Sure, people will always be quick to say Trump's niece just wanted to make money writing a book. As if  anyone can write a book. (Trump can't. Never wrote any of his own.) Donald-like, they'll call her a little ingrate who already got plenty of money from being a Trump. But it's clear to me it's not about the money. It's  about being  a member of a patriarchal family where women are told to sit down and shut up and finally deciding you won't. I find her act of defiance in publishing this book thrilling. And Trump is already living up to his billing as a bully, dishing out the childish taunts: "She wasn't a family favorite. She was a mess. Our parents couldn't stand her etc."  In other words, get busy cowering because we will continue to shun you.


I loved Mary Trump's interview retort, that since Trump also called Nancy Pelosi a mess, she figured she's in good company. You are, Mary. So thanks for speaking up. Thanks for putting the good of the country over some sick notion of family loyalty.  Thanks for doing the right thing.


Which reminds me of words of comfort I've recently encountered from an unexpected source. Like most little girls in the country, my granddaughter is smitten with all things Frozen, and I've been listening to the soundtrack in order to be up to speed when she visits soon. These lines by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were written pre-pandemic, but seem hauntingly appropriate to one of the current prevailing moods in the country:


I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing

And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing


I wonder if any Republicans have little girls or granddaughters playing this music. If so, pay attention! Read Mary Trump's book. Believe her honest words. Face that you have shackled yourself to a fake sort of human being and forced us to bear the weight of his presidency. Nothing can be done to change Donald Trump, but is there any hope for you?  Just stop enabling Donald Trump--maybe the biggest mistake of your life--and do the next right thing. 


Of course, at this point, having passed up the chance to vote for his impeachment or ever stand up to this big baby of a tyrant in any way, all that may be left to you as the next right thing is to make a flying rat-leap off this sinking ship. 


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Love & Angst in the Time of the Coronavirus

I closed my last blog post with the promise of a report on my reaction to American Dirt, but the plot points in the Story on Planet Earth have moved forward so quickly, it's not what's been on my mind.  I'll bet the same is true for others, too, although I hear they're going to beat up the author, Jeanine Cummins, on Oprah pretty soon.


Before I started reading, I set aside the various reviews. I already understood the basic controversy, but I thought I should make make up my own mind.  My husband read the reviews and articles and wrote what he predicted my opinion would be on the back of an old envelope, folded and taped it shut.


I started reading and found the writing gripping.  After two chapters, though, I put it down and went for a walk.  Then it hit me: I didn't want to read any more of it.  Which seems to me like a good reason to quit. I didn't want to be gripped in this way.  So I ripped open my husband's prediction and here's what he had scrawled: I predict you will quit American Dirt early on.  Too violent.  A bloody chase story won't appeal.


Ha!  I loved this, that I'm married to a guy who knows me this well. So I will spare you my thoughts on so-called "cultural appropriation" and the intensity of envy among writers.


So now, here on the farm, we're watching the story of the Coronavirus unfolding.  I'm always struck by what this means when you've been married to the same person for almost 46 years.  We've watched history together.  The winter before we were married in 1974 there were lines at the gas station.  We were trying to fill our tanks to get up to the Cascades and go cross country skiing with my parents, something which, in retrospect, I realize was way more important to them than it was to us. At the time, I remember only thinking that if the gas ran out completely and we couldn't go anywhere, I just wanted to be in the same place with Herb, preferably at Wake Robin Farm, the property he had just bought.


Well, here we still are.  We bought a TV to watch the Watergate hearings the summer after we were married.  The twins were in kindergarten and we were putting in a new lawn in the backyard during the Clarence Thomas hearings.  My rage over the treatment of Anita Hill was white hot, and I will never forget or forgive Joe Biden's role in all that.  We drove the twins to high school on the morning of 9/11, then came home and stood in that same backyard, marveling at the quiet of the skies with all planes grounded. And what about our older son in China?  What would all this mean for our family?


And that same son was in Hong Kong at the epicenter of the SARS epidemic in 2003.  Seventeen years later, here in Corvallis with his Chinese wife's family still in Yanghsuo, skyping their anxiety, maybe he understands a little better how terrifying this was for us. 


We can go further back in our history and retell the story of how my husband's great-grandfather died of the Spanish Flu of 1918.  Because of his death, Herb's grandfather, enlisted and ready to be shipped to WWI's European front, was, as an only child, kept home instead.  A true example of the good luck/bad luck Chinese story of the Lost Horse. Without that Spanish flu death, Herb's entire line might not have existed, around 23 descendants now living by my count.


I was completely calm about the Coronavirus at first.  Staying home is what we like to do and we had no travel plans to cancel.  But it started to seem more anxiety provoking when somebody tested positive in Lake Oswego, Oregon, the town where our pregnant daughter-in-law works as a veterinarian.  Other links started cropping up—the elderly aunt just a stone's throw from the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.


So, just hanging on tight here, staying calm, and then my heart gets stomped by Elizabeth Warren having to drop out of the Presidential race.  I can't stand it!  I hate the language describing her "poor performance in recent elections." Her performances, to my mind, were always brilliant.  The poor performances were by the people who ran, lemming-like, in fear of Trump over the cliff of Joe Biden.  Yeah, like a lot of women, I take this personally.  It's such a slap in the face to all the girls who were the smartest in their class and always got told to shut up and sit down.  It's like they're saying IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW SMART YOU ARE OR HOW HARD YOU TRY, WE WILL NEVER VOTE FOR A WOMAN! YOU CAN NEVER WIN!


I so wanted to watch her kick Trump's butt on the debate stage.  Now we're stuck with these two old farts.  I will vote for either of them over the despicable Trump, of course. As folks have said, they'd vote for Mickey Mouse over Trump.  They'd vote for a paper bag.  I just hope both Sanders and Biden have the wit to beg Elizabeth to be their running mate, because I believe she could set this ship straight as VP to either one of them.


Sigh.  Well, nothing to do but hold on and take comfort in the fact that I have been married for 46 years to a darling man who has said all along that Elizabeth Warren is obviously the smartest and best candidate in the Presidential race. 


So hang in there.  I wish you healing if you're ill, continued good health if you're not.  If you're quarantined, I hope you're with somebody you love.  Most of all, I wish us all freedom from the depressing, soul-crushing tyranny of the liar, liar pants-on-fire Presidency of Donald J. Trump.





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Nekomah Creek: Life Imitating Art

During a recent overnight with our grandson at Wake Robin Farm, I was  lucky enough to experience one of the high points of my life as a writer.  Nolan, 5, asked  for another shot at having me read my novel Nekomah Creek to him.  We'd started in twice before, but both times he'd informed me early on that he just wasn't ready for it.  But this time, he was laughing his head off and kept begging for one more chapter. Yeah, okay, he was mostly squealing in delight at the low-hanging comedy fruit of food being thrown by unruly children, but still, it was my book and my grandson, enjoying a story based on his own father's childhood.  I ate it up.


I wrote Nekomah Creek ( Delacorte Press, 1991) in an effort to show my oldest son Miles that I truly was sympathetic to the impact of baby twin siblings on a kid who'd been functioning as an only child for almost seven years.  By the time it came out, though, Miles was in middle school and mainly wanted to distance himself from his writer mother and any book purporting to explore his private thought processes.  "Robby Hummer is you, Mom, not me.  You put your thoughts in his head."


Well, he had me on that.  It's true for any writer doing a first person story about anyone other than themselves. Robby Hummer was my best effort depiction of Miles at nine, but I consciously added something of myself to the character, a creative streak that was definitely not Miles.  In the book, Robby Hummer, gets deeply engrossed in making a diorama showing his house and the bridge over the creek.  That was definitely me, and it was spooky almost, to be reading this to my grandson, because he's the one who has my genes along those lines, and seems more like Robby Hummer in this way that his father.  I had told him stories of a Japanese doll garden I'd made as a child, complete with a tin-foil creek, and he in turn had already produced several variations on this theme in our backyard art studio. He just loves to make things and I love indulging him with all the art supplies he requires.


"Grampa," he said, between chapters two and three, "Grammie says she hasn't even read this book herself in years and years!" 


True, and what an odd, interesting experience this makes for a writer, especially reading the way I depicted the two-year-old twins, based on my own Mary and William, and feeling that yep, those were their personalities.  Thirty years later, they're still working with those same traits, Will interested in learning and playing by the rules, Mary boldly looking to flout them. Both darling as ever!


The thing that really jumped out of the book at me though, was my school yard bully, Orin Downard.   He mocks Robby by pretending to shoot the wildlife drawings Robby's painstakingly working on—"Blam! Blam! Run li'l Bambi, run!—and  takes pride in thinking up and calling everybody names: "Hippie! City Boy! Wimp!"


Why was he like that? Robby wonders.  Most of the kids didn't much care whose parents did what. They hung around with certain people because they both liked baseball or Nintendo.  But Orin kept wanting to sort people out and divide them up.


Wow.  Who does that sound like? When I was working on this in the 1980s, I certainly never dreamed that by the time we were raising a new generation, we'd have for a president an actual schoolyard bully.  I'm proud to say though, that at this time, while I was working on the book, ten-year-old Miles had for some reason pasted a picture of Donald Trump in a scrapbook he was keeping and drawn devil horns on him.  How prescient was that?


So  I like to think the Crews have been onto this joker for a long time.  Now I just hope the Republican wimps in Congress (yes, I'm calling names!) will do their duty and help free us from this clearly deranged person we've been forced to suffer as our President. How much more damage are we going to let him do?

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PTSD in the McDonald's Drive-Thru

Yep, that's what I've got: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I'm as surprised as anybody because, like most people, I thought PTSD was strictly about war, or surviving some horrific physical assault.  Apparently not.  Nobody's ever in my life hit me, but the trauma of the isolation I endured for several years while in withdrawal from doctor prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines really did a number on my brain in sensitizing me to stress.  I have trouble with doctors, hospitals, anything medical, really, and of course all this tangles up with my personal relationships.


Six long years I've been clean of these drugs, and yet today I once again got blindsided. I'm driving through downtown Corvallis, doing fine.  I've just dropped my darling two-year old grandson with his mom after some time at the farm, and I'm happily planning a wildlife wallpaper banner for the room of his five-year-old brother.  On the radio, I tune in mid-interview  to an OPB story about a guy in his eighties extolling the health and anti-aging effects of playing softball.  He's even put his cancer into remission.  He uses the word joy a lot and I'm just loving this story, because it reaffirms what I've come to believe so strongly lately about the connection between our mental and physical health.


I turn into the McDonald's drive-thru for my guilty pleasure. The radio story's  wrapping up at the order window.  I've just paid and inched ahead at the second window when the interviewer says we've been hearing from Dr. Leon Speroff, retired Ob-Gyn at OHSU in Portland.


OMG—I know this softball-playing guy!  The infertility specialist my regular ob-gyn sent us to.  My husband and I sat across a desk from him one May day 34 years ago.  Wait.  Maybe it was even 34 years to the very day that we'd walked out of OHSU with a grocery sack full of Pergonal-filled syringes, because I always figured I'd gotten pregnant with the twins on May 25th. I love making connections like this.  One of those twins just had a baby of her own, thanks to the same OHSU fertility center…

And had the baby at OHSU…


Bam.  Horrible, with her hard, problematic labor, days of us hanging around waiting, scared…


Bam.  In the same hospital where we'd waited out so many surgeries my mother had after a car accident when I was only 26 myself and worried every day for months she was going to die…


Bam. And then my daughter's  scary emergency C-section and when I'm finally, belatedly informed that the baby's been born okay and I'm able to see my daughter, she looks like gray death….


Bam. Bam. Bam.  In split seconds  my  triggers zap across my synapses, and by the time I'm reaching for my Egg McMuffin—what the hell?—my  hand's shaking.  It happens so fast, I haven't yet figured out why my heart's pounding, how I've gone in a few quick memory flashes from happy and in control to panicky.  I could have insisted none of those old stories of medical peril upset me much anymore, but my brain begs to differ. Am I getting the message? Yep.


I drive over and sit in the parking lot at Home Depot, trying to breath deep, phoning my husband up in the woods for the calming value of his voice.  Actually I get better as soon as I go into the store and start ticking off my project supply list, so this is obviously not the toughest panic attack situation going on out there.


But after what I've been through, I now  understand like I never did before why all the survivors of school shootings and violence feel scarred for life. All survivors of any kind of trauma. How ridiculous it is to think they should feel grateful as long as they're not dead or visibly wounded.


This may seem like a change of subject , but it makes perfect sense to me: My Rx for the prevention and eradication of trauma in this country is the impeachment of Donald Trump. With this sorry excuse for a human being in charge, we have damage at every turn, especially to people who aren't white and male.  He blithely incites hatred and violence. He champions those who take pride in never apologizing for any of their actions, no matter how heinous. The traumatic separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border alone will keep social workers swamped for decades as they struggle to cope with the ongoing ramifications.


When Elizabeth Warren stepped up the other day and became the first 2020 Presidential contender to call for his impeachment, I felt an amazing surge of hope.  I think having her for President would improve the mental health of the entire nation.


Please join me in supporting her.  Let's start the healing.  Or at least stop the trauma.




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Daughters of the Patriarchy

Every once in awhile I read the book everybody else is apparently reading, and in finally checking out Educated, by Tara Westover, I am clearly late to the party with comments.  With nearly four thousand Amazon reviews and 45 weeks on their  best seller list, the world has already agreed that her story of finally escaping from family dysfunction to join the wider world is gripping.  Like everyone else, I read it in short order  and last night went down the rabbit hole of reading all the  one star reviews—apparently written  by her family and their supporters—and the dozens of comments on these reviews from people who refused to let these pseudo reviews stand.


This searing memoir is not so much about religion as it is about patriarchal family dynamics, and it made me think about something that's been bothering me ever since Donald Trump got elected, namely, who are these women who voted for him?  Who thought it was fine for their daughters and granddaughters to have for President a guy who brags about grabbing women's sexual organs?  Who are these women who somehow still support him, the ones who went on TV during the Kavanaugh hearings and said how scared they were for their sons, because, goodness, look how easy it would be for some trashy girl to take them down with a false claim of rape?


What?! I have two grown sons and I would never for one minute worry about that!  Number one, they would never do that.  Number two, when women gather the courage to speak up about abuse, I believe them.  My default reaction at such an accusation would be to grab my son and demand to know what was up.


But this is how the patriarchy works.  It's almost always men who commit these acts of abuse.  When women are involved, it's usually because some man is bossing them into it.  And then—this is the worst part—when some woman tries to report the abuse, there are always women ready to stick up for the man, turn against the woman, effectively telling  her to sit down and shut up. Don't make waves.  Don't embarrass people.  It's not enough to have the Boys' Club firmly in place, the women must help support it.


That's how it worked for Tara Westover.  In spilling the beans about her father's obvious mental illness and her brother's horrific abuse, she broke the big rule: Don't Make the Family Look Bad.  While her mother and her sister (also victims) had at least briefly seemed to side with her, in the end  they did not have the nerve to stand up to the Patriarchy.  It was easier to just say, "I'm with them," and put all emotional energy into justifying casting out a sister. The appearance of the FAMILY to the outside world and the support of its male members took precendence over the daughters.


But Tara Westover's bravery in speaking truth to power is exactly what we need  to heal  our nation and the earth itself.  We do not need women like Senator Susan Collins, who entertained abuse survivors in her office for days on end and pretended to listen to their stories, let them pray en masse out in her hall, then got her hair done, put on a spiffy suit, and stood on the Senate floor  for forty-five minutes explaining why she was delivering her vote to Kavanaugh  for the Supreme Court.  Ugh.  Ugh ugh ugh. I hate to think of the further trauma this horrific betrayal delivered to all those women who pleadingly told her their stories.


I am cheered by the new female members of the House of Representatives.  They make me hopeful for the future.  We need brave women not afraid to speak  up.


Count me as an early supporter of Elizabeth Warren.  I have been wearing my "Nevertheless, she persisted" T-shirt to the gym ever since she thrilled us by refusing to sit down and shut up.  I have no patience for this "But is she electable?" business.  All it takes for her to be electable is for us to vote for her.  I believe she will kick butt and clean house, so please join me in supporting her.  

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Helping Good Things Grow

I like to start my day with a bit of aerobic  exercise on a stationary bike while reading something inspirational and informative on my Kindle.  Just finished up Go Wild by John Ratey and  Richard Manning, about the benefits of eating and exercising like our ancestors.   They point out that we humans love a view.  A wide open vista makes us feel safe because in primitive times, a favorable campsite was one enabling folks to spot the approach of danger in the form of lions or other wild beasts. 


This makes sense, and explains why some of the earliest pioneer women, led to the middle of a thick, dark forest of Douglas fir, were instantly prioritizing  a clearing….please, good husband, before I go completely crazy?


Well, I'm not afraid of wild beasts or anything else approaching through our surrounding forest, but this craving to see into the distance explains why, this year, I've had so much satisfaction from clearing the blackberries and underbrush from our woods, why I wanted to hack back the thirty-foot diameter  forsythia in the middle of which had grown up a lovely volunteer  black walnut.  I wanted to see farther!  I wanted to watch the rays of sunlight shooting through and lighting up the leaves.


The culminating  project  involved waiting for the tree services guys to show up with their chainsaws and  excavators and in one day of  loud work  take out a decades-old tangle of horizontally growing wild cherry trees in the ancient  front orchard.   We had discovered three or four small oaks fighting their way up to the light, and now they'll be freed to be our oak grove of the future.   This is the view from my kitchen sink, and suddenly I don't feel so smothered.   I was almost shocked at how much it thrilled me, the sight of my husband on his  tractor, tilling up that weed patch that had been  turning up a higher percentage of dandelions ever since we got married right on this spot 45 years ago.  I loved this fresh start.


I must back track here to say how completely distressed I've been over the news lately.   I was annoyed at myself for spending  one of the most golden Autumn days ever visited upon us, a day when my darling grandson Nolan was running around here, glued to my smart phone with earbuds, watching everyagonizing moment of the Kavanaugh hearings.  And it literally made me sick!  My blood pressure went nuts.   The rank injustice of it.  Anyone with half a brain and an ounce of intuition could see that Brett Kavanaugh had done this horrid thing Christine Blasey Ford described, and had been  conveniently  too drunk to remember it.  The fact that we have people in control of the country who think it's perfectly  fine for such a man to sit on the Supreme Court is intolerable. I have no sexual assault survivor story to tell, but if I didn't live three thousand miles away, I could have gladly joined one of those "mobs" wanting to beat down the doors of the  court. And I guess I'm not the only one across the country who feels this way.  I see articles discussing the anxiety the Kavanaugh hearings have triggered in women everywhere.


But now I think, for my own sanity, I'm going to have to stop checking my phone so often to hear whatever  disgusting , appalling new lies Donald Trump is spewing.  I want that despicable, odious man out of my brain, our of our lives, out of the White House.


Yesterday, after raking down the old orchard, Herb scattered the special grass seed.  It's supposed to be tough, drought resistant, ready to withstand whatever comes  along.  We'll have to be that way too.   Planting it seems like a positive thing to do, and now, whatever happens on November 6th when the ballots are counted, we will be right here at Wake Robin Farm, watching this new green grass sprout up, and that will be good.

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Watching History Unfold From Wake Robin Farm

Since our married life began right here on this exact piece of land, from the day we said our vows, we have been following the news of the world from this same, but ever-changing  setting, together.


We bought our first TV right after our 1974 June wedding specifically in order to follow the Watergate hearings,  and I  clearly remember sitting on the dusty sofa that had belonged to Herb's former girlfriend, taking all this in.  The livingroom was particularly disgusting, because I had started ripping the wallpaper off the ceiling (I know, how does wallpaper get on a ceiling?) without  bothering to move or tarp any of the furniture below.  We were so happy that hot August afternoon when Nixon resigned in order to avoid impeachment.  We had hated him for years as the villain of the Vietnam War.


But it's funny now, looking back, the Presidents we've disliked.   Thanks to Trump, even George Bush seems  like something of a teddy bear.  Many of them were men we disagreed with politically, but I now see I could have sat across a dinner table from any of them.  Donald Trump, in contrast, absolutely makes my skin crawl. Until him, we really had no idea what it would be like to have for a President a thoroughly despicable human being.  


The summer after Nixon, we sat on the front porch steps (still wooden, not yet brick) and speculated whether they'd ever find Patty Hearst, and had she actually joined with her radical kidnappers.


Fall of 1991 found us in the backyard, rolling out and reseeding the lawn while we listened to Anita Hill testifying in Clarence Thomas's hearings for confirmation to the Supreme Court.   It would have gone right over the heads of the five-year-old twins, and  Miles, at 11, was in school.  My memory of that project is entirely of the red hot anger that burned in my chest over this, especially when Thomas was confirmed.


Ten years later, on the sunny morning of  9/11, standing on that same, now thick lawn, we noted the eerie calm of the blue skies as all planes had been grounded.  Then, as no one suggested we do otherwise, we drove the twins to high school.


Today, we're repainting (for the third time) and re-installing the fancy, funky garden gate, and strengthening  the fences against  the overly  bold deer.  And what are we discussing?  Melania Trump.  As in, where is she?  Not sighted for 22 days.  This is not right, folks.  For the record, I think Herb's theory makes the most sense.  Maybe she's just fed up.  Maybe she's saying, "Hey, you want me to come out and act like a nice First Lady?  Tough!"


I sincerely hope for the sake of the entire world that we will be looking back at this day and noting that it was right before Mueller came out with indictments which will prove the beginning of the end for this so-called Presidency.  Donald Trump is bad for my mental health and that of everybody I know, and we want relief!


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