Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Underlying Cause Of Our Anxiety: It Has A Name - Gaslighting



Came across several articles that finally describe what I have been feeling for months. That uneasy feeling that despite video proof, witnesses, fact checking, and science, we cannot seem to get out from under obfuscation, denial, and some nightmarish fog that is spreading over this nation. I don't normally repost entire published articles, but I'm doing so here along with some links. Read on:

Wikipedia: Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.[1][2] Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film, and has been used in clinical and research literature.[3][4]

 CNN article:

Article from TEEN VOGUE       

      DEC 10, 2016 11:40AM EST

The CIA officially determined that Russia intervened in our election, and President-elect Donald Trump dismissed the story as if it were a piece of fake news. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," his transition team wrote in a statement. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again'."
It wasn't one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history, so presumably that's another red-herring lie to distract from Trump treating the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States like it is some rogue blogger to be cast to the trolls. A foreign government's interference in our election is a threat to our freedom, and the President-elect's attempt to undermine the American people's access to that information undermines the very foundation upon which this country was built. It's also nothing new. 

Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to “Duel of the Fates." Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.

"Gas lighting" is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term "gas light" takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.



To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias. 

At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.

There is a long list of receipts when it comes to Trump's lies. With the help of PolitiFact, clear-cut examples of deception include Trump saying that he watched thousands of people cheering on 9/11 in Jersey City (police say there's no evidence of this), that the Mexican government forces immigrants into the U.S. (no evidence), that there are "30 or 34 million" immigrants in this country (there are 10 or 11 million), that he never supported the Iraq War (he told Howard Stern he did), that the unemployment rate is as high as "42 percent" (the highest reported rate is 16.4 percent), that the U.S. is the highest taxed country in the world (not true based on any metric of consideration), that crime is on the rise (it's falling, and has been for decades), and too many other things to list here because the whole tactic is to clog the drain with an indecipherable mass of toxic waste. 

The gas lighting part comes in when the fictions are disputed by the media, and Trump doubles down on his lies, before painting himself as a victim of unfair coverage, sometimes even threatening to revoke access. 

Trump has repeatedly attempted to undermine the press, including such well-respected publications as the New York Times. He has disseminated a wealth of unsubstantiated attacks on the media, though this baseless tweet from April pretty much sums it all up, "How bad is the New York Times -- the most inaccurate coverage constantly. Always trying to belittle. Paper has lost its way!" 

As a candidate, Trump's gas lighting was manipulative, as President-elect it is a deliberate attempt to destabilize journalism as a check on the power of government. 

To be clear, the "us" here is everyone living under Trump. It's radical progressives, hardline Republicans, and Jill Stein's weird cousin. The President of the United States cannot be lying to the American electorate with zero accountability. The threat of deception is not a partisan issue. Trump took advantage of the things that divide this country, pitting us against one another, while lying his way to the Oval Office. Yes, everything is painfully clear in hindsight, but let’s make sure Trump’s win was the Lasik eye surgery we all so desperately needed. 

The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here.

There are things you can and should be doing to turn your unrest into action, but first let's empower ourselves with information. Insist on fact-checking every Trump statement you read, every headline you share or even relay to a friend over coffee. If you find factual inaccuracies in an article, send an email to the editor, and explain how things should have been clearer. Inform yourself what outlets are trustworthy and which aren’t. If you need extra help, seek out a browser extension that flags misleading sites or print out a list of fake outlets, such as the one by communications professor Melissa Zimdars, and tape it to your laptop. Do a thorough search before believing the agenda Trump distributes on Twitter. Refuse to accept information simply because it is fed to you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is now the base level of what is required of all Americans. If facts become a point of debate, the very definition of freedom will be called into question. 

It will be far easier to take on Trump’s words when there is no question of what he’s said or whether he means it. Regardless of your beliefs, we all must insist on that level of transparency. Trump is no longer some reality TV clown who used to fire people on The Apprentice. He is the President of the United States.

The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.

TACTICS USED BY THE GASLIGHTER  Source: https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/

  • Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
  • Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
  • Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!”  “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.”  “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (family member/friend)?”
  • Minimizing.  By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
  • Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more.  For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”
  • Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favor, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth.  For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “I didn’t beat you up Johnny, I just gave you a smack around the head—that’s what all good fathers do.”  “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.”



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And Now...A Word From Matt

How the next administration could destroy LGBT progress made with the help of Obama - and likely will:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tribute to Bronski Beat Keyboardist Larry Steinbachek Dead at 56

Bronski Beat was being played in the bars/discos in the 80's when I was going through my "gay adolescence" and spending lots of time making up for lost time. "Smalltown Boy", "I Feel Love", "Tell Me Why", great gay sound.




See Joe My God for more YouTube video/audio selections.

A Time To Write To Our Washington Folks

Please fell free to use any all all of the following letter to congresspersons.

This will go out in tomorrow's mail. I have already remitted a brief email to our congresspersons and this is my detailed follow-up:

Gentlemen:

We are writing you as private US citizens and residents of New Mexico to urge you to do everything in your power and official capacity as our New Mexico Senators/Representative, to resist any and all attempts by the Republican leadership to craft, advance, bring to a vote, or enact any form of legislation that would repeal or destroy the progressive advances of the Obama Administration, including but not limited to:
  • any attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or privatize Medicare
  • attempts to eliminate any hard won and legitimately affirmed LGBT rights, 
  • any action to reverse or eliminate laws, regulations and programs that recognize climate change or protect the environment or natural resources.
Further and more specifically:

We also urge you to resist, question, scrutinize and hold accountable any and all potential cabinet appointees. 

In the same vein, we would strongly urge you to thwart any nominee to the United States Supreme Court who has demonstrated racial prejudice, misogyny, anti-LGBT bias, or who has preconceived notions about social and political issues which are likely to come before the court. 

Please speak to the congress for us and many others in denouncing the agendas of such nominees and appointees whenever there is any evidence of racism, anti-LGBT discrimination or hatred, climate change denial, or other potentially destructive beliefs apparent in their resumes, history, past behavior or public statements.

We also urge resistance to any legislation, which, in the guise of “religious freedom,” would deny LGBT citizens their rights to marriage equality, military service, public accommodations, commerce, employment, or human services. 

We ask you to resist any and all legislation that would allow certain fundamentalist and conservative religions the special right to deny liberty and freedom and particular aspects of full citizenship to LGBT citizens. 

Further we support legislation which would secure the equal and just rights of all citizens; that would flatly reject any religious or “moral” test or give weight to the tenants of any particularly vocal belief system; freedom of religion must include all religions, not all of which share identical beliefs, and accommodate as well, those who adhere to no religion.

We also appeal to you to thwart any attempts by the new administration to single out individuals for special scrutiny or observation or surveillance based on religion, race, national origin, political affiliations, sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition, we urge you to support re-establishing nation-wide fair and just voting rights by reversing the blatant gerrymandering and restrictions put in place by Republicans to disenfranchise minority voters; and to work to ensure that all voting districts in every state are drawn fairly and equitably and that voting laws are not restrictive.

We urge you to support LGBT rights, to protect the right of gay, lesbian and 
transgender individuals to marry, serve in the military and to be free from 
discrimination and harassment. 

We also urge you to include protecting the right of Transgender individuals to self-expression and self-defined identity and to educate those among you to the fact that transgender individuals do not pose a threat to women or children and that draconian laws not only do nothing to protect women and children, but they also, if adhered to, would have undesirable consequences for trans and cis-gendered persons as well.

We support efforts to protect women’s health care options and not allow the Republican and conservative religious forces to restrict most or all access to health care for middle income, poor and low income women based solely on one aspect of that care.

We urge you to maintain laws and programs that protect our precious environment, land, oceans, wildlife, natural resources, national parks and monuments and other environmentally sensitive resources and to educate those among you about the real effects of climate change and the role of human activity as a causal factor.

We urge you to help ensure that immigrants, legal or not, are treated fairly and with both mercy and justice and to find reasonable and compassionate solutions for such individuals and their families.

We also urge you to thwart any attempt to initiate a witch-hunt against, or any further investigation of, Hillary Clinton.

In summary, we are asking you to be vigilant for us, to speak truth to power, and to fight for our democracy, which is not only being threatened from without, but by many of those from within who were elected, more or less democratically, to defend it.

Thank you for your service.


Sincerely,


Monday, January 2, 2017

Architectural InDigestion

I haven't blogged in a while and despite the endless daily fodder for political commentary, I am very tired and weary of politics and the warnings about the impending end of times.

So I will talk about my ordinary life in Cochiti Lake, and my always astute observations about class and wealth.

Every now and then, someone drops off old magazines at the mail room in the village. I welcome the donations to my bathroom library and scoff them up whenever I see them: The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Time, National Geographic, New Mexico, and this past week, for the first time, several hefty editions of Architectural Digest.

So, as usual, I grabbed five or six of the magazines and took them home to leaf through them.

Now, I can appreciate interesting architecture - maybe not as much as some people - but I have an artistic gene, so I do take notice of form and color and design. I would argue that I have an innate sense of  Feng shui - without resorting to metaphysical explanations - and I appreciate the orderly placement of objects to please the eye and to create a comfortable, calming space.

But there was very little in AD to peak my interest. Architectural Digest seems to be more about over the top opulence than architecture.

The editors must feel obligated to display the most hideous, uncomfortable furniture, irritating patterns, ill-colored decor and useless objects known to man, just because the furnishings, designs and items carry a pretentious, hyphenated Franco-Italo-Espanola name of some "famous" artist, company, or designer I never heard of.

One article touted a wall covering made of concrete and "authentic" banana tree bark. (Like, beware of any designer who uses "unauthentic" banana tree bark in their concrete wall coverings.)

But it was one particular article that made me laugh, mockingly, and made me realize what different worlds we peons live in.

I will quote, emphasis in Bold is mine:

Standing in the soft glow of his perfectly pastel two-story waterfront home in Florida George Lindemann says "I didn't want a white house. I have two young girls whose favorite color is pink and because they live with two dads and two brothers I am always looking for ways to empower them. So I made pink my favorite color too." 

After local architect Ellen T. Shulman completed the 7000 square-foot tropical modern home on one of Miami Beach's Sunset Islands, Lindemann the son of entrepreneur George Lindemann, turned to his neighbor and close friend, Susan Bell Richard, who advises an impressive list of artists and designers, to zero in on the precise shade of pink. "She's a brilliant colorist," he explains, "and she knows the light on the island, having lived here for 30 years." Together they spent two years reviewing exactly 74 samples of pink paint. "We painted swaths of the house with different shades and drove the boat by throughout the day to see how it looked at every hour." The resulting hue is not unlike the sand on Harbor Island in the Bahamas. 

Our entry "Courtyard" - a very fine architectural feature of our 1100 square-foot home.
It took us 5 minutes to pick the perfect shade of sunset
when we had our stucco painted and sealed.
The resulting hue is not unlike the hue before it was painted.
Four-piece outdoor furniture from ALDI's Supermarket
$199.




Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Greetings 2016



 Leon and I are not purchasing gifts or sending out cards this season… but instead we have made very modest - symbolic than substantive - contributions to causes whose accomplishments and missions will likely be in jeopardy in the coming years.

We are supporting environmental causes, LGBT homeless youth, LGBT rights, civil rights and liberties, anti-discrimination causes, immigrants’ causes, Mercy Housing (a homeless shelter), and women’s health.

While we are not likely to solve the world’s problems with a few dollars, we can maybe help just a little. We encourage you all to do the same.

Leon and I are both very blessed and, as we lead a relatively simple life, there is little that we need or want. We are not hungry or freezing, or suffering discrimination (though we fear this possibility) or lacking health care or in fear of being deported…But so many of our sisters and brothers are. 

(I remember a story my Grandmother, Maria Concetta DeFrancesco toldabout a child crying  with hunger outside her window on some cold holiday as she was about to serve dinner, perhaps it was Christmas; she, to the chagrin of her family, cut the turkey or chicken in half and sent half home with the boy for him and his family. We should all share with such a spontaneous spirit.)

We have family and friends, the freely given and shared gifts and beauty of nature, and abundant creature comforts - a warm home, healthy food, a garden, a dog. As I write this we are sitting by a crackling fire - the first house I've lived in with a fireplace - and drinking hot tea and munching on Sicilian cuccidati. What more could we want or ask for?

As most of you know, we live in a small town called Cochiti Lake which is actually on the Cochiti Pueblo Indian Reservation. One of the Cochiti Indians that Leon works with has invited us to Christmas “Feast” at the Pueblo - an honor that is not extended to many outside the tribe. So this will be a first for us. Another Blessing.

We are very privileged to be here. It is a truly unique place. We have a lake, a golf corse a small restaurant, a campground, a convenience store and gas station and we are surrounded by mountains. We have good neighbors who watch out for one another despite their/our many quirks and eccentricities. And friends in nearby Santa Fe and Pecos.

Leon works for the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, as a Park Ranger at Kasha Katuwe-Tent Rocks National Monument. I’ve attached a few photos. (You may have seen them, but since I’ve abandoned Facebook, they are there no longer)

The fact that we were drawn here, to this place, in this time, often seems surreal and at other times it seems like a spiritual journey of sorts. It is difficult to explain…but it seems as if we were “meant” to be here. 

I guess this is why they call New Mexico “The Land of Enchantment.”  We are grateful every day.

You are all here in spirit as I add you to our long email list. I think of each of you as I do so. (Please give our greetings to those in your family who do not have email)

Leon and I hope that you all are well, and we wish you:

Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad
Buon Natale
Joyeux Noel
Happy Chanukah
Happy Kwanza
Happy New Year
Happy Solstice
Blessings and Happy Holidays! 


Frank and Leon






Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thank You Russ

A big thank you to "Truck Buddy" Russ Manley at Blue Truck Red State for his generous review  of my memoir "Did You Ever See A Horse Go By?  (See below)


Russ,

What a surprise this morning when I opened my Blogger dashboard...to see the name of my book in one of the feeds...it startled me. Then I saw "Russ Manley at Blue Truck, Red State - 1 hour ago" and said to myself, "Oh, wow, Russ has written about my memoir!"

So excited to click in to read your post.

Your review nearly brought tears to my eyes, at very least, a little moisture. I am so happy that you liked, enjoyed, were moved by my writing because you have a much broader knowledge of and greater appreciation for literature and the humanities than me. Thus you are a very credible and trusted critic. I thank you.

Yes. Thank you from the bottom of my gay heart for your review and praises.

(Did you notice I didn't know the difference between the words "tongs" and "tines"? And a few other things slipped by the editing.)

I am sorry to hear about the various difficulties that have beset you over the past year, and the "election" that has many of us in a state of depression, if not despair. We thought the marches, the protests, the struggles were over and the battle had been won. But it looks like we shall begin again.

I hope things turn around for you personally and that you have good health and finances and improved digital experiences in the coming year.

I will recommend a blog by one of my writing group compatriots in Connecticut who has been relentless in posting very sharp post-election essays.

https://beg-no-questions.com

Thanks again,
Frank
December 15, 2016 at 10:05 AM

I will repost Russ' review here:

For several months now, your Head Trucker has been reading and re-reading a wonderful book, and struggling to find the words to describe it. The reasons for the struggle are various: for one thing, since late summer life here has been full of sundry and boring domestic, financial, digital, and physical crises that have kept me alternately upset or immobilized. And then there was the election, for chrissake. Sometimes life is just one damn thing after another, you know what I mean, fellas?

For another thing, despite the book's lovely, impeccable writing, it so often moves me to tears or makes my heart double-clutch with recognition that I have been able to read only a few pages at a time before having to close it up and set it down again. It's that good:them old Greek boys you may have heard something about in lit class between daydreams and snoozes held that art should be the mirror of life; and this book is a mirror indeed, polished to a high sheen and often casting a glaring, dangerous light into shaded nooks and crannies of the author's soul, and even into my own, it seems.

The book is Did You Ever See a Horse Go By? by my longtime truckbuddy Frank De Francesco, and though it is his first and only book to date, it is well worth the cover price: a little gem of a memoir that I recommend wholeheartedly to all my other truckbuddies and readers. Frank says, "While I'm not sure the world really needs another coming-out story, I feel deeply the need to tell it."

I think the world does need this particular story. In her well-known essay "On Keeping a Notebook," author Joan Didion wrote that the reason for recording her memories was to "Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point." Because, she said, "We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were." And of course we know what happens to those who forget the past.

Frank's book recounts in exquisite detail the fears and feelings and fantasies, the loves and lovers, the guilt and shame, the confessions and repressions, the one night stands and the long-term commitments, the lost and the found, the hopes and the terrors of coming out at age 36, after many years of sheltering in a devoutly Catholic closet in New England. How odd, then, that his memories, feelings, regrets, and joys should so well parallel all that I went through in my fundamentalist Protestant closet down in the Deep South. And yet not so odd after all -- what Frank is really writing about here is not merely his coming out, his life, his memories, but the human experience of being gay and alone and afraid of so many things: censure, rejection, failure, despair, the acid drip of loneliness. All men and women since the world began have endured, or at least feared, these things, for such is the nature of sublunary life: it is not good for the man to be alone. But certain exquisite pains and torments are reserved for the gays, or were.

And he writes about it all very clearly and concretely, with smooth, careful cadences that lead the reader through some fearsomely honest revelations, which normally one might confide only in one's closest friends. But that's what this book is like: a comfortable conversation with an old and trusted friend, patiently explaining the real reasons why he did whatever it was he did, trusting that you in turn will listen and understand, not laugh or turn away.

Frank is a very brave writer; I could never be so brave. It's not that I have forgotten anything, but that it's all still too close, too vivid in my memory. After all these years, the scars of battle on my soul and on my heart are still too tender to bear much touching. I admire Frank for the courage and the toughness of his writing, which I am sure was not easy. But somehow he was able to bare his soul to the reader, as all great writers must do sooner or later.

We who were born in the first decade or two after the last world war have been privileged to witness a remarkable period in human history, when homosexuality went from being "the love that dare not speak its name" to being publicly affirmed, even celebrated, by the President, the United Nations, and just about every major city and (who would have thought?) major-league sports team across the country, while same-sex marriage went from being a laughable fantasy to being enshrined in constitutional law by the Supreme Court: truly a breathtaking phenomenon when you stop to think about it, and all within the span of one ordinary lifetime. Sometimes I can hardly believe it myself.

Frank says of his motivation for writing the book:
  • For me, the value in telling my story here, beyond the healing, is to preserve a tiny slice of collective history--to document what it was to be gay and to come out in a particular time and place. I want to remember all the others who were there along with me, creating our lives together and defining our sexuality as we went along. My hope is that others find some value in that as well.
I'm quite sure that everyone who reads the book will find that value. It's a fine book, beautifully written and deeply moving, which I hope will find its way into the hands of many readers.

P.S. I forgot to mention all the candid sex scenes, guys. Those are good too, yessir: real Adults Only stuff. No, I'm not putting you on; go buy the book and see for yourself.
 Delete

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Holiday Season 2016

Holiday Letter To All Our Relatives and Friends and Readers:


It has been just over a year since we moved to New Mexico, and what a year! Besides being an adjustment, (heat, rattlesnakes, garden challenges, lack of Italian bread) it has been filled with many blessings: good neighbors, wonderful friends, friendly New Mexicans, cultural diversity, spectacular scenery, and a Park Ranger! 

Despite those blessings, as many of you know, Christmas is not my thing. 

I won’t go into all the why’s and how’s about my feelings about Christmas. Suffice it to say that I have come to dislike both the way this religious holiday has been appropriated by the consumer-driven retailers and how many so-called Christians have become so un-Christian in their attitudes toward others as to make celebrating the birth of Jesus seem rather hypocritical.

And in all honesty, I let December sneak up on me and before I know it, I am scrambling to send out greeting cards and get stocking stuffers for Leon and Benni and feeling stressed and resentful. 

As for actual gifts? Forget it. I am the world’s worst consumer and a most incompetent gift-giver.

I go around KMart or Target (or Amazon) and talk myself out of every possible purchase - and not only in December: clothes - what size, color, style, too personal, too expensive; that electronic gadget - too complicated and one more thing requiring a username and password; cookies, candy - too many preservatives and too much sugar; a DVD - but do they have Blue-ray? or perhaps they’ve seen it; a hat, a scarf, gloves - how terribly practical and unimaginative; a bottle of wine - ho hum; a basket of fruit and cheese or flowers - is it really the thought that counts? a small appliance - does anyone not have a coffee maker? and that espresso machine is $459, yikes, my entire budget for this year and next!

Does anyone really need anymore crap? I know I don’t. There is little if anything I desire myself and I feel that giving other people crap they don't need or want is wasteful and just adds to the landfill.

And for the most part it’s all just a whole lot of Chinese plastic shipped here on freighters and delivered to Walmarts everywhere - and yes, it ends up in our landfills and dumps or clutters up our lives.

It’s not like the olden days when most of us couldn’t afford to just go out on any day of the year and purchase whatever little luxury or necessity we desired. 

Back then we discretely made known our secret wants to Santa or one of his elves and maybe, just maybe, someone would go out of their way and stretch their budget to get us that unique gift that we would treasure all year…Or we would do the same for someone else.

Now we can all fulfill our every wish almost immediately with a click of the keyboard or a touch on our smartphone and a credit card. But what do we wish for? Have you seen the gift catalogues? 

I kid you not: a 3-D Pen that draws in 3 dimensions, $99; an LED Foot Pain Reliever, $249; an iPhone Flash Drive, $199; a Vital Sign Tracker, $299; a Car Windshield display for MPH,RPM, and tells you when to take a break, $149; A copy of the New York Times for the day you were born, $99; a Micky Mouse Wall Clock, $125; a Radio signal-blocking Credit Card Wallet, $100; a Levitating Bluetooth Speaker, $150; an Authentic Himalayan Singing Bowl (complex harmonic tones), $200.

So hard to make a decision.

No, not really.

This year I/we have decided to forego the holiday rituals of sending cards or gifting gifts.

And what we might have spent on gifts and cards and postage, will be our modest donation to several charitable organizations that promote environmental causes, LGBT rights, LGBT youth, civil rights, anti-discrimination, immigrants’ rights, homeless shelters, and/or similar issues, all of which will be in need of support, now more than ever. 

We encourage our friends, relatives and neighbors to consider supporting your preferred charities also.

Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad
Buon Natale
Joyeux Noel
Happy Chanukah
Happy Kwanza
Happy New Year
Happy Solstice
Blessings and Happy Holidays! 




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

My husband and I have had a blessed year. I'll leave it at that because I have no desire to make a speech about all I am thankful for. (I feel more inclined to take a vow of silence for an indefinite period of time.)

 Happy Thanksgiving to all. PEACE.

Some photos:

A hike to 8,500 feet on St. Peter's Dome Mt. New Mexico, near where we live.
Petroglyphs?




Cochiti Lake in the Distance



From the Forest Fire a few years ago
Hiked over a mile from the gate to the tower
Hiking a mile when you're already at 8,000 feet
(and 68 years old) is challenging.
Abandoned Fire Tower
I was sure Leon was trying to do me in
Fennel "Finnochio" from the Garden
for Thanksgiving Dinner
Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake, Apple Pie
Sage Bread








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