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Election Day 2020: I want a competent government that demonstrates that Black lives matter, that cares about the health and well-being of us all, that counts every vote equally, and that pays attention to science and art and the health of planet Earth.


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All Souls Day 2020 / for this year and all the years ...

"Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home."

-- Ursula K. Le Guin [from Please Bring Strange Things]


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Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead 2020): Ms. COVID-19 was dressed up in her brightest, blingiest dress but the President was too busy admiring himself in the mirror to pay attention ...

Today’s NYTimes news alert: “It’s just kind of everywhere.” The coronavirus is now so widely spread in some parts of the U.S. that it’s almost impossible to trace. ▪️ [from a photo taken at San Jose’s 2019 Día de los Muertos Festival]


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As a kid in 1968, I was in awe of the way Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists after winning medals at the Mexico City Olympic games to draw attention to racial injustice and inequality in America — to me they embodied the Olympic spirit. A year ago I got to see this mosaic statue that honors them on the campus of San Jose State University; the 3rd spot on the podium is left empty at the suggestion of the athlete who stood there (Australian Peter Norman) — to allow visitors to stand in solidarity.


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Under early September’s blue skies and changing light, the Zlatan Papillon floats through Mitza’s backyard, distanced, masked, zoomed to parts north and west, FamJam birthday celebration...


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My heart hurts… I’m going to sleep in my @cottonbureau Lady Justice League T-shirt (our beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020).

“I am often asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court and I say, when there are nine.” — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


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2020 continues to frighten and alarm as the entire western portion of this country seems to be on fire and we had a rare earthquake in New Jersey early this morning and our president admits that early-on he knew that COVID-19 was a serious airborne virus but did not share that information with us. I have no words.

This design is from the front cover of the book “Portrait of a People, Croatia Today” published by the Funk & Wagnalls Company in 1936. The two-color design of black and red was screen printed on a green fabric.


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My cousin drove up from Maryland and brought a bottle of Limited Edition Old Bay Hot Sauce (the hot peppers are from my garden, thankfully not super-hot). The visit prompted my dad to tell one of his stories while we sat distanced on the back porch.

When they were in High School in Baltimore in the 1940s, my dad and uncle would take the streetcar to school. My uncle frequently cut school for the day (one of his teachers called my grandmother and told her that my uncle had done better on a test than any other student she’d had who had missed so many days of class). He’d get off the streetcar and go downtown while my dad stayed on to get to school. Sometimes their friend Newtie went with my uncle. If they didn't have any money then they'd often sit in the gallery at the Court House and watch the court proceedings to pass the time. Many years later my dad talked to Newtie at a neighborhood reunion. Newtie told my dad that watching what went on in that court room was a real education — seeing over and over that a white man and Black man convicted of the same crime were treated differently. The white man was given parole and the Black man was sent to prison. It was clear to those teenagers sitting in that Baltimore Court House 75 years ago that there was no justice, rather there was blatant institutional racism.


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So this happened during the quarantine: I was officially ordained a High Priestess and this wonderful sign was attached to my car with twine during a ceremonial drive-by.

"Help us to follow the important rules in associating with others. Help us all to protect others with reverence and genuine care, so that their health and welfare are especially safe." [Father Michael Doyle's prayer]


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The masks that help protect me and those around me: the white one I made and keep folded in my back pocket so I always have one with me; the black one with the shaped nose and comfortable elastic straps that go around my head; the one my cousin made for me with the metal nose insert, adjustable ear ties, and fancy lining.


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Waking up not knowing what day of the week it is or what day of the quarantine and Hurricane Isaias barreled up the coast and over us with ferocious wind and rain that knocked the power out yet again and a horrific explosion devastated the people and port of Beirut and kids in some parts of the country started back to school when it feels to me like summer never even started and another night of intermittent sleep and watching the clock under August's Apple Cider Full Moon ...


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Looking out the back door at the Marigolds.

"Each day, we must learn / again how to love, between morning's quick coffee / and evening's slow return." [excerpt from Barbara Crooker's poem "In The Middle"]


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Playing along with 1979 Blondie on YouTube under the last of July's Guitar Strummin' moon.

"When I met you in the restaurant, you could tell I was no debutante / You asked me what's my pleasure, 'A movie or a measure'? / I'll have a cup of tea, and tell you of my dreaming / Dreamin' is free / Dreamin' ... dreaming is free ..." [lyrics from Dreaming by Blondie]

"... a song is an adventure you can have with yourself." [musician Jarvis Cocker in a NYTimes interview]


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By my count, today is day 123 of the quarantine. The heat index hit 93 degrees. The rabbits ate all the green bean plants in the garden and there are alarming pools of water that keep forming near the refrigerator. Cases of the coronavirus are increasing daily again and have reached crisis points in many states. Our president has done his best to successfully turn the U.S. into one of his "sh!thole countries". Civil rights and voting rights champion and warrior Congressman John Lewis has died and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had a recurrence of her cancer. One bright spot is the aqua-blue-sky ceiling in my little screened-in side porch.

"If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. ... We must say, 'Wake up, America, wake up!' For we cannot stop, and we will not be patient." [from Mr. Lewis' 1963 March on Washington speech]


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My first outing to see a friend after four months of quarantine. Watching the magic of her Evening Primrose buds flutter and open as night falls. Sharing a glass of bubbly and stories of our confinement to take the edge off. How nice to be able to laugh together and share things in person.


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The most amazing thing just happened. While I was out in the garden tending my flowers this evening a hummingbird came right up to me -- hovered at eye level and looked me right in the eye for the longest time. It was so close that I took a step backwards because I was afraid it was coming after me. It was there for at least half a minute -- was it trying to tell me something? -- then if flew off over the bushes. It had a glittering green head and wings -- a Ruby-throated hummingbird, I think. Thrilled me to the marrow...

The hummingbird came to me on my grandfather's birthday. According to the internet, some people of the Caribbean thought that the spirits of relatives lived on in the tiny birds and the Aztecs saw hummingbirds as messengers between them and their ancestors or the gods.

Hummingbirds: fly backwards, hover up and down, turn on a dime, and can go from flying at full speed to a complete stop.

"For some reason the hummingbird came your way; You can trust that something extraordinary can happen." (the Hummingbird in Mexican culture)


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Front door and back porch visitors not keeping to social distance or masking recommendations.

"A kind face is a precious gift."


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If it's the fourth of July it must be Jersey corn and blueberries. No sharing food and laughs this year -- just memories.

From the porch I hear strumming and singing:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?
...
If I knew the way I would take you home. Da da da da da...
[lyrics from "Ripple" by Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia; a fun version by a school choir here]

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Some days I just want to run away. But where do you run during a pandemic? And how do you run away as an adult? I keep thinking of the kids who wrapped up what they needed in a bandanna and tied it to a stick...

[childhood treasures: handmade felt tree with sequins and pinked edges / handmade carved and painted wood flower art / a favorite doll -- her dress now faded and fraying; she is "spinning" the wool she hold in her left hand]


Quarantine Still Life 40!

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I started my Quarantine Still Life drawings a month into the lock-down in late April. Somewhere along the line I looked up the word "quarantine" -- it comes from the Italian word for 'forty' (quaranta) and refers to the number of days that ships suspected of carrying an infectious disease were quarantined in port. 40 drawings seemed like a good goal. Although the stay-at-home order has been lifted here in New Jersey, the COVID-19 still lurks and planning and executing the drawings has helped to keep my anxiety at bay, so I'm going to continue.

This was my grandfather's watch. He was in his early twenties during the 1918 pandemic. It made may mum think of a story her father told her of his experience after WWII as a convoy ship Captain. He went to Paris and bought an ice cream cone and walked the streets along the Seine.

The quarantine has made time feel different -- like it is both standing still and flying by.

"Mostly this dude just exuded love. And he loved people in the best way -- by giving them his time."
(Adam Bruckner on Pastor Thomas Gallashaw of Philadelphia who died of COVID-19 at the age of 70 and is missed by the many people he shared his time with. The Philadelphia Inquirer story noted: "He died on May 31 in Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, likely never absorbing the accumulation of love and sorrow dispatched by Spring Garden’s teenagers, homeless people, and longtime clergy who were imploring Pastor Tom not to leave this Earth and the work he’d yet to do.")


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My nephew (along with some school chums) graduated from High School in his own backyard in the midst of the pandemic.

"So now I will tell you what nobody has told you before this; that we older folks are waiting for you. We're waiting for you. Did you know that? It's a fact. I look out from this stage and see a beautiful assembly of the American future.  ...  if I were a clergyman, I'd cast a blessing. But I am a writer, so I say: Be brave. Be kind. Take good care of yourself. And carry it on."
(the writer E.L. Doctorow in a 2011 commencement speech at his old Bronx HS)


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How nice it is to have fresh food -- #jerseyfresh broccoli and a roast beef sandwich from the local Italian Market. Meanwhile, those cans of crushed pineapple and green beans -- purchased in the 1st crazy days of the quarantine -- and, as yet untouched, stare down at me from the pantry shelf.


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This past week wore on me. Feeling out of alignment with the world and with myself. In the garden pots the Greek Oregano and Pineapple Sage are thriving next to the glorious, giant Geranium. The spinach has bolted so it's time to plant more beans in the growing patch.


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"Home is Here" -- Today the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to dismantle the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a reprieve for nearly 650,000 young people, known as "dreamers".


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Love and a wedding and champagne toasts in the time of COVID-19.

"... And among us are these, see, the resplendent companions..." [an excerpt from "Circle, Of Friends" by poet Marie Ponsot]


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Cutting the legs off a pair of old jeans made me feel like a teenager again. Instant shorts. No precision needed. No hemming necessary. Just turn up the edge for a cuff. I didn't cut them as short as I did at 16!


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A derecho rolled through here last week and provided such a spectacular show of wind and rain that I was sure that someone was being smited. As I looked out the window, a large table umbrella from next door flew up into the air, landed upside down on my bushes, then flew up again and -- as I gasped -- came down precisely in the inch between two potted tomato plants, thereby sparing them from disaster. My power was out for three days and a few soft pretzels in the freezer defrosted so I made soft pretzel croutons: slice the pretzels thin, sprinkle with olive oil and garlic salt, and bake at 350 fro 5-8 minutes. Really good (and recipe is thanks to my brother).


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This has been my mum's perch through much of the quarantine where fresh air and a view of the increased street life from her front porch help to keep her spirits up through her illness and isolation (as do her fancy compression socks). I show her videos and photos and tell her that people are marching in Philadelphia and all around the country and the world for black lives matter and justice. She wants to know all about it and wishes she could be out there protesting, too like she did in her younger days.