the witch hunt

@realDonaldTrump

“…..the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one. As he said, “No Pressure.” This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected. Rupublicans, go with Substance and close it out!” [spelling all his my friends]

Did he cry Witch Hunt? Again? A term he has tweeted close to 300 times like rapid fire at all of us? Of course he did, because if there is one thing this president knows about lies, is the power of repeating them. “Calling himself the victim of a witch hunt allows Trump to label charges against him as not just inaccurate but fundamentally impossible. Witch hunts, by definition, are illegitimate, their victims innocent, their judgments always wrong” (Markham- Cantor). Is there anyone who believes he is innocent? Not even Trump claims that verdict. He boasts his lies like a prankster proclaims laughs.

Having just finished Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with my Advanced Placement English Literature students, who, due to the large number of theater kiddos in the room, read with passion and gusto, it was as if John Proctor and Abigail Williams and the rest of those iconic characters peopled my class. When Abigail, in all her initial seductive coyness said, “A wild thing may say wild things” they predicted that Proctor’s sin of adultery would unravel around him, and that she had indeed “an endless capacity for dissembling”. In Act Three John lets loose his shame, “I have know her, sir. I have known her.” “You–you are a lecher?” The crux of the Salem Witch trials fought over land tracks and false blame and stifling fear all come to a “pointy reckoning” when the innocent hanged “high over the town.” My students were hooked on every word like greedy fair-goers, ready to watch as lies replaced fact and insanity trumped reason.

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thank our farmers for the view

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, our open places were mostly golf courses, an occasional park and a random old graveyard. Of course there were patches of trees or cliffy areas that broke up the continuous housing or industry, but little open land like those I have grown accustomed to in rural Vermont. My dad was a man who needed to roam a bit, especially after a day in surgery and the hectic commute from New York City to our suburban New Jersey town. He walked the nearby golf course daily, even in the winter months, cutting through under the clustered oaks and evergreens which formed a respite from the sprawl. On occasion I would tag along, and it was here, in these mini-woods, that he taught me to sit in silence. Not the kind of stillness that one finds in Vermont forests, but at times, as the wind picked up, you could be transported momentarily into a peace. Now, as I leave my work place in the afternoons, I too look for that same solace from the natural world. So much of our open land is in jeopardy. For once these small and struggling family-owned dairy farms are gone, so will the grazing pastures, the hay fields, even the acres of corn that have shaped our iconic New England landscape.cows in the pasture on a misty morning

The art teacher and myself, along with a young woman from the Lamoille County Conservation, brought a bus load of students to visit four farms, the first that has been in the same family for generations. We stood watching as the mist settled down low and the spine of the Green Mountains appeared and disappeared and appeared again. As the farmer talked about his favorite part of the day, starting at 4:00 am, he described walking the cows out to pasture just as the sun rose and the whole sky filled with light. It was a daily gift that he prized, for decades and decades, seven days a week, and, when he described it, his face lifted with sublime joy. There was no one listening who would deny that was indeed a gift.farm on a misty morning

He talked hardships too. Eight children but maybe not a one who might be able to take on this life style once he is gone. Hundreds of acres all open, all cleared by his herd, and his labor, might be lost. Last winter, one of his barn suffered a roof collapse after a massive snowfall followed by heavy rain. We saw the broken rafters split and still laying helter-skelter in disrepair. Money is tight. Actually, money is nonexistent. We saw that reality etched across his brow too.cows in the pasture

We left him smiling as he set to continue his daily routine and boarded the bus to our next farm just a few miles away, in yet another million dollar location. This dairy farm has been run for eight generations. Imagine? Organic milk and maple syrup. At least 1,000 of those taps are into buckets, so that sap is still collected by hand. We heard all about the herd, which are all named. Generations of them too.

Here too there is worry about the future. For a while organic milk seemed to be the answer to the low prices, and many small farms made the switch, but now, with all the nut and other varieties of “milk” these farms are struggling each day, each eighteen hour day, all seven days in the week.

Vermont farm in the morning

No matter where you looked while touring the local farms, you saw labor. In the very pregnant cow waiting for her delivery, and in the continual raking and haying and cleaning and milking and feeding this life demands. Once again, we listened to these (female) farmers talk about raising children on the farm, the happiness they felt having their children working along side of them, the pride they have in the work, the endless hope they have, despite the way the numbers are always sliding into the red. One of the women talked about her drive to create the best quality organic milk, from the happiest cows, cows that could just live like cows. As we drove from one farm to the next, the farmers began to echo each other. They all voiced how they just wanted “to create the best of the best.”

pregnant dairy cow

“It’s not an easy way to live, but it’s a good way.”

hay in a barn

“If you can be happy enough, you can carve out a good life.”

“Driving a tractor outdoors on a beautiful day, you just can’t beat that.”

So, how do you thank a farmer? For starters, find out where they sell what they are producing, and buy local. Perhaps pop in and see what a barn looks like, and what it takes to keep that whole enterprise standing, along with all those acres required to feed their herds. After that, think of them when you vote.

 

let no man put asunder

As we slip closer to becoming the dystopian world we used to chuckle over while reading the fantastical novels of our youth, I now wonder about ever leaving the house. Even then paranoia creeps in while watching/listening/reading the news. It’s melting ice caps and fire storms. It’s waring tweets from men plenty old enough to know not to taunt but daily they do. There’s corruption in Facebook, phone apps listening, and Amazon with one-day deliveries causing insurmountable mountains of cardboard. Gun violence passing epidemic proportions that not even George Orwell would have imagined. Rational stuff gone daft too, like the inability to debate issues in Congress or use Science as a base for fact. Everyone is distrustful of any branch of government. People are retreating, especially the L.G.B.T., unsure if our marriages or jobs or civil rights will stand this latest round of Supreme Court discussions.

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lost with the ghosts

While most Americans are reeling in disbelief over the most recent mass shootings, I can only wonder how these senseless murders will ever end. “A trio of new reports by the Small Arms Survey finds that 85% of the world’s one billion guns are in the hands of its citizens who far outgun the militaries and police responsible for their protection” (Big Think, Berman). I just want to hear everyone say it: guns are the problem. Loudly. Anyone who thinks they’re not has forgotten the world before Columbine, before April 20, 1999, when two boys killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide, and even thought that horrific event became a tipping point in our country, “The Columbine shooting was, at the time, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety” that conversation has stalled time and time again, year after year, mass shooting after mass shooting, stalled to a faint whisper while politicians send good thoughts (History). Can we remember when Congress took the lead to solving this gun violence epidemic? Not even after Sandy Hook when 20 children between six and seven years old were gunned down by a white American male did they do anything. As in nothing. Not even then.

Flying from east to west over this mighty landmass reveals how expansive and diverse our country is, with all the complexity that mountain chains and sandy deserts and bustling metropolises add to our rainbow lifestyles. Down here, we are all in our own here. Doing our own thing. Working and paying bills. Mothering and fathering and building community in whatever community we find for ourselves. We dream of climbing higher or soaring longer or diving deeper while we commute to our day in and day out jobs. We frequent the same markets and barbers and stadiums and bars and churches and schools and beaches while we live out all the days in all our years.

Only now we are frightened because we might die in any one of those places. Because we are not straight or not white or actually nowadays for any reason whatsoever. Die by an American male with a gun. A gun that has the capacity to kill the most people with the smallest effort. So, now what? Are we helpless to stop this? Yeah in my mind, we are. These white males in their 20’s are so firmly indoctrinated in hate it is difficult to imagine pulling them back to a civil reality.

Maybe they would have just been labeled assholes a few decades ago, spouting off at the family barbecue about their latest beef with someone, but now they can creep into the dark web, or even hit up the 8chan message boards right in the light, and suddenly, these former assholes become sufficiently empowered to carry out their evil manifestos. Allow for easy access to military style weapons and you have a home-grown terrorist in your backyard. Your basement. Your mall. Your America. Take a look down from 35,000. Can you spot the guy with the arsenal to kill more of us? They are here. Residing among us. Proceeding with a rising trajectory that should alarm everyone of us, yet, those alarm bells are being silenced.

I want to believe that we can turn the gun violence epidemic around. That people will say, yes, it is the guns that are killing us. That we, in our respective communities declare collectively that we have had enough, that no amount of weapontry in the hands of civilians will prevent another disgruntled asshole from gunning us down, that we decide instead to recreate this land of the free without guns but with safety for citizens. I can hardly even write these words, for they are so naive, even outlandish.

While we might have had the nerve to tell that one asshole at the barbecue to pipe down when he started with his racist rant, those guys just banded together and elected Trump. They fiddled with the voting act and manipulated districts to flood Washington with complicit politicians beholden to special interests, from the NRA to pharmaceutical and insurance companies pouring billions of dollars into said pockets, so that you and I don’t stand a chance to change any of that hate. Our kids might, if they still have an earth to inhabit. Oh man, this is a dismal view, one that could use a ray of hope if only we had leadership that espoused inspiration instead of division. If only…

This week, I’m getting lost with the ghosts. Those who marched arm in arm between walls of hate speech and absolute peril, yet did so regardless. Those who fill my memory as I try to untangle the horrific news of more mass murders. What would they make of our united states now? What would they demand from our impotent politicians? How would they right this stalled course?

It is too easy to blame, to name call, to call out. Easy because there is blame to be made. Instead, I say we echo the words crying out from from Ohio and Texas, that collectively we do something. We fucking do something.

 

Readers Needed

The whole world is Twitter mad once again, and even though I hold the platform at arm’s length, it is hard not to be obsessively scrolling over the tweets bouncing back and forth like discordant sound. Even if you try not to get embroiled, headlines and soundbites echo the 280 characters driving a wedge between us all. Thanks to these Twitter tantrums, hate talk replaces straight talk with the ease of a click. Perhaps that was not always the intent of social media.

“At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with “Twitter uprising” or “Facebook revolution”, as global media tried to make sense of what was going on.

But despite western media’s love affair with the idea, the uprisings didn’t happen because of social media. Instead, the platforms provided opportunities for organization and protest that traditional methods couldn’t.

In the words of one protester, Fawaz Rashed: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”” (Maeves Shearlaw).

But over the past two years we have witnessed the lack of ‘coordinating’ in these minute messages, in fact, dialogue across spectrums has sunk to the worst form of discourse thanks to a lack of social norms in social media posts. Or just some new allowance that we can’t back away from perhaps.

close up of Queen Anne's Lace

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surviving the politics

Today I had a colleague call me out for an error, which was fine, but they then threw me under the bus by highlighting the mistake to my boss. Yeah, whatevs, thankfully I have no real concerns there. I mean, I know my value and all that, but who needs more crap, right? So much bad news streaming through our stream. Always more fear. More despair. More bad shit for us all to endure. We search for that one light flickering in the shadows, desperate for one bright second in the dark. What to do? Head to the pool to shake it off the best way I know. Diving into the green and stroke after stroke letting all that cool water slide over my stream till I’m smoothed over again.

indoor swimming pool

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