Election Connection: 42 Weeks

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From Crooked Media comes a new six-episode series talking to whomever necessary in order to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box on November 3rd. This election is too important to skip out on. We’ve seen what can happen when the wrong person is in The White House, and we have forty-two weeks to rectify this.

What will it take to defeat Donald Trump in November? In season 2 of The Wilderness, Jon Favreau looks for the path to victory in 2020 by talking to voters, strategists, organizers, and candidates in the battleground states that will decide the election.

Favreau takes listeners to the four most competitive regions on the road to 270 electoral votes and 51 Senate seats, where he conducts focus groups with voters in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin. The series also follows grassroots organizers and candidates in these states who share their winning strategies to reach these voters.

Through his own experience as a campaign veteran and speechwriter for Barack Obama, Favreau attempts to unpack the complicated and often surprising reasons voters support a particular candidate, or choose not to participate at all.

Episodes 1 and 2 are available now wherever you get your podcasts. (I personally use Player.FM and like its service very much.)

Subscribe so the rest of the series will automatically download each week and you won’t miss any. If you didn’t catch The Wilderness, Part 1 when it premiered, the link will take you to the first of fifteen episodes that are well worth listening to.

The Wilderness, Part 2

Episode 1: The Stakes

Episode 2: The Northeast

New Year, New Retreat: How’d I Do?

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Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? How did I do this weekend?

I’ve reproduced the quixotic list I put on the New Year, New Retreat post. I think I knew as soon as I hit publish that the list was a bit grandiose for the amount of time I had left in the weekend. It was too much to get done in half a weekend. Half of the list has been on a list in some form or other for the past six months. I did get some of it done, though! And as I went back through my notes and thought about it, I did pretty well. Here are the results:

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

DONE

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH IT

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

TENTATIVELY PLANNED WITH PRIMARY DATES AND MOST RESOURCES

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

I DID ONE.

5. Wales book outline.

STARTED A LIST, NOT NECESSARILY IN ORDER

6. Labyrinth book outline.

DONE-ISH

So, actually not bad with the admission that I did some finishing touches this afternoon between grocery shopping and a church activity. And I now have some things to concentrate on for the next few weeks.

Happy New Year!

Hen Galan

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Today marks the celebration of Hen Galan or the Welsh New Year. This has been celebrated in Wales on 13 January since 1752 when Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar from the Julian one, making the new year begin on January 1st. This is the Gregorian calendar which we use today. At that time, many people believed that losing those eleven days from the calendar coincided with losing those eleven days from their lives.

The village of Cwn Gwaun continues to celebrate this holiday in modern times. If the day falls on a weekday, school is closed. The town gathers with each other, in houses or more likely in the pub in town. It’s festive, filled with fun and feasting in celebration. Children go door-to-door or farm-to-farm around the valley parish (about 18 miles) singing traditional Welsh songs and receiving calennig from the grown-ups, sweets or money. It was like having two Christmases.

Enjoy the following links and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Hen Galan: Welsh village celebrates new year on 13 January (first published 2019)

The tiny Welsh village that celebrates New Year’s Eve on this night every year: In Cwn Gwaun they party like it’s 1699! (first published 2018)

Gwaun Valley children mark old New Year (first published 2012)

Snowdon Mountains, North Wales. (c)2020

New Year, New Retreat

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My first retreat of the year. A weekend devoted to writing memoir. I’m glad that it’s occuring at the end of the first full week of January. As you know from my previous writing and posts, I try to assess my life, goals, and writing at various times throughout the year and recalibrate. And coming at the traditional New Year, after all the major holidays are winding down and finished, January is always a good time to reassess nearly everything.

From past experiences, I know that this weekend’s retreat will be prayerful, but in addition to that it is primarily a writing weekend. This is the first retreat that I’ve brought my computer to, partly because it’s a newly acquired computer, and partly since it was offered as an option for our writing this weekend. I hesitated because despite my bringing my Kindle on retreats, I still try to unplug and get back to basics, but here I am: pad, pen, headphones, and computer.

I feel like this is an opportunity to jump start my commitment to writing, whether here on Griffins and Ginger Snaps or my ongoing book projects, journaling or what have you that I keep listing on assorted organizing apps. As I prepared for this weekend, I considered what I might want to accomplish before I returned home on Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with a to-do list or unrealistic expectations, but I also want to get things done. I’ve started a few ongoing series that I want to keep fresh and consistent. Talking about my Election Connection series on Twitter got me two likes (one from Alyssa Mastromonaco and one from Jon Favreau), and as you may remember, I collect likes just as I used to collect autographs when I was a kid. It was thrilling to get that small acknowledgement from two people I respect so much. But I digress.

As I thought about this weekend, made my packing lists, and prepared my mind, I really wanted to put a spotlight on my priorities and my intentions, and the three things that immediately came to me was

spiritual
political
writing.

This weekend allows me to remind myself that my writing is so many things for me. It is a creative outlet of course as it gives me space to express myself, my thoughts and beliefs. It lets me share with others and absorb new ideas. It is therapy. It is spiritual, prayerful even.

What do I want from this weekend and this ongoing year?

Do I really know?

Spiritually: Well, I definitely want to increase my spirituality and my faith. I want to use what I learned on my Cursillo weekend more consistently and routinely; pursuing persistently.

Politically: I want to encourage friends, family, and strangers that being political is life-saving. It is life-empowering. While politics can seem a far off, abstract, divisive, talking aimlessly without really listening, doesn’t affect me in real life, it actually affects our daily lives and trying to respond to that and protect ourselves from the current climate of racism, lies, and disinformation (propaganda) is all of our responsibilities; to ourselves and to each other. This is an election year. Well, they all are, but this presidential one has serious ramifications and consequences. The GOP is taking away Americans’ health care, women’s autonomous rights, LGBT+ rights, fair and free elections, and so much more that I can’t even get it all out without screaming into the void. I will not be silent.

Writing and Publishing: I want to write. Well. Constantly. Consistently. Be published. Finish a project and then start another one.

This retreat is one way, the first step to get that focus, write what I need to write, what I want to write, center on my personal priorities, set up my writing, schedule my goals and subjects, and just get shit done. And it’s only the start of what could be a great year.

I arrived here on Friday night in the dark amid a mixture of rain and sleet. It was cold, but I was pleasantly warm once I entered the building. I was greeted by familiar faces and the hushed tones of others settling into their rooms. I expected to be assigned my regular room, the one I had requested, and was taken aback and surprised to be given a different one. Simultaneously a short, internal struggle and confusion took place while outwardly, I took it in stride. As much as you read my rants, I’m not much of a complainer, and this new room was just as comfortable as my regular one, just as close to the bathroom, and included a recliner next to the window. I checked out this different recliner in this different room, which was mainly what I was looking forward to in the old one. This one was blue, rather than red, and slightly too close to the wall (which I rectified immediately), and it worked out just as well, just as comfortable, and after unpacking and settling in, I sat down, reclined, and got out my kindle. Before long, it was time to meet the group I’d be spending my weekend with. As an aside, after lunch, my intention to write was undermined by the comfort of the chair as it put me to sleep, easily for an hour. I was lucky that I set an alarm or I would have missed the next session.

Three things I noticed that were unusual for a retreat weekend: First, I made dinner (homemade chicken pot pie, and it was delicious) and ate before I left for the retreat center. We often grab something on the go or I eat in my room while my husband takes the kids to Sonic or McDonald’s. Second, I brought my computer, which made me feel odd at first. I’ll get used to it, but it’s such a different mindset to be in. And, third, I’m in a different room (which I may have mentioned), and that will take a little time to adjust to.

Morning brings bright sunshine to make up for the night rain, warm oatmeal, inspired daily readings, book recommendations for writing and for writing memoir, prompts, and then writing. What’s seemingly wonderful is the time given to write, think, pray, rest; whatever needs to be in order to get the mind in the writing place. There are no wrong answers. A bottle of soda, a handful of M&Ms, reading my devotional, listening to Saturday’s Lovett or Leave It, also the first for 2020, stepping out into the cold courtyard for a moment of fresh air. Inspiration is everywhere. Motivation, however…

How will I tackle two sessions before mass, and one after? Will lists be enough? Will focusing on three separate topics keep me going? And once this weekend is finished, how will I keep the momentum moving forward?

I’ll leave you with a list of what I plan for the rest of the weekend, and I’ll check in on Monday (another “New Year”) with what I actually got done, word counts, new words learned (thesaurus.com is a lifesaver), and other motivation that I hope you can use for your own writing or New Year’s goals.

1. Set up editorial calendar for the next three months from my personal Book of Days.

2. Finish planning and research the rest of the tea series for January.

3. Plan out Election Connection through Leap Day.

4. Write stories from Canada that I’ve been meaning to write since the summer.

5. Wales book outline.

6. Labyrinth book outline.

Current – Information on Iran Tensions and Soleimani

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There has been a lot of news in the past week concerning Iran. There has also been a lot of misinformation, unfortunately coming from the State Department and the White House. Contradictory stories, communication mistake with Iraq, and no notification to Congress as required by law. There was even reporting that the President expressed wanting to keep some GOP Senators happy for his impeachment trial and they wanted Soleimani taken care of. I’m not going to get into what’s true, what’s not, but after three years, and more than 15,000 lies from the President, I’m inclined to not give him the benefit of the doubt.

What I offer instead is a podcast that will help you wade through the noise, hear the facts, hear some analysis, and inform yourself of what’s going on with the tensions with Iran.

Pod Save the World is co-hosted by Tommy Vietor and Ben Rhodes. It includes news, analysis, and interviews as well as their conversations about what’s happening around the world. Both worked in the Obama Administration on foreign policy, Vietor as spokesman for President Obama and the National Security Council (2011-2013) and Rhodes as Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (2009-2017).

Pod Save the World series

Pod Save the World – Iran retaliates to the Soleimani strike This includes a very informative interview about Iraq, Iran, and Soleimani’s death with Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL from 2015 to his resignation in 2018.

Friday Food: Super, Simple Super Bowl Snacks

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With New Year’s just past and the Super Bowl coming up in a few short weeks (Feb. 2), I thought I’d share some of my family’s easy to prepare foods. For New Year’s this past week, we actually cooked very little. Most of our food was simple, store-bought, easy to prepare, easy to clean up, and best of all, yummy.

1. Dip. We love the dill dip from Marzetti. It can be found in the refrigerated area of your grocery’s produce section. We like to pair it up with a variety of items to dip, including: pretzels, crackers, bread chunks, raw snow peas, raw green beans, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, potato chips. If you want to dress up your table, scoop out the insides of a round bread loaf and put the dip inside. Looks great, no clean up!

2. Hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough. You can buy these premade (we like the Hebrew National ones) or you can make them yourself. I’d recommend cutting the hot dogs in three, and cutting each crescent roll triangle in two. You get twice as many little dogs and it’s not over doughy.

3. Mini quiches or mini potato puffs. Again, you can buy these premade or make them yourself. For either of these, use a mini muffin tin. Put in a puff pastry square and add your ingredients. For quiches: eggs, cheese, onion, bacon. For potato puffs: mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese. Delicious.

4. Cheese and crackers. In addition to cheese cut in chunks, there are also cheese spreads that are very good on crackers. Add pepperoni to the platter for a little extra.

5. Dessert. Break and bake chocolate chip cookies. Brownie bites. Ice cream. Mini cheesecakes are also an excellent option. Use those mini muffin tins again. Put some crushed graham crackers in the bottom, use your favorite cheesecake recipe, add whipped cream when serving.

Supernatural Lists: Special Episodes

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This is part of an ongoing series in homage to the series finale of Supernatural, ending its run with its fifteenth season. The first of these lists was Characters Who’ve Died and Come Back. This new list include some of the more special episodes they’ve shown over the years: black and white, musical, meta. If I’ve left any out, please add them in comments and I’ll include them in a later update. Supernatural returns to The CW network on Thursday, January 16 at 8 P.M.

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