Election Connection: 17 Weeks: Can Donald Trump Win in November?

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Not if we turn out and vote.

We must pay attention to the various voter suppression tactics across the country from now through Election Day.

One way to stay aware is to stay informed. Read this article, Donald Trump Has A Secret Plan To Win (Seriously) by Dan Pfeiffer.

Dan also has a new book out this year on how we can beat Donald Trump and Untrump America.

Mini GISH Hunt

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Back in April, I participated in a stay-at-home 24 hour scavenger hunt. We raised money for meals for kids who are out of school due to the covid-19 pandemic. At this moment, I am in the middle of a second stay-at-home mini hunt, this time for 25 hours. If you’re interested in joining the fun for our week long hunt in August, visit GISH and see what all the fussun is about.

These are the three items I completed. I also filled out an application for an absentee ballot for the June primary and November election.

Create a couch potato. (c)2020
Create a Haiku for washing your hands. (c)2020
Thank the essential workers in your town and tweet it. (c)2020

Is It Really Quarantine If You’re Not Baking Bread?

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About a week into quarantine, I told my kids that we’d make bread. They groaned. We had all the ingredients – at our first grocery run before isolation I got a bag each of flour and sugar. I don’t know why; it just felt like a staple I needed like milk, bread, and eggs. I just thought I should have it in the house as if I were Ma Ingalls and baked fresh bread every morning (which I do not).

The next week, I said it again. Hey kids, do either of you have any FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) class assignments? Let’s bake bread. They groaned. We did not bake bread.

Another week went by and my daughter asked to go to the supermarket; she had an assignment that she needed to prepare and photograph and submit for FACS. I cheered. We’ll bake bread! No, she said after she groaned; I’m making a grilled chicken salad. Fine, I said, but you need to make enough for all of us to eat lunch. She groaned again.

I watched people all over Twitter and Facebook baking bread. Some used regular rising yeast, some used self-rising flour, some used starters, mostly sourdough starter, a lot made banana bread. A lot. Why were my kids immune to the call of the fresh smell of baking bread. Sure, I could have made it on my own, but we can buy bread. I didn’t need fresh bread. I hated the kneading, and my dough was never smooth like in the photos or on the Food Network, and I wanted it to be a family project. Me and the kids, measuring and watching the dough rising, kneading like we used to do with playdoh, and then baking it at three hundred fifty degrees for thirty to forty minutes. Why wouldn’t they cooperate?

Five years ago, I would have had them. They’d put on the too-big aprons and they’d get flour on their faces, and they’d burn their fingers trying to pull bits of bread right when it came out of the oven. Five years is a long time in kid ages. My two youngest are fourteen and fifteen, and they had no interest in baking bread with Mommy.

We have to, I said more than once. Everyone is baking bread. Everyone, I whispered. Is it really quarantine if we’re not baking bread? They looked at me in that way that teenagers look at their parents – the face that is partly pity and partly embarrassment; and not of you, but for you. I let them walk away.

We were cooking at least I thought with a shrug. We made pasta, Chef Jose Andres‘ Angel hair with tomato sauce (he called it pomodoro), chicken Alfredo, meatloaf, homemade meatballs, lasagna, roast chicken, pork in orange sauce, even my own leek and potato soup.

And still no bread.

Until….

I have a friend in Oklahoma who made a starter and offered it to her friends, like a chain letter. You get the starter, you grow it, and then, after ten days, you bake your bread, and you share the rest with your friends leaving one cup for you to continue the starter or freeze it for when you’re ready. for more Hmm, I thought, sure why not.

About two weeks later, a small postal box arrived at my doorstop. My starter was here! This was day one, and the directions couldn’t have been easier: do nothing.

I can do nothing.

For ten days, I mix the starter in the bag and I feed it twice. At the second feeding it’s ready to divide and use.

I put on my red apron, I got covered with flour because really what choice did I have – that stuff gets everywhere! One of the best parts of this type of bread is that apart from the starter, I already had every ingredient in my house.

I mixed it smooth. There is no kneading; it has a batter consistency and it poured into the loaf pan easily. I covered it with cinnamon sugar, although I feel as though in the end I should have mixed the sugar with butter to give it a streusel-style topping. I will try that when I make this the next time, and I will definitely add my results in here with an update (but not for awhile). I baked the bread on Wednesday, and I still have a full half of a loaf left. I think my family hasn’t figured out where the bread is or it would be gone already.

Apart from the community of what seems like the entire world baking bread simultaneously, the act of baking the bread is its own therapy. It brings out the homesteading, the nurturing, the nesting that just naturally happens in days of trauma, especially this shared trauma we’ve been facing. This feels different, though, maybe not as natural as other moments, and there is a level of stress and an undercurrent of fear sitting on the surface; the unknown that awaits. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, bread rising is an act of faith. You can follow the directions, mix all the ingredients, knead and rise, and it works or it doesn’t. Sweet breads are a little different, but there is still the wonder of making something from your hands and then sharing that with the people around you, whether that is physically with your family or here online with the people who make up our community.

I got the starter and I followed the directions. I added the ingredients. I mixed. I poured. I spread. I baked.

It hadn’t taken much for the house to smell like a bakery. A little cinnamon and vanilla goes a long way. The smells combined with each other – the cinnamon mixed in with the vanilla – and then it spread throughout the entire house until it was just there; it was consoling, comforting. It calmed. It’s quiet work reassured that things are okay and if they’re not okay right now, they will be. They will be.

Twenty-twenty’s been a year, hasn’t it? We’ll get through it in our own ways and yet still together.

It will take time, but we’ll be okay.

And there will always be bread.

For anyone who wants to make this bread, this is the link for the ingredients and directions as well as a few photos from my baking venture.

Mental Health Monday – Having a RUFF Day?

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Simple Self-Care Mental Health from The Mighty.

As described on their website, The Mighty is “a safe, supportive community for people facing health challenges and the people who care for them.”

Acronyms are a simple way to check in with ourselves. RUFF is one of those. Click the link and read the article’s thoughts and suggestions.

On Demand, Without Apology

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I listened to an amazing podcast last week from the women of Hysteria, who drop a pod every week with their perspectives on what’s going on in the news and the world. They are part of the Crooked Media family. I know, I post so much of Crooked Media’s media that I seem to be a stan, and to be honest, I am. I listen to most of their stuff, don’t agree with absolutely everything, but I always learn something.

This episode of Hysteria was called Abortion On Demand, No Apologies, and it is where I got the title for this post from. Erin Ryan and Alyssa Mastromanoco begun wuth a conversion about last week’s news and outrage and then Erin is joined by Grace Parra, Megan Gailey, and Dana Schwartz who all share very personal, and very poignant stories of their experiences with abortion and reproductive health. It is something that affects all of us every day. It’s very emotional for the podcasters as well as for me the listener. I was transported alongside them and I was touched deeply by their words.

I’m pro-choice, but that is all I will offer by way of my own opinions. The women of Hysteria really lay their experiences on the line. I’ll leave it to them to share their stories. 

One thing that was said however that I do want to share, and it stems from the Me, too movement, Times Up, Male politicians who know nothing of women’s bodies regulating them and passing laws that are not only Draconian, but also physically impossible to enforce (reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy in the uterus is one example). Whenever a man, and it is almost always a man, decides that an embryo is more valueable than a real live women, women all across this country need to rise up, protest, and in doing so are forced into a retraumatization of their original hell, whether that is rape, incest, abortion, or any other trauma faced. They are expected to bare their souls, and then they are often ridiculed and the men are often astounded that what happened to them is real, and they are sorry, but not sorry enough to let women control their own bodies.

I really don’t know which is worse – the original trauma or the reliving each and every time a politician decides that women need their help in making medical decisions. They relive the trauma, and there is no apology for them in their living nightmare.

Please hear these women.

On Demand, Without Apology Link to Podcast, originally airing May 23, 2019..

Where Are My Bootstraps?

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​Unless you live in Massachusetts where it’s Patriot Day, today is Tax Day. If you’re just filing your taxes now, you’ve realized just how much the Republican Tax Scam screwed you over. Sure they raised the standard deduction, but they’ve taken away most of your itemizations through limits. We somehow managed to do okay despite our taxes rising by over one thousand dollars. In fact, married filing joint is only $100 less tax due than a single person making nearly the same amount. I believe the only reason we didn’t owe was because we were already having too much withheld. Our motto is live on less, so we can repair our house and car in the spring.

We reached our health insurance’s maximum out of pocket in 2018, and we still couldn’t deduct our medical. Or our taxes, mortgage interest, or the little we give to charity. Good thing we don’t give to charity for the tax deduction; we give because it’s the right thing to do when you have more than someone else (even if it’s not that much more).

We have two kids at home and in school and one out on his own, and while he’s been pitching in with his own expenses for quite some time now, his moving out didn’t lower our expenses. He is still on our phone plan, our automatic toll payments, our AAA, our health insurance, and we don’t begrudge or judge him for any of those things. One, it’s cheaper for all of us, and two, it’s what a family does. One day I’m sure I’ll be on his phone plan.

The main point isn’t that I don’t want to pay taxes; I do. It’s my responsibility as an American citizen to pay my share. What I don’t understand is how we allow the wealthy to avoid paying their taxes. I don’t understand how teacher are not allowed to claim school supplies on their taxes, but if you have a private jet, the gas is deductible. It’s absurd that we continue to allow this to happen.

So that’s my rant. Despite it, my taxes were mailed last week, and with no savings, now we’ll struggle until our refund comes and I can pay back the private loan I took out, maybe I can get a pair of glasses that I’ve needed for over a year, pay for half of my hearing aids before they decide to send those to collection, but there will be no new roof (again, this is year 3 of waiting), no smooth driveway (which isn’t as luxurious as it seems – the more it sinks, the muddier it gets, the icier in the winter), no toilet in our upstairs bathroom (a necessity in a family of five), no oven for another six months to a year, no fridge which should have been replaced when we moved in and were lied to about its age.

We have it good, but it still hurts to say no to your kids for something as innocuous as a trip to McDonald’s or a candy bar for no special occasion. I don’t want to spoil them with European vacations, but it might be nice to take a long weekend to Niagara Falls or Washington, DC.

I truly am grateful for what we do have, and appreciate how lucky we are, but sometimes it’s important to let the people who don’t understand “real life” know what is going on in most of America – your neighbors, your friends, your kids’ classmates. I wish the Republicans in Congress would see this, but I’m not sure they’d care to be honest.

I’d like to close this with a link to a 2014 article that is still relevant today about how the realities of living inn bootstrap America and how most daily annoyances are catastrophic for many people living paycheck to paycheck.

A Friend in Need…

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Last week I briefly mentioned that a friend of mine passed away suddenly. Nick, and his fiance, Morgan were my teammates on our annual Gishwhes scavenger hunt. I had known Nick for just over three years.

Nick was a fun, caring, kind person; one of the kindest I’ve had the privilege to know and his family is devastated by his loss.

Morgan’s sister set up this Go Fund Me to help them and give their family a little peace of mind until any benefits from Nick become available. They are in the process of moving to a new state, a new home, and new schools for the kids. And, of course, they will be doing all of this while they are grieving and healing. To say this is a stressful time would be an understatement.

If you can share this Go Fund Me, I would thank you, and if you can afford to donate, every little bit helps and is appreciated, please do.

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