Some of us are finished with their holiday shopping. I am not one of those people. We’ve had a few mishaps since thanksgiving week, but we’re hoping to get our tree up this week and possibly put a few gifts under the tree then.
One of our traditions was to buy the kids a pair of new pajamas and a book to read for opening on Christmas Eve. One selfish reason for that was to get them into bed, but also to have them appropriately dressed for Christmas morning photos.
Other ideas are gift cards. I know that gift cards are one of those gifts that people feel strongly about in both directions. Some love them, and some would rather have a physical present. I love gift cards if they’re thought through. My brother-in-law gets me an Amazon gift card and I use it to buy a bunch of e-books. Couple that with a Starbucks card and I have hours of entertainment alongside my Hot Chai Latte.
If you’re still looking, check out some of these super people. I know most of them personally even if I haven’t ordered from them all. The books recommended in this post have all been read and enjoyed by me.
These are some people who I know personally even though I’ve not ordered from all of them. They are all creative and talented and making their way with their small businesses. If you’re looking for gifts for this holiday season; whatever holiday you’re celebrating or birthdays coming up, take a look at these friends and do yourself a favor.
Ms. Creation Soap Artisanal Soaps from Ms. Creation Soap; hand crafted in small batches
Wednesday marks eight-five days until Election Day – the all important mid-term elections.
A few things happened today that I want you to be aware of as we head into these mid-term elections. (Unfortunately, I do not have links, but this are easy to google.)
First, thanks to a commited Democratic party, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which goes a long way to meet our climate goals as well as reducing the deficit whlie providing help to families.
Second, the FDA is making hearing aids available over the counter (probably by mid-October). This is crucial, and not just to people on Medicare. I have been using hearing aids since I was 52. It should have been longer than that but we weren’t able to afford it. To get them, I had to see my primary doctor, an ENT specialist, have an MRI, get signed off by the ENT, then go to a hearing aid place to be fitted with hearing aids. The aids themselves were over $5000 without the doctor’s visits and the MRI. We were “lucky” because that year my son was in the hospital and so we reached our deductible in March rather than at the end of December (like usual) and a close relative died.
Third, a 16 year old in Florida has been told in a ruling by a court that she cannot have an abortion. The reason? She is not mature enough to make that kind of life altering decision. But raising a baby, she’s mature enough for that? GTFOH.
Fourth, Liz Cheney lost her primary to a MAGA lunatic, and I’m being somewhat generous by using the term lunatic. Look her up. I’m not a Cheney fan, but at least she’s not part of the conspiracy theorists. She has been an admirable Vice-Chair for the Jan. 6 committee, and perhaps Chairman Benny Thompson can include her as part of the legal staff or committee spokesperson after she can no longer serve in January.
These four examples are only four of the very many reasons that everyone needs to vote in the Election on November 8th. Vote all the traitors, Q-anons, and corrupt Republicans out of office. Vote Blue.
We have the opportunity to turn things around. It will take time, more time than we’d like, but it will happen if everyone buckles up and does their part. Democracy is at stake. Our futures and the futures of our children are at stake.
Beginning last Saturday, this easier to remember three-digit number is how to reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The other number still works, and this is not a new line. 988 will connect you to the existing suicide prevention lifeline. As with 1-800-273-8255, this is not a 9-1-1 call, and will not connect you to emergency services. This is crisis counseling with trained counselors. It may be used for phone calls, texts, and chat.
I have been struggling as I know many people around the country are struggling, especially women, girls, and trans and non-binary people with uteruses. I can’t promise that my language will be consistently inclusive in this writing. I can promise to try. Not mentioning trans/NB people doesn’t mean that they are not part of the discussion or part of my thoughts and fears, but right now, I have two strong emotions at play: first, my daughter and millions like her and second, the Constitution.
For those of us who grew up with constitutional norms and the sentimentality as well as the reality of the rule of law, who grew up with William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and for the people following now in the turmoil and unease of an activist court and are looking towards Ketanji Brown Jackson for similar inspiration, the death knell of the Constitution is heart-wrenching. Not as heart-wrenching as the forced birth of pubescent children or the forced trauma of losing a wanted pregnancy as well as the derailment of dreams, but it is still something to be mourned. I’m not sure we can come back. My eternal USA-USA optimism has been shaken to its core these last several years and this term of the Supreme Court has been the nail in the ever lowering coffin.
I studied law for half my college career and that came after a hobby of reading everything law related available, studying in my own way the law, knowing legal precedents and bathing in the light of the dreams of freedom. Re-reading that sentence now, it is so clear that I am speaking from a place of extreme privilege, my whiteness showing starker than the background of the screen I type on. Everything else, my Jewishness, my womanhood, my economic status – all of that is hidden under the whiteness that wrote that beloved Constitution. When I graduated from college, I got rid of most of my textbooks, but I kept ALL of my law books. Why? Well, they were historical. They set precedent with opinions from the greats, both before and during my lifetime. These books would continued to be studied for generations and while they would be added to, they would still be the basis for many rulings to come.
Little did I know.
The year I had jury duty was the year Justice William Brennan retired. I went to Brooklyn Federal Court, after driving over an hour and a half, parking underground, and walking across a public park to the courthouse, and I bought a Time magazine with his picture on the cover. I read it during my lunch before I was assigned to a case. I was excited. Until I listened to the case and discovered the weight of my civic duty. I was a hold-out for awhile, but we sorted it out and I was dismissed with the thanks of a grateful court. I couldn’t wait to do it again.
With one term, one swoop of Russian interference, Republican obstinance and recalcitrance, Senatorial and Presidential corruption, and let’s be honest, overt racism, and those books on my shelf have become obsolete.
Miranda – not required.
Engel v Vitale – coercive prayer
Roe v Wade – no bodily autonomy if you’re a woman, no privacy
MA v EPA – overturned – enjoy your brown air and water
Griswold, Casey, Oberfell – their futures in question
But Skokie? Skokie remains. Oh, unless you’re picketing the Supreme Court justices. In that case, no first amendment rights for you. Who cares about McCullen v Coakley?
This week in Akron, Ohio, a ten year old girl was forced to go to Indiana to obtain an abortion after her rape because a judge ruled that she was three days over the legal limit to get one in Ohio. Truly, the Lord’s work, amirite? During this same week and same town, a Black man (Jayland Walker) was shot in the back sixty times (ninety rounds fired) for running away from a traffic stop.
These two incidents, traumas on families and communities are only a microcosm of what is happening across this country.
It is only a matter of time before a rapist is granted joint custody with their victim for a forced birth baby. Who thinks that this is okay?
We (with SCOTUS leading the way) are dismantling the First Amendment. The most important amendment. So important it comes first, before anything else. I remind you that we are not a Christian nation. We are multicultural, interfaith, NO faith, multidimensional, and to stay free we must act free. All of us. Violating one person’s civil rights, their human rights is a stain for us all.
The First Amendment falls as fascism rises: little by little and then all at once. You are here in the timeline.
Yesterday morning, I attended my church online. I usually attend online. As the mass ended and the congregation was dismissed to relay the Good News, the priest and deacon processed from the altar to the music and singing of America the Beautiful. I can’t say what I would have done had I been there, but at home, online, I turned it off. I thought, and continue to think it’s inappropriate. I get that people want a patriotic song, and as far as patriotic songs go, this one isn’t bad, but as a recessional to mass?
No. No. No.
The song on its own wasn’t the problem. Play it after the mass is actually over, while people are still congregating, but not as part of the closing.
I have two distinct memories of my father’s patriotism. We were at a professional baseball game (The Mets, of course), and I didn’t stand for the National Anthem. It wasn’t a protest. It was a lazy elementary school child. The look he gave me. The same for a school assembly when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I had no problem with the Pledge, but my sitting wasn’t an option. This look was accompanied by a whispered admonition. And I remember those moments with my dad. He wasn’t a nationalist; he wasn’t our country can do no wrong, but he knew the importance of that respect and I do too. I don’t think he would appreciate how I feel today and how I don’t want to celebrate Independence Day. Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States took away what little freedom my daughter and I had, and I can’t celebrate that. I hear Black and brown people asking what we’re celebrating in the first place, and I hear them.
I have four books to recommend to everyone and then one more thing:
About six or seven years ago, maybe a bit longer, I was driving in the car with my daughter and she suddenly said through a tight throat and tiny tears that she didn’t want to have a baby. She hadn’t even gotten her period yet. She was under ten or was ten, I don’t remember. What I do remember was trying not to cry because she was so appalled about the idea of having a baby, not the idea of being a mom even though that was kind of foreign to her, but physically being forced to have a baby when she didn’t want one. I said to that she didn’t need to worry about that. No one was going to force her to have a baby. She wanted to know how I knew that. I told her I knew that because I would never let that happen. Never.
And I never will.
Not my daughter, and not yours, and not trans men or non-binary folks. No one.
This past weekend was spent in scavenger hunting fun! Since the pandemic, they’ve (GISH) been doing more and more mini-hunts to give people on lockdown something to do and raise money for charity. This most recent hunt was called a Book Bash and most of the items centered around reading and writing. My go-to’s if you will. With my writing retreat cancelled I found myself with nothing* to do so I signed up at the last minute.
[*Nothing to do means: cleaning house, taking a shower, going to mass, planning and cooking dinner, writing, preparing and filing my taxes, typing up interfaith meeting notes, writing and sending Cursillo reports, and half a dozen other things that are still on my to-do list, but hey who doens’t have 48 hours to spend aimlessly. I also signed up for a free vision journal workshop at a food co-op.]
Aimlessly doesn’t accurately describe the weekend, but I think you get the drift of the lack of impulse control I sometimes have.
Before I share the few items I did, I want to share the link to the charity that we supported with our registration fees: World Central Kitchen for their current humanitarian work in Ukraine. Their leader is Chef Jose Andres who leads with his heart and encourages giving especially where getting hungry people their necessary nourishment. If you have the mean, please give generously. They are on the ground in the world’s poorest and dangerous places, bringing hope with their meals.
Writing prompts. Where do they come from? I once read a tweet by Benjamin Dreyer who I defer to in almost all matters of grammar and copyediting, but there are two things I disagree with:
1. an historic is correct, and
2. He is incorrect when he says that not everything is a writing prompt.
In fact, EVERYTHING is a writing prompt.
That bird nestling in the tree outside your garage. Writing Prompt.
That car that went through the stop sign. Writing Prompt.
A sink full of dirty dishes. Writing Prompt.
Your child’s laughter. Writing Prompt.
Everything around you is a writing prompt.
Take for example this week’s Target ad. Advertisers tell you what you should be focusing on in the new year and encourage you to better yourself whether you need to or not. The first couple of weeks of ads focus on that new year, new you spirit, and of course they want you to buy things. If you follow the seasonal editorial/advertising schedule you’ll also see what people are interested in and looking for.
Going through the Target ad there are easily ten separate things that can be written as features, blog posts, listicles, and whatever else you might think of. Just like “Low Prices!” Target copywriters can offer titles or sub-titles to a longer piece: “Home Refresh” and “Clean Every Surface“.
The subjects include, but of course are not limited to: laundry, cleaning, restocking essentials, baby stuff – diapers, formula, furniture, vitamins, exercise equipment, office and stationary organization and “essential items” now with taxes right around the corner, and at the end of the ad is the reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming soon so get those blog posts written and those pictures taken.
Personally, I’ve already made my list from the ad of most of the things we’ve run out of over the holidays while we were preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s. We made do with what we had, but now it’s time to restock.
I’ve also started writing in my new calendar/planner so I need to begin writing with some of the prompts I’ve been collecting.
There are exactly forty-three (43) weeks until the next Election Day. This is the mid-terms and we need to keep the House AND the Senate. We have slim majorities in both, and we are already seeing how Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell has been abusing his power. We need to make Joe Manchin one of one hundred instead of THE ONE who can capsize what the majority of us want for this country and our families.
Yes, this is a mid-term election, but regardless, there are NO OFF YEARS. We need to get in it and STAY in it.
Check out the links below to see what you can do NOW!
NOTE:In the Pennsylvania Senate race, I am not endorsing either candidate, but giving you information and the websites of both candidates who I am familiar with. Both have government experience in local and state positions.
Two of my very favorite organizing tools are Evernote and Business Calendar 2. My links go to the Amazon store since I use my Kindle more than anything else, but both are available in the Google Store and if you have i-products you can check the Apple Store. Both come in a free and a paid version.
Evernote lets you keep information organized in separate “books”. A few of mine are: Quotations, Writing Prompts, A Book of Days (to track holidays), and Travel Notes for on the go.
Business Calendar 2 is the best calendar app I have ever used, and I have used more than a few. I’ve been using it for about two weeks, and it took me a couple of days to see how beneficial this calendar app is to my life!
The free version lets me do everything I absolutely need to do with a calendar/organizer with a minimum of ads. There are a few advanced features that I would like, and I plan to eventually purchase the paid version. In addition to no ads, it will let me multi-pick for deleting agenda items at the end of the day. But realistically, that’s only for my preference. It is completely usable and useful with just the free download.