Happy New Year 2021

This new year is not the marker we all want right now. I hear people talk about 'getting back to normal' or 'the New normal'.
I think it is way too soon to make guesses about how that will look. There is this nice clean New Year, though. Each of us must make of it what we will.

Here is Pentatonix's version of Auld Lang Syne:

And this link is to a good article about the song and its lyrics.

And the lyrics:

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
well take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I'll be mine!
And well take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pud the gowans fine;
But weve wanderd mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paddld i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roard
sin auld lang syne.

And theres a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o thine!
And well tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/12/31/auld-lang-syne-meaning-239618


HCR on Endings and Beginnings

Heather Cox Richardson has been the voice I've followed throughout most of this year.
It felt appropriate to post here her latest two posts:  December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021 That is what follows.

And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.

It’s been quite a year.

But I had a chance to talk with history podcaster Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers yesterday, and he asked a more interesting question. He pointed out that we are now twenty years into this century, and asked what I thought were the key changes of those twenty years. I chewed on this question for awhile and also asked readers what they thought. Pulling everything together, here is where I’ve come out.

In America, the twenty years since 2000 have seen the end game of the Reagan Revolution, begun in 1980.

In that era, political leaders on the right turned against the principles that had guided the country since the 1930s, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt guided the nation out of the Great Depression by using the government to stabilize the economy. During the Depression and World War Two, Americans of all parties had come to believe the government had a role to play in regulating the economy, providing a basic social safety net and promoting infrastructure.

But reactionary businessmen hated regulations and the taxes that leveled the playing field between employers and workers. They called for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s, but got no traction until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the Supreme Court, under the former Republican governor of California, Earl Warren, unanimously declared racial segregation unconstitutional. That decision, and others that promoted civil rights, enabled opponents of the New Deal government to attract supporters by insisting that the country’s postwar government was simply redistributing tax dollars from hardworking white men to people of color.

That argument echoed the political language of the Reconstruction years, when white southerners insisted that federal efforts to enable formerly enslaved men to participate in the economy on terms equal to white men were simply a redistribution of wealth, because the agents and policies required to achieve equality would cost tax dollars and, after the Civil War, most people with property were white. This, they insisted, was “socialism.”

To oppose the socialism they insisted was taking over the East, opponents of black rights looked to the American West. They called themselves Movement Conservatives, and they celebrated the cowboy who, in their inaccurate vision, was a hardworking white man who wanted nothing of the government but to be left alone to work out his own future. In this myth, the cowboys lived in a male-dominated world, where women were either wives and mothers or sexual playthings, and people of color were savage or subordinate.

With his cowboy hat and western ranch, Reagan deliberately tapped into this mythology, as well as the racism and sexism in it, when he promised to slash taxes and regulations to free individuals from a grasping government. He promised that cutting taxes and regulations would expand the economy. As wealthy people—the “supply side” of the economy-- regained control of their capital, they would invest in their businesses and provide more jobs. Everyone would make more money.

From the start, though, his economic system didn’t work. Money moved upward, dramatically, and voters began to think the cutting was going too far. To keep control of the government, Movement Conservatives at the end of the twentieth century ramped up their celebration of the individualist white American man, insisting that America was sliding into socialism even as they cut more and more domestic programs, insisting that the people of color and women who wanted the government to address inequities in the country simply wanted “free stuff.” They courted social conservatives and evangelicals, promising to stop the “secularization” they saw as a partner to communism.

After the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, talk radio spread the message that Black and Brown Americans and “feminazis” were trying to usher in socialism. In 1996, that narrative got a television channel that personified the idea of the strong man with subordinate women. The Fox News Channel told a story that reinforced the Movement Conservative narrative daily until it took over the Republican Party entirely.

The idea that people of color and women were trying to undermine society was enough of a rationale to justify keeping them from the vote, especially after Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993, making it easier for poor people to register to vote. In 1997, Florida began the process of purging voter rolls of Black voters.

And so, 2000 came.

In that year, the presidential election came down to the electoral votes in Florida. Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes over Republican candidate George W. Bush, but Florida would decide the election. During the required recount, Republican political operatives led by Roger Stone descended on the election canvassers in Miami-Dade County to stop the process. It worked, and the Supreme Court upheld the end of the recount. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and, thanks to its electoral votes, became president. Voter suppression was a success, and Republicans would use it, and after 2010, gerrymandering, to keep control of the government even as they lost popular support.

Bush had promised to unite the country, but his installation in the White House gave new power to the ideology of the Movement Conservative leaders of the Reagan Revolution. He inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor Democrat Bill Clinton, but immediately set out to get rid of it by cutting taxes. A balanced budget meant money for regulation and social programs, so it had to go. From his term onward, Republicans would continue to cut taxes even as budgets operated in the red, the debt climbed, and money moved upward.

The themes of Republican dominance and tax cuts were the backdrop of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. That attack gave the country’s leaders a sense of mission after the end of the Cold War and, after launching a war in Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda, they set out to export democracy to Iraq. This had been a goal for Republican leaders since the Clinton administration, in the belief that the United States needed to spread capitalism and democracy in its role as a world leader. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq strengthened the president and the federal government, creating the powerful Department of Homeland Security, for example, and leading Bush to assert the power of the presidency to interpret laws through signing statements.

The association of the Republican Party with patriotism enabled Republicans in this era to call for increased spending for the military and continued tax cuts, while attacking Democratic calls for domestic programs as wasteful. Increasingly, Republican media personalities derided those who called for such programs as dangerous, or anti-American.

But while Republicans increasingly looked inward to their party as the only real Americans and asserted power internationally, changes in technology were making the world larger. The Internet put the world at our fingertips and enabled researchers to decode the human genome, revolutionizing medical science. Smartphones both made communication easy. Online gaming created communities and empathy. And as many Americans were increasingly embracing rap music and tattoos and LGBTQ rights, as well as recognizing increasing inequality, books were pointing to the dangers of the power concentrating at the top of societies. In 1997, J.K. Rowling began her exploration of the rise of authoritarianism in her wildly popular Harry Potter books, but her series was only the most famous of a number of books in which young people conquered a dystopia created by adults.

In Bush’s second term, his ideology created a perfect storm. His administration's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and caused $125 billion in damage in and around New Orleans in 2005, revealed how badly the new economy had treated Black and Brown people, and how badly the destruction of domestic programs had affected our ability to respond to disasters. Computers permitted the overuse of credit default swaps that precipitated the 2008 crash, which then precipitated the housing crisis, as people who had bet on the individualist American dream lost their homes. Meanwhile, the ongoing wars, plagued with financial and moral scandals, made it clear that the Republicans optimistic vision of spreading democracy through military conflict was unrealistic.

In 2008, voters put Black American Barack Obama, a Democrat, into the White House. To Republicans, primed by now to believe that Democrats and Black people were socialists, this was an undermining of the nation itself, and they set out to hamper him. While many Americans saw Obama as the symbol of a new, fairer government with America embracing a multilateral world, reactionaries built a backlash based in racism and sexism. They vocally opposed a federal government they insisted was pushing socialism on hardworking white men, and insisted that America must show its strength by exerting its power unilaterally in the world. Increasingly, the Internet and cell phones enabled people to have their news cater to their worldview, moving Republicans into a world characterized by what a Republican spokesperson would later call "alternative facts."

And so, in 2016, we faced a clash between a relentlessly changing nation and the individualist ideology of the Movement Conservatives who had taken over the Republican Party. By then, that ideology had become openly radical extremism in the hands of Donald Trump, who referred to immigrants as criminals, boasted of sexually assaulting women, and promised to destroy the New Deal government once and for all.

In the 2016 election, the themes of the past 36 years came together. Embracing Movement Conservative individualist ideology taken to an extreme, Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn't win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives. They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which permitted corporate money to flow into election campaigns, Trump also had the help of a wave of money from big business; financial institutions spent $2 billion to influence the election. He also had the support of evangelicals, who believed he would finally give them the anti-abortion laws they wanted.

Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but, as George W. Bush before him, won in the Electoral College. Once in office, this president set out to destroy the New Deal state, as Movement Conservatives had called for, returning the country to the control of a small group of elite businessmen who, theoretically, would know how to move the country forward best by leveraging private sector networks and innovation. He also set out to put minorities and women back into subordinate positions, recreating a leadership structure that was almost entirely white and male.

As Trump tried to destroy an activist government once and for all, Americans woke up to how close we have come to turning our democracy over to a small group of oligarchs.

In the past four years, the Women’s March on Washington and the MeToo Movement has enabled women to articulate their demand for equality. The travel ban, child separation policy for Latin American refugees, and Trump’s attacks on Muslims, Latin American immigrants, and Chinese immigrants, has sparked a defense of America’s history of immigration. The Black Lives Matter Movement, begun in July 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, has gained power as Black Americans have been murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers and white vigilantes, and as Black Americans have borne witness to those murders with cellphone videos.

The increasing voice of democracy clashed most dramatically with Trump’s ideology in summer 2020 when, with the support of his Attorney General William Barr, Trump used the law enforcement officers of the Executive Branch to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and in Portland, Oregon. In June, on the heels of the assault on the protesters at Lafayette Square, military officers from all branches made it clear that they would not support any effort to use them against civilians. They reiterated that they would support the Constitution. The refusal of the military to support a further extension of Trump's power was no small thing.

And now, here we are. Trump lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and by an Electoral College split of 306 to 232. Although the result was not close, Trump refuses to acknowledge the loss and is doing all he can to hamper Biden’s assumption of office. Many members of the Republican Party are joining him in his attempt to overturn the election, taking the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented. It is a profound attack on our democracy. But it will not succeed.

And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933. In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic, and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.

The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

 

December 31, 2020

As the sun sets on 2020, I want to thank you all.

It was not clear what this year would bring, and fear that we were seeing the end of American democracy was very real. Thanks to people like you, we have won a respite, at least, and now have the chance to articulate what this country can look like if we put all hands on deck.

I also thank you for your support for me, and for this project. It is no exaggeration to say we are in this together. I shape what I write according to your questions, and learn at least as much from you as you do from me. More, though, your personal support, especially in the face of the hate mail that comes over the transom, is what keeps me going.

So I thank you, all around.

I wish for you, and for us all, a better 2021.

                            

                                                             

                   


Sharing Christmas during the Pandemic

It's possible to 'share' things these days... just not kisses and hugs!
What a bummer that could be were we not crones and so highly evolved!

As keeper of the blog, I sent an email out Saturday morning:

Good Morning!  I hope you had a great Christmas. I certainly did! 8-9 hours with Jessica!! Wahoo!
We rocked out with Rummicube, had a good meal, and talked too long to watch "Soul" as we first planned.
I'm going to miss our conversations tremendously. We're really good at the Deep Dive.
And we were aware, without being maudlin, that she will be gone in 4 days. I think it enriched the experience rather than damping it.

So, what was your Favorite Part of your Christmas Day?   Santa slippers, perhaps? LOL!
I have not hidden your names on this email in hopes that you will 'reply to all' and add just a little extra "Community" feel to this weird holiday.
I love and miss each of you. ❤️
 
Kate
What follows are the responses as they came in:

So great to hear, Kate,about your full and loving day with Jessica. Give her our love as she leaves for a new chapter. We had a wonderful day with our new “household “ with Kathryn and Marcia, who have generously taken us in as we live next door in our 5th wheel.
We had FT calls with family, played Joker, ate great food (thanks to Marcia and Mel), sang and watched football.
I am so grateful for all the goodness in my life even in this difficult year. We miss you all. May you have a safe and improving 2021. ❤️  

Kate H.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nice healing from y’all. We had a quiet day. Long walk with Daisy, nice meal and a little football. 
Today is looking a lot like yesterday. Well, I did drive to Zocca’s for lattes. Delicious. And on that drive I watched the wild horses stroll across Mechem. What a gift. 
Hugs to all,

Angela

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello friends,
Kim, Verna and I had a quiet day. Verna is my aunt who has multiple health issues and has been living with us since early March. Other than the challenges of dealing with someone with dementia, it was a good day. We exchanged gifts with my kids and grandkids via Zoom and had a yummy meals of homemade tamales.

Much love to all. May 2021 bring access to COVID vaccine so we can get her once again!
Love, Nona

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    

Hi all,

The best part of hearing from everyone is that everyone seems to be healthy. That is a blessing in itself. Our day was very quiet,a little sad, but worked very hard at working past that. Fixed Carol a vodka martini and she was in bed before 10 pm. Hahaha...She cooked a down to earth camping recipe that was delicious. Watched football and hit the sack early.. so good to hear that everyone had a wonderful day.
We hope 2021 holds many positives, most of all seeing everyone again.
Love to you all,

Mary and Carol

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

so happy to be hearing of everyone's enjoyment in their day, even amidst some challenges....
my day was indeed a blessing also, filled with love and fun and laughter that i will surely miss ❤️
big hugs to all....🤗 
Jessica
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you Kate and everyone for sharing. So beautiful to hear that you all found joy and laughter through this bizarre holiday season.  I have had my grand boys for a week and that is a blessing in itself. Much and good food has been shared, great conversation with my oldest, he is now 17, love to watch the change as they mature. 
Jessica, much joy and happiness in your new adventure on this journey 🙏   
Blessings to you all.  May you be safe, happy and well in the New Year. 

Angie
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We found that it doesn't take much to entertain us! We received toilet lights from our friend and neighbor, Kim. The toilet light, for those who may not know, fits on the toilet and lights up in the middle of the night when you go to the bathroom. It even changes colors! So this was one of our favorite gifts. And another favorite was from Peggy. She had a jigsaw puzzle made from a picture she had taken of Frida. When we get it finished, I'll take a picture and email it to the group. Love and miss all of you and am looking forward to the day we all get to get together in person.
Love,

Susan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Hi guys, I also had an extremely exciting holiday.....NOT!. I zoomed with my kids in LA , San Francisco, and DC Christmas day then went to Carrizozo to a yummy prime rib dinner at my friend Bonnie and her husband's. Spent the night so I could drink to my hearts content! With my usual lightweight limit of 1 cocktail, 1 glass of Cab, and 2 itty bitty glasses of limonchello! my favorite gift, The promised land by B Obama. No complaints, my life is good. Miss you all and can't wait for 2021.

Irma
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good morning, all;
 
So nice to hear from all of you this week.  I feel like I’ve been in a tunnel the last few weeks.  I have pre-registered for the Covid vax, because I’m ready to see all your faces sooner, rather than later.
 
Christmas was quiet here.  Mike’s mom passed away Wednesday afternoon and we’ve got his dad with us, who is understandably a bit of a mess.  We know she suffers no more, but that seldom eases a loved one’s suffering.  
 
I’ve had the opportunity to do quite a bit of cooking this week, given the circumstances, and I almost always love being in the kitchen, and don’t often get to, so there’s that.
 
Looking forward to a new beginning after this week and, hopefully, some time off during our coldest month of February, to go be somewhere warm...or, at least different.
 
Love you all gobs.  I still offer La Junta Guest Ranch for a socially distanced gathering if/when you all have grown weary of a lack of human connection.
 
Hug and smooch to you all.  Happy...HAPPIER New Year!
 
Sheri

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I forgot to report the joy and wonder of watching elk stroll by here frequently, wild horses come to the fence and we toss carrots, and M and K saw a mountain lion go by couple weeks ago. Natures gifts! 
I’m reading A Promise Land too. Good to hear u Irma.

Kate H.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
 
 
 

"Every Minute Someone Leaves.."

A poem for dying by Courtney A. Walsh.

Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
Age has nothing to do with it.
We are all in this line without realizing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line -
Make moments count.
Make a difference.
Make the call.
Make priorities.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make yourself a priority.
Make love.
Make up.
Make peace.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make waves.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.

Itsa Village Housekeeping update 10-5-20

There are many posts here, now, and many more links to other articles and information.
Lately, I've relied heavily on Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By, largely because she is living and sharing her dying.
Don't see how we can get more pertinent to our purpose than that.

I will keep posting here, because it's one of the things I do.

But I have become aware that this blog and, indeed, our Salon have fallen prey to the distractions of the pandemic, internet insecurity, politics, and a general lack of interest.  I haven't sent emails about new postings lately because they produce no evidence that any of you are engaged here any longer.  That's fine with me, sort of.
There are certainly many more important things on our individual & collective minds these days.

I miss you.   ...without intense longing for you. I'm conscious of pulling in.. not sure it is in any good way.

These days - these covid days - I am intensely aware of loneliness as something separate from solitude.
I've always known it, maybe, but I have a new respect for the difference, now.

The biggest critter in that wilderness of Alone that is not solitude, is fear. Fear that the Alone will continue forever.
That I will end up as Ronni is, without someone by the bed when I die. I will have hospice, if that is available then.
And, really, I sell my friends short when I think or assume that they don't care. I know that.
That, and other aspects relating to mental health are why I still talk to a therapist every month.


 

 

 


Sage's Play: Old at Heart

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old at Heart: Reframing How We Talk about Aging and Being Old   by Gaea Yudron, a writer/artist + much more, and a FB friend.
                             You can find her thru the link to the article, or on FB.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AhF2XUn9NqE/VYGZqp0DUgI/AAAAAAAABwg/y7eEsaw-8h8/s1600/11412110_10152979041348581_8675086500946453573_n.jpg

I am a fan of Tao Porchon-Lynch, the nonagenarian yogini and ballroom dancer, whom I have written about before in this blog. She is a wonderful example of vitality and joy in old age.

But what is wrong with this picture, or rather the quote that is included with it? Like Tao, I believe in energy, certainly. Energy. Vitality. Being uplifted. All that.

But I believe in age, too. And isn't Tao's comment a bit off key? To me it is. Perhaps it just needs a few more words. I think it would read better this way.

"I don't believe in stereotypes about age. I believe in tapping into cosmic energy."

I think that is what Tao is wanting to say here. I am sensitive to how words are used about aging. I don't really warm up to being addressed as 74-years young. I will not be happy to be called young at heart. I have live! live! lived! as Auntie Mame exhorted a repressed character to do in the wonderful old flick of that name.

I have 74 years' of life experience. I am old at heart. I don't want somebody who believes that youth is the main stage of life to be telling me I am young at heart. No thanks. Youth is not the pinnacle of life experience necessarily. Perhaps for some it is the peak and everything afterwards is downhill. But for many of us, life after youth contains a great deal of uplift, ecstasy and richness.  I am happy to be old at heart, with everything I know at this age. Which is certainly a great deal more than I knew when I was in my twenties, thirties or forties or even fifties. Just writing that line and taking a brief retrospective reminds me of how I have changed and matured. I am not perfected, but I have certainly changed and matured.

 
 

The experience of maturing, the depth a person can come to in maturity is something worth recognizing, not one to deny or ignore. I aspire to more maturity, to being even older at heart. To becoming more altruistic, kind, to having a more integrated, panoramic awareness, to being more loving.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know I am on a campaign to reclaim the word OLD from the trashpile of corrupted words. Old has a lot of power, a lot of rich qualities. Be happy to be old at heart, my friend. Young at heart has delightful qualities. Old at heart is another territory, one whose qualities are deep and worthwhile--let's honor it!

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There was more to this blog post, but it is out of date & the links don't work; it's available thru the link.

I love that she is also interested in words, and in reclaiming the good ones.
Gaea would fit well in our group, I believe... if we still had one. ...


Are We a Tribe?

Why Women need a Tribe                  

Tanja Taljaard and Azriel Re'Shel, writing in 2016, think so.  So do I.
In truth, I think we are one...with some familial tension among us on most days...

I've posted this link, with only a quick scan, to save it for us, and to follow some interesting links...
My tribe, however, does not require chanting, incense, beads, shawls, or paint. 
Though it is quite possible that any or all of these things might come in handy at one point or another.


What's it like to have the M.A.I.D. drugs sitting on your kitchen counter?

Ronni Bennett knows now. Read her impressions and thoughts here.

As is usual with her, she writes with humor and honesty in this quote:
"But I suspect that more often now I will take up the questions that have both buoyed and bedeviled me from time to time
and even, in a couple of cases, made me laugh:
Will I have breakfast on the last morning? If so, how will I choose? Cheerios? Scrambled eggs? Maybe just a muffin with jam?
Should I wash the dishes or leave them for someone else?
And what does one wear to one's own death, especially when you know you are dressing for the final time?
To whom should I look for inspiration? Anne Boleyn? Marie Antoinette? Lady Jane Grey?"

Her post is well worth the read, IMO.


"Old age should burn and rave..." or maybe not...

Riffin' on Ronni Bennett again.  She is now under hospice care at home.

She says no.
"Going gentle into my personal good night is one reason I have embraced medical aid in dying.
Those drugs will send me on my way quietly without a prolonged period of decline or pain."

I confess that I tend to lean into the idea (of suicide), if not the reality.

But/and I know that a bit of depression is so common now that it is effecting almost everyone.  (and I have my therapist on Speed Dial!)
I've wondered about suicide rates in these months. There has been a lot written about the subject, mostly from a therapeutic POV.
You'll find no end of articles on Google if you're so inclined.

I'm completely with Ronni regarding attitude, though. I want to go gently. I believe it's a 'good night'.
The hard part now, when I contemplate my death, is the solitude the pandemic has/is enforcing.
I really don't want to die now...
...when it might be days before anyone knows it.
...or when someone might stop by and find Mango picking katecrone out of his teeth.    That's funny, you know.

And I kind of hope someone will be standing by, even though I know I'll make that trip alone.

 

 


"What it's like to be dying"

I'm not going to comment on this post today. Just want to post it here.  (How I long for our group meetings...)

This is from Ronni Bennett, one of the Internet's recognized experts on aging, who has been told now, that she qualifies for Hospice
...meaning her doctor expects her to have less than 6 months to live. 

Her words in this post from June 15th, are worthy of our time, and may even inform some of our own choices in our futures.

I've found that Ronni has quite a presence on the wider web, as well.    
If you're curious, an online search will turn up several interviews and a Wikipedia entry.           

 

  


"Question to self: When is it too late to change one’s default state?"

The title of this post comes from an essay I'm eager to share with you. Click here to read the full article.
It was written by Charlotte Wood, originally for The Griffith Review, a literary magazine from Australia; and now published by The Guardian. 

This essay's title is "What Are We Really Afraid of When We Think of Old Age? Ms. Wood writes from the POV of a woman in her mid 50's, and begins her essay with this question:

"In a black-and-white thinking culture, how should we consider the richness of who we are in old age?"

I really like thinking about "the richness" of old age. Mine is proving to be so.
Not far into the article, she mentions an elderly gerontologist she met at a dinner. He recounted tales of some of his patients and at one point..   I quote her here:

"Later, he asked me: “How many years of your life would you trade for a Booker Prize?”

“What?!  None!” I replied. I was surprised at the vehemence and speed of my answer, and that I knew it to be absolutely true.

Then he asked, “What if they were the years between 85 and 95?”

Hmmm."


Would you trade some of your years for anything?  Would you if you could pick the years?

She writes:
"
Our predictions for old age foresee an epoch of physical incapacity and psychic misery, in contrast with our vital, flourishing youth. But last night on my couch I spent five minutes scribbling down a list of the troubles that plagued me and those in my social circle – middle class, well educated, well resourced – before we turned 50."

She follows this with a list of illnesses, conditions, and other frailties that she knows of among her younger friends. The list she came up with is about 3-4 times as long as the quoted paragraph above. 

Attitudes about aging vary widely. This is clear in her article. What is also clear is that most of the harsher attitudes come from the Youngers among us. We old folks tend to take it much better, "finding greater contentment, more peace, more comfort with ambiguity, deeper gratitude, and a focus on more meaningful engagement in the present."

I'm tempted to quote more, but then you'd have nothing to read! 


May 22, 2020 no meeting; no minutes; plenty of Missing.

I last posted minutes on March 13, 2020, after our last IRL (in real life) meeting. We were already talking about Covid-19.

You'll no doubt remember our two Skype meeting. We were never successful at getting everyone on the calls.
We gave up after those calls on March 27th and April 10th. Zoom seemed too risky, so we agreed not to meet in person for the time being.
Who the Hell knew it would be so long, and still...there is no real end in sight?

I'm likely to wander around and find a safe way for us to try again.  I miss you like crazy. 

Here is a very cool song by an artist I was recently introduced to: Carrie Newcomer.


A Woman Living Alone

Subtitled "Seven Stories of Solitude During the Coronavirus, from ages 24 to 86",  this story comes from the Washington Post
and is written by Caroline Kitchener.       

I'm not going to reprint it here, though I recommend it to you as an interesting read.
Our group includes four women who live alone:  Jessica, Angie, Irma, and me. 
Irma is without pets, too; Angie, do you have animals?

I'm not sure if or how that might make our experience during this social isolation different from
the experience the rest of you are having. But I think it might be interesting to explore.
(and sometimes I'm just fishing for stuff to do...)
  


 

 

 


MAID: Medical Aid in Dying and/or Death w/Dignity (and a mention of Death Doulas)

Ronni's blog post today... titled as above without the parenthetical phrase.

I'm not going to reprint it here; it's an easy jump to her page. As you may remember, she has pancreatic cancer and COPD. She is THREE years past the cancer diagnosis and surprised to be here still. She expected death much sooner.

She has had the 1st conversation with her doctor about the options and requirements of using that law, and discusses that conversation openly, clearly and, in her style, without emotion. She has broken much ground in sharing information about aging and now about dying. I hope you'll choose to read this and other posts from her.

I want to comment on the terms being used by the lawmakers. I'm with Ronni on this point: 
With the possible exception of sudden violent trauma (accidents, wars, etc.), ALL deaths are accomplished with dignity.
To name such a compassionate law Death with Dignity implies that other deaths are somehow less dignified, less noble, less than. 
That irritates some bone in the back of my brain!!
Might just be me and semantics, again, but I believe the words we choose carry a certain energy.

Some states use the other phrase: Medical Aid in Dying - MAID. The acronym is not thrilling to me, but the whole phrase seems more appropriate. That is also the terminology used in Canada, though one comment on the blog post did say that finding doctors willing to follow the law upon request is difficult, because many Canadian docs refuse to prescribe the legal drugs citing religious conflict.
It's heartless and ridiculous that we in the US treat our pets better than our families. 
(I make an intentional distinction between pets and livestock.)

She also mentions Death Doulas for the first time... or perhaps that was a commenter. I'm curious about your knowledge of that field. Have you heard of Death Doulas? I'll include a link or two I've been following recently if you're interested in learning a little about it. Do you think that a doula would be a welcome part of your dying process?
Going With Grace   a website by Alua Arthur   Read about her on the 'About' page at the link. 
YouTube home of Going with Grace. She has many 1 minute videos you might enjoy.

A Minute on the Life Lottery  a video by Alua Arthur. This is literally 58 seconds long. and joyous! and a wonderful POV on life.
Watch it now:


Deathbed Planning is a 9.33 minute video done by Mortician, Caitlin Doughty of YouTube's Ask a Mortician. She's spotlighting Alua Arthur's work showing what Caitlin's deathbed might look like and what might be done. Caitlin's website.  

NONE of these links or videos are remotely depressing. Caitlin is a practicing mortician and is on the front lines of what is known as the Death Positive Movement.
I'm definitely interested in the possibility of a doula for my own death.

I hope you'll read and comment on the post.  (I might have a tiny crush on this woman!)
Thanks. 
  

 

 


Distance and Solidarity a poem by Chase Beach

Kate H. shared this poem with us by email today. It seems like a good fit here. 

 


Distance and Solidarity

This puzzling reality we are all facing, 
that in order to stay safe 
we must stay away. 

We stay away 
in order to remain, in a way, together.
 
If we are afraid enough
of one another, 
or FOR one another, 
we may be able 
to save each other. 
 
Love and fear, 
distance and solidarity 
have never been 
so obviously conjoined. 
 
Thanks, Kate.

Our Random Thoughts about and/or during the Covid-19 Pandemic

This post will contain the random comments we send to each other thru the Salon email group.
We might want to look back one day...

3/30/20 from Kate: (copied from elsewhere on this site)
"Kate shared this by email the other day and gave me permission to post it here with her comment.  

To Live 

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and style rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich;
To apply talent, think quietly, talk kindly, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages with open heart;
To bear all patiently, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never;
In short, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
This is my symphony.
    -
H. Channing 

"Thank you all for being women who spur me to all these aspirations, and accept me when I miss them by a mile."   - Kate H.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4-15-20 from Kate H.
"You’ve probably all thought of this but I will voice it for us all.  This all makes more [me] grateful for every breath I take
while so many struggle; makes me face again the fragility of my life, the wonder of the body’s delicate balance and the beautiful horror of how a viral molecule can send the world to its knees. Carpe down" (I'm guessing that auto-correct ate the word Diem)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4/15/20 from Jess:
"I love you all! 

I love that we can embrace and share, even from a distance (for now).
Thank you, Nona, for the gift of the poem.
Thank you, Kate for your words of wisdom on gratitude.
And for all the ways you ALL inspire simply by your presence and through your comments in this thread.
Happiness, hugs, & blessings to you all as we continue to navigate our new world...
All my love~"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One Hundred Thousand

 

100,000 now, but I am unable to see or hear or feel

what it means, really means —-
to the bride whose dad won’t walk her down the aisle,
to the mom who dreamed her graduate”s dreams,
or the man who lost the one, gone at 45, who showed him how to be a man. 

 

I can’t see the tears

or hear the weeping

or feel the depth of anguish

at not being there

to hold their hand

look in those eyes

or say I’ll miss you so much. 

I can’t imagine. 

 

100,000 

times 

20 hearts full of memories

times 

scores of nights filled with tears

times 

a myriad long days with no voice in the house

no calls from him

no stories to hear or tell. 

 

But I can look at those 1,000 names on a New York Times front page and try to imagine the
99 pages more it would take to know all your names. 

 

It’s not fair 

you got the short straw,

not fair the one who wore no mask that day,

not fair that the share of love you earned 

is costing your loved ones an equal share of pain. 

 

100,000 now. 

 

-Kate H.  May 27, 2020


Covid & Climate & Summer...

Climate Change Won't Stop for the Corona Pandemic.

it's a long read and not fun.

 
I do know that most, if not all, of my friends are smart and savvy on many levels.
I share this from an excess of caution and love, and because we all know people who are not smart.

So while you're keeping yourself safe from the virus, remember to prepare early for possible other SH*t that may go on later.
Love you. Miss you.




Kate


To Live...

Kate shared this by email the other day and gave me permission to post it here with her comment.  

To Live 

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and style rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich;
To apply talent, think quietly, talk kindly, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages with open heart;
To bear all patiently, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never;
In short, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
This is my symphony.
    -
H. Channing 

 

"Thank you all for being women who spur me to all these aspirations, and accept me when I miss them by a mile."   - Kate H.