Election Day of the Dead

Rich and I worked Election Day at the Bath House Cultural Center. We got up at 4:45 AM and did not get home till 10 PM. We had only 76 voters because it was a constitutional amendment election and no candidates were running. We were told to expect maybe 20 voters so I feel like we over-achieved. The day itself was enjoyable and fairly easy; the set up and take down were very hard, stressful, confusing and intimidating. I think we did okay but I was worried about making a mistake! But I am glad we did it and we all said we had the best location in Dallas County. Check out the fabulous art exhibit we got to take in!

A Full Friday

Rich got up early to get donuts, then everyone was off to school. Please note the steep hill I have to climb on the way home from walking Jack to and from his school every day. Perhaps it is counteracting the donuts a tiny bit.

Next we did some chores and then went back downtown to have lunch at Don Juan’s on the square. It was quite colorful and the fajitas were great! As we were walking back to the car, I saw three guys holding signs across the street. Realizing they were signs for peace, I told Rich “Oh my gosh, I have found my people in Tyler! I have to go talk to them!” Rich is more reticent than I am about speaking with strangers so he said he’d wait for me. LOL I ran across the street and I am sure they were wondering if I was friend or foe before I started gushing, “I’m so glad to see you here–I told my husband you are my people and I had to come talk with you!” They all smiled and one guy asked me if I lived in Tyler; I said no, we are here babysitting grandkids and live in Dallas. We all introduced ourselves and I asked if they were part of an organization locally–they said no, just something they do on their own. None of them were former military although one guy said his dad was in the Army and told him right away that Vietnam was a mistake going in. They have stood on this corner every Friday at noon since 2007! They said they don’t really get any hassles in Tyler and a cop drove by as we were chatting so I asked what about the police. They said no, they have always been supportive and helpful. Nice to hear! So, meet Dan, Paul and Rick–warriors for peace in conservative East Texas!

Near where we’d parked, we saw the Tyler Art Alley so we had to walk through and take pix. I loved all of the murals. Which are your favorites?

Jack had been working hard on his spelling words all week so I was anxious to see how he did on his test. When I picked him up, he said he was “pretty sure” he got 100. LOL Unfortunately he didn’t get the test back yet so we are still in suspense. He told me he’d call me Monday and let me know. 🙂 After school Elle went home with a friend to spend the night and Beck’s friend E came back again to spend the night with us. After dinner we went to Andy’s downtown to have some ice cream, then everyone stayed up way too late. Let the weekend begin!

Snow Day

I interrupt the blog catch-up to report that Texas is having quite a winter snowpocalypse. Apparently our state is not on the national electricity grid, having chosen to “go it alone” as we are wont to do. Unfortunately, we have also failed to take precautions for major events like the current very low temps and out of character weather. I read that, in its wisdom, the state government opted out of having backup plans for problems like this, thinking that a large scale outage in 2011 was a “once in 100 years” event and we wouldn’t have to worry about it again. Well, at least not the “we” who are living.

At first we were told there would be “rolling blackouts” to preserve the grid from being overloaded. It was estimated that people’s electricity would be out for 15 to 45 minutes at a time, no big deal. This was yesterday and some homes have been without electricity for over 24 hours now, some for partial days, some for sporadic periods. Others have no electricity AND no water. Somehow, we are among the fortunate who still have both. We have cranked down the thermostat to do our part in conservation and have taken the usual cold weather precautions. Thankfully we don’t have to be anywhere and can just hunker down at home. My couch and my warmest blankets and socks have been my best friends. I’ve been knitting and Rich made soup. We’re trying to keep up with family and friends in various parts of TX and beyond.

I am worried about those who have no home or whose homes are so cold they are having trouble managing. The city has opened “warming stations,” but you can only go for awhile to warm up and charge your devices, no overnight stays. The homeless shelters are full. Plus the roads are bad and we’re advised not to get out. No good choices for people who are suffering; once again all of the inequities of society are revealed.

I feel like I make everything political but to me everything does have a political element to it. Why should TX be allowed to opt out of the federal electricity grid? Weren’t our officials recently threatening (once again) to secede, but now they want emergency help from DC? Why do we not have better infrastructure and emergency preparedness locally, statewide, nationally? Why are some people always at more risk than others?

In a year full of somewhat avoidable difficulties, here’s another that could have been mitigated if we could be a bit more forward looking. Why is that always too much to ask?

January 2021

January was a crazy month. A lot of times we have the oldest grandkids here for Christmas Break and get to ring in the New Year with them. Not this year, but Ally did send me a picture of herself outside in the snow in Clyde. 🙂 We had a quiet night at home and voiced our hopes for a better year ahead, adding in our black eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day. 🙂

From there we moved on to watching excitedly as Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock were elected to the Senate in runoffs in Georgia, assuring a Democratic razor thin majority with the VP being available to break any tie votes. Although Trump kept complaining that his election was “stolen” and “rigged,” and his supporters became more and more vocal, we were just kinda holding our breath till Inauguration Day could get here. Trump continued his tirades as well as his illegal activities, trying to get states to “find” more votes in his favor, threatening more lawsuits even though 61 legal actions had already failed, and eventually telling Vice President Mike Pence (erroneously) that he could stop the certification of the Electoral College votes on January 6. Although I’ve long been a political junkie and very tuned into politics, I don’t think I could have told you before this year exactly when the Electoral College meets or when the votes are certified in the Congress. Due to the events of this year and last year, I certainly know now.

We watched in horror, along with any other thinking or caring person, when Trump riled up his supporters in a rally and sent them off to breach the Capitol on Jan 6. Who would have EVER imagined a violent insurrection would take place in this country, with people killed, maimed, threatened, terrified? I am still shocked. Honestly, I thought there was a risk of violence that day. But in my head, the violence would involve fights between various groups or maybe between protesters and police (though I figured the police would take it easy on whitey). I was worried about someone having a weapon. It did not cross my mind that these rioters could take over the Capitol. Not only take it over, but desecrate it, kill a police officer and hurt many others. (Side note: this is the “BLUE LIVES MATTER” crowd?) Beating officers with flagpoles flying the American flag? I thought these were the “patriots” who held the flag in such high esteem? And then, eventually, most of them just walked away, some of them with help getting down the stairs. What the hell. You know if this had been a Black Lives Matter rally, anyone who’d attempted to enter the building would have been beaten up, arrested, and/or killed. I have so many questions.

We still managed to get to Inauguration Day, extremely changed with limited attendance due to Covid and more security than ever before. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were finally sworn in. Now we have SO MUCH work to do but at least the horrible Trump Administration is gone.

Happy 2021–A Little (or a Lot) Late

I can’t decide if I have just been busy, or preoccupied, or under a blanket of general malaise since the holidays. Once I get behind on blogging, it takes some effort on my part to get back into it. Now I feel like I have too much to catch up on, and I could gladly skip some of it but my main purpose for this blog is to document life for future reference. 🙂 SO I am going to backtrack into December and try to get current.

Today the US Senate voted “not guilty” at Trump’s impeachment trial. Although it was not unexpected, and although 7 Republicans voted “guilty,” I am still disgusted and frustrated and angry that this is what we have come to. But let’s go back to happier days in December first.

Rich and I have been working on our health since the pandemic started. I have been trying to walk most days and he comes along at least part of the time. We have also been fasting every 2-3 days for almost a year now! Both of us have lost weight and feel healthier so we will continue, even though we are getting a bit tired of it! Anyhoooo, here are a few pix of some of our neighborhood walks before Christmas.

November

I have certainly fallen off my posting since the election. I think I was just exhausted physically and emotionally from all of the months of working so hard on encouraging voters to get out and make their voices heard. I continued to greet at the polls on Election Day and the mood was upbeat. Although I expected Biden to win, or at least held out high hopes that he would, I was still nervous going into the evening when the votes started coming in. We did have tacos and flan, so that made me feel somewhat better. 🙂

Of course now we know what a baby Trump is and that he can’t find it within himself to concede even though it is obvious that he will be leaving on Jan. 20. The elation I felt on Election Day has given way to more exhaustion and frustration with the way it has all played out, the people who encourage Trump in his worst instincts, those who value power and influence over what’s true and real, the direction of the country in general…it’s all so unending. Here in Texas, we were disappointed that we didn’t gain more seats in the state and national legislatures and I was shocked that so many people actually voted for Trump again. I don’t get it. We have a lot more work to do, obviously and unfortunately. But on the happy side, we have a female VP, a female of color, and it looks like Biden is making some diverse picks in his Cabinet, even if he still hasn’t been offered the courtesies usually given to an incoming President. Okay, enough on the election. Let’s move on!

Grandkids and cousins Emery and Beck celebrated a shared birthday; she turned 11 and he turned 10. She is super creative, loves to read and write and draw, and is currently the “creative writing” and “jokes and riddles” contributor to the 5th grade newsletter at school. 🙂 She played volleyball this year, loves her family, friends and animals, and knows all the lyrics to the songs from “Hamilton.” I asked her mom “even the curse words?” and she said Emery just pauses on those. 🙂 Beck is likewise very creative, can put together any Legos project in record time, enjoys reading, videogames, and hanging out with his family, has joined an acting program in Tyler and is rehearsing for a show to be held in January. They are both very inquisitive and ask lots of interesting questions, as well as being silly and funny and full of life. We love these two so much!

I got to see Angela Davis speak in a virtual event put on by the SMU Human Rights Council. She was so interesting and all of the students asked great questions. Davis said something to the effect that “the arena of struggle is where you find yourself,” and it seems very fitting.

This is What Democracy Looks Like

I am consumed by the election and have been working nonstop poll greeting, block walking, highlighting flyers and distributing flyers, and I cannot think about much else till tomorrow is done. Poll greeting has been lots of fun and super inspiring. I’ve met first time voters who just became old enough and first time voters who are new citizens, a woman in labor on her way to the hospital, a woman on an oxygen tank in a taxi, people on walkers and in wheelchairs, people of all ages and ethnicities, people who rarely vote but decided this year was too important to miss, couples and families of all configurations, parents bringing children to teach them how urgent the situation has become. It gives me hope that TX has been moved to a “toss up” state rather than a definite Republican stronghold. In the end, I still feel that TX will break my heart when all the votes are cast, but no one can say I didn’t give it my all. 🙂 Even if Biden doesn’t take TX, we have a good chance to win some state and local elections and put more progressive individuals in those seats.

I keep thinking what if Trump wins again and I am furious about the Electoral College, voter suppression, voter intimidation, Republican lawsuits to keep votes from counting, the freaking Supreme Court, Republican enablers of Trump who haven’t had the ethics to stand up to him, anyone who still thinks he is a worthwhile human being or president. I don’t want to live my life in a rage but I need to get through the next few days or weeks or whatever it takes to determine the outcome. The thing is that Trump getting reelected probably won’t affect Rich and me personally all that much (other than our mental health and perhaps our Social Security??). But I can’t help but worry about all of those who will be severely affected by his administration’s policies or lack thereof, the criminality, the hate and discrimination, the loss of so much that we hold dear. Biden was not my first choice but I have been encouraged by his stance and I feel he will at least surround himself by good, smart people who believe in science and human rights and equality. Maybe it’s a pipe dream but if nothing else, he’d be better than what we have now.

Tomorrow it’s all on the line. Do your part to save democracy….please.

Here are way too many photos but I love them all. Be heartened by your fellow citizens.