It’s only temporary….

March 2, 2023

So I’ve been busy since the start of the year getting ready for my social work license renewal.

I haven’t been practicing in the field for a few years, so there’s lots of catch up to do. I don’t mind the continuing education, as far as it goes, but it is keeping me from my writing and keeping me inside quite a bit.

Fortunately, it’s been a terrible year for outdoor activities, swinging from bitter cold to rain and back again for many weeks. This is the kind of weather I grew up with in Ohio, and it makes even an outdoor winter person want to stay indoors. So I’m not missing too much. If you HAVE to do 101 continuing education hours in five months, on top of your job, this is the time to do it.

The job is very part time, so I’m not working and studying all the time. But there’s only so much time I can spend in front of the computer, with my pain issues, so the writing is taking a back seat. Temporarily.

The Train

February 17, 2023

I feel like I should say something about the toxic chemical spill from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, but I don’t know what to say. Is it bad or is it really bad or is it really really bad? The reports of people in the area continue to be at variance to what public officials are saying.

On February 3rd, during the night, a train carrying vinyl chloride and other chemicals derailed, causing a toxic spill in a rural area of northeastern Ohio. People within a mile of the derailment were evacuated immediately. Then a few days later, the evacuation area was three miles.

Toxic gases were intentionally released into the air soon after the spill, and a few days later a “controlled burn” of the chemicals was executed. This released a mushroom cloud of toxins. The purported justification of the burn was to avoid an explosion. Now some have suggested that it was done to open the railroad as soon as possible.

Two days after the burn, residents were told they could return home, with local officials warning them not to drink the water for a day. They returned to an apocalyptic landscape, with thousands of dead fish in the water. The fumes burned their throats and their stock animals were sick or dying or dead. Wildlife also died, and the birds left. Residents were told a few days later that the water was safe to drink and no chemicals were detected in the air. But the smell, the dead animals, and the nausea they experienced have made the public mistrusting of officials.

While sympathies go out to the communities near East Palestine, the proximity of the spill to the Ohio River is the bigger concern. Vinyl Chloride is a chemical that takes a very very very long time to degrade. Like, not in your or my lifetime. How this will affect the health and ecology of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana is unknown. The biggest unknown is what chemicals exactly were released during the burn.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Biden administration, the EPA, and the corporate media offer reassurances that the area of the spill is safe and so is the Ohio River watershed. The reports of people on the ground, including journalists who have traveled to the area, differ.

Here is Erin Brockovich talking about the spill. Listen to the first seven minutes or so at least.

Not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne (but I’m going to try)

February 11, 2023

I’m not entirely ready to forgive Roseanne. I think she’s rewriting history a bit. I don’t believe that she didn’t know that the target of her Twitter “joke” was Black. Her apology doesn’t sound sincere, after seeing the clip of her show. She def had Clinton derangement syndrome and had been mean and nasty for a long time toward anyone who supported the Clintons. It was only a matter of time before she crossed the line into something completely unacceptable, like a racist tweet.

Photo: Jonathan Mauer

On the other hand, canceling her show was a bit over the top, and an overly harsh sentence can obliterate feelings of contrition. Her comment could have sparked the “national conversation about race” that Obama said we needed to have. We’re not having the conversation. People of all races are mostly too afraid to question or to discuss racism freely, while the most psychopathic among us indulge in unproductive character assassination to play for the crowd.

I don’t know Roseanne and haven’t followed her closely enough to know if she’s a racist. (I read her autobiography, which was interesting.) I certainly can’t defend what she tweeted, though I’m not onboard with the “woke” definition of racist, which seems to be any person who makes any comment which betrays ignorance of any piece of Black history or culture or sociological statistical studies. I have run across too many people who really do believe in the superiority of the “white race” to countenance the word being irresponsibly disseminated (and potentially watered down) as fodder for Robin D’Angelo’s corporate-sponsored moral industry.

And I am very upset about problems in the US being racialized in order to be non-addressed. Poverty and income-inequality (related, but not exactly the same) contribute in a big way to problems facing the majority of African-Americans, as they do most Americans, and the US really really doesn’t want address poverty. The wealthy and well-connected want to racialize it – to police language and educate individuals with no clout in the system about systemic racism. I can understand why orgs devoted to addressing political issues of African Americans would be specifically interested in Black poverty and Black victims of police brutality and Black preventable health problems. But I see what universities, corporate media, and the men who control this country’s wealth are doing here, and I call foul. They don’t really want to address poverty or incarceration or violence or infant mortality. They want to Christian it a Black issue and prescribe another anti-racism seminar for the cogs and proto-cogs in the corporate machine. They want to crow with the Twitter mob and pat themselves on the back for being “progressive.”

I guess I do want to forgive Roseanne, because I want to move on. I hope she doesn’t make any more thoughtless racist remarks, though I’m not hopeful. She doesn’t strike me as a person who lives a self-examined life, and yet she lives under a public microscope more than most celebrities. She’s old and fat and loud and disagreeable and men of all classes – but especially rich white men – don’t like her.

Which is why she’s such a conundrum when she’s also wrong.

It’s all about the sun

January 31, 2023
Lake Eaton in late January

Even in the snow on a cold cold day, there’s exhilaration and anticipation in the returning light. If projects are not ready for implementation, they can at least be imagined, and possibilities begin to supplant the pessimism and doubts.

All the planets of the zodiac are moving direct now, and Mercury has left its shadow zone. The waxing moon makes today through Saturday an excellent time for a ritual to the sun goddess Brigid.

A Break in the Weather

January 20, 2023

It’s been snow alternating with freezing rain and rain where I live, definitely indoors weather.

But the stars are looking positive for some magic. Mercury and Mars have both gone direct. The New Moon on the 21st looks like a good time to initiate projects. I went ahead this week and sent another query for one of my novels. Fingers crossed.

Mars. Composite image. NASA.

With Good Intentions….

January 6, 2023

Well, I started to write a longish blogpost for today, tentatively titled “A Brief History of Magic,” but I got some bad news and couldn’t finish writing it. Nothing that, probably, won’t be fixed, but of the bureaucratic nightmare variety. Today I have a flat tire and I’m waiting (and waiting and waiting) for roadside service to call back.

What is going on in my stars? I don’t know for sure, but something. It’s difficult to read your own chart sometimes. I’ve been getting mired in one agency flub-up after another, all threatening my livelihood and none from mistakes on my part (which is the good news–bureaucracies are not very forgiving). Mercury is retrograde, but there’s probably more going on, since this has been a theme for a year now.

About this time last year, I got thrust into the exorbitant housing market as my landlord (a church that prides itself on liberal politics) decided to cash in on a housing shortage caused by AirBnB and COVID. Also de facto lost my job at the same time. Had to come up with another job and another deposit and $800+ in moving fees plus other nickel-and-dime expenses associated with a move. Then I had to hire a lawyer to get my deposit back from the church. (Keene Valley Congregational. Terrible people. The whole village has become filled with rich woke mean assholes. The kind of people who put signs in their yard declaring how progressive they are, while not returning your rent deposit.)

I don’t know how I survived, in retrospect. I suppose I’ll get through this bump too, but I’m getting tired of these punches to the gut. I do have a better job now. I also have a place to live, one that’s far far away from the job, and too small, and too expensive, but I know I was damn lucky to find any place that would let me keep the cat.

I have an optimistic Aries nature, but I’m not a happy camper right now. In a week or two I’ll either get back to magical history or share what went haywire with my stars.

My Movie List for Yule

December 16, 2022

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away

This song, from Meet Me in St. Louis, is for people who struggle through the season. Every time Judy sings about our troubles being out of sight (next year), I hope that’s true – although the joyous Christmas deferred seems more unlikely with each passing year. But it occurred to me today that it’s always been true. My troubles of last Solstice are a vague memory, and I have a whole new set of problems. The challenges of last year have been met, or else they seem less daunting.

Along the lines of struggling Christmas is my favorite lesbian movie, Carol. The movie captures the desperation of the era. People have suffered through the Depression and WWII and there’s a compulsion to express joy. We’re together again, the material deprivations are in the past, we must be happy. No one wants to admit that there are deeper issues that need to be addressed. A satisfying movie, despite the somber themes.

I would say nobody could match Cate Blanchett for a sexy Yuletide performance, except there’s the sultry Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle. Jimmy Stewart atones here for the sappy It’s a Wonderful Life. Also starring Jack Lemmon.

Speaking of Jack Lemmon, here’s another favorite with a Christmas theme, one which also dwells on the vapidity of the season. The Apartment, has Shirley MacLaine as Lemmon’s pert love interest and Fred McMurray playing a real skunk.

It’s actually a television episode, not a movie, but Christmas dinner with the Fishers in Six Feet Under deserves an honorable mention. The first episode of the series, where the patriarch dies, also takes place on Christmas.

Best wishes of the season. Holly Jolly and all that. That’s it for now from your queen of dysfunctional Christmas. If I have time this year, I’ll make a video collage of tacky outdoor holiday decorations. But no promises. If I don’t get to it, I know you’ll muddle through somehow.