A Satisfaction

I was just admiring my nails.
They’re encrusted with dirt from planting bulbs – the daffodils are done (for now).
A group of dirty nails deserves
a name. I came up with a satisfaction
of nails. Such a pleasing way to mar
one’s appearance, by digging in the land
you own and tend.

Then my mind turned unbidden to darker things.

Apt, perhaps, because the light
was leaving me as I worked. I pondered,
as I turned the bulb digger left and right,
left and right, What if I were raped?
I pull out the soil, drop in a bulb, release
the soil back.

I would use my nails as much as
I could. Rearrange the mulch with the
three pronged hand tool, add manure.
Get a big old satisfaction of DNA under
those nails. Move over just a scooch,
the grass is cold, dig in, left then right,
left than right, gather some evidence under those nails.

It’s best to grow your nails out just a little if you can. Even in your own land.

Hardware Cloth – Ouch!

Got home from moving the office and went almost straight to work in the back yard. It took quite a bit of time to cut pieces of hardware cloth (not cloth at all, it’s wire with 1/4 inch squares) to fit underneath the shed, around the piers, to keep critters out of the chicken coop. Little pieces, carefully cut with the tin snips, just so. Then bigger pieces to fit around the bottom of the hutch.

On a lark, I emptied one of the bags of leaves under the hutch.  I’m not sure if I should have done that since grass is still growing there.  It didn’t go very far, in terms of depth.  Perhaps that’s because it sat for so long it had enough time to start breaking down in the bag.  In any event, it made me think I’m going to need lots more leaves if I am going to be successful with the deep litter method.  Time to go back on the prowl in the neighborhood.  I bet this weekend has lots of folks working in their yards, gathering up leaves for me and my future chickens.

Then I fitted the remaining piece from that roll as the beginning of the bottom course of enclosure for the chicken’s run. So exciting! I bent about 12 inches of it to go out over the grass, hopefully that will deter diggers. Then I covered it with some of the clay and dirt I dug out for the footings. I got the entire east side’s first course done and the south side.

I took some of the cotton seedlings out and planted them. I put one in with the lavander bed, one in the strawberry bed, and one in the carrot and Brussels sprouts bed. We shall see how those do. It took about a minute for Derp to notice that I had done something new and dig the first one of the plants up, but I replanted it already. I checked on the broccoli that I planted earlier last week, and it is looking good. I dropped four chamomile plants into the bird feeder bed yesterday, and they look good. Derp had dug one of those up, too, but I got it replanted. I also put some of the Fordhook climbing nasturtiums near the cattle panel trellis, too, and they look just fine.

I also noticed that in addition to being covered in pollen, the fish pond could use more water. I’ll have to do that tomorrow. The solar powered fountain in there is broken and so is the fountain in the bird bath – maybe I can get replacements from Harbor Freight.

Over in the asparagus bed, there is bad news. Still no sign of the asparagus coming up, and the soil is plenty warm for them. On the upside, this was one of four raised beds whose position really gets in the way of the functionality of the backyard layout. I realized last summer, after taking a class with Brie Arthur, that it was important to make my bed’s layouts work with the tools I have access to, and that includes being able to drive a truck or a trailer back there. The four square-ish raised beds make the space between the Saint Francis bed and the flower bed very tight, so if I no longer need to worry about the asparagus coming back up there, I can just move those beds all together. Of course, I’m not done trying to grow asparagus, I just need to find a better spot.

This weekend, I have so much more I want to do. It is supposed to be a little cooler, perhaps that will help my productivity.

  • I want to plant the weigelia, the abelias, and the river birch that are sitting in the plant graveyard.  You have a plant graveyard, don’t you? A place where plants get put when you bring them home from the garden center, and sometimes where they wither away and die from neglect?  You do.  Don’t lie.
  • I want to finish putting the wine bottles in the bird feeder bed, deal with the weeds and grass in there, and add mulch to that bed.
  • The trellis at the north end of the bird feeder bed is going to get planted with morning glory, maybe I will get to that, too.
  • I’d also like to get morning glory started growing on the south side of the chicken coop, but that can’t happen until I’m done enclosing it – I don’t want to be stepping all over the seedlings.

Spring. Hope. Wheee.

Starting from seed indoors

This year I bought three big LED shop lights from CostCo and used my gifted old white plastic shelves to set up a nursery in the dining room.  I need to go back and fill in more information, but for now, here are my notes on what’s growing (and what isn’t):

  1. Rudebeckia – the ones I saved are sterile.  Bought some additional seeds (company?) that are germinating.
  2. Morning Glory – I have some seed I saved from the yard and some seed I bought.  Oddly, the seeds I saved aren’t doing well at all.  And that makes no sense because isn’t this supposed to be a weed?
  3. Nasturtium Fordhook Favorites Mix (Burpee) – a climbing variety.  Germinated at about 75%.  Transplanted three of them today, 3/24/16.
  4. Echinacea purpera – saved seed.  Zero germination.  I must have a sterile variety, bummer, but now i can just leave the seed heads out for the birds.
  5. Cumin (Livingston Seed Co.)  These have germinated well, but seem to be losing vigor.  I think they need to be outside soon.
  6. Love-Lies-Bleeding (Botanical Interests) – new plant to me, but the tassles are cool looking and might be worth drying and using in arrangements.  It gets to be from 3-4 feet and has big leaves, and I think it will be a neat contrast to the hydrangeas.  We shall see.  Tiny seeds were difficult to keep from dumping into cells so today I tried to separate the six or seven plants growing in one cell into separate cells.  Fingers crossed they thrive now that they are separated.
  7. Red Foliated White Cotton (Seed Saver Exchange) not happy inside.
  8. Milkweed – horrible germination rates.  Really disappointing.
  9. Delphinium (Burpee) I’m still in love with the same cottage garden plants that won my heart in the 90s.  Not sure where I will even put these guys.  Slow to germinate, slow to grow.
  10. Marigold “Queen Sophia” (Burpee) – going like gangbusters.  I think I only started four of them, I need to start 800 more.
  11. Sunflowers “Mammoth Russian” (Wyatt Quarles) – these really should have been started outside, but I wanted to try.  They have gotten leggy.  I am going to transplant them soon just because they are unhappy and see if we get lucky with the frost.
  12. Lemongrass (Livingston Seed Co.) – only got 2/8 cells to germinate.
  13. Catnip (Botanical Interests) – growing well.  Organic cat toys coming soon to a store near you!
  14. Sage – not germinating well at all.  I only have a few of these out of the 12 I’ve sown.
  15. Spanish Lavender “Purple Ribbons” (Renee’s Garden) – lavendar is supposed to be super hard to germinate but no one told these seeds.  Now I have tons of tiny lavendar plants all growing in one pot.  What to do?
  16. Basil that I saved didn’t come up. Dammit.
  17. German Chamomile (Botanical Interests) – teeny little seeds! Hard to keep from planting too many in a single cell.  Germinated very well and grew happily under the lights.  Planted three today in the birdfeeder bed.
  18. Common Oregano (Botanical INterests) – excellent germination.
  19. Tomato “Sun Gold” (Botanical Interests) – so far, so good
  20. Tomato “Cherokee Purple” – growing well.
  21. Tomato “Delicious” (American Seed Co.) – so far, so good.  Dollar Tree seeds. We will see how they taste.
  22. Tomatoes “Green Zebra, Brandywine, and Marvel Stripe” heirlooms  (Renee’s Garden) – germinating well.  Fingers crossed they fruit well.
  23. Tomato “Summer Snack” (Burpee) – random old seeds from 2011/12.
  24. Tomato “Mortgage Lifter VFN” (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) – happy to start inside, so far.
  25. Broccoli “Summer Purple” – seven/eight germinated and planted out in the St. Francis bed.
  26. Little ornamental peppers saved from the goose planter – total duds. Sterile plant. DOH!
  27. Cucumber F1 – didn’t realize it but I planted these seeds from 2011. One germinated.  Probably will not be worth much as a plant.
  28. Cucumber “Muncher” (Ferry-Morse) – 4/4 seeds grew!
  29. Squash – Black beauty zucchini and early prolific straightneck (Ferry-Morse) – planted just three seeds to try and have an early start against the bastard squash vine borer bugs.  They aren’t thrilled to be inside, I don’t think.  They might actually need to be potted up already, now that I think about it.  Two of the yellow squash seem to be giving up the ghost.  Maybe these are better started outdoors?
  30. Hot Pepper (Burpee) – doing OK.
  31. Yellow and Orange Tobago Peppers (Brie Arthur) – beautiful!  Peppers take a while to germinate, but once they are started, very nice.  I’m going to have tons of peppers!
  32. Sweet Pepper “Purple Beauty” – going well
  33. Heirloom Italian Sweet Peppers (Renee’s Garden) – good so far
  34. Eggplant “White Beauty” (Southern Seed Exchange) – very nice germination rate, should do well
  35. Ornamental Peppper “BLack pearl” (Brie Arthur) – low germination rate, but four are growing well
  36. Castor Beans (Wyatt-Quarles) – these are so cool looking
  37. Okra (?) – doing OK, needs to go outside or maybe to be potted up

Akiel Denkins & Eyewitnesses

I’m not here to tell you whether Raleigh P.D. Senior Officer Twiddy was justified in killing Akiel Denkins.  I’m just here to tell you that no one saw that shooting happen except Twiddy and Denkins – there are no eyewitnesses.

The background, in case you’ve been living under a rock:  On Monday, a Raleigh police officer shot and killed Akiel Denkins near Bragg and East, an intersection in the Southeast part of town.  Media coverage was instant.  A woman named Truvalia Kearney was in the street in front of PJ’s Grill & Grocery, either with AkilDenkins or near him.  Denkins saw the officer and ran from him.  The officer chased him, but fell trying to follow him when Denkinsjumped a fence. Denkinswas shot seven times in the back.  “If Akil had a gun, he didn’t pull it out.”  N&O  Numerous other witnesses were said to have seen it.  Various sources: N&ON&O 2Slate, collecting other sources

This evening, the Raleigh Police Department’s Chief released a report detailing the officer’s version of events (read it here).  In sum, it says that the officer chased Denkins as he ran west down Bragg, and then cut between two houses, heading north.  The officer slipped on some gravel, not in trying to jump a fence.  First Akil and then the officer jumped one fence, and the officer caught up with Denkins inside that fenced yard at the northeast corner of the house.  Akil was trying to jump a second fence.  They scuffled, the officer said he saw Mr. Denkins pulling a gun from his front waistband, and he fired in self-defense.  In addition, the preliminary autopsy report was released (no link yet), and yesterday, the radio traffic from the officer and the 911 call from Mr. Denkins’ mother were both released (here).

Just west of PJ's at 503 Bragg Street

Just west of PJ’s at 503 Bragg Street – this appears to be where Mr. Denkins went on foot

There are huge contradictions here.  The number of shots (7 versus 4).  We still don’t know anything about the direction of the shots (front versus back).  None of the so-called eye-witnesses said anything about Mr. Denkins and the officer making contact with each other – that’s a glaring omission. Per the officer’s report, they had rounded the northeast corner of the house when they scuffled.  Look at the maps and the images.   No one was inside the yard that we know of (see the Five Day Police Report) except for Mr. Denkins and the officer.  Could anyone have possibly seen the shooting from Bragg Street?

PJ's Grill & Groceries, 503 Bragg Street

PJ’s Grill & Groceries, 503 Bragg Street

This is the Google Street view of PJ’s Grill & Groceries, 503 Bragg Street, where Truvalia said she saw Denkins in the street.  The arrow is my artistic attempt to point out where the police report says the shooting actually happened: the northeast corner of 1117 South East Street.

Map of 1117 South East Street and 503 Bragg Street wth pathMaybe this view helps more.  The purple is my super rough guess based on the report of where the foot chase took Twiddy and Akil. North is at the top, so that makes northeast right near that little L shaped cut out of the house.  There is a lot of distance to cover there.  There are garages and outbuildings, there are trees.  But there is also the house itself.  If the officer and Denkins made it around that corner, how could anyone see them?

If you look critically at both of these narratives, some things don’t add up.  Both narratives have self-serving conclusions in them — the report has the officer fearing for his life, Akil ‘s friends say he was not armed.  But from the beginning, it was hard for me to believe that anyone actually witnessed the shooting.  After reading the report, I just don’t think it’s possible.

According to the national organization The Innocence Project,  Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.  Your eyes lie to you – just like mine do to me.  Just like, I think, Ms. Kearney’s did to her.

Garden Journal 12.27.15

“To dwell is to garden.” — Martin Heidegger

Mindful of my neglected winter garden chores, I headed out to do some tidying today. The first stop was to cut off the cover crop peas, leaving the roots to decay in peace.

Some of the peas had fallen away from their pods and germinated.  A week plus of tropical weather in December will do that, I suppose.


I had given no thought to saving seed from these peas when they were planted. I wanted to grow something, anything, they would give the weeds some competition. The added benefits of nitrogen fixing, additional organic matter to compost, and the really sweet looking blooms were all bonuses.

That blossom is too sweet, yes?  But, as I said, I gave no thought to the seeds. Shame! Saving seeds is simple, and I take great pleasure in tucking them away.  Composting them is wasteful, or at least, it feels that way.

 There is today’s seed crop.  Will they come true next year, or are they some hybrid that will produce who knows what? I don’t know. Watch this space and we can find out together.

Solidarity is complicated

And my kneejerk reaction may not always be the right move.  Probably it is rarely the right move.  Anyway, this piece made me think.  Check it Out.

As Muslim Women We Actually Ask You Not to Wear the Hijab in the Name of Interfaith Solidairity

To us, the headscarf is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and, thus, we must cover ourselves. We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up.

The new Muslim Reform Movement, a global network of leaders, advocating for human rights, peace and secular governance, supports the right of Muslim women to wear – or not wear – the headscarf.

The mandate that women cover their hair relies on misinterpretations of Koranic verses.

Well that certainly sounds familiar. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

As women who grew up in modern Muslim families with theologians, we are trying to reclaim our religion from the prongs of a strict interpretation. Like in our youth, we are witnessing attempts to make this strict ideology the one and only accepted face of Islam. We have seen what the resurgence of political Islam has done to our regions of origin and to our adoptive country.

Food for thought.


Giving Tuesday

If you know me, you know I bitch about how much money I make.  I shouldn’t; I’m in control of that, but whatever.  The point is, one thing I would do if I had more disposable income is give more to worthy causes!  Today is Giving Tuesday and it reminds me of how many wonderful places there are for my few shekels to do good work.  If I could, I would give $10,000,000 to each of these organizations:

  1. Love Wins Ministries where the opposite of homelessness is community.  Love given freely, but not in a 60s free-love fashion, to folks who happen to be living on the streets.  Located here in Raleigh, NC.
  2. Wake County Animal Services is the county agency that HAS to take in any animal that is surrendered to them or is seized by the law.  Talk about a tough place to work!  The people who work here do so much with so little, I would love to see what they would do with a lot!  This is also where my beloved Shaka was adopted from and where I have fostered several dogs.
  3. InterFaith Food Shuttle is a local group that thinks that hunger is unacceptable.  I love the work they are doing with raising up new farmers!  Other organizations doing awesome work around local accessible food are the Raleigh City Farm , and the Well Fed Community Garden, and the Community Food Lab.  I want to give $10,000,000 to them, too.
  4. Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation was founded to honor Jamie Kirk Hahn and to create an Army of Jamies – helpers who see the best and do the best to make North Carolina better for everyone who lives here.  Truly inspiring work.
  5. The Inclusive Design and Fashion Collective is just getting off the ground.  It is the brainchild of Liz Jackson, who is a whirlwind of activism around the idea of inclusive fashion. I like that her work expands our notion of who is in our community to include people with bodies that are different than mine.  You can get in early and help them file for their 501(c)(3) status and pay their lawyer and that kind of fun stuff.  Yay, lawyer employment!
  6. NC Conservation Network advocates for clean air, clean water, and clean energy in NC.  Hard to see how any of that could be bad, yeah?  they are doing yeoman’s work in the legislature.
  7. Harlem RBI is another organization that I have a personal link to, as Megan Hodges is a friend and works there.  I’ve seen what amazing work Harlem RBI does for inner city kids through my years of watching Megan’s view of the organization.  Their motto is Play. Learn. Grow.  Isn’t that what we want for all of our kids?
  8. Campaign for Southern Equality is a national organization focusing on the south, and focusing dollars and activism on asserting the full humanity of LGBTQ people in the south.  I look forward to the day when that is not so novel of an idea.
  9. Democracy NC is a fantastic, nonpartisan outfit that uses tools like research and organizing and advocacy to increase voter participation, and make government more responsive to the people.  Basically they are trying to make more democracy – hence the clever name.  Fantastic work.
  10. JC Raulston Arboretum is my home arboretum.  Do you have one where you live?  I love that I can see so much beauty and learn so much science in this one place, just minutes from my house.  Support Raulston or support your local arboretum and you will get perennial returns. 😉
  11. NC Women United is a coalition of progressive organizations and people working to “achieve the full political, social, and economic equality of all women across North Carolina.”  Amazing grassroots work done in tandem with other organizations like Carolina Abortion Fund, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, League of Women Voters, the NC Justice Center, and on and on.  Millions to one and all, please.

My list is pretty darn local, and that’s because I like SEEING what happens with these donations.  There are probably another hundred I could list that I would also like to give to, and I know there are thousands more that would do wonderful things with my dollars — and yours.

Give today, give monthly, give often!

Roy Cooper Made Me Write This Post

Lord knows I didn’t want to.  I try not to alienate people who I might have to face in a courtroom or ask for a job someday, but here we are.

Dear Roy,

I thought you were the candidate I could vote for next year to lead North Carolina.  Sure, we disagree on some things, and some are pretty important to me, but politics is the art of the possible, right?  You seem to be the de facto candidate for the Democratic Party.  We have no viable third party, and I’m not up for four more years of Pat.  I’m admittedly lukewarm about your candidacy, which is part of the reason why I only donated $10 to your campaign in October.  The other reason was I only felt like I had $10 to spare at the time.

You wrote a nice thank you note, though:


And I appreciate that.

What I don’t appreciate is the pandering to the worst bits of our human nature: the fear of the other and the unknown.  In a post-9/11 world, this ploy has become de rigueur in politics.  To my great disappointment, you cast your lot in with the fearful, the cowardly, and the hateful, when you decided to back a “pause” on refugee admission.

Shame on you.  You know better.

Sir, kindly take a note from Francois Hollande, President of France.

“We have to reinforce our borders while remaining true to our values,” …

“France will remain a country of freedom,” defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

“Life should resume fully,” Hollande told a gathering of the country’s mayors, who gave him a standing ovation. “What would France be without its museums, without its terraces, its concerts, its sports competitions? …

“France should remain as it is. Our duty is to carry on our lives.”

In the same spirit, he added, “30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment,” explaining that they will undergo vigorous security checks.

Hollande noted that “some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubts in their minds,” but called it a “humanitarian duty” to help those people … but one that will go hand in hand with “our duty to protect our people.”

Shoot, don’t take a note, just repeat that ish verbatim switching out North Carolina for France.  Don’t be cowed by the fear-mongering rhetoric of this day.

Do better.  Please.

Kate Woomer-Deters wrote an editorial piece published in yesterday’s N&O that explains why all of this is wrong. Her comments are addressed to the governor’s sorry decision, but they apply to you as well since you’ve decided to jump on the train to the land of the politics of cynicism.   I’m going to reproduce Kate’s piece, here, just in case you missed it yesterday, and I’ll draw special attention to the good parts:

In announcing that he wants the federal government to stop sending Syrian refugees to North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory has chosen to cave to anti-immigrant sentiment. He also stated that his administration would be reviewing refugee security information from 33 additional “special interest” countries and made reference to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan as potential countries on that list. He complained that North Carolina does not have enough information from the federal government on how the refugees in our state have been “vetted” and where they are residing.

Pandering to the politccs of fear.  We already know one of the bombers was a Belgian national, but last I heard, we’re still letting Belgians in.  And, of course, the refugees fleeing Syria are the people Daesh is trying to hurt.  Details, details.

Further, McCrory’s focus on Syria and 33 additional “special interest” countries is a worrisome indicator that Islamophobia is at play. While McCrory did not list the 33 additional countries, he did note that Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan were included. Millions of innocent citizens in majority-Muslim countries struggle to live, work, go to school and raise their families each day while facing unimaginable threats of violence from within their own countries and from foreign actors. Conversely, people of many religions and ethnicities, including homegrown American terrorists, are inspired by misguided and hateful political rhetoric to inflict acts of terror and violence.

Some terrorists even consider themselves Christians!

To be effective in stopping acts of terror and violence, we must be able to distinguish true threats from innocent people who happen to share a nationality or religion with others who have committed acts of terror. This is true in local policing as well as in our policing of the world.

You know what else this reminds me of? The phobia of Asian immigrants during World War II.  You know, like the Japanese internment camps that we should all be ashamed of?  Oh, looks like I’m not the only one.

Most ironically, McCrory’s other actions have actively prevented our state from identifying and “vetting” the immigrants in our midst. McCrory was a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans law, which was upheld by the Fifth Circuit last week. McCrory, who wants to make sure the 59 Syrian refugees in our midst are “vetted,” has had a direct hand in denying that very chance to the tens of thousands of immigrants living in our state who could potentially qualify for DAPA.

Roy, you remember this lawsuit, don’t you? Did you ever talk to the governor about it?

The DAPA program, as proposed by President Obama a year ago, would have given those immigrants already living in North Carolina the chance to come forward, identify themselves, tell the federal government where they are living and have their backgrounds “vetted,” in McCrory’s words. Further, North Carolina’s new law limiting acceptable forms of identification denies immigrants who want to present a valid, government-issued consular ID to law enforcement to identify themselves the chance to do so.

I know you remember this, Roy!  Or at least, I hope you do.  This policy has the potential to create a lot more work for the law enforcement agencies – work that doesn’t reduce crime or solve existing cases.  What’s up with that, Roy?

McCrory fears that the refugees who are lawfully present and whose backgrounds have already been checked by the federal government are not vetted enough. But for thousands of immigrants who want to step out of the shadows and voluntarily subject themselves to a background check or show a valid ID to law enforcement, he denies them that chance.

What Kate is saying, Roy, is that this is counter productive.  You’re talking about vetting that’s already happening, and the stuff you are doing makes people less safe, not more safe.  Also, as Kate pointed out far more gracefully than I am about to, it’s petty and wrong.

What this badly muddled situation cries out for, of course, is a comprehensive federal policy that allows immigrants who do not pose a threat to our nation to come and contribute to our culture and our economy. Congress has already established such a program for refugees, and we should follow that program and allow those refugees a chance at contributing to our country. Congress should now do so for the other hardworking immigrants in our country who pose not a threat to us, but an opportunity.

I want to point out here, Roy, that you are not running for Congress.  This is a job for Congress.  Stay in your lane.

Unfortunately, McCrory’s recent actions and statements are not helping to advance the causes of justice or security.

That goes double for you, Roy, because you know the law here, you know better, and you are a candidate running under the banner of the Democratic party.

Please correct your statement from today, or send me my $10 back.



Franchise & Your Vote

When I think of “franchise,” I think of Subway. They are everywhere in downtown Raleigh. Often you can see another Subway from the front door of the Subway you are in!

Franchise has another meaning though: the right to vote. Someone who is not allowed to vote is said to be disenfranchised. So far, so good.

Well, I heard about a new outfit called iVote the other day. Their goal is to make voter registration automatic. Oregon started this last year, and California recently joined the club.  This is an extension of the “motor voter” laws that allowed folks to register to vote at the same time they registered their cars at the DMV. And you already are opted into so many things in life, right, why not voting?

What’s the worst case scenario?



No, dudes, that is not the worst case scenario – at least not for people who are opposed to this.  Those people are mostly Republicans, according to the news pieces I read. The common specter raised by the anti-enfranchisement crowd is that there will be fraud – noncitizens will register.


Voter fraud is exceptionally rare. Myths about voter fraud are as common as cynical folks willing to capitalize on fear.


The real fear, the unspoken fear of folks who are against iVote’s plan to make registration automatic is that young people, poor people, people with transportation issues, and minorities will have greater access to the ballot box than before . . . and that they will use their votes to vote against fear-mongering.  Historically disenfranchised people tend to vote for Democratic candidates.

What to make of all of this?

Use your franchise.  Register to vote and register others to vote; then vote and get others to vote, too.  Get involved or donate at iVote.

Thanks to Citizens United, corporations – including those that own tens of thousands of fast-food franchises – can spend unlimited monies on elections.  But they can’t yet directly buy your vote.  Until it’s automatic, you got to go ahead and get registered yourself.

This is a rant, not a think piece.

This is the new normal.


It is now normal that someone will take a gun or several guns into a school and kill one or more people.  It might be a college, but it also might be an elementary school.  It is normal for people to merge without signaling, it is normal for the baristas at Starbucks to misspell your name, and it is normal for a man to shoot students at school.


Some days, that might even happen more than once, as happened on Friday at the University of Northern Arizona and Texas Southern University.  The week before, it was Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  That is normal, now, too.


Your children will come home and explain to you how they participated in a drill today in case “bad guys” were to come into their classroom.  You might have had a tornado drill, or a fire drill, but now little ones who are unable to tie their shoes practice for an “active shooter.”  They practice so that they are ready, you see, when the shooter comes.


Their teachers – the same girls who made the best jello shots in college –are now experts at quieting little mouths, herding their classes into closets or bathrooms to sit in silence.  Somehow they manage to get the children to focus on their blinking cell phone screens instead of the noise of administrators checking to make sure the classroom door is closed, locked, and then the next one, and the next.  I doubt there was a class in the elementary education curriculum that covered that situation.


Then of course, there is always the possibility of a shooting death closer to home.


The breaking news the other night was of a shooting on the 900 block of my old street, a few doors down from the shotgun duplex I lived in during law school.  Nice neighborhood, not where you would expect these things to happen, that is, not if you still labored under the delusion that “these things” only happen in poor neighborhoods.


I was worried that it was one of my friends who still lived there who had been killed, so I began an anxious roll call of Facebook messages and texts.  What an awful ritual.  And if someone I know was involved, I almost didn’t want to know.


But it wasn’t one of my friends.  I cannot be thankful.  According to the news coverage, the murder victim was shot by her ex-boyfriend, and the ex also shot her brother.  Apparently I have friends in common with her – the world is, in some ways, still so very small.


Intimate partner violence, they call it.  It reflects the truth that a woman is more likely to be murdered by her boyfriend than anyone else. This, too, is normal.  Just live with it, because guns will keep you safe from bad guys, unless your lover kills you, then it turns out he was the bad guy.  There’s no drill for that.


This is the new normal.  I don’t know what to do with it, but I thought I would let you know.