political activism

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

I almost skipped Moral Monday because of the torrential rains we’ve had here in North Carolina, but Deb convinced me at the last minute to go. It was muddy, but it didn’t rain much until we were on our way home. We didn’t stay as long this time. There will be a tenth wave of Moral Monday protests on July 8. I don’t know how long the NAACP will continue these but it keeps growing. There are protests on Wednesdays around 1 p.m. as well.

On July 1, 2013, long-term unemployment benefits were cut for North Carolina citizens. We have the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation. We are the only state who refused an extension of federal unemployment benefits. 71,000 lost their benefits yesterday. I have a special sympathy with the unemployed. I understand the desperation and depression of long-term unemployment and underemployment. With state cuts adding more to the unemployed, and fewer jobs available, this is simply another way to balance our budget on the backs of the poor. It boggles my mind that the unemployed are demonized and punished in this society which claims to be overtly Christian in outlook.

Here are photos and links to a couple of videos I took with my trusty little point and shoot Nikon.

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

Moral Monday, July 1, 2013

The first is in the middle of the crowd during the outside rally singing “Lean on Me.”

The second begins with Rev. Barber exhorting the crowd and then shows the people who volunteered to be arrested for civil disobedience march through the crowd of supporters on their way to the Legislative Building.

political activism

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

The North Carolina NAACP began a movement several weeks ago they call “Moral Mondays.” Every week draws more protesters and activists who are pushing back against the regressive policies and outright meanness of the current GOP controlled state government. It is a spiritual as well as a political event, with many of the state’s clergy participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested for trespassing. I decided that I needed to be a supporter of these fine citizens, so I went with my friend Deb to the seventh Moral Monday in Raleigh on Monday, June 17.

This movement has drawn the usual ridicule and name calling from the nastier faction of the far right, as well as outright lies about the protesters being mainly “outside agitators.” That was very nice compared to most of the other names we’ve been called for exercising our first amendment rights, but we tried to put this fabrication to rest on Monday so there are a lot of signs referring to being an North Carolina resident. Researchers from UNC Chapel Hill interviewed a sampling of the crowd and found that 311 out of 316 were from North Carolina.

There are many stories in the regional, national, and international news about Moral Mondays right now. I’m not going to try to write a long post about it. I’m proud that my sister and brother-in-law and I are a part of it. The Reverend Barber is an inspiring speaker and I’ll quote him from his Guardian article here, and follow it with a few of my photos. As usual, please ask permission if you would like to repost or use one of my photos. Thank you.

“To date, over 300 people have been arrested and thousands have lifted their voices in opposition to the avalanche of extreme public policies. The measures include:

  • Cutting the payroll tax credit for over 900,000 poor and working people
  • Slashing state unemployment benefits and rejecting federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation to 170,000 laid-off workers
  • Rejecting federal funds to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance

“In sum, the NC general assembly is making it harder for those who are sick to get healthcare; for children to get an education; for the incarcerated to be redeemed; for people to vote. At the same time, they make it easier for the rich to get richer; for the sick to get sicker; for private schools to profit while cutting funds for public schools; to implement the flawed death penalty; and to get guns.”

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

Moral Monday, June 17, 2013

The protesters who were arrested for trespassing and failure to disperse volunteered to be arrested. The police were respectful and professional. There were many songs uplifted and lots of chanting. This was not an overly rowdy crowd, but I, for one, would like to see one of these protests be a silent vigil. As Rev. Barber pointed out, on July 1, many of our unemployed are going to lose their benefits. People’s lives are going to be hurt. It is a sad occasion and should be treated as such.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, political activism, whining

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

Yes, I had to correct the word “morning” in my title because I see that it is now 12:13 p.m. I normally don’t drink coffee after noon, but I spent a glorious morning mostly sleeping. Insomniacs will understand. I got up at 9 to feed the cats before they started nibbling on me, went back to sleep until 11! Oh, how BLISSFUL to feel totally rested. I have absolutely no obligations or plans for two one and a half days.

I’ve spent the last few months really struggling with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and hot flashes. Last summer I doubled my anti-depressant dose on the advice of my GP and my gynecologist, who said that it might help with my hot flashes as well. It did get me out of the hole, but it did a number on my already estrogen-withdrawal stressed brain. After talking to a therapist in the fall when my anxiety got high (this medication doesn’t really help with anxiety) I gradually lowered my dose back to the original. And several months ago I went back in the hole. Hot flashes intensified. One of the aggravating things about menopause for me is that I’ve been going through it for YEARS. Peri-menopause started for me in my late 30s! So every time my troubles die down, I get my hopes up that it is done. I hate depending on pills. But I hate the hole worse, so here I am, back on the higher dose and my brain is functioning at a much lower level again.

So I’m trying to adjust to this. I’m making a few lifestyle changes and working on my overall health. I’m being kind to my Self and letting her take breaks and sleep late on days off. She doesn’t have to cook if she doesn’t want to, but she does need to eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, and get some exercise. And I let her quit Elements Gallery. I told her that she has a paying full-time job so she doesn’t have to get anxious about not turning out artwork for sale or display. She can do it for fun and not worry about what other people think. Learning to nurture my Self is what started my Slow Turn toward the light years ago.

I had bloodwork done last week and my cholesterol has gone down about 30 points. It still needs to go down about 20 more. There were lots more positive results – my blood sugar and liver, kidney, and thyroid functions are fine. The big surprise was that I am vitamin D deficient. I take a good multi-vitamin every day and try to eat D-rich foods, but I don’t get much sun because I am prone to sun poisoning. So I’m adding another pill to the handful that I take, which includes a multivitamin for menopause, fish oil, red yeast rice, citalopram, loratidine, and naproxen. Hopefully this and some more diet and exercise tweaking will get me back up to speed and help with my depression and energy problems.

(And, although I welcome comments, if you want to tell me that I do not NEED anti-depressants, just save your energy. I came to this place after years of rejecting them, and the fact is, I need them to live my life fully. If YOU don’t need them or have been able to find alternatives, I am quite happy for you. I am thankful every day that they work for me.)

Last weekend was spent in a major effort to clean house. We could have made a third cat out of all the cat hair we cleaned up. I love living in an older house (built in 1922) because of the little things that give it character, but I do not enjoy how much dust it generates. Granted, we ignored cleaning the floors and ceiling fans for much longer than we should have, MUCH longer. There is still much to be done, but it is much more liveable here now.

My garden has been ravaged by rabbits. They have eaten my fennel, my peas, and my little squashes. I am now in “what the hell” mode and I’m going to buy my veggies from the farmers’ market and Deep Roots and plant flowers, herbs, and dye and paper plants instead. Hopefully we will still get peppers and tomatoes and green beans, and the figs are about to get ripe, so it is not all bad.

On Monday, I plan to go to Raleigh to the Moral Monday protest at the State Capitol with a friend. My task this weekend is to come up with a sign. The Tea Party decimation of our once centrist state is overwhelming, so picking one issue will be difficult. I’ll probably choose public education since my job is at a public university, and it is vital to train our citizens how to communicate and think about all sides of a problem or issue if we are to save this country.

Maybe the next post will be art related. I’m going to mordant some fibers this afternoon, and boil some seaweed in soda ash to break it down for papermaking.

art, book arts, political activism

Life update

new books

I think that I’ve pulled myself together again. It’s been a a little over a week since Guido passed on, but really the whole bad situation started last December. In a way, it is a big relief that I no longer have to make the decision, and certainly it is a huge relief not to hear him cry and wonder if it is senility or pain. The last few days he had stopped eating, although he was getting around okay. It was time, and I didn’t want to forcefeed him or pill him or take him back to the vet or watch him starve to death. The vet’s office made a house call and he never had to get off my bed.

I’m pretty happy about the national election. It went as well as I hoped and a little more. North Carolina continues to spiral downward with a total Republican majority in the house and Senate and governor and lieutenant governor. Yet most of the state offices such as attorney general, etc. remain Democrat. North Carolina is a very strange political state. I am ready to leave here but I am lucky to have a great job that I enjoy so I’ll probably grit my teeth and bear it. At least I live in a university town which is one of the blue spots on the electoral maps. Of course, I still have many issues with Democrats and President Obama and I will remain unaffiliated until they come back from their center right positions.

I’m proud of myself for getting off my butt and arranging this election night get-together at Sessions in Greensboro. I am not a social gal and generally avoid parties and crowds of people like the plague. But these are my peeps and it was a wonderful occasion to get together with this crowd.

Election night at Sessions

Art making has ground to a halt and I’ve decided not to try to force it. I’ll make art for myself for a while and see if anything comes out of it that I’d like to put up for sale. In the meantime, I did put three new blank books in the gallery. Looks like I’m going to start doing the computer inventory entry for the gallery soon.

Stormy Weather book

Oh, and for only the second time in my life (the first being about 20 years ago) I had my hair colored, at Leon’s Beauty School. The base color is “cherry cola” and there are blond streaks on top. I like it a lot – part of my image transformation. I got tired of the fading mousy brown look. I don’t mind gray or white, but I am ready for a change. In 2013 my vision insurance kicks in and I’ll get a funky new pair of glasses. I’m wearing earrings again every day. Hell, at this rate, I might have to invest in some “organic” make-up. I haven’t worn make-up in years. Will dental caps and a chin tuck be far behind? Um, yes. Very, very, very, very far behind.

book arts, fiber art, political activism

Random updates

Howdy.

I’m taking my lunch to work and I am going to find a few more corners to cut in order to save up for a trip to here: http://www.artparadiseinportugal.com/ with Sandy next year. It will be our 25th wedding anniversary year. Leighanna Light is going to teach a class there and I just loved the one day class I had with her a couple of years ago. This prospect has picked up my spirits considerably.

Susanne had another pulp painting class in her back yard a few weeks ago and I really, really loved doing it. I’d like to work with this some more after my hands get better. I miss making paper. It is doable as long as somebody else is schlepping around the heavy water vats and pulp buckets, but obviously I don’t have a servant at home.

It’s funny but although I miss making paper, I don’t really miss making books that much. Maybe I just needed a break. I have plenty of blank books for the gallery right now, so I’ve switched all over to weaving scarves and stitching occasionally on my magic cloth, which has magically transformed into a healing cloth. My back studio almost feels like a meditation room when I am not playing music or podcasts. I lose track of time so it is good to play This American Life episodes since I know that an hour has passed. I weave for 1-2 hours before I need to take a break for my hands and back. Weaving is not so hard, but preparing the warp and tying it on the loom is, so as much as I look forward to the next color combination, I also wish that I had a weaving elf to do that part for me. Surgery on my left hand is scheduled for December 23. This way I only have to take one sick day from work, since I have the week off after Christmas anyway.

Sandy and I marched as two of the 99% last Saturday in downtown Greensboro, and that made me cheer up more as well. It was a very family-friendly event with a diverse crowd. The organizers of Occupy Greensboro did a fantastic job, and they are still working their butts off planning more educational events and protests from their encampment downtown next to Festival Park. I have photos up on my Flickr site, and a nice compilation of photos is here:

For a video showing the entire “parade” of marchers, see this. If you had any stereotypical images of the protesters, it will surprise you:

Definitely not a bunch of homeless hippies or elitist radical hipsters or old-school Democrats. Certainly no Republicans, except for a few trying to ambush people with economic questions on video, and except for one guy dressed as Gumby carrying a sign that said “Thank God for the Rhino Times.” (How sad is that.) I wish that I had a demographic breakdown of this crowd. My guess is that many of us are unaffiliated or thinking about going that route. There were libertarians and socialists and anarchists there, but there were plenty of people who were not extremists and were simply disgusted with the way corporate money influences every aspect of our political system.

To solve a problem, first you have to admit that there is a problem. Then you bring awareness to those around you about the problem. I don’t expect the Occupy Movement to solve our vast economic problems, but I’m thrilled that they are waking people up out of their apathy to voice their grievances and demand some action from our so-called leaders. That is the value that this movement brings. The protesters don’t have to have answers. We elect people and pay them to come up with the answers, and they aren’t doing their jobs.

In conclusion, my butterbeans are producing heavily and are very delicious cooked with a few pieces of bacon.