Featured Posts

Tuesday in Mooseville – ICYMI: A Gathering in Baltimore Over the Weekend 12/4/18

An UnConvention was held in Baltimore this past weekend.

While The Gathering was happening in Burlington, VT this past weekend, another event was happening that slid under the radar of most reporters and tweeters. RootsCamp 2018 is the [now] biennial, progressive unconference held by Re:Power (which is the rebranded, revised Wellstone Action; some of the story is here: Wellstone is now re:power). Unlike some conferences, the focus for #Roots18 was not the 2020 presidential election but the work that must be done in 2019 and beyond:

RootsCamp is the major conference where you’ll get to debrief the midterm elections – what we won and what we’ve learned. You’ll be alongside progressive leaders from all parts of the movement – organizers, campaigners, data directors, you name it – on setting the tone for 2019. (What is RootsCamp?)

Although Re:Power handled the nuts and bolts of putting the conference together, this is very much a grass-roots driven gathering similar to Netroots Nation. As an “unconference,” the sessions are devised and led by the participants, with discussion moderated by session creators.

At this unconference, The Board is where the conference schedule is set—right in front of your eyes. It is a giant grid of times and locations in the middle of the conference center that a team of volunteers fills with sessions dreamed up and submitted by you, the participants.

All participants are welcome to submit an idea for what we call a “session.” A session just means one 60-minute block of time that you can use for any conversation, training, demonstration, or panel that you think folks in our movements would benefit from.

Some people will arrive with a set plan for a session they want to propose, and—most excitingly—many of you will also design sessions for Sunday based on a “We need to continue this conversation!” moment from Saturday. (The Board)

The theme for this year’s event was Building Local Power with Inclusive Politics.

We’re choosing to zero in on what it means to practice a more inclusive politics and think about ways that we can transform our democracy so that our people win and collectively thrive. Each plenary speaker at RootsCamp speaks to this theme with a unique approach, reflective of the many roles of our movement. (The Theme)

I want to be very clear: I did not attend RootsCamp2018, and in fact, I had forgotten it was happening until I started receiving excited updates from my nephew, who did attend. But I felt this was an important enough event to highlight, using tweets from attendees and articles I’ve found. It’s a(n un) conference I will definitely be considering for 2020.

A Boyhood Memory of World War II London

Jack, left, and Don, right in 1939

Tradition says that anyone born within the sound of Bow bells is a true Cockney. My husband Don certainly qualifies on that score: he was born at Lambeth, not far from the church of St. Mary-le-Bow. “Grandpa is walking, talking history,” I tell our grandchildren. Recently he shared his boyhood memories of wartime London with us.

“I had just turned nine three weeks before Britain declared war on Germany,” Don recalled. “The news was broadcast on the wireless that Sunday and the next day the teachers announced it at Lowther Road Primary School, which I attended.”

Soon after the announcement Don’s school was evacuated by train to Burnham, 30 miles from London. He was evacuated with his brother Jack, who was two years older. When the children arrived the organizers of the evacuation arranged for them to be placed in people’s homes. As Don and Jack were the last two evacuees, the organization didn’t have a place for them, so finally the boys were billeted with a family who lived in a row of cottages.

Asked what it was like living with strangers, Don replied, “It wasn’t very nice. My brother and I had to share a blanket, even though it was quite cold. The place was a real pigpen. After every meal what we didn’t eat was scraped back into a pot and we had it the next day. We went to the local school, which was set up for the evacuees to attend in the morning and the local children in the afternoon. My older brother Bob, who was 14 and therefore hadn’t been evacuated, came to visit us. After he told our mother about the conditions we were living in she complained bitterly, so a nicer house was found for us. When the owner found out she would be raking lice out of our hair, she said she would never have taken us in if she’d known. The war was little in evidence at that time, so our parents brought us back to London at Christmas 1939.”

After Don and Jack returned home, Don’s school was bombed. When the schools finally reopened nine months later, Don attended Barnes Central School with Jack.

All three boys helped their father dig an Andersen shelter in the back garden of their house. “He had to go down three feet to dig the six-by-eight feet shelter,” Don remembered. “The dirt we dug out was put back on top of the corrugated steel roof. It was damp in the shelter, which is how I developed bronchial problems. Dad never came down there, so after a while we simply stayed in our house during air raids. We lived in West London and the worst bombing was in the East End.”

Asked if he ever saw a dogfight between the RAF and the German planes in the searchlights at night, Don shook his head. “No, when the planes were dropping their bombs the searchlights were used to aid the anti-aircraft guns on the ground. We used to jump on our bicycles after an explosion to see if we could pick up any shrapnel, mainly from the big guns fired by the army. Later in the war we saw and heard the V-1 and V-2 rockets, also called ‘buzzbombs.’ The engine made a droning noise. One of them fell at the back of the Regency Cinema in Hammersmith, obliterating my dad’s truck that was parked there.”

When V-E Day was declared in May 1945 Don was nearly fifteen. “Everyone was overjoyed that the war was over. We all went to the West End and stayed around Trafalgar Square among the huge crowds.”

During the “austerity” that reigned in Britain until 1954, Don attended Kingston Technical College in Richmond-on-Thames, served two years in the Royal Air Force, and later spent some time working in Rhodesia. In 1965 he emigrated to America where he married, became a U.S. citizen, and brought up a family.

It’s easy to forget that from 1939 to 1942 it was not a foregone conclusion that the Allies would win the war. The threat of a German invasion of Britain was all too real. We Americans must remember that we owe Britain—standing alone against Germany until America entered the war in December 1941—our undying gratitude.

 

Don today

All my armor comes from you (an AIDS Walk Austin diary – there’s another match Wednesday)

So, first thing, there is another $100 match Wednesday, and another chance to win South By Southwest wristbands if I raise $250. If I get to $250, and if I win the wristbands (2 big ifs) I’ll put the names of all of today’s donors in my own drawing & give someone the other wristband, since I can’t use 2.

Here is my AIDS Walk Austin page.

I don’t know about you, but I could use some warm fuzzies – an AIDS Walk diary


it’s hard to read, but it says: “love is bigger than anything in its way”

So we’ve all been hearing the awfulness brought out by the Kavanaugh hearings. Some of us are reliving/remembering some pretty awful things. I can’t deal with any more horror/disgust/sadness. I can’t go back and re-do the past, make those things not happen. What I can do is try to make now better. I’m writing a diary filled with warm fuzzies. And asking for donations for AIDS Walk Austin.

Mabon

Mabon, a triple sonnet

 

Woods Tree Leaves Fall Nature Autumn Red Season

 

(A Triple Sonnet)

by Benjamin Neideigh

Saint Philibert’s feast day passed weeks ago,
But we shall munch his namesake nuts today,
And apples, too—deep shiny red, aglow—
And kiss each other’s chins to lick away
The sweet juice of the autumn’s proudest fruit.
The pumpkins and piled corn make tables groan.
Try to ignore the bony man, hirsute
With moss and cobwebs, by the door. He’ll moan
For sweet Persephone, and she will follow.
The pomegranate promise she has made,
And she must keep it deep in Hades’ hollow.
Six months she’ll stay, her sad absence displayed

By withered leaves, by fruitless trees, by snow…
And hard on her footsteps, we too must go

Out of the light that sparked the spring rebirth,
Out of the sun that heated summer’s play,
Into the falling dark, the cooling earth,
With harvest larders feeding us for days,
For weeks, for months, until things grow again.
This we accept. It’s truth, and truth we crave.
Truth is: we need the rest, the darkened den,
The sleep, the dreams, the Winter Solstice grave,
The death-and-rebirth of the lordly sun
Three months from now, in winter’s deepest cold,
Year’s longest night. That’s how Earth’s course is run,
And why ancestors rose up, newly bold,

Sure of the changing spans of day and night,
Sure of dear Gaia’s plans for their delight.

But… I’m ahead of myself. Mabon’s here.
Fresh bales of hay are dotting all the fields.
Altars of red/gold/orange now appear,
And we’ll chant praises for abundant yields.
We’ll feast… but not too much and not too long.
What we’ve laid in must last ’til spring arrives.
We’ll welcome the Dark Mother with our song,
Expressing gratitude that we’re alive
And thriving in this wonderland she gave,
Though threatened as it is by heedlessness.
We must combat the greenback’s blinded slaves
And put to right their greed-inflicted mess.

Today is balance, and balance we seek.
We shall be loving, kind… but never meek.

© Verse-Case Scenario, LLC 2018


Ben’s note: I still hold in my heart nuggets of the earth-based spirituality I studied in the Nineties and early “Oughts.” The practice and the mythology contain valuable messages for modern humankind and provide crystal clear focal points for meditating on what’s truly meaningful. May you all enjoy a blessed Autumn Equinox.

Diana’s note: I first met Ben and his wife Jean at the place where we studied earth-based spirituality in “the Nineties and early Oughts.”

 

Woods Tree Leaves Fall Nature Autumn Red Season

Entering the Quiet Time as We Leaf the Light Behind

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the Sun being vertically above a point on the Equator. The latitudes +L and -L north and south of the equator experience nights of equal length and the celestial equator has intersected the ecliptic in the axial precession.

This year’s autumnal equinox, when the light and dark are equal – but moving towards dark – arrives at 8:54pm Central Time on Saturday, September 22.

But seasonal celebrations should not be bound by dates and times and such. In fact, it is a good idea to pre-celebrate Equinox so that you do not miss that last fleeting moment when light and dark have equal time. So …

Let the Fall Celebrations Begin !!

Tuesday in Mooseville – Rage Becomes Us (h/t Soraya Chemaly) 9/11/18

Embrace it.

Sometimes you realize the reason you have a writing block is because you’re so damn angry. Twitter reminds me that I’m not alone; I remind myself that voting is cathartic and can’t come soon enough. Let’s get it done.

My first AIDS Walk diary for 2018

Hi. So if you look at my posting history, it’s 99% AIDS Walk & AIDS Ride diaries. Yeah, back in May I posted about going to the U2 concert in Chicago. But really — it’s about the Walk & the Ride; and heading into the fall season, it’s #AIDSWalkATX. This year, it’s in early November:

In its 31st year, AIDS Walk Austin returns to Republic Square on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Benefiting ten sharing agencies including AIDS Services of Austin, this event brings together people (and pets) from all walks of life!

AIDS Walk Austin attracts 1,000+ people annually for an afternoon of celebration and remembrance of those affected by HIV. This year, the Walk will partner with the Farmer’s Market to create an amazing festival atmosphere that will be fun for the families, friends, and pets.

Together, we can add up the steps to equal Zero new infections.

VNV Tuesday – Book Break! Getting Cozy 8/7/18

Not my books, but I recognize this style of decorating.

I read. I read a lot. On a scale of 1-10, I’m probably a 7.5-8 in terms of time spent reading. For the most part, I read non-fiction, mostly history of some sort, and since I started doing Tuesday posts, my reading has provided an invaluable resource for information and inspiration. When I start feeling bogged down and in need of self-care, I turn to mysteries, some cozy, some not. Ngaio Marsh and P.D. Marsh are my all-time favorite mystery writers, the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters are my favorite historical mysteries (thanks, Rugbymom for turning me on to them), and Diane Mott Davidson writes my favorite cozy (culinary) mysteries. I mentioned to my daughter a few weeks ago that I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed by all of the history I’ve been reading, but I wasn’t sure I could take a break and leave myself topic-less for these posts. She suggested I read some mysteries written by persons of color, and Diana in NoVa suggested an author that I might find interesting and want to start with. So from now on, when you see “Book Break!” in the title, you’ll know I’m taking an emotional breather and that the kudos belong to The Kiddo and Diana.