TRIGGER WARNINGS: The following post deals with miscarriage, mental illness, the consequences of denying women the right to an abortion, racism, violence, and murder.
Kansas is an odd place. In many ways, it is very conservative, but it has some of the more liberal abortions laws in the country. Back in the early 1990s when Dr. George Tiller’s clinic was besieged by Operation Rescue protestors, my mother was one of the counter-protestors who stood to protect the clinic and its clients, even though the clinic had been bombed in 1986 and the threats of violence from people who called themselves pro-life were constant and real. In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms, and in May 2009, he was murdered in his church while welcoming congregants to services.¹
The battle carried over to the op-ed pages of the Wichita Eagle. My mother showed up there, too, in this letter to the editor she wrote in response to a young woman making a case for adoption. One additional note: in her letter, my mother uses the racist term “mongoloid,” which was, for a time, the descriptor used for people with Down’s syndrome. I do not excuse her usage, but would like it noted that she quickly became aware of the hurtful nature of the word, and quit using it shortly after she wrote this letter.
Most women who have an abortion do so to save their lives, their sanity, their health, their jobs and finances, their family’s well-being. Vote for choice.
Due to technical difficulties, I have fallen behind in my postings. And by “technical difficulties,” I mean that my daughter, who tries to make sure I take care of my assorted devices, told me that there was an iOS update and that I should download and install it. So I did that, and I saw that my iTunes button had turned red and that there was now a magnifier button on my screen, and I’m hoping to get Meredith to explain the new Privacy settings to me, but everything else seemed pretty much the same. That is, until (dramatic music here, maybe from a tragic opera or a truly frightening horror movie) I tried to upload my recent photos for my next blog post, and WordPress told me, and I quote, “Sorry, this file type is not permitted for security reasons.” I figured that I had just not given the photo enough time to latch onto the WordPress media library and tried again. And WordPress said, “Sorry, this file type is not permitted for security reasons,” though it sounded snarkier and more smug this time.
I thought maybe there was something wrong with the photo itself, so I took a new picture of the page, re-edited it, and tried to upload it to my media library. And what did WordPress say? “Sorry, this file type is not permitted for security reasons.” This time I think it was gloating. It may have stuck its tongue out at me, but it happened too quickly for me to be sure.
Obviously, I needed help. So I tried the WordPress fora. I immediately found an old thread started by someone who had had exactly the same problem with which I was struggling. I was sure that I was on my way to resolving my difficulty, but alas! All the thread had to offer was that, at the time the question had been asked, WordPress itself was being glitchy and the WP Fairies were working their magic to smooth out the bump. I couldn’t find anything more recent (and I was getting frustrated), so I sent my daughter a message, a cry for help, a plea for a light in the darkness of my blogging.
Now, Meredith is rather busy these days. She’s working full-time, going to school half-time, and volunteering with her local CASA organization. It is, therefore, not unreasonable that it took her a couple days to respond to me. But here I encountered a wrinkle I had NOT seen coming: Meredith didn’t know the answer. All of you who rely on your children to help navigate the often stormy seas of modern technology will understand how flummoxed I felt.
In desperation, I opened a browser window and typed in “Sorry, this file type is not permitted for security reasons.” One of the links I followed offered a list of file types that WordPress deems sufficiently innocuous to allow to cross its borders. “Huh,” I thought, “maybe I should make sure my photos are still JPEGs.” So after sifting through menus and sub-menus and randomly clicking on obscure options, I finally got my computer to confess that my new photos were NOT, in fact, JPEGs any longer. They were now something called HEIC. Apparently this new format saves space or something like that. I didn’t really care. I just wanted my JPEGgy photos back.
The next logical step, it seemed to me, was to find out how to change my HEIC photos back into nice, tractable JPEGs. So back to my browser I went to ask it how to effect such a transformation. My research revealed that it was possible to do this in fifteen simple steps that I would be able to understand as soon as I got a degree in computer programming. This sort of “solution” is why I like my pens and copy machine.
Even if I could have figured out how to take my poor image through these multiple stations, I don’t have the time to go through that process for every photo I want to upload to my blog. I was not happy. So I went to bed.
The next day I looked again for ways to re-dress HEIC photos in JPEG clothing, and after poking around on the ‘Net for years — well, maybe months, possibly days —OK: a couple hours, I FINALLY stumbled on a link that told me I COULD GO TO THE SETTINGS OF MY PHONE AND TURN OFF THE HEIC OPTION AND GO BACK TO TAKING JPEGS. And here, my friends, I realized that I had once again fallen prey to one of the persistent problems with my brain: not knowing what question to ask. (I once spend two weeks trying to order a new power cord for my computer and could NOT find one anywhere. Eventually I found out that what I wanted was a power cable, but I didn’t know to ask for one of those.)
In conclusion, I switched off the HEIC and restored the JPEG setting, re-took and re-edited the photos, and will now resume my “30 Inks in 30 Days” listing of a month of reasons to vote (really, if anyone is considering not voting, whether you agree with my views or not, please re-consider and vote. We all need to know what we, as a country, as a society, see as the direction in which we should take ourselves).
Thank you for reading. Stay well and safe and healthy.
Back in April of this year, the National Geographic magazine for Earth Day was a double-sided issue. One cover bore the title, “How We Lost the Planet”; the flip-side offered “How We Saved the World.” The issue pretty much embodies how I exist these days: in a constant state of flipping between despair and hope.
Today, here in Colorado, the smoke from our own fires mixed with that from California. Early in the afternoon, the air reminded me of growing up in L.A. in the ‘sixties and early ‘seventies. We had “smog days” when we couldn’t go outside, when recess was held indoors and we played “Thumbs Up, Seven Up,” sitting at our desks with our heads down and a thumb up while a classmate would go around and tap a set of kids on the thumb. Once these children were chosen, we would be allowed to pick up our heads while the selected seven tried to guess who had tapped them. It was every bit as exciting as it sounds.
But even on the days when we allowed to play outside, our chests would hurt and sometimes we couldn’t get a full breath. We didn’t think too much about it; that was all we knew. But our parents did and for a while there were effective efforts to mitigate air pollution. The air in L.A.got better, as it did in other cities in America.
Today, my lungs thought they were right back in the L.A. of my youth. Breathing ached; my throat felt scoured; my head ached; my stomach turned sour. And however poor the conditions are here, they are fractionally as awful as California’s.
My husband and I had planned a drive today, just to get out of the house. We made it up high enough to be away from the smoke briefly, but most of the time the cab of the truck was smoke-imbued.
It was difficult to come back down where the smoke blanketed everything like fog, and nothing like fog.
By early afternoon, I was no longer thinking of Los Angeles; I was thinking of Pompeii.
Wildfires are far from the only disasters caused by global warming. Plastic is raining down across the country, including in our delicate, protected preserves; hurricane season is far more dangerous now. The disdain for science so proudly promulgated by politicians and voters will cost us our lovely planet and guess what? There’s not room for all of us on the International Space Station.
In addition, a lot of us are going to be denied the opportunity to be grandparents because of climate change. The next generations are reluctant to bring children into a world that might not be around long enough for their children to live to old age or that will mean they have to live in a wasteland. I don’t have an effective counter-argument for them.
The setting sun and the moon have been orange and lurid for weeks now.
But this evening was the sun was new kind of eerie.
And tonight — tonight the moon is red, a mourning red, an angry crimson.
So vote for our lives, for our home, for our environment, for the continuation of our species, for leaders who will push us to evolve into stewards of the Earth. Vote. Please vote.
Union of Concerned Scientists. “The Connection Between Climate Change and Wildfires.” Updated March 11, 2020.
Gavin Newsom on climate change and California’s wildfires. August 20, 2020.
We shouldn’t have to say it any longer, but we do. Black Lives Matter. And today the news has given us a new name to say:
Mr. Prude was killed back in March, but the circumstances of his death while wearing a spit hood the police put on him only recently came to light. I’ll let you read the details in the accounts below.
There are other groups whose lives we similarly devalue. Some are subsets of the Black community (Black trans folk, Black women) and some are not (BIPOC groups) or may not be (Jews, Muslims, other minority religions). I’m not sure how to talk about these groups without seeming to diminish the BLM discussion,* but for the moment, perhaps the ink offers an analogy. The ink looks black when left alone, but a little water shows it comprises other colors and shades. I will continue to find a more elegant and effective means to discuss the broad swathe of people whose rights we need to affirm and whose wrongs — the ones done to them in the past and the ones we continue to tolerate, propagate, and commit — we must work to assuage.
* 4 September, 2020: I just read in the New York Times this excellent distinction made by Daria Allen, a sixteen-year-old who has been protesting in Portland, Oregon:
One of the few chants she consistently recites is “Black lives matter.” It annoys her that the phrase has become a subject of controversy, often met with the diminishing response “All lives matter.”
“When they have the breast cancer runs, you don’t see people out there yelling, ‘What about lung cancer?’” she said. “Just because I’m talking about what’s happening to me doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s happening with you. Why do I have to constantly remind these people that I matter?”
When Ms. Allen
posted a link to the fund-raiser in a neighborhood Facebook group, a woman confronted her. Ms. Allen was destroying the city, she said. Ms. Allen fired back, arguing that the police were polluting the city with tear gas. The argument ended with the woman sending her a direct message, which Ms. Allen has saved in her inbox, just to remind herself of the mentality she is fighting against.
“If I see you on the street, you will be the next Black person hanging from a tree,” the woman wrote.
It makes me ill that anyone would throw the hateful and horrifying spectre of lynching at a Black teenager, one who is raising her voice and risking her health and life to call for justice and equality. Vote for Daria Allen because Daria Allen isn’t yet old enough to vote for herself.
Well, I’ve had a difficult two months, with my M.E. surging. Hot weather, whether I’m out in it or not, often makes it worse. We seem to be cooling off a bit now, despite the fires here in Colorado. I did finish up Rivka’s story; Meredith is thinking about rounding out Emma’s portion with a story of her own. So for anyone who is wondering how this tale concludes (spoiler: no one dies), read on: