Tyre Nichols

First, I want to acknowledge the sick beating death, as a violation of public trust, of Tyre Nichols. When I have gone through minor life crises and loss, it has been so odd to see the world just go on. Right now, on social media, life seems to be going blithely on, for so many. I know that for some, it is self-protection and mental health self-care. For others, it just feels like we are becoming numb, even when this was so egregiously horrendous.

I read a few of the news stories, and they mention that he called out for his mother three times. I made the decision to watch two body cam and the “skyview” recordings. When he called out for his mother, it wasn’t what I imagined of a man dying at the hands of brutality–remembering and wishing for a love that overpowers all. He was screaming. And I couldn’t reconcile that until . . . until I later read in an article that he was only a few houses away from his mother’s house, where he was staying. He was literally screaming for his mother to hear him and come to his aid. I feel like vomiting even writing that.

I had planed to continue on and tell you about my mundane little life, my normal yard projects, my little joys, my little concerns. But, I can’t.

We have to change.

Mastodon Migrations and Identity

A friend of mine mentioned Mastodon. Actually, he had mentioned it in the past, but I was happy where I was, which was Twitter. I had curated a great Twitter feed.

But, I am a strong believer that people/groups we allow to have influence over our thoughts and feelings, even seemingly tangentially (which is never as tangentially as they would have you believe) is an important consideration. So, I had already decided it was time to leave Twitter completely, with a clean break, when my friend mentioned Mastodon again.

I looked. I was impressed. There is a lot being written about Mastodon lately and I am not a tech expert, social groups expert, or Mastodon expert, so my little beginner list here is very inadequate in every way. But, the things I like, so far, are:

  • No ads or sponsored posts.
  • No data mining.
  • Mastodon is kind of anarchist in nature (and I am not an anarchy expert either, so, no offense for misconstruing this). A bunch of independent random people host “servers” (in English, seems to be “instances” in other languages). You could host your own server. They make their own rules about moderating, post character lengths, etc. That is your “home” group. But, you can simultaneously have a “federated” view and see posts or “toots” from other servers/instances. Don’t like your current “home”? Migrate to a new one. They have made it very simple to do.
  • As an outgrowth of the above, experienced users tend to use content notices much more liberally and encourage us new users to do so too. And, they do it better than Twitter. You put the subject and then there is a button to click for “Show more.” So simple and elegant.
  • There is an edit function.
  • It seems to be a more international platform, likely because it was started, I think, in Germany. You can choose servers based on primary language. My first “starter” server was in English. My current server is German, but it said English posts were fine, there are a lot of English posts, and it gives me a chance to practice perusing in German and if I want to make sure I am getting it, I just ask for help from Google Translate (which is far from perfect, but it is fun to use as an additional help). In other words, I like the international character in general and it is specifically allowing me regular fun exposure to one of my target languages without being burdensome or frustrating. It is serendipitously? intentionally? ideal, actually. The federated feed has quite a few languages making appearances.
  • Following hashtags is a designed-in function. You could do that on Twitter, but it was clearly an afterthought.
Four column layout for Mastodon with medic (white lab coat and stethoscope) happy yellow Mastodon in lower left corner. Far right column shows example of content notice.

Sorry for the resolution – I just don’t currently have the skills to fix that. Shows the four column advance web interface (selected in “Preferences”) showing 1. Where I can post or search, 2. My “home” or “server/instance” feed, 3. Notices, and 4. Federated feed* or with arrow to example of a content notice.

So, my very short experience has been this: There has been a huge flood of new accounts. There were a few servers that were open and accepting new accounts. Other accounts had temporarily put holds on new accounts because of the flood (and these are just regular individuals hosting the servers, for fun, I guess). Most other servers, you “apply” to join (sort of like joining a Facebook group or something). I joined one of these open servers that were accepting the flood of new users and got my feet wet.

There was nothing wrong with my server. It was run very well, actually. But, then I wanted to see what it was to join a specific community. I found this list. (I have no idea if it is exhaustive. I doubt it.) And, actually, this database looks like it has a pretty good search function.

And then came the question: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want my downtime to naturally focus on?

There was a geographic option that fit me, which would have great advantages. But, I have never seen myself as mainly an experience of where I live. More importantly, I did not want even subtle limitations of my feed based on my current location. So, I looked at other options and actually did some significant reflection. My job? I love my job. It is meeting my needs beautifully at the moment. Great people. Great mission. But, I am not my job and, as perfect as it is, it is not my passion. My social concerns/activism? Honestly, I need a break from that sometimes because it is so emotionally taxing. I will be able to find it whenever I want through hashtags, etc, but I don’t want to be immersed in it when I need to relax. I do need time to relax. We all do. There are topics I am interested in that did not seem to have a server, yet. I ended up on one of my lifelong passions. Emergency medical care has never left me. It has been a part of me my entire life. It brings me joy. So, even though it is a small server, I ended up on medic.cafe. Plus, it has a cute mastodon medic. 🙂 I am

@Jayne@medic.cafe

One thing I have noticed is that my little niche interests, of which I had a great group and lots of activity on Twitter, have not really made it over to Mastodon, yet. I have high hopes.

So, check things out on Mastodon if you are wanting to make a social media move. Give me a follow so I can see you are there – I am rebuilding my feeds from scratch! Especially if you are interested in:

  • emergency medical services
  • building mutual aid systems and strong communities (found some on Mastodon)
  • religion (all walks, traditions, faiths, types)
  • native plants/permaculture
  • backpacking/hiking/camping/trail running (found some on Mastodon)

One last quick note on consciously and intentionally choosing our identity and how social media influences our outlook on life: I am so grateful to have the freedom to just drop Twitter and pick up Mastodon on my own terms. In my previous job, it was important for me to maintain various social media accounts for our organization. We were very active in social justice and nonviolence. I loved our mission and loved working there. I also love being able to put that on the back burner at will when needed. If I were to give advice to any young person it would be to not be a social media manager, either as a part of or as an entire role, professionally.

*(The federated feed is not to be confused with the Fediverse, which I did, originally. Here is an explainer of the Fediverse. It’s in German, but you should be able to click to have it appear in English.)

* * * * *

Now, for a quick update on my life: Last weekend, I planted 10 inkberry bushes, three elderberries, and two persimmon trees. And, I ended up with poison ivy reaction (despite my carefulness) so bad that I am now on a long taper of prednisone. I think I am also developing secondary cellulitis on my arm. I will mark the perimeter with a Sharpie at work tomorrow. My plan is to do no more fall planting and just focus on keeping these new plants and the two previously planted paw paws alive and, hopefully, root thriving. Given that I will need to water them regularly and thus brave any lurking poison ivy, this will be enough in itself.

Week 44 photos

White Cat in yard waste sack

I heard some rustling and looked over to see White Cat in the sack I had brought along for English ivy yard waste.

Green leaves with red berries with little white petal caps.

After getting nowhere in positively identifying this plant encroaching a beautiful old growth tree, I noticed the same plant where I work and was able to find out from experts there that it is wintercreep euonymus. Not native, invasive, and so I can relieve my tree of its encumbrance, despite its cute little additions of color. Someday.

Young maple with golden yellow leaves in front of magnolia tree.

This little maple brings me joy when I look out the window first thing in the morning.

Week 45

One small black inkberry berry on a branch with autumn leaf on ground below.

One of the ten inkberry bushes had one little black-ink berry on it already.

Paw paws when first planted and then one month later (from reverse viewpoint). I am hoping they are still healthy and this is just autumn changes in new transplants.

Small white mushroom in dirt just turned up for planting.

Childs toy of smiling person in red clothing with grey hair and glasses.

My daughter just sent me this photo from where she and 1-year-old A are nannying. A keeps calling this toy, “Grandma.” I love it.

Barnhill’s “When Women Were Dragons”

The image-sound-emotions that arise when I think of this novel are an amalgamation of the screaming-yell of Eleven when she channels every spark of power within her against Evil in Stranger Things, a pastoral scene from an intentional community, and a refrain from Hamilton, the voices coming together to sing, “Rise up!”

That’s not by accident. That is art.

A friend of mine recommended the book in a post the day after the Uvalde massacre (May 24) (which occurred on the heels of the leaking of the draft Dobbs decision (May 2) . . . and everything else). In her Acknowledgements at the end of the book, Kelly Barnhill says one of the things the book is about is rage. My friend said that it is also about “what you can do when you imagine more and push beyond accepted limits of society.” First comes rage, then imagination, then, hopefully, the doing that leads to change.

It is a wake-up call to rouse us from our sleepy complacency in a Dickens style. Barnhill tells us a story of dragons that is engaging and fascinating and, at the same time, she holds a mirror before us. Her characters wrestle with socially sanctioned silence and self-applied blindfolds. Through her story, we hear the call to not sit down, to not be quiet, to not continue floating with the tides set in motion by others.

For, “[w]hen power belongs, not to the violent, and not to the wealthy and well-connected, but to the people, a different sort of future begins to present itself.” pg. 332

Make sure you read the Acknowledgements once you have finished the book. This is a story born of and for our times.

Nonsense

Humble men, in Churches, by the hour
Of women, their wisdom, praises shower. 
“We men must learn,” they say,
“Like you to read and pray.”
“This is why God gives men all power.”

~by me, July 7, 2022

From what I’m reading:

“You have brought me here, gentlemen, in hopes of conquest–in an attempt to rein in this feminine largeness, to shrink it down and force it to acquiesce to your paternal control . . . This, my friends, is an impossibility. . . .

When Women Were Dragons, by Kelly Barnhill, pg. 280.

Great Preschooler Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
snickerdoodle cookie mix
butter
egg
Jell-O powder

Source: Prince Pinky Girl recipe blog.

I had been wanting to make these Jell-O Cookies with my grandchildren for awhile, but the timing never worked out — until Mother’s Day weekend. So, that’s what we made for Mother’s Day.

It worked out better than I could have imagined. Three-Year-Old-E knows colors, knows how to count to a number above 10, and loves to help cook. The recipe is incredibly simple since it uses a mix as the base. I divided the dough into the four bowls. I tore open the Jell-O packet and let them pour the Jell-O powder into the three separate bowls. For each portion of dough, I gave them the bowl, the corresponding Jell-O powder, and a tablespoon measuring spoon. I told them to count out three scoops of the Jell-O into the bowl with the dough. When I realized the tablespoon scoops were a little low, I just added the instruction “and one more small scoop.” They loved the formality of measuring and adding ingredients on their own. They mixed the batter until tired and then I finished up. One-Year-Old-A loved sitting on my lap and watching everything with an eagle eye, taking mental notes for future use.

Rolling the dough into balls was just like rolling playdough balls. They couldn’t have been happier.

Tips:
* The recipe instructs to use red, blue, yellow, and green Jell-O. In hindsight, that was probably because those are the brightest colors (besides yellow). I substituted orange for green because who likes green Jell-O? But, the orange is not really bright enough when diluted by pale cookie dough (yellow is just intensified cookie dough color). In the future, I might adjust the portion of Jell-O powder and divide the cookie dough in half and just have red and blue cookies. There is plenty of Jello-O powder to do this.
* If cooking with a young child, probably go ahead and melt the butter (as instructed) instead of just allowing to counter soften like I did.
* The instructions advise to watch carefully and take out of the oven as soon as “bottoms are just barely golden and tops firm to touch.” Yes. Err on undercooking if you want a soft chewy cookie. Cooking even a minute or two longer makes a crisp harder cookie.

When they presented their cookies to their Mom, she was, of course, delighted. In her admiration of the many-eyed cookies, she said, “Oh, are these ones monsters?” Three-Year-Old-E immediately honestly and with a somewhat confused affect replied, “no.” Their Mom flawlessly adjusted course and praised their beauty.

I can’t help but think of them as cherubim cookies from the Hebrew Bible description in Ezekiel 10:12! And somehow, they are happy joyful all-seeing cherubim and this is how I will forever visualize these angelic beings from now on.

* * * * *

On an honest note, I am struggling today. It is the day after the elementary school massacre involving two assault-style rifles in Uvalde, Texas. Today, the body count continues to rise. Also, last evening, there was a road range incident in which one car occupant shot the occupant of the other car at the corner around from my Daughter’s house within an hour of Daughter with Grandchildren and Son-in-Law each driving by the spot. We do not live in a particularly problem area.

I am despondent. Getting angry seems to do nothing. Pleading with legislators seems to do nothing. Voting seems to do nothing. Protesting seems to do nothing. I cannot find hope. I don’t want to be an angry bitter sad person fighting the urge to try and sequester my family away to protect them from these horrors and keep them alive. But, I am finding it hard to feel loving towards our society and joyful in life, still today, still after a night’s sleep.

Curried Lentil-Potato Cobbler with Pumpkin and Tomatoes and Filo Top Crust

Long name!

I have looked at this recipe a couple of times and was never sure what to make of it. The ingredient combination just seemed so strange. But, a few weeks ago, during our last true cold spell of the season (I hope), I went ahead and made it.

My first reaction on tasting it was that I could be a little more liberal with the seasoning next time. I am always cautious and cut back strong seasonings and then adjust up as needed on successive makings of a dish until I find my perfect combination. But . . . that said, the day-after leftovers at lunch (and the next few days) were really quite delicious. I think this is one of those recipes that is better the next day. It is also remarkably “comfort” food, not just in the regular sense, but it really settles well and comforts the stomach, even if you are feeling just fine. Finally, it is incredibly filling. Next time I make it, I will need to try cutting the recipe in half.

It calls for filo crust on the top. One of the hallmarks of these days is that weird things are getting hit by “supply chain issues.” Dough in the freezer section seemed to be one of the things. Great barren spots on the shelves. I could not find filo dough but could find puff pastry. Apparently filo is a more delicate crust. Puff pastry worked just fine with this hearty dish, including with reheating in successive days.

The recipe is from the Passionate Vegetarian, by Crescent Dragonwagon, page 255.

Ingredient List
lentils
bay leaf
butter (has to be a typo here in the recipe — change teaspoons to tablespoons)
onion
ginger
garlic
black or brown mustard seeds (not readily available in my grocery stores)
cumin seeds
ground coriander
ground turmeric
cayenne pepper
cinnamon
ground cloves
black pepper
potatoes
tomatoes
pumpkin
maple syrup
vegetable stock
filo dough (or puff pastry)

In other news, Putin. Hindsight is 20/20, but, nonetheless–we knew he was building up along the border with Ukraine. I remember reading it in the news over and over again and his dismissals. We should have hit him hard with sanctions back then and just made it unacceptable to have a “special military exercise” that involved a military buildup along the border–as unacceptable as the subsequent invasion. Once he invaded Ukraine, we suddenly had the dilemma of our own military intervention and worrying about NATO triggers. Hopefully, we will learn our lesson. Hopefully, we have the opportunity to learn our lesson. Unfortunately, Ukraine is paying the cost, now and later. My heart breaks for them.

In the blog post, Towards a Decoupled Peace, today on IntLawGrrls, Cecilia Marcela Bailliet mentions the book The Age of UnPeace by Mark Leonard. Apparently, the Leonard puts forth a theory that our increased global connections have caused increased conflict instead of greater understanding. I need to read the book so that I know what he actually says, but rather than severing ties preemptively as it appears he may be suggesting, wouldn’t it be better to do what all emergency workers know — build in redundancy? This would allow us the benefit of continuing to build connections while reducing the risk of being overly reliant on any one tie. I know this is a simplification (especially without having read Leonard’s book, yet), but–back to the filo dough and also the fact that we have enabled the creation of our own power-hungry monster in Amazon–it started me thinking more about my own connections and sourcing, resilience and dependencies.

Beautiful day out today. I pulled some leaves out of the creek out back and realized that, another day, I actually need to dig up a small tree and mound of dirt to restore good flow to the water. It wasn’t just leaves across the creek. I hate it when people throw things like cinder blocks and metal street sign posts (??) into a creek bed. Why?