Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Fall Garden in Arizona

path to the garden of Casa Malpollos, decorated with fall leaves from the peach trees
Tonight's low will approach 32°, but the rest of the week the lows will be in the 40s, so our cool-weather loving garden plants should be fine. We've had a string of clear, pleasantly cool days, and today was no exception. The cats and I wandered out to the garden around 8:30 this morning, where Cassie browsed on some grass, and I plucked and munched on a few Sungold tomatoes and some mixed mustard greens. If we don't have any hard freezes for a while, we may be able to harvest some Crimson Crunch radishes though I planted the seed a little late (on September 11th) for our altitude and something gnawed them down to the ground not long after they sprouted. They are recovering, and the tiny radishes are fleshing out. That same day, I planted Italian Arugula, Runway Arugula, Wine Country Mesclun and Ruby & Emerald Streaks Mustard. Arugula sprouted in mid-to-late August near my weed compost pile (veggie remains go in a separate compost pile that I will dig into the garden after they have composted). I must have scattered some seed there from my early spring arugula, so next year I should plant these seeds in mid-to-late August for an early fall crop. 

Clicking on the links in the paragraph above will take you to descriptions of those greens and veggies at Renee's Garden. I have been ordering garden and flower seeds from Renee's since the mid-nineties when Renee's was Shepherd's Garden Seeds. White Flower Farm bought Shepherd's Garden Seeds, and for a time, Renee Shepherd worked for the company that bought out her business. For some years now, however, she has returned to selling product through her own company.  The price of the seeds may be a little more than the packets you might get off a Home Depot carousel, but I have never been dissatisfied with my orders, and I love the artwork on the seed packets, too. I re-purpose the packets after planting the seeds.
Re-purposed seed packets from Renee's Garden--just right for tiny gifts or a special note
After Cassie and Persey did their rounds in the garden, sniffing plants and looking for insects to catch (Cassie brought a grasshopper in the house yesterday), I watered the purple cabbage that Tom planted. We haven't had any rain for days; the monsoon season is past.
Persey sniffing in the garden; squash going to seed; more green onions than we can eat
purple cabbage and green onions
Emerald Streaks Mustard, mesclun mix, and arugula
Crimson Crunch radishes, recovering from being gnawed by some nefarious garden muncher
Outside the garden, native flower plants are going to seed. I enjoy pinching the dry seed heads of the cowpen daisy that came up volunteer in our back yard and watching the seed spread in the wind. Birds will eat some, and our chickens, which we often let out of their pen in the evenings, will peck up some of the seed, too, but I'm hoping to get a beautiful, bright crop in the 2017 monsoon season. And those wildflowers I planted are doing really well on the northeast side of the house. 

That's a lovely thing about fall: being in the moment, enjoying the last of the produce, and yet looking forward to making improvements to next year's garden.
climbing nasturtiums on the door to the Secret Garden room
fall leaves in the Secret Garden room
morning glories still blooming though a little wilted because I've not been watering them

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Distraction #3, Gardening and Canning: How I've kept from getting too depressed during the 2016 Presidential Campaign

Cassie at the greenhouse door
I should have noted in the past two posts that these techniques to avoid depression during a more-than-usually contentious presidential campaign are ones that work for me; other people will have their own ways of coping. What I'm promoting here is the need to step away from the 24-hour news cycle, whether one accesses it on the Internet or cable television, to maintain one's equilibrium during these divisive times. I am also referring to depression as a general feeling of powerlessness and sadness in response to the focus on hatefulness in the news. Do we really need another conspiracy theory to rile up a mob of voters? Can we stand another video of so-called patriots screaming "Lock her up," suggesting that it's a good idea to prosecute one's political opponents

Those of us committed to facts, logic, and spirited but thoughtful and respectful debate have been bombarded with headlines throughout this campaign season that suggest our commitment is a delusion. Sometimes I think that if I hear or read one more "opinion" with no supporting evidence, I'll scream. But then I head to the garden to gather produce or just to look at the plants still surviving here in late fall. Fortunately, the presidential campaign will be over by winter and the first snow.

I find solace in a garden. Part of that comes from the heavy work early in the season; nothing quite pulls one's focus away from a spiral of worries than good, physical labor. Then there is the magic of germination; I never fail to be surprised every year as those hard, tiny seeds I planted break apart and push that first bit of green above the soil. Plucking the spring greens or gathering the first tomato is occasion for celebration. Who can be sad in a garden?

Our first full summer of gardening in Arizona brought us more bounty than we expected. Since Tom re-purposed an old chicken house into a greenhouse in which we planted tomatoes and peppers, our tomatoes there were turning ripe long before those in the larger, open garden. And we still have tomatoes blooming and producing here in mid-October, Sungolds in the outside garden, Celebrities, Sungolds, and even Black Krim in the greenhouse.

I have described in earlier posts some of our Arizona gardening experiences--here, here, here, and here--so there is no need to reprise those. We ate well from our garden this year, and then we began canning our produce for later consumption, learning as we went. 
preparing to make and can apple chutney
Tom started first on the tomatoes; he canned a total of about 53 pints. Then we began canning the apples from our apple trees; we had so many that we shared boxes of apples with neighbors. I first tried an apple chutney recipe. Tom began with apple sauce and then apple jam, discovering after the first batch of jam that we should pulse the apple pieces in a food processor for a prettier jam. With apple slices, apple jam, apple chutney, apple sauce, Red Hot apple jelly, and apple-serrano-pepper jelly, we have enough canned apple products to share over and over again.
canned apple slices
apple jam
draining apple juice for jelly
apple-serrano pepper jelly
When the first snows manage to get above the mountains and  settle into the dryer Round Valley, we will still be eating tomatoes from our garden, in soups and salsas; spreading jam and jelly from our apples on our morning toast; making apple pie from apple slices we canned; topping our ice cream with apple sauce and adding the sauce to recipes for muffins and pancakes. When the 44th President of the United States moves out of the White House and the 45th is sworn in, we will be enjoying the sweetness of our summer garden--and forgetting, I hope, the bitterness of that same summer's presidential campaign.
our summer canning
October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or shutting a book, did not end the tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: 'It is simply a matter,' he explained to April, 'of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.'
--Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol, 4: Season of Mists

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Distraction #2, Food and Wine: How to Keep from being Depressed by Today's News

Early summer garden salad, with mesclun mix greens and radishes from our garden
When Tom and I were first married, I did a lot of cooking. We were undergraduates at Texas A&M University, and my dishes then were family comfort food favorites (potato soup; Cowboy Stew), recipes from my grandmothers (Grandma Dugat's Sweet Potato Casserole), recipes exchanged with friends (Fruit Pizza) and recipes I would pick up in a local grocery store (Shrimp Victoria, from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service). This latter dish I made many, many times as I went from being an undergraduate to a graduate student to an instructor at Louisiana State University and beyond. You could gain weight just looking at the (now food-spattered but still clearly legible) recipe: 1 pound raw Texas shrimp, peeled and deveined; 1 cup sour cream; 1/2 cup finely chopped onion; 1/4 cup margarine or butter; 1 can (6 ounces) mushrooms; 1 tablespoon flour; 1/4 teaspoon of salt; dash cayenne pepper; 1 1/2 cups cooked rice. Sauteed, gently cooked, and served over rice, that shrimp dish was for years the fanciest dish I prepared for company (along with Shrimp Couscous).

As the years passed, however, Tom took over a great deal of the cooking. He introduced hand-gathered (by himself and a friend who was Anishinaabe) wild rice for the dishes I learned to cook in Minnesota (wild rice soup; wild rice casserole). He created many variations on veggie stir-fries and Indian curries; lentil and sweet potato soup; tofu, fried with his special spice blend, sauteed with veggies; homemade sushi. I stuck with my old favorites, such as my family recipe of potato soup, modifying it over time: adding sausage and garlic to the simple potato-onion-salt and pepper-liquid (milk and water) recipe; taking out the sausage as two members of the family became vegetarians and adding cheese; carmelizing the onions before adding to the soup; adding homemade vegetable stock to the milk base. 

But this summer I began cooking dinner every evening, looking for ways to prepare fresh vegetables from our Arizona garden. Spending time looking for likely recipes online, bookmarking the best ones, thinking of how to modify them to our tastes or to the ingredients on hand were wonderful distractions from focusing on Internet news that was guaranteed to bring up my blood pressure.

And so, when the veggies started coming in, I found recipes to fit our palate, such as Mexican Pepper Casserole from The Moosewood Cookbook. To the original recipe, I added garlic and one thinly sliced yellow squash.
Mexican Pepper Casserole, recipe from the 2014 version of The Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen
While in Phoenix one weekend, we went by Whole Foods, and I bought some fancy packages of jello powder. Some fresh strawberries (with real whipped cream, not Cool Whip) made a nice touch for dessert with the casserole above:
Strawberry jello with little strawberry hearts
I also baked a tomato pie for the first time, with fresh tomatoes from our garden and a homemade butter pie crust.
Fresh vegetables from our summer garden
My first tomato pie. The butter pie crust shrank a bit and burned at the edges, but...
When Tom and I cooked together, I would often make a salad, and he would stir-fry vegetables from the garden; I might put on some squash to steam, sprinkled with dried tarragon. But as the summer progressed and the 2016 Presidential campaign became more heated, you can see how my cooking became a bit more calorie-laden.
I battered our garden-fresh squash in egg, flour and spices--and fried it.
And I set about improving dishes I had tried before and others I hadn't made in a long time. (I used to make apple pie from scratch fairly frequently.)
My second attempt at tomato pie; I achieved a more uniform, less blackened crust. I added a nutty bread crumb and Parmesan cheese topping.
I managed to make one of the prettiest apple pies I had made in a long time, with a double butter crust and apples from our small orchard.
I loaded up fresh vegetable casseroles with various cheeses.
Squash Casserole
A friend suggested that I try to make tomato tarts since we had so many tomatoes from our garden. I experimented first with a few tomatoes and with butter pie crust left over from the apple pie I had made a couple of days previously.
My first experimental tomato tart
I tried a full-sized one next:
My first "real" tomato tart
Last night I made another tomato tart, using a butter pie crust recipe because I didn't have the ingredients for the crust of a fancier recipe I found online.
Rolling out the dough for the pie crust--I added fresh rosemary to the dough.
The final result: perhaps the last tomato tart of the season
Why I now need to get back on the elliptical every day
It took me almost three hours to make that last tomato tart, from gathering the green onions and parsley from the garden to making and rolling out the dough to cutting up the tomatoes and placing them on top of the Grey Poupon, sauteed onion and Serrano peppers, cheese, and fresh herb layers. Cooking from scratch takes a lot of time, time that otherwise might be spent brooding over the news, the days events, all one's past failings....whatever. 

I do, however, caution about the wine: too much, and you're likely to leave that message on a Facebook page that you have long avoided doing. Please be a bit sparing with the liquor in drowning your political angst. Screaming into your pillow may not wake your neighbors, but it's likely to upset your partner, as sympathetic as he may be. 

Another undesired result can be weight gain. Tom and I are going to be eating a lot less cheese-laden casseroles and vegetable pies with butter crusts. I'm looking for simple recipes for canned tomatoes, since Tom canned 53 pints of our summer produce. I just found a cool Gazpacho recipe in The Moosewood Cookbook, just right for winding down after the presidential election, all emotion spent.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Distraction #1, the beautiful natural world: How to Keep from being Depressed by Today's News

Fall color in the White Mountains
This morning I got on the Internet as I do every morning to read the latest news. As too often, the news is troubling. I've learned that as his campaign collapses, Donald Trump reveals himself to be a poor loser: he's commanding his followers to watch their local polls for "certain" people who may commit voter fraud. This, despite that in-person voter fraud is practically non-existent. Our voting process seems more likely to be hacked by Russians, who seem to want Donald Trump to win the election.  I also read that the Trump campaign got a cousin of one of the women who has accused Trump of sexual assault to release a statement accusing the woman of lying "just for attention." This is what happens when women speak openly of sexual assault: they are immediately attacked, not infrequently by friends and relatives who refuse to believe the personal experience for any number of reasons. (#WhyWomenDontReport) And it seems that Donald Trump is looking to set up a television network that will likely be an outlet for his many conspiracy theories as well as for the alt-right crowd, led by Steve Bannon and

And that's a short list of the news that threatened to throw shade on my day.

What do I do when crappy news or unhappy circumstances beckon the black dog? Well, here I begin a series of posts on what brings me joy when circumstances don't.
  • Looking at the big picture, which is a lot bigger than we once thought
Here in Apache County, Arizona, the Milky Way is still visible, and to do my part in reducing light pollution, I try to keep our outdoor lights off unless we're planning to return home after dark. In July, we set up a telescope and got a good look at the rings of Saturn. But then I turned my binoculars to the Milky Way and was blown away by the millions of stars that are totally invisible in most parts of the country. It turns out that there are even more galaxies in the "observable" universe than we thought: "Hubble Reveals Observable Universe Contains 10 Times More Galaxies Than Previously Thought." Nothing makes one's worries seem more inconsequential than to put them in perspective of a galaxy or a universe. I like to think that there are other worlds out there where sentient inhabitants are doing a better job at being stewards of their worlds and each other than we are.

If the night sky is overcast, the moon too bright, or the lights of the area too bright, one can always go to the NASA website to look at images taken by the Hubble telescope:
  • Paying attention to my own backyard
Immersing oneself in the details can also help distract one from all the worries in the world.  While living in Abita Springs, Louisiana, I began paying attention to all the tiny creatures that lived in or visited my yard and gardens. There are worlds almost unknown to us a step or two from our back doors, with dramas enacted every day. I have watched tiny predators stalk their prey, and I have identified insects I did not know existed until I started prowling around my yard with a camera. Our yard here in Arizona has plenty to interest me, too. Birds come to the feeders and the birdbath I created out of a stump and a large, shallow bowl I purchased at a thrift store. Occasionally, a skunk will wander nocturnally through the yard, and deer will jump the fence, leaving hoof prints in the muddy ground or bare bark on trees they have rubbed against. Rabbits burrow nests in our greenhouse and under roots of trees. Pollinators visit the flowers, and I am learning to identify bees and wildflowers here in my Arizona yard. 
  • Enjoying the changing seasons 
Yesterday Tom and I drove through the mountains while running errands and took a short detour on a national forest road just to look at the aspens in their fall color. A deer crossed the washboard road ahead of us and into a glen covered in golden aspen leaves. We stopped a little later to take photos of a landscape which will be covered in snow in a couple of months. 
Last weekend we hiked a forest trail where we thought we would have a good chance of hearing elk bugling. We were not disappointed. 
Elk cows follow the large-racked male that we got just a glimpse of through the trees.
Since we moved here in March of 2015, we've taken advantage of the beautiful natural areas, hiking on forest trails, along rivers, or up to the top of cinder cones.  Beautiful wildflowers bloom here in the monsoon season, as a hike along the South Fork of the Little Colorado River last summer demonstrated.
Wild bergamot and goldenrod along the South Fork Trail of the Little Colorado River
Coneflowers along the South Fork Trail of the Little Colorado River
more flowers along the South Fork Trail of the Little Colorado River
Nothing lifts the spirits, I think, than being out in nature on a beautiful day--and research seems to prove it. In one study at Stanford University, "volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic." Other studies have shown that walking in green areas can have a measured neurological and physiological effect on people

And those days when the weather is not conducive to a walk in the woods, writing about those walks and looking at the beautiful photos I've taken on those walks are pretty good substitutes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trigger Warning: Donald Trump

1961, me and my grandfather
One has only to follow some of the recent hashtags on Twitter to learn why people don't report sexual assault. And it's not just that women are using these hashtags to describe why sexual assault isn't reported: it's that the trolls can't keep away. Yesterday Elizabeth Plank, a correspondent for Vox, asked that women share their experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport. In among the many short tweets about women's experiences are those of people defending Donald Trump or attacking Hillary Clinton. The writer didn't ask for political responses, yet there they are: the trolls who will always try to control the narrative of sexual assault, to use it for political gain or to attack the vulnerable women describing their experiences.

For example, one woman shared a video of a former Miss Universe who worked with Trump's pageants for five years. The former Miss Universe goes on and on about how Donald Trump was "a perfect gentleman," about how if he had acted inappropriately to any of those young girls in the pageants, the girls would have come immediately to her before they even would have gone to their parents. It's difficult to tell if the woman who tweeted this video meant to defend Donald Trump (when the hashtag was about why women don't report, not about a particular perpetrator) or whether she meant the video to illustrate why women don't report.

Because that video very clearly illustrates why women don't report. As I watched it, I felt my heart rate increase. In an earlier post, I described my own experience with inappropriate sexual groping and kissing. That happened 43 years ago when I was 15.  The stories of sexual assault, as well as Donald Trump's bullying replies, are bringing back all those memories, and this video illustrates perfectly why. 

When a girl or a woman is a victim of sexual assault, one of the first things she worries about is whether or not someone will believe her. She has experienced something shocking, something she almost refuses to believe herself. Often, the perpetrator is someone she trusted or someone with authority. Because of this, she is far less likely to report her assault. Why would this trusted person or this person with great authority whom other people so admire target her? Did she do something wrong to justify the assault? And that's what the perpetrator depends upon--his own public reputation and the victim's lesser power. He knows there are people who will support him, who will describe him as "a perfect gentleman" or a wonderful person or a man who would never do anything like that.

In the video, the former Miss Universe is adamant that the man with whom she worked would never do anything like these other women are describing. She calls the women liars. Yes, that's just what such men count upon--the corroboration of women they haven't assaulted. Because assault happens in private! And the victims fear just such response--their lives shattered again, only this time in public.

I remember when my paternal grandfather died almost a decade after he had sexually groped me. Other family members described their last moments with him, how funny our grandfather was, how he responded to a poem that one son had written for him. And I knew then that I was an outsider, that I would always be an outsider in this large family tribe, because my experiences were different, were secrets known only to a few within the family, to those who stopped the inappropriate sexual assaults and to those others who were also victims. But my grandfather would always be an insider about whom stories continued to be told with affection and humor at family gatherings.

I suspect that's the experience of many women who are victims of sexual assault. Their experiences make them outsiders, unlike the women and men who are still on the inside, admiring and trusting the powerful and authoritative perpetrator. So often the victims, then, go on pretending that they are on the inside; they take their clues from the people who still view the perpetrator in a positive light or from those who may know about the sexual assault but who ask of the victim, either tacitly or openly, to keep the details secret for various reasons. The more vulnerable the victim, the more likely the assault will go unreported or be kept secret with a few in the know.

Trigger warnings have been in the news the last few years, with college professors being asked to include such warnings in their syllabuses, to forewarn students about certain content that might be emotionally disturbing. The uses and abuses of such warnings have been loudly and publicly debated. But it wasn't until this presidential campaign, until the second presidential debate when Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton with her husband's infidelities, that I really understood a trauma trigger. Because I've been experiencing one ever since, and I have been shocked by the emotional roller coaster I've found myself on.

"How can I be almost 59 years old and still be affected by this shit?" I asked my husband last night while in the middle of a brief emotional breakdown. 

But I do know why, and I wonder how those women are being affected who have had far worse experiences than I have had. That so many women have responded to the Why Women Don't Report hashtag and other similar requests indicates how widespread sexual assault is and how long, how bitterly and painfully, the memories linger. 

I recognized the abusive qualities of Donald Trump right away, but at first, not only did I not expect him to get the Republican nomination, I hadn't been up to speed on just how much of an abusive personality he is. He was a reality television star. Who took him seriously? It seems that many of the producers of The Apprentice didn't. (I had never watched the show.)  A.J. Catoline, with CineMontage, of the Motion Pictures Editors Guild, recently interviewed some of the producers of the first seasons of The Apprentice. Those producers describe just how much work went into presenting Donald Trump as a polished, successful businessman:
In creating the show's first few episodes in the first season, the editors had little idea they were working on what would become an iconic show, a hit that would help define a style for a generation of reality TV to come, and one that would create a persona for the show's star--with his catchphrase, "You're fired!"--who would use the show's success to launch a campaign for president of the United States.
In fact, "[i]n Season One the editors thought the show could be a comedy": 
"We approached the edit with humor; we tried to play Donald over-the-top," [Jonathon] Braun [supervising editor on the first six seasons of the show and co-producer of another] recalled. "You would see the inside of his apartment at Trump Tower--it was so ostentatious--dripping in gold, the height of egotism. And he was so proud of it! We never took the guy too seriously. We thought the audience would find it funny and entertaining--and I think people did, but I think also people started to believe in the image they were seeing.
 [Stephen] Frederick [who edited on the first three seasons] agreed: "If we played Trump for a fool, which would have been extremely easy, the show would not have had the weight that it had, as a show about business, about contestants who wanted to get a job and succeed," he added. "They thought of Donald as a successful person. The point of the show was to make him look legitimate and important."
Braun agreed that Trump benefited from the power of editing. "It was all about his brand, whatever it took to build up his brand and make him look like a legitimate success," the editor explained. "The lesson I took away from it is that you've got to be careful when you think you are being tongue-in-cheek or showing something as ridiculous, because people might take it seriously. Obviously, there is a huge group of Americans that think, 'Look how successful Trump was on The Apprentice.' They haven't yet--and probably never will--realize this guy is a con man, and they are playing the mark." 
Men who are serial abusers depend upon their public image to protect them. Donald Trump has a history of misogyny, but his role on The Apprentice helped polish his image. That image now stands between the public and Trump's sordid behavior. Some people will never be able to see beyond the over-sized role of the reality TV star that casts shade on anyone who would describe it differently. Yet the clues to an abusive personality are there--on public record--for anyone to see and hear. Trump himself has been recorded as bragging about being able to kiss or grab the "pussy" of any woman he chooses and get away with it because of his star power. He is recorded on the Howard Stern Show describing his walking into the dressing area of the beauty pageants he owned to ogle the young girls and women there. The words of the man himself support the assertions of the women coming forward now to describe their experiences of sexual assault.

Even Trump's public statements about his affairs and marriages foreshadow the bullying behavior the man has exhibited in the past few weeks. Trump bragged about how little he paid his first wife Ivana for successfully managing some of the Trump enterprises: one dollar a year and all the dresses she could buy. His tabloid life was the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles over the years. And as soon as he got a Twitter account, Trump openly and colorfully tweeted ugly comments about women who dared criticize him. And he continues these feuds for years.

This--and more--is all public record. But once details of this history (along with the history of his failed business enterprises) started being reported during the campaign, Trump did what other serial abusers do, he deflected the criticism to others: "Bill Clinton has done worse than I have done," he claims. Yes, Bill Clinton was an adulterer, and he has been accused of sexual assault, but the accusations are confusing. Two women who now accuse him had in the past told investigators that nothing happened. I sympathize with them, but the public witch-hunting directed toward the Clintons by their political opponents, particularly after the divisive and sleazy Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House, overshadows legitimate accusations. Nonetheless, Bill Clinton has personally and publicly paid. And Donald Trump is not running against Bill Clinton for president.

So Trump does another thing that serial abusers do: project his actions onto another, in this case, Hillary Clinton. And it was at this point in the second presidential debate that I first experienced a trauma trigger.

"Hillary Clinton attacked those same women [who claimed that Bill Clinton had abused them], and attacked them viciously," he said. Yet the record clearly shows that while Hillary did what she could to protect her husband and her marriage, she was "largely silent" about the accusations of abuse.

Hillary Clinton is not the abuser.

I am reminded of visiting my grandparents one day with another granddaughter. My family lived across a country road from my grandparents, and I went back and forth often to help my grandmother.  Our grandfather said to our grandmother, seemingly with no provocation, "Margaret, you are ugly." And then he turned to us two girls, "Isn't she ugly?"

Both of us teenage girls leaped to our grandmother's defense: "No, she isn't ugly. Grandma is beautiful!" [You are the ugly one, I thought to myself.]

Even then we recognized projection when confronted with it. And when I see Donald Trump, I recognize a bully and an abuser hiding behind his Apprentice image and a large number of the American people who will never see anything but the well-polished, presidential-looking image of the man in the boardroom chair, well-staged, well-lit, perfectly coiffed.

Update--Just read this late tonight:
"Female friends and acquaintances, including several Slate colleagues, have told me that Trump has resurfaced deeply buried or forgotten memories of sexual assault, some stretching back to childhood. If Trump's current media omnipresence has dredged up some of the most painful, distressing moments in our lives, it's partly because everything Trump says and does aligns with the motives, behaviors, and defenses we remember of the men who violated us. In the past week, our suspicions that Trump was a serial sexual abuser have crystallized into near certainty."

Christina Cauterucci. "Why Women See Themselves in Donald Trump's Accusers." 13 October 2016. Slate.

Update-Update: 18 October 2016
"Triggered is an overused buzzword that's used too often as a synonym for offended, but in this case, there is no other term for it. Trump is triggering. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was recently moved to speak out about her own history of sexual abuse, saying that Trump's words "triggered things that I hadn't felt in a long time." NPR host Dianne Rehm told the Huffington Post that Trump has triggered her memories of being molested by a congressman when she was 9. It's as if Trump has shaken a psychic snow globe, and now flickers of half-remembered horror are floating through the atmosphere all around us." 

Michelle Goldberg. "The Triggered Electorate." 18 October 2016. Slate.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Michelle Obama Lays Down the Truth

In Manchester, New Hampshire, today for a campaign event, Michelle Obama addressed the recording (and radio talk show tapes) in which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has bragged about getting away with sexually assaulting women and viewing naked teenagers and young women in his Miss Teen and Miss USA pageants because he is a star, because he is rich and famous. At the beginning of the speech, she describes how she began this week at the White House celebrating the International Day of the Girl, in the last event that she will be doing as First Lady for Let Girls Learn. And she tells the girls attending that event that: "The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls." 

She continues:
And I told them that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them and that they should make their voices heard in the world. And I walked away feeling so inspired, just like I am inspired by all the young people here. And I was so uplifted by these girls.
That was Tuesday. And now here I am, out on the campaign trail in an election where we have consistently been hearing hurtful, hateful language about women, language that has been painful for so many of us, not just as women but as parents trying to protect our children and raise them to be caring, respectful adults, and as citizens who think our leaders should meet basic standards of human decency.
The fact is that in this election we have a candidate for president of the United States who over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning that I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. 
I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.
And I have to tell you that I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted. So while I'd love nothing more than to pretend like this isn't happening, and to come out here and do my normal campaign speech--it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream. 
This is not something that we can ignore; it's not something that we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a lewd conversation; this wasn't just locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior--and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV. 
And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life, and I have to tell you that I listen to all of this, and I feel it personally. And I'm sure that many of you do, too, particularly women--the shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect, the belief that you can do anything you want to a woman 
It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them. And they've said, "no," but he didn't listen. Something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. 
It reminds us of stories that we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how back in their day the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office. And even though they worked so hard and jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough. We thought all of that was ancient history, didn't we?
And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect--but here we are: 2016, and we're hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it.
And all of us are doing what women have always done. We're trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend that this doesn't really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. Maybe we're afraid to be vulnerable. Maybe we've grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet because we've seen that people often won't take our word over his. Or maybe we don't want to believe that there is still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day's headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted. As if this is normal. Just politics as usual.
But, New Hampshire, [let's] be clear. This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful and it is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to--Democrat, Republican, Independent. No woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserve this kind of abuse.
And I know it's a campaign. But this isn't about politics. It's about basic human decency. It's about right and wrong.And we simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer, not for another minute, let alone for four years. 
Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say, "Enough is enough! This has got to stop right now." Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What messages are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings? About their dreams and aspirations? 
And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this, and I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. The men that you and I know don't treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don't tolerate women being treated, demeaned, and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man. [ending here at 10:25 in a 24:13 speech]

Give the whole speech a listen, and be happy that this woman was our First Lady for eight years. What a class act.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This is Donald Trump

"The most vulgar man that I have ever met": Vindela Kirsebam, a Swedish model who sat beside Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in 1993 (She asked that her seat be moved away from Trump.)
 From: Graydon Carter. "Donald Trump: The Ugly American." Vanity Fair. November 2016.
A rich man who gets away with being a peeping tom: As owner of the Miss USA pageant, Donald Trump bragged on the "Howard Stern Show," in 2005: "I'll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else. And, you know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant. And therefore I'm inspecting it....You know, they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that." 
From: Fred Barbash. "Former Miss Arizona: Trump 'just came strolling right in' on naked contestants." The Washington Post. 12 October 2016.
A classic example of an abuser: "Through his actions and statements over the years, Donald Trump has shown an abusive temperament."
From: Emily Crockett. "Donald Trump's candidacy is a lesson to America on how to spot the signs of abuse." Vox. 11 October 2016. 

A bully and a threat to independent journalism"Trump [said] that, should he win the election, news organizations that have criticized him will 'have problems.'"
From: Jeff Horwitz. "Trump threatens to weaken First Amendment protections for reporters." PBS NewsHour. 27 February 2016. 

"It's unlikely...that any of Trump's future attacks will be as scary as what happened in Mount Pleasant, where the crowd, feeding off Trump, seemed to turn on me like a large animal, angry and unchained....The wave of insults, harassment, and threats, via various social media feeds, hasn't stopped since. Many of the attacks are unprintable." --journalist Katy Tur
From: Katy Tur. "My Crazy Year with Trump." Marie Claire. October 10, 2016. 

"Because I have written critically about Trump, I have received innumerable death threats, sometimes just general invocations that I should die, sometimes more specific threats that I should be shot or 'lynched,' as one Trump fan wrote." --Kurt Eichenwald
From: Kurt Eichenwald. "How Donald Trump Supporters Attack Journalists." Newsweek. 7 October 2016. 
"I had intended to quantify how many journalists or news commentators Trump has threatened to sue over his lifetime, but that quickly turned into a fool's errand. A simple Google search of 'Trump threatens to sue' will return an overwhelming number of stories." --Trevor Timm
From: Trevor Timm. "Trump's many, many threats to sue the press since launching his campaign." Columbia Journalism Review. 3 October 2016.
A man with a history (not just an occasion) of racism, misogyny and corruption: "Trump has had different levels of power and authority over the years, from running an enormous international business to campaigning for president. And time and time again, he has shown what he is really like: He will do whatever he can to enrich himself, even if it means pushing or breaking the boundaries of the law. He will apparently hire and fire employees based on his racial biases and gross conceptions of women. 

And he'll never apologize for it [my emphasis]--instead, doubling down on even the most absurd controversies--from his insistence that the Central Park Five are guilty despite the DNA evidence to his vicious comments about Rosie O'Donnell to his justifications for not paying people he hired for work.

This is who Trump is. That's what the history tells us. So if Trump becomes president and behaves in the same way, none of us can say we weren't warned." 
From: German Lopez, Libby Nelson, and Andrew Prokop. "Once you know Donald Trump's history, what his campaign has done is unsurprising. That makes him scarier." Vox. 11 October 2016. 
This last article has numerous links to other investigative pieces about Donald Trump's history of racism, misogyny, and corruption. It's a round-up of Donald Trump's sleazy life.

On a final note (updated), Donald Trump is totally without shame: I've been thinking of Donald Trump's attacks on Hillary Clinton, on his using Bill's infidelities and sexually predatory actions to humiliate Hillary. 

Bill Clinton's actions are not admirable; they are rather despicable. The infidelities, however, are between Hillary and Bill; they should be little more than titillating tabloid news for the public. Those infidelities became public when the women who had had affairs with Clinton were encouraged by the political opposition to come forward. Clinton attempted to keep those affairs secret from his wife and the public, indicating that he felt shame in what he was doing.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has publicly bragged about his affairs. He even had his mistress in the same town when he was on vacation with his first wife; that caused a public brouhaha at the time.

The accusations of sexually predatory behavior are indeed troubling and worth our attention. People should be held accountable for such unlawful behavior. However, Bill Clinton HAS been held responsible. He has paid for his sins--very publicly. More than that, he has apologized--privately to some of the individuals he has allegedly harmed and publicly to the American people. 

This is one big difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Donald Trump never apologizes. The man is without shame. That's an important difference.

October 13th: Since the tape has come out of Donald Trump's bragging that he can sexually assault women because he's famous, women who have had just such encounters with him are telling their stories. 

One writer recounts being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump when she was interviewing him and his third wife Melania, who was pregnant at the time. Melania left the room, and Trump offered to give the writer a tour of the Trumps' Florida estate.  He got her in a room, closed the door, and pushed her up against the wall. The writer, Natasha Stoynoff describes the details--and her reactions. (link below)

Natasha Stoynoff. "Physically Attacked by Donald Trump: A People Writer's Own Harrowing Story." People. 12 October 2016.

October 14: Another difference between Donald Trump and Bill Clinton is that Donald Trump is a profoundly ignorant man; Bill Clinton is not. As Tom and I were watching the second presidential debate, we kept looking at one another in shock at DT's rambling, ignorant, ill-informed responses to the questions. Anyone who has kept up with national or international affairs would recognize that ignorance right away. It was clear that DT had been advised by his campaign managers to bring every question back to Bill Clinton's affairs because DT really has no clue about governing. Bill Clinton is well-known for his knowledge of important issues, of his being able to take complicated ideas and transform them into easily understood explanations. Of course, Bill isn't running for office. Hillary is--and she is far more prepared, laughably far more prepared, to govern than the reality show star, Donald Trump.