Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Books about Ruth Bader Ginsberg are in demand!

I’m sure Justice Ginsberg’s family is honored to have their beloved mother and grandmother enjoying the distinction of being the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the US Capitol. It doesn’t remove death’s sting, but hopefully it lessens it.

In my lifetime, my everyday life has been enhanced by the cases Ruth Bader Ginsberg fought and won in Court. Thanks to RBG, as a single woman in the United States, I can get a checking account or credit card, buy a house, and much more. People like to credit popular movements like the sexual revolution in the 1970s for these changes, but so many movements can be just a fad if they are not backed up with changes in laws based on a firm legal foundation. Look how many times we’ve “discovered” sexual harassment.

If you’d like to be reminded of her contribution to our betterment, there are two films that are enjoyable and educational: On the Basis of Sex and RBG. I saw them both in the movie theater (remember that experience?) and just watching the trailers made me tear up. You can rent or buy these films. As a girl who grew up being called “smartypants” a lot, I can’t help but cheer for this petite woman who valued her intellect and never let other diminish her (for long).

Her Supreme Court dissents earned her more acclaim than some of the cases she won as an ACLU litigator. She earned the moniker of Notorious RBG (named after a famous fellow-Brooklynite rapper). There are also memes like “No truth without Ruth” that went viral after she read her dissenting opinions from the bench. Perhaps the most famous is her retort to the shameful dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, “what was once the subject of a dream, the equal citizenship stature of all in our polity, a voice to every voter in our democracy undiluted by race…”

The beautiful thing about a life such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the torch is not passed to just her two children, or her 100+ judicial clerks, but to all of us who share her values. We are legion. And we will not give up on equality for all.

Honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

As a sign of respect flags were ordered at half-mast on all federal building flagpoles. Photo: Gary Taverman

Like many people, I thought of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a superhero–amazing and indestructible. This Friday we were reminded that she was a mortal human being. She is a hero who did her best until the end of her assigned days. Now we must do what we can to honor her.

I am on the West Coast and COVID prevents me–and lots of other mourning her loss–from hopping on a plane to pay my respects in person. My friend Gary who lives in Washington, DC was able to go. Here is a brief interview:

Photo: Gary Taverman

Why did you decide to go to the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC to pay your respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg?  I went for all the obvious reasons – great woman, great life story, I agreed with her on all her court rulings, poignant timing of her death in light of Rosh Hashanah, and personal connection as a fellow Jewish Brooklynite.

How did you feel in the midst of the crowd? What was the mood of the crowd?  The experience was very moving.  Needless-to-say, the crowd was subdued.  It was a beautiful DC day – sunny and in the 70’s – which made the wait quite pleasant.  

What is one special memory of Ruth Bader Ginsberg that endears her to you?  She was one, tough broad which, as a New Yorker, is high praise.  

The line up to the steps, waiting for viewing. Photo: Gary Taverman

What was your experience around the Supreme Court steps?  Excellent social distancing, everyone was wearing a mask.   The wait was about 1:40 minutes from getting on the line to arriving at the base of the Court steps.  I’d guess there was about 1,000 people on line when I arrived and the crowd was equally large when I left.  Based on my observation, 75-80 percent of those there were young girls and women.

For people who might be coming from outside DC, any travel tips?  Metro is running.  I believe the closest stop is Capitol South, but Union Station is not the much further.  Parking?  It’s DC!!  Street parking is challenging.  Some roads near the Court were blocked off.

Thank you for sharing your experience Gary.

Get Into Good Trouble

Good Trouble

We may honor the life of Congressman John Lewis in a multitude of ways. First and foremost, we shall register to vote and then vote (early, by mail, or in person). There are many other ways as well. I learned about John Lewis when I was in Selma and Birmingham on my Civil Rights Crawl. I have since leaned in to learn more. Now there is new material that is worth taking the time to enjoy–and seldom has a man been more full of joy than John Lewis.

Do you have 15 minutes? Read his call to action that was written towards the end of his life and published posthumously in the New York Times.

Do you have 2.5 hours? Buy a $12 ticket at Crooked.com (Crooked Media/Pod Save America) for a special viewing of the movie John Lewis: Good Trouble with a on-line discussion panel afterward on Thursday August 7, 2020 at 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST.  The ticket unlocks the film to view for 72 hours. Five dollars from each ticket will go to PowerPac to support their work.

Do you have 4 hours? Admit it, in this time of COVID you probably do. Then I strongly encourage you to watch John Lewis’ funeral at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve linked to the PBS full coverage on YouTube.com that is without commentary. I found the funeral service uplifting. It was as if I came out of Wonderland and things were right side up again. A good man was called out for being good. A hero was honored for true unselfish heroism. Of course you can get a Readers Digest condensed version by watching just President Obama’s eulogy.

Then go for a walk and ask yourself “What can I do for my democracy?”

Rock Garden a Small Surprise

IMG_2818
My Cousin Kathy made my mask! At the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park (Sacramento).

Finding COVID-safe adventures for my grandson has been a challenge. For the first 8 weeks of lockdown we only talked by video/phone. Then we carefully expanded our bubbles to include our two families. This allowed me to resume our adventures in consultation with his parents. We have explored more of the trails at Effie Yeaw Nature Area and walked round and round the duck pond at Land Park. There is always my own neighborhood and “work” in my garden.

IMG_2817We were on our way to the lily pad duck pond across the road from the Sacramento Zoo entrance. As we drove by, Cal saw the open sign and people walking in and I was anxious to distract him. The zoo is welcoming visitors with a reservation, yet we don’t feel an active boy of 3 and three-quarters will be able to keep from touching surfaces and staying a safe distance from other kids his age, so we are waiting. I quickly turned to park and lo and behold we were right next to the WPA Rock Park. What a delightful discovery!

IMG_2820It’s been here since 1940 and yet I never noticed it before,  so we explored it together. Although I was definitely the support player in the imaginative play inspired by the landscape. Once we explored all of the trails and dodged some of the “muddles” created by the sprinklers, he began imagining he was a mama wolverine and he began looking for the perfect place for his wolverine family den. I was grandma wolverine. We spent over an hour exploring the garden and rock hardscapes. We didn’t make it to the duck pond today (although the huge lily pads are something!) and boy did we have fun.

 

Ode to Home

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2ca2

In this time of Corona, spending this much time at home is a revelation. I love my home and garden and neighbors and neighborhood. I feel so blessed to have landed here. It is possible that all of my travels informed my choices subconsciously. I am so happy to be at home. I just read this in The Little Bookshop at Big Stone Gap, and it resonated.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

Where the race of men go by–

The men who are good and the men who are bad,

As good and as bad as I.

I would not sit in the scorner’s seat

Nor hurl the cynic’s ban–

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

and be a friend to man.

-Sam Foss “The House by the Side of the Road,” from Dreams in Homespun.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2e45

From my front porch I watch the world go by and interact with my neighbors from a safe physical distance. We can care for one another, check in daily, and I know that I am also seen. The energy that I use to interact with strangers when I travel, I am now spending to get to know my neighbors at a deeper level. It feels good and we enjoy a stronger community as we all expand our circle of caring.

Lights! Camera! World Penguin Day

Wellington the Rockhopper penguin made me a fan of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve not visited yet and they are officially closed until April 30, 2020. Let’s face it. None of us know when they might be able to reopen and when we might be able to travel to Chicago to visit. Nevertheless, I’ve started following them on Instagram @shedd_aquarium. And my favorite posts feature their penguins going on outings into the aquarium interiors and outside on the steps. When I do finally make it to Shedd I am going to buy a ticket to enjoy the Penguin Experience.

There are other penguin cams available around the world. Celebrate World Penguin Day by checking out one or more of these. Then do something to reduce your use of plastic. Eat only fish approved by Seafood Watch.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Penguin Cam

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach CA Penguin Cam

San Diego Zoo Penguin Cam

Vancouver Aquarium Penguin Cam

Tennessee Aquarium Penguin Rock Cam (seems a little crowded!)

 

2020 a Year Like No Other

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_125c
This photo with Jens Voigt was taken in May 2017 at the Tour of California. The US’ premier bike race has now been suspended indefinitely. This week long event was struggling financially and Corona was the last straw. Sacramento will be poorer for not seeing a race segment. 

Sometimes this Corona season seems like a weird tear in the time space continuum. Then something happens that makes it feel so much more real. Like when the NBA cancelled the season. So when I read this morning’s sports headline, “Tour de France cancelled” I again felt “this shit is real.” Because when the greedy managers of the Tour de France who faithfully put profit before cyclist safety decide to cancel for 2020, the pandemic must be super serious.

And of course it is super serious. Not that we have to lose our sense of humor. There are plenty of people making YouTube videos that provide the lighter side. Britain is ahead on this front. They may not be exemplary on their COVID response but who would not smile at The Sound of a Pandemic?  They need some cheer: the Royal Horticulture Society’s Chelsea Flower Show normally scheduled for mid-May has officially been cancelled (but may be going virtual–watch this space.)

For all of us who live through this, we will immediately remember this COVID experience when we see the *asterisk on lists of event winners in the competitions we love to participate in or watch. Hopefully it will help us appreciate a new normal one day and not take the things we love for granted.

Meanwhile I am traveling in my imagination through fiction and memoir. Or creating my own urban garden oasis while binging on the Britbox Chelsea Flower Show coverage of 2019.  Maybe you will be racing your own Tour de Peloton. Those of us lucky to have a secure home and some income, we can plan adventures for beyond Corona. And open our pocketbooks to give something to those hurting from the economic downturn or who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID now.

Take care of yourself.

 

Planning Future Travel in COVID-19 Season

79ca0fb6-f669-47e0-a999-a2b00ac8aba4
All photos in this post by Marcos Dolislager

I was talking to my son, who is an even more avid traveler than me, and he remarked that one silver lining of this trial by virus is the travel deals that will be available when the travel bans are lifted. I couldn’t share his enthusiasm. This time at home has given me time to consider my motives for travel and to evaluate my priorities.

I am blessed that I have been to almost every continent and I’ve ticked most boxes of places I want to see. As I tally the cost in terms of climate change and personal finances, I’m no longer as interested in travel just to experience new places. I am more interest in travel as a way of spending time with people I love. I especially look forward to traveling with my grandson.

8b4ccd70-46dd-4fd6-9642-dc94d37f5e1f

Having said that, I received an email from TSA PreCheck letting me know I need to renew my membership before the end of June. I starred the email and thought about it for 24 hours. It is a no-brainer really. I am going to travel as soon as this COVID-19 season is over. So I just paid my $85 as a down payment on my hopes and dreams for future travel.

We will all get through this together. Right now it means staying home and taking care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors. For as long as it takes.

3abd40d8-710e-42e6-8c8c-d7330bea8b80

My son-in-law works for Southwest airlines. He still has a job but we are all a little worried. He provided me these beautiful photos. The travel sector got a gut punch from COVID-19, so I will put a little money by each month so I can reinvest in airline tickets, hotel reservations and dining out as soon as public health officials and Governor Newsom give me the all clear. I was meant to go to Virginia to celebrate a friend’s graduation in May. The graduation has been cancelled, and the trip cannot be rescheduled yet. But when I can, I will pack my Away bag, fly Southwest to BWI, take the MARC train to Union Station and meet up with my friend Carole for dinner. It will be great.

 

Self-Isolation Play List Recalls Travels

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_16ceI enjoy a weekly podcast of BBC Desert Island Discs. I just finished the Daniel Radcliffe episode. I’ve also noticed that the some people are creating self-isolation playlists and sharing on Instagram. Satellite Sister Lian Dolan created two with the themes of survival. We may as well have fun with it while we are waiting and looking out for one another by staying home.

I haven’t created a playlist since I dropped my youngest child off at UC Santa Cruz. And I don’t listen to as much music as I once did. So when I imagine being interviewed by the BBC presenter on Desert Island Discs, I think of the songs inspired by my travels.

My first big trip outside the United States was to Catrine in Ayrshire with Teen Missions when I was 16 years old. I came home at the end of the summer and discovered that My Sharona by the band The Knack had completely taken over the airwaves. My high school pep squad and student body adapted it to our school name, “La-Si-er-ra” and yet I had not heard it once! While I was in Scotland we sang a lot of Christian songs but weren’t allowed to listen to the radio; however, I did develop a real soft spot for bagpipe music and all things Scottish. Later I fell hard for the twins from Edinburgh, The Proclaimers. I have every album recorded by Charlie and Craig Reid and the disc I want in my COVID shelter in place is The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues.

My next travel adventure was to study summer school in Cambridge, England. First my then husband and I drove around England, Wales and Scotland. I loved Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home, and was bummed to find out that it didn’t reach the same popularity in America.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_173d

I didn’t travel much while I raised my children–annual trips to Yosemite were more the norm. So when I was newly divorced I gave solo travel a go. Except air travel to meet up with a friend or group, I had not had complete control of an itinerary before and the rebel in me loved it. I chose London and Dublin for my first solo foray and I fell hard for Ireland.  That trip I was mad for Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping.  (And for the record, I apologize for linking to some truly bad videos.)

Within a few years I was semi-regularly volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Northern Ireland in Belfast. I even marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Downpatrick. There were many songs that I enjoyed singing as we enjoyed the culture in NorIreland. On one of my last trips a young builder who was apprenticing at the site shared with me his favorite song at the time: Voodoo Child by the Rogue Traders.

I discovered New Zealand through Habitat for Humanity as well. I met a group of Kiwis on a Jimmy Carter Build in Cambodia and the next year led a team to Wellington, New Zealand. Music was a big part of the build and I discovered Brooke Fraser. One of my favorite songs is Something in the Water.

I have returned many times to New Zealand and I like many other Kiwi artists besides the obvious–the phenomenal Lorde. I was briefly obsessed with Gin Wigmore’s Black Sheep. I have memories connected with the New Zealand National Anthem and the Rugby Union theme song for the Rugby World Cup, World in Union. Sometimes I would discover a song on Kiwi road trips that was a hit in New Zealand but not yet in the United States, such as Glad You Came by The Wanted.

The biggest connection with a song on any of my adventures was summer of 2014 when I followed the Tour de France from Yorkshire to Paris. For part of the tour I joined a Thomson spectator tour in the Alps. Our bus driver had a great playlist including Enrique Inglesias’ Bailando. If I only could take one song to my desert island it would be this one.

Working at home all day and then spending all evening at home is not quite as isolating as being stranded on a desert island. I have Facetime with my grandson and daughter and phone calls and texts with colleagues and friends. Still, there is a growing sense of the end of the world as we know it.  Just as 9/11 ushered in a different set of priorities, so too will this pandemic.

 

 

 

Gotta Eat Pi(e) Today

IMG-4032.JPGIt is Saturday 3.14 so you have time to either make a pie or find a pie shop and, most importantly, eat pie! I don’t need an excuse and I’ve been baking and enjoying eating pie at specialty bakeries.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2c71
My Key Lime Pie

I gave a pie coupon to a friend and she hinted that when Lent is over she’d like a key lime pie. I’ve never made one so I searched for a recipe. Decided to try Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe with macadamia nuts in the graham cracker crust. The pie itself has just three ingredients: lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and 4 egg yolks. I shared it with my neighbors over dinner and it was intensely sweet and sour. Yum.

If you are in Humboldt County, proceed to Bittersweet/Slice of Humboldt Pie a pie and cider shop in Arcata, California. I had a delicious salad so I could eat the peanut butter pie (with chocolate bottom layer) for dessert. My friends enjoyed a chicken pot pie and the chocolate bottomed banana cream pie and the apple pie. Yum, yum, yum, yum!

IMG-1115.jpgIf you are in Sacramento, there is a new pie shop in Carmichael (a suburb of Sacramento) called I (heart) Pie. Mom and I checked it out. They just serve pie and coffee or tea. The website suggested they might offer other food so we had to reroute to Rubios for lunch and then try the coconut cream pie. Yum! The shop had just been profiled in the local paper so many options were sold out. They bake 8 inch pies and normally serve in quarters. We bought a whole pie and asked them to cut by six slices so Mom and I could enjoy a slice each and she could take the rest home to share with friends. Everyone wins.

Friends, go out there and eat some pie!