Today the grandkids took over the house and decorated it for Christmas, with most of the ornaments at about the height a seven year old can reach, and lower. They did a great job – better far than the sort of decorating I’ve tended to do, two days before Christmas, with a vague sense that duty was involved. They brought real joy to the job, and reminded me that this can be a magical time if we allow ourselves to feel it that way. The past four years have meant that joy has felt hard to access. Now I can see it was there all along, waiting its turn.
Oh, and even Attorney General and ‘presidential’ enabler William Barr has admitted that no fraud worth mentioning was committed in the election. I guess it’s possible for him to be honest every once in a while. But his credibility as a decent human being was shot to hell a long time ago. He won’t be forgiven any time soon.
The Department of Justice is, it seems, launching an investigation of what is being called ‘bribery-for-pardon’ activities stemming from the White House.
I have a small plate for loose change on my dresser, and what I’ve noticed is that it never gets any more full. It used to. It used to brim with nickels and quarters and the occasional foreign coin that snuck in, and eventually I’d have to sort them, roll them up and take them to the bank. No longer. Contactless payment by card has taken the place of cash in this Covid era, and coinage is, truly, a thing of the past. Not even traffic meters seem to need them in most places. Things fade from sight and at first we hardly notice. Then suddenly, they’re gone, extinct.
Other news? Biden builds his team, but hurts his ankle. The ex-‘president’ has more lawsuits thrown out which he hoped would challenge the results. Scott Atlas, the ‘president’s’ Covid advisor resigns. The US has its 28th straight day of 100,000 infections. What took you so long, Scott?
So the US has hit the impressive score of 4 million cases of Covid in the last month. A step towards herd immunity, perhaps? Meanwhile Scotland is looking as if it will secede from the United Kingdom – according to The Guardian.
On my walk today I couldn’t help noticing that when all the leaves blow away we see the structure of things, and the deserted birds’ nests. Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang. Sometimes it’s only when the camouflage has gone that we see the true state of things.
The good news today is that my step-son, Nick Portnoy, is in the pages of House Beautiful magazine this month, which features a gorgeous kitchen he and his team created for an historic house in Belmont, MA. Excellent design and outstanding craftsmanship are things to be treasured in this era of the bland and the tasteless, so I like to think he’s at the forefront in the movement to change what is blah into what is beautiful.
A quiet sort of day, except for the news that the twins (2 and 1/2) woke up, and decided they wanted to go out. The first their mum knew about it all was when she began to wonder why things were so quiet. So she went to look for the twins. None to be found. She ran down two flights of stairs and flew outside looking for them, as the front door was open. No twins.
After a few minutes of shivering in her pajamas and checking everywhere, she saw them walking back along the street, side by side. It seems they’d spotted a large puddle the previous day as they were being driven back to the house, and they not only got themselves dressed complete with rain gear and wellies, but they found the puddle several hundred yards away and splashed around in it happily until they felt like breakfast. They’d learned about puddles from Peppa Pig, of course, and simply tried to put what they knew into action.
This isn’t just an anecdote, though. It reminds me that working together we can do things that our parents’ generation would have thought impossible. We can do more than they think. We can do more than we think.
Truly today was a time for Gratitude in every way. The exit of the former ‘president’ was on the list, for sure. We celebrated with the grandkids. We’re always careful to gather with just our small ‘pod’ in these infectious times. Zoe and Ellie had created their own Gratitude Trees, which had paper leaves on which they’d written the names of people and things they were grateful for, or drawn pictures. I thought this was a wonderful way to do things – the more leaves on the tree the better it looked, and the more gratitude it expressed. Sometimes we all need help expressing gratitude, help to focus on what is good and beautiful.
Some people took things a bit more seriously. Here’s a picture from The Guardian of two people traveling through Miami airport in Hazmat Suits. They’d still have to inhale airplane air, though, wouldn’t they?
I’ll confess that it’s almost a relief these days to read the news. The former ‘president’ is no longer dominating the front pages with some idiotic statement or other, Instead we have plenty of bad news, but we don’t have to excavate our way through a mountain of distractions in quite the same way as before.
That said, the squatter in the White House has pardoned former General Michael Flynn. You remember him. He’s one of the ones who lied to the FBI about Russian interference in the 2016 election. He even pleaded guilty, twice, as I recall. So it’s OK for a senior Army officer to consort with the enemies of the state to pervert the democratic process.
I’m thrilled to announce that our local Diner has reached its gofundme goal, and that it’ll stay open for the foreseeable future. It’s not just that I know the place well, it’s that the Diner is a place where all kinds of people meet. On any pre-Covid day, in that convivial atmosphere one could see the Armenian high school kids, the techies from the insurance company, the nurses, the Russian guys from the car body shop, and everyone in between. It was a place where we all went, and as such it was a community-builder. For how can we be a community if we can’t see the other people who live around us, meet them on neutral territory, and see that they’re folks just like us?
It’s still serving food, although only within the Covid restrictions, but it still fulfills its role.
Places like our Diner, like ten thousand other small restaurants, are places that build human fellowship and break down any of the prejudices that come from isolation.
Other news? Some guy called trump seems to be admitting that he lost the election.
South Dakota, a no-mask state by order of Kristi Noem, its governor, is surging with Covid cases.
Some people claim masks don’t do anything.
I’m not qualified to say whether masks are effective or not. All I can say is that when people are expected to wear masks then they tend to think more carefully about social distancing, about washing their hands more often, about what they touch and how they gather or don’t gather. A mask on its own is only going to be as effective as its user, and its user will only be as sensible as the local laws require.
Watching the unravelling of the ‘president’ and his team has its own weird fascination. His shrillest supporters (think of Sidney Powell’s assault on Georgia) have become so unreasonable that even the short-on-reason Rudy Giuliani has had to put distance distance between them.
And yet the problem remains of 70 million voters who thought that this out-going ‘president’ was a good candidate, that he won, and that he was cheated, somehow, of the second term he ‘deserved’.
The problem, at its base, is misinformation. We are now faced with a vast web of propaganda and misinformation piped directly to people’s homes. Freedom of speech is one thing; hate speech is another. We can deal with that. But how do we deal with those people who peddle ridiculous, hurtful conspiracy theories? Biden will have to come up with a plan for that, since at the moment there is no legislation to stop anyone spreading outright lies.