Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Still at a loss for words

This morning, I found myself thinking about what I would do if my return flight next week is cancelled, meaning if all flights including domestic ones are grounded. Which is a ridiculous thing to imagine happening, but the last ten days have been so ridiculous, to use the kindest word I can, that who knows what will happen in the next ten days?

(For the record, if it happened and looked like being short term, I would just wait it out with my mother. If it turned into a long-term problem, I could rent a car and drive back. It would be at least three days of driving, and heaven knows how much ibuprofen I would go through, but it's possible, anyway. Still, I can't believe all this craziness has happened, and that I was seriously googling how long the drive would take.)

If you saw my post from Sunday night, you know that I was, at that time, unable to articulate much about attending the protest in Boston. Honestly, I continue to struggle with it.

In the first place, I'm really not a rally/march/protest person, and here I am, again. I mean, before this month, I think the last rally I went to was in college, and I don't even remember exactly what we were protesting. Now, though, along with the cries of, "This is what America looks like," I found myself thinking, "Hey hey, ho ho, budget cuts have got to go."

Second, in this particular instance, I struggled to feel as engaged with the event as with the Women's March. I think this was mostly because I couldn't hear the people speaking*, so basically I was reading peoples' signs, and listening to and participating in chants, but not feeling actual accomplishment in the way I did the week before. There are photos taken from above, and I'm glad I was one of the tiny dots, but, mmm. I don't know.
*This event was a lot more last-minute, of course, since it was in reaction to the sudden ban, so I don't believe they had speakers, like the sound-boosting kind. You know, speakers to boost the volume of the speakers?

I also eventually got severe crowd-o-phobia; the crowd was gradually compressing closer and closer, people moving through and holes opening and closing up, and one woman who came along stopped and stood next to me, and she Just Kept Bumping My Arm, and when I realized that I was fantasizing about viciously elbowing her in return, I turned around and made my way back to the land of Enough Air To Breathe. Better. Still so crazy, but better.

So, I'm kind of up in the air. Am I sorry I went? No. But I was left feeling very jangled, more than I had anticipated. Tired and on edge and emotional.

When I got home, I thought the NHL All-Star game would be a great distraction, but it turned out that the arena in LA blared their m-effing air horn twice for every goal that was scored, and while I don't normally like that kind of thing even when it means the Bruins have scored, for a game where I don't care who scores, and where many many many goals are scored (at one point, for instance, 3 in 19 seconds; even my experienced mute-button finger couldn't keep up), the noise of it had me just about in tears, and I had to turn it off.

And yes, I was in a state of nerves at the time, but first, listen to it, then multiply by 36; and second, read what the Globe said the next day:
So, me, but not just me. I felt somewhat better Monday, and today, kind of, but it's snowing now, which never helps my mood. And thus, the growls.

This is not my country. What are they doing to my country?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Worth Celebrating

Worked. Ran errands. Stitch and bitch. Home. Tired. Not so much with the words.

Please join Carlos in celebrating New Catnip Toy Day.
He was very ready for it, as soon as I opened the box, and was mighty impatient with my need to remove the packaging first. "That's for me, give it!"

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Signs From a Protest

I am far too tired, physically but especially mentally, to write about going to the protest today (you can read about it more generally here), but here are photos.

Crowd panorama when we arrived:
And signs:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Here I Go Again

He's only been president for a week, and the horrors just keep piling up.

There's a protest in Boston tomorrow against the Muslim ban. I printed out the sign above, and I'm going. Because this shit is getting real. People are getting turned away. This is not how America is supposed to be.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Finally, Sharing the Salsa Recipe

I could give you a long screed about work today--short take, I asked the writer of this report to fix the bibliography, which among many (many, many) other problems was not in alphabetical order, and his "corrected" version was still not completely in alphabetical order--but I will go a different way instead. (Although, honestly, is that so much to ask? Is it an expectation too high? What is wrong with people?)

Ahem. Sorry. Letting go. For now.

A blog that I read put out a call for healthier appetizers to bring to a party in January, which of course made me think of the bell-pepper, no-tomato salsa I have mentioned here many times, but to my surprise, I found that I have never put the full recipe up here. What an oversight! Time to remedy that.

This is a recipe that I was given by a friend; her family got it from other friends, and who knows where it came from before that. Just want to be clear that this isn't my recipe originally, and I'm taking credit for nothing more than sharing its wonders with anyone who will listen. This is, hands down, the healthiest thing that I adore eating.

The only downside to it is that it takes a bit of time and effort to do the chopping. If you have a chopper, something like this, it makes the work easier, as I noted in the past, but it isn't required, if you have the time and hand strength. Take a look at it:

The Salsa

1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 purple onion
can of Niblets corn, drained and rinsed
can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove of garlic, pressed/chopped
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
(optional: Scoops or other tortilla chips)

Chop the peppers and onion into pieces about the size of corn kernels (doesn't matter if they're bigger, but it makes a more diverse mouthful if they're small). 
Mix everything together, and refrigerate.
It's best the next day, but still tastes good the day it's made, and two days later (it rarely lasts longer!).
I do drain the excess liquid off the next day, which helps keep it from getting soggy, but that isn't required.
Serve with tortilla chips: the Scoops make it easier to pick up, but any kind will do.

A few notes: 
Any three peppers will do; different colors make a nice effect, but you can use what you have on hand, or can get that looks good.
I was told to use Niblets, but any corn is really fine. Don't use no-salt-added!
I was told to use "Mexican" black beans, but always just get the regular kind. 
And I was told to add a little dried parsley, which I never have. 

And the results (an old photo, but my own):
Color in winter, and a delight to the palate. Win-win!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's Wednesday (that's the best I can do)

So, do you want to know how my plan for last night went? Well, part one, to go to bed early, I managed. In fact, lights out by 8:30! The Bruins were ahead 2-1, but as I had no faith in them*, I didn't much mind turning it off. Getting in bed felt great.
*It turned out that while they did indeed blow that lead, they won in OT, and Pasta broke his scoring slump doing it, so those are two good things.

Part two of the plan, though, "perhaps have more energy," did not happen. It irks me mightily to be so tired, after I was in bed long enough even by my standards. I also awoke with a slight headache, which has been off and on all day, so that may be throwing the results off, but still, ugh. What's it like not to be tired all the time, I wonder?

It was kind of a grouchy day anyway. The work part of work is fine, I finished up a few chapters of a report I got, which had enough mistakes to feel my edits were necessary, but not so many that I wanted to hunt down the writer and smack him with a dictionary. Some of the background, admin stuff was annoying, though.

When our office moved from the suburbs into the city late last year, I said that of course I would go in when it was necessary. I never thought that would end up meaning I'd have to go in three times within a month, though, and even if the reasons are (mostly) valid, it's kind of annoying. Not only do I love working from home, and appreciate being able to concentrate, but going into the city is both a pain and expensive.

On Monday we heard that the new head of the division will probably be starting on Feb. 15 (which I have no problem showing up for), and also that a bigwig would be in the office next Tuesday, and would hold an "information session" for us (no word on information about what), and that "it would be great to see as many of you as possible in person in the office that day."

Now, I am a person who likes clearly defined expectations for my job. If I have to go in, say so, and I will, without much complaint (to them, anyway; that's what friends, and blogs, are for); if instead, people who want to advance at the company would find it to their benefit to be there getting face-time with a bigwig, then let me off the hook. I decided that the message was code for "probably better go," and planned to.

This afternoon, the editorial manager said to us (on our Skype chat) that we need to do review meetings next week, and could we plan to come in? And Tuesday would be too crazy with the bigwig (which may or may not prove to be true), so what about on Monday, when he was going in for his own review? We had some discussion about what-about-Tuesday, and he said that he wasn't planning to be there two days in a row, so that ruled out Tuesday for him. We agreed to be there Monday ... and then half an hour later he was back to say that his boss had cancelled being in on Monday, but suggested they could do his review over the phone, so he figured he could do ours that way, too. I'm fine with that, and said so, adding the question of was Tuesday then back on? And he said that it's up to me, but he won't be there.

So what am I supposed to do with that information? He agreed earlier that they don't communicate clearly on such things, but he isn't, either. I guess I'll probably go--I accepted the invite, so it would look weird to back out now for no reason--but damn it, why can't they use words to mean things?

Grump, grump, grump. Off to knit myself into a better mood. If it doesn't work, well, I'll still have the knitting.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Is The Weather Gray, or Grey? It Is Bleargh

Until late this afternoon, I had intended to go to swimming tonight as usual, but given the combination of mammoth yawns and rotten weather, I decided to give myself the night off. I'll watch the start of the Bruins game, and knit, then get to bed early, and perhaps have more energy for whatever tomorrow brings (plus, of course, swimming on Thursday). I've been doing really well at going twice a week, but I really only set myself that goal to make sure I'd go at least once a week, and sometimes, not going is what I need.

I'm not sure why I'm so tired; perhaps it's partly as a result of the weather. I'm pleased to say that at least it hasn't required shoveling, but we've been having cold and lots of rain with occasional snow flurries mixed in (just not accumulating, fortunately), and the WIND! Good lord, I have been forcibly reminded that the windows in my bedroom* are old ones, meaning not of this century. The rattling, and the breeze blowing in, not to mention the temperature difference--it's usually about 2 degrees cooler in there than in the rest of the place in winter, which is actually okay with me because I prefer to sleep in slightly cooler temps, but this has been ridiculous. Five degrees difference is too much, and I don't want to feel a breeze in the living room.
*The other windows are new, or modern, or whatever you want to call them, and far more efficient.

Tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be slightly warmer, and slightly less windy*, and all I can say is I hope that's true. I walked from the car to the chiropractor's office last night muttering, "In two weeks I'll be in Florida, in two weeks I'll be in Florida, in two weeks I'll be in Florida..." out loud. Thank heavens I have that to get me through January. It's making such a difference.
*Though I don't see the magic word, "sunny," until Monday...

And there's also knitting. Yesterday I was hit with the sudden urge to work with a skein of mink lace-weight that has been resting in the stash for a while. It's funny where these urges come from! But before I went to stitch and bitch, I had time to wind the skein, then split it into two balls to hold it double, so I could start this cowl there last night.
The yarn is a dream, soft and warm and oh, that color. I had thought of doing a shawl, but after all, I have quite a few of those, and I decided that wearing it snug around my neck wold probably be pretty damned nice. I have not changed my mind about that yet. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

One Small View of the Boston Women's March

Words aren't going to fully express the March yesterday, but at least I can try. I met friends and took the T in, which was, I think it's safe to say, busier than your average Saturday morning.
And with more pink hats.
Getting off at Downtown Crossing, with everyone else.
Waiting to cross to the Common.
My, the Common is busy this morning.
People all seem to be headed in the same direction, too.
And again, pink hats. And scarves, and other items.
The crowd before the speeches. We ended up standing here for about two hours, and I have to say, my back was screaming by about halfway in. I don't like standing for so long! My legs, hips, arms, shoulders, back ... just have to say, ow.
But the speeches were really good. Elizabeth Warren's was great, not surprisingly, but I was also impressed with Maura Healey, the Attorney General, and they had a variety of perspectives that was good: not just women, not just white people, not just politicians.

The Boston Children's Chorus sang America the Beautiful; the crowd sang along for the first verse, but of course average people only know the first verse, so we could actually hear the choir sing another verse; it was touching. I also loved that they switched the end of it, so that the first verse ended, as written, "and crown thy good with brotherhood" and the second with "and crown thy good with sisterhood," which of course got a big cheer (there were plenty of men in attendance, but I think the majority was still women).

Now, the size of the March: during the week before, the organizers kept announcing increased numbers of people who registered to come (60,000, then 70,000, then 80,000, and finally over 90,000 on Friday night). When I tell you that the numbers they are now announcing are 175,000, you will understand that the planning was overwhelmed. I'm not blaming them, who could keep up with that? And they did try. When the speakers were finished, they announced that the March would start from "the back," and people should look for marshals to guide them as to which way to go. We were somewhere in the middle, and couldn't see any marshals; after a while, the crowd started moving, so we all went along with it for a while; then it stopped, then went a different way...I think it might have worked better if they had given directions like "walk toward the Public Garden side" or "walk back toward Boylston Street" or something more specific, but they didn't.

Again, not laying blame, but just saying; it took us close to an hour and a half to get off the Common. Let me show you:
So, from where we were standing, a rough idea. Without the crowd, I imagine it's a five minute stroll. As it was, by the time we made it to Beacon Street, I was in great pain, and also uninterested in cramming myself into the stream of people crawling down the street (not quite marching, along there, anyway).

Some photos:
Notice that the clouds cleared away. The sun felt so nice! It was a bit chilly, standing still, without the sun.

It was nice to see some of the neighbors joining in, from above street level..
So here's Charles Street, once we finally made it that far.
And the crowd still behind us.
And that is why, like salmon going upstream, we forded the crowd and got into Starbucks. The line there meant more standing, but a drink and some almonds really helped my ability to do anything but curl up and whimper.

Side note: we found space in a corner, next to the out-of-service rest room, and a surprising number of people were skeptical that it was "really" out of service. Which, you know, argue all you want, but the door is still locked.

Before I go on, let me share with you some of the many great signs I saw. Well, this one is a t-shirt, which I saw at the beginning of the day and quite liked.
You don't want to piss Grandma off.
This one is creative, right?
And in the city of the Boston Tea Party, so is a "Boston She Party" sign.
I liked this idea, too.
A good reminder: this is NOT normal.
These signs were marched around, and before the speakers started, you could track them bv the cheering. "Pussy power" on one side:
And on the other (harder to see here but it was the only time I saw this side), "Dicktator!" with various unflattering photos of Trump.
Nice use of Maya Angelou's poem.
And a good twist on the song.
Another great sentiment.
Couldn't get the whole thing, but it says, "I didn't come out of the closet for this."
And "Make Bigots Afraid Again."
"Ugh" just sums it up.
And in front of "Ugh" is "Nah. -Rosa Parks, 1955."
I do appreciate a good play on words.
As well as a Harry Potter reference: Dumbledore wouldn't let this happen. (Did you see what Sir Ian McKellen's sign was, in London?)
Nice use of ACA issues.
And this hat, which actually says, not what Trump's says, but instead says "Make America Gay Again."
I like the rhythm of this one.
Just a few snowflakes complaining? Well, here comes the avalanche.
Once we felt able to walk again, post-Starbucks, and with the March still crawling down the street, we decided to walk down Charles Street to MGH, since we would never have been able to get back to the Orange Line the way we came in. This guy was also walking down Charles.
I wonder what his sign meant? Anyone have ideas? Other than USSR?
I didn't carry a sign myself, partly because, oh, so many reasons, too many for one sign, and partly because, quite simply, I knew my arms wouldn't want to be holding it up all the time. But when I saw this photo (from NY), I knew that this is the one I would have carried, if I had carried a sign.
Because I'm not a march-and-protest person. That just doesn't tend to be my way of working. I think the last time I was in Boston for a protest, it was when I was in college! (Though in terms of being in Boston for a big crowd, there was that time the Bruins won the Cup). But for this, oh yeah, there I was.

If you missed it, from the NY Times, this page shows photos from protests globally, and as you scroll down, there's a little globe that spins to show you where each photo is from. Pretty cool, really, how many places.