Dear Facebook Friends; it’s all about the smile.

If your post says, “Share if you (fill in the blank)” it doesn’t matter if I (fill in the blank) or not. I will not share it. I find it insulting that someone should order others to prove their support, but not trust those others to know how to demonstrate their allegiance.

I no longer sign online petitions, no matter what the cause. I do, however, appreciate posts that describe concrete methods of activism such as postcards, phone calls, and the emails of influential people in power.

I revel in the cuteness of bunny pictures. Oh, yes, and those baby goats in pajamas that keep turning up. The baby bunnies in sweaters? I’m still cooing and smiling over them.

I respect and admire my fellow progressives. I might not be sharing your posts, but I’m liking a lot of them. I’m also expressing myself by using the “sad” and “angry” emoticons.

Those memories? Sometimes they’re scary. I haven’t shared many of my stroke-related memories because that was a difficult time, and not so long ago. Sometimes they’re happy, though. Many of the seasonal memories make me smile.

That’s where it ends, Facebook friends and family. I’m operating under a careful policy for the time being. In order to rate a Share on my part, er, page, the meme or video or post must inspire a smile. Baby goats in pajamas: yes. Trump bashing – no. I don’t respect him, and I expect to fight him when I can, but not through Facebook. Snowfall on branches: yes. Baby pictures from friends and extended family: absolutely yes.

For now, peeps, laughter and smiles must win.

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Why a Trump Presidency scares me

The system of checks and balances is gone. With a Republican majority in the House, there’s no way to override bad decisions at the executive level.

Donald Trump’s cabinet is made up of people who will do his bidding, rather than people with experience and knowledge in the necessary fields.

He refuses daily intelligence briefings, saying he is “smart enough.” We teachers call that a “multiple meaning word.” Intelligence in this context means – well, heck, someone who doesn’t know the difference shouldn’t be president.

Russia influenced and intentionally interfered in the election process. In a race as close as this one was, any outside pressure could have changed the end results. The trouble with this issue is that while the CIA has confirmed Russian involvement through hacking and leaking select materials, there is no way to determine exactly how that changed the vote total. It’s just enough to question the legitimacy of the results.

Mr. Trump knows nothing about diplomacy and protocol. He has already angered allies through his thoughtless actions. I can only imagine – and I don’t want to consider – the potential for global disaster due to Trump’s big mouth.

Back to the cabinet. Leaders do not have to know everything. Strong leaders surround themselves with good people, people who will make up for their weaknesses. When a leader surrounds himself with people who owe him favors and people who will never tell that leader “No,” once again, the potential for mistakes gets worse and worse and worse.

Did you notice what I left out? Twitter. Donald’s rude and ridiculous tweets could take up an entire post on their own. I’ll just end on a general note regarding Twitter. Someone as impulsive and thoughtless as Trump does not belong in a position of responsibility. See above: diplomacy. Protocol. Lack of intelligence.

All of the above scare the heck out of me. How about you, readers?

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Action

In the words of others, it sounds easy.

It’s time to turn our anger into action.

Take one action each day. Write a letter. Send a postcard. Make a phone call. This friend posts her “One Thing” on Facebook and shares opportunities for others to join her in staying active. One Thing.

Speak up when you can, Show up where you can, and Stand up with whomever shares your values. This activist friend used this, her new motto, as the heading in her email. The email continued with an upcoming event at which she hopes many will show up, stand up, and maybe even speak up.

From The Art of Non Conformity, I found this gem:

We’re not going to change the world, but you can. You are the only life you have ownership of. You are self-governing and can use whatever powers you have for good.

From a leader of our local teachers’ union came a similar thought.

I cannot go back and change history; while Act 10 and recent elections may not have resulted in our favor, I can control my mental well-being. There are plenty of attacks on public education that are trying to derail its progress and undermine its significant importance. I do not need to be one of the complainers. My goal is to initiate positive conversation and look at the glass as half full.

In the words of others, it sounds easy. Correction: when I listen to others, it reminds me that taking action isn’t easy, but it is important. No, not important: essential. I will see the glass as half full, not half empty, and stand up and speak up to keep the contents of that fragile glass in place.

Pour me a cold one, someone, half full if you must. And then fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a very, very bumpy ride.

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Depression Cake – another variation

Here’s the original recipe.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, not the illness)

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups strong coffee
2 cups raisins or currants or chopped dates
½ cup applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)
Powdered sugar for garnish (or serve with whipped topping)

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and applesauce. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients, except powdered sugar. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe in a California Raisin cookbook put out at least fifteen years ago.

Here’s how I really made it. The apple preserves are more like a homemade and home canned apple pie filling. I’d made cranberry sauce that morning, so the saucepan had some stuck to its sides, leaving a hint of cranberry flavor.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, in the hopes that our leaders learn from the past so as not to repeat it)

2 cups granulated sugar
Strong coffee and apple preserves, enough to make 2 cups
1 cups raisins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan (still sticky with cranberry sauce), combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and apple preserves. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe I’ve had for years – I never make it the same way twice, but it’s always delicious.

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Progress in healing

Yet another cabinet member has been announced to a fanfare of “Oh, no!” Amigo didn’t remember the name, but he remembered enough to inform me that the new Secretary of Education will be a “billionaire school choice advocate.” I can only take so many of these announcements. They’re bad for my blood pressure. In the interest of my own health, let’s look for some silver linings.

The next time a woman runs for president, she will not have to jump the same hoops that Hillary did. Trailblazers, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton included, blazed a trail so that others can follow.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We’re bringing mashed potatoes, butternut squash, Packer veggies (peas and corn), and cranberry sauce. Have I forgotten anything? La Petite will bring the wine. The potatoes are in the crock pot as I type. Oh, pies! I bought pies from a local bakery this morning.

The nearby meat market (I love that place) was hopping. In fact, I changed my route to avoid the traffic on their corner as I was on the way to the bakery, another small business I love. I walked in, paused to inhale, and then picked up a box of cookies while I waited for my turn. The problem with shopping at a local bakery is simple; I always come out with more than I planned to buy. Problem? Maybe that’s not a problem. Small Business Saturday is coming up, and I saw two small businesses that were doing well already today.

Amigo has already found Internet radio stations that are playing 100% Christmas music. I’ll make a list, check it twice, and bookmark a few to listen to at work. Now if I can stop myself from singing along…

I predict January will bring another down period. This inauguration will be hard to take. But for now, let’s look at positives. For those who celebrate, enjoy your Thanksgiving.

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Dreams with broken wings

We’re still grieving. We’re still fragile. “We” are those who saw not just an election, but a dream break down.

I remember seeing Michelle Obama as a guest on a talk show, discussing how she knew Barack was ready to be president. She wasn’t sure that America was ready for him.

Well, Michelle, enough Americans were ready for Barack Obama that we elected him twice. Those who were not ready for him were, unfortunately, those in Congress. Their goals, dare I say it, their dreams were simple: block this guy’s agenda, no matter what.

I’m grieving because enough Americans were not ready for Hillary Clinton to break the glass ceiling. I’m grieving because the opponent, He Who Shall Not Yet Be Named, appealed to the lowest common denominator – the racist, the misogynist, the defiant and narrow-minded among us. Who would have guessed that so many voters fall into those categories?

The saddest part may be seeing that the glass ceiling still holds firm. That, my friends, is where dreams go to die. But this dream – the idea that the most intelligent and competent and experienced potential president should fail in the attempt? Langston Hughes said it best.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

I’m not ready to let go of the dream. I will grieve for Hillary Clinton, my idol for many, many years. I’ll grieve for the potential for our country under her leadership. This dream, the one that a qualified and amazing woman can become president, this dream can not die.

We’ll carry on. We aren’t likely to keep calm. This dream, that of a woman president, will not die with the election of 2016. I don’t know who will be next to have the courage to run, but I know that if she’s even close to Hillary’s knowledge and experience and greatness – dare I say it? I’ll be with her, too.

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A week later

I haven’t posted since last week. Late Tuesday night I crafted my short piece, and then let it sit for a day. I let it sit until the day after. The day after what, you ask? The day after the glass ceiling didn’t shatter. The day after the hate and the vitriol won.

I’ve watched much less television news, listened to music rather than news radio, and more or less taken breaks from Facebook and other sources of anger and denial. In my grief for what could have been, I had plenty of my own anger and denial.

I started reaching back to social media in small doses. I might take a few of my close political allies off the news feed for a while. I like them, I respect them, and I see them as friends. However, I’m not ready to take action of any kind — yet.

News is still difficult. The sight of the Donald makes me feel ill. It’s not his appearance, but rather all he represents. The racism. The bias. The deplorable value systems that supported the results of this election – well, let’s just say they’re not my values. I don’t want a wall on either border, north or south. I prefer the term “strong” to “nasty”. Women in my circles would knock the block off any idiot who tried to grab their, er, kitty-cat.

I’m not going to blog what-ifs. Regrets are useless. The grief, however, is real. This anger and denial are typically followed by bargaining. My bargain comes in the form of hoping for the best, yet preparing for the worst. And since any kind of best result is unlikely at this point…well, I’ll stop there.

Take care, readers. I wouldn’t mind hearing your own coping devices. What helps you get through times like these?

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Election Day – and the memories

I was getting teary eyed just looking through Facebook. Eight years ago, the nation made history. Now we stand on the edge of making history again. Rather than panic, instead of worrying myself sick, I looked through my blog posts from Election 2008.

Grab a tissue.

From 11/6/2008:

It’s a Presidential Election that made history. Best voter turnout in forty years or a century, depending on your source. Record money raised and spent, although that can be taken as a positive or a negative. Record number of early voters by absentee ballot.

And the most important record of all: the American electorate finally crossed the racial line and elected a young, intelligent, articulate, and forward thinking man. And in the process, America elected Barack Obama the first African-American President of the United States.

La Petite was away at college, covering the election for the school paper. She had voted early. Her first presidential election, and she voted early because she knew she’d be busy on election day. We kept in touch by text message – the old fashioned kind of text message, with thumbs pounding out numbers multiple times to make the words. My thumbs, I kid you not, were sore.

As one state after another turned to blue on the map and the electoral vote total grew on Obama’s side, we sent each other texts that grew shorter and more and more exciting. When it was all over and she had finished putting the school newspaper into print and online, she emailed me and called the whole experience “… amazing. It’s going to be one of those ‘I remember where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing when I found out that Obama was elected as our 44th president’ type moments.”

Well, people, prepare for another one of those milestones. Will you remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing when the final word comes in? I’ve already voted. How about you?

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From two years ago – what a difference.

Two years ago, the garden had officially succumbed to the freezing temps overnight. Today, I was outside in my Wisconsin Badgers tee shirt, turning soil and enjoying the huge blooms on the marigolds.

The election was nearly over (and I was worried). We’re a few days away from Election Tuesday. I’m worried sick. This election – it’s so unreal that it’s scary.

So what’s next? How did Compost Happens find a way to continue without politics or gardening on the topic list? Ha-ha. As if I’m ever at a loss for words!

Don’t worry, friends, family, and fans. There is still almost half of the NFL season to go. You’ll read the reactions of the O.K. Chorale as the Packers do their best to protect their best – Aaron Rodgers, that is. I might even post the results of our Eating the Opponent tradition. Indiana corn chowder (with bacon) and bacon cheeseburgers tonight as we prepare to meet the Colts on Sunday. if you were curious.

The garden was a simple pile of dirt and scattered straw two years ago. This year, like 2015, there’s a lot of green in the yard, providing a beautiful backdrop to the multi-colored leaves falling from the neighbor’s maples. In fact, I turned soil today and pulled up rogue grass roots to make room for a row of walking onions.

I still have a small tray full of green-turning-red and even more green-turning yellow tomatoes. I have enough ripe tomatoes to add to salads and BLTs for a little while longer.

As for the election results – I’m sure there will be reactions, good or bad, from the family here at the Chorale or from our favorite time traveler, Grandma Daisy.

What to write? Blog fodder? No shortage here, folks. As my favorite quarterback said a couple years back, R-E-L-A-X. I’m not going away any time soon.

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