Thursday, May 25, 2017

For Such a Time as That: Post-Fast Thoughts

First off, I blew it. On the last day. I couldn't resist fried chicken and one of those Midnight Mocha fraps from Starbucks--you know, the kind that's like a minty Oreo with caffeine ... so much caffeine. Didn't sleep well that night, but it wasn't my conscience. Chris would later inform me that those little buggers have like three shots of espresso in them. Oopsy-daisy.

And much to my dismay (caused by romanticizing the process), I'm swimming in leftovers. Wouldn't it have been great to feel my blood sugar plummet now that we were out of bean soup and bread? To have swooned over my lack of food? Yeah, it didn't happen. But what good would have come of it anyway? "Yeah, I feel your pain. I once ate only soup and bread for three days, and it ran out. So I totally feel empathy with your desperation and embarrassment at having to turn to church food pantries just to make it to the end of the month."

Yeah, I feel like a dumbass. On Facebook, my mom called my efforts "laudable". They weren't, really. But I still watched as the Texas Legislature killed a bill that would've required (on the first go-around) and pleaded with (on the second round) school districts not to have a policy of picking up the lunches of children who don't have enough money for food and plopping them in the trash. I still saw, on the last day of the fast, the Trump budget (which was named in all seriousness "A New Foundation for American Greatness") continue cutting safety-net programs, still cut funding for Meals on Wheels, and eliminate the federal school lunch program. So, fast or no fast, empathy or sympathy, I'm still pissed. Chris assures me from his political studies that presidents put out budgets as "suggestions" that always get ignored while Congress does the real work; however, my worry is that this conservative Congress will be so emboldened by having this president that they can still do significant damage.

Back to the grindstone, folks! We have serious work to do! If you don't know where to do that work, I have a few suggestions:

  • Bread for the World - Bread is a Christian lobbying organization, so if Christianity isn't your bag, you might try ...
  • Feeding America - They're not just food banks--they do some advocacy work too. 
  • Also, if you have a little extra dough on you, the state representative who tried and failed to pass the lunch shaming legislation has, alas, resorted to begging. Feeding Texas is taking money to pay off overdue lunch balances. 
  • And if your state rep was one of the little shits in the Freedom Caucus who blocked the lunch shaming bill because it required things of the school districts (that was the reason--no joke), you may want to send her/him/they a little note telling them what you think. 
Sorry to get ugly at the end. I have a foul mouth and an angry brain. Thanks for reading, as always, gentle readers. Have a good day ... and get feisty! 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

For Such a Time as This

Since leaving Orthodoxy, I'm not really that big on fasts. As a result of Orthodoxy, I'm not big on fasts that seem to set out to change God's mind. Yet, here I find myself: bean soup in the fridge and bread in the bread machine. And it all has to last two people for three days.

You can read about the "For Such a Time as This" fast that Bread for the World has called for in greater detail on their own webpage--I'd just be rehashing the same stuff--but I did want to blab on about my take on it and maybe encourage others to do it now and in the future. The first fast is three days (a la Esther) to prepare us for the major work of advocating against cuts to safety net programs. Subsequent fasts will take place (for one day) each 21st of the month--the day when 90% of SNAP benefits run out. When I heard about it, I put my thinking cap on and decided on some things:

  • I cannot go without food for three days voluntarily. That's madness. 
  • I can eat a limited amount of food. 
  • I can eat a limited scope of food. 
  • I can and will force this on my husband. 
When I give to food drives, dried beans are my big go-to. (And then I read Evicted and learned that some shit-hole apartments don't even have microwaves, much less a stove to cook beans on. That took the wind out of my sails.) So I went to my cupboard and got a pound of gourmet beans out. I feel bad about the gourmet, but I only know how to cook a pound of beans in the Instant Pot. So that's one less pound of beans in my pantry. With that, I made a simple bean soup with a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), a little oil (Instant Pots require a little oil with beans and rice and "expanding things" to prevent foam from building up), and leftover chicken stock. That was yesterday; today, I'm making a high-protein bread called Cornell bread that I've often made for others and never for myself. I'm ready to try it. Oh, and milk is allowed because I don't want it to go bad during the fast. 

And here's the rub: This is all we'll be eating for this fast. If we run out of food, that's it. 

No, I don't claim to know what 90% of people on food stamps go through when they have to spend up to ten days without being able to buy food. But these exercises are often enlightening, and I pray that they're enlightening to me and enlightening to my senators and congressman when I write to them about my experience. At least, that's the plan. Keep notes, write poems, write letters, try not to run out of food, live as best I can if I do. Oh, and wear burlap ribbon around my wrist (the "visible sign"--sackcloth without the ashes). 

I do a lot of advocacy work for Bread for the World, and I'm glad to do this with them. I'm proud that the Episcopal Church has chosen to do this as well. Hunger has become an important issue to me--somehow it overtook homelessness as the most important issue to me. Maybe you'll join me? Instant Pots can make beans real fast!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Well Done, Denton.

And France! No fascism for France! Well done indeed!

Anyway, Denton barely voted in favor of the tax freeze for the elderly and disabled.

Stolen mercilessly from the front page
of the Denton Record Chronicle. 
I clearly don't get out enough because there were NO TAX FREEZE!!! signs all over our neighborhood. But, then again, we're just a bunch of scrooges in this area of Denton. No heart. Sad!

(Boy, I'm suddenly hoping the newspaper doesn't come down on me for this screen cap of the results. Have mercy! No one reads this blog anyway!)

Good triumphing over evil everywhere!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Political Musing

I'm at my parents' house in Missouri, writing a blog on my phone. Things must be serious. And they are! After all, my little burg of Denton, TX, is contemplating the lucrativeness of the elderly and disabled. See for yourself from this article from the North Texas Daily:

As a champion (debatable) of the poor, I simply must weigh in. I first became aware of this when I saw either on Facebook or Twitter: SHOULD THE YOUNG HAVE TO PICK UP THE SLACK SO THE ELDERLY CAN HAVE A TAX BREAK?!? 

In a word: Yes. And while we're at it, can we not discuss how many millions of dollars we'd be losing if gave our most vulnerable citizens a break, Family Values State of Texas? Wait, we do still believe in family values, right? So, we get find out on May 6 if we serve God or mammon. Find your polling place here:

Is it okay to be upset about this--that some people are more concerned about the hipsters who are making Denton a more expensive place to live than the forgotten elderly? I just kept seeing tweets about this tax freeze and thought you couldn't lose on it. And yes, schools are covered by property taxes, but our lieutenant governor did attempt to force a vote on school choice in the legislature (so you know how important our public schools are). (For those not paying attention, they deep-sixed school choice. Well done.) 

I'm not coming at this from a very political standpoint, and I'll admit it. Faith informs my politics and I hate having to have politics at all, so I do this with all reluctance. I was furious when the Trump "skinny budget" cut Meals on Wheels, and the same recipients of that program are the ones who'll benefit from the tax freeze: the elderly and disabled. These people are important. I will gladly pick up the slack so they can have a break in uncertain times. 

I hope this passes, and I will be voting on May 6 because I'll finally be back in town (yay!). Hope you vote too. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

So here's what I've been doing with my day.

I bucked the BBC as my main source of news a few years ago and switched to Al Jazeera, and they've been reporting on what's happening in Aleppo A LOT. Stumped by what I can do that will help the situation and more than a little tired of pleas for donations that I know won't get there in time, I did something I've gotten quite good at doing: writing letters to my representatives.

Here. Copy it. I don't care. Send it to everyone. Just do your part to make this not end in genocide.

I have been reading the news about the recent events in Syria and eastern Aleppo specifically, and I have become quite concerned with what is going on. What I read describes what can only be described as genocide: double-tap bombing (bombing one area, waiting for civilians to come help those in the rubble, and then bombing again), civilians being gunned down as they run to safety, systematic rape, and more horrible things. I have read of women being killed or committing suicide to avoid getting raped by regime soldiers. Surely you know there are no hospitals left in east Aleppo, and all the makeshift clinics can do is stop a civilian’s bleeding and send them on their way. Such things are too terrible to even hear about—I cannot even imagine living this nightmare. 

There is absolutely nothing I can do to help, and that frustrates and saddens me. I have given money to the White Helmets and other organizations that are on the ground in Aleppo. I am bombarded daily by requests from humanitarian leagues that tell me to donate more money to help the remaining civilians. But I know the truth: That money will never make it there in time. The organizations will only be there to clean up whatever is left of Aleppo. In the meantime, I fear total genocide. 

I know that only the world governments can step in in time to do something, and I hope that you will do what is in your power to stop the devastation in Aleppo. There is no advice I can give you. I know nothing about the military and diplomatic relations. I am just a sad constituent who is not content to hope and pray alone that this will end peacefully. I hope there is something our government can work together to do. 

Thank you for your time in reading this. It is my hope that peace can reign again in Syria.