Too Busy

I am too busy to write much. This week I will be making phone calls to various states  on four different days. North Carolina, Maine, Florida and for Joe Biden I called Pennsylvania. There are 20 days left until Election Day. I want to do as much as I can to make sure Donald Trump is defeated and we get a Democratic Senate.

Next week I might try to  make some calls for Jaime Harrison who, as of today, is only one point behind Lindsey Graham. If I believed that lizard people actually existed, I know that Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and William Barr would be the epitome of that species.

In the midst  of all this pre-election work, we spent a lovely weekend with my  son and daughter-in-law who came for a visit. On Saturday we  took a very long hike in the Quabbin reservoir. It was beautiful.  I am so glad we got to be outside and experience New England Fall.

I am not sure I will have time for posting again until after the election. We will see. If you have early voting where you live, please Vote Now.

Fall

Tomorrow  will be the first day of October. We have been living with the pandemic for almost seven months. Time is moving both slowly and quickly. Looking back at my post, Goals, from the beginning of this year, I want today’s post to reflect some updates and changes.

The biggest deviation from my stated plans in January is that I did not participate in the year long non- fiction writing group that the Pioneer Valley  Writers’ Workshop offers. I felt that I would be a fish out of water in a sea of memoirists with emotionally challenging life stories. My gut told me not to do it. I have not regretted my decision.

I did two rounds of Nerissa NIelds’ Writing It Up in the Garden. It was really helpful for finishing the fifth chapter of my book. The chapter focuses on the Angell family and its’ many academics. A particular focus is Constance McLaughlin Green, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian

In January, my goals included being part of an adult group number at the Skating Club of Amherst’s annual show. Of course Corona prevented the show from happening. I have only skated five times since March 11th and none of them were at the Mullins Ice Rink.

In January, I said finishing my book was imperative and would require keeping my schedule light. I have had mixed results with that endeavor. As October begins, I am still trying to finish the sixth chapter which deals with two  white middle class, middle aged women who were social justice activists in the 1950s and 60s.

Right now, I am writing about Sarah Patton Boyle, a faculty wife from Charlottesville Virginia who became an early white ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her attempts to dismantle  Jim Crow and help American society achieve racial equality have been  very inspiring to me as I have tried, since the murder of George Floyd, to become a more actively anti-racist person.

There are three months left to the year. I hope to finish this chapter, get my skating back to a pre-pandemic level and defeat Donald Trump. What are your plans and goals for the remainder of the year?

 

Phone Banking

As I mentioned last week, since April, I have been phone banking to Maine to defeat Susan Collins. Given Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, it is now more important than ever than we take back the Senate and diminish the pernicious impact of Mitch McConnell, who I consider to be the Devil.

Phone calls are one of the most effective ways we must communicate with voters. It is also one of the only safe ways to reach voters during the pandemic. If everyone reading this blog would commit to either 2 hours or 20 calls, you would all be part of reaching many voters.

You can go to https://joebiden.com/natcalls/ to make calls for Joe and Kamala. Last week I started doing this. My plan is to do it once a week until Nov. 3. If you are interested in the Senate, you can go to Ballotpedia,  pick a competitive race and start making calls for the Democratic candidate.

This week I am going to make calls for Mark Kelly in Arizona who is running to defeat Martha McSally in a special election. If Kelly wins, he could be seated as early as Nov. 30. This could provide a critical vote against lame-duck appointment of a reactionary Supreme Court Justice.

I am first vice-chair of the Amherst Democratic Town Committee and we are focusing on three states: Maine, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. North Carolina has a competitive Senate race where Cal Cunningham is running against Thom Tillis, the Republican. Pennsylvania does not have a Senate race but is critical for Biden to win in the electoral college.

The point is Do Something. Two Hours or 20 Calls. Make A Difference.

Skating Camp 2020

Last Friday through Sunday, I attended a virtual skating camp, hosted by Scott Hamilton and Kori Ade. I was a little apprehensive before it started since I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with all the planned physical activity.

Several years ago, I attended a weekend skating camp in Cromwell CT. That camp mixed on-ice teaching with off-ice training. Last weekend’s camp was obviously all off-ice. The training sessions alternated with webinars on different topics.

Friday began with a welcome talk from Scott and Kori, mostly Scott. Scott Hamilton is a skating legend who has given so much to the sport. It was really thrilling and very entertaining to listen to his anecdotes.

Max Aaron gave the other standout talk. His topic was “Competitive Mindset”. He stressed having rituals to help you get through a competitive program. Max also talked about thinking through what your response to different situations that can occur at a competition will be. He said he even found out, through Google, what the event rink looked like a month ahead of time so he could familiarize himself with the setting.

I have only competed once. I essentially had a panic attack and didn’t really perform my program. It was definitely a learning experience. Reflecting on Max’s talk, I realize I can plan, ahead of  time, what I will say and do to calm my nerves and get oxygen to my jelly legs so I can really feel the ice. Hopefully my next competitive experience, if I ever have one, will  have a better outcome.

Every day at the camp we did between 2 and 3 hours of exercise. It was a lot and I was very sore. I haven’t skated since March 11th. It is possible that I could start skating September 8th, but I have to decide if I think it is safe, given COVID.  I was definitely out of my comfort zone during skating camp. My plan, going forward, is to do the camp exercises for the month I have until I start skating. I will let you know how it goes.

 

Summer Vacation – Sort Of

I will not be posting next week. Unlike previous summer where we would probably be taking a summer vacation, I am staying home. I will be attending, virtually,  a Jewish women’s silent retreat.

I have always wanted to attend such a retreat but I have never had the chance. I am curious to see if I will be able to keep silent during most of the day, given that I live with someone.

I am going to be social media, email, and internet free for  at least the four days of the retreat. You are also supposed avoid reading materials, so no books. I might extend the device free time from the Friday evening before the retreat, which begins on a Monday, to the following Monday morning. That is the part that feels most like a vacation.

I  will let you know how it went when I resume posting on August 5th. Have a nice two weeks.

Maine, last summer.

Not Skating

Originally, for today,  I planned to write a post about the upcoming (March 29) skating show that I was going to be in. I was supposed to be part of a group number with other adult skaters. The theme for the show was Disney and our number was Chim  Chim Cheree. It is from Mary Poppins and is the  chimney sweeps song. We were going to have brooms and do a pinwheel as part of our number.

Of course, the show is postponed as is everything else. I have no idea when skating will resume and I really miss it. Skating also represents a big chunk of exercise that I do every week. My substitute for the three hours of skating and the half hour off ice training I usually do in a week has been walking for an hour four times a week. At least that is what I did last week and it is my plan for this week.

Usually I also take a sixty minute Tai Chi class at the Holyoke Senior Center. The four hours of walking is also making up for that lost time. I am also doing 2 days of thirty minute strength training. Hopefully all of this exercise will help keep my spirits up.

On Monday Governor Baker closed all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts and the Department of Public Health issued a “stay-at-home” advisory. Both are in effect until April 7. I assume that means skating is closed until at least then.

I am going to try to continue posting.  I am not sure if I should write  about non-COVID-19 topics or focus on the issues that social distancing raises.  Maybe I can do both since the virus is affecting the liquor industry as well as every other business. Let me know what you think. I hope everyone stays safe and well.

Most Viewed Posts

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my goals for 2020 but I didn’t say anything about my plan around posting and tweeting.  I will continue to post every week and tweet at least once a today.

I thought it would be fun to look at what were most viewed posts in 2019. By far, Methylated Spirits, which got 1,948 views, was the most popular. I posted this on July 8, 2013. Next was HomePage/Archives with 831 views. This is actually always my most current post.

My most viewed post that I wrote in 2019, besides the Home Page, was Schlenly Distillers Corporation with 295. A post, Skating, that I wrote about a test my coach gave me got 37 views while the post I wrote prior to competing, Skating Competition, Part 1, got 33. The post I wrote after I competed, Skating Competition Part 2, only got 9.

I don’t really know how to evaluate these statistics so I will probably just continue to write about what interests me and what I am doing. In April I am giving a paper about Faculty Wives Cookbooks at the Popular Culture Association  annual meeting so maybe I will attend a session that will generate as much interest as Methylated Spirits did.

 

Goals

My main goal for 2020 is to finish my book on faculty wives. I hope to complete chapter five, which I have been working on for over a year, shortly. I would then have five or six chapters left. At the very least, I need to pick up the pace.

When I was thinking about my progress, I realized that I would need more structure, focus and motivation to achieve this goal. Beginning the end of January, I will be participating in the year long non-fiction manuscript group that the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop offers. Most of the other members of the group will be memoirists but I think paying for the workshop and having regularly scheduled meeting once a month will provide a lot of structure and motivation.

The other writing commitment that I am undertaking is being part of Nerissa Nield’s Writing It Up in the Garden workshop for ten weeks. This is two hours once a week. Both of these writing groups require a commitment which I hope will benefit my rate of production for the book.

Besides writing the book, my other big commitment is to my ice skating. Having competed in October, my focus is now on being part of an adult group number, for the annual skating show of the Skating Club of Amherst. I hope I will be less nervous skating on home ice. My other skating goal is to complete at least one three turn this year. Here is link to a video, by a professional, of a three turn. After today I will have 357 days left to do it.

Because finishing my book is imperative, I am going to try to keep my schedule free from the other activities. This will not be easy; I have trouble saying no. The only thing I will consider getting involved in is efforts to defeat Donald Trump.

What are your goals for 2020? I would love to hear them.

Sisters

On Saturday, I went to see a Shakespeare and Company staged reading of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Kate Hamill wrote the play.  The actors played the story mostly for laughs, presenting the material more broadly than Austen’s version.

One serious moment which was deeply affecting was when Marianne is seriously ill, and Elinor pleads with her to live. “Don’t leave me Marianne”  says Elinor. I felt tears come to my eyes in response to this wonderful portrayal of the deep connection between the two sisters. I have a sister; our relationship is very complicated, but I don’t want to lose her. However, Elinor’s speech comes from the playwright not Jane Austen.

Thinking about this scene led me to reflect on other sisters in literature and movies.  The original Frozen is definitely about sisters. Elsa and Anna are the “heroes” of the movie; their sisterly bond enables them to triumph.

Another movie which is about sisters and is appropriate for the season is White Christmas.  There is even a song, “Sisters” in the movie. It stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen play the sisters. When I was little this was one of my favorite movies.

It is more difficult to come up with books that feature two sisters with as deep a bond as Marianne and Elinor. Little Women is all about sisters but there are four. Throughout the book, at various times, the sisters have different connections to each other. The relationships are not static.

I want to find good examples of sisters in a few novels for my Jane Austen book club. Starting in February we are reading Northanger Abbey. The rest of the year we will read gothic novels. Thinking ahead, the following year I might do Sense and Sensibility so I would need works that fit with the book’s themes, especially sisters.

BlueHost

This week I was going to write about beer, for a change, but, I had another BlueHost issue. I got an email that said the server for my BlueHost email  was being “decommissioned in the next week. In order to ensure full email functionality after this server’s shut-off date, you will need to update the server name in your email client settings.”(their bold). This was pretty anxiety provoking and reading the rest of the email didn’t alleviate my panic.

I looked at my current email settings and I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about so I decided to contact BlueHost for help. When I went to their website, the most immediate form of help was a live chat so I did that. Twenty-nine minutes later, I was still completely perplexed about what I was supposed to do.

I did tried changing the settings to  what the emails suggested but then my email didn’t work so I changed them back. The person chatting with me was no help so I decided to call.  Ray, the tech support person I reached, was helpful. After ascertaining that the email was legitimate, he concluded that I didn’t have to change anything since my email was working.

This is the  fourth time since my website was hacked in February 2018 that I have had a problem with my website and BlueHost.  In October, my website was offline for two days or so because BlueHost had changed servers and SiteLock, my security provider, couldn’t access my site and therefore shut it down. Again chatting was useless but a real person did help me by contacting SiteLock and getting my website restored.

In looking over the various posts I have written about website problems, a common theme is that I would like to make a change but I still have not managed to do that. In June I renewed for six months. The six months have come and gone and I am still with BlueHost.

Since I was hacked, the main issue has been security. I pay SiteLock $70 a month to prevent my site being hacked again. If I switched to WordPress.com, I supposedly wouldn’t need SiteLock anymore which would save a lot of money. The problem is I don’t believe that. Not being sure about the advantages of WordPress has kept me with BlueHost.

Happy Thanksgiving!