November 6, 2020 – Letter to my elected reps

November 6, 2020

Dear Elected Representative,

We are in the last moments of this election and still holding our collective breath. While we are hopeful of the outcome, the thought still is there: how can “these people” feel so strongly in ways that are against what our nation stands for?

I had a moment while looking at the county breakdown of voting in this election. Most of my “blue state” was red. The signs and banners and trucks certainly indicated this to me previously but the voting didn’t lie. The only thing that kept the state blue was the concentrated votes in the populated areas. My moment wasn’t one of “thank goodness” but – how do we find common ground again? Rural areas (where I live) are the mirror of inner cities – little work opportunity, often poor education at all levels, poor pay, poor health care, food scarcity and insecurity, few cultural offerings. If we want to join together with our neighbors again we can’t dig in and WIN. We must find ways to offer ways to live better and to make room for caring for everyone so that anger subsides and being open to each other can begin.

This isn’t a new state of affairs, but a sure decline of urban and rural areas for many generations. And it is true for many of the “blue” states.

I live in an old house in a rural area. The center of the economy to those driving through here is all about cars. Old cars, a race track for racing cars, a NAPA store or two in every village. We have had minimal internet service, at times not reliable phone or electrical service. Where I live there’s no cable TV offerings at all because it’s not economically interesting to the cable companies. There are no grocery stores nearby, just convenience stores where you can pick up milk, bread and eggs with your gas fill up. In season we have farm stands.

I saw all the red signs. I heard a lot of the muttering and talk. I saw all the people who wouldn’t wear masks from the start and do so now minimally only because our local shops won’t let them in without one thanks to our governor’s strong guidance.

I see the local school whose newsletter touts the sports teams but doesn’t mention the academic results because they’re pretty bad.

There are people from downstate buying up property that was once farmland because they have the money to buy it and pay taxes on it. They rarely do much for the economy in terms of offering new industry or employment.

Why am I painting this view for you? Because to get back on track and start to push our country forward we can’t be US vs THEM. We have to make sure that opportunity is there for anyone who wants to try for it. That education is good and free at local schools and affordable to those who want to go on, and that this education prepares people for good-paying jobs that allow them to live well. That an unexpected illness or accident won’t destroy a family because of medical costs. That medical care and services are available everywhere to anyone who needs them.

I think of my childhood – all the little moments of a child’s oblivious growing up – and realize how we were not worried. We weren’t worried about losing our house or car or job, losing family members because we couldn’t get them health care. That’s privilege that comes from economics more than anything else. I grew up thinking if I worked, and it might be hard work, I could keep going and live an all right kind of life. I could take care of myself and my family.

I could be relaxed about the future, not worried and angry with worry and fear. I could save for retirement and someday not have to work.

How can we extend a better life with a sense of that to everyone? Health care, education, job training and opportunities, everyone pulling their weight to make things move for everyone?

This is what I ask of you, my elected representatives going forward. Stop catering to the billionaires and the mega-corporations and start – and finish – with the people you represent in the cities, the suburbs and the rural communities. We need your support to make the American dream of possibility and hope a reality for everyone so we can be one nation and one community again.

Mary Beth Frezon

November 6, 2020 – Letter to my elected reps

Summer Doldrums

Yes apparently this time of year I wander off and do – not much.

I’ve been working – from home, and adjusting to this more and more. It’s nice to have lunch just a few steps away. My commute is up or down a flight of stairs. I miss the audio-book time but I don’t mind having that time back.

I’ve been painting (you people doing Instagram can find me using mbfrezon) and writing because it’s officially August Poetry Postcard Festival again, although this time, having started in April, it’s more just PoPo 2020.

I’ve been taking photos, and reminding myself to be grateful for things large and small, often small. Tomato and corn season has arrived along with local peaches.

When I started working from home, I moved (strong like bull) the AC to the room where I’m working, in hopes that I could not pass out from heat. I rigged up a doubled sheet over the door and left just a few inches open at the bottom, and made a looped way to keep the door open just open just wide enough for cat whiskers. Ginny and Harry come in to visit. They plop themselves down and are generally quiet. Sometimes they jump up to surprise me but Ginny often lays in the sunny window and Harry finds himself a soft place even if it’s just a sheet of paper.

Thinking is more stinking than drinking, but to feel is for real.
— Sufi Sam

Nothing can resist a human will that will stake even its existence on the extent of its purpose.
— Benjamin Disraeli

Summer Doldrums

Where did June Go?

Mainly it went in a swirling of brain-drain as I trained and adjusted to doing a new thing while working from home. It has taken really three weeks to go from abject terror to only moments of wondering what-the-heck-am-I-doing, LOL. Toward the end of last week, which ends on Saturday, I had moments of – oh, I know what to do here! Or hearing someone else asking a question in our support chat and thinking, ‘isn’t that…?’ So slow but sure.

Working at home means no forty-five minute plus commute each way, but also means I make my own coffee and breakfast and lunch. And dinner. Sometimes I get to eat one or all of those sitting on the front steps. Sometimes I get to dash out afterwork because the sun is out and I can get a painting in and take photos of the evening coming on.

July brings with it World Watercolor Month so get ready for a more regular appearance of paintings here. After that – August Poetry Postcard Festival 2020 – although with the pandemic in play, some of us started early on that. I did a month’s worth of postcards during NaPoWriMo in April.

I feel the rhythm of my year changing and yet it’s the same. A few photos popped up in facebook of watercolors I’d done in 2016 and 2019 and it was interesting to see what was the same and what was different. Since being home I found a place in New Lebanon where there is a 360 degree view of the sky. Looking back years from now I’ll be reminded of the pandemic by many many panoramas of the sky and clouds and landscape.

Here are photos from today. Mostly clouds and landscape but a few plants and flowers and a couple mushrooms that snuck in at the end. Look close – some of the clouds were being visited by birds and other things!

29 June 2020 out and around.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Where did June Go?

4 June 2020

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. — Dalai Lama

Had a day of work training, all virtual, today. It’s been a long week and yesterday I allowed as I had hit the Wednesday wall. I was sure that others had too although I had no way of knowing what proportion their mix of work-anxiety to world-anxiety was. I couldn’t really tell what mine was.

Today was better work-wise, for me anyway. I found some hooks to use that gave me some grip of what is to come. Others sounded frantic and I thought – look at you MB, you’ve gotten over that Wednesday wall and found Thursday.

At the end of the day we had just an open talk session, unexpected but going on all over my company. People shared, offered support, cried. We talked about self-care and being aware of our needs and the needs of others but that idea that in order to help others we need to put our own oxygen mask on first. Be strong for ourselves so we can be strong and make things happen in the world.

I thought back over my long years at Apple and of times when my co-workers gave me unexpected but appreciated support and times when I stepped in to help someone else. Because, that’s what you do, right? You care about people and how they’re treated by the world and you try to do the right thing for them. I’ve told customers to leave. I’ve told customers – you’re sick, too sick to be worried about buying a new computer right this minute. Go home and feel better and come back. I’ve told kids – stop whacking your little sibling, because that’s not nice. Like I mean STOP it. Or, those are inappropriate comments and I’ll ask you to stop. OK, you don’t want to stop, I’m saying we’re done and you can leave.

So I pondered these things while listening. And I realized here I am, about to start in a new area of work, feeling very anxious and the world’s not helping me out. In 2001, my hire date for my new job was September 4 and my training was pushed back because our store wasn’t quite on schedule. The training started September 17.

I remember walking in and being so unenthusiastic about the whole thing. I remember thinking – just don’t quit. You need a job. You’ve been unemployed for a long time and you need this job. Don’t walk out. Everyone was so cheery and excited and I couldn’t make it happen. I remember how anxious I was because I really had no idea what the moment to moment reality of this new job would be. We all got through it, and it turns out that’s pretty much a daily thing, more often than not.

There’s been a lot of cheeriness this week but nothing over the top. I think most people have been worn down by the months of covid-19 and being home and moving from one crisis to another. We’ve spent a week together trying to learn virtual things in this new virtual world.

I’m sure it won’t be the last time of overlapping anxieties but let’s work to make the world good, as best we can, where ever we can going forward. Be kind folks, be kind.

All of my unedited cloud photos from today:

clouds 4 June 2020//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

4 June 2020

Sourdough Starter – Day Three

We have real bubbles! Phew.

Not that I was super worried, but I live in a very cool house so getting it going and happy takes some fiddling. Sunny afternoons are in my favor!

Sourdough Starter – Day Three

NaPoWriMo Day 2

Today was more about picking up a grocery order and unpacking some shipped fruits and vegetables but this was yesterday:

Picnic in Time of Isolation

Having carefully packed my
ham and cheese sandwich, the
packet of crackers, the
thermos of hot tea,
I sit and picnic in the car.
In the late day slant
the tips of my front yard birch
are pink and sparkling while
lower branches move with birds
grabbing last seeds from the
feeder there. I have to duck
as I pass but now it’s busy
with sparrows and red-wings and
finches, and there’s a dove.
I sit in the warmer car,
thermos cup on the dash,
savoring the mustard and how
someone, oh me, toasted the bread
and carefully cut the
resulting sandwich in two.
The ground is thick with empty
seeds but the grass is greening
and the daffodils glow in the light.
Soon tiny solar lights will twinkle
on above the front door,
welcoming me back and I’ll pass
beneath the several vee’s of
birch trunk, ducking on my way home,
hands incensed with the sacredness
of a single mandarin orange.

NaPoWriMo Day 2

Thanksgiving 2018

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Robert Siegel – All Things Considered

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to Terry Gross interview Robert Siegel, about to retire from years of hosting All Things Considered on NPR. Robert and I go way back, and many people can say the same I realize, but in 2015 I wrote about an experience I had with Mr. Siegel in 2003. I was on my way to my parents’ home on Christmas eve after working in the mall on Christmas Eve day. I was done and suddenly there was Robert Siegel talking about one of his favorite pieces of music, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, the second movement, Allegretto.

As I listened I began to cry and finally I had to pull over. I described that a couple years later in a blog post and it continues to be true that I re-listen to that segment from time to time. You can read about it and listen to it here.

I thought it was fabulous that he took time to write me. Maybe he doesn’t routinely make women weep.

So listen and then listen to him talking about what it’s like to think about doing something else after doing what you love for many many years. Thank you Robert Siegel and Terry Gross!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/572263140/572628143

Made It, Another Year

Had a pleasant dinner with Mom at the Olde English Pub in Albany and today I’m at work. It’s nice to reflect on the years past and think about times to come and to enjoy all the wishes coming towards me today. Thanks everyone!

Yesterday a little painting and more of that to come and then some adventuring. Stay tuned!

Tools and Thankfulness

There’s nothing like going down the road of “researching” something – maybe a tool that might be useful in what you’re doing. More like a deep hole than a road, where occasionally you wonder – do I really need this thing? Need… Want… You know what I’m talking about. You read about something on one website or see it in a youtube video and then it’s everywhere. Seems useful.

Suddenly I was seeing pochade boxes everywhere. But seriously, couldn’t I get it all there with my big tote and a few ziplock bags? Of course but… And couldn’t I maybe just make a tripod-mounted painting surface… sure…

Anyway I went far enough down the road to start comparing various brands and reached that predictable point where I had some serious questions and a lot of confusion. In a moment of clarity I wondered if the manufacturer had their own website. Turns out – YES! And a well-organized and easily explored site. And there it was, a “seconds” listing. “*Note: “Seconds” are fully functional products with minor cosmetic blemishes.” I can deal with that.

So I ordered the box and a few of the basic accessories (for less than I expected to pay just for the box!). Today I got an email saying I’d ordered the wrong extension, not to worry, they’d put on the right one and give me a refund for the difference. How nice. Saved from my own confusion.

So, since I left my small tripod in Wales, I ordered a new portable tripod with quick release mount. Oh and the funky little “stone hammock” that helps lower the center of gravity and weigh the whole thing down. Thanks B&H.

Thanks everyone for helping me out! take my money! fix my flubs!