April 25–Feminism for the Real World

No, I didn’t make it up. It’s a cool new book edited by Kelly Jensen called Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw and Speak About Feminism for the Real World.

There are feminist songs to sing along to.
There are lists of kick-butt female scientists.
There are essays like “A Conversation about Girls’ Stories and Girls’ Voices with Laurie Halse Anderson and Courtney Summers.”

Check it out.


February 10–Recommended Reading

Studies have repeatedly shown that reading makes you smarter. It also makes you kinder. Readers of novels gain empathy for others who are not exactly like them. This I believe. So I asked myself, what could I do to support transgender students? Refugees? Etc.? Well, I work in an indie bookstore. I know I am probably preaching to the choir, but I can recommend books. So here you go:
Excellent books about transgender
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides is the story of a feisty Greek teenager, a really enjoyable saga about a child who is born neither male nor female, anatomically, and the struggles that “she” goes through. Recommend it to your book group!
She’s Not There, A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan was a great non-fiction read about a man who became a woman.
Excellent books about refugees
The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth among others, is recommending this novel as a must-read right now. Barbara Kingsolver, of The Poisonwood Bible fame, is also a fan. Here’s the plot:
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.
This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction.
From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
Although I haven’t finished this memoir yet, it’s going on my other blog soon. It’s the true story of a young Burmese boy who became the first member of the Kayan Padaung tribe to study English at a university. And not just any university–he goes to Cambridge. What he’s left behind is a brutal military dictatorship that murdered his lover and forced him to abandon his academic studies.
Strength in What Remains, by Traci Kidder
You can read my entire review by clicking on the link. But basically, Kidder tells the true story of a young man from Burundi who survived 2 genocides (that of his own country and that in neighboring Rwanda) before coming to the United States. He struggled mightily, with homelessness, trauma, and despair, but with the help of some new American friends including one persistent nun, he was able to get an education. And with that, he headed back home to build clinics and schools. Inspiring.
Excellent books about the dangers of totalitarianism
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
1984 by George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Brave New World by Aldus Huxley

March 08–Companion Planting

It’s been a long, cold, ugly winter, to paraphrase George Harrison. But at some point (I hope)…here comes the spring! When it does, I wish to use companion planting techniques to stop awful insects from eating up my flowers and vegetables. No Roundup. No Monsanto. I drink the water that absorbs all those poisons. No thanks.
When my bestest British friends and I were cycling up in Victoria, B.C., we stopped at the lovely Buchart Gardens. This is a reclaimed rock quarry which is now a gorgeous park. In the giftshop, I stumbled across a book called Roses Love Garlic. I think there is a companion volume called Tomatoes Love Carrots.
Anyway, the idea is that you plant marigolds around your vegetables to keep the nasty nibbling insect beasties away. You crush up eggshells and place them around your hostas to keep slugs from sliding slimily up the leaves. (Actually that one is a great tip from my mother.)
It’s Ancient History
Companion planting has been around since the time of the Native Americans, whose famous “Three Sisters” pairing consisted of beans, corn, and squash. Since shown to be remarkably healthy for the body. I was surprised and pleased to see that Auntie’s Bookstore has a copy of Roses Love Garlic, since our trip to Canada was over 20 years ago!
Of course, the Internet is always a resource too.

February 28–Man & Superman

I am now signed up for alerts from the Reeve Foundation, the nonprofit started by Christopher and Dana Reeve. Here are some true facts about Congress and the ACA:
I trust this information. I respected the Reeves, most especially after he became paralyzed and she got breast cancer, yet they were STILL trying their best to help others. Some Hollywood stars could learn a lesson from this…and politicians too.
Dear Holly,
There has been a lot of talk lately that Republicans have plans to repeal, replace, or “repair” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While nothing has been set in stone yet, here are some key facts about what is going on in Washington, D.C. with regards to healthcare.
Congress starting on the repeal/replacement for the ACA
In January, the Senate passed legislation that allows them to make changes to the ACA without the threat of a filibuster. Since then, however, other than introducing several different proposals and devoting many hours to floor speeches, no other legislative work has been done. In other words, we’re no closer to repeal or a replacement than we were on the day President Trump took office.
The timeline
Despite what some officials have promised, the ACA is simply too big to repeal or amend so swiftly. Republican staff members on the key committees with jurisdiction over the law acknowledged this. Remember, the bill took months to write and pass and years to implement.
The replacement plan (if there is going to be one)
On February 15, House Republican leadership released a memo outlining their plan which calls for a refundable tax credit based on a person’s age to help people afford coverage. The more conservative wing of the party floated their own plan which would de-couple health insurance from employers, offer a tax credit of up to $5000 to fund Health Savings Accounts, and eliminate most regulations on what health plans must cover. Both plans are still in their early stages and have not addressed many key facets of the ACA.
The effects on Medicaid
There is still debate on how to address Medicaid under the revised healthcare act. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said that any replacement should accommodate states that expanded Medicaid under ACA. However, the more conservative wing, known as the Freedom Caucus, would end ACA’s Medicaid expansion outright.
Next steps
Republicans will likely begin work on the leadership’s proposal the week of February 28; this will be the first point we’ll see any movement. Should any provisions of the bill appear to be detrimental to the mobility impaired community, we will launch a campaign to fight back and tell legislators to do what’s right.
Sign up for our advocacy alerts to get updates on the latest happenings from Capitol Hill.
The Reeve Foundation

March 09–I Signed

petitions on Facebook are coming from. But I trust Bernie Sanders. So I signed this one. Not because I want to take away healthcare from rich people (although they could afford to pay for it themselves) but because I want them to sit up and pay attention.
I added a personalized comment as to why I had signed, and I closed with “And I vote.” As always.
Affordable Health Care Petition
Affordable health care is in decline as premiums and health costs increase at exponential rates. Some politicians cannot relate to the cost burden experienced by families across the nation because they receive health-care subsidies  coverage, paid for by citizens. If choice is an American value Members of Congress promote, they should also have to choose their own health coverage from the free marketplace. If private health care is good for the American citizen, it should also be good for the people that defend it.
This petition will be delivered to:
Bernie Sanders
Tulsi Gabbard
Rand Paul
And Senator Paul Ryan.

April 01–At the Womens and Childrens Free Restaurant

So my husband and I just happened to get married in a church that served as the HQ for a local charity. The church member who helped us get the basement all ready for the reception told us that if we had any leftovers, she would welcome their donation. Turned out she was also the chef for the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant.

So we did. It made us feel good to think that we were starting off our married life by helping people in need. The food was good, too. There were turkey rolls from Costco, sliced meats and cheeses, vegetables and dip, and of course, copious amounts of cake. Three kinds of cake.

Today I am going to a benefit tea for this same charity. The church has changed hands a few times and now bears a sign in Cyrillic lettering (we have a lot of Russians here) but the charity lives on. The tea is being held at the Davenport Grand, a very swanky local hotel. My friend Rosie and I will be table captains for a group of 8, and decorate our own table. I shall wear a hat.

Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant

March 31–Hit Them Where It Hurts

tree kangaroos
Tree kangaroos in captivity at the San Diego Zoo, where my husband and I were a few years ago

Donald Trump is truly the Teflon President–nothing sticks, no matter what is thrown at him. His Teflon skillet is made of lies.

But we can hit him where it hurts–in his wallet! Since there are no Trump hotels that I know of in Washington or Idaho for me not to stay at, I can’t boycott him directly.

The Bottom Line

But here are some companies who are doing things I don’t like, and I CAN let them know about it.

Earlier this year, Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive were accused by Greenpeace of failing to make sure their products did not contain palm oil grown on deforested land.

Deforestation of rainforest in Indonesia. Attractive, isn’t it?!!!


Why is this a big deal? Sumatran elephants, Indonesia tree kangaroos, elephants and other indigenous animals are facing habitat loss and possible extinction because the rainforest is being cut down for palm oil plantations.

One person not buying their products and writing them to tell them why isn’t going to do diddly-squat.


So I need your help. All of you. Thanks! As a spokesperson for Greenpeace said in the article above, people should be able to eat a snack or brush their teeth without pushing the Orangutangs closer to extinction.