Category Archives: democracy

Don’t be fooled

Don’t let the bedroom eyes fool you.He desperately wants to eat the doll lying there, a mere five inches from his nose.

Evening found me in a Newton Corner church shoulder to shoulder with like minded neighbors. None of us have been fooled — not for a New York minute.

Free Speech for People and Roots Action leading the charge.

The idea is to get cities and towns to pass resolutions asking the House to begin investigating whether there are grounds for impeachment (there are, of course — more unfolding by the day). The idea is to express tangible outrage and exert public pressure.

They are focusing on the emoluments clause because that evidence is already in, even without the tax returns. DJT has been in violation of it for every minute of every hour since he took the oath of office.

Relentless pressure. From all quarters. This is not normal. This cannot go on.

PS  At link above you can sign their online petition (for what it’s worth). Almost a million already have.

More snow

It smells like snow outside. A big storm is barreling up the coast. As long as the pipes don’t freeze, I’m okay.

Just hosted a small resistance group loosely using the Indivisible guidelines. We are a small group — only eight tonight. But six are lawyers, so there is some brain heft.

I spent the morning cleaning, making Moroccan stew, walking Finn and devouring a small volume by James Baldwin.

Here are two quotes from “The Fire Next Time”:

“The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it.”

“Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be. One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself — that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.”

And lastly, I found this picture while cleaning up earlier. This little guy had a birthday today.

Hail Mary, solicitors, and hope


Two days ago, when I was editing a published post about the only Catholic prayer I still say and a little about travel by air, the phone rang. It was a persistent solicitor — a number I’ve been seeing every day for weeks. I picked up to politely request my removal from their list while simultaneously saving the post —

and the whole thing vanished. Not just the updates — all of it.

I walked away, resolved not to let negative narratives spin up around the glitch, but also without the energy for a re-do. The negatives arose anyway (was silence imposed because the post was braggy instead of vulnerable? was it too facile with the Catholic rituals? not remotely concerning what is truly and deeply on my mind?)

What IS truly and deeply on my mind?

Yesterday, the wordpress app on my phone seized. Geez! Haven’t I said, I’m not shutting up?


So by way of recap, here’s a little from the other day — I hope I never stop feeling a sense of wonder about being up in the air and seeing the coast lit up below. I hope the Virgin hears our prayers. I hope Mary’s mercy can guide me to learn more about the complicated landscape of South Carolina. Help me filter history through a tender and flexible compassion.

Here’s one surprise from my recent trip. The most restorative aspect of our visit to Charleston came from a major reduction in news consumption. Not the sun, the 70 degree temperatures, the incredible food or historic sites (though they were amazing, too). It was LESS NEWS.


For wisdom about the business of balancing duty and lightness, I turn to Rebecca Solnit (“Hope in the Dark”). Even though since November I’ve had a hard time reading political commentary that predates the election, she will be an exception. She wrote:

“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.”

Giving is an act of insurrection, too. Did you hear about the crowd sourcing that planned to raise $20k in a month for purposes of repairing the vandalized Jewish graves in Missouri? They exceeded their goal in THREE HOURS. Or about the million-plus dollars raised to rebuild that burned down mosque in Texas? Twenty-three thousand people contributed.

Closer to home, my city just voted to be a sanctuary city.

Powerful examples of our collective goodness absolutely abound right now. To stay sane, I really need to pay as much attention to them as I do to the ugly and dark work of the GOP.

  • Photos of Virgin, magnolia tree and house were shot at Magnolia Plantation, SC last week.

H is for humor C is for courage


Rethinking this platform big time. Bear with me while I re-jigger it enough to keep my own interest (and hopefully not lose yours). Otherwise, I need to just walk away.

First up, name change. This blog is now called: Pattern and Outrage. It more accurately reflects content and I have always hated the primacy and repetition of my name. If you list me, please revise when convenient (the url will not change).

I’m remembering Austin Kleon who said, ‘you don’t blog because you have something to say. You blog to find out what it is you need to say’. Bingo. I’m thinking of Jude, too, who over the years has consistently modeled blogging as a way to track her creative process. What I track may or may not inspire or even interest others, but I don’t have much to lose (as long as I keep my 35 readers, that is).

Here are a few things begging for regular mention: what I’m reading; what is inspiring; political resistance resources; the scary antics of the new administration (something along the lines of: ‘favorite lie of the week’); digital photo collage; and maybe, if I am courageous enough, deeper level thoughts about race — what I’m learning, where I’m stuck, etc. (that’s a  mighty ‘etc.’)

Also considering an occasional semi-private post — not sure how to do this (with a password?). It’s a strain to censor myself, but it strains me in a different way to air private matters. A recent revealing post brought this into sharp relief (now it’s tagged ‘private’). Unlike in the past when I have overshared and taken the post down immediately, this time there was an interval. In that space, many of you made generous and caring comments, both here and on the phone. It felt like part of the point. (NB: can my ADD-addled frontal lobe organize this?).

This is all very fluid. Input is welcome. Are there any improving tweaks obvious to you? What would make you more inclined to come here and/or comment more often? Would you prefer a different platform, like typepad? What form of social media draws you in the most right now and where do you read it?

So today for humor, I am going low. I find this absolutely hilarious.

And for courage, I go to the word itself and the inspirational Brene Brown:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

How the roots spread out

Reading Jude’s blog earlier I was struck by how themes and images circulate, sometimes in nonlinear ways. Her post explores “home” and features a cloth house sprouting branches out its roof. (Spirit Cloth, sidebar)

This small vertical cloth is (6″ x 13″?) combines hand piecing and appliqué. I stitched the pink roots awhile ago but keep adding chips of cloth on top, hoping to find a house in the design. 

Last night, inspired by both Jude and Hazel (handstories on side bar), I sketched somewhat mindlessly. Drawing revealed the house. 

Part of me wants to widen the quilt to create room for the structure to expand. But no. This will be an exercise in containment. 

Also: an exploration of adaptability in tight circumstances or the mystery inherent in observing another’s home when most of it is out of view. I won’t strain to connect this small quilt to the devastating roll out of the new administration, but suffice it to say that notions of safe places are very much on our collective minds. 

Liberty Marches Boston


The Boston Women’s March drew a huge, vibrant, and focused crowd. Ninety thousand registered and 175,000 showed up! And, had the T service properly gauged the event’s need, thousands more would have attended.

Was this really a week ago? Have the catastrophic series of lies and executive orders really happened between then and now?  I want my own record of the 21st, so even though this feels like ancient history, here goes.

While not diverse enough by half, the crowd included families, lots of men, dog-members of the ACLU, preachers, singers, at least one princess, and of course: knitters.

Like so many others, my day began at the T tracks. A friend and I drove to a stop just east of the D Line’s western terminus. Two packed cars had just gone by and the next one, already stuffed to the gills, only picked up about ten people.

At that point, most of the crowd migrated across the tracks, including my friend and me. The idea was to catch an empty west-bound train, loop around and beat out all the people waiting on the inbound side. But, the next three OUTBOUND trains were stuffed. Clearly, everyone down the line toward Boston had had the same bright idea. That meant that until the T transported everyone east of us to Boston, there would be no catching a train in either direction.

Meanwhile the waiting crowd, while not festive exactly, was patient and forbearing. The absence of restless complaint was one of many indicators that this was no ordinary day. Even as the crowd came to the inescapable conclusion that public transport was hopeless, we were buoyed by the energy of a protest already in progress. Pussy hats everywhere! A determined grace. Inventive signs! Some train riders held their posters against the windows for our benefit. My favorite was: “CTRL ALT DEL”.

I kept noticing a chill between my shoulder blades. My friend wilted visibly. After about forty minutes, we returned to my house without a plan. Uber seemed unlikely. No other T stop could promise passage. Fortunately, K. had the brilliant idea to drive us to South Station via the Pike. From there it’s a relatively short walk to the Common.

And so, I added another layer, offered my friend an out (she said, “No. I want to go!”) and off we went. It was a breeze. At the curb, however, my neighbor realized that she wasn’t feeling well enough, so she returned to Newton with K. and I hoofed it alone.

I walked fast and without real certainty about the quickest route, even though I worked nearby once upon a time and walked a version of this route nightly for a couple of years. I thought the streets would be more familiar, but gave little heed to worry or self-condemnation. Cold and determination sharpened focus. From nowhere, I heard the phrase: “We die alone. We protest alone.” Not terribly rational, but it made sense at the time.

Blocks before reaching the Common, clumps of people in parkas bearing signs and wearing Pussy Hats started showing up on street corners. Shortly thereafter but long before reaching Tremont Street, the roar of an already assembled crowd made itself heard.

Once there, I was glad to be ‘alone’. I don’t like crowds. Usually, I’m planning my exit pretty immediately or more accurately, wondering with a sense of dread just how long I’ll have to accommodate others’ timetables beyond my tolerance point. Free of all that! It was wonderful to wander the periphery, change directions willynilly, and take pictures whenever, all the while knowing I could leave in the very next moment if I so chose. Couldn’t hear or see the speakers, but the energy of the people all around was inspiring enough.

I shot this video on my way out, probably around 12:30. People were still streaming in on every pathway.

On my way to Government Center to catch a train home, I stopped at the Old Granary Cemetery. It seemed especially quiet and secluded after the Common, though less than a block distant. I left my lapel cloth at the grave of John Hancock’s “servant”, known and memorialized only as ‘Frank’. Two other African Americans are buried here: Phyllis Wheatley and the victims of the Boston Massacre, one of whom was half-African American and half-Native American, Crispus Attucks.

Now it’s Sunday, the 29th and I’ve just returned from another protest, this time at Copley Square. This was in response to the outrageous Muslim ban, put in place by executive order at roughly quarter to five on Friday afternoon, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you. Last night before sleep, I watched one video clip after another of protestors at airports all over the country. I teared up at the sight of them cheering when detainees were released; at the sight of pro bono immigration lawyers sitting on airport floors with their laptops open, ready to offer counsel.

Politics as theater. The protester in blue goes by the name ‘Sister Eunice X’. She gave me her business card, which reads: “The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence / Promoting joy & expiating guilt!” (And yes, I am very short, but they were shod in very high heels). More about them here.

Two protests in two weeks will not be sustainable for this aging broad, but for now I feel pleasantly tired and grateful in the extreme to have a home to come back to. We’ll have a fire within the hour and later, salmon for dinner. Make that: shrimp risotto (with oyster mushrooms, shallots, spinach and Parmesan) and sautéed bok choy.