What do you need?

Some days it’s as little as an understanding smile. Others, it’s a referral, recommendation or a helping hand. What would you like someone to do for you?

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If we don’t change, maybe we don’t deserve to be here

I’ve been waiting breathlessly for the return of Babylon 5, a science fiction classic I got into belatedly. I even co-opted one of its characters, Lyta Alexander, when I was in an online RPG 20 years ago. Sure enough, it came on Amazon Prime finally, and I’ve started watching it. I hit a wall, though, watching the seventh episode in the first season, called “The War Prayer.”

The 1994 show, for those who don’t know, tells the story of a space station constructed after an interplanetary war in the year 2250, built to allow humans and aliens to interact in a hope of achieving peace.

This particular episode deals with a group on Earth called the Homeguard. These folks oppose dealing with aliens at all. Their chant and watchwords are “Earth First.” They terrorize aliens in an effort to scare them away and keep the station and Earth’s resources for humans only.

The station commander and security advisor discuss the situation, wondering what will happen if they release information about this “Earth First” group. Commander Sinclair bitterly points out that most who know about it are already fervent supporters, “and most of the rest just don’t give a damn.”

So, 24 years ago, we see the exact theme playing out that we see in today’s “Murrika.” Except here it’s a little more sinister. The leader of the country and those who support him in the government are pushing “America First,” not just random extremist groups.  We are terrorizing members of American cultural sub-groups, instead of Centauri, Narn and other aliens. Blacks, LGBTQ, immigrants–anyone who is not part of that specific WASP male culture risks being made second-class, losing their rights, or even being terrorized and killed at rallies or on the street.

Women are losing rights over their own bodies, due to recommendations made by committees of white men. Is it any wonder that The Handmaids’ Tale is so dark and frightening for us to watch? How long until we reach that point? In the show, the women’s rights slowly disappeared, one by one. The right to a job. The right to handle their own money. The right to read and write. The right to choose to have a baby. The right not to be raped. We see in the current government that while major brouhahas are going on in one place, calling the attention of the media and activists, that in Washington, Congress is quietly whittling away at other laws–many of which the majority don’t even read.

Not to mention the amendments and special interest-bits that get tagged on.

Clearly, this whole “Me and the people like me First” campaign is not new. It didn’t start with the current administration. it didn’t start with the last administration. It didn’t start back when the Republicans came right out with the policy of opposition, no matter what was on the table. (George Voinovich, 2002).  “The Other” is always something to be confronted; but should it be met with hatred and fear, or with a welcoming hand?

The hatred and fear continued in the Babylon 5 episode, as once the bad guys were caught and charged with the terrorist acts, the leader turns to his former friend on the station, and says this:

Malcolm Biggs: I can’t believe you did this to me, Susan. What kind of a human are you to side with – [looks at (aliens) Delenn and Mayan] *them* ?

Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: I find many of these people to be more human than you and your kind. But I don’t suppose you’d understand that.

“I can’t believe you did this to me.”

“I can’t believe you made me do this.”

“Look what your parents made me do.”

The New Yorker on June 11, 2018, points out that the Trump Administration uses the language of domestic violence. It sure does. As someone who’s worked with domestic violence victims and survivors for over 20 years,  what I read in the news makes me sick.  And it doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.

The sickness isn’t just one man. It’s pervasive in the system.

Maybe–just maybe–there are enough people willing to put themselves on the line to change things in fall 2018, in spring 2020. But we’ve been wallowing for a long time, living with all those who “just don’t give a damn.” When good people don’t engage, whoever’s loudest gets to control things, truth and justice be damned.

So I’ll go back to my nice fictional space station, where I expect this won’t be the last time we hear the Earth-Firsters. Because this is us. And we deserve what we get.

Some things are worth keeping

On the inside of my front windshield is this smear:

It says “Tasha.” It has been there since fall of 2014. Yes, I have not washed the inside of my window for four years. And I may not.

This is on the driver’s side. On the passenger side are a bunch of toe prints, mostly, because Little Miss likes to ride with her feet up on the dashboard, but also a very faint “Mom.”

We were sitting in a parking lot in Meadville, across from the movie theaters, waiting to give my sons a ride home. It was steamy inside the car, and I amused myself by writing her name with my finger. The usual response to such an act was a snappy, disgusted answer–she’s pretty serious most of the time and doesn’t understand teasing.

But this time–THIS TIME–she saw what I did, and voluntarily wrote “Mom,” with a smile for me.

It was a moment that I’ll treasure always. An actual connection of intent and mind. It hasn’t happened often over these 18 years, believe me. But when it does, it’s glorious.

So no, I haven’t washed the window, and I might not.

Ever.

Recipes? We don’t need no stinkin recipes….. :)

I’ve been the main cook in the family since I was about 13. I wouldn’t say I know everything about the subject, but I have at least learned enough of the rules to break the rest of them, as they say. 🙂

I am also often inspired by sister author Marian Allen, who likes to talk about the meals she’s cooking–also not recipe bound.  She isn’t feeding a starving horde, but for a couple of folks, she can whip up something that sounds yummy totally off the cuff.

Photo by Marilyn Acosta

So last night I didn’t have a real plan, but I wanted something that tasted wonderful. I’m also big on keeping up with what’s in the fridge, so I don’t have to throw away a lot of waste. (mutters about wasted romaine … ugh).

i’d picked up some markdown veggies, so I definitely wanted to use those–no harm, as long as you use them quickly. So a cup of sugar snap peas and a small bag of chopped butternut squash went into the skillet with a splash of olive oil and another of sesame oil. Half an onion. Some thin-cut pork slices. Two tablespoons garlic in oil. (no, Virginia, there are no vampires in my house. LOL!)

Then I added some dandelion greens Little Miss had picked the day before, and two cups of chopped kale. Add to that some turmeric and ginger (yay anti-inflammatory food!) and half a can of coconut milk and a cup of chicken broth, and cover to simmer a bit.

When the kale had wilted and become a beautiful dark green, I added this great quinoa/brown rice mix  that just needs to cook long enough to soak up the flavors. Top with a dash of soy sauce and voila! 

I thought it was amazing, spicy,  full of great veggie nutrition. Little Miss would probably have rather had boxed mac and cheese. Eh. We have likely never had the combo before and probably won’t again. But for this one night, I was happy with the meal. Thanks, world, and sister Marian. 🙂

Can I get your help?

For many years, this blog told stories of our adventures with autism, something that was completely new for me when my children were diagnosed, all three of them. We did the therapies, we made the concessions, we shared the stories and learned from all of yours.

During that time, I wrote a manuscript that starred a teenager with autism. She becomes part of a young adult fantasy tale, a quest to save the universes from dying. I based her on vignettes from my own children, the odd way her language comes sometimes, the black and white thinking that makes things like idioms a challenge–or unintentionally humorous.

After some attempts to get it published, I shelved it, thinking maybe the world wasn’t ready for this. But with the success of THE GOOD DOCTOR, and some other indications that autism awareness is becoming more mainstream, I tried again.

I am proud to announce that THE LOST CHORD is being published by Dragonfly Publishing this spring. Not only is there a great story told, but the other teens in the story learn about autism, and the value of Bee’s thinking outside the box. Here’s an excerpt:

Miss Fry appeared puzzled. “Yes, Bee just came to get that. She said she couldn’t take the whole project, but she needed that rock.” She shrugged. “It’s hard to tell with her sometimes. But she’s come a long way.”

            “I—I don’t know a lot about autism, Miss Fry. Is she gonna be okay sometime? I mean, will she get better? You know, be like everyone else?”

            “Will she ever be like you, or me? Probably not. There’s an ongoing debate among the Powers that Be and parents about ‘curing’ those with autism by various means, but it seems to me that would be doing those individuals a disservice.”

            “You mean they want to be—broken?”

            “They aren’t broken, Cory. They have many unique characteristics and gifts that might be changed forever if they were made to be ‘like everyone else.’ But certainly we can help them communicate better, succeed in their own way. Like this.”

            She tapped the poster board with a smile. “As an independent student, Bee can accomplish a small focused project with excellence, whereas in a class of thirty students, she gets lost and can’t be heard.”

I’m very excited at the chance to teach people about the wonders of our kids. One thing that would help would be reviews by people with knowledge of the subject. I can get you review e-copies in advance of our May launch, if you’re willing to read and share your opinion of the book. If you like it, I’d be glad to guest post on your blog as well, to spread the word.

You can also like our Facebook page and register at our blog to get more information as we get closer. Endorsements would be great to add to our page as well! Fans of the book will be invited to join a special club called the Chordians, where they will get special prizes and more content.

If you can help me out, and are interested in any of these options, please contact me at lyndialexander at gmail dot com, or leave a message in the comments on this post. I hope you’ll join me in the next step of this grand adventure!

The closet under the stairs

When I was a child, visiting my grandmother’s farm in Indiana, I found her old house fascinating. It had been built in the late 1880s, and there seemed to be nooks and crannies everywhere.

Upstairs, there was my grandpa Joe’s bedroom, which I never fully explored, even when he was out in the fields. The curtains were dark and red, shadows filling the corners. When I read Jane Eyre, I imagined his closet was the room in which poor insane Mrs. Rochester was confined. Maybe that’s why I never went in.

Polished wood floors set the stage for the formal parlor with velvet chairs, the room that was never used except for taking official photos of the family. The basement was dark and spooky, vaguely hitched to the memory of tornadoes for me. We must have hidden there a few times. My mother told the story of a tornado passing right through when she was safe, down the angling road at the school house. When she walked home, my grandmother’s curtains were in the road, blown there by the wind.

But the most cunning place in the whole house was the little closet under the stairs. No budding wizard lived there, unfortunately–just a tiny rack for coats, and a hard chair next to a small table where one could find Image result for old telephonethe telephone.

Most people had to bend down to get inside, since the upward climbing stairs were above the space. Games and other things filled the angling back of the closet, but that telephone was a lifeline back in Bunker Hill, both for my grandmother and for the lives of others that she touched.

When we lived across the road in the 1960s, the phone was on a party line. You had to wait your turn to make a call–but oh, the things you heard, if you were rude enough to listen in. My grandmother would have been shocked and horrified to even consider such a thing. I doubt her neighbors were always as courteous.

She used the telephone to connect with others. As a farm wife, she didn’t always get out of the house into the community, especially in her younger years. There were people to feed, and chores to do. She called to set up her precious 7:30 Club, where ladies of the community would meet monthly in each others’ homes to visit and play cards.

The phone calls I remember most, though, were those on weekend afternoons, when she went in and left the door barely cracked open. She volunteered for the Red Cross, and her job was to relay calls from soldiers to homes, and from homes to soldiers. I sat outside the door and listened to the stories, bad news often, but sometimes good things like the birth of a child. That tiny closet became a microcosm of the world, gathering all the feelings and sympathy passed on from one caller to the next, bringing the news that really mattered to those who needed it most.

 

Why was this mission so close to her heart? I suspect it was because of her brothers, my great uncle Cmdr. Jim Moore, (left) who was a Navy veteran aboard the USS Antares at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and Capt. Paul Moore, who was a POW of the Japanese. She, of all people, in a pre-social media time, would know how important it was to have any information about loved ones far away from home, serving our country.

I’m proud of her work. As much as she had to do to run a huge farm, she found time weekly to improve the lives of others.

What sorts of volunteer work makes you happy?