AuthorKaren

No, Mr. trump, you do NOT have absolute authority

N

Monday night Donald Trump told the nation that his ‘authority is total’. Initially it rendered me speechless. But speechless isn’t effective.

No, Mr. Trump, you do not have absolute authority. Not morally. Not ethically. Certainly not constitutionally. You are nothing more than a two-bit showman, a con artist who occupies what used to be the most powerful and influential position on the planet. You have diminished that position to what will go down resonating like the fall of Rome. A crackpot and self-styled dictator – you now have blood on your hands. As the county wakes up to the repercussions that your incompetence covered by selfish bullying have unleashed upon our people.

Yes, you still have the job. You have a great number of enthusiastic followers led by an entertainment network claiming to be news that has declared unadulterated fealty to you. Perhaps if FOXNEWS was all I watched I’d drink the Kool-Aid and ignore the fact that my daughter and mother are both in mortal danger resulting from your poor leadership. Although surely I would notice when your story changes daily even so. And you still frighten a meekly submissive Republican party that would gladly throw you under the bus (as you so gleefully do with them if they dare criticize you) if they believed that they would keep their positions of power and wealth in the next election.

Perhaps it’s time for those in congress who cower behind your abuses rethink their stance. Look at the backlash in last weeks Wisconsin primary. Even with only 5 of 180 polling stations in the democratic city of Milwaukee open citizens literally risked their lives to come out and vote against the party that betrayed them. Perhaps if those congressional members take a stand against what they know is wrong it will save them from the ignominy and shame that is the near certain fate if they don’t.

Yes, we need a plan to come back economically. Yes, it is critical. No one disagrees with that. But you are not the authority here, you have abdicated your leadership. Your inconsistency, irresponsibility and arrogance is appalling. Your bullying up until now has had a strange appeal and entertainment value – but as the nation sickens that appeal is fading.

We need a plan. A good plan. A consistent plan. A plan that doesn’t sacrifice long term business interests for your own personal shot term gains – gains that you somehow hope will assist your reelection. Yes, we need to reopen and emerge as a nation, a world, into the light. But your nearly casual disregard for the importance of the actual carnage that your temperamental rashness cannot be trusted to contain.

There will be death. There is already death at a scale that may have been prevented with timely action. Death that would have been lessoned greatly if time hadn’t been squandered, if warnings hadn’t been ignored. If the emergency contingency planning that you, Donald Trump, inherited with your office.

But here we are, and this is what we must work with. Death is already a daily number that we need to mitigate. This is an essential requirement to bring back and sustain the economy. Of course, you could order a grand opening on an arbitrary date, and there would be those who would celebrate it with a bang. It would undoubtedly flood a certain amount of wealth back into the system. But that would not sustain the economy. We went from less than 10 cases nationwide to our current numbers well over a half million in a number of weeks.  Imagine a starting point of hundreds of thousands of active cases rather than the very few we started from and how quickly those hundreds of thousands of active cases would escalate with a sudden easement of our current efforts. Where something as innocuous as a school assembly or a sporting event could be the next Mardi Gras – spreading the virus far and wide.

I doubt there is a perfect plan to guarantee our safety out there. We need real experts to gather and come up with the best strategy possible. One that mitigates death and brings us and the economy that we each contribute to from the ashes. Not those ‘expert’ being drawn from Mr. Trumps appointed department heads, chosen in many cases based on the disdain for their departments functions or based on loyalty to Donald Trump. Nor from his family, whose privileged lifestyles and educations in no way qualify them for anything other than running a family business.  No, Mr. Trump, leave things to the governors at this point. Governors run states. Governors are familiar with terms like public policy, as well as understanding the economic realities. Yes, they make mistakes – but rarely do they survive them in the next election. Several blocks of governors are working on such plans that will be worth following. Other states will follow – even the poorly run states will hopefully look into the light and follow. I suspect that most governors – even those that have made poor decisions so far such as Florida’s Governor DeSantis allowing the state to remain open for spring break season actually have Trump’s best interests at heart over the state he runs. And I find it hard to believe that at least some lessons have been learned.

So… to the governors – think of your people. That includes their businesses and livelihoods. Look at the science, and the economic future. Work with states around you. Carry on – and ignore the distractions.

To the Congress. Show some courage. Do the right thing.

Lastly to Donald Trump. Stop with the belligerent shape shifting. Back off the selfishness and bullying. Help the nation heal instead of poisoning it. Recognize facts – the real kind. Like that the steps taken now will determine the future. That no man single-handedly posses the knowledge or ‘gut instincts’ to see this through. This time it matters. Let the true experts lead.

Stupid

S

It’s nice to be stupid
As the plague rages on
Falling into the conservative con
Please ignore all the hype
About saving your life,
Accept only the hope
Spouts the big orange dope.
Elders sacrificed for your sake
For the widgets you make.
Ignore all their voices – you know the news is all fake.
Open that store
Its jobs are worth more,
Brush off the furies,
Produce in a hurry,
while I paint a rose colored casket to bury your dead
It’s worth it ‘cause I’ll sleep sound in my bed
Yup, it’s nice to be stupid
As the plague rages on
I say with a smile.

White Chicken Enchilada Casserole

W
White enchilada casserole

This is a Keto safe adaption of an enchilada casserole that Connie Nelson, an acquaintance from our time in the Netherlands shared with the American School of the Hague back in 1999. Perfect for left over roasted chicken, it has been modified to work in a moderate keto diet. It nods only vaguely to the delicious authentic Mexican dish, and it's certainly not Dutch. It's more like gooey comfort food. I occasionally play with the spices, sometimes adding jalapenos or even Indian chile pepper or even a touch of curry to the mix. Serve it with a nice salad and it makes a warm and filling meal for a cold wet evening.

Makes 16-8 large 'enchiladas'  |  ~6 g Carb each

  • 2 Cups cooked chicken cut into small strips
  • 1 cup chopped sautéed onion
  • 2 T Olive oil, coconut oil or butter
  • Small can of greens chilis (hatch is they are available)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum to thicken the sauce (or a thickener of your choice such as Glucomannan or Guar Gum – or 1/3 C flour if you okay with more carbs)
  • 1 t cumin
  • ½ t cayenne pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 ½ c chicken bone broth (or just broth) If this is salted eliminate or cut down above salt
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature if possible) sliced into 8 pieces
  • 1 ½ C grated cheddar cheese
  • 6-8 medium size low carb tortillas

Heat the oil in a large enough skillet to contain the meat and liquids. Add onions and fry for a few minutes. When they are soft but not browned add your spices (cumin & cayenne). Continue frying until fragrant and the onion begins to brown.

While the onions are frying mix your thickening agent into a cup of the broth. If you are using xanthan gum note that this behaves quite differently than flour or corn starch. A little goes a long way and it does not require heat to thicken and takes a lot more stirring. Mix using a whisk or a fork until the agent is fully dissolved.

When onions are ready add all the broth including that mixed with the thickener to the pan. Cook until just slightly thick and the mixture bubbles. Add the cream cheese in a piece at a time and let it melt. Add the chicken, sour cream, and green chilies to the mix.

Spoon the mixture into lightly oiled tortillas. Line tortillas in a row in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Fill around with extra sauce. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Back at 350 for 40 minutes. Cook with foil on for first half, remove foil for last half of cooking time.

JOURNALING: When your whole body benefits

J

I write daily. Or near daily. I've been doing this forever. It is what keeps me organized, sets priorities, sorts out problems, makes me sane. It's at the root of the changes I have made over the last few years, changes that have improved my health greatly. Everything from my cognition to various aches and pains have benefited from the introspection that comes from daily writing, and the research and evaluation that comes out of a thought process worked through in my various journals.

Writing doesn't come easy at first, at least it didn't for me. Even now there are times when I am unable to journal daily - when I miss a week or two at a time it takes days to get back into the process. It gets easier though as the days go by. Some days I even go through the day craving the feel of the pen in my hand and expression seems to flow through me like water. Some days everything is disjointed and abrupt, and usually doesn't involve much paper. Some days it's easier to draw. That works too. 

I write in the morning, or sometimes in the afternoon. Whatever works. Mostly mornings, as I scribble notes at the top of the page to remind myself of the day's tasks. I keep my phone near me to note items on my calendar. I keep books for inspiration when I come up dry that set alongside my water on the table next to me. My favorite times are days like today - where I sat down and began to play with 'I took a minute' - a line that had been stuck in my head. The poem that came out of it most likely isn't all that great, it takes me time to digest and judge any kind of art I create, but it is a reflection of where I'm at today.

Without writing, and the thought that goes into it, my days aren't as focused nor my resolve as great. It helps with everything; my creative life, my work priorities, my relationships, my diet and even plotting exercise. It helps my mental health. I'm a stronger human being for these words in a simple notebook. Yet so much of what I write is random. Even the random has importance as it lifts the day to day worries and frets from my shoulders helping to get the day started.

Paired with learning I view writing an essential part of my life - contributing greatly to the quality and understanding of my personal choices. It's contributions of organization, introspection, inspiration and the lightening of daily stress tie the pieces of my life together. 

MINUTE

M
I took a minute
  to gather my thoughts,
To feel the moment
   and recognize that
         which resides in me.

I took a minute
     to hear the fishtank bubble, 
    and the rain on the skylights.
I allowed the cloud dimmed light
 to cut through my fog lined mind.

I took a minute
      to breathe deeply 
 of the moist spring air wafting through the room.
I emptied my chest 
   to loosen the bonds that tighten my soul.

I took a minute
  to clear the thoughts
       that lie heavily upon my body.
    To open a window
 into my surroundings.

I took a minute,
     picked up my pen
 waiting for the words to spill out.
Then I wrote this poem
                  and began my day.

BRCA

B
It comes in pieces and each one hurts,
Acquaintances, relatives, an aunt or a cousin.
News follows diagnosis but from a distance,
Positive news – the spin we choose
filters through life’s projects & errands, truths & lies
The damage is limited, the treatment severe,
Yet contained,
As the distance between shields us from the fear in their eyes.
The small shadow cast fades with successes relief
And we remark on progress made, odds improved.
Yet in a small way the shadow seeps in.
We internalize doubt
and falter momentarily in our confidence,
Our expectation,
Of following Aunt Mary’s eternal existence
Kicking and screaming at 96
But no. Never mind. I am fine.

Then comes another blow – closer this time,
A mother, a sister.
The fear grows closer and life holds its breath
With luck – that uncertain chance – the damage is contained
Cut out, treated.
Life resumes warily,
Holidays become more important
And communication dearer.
Fix those things you can control.
The treatment is clear yet
the low note of fear is audible and
the flash of nerves in the eyes visible.
Like a shot through the buffer
Like a breeze through a cloud
Realization sets in.
The shadow spreads.

Then there’s the news – a gene gone astray
The genetic component considered, explored, confirmed.
A sentence.
The shadow spreads, creating a familial silence, and unwanted bond
A background realized,
Grey against the horizon.
Yet the assumptions of life remain.
Testing confirms vulnerabilities.
Mom didn’t get it till midlife,
No need to worry yet. Be vigilant.
Live.

It’s what you don’t consider
Time’s twisted irony,
that comes back
And bites you.

The visit that shatters.
Not a parent, or an aunt, but my daughter.
My daughter, who holds my heart in her hand.
My daughter, my love.
No.

Squash & Tomato soup

S

Squash & Tomato Soup was adapted from a New York Times recipe for ‘Turkish Pumpkin Soup’ by Martha Rose Shulman. It satisfies my desire for tomato soup – combined with the sweetness of allspice and cinnamon. Although I’m certain it would taste wonderful using broth and a different sort of canned tomato, I use my own bone broth made from scraps and bones in the instant pot and canned peeled San Marzano tomatoes (as part of my diet I avoid tomato peels and seeds as best as I can). Serve the soup with salt and pepper and if you like a dollop of yogurt or even cream cheese.

* This is not super low carb – it is moderate carb and depends on the ingredients used. Tomatoes and Squash both have moderate amounts of carbs in them and you really have to watch the labeling of yogurt. I’m very careful about reading labels before purchasing anything packaged. None the less, with care taken I personally still remain in a low level of ketosis most of the time. I estimate this contains approximately 11 g of carbs per serving using swerve (no sugar or honey) and without the topping.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 peeled, seeded butternut or Delicata squash, diced
  • 3 cups chicken bone broth (preferably), chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • 1 large can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener (I use brown sugar style Swerve instead of sugar important for low carb folks! If low carb isn’t an issue you could use honey or sugar)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup Plain or Vanilla Greek style yogurt (I like vanilla) or heavy cream or even some room temperature cream cheese
  • Aleppo pepper, Turkish red pepper or mild chili powder for garnish.
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, squash, allspice, cinnamon, stock or water, rice, sweetener, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes (or pressure cook on high for 12 minutes in an instant pot).
  3. Using a stick blender, or in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. If you use a regular blender please be careful to fill it only half way. The hot soup has a habit of pushing the lid off and jumping out to splatter all over everything. The NY Times recommends covering the top with a towel and pulling it down tight to prevent this from happening Return to the pot and heat through, stirring. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Swirl a tablespoon or two of yogurt (or other topping) into each bowl and sprinkle with the garnish.

Impeachment Soundtrack

I

There’s a soundtrack to life.
Its rhythm carries the burden of the bending day
Where the sun’s status may lead the way
Or perhaps a news cycle view of justified strife
Or the unconcealed contempt of a president rife
With impassioned control of disconnected smiles
Covering quicksilver thoughts with eyes hooded with guile
The drumbeat of hatred, the resonance of blight,
The monitor casting it’s flickering light
Beats deeply embedded in the artificial glow
Blocking the colors that through studio floor flow
With the crisp wind that blows through the cracked window so bright,
The staccato dissonance fades to a forgettable drone
Occasional interruptions of angry tones,
My own rhythms are dulled, eyes cloudy, head bows
Is this what life has reduced me to now.
The wind picks up and touches my face
I startle and begin to notice my place,
And glimpse a slight feeling that seemed to be dead
My beats should be quicker, the melody strong
No abrasive dissonance nor pauses too long
From a senator's choral defense and dark logic
that obfuscates thought leaving only the dense
sense of betrayal, dismissal, and discord immense.
Again, the breeze shifts and the light patterns swell,
I rise from my stupor and sojourn in hell.
I must move before I sink into numbness filled with disdain
My rhythm must strengthen and my melody gain
My soundtrack must nurture and lead me to fight
rather than suffer the never-ending night.
To fight for tomorrow, to live for today,
to nurture the spirit and allow me to stray
With a spirit still glowing thought beaten today
and the stirring of flights of creative play
I’ll watch history be made on this terrible day.
But I’ll include my own soundtrack and live in the light.
Look to tomorrow and put up a fight.
My beats will be strong,
My voice will be clear.
I will not surrender to sorrow and fear.

Roast Lamb with Herbs & Cream Cheese

R

On a cold winter evening when the world is just…sad there is always good food for comfort. This recipe does it all, and guilt free from a low carb standpoint. Here is one of my favorites. The leftovers from this are awesome in any number of dishes, and it takes only about 1 1/2 hour from start to finish.

  • Butterflied leg of lamb, 3 to 4 lbs
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 to 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C parsley leaves
  • 1 T fresh rosemary leaves or 1 t dried rosemary
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic chopped or pressed
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim excess fat from lamb. In a food processor, purée cream cheese, olive oil, parsley, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and some salt and pepper.

2. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper on both sides, then turn so the side that had been on the bone(this will have an irregular surface), faces up, with the wider end facing you. Smear the surface of lamb with most of cream cheese mixture, then fold it in half so that it fits together with cream chesses on the inside. Tie if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Place lamb in roasting pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until rare (130 degrees) or medium rare (135 degrees).
It is best to have the thermometer inserted from the beginning – do not continually poke any piece of meat you are cooking as it will leave it dry and tougher.

4. Let rest on cutting board for 1/2 the time it roasted (this is good practice for any roasted meat) before slicing. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Too Much

T
Her pain fills my head and turns my stomach.
Her body is scarred
And her soul is being stepped on.
I recognize the symptoms
In this good person, this person so amazing,
the person beside you, exhibiting the oblivious practice of lunacy and cruelty
that accompanies addiction.
My own soul screams with fury
to know that she experiences NOW
the desperation still resident in myself after so many years passed.
Her pain is fresh and worse for it,
Compounded by a body weak and torn
by a sudden barbaric disease
treated with equally barbaric physical loss.
It is wrong. I am angry – so angry
desperate to alleviate the pain impossible to appease.
The physical will pass after a time,
A time too substantial.
Yet the anguish that tears your life from its moorings,
And requires an overwhelming strength and a responsibility of self to break free,
that pain lays minefields in your head and redirects life itself,
it is here and laying lifelong traces.
Now is a terrible time for recognition's appearance and pain's awakening.
Will the body allow her head to enact the motions necessary to save herself?
Will the crushing responsibility of SELF set her free?
Or will it bury her under the debris.
Why now?
And here I am,
Hundreds of miles away again.
Trying to work out what to say, or do, or not do.
What to think, how to help.
The world feels like such an evil and acrimonious place
offering only the feeblest of comfort or hope.
I love her so much.
I would give anything.
I only want her to be okay.
I want to help but am helpless.
I feel it throughout – I know for certain.
It’s too much.

The Silent Window

T
I’ve always thought
that even among the turmoil of the frantic news cycle,
the swirling currents of hatred and despair,
the politics of division
and the policies that contribute in the currency of fear,
hat joy still exists among the sound of birds singing.
Outside my window.
 
I’ve always thought
that in the hardest of times,
while personal reckonings fraught with disappointment
as frustration rises and falls inverse with sleep,
while traveling the most painful of paths
and screaming inside,
that my mind could be eased.
Watching helplessly while one you love most suffers
and steps up bravely to fight for a life so undeserving of pointless disease
I always looked to the clamor of birds
the burp of a frog
and the chatter of insects
Outside my window.
 
But these sounds are dimmed.
The silence of my studio extends to the grass and trees.
The little fountain in the garden babbles stark against the silence
and the ticking of the clock is audible.
It shouldn’t be.
I call out and the world doesn’t answer.
The melody of life breaks through the melancholy of silence less often.
Where do I find comfort as nature too suffers?
As that melody - that constant presence is withdrawn
my soul loses its moorings.
As life’s abundance shrinks under the hot sun.
I listen in vain for that communion so silently missing.
Outside my window.
 
I’ve always thought
that it was never too late.
Yet my instincts sound the alarm that time has become slippery
rendering quick change futile.
Even so it is time for caring and expression,
birdseed, flowers, water, art.
With uncertain success I will try to extend my care beyond the constricted borders
of home and studio.
To nurture what is fading and bring back in however a tiny form
what the world needs…
and I so long for.
The renewed saturation of life and birdsong
Outside my window.

Recent Posts

Had a stroke. Changed my life. Food. Art. Health. Activism.

Delete & Repeat is my artist reflection on living a healthy lifestyle, including creative expression and really good food. Its name is derived from a 2017 stroke that disrupted my life. ‘Delete & Repeat’ became a mantra of frustration for me as I struggled to organize my thoughts and communicate properly.

At the time I was a full time artist working in various new media, happily programming and creating electronic sculpture, interactive video & maintaining a full schedule travelling teaching, and showing.  The stroke effected my cognitive abilities and effectively shut down my career.

It took time and a complete change of lifestyle to recover. Primary to my effort was diet – I undertook a combination of keto with the addition watching inflammation to both lose weight and regain clarity. I added in regular exercise and yoga – and pursued a regular practice of research and learning.

In the food section I will post some of the recipes I live by. These recipes I follow my personal guidelines – they are not all super low carb (I currently stay in a low level of ketosis without the need to actually lose additional weight). In the health section I will include information and links to information that I come accross and see as potentially helpful, as well as things that I believe have helped me including exercise and yoga as well as cognetive practice in research and learning.

I am not a health professional of any sort so please do your own research. Where possible I will notate references.

After several years of effort things are paying off. I’m writing and working again. My art had been paused – it just recently picked back up. I have also renewed my commitment to activism – so important in the troubled world we live in. I intend on helping to right wrongs wherever I can. With my art – and whatever else I can find.

My Name Is Karen

This blog is meant to reflect me as a whole. I choose at this time to not publish my complete name – I’m just not there yet. I need the safety net of anonymity to protect my first real attempts at art again. Just call me Karen, but throw the name’s stereotype out the window. I am simply me.

January 22, 2020