the end of roe: a day we expected for so long still has the power to shock and stun us

We've been expecting this for 20 years.

More than forty years of anti-abortion legislation, escalating every year and every decade, then Trump, then finally, the leaked draft. 

So I thought I was prepared -- mentally, emotionally. Hell, for more than 15 years I've been saying that Roe is irrelevant for millions of American women

We all thought we were prepared.

We were wrong.

Every progressive person I know, every feminist, every advocate for justice -- every message board, every private Facebook page, everyone -- has said the same thing. We are raging. Grieving. Stunned. Horrified.  

I cannot express how angry I am. I'm far too angry to be eloquent. I'm going to the stupid and lazy thing, and capture my postings on Facebook.

Attribution omitted

I had to take a break from Facebook when I started seeing posts blaming the repeal of Roe on people who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

For sure, voting Americans had a stark choice in 2016, a referendum on Trump or not-Trump. About 74 million voters still voted for Trump, and another 88 million (give or take) chose not to vote. A second Trump presidency was the final nail in Roe's coffin.

But for gods' sake, widen your lens. 

The Democrats caused this every bit as much, or more, than the Republicans. 

One party did everything in its power, on all levels, to chip away at abortion rights in preparation for the eventual repeal of Roe v. Wade. They spent untold millions of dollars, unleashed dozens of strategies. Took over one state legislature after the next. Took over school boards. Stacked the judiciaries. Passed the legislation that led to Webster, Rust, Casey, and Carhart II. They were relentless..

The other party couldn't even utter the word abortion. The Democrats' plan to defend Roe boiled down to this: "You must vote for us, no matter what -- no matter what we do or don't do -- because the other party will take away 'a woman's right to choose'." That was never going to be enough. 

As the Republicans turned increasingly radical, the Democrats became what the Republic used to be. The handful of passionate liberals in the party are accused of class warfare and blamed for the success of the radical right.

Perhaps if the Democrats were interested in something beyond getting elected -- if the party actually cared about defending liberal democracy -- we wouldn't be where we are now. Or at least we would have stood a fucking chance.

How can you defend a right you can't even fucking say? 


rotd: the actual status of the poorest woman is the possible status of every woman

Revolutionary thought of the day:
“The actual status of the poorest and most unfortunate woman in society determines the possible status of every woman.”

From the mission statement of the Illinois Women's Alliance (1888), quoted by Susan Faludi in "Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain With Celebrity Culture. Now It’s Paying the Price"


getting home: horrific customer service from pacific coastal airlines

On the way home, I flew from from San Francisco (SFO) to Vancouver (YVR) on United Airlines, then from Vancouver to Port Hardy (YZT) on Pacific Coastal. Pacific Coastal flies out of a separate terminal, not connected to YVR proper. You need a shuttle or a taxi to get there.

This part was my fault

I didn't wake up as early as I'd like -- very unusual for me -- so I was rushing to get out. In my haste I must have picked up the wrong address on Google Maps. I was driving along when the directions told me to get off the highway and take a detour. I thought there was an accident or some other obstruction, and that Google Maps was taking me on some alternate route to the airport. Bad move.

I followed directions for a while, driving in circles, unable to figure out what was going on, getting more tense as the time ticked away. At one point I got back on the highway, followed directions from a later exit, and found myself back where I had first gotten off. Oh my god.

Now I was flustered. I pulled over and looked at Google Maps on my phone, and realized what had happened. I got back on the highway and drove like hell to the rental car return.

Thus ends the portion of this episode that was my fault. 

Note to United Airlines: Canada is not in the U.S.

At the rental car return, of course there is a huge long line of people returning cars. Nice rental car person checks my now not-quite-full-gas-gauge (from driving around in circles) but says, "OK that's full". Thank you! 

Then he's telling me how to get to the airport -- with a mask, and an accent, and talking fast (because he probably says this 10,000 times on every shift). I had to say, "I'm sorry, I'm not understanding you." After two repeats, I finally got it.

Up elevator, down escalators, through various doors, jump on the air train, get off at International terminal. Can't find United. It is now 7:20. Flight leaves 8:30. Cannot find United. Cannot see flight on departure board. Ask three more people. I'm at Aisle 12, United is Aisle 2. Run. I'm not a runner. Run run run. Almost cannot breathe.

There's a long line, but I cut to the last agent on the counter and ask for help. She decides to take me. Yay!

ID, vaccine check, then wait wait wait. Long wait. She calls over a supervisor. They mutter to each other. I hear the supervisor say, "That's because it's too late, the flight has closed." Oh noooo!!!

I'm like, are you sure, can I run there, etc. Nope, you would never make it, it's in a different terminal. Different terminal? Yes, it's been changed to the domestic terminal. Flight to Canada. Domestic terminal.

At that point I realized that even without the 15 minute detour driving around random San Francisco streets, I would not have made the flight. Damn.

She says I'm confirmed for an 11:00 pm flight, standby for a 7:00 pm flight. 

There are only two flights each day from Vancouver to Port Hardy at this time of year -- at 8:30 am and 3:10 pm. So if I'm on either of those flights, I'm staying over in Vancouver. Which means another hotel, change fee for the Pacific Coastal flight, plus I have work on Tuesday and really want to be home on Monday. 

Then wait, wait, wait, wait... long wait. Agent goes to another terminal, wait, wait, wait, then... "OK, I have you on an 11:05 a.m. flight to Vancouver." I actually said, "I love you." She might think I am a stalker.

Then I walk a long long loooong way to the domestic terminal. The security line is 30 minutes. So there is absolutely no way that I would have made that 8:30 flight, even without my driving screwup. This made me feel better.

The worst possible customer service

My 11:30 flight was on time and I cleared customs with almost two hours (1:45) before my flight to Port Hardy.

Then I waited. Everyone waited. Hundreds of passengers were waiting -- for their luggage. I was waiting at the luggage carousel watching the time tick down, wondering if I was going to miss my flight to Port Hardy. 

(Please don't tell me "This is why I don't check my luggage." That is nice if it works for you. It does not work for me, especially when I travel alone.)

I tried to check in online, but got error messages. The Pacific Coastal website would not let me check in. 

After an hour, I finally got my luggage, and jumped in a cab, arriving at the South Terminal 30 minutes before my flight. 

And I was told that I “missed” the flight because I arrived 30 minutes before the flight, rather than 40 minutes. 

Another passenger was going through the same thing. He was late because the shuttle from the Main Terminal to the South Terminal did not arrive.

The counter agents kept repeating they were sorry, but I would have to fly the following day. It was an issue of “weight and balance”. This is hard to believe, since I had reserved a seat and paid for luggage to be checked – thus weight and balance were already accounted for.

I'll tell you right now. I was crying. I was not yelling – I would never do that – but I was crying and pleading. One of the counter agents laughed at me and mocked me for crying.

And then, while this was happening, I heard the first boarding call.

Yes, exactly no passengers had boarded the plane. 

The counter staff made it sound like the airplane’s doors were already locked – while in fact no passengers had boarded at all! 

The plane is empty, passengers are just lining up to board, I am 30 minutes early, and told I “missed” my flight?! There is no rational reason for this.

Mocking Agent told me he had booked me for the first flight the following day, and said, sarcastically, “The flight leaves at 8:30. Try to be on time.” 

It was not enough to refuse to let me board when the plane is empty, he had to make snide comments, too. A person who sees a customer crying and distraught and chooses to mock them should not be working front-of-house.

Then, Pacific Coastal charged me a $105 “reservation reactivation fee”. 

It took the agent less than three minutes to book me on another flight. And they charged me $105 for the inconvenience and indignity.

And then... they called standby passengers. Seriously. They were able to take a handful of standby passengers, but not two passengers who had reservations and were 30 minutes early, rather than 40 minutes early, because of airport issues.

The terminal was packed and very noisy. I am sound-sensitive at the best of times, but in the state I was in, the noise was unbearable. I went outside, called Allan for the millionth time, sobbing like a child. Then I managed to get a grip, and booked the last room in an airport hotel. 

So in addition to the $105 change fee, Pacific Coastal’s inflexibility also cost me another $325 for hotel accommodations and dinner.

As I said in my complaint letter to Pacific Coastal:

I understand that a 40-minute window for check-in is Pacific Coastal policy. The policy states, “Failure to be checked-in prior to closing may result in the cancellation of your entire reservation.” It may result – not will result. May means it’s a possibility – not a hard rule. 

Since the first boarding call hadn’t even been announced, the staff could have been flexible. They could have acknowledged that I had waited an hour to retrieve my luggage in the Main Terminal. They might have admonished me, reminded me to arrive earlier next time, and then checked me in. It was certainly possible to do.  

It’s not like I had cut it close, showing up a few minutes before takeoff. Nor was I late because of negligence or poor planning. Those 10 minutes were completely out of my control.

To refuse a customer who is 10 minutes late, through no fault of their own, then charge them a “reservation reactivation” fee, and force them to spend the night in a hotel and fly the next day, and to mock them in the process, is some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. 

If another airline served Port Hardy, I would certainly never fly Pacific Coastal again. Much to my dismay, I will have no choice to continue to use this airline – which is why your staff can get away with this terrible customer service.

I'm not expecting much in the way of response, but I'll let you know what happens. 


can you give a few dollars to help a giver in need?

From a wmtc party: clockwise: P, Chelsea,
Jericho, Diego, Kim, Tala.

Some of you may recognize an occasional wmtc commenter "Dharma Seeker". Dharma Seeker -- whose name is Kim -- is a terrible situation right now. One of her dogs has been stolen, she will soon have nowhere to live, and her car has broken down.

I have organized a fundraiser in her behalf.

I  have known Kim since 2007, when she answered my ad for a dogwalker and we instantly became friends.

Kim is a steadfast protector and defender of animals. One of my treasured memories of Kim is when my partner and I were getting ready to say goodbye to our dog Cody. Our other dog, Tala, was very sensitive, and not used to being alone. I asked Kim if she could come over and walk Tala while we took Cody to the vet this one last time. Kim lived 30 minutes away. She dropped what she was doing, drove over, picked up Tala's leash and went out walking. Just like that. That's the kind of person she is.

Kim started a pet food bank, so people in crisis wouldn't have to give up their animals. She did this completely on her own -- she saw a need and she took action. 

She has given so much to the world, especially to animals and the people who love them. I'm hoping some of that giving can come back around to her.

Like many people, Kim struggles with mental health issues. She has had challenges over the years in finding stable housing for herself and her dogs and cats, but she has never, no matter how difficult the situation, given up on an animal.

This year Kim found herself in an abusive living situation. There was verbal, emotional, and physical violence. (This was not from a partner.) One day Kim came home to find an empty crate. Her housemates had taken her beloved dog River. They have refused to say what they did with him or where he is. Can you imagine such a nightmare??

Now Kim has nowhere to live, doesn't know where her dog is, and on top of all that, her car broke down -- the car she may soon be living in. Social services are working on finding her pet-friendly housing, but that may take months. Kim has missed a lot of work from the stress of this ordeal, and is worried about retaining her job.

Kim needs $1500 for car repairs, and if we could get her an additional $500 she could have a tiny bit of security until social housing comes through for her. Any amount will help. $5 - $10 - anything. It will all help and be deeply appreciated.

Go here to donate. 

Thank you in advance for your generosity.


the day in the oakland area

[Written after being home for a week.]

On the way out of Shelter Cove, I stopped at the general store, just to see it. It is tiny. And it is the only store in town. 

After that, back on the long and winding road, ending at Highway 101. From there, I drove south to San Pablo, in the East Bay, outside of Oakland and Richmond. This portion of Highway 101 doesn't have spectacular views, but it was still scenic and relaxing. 

I had booked a little Airbnb a few blocks from where another nephew J, his partner C, and my grand-nephew (now five months old) live. (The nephews and nieces and partners I visited are my brother's adult children; my sister's adult children live in New York State and New Jersey.)

I had approximately the same amount of time in San Pablo as I did in Shelter Cove: dinner and the evening, a full day, then leave the following morning. J, like me, is an intrepid urban explorer and tour guide, and he showed me several really interesting spots in the Richmond-Oakland area. Previously I had been to Oakland for baseball, but hadn't seen anything else, so this was a real treat. Here are some highlights.

Point Molate is one of many "points" in the East Bay, little peninsulas that each have their own character. That character is often very pricey real estate and upscale shopping. Point Molate, however, is completely undeveloped. 

The area has been the subject of a decades-long, ongoing land dispute. (A series of articles on Point Molate's "unique and colorful history" begins here.) While the land is being fought over, it's been left wild. There are miles of hiking and bike trails, with some interesting landmarks: abandoned, boarded-up barracks, and Winehaven Castle, a fortress-like brick complex that was once the largest winery in the country. The empty buildings give the area a haunted, dystopian look. (In this aerial view, the barracks are on the right, the fortress on the left.)

At the very tip of the peninsula is San Pablo Harbor, a tiny, funky outpost of counterculture. Floathouses and sculptures constructed for Burning Man share the space with a flock of goats and a "pirate" barbeque joint. On the weekends there is live music. The website makes it seem more developed and commercial than it looks -- but also has great video views, if you're interested.

These are some not-very-good cell phone pics of San Pablo Harbor. As I've mentioned, I purposely didn't take our camera on this trip, but I did occasionally miss it!

The pirate himself, at the smoker

Later in the day, this time with C, we walked around Lake Merritt, a human-constructed lagoon in downtown Oakland. From the LakeMerritt.org website:

Lake Merritt in Oakland, California is one of the most unique urban spaces in the United States. Its three mile shoreline in the center of an exceptionally diverse city is a special place where nature and nurture migrate and mingle daily. This tidal lagoon is home to the United States' oldest designated wildlife refuge dating from 1870. 

If you love cities and public space, this is an amazing place. On our three-mile walk around the water, we passed a huge drumming circle with all manner of percussion; a long row of vendors selling Caribbean food, crafts, and mushrooms; boat rentals; gardens; lots of birds (herons, egrets, pelicans, several different kinds of ducks); a nature centre, and lots more. It was super interesting. (Also super sunny, and for the second time on this trip, I wasn't wearing sunscreen. After my sunburn in Shelter Cove, I meant to buy some... but did not.)

Earlier in the day, J and I also stopped at the site of a former factory that has been brilliantly converted: the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, now a National Park Service site. It's used for performances, craft fairs, and all kinds of cultural events. While we were there, it was the finish line for a community 5K.

The giant building is adjacent to Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front, where the Rosie the Riveter concept and image were born! We were too early to tour this, but it is absolutely on my list for the next time I'm in the Bay Area. 

We also had a great breakfast in Berkeley, and Ethiopian food, a mainstay of Oakland, for dinner. This was in a neighbourhood that J and C used to live in, now clearly a hipster haven.

The biggest highlight of San Pablo -- Asher, my grand-nephew -- was with us the whole time, world's happiest and most chill baby. In keeping with my work on being more comfortable sharing photos of myself, here you go.

I've also added more pics to the post about Shelter Cove.


the day in shelter cove

View from Wedding Point, Shelter Cove
Yesterday was amazing and so special.

My niece E took me on a tour of the little community and local topography. We went to lookout points and beaches; saw seals lazing in the sun, sea lions throwing back their heads and barking, and a few whale spouts; took a few short walks. 

We saw all the local spots. A little volunteer-run library that looks and feels like a used bookstore -- really well organized -- and they have storytimes! The three restaurants in town -- two only open on weekends. The little general store. An abundance of natural beauty that is just off the charts. All of this in a 5 or 10 minute drive from their home. In fact, we stopped at the house for a quick lunch -- homemade, organic, vegan, and delicious -- on the deck, then resumed our tour.

I purposely didn't bring the camera on this trip, but I did take a couple of quick cell-phone pics. Unfortunately and not purposely, I forgot to pack sunscreen and am now quite red. I don't normally let that happen, but oh well.

We had dinner at the one open restaurant with some family of T's that lives in town. They were super friendly, warm people, and it was a treat to meet more of E's world. The restaurant has -- of course -- a spectacular ocean view. After dinner, E, T, and I stayed up late talking, which was really fun, and a great opportunity to get to know T better. This is a beautiful home filled with so much love.

It was so wonderful to spend the day with E. It's been many years since we've done that, and we are as close as ever. So much love. 

Here are a few more cell-phone pics from Shelter Cove. They're not very good, but the scenery is very forgiving!

Today I drive to the Bay Area!


greetings from shelter cove, california (look it up!)

On the 101
I am at the home of my niece E and her partner T, in a remote part of California known as the "Lost Coast". It is so beautiful and peaceful and quiet here -- not unlike where I live. The Lost Coast has much in common with the North Island, more like living in Port Alice or Quatsino than what most people associate with California.

So, to catch up.

* * * *

I had an easy trip from Port Hardy to southern Oregon. It's a multi-stage journey, and everything clicked. 

I spent the next four days hanging out with (in various combinations) my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, nephew's partner, grand-niece (now 7 years old), and mother (soon to be 91) -- eating amazing food, drinking in amazing scenery, soaking up the love.

It was especially wonderful to get to know my grand-niece Sophia a bit more. Seven is a magical age, and I really enjoyed her company. I hope that, despite being long-distance, I am able to cultivate a relationship with her as time goes by. I had a special relationship with a great-aunt, and I'd love that to be part of my life and Sophia's.

My mother is declining. She is in very good physical health, but her cognitive health is beginning to fail. Or more accurately, the decline that has been happening gradually over years has accelerated. So far, with the ongoing (and often heroic) efforts of my brother and SIL, she lives independently. We monitor, and discuss, and wonder when that will no longer be possible. It's sad, but it's not tragic. She has a very good quality of life and seems very happy.

* * * *

I stayed in Ashland/Talent for four-plus days, then yesterday I drove six hours to Shelter Cove. The drive itself is a highlight of this trip that I was really looking forward to.

I picked up Highway 5 in the Medford area, following it west to Grant's Pass, then drove the length of Route 199 from Grant's Pass to Crescent City, California. 

The road snakes through deep forest and mountain passes, touching tiny, remote communities. I passed quirky folk art, myriad cannibis sellers, and several flags from the "State of Jefferson". I stopped in lovely, quiet rest areas and ate at shaded picnic tables, checking my progress on the posted maps. 

After the road crosses California's rural and remote far north, it meets the ocean at Crescent City. From there, I followed the famed US Highway 101 -- called, depending on where you live, 101, The One-Oh-One, the Pacific Coast Highway, the PCH, Pacific Highway, or the Freeway (and maybe some other names I haven't run into). Allan and I have driven this coastal route several times -- including once the entire length from the Olympic Peninsula to Mexico. But no matter, there is nothing quite like arriving at the Pacific. It is always majestic and breathtaking. I stopped several times for views. 

The 101 snakes through redwood forests -- giant, old-growth trees growing right beside the roadway, on both sides, giving the drive a sense of mystery and wonder.

At Redway, I left the 101, and drove a long, windy road full of switchbacks, hairpin turns, and sharp changes in elevation, for about a hour, before arriving at Shelter Cove. Check it out on Google maps. It is indeed the Lost Coast.

My niece and her partner live a low-impact life in this remote coastal community. After a vegan dinner, we walked less than five minutes down the street and watched the sun set on the ocean. On the way back we saw fox and skunk. 

This morning we ate breakfast on the deck, where you can hear the sound of the surf, and with a view of a beach and the King mountain range.


if you're going to live in a small town, it's good to find one with an airport

I'm grateful this tiny airport exists!
Today begins my solo trip to visit family in Oregon and California. I'm super excited! Traveling from Port Hardy, here's what it entails:

  • Fly from Port Hardy to Vancouver. The plane is tiny and the view is spectacular.
  • Stay overnight in an aiport hotel in Vancouver.
  • Fly from Vancouver to San Francisco, and San Francisco to Medford, Oregon.

Travel is very different when you don't live near a major airport! And I'm also traveling to a town without a major airport. The way home is less complicated, because I'm flying from San Francisco -- SF to Vancouver, Vancouver to Port Hardy, in the same day, without staying over in Vancouver.

I'm not complaining! I love travel and I'm always happy to be going anywhere. Unlike many people, I don't even hate air travel. Travel = good.

I'm very happy there's a small airport in town. Otherwise it would take an entire day of travel to get to Vancouver: drive for five hours, arrive at ferry at least an hour in advance, then a two-hour ferry. Then a bus or cab to the airport. 

This is a strictly family-visit trip, in keeping with my intention to only travel to visit friends and family for some years.