Saturday, December 31, 2022

Heroes, Villains, and Martyrs of 2022

Happy New Year, 2023!

The past year has seen a number of heroes, villains, and outright monsters in the news. In my other blog about heroes my annual post is about a few who stood out, and I'm duplicating this blog post here, with a few additions.

Michigan Local Hero

Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan.

Two retiring heroes, may we long remember them:

Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci
From the Washington Post:

"Dr. Fauci turned into the country’s family doctor, capable of convincing any given president of the correct course of action and then selling the nation on the president’s decision: on AIDS, on bioterrorism, on Ebola and, finally, on covid-19."

From the NY Times:

"In her two decades leading House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has been one of the most powerful and iconic women in Washington. When she was sworn in as speaker in 2007, surrounded by the children of members of Congress, she became the first woman to serve in that post. And over the years, Ms. Pelosi was often photographed as the lone woman in rooms full of men, even after the ranks of Congress became more diverse." 

Hero of the year: Volodymyr Zelensky: May he be victorious in 2023

Monsters and Villains

A quote from Robert Reich:

“Trump, Bankman-Fried and Musk are the monsters of American capitalism – as much products of this public-be-damned era as they are contributors to it. For them, and for everyone who still regards them as heroes, there is no morality in business or economics. The winnings go to the most ruthless. Principles are for sissies.

“But absent any moral code, greed is a public danger. Its poison cannot be contained by laws or accepted norms.” (source)

If only we would be allowed to forget our most terrible and persistent villain whose latest stunts include increased support of antisemites and continuing racism.

"Will Trump finally be held accountable?" By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post, December 19, 2022.

And one accidental martyr who behaved bravely:

Brittney Griner, held hostage by the evil Russians.

New York Times: Most Underestimated

Joe Biden. Again.
This year’s policy wins included the CHIPS Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the first major gun safety legislation in decades, an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act and a law to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. As promised, he put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. And, as the midterms heated up, he kept his head down as the Republicans’ red wave shrank to more of a pink dribble. You have to give the boring, moderate, pragmatic old guy his due. (source)

Blog post © 2022 mae sander

Kitchens in December

For the end of 2022, I’ve done a few wrap-ups on what is important this year in global food issues , in my own travels, and in my observations of street art. Now: Kitchens in December. For several years, I’ve been participating in the fun blog party titled “In My Kitchen,” sponsored by Sherry’s Pickings, a lovely food blog from Australia. Also, each week, Deb at Readerbuzz connects bloggers at her Sunday Salon. I'm linking to these fun blog parties, and I hope their hosts will keep them going in the New Year.

In my own kitchen this month things are pretty quiet, mostly the aftermath of our 11 day trip to the Netherlands for birding and art. And a post-Christmas visit to my sister in Indiana.

Latest Refrigerator Magnets from Holland

Of course I came back with refrigerator magnets, which replaced the former display.

New Cookbook and Tea Towels

New cookbook: Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice. Len is experimenting with Asian cuisines.
Two new tea towels from England, a gift from my friend Sheila.
Godiva Chocolates: a gift from another friend.

Visiting Elaine’s Kitchen

Len brought along some sourdough starter and baked with Elaine.

Elaine made us a fabulous meal of leg of lamb and vegetables.

Some Good Meals from our Kitchen

Mae cooks: roast chicken, eggplant with herbs and garlic,
and steamed broccoli.

Len cooks: fish in red wine sauce, potatoes.

Len cooks: tofu with mushrooms in pomegranate sauce,
stir-fried snow peas with peanuts.

Rice, braised bok choi, and shrimp in tamarind sauce. Also by Len.

Kitchens in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The most famous kitchen: by Vermeer.

Jan Steen’s “Merry Family” — living degenerately in the kitchen!

The two dollhouses in the Rijksmuseum are amazing. Here’s the kitchen in one.

Blog post and photos © 2022 mae sander

Friday, December 30, 2022

Favorite Wildlife, 2022

Birds in Art 

During November & December. 2022, we visited several wonderful art museums where we saw some
great works that included images of birds and other creatures.
Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Crows” is very memorable.

Van Gogh, “Landscape with Rabbits.” Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

“The Goldfinch” by Carl Fabritius in the Mauritshaus, The Hague.
The bird is a captive European Goldfinch.

Birds and Animals in the Wild

We also saw some wonderful birds and other animals while traveling during the last year. Here are just a few of the wildlife images from our various trips during the year.

Arizona, April 2022

American Goldfinch.

Flame-Colored Tanager.

Greenland, August 2022.

Musk Ox.

Whales and icebergs.

The Netherlands, December 2022.

Tawny Owl.

Common Buzzard

Maryland: The Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River, March 2022

Black Vulture

Bald Eagle

© 2022 mae sander

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

“Our Missing Hearts”

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng. Published October, 2022.

This is a beautiful and very sad book about a group of lovable but doomed individuals. “Our Missing Hearts” is a line from a poem written by the central figure in the book. There are many themes in this novel, but a very powerful one concerns the strength of poetry to make people act — emphasizing the force of poetry to inspire people is for me a very unusual idea. 

The setting of the book is the very near future: a dystopian, bigoted, and tyrannical era in the United States, where the government has instituted horrendous control over free thought, free speech, free action, and freedom to read books, with a campaign of posters and super-patriotic slogans that are based on enforced fear and hatred of any Chinese people. Attacks on Asian individuals in the street have become a regular event, with no consequences for the attackers. And anyone who shows any "unAmerican" idea, or objects to the random violence and bigotry is at risk of being persecuted. A major method for suppressing dissent is through official punishment of families — after any accusation or suspicion, children would be removed from their parents and given to foster families without a trace. No due process!

Here’s how one of the characters comes to understand PACT, the (fictional) federal law that mandated this legal kidnapping:

“Gradually she began to understand how it happened. You said something and someone didn’t like it. You did something and someone didn’t like it, or perhaps you didn’t do something and someone didn’t like it. Maybe you were a journalist and you wrote an article that talked about re-placed children, or mentioned the attacks on Asian faces, or dared to question their demonization. Maybe you posted something on social media that criticized PACT, or the authorities, or America. Maybe you got promoted and your coworker got jealous. Maybe you did nothing at all. Someone would appear on your doorstep. Someone called, they’d say, though they would never say who, citing privacy, the sanctity of the system. It only works, they said, if people know they won’t be named. Don’t worry, one of the officers would usually say. I’m sure it’s nothing. Just our duty to check.” (p. 226)

The plot of the novel involves a mother, a father, a boy, and two friends who experience the horrors of this unfortunately plausible American situation. These are wonderfully developed characters, especially the two children, ages 12 and 13, whose empathy and resourcefulness is so skillfully portrayed. 

This book is suspenseful, and rewarding to read, but remarkably shocking to contemplate the way that tyranny could work. Much too close to the bone!

Review © 2022 mae sander

Monday, December 26, 2022

Visiting Indiana

After watching the weather reports for days, we finally decided that it was time to drive to visit Elaine and Larry in West Lafayette. Needless to say, the constantly revised predictions of snow here there or everywhere or nowhere were an agonizing thing to deal with. And in the end, the trip was fine! 

Elaine made blintzes!

Dinner: blintzes with sour cream an fruit; smoked salmon on rye bread (made by Len).

 Blog post © 2022 mae sander

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Polish Christmas Dinner at our Friends’ Home

Our friends once again invited us for a Polish Christmas, starting with delicious fish in aspic.
We have enjoyed this meal with our friends a number of times over the years.

Next: borscht.

… with a glass of wine and some water.

The Polish favorite: bigos stew.

I love poppy seed roll! There was also poppy seed pudding.

Blog post © 2022 mae sander