Wearing a mask

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I’m not particularly religious but I have enough Methodist left in me to have taken John Wesley‘s most famous aphorisms to heart:

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

And that leads me to wearing a mask in public. While I walked on the beach at Gulf Shores at sunrise on Saturday without one, I put one on before I entered the grocery store and kept it on until I finished my errands and headed home.

I’m not a brainwashed fool. And the people I’m listening to aren’t fools either.

The World Health Organization cautiously recommends using a mask in conjunction with other preventative actions while staying aware of the risks of cross contamination, etc:

Wearing a medical mask can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. However, the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection. Other measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene should be adopted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings:

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Louisiana Public Health recommends masking up:

Heck, even the White House requires all staffers entering the West Wing to wear a facial covering and, in the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, states:

  • Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit.

Wearing a face covering does not require a surrender of your civil liberties. It isn’t a yellow star or a pink triangle and a grocery store refusing to serve someone because they won’t wear a mask isn’t discrimination. All this fighting about a “right to not wear a mask” just results in the further spread of a deadly virus across our country and around the world.

We know coronavirus spreads through the air by droplets from someone who is coughing, sneezing or even talking within a few feet away. Anecdotal reports hint that it could be transmissible through particles suspended in the air. A choir practice in Washington State in early March had dozens of people diagnosed with or developed symptoms of COVID-19 even though they had not shaken hands or stood close to one another and at least two of them died. After dining at an air-conditioned restaurant in China in late January, three families at neighboring tables became sickened with the virus—possibly through droplets blown through the air.

Wearing a mask in most non medical situations isn’t to protect healthy wearers from COVID19 – it’s to keep people with the virus from spreading it to others. A significant number of infected individuals remain asymptomatic – from 25%, 44% or 50% depending on the study. With all those potential carriers walking around with no idea that they are transmitting the virus, erring on the side of caution and wearing a mask seems like just common sense.

A new poll from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project finds 71% of those surveyed said they are worried that the social distancing restrictions are being lifted too quickly. Speaking as someone with vulnerable people in my life, I’m less inclined to go out and spend the money we need to restart our economy without some assurances that I won’t be bringing the virus back home to my parents. Requiring people to wear a mask seems like a simple step so we can reopen America.

For my Second Amendment friends: If you support open carry so that you are ready to stop a bad guy with a gun but you won’t wear a mask to stop a pandemic from spreading, it shows me you aren’t really concerned about protecting the people around you. Let us unite against a common enemy that is killing us – as of May 19, there have been 317,910 worldwide deaths of which 89,248 are Americans.

You want the economy and society to open back up?
Wear a mask.

You don’t want to live with permanent stay home orders?
Wear a mask.

You don’t want everything to close back up again in 2-4 weeks when new cases go through the roof and the death rate rises catastrophically?
Wear a mask.

Please wear a mask. It is quite simply the least you can do to help keep other people safe and healthy.

I pledge to wear my face covering to protect you and I beg you to wears yours to protect me.

Please. Wear a mask.

April 16-30 Coronavirus Journal

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Situation Summary: A new study out of New York tested more than 200 pregnant women admitted for delivery in two hospitals for coronavirus, whether they showed symptoms or not. Thirty-three women tested positive, but 29 of them showed no symptoms. Over the last week of April, the US only averaged 220,000 tests a day, according to the Covid Tracking Project, which gathers state data. While that is an improvement from the earlier weeks in the month, when the US averaged around 150,000 tests a day, it still far short of what experts say is needed.

April 16 – US 667,801 with 32,917 deaths. Louisiana has 22,532 confirmed cases with New Orleans at 5847 cases. Alabama has 4,345.

Went grocery shopping. I just went to Publix today and there were very few people wearing masks in the store.

Made red velvet cupcakes, as tomorrow is my birthday and I didn’t want to cook then. Recipe here.

The IWO board met via conference call.

April 17 – World cases reached 2,224,426 with 153,177 deaths. US confirmed cases reached 692169. Louisiana has 23118 cases with 5906 in New Orleans.

I helped Dad get his boat back in the water. He always takes it in for a spring checkup and no virus was going to stop him.

Sister and her husband came over with fried chicken for dinner. They immediately took a shower before even greeting anyone.

April 18 –

I enjoyed driveway cocktails with some of the neighbors. We petted dogs and bemoaned the lack of presidential leadership.

April 19 – 6000 confirmed cases in New Orleans, 23928 in Louisiana.

For breakfast, I made sausage gravy and biscuits. Recipe here.

I used my day’s sourdough starter discard to begin a new batch for a family friend. I sterilized all my equipment – bowls, measuring cups, containers and then fed theirs and mine. I drove it to their house and hope they’ll enjoy using it to bake lots of delicious bread.

April 20 – US confirmed cases are now at 766212 with 40995 deaths, Louisiana cases are at 24,523 with New Orleans at 6148. Alabama’s confirmed cases are 5055

April 21 – US has 804,194 confirmed cases with 43,006 dead. 6169 cases in New Orleans. Louisiana has 24,854 confirmed cases.

I got up early so I could make a run to the Foley Wal-mart. There were only about 100 people in the store with me with 4 register lanes open (plus the self checkout). I was able to get supplies for my family and one of their neighbors and get out about an hour. Some of that was searching for unfamiliar brands. I’d say about three quarters of the folks in their had masks. Most were being respectful of the 6 foot social distancing.

It was still stressful and I took a nap after I returned home and took a shower.

April 22 – US has 823,367 confirmed cases with 45,548 dead. 25258 cases in Louisiana with 6209 cases in New Orleans. 5495 cases in Alabama.

We held the IWO board meeting via zoom.

April 23 – Worldwide there were 2,659,557 confirmed cases with 185,494 deaths. US cases are at 843,981 with 46,859 deaths. Louisiana has 25739 confirmed cases with 6263 in New Orleans. 5703 cases in Alabama.

Made a seven layer dip for dinner. Recipe here.

April 24 – There have now been 50,312 US deaths with 875,566 confirmed cases. 26140 confirmed cases in Louisiana.

As my sister wasn’t feeling well, they stayed home tonight. Instead, I used some of my sourdough starter to make pizza for lunch. As the dough makes two pizzas, I divided it and then made pretzels with the second half of the dough. Very yummy.

I saw a smaller heron at the bulkhead and when I walked toward it with the camera, it jumped onto a stump and posed for a picture.

April 25 – 2,887,194 worldwide confirmed cases with 202,168 deaths. The US has now had 933,836 cases with 53289 deaths

For breakfast, I made a blueberry sourdough coffee cake. Recipe here.

For lunch, I made cast iron skillet, oven fried chicken. Recipe here.

Mom and I finished another puzzle. Very red!

April 27 – There have now been 3,033,626 confirmed cases worldwide. 983,892 cases in US with 55,592 dead

April 28 – US has reached the horrible milestone of 1,008,471 confirmed cases with 57,979 deaths

I worked with the accountant for the rental property to get the Schedule K completed. Luckily, she was able to figure out what I had forgotten to include and, with a little back and forth, everything was reconciled and the taxes were completed.

I also made an almost no knead sourdough bread. It wasn’t good enough to blog about, so I will try again in a couple weeks.

April 30 – the US death toll has now reached 62,545

Took my dad to the dermatologist to get cancerous legions removed from his back. While he was in the doctor’s office, I went to Publix and bought groceries and then sat in the parking lot and read on my kindle. More people with masks and much better at social distancing.

They believe they cut out all the cancer but we will go back on May 12 to have a further check.

April 1-15 Coronavirus Journal

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I started writing a journal about what I’m seeing in the news, how local, state and world leaders are responding, how my family, friends and I are dealing with this global crisis. The history of the public health emergency is out there but we need to make sure our individual stories are told as well.

CDC’s COVID-19 webpage
WHO Coronavirus webpage

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Situation Summary: In December 2019, Chinese health authorities identified an outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel, or new, coronavirus which has resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China. The first US death was at the end of February, 2020. On April 1st, the US recorded 4476 deaths.

April 1 – 203,608 cases in the US. Of that, 6424 cases were in Louisiana and 2270 of those cases were in New Orleans. 1060 cases in Alabama with 20 cases in Baldwin County.

Made meatloaf with ground venison as Dad was out of ground beef. As venison is quite a bit leaner than beef, I made a panade to keep it moist. Recipe here.

April 2 – Louisiana cleared a backlog and jumped to 9150 cases with 310 deaths. Alabama jumped to 1251 cases with 32 deaths. Total US cases are 236, 339. Worldwide, the number of confirmed cases is now 1,002,159 with 51,485 deaths.

Went grocery shopping for the month. I started at Rouses and Wal-Mart in Gulf Shores, went by the credit union, then to Publix and Target. Dad found a sale for diet cokes so I went out to Winn-Dixie and Family Dollar after a shower and a nap. I took another shower when I got home.

I prepped the strawberries I bought for macerating and use in strawberry shortcake this weekend. Recipe here. I also prepped the dough for sandwich sourdough bread for my niece.

April 3 – New Orleans cases 3476 with 148 deaths. Louisiana cases 10,297 with 370 deaths. Baldwin County is 28 cases. Alabama cases 1535 with 38 deaths. US cases 276,995 with 7406 deaths.

Spoke on the phone with the IWO president about how we are going to handle voting for officers at the annual meeting which, according to our bylaws, is held in June. The program chair is looking for a local speaker so we might switch to an electronic or vote by mail. If the nominations committee can get a slate by Mid-May, we can send it to the membership with a request for additional nominations. At the end of 7-10 days, send out ballots to the membership for a vote due by a date in June. That way, our meeting will not have that business and anyone who is unable or unwilling to attend a large gathering still gets their vote recorded.

The plumbers came over to fix a valve that kept sticking and shutting off the hot water. While they were here, I got them to be witnesses on my advance directive for medical care, as I forgot to bring my forms over with me when I came. I confirmed that my parents, sister and girlfriend all either have or will fill out their forms.

I’ve done the dough for the sourdough sandwich bread and it is on its final proof in the loaf pans. Recipe here.

My sister and brother-in-law came for lupper (later than lunch but not quite dinner) around 3pm. Wayne had done a Boston Butt on his smoker and I made seasoned baked French fries.

The Alabama governor finally did a stay-at-home order, effective tomorrow at 5pm.

April 4 – US numbers rose to 301,902. 12496 cases in Louisiana and 3966 cases in New Orleans. In Alabama 1633 cases with 29 of them in Baldwin County.

I went with my sister and brother-in-law to their house for breakfast. Mom was running out of cigarettes so I needed to make a run to the tobacco store for her and the store is near my sister’s house. On the way home, I stopped by a bloodmobile bus in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot and tried to give blood. They took one look at my Louisiana license with its New Orleans address and turned me away. This despite me being away from there for 14 days and having no fever or cough.

Is New Orleans drivers license the new scarlet letter?

I read a Washington Post article – The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged

Absolutely devastating how badly things were botched

Some of it:

The CDC learned of a cluster of cases in China on Dec. 31 and began developing reports for HHS on Jan. 1. But the most unambiguous warning that U.S. officials received about the coronavirus came Jan. 3, when Robert Redfield, the CDC director, received a call from a counterpart in China. The official told Redfield that a mysterious respiratory illness was spreading in Wuhan, a congested commercial city of 11 million people in the communist country’s interior.

Redfield quickly relayed the disturbing news to Alex Azar, the secretary of HHS, the agency that oversees the CDC and other public health entities. Azar, in turn, ensured that the White House was notified, instructing his chief of staff to share the Chinese report with the National Security Council.

…Trump was not substantially briefed by health officials about the coronavirus until Jan.18, when, while spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, he took a call from Azar.

 

…On Jan. 22, Trump received his first question about the coronavirus in an interview on CNBC while in Davos. Asked whether he was worried about a potential pandemic, Trump said, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. . . . It’s going to be just fine.”

April 5 – Worldwide cases are at 1,263,976. US cases are at 331,234. 13101

I made sausage biscuits for breakfast. Buttermilk biscuits paired with rounds of bulk sausage and a little grape jelly. I even had one biscuit with sourwood honey Mom brought back from North Carolina.

Played with some sand dollars I had left here. Cleaning them up and then thinking about how best to use them. I talked to Mom and she pulled out a number of bags of macramé supplies she has. I’m thinking of doing a wall hanging. Dad pulled out a broken windchime and I think I’ll use some of the cool wooden beads from Mom’s macramé stuff to make a replacement.

The sand dollars needed cleaning, so I put things on hold while they dry from their bath.

We had leftover shish kabob meat, so we made fajitas for dinner. The margarita I had with them made them taste extra good.

April 6 – US cases are at 362,759 with 10,689. Louisiana 14,867 with New Orleans cases reaching 4565, Alabama 1999.

I started the day playing with the sand dollars and some macramé from Mom. Dad pulled out several large driftwood pieces that he said I could use. I laid everything out and think it is going to look pretty cool.

The more I looked at it though, the more I realized I need more sand dollars to attach the sets of four to each other. Good thing I have a large jar filled with sand dollars at home. I took it apart and set it up to take it back with me to New Orleans.

I started to work on the windchime when I got a phone call.

The regularly scheduled pest spraying happened at the rental property. The tech saw a squirrel scamper down the power line and into the attic. On an inspection, he found 7  holes. My renters have never mentioned hearing animals or scurrying in the attic but I believed him and authorized him to put up barriers and traps. That cost $350.

I began paying my bills online. I tried to go online for the Sewerage and Water bill but needed my account number and meter number to use the online system. I called customer service but because I didn’t know the PIN number, she wouldn’t give out the info. I then called again and got into the automatic system. Seems that accounts are tied to my cell phone number. I was able to pay both bills, although the payment plan we were on for the rental property was not recognized so I had to pay almost $2000 on that bill. While I know that the Mayor has said that no power or water will be shut off during the crisis, but I can’t take the risk that my renters would be without water during this crucial time.

That meant I had to have Dad transfer money into the account and I then had to drive to the Regions branch and deposit a check to cover the expenses we hadn’t budgeted for. On the way home, I saw that Wal-Mart was selling gas at $1.62, so I filled up Mom’s car.

April 7 – US cases 398,809 with 11,830 deaths. Louisiana has 16284 cases with 583 deaths. 4942 cases are in New Orleans. Alabama is 2197.

My niece came over to print out patterns for facemasks and to borrow mom’s sewing machine.

I tried to take pictures of the supermoon but it was too cloudy.

April 8 – 404352 cases in the US. 17030 Louisiana cases, of which 5070 were in New Orleans

Forum board meeting via zoom. My parents DSL went out so I could only join by phone. We discussed some of the nuts and bolts of the organization but mainly checked in with everyone to make they were well and taking care.

April 9 –  452,582 cases in US. Louisiana 18283 with 5242 of those in New Orleans, Alabama cases2769

April 10 – 475,749 cases in US. Louisiana has 19252, Alabama 2999

April 11 –526,396 cases in US. 20041 in Louisiana and 5535 in New Orleans

April 12 – US cases hit 530,200 with 20,614 deaths

2017-2018 season, saw 61,000 deaths were linked to the influenza virus. The 2018-2019 season’s seen 34,200 flu-related deaths. Those are deaths over the course of the year. COVID19 deaths in the US are just from the first case in March.

April 13 – 5600 cases in New Orleans, 21016 in Louisiana

April 14 – 5718 cases in New Orleans with 276 deaths. Louisiana 21518 with 1013 deaths. Alabama 3953 with 114 deaths. US 594,207 cases with 25,402 dead.

The WHO posted a strategic preparedness and response plan that outlines the public health measures and takes what we have learned so far about the virus and translates that knowledge into strategic action that can guide the efforts of all national and international partners when developing context-specific national and regional operational plans.

April 15 – US cases now at 614,482 with 27,085 dead. Louisiana cases are 21,951 and Alabama cases are 4149.

I made pork schnitzel and scalloped potatoes.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has extended the stay-at-home order to May 16. Here is the proclamation.

 

March 16-31, 2020 Coronavirus Journal

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Situation Summary: On March 16, 2020 the White House issued a Coronavirus Guidelines for America. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the stock market as the Dow recorded its worst one-day point drop in history. The human toll of the virus continues to grow – more than 4,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States and 88 have died. Globally, the death toll is just over 7,100.

March 16, 2020 – 136 cases in Louisiana, 94 in Orleans Parish (with 3 deaths) and 16 in Jefferson Parish

I started the day by contacting the store managers of the Macy’s stores in Baton Rouge and Metairie to see if the hours had changed or if there were other things I needed to know before going to them this week. They said they were going on a conference call today to hash out details of their response. We’ll see if I’m driving to Baton Rouge tomorrow.

It was then time to gather up my financial documents for the rental place and scan them all in so I could send them to the accountant to the do the taxes. As I need a Schedule K to do my taxes, I always try and make an appointment to do TGG Enterprises tax prep in the middle of March. Debbie is working from home, so getting everything to her electronically actually helps.

I reached out to the tenants and spoke to both of them about their situations and decided to forgo any rent for April. We will revisit in May but I will talk to my dad about waiving May rent, too, should the stay-at-home order continue.

I made chicken salad for lunch and pulled aside some sourdough starter for more bread baking.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (which has failed us badly in the past with water pressure and breakage issues) released a statement that the water was safe. EPA has confirmed that the sanitizing done by the City is sufficient to protect it from viral contamination.

My Barbara’s Bookstore boss let me know that the Philadelphia Macy’s store was to be closed until the end of March and that they wanted me to not go to Baton Rouge for the next couple of weeks. Then, there was a press conference by Mayor Cantrell where she spoke about more aggressive measures to stop the spread, including closing movie theaters, malls, gyms, bars, casinos, etc.

The IWO board agreed to cancel the March 21st Candidate Forum and Endorsement meeting and move it to May. We held the meeting by conference call as we didn’t want to disobey the social distancing directives.

March 17, 2020 – 171 cases in Louisiana, 136 in Orleans Parish, 4 deaths. 5894 cases nationwide

For St. Patrick’s Day I drove over to my parents in Alabama. We had corned beef sandwiches and I went through their pantry to go on a food and staples run for them. Alabama has only had 39 cases, most in the county in and around Birmingham. My parents live in Baldwin county and it only has one case so far. My plan is to hit the grocery stores and bank for them tomorrow so they can go thirty days without leaving home. They are both in their mid-70’s and mom is a lifetime smoker who is very susceptible to bronchial issues in a good year.

I heard from my publisher, Bella Books, that they are significantly reducing staff in the warehouse (down to one person every day). Those who can are now working from home. They are going to have a St Paddy’s day sale today to help people stuck at home with nothing to read a boost but they were informed by Amazon that they are pausing any ordering or fulfilling for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products. On a positive note, Ingram says that they are well positioned to fulfill any Amazon orders direct to consumers once Amazon starts to order again.

All of the Macy’s stores are closing at the end of business today, so I that means no work at all for me until the end of the month, as most of my nonprofit clients are under shelter in place orders (California) or facing the same strictures I am here.

I also learned that our tax preparer’s husband, Billy, is in the East Jefferson hospital with pneumonia. Keeping a good thought for Debbie and her family.

I may stay for longer than planned at my parents, as it isn’t like I need to be in New Orleans now that my work is closed through March and, likely, most of April, too.

March 18, 2020 –7323 cases in US. 46 cases in Alabama, only 1 in Baldwin County, 280 in Louisiana with 196 in New Orleans with 7 dead

I went shopping today to Publix, Wal-Mart, CVS, Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly. Some places were out of flour, low on meat and out of bread, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. I got everything on my parent’s list but rubbing alcohol and sanitizer and am glad I remembered to bring my toilet paper from home when I came. I also ran by the credit union to deposit money from Mom to my niece who has been laid off.

I was amazed at how courteous folks were being – lots of excuse me, please and thank you. This is definitely time to give the hardworking folks at grocery and convenience stores who are dealing with same stresses but are still having to work full shifts in front of the public.

All the stores had wipes available at the entrance, so I was able to wipe off the cart handle to begin and clean my hands as I left.

I was reminded by a friend (and fellow introvert) to check on our extroverted friends during this time of crisis. All the social isolation and event cancellation must be hitting them hard. I won’t go crazy and call but I can text and check in online.

Speaking of online, I’m seeing a whole of people posting about Facebook sending notices about posts being removed for not meeting community standards. One of mine, about Octavia Butler books being published by the Library of America, was reported as well. I appealed and the post is back.

Who has the time for that nonsense?

I came home and brought stuff to the door before I removed my shoes to come in and washed my hands. After helping mom put everything away, I showered and changed clothes. Not sure if I’m keeping them from getting exposed but I’m doing my best.

My uncle and his wife came over that evening for drinks and appetizer. They are from the northern part of the state (with the most cases) and with heart and health problems, coming to their beach house was a pretty good plan.

March 19, 2020 – 249 cases in New Orleans. 392 in Louisiana with 10 dead and 78 cases in Alabama.

First day of spring and the earliest spring in 124 years. I saw a cottontail rabbit in the front lawn and took a picture.

Dad went out fishing with his brother and a couple of his friends that came down from the north of the state. Most of the fish they caught were too small and under the limit, so he left the ones they could keep with his brother for them to have for dinner.

We’ll have some fish from last year’s fishing trip for a meal once the fillets thaw.

Learned that one of the first people I met when I moved to New Orleans Corinne Barnwell’s husband has been admitted to the ICU for pneumonia. The Rev William Barnwell is an amazing activist for racial justice and I’m keeping him in my thoughts.

March 20, 2020 – 326 cases in New Orleans with 10 dead. 537 in Louisiana with 106 cases in Alabama.

Gulf Shores is closing their beaches today. The state of Alabama still hasn’t but, then again, neither has Florida. This means parking lots controlled by the city and their public beaches will be closed.

I had a conference call last night that started about the Louisiana legislative session which has been temporary adjourned until March 31st. As more people talked about their organization’s (and personal) difficulties the call became more supportive than advocacy. There still is plenty to do to protect our democracy and ensure that free and fair elections still go on as well as to protect women who may be in isolation with their abusers and to address the digital divide that keeps some children from being able to keep up with online schooling.

My sister and her husband came by with a couple of pizzas they picked up from Pizza Hut. We ate and then sat around chatting on the back porch as the sun went down.

March 21, 2020 –22043 in US with 763 cases in Louisiana with 20 deaths, 131 in Alabama. 418 cases in New Orleans

Made blueberry sourdough pancakes (recipe here- https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/02/23/blueberry-sourdough-pancakes/)

Did some more bird watching and took this picture of a red bellied woodpecker.

March 22, 2020 – 30,788 in US, 837 cases in Louisiana with 20 deaths. 451 cases in New Orleans, 15 have resulted in death. Alabama has 138 cases

Dad and I enjoyed oven baked fish with cornbread. The mackerel was basted in lemon butter sauce. He also made coleslaw and had some peas but I didn’t have any of those although I did have 3 pieces of cornbread. Recipe for the cornbread here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/one-fish-two-fish-fresh-fish-good/

March 23, 2020 – 1172 cases in Louisiana, 567 cases in New Orleans, 196 in Alabama, 33404 cases in US

I pan fried pork chops and made gravy and biscuits to go with them. Excellent comfort food.

One of the ospreys that is nesting nearby used one of the pine trees in the yard as their base for hunting.

I think it was a young bird as it took a while before they caught a fish. I was lucky to catch it flying off with dinner with my camera.

March 24, 2020 – 675 in New Orleans with 26 dead, 1388 in Louisiana, 242 cases in Alabama, 52145 US cases with 544 dead

My dad went to a doctor’s appointment over in Florida. It was the final one after his back surgery last year. He did get a final set of physical therapy appointments from it, so that was good but I’m not sure when the physical therapists will be able to see him.

I was able to convince him not to go grocery shopping although he did hit the Class VI store at the Pensacola Naval Air Station to pick up 4 cases of beer. He has his priorities, after all.

March 25, 2020 – 62,873 confirmed cases in US with 894 dead, 1795 in Louisiana with 827 cases in New Orleans, 386 cases in Alabama

I woke up and started venison tenderloin, mushrooms, bell pepper and onion in a marinade for us to have shish kabobs for lunch today. I then headed down to the boat launch on the far side of the neighborhood and birdwatched for a while. I saw white egrets, a great blue heron, a couple of pelicans, a million seagulls and a porpoise.

Dad went out for a physical therapy assessment that took a little over two hours and left him wrung out. Upon his return, I made him immediately take a shower. I then wrapped his clothes in the bathmat and washed a load. I’m not taking any chances, even though there are only 4 cases in Baldwin county.

In the evening I had a conference call with the Executive Committee of the Forum for Equality and we decided to make sure thank yous went out to all the donors and attendees of the recent legislative event and to do a check in with all members of the Equality Club. Instead of the usual board meeting next week, we will do a check in with the board by video conference to keep everyone up to date and engaged.

Our best case scenario is that the two really horrible bills already filed (and the other two being threatened) are not bought up in the shortened session that could be reconvened before the end of April (although we think it may be put off to May). After hurricane Katrina, the session focused on recovery and budgeting issues and we’re hoping that the members have the same mind set post-COVID19. However, with the last of the term limited legislators out of office, we’ve seen more and more ideologues who may not care for focusing on recovery and instead try to push their partisan agenda. We have to have our eyes on the session and be ready to act immediately to stop those bad bills.

March 26, 2020 – 80,021 confirmed cases in US with 1,136 deaths. 466 in Alabama, 2305 in Louisiana, 997 in New Orleans

I got up early again to head to a location across Wolf Bay where I was hoping to catch some pelicans. Unfortunately, it had a big gate so I couldn’t go exploring. I went instead to a boat launch in Miflin but the fog made it hard to see any birds. I could hear them, though. I did take one picture.

There had been a bit of an odor outside bedroom window where I’m staying and I showed my Dad how the area near the septic tank was flooded and the standing water was bubbling. He was able to get a guy to come out and look at the pump. He will return tomorrow with his guys to replace it.

March 27, 2020 – Alabama cases rose to 639 with 3 deaths, 1170 cases in New Orleans and 2746 in Louisiana with 119 deaths. Cases in the United States rose to 101,657 with 1581 deaths. 579 cases in Mississippi

Started the day waiting for the septic tank pump replacement. It was quite the incredible smell, as Han Solo would say once the workers opened the tank for emptying. The weight difference from a pump installed in 1993 and fixed about 10 years ago and the replacement was astonishing – the guy in charge says it will lift as much liquid as before, maybe even more.

The Facebook and Twitter timeline was full of the ‘gotcha’ type interview Wolf Blizter did with Mayor Latoya Cantrell, trying to blame New Orleans for being an epicenter on Mardi Gras. What the news seems to forget is that the President of the United States was still downplaying Covid-19 at that time. The first Louisiana case wasn’t identified until 9 days after Fat Tuesday (Feb 25).

Considering how quick the Mayor was to cancel St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (and how quick people were to pooh-pooh her actions at the time), it is infuriating that she was supposed to know more than the Federal Government and anticipate how bad things were going to get. Trump’s tweet from the day before Mardi Gras Day was: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

You don’t hear anyone going after CPAC event which ran from February 26-29 or the Florida governor who didn’t shut state beaches until March 19 (after most spring breakers returned home to infect their colleges). Heck, Disney didn’t close their parks until March 13th!

My sister and her husband came for dinner. I made 2 sourdough crust pizzas (recipe here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/cast-iron-skillet-sourdough-pizza/) I made one a mushroom pepperoni and the other a green pepper and onion plus mushrooms and pepperoni. Everyone raved about it and we ate all but 1 slice.

I found out from a friend that William Barnwell has died of Covid-19. My deepest condolences go to Corrine.

March 28, 2020 – Louisiana cases hit 3315 with 137 deaths. 1298 cases in New Orleans with 70 dead. Alabama has 668 cases with 3 deaths. 6 cases in Baldwin County. 663 cases in Mississippi with 13 deaths.

I went out early with my sister and her husband to putter around Wolf Bay in my Dad’s boat. It is charmingly named “At Ease” as he was a career military officer. We saw heron, pelicans, thrush, osprey and seagulls during our morning cruise.

For lunch I made Greek souvlaki with tzatziki. I love firing up the grill and the pork loin cooked pretty quick on indirect. Recipe here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/greek-gyro/

I was grilling barefoot and stepped on a coal – ouch! I filled a cooler with ice and water and shoved my foot in it while the meat cooked. At least I had prepped everything else (the pita bread, cherry tomatoes, onions, etc) so it wasn’t much for my folks to do to bring it together.

It is my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary. They sat on a porch for a while talking about the passage of time and then sat down in front of the TV for an all-day ‘Mythbusters’ marathon.

March 29 – US cases 142,106 with 2479 deaths

The first US death from coronavirus was on February 29th. The 1000th death was on Thursday, March 26th. The 2000thdeath was yesterday, 48 hours later. That is exponential growth.

I started the day by watching the sunrise on Wolf Bay.

Then, I got up and made sourdough pecan waffles for me and my parents. Very yummy. Recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/sourdough-chocolate-pecan-waffles/

After breakfast, I recorded a reading from my last novel, Bitter Heart, on Soapbox. Of course, I was forced to shower and put on a nice shirt first! The organizers at Saints and Sinners have requested it. The Literary festival had to be cancelled but they’re now offering readings from the authors who were scheduled to attend (plus links to buy the books from a local bookstore, Tubby and Coos Mid City Book Shop).

March 30 – 159,184 cases in US with 2945 deaths. In Louisiana, we saw a jump to 4025 cases of which 1480 cases are in New Orleans. Alabama has 907 cases of which 17 are in Baldwin County.

Mom and I finished a 1000 piece puzzle of rainforest animals that she started before I arrived so more than 2 weeks to put it all together. What a challenge!

For lunch I made a chicken and mushroom pot pie using some BBQ chicken I found in the freezer and picked off the bone. Recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2019/08/18/skillet-chicken-mushroom-pot-pie/

Dad had physical therapy but this time, he didn’t complain when I made him immediately take a shower and gather all his clothes together for washing. I think the increase of Baldwin County cases are making him take notice – or maybe it was the death of Joe Diffie, a country music singer that he has always liked.

Their next door neighbor called that he was watching two eagles fly overhead so I went out. They were too high up to get a good picture but hypnotic to watch. After, I went and took some pictures of some of the azaleas my dad has cultivated. This one is a native honeysuckle azalea, known as Flame.

March 31 – US has 174,467 with 3416 deaths. 1834 cases in New Orleans, 5237 cases in Louisiana, 974 cases in Alabama

I started the day by making cake donuts (recipe here https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/national-donut-day/). I made several with a cocoa cinnamon sugar (3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon cinnamon whisked together) and the rest with cinnamon sugar. Dad wants me to make them again with blueberries.

I have now been in Alabama 14 days. It looks like I’ll be here for another month.

 

 

 

March 1-15, 2020 Coronavirus Journal

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Situation Summary: By March 1, 2020 the outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel, or new, coronavirus had resulted in thousands of confirmed cases across 60 countries with the global death toll reaching 3,041.

The Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 webpage only updates their information once per day based on data received by 4pm the previous day, so I’ve been getting daily data from other sources

For the global picture:
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 Map
Washington Post’s Mapping the Worldwide Spread of the Coronavirus
For state/local information:
Louisiana Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
New Orleans information from Ready.NOLA.gov.
Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

March 1-7, 2020 No cases in Louisiana

I started the day having to deal with a plumbing issue at the rental property Dad and I own in Gert Town. I got the repairs guys working on that and replacing the bathroom door that had swollen up from the flooding and replacing all the molding. I’m not sure they entirely fixed the problem that existed from before we bought the property in 2013 but we’ll go in and check it weekly to make sure the repair holds.

I went to the Lakeside mall to fix up the Macy’s store book displays and headed home by way of the gas station as I’ll be heading out of town tomorrow and I wanted a full tank to start the drive.

Forum for Equality held a fundraiser/legislative event that evening with local politicians to talk about the session. It was held in a beautiful mansion on St Charles Avenue.

I helped set up and worked the door, getting people signed in and getting them name tags as well as catching up with everyone I hadn’t seen in a while. There were a couple of mentions of the coronavirus but we were all hugging and kissing our greetings as we talked about the importance of defeating a horrible anti-trans bill and getting our own employment non-discrimination bill passed in this year’s Louisiana legislative session, which begins on March 9th.

The next morning, I headed with Michelle over to my parents’ home in Foley, Alabama.

That evening I watched the US Women’s National Team play England in the She Believes Cup. The US women (and reigning World Cup Champions) won 2-0.

I voted for the Ann Bannon popular choice award and Tee Corinne award for excellence in cover design for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Goldie Awards held during their annual literary conference. I bought my ticket to the conference last year and made hotel reservations and I’m really hoping that the July 6-12 conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico is able to go on as scheduled.

My sister and her husband came over on Friday, March 6th for Happy Hour bringing with them pizzas from Pizza Hut. We sat on the porch and chatted for a while after dinner.

On Saturday, March 7, Michelle and I went to Waterfront Rescue to see if the thrift store had anything fun. Michelle bought a lamp she can fill with Mardi Gras beads/doubloons plus a video game console. Afterwards, we did some Shopkicking in Walgreens and bought some raisin bran muffins at Public. Then we went to the Foley Railroad Museum and the Model Train exhibit before joining my sister at the Copper Kettle for tea and scones. This is a very intimate little tea shop with lots of knick knacks on the walls and quilts used as tablecloths. My sister and I shared a chrysanthemum blooming tea that was as beautiful as it was delicious.

That evening I grilled steaks and baked potatoes and made a spinach salad for mom, dad, Michelle and myself. I had a bit of trouble choking on the meat so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

March 8, 2020 – US reports 539 cases across 34 states with 22 deaths

On Sunday, Michelle and I were joined by Kathy and Wayne plus Kathy’s daughter, Kim, and her three kids (Dani, Michael and Xavier) for a chilly, sunrise walk on the beach at Gulf Shores State Park by the Pier.

We even saw an eagle flying!

Michelle and I swung by Publix for snacks and shopkicking on our way back to my mom and dad’s house.

I watched the US Women play against Spain in the She Believes Cup and win the game 1-0 because of some simply awesome play by Julie Ertz (she also scored in the 86th minute). Of course, we find out US Soccer sent a letter the day before the game making an offer for equal pay but only for matches under its control.

It was tacos for dinner!

March 9, 2020 – first case reported in New Orleans, Louisiana

On Monday, Michelle and I left early in the morning and drove on I-10 and I-65 through Mobile to get onto Highway 98. We got gas in Semmes, Alabama before stopping at the Wal-Mart in Petal, Mississippi. We shopped there before going to E&B Discount Grocery Store and then hitting another Wal-Mart in Hattiesburg. For lunch we went to Panera Bread for soup (baked potato) and sandwich (turkey and avocado BLT) for me and sandwich (chipotle chicken) and mac & cheese for her. We stopped at Ollies for some pots for plants and other bargains. After getting some gas at Keith’s we went to her house in Seminary, Mississippi and unloaded the car of her stuff and repacked it with my stuff. That evening, we went to her Aunt Sue’s house for dinner with her mom and dad and older brother, Bo. Smoked chicken and spaghetti.

March 10, 2020 – 2 more cases in New Orleans, six cases total in Louisiana

I drove from Michelle’s house in Seminary, Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana using the backroads of Highway 84 to Brookhaven before taking I-55 south. I then took I-12 to Airline Highway and got gas at the Wal-Mart and then went to the Mall of Louisiana. I went into Best Buy for Shopkicking and spent about 45 minutes in the store scanning products. There were just five people in the store, including myself, who weren’t employees. The Macy’s store was very quiet as well. I made sure to wash my hands well once I was done with the books before I headed back to New Orleans.

I also posting a blog post I had worked on over the weekend about my opposition to two horrible anti-trans athletes bills. LA SB 172 and LA HB466 are bad for kids, bad for anyone who supports Title IX and horribly intrusive. The link to the blog post is https://marygriggs.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/filling-the-unforgiving-minute/

I get home to news that in a court filing, US Soccer wrote that the men’s team carries more responsibility and that “indisputable science” of biological differences means women should be paid less because the men’s team “requires a higher level of skill.” Such bullshit and it was released the day before the US women face Japan in the final game of the She Believes Cup.

March 11, 2020 – There are now 13 cases in Louisiana of which 10 are in the New Orleans area

WHO Director General declares COVID19 a pandemic with 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people dead.

I went to the Lakeside Mall’s Macy store for work on Wednesday. They had obviously been busy over the weekend as the kids section was a mess. I was able to quickly fix everything then I washed my hands before heading over to Target – all the Purell, Clorox and other cleaning supplies were out. Lots of empty shelves downstairs but the food section on the second floor was full, so I got some snacks and headed home.

I learned on Facebook that a local retirement and assisted living facility, Lambeth House, has a case of coronavirus. Two very good friends, Jody Gates and Marilyn McConnell (and another friend Regina Matthews) all live at Lambeth House. I’m worried about them but Jody says CDC is on site and they are staying in their apartment as much as possible.

Later that evening I was on a conference call with the Legislative Agenda for Women for the Equal Pay Lobby Day. Every year, women’s and progressives set up events on a date specifically chosen to represent the additional 62 days from the end of the previous financial year that women have to work to earn the same as men. This year, that date falls on March 31st. I made the suggestion we take it virtual and the group agreed to do virtual advocacy (with or without the in-person event) contacting each organization’s own members to ensure they know their legislators, and send emails, faxes, tweets, and make calls to legislators about Equal Pay Day and the bills that are relevant to pay inequity and economic security.

The US Women won against Japan (3-1) but I missed the game as I don’t have cable anymore and I didn’t want to go out to one of the bars I usually go to (Rusty Nail or Bayou Beer Garden) to watch it with the increased number of coronavirus cases in the city. I was gratified to learn that several of the sponsors (Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Visa, Volkswagon, Allstate and Secret) all condemned US Soccer’s legal filing and most said they planned to meet with the Federation to discuss whether or not they’d be continuing.

March 12, 2020 – Two cases of coronavirus in Tennessee and 1 in Arkansas have possible links to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/2-tennessee-1-arkansas-case-of-coronavirus-came-after-visits-to-mardi-gras/289-83032172-03f7-4bad-b214-7ef2b5057fd6)

I spent most of the morning repotting my succulent plants and planting the camellias I got from Dad. I had brought a 5 gallon bucket of compost back from Michelle’s house that I mixed with the dirt I had so I was able to repot a cactus from my sister Kathy into 6 pots, plus divide a huge aloe into 5 pots and a number of others that needed dividing or replanting after our warm winter.

I received an email from the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival that they were going to cancel the event, scheduled for March 27-29. I had signed up to participate on a panel titled Writing In and Across Genres: Pushing Against the Stereotypes. Rick Reed was to moderate Alex Meyers, Elliott Foster, James K Moran and myself. I’m disappointed not to see my all my writerly friends and attend the panels but, better to be safe than sorry.

I read an article about the heartbreaking decisions Italian doctors are being forced to make with more patients than they have ventilators or hospital beds. I wrote on Twitter – Canceling parades and large events, closing schools is all to slow the spread of #COVID19 and to keep it from overwhelming our health care system. Be patient and maintain social distancing. Do it for those more vulnerable than you. Do it so our doctors don’t have to make these decisions.

I was so sore from all the bending and crouching, that I took a long soak in a bubble bath that evening. I used a new one to me – Dr. Teal’s Glow and Radiance with Vitamin C and Citrus Essential Oils foaming bath with Epsom salt. Very orange – it smells like I mugged a Florida fruit stand.

US Soccer canceled all the upcoming men’s and women’s teams matches for March and April. The USWNT was scheduled to play Australia and Brazil in the lead up to the Olympics. There were going to be 6 matches in total but the others hadn’t been announced yet. The USMNT had games scheduled in Wales and Cardiff.

March 13, 2020 – There are now 26 cases in New Orleans, 36 in Louisiana

State of emergency declared in New Orleans and Louisiana. All public schools in the state closed, limits placed on all gatherings of 250 or more.
(https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/mayor-cantrell-joins-governor-edwards-to-update-ci/). White House declares national emergency.

I started the day laughing at an ABC News/Ipsos poll that still had 43% of Americans approving of the way President Trump has handled the crisis. I wasn’t aware there were so many door knob lickers out there but things are divided along partisan lines with only 17% of Democrats and 44% of Republicans not concerned about getting the coronavirus. Quite a spread. I wonder if the virus will run rampant in the MAGA crowd, since they don’t seem to be caring about it yet.

Today was a cooking day. I started by pulling out some sourdough starter and feeding the mother. I plan to make a focaccia for dinner tonight and so I left it on the counter for a while to develop a sponge.

I then made a batch of Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies – deeply dark with chocolate that is brought out even more with a pinch of flake salt on the top. Recipe here (https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/chocolate-pecan-truffle-cookies/)

As the cookies were baking, I began making chicken stock for soup tonight. Once the stock was fragrant and the chicken cooked, I strained out the solids and let it cool to bring the fat to the top. Later in the day, I made a Lemon, Chicken and Rice soup that was truly awesome (recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/lemon-chicken-and-rice-soup/). To go with it, I made a garlic focaccia with the sponge I started earlier.

About midday, I had a long phone call from an organizer friend, Lynda Woolard. During our wide-ranging conversation, I learned the Louisiana Secretary of State was going to delay the April 4th primary election (and presidential primary preference vote) for at least two months to June 20th. The runoff would be held on July 25th. I sent an email with a link to his statement to the IWO board and this set off a firestorm of emails as we had been in the process of cancelling our Candidate Forum and Endorsement meeting scheduled for March 21st. We finally ended up scheduling a conference call on Monday, 3/16 to discuss it.

I learned at the end of the day that there are now 8 confirmed cases at Lambeth House. I’m worried about my friends but Jody says that they’re taking turns walking up and down the staircases for exercise and the weather has been good, so they’ve spent a lot of time on their balcony.

The US Soccer president, Carlos Cordeiro, resigned effective immediately following the furor over the legal filing. Forum USWNT player Cindy Parlow Cone will take over as president until the next meeting (Feb 2021) when they vote to fill the remainder of his term. She is the first woman to be US Soccer president and the second national team player in that role.

March 14, 2020 – 77 cases in Louisiana, 53 in New Orleans, first fatality in New Orleans.

I went to the Jefferson Highway Wal-Mart at 6:30 am on Saturday. The parking lot was full and the store had only been open for 30 minutes. I filled up on gas (only $1.88/gal) and went in the only door that was open. The grocery side aisles were full of desperate people panic buying everything. Virtually no cleaning products left, especially those with bleach. Very little left on the shelves anywhere. I went into the pharmacy side for alcohol and they only had 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide left on the bottom two shelves.

I received two deliveries – one from Amazon on a replacement egg/mushroom/strawberry/spam slicer and 9 inch lazy Susan and another from Bass Pro with some pants I ordered back in January. I had the Amazon gal and USPS carrier just leave them on the porch and opened them out there and immediately trashed the packaging.

I used the lazy Susan in my cabinet reorganization with a set of Spicy Shelf Deluxe U shaped shelves I installed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve now got more my spices displayed and it is amazing how much room I have in there and on the counter now. If nothing else, my social isolating is helping me clean up the house!

There was a big St. Patrick’s gathering on Magazine Street at the Tracey’s Irish Bar in defiance of the requests to limit large gatherings. I’d say anyone who gets sick from being that stupid, it is their own damn fault but the issue is not so much them getting sick but transmitting it to others. I’m taking Dr. Graham Medley (Professor of Infectious Disease Modeling) advice: “Most people have a fear of acquiring the virus. I think a good way of doing it is to imagine that you do have the virus, and change your behavior so that you’re not transmitting it.”

I filled out my 2020 Census online. It is really important we all do so Louisiana gets its fair share of federal funds and ensure political representation at all levels of government is fairly allocated.

I read the historian Heather Cox Richardson’s column (subscribe here) regularly but today’s really resonated. From it:

“The fight over whether to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously, as well as the administration’s inept handling of it, is the outcome of forty years of assault on the American government. Since 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for office on the warning that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” Republicans have made war on the idea of an expert bureaucracy in charge of our government.

Over the years since, Republican leaders have continued to cut taxes, regulations, social safety nets, and infrastructure, all in the service of shunning socialism and promoting individualism. Whatever needs to be done, businessmen can do it best, they say. Government bureaucrats are inefficient and wasteful.

We have decimated our government bureaucracy and expertise, slashed taxes and the social safety net, and crippled our infrastructure, all in the name of promoting American business and the individualism that, in theory, encourages economic growth. The president, along with his enablers in the Senate, have tried to cement this ideology onto the country through the courts.

And now, the coronavirus pandemic is putting their system to the test. So far, it is failing miserably.”

March 15, 2020 – 2nd fatality in New Orleans, 75 cases in New Orleans, 103 cases in Louisiana, 2952 cases in US, 57 deaths nationwide.

WHO reports worldwide there are 153,648 cases in 146 countries or territories with 5746 deaths.

I woke up this morning to see that the New Orleans Archbishop sent out word that the obligation to attend Mass has been dispensed for the next 30 days. He ended the letter with “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!”

During the day I got a visit from my friends Charlotte and Thomas after their Costco run for her to drop off yarn for Michelle and for me to give her an aloe plant I repotted plus some of the cookies I baked.

Shared with me on Facebook was a resource guide for activists, organizers, and others who are looking out for the community through personal preparation, collective care, mutual aid and advocacy. Link to the google document here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dpMzMzsA83jbVEXS8m7QKOtK4nj6gIUk1U1t6P4wShY/edit?usp=sharing

CDC is now saying gatherings of 50 of more should be cancelled for the next 8 weeks. They’re advocating social distancing through early May.

At the Democratic Debate Sunday night, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders went head to head in CNN’s studio instead of in front of a live audience of 5,000 as originally planned. They had an elbow bump instead of a handshake. Biden promised a female running mate

February Coronavirus Journal

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I saw a post on Twitter about starting writing a journal about what we’re seeing in the news, how communities are responding, how you and your friends are dealing with what is becoming a global crisis. The history of the public health emergency will be written but many personal stories will not. It is especially true that women’s letters and journals are sometimes the only way we learn the real information of their lives.

Here is my small effort. I’m starting in February, 2020 and plan to continue monthly as things develop. I will publish the previous months journal during the following month.

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Situation Summary: In December 2019, Chinese health authorities identified an outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel, or new, coronavirus which has resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. CDC’s COVID-19 webpage has the most up to date information.

February 5, 2020 – 11 cases in US, none in Louisiana

Daily data is coming from Ready.NOLA.gov.

On Friday, February 14 (also Valentine’s day), I attended the League of Women Voters luncheon event on Gerrymandering over in Metairie. We heard from Senator JP Morrell on the importance of citizen engagement on all aspects of the redistricting process, starting with the Census2020. I attended with several members of IWO and we gathered for a picture as lunch was being served.

IWO members Clay Latimer, Lisa Manning Ambrose, Anita Zervigon, Leslie Bouie, Rosalind Cook, Julie Schwam Harris and I (peeking over the back)

That evening, I went to two parades mainly because my friend, Charlotte, was riding in Cleopatra. I saw Oshun and Cleopatra from the intersection of St Charles Avenue and Marengo Street, meeting up with Thomas after Cleopatra had begun to roll. I’m attaching a pic of her float.

My sister, Kathy, and her husband, Wayne, arrived later that evening to stay through the weekend and go to parades. Wayne made omelets for Saturday’s breakfast and I grilled ribeye steaks for dinner that night. After a very rainy Sunday morning where we all lazed around the house, I took them downtown for the Krewe of Barkus festivities and we had homemade lentil soup (recipe here) for dinner. They left on Monday morning.

On Mardi Gras Day (February 25), I walked out to the Rex parade along Napoleon Avenue but didn’t go to any other parades that day.

That evening I did my annual tweetstorm about the meeting of the Courts of Rex and Comus. It is a hilarious way to end Carnival Season by roasting the ‘royalty’ and the fawning reporting from the local PBS station that shows the event live while we locals take to the hashtag #RexComus and live tweet our snark. Some people make a drinking game out of it but that could lead to alcohol poisoning. Others play BINGO. I made it to the dancing heads around 10pm and called it a night.

February 27, 2020 – 60 cases in US (most from Diamond Princess cruise ship), none in Louisiana

On February 29th, I attended a legislative event at the Broad Theater with IWO, a Democratic Women’s Organization.

Nakita Shavers, Jacqueline Brubaker and myself

We had over 150 people in attendance, including a busload of young women students from Florida to hear legislators speak about their agenda for the upcoming Louisiana Legislative Session.

Representatives Jason Hughes, Matthew Willard, Mandie Landry, Candace Newell and Senator Joe Bouie

The national numbers of coronavirus cases went from zero to 60 pretty fast and the next month shows no sign of slowing.

Filling the Unforgiving Minute

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The title of this piece comes from the final stanza of the Rudyard Kipling poem If

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if—

Growing up, sports were a huge part of my life. I started playing soccer at age 6 and only retired as I approached age 50. I also competed in gymnastics, track, golf, tennis, equestrian gymkhana and shooting events.

The many lessons I learned on athletic fields have served me well in life.

Lessons about teamwork, fair play, and setting and achieving goals. The most important might have been after I played against those who were stronger, more powerful and better skilled — as more of my character was revealed by how I handled a loss than how I celebrated a win.

I don’t discount other tangible benefits I gained from sports. Beyond improving my general health, my active youth helped me become more comfortable with my developing body. Being physically fit helped me have the energy and mental focus I needed to get things done off the field, too.

I’ve found lifelong friends among my teammates and competitors. Some of my best memories are of the enormous fun I experienced playing games and the places I went and people I met while doing so.

So, when I tell you that everyone should have athletic opportunities, I know what I’m talking about. In fact, I believe we should be expanding rather than restricting access to sports.

That’s why I’m opposed to Louisiana Senate Bill 172 and House Bill 466. These bills are before the legislature this session and would ban transgender students from participation in school sports.

The misnamed “Save Women’s Sports Act” doesn’t do anything to protect students from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity. You can tell this because the very groups that have been in the trenches, fighting for equal justice issues for women and girls oppose these bills. As a point of fact, I belong to two of the almost twenty women’s organizations who penned an open letter to the bill’s authors expressing their opposition. From the letter:

SB172 and HB 466 violate the basic rights of young transgender Louisianans, expose the state to expensive litigation and economic pressure, and attempt to police gender norms in a manner which distracts from the genuine crises facing women and girls in the world of athletics while violating their privacy.

Let me address some of the reasons that are given by supporters of this harmful legislation, a similar version of which was just passed by the Arizona House of Representatives.

The biggest argument comes from the theory of scarcity, which argues that trans athletes are taking a spot away from someone else or there are only so many opportunities for girls and women to play at the top level or there are so few scholarships handed out making it unfair to allow trans athletes to compete.

People are right to worry about sex discrimination in sports but transgender athletes are not why there are inequalities in opportunities and allocation of resources for girls sports.

The premise that trans athletes will outperform their peers is not supported by the evidence. It just isn’t true that everyone assigned male at birth is automatically bigger, faster and stronger than anyone assigned female at birth. The playing field is not entirely level. There will always be those blessed with physical and mental abilities beyond one’s ken. I was a good soccer player but I was no Michelle Akers or Marta. Should they be penalized because they were so much better at the game?

Speaking from my own experience, there were no girls soccer teams when I moved to Georgia in the late 70’s and so I petitioned to play on the boys teams. Well into high school, I could outperform many of my opposite sex age mates and, when I lost that extra step, I could still beat many of them with craftiness and experience. Should I not have been allowed to play the game I love simply because there wasn’t a girl’s team?

Expanding opportunities and resources so everyone can play seems a far better solution.

Advantages in sports also go beyond physical prowess or skill. Some students have wealthy parents who pay for private coaching, strength training and summer camp. Should those athletes be put in a separate league?

Let me be clear. I ❤️ Title IX. This federal law outlawed gender-based discrimination for federally-funded education programs and led to the creation of college teams in a myriad of sports, which in turn spurred the creation of elementary and high school teams.

Title IX gave me opportunities to compete at a higher level than I ever could before. I started college where there wasn’t a women’s soccer team but was able to start one with a Title IX challenge. By my senior year, as a result of my efforts off and on the field, I received a scholarship for athletics and was recognized as an Academic All American.

Title IX also gave me a chance to see women compete in sports traditionally denied to women and girls. Women athletes fought for inclusion at every level, pushing schools until there was enough interest and public support to make the concept of professional women athletes seem common place.

While we still have ways to go (like getting equal pay or equal media coverage for women’s sports), we can’t move forward by putting barriers to the athletes coming behind us.

The echoes of those early fights for equality in athletics are being seen again today with transgender athletes. They are competing in the category which best fits who they are and we need to honor their willingness to step out and try.

Another argument against trans participation comes from the horrible canard that you can tell by looking at someone what their gender identity is.

We really saw a lot of this during the Cold War with the gender policing of Eastern European women athletes because they weren’t feminine enough to be ‘real women.’

I hated those arguments as I’ve always had short hair and small breasts and proudly wear the label tomboy. I have also experienced the humiliation of being pulled from women’s restrooms because I didn’t fit someone’s judgement of my gender.

Try to imagine how traumatizing it is to be pulled aside because someone didn’t think you belonged on the field and demanded you show chromosomal or hormonal proof or submit to a physical genital examination to prove your bonafides?

Do you realize how easy it would be for a competitor or opposing coach to make such an accusation to explain their loss? There is enough bad sportsmanship out there already without weaponizing sports against anyone who is gender non-conforming.

These hateful bills by Senator Mizell and Representative Amadee create a test for establishing sex using four characteristics (internal and external reproductive anatomy, testosterone levels, and genetic analysis), which can then be used to bar transgender people from appropriately gendered teams and leagues.

That isn’t fair and it certainly isn’t equal. I advocate for equality for all women, not just a certain type of woman, not just for those who pass or don’t challenge gender stereotypes or societal conceptions of properly feminine behavior. 

The most pernicious argument about trans participation is the one about how unfair it is for men to compete against women in sports. Sometimes added to this is the need for safe spaces in locker rooms and restrooms.

The tired old myth of burly, bearded predators of vulnerable girls has been used as clickbait by the Alliance Defending Freedom in their many attempts to restrict bathroom access. They try to use fear and discomfort with the Other to justify their hostility and distortions of science and the law.

In actuality, trans students have more to fear from their peers when it comes to being bullied, harassed and sexually assaulted while trying to use the restroom that best matches their valid identity. Almost 60 percent of transgender Americans have avoided using public restrooms for fear of confrontation, saying they have been harassed and assaulted.

Cisgender boys are not trying to sneak into girl’s sports to try and dominate the competition. Further, transgender participation hasn’t led to a surge in transgender girls and women winning national championships. Most trans athletes perform within expected ranges for their age and gender identity. It is highly unfortunate that the few transgender girls and women who have achieved some level of sports success have faced backlash instead of celebrations of their victories.

Trans girls are girls. Period. Misgendering transgender youths is an attempt to erase them from public life and is an attack on the basic dignity and humanity of transgender students.

I really wish women’s rights activists would stop repeating the talking points of the religious extremists. Please trust me, if the people aligned with you on this issue are not the ones who are aligned with your other core issues, then you need to consider getting better friends.

We should be wary whenever an alleged concern for “protecting” us is invoked to justify our exclusion from something. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago the idea that physical exertion would harm women’s reproductive organs or that women’s bodies were inherently inferior was used to “protect” women out of participation in marathons and contact sports.

41 percent of transgender folks consider suicide because they aren’t allowed to be their true, authentic selves and the daily discrimination they endure. Subjecting transgender student athletes to added barriers against full participation in sports, from onerous medical requirements to segregation in locker rooms to outright bans on their participation, serves only to deepen the harm to their physical and emotional wellbeing.

There is so much to be gained from participation in sports. To deny those benefits to transgender students is not feminist, not legal, and is just plain wrong.

Let them play, Louisiana. Let them play.

 

Protecting You and Your Neighbors on November 16

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Voters in Orleans Parish will have the opportunity on November 16 (or, if they’re early voting from Nov 2-9) to add an amendment to the New Orleans City Charter to create a Human Rights Commission.

Ballot language for HRC Amendment – Art. V, Secs. 5-1101 through 5-1103 – CC:

Shall Article V of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to add Sections 5-1101 through 5-1103 thereto to create a local Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals in the City of New Orleans from discrimination and to exercise all powers, duties, and functions provided by applicable state and municipal law?

Currently, New Orleans has a Human Relations Commission, established by ordinance in 1991. We should be rightly proud of a forward thinking City Council that created this advisory body to prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. Unfortunately, though, because of a court injunction, the existing ordinance has no process for enforcement. It means that if a resident has experienced discrimination, their options are to file an expensive lawsuit on their own or navigate a complex patchwork of federal and state enforcement bodies.

Louisiana state law (LA Rev Stat § 51:2236-2241 (2017)) allows cities to create a local human rights commission. Such a commission would provide a single place for New Orleanians to file discrimination complaints. State law outlines the administrative process, so complaints can be investigated and, many times, resolved through mediation and education instead of through expensive litigation. Should the arbitration not resolve the issue, a charter-recognized commission would be empowered to draft a finding of the violation of law and send it to Civil District Court for enforcement.

I support creating a Human Rights Commission in the City Charter because I believe doing so will better protect residents from discrimination and strengthen the New Orleans’ human rights laws.

For those who scoff at the need for such a commission in this day and age, I believe even a single discrimination complaint is a stain on New Orleans reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to visit or to stay. In fact, the 2018 Annual Report of the Human Relations Commission reports 25 discrimination complaints, clearly showing why we need to create a commission that can investigate, mediate and resolve discrimination complaints.

To those who fear additional litigation arising from this amendment, human rights commissions can often resolve discrimination complaints before they get to court, providing businesses and employers with an option to address issues and receive training.

I urge you to vote yes for the Human Rights Commission Amendment on November 16 to protect your rights and those of your neighbors.

Toward that end, I’m working with the Greater New Orleans Human Rights Coalition (www.gnohrc.org) for passage of this important ballot measure. Individuals, activists, business groups, LGBTQ organizations and civil rights groups all have stake in this initiative. Together, we can help safeguard everyone who calls New Orleans home.

Further information on this and other ballot measures is available from ActionNewOrleans.

Storm Prep Tips on Katrina’s Anniversary

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It has been 14 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall and just a few days before Hurricane Dorian comes ashore in Florida. Over the past few years, I’ve collected some tips on storm preparation that some might find helpful. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments, as we learn best from each other.

Let’s start with that old joke about not being able to boil water – if true, New Orleans may not be the best place to live. We spend lots of time making our water holy by boiling the hell out of it and that is outside of storm events!

Under a boil water advisory, you want to make sure you boil tap water for 1 full minute – start your time after the water is boiling. If using unsafe water, boil for at least 10 minutes or chemically disinfect it by using 5 drops of liquid household bleach to each gallon of water and let sit for at least 30 minutes for disinfection to be completed.

Take a good volume of clean water and freeze it. I use two five gallon containers and freeze one a few days before the storm for transferring to the fridge before landfall (or before going to bed when the storm is about to hit) and then putting another in its place to freeze. It will keep the fridge cool plus give chilled drinking water as it melts. I also use frozen water bottles to fill every nook and cranny in my freezer so that things will stay colder longer.

Plan on enough water for you and each of your family members, including pets, for a minimum of 72 hours. That is about 1 gallon per person per day for three days. I stock up on bottles of water that go on sale immediately after the last emergency. Restock your bottled water once per year.

As there ain’t no party like a hurricane party, stock up on the adult beverages, too. Beer is good to have on hand but it isn’t particularly good warm, so it will need to be consumed first. Then, be sure to have the makings for mixed drinks. Consider making a vat of hurricanes or other themed drinks. Just scale up from this recipe on making a single hurricane serving – mix together one part lemon juice, one part dark or spiced rum, one part light rum, one part passion fruit or pineapple juice, and one part orange juice. You’ll want to serve that with ice, so be sure you have a cooler of ice for drinks. Sipping whiskeys and red wines are also good, as they don’t require ice. Of course, please drink responsibly and make sure there is plenty of extra water as alcohol dehydrates the body.

I have a small cooler that I fill with ice and call it my washcloth cooler – there is nothing like a cool cloth to wipe your face when you’ve gone hours with no air conditioning. Rinse off the washcloth before dropping it back in the cooler.

Fill the bathtub with water. I am a big proponent of the Water Bob as it keeps 100 gallons of water fresh and clean up to 16 weeks! Use open bathtub water for cleaning and flushing the toilet but don’t drink it as it could have soap scum, dust and debris in it.

Bathe and do all your laundry ahead of the storm. During a boil water advisory, you don’t want to be putting that water on your body, hair or clothes.

In lieu of using too much clean water for bathing, fill a spray bottle with 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and your favorite essential oil so you can spritz that on your clothing and on your body to refresh yourself and take the stink off. My favorites are rosemary and lemon.

Have a big bottle of mouthwash to use instead of water for brushing your teeth – dip your toothbrush in a small glass of mouthwash, brush, then rinse your mouth out with mouthwash. I keep a bottle of water next to sink to rinse the brush (and to wash hands after using the toilet).

Do not walk, wade or, God-forbid, swim in flood waters. E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, Hepatitis A & C and all the other horrible bacteria in the waters can cause serious illness and even death. If you do end up in the floodwater, change your clothing and wash yourself immediately. Before the flooding happens, get your tetanus shot renewed. Be very careful cleaning up after flooding as the danger isn’t over just because the water went down. See this OSHA fact sheet.

Do not drive in flood waters – you don’t know how deep the water could be or if the road has been washed out underneath. If you have to go through standing water, do not drive more than 5 miles per hour. Not only is driving any faster unsafe and illegal but it pushes water into nearby homes and businesses.

For Orleans Parish, view reports of street flooding at http://streetwise.nola.gov.

Stock up on fresh, dried and canned fruit, dehydrated meals, shelf stable non-dairy milk products like almond milk, breads, trail mix, jerky, MRE’s and other food products that don’t require refrigeration. Have plenty of snacks and comfort foods as most folks tend to stress eat during this time. If you’re a coffee addict and don’t like instant, grind coffee for “stovetop coffee” or invest in a percolator or French Press.

Know how to locate the valve behind your stove or other gas-run appliances (like water heaters) and turn it OFF in the event of flooding.

Check to make sure you have charcoal and other supplies for your grill if you’ve got an electric stove or want to keep the heat of cooking outside of your house. After 48 hours without power, start cooking from your freezer (try not to open it before then). This is a good time to work with your neighbors and have a block party to share perishable goods before they go bad.

Charge all devices and charge your backup phone batteries. If you have a generator, run a test of it and make sure you have plenty of fuel for it. If you have a car, make sure it has a full tank of gas and the battery is charged.

Flashlights are great (with extra batteries) and candles give a lovely glow once the power goes out. Of course, pillar candles dedicated to the patron saints of flooding (St Florian) and storms (St Medard or St Walpurga) and New Orleans (Joan of Arc or Our Lady of Prompt Succor) help ensure you’re well covered and well lit for all contingencies.

Unplug everything if the waters rise. I usually unplug small appliances ahead of the storm so I don’t have to run around at the last minute. Roll up area rugs and put them up out of the water’s way or use them as barriers around doors.

Gather all your pertinent documents – passport, birth certificate, banking info, proof of residence, car registration, all insurance documents, etc into a waterproof folder and know exactly where it is. Take this with you when you leave.

Prep a go bag or bug out bag with clothes, medicines, food, reading materials, etc in case you have to leave in a hurry. Pack one for each family member (including your pets) so you don’t have to rush around at the last minute or, worse, have to make a run to the store after driving for hours because someone forgot their underwear.

If you do evacuate, prep your house by securing your trash cans and any outside furniture or plants. Also, freeze a cup of water in your refrigerator freezer. Before you head out, set a quarter on top of it. Check for melting once you return: if the quarter is still on top when you come home, all is well. In fact, your food is probably safe to eat if the quarter is only 1/3 down the cup. If it is halfway down or on the bottom, your food was unrefrigerated for too long and is not safe to eat.

Resources for hurricane preparedness/updates:

Department of Homeland Security Disaster Guide
www.Ready.gov

State of Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide
http://gohsep.la.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Prevent/2016EmergencyGuide_English.pdf

American Red Cross Mobile Phone App
http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps

National Weather Service Radar Loop
https://radar.weather.gov/ridge/radar_lite.php?rid=LIX&product=N0R&loop=yes

Parish government webpages:

Orleans Parish
www.ready.nola.gov

Jefferson Parish
www.jeffparish.net

St. Bernard Parish
https://sbpg.net/165/Homeland-Security-Emergency-Preparedness

Plaquemines Parish
http://plaqueminesparish.com/homeland-security-emergency-preparedness/

Tangipahoa Parish
www.tangisafe.com

St. Tammany Parish
http://www.stpgov.org/residents/emergency-preparedness

Washington Parish
http://www.washingtonparishalerts.org/emergency-updates.html

Let me know your tips. Oh, and if you’re having a hurricane party, be sure to invite me.

Congratulations to the 2019 Goldie Winners

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Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists of the Golden Crown Literary Society Goldie Awards.   

Debut Novel

Chasing Stars by Alex K. Thorne

Compass Rose by Anna Burke

The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley

Combined Non-Fiction

The Liberation of Ivy Bottini: A Memoir of Love and Activism by Judith V. Branzburg

Romantic Blend

Ask Me Again by E. J. Noyes

Chasing Stars by Alex K. Thorne

My Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker

Humorous Novels

Great Bones by Lynn Ames

Contemporary Romance: Short

Breakthrough by Kris Bryant

The Neighbor by Gerri Hill

The Promise by Claire Highton-Stevenson

Poetry Poems/collections

Lovely by Leslea Newman

Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Alias by Cari Hunter

What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

Young Adult/New Adult

Snowsisters by Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

A Wish Upon a Star by Jeannie Levig

Blend by Georgia Beers

Love At Cooper’s Creek by Missouri Vaun

Pursuit of Happiness by Carsen Taite

Paranormal/Occult/Horror

Gnarled Hollow by Charlotte Greene

Erotic Novels

Breaking the Rules by Larkin Rose

General Fiction

Bird on a Wire by Tagan Shepard

Perfect Little Worlds by Clifford Henderson

Fiction Anthologies

Language of Love by Astrid Ohletz & Lee Winter

Historical Fiction

Lies of Omission by Elena Graf

Contemporary Romance: Long

Gold by E. J. Noyes

It’s Not a Date by Heather Blackmore

Just for Show by Jae

Three Reasons to Say Yes by Jaime Clevenger

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Lucky 7 by Rae D. Magdon

Proxima Five by Missouri Vaun

Waking the Dreamer by K. Aten

Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award

A Proper Cuppa Tea by KG MacGregor

Tee Corinne Outstanding Cover Design

2 Degrees cover by Ann McMan

Directors’ Award

Jenny Fielder

Lee Lynch Classic Award

Loving Her by Ann Allen Shockley

Trail Blazer Award

Sandra Scoppettone

Many of the books many be purchased at Bella Books or other fine retailers.

Next year’s GCLS Literary Conference will be held in Albuquerque, NM, beginning on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 and ending on Sunday, July 12, 2020. More info may be found HERE.

The Star-Spangled 4th of July Marathon Reading of the Complete Mueller Report

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How will you be spending the Fourth of July?

Me? I will be reading a portion of the Mueller report. The readings will run from 6am on July 4th until 2am on July 5th. My reading time is scheduled for 6pm. Event organizer, Michael Martin, will perform the report’s redactions as Russian folklore character Baba Yaga.

There will be music, food and drink available throughout the day. The Facebook event is HERE

This event is a benefit for ACLU Louisiana. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Buy tickets at : impeachableyou.brownpapertickets.com

Event location:
HappyLand Theater (Venue information)
3126 Burgundy St
New Orleans, LA 70116

We got a write up in Gambit!

I hope to see you there for food, music, fun and freedom!

Someday There Will Be Hell To Pay

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During the 2019 Legislative Session that ended on June 6, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill that will prohibit an abortion after six weeks, before many women even know that they’re pregnant.

His signature on the misleadingly called heartbeat bill came after legislators in the Louisiana Senate voted 31 to 5 in favor of the bill and the Louisiana House voted 79 to 23 to pass measure. In both the Senate and House, the measure passed with the support of more than a dozen Democrats (and it was authored by a Democrat, too).

Lawmakers, including the author, rejected amendments that would have added an exception to the ban for cases of rape and incest. Perhaps its one saving grace is the law will only go into effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi

Worst of all, the bill is meaningless and duplicative. Back in 2006, then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed an act to ban abortions, with the only exception being when a mother’s life is in danger. That Act will go into immediate effect if the Supreme Court reverses the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. By the way, Act 467 was also authored by a Democrat and passed the Louisiana House with a vote of 85-17 and the Senate with a vote of 30-7. Blanco, too, is a Democrat.

Further, voters will also be asked to amend the constitution in November 2020. HB 425 would change the state constitution to say there is no right to an abortion. That bill was authored by Democrat Katrina Jackson and passed with overwhelming majorities in the House (81-10) and Senate (31-4), including a number of Democrats.

Because Louisiana is already one of four so-called “trigger” states that already have passed legislation that would outlaw nearly all abortions, I can’t help feeling that current attacks on abortion are less about protecting life than a cynical plan to force Louisiana’s Democratic governor to either lose his base of supporters in metro areas with a signature or to lose the rest of the state with a veto.

The Machiavellian strategy behind this bill could cost us a governor who brought medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform including reducing prison populations and unanimous juries, domestic violence reform, teacher pay raises and educational improvements, an executive order protecting LGBTQ public employees from discrimination and a budget surplus to our state.

Those are gains for all Louisianans. A Republican governor would most certainly roll back what John Bel Edwards has achieved.

Unfortunately, I can’t dismiss what happened as just some evil plot foisted on the women of this state by the GOP because these bills were written by Democrats, voted on by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by a Democrat. I can’t put this entirely on male legislators who devalue a women’s bodily integrity and decision making ability because women were involved in every aspect of getting the pro-birth bills from this legislative session passed.

I could put it on a fiercely anti-scientific bias (Milkovich, the heartbeat bill’s author, said on the Senate floor, “Many of you may know some of the leading researchers in America say that autism is a result of vaccination. Did you know tissue from aborted babies is now used in vaccines. Did you know that vaccines use aluminum which is shown to be a neurotoxin? Did you know vaccines in America is preserved often with mercury, which is beyond neurotoxic?”) because a six week fetus is not a baby and it does not have a heartbeat:

At six weeks’ gestation, there is only a “fetal pole,” an area alongside the yolk sac that extends from one end of an embryo to the other. It for damn sure should not have more rights than the breathing, thinking, voting woman who is carrying it.

While I would have liked to see John Bel Edwards at least have sent the bill back to the legislature asking for exceptions for rape and incest, I also knew what I was getting when I first voted for a pro-life candidate for governor. As someone who has personally benefited from Medicaid expansion, I will be voting for him again this Fall.

I support the national Democratic party platform – every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. I just wish more Louisiana Democrats did as well.

Therefore, I will work to elect more pro-choice and women candidates across the state. Because someday, maybe not tomorrow but soon, there will be hell to pay.

Saints and Sinners Sweet Sixteen

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It was my pleasure to spend the last weekend of March at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. Paul Willis and his merry band put on another great gathering of LGBTQ author luminaries, queer emerging authors and many other artists and allies. On the schedule were master classes, panels and reading series, so plenty from which to listen and learn.

It was great to see so many friends and to make more as I interacted at the conference. Of course, I also had to put more items on my to-be-read list after hearing writers read from their works or rave about things they had read.

I read from my third book, In the Midst of Tribulation, on a rainy Sunday morning. Other writers reading at that time were Dale Corvino, Lewis DeSimone, Fay Jacobs, Felice Picano and Bryan Washington (who won the Emerging Writer Award later that afternoon).

Additionally, I was on a panel on the Power of Love and Desire with Kimberly Dark, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Rick Reed and Lewis DeSimone, moderated by David Pratt. Our conversation meandered from erotica to romance to tropes and everything in between.

A highlight from the weekend:

Dykes to watch out for

We were in the presence of giants with a great panel of lesbian literary foremothers – Dorothy Allison, Blanche McCrary Boyd, and Judy Grahn, moderated by the incomparable Cheryl Head. They talked about lesbian literature then and now, shared stories of their lives and challenged us all.

  • Question from Judy Grahn on what drives the movement, “Power is ranged against us. How do we replace it?”
  • Questions from Dorothy Allison for us all: “Did I tell my truth? Did I take enough risks?”
  • Question from Blanche McCrary Boyd – “What is the next right thing to do?”

The festival ended on Sunday afternoon with the inductees of the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame. Hosted by humorist Fay Jacobs, the ceremony saw Michael Cunningham, Judy Grahn, Cheryl Head and Frank Perez join an elite group that includes the following:

If I’ve made you jealous, consider coming to New Orleans next year. The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival for 2020 will be held on March 27-29. I hope to see you there!

safest.org

Made for Radio

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I had a lovely conversation last week on WHIV 102.3 FM. The PFLAG-New Orleans sponsored radio show is called Expanding the Rainbow. Hosts Sally Jackson and Joshua (Adonis) Carcabasis. led us in dialogue through the recent kerfuffle with the Orleans Parish School Board elections, the government shutdown and several other topics in between.

Here is the show: January 24, 2019 Expanding the Rainbow Show

Follow PFLAG New Orleans on Facebook and support their work in providing this community programming and those scholarships.

Thanks so much to Sally and Joshua for such a fun morning!

I am as independent as a hog on the ice

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On March 15, 1864, Lyons Wakeman marched with her unit some 700 miles from Washington, DC to Louisiana to take part in the Red River Campaign. The 153rd New York Infantry Regiment saw action at the Battle of Pleasant Hill on April 9, 1864. The Union army technically won but was forced to retreat back down the Red River near Natchitoches, fighting another engagement at Monett’s Bluff on April 23rd.

In a letter home, Wakeman wrote, “I was under fire about four hours and laid on the field of battle all night. There was three wounded in my Co. and one killed…”*

Because of tainted water, many soldiers of that time period who survived the battles, came down with dysentery. On May 3, Wakeman reported to the regimental hospital, suffering from chronic diarrhea. She was transferred to the hospital in New Orleans and on June 19, 1864, she died.

Yes, I wrote she died.

Lyons Wakeman was the name Sarah Rosetta Wakeman used to enlist and fight in the US Civil War. She was one of 400 women believed to have done so. They joined for many of the same reasons men did – adventure and opportunity, the money, love of country and/or love of another. Wakeman was impressed by the signing bonus of $152 and that she was able to send money home to help pay her family’s debts while still having spending money of her own.

She was also one of the 620,000 soldiers who died during the conflict. Most casualties and deaths in the Civil War were the result of non-combat-related disease. For every three soldiers killed in battle, five more died of disease.

She was buried under the name Private Lyons Wakeman in Section 52, plot 4066 at the Chalmette National Cemetery outside of New Orleans. Only when her letters home were discovered in an attic was her identity revealed. They give great insight into the daily life of a civil war soldier, who just happened to be a woman and who “could drill as well any man.”*

My friend, Charlotte, and I drove over to the cemetery the other day to find her burial place. It was a cold day but a good time to learn a little more about our history and how many different ways women contributed to the making of these United States.

I thank them all for their service.

 

*The blog title and quotes come from her letters home. Read more in An Uncommon Soldier by Lauren Cook Burgess