All posts by Susan Harwick Watts

I Can’t Keep My Mouth Shut Any Longer

My social media friends have different perspectives in the ongoing narrative of events unfolding from our nation’s capitol.  Some are standing behind Donald Trump as the newly elected president.  Some are in great defiance of his actions.  Some prefer to post pictures of baby kittens or ooze soothing acclimations that we should all “chill” and take a warm, relaxing soak in the tub with a glass of pinot. 

During the campaign speeches and rhetoric, I felt compelled to applaud my candidate in silence.  I felt that I could brush the sand out of my hair when it was all over, and I could cheer on my new president.  I didn’t want to brag about the fact that my candidate had the experience, the intellect, and the temperament to be a great president with the added bonus of being a woman.  I felt assured in my thinking that the other party had nominated a blowhard, self-serving, lying narcissist.  There was no comparison.  How could anyone in their right mind choose him over her?  So I kept my silence in smug assurance that I didn’t need to concern myself about the other candidate even coming close to winning. 

Alas and alack I went to bed early on election night, trying to console myself with the fact that the blue states had not yet all been counted.  I would be gratified in the morning when all votes were tallied.  To my great dismay (and even shock), that did not happen.  What had happened during the night while I slept in ignorance? 

I mourned the resultant outcome for weeks and watched as my Donald-fans-friends gloated about how he had kicked butt and how he had defied the odds and defeated the rightful winner.  I felt genuine depression – the likes of which I had never in my life felt before. 

Even the upcoming holidays did not help to blunt my depression.  I concentrated on family, festivities, and decorations – anything to take my mind off the pending doom which I knew (deep in my heart) was approaching.  When Inauguration Day came, I was determined to boycott the event to punish the winner.  I relished going to work that morning, knowing there was not a television in the office.  I secretly wished that others would join me, and I applauded the Democrats in congress who also punished Donald Trump by not attending his ceremony of success. 

I felt shame however when I rushed home from work that night to turn on the TV to see how the inauguration had transpired.  I had hoped to see only Donald Trump’s family and newly chosen cabinet members at the ceremony and was disappointed to see others in the crowd.  I later learned that the crowd size was of utmost importance to this president, and as it turned out the number of people attending was considerably smaller than those attending Barack Obama’s two inaugurations.  A glow lit in my heart.  I was also gratified to hear that his self-written speech was the incoherent, utter mess that all of his speeches had been during his campaign. 

The day following the inauguration ceremony was the Saturday of the long-planned Women’s March 2017.  My depression about the president subsided for an entire day.  I watched in proud happiness, thrilled that approximately five million others in the world felt as I felt.  I watched crowds gather and march in cities all across America and even across the world.  Denver, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, St. Paul, Boston, Oakland, Paris, London, and even Antarctica rejoiced in the fact that women were important.  Women (and the men who care for them) from all walks of life converged and joined together to send a signal to the new president that they had a voice.  Their concerns were not trivial.  They wanted a choice in how their government was run and what the government could not take away from them.  They had fought this same fight in the 1970s and felt proud to reiterate the changes that they had helped to initiate during those dark times.  Strength, pride, independence, stamina – I felt them all as I watched and cheered my sisters on.  It was truly an eye-opening event, and it truly helped me to overcome my depression. 

Maybe that was my turning point, my self-awareness cognizance, my aha moment. I could no longer shut my mouth to the truth of my convictions about this president.  By his actions in his campaign, his inauguration, and now his daily tweets, bullying, and executive orders, he has alienated eleven countries already.  With a favorable all-time low rating of 36%, he has proven that he is not stable, that disorder and chaos are his brand, and that in these initial days as president he doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.  He has reiterated time and again that the media is his adversary.  He has proven that the truth is his opposition. 

We are beginning to see that his dividing and diverting tactics temporarily cover for his “alternative facts.”  To look successful, he needs an enemy.  During the campaign, his enemies were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Today it is the press.  By manipulating his data, his advisors try to cover his emotional instability and immaturity.  His ego cannot seem to be satiated.  

I will no longer hide my feelings about this election behind complacency.  In a democracy people are free to criticize elected leaders and representatives and to observe how they conduct the business of governing.  The elected representatives are supposed to listen to the people and respond to their needs and suggestions.  When they do not do this, the citizens have the right, nay the responsibility, to say and write what they think.  No one can tell them what they must think, say, or believe.  The worse thing they can do is to NOT talk about it.  We cannot be defensive with free speech.  We have learned this the hard way. 

To the new administration I say this:  We are not going to shut our mouths.  You cannot intimidate us.  We will find our voices and hopefully they will collectively overpower yours.  Winning does not mean that you are right, only that you won.  Americans have the Constitution to protect their rights and to limit the power of the government.  No one is above the law including the elected president. 

Falling for the Veggies

When the summer comes to an end, and our gardens seem to be slowing in production, there are vegetables that grow in cooler weather.  If you have taken time to plan for the change in temperature, you will harvest a variety of healthy and flavorful veggies, creating a colorful addition to any meal.

Some of the usual autumn vegetables such as kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, yams, rutabagas, beets, broccoli, artichokes, eggplant, and endive – all give us a variety of choices to make.  Broccoli actually becomes sweeter tasting without the bitterness of the broccoli produced earlier in the year.  It is easily steamed or cooked in the microwave which makes it ideal for busy cooks who don’t have time to fuss with veggies.  It adds color and texture to a dinner plate.  It is also used in breakfast and brunch meals in omelets and quiches.

Sweet Potatoes and Yams are Sometimes Confusing  Even grocery stores often have trouble distinguishing between the two.  Yams are lighter brown in color with a creamy, off-white meat inside the skin.  Sweet potatoes often have deeper copper-colored skins with sweet orange flesh.  Both are significant sources of beta-carotene or vitamin A, along with B6 and C.  They give us the unbelievable benefits of more efficient wound-healing, help us cope with stress, and aid in digestion.  They also add significant amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium to our diets.  They can be cooked in a variety of ways – steamed, baked, boiled, grilled, and added to soups and casseroles.

Usually when we think of fall, we think of pumpkins as seasonal veggies for decoration around Halloween (think jack-o’-lanterns), for use in pies around Thanksgiving, and for roasted seeds for snacks.  Although many people confuse pumpkins as being in the squash family, they are actually large berries.  Berries provide a fleshy fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower.  Even avocados and bananas fall into this group!

Winter Squash Adds Color and Nutrients  Some of my favorite fall veggies include a variety of winter squashes.  The most common squashes in the fall include butternut and acorn.  They are sweet and flavorful and regarded as staples in many U.S. households.  I have discovered two other types of winter squash that provide a nice alternative.  Buttercup squash is sweeter than the other types and has a creamy texture.  Buttercup squash will last up to three months when it is stored in a dry spot that is relatively cool.

A second type of winter squash that is a newer variety is called kabocha squash.  This has a deep green, hard skin, and is pumpkin-shaped.  This squash contains both vitamin C and A, and besides being flavorful and nutritious, it may also be stored uncut up to one month.

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is sweeter and more flavorful in the fall. Very low in fat and calories, cabbage contains antioxidants that ward off prostate, breast, and colon cancer.  The leafy green or deep red veggie also helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and is a good source of vitamin K which helps to fight neuronal damage in the brain to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

In the same family as cabbage are the notorious Brussel sprouts.  They look like miniature cabbages and do have a tendency to taste awful and have a sordid odor if overcooked.  They are very nutritious though, so if you think you don’t like the flavor, try cooking them with pecans or with bacon to give them a new twist.  Toss them with cauliflower flowerets in a light vinegar dressing or chop and add to thin pizza with salami slices.

Giving up summer veggies you love like tomatoes, green beans, and zucchini shouldn’t have you bewildered.  There are good alternatives.  Don’t limit yourself to white potatoes during the winter when there are so many more flavorful and nutritious vegetables to choose.

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