Sunday, October 29, 2023

Picture postcards

I’m too upset about Gaza this morning to do anything but share some photos.

This is Boulder creek seen from my favourite bike ride

And this is what Boulder (specifically Wonderland Lake) looks like when the sun goes in and the temperature drops and it’s on the brink of snowing, and when you get back from your bike ride parts of you are so cold that when you sit on the loo you wonder if the loo seat is a heated one.

It’s early morning here, and I’m looking forward to the girls waking up and bouncing in.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

I can’t believe the obscenity of what the world has let Israel do…how the world supported genocide in the name of defence.

London demonstration October 28 2023
Photo from Reuters

Thursday, October 26, 2023

A day in the life

I am alone in Hepworth Towers West. The family have gone to work, to school and to meetings. It’s just me and the cats and they are busy trying to catch a mouse in the coat closet by the front door.

I have read the headlines, then an editorial pointing out that the UK press is out of step with public opinion on the bombing, as three quarters of the public want a ceasefire. And then I checked up on precisely what the UN Secretary General said and concluded that the Israeli objections are unfounded. And a misrepresentation - no surprise there. 

I cannot read the news in full. It’s too awful. There is this delicate balancing act going on inside my head - staying up to date with the horrific situation, while protecting myself from despair. After all, it’s not me who is suffering, I keep telling myself. And I do all that I can - post about it, write to my MP, sign petitions, give money to Medical Aid for Palestinians. There’s another big march in London on Saturday but I’m here in Boulder.

The weather has turned, and it’s cold. Alexa says there will be a high of 60 deg F today (15.5 C) so it will mean wrapping up for my bike ride.

Yesterday I had breakfast at Google with Isaac and loved it. It’s nice to spend time with just him. 

As far as the office is concerned, every comfort is catered for in a minimalistic streamlined kind of way. I tried one of the massage chairs, which was bliss, and one of the hanging pods that are there to relax in, to be quiet, to work, whatever. I didn’t have a go on a treadmill. Perhaps you can see a pattern.

Photo by Isaac

Isaac showed me most things of interest. I even saw a dog feeding station, and a quiet little pooch pattering down a corridor. I carried around Isaac’s iPad Pro and held it in front of my visitor’s badge so I could pretend to be an employee, but even ignoring my age, my clothing betrayed my outsider status. Most people had T shirts and sweatshirts in black or neutral colours, and Wendy says they’d all be garments made of some fabric with advanced technological features. I saw no denim. And just one splash of orange.

The views of the mountains are stunning. It feels like a great place to work. Cece likes the snack stations on every floor and Lux likes the massage chairs best. 

I walked home along one of the trails, and then under Wendy’s instruction, tie-dyed my T shirt to go with my Halloween Hippie costume. (Illustration later.)

Then Wendy took me for lunch at the Rio where we sat in the sunshine on the roof and had my usual -a margarita with rocks and salt, and house salad with shrimp. It was fun. Lunch out with Wendy always is.

Photo by Wendy

I spent the day before on my own, on a bike ride, and going to a couple of art galleries, and I had an interesting encounter on the main shopping street. A young man standing outside a shop said he wanted to give me a free gift and handed me a smart and tiny carrier bag containing a sachet of something. I asked him what it was. 
“It’s cream to put under your eyes,” he said.
“Oh, thank you.”
“Or would you rather have one for above your eyes?” he said.
“Which do you think I need?”
“I’ll give you both.”

I am still laughing (and no doubt creating even more laughter lines.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The latest

 The latest missive to our MP from Dave:

Sunday, October 22, 2023


Here is my week in a series of moments…

Watching the sky as Isaac and the girls are driving me home to their house from Denver airport 

The view from the front porch the next morning

My first bike ride

Reading the dreadful headlines and feeling sick and knowing that the only thing I can do besides writing fruitless letters to our Tory MP is to give money to appeals for Gaza. I don’t believe that praying for peace has any effect. 

Watching Lux and Cece at their gym class with Isaac while we also try to solve the NYT crossword. American crosswords are SO different from British ones, but just as much fun.

Having a coffee and a scone at my favourite cafe with the girls and Isaac:

Playing table tennis with Wendy on their new table and shooting the breeze.  
Was our table at Hepworth Towers ever this glossy?

Going for a walk up Bald Mountain in the foothills of the Rockies at teatime with Isaac and Lux:

Photo by Isaac

Photo by Isaac

photo by Isaac

Getting an email from the Palestine Solidarity Committee on Sunday morning that says there were 300,000 on a March in London on Saturday calling for an end to the bombing of the people of Gaza. 

Then reading a headline in the Guardian saying that the police estimate of the numbers was 100,000, and thinking yes, of all the demos I have been on in the past, it was ever thus.

Having waffles and maple syrup and bacon for breakfast. I love American breakfasts but what I love more is breakfasting with the family.

Sitting listening to Isaac play the piano and sing a song I remember drifting out of his bedroom 35 years ago. So moving for this soppy mother.

Playing table tennis with Isaac.

Visiting the farm where the family buy their pumpkins and their Christmas trees. Yesterday of course it was for pumpkins. We chose one each. The family rule is that you have to be capable of carrying the one you pick.

Notice the snow covered Rockies in the distance:

Sitting in the sunshine making art with Lux’s fabulous collection of coloured pencils and realising the abstract I’m working on is all about Gaza, and I need to pile on the ugliness.

Throughout the last week I’ve been returning in my mind to the poem by Jack Gilbert that I have shared with you before. It is a comfort.

A Brief for the Defence

by Jack Gilbert

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Guess where I am

 I got here yesterday.

Currently recovering from the journey, but still in touch with the sickening news. Dave is keeping up the letter output. (see previous posts) If I were at home I’d be going on the big March on Saturday in London.

More news from here, over the pond, anon.

Aren’t my granddaughters fab?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Today's letter to our MP


This morning Dave and I wrote separate letters to our MP. Dave's is more powerful so I'm going to share his with you.

Your government is not unused to trying to break domestic and international law. There have been a string of illegalities from prorogation onwards during this parliament.

Mr Sunak (appointed, not elected) commits the UK to unequivocal support for Israel’s extreme right-wing government, led by a man who also considers himself above the law. In doing so, he is making the UK complicit in war crimes, and the inhumanity that so disfigures governance.

Mr Sunak – and his ministers – repeat the mantra that Israel has every right to defend itself. I agree completely. But what we are seeing in Gaza cannot be described as self-defence. There is no imminent threat. Israel’s ‘war’ is against Hamas, but it is acting against the population of Gaza as a proxy. Half a million people have been displaced and made homeless by Israel’s insistence that they leave northern Gaza. As usual (over the last 15 years over 90% of the Arab/ Israeli casualties in the ME have been Palestinian) there have been far more Palestinian than Israeli casualties.

I ask you simply this. How many more deaths and casualties is the government happy to allow Israel’s government to create? How many war crimes are we content to be complicit in as a nation? How many innocent Palestinians have to die, how many families must be deracinated, how many communities have to be destroyed before the Israeli government is satisfied with its retaliation? How many children is Mr Sunak happy to see broken in the name of self-defence? Is the extirpation of the entire Gazan population something we can turn an insouciant Nelsonian eye towards?

What we are seeing now is not self-defence, but blood-lust verging on genocide garnished with lies. And Mr Sunak supports it all, as does your government.

Mr Sunak does not speak for the nation is supporting this inhumanity, this cruelty, this abject failure of justice. In doing so he shames us all.

Dave Hepworth

Photo taken from the Financial Times this morning

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Sick at heart

I am sick at heart that Israel is committing war crimes and the UK government and the leader of the opposition (such as he is) is backing them.

"Sick at heart" does not come close, just as it wouldn't come close to how I feel about the recent atrocities of Hamas.

No matter what Hamas did, I can't believe that a so-called civilized society is raining terror on ordinary people - half of whom are children - and expecting 1.1 million people to evacuate to avoid the onslaught.

I can't believe that in 2023 the world is standing by and letting this genocide happen.

If you want to help Gaza, and like me, you're dumbfounded as to what will help, a good start would be donating to a charity supporting people in Palestine.

Medical Aid for Palestinians is a long established and respectable UK charity that has been working in Gaza for many years. It has no connection with Hamas, or with violence of any kind.

Here is a link to their emergency appeal. 

And here is a list of other things you can do for Palestine and Israel right now.

And if you don't understand what it's all about, here is a short video explaining the history behind the decades-long conflict.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023


I am horrified by what Hamas has done. Horrified.

And I'm horrified by the worldwide defence of Israel's "right to defend itself" through collectively punishing the population of Gaza, half of whom are children.

I am horrified that the Israelis and the rest of the world think that a stricter siege and heavy bombing are any kind of solution to the ongoing violence. Collective punishment is a crime under international law, and so is the cutting off of fuel, food and water. 

Israel is an apartheid state. Nethanyahu denies Palestinians a right to their own state, and denies them equal rights under Israeli control. 

Ordinary life for ordinary (non-Hamas) Palestinians has been getting worse and worse over the last few years, with more brutal violence from settlers, as the police and the military look on, more theft of land and houses belonging to Palestinians, more bulldozing of Palestinians' houses, more administrative detention of innocent people, and the torture of some of them, more burning of olive trees, more theft of water.

The natural first response to the violence and brutality from Hamas might be a desire for revenge. But has the human race - so clever these days in so many ways - not evolved to know that violence begets violence and the brave and wise person seeks another way?...the way of a ceasefire and negotiations, and in this case the end to apartheid.

The Palestinians' struggle for freedom has been shut down at every level: diplomatic talks that were shut down, economic boycotts that were deemed economic terrorism and shut down, going to the United Nations where the USA vetoed resolutions holding the Israelis to account, the International Criminal Court where the USA put pressure on the court not to pursue war crimes of Israelis.

None of this justifies the brutal actions of Hamas.

And the brutality of Hamas does not justify the collective punishment of Palestinians by the Israelis: the west should not be supporting the latter.

"What is morally wrong cannot be politically right." John Bright, Quaker MP

We need a ceasefire and meaningful talks and a resolution by the world to treat seriously and fairly the Palestinians' call for their own land.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

The shadow side

In the last month I have been described as “impatient,” “irritable” and “brusque.” Each adjective was used by a different member of my family and at different times.

I myself could add vain, pushy, blunt, snappy, gossipy and selfish.

I don’t know why I’ve been so very irritable lately. Is it the drip drip drip of poison coming from the government that became a torrent of hatred this week at the Tory party conference?
Is it the rain that’s been stopping my bike rides?
Whatever is making me so irritable, I don’t like me much when I am.

I came across something on the The Marginalian ( formerly Brainpickings) site recently about recognising one’s shadow side, written by someone called Parker Palmer, the founder of the Centre for Courage and Renewal. These are two excerpts:

and there is something along the same lines in Quaker Faith and Practice

We know, with varying degrees of acceptance into awareness, our own weaknesses, and there is a tendency to think that others – who seem, on the surface, to be very sure and confident – do not struggle in the way we do. But many of those who appear to cope and be strong and tireless are indeed very different behind their masks. We are all wounded; we all feel inadequate and ashamed; we all struggle. But this is part of the human condition; it draws us together, helps us to find our connectedness.

June Ellis, 1986

I just went to the webpage for the Center of Courage and Renewal and this is what appeared…

First a dark screen with “Breathe deeply” in the middle.

And then this:

I’m always in need of courage and stamina, but I don’t think I’m going to pursue the lead. Realistically, my life is full enough already, and if I take time to start the day properly, and try hard throughout the day to be more patient and to breathe deeply and to LET THINGS GO, I might become a nicer person to be around. We can only hope.