Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection


Eight sides rather than four, to approach circular perfection.

Kokak2 146Strolling Dover: for more, click here.


With all of the hoopla surrounding vice presidential picks, I can’t help but wonder where the scrutiny was when John McCain pulled Sarah Palin out of the hat.

His lapse in judgment there may well have cost him the White House.

Quite simply, we dodged the bullet.

Let’s not underestimate the importance of this half of the ticket.

I, for one, am grateful for Joe Biden’s service the past eight years.


Apart from the furor over the WikiLeaks release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails is a much bigger, more troubling, question: Exactly why were the Russians doing covert electronic snooping against the American liberal party, anyway?

(Makes me wonder about the presumed security of U.S. State Department lines, by the way – the ones Hillary Clinton avoided at times, to the consternation of her partisan attackers.)

We might begin with the fact that Russian president Vladimir Putin hates Hillary Clinton, probably because of her toughness as Secretary of State in opposition to his aggression.

But now Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo makes more serious connections as he looks at what he calls “the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Quite simply, as he notes, ” There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.”

Marshall then observes, “Trump has been blackballed by all major U.S. banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major U.S. presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.”

And Marshall then goes on to note the close Russian relationships with Trump’s closest advisers. That alone should be raising red flags. No pun intended.

It’s all truly frightening stuff, especially for those of us who have viewed many right-wing operatives as more dangerous to American freedoms than any of the “communist takeover” we’ve long been warned against. (Marshall, by the way, steers clear of conspiracy theories.)

How is it Trump’s Republican opponents overlooked these connections? Well, for one, they never took him seriously. He was, after all, essentially a comical TV entertainer. Or so they thought. Look at the disaster they could have prevented.

But now? Could Trump be a Manchurian Candidate?

Put the dots together, and it’s fair to guess, this is worse than we might imagine. Or, as Marshall explains:

“Trump’s tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you’re keeping score at home: no, that’s not reassuring.”

No wonder Trump has refused to release 10 years of tax filings! On top of all the other shenanigans those documents would likely disclose, we have this reality: He’s in debt up to his eyeballs to Russians! Think about that!

Now, for more from Marshall: “To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore.”

Why hasn’t it? Go ahead, blame the mainstream media, if you must. Maybe they’ll catch up. This could be the bombshell to destroy his campaign, believe me, if additional details come to light..

Now, we can also ask: Just how crooked are Trump’s financial dealings? How shaky is his empire? Or how shady? Could it be Russians are simply trying to protect their investment?

For Marshall’s full account, I urge you to click here.


more squirrels than girls – and there are a lot of girls in this neighborhood

two horny squirrels on a tree

neighbors report a large groundhog … where are those dogs?

possum … how funny they look, running
their back arches, and both ends drop
nearly to the ground
how laborious!

a possum in the bottom of one of our plastic barrels
furrier than I expected
turn the cylinder on its side, still takes a while
for the critter to move off … injured? stunned? no idea

a young porcupine crossing Hill Street four doors down …
a neighbor watching from the stoop …

next night, a dead adult porcupine in the street

on our apron by the back door
a small snake, whip motion,
ever so slowly

Rachel awakens me
for a scurrying, gnawing noise
inside the wall, beside our heads

in the morning, I realize we haven’t heard
the house sparrows nesting in the eaves overhead, either

none of our plans come off as planned
but we keep readjusting

poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson


Rat Tat 1

For more of my home and garden poetry, click here.


Observing Hillary Clinton, I keep thinking, “She’s one of us.” A native Midwesterner from a middle-class family, she could well be among the characters in my Daffodil Sunrise novel, set on a rural campus in Indiana. Nothing wrong with a streak of ambition, either, or getting ahead on your own merits and efforts, including law school when women weren’t always welcome there. Not just any law school, either, but Yale, after Wellesley rather than a Big 10 campus. Oh, well, I know several who also went to Wellesley around the same time or taught there later. As I say, one of us.

Having moved around the country in my own career, I appreciate the adjustments she’s had to make as First Lady in a Deep South capital or later in the Empire State of the Eastern Seaboard. You have to play by the local rules to get anything done, period, and one thing you quickly learn is to keep your mouth shut as much as possible, at least in public, or you’re shut out entirely. In private could be another matter, one at play in her long marriage.

The fact she’s sought to be a pragmatist, problem-solver appeals highly to my Midwestern values. As I said, one of us. But that also means compromises, accommodations, and bruises that deflect us from our desired destination. The plot always thickens when there’s conflict.

Sanders, in contrast, is from a much different culture, as I learned in my first years after college when I lived Upstate New York and then in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. He could easily have been one of my housemates or good friends I describe in my novel Hippie Drum. I’m trying to imagine him skinny-dipping at the lake or driving the old school bus through the countryside. Like many of them, he left the big city – Brooklyn, in particular – and wound up more or less back to the land in Vermont. Had he taken up a more spiritual or religious route, he might have appeared in my yoga novel, Ashram. It was, after all, another of those hippie things. Actually, it seems about three-quarters of my friends at the time were from Brooklyn at some point in their lives, a world quite apart from Manhattan.

Ask how I feel about Clinton’s and Sanders’ personalities and my response takes a curious twist. I like Sanders more, think he’d be a delightful dinner companion or next-seat passenger on an airline flight. Clinton, on the other hand, is more reserved under the veneer of Midwestern openness, and connecting on a personal level would no doubt be difficult. (For the record, I’m told I can be the same – and small talk is usually a challenge.) I’ll accept the enigma, then, of what’s percolating behind that mask at any one time. She speaks from a professional class – he, for the workers. Maybe that’s the underlying tension.

As I look back on my career, some of the most gregarious and likeable bosses and colleagues have been the ones who burned me in the end. And some quiet, competent ones still have my deepest respect.

Take that as a nod to Clinton.



The amount of wildlife in our yard continually impresses me,
especially compared to Oakdale Avenue or Woodbine.
The abundance of squirrels, of course, and possible rats
but also skunks, opossums, the groundhog can be added in
plus snakes and insects.
We must be doing something right, or just be in the right location.

A first: amid a throng of blue jays chasing a crow, a mockingbird:
was its nest raided or threatened?


Home Maintenance 1

For more on my home and garden poetry, click here.


So much yellow, this time of summer! Sunflowers, finches, goldenrod, corn drenched in butter. Banks of black-eyed susans, too.


Castleton, Vermont


For my collected garden poems and more, click here.

Garden 1



Would they live by the Golden Rule? Could they live on the minimum wage, much less raise a family? Will they even donate as much to charities serving the poor as they give to political campaigns? Especially considering how the middle-class has been impoverished?


Let me confess, I hadn’t intended to blog about the political conventions, but as events unfolded, I couldn’t resist.

But I am intrigued by the unexpected counterpoint my earlier scheduled postings are providing. There’s more to life, after all, than politics, though they can make daily affairs easier or more cumbersome. So here we are, bouncing between the experiences of camping in the high Cascades or walking around town or tending the garden and the manipulated circus that’s become the new Mistake on the Lake. Maybe the real wilderness adds an essential ballast or balance or at least a breath of fresh air.

I suspect this wild ride’s going to continue quite a while. Let’s try to keep our feet on the ground as we go. And don’t forget to smell the roses or coffee. Keep our priorities straight. Maybe even with a sense of humor.


Zephyrs, ahoy!
Zephyrs, away!
– originally from the west, now any soft, gentle wind

nor’easter or typhoon

air flow

draught in the hallway
draught in the cave

From high pressure or low.
The world turns, there’s no front
or back, no fault, actually, no matter
what those fine faces on television
say about what’s somersaulting.

In truth, it’s all as mysterious as comedy.
So where were you when it started?

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015


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