The Vote

It is fair to say that we Americans are living history full on. The unprecedented presidency of Donald Trump, the COVID pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement … any one of these events would be termed historical. Taken together they are creating an historical maelstrom that will be parsed and dissected for decades.

History gets short shrift these days. The current populace generally sees everything in the moment and this tendency makes most people view history as snippets, if they think of history at all. This past week —with the dual confluence of our first black female Vice Presidential candidate and the Centennial celebration of ratification of the 19th Amendment —  has certainly focused many minds on that moment 100 years ago when women finally won the vote. I don’t recall learning much about the 19th Amendment in school but I do recall that my history books said that women were “given” the vote in 1920. As the excellent PBS series “The Vote” makes clear, women weren’t “given” the vote, they fought for 70 years to secure it.

Ida B. Wells

The series, part of the 32nd season of the PBS American Experience series, is well worth your time. It is produced in the Ken Burns style, lots of old pictures and archival film footage, with the writings of the principle players delivered by the likes of Laura Linney as Carrie Chapman Catt, Patricia Clarkson as Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Audra McDonald as the compelling Ida B. Wells (long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, Ida B Wells did the same in 1884).

The series is particularly illuminating with respect to the interaction of black and white women during the struggle. Some of my younger friends may say, “So what? Today is about BLM, we already won the women’s vote.” Well, maybe so, but “The Vote” gives an interesting look at the role of black women clubs, something you are hearing a lot about in connection with Kamala Harris. And the historical intertwining of women and black rights helps to explain many of the problems we are still endeavoring to resolve.

Katherine Douglas Smith

There is, no doubt, a lot of racism on display in “The Vote” but even more is the ugly face of misogyny (which is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”).  I defy any woman to watch this series — with its images of women speaking before crowds of men, many with jeering, misogynistic views clearly displayed on their faces — and not feel a chill up her spine. Every woman has seen those looks at one time or another and the modern day #MeToo movement demonstrates misogyny is still alive and well.  But to place yourself before a crowd of such men, who clearly despise the woman before them, was stunningly heroic. 

Ladies, we owe it to ourselves and our children to learn this history — or perhaps I should say herstory — of the brave women who labored for seven decades to give us a right that some of us will not even bother to exercise.  Watch this series and I can guarantee voting will never be the same for you.  On November 3rd be sure to exercise a right that women fought and died for. It seems the least you can do in this historical moment. ❖

Florida Mushrooms

Puffballs at Oak Forest

It is an unexpected bonus that my still-new home in Tampa comes with mushrooms. What’s the big deal, you might say?  Well, none of my other Florida homes had mushrooms, probably because they were condos and the grounds were “manicured” every week without fail.  In 2011, under one of the trees outside my last condo, I did find some puffball mushrooms and I rushed to preserve the images.

Continue reading “Florida Mushrooms”

Happy Birthday America!

Happy 244th Birthday to the United States of America!

With COVID-19 ravaging our nation, this July 4th is odd one, don’t you think? Celebrations are being trimmed back or cancelled all across the nation as we acknowledge this deadly killer. But even as the virus drives us into our homes and isolation, events have drawn us out to the streets, and national talking points have turned to America’s racist past …and present. Pandemics and transitions go hand-in-hand, according to the historians, and I believe I am one of many who hope that our transition from this pandemic will be a beneficial one. Continue reading “Happy Birthday America!”

Uh Oh ….

Remember Buddy?  Dog of the lost collar?  I wrote about him just the other day.  Well, that’s him snoozing on my porch.  He showed up yesterday as I was cleaning out my van (way overdue on that chore). Tango was in the van because he thinks it is his living room on wheels (he’s kinda right about that) and he doesn’t want to miss out if I’m going somewhere. Continue reading “Uh Oh ….”

Road Trip – This is the Wrap


The odyssey is over. Tango and I are safely arrived in Franklin, NC, where we will quietly enjoy the summer.  No road trips anticipated.  😀

Brenann, Evan, Mike, Alice and Stacy..the O’Learys in Hailey, ID.

We made a completely unexpected trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and met a family who I felt that I knew but had never met.  I wrote about that in my blog, “On the Road — Memories and Magic.” But I also got to visit my nephew Michael and his family in Sun Valley, Idaho. What a beautiful family in a beautiful part of the U.S.

Continue reading “Road Trip – This is the Wrap”

We Need A Little Christmas

55069-christmas-spiritIn recent years I haven’t been very “big” on Christmas. The conflicted messages that emanate at this time of the year have become too much for this aging soul.  I recall being so fervent as a child, anticipating the birth of baby Jesus, marveling at the tale of the three wise men and, of course, anticipating Santa’s visit. Even in to middle age there was still a lot enjoyment centered around the holiday. But over-commercialization coupled with learning the truth about how our religious documents were not the contemporary reportage that we might have thought, have made this writer cynical about it all.  As the media focuses on the “new phenomena” of  “fake news” let’s not lose sight of the fact that religions have practiced fake news for years.

This year things seem especially grim.  Many are choosing to “drop out” because, honestly, it has become impossible to know what is real and what is not. On Facebook this morning I saw a Canadian journalist who claims that the U.S.A. is fabricating stories about Syria, that the “White Helmets” are not a humanitarian group but a well-funded paramilitary organization, and that we don’t have a clue as to what is happening in Aleppo because there are no reporters in the city.  She noted that one prominent source on conditions in Aleppo lives in Coventry, England!  She seemed incredibly well versed and was particularly articulate about the dreadful war in Syria but who is to say that she is reporting the truth?

Ironically it is this unsettled state of mind that turns many people to religion but it seems our various cultures have plenty of faith in various gods…we simply have no faith in each other.

And so I found myself humming, “We Need a Little Christmas,” from the musical “Mame.”  It’s a cheerful ditty and I hadn’t heard it in a while so, as is my wont, I was inspired to have a listen on Spotify.  I wonder if these lyrics resonate with any of you, dear readers?

For I’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now.

Angels, alas, are in short supply but in the Christmas tradition I can send you a star, a Florida star.

A Florida Star

This photograph is one of our lovely Florida grasses with a crown of morning dew.  Nature always soothes me and brings things into perspective. And today that perspective is right in-line with Mame’s:

For we need a little music,
Need a little laughter,
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter,
And we need a little snappy
“Happy ever after,”

Need a little Christmas now.

Burying a Cousin

Bunny 2015.

Recently I traveled to New England where we interred the ashes of my dear cousin Bunny.  It was a sentimental journey, for sure.  She was buried in the family plot in Norton, Massachusetts.  I spent the first twelve years of my life in Norton and this trip fueled so many memories probably because little seems to have changed in Norton–except the traffic.  Lots of cars.  It is now a bedroom community to Boston. I’m certain there are the dreaded “developments” somewhere but the town center is remarkably in tact.

In attendance were cousins of every age, ranging from nine weeks to 85 years.  It was a gorgeous day.  Bunny’s brother-in-law Ted gave the blessing. A religious man, he is well known in the family for his deep beliefs in Catholicism.  Nevertheless, he paid a fitting homage to Bunny.  After mentioning God at one point, he looked down at her gravesite and said, “if you believe in God.”  His courtesy brought tears to my eyes and, I have no doubt, a chuckle from Bunny.

Norton, Mass on Bunny's Memorial Weekend.
Norton, Mass on Bunny’s Memorial Weekend.

We each placed a flower on the grave and paused to remember our dear cousin.



After the graveside service we retired to the Norton Country Club and had a wonderfully relaxed lunch.  People spoke a few words.  A guitarist played softly in the background.  We ate, drank, toasted, and hugged.  The only downside of the day was a washed out Powerpoint show of Bunny pictures, dozens of them, from every stage in her life.  The room was too bright, the projector too dim.  But never mind, it was easy enough to go forward and sit for a spell, watching the images go by on the laptop.  It was there that I caught Bunny’s “baby” sister Carol, with her daughter Molly, sitting at the table, watching the cavalcade of Bunny’s life.  But it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the picture that I realized what I caught.  On the screen you can see Bunny and her sister Sally (who almost seems to be blowing a kiss at Carol) and faintly on the right side of the screen is Mary Helen.  Three Gavin sisters, all smiling, all gone to the other side.  Ghostly images looking back on their baby sister.  How lucky we have been to know them all.  ❧

Norton, Mass on Bunny's Memorial Weekend.
Norton, Mass on Bunny’s Memorial Weekend.



Chris and Cooper


I’m really grateful to those of you who follow my blog. It is an honor to me that you give some of your time to read my words or look at my images.  I’m almost ashamed to admit I don’t follow too many bloggers but among those I do is Chris Condello’s: Green Thumbed Vagabond. Not every post but most of them. Chris presents a nice blend of poetry, gardening tips and life observations.  And his personal life is interjected just enough so that you respect him all the more for accomplishing the production of so much beauty…a lesser man might have just said, “F” it.

Chris’s most recent post is called My Little Buddy Cooper.  It’s about his dog, Cooper. Now, if you surf on Facebook at all you have seen your share of cute dogs but, trust me, Cooper is cute. He’s a Corgi. And he is presented in some wonderful images. You will just die for the one where he is running towards you with his tongue flying in the wind.

I wanted to share the wealth because that is part of blogging. Thanks Chris, keep up the good work.

Image #228 – Cataloging Life

Anyone who has ever traveled for an extended period or has a second home knows the anxiety of return. You’ve made all the preparations and you hope that all will be okay when you walk back through that door. But this is life and things happen…things beyond our control.

So it was that I set out on Thursday to return to my home on Fawn Hill in Franklin, North Carolina.  It had been seven weeks since I locked the door and headed south to Florida.  My good friend and neighbor had looked out for things but, still, there was some anxiety. At first things seemed okay. Everything was here, the utilities were working and, most fundamental, the structure was still standing. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered my home had been invaded.

The invader was not human, mammal or insect.  It slipped into my home under the guise of commerce. It was … they were … catalogs!  OMG, there were stacks of them. Some were old familiar friends — L.L. Bean, Land’s End, Duluth Trading. But the majority, the hordes, were cheap, unfamiliar competitors with cute names like Soft Surroundings or Woman Within. The latter felt compelled to send me two identical catalogs with different covers. There was Viking Cruises with travel tours I will never be able to afford and Serengeti with cute, too cute, stuff I will NEVER need.  A dozen unwanted visitors in seven weeks time.  Here they are.

Seven weeks


I trashed them immediately. Like some unwanted insect that you grind under your heel I cast them into the recycle bin with disdain. I had never asked for them; I had never bought a thing at Maryland Square, Sahalie, Cabela’s or Footsmart (two catalogs!).  Why did they descend on me? Initially I blamed it on a gift received from a friend that was, undoubtedly, purchased from a catalog of this ilk.  Perhaps it was mail list companies that had been informed, courtesy of the U.S. Post Office, that Rita D. died years ago and Alice now lives in her place. The catalogs don’t care. If I’m not here they will happily be received by “Current Resident.”

What a scourge. I awoke in the night and actually found myself thinking about them!  OCD brought on by blind capitalism.  I realized, as the quiet mountain night surrounded me, that I was under attack. It wouldn’t stop with these twelve. They were hucksters and had already sold my name to others. Counter-attack was necessary. Like any invasion you MUST beat them back ASAP.

So this morning I tore off the back covers (one of which admonished me to “Please Recycle”!) and returned each one to the sender marked “Please remove me from your mailing list.”  Will it work?  Probably not at first. Catalogs are like roaches. Keep beating back. ❧

Image #115 – New Day

Image #115 (1)We’re back!  Bigger and better than ever…  Computer woes are (hopefully) behind us. The new iMac is a joy and the transfer of data was a breeze. When you’ve matured along with the computer industry you can REALLY appreciate advancement. Twenty years ago it was a nightmare to transfer data from an old computer to a new one. This time the delays were the operator’s fault,  not the operating system.  And there is the pesky element of serial numbers and product keys.   Software programs are unrelenting about wanting that kind of stuff. Having recently moved it was a bit time consuming tracking down some really old, original boxes and discs. Programs are not happy with update product numbers. They are insistent on the original product number.  To all my friends and followers I can highly recommend 1Password. Not only does it track all those online passwords but it also has a folder specifically for software data. It made this process much easier.

So, back to an image a day.  Frequent readers will recall this was supposed to be the iconic photography project – 365.  365 images in 365 days.  I’ve already cheated since I don’t make it a picture I took THAT day.  Sometimes it works out that way but mostly I viewed this as a chance to share some of my pictures, expound a bit on life in a new community or other matters, and keep in touch with friends. I’m sure there are some very disciplined photographers who have done the true 365.  My hat is off to them but now it is back to my version.

This tall fellow, by the way, with his small traveler on the back of his neck, is a giraffe from the Paraa Preserve in Uganda, Africa. I was on a medical mission and we had a day of R&R at the Preserve.  A special time … ☙

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