Election Connection – 56 Days Out from the Mid-Terms

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We are 56 days out from the 2022 Mid-Term Elections.

On November 8, we are being called to save our democracy. This is not hyperbole. We saw what happened on January 6, 2021, and the insurrectionists are still fomenting dissent and looking towards autocrats to lead us. We cannot let that happen.

We need to hold the House and expand our majority in the Senate, and we cannot forget the down ballot races, especially those that guide and oversee our local elections.

In a world where a Congressman (Gohmert (R-TX)) just this week traveled to Miami to present a flag to an insurrectionist who served her time as she was released from custody, we need to ensure that the only people in government are the ones loyal to the US and the functioning of its government and not geared towards and cheering for its sabotage.

These are the races to follow in 2022 and if you live in those states, please vote for the Democratic candidate. Everyone else, if you are able please donate to their campaigns.

Senate
Arizona – Mark Kelly (re-election)
Nevada – Catherine Cortez-Masto (re-election)
Wisconsin – (ousting insurrectionist Ron Johnson)
Mandela Barnes
Florida – Val Demmings (former law enforcement, current Congressperson, so much better than Marco Rubio)
Georgia – Raphael Warnock (re-election)
New Hampshire – Maggie Hassan (re-election)
Pennsylvania – John Fetterman (Lt. Governor, former mayor of Braddock)

Governor
Florida – Charlie Crist (former Governor, already knows the job; not an autocrat)
Georgia – Stacey Abrams (she’s Stacey Abrams!)
Texas – Beto O’Rourke (for the people, gun control, 1000x better than Abbott)
Pennsylvania – Josh Shapiro (current Attorney General of PA)
New York – Kathy Hochul (re-election)

House – on a personal note, I would love to see Elise Stefanik unseated. She’s an inciter to riot and an insurrectionist. Vote for the Democrat, save Democracy. Vote Matt Castelli (former CIA Officer, served as Director for Counterterrorism at Pres. Obama’s National Security Council.)

Visit Vote Save America to learn how you can help in your region and across the country.

Mental Health Monday – Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

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The new talk line/help line number has been streamlined to an easy to remember three digit number –

988

It’s the same information, trained counselors willing to listen to you and your concerns, ready to help.

This is the first post for Mental Health Monday this month. I have a friend who commited suicide a few years ago – his birthday was last week, and he was so young, and I think of him often as does his family and his fiance.

When I felt suicidal I was fortunate to have friends encouraging me to get help, a doctor who listened, and a patient family, who may not have understood, but still became supportive to my needs. Simply adjusting the medication took a toll on all of us.

But we got through it.

And I’m glad to be able to post these hopefully helpful encouragements and resources. My main go-to resource is the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website. Visit them and look around to see what suits you.

Inspire. September.

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Today is the twenty-first anniversary since the attack on and the destruction of the World Trade Center. The further away we get from that day, the closer it still remains. The raw, visceral pain is somewhat dulled, but never gone. There are few days that continue to make me feel that way, that bring a tear to my eye and a catch in my throat, and this is one of them. I never know if I should meditate on it privately or write a reflection in commemoration.

On September 10th of that year, we drove home from visiting our family on Long Island, pointing out the World Trade Center to our young son from the bridge, went to sleep that night unbothered, and woke up the next morning to the unthinkable.

Today is a bittersweet day.

Last week, The Foo Fighters performed a tribute concert at Wembly Stadium for their bandmate, drummer, Taylor Hawkins who died suddenly in March at the age of fifty. Many music greats, both inspiration for and inspired by Taylor joined The Foo Fighters onstage including the likes of Paul McCartney, Stewart Copeland, The Pretenders, Mark Ronson, Geddy Lee (Rush), Brian May, Roger Taylor (Queen), Lars Ulrich (AC/DC), and Liam Gallagher (Oasis). Also featured were children of the greats: Violet Grohl (Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters), Rufus Taylor (Roger Taylor of Queen), Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen), and in the video below Shane Hawkins, son of Taylor Hawkins.

I have been watching this set on repeat since I saw it for the first time. It exemplifies how much Shane was loved by his father and is loved by his family and his extended Foo Fighters family. He plays like a pro with the raw emotion that fits and fills the moment. His solo is time-stopping. I love the drums, and I love this so much – this kid, the same age as my youngest, playing spectacularly on his father’s drum kit for us out in the world, for Dave Grohl, looking like a proud uncle, and for his father. It is so much, and it is so profound.

I thought about when to share this video, and as I began to write about today’s memories, I thought that I would include Shane, because just like with 9/11 for New York, for our country, and our families, there was tragedy here for the Hawkins’ and Foo Fighters’ families, but as we move further away from 2001, seeing Shane Hawkins play his father’s music on his father’s drums, there is also hope for the future.

The struggles will subside, the memories will remain, the pain will dull, and the hope will live on.

Queen Elizabeth II, 1926 – 2022

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Queen Elizabeth II died today at the age of 96, having been the longest serving monarch in history at 70 years. In my lifetime, I have never known a king of England or a world without this Queen. I’ve always admired her way of being and truly enjoyed the glimpses into her sense of humor, most recently in her Jubilee video with Paddington Bear. Her assistance of Britain’s own 007 (Daniel Craig at the time) is another special memory. I’m not sure what else can be said. She worked up until this week, and she honored her commitment to her country and the commonwealths under her authority.

While everyone has missteps in their life and work, this is not the time for that historical perspective. She will be remembered for her grace, her dignity, her work ethic, her example in war and difficult times as well as in peace, and hopefully her family and grandchildren will remember her best as their Granny.

Rest her soul.

Travel – Labor Day Weekend

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Labor Day weekend begins the day after tomorrow. Some people are returning home from their end of summer vacations, some are beginning their getaways. Our family is traditionally back by Labor Day weekend. This year we didn’t go away – car and house repairs made that cost prohibitive but we did manage to do an overnight trip that, to be honest, had its ups and downs. We’re spending this week of vacation getting together for dinner and mini-golfing at the end of the week, and then back to school and work for most of us. Middle child started college so he’s been attending classes while the rest of us have been sleeping late and eating potato chips for breakfast or something equally healthy!

New York has a vast amount of wonderful things to do and places to visit. I truly love living in New York. Even at the height of Covid, we were still able to travel within the state safely. Staying in a hotel and eating at restaurants, we felt very safe.

Here are a few of my recent recommendations:

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Inspire. August.

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I’ve often talked and written about how profoundly life-altering it was when I returned from my first (and at the time I thought only) trip to Wales. It was barely forty-eight hours and yet it left an indelible mark on my soul. It led me down new paths that branched off and created new adventures and journeys within these past thirty-five years. If I recall correctly, that first summer was spent working at (the now defunct) Waldenbook’s bookstore, where as an employee I received a 33% discount, and folks wonder why I had less money at the end of the summer than I started with. I was straightening and dusting books, and performing an additional wide plethora of mindless tasks when I noticed a small mass market paperback book high on a shelf. It was the title that drew my attention: Here Be Dragons. I thought it would be fantastical and in line with my hobby of playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I was to be disappointed in that, and extremely gratified to discover that it was a novel based in medieval Wales centering on the life and world of the Prince of Wales, Llywelyn Fawr.

I was drawn into this story quickly. This is the only book that I’ve owned three copies of: one that I read several times and gave to someone to read, a new copy to replace that one, and a digital copy for my Kindle. There were two subsequent novels, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, now know more or less as The Welsh Trilogy. I was all in.

The author, Sharon Kay Penman had a way of bringing me into the medieval age, and I read the rest of her books – all of them – voraciously. Not one was a disappointment. One of the things that drew me so deep was Penman’s Author’s Notes, where she discussed and explained her researching process and she defined some of the things that seemed implausible but that had in fact actually happened.

  1. Lady Joanna’s affair, the burning of the prince’s bed, and the execution of her lover. True.
  2. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, the prince’s son was held hostage by King John and the terms of his release were detailed in the Magna Carta; yes, THE Magna Carta. True.
  3. Eleanor de Montfort kidnapped by pirates. True.

And much more.

Earlier this week, I discovered that Ms. Penman died in early 2021. I am heartbroken, but I’ve discovered her last published book, The Land Beyond the Sea, which I began this afternoon. The memories of reading her well-researched and well-developed books will continue to inspire me as I continue to gain insight into the process of writing and the joy of reading.


“We’d become aliens in our own land,” he’d warned, “denied our own laws, our own language, even our yesterdays, for a conquered people are not allowed a prideful past. Worst of all, we’d be leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of misery and loss, a future bereft of hope.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, The Reckoning

“But in all honesty, I do not find it so peculiar a notion, that a Welshman should rule Wales.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

“Poor Wales. So far from Heaven, so close to England.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons

“Fretting about time’s passing will not slow it down one whit.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here be Dragons

“for each age interprets the past in the light of its own biases.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) in or around the 13th century. Dolwyddelan, Gwynedd, North Wales. (I don’t imagine it looked much different in his time, especially from this angle.)
(c)2022

World Photography Day

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I have always loved taking photos. It took me quite some time to switch from film to digital, and more recently have I forgone using an actual camera for my cell phone. As the online world is more interactive and visual I try to take photos to accompany my writings. I think it adds to the layers of my writing life as well as much of my spiritual life. In looking for photos to include on this day, I did some googling and research into photography. Living in New York, I’m partial to Kodak and the Eastman-Kodak company, not to mention their connection to Paul McCartney and his family.

In reading up on National Photography Day from the National Day website, I was reminded of a postcard that I carried with me for the longest time. It is one of the few pieces of artwork that I recognize immediately and draws me into the black and white mysteries of the art world as well as a bygone past and of course the romanticism of Paris.

The Kiss by Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, photographed by Robert Doisneau. Fair Use. (c)2022

There is so much going on that it inspired me throughout high school and college in creating characters, writing their stories, and including myself in the background of the photo, perhaps in the lobby of the Hotel de Ville.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes, and in many cases more than a thousand words in descriptions, feelings, dreams, and spirit. Although not all of them need a caption; the picture is often enough. Here are a few of my own:

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Bad Poetry Day

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I don’t know who decides these things, but today is bad poetry day. I am not a great poet, but sometimes I try. Below the cut is some artwork with a haiku that I did for last year’s GISH. Tokitae is a whale at the Miami Aquarium who was taken from her pod decades ago. She still sings and recognizes the songs of her pod. I believe she has since been returned to her natural habitat.

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