THE CHANGING SEASONS: JULY 2016 – REBIRTH AND DROUGHT

The Changing Seasons: July 2016


This has been a strange year. The caterpillars stripped the oaks and the sassafras trees to bare branches. A month later, it looks like springtime in our woods. The trees all have leaves again, but not the deep green leaves of summertime, but the bright yellow-green of newborn leaves.

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It’s good to have the trees looking like trees again.

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It also has not rained in any measurable amount since May. It’s close to a decade since the spring rains stopped. Not that I enjoyed the annual flooding, but I didn’t have to wonder if the well would run dry.

The riverbeds are dry again, the dams locked up to hold as much water as possible. Water restrictions limit use of water of lawns and gardens. We have our own water restrictions in place. Short showers. You don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth … or anything else. I have no idea how the farms in the area handle the problem, but it must be difficult.

No matter how many wells exist in an area, all wells tap into the same aquifer. When it doesn’t rain for months at a time, the aquifer gets low and water pressure decreases. Everyone’s lawn turns brown and the gardens wither. The whole region is dry, this year. Not going to be a great year for apples.

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Since this is perhaps the eighth or ninth consecutive year of mild to severe drought in New England, it leads me to repeat something I read elsewhere (and I’m sorry I don’t remember the source). She asked “How many years of drought do you need before you recognize it isn’t a drought … it’s climate change.”

This isn’t California and the drought is not quite as severe … but this has historically been an area that suffers more from flood than drought. In the sixteen years we have lived in this valley, we’ve seen it go from annual flooding to a steadily increasing water shortage.

Climate change is real and it’s coming to a town near you, if it hasn’t already.


What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

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SURPRISE, SHOCK, AND RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION?

The horror and shock I’m reading and hearing on social media about emails from Democratic National Headquarters are so hypocritical that they’re almost funny. Almost.

This is a dreadful election, maybe the worst in US history and we’ve had some pretty bad elections. That being said, I’m not shocked. No one who has been paying attention for the past forty or fifty years … or read any American history has a right to be surprised, much less shocked.

This is what our political system has always been. The major parties decide who their candidates will be and then do anything and everything to make sure it happens according to plan. It’s how the system works. It has not substantially changed since George Washington was selected (not elected) to be the first President of the United States.


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil

is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

Everyone knows how political parties behave. And what they do. Both parties do the same stuff within their own parties and to the other party. Occasionally (Watergate springs to mind) — more often now with email, hackers, and social media — someone gets caught. Mostly, not. Frequently, this behavior is an open secret, so it never makes the news. It’s just “business as usual.”

Fast forward to 2016. Politics has reached a brutal pinnacle. We accepted this as a norm years ago and have participated in the system by choosing to abstain from involvement (“it’s somebody else’s problem”) or by actively encouraging it. Either way, no one has clean hands. No one is holding the moral high ground of righteous indignation.

Nonetheless, I see everyone acting like “OH MY GOD! Look at this bad behavior! We’ve never seen anything like this before.” Really? Have you been living under a rock?

This is part of the show, part of the game. If someone gets caught with his or her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, whoever didn’t get caught gets to play innocent victim. In my opinion, there is no such thing as an innocent politician. Probably not in any country and certainly not in this one.

Failing to acknowledge that all politicians are or have been part of the same system makes the system impossible to change. Bernie Sanders is no babe in the woods. Like everyone else, he has always known how the game is played. He has played it too.

I repeat for the record: This is how it has always been. We’ve tolerated and encouraged it. We’ve found it amusing. Justified it. Turned it into TV shows and movies. It’s been the favorite fodder of late night comedians as long as we’ve had late night comedians. It’s time for the next act of our national theater: Innocence Offended. We pretend this is something that “happened” while we weren’t looking and therefore, we (the people) are not responsible.


We are all responsible. This is our system. How ironic that one party has decided the antidote to ugly politics is even uglier politics.


We find comfort and sanctuary from the terrible truth by telling each other and ourselves we didn’t know. Which isn’t true. We all know. Knew.

You can’t right wrongs by perpetrating more and greater wrongs. Just because something is legal and constitutional does not make it a good idea — or right. Time to end the hypocrisy. Stop pretending. Accept responsibility for a system we all share.

Let’s take a pass on the moral indignation and deal with reality. Until we do, nothing can change.

THE DAILY POST | SANCTUARY

BINGE WATCHING “OUTLANDER” by ELLIN CURLEY

I am currently binge-watching a show called “Outlander” on Starz. I’m late to the game on this one.  It is in its second season and has legions of loyal fans.

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It takes place in the lush and magnificent Highlands of Scotland and the time period switches back and forth between 1945 and 1745. I am a huge time travel fan so this is a big draw for me. However the butterfly effect is totally ignored. No attention is paid to the fact that the main character would be changing the timeline right and left as she went through each day two hundred years in the past. This is not an intellectual or theoretical endeavor.

The story centers on a married, British WWII nurse who is sucked back in time to 1745 Scotland. She ends up married to and madly in love with (in that order), a young Scottish gentleman who has a price on his head by the British occupiers.

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For me, the key to “Outlander’s” success is that it focuses narrowly on these two main characters – the nurse, Claire and her 1745 husband, Jamie. The subsidiary characters have few plot lines of their own. They are almost exclusively seen with and in relation to Claire and Jamie, which intensifies the viewers’ connection with them. They are both richly complex and appealing characters, played by extraordinarily talented and attractive actors. They are riveting to watch and their fascinating relationship changes and deepens as time goes by.

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The show highlights period costumes and period customs. There is also plenty of romance, nudity and beautiful sex scenes. The writing is fantastic although the heavy dialects often make it hard to understand all of the dialogue. The balance is spot on between high drama and intimate moments; between politics (at all levels) and personal relationships; and between heavy, dark plot lines (including lots of sword fights) and humor and humanity.

On top of everything else, the theme song is permanently stuck in my head as well as my husband’s. The melody is a lyrical old Celtic tune and the lyrics used here are based on a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The song permeates the lush background music and adds atmosphere throughout the series.

I’m usually circumspect about what I recommend to other people on TV, especially when it requires an investment of 16 hours, just for the first season! However, the variety of people who have extolled this show to me makes me confident that it will appeal to a wide range of blog readers as well.

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If you’ve already seen it, tell me what YOU think of it. If you watch it in the future, you’re in for a real treat.

TICK TOCK TICK TOCK

I used to live by the clock. First, there was school — mine — to get to. Papers to write, deadlines to meet, exams to study for and hopefully, pass. Whoosh and I’m racing to get my son ready for school on time, ready for the school bus. Then me to the car for the long commute and watching the clock at work so I’d know when it was time to make that long drive back the other way.


RABBIT - Down_the_Rabbit_HoleWhite Rabbit: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”


After I no long had an office job, I nonetheless wore a watch for some years. It felt odd to not wear one. Then, one day, my watch-wearing-wrist developed an itchy rash. It turned out — no kidding — there’s such thing as an allergy to wrist watches. It comes from wearing a watch for a lot of years and one day, the skin on your wrist rebels. I like to think of it as The Universe sending a message.

I do not wear a watch, these days, but I don’t need one. These days, there is a clock everywhere. On the telephone, cable box, and every item in the kitchen. We have clocks in the car, on the walls, in the halls, in the malls.

Beeping, chirping, ticking and occasionally bonging or ringing, clocks speak to our obsession with time — and our need to be forever busy and in a hurry. Many people are, apparently, proud of how busy they are and look at you with pity because you aren’t. I think they’ve got it backwards.

I am not in a hurry. I am occasionally busy, but I get un-busy as soon as I can. Not living by the clock is a great gift.

I’ve officially clocked out. It turns out, there is life after clocks.

THE DAILY POST | CLOCK

PORTRAIT OF A FORMER RESCUE SCOTTIE

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Gibbs has been with us for four months now and finally, he has decided to join the family. He’s still very wary of strangers. We don’t have much company. That no doubt makes the problem more difficult. Still, he’s doing pretty well.

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Gibbs will look even more handsome soon, because Wednesday is grooming day!

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He (by the way) shows a gratifying willingness to sit still while I take his picture. This is something I cannot convince Bonnie to do.

 

CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL by LARRY JOSEPHSON

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INTRODUCTION by Marilyn Armstrong

Let me begin by saying I am not the author of this article, but it’s a good one and I’m happy to publish it. Not only is it unusual for me to publish an article by someone who isn’t “on the staff” so to speak of Serendipity, I’ve actually never done it before.

This election has me worried at a deep level. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue with all the symptoms of a nascent Adolf Hitler. There. I’ve said it. What so many people I know are thinking, but we don’t want to say it out loud lest we somehow jinx ourselves.

Our silence is a jinx. All by itself. Our lack of involvement has consequences.

For those who still believe their vote does not count, you’re wrong. It counts. Bush got to be president in 2000 by a “margin” (arguably, he actually lost the election) of 547 votes out of millions. If 700 Democrats who didn’t bother to vote had instead gone to the polls in Florida, history would be different.

Do not sit this one out.

These racists and haters — even while they are spouting words that may ring sort of true in an angular way — are wrong. The problems of this country are not because of the non-white or immigrant population, nor because everyone isn’t a white Christian. These people feel disenfranchised because they cannot believe that merely being white and Christian isn’t enough to make them superior and powerful. They are racists, bigots, and a lot of them are, to put it in very simple terms, incredibly stupid.

Don’t be one of them. You can read the full article at by clicking this LINK. Following this section, there’s jump link to the second part of the article on the actual odds of who is going to win what in the upcoming general election. These numbers scare the pants off me and if you aren’t scared, maybe you haven’t given it enough thought.


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CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL – BY ERIN C. YOUNG


It’s a shotgun marriage, this odd relationship between Donald Trump and the Republican Party that he now calls his own. Can it hold together for another four months, long enough to reach the November finish line and accomplish the only real goal that the party has, namely, defeat Hillary Clinton?

Trump’s new significant others (Republicans) have signed on, and they don’t really seem all that interested in exactly what Trump would do as president, or how he would do it. Details, they have been told, are for losers. Policy, in some form or another, will come later, as soon as the Evil Beast has been vanquished. No one wants to talk about the nuts and bolts of raising the minimum wage, how to grow the economy, pay down the debt, or even be told how ISIS would be defeated. They already know that Donald Trump will do the right thing, because — well, because Hillary Clinton would do the wrong thing.

Besides, when Trump does talk specifics, he doesn’t feel the need to hold his line.

  • He won primaries by promising to keep Muslims out of the country, but has modified that stance three times since then.
  • He said he would force the military to torture and kill the families of suspected terrorists, then changed his mind less than 24 hours later.
  • He said he would self-fund his campaign, but has accepted donations via his website and, in an apparent violation of U.S. law, has solicited help from government officials abroad.
  • He has had four different positions on whether the federal minimum wage should be raised and changed his mind three times in the same day when asked about abortion.

Yet Trump still has a puncher’s chance at becoming the next president of the United States and leader of the free world. After all, much of what he’s doing is an embodiment of Richard Nixon’s famous advice to Republicans: run hard to the right in the primaries, then steer back to the center for the general election.

Bush 41 and Bush 43 both took the advice to heart and won. However, Mitt Romney twisted himself into a pretzel doing it, and was soundly defeated. Now it’s Trump’s turn to explain to the American public why he might not do the ultra-conservative things he’s heretofore promised.

“Everything is negotiable,” Trump recently said in an interview with the New York Times. That explanation will be good enough for people already leaning to the right, but what about the truly undecided?

For independents, this general election is a nightmare, forced to decide between the caricature that is Donald Trump and the seemingly robotic duplicity of Hillary Clinton. But it’s a choice that must be made. After all, it’s a two-party system, right? No third-party candidate could garner enough votes to impact the outcome.

Or could they?

As the Republican National Convention draws to a close and the Democrats get ready for their quadrennial coronation, I look at the odds for all the meaty questions leading up to the general election.
Let’s start with the big one …

Presidential Election Odds (and more)

THE SUMMER WIND

SONGS THAT COME BLOWING IN, by Rich Paschall


If you visited this space last Sunday, you saw the top Songs of Summer as given by the musical genius, Brian Wilson.  Those may have been songs that evoked thoughts of summer for Brian, but some were a real stretch of the imagination to me.  I promised you songs that are really about summer.

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Summertime by George Gershwin is arguably the most beloved summertime song ever. Great singers from Billie Holiday through Janis Joplin recorded magical versions of the song. Originally written by Gershwin for the 1935 modern opera, Porgy and Bess, rock and opera stars alike have recorded it. I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably have a favorite version.

When the Beach Boys put out a new album for their 50th anniversary, they served up a perfect piece of nostalgia with Summer’s Gone, written by Brian Wilson. He took lead on the record and in performance.  Unfortunately, they did not do it throughout the anniversary tour and there’s only one fan video from the last stop I can find.  Therefore, this tribute through old and new pictures will have to serve:

Now, the countdown:

10. Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, Nat King Cole, 1963.  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times (as the saying goes) while growing up.  I guess we must really have liked it. Cole was alive then and would turn up on variety shows to perform this.  Unfortunately, variety shows have disappeared.
9.  A Summer Song, Chad and Jeremy, 1964
8.  Summer Nights, from the play and movie, Grease.  It was “the word” for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  If you can look past all the people who killed this song in karaoke, it might still be a favorite.
7.  In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, 1970  The song filled with odd sounds and rhythms was a mega-hit for the British group.
6.  Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone  This one was at the top of the Brian Wilson list.

5.  Surfer Girl, the Beach Boys  This early Beach Boys hit remained a fan favorite through the years.  Almost 50 years after first recording it, they could still perform the harmonies with ease.  Well, if not with ease, then at least with a lot of coaching by Brian:

4.  Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers, 1968  It didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it is one of those songs that keeps getting played.  Now in his 70s, Rivers is still performing his many hits.

3.  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra, 1966  Wayne Newton first recorded the song in 1965, but it is Sinatra who had a hit the following year.

2.  Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts, 1972  Written and performed by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts.

1.  Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966  Released in July 1966, by August it was number 1.  The overplayed summer anthem included a car horn and jack hammer sounds to let you know you were in the city.

What are your summer favorites?