STANDING WITH STANDING ROCK

You’d think, after all these years, as a nation we’d have grown enough to treat the Native people with respect. But you’d be wrong. We haven’t grown at all.

Dogpaddling Through Life

Friday I went on a hike where I learned about the Trail of Tears. How white people forced the Cherokee to give up their lands and walk from Georgia to Arkansas and eventually to Oklahoma. How whites kept pushing the Cherokee out of their way for years, and how the Cherokee fought for the right to remain on their lands all the way to the US Supreme Court, who ruled in their favor, but President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce the court ruling.

ictotmapnps There were several routes taken by the Cherokee to Arkansas and eventually Oklahoma. Those forced to walk the northern route (dotted line) went through downtown Nashville. 

I learned that gold was found on Cherokee land in Georgia. White people wanted that gold, so the US army forced Cherokee people from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, held them in interment camps for months…

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HAPPY 184TH BIRTHDAY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT – AND ALL THOSE LITTLE WOMEN

women's suffrage-2In an alternate universe, Louisa May Alcott would be 184 today. In my alternate universe, we all live — as a matter of course — to at least 200. And because of our extended life span, we are better custodians of our earth recognizing that we will have to live in the mess we make of tomorrow when we despoil our world today.

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet, best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).

Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

Bronson Alcott was a dreamer, not an earner. The result was that her family went through extended periods of dire poverty and Louisa was required to work to help support the family from very early on.

louisa_may_alcott_5c_1940_stampPublished in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, later renamed Hillside, then the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on an idealized portrait of Alcott’s childhood experiences growing up with her three sisters. Real life was much harder than the life she lived in “Little Women.”

“Little Women” was high successful almost immediately.

As Joan Goodwin explains, “from this point on Louisa May Alcott was a victim of her own success. Though she yearned to do more serious fiction, children’s books flowed from her pen for the rest of her life because their sales supported her family. Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose.”

Following in her mother’s path, Alcott pursued women’s rights with fervor, enlisting the aid of famous colleagues such as Thoreau and Hawthorne to her cause.

Goodwin goes on to write that now “Alcott gave her energy to practical reforms, women’s rights and temperance. She attended the Women’s Congress of 1875 in Syracuse, New York, where she was introduced by Mary Livermore. She contributed to Lucy Stone’s Woman’s Journal while organizing Concord women to vote in the school election. ‘

“I was the first woman to register my name as a voter,’ she wrote. “Drove about and drummed up women to my suffrage meeting. So hard to move people out of the old ruts.” And again, “Helped start a temperance society much-needed in Concord]. I was secretary, and wrote records, letters, and sent pledges, etc.”

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Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts

Louisa continued to publish children’s books, and in 1880, after her sister, May, died after childbirth, she adopted May’s baby who was named for Louisa, but called “Lulu.” In 1882, after her father suffered a stroke, Louisa settled the remaining members of her family at 10 Louisburg Square. Her own health was failing. It is generally believed from her pictures and other descriptions that she suffered from Lupus. There was little knowledge of Lupus at that time. No cure or medicine to lessen its impact. Louisa moved “from place to place in search of health and peace to write, settling at last in a Roxbury nursing home,” according to Joan Goodwin.

Jo March - By Madame Alexander

Jo March – By Madame Alexander

Her father, Bronson Alcott, who she faithfully tended even as her own health declined, died on March 4, 1888. Louisa outlived him by only two days. She passed away at age fifty-six.

She had known her death was near, despite her relative youth. She had adopted her widowed sister Anna’s son John Pratt to whom she willed her copyrights. Through him, all income from her books would be shared amongst her nieces and nephews — Anna, Lulu, John, and Anna’s other son Fred.

Louisa May Alcott never married, in part because the right person eluded her — but ultimately because she was unwilling to give up her freedom and personal power to a husband.

Louisa May Alcott was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord on “Author’s Ridge” near Thoreau and Emerson. A Civil War veteran’s marker graces her gravestone. During her lifetime, she produced almost three hundred books, but the one that most every knows remains “Little Women.”

KOMOREBI AND BOKEH: JAPANESE – THE PHOTOGRAPHY LANGUAGE

When talking about photography, English doesn’t cut it. As it turns out, Japanese does.

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The Japanese have a word for everything, it seems. I just learned “komorebi.” It means “sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees,” and by extension, the natural filtering of light through anything. Like glass or curtains, for example.

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It’s just the word I’ve needed. I’ve been chasing that light for more than 40 years.

Bokeh is my previously learned favorite Japanese photographic term. It defines something difficult to say in English: “Bokeh means the aesthetic quality of blur in the out-of-focus areas of an image produced by a lens.”

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Like this?

 

72-romantic-flowers-10162016_01Or that?

Kaity

I’m sure there’s more, but this is my vocabulary lesson for the day.

LOSING: IT’S THE FLIP SIDE OF WINNING

It’s not just that Trump won. It’s that we lost.

Despite what I’m reading on social media, we didn’t lose only because of faux news, the FBI, unfair press, or badly handled emails, though all of that contributed. We also lost because of what we did, and should have done — but didn’t. This election was ours to lose and we lost it, good and proper.

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The bitter battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton planted seeds of deep suspicion that she was corrupt. It went on a long time and left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, many of those mouths belonging to people who normally would have voted blue. Even worse, after finally bandaging that wound, Hillary Clinton didn’t listen to the people. Up in the usually Democratic rust belt, people wanted to talk about the economy and jobs. She wanted to discredit Trump.

If you want to win, you need to listen. To address the concerns of the voters — or they won’t vote for you. She knew that and so did her people. So she won the popular vote, but lost the majority of states. In each of those lost states, she lost the popular vote in too — unless the recount in Wisconsin shows something else. Regardless, I doubt even a recount will change the result. I would be astounded if it did.

You may not like or fully understand the system, but it is our system. It has always been our system and the candidates fully understand how it works. Hillary Clinton has been in the political arena her entire adult life. She has no excuse.

And. Bernie Sanders needs to ask himself: Was it worth it? He blew up his own party. Is he going to stick around and help put it back together? Or was destruction his goal from the beginning? As liberals, Democrats, and voters, we need to think about where we go from here.

There’s more than enough blame to go around. If we are going to indulge in finger-pointing, we may need extra fingers. Presumably we learned (relearned) at least one lesson: corrosive in-fighting is not a winning strategy.

It’s time to start walking a more productive path. To make positive changes. Put together a winning strategy for 2020. Unless, of course, we want Trump for eight years rather than four.


 THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS HERE TO STAY


The electoral college was created by the founders of this country as part of the constitution. It’s not a recent law we can change or rescind. To remove it would require an amendment to the Constitution. Which is not happening. The assigned electors per state can be (and are) adjusted to make the college more representative and reflective of the U.S. population. But eliminated? I doubt it.

The electoral college was created to balance the power and interests of populous, industrial states and make sure agricultural, rural states with lower populations don’t get trampled in national elections. 

That is exactly what it did. Although Hillary Clinton (my preferred candidate) won more popular votes, she won all her votes in the big, urban, industrial states. Trump got fewer votes, but won far more states. You and I may not like it, but the electoral college was designed to make sure that popularity and population are not the only things that factor into electing a president.

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Is it fair? I think it’s rather like the referee’s call in a football game. It depends on whether the call favors you or the other team.


THE U.S. IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. 


The United States is a constitutional republic and popularity is not the only factor that counts in a presidential election.

The electoral college is an integral part of the structure of our government and its presence is exactly what makes us a republic rather than a democracy. Before you start howling about abolishing it, recognize that it was put in place for a reason, even if you don’t like the reason. If you lived in Wyoming, you would feel it was protecting your interests … and you’d be right.

If you live in a big, blue state, do you really believe you are entitled to enforce your will on the entire country? Does it mean you always get to pick the winner?  I don’t like Trump, but our system works the way it is supposed to. It isn’t a cheat or a scam or something that’s been overlooked and needs fixing. It was designed and included intentionally so you don’t get disenfranchised because you live in the country or on a farm.

I’m surprised how many people apparently don’t understand how the Constitution or our government works. Didn’t we all learn this in school?


If you are interested in learning more, you can start here at History.com ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Or, just Google “electoral college” and poke around. There’s plenty of information easily available.