WHAT MCCAIN REALLY SAID AND NO, THE BILL DIDN’T PASS

I went and actually watched McCain’s speech. While the people on Facebook are going wacko because they believe a bill has been passed, nothing has been passed. All that was done was that the proposal moved to the floor of the Senate where it can be amended and altered.

This is what John McCain actually said, in his words, not what someone on the Internet thinks you should know:

I understand that this is a painful, emotional, frightening issue for most of us, but going crazy before anything happens is not going to fix anything. Take a breath Watch the video. Breathe.

Do NOT believe the crap on Facebook. Don’t you know better by now?

I got slammed for suggesting that debate is exactly what we do need. I don’t think the majority of us prefers Obama care. We simply prefer it to the nothing that has thus far been offered in its stead. Regardless, it needs significant improvements to make it work better. Everyone, including Obama, recognize that and have recognized it since it was enacted.

Do you or do you not believe in our government? If you don’t believe in debate and compromise, what do you expect from your government? We all know that there is no alternative way for a democracy to function … so, have a little faith, people. We’re off track, but we can get back on track, too.

You live with compromise and argument, or you live under tyranny. Or hey, there’s always Putin, you know? To live in a democratic country, you have to cope with people who do not agree with you.

WHAT’S “TRADITIONAL”?

There was a time … long, long ago … when I had traditions. Celebrating Passover. The rituals of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day. New Years Eve and New Year’s Day Feasting. The decorating and piling presents under the tree. Carving a pumpkin. Putting out the little gourds for Autumn.

Oh (little) Christmas Tree

As time moved on, everything slowed. then stopped. We celebrate a semblance of Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but the piles of gifts are gone. I save the best gift for my granddaughter, then nice ones to both parents. Garry and I go shopping during the sale following the holiday when everything is half price.

Uxbridge Common

We don’t need that stuff anymore. We haven’t changed sizes in years. We have plenty of clothing, sweaters, shoes and lord knows I do not want another decorative item for shelves or walls. We were full up on that stuff a long time ago. A particularly interesting book from one of the used bookstores can be interesting and small things that go with the cameras — bags, cleaning cloths, and spare lens caps — are good. Especially spare lens caps. A new camera strap? Okay.

Otherwise, what we really need are things no one can afford. A better screen door for the kitchen and, for that matter, if one exists — a new Dutch door too. And maybe everyone would come over and spent four hours cleaning a couple of times a year — I’d jump for joy on that one!

Even so, we seem to be getting along very well without a lot of the stuff that seemed such a big deal years ago. I don’t miss the 8 foot tree with the falling needles that were still under the rugs two years later.

Or all the broken class ornaments knocked down by cats and dogs. I don’t mind figuring out how we are going to fit a tree into the house. We have a wee little 4-foot table tree that lives (decorated, no lights) in the attic, covered, and can be comfortably plopped on the table in season then covered up and moved back to the attic.

I always wondered why Garry’s parents used to more or less beg us to NOT put up another tree. We were young and we didn’t get that they’d had a lifetime of trees and were perfectly happy to celebrate without the symbols.

Maybe that’s the real truth of it. We like the “feelings” of the holidays, but we don’t need the panoply, the endless decoration, the expense of wrapping papers and tapes and ribbons and cards, then are bagged and dumped. No one needs all the inexpensive little things we gave each other, just to fill up the corners of the holidays.

I miss the family dinners. so if someone else is willing to cook? I’ll put my bells on! I think I have cooked enough family dinners for several lifetimes. And it’s okay. Paper plates work for me!

I remember the first time I told my mom I thought it was time for me to make Thanksgiving. The look of relief that swept over her. I had been expecting an objection, maybe even a complaint … until I realized my mother hated cooking. It was usually my father who cooked with all the resulting bedlam — and even had we been a more “normal” family, they had been hosting family dinners since before I was born. And it was a big family.

 

After I took over that first year, I did it every year. I liked it. I messed around with different versions of turkey, discovered I should never, ever serve soup before the big bird. Stick with simple stuffing. Also, don’t let the bird cool on the counter when you have hungry cats.

There is a time for The Traditions. And then, there is a time to pass traditions slide down the tree to the next generation and the one after that. Sliding down the tree of life, if you think about it, makes sense. That’s the way of it.

When the kids are young — and even when the grandchildren are young — there’s a surprise and a certain bubbly excitement to oncoming holidays. But by the time all three top generations in the family are adults, that magic has quietly faded away. Hopefully leaving some good memories.

We had good holidays. No family battles. No shouting or sniping or ugliness. We didn’t hate each other.

We merely grew older and got tired. Now, the best part is watching old Christmas movies. Bring on “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Going My Way” and “Holiday Inn” and more. Each generation will have their own. Thanksgiving? “Wizard of Oz,” of course! And every single American holiday, it’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at least twice, with reruns of the best dancing.

Bring on traditions — and don’t forget the music and movies!

A FAMILY OF ACTIVISTS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I am a passionate progressive. But I am not an activist. I don’t get out and protest in the streets. Twice in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I did volunteer work for the Presidential Campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and then Ed Muskie, both liberal. That’s the extent of my hands on involvement.

My grandmother, on the other hand, was a serious political activist. She was a socialist in tsarist Russia in the early 1900’s. Being a socialist at the time could be dangerous, so the socialists had to meet secretly to plan and organize. One meeting my grandmother told me about was in rowboats on a lake in the middle of the night. That’s John Le Carre territory!

My grandmother, Sarah, as a young woman in Russia

At one point, the government allowed a large socialist rally near where my grandmother lived, in Minsk. My grandmother talked her sister and mother into going with her. They didn’t tell her father, who was a staunch tsarist. The rally did not go well. A large crowd gathered and was listening to speeches, when the Russian police, — Cossacks — plowed into the crowd on horseback. They shot or clubbed anyone they could reach. The whole thing had been a set up by the government.

My grandmother was literally saved by a dead body falling on her and shielding her from the police. She managed to get her mother and sister home safely. But her father was furious that Grandma had put his beloved wife and favorite daughter (her sister) in danger. This father daughter fight precipitated my grandmother’s move to America in 1908.

In America, Grandma maintained her enthusiasm for left-wing politics and causes and she expected me to follow in her footsteps. I had the opportunity during college. I went to Barnard College from 1967-1971. Barnard is part of Columbia University, the epicenter of the campus protest movement of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The Movement was born at Columbia with the formation of the radical SDS (Students For A Democratic Society). The campus was ‘occupied’ regularly by the radicals and they got a lot of press. It quickly grew into a national protest movement.

Grandma and me around the time I went to college

I didn’t believe in the goals of the movement. I felt that the SDS-ers were negative and destructive. They wanted to tear down ‘the system’ but had no plans for what they wanted to put in its place. My grandmother was furious with me because I wasn’t on the barricades fighting for the revolution. She said that if the young didn’t protest and rebel, then who would fight to change things and make them better?

Grandma had been more successful radicalizing her daughter than me. My mom became very active in the left-wing labor movement in the 1930’s and 1940’s. She helped make unions the powerful force they were in America for decades. She worked with actress and teacher Stella Adler and stripper/celebrity Gypsy Rose Lee to organize fund-raisers for the incipient labor unions. She also marched in the streets for the cause with these ladies and others. One day, she was almost attacked by angry counter protesters. But the police stepped in to protect her.

My mom as a young woman

Mom’s first husband was also politically very active. He was actually a member of the Communist Party in America. He was also a doctor. One of the things he did was give physical exams to young Americans who wanted to go to Spain to fight the fascist Franco and keep them from getting a foothold in Europe. He certified that men who were healthy enough to join the Spanish Freedom Fighters. I think what he did was illegal. I know he risked losing his medical license, if not his freedom. He was brave as well as committed.

So I was a political disappointment to my grandmother. But she adored me anyway. I was active in a few Jewish organizations over the years and always gave to charities and liberal organizations. I was always a socially conscious person, partly due to her influence. Grandma would actually have been proud of me as I got older. I was 26 when she died. She wished that I had manned\ a few barricades while I was young, as she had.

The way things are going with Trump in this country today, I may yet end up on the barricades!

ALONG THE HOUSATONIC IN CONNECTICUT

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 28, 2017


And so we have returned home. Bonnie and Gibbs did not starve in our absence. We have a functional hot water heater and surprising rise in the water pressure making me wonder how long the boiler was leaking. Our plumber said he had a lot of work cleaning up the mud that had accumulated behind it. It must have been leaking for a long time. Months? Years?

Sunset in the marina

For the past couple of days, we’ve been talking and having a lovely time. I can’t begin say what a pleasure it was to be with friends. We were having a difficult week … and it was only Wednesday. I don’t have a lot of road pictures, but I thought this one, taken yesterday evening just before the light disappeared might work.

I have two 25 mm “normal” lenses. The Olympus is fast at f1.8, but the Leica is faster at f1.4. It is also the only camera that will take a good picture when the light is very low.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The next one is from Garry. Garry took almost all the pictures this visit … which you will see as the week progresses!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Boat slips?