MUNDANE MONDAY ON A BRIGHT WEDNESDAY

Finding beauty in ordinary objects is not difficult when the things with which you have furnished your home are beautiful in your eyes. I’m a collector — or perhaps I should say “reformed collector” —  so there’s a lot of stuff here that gives me joy just to look at it. They serve no other purpose but to be beautiful.

The first genuinely bright day in a couple of weeks made taking indoor pictures much more attractive!

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This is my dining room. More to the point, this is the home of my Dracaena Marginata, the plant I’ve been growing — and cutting back — for more than 20 years.

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It needs to be pruned again as it starts to scrape against the ceiling. These must be the easiest of all indoor plants. The whole dracaena family are tolerant of low light and forgetful watering.

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Give them half a chance and they will keep growing and never disappoint you. And … they are beautiful. Every once in a blue moon, they will also flower, though the flowers are nothing to write home about.

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE #68 : LEARN PHOTOGRAPHY

This is a challenge created to find beauty in almost everything. The challenge is simple : find beauty in everyday mundane things and frame it beautifully and upload the photographs. And give me a pingback by including the URL of this post in your challenge post.

If you think this challenge helps you to see ordinary things in a more beautiful way and to improve your photography, do help a friend to improve their skills too. You are free to Tag/Challenge a friend to join MMC, so that world around us look more beautiful to more people around us.

STORM OF THE CENTURY – EVIL SQUIRREL’S NEST

This is a great story and it’s also true! This is peak baseball season. Time for some thrills and chills that have absolutely nothing to do with politics! From the inimitable Evil Squirrel’s Nest, I give you …

STORM OF THE CENTURY!

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Mother Nature's always at her worst when I go to a ballgame. Mother Nature’s always at her worst when I go to a ballgame.

If you happen to be one of those weird people who actually keep track of my weekly picture dayfeatures, then you’re probably looking at your squirrel calendar right now wondering if it’s really Wednesday already.  No… calm down.  It’s still just Tuesday.  If you have a stereotypical job, you’ve got another three and a half days to toil away yet before the next weekend.  I decided to run Picture Day a day early this week because I wanted to commemorate the night I had a front row seat to the most wicked weather event this city’s seen in my lifetime… and that occurred ten years ago today on July 19, 2006.

It was just another Wednesday night at the ballpark for me… it was also the one game each year my Mom tags along to.  Which is good, because…

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ELECTING A PRESIDENT THE AMERICAN WAY

It’s here! The Republican Convention — the big show we’ve been waiting for. I’m sure it’s the hottest thing to hit Cleveland since 1997 when they won the American League Pennant but lost the Series.

This first day wasn’t quite the thrilling event pundits have been touting, though it had its moments, at least a few of which will become sound bites on the late news.

No shootings, no riots worth noting, in or outside the convention hall. Trump didn’t say anything wildly outrageous, or at least nothing I remember. Frankly, after last night, when Trump declared Obama as personally responsible for the shootings in Baton Rouge while his so-called running mate said Hillary Clinton invented ISIS, he’d be hard put to top that.

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This is about how our electoral system does — and doesn’t — work. It’s a rewrite of a post from last March when we were in the early stages of political self-destruction. We are much further down that road now.


The United States isn’t a democracy. We are a constitutional republic. Over all, the system is pretty good and usually works. Eventually. Except when it comes to election law and picking a president.

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The first time this became apparent, it was 1800. The U.S. was a mere 24-years old. It was only our second real national election because George Washington was selected, not elected.

Due to a glitch in the architecture of the electoral college, the Democratic-Republican candidates — Thomas Jefferson, for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President — won the same number of electoral votes.

According to History Central: 

… no one had the majority of votes, and the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. The House deliberated from February 11th to February 17th and voted 36 times. The Federalists had decided to support Burr … (and) would have won since they were the majority of the outgoing House. However, the constitution called for the election of a President by the House on a state-by-state basis. The Federalists could not carry enough states. On the 36th ballot Jefferson was selected.

That glitch got fixed in time for the next election in 1804, but twenty years later, there was a four-way election starring John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. The electoral vote was Jackson – 99, Adams – 84, Crawford – 41, Clay – 37. The three leading candidates went to the House of Representatives for a final decision. With a little help from media-fueled scandal, J.Q. Adams won on the first ballot of the House. After taking office, he appointed Henry Clay Secretary of State. Hmm. Nothing suspicious there.

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This was the last time the House made the pick, but it wasn’t the last race to be decided outside the ballot box.

In 1876 the Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden while the Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000 votes (out of approximately 2 million), but the vote was tight in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Exactly how this got resolved is complicated. Suffice to say, it was a cooperative bag job by Congress and the SJC. The final decision landed Hayes in the Oval Office and brought an end to Reconstruction. Which, coincidentally, is what the south wanted all along.

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In the election of 1888 Grover Cleveland (incumbent Democratic President) faced Republican Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. Harrison became President, but lost to Cleveland in a rematch four years later, making Cleveland the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. It’s also the only “disputed” election settled by an election.

The first memorable election of my life was the tight race between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. It was the first election I watched on TV. It went on through the night and was still undecided as the sun rose.

kennedy election posterI was 13. I liked Kennedy. He made great speeches and was cute. The electoral vote was extremely close, but Kennedy held a lead in the popular vote for the entire race. This was the first time I remember hearing everyone say (after Nixon conceded) “We should overhaul the electoral college.” I’m still waiting.

Forty years later, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the recount of the tightest election in our history. Just over 537 votes out of more than 6 million separated Gore and Bush. Evidence strongly suggests Gore was the true winner, but the Supreme Court called the play. Which they had — have — no authority to do. The problem is, no one else had (has) the authority to decide a disputed presidential election. What’s a country to do?

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There are precedents, but each is a one-off, a solution cobbled together to patch up the crack in the liberty bell. If it happens again — we can safely assume it will — a new quickie solution will be thrown together.

When the Supreme Court stopped the recount in 2000 — a vote which was entirely along party lines (party lines don’t officially exist in the Supreme Court) — nothing in the Constitution gave the SJC the right to do it. But in the U.S., the Supreme Court is “the final word.” You can’t argue with the Supreme Court, can you? With no precedent for disputing the authority of the SJC, we accept it. The buck stops there. We grumble, complain, rail, and rant. But no one refuses to obey a Supreme Court ruling.

It’s something to ponder while we watch a terrifying election. Maybe it’s not the most terrifying election ever. As Stephen Colbert noted, “Trump might not actually be the worst ever president. We’ve had some really bad presidents …”

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Indeed we have had some terrible chief executives. The constitutional requirements to become president are that he or she be 35 years old, a resident of the United States for 14 years, and a natural-born Citizen (a term not defined in the Constitution). No requirement for education or experience. We are free to pick nominees from the bottom of the barrel. We are also free to pick the best and brightest — but apparently, we don’t want smart, capable people running things.

You wouldn’t hire someone to mow your lawn without knowing if they can use a lawn mower, yet we are nominating a guy to run for president because he has a lot of money and wants the job. Otherwise, he has no experience that would lead anyone to believe he can or should do the job.

That’s the thing about freedom. We are free to trade our freedom for a bag of baseballs or a puff of hot air. We won’t be the first or last country to choose a terrible leader. I hope we survive our choices.

SEARCHING FOR PERFECT PIZZA – SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2016 Week 29


What is the perfect pizza?

Not in New England. I cannot help it. I know in my bones that the perfect pizza is nowhere to be found outside the five boroughs of New York. Brooklyn, last I knew, had the best of the best. The perfect pizza has a thin, slightly crispy (but not hard) crust. Plenty of sauce and lots of cheese. Mozzerella and  parmesan. Maybe romano too.

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Toppings? Whatever you like except — I vote with Terry Pratchett on this one — pineapple. Pineapple has no place on a pizza. You can argue with me until we are both too old to care. Pineapple is a great fruit, but fruit doesn’t go on pizza. No fruit. On. Pizza.

Moreover. Great pizza is hand tossed, then baked in a coal-fired oven. Nothing else comes near it. I can smell it in my dreams …

Meanwhile, it being a long way to New York, we eat pretty much any pizza. With exceptions. Most of it is okay. Imperfect, but edible.

What is your favorite time of day?

Although I sleep through it most days, just around daybreak is my favorite time of day.

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Even if I’m only away for a few moments of it, there’ something different about the light as it comes up over the horizon.

Show us two of your favorites photographs?  The photos can be from anytime in your life span.  Explain why they are your favorite.

I have over 100,000 photographs and I don’t even remember most of them. Thus, because dawn was the subject of the last question, I will give you my two favorite pictures taken at sunrise.

In this first pictures, I saw the sun and the cloud would intersect and I waited until the exact moment when it happened. Patience was rewarded! I endured a million mosquitoes, but got a dozen pictures that are still among my all-time favorites. Moments like this can’t be repeated.

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Taken originally in 2010, both my equipment and my technique have vastly improved … but you can’t repeat the moment.

The second picture was taken at almost the same time of day on the beach in Ogunquit, Maine. I took a few dozen pictures that morning and all of them are favorites, but this one, with the mist still hanging over the beach, is a favorite.

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Complete this sentence:  I’m looking forward to…. 

The end of this heat wave … and some rain!

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I WOULD LIKE … A BUCKET LIST by ELLIN CURLEY

I WOULD LIKE

  • I would like to feel “cool” because feeling “nice” is getting old.
  • I would like to stand up for myself with righteous confidence instead of dread and anxiety.
  • I would like to look at my friends’ grandchildren without envy.
  • I would like to be able to edit what comes out of my mouth as well as I used to.
  • I would like to believe that whatever I wrote last is not the last thing I’ll be able to write.
  • I would like to go to a party and be “the life of the party”, whatever that is.
  • I would like to stop hearing my mother’s voice in my head judging what I’m wearing.
  • I would like to be a “bitch” once in a while and do what I want without considering the effect on the people around me. (It’s that “nice” thing again.)
  • I would like to pick up an interesting but long book without doubting I’ll ever finish it.
  • I would like to go to a movie without eating a whole bag of popcorn — except … why else go see the movie in a theater?
  • I would like to have people over for dinner without making enough for twice as many people. Having minimal leftovers would be a unique and exciting experience.
  • I would like to forget or misplace something without assuming it’s a sign of impending senility.
  • I would like to be able to think about food without automatically counting points or calories.

What about you?

SLOW DRIVING

SLOW DRIVERS | THE DAILY POST


Garry and I are old enough to remember the good old days and I’m the perfect age to have been one of the kids in the back seat pinching and punching a sibling while whining: “Are we there yet?” How come our parents didn’t kill us before we grew up?

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It’s a question that has taken on considerable depths of meaning with the passing decades

Those of you who wax poetic about the wonderfulness of slowly trundling down America’s scenic back roads should take a car trip across New England.

New England roads — the good roads, the paved roads, the roads with passing lanes — run north and south. For reasons no one can explain (lack of money? no interest? not enough tourists?), only one or two lane local roads travel east and west. If (for example) you are traveling the 231 miles from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont, you will experience some of the nation’s most beautiful scenery. Very slowly. On roads that have not changed and in many cases, also haven’t been repaved, since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.

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No limited-access highway will sully your pure travel experience. You won’t be tempted to eat fast food from familiar chains. No driver will tailgate to make you speed up. The car ahead of you — what we refer to as our “pace car” — will likely be an aging pickup rattling down the mountain. One of the driver’s feet will be glued to the brake pedal while he or she engages in a lively conversation as the truck weaves left and right from shoulder to shoulder. You’ll be hard put to figure whether or not the vehicle has a steering problem, or the driver is doing it on purpose to make you crazy. Whatever the reason, you are not going to pass that pickup.

Although you won’t find fast food chains, you won’t starve. There’s plenty of good food and gasoline you can pump as you pass through the quaint New England towns. Classic towns with white clapboard churches and at least one or two pizza parlors. Baked goods for sale. Chilled pop in bottles and cans. Clean bathrooms.

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It’s a breathtaking journey through the mountains. Magnificent and surreal. Directly in front of you for the entire trip will be a poky driver who will never exceed (or even meet) the speed limit.He or she would never consider letting his vehicle get within 10 miles of whatever that silly sign says is a safe, legal speed for traveling those twisting roads.

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There will also be plenty of construction. Everywhere and oddly, if you go back the following year, the construction will still be in progress. After four or five of the dozen hours of that drive, the urge to get your car up to ramming speed and push the slow drivers out of the way becomes an obsession.

Slow drivers lurk on side roads. Do they use spotter craft so they know when we are coming? We try to pass, but they appear out of nowhere. They pull out and immediately slow to a crawl. If, by some miracle we briefly break free, another slow driver is poised for action at the next intersection.

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When Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed and built the interstate highway system. I bet I know why. He was from farm country himself and had been recently traveling America’s glorious back roads. He knew he could never defeat the slow drivers … so he just built bigger, faster roads.

Just … not in New England.