VOTING BLUE IN THE BLUEST STATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sure California could make its own case as “the bluest state” but I think Massachusetts has a real grip on the whole “blue” thing.

We had our primaries last Tuesday. Since a lot of Democrats run unopposed, getting elected in the primaries is pretty much getting elected. The Republicans run national candidates, but locally, they often don’t bother.

Especially because our Democrats aren’t always particularly liberal. Some of them are clearly old-fashioned conservatives, but because they live in this state, they are registered as Democrats. I’ll bet this works the same way in traditionally Republican states.

Why fight with color? You are what you are, no matter what your banner might say.

Finally, this year we’ve been seeing some young or at least younger local people running. And winning. For many local offices, we had some young people — late thirties, early forties campaigners — running for office.

Finally! Some of the candidates, we just didn’t know enough about to make a judgment, but in the race for Secretary of State, there was a clear choice between Bill Galvin who has been holding that office since before I moved to the state in 1987.

Ayana Pressley, the new house of representatives winner beating long-term Representative Micheal Capuano

Galvin is, was, will always be, an old-fashioned conservative. Anywhere else, he’d be a Republican. In Massachusetts, it’s simpler to hold to your personal opinions but run as a Democrat or Independent.

He handles a lot of money issues and has done a good job of keeping our tax money in the treasury. Basically, he has done this by letting everything fall apart. The roads are giant potholes. You could lose a tank in some of those holes. The bridges are crumbling, too and around here, where we are completely surrounded by rivers, it’s getting a bit perilous to drive anywhere.

I think we will hear more from Josh Zakim. Especially after one more year of crumbling infrastructure.

Galvin (left) and Josh Zakim (right)

We have a billion dollar positive balance in our bank, but the infrastructure explains why that is. The trains are an ongoing disaster. Every year, they appoint a new transportation secretary and fire him or her in the spring, which is right after winter when those old, damaged rails stop functioning. We lack most of the safety features newer trains use.

It would help if they actually appointed someone who knew something about trains — but the real problem is that Massachusetts doesn’t want to spend the money to fix the railroads on which so many people depend. Daily. We have an underground and a lot of other, surface trains that are “supposed” to be fast, but barely gasp their way into the station. Places like Uxbridge don’t even have trains anymore.

We thought the young guy, Josh Zakim (34 years old) had a chance, but Galvin took him down two to one in the primary. Garry and I hoped for someone not quite so stodgy and old. You can’t win them all.

We did get a few young ones and a couple for whom I hold high hope. We got our very first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representative from Massachusetts, Ayana Pressley.

It’s the same seat Tip O’Neill and Teddy Kennedy held, so she certainly has an honorable place to start her fight. The guy she defeated, U.S. Congressman Michael E. Capuano had held the seat for ten years — was warmly gracious about her win and his loss.

Imagine that! Graciousness in politics! Who could have imagined such a shocking event in 2018?

Ayana Pressley is running unopposed in November, so she is set to become the first African-American woman elected to Congress from this Commonwealth. Many people compare Ayana Pressley’s win to that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner in New York (age 28)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old an educator and political activist who, on June 26, 2018, won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district — considered a significant upset and I wish her all the best.

Even though Massachusetts is the “bluest” state in the country, our “blues” range from highly conservative (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) to very far left and straight-out socialist. I’ve lived under Socialism and rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s a pretty decent system. It has flaws too, but overall, it works. Rather better than our government is working, but that wouldn’t be difficult.

Charlie Baker, our guv, is the most left-wing Republican on the map. Massachusetts’ always elects liberal Republican governors. It’s a thing. Maybe some kind of balance?

Our senate and house are Democrats, but the governor is usually a Republican. After a brief flurry of Conservative speeches when he takes office, he quickly realized that he isn’t going to accomplish anything unless he works with all those Democrats in Congress. So, he buckles down and does what they all do. Governors work with the House to try and get something accomplished.

Remarkably, what gets done is rarely what everyone was hoping for — like rebuilding the damned bridges before they fall into the rivers. And making the trains run, even when it snows. And preventing them from derailing and crashing.

I miss Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy. I miss the savvy guys who knew how to write legislation, then reach across the aisle and turn it into functional policy that helped people. Nationally, our legislators are stuck like a fly to flypaper. Lots of buzzing followed by death.

I have no idea how all the other primaries have gone. Primaries from states not part of New England are not covered by the news here, so I’m just hoping that at least in a few places, younger, more open people are running for office.

There was a comedienne on Colbert last night who commented that our government is quite simply too old. The reason why Drumpf thinks coal mining is a cool idea is that he’s old. Really old. No one younger than 70 would think for a minute coal mining is “the way to go” and how we’ll find “new jobs.”

That isn’t a new job. It’s a terrible, awful, poorly paid, dead-end job no one but a few people who grew up in the mines thinks is a good idea. Yeah. Let’s save 200 jobs and trash a few million. Way to go, U.S.A.

I love some of our older senators and representatives. There are some smart, savvy guys and gals there. But we need some new life too. We need them to stop sleeping at their desks and find ideas for the next 100 or so years.

THE CHANGING SEASONS: AUGUST 2018 – AS SUMMER ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: August 2018


Photographs by:
Garry Armstrong
Ben Taylor
Marilyn Armstrong

Unlike in July, this month, we took some pictures. Of course, the two months look a lot alike, though July has more flowers. This month, I’m including pictures of mine, pictures from Garry and a few from a good friend who was visiting us and shooting his amazing (I want one!) Olympus Pen-F camera.

Please look for the shooter’s signature on photographs so you know who took it!

High point of the month: Garry gets his new hearing equipment.

And we got a new(er) car, a bright orange Jeep Renegade!

We saw goats.
Ben’s goats!

There were horses and chickens and cows — and one brown calf, as well as a barn full of cats and kittens.

Kitten anyone?
One beautiful cat! \
Up the ladder
Ben’s horses 
Garry’s horse
Marilyn’s horses
Photo: Ben Taylor

And let us not forget the landscapes and the produce!

And we had two lovely meals in Miss Mendon, a refurbished Worcester Dining car located at the car dealer (it’s a big dealership).

And  just one more …

Last of the daylilies

It has been a busy and exciting month and I’m exhausted! But happy, too.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s post, she will update it with links to all of yours.

UPDATE

Please check out these bloggers and see how August played out for them

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Klara’s Brussels in August

FROM THE SHINBONE STAR – “WITCH HUNT” KNOCKING ON DONALD’S DOOR – REBLOG

‘WITCH HUNT’ KNOCKING ON DONALD’S DOOR

Terrible Tuesday, Donald? Your head hurt? Are you tongue-tied? Feeling a little burnt? Yes, this is a “witch hunt,” but it sure isn’t rigged.

You’re the “witch,” Donald, and the hunter, Robert Mueller, will soon be knocking on your door in the wake of your once “fixer” Michael Cohen pleading guilty in federal court to violating campaign finance laws “at the direction and in coordination of a candidate for federal office.”

That’s you, Donald, in case you forgot that you ran for federal office in 2016 and weren’t appointed to the position by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Yep, Cohen tagged you with directing him to make hush payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) and Playboy model Karen McDougal to kill their stories alleging you had affairs with them in your sordid past. For some, $280,000 is mad money — $130,000 to Stormy and $150,00 to Karen. But it all adds up to perhaps your having to leave the White House a bit sooner than 2020.

You and your cohorts might try to find comfort in the fact that Cohen’s plea deal didn’t call for him to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York. But there’s bad news for you even in that development: The agreement doesn’t stop him from telling Mueller all he knows about you and your campaign’s involvement with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Remember, Cohen has claimed that you knew in advance about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian representatives, your golden boy Donnie Junior, son-in-lawlessness Jared Kushner, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort in attendance. And the headline at that meeting? The Russians offering dirt on your soon-to-be opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton.

That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of what “The Fixer” will be sharing with Mueller in the near future. Keep in mind that Cohen has tapes and e-mails at his disposal. Keep spinning your side of the story, Donald, and let’s see what Cohen’s treasure trove of possible — no probable — criminal activity reveals.

You see, Cohen doesn’t want to spend too much time in jail. He’d rather see you suffer the consequences of your nefarious actions used to flim-flam an unsuspecting American electorate into putting you into the White House.

How many more lies are you going to foist on our country in a desperate attempt to stay in office, and to prop up your failing real estate enterprise at taxpayers’ expense?

Will Melania stick with you when the money disappears? By the way, in case you didn’t notice, she hates living in the White House. She wants to go back to New York, probably without you.

Cohen’s courtroom revelation was just the highlight of Terrible Trump Tuesday: Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud; Manafort, who helped rewrite the Republican platform at the convention to favor the Russians, was found guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud by jurors in a federal court, and Manafort has another trial in Washington next month on charges of lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying.

Sure, you can pardon Manafort, Donald, but what will that get you?

Additional suspicion that you are trying to hide your connections to the Russian meddling in the presidential election?

Yep.

Plus, Mueller did a little piling on Tuesday. He asked a federal court to extend the deadline for sentencing Michael Flynn, your short-lived national security adviser, who has already pled guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian operatives, and is cooperating with the special counsel’s probe into Russia’s meddling — on your behalf — into the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Why would Mueller ask for a sentencing deadline extension for Flynn? Is he giving up still more information about you and your campaign’s connection to the Russians? Are there other insider items concerning obstruction of justice issues that he can guide the special counsel’s team through?

Yesterday, Donald, you thought White House Counsel Don McGhan spending 30 hours talking with Mueller and sharing millions of pages of documents with him was just a bad dream.

\Today’s Cohen-Manafort-Flynn triple-header had the makings of a season-ending episode just perfect for reality television. The phrase, “You’re Fired” jumps off the screen as your worst nightmare.

Sweating a little more than usual, Donald? Shirt collar feel a little tighter? Fried chicken dinner on the flight over to West Virginia for tonight’s campaign rally not sitting too well on your stomach? Think about how prison food will taste. Or, if you manage to avoid jail time, you might want to start exploring lunch and dinner sites that will help you shed a little of that excess baggage around your middle.

Dinners at Mar-a-Lago may soon be out of reach. Maybe you could ask Putin for a dacha outside of Moscow — well-stocked with your favorite Russian comfort food.

You’re right about that “witch hunt,” Donald, and it’s about to knock down your door.

From: ‘WITCH HUNT’ KNOCKING ON DONALD’S DOOR

THE MOURNING ORCA – BY ELLIN CURLEY

RDP # 75: BLUE AS THE OCEAN, BLUE AS THE SEA


I’ve been reading a lot recently about a touching story that has caught the imagination of the world. It’s the very human and relatable story of a mother Orca whale, named Tahlequah, whose calf died shortly after birth. Tahlequah has been mourning her baby by carrying it around with her for over 17 days now.

Her family, or pod, have been traveling with her in a funeral procession covering over a thousand miles. The length of this mourning period is unprecedented for the species.

Tahlequah and her dead calf

People have realized that the Orca’s behavior shows real emotional pain, similar to what humans feel. The attention the world has focused on Tahlequah has also focused attention and interest on the plight of the dwindling Orcas in the Seattle, Washington area. I’ll talk about that later.

The most interesting article I read was in the Sunday New York Times on August 5, 2018. It was called “ An Orca, Her Dead Calf and Us” and was written by Susan Casey.

The author talks about how ‘human’ the mother-child bond is in Orcas. Also, how social their close-knit family groups are. “Like us, Orcas are self-aware, cognitively skilled individuals that communicate using their pod’s signature dialect.”

Tahlequah’s pod

Their core identity is communal, not individual. “Orcas are among Earth’s most socially sophisticated animals.” They live in matrilinear groups that can include four generations. The oldest females are in charge. Some can live to be 100 years old!

Fascinating fact – Orcas are one of just a few species, like humans, who go through menopause! This is because the grandmas are needed to devote themselves to training the younger generations. “The matriarchs serve as midwives, babysitters, navigators, and teachers.” Calves deprived of the care and influence of their grandmothers are ill-equipped for adult Orca life.

Tahlequah and her calf

“Orca behavior and neuroanatomy point to a complex inner life.” Their brains are larger and in some ways more elaborate than ours, especially in areas devoted to social emotions and awareness. They have similar neurons to ours that relate to empathy, communication, intuition and social intelligence.

We have more in common with Orcas than we do with many other mammals. This makes it even more tragic that we are destroying the Orca’s habitats and putting the species at risk for extinction. There are only 75 Southern Orcas left in the Seattle habitat. There hasn’t been a successful birth there in three years. Many of the orcas have starved to death because their food supply is dwindling due to pollution and overfishing in the area.

Biologists and government officials are now working on a plan to save the youngest member of Tahlequah’s pod, a three-year-old who seems to be on the brink of starvation. They are tracking the young whale and trying to feed her antibiotic laced salmon.

They are also tracking Tahlequah because they are worried she may not be getting enough to eat, although members of her pod are bringing her food. It may not be enough because she is expending so much energy keeping her dead baby afloat.

If we don’t reverse some of the environmental problems we have created for the Southern Orcas, our grandchildren will only read about these amazing creatures in history books. Knowing how much we share, emotionally, socially and linguistically, makes the prospect of their extinction particularly depressing. But the attention that is being focused on Tahlequah may actually help her pod’s survival.

There are people who want to build a Trans Mountain Pipeline that would make the already dire situation of these Orcas much worse. Greenpeace, among other groups, is trying to stop this pipeline from being built.

You can help them by letting Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, know that you are watching him and that you care about the Orcas. Tell him that you want a moratorium on new fossil fuel traffic in Washington state waters until Southern Resident Orcas are no longer at risk of extinction. https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/energy-environment/southern-resident-killer-whale-recovery-and-task-force

You can also donate to Greenpeace and get more information at https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-calls-for-greater-efforts-to-protect-endangered-orcas/

UPDATE – Aug. 13 – Tahlequah has finally let her calf go.

ORCAS R US – BY ELLIN CURLEY

RDP # 75: BLUE AS THE OCEAN, BLUE AS THE SEA


I’ve been reading a lot recently about a touching story that has caught the imagination of the world. It’s the very human and relatable story of a mother Orca whale, named Tahlequah, whose calf died shortly after birth. Tahlequah has been mourning her baby by carrying it around with her for over 17 days now.

Her family, or pod, have been traveling with her in a funeral procession covering over a thousand miles. The length of this mourning period is unprecedented for the species.

Tahlequah and her dead calf

People have realized that the Orca’s behavior shows real emotional pain, similar to what humans feel. The attention the world has focused on Tahlequah has also focused attention and interest on the plight of the dwindling Orcas in the Seattle, Washington area. I’ll talk about that later.

The most interesting article I read was in the Sunday New York Times on August 5, 2018. It was called “ An Orca, Her Dead Calf and Us” and was written by Susan Casey.

The author talks about how ‘human’ the mother-child bond is in Orcas. Also, how social their close-knit family groups are. “Like us, Orcas are self-aware, cognitively skilled individuals that communicate using their pod’s signature dialect.”

Tahlequah’s pod

Their core identity is communal, not individual. “Orcas are among Earth’s most socially sophisticated animals.” They live in matrilinear groups that can include four generations. The oldest females are in charge. Some can live to be 100 years old!

Fascinating fact – Orcas are one of just a few species, like humans, who go through menopause! This is because the grandmas are needed to devote themselves to training the younger generations. “The matriarchs serve as midwives, babysitters, navigators, and teachers.” Calves deprived of the care and influence of their grandmothers are ill-equipped for adult Orca life.

Tahlequah and her calf

“Orca behavior and neuroanatomy point to a complex inner life.” Their brains are larger and in some ways more elaborate than ours, especially in areas devoted to social emotions and awareness. They have similar neurons to ours that relate to empathy, communication, intuition and social intelligence.

We have more in common with Orcas than we do with many other mammals. This makes it even more tragic that we are destroying the Orca’s habitats and putting the species at risk for extinction. There are only 75 Southern Orcas left in the Seattle habitat. There hasn’t been a successful birth there in three years. Many of the orcas have starved to death because their food supply is dwindling due to pollution and overfishing in the area.

Biologists and government officials are now working on a plan to save the youngest member of Tahlequah’s pod, a three-year-old who seems to be on the brink of starvation. They are tracking the young whale and trying to feed her antibiotic laced salmon.

They are also tracking Tahlequah because they are worried she may not be getting enough to eat, although members of her pod are bringing her food. It may not be enough because she is expending so much energy keeping her dead baby afloat.

If we don’t reverse some of the environmental problems we have created for the Southern Orcas, our grandchildren will only read about these amazing creatures in history books. Knowing how much we share, emotionally, socially and linguistically, makes the prospect of their extinction particularly depressing. But the attention that is being focused on Tahlequah may actually help her pod’s survival.

There are people who want to build a Trans Mountain Pipeline that would make the already dire situation of these Orcas much worse. Greenpeace, among other groups, is trying to stop this pipeline from being built.

You can help them by letting Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, know that you are watching him and that you care about the Orcas. Tell him that you want a moratorium on new fossil fuel traffic in Washington state waters until Southern Resident Orcas are no longer at risk of extinction. https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/energy-environment/southern-resident-killer-whale-recovery-and-task-force

You can also donate to Greenpeace and get more information at https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-calls-for-greater-efforts-to-protect-endangered-orcas/

UPDATE – Aug. 13 – Tahlequah has finally let her calf go.

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? – Marilyn Armstrong

This story has been on the news for the past few days. Every time it has been on, Garry and I had a good laugh.

There was a zesty little scuffle between Bill Murray, actor, and Peter Simon, a photographer who is, incidentally, Carly’s brother. And it was at “the restaurant” to which everybody who is anybody goes so that everybody knows they were there.

We used to go there once every vacation. It was wildly expensive, so not the sort of place you visited often. Or at least, not a place we visited often. Mostly, I prepared our meals at the house.

The Simon’s are permanent Martha’s Vineyard residents (and you should see their house — it’s amazing) which means something on the Vineyard. They do a lot to try to help feed the people who get hungry in the winter when all the tourists are gone and there’s no work.

The Taylor family (James, et al) are also Vineyard residents, so even though Carly and James are no longer married, they sometimes get together and do a show that will raise money to feed and house the hungry.

Thus, when Bill Murray asked Peter Simon “Do you know who I am?” and Peter answered with “Do you know who I am?” it was like a Vineyard joke.

Photo: Washington Post – Bill Murray

The thing is if you’ve spent any amount of time on the Vineyard — not as a two-day visitor but weeks at a time — you realize that everybody on the Vineyard is somebody, or is related to somebody, married to somebody, used to be somebody or is about to become somebody.

It’s a very somebody kind of place.

Peter Simon, photographer

I remember when Garry spotted Patricia Neal at a store in Edgartown. He whispered to me to wander over and find out if that was really Patricia Neal.

It is considered uncool on the Vineyard to ask for autographs or anything like that. People come to the Vineyard to get away from that … but they do want to make sure you know who they are. This can be difficult if they are on the naked beach in Aquinnah, by the way. Naked people just don’t look like their picture in the newspaper.

So as I was sashaying over to see if I can overhear relevant conversation (yes, she was), someone else was pointing at Garry because that was when he was somebody, too.

Lucky for me, I wasn’t anybody. Pat did give me some good advice which was “The most important thing for a woman is to have someone who’s good with hair and great with makeup.” Not that I have anyone, but if I had become a star, I would have taken that to heart because I’m sure she was right.

Patricia Neal – PHOTO: JAIMIE RODRIGUEZ-GLOBE PHOTOS, INC

There’s no point to this story except that if you are going to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, be careful about assuming you are more important than that other guy. His face may not be familiar, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t own a movie studio. Or his father does.

RDP #74 – ZEST

POLITICAL CARTOONS OF THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

I collect them. Whenever I see a really good one, I save it for the next time I need something funny where humor is hard to find. This week, I haven’t done anything that warrants political cartoons, but these are all so good, I figured — why not?

Have a laugh. Show them to someone and make them laugh, too.