I am concerned

A post I saw yesterday inspired this – and yes, it contains some similar phrasing.  I revised it as a response to my two ‘daughters’ (30-something sisters I’ve known for over twenty years, who are my non-blood daughters).  But the concerns are those I would so like to pose to many.

Since I have suggested on more than one occasion that voting is important, I am very proud that you became involved in this election. And it doesn’t concern me that you voted one way and I voted another.  At least, I hope you voted.

I am concerned because you know, are related to, or teach people with disabilities –yet you watched an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” mock a disabled person in front of a crowd – and still supported him.

I am concerned because you listened to an adult who wanted to “Make America Great Again” spout vitriolic racism time after time – and still supported him.

I am concerned because you listened to an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” advocate for war crimes and the use of nuclear weapons – and you thought he should be the one to lead our country.

I am concerned because you – two intelligent, caring women – listened and watched an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” equate a woman’s worth to her appearance – and still supported him.

I am concerned because you listened to an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” disrespect women (in general and individually) on so many levels – and you evidently heard and saw nothing wrong with that.

I am concerned because you know and respect people in the LGBT community, and you supported an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” by decimating the rights they have fought for and finally won.

I am concerned because an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” aims to wipe away the first principle of our country – religious freedom – believes that only Christians have that right to be Americans. And where does that leave you, both of you who have declared that you do not believe in religion?

I am concerned because an adult who wants to “Make America Great Again” made statements on various subjects in public to millions of people – then denied saying them. And you still supported him.  What do you call it when your children do that?

I am concerned because too many people are willing to jump on a bandwagon and condemn those who stand up for human rights everywhere – because they haven’t taken the time to learn that those “protestors” are actually “PROTECTORS” – of your rights and theirs. Some of those women are the reason you and I have the rights we have today.  You may not need or choose to take advantage of some of those rights, but friends or family – or total strangers – might.

I am concerned because too many people in our country depend on social media for news, reading, believing, and passing on scurrilous articles without ever checking their veracity. THESE are the ‘alternate facts’ – not the ones reported that have solid data to support them.  Too many people have forgotten 10th grade social studies (or whatever grade/subject name covered US history, including the study of our Constitution.  Too many teachers have had to ‘teach to the test’ rather than encouraging students to relate history to current events – and vice versa.  Too few people understand the correlation between action and reaction, cause and effect, as it applies to our entire world.

I am sad. Deeply sad.  I am afraid for our country.  I hope I’ll be wrong.


2016 has been a tough year.  People and governments all over the world are looking to our country – many in disbelief, some in horror, and some in glee.  And those diverse reactions are mirrored by our own citizens.

As I drive around the Capital District in New York and in Illinois (suburban St. Louis) last week, I am interested to see what I perceive to be FAR FEWER Christmas decorations adorning homes.  It makes me feel that perhaps many are feeling as uneasy as I.

I procrastinated creating my 2017 calendar, which is my standard gift to family.  Finally, I selected twelve photographs – pieces I’d added to my fine art website since last year’s calendar.  Several from my spring trip to California, a couple older ones, a personal of Ed enjoying our new deck, two of my amateur attempts at painting after attending several Paint & Sips (no, these are NOT offered for sale – perish the thought!), and December’s from my recent trip to New York City with a friend from The Netherlands who was an exchange student twenty years ago.

I realized my calendar needed a cover.  I struggled with something appropriate to bring in the new year, and decided I’d simply update last year’s.

No creativity left for cards, and I am stuck with a distinct lack of holiday spirit.   As well as a lack of time, since it’s already mid-December.  Of course I want to reach out and touch my friends and family – but I’m not going to fake being all holly-jolly.

I am sharing here – with friends and any others who wander onto my blog – my sincerest and deepest desire for 2017:  (I wish I could have figured out a way to make the text sharper)

You’ve Got To Be Taught…

Remember that song from Rogers & Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific’?   It replays in my head almost daily, as we read of and see hateful acts committed by children and adults all over the world.

This morning, I have been catching up – reading a few blogs.  My friend, Poor Robert, posted this one – I am
Reblogging from Nenes Life:   and I am asking her question –
“What are we teaching our kids?”

If not now, when? Part 2

I know my first blog post also has this title, but it’s so appropriate!  And this follows along the same lines.

My younger daughter (not really mine, but that’s beside the point) shared this article on Facebook.  She’s the mother of two – a 16 year old daughter (god help her) and a 10 year old son.

Thank you, Susan Speer, for wondering when your kid should learn to fail. 

What is an appropriate age for a child to learn to take responsibility for his/her actions (or inactions)?  I think the most impressed I’ve been with a child was a six-month old, just learning to stand, who understood a simple, quiet ‘No’.  Our house isn’t child-proof.  Matthew was always welcome.

How does a child learn manners without hearing “Say ‘please’ / ‘thank you'” as he/she learns to talk.  AND hearing parents and siblings say those simple phrases.

When should a child learn that things and privileges are EARNED?  How can a child learn that without daily/weekly chores, an allowance – and guidance?

How does a child learn respect if it’s not given and shown?  ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is very possibly the LEAST effective teaching method.  Unless, of course, it’s enforced by force.  Then it’s called ‘fear’ – not respect.

Respect.  That’s a complicated concept, isn’t it.  How do you distinguish respect for an individual from respect for a position/office?  And how do you teach this distinction to a child without that child feeling like you’re teaching that it’s OK to lie – sometimes?  At what age can anyone understand that you can respect your teacher or President or parent or friend and not respect the way that person acts in certain situations?

Want a tougher one?  How about “I love you, but I don’t LIKE you very much”?

Back to the original thought:   When do you as a parent (start to) teach all these life lessons?  When does your child learn that she/he is not always going to win, not always going to get an A, not always going to be the most popular or the smartest, not always going to get the job, the raise, the promotion?

I worked in New York State government for twenty years, the last several in a training department.  In management/supervision classes, we heard managers tell of phone calls from parents of employees.  Yes, mommy or daddy called the supervisor of their adult child, who in some cases had a Master’s degree, to find out why little darling hadn’t received a promotion or HAD been chastised or penalized for an infraction (tardiness or not getting assignments in on time).   ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  We had to struggle not to ask that on more than one occasion.

One last question.  If you were that child whose parents always took away the sting, how do you feel about it now?

Checks and Balances – or Making promises you can’t keep

So it looks like we’re in for the longest presidential campaign in history. Is anyone else tired yet of hearing what Candidates A – Z will do when elected President?

Do you ever wonder if any one of them has read the Constitution?  Have they read the job description?  Do they understand that the President doesn’t get to make the laws or put bills into effect?  Or do they think that the entire population over the age of 21 remembers high school American Studies (or whatever it was called)?

Relevant sections from the United States Constitution (from Wikipedia)

Article 1: Legislative Branch: the U.S. Congress makes the laws for the United States 

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18: “The Necessary and Proper Clause”

The Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Article 1, Section 7, Clause 3: Presidential Veto

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Article 2: Executive Branch: the President, Vice-President, …carry out the laws made by Congress.

Article 2, Section 3, Clause 2: “The Recommendation Clause”

The president has the power and duty to recommend, for the consideration of Congress, such measures which the president deems as “necessary and expedient”.

Kesavan and Sidak explain the purpose of the Recommendation clause:

“The Recommendation Clause empowers the President to represent the people before Congress, by recommending measures for the reform of government, for the general welfare, or for the redress of grievances.”

The President tailors his recommendations so that their natural implication is the enactment of new legislation, rather than some other action that Congress might undertake. Finally, the President shall have executive discretion to recommend measures of his choosing.”15]

(NOTE: I am going to use singular masculine because so far all Presidents have been masculine; and because trying to do both ‘s/he’ / ‘him/her’ constantly is just plain ridiculous; and because ‘it’ just sounds a bit disrespectful; – and because political correctness has been carried from sublime to ridiculous).

That said…

Part of me feels badly when the public, especially the voters who supported the winner, turns against him because ‘he lied’ – ‘he promised and didn’t deliver’.

Another – more assertive – part wants to get in the candidates’ faces and shout, “Don’t you understand that YOU CAN’T KEEP THOSE PROMISES???”

Maybe my ‘English teacher’ is showing. Would it make a difference to the voting public if, instead of “I promise to x, y, or z…” they said, “I promise to do everything in my power to x, y, or z…”?  Would the voting public understand the difference?  I suspect many would not.

So why not add a 30–second Civics lesson? “I would like to promise to create [e.g.,] a national health care system, but that wouldn’t be within my power as President.  As President, I can formulate a plan for a national healthcare system.  Then I give that plan to Congress.  This is part of the Checks and Balances system that our forefathers laid out in the Constitution.  As President, I can propose a bill. The men and women you’ve elected to represent you can pass my proposal – or they can throw it out.  Usually, they take it apart, keep some things, change or add other items, and then vote on it.  SOMETIMES, they add items that have nothing to do with the original proposal that I gave them.

But they – your Senators and Representatives – are the ones who ‘make’ the laws.  Once both the Senate and the House pass it, I sign it into law.  If they have bolloxed it up so it’s pretty much FUBAR, I can veto it.

But I CANNOT PROMISE to make a national healthcare system – or free college – or a citizenship plan for illegal residents – a law. That’s not my job.  If YOU, the citizens who vote for me because YOU WANT what I WANT, want to make sure what WE WANT becomes law, that’s where your responsibility increases.  You don’t only vote for ME, you vote for senators and representatives who want what you want.  And then you keep after them!”

If I recall correctly, Bernie Sanders touched on this. I wish he’d touch on it harder – and more often.

Wine and art go together, right?

My wine-tasting buddy, Marji Levy Knowles, and I have had great fun visiting area wineries and participating in Paint & Sips at Hudson-Chatham Winery.

I was greatly relieved at the first one to learn that we did not have to paint something truly original, looking out at the vineyard.

I will not be giving up my camera for a paint brush, but it’s fun.

Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent NY
Hudson-Chatham Winery, Ghent NY
My hand-painted wine glass making its debut with (Naked Wines') Wayne Donaldson's Eponina Lush - on New Year's Eve!
My hand-painted wine glass making its debut with (Naked Wines’) Wayne Donaldson’s Eponina Lush – on New Year’s Eve!

Which comes first – the photo or the title?

For me, it’s sometimes one and other times, the other.

Ever since I first saw a Belted cow (there are several different breeds), I knew I needed to find a herd to get photos.  But not just A photo – a specific photo.  This fall, FINALLY!  Here is………………
“Oreos – Milk Included”

Galloway Belted cattle grazing in the late October sunlight.

And within a week of displaying it on my fine art photography site, I received notice that it had sold!

Which comes first for you – the title or the image?