Song Lyric Sunday – Homeward Bound

The theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is “traveling.” The song that immediately came to mind is Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound.”

Homeward Bound

by Simon and Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon

Lyrics

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket to my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Every day’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines.
And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see reminds me that I long to be,
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,

 

In God – or Guns – We Trust?

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America considers itself a Christian nation. We are also a nation armed to the teeth with guns to hunt food and guns to protect ourselves from other people with guns. We tell ourselves that we have the right to bear arms based on the Second Amendment of our Constitution. To protect ourselves against the tyranny of the federal government. How’s that all working out for us now, America?

It seems to me that it’s all out of control. We have the National Rifle Association as the largest lobby in Congress. In other words, they buy the votes of our Senators and Representatives. Millions of Americans are members of the NRA. We worship the NRA instead of God. We worship our guns instead of God. We worship the Second Amendment instead of God. Protecting ourselves against tyranny has become nothing but an excuse for gun ownership.

We’ve put ourselves in the position of having to own guns to protect ourselves – from each other. Does that sound like a Christian nation? A nation of people that love each other? Don’t kid yourselves! We even let the NRA run the legislative branch of our government.

The first guns I ever saw were a rifle and a shotgun standing in the corner of my grandparent’s bedroom. My cousins and I knew what they were for. They were for hunting. That was back in the day when hunting for food was still commonplace, even necessary. There wasn’t much hunting for sport. In fact, I can hear my grandfather ask who would kill an animal for such a thing as sport?

Our gun laws are so lax that mass murderers and the mentally ill buy guns and gun equipment. What Christian nation would allow that? What Christian would object to tightening up the gun laws so that would not happen? Remember Sandy Hook? Remember Las Vegas? Remember all the rest? Now remember the NRA? Who gave the NRA their power?

We did. The supposed Christians. Who has caused the mass murders? We have. The people. We have refused to support tightening up the gun laws. See that broken window in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas? Who caused that?

All of us Americans in this supposedly Christian nation.

The Circle

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The first time I ever walked into my new dentist’s office, one thing slapped me in the face. Her office was decorated with many paintings and pictures depicting the circle. A single circle. Groups of circles. Except for pictures of her children, pictures of circles were the only wall decor she had. They were beautiful and interesting.

The second time I was there, I asked her about her circles and why her office was filled with them. She didn’t really answer me. She just smiled and said she liked them and they made her feel calm. They seemed to make me, who had always been fearful of going to the dentist, feel calm as well. Since changing to this dentist, I’ve never been fearful again. I decided to investigate circles and what they mean. I wanted to know why she had them in her office and even I seemed to respond to them with a feeling of peace and calmness. I’ll share with you what I found.

From Wikipedia: “A perfect circle is an ancient and universal symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, female power, and the sun. You can merge it with various elements and can develop new meaning.”

If you believe in spirituality, that is a pretty powerful symbol, particularly for a female professional like my dentist.

In symbolism:

“A perfect circle is symbolic of something that is whole, complete, ideal and eternal; a circle has no ending and no beginning, making it synonymous with cyclical ideas and processes. For example, a circular wedding ring is used as a symbol of everlasting love.”

This is my take on today’s prompt,circle.

#weekendcoffeeshare 09/30/2017

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It’s been a long time, months, I think, since I’ve welcomed everyone for a #weekendcoffeeshare. I’m glad to welcome you now, into our coffee shop. The owner has a nice setup for us. Several kinds of coffee and tea this morning. Danish and other pastries. Please pick your pleasure and join us. I’m so glad to see all of you!

If we were having coffee, my only excuse for not being here recently is that I’ve spent the summer writing. Writing a novel and recently starting another long-form fiction piece that, I think, is going to be a novella. There is a growing market for novellas now. I’m excited about them both.

Other things have been going on as well. The last time we spoke, I think I had lost my dog, a wonderful companion. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Betsy. I lost her, at only four years old, to a terrible genetic illness afflicting only a few breeds. Since I don’t “do” life very well without a dog, I picked out a puppy soon after Betsy’s death. I still mourn her and always will. Now I have Hanna, who is the wildest, craziest puppy I’ve ever had. She was 3.5 months old when I got her and had spent much of her life in a crate. She is now 6.5 months old and is terribly well-adjusted for the most part. Hanna is a “designer” dog or a dog bred like a Goldendoodle, a mix of two breeds. She is half Havanese and half Lowchen and it seems to be a good mix. She’s beautiful, funny, smart, and healthy. If I can live through her puppyhood (a challenge), she will make a wonderful companion. Here is just a head shot and I’m sure you can see what I mean:

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We are currently working hard on obedience training!

My summer has been completely filled with training and raising Hanna and writing up to 12 hours per day.

Now that October is almost here, I am getting ready to go to my little home in Florida for the winter. No idea yet when I will go. Hurricane Irma devastated Florida and did a lot of damage to the island where I live. I had some damage at my own home. Hurricane season doesn’t end in the U.S. until November 30, but usually hurricanes subside during November. This year, the Atlantic Ocean temperatures are still very warm. I won’t go to Florida until the ocean temperatures cool and until I’m sure that the infrastructure has been restored on my island. It makes it hard to know when to hire a housesitter! I hope to spend Thanksgiving there, but who knows? Everything is uncertain this year. The hurricane damage to Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys is unbelievably awful.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that’s all that’s been going on with me. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with all of you!

#SoCS – 9/30/2017 – Mountain Dew

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When I was growing up in northeastern Kentucky, I was fortunate enough to know my grandfather, who lived deep in the heart of Appalachia. He lived only until I was 23 years of age, but I was lucky enough to be old enough to have talked to him. Really talked to him. Conversations that, to me, were important. He was a fine man. Moral, ethical, smart. I’d like to write about him and men like him some day.

There were so many things that I never had the chance or knowledge to talk to him about. My mother, his daughter, told me stories about him. Not enough stories. I wish I knew more. One story that she told me was that my grandfather was determined that she and her seven siblings would never be involved in two endeavors that were prominent in those days in southeastern Kentucky. They would never work in the coal mines and they would never be engaged in the production of “mountain dew.”

Mountain Dew. Not the soft drink. Mountain dew is the slang term for homemade liquor or moonshine, corn liquor, hooch, and a dozen other names. Southeastern Kentucky was “dry.” In other words, liquor could not be sold legally. People made their own and made it for other people. There were stills to make the liquor hidden all over the mountains that were characteristic of the area. Moonshine is 100 percent alcohol and is still made in those mountains.

My grandfather was successful. All of his children left the area, at least long enough to get a college education. My grandfather, himself, got what passed for a college education in his day and was an advocate of higher education for his entire life.

#SoCS 9/23/2017 – Hot/Cold

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When a writer is running hot on a writing project, it’s easy to write. The ideas are coming hard and fast. Creativity is at its highest. Everything is going well. You’re not always running hot. Sometimes, either you or the project grows cold for no particular reason. Burnout may be the case if it’s a long project. When that happens, it may be time to switch projects for a while. Writers usually have several going at once. A couple on the front burner. A couple on the back burner. Several in the desk drawer. That’s the case with me.

I’m in the middle of a long writing project that’s grown a little cold to me. It’s sagging. I’m not sure of the direction I want to take. I feel my creativity flagging. My ideas are not flowing as freely. My characters are getting boring to me. So, I’m going to shove it to the back burner for a month or two. I’m going to see if I get my enthusiasm back for the project. It’s a project that’s important to me, so I am, in fact, sure that I will. I need some thought, some new sources of inspiration, some time to sleep on it, some time to think of the direction I should take. Such a thing often happens to a writer in the middle of a novel or in the middle of any long writing project. You lose your way. Particularly if it is a complex story, with lots of characters and subplots. Mine is that – a complex story.

While I work on getting my mojo back for my long project, I’m going to tackle a shorter project. I think it’s going to be a novella. Novellas seem to be gaining popularity among the reading public as we have less time and more commitments. After doing my market research, there are new publishers out there for this shorter work. I’m not going to give too much away about my project, but I’m excited about it. I have a good idea which may actually dovetail into my longer project.

Stay tuned!

 

Lessons From Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Harvey

 

Today, August 29, 2017, is the twelfth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the five deadliest hurricanes and the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. As we note this anniversary, we watch with horror as Hurricane Harvey continues to drop unprecedented amounts of rain on southeastern Texas and, now, Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey is now the wettest hurricane ever recorded in the U.S., surpassing Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978. There are places in Texas where more than 50 inches of rain have fallen.

The tragedy in Houston, TX cannot be calculated. It will take years, perhaps decades, for Houston, our fourth largest city to recover. It is impossible to know how long it will take for the water to recede. The rivers and streams are still rising. The reservoirs are failing. The underpasses and bridges are failing. The number of homes that are destroyed cannot be determined yet. We don’t even know how many people have died. The ongoing tragedy in Houston, Texas is not over. In fact, Hurricane Harvey has moved back off into the Gulf and is expected to move back onshore. Houston may yet get more rain..

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 Hurricane when it came ashore in southeastern Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm when it landed north of Corpus Christi, around Victoria and Rockford, Texas.

Hurricane Katrina took over 1200 lives, primarily in New Orleans. The storm caused the levees to fail in New Orleans. The city flooded and the flood did not recede for many weeks. Many fled New Orleans and many of those went to Houston. Those from Houston who could flee and wanted to flee could not go to New Orleans. That city is already flooded. The new pumps installed by the Corp of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina have failed, at least some of them. The flood in New Orleans had nothing to do with Hurricane Harvey at that time.

My question. Why have the pumps in New Orleans not been repaired? Prior to hurricane season?

New Orleans had not recovered before Hurricane Harvey. Now, a flooded New Orleans is getting the rain from Hurricane Harvey. One has to wonder what is going to happen to that wonderful city this time.

Houston is using a large center much like New Orleans Superdome to house people who had to evacuate and they may have to open more large facilities. Will the lessons learned from the Superdome tragedy help the mayor of Houston make appropriate decisions? Do you agree with the decision not to evacuate Houston? How would you evacuate a city of 6.5 million people?

Hurricane Harvey is ongoing. The scope of this tragedy is hard to wrap one’s mind around. Did Hurricane Katrina teach us some lessons about how to cope with a tragedy such as Hurricane Harvey?

Full disclosure: I have three cousins who live in Houston, all in different parts of the city. So far, they are all right. One is without power. We’re keeping in touch and there is water very close to their homes. We have no idea yet what will happen.

 

Abortion and Planned Parenthood

 

Let’s state the facts minus any opinion. There is something called the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds for the purposes of abortion. This means that Planned Parenthood does not use federal money for abortions. More to the point, only three (3) percent of the services they offer are abortion services. Why exactly are we defunding Planned Parenthood?

The overwhelming majority of Planned Parenthood’s funds go toward providing low income women with contraception and screening for and treating sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

About 80% of the women served by Planned Parenthood live at or slightly above the federal poverty level. Many of them are on Medicaid. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), defunding Planned Parenthood would significantly raise the number of low income women on Medicaid.

This Planet Earth

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Watching the solar #eclipse today made me think about this planet Earth, our place in the universe, and how we, as some of the inhabitants of this planet, have affected it.

#Earth is but a tiny dot in a vast universe. Imagine how everything came together here to give us all the ingredients necessary for life. The right atmosphere to breathe, the water to drink, the soil in which to grow our food. Imagine how it is so unlikely that this could have happened. It makes me think that we cannot possibly be alone. Somewhere out there, there must be other life, although maybe not life like us.

What have we, as intelligent human beings, done to our precious atmosphere, water, and soil? We have polluted it beyond measure, almost to the point where it is not useful to us anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970. If not for the EPA, I’m not quite sure where planet Earth would be at this point in time. Would it be able to sustain our life? I think it’s doubtful. But it was created and it began to study the concept of pollution.

The EPA determined that the smoke pouring from steel mills and other manufacturing companies was polluting the air. They had to install scrubbers. Sure, it cut into their profits in the short-term. In the long run, it helped save our atmosphere, keep us healthy, and the share price of these corporations did not suffer in the long run. The same is true of the water in which manufacturers and coal companies poured sludge. This is only one of hundreds of examples of how the EPA has protected our environment since 1970. Protecting our environment is protecting us, our health, and our long-term survival on this planet.

There is one irrefutable truth. The EPA doesn’t know what to protect us from without scientific research. That is the backbone of the organization. Unfortunately, our current President does not understand this or does not care. He has slashed scientific research and EPA programs in his 2018 budget by 31%, a steeper cut than for any other governmental organization. Around 3,200 jobs will be lost, just from the EPA, many of them highly trained and valuable scientists. Is this really wise?

I could list the other cuts the President is making to EPA programs that will impact our ability to live on this planet. The Paris Climate Agreement which addresses rising seas levels. An order to expand off-shore drilling. Then, we have such things as dropping the agreement to protect sea turtles and whales from fishing nets. Do we want to live on a planet when the caretakers don’t care about such things?

We have another solar #eclipse in 2024. Unless the EPA is given its money back to protect us from air pollution, we may not be able to see that one for the pollution in the air. It’s good we all enjoyed the 2017 #eclipse.