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DC statehood campaign sign Photo Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

The state of New Columbia. Yesterday, the voters in the District of Columbia were given the opportunity to decide if they wish to become the 51st state in our union. According to the voters in the District of Columbia they voted 79% in favor of a petition requesting that Congress vote to permit Washington DC to become the 51st state. Yesterday DC voters said that they want (1) the State of New Columbia to be recognized by Congress as the 51st state in the union; (2) the approval of a state constitution; (3) the approval of the boundaries of the proposed new state; and (4) approval of elected representatives for the new state.

The approved petition will now be taken by the DC mayor to Congress with the hope that it will be presented on or before Inauguration Day for consideration. DC voters who do get three electoral votes have no representation in Congress. They hope that will change and that this petition for statehood is approved.

There are days that I wonder why it is that I choose to do what I do. There are days and then there are weeks. This was one of those weeks. It perfectly culminated in two things, a phone call where I actually couldn’t remember who I was calling or my own name since I had been on so many calls back-to-back this morning and then a short while later, when my phone rang, I couldn’t find it under all the papers on my desk. So, folks, I thought I’d share this little gem which just about sums it all up. 05c6e4b6c14213366d93d1c2a97c8264

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It happens to all of us at one time or another. We get knocked down, either figuratively or as more usual in my case, literally. I am really quite clumsy as those near and dear to my heart will confirm. I could go on at length to recount stories of this physical ineptness, but I diverge.

Here in this blog post we are discussing the figurative falling down. Last week almost exactly at this time, I had an interesting conversation with a company’s recruiter about a very interesting job possibility. It was exciting to have someone contact me, pretty much out of the blue, about an interesting opportunity that would meld my love of writing with my capabilities as an attorney. The weekend that followed was one that I haven’t had in a while, daydreams full of possibilities about what might be while working on some supplemental documentation that was requested from me.  I have learned that I am not a lucky one in a lot of respects and therefore generally resign myself to the pessimistic side of my own abilities and capabilities, but I succumbed on this one and actually became more and more intrigued by what seemed a pretty real potential opportunity and ever so slightly, more excited about this possible new chapter.

Did it work out? Short answer, no. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But I did what a responsible adult that’s on the other side of the half-century mark would do (after my little emotional breakdown and pity party) and stood back up after that fall. I got up the next morning and did the job I have, not having the time to give much though to the remotely possible imaginary job I might have loved (or I might have hated). It was the stuff of daydreams and I had a great couple days imaging “what ifs” and feeling pretty flattered about being contacted at all. Lesson learned is that I was probably the most upset with myself that I let someone clear across the country have that kind of control over me and that I was that quick to fall. People don’t just get phone calls for potentially awesome job opportunities out of the blue that actually happen. At least not in my world.

If I were feeling optimistic, which I try to be, I would say that this means there is a better opportunity that awaits. Not sure I have gotten there yet. For now, I stood back up. That is enough.

Sounds like a great mystery book or a movie title, but it’s not. This week in Vermont is Open Farm Week. It gives those of us who love to wander through farmers’ markets and eat fresh from the farm produce a chance to see what actually goes on at your favorite farm and learn more about agriculture and farming in our lovely state. This opportunity gives a whole new meaning to “learning where your food came from” as you have the opportunity to not only see where it came from, but meet the folks behind your favorite fare in their own environment — and even lend a hand and see what it’s like to be a farmer for a few hours. A great opportunity to gain even greater appreciation for the men and women who are behind the farmers’ market tables each and every week.

There are farms all over the state of Vermont that are opening their barn doors for you! Of course, Vermont farmers are so friendly and welcoming that you don’t need a special week to visit your favorite farmer. But, I digress.

Here is a sampling of some of the things you can do this week at a farm near you. You could even schedule a whole week of farm fun and take a tour of Vermont farms, taking in their uniqueness as each of these places puts their own special twist on farming and for that, we are very grateful.

Merck Forest and Farmland Center will teach you all about draft horses and maybe even get the opportunity to help drive them around the farm.

Health Hero Farm is having cooking classes demonstrating how to cook their fresh beef.

Have a Farm to Table Dinner by the gardens at Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington. The proceeds for this dinner go to charity.

Take a nature photography course at the Smokey House in Danby.

You can also visit an alpaca farm, visit a vineyard or visit a mushroom farm. There are lots of choices and really something for everyone. Take advantage of really learning where your food comes from this week. You’ll be glad that you did.

Makes me so proud my heart feels like it will burst.

Made me a mom for the third time when he was born into our family.

Is funny and talented and handsome and smart.

Knows more history facts than most people I know combined.

Has a heavenly voice that I can listen to forever and ever.

Is going to do amazing things in the future.

Turns 19 today.

Happy Birthday Tim,

Love Mom (a/k/a your first and biggest fan)IMG_4411

There are perks to being an attorney in Vermont. Like when you have to do two closings the same day with a couple hours in between and they are both not in your office. I got to spend the afternoon up in Addison County with my favorite guy who came along as my chauffeur. We stopped at Falls Park in Vergennes, had a great Thai lunch in Middlebury and a beautiful ride through the countryside. Followed it all up with a trip to the new pub at the Victorian Inn and a relaxing evening on the porch with a lovely breeze. Life is good. 

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I have been trying, for several years to grow lavender. Last year, I had beautiful plants that I grew from seed but didn’t flower much but were hardy. I brought them in to over-winter since the prior year’s plants that I bought as young plants didn’t survive. Guess what, the hardy plants died on me.

This year, (third time’s a charm) I purchased several small lavender plants in late spring and put three together in one planter and the fourth elsewhere in the yard. Guess what, all four of them are flowering with lots of flowers on each plant.

Mind you, they aren’t those lush lavender plants that you see in photos, the fields of lavender, but they are my four little plants and they are alive and they are flowering. That makes me happy. In fact, ridiculously happy — I’ve been trying so hard to grow this for years now. Today, I harvested my first bunch of lavender flowers to dry and couldn’t resist snapping this picture to mark this rather monumental (in my book at least) occasion.

This is particularly good news since the garden is coming along, but slowly. It is the battle of Tammy v. the Vole (or vole family, not sure yet). I plant, it eats. I plant more, it eats more. I douse my plants in castor oil, cayenne and dish soap and, you guessed, they are eaten (although it did take a few days). I pull out the Italian mama’s size jar of crushed red pepper, cover my little plants in red pepper (haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get that pepper completely all out of the lettuce – so house guests beware!) but it has managed to slow the critters down. Next step, break out the Irish spring soap – my mom told me that would work and I’m ready to give it a shot. I am hopeful that as the little plants grow (grow plants, grow!) they will become less appetizing and the critters will go elsewhere for their green veggie intake.

So….you see, a little tiny bunch of lavender is really a pretty monumental thing in my world of gardening these days.

 

The Fourth of July is a colorful holiday. The red, white and blue of the flag and patriotic decor is everywhere. Fireworks fill the dark night sky with shades of pink, red, blue, yellow and green. This week, in the garden, another colorful explosion started to take place. Our lilies, which are a beautiful pale shade of pink. started opening one by one and now the flower bed is just full of beautiful flowers. The baby’s breath is spreading through the same bed. The perennials are making their appearance, one by one and color is coming, slow but sure, to the yard.

I have been so wrapped up in the things I have to get done that I have forgotten the pure pleasure I get from taking my camera outside and snapping some pictures, memorializing this brief, but beautiful, time of the summer. These pictures, like the flowers represented in them, have made me smile, capturing the color that the warm sun in July brings to the yard. I hope they make you smile as well. Happy Friday!

I have never had a great love affair with the news industry. I can never understand why the news is generally laden with all the horrific things going on in the world and they sometimes can tuck a “feel good” story somewhere in the broadcast to justify that it’s not all bad news. Why don’t we hear more of the good that goes on in the country and the world?  Years ago, when we lived in New Jersey, our clock radio was set to a news station. I hated that before my eyes were even open for the day, I was bombarded with everything that was wrong with world and very little that was right. After hearing all the “news” I had little desire to even get out of bed and start my day – why bother? The world is a miserable place.

News reporting, in the present day, leans toward the sensational more than the factual. It seems to be the running fervently toward the “most sensational”, “most bloody”, “most outrageous” story. Our modern day news reporting in this country generally bears far more resemblance to the supermarket tabloid front pages of my younger days than to the noble art of journalism.

To that end, there were a significant number of of major newspapers in this country which ran various pictures of the person who was responsible for the Orlando shooting in yesterday’s front pages. His face was plastered across the news media outlets online and on television. I have a real problem with this. Why is his photo gaining this type of attention? This is not a manhunt, he is dead, therefore, no one needs to be “on the lookout” for him, no one needs to know what he looks like so he can be identified, captured and held accountable for his actions. There is absolutely no need, in my opinion, for the attacker to be personalized, for his name to spoken or written or his image flashed across the front page of newspapers and television screens. He gave little thought to the faces of the those that he killed, those that were injured, those who survived the deceased and whose lives will never be the same. Why does the media need to give him an identity and publicity? Give his cause publicity? Why was he not referred to as a “nameless, faceless” attacker? Why do media outlets feel the need to personalize him, to prop him up on the podium of front page news, giving him not only a picture, a name, but also a background, a story? There were interviews with his parents, interviews with those that knew him, why? He is a criminal, he is a barbarian, he does not deserve that media recognition. The publicity he receives, in my opinion, serves to only ignite others like him, who see that they also may be “celebrities” in their death for their cause, gaining front page access to major American newspapers. His name should not be mentioned, his face should not be shown. He did not do anything that earned him that honor.

There are many true heroes, good individuals who do noble things who will never, ever in their lifetime earn the distinction of their photo on the front page of the New York Times or any other major American newspaper. Their stories and their faces will never receive that journalistic honor and distinction. Yet, a person who horrifically and cowardly struck down innocent people who were caught by him inside a building earned that villain this distinction. Our society is fundamentally flawed, when our news media believed that showing his picture and telling his story was a better “scoop” than the hundreds and hundreds of people who stood in line to donate blood to the injured that day, or the gofundme campaign that raised a million dollars for those victims and their families in record time due to the donations by thousands of people or the local businesses and organizations that came out to provide food and drinks to those trying to help or waiting for news or the first responders who worked tirelessly to retrieve and treat the injured and identify the deceased so that their families would know the answer to the terrible question – did my loved one survive? The faces of those that were gunned down by a maniac didn’t get their pictures on the front page the day after the shooting, even though some of their identities were known at that time. Innocent people died simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet those people didn’t earn the distinction of front page news like the loathsome creature that slaughtered them. That, my dear friends, is just a small part of what irks me about news media and the way our society’s values lie.

Along with the many other changes that need to come from this horrific incident, perhaps maybe news organizations won’t give acknowledgement to those miscreants and their organizations, further fueling their fires. I can only hope.

After almost ten years of living here (wow, has it been that long?) I am still amazed by the wildlife. Regularly on my walks with Moxie, I will see grouse scare the crap out of her in the woods and squirrels, birds and the occasional fox. We see deer often and some of us have seen turkeys a little too close up for comfort (as in flying at your windshield). Years ago, we’ve seen the occasional moose walk through our yard, although my sister thinks I’ve made this up since she’s never seen one up here. It never gets old.

Yesterday, while we were driving on Route 103 just a couple miles from our house there was a young black bear crossing the road. I don’t often see bear and we couldn’t help but wonder if it was “our” bear, the one that was living on our neighbor’s porch last year that was rescued.

Here are some pictures. True testament to the fact that you never know what you might see on the roads in Vermont.

Today is the day to celebrate your siblings.

It is National Siblings Day. The day was picked by the founder of the Siblings Day Foundation to honor her late siblings and is in fact, the birthday of her sister. For more information about National Siblings Day look here.

I love my brother and my sister, they are a big part of my life and for that I will be always grateful for their love, friendship and support, to them I send my love on this day and always.

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Today, I also want to celebrate the siblings that we created. They are three amazing young men and I love them more than words can say. They are the best part of my life. While each of them is amazing individually, together they are so much more. I am happy that they will always have each other as they journey through life and will always share the common bond of family that is unique just to the three of them. While others will come and go in their lives, they will always have each other. By birth, they are stuck together and labeled as siblings. My wish for them, now and always, is that they remember that they are the best part of our family, in fact they are what makes the five of us a family. As the ties that bind all of us together loosen with their independence, my hope is that they have learned and will remember until their last breath, that they will always have each other. As different as each of them are, they share a common and unbreakable tie that is part of their very soul. They know each other better than anyone, even better in some respects than their father and I know them. If we have done our job well as their parents, that is the lesson that they will take with them as they go do great things in this world.

Grown and Flown had a wonderful article on siblings which I encourage you to read. Perhaps it struck a special chord with me because the author speaks to their three boys and their family of five.

My favorite part of that post is the following:

They hold each other’s childhood and with a word or a phrase the five of us are back together again, and we are all young with so much of our lives still unknown.  I told them that I wanted them to be close forever because in the end they would always have each other, because it is truly a blessing in life if there is someone who can be counted on at any time.  But I now realize I was being far more selfish, because as long as they are there for each other, they will always have us.

 

Once again, we need to read between the lines and maybe, just maybe, read the lines themselves, rather than let the media do the reading and interpreting for us. The new law passed in North Carolina is more than just a law regulating the use of public bathrooms in the state.

At the time of the Boston marathon bombing, we had a very interesting discussion at our dining room table to explain to the boys why, as horrible as it might seem at that time, that the suspected bomber needed to have his rights protected. The basic reason, is because they are your rights and my rights too. It is a very slippery slope that we go down when we think it’s okay to take away one person’s rights or deny one his or her rights. While it might seem perfectly fine under one circumstance (think the marathon bomber), what happens when it’s your turn and your rights that are up for grabs? Not so okay now is it? Like it or not, the rights we have apply to all of us, not just the ones that we pick and choose under the circumstances. When folks were opening up their doors to allow police to search their homes, how many invoked that wonderful little right called the 4th Amendment and said, no. No, you cannot just come into my home police, without a warrant and search it. Not now, not ever, because my constitutional rights say so.

If you actually read the new law in North Carolina, it has two parts. One part regulates the use of public restroom facilities and limits their use to a single sex based upon a person’s biological sex. The second part, entitled the Wage and Hour Act prevents any local government (read: city or town) from passing any law, ordinance or regulation that regulates the minimum wage in the state. That means that any person in North Carolina, not just transgender folks are subject to North Carolina’s whim on whether or not to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage in North Carolina is presently $7.25 per hour. Unlike other places in the country where cities have chosen to raise the minimum wage because they recognize that living in a city may be more expensive, cities are now prohibited from any such actions.

The law addresses the minimum wage, and does not allow any local government to set a minimum wage.“The legislature took that power expressly away, so forbade any local government from raising the minimum wage beyond what federal and state law require,” Charlotte Law School Professor Brian Clarke said.

To give you an idea of why folks, all folks not just the transgender and LBGQ folks should be jumping up and down in protest, many places in the country have enacted $15 minimum wages. Realize this means that minimum wage workers in North Carolina are getting paid just about 1/2 of what other people working minimum wage jobs can get paid. Here in little tiny Vermont our minimum wage is $9.60 per hour and while that’s not great, it’s still way better than North Carolina. Do you see something wrong with what North Carolina did with this law? You should.

The law also prevents any person (read: ANY PERSON) from pursuing a state action under the law for the public policies expressed in the act which also governs employment discrimination. Guess what folks? Under the law and its line “This Article does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein” seems that all persons in the state are affected. Got that? Everyone.

Have a discrimination claim based upon religion, race, color  that does not fall into one of the state’s already established laws, guess what, you have no civil right to file suit in the state  court according to this law. According to  Charlotte School of Law professor, Brian Clark (who knows way more than little ‘ol lawyer me does) “In a very hidden way, it eliminated the ability for employees in North Carolina to file claims under state law for employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color and age,” Clarke said, “And that’s a right that North Carolina employees have had since 1982… and it’s gone.” Poof. Gone. Folks should be rioting in the streets.

So, people, especially those who are peppering Facebook with their very prejudiced views of the rights of the transgender community under the North Carolina law and those that are speaking out against it, perhaps you should realize that when a particular group’s rights are affected, maybe, just maybe your rights are too. Under this law, rights were affected, not just for a particular segment of the North Carolina population but for all of the North Carolina population.

See, it’s really not an us v. them mentality. People are people and under the laws of this country we are all entitled to our rights, whether or not each of us personally stands for or against the person behind the right.  My kids understand this and have for some time. It’s about time that the adult population in this country realizes it too. One day, it could be your right that at stake. Remember that. Always.

 

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