What is Home?

As I await the arrival of Hurricane Irma which will quite possibly wipe out the new home I built about 19 months ago, I can’t help but ponder the question, what, for me, is “home?” What is required for me to feel at home? What “things” do I need? How much of what I will lose should be replaced or simply forgotten? Can I live with less?

As a kid my family moved just every four years so when people ask me where I’m from and where I grew up it’s a somewhat complicated answer. I have never really had a hometown to return to. I had a wonderful temporary “home” for four years at Ohio University where I did my undergraduate degree. Then I moved to New York City and had my longest home (38 years), although I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan and within Manhattan a number of times. I had the best home of my life in Manhattan for 23 years with my late husband. That was probably the closest thing to any permanent home I’ve ever had. And it felt great. Alas, it didn’t last due to Jack’s illness and death. But the memory of that home and its comfort caused me to leave Manhattan two years ago and move down to Florida to build what has turned out to be a dream home. From this home base I have continued to travel and take photographs. I always feel like I am returning to an amazing oasis each time I come back from traveling. There I edit photos, interact with my wonderful neighbors, swim, bicycle, take long walks and enjoy the peace that my trees and beautiful surroundings bring me. Thinking about losing this home is, as I’m sure it is for all Floridians tonight, a very sad prospect. Starting over somewhere new is also a daunting idea. I travel so much that sometimes I find myself feeling at home each time I check into the reassuring uniformity of a Holiday Inn Express on the road. Not having my oasis and wonderful neighbors would be a huge loss for me at this stage of my life. With much difficulty I was able to rebuild my life after my husband died. Now I can’t think of what I’ll do if I lose everything and have to start over. Last week I watched in disbelief as people in Houston lost everything and now it is my turn.

Home may be on the road for awhile. I packed up my Rav4 Hybrid with as much as I could before driving north and out of the danger. My computer, RAID drives and photography gear are essential for me to feel at “home” and continue my work anywhere. Little by little I hope to be able to let go of all the things I may lose in the hurricane. Thanks to everyone who has sent me emails and messages of love and support. They are truly appreciated.

(Sorry about all the typos! I was pretty upset when I wrote this. I think I have corrected them now.)

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“These are the times that try men’s souls” — Thomas Paine

Although I usually just post photographs and little blurbs about my travels on this blog I now feel the need to use this blog as an outlet for my current societal frustrations. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all feed me continuous outrages from this administration but just reacting to a post with a like, a sad or some such reaction feels woefully inadequate. Let’s look back over the past seven months of Donald Trump’s presidency. No, you say, let’s not. And that is where the frustration lies. It’s all just too painful to think about. Hiding and putting one’s head in the sand isn’t going to fix things. What to do, what to do?

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) says in The Crisis:

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph…There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them…”

For me one antidote to the daily Trump deflection news media cycle insanity and hourly reading of the New York Times online has been immersing myself in binge-reading history. I am finding that by reminding myself of what has happened in the past I am able to truly believe that “this too shall pass.” We have seen a lot of this hatred and bigotry before. We have experienced periods where big business and special interests did their best to see that the poor and needy did not receive much needed help. It’s all there in the history books. Why do we ignore what has happened in the past? Why haven’t we learned anything from what has happened in the past?

Currently I am deep in my Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill obsessive period. I have read and highly recommend these books:

These are just a few of the books I’ve read during my current “Roosevelt period.” By reading these books I have been able to see that there have always been many obstacles to peace and justice but that honorable people do not give up. During the 1930s and 1940s the United States was lucky to have had men and women dedicated to making the world a better place in spite of the hatred and bigotry of their times. Think of the optimism, hard work and diplomacy it took Eleanor Roosevelt in 1948 to ensure the passage of “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” at the fledgling United Nations. You can hear Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration here. It is very inspiring. I am sure that such men and women exist today in the United States. We must make sure that their voices are heard over all the rancor and stridency today.

Mahatma Gandhi’s words always give me hope:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Ok, now to get back to some photography: here’s a photo I took in Venice, Italy last October. Back then Obama was still the President of the United States. And while not a “perfect union” we were at least not an insane disunion.

Afternoon shadows along a canal with gondola, Venice, Italy, Venezia

I fear there will be more from me on this topic in the future…

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North Cascades National Park, Washington State

North Cascades National Park, Washington State

I drove from Deception Pass on Whidbey Island to Concrete, Washington where I started up Route 20 through the North Cascades National Park. I had been there one time before but the road was closed because of landslides and snow. This time the road was open all the way to Winthrop.
I will post more photos from this trip.

North Cascades National Park, Northern Washington State

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