From The Reason For Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:
“With their beauty, flowers comfort us; they make us smile and ease our grief. They help us to heal and recover from losses and emotional wounds. This has always been true.”
From Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas:
“Much of what appears to be reform in our time is in fact the defense of stasis. When we see through the myths that foster this misperception, the path to genuine change will come into view. It will once again be possible to improve the world without permission slips from the powerful.”
From The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam:
“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
Uh … hello … is anybody out there??? All of a sudden … it’s summer!
This morning I noticed that two wall calendars in my house — one above the phone in the kitchen and one next to a bookcase in my office — were still on pages for May … which might have something to do with my-self getting sucked into the TV and watching too much news since a few days after my last post. I finally hacked my way out from inside the flat-screen this past weekend, slightly disoriented but not really confused or surprised by all that has happened. I then started wondering if I would write something that, despite inadequacies, might reflect on the moment we’re in — and decided that I would and could, but not quite yet, I’ve got some work to do first. It’s a little bit funny at times — sort of like writer’s block, or maybe that restless feeling I get when I do the same kinds of updates to my photos over and over again — to have a blog that I’ve focused almost exclusively on photography for a nearly two years, but feeling the urge to split off in other directions. Meanwhile, spring has marched on, summer’s already here … and even with afternoon humidity approaching 150% (exaggeration alert!) last week, I’ve still been spending some cooler mornings hunting down more irises, hydrangeas, lilies, and other fresh flowers making their way into the southern sun.
My adopted state of Georgia made national news a couple of weeks ago, with images and stories of long lines and day-long waits at voting locations for the twice-delayed June primary election — followed by finger-pointing and blame-slinging from people in various leadership positions who seem hard-pressed to recognize that the roles they were elected to or appointed for are supposed to mean that they’re actually responsible for doing something, not just talking about someone else doing something. Whether these failures represent intentional voter suppression or incompetent voter suppression doesn’t matter that much: the effect is to discourage and ultimately reduce voter participation, a problem getting more serious national attention in many states because of the challenges of voting during a pandemic. The fact that we’ve been here before is one of the many loops United States politics is always getting stuck in — where the only consistency we see is the conviction that problems like this are too big to be solved.
I mention this along with a polite suggestion: if you live in a U.S. state that permits you to vote by absentee ballot, it’s not too early to make sure you know how that process will work for the general election in November. I voted absentee in the Georgia’s June primary on purpose this year, because I wanted to learn the steps required. For Georgia, that included verifying that I was registered (on the Georgia My Voter Page); getting an absentee ballot request form; filling it out and submitting it by email; tracking it on the My Voter Page so I knew when it was received and that the actual ballot was mailed to me; then tracking that my completed and mailed ballot was received and accepted. Though thousands of people in several Georgia counties reported not receiving their ballot despite requesting it (which in part accounted for the long lines at polling locations), I did get mine — but with only a few days to spare before I needed to complete and return it. Check with your county government or your Secretary of State’s web site, or start with the National Conference of State Legislatures summary of states with absentee voting options. You might also try the ACLU in your state, which typically has detailed information on how voting (including absentee voting) works, what to expect, and even how to properly fill out and submit your ballot request or ballot. Also, I’ve found that Balletopedia is an excellent starting point for learning more about candidates, as it’s frequently updated with backgrounders on local and national elections.
Finally: keep an eye out for changes to voting procedures between now and the general election: despite (or because of? cynical me!) the successful primary, for example, Georgia will not automatically mail out absentee ballot requests for the November election (like it did for the primary), so I’ll need to ask for one, most likely from the same web site I mentioned above. On a personally hopeful note: despite the chaos, voting in Georgia’s June primary exceeded all previous records, pointing to a stronger (though not guaranteed) possibility that the state will flip from Republican to Democratic for the first time in nearly two decades, for the presidential election and for at least one of the two U.S. Senate seats currently held by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Fingers crossed … and if that happens it would be historically pretty amazing.
The three galleries below feature many of the blue and purple irises from my spring photo-shoots, and may possibly contain a subliminal message about who you might vote for later this year. 🙂
The previous posts in this series are:
A Profusion of Irises: Backlit Blooms
A Profusion of Irises: Sun-Kissed Shades of Orange
A Profusion of Irises: White Blooms on Black Backgrounds
A Profusion of Irises: Black (Iris) Friday!
A Profusion of Irises: Iris No. 1
Thanks for taking a look!
As they might say on NPR, a lot to unpack here. First, the gorgeous irises must be mentioned. Be still my trembling heart! Second, I was struck by one of your quotations: “Much of what appears to be reform in our time is in fact the defense of stasis. When we see through the myths that foster this misperception, the path to genuine change will come into view. It will once again be possible to improve the world without permission slips from the powerful.” Third, fingers, toes, and everything else crossed for Georgia for the upcoming election. Finally, you might be pleased to know that Maine has a very good absentee ballot system.
Hi, there. Thanks for the comment on the flowers!
That quote from “Winners Take All” is the reason I bought the book. Very interesting to me was the author’s exploration of how, especially in the United States, powerful corporations and institutions create justifications for their good deeds … while obfuscating their role in causing economic, social, or political problems to begin with. It raises some great questions about how we’ve come to rely on holders of concentrated power to address issues that in other democracies are considered part of the proper role of government.
Glad to hear Maine has a good absentee system. While doing some research for this post, I was surprised to learn how many states allowed no-excuse absentee voting, but I suppose many will be challenged by an increase in the number of people who mail in ballots. Hopefully Georgia learns from what happened during the primary and we see some improvements for November.
Thanks for the comment!
Have you ever listened to the podcast Pitchfork Economics? If not, you might want to give it a listen. The view in “Winners Take All” is frequently expressed on the podcast. I sure do hope a change is coming.
Our ballots are in the mailbox waiting to go out. Unless we have vaccine by November, we will be using absentee ballots in November.
Best of luck to Georgia!
I hadn’t heard of Pitchfork before, am checking them out; looks like they have some excellent guests. They have an episode with the author of “Winners Take All” at https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/why-philanthropy-cant-undo-this-mess-with-anand-giridharadas.
Thanks for the recommendation!