Except for all the others

8 November, 2015            Except for all the others 

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Winston S. Churchill

This blog is a dedicated politics-free zone, except I like to vote. The polling place is not far from here so I always walk up, and I always think about democracy while I’m walking. Many people are unhappy with our political system. But I’ll bet it’s been that way since 1776. There’s an expression (I don’t know its origin) that says “you can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Democracy goes on.

Let me put in a picture – I’m going to return to this subject. This is an azalea, blooming in our neighbor’s yard, just over the fence beside our driveway. I took this picture yesterday (Saturday, November 7) around noon. Amazing! An azalea blooming in November!:

Look at this gorgeous azalea blooming in November!

Look at this gorgeous azalea blooming in November!

Anyway, I’m walking up to the polling station, thinking about voting and democracy and Evelyn’s and my visit to New Jersey last week. I mentioned Fred’s birthday in last week’s blog post. Fred and I had a great time together, but we’re from different generations and we have different political views. But Fred was with the United States Marine Corps in Korea in late 1950 and I looked this up and it was thirty-five degrees below zero. When it’s -35º, I don’t think they talk about “wind chill.” And people were shooting at him and trying to kill him. Then – some years later – Fred was still in the Marine Corps, and he fought in Vietnam. So I’m guessing he went from 35 degrees below zero in Korea to a hundred above in Vietnam. More people shooting at him and trying to kill him.

And Fred gets the same number of votes I get! It seems like he should get at least two or three. I haven’t risked anything and I get one vote. He’s been colder than I’ve ever been and been hotter than I’ve ever been and he’s had people trying to kill him – and he gets one vote. Incredible. Thanks Fred! And thanks to everyone else who serves or has served  in the US Armed Forces.

This week I saw not one hawk but the pair of Red-tails on Monday, Tuesday and again on Wednesday. This isn’t a gorgeous picture, but it’s neat to see the pair with the sun behind them, glowing through their wingtips. I took this picture just before 11:00 on Tuesday morning (Election Day):  

Male and female Red-tails near the house Tuesday morning

Male and female Red-tails near the house Tuesday morning

The invasive-plant-eating-goats are still at Bryan Park; there were only two when Ethan and I visited Monday. The handsome dark brown goat is a male or a “ram” or a “billy”; his name is Billy. The white goat’s name is Beacon; he’s a “wether.” If Beacon was a horse he’d be a gelding and if he was a cow he’d be a steer. But the word for neutered male goats is “wether.” Good vocabulary word. I believe – not entirely certain – that neutered male sheep are also called wethers. This is Billy and Beacon together. Billy is friendly and outgoing; he’ll stand there while you scratch his head or his back. If you ever watch him walk, he has a faint but unmistakable swagger. Beacon is not quite as confident and jogs past while looking nervously out of the corner of his eye. Go figure:

"Billy" is darker; "Beacon" is the mostly white goat.

“Billy” is darker; “Beacon” is the mostly white goat.

Here’s Billy by himself. He is a fine looking animal:

This is Billy; he's friendly and confident just this side of arrogant.

This is Billy; he’s friendly and confident just this side of arrogant.

In my blog post from October 25 (The dogs sniffed me suspiciously) I posted a picture of the moon from October 20. It was a few hours past “first quarter.” Here’s that picture:

First quarter moon

First quarter moon

This week I photographed the moon around 7:00 Tuesday morning (Election Day again, big day). This picture was taken just before “last quarter.“

Last quarter moon

Last quarter moon

See the difference? If you ever look up at the moon and see it’s lit up on the right side, it’s “waxing” – it will be bigger the next night. If you look at the moon and see it’s lit on the left side, that moon is “waning” – it will be smaller the next night.

Yet again I began this post too late. Oops! My friend Andrew was also in the Marines when he was younger. I remember going to his wedding, which seems like it was a couple of years ago. So it escapes me how his daughter Sydney could possibly be in high school, but there you go. And last night Evelyn and I went out for dinner at Portico in Goochland then drove to Goochland High School to watch Sydney perform the title role in Diary of Anne Frank. I’ve never watched anyone I know acting in a play before, but Sydney’s talent was evident and impressive. I didn’t get the impression she thought about acting – it seemed to come natural. Which I suspect is an essential quality for great actors. Fantastic job Sydney! Here’s the cast at the end of the show, Sydney (a.k.a. Anne Frank) in the middle in red:

Cast of "Diary of Anne Frank" at Goochland HS, 7 November, 2015

Cast of “Diary of Anne Frank” at Goochland HS, 7 November, 2015

I wish I’d been more organized – I’d like to include more here. But I have to get up a long time before sunrise tomorrow. So until next week!

All best,


PS I almost forgot I “got” a bluebird at Bryan Park on Thursday. I’m always happy to see bluebirds: 

Bluebird / Bluesky

Bluebird / Blue sky

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Flowers, Fun, goats, James River, moon, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Except for all the others

    • I know, right? Voting, travel, flowers, hawks, bluebirds, goats, theater, astronomy – lots going on this week! Things haven’t exactly slowed down for Fall yet! Maybe soon…

      Thanks for the note!

  1. Peter says:

    great post, Jay, nice to see you Saturday
    hey, you should read “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein
    (not the movie, but the book)
    In that book, you have to serve in the military to vote, he has some interesting ideas in there

  2. Hi Peter!
    Great to see you at the play! It’s been a long time! I wanted to hear more about the robotics competition but only got to talk with you for about two seconds. I just ordered “Starship Troopers” and I’m going to read it. I haven’t read any science fiction in quite a while so it should be fun. I think the last thing I read was by Robert Heinlein, or maybe Isaac Asimov. I’m looking forward to this. Great to see you and thanks for the recommendation. Take it easy,


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