A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Thursday, July 28, 2016

History. Made.

On Monday, November 3, 2008, I attended a rally with then-candidate Barack Obama. His voice was hoarse - it had been a long campaign, and you could tell he was worn out. It was the night before the presidential election and he had been crisscrossing the country rallying voters and pouring energy into his campaign.

That night, I was thrilled by the words Obama hoarsely shouted, which I could hear even at the end of the huge crowd: "Fired Up? Ready to Go!" It was an historic moment and I was proud to be there. While I had not personally experienced racism, it was marvelous to me that America elected an African-American president just a few decades after desegregation. That experience, coupled with attending the first inauguration in Washington, D.C. reminded me of the joy and optimism of the American story. Those experiences inspired me to start this blog.

It's no secret from the title of this blog that I was probably going to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I can't stand her opponent, and I probably would have voted for any Democrat running against him. Yet I was unexpectedly touched while in my car on Tuesday night - as I was listening to the radio, Hillary Clinton hit the number of delegates necessary to win the Democratic nomination.

The outcome wasn't a surprise, after all, but I was so moved that I got to see the first woman presidential candidate from a major U.S. political party. I wrote a book report about the book: "Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling" while in high school. The book walked through the possible women who might be President. While I joked with my friends that some day *I* would be President, I don't think I really believed it possible.

Listening to the radio on Tuesday, it got real. To me, it was a wonderful moment, and it's been fantastic to read about 100 year old women who were born before women could vote and get to see this day, about the woman Senator who handed Hillary the sledgehammer to break the class ceiling, and see the momentum that women are building in politics. It's hard to believe that the idea of a woman President was so offensive that Walmart banned a T-shirt with that idea. In 1995.

You may not be wild about Hillary, and I get that. But can we all appreciate that it is awesome to see a woman Presidential candidate? As she herself said tonight in her speech, "when the ceiling is broken, the sky is the limit." Tonight, and this week, I've been reminded of our nation's history of optimism and progress. Truly, the sky is the limit, and we ARE stronger together, standing as Americans first, and Democrats (or Republicans) second.


"What the World Needs Now" performed by Broadway stars at the DNC

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Tale of Two Politicians

Let me introduce you to two politicians, and see who you would choose to represent you. Because this is 2016 and one of the major party candidates is a woman (!), I'm going to use non-gender specific pronouns.

Politician #1 spent their pre-political career participating in non-profit work to aid children and rape victims and establish rural health clinics. They served on hospital boards and non-profits aiding children. They authored numerous scholarly articles about children's issues. Once in politics, Politician #1 pursued educational reforms to ensure teachers had necessary skills to teach and limit class sizes in public schools. They worked to expand children's access to health care with bi-partisan support. Politician #1 also worked to increase funding for immunization programs, asthma research, and cancer screenings. Additionally, they have experience in domestic and foreign affairs, and have developed personal relationships with national and international leaders. They've spoken many times about their faith in God and its influence on their life, and help in getting through tough times.

Politician #2 was an attorney who failed the bar exam the first time. Their first case involved getting a man accused of raping a 12 year old girl off the hook on lesser charges. Through work at their law firm, they mixed business and politics, and they were involved in dubious commercial transactions with people of questionable integrity. They served on corporate boards of companies accused of poor labor practices. Upon entering politics, numerous allegations were made of double-dealing, corruption, and fraud, and although nothing was ever proved, this Politician has been at the edges of numerous scandals throughout the years. They have used personal relationships for political gain.

Now, reading these descriptions, I think most of us would choose Politician #1, and would think that Politician #2 is an nonredeemable scumbag. Some of you may have already guessed this, but both politicians are Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is the Presidential candidate that everyone knows about and has already decided how they feel about her. Most people have made up their mind that she is a shrewd and savvy advocate or a corrupt and conniving politician. We all then view her through our pre-conceived notions and aren't willing to admit that our view of her may be biased.

I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else - I tend to discount the accusations surrounding Whitewater, Benghazi, and the emails as Republican smear tactics, but there's no doubt that Hillary has been involved in a few questionable things.

Just like most career politicians (and Hillary has been in the public eye for over 35 years, so I think we can unquestionably call her a career politician), Hillary has done good things and bad things. She's a human being with faults and foibles. However, if we look at her career over the years, I think we can point to things that she has done well and faithfully. When I hear her speak, I honestly do believe she does care about our country and its direction.

If you've dismissed her in the past as a criminal or phony, I urge you to take a second look and read up on her. You may not agree with everything she says or has done, but at least do yourself the favor of being informed. Don't let your surface knowledge be a barrier to further investigation.

I'll try to blog in the next few months a few of the reasons "I'm With Her," but I urge you to consider her with fresh eyes, and be open to acknowledging both her faults and her accomplishments.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#Awesome

This week I got to spend a day in a 2nd grade classroom volunteering with a local financial literacy non-profit. Including this year, I've now participated in this program for 5-6 years, and it's always one of my favorite days in the year. The kids really get excited about learning, and they find it fun because it's a break from the regular school day. I find it fun to take a break from my regular work day, so everyone wins!

Every year there is a quote or two that stays with me. Mostly they are funny, some are sweet, some are weird, and some are all three. This year's most prescient comment came from one young man as were were discussing elections and consequences: "Donald Trump is a Booger!" he exclaimed. However, that one won't be the quote that will change my life (or change anyone's mind on the Great Orange Cheeto Man).

One boy, when introducing himself, would constantly say right after his name: "Hashtag Awesome"! I loved his brash self-confidence and total self-possession. It's something I completely lack. But I think we can all try to have that self-confidence and joy in ourselves. How "awesome" would it be if we all thought we were "Hashtag Awesome" worthy?

Blogging is one of the things that makes me feel "Hashtag Awesome," and while I'm not as confident as a 2nd grader in my abilities, I definitely need to blog more until I achieve awesomeness. What makes you feel "Hashtag Awesome"?

Monday, April 18, 2016

#TaxDay2016

In honor of today's U.S. tax filing deadline, here are some interesting articles about taxes that I read in my free time while not doing taxes. I think a lot of this is inside baseball, so you may not find it interesting unless you are also a tax accountant, but I've put a "*" next to the top three articles if you don't want to read all of them.

Wondering why Tax Day is April 18th this year, when it's normally April 15th?  Click Here.

Procrastinators, rejoice - Everyone Files Their Taxes At the Last Minute

Depressing: IRS Service Dramatically Improves to Mediocre (Related: Abolishing the IRS is Stupid, so don't vote for Cruz: Cruz's Plan to Abolish the IRS Would Reward Cheaters*)

More Depressing: How The U.S. Tax System Disadvantages Racial Minorities*

Perspective: No One Ever Died From a Late Tax Return

Lighter "Tax News" from the Onion: Head of IRS Has a Personal Filing System to keep Track of Nation's Tax Returns

The Importance of Disclosure: Every Presidential Candidate Should Release Full Tax Returns (And some Good and Bad Ideas for Tax Plans from the candidates this year)

Taxes Are Important, and ARE About Fairness (and how we define fairness): A Financial Times Columnist...is Wrong*

Why Tariffs Are Bad (and Important): The Case of the Hidden Import Tax

Near and Dear to my SALT-y heart: A Closer Look At The State and Local Tax Deduction

Happy Tax Day! Go Forth and Spend your tax refund however you choose!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Step Off (Your Own Rameumptom)

Note: this post has been percolating in my mind for a few months, but I haven't yet found the right words to express the concepts I'm trying to convey. So I decided to post anyway, with the hope that you'll understand the spirit of the post, even if I poorly communicate it. 

"School of Rock," starring Jack Black and assorted adorable adolescents, is one of my favorite funny movies. In the movie, Black plays a faux-substitute teacher and out-of-work rock n' roll dreamer who drafts his class into his dream of winning a rock contest.  In one scene, Black and his class compose a song urging everyone to "step off" from bugging them about their lives.



I think of this song when people tell me unpleasant truths. We all have our preconceived notions about ourselves and the world, and when someone shatters those illusions, our first reaction can be to ignore them (both the truths and the person who told them). I can't remember where I first heard of the concept of "white privilege" or "male privilege" or just privilege in general, but I remember being faintly uncomfortable with it. It seemed like people were ascribing my success to something other than my hard work, and somehow blaming me for a system that I didn't control.

A lot of people who benefit from privilege (a) don't realize they benefit, and (b) don't like being told that they benefit from privilege. However, I think there's a good Mormon story that can help people understand privilege, and it's the story of the Zoramites and their Rameumptom (found in The Book of Mormon here). The Zoramites pray a very self righteous prayer, on a platform that they've built to literally put themselves above others, and they cast out the poor from among them. This is a very literal and egregious example of privilege - in this case consciously choosing to reject and think less of others just because of their wealth status.

Reading this, it's obvious to us that the Zoramites are so self-involved they don't even realize they're doing anything wrong. And they are none too happy when Alma and his missionary companions point this out to them. Indeed, "...[the rich Zoramites] were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not harken unto the words" (Alma 35:3). In other words, because the preaching of Alma hurt them financially, the Zoramites were unwilling to change, or even listen to something that would disrupt the status quo.

Privilege is not always so clear cut. Sometimes it is difficult to see that we are standing on a Rameumptom that we did not construct, but that nonetheless gives us a step up on other people. I firmly believe that the antidote to privilege is the empathy and compassion that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was reminded of this last week by President Linda Burton's talk, "I Was a Stranger." She shared so many beautiful thoughts, but I was really touched with her call to empathy. She encouraged us to ask ourselves the following question about those in distress: "What if their story were my story?"

I think this empathy is the goal of conversations about privilege. Privilege is not about punishment for those who benefit from the current system, rather it is about helping everyone understand the struggles of those who do not benefit from the current system, in insidious and sometimes very subtle ways. So, I hope that you won't be threatened by discussions of privilege in the future. Instead of telling that person to "step off" and treating this as an accusation about you, consider it an opportunity to step up to listen and learn someone else's story, and understand their challenges.

For a better discussion of privilege, see here.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Continent

If I've learned anything about myself over the past few years of blogging, it's if I don't blog about something soon after it happens, it will not get blogged about (see: my Ireland trip a few years ago). Thus, here is a blog post about my epic trip to Budapest and Prague, organized thematically.

As I flew over the Atlantic, I realized it's been about 15 years since I visited continental Europe. This is tragic because, as a history nerd, I love Europe.

Sunrise on the plane - on our way!
Budapest and Prague were both unique - I felt like Prague had more of an classical European "old world" feel, while Budapest was more funky and eclectic.
Hanging out with my fellow American, Ronald Reagan, in Budapest
Budapest has lots of random statutes - we saw Imre Nagy, Ronald Reagan, Attila Jozsef, Lajos Kossuth, the Magyar kings, St. Gellert, Queen Elisabeth (of Austria-Hungary, not the one you're thinking of), along with anonymous statutes of 19th century policemen and 20th century guitar players. Lady Liberty of Budapest graces the city and is visible almost everywhere. Prague had Kafka randomness, St. John of Nepomak, Tycho Brache and Johannes Kepler, and a bridge full of statues that I wish I knew more about.

Dohany Street Synagogue, Budapest
Each city had some beautiful cathedrals, churches, and synagogues. I love the feel of cathedrals - awe-inspiring and huge, with beautiful art reminding us of divine truths. In Budapest, we saw St. Stephen's Cathedral, and marveled at the scenes of the city from the top of its dome. The Rock Church was a small chapel built into the hillside on the "Buda" side of the river. Budapest had the beautiful Dohany Street Synagogue, ornate in its decorations and even boasting an organ (Orthodox synagogues don't have organs, as this would require someone to "work" on the Sabbath by playing the organ). Budapest's Rumbach Street Synagogue was a beautiful example of Moorish architecture, but sadly, much in need of repair. I loved the multi-colored tiles of the Matthais Church high on Buda hill, which also boasted a very colorful (painted) interior.
Matthais Church, Budapest - love the gingerbread multi-colored roof tiles!

St. Vitus Cathedral. Just, you know, AMAZING.
In Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral was massive, mighty, and magnificent. I especially loved a stained glass window done by Alphonse Mucha. St. Nicholas Church in Prague was way too much Baroque (I can only take that style in small doses). We also took a day trip to Kutna Hora outside Prague to see the Bone Church Ossuary (CREEPY - just really really really CREEPY) and St. Barbara's Cathedral. I liked that St. Barbara's was not very crowded and had some interesting history, being in a former silver mining town. Prague's Jewish quarter held a very simple and very old synagogue built in the 13th century (!), along with the beautiful moorish designed Spanish Synagogue. Tyn Church was old and stately, with great accoustics.
Budapest Opera House - Grandiose and AWESOME! 
This trip was filled with lots of great music in great venues. We attended an Opera in Budapest's Opera House. The Grand Staircase reminds me of the staircase in the Titantic movie (my reference points are super classy like that). The opera was in French with Hungarian/English surtitles and it was Werther, based on a German novel - how's that for multi-cultural! We went to a charity concert performance of Mozart's Requiem at St. Matthais in Budapest - the music just seemed to expand and fill every nook and cranny of the cathedral. In Prague, we went to a concert in the Tyn church, which was basically the "greatest hits" of classical music and totally geared towards tourists like me, but it was still amazing to hear "Ave Maria" belted out in a cathedral that's stood for hundreds of years. Our last night in Prague, we hit a high note by attending a concert which was part of the "Strings of Autumn" series. The concert featured songs in french with absolutely perfect and amazing piano accompaniment (the one song I recognized was Claire De Lune, which I only recognized because it's in Ocean's Eleven...like I said, classy). The best part, however, was the venue - an opulent and absolutely perfect hall in Prague castle.
Spanish Hall, Prague Castle
Speaking of amazing spaces, we toured the Budapest Parliament building, which was stunningly gorgeous and super interesting. In Prague, we visited two gorgeous libraries at the Strahov Monastery and Klementium. We also wandered along Charles Bridge several times, which may have been my favorite place in Prague - stunning views of the Prague skyline and lots of people enjoying the scene, selling artwork and crafts, and looking at the statutes.

Strahov Monastery Library, aka my personal reading room if I was a Billionaire
In Budapest we visited the House of Terror, used by the secret police under both the Nazi and Soviet regimes. It is a reminder of the pain and suffering that too many still face at the hands of political oppression. Much as I don't like some of the presidential nominees this election season, I don't think any of them would go that far (hopefully we all won't have to find out).
Budapest Holocaust Memorial
Both cities had sobering reminders of the tragedies of the Holocaust. In Budapest, we saw the Holocaust memorial on the side of the Danube. This memorial was fashioned out of cast iron shoes, to remember those who lost their lives at the hands of the Arrow Cross militia.  Jews were ordered to take off their shoes before being shot and having their bodies carried away by the river. On Budapest synagogue grounds, there was also a metal tree with leaves holding the names of those lost in the Holocaust. In Prague, the Pinkas synagogue has the names of all the Jewish victims of the Holocaust from Bohemia and Moravia - it was sobering and terrifying to think that human beings could do that to other human beings. Budapest and Prague both had Jewish Ghettos where Jews were essentially imprisoned even before being shipped off to work camps or concentration camps in other locations.
Pinkas Synagogue
Along with the Holocaust memorials, there were reminders that some people tried to help. We saw monuments to Carl Lutz and Raoul Wallenburg, European diplomats who helped save thousands of Jews in Budapest. One of the things I love about traveling is learning about historical figures. I was really impressed with the story of Jan Hus, a Czech reformationist pastor who was killed at the hands of the Catholic Church for standing up for his beliefs, which included arguing for the right of all people to take communion and hear church services in their native tongue.

Jan Hus, one of my new heroes
Of course, we ate lots of yummy and varied food - I tried to be adventurous, but I probably didn't try anything too exotic because I fear sickness and I'm a wimp. Lantos, or fried bread, was a delicious and filling meal in Budapest. Pinterest clued us in to Gelato Rosa in Budapest, a gelato place with ice cream cones shaped like roses (for the record, the gelato was scrumptious as well as visually stunning). A Jewish bakery in Budapest had lots of pastries. Our best meal was undoubtedly at Strudel House in Budapest, where we had goulash, savory and sweet strudel, raspberry soup, and fresh bread. Also had a delicious meal at Cafe Louve in Prague, complete with bread dumplings. We ate lots of snack and street food - Turo Rudi (sweet cottage cheese covered in chocolate), potato chips on a stick, Kurtoskalacs (a spiral hollow bread originally from Hungary - in Prague we had some filled with ice cream that were DIVINE). Filed under random: pizza with duck!
Lantos with sour cream, ham, lettuce, and cheese - YUM!
The guidebooks all said that one of the "must" experiences in Budapest was the public baths. We visited the Szechenyi Baths, where we enjoyed warm mineral water along with water jets, a circular lazy river, old guys playing chess, and of course, men wearing speedos. We also rode the funicular in Budapest, a little jaunt up the hill, and climbed all over the Buda side of the river, enjoying the Changing of the Guard, the art museum, and great views of the flat "Pest" side of the city.
Why yes, that is a man playing chess at the Public Baths in Budapest!
Another "must" was the Astronomical Clock in Prague - it's a beautiful marvel of medieval engineering with lots of moving figures. Some think it's over-rated, but I enjoyed watching the figures move and being part of the tourist crowd. We also did a night-time cruise along the Vltava river in Prague, and it was lovely to see the city at night. In Prague we got our fill of art by seeing both the Slav Epic and the Mucha Museum. The Slav Epic is a collection of massive (and I do mean HUGE) canvases completed by Alphonse Mucha to celebrate Slavic history. I loved the ones showing preaching by Jan Hus and also a Russian scene of St. Basil's cathedral. 
Pretty Cool Clock, eh?
We walked everywhere, and enjoyed some crisp fall weather and only a bit of rain. It was wonderful to be outside, away from work, and enjoying the delights of two classic European cities. Extra wonderful was sharing the experience with two good friends! A line from the opera we saw has stuck with me: "God wants us to be happy!" (sung at the end, and if you know how Werther ends, you'll appreciate how ironic that is). I really do believe that God wants happiness for all of us, and I hope that 2016 brings all of you much happiness and joy!  Happy New Year!

Friday, October 23, 2015

October Optimization

This particular Molly Mormon Democrat can't bring herself to blog about politics when a certain Orange-American is leading in polls for the Republican nomination. When the electorate comes to its senses, she'll be back in the stateship saddle.  In the meantime, here is a post about one of her other loves, Autumn.


Last weekend I spent two days hiking and glorying in the beauties of Virginia autumn along Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah. I spent most of the time alternating between reciting/composing poetry, and laughing at my pretentiousness for reciting/composing poetry. Here are some of my pictures, poems I half remembered during my rambles, and at the end, one of the poems I composed as I hiked (apologies in advance).  If you need a soundtrack to listen to while reading, might I humbly suggest Eva Cassidy's Falling Leaves?




Dark hills against a hollow crocus sky
Scarfed with its crimson pennons, and below 
The dome of sunset long, hushed valleys lie
Cradling the twilight, where the lone winds blow 
And wake among the harps of leafless trees 
Fantastic runes and mournful melodies. 

The chilly purple air is threaded through
With silver from the rising moon afar, 
And from a gulf of clear, unfathomed blue
In the southwest glimmers a great gold star 
Above the darkening druid glens of fir 
Where beckoning boughs and elfin voices stir. 

And so I wander through the shadows still,
And look and listen with a rapt delight, 
Pausing again and yet again at will
To drink the elusive beauty of the night, 
Until my soul is filled, as some deep cup, 
That with divine enchantment is brimmed up. 

(An Autumn Evening, L.M. Montgomery)




Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! 

(Revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, canonized in 
Mormon scripture as Doctrine & Covenants 128:23)




The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. 

(Autumn, Rainer Maria Rilke)



O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

(God's World, Edna St. Vincent Millay)



The name—of it—is 'Autumn'—
The hue—of it—is Blood—
An Artery—upon the Hill—
A Vein—along the Road—

Great Globules—in the Alleys—
And Oh, the Shower of Stain—
When Winds—upset the Basin—
And spill the Scarlet Rain—

It sprinkles Bonnets—far below—
It gathers ruddy Pools—
Then—eddies like a Rose—away—
Upon Vermilion Wheels— 

(The Name-of it-is 'Autumn,' Emily Dickinson)





Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

(The Autumn, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)



O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
(October, Robert Frost)



Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

(Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost)



Downhill, is glorious 
A shouted hymn of praise towards
Nature, and nature's God.

Uphill, is terrible
A whispered curse of labored 
Ragged breath.

Down, Up, Down, Up, 
Mingling the praise and curses
Amidst crunching leaves.

Honey gold to crimson red,
Leaves spiral in the wind
Pulling me down the path.

Grateful, I remember the wonder that is 
My body - this flawed, strong thing.
Its imperfections still allow me to ascend.

I wonder, wandering
If the poet's right, that 
"Nothing gold can stay."

Perhaps, if I leave my doubts, anxieties,
misgivings, to sit and mellow,
They will change to gold.

Then turn to brown, and fall, 
Winter's carpet, preparing
The way for new beginnings.

What will grow? 
If I let those things be? 
Leave them to turn to mulch.

Waiting, still and silent, for spring life.
What will grow? If I am patient?
I suppose it will depend on what I plant.
(Hiking, Me)



There's something ultimately magical about being alone in the forest, and breathing in the glories of nature.  I know I romanticize it, but I really do feel renewed and refreshed while I hike.  Which makes it that much harder to leave when it's over.  Thus, the frowny face when I leave the park behind:


Optimize your October - go outside and enjoy Autumn!