screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-57-03-pm

The Mainstream Media: Obsolete by Al Sikes

Share

Myth: The Mainstream Media (MSM) is the principal enemy of various conservative causes from the Republican Party to advocacy groups.

When I started chairing the Federal Communication Commission, in 1989, their dominant influence was probably true. It could be said, when broadcast networks were few (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS), and the executives of each awakened in Manhattan with their New York Times over coffee that most of the news consumed each day was influenced by a liberal elite.

But today? We live in a cacophonous age. The New York Times struggles financially, and the broadcast news networks have been losing audience and influence for a generation. Today, like it or not, the most successful distributor of news is Facebook.

Certainly, there are many both liberal and conservative voices, but their audience shares are relatively small. Indeed if there is a powerful ideological voice, it is the combination of a very successful Fox News on cable and talk show hosts on radio.

Fox News at the end of the first quarter of this year announced: “In outranking all other cable networks for the full quarter, FNC spent the past ten consecutive weeks as the No. 1 cable channel in total day viewers.” Additionally, it is said that Rush Limbaugh alone reaches 13 million listeners a week.

Indeed if the MSM is to be judged by results, the fact that the Republicans control both houses of Congress and more governorships and state legislatures means they are a failure. So when you next hear that the MSM has a dangerous influence on politics, recognize that it is no longer true and is being used as a marketing and political ploy. Perversely, this lingering perception weakens the Republican Party’s quest for the White House.

Let me briefly explore the trap. And let me use Rush’s voice, at least as I imagine it:

“We must take back America from The Mainstream Media (I think he alternates with the phrase “drive-by media”). They want to take our guns, our bibles, indeed our freedom, and we must not let them succeed. I won’t let you down. Each day I will expose this left wing conspiracy and point the way forward.”

Back in the day, I would listen to Rush from time to time; I remember his characterization of those who agreed with him. Those who were in the amen corner he called “ditto heads.”

Rush wants indeed needs his “ditto heads.” And give Rush credit; liberals too have wanted a charismatic radio personality, but none has emerged. Although maybe that is an advantage because when a hard core develops that falls in love with their piped piper, trouble is ahead. Let me elaborate.

Many congressional districts are relatively homogenous; true also of many states. Narrow political narratives, in these jurisdictions, are often successful. While Democrats are advantaged in some of the small states, the GOP is dominant in more.

Presidential elections, on the other hand, tend to be won in the big coastal states. If a candidate wins Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Florida in the East and California, Oregon and Washington in the West, he/she will accumulate almost 60% of the electoral votes needed to win. Add several industrial states along with states that are more liberal and the Democrat candidate wins.

Returning to the media world, persons or Parties need to avoid echo chambers. In short, those who have national ambitions need to listen to and understand many voices. The cacophony is not going away, nor is the diversity of America.

But let me add, biased media that pretend fairness ill-serve our Republic. Jim Lehrer, who co-anchored the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour and then his own show on PBS, was the archetype of a well-prepared and fair journalist. He moderated twelve presidential debates because both Republicans and Democrats could quickly agree on his fairness.

Today we spend almost as much time talking about debate moderators as we do debaters. I would suggest to those who own or control news shows, that ultimately the best market position is exemplary journalism. Imagine the benefit of having your journalists picked election after election to host the debates; that would be better than the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

All In The Family by Jamie Kirkpatrick

Share

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-17-17-am

That’s me in the plaid blazer. Even back then, I wore my Scottish genes on both sleeves.

My three siblings were much older; ten years separated me from my brother, my closest sib. The girls were older still. Despite the age gap, I was never referred to as an “afterthought” or the “mistake;” I was always the “surprise.” Still, growing up, I felt my sisters and brother to be more aunts and uncle than siblings. (I was an uncle myself by the age of six.) We all got along well but our experiences of family life were completely different. They had each other while I had the dog and older parents in a quiet house. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I was loved, got plenty of attention, and had opportunities galore. But family—at least the kind that included lots of sibling interaction—was only intermittently present.

Boy, how that has changed! My wife is one of nine children in a rollicking crew that now has multiplied to somewhere in the mid-forties when we include children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. There are a couple of outliers, but most live within a long stone’s throw of each other. There is always something going on: a birthday, an unexpected visit, a wedding, an emergency. In other words, life. Never a dull or even quiet moment. If I wanted a big, close family, I got it in spades. Be careful what you wish for!

Kermit the Frog knew it wasn’t easy being green. Likewise, it isn’t easy for an introvert to be thrown into a lion’s den of extroverts, but I will say it does make for an interesting existence. It stretches me more than yoga, but that’s a good thing. The only child within me knows quiet and stillness all too well so although the hustle and bustle of big family life isn’t exactly natural to me, it is endlessly fascinating, like a never-ending story or a soap opera with more plot twists and characters than I could ever have imagined. Think you know what will happen next? Stay tuned; you’re in for another surprise!

Most of the time, I dive into whatever is going on, but I’m learning it’s ok to retreat, too. Like the time when I looked around and realized I was the only male in the room, one rooster among at least a dozen family hens. Slightly dazed, I went in search of the other guys: they were all in the kitchen picking at leftovers and drinking beer. “What took you so long?” one of the nephews said.

The hardest part of big family life is making plans. Or sticking to them. The State Department has initials for this—OBE: Overtaken by events. You think you know what’s going on, then something zigs, so you zag. This frustrated me at first—and at second and third, too—but eventually, I caught on. Now, when a bunch of us go out to dinner, I glance at the menu, order what strikes my fancy, then sit back to watch the show.

“What are you having?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Maybe I’ll have the crab cake.”

“Want to share?”

“Ask the waiter if the flounder is good.”

“Wait; think I’ll have lamb instead, but only if I can have spinach instead of rice and dressing on the side.”

“How about an order of fries for the table?”

And on it goes… At least there’s wine; that part is always easy.

Families shape us. For better or worse, we are the products of our genetic and human environments—we are nurtured and natured—probably more than we’d like to admit. As for me, sometimes I think about sitting on the stairs in our old house, way past my bedtime, my arm around my dog, listening to the rest of the family below. It’s a good memory, albeit one tinted with yearning. But no yearning now. I’m in it up to both plaid elbows.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

The Girls of P.S. 29 by George Merrill

Share

The discovery of photography revolutionized how the world views itself. Photography revolutionized my world. I’ve been making photographs most of my life.

When photography was discovered, it seized the world’s imagination. Eventually it gained the status of art while also being employed in forensics, documentation, medicine, advertising, pornography, family memorabilia, and portraiture. Photographs also serve as instruments of social control as used on driver’s licenses, passports, and wanted posters we see appearing in public places.

In a historic comment on the arrival of photography, the French artist Baudelaire quotes disdainfully how, “from that moment our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap of metal (referring to the daguerreotype.) A mad­ness, an extraordinary fanaticism took possession of all these new sun-worshippers. Strange abominations took form.” Fortunately for Baudelaire no selfies were taken then. I can only imagine the poor man would have gone bananas.

In the year 2014 alone, an estimated 800 billion photographs were taken worldwide. My guess is that most of them would be of children, sunsets, sunrises and selfies. Even in 1853, considering that photography was in its infancy and copies expensive, over three million daguerreotypes were produced. From its very beginnings, photography was wildly popular. The great chemist Sir John Herschel – not a man given to exuberance – upon seeing his first daguerreotype exclaimed, “This is a miracle.”

It might seem odd but our thoughts first begin as images, like photographs. The images provide the nucleus for the thousands words that will be forthcoming as we begin telling others our stories. In a sense, we are walking cinemas, carrying in our minds flicks that run non-stop, 24/7. Only a small percentage of those images will we ever become aware of. In our lifetime we will sleep though much of the show although, as we dream and if we recall dreams, we will be reminded that the show goes on long after we’ve gone to bed.

When I began taking and printing my own photographs in 1947, I thought making photographs was magical. I decided to create my own photo album. The album had black pages in which I inserted photos into paste-on corners. I recently came upon that album and was surprised to see how selective the subjects of my youthful photographic excursions were. They suggest my emerging pubescence, which I evidentially felt some need to document.

When I was about thirteen, through a stroke of luck, my skill as a photographer began to be recognized. The principal of my school discovered that I took and developed my own pictures. He invited me to be the school photographer. I was to take pictures of school activities, present them to him and he’d place some in the school paper.

Thirteen-year-old boys first welcome their erotic consciousness with delight but then with apprehension. This is why, at school dances, and on the playground boys remain on one side, clowning and punching each other in the arm – a time worn strategy for boys to keep safe distances from the girls who swirl around and giggle on the other side.

Just going up and talking to girls required courage that few, if any of us including myself, could muster. Such a move was like a charge over no-man’s- land. I soon discovered, however, that my position as official school photographer provided me with just what I needed to engage girls in conversation. My status as official photographer conferred on me a kind of professional legitimacy that made me feel safe in conversing with girls at dances or around the school play ground. I worked it for all it was worth. Remember, now, this is sixty-seven years before selfies. The girls welcomed the invitation to be photographed and while they stood around me chatting, I felt as if I was a celebrity and I luxuriated in the new thought that I was now “the man.” I photographed lots of girls.

At first, it never entered my mind that I was anything but selfless, offering my skills pro bono, as it were, in the interests of serving my school.

One day, a couple of my classmates took me aside somewhat furtively, and asked me if I might take a picture of Sallyanne, or Joyce or Elise, generally regarded as the class beauties. I seized the opportunity, struck a deal– baseball cards, bubble gum or a few pennies in exchange for snapshots. My portrait-for-profit excursion didn’t last long, wasn’t all that lucrative, although I had my first taste of running a small business and how satisfying it can be when you also love what you are doing.

I hadn’t seen the album for years. I found it recently and saw pictures of the various haunts on the Island I’d inhabited as a boy. Many of the surviving photographs were the girls of P.S. 29 and one included two of the beauties beauties.

It’s odd how both old photographs and our mind’s eye preserve moments in our lives as though time could be momentarily stopped.

If I should meet any of these girls today, they would seem total strangers to me.

There is a time for everything under the sun. When the times up, we’re left with memories and dozens if not hundreds of old photographs.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Recovery: The Mid-Shore’s New Opioid Treatment Center After Year One

Share

Dr. David Hill has been behind some remarkable businesses on the Mid-Shore, including William Hill Manor and Easton Bank and Trust, but nothing could prepare him for starting the Mid-Shore’s first heroin treatment center in Easton last year.

But with the help of Melissa Bishop, an expert on opioid treatment programs, Dave, along with his son Chad, took an unprecedented risk in investing the unfortunate but very real and growing new market for opioid addiction.

After Chesapeake Treatment Center’s first year of operations, the Spy asked Dr. Hill and Ms. Bishop to sit down with us to discuss what they have learned about addiction on the Eastern Shore, the more than 500 individuals currently getting help, and the treatment center’s plans to expand to Salisbury and possibly Ocean City in the near future.

This video is approximately six minutes in length

Rigged by Al Sikes

Share

Hope is defining—freedom without hope is illusory. Rigged is the antithesis of hope. Why study or work hard if life is rigged? Why invest if the financial system is corrupt?

Communism was built on a foundation of capitalism being rigged—struggle without hope. It was hard, however, for Communism to survive when open societies thrived. The images brought down the Soviets, and their puppets as communication satellites showed the rewards of freedom. But, freedom paired with democracy is not an easy or sure road.

We have just finished an election contest where Bernie Sanders claimed Wall Street stacks the deck—rigs the system. Hillary Clinton was his target. And now we are in another where Donald Trump keeps shouting that the system is rigged.

I find a billionaire using charges of rigging both ironic and amusing. He claims to understand corruption because he is on the inside. What Trump knows is that if you invest enough in clever lawyers, you can game byzantine tax and bankruptcy codes and delay justice. Fortunately, most people voluntarily obey the law. Trump’s message is corrosive. What Trump doesn’t understand or care about is the consequences of his aggressive effort to undermine the view that America rewards personal efforts and enterprise. He should understand that America has been a magnet for immigrants who will do almost anything to escape rigged systems.

America, while not perfect, has fought domestically and internationally against those who would deny hope. But given our short-term memories and, too frequently, our lack of historical understanding, we are confronted by two candidates who, to Trump’s advantage, are thesis and proof. Trump’s thesis—the system is rigged (and nobody knows that better than me) and Hillary Clinton is proof. How, he invites the public to ask, can a former government official parley her public service into tens of millions of wealth? She, of course, will ask how did Trump escape four bankruptcies largely unscathed?

I am left unsurprised, but nauseous. Washington is filled with former government officials whose main asset is gaining access, and the larger the government gets the more is spent to access those in power. Gaining a prestigious position in Washington is more valuable than a Stanford MBA. And, it is not surprising that aggressive and clever lawyers have served Trump well. If I were a seller and Trump was the buyer, only a cash transaction would be acceptable.

Regardless of humanity’s inability to perfect a system of governance, we should remind ourselves of American progress through our founding documents, and a civil war fought to right a grievous wrong.

We should also remind ourselves that in the broad reach of time, 2020, the next Presidential election year, is not far off. We can begin to correct our current misadventures in 2018 when once again we are given the constitutional privilege of electing a new House of Representatives.

My vote in November will be one of protest while looking forward to leaders who are not proof of rigged systems.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

And Then This Happened by Jamie Kirkpatrick

Share

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-6-02-49-amThe day the weather turned toward autumn, my wife and I were sitting on our friend’s dock enjoying the cool breeze and warm sunshine. We had two crab pots in the water, good books to read, and—best of all—time on our hands. And then this happened: The Sultana sailed stately up the river and came about to tie up at her berth. Suddenly, we were smack dab in the middle of a 19th Century memorable moment.

I like the randomness of life. The best laid plans of mice and men are good in theory, but it’s the unexpected moments that add spice to existence. Like the time (just last week) when I knocked my first ball in the water on a par three, then hit my next shot into the cup for the dubious distinction of a hole-in-three. “Ho-hum par,” commented my friend the Eggman drily.

Randomness: the lack of pattern or predictability in events. Loved by mathematicians, statisticians, and scientists the world over; feared by everyone else. While we’d like to believe that life is a logical, predictable phenomenon and that our actions have direct consequences, we know better. All too often the consequences of our actions are unintended. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, these unintended consequences reward us, but more often than not, the collateral damage they cause can reduce a desirable result to rubble. It’s the price we humans pay for any decision that involves even a hint of risk or for the myriad exogenous variables that bombard each and every breath we take.

When first conceived back in the 1940s, game theory was a mathematical model behavioral scientists developed to explain “conflict and cooperation between intelligent, rational decision-makers.” It was based on a zero-sum equation in which one person’s gain resulted in another person’s loss. But times have changed. Assuming for a moment that there are still intelligent, rational decision-makers among us, we now recognize that life is a much more complex game than we had originally thought and that uncertainty can rear its ugly little head at any moment. As a result, modern game theory now takes into account the probability of uncertain random events influencing human decisions, what I like to call the “and-then-this-happened” factors.

If our lives were lived only within the lines, then predictability would rule and there would never be any accidents, surprises, or genetic mutations. (And remember, none of us would be here were it not for genetic mutations!) So be thankful for the unexpected, random occurrences that influence the ho-hum pars of our lives; they keep us on our toes and if we’re lucky, they move us further down evolution’s squiggly line.

Back on the dock, my wife and I lazed the afternoon away. The Sultana tied up, the crew went home. Just before dark, we pulled our two crab pots: one jimmie in each, hardly enough for dinner. And then this happened: my wife’s brother from California turned up on our doorstep, some friends came over, and, well, you can guess the rest…

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

Sandbox: Morgnec Gateway Mural Brightens Weekend

Share

Whenever Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn appear with a paintbrush, you can be sure a landscape will be transformed into a kaleidoscope of geometric shapes and swirls, painted large on the sides of buildings.

This weekend the internationally acclaimed duo worked with middle school, college students and SWOYA kids to transform the back of the Tractor Store on Morgnec Rd. Into a 20 x 40ft collage of color aptly named “The Morgnec Gateway Mural.”

Hosted by Washington College’s SANDBOX Studio, Washington College’s College Preparation Intervention Program, or CPIP (a yearlong program developed in partnership with the Bayside HOYAS and Kent County Public Schools), and RiverArts, the project took from Friday evening to Sunday noon to complete.

The project was blessed by the Cordish Co. who allowed the back of the Tractor Store to become a blank canvas for the artists and their dozens of helpers. The project received another helping hand from Jay Yerkes, whose crew pressure-washed the surface and provided scaffolding for the weekend.

Unterhalter and Truhn met at Maryland Institute College of Arts in 2001 and since then have collaborated on a number of projects in Baltimore and were recently selected by New York Department of Transportation’s 191st Tunnel Beautification Project and with Philadelphia’s Murals Arts Program to create “Summer Kaleidoscope,” a 400-foot-long floor mural and pop-up park. The reference in the video to “working inside a Ninja Turtle” is a description of the difficulty in working in a damp environment.

Their transformative work has earned them residencies at The Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Public art has long been a cornerstone of SANDBOX Studio’s mission to engage the public in a wider conversation about art and environment and as Washington College’s premier arts initiatives have brought internationally acclaimed artists from all over the world to Chestertown.

Katie Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter

Katie Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter

 

mur4

mur9

mur10

mur12x

 

mur13

mur14

mur15

 

The finished mural.

The finished mural.

 

 

 

 

The Gang of Four: KCPA Organizes to Fight Wind and Solar to Protect Open Space in Kent County

Share

The founders of the Kent Conservation & Preservation Alliance are the first to say that their new organization walks in the footsteps of some remarkable Kent County citizen committees. From Chestertown’s own little tea party prior to the Revolutionary War, to Kent Preservation’s stunning victories in turning back nuclear power plants and waste incineration plants in the 1970s and 80s, and more recently grassroots efforts to save the local hospital from downsizing, this small region on the Eastern Shore has had over 300 years of pushing back on what it considers to be threats to its special way of life.

But Kent County farmers Judy Gifford, Pat Langenfelder, and Janet Christensen-Lewis joined by heritage consultant Elizabeth Watson; all believe that their cause to prohibit large-scale wind and solar land use rises to the same level of concern as these other causes.

In their Spy interview, the organizers behind KCPA make their case that large corporation plans currently under consideration for new solar and wind farms in Kent County will permanently and negatively impact the region’s most precious asset, its open spaces.

This video is approximately twelve minutes in length. For more information about the pending case (Case No: 9411) mentioned in the inverview please go here.  For previous stories related to the use of wind turbines, please go here

The Remains of Our Days by George Merrill

Share

As a young assistant priest in a New York City church, I visited many of our parish’s elderly and shut-ins. I liked visiting. Many of my contemporary clergy didn’t. They were impatient with the inclinations of the elderly to balk at change, ruminate about health, talk about who died while fussing about changes in the churches décor or services.

I can say honestly I didn’t feel impatient. I had developed a knack for nudging the conversation in the direction of the “old days,” and how life was for these elderly in the days before my time. It was like history coming alive before me, as if I was back there. Elderly parishioners welcomed my enquiries and many of the tales I heard were spellbinding. It was a win-win.

The wheel of Karma turns. As those folks were then, so I am now. I balk at some changes and am regularly saddened by the people I’ve known who have died. I am, however, as curious about my own past as I had been about those of my parishioners in the city sixty years ago.

The experience of exploring one’s life is exciting in the way rummaging through attics can be, where over the years, all kinds of things were put away to gather dust until circumstances conspired to encourage our return to the attic. There, we rediscover what we’d long forgotten but see it with fresh eyes.

I found an old family photograph, recently. It shows the front parlor and the adjoining room in my grandparents’ home where, during my boyhood, we’d celebrate Thanksgiving. The rooms were small.

The photograph was taken long before I was born, maybe near the turn of the century. It was a grand old house located on Richmond Terrace on Staten Island, a once fashionable residential area along the Kill Van Kull, the water boundary between Staten Island and New Jersey.

I remember the house as always filled with smoke – from my grandfather’s and my uncles’ pipes and cigars – along with the lingering smell of Yardley lavender perfume that my grandmothers and great aunts wore with their holiday finery. The collective aroma became for me a kind of tribal scent by which I knew I was home among my own native kin.

In the room, bric-a-brac, knickknacks, gewgaws, photographs, odds and ends of every description covered the surfaces of mantels, tables, a china cabinet, and even the floor. There, two cuspidors sat prominently on either side of a table in the middle of one room.

The fireplace was black wrought iron. On its mantelpiece, among various vases and statuettes, sat a clock with two horses on top bearing the triumphal figures of what I guessed were conquistadores. The table in the middle of the room was also filled with photographs and I saw the black ivory elephant that had been there when I was a boy. The figurine had an elegantly smooth sheen and I could never pass it by without touching it.

Walls were papered in various floral designs, crown moldings edged the upper walls and on the ceiling in the middle of the sitting room, a chandelier hung from a round plaster floret adorned with sculpted flower buds. The chandelier had three fogged glass shades in which gas flames once burned. I saw the Morris chair I eventually inherited. In this photograph, a lace doily had been draped over the back.

Seeing the picture now, I realize that in my lifetime I witnessed the remains of the Victorian era. I was enchanted with its extravagant décor, its insatiable appetite for collectibles and the intimate spaces in which people, despite limited room, maintained careful distances from each other.

The Victorian code of conduct served to manage family secrets. My widowed great aunt had the “handyman” living with her in her Victorian home next door to my grandmothers. It never occurred to me until I was in my fifties just how in those days certain personal “arrangements,” while considered abhorrent, were nevertheless quietly accommodated, and never discussed.

I adored my Great Uncle John. He was a retired New York City policeman and a bachelor. He was considered “course.” My mother liked him, too, although she occasionally complained how he liked putting his hand on her rump. That Uncle John dated Margaret – an Irish Catholic – with whom he went to bars, shocked his Methodist sisters. It was scandalous enough that Margaret was Catholic, but to add insult to injury she was also Irish. The Methodists of the family were staunchly abstemious, terminally Protestant and defiantly waspish. I never saw Margaret at family affairs, but only occasionally with Uncle John. I liked her. She was salty.

My mother resented Grandma Merrill. Years ago, when having my father’s family for Thanksgiving, Grandma Merrill spent half of Thanksgiving day instructing my mother just how the turkey should be prepared. My mother remained civil, but the invisible walls of distance were erected.

Today, at holiday gatherings, families take a minimalist view of dress codes. Come as you are is in vogue. Flip-flops and tank tops will do. Back then, I recall with fondness that when my relatives arrived for the day, everyone was dressed to the nines. Men donned suits, vests, ties, topcoats, and wore fedoras and the women came in hats, white gloves and flowered dresses. There was an implied respect in the way that even relatives, who were certainly familiar with each other, still chose to meet looking their best. Keeping up appearances is not a bad thing. It lends dignity to an occasion.

Photographs remind us of the people and places that formed our identity. They are formed partly by our sense of place and more particularly by the personalities of the people who occupied those places. In one sense we are formed like onions, less organized by a center than consisting of layers of memories that remain with us until the remains of our days.

Seeing an old yellowed photograph brings them back.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.