Photo taken by Red at Prison Break Tattoos


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I still can't believe that Sawyer actually did it. I thought it'd be something she'd talk about for a while.


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I never had a doubt. Once she mentioned it to me, it was obvious she had thought it through.


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Well, when I got Natasha her first tattoo as her high school graduation gift four years ago, the last thing I ever imagined was that I'd be giving Sawyer the same gift.


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That is because Natasha has "attitude" and an independent streak, so being the first in the family to get a tat was totally in keeping with her personality.


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No kidding! Whereas Sawyer's a hard-working student-athlete that graduated from high school with honors. She's very social, and her friends seem as "clean-cut" as she is. All-in-all, not the type you associate with tattoos.

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You are showing your age. And, stereotyping people. Maybe years ago, only a certain "type" of person got tats – criminals, gang-members, uneducated, rebellious. Now, they have become mainstream, and people who get tats demonstrate many positive traits.


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I know, and I thought I got over my preconceived notions when Natasha got her first tattoo and then started getting more. But it just seems so out-of-character for Sawyer.


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Really? Out of character for someone who is very creative and is working toward a career in the entertainment world? Someone who understands and appreciates the power of storytelling and the meaning of words and imagery? Someone who knows herself well enough to carefully select a tat that has a deep personal meaning?


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Since you put it that way, maybe it's not out-of-character. I guess no more so than you getting a tattoo that matched Natasha's first one and now Sawyer's.


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The one I share with Natasha is meaningful because it was my first tat and we share that. This one is meaningful because Sawyer came up with a very creative way to remedy a "challenge" that we share.


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Remarkably, it was only a few years ago that she told me that she has trouble knowing her left from her right. At first, I thought she was kidding, but then remembered you don't know your right from your left. But when she recently told me she wanted to get two tattoos, an "L" and an "R", to help her remember, I just laughed.


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And, when she told me that the other night, I told her I thought it was brilliant. Although, you clearly were no longer amused.


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That's because I realized she was serious. At one point, she had talked about getting an arrow tattoo as a reminder of her summers at camp, but it was only very recently that she mentioned the "L" and the "R." The idea of a tattoo started as "maybe, one day in the future." But the other night, it became "one day very soon" and yesterday it actually happened!


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It is human nature that you will always think of her as your little girl, but Sawyer is growing up and about to leave for college. This tat is the perfect graduation gift for her as it acknowledges that you trust her decision-making skills.


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I know that intellectually. But since it's something permanent, I just wanted to make sure that she wasn't having second thoughts. And that she understood it could lead to future tattoos since we've seen from Natasha how tattoos can become "addictive".


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Even I have told you that after the first one, I started thinking about getting inked again. However, it never dawned on me I might be "sharing" my second tat with Sawyer. And, at Prison Break, where I got my first one. But, I am thrilled it worked out that way.


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Which makes it even more special for her, too. So, I'm thrilled for both of you. Especially since both of you will finally know your left from your right.
Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


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When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.


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I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?


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Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


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No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.


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I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.
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Image by Arseniy45 on iStock


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I know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories) learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and found the Americas instead! I still recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting impression. Regardless, he became one of the most famous explorers in history.

I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.


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Obviously, Red needs to "update" her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that might not have been his real name. Information has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation), leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized hero originally depicted in history books.

As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."

So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."