Oh, Okay…

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August 3, 2021- That is what some have said to me, when what I have told them is not what they wanted to hear. Usually, it has come from someone who barely knew anything about me and was just projecting their own hopes and dreams onto what they thought should have been my actions.

I have used this phrase, myself, when coming to a conclusion about someone who offers only excuses, over time, for not achieving what is possible, given their abilities or skill sets. I have used it, in that vein, with myself, on occasion-and thus have begun a bounce back. It’s been my way to tell self not to give up.

For the fourth time in my life, I have cut someone off, who has consistently argued and rebutted my suggestions. I stuck with this individual for nearly four years, and now it is time for walking under his own power. I believe he will, even if after a period of rage towards me and of self-pity. The human spirit simply cannot abide such drivel, in perpetuity. If I did not believe this was so, I would not have tried to help him, in the first place.

“Oh, okay…” I say this, to those who believe only ONE political viewpoint or philosophy can suffice all human needs.

I say this, to those who claim that there needs to be a Ruling Class, to which all others must bow.

I say this, to those who maintain that the “White Race” owes the rest of humanity a bailout.

I say this, to anyone who believes that one nation or ethnic group is superior to all others, and therefore should either take on all responsibility for those others’ well-being or subject them to servitude.

I say this, to anyone who rejects the notion that it takes concerted group effort, free of ideology or partisanship, to fix any major problem that exists-anywhere.

In truth, these attitudes are NOT okay. Refusing to educate the children in one’s community, state or nation, unless high tuition is paid, is NOT okay. Refusing to re-negotiate with a potential ally in social progress, because of past indiscretions or disagreements, is NOT okay. Refusing to accept others, because of differences of opinion, is NOT okay. Refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions is NOT okay.

I hold myself to these points, so it is reasonable for me to hold others to them, as well.

Tendrils

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August 2, 2021– My hiking buddy noticed the length of the sutured scar on my left cheek and wondered whether the basal cell had roots along the length of the incision. Perhaps, as it is the nature of invasive beings to send out tendrils. Trees send out root networks, which work for the betterment of those benefitting from what is produced, and tot he detriment of those who need their underground pipes and power lined left alone. Cancer cells just send out tendrils, after they reach a certain stage of growth. As the surgeon said he got all that there was of this basal cell, I am confident there are no such tendrils remaining.

Humans who prey on others also send out tendrils. I occasionally get e-mails from people claiming to represent this or that departed relative’s estate. These go to the spam file and are deleted. I do, however, notify whichever immediate family member of said relative is in my network, that such shenanigans are taking place-and after we both agree it’s a scam, nothing further needs to be said. I would do the same with phone calls-or even letters.

This brings me to the networks which DO need to be spread about, like the best of trees. You have read of a disaffected young man, who appears to see yours truly as the only one who can help him achieve his goals. I am seventy years of age, and though in good health, nothing is guaranteed, long term. My will has been written and my immediate family stands to receive my estate. Only a carefully-established network, which I continue to encourage the young man to establish, will resolve the lingering problems associated with poverty.

For the record, I fully intend to live a few more decades, anyway, and will continue to stress the value of networking. An overloaded basket loses all eggs.

Fits and Starts

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August 1, 2021- This is normally the hottest month of the year, even here in Arizona, where people expect heat, much of the time. This year’s monsoon, though, is more active than those of the last three years and there has been rain reported here in Prescott, just about every day since Independence Day-so Mother Nature heeded the fireworks. I will go tomorrow, with my hiking buddy, to Watson Lake and see how much the water levels have been affected by the rather generous precipitation.

Rain often comes during this time, in fits and starts. It could be dry for as long as two weeks, then rainy for almost as many days, and back to dry. My energy level tends to be the same, varying with the heat index, as one would expect. With the added vigilance about sun exposure, especially safeguarding the “little bit of heaven” on the left side of my face, I will limit the hike and other outside activity to an hour or less at a time-and be well protected.

August is saddled with the sobriquet, “Dog Days”, as this is the time of year when dogs are especially either enervated or aggravated by the heat and humidity. School starts up tomorrow, but as I have said earlier, my presence there this year will be limited somewhat-with more of an emphasis on Red Cross activities-if the powers that be in the local organization see fit to have me along to help out.

What Gives?

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July 31, 2021- Stopping by one of my favourite local eateries, this morning, I received the jarring news that the owner of the establishment had come close to death, while I was away. He has recovered somewhat, but was still in an upset frame of mind when I saw him briefly.

There is a shortage of those willing to work, in our community, as elsewhere across the country. Some blame the recovery checks sent out earlier this year. Others point to the continued unemployment benefits being distributed. Having had to collect such benefits, on a few occasions in the past, I find that hard to fathom. Besides, the satisfaction of a job well done far outweighs the dubious bliss of lazing about in bed all day-but maybe that’s just my upbringing talking.

July, and the second journey back East this year, have come to an end. I won’t be leaving the Southwest again this year, barring a family emergency. The cost of the unexpected, but necessary, first trip, in May, and a freely-made investment in an enterprise that has turned out to be a money sink, have used the amount that I budgeted for a European visit, slated for this Fall. I don’t begrudge the entrepreneurs who asked for my contribution, but it is obvious that they did not think the whole thing through, thus their requests for continued donations-which I am refusing. Sometimes, the best thing one can do for another is to let him/her hit rock bottom.

I will make shorter journeys, in the months ahead: A memorial hike, on the Navajo Nation, is tentatively slated for mid-August; a visit to southern California is in the works for mid-September and I plan to spend 1-2 weeks in New Mexico, in mid-October, visiting and re-visiting some favourite parts of the Land of Enchantment. As COVID has pushed everything backward, 2022 looks to be busy enough: Spending time with friends and family in the Deep South, in February-early March; Trans-Canada and across the northern tier of the U.S., in May-early June and the postponed European visit, in October- mid-November. 2023-25 will bring other peregrinations, as well.

One of the most overused cliches in our culture is: “The more you give, the more you get.” I’ve found that usually comes from those who sit back and watch others get taken for a ride. At any rate, I am not buying into the cynicism and the chortling. No one person can be expected to raise others up, in perpetuity, It takes a community tide to lift all boats.

The Trafficked

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July 30, 2021– Ella Mae Begay has been missing nearly two months, with both law enforcement and family/community members looking for her, high and low, since her disappearance. She is a rug weaver, an artist whose traditional Navajo rugs have won her a lot of admiration. It is important to keep referring to her, in the present tense. An abducted or trafficked person should never be cast aside to the public’s opaque memory, as we learned when Elizabeth Smart was rescued, in March, 2003, nine months after her abduction. White women and girls, no less precious than anyone, nevertheless make up a far smaller percentage of the missing and exploited than do people of colour, especially Indigenous Americans.

The number of missing Native Americans is estimated at over 10,000-with 7,700 youth reported missing, as of 2018. Any such estimate is bound to be far lower than the actual number, with such factors as suspicion of outsiders among the families of the missing and family involvement in the disappearance, contributing to non-reporting. It is not just women who disappear, either. A young man, who I knew as a neighbour and student, in the 1990s, has been missing for over a year. His family continues to search and hold out hope-as they should. In the meantime, these families-especially the missing person’s children and spouses, live as if in a hollow shell.

Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, sponsored by the United Nations, whose own record in the matter has been spotty, in the past. That there is recognition of this issue, on a macrolevel, though, is huge progress. While the primary impetus for continued trafficking is easy money, the base for its widespread nature has been the sense that no one will really miss the abducted ones.

Everyone of conscience should miss them-and not give up searching, hounding the traffickers and demanding official action against “the Heads of the Snakes”, and finding as many of the victims as is humanly possible. A large organization, dedicated to this very achievement, is Shared Hope International. I urge those who are sincerely concerned about this issue to support Shared Hope, and any local organization which takes children off the street or otherwise points them towards a life away from exploitation.

https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-human-trafficking-day

Hand Grenades and Horseshoes

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July 29, 2021- The lead nurse, on the surgery team that removed a basal cell from my face, this afternoon, advised me not to attach a name to the growth. If I had, it would have been “Birdie”, so I could have then said, “Bye, Bye Birdie!”, after the 1965 musical about a rock star, who was drafted into the Army.

It’s said that close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. The skilled plastic surgeon. who performed today’s procedure, took no chances with any step and managed to get the entire growth removed, in one surgery. He stitched me back up, in relatively short order, but there was no rush, and he made no mistakes. A photo record was made, of every step along the way. The nurses were continually asking as to my comfort level, almost apologizing for every injection of anesthetic. They did well; I felt only pressure, as the incisions and suturing went forward-with an hour in between them, of course.

I have been fairly fortunate, over the years, health wise: Tooth extractions have had to be done, but otherwise, the last surgery I had was when my tonsils came out, when I was eight. Sun block has only done so much, though, and it has become quite crucial to wear a wide brim hat, when in treeless terrain. There are people who have found themselves sunburned, even through their shirts, so I have at least been fortunate, that way, as well.

After spending about three hours with the team, I was given an instruction sheet, for care of the sutured area and discharged. The huge facial bandage will come off, around 4, tomorrow afternoon-just in time for a Zoom call. The sutures come out, a week from tomorrow-and in the meantime, I will make do with only moderate activity. That’s only fair, considering the frenetic pace of the last three weeks.

I thoroughly appreciate the the work of the entire surgical team. They could not have been more thorough, and professional.

July Road Notes, Day 24: Connectivity

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July 28, 2021- When stopping for a meal, traveling alone, I like to sit at the counter, if one is available. It often gives a chance to converse with the server(s) and anyone else who happens to be sitting nearby. This evening, dropping into The Wiggly Pig, in Cortez, it gave the young server, who was fairly sweltering, a chance to express her feelings about the “Swamp Cooler” A/C system. The rooftop box set-up is financially efficient, but does little to provide comfort to anyone doing physical labour, within. I noticed the cook didn’t look too happy, either, when he emerged from the back, momentarily. He did, however, serve up a fabulous bleu cheese burger.

The journey back to Prescott was serene, and comfortable, offering a chance to recap.

Amarillo: Wes was a bit quieter than usual. I was the one yakking away, though I forget what about. Smoky Joe’s did give me a chance to give back to him, for all the times he has been a gracious host.

Grapevine: It’s always relaxing to be with my little family. Son has reached his “Third of a Century” mark, and is growing into something of a paternal role-even if the children are still in the future. He looked after me, and got my Bluetooth installed in the car-and made certain Elantra was not a toxic environment. Life in this apartment complex seems more satisfying-with more families than single men, clustered in groups.

Tulsa: Approaching my Greenwood District visit, by stopping first at Sherman, TX, offered a prologue to the study of the 1921 Massacre-as one of the key families in Greenwood had moved there from Sherman. The little north Texas town would, itself, have a few days of infamy, in 1930. Greenwood’s slaughter has, thankfully, not prevented people of colour from rebounding-and those who have gone on to succeed in life are less likely to suffer depredations than their predecessors of a hundred years ago.

Memphis: Many people wonder why I stop here. It’s about the heritage-and making note of the pockets of vibrant culture that sustain what is actually a wonderful hub of art and musi: Beale Street, Sun Studio, Cooper-Young District, and the area around the Museum of Civil Rights. Yes, the parking lots are scruffy and Super 8, by the river, was a bit on the rough and tumble side, but I’ll take those as trade-offs for the cultural richness and youthful energy that transcend the heat and humidity.

Crossville: Another place of extended family, who have my well-being in mind. The pond, the unique pets, the interesting conversations that flow from talk of travel, independent businesses and the history of people of colour in Massachusetts-these made for a sweet two-day respite. The hike to Fall Creek Falls, in the rain, no less, just accented how soothing the little plot of paradise can be.

Harrisonburg: Two years away from another of my homes away from home made only a slight difference. I miss Jess and Mike, but Duke’s has taken up where Artful Dodger left off. Dan and Naomi are doing just fine-and there is Village Inn, to provide comfort after a long slog up the Appalachian spine. Any number of interesting small cities and historic districts may be found, either south or north of “H”, as well. Though I could have done without encountering the voice from the past, at White’s Fort, in Knoxville, one does need to remember that such people are not uncommon, and patience is still needed, to a degree.

Oley: Glick’s is undergoing quite a transformation-Next Gen horticulture is going to be as fabulous as what has come before it, if not more so. As much as I enjoy visits with Beth, it was a pleasure to get to know Dave and the crew better. My D’s stopover, this time out, left me concerned for the well-being of the “May/November” crew, in a rare period of swelter. I tend to be very concerned for the young people, especially the women, I encounter- being patriarchic and avuncular comes naturally, after my upbringing.

Saugus: The town of my childhood is no longer “hometown”, per se. Mom is in the next town northward. Family still abounds, nearby, though, and I had a long overdue visit with dearly cherished cousins, in nearby Lynn. It was a pleasure to honour my brother and sister-in-law, for all they have done, and are doing. Mother herself is adjusting to her “new apartment” and still has the spunk that inspired me to achieve. Hammersmith Inn is still there, serving great breakfasts-and I noted a competitor, uptown’s Iron Town Diner-maybe next spring.

Maine and New Hampshire: Another long overdue visit, with cherished cousins, and along a beautiful stretch of Maine coast, highlighted this day. Stonewall Kitchens is a fine place to stop, perhaps for a breakfast, but definitely for gift shopping, ahead of any visits further afield. The solemnity of my visit to the graves of an aunt, uncle and cousin, who were veterans, was broken by the sudden cold rain that had me rush back to the car. What’s past is prologue-and seemed to be a short-lived trend: I had my third dinner, in five days, at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant, as the place in Augusta was just outside the cemetery. Maine’s and New Hampshire’s capitols grace two fine historical towns: Augusta and Concord, respectively. I just wish Concord had few more places of accommodation-though Holiday Inn filled the bill nicely.

New York and Pennsylvania: I will definitely make time, in the future, for a day or so in Albany, if for the architecture, alone. D’s was much more comfortable this time around, and a very strong-willed and proactive young lady seemed very much in charge, even though the owners were present, and interacting with the regulars. DuBois is a nice little town for an overnight stop.

Mishawaka: It’s just good plain fun to stop and visit with Val and Mark. That I took a wrong turn, abetted by a balky GPS system, and ended up just over the line, in Michigan, was a non-event, though it made for a late dinner. I learned to turn the phone off and back on, thus picking up the WiFi that WAS available.

Chicagoland and Wisconsin: It is ever a joy to stop at the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, north of Chicago. The price is always to participate in the Windy City’s eternal rush hour, but no matter- I have an EZ Pass transponder now. I only need to plan ahead and load the account. That the Temple is as much of a draw for visitors as ever, brings joy to my heart. Madison offers a shimmering and impressive Wisconsin State Capitol-easily accessible.

Twin Cities: What a joy it was to meet members of the family’s Minnesota branch-and to learn of their Arizona connection. Family is family, and being blended just adds that much more strength to the unit. I feel a tight bond with cousins Darah and Amarah, and their crew.

St. Paul has an impressive Minnesota State Capitol-and Cathedral. George Floyd Square- in honour of an unassuming man, who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, has brought disparate people together- and has brought focus onto the underlying shared humanity of us all. This was easily the most interesting experience, on a most interesting journey.

Great Plains Highways: Fairmont is Anytown, but it was special to meet Tericca, an engaging soul who came here from the Phoenix area, and who has a special appreciation for the back country of the Plains. Why I didn’t take more time to make sure the radiator cap was on properly, I’ll never know, but it was a good reminder-even though I had to sit for four hours, while a skilled mechanic, named Alex, gave my car’s cooling system a complete once-over. Falls Park is a fine reason to visit Sioux Falls, and a great place for locals to spend the three-digit summer days. Making it as far as York, NE, after the car service, was indeed a near miracle.

Castle Rock: It was a sublime surprise to find Max’s Diner, near the junction of I-80 and I-76. Navigating detours and road construction is just part of the deal, in summer travel. Max’s, with hand-made burgers, is a true gem, in a place called Big Springs, NE. Castle Rock, south of Denver, has experienced explosive growth, in the five years since I was last through this way. It was joyful, though, to be surrounded by young families, even to be next door to three very chatty and outspoken little boys.

Down the 160: This route feels like home to me, in so many spots. I could stay in Walsenburg, Fort Garland, Del Norte, Pagosa Springs, Mancos, or Cortez, and feel right at home. Alamosa, Monte Vista and Durango are a bit congested, but are also fine places to visit for a day or so-maybe longer, in the Fall. Del’s Diner (Fort Garland) is an unassuming spot, with plain fare, but the ladies are supremely gracious to all who stop for a meal. I miss the old “hippie” spot in Del Norte, and didn’t see anything that has taken its place. The drive over Wolf Creek Pass featured rain, in buckets. In Cortez, it’s always a coin flip: Wiggly Pig or The Farm Bistro. This evening, Wiggly won the toss. Love that Blu Burger! The rest of the road, through Dinetah, Flagstaff and the Verde Valley, just required that I stayed awake. Even with no place to get a cup of coffee, I found it easy to manage.

Tomorrow is S-Day (for Snip) and I will be well-rested for it.

July Road Notes, Day 23: Heat? What Heat?

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July 27, 2021, Castle Rock, CO- That kind of arrogance would be sure to get me into hot water, with my little family and anyone else who suffer the 100-degree plus days that seem to be in store for nearly the entirety of the Great Plains and South, over the next two weeks.

Elantra’s cooling system certainly worked like a charm today, and work it did-even in Denver, the readings were as high as 102,in late afternoon. The main function of the day was to get as far along as possible. Not before, however, I had a small breakfast at Yorkshire Inn, listening as a teacher of Authentic Bible Studies was explaining why it is important to know the original words of Scripture-to which I say “Amen!”. So much of the division we see in organized religion has stemmed from the personal interpretation of words, and differing from the personal interpretation of words, by others. Baha’u’llah says that every word, in Scripture, has “one and seventy meanings.” The teacher, this morning, gave his students the example of a passage where, in Old Hebrew, it is mentioned that certain people used a “wheeled vehicle”. This passage has been interpreted, by some modern scholars, to mean that certain people used a car!

My remaining stops in Nebraska were at Coffee Cabin, in Lexington, where I needed to sit and tend to a business matter; North Platte, for gas; and Big Springs, where Sam Bass and his gang robbed a Union Pacific train, in 1877, whilst on a foray from Texas. This little village, the last stop, westbound, in Nebraska, before I-76 presents itself as a road to Colorado, has a fine Service Area, with Max’s Diner as an especially fun surprise. The food is excellent, and healthful. There is banter aplenty, between staff members, and it’s obvious the servers and cooks are enjoying themselves.

Denver emerged out of the haze, in time for its rush hour slog. My method of going around it is to exit the freeway at University Avenue, turn on any given side street that is southbound, go east on Evans Avenue, then follow either Yale Avenue or Parker Avenue southbound to I-225, thus getting past the slowdown. From there, the feeder connects to I-25 itself.

Thus, I found the way to Castle Rock, home of Red Rocks Amphitheater. That it also falls along a direct route between Boulder and Colorado Springs is a plus. That the direct route is a toll road, is a minus. Overall, though, the day was a plus-as is being among a very pleasant group of travelers, vacationers and hospitality workers, at Castle Rock’s fairly new Day’s Inn.

Just about everything here is new, at least since I was last in Denver, in 2013. The tiny Castle Rock of that era has grown exponentially. Life sure has a way of keeping us on our toes.

July Road Notes, Day 22: Too Slight a Twist, and then…Sizzle

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July 26, 2021, York, NE- The auto heating and cooling technician took a hard look under Elantra’s hood, then a hard glance at me, and went to work on the grizzled grey one, having set aside a few other projects, that I might go on towards home, by day’s end. It turned out to be a simple matter.

The day started tamely enough, with continental breakfast at the Super 8, Fairmont, MN and a serene drive through the prairie of western Minnesota, to Sioux Falls, with the INTENT of taking in the Queen City’s signature Falls Park, and heading on to Nebraska. Wouldn’t you know, though, that in checking the water level of Elantra’s radiator, I managed to not put it on as tightly as I thought?

The piper came calling, as I drove out of Falls Park, towards I-229. The radiator’s warning signal came dinging (not silently, like the “Check Engine” light, but earnestly. I managed to turn the blower off and found an auto body shop parking lot, let the receptionist know why I was there, and called AAA. An hour later, I had added water to the radiator, determined there were no leaks and Elantra was loaded onto the tow bed. Four hours after that, the good folks at Twelfth Street Auto Care, on the west side of Sioux Falls,had squeezed Elantra into their already impossible schedule, determined that SOMEONE had not tightened the radiator cap properly, and that there were no other problems with the grizz. Properly chagrined, I thanked all concerned, profusely, and headed out.

Now, back to Falls Park. It was discovered by early settlers, in the 1850s, though the Yankton Sioux people had long celebrated the beauty and bounty of the cascades along the Big Sioux River. https://www.siouxfalls.org/parks/parks/locations/falls-park

Here are some scenes of my meanderings that followed a fine picnic lunch.

Foreground, Falls Park, Sioux Falls
A view of the lower Falls, from an observation deck
Local volunteers clean up algae and debris
The upper Falls
Ruins of the Queen Bee Flour Mill, destroyed by fire, in 1956.
The bed of Big Sioux River

It is not the Big Sioux at its fullest flow, which suited the many families who came to visit, just fine. Falls Park is a marvelous place for whiling away hot summer days-at it is expected to hit 102, in Sioux Falls, on Wednesday.

Thanks to Alex and Josh, I won’t be there. Instead, on towards Nebraska I rolled, through Elk Point and Jefferson, taking care to give a little girl on her bike, a slow and wide berth. (Jefferson is still the type of town that many of us knew, growing up, where such activities were the norm.) Sioux City came next, along with a casino town, to tis south. In both cases, restaurants were shuttered, due to lack of staff ( a temporary, but still nettlesome issue). I finally hit upon an Applebee’s, in Fremont, NE, getting a satisfying meal, despite the laconic and distracted bar tender/server.

Yorkshire Inn, in this I-80 town, became my resting place for the evening. Tomorrow, it’s on to North Platte, Sterling, Denver and as far beyond as I can get by 7 p.m. MDT.

July Road Notes, Day 21: What Matters Most

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July 25, 2021, Fairmont, MN- The passing driver fairly screamed at me, through a closed car window, as I stood on the grassy median of the quiet secondary road, waiting for the traffic light to turn in my favour, as I brought breakfast back to my motel room. I could see his scrunched up face, long after his car had passed by. An old veteran, sitting outside the motel, witnessed the whole thing and muttered something about some people not having enough to do with themselves. Such was the morning in Hudson, Wisconsin, where “morning people” seemed to consist of the energetic truck stop counterman, the cheerful motel owners, said old veteran and yours truly. Everyone else I met was either strung out about something, or just not ready to wake up fully.

Once I got on the road again, it was with a plan to visit the Minnesota State Capitol, in St. Paul, then go to George Floyd Square, in Minneapolis, and connect with a second cousin who lives in the area. I drove to the Capitol area, finding Minnesota has kept pace with its eastern neighbour, in terms of the majesty of its seat of government.

The Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul
The Quadriga, or Progress of the State

https://www.mnhs.org/capitol/learn/art/8857

The above link describes the gilded copper figures shown above, and called The Quadriga. The four-horse chariot is driven by the male figure, who represents the State. The female figures represent Minnesota’s agriculture and industry. The four horses represent earth, fire, water and wind.

“Winter” garden, east side of Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol, viewed from State Veteran’s Memorial
Cathedral of St. Paul

It was upon driving to the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul, some six blocks southeast of the Capitol, that I got a call from my cousin. She and family live on the St. Paul side of the Twin Cities, so my visit with them was moved up. What a delightful group! They met me at an area coffee house and spent about thirty-five minutes, before we all had to move on with our days. I’m ever grateful to be able to connect with far-flung family. D and her mate have each done well in life. Their daughters will follow suit, from all I noted this morning. Teenagers often go through periods of self-doubt (as do the rest of us), and their feelings deserve to be taken seriously, yet I see a very solid drive in both girls. This little unit is going to be just fine.

Gathering at a Caribou Coffee Shop (above and below)

From family reunion of sorts to honouring sacrifice, I drove to George Floyd Square, on Minneapolis’ south side. Parking well away from the square, I spent about an hour in prayer, listening and carefully contemplating the faces and descriptions of each shooting victim whose death is commemorated there. There was only concern and compassion being shown, by both those visiting and those who are tending the site.

The late John Lewis called for “Good trouble”.
Amanda Gorman had it nailed.

George Floyd Square, Minneapolis

Call it untidy, messy, or even inconvenient, if you will. I would say the events that led to this site’s establishment were very untidy, extremely messy and most inconvenient-for the people who have suffered, and, ultimately, for those who brought about their suffering.

Say Their Names Memorial Cemetery, 37th Street, south of Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis

A dedicated crew of volunteers was busy, at this collective memorial for African-American people of colour killed, under questionable or objectionable circumstances, over the past sixty-six years. One of the earliest such victims, Emmett Till, would have turned eighty years of age today. When he was killed, I was four years old, and he was fourteen. I barely remember, the very next day, one of my cousins mentioned that a “coloured boy”, not much older than he, had been killed by “some crazy people” in a place called Mississippi. I didn’t know who coloured people were, nor where Mississippi even was, but I knew it was wrong for one person to kill another. It was also strange to me that a child should have died. Death was for old people, like my paternal grandfather, who had recently passed away-and he was not all that old.

It is still strange, and I still regard such atrocities as crazy. It would be the same, were any group of people to be subjected to such treatment-regardless of age, or of “race”.