Men and Women, Pure and Simple

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                                                “The best way out is always through”  – Robert Frost

I am in a mood to rant.  Greeting me this morning, when I logged on, was a message from a friend.  It was clear, it was heartfelt, and it was loving.  I found it the most refreshing message I have received  online, in a good long while.  It established the parameters of our friendship.

I look forward to that ongoing friendship.  The person is one of the most enjoyable people I’ve met, in a very long time.

Now comes the fact that I’m a man, and my friend is a woman.  Automatically, the notion that I must like her for one thing, primarily, has come up, with some people more than others.

So, let me say this:  Women are not, and have never been, one-dimensional beings.  Men are not, and have never been, one-dimensional beings.  Then, why do we assume such of ourselves, and of one another?

I am an affectionate man.  I hug my son, my brothers, my sister and my SIL’s, my nieces and nephews, and those of my friends who like being hugged.  I kiss my mother, my MIL, and a few female friends, who will remain anonymous.  Physical affection is not the crux of our friendship.  It just gives me a nice feeling, when it happens.  Yes, I had a full, intimate relationship with my wife of 29 years, and that part of our eternal bond is over.

I get in a very stormy mood, reading of how certain men have screwed over the women they say they love.  When I hear from women friends about how their menfolk have hurt them, I have to say- I wouldn’t blame any of you, if you were to lock yourselves up in cloisters, for the remainder of this earthly life.  I would miss you,  terribly, but I would understand.

I know of at least two men who have been screwed over by the women in their lives, as well.  Trying to out-callous men does not make those women stronger people.  They need to do the same shame walk that my jerkwad fellow males ought to do.

People are not for beating.  Feelings are not for trampling.  Souls are not for burning.

I love my friends.  Some are platonic.  Some are confidants.  Four, two men and two women, have Best Friend status, by my lights.  One, whom I am getting to know, could very well be my fifth Best Friend, in time.  I know, “best” is a superlative term.  I would step up for anyone I regard as a friend.  I would take a bullet for anyone I regard as a Best Friend.  You know who you are.

I mean what I say, and always have.  I have shown atypical behaviours, now and then, in wrestling with my demons and my neurosis.  A book by Justice St. Vrain, entitled “Love, Lust and the Longing for God”, has helped with that struggle.  I have always owned up to my flaws.  The reason is, that God made me noble, as He made all of us.  The introductory quote from Robert Frost defines my life path.

Every single human being has goals, dreams and life plans.  Every single human being deserves at least one friend who will support her or him in this vein.  I have people who support me, my aforementioned best friends, my son, and my newest friend.  I, in turn, support them.

We go wrong, ladies and gentlemen, when we place our own whims and wants above the plans and dreams of those we say we love.  No one wins that struggle.  Unsure of that?  Just look at the wreckage of families around you, and at bonds that have been wrent asunder,without rhyme or reason.

The key is detachment.  The means is communication.  Cling to a branch too tightly, and don’t be surprised when it breaks.  Stay silent, out of fear, arrogance or pride, and don’t complain that you are being misunderstood.

We are all in this together, through pain and joy, love and sorrow, work and play, love and heartache.

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 25: Gettysburg, Part 2- These Hallowed Scenes

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There is, at Gettysburg Battlefield National Historical Park, an eerie stillness- even in midday, and even with tourist hordes disgorging from buses, filling the Visitor Center, and lining up for bicycle and Segway tours.  The fallen rule these precincts.

Central Pennsylvania is filled with natural beauty, and the approaches to he battlefield are filled with same.

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The Visitor Center is huge, and always full.

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There is one figure, though, who remains unruffled by it all, having spoken his peace, so long ago.

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Once in the cemetery and monument areas, the horror of the three-day battle is underscored by every grave, every monument and every southward view, towards the Mason-Dixon Line, a scant 12 miles away.  It’s said, by frequent visitors, that ghosts congregate here, on a regular basis.  I post the following photos, without individual comment.  Please note that all are of Union soldiers and regiments.

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This is a look back north, towards the Union commander’s headquarters.

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Below, is The Angle, from which the Union advance guard fired on Confederates, who were advancing in the fields below.

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Here is another Union reconnaissance point.  This stone wall was defended by Union troops, upon Confederate General Armistead’s troops having advanced to the Copse of Trees, passing just west of the grove, before Union troops engaged them and drove them back.

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This obelisk honours the 89th Pennsylvania volunteers.

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The Copse of  Trees, below, represents the northernmost advance point by Confederate forces in the War Between The States. The monument in front of  the Copse is called the High Water Mark.

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Native Americans fought for both sides in the conflict.  This monument honours the Tammany Regiment, from New York City.

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The monument below honours the Vermont Regiment, and is shown in two frames.

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The following frames show the Pennsylvania State Monument, at the eastern edge of the park.

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The next two views are from the top of the Pennsylvania State Monument.

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I caught one final glimpse of the Copse of Trees.  Were it not for this vantage point, the story of our nation may have turned out far differently.

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I was in a somber mood, the rest of the day.  Driving through the Brandywine Valley, Chadds Ford, Wilmington and the University of Delaware at Newark, I was in no further mood for photography.  At North East, MD, I learned what else had transpired that day- 12 innocent lives were snuffed out, at Anacostia Navy Yard, a place I visited twice, as a soldier, in 1970.

My planned visit the following day, to the United States Naval Academy, took on a graver mien.

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 25: Gettysburg, Part I- The Town Which Endured

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My first inclination, when visiting a place of historic significance, is to look at the surroundings of the historic relics.  Who are the people who live here? How do they adapt to having to share their home with others?  What does the town/city, which surrounds the historic park, have to offer?

In going about the city of Gettysburg, PA, I concerned myself with the town center, and with Gettysburg College, which was in existence, and in session, at the time of the seminal battle.  Here are some scenes of those two.

I started at the Central Train Station, walked towards Gettysburg College, and proceeded in a southwesterly direction, then around the campus and back to Lincoln Square.

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I came upon Gettysburg College, at the Kline Theater.  Each and everyone of the buildings that follow, bore witness to the horrors of the War Between the States.

 

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Walking back into town, a Victorian neighbourhood comes into view.

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Lincoln Square is the centerpiece of the city, and in fact, was where the President stayed, when he came here to pay his homage to the fallen

 

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This hotel housed Mr. Lincoln’s entourage, and the press corps, in 1863.

 

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The president himself, though, stayed here:

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The Wills House was the residence of a businessman who was Abraham Lincoln’s sincerest backer in Pennsylvania.

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Here is one final look at Lincoln Square.

 

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It would be an afternoon of awe, fascination, and considerable spiritual pain, at Gettysburg Battlefield National Historical Park.

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 24: An Ides of September Meander

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I woke up in Danbury, CT on September 15, and, seeing no place open for a Sunday morning breakfast, picked up coffee and a muffin at the Gulf station, and headed out.  Northwest Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley got short shrift this time, as I needed to make it to Pompton Plains, NJ by 11:30, to see the folks at my FIL’s hospital room.

As it happened, the nation’s Prisoners of War were being honoured at High Point, NJ, not far from Pompton, so I spent about twenty minutes there.  High Point is New Jersey’s- highest point. LOL.

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I spent about 45 minutes in Pompton, and, satisfied that Pops would be getting out of the hospital the next day, I made a beeline for Philadelphia, and Chestnut Hill’s Wissahickon Park, where I met my youngest niece and her friend, and enjoyed a light supper, amid salubrious surroundings.

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Leaving Philly, I passed through Germantown.

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Day’s end found me in more familiar surroundings- Glick Farm, for a good night’s rest.

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Such were my Sunday meanderings- on the way to Gettysburg.

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 23: The Great Race

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Sail Blind is a non-profit organization, which supports the legally blind and totally blind, in their efforts to use Braille and other tactile and auditory means, in manning sailboats, for both therapeutic and recreational purposes.  My brother, from Massachusetss, is a member of this organization.  He participated in a series of races, on Newport, RI Harbor, September 14-15.

 

This is  a series of glimpses into that event, and its environs.  Below, my brother and a member of the supervisory team.

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Here is another view of the race group.

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Below is a view of Newport Harbor.

 

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While waiting for the race to start, I took a brief ride over to Oceancliffs Resort Hotel.

 

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Here is a view of Aquidneck Bridge, from Oceancliffs.

 

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The decor and landscaping at Oceancliffs are indicative of Newport as a whole.

 

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At 11:30, it was time to go back to Fort Adams, from whence the race would begin.

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Here is the administrative boat (below).

 

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Where you see #12, in the photos below, you are seeing my brother’s boat.

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The vessel below is one of the supercontainers which use Newport Harbor,

 

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The Manatee, below, was our Spectator Boat.

 

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The gentleman below was our Sail Blind staff accompanist and commentator, who greatly added to the experience.

 

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We ended the day with a group dinner at this restaurant, in Middletown, just north of Newport, on Aquidneck Island.

 

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After dinner, I bid farewell to my brother and sister-in-law, and  headed northwest, spending the night in Danbury, CT.

Isolation, Longing and Forbearance

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It’s been quite a week, starting with a very intense forty-eight hours of helping a stranger, who has become a friend, to move into a new home.  This whole experience put several things into perspective;  The demons of my adolescence had to be put to bed, for good, over the LAST forty-eight hours.  These were the nattering voices of “_________ is way out of your league”, “A loser like you couldn’t get out of the batter’s box with ________”, “Give it up and make do with so and so”.  I had to sit myself down last night, and say it plainly “Gary, come on.  We are talking about FRIENDSHIP here, not some wild and crazy emotional blow-out.  Besides, where are all those hotshots today?  Either they are stuck in humdrum marriages, are living just like you are, alone and searching, or they’re dead.”

The fact is I HAVE made a new friend.  Yes, she is physically beautiful, but that’s NOT the main draw for me.  This person is for real; no airs of pretense and no hidden agendas.  It’s all about the company I might keep, the time we might spend together, the enjoyment of life we might share.  I say “might”, because I still don’t want to be a nuisance.  As much as I love being with her, I have to respect her space.  So, I will wait, let her know, in little ways, that I think of her often, and hope for a call or a message.

I did not “make do”, when I entered into my first post-adolescence friendship with a woman.  It turned into a marriage, and a darned good one, though it was stormy at times, and involved a lot of growth by both of us.  Not all friendships between men and women, however fond they are of each other, become marriages.  Certainly, my long distance friendship with a person in another state, which will last forever, is decidedly not romantic and will not translate into such.  My newest friendship is just that, a friendship.  I love her, and would do anything honorable for her, any time of day or night.

So, I have to be forbearing- with my critics, with well-meaning friends and relatives of my friend, who are just trying to look out for her, with those women to whom I am not attracted, but who still want my attention, with the men who ridiculed me, back in the day, and, most importantly, with myself.

It was a very intense week, last week.  My new friend is recovering from all the stress.  I pray for her, in that regard, and for her happiness.  I am recovering from what I now see has been a long 2 1/2 years of emotional night, with false starts, blind alleys and strange interludes.  M, I  care for you and don’t care who knows it.  I just can’t say it enough, and if I don’t see you, have a nice day and a good week.

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 22, Block Island,Part 3: The Payne Steps to New Harbor

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I undertook the Payne Steps, from the overlook to the seashore, as I can’t pass up an opportunity for a cardiovascular workout, especially when faced with luscious New England seafood.  SAM_6956

 

These are examples of cairn art, a pastime I have seen elsewhere along the New England coast.  It seems to be in full flower here along Block Island’s eastern shore.

 

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Here is a piece of detritus, actually adding some ambiance to the beach.

 

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This “catapult” is of recent vintage, though several indigenous nations counciled here in the 17th Century, around the time of King Philip’s War.

 

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The gypsum and limestone cliffs that ring the island provided a measure of protection for the gathered nations.

 

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Moving inland, just a bit, one finds static, catchment-type ponds.

 

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Along the approach to the glacial moraines of Rodman’s Hollow, an invitation to take a few swings at life.

 

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Then, we get to Rodman’s Hollow.

 

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Once out of the glacial moraines, I passed the airport and New Shoreham’s Town Hall.

 

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Back in town, en route to New Harbor, i passed three more of Block island’s great hotels.  First, is the  National.

 

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Next is the Surf Hotel.

 

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Finally, here is the Harborside Inn.

 

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I came to New Harbor, a mile west of the Old, as the day was drawing to a close.

 

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There is “lethal” twist to New Shoreham’s rather formidable line of restaurants.

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Finally, as the ferry back to Point Judith pulled out, I caught the sunset.

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This island, like its Massachusetts and New York neighbours, is a place of dreams.

 

 

From Home to Home, and Back, Day 22: Block Island, Part 2: Eastern Resorts to Payne Overlook

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I spent about two hours on this stretch of the walk, and found it the most varied in scenery.  The crowds congregated around the great houses, between New Shoreham and North Point Fibers.SAM_6909

Here is the Manisses Hotel, owned by the Abrams family.

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Lightburne House is a bed and breakfast, just south of the Manisses.

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The Abrams’ also have an organic farm and exotic stock ranch.  The animals may be fed with pellets, which are purchased outside the pens.

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As it happened, only the donkey was much interested in eating.

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Tank, the Galapgos tortoise, was just glad to be out and about.

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I have always liked long-haired, shaggy-looking Scottish cattle.

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This seems to be my summer for emus.

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The dromedaries were making a racket, but kept back from feeding.

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The Birds of Paradise were not flying up anyone’s nose, in this early afternoon.

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Free-ranging alpacas are the sources of wool for North Light Fibers, whose store is adjacent to the ranch.

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1661 House is the southernmost of the Abrams Family properties.

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The Spring House is the last of the great resorts in the southeast quadrant.

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Occasional views from the road reminded me that there is good reason for these resorts to be expensive.

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I arrived at Southeast Light House around 2:30.  The house is unoccupied, but is maintained by the Block Island Historical Society.

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Like other communities, Block Island suffered a loss on September 11, 2001.

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The view from Southeast Light is, nonetheless, breathtaking.

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There were other gems awaiting:  Payne Overlook, and its Steps to the Shore, and Rodman’s Hollow.

These will be featured in Part 3.