The Ephemeral Gains


May 31, 2021- Someone, writing about Memorial Day, recounted the most significant things about his time in the Armed Forces, especially with regard to Iraq. His love of the pomp and circumstance, esprit de corps and the camaraderie that he found in each of his units was reflected throughout the essay. One statement he posits, however, is particularly curious- “It’s the unbreakable bond that only war can provide.”

War certainly does form unbreakable bonds. It can also form unbreakable barriers. It is also not the only means to build such bonds. Any number of shared struggles can do the same, and not all are calamitous in nature. Any gains made by a fight to the death are, in fact, ephemeral.

Some will argue that the current territorial condition of the United States was made possible primarily by warfare. That, in its initial increments, is largely true. However, the initial victors have had to either fight a series of subsequent conflicts, either as declared wars or as acts of political chicanery. This has been true of every conflict faced by the United States, with the possible exception of World War II-and even it did not address the totalitarian threat posed by Communism-or the lingering residue of state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism.

Building societies and social bridges can certainly construct unbreakable bonds along with them. It just takes a whole lot more enlightenment than we’ve seen in the past.

Much Ado….


May 30, 2021- Have you spent much time in your life, building a small matter up, until it becomes overwhelming? It often occurred, that the matters, which so affrighted me before they were resolved, quickly became lost in the fog of the mind’s archival footage, once a day or two had passed.

These are matters most often related to finance, or to interpersonal relationships. Panic attacks and anxiety (which are serious medical matters, deserving of professional attention) aside, it generally happens that careful thought and emotional grounding can help to put things in their true perspective. Past unpleasant experiences can cloud one’s judgment, so it is important to recognize that each situation is different, that learnings from the previous bad experience can be put to use for a better outcome, this time and that the person, him/herself, is different now than before.

There are situations, of course, which are dire and which deserve all the “ado” they can be given: The illness or disability of a loved one, especially of one’s child, spouse or parent; a natural disaster which threatens or damages one’s home; a sociopolitical riot or rampage in one’s home area. That, in turn, is why we humans are social beings-that we may call on one another and anticipate support in a truly dire emergency.

I have had such emergencies in my life, and am fortunate that my family and close friends have been responsive and helpful, in a nonjudgmental manner. I would do the same for them.



May 29, 2021- There have been many times in my life, when I felt the ground was caving in beneath my feet. Somehow, I have always managed to recover. Sometimes, it has been because of help from family or friends. Other times, it has been because of my own stubbornness and refusal to accept the status quo, or settle for just any set of circumstances.

Now is a time when I have achieved stability, with no clouds on the horizon. The caveats are that I must be willing to share, to a reasonable and markedly-limited degree, and to do so in a way that will not make me a ward of someone else.

I credit both my upbringing and the Baha’i Faith for this basic sense of stability, having absorbed some lessons right away, and others over a period of time. My yardstick for the strength of stability is mainly the avoidance of capricious and ill-considered decisions. I am much better, in that regard, than even seven years ago. It took bouncing back from losing Penny and recognizing that I have far more worth than any naysayers have led me to believe, at certain periods of this life.

This same message is what I impart to anyone who approaches with a tale of woe. In the long run, stability only comes from doing what one’s inner essence advises- and never kowtowing to someone else’s dictates, no matter how loud and forceful their voice.

Living Dreams


May 28, 2021- In the midst of settling back in, for four weeks or so, I took the time to work on resolving the one nagging issue that has pursued me, for three years and, most recently, across the country and back: Doing something about African poverty. To his credit, my constant correspondent has become much more forthcoming about how he specifically plans to use any funds that are raised in his name. That made it much easier for me to set up a secure transfer process, for the funds which others and I raise, from now until June 21. There are two things to consider, both matters of justice: 1. Neither I, nor anyone else, am/is obligated to send money, in perpetuity, to anyone who requests it (Calling me “Dad”, or “brother”, does not help matters any, either); 2. At the same time, neither I, nor anyone else, can simply ignore the less fortunate. I have mentioned before, that I give, locally and further afield, to a reasonable extent, so that others may realize their goals-or at least survive. This current, limited and task-specific effort is an example of that. Each person is free to pursue a dream. No one is free to bleed another person dry.

My own dreams are quite simple. Most involve building and maintaining friendships, and being there for people, emotionally and physically. So, I am present, when here at Home Base, and when on the road. This summer will be another one of “those”, which make more sedentary people roll their eyes. The fourth week of June, in Carson City/Reno and Pyramid Lake; July 5, onward, to the Dallas area, New England and several points in between, then across the northern tier to Oregon and Washington, before September beckons, and I take another Home Base respite. October, in western Poland and Germany(Mom’s ancestral region), and a zip down to Croatia to visit an online friend, is still possible. Yes, I get my fill of visiting historical and natural wonders, but I do that here, too.

Dreams are affected by the wider reality, and a relatively minor medical issue may alter my plans a bit, but in the end, the dream and the goal are the bases for what one achieves in life.

A Few Learnings


May 27,2021- The squeaky toilet kept waking me, and in my semi-conscious state, I thought it was the room next door, which was being renovated, that was the problem. I got up, for the day, and found that it was my room, at Days Inn- Grants, that had the issue. Having had plenty of experience with such things, I fixed the toilet myself, and so informed the desk clerk, upon check-out. It was a simple matter of re-attaching the chain to the release lever.

I have now returned from the journey to help Mom move out of the family home and become settled in a more social place. She has all her wits about her yet, so I have every confidence that this will be a bright chapter in her life.

For myself, I know that the journeys that await me, this summer and autumn, will be more leisurely, without the sense of urgency that I felt this time, especially heading east. There were deadlines and commitments involved. Thankfully, the COVID protocols, to the extent they still exist, are very cut and dried. Masks are worn, when the community or the enterprise requests it, The same is true, with respect to physical distancing. Dealing with the pent-up aggression of drivers is more a matter of not using the passing lane, except to pass. If I find I am being tailgated, no matter the lane, there is always the next lane over to the right-or if that is where the aggression is happening, I can bide my time and let the impatient one go around.

The nice thing, this time around, is I heard a lot of “Come back and see us!” This is always gratifying, especially to one who has encountered the opposite, in times long past. Then again, I have cast off a lot of baggage, over the years.

I was asked, by a loved one, what new things I had seen and what I had learned, on this trip. I saw the Missouri State Capitol, and Harry S, Truman’s birthplace. I was reminded that people around major cities can be extremely impatient, if they are overbooked, overloaded and uncomfortable being in a given place. I found that would-be thieves are discouraged from breaking into my car, when they see the blue security light-which makes my double security system that much more gratifying.

Finally, I was reminded that, even when someone is making the most obvious of errors in reading or speech, to not interrupt them, to let them finish. After all, the world is not going to cave in from that error.

Home Base Bound: Day 5


May 26, 2021, Grants- Sleeping on a leather couch was a lot more restful than I remembered from last time. The house has a far more relaxed vibe, as well, so that had a great deal to do with the ambiance, as well. This morning, John and I headed over to a branch of da Vinci Coffee House, on the northwest side of Enid, and joined three of his local friends, in solving the issues that confront us, as well as reminiscing about the music of the 60s-80s.

The suggestion was made, that I visit Capulin Mountain, in northeastern New Mexico, as it was not too far off my route. Taking a forty-minute lunch stop at Mazio’s, in the Oklahoma Panhandle town of Guymon, I found myself getting to Clayton, NM-the gateway to Capulin, a bit too late for any meaningful visit to the extinct volcano.

Thus, after spending about ten minutes looking around Clayton, I headed towards I-25, at Springer, then down past Las Vegas (NM), Santa Fe and through Albuquerque to I-40, and Grants, an old uranium-mining town, in western New Mexico, set on the edge of a huge lava bed. Grants has been enjoying a rebirth of sorts, as a tourism hub- promoting exploration of the lava beds and its own nearby extinct volcanos.

There is much to explore yet, in northern New Mexico, so if Europe remains closed in October, it may be that my time will be spent in the area from Chaco Canyon to Capulin Mountain. At some point, my focus will be in this truly enchanting spot. For tonight, though, I am at rest in Grants’ Days Inn.

Home Base Bound: Day 4


May 25, 2021, Enid, OK- I woke up to rain, this morning, in Wheatland, MO. After a delightful breakfast, at Hickamo Cafe, it was time to load up and head west and south. In keeping with my practice of not bothering working family and friends during the week, I stayed north of Joplin, and made a brief stop in Lamar, MO-the birthplace of Harry S, Truman, 33rd President of the United States.

Marker in Lamar, MO
Biographic of former President
First home of Harry S. Truman

Lamar is a fairly active, but unassuming, city, near Missouri’s southwest border with Kansas. The journey continued, across southern Kansas, an area that largely belies the state’s reputation for being flat and featureless. There are a number of forested areas, rolling hills and scenic ravines, in the area from Baxter Springs to Arkansas City-largely the watershed of the Arkansas River and its tributaries. I have presented some of these before, in a post on Sedan, KS.

Today, though, the intention was to get to Enid, and try to connect with old friend, John Glaze. Making my way to Enid’s da Vinci Coffee House, I was able to do just that. John’s house is most often open, so here I am, for a welcome break from motels and the road.

Home Base Bound: Day 3


May 24, 2021, Wheatland, MO- It’s been a sweltering few days, in the east central region, and across the nub of west central Indiana, central Illinois and a north central to southwest diagonal in Missouri, I alternately used AC and outside air, to keep the good times rolling.

Today was a first for me: Salad for breakfast; being the remnants of last night’s chicken salad from Fricker’s. Of course, Niemerg’s was also on the itinerary, so brunch in Effingham, it was. After that, I chose a northward route around St. Louis, bypassing the worst of the construction snags. Just east of Columbia, the southward route to Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, beckoned.

A few miles north of “Jeff” is Fulton, a mid-nineteenth century river port, with a red brick downtown. Naturally, I stopped for a quick look.

Downtown Fulton, MO
Downtown Fulton, MO

Arriving in Jefferson City, I headed directly over to the State Capitol, where two quarters gets one fifty minutes of parking. The capitol building is understated, in terms of etchings, inscriptions and statuary. It does please the eyes with its relative simplicity, though, and since Jefferson City is a modest regional commercial hub, the fit is snug.

Western view of the Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City
Fountain on west side of Missouri State Capitol
Eastern view of Missouri State Capitol

l walked around the capitol grounds for several more minutes, stopping to say a silent prayer. This drew the curiosity of a plain clothed security guard, who watched me for about two minutes, then moved on.

Reflecting Pool, on east side of the State Capitol
Missouri River, at Jefferson City
Row of War Memorials, from the Mexican War to Persian Gulf War

Wanting to make further progress, I headed out of Jefferson City, past Lake of the Ozarks and on to a series of small towns, along the way to Kansas. I found a comfortable room at Wheatland Motel, albeit one that had no Internet or phone connection, owing to an earlier power outage. A local high school student helped me get a cell phone connection, but WiFi via laptop would have to wait. Still and all, Wheatland Motel and the nearby Hickamo Cafe offered a comforting, downhome welcome.

Home Base Bound: Day 2


May 22, 2021, Terre Haute- Any day that begins with a simple, but fortified, breakfast at Route 220 (formerly Bedford) Diner, in Bedford, PA and ends with tossed crispy chicken salad from Fricker’s, Richmond, IN, is a good one. I go as much by the ambiance of an eatery as with the quality of the food and the congeniality of the staff is always a huge factor. Both the above-mentioned establishments are high on my list, along with nearly two dozen others, in this country and abroad.

The thing that stood out for me today was the tenor of the traffic. It was slow only in one spot, east to west: The area in and around Wheeling. That is largely do to the seemingly endless construction projects along I-70, which have been part of the scene for at least four years now. West to east, I was awestruck by the length of a tie-up from about 5 miles west of Richmond, IN-to the Ohio state line. As we sailed along, in the other direction, there was scant movement across the highway.

The other common thread was capricious speed and lane-changing. I-70, at times, resembled the Indianapolis Speedway, or should I say Phoenix International Raceway. Several of us were excoriated for staying a safe distance behind the vehicles in font of us, with the horn-blasters and fist-pumpers upset that they could not squeeze behind us, on whim. The prize went to one, from an undetermined state, doing 100 in the outside lane-and few saw him coming, until his squealing horn made us abandon our own plans to pass others, in a safe manner. Last time I saw, he was still doing 100, in the slow lane-which is the passing lane of choice for too many these days.

I spent the last leg of this day’s drive on U.S. 40, from Plainview to Terre Haute, finally locating a motel which was actually open for business: The Woodridge. It’s a relaxed, homey place, which again is what appeals to me about overnight accommodations.

The life of this sometime wanderer is a series of blessings.

Home Base Bound: Day 1


May 22, 2021, Bedford, PA- It is most often a good idea to end a visit to one’s hometown with a call on an old friend, or two. So, I spent my last hour in Saugus with a couple who live diagonally across the street from our old house, and down a couple of houses. It’s always good to catch up with local news and discuss what would be best for the town.

With the future of Saugus set, for now, I headed to nearby Wakefield’s Gingerbread House and got a coffee and breakfast, for the road. This was enjoyed at a Massachusetts Turnpike Service Area, giving me an extra boost, in the event that the Connecticut and New York portions of the trip became traffic-jammed and tedious. There were a few short backlogs in Connecticut, passing through Hartford, Waterbury and the junction of I-84 and Rte. 7, west of Danbury. This is de rigeur for the Constitution State (Connecticut’s ratification was what put the Great Document over the top, and put our country on the map, for real.). New York’s segment of I-84, sometimes a scene of long back-ups, was smooth as silk today.

The drive through Pennsylvania is frequently the longest stretch, east of the Mississippi. I zipped down I-81, and headed over to the Oley Valley, visiting with Beth and David Glick, their faithful collie, Manny, and their interesting house guests, Beth’s relatives from Illinois. The couple have four vibrant and talented children, the eldest of whom can pilot a small airplane. We discussed the relatively small number of women pilots, which, considering that Amelia Earhart was one of the pioneers of American aviation, seems a bit disconcerting. I think the young lady will do a lot to counter that, given her self-confidence, and her parents’ support.

As I have a late night Zoom call, I left the Glicks’ house, after a sumptuous dinner, and made my way to this community, in west central Pennsylvania. One of Bedford’s draws, for me, has been Bedford Diner. I found the omelets and freshly-ground sausage patties there to be worth making this my overnight stop, when heading towards New England. The old diner appears to have closed, but the crew is now at Route 220 Diner, so that will be my breakfast stop, tomorrow. It’s gratifying that people for whom I have developed warm feelings are able to bounce back from hard turns, and continue with what they do so well.

Goodnight, all, from Janey Lynn Motel, in Bedford.