Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XCVI: Twisters and Turns

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July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH-   My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line.  I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.)  That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area.  Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least.  Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.

I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert.  It was the right move.  No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.

We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded.  The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone.  The night, after that, was peaceful.

Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.

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By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order.  There are two fine breakfast places in town.  I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes.  The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost.  The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice.  A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.

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Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard.  There are often one or two surprises, though.  Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.

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It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.

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Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio.  The spacious campus  now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.

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So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken.  I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself.  The highway did take me to two other appealing cities:  Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XCV: A Hoosier Menagerie

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July 10, 2017, Goshen, IN-

After leaving, Notre Dame, I realized I needed some sustenance.  Finding a pizzeria, in Elkhart , closed on Monday, I went into Martin’s Supermarket, on the east end of town, and had a small snack.  Good thing, it wasn’t linner, as I was able to contact another friend, Mcbery, and arrange to meet her, hubby and grandchildren, for a tour of their substantial farm, in nearby Goshen. While en route to our meeting point, I met a harbinger of the visit to come:  A Canadian goose crossing zone!

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I went into Elkhart’s public library, and no sooner had I sat down at a computer desk, than Miriam and Lee showed up. Off we went, me trailing carefully behind, through Goshen’s narrow lanes.  The menagerie was not long in greeting us, at this estimable farm.  There are the usual animals resident on farms:  Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Then, there are chickens and Guinea pigs, enjoying one another’s company.

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The fauna now took a decidedly more exotic turn, with two types of flightless birds greeting us, with squawks.  The emus, and at least one rhea, manage also to share a large pen.  I was glad to see no cassowary in the mix- those birds are especially vicious.

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The most challenging resident, for now, is a three-month-old camel.  Lee seems to be the only person who can keep a lid on her behaviour.  She came up to me, regarded me with interest, then quickly jumped away, on her little excursion of mischief.

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Further down the path, a full-grown camel led a parade of animals towards their evening feeding.  I was glad to take part in this, and the camel seen here accepted a fistful, or two, of clover and grass, from me.

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After meeting all the animals, it was time for the grandkids to go to their home, down the path, and for the three of us to go for our dinner.  So I close, with a photo of this wonderful farm family.SAM_8505.JPG

 

Indiana has been, once again, a delight, and in three diverse ways, last night and today.

NEXT UP:  Three posts about Ohio, starting with Van Wert, and the most interesting things that happened there.

 

 

 

 

Interdependence Day

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July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

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P.C.

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June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.

Fatherhood

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June 18, 2017, Prescott-

The little girl told her father that she wanted to go over to an open area, at the memorial service for one of her school mates, so that she might do flips and somersaults.  “Go ahead”, said the man, while casting a wary eye about the grounds, “I’m watching you.”

This is among the fastest moving years I can remember.  Even staying closer to Home Base, for much of June, there has been no end to full days of activity, geared towards the betterment of the world.  That’s what we are expected to do, though- leave the world a better place than we found it.

I believe I have made a step in that direction, by raising a human being to adulthood, and pointing him in the direction that seemed most sensible to me- and most importantly, to him.  He has not disappointed me, once, since taking the vow of service to his country, and moving forward as an intelligent, hard-working young man.

My Dad saw me through some tough times, never giving up.  I miss him, yet I’m glad he didn’t have to see the difficulties through which we lived, in the first ten years of this century.  On the other hand, I will do all I can to support Aram, if trials and turbulence come again his way.

As to those hard ten years, 2001-11, commitment as a father means commitment as a husband.  I stayed true to Penny and did everything possible, to make sure she was in charge of her own life, to the end, no matter what pressures were brought on us by “experts” and well-meaning people, who just wanted to “get ‘er done”.  We honed our consultation skills, which were more something I, more than she, had to develop. It’s academic, as to whether we would have been better-served by using a debt reduction service, rather than filing for bankruptcy, but we chose the latter, and it’s all in the past, now.  Good life lessons were learned, late, and not lost on our son.

I see the vast majority of fathers, at least those with whom I have some contact, being wonderful, dedicated men.  None of us walks on water, yet we are producing fairly well-grounded young people.  Some are intensely vigilant; others, like the man mentioned above, are cautious, but relaxed enough to let their sons and daughters step out on their own, according to ability.

Fatherhood, even when children mature, and seem a million miles away, is an eternal blessing.  I look forward to many more years of that blessing and, if God wills, to its logical outgrowth:  Grandfatherhood.

 

“Not Afraid of the Rain”

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June 17, 2017, Chino Valley- 

The youth pastor, at a memorial service for a slain child, this evening, used these words, in reference to Christ facing His trials.  He chose this example, in encouraging the friends and family members of the little boy  to not be dissuaded, by the dark forces assailing us, from looking to the Higher Power for signs as to how to react to such adversity.

I have now either helped lay to rest, or to memorialize, 9 children, over the past 37 years.  Most died of disease, or were killed in accidents.  This is the first time I’ve dealt with the murder of a defenseless person, on such a personal level.  The boy was one of several, with whom I worked, while a substitute teacher, in his elementary school.  This particular school does a fine job of imparting a sense of community, and at the service, his former teachers and a recently-retired principal, each had a positive remembrance of the boy.

Earlier today, whilst driving to another service activity, I listened as the pop singer, Lorde, commented on one of her songs, her point being that she has sometimes thought her place in the lives of her loved ones might be too intense, that maybe she takes up too much space.

That resonated with me.  I limit my time with others, for the very sake of NOT taking up too much of their space and time.  Conversely, though, I don’t think anything of giving others as much of either, as they need.  I haven’t quite gotten to the origin of that dichotomy.

The memorialized child seemed to have had the same dilemma, and the youngest of the children who spoke,  remembered him as comfortable with giving, but not receiving.  I hope he has a better understanding of it all now, in the Realm of Light.

 

A SoCal Break, Day 2: Crystal Cove

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June 13, 2017, Chiriaco Summit, CA- 

Not that much has come easy to me, over the years, largely because I grew up among impatient peers and had to do things quickly, or not at all.  Fortunately, my parents were a tad more sanguine, and gave me the space to master things at my own speed.

I mention this, because camping, while dear to my heart, has certain aspects, like putting up the tent, that have taken awhile to master.  So, it’s been a wonderful affirmation that my tent has gone up, three times in a row, without a hitch.  I know now that the whole discombobulation thing was a contrivance.  Even with the wind, at San Onofre State Beach, my tent stayed up all night, as did the others.

So, the day dawned with a fine view of the ocean, and I felt a strong sense of confidence.

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Coffee, another morning staple, has always come easier.  Billy the Barrista, at Dana Point’s Crank and Grind Coffee House, put together a superb Cranked Up Americano.  As the name suggests, it’ll get any sluggish beast firing on all cylinders.

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My next impulse was to stop and smell the roses, so up to Doris Walker Overlook, I went.  There is a commanding view of Dana Point Harbor, from this quiet redoubt, and I was able to offer my morning prayers in peace.

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A sea of flowers is complemented by a sea of boats and the Pacific, itself.

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After one further stop, at Corona del Mar public Library, to check my correspondence, it was time to head to Crystal Cove State Park, for a  lunch meeting with a long-time friend.   We have a mutual interest in the fortunes of the California coast, and the cottages of Crystal Cove are among our concerns.  Her news was that the California Coastal Commission had granted Crystal Cove’s Preservation Society permission to renovate the north side’s dilapidated structures.  In real terms, this means drawing blueprints, razing the existing structures, and building replicas.  That is certainly far better than putting up more high rises and condos, which would be a travesty here.

Here are some scenes of the north side cottages.

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After a fine lunch and lengthy catch-up conversation, at the Beachcomber, we walked a bit along the south beach, in search of sea shells.  Those we found were embedded in several rocks.

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Among the rocks which line this section of coast, here are two which are aligned perfectly.

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There were many people enjoying the beach, as one would expect, on so fine a day.  A couple had found the perfect perch, atop a rock that resembled a whale’s head.

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After a couple of hours, it was time to say farewell, and I headed south to Aliso Beach, in the southern part of Laguna Beach, and collected a Ball jar of ocean water, for a grieving friend.  Aliso, too, was packed, and as I was gingerly looking for a parking space, a beach ball sailed into the parking lot in front of me, pursued by a boy of about 10 or 11, just as I hit my brakes.  No one was any worse for the wear, but it reminded me of the TV ad, where a little girl, pursuing a soccer ball, runs pell mell in front of a car- whose brakes are shown to be of superior quality.

The drive from Oceanside, through Vista, Fallbrook, Temecula and overland to Palm Desert, was uneventful, save for a couple of crazed drivers doing 80, on a winding road that safely can support people doing 60, if that.  I always manage to pull off and let them go on their intrepid way, though seldom as quickly as they seem to want.  The second one chose to pass a tractor trailer, on a curve, against a double yellow.  I’d say his luck will run out, sooner or later.

Lastly, here is a scene at Cactus City Rest Area, uphill and east of Coachella.  There are no cacti, at Cactus City, but I had a peaceful supper break.

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Back to Arizona I go, if only for a couple of weeks, before family time ensues.

 

 

Only In Indio

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June 11, 2017, Indio-

Before leaving Prescott, this afternoon, I called my very inspirational youngest living brother, on the occasion of his birthday.  He’s legally blind, yet has never failed to work, steadily, over the past thirty-five years since his college graduation.  His work has always involved a high level of responsibility, and on he goes.

A nice little brunch party followed my conversation, this one in a lovely garden patio, in Prescott Valley.  The conversation there centered on the fine line between creative thought and following one’s own path, versus the “right” to be willfully disobedient to the institutions of one’s chosen Faith.  I am no one’s idea of a Yes Man, but breaking a covenant is as far from where I want to be, as the proverbial Hell  itself.  The person who conjured thoughts of having one’s own sect, gingerly retreated and hopefully will remain so.  The party continued, a pleasant, lovely affair.

I headed out, towards southern California, around 3:30 PM, successfully avoiding whatever back to LA traffic slog might have ensued.  Dinner at a fine, best-kept-secret place, Nichols West, in the tiny old mining town of Congress, certainly helped in that avoidance.  Run by an acerbic, but somewhat cordial, New Zealander, Nichols offers a variety of burgers with unusual toppings, intense salads, exquisite Mexican fare and a surprising variety of seafood.  I chose the brie & avocado burger, with a modest helping of shoestring fries.  The burger was fabulous, grass-fed beef, crispy bacon and moist, ripe avocado wedges, held together by a generous coating of melted brie.  A lovely, very pleasant team of waitresses didn’t hurt the occasion, either.

I digress, though.  I decided to stop here, at City Center Motel, given that what lies ahead of me is I-10, CA 57 & 22 to Highway 1.  At the end of that jaunt lies Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I will make the hike from a gorgeous overlook, down to the shore.  Then, it’ll be a fair drive, with stops at Long Beach’s pier, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, before securing a spot in one of the state beach campgrounds, en route to Crystal Cove.

“Only in Indio”?  That is an ubiquitous sign, along Hwy. 111, and Business 10.  It alludes to the Coachella Music Festival, held in this area every April.  Then, this area fills to the brim with alt-rock lovers from all over.  Now, however, it’s a cool night in June.  Motel rooms cost less than $ 100 per night, and I gratefully parked my carcass in a nice one.

It happens, in Indio, that one can walk, safely, along the 111, for two miles, and not find anywhere, other than an AM/PM., to get a cup of coffee.  This is, as much as anywhere else in southern California, a city designed for the automobile, while those whose fortune, or whose choice, it is to be without wheels, manage to walk along wide and well-kept sidewalks, taking the time they need to get from A to B.  Somehow, I enjoy being among them, walking the flat surface of the Colorado Desert cityscape.

Now, it’s bedtime.  I pray for a little boy who didn’t survive a beat-down, allegedly at the hands of his stepfather.  It’ll take some time before I can pray for the stepfather, and all I can do right now is resolve to be ever better at being kind and loving to those children I, myself, encounter, every day.

These Villages of Ours

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June 10, 2017, Prescott-

In a small house, in a town eight miles from  here, a ten-year-old boy cringed,

and wondered, why the woman who had given him life was now stealing

the quality of that life.

A male animal, who had no concern for his well-being, burned and beat the boy,

at will, for what may have been days, but must have seemed like forever.

The woman finally realized she was in over her head, and called the police,

when her son was no longer breathing.

The male animal, who was taken into custody, along with the woman,

looked into the police camera,

and smirked.

Five minutes alone with him, would be all I’d need.

It’d be all that any man in my family, or in my circle of friends,

would need.

The boy is in extremely critical condition,

in a fine, state-of-the-art medical facility,

far from his place of false imprisonment.

I pray, fervently, that he recovers,

and lives a full life,

and never has to look at the male animal,

who tried to destroy his soul.

Across the street from me,

are two beautiful children,

living with their single mother,

who is young enough to be my daughter.

They come over to my driveway,

and ride their bikes down it,

one at a time,

while the other watches for traffic.

I am watching them, too,

because as long as I am here,

not a hair of their heads

is going to be harmed.

Across the globe,

several thousand children,

in a place called Raqqa,

wonder at the horrible, deafening

bombs.

and cower from the human animals,

who created the situation,

by which people in rooms,

air-conditioned rooms,

far from Raqqa,

have decided,

“THIS is  the way to deal with the enemy.”

The older of the children

know about Aleppo.

They know how it has been nearly leveled,

and they know the same

may well be the fate,

of their city.

Human monsters seem to abound, as yet,

though analysts and statisticians,

tell us,

their numbers are decreasing.

Tell that to their victims,

in every village of ours.

We, the parents and grandparents,

the aunts, uncles and older cousins,

the neighbours and teachers,

are watching.

Peacefulness Is Back

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June 7, 2017, Prescott-

Questions of longevity are always in the background, as I think about what one might do, over the next three to five years. I just finished reading a book, Apocalypse, by Dr, Jim Richards, a Christian writer and broadcaster, and will have more to say about said book, a post or two from now.  The thing I wish to mention, here, is Dr. Richards’ trust in God is a true thing of beauty, and I have to say, I share just about all of it.  That gives me something on which to work.

Several things happened today, all of them good.  I pretty much am down to two large and two small sections of brush, to be cleared, after a mild, cool morning served as my incentive to get more done than I had planned.  I got more supportive e-mails from the District, including one I had never expected, from my recent supervisor.  Goes to show, I need to work on my reading of people’s cues.  Anyway, the job situation looks set for the coming year.

Housing is something about which I am still pondering.  I am also getting advice, mostly unsolicited, about my supplemental finances.  The final decisions about both will be made towards the end of this month.

Having spoken at length with Aram, last night, I reiterate as to how proud I am of what he has achieved, and how he is facing continuing challenges.  He has another person to support him in his efforts now, and that, as many of us know, will make all the difference.

The car will get serviced on Friday, I will continue downsizing and yard work, the rest of this week- and the latter part of next,  and in between, run an errand of mercy in southern California, as well as visiting a friend, or three, there.

Rough patches tend not to last long, if one pushes forward with, as Muhammad Ali said, “eyes on the prize”.