Back to The (Changeable) Future

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August 19, 2018, Prescott-

“You’ve lost your shimmer!”- So I was told, this morning.

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Before sitting down for the last four posts of “The 2018 Road”, let me indulge with some reflections on yesterday.  August 18 has been an auspicious day, since 1984, when my then best friend passed on, suddenly, in the midst of getting his truck unstuck-of all things.

I joined a newly welcomed friend, on a hike around Lynx Lake.  We walked at a leisurely pace, from the north trailhead to the south side of the lake.  As it was rather sunny when we got to the small south side beach, I suggested that we continue, counterclockwise, along the more rocky eastern shore.

In all my circumference hikes along the lake, the last being in 2016, the trail has been dry as a bone.  It was not so, today, with three water crossings along the east side-hardly surprising in a monsoon that has been second to none, as Lynx Creek and Salida Creek flow into the lake, from the east and the dam’s spillway has a few inches of water flowing.

So, we each had a new experience, she with the lake itself and I with the different dynamics of the trail, in wet conditions. Then, there was a spot where the trail was washed out and I had to follow a bushwhacked area, much to the chagrin of the five people who were “depending on (my) knowledge of the trail.”  All made it back to the north side safely, though.

In the course of this hike, a long conversation ensued, about who I was and where I was headed in life, as well as the same, to a lesser extent, with respect to my hiking partner.  Most of this is confidential, but I will share a couple of insights she had about me, which explains the remark at the head of this post.

The things I can share are: 1.  I would do well to get out more, socially.  2.  I need to be open to possible sudden, drastic, very specific life changes.  These remarks, she said just by looking at me.  The second has occurred to me recently, given the precarious state of my MIL’s health, and despite her (MIL’s) occasional insistence that she will make it to the age of 100, (she is 92), and to my son and his fiance talking of marriage, within the next ten months (No further specifics yet, so please don’t ask).  As for the former, I am getting out more, socially.   Intuition is a marvelous thing, though, as I’ve found out, some of it puts one at risk of, “Well, duh!”, in response.  No one really likes to be  second-guessed.

 

Burned, but Not Broken

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August 4, 2018, Prescott-

As I stood, gazing at the sunset, this evening, admiring just how beautiful this city is, I think of different people here, and also realized:

You the disaffected one, silently snarl,

and greet me sullenly,

no longer by name,

just a perfunctory “Hello“.

You’d like me gone,

because I’m not who you want me to be,

WHAT you want me to be.

I’m still here,

as it’s the Universe,

not human beings,

deciding what I am going to do,

and where.

You, the gym managers, greet me by name,

because you see my heart,

and your only agenda

is to love and serve.

You, the busy entrepreneur, make time for me,

when it fits your schedule.

That’s okay, as

I was brought up

to honour people’s privacy.

You, the children and youth, smile

when I walk in your space,

or into the classroom,

because we share

a tenderness of heart.

You, my co-workers,

know of my undivided loyalty,

and support,

because we share a love

for the youth we serve,

and all else is secondary.

I have no real enemies,

just people who read me  wrong.

I suffer no lasting injury,

just the temporary wounds

which those in dire pain

want so badly to share.

As I looked at the sunset,

I realized the wounds are healing.

The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

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This article is based on reports and videos sent by PMOI/MEK activists inside Iran Iran, July 31, 2018 – Tuesday has been the scene of numerous protests and demonstrations in cities across Iran. Strike, Protest in Isfahan: Beginning this morning, Tuesday, July 31, truck drivers and owners as well as large group of people and youth in […]

via The wave of nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings in the cities of Iran — Freedom Star

The 2018 Road, Day 25, Part 2: Williamsburg at Twilight

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June 19, 2018, Williamsburg-

In 2007, the three of us took in downtown Williamsburg, just as the sun was setting.  Whilst there was no opportunity to take in the interiors of various historic buildings, the ambiance of Williamsburg at twilight is nothing short of divine.

That being one of my sweetest memories of the 2007 journey, I checked into a reasonable motel here:  Bassett Motel, east of downtown.  After a hearty pasta dinner, I headed to the twilight of 2018 Williamsburg.  Here are several scenes of downtown, and of the College of William and Mary.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDespite the light rain, many families were out and about, this evening.  Like them, I am captivated by historic buildings in amber glow.

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The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693.

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This is a statue of Norborn E. Berkeley, who was Governor of Virginia at the time the College was chartered.  Below, the College campus shared the enchanting ambiance of downtown.

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This magic again captured in a bottle, my thoughts turned towards Yorktown, which also escaped our attention, eleven years ago.

 

 

Janus in July

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July 30, 2018, Prescott-

I will return to the chronicles of my summer road trip, in a few hours. First, though, I want to note this month’s activities, closer to Home Base.  The three weeks following Independence Day were mostly relaxing, yet had their share of joyful activity.  We celebrated the birthday of  a generous and humble friend, in what was supposed to be a surprise.  Our efforts came as no surprise to her, but she was nonetheless delighted.

I learned that my left knee does not take kindly to being idle for long stretches on the road, at least while my carcass is undergoing chiropractic adjustment, between now and March.  There is some connection between the two, so with Fall coming, I will need to get in at least one vigourous walk per day.  That will give my knees the workout they seem to crave.  Planet Fitness and Deep Blue ointment are also helping.

I have, at long last, taken the time to pay a few visits to Firehouse Coffee and Black Dog Coffee Shop, virtually completing “discovery” of our town’s java joints.  Both are fine purveyors of brew, but Firehouse wins the cinnamon roll contest.  Black Dog focuses on scones.  The Saturday after I got back was my son’s 30th birthday.  After wishing him a great day, long-distance, I went to Game Night at Wild Iris-enjoying Uno and a dice game, with the regulars at this event.

This past weekend, though, was a special cap on this bountiful summer.  I did three days’ Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) service at Bellemont Baha’i School, west of Flagstaff.  All three days featured “gully washers”. Saturday had the added excitement of a heavy hail shower.

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Even with a borrowed tent, and large tarpaulin, there was much to be done later, as I had to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to siphon the small pond that had threatened to ensure no sleep that night.  As it was, I had a dry tent, by nightfall, and slept very well.

The service in question was on behalf of over 50 middle school-age children, from the Phoenix area. Many of them had not been out of the metro area, so being in the woods was a fabulous experience,  to say the least.

The camp was open for a half day, today, but I came back to Prescott, last night.  Three days of preparation and “welcome back” gatherings at Prescott High School will get another year of concerted effort at learning underway.  So, it’s ten months of joyfully getting up at 4:30, knowing that we will provide at least some stability and learning opportunities for eight young people who, rather like me at their age, cannot count on their own bodies to remain calm and focused, without assistance.

2018-19 will be a monumental academic year.

The 2018 Road, Day 24:Baltimore, Part 2- Proof Through The Night, and the Years

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June 18, 2018, Baltimore-

Fort McHenry, in Baltimore’s outer Harbor, was one of the places, on our 2007 Virtual Field Trip organizing itinerary, that had to be left off, owing to changes that had to be made in our schedule and due to the rickety old wheelchair needing repair-which was done in New Jersey.

I had a day with which to play here, so even with the aborted visit to Poe House, I stuck with the plan to spend 2-3 hours at Fort McHenry and have lunch at an Inner Harbor eatery.

The Fort is off by itself, at the mouth of the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River.

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My first forty five minutes were spent listening to a docent explain, in detail, the life and contradictions of Francis Scott Key, a slaveowner who taught his charges to read and write;  an opponent of the War of 1812, who was nonetheless moved to commemorate the Battle of Baltimore in the verses which became our National Anthem;  a patriot, who ended up sitting out the battle, on a British sloop, after successfully negotiating the release of an American physician from British military custody.

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In the background, during the lecture, were playing diverse versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, including Jim Hendrix’s 1969 rendition, from the Woodstock Festival.

The docent then took us outside, for further stories of the fort and its various functions, while we headed to the main ramparts.

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After the British successfully sacked and burned Washington, DC and raided Alexandria,  in 1814, they headed towards Baltimore.   Meeting them were these cannons of Fort McHenry and a combined artillery battery at Forts Babcock, Covington and Look-Out, across outer Harbor.  The combined fusillade, witnessed by Key, aboard the sloop, both convinced the British to abandon hope of capturing the “crown jewel” of wealthy, bustling Baltimore and Key to write his stirring verse. It is often overlooked, though, that the song became our National Anthem in 1931.

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Below, we see the breastworks, in which ammunition was stored, whilst providing cover for the American forces.

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A lone cannon is seen, facing the Patapsco, atop the eastern earthworks.

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Here is the  entry to an ammunition depot, showing clearly how vital it was for the earthworks to be properly constructed.

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A series of barracks housed American soldiers and Marines, during the War of 1812.  These same buildings housed Confederate prisoners of war, between 1862-65.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This dining room and office was used by Major General Samuel Smith, the post commander.

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Here is a view of ammunition, stored  in an above-ground safe room.

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This artillery park was well-guarded by four breastworks.

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The Army Band was an essential morale-booster for troops preparing for battle. The Band’s quarters were on the west end of the barracks.

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These shelters were built to safeguard the troops, following the shelling of 1814, but were never needed again, after the British were repulsed.

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In this stretch of the Patapsco, Sailing Master Beverly Diggs, USN, had several merchant ships scuttled and sunk, to deter any British ships from closely approaching the Inner Harbor.  The action had its desired effect.

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The southwestern corner of the park features this large ammunition magazine, not open to the public.

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In 1922, Charles Niehaus, sculptor, completed a statue of Orpheus, the Greek musician of legend, in honour of Francis Scott Key.  It stands, between the Magazine and the Visitors Center.

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Thus is the story of one of America’s unfortunate, but perhaps necessary, conflicts very well told, at one of its two most resonant battle sites.

I ended my Baltimore experience, this time, at Iron Rooster, near outer Harbor, in the Canton neighbourhood.

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Of course, Inner Harbor and Federal Hill are for another time.  Baltimore ever beckons, and the hostel is always a welcoming haven.

NEXT:  Southwest Maryland and Jamestown

 

 

Just Because…

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July 23, 2108, Prescott-

Of course, my accounts of my travels will continue, later today.  My mind was roiling, earlier this morning, with a feeling that someone was silently accusing me of prejudice, for not settling into another relationship, for not ending my widowhood.  Penny appeared to me afterward, in my mind’s eye, and told me:

“You love, intensely.

Just because you have no romantic feelings for anyone in your present Baha’i community does not make you callous, unfeeling, prejudiced.

You are there for each person, helping each as needed.

That does not require you to fit into a niche.

You love, intensely

Just because you have a strong friendship with a woman who is of entirely different mindset, in terms of Faith, does not mean you are disloyal to Baha’u’llah.

Conversely, as I’ve told you before, you and she are steadfast friends, no more, no less. You would gladly see her find someone who will cherish her, forever.

You love, intensely.

You see your younger co-workers as if they were your own daughters.  Their struggles are your own and you help them where they need help, taking nothing from their dignity.

You love, intensely.

Each day, whether on the road or at what you call Home Base, the needs, large and small, of women, men and children who cross your path have as much urgency as your own.

Just because some are, occasionally, put off by what they see as your shortcomings or errors, does not mean you are unworthy of respect.  They have their own burdens.

Carry on, my love.  As time continues, your true destiny will keep on unfolding.  You have miles to go.”

With that, my angst subsided.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 3- Washington Slept Here

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June 14, 2018, Valley Forge-

The area on the west side of Valley Forge National Historical Park lies between the village of Valley Forge and the Schuylkill River, with General Washington’s Headquarters and its support buildings dominating the area, during the period of regrouping.

This residence was used by the Quartermaster for the Continental Army at Valley Forge, General Nathaniel Greene.

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About a half-mile east, Washington’s main encampment was established, after he moved the Marquee away from the Artillery Park. His personal guardsmen were housed in these cabins, with a spring house immediately below.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The building below was a bakery for the Continental Army.

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Here is the house that served as General Washington’s Headquarters. The downstairs was office space and a kitchen. All officers, including George Washington, slept on the second floor.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington’s office.

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Washington slept here.

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I grabbed a late lunch and gassed up in Valley Forge Village, with Freedom Deli and Catering being right next to a Sunoco station.  I took a brief look at Freedom’s Foundation’s grounds, which I remember from Frankie Laine’s pitch on the radio, in the late 1950’s.  Funny, what sticks in your head. I didn’t get photos, as the place was closed and I would like to do it justice, on another visit.  Valley Forge left me with a deeper appreciation for the truth of all those stories of hardship and endurance, we heard in my school days.

Back to Oley, I’m headed, and thankfully there is no rain in the forecast.

NEXT:  Brotherly Love and The Wedding of the Year

“Ibiza is Nice, This Time of Year”

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July 6, 2018- 

(Part 5 , the Conclusion, of the Antonio Ribeiro saga)

He was dehydrated and delusional, when the baggage handlers took the heavy duffel bag off the plane, at El Prat.  The Catalonians, as Tony had suspected, were no dummies and the surveillance captain wasted no time, in opening the bag.

Sensing his quarry was an American, Joan Caro addressed him in English:  “I have heard of many scams by people wanting to visit our fair city, sir, but you have managed a first.  Consider yourself a guest of the Spanish government.  Your prison ward bed awaits.”

Groggy, Antonio Ribeiro answered with a moan.  “Don’t worry, senor”, the Captain replied, matter-of-factly, “the hospital treats prisoners of the King with great dignity”.

Arturo, back in Montreal, had anticipated just this scenario.  He had contacted his inside man, in the Guardia Civil, several hours before.  Giving the airport surveillance crew a fig leaf, Inigo Batista presented himself as a hospital security guard, the moment the ambulance arrived, with a hapless, dehydrated Antonio Ribeiro, handcuffed to a gurney.

“Gracias, gentes. Lo tomaré desde aquí “, the bogus guard intoned.  Inigo then took it from there.  He called his driver, Rigo, and within minutes, Tony found himself in the back seat of a Peugeot, sipping lightly flavoured water.
“First, we get you some nice Catalonian clothes, bud. Then, you get a good day’s rest.”, Inigo fairly chirped.

“You mean, I don’t gotta go to no hospital?”, Tony rasped.

“No, you don’t go to a hospital, man.  You go to L’Hospitalet.”

“What’s a l’hospitalet?”

“Not what.  Where!  L’Hospitalet is a big city, safe, like a rabbit warren.  We are going to my brother’s house,  There, you will rest for five days, while I get further instructions from our friend, Toro.”

“Dios, mio!  You baggage handlers have quite a system!”, Tony gapsed.   Inigo merely chuckled, content with his real identity remaining a secret.

Miguel Batista proved a generous host, and by day 3, Antonio Ribeiro was feeling that this L’Hospitalet would make a fabulous new home.  He had never tasted wines so delectable, and Catalonian cuisine would make him fat as a casa, in no time.

Day 5 arrived, though, and with it came five days’ worth of clothing, a nice big suitcase and a Spanish passport.  His new name,  Atilano Rubirosa, was printed in bold lettering, on the inside cover.  It was good for ten years.   His Catalonian driver’s license was also good for a decade.  “Say the name, ten times, Senor Rubirosa! It is important to get this right”, Inigo said, emphatically.  Tony concurred, and let his alias roll off his tongue, ten times.  “Perfecto!  Welcome home, or should I say, welcome aboard!”, Miguel effused, as the group walked up a ramp to the upper deck of the Batista brothers’ yacht.

“Where to, now?, a bemused Tony queried.

“Why, we are headed to the Balearics, el meu amic! Ibiza is nice, this time of year.”

“From what I heard, Ibiza is nice, any time of year- all them hot Scandinavian girls.”

“Relax, amic.  The girls come from many countries, including Sweden.  You will, as it happens, meet many of them- in your capacity as a security guard at Neptuno.”

“Today, I begin ten years in paraiso!’, Tony rejoiced.

“With an option to renew”, Inigo responded.

Just then, the policeman’s phone rang.
“Hey, where is that prisoner? I entrusted him to your watch!!”, a furious Joan Caro sputtered.

“He was uncooperative.  I’m afraid we had to resort to drastic measures, Senor Capitan.  Please consider the case closed“, Officer Inigo Caro hissed at his counterpart from El Prat.

Senor and Senora Atilano Rubirosa have three children now.  Two of them are blonde, like their Danish-born mother.

The 2018 Road, Day 16: Unlocking Myself

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

The thieves gave me more than they took, actually.  An extra day to enjoy the comfort of Auberge Bishop’s community and to spend twilight in downtown Montreal were unexpected delights.

Here are some scenes of Montreal’s old and new, around the Cathedral of Mary,  Queen of the World and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.  Statues honour Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as a row of figures atop the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  Below is a scene of the cathedral’s cupola, with CIBC Tower to its right.

 

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The great tower also watches this gate to the cathedral’s grounds.

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The Cathedral’s own watchmen are also quite vigilant.

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Here is a memorial to the city’s fallen, in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

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In addition to the excitement of Formula 1 Grand Prix, there is a dazzling amount of construction here.

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This abstract piece graces the Garden of the Cathedral of St. George, an Anglican house of worship.

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This statue honours Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister during the Fin de Siecle, the turn of the Twentieth Century. Sir Wilfrid promoted both the expansion of Canadian territory and a retreat from Federalism.  He espoused increasing harmony between English and French Canadians.

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The “Mounties” are honoured here.

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This likeness of Robert Burns celebrates Canada’s debt to Scotland, as regards its settlement.

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With the dark looming, I headed back to the hostel.  There, as an offbeat round of Bingo was beginning, I took a seat at one of the “audience” tables. The “winners” of a call had to perform a silly act. One young man came up and meowed at me. A few calls later, a pert young woman was to ask an audience member to dance.  So, I accepted her motion and let myself move to the beat.   At that moment, I realized why this extra night in one of my favourite cities happened. Business as usual, with no break-in, would have had me on the road, charging full speed ahead, to New England,  It was essential, in fact, for me to slow down and get off the treadmill. So many “daughters” have appeared these past few days, from Toronto to here, offering messages of support and encouragement, in big ways (the policewoman) and small (this pleasant dancer).  I went to bed, two hours later, feeling safe among the young.

NEXT:  A fine repair and Grandma’s roots.