Fair Columbia

5

June 25-26, 2019, Columbia, SC-

Fifty years ago, I found myself among thirty or so young men, some a bit more worldly than I, others as green to the ways of the world as yours truly.  We were the trainees of Echo Company, Third Battalion, First Brigade, at Fort Jackson.  There were times that I broke down in the tears of an under-challenged, immature novice to life. There were times that I tried to avoid the challenges that, deep-down, I knew I needed to overcome.  In the end, I managed to overcome my own physical challenges and the constant ridicule from the jaded First Sergeant- and earned the respect of most everyone else.  I was a better person for the time spent here.

Once here, planted for what I thought was a day, at Palmetto Inn, east of town, I got messages from faithful readers, advising as to what I might do in the town.  Among these was word of a Wednesday evening event at a coffee shop, sounding as if it were sponsored by local Baha’is. So, I took the room at Palmetto for two nights.

The day started with a passable breakfast at George’s Southside Restaurant, hearing the plaint that I am finding increasingly common, in the workplaces along the road, this summer:  “I’m alone here, hon.  Please be patient, one co-worker quit and the other overslept. ”

In planning my day here, I focused first on the South Carolina State Museum, then the area around the Capitol and, rather whimsically, thinking I might pay a visit to Fort Jackson.  This last, of course, would not be realized.  Military posts are very well-guarded, even against visits by veterans.

I had a tip from a friend who had also spent time on Fort Jackson, to visit a fine dining spot, with an unlikely name.  Before going to the museum, I followed up on this recommendation.

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Motor Supply Bistro is a gem of a place.  I sat at the bar, for lunch, as I frequently do, when dining alone.  Bars and counters are a great place to feel at home, in an eatery, as one connects with both workers and with other solo diners.  I made several new friends here, as a result and the food is delectable.   There is valet parking here, and the attendant found himself being both ignored and blocked in, by a surly delivery truck driver, when he went to retrieve my car.  I tipped him for his trouble and faced down the ruffian, myself.  I did not get ignored and my car was off the lot, in short order.  I don’t take kindly to my contemporaries treating younger people with such contempt.

The South Carolina State Museum is worthy of at least two hours’ visit.  I focused on the Museum’s take on the Civil War, which was a bit less top-heavy on defending the Confederacy, than I had thought might be the case, before visiting, and on the various industries that took root, after the War, in both the Piedmont and Low Country regions of the state.

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It is always a joy to see the work of students, in public museums.

Here is a map of South Carolina, prepared by children in a Columbia school.

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There is a fine little area that tells the story of Palmetto State paleontology.  The region had its share of dinosaurs-and of megamammals.  Here are an Albertosaurus skeleton

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and a Glyptodont, or giant armadillo.

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The rails were critical here, moving textiles and lumber, even before the Civil War.  This long car was called the Friend of Charleston.

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Textiles were able to be more efficiently produced, by machines such as this.

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The processing and de-shelling of nuts, a major cash crop, was abetted by this machine.

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Coastal hardwoods were much in demand, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century.  This device helped greatly, in hauling cut timber’

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The Catawba people, who lived in the Columbia area, prior to European settlement, produced basketry and intriguing wood carvings, as part of their cultural legacy.

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Here is a mock-up of a traditional Catawba house.

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Finally, I ended my photo-journey around Columbia, by visiting the Capitol grounds.  There are a few statues in honour of the Confederates, but my interest there was the State Capitol as a whole.

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The day ended with a lively poetry and visual media session at Cool Beans Coffee House.  The person who had invited me never showed, but I was made to feel welcome by the program’s hosts, so Columbia left me with a warm feeling.  Gamecocks are good people.

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The Most Blessed

14

June 6, 2019, Bellemont-

Thirty-seven years have passed

since we took the vows of eternal love.

Eight years,three months and three days ago,

she left this plane for a brighter world.

In  all the time we had together,

there was no day

that either a bright memory,

or a life lesson, cemented the foundation.

In the years since her passing,

I have had my share of joys and sorrows,

yet through them all,

the spirit who was known on Earth as Penny,

has found a place in her to help me stay safe.

There is none more blessed in my heart.

 

Cyclopian Vision

8

May 18, 2019-

I see four in front of me,

each bent on talking, and not listening.

You tell us that there is only one way to look at issues-yours.

You see “the others” as unholy threats to our way of life.

You call out anyone who has an alternative point of view,

and call them names,

as if we are in an overcrowded sandbox,

which you feel you own.

You told me that I was the only problem,

in a very fluid work environment.

You said that if I left,

all would be well.

While I would be okay with that,

the reality is more complex.

You cast about for answers,

yet only accept those which fit

your  line of sight.

You offer your viewpoint,

and dismiss all others,

as antiquated,

as throwbacks,

without regard

for the notion

that all life is sacred.

You say that Government

is the supreme answer

to all,

and that abusers have rights,

which supersede

the rights

of the victim.

You say unborn people

have few or no rights,

whilst your opposite number

says that is only

true, of mothers.

I see four cyclops

in the sandbox,

in front of me.

I hear babbling,

too loud for anyone

to actually hear

the solutions.

 

 

If

4

May 10, 2019-

If I lose my way,

there is always

a light that beckons.

If I am down to my last cent,

in a still far-off time,

there is a way

to rebound.

If my health,

somehow begins to fail,

there is a way to recover,

while knowing this life

is hardly the end.

If I am encircled,

again,

by those who

don’t understand me,

on account of

their own pain,

I will keep on

showing my true colours

until their pain

is relieved,

and their vision clear.

Through the ebb and flow,

of a wonderful life,

it has always

been so.

(I’m doing fine.  This verse is just a reminder to self and others.)

The Soaking

4

May 7, 2019-

May is often a dry month, here in the Southwest.

Often, but not always.

Three years ago,

snow greeted us,

on Mother’s Day.

This week,

we are promised

lots of rain.

I look outside,

and see nature’s bounty,

falling quite heavily.

It is likely to continue,

tomorrow, and maybe,

all the way to Sunday.

This bodes well for

a later, and maybe

less intense,

fire season.

It bodes well,

also,

for the insect population.

So, I will keep copious amounts

of natural repellent,

at the ready,

for those busy days

in early June.

Today, though,

I will sit quietly,

and focus on

my books.

Nature is replenishing

Mother Earth,

in time for Mother’s Day.

Look Beyond

9

April 20, 2019-

Look beyond the slight,

which a tired, downcast soul,

hurls at the unsuspecting.

Look towards the joy,

that the angels of the Sun

are holding,

in their outstretched hands.

Look past the taunts,

which the fettered ones shout,

at one who struggles.

Look outwardly,

to the breaking

of all chains,

and to the rising

of every good heart.

These verses come to mind, as I complete a long, and mostly joyful, day of service, at the beginning of Ridvan, the Eastertide and “Earth Month”.

Desiderata- Part 1

7

April 11, 2019-

Having woken this morning, in need of reassurance, I found myself looking at a copy of Desiderata, which I first present in its full text, before relating its words to my own state of being.

“GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

This past week, there has been little noise and even less haste, yet I recall being often viewed as too slow and benign, when there was commotion.  There is a lot of peace in my silence, especially when that silence pertains to inside my head, as well as in my surroundings.

I have done better, these past few years, at speaking my truth in a quiet manner-and at listening, even to the most insipid nonsense, without interrupting.  It most likely has to do with being more secure in myself.

There will always be greater and lesser persons than me, and I’ve felt this for a long time. Loud and aggressive people have never like me much, nor have I liked them.  This has always seemed to end up as my undoing, as such people are frequently favoured, at least outwardly, by many in our society.

I’ve enjoyed those achievements of mine that were genuine, and I have had more of them than my critics care to admit.  If I had it to do over, I’d have stayed a counselor, and not given in to the false ambition that brought me down.

I’ve learned to be careful in business, and with my generosity-as yes, the world is full of trickery.  This learning has been, a few times, accomplished through trial and error.  I’ve seen true heroism and practiced it myself, a few times.  The world is full of virtue.

Thus are the thoughts which come to mind, in reading the first half of Max Ehrmann’s inspired verse.  I will continue, with the second five paragraphs, in the next post.

Eight Years

11

March 5, 2019-

On that quiet morning,

your spirit filled our room.

I knew the life we shared

was about to end.

Your body,

ten miles away,

in a lonely hospice room.

was left behind,

and you traveled alone,

to the Placeless,

even as our son and I

were hastening towards

your somber abode.

With a swirl of wind,

dust and leaves,

you greeted us,

soaring upward,

in farewell.

Each of us embraced,

the still remains,

of the love of my life,

whilst comforted

in the knowledge

of suffering’s end.

 

Love Spreads Out

2

February 24, 2019-

One gets back the love

that one spreads out.

I’ve learned that,

even when I feel

out of sorts.

it’s best to give.

It’s best that

love expands.

So, a long-time friend

was freed to be

able to work and get around,

as the work week approaches.

So, a sweet young lady

is much appreciated,

for her hard work,

this evening.

So, I feel that my son

has taken the main

life lessons,

we taught him,

to heart and

to daily practice.

So, I feel that

my life,

in this last week

of an unusual month,

is on a most blessed,

fruitful path-

and that this

is nothing new.

 

In Abeyance

2

February 20, 2019-

Much was planned, for tomorrow.

Much is now in abeyance.

People were going to be trained, professionally,

yet our skills are not in abeyance.

School is cancelled, tomorrow.

Learning may, or may not,

be in abeyance.

I may, or may not, facilitate

a spiritual study circle.

Spirit is never in abeyance.

Snow might, or might not fall.

Weather keeps us guessing,

but it is never in abeyance,

everywhere.