Canalside Ruminations

6

November 11, 2019, Venice, CA-

As I set out to walk alongside the canals of this down-to-earth beach community, I noted that its namesake, in Italy, is at serious risk of sinking into its swampland underpinnings.  California’s Venice has its own concerns:  Earthquakes and a large homeless population being two very different such points of focus.   This is a part of Los Angeles where it is not unusual for people to set up impromptu “shops” along South Venice Boulevard, across from the north entrance to the Canal Walking Path.  There are many who sleep where they can, around the village.

The canals themselves are lined by eclectic houses, which seem to have many students and artists, in residence.  The quirkiness of the district is as much of a draw as the serenity that radiates from an early morning, canalside.

I chose to walk mainly along Grand Canal, which is the western boundary of the District.  My route took in the bridges of Carroll, Linnie, Howland and Sherman Canals, at their juncture with Dell Street.

Here is a long view of Grand Canal.

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I turned left at Carroll Canal, looking to cross the bridge in the foreground.

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From the Dell Street Bridge, here is a view towards the Eastern Canal.

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A couple of Little Egrets were on hand.  Here is one, grooming herself, along the Grand Canal.

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There is plenty of kitsch here, as well, including a Pink Flamingo paddle boat.

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Linnie Canal is the next feeder to Grand Canal, going north to south.

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As is seen in a previous paragraph, Halloween has a lingering presence, in the Canal District.

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Howland Canal came next, on my southward jaunt.

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These peace-infusing homes are at the junction of Grand Canal and Howland.

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This Gingko Tree nearly overwhelms the towpath.

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An upside-down dinghy strikes a pensive mood.

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Various messages appear, along Grand Canal, between Howland and Sherman.

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Canalside gardens also tend to be polychromatic.

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Here is a view of Grand Canal, as it bends towards Sherman.

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As I crossed Sherman Canal Bridge, and was walking northward again, I caught this Little Egret on its way to “safer” perches.

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This mural, outside the Canal District, depicts some whimsical creatures out of Dr. Seuss’s lesser known tales.

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With a peaceful counterpoint to the noise and energy of Venice Beach, I felt ready to take a look at Santa Monica’s vibrant Third Street Promenade.

 

Blamecasting

6

November 10, 2019-

In examining Jordan Peterson’s remarks on what he sees as the Eighth Rule for Life, essentially “avoid vengeance”, it occurs to me that the basic issue stems from being other-focused, with regard to the  quality of one’s life.

This is a recipe for disempowerment, in the sense that  giving people, even those we love most, responsibility for what is good and bad in our lives.  Christ used the construct He called “Satan”, or “the devil”, to illuminate the lower nature which leads people to act in ways that are of a disservice to self and others.  People have taken that construct and used it as a scapegoat, as an actual being outside themselves, on whom to blame when they make bad choices.  God, Himself, also gets blamed, when there is misfortune in the lives of many people.

The choice, that those who give others control over their affairs often make, following a misfortune that is laid at the feet of another, is taking revenge.  This, of course, prolongs and most often deepens the agony.  I can think of no problem that I ever faced, which was solved by blamecasting or looking outside myself for resolution.  Indeed, when Jesus was tempted by His own human lower nature at Gethsemane, He gave us a road map for overcoming such weakness, with the words, “Get thou behind me, Satan!”

It is, simply put, up to each person to put the lower nature behind them-not often an easy task, but one which must be done.

Fulfilling vs. Expedient

13

November 11, 2019, Santa Monica-

A few days ago, back at Home Base, I found that some javelinas had knocked over a couple of neighbours’ trashcans.  Although it was early morning and I was in relaxation mode, there was the element of “We don’t have to live like this”, which has long been my mantra, with regard to tolerating a squalid environment.  I went outside and picked up the entire mess.

Jordan Peterson’s seventh rule for living is “Do what is fulfilling, instead of what is expedient”.  My mother never let us slide, when it was time to get a task, chore or school assignment done.  God knows, there were plenty of times when I would have loved to hang loose and slack off.  It is a blessing that I never got away with it.

Many times, people have said to me that I do things “the hard way”.  Mostly, if I do such things, it is so I can remember how to do them properly, the next time.  As for not being necessarily expedient, I have found that cutting corners almost always returns to haunt me.  It’s better to go the extra mile, the first time.

That is also the way of the veteran, whose service rarely, if ever, allowed for expediency.

 

Thoughts On Not Stepping On A Rake

4

November 9, 2019-

One of the greatest gifts imparted to me, by my parents, is knowing not to make the same mistake twice.  In his sixth Rule for Life, Jordan Peterson alludes to  a yard full of rakes, with a slapstick comic going about, stepping on one rake after another, and whacking himself about the head repeatedly.

My difficulty with repetition of mistakes has come more from failure to generalize, to apply lessons learned from one set of mistakes to similar, but anomalous, situations.

Dr. Peterson speaks quite a bit, in this segment, about resentment.  He goes through the points many of us know, as to how resentment eats away at the person who harbours it, unless he/she works through the feeling, and draws a self-improving lesson from the incident that led to the ill will.

I have learned, over the years, to work through the matter that caused me to resent a person or group.  Without exception, my path has always led to determining, through the type of soul-searching recommended by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, what I may have done that led to the incident, and how I might not open the door to similar mishaps in the future.

Proactivity can eliminate a good many misfortunes.  Avoiding self-aggrandizement can minimize resentment of those that do come our way.  I learned this, the hard way, by being Penny’s caretaker, and not, once, thinking that the whole thing was brought on by me.  Things I would better have done differently, came to mind and were fully processed.  This has only made me a better person.  Resentment of my lot, would not have done so.

She Ever Walks Tall

10

November 8, 2019-

Coming into the world,

with the Twenty-First Century,

the glowing infant was a source of joy

that her mother had not been expecting.

A family was virtually raised,

almost single-handedly,

by the most indomitable

of women.

Now, came another,

again, with no one,

except her mother,

on whom to depend.

The job was done,

and done well.

The child grew,

knowing nothing but love,

and support,

from her mother,

and a loosely-connected

network.

of aunts, one or two uncles

and man friends,

who happened along,

now and then.

The girl had  purpose, though,

and kept her eyes on those goals.

Her keen mind and loving heart,

found their way to the base

of a solid network,

and strong mentors.

That heart also captivated

a well-grounded young man.

Today, they will wed.

I am honoured to be

among those who will

witness this wondrous

beginning.

She walks tall today,

as always.

Likability is Contagious

12

November 7, 2019-

When I was a child, I was not “picked” for a team until last, most of the time, because of my relative lack of  coordination.  I was, however, not an unpopular person, mainly because everyone was welcome in my yard, and in my sandbox.  The disputes I had with some neighbourhood kids were never permanent.  I was taught that I was not the center of the Universe.

Jordan Peterson entitles his fifth rule for life “Don’t Let Your Kids Behave in A Way That Makes You Dislike Them”.  He notes that many parents vehemently deny that they could ever dislike their children.  I was not one of those.  When our son did something that was distasteful or reprehensible, I thought to myself that it would be remiss of me, as a father, to gloss over it.  So, I corrected him and established the lesson, that what his mother and I found unlikable, other people would also be inclined to take umbrage.

In seeing what he did that was unlikable, I also had to face myself, and look to see if I was also behaving the same way.  Penny was good at making me take account for my flaws, and vice versa.  We helped one another shed a fair amount of baggage, and after her passing, I had to shed a lot more-sometimes with the unwanted help of online critics but most often with my one-on-one self-critiques.

Today, he is largely a self-starter, and has weathered quite a few storms-many of which were not of his own making.  He has many friends and has found a wonderful woman, with whom to build a life.  None of this would have happened, had he been saddled with laissez-faire parents and absent extended family.  Penny’s parents were present, every step of the way, and my siblings took their avuncular duties seriously.

Dr. Peterson has thus encapsulated the need of the human being for constructive criticism, as well as praise, when it is warranted; that we innately have a need for boundaries to be set, as a way to know that we are in a safe environment.  There is no finer gift that a parent can bestow upon a child.

The True Standard

10

November 5, 2019-

Returning to Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules for Life”, #4 states “Compare Your Present Self Only to Your Past Self, not to Anyone Else.”

As social animals, we so often give other human beings far too much credit, for perfection or superiority.  I’ve heard from so many:  “It’s cold and lonely, on the pedestal.”

So, I have made it my business to measure my progress, compared to where I was-six months ago, twenty, thirty or forty years ago.  Then (1970), I hid from my peers.  Now, I am in the world, but not of it.  Then (1977), I found solace in the bottle.  Now, I find peace and tranquility in service, in meditation and in standing up for the downtrodden.  Then (1982), I handed out money on demand.  Now, I contribute reasonably, without caving in to every demanding voice or thrust-out hand. Then (1981), I viewed different people with different lenses. Now, every human being is seen in the light of their character.  Then, (1954-1986), I looked upon myself as essentially unworthy of love, as damaged goods.  Now, I am proud of what I have achieved, no matter what others might view as inadequate.  Then, (until 2010), I saw myself as a frequent victim of “politicians”, “the Elite”, “the Establishment”.  Now, I see those in positions of power as basically living out their own life plan, without seeing myself as a pawn on their chessboard.  Then, (prior to 2012), I had no idea why I behaved atypically, so often.  Now, I know I have a place on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum-and that’s okay.

The only true standard we have is our own life.

The Sweetness of “Indian Summer”

5

November, 4, 2019, Cottonwood-

When I was a child, “Indian Summer” was the name given to that part of Autumn which featured warm days and cool nights.  It was usually done by Halloween.  This year, October was a mixed bag. Some days were mildly warm; others were a bit nippy.  There was no “Augtober”, at least around here.

November has usually been a guarantor of frost.  So far this month, we’ve had what usually comes earlier.  It’s been a delayed “Indian Summer” and is likely to continue as such, until after Veteran’s Day. No harm, no foul, though.  A major wedding is coming up, in my circle of friends, and besides, I have a distance trail that I’d like to complete by Thanksgiving.

Thus, today being a non-work day, I found and hiked a small, remote segment of Limekiln Trail, between a graded dirt road named for one Bill Grey and the point where I left off last time, at the base of a quartz-laden hill.  This would be a 3-miler, including the rough section of terrain between the road and Sheepshead Canyon’s southern tip.  A local man told me he didn’t think my Hyundai would handle Bill Grey Road, but it is flat and graded.  I had no problems reaching the trailhead.

Here is where I found Limekiln’s spur trail.

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This is what the bulk of the trail featured, as a backdrop.

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I crossed one wash and two mild inclines-nothing too difficult, on this rather bright day.

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The next segment will be 4 miles, each way, from Bill Grey Road to a point along Highway 89-A near Deer Pass Ranch, at Sedona’s southern edge.  That will feature a transition from desert scrub to the promontories that signal one is in Red Rock country.

It can wait until the air is just a tad cooler.   For now, I’ll just enjoy my brisket sandwich and potato salad at Colt Cafe.

 

 

The Spiral

4

November 2, 2019-

The day wound around, on a gradual upswing.  There being no Farmers’ Market today, I found my way to a special event:  Highland Nature Center’s Holiday Bazaar.  There, I found a booth where two young boys were selling some interesting, and well-made craft items, whilst being cheerfully coached by their father.  I bought a lavender cold pack, which is good for 30-40 uses.  Another booth had knit caps, for women and girls, so I bought one for a friend’s 3-year -old daughter.  Finally, some graphic artists had a booth, where I found a lovely “Welcome to Our Home” placard, as an advance gift for a couple who’ll be married next weekend.

With that, it was off to the preparation for our public observance of al-Bab’s Bicentenary.  A goodly crew of us set up an exquisite setting, at Prescott’s Senior Center, and all told, we had 65 people who attended all, or part, of the festivities.  It was a quality program, and I was glad to help several people feel at home, from a skittish woman who could barely relax, to a visitor, who was a friend of the hymn singer, and was happy to visit with the singer and his wife, if only for a short time.  The spiral continued upward.

We were done with clean-up by 5 p.m., but where is my cell phone?  I retraced my steps, found no phone, let the janitor of the hall know to look out for it, and left to take care of a couple, more urgent errands.  The errands done, a friend tipped me off that the event hall was still open, for an evening event.  So, back to the Center I went, and with the night janitor leading the way, I went to the back stage area, where I’d eaten a snack, out of sight of my satiated friends, towards the end of the set-up.

It was the night janitor who spotted my phone, neatly camouflaged, as it was monochromatic with the stereo speaker on which I’d set it, during said snack.  The day thus ended with yet another upward spiral.

 

Damage Control

4

November 1, 2019-

Someone put one over on me,

earlier today,

leading to my getting

a mild tongue-lashing.

Anomalous situations

have not been my strong suit.

I reported the matter,

it was handled at a higher level,

and that was the end of it.

The rest of the day was

mostly uneventful,

but my former co-workers

came by with a tea cart,

which one of the students

was manning.

I purchased a cup of tea

and got a hug from the

grateful student,

whom I’ve known for

eight years.

After work, another

critical message came

expressing irritation

that I have chosen

one activity over another,

tomorrow.

There is only one of me,

though,

and the people

on the road I’m not

traveling,

will fare just fine.

I will, as well,

and the one

who took umbrage,

has also been invited

to the event

to which I’m committed.

Choices,

and damage control,

are so often the order of life.