Charlottesville

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August 13, 2017, Prescott-

It’s rather ironic, that my journey series has reached the point where my next few posts will be about Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Harrisonburg/Lexington and Olive Hill, KY.  I did not visit the seat of the University of Virginia, this time out.  It is my late wife’s alma mater and Charlottesville is the first place where Penny heard about the Baha’i Faith.  There is a strong Baha’i presence there, to this day.  Were my fellows in faith to be given charge of this weekend’s gatherings, they may well have had white and black extremists cordoned off in one area, as was done at a Baha’i gathering in Orlando, several years ago.  It taught more than a few of them the absurdity of their positions.

Fear has a lot to do with what went on, on both sides.  Fear makes people do prudent things, like staying aware of their surroundings, watching where they put their hands and feet, not picking fights with those who could seriously cause harm.  Fear also can make people do stupid things, like assume a person, who has certain physical features or styles  of dress/adornment, is dangerous or argue a point, that they know is ridiculous, “could possibly be right.”

I believe every life matters, too.  I believe it is right to learn from history and that it is wrong to try and erase history.  There was once an emperor of China, who tried to expunge the record of every ruler who came before him.  He wanted to rewrite history, in his own hand.  It’s said that history is written by the victor, but that didn’t turn out so well, for said Emperor.  Others kept records, then, and others will keep records, now.  Those who remove our statuary are not being honest with children.  They are no better than those who gave short shrift to the legacies of people of colour, over a nearly 200-year period.  History needs to be full and balanced, if we are to learn from our errors, as a nation and as a species.

I am very saddened by the needless and premature death of Heather Heyer.  This wanton act of murder had nothing to do with a certain number of Antifa members being mixed with the anti-Nazi protestors.  Ms. Heyer was not with Antifa, nor was she “bused in by George Soros.”  She was a Charlottesville resident, employed as a paralegal.  It had everything  to do with the killer’s being an impressionable young man, of questionable emotional stability, being influenced, to some degree, by the words and taunts of a good number of Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members.  The reactions of many of the alt-right protesters does indicate they were not out to kill those who confronted them.  The obscenity-laced comments filling the air- on You Tube videos- did, however, set some people off, including the errant driver.

It’s  long past time to start serious, but respectful and frank dialogue.  Let’s do it, anyway.  It’s long past time for the President to set a strong tone of domestic leadership, aimed at getting differing sides together, peacefully,  but nose-to-nose, if necessary.  The air needs to be cleared of the noxious.  Citizens, however, as was said this evening, at a candlelight vigil here,  also need to set the moral tone, at their level..  No far-off politician can do all the heavy-lifting, nor should a local demagogue be allowed to stir up the passions of one segment of the populace, as happened in Charlottesville.

I am not any kind of supremacist.  I am not any kind of ideologue.  I have lived long enough to know that we lose, mightily, by excluding any group, based on any physical characteristic, faith or creed.  So, on we go, without the vivacious young paralegal, who just wanted to love her community.

To My Newest Friend

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August 12, 2017, Superior-

You approached me,

as one adult to another,

from the get-go, this afternoon.

I felt your need to let the music,

that is inside you,

be given voice and melody.

We talked of a way,

in which I might help,

in that regard,

and next Saturday,

I will bring that help.

You are strong,

brave,

honest.

One can never have

too many friends.

I’m glad to have you as one,

and honoured

that you’re letting me be one,

in return.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LX: Freedom, Borne of Fire

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July 17-18, 2017, Philadelphia-

After treating my mother to breakfast, at Saugus’ downtown cafe, Hammersmith Inn, I bid farewell to the town of my childhood, and headed towards Pennsylvania, and more family bonding.  My middle brother spent a good many of his working years in Pennsyvania, lastly in the Main Line precincts of Chester Springs.  Two of his children still live in the Philadelphia area.  He and my sister-in-law were here visiting, so this was a natural stop, for a day or so.

I took my now customary route, south and west, stopping first at Newtown, CT, where I have been intending to visit the small reflection area, where Sandy Hook Elementary stood, at the time of the massacre of 2012.  I was, of course, unable to do that last year, with my car trouble.  No such issue rose this year, so I stopped, prayed and reflected, with the new Sandy Hook Elementary School behind me, and many people carrying on the business of summer school.

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Freedom allows people to make some odd choices, as those who threatened the lives of the victims’ families did, in the wake of the tragedy.  Thankfully, no harm has come to any parents or siblings of those slain.

I drove down I- 84 & 81, at one point having to detour through Middletown, NY, ironically the place where I first took the dying Nissan, last summer. Again, there were no issues with my trusty Hyundai. I continued to a place which has come to feel much like home, these past six years:  Glick’s Greenhouse, Oley.  After a lovely welcoming dinner and some quiet time, I was honoured by this sunset:

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The next morning, with a breakfast to match the dinner, I bid farewell to my Oley family. For those who remember Cider, the Glick’s old collie, Manny- his successor, is getting the hang of greenhouse life.

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I headed south and east, into the Main Line area, and connected with my Georgia siblings, at their hotel, then went to a deli-style restaurant, in the town of  Wayne.  Nudy’s Cafe is a thoroughly tasteful establishment, with wonderful food and attentive, well-dressed servers.

After this repast, Dave and I headed to the Museum of the American Revolution, in downtown Philadelphia, experiencing relatively mild traffic, en route.  The first sight greeting the visitor, in the area of 2nd St and Chestnut, is a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder:  William Penn.

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The Museum of the American Revolution, itself, is less than a block from this little square.  It is just south of the domed building in the foreground.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The entrance posits the challenge that may well have been a battle cry, in the years just prior to the outright rebellion.

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I stood in front of the copper engraving depicting the First Continental Congress.

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The Declaration of Independence is adjacent to the museum entrance, as well.

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Inside, the Museum offers a complete, and well-balanced depiction of the experiences of both sides, in the conflict, and of those trapped in the middle- the merchants and the Quaker pacifists.  Most of the exhibits did not lend themselves to photography, being in dimmer light, with no flash photography allowed.  I did get a few shots, first being the Philadelphia Liberty Tree.

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The Patriots were not, at least initially, a unified force.  Disagreements between townsmen of the Northeast and woodsmen from the Appalachians and the Ohio Valley had to be mediated, with George Washington reportedly directly intervening, at least once.  The boy on the lower left recalled this, in his memoirs, later in life.

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The more iconic scene, of Washington crossing the Delaware River, is also given prominence.

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The plight of African-American slaves, who were not uncommon in the northern colonies, any more than in the South, in the late 18th Century, is symbolized by this portrait and commentary by Mumbet, a Massachusetts woman, who won her freedom in court, after her master assaulted her, for having listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.  This case resulted in the prohibition of slavery in Massachusetts.  Mumbet became Elizabeth Freeman, and lived out her days in Stockbridge, a town in the central Berkshire Hills.

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The American experiment is far from perfect, but has resulted in the most diverse democracy on Earth, and still has so much to share, with those who want to study our nation’s experience.  We will keep on going, experimenting, refining and retooling, hopefully so that the three generations shown below, and their fellows, will never again know oppression.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

NEXT:  Brandywine, and More of Downtown Philadelphia.

 

 

Interlude

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August 6, 2017, Prescott-

NOTE:  Those following my journey of last month need not worry- there is much more to come, from those Road Days:  Philadelphia; Hagerstown; Antietam; Harpers Ferry; Falls of the Ohio; Paducah;  Sarcoxie; Baxter Springs & Sedan, Kansas; Folsom, Cimarron & Taos, NM, and all points in between.

Today, however, is an intermezzo. I want to pause, and connect with where my heart and spirit are NOW.

You, each and all, matter greatly, dearly.

Whoever told you, dying of ovarian cancer, and sitting on a downtown curb,

asking for whatever help people can bring,

that you are beyond hope- has lied to you.

I gave you my last dollar, and have to be prudent, for a week or so, as I am running low, myself.

Yet, you matter.

Whoever told you, beautiful young woman, just trying to get a meal and catch a break,

that you are good for only one thing- has shut his eyes to everything that you are.

I’d be proud as punch, to claim you as my daughter.

You matter.

Whoever told you, strong, vital husband of an engaging, innovative woman,

that you ought to stay in the background, and let her be in the spotlight-

is cheating both of you.

She wants you at her side,

and you matter.

Whoever told you, my dearest friend and soul sister,

that no man would ever want you to be anything,

other than a source of pleasure, and his servant-

is living in a fool’s paradise.

You have taught me more, in a month’s time,

than I learned in six decades,

and I look forward to all that you have left to impart,

because you matter.

To all who may have told anyone in your life,

that he or she is worthless, a waste of DNA,

fodder for a compost pile-

think again, and hard.

You matter, in spite of your scathing remarks

and constant oneupmanship,

but so do those whom you disparage.

The black person matters,

as does the white,

the  East Asian,

the Latino,

the Native American,

the Pacific Islander,

the West Asian,

the South Asian.

Men matter,

and so do women.

Seniors matter,

as do children,

teens,

young adults,

those in “middle age”.

Homeless people matter,

and homeowners,

renters,

couch surfers.

There is no “Keep Out” sign,

at the universal level,

for anyone in the LGBTQ umbrella group,

for anyone with weight issues,

for anyone who struggles with mental health problems,

for anyone who can’t walk,

can’t speak, hear or see,

or can’t think.

This is where I am, now.

You, my female and male friends,

whose company I enjoy,

and who enjoy mine;

my neighbour children,

who love playing in my yard,

because it’s a safe place;

my students and co-workers,

who actually look forward

to being at school,

because we support one another,

I am blessed to be here,

because of you.

 

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty-Six, Part LVIII: Return to Down East, Part 3- The Heritage of Agamenticus

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July 16, 2017, York, ME-

My penchant for delving into the past, of any given community in which I find myself, is fairly standard by now.  As a native New Englander, I will always look at the reasons for people’s settlements.  Maine began as a county of the colony, and later, of the Commonwealth, of Massachusetts.  Most initial settlement in the region was, naturally, along the coast.  The Penacook Abenaki people, who predated Europeans here, called their settlement Agamenticus.  There is no specific definition given, for that name- but it refers to what is now known as the York River.

In 1624, Sir Fernando Gorges, representing the British Crown, established a settlement here and made it the administrative center for the District of Maine.  He called it Gorgeana.  Upon his death, the Massachusetts Bay Colony laid claim to Maine, and the town was renamed York.

I set out, this afternoon, to visit the three museums, over a 2 1/2 hour period.  Upon the advice of the chief curator of Old York, I first went to Old Gaol (jail), as it would close first.

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It was, as one might expect, a rather unwelcoming place.  The jailer lived in the facility, and was also a weaver.  His loom and his sleeping quarters were in one room, on the first floor.

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The miscreants, of course, did not have such comfortable digs.

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“Have a seat”  also meant something different, back then, when addressed to, say, the town drunk.

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The punishments of the day were a fair bit more severe than what we might exact for a similar offense, today.  Note that there were two ways of writing the letter ‘s’.a

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The walkway between cells was not intended for easy passage.

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I would then, as now, preferred to observe the laws of the land.

Having been convinced of the earnestness of justice in Old York, I headed to Emerson- Wilcox House, which is an example of a residence which was leased from the First Parish Congregationalist Church of York, by one town merchant, Edward Emerson, a granduncle of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1766, for 999 years.  After Mr. Emerson died, his son inherited the house, but was unable to maintain himself financially, and died penniless.  The surviving women remained in the house, which was purchased by the town magistrate and constable, David Wilcox, hence Emerson-Wilcox House.  Mr. Wilcox expanded the home, out of necessity, so there are two period styles of architecture in the home:  Georgian and Federal.  Photography is not permitted inside the home, but here are some views of the exterior.

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After a friendly and informative guided tour of the house, I passed by the Old Burial Ground,SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

and browsed the Remick Collection of York memorabilia, which include original bed hangings from one of the first homes in York.  Again, there was no photography permtted inside the collection, but here is a look at the outside.

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The adjoining Jeffords Tavern, however, is photo-friendly, and gives a view of the casual side of colonial life.  Maine was nowhere near as Puritanical as Massachusetts Bay Colony, being more concerned with maritime commerce, from its inception.  There were several churches, which were mostly concerned with keeping the Sabbath and ownership of land.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Jeffords Tavern.

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You can see that not all the furniture is from the Georgian Period.  The modern fare is for the convenience of researchers and other visitors.

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Lastly, here is the Old York Schoolhouse, now-but not then- placed adjacent to Jeffords Tavern.

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York has a plethora of places of interest, many of which are natural preserves.  In the next post, the last in this series, Hartley-Mason Preserve, and York Harbor, are the focus.

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LVI: Return to Down East, Part 1- Green Acre

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July 16, 2017, Eliot, ME-

I had anticipated visiting relatives, outside the immediate family, today.  I just was not sure which ones.  Last night, I got a message from a long-lost cousin, saying that he couldn’t meet with me this time around, but would I please consider visiting his mother, my paternal aunt, on her birthday.

It’s been 28 years, since I last set foot in the State of Maine.  My last visit there didn’t go very smoothly, and I have been embarrassed to return to the last place I stayed.  This time, though, I was determined to make it a good day.

I started out at Green Acre Baha’i School, located  in Eliot, just over the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, NH.  The property, once owned by a spiritualist, was deeded to the Baha’i Faith by Sarah Farmer, after ‘Abdu’l-Baha visited the property, in 1912, and told Ms. Farmer that he foresaw a great center of learning rising there.

It is, at present, a vibrant place of spiritual education, and Green Acre has forged strong ties with the surrounding communities.  I spent about two hours there, before heading up to York.  A high point is always visiting the room where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during his visit.

Here are some scenes of Green Acre:

The first building that greets the visitor is a large classroom center.

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The administration building and registrar’s office is located diagonally across the street.

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The administrator’s residence is next to the registrar’s office.

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Overlooking it all is the majestic Sarah Farmer Inn.  Students in the various programs, which are generally a week or two in length, stay in this Victorian establishment.

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One may walk down to the banks of the Piscataqua River, across which is Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s only seaport

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The Great Lawn offers a sweeping view of the campus.

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Back in the Sarah Farmer Inn, I recalled having sat and meditated in the parlour, on a previous visit.

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Upstairs, one may pray and meditate in the room where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed.  After  I had done so, with three other people praying in the room, it was most prudent to take this photo, from outside the room itself.

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Upon leaving the Sarah Farmer Inn, I was informed that there was a picnic and barbecue outside, which I promptly joined.  A pleasant meal of chicken and several vegetarian dishes, and a chance meeting with friends from Arizona made for a fine ending to this short visit.

I had gathered both nutritional and spiritual sustenance, which would carry me safely onward, eventually back to Arizona.  This day, however, would bring further joys into view: Stonewall Kitchen, where my aunt works; Old York; York Harbor and the Mason Preserve, and a nice little gathering, in auntie’s honour.  Stay tuned.

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LIII: Canton, Beyond The Hall of Fame

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July 11, 2017, Canton, OH-

Many folks, finding themselves in this bustling eastern Ohio former industrial center, make a beeline for the Professional Football Hall Of Fame.  I have an interest in seeing that institution, some day, but it is a full-day excursion.  This afternoon, my attention was drawn to downtown Canton, specifically to the Arts District.  In any given city, this is where the People rise up and say,”We’re still here.  We have a voice, and a vision.”

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Yes, football is a focus, but far from the whole focus.

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I could see a Comicon being held in this city.  Monsters, both metallic and painted, abound in downtown.

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Jim Thorpe fought his own demons, and inspired many to fight their own.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Now, back to the Comicon idea.  Here are some ideas for those who enjoy cosplay.

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I think extraterrestrials would get a surprisingly warm welcome, here.

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This creature, though, maybe not so much.

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It may be a macho town, of sorts, but Canton knows that, in the long run, it is Woman who leads the way.

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I would find my way through another round of storms, in the early evening, and onward to Pennsylvania, without much trouble.  Ohio, it’s been a pleasure to tarry a bit.

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIX: One Lady’s Flame of Learning

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July 10, 2017, South Bend-

The University of Notre Dame has long been the stuff of legends, particularly when it comes to college football. There is, of course, far more to this fine institution, so it was ironic that the stadium was off-limits to the public today, with intense construction work being done, in and around it.  My tour of Notre Dame, courtesy of a long-time correspondent, focused on everything else that makes this campus such a great institution.

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Our tour began near the Joyce Center,  a performance center, named for one of the University’s prime movers, Reverend Edmund P. Joyce.

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I am always drawn to student art.  This metal dinosaur was produced by a team of Notre Dame students, and is one of a wide variety of projects, visible around campus.  While I was there, several pieces were being transported to storage, saving them during the summer construction.

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Horticulture is as vital here, for aesthetics and soil enrichment, as it is at any great public place.

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I give you two views of Touchdown Jesus, the lovely, famed, and rather presumptuous, mural which faces Ara Parseghian Stadium.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Rev. Drs. Joyce and Hesburgh are seen, discussing their vision for Notre Dame.

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There are several panels, along the wall of the University Library, depicting symbols from the Old Testament.

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There are four concrete pavilions, in the center of campus, honouring those who fought in World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing conflicts in western Asia.

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In the central fountain of these pavilions, is a steel ball, representing our shared planet.

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The Washington Center, Notre Dame’s administrative center, is topped by this golden dome.

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Along the central corridor of the Washington Center are several portraits, depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  An ornate crown may also be viewed, at the north end of the corridor.

My guide and I next proceeded to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  The modernesque features of the interior stand somewhat in contrast to the interiors of several much older cathedrals of, say, western Europe. Nonetheless, the artistry does a fine job of telling the Eternal Story.

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The High Altar, the Altar of St. Peter and the Altar of the Blessed Mother appear, lined up.

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The Basilica’s ceiling calls attention to the Divine Sacrifice.

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This tree shows its resilience, after a sacrifice of a different sort.

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It was now time for my guide to head back to her other duties, so from here, I spent several minutes on my own.

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That time was spent in the Jordan Center for Science.

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The Center’s biological and medical research is wide in field, most notably its research into blindness.  The Museum, closed when I was there, has an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy.

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The Sundial hearkens back to a time when naturalistic observation meant the difference between life and death.

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This has been one of the more fascinating campus tours, along with that, four years ago, of Princeton University, courtesy of another longtime correspondent. So, farewell, Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian Stadium.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLV: The Enduring and The Fleeting

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July 6, 2017, Santa Rosa, NM-

My day began, fresh and rested, with a stop at Wilson Arch, on the south end of a tourist attraction called “Hole In The Rock”, a collection of trinket shops and oddities.  It was easy to avoid, being closed.  The Arch, though, called out for some meditation time, so I walked to a sandstone bench, where I was able to sit undisturbed, while watching a group of other visitors, clambering up to the Arch, 300 yards away.

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It was getting to be breakfast time, so I headed to the Monticello branch of Moab’s famed Peace Tree Cafe.  The small eatery features a wealth of inventive breakfast items, such as Coconut French Toast, which sustained me for nearly the whole day.

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Continuing to Bluff, a small settlement, off the hipster trail that encircles Moab, I found a functioning laundromat, which was sorely needed, and Bluff Fort- a restored Mormon settlement, and testimony to the hard work and suffering that pioneers experienced, in the late Nineteenth Century.  This story did not, thankfully, involve conflict with Native peoples.  It was all about the harsh terrain that the Mormons found, in the course of settling southeastern Utah.

Here are some scenes of the Co-op store, water wheel and  a few of the sixteen cabins that greet the visitor. The first stop, in a self-guided tour, is the Old Schoolhouse.  Note the beamed roof.

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The brick and mortar building, below, is the Co-op, a restoration of the original, which was burned to the ground by an outlaw, in 1909, after a botched robbery attempt.

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Then, it was on to the water wheel and cabins, which highlight the differences in status among the settlers.

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Despite the seeming differences, it is remarkable that the group braves the harshness of the Kaiparowits Plateau, with its nearly-impenetrable maze of sandstone formations.

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Once laundry was finished, I drove straight on down to Native American Baha’i Institute, where I left a set of crafts supplies, and headed eastward, in short order.  This was punctuated by my scrunching a desperate, nearly heat-prostrated couple into my front seat, and taking them to their utility’s office.  After the errands,  a dinner of  chicken and salad, at Gallup’s Sizzler, and a long haul, across New Mexico, brought me to the lovely Route 66 Inn, in this high desert town.  The motel is run by a wonderful family- grandparents, Mom & Dad and three happy children.

It is amazing, that the pioneers accomplished so much, by working together, in enduring camaraderie, while others seem to be just spinning their wheels, by indulging in caprice and in fleeting acquaintances.

NEXT UP:  Texas to Illinois

Tremors

11

July 9, 2017, Wilmette-

To reiterate, as I am drastically revamping the earlier version of this post:  I will recap the past several, enjoyable days, July 5-8, in my next several posts.

For now:

I was somewhat relieved, and gratified, to actually meet a person who had been rather skittish, with regard to such a handshake.  Turns out, she does seem overbooked.  It is either sink or swim, for most of us, so she is swimming, furiously.

I am still frightened by people who pretend to be friends, and exhort the rest of us, with intense, challenging inspirational rhetoric.  Someone posted online, about Mother Teresa.  I remember her as a rather somber, sad woman, not so comfortable with the adulation of an unskeptical public.  I mention this, because we do tend to move in on people who look shiny, on the surface.  Europeans look at Americans, and are stunned by the glad-handing and false promises that occupy many of us, who are out to get a leg up.  So, motivational speakers and preachers get caught with their pants down, some of them literally so.  That’s the thing that frightens me most:  Not traffic, not thugs, but the duplicitous.

I feel much better, this afternoon, having had an extended conversation with my online friend- far from duplicitous, and the epitome of real.  It could not have ended, any other way.  I look forward to continually learning from her, and other correspondents.  This is about purification, and strengthening- a process that lasts a lifetime.

Some tremors are necessary in life.