Canalside Ruminations

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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.

 

A Sense of the Present Mood

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September 14, 2019-

I went over to Farmers’ Market, this morning, and found more of a subdued mood.  I’m not sure what is going on, but I basically bought what  I was planning to get, and did not get into any conversations-even normally friendly people were very much into themselves.  A harpist, who was playing as a featured musician, was emotionally very distant from  any of the people walking by.  I liked her music, and left a tip, as usual, but with no acknowledgement.

There was quite a bit more animation at Prescott Stand Down, our annual distribution of clothing and outdoor equipment to veterans who are in varying degrees of homelessness.  It is indicative of our community’s positive outlook towards the homeless, that a dedicated park for their feeding and recreation has been established through a partnership of community agencies and the Hilton Corporation, after the latter took out a long-term lease on city property that had been the site of a squatters’ camp.  The displaced can now at least get a meal on Saturday (typically an off-day for other groups that feed during the week or on Sundays.  There are also maintained toilets and paths for walking.

At my last meeting of the day, planning Hope Fest, which takes place two weeks from today, an offhand remark was made about how girls do well to be a bit sassy.  I believe that speaking up for oneself is a very basic skill, that ALL children should be taught.  My young charge of yesterday has been so taught.   So are several children who were present at this planning meeting.  They will be higher-functioning adults, as a result.

What happens when a child is oppressed and battered, on the other hand, has been chillingly borne out by the behaviour of a  person whom I tried to help, last Fall, only to to encounter resistance and personal attacks.  This same one has tried to get me to resume contact.  The old saw- “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me,” comes into play.  The needs of such a person go far beyond what one individual can provide.  I leave that matter to  the wider community.

On the other hand, working with organized groups remains a source of fulfillment.  I don’t regard being part of a team as either an act of cowardice or an attempt to dodge personal responsibility, as a few have suggested, elsewhere.  There are simply a good many social tasks, even involving one troubled individual, which cannot be done well by a person acting alone.  I have lost  a few friends over the above-mentioned issue, but my take remains as described here.

 

Whose Toilet?

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January 14, 2018, Prescott-

My day will likely be a joyous one, with my spirits telling me to get the laundry done, attend a memorial service, then either go and help my dear friend, or go hike in Granite Dells, if she is not in the mood for company.

Now, back to the title question.  I was discomfited, annoyed, put out at the tale coming out of the White House, as to our President’s purported comments, regarding immigrants and their countries of origin.  Either he said these things, thus committing a serious breach of comity OR his actual words were translated to fit the opinion of the observer towards the President, thus committing a serious act of calumny towards him.

Either way, I have to say this, about countries in general:  Each has its places of sublime beauty, and each has its places of squalour.  This is as true of the USA as it is of Haiti.  It is as true of France, Germany, the UAE, as it is of Liberia, Guyana or Bangladesh.  I have seen exquisite, serene villages in Guyana and decrepit, unsettling places in France.  No one who has been across our great nation would deny that there is astonishing beauty in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, whilst admitting that there is much work to be done, in addressing the matters of homelessness in cities large and small, in raising up the standards of living in First Nations reservations and in run-down sections of both urban and rural areas, across the continent.

No one likes to have their good name, or that of their country, sullied.  Some will argue, “Well, if the shoe fits, wear it!”  If that shoe has a hole in it, I would gather that the person has every right to decline its adornment.  Far better, in my view, that, having shone the light on the filth and the problems, the President, and each of us who has looked down their noses at a person, community or country, should put down that flashlight and ask, “How might we help?”  One immediate thing we can each do is, stop referring to the shortcomings of a people, as their be all and end all.  Acknowledge the beauty of a place, or of a society, instead of yammering about how horrible SOME aspects of it happen to be.  Messes happen, even in the finest of communities (just ask anyone in Montecito, CA). Beauty and strength, likewise, may be found anywhere.  How about building on that beauty and strength?

People of Value

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June 30, 2016, Prescott- I will leave here, in a few short minutes, to visit with several friends and family members, scattered as we all are, across the Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast and South.

Earlier today, though, I stopped by the town of Yarnell, so horribly hit, three years ago, by the fire which took the lives of 19 brave souls and upended countless others.  I was not there for the formal ceremony, which will be addressed by an old friend and co-worker, himself grandfather to one of the men who died that day.  My extended spiritual energy will need to suffice, but at 4:42 PM, wherever I am on the road, I will stop and observe silence, at the very time the lives of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots were snuffed out.

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Future site of Yarnell Hill Memorial Park

This brings me to the wider concept of value.  Recent discussions, in various forums, have raised the matter of how much do the lives and livelihoods of men matter, anymore.  I have been in the situation of feeling devalued, and know several men who feel likewise.  It is not hard to find such people.  All one need do is go to a busy street corner, and notice the person holding a plea-ridden sign.

Of course, homelessness is a far more complex issue than I will address in this particular post.  My wife, son and I were homeless, for a few months in 1992.  We worked our way out of it, and managed to keep a roof over our heads- which I still do.  No, I am concerned right at this moment, with placing value on the persons and souls of the human male- every bit as much as I do with our precious, much-loved female companions on this earthly plane.

I will address this topic in more depth, but for now:  Let each human being realize that his/her dreams, and what they have to offer, matter just as much as anyone else’s.  We do nothing to make the Earth a better place, by excluding anyone, of either gender, or of any given category of humanity, from their rightful place in the mix.  Advancing one group, at the expense of another, is short-sighted, and has always contributed to strife, in the long-run.  There is room, to spare, for both men and women to work, contrary to the ongoing myth of scarcity.

The Road to 65, Mile 39: Girls

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January 6, 2015, Prescott-  The man whom I am helping, with some aspects of his current homelessness, went with me to one of my favourite coffee shops, this afternoon.  As we were talking about various subjects, the topic of girls and women came up.  Specifically, his left-over pain at having lost his sister, to suicide, some years ago, because of their father’s failing to ever, once, validate her achievements or her worth.  He has long known that gender has nothing to do with a person’s worth, and he misses her, to this day, as I would miss a sibling.

When I let the gentleman off, at a burger joint, and headed home for the night, I learned some things about how a person I love, as if she were my own child, has been treated, over the past few years.  To say I am livid, is a mild understatement.  There is not much I can do in this situation, ethically or legally, except vent, in the most opaque ways possible.  There is no point in muddying the waters of a situation which will be resolved, by cooler heads than mine.

So, generally speaking, in this year 2015, why are we still debating the same issue that our grandparents were considering, in 1945?  In 1905?  Why is anyone, in his right mind, looking at a woman, or a girl, as deriving her worth only from the men around her?  Why are anyone’s God-given talents and abilities subject to the sanction of an overseer?  Why does any male human require the person who is potentially his life partner, his equal in every respect that matters, the first teacher of his children, to be subservient?

We, in this society, love to throw stones at the Taliban, and other groups whom we perceive as having a medieval mindset.  Yet, so many men, right here, right now- and of EVERY ADULT GENERATION, decree themselves Lords and Masters.  I could never bring myself to do that.

My late wife and I had our share of struggles, misunderstandings and long debates.  None of them ever had as their core some sort of false notion about me being somehow superior in our relationship.  We were a team, of imperfect humans, and we were going to make it work.  So, we did, through all manner of mishaps and foibles, many of them my own, and we never, once, went to bed angry.

I guess it’s because my self-worth did not depend on her obeisance.  It depended on her approval, to some extent, and on her support, which never wavered.  Girls, and the awesome adults they become when given the love and support they deserve, are a cornerstone of humanity.  I never had a daughter, but there are so many in my world, whom I am proud to call friend- and would be very proud to call “my child”.  It will ever be so.