Breaking A Small Logjam

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June 13, 2021- Every so often, I find myself with nothing to say, at a given moment. On a quiet routine day, such as today, rest takes priority, especially with one very active, at times frenetic week gone and a slightly quieter one ahead. Indeed, a Christian friend, at breakfast this morning, extolled the virtues of not working on the Sabbath of one’s Faith. We Baha’is are, unofficially, given Friday as a day of rest, yet statutes and the present course of the wider society make that sometimes problematic. Still, when I am tired, I take the time to rest.

Nonetheless, life goes on and commentary with it. A small fire broke out today in Cornville, about an hour northeast of here. I may pull a shift, or two, this week, at any shelter that opens in consequence to that fire. There are other matters to which I must attend-some maintenance on the Elantra, a few meetings to host and to attend, and the long overdue resolution of a personal health issue. Fires, and other social emergencies are never convenient, nor are most personal matters. Somehow, action is required on each one-and so on I go, along with anyone else who can make the time.

As for an ongoing flow of conversation, as to why the Federal and state governments move so slowly, if at all, on matters of concern to Joe Citizen, I give you the fact that each person in said governments has to deal with the same logjams of overwork and scheduling rest. There is a conflict in perception, between those who ARE rested and ready for action and those who are running on fumes. Some of us are just slow moving, overly meticulous (Obsessive Compulsive) and prone to overthinking. Others, myself included, take action on matters that present themselves, in as expeditious a manner as possible-giving deferred attention to things that are synchronous to what has our attention at the moment. (For example, a barrage of Instant Messages coming at a time when I am engaged in helping feed two dozen people.)

Each of us is important. None of us is as important as we sometimes want the world to think.

Tales from the 2016 Road: West Virginia’s “Pot Handle”

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July 13-14, 2016, Martinsburg-  My processing and purchase of a 2013 Hyundai Elantra became final at 12:30 PM.  I gathered my stuff at Days Inn, went over to Sugar Hill Auto and transferred everything from the Altima, paid up, said goodbye to the Old Trouper and went for lunch at Blue Colony Diner.  It was time to head south.

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Blue Colony Diner, Newtown, CT

The very Russian waitress was rather brusque, and hurried, something to which I’m not accustomed.  The Reuben was nicely prepared, though, so I made do.

Southward became a bit of a slog, at first.  An enormous pile-up, involving three tractor-trailers and eight cars, had taken place on I-84, between Newburgh and Middletown.  I stayed in queue, until the State Police ushered us all off, at Exit 5-A.  I went south when most everyone else headed north.  The road from Goshen to Middletown was relatively empty,and I was back on I-84, in less than an hour. I was in Pennsylvania, a short time later, stopping at a Rest Area in Mountaintop, where my eldest brother and his family once lived, and enjoying the other half of my Reuben.

There was a second pile-up, near Hershey, but it was on the eastbound I-78.  I took the westbound, to I-81, near Chambersburg.  Then, it was a short hop, through a narrow stretch of Maryland, to Martinsburg,WV.

After a very restful sleep, followed by continental breakfast, it was time to spend a bit of time taking in Martinsburg’s downtown.  There are several Federal Period structures here, as there are across both West Virginia and Virginia.

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First Presbyterian Church, Martinsburg,  WV

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Berkeley County Courthouse, Martinsburg, WV

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Martinsburg Arts Centre

The center of town is marked by a landscaped little square.

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Central Square, Martinsburg, WV

The house built by General Adam Stephen, founder of Martinsburg, is preserved on the city’s southeast side.  General Stephen’s residence was built of native limestone.

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Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg

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Root Cellar and Spring House, Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg

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Native Limestone, Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg

The brick house next door was built by Philip Showers, in 1874, and housed railroad workers and their families.  It is called the Triple Brick House, and was divided into three dwellings.  Today, Triple Brick House serves as Martinsburg’s Historical Museum.

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Triple Brick House, Martinsburg

This city was a Western outpost of Revolutionary forces during the War for Independence, and has had a key role in subsequent conflicts, from the War of 1812 to the “War on Drugs”, of the Reagan Era.  It is now home to major offices of the Department of Homeland Security.  Yet, on this quiet morning, it was a place of restfulness and reflection.  There is much in the “Pothandle” of eastern West Virginia to explore and enjoy, so I will come through here again.  It was time, however, to get as far south as possible by this evening.

NEXT:  Harrisonburg of the Shenandoah

Tales of the 2016 Road: Death of An Altima

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July 10-12, Bethel, CT-   I got up fairly early, Sunday morning, as usual.  Somehow, I was a bit like a caged cat, pacing about, doing small chores, none to the satisfaction of Mom, with her plaint of “typical man”, ever in the background. My restlessness, though, had nothing to do with that.  I had had a vision of this being my Altima’s last ride and its being replaced by a small white or gray sedan. Besides,  I am no longer put off by anyone’s criticism, preferring to keep at a task until it is done to my own satisfaction.

The plan was for me to make it to York, PA and there, try to connect with a young artist, who has made Cherokee crafts, for several years.  I bid Mother a loving farewell, after eating the brunch she prepared, and the rain had subsided to her satisfaction.

The drive out, along the Massachusetts Turnpike, to I-84, was uneventful.  I stopped, briefly, at Framingham Service Center, and had no problem continuing down the road.  After a slow, but steady, passage through Hartford and Waterbury, I decided to pull off at Newtown, and fill the Nissan up with gasoline.  I would then go over to Sandy Hook, and pray for the victims of the horrific shooting of 2012.

When I tried to start the Altima, though, smoke began to rise from under the hood.  A generous young man gave me a gallon of coolant, which he said had “been left” in his truck.  I gave him some money for that, and added a fair amount to the overflow tank.

The engine continued to smoke, and I noticed that the coolant tank, itself, was cracked and useless.  A trio of motorcyclists came over and helped me push Altima into a vacant parking space.  One of them cautioned me against trying to take the car any further.  The Altima, and I, found his advice was sound.  Car wasn’t going anywhere, without a tow.

The AAA tow took me to the Days Inn at Bethel, then took Altima to its resting place, Sugar Hill Auto Service Center, on the west side of Newtown.  By then, I had contacted my sister-in-law, in Florida and my brother in Georgia, letting them know of the situation.  Facebook also learned of my challenge.  An hour or so later, arrangements were made for my purchase of another car, by Wednesday, and I made myself at home, in the comfortable second floor room at Days Inn.  Three days of continental breakfast, a walk to/from Target, for a few odds and ends, and catching up on my reading and writing, hardly constituted suffering.

The 2005 Altima, though, had endured enough.  The litany of engine woes, first taught me by my father, when I was 13:  Head gasket leak, valves bent, rings broken, engine kaput swam out of the auto technician’s mouth, at various points along our phone conversation.  He had spent two hours in diagnosis, on Monday.  Tuesday morning, I told him not to do anything further.  I would pay him for his diagnostics and for disposal of the Nissan.

The rest was due diligence on several cars offered by Danbury Auto Group.  After looking at several vehicles, online, and discussing with my best friend, I settled on a 2013 Hyundai Elantra.  It would be ready on Wednesday, so my relaxation continued.

Nissan Altima required quite a bit of me, financially, but it also took me to Vancouver, BC, once, to Reno and Denver, both twice. and to Southern California, about five times.  For an old car, going to the East Coast proved to be the last straw, despite my having had it serviced, just before we left Prescott. Mechanics tended to blame the catalytic converter and a “bad sensor” for the occasional check engine light.  I know, now, that it has to be more than that.  I am glad for one thing:  Its last journey took me to the place of my birth, and at least got me far enough away, that I had to stand on my own two feet, and not place an undue burden on anyone.  BF helped, immeasurably, and I will repay him.  RIP, my gray vehicle.

NEXT:  No York, but Plenty of Martinsburg