Friday, June 29, 2012

Eastern Heat

So here it is a Friday in late June and the heat is predicted for the East today, tomorrow and Sunday.

Many of us have the privileged to exercise air-conditioning when we need it. So many do not. I often wonder why some of us have stuff and others do not.

I know it's a matter of practical economics, but what is beyond that, if anything. Could it be a choice at some higher level of spiritual understanding that allows each of us to set the situations that create a different choice at a lower finite level so that we can make the right choices of help and balance?

These are serious questions that must be pondered, but not when the heat comes.

I remember during the few very cold days of last winter when I wrote another thought about the cold. Maybe it will help with today’s heat.

Here it is from wintertime.

“This day is a draining, shivering cold. There is a frigid thunk to the wind chimes on the porch, not the usual resonate ring of atoms in easy motion. The chime sound is tight, quick and solid as if it is too hard and too stiff for even the ring to move beyond its source. Everything has stillness about it except the wind and it too shivers as it seeks the elusive warmth of icy friction”.

I will read it twice and see if it helps this weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More than we thought.

Things Are Not Alway As They Seem

There was this guy named Bartholomew Masterson. He was born on a farm in Quebec, Canada. He was also known as William Barclay. He was a respected journalist and a leading authority on boxing.

At one time in his life he was a deputy US Marshall for the southern district of New York, appointed by Teddy Roosevelt.

In other times he had other careers. He was a buffalo hunter, an army scout, a saloon owner, and a professional gambler.

Bartholomew or William Barclay went by the nickname of "Bat." Bat Masterson, sheriff of Dodge City, friend of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and Wild Bill Cody.

History tells us Masterson was a gun fighter. He may have had a couple of gunfights, but more correctly he knew a lot of legitimate gunfighters. Masterson's friend and writer Alfred Henry Lewis wrote a book called the Sunset Trail, where he embellished Bat's adventures with the famous gunfighters of the west and the legend increased. How many current urban legends are out there with little truth in their telling?

Bat Matereson died in New York City in 1921 from a heart attack while sitting at his desk. He was sports editor for the New York Morning Telegraph.

Things are not always as they seem.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I have a bunch of “Why” questions in this blog.

Why does Turkey have to retaliate for the downing of their jet fighter that strayed into Syrian territority. Turkey admitted that their jet strayed and Syria said it was a mistake to shoot it down. What more do they need? These things happen at borders and mistakes are made especially when tensions are heightened as they are in the now apparent Syrian civil war.

Why do the Republicans have to counter every reasonable statement from Democrats? Why do Democrats have to parry every Republican suggestion? Both sides are harming our democracy and preventing some good to be accomplished by this congress.

Why cannot the American public know what individuals and what organizations are contributing millions and millions of dollars in order to promote their agenda and discredit the candidate? Secret Super Pacs are wrong and should be illegal.

Why do we bother to be voyeurs and read the “Now it can be told” missive from John Edward’s mistress. What is wrong with us?

It seems to be we need to ask ourselves more “whys” each day and then answer them with honesty and maybe even a little shame.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Colorado Fires

There is nothing anyone can do to change it, to stop it. We can fight it and the fire fighters do so with skill, daring, courage and a danger to themselves, but still it chews the hard-dry brush into a soft ash.

Lightening starts most fires. The drought too hurts and so does the ill wind that carries glowing ash to great distances. Homes are burned and destroyed.  Other peoples tragedy reminds us of our vulnerability. The tears of loss and smiles of safety on the same face parallel our conflict of and our appreciation of nature.

The stories of neighbor helping neighbor, confirm our desire for community. There are hundreds of stories not only of crushing flames and charred places, but stories of hopes and wishes, shattered dreams and shock.

In times of such destruction values change rapidly. The acquired stuff of daily living is no match for the loss of a treasured family picture or the ache of not knowing if a pet survived.

There is never a quick end to tragedy. No easy answers to the wailed questions of why and no relief when cries have run out of tears.

It is not possible to hold each hand of so many so hurting from these fires. All we can do, in this human family, is to be aware and to care. There is something powerful in that and it heals.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Memories of the Desert

What is it about the desert southwest that provides a sense of peace? I don’t know the total answer to that question, but I do have some observations. If you are a reader of this blog you know that I just returned from a few days in New Mexico.

The observations are all subjective.

Sand is an unnatural growing environment, at least to us Easterners, yet cactus species of all kinds flourish in the granulated loam. The red painted Ocotillo, the eatable Prickly Pear, the noble and stately Saguaro, and the winding Stag horn are all beautiful. Barrel cactus flowers have few equals with their thick colorful blossoms. Numerous desert floor varieties of tiny delegate flowers sprout through the cracked and drying sand and all are shaded occasionally by the multi-trunked Ironwood evergreen tree.

There is a peace that flows naturally from the land and in particular from the vistas embraced by the eye; distances are unencumbered.

There is cultural variety everywhere. Immigrant Mexican traditions vie with Caucasian expectations and expansion.

In many ways water is the coin in the realm. By the time the rio Grande River, which sources in the Rocky Mountains, gets to the desert southwest it is but a stream. States use most of their allotment and there is little left to flow south of the border.

Somewhere down the years, by drought or use, water will be a problem. How it’s solved will be the choice of cooperation or legal conflict.

I hope the peace engendered by the vistas of the land will prevail at that time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sacred Places

I visited the Santuario de Chimayo in northern New Mexico yesterday. I’d been there before. It has always attracted me because of its story. A couple of hundred years ago a priest was martyred at that location and it became a healing and sacred ground.

Hundreds of people visit the tiny adobe church every year and many claim to have been healed from illness or deformity. Some leave their crutches as evidence and others post a note or picture with their story.

The world is filled with sacred places. Lourdes, Medjugorie, Machu Pichu, Sedona vortexes, the Wailing Wall, Stonehenge and Ayres Rock to name a few. Not all of them have a healing component, but all of them have an energy different from the norm; you can feel it if you move yourself into a quiet meditative state.

Why does one place become sacred and not another? I think it has to do with the collective energy we human beings leave there through time and thought.

I think we have far more spiritual power than we remember and we leave that energy in places by our appreciation or awe or reverence of the location or an historical event that took place there. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adobe Winds

I sat in the courtyard of a beautiful adobe home in the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico the other day and listened to the voice of the dry high desert wind.

The courtyard trees translated the thought for me and lulled me into a meditation of awe and expectation. I only had a few minutes of being alone, but it was magnificent and an eternity in a single moment.

The wind sound was not the rustle of an Eastern forest when the wind speaks through the trees.

It was not the clapping voice of the low desert where palm fronds applaud the elegance of a steady wind and slap their appreciation to the All That Is.

It was an undulating hushing human voice of a canyon wind passing and gusting through the Aspens, Pines and Sage.

This is the same wind that has forever honored the Native people of the southwest and it honors each of us for we have the sister and brother winds of breath.

Immediately I felt the presence of a friend whose home this use to be. He passed to the other side and I was here to celebrate his life with a ceremony on the summer solstice.

Requiescat en pace Bob Samples and thank you for filling so many lives with wonder, words, concepts and hugs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Traveling Stuff

I had forgotten just how desolately beautiful the high desert can be. I am here in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a few days and although I’ve been here many times before it has been a long time since I felt the land, and the ancients and their culture.

Elegant adobe homes make up the spotted communities on the desert floor around Santa Fe. Adobe huts make up the landscape of the poor. The native peoples known as “Dine” live in the pueblos of their ancestors and with the restrictions of the United States Government that took their land in a westward expansion and gave them the worst of it in which to live.

A few observations on my flight out here.

Some seatmates are talkative and some are not.

Some travelers adhere to the airline rules about electronic devices and some do not.

Airline service seems to diminish as the cost of operation and tickets goes up.

Some travelers continue to dumb-down their appearance and look like slobs; the young ones especially. Flip flops and tank tops are unacceptable traveling attire.

People pee more at altitude. Why is that?

Over stuffed carry-on luggage should not be allowed. I watched one woman try to squeeze her suitcase into an overhead bin all the while holding boarding passengers behind her from getting to their seats.

More from the desert in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Good Morning,

I will be traveling for a few days and will post when I can. Thanks for tuning in.


Monday, June 18, 2012


I sat a mall lunch table awhile back and watched the passersby. There were young mothers and their babies in a stroller usually two by two. There were old folks with canes who kept to the aisle sides for they walked more slowly than the rest. There were several groups of youngsters. Boys and girls together most in their early teens and others a little older, but they all walked and looked and shopped in packs like wolves all the while playing, running, and teasing one another.

The energy of the little walkers was wonderful to watch. The little one’s, the toddlers to the seven year types. Their energy was astounding and infectious. One little girl, not only kept up with her fast paced Mother, she twirled and leaped and danced as she kept stride.

I’d forgotten how educational it is to watch people. Most of us don’t have the time to spend to do that anymore. If you watch long enough, you see yourself at every age you can remember and at every age you can imagine.

If we ever need an example of our oneness and our interconnectedness to each other, go to a mall. Just sit and watch.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dad's Day

Ah...this Sunday is Father's Day.

When I became a father.  I cried.  It was a little embarrassing, standing there at the nursery window, the emotion of the birth manifesting in tears of wonder and awe. I was truly surprised at my reaction. When my next child was born in the same hospital. I didn't cry, for by that time I was prepared for the overwhelming joy, fun and responsibility of being a Dad.

         Through the years my eyes would tear again with the delight of accomplishment and pride as I watched my three sons grow to be men and unfold their personalities and become seekers of truths and then become Father’s themselves.

         In the dictionary the word "Father" is appropriately placed between two words. "Fathead" and "Fathom"

         I don't know of any Father who doesn’t think he’s been a fathead once or twice in rearing children.

          "Fathom", as a noun, is a measure of length, the span of two arms outstretched. The beginning of an embrace, the healing affection of a hug and one of the nicest gifts a father can receive and give for it acknowledges the equality of appreciation of one to the other.

         Happy Fathers Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day 2012

There was a time in our history when our flag was empty of experience. It had the symbolism of a United people and the expectation of greatness, but we were a young country and as yet had little collective history.

The United States wasn’t even a year old when Continental Congress adopted the design on June 14th, 1777. But now as we celebrate Flag Day today, we remember that our flag is much more than red and white cloth stripes and symbolic stars in blue.

It’s everything that’s ever happened to this country and everything we’ve ever done. It’s victory and defeat. It’s protests and pageantry. It’s honor with humility and shame with remorse. It’s living and dying for principle. It is debate and compromise. It is glory and gratitute. It is pride and it is the continuous pursuit to eliminate the prejudice within our hearts. It is the red of shared and shed blood. It is the white of divine light and it is the blue of wonder of where we can go next.

Above all our flag is the waving symbol for all the world to see of our passion for liberty, our sustaining belief in the democratic ideal, our willingness to spend life and treasure for freedom for all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Election Campaign

With the Presidential election only a few months away perhaps it is time to assess whether our leaders and would be leaders in politics and even the leader in ourselves, measure to its simple definition.

Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to create, to accomplish goals for the good of the country, the organization, or the business. Inspired leadership is accomplishments for the greater good. Political leaders like to think they are inspired, but too often, "the greater good," is replaced with partisanship.

Some people strive to be leaders, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, inspiring leadership. Whichever one is chosen, by any individual, true leadership is still based on character and character is the outward quality of one's inner being.

Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action, inspiration and difficult choices are required.

In these times of political rhetoric of constant change, of interdependency and minute interconnections, where truly the out-breath of one is the in-breath of another, leaders, in all their forms, need to look for and then act for the greater good.

Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders and the country from the potential of greatness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Listening is difficult for most people. We have somehow erroneously learned that the one who asserts, spouts or comments first is more likely to make a point, win an argument, or impress someone with alleged wit or wisdom.

Accurate and truthful communication requires clarity and simplicity and it requires listening. It means stopping to hear with a receptive mind and then processing what you heard. It’s an unfortunate condition that most people only hear what they want to hear because they don’t listen. How many of us, while looking like we are listening, are inwardly thinking of what we are going to say?

Competition in our culture puts a premium on self-expression. What we lack in knowledge, we sometimes make up for by talking fast, shouting or arguing.

Good listening is a virtue and a courtesy. It helps us to connect to the inner truth of a person. When that happens, serious conversations can go deeper. Arguments over meaningless accusations end and issues are more clearly defined and verbal conflict is reduced.

Maybe if we all listened more it would spread to the television talk and interview shows. What a concept --- LISTENING instead of interrupting!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tiananmen Continues

Some thoughts on an anniversary we ought not forget.

23- years ago last Monday the Chinese government crushed the public student expression of democracy in a place called Tiananmen Square. Some estimates say several thousand people died.

The world of early June 1989 watched the beginning of the tension and the defiance on television, but then abruptly, the signal was cut off.

To this day, the Chinese Government continues to deny that anyone but soldiers died in the weekend massacre. The collective heart of humankind, however, knows the truth and weeps.

On Wednesday of last week, Li Wangyang was found dead hanging from a window frame of a hospital ward where he was under political detention. Two days earlier he was interviewed by Hong Kong television for a feature on the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.

Li Wangyang was a activist and participated in the student uprising. He was jailed for 22-years. He started a hunger strike in prison and was tortured. Guards pulled out his teeth, blinded him and made him partially deaf.

Do you think he committed suicide after all those years of enduring pain and detention? I doubt it. He was imprisoned and probably murdered because he spoke defiantly of democratic reform in China?

There is another sadness, beyond his loss of life.  It is the continuing shame that again in the human experience, an oppressive authority, used and uses force to prevent the empowerment of the people.

Force will never conquer the desire, or the active quest for freedom in all its forms.  History validates that truth, over and over again, on the crumbled actions of failed oppression.  Truth and tolerance, compassion and education, common courtesy and common sense are the only values that will sustain a government in power and elevate the condition of its people.

Friday, June 8, 2012


There are many things we don’t understand, and then there are some things that belie common sense and common decency. Why, for instance, do we seem to have an endless need to be voyeurs into other people lives, and sometimes even after they are dead.

All too often the tabloids get a hold of a sordid story and publish the alleged assignations and private life of some celebrity. Love affairs, romantic trysts, who loved whom. Who cares. Voyeur is a French name for a Peeping Tom. Can writing about it or reading about it in tabloid or book be less perverse than peeping?

It is the memory of personal good and public grace left behind by the icons of society that should be remembered, not their private choices that may be altered by gossip or greed. Do we see ourselves as better by peering into the prurient human failings of those we celebrate? Let the sins or faults, endemic to all of us, be forever buried with our bones. Remember only the good someone does for that will honor life, not defile it.

May the understanding of personal choices be acknowledged by the eternal Source of unconditional love and not vilified by those who are rudely nosy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


In my motoring travels I often choose to take the back roads of America. It puts me through the small towns and villages of America. Since I'm not driving fast, in those places, I can notice the street names. So many of them are named after trees, flowers, fruits and shrubs.

Maple Street, Oak Street, Pine Street, Willow Place, Cypress Street, Holly Circle, Honeysuckle Lane, Cherry Avenue, Orange Street, Rose Street and Spruce Loop.

Why not include the lesser liked plants, trees and vine?. Why not a Weed Avenue, Poison Ivy Lane, Mold Circle, Dandelion Drive and Sumack Avenue. You never hear of a Swamp Hollow or Nutty Drive. Who wants to live on those streets?

Even the names of people have a connotation that is either positive or negative. The study of proper names is called onomatology. Very few parents today name their kids Tucinalda or Furlough or Rolland.

AND why not whats wrong with those names?


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Day 2012

It is an anniversary today. A terrible remembrance of sacrifice and courage. It is D-day, June 6th, the storming of the beaches in Normandy, France in an operation called "Overlord". I was there on the June 6th, 1999 anniversary with six veterans who had not been back since they fought and crawled on those beaches in 1944.

What follows is a poem I wrote to conclude the documentary broadcast on WRNN.

“Lest we forget.”
© 1999 Rolland G. Smith

It was the day and the month the warriors returned
To the place where many died, the dawn the beaches burned.
The hard of then, now softened by the passage of the years.
It freed again the feelings that surfaced with the tears.

The mind and step would falter returning to the scene
Their bodies now are different. The beaches now pristine.
So many came to witness the warriors return
And wondered if their courage was something they could learn.

Valor comes in time of need, for courage is within
When tyranny oppresses it rises once again.
Old warriors we thank you, for life and limb you gave
To hold the sacred honor of the free and the brave.

You came from planes and gliders and from the ships at sea
And moved across the beaches to free French Normandy.
You now return to see, the place of battle fears
The combat dead now hold you and wipe away your tears.

The world too rejoices in thanks for how you fought
It weeps for lives that lost and too for lessons taught.
And if there is a legacy, besides long rows of white,
Let it be a world call, never the need to fight.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The War of 1812

The preamble of this post is yeaterday's epistle.
I was billed at the conference as, not only as an American journalist, but a poet...a moniker I like.
My opening remarks for the gather fit the introduction.

The War of 1812
© 2012 Rolland G. Smith

Two hundred years have come an gone
And still we talk about a fight.
Instead of peace and man's a song
And countries know what's wrong and right.

Perhaps our families took up arms
to harm the other in a fight.
It happened on the lakes and farms
Both here and there and in Detroit.

But when twas done and peace was signed
Twas noithing gained and much as lost.
So many souls left dead or blind
A needless war and tragic cost.

Not one side lost and no one won
Just people died to hold the fort
And all because of Madison
An ill-thought war with lives cut short.

But there's a side called "another."
A Shawnee Chief of noble birth.
Tacumsa and his prophet brother
Fought to defend their sacred earth.

But they were left, as red man knows
To stand along without support
Despite the promise and the prose.
The white man always did distort.

But that was then and this is now.
Today we have a common ground.
It's time for us to pledge and vow
The quest for peace is what's profound.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Muskoka Chautauqua

I’ve just spent a few days in Muskoka, Canada attending a conference of the Muskoka Chautauqua organization.

The theme of the weekend was the war of 1812. It has been called the United States second war of independence by some historians. We declared war on Great Britain to stop impressment of American merchant seamen into the Royal navy at least that’s what we said.

We really wanted to annex portions of Canada as United States territory and expand westward into Indian land, but when the war ended nearly three years later it was a stalemate. Nobody won, just a lot of people died. Sound familiar?

Britain needed able-bodied sailors at that time. They were fighting Napoleon in France and stealing (impressing) seaman seemed easier than recruiting them.

President Madison got congress to declare war. An action that is a constitutional requirement for a declaration of war, but we haven’t done that very often in the 20th or the 21st century.

Since this month is the 200th anniversary of the war it seemed like an appropriate topic.

Richard Gwyn a Canadian author, political columnist and an award-winning biographer was there as was John Ibbitson, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Globe and Mail, political correspondent and also an award-winning author.

Steve Paikin a broadcast journalist, author, producer and host of TVO’s The Agenda was an excellent moderator.

I think I was the token “yank,” but I had fun and enjoyed the lively exchanges of who won, who didn’t win, what if and so on.

In tomorrow’s post I’ll share my opening thoughts on the war of 1812. 
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