Thursday, February 22, 2018

Good Grief

From where do these people come?

"A Florida legislator’s aide was fired Tuesday after claiming two survivors of the Parkland high school shooting were not students, but instead “actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”"

Apparently he saw a clip on a YouTube conspiracy site.

We may be born ignorant, but you'd think that by the time you are an adult you'd have developed some discernment. Sensitivity might come in another lifetime.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Path to Greatness

I had an extraordinary experience many years ago. I was on Ellis Island in New York harbor. If you haven’t been there, you should visit it and wonder.

It is a place that is energized by the resonant memory of the past.

It’s an exhilarating experience standing in what is now the Ellis Island museum. I felt the courageous spirits of our immigrant ancestors and profound respect for their courage to embrace unknown change. So many moved step by step through the great hall on their way to liberty.

When I was there amid the din of other people and soft conversation. I walked the path and steps that 18-million immigrants followed. I felt their hearts with each step and stop on the stairs. I sensed the pride at what they accomplished, and at what this country has become because of them and what we still can be.

These ghosts of greatness still linger there, not because they came through that portal of liberty so many years ago, but because they returned to stand watch. Their presence is everywhere, in old photographs, in hundred-year-old scribbled messages to loved ones on a passage wall, and in the descendants, who visit there and keep it hallowed ground.

Ellis island reminds us that it does not matter how or where or when potential greatness comes to this land, it only matters what one does with the manifesting dreams of freedom, opportunity, and responsibility.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Go, kids!

Go, kids!

#Neveragain

Rally, demonstrate, demand. We are behind you. We, the generations who have gone before, support you. We, your parents, your grand-parents know you are right to demand a stop to the automatic weapons of mass destruction.

The right to bear arms is sacred and the concrete credo of our granite foundations, that will always remain. It is not the issue. The right, however, to kill children in schools or anyone in a pubic assembly is not.

Slaughter can no longer be a path to infamy for the mentally deranged or the terrorist. The young of America will take their demands to the malleable weak and greed takers of Congress. It will echo in those marble halls until it vibrates through the rooms and offices of the people's house and change is made.

It is time for "never again." It is time for the youth of America to stand and band together. It is time for all generations to speak truth to power and end the carnage in our schools.

Go, kids! We are with you.

Friday, February 16, 2018

School Shooting!

I published the following post on Facebook yesterday and with some addendum I put out today on this blog.

How do we switch, so quickly, from acknowledging the tragedy that happened in Florida, to our everyday lives, or to watching the Olympics or enjoying a family gathering or doing homework or preparing dinner? It's an unreal transition. 
The school shooting in Florida in which so many innocents were taken from us so quickly and so violently is only the latest incident. Eighteen school incidents so far this year alone. We learn about them, we cry, we shake our heads, and then after we are informed, we try to get on with our lives. It's not easy; it is surreal, it is almost immoral to try.
I have lost a child and a spouse. Not to the violence of guns and hate, but to the insidious debilitation of cancer. I had time to say goodbye. The parents of Florida's victims did not. A kiss, a hug, an uttered "I love you," said in haste as the front door closed will never be enough. Rapid goodbyes with death as an ending will never have closure. 
The resulting emptiness of loss, the righteous anger, the wailed questions of why, the flowing wet tears will eventually decrease, but the lingering dry tears of the heart will last for years.
When children kill other children; it is an adult social pathogen that has infected them. We need to fix it.
Addendum:
All of us need to fix it. The gun-rights people, Congress, parents, students, liberals,  conservatives, independent, the religious, wall-street,  businesses, The President, everybody. It is time. Do not let it pass into yesterday's or last week's news, do not wait for the mourning to stop, it won't, NOW IS THE TIME.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Continuing Questions

Another school shooting. Students and faculty dead.  It's the 18th school shooting this year, and it's only mid-February.

Congress does nothing.

Why?

The top spy agency heads warn that Russia will continue to influence the 2018 elections with lies, false news and more and the White House has not directed we do something to stop it.

Why?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Be My Valentine

Some thoughts on this Valentines Day.

Could we possibly be victims of a manufactured holiday, perpetrated by the greeting card, florists, and candy companies?

It would be nice if all the expressions of affection bandied about today were to last more than just today. Imagine having less argument and more communication, more love and less selfishness every day.

Valentine's day wasn't started by the marketing merchants of hype; they only take advantage of our sentimentality. The early Christian church proclaimed this event to counter a pagan festival that had a little too much celebration and debauchery for the ascetic beliefs of that time.

Why the church leaders chose Valentine to be their champion of love, no one knows for sure.

Historically it may be a strange choice. The Valentine, who became the saint and iconic surrogate lover for this day was beheaded for his beliefs and became a martyr.

Maybe it is appropriate to name the day after him...people do tend to lose their heads when in love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Dictionary and the hands of time.

As I watched the news from the White House tonigh, I picked up a dictionary to look up a word. As I held the book, I looked closely at my hands. A visual reminder that I am in the September of my seventh decade. Some wrinkles, some protruding veins, some blemishes outside, but inside all-over it doesn't feel any different than my thirties. My mind, however, is acute, discerning and curious.

I looked up my word and put the book down, but it opened to the "O's."

There on the page was the word, "obfuscation." My glasses fell off, and there I thought I saw in blurry clarity the meaning.

ob·fus·ca·tion
ˌäbfəˈskāSH(ə)n/
noun

1. the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.

The second, third and fourth meanings were names.

Kelley Ann Conway
Sara Huckabee Sanders
Donald Trump

Under See Also: It listed the following agency

a. EPA



I put my glasses back on, and the book closed.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rain

We had a big rain come through my neighborhood yesterday.

The skies darkened from solid clouds to a roiling gray. In some moments the wind intensified as it twisted, twirled, and gusted sending fallen leaves back up into the barren tree branches only to fall again. A pelting rain punctuated the perpetual passage. It lasted all daylight.

The sight through my picture window was mesmerizing and deeply spiritual in the ever-present portal to nature. It reminded me of a passage in The Immortal Wilderness, by the late naturalist John Hay.

He wrote: “There are occasions when you can hear the mysterious language of the Earth, in water, or coming through the trees, emanating from the mosses, seeping through the undercurrents of the soil, but you have to be willing to wait and receive.”

If you’ve never tasted the aroma of a pine forest after a summer rain, you are missing a Divine connection to the Source. If you’ve never sat in a scented blooming rose garden, or watched a stubble hay field fill up with snow or just listened to the wind in the silence of a moonlight walk. You are missing what Mr. Hay is talking about.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Celtic Comfort

I just listened to an old Irish folk tune that had the refrain of "the cares of tomorrow must wait 'til this day is done."

It had some beautiful verses and some mournful tones, but it always ended with, "the cares of tomorrow must wait 'til this day is done."

Several years ago I spent some time in Ireland since that culture was part of my upbringing. My mother played the piano, and when family and guest would gather, she played the old Celtic tunes, and everybody sang.

After I returned from the Emerald Isle, my muse required several poems. Here's one.

Ireland of My Youth
© 2006 Rolland G. Smith

I came to find the Ireland of my youth
When songs of troubled times and ballads sad
Were sung by family friends who knew the truth
In dispassion's glance and famine's hard bad.
Some tunes were lively songs of memories old
And others brought a tear from thoughts within.
But each was sung with strength of heart and soul
As gathered guests recalled their origin.
Now here I am today on Patrick's Isle
To see anew the Irish spirit bold
And still, the songs are sung in Celtic style
With tenor's pipes in singing rhythmic brogue.
The Ireland of my youth, I knew from song
But here, now aged, I know where I belong.


.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Morning Sun!

The morning orb of light ascends to all
Who choose to see its rays from deep within.
Beyond the clouds of doubt and evening's fall 
There shines a knowing thought that must begin.

So many times in life we tread the path
Below the canopy of spirit’s light.
How many times have we ignored the lash
Of truth to stay as dogma’s parasite?

Live in the now beneath the sphere of grace
And let all judgments go to where they end
And know that all we see, is in its place
Despite the fact we may not comprehend.

Rejoice my friends, the world’s bathed in love
We see it clearly, in the light above.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Treason?

To state that Democrats not applauding  some aspects of his State of the Union address is treasonous is demagogic, dumbfounding, delusional and troublesome.

Where are the Berry Goldwaters of  this generation? Goldwater when to the White House as Watergate progressed and told Nixon it was time to go. 

If McConnell and Ryan won't speak reason to power; some Republican in Congress must have the integrity to put country over party. Republican Jeff Flake did a great job on the Senate floor yesterday, but his republican colleagues have yet to rally to his denouncement of Trump.

Democrats! You too are not immune to partisanship. It's country first, people second and party third. Trump's egocentric whines, whims and wants last, if ever.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Superbowl 52

Some limerick thoughts on the Superbowl.

With pride, the fans come to the bowl,
thinking their team will control
the ball on the ground
in the air all around
to the other, the bell will toll.

The bowl is the ultimate game,
Teams getting their fortune and fame.
Bowl fifty and two
And sacks too few
Will next year the teams be the same?

The Eagles from Philly did fight
The Pats of Boston of might.
The temperatures fine;
Inside at this time
As Brady and Foles do excite

Now today with hindsight and woes
and healing of scrimmaging blows.
No media hype.
Here and there, a snipe.
The losers, their bragging, will stow.

In this life of struggle and fears,
In this time of laughter and tears.
We need this big game,
To help us stay sane
And Wisconsin sent us the cheers.

The season is over and done.
The fans celebrating who won.
The game is the thing
By hoping to bring,
A time of competitive fun.

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Nuclear Weapons?

A great disappointment!

From the Washington Post...

"The Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending the previous administration's efforts to shrink the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the changes reflect a need to “look reality in the eye” and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”

Mr. Mattis, the world is what you have created; what we have created. If we wish it to be otherwise, then it would be so. The energy of thought creates what we experience.

More weapons are not the answer. Fewer weapons everywhere is the solution. Shame on our blindness and your arrogance.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Lee Rolland Smith

Yesterday was the birthday of my third son, Lee Rolland Smith. He died of brain cancer. He would have been fifty years old.

It was not a sad day for me for I believe he finished what he came here to do and is now doing what he is supposed to do now.

It was a reflective and solemn day for me. I was not with him when he was born for I was reporting from Vietnam. I was with him when he died; a place no father or mother should ever be.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Presidents

I am writing about Presidents because I just watched the State of the Union. I'm thinking about Benjamin Harrison because I used to live and work in Indianapolis, Indiana.

President Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. He was born in 1833. The folks in Indianapolis, Indiana are proud of little Ben. He was called that because of his short stature. He was 5 foot, six inches tall.

He was a one-term president. He served from 1889 to 1893, and he gets skipped over in the history books.

A lot was accomplished during his administration. The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted during his term. Six states, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and North and South Dakota, were admitted to the union when Harrison was president.

Harrison was known as a Civil War hero and has been called the father of the modern navy. The Sherman antitrust act was passed during his tenure, and he was a staunch environmentalist. 17 National Parks were created during his four years. Not bad for a little known President.

He was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison and that provided campaign fodder for the Democrats. It must have bothered little Ben for he once said in a speech, “I want it understood that I am the grandson of nobody. I believe that every man should stand on his own merits.”

It is interesting to note that he received 100-thousand fewer popular votes than his opponent Grover Cleveland, but carried the Electoral College 233 to 168. Florida didn’t have chads then. Skulduggery again!

Incidentally, one time, in honor of his birthday sesquicentennial the city of Indianapolis ordered a statue of him sandblasted clean. It was the first cleaning in 75 years.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sunday morning

Have you ever spent a Sunday morning choosing where you'd like to spend the morning? Those of us lucky enough to have a home of several rooms could make that choice.

Sunday morning, you could stay in bed, settle in your favorite chair, or, like me, go someplace I usually don't go.

The living room!

So the title of this post ought to be, "Spending Sunday where I usually don't go."

I have a beautiful living room. It is festooned with art and plants, comfortable chairs, big windows with the morning sun, appropriate decorations, and a modern looking sofa with fluffy pillows coordinated to amplify a sub-dominant tint splashing the room with color. Yellow and the sun vie for splendor.

I spent a lingering morning there on Sunday, and it was glorious. Memories flowed from every vibrant point in the room. The corner where a Christmas Tree once stood. I'm sure I heard the laughter of grand-kids. A papaya covered etagere; each shelf holds artifacts of a long-ago travel memory. A curving sofa gave up echoes of told stories, uproarious laughter and the sent of a friend or two who had no place to stay or just couldn't make it home after a little too much of too much.

There was music too; hidden on the shelves behind a rising electric mirror in a black lacquer console. Symphonies, songs, and ballads evoked a dance, a duet, a touch or a kiss.

I must spend more time in the living room.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Memories

Do you remember when nobody you knew owned a purebred dog? Remember when you’d get a half hour on the parking meter for a penny. When your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces. Well dressed men wore hats. You got dressed up for travel and church. Laundry detergent had free gifts inside the box. Jelly jars were kept as everyday glases when they were empty. Fly paper. 

Do you remember when your parents friends were always called Mr. and Mrs. How about memories of Laurel and Hardy, Howdy Dowdy, The Lone Ranger, Nellie Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk. Hoot Gibson, Tom Manard and Bob Steel. The evening news was fifteen minutes long. TV test patterns, John Cameron Swayze, Murphy Martin and H. B. Kaltenborn and Westbrook Van Voorhis

Remember Candy cigarettes, wax bottles of coke with colored sugar water inside, a cup of coffee was a nickel and so was a song on the jukebox. Remember washtub wringers, mimeograph paper, Beanie and Cecil, Studebakers, Edsels, and rumble seats, The Fuller Brush man, penny candy and at the gas station you got your oil checked, windows cleaned and air in your tires all for a dollars worth of gas. Five dollars filled the tank.  

I remember.

Friday, January 26, 2018

True then, truer now!

If you look for it, you will find truths in a lot of places. A few years ago Gary Shapiro, President, and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. Wrote a piece entitled, “Has Politics Trumped Truth?” for Forbes.

He makes solid and perfect points. Even the prophetic title is not lost on today's political rhetoric.

To wit:

“America used to be good a facts – real good. Baseball, replete with hard statistics, was our favorite sport, and we used its hard data to argue who was the best at it. Our reliance on facts also attracted the world’s best scientists, engineers, doctors, and researchers. We studied and reported and arrived at mutually agreed on facts. And we knew that when our government made statements, and our trusted network news anchors reported them, you could take these facts to the bank.

But we changed. Facts and data have become less relevant, especially in Washington. Americans now choose their news more on the opinions of the news providers than on the fact-gathering skills and objectivity of the reporters. We no longer want to be challenged by facts; we want to be reassured in our biases.”

BRAVO! Mr. Shapiro

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tradesmen and women

I pondered last night what I should write about in today's post. I asked myself what did I learn today that might be of value and comment.

Immediately, I thought of a young man who came to my house to upgrade my video-television choices. It was a scheduled appointment, and he was well qualified. He went to school, worked with others who were skilled in his technical field and then he had to pass a test, and now he's on his own for a major company.

I thought, not everyone needs a diploma of parchment to find success. The trades are just as a rewarding skill as a college degree and, in fact, sometimes more so. We all need plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, mechanics, roofers, masons, chefs and all-around handymen and women.

It brought to mind a story I just heard from a young college graduate friend. He said recently he and several of his high-school classmates met for a ten-year high-school get-to-together. They chose an inexpensive place to meet since nobody had the money for a fancy restaurant.  When they got to the meeting place, there waiting was a stretch limo that took them all to a high-end restaurant to celebrate.

Of the ten guys, only one had not gone to college. He had hired the limo as a gift to the others. He was a tradesman and the only one who could afford the limo and the restaurant.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Another fantasy!

I wonder what an old-fashioned newscast would be like today?

You know, a newscast that had just the main ingredients. The top stories, the feature stories and the news stories that contain only the who, what, where, when and why (if known).

I know cable station panels are not newscasts, but they often appear to the viewer that way. Some of the questions asked on these panels of pundits are valid questions, but they should be asked to the main people, not just to the experts who are only offering conjecture, educated opinions, and what-if theories. The lawyers are the ones who can answer questions regarding "the law" in a what-if situation, but the political analysis is always subject to the disclosed and undisclosed beliefs to the perceived experts.

Yes, their former or current jobs give them legitimacy and expertise in conjecture, and that's fair for analysis, but it's not the same as asking the protagonist.

As far as the main people are concerned I understand protecting one's proverbial "ass." Nobody wants to go to jail for lying, obstructing, or cheating on their taxes even though more people do it that you can imagine. Could we eliminate the legal obfuscation? All we have to do is place a suspect in a room, turn on a lie-detector, ask the questions and get on with our lives and maybe a new government. If the fifth is taken, so be it. It does give you an idea of where truth is hiding. It's got to be a lot cheaper than what we are doing now. Ah...the fantasy!



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Genetic Heritage

There are kits available to test your DNA.

I did mine. 60% Irish, 22% English-Scot, 11% Scandinavian and the rest traces of middle European.

Eighteen years ago scientists found a way to decode the 3.1 billion subunits of DNA.

The subunits are called base pairs, and they make up the double helix of the deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. The genetic instruction of what makes us unique. It's what makes me and you and us.

One section of the original announcement reminded me of the fallibility of humankind.

It said, "most of the base pairs of DNA between genes have no known function and scientists commonly refer to these pairs as Junk DNA."

No known function! So we label them junk! With all due respect to the scientists who worked so hard on this decoding, calling them junk, just because we don't know what they do, smacks of human intellectual arrogance.

To me, it goes into the category of the flat earth proponents and the early scientists who thought the sun revolved around the earth.

Wouldn't it be nice if someday they discovered the junk pairs were the stem instructions for the human attributes of grace, elegance, courtesy, kindness, and compassion?

Monday, January 22, 2018

John Coleman

I just learned that a former colleague of mine died. His name is John Coleman. He was a weatherman par excellence. A founder of the Weather Channel. An icon of weather science who took the road less traveled. A man of humor and intellect. An excellent conversationalist of interest and a stalwart defender of his beliefs.

John was a gentleman in both his professional and personal life, a man of integrity, ethics, and laughter.  My thoughts and prayers go to his family.

For me, it is that time of life when your friends and associates start the passage we all will make someday. It is a condition of aging.

Having professional memories and personal friendships is like having a garden of flowers that come back year after year and are robust and soothing. But any friendship, like flowers, need the watering of connection. A lot of us forget that as we get older, and passing is a profound reminder.

We come into the world, share our talents, we struggle, we succeed, we change, we live a little, laugh a little and then we are called home.

I know a truth that life continues, and someday hence we will meet again for only the body dies.

Friday, January 19, 2018

House-keeping stuff

Some things that need to be acknowledged.

Thank You, Senator Jeff Flake, for your commentary on President Trump from the Senate Floor. Bravo!

When are we going to see congressional patriots and statesmen and stateswomen come forth and decry the daily dirt that surfaces on and about Mr. Trump and his political and business dealings?

Perhaps when elephants fly.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Snows of Life

It is cold here in the Northeast. If fact it's cold almost everywhere the last few days. Where I live we are digging out from Wednesday's significant snow. It was a fluffy snow so it's not to hard to shovel.

Life is a lot like that. We get some storms that are heavy and hard where the emotional shovels and medical plows have difficulty removing the burden. Then, at times, we get the light stuff that frightens us before we assess the accumulation and ascertain that it wasn't as bad as we thought and we worried about nothing.

I can't tell you how many times the emotion of a "snow" cancer scare moved through my family's lives and the lives of friends and neighbors. The specifics are not necessary for this post but tangential to the snow metaphor.

Doctors, by training,  must present all sides of potential possibilities or, at least, an educated prognosis of cancer or illness path. It's never an absolute, but it is a possibility, and we the family and the patient must absorb and assimilate the information to the best of our abilities, and then the patient must take responsibility for his or her total health, and the family must embrace the patient's choice as sacred.

Eventually, for some, the warmth of healing melts the fear of the unknown. In the end, we all embrace the inevitable and rejoice in the knowledge that each of us, in time, are, and will be, going home. It's a hard acceptance, but really what more could we ask?

Be well.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Fantasy, but profound

Some things you read in life are so powerful they must be shared. The following is one of them. I first read this a few years ago and every once in awhile it surfaces to the top of the internet email circuit.

I love it and I hope you do too.


I dreamed I had an interview with God.
“So you would like to interview me?” God asked.
“If you have the time” I said.
God smiled. “My time is eternity.”
“What questions do you have in mind for me?”
“What surprises you most about humankind?”
God answered…
“That they get bored with childhood,
they rush to grow up, and then
long to be children again.”
“That they lose their health to make money…
and then lose their money to restore their health.”
“That by thinking anxiously about the future,
they forget the present,
such that they live in neither
the present nor the future.”
“That they live as if they will never die,
and die as though they had never lived.”
God’s hand took mine
and we were silent for a while.
And then I asked…
“As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons
you want your children to learn?”
“To learn they cannot make anyone
love them. All they can do
is let themselves be loved.”
“To learn that it is not good
to compare themselves to others.”
“To learn to forgive
by practicing forgiveness.”
“To learn that it only takes a few seconds
to open profound wounds in those they love,
and it can take many years to heal them.”
“To learn that a rich person
is not one who has the most,
but is one who needs the least.”
“To learn that there are people
who love them dearly,
but simply have not yet learned
how to express or show their feelings.”
“To learn that two people can
look at the same thing
and see it differently.”
“To learn that it is not enough that they
forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.”
“Thank you for your time,” I said humbly.
“Is there anything else
you would like your children to know?”
God smiled and said,
“Just know that I am here… always.”

-author unknown


Sent from my iPad

Monday, January 15, 2018

A gift to any politican running for Congress

This is a free speech for any politician who chooses to run for Congress.

My friends, my neighbors, my fellow Americans. I am running to be your representative in what was once the most magnificent deliberative body in the history of the world. I am running as a (choose one) Let me be clear; I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat; I am not an Independent, I am a concerned citizen of this great country, and I am running as an American who is willing to serve the greater good, not the party. I may have a party label because our current system only allows for two major parties and a few independent labels. We need other choices, but that’s for another time.

Here is my platform.

Fairness for all. Cooperation with all shades of opinion.

A promise to serve only one term in the Senate or two terms in the House. To generate support and pass term limits. To solicit a congressional vote to move congresses pension and health care back to what the average American must endure with social security and the current Medicare. To remove Congress as an exclusive club. To always be honest. To be courteous, cooperative, and combative for the common man and women, to be true to the founding values of our forefathers or any president who stood for principle over party.

Here is my phone number. I will call you back. Not In an hour, or a day, but soon as I can. Here is a litany of my affiliations and why I attach myself to them. Here are my weaknesses and perceived flaws and my perceived strengths. I will serve as an American, not for a political party. Vote for me if you have the courage.

Call me if you have any questions.

Thankfullness

I had left-overs for dinner last night, and it was filling and fine. It was a simple meal, but ample and nourishing.

Up not a fan of left-overs, but with every bite, I thought of those throughout the world who didn't have left-overs to eat or where starvation is a constant worry. So many count the grains of rice for the pot to feed a family and deal with the ache of hunger as the body eats itself in a wrenching pain to stay alive.

My simple meal was to millions of souls around the world, a feast.

I had the pharmacy fill my prescriptions the other day. There are millions in the world who have no access to even simple medical treatments let alone to modern medicines to cure or prevent.

To get the same medical expertise, most of the world would have to walk for days or suffer in place.

I have a nice home. Good neighbors. I have heat, electricity, and freedom from fear. I know millions love their families, but who have no permanent home without the hostile and real intrusion of fear, and war.

With all these realizations, there comes a moment when I ask the question, “Why me?” “Why do I have so much and so many have so little?”

I don’t know the full answer and I suspect I never will until I get to the other side. I do know that even though there is no complete answer to my question, there is self-realization that appears when the question is asked, and they lead the way, not only to an appreciation of what I do have but to the responsibilities that go with the abundance.

Giving from substance.

Compassion and aid to those who suffer.

Tolerance of other’s beliefs.

Awareness of need.

Perhaps all of us who live in abundance should think of these things more often.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Saying "shit" on the air.


In the last 24 hours, I heard the word used as a quote, either spoken or written, or used once and then referred to the, “S” word so the nuance would be clear, on all the television networks, both broadcast and cable quoting the President of the United States referring to countries like Haiti and El Salvador.

I think our national puritanical under-garments are showing. We are not too far removed from those pilgrim beginnings. When I was a youngster and even into my teens, my Mother would not tolerate vulgarity in our house-hold. I never heard my Father use any vulgar words unless it was outside the home and then only rarely.

Me? (Sorry Mom), I use them often in expletives at other drivers, (my friends will attest to that). I use them when I see cruelty to humans and animals, at comments about congressional irresponsibility and when I slam my thumb when closing the dish-washer.

My Mother used to say when she did something that required an expletive, “phish-posh and piddle paddles.” I tried it once, but it never worked for me.

The way Mr. Trump used the term was not presidential and internationally offensive. The way some of the media reported the quote needs to be modernized. Get over it!






Thursday, January 11, 2018

America - Wake Up!

Never before have we had a President lie, obfuscate, delude and misinform as we have now.
Never before have we had a President create such confusion and consternation as we have now.
Never before have we had a President so not respected in the litany of world leaders.
Never before have we had a President create chaos in the daily White House as we have now.
Never before have we had a President say he will, and then he won't or say he won't then he will on numerous issues.
Never before have we had a President who refuses to reveal his personal and business finances.
Never before have we had a President who calls those with whom he disagrees derogatory names. Never before have we had a man in our top leadership position who promised to drain the political swamp, but instead fills it with muck and mire.

I know some of my friends supported this man in his quest to become president. I understood then their desire to see change, their hope for a better political world; I do not understand now how after a one year in office anyone can continue to support a man who is so devious, so ego-centric, and so anti-ethical American.

I want change too, but not at the expense of democracy, decency, and the deportation of innocents.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Young and Old

Hey Seniors, if you ever get a chance to spend some quality time with young people I would recommend that you do so. Most of us elders forget what it was like when we were in our teens and twenties. We think we remember, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t. We remember the essence of being young, but not the specifics and the particularity. Our imaginations remember better than what it is in reality.

I was a teenager in the mid-50’s. The time of James Dean, the actor not the singer. The time of Elvis, hotrods, fallout shelters, Yankees dominating the American League pennant race, Black Jack gum, Howdy Dowdy, Glass soda pop bottles, fifty-cent movies.  Captain Video, I love Lucy and cigarette ads all over the television, magazines, and newspapers, Ed Sullivan on Sunday night TV and Edward R. Murrow on CBS.

We had our wars too. Korea was prominent, but the death and dying of American troops were not. It was just as tragic as today and numerous, but we didn’t know about it for weeks or months. The media’s technology had not yet developed enough to share instantaneous information.

Today’s teens know who their entertainment and social heroes are, and they are environmentally aware, and most young diligently recycle. Their cognitive powers are far more advanced than mine was as a teenager.

They are conscious of their sugar intake, and they have heaps of information from computers and iPods available to them to augment their interests, amplify their studies and their hopes and wishes.

Margaret Mead, the noted anthropologist, recommended that the old and the young spend time together. She posited that time together encourages each to acknowledge the other in themselves. She concluded it forms a new agreement between generations.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The touch of Sunshine

I had a profound awareness the other morning as I sat in a chair next to an Easterly window. The sun rose without morning cloudiness to obscure or dilute its light. I was reading a book while the early morning light bathed my shoulders with its warmth through double glazed windows.

I paused in my reading and thought of my old friend, singer, entertainer, actor, activist and environmentalist John Denver and his song, “Sunshine On My Shoulders.”

I replayed in my mind his many gifts to the world.

John was a poet, a singer of songs, a friend to many, an idol of millions the world over. He died in a plane crash in October 1997.  We continue to honor our friend with personal memories of his laughter and his profound intellect.

We remember his public gifts of song and self, his harmonies of love and nature, his vision for a sustainable future and all of the joys of life he shared through an extraordinary ability to entertain.  His songs would take us to places where troubles couldn't reach, at least for a while. His lyrics encouraged us to seek a higher ground, a metaphor for a better way. His hugs were special for they were given without condition and his smile personified his spirit and his love of life and humankind.

I think now we celebrate his life without the salt of sadness, and that's right, but we still miss him. We all come into this world, make choices, make sacrifices, laugh a little, love a little, cry a little and learn through experience that the real importance of life is to share our gifts, to be true to ourselves and to make the world a bit better place to live.

I hope I have more sunshine on my shoulders soon. I like the memories it engenders.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Turning 80! Oh! Not me, yet.

As I write this, I am listening to “A Te, O Cara,” from the opera “I Puritani” by Bellini. It is one of my favorite selections of all Operas, with the possible exception of Puccini’s “O Soave Fanciulla” in La Boheme.

Having said that and the fact that this post has nothing to do with the music I am listening to, but everything to do with the generation of comfort, I suppose they are minutely and mystically connected.

I recently returned from a gathering of elders and almost elders celebrating the 80th birthday of a mutual friend.

I looked around the long table of aging friends and felt privileged being in their company for they are all successful and accomplished gentlemen either active or retired in their chosen professions.

It mattered not that we were all friends from previous outings and experiences. At the moment of dining and libation, we were all equal colleagues and acquaintances joyfully celebrating a singular and unique moment in another’s life.

My mind moved to what some mystics call “the sacred moment of being,” and I rejoiced at the moment, the feeling of freedom, the wonder of expectation and the knowing that connection is instantaneous and fleeting in this density and time, but eternal elsewhere.

I will see these souls again here, if that is given to me to experience and if not here somewhere else in the eternity of being. Trying to fathom that moment in a restaurant bar with glasses clanking and dishes rattling, and ambient laughter is at best awkward, but possible if one genuinely lives in the moment.

Friday, January 5, 2018

History

You know that famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware? It’s inaccurate. He crossed the Delaware, but the painting is of the Rhine River. The painting by 19th century American Painter, German-born Emanuel Leutze was painted in Dusseldorf, Germany and the Rhine River was used as a model.

Even allowing for an artistic license, the painting has its share of errors. The American flag in the painting shows thirteen stars and stripes. George crossed the Delaware the day after Christmas in 1776. The flag design was not adopted until 1777.

Leutze's painting also shows Washington in a rather small boat. Actually, Durham boats were used. They were 40 to 60-foot long flat bottom boats used to transport freight on America’s Northeast rivers.

The painting could not show what George did after he crosses the river. The enemy was encamped at Trenton. The Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall was snug in his headquarters. Christmas was celebrated with cheer and some card playing.

Colonel Rall told his aides – no interruptions. When a loyalist spy rushed into camp with word that Washington had crossed the Delaware, the aides made him write it down on a piece of paper. A porter brought it to the Colonel. He stuffed it into his pocket and went back to his cards.

Hours later Washington’s forces open fire on the surprised enemy camp. The battle was short. The entire Hessian army encampment surrendered. Colonel Rall was mortally wounded. The note still stuffed in his pocket.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tis Cold, Yes?

It’s early morning. Temperature is six degrees with light snow expected. I have a fire going and feeling safe after a cold winter’s night.

A log fire dissolves its way to ash giving back the heat and light of many seasons' growth. Fluid flames dance in a flickering grace of form and orange light. Heat is the result. Light a soft byproduct.

A few feet away is cold. It is a stinging cold with only a window glass to hold it back. It’s double glass, a bulwark of silica that another temperature and time turned into a transparent glazing of clarity and protection.

I grew up in old houses with single panes of flawed glass. Frost would decorate the panes into a translucent crystal of art, but not now. Modern houses are too tight for nature’s cryogenic beauty to seep in and paint the panes with a cameo of cold. Too bad! How many kids today will miss the vision of feathered frost on the inside of a windowpane where they can scratch their design into the thin sheet of ice crystals.

Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Book of Silence




There are places of extreme quiet, where silence and nothing are one, and you cannot tell them apart. Places where only nature speaks and her sound is deafening as no other audible intrusion is near.

One place is on a silent river. Where portions neither ripple nor descend through roaring   cataracts but carry liquid volumes in the stillness of deep flows and where it is far enough away from man’s modern concoctions that the only thing you hear are your thoughts.

If you’ve never been to such a place and find yourself in one, there will come wonderment, revelation, a spiritual attunement, and a surprise appreciation of a sentient nature that only stillness engenders. 

The first time I experienced such silence was on the Green River in Utah as I floated in a quiet eddy pool and found myself in involuntary prayer with nature whose sacristy I had entered and remained by choice of benevolent thought.

The second time was at night alone at the edge of a lake in the Allagash wilderness of Maine. The stars have a noticeable brilliance when civilization is far away. They also have a sound that man rarely hears for we occupy a space of noise and hustle in the Cosmos of life.

The third I often experience for I live nearby. It is on the Wallkill River in New York. When my Kayak drifts on the silent surface, I embrace the Oneness and silence of All That Is.

I know that science has learned much from exploring the vast cacophony of the heavens. I know that religions promote silence to reach the unreachable. I know that the stillness of winter creates a frigid cocoon and a constricting density.

What I didn’t know until I experienced it was the gift that nature’s silence gives the listener. I found too that robust laughter needs no sound and God needs no dogma. 
 
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