Archive for July 2014

“THE CHILDREN” – ANOTHER WILD BUNCH?

July 30, 2014

Hello.       Meet The Children at a border retention camp  –

Children 17 yr olds

Might as well.   As you know, they’re invading our southern border with impunity.   (An estimated 70% of The Children are unaccompanied 13-18 yr. old males.)    Soon, according to reports,  our Rulers will give The Children work permits.    5,000,000 to 9,000,000 green cards.

Uh.    Do they look ready for work?

The Children are bought and paid for in Central America and Mexico, then sent forth on their northern trek, with instructions in their pockets to say they are scared or hungry or looking for their parents.

Children

Uh-huh.

And then The Children are sent to an American . . .
Children compassionately sending

. . . American I don’t know.    This is not the way a sovereign nation receives immigrants, so I don’t know what to call this.   Maybe Incubators.    Incubators of Resentment.   Incubators for Diseases of the Mind and Body.

Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch of outlaws may seem quaint and picturesque compared to the potential Wild Bunches in our near future.

As astonishing as all this is, it is even more astonishing that American citizens feel so weak and defeated that they don’t  know what to do about it.

The Greater Picture is so unfamiliar to most of us,  but it’s truly coming into focus now, more and more.    This invasion of foreigners (of all ages) into our nation is part of the orchestrated mass migrations of third world people into first world countries of the past twenty or thirty years.  It is part of the “transformation” of America and of Europe, a transformation into a different demography, a different and more diffuse and nebulous culture, a transformation into a “blurry” place  on the global map with no specific language, traditions – and especially no specific Christian identity.

Christian values and practices stand in the way of Global Socialism.

Going to be our choice, in the end.

(TUESDAY’S TRIBUTE) “THE WILD BUNCH”

July 29, 2014

Here they are:

SAMSUNGI believe that’s Butch Cassidy in the center, seated.

In August of 1896 Butch Cassidy and his gang robbed a bank up in Idaho.    Then they came down to Winnemucca, Nevada, and robbed another bank.  They were getting quite a reputation and law enforcement people were on the lookout for “Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch.”

And then. .  .  they went down to Texas, spent some of their “new found”  money, and posed for this picture with a professional photographer.   The photo became popular and was widely distributed.

These are bank robbers!    Criminals.    The bad guys.   Lawbreakers who took people’s money in the days when there was no reimbursement,  no insurance.   But nobody arrested them that day in Texas.      They were having a photo op.

On a recent Western road trip I found the photo on a post card, for sale,  in Winnemucca!     Winnemucca had  a little display of the famous criminals who had “visited” them more than a hundred years ago and had robbed them of their money.   There were trinkets, souvenirs, framed pictures, post cards, and not a little local pride.

Some of the American public overlooked their Lawlessness and made heroes of them, and I wonder if this early tendency to turn  unworthy people into celebrities  became the seed which grew into our national willingness to tolerate the Lawlessness of our leaders, close our eyes, and vote for the one who has most successfully convinced us that he is a celebrity.

(And of course I use the rules of English grammar, using the word “he” when the sex of the subject could be either or is undetermined.)

Following a celebrity is fun.   Following someone who convinces the public that he is popular makes us feel we’re included in the popularity.     Troublesome issues like is the person  qualified with experience or citizenship,  does the person follow the laws, does the person violate the Constitution of our country,  is the person educated in the history of our country,  does the person aid and abet our enemies —  little issues like that are divisive anyway.    Half of us care –  half of us don’t care.   See?  That’s dividing us if we ask the serious questions.

Hats off in Tribute to our Rulers who (on election Tuesdays)  understand our love of celebrities!!    They knew what they were doing.

The next seven days will be very busy ones for me, but I would like to put forth some issues about the Spirit of Lawlessness which has taken root and flourished all over the world.    It has implications for us.    We’re dealing with the consequences.   And it was all predicted.    There has been Lawlessness before, of course,  but never has an entire world been so enmeshed in corruption and deceit and blatant breaking of every Law that was created for our benefit by those great men who had built up the very civilization we are tearing down.

But ain’t it fun!

Who’s your favorite . . . (whatever)   ?

Who are you going to vote for this time?       Another “Wild Bunch” ?

Fun questions.   But Lawlessness is never rewarded;  it is judged and punished.

SOME TREES ARE GOING TO BE BURNED

July 27, 2014

The Church teaches a robust, manly Faith that requires courage and honesty and clear thinking.   In the Readings *  appointed for this 7th Sunday (after Pentecost) there is a helpful image that points to a clear conclusion.

burning brush

When a tree becomes unproductive, or doesn’t live up to its intended purpose,  it’s taken down, the branches are collected into a pile, and when the time is right,   we burn the bad trees.   The Readings appointed for us today tell us about good and bad trees.

Surprisingly to modern ears, the One who told us “God is Love”  is the same One who teaches us today that “Every tree that bringeth not forth  good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.”    We being the different kinds of trees, of course.

We’re like trees that produce fruit.  If we live and breathe and move around, we can’t help but produce fruit.   Good fruit is good fruit.   Bad fruit is bad fruit.    There is Good (and bad).  There is Right (and wrong).    Black is not white,  and this is not that.

In the mental, moral, and spiritual confusion of today, it’s easy to throw up our hands and say, Oh well, “God is love,” and He knows me and He’ll find some Good Fruit in me somewhere, in the end, in the Day of Burning.

But then, at the end of our Readings, we read more:  The One who said “God is Love,” and who said “Come unto Me,”  also says today “Not everyone who says about me Lord, Lord…will enter the kingdom of Heaven . . . ”       So just acknowledging that God exists,  just acknowledging that Jesus is the only way to Him, still isn’t  enough because there’s still that problem of “fruits” that our lives are producing.

Plenty of trees, all producing their own quality of fruit.

plenty of trees

The Epistle Reading tells us clearly that when we sink our roots into the mental, moral, and spiritual confusion of the culture around us, our fruit will be bad fruit.

On the other hand,  a life lived in Christ, within Christ,  and for Him, as His servants and friends, will yield the good fruit that leads to life everlasting.

We live;  we make fruit.

Courage, honesty, and clear thinking will help us decide where to place our roots.

 

*  The Gospel today is Matthew 7:15-21  and the Epistle is Romans 6:19-23

 

MEGA SHARK VS. MECHA SHARK

July 26, 2014

Yeah, some of you may know where I’m coming from with that title.  If so,  I’m embarrassed.   This was the BEST thing on television tonight; of all my 60 or 80 or 100, whatever, cable channels it was the only thing that interested me — maybe because —

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—  I’m heading for dangerous waters myself pretty soon.

Even though I’m NOT ready for travel so soon again, and even though I DON’T want to go to this particular event,   I find I am obliged to be on the road again, for a few days.  This time I must travel to the Far Far North.

Haven’t been there for a while, so I decided to read their local news, see what’s going on.

“GATOR ON THE LOOSE IN THE U.P. !!!”

That’s what I found.    Well, “Mega Shark”  had me primed for a science fiction type of headline like that.   Gators don’t live in the Far Far North, of course.     I clicked on the link to find out just where this “gator” was running loose  out in the wild:
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Right where I’m going.    Make a left turn, and then westward, to the red “pin.”

I love to stop along this route.    Beautiful US-2.   Beautiful Lake Michigan with shallow beaches and sandy shores…and apparently a ‘gator.

If you look at the ‘gator photo again, you’ll probably notice it’s a baby ‘gator.   Cute, but clever enough to escape from the little zoo up there along US-2.   Clever enough to hide in the vegetation along the shore.  Clever enough, probably, to find . . .  food.

Those of you who’ve read here before may know that my favorite kind of humor is hyperbole, followed closely by absurdity and irony.   I think this news story qualifies.

Well, back to my Saturday night movies.   “Megalodon versus Crocosaurus”  is coming on soon.

Maybe I’ll learn something.

GETTING MOTIVATED

July 26, 2014

Back to the Spruce Tunnel after a long absence.   Perhaps I’m not as invulnerable as I assumed I was.   But I need to end my physical “disablement” real soon.    This was my motivation today:

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After having my lungs mangled by the High Sierras and a couple of weeks of fighting to get my breathing back,  I think I’m finally getting okay again.   Most of the time.  Until I actually do something.    But my poor Blue Beauty provided some extra motivation for me to get moving today.

She hadn’t been washed since my long trip Out West, and that’s about two weeks ago.   There’s something satisfying about washing off the dust of 4,500 miles.  Dust and bugs.

Just an interesting aside:  the bugs I “collected” from Wyoming and Nebraska and Iowa would be an entomologist’s delight.

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Of course, my car didn’t preserve their shape, exactly,  but  I did not believe bugs could come in such colors!   There was bright purple and midnight blue,  bright orange,  neon yellow, assorted browns and golds, and an iridescent green.   I don’t even have crayons in those colors.

But they’re all gone now.

I’m not used to needing such a long recovery time.   I’m restless.    I managed to wear my Rollerblades most of the day yesterday . . .

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Strictly indoors, though.    So far.   But I have them handy and they also motivate me to keep trying to get back to normal.

Why is it our bodies are so fragile?   Why does it take so long to recover?    Why is there no re-set button?    Why does it take days and days or weeks and weeks to regain lost health?

And why am I not more grateful that our bodies are, indeed, made to heal?

Sighhhhh . . .   Deo gratias.

A VISIT WITH AN ANCIENT WISE MAN

July 21, 2014

Here are some lovely beauties for us to consider today.  (“Consider the lilies. . . .”)

SAMSUNGI had arrived a little early at my friend’s church, and while I waited for him to come out so I could take him home,  I noticed these really cheerful flowers along the outside wall on the side of the building.   I hopped out of my car to get a close-up photo.

Lilies are usually associated with Easter, right?      Or with unearned grace.  (“The lilies neither toil nor spin, yet your Heavenly Father clothes them with such beauty!”)        Or with St. Joseph.    Or with St. Anthony of Padua, and probably many other saints because they  are a symbol of purity.

Deep down inside of us we have an understanding of “purity.”    It is rare, much to be desired,  and not above the reach of any of us, actually.

I was reading the portion of the Rule of St. Benedict appointed for today, and then I had time to read the Meditations that are read by  Benedictines on this day.   I can’t give you any names of these readings right now because they’re in my big computer which is “resting” from a series of power outages this evening –  but the names aren’t really important.

The short reading told us of St. Benedict, when he was young, before he had developed his system of monasteries which are credited with preserving civilization while Rome fell apart.    He and another young companion decided to visit a very old wise hermit and ask him for some counsel.      The ancient hermit was reluctant, because he wasn’t sure if these two young men were really sincere.  Perhaps they just wanted to hear something different and then they would go away thinking they had really learned something.  Precious wisdom, obtained with difficulty,  thrown away on superficial youths.

They begged and pleaded and made it clear that they were earnest.   (The old hermit didn’t know this was the future great saint, St Benedict.)

The old hermit told them that it’s important to be totally dedicated to your goal in life and he gave several examples of, say, a soldier, a farmer,  a merchant, all who  must arrange their efforts to obtain their desired goal.    Then he asked the young men what they thought the most important goal in their lives were.

The two young men confidently and proudly told him, “To obtain eternal life with God in Heaven!!”

The old hermit wisely and skillfully helped them to understand that it was good to have an ultimate good goal like that, and they had spoken well,  but that it was also important to pay attention to a more immediate goal,  life on this earth too,  a life which would lead them toward their ultimate goal.

The young men eventually asked,  then what is the most important immediate daily goal they should have before them.

The wise and holy hermit told them:   “Purity of heart.”

OF ALL PROBLEMS, LOCAL AND GLOBAL

July 20, 2014

Manual labor is the best thing for your mind.   (Now, there’s a bit of an anomaly here:   my lungs are still clearing from the altitude sickness and I paid dearly for yesterday’s activities — but I’m home safe once again, and life – and healing – goes on.)

Once again –  Manual labor is the best thing to get your mind going.  While your body is busy doing hard, repetitive things, your mind is freed and kicks into high gear.  So I split into two yesterday,  here is how it came about, and here is the result.

Truck backup

It began with the delivery truck.  This is not what I planned for the day, I’m not quite ready for physical work,  but Son had a good idea and the timing was right . . .  and it just all happened.

Ready or Not – here it comes:

Truck do i really wanna

Sometimes – and here my mind woke up and started to work –  sometimes there is a problem and it has to be taken care of,  but you just aren’t in charge of the timing nor how things proceed.

Now, the world has been presented with three problems like that:

The Border:   (all borders:  European, Scandinavian, Canadian, and American)   We were just informed that it’s not 57,000  foreign “children”  that have been brought into our country in these last months,  (the children being mainly  male teenagers,  ages 16 – 22 or so), but it is also anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 adults that have been counted. . . .   depending on your sources.

Israel:  Israel is trying to destroy enemy tunnels and sources of the endless missiles that are being lobbed onto Israeli citizens.   You may have read that 13 Israeli special forces were just killed.   Did you hear how?   They were blown up by a rocket  whose launcher  was hidden in a home – a family home, with parents and children…  and Hamas fighters inside.   Death came from inside a civilian home.

The Malaysian Plane Crash:   The EU and America are making a case for some kind of confrontation with Russia, based upon “reports” and imagined scenarios and rumored likely probabilities.  Putin is now the very devil.

My own problem, however,  was looming larger in my mind yesterday.     All 6 cubic yards –

Truck done deal

The nice truck driver took special care to make sure we got every last morsel of good dirt.

Truck every last

Now it was our task, Son and I,  to deal with our new “problem.”   Methodically,  we began to reduce the big pile of dirt by creating little piles all over the property, wherever it was needed.

Truck morepiles

I quickly ran out of strength faster than we ran out of dirt.

I tried not to think about that.   I thought instead about the reading   I had been doing recently.  I told you I was going to start my “Fall course of study”  early, reading and re-studying the French Revolution.    So from the teacher experience in me, let me give you a little quiz:
Do you know – or even care – how the first Bourbon king of France,  Henry IV, satisfied  the merchants, the bourgeoisie, the middle class and the nobility, thus providing a period of internal peace for France?

Do you understand how Prime Minister Mazarin completed the work of Cdl. Richelieu and yet put a fatal strain on the structure of the monarchy in France?

Moving on in time,  do you know how Louis XV was not really interested in doing the hard work of governing his country, but rather played golf…went on extended vacations away from the capital….  preferred to attend numerous dinners surrounded by supporters  who praised him …   Ooops – wrong century.   I mean he preferred to play lawn croquet,  dance with the ladies and gentlemen,  visit his country estates,  and eat sumptuous banquets surrounded by supporters who seemed to adore him?

The more things change the more they stay the same, right?

Truck dirt vehicles

The more we shoveled the dirt away the slower that pile went down, it seemed.  Two thirds of the way through the day,  we still had lots of this “problem” to get through, to shovel away.    We had to concentrate on our efforts to keep going.    I learned close up the power and strength and stamina of a young man (Son) in his single-minded determination to get the job done.

Here’s where I’m going with all this:

I thought about our problems, today, what we have to live with.       I thought about the people in France during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the historical “problems”  they lived with.

trcuk ver

I was wondering whether common, everyday citizens of France  (subjects of their king)  really were aware of the details of kingly rule and historical developments.   They had little knowledge or control over what their rulers did.  They lived lives of local concern.

truck UN_Human_Rights_Council

I was wondering whether common, everyday citizens of the U.S.  (subjects, really of our Rulers now) have much control over the decisions made by our Rulers. We have an apparent participation in government when we pay such close attention to the entertainment/news media.  We are moved this way and that way by the suggestions we hear in the media, and current events is our occasional spectator sport.

But in the end,  unless it is our charism to run for office and become a leader in government,  it is things of local concern,  personal concern that occupies our attention and should command our best efforts.

Where did all our new dirt go yesterday?   Well, apart from a few strategically located smaller piles for future use,  Son patched up a few holes, a few problem areas.

Truck patches

It doesn’t look so pretty right now, but we’re in the process of solving little problems.

Like a participatory democracy,  once the citizens lose control, it’s not a pretty sight and it’s going to be messy for a while —  if indeed we can concentrate our attention on the problem.

 

Woman to Benjamin Franklin:  “What kind of government did you give us?”

Franklin to Woman:  “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

 

A TALE OF TWO TUNNELS (SYSTEMS)

July 17, 2014

Another musing on today’s events,  this time the videos of the IDS incursion into Gaza City.

It starts with my fascination about the tunnel system that foreign drug cartel invaders have created, from Mexico to America.   With a kind of horror, I read about tunnels that are big enough to drive small trucks through.    Clean tunnels lined with supplies,   supplies of guns and bullets, and food and water and clothing.   Tunnels with little hiding places.   Tunnels with machines to create false documents.

And then the most recent “wonder” of tunnels —  a tunnel that leads from Mexico right into a border city (was it Laredo?  El Paso?)  coming out inside of an office building lobby, so that when the invaders arrive into our country, it seems as though they are one of many businessmen or customers that belong in the building.

No end to ingenuity!    No end to the invaders, really.    Occasionally we find a tunnel and close it down.    But there are thought to be many, many of these tunnels that we haven’t found yet and that have been re-opened or re-dug by the invaders.  We don’t have enough border guards to take care of them all.     We are not defending ourselves.    And if you live, say, in a city like Chicago,  you know that every weekend, the warring drug families bring their war to American people, sometimes with innocent Americans casualties.    Often our children.      The war seems to be spreading and growing in our country.

Israel has a “tunnel” problem too.   The soldiers of  Hamas, among others,  dig right under and into Israel, bringing dangerous people inside their borders.

Today, with military equipment designed for the purpose of destroying these tunnels,  Israel is attempting to end this particular threat.    It is within these tunnels and underground bunkers that many of the rockets lobbed into Israel are being launched and/or controlled.

Two enemy tunnel systems.   Perhaps one of them will be destroyed.

 

INFORMATION EVOLUTION

July 17, 2014

I hope this will be a short post tonight. Everything I’m thinking is pretty much not new.    However, one of the “advantages” of being in a state of recovery (from fluid-filled lungs) is that in addition to reading news reports from around the world I also turn on television and can watch it for hours. . . .   The power of television to sway one’s thinking was quite apparent today.

So,  in the last post I meant to illustrate the power of propaganda by the judicious use of facts and interpretations.    Today began with a call from Son, telling me of the crash of the Malaysian passenger plane today –  and most importantly, he reminded me how “facts”  change throughout the day.

So I was curious.

I listened carefully to the reporting on at least two cable news channels.   I decided not to rely on my memory throughout the day,  but to make a diagram of the events.    SAMSUNG  I added to it from time to time, and it helped me create a mental picture of what we knew so far.  And, indeed, by the end of the day, the narrative had changed, contradicting what was reported before.    These things happen in an ongoing and “confusing” situation.  No one knows everything,  right at first.  Erroneous reports do, indeed,  creep in.

But two significant “contradictions” remain unexplained.

Underneath the curved line of the trajectory I drew to keep the flight route in my mind is a list of five reasons why various experts throughout the day said it was likely not a missile strike.    Different people, different sources, mostly military and aviation experts.    It wasn’t a missile strike because of this, this, this. . . .

And then, after time spent with the other big news event of the day, in Gaza, we came back to this plane crash, and now we have the “official” voices from our Rulers, senators, P.R. spokesmen, etc.,  saying it was definitely a missile, Russia did it  (or is behind the deed),  and one cable news channel even kept repeating an old video of a missile shooting down another aircraft, both of them followed by smoky contrails so you could see the moment of impact.    Over and over again.   Make sure we are  visually convinced that this was a missile strike too.

Maybe it was.   But I’d like to hear how the five reasons that it wasn’t are explained away.   Because the narrative that is forming is quite serious.   Do we really want to accuse Russia of a deliberate act of bringing down a passenger airliner?  Of recklessness?

The power of the new news, the visual aids,  the short provocative statements (“This was an act of war.”)  made me look at my own diagram, carefully written throughout the day, and think of it as a work of fiction.

One more thing on my diagram.    Within an hour or two it was reported that there were 23 Americans on board.  Of course it’s too early to tell us who. but that number was firm throughout most of the day.      By the end of the day, new reportings of the manifest of passengers listed how many passengers from each country. . . .  but not everyone.   The numbers didn’t equal the total number of passengers on board.   There was now no tally of passengers from America.

I don’t know the diplomatic implications of acknowledging American victims.   Maybe they are working that out.

That sounds a lot like “massaging” the facts.  Manipulating the facts.   Managing the meaning of today’s dramatic events.

Maybe it all happened as some day we will be told it happened. 

But I remember another July 17th,  18 years ago.  I recorded the first few hours of it on my VHS recorder.   I recorded the radar screen from Logan Airport which showed over and over again the missile that rose up to meet Flight 800, and then both radar blips disappeared.    There was eyewitness testimony of a missile strike.  And there was photographic evidence, diners in a restaurant nearby inadvertently took a photo  of the missile approaching that airplane.

And then we were told – complete with cartoon illustrations – that a frayed wire sparked and ignited the (unignitable) jet fuel in the fuel tank.

I don’t know if I can find that old VHS tape anymore.

Our information will “evolve”  according to the way our Rulers want it to evolve.    Then things will happen as our Rulers make them happen.

 

TUESDAY’S TRIBUTE: THE “CHILDREN’S” WAR

July 15, 2014

Generally, when an invading force penetrates a nation’s borders,  they shoot cannon shells and bullets.

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Shame on those who facilitate the invasion of America’s borders by shooting babies at us.

Hats off to our Slick Rulers who keep showing us cute little toddlers in pink pajamas and weary mothers carrying little babies — and hiding from us the majority of invaders who are teenage boys,  gang members, and Middle Eastern Jihadists.

Or perhaps it’s the babies that keep dropping Korans and prayer rugs in our southwestern desert.

lamb of god window

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that every nation (every tribe, every clan, every ethnic group) has the right to defend itself and its borders and to determine whom to let in and under what conditions.   He goes on to give the philosophical reasoning – from natural philosophy and from Christian principles- to support his teaching.   

Perhaps —  if we would become educated and regained our reasoning powers —  perhaps we would find courage to defend ourselves.

And so,  another Tribute to that Tuesday, 11-06-12, when our Rulers once again told us to be quiet and shut your eyes, we’re doing it for you. . .   and “for the children.”

THE TAKING OF ST. ANTHONY’S FORTRESS

July 14, 2014

(I seem to be recovering enough from the altitude sickness to pay some attention to the entertainment/news industry.)

July 14th,  Bastille Day

July 14th,  1789 –  The day of the “storming” of the Bastille Saint Antoine, an act which forever after provided the Leftist Revolution of France  plentiful fuel for propaganda.

The Bastille was a fortress built to protect the nation of France through the centuries.  In  1789  it was rumored that gunpowder was stored there and the rioters, the mobsters, the revolutionaries wanted it.    They assailed the fortress, broke through the doors, found their gunpowder — and a bonus:  seven bewildered prisoners.     These seven the mob took and paraded around Paris as victims of the nobility, now liberated by  . . .  the Revolution!    Posters, paintings, slogans, songs, and poetry followed.

Bastille

“The Storming of the Bastille” proved to be powerful and effective propaganda wherever the Revolution spread.  Monarchies were torn down, leftist republics put up in their place.

Mark this date in your mind.

Remember the power of propaganda.

The effectiveness of propaganda seems to increase the further the slogans get away from the facts of the event.  Any event.  Any century.

The leftist Revolution continues on in  this century, although it has left a trail of hardship and sorrow and human misery and death in its wake.   It continues on  —  with the use of propaganda and slogans.   Today we call these slogans:  “sound bites.”     Television, radio, videos, and movies are the perfect media for sound bites.

I usually wait until September to start a new course or two of personal study,   but I think I will start one new course today:  studying – again – the French Revolution, how it came about, how it proceeded, and how the spirit of that Revolution is still promoting itself today on a global scale.    Global, now, not just national,  because a Revolution is always hungry.

July 14th.   Bastille Day.

Poor Americans.    “If you don’t know history,  you are condemned to repeat it. . . .”       Poor Americans.   The Revolution is hungry.

 

JAM, THE LAST OBSTACLE

July 13, 2014

Continuing homeward on I-80, on my last breath, my last ounce of strength (or so I thought)  I crossed Illinois and approached Chicago,  the city of my most formative years.  I love this city.   But I knew it mainly before I got my driver’s license!       I thought I had only “hours” more of driving until I was home at last, and I texted Son to that effect.  It was Friday and I was more than ready to be home.

And then my lane slowed down.  All eastward bound lanes slowed down.   To a crawl.    3 m.p.h. — when we moved at all.   As a matter of fact,  all SIX lanes slowed to a crawl.  I was hearing the local news on the radio: “A traffic accident at Cicero Ave. has all eastbound lanes on I-80 blocked.   Crews are still working on the accident.”

jam rush

(Not my photo;  lots more semi-trucks;   I was surrounded by towering semis who were also caught in the jam and impatient cars who were changing lanes for no apparent reason.)

Another hour later,  I was still hearing the same announcement on the radio.      Our crawl was going to come to a complete stop pretty soon.    One half hour later I saw a lot of blinkers on the cars ahead of me.    Way, way ahead.

Another fifteen minutes or so of pretend-forward movement,  I saw that I-80 had been blocked off by police barricades.  All cars – all tens of thousands of the cars with me — were being diverted into the city.    INTO the city.    Although I had timed my by-pass of Chicago for two hours before rush hour,  there was no avoiding it now.

And this was quite the busy weekend for Chicago:  annual citizen sports events,  summer concerts,  some kind of special art show — and the biggest event of all, one that draws millions of people into the city for the weekend:  Taste of Chicago!   A wonderful destination, as long as you don’t have a car.

All of us in cars were apparently heading that way.

My new five-lane superhighway into the city moved more quickly, but the right two lanes, if you were unfortunate enough to be there, were not moving.   As I whizzed” by at 30 m.p.h.,  I saw that every exit ramp was jammed full with cars, causing the two right-hand lanes of cars  wanting to join them to come to a complete stop, waiting for their turn.

I had no idea where I was going.  Vaguely “north.”   Into downtown.   Into The Loop.   Congested or not, here I come.

And it was now the time I had estimated that I would have arrived at my own home.

Well, I decided to continue north until I found a “doable” exit ramp.    When I did,  I got dumped right into the south side of Chicago.

jam southEnough said.   (You’ve heard  about this area on the news recently.   As in “weekend shootings. . . .”

But,  you know how they say, no matter how bad off you are, there is always someone in a worse condition?

I found a McDonald’s which turned out to be safe and fairly decent –  and all the facilities were working.   And then I could think.   Then I saw there at a booth a nice older couple,  neatly dressed, white, both wearing glasses,  and pouring over a city map, looking plenty bewildered.    I went over to them, thinking to maybe encourage them somehow.   I asked them kindly if they had just come out of that traffic mess on I-80.       And they had, of course.

I realized at least I was familiar with the names of the streets and they were not.   They had no idea what the names meant, as to locating them in safe or unsafe places,  through streets or city dead-ends.      Their map helped me make a plan  (an escape route?)  but I have to say that I don’t think I helped them at all.   And here is why – it’s a lesson for all of us:

1.    By now, they couldn’t really decide where they wanted to go!   They had been aiming for a near west suburb,  but sometime during the traffic jam they decided they just wanted to return back home to their rural southern Illinois town.  I could not even help them make up their minds.   First of all,  it really wasn’t my business,  but, secondly,  they were just stuck in a zone of indecision.

2.    And I couldn’t help them because they believed their map would help them.  They were  again mentally “stuck,”  wanting their map to give them the solution.    All conversation reverted back to the map and their fingers and the penciled circles they were drawing on the map.    That was their safety.     I was only distracting them.

With a smile and a sincere silent prayer for them, I said good-bye.

Much to my amazement,  my plan worked — or, more likely,  my own sincere prayers were answered.

jam michIn an impossibly short time I was on “Memorial Parkway/I-94”    passing through Indiana,  heading into the Far North country… the land of few cars, lots of open spaces and trees.

I still wonder what happened to that nice, older couple who felt so out of place in the big city.

 

 

MY LIGHT IS GREEN

July 11, 2014

I  cannot urge you enough to drive in our beautiful northern mountains sometime.   It just builds and expands and enlivens someplace inside of you that you didn’t know you had.   Just don’t spend two weeks up there if your lungs are shredding.   (High altitude strikes unexpectedly, regardless of fitness or age or experience.)

Tunnel 650
I’ve spent a few days now, driving down from our high-altitude Western states, my destination being a very comfortable 800 feet.    I didn’t feel like taking many photos this time, but I couldn’t resist this tunnel.      They’re fun!    And a panoramic view of  reds and golds and ochres and umbers awaits once you get through.

And, of course, I thought, if I could just keep driving east and downward,  I’ll finally see the Light At The End Of The Tunnel.   I should feel better and start breathing again.

Son texted me some encouragement, saying,  “It’s all downhill from here.”   I was able to catch the humorous double meaning.   Oh, yes, I want that “downhill.”

Sometimes people in the Western states looked at me oddly when I said I live at 800 feet, almost like they couldn’t comprehend a “valley” so low,  but they were pretty understanding of the choking flatlander talking to them.   Some of them had gone through it themselves.   It’s pretty discouraging for a healthy person to experience, this altitude problem.

Then, I got another text from Son.    A photo this time:

TOMATO

There it is.  He’s showing me a little tomato growing on my back deck.   The tomato plants made it!   There’s MY  Light At The End Of The Tunnel!!    Not some half-remembered concept of home –  but an actual little green tomato waiting for me.

I won’t draw lessons for you about using a little humor to encourage your friends when they’re having some difficulty.   I won’t explain how using an incentive from their real lives has a stronger motivating power than platitudes, however true.   I’m sure you look for opportunities to build up your friends and family when they’re kind of drooping.   There are more ways to “expand and enliven that important someplace inside of you than to travel around the High Sierras and the High Rocky Mountain plateaus.

I’m still traveling eastward today, nearing the end of my journey.      I’ll just write that there is green at the end of my tunnel;   that little green tomato is growing.

LIKE LITTLE PUPPIES FIGHTING

July 11, 2014

I’m writing for me, just so I remember what these last few days were like,  because they’re already not too clear anymore.

First of all —     angels

The fact that I’m alive right now and in one piece is proof that there are angels sent to watch over us.     I give thanks to God, now,  for answering my prayers and allowing me a little more time on Earth.

I’m not home yet.   I’ve spent the last three days descending out of HAPE Hell …. 6,000 – 7,500 feet elevation, down to less than 3,000.   I’m now in what the young man behind this hotel’s desk says is the “lowest point in Iowa.”  He must be right.    I’m beginning to think clearly again.

“‘Barrel-Chested”

barrel

I won’t describe the severe dehydration,  the constant low blood sugar shakiness,  fighting the blackness and purple sparkly lights before my eyes,  and the heavy barrels of water sloshing around in my chest.    That would be dreary –  but there have been some interesting  moments.
Like perception puzzles:

Downhill Wyonning  650

Even though I could see five, ten, fifteen miles of straight road laid out before me, looking down over the beautiful plateau encircled by the northern Rockies — this country is so worth driving through! —  even though I knew the road was straight,  I felt sometimes that I’m going around a sharp curve.  Then I think,  good thing I learned how to use the cruise control so the car can take care of this problem.

No , I thought, but cruise control is for speed, not the steering wheel.  I spent an afternoon working out that problem.    (How much could I rely on cruise control to keep me on the road?)

People were really very nice during these days.   One night, the hotel manager and various employees kept checking in on me.  Knocks on the door,  phone calls:  “How’s your room?”  “Everything okay?”    “Are you doing okay?”   I appreciated the personal attention, but I knew they’d been hinting about calling an ambulance.   I was grateful for their presence — but no dice.

.
coughingPeople tend to scatter as best they can when a coughing spasm comes on.   I don’t know how many times I’ve choked out the words: “I’m NOT sick.  It’s just altitude sickness.”   They all look relieved — I’m “sick” but I’m not catching — and then they give me all kinds of good advice.

 
Oh, the puppies — puppies

One time, as I was driving,  I looked over to the things on the passenger seat.   And then I heard a little puppy bark in its tiny little voice.   But I don’t have a puppy, and the sound wasn’t coming in through the windows.   I turned and looked again and heard little puppies barking, and squealing … it was coming from inside my chest, magnified by my stuffy ears.   It was kind of amusing.   I kept the little puppy fight going for a while…  until the coughing put an end to our fun.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about how Son’s texts kept me going – with his unique sense of humor.   Right now I need to rest while I can.  The puppies are quieting down;  I can hardly hear them anymore.

JUST A VICTIM OF HAPE

July 6, 2014

No, that’s not a typo.    It’s really HAPE and not HATE.   H.A.P.E.

It has nothing to do with fitness or age or anything else.  It has everything to do with elevation.   It feels like double pneumonia and a bad flu with great weakness– and I don’t care about anything else.

Meanwhile —

astronaut —   I’ll just float around here at high altitudes until I drift down into the lower elevations.

I’m three and a half states and three days away from a decent elevation where there is some oxygen.      I’m on some kind of road trip to Daughter’s Fourth of July birthday .  . .

I’ll think about it later.   After I start breathing again.

TRAVEL APP vs. BLOG – “GONE WITH THE WIND”

July 1, 2014

GONE WITH THE WIND – 1

When you travel,  you have the opportunity to download a number of Travel Apps onto your Androis or iPhone.   Then, as you take photos, you can record the photos and make remarks and the Travel App will also note for you the time and date and place, all wrapped up in neat little maps.

But I know, for me, as soon as I get home, all thos “present mmoments”  during the trip will now become “past moments”  and will reside in the phone’s memory – to be gone – gone like a memory, s though the wind has blown it away.   I will be satisfied that memories are safe –  but not ever taken out again and enjoyed.

That’s why I blog:  for my own memory, and secondarily to share with others.

GONE WITH THE WIND – 2

W Top of the World

When you drive across Wyoming,  you feel like you’re on top of the world – or at least on top of our country, driving about as high in altitude as you can get.   You’re not, of course, you’re about 7,000 feet elevation in places,  but you do feel like you’re going over the crest of the Rockies.

Which comes with dangers.

There were warning signs every so often about the winds.  Current, electronic, lighted warning signs across the road that said “Warning!  High Winds.  Gusts 45 +.   Ahead 35 miles.”    Which I think means the next 35 miles will experience 45 m.p.h. gusts and higher.

W Sign

I stopped at a rest area on top of a hill and got the full force of the winds.  Could hardly stand up against them.  I walked around, just feeling the power and strength of these winds.    I had to be careful going in and out of my car, because the winds blew things around and could easily have flown things away like little kites.  Things would have been gone –  you know – “with the wind” – and no chance of recovery.

Apparently, according to this sign,  the strong winds in this area clear off the snow in the winter, revealing vegetation beneath so that grazing animals can survive.

W Sheltered table

The state had built a brick shelter, in case anyone wanted to stay outside long enough to have a little picnic.    A little manmade cave.

It was here, at the other side of this brick shletered area that I saw a remarkable and sorrowful sight.   A small family of about five were sitting together, looking so miserable.   An older mother was holding a small whining child.   Her face was so sad and weary and it was all red and blotchy as though she were ill, somehow.   Her expression was stoic.  She was staring but not focusing on anything.   Near her was another small child, quiet, but not happy.   There was a man sitting next to them with the most defeated look on his face.   And one more person, more restless, a little stronger, but I don’t remember his face.

Did they have car trouble?     Had they run out of money?     Are they sick and can’t get home?  Do they even havea  home?     How long had they been at that rest area?    Something big and tragic was affecting this family, but their expressions were closed.  Closed in on their misery.

Perhaps their lives hahd been better and things had changed and now their good life was – gone.

GONE WITH THE WIND – 3

And this is more personal:

W selef portrait

This is a rare self-portrait.  I left the rest area and drove on to a gas station.  I thought the sign on this door was interesting, because people usually DO close the doors after them, but in this case,   in windy Wyoming, it’s not so easy, you must make an extra effort to close doors.

I was pretty happy and carefree on this day.   But within 36 hours I would be feeling a little different.  Through my own carelessness, I’ve been separated from a lot of personal information.   I left it at a house of family I was visiting –  and now the informatino is in the hands of an international delivery agency.   I’m not going to be comfortable until the papers are in my own hands.

All my info – gone with… the winds of my own carelessness, I guess.   Life is so precarious.   Gone so easily.