Monthly Archives: November 2012

Saturday November 24, 2012

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Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, my grandmother used to take me Christmas shopping.  Sometimes it was downtown Chester and a couple of times in Philadelphia.  We would go with her church group on a bus on some of the trips. Other times, my grandfather drove and dropped us off in their Studebaker.

One time we ate at an automated cafeteria where we put in coins, opened a small door and pulled out a sandwich.  We could see the various food items through glass in each door. I could see people in uniforms behind the wall putting in fruit, pieces of pie and sandwiches.

One time, mam-mam took me with her on a shopping trip to Chester and we ate at a tiny restaurant called the Yellow Bowl. It had white cotton tablecloths and napkins and I ordered Welsh Rarebit.  It looked like melted fondue cheese on toast and I just loved it.  It was the only place that had it on the menu – because I always asked when we ate at a restaurant.

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There was a small department store called Weinberg’s and another much larger one called Stotter’s that had very old hardwood floors that creaked quite a bit.  Stotter’s was where we went to see Santa Claus and had our photographs taken with him.

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Because I had a Christmas club at the bank, I had a small amount of money to buy my parents, siblings and grandparents gifts.

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When I got a little older, pap-pap used to take me to a nearby Grant’s department store to help him buy xmas presents on Christmas Eve Day. He bought me a Skipper doll one year and a 1964 IDEAL Gaylord Basset Hound dog toy for a younger brother.  The adults all found the toy hilarious.

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Not being a fan of crowds in anyway, shape or form, I’ve never set the alarm clock on the Friday after Thanksgiving and gone shopping.  I would prefer to have root canal surgery without any Novacaine than being in a crowd especially on that day.  And with catalogs and Internet, why anyone would do that is beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in a divestment process the past three years. There’s nothing like going through boxes and boxes of possessions, photographing and selling – or donating to charity – to remind me of how I was once focused on acquisitions.  It seems the whole Thanksgiving weekend hoopla promotes this acquiring rather than on true gift-giving.  When I see the crowds of people pushing and shoving one another on the TV news,  I’m grateful I have no need to participate.

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1984.

Sante Fe Luminarias

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Thanksgiving Day, 1984 I flew from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico and stayed at El Paradero Bed and Breakfast.  It seemed like 0-dark-hundred when the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. to drive from Irvine to LAX for a 7:00 a.m. flight.

By the time I landed in Albuquerque, wrestled suitcases off the carousel, rented a car and drove seventy or so miles north to Santa Fe, it was early afternoon.  After checking in and exploring El Paradero a little, it felt as if I had entered a very different place.  It felt considerably drier and I felt sleepy at the high altitude.  Still, I was excited about experiencing whatever Santa Fe’s treasures might be.

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El Paradero Bed and Breakfast

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The people at El Paradero prepared a New Mexico-style Thanksgiving supper with turkey and all kinds of trimmings. The stuffing had tiny bits of different peppers, pine nuts and other tasty morsels I didn’t recognize. The B&B owners told me about New Mexico’s blend of cultures and how that impacts food tastes.

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Thanksgiving Sante Fe Scallops

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After an incredible meal, some of the guests and I took a walk and the cold, dry air felt wonderful.  There were a few dry snowflakes falling as we walked past some shop windows with antiques from Mexico, Native American sterling and turquoise jewelry and pottery.  Businesses were closed and the streets were quiet, almost hushed.

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The next night a group of us took a drive around Santa Fe and I saw luminarias or farolitos for the first time in person rather than photographs. It was magical and I laughed out loud with delight at the beautiful candle-lit adobe buildings all over town.  Everywhere I looked, there were various sizes and types of bags filled with sand and a lit candle.  I had never seen anything like it before.

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“The whole of the life — even the hard — is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.” – Ann Voskamp

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Time.

Redondo Beach Esplanade

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Seeing that Tel Aviv is in the headlines again this afternoon reminded me of something.

It was beautiful early evening on June 8, 1997 and a good friend was visiting from the Boston area to my home in Redondo Beach, California. He had business meetings in Southern California. We spent the morning doing chores in my back yard, sat on my grandparents’ old metal chairs, ate fruit off the trees right there in the yard, played with my Boxer dog Moqui and took him for a walk down on the nearby Redondo Beach Esplanade. Mike talked about his plans to move from Boston to Arizona and how much he enjoyed visiting the Grand Canyon and other places in the southwest. He joked about simplifying his life to the point of living in a large tipi in a remote area.  He spoke of his earlier career as a chef and how much he enjoyed preparing special meals for his friends.

For dinner that day we decided to visit a nearby Japanese restaurant we had been to before. My friend Mike had a dinner which they served him on a large plate there at the sushi bar, while I enjoyed the yellow-tail sashimi and special rolls they made. We shared warm sake in square wooden cups, enjoyed a relaxing meal and chatted with the sushi chef who drew our names on the wooden cups that night. He wanted us to come back as regulars.

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It was around 9:30 p.m. when we got back to my home and after letting my dogs outside in the backyard, I felt sleepy from the lovely meal and sake, deciding to go to bed early while Mike stayed up exploring my book shelves and reading at the dining room table before pulling out the living room sofa bed and turning in himself.

Around 5:00 a.m. my dog woke me up and seemed to be really uneasy about something so I got up, noticing all the lights were still on in the living and dining rooms.

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I saw Mike on the floor laying on his back and rushed over and grabbed his arms. They were completely stiff as were his legs which were still bent from him sitting in a dining room chair.His arms and legs seemed frozen, both bent from being seated on a dining room chair. His eyes were wide open and he felt cold. I ran over to the telephone and tried dialing 911 a few times and then tried dialing zero and asked the operator for help because I was fumbling so much.

The next few minutes seemed much longer. When the firemen came in, the first sound they made was a chuckle and “he’s long gone”, as if I couldn’t hear him joke about it. Two police officers arrived and started asking me questions about Mike. While one officer talked with me, the other brought a yellow plastic tarp and covered Mike over. I was asked to get Mike’s suitcase and give it to them. Then the coroner arrived and those two men put Mike into a black zippered bag. I could see his bent legs and arms still stiff from when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack while sitting in the chair.

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It was still very early on a Sunday morning and I called Tony, a young man who worked part time for me at my office. He still lived at home; he and his father drove over to pick me up and bring me over to their home for the day. That was a numb and very strange Sunday. I’m grateful for the kindness this young man’s family extended to me that day. Although I wasn’t bleeding from a physical wound, they tenderly took care of me that day because they saw how I was in shock and unbearable pain inside.

About three days later I drove to the southwest desert because I needed to spend time in favorite places that brought comfort, silence and solace. At the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, I burned some sage and said a prayer for Mike. His family had decided to fly his body directly from the L.A. coroners office to Tel Aviv, Israel for burial so I never had a chance to attend his funeral. This was my ritual for saying a goodbye there at the South Rim.

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Redondo Beach Riviera Way

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About three months later, I scheduled an appointment with a psychic in Redondo Beach. Her answer to my “why did this happen; he was only 49 years old?” was a memorable one. She told me “Because Mike felt safe to cross over in your home. Your home was and is a safe place for you and others.” Her perspective brought considerable comfort to me and helped me to heal.

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Safe.

1969 Dodge Polara

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For four years, it was usually a bus ride or getting a ride from a fellow student at the University of Pittsburgh to commute the 300 miles between Pittsburgh and the suburbs of Philadelphia. It sure seemed like a long way and at times especially when it snowed, it was.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend 1976, a couple of times I remember asking where Dad was and mom telling me he was busy in the garage with Uncle Jim, Dad’s brother and they were working on some project.  Although I can’t remember now what the story was, I do remember that pop and Uncle Jim were working on something.  Being a usual twenty year old, I didn’t think anymore about it.

That is, until I came back home for Christmas. Another long ride on the Pennsylvania turnpike.  It wasn’t until xmas eve that pop asked me to go out to the garage to get bags of wrapped toys he and mom had hidden out in the garage.  There weren’t any hidden toys; but there was a large green car parked out there.

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1970 Dodge Polara

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When I came back into the rec room, asking where the bags of gifts were they wanted me to bring in, and dad had that smile of his as he had while enjoying a private joke.  I asked him whose car was parked in the garage and he kept smiling at me, and then asked me, “Aren’t you tired of taking the nine-hour bus-ride back to school?”

“Oh D.O.D.!” (DOD was my term of endearment for my dad – dear ole dad.), giving him a huge hug.  He and his brother, my uncle Jim had worked on that car for two or three months. Every week night for a long time to get it running again and in safe condition to take me back and forth the 300 miles to Pittsburgh.

Oh, how that Dodge Polara could get out of its own way too. It had the largest V-8 engine they manufactured in it. The trunk could have held three bodies, it was that huge.  When I drove it back to school after the holidays, there was some snow falling and dad recommended that I stay a good distance behind the  semi-trucks and pay attention to how they were driving.

It was a different feeling driving such a large automobile and I felt very safe that night and afterwards.

At the time I was living in an efficiency apartment on the third floor in a complex in Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh. It took two different bus rides to get to Pitt campus. (parking spaces were rare and expensive..)

The rest of the Winter 1977 was extremely cold. So cold, my dad suggested that I bring the Polara car battery inside at night so the car would start the next morning.  Dad was always so good at teaching me how to take care of my cars.  As a mechanical engineer, dad not only worked as an engineer, but enjoyed working on cars and had what seemed like every woodworking tool ever made.

The caravan drive home from Pittsburgh after college graduation that April seemed hectic at the time. My little brother came with me in the Polara while dad, mom, grand-mom and another brother rode in dad’s truck. It was the days of CB radio. Dad’s handle was Southern Comfort and mine was the Sunshine Lady. We talked with each other to pass the time during the long drive.

There was another CB’er named Whiskey Pete who dad and I spoke with on the radio and when we talked about stopping for gas, he stopped as well. When Whiskey Pete came up to the pretty blonde at the gas pump and introduced himself, I introduced Southern Comfort, my dad.  Dad and I thought Whiskey Pete’s shock and surprise was funny.  It was easy to banter on the CB with a stranger when my little brother was in the car and my dad driving a truck in front of me.

I felt safe back then.

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Music video by Whitney Houston performing Run To You. (1992)

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Home.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

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The first tipi that I remember is one my dad built for me when I was about four years old and was made out of a blanket, broom and throw pillows. Pop turned the broom upside down and put it into the middle of the living room sofa, put the blankets over the top and used red corduroy round throw pillows to keep the ends down.

Dad used to make these tipis for me at night when he let me stay up late while mom was working the 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. shift at the hospital. I remember getting into the tipi and lying on my stomach with hands propping up my chin as I watched the black and white television set with dad.

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“What is home? My favorite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.” – Gladys Hunt

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“In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.” – Ari Berk

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Hawk.

Two Red-tails

 

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Today around noon when outside with Wyatt Earp the Boxer, I was standing and waiting for him and there was sort of gentle thumping over my head. I felt something overhead….and when I looked up and didn’t see anything directly above me.  As I scanned the sky, I saw this very long expanse of wings, heard the whoosh-whoosh and I realized I had just been buzzed by a beautiful hawk.  I saw the hawk circling again, its four-foot wingspan large enough to create a shadow on the ground below.  He was in no hurry after coming so close to Wyatt and me, and he flapped and caught an updraft to gain altitude.

Later, while driving to the post office, there were two hawks gliding together above a local farm.  As I and so many other drivers go about their Saturday errands and chores, here are magnificent red-tailed hawks doing one of the things they do best, letting the wind take them where it may.

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Red-tailed Hawk

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Also known by its scientific name Buteo jamaicensis, the Red-tailed hawk is one of the most common birds of prey in North America.

Hawks are visionaries and messengers. As a totem they help to open the higher chakras so that we may hear and see the visions and messages that Spirit and the Universe are always sending our way. There is never a moment when the Universe is not trying to get a message through to us but we are so often too busy or unaware of what it is we need to be watching for! Hawk helps us to not only be aware that we are receiving a message but how to interpret them. The realm of symbols is also the realm of Hawk for Hawk is able to soar high above the earth to soar on the breath of Spirit, to commune with Spirit and thus understand through the intuitive level what the message means and with their keen eyesight, how to implement it once they return to earth through seeing the broader picture below.

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Harris hawk

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Many of the messages Hawk may bring are about freeing yourself of thoughts and beliefs that are limiting your ability to soar above your life and gain a greater perspective. If one remains earthbound, then the possibilities of life are limited.  It is this ability to soar high above to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture that is one of the aspects of Hawk medicine that makes it so valuable: If one is undergoing a difficult passage to know that just over the next hill is freedom and liberation if one keeps going can be a Godsend in supporting the person to keep moving forward. Likewise, if the path is not appropriate, Hawk Medicine can alert one to this and point out a far more favorable path.

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Hawk medicine unites Heaven and Earth. Because of their ability to soar, they are able to reach up to the heavens to extract needed information and bring it back to earth. Much of this information is also very practical for use on a daily basis. It is not only higher concepts or ideas that are relayed, but also information we need to make our material or mundane lives more prosperous and fulfilling. For those who have difficulty attracting financial well being due to false or negative beliefs about money and success, Hawk can help to understand the true spiritual intent and purpose behind money and guide one in establishing new beliefs that are more joyful and abundant in nature.

http://morningstar.netfirms.com/hawktotem.html

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Red Tailed hawk

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R. Carlos Nakai – Kokopelli Wind (Canyon Trilogy Track 14)

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Mesa Verde.

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill

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Mesa Verde Kiva

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Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, Mesa Verde National Park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

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Mesa Verde National Park is located in southwestern Colorado midway between Cortez and Mancos off US 160.

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Park Point

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View to the west of the north side of Mesa Verde, which looms high above the Montezuma Valley in southwest Colorado. The great Aztec ruler Moctezuma (whose name was later corrupted to Montezuma) never came this far north but early American settlers attributed the nearby ruins to his dynasty in Meso-America (Mexico). When the Anasazi (or Ancestral Puebloans if you like) lived here in the 13th century AD, there were over 40,000 inhabitants of the Montezuma Valley, more than twice the current population of Cortez, Colorado.

The north flank of the mesa is carved into south-dipping sediments that are of Cretaceous age. As rocks fall off of the edge of this escarpment, it retreats slowly through time to the south (towards the left in this view). That means that these layers once extended up slope farther to the north (to the right) and onto the southern flank of the San Juan dome, a Laramide-age uplift present in southwest Colorado. The rate of retreat on this escarpment can likely be figured out using rates from nearby areas on the Colorado Plateau and may be on the order of about one meter every 2,000 years.

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Mesa Verde North

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Beyond Mesa Verde to the west is the Sleeping Ute Mountain, a laccolith about 28 million years old.

http://earthly-musings.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-colorado-geology-mesa-verde.html

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Mesa Verde sandstone

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The angled beds of sandstone here are likely point bar deposits from a stream meandering on a coastal plain, some 82 million years ago. As the Cretaceous Seaway retreated to the east, it exposed a low-lying plain that was coursed by many rivers. A map of Menefee time is provided two images down. The black layers are coal seams within the Menefee Formation.

http://earthly-musings.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-colorado-geology-mesa-verde.html

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Spruce Tree House

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A view of Spruce Tree House in Mesa Verde National Park. The inhabitants used local blocks of the Cliff House Formation to construct these dwellings. The Cliff House represents deposition as the Cretaceous Seaway crept back over the Mesa Verde area about 80 million years ago.

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Square Tower House

Square Tower House always delights visitors with its four story tower and symmetric preservation. Note the desert tapestries that streak the inside walls of the alcove. These form wherever water preferentially drips from above, allowing for the growth of desert varnish.

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Cliff Palace

The largest cliff dwelling in the US is Cliff Palace with more than 250 rooms. It was an ideal location to build a small village as it receives much winter sun and summer shade. It is built within one of the larger and most well-developed alcoves in MVNP. The alcoves form within the Cliff House Formation, which consists of two massive sandstone bodies separated by a softer sandy shale. This alcove formed at the contact of the upper sandstone and the sandy shale horizon. It was here that groundwater pooled and dissolved the cement in the upper sandstone long before the canyons were cut. Upon exposure the weakened sandstone disintegrates progressively to form the alcove.

http://earthly-musings.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-colorado-geology-mesa-verde.html

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Cliff Palace ruin

A close-up view of the heart of Cliff Palace ruin with a park ranger and lone visitor for scale on the far right. This is reportedly the very first ruin that was glimpsed by Richard Weatherill and Charlie Mason in December, 1888 and is what led to the discovery of this entire ruin complex.

http://earthly-musings.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-colorado-geology-mesa-verde.html

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Manos and metates

Manos (hand-held grinding stones) and metates (grindiing surfaces) lay upon the “frozen” ripple marks of the Cretaceous shoreline. Certainly these people must have wondered about the lithified ripples that are so clearly exposed on the floor of Balcony House……..

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Balcony House

…..especially with such detail of preservation! These are exposed in another ruin site located on Long Mesa. They look as if a foot print today could be made in soft sand. The ripple marks are symmetrical meaning that they likely formed in the broad swath of tide zone, rather than on a river floodplain. The water in a tidal zone is bi-directional and the ripples then become symmetrical in cross-section. In a river, the water is uni-directional and the ripples are formed asymmetrically.

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“Mesa Verde is an archaeologists paradise but another fascinating aspect of a visit here lies in its geologic story. What geologic thinking provides us is a way to shift time scales instantaneously – such as when we see a 1,000 year old metate laying on top of 80 million year old ripple marks.” – Wayne Ranney

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