Our Human Tendency Towards Religious Obfuscation – Inner & Outer Travel

May 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Almost three months ago, I wrote this draft for a blog I never finished. Now, I have no idea what reading material prompted me to write this and where I was going with it. 

Ah yes, the day I wrote it, February 25, 2013, I was leaving Dunedin, New Zealand and heading for Invercargill, at the tip end of the mainland and then Stewart Island, NZ, one of the four Ends of The Earth points on our globe…the closest towns to Antarctica.  I was thinking big thoughts, particularly because of a fellow-mystic, a French woman named Valerie, with whom I’d had some interesting talks about the direct spiritual conversations with God that we’ve both experienced and practiced for years. So, here’s the draft of that blog, now rounded-out for publication:

It’s interesting to read the comments that people send in to spiritually-oriented websites on the internet. Some folks quote beautiful writings from the many religions and have excellent insights to share about them. Others spew foolishness and you can just picture these wanna-be-wise-ones who are so impressed with their own convoluted thinking.

For instance, take a simple teaching about the need for “detachment from self.” One writer was trying for wisdom but wound up in a circular holding pattern, concentrating ever more upon his own self in the process and giving an excellent example of the very attachment which one must try to change. We humans often have a tendency towards obfuscation and I was again reminded of this as I read another windy comment; proving to me that simple truth has been contorted over the years until it all sounds so complicated and extremely difficult….so, somehow, “Religious.”

Complexity and formality, which leaves human beings groping in the dark for answers, appeals to a great many people. Therefore, quite naturally, a priesthood becomes necessary to instruct, interpret and carry out those rituals which always follow complexity.  Informality and straight answers  seem to demean the great station of Religion’s place in the world in the eyes of people who prefer their spirituality to adhere to very strict standards.

So a friend of mine, who sits in the privacy of her room carrying out long conversations with God and who hears answers to her communications coming through in plain English, might be doing things all wrong according to strict traditionalists. “It doesn’t work that way.” they would say.

I believe that God gives us free will to signal the way we would like to receive Him….or not. We shape the course of our life here on earth and by doing that, we forge our future after death. But while we are alive, there is a smorgasbord of religious variety to choose from, involving a wide range of methods; from formal and public to the most personal and private communication. People are different, so truth is presented to us in the form we are most comfortable with or the form in which we will recognize God best.

But so often, we try to write and rewrite and then get into corners trying to defend what we have said.

Three months later, I still find validity in this scrap of a thought and will use it here. I’m now in Cape Town, South Africa, for three months, housesitting and taking care of a darling little Teacup Yorkie. So far, I’ve been limited in my ability to explore the area due to a very long citywide bus strike.  But from my initial impressions, Church & Religion is not an ever-present issue, whatsoever. There are churches and people are religious, surely, but this is not an obvious topic.

In Fiji, religion was all boisterous, happy, song-singing Protestantism, whereas, in New Zealand, the somber upper hand of English prelates held firm; expressed unilaterally by the dark-grey stones of historic churchly edifices….mostly Protestant. I felt always, as if I were in Scotland.

Here, on African soil, I have yet to gain any religious impression…..but, come to think of it, Australia felt just as void of any real spiritual conviction as this does. And isn’t that general freedom to be yourself, just what I’m talking about here? I must admit, there’s a cultural silence when this is true.

In two months, I will enter Spain for the first time and am already devouring guide books. One thing I know for sure! I’ll be heading deep into the ancient bastions of Catholicism with cathedrals and the majestic thrall of pomp, circumstance and encrusted ritual, particularly in the buildings of worship. Spain has been cut off from change for centuries and it was only the death of Franco in 1976 that allowed a breath of fresh air and twentieth-century identity with the outside world to sneak in. Life runs deep there and some things never change. So, I shall probably be thinking more thoughts, similar to the above, when buoyed along within the glories of a rich, monastic, vibrant Catholic Faith. I can’t wait to experience that!

UPDATE: September 8, 2013 – I have now completed my eight weeks traveling around in Spain and Portugal and am, at this moment, in Copenhagen, Denmark beginning my two weeks tasting of Scandinavia. A few days in Oslo, Norway and a few more in Stockholm, Sweden; a week in London and a week in Paris will wrap up this 14-month-long, solo journey around the world. I fly from Paris on October 5, 2013, to land in the bosom of my daughter’s family in Denver. Back in the old USA for the foreseeable future.

But, I about to say all this stuff in the blog I write today. I jump in here, to this former commentary about the “religious” atmosphere exuded by some societies and not others and my sort-of casual noting of that simply in passing. Usually completely kept to myself, but it’s the kind of evaluating that we all do when entering a room or a city, a country, for the first time. I was way off the mark in my expectations of Spanish Catholicism, though. I was thinking in stereotypes and not in reality, so I’ll set the record straight.

Let’s just say that I couldn’t find a heartbeat in the patient.

If Christianity was ever alive and well in that nation, especially among those instigators and sponsors of the famous SPANISH INQUISITION, it is as dead as a doornail now! Oh, there are churches in plenty. Cathedrals, rather. And I’m sure there are Sunday services, and then some, attended by the community of the faithful; but there is nothing in evidence to the casual visitor. Entry to the dark grey edifices is permitted…..sometimes…..if the door happens to be unlocked and that’s not as often as you would expect.

Sometimes, there are statues or plaques to remind the present day that Rome once held sway in the religious life of Spain and Portugal but museums also defend this historical truth. The citizens are truly good people; simply warm-hearted Southern Europeans, who are definitely Christian in a modern and understated way. My point is that, aside from the architecture, I never thought about,or was reminded of, any particular belief structure.

That’s turning out to be true in Denmark, as well. It’s a Christian country, with many people and streets bearing that very word embedded within them and with the resulting churchly architecture on many a street corner. But just my pop impression on the street is that they have outgrown the identity and that Scandinavians, in general, pride themselves on rational thinking. Friendly openmindedness is much more descriptive of this peaceloving and progressive people. Freedom is a watchword with them.

 

 

The U.S. Congressman And The Saga of The Seth Parker

July 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Ms. Brown – received your email and request for assistance on your pending trip to American Samoa now scheduled sometime during the first and second week of September this year.

I suggest you coordinate your trip with my chief of staff Iuli Godinet and let him know how we can be of assistance to you on arranging meetings etc ….. He can be reached at … (deleted)   ……sincerely, Eni Faleomavaega

—–Original Message—–
From: rtwsenior <rtwsenior@aol.com>
Sent: Fri, Jun 22, 2012 10:43 am
Subject: Concerning the 77th anniversary of the sailing of The Seth Parker from Pago Pago.

Dear Congressman Faleomavaega,

Would you please suggest ways that I might arrange a meeting in Pago Pago, Samoa, between September 10 – September 16, 2012? I am embarking on my second around-the-world journey this August and will be in American Samoa anyway, whether a meeting proves possible or not. This request is not at all for funds or any financial return for any activity I might be able to organize in the islands. My interest is historical and sentimental and I have keen wish to share a true story with “my virtual family” in American Samoa. These family members are the descendants of the eighteen Samoan crew members who sailed aboard The Seth Parker almost eighty years ago. None of us would have been born if that ship had gone down, as it very well might have. My 75th birthday is September 10, 2012 and I can’t imagine any better way to spend it than by telling this remarkable story to anybody who wants to hear it….but particularly, to those of us who have no idea how close we came to non-existence.

To be sure, I do harbor a hope that I might, someday, interest the New Zealand Film Industry in reading the script I’ve written telling this tale cinematically. Surely, my meeting in Pago Pago might advance that cause, but it is not the main reason that I wish to do this.

Three weeks from today, July 13, 2012, marks the 77th Anniversary of the sailing of The Seth Parker from Pago Pago in 1935. This was a famous radio broadcast ship owned by Phillips Lord, (later, the founder of the Gang Busters radio program), popular in the Depression Era as Seth Parker, a Lake Woebegon-sort of a preacher character. He outfitted a four-masted schooner and sailed as far as Tahiti, broadcasting to the folks back home. Two hurricanes badly damaged the vessel and he sold her in American Samoa to a Hawaian tuna company. The ship sat in Pago Pago Harbor for some time and was believed to be a Jinx ship, a ghost ship.

My father, Russell Dickinson, arrived in Pago Pago around May, 1935, aboard The Cimba, also famous for being one of the early small boat around-the-world sailing attempts. The voyage was serialized in Rudder Magazine and the book, The Saga of Cimba by Dick Maury, the vessel’s owner, has been reprinted five times and is currently designated a Sailor’s Classic.

Father left the Cimba and signed on as Second Mate with The Seth Parker. I have his original, unpublished manuscript which tells the harrowing tale of what occurred aboard that truly-jinxed ship between July 13 and September 16, 1935, when the Parker was towed into Honolulu harbor.This very-detailed manuscript is too long for an article and too short for a book. But it’s perfect for a movie script and I’ve been writing various versions of such for over thirty years.

The Insatiable Sea, now posted on my studio at http://studios.amazon.com/users/10660 has some fictionalization in the backstory of the characters but every event and sailing detail is exactly as it happened, though I do speculate, as my father did, about the true motives of the purchasers who would perhaps insure an unseaworthy vessel for more than it was worth and then stack the cards so completely against it. People maimed valuable race horses during the depression to collect the insurance, didn’t they? Anyway, the only reason that the Seth Parker made it into port was because Father and the two other officers mutinied and confined the heroin-addicted Captain to his quarters when he refused to radio for a tow ship out of Honolulu. In fact, the Captain had almost sailed without a radio until the First Mate rebelled against that idea.

This is such a great story….really quite a classic, as far as sea tales go, and it would be a shame for it never to be heard by anyone other than myself and my immediate family members.  I have actually written two versions of this story. One, in which I didn’t fictionalize a thing and which covers the Cimba voyage. However, I don’t own the rights to that material; although the Maury family knows and approves of that first rendition, titled The Saga Of The Seth Parker. I only mention this if the addition of a bit of backstory and speculation would disturb your sense of historical purity. Of course, the material I will present in person comes exclusively from Russ Dickinson’s eyewitness account.

I have three names of people who sailed with that ship: a crew member named Paito and two women brought along at the last minute, whose photos and names appear in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper article of September 16, 1935. Part of that article is my cover illustration for the script on the Warner Bros site, but not the page with the girls. They were Masele,  23, and Masani, 26. Perhaps these names will help to identify their current family members and maybe other crew, as well. Twenty-one native Samoan boys were originally signed on as crew for $15 per month, per man. Apparently, five of these men jumped overboard and were pulled into canoes of their shouting friends and family members just before the naval ship, The Ontario, pulled the Parker out to sea. Perhaps, long memories and oft-told stories abound already in Pago Pago, fueled by wild reports of the survivors who surely eventually returned to their home island. They must have told the same tale from the crew’s point of view but many of the details of what occurred to cause these enormous woes would not have been available to them. I would like to fill in those missing pieces.

Frankly, this is such an enormous undertaking that very little could be accomplished in just one evening. I have a month, or longer, to play with, as I am allowing three months in Oceania and three in each of the countries of New Zealand and Australia. Like my father, I am a world-wanderer and now spend my life living on Social Security, seeing the planet. So, I do have the time to devote to “Getting This Story Into Port,” so to speak, as I have desired to do for almost forty years since I came across this manuscript. But, follow-up will take care of itself. My need of the moment is to arrange a beginning. A meeting place, perhaps a school or a historical society; and a campaign to locate crew descendants and anyone else interested in this project….perhaps media, nautical historians, genealogists…who might like to get in on the creation of whatever may come later.

I’m open to your suggestions and am not asking you to take this on, personally. Just to pass me to somebody who can help with ideas and plans before I arrive in Pago Pago in late August or early September.

Sincerely,

Linda J. Brown

My Traveling and My Writing Are About To Get Married!

June 15, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Heretofore, my two Biggest Loves: the tendency to run around the world all by myself and then to write books and blogs about the experience, were just shacking up together. These talents of mine were not exactly wed. Well, what did they know? It was just a hobby!

That changed this week when I became a card-carrying member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance and signed up to attend their conference in San Francisco on my way across the Pacific Ocean to explore Australia, New Zealand and all the gorgeous islands scattered in those blue, blue waters: Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and many others. I guess we can call this my Honeymoon!

Such a wedding will take as much planning and preparation as if I were marrying a real live man. The work has already begun in earnest. First, I got my Florida house into great shape and leased it, furnished, to a couple who will cherish it as I have. Airtreks is lining up my plane tickets for the next quarter of a year and that’s how I’ll buy them from now on. I leave home July 25th, perhaps never to return.

I’m retiring to The Wild Blue Yonder; to everywhere and to no place in particular! The realization of all this is a bit of a surprise…. even to a constant world wanderer like myself.  But it’s all in how you look at it. Of course I’ll still stop for rests and I do plan to settle into beautiful places for good long stays. It just won’t be the same place every time. It just won’t have MY STUFF waiting faithfully for me to – what? Wear? Read? Ride? Drive? Look at? Flip through? These days I’m pretty well culled. What I still have is already out of sight and mind, stored away into an owner’s closet here. Living like this will take a mental adjustment, to be sure, but  life on the road keeps the STUFF trimmed down and still allows me to buy more when I need it, see it, or want it. Just so I keep giving things away, like I’m doing now to prepare for departure. 

Seniors do this all the time. Ask anyone who has retired to a motor home. Usually that’s two people trying to fit themselves into a few square feet.

You might ask why I’m becoming a professional Travel Writer/Photographer. Because editors PAY you to write stuff about places….all sorts of places….in all sorts of ways. I can recommend a wonderful vacation spot or I can report on a funny incident or list ten reasons to do what I do at my age involving airports and foreign languages and why I’m not afraid.

Newspapers, magazines and all the print venues we are accustomed to holding in our hands need constant filling up from a large assortment of new writers for each edition. An even more voracious stream of reading material is the online press, destined to overtake traditional media in less than two years. 1214, the pundits say, will be when most of us do our reading on ebooks, computers and telephones. It makes sense to me to gear my writing toward this soundbite generation, especially if I can make money at it. After all, I’ve had the satisfaction of publishing three good books, each close to three-hundred pages long. Let’s see if less is really more….especially in the pocketbook.

Because, there’s also the business of free goodies: meals, hotel rooms, excursions, theater performances and such, which are eagerly offered to visiting travel writers in hopes of a favorable story. In my case, I’d be going to these countries anyway, snooping about for excellent tales to tell. Always before, I’ve had to pay for every little thing. Can you guess why I stay in hostels?

Now, I can report home from between silken sheets in luxury spas and ski resorts. This will qualify me to do a sociology piece on class differences between the backpacking set and the millionaires. I think I already know which one I prefer…and it’s not the got-rocks.* Ah well, we all must sacrifice when we travel!

*I like the easy cameraderie of the adventurers.

A Soldier’s World Travels Are True Sacrifices

May 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This is Memorial Day weekend and I have been happily incorporated into the large extended family of a very fine Army officer. Our front doors face each other across a small park and we’ve only just met though he moved in two years ago. He shipped out for two tours in Afghanistan and I kept taking off for my own exotic destinations. But now that I’m unexpectedly at home for a few months I have finally gotten to know my neighbor and fellow world traveler.

Mentioned in my last post is Major Ron Beadenkopf, whose retirement ceremony I attended this week at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Today, there was a happy Beadenkopf family reunion cookout at Honeymoon Island State Park right on the Dunedin, Florida Gulf beach with Ron’s parents, brothers, sisters and many nieces and nephews. It was a very rare glimpse for me into military life. Ron is writing a book about his very interesting life. Here’s an entry about his service career during a trip to Kuwait…a country which most of us will never see.

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“Camp Beurhing, Kuwait, is a flat, featureless place broken up by long, low tents and buildings, the color of sand, that surround them. The night we arrived a sandstorm was blowing, so all we saw was twin headlights coming at us through a cloud of swirling sand. Wind blew unchecked across hundreds of miles of flat desert; sand scoured the metal of our Dodge Durango as if it were a cleaning pad. I’ve heard of people dying in these storms, so I was hoping that we’d make it safely to our destination.

After bumping over a rutted path between dunes, we found a floodlit scene out of Dante’s Inferno. In utter darkness, gleamingl satellite dishes, surrounded by barbed wire, and round, dun-colored tents cast weird, swirling shadows. Anything not tied down flapped convulsively in the shrieking wind. My breath caught as a blast of sand tugged at my uniform and flung grit into my eyes. It was like breathing a sand dune. Keeping our heads down, we trudged to an angrily-flapping tent which resisted our attempts to enter. When the zipper finally gave way, a blast of light and cool, relatively-dust-free, air greeted us. The shriek of wind subsided to a roar when someone hurridly zipped the entrance closed behind us, but not before the invading dust had changed every white thing inside to a splotchy brown. All was thick with dirt.

I cringed at the sight of vital electronic equipment and dozens of computers seemingly submerged in the Gobi Desert. There would surely be a heavy price to pay for putting our machines through this! Miraculously, screens were lit with activity and LED lights flickered as life-giving electricity flowed from roaring generators just outside. Overhead, flourescent lights blinked and swayed in the wind-shaken tent, but remained strong and bright.

It was 3:00 a.m. when soldiers on duty briefed us about the site. Then, we headed back into the wind to find our sleeping quarters. My eyes felt gritty from much more than sand. I’d just spent 24-hours, and 8000 miles, sitting bolt upright in a troop plane and all I could think about was a comfortable cot somewhere with my name on it. Attaining it, however, was not to be easy. Luckily, the camp was fenced, preventing us from wandering off-base. It was impossible to see which direction we needed to go for the tent village. Our truck was once forced to stop for a full fifteen minutes until the wind dropped enough to see just a few feet ahead.

At that time of the morning, the long, low sleeping tent was pitch black and smelled the way any enclosed space inhabited by fifty men, twenty-four hours a day smells: like stale body odor, dirty laundry and flatulence. Through the light of our red lenses, we made it to spare cots beside a loudly-creaking front door. Naturally, constant stomping of boots, entering and exiting, made sleeping in that location a real callenge. So, we came up with a plan for clearing a space near the back of the tent. Two of us picked up the cot of a sleeping Lieutenant; hoisted itto in the air and, unceremoniously, hauled it to the noisy front entrance. Mike raised his head in confusion but quickly fell back asleep and we took his quiet spot in the rear. After a quick shower, I fell into a dreamless sleep under my poncho’s liner.

Later that morning, I emerged from the dark tent-cave expecting six-foot sand dunes to have buried the camp but very little sand had accumulated, despite the wild weather. A brilliant desert sun had me staggering back inside for my sunglasses. I’d forgotten how unforgiving the Middle Eastern light can be, even at 8 a.m. After breakfast, we returned to the communications site to set up the electronics which we’d brought in. Soldiers hustled a dizzying array of colored wires and black boxes full of delicate electronics as the place was transformed into a high-tech intelligence command center. A few senior Non-commissioned Officers and the senior Lieutenant Colonel directed the setup and worried about things which weren’t going according to plan.

The problem was that some of the most critical pieces had not yet made it into Kuwait but were still aboard a ship, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. This fact was messing with the setup timeline; but as good soldiers always do, we had to adapt, overcome, and borrow, borrow, borrow the needed equipment until ours arrived.

By afternoon, the daily sandstorm again had the tents in its teeth, like a giant beast. I wondered just how much these delicate instruments could take if this sort of weather went on for weeks at a time.

#

Ain’t It Always The Way?

May 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Life is zooming along in the fast lane again, now that I am not complaining about my 6-weeks-post-surgery shoulder. I have forgotten about that arm being any different from the other one although it will be October before the medical world will consider it completely healed. So, please forget about my last blog which did, however, manage to capture some momentary exquisite pain. It’s good reporting, at least.

The irony is that over the past two days, in the interests of promoting my book while I am in The States, I have applied for all sorts of interviews and guest appearances suggested by Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection emails and I’ve suggested that they check out both of my websites to learn just how strong and young I am at age 74. Theoretically, this will prove that I’m staring Old Age down and winning. Good thing I just checked here, in order to explain my previous blog describing my first experience with acute pain. We oldsters do love so to go on and on about the horrible things our bodies are doing to us. Is this how I set myself apart from the pack? Not too smart!

So, I appeal to any representative from the Ellen Show or major network interview investigators to give me another chance. Read a few blogs back. The problem is that, for the next few months I am Stateside, partly because of my dislocated shoulder and partly due to winter in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s less of excitment to write about while one is hanging around the house, preparing it for long-term rental.

But, I do have some fun to report however: Beginning tomorrow night, I will host regular Wednesday night meetings of my friends and neighbors, called WRITERS & READERS, which will give the authors among us a chance to describe their books in print or in-progress and readers a chance to weigh in. Our first speaker is my neighbor, Major Ronald Beadenkopf, who retires this month after 26 years in the Army and service in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. His book, “A Shark Among Minnows” is an autobiography about the two disparate portions of his life. He spent his childhood as the oldest of nine in a Pennsylvania Hippy commune made up of renegade Quakers. After far too much freedom, he and the other youth of the commune rebelled and brought his parents and the other free-wheeling adults into line. This must have influenced his decision to submit to the rigid discipline of a long and distinguished military career. His book will reveal the inner mysteries of both types of human communities, which most of us can only observe with great curiosity.

My own travel plans have now advanced to the point of knowing my new departure date. I resume my travels before September 1, 2012, which guarantees that I’ll spend my 75th birthday among my new, yet-to-be-met Samoan friends. I am now getting keen to dig out the Lonely Planets and begin to design the next phase of my ever-young life.

The Old Grey Mare, She Ain’t What She Used To Be…..

April 24, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

When in life have I ever shouted out in pain….again and again, with an open-mouth grimace to go along?

NEVER! is when! I’m quite positive that I have been very ladylike in the rare instances when I have been visited by that gruesome phenomenon. In fact, just six weeks ago, when I dislocated my right shoulder and the ER doctor diagnosed it as tendonitis and sent me home without fixing it, I bore up silently until my afternoon appointment with an orthopedic doctor, expecting a magical steroid shot; through his announcement that I now needed surgery (in a week! What a waiting line!); through a second ER visit to set the dangling appendage; through the past month’s (only five months to go) recovery with an arm brace and major inconvenience plus pill-popping pain.

Yes. A lady, stoic and cheerful, though sleeping more than ever in my own personal attempt to let my body heal.

After all, I have given birth twice in the natural way with no anesthesia. I have hobbled around Romania…in flip-flops and a backpack, in my sixties with a broken little toe. Did the same thing just this year in Brazil when a revolving glass door crushed a different toe on the same foot. Broken toes don’t splint too well, but it healed just fine, albeit a little shorter than before.

Yep! This is one tough Mama here! But this morning, probably while squeezing out my toothpaste, I, apparently, met my waterloo. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome seems to have set into my wrist and the entire palm side of my good left hand. Now, my bum right hand is, by comparison, my Good Hand! Things started gradually but now, I’m screaming. A lot! I mean, really, really unladylike yowls whenever I even move it slightly.

What am I to do? I live alone in a house with stubborn patio doors….where you have to twist your wrist and pull really hard because the tracks need cleaning….(I actually have some of those suction handles…in the shed….better dig them out); where keys need turning and things need picking up and putting down and fridge doors need opening. Last night, I turned up at my neighbor’s door, so they could cut my steak for me!!!

Two weeks ago when I returned home in a sling, suitcases still needed hauling, hoisting, unpacking, though said neighbors, Walt & Dottie Williams, have rescued me at every turn. Thank God for angels like them and I’ll sure miss them when they go north for the season next week. I’ve put off my doctor’s visit until I can shift gears and turn the ignition key. Forget that now…I can’t even steer! For fourteen days, this scrawny little left arm has done the work of two and now she’s DONE…for a good long time, it feels like. Today is the equivalent of a pink slip!

Looking back over the year just past, I don’t know when I’ve really rested. The six months after the death of my son, Randy, were crazy busy; and the most recent six months were jammed with backpacking and hosteling again, out on the world trail….this time, throughout South America. I did very well, actually, and called that a rest after eight years of caretaking during Randy’s decline. I convinced myself that I was as young as my fellow dorm room hostellers…and they treated  me as such.

“When did I get so old? I’m only seventy-four, for goodness sakes!”

Oops! Now,  my right hand is getting carpel feelings along its outer palm! Help! Yelp! So, here stand I; my two broken wings pulled protectively up to my chest; singing plaintively and screaming now and then:

“THE OLD GREY TURKEY, SHE AIN’T WHAT SHE USED TO BE….MANY LONG YEARS AGO….”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Update: Next day – Now, this is why you have to do your writing while the pain is upon you…or you’ll lose your chance. I’m much better today. Still twingey and needing to be protective….but at the same time, capable of typing again…. Maybe it’s not carpal – yet? Maybe it’s just plain old finger fatigue?

Even my operated-on arm has risen to the occasion and is feeling much more limber…a little bit like the toddler who has to grow up rapidly when the newborn comes on the scene.

We’re still going to sleep a lot and hold off on the deep-cleaning urges, but just possibly, we’re not out of the game yet! Stay tuned!

Next Day: Nurse Dottie tells me it must have been a “Stinger,” which many athletes, particularly baseball players, get. That’s when a nerve gets temporarily pinched but will relax fairly quickly with proper care, such as immobilizing and ice-packing, which I did. It feels like a hit on the funny bone all over the affected part. Whoosh! Glad that’s gone! My right shoulder is still acting all grown up and not reverting back to toddlerhood, so that I hardly notice it and don’t take any pain meds now. That was almost worth the agony, right there!

After A Short Surgical Delay, I’m Almost Good Again

April 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Two weeks after a silver cap was installed over my dinged shoulder bone, I’m stiff and not quite normal yet but ready to fly home to Florida and resume am uncharacteristic life in the slow lane. This past three weeks has been nice and take-it-easy with my family in Colorado where I just happened to be when my arm bone royally protested the way I had been using it to pull heavy suitcases… I guess. No other reason showed up.

So, we shall see how well I adapt to sitting around on my lovely newly rebuilt patio, reading, writing and sipping lattes. My next destination is to be New Zealand and the rest of the southern hemisphere and this is no time to go barging down there during their wintertime, so I was going to have to cool-it somewhere anyway until our late Fall.

Now I have a long time to refill on my neglected friendships. My best friend, Fawn, and I plan a dinner get-together at Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe on Clearwater Beach the very afternoon I fly in. We have so much downloading/uploading to do. Softshell crabs …. yum!

Heaven knows what direction this blog will take now. But I’ll venture a guess: I’m off and running on a new (old) subject of fascination and will be devouring books on the subject and passing on their wisdom to you. In early March, I attended the 2nd annual Afterlife Awareness Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia, not far from the Edgar Cayce Research Center and somewhere in the vicinity of where that Navy jet crash-landed a few days later.

More and more is being written and discussed about the continuation of life after death, and intriguingly, the planning we do before coming into each new life. Good stuff! More and more, I’m going to be snooping out people, books, and conferences which will help me immerse in this material which so matches many things that I have been told, Innerly. So, stay tuned as life forces me to stop roving for a little while that I might listen to the hummingbirds in my own backyard.

Home in The States With A Bum Shoulder

March 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This is a one-armed entry…..left-handed typing, at that.  After all my backpack-hauling all over the world, I have dislocated my right shoulder and am now awaiting surgery for a new socket.  I was taking care of my 12 and 13-year-old grandchildren while my daughter and her husband got a short cross-country-skiing trip in. Suddenly, at 3:15 a.m., I woke with a sharp pain in my right shoulder and thinking about early signs of a stroke, I woke the kids, researched the symptoms on the computer and called 911. Neighbors saw the flashing lights, collected the children and got them to school while I went off in the ambulance.

I am used to stellar health. In fact, I had air tickets to fly back to Florida and get right to work on laying patio pavers and spreading new driveway shells at my house with the help of a friend who owes me some labor. What could this odd shoulder pain be?

After a few minutes in the ER and two X-Rays made by a couple of Ipad-sized films, i was diagnosed with tendonitis and sent home in a taxi with a little pain meds and advice to see an orthopedic surgeon.  My daughter and son-in-law hurried home and by the time I saw the doctor late in the afternoon, my shoulder was very painful.

That doctor said that my shoulder was dislocated and that the ER should have set the bone early in the morning. Now, it would have to be set under anesthetic and surely will fall back out because it had hung badly for so many hours. It was back to the emergency room to get it fixed and I’m now sporting a big arm brace until they can schedule surgery for a shoulder-joint replacement. At least, I’m in the bosom of my family while all this is happening. I could have been somewhere deep in South America!

I still don’t know what caused it to happen in the first place. And I wasn’t kicking and screaming with pain as many grown men do. Maybe that’s why they downplayed the diagnosis? Now I’m learning that we have to jump through hoops to qualify for Medicare.

RTW – Phase I Is Winding Down

February 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

All is well in sunny Santiago, Chile! It´s full-on summer here in the latter half of February and the days are clear and perfect, though some have been Florida-hot.  Naturally, my thoughts rove to Clearwater and the few days that I will blow through there to see our brand-new deck, courtesy of a barter deal with friend and neighbor, Walt Williams; repack suitcases; catch up with friends and family….and drive north for Phase II.

So, wrap-up time down here in South America is slow and lazy.

The Great Creative Human Race wrapped up with a satisfying tie.  Team Maple. originally feared missing in the Andes, had simply taken a ¨creative¨ route between lakes and volcanoes somewhere near the target goal of Puerto Montt. It turned out that they were directly across the same lake I gazed upon during my cappuchino-sipping balcony days. Both teams returned to Santiago´s Hostal Forestal within days of each other and shared a hearty barbeque exchanging adventure stories. All in all, the Andes Mountains were good to them and, sunburned but intact, they now speak of Nepal next year.

Real life calls and I, too, am facing a need to sort my knapsacks and get my gear in order for returning to the States. But, for the moment, I´m still on summer vacation and the days are warm and lazy. Lots of reading, writing, park bench sitting, and umbrella table eating time. Did you think this sort of world travel was all a massive amount of work?

Next month will be full of friends and family and I really look forward to seeing them all while catching up on what I´ve missed during my many months away from home. Soon, I´ll attend the Second Annual Afterlife Awareness Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which will allow me to meet the authors of a new wave of books concerning the planning that each human does in the Realms Above planning their future life back on Earth. Before I get there, I hope to re-read books such as Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton, MD, and Your Soul´s Journey by Robert Schwartz.

The Kind and Homey Folks of Chiloe Island, Chile

February 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The island of Chiloe (chill-o-way) doesn´t look all that large on the map of the base of the Andean spinal column which becomes Patagonia, the southernmost region of Chile. It´s a squarish lump of land at the top of a column of broken, rocky protuberances which litter the way down the coastline to the Cape. My Chilote friends say that this is the very spot where the Andes submerge, intact, allowing only the mountain tops to peek above the water. It´s not that far above the Antarctic Circle but the water is warm enough for summer swimming by both people and penguins.

After weeks of hostel dormatories and days of highly-populated buses, I sought solitude in the treat of a private room in a hostel in Ancud, which I secured on the internet. Instead, I walked into the welcoming arms of the youthful Gigi, her boyfriend, Andress, sister, Valentina and their friend, Maria Josef. They had converted their modern family home into a hostel after the sudden death of their mother after a brief illness. Valentina´s eyes still reflect the unfathomable loss but she designs her future to include chef school and a job on a cruise ship.

If I had wanted cloistered inactivity, I should not have come on the eve of a popular island Costumbre Festival in Castro and an accordian-playing music fest in another island town. Ten minutes after my arrival, as welcomed as any family matriarch, I found myself accepting their kind invitation to come along on tomorrow´s festivities. Sure, how can I miss the chance? And I again became a tourist, though that was the very role I was hiding from. Actually, I was sort of becoming a local as I didn´t see many tourists the next day when homefolks celebrated the life of the community as they have for many years, cooking the bountiful catch of King Crabs, Salmon, fish, mussels and clams, according to special island recipes. Yum!

Julio filled in at the  hostel during this one-day festival vacation and had the place full by the time we returned. He has dived in these cold waters for shellfish since he was sixteen. Because of the extreme depths, his legs were paralyzed when air was forced into the bloodstream but instead of following the  doctor´s advice and getting bariatric pressure treatments, he chose the cure of generations of Chilote divers…to be dropped back into the ocean to swim to even greater depths to equalize the oxygen.  It worked and today he has some pain but walks and works normally.

On the festival morning, five of us set out to drive over many kilometers in Andress´twenty-year-old Toyota Corolla. I had thought that this was a small island but the distances felt far indeed. Imagine a crazy quilt with images of farm, wheat fields, cow pastures, mountains, seasides with bays and estuaries. Fill it with weathered towns, forests, hills, rivers and bridges. Then curl many roads throughout with fully half of them rocky and unpaved. Now, take this highly-decorated blanket and crumple it up. Seriously crumple the thing so that mountainous lumps lead to concave valleys and any possible road has to wind and twist so that all cars have slow going.

Except for Andress´Toyota! It sped along, though our travel time was still considerable. Whack! Wham! went the rocks on the underbelly and I wondered what sort of an island custom Gigi was observing when she pressed her fist against the upper corner of the windshield every time an approaching car passed by. Later, I learned that she was mimicing her mother and probably every other shotgun-riding woman in a local car. Apparently, the pressure on the glass prevents shattering if a stone should be flung into the windshield.

Our first festival was an eating affair. We selected the booth of some local fishermen, snagged a table in an outdoor shelter and ordered gluttons of seafood. Grilled salmon, oh yes! Then, we roamed the artisanal crafts booths where I fell for a loose-knit, handmade wool sweater. and Gigi secretly bought me a knit doll, which she presented to me as a memento when we said goodbye at the bus station.

During all the driving, we visited quite a few of the famous, restored wooden churches of the island. They are national treasures and remind me of the lyrical wooden churches I had seen in Russia. This whole island and much of the mountainous farmland of lower Chile, was populated by Germans early in the Twentieth Century, long before the war. In a very savvy move, Chile invited German farmers to populate that geologically-similar countryside, granting them generous farm plots. Consequently, houses are sturdy and filled with lace curtains. This explains the polka dancing and accordians, as well.

It was dusk when we headed home, speeding over the stone-strewn logging road. Ka-Pow! went the tire directly beneath my derriere! Flump, flump, flump…we ground to a halt. That tire was toast. Nay, it was lace, rubber lace, worthy of an artisan. Ouch! Luckily, a farm driveway presented itself and we pulled in, hopefully enlisting the aid of a woman peering out between her curtains.  For we certainly did need help, as an examination of Andress’ trunk soon revealed. He had a spare, he had a jack, but no lever to operate the jack and no lug wrench to release the tire. The woman shook her head and retired within.

We four girls took to dancing in the street, trying to stop the occasional bits of flying traffic. The trouble was that we looked suspiciously like the many backpackers trying for a lift for packs and pals, times ten. We, too, had flown right on past their desperately appealing faces. But by evening, we were just as tired, shabby and desperate as they had been. Amazingly, our crudely flapping hands did lure-in at least six cars but none had the requisite parts. These were all newer, smaller cars.  Everyone was very sympathetic but couldn`t even call for help since no one`s cell phone worked in that spot.

As the sun went down, I wondered if the nearby pigpen would be my dreamed-of private room for the night. Then a red station wagon came along, only to become our last and greatest failed hope. That driver saved the day though, by backing out of the drive and blocking the road until another car simply had to stop.  Voila! We suddenly had the winning combination. Not only did the new car have the right sized tool, but the farm woman`s son arrived and hauled a wooden beam from behind a fence, propped it on a rock and levered the car`s side into the air by kneeling on the beam.

Before he delivered that solution, I was sertiously trying to remember a metaphysical demonstration I`d witnessed once, where a cluster of people inserted their index fingers under the body of a large person; took a deep breath and with intense concentration, lifted him way off the ground. Possibly that would work on a car. Watching those big men get the tire off the conventional way, I was so glad I didn`t have to make a fool of myself convincing the others to stick their finger under the car and levitate. Instead, I found myself kissing the ruddy cheeks of these dear Chilote men who had finally delivered us from a night in the pig pen.

We got home at 1:00 a.m.  The next day, I just hung around the hostal, getting that elusive rest I had come so far to find.

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Was I On Another Planet… Or In London, England?
I’m Transitioning To Another Region of Europe – The Baltic States
Lots Of Rainbows Over London Today!
I Love Tallin, Estonia!
Glorious Estonia – Pagan Roots, Soaring Steeples And Soviet Museums!
Happy Hostel Life In Estonia….. And Worldwide!
What Do Dead Dogs & At-Risk Elephants Have To Do With Each Other?
“We’re Not In St. Pete Anymore, Toto!” We’re In Russia!
Traveling Into Russia Is Filled With Happy Discovery!
My Little Sister, Ann, Makes Me Proud For My 79th Birthday!
I Spent My Birthday With The Archangel Michael, Near The White Sea In Russia
A Funny Story About A New Dress Purchased The Night Before My Aeroflot Flight To Moscow….With Its Anti-Theft Device Still Firmly Attached!!!
Moscow & Me! I Like It Just As Well As I Did At Perestroika Time!
So Many New Moscow Friends…… But I Had To Travel On To Riga, Latvia
Where, Oh Where, Is The White Sea? Near The Arctic Circle….In Russia!
I’ve Been in Four Countries….. Five Cities, All In The Past Month!
After Europe, I’m in Israel For A Month
I Have A Big Family, So Our Jerusalem Thanksgiving Dinner Was Spaghetti Casserole Bake
Exploring Antiquity In Jerusalem This December!
My First Impressions Of Old Jerusalem
Make Friends! Not Art!
Leaving A Legacy Of Jitterbug In Tel Aviv, Israel
Back to Europe From The Holy Land. I’ve Landed in Barcelona, Spain!
I Will Be Reddit’s Solo Travel Site’s “Ask Me Anything!” Guest Interviewer On Sunday Afternoon, January 29!
My Exciting New Life In Casablanca, Morocco
No, I Have Not Died And Gone To Heaven! Just Zanzibar!
The Search For Meaning In Life Is Probably The Same All Over The World
Life In And Around Lake Victoria, Africa. I Have Achieved My Destination!