Across the world, an unseen virus, emanating out of China, is obsessing people and governments. Daily, we are shown body bags and stressed hospitals, see death totals that are not yet of the Black Plague category. Total economies are shut down and we are told our jobs and businesses are not essential, but you can still buy pot and alcohol. Some people, driving the same streets they have driven for decades, are fined for being on the road and neighbors are told to call a hot line to tell the government who is not following orders. Banks are closed and you have to make an appointment for most services and you are questioned if you want to take your money out of the bank. Congress magically finds 2 trillion plus dollars when we have been arguing about healthcare for decades and bails their crony’s out, again.
Walking, quite by chance, out my front door, I am greeted by a rainbow masterpiece. This double rainbow, just fading, has the right proportions, right colors, and a gorgeous, rich lustre. It is quite breathtaking, radiant, and rejuvenating.
Troubled times will pass and then talking heads will analyse and tell us what they want us to believe has just happened, politicians will claim they fixed the problems they created, and life, will go on.
In a year, most of this will be forgotten, but the precedents created will live with us, forever.
This is a scene from a local Wal-Mart, a scene many Americans are recently familiar with.
What is not normal is seeing all the empty space on the shelves, imagining this must have been what it looked like in a Russia we used to see on TV. It raises a red flag to see empty shelves in our suspect land of the free and the home of the brave.
In the space of several weeks, ten million Americans have been laid off, private businesses have been shut down because they aren’t ” essential. ” We have ideas of ” social distancing ” and ” flattening the curve ” flown from flagpoles, and executed by federal, state, county, city governments. We have hot lines where citizens call and report neighbors for daring to keep their business open so they can feed their families.
Where we go from here is unknown, but it isn’t going to be something I accept, or like.
!984 took a while to get here, but we seem to have a good dose of it now.
Bazookas are old technology but World War 2 vets will tell you a thing or two about their effectiveness in the war they fought in.
This plastic army man, with his bazooka pointed at me,his helmet securely fastened, his feet planted and secured by a heavy application of scotch tape, looks at me with a stern no nonsense attitude.
Mounted atop the snack bar register, he is protecting the money, and, throws me back to grade school days when we kids actually played with these Army men, taped firecrackers to them and stood back as they were blown up with the striking of a match.
These days, Army men still wear uniforms and helmets, but they have put their bazookas in museums. Army men, these days, are likely to be killing people with their computers, sitting in a room thousands of miles from the battlefield.
This cash register is protected, and, at night, when employees have gone home, this army man goes to the refrigerator and helps himself to a beer.
Fighting makes one thirsty and there doesn’t seem any end to war.
An old man with a cane shuffles past us in the grocery, squinting to read the fine print on a box label.Two little children pull on their mom’s dress at the bank as she makes a deposit and reaches them a sucker out of a little bowl on the teller’s countertop. A homeless vet passes our vehicle to take a dollar from a hand reaching out of the window back of us. We don’t talk to the politician rushing past us to hold up a baby and smile for news cameras.
On the road to Westcliff, I pass a man in a black wagon pulled by a black horse. The driver pulls his horse and wagon towards the shoulder as I go past, and I wave. I watch him in my rear view mirror as he goes another block, then pulls his horse and wagon into a little drive leading to a country house on the other side of a closed gate.
Amish, from Pennsylvania, have come to this part of Colorado for farming, solitude, the ability to worship as they choose, to raise their families in an old way, and drive to town in a wagon pulled by their favorite horse.
This, my first Amish sighting of the season, makes me wonder how they can maintain their traditions in the onslaught of 21st century propaganda, polemics, politics and problems?
The march of 21st century technology, information, control and surveillance, secularism, is crushing.
Seeing a horse and wagon on the road is like seeing an old John Wayne movie on television.
It pictures a way of life, long gone, that some folks still never want to leave.
There are artifacts to see at this national monument – wagon wheels and wagons, an empty jail, cannons, latrines, a visitor center, the only hospital for five hundred miles, ruts where wagons followed the Santa Fe Trail, pieces of adobe buildings that were once sheltering, a hundred foot tall flag pole where the stars and stripes flew, a white Army tent.
These photos, of what is left of this piece of the past, hint at what it was like to live out west in the late 1800’s.
Watching John Wayne westerns on re-run channels doesn’t convey fully how it feels to be smack dab in the middle of a land that is hostile and wears you down with inclement weather and the daily challenges of feeding, sheltering yourself, and staying alive.
Walking here, this morning, where soldiers walked, washed up, came back from patrols, recovered from illness, fixed wagons and stored supplies for the territories, walked patrols around the Fort in blizzards, it is easy to see how easy our lives have become.
This country was not overcome without someone else’s struggle but this fort, to the men and women assigned here, was always home sweet home, even if it wasn’t always peaches and cream.
This place was truly the middle of no where when people were still trying to figure out whether it was some place they could call home.
It should be no surprise, even in this remote outpost in the old West, that where men were, women were close by.
The National Anthem is one of the most played songs in America. If you have played in school bands, military bands, marching bands, or are a musician who has performed at any sporting or public event, you have played the familiar melody since you were very young.
In America, individualism is worshiped, but so is big Government.
After the National Anthem, the color guard marches off the putting green and we golfers all find our assigned golf carts and roll out for a shotgun start to the golf tournament.
This golf tournament is a fundraiser for Lifequest, a group that mentors juveniles locked up in jail, believing that the Bible and good mentors will keep juveniles from going back to jail after they serve their time and are released.
Regardless of our place on any line, we know mistakes are made and not every child has a good home to come from, or a good home to go back too.
Listening to the National Anthem, I know my battle line in the sand.
If it wasn’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t be human, and, politician’s sons and daughters need to be on the front lines of any war their parents start.
At the entry to the Fountain Hills Park are a number of statues, some seated on benches, some standing, all with commemorative plaques and praising comments. The figures cast shadows, some longer than others. Most of the statues are of men and most have been Presidents of the United States.
Presidents, as we know from watching those we have voted for, have lots of good speechwriters, lots of philosophy and confidence.They enter office with one mindset and leave with another. Leading the United States, on a day to day basis, is like trying to keep water in a glass that keeps springing holes. You enter office believing you can benefit the country knowing that half the voters believe you are aren’t worth the time of day. Presidents leave office hoping they didn’t have to deal with war, a disastrous Depression, or any number of calamities that come upon a nation. You are glad, when your term is up, to let someone else drive the stagecoach.
This morning Lincoln and Reagan look like old friends and it would be revealing to sit on a bench on a moonlit night listening to their stories about unruly cabinet members, hostile Congressmen and women, an unrelenting negative press, and military misadventures.
There are those who would like to cart these two men and their memories away, store them in a warehouse providing props to the movie industry,
We expect far too much from our Presidents, and our Government.
This country will rise and fall on the efforts of us who will never have a statue of ourselves in a park..
In airports we are moving to someplace new or returning to someplace familiar. We are waiting interminable hours then squeezing into airplanes that take us 35,000 feet above the Earth and show us movies. We are victims of delays, layovers, plane cancellations, Customs, paperwork, pat downs, x rays and questions. For some, these indignities are acceptable. For others, they are barely tolerable.
This trip, authorities with TSA, in Newerk, confiscate a small bottle of flavored rum that Scott is taking home to enjoy, legally bought at the Museo of Rum in Santo Domingo. The size of the bottle, according to the TSA limit, is “over the limit. ” The agent says ” leave it, or consume it now. ” Figuring they will give me a ticket for flying drunk next, I give up,leave the rum,and board my plane.
Are we to a point in this USA that this micromanagement is necessary, or even healthy?
Governments are, according to more than just me, too big for their britches.
This trip is over, and, I hope, another quickly follows.
Even without my rum, which TSA agents have already enjoyed, staying healthy and traveling is my Doctor’s best prescription.
Next time, I will drink the whole bottle before I get to the airport.
Most smoking in America has been banned from public buildings. All tobacco packaging has to contain scientific warnings that tobacco products are not good for your health. Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate. Television advertising of tobacco products has been curtailed drastically. Multi-million dollar lawsuits have awarded money to smoking victims in large class action health related lawsuits. Doctors advise all their clients to quit. Smoking in movies and on television by actors and actresses has trickled to a few puffs each season.
Camel cigarettes are one of the last surviving brands from the 1950’s.
As kids, we thought it funny to see the Camels on cigarette packs and wondered who would smoke them instead of Philip Morris, Lucky Strikes or Marlboro’s. The fifties were a smoking heyday with millions of vets acquiring the habit in the war and continuing when they got home. Our Dad smoked but quit by eating tons of lifesavers he kept high up on a closet shelf where we kids couldn’t reach them. The Camels always made us think of the French Foreign Legion, men wearing funny hats fighting other men wearing funny hats.
In this Santo Domingo airport, on my way home, I meet a plastic Camel lounging in a smoking room. It is cool and quiet here and there are only a few people in the lounge this morning, a cleaning woman and one smoking man puffing intently on his Camel cigarette.
Camels might truly be cool, but I hear, from people who have lived with them, that they are nasty, have body order, and spit at people they don’t like.
Advertising always gets us to ignore product negatives and buy what they want to make us think makes us more important and sophisticated.
I’m in this smoking room, hanging with a camel, and I don’t even smoke.
Yes, there is trash on the sidewalks. Yes, you have to watch your step. Yes, people live close together with no yards,few garages, a myriad of empty buildings waiting for bank money and investors to fix them up. Yes, there is noise and congestion. Yes, this is an urban landscape. Yes, there are dogs and cats sleeping on the sidewalk. Yes,people speak a different language. Yes, getting around without a car is humbling.
On the other side of the equation, there is vitality and energy here. People are friendly. You see something new on every block, every corner, every intersection.
Back home my covenant controlled community has all houses virtually identical and all projects must be approved by an unseen board that sends out a newsletter to communicate and has compliance officers making daily inspections.
I don’t mind my street back home but I could live happy on this street too.
Living on a street named for the ” Stars “, makes me think this street is the best place on the planet to be right now, even if it doesn’t look that way.
Different streets, in different places, can be very seductive.