Today

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This childhood song comes to my mind this morning.

Father, we thank Thee for the night
And for the pleasant morning light
For rest and food and loving care
And all that makes the world so fair.

Help us to do the things we should
To be to others kind and good
In all we do, in work or play,
To love Thee better every day.

My cultural and religious heritage is rich; it follows me all the days of my life. This morning I ponder: what will occur today? whom will I meet? when will I take time to enjoy “the world so fair?”  what occasions today call for kindness and goodness? how might I share love?

Amen.

The Juniper Spoon

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I’m no different from other dads. I get a kick out of the enterprises of my children. Each of our four has gone a unique way: consulting, nursing, graphic designing and catering. Here is a recent evening with Lali and The Juniper Spoon.

Lali has established a supper club, active mainly in those months when TJS is less busy. The supper club features ethnic foods, in this week’s case, Korean.

The setting for this occasion: a barn northwest of Crawfordsville, formally dubbed the Hidden Hollow Farm.

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I liked the rustic ambience.

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When The Juniper Spoon staff arrived, one could see no evidence that a party would begin in a couple of hours. But everyone — on this occasion the staff numbered seven — got busy.

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Sure enough, by the time people began to arrive Lali was ready

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with veggie wraps (there surely is a Korean name for them)

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Beef Bulgogi

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Bibimbap

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trays of veggies, rice, tofu and of course dessert which was coconut meringues trifle.

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Sorry I didn’t have enough light to show the party goers — a mix of community folk and Wabash College faculty.

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I think there will be yet another supper club before the spring season kicks in. See in Facebook thejuniperspoon.com

 

Walking (10)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

On the drab morning the thermometer tries to reach up to 28 degrees. However morning joe with Don sets up a a four-miler.

There’s not much to see on the straight Pennsy Trail excepting for two women hybernating in the cave of their hoods. I call to them, “Hey, walking west you get the colder deal, right?” I hear noises from the cave.

A mile on, I turn north on Edmonson and soon see an

OOPS

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but north of Washington a yellow house with a candle in the window kind of balances the mood of the street.

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Somebody on Edmonson, however, has deeply divided loyalties or perhaps it’s a simple case of multiple personalities.

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Because of the intersection of 10th and Edmondson, this big house with its tennis court out back escaped my attention, though we have passed it hundreds of times.

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The walking route turns off Edmonson onto 13th St. which quickly reveals its multiple charms all united into one. What’s the motto: e pluribus unum.

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The 13th Street block leads westward to Kitley where I come upon a memorial. Was Mike Wilson walking? on a bike or scooter? a car?  Only 15 years old.

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Next, across 10th Street again — it’s treachery crossing intersections without lights — and onto the golf course that’s got a fair amount of ice

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and crowds of crows who murder even the din of highway traffic.

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Back home again. This walk brings the monthly total to 79 miles.

Assumptions

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The sun revolves around the earth. It’s obvious. Just look how the sun rises and sets.

Wrong.

The earth is flat.

Wrong.

People will never walk on the moon.

Wrong.

The sun is the center of the universe.

Wrong.

The sun is the largest and brightest star.

Wrong.

The Milky Way is the only galaxy.

Wrong.

People don’t cause  global warming.

Wrong

So it has gone in matters of the solar system and the universe. Many of our assumptions turn out to be incorrect. The same can be said of assumptions closer home.

  • Fidel Castro won’t last a year.
  • Network television will create an undifferentiated mass audience.
  • Malls will be the shopper’s paradise in the future.
  • England will never pull out of the European Union.
  • We’ll never see a fully self-driven car or truck.
  • Donald Trump can’t win the election.
  • With Tom Brady out for four games, the Patriots won’t go to the Super Bowl.
  • There won’t be a cure for cancer.
  • Chicago’s crime rate is high because … .

And then there are the assumptions right here.

  • If my child goes to college, she (he) will surely get a good job.
  • He was fired because he is (brown, yellow, red, black, lazy, overweight, etc).
  • If you really work hard, you’ll make money.
  • She doesn’t attend church because … .
  • If the Tenth Ward wanted to clean itself up and stop crime, it could.
  • He never talks to me because … .
  • Overweight people are less disciplined than thin people.
  • Because she touches my arm when she talks, she actually wants a sexual relationship.
  • Most cops are prejudiced.

 

Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements concludes “Don’t make assumptions.”

… the human mind creates a lot of chaos which causes us to misinterpret everything and misunderstand everything. We only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are. We have the habit of dreaming with no basis in reality. We literally dream things up in our imaginations. Because we don’t understand something we make an assumption about the meaning, and when the truth comes out, the bubble of our dream pops and we find out it was not what we thought  it was at all.

 

I will not assume that this blog applies to you!

Walking (9)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

As I pay more attention to surroundings as I walk, I see strange things, odd things. Color, shape, texture, repetitions, contrasts — all of them delight. Take a look.

A vine

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The distinctive bark of a tree.

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A hole in a tree.

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A vine root.

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A spiralling vine.

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Worm markings on a dead tree.

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Tree bark.

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A trunk gnarl.

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Rotted wood textures.

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An assembly of lichens.

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Can it be any wonder that a walker would carry a camera?

Myth wisdom

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

From earliest ages of human existence people have lived close to each other for survival and social relations. In time — and we’re talking about a slow process — the people in any one such “community” came to share basic understandings of nature, of birth and death, of right and wrong, and even of the mysteries of existence. Group leadership, initially from elders or successful providers and ultimately from prophets and teachers, shamans and tellers of the group’s history led to the group’s understanding of life.  This body of understanding, made up of warning, story, miracle, song, dance, and prophesy gradually became encapsulated in rites and rituals, dogmas and expectations and much, much later, in writings. This body of wisdom we call myth.

Do not confuse this use of the term myth with the current definition of myth as untruth. Myth is that assemblage of details that constitute a particular culture’s understanding of life.

Mythic “substance” becomes a matter of the social unconscious. That is, people are not aware of living within a mythic bubble until they encounter people from another mythic community.

Frequently a myth community will be effectively isolated from other communities for generations and consequently surprised and confused when bumping into a myth environment not their own. Myths have power. During the Colonial Era, myth groups from Europe assumed the right, even the duty, to impose its myth understandings on the people of “the dark continent.” The Christian evangelical community has supported world-wide missions to eradicate so-call false teachings and paganism (words used in place of myth bodies). Tensions between myth groups have led to many a war.

These introductory paragraphs become a base for my saying that I respect the social process of myth-making. No, not all myths are equally instructive. Not all myths endure for generations and across vast populations. Not all myths speak to me personally. Nonetheless I appreciate the process that interprets existence to a people for a finite period of time.

Here is an example of a myth construct and my response to it.

From Wikipedia: The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (ca 900–1168 CE). The later Aztec culture saw the Toltecs as their intellectual and cultural predecessors and described Toltec culture emanating from Tōllān [ˈtoːlːaːn] (Nahuatl for Tula) as the epitome of civilization; indeed in the Nahuatl language the word “Tōltēcatl” [toːlˈteːkat͡ɬ] (singular) or “Tōltēcah” [toːlˈteːkaʔ] (plural) came to take on the meaning “artisan”. The Aztec oral and pictographic tradition also described the history of the Toltec Empire, giving lists of rulers and their exploits.

Among modern scholars it is a matter of debate whether the Aztec narratives of Toltec history should be given credence as descriptions of actual historical events. While all scholars acknowledge that there is a large mythological part of the narrative, some maintain that by using a critical comparative method some level of historicity can be salvaged from the sources. Others maintain that continued analysis of the narratives as sources of actual history is futile and hinders access to actual knowledge of the culture of Tula de Allende.

Recently a friend called my attention to The Four Agreements,  written by a descendent of the Toltec, Don Miguel Ruiz. In it he defines four principles of Toltec wisdom

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do you best.

These principles I gratefully receive as gifts. I accept them at face value as products of Toltec community. While they do not explain everything for me and each one allows for multiple interpretations, I value them for what I can learn and practice  for a peaceful, productive and happy life.

Walking (8)

Sunday, January 22, 2016

Indianapolis offers a variety of sites and trails for walkers. I have not yet used all of them.

The Monon was once a rail line heading straight north out of Marion County into Hamilton County is now a 19.7 mile trail reaching to Westfield. It’s a fine urban resource but I find it a tad boring.

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The Cultural Trail downtown  is an 8-mile world class urban bike and pedestrian path in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  It is a legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick.  I quote the website: “The Indianapolis Cultural Trail seamlessly connects neighborhoods, cultural districts and entertainment amenities while serving as the downtown hub for central Indiana’s vast greenway system.”  I have walked briefly on this trail, not yet convinced that the urban environment will fit my bent for natural settings. The photo, taken from the train, shows the downtown canal.

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I have walked most frequently in Benjamin Harrison State Park, affectionately called “Fort Ben.” While it has a black-topped two-mile oval, I prefer walking on the  Fall Creek Trail.

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The Downtown Canal Towpath is remarkably beautiful and long enough for a sturdy stroll.

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The pond in 100 acres, a section of Indianapolis Museum of Art, is circled by a trail. While the trail itself is rugged enough to prohibit fast walking, the beauty of the place rewards me every time.

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My most recent find is not new to the city — 3,900 acre Eagle Creek Park. The entrance fee is a bit salty, but the blue trail that extends out into the reservoir brings the walkers close to waterfowl.

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Then there are additional trails such as Pennsy Trail and Pleasant Run Trail, and large parks like the nearby Ellenberger Park , Garfield Park and Holiday Park.

What a wealth of places to walk here in the city. Later I’ll sing the praises of state parks outside of Marion County.