PUMPKIN TIME AGAIN!

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:
From the biggest pumpkin patch, to the most gloriously orange pumpkins, to a house made of pumpkins, to the finest carved jack o’lanterns. It’s that time of year again. Orange, orange everywhere. The world is pumpkin…

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It Gets Better

Rich Paschall:

It gets better.

Originally posted on aaron's random musings:

Feeling down today.

2014-10-27 22.19.49

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Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

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Learn to hate

“You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear…”

Small children will generally play with anyone and anything they find.  They do not know about hate and fear until they are taught.  Another three-year old is just another three-year old, unless an adult grabs him away and admonishes the child not to play with the other child because he or she is “different.”  That can mean many things to many people but passing along hate and fear is what society is good at doing.  If it was not good at it, then why is there prejudice and hate?  The three-year old can learn to become the schoolyard bully by the age of 8 if given enough instruction.

Teaching fear and hate does not need specific lessons or a handbook.  Adults can simply pass it on through mean jokes, name calling and hateful talk amongst one another.  Kids will get the idea real fast who they should hate.  They want to fit in with their relatives and the social circles they find themselves in, so they will quickly learn to mimic the hate and name calling they hear.  By the time they are teenagers, they might be so full of hate, they are able to beat someone to death.

‘You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear…”

Perhaps mom or dad will be quite pleased when they learn their little Johnny can repeat some of the evil jokes they themselves have told.  It might be amusing to hear their boy ridicule someone he met at school that is different.  They may feel a sense of pride that their son is just like they are.  This only reinforces the prejudice and hate.  Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are.  Imagine the good feeling a child can receive when they realize that parroting back the hatred they hear brings joy to the adults around them.

“You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade…”

There are a whole variety of things that children can be taught to hate.  I could put quite a list here if I think about it long enough.  It’s not just skin color or different eyes, it might as well be hair color, or glasses or clothing.  We can type, or should I say stereotype, just about anything.  Maybe if you just sound a little different you are someone to hate.  Your speech might indicate you are from another part of the world or the country or perhaps just another part of the city.  If a child learns early enough, he/she can hate a wide range of people.  It has to be done early, however, before a child learns to think for himself.  If you wait too long, the child may learn to rebel against the hate.  He may end up to be one of those teenagers who brings home different types of friends.  He may speak about peace and love.  He may join alliances at school that promote tolerances.  He may also be bullied
rather than be the bully.  What would some parents ever do with a child like that?

“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

When I was in high school our class put on the play, “South Pacific.”  It is the 1949 musical about fear and prejudice on a south Pacific island in World War II.  When it seems nurse Nellie can not love a Frenchman on the island because of his colored children, she can not explain why.  It is just something she feels.  When the Frenchman comments to a Lieutenant that he does not believe these feelings are born in you, Lt. Cable replies, “It’s not born in you.  It happens after you’re born.”  He then sings the song “Carefully Taught.”  I thought the song was way ahead of its time, even decades later when I first heard it.  Emile de Becque who left his homeland to escape prejudice tells the lieutenant, “This is just the kind of ugliness I was running away from.  It has followed me all this way.”

The play was an important lesson for me.  I had already started to learn the damage of hateful jokes and hateful people.  I guess many of our generation did learn the lesson, but apparently not enough.  Prejudice and hate continue to get passed down.  High profile hate crimes, hate crimes legislation and Public Service Announcements can not begin to eradicate the hate and fear that begins in the home.

I thought all about these things when I realized that the anniversary of one of the most brutal hate crimes of our times is today, October 12th.  It was 1998 when Matthew Shepard was beaten bloody with a 357 Smith and Wesson, “pistol whipped,” and left in a field to die.  The sheriff of Laramie, Wyoming, tells the story of the crime, not for sensational reasons, but because it needs to be told.  Matthew was one of those people who was different and consequently, others were taught to hate him. What was different about Matthew that brought out the hate others had learned?  Matthew was gay.  He was also a young man who should have had a long life ahead of him.  Hate took that away.

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NO H8 Campaign Comes To Chicago

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Spreading the message of equality Perhaps you have seen some of the famous pictures captured by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska.  The ones where the subject has duct tape on his or her mouth and “NO H8″ stenciled on the person, … Continue reading

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On With the Show

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Christine McVie returns to Fleetwood Mac Although the band has undergone many lineup changes over the years, most Fleetwood Mac fans consider Mick Fleetwood (drummer) and John McVie (bass player), for whom the band is named, Lindsey Buckingham (rock guitar god), Stevie … Continue reading

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Autumn

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent ...

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football.  I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

- “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

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NOR ANY DROP TO DRINK — 3 YEARS AT MANCHAUG

Rich Paschall:

Only Mother Nature knows where the water has gone.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834)
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

I’ve been talking a lot lately — for obvious reasons — about the drought we are not officially having. I thought it was time to show you what I see and how I know we are having a drought. And why I wonder how come no one except me seems to find this alarming.

All these pictures were taken at the same location: Manchaug. At the dam and the lake formed by the dam. And the river that used to feed this waterway, except that now it’s more like a puddle than a river.

Manchaug, September 10, 2011

Manchaug, September 10, 2011

This was shot on September 10, 2011. My granddaughter and I were wandering around and there it was. We…

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WHY CAN’T I FIX IT WITH SOFTWARE? HAPPY 5775!

Rich Paschall:

If you can not fix your well or your pacemaker with software, we are not as far along with this technology thing as we should be. Just saying!

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Monday, the well went dry. Bummer. Scary bummer. Mother Nature saying “The joke’s on YOU!”

While I’m saying “Hey … but … wait a minute … Can’t I fix that with software? ”

Going home

So after I stop running around in circles and weeping hysterically — bet you’re glad you missed it — and with the help of a whole lot of people (it takes a village), we gather money to fix the well. Because we have been assured by both well contractors who work in our area that our well can be fixed. And they have the know-how and equipment to do it.

72-OnTheRoad-9-25_008

We need a firm estimate — real numbers. Not the vague estimate one typically gets from a contractor. A commitment to do the work before the ground freezes. Contractors are a lot like Mother Nature. You can’t control a contractor. They show up when they show up, work when they work. If you annoy them, they might not work and you don’t…

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WAITING FOR WATER, HOPING FOR RAIN

Rich Paschall:

Mother Nature is fickle. Her loyalties are ever shifting and her rain is always needed.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

DAILY PROMPT: READY, SET, DONE – Free Writing In the Morning

This is a dark morning. It looks like it’s going to rain. That’s a good thing and I hope it will rain for real. But it’s often dark and gray like this in the morning, yet no rain comes. By mid morning, the sky clears. The ground stays dry.

It’s been like this … if I think about it … since last summer, the summer of 2013. That’s the first time I went to Manchaug and saw the dam was dry. It was far dryer this year, the lake being nearly gone. The mallards and swans are gone too. The turtles are living in brown puddles.

75-home-108

The dams were had already been closed and dry by the autumn of 2013 and have not reopened. Still locked up through this entire year. We had a moderate amount of snow — along with plenty of ice and…

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