Saturday, June 30, 2007

Picnic Pictures

Central Iowa All Masonic Picnic sponsored by Ames York Rite - Held at Big Creek State Park. I understand that this picnic generated at least three Blue Lodge Petitions.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Lord and the Biker

Thanks to Sam for this one. I probably shouldn't post it because of my "rant" the other day but you can never accuse me of being consistent. (pop)

A man riding his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly
the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the
Lord said, "Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I
will grant you one wish."

The biker pulled over and said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride
over anytime I want." The Lord said, "Your request is
materialistic, think of the enormous challenges for that kind of
undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific
and the concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several
natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to
justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think
of something that could possibly help mankind."

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, "Lord, I
wish that I and all men could understand women; I want to know how
she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent
treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's
wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Sam The Bellhop

Thanks Charlie.


Another poem from my book of "saved" things.

A single pebble
of love
cast into the pool
of mind,
sends ripple
of feeling
from center
to edge
a meaning
the light
and the shadow
making music
of motion.
John D Engle, Jr.

The imagery of this poem is very meaningful to me. I love to think of that pebble of love broadening ever outward. There was a movie several years ago called Pay It Forward.

Like some other kids, 12-year-old Trevor McKinney believed in the goodness of human nature. Like many other kids, he was determined to change the world for the better. Unlike most other kids, he succeeded.

The whole idea is that when someone does something nice for you you don't pay them back. You do something nice for someone else and pay it forward. Good idea. That way the love grows and makes the world a better place.

Something to think about for today. Be loved. Hugs. jcs (pop)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oueen of Egypt

This is a picture of the Funerary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. She ruled in Egypt as if she were a man. They have found her mummy. I visited her Temple in 1976. One of the things that stuck me was that after her death her name was erased from her Temple in an attempt to obliterate her memory. Vain hope.

That is not what I want to comment on today, however. It is the status of women in our society. Hatshepst was a powerful women and as such she threatened the men. The society of ancient Egypt was definitely male dominated and oriented. In fact, in order to rule the Queen had to make herself into a King and even wore a false beard. I doubt that this fooled anyone as to her sex.

Now I know I have written about the place of women in our society before in this blog. I know there are several places in the blog where I have repeated myself. In fact according to Google Analytics there was no traffic on the blog at all yesterday. No one read the blog. I must be boring most of you. Be that as it may, the Blog is still going to be written. I will write about what is on my mind and I will probably repeat myself. One of the perks of getting old.

I was up to Walgreen's yesterday to get more diabetic testing strips so I can monitor my blood sugar and had to wait because I had not called in the order. I sat next to a charming lady (86) who was waiting for something also. While there her son brought over some photos from her granddaughters wedding. I know you know how I feel about weddings. Anyway she began to show them to me and I enjoyed looking at them. Turns out one of her grandsons is Eric Hansen, Weatherman on Channel 8. All of them were tall Norwegians. She mentioned a couple of times about a granddaughter who is studying pharmacy. Beautiful people.

I told her about what I usually tell a bride and groom. Several years ago I was at a former students wedding and the minister kept referring to what a beautify marriage it was going to be because the bride was "such a servant." Several of us had blood dripping from our mouths because of biting our tongues. As the bride and groom dismissed us I told them that "it says in the Bible that God created man in his own image. Male and Female created he them. Therefore when I see the two of you together I see an image of God."

Now I know that is not going to help much in combating the minister's patronizing attitude but it made me feel better to say it. In fact, it probably went right over their heads.

The lady at the drugstore seemed to think it was OK for the woman to be a servant. She said something about what it says in the Bible about women being "submissive" to the man. Now I will argue with that. First of all I do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Folks, the Bible was written by men and as such they had a vested interested in preserving the status quo. Women as property and as servants. The part about women being submissive comes from Paul and I find a lot to argue with what he has to say about women. In fact in the same area of First Corinthians he suggests that it is better to be like him, single. I might even argue with that. Also a woman is not going to be looked upon with favor by God if she prays with her head uncovered. Now I mean really, do you honestly think that a woman has to cover her head in order for God to hear her prayer?

I read somewhere a comment about people who "worship" the Bible. For them it becomes God. The Bible is an historical record which may or may not be entirely factual. It is not the ultimate Truth. That is found elsewhere.Generally in our own hearts when we truly humble ourselves and "listen."

Women have been held down for centuries by patriarchal men interested in having unpaid servants. Women have generally been identified by some man's name. My mother had first her father's name, then her first husband and finally her second husband's name. I really don't understand it. I met a couple at a wedding and he had his name and she had hers. (She probably got it from her father). I was told it was because she had children from a first marriage and wanted to keep the name for them. Some couples use hyphenated names.

Women were not allowed to vote until this century. They were kept out of male dominated professions, not allowed to hold property in their own name,and have never been paid on a par with their male counterparts. I could go on but most of you know what I mean. Males use the Bible as justification for these practices. But they pick and choose. Why aren't women placed apart from society any more during and after their monthly "cycle"? Why aren't women who wear pearls not taken out and stoned? I submit because society would not allow it. Even the famous Ten Commandments treat women as chattel (property).

The Bible was written by men. Some of them may have thought that God was speaking to them but I doubt that most of them knew how to listen. Once in awhile I have felt an "angel message" from God. They have enriched my life and caused me to grow. My sister once did something very upsetting to most of us. Many in the family were ready to condem her and some did. I had the opportunity to really "listen" and think as I drove back from Boston. The message I got was that I needed to remember to love her unconditionally. The same way God loves ALL of His children. That is the real message of Christianity. I worship at an empty cross. Not a cross of torture and death but a cross that teaches me that by trying to follow Jesus' example I too, can overcome the human condition and live a life more spiritual.

I was asked recently to identify my religion. I have recently (for personal reasons) left the church I attended for over 30 years. I thought about what to put down on the blank and finally put down "spiritual." It is that spirituality that causes me to see that God's image is both male and female. God is Father-Mother or Mother-Father if you will. So you do not have to pretend to be a man Hatshepsut. Just be yourself. I truly admire a lot of women. Elizabeth Edwards comes to mind for her courage and willingness to stand up to hatred and fight it.

I was for the Equal Rights Amendment and still am. I think women and men need to have equal treatment under the law and I am outraged by those who would use the Bible to justify their narrowness and prejudice. The Bible is NOT God. We use it as a guide. Parts of it are outmoded and outdated. Jefferson had the right idea when he put together the Jefferson Bible. I know there are people out there who are not going to agree with me but that is all right. These are my ideas. You don't have to like them. If you don't open up a Blogger Account and start your own Blog. Or leave a comment. (If I don't like what you say I will delete you - with great satisfaction)- Since no one read me yesterday perhaps no one will read me today.


Hugs. j (pop)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Video about Freemasonry

This says a lot.

Quotation from Pablo Cassals on Children

"Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and never will be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two make four and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also ask them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed, there has never been a child like you. And look at your body - What a wonder it is; your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work - we all must work - to make this world worthy of its children."

Right now there is a movement here in Iowa to pressure the political candidates to put Education on the front burner in the campaign. I would request that they read and ponder the above.

Some politicians have been trying to undermine the schools and they use “buzz” words and ides such as “bad” teachers or poor schools. They criticize the schools because they are for all children and we do not make one religion the preferred one. Yes when I was a child we sang Christmas Carols in school. It did not bother me because I was a Christian. Today I realize that to do that is unfair to the Jewish or Muslim child. I can still sing those songs – just not in a school. That is the way it should be. The rights of the minority should not be trampled on by the majority.

Those politicians have instituted legislation, which forces schools to use testing to see that “no child is left behind.” (That implies that schools deliberately leave children behind.) That legislation takes money away from the poorest “performing” schools without regard to the reasons for that low performance. Instead of bolstering the schools that need it most they would deprive them of the money and support they need to help students become better achievers.

If you really want to support public schools and see that our great nation continues to maintain these schools high achievement you will look at the record of those politicians to see if they really support the schools or if they are paying “lip-service” to the idea of free public education. You will make your presence known at school and in your child’s life and not just use the schools as baby sitters. You will volunteer and help out at school.

You will take your children on trips to learn and involve them in the planning of those trips. YOU WILL READ TO THEM. You will let them (and the schools) know what you value and help out with those schools in any way you can. You won’t stereotype “all,” or “most” of the schools and bash them. You will become a part of the solution to helping schools become the best they can be.

Be loved. Love the children. Hugs. jcs

Tim Bonney

Tim Bonny's Blog has a great entry called Learning by Degrees. His Blog also has a new look. I recommend looking at it.

Tim is the Scribe/Treasurer for our new Green Degrees Council - Knight Masons. He is a minister and is becoming a good friend. I went out to his church service (contemporary) at First Baptist in Johnston last Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed myself. You can also find his sermons on the Internet.

I first became aware of him on the Masonic Light list when he was still in Indiana. When he came to Des Moines and affiliated with Daylight Lodge I went to his installation as Master. I was so impressed. He was installed as Master and immediately conferred the Fellowcraft Degree. Since then I have been more and more impressed.

Thanks Tim for being my friend and Brother.

My readership was down yesterday. Perhaps I need more jokes.

Be loved. Hugs. jcs

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
- Edwin Markham

An Association is an interesting concept. Wickipedia finds it hard to think of an association of one person. By its very nature there must be more than one. In childhood, children play with certain friends they go so far as to "exclude" others who are not "cool." I know how that feels. It happens in adult life also.

We think of associating with others. I belong to the National Education Association and of course, the Masons are an Association. By their very nature Associations must also exclude some folks. In the Lodge we call those who are not members the profane. Churches also use profane to describe those without.

In our Masonic work it mentions that we associate with those who otherwise might remain at a "perpetual distance." I have always appreciated that idea because I have met so many good Masons and their wives that I would never have known if not for my "association" with the Masonic Fraternity.

It used to be that you had to ask someone if you wanted to be a Mason. We were forbidden to invite someone to join. That has changed and we now have something called the "invitation to petition" where a potential Mason is invited to join.

Within Masonry there are other organizations. Some like the York Rite and the Scottish Rite are pretty much open to all. Once you are in the Lodge and have "proved up" you are invited to join these rites. Within these rites there are other organizations which are really honors in which you must be proposed and balloted on before you can receive an invitation to join.

Usually you are invited because of some service to the Orders or they see the potential for that service. In the case of the Scottish Rite there are the KCCH and the 33rd degree. You can't ask for them. They are honors based on service to Masonry or to the world. Usually Senators, Presidents, entertainment giants and big donors to certain causes get these honors. They are also given to workers in the Rite.

In the York Rite there is the York Rite College, the Red Cross of Constantine, the Knight Masons and the Allied Masonic Degrees. I get concerned sometimes when these organizations are used to "punish" those we would keep out rather than honor those who deserve it. But I am proud to be a member of all of them. I think the Red Cross of Constantine means the most to me. I was asked to join it when I was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of Iowa and I remember telling someone that it was more of an honor to me than being Grand High Priest.

As I said I get concerned when these organizations are used to "punish" others. I do not have any problem with the Investigation and unanimous ballot required to allow someone to become a Mason. Some men try to join the fraternity for mercenary motives or for other motives which are not pure. If we know everything we can know about a man and invite him to join we are helping to stabilize the fraternity. The Master at one point tells the candidate that "we admit none who ... are not of good report before the world." (paraphrased)

To me the ballot is not a tool to keep someone out but a method of saying "Welcome" Each member of the fraternity had to pass that unanimous ballot. Everyone who cast the white ball said in essence - "I welcome this man to become my brother Mason and I will aid and support him as my BROTHER."

In our lives there are all kinds of "levels" of Association. One thing I like about Masonry is that we meet upon the level. There are a lot of titles in the Masonic Fraternity but the one that counts is Brother and we may have as our brother a brick-layer, a college professor, a lawyer, or a doctor. Their profane titles do not mean anything in the Lodge. For us Brother is enough. We value and associate with him as a brother.

Sometimes we want a deeper association than someone is willing to give. Eventually we stop hoping for that and just accept what they are able to give. It doesn't mean our feelings are any less. It is just that we have to accept them and move on. Sometimes associations develop deeply and last for a lifetime. Other times they either are or become superficial. To me Friendship and Association is like the diamond - rude and unpolished to begin with but with work and polish under the engravers chisel we see the beauty that was there all the time.

I try to be a friend to all. I mess up sometimes for which I am truly sorry but I guess you can't live your life on regrets. I just have to keep on hoping that maybe someday I will get it right. And be inside that circle of love mentioned in the poem above.

Be loved. Hugs. j

Monday, June 25, 2007


Past Grand Master, Charlie Brinkerhoff shared this with me. I know I said that Star Children was enough for today but this shouldn't have to wait. Thanks Charlie.

In a small town in mid-19th century America a young man said to his wife, "Mary, you have a shawl you never use. May I have it?"

She was puzzled for a few moments, but got the shawl. He thanked her and left the house. She was also suspicious, because several evenings during the past few months he had left after dinner without any explanation. He was never gone long, and when he returned he seemed to have an inner peace about him. He said nothing, and neither did she.

About a week later, Mary was shopping in the village when she saw her shawl again. She was shocked. It was on the shoulders of a beautiful young lady. Angrily Mary followed the girl to a shabby shack. Mary knocked on the door. The girl opened it and smiled when she saw the visitor. She held the door open and Mary stomped in.

As May looked around she saw an elderly lady propped up on a cot. The lady smiled and said; "How nice of you to visit us."

Mary was stunned. She did not really know what to say. The girl asked if she could fix her a cup of tea. Mary nodded and the girl turned to put a kettle on the stove.

While the water was heating, Mary said "I do not know exactly what to say, so I will tell you the truth. I saw my shawl on your daughter and I was furious. Last week my husband asked me for it, but didn't tell me why. I still don't understand how you have it."

The mother said "We have no idea who left it. We have no idea who has been doing some nice things for us for the past several months. Perhaps now we can solve the mystery. It started soon after my husband died. We had no money and I am unable to work. And Nancy couldn't find a job. We were desperate. We had no food and no fuel. Then one morning when Nancy opened the door she found several packages of food, clothing and coal on the doorstep. You have no idea what that meant to us.

"A short time later, along with more packages, Nancy found a note telling her to see Mr. Tompkins, the lawyer, if she would like a job.
She did and Mr. Tompkins hired her. He sent a doctor to see, who has been coming regularly ever since. and he won't take any money. And we still find packages, but have no idea where they come from."

They drank their tea and chatted pleasantly for some time. The mysterious packages were mentioned from time to time. Suddenly Mary asked: "Was your husband a Mason?"

"Yes, he was," said the lady. "He loved his Lodge. I don't think he ever missed a meeting." A short time later Mary left, promising to visit often.

After dinner that evening, Mary worked on a quilt she was making while her husband read. She looked up from her work and said "I think I learned the great secret of Masonry today."

Her husband looked at her with alarm and asked, " And what is it?"
Mary answered, "To do good and not say anything about it."

The Masons of that small town had plucked off their shoes to help those in need. SHOULD WE DO ANYTHING LESS?

Millions of great men have been and are members of the Craft. Many have become truly Master Masons. But more have not. Actually, only a few Freemasons over the years literally plucked off a shoe and worked for the Fraternity. Imagine what a wonderful difference it should make throughout the world if only those millions who have received the Degrees would fulfill their obligations.

Will you ask yourself - "Have I sincerely plucked off my shoe in testimony of my fidelity to Freemasonry? "

If your answer is "No," will you consider plucking off your shoe? Will
you work for your fellowman through Freemasonry? If you will, you'll
make a difference for the better in today's uncertain world.


Star Children

A child should fill himself up with Stars
they will shine for him years later
in the darkest night. They will fortify him
against all greyness and bleakness -
against the humdrum of the worlds
old round and round. A child
can never have too many stars
And if there are elves in the grape arbor
on scented summer nights
or fireflies flashing signals
in the honeysuckle vines.
So much the better.

But most of all there should be Stars
their clustered promises of further light
blazing reassurance
to all puzzled children
through what ever night.
Doris Kerns Quinn

This is from my book of things I have saved. It is enough for today. Read it a couple of times - enjoy the imagery and be a child filling yourselves up with stars.

As it says in the Select Master Ritual.
"Lift my eyes from the earth and teach me the uses of the Stars."

You are loved. Hugs, jcs

Sunday, June 24, 2007


"The Secret" is about the law of attraction, which is positively thinking about something you want, and then getting it. Now you don't have to read the book. (The real secret is that there are just a whole lot of people out there who will pay good money if they think they are going to get a "secret" about something

People describe the Masonic Fraternity as a "secret society" - Not true. There is nothing "secret" about Freemasonry. Case in point. Go to Alexandria, Virginia and take a look at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

Right out there in the open for everyone to see. Masonic Lodges build meeting places and mark them with the Square and Compass for everyone to see. Nothing secret about us.

"If I tell you, I'd have to kill you" is a phrase we hear jokingly all the time regarding secrets. Well I will tell you. All of the so-called Masonic "secrets" are out there on the Web for everyone to find. Many of them are warped and interpreted incorrectly by anti-masonic sites. (Anti-Masons are those who wish to control others and have a perception that Masons are not going to fall into step with them and do what they want. For the most part they are correct. Masons value individual liberty and freedom of thought. They don't like that. So they make up things to say about us for the gullible to believe.)

We are a "private" society. Our meetings (for the most part) are closed meetings. You must be a member to attend. That is not unusual. What goes on in those meetings is designed to give the initiate an experience he will not forget and begin to teach him valuable "life lessons." To build our "character" and make us as worthy be be living stones in the eternal Temple built in the heavens.

In that we are successors to the primitive "Men's Houses" in which young boys were taken to undergo ceremonies which would turn them into men in the eyes of their society. We do this in the form of "mystery plays" designed to cause the initiate to look deep within himself and see what kind of a man he is and what he wants to be. (Note this is my interpretation of what are ceremonies are. I have not heard this idea expressed elsewhere.)

Women also have their secret societies. The most famous being the PEO. They say that PEO stands for philanthropic educational organization - Others tell me that it is Pappa's Evening Out or People Eat Onions. I did hear an explanation for the three letters from someone who purported th have received it from a girlfriend.
That made the most sense to me but I am not going to repeat it because I respect their right to their secret. And besides, it doesn't make any difference and it makes them feel better to hold their secrets separate from men.

I got to thinking about these so-called secrets because of yesterday's initiations. I had been initiated into the Knight Masons years ago. Yesterday I re-learned the so-called "secrets" of the order. By tomorrow I may have forgotten them again. What is important is that I agreed to keep them secret and not to reveal them to anyone not entitled to receive them. I have done this in every Masonic or Masonic affiliated organization I have ever joined.

I have promised to do a lot of things when I took the various obligations and let me tell you that these do not "conflict with my duty to God, my country, my neighbor, or myself" They are designed to make me a better person in relationship to God (but I must have a belief in Him and also must have my own religion) to my country (must be a peaceable citizen) and to my fellow man.

I am a better person because these obligations cause me to think about the person I am.

I saw a movie the other day called "The Good Shepherd." In that movie the hero (if you can call him that) is initiated into the Skull and Bones society. The society includes many powerful men, including John Kerry and George Bush. Morey Safer reports on it here.

It appears to be a super secret society (much like the Masons are accused of) and during the depiction of the initiation the inductee is humiliated. Stripped naked and caused to tell the Bonesmen something that he has never told anyone else. (A secret)

There are Masonic Secrets but the true "secret" of a Mason is what he puzzles out for himself. The so-called secrets are merely modes of recognition which, as I said earlier, have all been exposed on the Web. Of course you can go looking and find several different interpretations of these secrets. Some of them are more accurate than others and I won't tell you the difference.

If you tell someone a secret is it really a secret. There are a few people from whom I have no secrets but even then I won't tell them everything. Probably because my most private thoughts are just to dumb. Oh well.. no man of mystery here.

There is the Secret Service (you can certainly spot them when the president is around) and the "secret recipes for "Bushes Beans" and Coca Cola, The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky and the ever popular Victoria's Secret.

Our society is full of purported "secrets" and it seems as if we can't get enough of them. Some of us in the Masonic Fraternity keep joining various organizations in hopes that we will find the "ultimate secret" - If I find it I won't tell you then "I'd have to kill you. Have a good Sunday and keep searching. Remember You are Loved. Hugs. j

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Poem

Ok, I told you that I was not going to put the "soap opera that is my life" on here any more so I have to search to find something to write about.

A friend once sent me this poem. It is by Les Ralson

In Some Ways However Small and Secret

In some ways, however small and secret
Each of us is a little bit mad.
Everyone is lonely at bottom
And cries to be understood.
But we can never entirely understand someone else.
And each of us remains part stranger.
Even to those who love us.

It is the weak who are cruel,
Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.
Those who do not know fear
Are not really brave,
For courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined.
And you can understand people better if you look at them
No matter how old, or impressive they are
As if they were children.

For most of us never really mature,
We simply grow taller.
And happiness comes only when we push our hearts and brains
To the furtherest reaches of which we are capable.
For the purpose of life is to matter.
To count,
To stand for something,
To have it make a difference that you lived,
At all.

I never know what is going to set me off on one of my writings. In this case, I was looking through a book that I have in which I copied out some things that I found or that people sent to me over the years. I call the book "These are a Part of Me." It was originally a blank book and I just put things into it that I wanted to keep and read again later. I can't find Les Ralson when I google him nor if I google the title of his poem but I like it and hope you did also.

I also wrote in the book that I thought "Success is making a suggestion or a contribution and having others recognize it merits or knowing that what you have done has made a difference."

I think I felt that way because it is sometime hard as an elementary teacher to see that what you have done did make a difference. So,

happiness comes only when we push our hearts and brains
To the furtherest reaches of which we are capable.
For the purpose of life is to matter.
To count,
To stand for something,
To have it make a difference that you lived,
At all

Once in awhile you do find out that you made a difference. I had a former student send me an e-mail which said " I thank you for the gift of curiosity, or learning and or practicallity that you have bestowed on me and others, for these things have and will continue to play a big part in the composition of my individuality." A parent sent a letter to my principal in which she stated "It is a wonderful thing to have a teacher who consistently inspires her to go above and beyond and is willing to take the time to grade the resulting papers...Mr Simser is a very special teacher. Edwards is lucky to have him..."

You don't always hear that and I still remember how I felt when my principal in 2000 shared that letter with me.

I think that one of the reasons I love being a Mason is that, with the ritual work, you know right away if you have done the right thing. I gave an Apron Lecture last night and Bill Y gave me a big grin when I was done and a "thumbs up" sign. Another Brother told me how much he liked my giving it. When you go to Lodge you know that you are doing something correctly. You don't always know that in life and certainly not with relationships. I guess you just have to try to do your best and hope that people appreciate it.

I have said before that I don't seem to be able to write poetry right now but this blog does help me keep my creative juices flowing. It is more meaningful to me because others read it (even if I don't get many comments) and hopefully they find what I write worthwhile. Of course it does take away some of my sleep because I sometimes find myself thinking about what I will write on here and do not fall off to sleep right away (or maybe there is some other reason I was awake until almost 2:00 list night)but I suppose that is good for me because it keeps me thinking about something other than my "pity parties"

So that is my post for today. I will share other items from my book from time to time. I have some really neat things in it and I hope you enjoy them.

You are loved, Hugs - j

Happy Birthday - Jane Russell

Gosh - 86 years old. They don't make movies (or women) like this any more!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Sometime I have a hard time deciding what to write about. Today I am inspired by Miss Manners who writes:
“…none of this trumps the fact that presents are always voluntary, and attempts to extract them are rude and therefore justly offensive to the targets.
But periodic payments in the form of presents do not alone establish a relationship – even if you could succeed in getting them, which you cannot.”

Ayn Rand was a philosopher whose ideas are expressed by Wikipedia as

She believed that individuals must choose their values and actions solely by reason, and that "Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others." According to Rand, the individual "must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."

I remember reading her books when I was in college and thinking that some things she said made sense. I remember thinking that generosity was not a fault but a virtue because it gave me happiness to give things to others. (So is it an act of selfishness for me to give something?)

Wikipedia says,
“A gift is a voluntary act which does not require anything in return. Even though it involves possibly a social expectation of reciprocity, or a return in the form of prestige or power, a gift is meant to be free. In many human societies, the act of mutually exchanging gifts may contribute to social cohesion.”

I like to give. I have a friend whose mother, when she knew she was dying of cancer, gave many of the treasures she had collected to her friends who came to visit her. She got pleasure in her last days by giving.

I always get more pleasure in giving things to people and organizations I care for than I have from getting. (And it is probably a good thing cause I don’t always get much) - I remember giving a small piece of Masonic Jewelry to someone and the look of pleasure on his face was worth much more to me than the intrinsic value of the charm. You could tell that he really liked getting it.

Sometimes I like to give anonymously and don’t tell anyone about it. Sometimes I don’t think and just give in front of others. That is not as satisfying. It is much more pleasurable to just slip the gift to a person. In either case the pleasure I get from knowing that I have given something that they like is worth more than the gift itself.

I like to give to certain organizations. My favorite Charity in Ames is the Youth and Shelter Services. Years ago when George Belitsos was just starting this Charity I served on the board as a director/representative of the Masons. I think the work they do is outstanding. I have witnessed the results and know that the lives they have changed have made a difference in our society. I try to give them something each year. Usually in memory of my mother who once told me not to purchase a brick in her name for the “Plaza of Heroines” because she would rather have the money going to help someone.

My grandparents also gave to people. Sometimes they helped entire families and kept them from having to be split up and separated. I know of at least one case where my grandmother helped a woman get into a nursing home in Des Moines. She had taken care of her parents and did not have much money. They gave in many ways that no one would ever know about.

My sister’s grandparents were not that way. They kept things and those things meant more to them than the people around them. My step-father once broke a candy dish and his mother took her hat off and would not go on a planned family outing and laid so much guilt on this little boy that he never forgot it.

Their son was a gift from God. I think they squandered that gift. The gift of love for another is also precious. That gift can be reciprocated or not. It doesn't matter. God give His gift of love to all of His creation. I John says "We love Him because he first loved us." It is too bad that so many squander that love and waste it. Sometimes we do it consciously and other times it is unconscious.

My grandmother was different. One time I slept on the couch in the living room. On either side of the couch was a small table with an antique lamp on it. In the morning one of the lamps was gone. During the night I had tossed and knocked the lamp over. It was broken beyond repair. All my grandmother ever said was that “she” shouldn’t have left the lamp there. There was not one iota of guilt laid upon me. That was a gift she gave to me that feelings are more important than things.

So I get pleasure from giving. I have been told that I am “too generous” but that is not so. I am getting more pleasure by being able to see that someone likes what I have given them than the “thing’ could ever give me.

When anyone close to me ever went on a trip they always tried to bring something back to their friends and family. I like to do that also.

I really like it when someone really thinks about what they give me. (See I like to get also) but so many times there is not much thought that goes into what I get. Not really important. I always take more to Christmas than I bring home.

Once a gift is given I have no control over what happens to it. I do like to see that it is used and the person appreciated the gift but that is not what is important. What is important is that they enjoyed getting it as much as I enjoyed giving it to them.

I guess you might say that my blog is a gift to my readers. I know that the blogs I read feel like gifts to me so I hope you think of this as my “gift” to you – Have a great day…that is God’s gift to us.

You are loved! Hugs jcs


This is for Larry! Not sure how it will work but give it a listen. If you find it messes things up I will remove it. j

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And now for a little (Biblical) Humor

Thanks to Anne for this

Today we will take a humorous look at some questions &
answers relating to events written in the Bible. I hope
that it will get your day started with a good laugh or two, as It has

for me, by just reading the following.....

Q. What do they call pastors in Germany?

A. German Shepherds.

Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?

A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone
else was in liquidation.

Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the

A. Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank
of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.

Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?

A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden
in a "Fury". David's "Triumph" was heard throughout the
land. Also, probably a "Honda," because the apostles
were all in one "Accord."

Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?

A. Samson. He brought the house down.

Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as
to why they no longer lived in Eden?

A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant
lawbreaker in the Bible?

A. Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at once.

Q. Which area of Palestine was especially

A. The area around Jordan. The banks were always

Q. Who is the greatest baby sitter mentioned in
the Bible?

A. David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.

Q. Which Bible character had no parents?

A. Joshua, son of Nun.

Q. Why didn't they play cards on the Ark?

A. Because Noah was standing on the deck.


Friends are God's way of taking care of us....

PS... Did you know it's a sin for a woman to make

Yup, it's in the Bible.

Is it not written?: . . . "Hebrews"

Profound Thought

I get an e-mailing from John Selby Spong. Someone wrote and asked about the second coming of Jesus. The following was part of his response. I had to share it.

On an even deeper level I think Christ comes each day in me when I live fully, love wastefully and dare to be all that I can be. When I assist others in the task of living loving and being, I think Christ comes to them. I commend that pattern to you.

- John Shelby Spong

A Masonic Toast to my Readers

Masonic Toasting "Gavels" (cannons)

Last night I went to the Royal Mile Pub for a Table "Lodge" which is a Masonic tradition extending back to when the Lodges met in Ale Houses and Taverns. The pictures are of two Masonic Toasting Gavels which I have in my collection. They are both modern reproductions but I am glad to have them.

One time when I was visiting the Grand Lodge Library in Cedar Rapids my friend "Red" Dale pointed one out to me. It had been given to the Grand Lodge by Sadie Cole of Ames, Iowa. She was an antique dealer and Past Matron of Eastern Star and when someone brought her a box of old dishes she recognized this for what it was. Her father was a past master of Arcadia Lodge in Ames and her husband was a Mason. She donated it to the Grand Lodge and it was fun to discover it there. It is more ornate than these.

The Table Lodge got me to thinking about the subject of toasts. There were also toasts at the wedding so I decided to investigate just what a toast was. An interesting history of toasting can be found here. It seems that in ancient Greece the toast was taken by the host first who sipped his glass of wine and then raised it in the air to show that it wasn't poisoned. The Romans put a piece of burnt toast into their wine to improve the wine by reducing the acidity. The practice evolved from there.

Wikipedia says that the toast is to "honor" someone.

Many Grand Lodges frown upon the use of liquor. Kind of funny for a group that started meeting in taverns but as my friend Jerry Marsingill used to say the WCTU got involved during the anti-masonic times and the rest is history. Today Lodges may hold Table Lodges but if held in the Temple the "powder" (what you put in the "cannon" (toasting gavel) is non-alcoholic. In fact, we can't even rent our premises to a group that will serve alcohol.

The Masonic Table Lodge is a strictly regulated system of toasting at the festive board. This was not the case at the Scottish Rite Table Lodge. Toasts were more informal and the structure was a lot looser. They did, however perform the ritual toasting associated with the toast.

Gentlemen please be upstanding is a web site that gives you some of the Masonic Toasts.
They say:

"After most lodge meetings in this jurisdiction are ended, the officers and brethren will retire to the banquet room for what is often referred to as the Festive Board. This gathering is opened with a prayer, conducted with certain toasts, and closed with the Tyler’s Toast. The following are a small selection of appropriate remarks. Brethren are advised to consult with the Director of Ceremonies regarding the proper salutations and titles for the occasion, as these may be an individual lodge decision."

There is a form for giving the toast which is loosly this:
Brethren before we continue, I would like to share some Festive Board Etiquette with you:

When the Proposer says: Brethren please be upstanding;
EVERYONE—(unless the toast is for you) will rise
Raise your Cannon shoulder high with your arm extended straight out
With the Proposer, repeat in unison, to whom the Toast is for

Then take a Drink

Return your Cannons to the table

Following the taking of wine, Remain Standing for the "Quick Fire"


Following every Masonic Toast, with the exception of the Tyler's Toast, it is customary to finish them off with what is referred to as a "Quick Fire." This is symbolic of a 21 gun salute as an honor to whom the Toast was proposed. The Quick Fire is given thusly, taking your time from the proposer;

Place your Right Elbow in your Left Hand

With your Right Index Finger, I (he) will direct you to


You will then Clap your hands Rapidly Once, and then Three Times Three or Nine, Thusly:

+ / +++ / +++ / +++

The form we used last evening did not involve being upstanding and the directions were somewhat different. The Toastmaster had us "charge our cannons (gavels) He would then say "Ready" and we would take hold of our glass "Aim" and we would bring it to the lips. Then we would repeat for whom the toast was for. He would say "fire" and we would take a sip. Then raising our glass out in front of us we would move it in a triangular motion three times - slam it to the table with a loud bang (see the need for the thick bottom on the glass) and give the battery of "three times three" All would then shout "Vivat, vivat, vivat" and the toast would be over.

Somewhat different but really very enjoyable. The evening also included singing and education.

Arcadia Lodge will have a Table Lodge on July 20 and it will be at the Basil restaurant. Last night we had traditional British Pub fare.(I had Guinness pie) On the 20th I believe it is Pork Loin. The cost is $30 and includes a souvenir shot glass. Our Table Lodge will have a speaker and the Toastmaster usually tells some awful jokes. We also have a response to each toast. All in all it is a lot of fun and a great time is usually had by all. We also use the occasion to levy fines on brothers for various reasons. No tie. Toasting cannon in the wrong spot on the table. (Yes that is very regulated) A lot of teasing and ribbing - good natured fun and the Charity fund grows richer. I have tickets if you are interested. Of course it goes without saying you have to be a Mason. Cannons may be charged with several kinds of "powder" Usually wine, beer or soda. (Off premises and privately sponosored)

Remember you are loved. Hugs help. jcs

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday Evening Posting

OK, Some of you who are regular readers of this blog will notice that some crap has been edited out of my recent postings. I really don't need to put all of that "stuff" up there and it was upsetting to someone. In deference to them and because I plan to go more "private" I am going back to using this as a chance to put my thoughts out there about things that aren't so personal.

I am going to fight with people when they tick me off and I hope they will do the same with me. That is the way to clear the air and I think my air is clear now. I am also going to keep on writing but don't expect me to put the personal feelings up there. They will be between me and a few close friends.

Bailey went to the groomer today and he looks beautiful. I really love the little guy and I should brush him more often. I have to have him up there by 7:30 AM so that means getting dressed early. I found the book I thought I had left in Texas. So I put "The Religion" aside for now and went back to it. This one is shorter while "The Religion is 700 and some pages. Not really into reading the last few days but perhaps I can get going again.

I went to Des Moines to the Royal Mile English Pub for the dinner and Table Lodge sponsored by the Des Moines Scottish Rite and I had a great time. There were a lot of people there to celebrate the 290th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge. (Just think ten years to the 300th anniversary!) Ron Linehart was the Toastmaster and he prepared a great program with interesting facts about the history of Masonry.

The company was convivial and I had a lot of fun. Dave, Tim, Dan, Evertt and Darrel sat at my table and we had a lot of fun. There were some guys there who were pretty loud but they were having fun. I had Guinness pie and it was delicious. I wish I were able to go back tomorrow night but perhaps that would be too much of a good thing.

Tomorrow is York Rite, Thursday is Lodge, Saturday I have Knight Masons and Allied Masonic Degrees. I do not have anything scheduled for Friday night so if someone wants to go out for dinner send me an e-mail ( I will be happy to have something to do.

I seem to have things in line and am much better - Thanks to all who supported me through this. You are much appreciated and I am fortunate in my friends.

Remember - You have a right to be loved. Hug somebody and check back tomorrow. j

Tuesday Rant

I get so sad when I hear the news about increased bombings in North Africa and more deaths in Iraq. I saw a news spot about soldiers leaving home and telling their kids good bye. I have been brooding on that for a long time. I hear things that put others down all the time. There are people who make jokes about gay people. Someone said that it stood for "Got Aids Yet" I told him it stood for "Good As You" - I know he thought it was being said in jest but that kind of jest hurts people. When I was in high school I did not know any black people. Since then I have met many and consider them to be good friends. They did not deserve the jokes at their expense any more than the Mexicans do today. Gays can't help being gay and the homophobes who go around and picket funerals with "God Hates Fags" signs just piss me off. God doesn't hate. God is Love and he loves all his creation. Even the non Christian.

Jesus made it clear when He was here what God wants. He did not condemn the woman taken in adultery. He said something like "Judge Not" - He said "Suffer the little children." He condemned, Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites. Seems to me the world is full of them today. The Republiscums (Not the real Republicans) are always bashing someone. They have their big elephant noses in everything. I can't see how it would hurt for two women or two men to enter into a marriage and raise children nor how it would harm their marriages.. After all they are just going to get a divorce and marry a younger person anyway. Case in point, Newt Gingrich and the woman who shared my table at the wedding.

All of these things get me to brooding and I needed someone to talk to about it and guess what folks you get to be it. I know some of you who read this blog and I appreciate you a lot. I know others have decided it is too much to keep up with and have not read it. Be that as it may I appreciate my readers. As I said before it is a way of communicating with my sister and my best friend although I don't know if he still reads it. I got the nicest e-mail from Ginny last night. She has been through hell and still tries to be optimistic I am glad she has found such a great guy and is doing so well in her life. She has regrets (mainly that she didn't hug people more and tell them how much they meant to her. Hugs help. Sometimes just a look and a smile makes the bad go away.

I guess this has turned into a rant after all. Take a look at this little film on Youtube. Numa Numa is a little song that always makes me feel better and these kids are cute. I think it was a home movie when the folks were away.

Be Happy, You are loved. Hugs help. j

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Diary

The Edwards Retirees had lunch together today. It was nice to see everybody and I enjoyed my lunch at Aunt Maudes. Bev Baum organized these and I appreciate her doing it. I can't always go but always enjoy myself when I do go. It is hard to visit with everyone, however.

Shirley (house cleaner) came this afternoon. I really appreciate her. She does a good job and the house really needed it.

I went to Acanthus for two Second Degrees. Ron Linehart did the "stair" lecture and he does a beautiful job. I think I have mentioned that before. I really enjoyed it. There is layer upon layer of symbolism in his lecture and I get something new out of it every time. It was good to see the Brothers.

Be loved my friends. Hugs. j


In yesterday's Parade Magazine it says
"Emotional connection is a biological imperative and we pay a high price for ignoring it. Isolation is what's unnatural -- and deadly."

It says that to be emotionally healthy we must make connections.

I used to have a friend who was an emotional vampire. She would call me up to complain about her life. First her husband then one of her kids. I mean it was constant! If I had a problem with something her response would be "Oh really!" and then go right back to what she was talking about. I finally figured it out and eventually extracted myself from the situation (there were also other reasons but I won't go into them).

I have been accused of wearing my emotions on my sleeve and I have been thinking about that accusation. Yes I have. I didn't used to be that way. No one really knew me or about me. I had one person say something to me and I realized that her perception of me was flat and one sided. Because that was all I was willing to show her.

I want some emotions of joy in my life. People ask me if I miss teaching. I don't miss anything but the kids. Never having kids of my own I got into teaching because I love kids.

I also miss having a family. I grew up in a large extended family. Over the years that has diminished and now there are few of us. I never hear from most of them and frankly that is all right. Some of them said some very hurtful things when my sister had her problems. I find that hard to forget. I was hoping to be included in another family but that is obviously not going to work out.

You can't really make connections in a Lodge meeting. It is the after time that counts.

Making connections - Anybody have any suggestions? Don't suggest getting involved in a singles group or church. I am not interested in dating or sex. Just a chance a emotional closeness. Somebody I can be honest with who is willing to spend some time visiting about a wide range of things (not just lunch on a schedule) and do things spontaneously once in awhile. Someone who is willing and able to share their feeling freely with me and tell me when I f**k up.

As it says in the Council prayer - "Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am and not for what little I may possess."

Somebody is loved. Hugs and thanks for listening. j

Sunday, June 17, 2007

At World's End

I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean, At Worlds End this afternoon. I loved it. A bit long but it kept my interest. I think my favorite part was the wedding during the fight on board the ship. I laughed out loud. Actually I laughed out loud several times. Johnny Depp is a great actor and I loved it that the ending left a promise of a future film.

The only person to show up for practice was Jeremy so we decided not to practice. Hope everyone had a good day. You are loved. Be Happy! jcs

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wedding photos

All in all I may be a Wedding Cynic but I still cry at weddings. This was especially nice because they are such nice kids. You can see that in their faces. May their love last forever.

Wedding Cynic

One of my former students is getting married today and I am happy for him and his bride. I wish them the very best in their marriage. I am afraid, however, that I am a bit cynical about marriages. The Christian Churches say that a marriage is between one man and one woman. They have politicized it to the point where it is a very divisive thing in our society. They also say that Jesus blessed the marriage a Cana and of course Jesus had some things to say about divorce.
I am glad I am not married - sometimes. At other times I wish I had that love in my life. I think I was always afraid to give that much of myself. Some of my friends accuse me of wearing my emotions on my sleeve. I guess I do here on the Blog but unless you are reading it or unless I care a lot about you I will never show those feelings to you.

I can go just so far in a relationship and then I will back off for fear of being hurt or by actually being hurt. I think I am at that point in one right now. Sometimes the person does not even know what was done was hurtful.

I know that there are a lot of types of marriage. Just scanning the article on Marriage linked earlier will give you an overview. I understand that in the Muslim world the Prophet says something like it is all right to have four wives and then goes on to say that you must treat them equally and adds that this is an impossibility.

My earliest memory is attending my Aunt Jo's wedding. It was beautiful and they sang "Always." I was probably about 4 years old and it made quite an impression on me. There's was a successful marriage.

Over the years I have observed many marriages (including two of my mothers) and the best one was that of my grandparents. They were married for over 50 years and my grandfather worshiped my grandmother. When she died he lost his reason for living and slowly declined. Other marriages have not always been so successful. In our country we seem to practice serial polygamy - marring several spouses one at a time. On the soap opera I watch (General Hospital) it is hard to keep track of all of the marriages and weddings and just who has been married to who. Sometimes I feel like that in real life.

My Uncle once said that the only reason to get married was to have children. (He was a smart man but not always right about everything) Well I have news for him. If that is the case why do two 80 year old people get married? You can also have children without being married.

One wedding I went to (also a former student) the congregation was told that it would be a successful marriage (The minister referred to it as "Team ________") because the bride was such a servant! A servant! Sounds to me like that was to be a type of slavery. I was appalled. Several of us were. In fact, we made reference to the blood dripping out of our mouths for biting out tongues right in half.

I don't mind people getting married. I thought about it when I was younger but I always found some reason to avoid it. Probably because I didn't like myself very much and I also found some reason to think that I could not spend the rest of my life with that person. One was such a bigot that I stopped dating her all together. I also did not have very successful marriages in my immediate life. My mother married two losers - One a womanizer and the other an alcoholic.

I look at some people who are married and wonder why they are married. It seems as if they don't even like each other. One such marriage (now ended) the husband constantly put the wife down. She finally got enough gumption to leave him and I admire her for that. Her life is not the same but she certainly is better off without him.

Some marriages seem to be about control. The wife (or the husband) has the power and the spouse must check with them before they do anything. If not, there are recriminations. My mother used to be upset when her friend said, "I'll have to check with _________ before I can tell you whether or not I can go." Of course she did not like men much at all at that stage in her life. I have a feeling she used to like them a lot.

Then there are spouses who cheat or have affairs. I have known of men who leave their wives for younger women...that is an ego thing. Sometimes the spouse finds out - they divorce and go their separate ways. At other times they live their fantasy of a perfect marriage or stay together "for the sake of the children." Then there are the Clinton's...but I won't go into that.

I think I can understand it. Sometimes they have an "Open Marriage" - it is all right for them to have sex with other people - as long as they don't really develop a relationship with them. Just scratching an itch, so to speak.

I really have to say that I know there are a lot of relationships that pass the test of time. Yes, even gay ones. I have two sets of friends who have been together for over 20 years and of course there are those who are married in the traditional sense for 50 or 60 years. Sometimes they act like they are still in love and teenagers. I believe I mentioned an aunt and uncle who had each other's names tattooed on their arms.

I once saw a couple in the grocery store and they inspired the poem I have shared previously. I will share it again here.

Dancin’ The Slow Dance!

January 11, 2005

They came down the aisle,
Side by side,
Arm in arm.
Left foot right foot,
Forward together,
They’re dancin’ the slow dance now.

Not for them intricate steps of a Tango, Rumba or Waltz,
No Boogie Woogie, Charleston, or Cha Cha Cha
He doesn’t sweep her around the floor or dip her way back,
But they still move together,
Slow dancin’ to the music of life

You can tell theirs has been a long dance
The way they move together
A joy to watch for those who see.
(Most don’t see them).
Just an old couple moving slowly through the store

But there is rare beauty in their movement
Side by side,
Arm in arm,
Left feet forward.
Right feet forward
They’re slow dancin’ the last dance together.

So to my student and his bride I wish for you a marriage like these folks had. I hope that when you are "old and gray" you will still be together - dancing whatever dance you are able to dance. I hope you will be able to look back over the years to this day and think of it as the beginning of a beautiful life together. God Bless you both!

You are loved. Be happy! Hugs

Friday, June 15, 2007

Google Analytics

Abut a month ago I put a little program on this Blog to let me know about traffic to the blog. It gives me a lot of information. I already had a counter on it and I should have 3,000 hits in the next few days.

Since I put the program on May 19 to yesterday the information gleaned is as follows:

All traffic sources sent a total of 463 visits

69.98% Direct Traffic

26.35% Referring Site3.67% Search Engines
The most visitors in one day was 19, The least was 6. Yesterday there were 13
They came from the following places in the world:
Europe - 8; Australia and New Zealand – 1; Asia 8 – Including 1 from Japan and 1 from Ankara, Turkey; South America - Argentina, Peru and 7 from Brazil
Canada – 6 visits
US – Washington – 2;Oregon – 2; California – 4
Colorado –1; Utah – 2; Oklahoma – 5; Nebraska – 3; Texas – 19 ;Alabama – 1;Minnesota-7;New York – 2; New Hampshire – 1; Illinois – 3; Indiana – 1; Ohio – 5
Pennsylvania – 1; Alabama – 1; North Carolina – 1
In Iowa – 207
Des Moines - 111
Ogden - 3
Ames - 34
Newton -29
Iowa City - 9
Wyoming - 1
Johnston - 11

I don't know how interesting you find these statistics but it is interesting to me and besides I went to Des Moines last night for Chapter and was out until 12:15. Then I was up at 6:15 and I am to weary to think much. You are loved - Be Happy! Hugs, j

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I heard a figure the other day that just boggles my mind. I hear that there were 43,000 auto fatalities on US Roads. So I Googled it and found the number along with a table showing the break-down. This is just incredible to me. We have 3,000 deaths in Iraq and everyone is up in arms about it and yet there does not seem to be much going on about auto fatalities. In fact, they talk about how the fatalities are down because cars are much safer.

I just finished driving a couple of thousand miles and did not see many accidents. I did see one the other day (before my trip) on I-35 on the way to Des Moines. A car was upside down along the road and there were people all around trying to help. I did not see anything in the paper about it so perhaps no one died. Accidents seem to be to commonplace for them to be newsworthy. The first auto fatality was in 1899 in New York City. The victims name was Harry Bliss. That is according to one person. Another place says the victim was Mary Ward who died when she fell from a steam carriage in 1869 and was run over.

Car accidents cause damage and personal injury and I don't even want to get into that. Suffice it to say that my sister is in a wheel-chair because of a car accident.

I do want to address driving behavior today. I know that I drive a little fast. If I don't go with the flow I get passed, left and right. So I was taught to go with the average speed of the motorists on the road with me. The ones who don't - The ones who drive along at just the speed limit or a little below the speed limit. Gripping the steering wheel and staring straight ahead are the dangerous drivers. Usually they have white hair and thick glasses.

The other behavior I saw that upsets me is the ones with their hand up to their ear..talking on their cell phones. Usually these are weaving a little so you have to watch that they don't drift into your lane. One woman today was at a flashing red light. (take turns please) and talking on the phone. It was her turn but she just sat there talking. The rest of us decided to just go on but we were cautious.

One person I knew used to regularly drive between Ames and Des Moines reading her professional journals. Not a safe practice. Neither is eating a bowl of soup - a behavior I once read about.

I found most of the drivers on the trip to be courteous. Not like the ones in San Francisco who cut across six lanes of traffic with their hand out the window..middle finger extended.

I see a lot of people who just ignore basic traffic rules by cutting across lanes switching lanes in and out to get ahead of others and just plain being discourteous.

I think we need to crack down on poor driving behaviors. I saw one sign that said if I hit a worker in a construction zone the fine would be $10,000 and I would lose my license. I saw several which said "Fines double in construction zones" but this one caught my attention.

Another thing. Headlights! In some cars the headlights come on when you turn on the key. In some states it is the law to have your headlights on when it is raining and you have your windshield wipers on. This makes sense. We drove in a lot of rain. Some of it blinding. It was hard to see many cars and small tail lights on cars and trucks were also dangerous.

I am not sure what should be done about all of this. I had a great driving instructor. When I was taking lessons in Gilbert, Iowa in 1958 Mr. Peterson took us to Des Moines in the evening to give us the experience of driving on multi-lane streets and my Uncle Dave also helped by seeing to it that I drove every vehicle which was available to be driven. Many of them straight stick.

Later, between my Junior and Senior year in High School I drove in California. My Aunt Ellen's Friend helped me also by teaching me to drive in big city traffic. Those lessons still help me today. I also learned to think of all the other cars on the road as loaded guns pointed right at me.

Something needs to be done about the number a fatalities and accidents on our roads. I had one person that I would not ride with. She was so unconscious about her driving that it was a wonder that she was not in more accidents.

My Great Aunt Ethyl Meeker used to drive all over. She even drove to California when she was 80 years old. She told me that every time she got into the car she affirmed that there was "Intelligence (Mind) at the wheel." I have used that myself and it helps.

Thanks for listening. You are loved. Hugs. j

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vanity Fair

While I was gone my new issue of Vanity Fair came.

I have subscribed to this magazine for years. I look forward to it every month. This month is very special. It was guest edited by Bono and is all about Africa. Or at least mostly about Africa. There is one story about Princess Diana. I have just finished skimming it and want to share something.

There are 20 different covers for this issue. Each cover has someone famous telling another famous person something. My cover has Bishop Desmond Tutu telling Brad Pitt -
"A person is a person through other persons; you can't be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships."

The article that goes along with this cover is Brad Pitt interviewing Bishop Tutu and I have read that one. I will read others but this one jumped out at me to read. In it Bishop Tutu tells us about ubuntu, an African word he says is the essence of being human. It says that a person is a person through other persons. You can't be human in isolation. You are human only in relationships.

I had a conversation with my best friend's mother at a birthday party and she told me she was so happy that her son had found the Masons. She said that she had read that you can't be emotionally healthy without belonging to organizations. I believe she mentioned a magic number of six organizations over time. That goes right along with this concept of ubuntu. I had never thought of that idea before that conversation and now this article is bringing it all back to me.

One of the things about the Masons is that because they understand the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God they help others. The combined giving of Masonic institutions is over 2 million dollars a day. If you google Masonic+giving+charity you will get 198,000 hits in .19 seconds. Most of the time it is done quietly.

Pitt and Tutu have a wide ranging conversation about relationships and I recommend that you get the magazine and read it and the other articles about Africa and what is happening there.

In 1976 I was in Africa. Egypt is actually on the northeast corner of the continent. I will never forget the images of poverty I saw there. Perhaps the most vivid image to remain with me was a little girl in a dirty, torn dress standing in a doorway which wasn't really a doorway, just a hole in a wall with a piece of stained fabric hanging over it. She was just standing there - curly black hair in need of a comb, face in need of a wash with flies swarming around her eyes. I don't imagine that she is still with us but I think of her and wish for her sisters and brothers around the world a better chance than she had.

We are all people together on this planet and to paraphrase the founders of our country we must all live together or we will all die together. The world will survive only if we begin to be less selfish and help others in Africa and here at home. There is enough to do for everyone to help. And every little bit helps the bigger picture.

The interview concludes with Tutu saying:
"We have the capacity to feed everybody on our planet. We have the capacity to ensure that everybody has clean water. We have the capacity to ensure that everybody has affordable health care. We have the capacity to ensure that every child gets the inoculations that they ought to have as children. We can prevent many of the diseases to which our children in poorer parts of the world succumb. For goodness' sake. Why don't we wake up to the fact that you can't have an apartheid security. you can't have an apartheid prosperity. If you are going to have security, it is going to be security for all. If you are going to have prosperity, it is going to be prosperity for all. If you want to be free, you can't have quarantine freedom. It's going to be a freedom for all. And if you want to be human, we aren't going to be able to be human in isolation. It will be that we are human together."

Africa is the home of humanity. It is well to remember that and do all we can to help there.

You are loved. Be happy. Hugs. j

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catching Up

I have been playing "catch up" all day with newspapers, mail, laundry etc. I went through the mail and except for a few bills there wasn't much of note. That is at it usually is. I get more e-mail than regular mail. Not enough of those at times. I love to hear from people...especially some people.

As for the newspapers there wasn't much in them either. Nobody I knew died (thankfully) - The Ames paper was full of gay-bashing (letters to the editors) because there is a group running ads in the area. There was also a lot of fussing about school boundaries, a professor who did not get tenure because he believes in "Intelligent Design" (according to the letters supporting him) and of course, the proposed chaplain for the football team.

I am against that. Not that I am against chaplains but I am opposed to placing them in schools or in public venues where people who believe differently might have to be pressured by a certain religion or even a denomination within that religion. It seems what the coach wants the chaplain to do is to counsel the players. That could be done by a counselor without bringing religion into it. The counselor might suggest the player go to his or her own pastor - no problem with that.

As to the boundaries between Edwards and Sawyer that has been a problem for a long time. The solution that seems to me to make the most sense is one that I haven't heard and may not work but I would look into making Edwards a k - 2 school and Sawyer a 3-4-5 school. Put them all under one principal and share services. I am also tired of the Roosevelt parents fussing about the fact that Roosevelt was closed. I taught there and loved the school but let's face it The building is old, not handicapped accessible and it was time. Now that it is done let's move on.

If indeed the professor was denied tenure because he believes in intelligent design that is wrong. A person has the right to believe what he or she wants. If he was a good teacher and did everything he should do otherwise he should not have been denied tenure. Unless there is something else I am not aware of.

As to the good "Christians" bashing gays I agree with one woman who wrote that Jesus would not have done it, Never said anything about it and it is just wrong. There I have commented on everything I needed to comment on.

Notice I did not comment on any of the politicians hungering after the office of president. I just don't care at this point. I know who I like right now but I may change my mind. Jonathan likes the New Mexico Governor and he has good reasons. I shall wait, see who rises to the top and will most likely vote for the democrat. But then you knew that.

I went to see Oceans 13 after Quiznos and enjoyed it very much. I have liked all of the Oceans movies and love this kind of ensemble picture. I think my favorite part was watching George Clooney and Brad Pitt as they watched Oprah Winfrey give a new house to someone. The expressions on their faces were priceless.

I think I am having people withdrawal. I have been around a lot of people and now I am around the dogs and a cat. Oh well at least they are happy to see me. You are loved! Stay Happy! Hugs, j

Nice to be Home

We left Houston and drove to Dallas on Sunday. Basically that part of the trip was pretty boring although we did drive past an enormous statue of Sam Houston. Then we stopped in Dallas to eat lunch with Amy and Lee (It was delightful) and pick up my stuff which I had left there.

We were able to press on to Muscogee where we stayed overnight. I think I told you all of this before. We used the Mapquest map to get home and it took us North on 71 which was closed so we had to go over and come up US 69. The same 69 which runs through Ames. It was raining when we started out so we were not as able to go as fast as we could on the interstates but we made good time and got into Ames about 3:30. They had had a lot of rain down there and the creeks were full and there was water standing on both sides of the road in many places. The countryside was beautiful but the prettiest part of the trip was in southern Iowa.

The House was stuffy and hot because Jon hadn't turned on the Air Conditioner. I unpacked and threw things around and made a mess. Then I jumped in the shower and got on clean clothes and drove to Des Moines for the Acanthus stated meeting. I know I was probably crazy but I really didn't want to sit around in the heat and what better place to go than to Lodge to be with my Brothers?

After a good meeting I waited while the officers had a meeting and then adjourned to Christopher's for the sixth Libations and good conversation. When I got home Jon was here and we had a good chat but I was exhausted. I got to bed around 12:30 and the boys wanted up around 6:20. I put them off until 7:00 and here I am writing the last entry about the trip. It was a good trip but I am happy to be home. Now the work begins again. You are loved! Be Happy! Hugs, j

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Police/Court Headlines

(Thanks Anne)

- Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers

- Safety Experts say school bus passengers should be belted

- Drunk gets nine months in violin case

- Juvenile court to try shooting defendant

- Killer sentenced to die for second time in 10 years

- Drunken drivers paid $1000 in '84

- Stolen Painting Found By Tree

- Judge To Rule On Nude Beach

- Police Discover Crack In Australia

- Men Recommend More Clubs For Wives

- Two Convicts Evade Noose; Jury Hung

- Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing

Pictures Tomorrow

How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten? -Logan Pearsall Smith, essayist (1865-1946)

I took a picture at Amy and Lee's around noon. We stopped there and Amy fixed us lunch but I left the camera in the car and I am tired. We left Houston around 9 AM and got to Amy and Lee's around noon. Then we drove North until about 5:30 and are at a Holiday Inn Express in Muskogee, Oklahoma and I am going to watch the Tony Awards.

We should be home tomorrow afternoon. Almost in time to go to Acanthus but I will probably stay home as I will be tired. It would be great to see the guys however.

Stay Happy and Remember You are Loved! Hugs.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Last Photos from Houston

After a perfectly delicious banquet of snapper and fillet with Key Lime Pie for dessert the United Grand Imperial Council closed with entertainment by Rex Allen, Jr. He was wonderful. When he talked about his dad there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I think that the neatest thing about him as an entertainer was that you could see that he was just having fun. Probably more fun than anyone in the room and for an hour an a half he sang songs and told jokes and it was a perfect ending to a great session.

The other thing that was good about the Grand Banquet was that there was no Head Table. Everyone was on the level and there were no introductions of dignitaries. What a good thing.

As Willie Nelson says tomorrow we will be "on the road again" and should be home late Monday night. Will try to post from Amy and Lee's tomorrow. Be loved (You are!) Stay Happy, Hugs. j