Saturday, August 23, 2008

Musings and Quotes: Walks, Dogs, Blizzards, and a Broken Toe

My normal Saturday musings:

This has not been a typical summer for me. During good, warm, sunny weather I'm a dawg for the out of doors. The city has miles of interconnected walk/bikeways that literally go from the north east corner of its political boundaries to nearly its southern most corner. They branch out in all directions, connecting city parks and sports fields, bogs and lakes. One walkway goes right under I94 and there, like those pointers from "M*A*S*H" that say Singapore, New York, Boston, with mileage listed in thousands, we have our own that points west and east. One says Chicago 164 miles, and the other Detroit 163 miles.

But as avid a walker as I am, I haven't done much this year. I used to have a large dog, a mutt, a friend I could get down in the grass with and wrestle and who slept so close at night he'd have me pushed up against the side rail of the waterbed. I took him for a seven mile walk one very warm afternoon and when we got back home, he was bushed and beaten, while I was ready to walk another few miles. But I don't have a dog to walk, anymore.

I once hitchhiked, when hitchhiking was still safe, from my home to Chicago, then to St. Louis because I thought I wanted to south; only when I got there I changed my mind and wanted to go west. So I went west. I was in the middle Kansas with no traffic in any direction when I looked way down and out onto a plain. I saw what appeared to be a military installation, but there wasn't much going on there. It looked desolate. Then I saw one lonely car leaving it, heading my way, and I knew I was my only salvation out of that place.

The driver was a young soldier who had just been discharged. The post was Fort Riley. I for the past 35 years I've assumed it was Fort Leavenworth, the prison, but I just looked at maps and from what I remember it looked like the area where Riley is located, off I70. In St. Louis that is also I55, but I70 only goes to Utah, and we entered his home state of California from the south. He dropped me off in his hometown of Merced. From there I continued on until I got to Portland, Oregon, where I stayed put for two years. But I never quit walking.

Last year I went camping at least one weekend a month, sometimes two, near Lake Michigan, so we had to drive to get there. But the work of setting up camp, tearing it down, and loading and unloading everything in the van was work, an I couldn't sit still at camp. I had to walk.

This year I was caring for an older invalid fresh off surgery, who, while recovering, began coming down the symptoms of Parkinsons. So it was a confusing time to try to resolve the issue. Then summer came and I got involved with the beginnings of the Academy and this blog. I quit walking for all intents and purposes and gained twenty pounds.

Then I broke my toe. It is still black and blue, and it and my foot are swolen. Summer is quickly fading and I'm feeling the blues for all the places I could have walked--but didn't. I was a lazy wuss. And I wish I had a dog who would have seen to it that I had a reason besides myself to go walking, who could lay by my side while I worked from home, who could sit in the passenger seat when I went somewhere, and who I could use as a pillow on the floor while watching tv.

Summer is almost gone, the days are getting shorter, and with this toe I can't make up for the lost time. Fortunately, I enjoy walking in the winter almost as much as in the summer. The day I left on my national hitchhiking jaunt was the first day of the Great Blizzard of 1978, January 26. Half-way between Chicago and St. Louis the snow was so deep it was hard to walk. A trucker stopped, I got in, and the first thing he said was, "What are you doing out here in a blizzard?"

Well, I grew up in Michigan during the late 50's and 60, and let me tell you whether we got a blizzard or not, we always got a lot of snow. It was different then. All the snow has moved to other parts of the world, like China. "Global warming," my foot. There is 17 more inches of snow and ice at the south pole now that since man has begun exploring it. In June there was still snow on the mountains of Washington and Colorado.

So anyway, my only reply to the truck driver was--because I really didn't know I was in the middle of a blizzard--"Well, I just thought it was a lot of snow. A blizzard is no big deal." I remember one in '63, the first time I ever saw a snowmobile. People were going from door to door on them asking if people needed groceries or medicine. The snowmobilers were the only people who could get to the stores, and they were having a ball doing what they were doing.

I remember a small blizzard around '65, then the monster of '68. We helped a neighbor get his VW Bug out of a drift. He told us just to pick it up by the bumpers because after shoveling for half and hour and pushing, he was still stuck. So we just picked it up. The back bumber broke right off but we got him out of the drift.

Then there was the blizzard of '73. I remember walking on what should have been a city street in Kalamazoo, but the plows had been pushing the snow on the walks. I knew I was up in the air some good distance, but until a semi trailer passed me, I didn't know the danger I was in. I was so high above the level of the road I could look down on the top of the trailer! If I had slipped and gone down to the road, I wouldn't be able to get back UP to the "sidewalk." And there was no room between the traffic and the wall of ice and snow for me to walk. I got as far away from the edge of that wall as I could, and closer to the buildings.

When my foot is healed, I'm getting a dog and going for a walk.

Quotes to Mull Over, Laugh About, Praise
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop. (Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland)
I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying. (Oscar Wilde)
Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. (Albert Einstein)
Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers. (Homer Simpson)
Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way. (Ronald Reagan)
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. (Albert Camus)
I went into a McDonald’s yesterday and said, ‘I’d like some fries.’ The girl at the counter said, ‘Would you like some fries with that?’ (Jay Leno)
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants. (Isaac Newton)
Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. (Buddha)
I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it. (George
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind. (Mohandas Gandhi)
Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory. (Leonardo Da Vinci)
If it weren’t for electricity we’d all be watching television by candlelight. (George Gobel)
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. (Maya Angelou)
You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy,the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America’s Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn’t want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named Bush, Dick, and Colon. (Chris Rock )
If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. (Mark Twain)
“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; walk beside me, and be my friend.”- (Albert Camus)
Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you’ll see further. (Persian Proverb)
As she approached the guillotine, convicted of treason and about to be beheaded, (Marie Antoinette) accidentally stepped on the foot of her executioner. Applaud, my friends, the comedy is finished. (Ludwig van Beethoven)
[But the comedy was not quite over.]
Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose (Marie Antoinette)
It is more difficult to organize a peace than to win a war; but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not organized. (Aristotle)
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