Such Different Times


Dawn comes to Yorktown , the sun casting warm rays into the cave where Cornwallis hunkered down avoiding Washington’s canon balls.

Local folk has less protective holes in the wall.

Meanwhile down on the beach riders assemble for an East Coast tire dip, the next 4000 miles away.

So the journey begins…



Mists rise from the muddy fields soaked from weeks of rain. The dawn sun peeks through the distant salmon colored clouds over the ocean’s plain… her golden rays carry a promise of warmth.

Am I ready to begin, another trek from East to West across this Great Land?

Pondering the scope of the path I look left but hear behind me…a fife and drums? This early in the morn with no one else around? I turn to see emerging from the mists three groups of soldiers, rain soaked, gaunt, unshaven, weary to the bone. Some clad in faded blue waistcoats, fabric so thin as to show patches of old white cotton next to their wasted skin…some in redcoats nearly as badly worn… some in pale beige linen mud stained in brown. They approach and join standing as one before me…silent…deep hollow eyes wondering at the spectacle before them… a ghost?… bright orange from head to toe, blue reflective lenses covering the eyes, some odd machine at his side…two wheels with bars of metal between. Their muskets hang loosely, some in hand, some strapped over shoulders slumped from years of war. I notice the wood of each stock, worn smooth with time, glistening in the early morning sun. How many times has each aimed and fired a musket ball into the approaching lines?

The grain of the wood is beautiful…I am reminded of a slick, worn bannister in a group home for the young blind…each sliding down backwards… caught in the arms of a loving headmistress … Squeals of laughter… ” Let’s do it again !!! “

Why that thought now on this muddy plain? Who truly understands the Mind?

The soldiers dare one step closer…” Are you one of us? Êtes-vous des nôtres?” “Yes and No… Oui et Non.”. I remove my sunglasses and we connect deeply eye to eye. They look again at the bike but find they are too tired and at a loss of words to ask what, who, when, or why? Instead from the depths of their souls: ” Will this soon be over? Will we be able to go home?” Blue, Red, White is of no concern, only “home”. I hesitate… “ Yes and No…but in the End…Someone will catch you in loving arms…” Silence… eye to eye they measure my response, nod a grateful thanks and turn to fade into the clearing mist, different flags fluttering behind long lines…

I do not have the heart to tell the Blues that in just a few short years their grandsons with musket in hand will be at war again…this time against each other. “ Will this be over soon? Will we be able to go home?” “ Yes and No”.

The sun’s warming rays now point due West and it is time for me to begin. I say a silent prayer for safety and give thanks. I look to see my Guardian Angel smiling…waiting…always ready to catch me… as I slide backwards down the slippery bannister of Life…

The Good Earth


I suspect the most comfortable place each of us has been was long ago in our mother’s womb.

Two great novels come to mind as I start this ride in these troubled times.

Tolstoy brought to the forefront in War and Peace the struggles of the common man in the face of advancing history. Over and over again over the past 10,000 years we have seen “leaders” come to power to bring armies of people to slaughter and death. It’s happening now in Ukraine, same place, same forces, same leaders, same common folk dying. The leaders get the credit for forming history while the rest of us prop them up.

Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer winning Good Earth looked past the leaders to the common folk and told stories we have all lived. I have never forgotten the scene of a small frail Chinese woman delivering her baby in the fields and returning to work.

As we read these two stories what comes to the forefront are not the Napoleons of the world but all the rest of us, peanuts by comparison.

We can identify with them through the inherent belief in the Golden Rule.

Kindness is a large component of this identification with our companion souls.

All throughout the ride we will encounter kindness from strangers we have never met before or nor will likely ever see again.

Such kindness has already started on this trip. There is a small store on the railroad tracks just north of the NC border. It has been there for years, the past 20 or so my source for wonderful Virginia peanuts. Each year at Christmas I receive a 25 lb box of their goods from a greatful family I helped take care of a long time ago. Two or three times a year I stop by to refill my pantry .

When the owners found out about the ride the first thing they asked was “ How can we help?” The result …12 lbs of peanuts for the riders about to start.

As we leave Yorktown, the birthplace of America, we will head inland deeper into the womb of the United States. Each day we will find ourselves buried in the kindness of the common man so far away from the history making news. Each day we will be bathed in the warm natural springs of communal humanity and gradually feel that comfort of returning to our beginnings.

We may all be small individual inconsequential peanuts in this world, even those who call themselves “leaders” , but together we are a Family of One.

Follow the Beak


Golden-tailed Sapphire (Chrysuronia oenone) (♂) Small hummingbird flying and static suspended on a background of green leaves and plants and blue colors, with outstretched wings looking to the right

Each year hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles, some actually crossing the Gulf of Mexico. I have often wondered about this feat. 

On a ride once in San Diego I was swarmed by a group who mistook me for a large orange blossom. I asked them how they managed such a trip and to my surprise they said “ Easy, we follow our beaks”…and off they flew…

Two night ago I awoke in a panic about the ride. Suddenly I had great doubts about my ability to complete this trip. Was I too old ( yes, no, maybe), was I in good enough shape ( yes, no, maybe) had I trained enough (yes , no, maybe), did I lose enough weight (no), was I up for the heat and sun of the desert again (yes, no, maybe), could I sleep on hard ground again(no)? At a loss as to how to sort out my woes I buried my head in a soft pillow and faded off to restless sleep.

The next morning I arose at 6 and road 40 miles as fast as I could to prove to myself that I was in fact ready to go. 

As I pedaled I thought about previous trips and recalled that each day is a single event, and that in fact each day has partitions…the water stops. A successful rider thinks ahead only to the next rest stop just 20 miles ahead. In this way the magnitude of the ride is less overwhelming. The maps help , each panel no more than 30 miles with a bright red line showing us the way…if only someone had bothered to put that red line on the actual road for us…

Concentration telescopes to a single map panel, the next water stop, and the constant living in the moment so each of us stays safe. 

Worries of the total path ahead disappear 10 seconds after the first departure point.

This year ,however , there is an added concern, that of Covid. Organizers of the trip have put in place elaborate contingency plans if anyone gets sick. Campsites and places of worship have asked for modifications in how we camp. Each rider has been vaccinated 3 or 4 times and each tested for the virus before the ride. 

The East Coast Riders just completed 2500 miles and luckily none tested positive or became ill with Covid.

As an MD I may be asked to make difficult decisions if someone become sick…but I’ll cross that bridge if and when need be…

As I pondered all this Angel and Flossie appeared, wondering at my deep thoughts. I shared with them my poor night’s  sleep and concerns only to have the two of them launch into endless stories about how they lived through the Black Plague centuries ago, Angel ferrying souls up, across, or down on Dantes orders and Flossie calming her bovine relatives who suddenly found themselves alone in the world…their bipods being led off by Angel of course.

Given their great expertise in times of crisis I asked their advice.

“ Well wear your mask of course… and follow the beak.”

I guess I’m ready now… 



Prior to the industrial revolution most babies were conceived between 2 and 4 AM while monks were completing their first set of hymns and  prayers…

I have my final three days of training rides starting tomorrow at sunrise, 60 miles each AM. I am often asked if I get bored riding these long distances. 

I have walked 4 miles every morning for the past 25 years and ridden more than 50,000 in the past 8 years. I don’t think I have experienced boredom even once. 

We divide Time into past, present, and future…it is an irony that of the three divisions only that which is most fleeting  is actual,  the other two  exist only in our imagination yet occupy 99% or our mental time. 

The added irony is that of those two which absorb so much of our thought process , one cannot be changed, and the other is guided most often by the whims of chance. 

The imagination is a powerful shaper of each of us…the science of psycho-cybernetics….a.k.a….   The Inner Game of Music, Tennis, Baseball…you pick your subject…

Don’t ever downplay how  dwelling on the past or future warps our souls…sometimes we each need a rest…

We may spend endless hours stewing over the past, and endless hours worrying about our future yet so rarely do we spend much time where we actually live…in the present. These hours of concern, looking forward, looking back move as slow as cooling lava  and consume, literally consume, hours of the fleeting moment…such a loss…

But the present…it moves like greased lightening, like a 99 mile an hour baseball passing over the plate, like a shooting star, like a rainbow in the sky…

Think of times we have been absorbed in an activity of the often do we look up to see that 1,2,3,even 4 hours have passed when it seems that we just started the task?

How often does a day dream seem to last just a minutes when so much more time has passed?

How often does time with a loved one seems to move so much faster than we like?

Time does not exist in the moment and millions of added moments in the present…the real present, not that clouded with thoughts of the past or future…add up to “ no time at all”…

A careful bike rider cannot afford to live in the past or future…only the present matters…there is in fact only billions of milliseconds of “now” ….

Hence… there is no time to get bored…

There is another time the rider experiences , that being  natural circadian rhythms, often lost in the rat race of daily life…

The past and future are psychic, while the circadian rhythm is corporeal

For thousands of years humans have lived and died by this rhythm, one which curiously enough puts us to sleep during the siesta hours and wakes us between 2 and 4 AM. Much creativity has come from these hours early morning hours…investigate when the great musicians, authors, poets, inventors, businessmen, generals, leaders, etc. did their best work. Look to where intimacy between partners was most often likely to flourish. Look to when babies were most often concieved…During these few morning hours post a deep, natural, restful sleep. 

All that was changed for the worse by the clock, the industrial revolution and finally by electricity. And of course “schedules”…

On these rides the clock has little meaning, there is no real electricity, and our only schedule is set by sunrise, sunset, and the weather of the day.

Not only has the rider entered a world of living in the pure present for 8 hours a day but so too has the unaltered circadian rhythm been allowed to resume its important place in life. How many times have I come across a rider fast asleep during siesta time?

Boredom cannot exist and natural rhythms resume control. Could it get any better for the soul?

Actually …Yes …because while all that is happening the rider finds themselves  surrounded  by “Mother Nature”  bathing all in her endless Glory day after day after day….

Farewell Formel


The suitcase lay crumpled in the garbage can…so rank and disgusting in smell, even flies

avoided it…

Having been told by my mother as a young man that cheese could be used as a weapon of

revenge, only then, that day, did I fully appreciate one of her idiosyncratic, but usually valuable

lessons in life. My wife had flown to New York City for a few days and when asked what she

could bring me as a present I suggested she go to Zabars, the famous Jewish grocery store in

Manhatten, and as a treat pick out the strongest, smelliest cheese she could find . After several

hours in her suitcase at the airport and later in the hold of the returning plane it had softened,

permeating its pungency beyond normal human tolerance. Not only was the cheese not edible

but the house had to be aired out and the suitcase was ruined…

Born to older Italian immigrant parents, my mother, a “mistake”, something her mother never let

her forget, was often left to fend for herself in a small village in rural Illinois where Piedmontese,

a dialect of Northern Italy, was the main spoken language. Nearly all the occupants of

Wilsonville were immigrant families who worked the coal mines or farmed the local lands. Her

older brother by 16 years and sister by 14 had little to do with her and found her to be a

bothersome pest. As a very intelligent but unwanted mistake she learned to be assertive, tough,

resilient, resourceful, and persistent in reaching goals far beyond her family’s minimal


Such toughness often led to fights at school with children much older in age.

One such altercation, at the tender age of eight, was rewarded with a teacher’s punishment of

” Write 1000 times , I will not fight “.

As my mother trudged home , a mile on foot, she passed the butcher shop, paused, and then

turned back toward the school house casting forth a sly, mischievous grin…

The next morning , arriving at school, she was accosted by the teacher who demanded her

1000 line punishment…out from her cloth bag came sheets of greasy salami wrapping paper

covered in smeared number 1 pencil lead…” I will not fight ” 1000 times. With ginger touch the

teacher laid the punishment in the trash can and ordered her to sit down…

Later that winter, again punished for fighting, Mariarosa decided to up the ante of revenge.

Swiping a chunk of limburger cheese from her mother’s cupboard…now for those of you who do

not know, this is a distinctly rancid and foul blue cheese when warmed… that night leaving her

warm bed, she walked a mile in the dark, snuck back into the schoolhouse and liberally applied

the softened butter like blue cheese to the inner cast iron cylinders of a steaming radiator…

which was…conveniently situated next to the teacher’s desk…

As expected the morning stench was overpowering… and the school room…well… had to be


While adults searched for the source of the foul smell, quite well hidden within the radiator

pipes, the children were sent off to play and eventually told to go home…for 3 days…

To the little ones, a Heroine had been born…

Age 16, precocious for her age, she finished high school and left to find employment in St.Louis,

a difficult goal for a young woman with millions of men returning home from WWII.

5 years later through resourcefulness and hard work she had put herself through college (a

waste of time as far as her family was concerned), and had a full time job as a city social worker

(not a real job according to her brother).

A year later she married my father, also of Piedmontese stock, got pregnant, and had a child.

When her young husband parted for the Korean War, she unfortunately found herself again at

home now unable to work with a small child in tow. Unlike hers, my fortunes in life were just to

begin as I was not only accepted but quite loved by her parents, the same two who had all those

years …and even then… shunned her both as a daughter and a person of worth.

A year and a half later transferred to Italy she was able to reconnect with her Italian roots, a

large extended family which lovingly accepted and took her in. It was there that Sabrina, my

sister was born, and Patrick, my brother, conceived.

Many moves and years later my parents divorced…years of struggles, fights, and pains

compounded by his excessive alcohol use and the climb of the military chain with demands on

her to be an military officer’s conforming wife…not her natural style in life…

Suddenly she found herself alone, with three children, no child support, and just a small income

as a state employed social worker. Luckily she did own 20 acres of forest land 15 miles east of

her Fairfax home.

Turning to survival mode she tapped into her childhood strengths and started all over again.

Giving up that plot of land, she acquired two small 3 unit apartment buildings not far from

Arlington Cemetery. With years of hard work as a landlord, plumber, painter, cleaning woman,

and yardman… while still maintaining her “full time job” …she used the rental income to send

three children to college and Medical School before beginning to buy other properties to create

a lasting financial trust for all of her 5 grand children. At the same time she, for herself, finished

a Master’s Program at George Mason University and later a Doctorate of Education traveling

back and forth to San Diego, California.

Misfortune again began to knock at her door in the form of small strokes in her late 50’s. Never

very good at taking her health seriously she finally had to come to terms with her own mortality.

Repeated cerebral infarcts began to slow her down until a major event in late 1999 left her

completely paralyzed on the right side. After a short hospitalization she was transferred to a

rehab unit near Mount Vernon. As a family we met and clustered around her bed to “asses the

situation”. Something seemed not quite right to me…there looked to be a flicker of movement on

her right side. Now there were many facets to my mother’s personality and multiple driving

forces to her day to day life but as her children, we all knew her preoccupation with money…

Before the astonished stares of her doctors and nurses, also gathered round her bed, I threw a

shiny coin on her bare white belly, looked her in the eye, and said ” Mama, get the dime with

your right hand”. Slowly, ever so slowly, she moved her “paralyzed’ right arm, grasped the coin in

her hand and smiled from a supposedly immobile face. I looked up at the medical staff and said

“ She will be just fine, now push her hard, no rehab limits”.

One Dime

6 weeks later she walked out of the hospital and drove herself home.

Over the next 15 years repeated small strokes chipped away at her body but not her soul.

Three years ago , knowing her time was nearly at hand I took her back to Italy to see her family

one last time. We were supposed to pick out a burial plot, but aghast at the cost of a funeral and

stone box in an above ground vault , she quickly rejected the idea of death and decided to live


Even for the strongest of us time takes its toll. Over the past 10 months her health rapidly

declined, due to an unknown heart condition present for many years. As her thoughts turned to

the afterlife and her reunion with passed family and friends, she seemed to postpone death over

and over again, waiting for her grandchildren to marry, for me to return from a cross country

bike ride, and finally for the birth of her great grand son, Leonard Vincent Patrone.

4 weeks ago she told me she was tired and it was time. She went so far as to ask me to take

her to Oregon for a physician assisted suicide…she was just too tired and exhausted to go on.

We compromised… she said she would try to eat better, rest, and think of reasons to live but

her body just continued to wear down…

In poignant conversation she asked permission from me and my sister to be allowed to die at

home in peace… could we as her children accept her decision?

Of course we could, it was obvious the Matriarch’s time was at hand.

Hospice was arranged but she lasted less than a week. As she deteriorated she asked only that

we “ not leave her” and be present at her death. Sliding in and out of a sleeping state she

mumbled her repeated thanks to all of her family who came to say their goodbyes, to all of her

family who accepted her and loved her in her vulnerable dying state. It was ironic, yet fortunate,

that in the end she was finally able to recognize the love and acceptance she had craved all her


Her last spoken words were “ I want to go to church”.

An hour later her forehead was anointed with holy oil and she received a final blessing to allow

the gentle passage of her soul while my sister held her hand.

My family would like to thank the Mormon church for all their help and concern over the past 15

years. A special thanks goes out to all the Missionaries who repeatedly visited her home, to Yen

Zhao and to the Nantos family…all people who added so much to her life.

Finally I would like to propose a toast in memory of my mother. I know that Mormon’s do not

drink alcohol but there are other kinds of toasts. One of her favorite meals was cornflakes and

blue cheese soaked in milk , the blue cheese being a close cousin of the infamous radiator

Limburger cheese. Accordingly I have included on the “After the Service Refreshment Table”

cornflakes, blue cheese and milk. Please do her the favor of tasting this treat, and in so doing,

share in a communal toast to her soul.

So ends the Eulogy of Mariarosa Vigna Patrone.


P.S. On Janruary 4th, 2016 I will take her ashes home…one half to where her mother and father were each born, at the base of the Italian French Alps from a time not so long ago…

Vulnerability and Security: Two Sides of A Coin


A warm ,dry, Spring day…late afternoon…the scent of Wisteria overwhelms…

…crickets chirp, bees buzz , crows call out to to each other in puzzlement at the cacophony of noise from  nearby …

drunk, lodged in the hook of an old oak tree, singing away without a care in the world, her cow, Flossie ,munching away on grass somewhere out of sight….

my mother…after downing a fair amount of her father’s home made wine…

Covid has finally eased itself out of sight and with any luck I soon will again be on a cross country trek. Training is going well, up to 50 miles a day. 

Today I realized it was time to go find Angel and Flossie  …I need to break the news to them, they too must get in shape for the upcoming ride.

Wondering where they have been over the past two years I think of their significance.

Cassie, my Dear Cassie, goaded me into the second, third, fourth and so on rides by telling me to “get out of your comfort zone”…I thought the first of 4000 miles many years ago would suffice….how wrong I was…

“Getting out of a comfort zone “ is an understatement…it’s more like the scouring of a  soul to the core. Each mile strips away more and more of the quotidian veneer until only the  “I” is left…

To be alone in 400 square miles of Eastern Montana with 30 mph headwinds and 30 miles to go… to be drenched in cold rain surrounded by crackling lightening and thunder on the Great Plains…to be in the sixth hour of 7 hour mountain climb with no leg strength left to get to the top…  to be coming down the other side at 45 mph praying there is no deer or moose just around that curve…

a soul stripped to the core…vulnerable and alone…

Children have discovered a wonderful safe way to deal with being in that state, a “ security blanket”…a cherished stuffed animal, favorite piece of cloth or rag, a shredded multicolored ribbon…

What we may not appreciate is that we never really give up those safety nets as we age…they are just  transformed…

In later life the little girl stuck in the tree, whose security blanket was a tin box full of coins, 

would often apologize to me for her lack of mothering…it is true, she was not the nurturing type… material goods, money and status were “her thing” …but she , with the help of NUNS, made me who I was to become. She taught me the value of hard work, goals in life and perseverance in the face of adversity to reach those goals. 

For that I owe her gratitude. 

I often listened to her stories of growing up and Flossie, her cow,  seemed ever present…perhaps this beast was something safe for her in her troubled life…a tin of coins was just not enough…

Beside her teaching at home I was sentenced  Catholic school at a very young age and partially raised by NUNS. As I grew older I rejected the male dominated Catholic Church and the concept of sin and eternal hell but did retain something from those times…the gift of a Guardian Angel.

I was always fascinated by the idea of a Protector close by and just never let fade the idea of my own Angel …I am not quite sure if Angel is HE or SHE…St Thomas Aquinas argued on how many  could dance  on the head of a pin but left the concept of gender aside …

As I grew older Flossie, from of my mother’s life, and Angel, from Catholicism, just followed along somewhere deep down inside.

Security blankets are good to have when you are alone…beacons of light to guide you in the darkest of times…

So now I need to go find mine again and get them in shape for the ride since it is they who will protect me over and over again speeding down the curving mountain side…

PS:  For my next story I will share the eulogy I read at my mother’s funeral. ..she certainly did mold me to become  the person who I am…someone who would dare take on these crazy cross country rides…over and over again…

PPS:  For new Readers unfamiliar with Flossie and Angel feel free to peruse stories  from previous rides…they can be found by going back in time on this site…

The Ukraine


Some years ago I traveled to the Ukraine to study at the University of Simferopol. I went back again…I hope to do so again someday…

Now I am very saddened by what has happened.

Here is one of my stories from then…

Themes on the Crimean Queue.

Sometimes small events of the day come together just as a few musical notes may

become memorable melody. 

My bladder was about to burst. The bus had finally stopped at our first excursion visit. Just beyond through the fog across the Strait of Kertch lay the Russian border. None of us really cared, we all just needed the toilet before wetting our pants, skirts, dresses, whatever… Clothes didn’t matter either, our only thoughts were bulging bladders.

      We got the key and raced to the brick outhouse, heaven to our eyes. Thank God it was a double compartment abode. In loud Russian the leader of our group barked “Girls to right, boys to the left!” …who cared that we were all grown and not “boys and girls”… Our only thought was ” We made it!” I was first in line for the “boys”.

Just as I reached for the left door three burley Ukranian women pushed me aside and rushed into the left, just as 3 equally robust women rushed into the right! “What’s this?!” I asked and turned to a skinny tall you man behind me in the “boy’s line” who just shrugged his shoulders and limply look to the ground.

Well the ” girls” had it all planned out…one would come out from the left to be replaced by another and then one from the right… On and on it went and of course none of us “boys” would dare go in with two women still there relieving themselves… Finally one behind me said “this is too much !” and burst in to two pulling up their pants… Thanking his bravery we rushed in behind. Not to my surprise it was a hole in the floor but with a thirty foot drop to open air!? I felt dizzy from the unexpected exposed height but managed not to fall in… Only later when my bladder did not control my brain did I wonder about the rules of the queue. 

       Our first tour took us 60 feet underground where 15,000 men women and children had hidden in catacombs from the invading Nazis. Through 6 months of cold and near total darkness they survived as best the could with little food or water until they were gassed by the German soldiers.

70 of 15,000 survived.

As the our line meandered slowly through the catacombs the silence was broken by weeping of those who had relatives who had perished here and many hands of unknown people who had pushed me aside in line were held in silence. Outside they could only say “ужасно” … “how terrible”…

       The day before I had watched and been part of another queue, this in the airport at Kiev with a plane load of Crimeans returning home. We all passed through body inspections and were herded into a room with 15 chairs for more than 200 of us going on 4 separate flights to different towns in Crimea. There were two Italian workers there with me waiting for their flight. In loud Russian a thin attractive matriarchal “babyska to be” barked out ” let’s go!”

” Go where?” I thought.

We were all just there. Only then did I  realize there were 4 doors in a room perhaps 20 by 20 feet in size…half the passengers were waiting in the hall outside the sardined room. Somehow 4 lines formed behind each door crossing in the middle… Everybody seemed to know what to do so I stood behind the people who were talking about the city where I was to go. Just out of curiosity I looked for the workers who were totally lost at this new concept of queue…

As opposed to a funneling mass of Italians ” in line ” who push you through the door , here was a cross shaped queue with an indecipherable pattern of movement.

The Italian Workers stood still, amazed ,and did not move. I never saw them again…

Our line moved forward to the door and we were herded onto buses, big enough for my flight but not big enough for two others. As passengers realized that there would not be enough room, the Italian funnel technique quickly evolved to no avail. Of course another bus arrived and everyone had a place. We started to depart the terminal to the planes but everything came to a grinding halt, the buses stopped and half the passengers got off… to watch …the sunset…

“When in Rome do as the Romans do”… so I too got off to watch the sunset. 

Someone complained that we would be late but others answered ,” What does it matter, we are all going the same place”. No more complaints after that bit of wisdom.

I asked my teacher yesterday if she missed the Soviet Union or if being in an independent country was better. She answered by saying her mother yearned for the Soviet Union, she herself was not sure and her son would say that being free from foreign rule was best. She then told me about the terrible years after the breakup of the USSR. She was in her early 20s and had an infant son. She had a modest income but there was nothing in the stores to buy. She would get up at 5 AM to stand in line to try to find milk for her son, sometimes waiting 5 or 6 hours and then coming home with nothing. She used one word over and over ,the same “ужасно” …” it was so terrible ” queues everywhere with often nothing at the end…

Today I watched Armenian bakers make fresh bread on open clay furnaces in the central market.. there were no loaves as they had just sold out but soon they would have 50 more fresh hot loaves . I was third in line. I watched in amazement as the bread was transformed from fresh dough to hot, flat, bubbly, chewy, pizza loaves costing next to nothing…I also watched those in line who were calm ,orderly ,respectful, and gracious to others ,especially the old… No one cut line, no one pushed, and everyone got their bread…

As I walked home I came across yet another queue… Today is Palm Sunday in the Eastern Christian world. In a park in open air sat an Orthodox priest with a thin curtain in front of his chair and lined up next to him a long row of people waiting to say confession. 

One by one, holding their willows instead of palms, they humbly knelt to confess… somehow the goal of the communists to stamp out religion just never worked…

I think of all these queues and see a people who once were severely beaten down by wars, had no food, food for a while, no food again,and now have food, …a people who knew of painful times past where they were left behind… a people who were told not to hold a belief in the afterlife but never gave up hope, and a people who can stop an airplane to watch the sunset… 

I suspect they are right… we are all going the same place… my hope is that when my final queue comes due, I will be as graceful as they now show themselves to be…

God Bless the Ukrainian People in These Difficult Times…

The Magic of a Blue Moon


2020 has been a year for the books and we still have two months to go. There is no need to list our collective raw woes…we are all living them every day, some more so than others…

As the Holidays approach we can only hope for a turning point to help us move on….

I remember my mother saying “It is always darkest before things begin to turn “… I could just never tell where in fact the bottoms were found…

Sometimes there is a beacon way off in the dark which at first is just an imagined small spark.

I think I see one now…

And as always I turn to my guide, Angel riding a Cow.

” Hey you two, do you see that speck of white, that little bright star?”

( If you think they are with me only on long cross country rides, think again, they are my companions in a comfortable shared life).

Never much one for long talk , Flossie , the Cow, moos, but Angel whispers “Behold the Door at the Bottom of the Well”…

A point of light opens and before me lay visions to warm the soul…

At a loss for words, I paint them…

Flossie ,the erudite one, writes the verse for you…

Halloween is coming …so very soon…

Flying on…to Find that Unusual Huge Moon…

Oh, the Magic of the Rare Blue Moon

Quickly now!!! Short time is our mutual ruin…

Transformed…just in time!

There will not be another Blue Moon at Halloween until 2039…19 years from now…

Although my grand daughter Phoebe, who is three, has already declared me an “old man”… I will truly be an old man by then.

She will be graduating from college and her sister Violet will be just two years behind.

Memories of the Pandemic will be in the distant past and its unlikely either of them will know who was President last time a Halloween Blue Moon graced our Land. Time has a way of rolling on and putting perspective on our transient lives…

But maybe, just maybe, they will find these pictures again and save them to share with their own children in troubling times…

Dear Reader be safe now as always… but please take my advice…make the time to bask in a gift from Life. If you read this ‘fore the night is out, take a moment to bathe yourself in the Magic of the Tonight. With your loved ones, both here and in the Beyond, go outside …cover yourself in the light of that rare Magic Blue Moon. Savor the moment knowing such a glorious sight will not roll around again for a very long time…a time when God willing, you will be then transformed…older…wiser…and more beautiful than ever in the eyes of all those around…

Happy Halloween.