Thursday, December 06, 2007

No Left Turns

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed.

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it." At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----!" she said. "He hit a horse." "Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the Van Laninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car. Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits - and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre. "No left turns," he said. "What?" I asked. "No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again. "No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights." "You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support. "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again." I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked. "No," he said. "If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer." "You're probably right," I said. "Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated. "Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:" I would like to make an announcement.

“No one in this room is dead yet". An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: "I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have." A short time later, he died. I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot.

I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, Or because he quit taking left turns. Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the one's who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.

“Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fend For Yourself

When did we decide campgrounds needed laundromats? When the car stalled, whose bright idea was it to reach for a cell phone instead of a tool? When did we decide to eat manufactured food instead of growing it ourselves, cooking it ourselves, and sharing it with our families and friends?

There was a time when the words "quick" and "fix" were never found together in the same sentence. When our homes needed to be built, we grabbed brothers, fathers and hammers, not a mouse that clicked on Mr. On-line Contractor. Our nation's great accomplishments were a testament to hard work, sweat and ingenuity. After all, we not only put a man on the moon, but built him a rover to drive while he was up there.

What will we achieve today? Can we turn our backs to the enemy known as convenience before it makes us helpless? Do we have what it takes to depend solely on ourselves? Can we learn the skills necessary to survive in a nation without electricity or public services such as heat, water sewage disposal, electricity and readily available gasoline? Think it can’t happen here? Look at Baghdad, the CAPITAL of Iraq, a city without reliable utilities for over four years. Think back to 9-11. Can we protect all of our water systems from deliberate contamination? Our power generating facilities from a 9-11 style attack? Our cell phone towers and transmission systems? Our country has made a lot of enemies over the past few years and those enemies are dedicated to destroying the comfortable life we Americans have become accustomed to. We can’t possibly expect to protect all of our infrastructure all of the time.

Ponder these questions, consider the consequences. Learn to be more self-reliant. Gather self-help books or instructional DVD’s. Consider acquiring the tools, knives and outdoor gear that are essential, not only for the task at hand, but for bringing back something lost: our self-reliance.

Fend for Yourself!

This article was inspired by one written by Gerber Legendary Blades and featured on their web site at Many book, DVD’s and tools to live the self-reliant life can be found at . This message was written by the Old Buzzard on September 26, 2007. Permission to reproduce is granted if the article is printed in it’s entirety and credit is given to
© 2007 The Old Buzzard

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Gentle Art of Blessing

by Pierre Pradervand

On awakening, bless this day, for it is already full of unseen good which your blessings will call forth; for to bless is to acknowledge the unlimited good that is embedded in the very texture of the universe and awaiting each and all.

On passing people in the street, on the bus, in places of work and play, bless them. The peace of your blessing will accompany them on their way and the aura of its gentle fragrance will be a light to their path.

On meeting and talking to people, bless them in their health, their work, their joy, their relationships to God, themselves, and others. Bless them in their abundance, their finances...bless them in every conceivable way, for such blessings not only sow seeds of healing but one day will spring forth as flowers of joy in the waste places of your own life.

As you walk, bless the area in which you live, its government and teachers, its nurses and street sweepers, its children and bankers, its priests and prostitutes. The minute anyone expresses the least aggression or unkindness to you, respond with a blessing: bless them totally, sincerely, joyfully, for such blessings are a shield which protects them from the ignorance of their misdeed, and deflects the arrow that was aimed at you..

To bless means to wish, unconditionally, total, unrestricted good for others and events from the deepest wellspring in the innermost chamber of your heart: it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with utter awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is yet to invoke divine care upon, to think or speak gratefully for, to confer happiness upon - although we ourselves are never the bestower, but simply the joyfull witnesses of Life's abundance.

To bless all without discrimination of any sort is the ultimate form of giving, because those you bless will never know from whence came the sudden ray of sun that burst through the clouds of their skies, and you will rarely be a witness to the sunlight in their lives.

When something goes completely askew in your day, some unexpected event knocks down your plans and you too also, burst into blessing: for life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called forth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and hosts of angels follow in their path.

To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden to material eyes; it is to activate that law of attraction which, from the furthest reaches of the universe, will bring into your life exactly what you need to experience and enjoy.

When you pass a prison, mentally bless its inmates in their innocence and freedom, their gentleness, pure essence and unconditional forgiveness; for one can only be prisoner of one's self-image, and a free man can walk unshackled in the courtyard of a jail, just as citizens of countries where freedom reigns can be prisoners when fear lurks in their thoughts.

When you pass a hospital, bless its patients in their present wholeness, for even in their suffering, this wholeness awaits in them to be discovered. When your eyes behold a man in tears, or seemingly broken by life, bless him in his vitality and joy: for the material senses present but the inverted image of the ultimate splendor and perfection which only the inner eye beholds.

It is impossible to bless and to judge at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought that desire to bless, for truly then shall you become a peacemaker, and one day you shall, everywhere, behold the very face of God.

And of course, above all, don't forget to bless the utterly beautiful person YOU are!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Echo of Life

A man and his son were walking in the forest. Suddenly, the son
trips and feeling a sharp pain he screams, "Ahhhhhh!" Surprised,
he hears a voice coming from the mountain, "Ahhhhh!" Filled with
curiosity, he screams, "Who are you?" but the only answer he
receives is, "Who are you?" This makes him angry, so he screams,
"You are a coward!" and the voice answers, "You are a coward!"

He looks at his father, asking, "Dad, what is going on?"

"Son," the man replies, "pay attention!" Then he screams,
"I admire you!" The voice answers, "I admire you!"
The father shouts, "You are wonderful!" and the voice answers,
"You are wonderful!"

The boy is surprised, but still can't understand what is going on.

The father explains, "People call this an 'echo' but truly
it is 'life!' Life always gives you back what you give out.
Life is a mirror of your actions. If you want more love, give
more love. If you want more kindness, give more kindness. If
you want understanding and respect, give understanding and respect.
If you want people to be patient and respectful to you, give
patience and respect. This rule of nature applies to every
aspect of our lives."

Life always give you back what you give out. Your life is not
a coincidence, but a mirror of your own doings.

-Author unknown

Monday, May 28, 2007

Asnishinaabe Hunter-Gatherer Traditional Foods

Eating the foods Creator gave us will Honor Him and give us good health.

Eating the foods that are grown in the soil and climate that you live in is very important. These STAPLE foods provide the specific nutrients your body needs. The Creator has given us everything we need literally within walking distance from where you live (wild rice, fish, deer, corn, various greens, and the other traditional foods mentioned above.) How else could people have survived without modern transportation? ... and they did so for thousands of years.

Spring Time is a time of renewal. Fish, eggs, fresh shoots (such as horsetail and cattail sprouts) and tender greens (such as lambs quarters which is also known as wild spinach, dandelion, plantain, purslane, mint, wintergreen, nettles, wood ferns, and creeping snowberry leaves) help us to cleanse our systems from the heavy winter foods.

You can view the entire Pyramid here: Anishinaabe Food Pyramid

Special thanks are in order for the Anishinaabe Center, Detroit Lakes, MN 218-846-9463 for commissioning this work.
The Old Buzzard

Friday, May 18, 2007

Through Food We Are All Connected

While I am not Jewish I respect the fact that every one of us has to find his or her own way to God (The Great Spirit; the One who is known by so many names and in so many ways) This article is reprinted from My Jewish Learning:

Eco-Kashrut: Environmental Standards for What and How We Eat
We need to renew the unity of earth and humanity.
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

In recent decades, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and others have advocated a broadening of the concept of kashrut to include restrictions on consumption based on ecological considerations. Here, one of the Jewish Renewal movement's most articulate spokespersons argues the case for eco-kashrut in the form of a commentary to the Torah portion Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47).This article is reprinted with the permission of the Jerusalem Report.

It reads, to modern eyes, like a cookbook. The Torah portion of Shemini begins by telling us to bring beef, mutton, and pancakes to the sacred altar at the transcendent moment of its dedication. It ends by making sure that on any ordinary day we do not eat whales, hawks, camels, or shrimp. For even in our ordinary lives, some foods are sacred.

And between these two celebrations of the sacredness of food, we witness the deaths of those who brought "strange fire" to the Holy One.

How did biblical Jews get in touch with God? By eating and choosing what to eat. Not by murmuring prayer; when Hannah did that (I Samuel 1:13), the priest Eli though she was drunk.

Why by eating? Because in the deepest origins of Jewish life, the most sacred relationship was the relationship with the earth. For shepherds, farmers, orchard-keepers, food was the nexus between adamah, the earth, and its closest relative, adam, the human. So ancient Jews got in touch with God by bringing food to the Temple. With our bodies we affirmed, "This food comes from a Unity of which we also are a part: from earth, rain, sun, seed, and our own work. It came from the Unity of Life; so we give back some of it to that great Unity."

In our most mundane moments, we affirmed through the rules of kashrut that what and how we ate was holy. And in our wildest poetic fantasies of the history of humankind, we thought that what went wrong was somehow wrongly eating--a mistake that brought upon us an earth that would bring forth only thorns and thistles for us to eat, as we toiled with the sweat pouring down our noses.

When the moment came for us to turn history around, we learned to rest. We learned Shabbat. Not from the thunderclap of Sinai, but from eating--from the manna--that sweet and flowing breast-milk of El Shaddai, the God of Breasts, All-Nourishing. From the manna, we learned that together with the earth, we rest. And rest was then extended from the seventh day to the seventh year, when the earth was entitled to rest and the human community that worked the earth was obligated to rest as well.

Today, most of us have shrugged away the bringing-near of sacred food, the sacred choice of foods we do not eat, the sacred pausing so that one-seventh of the time we do not grow our foods. We think that resting is a waste of time that could be used to make, invent, produce, do.

Indeed, in the last few hundred years, the human race has invented the most brilliant act of work in all of its history. We have affected the planet--its very biology and chemistry--in ways no species ever has before. And we have invented the Holocaust, the H-bomb, global warming. Strange fires, all of them. Fires through which a few people can now kill billions, a few corporations can now kill thousands of species.

What can we learn by renewing the ancient text? For shepherds and farmers, food was what they ate from the earth. For us, it is also coal, oil, electric power, paper, plastics, that we take from the earth. For shepherds and farmers, kashrut was the way of guiding their eating toward holiness. For us, eco-kashrut should do the same.

We should ask: Is it eco-kosher to eat vegetables and fruit that have been grown by drenching the soil with insecticides? Is it eco-kosher to drink Shabbat Kiddush wine from non-biodegradable plastic cups? Is it eco-kosher to use 100 percent unrecycled office paper and newsprint in our homes, our synagogues, our community newspapers? Might it be eco-kosher to insist on 10 percent recycled paper this year, 30 percent in two years, and 80 percent in five years?

Is it eco-kosher to destroy great forests, to ignore insulating our homes, synagogues, and nursing homes, to become addicted to automobiles so that we drunkenly pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, there to accelerate the heating of our globe? Strange fire indeed!

We can light a blaze to consume the earth. Or we can make a holy altar of our lives, to light up the spark of God in every human and in every species.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is a Pathfinder of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, director of the Shalom Center, author of God-Wrestling--Round 2, and Down-to-Earth Judaism, and co-editor of Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Long, Winding, Red Road

The Red Road is a circle of people
standing hand in hand,
people in this world, people between
people in the Spirit world.
star people, animal people, stone people,
river people, tree people…
The Sacred Hoop.

To walk the Red Road
is to know sacrifice, suffering.
It is to understand humility.
It is the ability to stand naked before God
in all things for your wrong doings,
for your lack of strength,
for your discompassionate way,
for your arrogance - because to walk
the Red Road, you always know
you can do better. And you know,
when you do good things,
it is through the Creator, and you are grateful.

To walk the Red Road
is to know you stand on equal ground
with all living things. It is to know that
because you were born human,
it gives you superiority over nothing.
It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit,
and the river knows more than you do,
the mountains know more than you do,
the stone people know more than you do,
the trees know more than you do,
the wind is wiser than you are,
and animal people carry wisdom.
You can learn from every one of them,
because they have something you don’t:

They are void of evil thoughts.

They wish vengeance on no one, they seek Justice.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have God given rights,
you have the right to pray,
you have the right to dance,
you have the right to think,
you have the right to protect,
you have the right to know Mother,
you have the right to dream,
you have the right to vision,
you have the right to teach,
you have the right to learn,
you have a right to grieve,
you have a right to happiness,
you have the right to fix the wrongs,
you have the right to truth,
you have a right to the Spirit World.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know your Ancestors,
to call to them for assistance…
It is to know that there is good medicine,
and there is bad medicine…
It is to know that Evil exists,
but is cowardly as it is often in disguise.
It is to know there are evil spirits
who are in constant watch
for a way to gain strength for themselves
at the expense of you.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have less fear of being wrong,
because you know that life is a journey,
a continuous circle, a sacred hoop.
Mistakes will be made,
and mistakes can be corrected -
if you will be humble,
for if you cannot be humble,
you will never know
when you have made a mistake.

If you walk the Red Road,
you know that every sorrow
leads to a better understanding,
every horror cannot be explained,
but can offer growth.

To Walk the Red Road
is to look for beauty in all things.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know you will one day
cross to the Spirit World,
and you will not be afraid…

"By Unknown"

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Way of the Sacred Pipe

If you are interested in learning the true Spiritual way of being a personal pipe carrier reading "The Way of the Sacred Pipe" by Jim Tree is where to start. "Jim Tree has taken a subject many feel is taboo, and approached it with knowledge, dignity, and great sensitivity. A must read for First Nation Peoples who have been raised away from their roots."Will O.,(Cherokee), Ciolo, Texas. "The book, "The Way of the Sacred Pipe" written by Jim Tree, is a must read for those interested in our tribal ways, especially concerning the use of stone pipes." Bud Johnston, (Anishinaabe) President, Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers. "In this instructive volume, Jim Tree takes us on a voyage through part of Native America and it's traditions that outsiders know little or nothing about. A good read." Slim Randles, author, "Sun Dog Days," "Ravens Prey", "Ol' Max Evans. "The Way of the Sacred Pipe" could not have come at a better time. With so many of the Indigenous ways and traditions vanishing like the morning dew, Jim Tree shares meaningful- and personal- insights into walking with the Sacred Pipe of our ancestors, not just for Indigenous Peoples, but for anyone anywhere who feels called to walk this path. With a focus on the living relationship with the Pipe instead of dogma, Jim hits the nail on the head and brings an oft-misunderstood topic into clear focus." Tim "Shadow Viper" Ott(Cherokee), Vienna, Austria. "What a breath of fresh air among all the plastic and Hollywood Stereotypes to see the real thing: Honest and authentic teachings put forth in a respectable format. Thanks to Jim Tree for this gift to the seven generations." Elisabeth Dietz, Eagle Woman, (Anishinaabe), author, "Now is the Hour-Native Prophecies for the coming Earth Changes." Author Jim Tree's training in the care of the Sacred Pipe has over the years been with several Elders representing Nations other than his own Cherokee People. This has given him a broad perspective on the ways of the Pipe, and it is from this collection of information that he offers the material presented here. His Elders of influence have been Adam Fortunate Eagle, Anishinaabe Spiritual leader, M. Running Deer, Apache spiritual leader, the late Lilly Windrider Nevarez, member of the Cherokee Medicine Society, and the late Larry War Eagle, Cherokee spiritual leader. To Order: