Autobiography – The Theater Years

Chapter  (xxx) of a work in progress
The theater years

At this advanced age of over 70, I can still recall my childhood memories but the time line is often blurred. I guess I categorize them into often overlapping files. A very large file might be labeled “the theater” In the early 50’s while we still lived in Decatur, Mom and my stepdad had a summer theater in Blue Mound Illinois. It was in their park. There were good and bad times there. My weekends were spent playing around the theater while Mom and Bill (That’s what I called my step-dad) built additions to the outdoor stage and out buildings. In the beginning the actors would have to change in a neighbor’s house across the street. Later they built a dressing room. It was just one room and there was no room to be modest. Remember that Scorpio influence?  I liked the dressing rooms. I had a crush on one of the younger actresses. OK, I was what, about 8, but I knew what I liked. She was in her early 20’s – an older woman.

Blue Moun d Theater
Pandora Players – Blue Mound, IL

I also remember the nights after the performances. The cast would go to a neighborhood bar. I had to go too. Those were the days without smoking bans and I can remember how my eyes would burn from the need to sleep and the excessive smoke. It seemed like the bar would never close. Sometimes I would try to sleep on a booth bench or even in the corner on the floor. These were some of the not-so-good times. I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

Construction of new theater in Arthur, IL

About the same time that we moved to Springfield so Bill could take a job with a local radio station, a manufacturing plant in Arthur Illinois, offered to build us a new outdoor theater. It would be state of the art. I guess they wanted to bring a little culture to the community.

Pandora Players advertising
Newspaper ad for Pandora Players at Progress Park, Arthur, IL

The theater was beautiful but it was away from Decatur enough that the crowds just didn’t follow us. I was in a couple of the plays and I enjoyed that. I also helped a lot with the technical side. I remember the dressing rooms were now separated and as I was getting older, it was harder to hang around and watch the girls. I guess I was a dirty old man at 12!  We would stay in a motel after the Friday and Saturday night performances and I would share a room with Bill and my Mom. After they thought I was asleep, they would have sex. It was arousing and very uncomfortable at the same time. It probably had a more profound effect on me than I realize. I was growing up far too quickly.

There were many fun times in the theater. I’ll never forget closing nights. Our plays ran for several weekends in a row and during the time we were presenting one show another was in rehearsal to be ready to open the weekend after the previous one closed. Opening nights were usually a little rough but by the time we were at the end of the run, everything was running like clockwork. All the actors were professional quality and could cover up almost everything. On closing night, it was everyone’s goal to break up another actor without jeopardizing the show. The audience could never know anything unusual was going on.

The most common gag was the “not so blank” notes. On the stage, when there was a letter or telegram or any kind of note used, they were normally blank. But on closing night, that was never the case. I remember one telegram that contained a beautiful drawing of a naked woman complete with stage-makeup hair placed in all the necessary places. The trick for the actors was not to show any unusual reaction. They would often ad-lib to get someone else in on the joke. They might look at the note and rather than read it, they might say, “You should read this.” And pass it onto another actor. By that time in the run, they knew the contents and could recite it but then again why not pass it on to someone else?  The note might contain a joke or a picture. Anything out of the ordinary could be used. Another joke regarding letters was to tape them up so they were difficult to open. In this case it was necessary to get the note out of the envelope without looking like you are struggling. Keep in mind this would never work if the actors were not very good because under no circumstances could the audience know. I have seen the actors turn away from the audience while they tried to recompose themselves all the time while the other actor was ad-libbing to keep everything moving properly.

Most of the jokes used props. There might be real wine in the glass rather than colored water. There might be a funny face on a watch. The list goes on but one of my favorites was a piece of luggage. On closing night, it was full of things like fireplace andirons, a box of nails, anything we could find that was heavy. It was placed close to the door to be carried in on with an actor’s entrance. There was no thought to pick it up prior to the entrance time so when Bill heard his cue, he attempted to pick it up and go on. What a surprise but there was nothing to do but carry it on. Remember, nobody in the audience could know so the struggling had to be undetectable. So what did he do when it was time to carry the bag off? Pass it onto someone else! “Grab that bag for me would you Hank?” No use wasting such a good prank on just one person.

Some of the pranks were produced by the technical staff, who often were also the actors. I remember one time where someone looked out a stage window and commented on a car out in the pretend street. It was supposed to be a red sports car and the line was, “It looks like a damn fire engine.” You guessed it, we had a toy fire engine complete with flashing red lights outside the stage window. Another time we set up a red spotlight in the fake fireplace and when the actor threw in a piece of coal, we flashed the light. The actor was caught off guard and threw in another to see if it would happen again. This went on for what seemed like eternity until all the coal in the bucket was gone

For those of you not familiar with theater settings, the stage set is constructed of flats that were 12 feet tall and different widths up to about 5 feet. 60 inches was the width of the muslin material used to cover the wooden frame. The frame is covered with the muslin material which is glued and stapled in place and then it is painted which causes it to shrink tightly on the frame. To make the shrinking material stay smooth, the muslin is painted with a big “X” from corner to corner or sometimes two  “x” s; on above the other.  Wooden dowels are set into the inside edge of the frame  on both side edges.  These flats are stood up and lashed together with ropes from dowel to dowel.  The ropes were permanently attached to one side of each flat. Once they are all together, they are relatively stable.  Right angle braces were nailed temporarily to some flats and held down with concrete blocks or sometimes nailed to the floor. On Friday afternoon, we would have to go to the theater and set up the set for the weekend. On Sunday after the show, we would have to take it down and put it away for the week. If you recall, I said this was outdoor summer theater so the set had to withstand the elements as did the actors.

On a hot summer evening, with the lights up full out in the middle of Illinois farm land, there were more bugs than you can imagine. They were everywhere and I do mean everywhere. You might find them crawling up your leg or down your blouse or shirt. This could be very disconcerting. When it was time to take a drink out of a glass sitting on stage, it was necessary to strain the watered down tea through your teeth to keep the swimming bugs out. But the show must go on.

Another problem with outdoor theater was noise. The neighborhood drag races we endured in Blue Mound were replaced by quieter Buggy races in Arthur, home of  the Amish. But they also had a busy train track. Keep in mind the actors didn’t have personal mikes in those days. Sometimes,  there were stage mikes across the front of the stage but if you didn’t know how to project your voice, nobody would hear you. When you had to compete with a train, guess who wins? The actors would go into suspended animation. You think it takes forever waiting for a freight train to clear a crossing; try freezing for that time.

There was another outdoor problem even worse than trying to stand still for a train passing. That was trying to keep the set still during a wind storm. When I described the construction of the individual flats, you might have seen them as large rectangular sails in your mind. You would not be far from the truth and when you have up to 100 feet of them lashed together, you have a large sailing ship under full sail. Even a slight wind would start to ripple the muslin and rumble almost like thunder; and as the wind increased, some flats would start to lift off the stage. Yes, they were weighted or nailed down but a few nails were no match for a wind storm. Back stage we would be running around trying to put weight on the attached braces. Some times that weight was us holding tightly. Where is that good heavy suitcase when you need it? If you have ever tried to carry a piece of paneling or any other large piece of material out in the wind, you have a small idea of what it was like. If we were lucky the wind would subside. If not, it reached a point that we had to either strike the set (take it down) or lose it! There were times when the audience came up on stage and helped try to save the set. I think this exemplifies the “family like” relationship we had even with the audience. They became one with the actors and their character.

There were other times when an overnight storm would devastate the set and us when we returned the next morning knowing we would have to rebuild the set somehow to get ready for that night’s performance. I was only a kid then so I didn’t fully realize what it was like. I knew how upset my parents were when they saw the mess. I didn’t think about the responsibility of having to rebuild for that night’s show or cancel the performance. I didn’t think about the money. Now I understand what it must have been like. When you are born to act, the curtain call is euphoric. It is a shot of a super drug. You can’t just give it up. It is an addiction. To feed that addiction, you must rebuild and not consider the cost. You must continue to produce shows even when you are always in the red. You have to have it.

It was a good thing Mom inherited a lot of money because she had to bankroll the habit. But all the setbacks took their toll. One year, Bill went to New York and interviewed professional actors to form a new summer stock theater they planned to open in Bushkill Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains.

Bushkill Playhouse program cover for Private Lives
Bushkill Playhouse program cover

By this time, I was about 14. I remember that because I learned to drive that summer in the parking lot of the new theater. This was an inside theater and we didn’t have to worry about weather. Unfortunately, we didn’t have to worry too much about pleasing the crowds either because there weren’t many. The thoughts of filling the house with vacationing Easterners never materialized. Although, I made some new adult friends, it was another wasted summer and a costly one to Mom.

The final chapter of my theater remembrances took place in Springfield where they opened a new style theater. In the ballroom of the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, they opened a dinner theater. For a minimal fee, theater goers got a great dinner, a glass of champagne and a play. The theater was known as the Champagne Cabaret Theater.

Theater program
Theater program

I was the technical director. I built the minimal sets and did the lights and sound. For the first time I even got paid. This endeavor actually made money but not much. Mom ran the office taking reservations during the day and they rehearsed in the evenings. I did the technical work. This was probably the first time Bill showed me any respect. It was that or pay me a decent salary. After graduating from High School, and a year at the local College, I went to work in Chicago and attended DeVry Institute of Technology. I drove home on the weekends to do the lights and sound for the theater. In 1964…. The Abe Lincoln was scheduled to close and The theater moved to the Leland Hotel. It was never as successful there.

Newspaper article regarding the family in the theater
Newspaper article regarding the family in the theater

During my stint as the technical director, I carried on the closing night tradition but the actors we used were not the same as the ones back in Blue Mound and Arthur. There was not the same comradery. They were not family friends and most of them were not local. It was not the same. But I remember my favorite prank.

Normally stage phones are dead. The actors talk to dead air during stage conversations. Closing night of one show was different. I hooked up the phone to my sound system and when Mom picked up the phone, I played “go little Honda” over the phone. The significance of the song was that I was trying to get permission to get a Honda motorcycle. I never did get a motorcycle until after I was married. I almost broke her up with that. The next conversation was with Bill on the phone. This time I used my microphone and talked back to him. Needless to say, it was nothing like what he was expecting. We all got a laugh out of that one. It was a prank not to be topped. I don’t remember much more about the theater. In 1968, I was married and moved away. . Those were good times that I will never forget. I considered the actors my friends and I related better with them than my own peers.

Bill and Mom didn’t do much after the theater closed at the Leland. They did some one act plays for organizations. They tried to do some local work but when they were no longer in charge, the parts dwindled. They did try a season out at Clayville, a historical farm west of Springfield and a season in the Elks ballroom.  They were not very successful financially.  Bill took a very small part in a play in Sullivan where they bring in stars for the primary rolls. Bill’s world was slowly collapsing around him. He had a major heart attack and several other health issues. He lost his job at the TV station for health reasons and was out of work for some time. In 1976, he tried out for a lead in Fiddler on the roof at the local Municipal opera. Had he not gotten that part, he would have been devastated. He died of a second massive  heart attack before he found out if he got the part. Perhaps, inside he knew it was not to be and he preferred to back out of life gracefully. His ashes were scattered over the grounds of that first summer theater in Blue Mound, IL.  His journey was over; most of Mom’s money was gone. She spent the next 15 years either drunk or strung out on prescription drugs.

Theater timeline
Theater timeline



Sunday Message:

Picture of uprooted tree
Tree uprooted

Have you ever looked at a tree that has been blown over in the wind? In my experience, I have noticed that they often have lots of surface roots but few deep penetrating roots. When the soil gets saturated, it gets soft and offers little support to the tall tree being blown by the wind. In the end, the tree is no match for the strong winds. Life is a lot like that too. We all strive to grow tall but if we fail to anchor into a solid base, we too can easily be blown down. Once taken down in this manner, it is very difficult to ever reach the tall stature of our recent past.

If we look at the germinating seed, we will see that it first sends out roots to get water and nutrients; then the plant sends out the exposed portion to reach for the light. These two needs are engrained in the DNA. It does not think about it; it simply knows that it must first anchor itself to the Earth and draw sustenance from Mother Earth and then it can grow into the light. At some point, it will it will have to know how tall and how deep it should go. If it gets regular gratification from constant watering, it will channel its energy to send out surface roots to take in the “easy” water. These roots are not strong but they can grow quickly and absorb much of the light regular rainfall. But if the rains are less constant and the top soil dries out, it knows to dive deeper into the soil for the deep water. The healthy plant will balance the deep and surface root extent. So, it is the hardships and lack that promotes the stronger and deeper roots.

Understanding the simple life, can help us understand the more complex life we lead. We also need to balance our entity. We need the deep roots of family and friends; that is our physical strength, our security. We also need the strength of spirit. That is our link to the whole. My first choice of words here would be God but there are those who don’t understand that word. They think of God as some supreme being hanging around in Heaven. Others will say, “ No, God is a trinity; Father, Son and holy Ghost” . Others will think we are talking about one of many Gods as in the Greek or Roman Gods. All these understandings are good examples of the religions of the world. But if you try to say, “God is the supreme being of all Christians or Jews or Muslims, is to say that the religion came before God. How can that be? God was the beginning before there was religion. If you except the concept that God is everywhere, then everywhere and everything is God or better said everything makes up God. Knowing that we all are a part of God, tells us that we all are a part of each other. Sorry I had to get off on this tangent but it is so important in this age were we are being pitted against each other. Are we just dogs forced to fight each other like caged dogs in a dog fight?  Have we not learned anything from the time of the gladiators?

OK, back to the trees. In life, we try to grow tall so we can have lots of leaves to capture the sunlight energy. We can relate this to the quest for wealth. The leaves are like dollars. While they do give us more access to additional sunlight, they also require more care, They have to be supported and fed and watered. For that we need the roots. The wise tree will send his roots deep for the more pure water less dependent on regular rainfall. But like the little pigs, with their houses of sticks and straw, we often take the easy way and this would be those surface roots. Without our ties to the spiritual side of life, we are like the rolling tumbleweed; blowing from one field to another.

Currently, we are being tested by events in our country and the world. We can fight like the dogs that some have become or bury our heads in the ground and be destined to blow around with the tumbleweed. The third option is to take this challenge to strengthen ourselves both physically and spiritually. We can reconnect with all life for the betterment of the universe and fight tyranny wherever it shows itself. We must dig deep down into our soul and find that which we are and stand tall against those who would throw us to the lions. Life is not a game; there are no winners or losers; only survivors.

Love and Light, I AM,

The land of the Red, White and Blue

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a world called the Red White and Blue. After  the Raping of the land by the Greedy unnamed corporate entities, much of the landscape was barren.  With each new oil well pumping the land’s lifeblood from her body, the land would shiver and shake as if to attempt to shake off this nuisance bug.  Finally, there was a massive shake and several volcanoes, inactive for centuries belched forth immeasurable ash and rock. The ruling elite built fortresses underground and due to the limited sunlight, they became pale and were known  as the white race. The non-elite were forced to find shelter on the outside.

The continuous winter conditions were the result of the ash in the air completely obscuring the sun much of the time.  A pole shift had re-positioned the world so that this land was on the equator but the poor air quality still limited the amount of sunlight.  It was a harsh world and there was fighting among the two races but these people were adaptable.  They could work with their hands and they had many resources from the violence-torn urban areas.  Some had been able set up living spaces from old campers and off-grid camps in the wilderness areas. Others tried to use the old uninhabited urban neighborhoods.

These people were of two races. There was the red race and the blue race.  The reds were the followers of the white race but the elites turned on them when the times got hard  and left them behind when they moved underground.  The reds preferred to be more independent and had only a minimal governing  body.  They believed each person was responsible for himself  and that charity would promote weakness and dependency.  The blues were more clan-like and worked together for each other.  While the clan was able to work together, it was hard for any to get ahead because they were carrying others who were not productive.

Before the uprisings, they had worked together balancing each other.  But the whites, who did little to actually contribute to the populous kept increasing fees and taxes. They were like the catalyst that kept things flowing. They were the bankers who loaned money and charged interest. They didn’t actually add anything  to the transaction, they just collected the fees. Yes, they were the glue that seemed to hold things together but they were also parasites, constantly sapping the strength of the people.  Everything would have been fine but they got greedy.  Keep in mind that before the great war, they were of the red and blue race, it was only after they crushed the workers under crippling debt and taxes and  reduced freedoms that the working people revolted.  But the whites were not stupid by any means. They knew that to protect themselves, they would keep the reds and blues fighting among themselves blaming each other for their plight in life.  All this time, the whites who belonged to a secrete mystical society, gathered their needs and built their world underground for protection.

This was also the time that they conjured up a mystical dragon to protect them and their possessions. They called the dragon Aleen ( Ay  lee en ). It stood 20 ft tall and had 3 legs on each side of its monstrous body.  He could stand on the four back legs and still strike out with the front two although they were short. Each leg ended in clawed feet  that had opposing claws so they could grab objects or people.  It was also able to breathe fire from its mouth.  The people were in constant fear; for it would always come in the darkness.  it could and did do unmentionable things as it ravaged the countryside.  Few people saw Aleen and lived to tell the story but there were reports in the red camps that Aleen had a blue flame colored head and they suspected he was sent by the blue race. But strangely, in the blue encampments, stories were told of his fiery red head. They were convinced it was sent by the red race.  There were stories among some of the drifters that Aleen could be found in the daytime sleeping in the red rocks canyon.  There were high stone walls on either side of the canyon and it was a dead end canyon.  Because the two dragons were different colors, it was suspected that perhaps they were brothers.

The elders of the red clan decided that they would send their best warrior to slay the dragon while he slept in the canyon. They feared that sending more than one would awaken the dragon but a single warrior might be able to sneak up and kill Aleen.  They would wait for the darkness of the new moon and the warrior would sleep during the days and only venture out at night for the three preceding nights so he would be accustomed to the night vision.

Perhaps it was coincidence or action by the Gods but the blue elders had devised the same plan.  As the shaded sun sank over the horizon,  both warriors headed to the canyon. Neither knew of the other but as they neared the entrance to the canyon, the red warrior saw the blue  warrior ahead of him. Being from the more aggressive  race, red thought he would stay out of sight and get close enough to attack from behind, killing the blue knight and then go on to slay the dragon.  He followed from a distance until they neared the canyon entrance.  He moved closer into attacking distance; but then he heard the blue one chanting a prayer just under his breath.  “ I am one with the spirit. The life force resides in me  . . . . . . I am one with the spirit. The life force resides in me.  Oh, great spirit, hear me now”  What is this chant that sounds so familiar? Do I know this man? He hesitated and then raised his sword into the air.  With his highly polished sword raised over-head to strike down  the blue knight,  the blue knight seemed to radiate a blue light around him and the light from the glistening sward reflected on to the rocks ahead and there before them were the sleeping dragons. Both were apparently side by side because although their bodies were hidden by a massive bolder, each had his neck outstretched lying on the ground on either side of the rock.  Each knight saw their adversary and they now also saw each other more clearly.  They now faced evil personified in the two dragons. Would it not be more advantageous to work together?

They devised a plan to use the strong steel stranded rope  to tie the two dragons together and the two warriors could  fight them as one demon.  They  made a slip noose in each end of the rope and looped the rope around the tree that stood  in front of the boulder.  Then they took each end  loop to their respective dragon’s head. The idea was to hold the loop open in front of the dragon’s head so that when he lunged toward them, he would thrust his head through the loop and pull the noose tight.  Both knew that either or both of them could be easily killed if everything did not go just right.  They got into position, holding the loop open and ready to throw it over the attacking head.  Each held their weapon  ready to drive into the dragon’s eye. There was a nod and silently, one, two, three, PLUNGE!  The Gods must have been watching over them that night because the plan worked even better than they had planned. Each head lunged forward and pulled the noose tightly around the necks  but the two dragons did not get up from behind the huge rock and attack together because what the knights realized was that this was not two dragons. It was a single dragon with two heads. It symbolized the evil in both the red and blue races. So, the warriors were facing their own dark selves and that is why the dragon was so powerful.  Now the dragon had turned on himself as each head tried to get loose by pulling the noose tighter around each neck and he eventually killed himself.

As the two fighting warriors rejoiced at their success they started to  walked back to their respective camps, The blue knight started to recite another chant. “ We all are  one with the Light. There is but one Light. We are all one” . The red knight stopped him and ask what he was chanting; it was so familiar but yet he had never heard it before.

The Blue Knight explained, “It is familiar with you because it is impressed on our DNA as a resonance force. I always thought it was just the Blue race that resonated with the chant. If you feel it too then we too are brothers.  I learned of this story from my great grandfather who lived before the great eruptions.  He learned it from his forefathers.  The legend says that the sun will be taken from the sky for many seasons but  when two of different colors come together to slay the great beast, peace will come to our world.  It is said that they will come back dragging the light force behind them.  They will rule for 1000 season cycles.  It also says that they will help the white race regain their color but the white ones will never rule again.

AS the new brothers walked across the desert singing the chants together, the world began to echo the resonance and a fine mist formed and was bringing down the ash and an ever-spreading  ribbon of green and brightly colored flowers sprung up behind them in the rich ash soil as if the two were dragging them across the desert behind them.  When they looked ahead,  they could see the first light spreading across the land as the sky cleared.  It was the first sunrise on a new era in the land of the Red, White and Blue.

Merry Christmas 2016

The first Sriner Christmas letter was printed on my spirit duplicator; remember those purple printed pages we got in school that could almost get you high from the smell, if it was just printed by the teacher.   Next, the letter  was printed on the mimeograph machine. Remember  that messy ink splattered  print we also got in school. I had both at my book store.  Then along came computers and home color printing. I moved into that media and was able to add color pictures to the Christmas Letter.  The older I got, the more I had to say and early printed letters were often 4 -5 pages printed front and back.  Even on light paper, the over-weighted cards became costly to print and mail as more and more people requested them.  Next, computers started talking to each other over the internet.  Suddenly, you could send color graphics and even video with the click of the button.  Over the years of ever-increasing digital communications, my letters evolved to the point that only digital format was practical. That is where we are now.  It is also now phone or tablet friendly; unlike the pdf versions I have posted in the past.  In this fast paced life we have built for ourselves,  we don’t even have or take the time to sit down at the computer and read email. We are ever-increasingly reading our mail on the phone while riding an elevator or waiting in line at the grocery store. It’s also a great way to pass the time waiting for the doctor; something that I and many of my friends do on a regular basis.  If we continue on this trend, soon we will have to confine our communications to a 140 character tweet.  If it comes to that, sorry but you will have to come visit me so I can tell you about my past year.  So,  for now, hang on; here we go; off for a ride through the thoughts of 2016.

As I try to chronicle the past year into a digestible serving of the meat and potatoes of life topped with a delicate humorous glaze of slap-stick and satire, I find myself face-planted against the reality wall of  CANCER.  There, I have said it! It is that word whispered in corners of the room by family and friends.  It isn’t something that can be wrapped up and tied with a bow to open at some unknown time in the future.  It is here and it directs, either directly or indirectly, the final scenes in this drama of life.  Yes, it can be postponed but it does not go away.  But, as they say, the show must go on and Pat is the strongest, most positive, most giving person I know.  The bad news is that the cancer is still slowly growing ; the good news is that the cancer is growing slowly and the medications have had few side effects. Thank God we have good doctors and good insurance.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like if the stress included the worry of how to pay for the care.

OK, so we have now faced the elephant in the room.  No, I’m NOT referring to me although I can see the resemblance.  I have reached that point where anything below my belly button is considered on the dark side of the moon.  Otherwise, I am relatively healthy.  Sure, I have those aches and pains that seem to accompany this age also aggravated by inherited spine problems but  I consider myself lucky. I can still get onto and off the roof and can do a little work while up there.  Yes, projects do take longer but time I have.

dsdigitals_4fb-8832 dsdigitals_4fb-8849This past year’s major project was the kitchen remodel and although we are still looking at a patchwork of multicolored cabinets, otherwise, it is finished. My only regret is that we didn’t do it long ago. It is so much more convenient.  There is nothing about the new design that I don’t like.  I love the new appliances and new window.  I enjoy cooking and it is much easier to enjoy in the new environment.

When I look back on the year, I see it can be divided between trips to visit with the doctors and trips to visit with nature and friends.  It is sometimes challenging to balance these two aspects of our current life.  While we considered a trip south to consume part of the winter, the threats of weather problems both getting out of, and returning to, home were more stressful with health issues.  We find ourselves less flexible both physically and mentally.  The “what-ifs” can certainly put a damper on plans. Even a planned outing in May was cancelled due to weather.   It was June before we ventured out in the camper and even then, it was just out to Sangchris SP for a long weekend. .  The end of June brought a visit from our new friends, the Boones, who we met at Rocky Mountain National Park while camping. We camped together this time out at New Salem and visited with them  each day they were here.  We could not show them around as much as we wanted, but we did have a great time.  It is friendships like this that bring true value to life.

It wasn’t until August that we ventured out again; for a visit with another wonderful couple, the Felds, up in Door County, Wisconsin.  We decided to stay camped in their driveway and they were exceptional hosts.  Aside from providing full hookups for the camper, they tried to feed us every night.  I tried to reciprocate by fixing my self-proclaimed famous crab tacos.  In my excitement to share my dish, I overdid with the sriracha dressing.  It didn’t even occur to me that they didn’t like hot food. This was a major blunder on my part. When Hans coughed and lit the candles across the room, I got the idea that perhaps it was too hot.  Fortunately, Nancy had some cooling desert to sooth the fire.   We planned the trip around the Tall Ships Festival and spent two full days watching and photographing the ships as they entered and left Sturgeon Bay.  What a wonderful time it was.

tall_ships_sturgeon_bay-1569-edit-1 tall_ships_sturgeon_bay_2016-9178-edit-1 tall_ships_sturgeon_bay-1209-edit-1 tall_ships_sturgeon_bay-1350-edit-1

click here for more tall ships pictures

Shortly after returning home, we were hosting another high school friend, Karen Hart,  here at our house.  Actually, we set her up in our camper “guest house”  for the time she was here. Again, more time with the companionship of friends.  While Karen was here, we were also able to enjoy a short visit with another HS friend, Mary Gasperin.  I guess you could say, August was Old friends month!  The key word here is “old”, no strike that; make it “friends”.

turkey_run_sp_barns_and_bridges-2094-1 turkey_run_sp_barns_and_bridges-9893-edit-1In September, we headed over to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana,  for a week camping and visiting the sights there.  We crisscrossed the area photographing barns and covered bridges.  We are slowly finding a balance between the resting stages and the sightseeing events. We need both.  We are also finding ourselves able to take our time to see the little things and stop and visit with folks.  It used to be Go, Go, Go the whole time we were out; but now it is Go, rest, go, rest, rest, go.  Aside from missing one barn I wanted to re-photograph, we saw everything we wanted to see. We even took a less than rewarding trip down to Brown County where I remember stories of an artsy area with lots of barns.  It turned out to be too commercialized for us. We drove around and headed back. It felt like a wasted day.  The end of September brought more friends from High School as we gathered for a mini-reunion, 70th birthday gathering.

In October, we hit the road again. This time, we were headed for the east side of Lake Michigan.  We were delighted to be going to visit another old friend from High School, Julie Avery in Empire, Michigan. Not coincidentally, this was the location of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore.  We camped there in the national park. The campground was AWESOME!  The first night there, we were delighted to have a surprise visit from Julie.  I don’t think anybody ever did that before. It was a nice welcome.  It is an interesting note that we were almost directly across Lake Michigan from Nancy  Feld. I tried to wave to her, but apparently she does not have as good eyesight as Sarah Palin because she could not see us just across the lake.  Barns, Barns, and more barns would be the keynote for this visit. We ventured up two peninsulas on either side of Traverse City, MI and zig-zagged our way back down.

empire_-mi_trip_2016-3065_6_7_8matrix-edit-edit-1 empire_-mi_trip_2016-1362-edit-1 empire_-mi_trip_2016-3052_3_4_5matrix-edit-1 The beautiful barns made for a delightful outing. We will definitely be going up there again.  Click here for more barn pictures. We shared a dinner at Julie’s home and another at the local restaurant.  Two specific events come to mind when I think back about this trip. The first would have to be the “wrong turn” guided by our GPS.  It was one of those back road short cuts. It was the closest we have come to the 4WD drive we found going up to Crystal Mill Colorado.  There were not the sheer drop offs but the ruts and muddy rills made up for that. Add in low hanging branches and a steady light rain and you have a real adventure.  The second event was not as exciting but rather an incidence of self-awareness. We pulled into the parking lot at the base of an extremely tall sand dune.  We debated getting out, but decided to just stay in the truck and enjoy our PBJ sandwich.  Before us was the sky reaching sand dune with young and older adventurers at various points ascending the dune.  At the provided picnic tables, were people putting on shoes or taking them off. I watched, almost in a daze contemplating the ascent of the “mountain”.  It took all of my willpower to stay in the car and NOT try to conquer the sandy slope.  I’m sure I could have made it just because of sheer will but at what cost?  As I second guess myself now, I’m not sure I won’t try it at some time in a future visit. Being old is still new to me and it is hard to accept.

November didn’t bring any camping but we were able to have Thanksgiving here again after several years celebrating with Krystal and Steve’s family.  No, we didn’t live with them for  four years and celebrate, we went to their home several times to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It was nice to have the family, Krystal, Kim, Joshua and Emily all together for a more intimate meal.  Now, we are getting ready for Christmas and a new year.

A recount  of 2016 would not be complete without some comment on the election and the state of our world. Last year, I talked about the great divide I was seeing in our country.  Now, it has grown to shameful proportions.  It could easily erupt into a small scale civil war depending on what transpires over the next year.

According to Edger Cayce, Plato and many other philosophers, there was an ancient continent of Atlantis. It was very advanced much like we are today. It too became divided between two factions. The one faction believed that we were all one; interconnected in spirit.  The other faction broke away from that belief as they enjoyed the thought that they were better and deserved to control those below themselves.   As long as they just fought among themselves, they were allowed to have free will,  but when they  lost respect of the land and misused it,  the Earth, also a living being, made the necessary changes to correct the attack on itself. Atlantis, like Lemuria before it, was taken to the bottom of the ocean for cleansing.

I resonate with the belief that we are all one in spirit. That means those who believe and those who don’t are still interconnected.  This spirit has no color, no religion and no sex.  I know, I don’t like that last part either.  I just pray that we can all remember who and what we are before  we blow each other up like many of the prophesies predict.

Love and Light,
the Sriners

I remember

I remember walking through the trees listening to God speak through the  whistling branches and singing sparrow.  I remember fording  the shimmering stream where the fish would glance against my  shin  and the water would weave between my toes. God spoke to me there also. He said, ” The energy is in the water, it is pure like the spirit.”  I remember the sound of the pounding hooves of buffalo as they thundered across the plain.  God said, ” Take only what you need; to take more is greed.”  I remember the warmth of the glistening sun as it shone through  the crystal clear atmosphere.  God said, ” This is my breath to warm your spirit.”  And I remember the stillness of the night; where the song of the far off stars would sing me a lullaby of peace.  Life was good and I remember.

In the stillness of the night, I saw an unnatural darkness come over the land.  God said, “These are the clouds of change; They have come to your land from the East. Fear not; as I will protect you through all your days but beware these new brothers are new to this world and they have not found their way to me.  You must teach them your ways or your world will perish.  This I say unto you.  You must be patient; they have not seen the many lives you have; it will be hard for them to accept your ways, the ways of the spirit.

A brightness filled the sky and on the horizon, a multitude of brothers came to the land of the Americas.  I remember watching them kill the buffalo and then take a prize and leave the rest to rot in the grass.  I remember the last thunder of hooves drown out by the sound of man’s thunder. I remember the cry of the buffalo as one by one they were struck down by the White man’s fire stick. I cried with the wounded buffalo. I knew I would never again hear the mighty sound of thundering hooves as these majestic creatures of God fell like mighty trees; never to rise again.  I said, “Why God?”  and the answer was, “You must be patient; these are the souls of your much younger brethren; be patient, my son.”

And so it was, the land was taken by those  who had not found the  true connection to God  and while they professed their concern for the many, they swore allegiance to the I. Themselves and their family.  Through the many years, I saw many births and an equil number of deaths as I tried to continue with my directive to show them the way.  I tried to live among them as  one of their own.  I tried to mend their sick as a doctor and I worked in their fields as a slave.  I was their mother, I was their daughter while always being me.  I shared my experience with them and slowly, ever so slowly, they began to grow.

I asked God, “Am I finished yet, my Father?  I am tired; can I come home?”   “Soon” was his answer.  I continued with my quest to show the unenlightened the way to the Father but for every one I could raise, more of the  juvenile mouth breathers would fill the void.  While I looked with pride at all the  souls who had followed me, I knew I was a part of them.  They were all my children and I lived in them.  I thought to myself, ” They are my children as I am my Father’s child. I will continue to live through them as he lives through me.”  Is this the true evolution?  To raise our own vibration, we have to raise up those below us.  We don’t grow by  climbing; we grow by building a higher platform below us.  I asked my Father, ” Am I coming home now? ” and he responded, ” You never left.”

I remember

DFS 2/27/16


Sharing the light

The following is a post I added to my FaceBook page Christmas morning: ( There is more to the story – see below)

Tonight, we went to the candle light service at our church. The service ends with the congregation singing Silent Night while holding lit candles. When it comes time to light the candles, the person on the end of the pew lights their candle from the stationary candle on the end of every other row and then lights the next person’s candle from theirs. I was on the end and when it came time to light my candle from the pew candle, I had to stretch up with my right arm, which is the one with the shoulder rotator cuff damage. A pain shot through my shoulder as I held the candle to the flame. I was reminded that it is often not without pain to reach for the light of wisdom but then sharing that light with others is very rewarding. May we all reach for the light and once obtained, may we share it with others unable to obtain it on their own. Merry Christmas every one.

The preceding was my original post and as Paul Harvey would say,  ” And now, page two.”

There are many church rituals that have special spiritual  meaning to “those who have eyes to see”.  This candle lighting is symbolic of the passing of light or spiritual energy from one to another. I mentioned that it was not without pain to reach up and take the light from the church candle and make it my own. It was  necessary for me to reach out. The flame did not miraculously jump over to me.  Jesus said, “Knock and the door will be opened” he did not say,
stay there and I will come get you.” You must look for the light; be it within or from an outside source.  Spiritual awareness is not simply posted for you to see as you walk by; you have to be looking for this awareness.

In the service bulletin, there was a notation that each person down the line should take their candle and light it from the other person beside them. There is a caution not to tip the lighted candle. The assumption is that this is a safety measure so you don’t spill hot wax  from the hot candle but again, this is symbolic of the process that you too must reach for the light.

Spiritual law dictates that we help if asked; answer when asked and give the energy of spirit to others, when asked.  You can not pluck up a person and lift them into awareness. They have to climb with your help. Trying to save those who are not ready to be saved is “casting seed upon barren ground”.

Those who are closer to the Light must be available when asked but it is not their responsibility to  save the world. When the student is ready, the teacher will be there.  On a more personal level, you can not learn your children’s lessons for them.  Trying to do otherwise, is a great disservice to them.  We have all seen the warning signs at parks and wildlife spaces, “Do not feed the animals”  They must learn to survive and grow on their own.  If you were to help a developing caterpillar out of his cocoon before he was fully developed, you would most surely kill him.  While it is hard to watch loved ones  struggle, it is the most beneficial thing you can do. Encourage their struggles and then praise their accomplishments.  Only then will they grow.

Christmas Letter 2015

It’s been a long year; so you might want to grab a favorite beverage and pull a comfortable chair up to the computer before getting started on this chronological dissertation. Any time you see text in green, it indicates an active link. Click on it for additional information or pictures.

If life is a roller coaster, I am feeling like the track; simply watching life’s events whiz by. Sometimes, I try to grab hold of the car so I too can enjoy the ride; but this year, it seems that every time I reached up, the car ran over my hand. Fortunately, I have a high pain tolerance. As I look at Pat’s notes for the year, they read like a script for a hospital real life drama, and Pat and I had the starring roles. Mom would be proud. At last, we made it into the theater.

Every year, I name this narrative “Christmas Letter (insert year) “ when in reality it is just yearly chapters of the chronicles of life. This year’s starting point was January 1st. I know that is where I started last year, but some ruts are just too deep to dig yourself out of. I know, that dang dangling preposition is just hanging out. Oops; the more I dig, the deeper I get. Note to self: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging!

IMAG0433January started with an old Saladino family tradition of making homemade cheese filled ravioli. This time it was a Sriner family event. We rolled out the egg noodle dough and cut it into coffee-can-sized circles and filled them with the cheese filling. I make the sauce following Pete’s recipe only I add some flavoring. I like a meaty sauce. This was a great start for the year. Pat was recovering from her femur (thigh bone) surgery and the cancer seemed to be stabilized. The key word here is “seemed”. Surely, 2015 would be better than the health disaster we had in 2014. I was to get my knee repaired and then Pat and I could ride off into the sunset together headed for new adventures!


Roll the credits.

It’s a wrap.

NOT SO FAST! While my torn meniscus repair went perfectly, Pat’s leg was not healing properly and she had another surgery scheduled for the end of the month. It was only January and we were already making new friends at Memorial Medical Center. The new doctor removed the nail, pin and screws from the first surgery and redid the work. This time, the nail that extended down the femur was shortened so as not to interfere with her previous knee replacement. The pin into the ball of the femur head was inserted at a different angle and location; and again Pat was to go through the long painful healing process. This time it was made worse by the invasion of the same location and the new incisions over old minimally healed scars. The 6 week preliminary healing check-up in mid-March showed healing and Pat was beginning to feel better. 4 days later, she was greeted by more hip pain. X-rays showed that the hip repair had failed! Doctor G wanted to do the surgery again using a different procedure to try to mend the cancerous hip. We asked again about a complete hip replacement and were set to have a second opinion from a hip specialist. At the last minute, he was not available. Dr. G asked him if it made any difference that the bone was cancerous. The reply from the hip specialist was, “ If it is cancerous, she has to go to a specialist either in Bloomington or St. Louis.” As Dr G recounted this conversation to us, I almost fell out of the chair. In the several discussions with the hip specialist, cancer was never mentioned? How could this be?

While all this was happening, I had my own sub-plot going with another surgeon. Tests indicated that I had an enlarged para-thyroid that was overactive causing a number of problems. Not the least of which was memory loss. . . . Hmmm, where was I going with this? Oh, neck surgery was scheduled for the middle of April because that is where the para-thyroid is located. No, the para-thyroid isn’t located in April; it is in the neck. April isn’t in the neck; the para-thyroid is. Sure glad that brain damage wasn’t permanent!

Pat had her consult with Doctor McDonald in St. Louis and surgery was scheduled for early April. This time the entire hip ball and socket would be removed and a new hip joint and upper section of the femur were to be replaced. Her surgery was on the 7th of April and mine was a week later. We were again on the mend together. Like the knee surgery before, my recovery was very short. I was out digging in the garden the next day. We had now made it through 1/3 of the year. We had spent most of our time in health facilities or recuperating at home.

As we flipped the calendar over to May, I felt like I could leave Pat for the day while I photographed the Abe Lincoln Funeral reenactment. Using my bicycle as my mode of transportation, I zipped from event to event around town. It was good to get out and the weather cooperated with a beautiful spring day. Here is a link to my pictures. The last page contains some video clips of the procession into the cemetery. I was beginning to feel like my old self again. Note the inflection on “old”.

May, might be called the road to recovery month. Pat was healing as well as can be expected after such a major surgery. She had an incision from her hip almost to the knee. It was obvious from the first few days that this surgeon knew what he was doing. The bruising and swelling that were a big part of the previous surgeries were almost nonexistent. Pat was determined to be well enough to go to Disney World by the end of the month. May 18th, it had been six weeks post-surgery. Pat had been wearing a hip abduction brace 24-7 the entire time which restricted her hip movement. She could neither bend over nor spread her legs. I know some of you are waiting for some comic relief here and the previous sentence was just the place to insert it; however, considering the severity of the surgery and the subsequent pain, I will not discuss such an insertion here. I will pause while you make your own comments to yourself. . . . . .  With the end of the six weeks, came the six week check-up. Imagine that! At last the chastity belt was removed and Pat was now free to say, . . . .   “Disney, here we come!”

After an overnight with friends, the Dershimers in Orlando, we pointed Big Red and his pull-behind house for the Wonderful World of Disney. For the first time in over a year, we stuffed the thoughts of cancer and surgeries in a faraway cubby hole and embraced the Disney experience.

2015_florida_disney-5223-1Everyone knows it is best to see Disney World through the eyes of a child and we had that covered. You see, this trip was planned clear back at Christmas of last year; and the reason it was so special was that we would be joined by the grandkids Joshua and Emily. They brought their parents with them. What a delight it was to have them all there. With the new Star Wars movie just over the horizon, the week we were there was made even more special by the two Star Wars weekends that book ended our week there. Here is a link to our FaceBook album Star Wars Breakfast

The best way to experience Disney is through the interaction with the characters; and interaction we had! We joined the kids for 5 different character meals. While the cost was hard to swallow, it was still the most memorable part of the experience. We had breakfast at an indoor drive-in with Star Wars characters roaming through the restaurant. 2015_florida_disney-5720-Edit-2We had dinner with Disney princesses and experienced Cinderella’s step sisters up close and personal. The shrill voiced step sister grabbed Joshua out of his chair to dance.2015_florida_disney-5428-1 He just turned three shades of red and wrestled himself free only to be laid on and “Boobie whipped” from behind. 2015_florida_disney-5434-1I can still laugh just remembering it all. Watching the kids and capturing the moments digitally was the highlight of the vacation. When we were not trying to keep up with the family, Pat and I were off on our own adventures on our twin scooters. We knew Pat would be unable to walk around the grounds so soon after surgery; so, I planned on a wheel chair that I would push around. That thought didn’t rattle around my empty brain long before I thought a scooter would be easier. In the end, twin scooters were the solution. For those of us reaching the age of limited ambulation, scooters are the bomb! We had a blast zipping around. Pat would lead the way busting the crowds for me. She has practice from bumping old ladies out of the way at the grocery store with her cart. She was the queen of the scooter once on board. Needless to say, this week will go down in our book as one of the most enjoyable times ever. Our aging brain cells often have difficulty putting memories in the proper time line. Let’s see, was that when Krystal was young or was it when Kim was first experiencing Disney? Now, we can add Emily and Joshua to the mix or should I say mix-up! In any case they will be great memories.

If you follow us on FaceBook, you can see the Disney albums there. Here is a link to one album Disney Princesses .

2015_florida_disney-5385-1Additional Disney pictures can be found here.

After another night at the Dershimer family campdrive, we headed across the state; OK we were already half way across. The state of Florida is only about 20 miles across, I think. It seems unfair that one state should have two bordering water bodies. Anyway, next stop was Anastasia SP just at the edge of St Augustine, FL. It had a lovely beach where we tried several times to watch the sunset over the water. Never did get any pictures of that. Now that I think of it, St. Augustine is on the East coast of Florida. Perhaps that was the problem.

2015_Florida_trip-2252-1While in St. Augustine, we met up several times with classmate Karen Waters from Jacksonville. She was to be our tour guide. The first outing was just across the street from the campground entrance. It was the Alligator Farm which was filled with feather covered photo ops. If you have never been there, you can’t imagine how many nesting birds are squeezed into this small area. It is open for fly-ins and fly-outs so they must like it there, as they keep coming back and so will we now that we know. I thought it was all about alligators. Not so! I still have pictures I have not yet edited. Our next outing was not as successful. I think Karen was keeping the good places to herself or she just wanted to discourage our future visits; because after what seemed like an all-day drive, we turned into a wildlife refuge and saw an innumerable number of water fowl. No, it wasn’t that there were too many to count. Zero is also innumerable. I take that back, we did see some roadkill. Then to make up for the poor showing we went to another closed location and parked nearby. It was equally productive.2015_Florida_trip-2768-1 I did get a photograph of Karen photographing a big blue Heron. Talk about anti-climax after the numerous birds the day before. To make up for the lack of excitement, she took us to an amusement park called, “the Florida highway system”. The first ride was called “change the cell phone battery in your phone in the rain while driving 65” this maneuvering was necessary because she had to get directions on how to get us home. I won’t try to compare it to Mary’s driving in Texas but I will apologize for saying Mary was the worst driver I knew. Mary, I take that back! My brake foot leg is just now starting to uncramp. Nothing personal; but next time I will drive. I will say it was memorable; and I don’t remember much now days. It is just that some things like oncoming traffic on our right side leaves a lasting impression.

It was the middle of June before we got back home. It felt really good to be home; however, we didn’t have much time to enjoy it, because as soon as we could get in a hundred or more doctors’ appointments for the both of us, we were off again. This time we were headed to one of our favorite places in the country; Rocky Mountain National Park. After a couple nights on the road, we arrived at20150625_141838 Cheyenne Mountain SP in Colorado Springs. We were only there for one night; but we will certainly return. It was a Great camping spot. We were able to make it to the top of Pikes Peak the afternoon of our arrival. We could have made it to Garden of the Gods, too; but the ranger at the state park gave us bad directions to the road up to the peak. I should have listened to the GPS on this one. It was a rainy assent and there was talk of closing the road off; but we got past the gate in time and headed up. I remember the old gravel road from our first time there nearly 50 years ago; but now it was all paved. RMNP_2015_trip-6253-1YEA! On the top, the rain let up long enough for us to get out and discover we could not breathe due to the altitude. We walked 100 miles across the parking lot and went into the gift shop where Pat found the nearest bench. I went outside determined to get a few pictures. I chipped the ice off my fingers long enough to press the shutter button. It was cold and wet but beautiful and invigorating at the same time. This is one of those places you never forget. After a few shots of us in front of the Pikes Peak sign, we headed back down the mountain. By this time the weather had deteriorated even further and Nature was offering electrical fireworks in the distance. Pat was torn between taking some pictures with my camera of the storm on the way down and covering her eyes and holding on for dear life. Miraculously, she did get some good pictures of storm fronts over the mountains.

RMNP_2015_trip-6477-1After a night at the Estes Park KOA, we headed into RMNP in the morning. We had one night on our own before Kim and her friend Eric pulled in after their all-night drive.RMNP_2015_trip-6799-1 We were also joined by several school classmates. RMNP_2015_trip-6649-13After a nice afternoon visiting, we were ready for some quality rest. We had to leave the park on July 4th ; but we made the most of it and spent 2 more nights in Estes Park KOA before reentering the park for another week. Kim and friend had returned home and now it was just the 3 of us, Pat, the dog and I.

20150708_090315We had a lot of rain but we did hike some trails, saw a lot of wildlife and were able to relax for a change.

Jay and Joyce Kesinger came back up for a day and we went back up Old Fall River Road. RMNP_2015_trip-3556-1Here is Jay photographing a  beautiful Elk. He also saw his first moose up close and personal. This is what the elk thought of us!


The next leg of our journey took us to Custer SP near Mt Rushmore. 20150712_191554The park and wildlife encounters were great; but Mt Rushmore with all the new multilevel parking garages, hall of flags and mini mall extravaganza turned us both off.RMNP_2015_trip-7620-1 It was too far for Pat to walk back to the overlook; so I walked back, took a few pictures, and headed to the truck where Kira was waiting in the hot sun with the truck running and A/C going.   That was a wasted afternoon but the ride to and from was enjoyable. We spent several days camped just outside the park and enjoyed the park animals more than anything.RMNP_2015_trip-7723-1 There is something about being in the truck with hundreds of large buffalo skirting around us to put things in proper perspective.RMNP_2015_trip-3639-Edit-1 We had a great time; however, after a month on the road, we were hearing the call of our own home. The camper is nice but home is better.

We couldn’t link up with friends and relatives in Minnesota; but we did get one last short visit with Nancy and Hans Feld in Sturgeon Bay before heading to the cheese factory and home.

August was rather non-descript but it was a chance to get back into a normal groove. It was a time of regrouping before I went into work mode for the rest of the year. It was time for a project. I was trying to recuperate from some shoulder soreness after the month on the road; so, I decided I needed a project. That makes perfect sense. Some good manual labor should be good for shoulder pain. Right? My project started with some major landscaping in Kim’s back yard. Kim's_back_yard-7799-Edit-1Once that looked good, I decided it was time to replace her garage door and as projects go, one thing led to another and by the end I had replaced the big garage door, the service door, and siding on the front of the garage. A coat of paint on the trim finished up that project. Time to relax.20151015_153001 NOT SO FAST, her furnace started acting up. After many attempts to discover the problem, I decided that it would be simpler to just replace it! Did I really think that one through? Had I forgotten how much fun sheet metal work was and also how painful? I call it my hand shredder. Death by 1000 cuts was one of my descriptive posts. This was all above the head work. Remember that shoulder pain. It didn’t go away. Between that, the sliced up hands, and the numerous times I cracked my head on the low ductwork, my body looks like a war zone. It is now starting the second week of December and I am just finishing up that project. In the midst of the work cycle this year, we discovered that the supposed inactivity was not really inactive. There was evidence of further cancer activity. This necessitated a change of attack. Pat is now on a new cancer treatment which requires two additional shots along with the one she already was taking. We have them planned the end of each month so we can plan on month-long vacations during the rest of the month. We are confident she will beat this thing. We will get more results the end of this month.

I would have concluded my yearly description of events with a trip to Florida but the furnace fiasco and late delivery forced us to cancel that. Now it is time to make plans for next year.

In the past, I have concluded my narrative with some type of social observation. I have discussed everything from boiling lobsters to shrinking toilet paper. I even touched on the political climate when Governor Rod wanted to move Lincoln’s Tomb to Chicago. Recent current events sometimes make it hard to find the humor as I see a divisiveness in our country not seen since the Civil War. What ever happened to “One nation, under God, indivisible . . . . “ If we are to survive as a nation, we need to find our common ground not our differences. We were the melting pot where people from all backgrounds came together; they let their differences commingle, melting together, to where the sum was better than the individual parts. Now, nobody wants to get in the pot and give up some of their own flavor to the benefit of the stew. We are in  the selfie generation. Our phones have special selfie cameras. We have selfie sticks and selfie stickers.  Everyone wants the world centered around themselves.

In the words of Lincoln: “At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Like a cancer, this fighting among ourselves serves only to weaken our resolve and in the end could easily destroy us as we lose our values and freedom in the name of a false security. “I have seen the enemy and it is us.”

May the joys of this Christmas season bring peace to the world. May the light of infinite wisdom burn brightly from within to allow us clear vision and understanding and unwavering resolve.

Love and Light,
Pat and Dulany

As you can see, we are quite active on FaceBook. “Friend” us to see more pictures. You can also find picture albums on my website for DSDigitals

All Life matters to God!

All Life Matters to God
All Life Matters to God

All over facebook, you will see posts and posters; Black lives matter, Police lives matter and even Native American lives matter. Is this to imply that others don’t matter? Where does the list end; or does it?  Just what determines  the value of life?  In some  populations, only the male life really matters.  Women are possessions to be used like slaves.  To the civilized world, this is repugnant.  Some religions only give value to those professing to their faith while non-believers   are simply vermin to be eradicated.  Black, White, Yellow, and Red alike, often find other races inferior to their own selective race and therefor the value of these others’  lives are less.  Basically, we find anything different than us, less worthy and  often expendable.

All the “Black Lives Matter” posters really go against my grain; not because I feel they don’t matter but because singling them out is to imply that other lives matter less. Yes, black lives matter just as much as any other lives but singling them all out is divisive.  If you ask a behavioral scientist, you might find that one way to control a large population is to get them fighting amongst themselves and then you can gently guide them like cattle to slaughter.  They are much less likely to see and resist those in control (the government of the rich)  if they are too busy fighting with the “others” be they black, white, yellow or red.

It has been a long time since we had slavery in this country. Or has it? Think about it. The lower and middle class are mere pawns on the chessboard of life being manipulated by those holding the purse strings.  We are mere chattel to be used by the rich.  Not only do we have to do their work for them, making them rich but by our taxes and their tax breaks, we are paying them to work us.  Slavery is not gone in this country, it is alive and well. We are all slaves to the rich; only we are slaves with benefits.  Move over black folks, we are all in this together. All our lives matter.  Think of the power we could have if we would stop fighting with each other and worked together to defeat the truly oppressive.

If you follow my posts  here and on FaceBook, you know that I believe in reincarnation.  I bring this up because many of us who are white now were non-white in another incarnation.  Inside, we are the same,  the soul has no race or religion. We are all spiritual beings acting out a specific life here on Earth to grow.  I can remember being a black slave in the South. I can remember being an American Native  in several incarnations.  Most of you reading this  have been.  Perhaps this is why I find racism so divergent from my beliefs.  All races have their own set of qualities and lessons.  We must learn to embrace our differences, learn from them and grow to fill our perfect God given mold.  Our color, our status in life and our religion do not determine our true spiritual stature. It is determined by what we have learned along the paths we have followed.  We all matter, we are all connected. Failure to realize this will sentence you to yet  another life of lessons.  Look around, the lessons are getting harder.  I for one would like to graduate some time soon. How about you?

Reincarnation II

If you are new to this blog, you might want to go to the right column (Recent Posts) to read  the previous Reincarnation post first before going on to this one.

At our first look at reincarnation, I talked about the trinity of man; the body, soul and spirit.  Sometimes we talk about the body, mind and spirit.  Others will talk about the conscious mind, subconscious mind and the super conscious mind. Although it is difficult to understand these differences, I see it a bit as a matter of definition. Just like we all have differing ideas of God, so do we have differing ideas of the mind.  I will share my idea of the trinity.

On the low end, we have the body. It is a reflection of what the mind thinks. We can easily understand the body because it is something physical; we can see it and study it.

Spirit is the opposite end of the “energy spectrum”  It is the God within, the little voice within, the God sense.  I see it as an energy of love.  I see this as the same as the energy of life.  Because we can’t see or measure it, a description is difficult but most people have their own idea of what it is so as long as we understand we are all describing the same thing according to our own understanding, there should be little misunderstanding.  It needs to be noted here that God has no specific religion; just like it has no gender.  You might dress this spirit, I am calling God, in many different religions (garments)  but God was before there were religions. There was always God and we all contain that energy whether we are Christian or Jewish, or Hindu,Buddhist, Muslim or even Atheist.

I think the confusion is the mind. To me, it seems to be the crossroads between spirit and body.  And I like to think of the body mind and spirit.  There is a physical mind that we use to think and which controls all our body functions.  You might think of it as the third dimension as it has measurable mass and physical qualities.  Then there is the subconscious. It also has some physical qualities but I think it is more. It’s storehouse of energy contains the soul memory.  Then there is the super conscious mind where we connect with the spirit.

Going back to the look at dimensions, we might say that God/spirit is one dimension.  In mathematics, the point is limited to one dimension.  But here that dimension is infinity.  That is difficult to understand and even harder to explain.  Perhaps some time, I will attempt to put that explanation together but for now , let’s just leave it as something to ponder.  I will describe the mind as having two dimensions. It has the energy of spirit taken over time which could be described at the soul or soul memory.  Then the obvious, the body having three dimensions with a physical presence.

I’m worn out trying to put those thoughts into words; so, I suspect some of you need a chance to give that all some thought.  So, I will stop for now but future posts will look at levels of existence and communication,  Karma, past lives and the evolution of souls and this accelerated time we live in.



I can’t tell you how many times I have started this post/article/book.  Each time, it just didn’t seem to go right. For me this type of serious writing requires a special inspiration like may others who write about the spiritual side of life.  All too often the  first writing is inspired and well received and then the author wants to continue the money flow and pushes out one or more uninspired books.  I refuse to do that. If I don’t feel the inspiration, I won’t waste my time and I certainly won’t waste yours. I close it down and it sits with those other unpublished works on my computer.  So, here we go again; let’s see if this is the right time for me to share my feelings and knowledge on the subject.

I think I have always understood reincarnation and in my early years, I just assumed everyone else did too.  As I grew and began to share my thoughts, I found that I was in the minority at least in this country.  I found some that considered it blasphemy and I learned to keep my mouth shut. When you are insecure like I was, scooting out on that proverbial limb was not in my best interest.  As I grew up. I was forced to deal with death and found my understanding made coping so much easier.  There are some of you reading this who will say, “See, it is just a coping mechanism, like religion in general, a crutch!”  If this is your learning level, I am not here to open your eyes. ” When the student is ready, the teacher will be there.”  is an ancient quote. Jesus said, “For those who have eyes to see, let them see, and for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

To understand reincarnation, you have to understand the concept of self.  The human entity is made up of a trilogy.  We are a spirit who has experienced life. The spirit experience is saved in the soul and the soul is housed in a physical body.  Let me use another analogy.  In the beginning there was God. God is the name I will use for some energy form.  Some might call it a supreme being or the all knowing, Great Spirit or Heavenly Father.  It is everything; it is nothing, the alpha and omega. This essence of  God separates off pieces of itself, which  could be called the God seed.  This spark of God manifests a soul to house all experience. It is like an energy repository that takes on a vibration or frequency. This soul manifests a physical body by  joining with an embryo before birth.  The soul picks a body/family that will provide the lessons it needs to grow.  All the experiences of life are saved in the soul and at the point of death of the body, the spirit and soul go back as an energy form. This form will spend some time in a “place” we understand as heaven.  After some time, This spirit/soul will reincarnate into another living body.  This process continues and the vibration/frequency of this soul increases each life depending on the lessons learned. Eventually, the soul resonance will match the spirit energy and will be reabsorbed in the God head. This re-absorption   makes God bigger than it was and hence, this is how God grows. You might say this is the evolution of God. All living things are either growing or dying.  We were created in God’s image so as we grow, so does the Creator.

To summarize,  my understanding of life goes like this. In the beginning there was God. Sparks of God each formed a soul to act as the intermediary between the spirit or God sparks, and the physical body.  Our purpose  is to raise the vibration of the soul to the level of the spirit through experiences of the body at which point the soul can become one with the creator and give growth to God. It is the cycle of life.

As I said above, this is my understanding.  It is difficult to wrap your mind around it because it is beyond what you can see and hear through the physical senses.  Take it into the silence and see if it resonates with you.  If it does not, just pass it off as the ramblings of an old man. If it does, come back and see what else I have shared on my site.

This site is about the ramblings of an aging Mystic.