A To Z Challenge – R

april-challenge

U R here.  U R lost, but U R here.  U R outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be – out standing in a field.  In case you hadn’t guessed, in this post, I’m gonna talk about Pirates – aRRRgh….no I’m not, just about the letter

letter-r

REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING

During my work career, there were several times when I was not employed. Because of my learning disabilities and restricted education, when I was employed, it often could not be charitably described as ‘gainfully.’

With careful financial planning and saving however, we have been able to see and do some interesting and enjoyable things. Did you know that you can spend an entire week at a Red Roof Inn, or Microtel mini-suite for the cost of one day at a posh hotel, if you don’t need to be fawned over?

We can’t afford to fly, and rent a car when we arrive. All trips have been by car, including three Le Mans trips to Florida with my brother.  2400 kilometers (1500 miles) in 24 hours.  I have swum in, and enjoyed the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean, and the beauty of the beaches, at Clearwater Florida, just after a storm, down at the tip, at Key West, on a warm, sunny day, Daytona Beach, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where I found some singing sand.

When the wife and I were stronger and more mobile, we walked much of historically preserved Old Charleston, and visited Fort Sumter, seeing frolicking dolphins and fishing pelicans. We have driven the Great Smoky Mountains, the Appalachians, and the Shenandoahs, where we took a hundred-mile trip along the Top Of The World on the Skyline Drive, seeing Stony Man Mountain.

We’ve gone down into the Skyline Caverns, and later, the Luray Caverns.  We stopped to tour the awesome Lewis Ginter Gardens.  We even trekked into the Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio, to find the only slightly lost John Erickson, and we did it all on a shoestring budget.

Of course we took photos, at first, the old, printed type. Later we used a digital camera, and ignored the pix on the computer.  Lately, as both the bodies and the wallet grow weaker, we have the memories of better days to keep us warm and happy, with our REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING.   😀

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Oh, Grow Up!

Rink

On an irregular basis, the local newspaper allows 500-word articles from members of the Youth Editorial Board. These are intelligent high school students.  I am often impressed with their knowledge of social problems, and their mature suggestions.

I was recently sadly disappointed by a female Catholic student’s rant, titled Complaint About Rink, Masks a Bigger Problem.  A family in this hilly little town had found a large enough flat spot to build a small rink in their front yard.  By-law Enforcement had become aware of it, and the City gave them two weeks to dismantle it.

I share her opinion that Canadian kids are overweight and out of shape, and need all the outdoor exercise they can get. The City has sufficient good reasons to specifically make this behavior illegal, and mentioned several of them in their media release.  To ensure compliance, a possible fine was stated.

Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, she went on to paint the family, not as lawbreakers, but as Phys-Ed heroes, and later, as downtrodden victims.

If she built a snowman on her lawn, would someone file a complaint about that too? If it were eight feet high and blocking sightlines at an intersection – Yes!

She felt that vanity(?) was triumphing over enjoyment.  All exercise and fun obtained in a back yard would be just as enjoyable – and less dangerous.

She felt it was unfair that they had to dismantle the illegal structure because just one person filed a complaint. It’s possible that the entire street narc-ed out these people, or that only one did, with the knowledge and support of many others. How dare the City threaten a fine?  It wouldn’t be imposed, if they just obeyed the directive.

The list of weasel-word excuses that she used to rationalize her denigration of the complainant was long and impressive. She listed: intimidation and oppression, lowering self-esteem, verbal and physical abuse, criticism can follow creativity, attack with negative words, victims, power and control, lonely perpetrator craving attention, jealousy, compensating for their own troubles, anger, unfair, bullying, and frustration.

The City’s main stated reason for not allowing this behavior centered around the 14 inch steel tent pegs used to anchor the frame boards. Things like this, driven into the ground, could damage telephone and cable lines, power cables, and water and sewer pipes.  These would not happen if the rink were situated in the back yard.

Not mentioned by the City, were things like wobbly figure skaters or body-checked little hockey players crashing into passing pedestrians and baby carriages, or even worse, onto driveways, as cars pull in or out. Hockey pucks or frozen rubber balls can break windows and dent cars and garage doors.  Kids chasing them into the street can easily be run over.

The midnight-shift worker who tries to sleep during the day would be none too pleased with a noisy crowd of kids beneath his front bedroom window. None of these things have anything to do with vanity or oppression, merely safety and good manners.

Just wait till she gets older, gets married and moves into her own little house in the suburbs, next to a neighbors-from-Hell family like the one she’s currently defending.  The people who casually violate City ordinances about front-yard rinks, do it so that their kids have fun, not so that neighbor kids get exercise.

These same people are the ones who own a dog which is tethered outside 24/7, to bark its head off, or a cat that they let run loose to shit in your carefully tended garden beneath your living room window. They think nothing of having an illegal campfire in their backyard, which fills your house with smoke, and forces you to close all your windows on otherwise lovely days.

They feel entitled to blast loud music from their stereo out through windows and French doors, all day and night, while they throw loud, drunken parties on their deck, or in the pool or hot-tub. Now who’s intimidating, oppressing or bullying?  Ah, the joys of living in the city, there’s one on every block.

When we moved in here, the 10-year old from across the street wanted to play one-on-one street hockey with his friend, using their driveway and ours as ‘goals.’ I told him clearly that I would not allow it.  I didn’t want our car, or the house, dinged and marked, or the work and expensive garden plants wasted and ruined.

We left to go shopping one day and came back to a hockey net blocking our driveway, and the two boys resting on the curb. He jumped up and moved the net – the first time. I repeated that it was ‘my’ driveway, and I didn’t want him playing here.

We had lunch and went back out. On returning the second time, there was the net, blocking our access again, and he was now too tired to get up and move the net.  My son got out of the car and threw it onto the boulevard.

Not five minutes later his mother came over to accuse the son of ‘putting a hole’ in it.  It’s a hockey net.  It’s all hole!  And I don’t care how much healthy exercise he’s getting, it doesn’t belong on my driveway.

I think our little ‘fitness and fun’ defender’s entire screed “masks a bigger problem.” She needs to grow up, and I think when she does, our rose-colored-glasses wearing, sheltered little Catholic, is in for some nasty surprises about urban reality.

Ginter Gardens

Hello there. Do you have lung cancer? Does anyone you know have lung cancer? Then you probably hate Lewis Ginter without ever having met him or knowing who he was.

On the other hand, if you love flowers and plants and gardens and landscaping, you might possibly forgive him.

Ginter 6

Hi there! This is Archon, your unpaid  😦  travel advisor again.  I know it’s already a bit late in the summer, but I have another place I recommend to go. Perhaps keep it in mind for next year. My wife, the gardening guru, and I, enjoyed a lovely day there a few years ago. I’m talking about the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, in north Richmond, Virginia.

Ginter 2

Born in 1824, of Dutch ancestry, originally from New York, Lewis Ginter moved to Richmond when he was 18. He made a considerable fortune, first through retail merchandising, then manufacturing, real estate development, and investments during the Civil War

After the war he got into tobacco and cigarettes. At one time he had a plant with 1000 young women rolling cigarettes. Other manufacturers started using mechanical rolling machines. Ginter designed and had built, even more efficient machines, making him more money, and producing more smokers.

Ginter 7

He was a philanthropist, donating money, often anonymously, to many charities. He created quite a development, outside of the north end of Richmond, for the privileged rich. He had a stream dammed to create a lake for paddling, and had trees and flowers planted. When bicycling became popular in the Gay 90s, he built a cycling club.

Ginter 3

The area around his property, Lakeside Estate was constantly beautified with the addition of flowers, trees and landscaping. When he died in 1897, he left it to a niece to continue his work. She renamed it Bloemendaal, Dutch for ‘Blooming Valley’, in honor of their heritage. She established a progressive farm, and built an orphanage for homeless Richmond children.

Ginter 1

Later she expanded the garden aspect and named it the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. It has six different garden types and areas, including a water garden, and a Japanese garden. It’s a beautiful place, and the sights and smells are enthralling.

Ginter 4

His (later, her) mansion is still standing. There is a magnificent Ginkgo tree, and an olive tree almost as big as an oak. Its huge branches are held together with steel cables to prevent it splitting. We were allowed a partial tour of the inside. I had a small, silent chuckle when the tour guide described the niece’s old age. In the year 2000, the word ‘slaves’ could still not be used, and even ‘servants’ apparently caused some consternation. She finally spluttered out, ‘the people who helped her’, all of whom I imagine were Negro.

Ginter 5

It’s quick and easy to get to, right off I-85. The entry fee is reasonable. Food and drink are available, or, you are allowed to bring your own and have a picnic. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful place to spend a day if you can get there. Click the link above to the Gardens’ website for hours of operation and maps, or access Wikipedia for Ginter Gardens – and post pictures after you get back.

Ginter 8  Stony Man’s younger brother

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