Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remember to Keep Sacred Truths Alive

by Dub Riley

Memorial Day was first proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30 of that year, 142 years ago--today. General Logan enacted the ceremony to put flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. In memory of the brutal fight between North and South, Memorial Day was declared.

Of course now, we have adopted the cry to honor those who have fallen in service to our country. Brave men and women who fight and die deserve to be remembered. There is no "but" nor "and" to the story. We do, however, owe it to future generations to stand in the way of governments, near or far, or here at home, so that brave young men and women are not led to war which can and should be avoided.

I flinch at poems and slogans that proclaim that we wouldn't have our freedom, were it not for our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afganistan. Does "support our troops" mean that we should show gratitude for soldiers who are fighting and dying for control of world resources? These young people are put in harms way without being told the truth. And I will be labeled a traitor and worse for reminding all people that the principles of our great nation are based on my right to seek the truth and to speak it.

Might I be objecting to the fact that soldiers are fighting and dying for reasons unrelated to our freedoms? Yes, my brothers and sisters, and I address you as such if you are human, from any country, in any costume, of any color, under any regime, whether you point a gun at me or consider me a friend.

Is it possible that we "support our troops" by arguing that they belong at home and we support their families by insisting that they be removed from harms way? Is such an argument unpatriotic?

Is it patriotic to argue this statement--

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

People of the world. Bury your dead and remember them kindly. But don't be led blindly by the pursuit of governments, meeting the call of corporations, to disguise their ambitions as noble, while their flagrant disregard for people and planet shows plainly by the catastrophes which surround us.

Listen to the wisdom of this Indian elder. Does he sound different than leaders who lead the fight on our left or right? Maybe we should return to common sense. Is it common sense that we drop bombs and rain down fire upon villages with women and children because men in uniform in some secret room have determined that it is right strategy? Is it common sense that we believe them over our own instincts to protect our young men and women? Is it common sense that by sending our young men and women to drop bombs on women and children that we protect our freedoms? Which freedom is being threatened by these women and children, or even by their men? What if their men are simply protesting that we have men in uniform conspiring against them?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend, 2010

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Priestess of Place

from Reya Mellicker

Is it my turn to post? Seems like it. Also it's true that I'm somewhat overloaded with words today, so please excuse me if I butted in. OK? OK.

I loved Jo's post about falling in love with Maine. I completely understand love affairs with landscapes. Of course I'm not the first person nor by any stretch of the imagination am I the last to form such passionate connections, oh no. Currently I am completely in love with the Potomac River, for instance.

In fact, nationalism, while pure in its essence, has created so many problems in the history of our species. We love the land, the river, the mountain. We fall passionately in love. We ARE the landscape. So we get attached. The next thing you know, others feel a similar passion and then? War. Dang man. Our sweetest traits bring on so much trouble. Sometimes.

During my 57 years on this planet I have lived in every time zone in the U.S. Born in Mountain Time, spent formative years (as they say) in Central, many more in Pacific and now in Eastern; Standard and Daylight, depending on the time of year. Of course there are beautiful, sacred places everywhere, but if I had to choose one over all the others, I would pick Lake Tahoe.

I only lived at 6,500 feet, on the border of California and Nevada, for a couple of years. Possibly my short tenure there explains why I never quite made myself at home with the culture or the people (though I still have dear friends who I connected with during those years). But the land? And the lake? Oh man. I loved Tahoe. The air was/is so blue, the sky blue but yet somehow gold at the same time. It smells like vanilla, like pine, like the sweetest fir tree oil you have ever smelled. Delicious.

I loved the beautiful white winters and in fact earned the name "Snowface" when I learned how to ski. I loved the mountains and the rocks, trees, the waterfalls and all the tiny little lakes up in Desolation Wilderness. I loved the sound of the wind blowing through the pines. Wow.

I still dream about the Sierra, about the lake. When I need to retreat to a space of peace and tranquility, I always imagine myself looking out across Emerald Bay (see below). Ahhhhhhh.......

Nevertheless, the first chance I had, I high-tailed it down to San Francisco, a place where the land never made sense but where I really loved the people and the culture. Ah the vagaries of human nature, or at least my own human nature.

Go figure.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Diamond Footprints

By Jo Floyd Lucas

This is a slender thread indeed to take from previous posts and continue weaving, but I am compelled to disclose the newest love in my life now. It is one of the best kept secrets in the is Maine.

If Ireland has earned the name of 'The Emerald Isle,' then surely Maine should be known as 'The Diamond State.' Actually, Thomas Jefferson gave that nickname to the little state of Delaware, but I'm convinced it's because he had not yet seen Maine from the air.

I've flown to Maine several times to visit my daughter, Andrea, who has lived there for almost a year now. I flew there in the heat of the summer last year and marveled at the lush pine forests of the New England states. I flew there in the winter and saw the pristine, snowcapped mountains of northern Maine. I flew there in March of this year during an honest-to-goodness nor'easter which lasted three days. I've come to love seeing Maine and her surrounding area in all its natural and most powerful glory. This time, however, I fell in love.

Flying to Maine this time was like meeting a friend and then realizing there is an added spark of attraction you never felt before. How could I have missed it? This is just so rare, so it love?

As we were in flight on the approach to the airport, we were treated to a majestic scene. At about 10,000 feet, you could immediately see the water bursting out of the earth. It was literally bubbling up from the ground in scores of spots, cascading in torrents of crystal shards which turned into diamond water falls everywhere you looked.

There were not just a few spots that shone like diamonds. They were EVERYWHERE. Carved into the forests of New England and up into Maine, it looked as if God herself had been walking here, leaving her glistening, gem-strewn tracks in the beautiful green landscape. It took my breath away.

The captain piloting the plane evidently had noticed it, too, and seemed to be giving us the grand tour of this incredible display, because he soon began to make gentle arcs in the air, giving us all the most luxurious views of the sparkling light show below.

The scientist in me wondered, "What is causing this phenomenon? What conditions must be required for this to happen? What clarity of light, what clarity of water, and what angle of refraction must be necessary to create this pathway of diamond footprints?"

The ecologist in me wondered how long this awe-inspiring landscape would survive. "What should I be doing to protect this natural beauty? Will my grandchildren be able to witness this extraordinary scenery?"

The believer in me praised God. In my most active and creative and expansive imagination, I could not come up with a sight so purely sacred as this. "Thanks be to the Divine."

The child in me is the one who spoke. She oohed and ahhhed like a five year old. I looked over at my row mate two seats away, an elderly woman who hadn't spoken a word to me for the entire trip. I smiled at her, and with a mix of wonder and glee, heard myself say, "Can you see this? Come here and look!" She craned her neck, and soon scooted over to the seat next to mine, where she stayed, smiling, until we landed. (I'm grateful that she apparently didn't think me the lunatic I felt myself to be.)

"Exquisite." That's the only word she spoke to me the entire trip. But that said it all.

As for me? I'm head over heels in love.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Here goes

by Rick Hempy

Reya has been pleading for other contributors to write about first loves, without much success, I might add. Seems we're all a little gun shy when it comes to the subject. I know I am, but I'm giving it a shot because a friend asked me to.

I'm stuggling now with just what the definition of "first love" is... the overwhelming desire, fueled by a dangerously high hormone level, variety? ...or a deeper, more innocent, and "truer" kind of love?

I've opted to go for the first one, as that is the type I am most familiar with, and because that first love did something that will always guarantee her a place in my heart. For purposes of this blog, she shall remain nameless. You know, that old “kiss and tell” thing... and then I'm afraid she might be lurking out there somewhere on face-space, and I can't afford a defamation suit.

I met her in high school, and I had it pretty bad. We dated a few times, and did romantic stuff, like smoking pot together. I was head over heels. I was pretty sure she was the love of my life, and was ready to commit to settling down, buying a house, and raising our 2.33 kids - except for the fact that I had no money... don’t forget, I was just a kid.

Suffice it to say, she probably didn’t feel that same level of commitment. I sensed that she did not share that same passionate desire when she would say things like “leave me alone”. I left for the service shortly after that. I can take a hint. So what was that thing she did?, (besides letting me spend the night with her, which was pretty cool too).

She made me cry.

I haven’t done a lot of that lately. I kinda miss it. I heard John Prine say once, “That stuff’ll make a songwriter out of you in a hurry”. I think he’s right.

Thank you beautiful lady... for making me cry, and for teaching me something about love, (and for letting me spend the night - which was pretty cool too).

I will leave you all with a thought from another songwriter. He’s nearly as good as I am, so he must have been wounded a time or two himself.

“You’ve got to sing
like you don’t need the money

You’ve got to love
like you’ll never get hurt

You’ve got to dance, dance, dance
like nobody’s watchin’

It’s got to come from the heart
if you want it to work”.

love to you all, (from the heart),

Friday, May 21, 2010

Comfort Zones

Click your heels together and repeat three times...'There's no place like home'. True story Dorothy.

Having just returned from a three week trip to visit daughter Stacie and her husband Hanspeter in Zurich, I'm happy to be back in my own space, returning to my own rhythm, my comfort zone.

Usually when Ken and I travel our pace is our own, which can be described as glacial. Most people wouldn't want to do museums with us because we have a tendency to actually look at and read about the exhibits. We took our sailboat L'Attitude from Florida to the Potomac River one year just so we could spend the entire summer in Washington, D.C. and explore the museums everday to our hearts content.

Zurich, on the other hand, seemed to us to have one speed...manic. Everyone there seems to be in a rush and it's because they have ALOT to do everyday. Being Swiss is not for pussies. They have made industriousness a way of life and they're very, very good at it. People born in Switzerland are lucky if they have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) I don't have an OCD bone in my body, so you can imagine how far out of my comfort zone I was. Stacie, on the other hand, fits right in and can actually out Swiss the Swiss. I have no idea how she wound up being so focused, organized and able to juggle all the things going on in her life and do it extremely well and still remain happy and sane. It would drive me crazy.

In Switzerland there are LOTS of rules and everyone follows them...amazing. For example; in most apartment buildings there are rules concerning when you'll do your laundry. You're assigned a day of the week and that's your laundry day. If your laundry day is on Monday, you'd better not miss it or you're out of luck until the following Monday. So, I'm thinking...well, what if I'm sick or a friend calls and invites me to meet her for lunch? "I'm sorry, but today is my laundry day and it's just NOT possible". Stacie lived the first three years she was in Switzerland with the assigned 'laundry day' and finally bought a washing machine for the apartment so she could do laundry when it was convenient and worked with her schedule. American sensibility won out. Women in Switzerland take their laundry very seriously and have whole rooms in their homes devoted to all things laundry, including some kickass ironing machines...the kind that have the water resevoirs and can put a crease in a shirt sleeve that is sharp enough to cut a chunk of Emmentaler. These ironing machines can cost somewhere in the neighborhood of what I paid for my first car 40 years ago. I didn't understand why ironing is even necessary. Whenever I need to get the wrinkles out of my clothes, I just turn on the dryer for a few minutes. Silly me. Stacie says that Swiss women don't dry their clothes; only things like sheets, towels and jeans are dried in the dryer. The rest are hung to dry and then they're ironed. I asked her why? She said they think that drying clothes in dryer wears them out...seriously. I said, "Well what about the fact that the washing machine has a cycle that is an hour and a half long? That can't be good for clothing longevity." She said, "It's a Swiss thing".

I could go on about other uniquely Swiss ways of doing things, but I'll save those for another time. Trust me; there are so many that I'll have to do them in installments.

Lest anyone get the wrong impression, I have to say that I truly admire the Swiss people and find them to be very impressive in their ability to run such an orderly society. I just have to wonder if they're having any fun. I noticed that they don't smile much. Whenever I make eye contact with someone, I smile. It's just my way of acknowledging their presense and showing respect. Whenever I would smile at a Swiss person, nine times out of ten they would give me a blank look. After awhile I decided to make it into a game of sorts and keep score. The Swiss won, but I kept on smiling...damnit! I decided it wasn't because they're not a friendly people, because they are. It was because it was outside their comfort zone. It's really interesting to me how people react to something as simple and non-threatening as a smile. I think it has something to do with the degree of openess and freedom one experiences in their daily lives.

All I know for sure is that everytime I travel somewhere in the world I feel so grateful to have been born and raised as an American. We as a people have a unique way of living and looking at life. We may not be perfect, but I think that we try and have a goodness of heart that is open and giving.

Keep on smiling y'all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Aww isn't he sweet? This is Miles's senior high school picture.

It's true that I loved Steve Bryson, my junior/senior year high school boyfriend, very much. I cannot resist early Capricorns (those born between Winter Solstice and January 6 or 7th). Steve was a doll. He brought my mother roses on her birthday, he made all of us laugh, he could cook and was clever and sweet - and he was so sexy, he was.

Also true is that I loved David Ingersoll, my boyfriend during tenth grade. He was very handsome, noble, decent - and - he played bass in a funk band, the Soulphonics. I mean really, what's not to love about that? C'mon.

But the only time I was ever moonstruck was somewhat later on. Miles was my little brother's best friend. For a long time, maybe more than a year, my brother kept saying, "You have to meet Miles. You have to." I brushed him off, of course. My brother was seven years younger than I. For heaven's sake.

The day I met Miles, it was not on purpose. My sister was driving my brother to Miles's house. I happened to be in the car. I'll never forget it. When we turned the corner onto his street, Something Happened. My attention was riveted on the funny looking, long haired young kid waiting on the sidewalk. When we pulled up to the house, Miles and I stared into each other's eyes, he from the sidewalk, me from the back seat of the car. We could not stop gazing at each other. It was truly astonishing.

Something happened.

The next day I went over to his house and from that moment onwards for another three years we were lovers, partners, and true loves. He was 16 when I met him and I was 23 - that's a huge difference in age at that moment in life. But it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. We were moonstruck. Come to think of it, he, too, is a bass player. So maybe I just have a thing for bass players. You think?

Needless to say it all fell apart. When I think about it, it's kind of amazing that it lasted as long as it did.

I googled him a few years ago, just to see. He was a lawyer for awhile; lived in NYC and oddly lived in San Francisco at the same time I lived there, though we never saw each other. Then he went to med school. Now he practices medicine in Santa Rosa, California. He is married and has some kids.

The conclusions of love stories are never quite as interesting as their beginnings, are they? I could write about the end of our relationship, but ... oh well. The important thing to say here is that I still hold Miles in the most tender way in my heart. I will always love him. It was true love, just like the movies, just like the poems and songs. It really was the most romantic love of my life.

Who was your first true love? Are you willing to tell the story?? Please?

This is a pic of Dr. Miles Mitchell I found on the internet. Still my beloved, separated only by time/space. Oh yeah.

When we emerged

This is a short bit of video compiled from 8mm film my dad shot the day after the tornado. This is what we woke to that following morning. The video speaks for it's self.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Memoriam

For the victims of Ruskin Heights' "Twighlight Twister," May 20, 1957, and their families.

Music: "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber

Poem: "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann


Catherine Armon

Lowell Atkinson .......................... age 50

Barbara Davis .............................age 29

Cornelia Davis .............................age 24

Isam Davis ...................................age 34

Katherine Sue Davis ....................age 7

Pamela Davis ................................age 6

Tamara Davis ................................age 5

Gladys Erwin ........................... ....age 54

Alta Guyll .......................................age 44

Edward S. Henton .........................age 55

Oral Glenn Hower

John Hower ...................................age 10

Charles Johnston .........................age 25-30

George Kildow .............................age 45

Dorothy Lavonne Leopold ...........age 31

Harold Keith Leopold, Jr. .............age 11

Randall McGill ................................age 3½

Diane Boyd Rossi ...........................age 7

Garold Rucker ................................age 35

Lena Rucker ...................................age 35

Bessie Knorpp Smith ....................age 49

Margaret Erlene Smith ..................age 24

Linda Sue Stewart .......................age 6 mos.

Carolyn Kay Taylor ..........................age 3

Goldie Taylor .................................age 39

Hester Timm ..................................age 39

Joseph Vinchier .............................age 75

Marjorie Wackernagle

Denise Woodling ................................age 3

Robert W. Yost, Jr. ............................age 9

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My First Memory...for Denise

by Jo Floyd Lucas

This post has suddenly become much more difficult to write than I had anticipated. When we Smiling Heart bloggers agreed to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the 'Ruskin Tornado' which many of us were in, I thought about how I might approach the story. Surely, given my Pollyanna tendencies, it would be a story of survival and hope, of people working together to rebuild. I'd focus on the positive things that came out of the tragedy.

Then, I read Rick's post and Dubby's post.

It all came flooding back like a tidal wave, the experiences of that life-altering event, washing over me in waves of emotion, and I knew that it would be a disservice to gloss over what happened that night. I owe it to Denise to tell my story.

What is your first memory in life? How old were you? Through the years, I've asked many people that question, and the answers are pretty universal. Most people can remember back to age 5 or 6, and a few have earlier memories. For many, it was a special Christmas morning. For others, a birthday party with pony rides, or a vacation to a beautiful place. Not me. Not for many of us who grew up in Ruskin Heights.

My first memory came at the age of 3 years and 8 months on the evening of May 20, 1957 when one of the strongest storms known to mankind decimated my neighborhood, killing 44 people young and old without mercy, and injuring 531.

It was a warm Monday evening, and my mother, who had given birth to my younger brother just 6 weeks earlier, had been invited by some ladies in the neighborhood to escape with them to a drive-in show for a rare treat away from her brood...Court (age 9), Mike (age 5), Joyce & I (age 3), and the baby, Jeff. My father assured her that he could take care of all five of us for the evening, and encouraged her to go. No one could possibly have known how hard it would be for him to keep that promise to her. He was about to save 5 children in a house with no basement from a massive F-5 tornado.

A three year-old has a limited vocabulary (at least I did). I heard words that evening that I didn't understand, and yet the fear and anxiety were palpable. "Tornado." What was that? "Tornado! Get in the car!" Chaos. Yelling. People rushing. My father and Court, carrying the baby, the diaper bag, a bottle of milk, chasing us to the car.

I vividly recall standing in the back seat with Joyce and Mike, looking out the car's back window in awe. The sky was dark, and what I thought was an enormous, ugly black cloud was chasing us. No words. What is it? What's happening? Suddenly, we were at our church, the Ruskin Heights Presybterian Church. Running. Running wildly. Why did we come to church? Many others were running, too. Wind. Rain. What's happening? Where is everyone going? We're at the door to the church now. Doors are being held closed by an unseen force.

"The doors won't open!" Was that Daddy yelling? Suddenly, the doors burst open, and I'm pulled inside by a man. My father pushes us into the church basement and yells for Court to get us under a table by the wall. He turns to help the man pulling others into the church. The door slams. Then, it hits.

I've heard people say it sounded like a freight train. Not from the perspective of a 3 year old. To me, it was an explosion from a bomb. The biggest explosion I've ever heard, and probably ever will hear. "A bomb!" I thought. "Why didn't they say a bomb?" Windows shattering. Glass flying. Children screaming. Thunderous roar. Stillness.

And then, a cartoonish memory of a man standing up and yelling, "Stay down! Another one's coming!" More chaos. more screaming. Terror. Another bomb? What's happening? Where's Mommy? People rising up now, to find each other. I look to my left. My brothers and sister are there. Mike's foot is bleeding. Daddy is here. I look to my right. A group of boy scouts in uniform are standing, dazed, crying. "Oh," I think to myself, "If these big brave Boy Scouts are crying, this must be something awful."

My next memory is standing outside the church, and sitting on top the shoulders of my father's best friend, 'Pinky" Rowe. How did he get there? Joyce was atop Court's shoulders (a 9 yr old!), and my father was carrying Mike and the baby. Where are the streets? The streets are GONE. Why is that car upside down? Why is there a mattress and a rocking chair in the church yard? Where is our house?

My mother and her friends returned from the show to find the neighborhood had been blockaded by the police. Absolutely NO ONE was allowed in, with one exception. Anyone driving a station wagon (which they were in) was let in to serve as ambulance for the injured. They were allowed to enter the devastation, and made their way home, albeit very slowly. At our house, the back half of our home was gone, split down the center lengthwise with knife-like precision by the tornado. In the boys' bedroom, where the bunk beds were, a huge beam from another house had been launched into the room and landing on the top bunk, crushing both beds beneath it. Had my brothers been in their beds when the tornado hit, they surely would have died. Our family was lucky.

Dubby's post tells the incredible story of John Nielsen's father, who was the man at the door of Ruskin Heights Presbyterian Church that night. Reading Dubby's account, I was amazed to have my recollection of this man's presence confirmed, and to learn that the hero who pulled me into the safety of my church had a name. I was overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed.

Who can say why things happen as they do? The Floyd family...our father and all five of his offspring...made it through the storm nearly untouched. We were the last family to get to the church door before the tornado ripped through it.

The Woodling family was right behind us. Given another 30 seconds, they would have been safe, too. That precious little girl who was pulled from Mr. Nielsen's arms by the angry storm was exactly my age. Three years old. Her name was Denise Woodling.

Denise's older sister (I believe her name is Diane) was paralyzed as a result of her injuries.

I have thought of Denise often while growing up. Her family attended the Presbyterian church with our family. Would we have become friends as we grew up? Would she have gone through Communicant's Class with me? Maybe we'd be on the Student Council together in high school. I thought of her family the day I graduated from Ruskin High. Did they know she would have graduated that day?

Tomorrow I will tell the story of the bravery and cooperation, generosity and recovery. Many wonderful things happened when the sun came out on May 21, 1957. Today, though, my story is one of the horror of the tornado and the destruction it left behind in its wake. It destroyed property, homes, and businesses. Most of all, it destroyed 44 families, and altered another 531 forever.

And even if our fortunate families remained intact and uninjured, thousands of people had that day etched into their memory banks forever. For some of us, it was our very first memory.

A view from the pants leg

This is taken from a comprehensive description and chronolgy of the Ruskin Heights Tornado at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office for Kansas City/Pleasant Hill at

For maps and charts and much more information, refer to the site.

by Dubby Riley

May 20, 1957 - 7:37 pm LST

"Airline pilot reports funnel cloud 2 miles west of Grandview Airport."

The tornado crosses the Missouri-Kansas state line striking the Martin City area. Twenty-three boys housed at the Ozanam's Boy's home were spared by seeking refuge in the basement. Forty or more celebrants attending a birthday party at a Methodist Church located 135th and Holmes, the current location of the Martin City Melodrama and Vaudeville Company, also were spared by seeking shelter. Virtually every home and building in Martin City was damaged or destroyed, including the popular Jess and Jim's Steakhouse though the owner's parakeet remained unharmed. Unfortunately, by the time the tornado moved northeast of Martin City, 2 more people were dead and 35 were injured.

May 20, 1957 - 7:44 pm LST

"The most severe thunderstorm activity is now to the south and southeast of Greater Kansas City. A funnel has been observed about 2 miles north of Olathe Naval Air Station.

Reports indicate that the funnel observed 2 miles west of the Grandview Air Force Base was also observed from the ground at the Base. There are severe thunderstorms through the area and precautions should be taken by everyone.

Please report radio listeners not to call the Weather Bureau except to report wind storm damage or the sighting of a funnel cloud.

Half-inch hail and heavy rain at 71st and Woodland.

"Weather Warning issued by Weather Bureau Forecast Center, Kansas City, Missouri:"

May 20, 1957 - 7:45 pm LST

"Braniff pilot reports tornado on the ground north of Grandview moving northeast - appears to be headed toward East edge of city."

May 20, 1957 - 7:50 pm LST

"Tornado observed at Holmes Park. Funnel was reaching the ground. This was at 95th and Highway 71."

There were many square blocks of devastation in Hickman Mills and the Ruskin Heights area, in some places the ground was swept clean, while huge trees were toppled or snapped off. The Hickman Mills Bank at 107th and U.S. Highway 71 lost its south wall to the tornado and had to be protected by the National Guard. The Hickman Mills Furniture Company was demolished and the cars on both sides of U.S. Highway 71 were tossed about like toys.

The storm moved into Ruskin Heights, ripping through the shopping center at 111th and Blue Ridge Boulevard, heavily damaging Ruskin Heights High School and cutting through a thickly populated portion of Ruskin Heights. Because of warnings on radio and television, many Ruskin Heights residents were able to take refuge in their basements or with neighbors who had basements. At least fifty people took refuge in one basement, literally lying on top of each other, at East 110th street. The roof was blown off the home, yet no one was injured. Those that did not seek shelter with neighbors gathered family and friends in automobiles and drove out of the storm's path. Sadly, many people did not escape the tornado's fury and 37 lives were lost in the communities of Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills.

May 20, 1957 - 7:53 pm LST

Tornado lifted, about two miles north of Knobtown, MIssouri. In it's wake, 44 people lost their life and 531 people were injured.

I was four years old. What do you remember from when you were four? I remember that night and I remember my father's pant leg. I remember basement steps and men pointing. I remember women caring for children and ushering organization. I remember telling people for all the years since then that I remember that night and those few details. And I remember my Dad asking, "Do you see it son?"

I don't remember my brothers or my sister and where they were. Were my brothers with the men like I was? Don't know. Was my sister helping my mom with other kids in our neighbor's basement? Blank. Do I remember going down the stairs or anything before my father's pant leg or the question or seeing the funnel cloud? No, not a thing. Not the-day-before or the-day-of or the-day-after. Zip...except these few things.

So here it is. The men were gathered at the top of the basement steps, just outside. It seems you went to the basement from an outside door. And the men were looking at the sky. We lived north and west, if my bearings are right of the damage. On 100th Terrace, where we lived, when we saw the dark cloud (which I remember as much thinner looking than pictures I can find now), it seemed very far off. I know now that the reason I remember my father's pant leg is because I didn't come to much higher than his thigh. My view was of the world from his side. It chokes me now to think about that.

The next time the tornado came back alive to me was the day we moved from Ruskin Heights to Stratford Estates in the summer after 5th grade. There was a boy riding a bike, named Steve and he said something to me about the neighborhood and he lived "right there." Steve was Steve Johnston and with brother Craig, they would become cherished friends as next door neighbors. Really there was a creek between our houses and I see and visit that creek often in my dreams to this day. But the reason the tornado came back alive to me that day is that I learned that Steve and Craig lost their father by that black thin cloud of my memory. It seems they were in a car and running from it. Their car was swept up like a sea shell in a wave and all three landed hundreds of feet apart to the stable hard Earth. Their father passed away on May 20, 1957 and Steve and Craig nearly died too. Craig's ear was all but ripped off and as I recall he had a really cool scar that he liked to show off. He always told everyone he was too young to remember. He was only two when he rode the swirling monster. Steve remembered more, though I kind of recall he didn't like to talk about it. I dare say, his dreams are more than just of our creek.

Later, when my sister was falling in love with a Marine who had returned from Vietnam named John Nielsen, the tornado came alive again. John told the story of his father who stood at the door of the Presbyterian church pulling people in to safety on May 20, 1957. The awful part of the story was about a little girl who was the last to rush in to his hands. The tornado had a grasp better than his and he watched her vanish in to the sky from the tips of his fingers. I suspect that John's father dreamed of dark skies and little girls for his whole life after that.

We all remember yearbook photos and books and articles with lots of pictures. But the tornado came alive to me again at a reunion about five years ago. Stories were being exchanged about what people remembered and I'm pretty sure it was Alice Gowler who told about returning to the rubble of a flattened house. It struck me right then what power there is in the connections we have to place and people.

I don't know for how many years that my eyes were fixated on the TV when the Wizard of Oz would return to the box. I don't think there was ever a connection made as a child to our real devil of a tornado and the one Hollywood made with a stocking and a fan but I know that it is all stirred together in me. Real horror and fantasy. A connectioin to danger and destruction and imagination and story telling.

I can't take credit for where I've lived or even for what I've done, beyond the decisions I've made when being where I am. But for knowing of the Ruskin Tornado, my life seems like it would lack a certain luster.

I'm sorry for Steve and Craig and for John's dad and for the little girl and for Alice's family and all the lives which were turned upside down, literally by a force so unimaginable that it is actually rare in the history of violent storms. But we huddle now to tell stories--and stories are our connection to each other. I'm so appreciative for that.

My recollection of May 20, 1957

by Rick Hempy

It was sometime after dinner, and we kids had been out playing in the front yard. Our house on Oakland faced west. The sun was going down, but it's light was still clearly visible on Western horizon, between the rooftops and and a growing line of green clouds.

My dad had come out to the front yard to survey the sky; something he alway did when things didn't look just right. I think my sister had gone inside, but I stayed with my dad, and we were joined shortly by our neighbor to the North, George Teeter. I believe they were making some small talk about the odd color of the sky when one or the other of them first spotted the funnel approaching. I stood next to them looking for whatever it was the grownups were seeing in the sky. I remember clearly, George saying to my father, "Roy, I believe that's a tornado". We watched as the thing grew ever more distinct... a black tube extending from the green clouds and disappearing behind the rootops of the houses across the street. My dad was confirming George's suspicions about the time, (I believe ), the tornado reached Ruskin Shopping Center. All I know for sure is, we saw debris fill the sky. My mother was screaming from the door for us to get inside, and George made a beeline for home.

Once inside we were ordered into the bathtub. Five of us huddled there as the freight train roared by. It was instantly black in our little bathroom, and I don't really remember being scared. Things were happening fast, and I was just following orders at that point. My memory of how much time passed is pretty foggy at this point, but I know that is was not too awfully long before my dad was reassuring us that it was over, and we knew we had been spared.

My mom was not convinced, and was afraid the thing might return. We did not have a basement, like so many others, but my aunt and uncle did. They lived on 108th, just a block from the high school. My mom determined that our best bet was to head for the Tanner's basement. I believe my dad tried to convince her that we should stay put, but apparently she wasn't having any of that, and won out, because the next thing I recall is piling in the old Ford and heading off toward what we thought was safe haven in my aunt and uncle's basement. The route took us directly the through the path of destruction. It seemed like it took forever to make the few blocks between us. It was less than a mile, but we stopped continually, as my dad got out and tried to clear a path for us to pick our way through. It was very dark by then, and it was impossible to tell where the road was for the most part. I think we just went where ever we were able.

The houses at the school end of 108th had been leveled, but, like us, the Tanners had been spared, and we were ushered into the basement, which was crowded with people... others seeking shelter in one of the few basements in the area. I recall being issued an army blanket, and we were told to cover our heads to protect us from flying glass if there was another blow. My dad and my Uncle Bud left to go see if they could help at the shopping center. We stayed there under that army blanket for, what, I can only remember as, a very long time. In retrospect, I'm sure the impact of what had just happened had not registered me, but I will continue my tale of the tornado when I post the video of some of what we encountered when the sun rose on the 21st of May.

Monday, May 17, 2010


by Reya Mellicker

My family moved to Kansas City during August, 1958. As soon as the dust settled from that move, the neighbors began telling stories about the Ruskin tornado. In Denver, where I was born and spent my first five years, there was no such thing as tornado warnings or tornado sirens or terrible tales of tornadic destruction. I had seen The Wizard of Oz but that was my only reference point.

We heard about the Ruskin sign (after the storm, the sign said "ruin") and other creepy stories that may have been true (the sign story is true, I've seen the picture) or may have been myth. It wasn't just a storm, no. The Ruskin tornado was a being, an evil demon with a personality and everything ... or so it seemed to me at the time.

I was scared to death. A kindergarten aged wicked witch, I kept a wary eye on the sky at all times. In fact, I had tornado nightmares for decades after hearing all the stories.

These days I am a weather geek. I've read all about the meteorology of the F5 Ruskin tornado. It was a doozy! I'm so looking forward to stories, videos and first-hand accounts from the other contributors here.

The Ruskin tornado was the boogy-man of my childhood. I am ready to enter the labyrinth and face it head on.

Bring it.

In his words

I promised I would review the David Korten interview video, and attempt to post parts of it. I was unsuccessful posting my own video directly to "Smiling Heart", but I'll give it another shot with David. I believe the man has "connections", and perhaps things will work more smoothly where he is concerned.

In this first segment, as the interview begins David speaks about what brought him to the realization that corporations were inherantly destructive entities, and what he decided to try to do about it. I will post more if you are interested.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Peace Movement

'Oh, Had I A Golden Thread' by Pete Seeger

Sung by Eva Cassidy

By Jo Floyd Lucas

Eva Cassidy may not be a familiar name to most, but she was gifted with the rarest combination of vision, beauty and talent. She released her first album in 1992, and in 1996, she died at the age of 33 from melanoma. She had four brief years of brilliance in the music industry with her beautiful interpretations of jazz, folk, blues, gospel, country, and standards. Incredibly, most of her music displays a prescience of her destiny and tender acceptance of her place in the world and her mission on earth.

Her mission on earth. Your mission on earth. My mission. Our mission.

I've been sensing this mission of mine for a long time now. I have a dear friend, Karen, who, from time to time, has offered to provide readings for me. She is what's called a 'sentient intuitive' reader, and has offered much in the way of good solid advice to me for the two decades since she began her own journey.

She would begin each reading with the same question, "What are you working on at this point in your life?" As a young wife and mother, and then as my children grew older, my answers to this question varied. For the last few years, though, as I've attempted to grasp what it is I really want, my answer to this question has invariably been, "I'm seeking peace."

I know I'm not alone in this quest. Many of us, especially in my age group, are experiencing the same yearning. We want to see an end to divisiveness. We want our children and grandchildren to experience life with challenges and rewards, not social strife and want. We want to work together building solutions we know are within reach to the problems we face, not continue to sling mud wantonly at each other. We are seeking peace.

We are the architects of the first major peace movement. Standing in the '70's upon the shoulders of our most beloved forefathers and mothers...people who, just years into its fragile infancy, spoke idealistically and hopefully about our country and its potential...we took on the challenges of injustices in America and worked to change them.

We now must provide our own shoulders for the next generation to stand upon. We each must answer the question, "What are you working on at this point in your life?"

I'm not asking much. You may have the resources to do great things for humanity. If that's the case, go for it! More likely, though, your financial resources are strained right now. Luckily, that's just one small category in your spreadsheet of resources. Can you visit a senior living center or day care facility and share a talent...sing, play an instrument, or read a book? Can you volunteer some time for a local food pantry or women's shelter? Can you become a beacon of light in just one child's life? That may mean something as simple as offering your smile to the lonely little girl who stands shyly in the yard as you pass by her on your walk each day. Just as you set the intention to seek peace in your life, you have already contributed to that quest for peace.

Dubby's previous post has suggested great and small ways to participate in what many are calling the Great Turning. Turning away from hostility and conflict. Turning toward a daily walk of peace. The alternative is too difficult to bear. We can, and we must do this. Before it's too late.

For me, I intend to search for that golden thread and needle so fine. I'd love to have some fun and fellowship along the way. I'd love for you to help me. Future generations are counting on us.

Oh, Had I A Golden Thread

Oh, ooh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I, I would weave a magic spell
Of the rainbow design

In it, I would weave the courage
Of women giving birth
And in it I would weave the innocence
Of the children of all the earth
Children of all the earth

Won’t you show my
My brothers and sisters
My rainbow design?

‘Cause I, I would bind up the sorrowful
With hand and heart, and mine
Oh, hand and heart, and mine

Oh, ooh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I, I would weave a magic spell
Of a rainbow design
Of a rainbow design.

Friday, May 14, 2010


by Dubby Riley (Article by David Korten)

The following article was written almost one year ago. In the article, the author, David Korten, mentions the 10th anniversary of the protest against the WTO in Seattle.

There is a video of David Korten in the building in Seattle where he is watching the protest unfold, live--which is used in the film THE CORPORATION. It was in the film THE CORPORATION which introduced me to David Korten. I pursued him relentlessly by reading everything of his I could find. Then it hit me like a massive seizure when reading WHEN CORPORATIONS RULE THE WORLD, his first in a series about how we've gotten in to this mess with corporations. I went on to Life After Capitalism, his next book, but it didn't matter any more after the first one. I realized he knew and he explained it so well, all we had to do was connect the dots. We simply couldn't let corporations operate the way we've allowed them to. The third in the series is The Great Turning which was about to be published just before I left for The Green Festival in Chicago about five or six years ago. I went and heard him speak and to meet him. A few years later the historic US Social Forum was announced to be coming to Atlanta and David Korten would conduct a very special mini-conference as part of that.

I called Rick and persuaded him to go on another road trip (our fourth or fifth since we were 17). I still hadn't been able to confirm that David and his wife would do on camera interviews with Rick and I but told Rick before we left, we'd have that done. Rick had just bought his first semi-professional video equipment. Armed with that and a little hutzpa, we headed out to Atlanta in July 2007, two years before the following article was written.

We have raw footage, though Rick and I haven't begun on the edit. This newest chapter that has been unfolding in Smiling Heart (to include Nancy's post as a comment to my last entry) has me convinced that Rick and I have important work to do with the video.

I pray you'll read Korten and then I ask you the personal favor to contact me to discuss our role in saving the planet.

SEATTLE+10: Time to Declare Our Independence From Wall Street
David Korten | Posted July 16 2009

"At this stage of history, one of two things is possible: Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny to control.
—Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent

November 30, 2009 will mark the tenth anniversary of the historic Seattle protest against the World Trade Organization that stalled the use of multilateral trade agreements to consolidate global corporate power. This anniversary presents an extraordinary opportunity for We the People of the United States to assert our democratic right to reclaim the political power that corporations have usurped.

We face economic, social, and environmental crises that pose potentially terminal threats to the United States and to the human future. We now have perhaps the most able and visionary president in U.S. history and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate with a strong electoral mandate for serious visionary leadership to address these crises. Yet on issues from climate change, peace, trade, and economic justice to health care and financial restructuring, government action is limited to cosmetic reforms that fall hopelessly short of what we need.

As Arianna Huffington observed, lobbyists working for the interests Wall Street CEOs, financiers and money managers who care only for personal financial gain have stripped away the most substantive provisions of every serious legislative reform initiative that has come out of the Obama administration often even before the beginning of committee hearings. Very little gets through the legislative process without their approval. The time has come for We the People to evoke the spirit of Seattle ’99 and assert our democratic sovereignty or accept responsibility for the consequences of our failure.

In the late 1990s, We the People awoke to the threat to popular democratic sovereignty and the common good posed by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Transnational corporations were using multilateral trade agreements to consolidate their global power by rewriting the rules of commerce in secret negotiations that circumvented established democratic processes. The WTO had become their favored vehicle.

In 1999, the WTO announced it would hold a meeting of trade ministers in Seattle. Labor unions, churches, environmental organizations, artists, socially responsible business leaders and others gathered in Seattle at the time of the meeting to declare their independence from the WTO. Through disciplined nonviolent direct action, they disrupted the secret negotiations in the face of a violent police riot. The citizen victory in Seattle emboldened others the world over to stand up to corporate power and global civil society was born as a potent political force.

Now, the WTO has announced it will hold its Seventh Ministerial Conference in Geneva beginning on November 30, 2009, ten years to the day from the citizen lock down in Seattle that stalled the WTO juggernaut. Shortly after the WTO Geneva meeting, world leaders will be meeting in Copenhagen from December 7-18, 2009 to negotiate measures to mitigate the consequences of climate change. We can assume corporate interests will be well represented in both meetings by those who care more for securing corporate profits than for resolving the crises that threaten the human future.

It is a moment to reclaim the Spirit of Seattle '99 by creating a countervailing people’s voice for the common good so strong that it cannot be ignored. Citizen groups across the United States and around the world are mobilizing for a host of actions in late November and early December to raise public awareness and hold political decision makers accountable to the common good. These groups will be addressing a variety of issues relating to human rights, environmental sustainability, and peace.

A common thread will bind them together. In most every instance Wall Street financial institutions and their global counterparts present the primary barrier to making the rule changes essential to corrective action.

In response to pressure from corporate interests, responsibility for strengthening financial regulation is being handed to the Federal Reserve, which is for all practical purposes run by the Wall Street banks it presumes to regulate. The Fed operates in secret beyond public accountability and served as a cheerleader for the excesses that brought down the global financial system. The single payer option on health care has been taken off the table. The cap and trade feature of the clean energy bill gives away eighty-five percent of carbon credits to polluters under terms that already have financial speculators salivating in anticipation of the potential for creating a new financial bubble and new derivatives scams.

So long as We the People submit to Wall Street rule, meaningful reduction of green house gases, a peace economy, economic and environmental justice, affordable health care for all, restoration of the middle class, restrictions on financial speculation, a prohibition on usury and debt slavery, food security, full-employment in family wage Green jobs, restructuring social security for long-term viability, and much else will remain ever out of reach. Economic instability, extreme inequality, financial fraud, social disintegration, and environmental collapse will define our national and global way of life.

Seattle+10 is an opportune moment for people everywhere to speak with a unified voice to declare their independence from Wall Street rule and their shared commitment to move forward a 21st century agenda of justice, peace, and environmental sustainability for all. Follow November-December 2009 days of action developments on the Seattle+10 Group page on Wiser Earth. Sign up and join in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Come on to my Cloud

by Dubby Riley

I'm using on-line software to compose this message because this computer doesn't have Microsoft Word. Search engines, public email programs, this blog and most social media operate by this kind of "cloud" computing.

Jo's analogy of two small children experiencing joy and her own blossoming relationships of old reminded me of my pleasure to reconnect with friends. We can all relate after watching kids have that bubbling elation. And to experience that childlike happiness by becoming reacquainted with long lost buddies sends me in the clouds, to a certain extent. A different sort of cloud perhaps...but there may be an actual connection.

The Ruskin class of 1971 will have its 40th anniversary reunion next year. Younger people may not have quite the wonderment we do about this technology and communication and access. Isn't it amazing? We search and compose in imaginary "windows" and within minutes, without leaving our keyboard, we find hundreds of references, dozens of related videos, connections to the arts and even tools to help us spell the words correctly.

We join this technology of communication with a phenomenon that is in its infancy--people directories. We generalize and call it Facebook but there are literally hundreds of them. They've been around longer but this explosion of use is just over a year old. People our age are in the fastest growing demographic. Why do you suppose that is? I want to suggest there is a reason.

Do 40 year olds jump up and down because of this convergence of media and connectivity? Don't know. I suppose some do. Do 60 year olds? Probably a few. But I've talked to enough of my old friends and I have a teenager in my house, so I can witness the cross section of attitudes about it. We older but wiser crowd don't take it for granted. Instead we're quite taken by it. And we're big users! The younger set can't imagine what we're raving about. Between texting on the phone and doing Facebook every night, it is just routine.

We went to Paul's Drive-In, they spend hours looking at each other's videos and photos. We spent the summer at Holiday Swim Club and they're being looked at by orthopedists for carpal-tunnel problems.

Although I'm glad for it, the best part isn't the technology but the opportunity to renew such wonderful friendships. I'm thrilled by friends I've made since high school but there is a particular magic to revitalizing childhood comraderie. We easily accept the value of blood relationships. What about dirt connections? Having spent formative years with fellow humans within a certain geology...could it be that we're tapping in to a true physical phenomenon, which wouldn't have happened except for this convergence of media? Are we like salmon, returning to a figurative "breeding ground," so we can frame a new direction for a world which craves peace?

Dr. Henry Jenkins of MIT has a theory called Media Convergence

"We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life -- including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other."

I suggest this bounce in our step, which Jo delighted us by the story of, may save us from what many scientist predict to be certain disaster. Human culture seems to be causing tremendous pressure on a fragile planet. And we're not alone in this discovery of long lost friendships. So let us jump and laugh and celebrate and invite others to join us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sometimes you just have to BOUNCE!

By Jo Floyd Lucas
Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to my granddaughter's preschool for a Mother's Day party. Well, actually, I attended in place of my daughter-in-law, Cathy, who had to work that day, but CiCi seemed happy that I was going to be there.

I've met her teachers (three per class) before, on Grandparents' Day, and know all about the mutual admiration society between them all. CiCi is known for her sweetness, her participation, and enthusiasm, and her teachers are known for their beauty, their fun, and their amazing ability to always act surprised when CiCi taps one on the shoulder, points to some distant spot, and exclaims, "Look! A skunk!" Preschool humor...good stuff.

Well, imgine my surprise when I got to the school for the Mother's Day party, and found that I was 30 minutes early. Hmmm...mabye I should get the invitation from Mommy in hand next time instead of getting it by text. At any rate, the teachers were understanding about the gaffe, and made me feel welcome. It was time for the children to go out to the playground, they told me, and so, dutifully, CiCi took my hand and out we went.

CiCi was immediately off and running with her friends, first to one piece of equipment, then to the tricycle track, then to a slide, then across the yard, running willy-nilly, enjoying the sweet sunshine that day. It was amusing to watch the herd of little ones move en masse from one place to the next, each one in turn leading the others to the next destination, knowing their time outside was short.

I was sitting on a bench where CiCi had left me when the door to the school opened, and another procession of children entered the playground. As the classes blended together, one of CiCi's teachers motioned to me, grinned, and said, "Now, you have to watch this." I nodded, wondering what was so interesting.

She called out to CiCi, who was running toward the jungle gym, and said, "CiCi...Amelia is here!" CiCi stopped in her tracks and spun toward the door. She shot across the yard as fast as I've ever seen her run, toward another little girl.

The other girl, Amelia, had spied CiCi as well, and they were running full tilt directly at each other. When they were within arms reach of one another, they both stopped suddenly and....bounced! They were so excited to see each other, they bounced up and down, laughing and giggling like the little schoolgirls they are. After the display of bouncing, they took each others' hands and ran off together, staying locked together like that for the rest of the playground period.

CiCi's teachers laughed at what must have been the incredulous look on my face, and simply said, "They've been that way since Day One. We don't know why, but they're inseparable. While they're here...they just have that special bond."

Well, last night the thought of that incident with my granddaughter and her little friend came flooding over me while I was on facebook. I felt exactly like CiCi, and wanted to jump up and down like Tigger, overjoyed at the friends I encountered. I knew just how she felt!

It started with two of us talking "in chat," then two others suddenly joining in. We were bouncing back and forth in a confusing array of messages, laughing and posting as fast as we could, each of us knowing the others were waiting for replies to questions or comments. Eventually, the conversation spread from the chat space to the walls, and beyond to private messages. The most extraordinary part of the evening was that, for the most part, I would have considered it a rare treat to speak to ONE of these friends, let alone the six or seven who ended up visiting with me.

Oh, yeah. I know how CiCi feels now. We don't know why, but we're inseparable. While we're here, we just have that special bond.

Reconnecting, rebonding, reminiscing, remembering...facebook has become a gathering place for these things. I'm so happy to have found many of my childhood companions again. I look forward to many more wonderful encounters (although maybe not all at once!) in the future, and delight in hearing from them. It makes me want to run toward them, stop in place...and bounce for joy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rushed but not careless

by Dubby Riley

My time is short so imagine we're on the phone. That is the tone I'll use...

Clarissa May (Dunbar) Riley is alive and living in John Knox Village. She's 81. Her life is carried on a caravan. Calls from we four kids seem to brighten her the most. She was swept off her feet by a young fighter pilot before she knew her own strength and magic. She was only 15 when she discovered she loved Weldon Boyce. Like me, he was the youngest of four children. His mother had a very strong personality. Grandma Riley...I remember her well.

If I had insisted on other parents when I was searching for the ones to call my own--you and I couldn't laugh and thunder wouldn't roar. So what do we have to say about the mystery? Except we notice a difference between a one and a two, which form of mathematics defines the bounce in our step or the shade of red in a Spring tulip?

My mom isn't perfect but she would sleep in a puddle if it would keep me dry by doing so. She's as pretty as a sunset and the sound of her laugh taught birds to sing.

Grab a toy. Meet me in the playground. Thanks Mom. I love ya.


By Jo Floyd Lucas
A Tribute to Moms:
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there who have brought a child into this world, adopted a child, brought up a child, nurtured a child, or cared for a child. I think that pretty much covers almost all women in the world. We seem to be hardwired to be mothers, and that little fact bodes well for our universe.

We all have our favorite ‘mom-isms’ we heard while we were growing up…pearls of wisdom we will never forget, if not often use. Today, I pay tribute to my mother, Eleanor Floyd. At 85, she is not as spry or as healthy as I would like, but she has never stopped being the quintessential mother to me. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite pearls of wisdom from her:

Every girl should learn to sew. [As a result, Joyce and I both learned to sew, and by the age of 14, sewed almost all of our school clothes, including our prom dresses.]

Every girl should learn the proper way to iron a man’s shirt…yoke/collar/cuffs/sleeves/body. [This seems only to have applied to ironing my father’s shirts, as I now rely solely on Downy Wrinkle Releaser.]

If you learn and practice good manners, you can be invited to dinner with the Queen of England and feel comfortable. [Well, I’m still waiting for that invitation, but I keep practicing my good manners, just in case. I'll let you know how comfortable I feel.]

Whatever you do, learn to swim. [She said this one a lot, because she never learned to swim and always regretted it…needless to say, all six of us were veritable fish in the water.]

As I got a little older, the mom-isms became more specific, and much more interesting to me. Among the ones that really fascinated me;

Dress like a lady and you’ll always be treated like one. [Although I know this isn’t foolproof, I have found that people do respond to how we look. We are visual creatures, and despite our best intent, we really DO prejudge others based on their appearance.]

Take care of your possessions. If you treat them like treasures, you’ll always feel wealthy. If you treat them like trash, it doesn’t matter how much you have or what it cost, you’ll only have trash. [This one is a personal favorite…it’s just so true.]

Later, when I started my own household, my mother offered up this wisdom;

A can of paint is your best friend. Clorox bleach is your next best friend. [Again…so true. Both cost next to nothing, yet make such a difference.]

With a little elbow grease and a lot of creativity, you can furnish your home for next to nothing. [Eleanor Floyd has proven that one time and again, making silk purses out of sows’ ears for decades now.]

Spaghetti on Wednesday night makes everyone happy. [This was in response to my question, “Why do we have spaghetti every Wednesday night, Momma?"]

Later still, when it came time to advise her daughter on the ways of the world (men, that is), she offered these little nuggets, which came in especially handy with my three sons;

Men and boys have only two emotions; Happy, and Mad. When they’re happy, they’re happy. When they’re worried, frightened, sad, disappointed, anxious, or frustrated, they’re mad…you have to understand that. [Sad but true…many men really are that out of touch with their emotions.]

Men need for you to be close by when they do a job around the house…just so you can admire their work. [Maybe that was only directed at my father, but he sure did enjoy having Mom there to watch him mow the lawn or make a repair.]

Finally, when it came to her children and grandchildren, her very wise words carried me through some very tough days;

Kids need hugs the most when they deserve them the least. [Wow…I will never forget that one, and it has proven so much to me about the power of unconditional love. The next time your child (or anyone, for that matter) is getting on your last nerve, try giving them a hug…no words, just a hug. It works miracles.]

Hide the cookies in the washing machine if you don’t want anyone to find them. [Our saintly mother didn’t disclose this little hint until we were well into adulthood. I still check her washing machine on occasion to see what’s hiding there.]

Armed Service or some sort of National Service should be mandatory for all 18 year olds…just to get them out of your house. [Enough said on that one.]

And finally, the bit of wisdom that seemed so unlikely to me as a child, but which now has become so clear to me;

No matter how educated we are, we learn the most throughout our lives from our children. [Please let us listen and learn more each day from the children around us. Amen and Amen.]

What wisdom did your mother pass on to you? Whatever it was, today is a great day to acknowledge it and to thank her for it. Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010


from Reya Mellicker

It was, you know. Pink. Or ... peach? salmon? The color was fleshy in a late 1950's kind of way. I'm talking about Ruskin High School, the new Ruskin that was built after the F-5 Ruskin tornado flattened the old one.

Sometimes I wonder why they chose that color for the new school. Did someone on staff at the District cut a deal at the paint store? Was there a committee who frowned over paint samples, finally deciding on pink? Or was it some architect/designer, dressed like the characters in Mad Men who made the final decision?

This particular mystery is likely to never be solved. Such is life.

Other mysteries I wonder about are more pertinent and way juicier. For instance, I have been in a state of wonder, on and off for more than a year, since I found Dub on Facebook. More recently, that state of wonder (thanks Glenn,** for the beautiful phrase) has evolved into nothing less than awe as our organic reunion continues here and elsewhere over the internets.

Y'all are, every one of you: smart, kind-hearted, lively, gentle, creative, and you are, all of you, such fabulously progressive thinkers. Our gatherings and exchanges are creating an energetic matrix through which a pure current of healing and love flows backwards in time. Our renewed connections are making possible the recovery of very fun, very delicious, memories. I've experienced some pretty heinous moments in my life, believe me, but without a doubt the most miserable years were the Ruskin years due to the complete and utter breakdown of my family. Before last year, the only part of that time I remembered was the misery. But that has changed, thanks to you.

All you pink/peach/salmon/fleshy and beautiful beings are helping me pay it backwards. You are making possible a revisionist history of the saddest time of my life. Who knew it was possible? There is simply no way to ever adequately express my gratitude.

**""The purpose of art is not the momentary ejection of adrenaline, but rather the lifelong construction of a state of wonder." --Glenn Gould

Thursday, May 6, 2010


by Dubby Riley

Dear Reader:

There are essays buried here which have revived some of you from a funk. I've felt it and have heard about it and it is wonderful. I too have been filled by the magic of those verses. I hang around hoping some of skill from their authors will sprinkle me, their loyal apprentice.

We're frantic with anticipation to introduce an old friend. And there is a story which must be shared...

I think we are in a new era, which I call Social Media Artist Revolution. We're all artists because we create art with each breath we take, with each picture or memory we see in our mind, with each swagger or step we take, with each smile we share, with each glance sideways we give a stranger who passes, with each hug we receive or even dream about.

I'm here to introduce you to Ms. Reya Mellicker. It was about a year ago, or just a little more, that I got a message. "Dubby, is that you? I can't tell because the picture is so small."

It was Reya. We met in creative writing class at Baptiste Junior High School in 1966 or '67 Laughed? Oh yes, we laughed mightily and often. And it was all that laughter which had me think of her all those years. So you see, it is because of the Cosmology of Reya that this humble blog was ever created.

Here's a little something from her blog, The Gold Puppy:

One happy reunion that was the result of leaving behind the Wiccan path is that I got God back. No, not the sociopathic guy with the white beard who judges us and smites whomever He wants. Not the guy who makes promises or tells people they are "chosen." I never believed in that god. I'm talking about the great divine realm, beyond the beyond. God, according to the cosmology of Reya (and many many great thinkers throughout history) is formless, unnameable, unknowable by the mind, impossible to describe or explain, except for brief moments in the heart.

From there she tells us more of the Goddess of whom I also worship, at whose alter my candles are lit. The Goddess for whom we all can devote our last breath of hope. For it is in the Divine Feminine that we shall be saved. That is if we have time still for salvation. And in that same post, she shares this unforgettable and clever image...

The words in the side mirror are "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"

So welcome Reya. It is now official, we represent five places...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Go Outside and Play!

By Jo Floyd Lucas
How many times did you hear that command as a child? If you're anything like me, you heard it hundreds of times. As a result, my twin sister, our four brothers, and I would spend hours outside absorbed in games of Home Run Derby, Tag, H-O-R-S-E, Army, jump rope, or just running around the yard in the evening catching fireflies.

We spent hours in the back yard, climbing trees, making club houses, and playing on the swingset until we literally wore it out. Even then, the frame became the source of endless fun, leaning cut limbs from the trees against it to use as ramps, running up them as far as we could, and laughing as we fell to the ground time and again.

There was almost no grass in our backyard. We altered the terrain in it every day by driving toy cars on newly constructed roads and bridges, by digging holes for 'buried treasure,' or in the case of my brothers, using firecrackers to blow up their beloved GI Joe action figures. There was always something going on outside.

The winter was no different. We lived at the top of a hill on 112th Street, and sledding was great in either direction. Building snowmen and snow forts were usually followed by relentless snowball fights. I even remember that we once ice skated on frozen water in our back yard!

We grew up--all of us--to be smart, capable, fit, and creative people. I think this is, in large part, because we spent so much time outside having fun.

Now, I'm not trying to minimize the importance of what went on inside our house. We had all our meals together as a family, eight of us around a giant wooden table too large for the dining room. At breakfast, my father would read a daily devotional from The Bible. At dinner, he held court with a combination of jokes, questions, and debates that involved all of us. We were expected to have an opinion and know how to express it.

Our parents read to us and instilled a love of books in all six of us. If we were ever bored, we were instructed to pull out an encyclopedia and start reading (or look at the pictures if we were too young to read). Our parents also did the great service of informing all of us repeatedly that we were each capable of going to college, but that if we chose to go, we would have to pay for it on our own.

You get the picture...things were mostly good in the Floyd household growing up. But as I look back on my childhood, the sense of adventure, the competitive spirit, the imagination, the curiosity, the love of sports, and the love of nature that I so appreciate as traits in myself today came directly from those long hours of play outside.

I took the day off today from my duties as 'Granny Nanny.' It's a sweet gift to me from my wonderful son and daughter-in-law for Mother's Day. I enjoyed the day tremendously, and spent it outside, just playing, relaxing, reading and loving nature...and life. I highly recommend it.

I look forward to resuming my nanny duties with enthusiasm tomorrow. I feel refreshed, renewed, and reinvigorated. And if my little CiCi plays her cards right, I just may take her to the playground with me!

My advice to you for the day; step away from the computer and "Go outside and play!"


Monday, May 3, 2010

by Linda Van Treese

Greetings my friends from Heidiland! We're having a lovely time and but for the weather, which has been cloudy and rain since Friday, I have no complaints.

Saturday, May 1st was an interesting day. Euros celebrate May Day a little differently than we do. No dancing around the May Pole here, no sirree. For one thing, it's a national holiday and everything is closed, trams and buses don't run. People (anarchists, skinheads, punks, unemployed) come from all across Europe to gather at different platz areas throughout the city to hear speeches smoke some dope, drink some brewskis and get all riled up; then they march through the streets smashing windows, usually businesses, with large banks being a favorite target; throwing rocks at riot police and occasionally setting a car or two on fire...nice. I can't imagine such a thing happening in the US, but I guess it's pretty 'normal' here...whoa! I asked Hampi how come they were allowed to do such things and he said it was because there are so many and they can't arrest all of them. The Swiss are so practical and besides, that they own the biggest reinsurance company in the world.

Stacie and I went to the main train station to purchase some museum tour tickets and while there I observed the oddest thing. The station was pretty crowded with people and there were several events occurring. There were different vendors set up around the station and in one area there was a Ben & Jerry Ice Cream booth...complete with crew dressed up in cow costumes...peace, love and can't we all just get samples for everyone. Right across from them, not more than ten feet away was a group of the aforementioned punks come to the big city to see what kind of mayhem they could create. The group of punks was surrounded by uniformed riot police that didn't look amused, to say the least. A couple of the officers were 'patting down' several members of the group and all the time the cow people were passing out free ice cream samples like it was just another 'normal' day. That's when I knew for certain...'you're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy'. There was a woman behind me that was in the process of taking a picture of the ironic juxtaposition of the scene, another tourist, no doubt. One of the riot police stepped forward in a way that left the impression, in no uncertain terms, that pictures were not allowed...he wasn't smiling and was a little intimidating, but in a nice way. Of course, since I'm always up for a challenge, I decided that I would take a picture myself. Stacie and I removed ourselves some distance back and covertly snapped a couple of shots. I felt like a real rebel, you know, defying authority and the spirit of May Day. One word description of the scene...surreal.

Since my eurogeektechnoids are at work today, I'll have to post the picture later.

Reporting from Zurich, your intrepid, foreign correspondent...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Coincidence - Under Construction

by Rick Hempy

I wrote in my first, (and only), post about something, beyond the shared experience of our youth, that seems to connect this little band of gypsies. While I have been busy flailing around trying to define what that thing is, my friends have been telling me just that in their recent posts.

I spent a very pleasant two hours, this afternoon, listening to our friend Danny spin Beatles tunes, and try to keep up with his ever-increasing fan base. I chatted with Jo, Dub and Wade. It was a great time as always. My wife, who has long since decided I have lost my mind, considers my Friday retreats with Danny, and friends, further evidence.

Earlier this week I had a wonderful exchange with another friend I admire very much. We spoke of the divergent paths that brought us both to the place that we are now in our lives. I was both grateful and happy that my friend trusted me and loved me enough to share something that intimate. Some of our conversation dealt with tolerance, some with dreams, much with spirituality, and most with love, in some form or fashion... mostly love.

Lo and behold, while off on my quest, my compadres here have been having much the same conversation. Dub wrote a wonderful piece about tolerance, and a renewed effort to focus on the things we share, and an understanding and acceptance of the things that make us different. Jo noted earlier that we all have something to offer here, and challenged us to create a masterpiece. Most recently, she wrote about dreams, and how they might spring from a most basic need for love. She qouted Linda's very profound observation: "Everyone wants to love and be loved, simple as that".

Coincidence? ...that brought us here? I don't want to harp on the "connection" thing, but I have been curious in that regard. To quote another old friend, "The game is afoot". I have satisfied myself with the notion that this is a coincidence of our own design, (in order to avoid too much chasing my own "tale"), though we do have Dub to thank for dragging us to the alter.

We are gathered, coincidentally, quite by chance, with purpose and resolution... to craft a purple masterpiece, made of tolerance and love, respect and compassion... and love ...did I say love? ...mostly love.

But we can't call it Barney - that's been done.