Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

COVID and Escambia County

I love my new neighbors in my little house with the sunsets. Early in the morning, as I was hanging my swimsuit out to dry, I saw her and her daughter also out in their backyard, and strolled over to say “Hey!”

She held out her hands in warning. “Don’t come any nearer!” She explained her youngest daughter was in quarantine, her entire high school was quarantined, students, faculty, administration. My friend is a dear woman, she had to quarantine her husband in the basement far away from his infectious daughter, due to health issues. I later learned – not from my neighbor – the school blames a “secret” Halloween party that ended up being a huge crowd event. A super spreader.

Sigh. Honestly, I can’t blame the kids. There is a belief around here that the COVID virus makes you a little uncomfortable and then you get over it. The majority of the adults don’t bother with masks.

We continue to be careful in our little bubble. Today, we drove out to a restaurant we like in the more rural north part of town. We planned, if it were not too crowded, to eat there, but it was too crowded. As we waited, masked, just us and the management and wait staff, not a single other person coming in to order, whether for pick up or for dine in, was masked.

The case rate in Florida is once again rising rapidly. The death rate is rising once again. I have a sinking feeling that the normal big family Thanksgivings will take place here as usual, with a resulting spike in cases and deaths. I am so sick of hunkering down, and I just tell myself to get a grip, I take enough risks, don’t take this one.

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cultural, Eating Out, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Safety, Social Issues, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

Tofino and the Heebie Jeebies

Today I woke up with the heebie jeebies, an unexplained restless anxiety with no cause that I am aware of. It happens; it happens sometimes when I don’t get enough sleep and this was one of those mornings when I woke up just before four a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, and sometimes it happens when some kind of atmospheric pressure shift takes place, and that has happened, too.

No more clear cool sunny days, the air is heavy with moisture and the clouds hang low over Pensacola.

As I read the news, CNN had an article about Tofino: Canada’s Bohemian Backwater and I thought “Isn’t that where AdventureMan and I went when we spent a couple weeks on Vancouver Island?” I checked this blog, and to my utter delight, came across several entries on our stay in Ucluelet, where we stayed when we visited Tofino.

(Sea Star at Terrace Beach Resort; Ucluelet)

I read through the entries. It was like taking a little escape all over again. My vapors lifted. I headed to the kitchen to start a big pot of baked beans and get started on my busy day. I don’t shop often these days, but I needed a birthday card and Target was stocked, better than I have seen it for a long time, with clothing in colors, designs and sizes that are perfect for my grandchildren. Woooo hoooo, such an inauspicious beginning and such a great turnaround to my day, thanks to “Bohemian” Tofino.

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Biography, Hotels, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Danced All Weekend

I have a conservative friend I see three times a week, and we delicately discuss politics. It’s been an intricate dance, as we feel strongly about our issues, and we also want to remain civil, to remain friends.

A very old friend rebukes me. “How can you even talk with these uncaring haters?” she asks me.

We’ve been friends for a long time.

“How can I not?” I answer her. “How can we win and move forward if we continue to alienate one another? I know how it feels to be on the outside, and to feel powerless, and aghast at what is happening. How can we bring our opponents into the conversation, so that we might find a way – maybe not a perfect way, but a way forward, where we can both give a little and find a way to make it work?”

So when I saw my conservative friend this morning, he gave me a smile. “How was your weekend?” he asked, dancing around the elephant in the room, the Biden – Harris win.

“Oh, I am SO tired!” I told him, and then grinned, “All that dancing for joy the whole weekend, I am exhausted!”

He had the grace to laugh.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Civility, Cultural, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Political Issues, Values | Leave a comment

Quality of Life: Sparkles

This started when my grandchildren were small, and I had Swarovski crystal stars which over the years and the many moves have lost a bit here or there. I decided to hang them in a window that catches the late afternoon sun, so that they would cast sparkles around my office walls and ceilings. Some tiny disco mirrored ball casts little white sparkles; the crystal stars send shards of rainbow spinning across the ceiling.

I say I hung them to delight my grandchildren. Haha. It is my own delight, late each afternoon, watching the splinters of light track around my room adding sparkle to my quality of life.

Here is what this year’s Swarovski Christmas Star looks like, missing no pieces:

November 4, 2020 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Experiment, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues | Leave a comment

I Can’t Look

Today is election day in the United States of America, following four of the nastiest years in our history.

I try to be objective.

We served our country, AdventureMan and I, for many years, most of them outside the United States, sometimes in dangerous circumstances, not always agreeing with the official policies of our country but always, always, supporting them, as we were sworn to do. That is the nature of the “dark” bureaucracy. We serve our country, and we obey the laws.

To see the bureaucracy derided, dismissed and destroyed breaks my heart. To see all the painstaking hard work taken over years and years of persistent policy making tossed aside, along with our faithful allies, enrages me.

Oops. Enraged?

One of the things we learn along the road is not to take things personally. We learn to suffer disappointment and watch for opportunities to get back on track. Anger doesn’t help. Name-calling doesn’t help. Confrontation may be useful, but you have to choose your timing, and your battles.

I was raised to be competitive. I have had to dial it back. I learned that focusing on the win all the time drove bad decisions, and an unhealthy attitude – in me, I am not judging anyone else here, I just learned that to be effective in my own life, I had to lay competitiveness aside.

Tonight we will learn the design of our next four years. I can’t help it; I am emotionally involved. I spent the day NOT watching the news, not watching for signs and portents. I took care of business, I quilted, I went to the dentist, all great diversions. I prayed, frequently, throughout the day as I have been praying for four years. I try not to give God advice, I try to remember always to keep in mind “Thy will be done” and yet . . . I have my private opinion of how things would work out best.

Tonight, once the polls close, I will watch.

Whatever happens in the next few hours, or days, or even weeks – or months – I will try to stay level, stay focused, stay the course. No matter how bad it has been, there have been minor celebrations along the way, and I can persevere, I know I can. It would be nice, however (God? are you there? are you listening?) to have a break, to have some normality restored, and to begin to have a longer news cycle, and rest between crises, and even, God willing, some peace on earth, good will toward mankind.

November 3, 2020 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment

HIRAM HISANORI KANO

In today’s Lectionary, we celebrate Hiram Hisanori Kano, an enormously capable and talented man who used his talents to the glory of God. We pray the following in his memory:

Almighty God who has reconciled the world to yourself through Christ: Entrust to your church the ministry of reconciliation as you did to your servant Hiram Hisanori Kano, and raise up ambassadors for Christ to proclaim your love and peace wherever conflict and hatred divide; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. 

PRIEST, 24 OCT. 1988


Hiram Kano

The Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano (1889-1986), an Episcopal priest known by some as the “Saint of Nebraska and Colorado,” was an agricultural missionary among Japanese Americans in western Nebraska and a pastor to American soldiers imprisoned for having been AWOL while he himself was a prisoner during the Japanese internment of WWII. Churches in the Dioceses of Nebraska and Colorado observe a Saint’s day for Fr. Kano annually. 

Fr. Kano, who was from a well-known family in Tokyo, received a Master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Nebraska. In the early 1920’s, Bishop George Allen Beecher of the Missionary District of Western Nebraska discerned in farmer and educator Kano, the evangelist he was seeking to call Nebraska’s Japanese to be God’s people. A lay missionary first, Kano would become Deacon Kano in 1928 and Fr. Kano in 1936. By the spring of 1934 there were 250 baptized and 50 confirmed through Fr. Kano’s ministry. 

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Fr. Kano had just celebrated the Eucharist at Episcopal Church of Our Savior in North Platte, Nebraska, 180 miles from his wife and children at their Scottsbluff home. On that morning he was arrested by the local police and not allowed to notify his family of his detention, but was sent to the district attorney in Omaha. He heard the terrible news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on Japan on the police car radio. Because his family in Japan had connections with the Japanese government, and he was so personally influential with the Japanese Americans as both a minister and a teacher of agriculture, he was rated “Class A – the most potentially dangerous of Japanese Americans.” He was the only Japanese of the 5,000 living in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming to receive this rating and to be interned. 

Despite his own defense and pleas from his bishop who knew Fr. Kano to be a dedicated Christian and loyal to his adopted country, he spent the next two years in internment camps. He spent time in four different states, always working to help the other internees and those imprisoned AWOL soldiers. He served as dean of a school for the internees and taught many courses in Agricultural Study and English, and he preached the gospel. 

After the war, it was determined that Fr. Kano should not return to his ministry in Nebraska. He had been detained longer than most, and it was feared that folks in Nebraska would be unaware of his loyalty to the U.S. and only remember inflammatory headlines such as, “Alien Pastor Arrested by FBI … Admits Writing to Tokyo.” He was sent to an Episcopal Seminary in Wisconsin where he earned both Bachelors and Masters of Divinity degrees. He returned to Nebraska and his ministry in 1946. 

Fr. Kano and Mrs. Kano earned their citizenship soon after the law permitted it in 1952, and then began teaching citizenship classes so that between 1953 and 1955, nearly 100 percent of the Nebraska Japanese became citizens. Forty years after WWII, when the U.S. government acknowledged that Japanese Americans had been wronged by the internments and offered to pay reparations, Fr. Kano told his bishop, “I don’t want the money. God just used that as another opportunity for me to preach the gospel.”

— From General Convention 2012

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Quality of Live: Another Perspective

I have the most creative and insightful daughter-in-law. She is a woman I really like, and one of the things I like most about her is that she sees things differently.

One day, visiting her house, as I walked down the hall, I noticed how thin I looked. My daughter-in-law had found a magical mirror!

I found a similar mirror, and when we bought the house, I put it in the same spot.

It’s a small thing, a very small, petty, vain, and gloriously irrational thing, but every time I walk down the hall and see myself as taller, and thinner, it just makes my day. I know it is only an illusion. It doesn’t matter. It makes me happy.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Cultural, Humor, Quality of Life Issues, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Humility

Roaring Mountain, Yellowstone 2019

From this morning’s readings in The Lectionary:

Sirach 3:17-31

17 My child, perform your tasks with humility;*
   then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. 
18 The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
   so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord.* 
20 For great is the might of the Lord;
   but by the humble he is glorified. 
21 Neither seek what is too difficult for you,
   nor investigate what is beyond your power. 
22 Reflect upon what you have been commanded,
   for what is hidden is not your concern. 
23 Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you,
   for more than you can understand has been shown to you. 
24 For their conceit has led many astray,
   and wrong opinion has impaired their judgement. 

25 Without eyes there is no light;
   without knowledge there is no wisdom.* 
26 A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end,
   and whoever loves danger will perish in it. 
27 A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles,
   and the sinner adds sin to sins. 
28 When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing,
   for an evil plant has taken root in him. 
29 The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs,
   and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise. 

30 As water extinguishes a blazing fire,
   so almsgiving atones for sin. 
31 Those who repay favours give thought to the future;
   when they fall they will find support.

October 17, 2020 Posted by | Living Conditions, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues | Leave a comment

Roaring Thunder: Blue Angels Thrill

In the midst of mask-making, I hear the roar. It’s unmistakable. It’s the Blue Angels, coming out to play, coming out to thrill our hearts on the perfect kind of Pensacola day. It’s blue skies, few feathery little clouds, temperatures hitting around 80 F.

Thrills and chills as the Blue Angels dive.

And just to show he’s not intimidated, the local osprey takes a circle over the Bayou of his own.

October 14, 2020 Posted by | Cultural, Living Conditions, Pensacola | | Leave a comment

It’s Personal: Quality of Life

In this endless year of 2020, among all the other changes, life gave us a chance to make another move. My Mother’s death of COVID in April brought a restlessness, and a need to divest ourselves of the sorts of detritus which can accumulate if you live for ten years in one place, which we have never done before. I wanted a smaller house, and I wanted a view of the water, particularly the Bayou. Finding a small house on the Bayou is like searching for a unicorn.

But, the perfect house came available. It was a house we had owned before, and sold, and were able to buy back. The transactions were complicated, and we currently live in our smaller house and have a larger house on the market.

Getting rid of stuff was hard and easy. Some stuff we just tossed. Some we directed to people who might make use of it. Nine boxes full of wonderful finds from the Middle East went to my niece, who is a Professor of Middle East Studies; her children particularly love the clock with the call to prayer.

Every night, we can watch the sun setting across the Bayou from our choice of eight different windows, and a porch. I can lose hours watching the light shift on the Bayou, or a storm blow in from across the waters. I can thrill to the boats passing by, or putting out lines to catch a fish or two, and the dive of the pelican thrills my heart.

“Are you happy here?” AdventureMan asks me frequently, because he knows I am. He can see it in my smile. We both have offices with views out over the water. It reminds me very much of our eagle’s nest in Kuwait, where we could see for miles out over the Arabian Gulf, watch the batteels and dhows, watch families picnic and float around the Gulf in the park across the street, or the occasional horrific car crashes which happened in our front yard. Houseguests were spellbound by the endlessly beautiful and surprising views from our tenth floor tower.

And now, I have the same, a fitness track, a Bayou, a nightly sunset, squirrels, pelicans, hurricanes, an endless source of entertainment.

As I work on my masks, I watch the sun glint off the long needles of the pine tree my husband believes is too close to the house. I don’t want him to chop this one down; not only do I have this lovely play of light on dark, but also in the early morning, the smell of pine pitch makes the air seem fresh and maybe a little cooler.

We find we actually like living in less space. The house is arranged beautifully, with open public areas and a door that closes off the family bedrooms and offices. Quality of life is in the details that delight the heart.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Moving, Quality of Life Issues, Sunsets | Leave a comment