Sunday, April 21, 2019

Elvis! Sunrise; W-Holy You! Saint Bev and Saint Lynette; Bradford Pears; Always and Furever

I need to start off this blog post with a few words about my favorite pal and guy-dog, Rudy the Sailing Wiener Dog. The words are: "Stubborn, Attitude and Elvis". The first two may be self-evident, but we call Rudy "Elvis" on those frequent occasions when he shows us that he knows he is superior to us and expects us to cater to his every desire.  One of these occasions occurred the other day while on a walk. We wanted to go one way, Rudy wanted to go in the opposite direction. So he went into what we fondly call "The Four Foot Plant"... and what's with that "look"???

I have to give equal time to our Little Princess Gretchen, seen here napping on dog-dad's tee shirt. She is a very sweet girl, always loving and full of kisses, but only has one expression, "Adorable", unlike her brother Rudy...

During our events at Unity Village, we stayed at a Jackson County campground in Lee's Summit, Missouri. This sunrise over Longview Lake near our campground brought a beautiful start to the day. 

Suzanne's W-Holy You! event was a great experience for all 185 attendees, and included folks who came from as far away as Australia and Canada. It started on Thursday and ended on Sunday. Unity Village did a great job for us! 

Here is Suzanne demonstrating a Hoberman sphere, an isokinetic structure resembling a geodesic dome, but which can expand and contract quickly based on its scissors-like design, folding down to a tiny fraction of its normal size. Larger models can be found in the Smithsonian and the Liberty Museum, but the largest, 19 feet in diameter, is located in a science center in Tartu, Estonia. This shape consists of six great circles corresponding to the edges of a icosidodecahedron.  Suzanne did not go into this kind of detail; instead, she used this shape to explain something far less complicated, like ... Creation!

There were various exercises and presentations that brought attendees to tears, but I will not spoil My Lovely Bride's next event by describing them here. Just let me assure you that everyone had a fabulous experience. 

During breaks, attendees at W-Holy You! could walk the beautiful grounds of Unity Village and enjoy the Tower, fountains and nature trails. Suzanne is already looking forward to her next event here.

Before I wrap up with our Unity Village discussion, I would be remiss in not acknowledging two people who made that week and Suzanne's work much easier. Bev Garlipp (Saint Bev) and Lynette Setzkorn (Saint Lynette) are the unsung heroes of Suzanne's work. Bev flew in for the retreat from The Villages, FL, and the first photo shows Bev just as Suzanne was recognizing her and her work on this project - a shaft of sunlight came through one of the windows right onto Bev, almost blinding her! Lynette, Suzanne's Scheduling Princess, drove up from Tulsa, Oklahoma. (You should look at Lynette's blog, An Unexpected Mystic,  . It will touch your heart!) Thank you both for everything you do! 

During our last week at Unity Village, trees started blooming... here is one of the prettiest trees we have seen - the Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryana). But it has a sinister side... This species was introduced by the US Department of Agriculture as a landscape tree in the 1960s (another cute, but ill-thought out government program) - suburban landscapers initially loved these trees because they flower quickly and beautifully, but the fruit of this invasive species from Asia is inedible and the seeds mildly poisonous. These nuisance trees choke out other trees (especially in the South) as does kudzu (Pueraria montana), another Asian invasive species, nicknamed "the vine that ate the South". Kudzu was also introduced by the federal government, ostensibly to control soil erosion in Pennsylvania (I am starting to see a pattern here). Bradford pear trees are also prone to splitting apart at relatively young ages and crashing down on people, cars, fences, etc. Most agricultural extension agents recommend against using Bradford pear trees for anything but firewood - it actually burns as well or better than cherry, and you won't get in trouble for chopping down a Bradford pear tree like our first president did with a cherry tree.

Finally, I would like to showcase an amazing animal shelter south of Kansas City, Kansas. I was walking back from one of Suzanne's presentations and happened to speak to one of the attendees, Laurie Savoie, who mentioned that a friend had an animal shelter about 45 miles away. So after W-Holy You!, Suzanne, Rudy, Gretchen and I took a day trip... Always and Furever Midwest Animal Sanctuary was started by Jen Dulski, a lawyer by day and recreational athlete in her spare time, when she's not saving neglected older dogs. We knew that she had converted a barn to a shelter, and were expecting to see a couple of dozen kennels for the residents... imagine our surprise and delight when we saw this... it looked like a coffee shop from the 60s!!! Mismatched couches and dog beds where older dogs (many abandoned by their owners!) could live out their days in comfort and with love from Jen, Laurie, and a group of Angel Volunteers...

Here is Laurie introducing me to some of the wonderful dogs that Jen is saving. Many have been turned in to "kill shelters" (that sounds rather dreadful!) by their owners who don't want to (or can't) pay for their care in their older years. (I have a bit of a problem with that concept. Imagine casting off your kids or parents at that point... okay, some people do, but your dogs are helpless, don't have 401k's or Social Security). In any case, Jen, Laurie and the volunteers at Always and Furever epitomize the love and compassion that we humans are supposed to be known for!

So, here are Laurie, Jen and Suzanne with one of the shelter's residents. And, oh by the way, when one of their dogs is ready to pass, Jen or a volunteer holds them during their last hours in this existence. I cannot imagine any more loving gesture than that. We were so touched by Jen, Laurie, and the volunteers at Always and Furever that we made a donation in our daughter Susan's name - she loved animals, especially dogs that were abused or unloved. We ask that when you have a few moments, please look at the shelter's web site, and if it speaks to you, please consider a generous donation. The shelter needs $2,500.00 a week just to stay afloat. Thank you...                       

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Chattanooga, TN; Bad Weather and Flooding; St. Charles, MO; Independence, Missouri; Unity Village Tour; Audio Books; "You Are a Wuss!" Serrano Pepper Revenge; "Well, Maybe You Are, Too!"

We departed The Villages on March 23rd, and headed northwest through Georgia for a two-day trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Suzanne presented her Magnificent You talk to an enthusiastic crowd at Unity of Chattanooga. This city is a delightful place to visit; located on the Tennessee River, Chattanooga melds almost seamlessly with the town of Rossdale, in northern Georgia, where our campground was located. We were able to spend some quality time with our friends Keith and Laura Noyes, who had us over for a fabulous dinner and then...

... took us out mountain biking and hiking in this scenic and historic part of the US. Keith and Laura kindly slowed down for us flatlanders while we rode the Black Forest and TNT trails at the Enterprise South Nature Park, which is near the huge Volkswagen Chattanooga auto assembly plant. It was a great ride, so enjoyable that Suzanne and I returned a few days later to ride the trails a second time.

We also got out hiking on part of the Cumberland Trail, a very rocky and "up and down" route that left us wishing that we were in better shape, but the only way you get into shape for hiking rough trails is by hiking rough trails... funny how that works!

The last photo of our Chattanooga visit had us shaking our heads... this is a family home on top of Signal Mountain, where during the War of Northern Aggression, Yankee troops used to signal from inside the besieged city to other Union troops outside the Southern lines. It's an historic area, but obviously that doesn't keep people from building the home of their dreams... "Beam me up, Scotty!"

This next photo really doesn't need explanation, does it?

Weather "is"... whether or not you like it. On the way to St. Charles, Missouri, we had to pass through some of the worst weather we've seen in a long time. This screen shot doesn't look too bad, but we had very heavy rain and winds near Centralia, Illinois, bad enough to tear a piece of trim from the side of the bus and make me wish that we were in Tucson or Phoenix... 

We spent only one night in St. Charles, along the Missouri River, which was in flood stage, and moving like a freight train, with whole trees tumbling in the roiling brown current. (That's the Katy bike trail on the levee just a few feet above the river.) I would NOT want to be kayaking in the river right now. The Midwest has had so much rain, especially up in Nebraska, where flooding is at near-record levels.

Next stop: Independence, Missouri, where we spent two nights waiting for a county park to open. This amazing edifice is The Temple, completed in 1994 by the Community of Christ, an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It dominates the skyline of Independence, and is within walking distance of the downtown where many statues and displays honor that city's most famous son, President Harry S. Truman. 

Our purpose being in the area is to support Suzanne's major events at Unity World Headquarters, in Unity Village, MO. She spent three days recording her book Messages of Hope as an audio book that Unity will publish this year. (It went so well that she will be recording another of her books, Wolf's Message, next week!)

Unity's President and Chief Operating Officer, Guy Swanson, gave us the most incredible and thorough tour of Unity Village. We went from the top of the tower to the pump room below the fountains, seeing every facet of this amazing spiritual community. Guy and his wife Mary, and David and Julie Vest, (David is the Unity CFO) took us out for a fabulous fish dinner... many thanks!

Everyone we met at Unity World Headquarters was happy, helpful and friendly, but the most impressive single place was the 24/7/365 Silent Unity prayer facility, where dozens of staff members respond to email, telephone calls and letters to pray affirmatively with people, a reminder that we are never alone, not even in your darkest hour. We spoke to one of the beautiful ladies who works there, and were truly touched by her love, caring and concern for the people who call into Silent Unity for prayer support. Silent Unity has been operating since 1893!!! We will be here for two weeks... and next week is Suzanne's W-Holy You Retreat!

This is the view from the tower... what an incredible place! If you're in the Kansas City area, you have to visit here and soak up the love and positive energy...

Finally, I will end this blog post with a true story about My Lovely Bride... she loves Sriracha sauce, and often calls me a wuss because I find it too hot. Well, payback time came when I got a Serrano chili at a local market... I actually thought it was much milder than Jalapenos, but when I cut some up for my signature chicken enchiladas and black beans, I took a taste and my tongue was on FIRE! I asked MLB if she would like to try one, and she said, "Sure, how hot can it be, since you are a such a wuss..." Well, she put a tiny piece in her mouth, her eyes got big, and she grabbed a glass of water to put the fire out... (NB: beer works much better than water!) I wound up eating her portion and mine! Turns out Serrano peppers are 3-9 times hotter than Jalapenos... who knew?