The sandbox

i don’t know where the sand came from 

In Colreidge Nebraska in 1947.

I’m sitting now on the Oregon coast

Plenty of sand.

In order to maximize the sandbox experience:

• the sand had to have sufficient moisture to maintain integrity of community design.

• one needed an eclectic collection of vehicles that were close in scale to each other. Semi trucks were best.

• An assortment of building materials was helpful, such as wooden shingles for roofs, sticks for fence posts or telephone poles.

• A friend who had some time and an equally eclectic assortment of vehicles.

• a small hand garden spade or a big spoon for digging, grading, plating the streets and roads, and demarcating boundaries, though hands would do.

• the best roads wound over hill and dale. The best driveways were long and curved, unless it led to an underground garage, then short and direct was best.

The construction of the sand community took hours, days even, as long as no one, or no ones dog, went tramping through the sandbox.

Memories of this sandbox community still haunt me today 60+ years later.

– I watch semis back into loading bays carefully turning to back the trailer up just right to the door for unloading, just like I did with my toy semis in the sandbox.

– I watch double and/or triple trailers run down the interstate like mine did.

– I watch huge semis taking tight turns in the city and cutting it just right so as to not drive the rear wheels over the curb, as I did, pulling way out into the intersection as tragic would allow before cutting hard to the right to make the turn.

I see rural estates with the long swooping drive, out buildings, garages and lits of lawn, like mine.

I note which urban blocks have alleys that are wide enough for modest auto traffic.

I watch for culverts under the road like the ones I built with empty toilet paper rolls or frozen orange juice containers.

The biggest enemy to these carefully constructed sandbox communities? Rain or cat poop.

Small town boy


Behind the hedge

Our vision obscured, we peer, we strain

To see what’s behind the hedge. 

We preconceived what our eyes should see,

Prejudge what lies there hiding, waiting.

Our bias is so strong as to obscure

What’s there, like a hedge of our own making.

We could get closer,

If we wanted to, but

Maybe we prefer this view that is under

Our control.

Didn’t we spend all this time learning

Nonverbal cultural cues so as to be able

To discriminate.

To separate into categories.

To make quick superficial judgements 

Of others.

Maybe we should look over the hedge

Instead of trying to see through it, 

But first we must acknowledge its presence.

Small Town Boy

A puzzle

My life, my self, my path

is  a puzzle, with pieces missing.

I haven’t yet completed all the edge pieces.

When putting similar pieces to gether

I gives me a partial picture,

incomplete, but informative.

I  base the search for puzzle pieces based on the pieces I have,

but maybe I should wait.

I have no box to show what the finished puzzle will be.

Sometimes I have to discard puzzle pieces that don’t fit.

Sometimes others provide pieces with offhand  comments.

Sometimes pieces appear unsolicited,

Illness, trauma, love, change, new job, new friends.

Suddenly I may see how pieces go together with new insights born of inquiry, quiet solitude, thinking of other things, memories, smells, a touch.

I look at other peoples puzzles to see how they are  doing.

Some are complete waiting only for the  last piece.

Some are in complete dissarray, not yet begun or contemplated.

Many are alive with hope, optimism, and faith.

Many are dead from pessimism, dispair, and depression.

I am happy with mine as it is today, but looking forward

To more pieces fitting together as I consider it.

Will you help me?

Small Town Boy

Transformation, baby!

Over and over the Hanged Man indicates transformation.

Transformation means change into something else, something new.

Is it a change I am working on, an obvious outcome from current efforts?

Is it a change I want or a change others want or is it an unknown outcome of my own actions?

Will I be smarter? more handsome? more creative? more dead?

A caterpillar dooes not choose its  metamorphosis to a butterfly.

A bear does not choose how it will manifest itself when it emerges from hibernation.

A flower does not choose its bloom, nor a tree its fruit.

As I watched ninth grade boys turn  into senior men, their metamorphosis was part genetics and part environmental  response, little left to choice on their part.  Their only job was to  make the best of their new selves, body and mind.

I am trying to be a better husband, friend, father, child  of God, citizen, empath, man, human, lover, stranger, volunteer, writer, compassionate self observer, grandfather, great grandfather, mentor, cancer support, pet owner.

That’s what I’m working on, but is that what will be changed?

Other things affectiing change: illness, spouse, stress, anxiety, challenge, being out of my comfort zone, injury, children, climate, geopolitical events, disaster, trauma, trauma in others, 

I Ching says wait quietly.

Tarot says something big is coming.

The Hanged Man indicates transformation.

but what?

Small Town Boy

Men in my life who made a difference

I lost my father when I was nine. He committed suicide.

My mother, when I was still young, sought out men who could become surrogates.

Here are the ones I can remember:

Chuck Hagemeister was a mentor in acolytes and Boy Scouts, probably my first adult male friend, one with whom I shared a bond of friendship.

Mr Pitkin, I think his name was. He was a teacher during the year but he ran a crafts class outside the library across the street where we made plastic bracelets, among other things.

Mr Van Arsdale(?) my junior high science teacher who pointed me toward science Ed though I didn’t know it at the time.

Jerry DeFreise, high school chemistry teacher who definitely pushed me into chemistry and my unsuccessful attempt at Chem engineering .

Ed and Don Pomranka who owned Fred and Fred’s grocery and took me in when I was a teen and taught me about the world of work.

Fr. Alexander Balfour Patterson III campus chaplain at University of Colorado and Francis Wolle, deacon. Fr. Wolle taught me how to be a lay reader and Fr Pat told me to go make myself useful when I flunked out.

John Gibbons, former Sea Bee in the Pacific, a contractor in Boulder who I worked for after flunking out of CU who taught me how to be a laborer, a hod carrier, a carpenter, a cement mason, a tiler, and an adult.

A neighbor in Fort Collins who collected and sold things others didn’t want. We would call him a recycler now. He told me if I ever fell on hard times to acquire a magnet and anything that would stick to it could be sold for money.

Dr Louis R Weber, chair of the physics department at Colorado State University, who taught me to rely on myself, seek others to partner with, and the love of teaching physics . (And to not fall asleep in class)

Gerald ??? My science Ed professor who turned me into a science teacher. He taught me to gather resources and helped me learn to be at the front of the science classroom.

Jack Sheehy, science department chair at Roosevelt where I started teaching. His kind, quiet support removed the frustration and anxiety of my first real job.

George Flitte, head of College Exploration school at Adams High. Jerry Hagan, counselor and Ed Basaraba, my team leader. These three men and Henry Pond, vice principal, made a challenging teaching assignment doable.

6 men in ABOGIK, a men’s group. It stood for A Bunch Of Guys I Know. They taught me how to love men and that they could love me.

Elliot Geller and Thomas Fisher, two counsellors who helped me come to grips with my father and my relationship with men and women.

Chuck Kuzminski, Bob Dahlman, Clark Peters, uniserv staff for OEA PAT NEA. Who helped me grow into leadership.

Gerry Moreford, who bargained on the board’s side of the table who helped learn how to bargain for the best in the teacher’s contract.

Gene Douthie ( now Jean Valjean) And Larry Ayers, Admin at Jefferson, who led me to team leader and ultimately my PhD.  

Bob Williams, head of data processingAnd Ed Schneider, head of the Curriculum department, who showed me the ropes of school support that eventually led to private consulting and teacher training and my PhD.

Colin Karr-Morse who rescued me when my tech job in the curriculum dept dissolved, got me lots of Macs to teach physical science with, and said I was one of the finest teachers in Portland, upon my retirement.

Tom Nelson who taught me all he knew about birding and took me twice to Malheur National Wildlife Sanctuary in southeastern Oregon at times of migration.

The eight men I interviewed for a series called Cronies’ Tales.

A call for lamenting And seeking solution

To whom it may concernFrom Lloyd R McAnelly, Ph.D.

RE the South Carolina shooting
As we all reel from the disaster, the massacre, in AMF church in South Carolina, can we agree that something must be done to fight back against racial violence? Although symbolically it would be a good idea to remove the ‘stars and bars’ from South Carolina and other southern states, I don’t see that totally solving the problem, other than it being a grand gesture.

Calling white supremacists Nazis also smacks of finger pointing and name calling, but not solution seeking. The NRA and others point out that this was one idiot with a gun and worries that they will all be victims of a liberal attack and on owning and carrying arms.
I say these things not to inform you who already know this and more, but to solidify my own thinking so as to look deeper for root causes and potential solutions. In doing so I have reached the following conclusions:
Shooting and killing indiscriminate people is not the sole prerogative of white supremacists.

This massacre in South Carolina might not have happened if there were stricter gun control measures, certainly knives would not have had the same result, but dynamite has been used in the past to achieve the same results.

By focusing on this young man’s delusions regarding the need to shoot black people, we are ignoring other political and philosophical and cultural biases that lead to murder on this scale.

All of these proposed actions are merely attempts to salve the public and are not permanent deep changes required in our national culture to be aware and preventative of such disasters.

We must all find a solution to this problem  by making it our personal priority and each apply  our own solutions to stopping the violence.

In South Africa Mendella and others instituted a nationwide reconciliation activities and hearings to first bring issues to light and then seek resolution among disparate people’s, including a national day of reconciliation in which people’s of different races find ways to work together.

We have made no such effort on behalf of those murdered, their survivors, or those who find themselves choosing violence as the only way to solve problems. There is nothing we do now to: a. Acknowledge and describe the problem, b. Come together to seek mutual support and solutions for ourselves, and c. Stop finger pointing and find mutually agreeable solutions.

It should be clear to all citizens that there is a terrible problem of which we are all at fault, and therefore, we must all be part of the solution.
So this is what I think must be done:

Declare an annual national day of lamenting for all those affected by these shootings.

Provide funding for a think tank to research the problem and its causes and offer solutions.

Set up reconciliation centers like those in South Africa, Ireland, and other countries in need of bringing its diverse and opposing populace to identify and implement solutions.

Create a special panel who, like FEMA and Homeland Security, enter a community who is experiencing an attack of this nature, and whose job it is to: 

 Fully describe the event and those involved 

Remain in the community to gather data about what happened which will be archived

Begin reconciliation by soliciting testimony from community members and other concerned citizens and presenting them to the country with recommendations to deal with root causes not only at individuals who may be guilty of instituting violent solutions to problems because other solutions have failed.

Train communities to seek out and find aid for those who turn to violence in the form of locally designed and implemented communication and sharing of perceptions of such problems as lead to violent solutions. Help citizens to identify behaviors that lead to shootings.
Finally, it must be clear to all citizens, officers of the law, news media, video game makers, the motion picture and television companies that violence should not be promulgated as the final fix for society’s ills. Instead an intentional effort is to be made to decry such actions and create an informed public that seeks non-violent means of problem solving.  
Leadership is crucial. Let us learn from Ghandi, MLK, and Mendella and, as a nation stand up and ally ourselves with those who are victims and those who are perpetrators and those who watch and say or do nothing, to work together on our common problem.
We have gone astray of our founding principles and must together as a nation find a way to devise strategies to stop to stop the killing of the innocents.
Thank you for your attention,

May God bless us all.

Old man’s lament

There was a day when love meant only sex, 

A hormonal response to affection and intimacy.

When I had fewer candles on my birthday cake,

Love was what my mother gave me

Now transposed on the person of my affections.

Yielding to new pubile desires coming from my gonads.

But this was a temporary love, dying as the passion dies.

And so a new more piwerful lust presents itself

And is welcomed, no even sought after, and enjoyed thoughtlessly,

Without seeing the consequences, ego driven, the result of unvoiced needs.

And over and over, clandestine rendezvous, hidden passions, willing partners,

Until it became the norm.

And now with those options no longer open,

With opportunity never present, and passion unloved,

The old man waits, remembering, hoping, not understanding

That the problem lies within, sitting at the bottom with the libido, super ego and Id.

Now in quiet contemplation after trying unsuccessfully to raise

The passion with forbidden images, a poor second to reality,

Wondering if the path he had chosen is now and ever was the 

Path to remorse and disillusion and regret?

Was there/is there a better path when living a life of isolation,

Would celibacy have led to the same conclusion?

Will it now?

How to generate and enjoy passion, intimacy and affection,

Or is there something else?

Or are these needs wants for something else?

Loss of mothers affection? Fathers?

Immature love, touch, intimacy requirements/needs.

Shouldn’t I be beyond those infantile, animalistic, hormonal desires?

No, because I ain’t dead.

Passion lets me know I’m still alive

And enjoying the best it has to offer. 

Small town boy 

Naked star gazing

At night the naked giants looked longingly at the stars.  

They sought their origins in the costellations.

But their vision suffered from myopia,

so the stars and the great constellations were but a blur.

There ears were no better, fitted for hearing things near, not far.

But they had a sixth sense, as only naked giants have.

Telepathically they searched and searched for other naked giants.

And what if they found them?  They had no transport that would take them there.

And what if they found them? Even if they could communicate by mind alone?

Then they would know. They would know where they came from

and that they were not alone in the galaxy.

That they were not freaks, unusual among those on Earth,

but with a shared genotype with others,

even if far away.

That is why they searched the heavens at night.

That is why they longed for response.

To end the lonliness.