Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs




On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Recently a question arose as to my reference to "Sheepdogs" Explanation follows:
ONLY the comments at the end are mine. The Colonels observations on sheep, wolves and sheepdogs express my feelings very well. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion and I respect that. However, the truth will always be the truth........

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- From sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...

"Baa."

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

.........................................My comments:.............................................
In a later post I will share my thoughts on the role of Christ and the Christian in the scheme of Sheep, Sheepdogs and Wolves...................
Believe it or not, like it or not these are MY thoughts and feelings.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

AT SEA



AT SEA

or 
"Sailing Alone, With No One"



“Weigh anchor.” He calls to no one and turns the capstan himself.  First taking up the slack and then feeling the anchor let go of the bottom and start the journey upward to its proper home.  Once secured, he realizes that he is singing “Anchors Aweigh” and acting the fool.  It is not unusual for him to talk to himself and even reply, as he often is the only company he has for a week or two at a time.  Sailing alone is not how he would have it, but both his first mate and second mate are dead and the rest of his crew have deserted, jumped ship or went to sea with another Master.  So, he sails alone into the rising sun.

East.  Always East.  What is it that draws him ever to the East?  His native fresh water home, Lake Erie, is far behind him and the salty Atlantic Ocean is breaking over his bow and washing the thirty two foot deck of his home day after day.  The small uninhabited island that offered shelter thru the night falls astern as the morning wind fills his sails.

The breath of God provides the power to propel his ship and the sun gives him water to drink.  The sea itself offers him food from the set lines trailing aft.  Oh, he has food and drink enough for several weeks at sea; he just likes living off the land where there is no land.  He enjoys the experience of each day’s provision coming as it were directly from God’s hand.  The closeness he shares with God’s creation is more special to him every day.

Even now the charcoal brazier on the stern rail is cooking the sea bass he caught early this morning and the smell of coffee rises from below deck.  The last of the fresh bread will complete his mid day meal.  Even the five thousand that Jesus fed with bread and fish did not have strong black coffee.  He is truly blessed.

With such a steady and gentle wind from the West and the wheel dogged the day passes quickly and it is time for the Captains Log and then to sleep in his hammock on deck.  The stars are so bright in the night sky at sea and even the gibbon moon shines across the water like a path to the stars.  His bed moves to the motion of the ocean.  Roll, pitch and yaw combine to move in a way that is natural only to the seaman.  Sleep comes softly and the sounds of the wind in the rigging the gentle slap of the sea against the hull and the creak of the ship herself adapting to the various stresses of sail combine to make a lullaby for him.

BRAAAAK!!                         BRAAAAK!!                         B R A A A A A A K ! ! ! ! !

He is fully awake before his feet hit the deck running aft toward the wheel.  Intuitively he knows that the next few minutes are those of LIFE or DEATH for him and his ship.  Far from the shipping lanes and with modern radar on the big ships the chances of a collision with another ship is remote and yet bearing down on him is one thousand feet of containerized cargo ship that would run over his and not even feel it.  High and wide in the water it will not be able to alter course at this late time.  Had the lookout been paying attention and the radar set for distance maybe this would have been avoided.  No time to play what if.  So close that the light of the moon is blotted out she looms like the hand of doom over his tiny craft.

As he spins the wheel to starboard he prays that the other vessel does the same.  Having the right of way does not matter at a time like this.  Even if they do not collide, the bow wake and prop wash will try his seamanship and his boats seaworthiness.  His craft is responding smartly to her helm and is already changing course.   The behemoth towering over him will be well past his position before responding to her telegraphs call. The wake from her bow is already pushing him hard to port and causing an upset of his center of balance. As he passes her stern the prop wash combines to push him past 50 degrees.  His mind notes the inclinometer approaching the 60 degree point of no recovery.  Spinning the wheel, this time to port, he prays that the ruder will find purchase in the turbulence and he waits as that is all that is left for him to do.

Then, as if God himself had reached down and touched the top of the mast to set it right, her roll slows, stops and reverses.  Coming over the top and stopping at 45 degrees and the next roll more like 30 degrees and they were past the danger.

Less than ten minutes had passed and yet it was a lifetime.  Thanking God for his and his ships safety he dogs the wheel and goes below to log the event, noting the time, location and the name of the ship that had so nearly sent him to the deep.

“Wonder if there is any coffee left?” he says to no one.

Jim huff©

reflections


TRAVELS

“Ok” he said, as he packed his kit.  “I tried”.  He had extended an olive branch toward the little dove, hoping that she would light upon it and spend some time with him.  But, she only made several passes with hardly a glance at the peace offering he held forth.  Then, without a backward glance, she flew away.  It had been pleasant, no it had been peaceful, watching her wings beating the sun warmed air and cavorting in the gentle breeze.  “Memories” thinking out loud “at least I have memories of what might have been.” 
Slipping his pack onto his back and picking up his walking stick he turned toward the path that led from the quiet meadow to the forest and away from the sun kissed flowers of the spring.  Stepping more lightly than his heart felt he walked into the shadows of the trees and continued his journey to a place far distant. 
Occasionally someone would walk with him for a time, but they had their own destinations and soon their paths would part.  “Memories” he said again “at least I have memories of what time we shared.”  The trail was free of rocks and holes and rose gently toward a stand of Maple that was in its brightest green with the new leaves of spring.  As he approached the sound of laughter drifted to him on the warm wind rustling branches overhead.  “Could it be the music of the fae?” he actually spoke the words out loud and laughed to find he was talking to himself again.  The last time he encountered the wee people of the woods had been recorded in the ballad he wrote to remember the occasion for posterity.

I found myself upon a path within the wood
Less traveled this and yet I knew and understood
This was the way I was to go

The forest dark and dim within beckoned to me
The path was faint and overgrown most hard to see
This was the way I was to go

Step over step I made my way slowly forward
Quiet, silent, disturbing none, ever onward
This was the way I was to go

A light ahead, faintly glowing, a fairy ring
Wee folk dancing, the ancient song I heard her sing
This is the way for you to go

Beautiful she I can't describe So innocent
So pure and clean and much alive I stared intent
Knowing this way was mine to go

With open arms they welcomed me and taught me songs
Of peace and joy and happiness forgetting wrongs
This was the way I longed to go

We smoked a pipe and drank a toast, though different "kinds"
We shared a dream of hope and love in all our minds
This was the way that I should go

I woke alone, the forest still, with nothing there
I know, am sure, twas not a dream, and witness bear
This was the way that I would go

And you may come, along with me, this path to walk
To love and laugh, forgiving all their unthought talk
This is the way for us to go


It was his song.  They were singing his song.  It would be many hours till he slept.  For this night he would be among friends and share a time of fellowship with those who loved what he loved, valued like him and lived each and every minute of their lives.  He was just where he belonged for this moment of time and he was at peace.
NOT the end

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wisdom of Your Father





HUFF Family:

Identifying with the Lenni-Lenape (Lenni Lenape means "Human Beings" or the "Real People" in the Unami language), often called Delawares by the English, we are of the Turtle Clan and thus our "totem" would be the turtle. 

The turtle is one of natures most interesting creatures being of both water and land. Because of it's great age and slow metabolism the turtle is associated with 
longevity. the turtle can teach us new perceptions of time and for us to slow down and live in harmony with our environment.



Carrying it's home on it's back, the turtle teaches us to minimize possessions keeping only those things that are needful to living. The turtle has amazing survival skills and is attuned to the "vibrations" of it's surroundings and adapts accordingly. 



While his shell provides protection and security, it is needful that he reaches out of his shell in order to function in the world. Venture forth with confidence and stay alert to the dangers around you. This is the message of turtle and the wisdom of your father.




This is part of the legacy I leave you.  Consider and conduct yourself accordingly.

(An aside):  What you think of Karma and some facets of your life being "laid out" before you were ever conceived is of little consequence.  It is evident to me that there is a relationship to being of the turtle clan (of water and land) and being a Marine (of water and land) has always existed in my life.  I'm just saying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


LOME TRIP
24Oct12

Staying at Le Galion located behind German Embassy just a few meters from where I stayed in June.  Half the price and half the room, but fine with me.  Has everything I need and a very friendly dining room where I am allowed to make myself at home and I do.

Just down the street, there next to the truck.

 Found a parking space just outside the gate to the building my room is in and have staked my claim on it.  Security from other businesses keep an eye on it as a courtesy and I am comfortable with parking there.  Another fifty meters in the other direction and I am on the boulevard crossing to the Atlantic Ocean.
 Not really sure if they do much fishing although I have seen them pulling nets when I was here last August.  Yes, that is how they fish.  Just like biblical times, they row out a little ways in the boat dragging the net with them or casting it to one side or the other.  Circling an area to trap the fish in the net many bodies on shore will help to pull the net in.  Fish are taken by hand as the net closes on them near to shore.  Imagine so many fish that your concern is that the net might break and you loose them all, but it does not.
 Not from a storm or any unusual weather, this is normal surf at this part of the Atlantic.  Seems more than I remember from the Miami Beach mornings.  Beach is far from deserted as there are probably fifty people scattered up and down the sand.  Some of them spent the night on the beach while others are just here.  To the South are another fifty or sixty in a loose formation exercising with an instructor.  No, it is not Tai Chi,  Thought at first that it might be......
Sun is already high and not yet 7:00 am


Remember my walk Tuesday morning from the Toyota Dealership CFAO?  This is the hotel dining room where I had breakfast and then adventured through the neighborhood beyond.
Bar New Harlem Forever is across from Pharmacie Forever and just down the boulevard from Agape bakery.
 Jessie Shanks - thought of you when I saw this on door of store in Lome.


Learned that when I discuss something with FB friend it will soon pop up in my life (only good things).  Patisserie is a title that is earned not just taken.  Again, part of my walk took me here and I left with eight bags of "bread".


Typical meal at Le Galion is steak with different sauces.


Remember, I am used to five or six eggs, toast, juice, fruit and COFFEE at home.  This took the edge off but that is all.  Considering how much I am eating at night, a light breakfast is a good thing.    



For those who remember the blog of my trip to Miami in 2010 to get my passport.  i started a "two feet in the......" and have not really done much to keep it up.  Well here are my two feet in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Lome, Togo. West Africa.
.Reminded that the scriptures tell us that God has set a boundary for the oceans and they can go no further than what He allows.  So, it is off to sleep with the surf making surf noises just a football field away.
Good night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Before Noon


Slept well – no dreams – awake at 0500 up at 0530 and on the beach by 0615  Beautiful surf rolling in and sun already high in sky.  Did not go out to look for meteor shower last night and unless it is going on when I leave restaurant for room will miss it tonight. 
Sightseeing in morning traffic was unintentional.  Realized as I passed US Embassy that I ws too far North and needed to u-turn to get back to Toyota dealership.  Msg. Jerome FLEGEAU was as always most helpful and immediately took charge of seeing to replacement of LF headlight, right side mirror and balancing of front tires.  He said it would be done before noon, and it was. He offered his driver to take me where I wanted to go but I elected to walk around.  When I mentioned that I was looking for breakfast he mentioned that while looking at my blog he noticed that I ate native food and suggested a couple of places I might like.  (Ah ha) So that is how he knew I needed left rear window.  He was following my posts on blog.  I am honored.
Left Toyota dealership and walked to Hotel Eda-Oba for buffet style petit déjeuner. 6500 francs CFA is a little steep but worth it for the comfort and atmosphere of quiet and A/C and view of Boulefard and good STRONG coffee.  Omelet natural, Vienna like sausage that tastes like “potted meat” and small fried yams that reminds me of sweet potatoes.  Good STRONG coffee. 
Back on the Boulevard Eyadema and headed North.  Off on side street and the adventure goes onward.  Part of the mystique is that I am a stranger in a strange land and we do not speak each others language.  Still, we communicate.  Will spend the next hour wandering side streets and alleyways, small shops, stalls and street venders. Everything from soup to nuts, figuratively and literally.  Young boy on a bicycle that is to big for him launches himself from a doorway on my left into oncoming traffic and wobbles unsteadily two city blocks to a side street and safety. 
I cross abandoned railroad tracks and am in poorer section of town.  Strange to see ninety thousand dollar land rover pull up and discharge two five or six year old blond boys (Aryan?) at what maybe a day care center while on the other side of this dirt alley way several men work on moto bikes outside of their garage.  A juxtaposition if there is such a word…. 
Following the railroad tracks on to the main boulevard I pass the neighbor hood Pharmacie Forever and the New Harlem Forever Bar.and come upon a sign advertising AGAPE-TOGO featuring Snacks Boulangerie and Patisserie.  Now the snacks and boulangerie I can walk on by.  But, the Patisserie warrant further investigation.  “Center de formaction professionnelle an boulaingerie-patisserie” claims the sign on the door. 
Just inside is a table with six or eight pastries each in plastic bags.  They are fresh this morning and the young lady says 1000 francs each bag..  I buy all eight and give her a 10,000 franc bill.  Thank you, she says.  Says I Hello 8X1 from 10 means you owe me 2.  She counts the bags, nods yes and says she owes me two.  Got to admit, it was worth a try on her part……
On to the Toyota dealership while fending off taxie drivers who are sure that I need their services.  Truck is not quite ready, so I walk next door to have a couple of Indian Tonic’s while waiting.  Notice a Togolese Army man having lunch and then heading to CAFO dealer.  I leave and go down another alleyway looking for a barber who’s sign says 50 meters that way.  Two hundred meters later make a right  another two hundred another two hundred another right and another two hundred back at dealer.  No barber, no haircut. 
Still a few minutes before vehicle ready. While waiting at service area soldier approaches we greet and he points to my Kobalt folding blade in sheath on my belt.  I give him knife and then take sheath off belt and give him knife.  This boggles his mind.  When I show him my challenge coin (Sergeant of Marines) and tell him knife is a gift from one Sergeant to another, he becomes instant friend.  He is Sergeant Chef Sizing Eyo------ and his writing will have to wait for interpretation but he knows my friend Sgt. Gabriel and promises to call me when he next visits Kara.  Mr. Flegeau comments that it appears that I have made another friend, presents me with bill for work on truck, invites me to Marine Corps Birthday celebration next month at embassy and takes Jon’s generator to have a friend of his check it out tomorrow. 
You know for someone who does not speak the language my God interprets very well on my behalf. ALL B4 NOON.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TOGO and why I love her.


MORE OF MY TOGO FAMILY



Tchaa
I know I said I would get her name.......
 You have heard me mention him many times.  Tchaa is my brother and his father, the Chief of his village is my brother also.  Mon Ami.
Tchaa's two little girls.

Tchaa's sister and the new baby


Tchaa, Mazalo, their three girls and Tchaa's sister

Mazalo and baby

This is Bertine

 This is a before and after picture of Bertine's cooking.  She thinks that I am a family of four and cooks accordingly.
This is Christophe, my right hand and interpreter. 
 
 Monday Morning Jules started off my very busy day with an introduction of his wife to be.  They will be getting married November 17th.
Excited about their soon to be marriage.

This is another of those feeding his face pictures.
Stopped at a small local market about five klicks from church and wandered off on my own while the rest of the crew bought yams, peanuts, chicken (live) and a bag of something.....  Speaking of which, the yellow bag hanging from my left hand is some homemade flavored water from ????  The leaf contains the remains of twenty little dough balls fried in oil over a small charcoal fire and seasoned with HOT. (only 5 francs CFA each)  Just finished some larger variation of the same thing at 20 francs CFA each.  Togolese make fun of my eating Togo style, but I think they secretly like it.  They think my attempts to speak Kabye are equally amusing, but they seem to encourage it also.  So far I have not contracted anything from food or mosquitoes.  Praise the Lord.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Property Survey (sort of)



STILL HOUSE HUNTING II


Road from church to property I am looking at for home site.  Took thirty meter measure and went back out Monday morning to get a more realistic picture of what it consisted of.



The road to the house could use a little work, but so could the house.
The living part of it is nine foot by thirty foot and consists of two  rooms.

Under roof is an additional thirty by sixty foot area.

I picture kitchen, patio, bath, lanai and more out here.



The palm tree is to the North of the property and the direction from which you approach on the road running from North to East past the "brick house".  The sun would be coming up on the long open side of it and setting on the long cornfield side.  Already considering how to finish the inside (cement, plaster, tile and a dropped wood ceiling)  An enclosed skylight over booth rooms and double paneled tin roof.  With out zoning to worry about I would be limited only by imagination and the laws of physics.  Have suspended those laws on occasion and would consider doing so again.
This is really "living off the grid".


This is the road back to church and I would consider hiring some kids to cut the grass.  BTW you might remember that a "kid" is a young goat.  It would take a herd to trim this.  Love Togo and most of the JW's do not go door to door out here.  Baptist do and I have walked with them in visitation to invite people to see the "Jesus Film" and hear the gospel preached in real open air meetings.
So much of Togo is like Israel in the time that Jesus walked this earth as a man.  Farming is much like it was 2000 years ago, wells are dug the same and water drawn.  Roads are not as good as Roman but still dusty and washing of feet is needed daily.  People still get from one village to the next by walking and barter is the common coin.

There used to be a radio/TV program in the 50's called "This Was Your Life" and it was a surprise recap of an individuals life complete with significant people from their past.  I am writing an adventure story that is subtitled "James David Huff - This Is Your Life".  I have no idea how many chapters are left in the book nor the manner of exit at the end.  So far it has been and promises to be yet a mystery, thriller, fantasy, historical and emotional tale of one mans journey.   Screen rights are still available with Anthony Hopkins playing the enigmatic Mr. Huff.

Guess this does not help my sanity defense much........  (this from a man whose systolic numbers range from 79 to 158 in a 24 hour period)


"Always wave to the children. 
They will discover soon enough that this World is not always a friendly place.  
I  purpose that they shall not learn it from me."
j d huff

Monday, October 15, 2012

STILL HOUSE HUNTING


STILL HOUSE HUNTING

Sunday morning at the village of Tchandida I took a little walk from church to the property I have been looking at as a possible home.  It is only a few minutes down the "road" and around the "bend".

The corn is about done for this season and the potatoes are planted.
On the trail to the Brick House.

Seen from the road it is not impressive.
 Negotiating for 25X25 meter lot to include building.  (that is about 81 foot frontage and depth)  Bigger than the 8X22 foot home I own stateside.
Up close it is not impressive.

Good thing I am not trying to be impressive.  I do believe it has a lot of potential and picture living/dining/entertaining/den/library/reading/recreation room on right and sleeping area on your left.  Would put kitchen, bath, etc. in outside area.

This is the view from out front.

There is a bird up there somewhere that is welcoming me home and teasing, by hiding from me, at the same time.

Met this neighbor and his dog on my way back to church.  There are no strangers here, just people that you have not yet met.  Politeness and RESPECT are the norm.  Maybe one of the biggest reasons I love Togo and it's people is that word R E S P E C T.


On the way back to Kara I stopped and for this view of the road back to Tchandida.  I love this place.


"Always wave to the children. 
They will discover soon enough that this World is not always a friendly place.  
I  purpose that they shall not learn it from me."
j d huff


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Morning Guests

NO SCHOOL TODAY

It is Saturday morning and four young ladies come to visit.  

Two of Bertine's daughters and two of her sisters girls come to say hello and we share a little treat.  The cakes were appreciated, the juice enjoyed and the ice, well the ice was the best part of it all.  Then on to coloring.


The dog says "Ruff".

The lamb says "Baaa".

The cow and pig "Moo" and "Oink" of course

and the rooster "Cock-a -doodle-doo"

Children everywhere are so much alike and so are the adults.  We just need to take the time to get to know each other.  We all have the same basic needs.  We are all on this rock, flying through space, together.

RULE:  Always wave to the children.  This World is not always a friendly place and I do not want to be the one the children learn that from. I want to be the happy face they remember.....  I'm just saying.

On A Walk Down Memory Lane


I was a guest and sat next to the old man who was at the head of the table.  It was a Thanksgiving meal, probably the last he would be on Earth to eat.  His children sought to honor him and had spared no expense to set a beautiful table.  The china was the best of Noritake and the silver glowed in the candles gleam.  The turkey was ready and all the trimmings.
The old man was radiant in his joy yet looked around as if something was not quite right.  Being closest to him, I leaned toward his place and asked “What is wrong?”
“My plate.” He said, “Where is my plate?”
“It’s here.” I said, “Here at your place.”
“No!” was his soft answer, “MY plate.”
I turned to his son setting next to me and repeated the exchange I had with his father.
“Oh.” He replied as he got up from the table, “How could I have forgotten?”
Bringing and old and chipped plate from the top shelf of the china hutch he exchanged it for the bright new plate before his dad.  “This is dad’s special plate.” He explained, “Ask him to tell you about it.”
I did, and as the meal progressed this is the story the old man shared with me.
When he was first married, one of their wedding gifts was a set of china.  It was pretty but obviously not expensive.  He always thought that it was from the free dishware that was offered with the purchase of a ticket to the Saturday night movie in the small town he grew up in.  They used to do things like that back in the old days and his wife’s parents were frugal re-gifters.  Whatever, the dishes held a special place in their marriage as the first meal his new bride prepared was served to him on this very plate.
“See this chip on the edge, here by the rose.” His old finger traced it with remembrance.  “Katie was washing the dishes when I crept up behind her and wrapped my arms around her.”  “She was so surprised, that the dish slipped out of her hand and back into the soapy water.”  “We did not discover the chip until we finished the dishes much later.”
“And this chip over here.” He continued.  “Someone told me that if you balance a china plate on the tips of the fingers of one hand and strike the edge with a knife, it will ring like a bell if it is good.”  “Never could get this plate to ring and broke off a piece trying.” 
“The china got put away after we started having children and only was used on Thanksgiving.”  Over the years the plate had become cracked and the rose faded and each of the imperfections seemed to hold a special memory for him.  I noticed as he traced a large irregular line the scar from an obviously major break that had been repaired by gluing two pieces together, that a tear was forming in the corner of his eye. 
“Katie was setting the table for Thanksgiving dinner when she had her heart attack.”  “The plate and her hit the floor together and they both broke.” 
“There is no fixing the damage.” He spoke the words softly.  “There is only moving on with life and letting the scars be gentle reminders of what we have survived and what we have shared and what we have become.”
When I left his home that night I took with me a lesson that has changed the way I perceive the damaged things around me.  They all have their own story to tell.  His were fond memories of love.  Some have damage from anger and hate.  Some from the normal wear and tear of life. Listen to them and learn from them, without judgment.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

PICTURE THIS - 002




PICTURE THIS - 002
La Douceur, my special treat for surviving this afternoon’s adventure, has dropped to second choice.  Still has the best atmosphere but seems like by 1900/2000 hrs. ”where’s the beef?” Not here.  Ordered some pork and will see what I get.
Bollywood on TV tonight.  Indian actors don’t speak or move about much.  He strikes a pose, she strikes a pose, and camera switches from one to the other.  Music plays and occasionally the narrator makes a comment.  Continues with minor changes in expression for several minutes and then the credits roll and the show is over.  Have to admit it is better than Steve Urkel……
Party of ten adults and five very well behaved children at the large table.  Three separate couples, one with young boy, occupy the tables to my left.  The rain has stopped and the night air is cool, almost cold.
Party of thirteen came in and only table available seats six.  By combining small round and my table with six and “Voila” we have table four fourteen.  I find that it is fascinating that it is not necessary to speak each other’s language to co-operate in solving a problem.  I move to another table and the dining room is now officially FULL.  If anyone else comes in they must sit with me or on me…..
BTW The table I moved to is the guest of honor table on a raised dais overlooking two thirds of the dining area.  The perfect place for a people watcher, I take full advantage of the opportunity. 
My reward for this day’s accomplishment.  About one in the afternoon I went for a ride on my 150cc Sanya moto-bike.  Having no real destination in mind, I headed south and continued about forty kilometers to what I call “the eye of the needle”, a narrow pass cut into the side of the mountain.  Going down the mountain you pass through with the mountain on your right and a thirty + foot column on your left separating you from the traffic coming up the mountain.  It very much resembles the eye of a needle and is so narrow that some of the trucks coming down the mountain cross over to the oncoming traffic lane in order to negotiate the pass.  A new road, stating about five kilometers further down the mountain, will eliminate this hazard someday.  Meanwhile it is a challenge to round the bend and there it is.  I had to turn around and come back up the mountain and thread it a second time in order to video tape it while riding one handed…
Often times when looking from my upper room I see clouds hung up on the mountain tops. Today I can feel the cold and wetness as one begins to settle on the mountain I am riding on.  A few kilometers later it becomes evident that prudence calls for me to make a u-turn and head home.  By the time I get back to the needle it appears that the mountain top has torn a hole in the bottom of this cloud and all of its water is leaking out on me. 
Between the darkening sky and the downpour I can no longer safely see the potholes and at times the road itself.  Ahead is a large area to the right of the road where truckers can pull over and park when they are tired or like now when visibility is nearing zero.  As I slow down to look for shelter I hear someone yelling off to my left.  Stopping by the side of the road I see that the call is coming from another “biker” parked under a one walled pole shelter about four meters square with a tin roof about six feet off the ground.  Turning about, crossing the road, down an embankment and riding wet into the shelter I am out of the rain.  Kind of.
In better weather this is someone’s booth in the market place.  For now it shelters a strange group in the time of storm.  The other occupants are an old man, a three-year old girl and two young Togolese with their moto-bike and me and mine. 
We soon establish that conversation is not how we will pass the time.  We share a bottle of water amidst the downpour and I take a couple of short videos of the rain and the encroaching flood waters at our feet.  Already soaked, the cold starts to seep in with the breeze off the mountain.  After half an hour the rain seems to have passed.  I say good-bye and ride out through the small pond that has enveloped our shelter and finding an embankment the moto can climb I am back on the road.
Less than two kilometers later the rain returns, only in a more tolerable quantity.  Already cold and wet I am determined to continue as long as I can see where I am going.  Only twenty five kilometers to the traffic circle in Kara and a few more to home.  I can do this. And, I do.
By the time I get to the circle the rain has stopped and even the muddy, potholed, washed out road to the house is a welcome ride at this point.
Home, hot shower, dry clothes, hot coffee and downloading pictures from wet but working camera.
The adventure continues.  Did I mention that I love this place?
In Ecclesiastes Solomon observes that life is short, less than a vapor, in the scheme of eternity and God wants us to L I V E it>  It is not to be wasted, but to be enjoyed as God’s gift to us.  Praise God that after all of the years I have wasted He is allowing me to LIVE and to do it here in Togo, a place that I have come to love.
BTW  Pictures and video of this day’s adventure should be on my blog by morning.  Oh, my supper was a rather large breaded piece of pork, French fries, two Tonics, a cup of very strong black coffee and a vanilla pineapple ice cream dessert.
Good night.



Road Warrior - Togolese children love to see this rider on the road and this rider loves to see them.......
Eye of the needle from the down side.
Way to go.  One hand on the bike and one on the camera
You either make the bendsin the road or you .........
Going back up the mountain, this will be the by-pass that eliminates the needle.

No helmet and no fairing allows you to be intimate with nature.
Very intimate with nature.
Too intimate with nature..
Time to get "on the road again."

Did the thousand words first and then added the pictures anyway.