Life in a Senior Residence Community is challenging and cherished.

Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

What Do We Have Here?

Wednesday evening I joined nine other residents of Friends House at a Home Concert in Vera’s apartment. Barbara and Vera take turns once a month hosting a musical evening. They leave a sign-up sheet in the lobby and because of space, limit the attendance to ten. Each person brings a snack: cheese and crackers, popcorn, Mrs See’s chocolate-covered raisins, salted nuts, apricot-chocolate-nut bread from Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola.

Vera started the CD, turned off the lights, and we sat quietly in the dark submersed in Beethoven’s Piano Quartet, Op 16 (Emanuel Ax, piano; Isaac Stern, violin; Jaime Laredo, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello). After a lilting Vivaldi, we enjoyed the intermission snacks and Vera’s warm apple cider. Then we settled down for Brahms’ Double Concerto with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

I, satiated with chocolate, awash in symphonic music, and surrounded by friends, sat there in the dark and thought of some of the ways in which we here care for each other.

Last week Betsy stopped by to ask if I like parsley. She had a sprig of large flat-leaf  parsley to show me. When I told her yes, she grinned and said, “I’ll pot up some for you and leave it outside your front door.” Next morning, there it was, with all its green vigor.

Charlotte called to me. I stopped pulling weeds and she came over, “I just want you to know I pruned your roses and left some plant food by your faucet. I’m hoping you can feed them.” We’ll have healthy roses this year, one the award-winning Peace Rose.

Marion phoned, “I remembered you said your goal is to walk all the creek paths in Santa Rosa so I called the Chamber of Commerce and asked for a map. They have sent a very good one and we can mark off the areas we want to walk next.” Marion, Nancy, Ruth, Elspeth, and I walk most Saturday mornings.

Ruth knocked and pushed open the door a crack. She called out a yoo-hoo, came in, and sat in the rocking chair. She waved two old-fashioned round cake pans. “I borrowed these from Joanie,” she said, “And I’m going to make a birthday cake for John like his grandmother used to make. Want to come to dinner tomorrow? Do you eat shrimp? We could have scampi.” You bet!

Joe is our computer tutor, a resident who is on call at all reasonable hours. Whenever I have e-trouble, I call Joe and he comes right over, fiddles around, mutters to himself, and then announces, “It’s okay now.” Sometimes I feel that I might be imposing and hesitate to call him, but his wife Joan says he likes helping people. “It’s part of his service,” she says.

I overheard Dorothy, who still drives, saying to Marie, who doesn’t, “I haven’t gone to the market yet today, but I will in a couple of hours so before I leave, I’ll come by to get your list.”

The other day Nancy told me, “I’ve renewed my driver’s license, but it won’t arrive for a few weeks so I can’t drive. Would you take me to the dentist’s office? I’ll walk home afterward.” Of course.

As I passed through the lobby to mail some letters, Sally called out from the wing chair where she waited for friends who were coming to lunch. When they arrived, she took a box from them, handed it to me, and asked, “Would you like to look through my father’s Beatrix Potter books? Mrs Tiggywinkle, Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin. They’re all here.” Little did she know that Beatrix Potter is one of my favorite people; a writer and sheep farmer whose life inspired my dreams of becoming a combination writer-farmer. I brought her father’s books back to my “Rabbit Hutch,” sat in the sunshine, and read and read those treasured little stories.

However, it’s not perfect here. We are bound to have concerns and differing points of view. The rents will increase three to five percent each year. We are worried that no care is available for those with severe memory loss. Maybe that will be included in the proposed expansion plans, which are, in themselves, causing concern.

The grounds crews whack back the shrubs into concentric globes instead of encouraging them to grow naturally.

But multiply the random acts of kindness by 80 residents and we are what I was looking for. A community.

Recognizing Days of Sadness With a Movement Toward Peace

Nine-eleven. December 7, 1941. Dates burned into our consciousness. Attacks on OUR homes, in OUR streets. We remember the  shock. And the wars that followed, the young warriors and innocent civilians who died, and we commemorate the dates.

Another date that should be equally remembered and recognized: September 21, International Day of Peace. A day dreamed by one young man, Jeremy Giles, of cease fire on the war-front and non-violence on the home-front. Now a United Nations designated day of peace.  How shall we honor September 21st?

I’ll be in Mendocino with my tent mate from the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament and she will be with me, at the Gallery Bookstore, as  I read from my book about that 1986 historic walk from LA to NYC to DC.

What will YOU do to on the upcoming Day of Peace?

International Day of Peace

Did you know that there is an International Day of Peace? I had noticed that some of my calendars note it, but generally not. One young man, Jeremy Gilley, with vision and determination, has convinced the United Nations to pass resolution 55/282 to declare September 21 International Day of Peace, a day of cease fire and non-violence. Peace on the war-front and peace in homes and hearts. (more…)

How Dancing Just Might Bring Peace to the World

A young man with an idea, Matt Harding dances with groups of randomly assembled people all over the world. It isn’t expert dancing, just for fun.

One man (and his camera crew) traveling to every corner of the world, just dancing. He doesn’t try to change anyone nor anyone’s politics, but dances with respect, coordination, cooperation, soul,  humanity and willingness.  One person, making a difference. Matt is showing us peace at its best. (more…)

My Trip to Washington, DC (the reason I’ve been neglecting my blog!)

Last weekend, daughter-in-law Holly and I flew to Washington, DC, to visit her daughter. Jenny is poised, graceful, 21 and over-the-moon happy to be in DC. (“We don’t call it Washington, Gran. Washington is a state in the northwest. We here are in DC!”…oh.)  She has an internship with National Geographic. (“Everyone here calls it Nat Geo.”…oh.) As a photography major at Cal Poly, Jenny is in her element working with photos for the kids’ “Nat Geo” magazine. Holly and I followed Jenny from one neighborhood to the next, through the intricacies of the metro and enjoyed eating at her favorite restaurants – everything that she discovered in the past month she’s lived in our Capital.

We took the metro to a station near Capital Hill and walked the few blocks up to the Library of Congress. The Thomas Jefferson building is the perfect demonstration of Italian Renaissance architecture, from the fountain of Zeus and Neptune to the pillars, mosaics and painted ceilings. A docent led us through the highlights, explained the endless symbolism and described the history of the library. We learned that it is called the Library of Congress because Thomas Jefferson thought all congressional representatives needed access to resource books on every possible subject. So today, 838 miles of shelves hold two copies of almost every book published in the United States. Two of my books, Tell Me a Story and Walking for Our Lives, are somewhere in those 838 miles. (more…)

Occupy the Highway vs Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament

As I watch Occupy Wall Street participants march from New York to Washington DC, I recall vividly the walk we on the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament did twenty five years ago. It was cold in November with drenching rain that flooded our campsites in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. But we trooped along, buoyant and cheerful, determined, confident after more than eight months on the road.

A two-week walk of 240 miles is just as significant today as we were then. I believe that the dozen or so Occupy marchers who left New York will be joined by other hopeful people – a variety of folks who gain courage from the core group  and are willing to join a cause larger than themselves to speak up. (more…)

May Peace Prevail on Earth

As a constant reminder, I’ve put a peace pole in my garden. People who come to walk the labyrinth, sometimes called a Temple of Peace, will see it, pause, and send prayers for peace. Its presence brings a deep sigh of serenity  to everyone who sees it.

Lovely to look at, it is redwood, six feet tall, with copper plates on four sides inscribed, May Peace Prevail on Earth, in four languages: Spanish, Russian, Chinese, English. I know it may not affect politicians in Washington, but for that, I’m sending a copy of my book, Walking for Our Lives, to Michelle Obama. (more…)

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