Why visit Bayliss?

When you enter Bayliss, population 402, you’ll see no sign announcing a town. No speed zones, no cluster of shops, no factories. Amid the farms and private homes, only one building stands out. The Bayliss library. It’s stood along the road for a century, and this Saturday, June 24, 2017, it is surrounded by a huge outdoor crowd, there to celebrate.

Behind the library are various speakers, including politicians from both major parties. There are major and minor librarians. There are the Chico Area Orchestra in red shirts and black pants, and a Mennonite choir.

Along one side of the building you can buy home-made ice cream, berry pies, hotdogs, and boxes of library books.

On the other side of the library, under sun shades and on a dense lawn backed by a high hedge of trumpet vine, you can find Author Row, and me. Predicted temperature for that day is 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Situated as we are on the lawn, however, we are blessed by natural evaporative cooling. I sit there with my husband at our table and feel a cool breeze, mixed with an occasional warm breath. That means the temperature is in the upper nineties. Comfortable. Merciful.

There’s a lot of activity on the other side of the library as families examine books and eat goodies.

On our side, much less activity visits Author Row. I listen to a plane either dusting crops or planting. The hedge is too high to see it. Not far away, a rooster crows. A sparrow flies worms or insects to its nest in a tree. A hummingbird checks out the red geraniums and yellow chrysanthemums beside the library steps. The speakers in back are too far away to hear, but the excellent band plays catchy tunes from the Big Band Era.

There is an old-fashioned picnic feel among these outdoor activities. I take a few moments to venture inside the library where a table takes up a big part of the interior and displays three cakes in patriotic frosting for the centennial. The cake is free for the eating. And what I take for a standard size dictionary is really a box of bookworms, gummy candy, also free.

With all the library books for sale, I don’t expect to sell anything. I give out bookmarks that show my book covers and how to reach me. I’ve laid a braid from when I had long hair near a novella, the braid I used in its cover. I prop up a drawing of a dragon I used in a science fantasy book cover. So the remarks come.

“Are you the author of all these books?’

My name tag says I am.

‘Is this your hair?”

Yep.

“Oh, I like dragons.”

Me, too.

“I love nature. I have this preying mantis egg case. Do you know when they hatch?”

Summer.

Good conversations. Promises. No sales. Connections with other writers. And a visit to a century-old rural library.

The Climate March

Friday’s email told me a climate march would take place in Chico the next day. On such short notice, I wondered if many people would turn out. I arrived at the fish fountain in front of the municipal building on time, and saw three people, working on signs.

“Is this the right place? Are we having a march today? Where are the thousands of people?”

They were expecting their leader from 350 Chico, a local climate watch organization that had planned the march.

Gradually people showed up, mostly college aged, but also an older woman in a walker from a weekly peace vigil down the street, a man in a wheelchair, a homeless woman, and a college professor. The grand entry of a family of five, all bearing signs, was a real spirit lifter–not that spirits were low. We had plenty of signs, and eventually we numbered 30, not enough to march. Instead we lined both sides of the street where we bobbed signs and waved at passing vehicles.

The father of the family had promised his bathing suit clad kids a run in the plaza’s fountain afterwards. Meanwhile the daughter, Genevieve, who appeared to be eight years old, threw herself into leaping and dancing and yelling slogans and lectures nonstop. Traffic or none. It was fun watching her, so beautiful and athletic.

As drivers waved, gave us thumbs up, or honked, we answered with whoops. Woo-hoo! About 35% responded positively to us. Only three were negative. One guy farted black smoke out of his pickup’s tailpipe. Another gave a thumbs down. The third yelled “fuck you” with a dirty gesture. At that, words flew out of my mouth, “Jesus loves you!” Which earned me a surprised look from another sign bearer.

Did the insulter hear me? Possibly.

I thought about Trump who professes to be a Christian but acts like the devil. But then I thought, this rude guy who drove by is loved. And it’s out of love for our planet, ourselves, and our future generations that we are demonstrating…to save all life, and yes, even the lives of those who resist us. Our children and our children’s children want to live. Shouldn’t we give them that chance? We must.

Despair is no excuse for inactivity. The remedy for despair is to act. As long as there remains a shred of democracy, we can act peacefully–through the vote, through petitions, through contacting our representatives in the government, through writing articles, and even through prayer. Should our democracy completely disappear, where checks and balances no longer exist, where votes, petitions, and other peaceful protests are no longer allowed and our voices are silenced, only then would our protests turn violent.

The Earth Day March

Across the world, people marched to celebrate Earth Day and to call attention to our planet’s needs and the role of science in our lives. Many marched in rain or snow.

The weather in California was balmy. Neither too hot nor too cold. We met on the university campus at what was called the free speech area in the 1960s. Today it goes by a more neutral name. Tables of exhibits adorned the area, illustrating a variety of topics, from brewing to solar ovens to natural history to…well, you name it. Even so, the display of topics could barely touch how much we depend on science and a healthy planet for our daily needs. A few short speeches prepared us, with the mayor reminding us that Republicans weren’t originally against science, having introduced among such things as the Environmental Protection Agency.

We took up our signs and according to instructions, marched on the right-hand sidewalks, giving respect to traffic lights. Some drivers passed, tooting their approval. One guy stopped at the red light and played his horn to the tune of Tequila. I estimate about 500 of us took to the sidewalks with our signs, so it took us about an hour to march, which increased our public exposure. Some wore costumes, the like of which I’ve never seen. One was a balloon dinosaur with a marcher inside. Another was an eight-foot tall mother earth figure. I expect the person inside must have held her up with a stake. My favorite was a guy in medieval chain mail with a metal helmet. His sign said we must not go back to the dark ages.

The signs were clever. The spirit was cheery. The intent was serious. Men, women, and children–and a few dogs took part. A perfect day for a march and with hope that we can make a difference.

Celebrating Presidents and Black History

George Washington could have been a dictator. Instead he chose to be president and to serve a limited term. Thus he set the model for all presidents who followed him, lending a sacredness to the to…

Source: Celebrating Presidents and Black History

Celebrating Presidents and Black History

George Washington could have been a dictator. Instead he chose to be president and to serve a limited term. Thus he set the model for all presidents who followed him, lending a sacredness to the top office of the land. Some who have followed have sullied the office. Others have heightened the awe in which we view this position. Abraham Lincoln is one of our historic heroes. In his day, he listened to and was influenced by Fredrick Douglass, who pushed for civil rights. Freedom, however imperfect, followed. It was a great step in the right direction.

A hundred years later, Martin Luther King, in his push for civil rights, influenced John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Again, freedom was advanced.

I look at the faces of those who stood before MLK when he gave his great speech. And I see these people as, well, people.

I am white. Yet there is a connection with these people. It goes beyond the rainbow branches of my family. It goes beyond my nephew, years ago, regarding the boxes in his college application papers and trying to decide which one to check. White? Black? Chicano? Native American? Asian?…

This quandary of choices is not unusual. There are no stereotypes. The rainbow effect of our unity and blending adds richness, depth, knowledge, beauty.

I look at the faces of those who joined MLK in his march for freedom and think of how these wonderful people can teach all of us to fight peacefully and stubbornly to preserve and enhance our civil rights, our securities and protections, our freedoms. We are all brothers and sisters in this together. We are the tremendous force for good in our country. May we stand together, in peace and in love.

My Soul Mate, My Valentine

It would take a book to tell of my love. I’ll share some highlights: Grayson thinks we might have first met when he saw me repairing the siding on my mobile home during a gale. (To the rescue…

Source: My Soul Mate, My Valentine

My Soul Mate, My Valentine

It would take a book to tell of my love. I’ll share some highlights:

Grayson thinks we might have first met when he saw me repairing the siding on my mobile home during a gale. (To the rescue.) “Here, let me help you.”

I saw a man near my age, no more than three inches taller (which is short), black hair with a slight streak of white down the middle. He had a Mediterranean build, a powerhouse without the bulk.

(I don’t need any help, but…) “Sure.”

We worked together, guaranteeing not even a hurricane would rip the siding off.

***

In August I heard of the corn maze. Sounded like fun, but who could I invite to accompany me on so childish a venture? Then I saw Grayson. (I know this is silly but…) “Would you like to go through the corn maze with me?”

“I’d love to.”

He found me interesting.

***

Nevertheless…

A lady I considered a friend, grew jealous of me and Grayson. There was nothing to our relationship but she claimed to love him, claimed they would be married. Grayson knew all she wanted was a servant, and he was dating a nurse, his fiance. My ex friend insisted I was going with Grayson, so she sought ways to punish both him and me.

Meanwhile Grayson had back problems. His fiance took him in for surgery and dropped him off–with a dear John letter. When hardships descend, you find out who your friends are.

My ex friend’s punishment stayed on target.

(Knight in shining armor to the rescue.) “Will you marry me?”

“No.” (Nice offer, but not a good reason for marriage.)

Still he did protect me from her, and gradually we grew closer.

“Will you marry me?”

(Not that close.)

As time flowed, we found ourselves speaking each others thoughts, finishing each others sentences. A visit to the corn maze brought new rules. Turn always in the same direction, and at the end of each cul de sac, hug and kiss. Yep, we were getting closer, more a spiritual matchmaking. And yet, he was lusty and outgoing. I was reserved and introverted. Was something wrong with me, with him?

I read Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, a book that tells about different personality types. It turned out that I was quite normal for my type and he was normal for his. It also said that my type was drawn to his type for his ebullience.

Okay, I was ready. He brought me a big egg, solid chocolate. Inserted in one side was an engagement ring. I plucked the ring out, licked it clean, and slipped it onto my finger.

***

Two years seem just about right for getting to know each other. And we made an agreement. We will not try to change each other. We will not interfere with each others freedom. After all, we were both in our 60s. Grayson was a widower who needed to be married. I had never been married because I valued freedom and truth. Easy agreement. We were buddies, pals, best friends, soul mates.

In August we swept into the courthouse to get a license. The sheriff, all smiles, said we could get married immediately. It so happened the tax collector was available. The event seemed to brighten everyone’s day. We were buddies, pals, best friends, soul mates, and married.

Grayson, ever the romantic, wanted me to be married in the church. So in April, as close to Valentine’s Day as possible, we celebrated in a lovely chapel, filled with relatives. Instead of rice, everyone blew bubbles. Cleaner, more fun, and magical.

“Aren’t you excited?” someone commented.

“No, but I’m comfortable.”

Each day, my soul mate continues to woo me.

“Love you.”

“Love you, too, three and four, and even more.”

***

And then there’s Angus.

Grayson wanted a dog, so we visited the Humane Society. Amid all the yapping and barking, there remained one who was silent. He looked at us with eyes the color of tiger eye. Grayson saw pure love and made a connection. Angus, they said, was the strongest dog there, but he only had three legs.

“What difference does that make?” Grayson said.

He wanted a companion dog, not a hunting dog. So we brought a shiny black English Labrador home.

He soon proved his love, his strength, and his worth. When Grayson developed vertigo and fell, Angus would leap forward to cushion his fall. Then he would work to get Grayson up.

Angus barks at strangers but never at someone he’s met once. He loves everyone, except cats. Ah, well. No one’s perfect.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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