A MINI-JOURNAL

Golf and Sadness

Today is December 2, and I played golf in Wyoming. Yes, that’s right! Of course, I only played a couple of holes in the 60 degree, dry weather, as I needed to get home in time to see my Denver Broncos interact with some of their peers. During NFL season, most of my weekend activities are scheduled around the Broncos’ game schedule, and woe! to the person who interferes with that devotion.

I thought briefly of calling one of my usual golf partners, a fellow I had seen Friday at a high school basketball game, and who told me that he had played golf two days this past week. However, I decided that since I wasn’t going to play a full round, and that he also would want to watch  the  Broncos’ game, I’d wait until later in the week when he had suggested that we should plan on playing some more.

Unfortunately, that won’t happen. My friend passed away suddenly and very unexpectedly last night after attending a UW basketball game in Laramie. At times like this, we ask the question, “Why?” and try to understand, but never attain true closure. I personally cannot attribute such events to “Destiny”, or refer their occurrence to the whims of a Deity; those are merely attempts to achieve some finality so that Omar Khayyam’s Moving Finger, Having Writ, may move on. And I shall.

Booze

Yesterday saw a major event occurring in Kirby, Wyoming, a small (pop. 52) town 12 miles north of my town, Thermopolis (pop. 3200). Five years ago, a small group of entrepreneurs decided that Wyoming needed a distillery, and they embarked upon a project to establish such a venture. They chose a location where they could easily assemble all the agricultural materials necessary, and which offered available land at a reasonable cost. Artesian water was piped from a town 50 miles away; the only other non-local major elements included oak barrels from Kentucky (we have no oak trees in Wyoming) and bottles made from a special glass only produced in Mexico. Master distillers and experienced professionals were brought in from Kentucky and the United Kingdom, to produce what is hoped to be a highly smooth, prize-winning  bourbon under the name, “Wyoming Whiskey”. December 1, 2012 was designated as the date upon which the first batch of the aged, 4-year old bourbon would be available for sale, and a big event was planned which included not only the Governor speaking (his brother is one of the principals) after doing a flyover in the State Plane, but also several thousand persons willing to stand in line for up to five hours to have the opportunity to purchase some of this local ambrosia.

I volunteered to help, and spent nine hours placing various numbers of bottled whiskey in bags and cardboard boxes as enthusiastic shoppers filed through the gift shop in regulated numbers to make their purchases. Folks who had followed the progress of the project over the several years of development, and who may have been investors, were initially allowed to buy up to four bottles each; the rest of us were limited early on, to 3. As the supply began to dwindle, those numbers were reduced to 3 and 2, respectively. As I looked out the window at the line of shoppers, only a slightly longer one than the one outside of the PortaPotties, I thought I was seeing the tail end of the Florida voters still waiting at the polls.

The first bottle is being kept for display; others among the first five were being auctioned. I happened to be near the cash register when the buyer of #3 brought his $6000; the object itself was encased in a beautiful wooden box and identified with special numbers. The two bottles I purchased, at $45 each, have the bottling date (Nov. 10, 2012) and the batch I.D. (“batch #1) written on the label. My understanding is that there will only be about four or five batches produced each year, of around 1500 barrels each. All of the first batch were sold to retail outlets throughout the state, allegedly within four hours! I no longer consume hard liquor, but I did have a taste and it is indeed as smooth as I was told. I also put my name on a waiting list to buy one of the barrels after it is emptied.

Health and Well-Being

My nine hours of volunteerism took their toll on my legs; the CIDP held up fairly well but culminated in aches and fatigue in the feet and upper legs. I am continuing my experiment with Alpha Lipoic Acid, increasing the daily dose by 50% beginning today. I was contacted by the U. of Utah Neuropathy Center, and they are to call me this week for a date in January when I travel to Salt Lake City for some further testing and possible treatment recommendations. In the meantime, I’m continuing my physical therapy to try and maintain my leg strength and regain some of my balance. At times, I appear to have been drinking too much of that Wyoming Whiskey, as I can’t consistently walk a straight line. I of course was pleased to learn that CIDP is rare; I would hate to have some commonplace ailment. However, I don’t like the phrase, “no cure”, associated with the diagnosis. While I consider myself a “Progressive” politically, I don’t like that term linked to any disease I might have.

I did, however, get some good news. I had some polyps removed from the digestive system in areas related to Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition; not only was the biopsy negative but the symptoms of the condition have disappeared. I get checked again in three years.

The only other major health problem I have is trying to keep my right hand from twitching just before I strike the ball while playing golf. This malady contributed significantly in my achieving the highest score I’ve had since beginning the sport at age 12. I had a 56 on nine holes, in Sedona, AZ; this followed a 95 in Phoenix for 18. I guess my mind must still have been on my son’s wedding two days earlier, or perhaps on the bills coming in soon, related to that event.

Nature and the Creator

Recently I read an excellent blog article in which the author eloquently expressed her beliefs regarding the link between one’s ability to internalize enjoyment of Nature as it is included within her personal commitment to a Supreme Being. I admire her greatly for her degree of commitment to her Islamic faith, and to her dynamic focus of her life and that of her family upon its principles. Too often, folks indicate an allegiance to some form of religion, yet ignore its foundation as they go about their everyday lives.

“Nature can elicit the calm comfort of a mosque, or other holy site of worship, but some may confuse their appreciation of nature for an object of worship, rather than nature’s Creator. Ancient people were noted for idolizing the sun, moon, stars, elements of water and fire, and even some modern day folks choose similarly without the logical conclusion that the Creator is responsible for the genesis of the universe and its contents.” (Blog, “It’s a Halal Life”).

To me, this conclusion is “logical” only if one believes that the Creator is an entity that purposefully “creates”; it is in fact no more logical to me than the idolizing the writer projects upon the ancients. Some of us find contentment in “just being” as a part of The Grand Scheme of things, and do not need some man-conceived element, i.e. The Creator, to be the source of that satisfaction. However, from her deep sense of her faith and commitment to her Allah, her perspective is accurate as it would be to any individual who shares such a strong communion with a Deity.

She goes on to say, “We, having some of the attributes of the Divine Being, also have the responsibility to honor our unique status among those created. We can differentiate ourselves from haughtily claiming ourselves to be the Divine because we cannot only revel in the wonders of nature, we can also fear and be overwhelmed by it. Recent reminders are the effects of hurricane Sandy, our frustrated feeling of helplessness when we are ill, or when we wish well for someone struggling but lack the power to help them. In all these situations though, it can assuage the soul to know that the Earth is a mosque, any place is amenable to worshipping and connecting to one’s Creator “

This remark uncannily reflects something I read 50 years ago as I recall an observation made by the anthropologist Ralph Linton, in one of his books about Culture—He said something to the effect that “quite regularly Man begins to think that “he IS God”, then Nature rises up and smacks him down once again”—such as Sandy, Katrina, Joplin, Japan Tsunamis, et. al.  At the same time, I do not imagine a personified Creator, I conceive some all-pervasive, eternal firmament infused with energy which we share in each of us, and in which we persist even after our physical selves are no longer alive. At that point, we are merged back into “The Whole” and continue to seek to understand that elusive concept of the Universe; in an earlier blog I referred to this as “The Life Force” for want of a better term. I remember my first really religious experience; I was an Astronomy major in college, and one winter night I was peering into the heart of the Orion Nebula, and for the first time in my life I felt, in toto, to be engulfed as a part of the Universe and everything it represents. From that moment on, I have developed a deep and personal relationship with the Infinite, and am content.

ABH!      TOY!

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