I know — it's been almost a month since the last column, but a variety of things have intervened and I have not pushed myself as much as usual — it doesn't pay. But here we are — and it's October! Going outside, you wouldn't know it; July and August all over again. The cats and I would just as lief do nothing! But here's a thought:
I've long forgotten what it's like to run ...
My cane and I can race a snail that's hurrying,
We're careful where our tripod steps are planted,
Not taking any forward moves for granted.
We'll give old leaves their gossiping and scurrying —
We've better stories when the telling's done.
This comes from a back-and-forthing I've been having with old friend and poet Jim Turner. I'm learning a lot from him; he writes poetry, I write verse.
A retired friend of mine has come up with what I think is a marvelous idea for Christmas gifts for his grown grandchildren. He sends each of them several books he thinks they need to read, classic fiction and current history. He finds the best sources are the Friends of the Library book store and Tom's Used Books. I think this is an excellent idea for grandchildren of any age, once they can read. And reading — of real live books — should be begun early and encouraged mightily!
And speaking of the Friends' bookstore, go in and admire the beautiful hardwood desk given by Bud Sullivan's granddaughter, Stacey Hemminger. The family also gave the library 100 of Bud's books. It's nice to have these tangible remembrances of a man who did so much for the library.
Another claim to fame! Lodi's well-known jazzman, Bob Romans, had one of his Cell Block Seven CDs played on Australian radio not long ago. Now Lodi's music, along with Lodi's wines, is getting known in foreign parts.
Another friend — and faithful computer guru — Greg Walther is also exporting, locally, something of value to our community. Periodically, he emails warning tips and messages about evils which might befall computers and how to avoid these perils. He should know — he's been in the business for 15 years. If you want these helps, Greg's email is email@example.com.
Here's one that begs for explanation. A recent writing referred to Romney's "gaff," a much-discussed awkward remark — or so the mainstream press opines. The writer had it wrong: a spoken or written awkward or inept remark, or any kind of a faux pas, is a "gaffe," a French word. A gaff is a pole with an iron hook on it for landing large fish. Quite a difference!
And now to something that has been on my mind ever since 9/11. Mark Twain said it: "Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Kindness and concern for each other was the general theme of remarks and prayers spoken by the pastors of a variety of Lodi's many churches at our local observance of Patriot Day: Episcopal, Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, LDS, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Big Valley Bible and Salvation Army.
I think it is important that this theme be carried out in every community in the country, and given a tangible reminder on Patriot Day every year. This is one good way to ensure a united front against the multiple dangers that threaten the United States from several directions.
The general program, put together so well by Rabbi Dr. Raphael Pazo, included a touch of the military (color guard, "Taps" and a gun salute), a remembrance of the sirens of the rescue teams at the devastated sites, and an ecumenical service to remind us where this country's real strength comes from. Members of Lodi's Police Department and American Legion Post 22 took part in the program, as did Ed Stewart Legion Post from Stockton. Unfortunately, the Fire Department and several major churches in town had other obligations and could not be there.
Observation of the day continued last year's program put together by Pastor Mark Price of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, but I think the basic theme has undergone a change from simply remembering the events of the 2001 attack to emphasizing how the whole country came together for a time, the way it did in WWII. We haven't experienced that feeling and attitude very much since then, and it's important that we do.
While there weren't too many of the general public attending, it was heartening to see Mayor JoAnne Mounce, Couincilman Bob Johnson, Chief of Police Mark Helms, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer, City Clerk Randi Johl and Delta College Trustee Taj Khan.
I hope that Lodi finds Sept. 11, Patriot Day, as important as the dates of the Street Faires, the Farmers Market, the Parade of Lights and other local eventful days, and marks continuing ecumenical services down on the city and Chamber of Commerce calendars. After all, we have had some recent reminders that other areas of the world have really marked it down — in fire, anger, and destruction.
"So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind;
When just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs." — Anon.
Gwin Paden may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.