Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Monday, July 31, 2017

Back to Basics

The Chateau at Oregon Caves
Pings, chimes, catchy tunes, and wonky noises – our days are filled with constant audible notifications. Vibrations from our phones, Facebook, email, and calendars alert us, interrupt concentration and prod us to do something or go somewhere. We are always in demand. There’s a cure for that.

Recently, Judy and I experienced several days of peace and quiet, time off the grid. For our annual getaway, the “birthday jaunt,” we visited Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. 

This slice of tranquility sits in the Siskiyous southeast of Cave Junction at the top of a 45-minute, breath-catching, great-for-motorcycling road. As the ranger said, “It’s a commitment.” Not just a joy ride. Well, unless you’re actually on a motorcycle.

Wi-fi is not available to visitors. Cell phone service is spotty. A sign on the desk at the Chateau reads: "The worst cell phone service in the world delivers the best nature service in the world." Since we'd be using our phones for photography, we put them in Airplane mode. I even silenced mine so I wouldn’t hear the photo click.

Except when Ranger Hope Turner spoke, or someone our group asked questions, it was silent inside the cool caves, which have a constant 44 F temperature. To give us the full effect, she turned out all the lights at one point, and we were suspended in nothingness. No sound, no light. She told us about the cave insects. It was fascinating, and a bit creepy, to think of “life” going on, and thriving, in total darkness.
Covered bridge on No Name Trail

Judy and I did two surface hikes, the No Name and the Big Tree Loop trails. They took us through aromatic fir forests with groves of madrone, moss-covered rocks, fallen tree stumps, lacy ferns, and gurgling streams. Many folks were on the mountain, but we had the trails to ourselves. Nature’s sounds engulfed and delighted us -- the rush of the River Styx, the creeks, and the waterfalls. The birds’ calls and songs, and scampering noises of small animals on the forest floor surrounded us.

On the Big Tree Loop Trail
Deer families of three and four emerged at night, nibbling their way around the edges of areas that had a short time before been populated with park visitors.

In the Chateau, the spacious guest rooms have no televisions or telephones. We slept two nights under hand-made quilts and down comforters, our windows open to the fresh mountain air and the sound of the waterfall across the parking area.

We observed scenes that threw back to the early days of the 1930s when the Chateau was built. Travelers came and went or sat in period furniture in the grand lobby, reading, writing, or conversing over drinks. The sound of the baby grand piano brought back many memories as a young man played renditions of standards and show tunes during the afternoon.

Coffee shop specialty
In the game room, children and parents became immersed in old-fashioned board games and older kids read to their younger brothers and sisters. Muted dining room music featured songs from the 30s and 40s. The coffee shop with its long counters and red-upholstered swivel stools reflected a time when life was slower with fewer interruptions.

Before departing we took a last walk for a short distance on the No Name Trail to capture some photos in a different light. Feeling renewed, we savored the view of the neighboring mountains and the sounds of nature that we’d been part of for our time at Oregon Caves. Then made our way down the twisty mountain road and back to civilization, our phones still silenced.

~ xoA ~

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Action is the Antidote

“Call to Action!”

When those three words pop up in an email or a Facebook post, I am ready to devour the message and see what I can do. Taking action means I am doing something positive to help reduce or erase a problem or situation. Taking action means I am not helpless or powerless.

Last weekend, I got up from my computer and took action, marching with Inaugurate Compassion, a group that was organized and galvanized on Facebook.  Our march was a “Peaceful action of compassionate solidarity with the causes and communities under duress in the emerging political climate.”

It took place in downtown Bakersfield from a parking lot on L Street to the Liberty Bell in front of the courthouse. Approximately two hundred folks took part, all of us concerned about the welfare of our community and the impending forecast for the direction our nation is heading. Because of the solidarity shown and the speeches by spokespersons of compassionate community organizations, my heart was lightened and my spirits buoyed. I’d become filled with ideas of additional ways to take action.

Sometimes we forget it is still our country. WE, the people. As last Saturday’s rally crowd chanted, “The people, united, can never be divided.” We’ve believed that before. That’s how we got to be the United States of America.

It’s still true today. Activists, patriots, have never forgotten this even though many of the rest of us got comfy and sat back, rested on our own laurels and enjoyed the privileges others fought for on the front lines. I sure did.

Taking action is a good thing, an invigorating thing. We feel less helpless if we can DO something. So much is happening in our country and world we can’t sit still and complain or stick our heads in the sand. It’s our job as citizens to act.

What can I do, you ask? Help out with seniors, foster youth, homeless people, or your family members who may be struggling. Support businesses and products that reflect your values. Resist tyranny, the unrestrained exercise or abuse of power. Call and write your government representatives and officials --  local, state, and national –- and tell them what you, their constituent, want them to do. Voice your opinion in letters to the editor of your newspaper. Be a good neighbor. 

Get involved in your neighborhood school.  Your kids are grown or don’t live in your city? No matter; you will be living in the society run by those kids who are now in school. It’s in your best interest to help insure their academic success. Volunteer to read with kids, tutor in math, or share your life experience in a classroom.

Many things are out of our control. But we do have control over what we will do to help preserve our democracy and make our country and world places where every person has a chance to live and thrive.

 “It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.  Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title:  Citizen.” Barack Obama, in his farewell address to the American people, January 10, 2017.

We are all responsible. What can you do? One resource I find helpful is Wall-of-Us

~ xoA ~