Sunday, March 27, 2016

Photo-of-the-Week #256 – Far From The Maddening Crowd. Sonoran Desert, Quartzsite, Arizona March 2015

Ah! Sweet memories. Just a little over a year ago, this was my location. I was staying on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in one tiny segment of the Sonoran Desert. In the distance, at night, you could see the lights from the small town of Quartzsite. Otherwise, this was a peaceful place in the middle of a lot of desert territory away from the congestion of larger towns and cities.

I wasn't actually alone. There were folks camping throughout this and other BLM territories all over this region of the country. In this area, there were five other folks in residency. There were four women and one other man. We each chose a small parcel of land and left enough space between each party to provide the privacy we each cherished. Yet, we were close enough that we could easily gather around a campfire at night and even share an occasional communal meal.

You could almost say we had our cake and could eat it, too. That's really a big part of this kind of alternative lifestyle. Each person had a different educational, occupational/professional and spiritual background. Each lived with different financial means. Each brought unique skill sets to the table and shared them as they might help another member of this ragtag, informal, unlikely crew. Different interests and different origins from different parts of the U.S. Yet, at this one time, drawn together for this short period to this small commune. And then . . . we'd scatter in different directions.

The rules were simple. Each to his own, except when invited or inviting to share time, resources, conversation, meals, humor, knowledge, wisdom and skills with one or more of the others. Each member of this spontaneous, temporary commune was self-sufficient and didn't require the others, but it was nice to have some social camaraderie.

The words commune, community and even communism all have their origin in the English, French and Latin words meaning common. Communes and communities are basically more social forms of groupings for certain common interests of those living within the social structure.

Communes are, by their nature, smaller groups of people, generally with reasonably close and common interests. They share the living experience and typically each contributes voluntarily to the group based on their talents and skills.

Communities are similar, but generally larger, usually more diverse and more structured. They typically have a much more defined hierarchy of leadership with more defined rules, codes and laws to, a generally accepted degree, benefit everyone in the community.

Communism is, again, similar, but different. Communism as envisioned and expounded by Karl Marx is both a social AND an economic system. It basically doesn't recognize the individual rights of anyone. Everyone is the same. Everyone is supposedly equal. No one owns anything. Everything is owned by the central authority or government, if you will. While the most basic premise seems Utopian in theory, in practice, it's oppressive and repressive. A small elite group controls everything and everyone, supposedly for the “greater good.” As most everyone has witnessed, communism doesn't work.

I have a group of friends in my former hometown in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We are all single, mostly divorced, some widowed. On several occasions, because we enjoyed each others' company, we had deep discussions about forming our own commune. While we were diverse educationally, professionally, financially, spiritually and we each came from different parts of the U.S. originally, we genuinely liked one another. We had even traveled and lived communally for a week at a time on several occasions. Some of the group did some serious research on the concept.

It never manifest in an actual plan. While we could agree on most facets of creating such a commune, there was at least one big issue we couldn't resolve . . . location. If the members of the group were going to give up what they had to become a member of this small association (we envisioned not more than, perhaps, 12 people), everyone wanted it to be in a place each dreamed of living. Some wanted to be near the ocean. Some wanted to be in a rural area. Some wanted to live in the mountains. Some preferred a lake setting. Thus, this seemingly, almost perfect dream never came about.

That's the beauty of what this week's photo-of-the-week represents to me. I can be part of a small commune of reasonably like minded individuals I can relate with. And, then two weeks later be by myself somewhere or part of a different communal group. Many thanks to the folks I shared this time with for including me and for the friendship. And, many thanks to the people in other small communal groups I've been included in. I look forward to more opportunities in the future to share communal time with all of you.

As an aside, I'm putting together an addition to My McVansion. Last year I had to wait for the sun to move to lower positions in the sky to cast some shade. Shade is especially useful on very bright, hot days. So, this year, I'm adding a nice canopy to the right side of the van. It will provide shade from the sun and shelter from damp, rainy days all day from sun up to sun down. One is always working at improving their home and that's true for vandwellers and RVers as well. Live free and be happy. EH

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Photo-of-the-Week #255 There Is Something About Water, Lake Murray, Chapin, South Carolina, May 2010

There is something about water that draws me to it. I'm not a fisherman, though I've done a little fishing. I'm not a huge water sports person, though I've swam, surfed, body surfed, snorkeled, scuba dived, water skied and done some boating. I enjoy oceans, gulfs, lakes - great and small, ponds, rivers - large and small, brooks and creeks and even swimming pools and hot tubs.

I'm not sure, but I believe all humans are drawn to water. Perhaps, it' s because our beginnings go back to the primordial soup (waters) where all life began. And, of course, water is absolutely essential to our existence considering water makes up about 60% of the adult human body with some variations based on the time of the month and the gender.

At any rate, I love mountains. I love lush green forests. I love beautiful green fields. I love rugged and arid deserts. I tolerate concrete and asphalt (city/suburban) landscapes and I deal with them when I have to. But, I not only love water, but I'm drawn to it. I lived on a the shore of a small lake for several years and it was a wonderful time of my life. I could do that again. Actually, with my current nomadic lifestyle living in my magical mobile micro condo, I can do it whenever I choose.

This week's photo-of-the-week was taken from the end of my good friends, Al and Margaret Walkers' dock right behind their home in Chapin, South Carolina. This is Lake Murray. Chapin is known as “The Capital of Lake Murray.” The lake is actually a huge reservoir created in 1920. It's 41 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest and has some 500 miles of shoreline. Man made or not, it is a beautiful body of water and is the home of all kinds of fresh water aquatic life. And, of course, it draws the human species to its shores, including my friends, Al and Margaret. Live free and be happy. EH  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Photos-of-the-Week #254 Wake Up! Wake Up! It's Another Glorious Day In Paradise, Ocean Pond, Osceola National Forest, Florida, February 2014 (With Sound)

This week I'm sharing three photos with you. They were all taken at the start of the day as the sun was rising over Ocean Pond in Osceola National Forest in northern Florida.

Mornings, even in February were fantastic at Ocean Pond. The temperatures were brisk, but nothing could dull the beauty of nature.

I'm going to let these photos speak for themselves. I've included nearly 20 minutes of the sounds one awakened to in this beautiful place. Enjoy them. Use them to wake up to yourself in the morning. Take a little meditation time and play them softly in the background. This is an audio and visual gift from me to you. For you "Birders," how many birds can you identify by their songs?

Live free and be happy. EH

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Photo-of-the-Week #253 Memories, Again – Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood, California, May 2009

Decades come and decades go. We accumulate all kinds of junk/stuff that eventually has little value other than, perhaps, some sentimental value to most of us as individuals or couples. Memories is really where it's at and what life is all about. The great thing is we can accumulate an unlimited number of memories. They take up no physical space and memories are the only thing we actually take with us at the end of our life's journey.

That's why it's so important to make all the memories you can while you can. One day, if you and I are fortunate enough to live long enough, we won't be making a whole lot of new memories. But, we'll have this vast treasure trove of memories we've saved up over a lifetime and we can review and relive them in the theater of our minds.

This week's Photo-of-the-Week dates back to 1973. I've mentioned my short (not quite four years) tenure with the U.S. Air Force from August 1969 until March 1973. My main duty assignment was located at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. Yes, the old base dating back to 1918, was the only Air Force base (formally, U.S. Army Air Corps) physically located inside the borders of the nation's capital. While there, I was initiated into the Hollywood scene along with other parts of California.

Sometime in 1972 or 1973 I was in the LA area on assignment and I met up with a fellow by the name of Harry O'Connor. Harry had an audio production company in Hollywood where he produced primarily radio program material, many in the form of syndicated radio shows. One of the shows he produced was for a B grade actor who became the governor of California and ultimately became the President of the United States, yep, Ronald Reagan.

At that time, my partners and I were establishing our audio and video production company and tape duplication business in the Washington, DC market. We produced all kinds of radio public service announcements. We thought, how cool would it be to have both a DC address and a Hollywood address on our brochures. So, I cut an informal deal with Harry O'Connor to use his address in Hollywood as our west coast address. Also, since he had connections with people in the entertainment world. Se, the informal agreement included using his services to acquire talent if we ever needed celebrities to do the voice-over work for any of our clients.

So, our brochures for Audio-Video Concepts, Inc. (AVCon, for short) had our DC address and Hollywood & Vine, one of the most iconic addresses in Hollywood at the time. The actual building address was 1680 Vine Street, but the building was on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Unfortunately, this isn't the greatest photo, but it was taken at the intersection of Hollywood & Vine in May 2009, 36 years later. Yes! That is one of the most recognizable buildings in Hollywood down the street a few blocks, the Capitol Records Tower (owned by the UK entertainment giant, EMI). When I took this photo, I couldn't remember the actual street address of the building Harry O'Connor Creative Services, Inc. had their offices and studios or I would have taken a photo of it. It is actually directly to my right in this picture.

This was taken during what I have termed my “Last Hollywood Tour,” seven years ago. I have little to do with that scene any longer. Most of the studios I used to hang around out there are long gone, including Harry O'Connor Creative Services. From what I've found in researching, Harry passed away in 2013 at the age of 87. My, how time flies and the world changes.

Live free and be happy. EH