Wednesday, July 30, 2008

29- DOES HE EVER WIND DOWN?.....

My "long lost" (and FOUND!) 2nd cuz from Ohio, Charlotte, a Science educator, has asked me a time or three if ron rascal ever winds down, stops his creatin' ways....and the answer is, uh, no. Within some persons, imagination runs rampant. That person, when a child, managed not to be filtered through a sieve. Has to be that Dr Pepper! The kids in my extended family liked the old-fashioned Dr Pepper (more fizz and less sugar) so much that my mother actually put a machine on our back porch and sold 'em. Secret: used to be a program on Saturday mornings where a radio guy would go around my Valley town and stop at random houses to see how many Docs were chilling in the home, with $1 for each one up to 20.
We won one Saturday morning...$20.00!...she got the loot.

28- HUMMINGBIRDS...MINIATURE 'COPTERS AROUND YARDS!,,,

Stressed?...wanting to vent about the summer heat or the driving habits of irrational persons behind the wheel? Prepare a batch of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, boil a bit, cool and fill your fave 'hummer "diner" and hang near a protected spot for quick in and out trips.
And simply watch, from behind the curtain.....
Their antics are worth the show! Even make you smile....
(Have added more "neat words and names".....)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

27- FEARS And PHOBIAS, OH My! I....

My bro, older by five, once got stuck in a handmade small play barn with double sliding bank barn doors that was constructed by our father. It was large enough for a 10-year-old.
The only problem? He couldn't get back out, stuck.
Yes, he would later panic in an elevator or a car with the windows rolled up.
He had forgotten about the barn, but the irrational fear of being enclosed remained.
Once, while spending the summer at my maternal grandmother's farm way out in the country in Rockingham County (Shenandoah Valley), a local neighbor boy, who lived over the hill on a neighboring farm, stopped by my grandparent's old Cline farmhouse and invited me to go swimming in a stream by a nearby meadow. As we waded in water about a foot deep, Louis suddenly fell down and began to thrash wildly about, literally acting like he was drowning before my frightened eyes. My fright vanished long enough to pull him out of the water to the grassy bank and safety. At 12, I didn't know what had happened but had the sense to react. College studies opened so much knowledge 6 years later.
But Ron Rascal, nickname given me in college by a special girlfriend, continues to be in absolute fear of thunderstorms with lightning, since a very young age.
Once, in high school, a few of my trout fishing chums and I took off one summer to camp in the North River Gorge of Augusta County (Valley). We liked to fish with natural bait, you know.
A huge thunderstorm blew our way later that afternoon, with skies darkening and lightning crashing up and down the Gorge. We made it to a hillside cabin and waited out the storm on an open porch. I could see and HEAR splitting flashes of electricity popping in the Gorge and mountain stream all around us, with me terrified every moment. "Please go away!" I kept thinking in my mind, "Please go away!"
After what seemed like hours, the storm did move on, with the mountain stream down in the Gorge raging. And, I will never forget, the sun came back out, with blue skies and, and a rainbow over the Gorge in front of us. Still not sure it was a phobia or not.
Wanna share a story or three?....squire

Monday, July 28, 2008

26- WELL...WHAT IS AN AMERICAN? II.....

Roy Perez Benavidez, that's who!
He was an icon, more than a hero, but it took so many years for our country to realize that and to recognize this son of a sharecropper from Texas. Benavidez was FINALLY awarded the coveted Congressional of Honor by the late President Ronald Reagan on February 24, 1981, in the Pentagon's courtyard.
And here is a portion of his story of bravery under fire in Vietnam.
Early on May 2, 1968, as a 12-man Special Forces team, Roy was in Cambodia to observe North Vietnamese troop movements. The team was discovered. Three 'copters were sent to rescue the team but couldn't land because of heavy enemy fire. A second attempt was made, and Benavidez jumped aboard one 'coper with only a Bowie knife and directed it to his team. They, however, were severely wounded. He ran through heavy small arms fire to his wounded companions, only to also be wounded in the right leg, face and head.
He organized the team and signaled the 'copters, dragging or even carrying at least half to the 'copters. Then he grabbed up the classified documents from a dead team leader and headed back to a 'copter, where he was wounded by an exploding grenade in the back and shot in the stomach. However, the waiting 'copter's pilot was killed and the aircraft crashed.
Roy managed to collect the crash surviors and formed a defensive perimeter around them.
And called for air support and ordered another extraction attempt. He was, at this time, losing so much blood around his face that his vision was blocked. But he continued on, carrying a wounded friend when Roy was clubbed in the head by an enemy soldier with a rifle butt and then tried to bayonet the American soldier. When Roy grabbed the bayonet, he was able to surprise the other soldier and kill him, but Benavidez had part of the bayonet embedded in his in his left arm.
He was loaded into a 'copter, put into a body bag for dead. However, as he was being declared dead, he spit into the triage doctor's face!
Roy spent nearly a year in hospitals recovering from all of those injuries.
The process took from 1968 until that morning at the Pentagon in 1981 for our war hero from Texas to receive the Medal! Along the way he eventually earned the rank of Master Sergeant. Oh, can you believe that, in 1983, he had to travel to the Social Security Administration in D.C. to protest the cutoff of disability payments to him? Honest!
Over the years after the Vietnam "Conflict", Benavidez often spoke to many schools and on military bases, to young persons in runaway shelters, on the vital importance of EDUCATION.
Our icon passed away in November of 1998 and is buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. An elementary school there is named for him, as well as a complex at Fort Bragg. A supply ship bears his proud name.
Hasbro, in 2003, brought out the first G.I. Joe action figure to portray someone of Hispanic heritage...ROY PEREZ BENAVIDEZ!
He was and is an American...I rest my case.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

25- "WITNESS FOR THE CONDEMNED!"

Please google Ron Squire Steffey to read "Witness For The Condemned" commentary composed after viewing an execution...thanks. It was published in the University of Virginia's Virginia Quarterly Review. As a sociologist, wanted to be able to discuss the ongoing debate over the long running capital punishment issue. I believe that you will find a factual background and deep philosopical views from a well-rounded approach.
Oh, everyone reading the commentary always asks me if I would witness an execution again.......no.

Friday, July 25, 2008

24- "GOOD SMELLS"...MEMORIES I!

Coffee brewing early every morning in a perculator pot, as a youngster, originated from my father who arose before sunrise and went to bed "with the chickens". Can still vividly remember that aroma, even though I didn't like coffee and still don't.
And old-fashioned pies for breakfast from living with a Mennonite family a week one summer. Their pie baking, without sugar, usually was on Saturday mornings, and those homemade apple, blueberry, pumpkin, boysenberry, strawberry or Shoofly pies were prepared with flaky, golden crusts so good that a second slice, room temp from their walnut pie safe, was a given. My father, along with perking coffee aromas wafting throughout the kitchen, usually reserved an early Sunday morning, before church, for baking what he called a 'family pie'...that was a large rectanglular deep dish glass pie pan filled with whatever fruits he had in the freezer at the time. His crust often didn't stretch all the way across the fruit filling, but who cared what the 'family' pie looked like! Yes, pie baking smells are locked away in my secure memory bank.
You can share some of your own good smells here with a click...more of mine are on tap.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

23- EXCUSES...EXCUSES...EXCUSES!

a- "Sorry I haven't answered you for weeks...been in a quandry about what to wear each morning...."
b- "Maybe if I ignore them the bills will mysteriously go away, far away."
c- "Sorry, didn't make it to your dinner party...didn't have any fresh 7" cucumbers in the fridge to make your fave dipster!"
d- In Psychology 101 it's called rationalialization...excuses, excuses, excuses. Make the dip with mushrooms for gosh sakes! Stop and pay the freaking bills...hurts for only a minute.
e-"If you really want to do something, you'll make time!" True adage from my junior year.
f- It's taken me so long to realize an ephiphany that helps me, only, to come to the realization that excuses announce to my friends, and the world, that this guy is simply explaining away, TRYING to justify. If you agree, go for it.
g- When one makes an excuse for not calling or completing an assignment or communicating, it becomes quite obvious to the other person or persons and leaves a sour taste. When one makes an excuse that appears recognizable as a fabrication, then your credibility is lowered. Do it often? h- Your credibility hits bottom and becomes near impossible to recover.
i- How about developing a simple habit of anwering e-mails, friends and calls quickly! Remember old-fashioned "snail mail"?
j- Next..."Good smells" memories...can you say, "The wafting, memorable aroma of coffee percolating early in the morning is soothing to one's mind?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

22- WELL...WHAT IS AN AMERICAN? I.....

What IS an American? The best way is to tell simple, short stories. Today, July 22nd...a construction worker in Johnson County, Texas, near Fort Worth, fell 40' into a 14"-18" gas well shaft. Tens of fellow AMERICANS from all around the area came to his rescue, with rescue equipment and food and even cold water for the rescuers, high temp, who are trained to do their job, quickly! The experts worked feverishly knowing that time was of the essence. Tens of others who dropped what they were doing, from miles away, aided and comforted in any way needed. That WAS almost instantaneously, by the way.
WELL, about noon the expert rescuers, one even going down into the 18" well shaft, pulled the worker to safety!! That's what AMERICANS are like.....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

21- SO...WHAT IS LOVE? III....

Summer camp in the foothills near Fincastle, Va., in the Valley, was the best of times when a just-teenager. Camp Bethel, then, had rustic cabins, a hillside auditorium, old rec hall to play Four Square, open-sided screened dining hall near a spring and small lake, vespers were up on a high hill overlooking meadows, barns and railroad tracks in the distance, campfires around a large circle at night in the woods...and that softball field past the cabins.
My girlfiend that summer, Jen, was petite and pretty...and loyal. Scenario: The game, that afternoon, was something else. Last inning and my side was down two runs, with me coming to bat...two guys on base. Jen was yelling and cheering for us, and me, as loudly as she could. I stepped to the plate, swung and missed. And could hear some "oh no's" to the side. Strike two! More "oh no's...Ronnie was going down on a Saturday afternoon at camp, in defeat, but Jen continued to cheer her heart out...for me.
I paused and tried to remember what my Little League coach had told me earlier in the summer before coming to camp...."Watch the ball...concentrate...feel like every ounce of stength you have is going into that bat in your hands!"
I stepped up one more time...concentrated on the pitched ball and swung with all my might. BLAP!
The softball went sailing high in the air way out over leftfield. Both runners in front of me scored. I touched each base, rounding the first three and then slid into home...got up and looked around. The other team was still chasing the ball. Girls came flocking around me, the hero, and I admit, for the first time at camp, Ronnie was special! But something made me turn and glance back towards Jen.
She had left the field and was walking back down the dusty path towards the spring and mess hall. I paused, looked at the admiring girls and then back towards Jen walking away. For the first time, I guess, I understood what loyalty really was...maybe even love.
So, I took off after my pretty and petite girlfriend, catching up with her. She turned and looked up at me, with tiny tears streaming down her slightly dusty freckled face. And smiled. We shared a brief hug and a light, slightly salty kiss that tasted so good.
And that's what I am sure love is...yeah! Soon...good smells memories!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

20- MAKE AN APPOINTMENT?...SAY WHAT?...

We all have tried calling ANY business, phone or cable company or even a Wall*Mart to check on photo processing...right? And had to wade through people somewhere "out there" trying their best to stop us from getting through. OR, we were placed on hold only to be disconnected. When it slipped out that someone in India, maybe, was the one answering, as a "real" person, that really got us fired up.
The latest? "Ma'am, could I please speak to you for a moment about why this hot dog of mine has a slightly greenish glow?"
"Do you have an appointment, sir? You'll have to make an appointment!", the secretary to the secretary at the local convenience store said. And she was standing right there, doing nothing.
American society...does it make you feel, sometimes, that the individual (that's us) doesn't count...anymore?
Revolution...we need a cultural revolution! Our own Benjamin Franklin once said, "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authity!"
"SO...WHAT IS LOVE? III" is next...about summer camp. I promise!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

19- NEAT WORDS...And NAMES!

I DO remember being excited going to school at six and wanting to learn to read. Mrs. Vera Harouff had a huge alphabet printed above the blackboard. And she encouraged me, at six, to draw and color and cut straight lines with those fat scissors. This educator and sociologist hasn't stopped since, cutting straight lines with slim scissors, but I do enjoy, now, crossing those lines in life. I don't just cross the line, though, I erase it! When an art teacher in high school gave me that "f" on a drawing because a tree was colored purple, the next tree was painted paisley!

Neat words:
1) serendipity 2) ephiphany 3) aesthetics 4) altruism 5) canoodle 6) barn
7) mesmerize 8) patina 9) platonic 10) pissant 11) pusillanimous
12) soul-mate 13) Renaissance 14) "slychology" 15) spontaneity 16) visionary
17) aficionado 18) smattering 19) scarecrow 20) ruminations 21) deja vu 22) glockenspiel
23) Oh mi ga! 24) Sasquatch 25) ADVENTURES! 26) millionaire 27)IMAGINATION 28) covered bridge! 29) GAMBARU!

**(Got one?)

Neat Names:
a) Towanda! b) Wile E. Coyote c) JelliButton(tm) d) T. Boone Pickens e) Skelli(tm)
f) Icy Belle Liptrap g) Sacajawea h) billabong i) Walden Pond j) Bear Trap Farm
k) Nutmeg Quarter(tm) l) Squire! m) Grandma! n) Srag(tm) o) Peachy Pitman
p) MOXIE, do you have it? q) The Serpentine Bond(c) r) The Treehouse With A Basement(c)
q) S'mores r) Stingy Hollow s) ron rascal(tm) t) Miss Flossie Fern u) Caleb Barnstable
**(Know any?)

"Slychology" is an original squire word. Pissant IS in the dictionary. Towanda! comes from "Fried Green Tomatoes". Icy Bell Liptrap, I found in a phone book once, in the Valley, and did visit the neat octagenarian! Sacajawea WAS a Native American HEROINE! Bear Trap Farm is in the mts. of Augusta County, Va. and was built from scratch by two women with a vision--cabins and country meals. Nutmeg Quarter is an original term from the Town of BlueButtercups art creations. T. Boone Pickens?...he's real! "Srag" is the villian of the Town of BlueButtercups, with JelliButton as America's next national sweetheart. "Skelli" is there, too, and is "the world's oldest living unicorn!" and lives in a treehouse with a hottub on the 2nd floor. GAMBARU!--"Never give up...try again!" (Japanese). And Wile E. Coyote is my all-time hero-kinda-guy. Am absolutely so tired of that stupid, no-talking, scrawny, "BEEP-BEEP" bleeping desert bird picking on my pal Wile E. ALL of the time!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

18- SPELUNKING II...Lost?

Rockbridge County and Lexington, Virginia are two early and historic areas of the Shenandoah Valley, nestled up next to the Alleghanies. Outside of town, home to V.M.I. and W&L University, a most unique theatre opens during the summer months...not in an old mill or renovated barn, though. Theatre at Lime Kiln displays its plays and musical groups in a large hole in the ground! This educator and sociologist was introduced to Zydeco (Cajun) music, straight from New Orleans, in that lime kiln quarry a summer or three before.
Tumbled down walls to an abandoned lime kiln quarry provide the setting, with a stage in back and, uh, natural air conditioning. But wait a minute, where does this spelunking adventure fit in to this scene?
Three of us drove past the quarry theatre on a Rockbridge country road one morning early, headed for another adventurous spelunking trip into a "wild" cave that we were told wound its way for several miles deep underground, past a "lost" stream that disappeared in a nearby meadow.
We forgot two ingredients, though.
Struggling into the entrance, we climbed straight down the rocky sides of the first stretch of the cave. It flattened out into a series of rooms. That was the easy part for quite a ways, until we came to a 5-foot wide chasm. The deep fissure in front of us had to be crossed to proceed. So, I took off running and jumped for the only path and landed on the far side. The others did, too, being a bit scared. This meandering cave path, unlike the first mountain cave, was sticky and damp.
This cave, like others, was so quiet that one could hear a drop of water splattering far behind us or in front of us. Oh, we had plenty of carbon for the headlamps.
We were searching for the underground stream, for some time, but never heard it deep inside the cave. At that moment, the ball of twine gave out, meaning we could go no further, safely. The twine would lead us back to that entrance above. Can you imagine someone lost in a cave?...no!
Just as we began to wrap up the ball and head back? Someone whispered a 'shhhhhhh'...water, moving in a stream, way off in front of us...in the pitch dark. What a temptation! But we turned back and headed along the dark underground path. The fissure was easier this time to jump across, all three of us more secure.
And what did we forget? Plenty of twine...and to tell anyone back home where we were going and the projected time to be come back. A good spelunker always does that!!
Love III is soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

17- TELL ME...WHAT'S RIGHT ABOUT ME?

This educator and author graduated first from a small private college in the Shenandoah Valley, with a major in Philosophy, adding Logic. Fresh out of high school, and being told that our high school had prepared us well, ha, I honestly didn't understand, for sure, what philosophy actually was upon entering college. In time, though, the dept. chair, Dr. Willoughby, with his intelligence, wit and respectful dignity for everyone, went far beyond teaching...he inspired!
So, I searched for my own creative, inspiring maxim to enlighten the world.
"Tell me what's wrong with me, and I'll listen to the end of my nose...
but tell me what's right with me, and I'll listen to the end of my...mind!" Those thoughts took months to formulate, until all of it was just right!

Oh, when I looked for "Philosophers Needed" in the want ads, after graduation, there were none listed!

The Socratic method of teaching?...ever experience the highly involved, successful style of teaching?...how it works is coming!
(rsquire1@cox.net)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

16- SPELUNKING I...An Adventure to Remember!

The quietness far below in a "wild" cave is like nothing most of you have ever experienced. It is an adventure I will not forget. My senses seemed more alert, with a watch's time vanished.
A "wild" cave, by the way, is simply one that has never been commercialized, like, say, Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley. By the way, Luray is far more extensive in scope than what you see with a ticket.
My first spelunking adventure took place in an old valley, Deerfield, in Augusta County, Va. Three of us, after spending the night before in a cabin, hiked up the side of the mountain to a small entrance near the top. It was like a slanted tunnel created by Nature thousands of years earlier, with us having to lean over most of the way down. At times I would look back to see the entrance growing smaller and smaller, until there was total darkness behind us and in front of us...save for our trusty carbon lights on our hats.
Ah, the bottom!...we could stand up in a series of rooms around us. To my right, we crawled up one tunnel and discovered a neat shoot that took us back down, sliding all the way, to the main room. Yes, we slid down the shoot more than a few times!
With suppertime approaching, a stomach or three growling, the three adventurous pals headed back up the long tunnel, bending over once again, with no visual sense, surrounded by the pitch
darkness and a carbon headlamp growing a bit weak. After a spell, I could spot the tiny lighted entrance of fading mountain sunlight growing larger and larger.
Suddenly, my chum leading the way, screamed and ran up towards the entrance, still bending over. He reached the entrance, took off his jacket and threw it into the air, down the side of the mountain! As I approached, he yelled "BATS!...run for your life!" I turned around and saw a few, then a swarm of bats leaving the cave entrance near the top of the mountain, hungry for a feast of insects on the wing. We didn't realize, though, at the time, that teen-age guys were not on the bats' menu for the evening.
We stopped later at the Deerfield Valley old-fashionedd grocery and ordered a balogna and cheddar sandwich, with mayo, on homemade bread, and a bottle of cold Royal Crown Cola for each of the brave adventurers. We didn't, though, share our adventure while we ate, with the group of old-timers sitting nearby and around the store's potbellied stove. We didn't need any teasing from the adults checking us out.
Part II is soon...hmmmmm.