Friday, August 31, 2012

True to Life Peace

Haiku My Heart
August 31, 2012

Haiku My Heart is a weekly feature of Haiku, art, stories, photos and passion for the love of our fellows as we gather and meet and visit one another in an attempt to make Earth a more peaceful place. Visit Rebecca’s blog, recuerda mi corazon, to see more and find out how to participate.

Peace on Earth, achieved

Right hands filled with willing flesh

Feeling mankind bond

Very interesting experience at the VA the other day. As you may know, I go to the Veterans Administration hospital in Minneapolis for my health care. Since I had the blood clot in my atrium last November, I have been taking warfarin, a blood thinner, to help keep me from getting any more blood clots.

Part of the routine is to get the blood thinness to a certain level, then keep it there, steady, with medication. At first, the clinical pharmacist was adjusting my medication intake to achieve this blood number. After a while, it leveled off and I go back once per month to have it checked and adjust medication if needed.

The clinical pharmacist I see is a man from Africa. I can assume he is here legally if not already an American citizen but that makes no difference to me. I trust and respect him and he makes me feel like he has a general interest in me as a person as well as to help me keep my blood numbers at a safe and healthy level.

I will call him Fred for the purpose of this story as it would not be appropriate to divulge his real name without his permission. 

Think, the journey is

Not taken alone. We are

Always Related

Fred and I make a little small talk when I come to see him. He knows I ride a motorcycle and he knows I am a Grandfather from our few minutes of discussion we share each time I visit. He knows my health history because that’s his job. Because he started seeing me in late December, immediately after the pacemaker was installed and my heart shocked back into rhythm, and these visits have been frequent and regular, he has seen the subtle changes in my health, those that were for the good and those that were for the bad.

When my blood number changes and I don’t have any dietary changes to report, I wonder why and I speak to him. I ask, “Does my stress level have anything to do with the change?”

We talk about this and the subject of stress comes up. It’s on my file, yet I feel the need to mention that I deal with PTSD. I think I mentioned the fact that lately, I have been extremely stressed and anxious, both bi-products of war time PTSD.

In an effort to help me, and maybe even to tell me more about his own life, Fred mentions growing up in a war torn country. Sighting episodes of his parents hustling the children, he being one of them, to safety, while bullets are flying around their heads.

I realize instantly that I’m not the only one with PTSD. I understand that even though I am the patient here, being seen by the caregiver, the other person has a life and I have done little to understand the possibility of his circumstances.
I also realize that there are more causes of this disorder from trauma other than war. I have learned through program teachings and through the slow and steady healing that I am experiencing that the PTSD that stems from war has its own differences and set of stressors, and some of the symptoms are amplified or have different triggers, but also realize that others suffer from this disorder as well.

Fred and I talked a while longer, standing in his office. I told him that I knew I didn’t have a corner on the PTSD market and that I have been praying for Peace since I returned from the American war in Vietnam. I mentioned to him the suggestion that I know I am privileged as a white man in America and there is little I can do to change that. I can’t get rid of this privilege. I wish all of mankind was treated equal.

It was so important to me that Fred, a black skinned man, knew I loved him as a fellow human being, and I had an idea about how he had suffered at the hands of white skinned people both in Africa and here in the United States. I wanted so badly to let him know I had respect for people, all people, so I let him know my inner beliefs about Forgiveness, Acceptance and Peace.

Repeat after me

Mitakwe Oyasin (Mit-tok’-way  Oh-why’-a-sin)

All my relatives

Four Directions, four Sacred plants, Four colors of mankind

We talked about Peace and we both agree that it starts right here, right now, with the two of us, living side by side in  Peace.

We shake hands, and both of us use our left hand to clasp onto the back of each other’s right hand, as our right hands are filled with the flesh of our friendship in each other.

Peace on Earth, achieved, for that moment, in that place. For we are all related. Mitakwe Oyasin. Inawamagun. All my relatives.


This is post number 500 on Round Circle. One visitor will be chosen at random and receive a gift from Round Circle. Indicate if you are interested. Thank you for your visits here since 2007. I appreciate it greatly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Drum and the Gallon of Milk

Just returned home from Red Cliff Indian Reservation where we laid my friend to rest. He is on his journey home, and he wears my moccasins. While attending services in Red Cliff, two of the guests were friends from Bad River, Jill and her son Zack. I met them many years ago and our relationship put us together in the Sweat Lodge that my friend Gene lead. She is the woman in this story I wrote and posted in March of 2007. I thought of this story and thought I'd repost it today as part of the Postcards From Paradise meme that starts at my friend Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog.

In memory of my good friend and Warrior Brother, Gene Artishon, Bear Clan. Watercolor by Sorrow Grey

The lessons that one might come away with after reading this story were only a small fraction of the 'Way of Life' that Gene taught us. Like everything else you read here at Round Circle, "Take what you need and leave the rest."

The Drum and the Gallon of Milk

Recently, a good friend forwarded one of those e-mails to me. You know the kind, pass this on to 350,000 people within the next micro second and you’ll be blessed by God almighty with a bolt of greased lightning.

I read them, I really did, but I don’t pass them on to anyone. Well, once in a while, if I think someone I know would be interested I’ll write a short personal note and pass it on, but usually it gets trashed.

This one was about God. This man who seems to have neglected God for a while feels compelled to talk to God and listen for God’s word to him. In his experience, he goes ton the store and buys an extra gallon of milk, drives down a street in a semi-seedy part of town and delivers the milk to a strangers house, all these acts being directed by God via voices in his head I guess.

Low and behold, the stranger answers the door and has a crying starving baby at home and in dire need of milk. You see, they had no money and the baby was starving.

I don’t know about you, but if people in my household were that hungry, I’d find some kitchen appliance and go to the pawn shop and get five bucks so I could buy a gallon of milk and a Snickers bar to eat on the way home.

Ok, ok. It was a good human nature story and I got the point. But in my life, this kind of “miracle” happens all the time. It does for all of us, but we are seldom paying attention.

A year ago last April, I went to a Pow Wow with a friend of mine. We both make crafts in the style of the Native Americans. Dream Catchers, Rattles, Drums, Shields.

Anyway, my friend needed to sell some of his crafts in order to make some money. He had just gotten out of prison and was still down on his luck. I brought him down there and paid the vendor fees. We set up our stuff. He didn’t sell anything and I sold just enough to pay for my gas and the fees. But something did happen that I found to be interesting.

A young woman stopped by my table and was interested in buying a certain drum I had displayed. She didn’t have enough money and I told her that I doubted if I was going to sell it. I told her that if she called me when her finances were more in order, I’d send the drum to her. She took my number and that was that. This was the first time I talked to her.

She did call me a month or so later and asked about the drum. I told her I still had it, but that I was leaving town on a long trip. We agreed to wait until I returned and then I would contact her and make arrangements for the drum. This exchange was the second time we talked about it.

I returned from my trip and called her as I promised and now, again, she wasn’t prepared to purchase the drum. I said we’d keep in touch.

Now, besides the drum in our conversations, we talked about many things that we seemed to have in common, namely, our individual paths with Native American Spirituality. She mentioned in each conversation her desire for me to meet a man that she knew who was guiding and teaching her about this spiritual way of life. I told her about my friend Gene, and how I'd like her to meet him as well. We had talked three times.

My involvement in the path of the Red Road leads me to many things. One of these is the Sweat Lodge ceremony. A friend of mine put me on notice that there would be such a ceremony soon in Red Cliff, at a place near where I live. I was planning on going.

Before that, I had a strong thought about the drum for that woman. I thought that I would give her this drum. I felt compelled to do this. Some may say I had a “vision” to do this. So, I called and invited the woman to the Sweat Lodge ceremony and planned on giving her the drum when I saw her. The call and meeting would have been the fourth time we were in contact. 

This fourth contact had significance as I feel the spirits from the four directions were guiding us on this endeavor.
The four directions

She agreed to come to the ceremony and was pleased to be invited. I told her when I saw her that I had had the vision to give her the drum. I did so. She was pleased and in return, made a fine bag of gifts for me as well. Wild rice, sage, a beautiful blue calico cloth and a nice wooden bowl which I use as a tobacco urn at home.

Here we are. Almost two years to the day later. She and her talented drumming singing son are regulars at the lodge ceremonies. We come to the Sweat Lodge to pray and be reborn, cleansed of what ails us, and as we pray, the drum beats and rattles shake, the voices sing out songs of healing and honor. I hear the beat of the drum I made and gave to this stranger. I get to pray with that very drum in this circle.

Maybe not as much of a miracle as the milk story. But I do know this. Last time we talked, we reminisced about the table where we met and the story about the drum. How it came “full circle” back to me. She asked me if I’ve sold stuff at the Pow Wows and how that was going. 

I told her that I had never done that sale thing before I met her and I haven’t done it since.

Still later, I met another woman at a Sweat Lodge ceremony. We were talking and she asked how I knew the person who owned the house where the lodge ceremony was being held. I tried to explain and before I got into the conversation very far, she said, "You're the man who gave her the drum!"

Now for me, here is the miracle: The Creator sent us both on our separate journey. Her to the Pow Wow as a visitor, me to the Pow Wow as a vendor. He guided us to meet, me having the drum, her wanting it. And He made it so we stayed in touch about it, we talked four times. He further guided us to be friends, and make new friends.

I believe this is how it works. This kind of stuff happens all the time. We must pay attention and if we do, and we see this circle of life working, we acknowledge it, accept it, and give thanks for it.

When I named this Blog Round Circle. this is what I was trying to portray. The “Roundness” of life. How one thing affects another. How the relationship of one thing happened because of something else. Like that gallon of milk that the stranger brought to the home of a man whose child was hungry and starving. If the Father of the starving child had gone forth and told people that his child was starving, the people would make sure the child was fed. He didn’t have to sit at home and wallow in pride and pity and watch his child starve.

This act, bringing the child to the people, is called effort. If we put in some effort, we’ll get results. I don’t want to send the parable of the gallon of milk to the people in their e-mail. I want to be with the people and find out who is in need and help out. I don’t want to blindly knock on someone's door and have milk for the lactose intolerant teenage son of the fellow who can buy all the beer he wants.

Spring is close at hand. The maple trees are giving sap. Buds are appearing on the willows. The circle brings forth all this now, then the season of growth followed by the beauty of Autumn. Winter sets in and the plants and trees die off or lay dormant for the next Spring. Those that die are used as fuel for the fire to turn the sap into sugar. The people eat the sugar for food and energy so they can plant trees and harvest sap for generations. 

The circle

How much of your life do you knowingly acknowledge in this way? Do you ever? Does the idea of accepting this task appeal to you?

I must admit. I am lost sometimes. I didn’t remember to live this way or that. I wallowed in my own self pity. I put forth no effort and waited for the milk, then felt sorry when it never came. All I ever had to do was ask for it when I needed it. I persecute myself for my failure to be living every moment as I think I should be living it, yet with a little effort, I didn’t have to suffer at all. The answers are always right there in front of me, but I failed to see them, only because I stopped looking, stopped making an effort.

This isn’t about religion. It isn’t about God or repenting or suffering. It is about living and being alive and sharing life all around you in the circle. It’s about putting forth the effort to live life and not go through the motions.

Yes, I’ve had a few bad days lately. I was waiting for the milk instead of going out and saying to someone that I needed some. I wallowed in the crap in my head and didn’t see anything around me. I stopped putting forth effort to help my own situation. I got through it, but not without a lot of pain and suffering that I didn’t need to endure. Next time, I’ll just go to the circle.

Author's Note: 

I thank you Gene Artishon, Baazha Giizhik, (First Cedar), for this lesson and many more that you set into motion in our minds. The legacies you have left us, for your friends and for your family, will live, like your Spirit will live, forever.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Friend Has Gone Home

Our good friend and Spiritual Elder, Gene Artishon, has passed on  Sunday, August 19, 2012, around 9:00 PM.

Please send prayers and positive energy for his six children, his Brothers and Sisters, his wife Nancy, his step children and the many cousins, other relatives, people whose life he has touched and friends. We will all mourn his passing.
         Peace to you my Warrior friend. May your journey be swift and pleasant.

"They all will be waiting for us on the other side of the river, and we'll see them when we pass"

My Warrior friend, Gene Artishon, will stand and be waiting for me at the gates of Vahalla, where we will meet in the doorways, shoulder to shoulder, 800 strong, and we will fight again for the health and happiness of the people.

Bill Miller

I want to go where the blind can see
I want to go where the lame can walk
I want to see the sick ones clean
Where the deaf can hear and the silent talk

     Where are you going, to a ghostdance in the snow?     Are your all, maybe warriors, that are finally coming home
I wanna go where the dead are raisedWhere the mountain lion lays down with the lambI wanna stand where God is praisedI wanna ride across the plains to the promised land
      I said where are we going, to a ghostdance in the snow?     Are your all, maybe warriors that are finally coming home
Where I'm going don't need to raise your voiceNo starvation, have plenty to eatNo guns, no wars, no hateful noiseJust a victory dance, we'll never taste defeat
Where there's nothin' done or said that can't be forgivenWhere every step you take is on sacred groundWalk away from death into the land of the livingWhere all the lost tribes are finally found
      I said where are you going, to a ghostdance in the snow?     Are your all, maybe warriors that are finally coming home
I said where are you going, to a ghostdance in the snow?Are your all, maybe warriors, as they're finally coming homeAs they're finally coming home

"With one mind and one heart, let's open the door"


Peace in your heart and of all you hold dear.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


One of my closest friends, Gene, is in hospice care at the VA hospital. Gene is the Native American Spiritual Elder that conducts the ceremonies that I attend. Please excuse me as I will be with him as he prepares for his final journey.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sounds and Sights of My Life, 1969

Monday Mystery Tour
August 13, 2012

This "Tour" is from a place I traveled to a long time ago. The trip was all expenses paid and took me around the globe.

This YouTube video was made from snapshots. Most of them taken in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969 when I served in the US Army’s 25th Infantry Division. A few of them were taken a short time after I returned home. None of these depict the ravages of war from a standpoint of the death and destruction or combat operations. Read that to mean there are no dead bodies or photos of people shooting guns.

What is evident by some of these photos are the grim facial expressions on some and the terrain in the background as well as the armament by way of vehicles and weapons. Also, there are many with smiles on our faces. War was not a 24/7 affair. We were not locked into mortal combat every minute of every day.

The soundtrack is unique in the fact that it was recorded on a small battery powered boxy cassette recorder that was simply activated as we were in a bunker in a base camp near the city of Tay Ninh. I’m sure there was pot and alcohol involved. Down time like this was a time to let loose.

It is about nine minutes long. Having these memories as a YouTube video doesn’t allow the viewer to dwell on any one photo for long unless you have the stop gap capability on the equipment you are using to view the video. Of course I have the original cassette tape and the actual photos. I also have more tapes of other times during my stay in Vietnam, and a 10 minute piece of video taken during my last days in country. I offer to share this part of my life on my Round Circle blog.

Enjoy the film, enjoy the music.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

From My Friend Cheryl

I was notified by my friend Cheryl, who pens the "Cheryl's Excellent Adventure" blog, that I was one of the people she had chosen to take part in a fun interactive meme. It is considered a high honor and is called the Liebster Blog Award. I am usually indifferent to these things and sometimes I follow through and sometimes I don't. I usually just don't have, or take, the time.

But I did this one and had a darn good time doing it!

Taken right from the blog announcement verbatim:

here are the rules to receiving this blog recognition award.   

1. Post 11 random facts about yourself

2. Choose 11 deserving other bloggers

3. Let them know they have been chosen

4. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has asked

5. Now give 11 questions to the ones you have chosen. 


I will e-mail the people I have chosen for this prestigious Blog Award and let them know. If you are one of the chosen, please consider taking some time and doing this. If you don't want to, well, that's up to you. I won't take it personally. I did indeed find it to be quite fun and a distraction from the pressing issues that were on my mind and giving me some bother.

Without wasting any more time explaining, here are my questions and responses for the Liebster Blog Award

Here are 11 random facts about myself:

1.) I have written three screenplays that I have never sent to any producers for consideration.

2.) I have owned and driven over 100 vehicles, new and used, as well as 20 motorcycles, since I bought my first car in 1967.

3.) I want to run away and start a new life in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

4.) I bite my fingernails.

5.) I have written songs, country, blues, jazz and punk rock, that we have recorded and played in a recreational band that I belonged to called The Dump and Shortcake Band.

6.) I designed and built my own passive solar heated home in the 1980’s.

7.) I was a wilderness guide in the Northern United States and Canada and taught outdoor living and fishing skills.

8.) I am of full blooded Italian descent with both parents and their parents before them from Italy and Italian heritage.

9.) I have virtually no olfactory sense.

10.) I have earned two Bronze Star medals serving in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969.

11.) I had my Triumph Tiger motorcycle up to 137 miles per hour, (220.5 Kilometers per hour), on a two lane road and some young kid on a crotch rocket gave me a thumbs up when I passed him.

Questions asked of me by the person that sent the award:

Q.1 If you could be doing anything else, what would it be?

A. Sitting with someone having a pleasant conversation.

Q.2 What is your favorite food?

A. Traditional Italian pasta.

Q.3 How do you relax?

A. Take a road trip.

Q.4 Favorite destination?

A. Getting where I am going to, especially if I ‘want’ to go there and not ‘have to’ go there.

Q.5 What is your daily motivation for getting out of bed in the morning?

A. Waking up. (You may have to know my health history to understand this answer)

Q.6 Would you rather go to a movie or a play?

A. Definitely a play.

Q.7 Would you rather give a party or go to a party?

A. Go to a party. Please invite me.

Q.8 Choose another time and place in world history you would like to have lived in.

A. On a Pirate ship as Captain, cruising the world in the mid 1600’s

Q.9 Ketchup or mustard?

A. Ketchup, (Catsup?)

Q.10  Mountains or the seashore?

A. Seashore with mountain views inland.

Q.11Do you believe in love at first sight?

A. Absolutely

11 People I will send this to:
Note: All of these wonderful bloggers can be found on my sidebar. Please have a look.

1.) Jeannie, “Woof”

2.) Skippy Mom, “I Make Soap”

3.) Betmo, (Batmo), “Life’s Journey”

4.) Fran, “Ramblings”

5.) Mel, “Mel’s Dream”

6.) susan, “Phantsy That”

7.) Noelle, “The Angels Wear Fins”

8.) Magical Mystical Teacher, “Magical Mystical Teacher”

9.) Katherine, “This Charming Life”

10.) Elizabeth, “Beth’s Blog”

11.) Gina, “Pagan Sphinx”

11 questions I ask you to answer:

1.) What would you say or ask if you had the opportunity to have a conversation with Jesus Christ?

2.) What is your all time favorite song? (one only!)

3.) Drive, Fly, Bus or Train?

4.) What is your favorite breakfast cereal? (If you don’t ever eat cereal, what is your favorite breakfast?)

5.) Coffee, tea, or something else in the morning?

6.) When waking up, do you get out of bed from the left or right side of the bed?

7.) If you could have any vehicle in the world, what would it be? (one only!)

8.) What is the last song you sang in the shower?

9.) Do you color your hair?

10.) Do you consider yourself a good cook?

11.) Describe in one word, and one word only, your greatest virtue.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Glorious Food

Haiku My Heart
August 10, 2012

Haiku My Heart is a weekly gathering of like-minded people. We write Haiku, we post stories and photos, we show our art treasures and share life with poetry. Please take a look at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog for more Haiku My Heart and to see how you can participate.

Hungry by nature

Across the land by feasting

Diners and Drive ins

Is food the answer?
Why even ask the question?
Comfort food is king
We got together a while ago, four motorcycle hooligans. We were riding Triumphs, just like Brando and McQueen. Our goal is to ride across beautiful terrain and entertain our bellies with beautiful food.
In the planning stages of rides like this three day affair to Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we talked about the roads we would ride to make our loop, but more importantly the ride was altered to bring us to a few eating establishments to try and mark our arrival right around meal time.
First on the list was Gronk’s in Superior, WI. I’ve mentioned this place before. Great burgers served with hand cut greasy French fries. Yeah, I know the drill. They’re not good for you, too much cholesterol in the oil they use to fry the spuds, hamburger meat is too fatty and we shouldn’t eat so much of it, too may calories, too much fat, white bread bun. 

As I was saying, it is a great burger with greasy hand cut French fries. They also serve it with a little side dish of cole slaw and you can order it with a salad. I opted for the burger and fries. And you know what? They serve them upside down! That’s right, the bottom of the bun is on top, so, when you pick it up, you slide your fingers underneath with your palms up. When you bring it to your mouth, it is right side up, your palms are now facing down. Ingenious if you ask me.

We rode the next day and had an hour long stop for coffee and treats at The Black Cat Coffeehouse in Ashland, WI. The place I wrote about in the post before this one, last Monday's Monday Mystery Tour feature.

Later that day, we passed through the small Michigan town of Bruce Crossing and stopped at Char’s. There is a Char, but she wasn’t there. I had the chicken and BBQ rib special with a slice of home made blueberry pie. Char’s is a great little cafe that is a delight to find as we rode the vast forests of the Upper Peninsula. The town of Bruce Crossing isn’t much, basically a junction of US Hwy 45 and Michigan Hwy 28. Gas, a motel and Char’s.

We left there and spent the night in Ironwood, MI. Located on the border with Wisconsin next to Hurley. We got a motel and spent the night, then set off in the morning for the Delta Diner. Delta is a small unincorporated area that used to be a very small town. Now, it is just this diner, a shiny chrome sided diner that is out of place sitting inn the North woods of Wisconsin because it looks like it is off some main drag in some big city out East.

No photos of the food at the Delta Diner, but we did have a good breakfast there. I had the eggs over a thin slice of cornbread that was covered with a very light and thin green pepper sauce that had a lot of bite to it. Served with home made bread toast, it satisfies very nicely without the bulk of bacon and potatoes.

More important to the great food at the Delta is the ambiance of being in that dining cat in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest. As you round one of the many curves in the road, it sits there and is like an oasis because all there has been for miles is trees.

We rode home after that and decided that this ride was a great food ride. And although every meal wasn’t the healthiest I’ve ever eaten, I don’t think I hurt my heart as the joy of riding the motorcycle and being with good friends kept my spirits high and stress level non existent.

Where does your heart take you?