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Silage; Corte Madera Events; Bike Ride from Hell; No Chinese!; Earthrise at IONS; Coast Guard Lingerie?

Having spent most of my youth in New Orleans, it came as a bit of a shock when, as a teenager, I spent a summer on a family dairy farm in Iowa. That was hard work, sunup to sundown, and subliminally, it may have provided some of the impetus to join the Navy and see the world. Memories of the farm are rather dim, but I don’t remember “silage” being part of the daily routine. (Where is Ty going with this thread, you may ask?”) Well, we arrived at our next campground at the US Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, but instead of the blue Pacific Ocean, this is the view from our coach.  We are surrounded by farms, fields, hills and patchy woods, with deer, wild turkeys, Canada geese, and jackrabbits, rather than seals, sea lions and laughing gulls. 

The fields were being harvested that day with several combines, threshers or forage harvesters (my knowledge of farm machinery is as vague as that of flowers), and as the farmers were wrapping up, My Lovely Bride, whose farm knowledge is even more sparse than my own, asked one of the drivers what they were harvesting. “We’re cutting grass for silage” was his brief answer; seems it is stored in airtight silos where it ferments and is fed to cows and other ruminants over the winter. Fermented grass must make for happy ruminants…

After getting settled in our bucolic paradise, Suzanne prepared for her next two events, on consecutive nights at the Sunrise Center in Corte Madera, near Marin. On Sunday, we had a delightful dinner with the directors of the Sunrise Center prior to Suzanne giving her Messages of Hope presentation, which was very well received. On Monday night, she gave a new talk based on her Making the Connection presentation, including guided meditations. The effect on the attendees was predictable and gratifying; at the end, no one wanted to leave. 

We had a great bike ride the other day. Well, that was my judgment, anyway. Unfortunately, My Lovely Bride does not share my opinion. On the day after each of her events, Suzanne likes to go out for a gentle bike ride of an hour’s duration; exercise and increased oxygen flow invariably restore her. So, after her first Corte Madera event, we drove to Helen Putnam Regional Park, which had some mountain biking trails that I had spied out, and they were graded easy-to-moderate over rolling hills. The trails were okay, maybe a bit steeper than we had expected, but all was going well until we dropped down a particularly steep section and wound up in a neighborhood a couple of miles from the park entrance. I could tell that Suzanne was getting a bit tired, so I suggested that we simply ride streets at the base of the hills in a clockwise direction until we arrived back at our parking spot. Well, half an hour later found us out in deserted ranch country (more rolling hills with a few cows and sheep) and MLB was being told by her guides, “You are doomed if you keep following this guy…” She asked me to stop so she could check her iPhone map, and it turns out we were headed the wrong way on the road to Pt. Reyes, a very scenic (but very distant) landmark. “Ty, maybe we should have gone counter-clockwise.” Okay, so back we rode, only an extra half hour or so, but mostly uphill. Fortunately, MLB is still speaking to me, but she was pretty tuckered out at the end of our ride.

IONS – I’m not referring to atoms and molecules in which the number of protons is not equal to the number of electrons, but rather to the Institute of Noetic Science. IONS was founded by astronaut Edgar Mitchell and German rocket scientist Werner von Braun to investigate parapsychological phenomena and human potential. We visited IONS’ EarthRise Transformative Learning and Conference Center the other day, where we had lunch and toured the campus in the beautiful hills above Petaluma. I even got to do some hiking there one day while Suzanne was busy; I particularly enjoyed a bit of meditative time at their labyrinth. The IONS campus is surrounded by rolling hills covered with wildflowers, and has a sense of peace and tranquility that undoubtedly contributes to its mission, the study of consciousness, psychic abilities, human potential, spirituality, meditation and other non-traditional phenomena. I liked Edgar Mitchell’s response to a skeptic interviewer: “That’s what’s fun about it. We’re breaking down barriers and finding things. That’s what science is all about: new discovery. … There’s nothing that we have done or have demonstrated that doesn’t have good science behind it. Skeptics be damned.”

This next paragraph may surprise some readers. I was reading a fair and balanced on-line news source, and the report of the Chinese building bases in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea “spun me up”. For the uninitiated, this term means that I was spun up like a gyroscope, but in an angry way, because the People’s Republic of China (yes, those stinking Communists) are building military installations (on barely visible reefs in other countries’ waters) that one day will be used against the United States Navy. My anger was in fact directed both toward the Chinese government and toward incompetent civilian academics at the US Naval Academy. The first is easily understandable, because our position vis-a-vis China is very similar to that of Japan in the late 1930s. Thinking observers should realize that we may well be at war with the Chinese in the not too far distant future. The secondary reason is less obvious. Back in 1998, My Lovely Bride was Deputy Director of Humanities at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, and drafted a recommendation that Chinese be added as a foreign language major, since they were even then becoming a strategic threat to the USA. Her paper was rejected out of hand by the civilian professors at USNA, who saw adding Chinese as a threat to staffing for European languages. That sure makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? For those who read history, the parallels between the strategic objectives of Japan in the 1930s and China today should be patently obvious. (There is some vindication in that when I looked at their web site today, USNA has finally added a Chinese language major with four professors). 

On a lighter note, I could have been really embarrassed today, and maybe even arrested. It makes for an “interesting” story… We are at our Coast Guard campsite for a week, and while our campsite is peaceful, it has no grey and black water hookup, meaning that we have to carefully manage our water usage, or move when our waste tanks are full to a nearby dump station. Laundry has to be done weekly, but we don’t have the grey water tank space to run two big loads without filling the tank. I drew the short straw, and looked for the base laundromat. It’s a small base, and the only facilities are in the barracks, where 18-24 year-old Coast Guard men and women are berthed. When I got there, there was only one washing machine not in use. No problem, I would just make several trips. All was going well until I returned to remove the first load of wash from the dryer… 

I must have been distracted, because as I opened what I thought was my machine, several women’s bras and panties fell out, and they obviously did not belong to My Lovely Bride! My first terror-stricken thought was that the young owner of those undergarments would walk in just at that moment, scream “Pervert!”, and I would be hauled off in handcuffs and a mug shot posted on the Internet… Fortunately, no one walked in, and I tossed the unmentionables back in the dryer, found the correct machine and finished my duties without further incident, but it was a close call, and as we passed several women Coasties on our way to dinner, I wondered whether one of them might have been “The One”…

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