Category Archives: Hill Dog Image

Neighborhood Recovery Center – Unconditional Love

I stepped on the scale this morning with trepidation. I had eaten four meals yesterday and topped off the evening with some sweets and a couple of glasses of wine. Still, I found myself snacking on some turkey before getting to bed a little before nine. Seemed like there was a big hole in my belly that needed filling.

The scale indicated that I had lost three pounds since yesterday. Work has been busy. The kind of work that makes you eat and sleep as much as you can fit between shifts, and sometimes that still is not enough. Strenuous but healthy. After a couple of ibuprofen, hurting knees and feet at night were good to go by morning – a bonus to not go into work sore from the day before!

As I was hurrying to put together a hearty breakfast in preparation for todays shift, the phone rang. A neighbor who I rarely see called and asked if I was aware that a meeting to discuss replacing Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant with a substance abuse recovery center is scheduled for tonight 17 May 2018.

She was unable to confirm details for tonight, but an article in the Forest City News notes another meeting on the issue will be held at the Herrick Township meeting June 4 at 7pm.

Tired, I became angry at the interruption. I have office work to do. I have another nine or ten hour shift waiting tables before catching some sleep, meet with a client in the morning, then back for another shift. It’s been like this for days. So looking forward to a day or two off. Really off.

But then I remembered the conversation I had with a coworker yesterday.

I then remembered that a couple of years ago, I spent too much time with a strong Internet connection and no adult supervision. I did research. “Why is there terrorism?” “Why are so many people addicted to so many things?” “Why are so many people just so damned unhappy?” “What makes people meaner to each other than they need to be?”

I answered all these questions to my satisfaction; more importantly, though I am not the first to do so, I have identified the antidote

Just for a moment, let’s all put on our big boy and big girl knickers, open our eyes, and recognize that there is no way any substance, legal, illegal, healthy or unhealthy, could become so pervasive in our society without government complicity.

There is no opioid epidemic. There is an opioid for-profit industry.

Whether the result of industry lobbyists of not, for quite some time, those in the medical industry had been encouraged to treat pain aggressively. “With today’s (natural and synthetic opiate) chemical compounds, no one need suffer unnecessarily.” Though every individual is ultimately responsible for their own decisions, as a civilization, the deck has been stacked against us by those with influence.

Now that the danger of opioid use has been publicized and manufactured substances are being restricted on the white market, the floodgates have been opened on the stream of opiates on the black market. “Afghanistan has been the world’s leading illicit opium producer since 1992 (excluding the year 2001).” Quoted from “The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World Drug Report).

I do not know how many planes come and go from Afghanistan and eventually end up in North or South America daily. My point being, that one way or another, this industry will insure that, regardless of demand, the distribution of opiates will remain uninterrupted into our communities.

And now people want to install the recovery center component of the opiate industry in our neighborhood.

In the Forest City News the people who want to open the center state that “A higher standard of people will be coming here” and that “(their) belief is, when insurance runs out, we do scholarships for people,” “Our main ingredient is unconditional love. Not a place to just make money,”

Personally, regardless of a clinical definition, I believe it to be unhealthy when people are categorized as higher or lower standard. People are people. We all suffer. Sometimes from lack of food or sleep, but mostly we all suffer from lack of love. We all struggle with our respective demons. No youngster ever said “When I grow up, I want to have an addiction problem.”

My suffering belly was satisfied with food. My suffering tired head remedied with sleep. Luckily, I have been able to fill the hole in my heart caused by the loss of long time friends to death or circumstance, with strenuous work rather than substances.

The most durable antidote that I have found to all this?

As mentioned in the Forest City News article: unconditional love.

Yesterday, in getting to know a coworker, and to relieve the monotony of setting hundreds of place settings for a banquet, we chatted back and forth. A handsome young man, intelligent, articulate and a good worker.

“Where do you live?” “Quite a drive” I replied when he named a town south of Scranton. He was quite brave and candid I thought when he told me that he was recovering from opiates. He had lost everything, his license to practice in the health care industry, his girlfriend, home and money due to opiates.

“I lived at a substance abuse recovery center in Carbondale, but had to move. There was opiate use inside the center, and I just felt I had a better chance of staying sober if I got out of that environment.”

Without any questions from me, it seemed that he wanted to talk. I listened.

“My friend from the center, a friend I say, because we were trying to help each other stay sober, died in my arms last week. Opioid overdose.”

“We’ll pick up tomorrow where we left off today.” He said.

I was impressed by his composure. I fought back tears. If he wants to talk more, I’ll listen.

I’ll do my best to listen and to love him. Unconditionally.

Perspective

The recent weather pattern, which is yet to complete, has been very un-February-like. 

Though not as warm as last year’s record breaking days,  except for the trails at Elk, no snow in the neighborhood.

When the panoramic views from the top of the mountain reveal more Spring then Winter, the patterns left in nearby trees by overnight freeze reminds us that we’ll soon see March’s nature, lamb or lion like.

Top of Elk Mountain

The top of Elk Mountain is now home to several communications towers.  Years ago, sometimes you could stand outside the small unmanned support buildings, and hear air traffic and other communications.

Not far from where these towers are now, up until the 1960’s a fire tower stood. I remember climbing up the tower stairs as a youngster, and seeing a transit that the ranger would use to pinpoint a fire’s location.

When looking out at the top of the mountain now and seeing how populated the area has become, it’s difficult to imagine that less than a lifetime ago, there were so few people and telephones to merit manning a fire tower.

The transit is now housed at the Clifford Township Historical Society, and can be seen on their website http://cliffordtownshiphistoricalsociety.org/

Snow Tree Shadows

Literally, skiing is a sensuous sport.

The shadows cast by snow storm coated trees contrasted against an impossibly blue sky is visually interesting, and to some very pleasing.

One could argue that tastes and scents are not nearly so obvious as pleasing views of scenery and weather.  Another may counter that discerning such senses takes time and dedication.

It may take decades of winters letting snowflakes land on your tongue before you can tell the difference between the taste of a somewhat raw December snowflake and a fully ripened February snowflake.

A bitter cold dawn smells much more clear than one that rises above freezing, damp, soupy, thick with moisture.

On the first chairlift ride,  faint smell of diesel fuel intrudes, then evaporates as snow cats, having groomed all night,  head back to the barn, rendering slopes to the days first guests.

Continuing through corridors of pines, soft wind pulls through trees, seasons air with scent of turpentine.

Above, crows caw to each other completing their morning congress. Below, squirrels chirp and chatter scurrying this way and that, hunting for and finding breakfast in places that looked like good spots to hide nuts last Autumn.

Skiing in a storm that has already delivered several inches of snow, contracts the world.

A down hood bundled under a helmet eliminates distant noises, making the world much smaller. 

Falling snow obscures everything but ski tips rhythmically thrusting out of surface snow, disappearing back in, again and again, as snow clouds explode against boots, knees and thighs.

Core instinctively poses and flexes, at once sensing and balancing speed, snow depth and body posture, keeping feet swinging back and forth, moving above the ground, below the air.

Ears hear only heartbeat and breath.

Thought stops.

So freed from earth, subject neither to ground or sky, dwelling in between, turn by turn, precious moment by precious moment,

Orchid Buds

Orchid Buds

With highs forecasted to venture into the teens every few days, and lows unspeakably cold for the foreseeable future, it’s nice to be reminded of unrelenting warmth.

Naturally residing on tropical trees, this individual calls home my living room window.

Now cast in front of a winter landscape, she bloomed last June and held her blossoms until November.

Separated from sub-zero air by a mere pane of glass, this orchid plant’s buds swell bigger day by day; promises of color and scent from far away tropical lands.

Snow Making

Busy with winter preparations and with unseasonably mild weather up until this week, I pretty much forgot about winter itself.

As initial snowmaking concentrates on the north west trails, the trails facing my backyard have been unilluminated. Last week or so, the Delaware lights were lit during the day. “Tony probably testing the lights, and making final adjustments before the season.” I thought to myself.

For the past few days, the steady low roar of the snow guns round the clock, is unmistakable.

The other night while having some soup at Chet’s Place, Brad comes by my table with a look in his eye and says “Prolly this week…”.

Jack then turns to me, “You ready?” more of a statement then a question. I think a moment, and utter a low “yeh”.

NOAA says snow and cold, some of it single digit, for the foreseeable future.

Work last nite and tonite bartending for people enjoying themselves and each at their holiday banquets. Pay some bills tomorrow. Stock up on food and supplies monday. Maybe cook some to put in the freezer.

Then ski.

Just ski.