Jan 1st, my first day not being…

It’s January 1st, and it’s good that we are at the beginning of a new year. Looking at things in general, I am hopeful that 2021 will be a much better year than the one that went before it.

Focusing clearly on a specific issue, I am a bit heavy-hearted today because today is the first day then I am no longer a Disney cast member. This has been very hard for me. It has been so hard, in fact, that I haven’t said a word about it on my blog or on social media even though this is a very big deal for me.

I went to work at Disney in March of 1972 for the very, very first Spring Break and summer after opening. I came back for two other summers in my high school and college time; I loved Disney back then and I love Disney today. I have not given up! I’m hoping to rejoin the cast just as soon as I can make it happen.

I suppose I am in a better position to deal with this change than the average cast member because I came and went at Disney six different times! I came back 6 times in a period of 48 years and had seven different roles in the show. I loved every one of them. So having gone through all those changes and endings, I should be able to navigate this successfully and come back one more time.

Why is this so important to me, you may ask? Well I have said this before and I mean it with all my heart: Disney was my very first job — I was only 17 back in 1972 and I wanted it to be my last job.

There will be other chapters to write in this story…

#iLoveDisney

Ben Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Reflections on the New Year

December 31, 2020

I think there is nearly universal agreement, here in the US and everywhere, that 2020 was — on the whole — a very challenging year.

As we sit perched on the threshold of a new year, I am hopeful that 2021 will be better. Much better. It could scarcely be worse.

Exactly how things go from here… well, we just can’t say. If I may be allowed to prognosticate just a bit, I’m thinking that the first half of this nascent year will be rough. Very rough, in all likelihood. And then, it will get better.

How’s that for a prophetic look into our shared future?

Well, Nostradamus I am not. But I am a hopeful human, a hopeful citizen and I stand ready to do what I can to pull in the same direction as my fellows who want to help. To help to get us pointed in a positive direction and to begin to make some progress.

I am hopeful — cautiously hopeful — that we’ll be in a better place 12 months from now as we compose our thoughts about what kind of year 2021 will have been.

And I’m content with being able to “say” that tonight.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

A Christmas Morning Wish for Everyone Today

I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. This piece of mine was originally posted on Christmas Day, 2007 on another site. 

A Christmas wish for everyone today

This has been a challenging year for me in a lot of ways, yet I find myself feeling even more than the usual holiday spirit right now as I sit at the keyboard, waiting for Santa to come down my chimney. Wait! I don’t have a chimney! Oh well, I still believe! Well, the part about Santa, who can say? The rest of it, I’m still pretty big on all the good stuff that we think about when the holidays roll around each year. No doubt a lot of you feel the same.

The Christmas story does hold a lot of meaning for me. I’m not quite sure if I still believe all of it, all the nuances and consequences and so on; not quite like one “believes it” when the assembled faithful say the Apostles Creed together at Midnight Mass. Some will be doing exactly that in just a few hours, perhaps some of you.

Yet it doesn’t seem at all “funny” to me that God comes to us whenever it suits his/her purpose. Not entirely sure if “he” did in that particular, historical way. Being raised in a Christian family and having gone part-way through seminary a few years ago, I do lean in that direction. But I’ve come to see some things in a different light now that I’ve spent a little better than a half-century on this planet. This planet where almost a billion people believe that God became incarnate, was born of a young woman who had never “known” her betrothed. And that his coming among us in that way was the beginning of a Divine plan to make it possible for all of his creatures to enjoy unending fellowship with him and with one another! In this life and in the next! Now that’s a story! One we humans have been telling one another for a very long time, and I’m quite sure we’ll be telling it for a long time to come.

I’ve been struggling for so many years now about exactly how much of the story still “works” for me and all of that. But what I’ve never doubted is that God, or the Divine, does come to us and among us all the time. And I’m finally in that phase of life where I’ve learned to look for it, to expect it and to embrace it. And I know that the other really big thing about Christmastime is to get a bit closer to my brothers and sisters who also bear the image of the Divine One in their souls and on their beaming faces. Some of them were raised on the same stories I was; this one about God being born of a virgin, and many others.

Some, of course, have heard and embraced and celebrated different stories. I’m not very inclined to quibble about the particulars at this point in my life. I’m quite sure that God would love to see us move a little closer together at this time of year, and to go on telling those stories; especially that one about God robed in human flesh, living and dying as one of us. And I’m quite sure that the heart of the Divine is pleased when we carry forward “his” mission to strip away that illusion that our sins, imperfections, and much less, our differences, should separate us from one another or from his Divine Heart.

Well, Christmas Eve has progressed, as it will, into Christmas morning as I’m wrapping up this little holiday message. And I’m sitting here, luminous and expectant, like a six year old waiting for Santa to appear. Like Simeon in the temple, waiting to bless the infant Jesus, knowing then that he has seen and embraced, quite literally, the Divine plan to end our sinful and deadly illusions of separateness. I’m expectant, waiting in earnest to see and to embrace the next manifestation of the Divine. In you, in her, in us. Perhaps–and wouldn’t this be a great story–perhaps in and across many countries and cultures, in four billion human hearts at once!

A wish, a dream, a fervent hope… Perhaps that’s all it is. But a hope to hold close to one’s heart on Christmas morning. God bless each of you today and throughout the year to come. May you be blessed to see the image of the Divine, of the Christ-child in yourself–and in one another.

Ben Lawrence Basile
Christmas morning, 2007

© 2007 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Ben is not the owner of this photo and believes it to be covered under Fair Use

Solving Life’s Little Mysteries

Sometimes in life, you find yourself trying to make sense of something and yet the mystery defies your attempts to explain it. I’m always putting together theories to explain such things, and sometimes those theories are spectacularly wrong. Or very incomplete.

I was in a situation like that a few years ago. The unusual thing that had been happening, that had defied all my attempts at explanation was that almost every time I entered — or left — a store, I would set off the security alarm.

It didn’t happen every time, but it happened a lot. It kind of humored me that it was just as likely to happen while entering as while exiting; in fact, that gave me an opening to try to inject some humor into this mysterious and mildly-stressful occurrence.

“There I go again–trying to smuggle merchandise into a store!” I would quip. But the not-so-funny thing of it was that I still wanted to figure out why it happened and the solution had been eluding me for a good long while.

Then one day while entering a store, the alarm kicked in, fulfilling its purpose by signaling that the gentleman entering the store and sporting a sheepish grin was up to no good.

As it happened, there was a clerk just a step or two away from the entrance. He gave a smile as I launched into my usual explanation about how that had been happening to me a lot and that I had no earthly idea why.

A light seemed to come on for this helpful crew member. He looked at me, a glint of hope shining in his eyes, and he said, “take off your right shoe and give it to me”.

I did as he requested. He took it with him behind the sales counter. Reaching into a drawer, he grabbed some kind of a tool I had never seen. It somehow looked like a pair of pliers and a small pry bar had had a baby.

Well, there on the sole of my right shoe–just forward of the heel–was a peanut-sized gizmo I had never seen.

With my inverted shoe in his left hand, and the plier-thingy in his right, the clerk deftly removed the gizmo from my now-relieved shoe and looked at me with a smile.

I can best describe my mood at that moment as a strange mixture of confusion and relief. The relief part was simply that I knew I had triggered a store alarm for the last time. The confusion part was that it was quite clear that my feeble theories about what had been happening were now all shot-to-hell.

I loved those shoes, I had bought them in my favorite thrift store about two years before this strange scenario played itself out. I love brown shoes as they matched a couple of leather jackets I wore a lot in cooler weather. They were genuine leather, incredibly comfy and had given me two years of hard use in spite of the fact that they were used when I found them in that second-hand store.

As I strode happily out of the store — with two beloved shoes on my feet and without the sound of a shrieking alarm in my ears — the gears in my over-worked brain were turning…

Although I had plainly never put together successfully a theory that explained the robust ringing of alarms, a new question popped up, seemingly begging to be answered. A question that was wrapped around the first question, which had been the focus of prodigious amounts of my time and mental energy.

That foundational question concerned how such a fabulous and functional pair of shoes had come to sit, forlornly, on a dusty shelf in a second-hand store. And in that moment, my top-shelf, methodical mind framed a theory to address that burning question, to solve the larger mystery!

To this day, years later, I’m totally convinced that the reason I was able to steal those gorgeous, hand-crafted, Italian leather shoes in a thrift store for $6.95 was that… that the first owner got sick and tired of setting off alarms every time he entered a retail establishment!

Pure genius!

The proud possessor of a beautiful mind, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Photo credit shock Fotolia

It’s National Brownie Day

Yes, today is National Brownie Day! So I’ll bet you know what I was doing at 1 a.m. this morning… Yeah, you’re right. And it helped to warm up a pretty cold house, too.

I haven’t baked brownies a good long while but considering what day it is, what choice did I have?

Let me know if you’re celebrating the day appropriately, too. I seriously doubt that I’m the only one!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

We Could Bearly Stand It!

Joan and I have annual passes for the Brevard Zoo. We really like being supporters and go when we can.

We never fail to stop by and see their resident Black Bear, Cheyenne. An orphaned cub, she was adopted at about four months as she had to be removed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission; people had been feeding her and she had lost her fear of humans.

That is, indeed, Cheyenne in the banner photo. Here’s one more pose, taken as she began to climb the tree in her enclosure. She easily made it up to about four feet from the top.

Back to my main point, we get quite a bit of mail from the zoo, and I’ve always loved bears. So in response to one mailing a couple of months ago, I took the plunge and “adopted” Cheyenne.

Of course, I’m very well aware that probably a couple of hundred other Zoo lovers got out their checkbooks and “adopted” her as well.

I couldn’t resist making a joke out of the whole situation. I mentioned to one of the zoo volunteers who was with us at the exhibit that I had “adopted” her. And then I just let it lay there for a moment…

Then I looked at her with a completely straight face and asked “now do I have to get her braces and show up at all her soccer games?”

Yeah, she laughed pretty damn hard! 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

A Major Change of Course

The call came from the AP and NBC News this morning that the Biden/Harris ticket did prevail in Tuesday’s election. In spite of the plainly-excessive caution with which the networks had handled the 2020 election results, the time had come to state the obvious.

I know that many Americans see the election very differently, but I’m feeling a lot of relief today. Relief and joy. The last four years under the “leadership” of donald trump have resulted in a thousand disasters, large and small. It’s pure joy to know that we won’t have to endure four more years of trump’s venality, incompetence and crass, hateful behavior.

There are, without a doubt, many daunting challenges ahead for Joe Biden and his nascent administration. I don’t have the slightest doubt that trump, McConnell and the GOP will do everything they can to undercut team Biden and thwart their efforts to move us past the myriad of trump-induced woes that have afflicted our beloved country for the last four years.

But I’m still hopeful that we’ll make progress and move — if even at a painfully slow pace — toward better times for all Americans.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

P.S.: The primary focus of this blog is outdoor activities and the like. That’s not changing. But the just-concluded election is a very big deal, of course, and I couldn’t not give it some treatment. This post bookends the whole tragedy of trump’s Presidency; the post on the front end, so to speak, was published here on Dec. 8, 2016.

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin L. Basile

Is Whiskers purring today?

Well, if he’s not, he should be!

Today’s National Cat Day and it’s definitely a day to spoil your precious ball of fur.

Our cat’s name is Peebles. She’s a senior cat with a sweet disposition. Her one character flaw is that she hates posing for pictures.

What can I say?

My banner photo is from a five years ago. That’s Riley and he was also a fine specimen of fabulous feline felicity!

Be nice to your kitty today. If you don’t have one, think of the last cat you knew and loved. And send him or her your best wishes for a delightful day!

An ardent lover of cats as well as dogs, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Deer and Springs at Kelly Park

We had occasion to camp at Kelly Park in Orange County (Florida) not very long ago and had a terrific time.

We were stunned at how tame the deer were. They came around–and in considerable numbers–every evening and night.

Having said that, I must add that I have no photographic proof. At the times they’d drop by to say hello, the light was already too low for my low tech skills to document the fun.

I took several videos with my cell phone but the light is so low that using the delete feature to put them out of their misery was my only real option.

The banner photo is of one stretch of woods not far from our campsite where we first saw them appear. That was about 45 minutes before sundown on our first day.

This scene is no more than 150 feet from the site where the banner photo was taken and showcases another spot where we saw deer looking for dinner on many occasions.

Kelly Park is known for its abundant wildlife. But the world-famous Rocks Springs which are found there also bring around the crowds all year long. The crowds have subsided of late, as the pandemic has forced Orange County to close the springs for swimming but it’s still well worth your time and a modest admission to see the Springs up close.

We dedicated a pretty good chunk of day two’s time to wander about at Rocks Springs and had a great time doing so. Below is one more photo from those lovely Springs.

I heartily recommend Kelly Park to any of you who are close to Central Florida or who might be visiting in the near future. The plentiful wildlife, the iconic and beautiful springs and the general allure of the Sunshine State beckon nature lovers from anywhere to head this way and stay awhile.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Happy Labor Day 2020

I do want to wish a most happy Labor Day 2020 to all of you who work for a paycheck.

I’m happy to say that I’m in that proud group of people and I always look forward to this day as it comes around each year. I’m a proud member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and have been a Teamster as well.

The UFCW represents workers in retail, breweries and restaurants. Folks in the budding cannabis industry, too. The UFCW also rep’s many of the workers in the meat packing plants that were on the front lines when COVID-19 was devastating that industry back in the Spring.

It’s a very good thing, indeed, to be represented by a union and bargain collectively.

If you’d like to brush up on your history of this auspicious day, just follow this link.

Working folks, thanks for all you do. I wish all of you a happy–and relaxed–Labor Day.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

(c) 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Clem Onojeghuo via unsplash.com