It’s National Napping Day

It certainly is National Napping Day and this is the perfect time for me to remind you of the benefits of napping. And to promote it as enthusiastically as I can.

It’s something I engage in. Quite a bit. And I recommend this salutary and beneficial practice to one and all.

So what are you waiting for? Power down that infernal, serenity-stealing device right now, throw yourself prostrate on the nearest couch and celebrate today’s auspicious day the way you were meant to!

You’re welcome!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit The Indian Express

A Visit to Bok Tower Gardens

Joan and I had the pleasure of visiting Bok Tower Gardens a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. And I did get a slew of photos. I’ll be able to get a handful of them into this posting.

The gardens at Bok Tower Gardens are truly extraordinary. I won’t be featuring any photos of the actual tower at Bok Tower Gardens here; that will have to wait for me to break some time free for another photo editing session. But the gardens — taken just by themselves — are quite extensive and stunningly beautiful. This path leads to… well, it leads to more of the gardens, of course.

Near the foot of the tower is a reflecting pool that is a fine focal point for folks like me carrying a camera around. I took many here from different vantage points and will, no doubt, be featuring more of those in the near future. The one below is my favorite from among the 20 or so pictures that I took of the pool and the beautiful scenes all around it.

There are spots within the gardens where your eyes just might play tricks on you. In the photo below, it can seem as though the area around this modestly-sized pool is a part of a much larger tableau. And though it’s not a puny scene by any means, it seems as I look at it now to be only a small part of a scene along a free-flowing river that meanders through the beautiful, bucolic countryside for many miles.

The founder of Bok Tower Gardens is Edward W. Bok, an author and editor who became wealthy in the early 20th Century in the publishing business. He wrote a couple of books of note and was well-known in his time as an intellectual and a lover of the outdoors and of the beauties of Nature. He had a saying and visitors at the famed gardens that bear his name can read it in several places within the bounds of those lovely spaces which have served well as the theme for today’s post.

We enjoyed our visit to Bok Tower Gardens earlier this month. Enjoyed it immensely. And we most certainly will be going back in the near future. Just as soon as we’re anywhere near Lake Wales. If you’re interested in making a visit of your own, you can find the appropriate info right here. If you’d like to learn a bit about the history of the gardens in particular, this page would be a good place to start.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Not Littering but Environmental Crime

I came across a story on Wednesday about a Florida man who had just been arrested for the crime of littering. Felony littering, that is. Our Department of Environmental Protection was on the case.

As with any crime, any bad act, sometimes the offender is merely dipping his toe in the water, so to speak. But sometimes they’re way out in that beautiful, deep, blue sea, swimming with the sharks.

That’s a better metaphor to use in trying to describe the seriousness of this miscreant’s very, very serious act of littering. All he did was dump ten 250 gal drums of liquid polymers and paint onto someone else’s private land.

So no, it’s not quite like the low-life who pitches his full, greasy Wendy’s bag out of the driver’s side window while cruising down the freeway. No, this unnamed environmental disaster on two legs needed a rental truck and a forklift — and multiple trips — to carry off this Lollapalooza of Litter!

Hearing about crimes like this can leave me so angry and frustrated that I hardly know what to do. In this case, it’s a powerful consolation that Florida’s DEP has the necessary tools to hold accountable the criminals who commit such outrages.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Yes, anyone arrested and/or charged with crimes is innocent until proven guilty.

The banner photo is from another incident and is — I’m pretty sure — covered by Fair Use.

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Oh, no! It finally happened!

I can’t believe it! I’ve been dreading this for years and now, and here we are…

I could barely make myself get out of bed this morning. Because I knew.

National Pizza Day and Taco Tuesday have finally fallen on the same day! I have no idea what we’re gonna do when dinnertime comes around tonight.

Please, for God’s sake, someone get into the comments and tell me what to do…

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

The Environmental File: another troubling sign

Climate scientists are doing great work, trying to get ahead of some of the many problems we’re facing as the damage we’ve done to the Earth becomes more and more apparent.

The way rainfall is distributed around our planet is changing. And, as you might imagine, those changes will become more pronounced going forward.

It’s a bleak situation and the effects are being felt over large portions of the Earth.

The good news — if there is any — is that we have climate scientists who have their eyes on this, and so many other urgent issues arising out of our collective failure to care for our Planet. 

The bad news is that there are still many citizens — and governments, sad to say — who don’t believe any of this is real. Or that it is caused by from human activity.

To have a look at a CBS News article from last week that shines a light on this bleak situation, just follow this link.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Ben is not the owner of the banner photo and believes it to be covered by Fair Use.

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Today is National Bird Day

It surely is and so I’m offering my favorite bird photo of the last ten years. I took the banner photo back in 2016 at Trimble Park in Orange County, Florida. It was a keeper and I’ve featured it before. A long time ago, I hasten to add.

And in 2012 my camera caught Peter Pelican at an opportune moment. I don’t think he was too eager to have his picture taken; he was flying away at warp speed, in fact.

But I got him! This was at Cocoa Beach on a cloudy October afternoon just eight years ago. My, the time passes so quickly…

Enjoy the beauty and majesty of nature. If a part of the beauty you take in today includes some choice winged and feathered specimens, it would be so appropriate.

Not that you can’t the other 364 days of the year!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

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