Of Love, Grief and Death–and of Constant Change

Here’s a post about changes. About changes, the passing of a friend in particular, and the way changes and endings come at you as long as your heart is beating.

Pebbles Bundy crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. She was a few weeks short of her 12th birthday and had been suffering from a digestive condition for several months.

She was as sweet a cat as you could ever hope to meet. Gentle, sweet with a wonderful, mellow feline disposition. Food in her dish twice a day and some petting and stroking in the evening was all she ever asked of life.

When we went on our two day camping adventures she would watch us pack and go with an unruffled, mellow manner and greet us at the door when we came back home.

I helped Joan get her ready for her final trip to the vet as I was getting ready for work. Joan is a wonderful Cat Mom and it was her sad duty to take her to the good docs and staff at St Charles and be with her as she made that final journey.

I was relieved in a way that I had to get myself in to work while Joan made final arrangements. Being a part of that scenario would have added another layer of deep sadness to what has already been a challenging time for me.

I have been grieving the loss of another cherished relationship: Joan and I had come to a parting about three weeks before Pebble’s time with us came to its own end. I’m moving back to Orlando next week.

As I reflected on the last three or four weeks, and what happened today, it occurred to me that Pebble’s passing was — among other things — the last event where Joan and I would focus together on a matter of great and enduring significance to both of us; The final time we would be fully engaged in something that had the power to move us deeply and to touch a place in our hearts. The final time we would share deeply-felt emotions that no one else shared or could fully understand.

Changes and endings. They’re a huge part of life. They keep coming. It’s not going to stop. In fact, when we get to a certain stage of life, the changes accelerate, they fly by so quickly that we sometimes are hard-pressed to take in fully their true significance.

Some of those changes involve a death. A death of a friend, a family member. The death of a dream, of a cherished relationship.

It’s not going to stop.

Hold on tightly to your friends, your loved ones. The friends who walk on their hind legs and the fur-bearing ones who love you unconditionally, with great ardour and whose love has the power to touch us in the deepest places in our hearts.

Hold tightly to them when the fire of love burns brightest. Love them, return their love and release them to the love, care and wisdom of the Universe when a time of ending comes.

And trust that your love — mingled with theirs — and the memories of shared experiences, of your time together will sustain you.

Sustain you and offer a sweet note of consolation. Especially if you must walk life’s path alone for a time.

Healing Love to all of you. And all whom you love.

A loving, grieving and hopeful man, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile 

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile
Photo credit Joanie Bundy

Happy Labor Day 2021

I do want to wish a most happy Labor Day 2021 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 Labor Day history, 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

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

August 30th is here, and…

…and it’s National Beach Day! Happy to say that I’m heading out in a few hours to get in on the party!

If you’re anywhere near the coast–any coast–I hope you’ll get some sand in your shoes today.

That’s my plan exactly! Just threw the cooler and that over-sized beach umbrella in the back of the car!

The banner photo is of a recent trip to Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville here in the Sunshine State. That’s the closest National Park to me; we never miss a chance to take in its unspoiled beauty.

The photo below was taken at Cocoa Beach, just a bit to the south of Canaveral. I took it about ten months ago. When I view this one, I can almost hear the waves lapping at my feet and smell the sea air.

Enjoy your day whether or not you make it to the shore! If you’re only just now hearing about how special this day is, and can’t get in on the fun, I’ll give you an excused absence. Just this once!

And if you don’t make it, remember this: you certainly don’t have to wait ’til National Beach Day 2022!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Two Nights at Jetty Park

Because of work commitments, our vacations are generally of the weekend variety. Which may or may not actually fall on a weekend, by the way.

In our most recent getaway, we had occasion to camp for two nights at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. It was a wonderful time in many ways. That happy camping excursion took place a couple of weeks ago.

If you’re familiar with the Spacecoast region of Florida, you probably know that Cape Canaveral is a stone’s throw away from Cocoa Beach. They’re adjacent, running together along a busy stretch of A1A in Brevard County.

We know our way around the area and were sure that camping in the middle of some of our favorite spots would make for an unusually good trip. We were 100% correct on that.

We enjoyed lunch at Rock the Guac, a well-known Mexican-themed eatery a block north of the uber-famous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop. (The original location.) That one-off is always a treat. I generally opt for one of their belly-busting burritos. I did again and I assure you it will not be the last time.

We enjoy shopping at Coastal Produce in the downtown Cocoa Beach area. It’s our go-to on our frequent visits to the area for freshly-baked cookies, sandwiches, croissants and, well, produce. Their very good salad bar was a COVID casualty and I’m happy to say that it’s back.

We made a quick visit to the Cocoa Beach Pier as well. It was way too close the closing time to really get the full flavor of the pier. It is — as you may know — an attraction all its own but it shuts down hard at 8 PM. I’ve enjoyed it in previous visits and we’ll head back to the pier on our next beach trip.

It would, of course, be silly to not say more about the actual camping at Jetty Park! It was very enjoyable and we’ll be pitching our tent there again before year’s end, without a doubt.

If you’re an RV’er, I’ll warn you that many of the spaces there have little-to-no shade. But that’s not an important consideration for many who go the RV route and the many amenities and proximity to the beach more than make up for the semi-barren landscape you’ll find in some parts of the park.

Those amenities include the fishing, especially from the famous jetty at Jetty Park, a beautiful stretch of beach on the jetty’s south side and a perfect view of Port Canaveral’s Cruise Ships as they come and go. The only ship making way during our stay headed out at exactly 1:45 AM on our first morning. It was quite a sight as most of us never see one so close that you could identify a friend standing on the deck as the vessel heads out of the port.

It was a very impressive — and unexpected — sight and was totally eye-popping even though our camp site is on the far end of the camping area. There were no passengers on board, of course, as full cruising has not resumed yet. But it’s not uncommon to see ships coming and going as there are reasons to keep those impressive vessels on the water even when there are no passengers aboard.

We are the real campers and are proud of it! Meaning tent campers, of course. And most of the tent sites are the kind I like and search for: completely sheltered by Mother Nature’s lovely trees and foliage.

There are no hook-ups for the tent sites but if you enjoy the primitive style of camping, I’m quite sure you’d like the ones at Jetty Park. And they threw in those lovely and ubiquitous Beauty Berries that grow wild in many corners of the Sunshine State at absolutely no additional charge! Yeah, we don’t actually nosh on them, they’re a bit on the tart side; But we love to find them at the wilder parks we visit.

Jetty Park has other amenities, too. There are laundry facilities on site, though you must get your tokens from the office. There is a store for campers and day visitors; it’s in operation from 10am to 3pm seven days a week.

If you enjoy camping in Florida, give Jetty Park a try. It’s one of the few parks in Florida where you’re mere steps from the shore. It’s definitely a Top 3 park for me and I don’t have the slightest doubt that you’d enjoy it as well.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

It’s All About the Moon

It was exactly 52 years ago that Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Lunar soil.

It is, indeed, a monumental occasion. For so many reasons.

One of the many things that has happened as a result of this historic mission is that today, July 20th, has become National Moon Day.

So today we look back over that amazing achievement. It is, in my estimation, the Crown Jewel for NASA and quite possibly for the US.

I will never, never forget what I was doing at the moment Mr Armstrong thrilled our Nation and the world with this stellar feat of human achievement.

And it’s a very good time to just reflect on how awesome it is to have our luminous, singular moon.

And to think about space exploration and new vistas in general.

It’s ever onward and upward!

“Moondog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

It’s Only Three Weeks

It’s only three weeks until we set out on another camping adventure. This time it will be Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The park that’s well-known for — among other things — being very, very close to where the Cruise Ships launch in our part of the Sunshine State.

And speaking of sunshine, we haven’t seen a whole lot of that in the last few weeks. So I’ve got my fingers crossed that Mother Nature will smile on us when it’s time to head out.

We love the whole area around the park. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from Cocoa Beach and a thousand places we love and try to get to regularly. Camping very, very close to the shore is lots of fun. We do that when we can, at Jetty Park — in the Cape Canaveral City Parks system — or at Sebastian Inlet State Park near Vero Beach.

Get outdoors, friends! You’ll have lots of fun, I’m sure and move the needle on your stress meter out of the red zone!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Burning in Seattle

It’s hot in the summertime. It’s always hot in the summertime.

But it’s getting hotter each time Summer comes around.

The Pacific Northwest here in the United States is baking right now and it’s a very serious situation. High Temperature records are being set on an almost-daily basis in that region of our Nation.

This timely and informative article treats this alarming matter in detail but isn’t wonky at all. I recommend it for all who’d like to have a closer look at what’s going on as we get deeper into the Summer of ’21.

If we’re serious about safeguarding the life and well-being of the Planet on which we all depend, we cannot merely sit on the sidelines while Gaia continues to warm.

The consequences of doing so are too bleak to contemplate.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

NTD is a Perfect Day to…

One of my favorite National Days is this one; today is National Trails Day and it truly is a perfect time to get out and walk a trail near you, find a new one or plan your next outing.

If you visit this site, you can find ways to help spread the word about hiking and trail-walking and advocate for this splendid way to build fitness and promote serenity.

Enjoy the day, whether or not you’re exploring a new or familiar outdoor trail or simply walking down life’s path.

Joyfully navigating Earth’s lovely terrain, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

National Wine Day

Yes, it’s National Wine Day. Yes, you should celebrate tonight.

No, it doesn’t have to be any particular wine.

But you must celebrate this magnificent occasion. The vintners of the world are counting on you.

Don’t mess this up.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Friday Fine Fotos

Our Friday Fine Foto for this week was taken at Downey Park in east Orange County a little while ago. This picture never fails to transport my Nature-deprived being back to a place where the beauty of our Natural World can be seen, felt and taken deeply into one’s soul.

There are so many places in my neck of the woods where this can be easily done. Downey Park is one of certainly one of them.

Your Nature-loving puppy, I am

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile