Dear Barbara (Part 2)

India Team 10/30/08 New Orleans Airport
Barbara is the second from the left

I watched the little plane make its way to India and got the email confirming you all landed safely. I'll bet it felt good to get to the hotel and rest. Since then, you have had a whole day and it is about 8 in the evening in India as I write.

Friday here was typical as far as work is concerned. A few people wore Halloween garb. They tried to get me to wear a wig, but I was afraid I would get used to having hair and then it would be hard returning to bald reality, ha. I extolled my repertoire of Halloween jokes and got the usual laughs. I even pulled out my "House where the weenie dogs live" poem.

Once home in the evening, I hurried to take Bear for his walk in anticipation of the trick or treaters. John came in after coaching basketball practice. He was going with the gang to the block party. He dropped me at the Murphy's on his way. Joe and Linda went with us to Boston Street. Of course we sat around talking politics before leaving. It was the usual good time.

I received a voice mail from Elna. She said everything was fine and you all were on your way to the Taj Mahal. I hate I missed the call. When I said to chip off a piece of the Taj Mahal to bring me for a souvenir, I hope you knew I was kidding. If not, let me know and I will see if the US embassy can help you get out of jail.

John left a few minutes ago to go to New Orleans for their scrimmage. He lost his game the other night by one point. He was disappointed because his team led the whole way until a buzzer beater at the end.

I am probably going to go to the gym and work out. Later, Brian and I are going to the LSU v Tulane game at Tiger Stadium. Faye may go with us and we will all meet at Kevin's and grill steaks before the game. Kevin and Robin are going to the game too.

Guess what? There is an Apple Store in Metairie now at the Lakeside Mall. Maybe we'll eventually get one on the North Shore.

Bear is fine. He is taking his medicine like a good boy. He says “Hi.” He is watching me right now trying to will me to his leash so we can go for his walk.

I hope you are having fun and that you are writing down your experiences. We are eager to hear about what you are doing,

Until the next time
Love, John


Dear Barbara

Barbara has gone to Lucknow, India on a medical mission trip with our church. They are trying to help a group of people known as the Dalits. Although the caste system in India is no longer legal according to their constitution, it still dominates Indian society. Dalits are outcasts - lower than the lowest caste. They are considered untouchables and even if their shadow falls on an upper caste individual, that individual is considered polluted. These are very oppressed people. Barbara is going to be assisting the mission in various ways. They are going to touch the untouchables.

Map of India
Some Links:
Dalit Freedom Network

A must see video
The untouchable kids of India

Dear Barbara,
It is Thursday evening here in Covington. I just checked and you just left Chicago. Your plane is at 4000 feet and traveling 220 MPH. Only 13 hours and 31 minutes to go. Knowing how you hate to fly, this is the worst part of the trip for you. No doubt, talking to your fellow travelers will distract you from your fear. I am sure you are excited - you are finally on your way.

I got home at the usual time. I took Bear outside to off load some water and I threw the ball for him a few times. Once inside, the usual routine of munching on a few Pringles and plopping in front of Fox news followed. Since I went out for lunch, I ate the lunch I packed for supper, a sandwich and a box of raisins. Real exciting stuff, huh.

It was dark when I walked Bear and I listened to my Patric O'Brian novel along the way. John is coaching his first basketball game at St. Pauls and he is excited about that.

At work, I told them that you left for India today. Someone asked me why you were going to India? I said, "Because she figures it is about as far away from me as she could get without leaving earth." Of course, I was rewarded with laughter.

I am going to write down these mundane things each day, so when you come home or if you are fortunate enough to get on the Internet once in India, you won't have missed anything.

We miss you already, but we are proud of what you are doing. If anyone can transcend a language barrier to convey heartfelt love it is you.

I just checked the computer and noticed that you are cruising at 31,000 feet and 570 mph. There is a graphic of a little plane on a world map – pretty neat.

Barbara's Flight

God Bless,

Until the next time,


An autumn post

Bear sporting an LSU scarf
It is a beautiful autumn day here in Covington. The contrast of the azure sky against the green oak leaves illumined by the morning sun is breath taking. The air has that fall crispness and the grass is cool and dew laden. Squirrels scamper in the overhead canopy and the result is pieces of acorns and pecan shells hitting the ground like a light hail storm. It is otherwise quiet. The sounds of man take a back seat to the ancient ever present sounds of nature. It is refreshing and enlivening. I could not imagine any drug or vitamin matching the deep feeling of awe and gratitude all of this stirs within me. It is a sense that I have tapped into what is real. It has always been here in some form and long after my life is over, it will continue.

OK, this post is about to head to the more superficial. LSU hosts the Georgia Bull Dogs at 2:30 PM. Say what you will, but what would fall be like without the soundtrack of a football game. The buzz of the crowd and the descriptive conversation of the commentators? Bear will be dressed in his LSU collar / scarf combo modeled above.

Eva Cassidy ArtHave you ever heard of a singer named Eva Cassidy? Her music is whimsical, soft, folk, and acoustic. She died in 1996 of cancer at the age of 36. She was an artist as well. Her niche was to sing other people's songs, yet her interpretation was often better than the original piece. Check her out on iTunes. A few of my favorites are: "Who knows where the time goes," "Somewhere over the rainbow," "Kathy's song," and "Somewhere." If you would like to see her art, you can see it here: Eva's Art.

On her art website, each print or piece has a blurb to explain the occasion or motivation, if known, of her creating it. For instance, the photo to the right has this explanation:

According to her mother, Eva drew this picture in 1991, to be used as labels for honey jars Eva gave to family & friends - to help brighten their winters! On each label, Eva included the words, "Eva's Sun Elixir" in gold letters. The original is now in the home of her parents.
It is strange to come across someone like Eva. I like her work, but she is already gone. She left beauty behind her. What a legacy to have - to know that your time on earth resulted in leaving positive marks on it. She only expressed what was in her. It was given up for anyone who would take the time to enjoy. For those who do so are enriched.

In this time of "gotcha politics" and focusing on what makes us different, appreciating something because it is pretty or because it is a sweet sound is a welcome diversion.

I have said it before, there is much more about all of us that is the same than there is different. The different can be interesting and mind stretching if we were to approach each other with a spirit of love and openness. Instead of looking for enemies we could be fellow sojourners through life.

Yeah but.

Why not?

Until the next time,
John Strain


Good luck Texas

My prayers are with you my Texas friends. If you need help in the aftermath of this storm, I hope I can provide some.
Until the next time
John Strain


Power is onIt has only been two and a half days, but our power is back on. What a luxury to see when it is dark outside. I really think it would do everyone some good to live without power and predictable certainty for a few days every now and then. In my case, lack of something only increases my appreciation of it.

Life is good, even when the power is out.

Until the next time
John Strain

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