Sunday, August 30, 2009

Something for Sunday

One of my oldest friends, an ordained minister who had his own mediation service for many years, preached at our church today. He's the guy who I accompanied to Washington to protest the last Iraq War. He's the lefty that I, a once-righty, have argued with for almost 30 years. He's a fine artist and a tough competitor in a sporting event. And, he's really tough when it comes to talking about how religious people should act: for Christians, Christ-like, or, if you're Jewish, Isaiah-like.

Below is Isaiah 58:1-11, which was the scripture for Jack's sermon. ATTENTION ALL RIGHT-WING CHRISTIANS! This is the Bible speaking ("The Message" paraphrase).

"Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what's wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They're busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?' and love having me on their side.

But they also complain, 'Why do we fast and you don't look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?' "Well, here's why: "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won't get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.' (This ends the Isaiah quotation)

I'M TIRED OF HEARING PEOPLE SAY "WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION". We are nothing of the kind. Those who sputter about the right to bear arms resemble Nazi's more than Christians. As you recall, Hitler attempted to convert the German Christian church into an arm of the militarized Aryan Nation; the radical right seems to be following this example to the letter. Only if these "Christians" start quoting and following Isaiah 58 will we have a lot more Christians in our nation, and that's not something I'm likely to witness.

Here is Jack's unison prayer of confession for this morning. It's simple and direct. It tells it like it is.

"I read in a book
That a man called Christ
Went around doing good.

It is very disconcerting to me
That I am so easily satisfied
With just...going about.

Forgive me.
Help me to change."

When all American Christians can say this prayer together, and then act on it, we will be a nation where many true Christians reside.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Senior Citizen Malaise

I'm driving the volunteer ambulance tonight for the first time in six months. After ten years of intensive volunteering and management activity at the ambulance corps, I took a break. Surprisingly, I found it easy to fill productively the 80-90 hours each month that I had devoted to that activity. Now I've returned, but not to resume that schedule. Mostly, it's because of the "been there, done that" syndrome. As I've aged, I've found that many previously interesting activities fall into that category. Maybe it's senior citizen malaise.

Some people love a routine and feel lost if their schedule is disrupted. Some people are fearful of the new, or of the unfamiliar, or of the difficult, or of the emotionally-charged. Not me. I love the interruption, the unexpected, the challenge, and the conflict. Those things force me to extend myself, to learn, to win or lose, or to settle something. I'm living if I'm doing these things, but age tends to reduce the opportunities for adventures of all kinds.

This summer I've been back on the Appalachian Trail, which has become more of a struggle with the elements and my endurance but is mostly just the same hard slog interrupted by chance meetings with interesting people. I also water-skiied and did not fall, and kayaked, and sailed a little sailboat, and played some golf, and I dove into a lake and swam awhile. I rode a horse for the first time in twenty years yesterday. And, I'm working out on a regular basis and seeing my muscles start to bulge again. But, none of this was new. I enjoyed all of it, but there was no thrill. I miss the thrill.

The season is beginning to change. The sun is setting earlier, and the grass is wet with dew in the morning. Farmers are cutting their hay and harvesting many of their vegetables. Fall brings a change in routine, with activities put on hold for the summer now resuming. But they are the same activities. I need something new.

Maybe I'll try Pilates or yoga, both of which would require concentration and exertion. Perhaps I'll find a way to mentor some kid who needs help. Or, it might be fun to attempt some serious writing, because I know I'd have to study composition in order to produce even a barely acceptable product. And, thinking "out of the box", there's a chance I could learn some mechanical skill even though I'm not very handy; I'd like to know how to make blades very sharp, for example. There's a world of the new out there, so it's just a matter of getting excited about something. I've got to be purposeful about finding that something, or two, or three.

Senior citizen malaise is a common problem. Many of us Medicare-eligible folks seem to be concerned only about our medical problem of the day, or counting our money over and over again, or complaining about why today's world isn't as good as yesterday's. I don't want to fall into that syndrome. If I can stay future-oriented, constantly looking for the next thing, I'll be alive regardless of how long I live. Being thrilled would be a bonus!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Late Summer Vegetables

Upstate New York has a great climage for growing things. Not far from where I live are orchards that produce more apples than any state except Washingon. South and east of my home are miles and miles of lovely hillside and lakeside vinyards that produce a wide variety of wines, some of them quite good. We have a warm sun, cooler evening temperatures, and plenty of rain. But it's the vegetables I'm thinking of tonight.

What's for dinner and dessert? Within a short distance I can find roadside stands selling fabulous local produce at reasonable prices. One such stand is at a small farm about one mile from here. Sweet corn, beautiful big tomatoes, zuccini, cucumbers, green peppers, acorn squash, blueberries, red raspberries ( pick your own, anyone?), peaches, plums, and melons. How about a dozen fresh eggs from the henhouse for $3.00, or homemade peach or raspberry jam? As bonuses you can pet a beautiful old female german shepherd who longs for your touch, or Mrs. Munz will give you some tips on how to best prepare the veggies you just bought.

It's a short season here, but glorious. For a couple months Good Witch and I can't wait to get to the dinner table. It's hard to find room for a small piece of meat on the plate, with all the various veggies competing for space. Plus, I can eat all I want and the needle on the bathroom scale moves in the right direction.

Tonight's hit was fresh tomato slices sprinkled with Italian dressing, crumbly blue cheese, and salt & pepper. Oh, my!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Health Care Plan and Obesity

Listening to an NPR discussion of the health care plan the other day, I heard a libertarian caller come out strongly against the plan. One of his arguments was that it was unfair that he, who takes care of himself, should end up paying for the high health care costs of the obese, who don't take care of themselves for the most part. After thinking about this for awhile, I find it hard to disagree with his contention.

Insurance, which is what the health care plan is, has always taken risk into account. High risk means high insurance cost. If you were the insurer, you wouldn't argue with this. As an insured, you know that if you have tickets or collisions, your auto insurance goes up. If you live where hurricanes are prevalent, your homeowners goes up. If you own a pit bull or a chow, maybe you don't qualify for liablility insurance. If you smoke, your life insurance premium is higher. But nobody's talking about obesity and the cost of health care insurance. Why not?

As I've ranted about in other posts, obesity is a major cause of many chronic diseases that are expensive to treat. And, contrary to what some would say, most obesity is voluntary...put in more calories than you burn off, you get fat. In most cases, obesity is as voluntary as speeding, living in a hurricane zone, owning a pit bull, or smoking. In short, obese people are very high risk for requiring extensive long term health care. Why should the general population pay for the excessive costs of their inappropriate voluntary behavior?

An often-mentioned component of the health care plan would provide coverage for the "uninsurable" or those with "preexisting conditions". Based on my ambulance experience, I'd be willing to bet that a high percentage of people who fit this criteria are obese. Giving these folks insurance at normal rates represents a reward for unhealthy behavior and a financial penalty for those who try to take care of themselves.

I'd be the first to admit that diseases are caused by a multitude of factors, including the genetics that make one tend to be obese. But, even a genetic tendency toward obesity does not cause it; the calories still need to be eaten. It's known that 32% of adult Americans are obese, the highest rate of any developed country, by far. This is a major problem, and not just a financial problem.

If we are to have government get involved in paying for health care, then government needs to manage the spending. Putting a mandatory high premium on the cost of health care for obese citizens is not only the fair thing to do but also the most positive. Insurance is insurance.

"Pre-existing conditions" can be voluntary or involuntary. I'm not asking for high rates on those who have involuntary pre-existing conditions. But obese folks should pay more, and not a little more. Tough love.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

To Thimscool

"Thimscool" is one of my commentors. Yesterday he sent me a poignant poem titled "Brothers in Arms". It echoes my feeling about war, that so much of it is futile and that so many lives are lost or irrepairably damaged for no good reason. Yet it also points out that there is no more solid cameraderie than that experienced by those who fight together. You can read the poem in his comment.

Thimscool is also thinking about theology, as I often do. He wonders why I don't take the Bible literally, and why I think God would allow our world to be destroyed by a natural catastrophe. He must think that I'm a strange Christian!

Regarding the Bible, I'd say that over many years of reading it I realized that there were lots of (meaning, very many) factual contradictions in it. On top of that, and more importantly, it contains plenty of theological contradictions. A lot of this was resolved for me when I learned more about the Bible's diverse authorship and editing. The contradictions were generally due to varying cultural and political views, and the different "memories" of the many writers...not to understate that they were writing about the most difficult subject in the universe, that is, the ineffable creator of it. Given the challenge I think they did a fine job, but if one believes God "literally" inspired the Bible, then God is certainly not perfect. Since I do believe that God is "perfect", it must be true that God tolerates the poor efforts of men and women to comprehend the Godly and write about what God means to them in their own space and time.

A more scholarly review of Biblical contradictions can be found in a book that our friend RWorld is reading: Bart Ehrman's "Jesus Interrupted: revealing the hidden contradictions in the Bible and why we don't know about them". Ehrman is a respected expert on the Bible. I'd also recommend the Old Testament DVD series by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, who I've blogged about, which explores the various authors and their often divergent purposes in an interesting way. This information informs my Christianity rather than damaging it, makes it more meaningful and less dependent on popular ideologues who in most cases distort what I see as clear meanings of the Bible as a whole. For example, any pastoral speech that does not seem to come from a core concept of "love" I regard as non-Biblical.

Regarding God's willingness to let mankind be destroyed by natural catastrophes, the Bible says God will not destroy humanity with another flood. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of other options wide open. In a previous post I mentioned a dual star system that could explode at any time, sending a huge burst of gamma rays right at our earth, in which case we would be extinct in short order. We are also subject to impacts from large asteroids, the outcome of which would be to destroy agriculture and, thereby, almost all of us. Giant volcanic eruptions, such as those in the Yellowstone Park area, could accomplish the same result; unfortunately, the Yellowstone eruption happens about every 250 million years and is currently due. I don't expect any of these things anytime soon, but then again, any of them could happen this month. So, let me say "goodbye " now, just in case. (There are plenty of reliable science sources for the above information. This is pretty basic stuff.) God made the natural laws that cause these cataclysms, you know.

I believe God created everything, and within that, us. I also believe God is more than just "aware" of us, and I hope that our having the capability to envision God and to respond to God was part of a plan that keeps our souls alive and with God in some way, after our physical death. But there is no reason to believe that we are alone in this situation, or that God has any special interest in the long term survival of our species. I could even envision a scenario where a loving God has given us the ability to survive by our own concerted action, but we die as a species because we've not been able to act in a concerted manner. "Oh, well. I tried", lamented God after reviewing our final failure. Mr. Thimscool, as a person who seems to believe in responsibility, is it impossible for you to believe God would like to see us exhibit some of it? After all, God gave us brains.

I'm 65 now, and every year I feel smaller and God seems larger. I am so grateful for my life, and grateful that, unlike so many other lives, my life has been priviledged and not marred by disaster. I also have to confess that the more I learn, the less I feel that I am special. We are tiny creatures with unbelievable limitations, whether we understand that or not. This is not to say that life is pointless; it is all we have to work with, and all God has given us. Therefore, I will rejoice in it, experience it to the fullest I'm able, try to recognize my total dependence on God's creativity and mercy, and go to my death with a sense of expectation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He did not "pass by on the other side"

I had to bail out of my hike this week after 9 miles, unable to cope with climbing Connecticut (Birkshires) mountains in 90+ heat, 90+ humidity, and zero wind. I knew it would be difficult before I started, but I foolishly thought that taking it slow and drinking lots of Gatorade (from powder) would get me through. What I found out is that you lose water much faster than you can replace it.

I won't go into the symptoms that told me I was experiencing heat exhaustion, but they were obvious. I immediately pulled out my map to find the fastest way off the mountain to a main road, and I began hiking my exit, still on the AT. After a few hundred yards I crossed a beautful mountain brook, so I stopped there, prepared another bottle of Gatorade and dunked my feet and lower legs in the cold water for 10-15 minutes to lower my body's core temperature. I was surprised how much better that made me feel! Back on the trail again, I soon found the very steep (meaning, you can fall and die) descending side trail that took me to Massachusetts Route 7. I was careful going down...

Arriving at the road, I saw an entrance to the Housatonic State Park (the Housatonic is a beautiful river) close by, so I walked to within 100 feet of the entrance, put down my pack and hiking poles, and stuck out my thumb for a ride to my car which was parked 10 miles up the road.

A dozen cars and trucks passed me by, but shortly an older large Buick braked suddenly when it reached me. I had a ride! The truck popped open, I dragged my pack and sticks over and into it and parked myself in the front seat where the air conditioner was conveniently on high. I remembered that I had seen a black religious-looking book in the trunk.

The heavy-set driver asked me where I was going, and, upon hearing the answer, said that it was on his intented route. He looked at me and asked if I need to stop to get something to drink, and I answered that I had my Gatorade. I then right off asked him if he was a Christian man, mentioning that I had seen the black book in the trunk. He replied that he was an Orthodox priest who tended to several different Orthodox churches - Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, etc. - smaller churches, he said, and then he mentioned that Rochester, NY, where I live, has several larger Orthodox congregations. He had also done counseling, his explanation leading me to think it had been his way to make a living for awhile.

We chatted briskly as the 15 minutes of our ride together progressed to its conclusion at my blue van. He gave me a minimal synopsis of the four things that he believes make for true religion; contemplation, submission, contrition, and right actions, I believe he said. I told him I was a liberal Presbyterian who sees the model for life in Jesus's actions. We quickly shared experiences of people needing the love and care of others. Then we came to my car, parked safe and sound on the roadside.

My new friend of yesterday was a priest who, upon seeing a stranger needing help on the side of the road, did not pass by. He offered me more help than I requested. He was very much like the Good Samaritan in Jesus's famous answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" As I thanked him and prepared to exit his car, he waved his right hand in the Catholic sign of blessing. But in fact, his ride was the blessing.

Jesus ended his story with, "Go and do likewise." It will be fun to try, and I have a new experience of brotherly love to help me remember the lesson.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The "Death Panel"

I had a wonderful day on the links today, cashing in on a golf outing that I'd bought at a church auction. Two friends and I tooled around the golf course, not paying too much attention to scoring. Then it happened...we did something that ultimately brought our attention to the "death panel".

On the third hole we invited a a single golfer who caught up with us to join our group, and he accepted the invitation. He was a very fit 77 year old of Italian extraction named Joe. Joe could really hit the golf ball despite having a knee replacement last fall. He was amiable, and he helped us play at a slower rate so that we weren't always waiting for the group ahead of us.

On the tenth tee Joe said he was really concerned about the Obama health care plan, especially the "death panel".

"You see", Joe said, "when old people get sick they will have to be reviewed by the death panel to see whether or not they get any treatment! This is no good!"

This was my first personal experience with someone who's been suckered in to the "death panel" scam, the lie apparently first cooked up by a conservative female New York politician who was once Lt. Governor until George Patacki sacked her. She said it, she got quoted by the other conservative shills over and over again, and now Joe thinks it's the gospel truth.

In my world there are gradations of sins. One of the ones on the more unpardonable side is to misrepresent someone else's position. It's one thing to espouse a position that you, yourself, do not believe, and many politicians do this. It's another thing to misrepresent another's views to a third party. It's a despicable thing, a thing that I sincerely hope Ms. Ex-Lt. Governor does many extra years in purgatory to atone for...that is, unless she gets her just desserts in this world before her demise. But for now, she's done her work well. Joe believes her lie.

(Author's note: I have edited out the last line of this post, where in anger I made a rather crude remark regarding this lady's character. I take it back. Instead, I'll just say that I continue to be surprised by the baldfaced dishonestly of some purportedly educated people who, by making false statements, create fear in others in order to influence their position on a matter of importance. There is money involved in these actions, as many of us understand. But is it worth it?)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

An "Eisenhower Republican"

A reader recently asked why I'm still a republican, considering that I rant against the current bunch of republicans and their repugnant spokespersons. Frankly, I'd love to see the republicans come back, since they once stood for something. Here is my answer to the question.

I'm proud of my political roots. Believe it or not, republicans were once honorable. I'm what they call an "Eisenhower republican". In short, we're for fiscal responsibility, non-interventionism in foreign affairs, social moderation, and individual freedom.

Eisenhower republicans would insist on pay as you go budgets, would never have started Vietnam or Iraq War II, would support national health care in this new day and age, and are fine with whatever people do voluntarily as long as they don't directly hurt anyone else. If you recall, Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial complex as a threat to our democracy, and history has proved him right.

I may be dreaming, but I hope the moderate, thoughtful side of the party has a resurgence when these racist, phony-religionist, know-nothing republicans are finally and totally discredited.

Why don't I join the democrats? Well, they're in hock to some pretty disreputable interests. The big unions, in particular the teachers, public employees, and auto workers, have won concessions beyond reasonability and they have proven to be as selfish as robber barons during this economic downturn. The trial lawyers, another group of big contributors, have made a mockery of our justice system by resisting medical malpractice reform and penalties for frivolous lawsuits. And, the democrat's core consists of radicals in many areas - gay-lesbian-transexual, environmental, animal rights, you-name-it they got'em. Don't get me wrong, I'm for unions, lawyers, sexual freedom, animals, etc. - but, let's not be crazy. Ike was a moderate...all things in moderation. That was my advice to my children, and I stand by it.

If I had to choose between the current crop of so-called republicans, people who disdain education and espouse "Christian" hatred, and the democrats, kind-hearted but owned by the corrupt and the daffy, I suppose I'd choose the democrats and hold my nose. The country might be able to hold the democrats back, but the current republicans (influenced by "C Street") could possibly guillotine their opponents in the name of purity and thereby win out. I like my steak rare, but I'm against capital punishment. So there you have it.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another Milestone of Learning

As my few regular readers know, Good Witch and I have been pretty regular about taking courses from The Learning Company. We're concerned that our brains might atrophy if someone doesn't force us to think occasionally! Tonight we finished "Great Figures of the New Testament", a 24-lecture course by Professor Amy-Jill Levine.

Professor Levine, a Jew, holds the endowed New Testament chair in the religion department of Vanderbilt University. She's sharp and she's entertaining. She knows her stuff, and now we know a lot more stuff, too. My mind diverts to consider RWorld's recent post about how our culture pays less attention to experts than it should, and it occurs to me that Professor Levine, a Jew, knows far more about the New Testament than most Christian preachers ever will. Vanderbilt University obviously felt she was a prize catch!

Having finished the course, I reflect on its affect on my Christianity. Well, even the gospel writers had considerably different interpretations of Jesus, so I suppose I'm allowed to come to my own conclusions. Jesus was clearly human, and he said and did things so "pure" that it's hard for me to believe he was not "of God". But I have made a commitment never to limit God, so to say that Jesus is the "only Son", or "only Way", just doesn't cut it with me. I'm more comfortable with the idea that Jesus is "my Way". I can live and die with that.

Good Witch and I will next tackle "Shakespeare's Tragedies", a 24-lecture course. We've enjoyed learning history, music, psychology and physiology, hard science and religion from The Learning Company. Now it's time for literature. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Conservative "1984"

Listen to conservative talk radio or bloggers and you hear the idea that Obama and the Dems are bringing us 1984 - big government that does all and rules all. It's a scary thing, to think that government could control all information and thereby mold our hopes and fears. We would then be subject to - dare I say it's name? - MISINFORMATION! The truth is, MISINFORMATION is the hallmark of conservative talk radio, most conservative commentators, and a great many conservative politicians.

RWorld recently did a great job satirizing the conservatives' constant repetition of the proven falsehood that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, his blog doesn't get read in the south, where fewer than half of the citizens believe Obama is truly a citizen.

Conservative misinformation on health care reform is gagging me out. I could live with half-truths, the mother's milk of politics, but these guys are making the Swift-boaters look like Honest Abe. No, I don't believe we'll be counseled to commit suicide when we're old under the democrat's health care reforms, or that the plan will cover full term abortions. These guys have no shame.

In the interest of being fully informed I sometimes turn the dial to my local Clear Channel talk station. I want to hear what's on the opposition's mind and give it a fair chance; after all, I am still a republican and I once considered myself a mild conservative. These days it's rare I can take five minutes of it, maybe ten if there are interesting commercials. It's the lies and constant character assassination that makes me punch in the station change before I begin to scream.

One does not have to be a professional fact checker to get the goods on these guys and gals. In fact, you will notice a distinct lack of facts, i.e., evidence that a statement is likely to be true. In place of fact, one gets repetition; the idea being that a statement made over and over and over is likely to burn itself into the victim's brain. When repetition gets repetitive, they switch to comparisons: "Senator SoandSo's affair, while unfortunate, pales in comparison to Bill Clinton's." How many scummy republican senators and governors can you hide behind one Bill Clinton, I wonder?

Although the constant MISINFORMATION peddled by prominent conservatives tarnishes the republican party, I'm sure there are more than a few notable republicans who have some respect for truth. Unfortunately, they've been all too silent regarding the sins of their fellows. In the long run, this is going to be a big problem for them. Why do I think so? Do you need a fact? OK. They stuck with Bush while the war and the economy went down the drain. The voters remembered...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The 1,864 Islands

Good Witch and I just returned from three days relaxing in a northern New York area called "The Thousand Islands". It's the place where water from the Great Lakes (actually Lake Ontario, the most eastern of the connected Great Lakes) flows into the St. Lawrence River and, from there, makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Canada is on the north side of the river, and the U.S is on the south side in the Thousand Islands area. What an amazing place!

The inlet to the St. Lawrence River is immense. The "Thousand Islands" area is 50 miles long, and the river narrows from 15 miles wide to 5 miles wide in this stretch. It's filled with islands, some of them miles long and miles wide, with many of the islands privately owned with homes on them. Once estimated at about 1,000 islands, satellite photos have recently confirmed that 1,864 stony protuberances in this river meet the definition of an "island"

The Thousand Islands are the gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway, a giant 1950's project that built locks and cleared channels so that fairly large ships (up to 740' long) could transit out of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It's pretty cool to see such large vessels winding their way through the islands!

It's not possible to adequately describe the mighty St. Lawrence River and the islands. Having been to many places, I'd say that it ranks somewhere near the Grand Canyon in immensity and eye-popping beauty. The islands are rocky, which makes sense because the terrain is part of the glacier-scoured Canadian Shield, but they are also heavily forested. The water is warm in the summer (about 70 degrees), and frozen to ice in the deep winter. We saw lots of "SkiDoo-type" watercraft, and some wet-suited divers who were likely out to dive on one of the many wrecks that dot the river bottom. At one point on a tour, we crossed over a bottom that exceeded 200 feet in depth! Needless to say, boats are everywhere, and most of them are cruisers of one type or another because this is big water.

In the late 19th century the Thousand Islands were discovered by the tycoons from New York and Philadelphia, many of whom bought islands or shore property and built immense homes or hotels. The relatively cool summer weather and recreational opportunities (boating, fishing, and partying) made the islands a seasonal paradise. We visited the "Boldt Castle" on Heart Island, a giant castle-like structure constructed almost to completion by the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, but abandoned when his wife died of tuberculosis at age 45. (Go to the "Boldt Castle" web site to see this incredible structure now largely restored.) Even now, the Thousand Islands is "Millionaires Row". We saw an island home for sale - $36 million, and worth every penny! You get the idea. There are plenty more of them, too.

When "Prohibition" came, the islands became a smuggler's paradise, the gateway for Canadian booze to reach those large Eastern cities (by boat in the summer, over ice in the winter). You see, the Canadians were very good neighbors! Nowadays, however, the Thousand Islands has plenty of nice little waterfront towns complete with bars offering liquor from all over the world.

I've lived just south of Rochester, New York, for 33 years, but never before had I been to the Thousand Islands which are only three hours away by car. Now I want to buy a large sailboat and spend part of each summer going there and back. We'll see how the Good Witch feels about that! In the meantime, if you're looking for a new and special place to visit, think about a few days there. You, too, will be astounded at what "nature" has accomplished in this spectacular place.