Monday, August 29, 2011

Will The Real Shannon Thomas Casebeer Please Stand Up

My name is Shannon Thomas Casebeer, and I’m about to say some things for which I will undoubtedly take some heat.  I’ve already shown questionable judgment by just posting my picture.  That gesture alone, almost certainly guarantees that someone will label me narcissistic and egotistical, words which at best, I’m barely able to say.  Fair enough!  It’s my blog. Whose photo do you suggest I post?  In any case, there’s a reason for posting my photo here.  Through time, the internet has become lightly seasoned with photos of me at varying stages of my life from 6 months to 60.  This photo is me, now.  This December, I’ll turn 60.  It’s been a long, difficult road.  Besides the ravages of 60 debilitating years, this weathered old rawhide has come through polio, skin cancer, a hernia surgery, two cervical surgeries, osteoarthritis, over thirty unappreciated, incapacitating years in the workforce, and numerous other various and sundry afflictions. I’ve been dumped off horses, donkeys, motorcycles, tree houses, pogo sticks and countless other gut jarring conveyances. The fact that I’m still standing at all, has got to be a testament to something!

   Now, on to the point at hand: Every time I post anything to the internet, my family joins simultaneously in an agonized grimace and a long, synchronized shudder!  ‘What now?” they lament.  “Please don’t post about politics or religion!”  Well, guess what? This blog now contains almost 12 months worth of my views on religion and politics, and other more salient matters.  If I can’t get on someone’s toes, with a benediction like this, I may as well hang it up and just go fishin’!   If you’re sufficiently foolhardy to peruse any of it, keep it to yourself, and please don’t tell my family!
Too be continued…

Friday, August 26, 2011


It’s alright; I know.  It wasn’t your fault.
Yesterday was a hard day.  They shouldn’t have said those things.
It won’t help to rehash it, over and over and over. Let it go. 
My friend Adam took this photo.  This place actually exists.
Regardless of what happened yesterday; this photo captures the real world.
Hang onto it; slip into it.  Don’t let yesterday rob you of life’s magic.
Close your eyes now and visualize this place,
Or any of a thousand spectacular places you’ve seen.
Close your ears and listen.  Hear the water?  Feel the spray?
Can you smell those trees and the breeze coming off the mountain?
Tighten your neck and shoulder muscles, tighter, tighter, tighter, and release.
Now inhale deeply; deeper, deeper, deeper, and blow it all out.
Relax. Life is hard enough. Don’t make it worse by reliving meaningless moments.
Today is special, and today won’t come again.
Don’t waste it, and don’t let yesterday ruin it.
Fill today with good things; share it with others and never refuse affection.
Fill yourself with special moments; forget the rest, smile like you mean it;
And breathe.

S. T. Casebeer
August 26, 2011 

A personal note:  I know this sounds silly,but try it.  All my life I believed that on those occasions when I was smiling, I was smiling because I was happy.  You know what I've realized?  I was happy, because I was smiling!  Try it and let me know what you think.  Regardless of what's going on around you, take a deep breath, smile, and see what happens.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wright's Lake, El Dorado County, California

Photo taken by me, with my Polaroid Land Camera, from my 15' Grumman canoe, long ago, in a galaxy far away. 
Dear God, please God, 
help us preserve our memories! 

A Community of

When our hopes and dreams grow faded,
And we miss the friends who cared;
When old times are consecrated
By the golden hours we’ve shared,

When the streets we tread so long ago
Come back to haunt our dreams,
And we treasure those we used to know,     
And conjure up old schemes;  

When old associates fill our heart, 
And refresh our weary mind,
And we feel as one, those miles apart,
And old woes now seem sublime,

When our flesh, at best, contains us
And we’re far from hearth and friend,
May fond memories then sustain us,
Till we meet, at last, again.

A Hangtown Homecoming

We spent the last night of our sojourn bivouacked at Tahoe, and at first light we began the long trip over the summit.  There was a definite nip in the air as we crested the summit and began our decent toward Twin Bridges. Summer was giving way to autumn and the Quaking Aspen shivered with the first telltale signs of golden foliage.  The higher elevations glacial crevasses had managed to maintain a few patches of the previous winter’s snowfall, and the breeze off the mountains was sharp and invigorating.
   Motoring through Camino, several of the townsfolk waved broadly and someone evidently recognized us and telephoned ahead.  By the time we’d descended the grade and cruised up at Smith Flat House, a welcoming committee had been organized, assembled, and worked into a frenzied anticipation through nearly an hour of waiting.  At our approach, several nostalgia stricken old veterans jumped to attention, removed their old campaign hats, and saluted sharply from the balcony; the community brass band tooted out a tinny but rousing rendition of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, and a crowd of several dozen onlookers lined the thoroughfare reigning in youngsters and cheering enthusiastically.  
   The streets were adorned, quite coincidently, with all variety of colorful banners, in celebration of the foothill’s annual Bartlett Pear Festival, and the atmosphere was absolutely festive!   At our approach, the Daniels boy jumpstarted his brand-new Indian Motorcycle and sped noisily to the front of our rapidly growing motorcade, as a couple of well stoked Stanley Steamers lurched from the shadows and slipped silently in behind.
   Moments later we convoyed triumphantly into Placerville.  Lidge was ahead in the flivver, and I sounded my horn, waving and pointing discreetly by way of indicating my intention to forgo the remainder of the parade route and make an inconspicuous run for home.  Lidge returned my wave, acknowledging my intention, and then preceded for lower town, waving at the adoring crowd as though he’d just been elected to a third term, his wild, white mane animated by the wind off the cowl and ablaze in the twilight.
   My sense of homecoming built to a fever pitch as I motored through upper town, and as I turned off onto Mosquito Road and sped for Reservoir Hill, six weeks of longing and homesickness morphed into inexpressible joy!  Reservoir Hill greeted me with a characteristically spectacular sunset, and as I approached the old home place, the little Scotties came running to meet me, and soft lamplight offered a radiant welcome through steamy windowpanes. 
   As I careened up to the house and stiffly dismounted old Reliable, Mariah stood waiting anxiously on the porch.  Her silver hair framed a welcome smile, gray eyes gleamed romantically in the twilight, and a month and a half of desperate longing had severely whetted my appetite for her company!
   Our eyes met briefly as we arrived at the gate, and as I pressed my chapped lips passionately against her furrowed forehead, we joined simultaneously in a mighty comforting embrace.  The long memorable trip had been life altering and inspirational, but it couldn’t match the emotion of coming home. “Obie’s Quest”

Friday, August 19, 2011

El Dorado

El Dorado
Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old -
This knight so bold -
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell, as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow -
'Shadow,' said he,
'Where can it be -
This land of Eldorado?'

'Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,'
The shade replied, -
'If you seek for Eldorado!'

E. A. Poe  1848.
Poe passed away in October of 1849 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Asa Wilder Daniels

This is my great grandpa, Asa Wilder Daniels, at the family home on Reservoir Hill, just outside of Placerville. In 1873, the President of The United States of America had appointed Asa’s Dad, Surgeon, Jared Waldo Daniels, as Inspector of all the Indian Agencies and Reservations west of the Mississippi.  As a child, Asa had accompanied his Dad on many of these inspections.  Asa had met General Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and many of this country’s great Indian Chiefs. In 1888, Asa arrived in Placerville, purchased the Selkirk fruit ranch on Reservoir Hill, and settled down with my great grandma, Meda Eliza Camp Daniels. During the 1920s, Asa was The Justice of The Peace in Placerville. When great grandpa passed away in 1937, it was front page news in The Mountain Democrat.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Storied Metropolis of Hangtown

Hangtown, California, aka, ol' Dry Diggins
The long hard day had assured a good night sleep, and when finally I came to and looked around the following morning, Lidge and Unk were still sound asleep, dead to the world, and snoring to beat the band!  It was almost noon by the time we got under way.  The sun was high, the humidity low, and the air hung heavy with the scent of Manzanita, the drone of insects, and the obnoxious screech of valley jays. We trudged on with determination all day long and right at dusk we reached the crest of a pine-covered ridge. “Over the mountains of the moon, down the valley of the shadow, ride, boldly ride, the shade replied, if you seek for El Dorado.”  So says ol’ Edgar Allan, and Lord knows Poe is well acquainted with shadows. There below, basking in the last red rays of the rapidly setting sun lay the storied metropolis of Hangtown. A small tormented creek meandered through a series of deep, pine-lined ravines, and clinging tenaciously to each bank, at close intervals and in no apparent order, squatted several dozen shake roofed structures reminiscent of the clapboard shanties that graced the Irish community back home. In addition to the rustic, wooden framed structures were numerous log cabins, and on the periphery of the settlement and lining Main Street on either side, an endless sea of tents glowed hospitably from the lamplight within.  The oak scented smoke of countless campfires hung thick in the motionless evening air, and the entire hollow twinkled in the light of countless lamps and flickering candles.  Laughter and jocularity rose spasmodically from a number of well lit gatherings down below, and a melancholy rendition of “Little Annie Laurie” scratched out hesitantly on a pair of slightly flat fiddles, rose plaintively from a massive canvas covered structure in the center of the scene. We eventually found access to the main street and proceeded slowly and deliberately in the waning light, until we reached a large open area in front of the crowded tent.  This was evidently the heart of downtown. Main Street, lined on each side with false storefronts, dropped in a gentle grade from the east; widening and splitting as it approached a long row of canvas covered shops.  At the east end of this row of shops stood a bell tower as high as any building in town.  Main Street proceeded west, past a number of dimly lit, but well patronized saloons and Center Street lead quickly toward a row of barns and stables, which faced the rear of the shops to their south and hung precariously over the banks of scenic Hangtown Creek to the north. Among the storefronts facing the bell tower from the north, was a well lit eating establishment, and observing our approach from this vantage point stood an elderly man and the very first woman that we’d laid eyes on since leaving San Francisco. "Obie's Quest"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Invitation

Almost every Sunday morning, for the last ten years, I've met folks at the door of a little church in the Ozarks.  Rain or shine, I stand at the door of that little church, and offer my hand.  Not that there’s any reason for folks to take my hand; in my mind, while I’m at the door of that little church, it’s not my hand I offer, but the hand of Christ. Some folks take it; some turn away, but I offer it just the same. It’s offered by way of an Invitation, but it’s not my Invitation.  

My Granddad Daniels loved me unconditionally.
Even as a toddler, I could tell.
Even when I did my drawers or pulled the kitty’s tail,
I knew my Granddad Daniels loved me well.

His was the smile I counted on.
His approval trumped any sorrow.
My darkest clouds were silver lined;
I’d see Granddad tomorrow.

His the delight on Christmas night
That gave the season joy,
In my mind his smile outshined
All other gifts and toys.

At holiday dinners or fire lit camps,
His zest for life shone through.
His childlike spirit incited mine;
Because of his faith, mine grew.

In ’69, we’d been away.
We returned to a note on our door.
My Granddad Daniels had passed away.
I’d see his smile no more.

It wasn’t like the God I knew
To treat our family so.
It wasn’t like the life I’d known,
To deliver such a blow.

What in life could bear the price
Of Granddad’s empty chair?
I saw no purpose for my life,
Without my Granddad there.

Life went on, the seasons passed,
New relationships brought new joy,
But none replace the special place
Of my Granddad and his boy.

That was many years ago.
Decades have brought me here.
My Granddad’s pale, white whiskered face
Now greets me from my mirror.

Still today, I miss him,
As I strive to take his place.
I pray that when folks glimpse my smile,
They see my Granddad’s face.

I know you’ve suffered losses too.
You too have searched for grace.  
And I know you have no earthly cause
To accept this strange embrace.

But I’d like to offer Granddad’s gift,
Of unconditional love,
The Gift the Savior brings us
From His Father up above.

We’re called to love each other now,
While the good Lord grants us time.
And I can’t replace the love you’ve lost,
But I humbly offer mine.

Shannon Thomas Casebeer

Reunion of Civil War Vets, Gettysburg, 1913

Day two of the reunion dawned unseasonably cool and crisp.  I rose just prior to sunup, dressed quickly, and slipped silently from the tent.  Stooping over, I blew enquiringly into the white ashes of last night’s campfire and was rewarded with the encouraging glow of several unspent embers.  These I fed with a hastily collected handful of twigs and acorn hulls, eventually achieving a strapping youngster of a flame, with sufficient appetite to stomach adult kindling. A good blaze now established, I threw on a couple of good-sized logs and filled Asa’s old graniteware pot with branch water.  Within ten minutes the aroma of fresh brewed coffee filled the air. 
   The grayish tint of the eastern horizon steadily brightened to lavender, pink, and then yellow, and wisps of ghostly translucent mist began rising from the cool, damp field.  It seemed likely that this now benign battlefield had long been accustomed to parading ghosts, but I surveyed the scene with no small degree of wonder.  By the time I’d warmed my backside and enjoyed my first cup of Joe, additional campers were stirring; the sound of clanking utensils echoed from the hollow, and the mouthwatering aroma of frying bacon wafted on the still morning air.  I inhaled deeply, smiled and stretched, and safely secured the memory.
   Moments later, several enthusiastic revelers in this nostalgic event found this quiet time an auspicious occasion for tuning their muzzleloaders.  Several volleys sharply punctuated the solitude; the smell of black powder took the field on several constellations of white smoke, and Lidge charged from the tent as though he’d been fired from a cannon! This concluded my quiet time!  Even the most determined drowsers immediately assumed their stations, and another day’s festivities were at hand.  Obie’s Quest”

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Truly Heartfelt Celebration!

Looking back, our lives whiz by before we know what hit us.  We spend our first thirty years thinking about our future, the second thirty thinking about our past, and our last years wondering what the hell we were thinking! The older I get, the more adamant I become in my belief that we should start out old and grow younger every year.  On each successive anniversary of our birth, we could assemble all our friends and family for a truly heartfelt celebration, and joyously remove one candle from our cake.  What could be better than to spend the first fifty years of our life, looking forward to becoming a little boy, and tormenting little girls!  “Obie’s Quest”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lightning Bolt Dispatched

The month of October sailed swiftly by as we worked diligently to become assimilated into our new home.  Becoming a functioning member of a new household is a tremendous blessing and a formidable task!  Early on, my brother and I were versed in a few ground rules. First and foremost, we were cautioned to steer a wide birth around my uncles’ leather-bound Testament.  Among Uncle Gus’ many treasures was one of the first collections of scripture printed in the Colonies.  Back in 1724, Christopher Sower, the Kasebier family, and a number of other pilgrims from the Church of The Brethren, arrived in Philadelphia from back home in Germany. They’d barely gotten their land-legs when the little band of believers found themselves at odds with the local parishioners, because of the Brethren’s infuriating adherence to Christ’s principles of nonviolence, and their exasperating advocacy for the country’s longsuffering Native Americans.  Mercy and tolerance may be fine for Christ, but they chafe polite society. Around 1738, Brother Christopher gets this care package from Germany, and in this shipment is a dandy printing outfit.  Well, Mr. Sower goes to printing flyers and biblical scripture in German, and ticks off the local printer.  Ol’ Ben Franklin, a pretty competent printer himself, was not amused by the sudden competition, particularly from what he considered the alarmingly virulent German portion of Pennsylvania’s populace, but he was way too busy entertaining the ladies, and drafting Declarations, and flyin’ kites and such, to pursue his objections with his usual gusto, so Mr. Sower’s print shop flourished. Uncle Gus’ prized volume occupied a place of reverence on top of his roll top desk, for use during our times of study and devotion, and we kids were under strict orders not to molest the hoary old manuscript, on pain of death and dismemberment!  If a lightning bolt didn’t dispatch us, Uncle Gus would!  "Obie's Quest"

Thursday, August 4, 2011


One summer it was might hot!
It got up to a hundred and four!
The kids was in the cattle tank.
They couldn’t take no more!

When finally them kids had enough,
At last I saw MY chance.
Them kids swarmed down the hill to play,
And I stripped my shirt and pants.

I sprawled out in that water tank,
And things was lookin’ better,
Till them darn kids came screamin’ back,
In hopes of gettin’ wetter.

“We’re gonna git some ice-cream Dad.”
I heard them yahoos yellin’.
“You kids track up your mom’s clean floors,
And you better believe, I’m tellin’!”

I made them yahoos wait outside,
While I went to git their treat.
My birthday suit was ringin’ wet,
But at least I had clean feet.

I opened wide the freezer door,
And leaned in for the rocky road.
You’ve probably guessed what happened next.
If only I had knowed!

I blush to tell what happened next.
I feel so darned inferior!
That freezer door come slammin’ shut,
And froze tight to my bare posterior!

Them kids got tickled, but they thawed me loose.
I’m tickled that’s all they done.
It would have been just like them two
To dial up nine-one-one!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wentworth Springs

Wentworth Springs, California

During the weeks ahead, California’s world-renowned dry heat would partner with July’s annual drought to scorch the daylights out of the parched and cloudless foothills and its thirsty, panting inhabitants.  Not even the jackrabbits were stirring! The inescapable outcome of the county’s worldwide notoriety and resulting industry had been the untimely destruction of the foothills heretofore-unspoiled environment.  With industry and commerce, had come abuse and exploitation.  Where there’s something to ruin, there’s someone to ruin it!  I don’t question our motives; but for every failure of stewardship there’s a grandiose excuse.  Above six thousand feet the encroachment of man and civilization was still only an ugly threat!  Here the majestic Sierras maintained their timeless reign in unmolested grandeur. God was in his heaven, and for those familiar with the Sierras, there’s very little doubt that this is it.  This unspoiled wilderness is our destination.  One full day’s hard ride would bring us to an innocuous little lake on the edge of the nearly impenetrable stronghold of what many believe is surely Gods finest work.  Just shy of seven thousand feet, Loon Lake perches luminously at an elevation where even the hardiest conifer must stop in wonder and admire the heights to which some peaks aspire. 

   This day’s travel would take us northeast into the furthermost reaches of Mosquito Road. Crossing the now familiar swinging bridge at the south fork of the American River, we would continue beyond the rural settlement at Mosquito, passed Slate Mountain and Pino Grande, arriving eventually at Onion Valley Road.  From here we would proceed eastward, passed Robb’s Peak, and, ascending a rugged granite trail along Gerle Creek, arrive at long last at Wentworth Springs. Beyond this odoriferous little mineral spring, Gerle Creek gurgles, splashes and meanders lazily from its snow fed headwaters, high in a desolate but awe-inspiring landscape of granite, stunted conifers, and a hardy little perennial lovingly referred to as mountain misery! I would guesstimate the distance of this little trek at right around forty gut wrenching miles, and rating the ruggedness of the terrain on a basis of 1 to 10, 10 being impassable, I’d have to say it rates a perfect ten!  It was coming up fast on sunset as we arrived at Wentworth Springs.  Of course it would never do to visit a mineral spring and not sample the vintage, so cleaning the mud from the chipped graniteware vessel thoughtfully supplied for just that purpose, I dipped up a generous ladleful, briefly inhaled its boiled-egg-like aroma, and gallantly gulped ‘er down! Suffice it to say, I would not recommend this to a friend!  If you’re absolutely determined to try this delicate bouquet for yourself, by all means, DO NOT INHALE! "Obie's Quest" 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Boundless, Lasting, Comprehensive Peace

Addressing a war torn Nation, Abraham Lincoln said, “We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”  We’ve come through another difficult week in our Country; a time when America is probably as polarized and divided as at any time since the Civil War.  Now as then, a handful of extremely partisan people have purposely inflamed several controversial issues and deliberately brought the entire Nation to its knees for their own selfish interests.  There are fringe elements on both the far right and the far left, whose hateful rhetoric contaminates all efforts for compromise and peace among our electorate. If our Country is to survive and prosper, these fringe elements and their pet issues must be put in perspective and defused.  There is no one issue, no two issues, no collection of issues that warrant or justify the flames of hatred that these fringe elements have intentionally ignited in our Country. It’s time to wake up, calm down, and find common ground.  As a god fearing, patriotic American, I support the duly elected President of the United States of America.  If and when this Country duly elects another, I’ll do my very best to support him or her.  I am deeply passionate about my own personally held beliefs, but I am considerably more passionate about this Country and our unity as The United States of America. Those, whose hateful rhetoric continually fans the flames of hatred and contempt among my fellow countrymen, rarely do so for the good of this Country.  They do so because ignorance and contempt assist them in achieving their own narrow, partisan goals.  Often, ignorance and contempt are all they have to offer. I urge you to ignore those who promote hostility, hatred, and derision, and strive instead for common ground, common good, and a boundless, lasting, comprehensive peace, so that President Lincoln’s hopes may at long last find fulfillment, that, “the mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.” And that God may bless The United States of America.

Shannon Thomas Casebeer