Lincoln City Mayor Susan Walhke… Conversations with Community Building Partners…

Mayor Susan Walhke, Mayor, Lincoln City Oregon
Heidi Lambert, Executive Director CASA
and Steve Sparks…

https://www.thenewsguard.com/news/special-election-wahlke-wins-lincoln-city-mayoral-race/article

There’s one thing certain about my friend and colleague, Mayor Susan Walhke. She believes in a collaborative community, and knows how to build strong relationships. She also knows from her personal life and experience with early childhood education, the importance of “Trauma Informed Care.”

It is for these reasons Heidi Lambert and I met with Mayor Walhke at City Hall. We had much to discuss. The timing could not be better for Lincoln County and Lincoln City to have Mayor Walhke at the helm…

There is so much to do following the Pandemic and fires of this past year. The County has double duty providing services to the most vulnerable citizens, who suffer the most from trauma and PTSD.

Covid19 and devastating fires have taken a toll on our citizens, especially those who have economic hardships and challenging health care needs. Access to services, including affordable housing, is far worse than before Covid19 and tragic fires in North Lincoln County and Lincoln City.

I have been serving on Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO) statewide Steering Committee since the spring of 2020. Heidi Lambert, during this same period, became a certified trainer for Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO) www.traumainformedoregon.org. She was Lincoln/Tillamook Counties CASA’s new executive director during this stressful time as well.

We all know how critical it is to build more services through community based organizations (CBOs). Lincoln County and the many CBO partners, including Samaritan Health Services, Lincoln County Health and Servives, and Sheriff’s Office, built a Trauma Informed Care (TIC) platform with the Stepping Up Initiative (SUI) (www.stepuptogether.org) starting back in 2016.

So what are we going to do next? With Mayor Walhke’s support, we will reconvene critical and essential Lincoln County and LBL TriCounty partners to build on the highly successful Stepping Up Initiative model.

The LBL region came together in 2016 with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, County HHS, Samaritan Health Services, CHANCE, Reconections Counseling, and other essential CBOs to launch Stepping Up Initiative. We will do it again even better, more robust, cost effective, and sustainable.

With Mayor Walhke’s support, and Heidi Lambert’s leadership, we will continue conversations to kickstart and fund TIC community training. Heidi is teaming up with me as TIOs TIC facilitator to build a TIC Training strategy with Lincoln City and Lincoln County.

This project, like SUI, is a community based organization CBO model, funded by public private philanthropic partners and other collaborators. We know how to do this, to be sure.

We know how to build a sustainable TIC community based business model. Lincoln County, as a rural coastal region, leads the nation and is recognized as a model County, in this important work.

Yes! As a community, we can do this. We know how, and we will. We can save our children if we do this. Let’s do it! We must do it!

I want to thank my friends and colleagues, Mayor Susan Walhke and Heidi Lambert, also Waldport City Councilor, for hanging out with me today. It was a fun and lively meeting, and quality bonding time. Most importantly, we have a few actions to kickstart our dreams to build a kinder and more loving community, especially for our kids, who deserve this from us. Would you agree?

We can do this! We’ll keep you in the loop…

Steve Sparks Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate
and, Business Transformation Executive and Non-profit Boards Consultant…
Moonshine Park

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Mindfulness Meditation Moments from God… “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, sets me free…

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silenceIn restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silenceAnd in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence”Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silenceAnd the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was formingAnd the sign said, “The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Paul SimonThe Sound of Silence lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, DistroKid

Reflections ‘n Dreams…

I was so moved when my old pal, Chas, sent me a video clip of this tune from my younger years growing up as a surf dude in Southern Cal. It was “Simon and Garfunkel” who set me free on the waves at “2nd St. Hermosa Beach Jetty…”

Sound of Silence, was in my mind then. I couldn’t stop hearing it. I grooved on it all day, and in my dreams. It still is in my dreams…

When I was waiting for the next set of easy riding glassy waves to come in, Sound of Silence got louder and more dreamy like I would be set free. I dreamed back then of being set free…

I still dream of being set free when Sound of Silence enters my soul. I feel that glassy wave again. I feel it. I hear the sound of freedom in the wind, and gentle power of everlasting breaking waves in that moment…

I feel it. I smell it now. The sweet smell of salty wind and blue seas. The warm salty water on my back. It set me free in that moment. It sets me free now…

I feel that way now. It was then I knew the sea would set me free…

Set me free!
Steve Sparks
Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

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On Father’s Day… Recovering from Being a ‘Shitty Dad’ in Old Age…

Steve Sparks
Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

So, what does it mean when I say to you, “I’m a recovering “shitty dad?” It’s a tough conclusion for an old dude, but a healthy one. Let me explain why…

Being a ‘shitty dad’ is how your kids perceive you, not what you want them to believe. Pops (and moms too) who are challenged with life’s hardships and pain onto themselves, always strive to be the best parents they can be. I didn’t become a shitty father because I wanted to, no way…

I made bad choices for lots of reasons that never added up to excuses I could sell, but mostly pain in my heart and soul. I looked out for me, mostly, as my life headed in directions important to me. But in the eyes of my children, not so important to them…

I was a shitty father, and didn’t know it then. I know that now, though. I can admit that now, too. It took many decades to come home to this reality of not being there for my kids, mostly, when they needed me the most…

It really hurts kids when parents are unhappy. We are angry and act out at times in ways that show a lack of empathy, compassion, kindness and love. WOW! That’s a mouthful of my TRUTH!

Kids inhale the pain of parents far more than we could ever imagine. Children are resilient and forgiving. There is so much love and kindness in the hearts of our little ones. They know only teddy bears, hugs, and Santa too…

Kids see and feel dads far less than moms, we mostly agree. He often leaves early, comes home late, or travels to far off places kids don’t understand or know. He talks to them mostly on the phone, with kindness and love, from far off places we didn’t understand or know…

When he did come home, he seemed tired and distant. He got angry at mom and us kids too, for reasons unknown to us then…

Pops liked to do stuff on weekends too, like play golf, go fishing, watch Sunday night football, and hang out with friends when he was home. Pops seemed to not like being home, mostly. He seemed always tired and crabby too…

Pops seemed distant and angry, mostly, when he was home. He didn’t like to be home, it seemed back then. Maybe he didn’t like kids, who knows. But he loved me, I hoped so, always, in my heart and soul…

Mom seemed sad when Pops was home from a long week on the road. She had plans for family time, but Pops was always too tired, mostly. He and mom would fight or argue about stuff we didn’t understand or know back then…

Pops would get a little on the tipsy side most nights when he was home. A Tiquila shooter or two and a Corona for show. He was usually in bed earlier than most dad’s we knew back then.

Other dads seem to hang out with their kids and attend school events. They even helped with homework and played games or listened to music with their kids, mostly… Other kids joined them too…

The saddest day in a child’s life is when moms and dads break up. Pops often left with a huff ‘n puff, slamming the door, yelling loudly, those ringing profanities with that unforgettable mean look…

My mom slammed the door sometimes too, screaming, waving her hands and pointing fingers. She used 4 letter words too. She was mostly sad, though…

Stomping up and down, throwing shit around, was common place back then. We were scared and sad about that. We seem to behave this way as adults too. I did, and feel ‘shitty’ about that, you know…

Pops usually returned a little tipsy, and went to bed. He got up early most days. He was gone before the sun came up. Mom seemed sad like that most days, back then…

When Pops left us when we were little, we didn’t understand that either. There are lots of things we never could understood, not in a lifetime. Kids need hugs, kindness, love and Santa too…

Sometimes, for too many fathers like me, we didn’t know how to be fathers. My father was mean and angry mostly, just like I was too… We inhale the pain of our parents when they are sad or angry. We inhale love too, when we know and feel kindness and love…

I arrive at my 54th Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Will I get to 55 years as Pops? Who knows…

But this year is my very first year of being a better Pops in my heart and soul. All the past Fathers’ Days in my life are put behind me. And, with a healing perspective never before realized until now…

I will be a good Pops from this day forward. I will leave this life as a good Pops, indeed, a great Pops. It will be my children who decide that in the end, not me. They will have kindness and love in their hearts and souls again, just like back then.

Happy Father’s Day to all the the dad’s who truly love their children, like me. For, I believe we are all forgiven in the end, with kindness, love and Santa, too…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
Memorial Day 2021
VFW Memorial and Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon

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Finding My Roots… A Child of War Recovering Repressed Memories…

Steve Sparks
Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

Living with lost memories from my childhood has been a lifelong emotional challenge, and then some. I’m not alone. Too many kids from my generation have had to live with repressed memories for decades without help. In my case, this painful outcome from growing up in a profoundly dysfunctional home culture has taken its toll on my mind. Loss of memory for anyone is a huge loss of identity.

Unable to connect the dots to life experiences as a child and young man took away my roots and identify as a person. I always held out hope that someday my memories would return.

Getting some clarity from those painful years as a child didn’t start to happen until 7 decades of my life. I believe it is never to late to find peace of mind. Indeed, my whole person is returning little by little with love and support.

Without my younger brother’s help in these later years and guidance from my trauma informed psycotherapist, it would be nearly impossible to bring these memories back.

Remembering everything is not the goal. Finding little nuggets and putting together a continuum reveals the truth. I can now see a bigger picture and trajectory of life as a child. In all honesty, I was scared to go there until getting comfortable with “Trauma Informed Care.” It’s complicated… So complicated I now have complete empathy for all those boomer kids affected by WWII when our father’s came home so damaged emotionally and physically.

Brotherly Love…

My brother Danny and I were born in 1946 (me) and 1947. following our father’s return from serving in hard combat for all of WWII in the Pacific Asia Theater. We are 10 1/2 monrths apart. My bro remembers everything, and it is terribly demeaning to me. It triggers emptiness in my heart and soul to be unable to remember his stories of our childhood together… But there is hope, indeed…

Danny and me….life long buddies! Katzenhammer Kids?

Searching for my roots…

I found an opportunity in the fall of 2019 to revisit my childhood by capturing our family experiences and connecting the dots. It was my father’s US Navy medical records and duty stations during his 22 years of service that opened the closet for me to explore in much detail and depth. Children from the post WWII generation or later can order military records and rediscover your past. For me connecting the missing dots is a gift… Now, memories are returning. I’m grateful to the US Navy to have secured my father’s complete records of his naval career and medical health records.

Let’s go back in time to my father’s heroic service during his US Navy career. This fateful period of history begins in 1936 with Dad’s very first duty station as a coxswain aboard the USS Tennessee in the South Pacific.

I want to share the work of capturing our family’s life until my father retired from the Navy in 1958. Wow! What an adventure! Come with me on this journey of revisiting a past lost from too much trauma. Anyone who has access to military records can do the same…

Body of work…

USS Andromeda (AKA15) San Diego 1953. From the left, Marcella, Jerry, Steve, Vernon and Dan (behind Dad)

Department of the Navy, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washing ton D.C.

Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, 328 41 29, USNFR-F6, May 1, 1966…30 years of honorable service

By Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…

This body of work is described as a deep dive chronology of my father’s service to America, ”The Greatest Generation” of men, women, and families who served.

I received Dad’s military records, including medical, in February 2011 and used a reference for writing my first book, Reconciliation a Son’s Story, published by Signalman Publishing in November 2011. My goal is to accurately portray the trajectory of Dad’s Naval Service to show the tragic effects of too many years of hard combat deployments on this man, his family, and the intergeneration impact on all of us as a family.

There are too many stories from all wars just like Vernon where the emotional damage of war comes home to the kitchen table. Without adequate and consistent life-long treatment of symptoms of PTSD, including lingering and painful untreated depression, take a huge toll on the lives of so many military families over several generations until the cycle of pain ends.

The Sparks family now heals as a family, the pain stops with us…no more! As a family legacy we desire that others benefit from the awareness that has provided a foundation for healing decades of emotional trauma and strife as a military family. How did we survive and thrive growing up in a profoundly dysfunctional home. How did we finally face our own mental health challenges and confronting the demons holding us captive for too many years as adults?

Bos’n Sparks Ship Log 1936-1958, A Soul Lost to War…Conversations with my father…

Dad, not too long before retirement in 1958
Dad, USS West Virginia, Pearl Harbor 1941
Vernon made BMC in 1943
USS Bellegrove.

Vernon H. Sparks made Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC) in 1943 when the USS Belle Grove (LSD2) was commissioned for duty in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.

Vernon loved the Navy and serving America. He made Bos’n 1st Class in 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  To begin this chronology, following is my father’s first account of his experience aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) on that fateful day, December 7, 1941. Vernon was a highly decorated US Navy veteran.

National Park Service

Survivor Questionnaire – Persons Present December 7, 1941, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii

Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Battleship USS West Virginia, Coxswain

Hometown: St. Paul, Mn

USS West Virginia during the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, Sunday, December 7, 1941 at 8am

From Ship’s Crew Muster:

Sparks, Vernon H.               328-41-29             Cox.        13           Jan.         36           10/12/39

The “Owl Bar. ” Dad on the tiller while on patrols… 1938-39

Vernon & friends at the Owl Bar and on island patrols 600 miles south of Manila c1938-39…Vernon, as a coxswain on the tiller. Vernon’s first shipboard duty 1936, full steam ahead USS Tennessee, click photo.

Vernon was born in Eldred, Mn on December 10, 1918. He spent his childhood growing up in St. Paul, Mn. Following a challenging time growing up during the Great Depression, he joined the Navy in December 1935 at age 17. (I took the que and followed his steps) Dad wanted to “join the Navy and see the world” as did countless men from that time before WWII.  He graduated from Naval Training Center, Bootcamp, USNTC, San Diego, Ca on June 6, 1936.

USS Tennesee 1936

Vernon’s first duty station was the USS Tennessee (BB43) in March, 1937. This was the beginning of a story of one man’s journey of honor and duty to country and family. But this is also an all American story of a life time of emotional pain from too many years of sea duty and hard combat that changed his life forever, especially decades of painful family dynamics caused by the trauma of war.

The Tennessee sailed to the South Pacific from Bremerton, Wa in March 1937. Vernon became a larger than life coxswain during during the early years of fighting in the South China Sea leading up to WWII and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Vernon, according to his medical records, served a total of “66 months” of combat duty during his 22 year US Navy active duty career.

My father loved serving his country. He was very proud to serve in the US Navy. The Sparks family is truly proud and grateful for his service to America.

Abstract of Service by Ship and Station:

USNTC San Diego January 13, 1936 recruit training. Vernon lived at 581 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Mn before joining the Navy. Click here

USS Tennessee (BB43), June 6, 1936 to March 16, 1937. Vernon dislocated his shoulder on the get go the first time in July 1936 while carrying a box of spuds aboard ship. He lived for most of his adult life with shoulder challenges. Vernon loved basketball and swimming.

USS Henderson (DD785), April 23, 1937 to September 3, 1937, then back to USS Tennessee

USS Blackhawk (AD9), October 29, 1937 to July 1938 (Vernon made Seaman 1st Class Feb 16, 1938). He was instructed in the use of Gas Mask and put through Gas Chamber a Navy Yard, Cavite, P.I. Dec20 1937.

Naval Hospital, Puget Sound Washington, March 16, 1937 to April 23, 1937

USS Sacramento (PG-19), July 18, 1938 to December 14, 1938

USS Augusta (CA-31), December 1938

The Sparks Family…how and where we lived

Navy Housing…The “Quonset Hut.” Memories of cramped and smoky quarters on base are vague for the most part. Quanset Huts were about 750sf. Five of us crowded into the space. One room for mom and dad. One room for 3 boys who were fighting all the time. Even though this was an early childhood period me and my bro, I still remember cigarette smoke…awful! I never became a fan of smoking as an adult. Times have changed dramatically from those early years. My vague dreamy kind of memories from that time reveals a very toxic and chaotic time after the war. It really feels in my heart that we were all sick and needed major help that was no where to be found in those days, sadly…

Military Base Quonset Hut Community…

US Naval Hospital, Canacao, P. I. for treatment January 16, 1939 (6/5/39 on sick list due to own misconduct.) USS West Virginia (BB48), October 12, 1939 to December 7, 1941 (one offense of AOL from 0730 on 10/23/39 until 0815 on 10/24/39, confined for 8 days, and loss of pay one month $14.

Addresses for family during this surreal and painful period 1941 to 1945;

1351 Lime Ave., Long Beach, Ca; 1501 Scott St., San Francisco, Ca  from the left; Jerry, Mom Marcella, Steve as baby, Dad Vernon summer 1946.

USS Relief (AH1), December 11, 1939 to December 29, 1939 for medical treatment. Vernon was injured in an altercation on his birthday, December 10th while on liberty from the USS West Virginia.  He was apparently clubbed in the head, sustained a serious head wound.

USS Relief (AH-1), December 11, 1939 to December 29, 1939 for medical treatment.

Section Base, Bishop Point, Harbor Patrol, 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Oahu December 30, 1941 to April 6, 1943.

Stressful duty during a war has severe unintended emotional consequences for too many warriors. My father was no different than any other sailor.

Consequently on this unfortunate occasion, BM1st Class Sparks went AWOL from 2000, 2 July 1942 to 0600, 3 July 1942, 10 hours. He was tried on July 6, 1942 (my birthday 1946) and confined for a period of twenty (20) days and $20/month loss of pay for a period of four (4) months per Deck Court-Martial. On April 2, 1943, he was appointed BM1st class.  Saved by the bell…on September 30, 1942, JAG remitted entirely that part of the sentence involving confinement because he “PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.”

USS Belle Grove (LSD2), August 9, 1943 to June 2, 1945 Crossed the 180th Meridian with permission of the Golden Dragon Lat. 14 degrees 10’ N., on 20 January 1944. August 9, 1943 recommended for appointment as Warrant Boatswain (temporary).  He Participated in the bombardment and capture of Iwo Jima Island March 20, 1945.  He was authorized to wear the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two Bronze Stars ICW ALNAV 64-45.

On May 9, 1945, Vernon was recommended for appointment to rank of Warrant Boatswain. US Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, Ca July 23, 1945 to September 4, 1945, post WWII “battle fatigue” (PTSD) treatment and recovery, convalescence.

The Sparks Clan; from the left, Uncle Ronnie, Vernon, Grandma Mildred, Grandpa Art, Aunt Juneth, & Aunt Dolly. Sparks home St Paul 50s…1608 Van Buren Ave, St Paul, MN 55104

USN Cargo Handling Group No. 1 Oakland, Ca Sept 17, 1945 to November 28, 1945

USNH Treasure Island, December 10, 1946 for treatment.

USS Topeka (CL-67), June 17, 1947

US Naval Hospital, Long Beach Ca July 1947 to Sept 1947, recurring “battle fatigue” symptoms

USS Astoria (CA-73) November 6, 1947 (less than month)

USS St. Paul (CA-73), December 8, 1947

USNTC San Diego February 25, 1948 to August 24, 1951, recruit training, bootcamp commander company 255.  6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111

USS Weiss (APB-135) September 7, 1951 to August 16, 1952 (transferred to US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan for treatment)

US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan September 17, 1952

USS Skagit (AKA105), September 30, 1952 to March 19, 1953

USS LSM(R)-401 March 29, 1953 to June 22, 1953

USS Andromeda (AK-15), June 22, 1953 to January 25, 1954… Dan helped me remember this apparently fun Sunday event of dinner on the ship as a family and hanging out, learning…2804 Gearing Dr, San Diego, CA; 4632 Hawley Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116; 6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111

US Naval Hospital San Diego, February 24, 1954 to April 21, 1954 (84 days in hospital)

In transit status, April 21 to April 28, 1954

Conus/Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB1) June 30, 1954 to August 2, 1954

USNTC Great Lakes, September 30, 1954 to June 23, 1955. Vernon re-enlisted for the last time on June 16, 1955. Sister Laura born March 1955 in photo with Marcella and Vernon. 2621 Iroquois Rd, Waukegan, IL 60087

For the record, his tattoos were noted as the following.

“Tattoo’s Eagle “USN, USS Tennessee 1935” right forearm, “Honolulu, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Yokohama” right inner forearm, Girl “USS Sacramento, Asiatic Station 1937-1939 left inner forearm. Sister Laura was born on March 10, 1955.”

USS Chowanoc (ATF100) Oct 23, 1957 (less than 90 days)

Construction Battalion #1

Released from active duty on November 5, 1957. Placed on the retired list of the US Navy from the Fleet Reserve effective October 1, 1965.

Family home addresses post Navy; 18228 Mettler Ave, Carson, CA 90746; 1249 W Anaheim St, Harbor City, CA 90710

Notes: I

  1. Vernon’s final Navy performance rating was 3.980/4.0. Dad was an outstanding professional! BMC to BMGC (master chief?) promotion in 1957.
  2. Awarded High School GED by St. Paul Public Schools, December 28, 1953
  3. Final post retirement medical treatment at US Naval Hospital, Long Beach, Ca. It appears Vernon was under great stress and pain during this time. He was never free from anxiety and depression from PTSD that lingered for a lifetime. He also cut a tendon in “right ring finger” and knee sprain from an accident at home. Family lived at 22907 Meyler St., Torrance, Ca. As a family, I recall much chaos and strife at that time.
  4. Vernon was able to overcome adversity and thrive in the Navy even with challenging health issues along with the horrific stress of WWII. His homelife presented a bigger challenge while trying to mask his physical and emotional pain.
  • Vernon joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons when he retired from the US Navy and stayed for 18 years, finally retiring again. But he worked as a consultant for faith community half-way houses in Tacoma, Wa for several years until retiring for good. Vernon served America for more than 40 years!
  • A sign of the times…Vernon completed a radiological training course.

Author’s reflections…

Ever since my own journey searching for my lost soul began 30 years ago, I have remained hopeful and determined to find the truth. It is truth that heals. Denial brings pain, horrific emotional pain.

This essay shows the tragic complexity of life after WWII for millions of families during this historical period of America at war. Families served too. For too many families there were no resources for treatment and recovery. There was little or no access to mental health services, nor any understanding or awareness of how war affected families as a whole. We all live today with the intergeneration effects of post traumatic stress that lives with us as part of our culture for generations.

I believe there’s hope for the future as long as we learn from our past. Only denial and holding on to painful emotional baggage, putting it away in a deep corner of our minds. This outcome only brings more pain to families for a life time and future generations. We can end the cycle of pain as a family and loving community. But it takes a ton of love, empathy and compassion to win peace of mind.

Judy and Steve Sparks, Children and Family Advocates

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Chasin’ “Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit” in The Desert Near Steens…

“Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit” at the Oasis in the desert near Steens
Jason Evans at The Oasis in The Desert Badlands near Steens with his new pal “Scout.”
Road to the Oasis in the desert near Steens…

“Had the day off today but went over to the restaurant to cook scratch biscuits and gravy for my friends. While I was there a gentleman came by in search of premium gas fo his souped up motorbike. The store was out but I happened to have a couple containers full. Invited him over to fill up and he was astounded when I asked him to pay me the regular sticker price explaining I was just trying to help out.” Jason Evans at The Oasis in The Desert Badlands near Steens…

Jason Evans coming home from the Oasis in the desert near Steens…

My pal, Jason, called me again early morning yesterday. He wanted introduce his new friend to me.

I asked him, “who might that be,” pal? “Oh! He’s Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit,” now, get on Zoom, right now, dude.”

When I first met Jumpin Jack Wabbit, in that moment, he seemed tame for a wild desert Wabbit. I was touched Jason would name him after my old friend, “Downtown Willie Wabbit.”

I loved Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit right away. He stuck his tongue out at me, just like Wabbits do, mostly on a good day…

Jason held him closely just like a kitty. I thought I heard him purr like a kitty. But, Wabbits don’t purr do they? I guess not…

As Jason told the story, he described meeting Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit while hanging out at the Oasis in the desert near Steens. He saved him from “Ritchie” The Friendly Rattlesnake, as he was about to become the evening meal at the Oasis near Steens…

Jason found Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit a new home on the east side of the Oasis in the desert near Steens. He was sure his new Wabbit friend would be okay where other Wabbits were roaming at this part of the desert near Steens…

When Jason hopped in his rig to head back south to home on the range, Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit hopped aboard too, right through the window in the front seat next to Jason…

You see, my pal Jason is a “Snake Whisperer. ” He tames Wabbits too, as he did on that day at the Oasis in the desert near Steens…

Jason and “Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit ” would become dear friends, I know. It’s this way in the desert near Steens…

When you coming over again, dude? Jason said with a grin as he held Jumpin’ Jack Wabbit in his arms. Then, I noticed Jumpin’ Jack stick his tongue out at me once again, as if he wanted me to come over to the desert near Steens…

As we said our good byes and hung up Zoom, I looked out the window at my big dirt bike, all set to hit the road to Steens. I knew then, it was time to head out to the Oasis in the desert near Steens…

This time, “Jumpin ‘ Jack Wabbit would join us for overnight camping at the Oasis in the desert near Steens. I can’t wait to hang out with pal, Jason, especially Jumpin ‘ Jack Wabbit in the desert near Steens…

Jason and Rosa in the desert near Steens…
Steve Sparks,
Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate
…and aspiring artisan
Breathe…

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Love at First Sight!

Depoe Bay Harbor. Love at first sight…

https://www.facebook.com/valerie.sovern

I was down at the Harbor at dusk the other night. I walked by a couple of love birds on the dock, gazing at each other, as the sun set over the bridge…

They didn’t look at me, not once. I could tell it was love at first sight, with the smell of sweet sea breezes and and the beautiful sunset…

I noticed in a moment as they touched noses as the sun set over the bridge. Their warm embrace was touching. It reminded me of the “Eskimo Kiss” that is common along the North Pole where Santa lives…

Furry loved ones in love is a special thing to observe. So, I stood there for a time and watched these two gaze at each other and kiss just like Eskimos in love do where Santa lives…

When I continued my walk along the docks at the Harbor, the two of them seemed to not notice me. But I know they knew I was there…

I could see it was love at first sight. I know what that feels like, love at first sight. It’s a feeling of being in heaven on earth with the most beautiful and loving soul you ever met in your life…

Don’t ever let her go. Keep her close to your heart and soul forever…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
“Love at first sight” 40 years ago, Judy ‘n me…

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Mushrooms Reaching to The Sky… A Surprise Birthday Celebration in The Rain Forest…

Another specimen in northeastern Oregon’s Malheur National Forest is possibly the largest living organism on Earth by mass, area, and volume – this contiguous specimen covers 3.7 square miles (2,400 acres; 9.6 km2) and is colloquially called the “Humongous fungus“.[2] Approximations of the land area occupied by the “Humongous fungus” are 3.5 square miles (9.1 km2) (2,240 acres (910 ha)), and it possibly weighs as much as 35,000 tons, making it the world’s most massive living organism.[7]
🍀🍀🍀 https://www.facebook.com/beatrice.pallotta

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria_ostoyae

Since I’m walking a tad better right now, it seemed like a good time for a short stroll in the rain forest.

With Ricky Raccoon following close by, we headed into a part of the forest I haven’t been before. I wanted a new adventure. Ricky Raccoon came along to keep me safe from who knows what…

After ’bout 30 minutes hiking slowly on a secret trail, Ricky Raccoon revealed to me, “come with me over here,” he said, looking straight ahead with his nose pointed at something remarkable and stunning…

“Ricky Raccoon”

I couldn’t believe there could be a mushroom this huge. I could see it might be a good spot for my wildlife friends to gather for some fun in the rain forest with me…

I was startled when my furry loved ones and wildlife friends began appearing from behind the tall huge mushroom. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland on a long ago visit to Disneyland…

All my wildlife friends showed. It was my surprise 75th birthday celebration! How cool is that?

My wildlife friends are a fun bunch of pals to hang with. I never feel alone with them near by.

We take care each other as one community. That’s the way it is in the Cove near the rain forest by the sea…

So you know, this species https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria_ostoyae is highly protected. Ricky Racoon guided me into a sacred space in the rain forest to see it. I will keep it a secret.

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
The Rain Forest near the Cove by the sea…

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The Neighborhood Furry Friends “Our Gang Comedies,” Staring: Sally, Simba, ol’Sam and Spanky…for starters…

“Sally”
In real life, Sally, is my pal Claire Hall’s furry loved one. She collaborates with me to write this first of a four part series. The characters and plot are taken from the neighborhood adventures and antics of “Our Gang” comedies from the 1940s when boomers were kids… You know, like so many of us ol’folks…

First, “Our Gang Comedies” from a special time long ago…

“Pete the Pup (original, 1924 – June 1930; second Pete, September 9, 1929 – January 28, 1946) was a character in Hal Roach’s Our Gang comedies (later known as The Little Rascals) during the 1930s, otherwise known as “Pete, the dog with the ring around his eye”, or simply “Petey”. The second Pete was an American Staffordshire Terrier named Lucenay’s Peter.[1] He was well known for having a circled eye which was added by Hollywood make-up artist Max Factor[2] and credited as an oddity in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The original Pete (sired by “Tudor’s Black Jack”) was a UKC registered American Pit Bull Terrier named “Pal, the Wonder Dog”,[3][4][5][6] and had a natural ring almost completely around his right eye; dye was used to finish it off.”

Inspired by the treasures and gifts from “Our Gang Comedies, post WWII…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Gang

“Petey” from Little Rascals

Featuring…

“Sam” The Old Dog of Wisdom
“Simba”
“Spanky”

Sally is the voice of reason and love


English Bull Terriers have a distinctive look with their long noses and lots of personality. They are also famous—both the Target Dog and Spuds McKenzie are Bull Terriers, and maybe, the “Rascals,” I imagine…


I always wanted one of my own, but never thought it would happen. Then I saw a Facebook post that someone was rehoming one. The one cautionary note was that she’s deaf.

We drove to meet her, and it was love at first sight. Once her former family was assurred we would offer her a good home, we all drove away happily together.

My family named her Sally. After a fun game with names that spoke to our hearts, and a vote, she’s my Sally…


It’s clear she hasn’t lived an easy life up to now. It appears she was attacked my the other dogs in her former household and she bears the scars.

I also discovered emotional traumas. She was shy and a little scared. That’s changing every day. She’s more confident, open and loving every day.

Her external scars are healing (it looks like she was attacked a few times by other dogs at her former home) and her emotional scars are healing too.

There are three other furry loved ones in our household. She loves being part of a pack that plays with each other and loves each other.

Sally, Sam, Simba, and Spanky, live together in harmony, mostly. We’ll get to that later…


In the last few weeks a lot of traumas have caught up with me. With good care team and lots of love, is helping to heal. I help to heal Sally too…


How could you not fall in love with this sweet face? I sure did. Claire Elizabeth Hall, Newport, Oregon

(A big shout out and hug to Claire Hall, for inspiring me to write this series of uplifting and healing stories! Thank you, buddy!)

Now, back to the “Rascals” the neighborhood furry friends gang…

The “Rascals,” we call them in the neighborhood. Our Gang Comedies,” remember them?

“Spanky” is trouble, indeed…

You can count on Spanky serving up a prank or two each day in the neighborhood. He’ll chase chickens to play, or steal the neighbors shoes on a good day…

“Simba” cuddles and sooths the soul…

Simba awakes first early each morning. He goes around to his brood one by one and nudges them gently, with his wet nose and a soft purr. They all know in fairly quick succession, It’s time to rise to the occasion. “It’s time for breakfast, for me first, then you,” Simba says with a soft purr..

“Sam” is the wise ol’ dude with a slight grin…

Sam is often up before even Simba. He’s having is first treat, hidden away the night before under the couch. Sam wants to get the news first on CNN before Spanky and Sally show. Sam is a wise ol’ dude who gets it right most of the time, but not all the time…

Sally” the voice of reason…

See where Sally fits in? She goes around before breakfast to greet and hug her brothers, while the breakfast is on the grill…

This is the first of a four part series featuring the 21st century “Our Neighborhood Gang,” as furry loved ones in Little Whale Cove, Oregon…

Next up? Spanky, will take us on a wild ride, unleased by accident, in the rain forest down to the Cove. I’m already excited about writing this tale of mostly kindness and love, with a few bumps on the trail down to the sea…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
A moment with, Steve Sparks, at the end of Depoe Bay…

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Chloe’s Heart Song… Furry Loved Ones Sing Too…

“Chloe”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle

Singing Furry Loved Ones Contest…
Guitars ‘n Dog Songs…

I saw my new furry friend Chloe awhile back with her guitar playing Pops, Cowboy Bob. He was playing the guitar like he loves to do everyday, early morning by the fireplace…

Cowboy Bob loves Chloe, and she loves him more. They are truly best pals on the bad days and good ones too.

Chloe makes a bad day a good one everyday, especially when Cowboy Bob tunes his guitar to a heart song. She perks up and breaks out a loving tune with her sweet voice…

Chloe gazes into her Pops eyes and into his soul while singing to her favorite heart song. She chimes in to her favorite guitar riff as Cowboy Bob tunes up in that special moment.

It’s just the 2 of them, together, as best pals in the early morning, by the rain forest, near the sea…

Chloe knows when it’s time to hit the beach for more heart songs from seabirds, wind and the sea. They sing heart songs to each other while walking along the shore…

Chloe picks up her stride, while listening to seabirds sing heart songs while flying low and high by the sea… It is in these moments when living things bond and trust each other…

Chloe runs, hops ‘n jumps up to kiss the seabirds singing heart songs by the sea. She looks back at Pops for approval, for she feels kindness and heart songs of approval…

Chloe knows when it’s time to head back home for a treat. She knows Mom will be waiting with her favorite treat, and a heart song too…

Pops thinks Chloe loves mom the most. But I know she loves both more than they know, for Chloe sings heart songs to both the same…

Is there a better way to start your day? Chloe would say, “sing another heart song and come with me again,” while Pops plays his guitar riff again, early in the morning by the fire…”

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma
Fogarty Beach, Depoe Bay, Oregon

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Memorial Day Post Script… Remembering The Heroes Who Served Communities They Loved…

Byron Lewis, a great one, indeed…

Byron Lewis, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Byron and Marcia Lewis became our dear neighbors in 2005. We moved into a small community by the sea, called Little Whale Cove, a tad south of Depoe Bay, Oregon. Marcia, a dear and loving friend, now lives in the valley near Portland following Byron’s passing…

Byron passed away after a long battle with cancer. He and I served on the Board of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay for 6 years and more…

This was the beginning of the next chapter of my own journey of healing. It was Byron Lewis who moved my soul to write my story.

It was Byron who convinced me to build Children and Families in Life After Trauma as a technology platform to sell books. Judy and Marcia supported us always, even when it was painful, with heads shaking, boots kicking asses, no doubt…

Byron kept telling me, “Duuude,” You have to write a “Blog!” I looked at him, thought he was jokin’ and said, “what’s that shit, Duuude?!”

It was Byron, who pointed to Neighbors for Kids new building next to the friendly Shell station next door. NFK was gifted a temporary location in a repurposed building and property back then.

It was the City of Depoe Bay that got behind a grand idea to build a “after-school” program. You know, a place for kids to hang, learn, play in a safe place, after the school house closed at 3pm… It became a public private philanthropic partnership, the Star of Depoe Bay and Lincoln County, that lives on today after over 20 years…

It was Byron Lewis who said to me, “hey, Sparky, we should go and find out about Neighbors for Kids, duuude!” We always dramatized endearments and salutations. I mentor them to most I know, to this day, “duuude!”

Neighbors for Kids honors Byron each year for his love of surfing, and the kids who dreamed of riding big waves at Agate. Every summer, surfing conditions permitting, we celebrate his memory at this annual surfing event. https://neighborsforkids.org/keiki-kowabunga-challenge/

Byron ‘s favorite surf spot, Agate Beach at Yaquina Head…

It was Byron, who helped me write my first book, Reconciliation a Son’s Story, including his own words in many places, and places in between lines…too.

I was with my pal from the beginning of our journey as best friends in 2005 until he passed on. A few days before he passed, we went for our last walk in the rain forest to the Cove. We hung out there often with his favorite furry loved one,William, and the clan.

More often, it was just us duuudes, kicking rocks, picking up shells, talkin’ trash ‘n dreamin’ about the big waves we used to catch near San Diego. We dreamed big, Byron ‘n me…

We are still close pals, you know, Byron ‘n me. He hangs with me each day like we used too. He sits on my shoulder guiding me just like he used to…

Byron and Marcia Lewis https://www.facebook.com/marcia.lewis.961

We are still a team, too, Byron ‘n me. He’s the strategic side of my soul. He guides me to follow my heart and soul.

“Let’s do the right thing,” he would always say. Even when I wanted to do the wrong thing…

Byron did so much for our broader community in his time. He advanced the causes we both cared about, especially education, healthy kids, technology, and the sea…

Byron helped build Neighbors for Kids until he couldn’t. I still help Byron with that too…

Byron is missed dearly everyday by many, I know, but he still lives in our hearts and souls. He keeps my feet on the ground too. “The voice of reason” we would all say most days about Byron.

Rest in peace, “ol’ surf duuude!” Talk later…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma

Byron filmed my very first YouTube back then. This one remains the most popular of all… Byron did this kind of stuff too, and mentored me along the way. We are still a team, Byron and me…

Imagine the impact of friends and loved ones like Byron Lewis in your life. Huge, duuude!

Byron Lewis, as my subconscious angel, helped me write my latest book with Judy Sparks…