People of Value


June 30, 2016, Prescott- I will leave here, in a few short minutes, to visit with several friends and family members, scattered as we all are, across the Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast and South.

Earlier today, though, I stopped by the town of Yarnell, so horribly hit, three years ago, by the fire which took the lives of 19 brave souls and upended countless others.  I was not there for the formal ceremony, which will be addressed by an old friend and co-worker, himself grandfather to one of the men who died that day.  My extended spiritual energy will need to suffice, but at 4:42 PM, wherever I am on the road, I will stop and observe silence, at the very time the lives of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots were snuffed out.


Future site of Yarnell Hill Memorial Park

This brings me to the wider concept of value.  Recent discussions, in various forums, have raised the matter of how much do the lives and livelihoods of men matter, anymore.  I have been in the situation of feeling devalued, and know several men who feel likewise.  It is not hard to find such people.  All one need do is go to a busy street corner, and notice the person holding a plea-ridden sign.

Of course, homelessness is a far more complex issue than I will address in this particular post.  My wife, son and I were homeless, for a few months in 1992.  We worked our way out of it, and managed to keep a roof over our heads- which I still do.  No, I am concerned right at this moment, with placing value on the persons and souls of the human male- every bit as much as I do with our precious, much-loved female companions on this earthly plane.

I will address this topic in more depth, but for now:  Let each human being realize that his/her dreams, and what they have to offer, matter just as much as anyone else’s.  We do nothing to make the Earth a better place, by excluding anyone, of either gender, or of any given category of humanity, from their rightful place in the mix.  Advancing one group, at the expense of another, is short-sighted, and has always contributed to strife, in the long-run.  There is room, to spare, for both men and women to work, contrary to the ongoing myth of scarcity.

Brexit and Bust?


June 27, 2016, Prescott- One of the lessons that I have had to learn, three times, is that there are consequences to ill-planning, and even more to no planning at all. For this very reason, I have seen fit to go back to working full-time, come August.

It is coming to light that the advocates of Britain’s exit from the European Union had no coherent strategy.  This raises the old adage, “Be careful for what you wish; you might get it.”  Pandora and her box  also come to  mind, but you get my point.  Here, we have an entire nation that must abide the consequences deriving from the seeming whims of a slender majority, of a minority of registered voters.

I will have more to say about the devaluing of men, in a coming post.  The larger issue here, though, is that, no matter what a nation seeks to accomplish, its chosen leaders need to plan, to strategize in advance.  To be fair,  recent American leaders have not been paragons of strategy, either.  Passing a law, with no clear understanding of its terms, is not an example to offer up to the British, or anyone else.

I admire much about the United Kingdom, and its four distinctive indigenous communities.  I would like to spend some time there, within the next ten years, (along with several other countries).  It would be well if I do not go and find a wreck.  In order to avoid such, here’s hoping that the British stick to their present notion of taking their time with the actual exit.  It does not have to adhere to the German ach schnell!  Rather, the possibility of admitting to an expensive mistake, enacting reforms that would bring  a real sense of worth to the average middle class British worker and further reforms that give the common European a sense that the Union belongs to the people- these are the things that would have obviated the “Brexit” in the first place.  People who feel like they matter, have no problem accommodating newcomers.  People who feel ignored, are fodder for demagogues, and for nativism, whose repercussions they have scant understanding.

This shall be a nerve-wracking, but nonetheless fascinating learning curve, for the British people, and for us all.

Heat and Quotidia


June 26, 2016, Prescott-  I am back at Home Base, for four days or so, having served others, at a shelter in eastern Arizona and my spirit, at a Baha’i retreat, outside Flagstaff.  There is enough heat to go around, across the continent, from the sound of things.  It’s toasty here, but my ceiling fan, windows cracked open and plenty of cold water will see me through.

The week ahead will find me finishing the facilitation of a spiritual study group, joining a group of children on an outing to an animal rescue shelter, tending to a couple of quotidian comfort items (returning a sound system that isn’t working with my laptop and getting the zipper to the bottom of my tent’s door put back on track.) and being useful around here, wherever I can.

Come Thursday evening, I will be off again- this time focusing on family and friends, scattered as we are across the Midwest, Northeast and South.  The “Garython”, if you will, is likely to be something of a sequel to the journey I took in 2011.  That one was a reaction to my grief.  This one is more of an in-gathering.  Cousins, with whom I haven’t been in touch for several years, are reconnecting.  Friends along the way will also be a priority.  My mother and  two siblings will be at one end of the route, and also a priority, given that the end of this year will find me largely focused on my son and his  impending change of scene.  Southern brother, and Penny’s family, will be at the lower end, as will a few other special souls.  Then, a zip across the nation, to Colorado, and an Essential Oils conference, will end the whole shebang.

I read about fire and water, on opposite ends of the country, continuing to give grief to so many people.  A fellow attendee, at the retreat I joined this weekend, is of the opinion that Earth will undergo severe climate and geological events for the next 30,000 years.  If that’s the case, we’ll all spend much of our spirit lives responding to the urgent pleas of those who are here.  Somehow, I don’t think it’ll be THAT long of a torment, but we surely have to deal with what is going on now.

Speaking of which, a black bear made its way to town today.  It was spotted outside the Planet Fitness that I frequent.  I haven’t left the house, since I got back from Bellemont, and will just have to keep tabs on the matter, tomorrow.

Various Shelters


June 23, 2016, Eagar, AZ-  I have been helping to staff a Red Cross shelter, in this small eastern Arizona town, for the past two days.  Those who are here, have come because of respiratory issues.  The smoke from the Cedar Fire, a human-caused forest conflagration, has been more of a problem than the actual blaze.  Few, if any, structures have been affected by the fire.  The school where we are housed is well away from the blaze, of course, as is the school in the Painted Desert town of Holbrook, where a second shelter has been opened.  The concerns now are smoke and flooding, once the monsoon rains come, in earnest.  We got a foretaste of the latter, last night, when the parking lot outside our staff motel got about twenty minutes’ worth of shower activity.

The other day, in between beach visits in southern California, I spent about forty minutes walking in the western lagoon area of San Elijo Lagoon Natural Reserve, in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, north of San Diego.  A brackish water lagoon is also a shelter.  Both marine animals and desert mountain creatures find a safe haven.  The lagoon is, however, a tenuous place of refuge.  Given its location near various industrial areas, there is always a balance to be struck between the natural filtering that water plants offer and Man’s perceived need to generate waste, in the name of “prosperity”.  Brackishness has a long way to go, in being appreciated for what it offers the balance of nature.

Thus, San Elijo’s lagoon is a vital educational tool.  Here are some views of the western portion of this extraordinary refuge.


Thick vegetation is needed, to help filter out toxins.


Several channels converge in the lagoon, en route to the sea.


A lone egret was partaking of the solace, this morning.


The channel on the right has cut through to the ocean.


The Kumeyaay people, now also called Diegueno or Luiseno, had simple, temporary dwellings, when they came to the lagoon to gather fish, crustaceans and kelp.


Here is a view of the ocean-bound channel, from the Visitor Center’s second-floor observation deck.

The eastern section of San Elijo Lagoon Natural preserve lies east of Interstate 5, in the community of Encinitas.  It’s an area best enjoyed in the coolness of Fall.  I may well stop and investigate the emerging channels and their hillside source, come October.

There are no real external shelters from one’s own struggles.  The only way, as was said in “The Empire Strikes Back”, is through.  I have been my own worst foe, in so many situations, that the aforementioned option has become my default.  There were two instances, in the past day or so, where my efforts at maintaining the shelter clashed with others, who were either not thinking things through, or were just worn out and seeking the path of least resistance.   The only thing I could do, in both cases, was quietly continue what I was doing, for the benefit of the shelter clients, while not pushing the confrontation envelope. Our manager has confidence in my judgement.  This is a continuation of what I experienced this past Spring, at Prescott High School.  It’s refreshing, actually, and indicates I’m doing something right.

I am grateful for many shelters.

Who Am I?


June 22, 2016, Springerville, AZ- My father passed away, thirty years ago, today.  Then, as now, I made a long journey.  Then, as now, it took a few phone calls to get the details right.  I arrived at my destination after six hours of travel.  I was comforted by the very people I came to comfort.  He was given a dignified send-off, and from the spirit realm, he still looks after me, in a stern, but loving manner.

Who, exactly, did Dad leave behind?  I was not the easiest of sons to raise, but there was a lot about autism that was not known, that was misunderstood.  There still is, in the perceptions of many people.  There is, however, nothing about who I am that limits me.  I have raised a fine young man, and am gladly here to answer his questions about the time of life that is young adulthood.  I am here to encourage his success, to boost him over the bar.

I am also here to reach out to as many people as possible.  July will be yet another month on the road.  This time, though, it will be focused on family members, some close and some long-lost.  It will be focused, as well, on friends- some in pain, some offering joy.  I will be keeping an eye on things in Arizona, though there are still those nagging critics who take umbrage at my having missed this meeting, or not being available for that event during the coming four weeks.

I am not easy to define.  Mostly, my living consists of proferring love on those around me. It’s the most basic thing in the world, and in the Universe, for that matter. There will always be those who try to obfuscate and throw me off course. There will always be those who hear the word “widower” and think, “troll”- as is the case with one of my co-workers here at the fire shelter.  No matter:  I am here to do a service, and I will continue, whether this person likes it or not.  I am very open about my wife’s having passed on.  The other part is that I am open about being comfortable with how my life is now.  This life is full of bonds, and true friendships.  The false of purpose, and the fearful, need not worry about my presence.

Another thing that colours my life:  Commitment to the generations coming up behind me; not just my son and young relatives, but the well-being of all.  A case in point:  When I stopped for dinner at one of my “A-List” California restaurants, en route back to Prescott, I was struck by the humidity inside the place, and concerned for two young ladies, who were dressed in Victorian attire, in their roles as servers, and who were about to crumple from the stifling air.  The manager, herself about to keel over, had them go into a small staff room, which was more comfortable.  We need to pay close attention to those who work hard on our behalf.  Fortunately, all three ladies recovered nicely.

This is my 1,000th Word Press post.  To leave you with more of a sense of who I am, here are a few scenes from my coastal visit on Monday.  First, here are two scenes of Cardiff State Beach, west of Encinitas.


Not your typical June Gloom, but a bit of mist was there, on San Elijo Beach.


Beach artistry is alive and well.

Up the coast, at Dana Point, I enjoyed a lengthy lunchtime conversation, with a longtime friend, at another of my California “A-list” establishments.


Harpoon Henry’s is at the south end of Dana Point Harbor.

Who am I, really?  I’m just a human being who treasures those in his life, who is glad for the form in which I find myself, who does not have a need to judge the paths and courses of life taken by others, insofar as they do not harm those around them and who looks forward to whatever tale each day has to present.

Post 1,001 will look at an estuary- the mixing of fresh and salt water, and why brackishness is a good thing.


Father’s Day Weekend


June 18-19, 2016, Chula Vista-

Saturday and Sunday were among the best, most bonding days I’ve had with Aram, in a good long while, which is saying something, because we are tight, for two who live such separate lives, in neighbouring states.

It comes down to parenting never being a work of completion.  I bounced things off my Dad, every so often, until he was no longer physically here to approach, for that purpose.  He still makes his views known, though, and I am finally at the point where I sense he is happy with my choices.  I can say the same about my pride in my son.  He has established himself as a valued presence, though his current position is not his life’s work.

Saturday was a day for errands, so we went to the recycling station, which is actually not  from his place, contrary to what their website says. We also found a Michael’s, for some frames he needed.  I was pleased to have found one that fit an off-sized print he had.  Filippi’s, one of my A-List restaurants in San Diego, has a branch in Chula Vista, so we hopped on over there for a sandwich lunch.

Sunday was a scorcher, all over the continent it seems.  I got reports from friends in Ontario, in Florida and in the Midwest, of horrible temps.  We nonetheless enjoyed a forty-five minute revisit to Japanese-American Friendship Garden, in Balboa Park, with a concert featuring the world’s largest carillon pipe organ, in the background.

Given the heat which most people reading this endured yesterday, I present you with various scenes of running water.



The bonsai exhibit is an exception, but it endures with minimal watering.


Aram’s birth sign is water.  H2O has always been his friend.


Here’s a nice view of the Lower Garden pond, which opened in July, 2015.


The water filters along rocks, carefully placed along the downslope.


This mallard was more than glad to stand in pose.


Close your eyes, and imagine Old Japan.


Rocks and flowing water are staples of the Japanese garden.


Small cascades invite one to splash about; though that would be bad form.


Lilies are more common here, than they were a few years ago.


Just how deep are these rocks?

We were suitably inspired by the water scenes, to head straight for the Jamba Juice, in a Chula Vista shopping mall, near the harbour.  Copious amounts of refreshing liquid are always welcome to both our palates.

Dinner was, of course, a buffet- at Zorba’s Cafe, with all my favourite Greek dishes.  This time, though, we both “made do” with about half the offerings.  Less can definitely be more.

I will go philosophical in my next post, which is the 1,000th of this website.  Scenes of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea beachfront, and of San Elijo Preserve’s western lagoon, will help in this effort.  Stay tuned.



June 21, 2016, Prescott-

I read the tortured words of an angel, just now

and wonder at the eyes that don’t see,

the hearts that don’t feel.

I love, stay close, and don’t see her as a burden.

I listened, on Sunday, to my son’s angst

over his future,

and wonder how such a talented, fastidious soul

could question his own worth.

I love, stay close, and don’t see him as unworthy.

I will soon head out to yet another fire shelter.

We will do what we can to comfort, soothe and reassure

those whom nature, in her wrath,  has cast aside.

We love, stay vigilant and don’t see them as nuisances.

The day is long here,

and we hydrate, stay cool and stand in awe  of the Sun.

The day is short, down there,

and they bundle up, stay warm and seek the comfort of the Moon.

I have more work to do, on here, so stay tuned.

Yuma Is for The Warm of Heart


June 17, 2016Yuma- This citrus capital of the West has become my go-to pit stop, en route to San Diego and Chula Vista, as I-8 is a less perplexing route to my son’s street, than CA 15 was.

Yuma has been known to hit 120 during this hottest of desert summer months.  That puts it in the same league as Phoenix and Palm Springs.  Nonetheless, a brief stop here is a pleasure.  There are enough diverse attractions in the area to keep my camera and I busy, over the next two drives out to see my pride and joy.  Besides the Algodones Dunes and the Colorado River Wetlands Trail, which I visited the last time I was here, there are the Territorial Prison, Martinez Lake, Santillan House and the area that occupied me this afternoon:  Historic Downtown.  It’s a small area, but Main Street, even in the 102 degree heat, is worth weaving in and out of the air-conditioned buildings.  There is much to be said for a town with two theaters within a two-block radius of one another.  Then, there is Lutes Casino,  a family-friendly restaurant-bric-a-brac palace that offers a full range of old-fashioned fountain treats, as well as diner food and a full bar.

So, here’s a look at Main Street, Yuma:


Downtown’s West Entrance


Hotel San Carlos is downtown Yuma’s largest.


This is the larger of two cinemas on Main Street.


The desert CAN be pretty in summer.  This lot is up for lease.


This courtyard had one drawback.  The ice cream shop is closed until next Monday.


A few fountains grace Main Street.  This is the largest.


Inside Lutes casino:  I enjoyed a praline pecan malted milk.


The establishment is far more interesting than it looks.

For those heading in earnest, between Phoenix and San Diego, Yuma has done a fine job of offering a safe haven-even in the sizzling summer.

Going Forward


June 14, 2016, Prescott-  A few days ago, I mused about the possibility of emulating the resilience of Israeli society, in the face of the terror it experiences, almost on a daily basis.  Someone responded that Americans already do the same thing, so why look any further?

There is much to admire about our country, its systematic way of uniting vast areas of land and diverse people, its checks and balances and, yes, our society’s ability to go on, after a tragedy.  The question, as to how we might do better, in the face of such as happened on September 11, 2001- and on June 12, 2016- was initially raised by a commentator in the Arizona Republic, who suggested looking at how people in Israel go forward, after a violent attack.  He could have substituted India, Iraq, Lebanon, Spain, the United Kingdom, or any number of societies.

People are, by nature, resilient.  Otherwise, there are innumerable horrors that could have sent us the way of the dinosaur, or the dodo.  Israel is perhaps notable, however, because of its unity, when terror strikes.  There is no paralyzed Knesset, no waffling Executive, and no emphasis on finger-pointing, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.  Therein, lie points to ponder.

Yes, there is a vast difference in complexity, as well as in the size of the populace, between the two nations.  No, I don’t want to leave America.  The quality of life here equals, if not exceeds, that of any other nation.  We do, however, in my humble opinion, have to make a choice as to HOW we move forward.  Will it be with recrimination, denial and following a fickle news cycle?  Will it be by listening to one another, taking the valid points from SEVERAL stated opinions, and blending them into a viable solution?  Will it be with a knock-down, dragged-out fight against those whose points of view differ from one’s own?

We have seen the results of each approach listed above, both in the history of this nation, and in the fortunes of other countries, throughout the history of the planet.  We are at a crossroads.  One valid point our President made the other night:  We have to choose what kind of country we want to have.



June 12, 2016, Prescott-  My week was largely occupied with helping to man a shelter, for some 37 people who were evacuated from two communities, Yarnell and Peeples Valley, once again threatened by fire.  This time, no one died.  This time, there was minimal property damage.  This time, the fire was taken seriously, from the get-go.

The shelter closed this morning.  I helped with the breakdown, helped inventory the necessities.  Then, I went to the Raven Cafe, had brunch and came home.  My middle brother, in the course of a phone conversation, told me of Orlando.  He told me there were 50 dead.  He told me there were 50 other people, whose lives were in the balance.  He told me of the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil, since 9/11/2001.

Orlando/Beirut:  Many dead, in the former; many terrified, in the latter.  Two fine cities, united by atrocity.  The list of affected cities and towns grows.  The list of innocent victims multiplies. The hate continues.

Three years ago, when I was in yet another of the fogs that come with grief, and was making some terrible choices, one person came to my aid. One person called me and said, directly and convincingly, “This needs to stop.  You are acting crazy and it’s not going to end well.”  That person reset my mental clock.  That person, as fine a friend as I’ve ever known, is a member of the LGBT community.  That person and his fellows deserve all the respect and human dignity that those of us who are heterosexual, cissexual, or any other designation, can possibly muster.

Pulse is now a place of mourning.  Orlando is now a city dealing with two shocks: One small in scale; the other, the worst firearms attack in American history, outside of war.  Both shatter the convoluted logic that, if only good people had firearms, the bad would be at a disadvantage.  Yes, quick, decisive action by police officers did prevent more lives from being lost, in both incidents.  Yet, both shooters reportedly acquired their weapons legally.

So, our choice is this: 1. Honour the souls who have gone on, and not make excuses, as we have done- every single time before, including after 9/11 (“That Frenchman said the U.S. Government did it.”) and after Newtown (“Don’t you know those kids are in hiding.  Nobody really died, except Lanza.”)

2.  Stay in the mindset of ignorance, and denial, and watch, “helplessly”, as the carnage goes on, and gets worse, and comes to a theater near you.

I am listening, thinking, waiting- and mourning.  I will not stand idly by, if a demon rages  in my view.