June 30, 2021- No, this isn’t about Joe Biden. The things that happened in tandem today were a good stretch of fairly heavy rain and the eighth anniversary of the fire which killed 19 wildland firefighters, in Yarnell, AZ. The rain hit our area quite well, making a small dent in the dryness of the soil. It’ll take far more to reverse the lack of moisture that has marked the last two summers. I do hope that it helped to quench some of the fires that have ravaged much of our state, these past two months.

There was intermittent rain, as I drove out to Yarnell, to attend the dedication of a town park, constructed in honour of the 19 men. The grandfather of one of the fallen is a man with whom I worked for several years, in the western suburbs of Phoenix. He has since relocated to the Yarnell area and is a driving force behind this memorial. I also know family members of three others among the Granite Mountain Hot Shots who died that day. In each case, there have been shrines and memorial sites built, both on private land and as part of a State Park, which lies seven miles south of Yarnell, and which I have visited twice.

Here are some scenes from the heartwarming ceremony that took place this afternoon and of a private shrine, built by a couple who lost their house that day, and have since refurbished another fine residence, to include a chapel dedicated to the firefighters.

Entrance to memorial park, Yarnell
Eighth Commemoration of the Yarnell Hill Tragedy
Koi pond, at the Chapel of 19 Bells, Yarnell
The Chapel of 19 Bells, Yarnell

This day, marking the halfway point of any given year, thus will ever have its own indelible significance.

The Strange Process of Growth


June 29, 2021- Getting back to Home base, for a short period that is centered on the anniversary of the Yarnell Hill/Granite Mountain Hot Shots disaster (June 30, 2013) and on Independence Day, I found myself scheduling the July road trip and reaching back, to the past. While thinking about my Carson City family, the image of me as a toddler came into focus-almost in a hypnotic manner. I saw the source of certain behaviours and mindsets that have dogged my path, for so many years now. I also saw that I could let those behaviours and mindsets go, fall away. It is sublimely liberating.

Many of you know that I have given some help to someone in another country, whose society has much to re-learn about co-operating with one another, to achieve a greater goal. The people involved have, thus far, rejected such talk of co-operative farming, out of hand. “That is not the way we do things here!” This, essentially, translates into “Fork over the bucks, white man!” You can readily understand what my response is to such rubbish. Fortunately, the primary recipient of my aid is a bit more enlightened than many of his countrymen, and is at least trying to do things on his own. It is heartening to see someone who is walking the path of personal growth.

My own growth has been a strange enough road- complicated by being on the autism spectrum. I was a fairly strong, supportive husband and am a fairly strong, nurturing father. I am better at being a son, and sibling, than I was in the past. Ditto, for being a community member. The pattern of widespread travel will eventually subside, but not for the next five or six years. In the interim periods between journeys, though, I am committed to making a difference in my adopted community and state.

Learning makes this a great life, and it will only get greater.

Catching, as Catch Can


June 28, 2021- When I was in the military, one of my snarkier quad mates was fond of saying “Catch as catch can”, when he or others interrupted someone’s sleep in the middle of the night, or when food was in short supply. That phrase has, ever since, been a burr in my saddle-as if life is meant to be an endless competition, with the cup ever half empty-and “Oh, well”. I know that some, including one of my regular commenters, see the world that way-and more’s the pity.

I have learned to face life’s struggles a bit more stoically, and with a view towards getting through the matter, and drawing a lesson from it. This morning, I left Carson City, around 5:30, after a heartwarming and very full five day visit with extended family. The drive from Nevada’s capital city, to within forty five miles of Las Vegas, was smooth as silk and included stops at two of my favourite “Outback” places: Beans and Brews, in Tonopah and Fort Amargosa-across from the Area 51 Alien Center. There are, in fact, any number of places where one may get a warm welcome, between LV and the Reno/Carson area.

Smooth was the road, with little traffic; then came Indian Springs. The normally sleepy town, centered on Creech Air Force Base, was the scene of a traffic standstill, precipitated by a call to the US Air Force, claiming that a bomb was at Creech’s main gate. US 95 was thus closed, in both directions, for well over an hour. Now, the 200 or so people sitting in, or milling around, their vehicles were learning another connotation of the aforementioned phrase. We were catching comfort, as catch we could. I was able to do just fine, by shutting the engine off, and rolling down the windows. Every so many minutes, we were allowed to move forward, about a hundred feet or so. That was when I would put on the AC, for a 3-5 minutes, though it was, relatively speaking, not that hot.

Just after 2 p.m., the all-clear was given. I learned a bit about how to handle a certain emergency, in tie-ups like this, by watching how the party in front of me employed a 5′ x 10′ bit of fabric as a curtain. All in all, the sense of stoicism was pretty much universal, though, especially after word came from the front of the line that law enforcement was involved. Not much else was disclosed, at the time- I would learn of the bomb hoax later, whilst having dinner at Yesterdays, a small cafe in the old mining town of Chloride.

A hoax is just inconvenient, though. I feel for all those who lost loved ones in Surfside, FL and those who are enduring record heat in the Pacific Northwest. May there be relief, and soon.

Surrogacy Reflects Reality


June 27, 2021, Carson City- Among other matters that occupied the three of us (my spiritual sister, my surrogate grandniece and me) were the little one’s umpteenth visit to Carson City Railroad Museum, a comparison of Three-Story Park with Mills Park, in terms of the playground’s quality and cleaning out “Mema’s” car. We also returned some items to her cousin, enjoyed smoothies from Keva Juice, Italian dishes at the local Olive Garden and ice cream treats from Chocolate Nugget (near Virginia City).

Right alongside my biological family, this energetic bunch has my heart and soul. I have visited them, each year since 2012 (except 2020). Before that I knew the family in Arizona and bonded with them, even during the time that they had moved to Nevada, while Penny, Aram and I were busy in various parts of Arizona. B was born in 2011, and has since been joined by a sibling, who is every bit as delightful.

There is a separate group of cousins, not far from B and K. This group would also occupy a lot of my time, were I to be in this part of the country more often. They are a blended bunch, with every one of them treasured by Grandma, who does her level best to give them an actual home.

Surrogacy is a relative term-no pun intended. I am seeing just how strong a bond there is, blood or no blood, when the application of love is made. Oh, and this very busy day was capped, by one of the longest series of UNO hands, that I have ever joined. The last hand took over an hour to complete.



June 26, 2021, Carson City- When I was in Metz, France, in the summer of 2014, I passed by one of the many high-rise, multiunit apartment complexes that dot virtually every large city in France. There were a large number of people of North African and West Asian descent in the complex. One young man, 10-years of age, allowed as he went to bed each night, wondering if he and his family would be alive the next morning. Fear of fires, explosions and general mayhem in the complexes abounds, in such complexes.

This past week, we have witnessed the realization of the nightmare described above: The implosion of a high-rise apartment tower, on U.S. soil, in Surfside, FL, just north of Miami. Five people are confirmed dead, with 159 unaccounted and 157 confirmed to have survived. An adjacent tower is in the process of being evacuated.

There are already allegations of shoddy construction, the implication being that saving money was the prime impetus in the building of this, and probably many other, residential towers. I am sure this is rampant in the construction industry: Contractors and subcontractors have ample incentive to cut corners-but the onus is not all on them: The lenders, architects and complex owners all have a share of the blame, when the safety and well-being of residents take a backseat to financial concerns. In other nations, when such a horror has happened, those found to be short-circuiting legitimate safety matters have been held to account-often sent to prison for their role in the slaughter.

The collapse of Champlain Towers should never have happened. I have family members in the construction industry, one of whom lives in south Florida. None of the work these men have done has ever involved cutting corners-anymore than any engine my father helped construct. for a commercial jet plane would have failed, due to human negligence. Work involves commitment to the final level of customers, be they tenants in n apartment complex or passengers on a jumbo jet.

The late Stephen Covey said: “See the end, in the beginning.” Surfside is yet another wake-up call!

Three-Story Park


June 25, 2021, Carson City- Even in mild heat, there is no finer place for children to meet and play together than in a park space, where they can be free to explore and exercise, while at the same time be monitored by parents or loved ones who are (hopefully) not distracted by the other duties and vagaries of adult life. There is, most definitely, no responsibility more imperative than the safe and nurturing rearing of a human being to own adulthood. So, we of adult age find ourselves accompanying our young ones to parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, nature preserves and each other’s houses, that humanity may long continue to thrive.

Much of this vigilance still falls to mothers and grandmothers. There are also men, like yours truly, who see every child as worthy of safeguarding-and are thus constantly mindful of where those immediately in our care are and what they are doing. The public space where I went with friends, yesterday, I will call Three-Story Park, the name by which the kids themselves identify the space, owing to its three-decker climbing tower, is almost ideal. The odious wood chips of the 80s and 90s have been replaced by a soft, rubbery padding. Metal slides have been replaced by large plastic ones and monkey bars, by mini-climbing walls. There is no place in the park that is not subject to line-of-sight vigilance, though my friend told her grand daughter, for good measure, to be within an area where I could reach her, in fifteen seconds or less. Thus, we planted ourselves in a shaded spot, proximate to the aforementioned tower and its accompanying slides and climbing wall.

This is the reality of this nation, and indeed this planet, in a world where too many adults view children as extensions of themselves, or who wish for a child to reflect even the most arcane attitudes and fancies of their elders. It is from the worst of such people, that I remain vigilant, on behalf of children-and teenagers, for that matter.

The Slow Healing


June 24, 2021, Carson City- Several years ago a person, who claimed to be an adherent to the belief in Progressive Revelation, nonetheless made comments about people needing to be “in their place”. At the time, I just agreed to disagree, quietly sensing that time and circumstance would change that person’s heart.

My father, a fervent believer in the free enterprise system and in the right of individuals to make, and live with, their own choices in life, passed those beliefs on to the four of us who were of competence. I give a bit more leeway to non-capitalist systems, provided they avoid the top-down authoritarianism, to which most Marxist nations have subscribed; but I digress.

At the meeting I attended today, the very same group, who years ago acquiesced to the notion described in the first paragraph, had advanced, by leaps and bounds, to a place of broader mindedness-recognizing the imperative that society embrace all of its ethnicities and show more compassion towards immigrants.

Thus is the way of healing. Thus goes the path to true reconciliation. As a kindergartner cannot, customarily, comprehend calculus, so can a person raised in a largely homogeneous environment not, without a full-range of life experiences, comprehend the vastness of humanity’s variations. A well-read person can appreciate this multivariance, to some degree, and one who is truly well-traveled, who has mingled with many different nations and ethnicities, can appreciate it even more. The basis, the foundation, for such understanding, however, is set in childhood and cemented by experiences in adolescence and young adulthood. It requires a solid spirituality, albeit of the person’s own choosing. Otherwise, the healing that one must undergo, later in life, is a slow, tortuous and sometimes painful path.

The gathering this evening was a vindication of all that Baha’u’llah teaches us, in His Writings, and all that ‘Abdu’l-Baha showed us, by the example of His life. The group will now find its way to a very special place, as will any person, or group of people, who embrace the healing.

The Trail Winds Again


June 23, 2021, Tonopah- It’s been two years, since I last took this route, from Las Vegas towards Carson City/Reno. I see that most places survived COVID and are again thriving. A Speedway on Farm Road, on the north side of LV, will be my go-to refueling stop in the city-easy on/off US 95.

The day started with a continuation of last night’s exploration of intellect and real world problem-solving. Much was personal to one of my hosts, so the details would not be appropriate here. We did reach the consensus, over breakfast at Bad Miguel’s, on the north end of Lake Havasu City, that humans are far too prone to cover up for the team, when making a miscreant own up to mistakes is a far more forthright, and better, use of a team’s energy. It’s not throwing the wrongdoer under the bus; it is, rather, a cleansing exercise for the wrongdoer’s soul.

After bidding these gentlemen adieu, I wended my way through an hour’s worth of a series of roads, to Bullhead City, making a fairly brief, but equally necessary, visit to another isolated soul. The simple, satisfying lunch she prepared gave me a chance to note further about the value of being forthright-in no particular context. She had a Zoom call, about forty minutes into my visit, so back on the road it was- with rain as my companion, from Bullhead City to Las Vegas!

The rain and wind dissipated, along with the traffic, just past the Snow Mountain interchange, on LV’s northernmost edge. I made a customary light supper stop, at the Area 51 Alien Center, in Amargosa Valley- not far from its namesake of legend. A few families were passing through; a feisty 9-year-old boy from one was bantering with teen girls from the other family. I just fixed my hot dog and smiled at the joy of normalcy.

Beatty, Scotty’s Junction and Goldfield came and went-and I was in this center of mining heritage by 8 p.m. I turned on the tv and found- “Boss Baby”. Off went the tube.

Tomorrow will show how much the rest of the way to Carson has fared, in the time of pandemic.

Contraction and Expansion


June 22, 2021, Lake Havasu City- In the Spring of 2000, a group of senior citizens, residents of a small enclave on the south side of Salome, AZ, converged on a meeting of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. They wanted to see an ordinance enacted, which would curb the behaviour of the town’s younger residents. Among these seniors was a former resident of San Francisco, whose complaint was with young people who were raising livestock, within town limits. He began, and ended, with “Back in San Francisco, this would never be allowed!” The chair of the Board of Supervisors, in rural La Paz County, cut the man off, merely thanking him for his perspective. The seniors with more universal concerns, about partying and noise, got a fuller hearing.

I am in this city of retirees and service providers to visit for a bit with some friends who have felt isolated for quite some time-and not just because of COVID19. Lake Havasu is at least an hour, in any direction, from any city of comparable, or larger, size: Bullhead City lies an hour to the north; Kingman, the same, to the northeast; Various California retirement havens are an hour away, to the west, and Parker, the seat of La Paz County, is about an hour to the south.

Into the isolation of the Colorado River Valley, in western Arizona, are coming sizable numbers of those leaving California. As is the case elsewhere, people with cash in hand are buying up houses, and vacant lots, “by the boatload”, as it were. Snap-up culture, a peculiarly American phenomenon, sparked initially by fear and loathing of one’s lot-and sustained, later on, by arrogance and greed, is generating a sizable migration out of the Golden State (as well as New York and Chicago)-sometimes pulling the rug out from under people of more modest means, who have come within an inch of securing a home. When this happens here in the U.S., it fosters some grumbling and temporary ill will towards the migrants. When it happens in other countries, the migrants, or second-home purchasers may face reactions from locals that are far less genteel.

I see this from two sides: Mankind has always been on the move. Large populations initially moved north, east and probably west from Africa, very early on. Millennia later, there began several large migrations, in all directions, from the Altai, the Gobi and the steppes of what is now, Kazakhstan, sending Avars, Huns, Mongols, Turks to Europe and southwest Asia; many of who are now known as Indigenous Americans headed, out of the same region, to North America, and thence to its southern neighbour. Northwestward, to the European Arctic region, went those now known as the Sami-formerly the Lapps. What US President James Knox Polk called “Manifest Destiny” has been in our genetic memory for a good long time.

On the other hand, with few exceptions since the original peopling of this planet, there have always been “locals” there to either greet the newcomers, or to resist them. Which is which depends largely on the need, or lack thereof, for new blood to revitalize a community AND on the attitudes of the newcomers. People who charge into a new setting, buy up the property, propagate the worst of what they claim to have left behind, and push the locals around, should not be surprised at the glares and sidelong glances they get from their new neighbours, as these mutter among themselves. Those who, on the other hand, settle gently into their adopted community, with a humble posture of learning, will over time be adopted as bona fide residents. There are plenty of both sorts, among the current groups of migrants, as there have been in such groups, throughout history.

I wish the better angels of their natures to be in the vanguard.

A Working Solstice


June 21, 2021- It was not so much a working day for me, but a relative handful of mechanics performed maintenance on Elantra Thirteen, replacing brake pads and rotors, aligning the wheels and performing the usual oil & lube. It was an all-day affair, leading to a few other errands being postponed, and a Zoom call set aside. That’s okay, E13 does a lot of work for me, both here and elsewhere, so the day was hers.

Whilst ensconced in the waiting area at the shop, I received a call from the Dermatology Center, and my procedure is scheduled for July 29. In the meantime, I will continue to dress the area, with essential oils and Life Wave patches. This also addresses the whole matter of my going where I feel called next month, at least leaving myself sufficient time to return to Home Base, by July 28.

Dallas, Tulsa and Sarcoxie will now, hopefully, be followed by Crossville, Knoxville, Harrisonburg, Oley (maybe Paoli and Exton, if the family schedules permit), Elmont, the North Shore, the resting place in Maine-of a cousin who passed away recently, Mishawaka, Wilmette, Minneapolis-and any part of Colorado that happens to be en route back to Home Base.

Back here around 3:50, I got my bearings, rested a bit and juiced a bunch of wheatgrass, after eating a dinner salad and hummus on a rye cracker. Today is actually the day after Solstice, and I’ve gotten well into my summer salad for dinner regimen, but I am very much enamoured of the 21st day of June being the First Day of Summer.

As I listen to an original jazz tune called “Tales of A Courtesan”, by the Japanese-American composer, Toshiko Ariyoshi, it’s a comfort to know that we each have our strengths and can share a unique view of one or more elements of life.