Whose True North?


October 31, 2022- There is always a back story.

As is the case every Halloween, the lines of costumed people, of various ages, spanned both sides of Mount Vernon Street, one of three Prescott neighbourhoods that put on a great display of hospitality. In a nearby service post, two disparate groups of people were gathered: A handful of adults, indulging in alcoholic beverages and a fairly flowing stream of children, most with their parents, picking up bags of chocolate candy and enjoying cookies and punch. For the most part, things went well. An unfortunate confluence of young girls entering the room and the use of foul language from the adjacent area led to a direct appeal to the adults to cub their vulgarity, while children were present. After a brief period of tension, involving protest about First Amendment rights and such, there was an apology, a handshake and mutual recognition of humanity.

It was explained that there were some hard circumstances in one person’s life, which were being shared with a concerned friend. These, strictly among adults, would not be cause for anyone to step in and ask for more polite language. In my world, though, children ought to be spared having to hear profanity, despite the insistence by much of society that “These are only words”. Adults having a hard time in life deserve every bit of support that can be mustered AND care should be used in speaking around children, points I was able to get across, after a fashion. They are not mutually exclusive.

True North does require showing love towards everyone-and working through situations which may initially be tough. That seems to be a theme surfacing quite a bit lately, both in real life events and in entertainment media. We may be at loggerheads, at various times, because priorities don’t always jibe. My priority: The care of, and setting examples for, children and youth, is not as far removed from extending a hand to an adult who has come on hard times, as it sometimes seems. Helping parents, after all, IS looking out for the kids. Defusing the tough situations that arise from a clash of priorities just feels good, besides.

There is always a back story, when someone seems obstinate or hostile. It does not have to end badly, and tonight, it did not.

A Sliver of Red


October 30, 2022- Looking through the leaves on the oak in the neighbour’s yard, I see a sliver of red. The maple across the street always offers a bit of variety, as autumn goes forth.

Passing by the Castles and Coasters Amusement Park, this afternoon, I spotted a a small go cart, weaving in and out of the lanes in the parking lot. Fortunately, there was a spotter, so the alternative to cars and bikes was not in any danger of being the vehicle of tragedy.

The same was true, later in the afternoon, when the teen across the street was riding his small motor bike along the sidewalk, trying to “quietly” sneak up on his younger sister-who’s nobody’s fool. She feigned shrieking as he gunned his motor, three feet behind her. He then popped a few wheelies, to impress his sister’s friend, which brought about a few eye rolls.

As evening has rolled in, I hear very loud fireworks. The local Community College is into providing sound and light shows on Halloween and on New Year’s Eve. This year, a lot of spookfests are taking place on Saturday and Sunday, to keep up Monday’s routine of school and work. Still, tomorrow will be a half day at school, mainly because three neighbourhoods will be blocked off at 3 p.m. and the kids need to be dropped off beforehand.

It’s a quiet day, overall. The Baha’i conference ended at 2:30; my visit to Penny’s grave was short and the drive back to Home Base saw relatively little traffic. In the sameness, though, there is a sliver of red.

Chill, but Not Oblivious


October 29, 2022, Phoenix- The little girl was so excited to see her Daddy, waiting by the car, that she saw nothing else. Her older sister saw me and the Sportage, rolling along at 5 mph, and threw her arms around her, as I was stepping on the brakes. I let them cross, of course, and Daddy had a talk with his angel. Life will go on.

There were a few others, as I drove to my motel room, on the surface streets that increasingly harbour disconnected or distracted people, both pedestrians and drivers. The motel parking lot had its share of both, as well. Let it not be said that one cannot be his siblings’ keeper. On many occasions, all we have is one another-even if we never see one another again.

The day was intense, as several of us considered the matter of the Baha’i Funds. Contribution, of course, is limited to enrolled Baha’is, and the amounts given are voluntary-no hustle and no pressure. The Spirit is what must move us. We are mainly here at this conference to discuss better ways of educating our communities about the spiritual basis of the Funds. Money is a tool, sure, but it is the attitude one has towards its use that matters most. Again, no hustle and no pressure.

That being done for the day, by 7:15, I headed over to some friends’ house, in central Phoenix, and took in their rejuvenated Halloween gathering, the first they’ve had since 2019. It was a masterwork of decorations and refreshments-with about five “funhouse”style outbuildings and a safely enclosed trampoline for the kids. I stayed for about ninety minutes, then with a view towards tomorrow’s second half of the conference, I quietly left. With over a hundred people at the gathering, it was an easy exit. Driving out, I encountered “Monsters on Bicycles”, a late-evening parade of teenagers riding their bikes in an escorted formation, for which traffic briefly stopped.

This is a nice time of year to be in Phoenix and Scottsdale, with the high temperature just shy of 80. Still and all, one must be on one’s toes. Lives are at stake, otherwise.

On A Disquiet Friday


October 28, 2022- Random thoughts pass through, as I consider the implications of the attack on Paul Pelosi.

Would I be just as outraged, by an attack on Elaine Chao, or Melania Trump? Absolutely! The whole “shot across the bow” thing, with regard to one’s perceived enemies, who are-at least for now-no more than political opponents, has taken several steps too far. Good on those in the Republican Party who have seen fit to express their own revulsion at the attack.

I am the last person in the world who should be asked to sing in front of a group of friends, much less a worldwide audience. Yet, if I were, I would know the words of the song and the flow of the melody cold. I’ve heard Eric Burton sing; he has a compelling voice. May last night’s floop be a good lesson, and not represent a trend.

The whole generational divide thing, or any divide for that matter, is as contrived as a Hallmark holiday. I have learned, over time, to follow my gut-and to see people in my elders’ generation the same as I see Millennials, Gen Z and the Alphas. The cliche holds true: “Old people were young people, before young people were people.” Let none of us forget that, should the temptation to disparage the “other” arise-in either direction.

I witnessed two sets of multiple-car collisions, to and from the simple errand of going to my landlord’s bank, to deposit the rent check. Having lost three vehicles, in the past eight years, one of which was partly my own doing, another due to sabotage and the third due to another person driving while impaired, the lesson of the crucial maintaining of discernment has been in my mind ever since the last accident. Every time I set out, therefore, a prayer for protection is in order-even for such a routine errand.

Be especially mindful, these next three days. Whether you think Halloween is a time for having fun, or view it as a harbinger of evil, be careful with children and teens. Safety is not negotiable.

Acceptable/Not Acceptable


October 27, 2022- Random thoughts, after reading of the attack, late this evening, on Mr. Pelosi, and pondering the level of public discourse, of late.

Listening to a heartfelt critic is acceptable, if not desirable.

Kowtowing to whatever someone says, without discernment, is not acceptable.

Disagreeing with the actions,opinions or stances of a public figure is acceptable.

Calling for said public figure to be maimed or killed is reprehensible.

Investigation of even the most seemingly ludicrous statements is acceptable.

Believing ludicrous statements, in light of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, is of questionable value, at best.

Striking a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of society is acceptable.

Favouring large entities, while ignoring the valid needs of an individual or of a small group, is repulsive.

Going about one’s daily routine, in a way that acknowledges and cares for even the most random needs of others, is desirable.

Going about that routine, like a bull in a china shop, is ludicrous-and unacceptable.



October 26, 2022- Buddha’s smiling countenance greets all who walk into the sanctuary. The door to the large and welcoming home is open. I quietly enter and take the most obvious seat, as the reader of a sacred verse intones his selection. Other readers of sacred verses follow. Then we have a discourse, on the life and legacy of al-Bab. A delectable repast does not interrupt the flow of this discussion. Ice cream and cake guide us out of the session, though, as they remind us that this is a birthday celebration, albeit in honour of a Being Who left this Earth 172 years ago. The event is a testimony to the centeredness of the hosts.

The delighted twelve-year-old shows her increasingly organized and comfortable new home. It is probably the best residence she has ever known. It is, above all else, proof of the diligence and fortitude of her grandmother, who will never give up on her, or on her brother. Only the centeredness of that indomitable woman, and her own mother, both of whom I have known for over thirty-five years, makes things like this happen.

The tall, well-groomed gentleman takes his place as a senior non-commissioned officer, in the reserves of his branch of service. His wife of nearly four years stands proudly at his side. His father, far off in a different state, nonetheless reflects on the success of his only child. It is the centeredness of the family, especially of the young man’s grandparents,that transferred to him, and saw him through one of the toughest challenges he has had to face, in a good many years.

The little girl, in a far-off theater of combat, asks her father if all will be well for them. He stifles tears, and assures her that no harm will come her way, as long as he draws breath. The occupying soldiers look at the two of them, and are somehow reminded of their own children, in a more peaceful place. They let the two of them pass, and the father remains centered on the safety of the most important person in his life.

Centeredness, presence are far more basic gifts to any one of us, than we sometimes recognize. They are what truly connect us to the rest of the Universe. They are the true manifestations of this thing called love.

Smooth Ride, Small Tremors


October 25, 2022- I slipped out of Carson City in the early morning darkness, around 5:15, hoping to catch breakfast at a small bakery in Yerington, about an hour away, as Carson’s eateries don’t open until around 7. Alas, neither does the bakery in Yerington. It did give me a good start on the long ride back to Prescott, which I was determined to complete, so as to attend a celebration of the Birth of al-Bab, with my Faith Community.

This is the week when Baha’is observe the births of both al-Bab and of Baha’u’llah, as the days occur consecutively, on the Islamic calendar, which of course was the determinant of their birth dates. We use a calendar with similar reckoning, for determining the dates of Holy Days, such as these birthdays. So, this year, al-Bab’s Birth is celebrated after sundown on October 25, or during the day on October 26. Baha’u’llah’s Birth is celebrated after sundown on October 26 or during the day on October 27.

The drive itself was steady and smooth. I got breakfast at Beans and Brews, in Tonopah, and learned it is one of about two dozen branches of a Utah-based enterprise. The workers seem very happy, and they serve good coffee and food, so it is always worth a stop, when in Tonopah. Traffic was not heavy, even in Las Vegas. I was back in Arizona by 2 p.m., stopping only for gas and a light lunch, at “Last Stop in AZ”, which is ironically on the southbound side of US 93. Drowsiness started to kick in, as I approached Jolly Road, near Seligman, so I pulled off and rested for about fifteen minutes. It was there that I felt the unmistakable tremors. Sure enough, there was a shaking, 5.1, though in Silicon Valley, a distance of 647 miles. I still felt it, when I got back to Prescott, so there must have been a few aftershocks.

The gathering for the Birth of al-Bab was large and joyful. Someone who had recently been on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land gave each of us a rose petal and small card with a prayer on it. A nice, light meal was provided by the hosts and we caught up with what each of us had been doing, over the past two weeks. Later, I got a message from the Carson City family, saying I was already missed. This is ever sweet, and I know this: So many friends, far and wide, generate strong feelings of love in my heart. I will always do what I can to have their backs, whether they are in Prescott, Carson City, Phoenix, Grapevine, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts-or any of over a hundred locations, where a warm reception awaits.

The Carson Loop, Day 10: Simple Is Deep


October 24, 2022, Carson City- I spotted a couple of servers at L.A. Bakery, in downtown Carson City, who were wearing t-shirts with the above message. It also describes how I have viewed life, so the message put me right at home. Seeing things in an uncomplicated light makes “deep dives” a lot easier, as there are fewer distractions.

Today was the birthday of a very young, but deeply spiritual, soul, who has been a good friend since she was two. I was once told, by a fearful man, that friendships between adults and children were unusual and that his own child would not be allowed to befriend adults, especially men. I can understand how things can go awry, and that too many adults, both male and female, are feckless and/or manipulative, when it comes to children.

V’s parents, and her grandmother, however, have known me very well, for well over twenty years and besides, ALL of my friendships, especially since recovery from a mild mental illness, nearly ten years ago, are above board. That said, I joined the family for birthday cake and gift opening, before going to another room for an online Baha’i study group, for which I was host.

I am here as another pillar of support for this large and wonderful family-of which the matriarch says I am a part. I’ve said several times, this is part of what makes life grand. It was poignant to bid the clan farewell, knowing that we will not see one another again for at least six months. That’s the way it is, with several such groups of friends-and with my biological family-but the spiritual bond is always present.

Simple is indeed deep.

The Carson Loop, Day 9: No Conference, Just Connection


October 23, 2022, Carson City- The would-be hostess apologized for being too ill to let us enter. The devotional, scheduled for this afternoon, would also have fit the definition of community conference, which is an integral part of the Baha’i plan for the nine years 2022-2031. We can focus on building community, strengthening relationships, with all people.

Leaving that residence, the four of us, two children, their grandmother and me, headed instead to a Mexican-style ice cream parlour: Michoacan A Pedir de Boca. It was cold outside, but no matter- I was more than glad to treat my hosts to some of the best confections to come out of the Mexican state of Michoacan.

They next decided to head to a nearby WalMart, usually not my idea of a good time, but with kids, anything can become fun. Most of the time was spent in the crafts section, with a bit of food shopping at the end. The 3.8 year-old is into clocks and bells. He spotted a red numerical analog clock, and was able to tell the time. So, it became his, along with a Pre-Kindergarten activity book, covering a variety of learning skills. His older sister, who has been like a grandniece to me, from the day she was born, and whose birthday is tomorrow, will get a few books to pique her interest. For V, though, the main thing she wants from anyone in her life is connection, and the knowledge that she means a lot to those around her. That is a given, and will remain so, as long as I draw breath.

It has only been a huge life-affirming element for me to have been connected to this family, since the mid-1980s. Penny felt the same way. They are, collectively, among three such clans, besides my own biological extended family, to whom I have an ineradicable tie. I can see, because of the strength this has given me, that the number of such families will only grow, as time goes on.

The Carson Loop, Day 8: Being Ourselves


October 22, 2022, Carson City- There was big news out of Grapevine, this afternoon. Aram received his Chief Petty Officer pins, and will now serve in that capacity, in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He will continue to work on his Baccalaureate-and he will earn that, as well. We are a determined lot, we Boivins, as were/are our Fellman relatives.

My day here in Carson was spent with an equally determined bunch, the Smith/Carrillo/Sandoval extended family. The running conversation centered on something especially dear to my heart-the right of each person to be self. It was pointed out that most of the difficulties facing society, both here in the United States, and globally, stem from failure of people to accept each other as they are. Much of this, in turn, seems to come from personal insecurity, and as was pointed out, in another conversation, earlier this week, the notion of zero sum; if one person, or group, achieves or gets something, others stand to lose what’s theirs. This line of thinking has fostered everything from civil wars to the begging culture that arose from colonialism. It was certainly behind the brief episode of screaming and yelling that occurred last night, while I was walking along, and minding my own business. It is behind sibling rivalry, oneupmanship and people talking over each other, or interrupting someone who has the floor, and is speaking in measured tones, or haltingly.

It took a very long time for me to value who I am. I made a lot of progress in that regard, over the course of my 29-year marriage and, thus far, 34 + years of parenthood. I have had precious little trouble accepting everyone else, for who they are, but myself? It’s only, really, been since 2014, that I have been 100% okay with me.

My extended family members, one in particular, stressed that this concept is actually one of the primary keys to the growth of a peace culture, to wit: Parents should lay off pushing their children to follow a narrative that is primarily designed to fulfill the wishes of the parents, and not their own. This affects everything from mistaking a phase in the child’s life for an indicator of his/her destiny to fulfilling, for the parent(s), a long cherished dream, which is NOT necessarily the child’s own, to the attitude that so many have towards people who disagree with them, even on relatively mundane matters.

The consensus of our conversation today was: Let us each be, and love, ourselves.