Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

December’s Ides

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December 15, 2018, Prescott-

In Renaissance times, as we know from Shakepeare’s Macbeth, the dividing point in a month was called “the Ides”.  This hearkened from a time when all months, save February, had 30 days,  and the 15th served as the dividing point.

We’ve reached this point in December, in which the work-a-day cares and tribulations of the first two weeks, being as they are combined with holiday planning, give steadily away to the mix of moods and accent on celebrating that characterize the period, right up to January 1.

I spent the first part of today helping to lay wreaths on the grave sites of those who served in the military or were married to those who did.  There were about eighty people, of all ages, doing this, following a forty-minute ceremony of patriotic music and short speeches, culminating with a 21-gun salute and playing of “Taps” (Il Silenzio).

Wreaths Across America is a national program of wreath-laying at the graves of those laid to rest in military cemeteries, on the third Saturday in December.  It began with a wreath-maker in Harrington, ME, in 1992 and became a national effort in 2007. One of my maternal uncles, who served with distinction in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, was among those who helped organize the national effort.  I learned of his involvement in this, upon his passing, in 2010 and have been involved in this effort, myself, since 2011.

The rest of this Ides of December saw me get out the last of my family Christmas cards and put up a hand-made wreath on my front door.  The weather outside is far from frightful, but I aim to keep the atmosphere, around home and work at least, delightful.

Falling, Gently

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May 21, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday could have been seen as somewhat of a bust.

I didn’t spend all that much time at a memorial picnic.

I felt there were some serious issues of trust,

coming from some of the people closest to the man,

in whose memory we were gathered.

Earlier, I had been at a place where trust HAS been earned,

and, in honour of my maternal grandfather,

enjoyed a Chicago-style Polish Sausage.

I never met Papa, in this life,

but his forebears hailed from Silesia,

when it was German turf.

There was, then, as now,

a great deal of interplay between German and Pole.

So, Polish sausage, with sauerkraut and Dusseldorf mustard, it was.

There was great food at the picnic, as well,

and the Mariachi were heartfelt in their performance.

It was a magnificent tribute,

frayed only by that lack of trust,

something that the honoree would never have countenanced.

I moved on, and read, just this morning,

a horoscope that told me,

those who hurt you were doing the best they could,

under the circumstances.

None of us, really, are ourselves,

in the wake of shattering loss.

I wasn’t, from 2011-14.

A lot of people were hurt,

in the wake of my mourning.

Some have never forgiven;

most have moved on.

Last night,

I happened on a troubadour.

Her message, sung across the miles,

to the one man she loves with every ounce of her being,

was just how lucky he made her.

The audience, mostly late middle-aged couples,

heard it in their hearts, too.

I know that feeling, so well.

My spirit angel was one of a kind.

She said to us, to me, if you’re struggling,

hang on.  It’ll all work out.

She sang of falling gently,

as she did for the man who waits for her,

back in Cape Cod.

Enjoy the accompanying message, from Monica Rizzio,

and if you’re ever in Cape Cod, catch one of her gigs.

Hearts, Black History and Chief Executives

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February 1, 2017, Prescott-

The Mini-Month is now upon us, with groundhogs galore waiting to be yanked out of the ground, tomorrow.  I know there will be many enlightening programs and articles about African-Americans, this month, but I think people should be fully honoured for their place in America’s story, and the stories of the world, EVERY month, and regardless of ethnicity.  Still, I’m glad the stories are getting out there.  Too many people still think Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, Irish-Americans, and even women, collectively, are making up, or exaggerating, the past,  because “things aren’t so bad for ________________ NOW!” We  have to know our history, and know it well, for the very reason that too many people see things on the surface, and have short memories.

The Italian martyr, Valentino, has become a symbol of unconditional love and thus a day devoted to love- and romance- has taken the English form of his name.  St. Valentine’s Day falls on a work day, Tuesday, this year.  I will be giving the same unconditional love to my students that I offer, every day.

The following weekend will be Presidents’ Day, ostensibly to honour two of our greatest Chief Executives:  Washington and Lincoln, and, by extension, those of our presidents who have not harmed our nation.  Who they are, remains a matter of intense debate.  I have my opinion, but will not get into that, here.

Aram will leave for South Korea, in about a week.  I will be at San Diego International Airport, to see him off.  Then, each of us will get on with our respective duties, and other aspects of our lives.  For him, there will be some familiar aspects, as he was born, and spent his first three years of life, in Jeju, and shore duty will be more of a routine, than sea duty.  For me, the regimen will continue at school, the American Legion honours World War II’s Four Chaplains, my work for the Baha’i Faith goes on, and new outdoor adventures will present themselves- Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains, the Verde Valley’s Limekiln Trail and, a slightly-delayed visit to Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, in Yarnell.

It looks to be a fascinating 28 days.

No Abyss Needed

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December 20, 2016, Prescott-

Today was either a day of mourning,

if one sees oppression and catastrophe ahead;

a day of rejoicing, if one sees opportunity to prosper,

or to return to old ways of looking at the world;

or, as it was for me, a day when the imperative,

of seeing one’s perceived adversaries as like unto

oneself, has become manifest.

In a few short days, I will bid farewell

to another old soldier,

whose interment will take place,

two days before Christmas.

Then, it will be time

to listen to the Divine,

in another group setting,

as we Baha’is gather

in consultation and spiritual discovery,

for the thirty-second consecutive

Christmas season.

I’m close to finishing

“The Tenth Insight”,

a novel of intense

spiritual energy,

of visions

of Armageddon,

of Rapture,

of Afterlife.

Much will happen,

in those regards.

I believe, though,

that we need not

leap into an abyss

of self-doubt.

We need not

head backward,

into a jungle of despair.

Our journey,

of true togetherness,

may cast a bridge

across the widest gulfs.

It is a matter

of free will.

Passages and Markers

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September 10, 2016, Prescott- This was a day of gatherings and  of paying attention to “urgent” messages.  I have learned that the latter is usually a matter of perception.  The former is how we survive and thrive, as a species.

I made my usual visit to the Prescott Farmer’s Market, buying a bit more than usual, so as to bolster the contents of my evening healthy shake.  A trip over to a yard sale, organized by Baha’i friends, gave me a chance to pick up some books and other items that should capture the interest of the children in my care.

Then it was off to a memorial service for John A. Mortimer, about whom I wrote, two weeks ago.  The chapel service was solemn and done with military honours.  I found it touching and lovely.  The gathering at our American Legion Post, afterwards, was packed, as befits his memory.  One who fully lives, until the age of 96, is unlikely to be bid farewell, without fanfare.

John had the full send-off, and 87 or so people gave him all the love and respect he had earned.

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The above was part of the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing, June 6, 2014.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  No one has been, and is, more of an influence as to how I have turned out as an adult than Lila Mae Kusch Boivin.  She it was, who kept after me to pay attention to my surroundings, to be proactive, to not use my affliction as a crutch, to not wait for an invitation to be of help to those around me.  She it was, who did everything on my behalf- from getting after a hard-edged teacher and a know-it-all school counselor, when she felt they were failing to meet my needs, to seeing that I didn’t wallow in self-pity, on any one of a dozen occasions in my adult life, not the least, when my beloved wife passed to the next plane.   On all the occasions when she thought I was tuning her out, it turns out that I was actually storing all that instruction, and have put it to full use, ever since.  She it is, who is behind my survival and relative success.

She wants to live on, fully, and no one is more behind her on this, than yours truly.  Happy 88th, dearest Mother. (My nephew is conveying our collective sentiments, in this photo of three years ago.)

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Approaching

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August 21, 2016, Prescott-

The indomitable warrior is looking at his last.

He was lying in his last bed,

looking into two worlds, simultaneously.

I’ve seen this look before;

five years ago, in fact.

He could not speak, beyond a whisper,

but his message was loud and clear.

“Thank you, for not  forgetting me.”

Then, came his salute,

followed by my own, in return.

In the end, when it comes,

he will have his wife’s love,

the admiration of his Legionnaires

and the small bottle of sand

from Utah Beach,

where he once commanded a battalion.

Too soon for Rest in Peace,

never too late for respect.

 

Adventine Hope

10

December 12-13, Prescott- It seemed this weekend saw no end to meetings and gatherings.  Saturday dawned with the placing of wreaths on most of the grave sites at Prescott National Cemetery.  The event was part of Wreaths Across America, in which I have participated for the past four years, in honour of my late Uncle Carl, who was intensely active in Wreaths, when it first started, and remained so until his passing in 2010.  Snow made it interesting, but we’ve had a white ground cover every year, except last year.  The children who participate are a major reason for its success.

Yesterday afternoon, we Prescott Baha’is had our Spiritual Feast, a worship service held every nineteen calendar days, or so, which features devotions, consultation about the business of the community and a social gathering.  We have a good rapport with each other and the home-based gatherings add to a family feeling.

In the evening, I joined the staff of Mingus Springs, for their Christmas party, also held in a spacious home, with a lovely view of the valley below.  Exquisite food, raucous camaraderie and intelligent conversation on a variety of topics lit up the four hours we had together.  The party games were both wholesome and spirited-one involving a question and answer competition between two teams, and the other an unravel-the-ball-of-tape, which involved rolling a pair of dice, and getting a chance to peel back on one of two taped balls, which had small treats inside.  Rolling doubles was required, in order to have at the ball.  It got quite energetic, when two people rolled doubles at the same time, and we were down to one taped ball.  The evening ended with the usual White Elephant gifting.  I came away with Ben Goode’s “857 Habits of Annoying People”.  I’ve seen some his other books in various truck stop diners in the Southwest.

This morning, after such a frenetic day, saw me get up a bit more hesitantly than usual.  I got it together for a short meeting, first thing this morning, then went to a Legion gathering to honour one of our members who is going to California for a while.  Of course, there was yet another full buffet. The cooks of Yavapai County do supreme justice to our community meals!  Somehow, I am not packing on the weight, but it sure is fun being part of things.

Now I am just enjoying the quiet of my little place.  Someone asked me, last night, if I found it lonesome since my wife passed on.  There are such times, but in the presence of so many loving friends, I haven’t found them to be all that frequent.  Besides, she is taking good care of me, from the place beyond the veil.

I called my replacement teacher, this evening, and will meet with her, at the end of December.  In the meantime, the kids and I will finish up our quarterly business, and I will tie up loose ends, before heading off to Boston, at the end of the week.

The Road to 65, Mile 315: Crowded Out, In An Empty Room

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October 8, 2015, Prescott- I opted to attend a monthly meeting of the American Legion, this evening, rather than go to another gathering.  As it happened, that was not the best use of my time.  Although I will remain a member of the Legion, and the local post, so as to maintain ties with trusted friends, circumstances have changed.  I am not a member of the inner circle, and so when trying to humbly offer a correction at tonight’s meeting, I was upbraided.  Though my concern was addressed a short time later, it was made clear that “he”, meaning me, was regarded as a nuisance by the leadership.

Thus, tonight’s was my last meeting.  Disorganization is something through which any of us ought to be able to work, but when the disorganized are arrogant and full of themselves, to protest is folly. I find it is far more advantageous for me to use my time towards the building of a solid community foundation.  The alternatives on Thursday night are Baha’i activities and encouraging one or both of the secular friends to whom I alluded in the last post.

There were few people at tonight’s meeting.  From here on, there will be one less.

The Road to 65, Miles 267-8: Tears

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August 22-23, 2015, Prescott- I have read a few posts online, and pondered some situations in real time, this rather busy weekend, and have shed very real tears.  Mostly, they come from regarding the genuine kindness shown to suffering, frightened children, or from reading of the very real emotions felt by those who have lost loved ones, so far this year, and there are so many such friends.  My tears come when I am alone, and can focus on things like the pain of other human beings.

Saturday was largely celebratory, in my Prescott circle:  A mesquite flour pancake breakfast reminded me of how we would function, if the stock market crashed and took many people’s jobs, and life savings, with it.  We would learn to forage, and we would have to get along better than many of us have chosen to get along with others.  Mostly, though, my breakfast companion and I enjoyed the delicious repast and talked of a plan she has to start a sustainable community in east Texas, somewhere.

I left her to take her first tour of Arcosanti, and went to an American Legion picnic, where lunch, mercifully, was not served until nearly 1:30 PM.  I had to contrast the atmosphere with the earlier event.  Legion folks tend to welcome one another to sit down, talk and pass the time convivially.  (The mostly upper class folks who attend Slow Food events tend to frown on anyone they don’t know sitting anywhere near their table.  Fortunately, my friend and I had a section of the long table, where we would be far enough away from the well-dressed woman who recoiled in annoyance, as we took our seats.)

Anyway, I got up and danced with a few of the ladies, during the live music portions of the picnic, both before and after the meal.  I am a passable dancer, when it comes to the steps we all learned as teens and young adults.  The easy conversations we had also made the event more worthwhile.

Sunday morning, after the customary Legion breakfast, our area Baha’is gathered, and discussed matters of living and sharing our Faith, and serving the larger community.  As we talked, a heavy downpour, which not everyone had expected, blessed our consultations.  The sky cleared later, long enough for us to get to our after-meeting lunch.  Then, during lunch, there was a second downpour.  I think the spirits cried tears of joy.

My mood right now is pensive, because the whole matter of my mother’s safety, this coming winter, remains unresolved.  It’ll get figured out, soon, and either I will do my filial labour of love, or actually stay in the Southwest, for the bulk of the next twelve to sixteen months.  I am grateful, though, for my varied and widening circle of friends.