Inner and Outer Lights

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March 4, 2023- I found my friend, Pam, right inside the gate to M3F, by the medium-sized stage’s sound crew. She was alternating between rolling her hoops and ecstatic dancing-as usual, when at a live music festival, which she has largely made her life these days.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival is not held anywhere near the McDowell Mountains, anymore. It has found a home, the first weekend of March, at Margaret Hance Park, in downtown Phoenix. Performance Art, such as Pam offers, is as much a part of these music festivals as the bands themselves. I attend M3F, so long as life does not take me elsewhere, because its revenues are donated to charity. The city offers the space, gratis, and volunteers provide security (backed by the Phoenix Police Department) and clean-up. So, my ticket purchase is money I consider well-spent.

The day started with my usual Saturday morning routine: Worldwide Celebration of Life (online) and a visit to Farmer’s Market. Then, there was a monthly meeting of Post 6, American Legion, which strayed far longer than I had hoped it would-as a few people were exercised and long-winded, about a certain issue (which always gets some people exercised and indignant, to the point where they are not listening to one another).

I made it down to M3F, about two hours after I had said I’d get there, but no matter. Pam was having a great time; there were many of her other friends, who live in the Phoenix area, already there and various children, teens and young adults were borrowing her hoops for their own enjoyment. It was quite a mini-concert, all its own.

We went, back and forth, between the three stages-with me toting my blanket and whatever she could not carry of her own sizable load. Since I am not a hooper, I got in some dancing, at times vigourous, as a means to cardiopulmonary exercise. It was a joy just to tap into her at times manic energy and keep up my physical coordination-which has only come about in adulthood. (I was the klutz of klutzes, until about my 21st year-and even afterward, sports like volleyball eluded me.)

Given my current weight reduction plan, finding a solid meal that fits that plan took a bit of discernment, in the Food Court-a collection of food trucks. I was saved by the bowl! A paper bowl of BBQ Sundae-pulled pork, baked beans and cole slaw, took care of the dinner matter.

As the evening progressed, we found that shy young children were captivated by Pam’s antics and energy, and delighted in coming forward to hoop dance with her. Their parents were equally pleased to see the kids having a good time, as the music itself often addressed adult themes, using lyrics and banter more suitable for a bar or club, to the extent it was suitable at all.

All in all, though, M3F is a good affair. I don’t go to many music festivals, but this one is a keeper.

A Day of Change-ups

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February 26, 2023- With 3 inches of snow on the ground, I found it was not a problem to drive to the grocery store and purchase some vegetables and fruit. Then came breakfast at the American Legion Post-a routine on Sunday mornings. Being faithful to my weight reduction program, I saved the pancakes, freezing them for a time when I can nibble at them-along with the cheese and other items that sit in the freezer as well-and will be nibbled at, judiciously, when the time comes.

Normally, a group of us sit at the same table and encourage each other. Today, two of the other five diners showed up-and were already at another table, with other old friends. So, I joined them and the regular table was occupied, in short order, by five gentlemen who had not eaten breakfast there before. When the regulars left, I stayed for a delightful conversation with some other people, who usually sit on the other side of the room.

When I went back to the apartment, and logged onto Zoom, for the devotional which I host, three Sundays each month, I found two of the regular participants also joined-and three who are not usually on the call also logged in. Then, my audio went out, but theirs did not,so they could hear each other-and me, but I was the odd one out. We ended the program prematurely, so that I could go in and find out what Zoom was doing. It turned out that a button had been pushed to mute my audio, when I shared the full contents of my screen. That is something to watch at the next gathering.

The last change-up occurred when I went to the laundromat, and found it locked. What is likely is that the pipes froze, and they just didn’t bother to put up a sign. I will go back on Tuesday and try again.

Changes in routine are good, in that one does not get sclerotic in approaching daily life-as long as the changes do not reflect chaos, which calls for different skill sets.

72 and Change

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November 29, 2022- This morning, I woke seemingly clear-headed and well-rested, and yet a few faux pas came between the time I awoke and the time I alighted in my window seat, on the plane back to Arizona. They were nothing that apologies didn’t rectify, and the rest of the journey back to Home Base was uneventful. My seat mates, on the plane and in the shuttle from Phoenix to Prescott, were very pleasant; quiet but congenial. I enjoyed a Korean barbecued pork sandwich, with chicken noodle soup on the side. Knocking out what was left of last week’s cold was crucial-and yes, I was one of three people in the travel party who wore a mask in close-quarter situations.

It’s time to look at what the ellipse that is the tail end of 2022 and the first eleven months of ’23 might bring. Next week, I work four days and have my skin scan. There will be a heavy schedule, here in town, Friday and Saturday, with Indian Market and a few other events. Acker Night is Dec,9 and Post 6 Christmas Party, on the10th. After that, SoCal is calling, for 3-4 days, Dec. 12-15-following a Slow Food event in south Phoenix, on Dec. 11. Dec. 16-25 will be close to Home Base, with a few days afterward spent somewhere up north, barring any weather weirdness or Red Cross emergency.

That brings up January-September, 2023-and so far, I have no clear guidance from Spirit Guides as to what, if any, travel will take place during that time. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 is the likely time for Baha’i Unit Convention. After that, October-early November looks like Pacific Northwest, Alaska and some of the Asian Pacific Rim. THAT guidance is very clear. We know from last year that these signals can change with outside circumstances and shifting energy frequencies.

So- stay tuned!

The Sunny Picnic and A Crazy Squirrel Song

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August 20, 2022-The joyful minstrel, at Rafter Eleven, made songs up as she went along, including one about “There’s sticky glue, on my mailbox, where your name used to be”. She prefaced it all with Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival”. Having been to Pascagoula, I can see every bit of such things as are described in the song-not happening. The city is a bustling shipbuilding center, or was, when I visited-but why quibble? Ray’s songs were a staple of my teen years, as counterpoints to all the heaviness in the music of the late 60s.

It was a lovely musical set, with romantic ballads and country-tinged novelty tunes, well juxtaposed. From there, I drove through a short, but intense, thunderstorm, and sat talking with some friends at Synergy-mostly listening, though, as they inveighed against designer drugs and pondered what benefit, if any, there was to psychotropic substances. Personally, I will pass on all of those things. My mind is active enough, without external help.

These activities were preceded by the annual American Legion Post 6 picnic, at Goldwater Lake. Fortunately, the day was sunny and mild, until well after the picnic was finished. So, during the time under the ramada, a few lingering conflicts between some embers were resolved, awards were given out to long-standing servants in the Post and I won a nice prize. The food was well-prepared and the mood, overall, was very pleasant. The lake itself is slowly rising, though still a long way from being in what I would consider a healthy state.

It’s been a fine day, and night, as I drove back under partly cloudy skies, with the rain being done for the day.

I Have Agency

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December 19, 2021- This morning, whilst at breakfast with a large number of fellow veterans at the American Legion Post here, I heard a comment made, that derided a large, and somewhat unwieldy bill before Congress. The commenter essentially said it would be a good thing if the bill doesn’t pass, because we jut don’t need government largesse.

Here’s the thing, though: While each of us is entitled to our own opinions on what programs should offer which benefits to how many people, those are our opinions-and nothing more. What concerns me most is that too many individuals, and families, in the U.S. are being asked to give up their agency, so that others may continue to amass more wealth-and have government support in protecting that wealth-even if none of it is used to help those in the direst of needs. We heard, just prior to that same breakfast, that a wealthy politician is opposed to what he sees as government largesse going to the poor. His comments fooled no one-he is guarding his own nest egg-and the public can go fish for minnows.

I am a person of modest, but stable, means. By the logic expressed yesterday on a major news channel, I should object to ANY reduction in the value of my portfolio, day to day, and should press for a cut-off point in selling of stocks and bonds. I should be out there, with my fellow investors, screaming: “I!, Me!, Mine!”-as in George Harrison’s masterful 1970 song.

My agency, though, does not allow for this. My agency tells me that as I have freedom to choose and the responsibility to accept the consequences of that choice, so, too, does every other person. For a wealthy person of considerable influence to choose obstruction of the public good, for whatever reason, does not absolve that individual of the consequences of his choice.

Others have said it better, but essentially, one person’s right to choose ends three feet from another person’s face.

Estrangers

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March 7, 2021- This morning, after ten years of my being a member, in good standing, of a veterans’ service organization, the matter of my Faith was raised-specifically that I am viewed by some, who I have known and with whom I’ve gotten along well for this past decade, as a “non-Christian”.

The context of this was with regard to a request that I serve again as the organization’s Chaplain, a post I held, with a good record of service and with no complaints registered, for two years, prior to embarking on several years of extensive travel. That latter stream of activity is set to resume in July of this year, and for that reason, I am declining the above request. An officer in a service organization needs to stay put-even in the days of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

The larger issue here is that there is a shrinkage of the social circle of many people, partly a result of the political mayhem that has been afoot in this country, across the spectrum, for the past dozen years-if not longer, and partly because of a rising false narcissism, rooted in fear. Those I joined for breakfast, nearly each Sunday that I was in town, for the past ten years, have taken to talking only among themselves and shoving everyone else, including yours truly, to the sidelines. A culture of estrangement has taken root, which can only be detrimental to those who profess belief in the Paragon of Love. That embracing of parochialism has, from what I’ve seen in the past, only led to bitterness.

I cannot, and will not, turn aside from my Heavenly Father, in the name of a label. I cannot, and will not, let “estrangers” define who I am. So, with all prayer and loving regard for the members of said service organization, it’s time to move on.

Sewing and Banana Bread

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February 20, 2020-  

There are many twos, in today’s figuring, so pairs are a natural topic of discussion.  Two of us work with a disabled child, in the afternoon.  Couples are frequently my dinner companions, at American Legion Post gatherings, such as the one earlier this evening.  Two main concerns take up discussion at Sustainability Club meetings, at Prescott College:  Establishing sustainability-oriented community events on campus and  clean-up of the surrounding area, especially the two nearby creekbeds.

A sewing night has been scheduled for March 1, giving me a chance to donate my spare sewing box, inherited from my mother-in-law, when she moved from Prescott, in 2011.  Sewing machines are actually familiar to Millennials and Generation Z-at least far more than many of a certain age seem to realize.  So, too, is baking-and as much among men as among women.  I’m not, inherently, much for banana bread, but a young man did it well, for tonight’s meeting.

Two meteors, as I mentioned in the last post, paid their respects to our area, over the last week.  I am wondering which pairs of people, things or events will  make us take notice, the rest of this month, and afterward.

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.