The Hotel Project, Day 3

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September 27, 2020, Dallas-

Sundays in a hotel are fairly quiet-with many in their rooms watching Pro Football or some other sport-or in a house of worship, honouring the Creator. Some find time for both.

My sole concern, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., is the well-being of our clients- especially of the children. They are certainly showing all signs of being mentally and physically healthy, so the families, which are mainly extended, are doing a fine job, in the midst of recovery from the set of storms.

People will begin to head back towards the storm-ravaged areas, during the course of this week, as the wheels of the Federal bureaucracy grind on, and assistance becomes available for home and property checks-as well as intial plans for moving forward.

A solar storm may upend things a bit, but right now, the weather trend is for continued dry weather, throughout the area-at least in tems of the oceanic patterns. I saw a bit of emotional charge, this evening, so we may yet have conflicts to help settle, over the course of the coming days.

I am hoping to arrange a day off, possibly next weekend, the goal being to at least connect with my family at least a bit. This sort of thing is always in need of careful choreography, so to speak. The week is bound to bring plenty of both forward movement and a few setbacks.

The Hotel Project, Day Two

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September 26, 2020, Dallas-

Running with my sense that I am as worthy as anyone else, today passed with plenty of service activities, small victories over slight overreach on the part of some members of another agency and the departure of my sole detractor on yesterday’s team-thankfully, as just a normal turn of events, the end of the individual’s time on the project.

We also stood our ground against a person who was seeking to profit from the misery of others. This occasionally happens and the individual may keep trying, but the inclination is to keep on walking, when seeing my smiling face upon walking towards the entrance to the hall.

We still have hundreds of people who are in need of service and have sucured their places here, for as long as they need them. I remained at the Toy Table, and have started to bond with some of the children, who visit each day, to see if anything new has been donated, The items are not extravagant, but these children and families are grateful. A few items are not appropriated for most children, and have been set aside. This is not necessarily nefarious: I can remember when some toy manufacturer thought “Mystery Date” was a cute toy for 7-10-year-old girls. That lasted, maybe, a month or two.

I have stood firm on things like that, not going for anything that makes children feel that rushing their lives is in any way normal. We also want to remediate the stress that all family members are enduring. This may take the length of time our team is here, or it may take longer. Hopefully, the hurricane season has come to a de facto end.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 14: Equinox, 2020

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September 22, 2020-

The day of equal amounts of light and darkness has come just a tad later, this year. It’s just as well-too many things have been dumped on us, without warning, the first three seasons of this earthshaking year.

For me, autumn has ever been my favourite season, being the time of my birth. Gradual cooling and the vividness of colours have energized my being, after the increasingly extreme heat of summer, as much fun as the season just past brings with it. Bracing for the season of earth’s rest, that is winter, and the eventual promise of spring, makes “Fall” a most purposeful time, as well.

A few sprinkles fell, in our area, yesterday afternoon, as I was returning from a dental appointment, in Phoenix. My time in the Salt River Valley is limited, by choice, especially when temperatures remain in triple digits. Here in Prescott, we may expect temps in the 80s, until about mid-October. It may or may not rain, on any given day, though the National Weather Service rather lazily just pushes the button that says Sunny, as a default, most days. I imagine budget cuts and executive fiat may have something to do with that-as with the Post Office and FDA.

We all make choices, and as Penny would say-“You get all that comes with those choices.” She always made her own decisions, though asked what I thought, matter-of-factly, before doing so. Conversely, she expected me to do the same, and, after a previous life of bullheadedness and unilateral decisions, many not very well-made, I learned the wisdom of consultation.

I think of the above, as the inevitable debate about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and HER choices, ensues, this still being America. I disagreed, vehemently, with her take on abortion-though the role of men in that matter is largely one that ought to be performed LONG BEFORE any plug is pulled. Those men who raise their daughters, support their sisters and value their mothers, in the girls and women making their own INFORMED choices, are doing their jobs well. Those who downplay the intelligence and capabilities of the females among them, and pretend this is merely a man’s world, should not be surprised by anything at all that happens, as a result. Many, if not most, of the fetuses that have ended up aborted, (and whose souls no doubt greet those who aborted them, in the hereafter), would likely have either not been conceived in the first place, or would have been given an alternate path to life, had their mothers been raised in a place of love, empowerment and security.

The other real sticking point I had with RBG was her, take on “In God we trust”, which she saw as antiquated. I respectfully decline that observation. The Eternal cannot be so lightly dismissed, even in the name of free expression. In the end, though, “God hath no need of His creatures”; it’s very much the other way around.

Autumn plans? Well, I am spending today working with a Special Needs child. My Red Cross on-call status renews, tomorrow. During Fall Break, 10/12-16, I may go off on a sojourn, somewhere else in the West-and ditto for Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving/ 70th birthday weekend. In any case, days and nights will remain productive and largely other-centered. (More on that topic, tomorrow).

Fortnight of Transition, Day 11: Hacked

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September 19, 2020, Sedona-

As I sat on a small couch, in Synergy Coffee and Tea House, on the west side of this fascinating, if rather insular, town, I learned that my Facebook account had been hacked. Someone whined, “This always happens to you!” (Actually, this it the first time it’s happened, since 2011.) Maybe the individual has me confused with someone else.

Hacking usually happens when someone who is bored or lonely gets a video on screen and “just has to share it with all their friends!” I found myself in an unguarded moment, not wanting to hurt Ms. Lonely Heart’s feelings, and clicked on something I normally would ignore. After changing my password, and answering about twenty-seven pings on Messenger, I have put the matter to rest-and will leave all the Lonely Hearts (male and female) to deal with their hackers in a similar manner.

Speaking of lonely hearts, I spent much of the late afternoon listening to a single mother unload her sorrow and anger at what she perceives as a community that dumps on single mothers-and parents of small children, in general. While she finds Flagstaff to be worse, in that regard, her disappointment in Sedona is palapable. When she left, I pondered this matter, whilst myself enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant, within walking distance of Synergy. I saw several families, out and about, along with a sizable crowd, of mostly people my age and older, conducting a vigil for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Moms and Dads were indulging their sons and daughters with cheeseburgers and fries, or with gelato treats. Families enjoying life together, as they do in any community.

The cry of the needy is very often not heard, in a society that styles itself “Busy, productive, acheivement-oriented”. I had a short, but spirited, conversation with a couple of 40-something developers, who were bemoaning how hard it was to make money building in this area. I pointed out that, without a guaranteed water supply, successful building is a chimera. They brushed that aside with the “Field of Dreams” mantra:
‘If we build it, they will come.’ Time will tell-though, as Groucho Marx once said, “You can get stucco! Oh, how you can get stuck-o.”

So, in the small hangout that features caffeinated drinks, hemp products and artisan chocolate/cacao treats, both sadness and testosterone-fueled hubris were in abundance, at different points during my visit. The overworked owner had broken free, for her own evening of relaxation, elsewhere. In her absence, a mostly male group of musicians gathered, and began playing around 10 p.m.

I’m all about balance, and peaceful energy, and so left the boisterous, insular group of men behind and prepared for a quiet, calm ride back to Prescott.

There was one other, curious aspect to this evening. An engaging forty-ish woman, in talking about circumstances, asked about my current status. I replied that I am old enough to be her father and that I am essentially just into establishing friendships with people. She honoured that, while saying that age means little-it’s the energy that matters.

I think that anyone can be as connected, or as lonely, as one chooses. It’s harder in some communities than in others, but time will tell.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 8: Remaining Worthy

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September 16, 2020-

As the natural afflictions that are challenging us ramp up in both number and severity, my ties to the Red Cross are growing both in frequency of appeals and in complexity. A side effect of this is that I am likely to be out of town more often, after next Monday.

Only a dental appointment is keeping me here, as it is, but that’s one of those things that will keep me around, on this earthly plane, a bit longer. So, as Thomas Sowell says, “It’s a trade-off.” Check-ups head off trouble at the pass.

Coming and going from town, regardless of the reason, does rankle a few people. I see some of the places I frequent, during extended time at Home Base, becoming more frosty in their ambiance. It’s my opinion that “Green is green”, anyone’s cash will keep people afloat. I do understand the notion of being missed, yet for anyone to be hurt, because a community member has gone to help people elsewhere, seems a bit farfetched. I have to remind folks that, when we needed assistance from places far afield-during the Indian Fire (2002), the Doce and Yarnell Hill Fires (2013) and the Goodwin Fire (2017), people came from as far away as Alaska and Michigan.

We will, slowly, arrive at an understanding that love means both letting people follow their hearts, and realize their dreams-but also letting those we love extend that love to others, in other places.

Even if I go, next week or the week after, I will come back to what I expect to be a stable and welcoming community.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 6: Teaching in a Hybrid Manner

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September 14, 2020-

I returned to substitute teaching today, for the first time since COVID burst through the door and took over. Being with eighth grade students has been fairly easy for me, over theyears,and today was no exception. One difference is, though, that Hybrid Scheduling has been adopted. This means, essentially, that students whose family names begin with A-K attend in person classes, on Monday and Wednesday; those whose family names begin with L-Z attend on Tuesday and Thursday. Thus, on any given day, the classroom is, essentially, half full.

Masks were no problem for any of us. I had plenty of training in wearing a mask for twelve hours at a stretch, during my Red Cross deployment for Hurricane Laura. The kids have, in most cases, chosen their own masks, and I wore my Planets and Stars pattern, which got a few compliments. One boy broke a strap on his, and I sent him to the School nurse, to get a replacement. He came back, wearing a rodeo pattern mask, which made his day.

It was also nice to be among a group of educators again. The bantering and discussion of a wide variety of topics, in the Teachers’ Lounge, is something I’ve missed, more than I thought.

Needless to say, this sort of day is likely to be rare, this coming Autumn, if the call to service comes as early as next Tuesday-and I go back out on deployment. That has its own rewards, though, as we’ve seen recently. In any case, even with all that is creating mayhem this year, I am glad to be in a position to help, in more than one way.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 5: Whose Children Matter?

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September 13, 2020-

In some of my response to reports of abused and neglected children, it has come back at me that these particular campaigns are cherry-picked, Right-Wing trope activities. Maybe so, but I personally don’t cherry-pick, as to which children get attention and which go without.

Early in my counseling career, a severe sexual assault case was brought to me and the Response Team was in the midst of getting the victim to safety, when a call came about another child threatening suicide. I asked my senior partner to take that case and get back to me, once the child had been evaluated. This was unusual, for the particular community to have two victims at the same time, but there was no daylight, no distinction, between one child and the other.

One red flag, which discomfits many, is a child who gets too close, who hugs too tightly or even wants to sit on a non-related adult’s lap. I’ve dealt, gently, but firmly, with several such children, almost always girls-and who were either being totally ignored, shunned by their father or were being grommed by an adult either in, or known to, their immediate family. Getting the father to acknowledge, and spend quality time with, his daughter was relatively easy. The girls being taught sexual behaviours had, however, to be removed from the home and placed in group homes, where experienced professionals were able to give them the advanced therapy they needed.

I think of these children, a few of whom have kept in touch, as adults and are doing quite well, considering the ordeals that came their way. I think of them all the more, in light of the current Netflix film, “Cuties”, which uses exhibitionism as a vehicle to “combat sexual exploitation of children”. Counterintuitive, at best, and exploitative in itself, at worst, I see the showing of the film as a serious error in judgement. There was a period, from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s, when young European and South American girls were featured in some rather lurid websites-with the sites’ owners and photographers claiming their work was “art”. Fortunately, Interpol, the FBI, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, of Germany, and, wondrously, the Russian FSB, at the direction of Vladimir Putin, took these sites down and the long process of finding and rehabilitating the child victims was initiated. I would not want to see anything close to that horrific state of affairs be repeated.

That said, the vast majority of sexual and physical abuse of children takes place in situations familiar to them, at the hands of people whom they ought to be able to trust. This makes it both simple and complex, for the helping professional- Simple, in that the child is easy to locate and remove from the home; complex, in that there is often a culture of denial in place, largely based on fear of disruption and dislocation of the family unit.

Getting co-operation from the other family members is completely dependent on their degree of self-assurance and cohesiveness, independent of the perpetrator(s). In a close-knit community, even law enforcement officers. medical staff and social services workers, if they are related to the perpetrator, can be a hindrance to justice for the victim.

All these factors come into play with regard to obtaining justice, and if the matter involves a child, or multiple children, being groomed in sexual behaviour, there needs to be both a swift separation of perpetrator(s) and victim(s) and active therapeutic measures initiated as quickly as possible.

No child, anywhere, is less important than any other.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 81: No Dichotomy

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August 20, 2020-

I have written, on another medium, about both regarding the right of a human being to care for own body to be sacred and the right of a child to life as also being sacred. I see no contradiction between the two, but our society has allowed itself to view the two as somehow at variance, in certain cases.

I see this as one result of our movement away from the concept of the sacred. This does not specifically have to do with “unchurching” or movement away from long-established organized religions. It has more to do with the rising of uncertainty, of insecurity in people’s lives, in this time of massive, and sometimes instantaneous, transition. It opens the door for a relatively small number of people, with untoward views of how to attain population control, to seize control of a debate which did not even need to happen.

There will always be adults who are uncomfortable, even hostile, in the company of children. There will always be those who don’t understand the nurturance of infants and toddlers. They were either mistreated, or not treated at all, in their own infancy and childhood, or are of a temperament that doesn’t mesh well with the organic nature of child behaviour. They prize strict order and predictability in their world. These are the vanguard of the Abortion Lobby, and of the nascent Neo-Eugenics movement, which seeks to bring about social acceptance for the killing of newborns with certain disabilities.

That this segment of society should link arms with the political Left, that element who have, for so long been associated with inclusion, and who have been in the vanguard of genuine progress in the advancement of women, people of colour, sexual minorities and immigrants, is both cognitively dissonant and profoundly concerning. The linchpin here seems to be the right of a woman to decide what happens to her own body, a right that has always existed in the sight of God, but has, for so long a time, been slighted by patriarchal thinking.

A person who has been relegated to the back of the line, in self-determination, who has not been loved and nurtured by those around her, who feels totally alone and friendless, is easy prey for those who hold a skewed understanding of population control. Abortion of a pregnancy, which in cases of an unviable fetus may well be medically necessary, is now being promoted as a mere option, an elective procedure, one of many ways by which a person may exercise birth control. A subgroup of the Abortion Lobby has even hit upon the aborted fetus as a resource- a source of organs to be harvested, a source of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, a source of stem cells for research and for vaccines.

Women who are pregnant, regardless of circumstances, need and deserve to be completely enveloped in a culture of love. They neither need nor deserve judgement, from a standpoint of shallow morality, nor do they need or deserve to be the foils of those who, either consciously or unconsciously, detest infants and children, seeing the innocent and vulnerable as simply a means to an end. A loving culture feels the pain, sorrow and confusion of a woman or girl who is at wit’s end. A loving culture presents, and discusses with her, all the options available in this most personal and delicate of circumstances. It honours her informed and well-considered decision. It helps her heal.

Indeed, it is a shorter step than many in the Abortion Lobby realize, from the practice of their craft to the organized trafficking of children, a phenomenon from which the majority of abortionists would, no doubt, recoil in horror, but which nonetheless is a clear and present danger.

We, as a society, have one long-term choice-to return to a place in our hearts where all life is sacred.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 80: As Decades Have Passed

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August 19, 2020-

I have been pondering, since early this morning, as to the nature of my decades, lived thus far.

Young mother, anticipation, rough birth.

World still aflame, born under the element of Fire

Walking alone at age of three; hairbrush to the backside

Loved pictures and songs; pile of 45s in a memorized order

Family in a ramshackle house, which soon became a decent home

Three became four, then five.

First grade, morning bell rung by teacher

Second grade, more families in the neighbourhood

Third grade, began reading like a pro; teacher was like an angel

Fourth grade- Sometime tyranny, worn-out, angry Reading Instructor, Long Division

1950-59 was the decade of inception.

Fifth grade- Hypersensitive, wary of the Principal, death of Grandma

Sixth grade-Attention Deficit Disorder, hospitalized for colon issues

Junior High School- Mischief, girls mattered, one fire followed another,

High School- Best years ever, I-the Individual, clueless about attire, scattered work habits

Post-Graduate- Flubbed first semester, Demon Alcohol, lack of coordination, Army Basic Training, Postal Clerk at Fort Myer, Saw Moon Landing, Missed Woodstock

1960-1969 was the decade of formation.

Army Years- Lost buddies in VietNam, protest marches and intel duty, personal investigation of combat theater, clueless in Sydney

Community College- Series of dates, series of flubs, community involvement, living away from home, living back at home, Quebec-Ville and Montreal, hitchhiking across the continent

University- Dorm year, rooming house, apartment life, incompetent as editor, successful as student, so/so as teaching intern, summer hotel work, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Maine years- Staying distant when asked, substitute teaching, tutoring, Teacher Aide, more Demon Alcohol, visits with extended family, two siblings married, all over the state and the Maritimes

Villa School- Saved by the West, attempted Math instruction, dormitory watch, all over the West and the country, San Diego and Disneyland

1970-1979 was the decade of instruction.

Graduate School years- Town House in a quiet neighbourhood, Zuni, Baha’i Faith, first real adult love, Master of Arts in Education (Counseling)

Tuba City Years- School Counselor, Newlywed, Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, London and Canterbury, death of Nana, death of a dentist friend, deaths of children, Guyana, wedding of Glenn & Barbie, Pine Ridge, Omaha Nation, Columbus Youth Conference, death of my father

Jeju Island- House husband for a semester, Work Visa wait time, grappling with cultural baggage, Baha’is of Korea, troubled expatriates, Visiting Professor of English, training teachers, birth of a son, back and forth across the Pacific, Baha’i International Pioneer

1980-89 was the decade of maturation.

Jeju 2.0- Facing the culture of sexual harassment, empowering women students, enjoying life with a toddler, standing at the Demarcation Line, honouring our elders

Navajo-Hopi 2.0- More School Counseling, active child protection, rescuing two girls, saving our son, losing youngest brother, addressing ambition, Lady the Dachshund, Baha’i homefront pioneer, Principal in two schools, Keams Canyon, Jeddito, Chilchinbeto, Salome

1990-99 was the decade of professional success.

The Active Urban years- Y2K, Mingus Mountain Academy, Kingswood Estates, Mesa Community College, substitute teaching, El Mirage Elementary, Fuhr chiropractic, Phoenix Baha’i newsletter, Sierra Pines Apartments, the house on Solar Drive

The Caretaker Years- Penny’s two falls, my fall into despair, more substitute teaching, WIS International, Southwest Network, Ironwood Elementary, Palo Verde Middle School, poor career choices, ASU West, President Obama at Penny’s graduation, two wrecked cars, Dr. Yau, hyperbaric oxygen, Stem Cell Therapy, six family weddings, Aram graduates High School

2000-09 was the decade of reckoning

Caretaking and Losing- Trillium Specialty Hospital, renovating and painting the house, MRSA, Dr. Desvignes, Chapter 7, John C. Lincoln Hospital, facing my demons, Odyssey Hospice, turning sixty, Durant’s Steak House, Penny’s transition

Feeling My Way- Aram in the Navy, Kim & Stu, short-selling house, Louhelen Baha’i School, meandering across the country, helping in-laws, moving to Prescott, Willow Creek Gardens, Pacific Coast and interior Northwest, Texas Circle, wayward Vision Quest, emotional overkill, death of father-in-law, D-Day Anniversary, Berga, World Cup celebrations, Rouen landmarks, Paris by day and night, Luxembourg National Day, Iolani Palace, Waikiki, Tiger Cruise

Settling in My Space- Arizona Avenue, Prescott Circle Trail, Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, southeast Alaska, BRIDGES Program, RISE Program, Prescott High School, southern California beach towns, Aram to Korea, Carson City-Reno family, Gulf Coast journey, cross-continental journeys, loss of two cars, break-in to a third, Red Cross, death of mother-in-law, semi-retirement, Do Terra Essential Oils, Aram & Yunhee, return to Korea

2010-19 was the decade of resilience

2020- 29 is the decade of endurance

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 79: That Which Hangs Heavy

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August 18, 2020-

The air before a thunderstorm tends to sit, held in place by an almost perverse high pressure system, of anti-gravity. Eventually, as the sun’s influence wanes and evening draws near, the barometric pressure often falls, and the moisture being artificially held in abeyance will be released.

The same is true in human affairs. Those who thrive on artifice, and control of the masses, have gone to great lengths to devise systems by which this control may be monitored, adjusted and synthesized, so as to fit the ever-changing state of affairs, which seems to elude their initial grasp.

There is an old joke about the Brass Ring, that it is thinly coated with brass and is in fact largely iron. It comes with a magnet, carefully placed above it, which unseen manipulators swiftly lower, grabbing the ring and raising it up, away from the longing hands of the underdog. It’s a variation of “You can’t beat the system”, “Murphy’s Law”, “Business as usual is the only business that counts”, “Corporations are people, too”, “You can’t always get what you want”-and so on.

There are a couple of other truisms at play here: First, patience is a virtue. The young, and those who have waited forever for their just desserts, are understandably short on patience. We see this in the outbursts that initially came after the deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor. We see it in the outbursts that continue, seemingly without purpose or direction, in cities like Portland and Seattle. We see it in the outbursts that DO have purpose, in Beirut and Belarus. Patience is a virtue, but so is purposeful, constructive action. The trick is in knowing when to turn off the patience and turn up the heat-without unintentionally scalding or singeing innocent bystanders.

Secondly, those whose purpose lies in control of others are not going to lie down and play dead-ever. The Far Right has been masterful at playing Donald Trump’s ego, and his insecurity, like a fiddle. It has been ingenious at drawing in the fanciful minds of the New Age community, the orderly, obedient and heartfelt members of the Fundamentalist Christian and Orthodox (as well as Conservative) Jewish communities and the business-minded, obedience-oriented legal immigrants from Asia and Latin America. It has an End Game, summed up by “He who has the gold, makes the rules”. It foresees an America divided into palaces and favelas. It envisions a gradual elimination of those who deviate from what it defines as the norm. It will play the Master Race card.

The Far Left, no less authoritarian than its identified opposite number, has mastered the Game of Shrillness: It has capitalized on the lingering fears of Nazism and Fascism, which are ever-present among both those whose lives are well-ahead of them and those whose best years are behind them. It has owned the Megaphone, snatching that device away from White Supremacy, while being careful not to give it up, too much, to Black Lives Matter. It has dangled the nebulous term “Antifa”, in front of people whose own mantra is “Just let me go to work, come home and enjoy my family.” The idea is to cow people into submission, by shouting: “What are you, a bunch of Neanderthals?”, to anyone not toeing the line of its agenda. Its End Game is that-It has no End Game, except perhaps that same, pesky, Master Race card, which will be face up-should more people buy into the false dichotomy between the lives of children and the rights of women, the concept that ridding mankind of the congenitally-disabled is a key to a healthy community, or the equally false notion that religion cannot co-exist with free will.

Time hangs heavy-just like precipitation that is stuck inside a cloud.