In The Blood

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February 14, 2019-

It’s been a rough few days- with a dear friend falling and suffering some serious injuries, another friend diagnosed with cancer and still others with chronic illnesses, not getting any better. The weather here has been rambunctious- soaking rain, a good thing in the long run, has fallen steadily for the past thirteen hours.  More is on the way, followed by snow in the latter part of this weekend.

I have had much time to reflect on the nature of love, on this day of cards and chocolate.  I have to look at myself, as always. I don’t hold grudges; if a person who savaged me later comes to me in need, I find a way to help meet that need.  I have made terrible errors in judgement- and find it critical to make amends to the person, where possible.  I don’t always feel loved, and have to then look at what I am projecting outward.

Love shows itself in a myriad ways-the bottom line being that the beloved feels the goodness of heart.  Words alone are not one of those ways.  Neither is merely providing a place of residence: Slavemasters, after all, provided a home of sorts, for those who were frequently brutalized.  Constantly abusing another, and getting by with apologies, is NOT love.

Love is in the blood.  My parents’ love for us came naturally and never receded.  The same is true of my love for my late wife, and for our child.  Suffice it to say, any children coming from his own marriage will find three truly loving grandparents standing behind their mother and father.

Love is in the blood.  Any way I can help a suffering friend, I will.  Grand gestures, though, have to be kept to a minimum.  Those are the first things, upon which a hater or critic will seize, as evidence of one’s fecklessness.   I’ve had that thrown in my face, more than once, and sometimes rightfully.

Love is in the blood, and thus can’t be erased easily, if at all.

Honouring

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February 3, 2019, Paulden, AZ-

Whilst many of my fellow humans were watching what started out as a Stupour Bowl, I chose a different route for a fine Sunday afternoon:  Revisiting friends at Dharma Farm, an unassuming, but loving little settlement, on the west side of this unincorporated community in northern Yavapai County.

The family’s older child decided I was a fun companion, so we built, and dismantled, several mud villages. This child is a true Shiva, great at building and destroying  items of wood and mud, alike.  When the digging got old, and child decided it was “cold”, we went inside and she regaled the lot of us with a very expressive series of dances, in her best party dress.  Then it was time for me to make a blanket fort, which she occupied very happily, for forty-five minutes. Finally, I became a blanket-covered creature, called Swaug-as the only sound it makes is a low, guttural “Swaug!”   This went on for another hour or so.

Such is the world of a bright, imaginative three-year-old.  The family lives, and the children are being raised on, a system of honouring: Honour each other’s space; each other’s work; each other’s presence; each other’s dignity and worth.  If time were taken, by anyone, to practice this code, how much higher would the state of peace be?

Life at Dharma is not letter perfect- The above-mentioned child has her life lessons to learn and there were fatigue-caused meltdowns, from both children.  The honour system will help address these concerns, as will the violence-free regimen of their parents.  The couple’s commitment to Permaculture, a work in progress, will also contribute greatly to the little farm’s thriving.

A review of an astrological concept:  The north node, its notion of “past lives” aside, did explain to me the basis for some difficulties and conflicts I’ve had in my actual past.  It is, in many ways, a spot-on psychological analysis.  It basically notes, in a largely accurate manner, that the Infinite, as the author refers to the Universe, will unfold life as it is intended to unfold, and that how one reacts to both challenges and triumphs alike, determines the degree of one’s happiness and feeling of satisfaction, or the lack thereof.  This gave rise to a discussion of just what the nature of successive lives might be.  I do not believe in continuous rebirths as human beings, and it turns out, neither do my friends.  We concur that there are different beings, or levels of being, which follow this one.

It was an interesting day, capped by roasted vegetables and a green/beet salad. I learned, soon enough, that the Super Bowl was a low-key affair, with a predictable ending.  On our lives go, as, for the most part, intended.

Primacy

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January 23, 2019-

I have watched the aftermath of this past weekend’s dustup, involving White, Red and Black activists, talking at, and over, each other- with only a smidgen of understanding, and that coming solely from the Native American elders, who thought drumming and singing a prayer would defuse tension.

The whites started out marching on behalf of banning abortion.  The blacks were mainly stating their beliefs about their being descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel.  The Native Americans were in a sanctioned march for Peace on Earth. The whites and blacks began berating one another, and it is academic as to who started what.  There have been all manner of comments, on all sides and from the sidelines, suggesting that, once again, no one was listening to the others- except the silent, grinning Nick Sandmann who, depending on who was watching, was either standing still out of respect to Nathan Phillips or was grinning in contempt of “an other”.

In reality, it IS disrespectful in Native American culture, to speak to someone who is chanting, praying or dancing in a spiritual manner.  Nick would know this, as, likewise, no  Catholic churchgoer engages a priest in conversation, when the prelate is saying Mass or giving a sermon.

It is also reality for some to stand, often with arms folded, grinning while their eyes flash hatred, as I have often seen when disparate groups of people confront one another.

I saw no hatred in the eyes of Nick Sandmann.  I saw a boy who didn’t want to speak, for whatever reason.  I saw his face momentarily turn serious, and what was going through his mind, at that moment, is known only to him.

Commentators have interpreted the behaviours of various people in the situation, according to what they, the commentators, have witnessed in the past.  I could do the same thing, and note that when I was a teen, my schoolmates and I poked fun at one another, sometimes to the point of invoking anger and tears.  We had one another’s backs when real adversaries attacked us.  Thus, the solidarity, the other day, when the whites, the reds and the  blacks felt threatened by one another.

Gradually, as will likely happen with the Covington kids, many of my contemporaries and I expanded our social circles, to include people of various groups.  Primacy of one group over another does not hold water.  Nick Sandmann, and those of his friends who join in, will start learning this WHEN they sit down with Nathan Phillips, and hear his story.  I hope they listen with both ears-and I hope Mr. Phillips remembers what it was like to be male and sixteen.  In answer to his question: “THIS is our future?”, I can only say:  Yes, sir, and it is also our past.  Intemperance and ignorance give way to open-mindedness and awareness, when the latter are brought to bear, in a loving way.  We are, in the end, one human race.

Rainy Day Reflections

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January 15, 2019-

Yesterday, I rushed about, in the morning, to get  an essential oil blend to a young friend suffering from a health ailment not normally associated with the young.  I hope the oil will help.  More potentially problematic was getting to my own appointment, halfway across the Salt River Valley.   I was twenty minutes late, but had been able to message the office, as to my predicament.  No worries and I emerged with a clean bill of dental health, for another four months.

On the way up to the cemetery where Penny is laid to rest, I was obliged to stop, as the funeral procession of another soul passed.  I could hear the proceedings of the person’s ceremony, as I communed with my beloved, some fifteen minutes later.  Each one of us ought to be able to expect a dignified send-off, and someone to keep us in loving memory.  Of course, what one gets in that regard, depends on what one has given.

I went up to Cave Creek, for lunch, with a trio of pleasant eateries on my short list:  Local Jonny’s, my favourite, was suitably packed; Big Earl’s, always offering a warm greeting, also offers food too heavy for my needs at that time; Divine Bakery was thus my choice, with no other customers when I walked in, but five people entering, as I left. In between, was the best quiche south of Rustic Pie Company (Prescott’s best) and a delectable cannoli.

Today the rain came down in buckets, as unusual as the snow that hit the central part of Arizona on Saturday night.  We can expect such moisture in July and August, but not so much in winter.  These are not “conventional” times, though.  Besides, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of our larger reservoirs, with Lake Mead, which got a fair amount of rain today, also, being Ground Zero in the drought watch chronicles.

It mattered little to us, ensconced in the classroom and taking our post-lunch walk around the main building.  Our life today revolved around getting more familiar with talking electronic pads- giving voice to those without the  ability to speak, themselves.  I recognize the urgency of this, and am giving quick study to mastering the use of these devices.

My knee has been better, of late, with ongoing exercises and essential oil treatments. There are a few exercises in the adaptive P.E. class, to which we take our students, which will require more acclimating, but I am getting there.  Now it’s time to head over to Planet Fitness.

 

Sleight of Hand

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January 6, 2019, Prescott-

From today, I will not write the name of the town in my dateline, unless it is somewhere other than Home Base.  Otherwise, the reader may assume I’m writing in Prescott.  I am moving away from redundancy.

Today’s post is so titled, as the weather pattern was a mix of the predicted snow and rain, courtesy of a west wind and clear sky, courtesy of the normal Sonoran Desert dry air flow.  The call had been for rain, heavy at times.  Cosmic legerdemain is the way of the Southwest-even when the forecast is “100% precipitation”.

I try to keep my own sleight of hand to a dull roar.  If I say I am going to do something, I usually get it done.  Only once, since 2011, have I not followed through and that was in 2013, when it was prudent for me to put off a photo-journey to Newfoundland, in favour of joining my brother on a Sail Blind excursion.  I can’t think of anyone, though, who was offended by that.  Prior to that, my pledges were those that meant being met, even if heaven and earth had to be moved. Such is the realm of the caretaker.

We go back to work tomorrow, entering the period of time when interruptions in the learning process are at a minimum:  There are no big holiday pageants; the weather-related interruptions are almost always limited to a two-hour delay, in the start of school, if they happen at all.  So, our attention is on the elements of the students’ individual education plans.  We refrain from sleight of hand.,

The Realm of Caring

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January 2, 2019, Prescott-

I sat in comfort, on New Year’s Eve, not knowing that a new friend was toughing it out, on snow shoes, of all things, headed to and from Courthouse Square.  When she finally shared this with me, this evening, I could only say:  “Next time, please call me and never mind the time.”

This is how I was raised and how the people in my circle of friends were for one another.  Even in the worst phases of my autism, I knew better than to ever leave a family member or friend in the lurch.  I wasn’t always so good at it, but I did make the effort.

A few minutes later, there came a post from another friend, elsewhere in the country, about a particularly nettlesome difficulty she was facing, due to other people’s inefficiency and lack of communication. I am furious on her behalf and could only say as much, whilst praying for resolution of the matter.

I have faced the harshest of communication and the most endearing that it can convey, over the past six decades and eight years.  I have also had good friends up and leave, without so much as a “Farewell”.  I will not chase after them, and if they come back, I will be as glad to see them, as if they never left.

Caring, in my view, does not mean patronizing or groveling.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  We are here to raise each other up, period.  Tomorrow, I will join my above-mentioned local friend in a leisurely activity, likely taking some children on an ice-skating venture.  This, from one who tried skating three times, as a child, and fell down each time I got up, should be interesting.

Guarding the Precious

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December 23, 2018, Phoenix-

The second day of the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference continued the examination of issues around wealth and building a sustainable new society.  There was, however, a necessary sidebar:  The curbing of violence against women.

Ms. Layli Miller Muro is Director of Tahirih Justice Center, a nationwide network of programs designed to safeguard women facing all manner of attacks on their person, especially with respect to arranged marriages, particularly of underage girls.  Her two presentations today placed a searing light on the many aspects of this issue.

I have long been concerned with the maltreatment of women and children, especially of girls.  In my initial work, there was a tendency towards paternalism-though just shy of infantilizing my charges.  I have made it a lifelong goal to foster strength and independence- the lioness being more of a model than the fluffy rabbit.  What that entails, in real terms, has been a learning process, for yours truly, despite having been raised by an indomitable woman and growing up surrounded by powerful females.

Nonetheless, my learning has continued apace, and the shedding of counterproductive, if well-intentioned, attitudes and thoughts is ongoing.

Mrs. Muro’s major points, in her first presentation, bear intense consideration:

  • “Unity is not possible, without justice.
  • The beginnings of justice are messy.  Purification requires blistering heat.
  • Justice is the foundation of a spiritually-based global civilization.
  • As an individual, it is better to be killed, than to kill.
  • As a society, we must ALL serve as advocates.
  • As an individual, immediate forgiveness is essential.
  • As a society, swift and complete justice is equally essential.
  • It is NOT the victim’s job to arrange justice.
  • In the next life ( a spiritual life), justice is even harsher.  It’s therefore better for a perpetrator to face justice in this world.”

In the afternoon presentation, Mrs. Muro noted that social action is a tool for achieving justice.  We, even as individuals, may not be able to control pain and suffering, but we can control its duration and limit its severity.  She noted that justice which does not end in unity is not true justice.

Furthermore, she noted that, if those who face incarceration realize the severity of justice in the spiritual world, they would certainly seek out appropriate punishment in this life.

These thoughts and statements, to me, are worthy of deep thought on the part of the hearer or reader.  With me hardly being a paragon of virtue, historically speaking, I am taking Mrs. Muro’s points very seriously and will be devoted all the more to both self-purification and to aiding women and girls in both their self-protection and in advocating for those with a history of victimhood.

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings

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December 18, 2018, Prescott-

So now, my full days of school, for 2018, are in the rear view mirror.  Three abbreviated school days remain, before we all take a break for the period which, for many, is a time of celebration and revelry.  For others, it will be a time of remembrance of a Great Being, Whose sacrifice and teachings are fully intended to bring peace to those who understand them.  For still others, it will be a time of lying low and making do with very little.  Then, the Gregorian clock will reset itself, and we will have 2019 AD/CE. (I am old school, and prefer the former, in figuring time since the Birth of the Christ.  Further disclosure: We Baha’is determine our place in time, dating from the Declaration of al-Bab, in May, 1844 and thus will refer to next year as 176 Baha’i Era, or B.E.  For general social purposes, though, I will continue to date my posts by the Gregorian system.)

During this period of  revelry, rest, reflection and resilience, I wish these things, to the following:

Seniors (75 and onward):  May your curiosity continue and may it bring you the recognition and relevance that ought to come with accrued wisdom .  The elder among you raised our generation and can take large credit for the best that we have been able to offer the world, through your parenting.  The younger among you are our older cousins, siblings and mentors.  It would have been harder growing up without your shared experiences and occasional babysitting. You remain friends, and vital presences in my life-Mom, Uncle Jim and Aunt Jackie, Aunt Janet, Aunt Carol, both Aunts Helen, Aunt Gail, Uncle Jerry,  and my online friends and older cousins, (you know well to whom I am referring).

My Contemporaries (55-74):  My siblings, many cousins, classmates, immediate elders and juniors, and a good many of my friends-We have gone through many of the same experiences, hard times, great celebrations, triumphs and tragedies, victories and losses.  We have seen Woodstock and the Men on the Moon; the gradual “shrinking” of Planet Earth, and changes that we never anticipated. Considering that my first phone call, to my late Aunt Hazel, was aborted by a shrill voice telling me to get off the phone, as it was a party line “used  by grown-ups, for important matters”. I did as I was told, and remember my mother’s eyes rolling, as she quipped, “important matters, like everyone else’s business!” Now, the picture phones and calls between vehicles, of which I once dreamed, are de rigeur.  May our days not be hamstrung by health-related woes, to the extent that we can use natural remedies, exercise and a well-varied diet, to keep us going.  May we continue to love those older and younger than we; and because we first know to love ourselves.

Millennials and Generation X (20-54):  You have brought many of the ideas of which I once dreamed, as a child and teen, into being.  Many of you were my students and counselees.  I helped a fair number, confused some and let others down, but loved all of you.  Among you are my nieces and nephews, and my own beloved son and daughter-in-law.  You grew up in my hometown of Saugus; or in the woods of central Maine;  or in the elite families who sent you to  a boarding school in the midst of the Sonoran Desert; or on the Navajo and Hopi nations, reared by loving, but often struggling extended families, who gave me more than I could ever repay; or in the western Sonoran Desert, a string of communities that gave newcomers a wary, if cordial, welcome-even when several were newcomers, themselves; or you grew up, as our son did, moving from town to town and making the best of life, even when it felt lonely.  I wish you a future far better than the recent past has shown you, and know that you have it within, to make wondrous things happen.

Generation Z (Newborns to 19)- I am thrilled to see the older among you come of age, shed the misgivings of your elders and take on the challenges that the Universe has sent your way, either because of the nature of life or because of what the rest of us have managed to create.  Every generation hands down both blessings and banes to its progeny, so do forgive us and know that you are also very much loved.  You have come into my life, as my working years are winding down and you have given me the confidence, the sense that my volunteer, travel and, quite possibly, grandparent years will be as bounteous and fulfilling as all that has gone before. May we all greet and nurture the generations  that come after you, as well.

To all, I treasure my time among you and may it long yet continue. A Merry Christmas, Bountiful Kwanzaa, Joyful Solstice and Healthy, Prosperous and Happy 2019, to each and every one.

 

Tear Memories, Fire Sales and Recovery

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December 13-14, 2018, Prescott-

I’ve been back at work, these past two days, getting easily into the routine again.  As my crewmates read my posts here and on Facebook, there was a brief welcome back, with little conversation about the journey. We focus on the matters at hand, which are certainly enough on any given day.

It must have been quite a contrast in those schools which have endured the twin demons of school shootings and their accompanying choruses of denials/attacks on survivors and victims’ families.  The fourteenth of December, a full week after the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, has its own, equally horrific commemoration- the massacre at Sandy Hook.  There will never be a time when the survivors of this insanity do not shed tears.  There will hopefully be a time, and soon, when those of us who truly love children can forgive those who threatened the families of the shooting victims.  That time, at least for me, has not arrived, and I’m still vigilant.

Fridays are also  days when investors take to selling off their  stocks, perhaps more than on any other day of the week.  I know the sales have to originate on Wednesdays, with the cashout being completed at week’s end, but it seems to me that this is an ersatz payday.    The stock market is no place for a fire sale.

I have now fully recovered from a couple of setbacks, earlier in the year.  Finances are sound, and will have to sustain me for the rest of my life, so I will continue to maintain a measure of frugality.  I again have a passport, so prudent overseas travel can happen, to Korea, next Spring, and certain other places, two years hence.    Travel and frugality are not mutually exclusive.

 

Old Town, but Not Cold Town

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December 10, 2018, Alexandria, VA-

In the years in which I was stationed at Fort Myer, VA and  in the several visits I’ve made to the Washington area, since then, I had not been in Old Town Alexandria.  The place was just enough off the beaten path that we always made to the National Mall, that I just never got over here.

The Metro has changed things and Alexandria took its rightful place on my itinerary, all the more so because our family dinner, the night before my mother-in-law’s interment, was held at The Warehouse, a fine dining establishment, in lower Old Town.

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This would be one of the best meals I’ve had, in a long time, and that’s saying  a lot, in a year of fabulous repasts. Yet, let;s get back to the start of this visit.

I took a Blue Line train to Alexandria’s Union Station, just after noon.

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Being a bit hungry, and with dinner nearly five hours away, I stopped in at this simple, but charming, little cafe, across from the train station.  As good as the coffee was, I relished the gyro sandwich, as well.

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Old Town, especially on King Street, has a variety of shops with interesting names:  Hard Times Cafe, Stage Door Deli, and this- a unique place, which was closed-it being Monday.

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Here is an eastward view of King Street. The air was cold, but the vibe in Old Town is uniformly warm.

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Even a broken bench was inviting.

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I spent about ninety minutes enjoying the scenes along the Potomac Riverfront, one of the key ingredients in the Alexandria Story.  This town was one of the first great shipbuilding and sail rigging manufacturing cities in the U.S., and continued in that role, right up through World War I.

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In Waterfront Park, the lone statue is that of a shipwright.

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Oystering is Alexandria’s other claim to fame, and Potomac River oysters are proudly served, both on and off the half-shell.  These pilings are left from an old oystering wharf.

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I could not resist zooming in on the U. S. Capitol, nearly six miles away to the north.

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Animals make do with the weather they’re given.  Here, a duck is grooming its mate, in the bracing Potomac waters.

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Jones Point, named for an indentured servant of the Eighteenth Century, is Alexandria’s largest wilderness park, and the southernmost point of Old Town.  It is the site of numerous archaeological digs, a couple of left-over border markers. From 1801-1847, the City of Alexandria was part of the District of Columbia.  A retrocession was passed by Congress in 1846 and took effect the following year, returning Alexandria to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  During the Civil War, however, the city was occupied by Union forces, thus temporarily reversing the retrocession.

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This house was occupied by the keeper of a lighthouse, at Jones Point, in the nineteenth century.

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On the walk back into Old Town, I noted the area’s awakening Christmas spirit.

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The last forty-five minutes before dinner were mostly spent in Torpedo Factory, which is actually Alexandria’s fascinating three-story arts haven.  More than fifty individual galleries are housed here, as are studios to encourage children’s art.

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The bear reminded me to stop by the small, but heartfelt, Old Town Books, and look for a children’s book-for my ten- month-old grandniece, who was at the dinner. I found a flip book on horses, which she found most interesting, both to sight and to touch, a good early sign!

The superb dinner ended a day, the likes of which “Bunny” always approved.

 

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