Proud

3

September 20, 2019-

I’m proud of you,

who stood for what you believe

and told the world that Man

has a duty, to be a good steward

of this planet.

I’m proud of you,

for telling those who ignore

the warning signs,

to wake up,

as this planet doesn’t just belong

to the polluters,

to the Big Dogs,

to the billionaires,

to those who tell you

to shut up and go away.

I’m proud of you,

for saying that

your life matters

as much as anyone else’s.

I’m proud of you,

for standing tall.

for standing firm.

I’m proud of you,

every one of you.

Be prepared for the hard work that follows from today.

(Written on the occasion of Climate Strike)

Mass Assumptions

6

September 19, 2019-

I don’t know about you, but I am alternately amused and flummoxed by colloquialisms and popular beliefs, that don’t hold up in the court of scrutiny.  Bear with me; this is a potpourri.

  1. “Leprosy is returning to California, via the homeless population!” FACT:  There have been no cases of leprosy reported among the homeless, in California or anywhere else.  There IS a hygiene issue, due to several cities decriminalizing toileting in public.  While this is disgusting, it has nothing to do with leprosy.
  2. “California is forcing children to experiment with sexuality!”  FACT:  California’s guidelines on public sex education  are a lot less age appropriate than many would like.  Parents, and school districts, can, however, opt out of adopting these guidelines. (DISCLOSURE:  I believe sex education is primarily the duty of the parent(s).)
  3. “MYSELF should be used, instead of ME,  and mentioned first,when speaking or writing in the first person, or when mentioning self along with others.”  I still am more comfortable using ‘me’ or ‘I’, after referring to others in my company.
  4. “________ Year Anniversary” is ‘shorthand’ for ____________st(th) Anniversary.  How is being redundant shorthand for anything?  An anniversary IS the passage of one year.  There is no such thing as a ____ month anniversary, or a _____week anniversary.  It just SEEMS like time is dragging.
  5.  “If a Democrat is elected President, the stock markets will slam shut!”  FACT:  The stock markets, under Presidents Clinton and Obama, made fair gains-albeit not as much as has been the case under President Trump.  Markets don’t move lock step with whoever is President.  China, and other countries, actually have more influence on the markets than does a U.S. president.
  6. Lastly, and my favourite: “Everybody else can do this.  What is wrong with you?”  “Everybody else” refers to either 7.7 billion people, or to everyone else known to the speaker.  There is no way for him(her) to know what even everyone he or she knows can do or not do.                                                                                                             Those are just some things that passed through my consciousness today.

Home Is Fluid

6

September 17, 2019-

“Well help me figure this place out.  I know I’m an outsider, but I’m not an enemy.” “No, you’re not.  But in this town those two words mean the same thing.”                     – Toni Morrison, “Paradise”

So, I was part of an interview, this morning, promoting a Home Safety event, sponsored by the American Red Cross, and to be held this coming Saturday.  Inside that little room, among friends, I felt like somebody, safe and honoured.  The interview went well, and I felt secure in sharing it on social media, once back in my apartment.

Walking from the studio to Ms. Natural’s, I crossed the Courthouse Plaza, normally a neutral place, where all are welcome, at least officially. Today, I had to pass by those who glared at me in my Red Cross shirt and ball cap; pass by the well-to-do, who look down at anyone not dressed for business.  It’s never pleasant dealing with the Self-Perceived Originals, in any community.

It was much different at Ms. Natural’s, as it always is.  Claudia and the young ladies are not from here, either, and know some of what gets thrown around, by some of the Pioneer Families and the faux elite.  I am at home there.  Sharlot Hall, one of the original pioneers, for whom Prescott’s Historical Museum is named, would spin in her grave  at the pretense and the snobbery.

No matter; I am here to serve those who need it and just have to put my lingering Impostor Syndrome and refugee mentality aside.  The people who accept me, and take me into their circle, are also from somewhere else.  These are the ones who matter.  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile. Home, for me, is a fluid term.

 

 

The Pizza Box

8

September 15, 2019-

Several years ago, I had a discussion with some immigrants from the Middle East, about what could and couldn’t be recycled.  The focal point was a pizza box, contaminated with cheese and oil.  I pointed out that the box could not be recycled, as it had food stuck to it and was saturated with oil, besides.  “No matter!”, the loudest opposing voice said, “Back in our home city, EVERYTHING was recycled.  The landfill had workers who separated it all out!”

There is a trend now, of cities scaling back their recycling programs, citing “cost” as the reason.  Of course, if one has to have a crew separating cardboard with food stuck on it, washing or rinsing cans, bottles and jars and throwing yard refuse, used clothing and dirty napkins back into the general pile, the costs add up.  Then, there is the China Card:  “Well, China no longer accepts recycling from other countries.”  Where is it written that China, India, the nations of sub-Saharan Africa, or any other country has to be America’s trash dump?

We can train ourselves to be more judicious and take the time necessary to rinse out recyclable bottles, cans and jars-both glass and plastic.  We can use products like soap nuts, available in quite a few places, for laundry and household cleaning.  (https://heddaskincare.com)  We can take the time to separate contaminated paper and cardboard from that which is actually recyclable.

The alternative, of course, is to pile the landfills up to the sky, as so many communities in developing nations must do. There is also the option of a price increase-wherein a customer pays an extra $1-3 per month, for “enhanced” recycling services.   Sooner, rather than later, the reckoning will be upon us, as any resident of a crowded city in a developing nation could testify.

A Sense of the Present Mood

6

September 14, 2019-

I went over to Farmers’ Market, this morning, and found more of a subdued mood.  I’m not sure what is going on, but I basically bought what  I was planning to get, and did not get into any conversations-even normally friendly people were very much into themselves.  A harpist, who was playing as a featured musician, was emotionally very distant from  any of the people walking by.  I liked her music, and left a tip, as usual, but with no acknowledgement.

There was quite a bit more animation at Prescott Stand Down, our annual distribution of clothing and outdoor equipment to veterans who are in varying degrees of homelessness.  It is indicative of our community’s positive outlook towards the homeless, that a dedicated park for their feeding and recreation has been established through a partnership of community agencies and the Hilton Corporation, after the latter took out a long-term lease on city property that had been the site of a squatters’ camp.  The displaced can now at least get a meal on Saturday (typically an off-day for other groups that feed during the week or on Sundays.  There are also maintained toilets and paths for walking.

At my last meeting of the day, planning Hope Fest, which takes place two weeks from today, an offhand remark was made about how girls do well to be a bit sassy.  I believe that speaking up for oneself is a very basic skill, that ALL children should be taught.  My young charge of yesterday has been so taught.   So are several children who were present at this planning meeting.  They will be higher-functioning adults, as a result.

What happens when a child is oppressed and battered, on the other hand, has been chillingly borne out by the behaviour of a  person whom I tried to help, last Fall, only to to encounter resistance and personal attacks.  This same one has tried to get me to resume contact.  The old saw- “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me,” comes into play.  The needs of such a person go far beyond what one individual can provide.  I leave that matter to  the wider community.

On the other hand, working with organized groups remains a source of fulfillment.  I don’t regard being part of a team as either an act of cowardice or an attempt to dodge personal responsibility, as a few have suggested, elsewhere.  There are simply a good many social tasks, even involving one troubled individual, which cannot be done well by a person acting alone.  I have lost  a few friends over the above-mentioned issue, but my take remains as described here.

 

There Was No Wolf Howling, or Was There?

6

September 12, 2019-

The nation, eighteen years ago, was both united and frightened.  This, of course, did not last much more than a fortnight, in terms of a unified populace.  The first questioning of the events came from abroad.  French and English gadflies were already asking difficult questions, which could not be answered with glib replies-as the questions themselves were rather detailed, and reached back to suspicion about secret societies.

We Baha’is are prohibited from belonging to such secret societies, for the simple reasons that they are exclusive, promote anti-social agendas and seek power through unscrupulous means.  We are inclusive, pro-social and only accept authority that is earned through service.

Let’s look, though, at what produces conspiracy theories, in the first place:  Greed, lust for power and lack of transparency have combined, over the centuries, to fuel fear, suspicion and lack of trust.  There is, in reality, no good reason for greed, lust for power or hidden agendas, save hatred and loathing of others, either one’s own immediate kin or neighbours, or those further afield, who may or may not be different.

So, power grabs, in the aftermath of the Dark Ages, set high-ranking clergy on a path away from the Love preached by Christ and on the path of seeking more power and wealth.  The quest for dominance led European monarchs to send merchant ships to Africa, where the captains fell into the midst of tribal conflicts and used those troubles to enslave large numbers of people and encumber African leaders in their wider economic servitude, in the form of colonial dominance.

Many seemingly wild, imaginative stories have arisen, regarding just about every prominent historical figure, from the days of ancient Egypt, until the present day. However,  I just have to remind myself:  Just because the wide-eyed boy is sounding an alarm, doesn’t mean there is no wolf at the door.  Statements and evidence need to be weighed carefully, by anyone of sound mind.

Eighteen and Counting

5

September 11, 2019-

Growing up in the Boston area, I adopted a love/hate relationship with New York City.  It was largely the Red Sox/Yankees thing, then the Celtics/Knicks and, to a lesser extent, Patriots/Jets.  As a teen, my feelings towards the Big Apple became more nuanced.  No one with a pulse, in Red Sox Nation, was smug or indifferent, when the Yankees’ thirty-two year-old catcher, the great Thurman Munson, was killed whilst practicing piloting his small plane, in August, 1979.  Slightly more than ten years later, many felt bad at the accidental death of Billy Martin, a guy Bostonians loved to hate.  Martin had been the on-again, off-again manager of the Yankees and loved tormenting the Sox.  That did not lessen the pain of his dying on Christmas night, 1989.

My first visit to  New York was transitory, whilst traveling between Washington and Boston, at Christmas, 1969.  I went from Penn Station to La Guardia, then finally to Grand Central, before settling on a bus that got me, fairly cheaply, to Boston.  I remember being teased by a couple of prostitutes, in the subway, almost getting gouged by a ticket agent at La Guardia, and not a whole lot else.

Six years later, I drove a couple of friends from UMass-Amherst, down to Manhattan, and visited some former hotel restaurant customers of mine.  It was actually a very nice weekend,  Friday night and Saturday, in the Chelsea neighbourhood.  I visited Bronx Zoo, on that Sunday morning, and was delighted at how quiet the area was.   Yes, I also walked by Yankee Stadium afterward, because-Hey, why not?

Penny was a fan of all things NYC, so we spent a couple of days in Central Park and along the waterfront, when visiting her parents in nearby New jersey. I hung out in Central Park, solo, when attending an American Association of School Counselors convention, in 1984.  That was the last time, before 9/11/01, that I saw Manhattan intact.

I was getting some groceries, early that morning, in Phoenix.  As I got in the car to go home, and turned on the radio, the morning jock stated that someone had just flown a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center.  “Terrorist” hit my mind like a ton of bricks (no pun intended). Penny saw me walk in, crestfallen, i described what I’d heard, and we turned on the TV.  CNN had not picked up on the story, so it was business as usual from them and Penny got herself dressed for work, whilst Aram got ready for school.  I stayed glued to the screen, knowing that, eventually, a report would come on.  Ten minutes later, CNN caught on, and a Day of Infamy for our time played out in front of my eyes.

There were all manner of reports, mostly factual, with a fair amount of misinformation thrown in.   Reports came that the National Mall, the State Department, the Capitol, the White House, CIA Headquarters, the Sears Tower (Chicago) and downtown Los Angeles were being attacked. My mind pictured a latter day Orson Welles intoning “War of the Worlds”.  A French conspiracy theorist immediately began claiming this was all a hoax, using holograms, designed to instigate was with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  He turned out to be partially right- Iraq, as well as the Taliban, became targets of the U.S. Military.  There were, however, no holograms.

The images coming out of lower Manhattan, and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey, were all too real, all too horrific.  I would later visit each of the sites impacted by the plane crashes of that eternal morning:  Shanksville, in 2009; Ground Zero, in 2013 and the Pentagon, in 2014.  What  I saw on that last visit convinced me that there was no hoax.  Metal fragments and burnt soil remain, here and there, at the Memorial Park.  Ground Zero has impacted thousands of people, many of whom are still suffering.  Shanksville’s residents, including the farmer on whose property the plane came down, bear uniform witness to the event that forever changed their lives.

Eighteen years later, there remain many questions, but no doubt as to the fact that  the innocence of two generations was shattered on that Latterday of Infamy.

 

 

The Gold Standard

4

September 9, 2019-

Bill Tracy passed away last Thursday, after a month-long decline, triggered by a fall from the roof of his Palm Desert restaurant.  Bill was one of those rare individuals whose concept of business was primarily as a means of giving back. He had three restaurants in Prescott-The Dinner Bell (ironically, a breakfast and lunch establishment), Bill’s Pizza and Bill’s Grill.  Feeling age, he sold those establishments, in 2015, to a friend who has kept Bill’s vision.  Bill’s Pizza, for example, donated about twenty large pies to the Farmers’ Market Board, yesterday, to feed volunteers and staff at the Farm-to-Table Dinner.

Bill’s philanthropy was where his heart was.  He gave to a variety of causes and regarded the needs of the community, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area. He has helped our local Red Cross Chapter, as well as the Farmers’ Market and a local street ministry. Bill hired those who were disadvantaged, and worked with them to develop job skills.  I have eaten at all three of his restaurants, on several occasions over the years.  I never met the man, but I saw his ethic at work and notice that there is a close camaraderie in each of the establishments.

People like Bill Tracy are the gold standard, combining social sense, business sense and deep character.   Many of us strive to develop one or another of these qualities, and make a good effort at it.  Bill had the drive and sense of constancy to keep up with the changes and chances of economic downturns-and was a force in establishing shelters and care programs for the homeless, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area.

He won’t return to Prescott, but I daresay his spirit will never leave this community.

Back to Harmony

6

September 8, 2019-

Yesterday, I let the sour mood pass through. I think it was a reaction to the falling barometer.  We got about 1.3 inches of rain, in this neighbourhood and in points east.  A trip to the laundromat, on the northwest side of town, revealed continued “dry as a bone” conditions. Whilst at Farmers’ Market, I learned, from a vendor, who is a mutual acquaintance, that an erstwhile tormentor had found some peace in her life.  That is comforting, as unhurt people are less likely to hurt people. As the day wore on, and the rain had passed, I felt more in tune.  Spiritual Feast, in the evening, was vibrant and well-attended, another uplift.

Today has seen a nice breakfast at Post 6 come and go.  Now the long and celebratory Farm-to-Table Dinner will occupy my afternoon and evening.  This is one of four large social events of the Autumn-three of them this month and the last, on November 2, which will keep me connected to the community and offer a form of activity, in addition to Planet Fitness and whatever hiking I do, here and elsewhere in the Southwest.  Service projects, other than the above, will also be performed, through the Red Cross.  Home safety, simply put, is our major focus, in areas at risk for wildfire.

The message comes to me that disharmony is, largely, actually a product of not being in sync with the community.  Letting other people’s pain affect my own self-concept is a disservice, to them and to myself.  So, back to a state of balance I go.

Today will make many people happy.

The Flow

2

September 6, 2019-

On any given day, I wake between five and six.

On any given day, I tap into an energy flow,

which tells me what I must do that day.

At any given moment,

there is a task,

which may, or may not,

involve payment.

At any given moment,

there is a sense of urgency,

for what is best done then and there.

With any given person,

there is a special element of his/her presence,

that calls for a certain degree of my presence.

With any given person,

there is a gift that is imparted,

that calls for my own gift, in return.

Tonight, I visited with one whom I regard

as my best friend,

and exchanged the gifts of heartfelt discourse.

This week, I have spent time with

members of my circle of honour,

and likewise have given and received

abundant presents of the Spirit.