May 18, 2022- I arrived back at Home Base, early this afternoon, to a message that my semi-annual chiropractic evaluation is tomorrow afternoon. This pre-empts any errand of assistance to Phoenix, for at least a couple of weeks. Laying low tomorrow is actually a good thing, since a double charge at last night’s motel won’t be fixed for a few days-per bank protocol. Besides, my constant travel is raising a few eyebrows around here, as it does every so often.

There does seem to be a lot of spending, across the country, and in response, the financial markets are selling off as much as they can-partly to dissuade said spending, which I suppose is the markets’ way of cooling inflation. My own policy, with regard to money, is much like the one I have towards water: Use, minimally as possible, what is needed to achieve my purposes, and turn the spigot off, when I am in the scrubbing, or working, process. As long as the well is not totally dry, I’m good.

On another note, the three weeks ahead, as mentioned earlier, have a lot of cleaning, getting rid of stuff and generally pitching in with whatever service activities come up. One such involves helping with fire-wise clean-up, at our Baha’i camp, on Saturday. I am also keeping one eye on the fire and hurricane situation. Things are quiet now, but lulls tend to not last long. Time and money always ask for adjustments in their use.

The Soft Desert Landing


May 17, 2022, Indio- Time was, that I would bull my way on back to Prescott, in either heat or cold, from a visit along the southern California coast. While I could still have done that, this afternoon, staying the night in this Colorado Desert town that has become something of a resort , in the style of Palm Springs, seemed prudent. It does my heart good to see Indio do well. The Coachella Music Festival, and a subsequent makeover of the area, have helped along those lines. Indio is not pretentious or hipster-like, in its relative prosperity, and most of my overnight neighbours are campesinos, looking for field work or whatever they can find.

Still, the eastern California desert is a fine place to rest, before the final alley-oop to Prescott, tomorrow. The rest of the week, once I get back, is full of activity-and includes service in Phoenix and near Flagstaff, as well as online activity around Home Base.

It was a pleasant stay, last night and this morning, at House of Trestles, in San Clemente. I could easily stay there again, especially as there are few hostels that would abide my joining a Baha’i online gathering, sans earphones. Dana Point, where I met longtime friend, J, for lunch, is also an ever-welcoming place. I enjoyed a cup of “Killer Dana” coffee, at CJ Beans, in the town’s central business district, then J and I had a nice meal at Harpoon Henry’s , along the harbour. There are proposals to “expand’ the harbour, owing to a shortage of boat slips. This would probably result in some shops and restaurants being closed and any remaining establishments being “upscale”, so as to generate revenue that would pay for the harbour expansion. I hope that doesn’t happen. More is not often better, when it comes to adding to already considerable material wealth.

Besides, with the rapid sequence of events, that occur without respect to wealth or social status, (i.e. the Laguna Niguel house fires), I get a feeling that too swift a move into scaling up, in either size or level, may be a fool’s errand.

Division Street, and The Bonsai That Unite


May 16, 2022, San Clemente- The drunken man, professing White Supremacy, yelled at me to “Get lost”, as I walked along El Camino Real, in this Orange County beach town. I guess the t-shirt I’m wearing, with its Baha’i logo, set him off. I kept walking and he drove off.
Baha’u’llah does state that “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education, however, hath deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259. Nowhere, of course, does He limit this bounty to any particular group of people.

Last night, at FOUND Hotel, in San Diego’s Little Italy, there were a few folks who were acting mighty lost, while saying they wished others-particularly the homeless who wanted to be let in, would get lost. No hostel, or residential hotel, is equipped to handle random homeless people wandering in off the streets. There has been progress made in sheltering, in many cities, but the task is looking Sisyphean. The number of units and condominia, catering to the uberwealthy are increasing at a rate outpacing those that provide for people in lower income brackets. Those who are experiencing homelessness, particularly in communities where housing costs are exorbitant-almost to an unconscionable level, are also finding their numbers increasing. Division Street, the nominal and actual social divider, of which Studs Terkel wrote in 1967, has become a metaphor for the country as a whole. Some hard decisions, regarding the accumulation of wealth, at the expense of a great many people, will need to be made in the not-too-distant future. Everyone will need to be at the table for this one.

I needed to change the channel in my head, after seeing so many people encamped in downtown San Diego, along Pacific Coast Highway and near Mission Beach. Revisiting Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden set the right tone. My focus was on the collection of bonsai, now at 18 and looking in on the koi, who were small when I was last there, in 2015.

Here are a few scenes from the Garden. The koi in the pond nearest the entrance have tripled in size, these past seven years.

Three types of bonsai: Pine, flowering and unflowered leafy are on display, in the Garden’s Bonsai Center.

My rejuvenation complete, it was an easy trip northward to Orange County, stopping briefly to complete some business at San Diego Baha’i Center, taking a detour to La Jolla’s sandy beach and another to La Cristianita Historic Site, in Camp Pendleton, which commemorates the first baptism in Alta California.

Tonight, I am comfortably at House of Trestles Hostel, amongst surfers and other lovers of the ocean. Here, everyone feels at home, even the dachshund-chihuahua mix.

The First Nation and the People of the Future


May 15, 2022, San Diego- Today saw two focuses: First was a pair of meetings-one on the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, brief, but profound thoughts on spirituality and morality, which He intended to serve as instructions to those who were undertaking independent investigation of truth; the second, in mid-afternoon, was a presentation of two children’s books, each written about a powerful Black woman.

The people of the future will, perhaps after a fair amount of suffering and changes in society, recognize both intellectually AND emotionally, that mankind is one human race. That today’s presentation comes a day after a deluded young man drove two hundred miles, specifically to kill Black people (of whom eight were killed, along with two Whites, and three seriously wounded.), is no real coincidence. There is no real future for the philosophy of racial supremacy. The unity of the human race means that there will be no replacement of one group by another. Nor will there be a return to the oppression of one group by another.

After resting for a while, upon the conclusion of the second meeting, I made a return visit to Old Town San Diego. My focus this time was on the recognition of the area’s First Nation: Kumeyaay, formerly known as “Diegueno” and on the art of the Mexican people, prior to California’s passing into U. S. control. Here are some scenes of this visit.

The above scene honours the Pico Family, one of the San Diego area’s more prominent Mexican families of the early Nineteenth Century.

Below are two Mexican ollas, or water jugs, each with its own colours and designs.

I needed a change of pace for dinner, after enjoying a visit with friends at Harbor Breakfast, this morning and planning to return there again tomorrow. There was no better place than Cafe Gratitude, a vegan establishment, which titles its offerings with affirmations. Here is a description on the eatery’s window.

It was a most wondrous day, starting with the bright faces of Melissa and Maria, at Harbor, continuing at San Diego Baha’i Center (the site of Penny’s and my wedding, nearly forty years ago), continuing with the delightful stories of achievement this afternoon, the vibrance of Old Town and the healthy fare of Cafe Gratitude.

Round and Round I Went


May 14, 2022,San Diego- It took 45 minutes to locate FOUND Hotel. The address is 505 West Grape Street, which is easy enough for those who recognize that the east-west surface streets in Little Italy are often bisected by Interstate 5, and its entrance/exit ramps, which feed large volumes of traffic onto Grape and Hawthorne Streets in particular. Add to that, the train and trolley tracks, with which I am at least a bit familiar, and locating a small hostel becomes an adventure in perseverance.

The other “fun” part was that Google Maps has the old phone number for FOUND, which loops ad nauseam and does nothing to connect. Hostelworld has the new number, which I called, and connected with Gabrielle, the office manager, instantly. Thus, 45 minutes did not turn into an hour. I am set for the next two days.

The day’s drive from Blythe to San Diego featured three traffic-tying accidents along California Highway 15, between Murrieta and Mira Mesa. Once past those, my air conditioner stopped complaining and worked just fine. (In traffic tie-ups, I have learned to turn off the A/C and open the windows, which works just fine in anything less than the blast furnace of a Sonoran Desert summer.) A return to an old favourite, Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in Banning, brought a fine Frisco Burger and Cole slaw. I also enjoyed pleasantries with Donna and Karen, who have greeted me at the counter, on various visits over the past eleven years. Donna is “Gramma”, running the establishment with her husband, who stays mostly in the office.

Going up and over the hill through Hemet and Menifee, then inching along, through the above-mentioned accidents, I still got to the hostel before 5. This evening, after grabbing a couple of slices at Mr. Moto Pizza, and a few words of greeting to two of my hostel mates, it was time for a visit to the Harbor. Here are scenes of sunset, in “America’s Favorite City”.

I walked back up to Little Italy, on the way back to FOUND Hotel, and came upon a lively crowd, enjoying the presentations of a DJ. Here is the fountain, around which little girls ran and shrieked with delight and different young people tried their hands-and feet, at somersaults.

Harbourside and Downtown were walls of sound this evening, thanks to the mid-Spring music fest. I am destined, it seems to happen upon such revelry, no matter where I go. Yes, life has its moments, but it’s generally sweet.

Stay With the Energy


May 12, 2022- Today was likely my last full day assignment for the 2021-22 Academic Year. A couple of half-days remain, the week after next, but with the year winding down, my focus shifts to Faith-based conferences, focusing on such themes as Building Vibrant Communities and Fostering Social Transformation; to making a commitment to cleaning out the remaining clutter in Home Base; to making my customary visits with friends and family and branching out to new areas.

The energy, which has been quite erratic, this Spring, is evening out just a bit. Though there are challenges each day, I feel more confident in meeting them, “in the moment”. Working with emotionally disabled special needs children can often feel like walking up a funicular, whilst carrying a sack of rocks, but it is one of those necessities in our society- at least as long as we struggle with the imperfect science of integrating the mentally ill into this mix.

Communication, never easy, is also subject to constant revision and repetition, as needs, moods and other conditions change, seemingly with the wind. Patience, forbearance and fortitude are certainly life-saving virtues! Still and all, this is a good life.

Quartz and Titanium


May 7, 2022- The small peak was still 1.5 miles away, when we first saw it glistening, on this breezy late morning. I had been here, three times before, but this was my Hiking Buddy’s first such visit. Quartz Mountain is unique in this area, and is one of the off-track places I enjoy showing visitors and fairly new residents. It is a moderately difficult hike, though, up and down three ridges of the intervening Wolverton Mountain (not the place made famous by Claude King). There is then a spur trail, that winds around to the west and southwest. Then, we were close to this:

Discretion is always the better part of valour, though, and we headed back, for the sake of HB’s well-being. As I said, Wolverton’s ridges are butt kickers.

The evening was a different sort of affair. A Galactogogues concert starts slowly and lets the energy build, until just when it seems it’s time to call it a night, the foot stomping and staccato hand clapping burns away any fatigue.

Meg Bohrman has been part of the Prescott music scene, as long as I’ve been here. Her family band, Galactogogues, takes its name from the items which help a nursing mother to best feed her child. Meg and family are all about nurturing the community, so the name is perfectly apropos.

The songs and the singers were fierce-unafraid to call out aggressors, both domestic and foreign-misogynists, racists and those who seek to dominate other countries. They included rousing Ukrainian folk dance tunes, for good measure, around a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”. There was also a pensive offering that looked back on the life of an uncle of Meg’s daughter-in-law, Abi, who is the band’s co-lead vocalist and songs that celebrate life in a nurturing community.

Thus was the day spent surrounded by quartz-and titanium.

Stay Close to Those Who Feel Like Sunlight


May 3, 2022- This phrase, taken from a quote by Xan Oku, a Japanese poet and philosopher, has come to define the way I am moving in life. It came to mind when I heard a jingle on the computer, a short while ago, and began musing about those in my life who reflect that image.

I’ve mentioned those who mean the most to me, several times in past posts-so briefly, my Sunshine Tribe are closest immediate family, several of my fellow Baha’is, more than a few social activists in the Prescott area and dozens across Arizona, around the country and all over the planet.

The people who feel like sunlight are named Dave, Aram and Yunhee, John and Gladys, Mike and Pooran, Dave and Annie, Linda and Randy, Molly, Ashley, Emily T., Melissa, Robert and Andrea, Annie B., Tom and Jeanie, Val and Sparky, Beth and Dave, Kathleen, Akuura, Sierra, about five dozen children and teens who wouldn’t want their names mentioned and even people I have never met in person, like Marianne, Emily D., Enya, Dan, Valentina P. and Heather, whose words or singing never fail to elevate my spirit and edify my consciousness.

To be fair, almost everyone else in my world does bring a fair amount of sunshine, often with struggles-many of which I gladly share, in the hopes that their burdens might be a little lighter. So, maybe next time, the list will be longer. Let us continue to work at bringing the sunlight, after the clouds have done their work.

Getting Over It


May 2, 2022- I admit it, there are still people who I find irritating, almost adversarial. Most are those in positions above me or who gather in small cliques, and leave me feeling like an outsider. So it is always back to the drawing board, and with the help of meditation, arriving at an understanding that their gamesmanship or maneuverings have nothing to do with me, per se. If it wasn’t me being excluded, it’d be someone else. I also have to take stock of my own expectations: Am I in search of some special place, some role of insider?

The conclusion I come to is, I don’t really want to be part of an exclusive group. My door needs to be open to those who suffer, who go without. My heart, last week, was more with the clients, the donors, my immediate teammates, than with my supervisors, who could barely bring themselves to acknowledge our presence. The same is true of certain schools. I take assignments because I get on well with the teachers and students. The front office staff is almost too busy to greet us or say thanks, and that’s just how it is.

If that all sounds like exclusion in reverse, well maybe so-but I did not make the first move, in that regard. Anyone is welcome to be part of my world; those who would rather not, well, Godspeed and make the most of your positions and perks. If my help is needed, I will show. If not, then there are plenty of places where my presence is welcome.

I know this goes way back, all the way to childhood, and the groups who kept to themselves. I long ago forgave and forgot those slights, but the aggregate leaves me wary. Someday, with enough self-work, I’ll get over it. Until then, the struggle is real.

Round The Maypole


May 1, 2022- I watched a video of a climate change activist being interviewed by a prominent social change agent, whom I have recently befriended online. The session itself was broadcast on Earth Day, and suffice it to say, I have been so largely occupied with the secondary effects of said climate change, over the past two weeks, that sitting down and listening to the very cogent observations of Peter Kalmus was something that stayed on the back burner until now.

Many of us might be tempted to treat Earth Day, May Day and other social change-themed events as we treat so many other public days: With a view towards entertainment. The people of western Europe had a practice of dancing first around a live tree, then around a secured branch that stood erect, in mid-Spring, which eventually became established as May 1. Because it was fertility-based and came to involve sexual activity, the practice was banned in Puritan communities, both in Europe and North America. The fertility aspect took a back seat, in many cases, to the hedonistic. May Day has more recently become a day for social activism, especially regarding labour issues. Earth Day retains its overall conservation focus, perhaps because there is a dichotomy, even among those living in comfort, between focusing on the well-being of the planet and letting loose in celebration.

While I hardly see harm in finding joy in life, including an element of service, to the planet and to humanity, in our observances will go a long way towards mitigating the damage already done. Performing an act of service each day is even better. There is plenty of time for both.

I am grateful to Marianne Williamson, with whom I have only recently become acquainted, for raising issues that strike at the core of our collective being. We are all in a process of growth, even if some do not consciously focus on it. We are all going around the same maypole.