Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

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June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.

The Harder the Resistance…

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June 13, 2022, Enid- I woke up nicely, in Gallup, though a bit groggy at first, after an interesting dream. In it, I was in a cabin, near what appears to be Badger Peak, just east of Prescott. There a Maine Coon cat which was my companion. I went outside to the outdoor shower, and when I came back, the kitty had been joined by a mountain lion, which paid me scant attention, as he was just sitting and looking out the window, much as a house cat might. I went out again and was hiking towards Prescott, on the Turley Trail. A rather large serval cat was following me, which was odd, as these cats are native to North Africa. Odder still, the serval was joined by others, who were led by a wolf, and they encircled me, closing in slowly but surely. Of a sudden, a growl and a crash through the brush produced the mountain lion, which first took out the wolf, biting him in the neck, then decimated several of the servals, causing the others to flee in panic. The dream ended with the lion, the Maine Coon and me, back in the cabin.

I had a nice, if long, drive to Enid today. It started with a delectable red chili burrito, one of the best I’ve ever had, in over thirty five years in the Southwest, at Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s Near West Side. From there, after I bumbled along Santa Fe Avenue for a bit, I was headed east on I-40. A few construction projects (part of the New Mexico Governor’s highway improvement initiative) met me here and there, through Tucumcari. There was also a small dust storm near Milan, in the Black Rock country around Grants. Otherwise, it was clear sailing, from Gallup through Tucumcari, and on up through the Texas Panhandle to Dalhart and over to Woodward, just west of here. I took lunch at a rest stop near Wagon Wheel, watching a little girl who appeared confused and a rather scruffy individual who was watching her as well. The girl made her way safely to her mother’s side and the other individual went back to his truck. My monitoring role remained just that.

Late in the evening, I arrived at the home of John Glaze, a longtime friend here in Enid. His new dog, a rescue blue healer named “Hugs”, let me know, really fast, that my welcome would have to be earned. After being discouraged from snarling, by John, a few treats from me and John’s cat jumping up on my lap for some petting, “Hugs” changed his tune.

This brings me to the title of this post. Whenever one tries to do something big, or novel, there is resistance-usually from the powers that be. Note that, after the resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency, in 1974, the lords of finance and industry struck back with a vengeance, leading to the price increases and stock market declines that were dubbed “stagflation” by Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, and which bedeviled the tenure of Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter. The Big Dogs got their wish, in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan.

I see the same thing happening now. Price increases, coupled with stock market declines-both seeming to be irreversible-except they aren’t. Even the Great Depression came to an end, because no one, no matter how self-important or greedy they are, individually or as a group, can destroy a society. The Big Dogs are doing nothing so much as shooting themselves in the feet, sowing the seeds of their own downfall, more than causing the permanent impoverishing of the common people.

I, and people like me, will continue to follow our hearts and do what we need to do. If most, or all, of our financial resources are stolen from us, we will generate new resources and keep on with what we are doing. I get this resolve from my maternal grandfather, who was told by the bankers, in the thick of the Great Depression, that they would soon own his house and his car. He never gave them either. My grandmother, and her fourth son, after she died, kept the house in the family name-until he died in 1994. His widow sold the house, of her own volition. It is still in private hands. The car was sold after Papa died, but only because Grandma never learned to drive. He taught his children: “Never give the puppet masters what they demand. God, alone, deserves our fealty.” That lesson was passed on to all of us grandkids.

Tomorrow, my journey will be relatively short- Enid to Sarcoxie, MO, where a paternal cousin and her family await.

Power, and Its Exercise

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June 6, 2022- Seventy-eight years ago, a huge force of Allied troops made landfall on Utah Beach, in Normandy and would go on to defeat those who used brute force, lies and deceit to hold onto power. Fifty-four years ago, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, possibly at the behest of those who treasured power above all else. Forty years ago, Penny and I took vows of marriage, with the promise of sharing the power that comes from mutual respect and love for one another, above all earthly considerations.

Of course, I still feel her presence, all day, every day. The spiritual connection, once made, never dissipates. She was behind me, from the moment I woke up, through my chores, and into an evening exercise session on Zoom, where I shared the significance of this day in my life. There was a time when I sensed we would have forty years together. We had twenty-nine, as husband and wife. We will have an eternity as helpmates, long after this life of mine has ended.

The power that we had came form transcending our two significant egos, and the egos of those around us, who sought to drive a wedge between us-largely because their own interpersonal experiences had been such a mess. We overcame a lot, the two of us, and I stayed her best friend, all through her decline and my facing down my own demons. We raised a fine son, who was my wingman, even in the midst of fighting battles of his own. In the end, it was he who made the right call, and let her transition in dignity.

Those who seek to take power by unsavory means may prevail for a time, but they will always fail, after a fashion. There is no power that lasts, without being shared.

Spirits Ever-Present

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June 5, 2022, Paulden- The four small children set the tone for the afternoon and evening, as they always do, when I visit their family home. Of course, adult conversations flowed, and went around the little rocks that sat firm in the stream of consciousness, acknowledging their presence, their concerns and their moods. Such is the way, at Dharma Farm.

My day began with a reading of the Sunday Arizona Republic, knowing that my involvement with the print edition of the newspaper will be coming to an end soon-my journeys, and the duties that will face me locally, will only accelerate in the days and months ahead.

Celebrating the Feast of Light-one of nineteen spiritual observances, during the year, that bring us Baha’is together in devotions, consultation and fellowship, was done in person, late in the morning and around Noon. We have been observing these occasions virtually, for nearly two years, give or take a couple of random in-person gatherings, during a perceived lull in the pandemic. The disease continues to hover, over our heads and in the background, infecting more people with mild cases. Outdoor gatherings, however, seem less problematic, and so it was, this morning, in the lovely back yard of some friends.

In the afternoon, I gathered surplus garden tools, relieving my storage shed of some of its excess, took along a bag of small gift items for the children and headed up the road to Dharma Farm. The Universe, it seems, lets us all know when our time for gathering is right. The family and their crew of four had spent the past two months sowing, planting trees and working on the restoration of Whispering Winds, Dharma’s predecessor in the Verde Valley, well east of here, whose core building and energy were transported to this sacred spot. One of WW’s principal residents came by for a visit today, as well, expressing gratitude that the essence of his former home was being preserved.

The day proceeded, as a couple worked with one of the children to put together a fabulous stew. The rest of us conversed, walked the grounds and took in the shade of afternoon. Each of the tools I brought will aid their efforts and the value of the coins will set the children on a journey to the independence-and interdependence, being imparted them by their parents. Watching and listening to the little people, I am comforted, reassured, by their gentle energy, wisdom and nascent collaborative skills. There is sharing, asking one another for permission and just a general acknowledgement of one another’s dignity. These are the gifts that come from their parents, and are reinforced by the crew members, who have bonded so well with the children. It was fitting that our after-dinner activity was putting together a jigsaw puzzle, selected by the three-year-old, with three teams working on sections. A mellow circle of conversation in the glow of sunset followed, topped off by a carefully-tended fire pit, that saw us into the night.

The spiritual energy of those who surround us, despite having left their bodies behind, guides days like this, indeed guides all days. For that, I am greatly reassured and comforted.

Surprise Treasury, and Tragedy

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June 3, 2022- The four boxes had sat in my bedroom closet, unopened for nearly four years. Once I cleaned out said closet, this afternoon, it was time to open the boxes and see just how much of a treasury of record was left behind by my father-in-law, with regard to his time as a Prisoner-of-War. The four boxes have a complete account of that harrowing time in his life and all the medals not included in a framed collage, which I also have.

These are all in a safe location and will be properly transferred to someone else in the family, at a later date. In the meantime, I will examine each box more carefully. This is probably the most precious historical collection which has ever been entrusted to me, and I’m honoured.

When Pops passed on, in 2014, he was accorded great honours-though due to a backlog at Arlington National Cemetery, it took several months to inter the man’s body. It was a grand and moving ceremony, despite that delay. It came on the heals of my visit to the sites of D-Day at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, in Bastogne and Metz, and Berga, where he was held prisoner. I will revisit these and other sites, in 2045, the centenary of the end of World War II.

The day ended with the discovery that one of my neighbours had died, alone and unnoticed for several days. I did not know him well, but was under the impression that he was being tended by “close friends”. He had told us, in the past, that he was doing “alright” and did not want to be disturbed. The circumstances of his passing underscore just how wrong the culture of anonymity is. We can’t very well impose ourselves on people, yet every soul deserves a full measure of dignity. I know enough about the man to know that he lived an honest life and worked hard as a cabinetmaker. May his peace be eternal.

Role Model

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May 30, 2022- It’s been little over eight years since Pops left us. My father-in-law, Norman D. Fellman, regarded his two sons-in-law as the boys he never had. I got a ton of advice, the greater part of it useful, and I can credit that advice for much of how our son has grown into manhood.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Norm was taken prisoner by the German Army, in December, 1944, in the southern sector of the Battle of the Bulge. He was held, until just before V-E Day, at Berga, a substation of Bergen-Belsen Prisoner-of-War and Concentration Camp, just southeast of Gera, Thuringia. He, and a few dozen other “undesirables” (Jews, Romani and Mexican-Americans) were assigned onerous tasks, day in and day out. His crew went to a salt mine. Norm and one of the Mexican-Americans would prank the Germans, constantly, putting glue in the salt and adding gravel underneath a three or four inch coating of salt. He never said where he got the glue; in fact, he rarely talked about his experience, until President Clinton lifted a lingering gag order that had stifled World War II veterans, since President Truman’s tenure.

There were many aspects of his personality and ways of doing things, from which I have drawn wisdom. He made me realize that I was not a substandard person, and that my rights were the same as anyone else’s, but that I had to stand up and expect them. It is because of Pops that I became quite forceful in standing up for Aram, and for summoning every bit of inner strength, to care for his daughter, my wife, in her years of decline. He knew, when I was being attacked by state bureaucrats, who told him that I was lax in her care, that this was bunk. (The upshot was that they wanted her to be placed in a state home, thus giving them access to her disability payments. This, of course, did not happen-and she lived out the rest of her days in an environment of HER choosing.)

Pops-and Mother- had the bounty of being well-tended by their youngest daughter, still one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, until their respective deaths in May, 2014 and October, 2018. That is the true beauty of a force of example: It redounds to the benefit of the role model, in one’s final days.

Rights and Obligations

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May 29, 2022- Every human right brings with it three levels of obligation: To self, to family and to community (both local and larger). This is just my opinion, for purposes of this blog post, but I’ve seen it play out, time and again. I have seen any person who demands a given right, without committing to a parallel responsibility, enter the realm of undeserved entitlement. Let us look at three rights that are encoded in the United States Constitution, in fact, the First, Second and Fourth Amendments, as cases in point.

The First Amendment provides several rights protections: to express ideas through speech and the press, to assemble or gather with a group to protest or for other reasons, and to ask the government to fix problems. It also protects the right to religious beliefs and practices. It prevents the government from creating or favoring a religion.

I maintain that the obligations inherent here are: 1. Duty to self, to be honest; 2. Duty to family, to speak with integrity and honour; 3. Duty to community, to give the same rights to others, even if their opinions are at variance with own.

The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms. This is specific to maintenance of a well-trained militia.

I maintain that the obligations inherent here are: 1. Duty to self, to own only such weapons as one can safely clean, maintain and store; 2. Duty to family, to keep weapons locked out of reach of those who are not of mature or sound mind; 3. Duty to community, to refrain from endangering the public.

The Fourth Amendment bars the government from unreasonable search and seizure of an individual or their private property.

I maintain that the obligations inherent here are: 1. Duty to self, to not own more of anything than one can safely and securely handle; 2. Duty to family, to not place them in danger, owing to possession of illicit substances or unsafe equipment, including rusted-out or broken-down cars that may be attractive nuisances for children; 3. Duty to community, to not engage in activities that generate public endangerment, or to make readily available, items that themselves create a danger to the public.

This is only one set of observations among many, but these are in keeping with how i was taught-to regard the needs of others, in tandem with my own.

Gratitude, After Facing the Strange

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May 28, 2022- The strange part came early this morning, before I awoke, In the dream, I was carrying my maternal grandmother around and showing her her old house, her daughters, including my mother, and one of her daughters-in-law. The last scene was of one of my paternal uncles, and two of his sons, arriving at the house, where another of my paternal uncles was fixing a meal for everyone.

Grandma died in 1960, but my memories of her have always been strong. All my maternal aunts, save one, have also passed on. All of my paternal uncles, save two, are gone, as are the two cousins in the scenario. All the uncles and aunts in the dream are among the departed. Mom is very much alive. I have a great deal more to do, over the next several years, and I don’t want to stick her with burying another child, so I am not putting a whole lot into the dream, other than maybe I need to keep their memories alive.

On this run-up to Memorial Day, I am focused on my gratitude. These include good health, good friends, a healthy and well-balanced family, a clear vision of things, and knowing that there are places across this continent and in at least two others, where I will ever be welcome. Prescott is a salubrious Home Base; I have a good, solid place to live and a well-built vehicle to get me places-especially after I tend to its needs, at the end of next week. I am grateful for the team that handles my finances. I am eternally grateful to the Team that guides my soul. My blessings include the children, animals and vegetation that enrich this life, the rocks and water that colour it and the music that ever flows, when my ears are open to its melodies.

Gratitude is king!

The Struggles of Good Men

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April 25, 2022- A co-worker spoke of her husband’s having to wrestle with the uptick in rental rates, and the pressure it puts on those who, like himself, have genuine compassion for their clients who risk being put out on the street. Large scale rental agencies try to do their tasks efficiently, yet are more susceptible to macroeconomics than are individual, or small-scale, landlords, who can choose to cut their own costs or at least negotiate trade-offs with their tenants.

Masculinity matters, just as much as femininity. It hardly needs to come across as ungainly or overbearing, any more than femininity need appear as flighty or sappy. Both forms of energy are needed, in their time and from the same persons, both male and female. My father was tough when he had to be, and the epitome of gentleness and kindness, when those were in order. The same is so with my mother.

Pairings of males and females are essential to society, and even gay couples take their essential relationship cues from their heterosexual fellows. Everyone has a forceful element and a nurturing element. To ignore either one is to hobble in imbalance. Although I am doing well on my own, a keen interest in the well-being of both male and female friends and family is a very basic core of my being.

Long may good men overcome their challenges.

The Whole Package

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April 23, 2022- The strong woman winced, just a bit, as she recounted the story of her husband’s struggles. A few minutes later, fortuitously, he called and said that he was finally feeling symptom-free. I felt relieved for both of them, as she did a bit of Happy Dance.

It has been a long and not always comfortable struggle, but I have reached the point in my journey of growth, that the turmoil faced by those of even casual acquaintance is of deep concern to me. Listening with genuine, not just passing, interest has become a daily occurrence-and it strikes me as being high time. Once upon a time, it was my job, and one I did quite well. Now, generating healing energy is a feature of daily life.

It is a relief to me, that the people dearest to my female friends are, without exception, my friends, too. Recognizing that a person’s whole circle is deserving of unequivocal support is actually energizing, not debilitating-as I used to tell myself. So, I look out for the husbands and significant others, as well as the children, of my nearest and dearest; listen intently when an interesting stranger opens up about topics that I have only considered in passing; and ponder decisions that are run by me, a lot more deeply than I did, even six months ago.

Part of this may be due to age. It may also be that knowing more keenly that we are all part of the same team has become de rigeur, not just a personal goal or buzzword. I am comforted by this thought, while preparing for a second night of supervising a fire shelter. Even in crisis, life is sweet.