Summer’s End

2

September 20, 2021- This has been a strange eight days. I chalk most of it up to the change of seasons, which often finds me out of sorts and seeing darkness where none is intended. That, in turn, leads to trusted friends drawing back a bit and my being in a somewhat isolated state, for a few days. Taking the hint, this year, it’s a time to take care of a few things that have gone neglected for a while, today, and be in nature tomorrow-the day of Equinox.

It didn’t help matters any, that a planned deployment with the Red Cross fell through-only because I didn’t make a second consecutive phone call to the dispatcher-when I was expecting a confirmation call from that individual. Funny, how the protocol from last year has changed. At any rate, given my emotional state, I would not have been on game and mistakes may have happened, that would not have served well. Things, no matter how confusing, happen for the general good.

Today begins a second series of September birthdays (Mom’s and my middle brother’s being the first set, earlier this month). This one starts with the birthday of someone with whom I have had scant contact, in this life, but an inexplicable bond from some other realm of existence. It includes the birthday of my sister and ends with the commemoration of Penny’s birthday, both next week.

Summer’s end caps a season that took in a second cross-country journey, saw some friendships start to fade, others generate and renewed my bonds with good-hearted people. It included a longer work project than I had planned, but the results were fairly successful. It is now time to look towards Autumn-the season of harvest, and of my own birth. It will bring me to southern California, for a few days next week; complete Red Cross training that I feel is needed, in early October; and make a journey to places in New Mexico that have longed called out. Fall will also bring a couple more sessions with the dermatology team and hopefully see my little family come out here for Thanksgiving. I may yet also go on deployment for a couple of weeks.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Dan Wilson, “Closing Time”

Now, for another song, from a master songwriter:

Four Courses of Love

2

September 12, 2021- A longtime friend, a few years my senior, has taken to posting photos of a newborn child, whom he has nicknamed after himself, her mother and a mutual friend of theirs, in hybrid fashion. He is clearly proud of the infant girl. My hope is that he can be there for her, through her teenage years, when the voice of a good man is as valuable to a young girl as is that of her mother. Without a parent, or parent-figure, of the opposite sex, a teenager is likely to drift emotionally. This takes nothing away from the efforts of those of the same sex as the youth, but it is an essential adjunct to those efforts.

There are several girls and young women whom I love as if they were my own daughters. I had the honour of working with two of them this evening, as Prescott Farmers’ Market put on its annual Farm-to-Table Dinner. I was a server, helped by two food runners and a busser. One of the ladies to whom I referred is the Executive Director of the Farmers’ Market, and can pretty much ask anything of me, in terms of service to the Market. The other is a tireless worker in the field of sustainability, and likewise devotes her energies to the Market’s success.

The dinner was served in four courses: Soup, salad, entree and dessert. Initially, each course was served by the designated team for two tables, with a total of seven crews. Four Chefs and a sous chef carefully and lovingly plated each course, and two complimentary courses for sponsoring VIPs. We on the serving crews brought each course to the patrons, with about twenty minutes between courses.

By the time the desserts were ready to be served, the Dinner was some minutes behind schedule. It was then that the teams combined and served all tables, allowing a half-hour for dessert, coffee, aperitifs and post-meal chitchat. It is never a good idea to jump out of one’s seat in a rush, though a few patrons did (“The dog is alone”; “I need to take my meds”; “It’s past my bedtime”). The high schoolers also had to leave. Those of us who stayed until the end continued the swarming behaviour, giving the dishwashing crew and the breakdown crew a boost, mindful that those teams of two have been stuck, in past years, when the high school age workers have had to leave, due to curfew. That is how I am used to volunteering-being one of the last to leave. No less really seems fair.

So went the second day of a most fruitful weekend. I am taking tomorrow “off”, focusing on training materials for a Blood Drive on Wednesday, but otherwise staying in a state of relaxation.

Thirty-Nine, and Counting

4

September 10, 2021- When I called Mom this afternoon, as it is her birthday, she asked me if I knew how old she was. Having seen a photo of the cake, on which the number 39 was placed, I answered appropriately. Her voice brightened further, and she said “Good boy! I can’t lie, though, I’m 93.”

She said her health is good, and I assured her mine is the same. She has made friends at her new residence, which I am sure accounts for her renewed good spirits, and good health. Having raised us to share, she will do the same with the yogurt-covered strawberries I sent with her flowers.

The best of parents convey life lessons, and she did plenty of that, over the years. Sharing was one of the first-and even my severely autistic youngest brother offered of his food and playthings to us siblings. Meanness was swiftly discouraged, and loving kindness instilled, in each of us. Loyalty and protection of one another has extended, over the years, to the next generations and to those around us. Responsibility has also been a binding expectation, and if one of us got self into difficulty, any money sent was to be paid back-either directly or to the next person who was in a bind.

Mom looks forward to the years ahead, and I applaud her for maintaining the same outlook on life that has gotten us where we need to be. I wish her many more.

Tribes and Such

2

September 6, 2021- Today being Labor Day in the U.S., many thoughts and expressions of thanks were offered to Frances Perkins, whose reaction to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, of March 25, 1911, metamorphized into the workplace safety movement of the 1930s-1970s. That it reached many of its goals is a grand social triumph, but it will never be something that can be set on a shelf. Human greed and self-centeredness can and will seep back into the consciousness of social policy, if we are not careful. Ms. Perkins was a genuine American hero and it would not be a bad thing at all, were her visage to grace one of the bills or coins of United States currency-perhaps even a bitcoin, if it becomes part of the American exchequer.

This afternoon, I visited my somewhat laid-up hiking buddy, who was injured last week and is now on extended hiatus from the trails. Our conversation turned the matter of another friend finding her tribe. HB remarked that my tribe was all over the place, which is true, essentially. I have detailed the names of friends, extended family and those I regard as angels. That some are on one end of the ideological spectrum and some on the other end, with most in between, does not trouble either my basically progressive stance on many matters or belief in the sanctity of all life.

Some tribal members are solely seen on Zoom, these days. Others hang out in downtown Prescott, or at Rafter Eleven, or at Synergy Cafe. Some live in western Arizona, northern Nevada, eastern Tennessee, northern Indiana or all along the three coasts. My heart family, as I’ve said repeatedly, is found in any number of places and I know I will find more of them, as time unfolds.

There will always be outliers, who can be accepted for who they are, as long as they don’t hurt others. One such was a young man, with a rather pleasant voice, who sang acapella on the edge of Courthouse Square, this afternoon. He sang “I love myself and I love you (to a few random passersby). I love my backscratcher (which he held up, for all to see).” Telling him he had earned A for effort, I placed a tip in his jar and walked further around the Square, taking in the Crafts Fair and the blessed mass of humanity who had gathered along the sidewalks. I don’t mind crowds. They are proof that our species is alive and thriving.

Many thanks to all who labour honestly, today and every day.

Sharing Popcorn With Chickens

2

September 5, 2021- As I enjoyed fresh popcorn, whilst sitting in the small outdoor shade area, the occasional dropped kernel was swiftly scooped up by one or another of the chickens that freely roamed the area.

One of the best things about visiting Dharma Farm is that I never know what the three high functioning kids, or their infant sister, will come up with, over the course of an afternoon and evening. The Farm is on the north end of the unincorporated, but populous, community of Paulden, being one of a dozen working farms that contribute to the food supply of western Yavapai County.

I first met the Schaelling-Pena family three years ago, during Convergence at Arcosanti, a pre-COVID annual gathering of some of the region’s brightest lights. While Convergence has pretty much gone by the wayside, my friendship with Landen and Holly, along with their small group of friends, has only strengthened over these few years. There were two little girls, when I first made the acquaintance of the family. Then came a little boy, two years ago, followed by Girl #3, five months ago.

The children are being raised forthrightly, and gently, by their parents. Logical consequences are part of the regimen, but guilt is NOT a tool that is being applied. They are shown how to properly handle daily tasks and are amazingly adept at things that many children have to wait until they are at least ten, before they are allowed to attempt.

I am fortunate to be one of those to whom the children have taken well, almost immediately. Of course, they take turns being effusive and reticent, as many children do-but they each know they are loved and that their feelings will be honoured and validated. I was showered with love in return, today, and the many garden vegetables and berries that were offered underscored that bond.

The chickens, and the three-legged dog, seem to sense this connection, also. Everything, within reason, is shared here.

How I Overcame Self-Absorption

2

August 27, 2021-

There was a time when I bumped into a clearly visible barrier pole, whilst backing my car out of a space, at Breakheart Reservation, in my hometown of Saugus. My head was so far into a matter of such earthshaking importance, that I can’t even vaguely recall what it was. I remember the fender bender, though, and the mildly amused twelve-year-old kid who chuckled at my ignorance.

Mom and Dad didn’t raise us to ignore our surroundings, and I caught more than a few rounds of indignation, when I turned too far inward. Gradually, in the wider world, the core of my being, which loved my family and those around us, took focus. Penny came into my life, and we helped each other break out of our respective shells. Students, clients, by the hundreds, became my focus and between wife and children, I realized that my life actually mattered far more than I had thought. Aram became our responsibility and made sure, in turn, that I didn’t lapse into my former bubble.

There was a long eleven years, in which my wife was my primary responsibility. In the end, son and his crew, Penny’s family and my brothers were our primary support group. The cackling crows who castigated me for using the adjective “my”, when I referred to Penny, offered absolutely nothing in the way of help-save their mealy-mouthed ideological puffery. There were also the masses, who went about their business, but at least didn’t get in my way.

On my own, I had choices to make, and slowly shed the residue of self-absorption, once again. A few women came to me, hoping that perhaps they would be the next Penny. It didn’t happen, and life took a far wider turn. I almost deluded myself into thinking that one or two others might be the next Penny. That didn’t happen, either, and life took a wider turn, still. There were three things that propelled me out of my bubble, altogether.

The first was dealing with five people who were/are so intensely self-absorbed, in their own right, that I was constantly wondering what, if any, place there was in the world for me, or any other good soul who was just trying to live a good life. Four of these five are gone from my world now, banned for constantly magnifying every single mistake I made, ignoring any good thing I did and yet clawing at me for attention. The fifth at least thanks me for what has already been done. I thank them, though, for making me aware of all the times I was the same towards others.

Secondly, I found myself largely responsible, for the well-being of over 80 people in a storm shelter, in Alexandria, Louisiana, late last summer, during the daylight hours of a Red Cross operation. That is when my work never stopped, until wiser heads pointed out that the opposite of self-absorption is not complete other-immersion. Then came a more balanced view, that both my personal needs and those of others had equal importance. I also realized that being too deeply in the business of other people robs them of dignity.

Third, the full acceptance of others as complete human beings, beyond their physical trappings and even their personalities, has come about from our collective dealing with COVID and all the climate change-based events that we have faced, and will continue to face, long after I myself have left this earthly life. It takes me three to five seconds to recognize that a woman has pleasing features, that a child is precious, that anyone has an engaging nature.

There are things that are about to happen in this life, that make such an emergence from self-absorption more essential than ever. I look forward to them all.

Blue Moon Spirit

4

August 21, 2021- I sat in my portable chair, facing the almost-full moon and its attendant-the planet Jupiter, in a quiet spot atop Sedona’s Airport Mesa. The airport itself was closed, as was Synergy Cafe (apparently a Delta thing)-and thus, the Mesa’s Vista Point, with its vortex energy, was a good place to draw in that bounty and to reflect on all that has been given me.

So, I wish to offer shout outs to all those who emanate those blessings: My son and daughter, Aram and Yunhee; my siblings, Dave, Glenn and Cheryl and their spouses Deb, Barbie and Steven; my heart siblings John Glaze, Judy Russell, Linda and Randy Smith, JoEllen Coney, Wes Hardin, Valerie and Mark Schroeder, Corina Luna Dea, Janet Waters, Lal Fernando, John and Tammy Lambert (brother and sister), Laureen McBradeigh and her husband Chuck, Akuura Kulak, Dawn Wasowicz, Carl and Marcia Brehmer, Molly Beverly, Michele Smith and Melissa Monahan; countless friends and well-wishers around the country and the world; my nieces and nephews, Matt, Nick, Marcy, Melanie, Kim, Curtis, Chris, Jeff, Rebecca, their spouses and their children; my sisters-in-law Wynne and Mindy. Then, there are my star family: Souls like Sierra, Kathleen, Christina, Pam, Joy, Elizabeth, Wendy, Ebbie, Haylee, Annie and Holly, whose presence radiates power and affirmation at a higher level. Each of you has made my life fuller, in just the conduct of your daily lives and I am honoured to know you.

My drive back from Sedona, this evening, was done in the glow of the vortical energy. I am supremely at peace right now.

Musical Double Eights

0

August 8, 2021- The three little girls methodically cleared all the pebbles from the piece of carpet on which they and their Nanny sat-and on which they wanted to show their tumbling skills. It was a fine bit of teamwork and an enjoyable sight for, as rudimentary as their forward and backward rolls, attempted somersaults and semi-cartwheels were-they showed a determination to build on their nimbleness.

I took in two somewhat different concerts, last night and this afternoon-in each case after a series of study sessions which took four hours. The faith-based discussions were necessary for our work to continue. The music was essential for the soul to want to keep on with this work. Melodious tunes, even vigourous Celtic and American folk tunes, help to focus the spirit, by soothing it. Brid Dower and the Big Fellas provided Gaelic reverie and lore, over two hours last night. It’s been awhile since I last heard live music at the Raven, and far longer since I heard anything Celtic, in a live setting. It was a blessed entry into 8 8 Lionsgate.

Today, after our study session finished, I napped-then went over to Becky Fest, a celebration of women in music, which I had attended for several years since moving to Prescott-except last year. There was plenty of room, and I brought my own chair, thus being able to find a nice shady spot, at which to listen to the vibrant ladies and a few male guitarists sing of all aspects of life-both joyful and full of pain. The little girls mentioned earlier were on the carpet in front of me and to the left of the stage area. One of them, I have known for three years, so it was especially important that I noticed every flip and flop. She was not hurt in the least, and it was a good backdrop to the pickin’ and singin’. ‘D’ was mainly concerned with one thing, in the end: When was I going to go up and visit her house again? That will depend on her ever-busy parents and their willingness to have visitors-nothing to do with COVID, they are highly intensive farmers and like to schedule any company.

Oh, to have a child’s simplicity again!

Firewalls

2

August 7, 2021- A firewall guards me, from mayhem both inside and out .

The above verse is a Lune, or “American haiku”. I have thought of several firewalls, which keep my once fearful self in safety.

There is the firewall of respect. It extends to all life, to the healthy relationships people have with one another, to the sanctity of marriage, of parent and child bonds, and to the right of human beings to make their own choices. It also extends to the hope that this respect will be a two-way street-that parents will respect their children, even those in the womb; that children respect their parents and grandparents-as well as one another; that people respect those whose opinions differ from their own, while measuring their own opinions, so that the resulting actions don’t hurt others.

There is the firewall of unconditional love. It, too, extends to all life, and starts with my unconditional love for self, as a child of the Creator. It does not mean I will give someone everything that is requested-especially if I can see that such giving will weaken either me, or the recipient, or both of us. It means that I love each person, where he/she is now. It means I care equally for the people around the beloved, as they are essential to the loved one’s well-being.

There is the firewall of logic and reason. It is dependent on rest, on proactive health and on inner peace, so that the mindfulness which brings it to the fore can flow untrammeled. Logic and reason allow for flexibility, for movement through changing circumstances. They allow for a climate of peace.

There is the firewall of obedience to natural law. It forewarns me of consequences for acting on untoward thoughts and makes me learn from my mistakes. It shows how to get through unexpected turns of events and how to plan for the next time a calamity may strike.

Firewalls have, all in all, kept me on track for what I must do in the short term, and how I might plan for further out. They also remind me that what I did wrongfully, in the past, simply present lessons, from which hopefully I will have learned.