The Old Year’s New Friends

2

December 30, 2018, Prescott-

This fading year brought new people and places into my life, and filtered this life, quite vigourously.

My new friends, both online and in real time, have greatly enriched my life- being both sweet/warm and hot/ferocious.  One needs both in a balanced life.  I am blessed with a new daughter-in-law;  two wonderful branches of a blended family being brought into ours-courtesy of another family  wedding this past summer; a very bright and much-loved grandniece born in February; a smattering of vibrant, creative friends, from this year’s Convergence at Arcosanti; all manner of beloved souls from that site called “Archaeology for the Soul” and so many with whom I just happen to bond, in my wanderings both physical and ethereal.

I have filtered some- though I continue to feel great love for a place called Dharma Farm, prudence has led me to keep physical distance from there, for the time being.  A brief encounter with a distraught soul, this past Autumn, was also brought to an end, at her insistence, and no doubt with the blessing of the Universe.  I am more in tune with the needs of a good friend, here in Prescott.  Communication is everything!  I also dispensed with Twitter, though that means saying farewell to some friends who are only reachable on that medium.

This year brought some new cafes and restaurants into my life, here in town: Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Firehouse Coffee, Outlaw Donuts , Rosati’s Pizza and Danny B’s (actually in Chino Valley). I have lost none of my older faves here, save Black Dog Coffee,which bid us farewell in November.

New to me, on the road, this year, are Old Town Albuquerque; Moriarty (NM); Salina (UT); Sedalia (MO); Nauvoo and Carthage (IL); Ridgeview Grill ( Wilmette); Lafayette/West Lafayette/Prophetstown State Park’Tippecanoe and Mishawaka (IN); Ridgetown and London (ON); Toronto; Auberge Bishop, Chicha Donburi and La Pantere Verte (Montreal); Plattsburgh/Ausable Chasm (NY); Valley Forge; Alexander Inn and Independence Hall (Philadelphia);  Hostels International, Fort McHenry and Iron Rooster (Baltimore); the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay; Jamestown/Yorktown/ Virginia Beach/Newport News; Louis Gregory Baha’i Institute/Hemingway (SC); Hot Plate (Timmonsville,SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken); Calhoun Falls State Park /Edgefield (SC); Falls Park on the Reedy/Smoke On The Water (Greenville, SC); Walterboro (SC); Salisbury and Asheville (NC); Crossville (TN); Hostel Memphis/Young Avenue Deli/The National Museum of Civil Rights/Arcade Restaurant/Beale Street (Memphis); Old Town Alexandria. Each of these just added richness to this much blessed life and I would gladly visit any of them again.

NEXT:  Hails and Farewells

Interruptions

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDecember 29. 2018, Prescott-

I see my number of followers has declined, just a bit.

Ebb and flow don’t bother me.

I can’t please everyone, anyhow.

I had an urge to head up north,

to Dineh and Hopi country,

for a few days.

That will wait,

until snow and bitter cold

abate.

I found the trailhead

for the Great Western,

off to the side of

the marvelous Cherry Road.

The road itself leads to,

and through,

a small residential village,

with but a Bed & Breakfast,

to interrupt the flow

of privacy and quietude.

I will return to Great Western,

a few weeks hence,

once the cold abates a bit.

In the meantime,

milder climes will offer

their trails,

and we will see what

the Maricopa Trail

or Saguaro National Monument,

entails.

 

Not Superfluous

5

December 28, 2018, Prescott-

It’s bitter cold, by local standards, today, and will be into tomorrow. So, our Drum Circle was canceled, illnesses are raging, here and elsewhere across the country (I’m feeling fine, but many friends are in a shaky condition), and my focus today is largely on catching up with journaling and cataloguing my photos from summer, on Flickr (No, still not done with that task; other things have taken precedence.)

I have taken stock of my feelings, attitudes and views of people, and shed a fair amount of remaining baggage from long ago.  It collectively had as much use to me as my appendix (which is fine, by the way), so packing it up and shipping it to the ether, after last night’s conversation, was a great relief, actually.

What is useful to me, what is not superfluous, are my ties to people, my inherent love and wanting to do what can actually help them do better for themselves.   Just living, caring, accomplishing, experiencing and belonging-those are really what matters.  Judging, fearing, projecting-those are meaningless, in the long run.

So, there  isn’t much “new”, on this menseversary  of turning  68, but as I go off for a seafood dinner and an hour of exercise afterwards, I feel renewed by letting go of the lead ballast.

 

Cleaning Up Ashes

4

December 26, 2018, Prescott-

There is always a reckoning,

when one fails to heed the inner voice.

Christmas, 2018 will be remembered

as much for what I lost,

as for what I received.

There will be a reckoning,

sometime this week,

in one part of my life.

Then, I will go on,

though thankfully,

not without a job.

I may have one less friend,

and one less close relative,

in my life.

I will go on, though,

because there is no other way.

On the other hand,

I have a little family,

who  bring me joy,

and will continue,

for a good many years to come.

Prescott may not be the same.

after this week,

but I have my work,

my team,

and my students.

Family may not be the same,

in terms of its extension,

but I have my son,

my daughter-in-law,

and my siblings.

I have my Faith,

my co-worshipers

and my own determination,

to just be a better soul.

Impact

0

December 24, 2018, Phoenix-

One of the admittedly annoying aspects of e-mail is the constant barrage of “Double (Triple) Your Impact!” pitches for donations. So as not to be misunderstood, I like efficient use of funds and that which increases the likelihood that more people will be positively affected by the contribution is all the better.

A positive framework for the term is Impact Experience, a company that focuses on bridge building, in terms of a network between investors and communities at risk.  Founded by Jenna Nicholas, in 2015, this enterprise has worked in communities, regardless of local political culture-the main thrust being reworking the way people see local economies and potential for prosperity.  http://impact-experience-dev.squarespace.com/process/

The common attributes noted for a culture whose purpose is prosperity, rather than profit, are:

  • Distribution of wealth, by partnership, rather than by force.
  • Consultation as the primary communication model.
  • Employee development
  • Sustainability

This culture must undergo change, which occurs in the following stages:

  • Definition;
  • Communication;
  • Reinforcing education;
  • Integration;
  • Practice;
  • Reflection

Where things have fallen apart, in recent years, has been the lack of persistence, often from a skewed perception of the process of change.  One, or more, of the above steps have either been omitted or not properly completed.

As was said earlier, real change is messy.  People stumble, are embarrassed, get discouraged or cave in to pushback.  It helps to realize that few of those who question change are, in the real sense, reactionaries or “knuckle draggers”, just as few of those wanting drastic change are wild-eyed revolutionaries, or “bomb throwers”.

Change is messy, trust comes hard, but both are necessary, in order to bring about the economic justice, for which so many pine.  Listening, with both ears, and action, with all one’s attention and effort, are imperative.

The Heart of Wealth

4

December 22,2018, Phoenix-

I’m down here, during the day at least, for three days.  It is the 34th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference. This year’s theme is  “Advancing Human Welfare and Prosperity:  What is Your Role?”

I’ve long had a view of money, wherein it is to be invested, and used, in a heartfelt manner.  Time was, when that led me to spend on my friends and family, though often in a haphazard way, which led some in the family to actually think I didn’t care about THEM.

Marriage and an extended family changed my practices. The needs of the home, then of our child, became paramount.  We still traveled a lot, as a family, and once we returned to live in Arizona, after 5 + years in South Korea, there were eight years of living in scant rent, (but not decrepit), houses.

Phoenix changed that and, after five years of relative prosperity and of meeting our bills-came the trifecta- Penny’s health got worse, Madoff came and made off with certain of the extended family’s investments and the housing crunch killed our heretofore carefully planned mortgage.  The microphone dropped, in a very bad way.

Fast forward to 2018, and the next bad national scene.  This time, however, I am in a better place, financially and in many other respects.  My sole task is to make sure that I don’t become anyone else’s burden- so the resources are to be nurtured, not to be handed out to any and all comers.  Enough said about that.

I am in good hands, in terms of advisement and here is the greater deal:  Like water, soil and any other resource, money does not dissipate for eternity.  It goes places, and needs to be tracked and nurtured.    If water is not conserved and stored, in a loving manner, it will flow back into the soil, or evaporate into the cloud cover, or get polluted and be rendered useless.   If money is not conserved, and invested, in a loving manner, then it will go willy-nilly, into the pockets of the unwise, who will always want more, or into the hands of the unseemly, who will sneer at one’s foolishness.

Wealth that endures, comes from the heart.  I am being nurtured, financially, because I tended to the extended family’s needs, four years ago, and orchestrated the sale of property that needed to be sold, in a prudent manner.  The other factor, which some may find hard to understand, is that careful giving, in the years since I recovered financially, has stoked the energy of prosperity.  That, and being detached from  the day-to-day ups and downs, have made life a whole lot easier and more productive, thus-increasing potential wealth.

Finally, as the speakers in the first day of this conference noted, wealth is intended to generate the OVERALL prosperity of the human race. There is no point, in the long run, of having a small coterie pile up wealth that they cannot possibly use, whilst there are others in such destitution as to bring any caring observer to the knees.  This does not mean random, forced confiscation of “excess” wealth.  It does mean, however,that there be a drastic, and widespread change of heart, especially among the wealthiest .1 % of the world’s populace.

 

A War On Main Street?

2

December 20, 2018, Prescott-

Is there a war against Main Street?

I have read some commentaries to that effect.

The financial sector is headed towards a period of decline.

This always gets turned into “The Big Boys are out to get us,

and right in time for Christmas, yet!!”

It happened in 2008,

and many small investors lost a fair amount.

This largely was blamed on the Federal Reserve Bank,

and on fearful large investors,

who took their money and ran.

It happened in 1929,

and everyone got clobbered.

This one will likely last two or three years,

and so I will keep on working,

for two of those years,

and will largely behave,

as if I have nary a dime.

Behind the scenes,

many people,

including me,

will be working with people

smarter in these matters than I,

and safeguarding our portfolios.

Money is like water.

It seems to disappear,

but where does it actually go?

I will find out,

and get my foot in that door.

Money is like water.

It never really dissipates.

It just shifts form,

and changes locations.

This, too, shall pass.

Open your eyes,

Main Street,

and don’t worry

about the Big Dogs.

You can beat them,

at their own game.

 

 

Season’s Greetings

13

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.

 

Foreshadowing

11

December 17, 2018, Prescott-

This time of year always seems to feature a battle between those who just want to celebrate and share the good things in life, and those disquiet, greedy people, whose only satisfaction comes from depriving others of their possessions.

I’ve already spoken of the larger entities in our midst, and how they are robbing hard-working people, as we speak.  There are also scammers-among whom are those whose outstretched hands appear on our screens, wanting money for one questionable cause or another.

In 2011, while I was still reeling from my loss, someone got the drop on me and appealed to my sense of compassion, getting a small portion of my available funds,  This ended up inconveniencing a couple of family members, who ponied up what I needed.  I was glad to reimburse them, in relatively short order.

This sort of thing is damaging, both to my credibility and to my sense of fair play.  So, it is with the utmost caution that I am rejecting any requests for funds, without first doing uber diligence.  The season is rife with both deserving and rapacious people. 2011’s difficulties, still unpaid by the “borrower”, foreshadowed what could happen again, if that lesson had been lost on me.

It hasn’t been.

Back On Track

2

December 12,2018, Phoenix-

I got back in time to see the sun cast its brilliant hues, but being in the baggage claim area, with my camera in one of the bags- there are only the images left in my head.

The flight back was quotidian, with a curious, playful infant breaking the monotony, at the outset of our departure from Reagan National to Dallas.  That’s fine; I’ll take a captivating child, followed by crickets, any day of the week.

Dallas offered a hearty Italian sub, as my combined lunch and dinner.  I haven’t had a real Italian cold cut submarine, in about 30 years.  I was surprised that, with the line at neighbouring Chik-Fil_A spilling into the concourse, there were only three of us at Campisi’s, which holds its own-to this child of a largely Italian neighbourhood in the Northeast.

Dallas-Phoenix was also a full plane, yet I scored a second window seat in a row.  The middle seat went to the male half of a young couple, who were oblivious to anyone but one another, save for handing me my complementary coffee.  I got further into Ken Follett’s “Winter of the World”, on this return flight, so it was win-win.

The drive back looks to be uneventful, now that the rush hour traffic has abated on AZ 51, north of Bell Road.  I will take my usual Cave Creek Rd-Carefree Highway-7th Street-New River Road route to I-17, since AZ 101 is almost always in Crush Hour mode until nearly 7:30, on weeknights. Phoenix residents will know of which I speak.