The Hotel Project, Day Two

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September 26, 2020, Dallas-

Running with my sense that I am as worthy as anyone else, today passed with plenty of service activities, small victories over slight overreach on the part of some members of another agency and the departure of my sole detractor on yesterday’s team-thankfully, as just a normal turn of events, the end of the individual’s time on the project.

We also stood our ground against a person who was seeking to profit from the misery of others. This occasionally happens and the individual may keep trying, but the inclination is to keep on walking, when seeing my smiling face upon walking towards the entrance to the hall.

We still have hundreds of people who are in need of service and have sucured their places here, for as long as they need them. I remained at the Toy Table, and have started to bond with some of the children, who visit each day, to see if anything new has been donated, The items are not extravagant, but these children and families are grateful. A few items are not appropriated for most children, and have been set aside. This is not necessarily nefarious: I can remember when some toy manufacturer thought “Mystery Date” was a cute toy for 7-10-year-old girls. That lasted, maybe, a month or two.

I have stood firm on things like that, not going for anything that makes children feel that rushing their lives is in any way normal. We also want to remediate the stress that all family members are enduring. This may take the length of time our team is here, or it may take longer. Hopefully, the hurricane season has come to a de facto end.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 14: Equinox, 2020

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September 22, 2020-

The day of equal amounts of light and darkness has come just a tad later, this year. It’s just as well-too many things have been dumped on us, without warning, the first three seasons of this earthshaking year.

For me, autumn has ever been my favourite season, being the time of my birth. Gradual cooling and the vividness of colours have energized my being, after the increasingly extreme heat of summer, as much fun as the season just past brings with it. Bracing for the season of earth’s rest, that is winter, and the eventual promise of spring, makes “Fall” a most purposeful time, as well.

A few sprinkles fell, in our area, yesterday afternoon, as I was returning from a dental appointment, in Phoenix. My time in the Salt River Valley is limited, by choice, especially when temperatures remain in triple digits. Here in Prescott, we may expect temps in the 80s, until about mid-October. It may or may not rain, on any given day, though the National Weather Service rather lazily just pushes the button that says Sunny, as a default, most days. I imagine budget cuts and executive fiat may have something to do with that-as with the Post Office and FDA.

We all make choices, and as Penny would say-“You get all that comes with those choices.” She always made her own decisions, though asked what I thought, matter-of-factly, before doing so. Conversely, she expected me to do the same, and, after a previous life of bullheadedness and unilateral decisions, many not very well-made, I learned the wisdom of consultation.

I think of the above, as the inevitable debate about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and HER choices, ensues, this still being America. I disagreed, vehemently, with her take on abortion-though the role of men in that matter is largely one that ought to be performed LONG BEFORE any plug is pulled. Those men who raise their daughters, support their sisters and value their mothers, in the girls and women making their own INFORMED choices, are doing their jobs well. Those who downplay the intelligence and capabilities of the females among them, and pretend this is merely a man’s world, should not be surprised by anything at all that happens, as a result. Many, if not most, of the fetuses that have ended up aborted, (and whose souls no doubt greet those who aborted them, in the hereafter), would likely have either not been conceived in the first place, or would have been given an alternate path to life, had their mothers been raised in a place of love, empowerment and security.

The other real sticking point I had with RBG was her, take on “In God we trust”, which she saw as antiquated. I respectfully decline that observation. The Eternal cannot be so lightly dismissed, even in the name of free expression. In the end, though, “God hath no need of His creatures”; it’s very much the other way around.

Autumn plans? Well, I am spending today working with a Special Needs child. My Red Cross on-call status renews, tomorrow. During Fall Break, 10/12-16, I may go off on a sojourn, somewhere else in the West-and ditto for Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving/ 70th birthday weekend. In any case, days and nights will remain productive and largely other-centered. (More on that topic, tomorrow).

Fortnight of Transition, Day 13: The Fallacy of Convenience

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September 21, 2020-

A person who I have been helping to get an economic enterprise started recently sent a message, to the effect that he was sorry to inconvenience me as the message came while I was busy with something else.

He need not have been apologetic, as few people know with what activity I am engaged,at any given moment. So, it falls to me to explain myself a bit, to people of good will, that they not feel they are being intrusive.

Many of us have based our plans, our actions, our policies and our very communities on the concept of convenience. Many of the inventions that have come about, over the past 150 years, are designed to make life easier. To a great extent, that’s a good thing, in that people may have a shot at improved hygiene, more time to focus on the other people in their lives, and thus, enjoy a heightened quality of life.

Convenience as a goal for the few, however, rings hollow. The reason is, simply put, that the convenience enjoyed by one, or by a several, is not readily transferable to a sizable number of the Earth’s population-at least as yet. Those who are still making a gargantuan effort to rise up, out of a threadbare existence, cannot possibly understand why it is “necessary” for someone to own three, or six, homes. A person in Africa, just starting in life, may, with good reason, look askance at an older person in a prosperous community, who has no time for conversation-because he’s going out sailing or has to finish the fifth course of dinner.

What brings convenience to one, if it brings destitution or suffering to another, is a falsehood. I have said, in other places, that hunger and starvation, in this day and age, are largely failures of distribution. In Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a growing pecentage of the populace are well-fed, and the rulers include many who are obese. In Yemen, a fairly short distance from those two countries, a growing number of people are on the verge of starving to death. An effort at correcting the errors in distribution of food and medicine, rather than on punishing the people for their dubious leadership’s alliances with a perceived enemy, would go far towards saving the Yemenis, with their hollowed eyes and protruding rib cages. This state of affairs is mirrored in many places, large and small, across the globe.

The scene of the privileged, watching with blank expressions or annoyed at intrusions, while the suffering come into their filed of vision, calls out convenience for what it is- a falsehood, until the day when the hurt of one truly is internalized as the hurt of all.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 11: Hacked

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September 19, 2020, Sedona-

As I sat on a small couch, in Synergy Coffee and Tea House, on the west side of this fascinating, if rather insular, town, I learned that my Facebook account had been hacked. Someone whined, “This always happens to you!” (Actually, this it the first time it’s happened, since 2011.) Maybe the individual has me confused with someone else.

Hacking usually happens when someone who is bored or lonely gets a video on screen and “just has to share it with all their friends!” I found myself in an unguarded moment, not wanting to hurt Ms. Lonely Heart’s feelings, and clicked on something I normally would ignore. After changing my password, and answering about twenty-seven pings on Messenger, I have put the matter to rest-and will leave all the Lonely Hearts (male and female) to deal with their hackers in a similar manner.

Speaking of lonely hearts, I spent much of the late afternoon listening to a single mother unload her sorrow and anger at what she perceives as a community that dumps on single mothers-and parents of small children, in general. While she finds Flagstaff to be worse, in that regard, her disappointment in Sedona is palapable. When she left, I pondered this matter, whilst myself enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant, within walking distance of Synergy. I saw several families, out and about, along with a sizable crowd, of mostly people my age and older, conducting a vigil for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Moms and Dads were indulging their sons and daughters with cheeseburgers and fries, or with gelato treats. Families enjoying life together, as they do in any community.

The cry of the needy is very often not heard, in a society that styles itself “Busy, productive, acheivement-oriented”. I had a short, but spirited, conversation with a couple of 40-something developers, who were bemoaning how hard it was to make money building in this area. I pointed out that, without a guaranteed water supply, successful building is a chimera. They brushed that aside with the “Field of Dreams” mantra:
‘If we build it, they will come.’ Time will tell-though, as Groucho Marx once said, “You can get stucco! Oh, how you can get stuck-o.”

So, in the small hangout that features caffeinated drinks, hemp products and artisan chocolate/cacao treats, both sadness and testosterone-fueled hubris were in abundance, at different points during my visit. The overworked owner had broken free, for her own evening of relaxation, elsewhere. In her absence, a mostly male group of musicians gathered, and began playing around 10 p.m.

I’m all about balance, and peaceful energy, and so left the boisterous, insular group of men behind and prepared for a quiet, calm ride back to Prescott.

There was one other, curious aspect to this evening. An engaging forty-ish woman, in talking about circumstances, asked about my current status. I replied that I am old enough to be her father and that I am essentially just into establishing friendships with people. She honoured that, while saying that age means little-it’s the energy that matters.

I think that anyone can be as connected, or as lonely, as one chooses. It’s harder in some communities than in others, but time will tell.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 4: Legalese

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September 12, 2020-

Good things happened today. My middle brother turned 65, surrounded by the Georgia branch of his family. It was good to speak with him and to hear the vibrant voices of nephew, SIL and the little ones.

I am reaching an understanding with someone who thought I could be the brains behind his operation. There are legal points, like “Conflict of Interest” and Federal tax laws that would present problems for my being the Great White Hope. I think he gets it now.

“Cuties”, the well-intentioned, but misguided, film has run into a buzz-saw of valid criticism, for its reported perseverating on the physiques of pre-adolescent girls. I haven’t seen the film, nor will I-since Creeper Status is not something with which I identify, as well as the fact that my primary role with young people, male or female, is to encourage them to avoid being objectified and to follow dreams of their own choosing. Hopefully, there will arise a sense of propriety and like misguided projects before it, “Cuties” will disappear from the media.

Our Baha’i group had its tri-monthly consultative meeting and planned out the overall course of activities, over the next three months.

That brings me to the Red Cross-and that I was already asked when I could resume Disaster Response activities. A look at the map shows why-Fire to the left of us, Storms to the right-and I will be stuck in the middle, for at least another week, as I have personal business on the last day of summer and will focus on other matters here at Home Base, in the interim.

The Farmers Market is a bustling place, with a new venue. I was happy to visit there this morning, seeing some of my better friends, locally. Next weekend will bring me to Dharma Farm, in advance of Equinox, and the Weekend of Peace will see some events, both on Zoom and in the park across the street from me.

With that, let’s all take a deep breath, to the extent possible, in a climate of widespread smoke.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 3: Keeping the Door Ajar

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September 11, 2020-

Much, rightfully, has been said today about the attacks of 19 years ago, and how eerily similar things feel-as cities are continuing to feel the effects of discord and an entire region of the country is reeling from fire.

We, in northern Arizona, are seeing climatic effects of the fires to the west, as smoky air has kept temperatures down and those with breathing issues indoors. Stories of people struggling, of those who have lost loved ones and of others who have lost everything, keep multiplying. COVID is practically an afterthought, though it could burst through and cause additional mayhem, as it did during the ship fire in San Diego, earlier this summer.

Now, the Pacific Coast is seeing something unprecedented-an early fire season, with no indication that it can be brought to heel. People in the large cities are even on a fair alert. Those of us to the east must get ready, then, for an influx of refugees-much as we would if the great faults were to buckle, or the Cascades erupt in fury.

It’s not quite that bad, yet, but mental preparedness is best begun, weeks ahead of a potential mass evacuation. In the meantime, let us also direct our positive energy towards an end to the firestorm and form a plan for bringing our western neighbours to a safe haven.

I say this, having seen a minor version of chaos, when people fled the Louisiana coast, during Hurricane Laura, and safe havens became overwhelmed, within a few hours.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 2: Personal Responsibility

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September 10, 2020-

My mother turned 92 today. In our conversation this afternoon, she sounded well and had enjoyed a birthday lunch. She expressed pride in my having gone to help hurricane victims in Louisiana, a reflection of the stress she always placed on accepting responsibility and assisting the less fortunate.

I woke this morning, feeling a drag on my psyche. Knowing that one of the people, to whom I was alluding in the last post, would likely be the first to want my attention, I was slow to open my phone. Fortunately, I was able to hold the line on his accepting responsibility for his own success, while still offering help in a few areas that he could not have known how to handle . I must always try to be discerning.

Neither patronize, nor disparage. This is a tough row to hoe, as I’ve become quite used to doing things on my own and not wanting to have random people show up, wanting me to solve all their problems. At the same time, I have no problem pitching in to a group effort at dealing with social issues, dealing with an emergency that happens in my presence or doing a helpful activity that is scheduled. I guess it’s randomness that I find irritating.

This is also a heavy cosmic energy period. For the astrologically-inclined, seven planets are in retrograde, relative to Earth. This tends to throw us back, going over old ground. I have done well this year, at clearing out old, counterproductive habits and energies. There is still a bit left to tidy up, though, so maybe this retrograde season will help along those lines.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 97: Cramped, but Not Squished

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September 5, 2020, Phoenix-

America’s hottest (temperature-wise) metropolitan area welcomed me back, this evening-with an air temperature of 113F-at 8 p.m. This is just another reminder of why I left this city, nine years ago. It could, of course, be worse- I could always find myself, at some point, on the plains of northern India, in the Arabian Desert or in Baghdad. I will wait, though, and not be in any hurry along those lines. Thankfully, it was a short walk from the air-conditioned terminal to the air-conditioned van that will bring me back to Prescott (Air temperature, a balmy 81F).

The day started in Baton Rouge, with a relaxing morning and a lunch of left-over jambalaya and crawfish pie, from the delightful Rice & Roux. The business manager of Spring Hill Suites drove me over to the airport, as she has NO desk or transport staff, at the moment. Such is life, in the sneering face of COVID-19.

Baton Rouge Regional Airport is a small enterprise, and was rather languid, even somnolent in places. TSA, though, was alert, and I found that I had not been thorough enough, in sorting stuff out of my carry-on. A nearly-full bottle of water and some plastic cutlery bit the dust.

The puddle-jumper to Dallas-Fort Worth left on-time. With the two seats in front of us remaining empty, my young row mate got his own row-giving both of us some sorely-needed space. The other good thing was that the tiny plane was in the air for barely an hour.

A snack and a vitamin water, at DFW, sufficed before I boarded the somewhat larger plane to Phoenix. We were told that the plane would be “quite full”, leading a different young row mate to take her seat in the middle of the row, with me in the window seat. Fortunately, she was able to take the aisle seat. Given that there was a large backlog of planes waiting to take off, and the seat space is much smaller than I even remember from two years ago, I can’t imagine how it would have gone, had a third row mate shown up.

Two hours later, the still restless and anxious young lady, facing God-knows-what, in the hours and days ahead, was off the plane and out the terminal door like a shot. She said nothing, only glancing at my copy of “The New Jim Crow” and taking note of the title and author, then going back to availing herself of what little comfort the seat allowed. I felt nothing but empathy.

Another friend had suggested ditching the plane in Dallas, taking a train to OKC and from there, going to Flagstaff, via Amtrak. Two things- I flew on the Red Cross’s dime and there is no direct transport from Flagstaff to Prescott. The train is always an option for the future, but I do like the freedom offered by driving.

So, off we go, up to Prescott, and at least two weeks of respite from disaster response.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 96: Remembrance of Alexandria

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September 4, 2020, Baton Rouge-

Tommy sat on a concete ledge, taking in the goings on, around a downtown park. He said he’d been struggling, but was determined to get back up and keep on going. He noted the three frames of tile mosaic, in front of us, saying he found something new in each tile, everytime he looked at them. This, he noted, was the true beauty of art. He expressed appreciation for our Red Cross efforts on behalf of Rapides Parish- a sentiment shared by many around this mid-state community.

There was a brief two hours, on Wednesday, when I was let loose upon downtown Alexandria, to get in some walkabout time and check out a four block radius of the district. Alexandria is a rather utilitarian city, with few landmarks of note-but there is a small park, near City Hall, which also doubles as Parish House.

Here is sundial motif, designating the seat of Rapides Parish.
Alexandria Museum was closedm by the time I got downtown.

The following three frames are a triptych of tile mosaics, in City Hall Park.

Tile mosaic of marine life.
Tile Mosaic of land animals.
Tile Mosaic of more animals, and people wprking together.
Alexandria Towers
Weiss and Goldring water tower
Capsicum, in ground box.

As it was time to get back and resume my own work, I got back in the truck and drove around, through the south side, passing people out enjoying the evening air-seeming just glad to have their languid, but clear skied, days back, after the storm of August 26.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 91: Clarion Call

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August 30, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

Loud, unsettled people are entering the shelter.

The task is to remain calm, and centered,

with little personal time.

I am holding my own right now,

and finding a good spot for each

unique group

who settle in, at “my” shelter.

Things will be okay here,

in the long run.