Where We Go


May 20, 2023- I met a second cousin only once-long ago, at a family Christmas party. He could not have been more than three years old. Time passed, he became a grown man, most likely a father-and even more likely, did his level best at an honourable line of work. I can’t say for certain, because he died prematurely, a few days ago. His father, who survives him, has done his level best, in an honourable line of work, so there is a lot of hope in that regard.

I have no way to contact my cousin, but if that changes, I would say to him that. in addition to condolences, I know that he was a good parent, as was his wife. We can sense such things from a distance, even with people we never see or hear once separate paths have been taken. We can always tell, knowing even a small amount about struggles and triumphs, how a person’s life has gone, in general.

Today was spent preparing the grounds and buildings for a series of camps that will begin on June 2. The team that I will lead is to provide logistical support for those guiding groups of up to twenty youth or pre-teens. The guidance is not dogmatic, but is moral, ethical in tone. The young people, for the most part, come from disadvantaged families and neighbourhoods; yet they do have a capacity for learning discernment. It is that discernment that changes lives, communities-and even nations.

Where we go in life depends largely on the choices we make. Those choices only work to our advantage, if they are made with discernment, with information, with honest assessment. I am willing to bet that my departed second cousin lived well. God rest his soul.

Moms and Hearts


May 14, 2023, Sparks- The young girl was all expectation and delight, as she left for an afternoon of cooking and honouring a friend’s mother. Three hours later, the same child returned to her home, crestfallen, on the verge of tears. Her grandmother, who had hosted us for a lovely Sunday dinner and watch party, took her place by the girl’s side, on a couch. My friend and I left, with quiet wishes that all would be better for her soon.

Another child, cousin to the girl mentioned above, is expectantly planning to be in a play, later this summer. Her mother and grandmother are carefully arranging the participation of various friends in supporting her efforts-and she expressed the hope that I will be there, when the play is staged, in late July. The women will remind me, though that is not necessary, for a child I have long regarded as a grand niece.

A mother who joined a virtual meeting earlier today was philosophical about not being able to see her family, as both she and her husband are in the late stages of recovery from COVID, and are waiting for final clearance from their physician, before taking a chance on visiting any loved ones. Her poker face fooled no one. She is no doubt in constant communication with both children and grandchildren, and will give them all they need of love and attention, in a fairly short time.

Mother’s Day was born in 1870, with the mothers of those killed and maimed, from both sides in the Civil War, coming together to seek healing, both for themselves and for their families, in the wake of the most horrific conflict this nation has ever seen. While the second Sunday in May has now largely assumed a festive air, there is still the basic element of heart sharing, in the course of the day.

My own observation of Mother’s Day is muted, to outward semblance. Mom doesn’t answer her phone, so sending her greetings and a small gift is all that physically transpires. from my end. We have a strong spirit connection, though, so that when I do manage to connect with her, in conversation, she will happily let me know that she felt blessed today. She will also be able to tell, by the sound of my voice, how I am doing, on that day. It has always been thus, between us.

The love of a mother, and of a grandmother, is the bedrock for just about anyone’s functioning, through life’s ups and downs.

Rising, and Being Raised


May 13, 2023- The objections offered by the woman sitting in the next room, to the Disney versions of classical children’s stories, which her child, grandchildren-and yours truly were watching, were cogent and well-taken. A woman does not need a dashing man of means to swoop in and solve her problems. A human being does not need another, more “superior” human being to decide how life’s difficulties may be overcome.

Those problems and difficulties are best solved by the person facing them, though they are NOT always to be resolved by one soul, singly and alone. There are reasons why we have issues to overcome and there are reasons why we encounter the people we do, including the parents, children, siblings, friends and adversaries in our lives. Each person has something of value to impart, even if it comes in the form of a challenge or setback.

A couple of times today, I found myself admonishing the little boy in the house I was visiting-a place where I am regarded as a brother and as an uncle. His well-being, and that of his sister and cousins, is of great importance to me. So, I speak up, sharply when needed, and calmly the rest of the time. My lesson, though, was to remind myself that his understanding of life is limited-he’s only f our years of age, and controlling impulsivity is a work in progress. Still, keeping the little one safe from physical harm is a duty of every person older than he. Guiding him to not harm others is also a major concern.

There is a further consideration here. Each of us, in addition to (hopefully) raising the young people around us, is also raising self. Parents and nearby adults (again, hopefully) do the best they know how in raising us. The job is not complete, however, when one reaches the age of 18, 21 or 25. Most of the heavy lifting, from those milestones of maturity onward, falls to the individual soul. We can, many times, consult our elders on a continuing basis, but the final choice is our own.

I learn something new about my remaining challenges, both ongoing and novel, each and every day. How I deal with them, what I choose to do, is not on anyone else. I’ve never been Prince Charming, and have never known a Fairy Godmother, or a Sleeping Beauty. The joys and sorrows that have come from each of the friendships and familial ties I have known, though, are more than enough to inform what I need to do, going forward.

If I can offer the same to the children in my life, that is all that is needed.

Shifting Tides


May 7, 2023- My comments this morning were not glossed over, or dismissed, by the moderator. It seems that there is more of a rooted sense taking over the monthly discussion of Baha’u’llah’s early responses to a Sufi mystic, entitled “The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys”. There was a good deal less intellectual posturing than in previous sessions. My anecdotes did not fall on deaf ears, in any event.

Another sign that sentiments are moving more towards the center, and away from extremes, was our conversation, earlier this morning, at the Post 6 Breakfast. A random plaint about transgender people demanding their rights was brushed aside by the rest of the group, who are now more concerned about firearms safety than they were even two weeks ago. The plague of random gun attacks, by the very people who see their world crumbling, has begun to stir a sense of outrage among those conservatives on whom the White Supremacists are depending for support. Overkill, some it literal murder, tends to do that.

We humans, no matter what our individual politics are, trend towards sociability. Even self-styled introverts need affirmation from other people. We cherish our right to self-expression, and we honour our responsibilities towards family, community and the greater entities we call state and nation. Some of us even can see to honour responsibilities towards the planet as a whole, much as we would bristle at any ad hoc authority coming in and calling himself the Sovereign of Planet Earth. We want a say in who runs our affairs, and rightfully so.

Along those lines, I read, with alacrity, a piece by Phoenix-based columnist Greg Moore, cautioning about the advances in Artificial Intelligence. My take, in a nutshell, is that the singularity feared by Mr. Moore, and others-including the founder of Google, will only come to pass if mankind gives AI too many passes. I don’t install all that many applications on either my phone or my laptop. I don’t access Siri or any other “office assistant”, primarily because it’s so much more satisfying to look for information on my own. Artificial intelligence is, by definition, man-made, human-bestowed, and, as a friend who follows the advances in the field wryly observed this morning, is incapable of expressing emotion, having deep feelings, without a human being programming it so. Feelings are what impart strength and meaning to a decision.

The tides are shifting, in a good many areas, towards the expression of reason, combined with loving energy.



May 6, 2023- There was hardly a thought in my head, yesterday, about Cinco de Mayo. All energy was on the dried pine needles-raking them up and bagging them, at least around the perimeter of Bellemont Baha’i School’s kitchen and the old Green Cabin, which is a central gathering place for study, during the sessions that are held in June and July. Others will take up the task of raking and bagging, today, around the rest of the property-and we will be in Firewise mode.

My schedule, over the next 2.5 months, is in a fluid state right now. This morning was taken up with manning a booth at another Firewise event, this one in the village of Dewey, which is one half of the town of Dewey-Humboldt, northeast of Prescott Valley. Then, there was the breakdown of Prescott Farmer’s Market, a staple activity when I am in Home Base. This evening, a delightful duo played covers of hits from the 1960s to the 2010s-and nailed every one, at Rafter Eleven.

Checking my messages, I find that the schedule for the next 2.5 months is largely in a state of flux. Tomorrow will be a standard Sunday- Post 6 breakfast, Baha’i Zoom call and laundry getting done. Then, the carved-in-stone ends. Extended family will be here on Monday, and we will do whatever meets their interest. They will be off, exploring the southwest and southern California, thereafter-and aside from possibly joining them on Tuesday, my plans will find me elsewhere. The train to Los Angeles departs Flagstaff at 8:38 p.m., Wednesday night, and a northern California, Reno-Carson City, and Pacific Northwest journey of indeterminate length will be off and running.

The Bellemont camp manager duties, for which I cleared June and July, are in even more of a state of flux. The dates of each camp have shifted, three times, in the last two days. Discussions about cost, and the vagaries of weather, will affect the scheduling even further. I sense that the dust will settle soon, and there will be plenty to do down here, on days when I am not camp bound.

That brings me to thoughts of autumn. September will see another train trip, this time through the Midwest and Northeast, in time for Mom’s next milestone birthday. Back through the upper South and Texas will follow. Then, there is the still possible journey to Southeast Asia-dependent on a head’s up from the agency through which I sponsor a teenager in that part of the world. This, if it happens, will come in mid-October.

Fluidity is a given, in just about anyone’s life, and leads to more of joy and personal growth than anything else. Whatever transpires, I am sure it will be of interest to some. Stay tuned.

The Force and The Source


May 4, 2023- The silly, but catchy, memes that are based on a lisped pronunciation of the word force, and its association with the Star Wars series, have their 24 hours of overuse again this year. I caught some footage of “A New Hope” (Episode 4 of the nine-part main series of films), whilst exercising this afternoon. It all makes me think of the whole concept of power, and from where it comes.

There are, essentially, two views of how power is derived: Through individual initiative and effort; through collective action. In reality, both are necessary, for a full life and for a highly functioning society. Purists on either side tend to negate the effects of their stated views, as they end up getting trapped in the webs of their egos. Thus, the firebrand who wants to cut government to the quick ends up depriving the very free enterprise he wants to promote of the incentives to invest-as the investors are too worried about losing money to focus on much else. The ideologue who wishes death or dismemberment upon the family members of a conservative official ends up contradicting the notion of a peaceful, harmonious society that her cohorts are trying to promote.

All power, every force, comes from the Divine, the Source, the Creator, God, Bhagwan, Allah-whatever one wishes to call the One Who is both the Nameless and the Possessor of all names. From this Source, which has no beginning or end, comes everything we need to build up, or tear down. We do the former either out of love or out of ambition. We do the latter either out of anger/hate or out of recognition that a course correction is needed. The whole process, whatever form it takes, comes from free will-itself a product of the variety that presents itself to us, in a physical world.

I can stay in Home Base and enjoy the comfort of my residence or I can go on the road and visit family/friends, old and new. I can eat delicious ice cream, stuffed omelettes, pizza and such, putting on weight or I can content myself with a strict diet and watch my waistline get more in line, with a healthy regimen-so I have told myself. The truth is somewhere in between.

The same is true, in just about every area of this life. Baha’u’llah tells us: “It is incumbent upon them who are in authority to exercise moderation in all things. Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence.” We who are not in positions of authority do well to follow this, also.

With that, I will exercise moderation, and stop here. May the Force, and the Source, be with you!

Stitchless Again


May 2, 2023- At first, the receptionist thought she had to get permission from the dermatologist, in order to send me in to see the young man who was scheduled to remove the sutures, from my recent procedure. As no one was answering the phone on the other end, the PA’s supervisor came out to the lobby and verified that I was to see him, once the backlog of people who had arrived before me was seen. That did not take anywhere near the time it might have, and my five minutes of the PA’s time came, only 30 minutes behind schedule.

I had no other immediate appointments, so it was not trouble to spend several minutes watching those who were seeking condos by a beach, and a McMansion in Santa Fe, on HGTV. Once the stitches were out and a bandage applied, I dropped off some items at Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store, took care of one or two other errands and got the laundry done, after a fashion.

A miscommunication between me and another Baha’i friend led to my getting the time wrong, for a gathering on the 12th Day of Ridvan (today), so I got a few refreshments and helped clean up, catching up with a few friends I’d not seen for quite a while. Things can change on a dime, so I was not at all perturbed-at least I got to the tail-end of the gathering.

This evening brought me into the world of Turo, a car rental service that lets people deal with one another directly. That will be needed, when I get to Reno and am ready to head to Carson City, in about nine days. It will also come in handy, on other occasions. A cousin of mine used Turo, a while back, and was quite pleased with what amounts to the Air Bnb of car rentals. The lady from whom I’m renting a hybrid has good reviews from prior customers, so I feel good about the arrangement.

All in all, this was another good day. I have to double down on exercise, and be more patient with myself, and others, in dealing with situations in which people are hair-splitting, during certain Zoom sessions. The temptation to tune out is pretty strong, yet there are things that the hair-splitters have to say, which are rather important, in the midst of it all.

Sifting wheat from chaff is still a worthy exercise.

Their Melodious Voices


April 29, 2023- The five visitors from Tucson elevated our already high-level celebration of the Ninth Day of the Ridvan Festival, commemorating the day when Baha’u’llah proclaimed His Mission to His family and closest followers, whilst in the Ridvan Garden just north of Baghdad. This was on April 29, 1863. The family led us in two spiritual rounds, then were among the first to offer assistance, when a community member sent a texted appeal after her child was injured in an accident. Their presence alone was a confirmation of the Divine.

This was the first of two amazing musical events, the second being two hours and forty minutes of celestial bliss, courtesy of The Barn Swallows Band (so called, as to distinguish this ensemble of three woman and a man from the all-male group, The Barn Swallows.) The three-part harmony of the women, backed by their male bassist, has not failed to keep me, and their other two dozen or so followers, enthralled, in three appearances at Raven Cafe. They work as hard as I’ve seen any musicians work-taking turns in the lead, with their bandmates joining in vocally or instrumentally, in each and every song. Here, Aurelia sings lead, with Jessica backing vocally and May on banjo. Still have not caught the name of their silent bass player, whose melodies are nonetheless central to the effect of their harmonious vocals and instrumentation.

These ladies are among a multitude of young women who I would gladly claim as daughters, or nieces. (It seems, as the years go by, that Aram, Yunhee and my nieces and nephews are gaining more siblings by the minute-and that is just how my heart functions.) Their work ethic and compassion for others are what draw us in.

A local musician, Jonathan Best, aka Angiolus, led some intrepid dancers to the makeshift floor, after a brief negotiation with Raven’s management. It worked well. I was not, for once, among the dancers-these were ballroom quality steppers. It was from a cozy spot, just in front of the dance floor and stage, that three hours of reverie ensued. I could listen to these folks for more hours on end. They will be on a national tour, after the launch of their first album, on May 13. The schedule is posted on The Barn Swallows Band Facebook page. If they are in your area, I highly recommend a listen.

This special day has always produced something of great value.

Upticks and Resets


April 27, 2023- After leaving my car, for an oil & lube, I walked off towards our Gateway Mall, seeking breakfast. Usually, the walk takes me over to the east side of the mall, which takes about twenty minutes. Something told me that I would not have that long, this morning, so it was time to revisit Panera Bread, which I had not patronized for nearly three years, after I found the place filthy. Today, though, it was again the Panera I love-and a hearty bowl of oatmeal accompanied my morning coffee. That gives me three choices for a mall breakfast, the others being Wildflower Bakery and Third Shot Coffee House.

Needless to say, the call came from the Service Department, that Sportage was ready, just as I had finished my meal. Everything was in order, and I got advice as to where I could take a recall notice for proper servicing-though it’s nothing urgent. No resets were needed on the car.

With little to concern me, the rest of the day, it was time to re-order weight reduction products, from Thrive by Level and Herbalife, so that I can finish what started on February 6. The two lines compliment each other and combining them is what helped shed a healthy number of pounds-and inches around the middle. It’s time to up my game-and that includes exercise, so two or three routines will be part of any Planet Fitness visit, as it is for so many others.

This evening, after having enjoyed the company of fellow Baha’is at Spiritual Feast, refreshments came-in the form of pie a la mode. It was my first such indulgence, since early February-with the discretion of valor recommending that I take what was offered-and workout once back at Home Base. So, I enjoyed a scoop of Breyer’s Vanilla and a not-too-sweet slice of apple pie-and here I am now, halfway through a set of abdominal exercises. Resetting is a constant, but there are far worse things to face.

Reconnecting, in any case, is most often a delight.

Pushing Back On The Mud, Day Fifteen


April 16, 2023- Michael had over a hundred people to place in hotel rooms, so it took a while for my team mates and me, who were out-processing, to get our room in San Jose, in advance of our departure tomorrow. Michael got it done.

I spent the morning at the shelter, tying up loose ends, turning the reins over to my right-hand person and the car key over to another shelter worker, who will be there for several more days. After hugs and handshakes, I left a bit after noon, catching a ride to Red Cross Event Headquarters with one of my team mates who had other business there.

The ride was smooth, as was the immediate out-processing. I was thanked, profusely, by the headquarters staff, as well, and was treated to dinner by my second-level supervisor, who also gave me a lift to Holiday Inn, near Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. (I am very much gratified to see honour given to a Japanese-American patriot in this way, given the past treatment of his kindred,)

So, the mud will continue to be pushed back, the homes rebuilt and families will rebound. The Camarillo family will continue to arrange and sell fresh-cut flowers, their neighbours will go back to the fields and provide us with strawberries, artichokes and watermelon. Homes will be sturdier, in preparation for what might lie ahead. Governments will, hopefully, be more responsive and grant a listening ear to even the simplest of those who they serve.

Tasha, our server on Saturday evening, will keep on with her own recovery from the series of atmospheric rivers that have pummeled the wide area from Santa Cruz and Aptos to the north side of Salinas. She and many others will, God-willing, learn to smile again. I will go back to my Home Base of Prescott, and be of service to small children, in the latter part of this week and take part in Earth Day activities, next Saturday.