Neptune Direct

2

November 28, 2020, Plano-

Seventy, as I expected, feels no different than sixty, or sixty-five. The day passed with a variety of activities: Joining a global Zoom gathering, hosted by a longtime friend from Phoenix; picking up another pair of dress casual shoes; munching on burger and fries for lunch and a delectable Pho (Vietnamese soup) and spring rolls for dinner; and exploring parts of Grapevine, TX (photos tomorrow), where Aram and Yunhee will live, come the end of January.

It has been a time of both taking stock of how things have changed, as I mentioned yesterday, and of projecting ahead. I have a sense of what I hope to accomplish in 2021 and beyond. Right now, I am focusing mostly on December, and being there for any children and youth who need me, between now and the Christmas/New Year’s Break. I had planned on taking three days off, to mark the fortieth anniversary of Penny and I having met. That would have taken me to a couple of places in New Mexico that are associated with our first encounter.

New Mexico, though, remains closed to people from most states, including Arizona and there are relatively few substitutes working with my employer, so I will be making myself available from December 1-18, straight through. With any interstate road trip over the holidays looking increasingly ludicrous, I will have plenty of time to check out places in other parts of Arizona, as well as relax with friends, during the Break.

Planet Neptune ends its retrograde, relative to Earth, tomorrow. This sort of event exhausts a lot of people, but generally focuses my attention more sharply and lets me sleep more deeply through the night. That will make it a lot easier both to give my attention where it is needed and to plan realistically for the weeks and months ahead.

Threading the Needle

2

November 24, 2020, Plano-

I set out, early this morning, for Phoenix, then by air to Dallas and on to this home away from home, just north of the Big D. My son and daughter-in-law live here, and it is the logical place to mark my coming seventieth birthday.

The flight, and its preceding and subsequent drives, went very smoothly. Although it was a full flight, I was masked from the time I left my car in Long-term Parking at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport until the time I got in Aram’s car at DFW-and I was seated with two young boys on the plane, thus encountering minimal risk (Yes, they, too, wore masks).

This trip flies in the face of the demands of many public health officials, that everyone stay home and meet virtually, over both Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is one caveat: I will be spending most of the next five days in this apartment. Travelers, like myself, have a responsibility to thread the needle of any departure from our primary homes in a very careful manner.

Thus, I am wearing filtered face masks, sanitizing my hands and keeping the prescribed six-foot distance in public places= as I have been doing since March. Thus, I am avoiding being in a ridiculously crowded indoor space. No, the airport was not so crowded that I could not maintain physical distance.

In a few short days, as indicated above, I will enter my eighth decade on this planet. I intend to continue most, if not all, of my acts of service and, when a modicum of success in counteracting Coronavirusdisease 2019 is reached, to resume planned travels, furhter afield.

For now, I am fotunate to be with my little family.

Limits

6

November 20, 2020-

I cut off all contact with an online magazine today, after about four months of reading sometimes disingenuous articles and abiding others that are perilously naive in their pronouncements.

Over these many years, some have told me that I have the patience of Job. This is largely true, when I am dealing with children or teenagers, and see that they are not hiding behind cunning or willful deceit. Some people just need what seems like forever to make changes. I know that it was true of me, so to penalize another soul for what I did wrong, seems worse than callow.

This was a day of turning aside from those who persist in deflecting attention from the legal maneuvers being conducted, relative to a recent election, by pointing to supposed crimes committed by someone who can barely get out of his own way. It was a day of leaving an online session which was degenerating into pointless argument. It was a day of me telling myself that I am going to limit my presence on Zoom still further, with only my promised hosted sessions, and a handful of others, keeping me tied to the chair, laptop and neck pillow. One could easily become a permanent resident of The Chair and Screen.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I have no time for the trivial and nitpicky-and even less use for those who are still harping about Barack Obama-or Ronald Reagan, for that matter. There are huge issues to be faced, which can ONLY be faced, and resolved, by a unified front. One would think that COVID-19 would have made that very clear, but no-it may take a whole lot more to bring the bickering fringes to a place of sensibility. When that happens, I’ll be hard at work on solutions-just give me a call, or even a Ping.

As for my critics, I have taken advice, from friend and foe alike, about cybersecurity-adding several passwords, facial recognition and two-step verification. I have some more work to do, in that regard. I am not, however, going to devote any attention to self-absorbed narcissists, nor do I care one iota about what Rudy Giuliani thinks that Hunter Biden did. Both are dysfunctional people, in need of help.

Keep the eyes front and center, people.

Progression

2

November 19, 2020- I went home, this morning-to Prescott High School, my last place of fulltime employment. It was only for a couple of hours, covering for a friend who was tending to his family dog’s illness. Those who were my friends and well-wishers, back in earlier times, were glad that I came back. Those who were among ill-wishers were silent; they had no say in the matter, anyway. I genuinely feel that I have a place in that facility.

Facilitating small groups of people, in their self-directed study of the German language, was a pleasant way to spend the morning. I even picked up a few words in the tongue of my maternal ancestors. It made a difference to a few of the starfish on the beach, so to speak.

Afterwards, I ran a couple of papers, which had errantly remained in my possession yesterday, over to Liberty School, then dropped in to check on friends, one of whom is recovering from a deadly disease (not COVID).

During this time, thoughts came through about the progression of my life, and the themes that defined each decade. The 1950s and’60s were formative years. The 1970s and 2000s were years of faltering in the face of challenges and of making a fair number of mistakes. The 1980s and 2010s were times of spiritual growth, of falling down-but getting back up, and treasuring novel experiences. The 1990s were mostly a time of stability, and of finally shedding residual rough edges.

The 2020s are shaping up to be years of staying calm in the storm. I can see that the current pandemic may well be only the tip of the iceberg, and that it is extremely crucial to stay focused on the spiritual solutions to problems-not getting caught up in the tides of the moment. I am looking, at long last, of seeing a time of fruitio, much like the ’90s, but with the difference that now, I genuinely believe in myself.

Refinement

4

November 16, 2020-

Today marks forty-four years since I took on a fulltime classroom teaching position. My work, during those first two years, was nothing for a brag book. While I worked with few resources, the stint could have been greatly refined.

I have gradually acquired teaching skills, over the years. Perhaps the biggest, and most recent, was the skill of stressing process over content. I credit technology, with its ready-made storehouse of facts and figures, for our ability to put the stress on building capacity for the Thinking Process.

I actually am finding it delightful, in my last months of teaching, to observe how individual learners go about acquiring knowledge and, more fascinatingly, solving problems. The online educational game, Kahoots!, is an exemplary tool for such observations, as students are encouraged to state how they arrived at a given answer. I have met the gamut of thinkers, from Scientific Wild-Ass Guessers to meticulously intuitive sifters of evidence.

I look forward to many more observations of human solution-finders, both before and after my retreat from full-time work.

Leaning In

2

November 15, 2020-

What had been planned as a two-day visit to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert was interrupted by work, at the end of last week. Yesterday’s visit to Homol’ovi State Park sufficed, in its place. I have about a month or so left, of being available five days a week for subbing. In the second semester, my officially retired self will cut back to 2-3 days a week, and then because there seem to be so few people willing to take on the work. I am not doing any long term travel anywhere, until this pandemic lightens up enough for people to not feel leery of visitors. Right now, there is a return to Stay-at-Home orders in most neighbouring states-at least for the next two weeks. Thankfully, I can at least fly in and out of Dallas, and visit my little family, next week.

This week, though, I will be maintaining at least three days of work. Today, though I might have lazed the time away, was actually no different. A pallet-dismantling project, the eventual goal of which will be a winter residence for a homeless man, brought about twelve of us together, in a mountain community, south of Prescott. So, for nearly three hours, I busied myself with moving planks and removing nails from those planks.

The most effective way to remove nails from a board is to lean into the effort, thus putting extra pressure on the claw part of the hammer. Using a small piece of wood, as a brace, also speeds things up greatly. Of course, if I were really efficient, I would go out and get a pneumatic nail remover. The exercise was good for my upper body and forearms, though.

Leaning into any endeavour, with attention and perseverance, is the only way to approach a task. I am getting better at this practice, in my late middle age, and certainly feel an increase in satisfaction at each day’s end.

Vigilance

2

November 11, 2020-

Today was Veteran’s Day. I was treated to a nice breakfast at Zeke’s, watched most of the downtown Parade, met for a while, on Zoom, with some friends in a spiritual discussion group and had a light dinner at Raven Cafe.

One of the qualities people most admire in our nation’s military is that they (we) have exercised vigilance, in the performance of our duties. I did, whilst serving in the United States Army, remain watchful in handling the mail, remained alert on guard duty and executed any other duties assigned, with loyalty and honour.

These commmitments translate, for most of us in civilian life, as integrity and trustworthiness. There are certain generalities that still matter greatly to me, and in which I will stay vigilant:

  1. Everyone’s vote should count. I see no evidence that this is not being honoured by those entrusted with the electoral process. I see no evidence that the party whose candidate is leading is circumventing the process-and vigilance will keep it that way.
  2. The rights of every citizen, from the time of physical conception to death by natural causes, should be defended by everyone of conscience. Reports are surfacing that at least one technocrat, who favours a national triage system for medical care, is part of the presidential transition team. His views should remain just that, his views. Widespread abortion and forced euthanasia are not the hallmarks of civilized society, and must never take the place of the rare instances when those practices may be viewed as necessary.
  3. The Constitution must be followed. On December 14, the Electoral College should certify the next president, according to final vote tallies. On January 20, 2021, the person certified as winner should take the oath of office as President, no matter who is upset by this or how many who voted for a losing candidate take umbrage. I have long taken my own pledge as a citizen very seriously. That will not change.

Heart of the Matter

4

November 3, 2020-

By one metric, my heart health is fairly good. By another, it needs a fair amount of attention. I am already moving away from a meat-happy diet, towards one that is more plant-based. That comes with the territory, and as I have left processed, fast foods behind, this is the logical next step. Very rare, anymore, are donuts and cake. Coffee is, generally, one cup in the morning.

Lavender and marjoram are looking to be a morning and evening application. More exercise is also in the mix-four days a week at PF. Fewer Zoom calls and more time outside- COVID or no COVID. I would wager that many people are losing ground in heart health, because of the pull of sedentary. Zoom is good for communicating with people far afield, but there was this wake-up call today, and I need to get on the stick.

Like Robert Frost, I have promises to keep and miles to go, before I sleep.

Every Bit Counts

4

October 19, 2020-

Today saw the celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. I put in a full day of work, as it was also the first day of in-person instruction in our county’s public schools. I’ve been asked to work this week, with a team of Title I Reading specialists, at Liberty Traditional School, Prescott Valley. Today and tomorrow, we are giving a diagnostic test to several students. The team also is helping kindergartners get used to locating their buses and communicating with their drivers, as to where they need to get off. I was dismayed to see that those children who didn’t know where their stop was, also had no address or phone number inside their backpacks. That was a given, when I was subbing in the Phoenix area, as well as in Prescott, in the 2000’s. Teachers and parents regularly made sure there was contact information in each child’s backpack or pinned to the inside of their sleeve.

After work, I picked up a delicious meal of Persian chicken and rice, prepared by some gracious friends, in honour of Baha’u’llah’s birthday. Persian rice, seasoned with saffron, and fortified with one or another type of beans, is a light and refreshing staple. I also had hosting duties for our community’s Zoom-base celebration, so we got together for devotional readings, a slide show of Baha’u’llah’s life, which I narrated and watched a video of Persian folk dancing-performed by a troupe of women, for an audience in India.

Every little bit counts.

Her eis that video, for your viewing and dancing pleasure!

Add One, Subtract the Other

6

October 18, 2020-

Today and tomorrow are the Twin Anniversaries, the celebrations of the births of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah. We are fairly relegated to Zoom for these celebrations, this year, but the observances are no less heartfelt.

As to the title of this post, a friend who has largely recaptured the vitality and stamina of her youth, through a certain product line’s offerings, has reminded me just how well the natural supplements work, in extending one’s well-being on this Earth.

I have made a lot of progress against some nagging health concerns that are left over from my caretaking duties and the long hours spent in less than sanitary conditions. I no longer am the drone that some hipsters in my former places of employment saw fit to disparage. I can see their point now, but I came by that low energy level honestly-and got rid of it just as legitimately.

Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade essential oil supplements have largely done the trick for me. When my financial house is just a bit more righted, I will add my friend’s product line to this regimen. Then there is wheatgrass, a major energizer and superfood in its own right, which another friend grows and which I already press for juice.

There is an old advertisement, in which an auto mechanic says: “Pay me now or pay me later.” I believe a lot of the concern that people have about the cost of health care could be obviated, if they gradually curb their reliance on reactive health care and add proactive practices.

Add one and subtract the other.