Mean?

2

September 23, 2022-

The complaint was registered: Why are people so mean? The response was offered: What makes you call them such? The retort: No one gives me what I want!

I am glad to have been raised with a work ethic and to be able to hear “We owe you nothing!” , without sulking or arguing. The same people, after all, do reward me, handsomely, for doing the job that I was hired to do.

This makes it hard for me to identify with someone who does little or nothing, and finds people mean.

Looking Past the Shrillness

4

September 21, 2022- The call came, with about fifteen minutes left in the class. The tone was furious, and decidedly personal. It was clear that the caller felt let down and that in her mind, the rest of the day was about damage control. The students carried on, and did a fairly good job at completing the assigned task.

It was actually all about process, procedure-and will have scant effect on the learning of those particular students. I know little about the caller, so maybe other parts of her life were not going well today. It doesn’t take much to trigger a tirade, these days.

It was, all in all, a nice day. I was working with a group of children who I particularly treasure. The classes accomplished a lot, with the second and third groups following the procedure that was reiterated to me, albeit in angry tones. I choose to look past a person’s rage, because when it’s all over, we will both be standing in the same spot. So long as there is no harm to children, or other innocents, I walk away.

There will, I know, come a time, maybe as early as next Thursday, when I will face that person again. I will not be swayed, one way or the other, by anything she has to say. At this stage of my life, it’s all about the children and teens, and their progress, their well-being.

Sept. Ides Notes

2

September 15, 2022- The counter lady from the Window Glass repair shop called me, two hours after I had dropped KIA off, and deadpanned that the car was ready for pick-up. I walked over from downtown, and she gave me the keys, with a light smile and a neutral “Thanks for choosing us.” The place used to be a fun place with which to do business. Oh, well; at least the workmanship is still good. It’s nice to have a windshield that is whole again.

It was good that I decided to have breakfast at Raven Cafe, as my friend Melissa’s two daughters happened by, to get coffee. It’s always good to see them. Besides, the pancakes are great, and coffee excellent.

I made it to the Post 6 General Meeting, which I have not attended in some time. Nothing major was decided, but talking with a fellow Legionnaire about Baha’i was an unexpected pleasure. It affirmed what I said last night, during a Baha’i gathering, about not always making grandiose plans and expecting others to follow suit. The measure of Faith is in willingness to act, and in following the Will of the Divine.

I keep reading blurbs from mass media giants that tell us “You WILL vote ________________ in the coming election, because that’s how it’s always been.” Breaking news: I will vote the way I please, because THAT’S how I’ve always been.

I saw fit to shuffle a late October weekend event (Sedona) to early November, so as to attend a late October event somewhere else (Scottsdale). That, in turn, means Monument Valley/ Aneth (UT) shifts to mid-November. Thanksgiving plans are unaffected. I know you’re impressed, but that’s life.

Lastly, the huge file of keepsakes and old card/letters has been culled, and organized into more sensible sub-folders. The most important stuff remains here; the rest went to the Maxi-Shredder.

It’s been a fine day, all in all.

Depth of Purpose

2

September 14, 2022- The clerk happily told me that the school had managed to fill their remaining vacancies in Special Needs, so any time I am asked to help them, henceforth, will be to cover for a specific person, rather than a nebulous “vacancy”. This represents progress in both creating a nurturing learning environment-and a stable working environment as well.

I spent the day covering for several teachers, over a six hour period, as each attended a ten-twenty minute meeting. Each time, the lesson was carried out, even when a select few students wanted to spend time on their personal business. My focus, anymore, is primarily on purposeful behaviour and what will benefit the children in both the long-run and the short. So, while taking what time was needed to address behaviour issues, my focus was otherwise on the children who were having trouble learning, and explaining concepts to them in ways they could understand.

The notion has also occurred to me, over the past several days, that it is all well and good to feel love for so many people, but that it’s time to take it up a notch-and conduct my visits to, say, coffee houses and restaurants in ways that truly provide both support and encouragement of those for whom I care most, and recognizing that it’s best if I minimize occupying a table for four, especially on what looks to be a busy time. More take-outs will be in order. Nuance is coming increasingly into my view, which is both progress in handling autism and deepening of my sense of purpose.

Love is best shown by recognizing what the loved one needs, and doing what one can to fill that need. Most often, the matter requires both keen observation and forethought. I’m getting better at both.

Saving Grace

4

September 9, 2022- I woke this morning, after a vivid dream, in which I had overextended myself, while working in what was a mishmash of high school and university. My first hour class was a high level physics class, in which nearly thirty students submitted intensely detailed project synopses. As they left, I was organizing the submissions into a manageable stack, then realized that I needed to be across campus in short order, to conduct a physical education class, which had not met for two weeks-because I was too involved with the first hour. Surely, the P.E. students had given up on their wretch of an instructor. A visiting professor from Canada appeared and wondered aloud, as to why I had not delegated more to Teaching Assistants-“since that seems to be an American thing”.

It was then that I woke and realized that I had no such responsibilities, and was not going to let anyone down, today, and for the foreseeable future. My substituting tasks are pretty cut and dried, mostly at the upper elementary level, so there is scant chance that any such negligence will be my lot.

In other parts of my life, there is a nagging feeling that I have let people down, by not being where they seem to expect me to be. On the one hand, it is a fine thing to be needed, but on the other, I know that my obligations are primarily to the Creator, then to my own health and sanity, and to family, and only then to the outstretched hands. Someone I admire and respect has seemingly, and unfortunately, taken the brevity of my recent visit as a sign of disinterest on my part, and cut off contact. This is bound to happen, fairly regularly, as the world’s transition to a society at once more connected and yet composed more of self-reliant individuals, struggles to find the balance between those who are self-reliant and those who are needy.

The saving grace, as I was reminded by a dining companion at lunch today, is to recognize that not everyone’s demands of us have an inherent sense of urgency-even when histrionics are employed. My work in this community, and further afield, will stand on its own merits. This is the best that I, or anyone else, can offer.

Fresh Eyes and Heart

2

September 7, 2022- There is no better breakfast burrito, anywhere, than a Red from Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s near west side. At least, that has been my experience. I don’t like a BB filled with potatoes-starch upon starch, so there’s that factor. Glenn’s Red Burrito has bacon, red chili and scrambled eggs-nothing more, nothing less and there is a choice of spinach or pumpkin tortilla. I chose spinach. It had not long been out of the oven.

That was the start of the home stretch, of a brief journey of stellar upliftment. The Colorado East Baha’i Summer School was not a treasure trove of scholarly talk, which so many Baha’is my age seem to expect. It was a re-connection of souls, after nearly three years of all COVID, all the time-and its attendant Zoom/Microsoft Teams “gatherings”. It had a devotional focus and considerable attention to our Nine-Year Plan, which itself already seems to dovetail with the enormous changes we have seen, these past two years. Mostly, though, it was a joyous reunion of hearts- and I was glad to be a part of it. To have followed that with an evening of equally heartfelt spiritual connection, along the West Rim of Rio Grande Gorge set my heart afresh.

Then came Taos and the return along El Camino Real, always refreshing to the eyes. I return to places out of love for those whose spirits shine-and there are more of those, with each stop along the way. It is that way in Cortez, Santa Fe, Madrid (NM), Moriarty, Albuquerque’s Old Town, Gallup-and Winslow. A little place called Sip Shoppe, across from Standing On The Corner Park, has been my go-to place in Winslow, for a few years now. I was delighted to get into town, in time for an early lunch.

There was, however, a pall on the occasion, as I received word that one of my paternal aunts, whom I had visited in Maine, a few years ago, had passed on. After lunch, I walked over to Route 66 Park, which Winslow has established along the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. I wanted only peace and quiet, hoping to sit in the gazebo and pray. The spot was taken up by a disabled man, who seemed to be needing solitude of his own. After some further walking along the sidewalk that featured three or four verses of doggerel, I chose a north-facing bench, and engaged in my prayer and meditation.

Thinking further, about a friend who had done a marvelous series of posts on Winslow, a few months ago, I took a few shots of Route 66 Park, before heading back to the Sportage and driving the rest of the way to Home Base.

Classic VW Beetle, Route 66 Park, Winslow
Sculpture in honour of Indigenous peoples of the Winslow area
Ode to Hubbell Trading Post, about two hours northeast of Winslow

The towns and cities of the Southwest are particularly given to being seen with fresh eyes, each time one passes through.

The Future of Power

2

September 4, 2022, Colorado Springs- I had breakfast with a group of children, this morning. The topic of conversation (to which I was largely relegated to the role of listener) was the quality of schools and of those schools’ schedules. There was a fairly lively debate about the advantages of sacrificing an hour of sleeping-in, four days a week, for the joys of a Friday off. Siblings from a rural community, in southeast Colorado, have that reality. The rest, living in various communities along the Front Range, are attending schools with standard, M-F 8-3 regimens. Quietly, I empathize with the four-day week, though I would have to LIVE near the school that starts at 7 a.m., in order to work there-especially in winter. The children, ages 6-10, have definite expectations about what they want from their teachers-and recess is not their “favourite subject”.

Another aspect of child life these days is, as it has ever been, the angst of adults, especially of grandparents and their contemporaries, over “What will become of humanity?”, as they observe little boys fighting, throwing things from rocks to tantrums and being generally aggressive. “Where do they get that from?”, asked one grandmother, while fretting that the generation will become inherently violent in their own adulthood. The answer to the question is: We are, physically, animals, and thus have one part of ourselves that is territorial and defensive. The answer to the second fear is: It falls to us to nurture the rising generations, intervene, nonviolently, in the fracas and offer alternatives to trail by combat. It is going to take a long time to get past the genetic memory of spanking, a practice which I admit I used, albeit sparingly, in bygone days. Yes, adults who hit, with the best of intentions, sanction present and future hitting by their offspring. Thankfully, I saw only nonviolent firmness and loving care by parents, even when they thought no one was watching, these past three days. The toughest of men were as steel and velvet, and the women were, as ever, firm and gentle. The little boys will grow up, by and large, to emulate their fathers.

I am coming away from this gathering of Baha’is, and some of our friends from the wider community, with deep-seated hope. The emphasis here has been on cooperation and creativity, as well as the deepening of faith. The power invested in children, and the channeling of energy in a constructive direction, is being replicated in any number of communities, nationally and worldwide. It is this phenomenon which is actively competing with the acquiescence to the above-mentioned violence, and the use of electronic media as passive diversions, for the hearts and minds of young people. The children, based on what I heard this morning at breakfast, prefer the former.

Power thrives on encouragement and nurturing.

Staying Patient

2

August 26, 2022- I have a residual patience issue, with people who are abrupt, discounting and themselves impatient. What a vicious circle this could be!

This noon, as I was in the midst of lunch at a local diner, a man sat down and asked my opinion about an Asian restaurant he was considering visiting. In the ensuing exchange, every comment I made was challenged or discounted, until finally he caught himself and acknowledged that everyone is different. My simmering impatience was thus dissipated and the rest of the conversation went more smoothly.

Penny used to tell me that my greatest challenge was indeed staying patient, in the face of impatience. I spent many hours contemplating just how to understand such people. What was the source of their badgering and importunity? I observed a few such folks from a distance, and listened to their exchanges with others. It seems, like so many other annoying behaviours, and a few dangerous ones, to stem from insecurity.

“A child becomes what is lived.” “Hurt people hurt people”; “The hurried child can never relax.” Thus it is that a person who never knows what it feels like to be treated with kindness and patience passes their opposites on to those who are encountered.

I chose to break the cycle today, and it saved both of us a ton of grief.

Soaking Wet

2

August 24, 2022-

When walking with a fine new book in hand,

and the clouds decided to stop expanding,

I found myself the target of drops,

and there was place to conveniently stop.

Thankfully, it took but five minutes,

to get to the safety of Home Base,

and be free from lightning’s capricious gaze.

For the first time since 2008, I found myself caught in a downpour, though it didn’t get to full intensity until after I had managed to get inside. Then, to add to the drama, there was the spectacle of a recycling bin being carried along by a torrent of water, followed by a determined neighbour walking after it, despite the fact that the rain was pummeling him. Man and bin returned to their residence, just as the rain was tapering off- so I think he decided to stop under the overhang of the sports bar next door.

Friends across town later told me they had lost power, for about thirty minutes. We lost ours for a few seconds, just enough to require a couple of resets. This monsoon remains the most prolific so far this century-at least in our area, and that’s saying a lot, as I recall 2004, 05, 08 and 2010 as having served up some ferocious microbursts.

In other news, I finished my Spring & Summer reading: Gandhi, An Autobiography; The Four Agreements; Leonora in the Morning Light; The Maxwells of Montreal, Volume 1. Now come the Summer & Fall selections: John Adams; PrairyErth; Otherlands and Learn Well This Tablet. I have previously mentioned the first three listed above. “Maxwells” is an account of the initiators of the Baha’i community of Canada. I will read the second volume over the winter. “John Adams” is, of course, a biography of the second President of the United States, by the late David McCullough. “PrairyErth” is a detailed study of the topography, flora, fauna and communities of Chase County, Kansas, by William LeastHeat Moon. “Otherlands” is a scholarly exploration of Earth’s pre-human eras, from the inception of life through the Pleistocene, by Thomas Halliday. “Tablet” is a study of the Baha’i prayer, Tablet of Ahmad, by the late H. Richard Gurinsky, who I knew personally.

This weekend will hopefully take me back up to Dharma Farm, for some grounding time, before heading to Colorado in the middle of next week, for a few days. It would also be nice to get in a hike or two, visit Synergy and carry on with regular weekend morning activities. It’s been a fairly quiet and lovely month thus far, overall. September also promises to be lovely, but far from quiet.

No Limits

10

August 19, 2022- Four of us spent a couple of hours, this afternoon, going over the process of evaluating buildings as potential Red Cross shelters. Most of our area’s needs, in that regard, stem from wildfire; but there are times when floods and snowstorms create sheltering needs. Flagstaff, some ninety miles northeast of us, is experiencing flood emergencies, often several times a week, due to this year’s bountiful rains-which were preceded by harrowing fires. Prescott has had its share of both, in years past, as well.

I have been asked, by concerned friends and family, WHEN I will devote myself to full retirement. The answer probably lies in my health and clear-mindedness. When those fade, so will my activity. Until then, I enjoy the presence of children, helping out in the community and learning new skills-such as the above-mentioned logistics. So I will continue helping out in classrooms and working in the community, on a regular basis. Besides, now I have an auto loan to pay down.

The late Carmine Moschella, a fixture in the hometown of my youth for well over seventy years, was a prime example of working at something of benefit to self and others, nearly to the time of his death. So was A.C. Fellman, Penny’s paternal grandfather, inventor of the Fellman Boot, a staple of the U. S. Navy’s World War II maritime uniform. Countless others, many still living, have remained productive and in a learning mode, well into their 90s, if not into their second century.

Now I want to flip this post a bit, and give a shout out to all girls and young women who are taking up the study and practice of trades like aviation, carpentry, electricity, plumbing, welding and automotive mechanics. There is nothing that says a person with good eye-hand coordination, a keen attention span, and pride in work has to be limited in field of endeavour. If there are male nurses, flight attendants, fashion models and office workers, so there can, and should, be female tradespeople.

I once had the opportunity to foster a young woman’s interest in the building trades. It came down to spending money on renovating a house, in which she would be a key worker, or using the funds to help someone get surgery. I chose the latter, and as much good as that did for my friend, I have regrets at not having been able to help the lady get practical experience in several trades. Somehow, I sense that she has gone on, and done quite well in that regard.

Age and sex are not intended to be limits a human’s progress.