To My Newest Friend

7

August 12, 2017, Superior-

You approached me,

as one adult to another,

from the get-go, this afternoon.

I felt your need to let the music,

that is inside you,

be given voice and melody.

We talked of a way,

in which I might help,

in that regard,

and next Saturday,

I will bring that help.

You are strong,

brave,

honest.

One can never have

too many friends.

I’m glad to have you as one,

and honoured

that you’re letting me be one,

in return.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LV: Days of Past Perfect

2

July 13-15, 2017, Saugus-

As I awoke, each morning, bright and early, in my old bedroom, thoughts went back to various points in my life.

I recall the woods, in Lynnhurst, a neighbourhood of Saugus, where we lived before moving to my mother’s present home (62 years, she’s been in the same house).  I think of Russ, a year younger than me, who would walk everywhere with me- when we were three and four, respectively.

When we moved to the present home, I used to go over to one or another of the horse farms in our neighbourhood.  Old Pierre’s farm was north and Mr. Conrad’s, was south.  Both ended up subdivided, and became known as “the Projects”.  These were different from the housing projects in Lynn and Malden.  Saugus’s projects were made up of single family homes.  Red-lining was in full force, back then, and the only African-Americans I met were the cafeteria ladies, at the Junior High and the three or four classmates, in high school, who lived near the quarry, on the south side, near the Malden line.  Times have changed, and this town is  now far more diverse.

It’s also more crowded, with the town office and Board of Selectmen wanting more growth, still.  The roads really can’t handle the traffic, so I look for a hue and cry, for more infrastructure, before a whole lot more housing gets built.  People in power seem to learn more slowly than many- and sometimes, it’s too late.

Some things don’t change, though.  The Beach that runs from Swampscott to Nahanbeat, through a segment of Lynn, has been the primary place for us to cool off, for over a hundred years.  Of course, to park in most sections of the beach, one must pay a $10 day-use fee, far cheaper than in Connecticut, Florida or California.  Still, I found a free spot, so brother and I were able to just get out and walk, of a Saturday morning, from one bath house to another- a distance of 2 miles, round trip.  He’s legally blind, but far from crippled.

The views, even of low tide, bring the comforting memories of when my tide was high, and  young women were  my primary interest.

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This intriguing outcropping is Egg Rock, a favourite of  those in sailboats and kayaks.

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One of my main purposes, besides spending days with Mom, was to meet my youngest grand-nephew.  The blessed little family, with his Mommy, Daddy and two big sisters, lives in a large and comfortable home, about six miles or so from our family house.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou can guess who my nephew’s favourite character was, when he was small.

Saugus, like life, is not the same as it was, when I was the small one.  The house is much the same, though, and the area still has great restaurants, offering everything from signature seafood, through Italian, Chinese, and Mexican, to Brazilian.  We did Italian on Thursday, at a place called Victor’s- delectable food, in  slightly disorganized establishment.  Saturday lunch was at a nearby branch of the Boston-based Legal Seafood- good fare, though at prices reflective of the name and reputation.  The rest of  the time, we did the frugal thing and indulged ourselves with what was in the house.

This time, I feel thoroughly pampered though, and Mom feels blessed to be able to still spoil her oldest.  She did what she had to do, when I was growing up, so now-why not relax?  I would have the chance to pay her back a bit, just before leaving, on Monday.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVI: Tulsa Won My Trust

11

July 7, 2017, Joplin, MO- 

My son turned 29 today, and ended one banner year, with the promise of yet another. I rose early, in Santa Rosa, NM, and made it my goal to get to Amarillo, and the Blue Front Cafe, by lunch time.  The Time Zone differential always figures in, here, so when I call Wes, and tell him I’ll meet him for lunch, we both end up remembering, sooner or later, that 12 Noon means 1 PM.  So, once again, I miss Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole, for Amarillo’s Blue Front.

Wes had the place figured to be an oyster bar, and maybe that’s the new owner’s specialty, but the young lady who served us basically presented a lot of fare to which I’m accustomed. It is still good food, just not in as folksy an ambiance as under the previous ownership.  To a Texan, and to lesser an extent, an Arizonan, such tradition is everything.

After spinning a few yarns, and hearing some of Wes’s, I kept on, across the Llano Estacado.  Mailing my car payment, at the Post Office in Groom, TX, involved cruising around that handsome little town, just a bit.  Oklahoma, though, was not long in appearing in the foreground.

I had no pressing business, in the Sooner State, so essentially it was just  a series of pleasant memories that passed by, along with the towns:  Erick, Sayre, Elk City, Clinton, Weatherford, El Reno, Yukon and OKC.  There was no time to stop at the Memorial- maybe on the flip flop.  The Turnpike was what it always is, a quicker way to southwest Missouri and points further on.  As many of you know, it is divided into two segments, in northeast Oklahoma:  Before Tulsa and After Tulsa.  The erstwhile Oil Capital has not been high on my list, for several years, and all owing to my having witnessed a nasty tirade by a Greyhound Bus employee towards a fellow passenger, at the company’s terminal, in 1979.  That’s a lame excuse for a bad attitude, but it’s stayed in the back of my mind, ever since.  It was time to shed that perception.  I pulled off the highway, gassed up, admired a lovely woman-in a respectful manner and from a distance, and kept on with my drive to Joplin.   It was a ridiculous remedy, for a ridiculous grudge, but that’s all it took for Tulsa to win my trust.  One of these days, I will spend a day or two there, and better get to know the city of the Golden Hurricane.

I had planned on camping, in or near Joplin.  Cousin Lisa was tied up with 4-H, so I will try and catch her on the flip-flop, and besides, there was lightning flashing nearby, so I passed up the idea of setting up camp.  Tara Motel appeared, east of Joplin, as I was running out of energy, and options.  The place is a minimalist paradise, for the common man, who is just trying to catch about 120 winks.  That I was sure to do.  With no WiFi here, and Rerun Heaven in full swing, I read a bit and headed for dreamland.

NEXT UP:  Across Missouri and Illinois

Interdependence Day

12

July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Ever in Wonder

7

July 3, 2017, Carson City-

Along the path to Grama’s, I walked.

That path crossed a road,

and for crossing alone,

I felt a sting on my backside.

There are limits to what a three-year-old

can do, alone.

Along the path to the shopping center, I walked.

That path crossed several roads,

and for being alone,

I was briefly accosted,

by a couple of ruffians,

and almost struck by a wayward car,

that had jumped the curb.

There are challenges,

for a nine-year-old,

when walking, alone.

I sat in the airplane,

gazing out at the clouds,

and their patterns.

I was seeing for the first time, at their level.

The path through the skies,

held promise

and peril.

Many are the possibilities,

for an eighteen-year-old,

striking out, on his own.

Turning around,

in that crowded,

light-filled, noisy room,

I returned the gaze of one,

who had seen something in me,

that others overlooked.

My path was no longer

for me to walk in single file.

Life brings affirmations,

to a thirty-year-old,

who need not be alone.

Holding the little being

to the light,

I spoke words of welcome.

My line now continued,

for at least one more generation.

The Universe sang songs

of certitude,

to a new father,

listening, alone.

Father and son walked

from the car,

towards the hospice door,

and witnessed the wispy spiral

carrying dust and leaves skyward.

I touched her still-warm body,

and kissed her face,

with her eyes still open,

in seeming astonishment.

The path is ever-shaky,

for a sixty-year-old,

once again, alone.

Time and again, since then,

I have followed things through,

to completion,

having been roundly chastised,

by a well-meaning watchman,

for all those things,

I did not finish,

in times gone by.

The paths have been many,

and the rewards even greater:

Filbert Steps, Portlandia,

Space Needle, Stanley Park,

Wrangell, Mendenhall,

Mount Verstovia, Beuk-ai Temple,

Tuileries, Jeanne d’Arc’s Tower,

Mont St. Michel, Carnac,

Daily Gourmand, Old Bruges,

World Cup rally at the Bourse,

McAuliffe Square,

Luxembourg’s National Day,

the Dom of Frankfurt,

the Temple at Langenhain,

Waikiki, Iolani Palace.

The paths have seen me through,

to their ends:

Prescott Circle,

Black Canyon,

Granite Mountain,

and the Memorial to

its 19 Hotshots,

Bright Angel,

Spirit Tower.

The trails continue,

and the wonder,

at the limitless,

open to a sixty-six-year-old,

who  feels far from alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.C.

6

June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.

His Social Contract

11

June 22, 2017, Prescott- 

Dad left us, thirty-one years ago, today.  He sometimes told others, but not me, that he couldn’t quite figure me out, but that he was sure I’d end up okay.  I heard all this, from my less-reticent father-in-law, a few years after Dad had passed.

He did teach us all about the social contract.  His tenets were succinct:

  1.  Your word is bond.  The few times I caught Hell from him were mainly centered on not doing what I had promised.  I’ve made it a priority, as an adult, to keep my promises.
  2. Individual relationships are the cornerstone of all else.  His take was,  “What good is the ‘greater good’, if it’s based on everything bad?”  This was in reaction to both the left-wing excesses of the late 1960’s, and to the conservative backlash of the Nixon years.  Dad held court, each weekday evening before supper, in the screened front porch, during late spring, summer and early fall, while switching to his recliner, in the living room, during the colder months.  One or two men, either relatives, or guys from work, would show up and kibbitz, over a can of beer.
  3.  Women “did best” by tending to home and hearth; though he saw it as  good, that  Mom earned money of her own, by styling hair, in the kitchen.  She was a top flight cosmetologist and hair dresser, so it was a marvelous arrangement.  I also got to hear very interesting commentary, on a variety of topics, from the women who came for her services, whilst doing my homework or hand-writing my little “newspaper”.  He also forbade us from making messes or asking for clothes to be washed, on weekends.  His view was that Mom worked five days a week, on housework, and that was enough.  We learned, early on, to make our own beds, put our clothes away, carry anything that was on the stairs up to the appropriate room, and fix our own breakfasts and lunches. (I never did subscribe to the idea that a woman was best off staying home, but it was the reality, in the 1950’s, for many.)
  4.  A real man could party late into the night, (he seldom did), but would dutifully get up the next day and do a full day’s work.  I took that one to heart, even in my lowest days of drunken excess.  It was, to my mind, the best cure for a hangover, anyway.  Many a Saturday morning would find me out in the yard, making myself useful, after having come home a useless wretch.  He liked the first, as much as loathed the second.
  5. Don’t spend more than you take in.  He’d have been apoplectic, had he lived to see us go over the financial edge, in the 2000’s.  Then again, he’d have seen it coming, and raised his voice, well before we bought the house, while Penny was struggling with her health issues.  It would have been, “Stay the damned course!”.  He’d be happier with me now.  Some lessons are just that way.

Longest, Hottest

19

June 21, 2017, Prescott-

I tend to disregard the temperature, to an extent..

When we lived in Phoenix, I did what I needed to do,

indoors or out, even in summer.

It just was done in smaller increments.

Today, the solstice, was the longest day,

north of the Equator,

and the shortest day, to its south.

What was necessary, here, got done.

Stepping Stones has more cards,

stationery, an egg beater

and a couple of old, professional-type books.

Days for Girls has several more covers

for the washable products they offer

to disadvantaged girls and women.

I have more space,

in the dining area closet,

in the tall kitchen cupboards

and atop the refrigerator.

Solstice is also a time of accounting.

We friends talked, first of what is pure

and later, of what is really sweet,

in terms of deeds,

as opposed to silver-tongued promises.

Solstice is a time for gathering.

So, the neighbours are outside,

enjoying the coolness.

Solstice is a time for reflecting,

so, after a hearty day,

I am thinking,

how fortunate I am,

to have friends in

just about every community

I’ve ever visited.

Paper Erase

4

June 20, 2017, Prescott-

My last day of Spring was spent, hydrating, of course.

There was a meeting for Hope Fest, the annual spiritual event,

that this year precedes the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s birth,

by a week.

My main concern, otherwise, was clearing out the dining area closets.

These were filled with lots of stationery,

extra greeting cards, loose-leaf binders, paper clips,

and a couple of board games, which were once meant

to stimulate Penny’s interest, in the last year of her life.

She loved that I tried, but it was all too much.

I will keep the games, and one box of holiday cards,

but it will likely be to the Women’s and Children’s shelter,

with the rest, tomorrow.

My clean-up goes on.

One comment was about the minimalist garden.

We will soon see a minimalist apartment.

The Time Necessary

14

June 19, 2017, Cave Creek-

This morning, I read of Juneteenth, the delayed news of southern slave emancipation, and how it took two years, minimum, to reach Texas.

Shopping for water and ice, to help with a brief trip to Superior, I encountered the daughter of a friend, whom I have not visited in some time.  She was mildly cordial, the consequence, I’d say, of my lengthy physical absence, from their lives.  I feel the need to connect with them, at least for a few hours, before heading out of the area for nearly a month.

Driving to Sun Flour Market, for a brief visit with one of my closest soul connections, I was able to communicate all that was essential, in snippets of conversation, punctuated by intuitive insight, in ninety minutes, or so, around her busy management of the restaurant.  Like me, she gets the most accomplished, in a short time, through close attention to detail, while still being able to converse a bit- and put things together.  We can understand, and care deeply for, each other and for each other’s loved ones, with minimal talk.

Driving back to the Valley, I stopped at Local Jonny’s, to visit with  some of  my young angels.  They had today off, and were nowhere to be found.  A respite is always vital, if only for a day or two.

I need little of anyone’s time, or so I tell myself.  A new friend, whose acquaintance I made today, has a wealth of insight into the realm of the spirit.  I look forward to delving into her treasury of awareness,  and its connection to my Faith,in the days and months ahead.

There is time for me to finish downsizing; time to complete a set of cotton covers for the products of Days for Girls; time to help with any fire emergencies; time, always, for spiritual growth.  How much time will I have to devote to each?  It’ll depend on how much is necessary, to fully and lovingly attend to the task.  My lilies know this.

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