Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LI: Twisters and Turns

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July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH-   My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line.  I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.)  That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area.  Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least.  Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.

I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert.  It was the right move.  No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.

We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded.  The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone.  The night, after that, was peaceful.

Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.

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By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order.  There are two fine breakfast places in town.  I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes.  The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost.  The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice.  A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.

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Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard.  There are often one or two surprises, though.  Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.

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It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.

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Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio.  The spacious campus  now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.

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So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken.  I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself.  The highway did take me to two other appealing cities:  Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIV: The Great Basin Road

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July 5, 2017, Moab-  

(This is the first of several backdated posts from Road Trip 2017.  I will be in a place with spotty WiFi, over the next few days, and family time comes first, so this series will be slow in posting.)

It’s always tough to leave loved ones behind, but life must go on, and nowhere does it go on better than in America’s Outback.  The Great Basin is largely the bowl left by Lake Lahontan, and other large bodies of water, remnants of one huge sea, that once occupied our continent’s mid-section.  The present Lake Lahontan is quite impressive, actually, with the seasonal rains having been copious here, as elsewhere in the West, this past winter and spring.  I took about a half hour to visit the lovely giant.

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Much more was above water, this time last year.

I drove past the salt flats and noted they looked a bit browner than usually- another consequence of extra moisture.  At the foot of the Toiyabe Mountains, I came upon a forlorn looking man, whose jeep had just discharged a fair amount of water.  My jerry can took care of that aspect of the matter, in short order.  After, I followed him a short distance towards Austin, the nearest town, he told me to go on ahead, as the issue may have been the fuel pump, and he wanted to give it some rest.

It is a fair uphill, from the salt flats to Austin, so I informed the dispatcher, at Lander County’s office, of his issue.  After lunch, in Toiyabe Cafe, on Austin’s main drag, I noticed the town’s only flatbed tow truck was headed out, in his direction.  The ladies at the Cafe said the sheriff is most diligent about NOT letting stranded motorists wait too long.  That’s one of the fine things about people in remote areas:  Most everyone is a Good Samaritan.  T\

Toiyabe Cafe has some great eats, also.  Since my only beer is “near”, I guess I could wait.

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There’s no bush meat available, though, but who wants to eat a carnivore, anyway?

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I drove on and on, determined to make Utah’s sandstone country, by bedtime.  So, on past the Great Basin National Park, various other salt flats, the lovely towns of Eureka, Ely, Delta(UT), Salina and Green River, the Hyundai blazed.  Rooms in this bustling town were, of course GONE, by the time I pulled in, so a few miles down the road, in La Sal, I found a rest area/makeshift campground, guarded by this great sandstone:

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Since the people parked in the foreground made themselves at home, camp-style, I did likewise.  Things are relaxed (24-hour limit), in the Beehive State.

NEXT UP:  Wilson Arch, Bluff Fort and an errand accomplished.

Trust

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June 29, 2017, Prescott-

Today went much better for me.  A smaller shelter, and a more closely-knit crew, made a lot of difference.  Still, when a member of the “inner circle” showed up, at the end of my shift, I just wanted to get out of the building, as soon as possible.

I realize this is rather irrational, but emotions generally are.  There are relatively few people I fully trust- my son,  mother, siblings,  six or seven cousins, about a dozen friends here in the Prescott area and about fifteen other friends in various parts of the country.  I’m sure those numbers would be higher, were I to have more contact with family and friends, than I do at present.

It has nothing to do with my love for people, but rather, my perception of how they really feel about me.   This goes back to childhood, to my wandering nature and to not having really stuck with one core group of friends, growing up.    It also has to do with the somewhat anonymous culture of bigger towns and cities in the West, and of apartment living in general.  My neighbours, on either side, are rather suspicious of me, and say little, beyond a curt “hello”.  I carry on, with a friendly countenance, anyway.

In the end, we leave the world, alone; yet in the meantime, as people in small towns remind the rest of us, time and again, it is a far better idea to work up some trust.  There have been times when I have let others down, and I’ve tried to make amends.  Lord knows, I am working on my own trust issues, but it’s just not easy.

Those are my thoughts, at the end of a long day.

Clearing the Smoke

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June 28, 2017, Prescott- 

It is no secret that I have several issues with anyone whose priority in life is belittling ,and exercising a faux authority over, others.  Even when one’s position embues responsibility, and therefore a measure of authority, over others, I have always regarded that as a special bounty, not to be viewed as carte blanche.

I have had, as you may remember, some moments of difficulty with certain of my supervisors, at my places of employment, over the years.  These have usually derived from lack of communication, though sometimes the issue has been a superior’s hubris.

This extends to volunteer-based organizations.  There are supervisors, even in an organization such as the Red Cross, who rely on yelling, embarrassing the pro bono help working under them and acting as if such work were strictly a paid position.  These same people then whine, when there is a shortage of staff, for a particular errand of mercy.

People matter.  Volunteers matter, and so do the clients, who like children witnessing an imperious father’s browbeating of his spouse (or vice versa), formulate a sense of justice.  We are, currently, in our area, experiencing a particularly intense and stressful wildfire situation.  The vast majority of volunteers and paid staff for our organization are greatly dedicated to the well-being of our clients.  It behooves those few, for whom this organization represents a neurotic means to power, to step aside, and let those whose hearts are with the good of the people, to get their tasks accomplished, without being browbeaten or made the targets of rancour.

End of editorial.

Burning On

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June 26, 2017, Prescott-

This double haiku refers to the Goodwin Fire, now burning southeast of Prescott.  From 8 PM to 8AM(Tuesday), I will be manning the small shelter set up by the Red Cross, in the village of Spring Valley.

I would get packed,

then, I’d buy two tires

and head on out.

Mother Nature requests pause.

The fire down the road,

won’t be put out.

 

Longest, Hottest

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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.

The Time Necessary

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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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Thirty-fifth

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June 6, 2017, Prescott- 

So, on this day, thirty-five years ago, I made the wisest move I have ever made, and took the vow of matrimony.  A Baha’i marital vow is simple:  “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”  That divine will took the two of us to great heights:  Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places, in Haifa and Akko’, with side visits to  Holy Places of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee; various journeys of service around North America, to Guyana and to Taiwan; many years of work with children and youth, on the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Nations and perhaps, most consequentially, five and one-half years in Jeju, Korea, the birthplace of our son.  There were depths to be navigated, as well:  Penny’s debilitating disease, the worst effects of which were concurrent with the subprime mortgage crisis, the Madoff scandal and the “Great Recession”-each of which impacted us, directly or indirectly.  Standing by her side, until the end, was simply part and parcel of what my love called me to do.  Likewise, as I confronted my own demons, in the midst of all this, she supported me and her spirit has brought me through to the other side of the tunnel.

I am reminded of so much, this morning, after talking at length with our son, who, likewise, has stood by me, disagreeing with some family members, when they castigated what they saw as my irresponsibility and setting me straight, when he has seen the path veering off in an odd direction.  He’s been right, on both counts, showing that the one thing I have done right in this life has been to raise and guide an exemplary human being.  This morning, I looked at photos of Aram and his sweetheart, sensing that he continues to thrive and find his way along this marvelous, but often treacherous, road.

I have reached a minor crossroads, in my own life.  There is the option of staying the course, which would cause discomfort for my critics, as well as, initially, for me.  There is the option of moving to a more rustic part of Prescott, a place I visited yesterday, and find most salubrious.  There is the option of moving to a high desert community, close to the workplace of two of the most supportive souls I’ve ever known.  In each case, I know it’s time, as I’ve said repeatedly of late, to simplify, to downsize and to detach.

Thirty-five years after we took our vows, my love’s spirit urges me on.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXVIII: It’s Not Heat That Hurts

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June 1, 2017, Phoenix-

I came here to do two things.  First was to deliver a box of books and some food, to a loving, struggling young couple.  An entry error on WAZE  put me in central Phoenix, whilst their home was in a town several miles to the west.  A phone call, a corrected entry and some help from the staff of the apartment complex’s leasing office helped get the job done.  Husband is a mechanical innovator, and a true survivor.  Wife is a sweet lady, and works tirelessly, as well. I am glad to see how far they have come, as a unit.

My second task was easier:  Getting a document for my son.  Since that included stopping at Romanelli’s Deli, not far from his alma mater, I was in the best of graces.  A delectable sausage and peppers submarine sandwich and purified water set the rest of my afternoon on a good footing.  Promise to self:  Spinach and baby kale for dinner, tonight! The document was in hand, ten minutes after I filed my request, and the very professional Registrar gave me her business card, so that the process will be even more streamlined, still.

While tooling about my home city of ten years (2001-11), I felt a still aching pull on my spirit.  The area in which I spent most of my time was where most of the day-to-day heartache occurred, and the west side was where Penny spent her final days.  I know I have to root these feelings out, and not be shy about being in these parts of our blessed Home.  There are many good people in the Phoenix area, people who loved us, and were hurt that I moved away.  The pain, to me, comes from the anonymity of living in a large city, with so many people who came here to be anonymous.

Anonymity brings out the worst in many.  The mentality seems to be:  ” I don’t know anyone here, so why remember my manners?”  This mindset is hardly limited to Phoenix, or to the Southwest.  I’ve seen it elsewhere, wherever there are large numbers of “move-ins”. I tend to think of others, just because it gives meaning to my life.  I’d sooner let a headstrong, overwrought person have a small “victory”, or two, if it:  a) doesn’t cost me much, in terms of dignity and b) doesn’t give him/her a false sense of entitlement.  There are many things in one’s day which are best let happen, rather than having an equally entitled “arbiter” step in and unilaterally make things worse.  I trust in the conscience to kick into gear, more often than we give it credit for doing.

So, I feel pretty good about having come here, today, and it wasn’t all that hot outside.

 

 

 

May Beetles, June Bugs

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May 31, 2017, Prescott- 

This has been a grueling, yet vital, month.  In retrospect, though, the transition that has arisen as one of the options I must consider, over the summer, has been bubbling up from the magma flow, for quite some time.

I am likely to hang on to this apartment, for at least the rest of 2017, although rents in this area tend to command 60-70% of the fixed portion of one’s income, thus making it essential to be able to earn one’s keep, above and beyond government checks.  This is as true of “senior” apartments, as it is of the general housing stock.  The other factor is that the chief of our department will need some time to sort out who should work in what capacity.  Although this is hardly an employer’s job market, when it comes to the well-being of children, standards need to be maintained.  This, I understand and support, while being one who poses no threat to any child.

All the while, as I mentioned to an online friend, in a comment, this morning, I am continuously building a network of solid contacts, across the continent, and abroad, so that, even if I am relegated to staying in legitimate campgrounds, in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to hold my head up, engage in acts of service, and earn my way.  I had hoped that this would wait until I reached age seventy, but the Universe moves as it will, and we have to maintain some flexibility.

So, May ends, with me being halfway done with the task of clearing our overgrown back yard, and having been able to serve my Lord, in a few small ways.  June beckons, starting with taking care of an important errand in Phoenix, combined with a small act of service.  I will then complete the yard work; downsize my possessions; go to  Hopi land, for a weekend visit; go to southern California the weekend after, on another errand of service; and toward month’s end, take part in a Baha’i Summer School, at Bellemont, west of Flagstaff.

May slogged along, though not for naught.  June will blaze on out, and I hope to have some sense of accomplishment, when heading to Ventura, Santa Barbara, Carson City and cross country, after Bellemont.