These Happened

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September 24, 2022- The little girl, no more than two, came up to me while I was sitting in my “director’s chair”, at the large music festival. She tried to climb on my lap, which, as I knew neither her nor her mother, I gently declined. Her mother came over and led her back to the spot where she was preparing the child’s stroller. With mother so occupied, the girl came right back, and tried again. This time, both mother and I explained that this was not something she should be doing. There was no yelling or finger-wagging, just gentle dissuasion. Conversely, while the mother said I should have ignored her daughter, that, too, is something one doesn’t do to a person who is experiencing so much, for the first time in her life. I feel that I have a duty before the Creator to lovingly assist other people, especially children, to the best of my ability.

Earlier today, a small group of us honoured a revered community leader and beekeeper, on the first anniversary of his passing. There was a man who embodied loving assistance to all he met. Even the bank manager, who oversaw his mortgage, was given instructions on what to do with his house-upon the occasion of said passage. Hopefully, those instructions were followed and the home sold to the certain type of family who would honour its feng shui. The bees themselves were carefully dispersed to various other apiaries, prior to GK’s passing.

I went from the memorial service to VortiFest, in Sedona, particularly to meet up with a friend I had not seen in 2 1/2 years and to possibly see other friends from the Synergy/Apotheca complex. The centerpiece, for me, of the music festival, was an appearance by Camille Sledge, the scion of Sister Sledge, and her band, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra. Camille, as it turned out, was off, touring with her mother and aunts, so PAO’s superbly talented instrumentalists managed a delightful and rousing 45 minutes of non-vocal ear candy, and got many of us, up and jumping around, much as they and Camille did, when I first heard them, four years ago.

That set was what brought about a brief encounter with a Sedona friend, that puzzles me, even as I write this. She greeted me, danced around for a bit, then spent the rest of the set alternately acting like she was scared to death of me and that I no longer existed. I will refrain from trying to explain that, other than I am aware of certain threats to her safety, from someone other than myself. He could have been around and have made his presence known to her. For a good part of the rest of the Festival, she was escorted by other men, including one of the security detail members, so who knows? For my part, I would not harm a hair of anyone’s head, much less a dearly loved friend of three years.

My newly re-connected friend served as a reality check on the whole matter, cautioning against personalizing the incident, in any way, shape or form. I followed her advice, knowing that forming a narrative, based on incomplete information, is worse than a fool’s errand. So, I headed homeward, ahead of the mass exodus that was sure to happen after the last set of the festival. Even having parked in a smaller lot, across the highway, I would have been stuck in the scrum of traffic, had I stayed to hear the last, excellent band.

Besides Afrobeat, there were two other fabulous bands that I did encounter: One was the festival founder’s group, simply named “Decker”. The other was a group called “G-Love”, which offered several peace-themed tunes, that were nonetheless rousing, and which had what seemed to be 2/3 of the audience standing and bouncing, in front of the stage. I chose to sit for most of that set, getting up mainly to take video of three friends who were wearing lighted costumes and were engaged in performance art. There was a third band, which performed well, but their vibe was a bit on the angry side. Turns out, they had a shortened set, due to some misunderstanding with the festival organizers. The final band, Arrested Development, a hip-hop group, also performed well, though I heard their offerings only as I walked back towards my vehicle.

So, that was Vorti-Fest, and my Saturday. This is also my 3000th post, on this platform. Goodness and ill abound in this life, and I do not hesitate to bring you both, in the right measure. My feelings right now are well-covered, if obliquely so, by Paul Simon’s “America”.

The Great Outdoor Soup Kitchen and A Pellet Gun Outburst

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September 18, 2022- The line at Courthouse Plaza snaked around to the south side of the Courthouse, and for nearly 3 1/2 hours, people came to purchase a fresh ceramic bowl, and fill it with one or two kinds of soup. The Empty Bowls Project is a worldwide effort to raise money for food security, at the local level. It began in 1990, with a ceramics teacher named John Hartom and his friend Lisa Blackburn, to provide a means to food security in their community in the Detroit area. The concept quickly spread across Michigan and Ohio, then spread across North America. It is now a yearly event in several countries. https://emptybowls.com/

I joined this year’s event, the first since 2019, as part of Slow Food-Prescott’s crew. About twenty people, including several Girl Scouts, prepared and served 10 gallons of piping hot Minestrone Soup, with potatoes instead of pasta. The crowd that attended seemed smaller than in 2018, when I last joined the effort, but there were more vendors this time, so maybe the line was just moving faster. I was one of three “ladlers”, along with a local naturalist and the chef herself. It was truly a joyful event, bringing all parts of the Prescott area community together.

We finished the cleanup, at the catering kitchen where the soup had been prepared and cooked, around 3 p.m. Chef was kind enough to give me a lift home, as I’d walked downtown to the event, but the kitchen was 2.5 miles from Home Base. As we approached the neighbourhood, we saw that my street was blocked off by several police cars. I got off at a parking lot near the neighbourhood and walked down the alley across from Home Base, passing four police cruisers, with several officers searching a connecting alley.

It turned out that they were seeking a disturbed individual who had been firing a pellet gun, at one point blowing the rear window out of a neighbour’s vehicle. He had taken off to the south end of the street, and it took the officers another hour or so to locate and subdue him. Fortunately, there were no human injuries.

It was surreal, to have found peace and camaraderie downtown, only to return to my normally sleepy neighbourhood and find such commotion. As I write this, the police and the perpetrator have left, with peace returning.

Keeping It Together

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March 17, 2020-

Hope all who wanted to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day, did so.  I was occupied with helping someone by giving him a safe space, for a day or so.  We ended up being among the relative few who enjoyed a meal at our local Texas Roadhouse.  That will be my last dine-in experience, for at least the next few months.  I will still use such take-out and delivery options as remain available,

There are lots of other changes.  My meetings with Baha’is, the Red Cross and Slow Food will be virtual.  My inchoate connection with Prescott College’s Sustainability Club will remain on hold, until some means are found to also connect online.  Work is suspended, though we may well be compensated, somehow.  Travel?  Only for family emergency, or to explore some of the Southwest’s wonders, in an unobtrusive manner.

I am approaching the end of my last physical Fast, ever.  Future Baha’i Fasts will find me praying for those who are abstaining, not eating or drinking in their presence and performing acts of service, as they present themselves.

I am finding that there are multiple requests for assistance, mostly emotional support, and that they come in clusters of two or three.  Thankfully, I have been able to meet the needs, with a minimum of difficulty.  My main job now is to keep myself together, physically and emotionally. With all that I’ve been given in this life, it has not been hard to do.

Stay focused, and be thankful for what is, and what will be again.

Soup’s On

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March 10, 2020-

The Nineteen-Day Fast has just passed its midpoint.  So, it’s a good time to look at what sustains this soul, in my last go-round with total abstinence from food and drink during daylight hours.

The key, at least this year, has been hot soup for breakfast.  It helped me knock out the cold that had lingered inside me, for nearly two weeks and has kept me hydrated during the daylight hours-along with two glasses of water before sunrise, and one at sunset.

There have been several soups that filled the bill.  Two were my own concoctions:  1. A beet soup, with the bulbs hitting the crock pot first, then taken out and sliced.  Next, the beet greens were cut up and added.  Sliced scallions came next, with oregano oil, chili powder and turmeric added to the water (no soup stock).  The mix simmered for four hours, and sustained me for five days.

2.  Last Saturday’s Slow Food Prescott potluck called for another soup. This one used fresh cut-up spinach,  a cup of bolete mushrooms, a cup of mixed lentils,  2 sliced dried sugar chilis, turmeric, a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt and cumin.  The soup was fairly well-received at the potluck and I had enough left over for two more dawn meals.

Since then, there have been a cream of mushroom soup (2 meals, from a vendor at Prescott Farmer’s Market, and a sliced carrot and quinoa soup, from Ms. Natural’s (1 meal).  The rest of the Fast will see more such delights, getting my day off to the right start.

Soup makes my winter sizzle!

Sustainable

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January 30, 2020-

I have long felt a connection with nature, in its deepest and purest forms.  This may be a matter of genetic memory.  The forest and the ocean have been places of comfort and affirmation, since I was a very young child.  That this connection should have been gradually extended to desert, prairie and alpine mountain is only a logical progression.

With such a tie to the natural world, connection with those who embrace an ethic of sustainable cultures, of various forms, also comes naturally.  I have been gradually moving away from “throwaway” living, since 1981. It has been a process fraught with fits and starts, but recycling-at least-has been ingrained in my life, for nearly that long.

This evening, I made good on a promise to myself and some members of the Baha’i community, and joined a small group at Prescott College:  The Sustainability Club.  I was the only person over 25, in that gathering-but found a genuine welcome. The group is finding its way, and plans a clean-up on Sunday, which I’ll join.  Other plans include improving the composting arrangement on the small campus, a clothing recycling effort and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, in mid-April.

My plan is to join the Sustainability Club’s efforts as often as possible, and to help them network with like-minded groups in the area, particularly Slow Food-Prescott and other environmental organizations.  There is much I can share with the youths and much that they have to impart to me, as well.  This semester, and next, will be a fine time for building a solid sustainable community.

And It Was….

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December 31, 2019-

It was a time of loss.

The decade took Penny, my wife of twenty-eight years and nine months, both her parents Norm and Ruth (“Bunny”), two of her aunts Averala and Helen (“Honey”), two of  her cousins, Tom and Jean, and a cousin-in-law, Richard.

It took my maternal uncles, Carl and James,  Carl’s two children-Keith and Carla, and our cousins Ronnie and Lorraine.

It did not spare my father’s side of the family, either, taking Uncle George, Aunt Adeline (“Sissy”) and her son Bob.

It brought several others to the Life Beyond, friends all:  Christie Serino, Drew Crotty, Larry Silipigni, Alan and Rick Belyea, from my hometown of Saugus, MA;  Alison Sipes, from Indiana; Mildred “Mildoo” Forney, who, along with her daughter, made my visits to Oley, PA an annual pleasure; my American Legion comrades Bob Wittmann, Dennis Young, John Mortimer, Sue Chambers, Al Tercero-among several;  a host of Baha’i  fellows- Ali and Violette Nakhjavani, Nancy Coker, John Cook, Firuz Khazemzadeh, Avid Navidi, Dick Sloman, Moses Nakai, Russ Garcia, Chester Kahn, Roy Dewa, Tom Smith, Keith John Manybeads.

 It was a time of change.

It saw me get out of town, leaving Phoenix, after ten years.  Prescott, once more, became Home Base.

It saw our son, Aram, follow in the footsteps of many of his forebears, on both sides of the family and enter the service of his country, serving in the United States Navy, for nine years.

It saw him enter into matrimony.  Having returned to Korea, the land of his birth, as part of his service, Aram met and married Yunhee, a superlative addition to our family.

It saw us honour two of my nieces, who preceded him down the aisle, also bringing spouses who add luster to the Boivin brood.

It was a time of growth.

It brought in fourteen new members of my Grandniece/nephew Club and some new additions to my Greater Tribe.

There were a couple of good years, working full time, at Prescott High School, and several others spent substitute teaching.

The decade brought me the joy of giving back- with the American Red Cross, Slow Food, school garden projects, and the Farmers’ Market, as well as American Legion Post 6 and the Baha’i community.  It has brought me many new friends, members of my Tribe, who consistently make this life a thing of beauty.

Then, there were those journeys- annually to see family, on the East Coast, in the South and in the Midwest, which is never “Flyover Country” to me; my first solo visit to Europe, partly on my father-in-law’s behalf and partly because  I wanted to connect with the lands of my ancestors;  I returned to Korea, to  fully embrace my son’s wedding and to recap our life in Jeju; Hawaii welcomed me, in advance of the Tiger Cruise from Honolulu to San Diego, as Aram & crew returned from a Pacific Rim deployment; I fulfilled some of the dreams I shared with Penny, and explored the Pacific Northwest, a bit of British Columbia; southeast Alaska and eastern Canada; California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado were constantly seeing my face-largely to spend time with far-flung members of my Tribe.  Shorter, but no less meaningful, jaunts around Arizona, Utah and New Mexico filled in the blanks.

Now, the sun has risen on a new decade, for much of the world and the year, which once loomed as a pinnacle in my life, has a remaining shelf life of nine hours, here in the Mountain Standard Time Zone.

This decade of joy, sorrow, gain, loss, advances and setbacks will soon give way to another, likely much more of each.  Happy 2020, one and all!

A Pre-Trip Trifecta

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November 10, 2019-

The past three days have featured a  wondrous series of memorable events, here in Home Base.  The first of these will long stay with me:  The wedding of one of my best friends’  youngest daughter.  I have already paid homage to this wonderful young lady, who will continue to show the world just how much can be accomplished by knowing that one is able to achieve, and that one has the unconditional support of one parent, who is, in turn, greatly loved by family and friends.  L has been very dear to my own heart, for several years now, and will remain so.

Saturday evening, I headed over to a planning meeting of Slow Food Prescott, that was to be preceded by a vegetarian potluck.  It turned out, I was told the wrong time of the event’s beginning, so as I entered, the planning was in mid-session and there was enough food for one other late-comer and me.  We got the gist of the planning, and enjoyed a pleasing meal.

Today, before setting out for a few days in southern California, I attended a memorial service for a restaurateur who had established, and built up, three restaurants here in Prescott, as well as two pizzerias in the Palm Springs area.  His widow, child and successors in business were all in attendance.  Many had delightful stories, and though I never met him in life, I feel like I know his goodness, based on my satisfying experiences in his restaurants here in Prescott. The name “Bill’s” in front of an eatery’s name has come to signify quality. I promised to stop by at least one of his namesake pizzerias, on my way back from the coast.

Thus, a busy and very crucial sets of events set the tone for my mini-break in “SoCal”.

NEXT:  A Veteran’s Day with No Parade

These Changes Keep On

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August 12, 2019-

I rose and shined, this morning, to crickets from the Sub Service (it’s only the second week of school) and a notion that it was time to simplify further.  After a laid back morning, I took more magazines and unsolicited 2020 calendars to the Veteran’s Hospital, got rid of some red t-shirts and parted with an old swivel office chair, two mismatched crutches-and my microwave oven.

It’s time for this supporter of Slow Food Prescott to put my money where my mouth is. Having heard every other naturopathic doc on the planet talk about the disruptive effects of this common feature of convenience and having used it less and less, I made the change.  The toaster oven, slow cooker and regular oven will work nicely.  I also have a solar oven, in the back, so there we are.

There may be other changes in the wind, but I can’t say for certain, as yet.  I just know they are at the door, when I feel their presence.  It’s supposed to be hotter than “double hockey stick”, from So Cal to Georgia, over the next two weeks.  We may get some rain, towards the end of August.  Until then:  Sun up, sun down.

Heavenly Flow

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April 21, 2019-

Today brought me close to two faith traditions:  A musical, somewhat relaxed Evangelical Baptist service- which I attended at the invitation of a former co-worker.  I didn’t see her  there, but met up with another former colleague with the Red Cross.  After exchanging pleasantries, I took a seat in the congregation, while he took his place in the choir.  My part was to sing with the rest of those in the congregation, join in greeting those around me, and respond to an occasional call.  I only regret not raising my hand when the pastor asked who believes in the Christ. I do, certainly.  One cannot accept the Message of the Father and discard That of the Son.

At our Baha’i community’s gathering, this afternoon, I joined with about 45 fellows in Faith, to commemorate the first day of Baha’u’llah’s declaring His Mission, even as He and His companions prepared for a long journey overland, from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul.

The message is similar:  None of us is squeaky clean, and God alone can absolve us with Grace.   The sufferings of each Divine Messenger are what free us from our wrongdoings.  Only by acknowledging this, and not wanting to be distant from the Divine, does one progress spiritually.

So, that was my day of spiritual fellowship.  Connection with the Divine, though, is what has eased my path, even when I find myself alone.  In times of uncertainty, as to my course of action, I find my Spirit Guides provide a very clear framework, within which I must make informed choices.

This week, for example, will bring me to Flagstaff, then to the Desert View Tower, at the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park- honouring the Centenary of that great national entity.  From there, it will be time to honour an old friend, who passed on, last week.  His services will be east of Tuba City, at another lovely locale:  Coal Mine Canyon.  Then, I must return here to Prescott, and look after my own health, with a lab test on Wednesday.   Matters of faith, possible acts of service with the Red Cross, another friend’s birthday party and a presentation by Slow Food-Prescott will fill out the week.

The flow of celestial energy is constant, and bears heeding.

 

 

 

 

 

Commitment

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January 25, 2019-

We had, all in all, a good, productive meeting at work, today and prior to that, I felt a firmer commitment to us paraprofessionals, from our leadership.  These set the stage for a productive period, for the rest of the Winter and through the Spring.

It reminds me that my own commitment, to the well-being of humanity, branches off in many directions:  Our team and the students; the local Baha’i community, and the wider Prescott/Yavapai County community-through Red Cross, Slow Food, American Legion-and those who are just beloved friends ;  my friends who run the businesses around town, which I have come to love and appreciate- Frozen Frannie’s, Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Cupper’s, Chi’s Cuisine, Raven Cafe, Peregrine Books , Cornerstone Chiropractic, Planet Fitness and, most of all, Prescott Farmers Market; my family, most directly my son and daughter-in-law, mother and siblings-each of whom, are doing just fine.  When I’m needed, I will do what is necessary

I have always had a global take on things, though, even when that was considered odd.  So, I think, often and pray daily, for people in places which I might visit frequently- Phoenix, Flagstaff, the Verde Valley; not so frequently- Tucson, Superior, Carson City, Orange County, San Diego, Massachusetts,Missouri, Pennsylvania, the Great Lakes region, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida; once and again-the Pacific Northwest, western Europe, Alaska and east Asia- and those places which lie in my future, God willing-Africa, the rest of Europe, Central and South America, south Asia and the Middle East.

Yes, there is a commitment to travel, to visiting and to service where needed. Mainly, though, I am committed to living a full life, to doing the Will of God.   Thich  Nhat Hanh says commitment has nothing to do with convenience- so be it.