Dog Day

3

August 19, 2019-

The day started with two good turns- A young singer with a powerful voice invited me, through her father/webmaster, to like her Facebook page;  The National Weather Service now says we may get rain, over Labor Day weekend.

I “liked ” the page, as anything I can do, to encourage a fellow autistic to build on personal strengths, is going to happen.  I’ll take rain, whenever it comes.  Last year, it came during a huge Country Music festival-in early autumn.  The world is turning on its axis, it seems, so in addition to whatever atmospheric changes we are inculcating, Mother Nature is making some changes of her own.

I read a study that claims people who nap more in the afternoon, and wake up at night, are at risk of Alzheimer’s, down the road.  That would mean a lot of us who nod off, in the heat of the day, are bound to find themselves in a different state of mind, ten years hence.  To me, though, the crux is often hydration.  I nod off less, when my water intake is up.  Since the brain is largely water, that could have some bearing on dementia, as well.  Synapses fire better, when there is a proper level of saturation.

It was hot enough today, that I felt it prudent to give my laptop a three-hour break.  Reading and a Planet Fitness visit took the place of  correspondence and pontification.  Not to worry, the latter is about finished, for now.

Remember, the Dog Days rarely last beyond Labor Day, which is two weeks off.  Stay saturated, my friends.

This Is No Game

4

August 18, 2019-

Love is not a game.

Caring for someone is a 24/7 matter.

It is not a case of projecting one’s needs onto the beloved.

It never allows for ignoring or minimizing her/his needs,

and dreams, in favour of the all-important self.

 

Leadership is not a game.

Guiding a group, region or nation is the highest calling.

It is not a case of being in the limelight, 24/7.

It is not a matter of keeping people off track.

It is not sleight of hand, or

smoke and mirrors.

 

Faith is not a game.

It does not pick and choose

which Scripture fits one’s

own pre-conceived notions.

It does not hide from what is expected.

It does not bemoan challenges,

or misfortune.

 

Life is just not a game.

The Price of Cancellation

2

August 17, 2019-

I read, this morning, about Sarah Silverman’s having had a role canceled, by a director who was furious that she had done a Blackface skit-sometime in the 1990’s.  It turns out that the skit was a parody of someone else doing Blackface, and that it was intended as a cautionary message to people, not to do likewise.  Undeterred, the Red Queen of a director maintained the ‘majesty’ of that decision.

We have run amok, with the notion that an offense, however real or imagined, is sufficient to remove a person from one’s social circle, employment or from society itself, for that matter.  Criticizing a move by the Israeli government, apparently makes one an anti-Semite (never mind that Arabs, who usually end up wearing that label, are themselves Semites, as are, of course, Jews).  Having a discourse with one’s political or philosophical opposites makes one “dangerous to society” (I’ve seen this behaviour from both the political Right and Left.)  Now, comes the film-making community, with the search, flashlight in hand, for ANYTHING in a performer’s past that violates a narrow code of acceptable conduct.

People, rightfully, note signs and behaviours of late, that remind them of pre-World War II Germany and Italy.  These do need to be called out.  Case in point: A person driving a truck into a crowd of protesters is NOT exercising his rights, under the law.  At the very least, he is acting as a vigilante,  At worst, he is committing an act of domestic terror.

Dismissing those, with whom we disagree, from the realm of existence, though. is a slippery slope.  We have a prime example of this:  The French Revolution.  It was a far more complicated mess, of course, but the dehumanization of those who are of opposite persuasions  almost always ends with the opposite of what was originally intended.

So, I think of my present life.  There are two people who have verbally threatened me, over the past three years.  I have taken steps to ensure they are of no further consequence in my life- but they are certainly free to live their own lives, without my hectoring or interference.  I disagree, strongly, with several people on certain issues.  To carry on and try to deprive them of  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be ludicrous.

We go on, and hopefully will do two things:  1. Carefully review and verify any report of a public outrage (i.e. the false report of people dousing a reporter with quick-drying cement, in Portland, several weeks ago).  2. Remind self that, in a world created by a Higher Power, one’s own likes and dislikes do not necessarily need to be indulged by the Universe.

Cancellation is always an option, and it comes with a price.

Warm, Cold and Somewhere In-between

4

August 11, 2019-

I have been back in Prescott, just shy of a month, and am finding that, even with a dearth of day-to-day work assignments, life remains very full.  Have been catching up with long-time friends and have been contacted by an interesting healer, who will help augment what I’m already doing for myself.

Looking back on the two-part journey just past, I reflect that the reactions to my presence, at different stops along the way, fell into three categories:  Warm, cold and somewhere in-between.  I felt no shortage of love for anyone, mind you.  The reception, though, depended largely on where the people were, in their own emotional and psychological spaces.

There were warm environments: A friend’s house, at Coal Mine, AZ;  Mother Road Hostel (Albuquerque);  my friends’ pondside house (Crossville, TN)*;  Not-So-Hostel (Charleston); Glick’s Greenhouse (Oley, PA)*; several friends’ and family homes in Saugus and elsewhere in Massachsusetts*; a Baha’i gathering in Pittsburgh;  two friends’ homes in Indiana*; an Airbnb home and the Baha’i House of Worship (Wilmette)*; Roy-el Motel (Wapello, IA); Honeycomb Hostel (Kansas City); Mesa Verde Motel (Mancos, CO).

There were mixed receptions at Pilgrim House (Memphis)* and Wrigley Hostel (Chicago), again, depending on where the individuals were in their own lives.  The chilliness was, thankfully, limited to a few people along the way- an angry man on the road between Ganado and Chinle, AZ; a disgruntled hosteler in Charleston and the security staff at West Point.

Restaurant-wise, I was treated like family, in Canyon de Chelly Restaurant;  Villa di Capo (Albuquerque);  Smokey Joe’s (Amarillo); Mesquite Canyon Steak House (Shamrock, TX); Cupcakes & Cravings (Rolla, MO*); T’aiChi Noodle House (Chattanooga); Best Bagels in Town (Knoxville); Huckleberry’s (Tryon, NC);  Motor Supply Bistro (Columbia, SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken, SC)*; Hilton Head Diner; East Bay Deli(Charleston); Don Beto’s (Raleigh);  D’s Diner (Wilkes-Barre)*; One Family Deli (Newburgh); Egremont Market (Egremont, MA); The Fresh Side (Amherst, MA); Friendly Ice Cream (Southington, CT); Padamina’s BBQ, Buffet & Bakery (Danbury); Bedford Diner (Bedford, PA)*; Fricker’s (Richmond,IN); Family Square (Bolingbrook, IL); Q39 Barbecue (Kansas City); Copeland Cafe (Copeland, KS); Del’s Diner (Fort Garland, CO)*;  The Farm Bistro (Cortez) and Munds Park Resort Cafe (Munds Park, AZ)*.                                                                                         * Return visits

I mention all these, so that people recognize how important ambiance is, to a traveling soul.  There are some RIP’s, from my previous trips, and I’ll miss Chez Duval (Granada, CO) and Artful Dodger Cafe (Harrisonburg, VA), in particular.  While I’m at it, Feast Bistro, in Ojai, CA, though in the opposite direction, is on that list of RIP’s.  Establishments come and go, I know- yet it is always the people who work in them and other patrons, who remain in my heart.

 

The Seesaw

4

August 10, 2019-

The seesaw was built for balance.

Gradually, that balance wore away,

as the bigger kids always favoured,

the right-hand side.

Getting to the seesaw first,

they managed to decide

how high, how fast,

it went up and down.

One day, a clever one,

from among the littles,

figured out how to restore

the balance.

He made some progress,

but was beaten

and chased off,

by those from both groups,

who were used to

things as they  were.

Try as they might, though,

the big kids couldn’t

restore the imbalance.

After several tries,

a series of little kids

began to enjoy the left side

being equally balanced

with the right.

There was an equal chance

for either to be above.

The bigger kids,

and some of the littles,

began to wail,

to cry UNFAIR!

One of the biggest

then got on the seesaw,

landing on it hard.

He knocked the device

out of balance again,

so much so,

that neither most of the littles

nor many of the bigs,

were happy.

Those who were happy,

were very loud about it,

and outshouted the unhappies.

This went on for some time,

until the more thoughtful

on both sides,

took a good, hard look

at the seesaw.

In the dead of night,

they restored the balance.

No one had to be hurt or maimed,

it was just that the right thing happened.

 

DISCLAIMER:  The “left” and “right”, in this poem refer only to the sides of an actual seesaw, and not to the political right or left.

 

Not A Day For Hate

14

August 8, 2019-

A few days ago, in the wake of last weekend’s shootings, a  minor pundit posed the idea that the eighth day of August was being anticipated, by alt-right adherents, as a day to call attention to their views, it being 8/8, or “Double H”-the extended premise, in turn, being “Heil Hitler”.  I find that premise ludicrous, but worthy of being countered.

Thus far today, there has been a report of the stabbing of four people, in Santa Ana and an apparent gas leak-explosion in Tampa, neither of which is being in any way tied to right wing extremists.  Political radicals, with mad agendas are, however, an ongoing security threat-whether of the Right,or the Left.  In addition, COINTELPRO* (Counter Intelligence Program), a Federal government operation that operated, full tilt, from the late 1920’s until at least 1985, is still being linked to Antifa (“Anti-Fascism”) and to certain Alt-Right organizations that have caused widespread death and injury.

With all that, the vast majority of people in this country are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.  We get up each day, dress up and show up, for what is, by and large, a day to day process of fulfilling our responsibilities to family, friends, employers and community.  Whether we work for wages or as volunteers, we go about our days with integrity and a modicum of self-discipline.  None of this makes us saints, but it does, on average, make society better, little by little.

Hate, for most of us, is something we need like another orifice.  No matter who the hatemonger is-and I have seen instigators both of  the Far Right and Far Left, he/she is doing little to bring about the world that is said to be desired.  While, again, I do not claim to sit on the moral High Horse, I have done far more that is positive by showing love and respect, even to my critics and opponents.  Mom said, throughout our childhoods, “You get more with honey than with salt.”

8/8 is not a day for hate-nor is any other day.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

 

What About This?

6

August 7, 2019-

The pain and suffering experienced by anyone, who has lost one or more loved ones in an event of mass violence, has to be of seismic proportions.  I can’t imagine the horror they endure, though my family has had its share of loss and suffering.  Mass murder of strangers, once upon a time solely a result of warfare, has now become de rigeur.

So, too, has become the stridency of reaction.  Among political extremists on both ends of the spectrum, there is a knee-jerk tendency to deride any opposing points of view, almost as if the very existence of the reactor depends upon extinguishing “the other”.  It has long been thus.  The difference now is that, in order to score points with his perceived base, each of the last two presidents has seen fit to offer inflammatory comments about perceived enemies, within our nation’s borders.  The last president backed off, walked back his unfortunate “one size fits all” comments and made some overtures to his perceived betes-noires.  The current president seems to be taking initial steps in the same direction.

There is a long way to go.  We saw two political extremists, one Alt-Right, the other Far Left, engage in extreme acts of terror, at the end of a week that had already seen unstable people kill others, almost on whim.  It may be the end of the bloodshed, but that is unlikely.  It has not been the end of obfuscation, deflection and gaslighting, by a long shot.

One of the favourite mantras of the deflecting class is “What about Chicago?”  The tendency to conflate an ongoing series of neighbourhood turf wars, as horrific as these are, with the random slaughter of people by those with high-level mental health issues, which have given birth to wild agendas.  To be sure, one set of events is as mad as the others.  The specific cures, however, are different.

A thoughtful writer, yesterday, noted that ALL of the underlying causes of mass shootings are relevant, and all are solvable.  Yes, and yes.  There are several laws, Federal, state and local, already on the books, just about everywhere.  These need to be collated, publicized widely and consistently enforced.  Next, as my wise parents consistently told us, throughout our formative years- Recognize that everyone is a child of God.  We must defend ourselves from those who wish us harm, but to go further, and try to exterminate them, (either figuratively or literally), on an individual or collective basis, is ungodly.  Everyone, in the end, is part of the mix.

A white supremacist is living in a false reality.  I have never, once, been injured by a person of colour.  I have been physically attacked and injured, by other white people.  Does this, therefore, mean I should eschew all fellowship with those who look like me? Hardly; and likewise, those who are of different levels of melanin are inherently no more of a threat to white people than we, again inherently, are to one another.

There are a lot of social cues, which I am actively working to cast aside from my own being, which serve to separate.  The order of the day is to unite.  I see the various acts of violence as alarm bells, telling us that it’s time to unite.

In practical, day-to-day terms. I will not refuse to listen to Ben Shapiro or to Rachel Maddow,  If I go to San Antonio, I will not boycott Bill Miller BarBQ, as  along with Poblanos on Main, it is a favourite of mine.  I will not boycott Chik-Fil-A, until the day comes that its owner goes out and commits an act of violence against a gay  or bisexual person, which he is very unlikely to do.  Even then, he would not be acting on behalf of his company.

What about Chicago?  I was there, not long ago. It is a roiling, severely crowded city, with packed neighbourhoods, some narrow streets and air conditioning problems, putting it in company with New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in countries with emerging economies.  It is also a majestic city, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in all parts of the planet.  It is a city which can serve as a living laboratory for unity.  Simply put, because I’ve gone on for a bit and we’re all busy, I’d love to see a five part conference in Chicago:  1.Put a moratorium on killing, by any mean necessary, for five days;   2.  Identify, clearly, the roots of the violence and make them universally understandable, to one and all; 3.  Brainstorm, again, the solutions to the violence, and leave nothing out; 4.  Winnow these solutions to those which are of greatest benefit to the largest number of people, in all parts of the city; 5.  This is the hard part, IMPLEMENT the solutions, one at a time, and do not be deterred by those forces which are inconvenienced in the short or intermediate term.

Could this work?  It’s preferable to the ongoing heartache that is endemic in Chicago now.  Now that I think of it, could it work in other communities?  The deflectors may, unwittingly, unintentionally, be onto something.  # One America.

 

Mindfulness, Murals and A Milestone

8

July 22-27, 2019, Carson City-

In my life since 2011, there have been a few constants:  My community in Prescott, wherever my son is,  Birth Family on the East Coast, friends all over the country and my northern Nevada family, here and in Reno.

I have made at least one stop here, each year since 2012, when  I joined Michele and Tom on a road trip to the Bay Area, for a Baha’i commemorative.  He passed on, a year later, making a visit with Michele, like a sister to me, that much more urgent.  The kids are always a good part of the mix, to say the least.  So, when V was given a part in a community theater’s rendition of “The Little Mermaid”, I set aside this week for my annual jaunt.

After a veritable pit stop in Prescott, I drove up to Kingman, on Sunday evening.  That cut three hours off Monday’s drive which, other than slow traffic stemming from an accident, just shy of the state line.  I noted that Rosie’s Den, a place in White Hills, where I had stopped a few times, to and from Nevada, had closed.  Iron Horse Cafe, in Henderson, was my first stop.  Being still the morning commute rush, as I passed through Las Vegas, no stops were made there.

That meant lunch was in Beatty, about 3/8 of the way north.  This old mining town has its funky side- the huge Death Valley Nut and Candy Store and, until last year, a motel in an old trailer park.  Then, there is Sourdough Saloon, where one enters-finds an empty bar (before noon, anyway) and goes in the back, where a lone waitress is glad to see anyone.

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The fare at Sourdough is simple, but on par with road food I’ve found anywhere. For some reason, Pastrami Cheeseburgers are a fairly big thing in western Nevada.  Sourdough’s is tender and moist.

I hadn’t noticed on earlier passes through town, but looking at the ridge north of Beatty, it seems a Teddy bear is keeping watch.

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Another constant on my drives north is a stop at Beans and Brews, a small coffee house inside Three Deserts 76 gas station, in Tonopah.  The shop is run by high school and college students, who never drop the ball when it comes to congenial service and generous portions of iced coffee, espresso and lattes.  (Photo, courtesy of  http://www.beans andbrews.com)

 

1403-OUT

The rest of the drive was made easier by the stop at B & B.  I noted that Walker Lake is higher, this year, than in the past seven.  The word is that the flow from Walker River has been increased.

Much of Michele’s focus, and mine, is on the little family of four:  V, her parents and infant brother.  Father is a multifaceted artist, whose work includes murals.

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The week included many long conversations about mindfulness and holistic health (always a concern with us Boomers), the efficacy of  fairy tales (specifically the message presented by some Disney versions) to child development, and how best to approach the welter of social movements in our time.  Chess with V was actually more challenging than one would think it would be, with a 7-year-old opponent.  She has a fine analytical mind. We each won a match.

The play, Friday night, featured V as one of the Starfish.  They appeared in one scene, dancing to the song, “Under the Sea”.  It was heartening to see the turnout- a packed house for opening night.  As with any child, I leave it to V’s parents to determine whether to share photos from the occasion.

Here, though, is a video clip of the song.

 

It’s been another good week, which I hope augurs well for Fall up here.  I know that my own autumn will be a full one.

 

 

 

The Cost of Anonymity

2

July 19-21-

I am back in my salubrious Home Base, for three days, give or take.  No one knew I was back, until I announced my presence- such is the anonymous state of being that proceeds from apartment living, in a community that relishes independence.

I went down to one of the local coffee houses, on Friday morning.  For most of the time, I was the only patron sitting inside. The barrista, a recent graduate of our community’s high school, was bored out of her skull.  Too shy to talk to this old guy, she busied herself with grinding coffee beans, swiping her phone and otherwise staring into space.  I’ve learned to respect personal space, and so focused on my simple oatmeal breakfast.

Towards lunch, a visit to Ms. Natural’s, one of my favourite hangouts, revealed a different atmosphere.  The proprietor, C, was delighted that I was back, even if only for a few days.  One of the waitresses, C2, engaged me in a lengthy comparison of summer adventures:  Mine, on the road and hers. locally-based, but no less interesting.  After C2’s boyfriend showed up, they left and I talked with C and another waitress for a few more minutes, feeling that I belonged here.

Much of the modern West thrives on anonymity.  People don’t monitor a person’s actions, all that much.  Some of my contemporaries make it look as if they are watching what’s going on, but an old white guy staring at others, and not saying much, isn’t doing anything to deter either loneliness or miscreance.  I have chosen involvement in community activities, as an antidote to both.  It’s a fine line that needs to be trod-one can not force oneself on others, nor can one just turn a blind eye to incidents, large and small, that impact a community.

So, I went to a couple of meetings, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and joined several comrades for breakfast at the Legion Post, Sunday morning. I was apprised of all that had gone on, drama and the rest, over the last six weeks.  There was a fair amount of planning and the scene for Autumn looks to be fulfilling.  The cost of anonymity can only be paid by breaking out of the chrysalis.

Now, I look forward to a week with my Carson City family.