Whose Toilet?

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January 14, 2018, Prescott-

My day will likely be a joyous one, with my spirits telling me to get the laundry done, attend a memorial service, then either go and help my dear friend, or go hike in Granite Dells, if she is not in the mood for company.

Now, back to the title question.  I was discomfited, annoyed, put out at the tale coming out of the White House, as to our President’s purported comments, regarding immigrants and their countries of origin.  Either he said these things, thus committing a serious breach of comity OR his actual words were translated to fit the opinion of the observer towards the President, thus committing a serious act of calumny towards him.

Either way, I have to say this, about countries in general:  Each has its places of sublime beauty, and each has its places of squalour.  This is as true of the USA as it is of Haiti.  It is as true of France, Germany, the UAE, as it is of Liberia, Guyana or Bangladesh.  I have seen exquisite, serene villages in Guyana and decrepit, unsettling places in France.  No one who has been across our great nation would deny that there is astonishing beauty in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, whilst admitting that there is much work to be done, in addressing the matters of homelessness in cities large and small, in raising up the standards of living in First Nations reservations and in run-down sections of both urban and rural areas, across the continent.

No one likes to have their good name, or that of their country, sullied.  Some will argue, “Well, if the shoe fits, wear it!”  If that shoe has a hole in it, I would gather that the person has every right to decline its adornment.  Far better, in my view, that, having shone the light on the filth and the problems, the President, and each of us who has looked down their noses at a person, community or country, should put down that flashlight and ask, “How might we help?”  One immediate thing we can each do is, stop referring to the shortcomings of a people, as their be all and end all.  Acknowledge the beauty of a place, or of a society, instead of yammering about how horrible SOME aspects of it happen to be.  Messes happen, even in the finest of communities (just ask anyone in Montecito, CA). Beauty and strength, likewise, may be found anywhere.  How about building on that beauty and strength?

Ice Cream

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January 11, 2018, Prescott-

I ended my work day by being reminded that today was the 11th, after a fatigue-based brain fart.  That gave rise to the inevitable concern from Lead Teacher, about the onset of dementia.  Umm, no.  I was tired, exhausted.  I know tomorrow is January 12th.

Now, on to the reference in this post’s title.  On the podcast, this morning, one of my mentors was accenting an aversion to success, using ice cream as an analogy.  If one were to go up to a counter, see a flavour of ice cream that appealed, and was asked what would be your preference, and then dithered, thinking about whether one deserved ice cream at all, even while knowing that thousands of other people enjoy ice cream, each day, what would that feel like?

I have long dithered about enjoying life.  I have long felt that I did not deserve success, even having a hard time accepting, initially, that Penny found me attractive.  I have come to the conclusion that it was my autism talking.

The fact is, she DID find me attractive.  I was not the dregs with which she had to make do.  So, we had our ups and downs, for 29 years, but they were years of love.  I have been amazed at finding myself in places like Neah Bay, downtown Portland, San Francisco’s Russian Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf, Paris, Versailles, Utah Beach, the Dom Sector of Frankfurt, Iolani Palace, Bruges and Sitka’s Mt. Verstovia.  I really DID walk the length of Prescott Circle Trail and Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, albeit in sections. I am amazed, also, by the beautiful lady who now calls me friend.

So, all those bowls of ice cream later, I am looking at a huge sundae, and preparing to nibble a spoonful at a time.  I have spoken of giant steps being on my horizon.  I still need to convince myself that I am not the family’s hood ornament, or an appendage to the two-woman team in the classroom where I work.  It’s these very giant steps that will do this, for me.  The mentor cautioned us to not falter.  I won’t, having come all this way.

Reading List and A Full Plate

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January 7, 2017, Prescott- 

My best friend and I had a wide-ranging conversation, yesterday, about  inner peace, among other things.  She suffered a loss, recently, and the subject arose about those who blame others for their pain and suffering.  Neither she nor I blame anyone but ourselves, if things go sideways in our lives.  I love her dearly, but if she bid me farewell tomorrow, I would go on, and figure it wasn’t meant to be, for longer than it was.  On the other hand, I am glad for every minute of our friendship, and will treat her like royalty, as long as it lasts.

Those of us who are blessed by the Universe tend to have a mighty full plate.  I was informed today about another responsibility that my fellow Baha’is would like me to assume.  My financial education continues, work resumes tomorrow and I still like to read as many of  the posts on my Reader, as humanly possible.    Exercise remains important. I will also make time for M, when she needs me. So, the schedule remains, 4:30 AM-10 PM, 6 days a week, and a “sleep-in” until 5:30, on Sunday.

My winter reading list is also present, to fill in the “gaps” in my day:  “Cash Flow Quadrant”, by Robert Kiyosaki; “Facing Grief With Eyes Wide Open”, by Medea Bavarella Chechik; “Tribe”, by Sebastian Junger; “Winter of the World”, by Ken Follett; “Footloose in America”, by Bud Kenny; “The Elegant Universe”, by Brian Greene.  That should last until March 21, or 31.

We were talking, at a meeting today, in Phoenix, about how people often assume the young and the old have lots of time on their hands.  I can’t speak for the kids, but there is joy for me, in choosing to maintain a full schedule.

2018 and the Four F’s

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January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

Farewells and Forward Looks

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December 31, 2017, Spring Hill-

We’ve had two successive nights of dining out.  Friday night found my SIL, her good friend and me at Bonefish, in nearby Brooksville.  Last night, the guys’ treat, was spent among a raucous crowd, at Brian’s Place, in Hernando Beach.   I don’t mind raucous- it’s a sign of life being lived to the fullest.  The food was excellent, in both places.

Here are Brian’s Crab Cakes, Twice-baked potato on a bed of spinach and Plantain Ears.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Yesterday also saw a visit to my SIL’s horses, at a lovely ranch in Weeki Wachee, about four miles from here.

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The piney woods and white sand don’t phase the equines much.  I wonder about how summers are for them, but horses are good at finding shady spots.

It’s been a fine ending to an up, down and back up year.  I lost Uncle George, Doc Manzer,  a few high school-era friends and friends’ parents, and feisty little Tank, the blessed companion of a good friend.  I found SunFlour Bakery, Local Jonny’s,  Cupcakes and Cravings, Coney Island Diner, D’s Diner and Rosati’s Prescott franchise. Explorations included Philadelphia’s downtown, Brandywine, Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Lexington (VA), Falls of the Ohio, Paducah, Spur Cross Ranch, Prescott’s Wolverton Mountain and two segments of the Maricopa Trail.  Job sites were tough (the first half of the year) and challenging, but supportive (the second half).  One or two friends turned aside, but many others came along.  This Blog Site changed its name, and grew its readership.

I grew, internally.  My friendship with a fine woman has deepened, spiritually.  I saw my son off, on an adventure to the land of his birth, and witness, with great pride, his maturation.  I am exploring another financial opportunity; carefully, mind you, but with more confidence than I have felt in quite some time.

2018 is a few hours off, for us.  I will begin the year on a bus, headed for Phoenix, and on to Prescott, by way of Tallahassee, Montgomery, Birmingham, across Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.    It’ll be a bustling five months of work, in the same supportive environment as before our break, coupled with a concerted effort at the aforementioned financial opportunity.  Travel-wise, a Presidents’ Day visit to Orange and San Diego Counties; back East, at school year’s end, via Colorado, Nebraska, Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Ontario and Montreal, thence to Massachusetts  and Philadelphia.  Returning via eastern Virginia, across the Old Dominion and the Carolinas, and the Knoxville area, before hopefully getting back to Prescott, in time for the Fireworks.

Fall should see us doing it all over again, at Prescott High School, and at this time, next year,  I will be enjoying yet another holiday-just not sure where.  Whatever happens, it’ll be a doozie!

Year-End Reflections, Part 5: Setbacks

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December 28, 2017, Spring Hill-

I have largely spent yesterday and today catching up on my fellow bloggers’ posts.  There are so many, that it took me until a few minutes ago.  Of course, that means there are other things going on- the life of my in-law family household, with Turner Classic Movies, a Rottweiler puppy, and the various people coming and going.

The other major thing occupying me is Digital Altitude.  I first heard about it, two years ago, at a doTerra Winter Summit.  Business training did not interest me at the time, because I looked only at my cash-poor state.  A fellow blogger got me interested, though, not long ago, and I have plowed through the first 6 steps of ASPIRE, with two more steps coming tomorrow.

I could move forward further-and before year’s end, but for one thing:  The residual effects of bankruptcy.  The government  released me from restrictions imposed by Chapter 11, in March of this year.  The financial world is not so forgiving.  The government restricts for seven years.  Many lenders restrict for ten years.  This keeps me from taking part in special deals offered by D.A.

Setbacks happen.  I will not starve, be cast out on the street, become a social pariah, or even cry bitter tears, because of this development.  The bankruptcy was due to the dire straits in which my late wife and I found ourselves, in 2010, after the high cost of her medical treatment and the subprime lending crisis found each other, and we made the questionable, but conventional, decision to seek lawful relief.

That’s where my TMI ends.  I am still here, recovering financially (and Digital Altitude will be part of this recovery, albeit in SloMo, as will a redoubled effort in do Terra), and I am enjoying an increase in the number of real time and online friends.  This year, now almost past, has seen my friendships with women deepen in quality and depth.  It has seen my relationship with money become more appreciative, and also deeper.  I have learned, anew, that setbacks are times to sit and learn lessons, in place, and without apprehension.  I have learned the true benefits of being a valued member of a strong professional team.

2017 has not been the horror show that I nearly expected, at this time last year.

Year-End Reflections, Part 4: Transitions and Conflicts

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December 27, 2017, Spring Hill, Florida- 

I will be here, or thereabouts, for the next five days.  This week has usually been spent either in the cold of the Northeast or in sunny southern California.  Florida, specifically, the edge of the Tampa Bay area, where Spring Hill is located, is SoCal, but with a lot more moisture.  Last night’s rain has left the scent of the tropics, in its wake.

Back to my piece’s title:  2017 has taken me further out of my comfort zone than any year since 1981, when I first became half of a couple.  It’s damned hard to get over doing everything by and for oneself, yet not so hard to go back to that frame of mind, when a relationship ends/takes a non-physical form.  I can’t, however, just live for myself, anymore.  The world is in too much a state of travail. So, I write this blog, almost daily, I volunteer for the Red Cross, when I can, work with disabled students during the academic year, and work for the wider world, through the Baha’i Faith and its propagation efforts.

Relationship-wise, I am heartened by the large number of friends (and I do see you as such) with whom I converse on social media.  It is a leap for me, to converse with people I’ve never met, in a language other than English, but I am pushing myself to do this.  It is not hard for me to turn down “friendship requests” on social media, from random young women, or people claiming to be young women (usually bots), given my age and their friend pool, if there even is one, consisting entirely of people I don’t know.  For the record, I will befriend anyone who proves legitimate, and indeed have many friends and correspondents of both genders and of all ages.

Another transition I am starting to make is that of online entrepreneur.  I am taking this one step at a time, will interrupt this post to take part in a conference call, momentarily, and, despite the somewhat uncertain attitude of my sponsor towards me, I feel like this time, my coach and I can make some headway.

Good call, and I made a leap over one gap in my comfort zone:  Credit score, which is not as bad as I thought it might be.  Another leap over my comfort zone’s fence is thus more likely in the weeks ahead.  This is partly due to three changes that I have already engaged:  Increasing my waking hours by 30-45 minutes, in the morning; taken on a full-time job; and overcoming several lingering doubts about my self-worth.

So, Having looked at life, from several sides now, in the year that is coming to a close, I am ready to be far more proactive, in several areas of my life, than in the past.  There is more to sojourning, than travel, as much fun and as mind-expanding as that is.

Year End Reflections, Part 3: Friendships

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December 25, 2017, El Paso-

I had intended on writing this from Phoenix.  Ha!  The wheels of transport are blessedly efficient, today. We even got into this west Texas hub, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.  We just keep movin’ and groovin’.

So it goes.  I want to thank my friends, all umpteen thousand of you, for what you have given me, this year and for several years past.

My childhood friends:  Many of you are still with me, on Facebook and in some cases, in real life, when I am back in Massachusetts.  Each of us has had our share of hard times, but life has been quite good, overall.  Back in the day, we never let one another down.,

My military and college friends:  I don’t see you anymore, and have no idea where any of you are.  You did teach me forbearance and to have a sense-of-humour-based camaraderie.  I think that, as much as anything, tempered the effects of my autism.

My friends in the educational community, at all levels:  Always, you inspire me to look inward and upward.  So many fine people are involved in raising children to their own higher levels.  Good teachers, as one of my first mentors said, work hard, without regret.

My Baha’i friends:  From the get-go, you have kept me focused and confirmed my outward, inclusive view of the world.  I no longer feel like a fish out of water, when my mind is as concerned with people far,as well as near.

My online friends:  In groups ranging from Archaeology for the Soul to Digital Altitude and the do Terra groups, you expand my mind and let me give my own voice to matters of health, spirituality and responsible financial planning.  My individual friends here are universally encouraging, even when you challenge me to think outside my own little box.

Friendships are organic and fluid.  My dearest friends bring that friendship upward and onward, as I do my level best to do for any of my friends.  In the end, as Jewel once sang, “only kindness matters.”

 

 

Year End Reflections, Part 2: Sojourns

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December 24, 2017, Prescott- I spent yesterday at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, in Phoenix, but elected to stay up here today, as some chores need doing, before I head out on the Greyhound journey to Spring Hill, FL, and a visit with Penny’s mom and sister.  It will be odd not having a vehicle, by which to stop, visit with friends en route, or to respond to others who may live not far from them.  This is, though, a journey of focus.

I have made such focus a more important part of my life, this past year. People and their feelings have been one such concern. Reorganizing my blog site, and making a more concerted effort to attend to others’ comments, as well as their own blogs, has been another.

My travels,while still extensive, going across the continent, yet again, were more devoted to family, friends, and specific purpose. I saw my son off, on his way to Korea, from San Diego, at the beginning of the year.  OC, always a part of any California visit, took up the end of my temporary farewell, to the light of my life.

I can never go without a visit to a little girl and her family in the Reno-Carson City area, so that came first, in the summer.  It seemed capricious to dart back to Arizona, just to deliver a bundle to people who didn’t seem to care, one way or the other, but it mattered to the sender, so I did it.

Friends and family, across the Midwest, the Northeast and Upper South, were more appreciative of my time with them.  Mom always needs to know her wanderer is in a good place, physically and emotionally, so when I was in my hometown, she had the bulk of my attention, but not in as hovering a manner as previously.  A side trip to Maine, also very focused, help break up any sense of hovering.  So, too, did meeting one of my newborn grand-nephews.

My youngest niece and her upcoming wedding brought me to Philadelphia, so as to at least meet her fiance.  Another little grand-nephew was also there, along with his big sister, whom I also had not met.  There was a focus on history, in the three days that followed: Philadelphia itself, Brandywine, Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Lexington, VA. Going to Harrisonburg, perhaps my favourite western Virginia town, took me back to Artful Cafe (once known as Artful Dodger), followed by a brief visit with a friend who once lived in Prescott.  People find it strange, but I don’t forget someone who treated me with a high level of kindness, even if they themselves have moved on.

It has long been past time to visit with the Indiana branch of our family, so a few hours, on point, in Jeffersonville, sent me heading west, with a sense of having completed my connection.  Falls of the Ohio and downtown Paducah were side-benefits of this diversion. Finally, I was honoured to visit with a cousin, in southwest Missouri, before scooting across the plains, to home  There were side benefits to that last leg:  Sedan, KS, with its little ravine, called The Hollow; a kind lady running a motel and cafe in Mooreland, OK; a race against the monsoon rains, in northeast New Mexico; brief return visits to Cimarron, Taos and Rio Grande Gorge; and proving that I still can handle the delicate balance between rest and roadsmanship, on the last leg of the drive home.

I chose a journey to the past, over an emotional visit to Las Vegas, in October.  It was tough going, coming back especially, but Besh Ba Gowah and Gila Cliff Dwellings made me recognize, anew, the importance of appreciating just what those who came before us gave to people, whom they had no idea were coming.

Journeys aren’t, per se, hard on me, so long as I maintain attention, pacing and focus.  New friends came out of these past twelve months, though I may have lost one of the older ones.  Friendships will take up my Christmas post, as seems appropriate.

 

 

 

 

As If On Cue

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December 21, 2017, Prescott-

As if on cue, today was the coldest day since last February.

It snowed, north of us,

but with the caveat that Old Man Sundowner

was coming back, with milder temperatures,

over Christmas weekend.

A dear co-worker has to sit out

our classroom’s run-up

to the holidays.

I pray for her recovery.

It’s quite something,

how some teams of workers

bond almost instantaneously,

while others contend with

one another and clash

until the bitter end.

I also pray for the recovery

of a student who injured himself.

Teens can be daring,

and foolhardy,

not realizing the pain

felt by those who love them,

including, first and foremost,

other teens.

As if on cue, I rushed out,

and finished shopping,

and connected with

three people with

whom I had been

waiting to connect.

I have met a snag,

in my online business course.

It’s called, team leader,

who stresses speed and efficiency,

has a life, away from his work.

So, I wait, for him to reply

to my request.

Not on cue, but in time.