Proud

3

September 20, 2019-

I’m proud of you,

who stood for what you believe

and told the world that Man

has a duty, to be a good steward

of this planet.

I’m proud of you,

for telling those who ignore

the warning signs,

to wake up,

as this planet doesn’t just belong

to the polluters,

to the Big Dogs,

to the billionaires,

to those who tell you

to shut up and go away.

I’m proud of you,

for saying that

your life matters

as much as anyone else’s.

I’m proud of you,

for standing tall.

for standing firm.

I’m proud of you,

every one of you.

Be prepared for the hard work that follows from today.

(Written on the occasion of Climate Strike)

Mass Assumptions

6

September 19, 2019-

I don’t know about you, but I am alternately amused and flummoxed by colloquialisms and popular beliefs, that don’t hold up in the court of scrutiny.  Bear with me; this is a potpourri.

  1. “Leprosy is returning to California, via the homeless population!” FACT:  There have been no cases of leprosy reported among the homeless, in California or anywhere else.  There IS a hygiene issue, due to several cities decriminalizing toileting in public.  While this is disgusting, it has nothing to do with leprosy.
  2. “California is forcing children to experiment with sexuality!”  FACT:  California’s guidelines on public sex education  are a lot less age appropriate than many would like.  Parents, and school districts, can, however, opt out of adopting these guidelines. (DISCLOSURE:  I believe sex education is primarily the duty of the parent(s).)
  3. “MYSELF should be used, instead of ME,  and mentioned first,when speaking or writing in the first person, or when mentioning self along with others.”  I still am more comfortable using ‘me’ or ‘I’, after referring to others in my company.
  4. “________ Year Anniversary” is ‘shorthand’ for ____________st(th) Anniversary.  How is being redundant shorthand for anything?  An anniversary IS the passage of one year.  There is no such thing as a ____ month anniversary, or a _____week anniversary.  It just SEEMS like time is dragging.
  5.  “If a Democrat is elected President, the stock markets will slam shut!”  FACT:  The stock markets, under Presidents Clinton and Obama, made fair gains-albeit not as much as has been the case under President Trump.  Markets don’t move lock step with whoever is President.  China, and other countries, actually have more influence on the markets than does a U.S. president.
  6. Lastly, and my favourite: “Everybody else can do this.  What is wrong with you?”  “Everybody else” refers to either 7.7 billion people, or to everyone else known to the speaker.  There is no way for him(her) to know what even everyone he or she knows can do or not do.                                                                                                             Those are just some things that passed through my consciousness today.

Bosons and Fermions

4

September 18, 2019-

Each Boson, in a Supersymmetric String,

has a companion Fermion.

One is positive,

the other, negative.

This makes these minute building blocks

of the Universe,

the same, in terms of relationship,

as protons and electrons;

as light and dark;

as energy and entrophy;

as warm and cold;

as strong and weak.

One trades off the other.

In a sense, each depends on the other,

for its existence.

Even at the most inscrutably minute level,

there is a balance to be maintained.

Home Is Fluid

6

September 17, 2019-

“Well help me figure this place out.  I know I’m an outsider, but I’m not an enemy.” “No, you’re not.  But in this town those two words mean the same thing.”                     – Toni Morrison, “Paradise”

So, I was part of an interview, this morning, promoting a Home Safety event, sponsored by the American Red Cross, and to be held this coming Saturday.  Inside that little room, among friends, I felt like somebody, safe and honoured.  The interview went well, and I felt secure in sharing it on social media, once back in my apartment.

Walking from the studio to Ms. Natural’s, I crossed the Courthouse Plaza, normally a neutral place, where all are welcome, at least officially. Today, I had to pass by those who glared at me in my Red Cross shirt and ball cap; pass by the well-to-do, who look down at anyone not dressed for business.  It’s never pleasant dealing with the Self-Perceived Originals, in any community.

It was much different at Ms. Natural’s, as it always is.  Claudia and the young ladies are not from here, either, and know some of what gets thrown around, by some of the Pioneer Families and the faux elite.  I am at home there.  Sharlot Hall, one of the original pioneers, for whom Prescott’s Historical Museum is named, would spin in her grave  at the pretense and the snobbery.

No matter; I am here to serve those who need it and just have to put my lingering Impostor Syndrome and refugee mentality aside.  The people who accept me, and take me into their circle, are also from somewhere else.  These are the ones who matter.  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile. Home, for me, is a fluid term.

 

 

True Beauty

2

September 16, 2019-

Ric Ocasek died yesterday, peacefully in his sleep.  He and his band, The Cars, rekindled my interest in rock music, in 1978, after it had been rather put to sleep by the glam rock and proto-disco tunes of the mid-1970’s.  Ric was sometimes called “ungainly”, by certain wags.  He did, however, have a magnetism that drew women-most notably his wife of 29 years, Paulina Porizkova.  To her, he had true beauty, and that is what mattered most.

True beauty transcends gender, species and even Kingdom.  It can only emanate from the soul, through the spirit and be reflected by the body- in terms of actions, expressiveness and outward reflection of spiritual qualities.  A person with the plainest of countenances and the frumpiest of figures can be a human Hope Diamond.

Having only recently completely cast off the social baggage that comes with being raised in a society stoked on appearance, I find the appreciation of each human being, and each daily set of experiences, a liberating renewal of spirit.  In the course of transformation, it’s helped to encounter comely women who have turned out to have dark spirits, plain ladies with hearts of gold, men of saintly mien and plenty of people who have both physical and spiritual beauty-putting the latter kind of beauty first.

This gives me a sense of wonder, at all that lies ahead.

The Pizza Box

8

September 15, 2019-

Several years ago, I had a discussion with some immigrants from the Middle East, about what could and couldn’t be recycled.  The focal point was a pizza box, contaminated with cheese and oil.  I pointed out that the box could not be recycled, as it had food stuck to it and was saturated with oil, besides.  “No matter!”, the loudest opposing voice said, “Back in our home city, EVERYTHING was recycled.  The landfill had workers who separated it all out!”

There is a trend now, of cities scaling back their recycling programs, citing “cost” as the reason.  Of course, if one has to have a crew separating cardboard with food stuck on it, washing or rinsing cans, bottles and jars and throwing yard refuse, used clothing and dirty napkins back into the general pile, the costs add up.  Then, there is the China Card:  “Well, China no longer accepts recycling from other countries.”  Where is it written that China, India, the nations of sub-Saharan Africa, or any other country has to be America’s trash dump?

We can train ourselves to be more judicious and take the time necessary to rinse out recyclable bottles, cans and jars-both glass and plastic.  We can use products like soap nuts, available in quite a few places, for laundry and household cleaning.  (https://heddaskincare.com)  We can take the time to separate contaminated paper and cardboard from that which is actually recyclable.

The alternative, of course, is to pile the landfills up to the sky, as so many communities in developing nations must do. There is also the option of a price increase-wherein a customer pays an extra $1-3 per month, for “enhanced” recycling services.   Sooner, rather than later, the reckoning will be upon us, as any resident of a crowded city in a developing nation could testify.

A Sense of the Present Mood

6

September 14, 2019-

I went over to Farmers’ Market, this morning, and found more of a subdued mood.  I’m not sure what is going on, but I basically bought what  I was planning to get, and did not get into any conversations-even normally friendly people were very much into themselves.  A harpist, who was playing as a featured musician, was emotionally very distant from  any of the people walking by.  I liked her music, and left a tip, as usual, but with no acknowledgement.

There was quite a bit more animation at Prescott Stand Down, our annual distribution of clothing and outdoor equipment to veterans who are in varying degrees of homelessness.  It is indicative of our community’s positive outlook towards the homeless, that a dedicated park for their feeding and recreation has been established through a partnership of community agencies and the Hilton Corporation, after the latter took out a long-term lease on city property that had been the site of a squatters’ camp.  The displaced can now at least get a meal on Saturday (typically an off-day for other groups that feed during the week or on Sundays.  There are also maintained toilets and paths for walking.

At my last meeting of the day, planning Hope Fest, which takes place two weeks from today, an offhand remark was made about how girls do well to be a bit sassy.  I believe that speaking up for oneself is a very basic skill, that ALL children should be taught.  My young charge of yesterday has been so taught.   So are several children who were present at this planning meeting.  They will be higher-functioning adults, as a result.

What happens when a child is oppressed and battered, on the other hand, has been chillingly borne out by the behaviour of a  person whom I tried to help, last Fall, only to to encounter resistance and personal attacks.  This same one has tried to get me to resume contact.  The old saw- “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me,” comes into play.  The needs of such a person go far beyond what one individual can provide.  I leave that matter to  the wider community.

On the other hand, working with organized groups remains a source of fulfillment.  I don’t regard being part of a team as either an act of cowardice or an attempt to dodge personal responsibility, as a few have suggested, elsewhere.  There are simply a good many social tasks, even involving one troubled individual, which cannot be done well by a person acting alone.  I have lost  a few friends over the above-mentioned issue, but my take remains as described here.

 

There Was No Wolf Howling, or Was There?

6

September 12, 2019-

The nation, eighteen years ago, was both united and frightened.  This, of course, did not last much more than a fortnight, in terms of a unified populace.  The first questioning of the events came from abroad.  French and English gadflies were already asking difficult questions, which could not be answered with glib replies-as the questions themselves were rather detailed, and reached back to suspicion about secret societies.

We Baha’is are prohibited from belonging to such secret societies, for the simple reasons that they are exclusive, promote anti-social agendas and seek power through unscrupulous means.  We are inclusive, pro-social and only accept authority that is earned through service.

Let’s look, though, at what produces conspiracy theories, in the first place:  Greed, lust for power and lack of transparency have combined, over the centuries, to fuel fear, suspicion and lack of trust.  There is, in reality, no good reason for greed, lust for power or hidden agendas, save hatred and loathing of others, either one’s own immediate kin or neighbours, or those further afield, who may or may not be different.

So, power grabs, in the aftermath of the Dark Ages, set high-ranking clergy on a path away from the Love preached by Christ and on the path of seeking more power and wealth.  The quest for dominance led European monarchs to send merchant ships to Africa, where the captains fell into the midst of tribal conflicts and used those troubles to enslave large numbers of people and encumber African leaders in their wider economic servitude, in the form of colonial dominance.

Many seemingly wild, imaginative stories have arisen, regarding just about every prominent historical figure, from the days of ancient Egypt, until the present day. However,  I just have to remind myself:  Just because the wide-eyed boy is sounding an alarm, doesn’t mean there is no wolf at the door.  Statements and evidence need to be weighed carefully, by anyone of sound mind.

Thus Mom Still Says

8

September 10, 2019-

Mom turned ninety-one, and doesn’t care who knows it.  She’s earned the right to think, do and eat whatever she wants.  That’s my opinion, anyway.  In our conversation, this morning, she gave me two thumbs up, for taking the joyful, positive view of life, which is mine, most of the time.  She expects me to keep on caring for myself, not depending on anyone else-for which I’m grateful.  My mother has lost none of her fire and spunk.

I woke this morning, to a report that a 13-year-old girl was sent home for wearing one comfortable outfit that was deemed “distracting for boys” ( I saw the outfit, and as a former school administrator, who held the line against bare midriffs and mid-thigh shorts, I think it was overkill, on the part of the school).  Her father brought a second outfit, which the Principal also found objectionable.  He took his daughter home, then launched a campaign to revisit the dress code.  Good for him; there are many men who still don’t take enough interest in the healthy self-concept of their children, especially of their daughters.

Body shaming has been with us for a long time-both against people of size and of slenderness.  Children are also sexualized, far too soon and far too often.  The father, in this case, pointed out that his child doesn’t flirt with her male classmates; she just wants to be a kid, and be comfortable, in 90-degree heat.  I heartily agree, as does my mother, who raised us boys to not dwell on a girl’s, or woman’s, physical attributes-one way or another.  My sister was always held in high regard, and was taught to think well of herself.  She has passed that on to her own daughters, and granddaughters.

I took a healthy lunch, this noon, at a local cafe (Ms. Natural’s) that thrives on its salubrious menu.  I was one of two men in the place, which was packed with mostly young women, all of whom take care of themselves and carry themselves with dignity and grace.  This is what I wish, for everyone, especially for those who have been kept in a dark emotional space, for far too long.

Mom wants that, also.  I hope she’s around, to reiterate the point, for several years to come.

The Gold Standard

4

September 9, 2019-

Bill Tracy passed away last Thursday, after a month-long decline, triggered by a fall from the roof of his Palm Desert restaurant.  Bill was one of those rare individuals whose concept of business was primarily as a means of giving back. He had three restaurants in Prescott-The Dinner Bell (ironically, a breakfast and lunch establishment), Bill’s Pizza and Bill’s Grill.  Feeling age, he sold those establishments, in 2015, to a friend who has kept Bill’s vision.  Bill’s Pizza, for example, donated about twenty large pies to the Farmers’ Market Board, yesterday, to feed volunteers and staff at the Farm-to-Table Dinner.

Bill’s philanthropy was where his heart was.  He gave to a variety of causes and regarded the needs of the community, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area. He has helped our local Red Cross Chapter, as well as the Farmers’ Market and a local street ministry. Bill hired those who were disadvantaged, and worked with them to develop job skills.  I have eaten at all three of his restaurants, on several occasions over the years.  I never met the man, but I saw his ethic at work and notice that there is a close camaraderie in each of the establishments.

People like Bill Tracy are the gold standard, combining social sense, business sense and deep character.   Many of us strive to develop one or another of these qualities, and make a good effort at it.  Bill had the drive and sense of constancy to keep up with the changes and chances of economic downturns-and was a force in establishing shelters and care programs for the homeless, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area.

He won’t return to Prescott, but I daresay his spirit will never leave this community.