My Gratitudes

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November 28, 2019-

A year ago, my shoulder was getting better and my left knee, injured by what seemed to be a psychic attack, as I walked down a short, routine set of stairs, was also well on the mend. The “woo-woo” aside, my health has been fabulous this year.  I am grateful to do Terra essential oils, hemp-based CBD cream, a team of physical therapists, my dental team in Phoenix, Planet Fitness and my chiropractor for helping me maintain that fabulous.

My family has been extraordinarily gracious and generous this year, as always.  Being with Aram, Yunhee and the Shin family, on the occasion of their Baha’i wedding, and the travels around southern South Korea that followed, remains the greatest of blessings.

My Baha’i community and other dear friends, around Prescott, continue to keep me grounded.  Those whose aim was to bring me down also had a role to play. Rearranging my priorities this year, has only made my life richer and more satisfying.

Prescott, and Arizona as a whole, continue to be inspiring, good hosts.  I never tire of the view of Thumb Butte, from my front window or of any of the exquisite scenes that unfold, no matter which direction I go.

My many friends and family, across the United States, and beyond, are ever present and encouraging, even if we rarely, or never, see one another in person.  I am grateful to have spent time with some, from California to Massachusetts and in-between, over the past twelve months.

Being ever expansive in my view of the world, visiting new places and making new friends is always a plus.  I found new perspectives on Albuquerque, Memphis, Charleston, Raleigh, the Eastern Shore and Delaware, West Point, Pittsburgh, Chicago/Wilmette, Kansas City and Los Angeles, over the past twelve months. Youth hostels, Airbnb and the comfort of friends’ and family homes made all the difference.

Time in nature is always huge, in my life.  The Centenary of Grand Canyon National Park saw me visit both North and South Rims.  The Navajo Nation’s Coal Mine Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Window Rock  and Monument Valley ever warm my heart.  Being in New Mexico’s El Malpais was a comfort, after a case of food poisoning upended my Father’s Day.  There were meanders along the banks of the Mississippi and above the Goosenecks of the San Juan River; focused exploration of  Utah’s Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments, Lake Powell’s Wahweap area and the urban solace of Los Angeles’ Venice Canals re-affirmed who I am,at my core.

The greatest gratitudes are reserved for what is ongoing:  My mother’s continued presence in our lives, my little family returning to the United States, having three of the finest people as my siblings, my Faith in God being reaffirmed, each day, and my physical, financial and mental health remaining optimal.

Thank you, 2019, for having been, and remaining, a space of strength and comfort.

Warm, Cold and Somewhere In-between

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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.

 

A Temple and Its Concentric Circles

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July 13-14, 2019, Wilmette-

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I have made it a practice, when going back and forth across North America, to stop at least once at the Baha’i House of Worship, in this leafy North Shore suburb of Chicago.  Often, it is only for two or three hours, before I’m off again, to whatever awaits.  This time, though, I took an Airbnb room, near Wilmette’s Village Center, the better to meet with a trusted friend at her convenience.

The House of Worship is, rightfully, a point of pride for Wilmette’s residents, regardless of their faith, or lack thereof.  The town has a full complement of Christian denominations and an active Jewish temple, as well as several Muslims.  My host, an Iranian-American, who is not a Baha’i, spoke well of our Faith and of the Temple.

My day started, in Wrigleyville, with my helping the most vibrant of the group of hostelers, whom I mentioned yesterday, to charge her phone.  The Hostel’s breakfast master whipped up some incredible pancakes and waffles. Then came the navigation from the parking garage I used, to curbside near the hostel.  A distance of two blocks required me to go around Cape Horn, figuratively speaking.  At one point, I stopped, twice, at the same STOP sign, then inched forward, only to be chastised by a traffic control officer for not stopping a THIRD time.  No ticket ensued, after his partner rolled her eyes at him and signaled me to turn.  That’s Chicago traffic, though, and never anything personal.  A police officer at another spot let me turn onto Sheffield, and I found the perfect spot for loading my car back up.

No freeway was necessary, going to Wilmette.  U.S. 41 North gives one a  nice slice of Chicago’s northwest side, at a leisurely pace, without a humongous amount of traffic, of a Saturday morning.  A fine lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, amongst an eclectic crowd, set a fine mood for the rest of the drive to my evening’s abode.  The ambiance is as important to me as the food itself.  Listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Sunshine of Your Love” was a bonus.

Above a Persian carpet shop sits a modest apartment.  There, I took the spare room, and headed up to the House of Worship.  My focus, after prayers and meditation, is always on the gardens, which surround the Temple, on each of its nine sides.  I have shown these, in detail, in earlier posts.  Here, though, is a small sample.

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This is the North Shore Channel, which empties into Wilmette Harbor, between the House of Worship and Gillson Park, which has the village’s lovely beach.

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I availed myself of two restaurants here in Wilmette: Ridgeview Grill, which I visited last summer, gave the same excellent fare and service on Saturday night; Walker Brothers Pancake House offered the finest of Sunday breakfasts. (Yes, San Diegans, your very own Richard Walker is a member of this family, and his superb Pancake House is a West Coast extension of the Wilmette establishment, which also has six other branches around Chicagoland’s North Shore.).Suffice it to say, I am getting spoiled by two days in a row of great pancakes.

With breakfast done, and 10 a.m. rolling around, I bid farewell to my host, J., and headed over  to the House of Worship, to meet my friend. On the way, I encountered a crew fixing a broken water main, so prayers were offered for that situation as well.  The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette (1953) was the second such Temple ever built, the first being in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1908). (It was confiscated by the Soviets, in the 1920’s, then was destroyed by an earthquake.  The property remains vacant, under Turkmenistan government control.)  There are now seven other Baha’i Houses of Worship – one for each continuously-inhabited continent, plus one in Samoa and one in Panama.  National and Regional Baha’i Temples are being built, in several places around the globe.  Each House of Worship is open to all, regardless of Faith.

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Wilmette, this time, felt a lot more like home.  The ripples of love and acceptance are radiating outward from this truly divine edifice.