Starting at Home


January 27, 2019- 

One of  my mother’s favourite sayings, “Charity begins at home”, was made a basis for many of my actions, as a child and as a teen.  Nothing was made, or done, that wasn’t shared with family, on some level.

So it is, also, with conservation- as the late John McCain was also fond of saying.  A few weeks ago, during the height of the ill-fated shutdown, I went up to Sunset Crater National Monument, to see if I might help with a clean-up.  It turned out not to be necessary, though there was a mess, on Federal land, some twenty miles west.  Others took care of that clean-up.

With the shutdown over, however temporarily, I decided to take some time, after a study session this afternoon, and check a popular local trail, Lynx Lake, for residual clean-up that might be needed.  I was thanked by a few other hikers, especially accepting three pooper bags in my larger trash bag.  It was rather cute, that a lone duck followed me in the water, as I walked along the north shore, collecting a few plastic bottles.  It was almost as if it knew that the toxic items were being removed.  Long story short, I put a half-filled trash bag in the dumpster of the  south beach.

It was a minor effort, in the scheme of millions of acres of Federal land needing attention, after the lengthy hiatus.  I can only hope that there were thousands of others stepping up and doing their part, with there being way too much to be done, as it is, by those returning to work.  I think of the first National Historic Site I ever visited:  Saugus Ironworks, of the most extensive I’ve ever seen:  Grand Canyon and of the park I visited most recently for the first time:  Valley Forge.  Then, there is Arlington National Cemetery; today would have been the 95th birthday of my father-in-law, who is interred there, along with his wife.

I can only hope there are no more shutdowns of government, but if there are, I know to be ready to help, as a citizen.

The Light Switches Channels


December 11, 2018, Arlington, VA.- 

The day broke, cold but sunny, as twenty family members gathered, to say farewell to their mother figure, who had struggled, her last six years on Earth, to maintain a say in what went on with her life, and those of her beloved children and grandchildren.

Ruth Faust Fellman had to deal with her own failing health, thankfully being aided, day to day,  by a dedicated youngest daughter, a team of paraprofessionals and other family members as we were able to visit, at least now and then.

She left the struggle behind, in late October, with her spirit and her family waiting patiently, one more time, as this day of interment approached.  She will rest with her husband of 64 years, on both this earthly plane and in the spirit realm.  We who remain in the state of “waking”, physical activity know that truly being awake entails life far beyond what we know here.  “Bunny”, her husband (my father-in-law) and their oldest daughter (my wife) are watching us, and helping more than we sometimes realize.

After the Jewish burial service, we the mourners quickly parted company, all except me leaving Arlington, for their homes.  I stayed behind, with my flight back to Arizona not scheduled until tomorrow.  Dinner with a friend, in midtown Washington, would take up the slack, somewhat, and give me an excuse to spend at least a few hours in the nation’s capital.

My main reason for being here, though, was accomplished and Mom’s ninety-two years of service to family and community were suitably honoured.  The tombstone shown below will soon be replaced, by one that pays homage to both husband and wife. I will continue, as she admonished, to give back.



The Unbreakable Thread


December 3, 2018, Prescott-

This evening, I made arrangements to attend next week’s services for my mother-in-law.  It will be my second visit to that gravesite, in Arlington National Cemetery, and all the more important, because I will be representing my son, as well as myself.  I will be honouring the people who have gave me the love of my life and who have given me the seeds of financial security- seeds that I have to plant and start to make grow, a few weeks hence.

Real family is an unbreakable thread, even when someone doesn’t understand, and tries to snip it, out of fear, anger, frustration or whatever negative emotion is in the recesses of their heart.  I have been very fortunate, in that respect. Even those in my extended family, and circle of friends, who roll their eyes at some of the things that come out of my mouth or find their way onto the pages of my sites, have, with  few exceptions, stayed with me. I will, as I have said frequently, stay by them as well.

The Road to 65, Mile 33, Part II: The Gate Stayed Open


December 31, 2014, Prescott-  When I returned to North America, on 6/29/14, I had the pleasure of a long and varied conversation with a fascinating young lady from Montreal, who is a baker by trade.  The flight back was thus energizing, rather than draining.

July- I spent the first week of July visiting family in the Boston area.  My brother, SIL and I took in a Red Sox game on July 2, which was as marvelous an experience as the team itself was awful, in its play. Fenway Park and the surrounding area are old enough to be somewhat a cross, to me, between old Europe and the modern U.S.  Our fireworks, two days later, were rained out, but some local youths tried anyway- so we had some sky colours.  Going back to Phoenix was an experience.  I ended up staying overnight in Charlotte, as the plane out of Boston was delayed for six hours, due to some problem in Miami, of all places.  At least this way, I didn’t get to Phoenix at 1:30 A.M., so the Universe was looking out for me, in an oblique way.

August-  The interment of my father-in-law’s remains, in Arlington National Cemetery, brought me back to the East Coast, at the beginning of the month, for four days. This was the least a grateful nation could do for him.  I also visited several war-related places on the National Mall, and the 9/11 Memorial west of the Pentagon.

In a rustic camp, west of Prescott, a group of us formed a well-running team, serving Slow Food Prescott’s 50-Mile Dinner,consisting entirely of ingredients from within a fifty-mile radius of our town.

September- In the middle of the month, I drove from Prescott to Salt Lake City, for an annual convention.  Staying in a cheap, Baha’i-owned motel and scrimping where I could, got me through this time, and still I got a  lot out of the convention itself.  Driving all the way back home, in one fell swoop, though, is probably something I would prefer to avoid in the future.

October-  There is very little I won’t do for my son, the only responsibility I really still have, outside of self-care.  When he called, in July, and said I was on the list to take part in the ship’s return cruise, from Honolulu to San Diego, I got the paper work done, made flight arrangements to Honolulu, and enjoyed  1 1/2 days in that exquisite city.  Waikiki, Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor were each every bit as fascinating as others had said.  The cruise itself was 6 1/2 days, and I learned much about day-to-day shipboard life and about the many hues of blue and aquamarine that are visible from the deck.  After a short few days in San Diego and Crystal Cove State Beach, I drove home, exhausted and just wanting to be in Prescott again.

November-  The month was quiet, until  Thanksgiving weekend.  I went back to San Diego, enjoyed the holiday with Aram and a friend, in Julian, and celebrated my 64th, in low-key fashion, visiting La Jolla and enjoying a Korean lunch.

December- Western New Mexico was where Penny and I first met, 34 years ago, in the Pueblo of Zuni.  I had a salubrious visit to some of our old favourite spots:  El Morro National Monument, with ancient Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs/inscriptions of several time periods and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with its myriad sandhill cranes and raptors.  The town of Truth or Consequences, named for a 1940’s and ’50’s radio/TV show, was a lovely revelation.  Its Old Town, centered around the original hot springs resorts, kept me fascinated to the point where my original plan, of visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings, was put off until another date.  Paying respects to the Apache chief Cochise was accomplished, as was Christmas Eve and Day with some friends who had moved to the Tucson area, from Oklahoma.  The 30th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference was a fitting end to this most filling of years. We got eight inches of snow, on New Year’s Eve.  I rang in the new, by watching Prescott’s midnight fireworks, from my front porch.

An Eastward Homage, Epilogue: Arlington and DC


August 3-4, 2014, Washington, DC- No sooner had I landed in Phoenix on July 7, than I received an e-mail that my Father-in-Law’s interment at Arlington National Cemetery would be August 4. It didn’t take long for my airline and hotel reservations to be made, and a budget drawn up for the four days I’d be gone.

I used to live at Fort Myer, VA, in the days when I was an Army postal cerk. I was always challenged by the Third Infantry sentry at North Gate, to tidy up this wrinkle or straighten that fatigue cap.  They never liked my hair, which was understandable, since none of them ever got to have any.

Pop was laid to rest in Arlington, on schedule-actually, three months posthumously, but it was a scheduling issue, and the ceremony was dignified and befitting of his service.  I don’t take photographs at funerals.  I did, however, have the waiter at Sky Lounge, Doubletree Crystal City, take a couple of family photos at our Sunday night dinner.  BIL (in ball cap) pronounced the photo useless, but hey, can see his smiling face, just fine.


Earlier in the day, I meandered around Washington, DC, visiting a few old haunts from the Capitol grounds to mid-Pennsylvania Avenue to the southern edge of the National Mall.  Here are a few of the scenes, which I found preserved on a different SIM card than the one I thought I’d used.

The Capitol is closed on Sunday, but the grounds are worth a visit, in and of themselves. The Empty Edifice does look grand from the outside, and across a Reflecting Pool.


Here a few other views from the south lawn.



Then, I went around to the north side.


In light of recent events at the White House, this barrier from 2001 seems more prudent than ever.  Of course, the Capitol is not exactly frenetic with activity right now.


I spent some time at the United States Botanic Garden, the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithson Castle, and along the National Mall.  The Garden will be the topic of an ‘appendix”,next post.  At the American Indian facility, I focused on the Indians of Central America. I had read about Minor Keith and United Fruit Company, and the sacrifices forced on the indigenous people of Guatemala.  Ironically, Keith’s smiling face is featured in an exhibit on “Benefactors of the Smithsonian”.  So, at least some of his money went into preserving the very culture he saw fit to plow under.  Below, is the entrance to the building.


Here is an homage to those instances when Europeans and Native Americans got along. Since I have ancestors on both sides of that fence, I only wish the Europeans had been a bit less hasty in seeking “assimilation” of the indigenous folks.


A second spot I visited briefly was Smithson Castle, the original facility of the Smithsonian Institution, now a Visitor Center for the entire complex.




Washington is second to none, with its gardens.  The verdure outside the Castle is a prime example.



I paid my respects at the World War II Memorial, especially important, given the circumstances of my visit.



Constitution Garden, a misnomer at present, seemed to be calling to Congress to address its condition.


I paid my respects, privately, at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, then went by the Korean War Memorial (below).


A good long-term remedy to constant warfare is a proper education.  Washington has had some good schools, and some mediocre.  This was the first public school in the nation’s capital.


On July 4, 2007, Penny and I had the bright idea of taking our son to the National Mall, and hopefully viewing the fireworks.  The weather was horrible, the Mall was evacuated, and in trying to get my wheelchair-bound wife out of the rain, I met a fair amount of resistance from “security” along Massachusetts Avenue.  We finally found refuge, at the White House Visitor Center.


The last place I stopped in Washington, on August 3, was the DC Africa Festival.  This year marked the third year of this lively event.


As is my wont, I will post two more pieces to this series:  United States Botanic Garden and the Pentagon Memorial.