Sept. Ides Notes

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September 15, 2022- The counter lady from the Window Glass repair shop called me, two hours after I had dropped KIA off, and deadpanned that the car was ready for pick-up. I walked over from downtown, and she gave me the keys, with a light smile and a neutral “Thanks for choosing us.” The place used to be a fun place with which to do business. Oh, well; at least the workmanship is still good. It’s nice to have a windshield that is whole again.

It was good that I decided to have breakfast at Raven Cafe, as my friend Melissa’s two daughters happened by, to get coffee. It’s always good to see them. Besides, the pancakes are great, and coffee excellent.

I made it to the Post 6 General Meeting, which I have not attended in some time. Nothing major was decided, but talking with a fellow Legionnaire about Baha’i was an unexpected pleasure. It affirmed what I said last night, during a Baha’i gathering, about not always making grandiose plans and expecting others to follow suit. The measure of Faith is in willingness to act, and in following the Will of the Divine.

I keep reading blurbs from mass media giants that tell us “You WILL vote ________________ in the coming election, because that’s how it’s always been.” Breaking news: I will vote the way I please, because THAT’S how I’ve always been.

I saw fit to shuffle a late October weekend event (Sedona) to early November, so as to attend a late October event somewhere else (Scottsdale). That, in turn, means Monument Valley/ Aneth (UT) shifts to mid-November. Thanksgiving plans are unaffected. I know you’re impressed, but that’s life.

Lastly, the huge file of keepsakes and old card/letters has been culled, and organized into more sensible sub-folders. The most important stuff remains here; the rest went to the Maxi-Shredder.

It’s been a fine day, all in all.

Triple Decker

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August 13, 2022, Lake Havasu City- One by one, friends of a young man whom I have known for about three years came filing through the door of the home he shares with his father, in this desert community overlooking the Colorado River. It is his thirtieth birthday. He allowed as how this was the biggest birthday bash he has ever had-and I would not have missed it for the world. He sees today as a confirmation of his change in mindset. This was bolstered by going around and asking each of us what one piece of advice we would offer him.

I admit, I don’t know what it feels like to have a birthday where no one attended the party. Even when it was just initially the three of us, others have always showed up and made the day festive. Not everyone is so fortunate-and God knows, there are those who get arrested, or even killed, on their “special day”. Thankfully, this has not happened to anyone I have known, save one person, back in the mid-90s. There are many who do, however, end up noting their birthdays nearly alone. Today’s celebrant was one of those, on several occasions, over the years.

Another aspect of this day is the marking of three decades. Often, the “Big Three-Oh” is a mark of maturity, or at least the glimmerings of such, in a person’s life. For me, back in 1980, it was the day when a woman in San Diego told me I didn’t need to try so hard, in starting a relationship. She was in a bond of her own, so was not dropping any hints-but she said I was more physically attractive and personable than I was allowing self to acknowledge. That was borne out, a week later, when I met Penny in Zuni, NM and my life changed-for the next thirty years, if not forever. My thirties, which my last landlady in Maine had told me, two years earlier, would be enjoyable, were also the period in which I shed a long-standing bugbear: Alcohol dependence; and changed the scope of my faith, from Catholic to Baha’i- more in keeping with my own belief in the essential unity of all people-and the wholeness of Creation.

I became a father, towards the end of the decade, and now our son is in his own thirties, a loving husband, a diligent student, and a man on the cusp of a senior rank in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He has a solid life plan, a tad more organized than I had at that age, and which is also flexible enough that no change in humanity’s fortunes can derail it.

So, I see my young friend also finding a viable path, one that he and his best friend here can navigate together, if they wish. I sense that his days of viewing the world though the half-empty glass, a worldview rooted simply in fear, are over and that his considerable gifts are going to bear fruit.

Life in one’s thirties is indeed a triple-decker, of knowledge, wisdom and meaningful action.

On Behaving Well in Groups

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August 5, 2022- The old friend could not, by all seeming, help himself. The rash of cuss words just flew off his tongue, for no particular reason other than that they came to mind. The women around us ignored the spate of profanity, and seemed to be in their own worlds. I kept my own diction in a socially acceptable framework, though I recognize that it may have been a good idea to gently and firmly ease him out of that pattern of speech.

It has been customary for parents to stress to their children that they must be polite at home, when visiting family, at a House of Worship, and in the neighbourhood. The best of parents have included school, eateries and stores in that regimen. The idea has been to build a good personal code of conduct. Not embarrassing one’s family has been a good deterrent for most, but not all.

In the Baha’i Teachings, and among others whose social consciousness is elevated, the idea of behaving well in groups, because it is a key feature of building a society based on the oneness of mankind, and because it helps build a listening culture, rather than a knee-jerk reacting culture.

I have come a long way, since 1980, in that regard, especially. There were lapses, between then and now, but they were made reparable by the culture of learning from one’s mistakes, by the qualified forgiveness of those I hurt and by the overarching power of said Teachings, which are to be applied personally, with minimal, if any, social pressure-yet have the force of practically reinventing a person, by stressing one’s strengths and letting weaknesses flow out and fade away.

I choose to act as a counterweight to boorish personalities, these days, while remembering all the times when I was one of them-and not wallowing in those memories.

Under A Gentle Mist

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July 26, 2022- I woke this morning, to a router/modem combo that was struggling to even fully load, and a candle pot that had somehow crashed to the floor and shattered, overnight. After cleaning up the pieces of ceramic and vacuuming the shards, I looked carefully at the device, and found its power supply was running very hot. So, the whole thing was unplugged and will remain so, until a technician from Sparklight comes over, tomorrow at some point. Thus do I write from the pleasant surroundings of Wild Iris Coffee House and will communicate with others, this evening, from Raven Cafe.

There is a misty rain in Prescott, this morning, a gentle reminder that, no matter how difficult things may seem at times, there is always a Guiding Hand that will help keep things on an even keel. Last night, as I walked from Bill’s Pizza, following a pleasant dinner served by a precious soul, I was approached by a longtime friend, who is a Youth Pastor. He asked my opinion on the political events of the past two years, then stated his disaffection with a certain defeated candidate for the presidency. My contention that any one of us can be dumb at times, but few are stupid, was reinforced by our conversation. My conservative friend has a good heart and a discerning mind.

I got a reasonable estimate from the auto body shop that I use here, so Saturn should be repaired, relatively easily, sometime in August, courtesy of the culpable party’s insurance company. In the meantime, it’s roadworthy and will get its welcome back oil & lube on Thursday.

Late August and early September will find me in Colorado and northern New Mexico, with a Baha’i school in Colorado Springs as the centerpiece. The second half of October will bring a visit to northern Nevada and eastern Idaho. I had considered a train ride to Sacramento, and renting a car from there, but the time and money required to drive up there is actually less than a train/rental car combination. So, once again, it’ll be Saturn and me going forth together. Thanksgiving will, most likely, be a Texas affair, with Christmas right here at Home Base, but more on those, later.

This is a community of very finely-tuned synchronicity. I left the coffee house, momentarily, to change parking spots, as there is a two-hour limit. Spotting an empty space in Iris’s lot, I went to the car, turned around and, lo and behold, the car in front of me got the empty space. Having been raised with a mindset of abundance, I pulled around the corner and found several spaces available. There is, most often, room for everyone in this world.

Wind In The Sails Again

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July 6, 2022, Brewster, NY- The mechanic of 36 years’ experience looked me in the eye, and begged to differ, about my intention to look around for a newer vehicle, sometime in the near future. “Senor, this vehicle’s engine, motor and frame are solid. One guy’s mistake, in not putting a gasket on the oil pan plug, led to that leak and whatever hit your oil pan could have hit any oil pan, even on a 2022 model. The rest of the stuff we did today is routine maintenance. That was a long drive you made, after all.”

All of that is true. It’s also true that a hybrid, or electric vehicle, uses less fossil fuel than a standard vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Much rubber will meet a few more roads, before the final decision on the matter is made.

In the meantime, I bid farewell to my mother, brother and sister-in-law, did not get to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law (but did enjoy a meatball grinder at Post Road Pizza, in their town of Marlborough) and had a fairly smooth drive, from Saugus to this lovely town in the uplands, east of the Hudson River.

There were traffic snags, in which I found myself. There was a long snarl, for opposing traffic, as I left Saugus. A construction project was tying up for the day, a landscaper had left his truck on the shoulder of the road, on our side, causing northbound traffic to have to use the southbound lane to go around it, which in turn required a police officer to direct the trade-off between the two flows. Further up, a second officer had to direct a trade-off between the two flows, around the project itself.

There was rush hour in the city of Worcester, which kept traffic along I-290 crawling along, for twenty-five minutes or so, with lane shrinkage helping tremendously. Then, at the Connecticut state line, an accident on I-84 southbound, involving at least two vehicles, tied up traffic for about forty minutes. Seven police cars, from both Massachusetts and Connecticut state patrols, the Tolland County Sheriff’s Office and the towns of Holland, MA and Union, CT, were on the scene, blocking the highway and safely coordinating the response to the incident. No word on any casualties. I could see a pickup truck in a ditch, with a young man standing outside it. That was al.

Waterbury, famous for its own traffic snarls, was pretty much clear, save a three-minute slowdown, west of town, due to a construction project that was winding down for the night. I was safely ensconced in my present room, at Comfort Inn, by 9:55. Plugging my laptop into an inactive wall outlet led to loss of connection to a Baha’i Zoom call, but noticing that it WAS an inactive outlet and moving to a live outlet, at least let me get the juice back. That was the lesson from North Sydney, NS.

Tomorrow, I will cross the Hudson, head over to Pennsylvania, stop at D’s Diner for lunch, then go down to a small town west of Philadelphia, visit family for a bit and make my pilgrimage to Oley, and Glick’s Greenhouse.

Loving the Balance

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June 18, 2022, Kingston, ON- I found myself here, near the shore of Lake Ontario, an underrated gem of a Great Lake, which I will visit briefly tomorrow, before driving to Montreal. It was a choice: Visit Kingston and get some down time tonight or plow on to Ottawa, have maybe three hours max in the capital city and “enjoy” what would eventually feel like a hamster wheel.

There is always a short-term financial balance to keep, and I at least have that down. I spent some time in London, this morning and early afternoon, in both business and sending out positive energy. Changing currency is a chore for many. I consider it an act of respect for the host country, for as long as we humans need to have different currency in each nation-or region (Euro Zone).

Another “business” action is joining online Baha’i gatherings. If I can do this, even from a distant location, and while maintaining silence, as is necessary in a public space, such as a coffee shop. then the energy shared across the space between locations is worth it.

Whenever I am off on one of these quests, suggestions come from well-intending friends and family. Invariably, unless the hint is close to my itinerary, either distance-wise or time-wise, I file it in the “later” sleeve. Ottawa will wait until another time; as will two or three days in Toronto, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and Quebec City (both of which I have visited), the Gaspe, Prince Edward Island (been there, also), the southern part of the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland, and St. Pierre & Miquelon, France’s last bit of “mainland” North America.

Time and spiritual energy determine the balance, and it is a many-splendoured thing.

Here are a few scenes from London’s marvelous Covent Garden Market- worthy of a place alongside Boston’s Faneuil Hall/Durgin Park, Seattle’s Pike Place and Chicago’s Navy Pier. I am sure many of you could add a dozen others to this list. Remember, I am referring here to London, Ontario. The Market was recommended to me by a bookseller, whose shop, City Lights. is across the street. He also suggested Saga Coffee House, just west of his shop. Both recommendations are spot on-as is the book store.

As I was working on my laptop, a little girl pointed out the lanterns and flowers, which she found “astonishing”. Yes, they certainly are!

Anna Turkiewicz is a Polish emigre, who runs this excellent old style delicatessen. She seemed a bit worn down, and shortly after I took my lunch order to the table, she took a break for herself. It is a hard row to hoe, this food business. Ontario apparently also has a coin shortage, and supply chain issues, much like on the American side of the border. I did what i could to be supportive.

The grounds are given some thought, by the City, as well. Here is a decorated lamp post.

There is much joy in keeping a balance.

Spirits Ever-Present

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June 5, 2022, Paulden- The four small children set the tone for the afternoon and evening, as they always do, when I visit their family home. Of course, adult conversations flowed, and went around the little rocks that sat firm in the stream of consciousness, acknowledging their presence, their concerns and their moods. Such is the way, at Dharma Farm.

My day began with a reading of the Sunday Arizona Republic, knowing that my involvement with the print edition of the newspaper will be coming to an end soon-my journeys, and the duties that will face me locally, will only accelerate in the days and months ahead.

Celebrating the Feast of Light-one of nineteen spiritual observances, during the year, that bring us Baha’is together in devotions, consultation and fellowship, was done in person, late in the morning and around Noon. We have been observing these occasions virtually, for nearly two years, give or take a couple of random in-person gatherings, during a perceived lull in the pandemic. The disease continues to hover, over our heads and in the background, infecting more people with mild cases. Outdoor gatherings, however, seem less problematic, and so it was, this morning, in the lovely back yard of some friends.

In the afternoon, I gathered surplus garden tools, relieving my storage shed of some of its excess, took along a bag of small gift items for the children and headed up the road to Dharma Farm. The Universe, it seems, lets us all know when our time for gathering is right. The family and their crew of four had spent the past two months sowing, planting trees and working on the restoration of Whispering Winds, Dharma’s predecessor in the Verde Valley, well east of here, whose core building and energy were transported to this sacred spot. One of WW’s principal residents came by for a visit today, as well, expressing gratitude that the essence of his former home was being preserved.

The day proceeded, as a couple worked with one of the children to put together a fabulous stew. The rest of us conversed, walked the grounds and took in the shade of afternoon. Each of the tools I brought will aid their efforts and the value of the coins will set the children on a journey to the independence-and interdependence, being imparted them by their parents. Watching and listening to the little people, I am comforted, reassured, by their gentle energy, wisdom and nascent collaborative skills. There is sharing, asking one another for permission and just a general acknowledgement of one another’s dignity. These are the gifts that come from their parents, and are reinforced by the crew members, who have bonded so well with the children. It was fitting that our after-dinner activity was putting together a jigsaw puzzle, selected by the three-year-old, with three teams working on sections. A mellow circle of conversation in the glow of sunset followed, topped off by a carefully-tended fire pit, that saw us into the night.

The spiritual energy of those who surround us, despite having left their bodies behind, guides days like this, indeed guides all days. For that, I am greatly reassured and comforted.

Embracing the Whole

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June 4, 2022- This was a day for traveling the spectrum. Breakfast at Zeke’s was a time for recognizing that there will be a lot more to bringing about a Green Energy program than just cutting fossil fuel use on paper. Electric vehicles need those same fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, at least for now. I won’t argue the need to cut down on widespread use of fossil fuels. Towards that end, I am keeping my own vehicle in the best condition. Eventually, I will either get a hybrid or alt-fuel vehicle or live somewhere where a vehicle is not necessary.

Mid-day, a group of us discussed building vibrant communities and contributing to social transformation. These themes can only be realized by bringing people together, across points of view and by building on common ground. This is not as trite as many people seem to think, but it does entail some consistent hard work. Baha’is believe that consultation entails listening to what might, at first blush, seem objectionable points of view, and though we do not support those practices which would harm others or deny human rights, the mere expression of a viewpoint does not, in and of itself lead to tyranny. Once a point of view is expressed, it should be regarded as no longer the property of the person who expressed it, but as belonging to the group.

The final part of the day was spent helping a group of progressives at a community picnic. There were several booths, which highlighted such themes as registering to vote, banning Dark Money in political campaigns and tightening restrictions on sales of firearms to those assessed as mentally ill. I will help any group that is about the betterment of society and the preservation of Human Rights-which are God-given rights. I didn’t have to do much , but helping to break down the event was much appreciated. I even re-united a woman with her open-toed sandals.

Helping to transform society will be a lengthy process, requiring patience and perseverance- as well as an imperturbable open-mindedness.

Luck

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May 13, 2022, Blythe- This morning, I joined a Baha’i study circle which is concerned with the thirteenth book, in a series published by Ruhi Insititute, a social-centric academy in Colombia. Since 1985, R.I. has published study books, in text and workbook form, focusing on topics from “The Life of the Spirit” to “Marriage and the Family”. This particular session, in which I am now involved, is studying the Baha’i approach to Social Action. As it happens, we began with Section 13 of this Book 13 ( Unit 1), on Friday the Thirteenth.

I will have more to say about the Baha’i approach to Social Action later. Suffice it to say, we take all points of view into account, distilling the most useful of ideas into programs that benefit everyone.

Cosmic advisor Elizabeth Peru notes that today is the only Friday the 13th of this calendar year. Some will breathe a sigh of relief, as a common superstition in medieval Europe, that 13 is an unlucky number, has carried over into contemporary life. There is still no 13th floor, in many public buildings. Friday the Thirteenth is often the stuff of anxiety, and even has its own horror movie series.

My day was quite one of good fortune. Besides the rich and informative study circle, a package I was expecting arrived right at Noon; packing for a brief trip to southern California took less time than expected; the smooth drive itself showed good gas mileage and I settled into a remodeled Relax Inn, my go-to stop in this desert town, on the Arizona border. My needs are fairly simple, and truth be known, Friday the 13th has never been unlucky, in my experience.

It’s a tough world, I know, and my work will continue, to ease as much pain as possible, for those who suffer. Removing superstitions from our lives is one way to help.

Lines of Guidance

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March 11, 2022- The focal points of my day were two: The beginning of a weekly study on the Baha’i principles regarding social action, which entail both ground-up and engagement of all elements, and a review of Astro Cartography, as it pertains to how planetary forces were aligned at the time of my birth and how that has effected my life, ever since.

I will have more to say on the former, as weeks go by, and we get more deeply into the transformation of our planet from a hotbed of contention to a home for all. That, of course, is a process that will far outlast the earthly life of anyone alive today, but begin we have.

Regarding Astro Cartography and how it affects my life now, there are places where my life draws more challenges and responsibilities and places where life draws relaxation and comfort. I seem to have chosen to live in more challenging environments, over the years, including my present Home Base, according to the chart. I can’t say I have all that many regrets, and Prescott will remain my base for some time to come.

The chart says there are places where I can be more relaxed and other places where I have to watch my back. This is based on lines of planetary bodies’ ascent and descent, in the skies above, and in terms of their energy. I don’t claim to really understand it all yet, but I can say that in certain places, the energy has seemed more heavy and elsewhere it has been light as a feather. There are places to which I have been drawn that have a festive atmosphere, others that are more instructive and still others that are both.

This tool is one of the things I ought to consult, going forward, as is my daily meditations and, in the final analysis, conditions on the ground on a particular day. The latter particularly pertains to places to which I feel drawn, on the spur of the moment, but for which travel arrangements need to be made months in advance-Phantom Ranch, in the Grand Canyon, for example, or the Dry Tortugas, at the southwest end of Florida. (The most remote areas attract crowds, which is understandable, given our species’ need to push all manner of personal frontiers.)

In the end, being peaceful and content, where one happens to be, is the best springboard for any journey.