The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 91: Clarion Call

2

August 30, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

Loud, unsettled people are entering the shelter.

The task is to remain calm, and centered,

with little personal time.

I am holding my own right now,

and finding a good spot for each

unique group

who settle in, at “my” shelter.

Things will be okay here,

in the long run.

Crossing The River

2

April 26,2020-

The forecast called for no more than two inches of rain, last week.

We planned to take the footbridge,

across the Avalon River.

Imagine everyone’s surprise,

when ten inches fell.

Officials told us,

to stay indoors,

as the flooding was uncontrollable,

and besides,

more rain was now

in the forecast.

Some headed out,

heedless of what

they regarded as

pointless interference.

Yet, the bridge was washed away.

A few took small boats.

Others tied one another to ropes,

and set out on foot.

Still others tried to swim across.

Then, there were those who

tried to pole vault,

or do parkour.

Some drowned,

others were thrown

against the rocks.

still others made it

across,

and developed hydrophobia.

I waited a week,

and saw the waters recede.

As I set out, life jacket in hand,

I heard the voices of  those

who stayed in their homes.

“Go back inside”, they shouted,

“there could be ten more inches,

next Tuesday!”

I kept on,

crossed in a sturdy boat,

and reached the opposite bank,

without incident.

(Tuesday came,

and brought three more inches

of rain.

In the aftermath,

the communities co-operated

and built a bridge,

string enough to withstand

a 1000-year deluge.)

 

Feet First, Again

8

April 3, 2019-

I began the work day ready to help keep our charges occupied, and relatively productive, as ever.  I ended the day, back in retirement mode- at least until I can get another position.  I chose to leave, after a brief pitch for me to take a position for which I am even less-suited than the one I have left behind.  I declined the offer, and the end game was set.

For all the platitudes that my co-workers and I have received, over the past two years, regarding loving and working with autistic children, there are people watching who do not have the best interests of those children in mind.  They are the ones who call the Governing Board, Human Resources-and the hapless school administrators.   I know this, because I once took the calls that my former boss has been getting.  I know this, because I heard the veiled threats and “you don’t know who you’re dealing with”- from individuals like the person who has been threatening me, personally, with the loss of my job, since last October.  I know this, because for refusing to take the earlier threats seriously, I was relieved of my position as Principal, in 1999, twenty years ago, this month.

So, it behooves my former supervisors to protect themselves.  Follow due process, but do not fall on your swords for others.  You are doing excellent work and deserve to remain in your leadership roles.  I will make my way, just fine, and being of “retirement age”, no one can come out of the woodwork, on the other side of the equation, and blast me for “not delivering”, as has happened a few times during my checkered career.  I will find work to tide me over until I hit 70, and, no, I will not heed the threats from last Fall.

My former co-workers remain like family and have already been in touch, wishing the best-as I do for them.

 

The Black Hand

4

March 30, 2019-

In the Planet Fitness where I work out, there is a large seat, shaped like a Black Hand, in each of the stations where a hydromassage bed is located.  It strikes me that this is a symbol of challenge, that there are always difficulties to be overcome, whether self-imposed or brought on by others.

I have had to do a lot of re-assessment, after a rough past few days.  What I have determined is that: 1.  I am going to make fitness a higher priority than it’s been, having shown that I can make time for a workout, even on the busiest of days.

2.  I am going to cut way back, if not eliminate, my appetite for pastries and other high sugar-based food items.  Neither having my cake nor eating it, at least for the last two months of work.

3.  Doubling down on avoiding violence, no matter how violently I might be attacked, either by one of my charges or anyone who is deranged.  My reaction, from now on, will  be to distance myself, until assistance is at hand, at least in the work setting.

4.  Being more mindful and present.  Neither Alzheimer’s nor Parkinson’s has knocked on my door, but problems have presented themselves, through a combination of fatigue and autism.  I have done better, today, and need to continue getting enough rest, so that there is no repeat of incidents on Thursday and Friday.  The same old story:  When I am challenged by an authority figure, when I’m in a fatigued state, I come out with a blather of telling the person what I think they want to hear and making myself look guilty of something that, in actuality, never happened.

5.  Tax returns are done and I have worked out a more efficient system of time management, so despite some of the above, things are on an upswing.

Jeju, Part 6: The Fox in the Cave, and the Peacocks Above- I

2

March 15, 2019, Hallim, Jeju-do-

We got out of Ga San Ho Bang, in relatively short order, this morning, as there was a fairly long drive ahead of us and breakfast had to be factored into the mix.  We went up Jeju’s west coast to Hallim, site of both yellow sand and lava beaches.

Settling on a small establishment that offered the abalone porridge I’d been craving for a day or so, my intrepid young hosts found themselves invited to cook their own eggs to order.

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Chefs for a morning

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Abalone porridge and tuk-pae-gi (seafood hotpot) were accompanied by side dishes.

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Below, is myok-guk, or Korean seaweed soup.

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Arriving at Hallim Park, a multivariate sampler of Jeju life, along with a rich botanical garden and aviary, we strode this blend of tropical and mountain flora.

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Before long, we entered Hyopjae-gul (cave), which Penny, Aram and I had visited once, when he was about a year old.  The first of three caves on this site, Hyop-jae is largely sedimentary rock.  Another cave on the route is made of lava.

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On this rock, which fell from the roof of the cave, one can see luminescence-from microorganisms that thrive on its surface.

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When we emerged from Hyopjae-gul, we were greeted by this small army of Stone Guardians.  The collection is one of the master works of Hallim Park’s founder, Song Bong-gyu.

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Mr. Song is still alive and working hard, to constantly improve his visionary work.

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Once past the dol-harubang collection, I decided to get a fuller view.

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I reflected on this message, as we walked.  I am in the prime of my life, right now, but there are always challenges to face, both internally, and from people who have floated in and out of my life.

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Mr. Song gathered these faceless stone guardians, perhaps as a reminder that there are always those around us who give away little of their thoughts and intentions.

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Yunhee is an example of a shining light, in the midst of darkness. This scene is in Ssangyong (Two Dragons) Cave, so named because legend has it that two great fire-breathers once lived here.

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I took photos in this cave, without using flash, so as to minimize disruption to the experience of our fellow visitors and to emphasize that there is a modicum of bio luminescence here.

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There is a legend of a certain Dr. Jin, who. as a child, chose to explore Ssangyong Cave, rather than go directly to school.  He found the company of a delightful young girl, who had a bead with which they played, as well as dancing about and singing.  Unbeknownst to him, the girl was actually a fox, which had shape-shifted in order to enchant Dr. Jin.  One day, young Jin swallowed the bead and found himself feeling quite ill. He encountered a man, outside the cave, who warned him that the girl was really this fox and that he would not be able to return to the cave.  Jin recovered and went on to become a legendary healer.

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With that, I leave you and will return with Part 2 of our Hallim Park adventure:  The Stone Art, Tropical Botanic Garden and Bird Park exhibits, as well as an indoor Stone Art collection.

The Fast: Day 14- Diet

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March 15, 2018, Prescott-

One of the challenges I used to face, when I first became a Baha’i and started fasting, was what sort of food and beverage intake would sustain me, through a normal day.  I did not want to be one of those who went through the workday, zombie-like, getting the shakes from not having my customary mid-morning coffee break, or small lunch.  I did not want to go home after work and slide into bed for the three hours that remained before dinner.

While my appetite has certainly gone down, especially in my sixties, here is what still works well:  Early morning  breakfast- Two proteins (Meat, cheese, yogurt or beans); two sources of complex carbohydrates (Organic bread, whole grain cereal); one serving of fruit; one serving of vegetable; two 8 oz. glasses of water, with a slice of lemon; coffee with milk or cream.  Post sunset dinner (One protein; one complex carb; a salad; a serving of fruit or frozen yogurt; a glass of water with lemon; coffee (black) or tea (herbal).

Sometimes, when I have been feeling that the fast, on a given day, seems too long, I will make room for tea made of puerh, or other digestive aid, which helps suppress the urge to turn to food as a distraction.

Baha’u’llah did not intend the Fast to be an endurance test, thus allowing those 70 years of age or above, to refrain from the dietary portion of the Fast.  Three years from now, I will still wake before sunrise and offer prayers and meditation, but not refrain from food and beverage.  There is a wisdom in this, allowing our bodies to be better equipped for the challenges that often come with advancing age.

I believe that diet is the best form of medical self-care.

The Fast: Day 5- Patience

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March 6, 2018,Prescott-

The realm can try and exhaust, one’s patience.

In times of light and darkness, though, patience

is exactly what must be summoned.

Some young ones push their elders,

and one another, to the limit.

Others are pushed to their limits,

by their elders.

What does one do,

on a day of fasting,

when challenges are tossed about,

like water balloons?

It becomes meditation time,

reflection upon the whims and fancies

of his own youth.

Seeing the way forward

to be one of forbearance,

he returns from the meditation time,

that supplants lunch during the Fast,

and vows to neither be tested

by others or be a test to them.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXIII: Duality

14

May 9, 2017, Prescott- 

I was ill, today.

It’s been a long time,

twenty years, in fact,

since I have been too ill

to go to work.

So, here I am,

having been in bed

most of the day.

Our bodies remind us

that we are dual creatures.

The physical frame lasts

longer for some,

than for others.

The spirit keeps on ticking,

regardless of the licking.

So, I slept, deeply,

and dreamed of my kids

working through their challenges.

When I get up,

to pray, to read the newspaper,

to get the mail, and to get in the car

and take care of an errand,

it felt like the weight of the world

was pressing down.

It’s not so much that way, right now.

My body will accept going to work,

the rest of the week.

Duality-

It’s like that with groups, too.

My team can be maddeningly fastidious,

about dots and tittles,

of student behaviour.

When I needed their understanding,

today, though,

the word was

“Get your rest,

we’ve got it all covered.”

That’s what I love most about life.

It works out, when essential.