The Hotel Project, Day 12

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October 6, 2020, Dallas-

In the end, the world held together.

Everyone facing forced relocation from the hotel was granted an extension-until the passage of Hurricane Delta; one lady was reunited with her clothing and another with her cellular phone; a young man mocked the mission of the Red Cross and was met by Mama Grizzly, our team leader, defending both her staff and our charges; everyone was fed and all the children were comforted; there was, however, no Pet Parade.

On this roiling and ever-changing day, we, Team Anatole, held our ground and were fortunate to be able to reassure the beleagured ones in our midst, that their world was being held together. They will be safe and sound, and they will formulate their own plans for going forward. The chrysalis will prove to have been a good place for emergence. The crucible will be viewed as a worthy vessel, from which a far greater community will energe.

For five of us, the Hotel Project has come to an end. The rest of the team, including our replacements, will press on, and finish the work, caring for the refugees, until every last storm victim is either relocated within Texas or has returned to Louisiana to rebuild home and fortune.

I saw snippets of events in the wider world, and that little has changed. I continue to pray for all who suffer from COVID-19, for those who offer themselves as leaders and for all who are deluded, in one direction or another. Prayers also, go out for those who are suffering in place.

I have no money to give to suffering Africans and South Asians, or anyone else, for that matter. I also ask for nothing, FROM anyone else. Love, though, goes out on abundance, and that is what truly matters.

See you again tomorrow.

The Hotel Project, Day 11

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October 5, 2020, Dallas-

I get that the president wants to get back to his work. I am also one to be looking at finishing what I start. One of our coworkers is sidelined by illness, which may or may not be COVID19. None of the rest of us are showing symptoms, though, so it could be something entirely different. The same thing happened in Alexandria, and the one person was quarantined-with the rest of us not becoming infected.

We resolved the missing clothing problem, from last week and a very happy, relieved client was reunited with her wardrobe. Several others began to take ownership of their short-term futures, though the human aversion to change was evident, among many of the people.

There is, on balance, an appreciation for what Red Cross has done for the communities in southern Louisiana, with none of the agitation by the Far Right that followed Hurricane Harvey, in 2017. The organization is committed to continuing to work WITH the people and communities of the region, as they face both return to the area and yet another hurricane, this coming weekend. Many have said, flat-out, that they will relocate to Texas, permanently. I’m sure many more will choose to move elsewhere, once the fullness of the hurricane season is through.

Tomorrow is the last full day of deployment and Wednesday will be a transit day. Both will be full of activity and change.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 12: Holding My Own

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September 20,2020-

Three twenties in a row brought a few challenges with them. Someone who has enjoyed calling me out, on my perceived flaws, over the past few months, finally took my patience over the edge and has been banned from these sites. I’m sure the individual will show up, anonymously, just to prove that I have poor Internet security, but no matter.

Simply put, it is more imortant to me that the vast majority of people of good will may access these posts, than that I have airtight computer security, with a passphrase that has 100 characters, and is changed every five days. I have taken steps to minimize, if not eliminate, hacking- without taking on cybersecurity as a second job.

It was, otherwise, a very nice penultimate day of Summer, 2020. Two lovely Zoom-based devotionals-one honouring the late Helen Hamilton, about whom I wrote a memorial post, two weeks ago and the other honouring Race Unity, graced the morning and early afternoon.

It looks like a street fair that was to have taken place across the street from me was COVID canceled. I also had a rain check given me for a visit with friends north of here, as food canning took precedence for them.

This week brings what will pass for the start of Autumn, a dental check-up, anda possible second Red Cross deployment. September is not what is known as a “power month”, but it has called on me to sharpen a few skills of discernment and forebearance.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 88: It’s Like Arm Wrestling

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August 27, 2020, Alexandria, LA-

We heard the freight train coming through, around 2:30 A.M. There were lulls and uproars, from then on, continuously until 12 Noon. The subsiding of the winds was followed by occasional showers, for much of the afternoon. The power went out, and with it the Internet, thus the lateness of this and the preceding post.

We also found that water was shut down, as the city’s pumping station had lost its power, as well. I am expecting that the potability of the water will be non-existent, for several days after the flow is restored. Thankfully, we at the Coliseum shelter have an abundance of bottled water.

Facing the hurricane, along with keeping COVID-19 in mind, is a lot like arm wrestling, against a tag team. Both arms need to be in motion- and that’s a strange feeling. Our efforts continue and the team is, if anything, tighter as we go forward. Clients are also a strength, keeping one another in a heart embrace, and showing appreciation for our efforts as well.

It’s hot here, when the power and AC are off, as they were for most of today. As we were about ready to turn in for the night, the two comforts came back on. I am confident that we can get any other issues resolved, as they come up.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 68: Staying Authentic

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August 7, 2020-

There is a fact of life, especially in today’s America, that owning one’s viewpoint, life choices and spirituality comes at a cost. There are always going to be those who think they know your needs better than you yourself know them. Being in charge of own life is not a cakewalk. Others, especially online, will appear, with demands, expectations and preferences, which may or may not dovetail with what one has planned.

You may say, “Well, isn’t that how it is, in ANY social situation?” Yes, and with seven billion and umpty-ump million people on the surface of the Earth, it will get more intensely so. The fact remains, however, that at the end of the day, it is whether I can look in the mirror and honestly say that I lived the day in a state of integrity, hopefully tempered with humility, that makes the day well-spent, or not.

I have been questioned, recently, as to why I might agree with points raised by conservatives, on one day; then agree with points raised by progressives, another day. The answer is easier than it looks. Neither group is qualitatively engaged in refuting the other’s points, with regard to those points with which I am agreeing. For example, if I say an unborn child ‘s life is worthy of EVERY reasonable effort at maintaining its efficacy, that does not mean I am advocating vicious hounding of a woman who is heading into an abortion clinic. In reality, that person should not be HOUNDED or pressured by EITHER faction in the matter. She should be enveloped, bathed, in love and have all options presented to her, in a pressure-free, NON-MERCENARY atmosphere.

If someone asks me to approve or disapprove of the current sitting President, I can honestly say I approve of his work in stemming the trafficking of women and children. I honestly approve of his working with the governments of Latin American countries, in stopping the flood of people from out of those countries and stemming the influence and aggressive behaviour of gangs-especially in Central America. There are other policies of his, of which I vehemently disapprove- such as the sending of a large corps of armed DHS agents into some of our cities-without first coordinating the effort with local governments. That situation seems to be getting more consultation-based. The COVID-19 response is a whole other can of worms-and much of the difficulty lies in both individual mindsets and in the diversity of local situations, across the country-but I digress.

Essentially, my life is not meant to be lived by going about and seeking to be a font of agreement, with each person, on each issue. I have, however, the conviction that each person who crosses my path does have points to offer, that may well be of help, in making my life more authentic. This life is still a work in progress, as is everyone else’s.

My Faith will remain as is; my heart for people will stay in place; my mind will remain flexible, as we have learned that anything can happen.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 60: Hermanator,Derailment and An “Inside Job”

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July 30, 2020-

Herman Cain died this mornng, the victim of , apparently, the after effects of Coronavirusdisease 19 on his vital organs. He was, by all accounts, a still robust man. This underscores the reason for every one of us to continue to take this NOVEL disease seriously, and consistently so.

COVID-19 is infecting some high profile people, across the political spectrum. Microbes do not care who you are, or who you think you are. “The Hermanator” was a colourful human being, a pizza magnate who, at one point, thought he might make a fine President of the United States. His worldview was not my worldview, by any means, yet his death diminishes us-because he was, in essence, a man of love.

Now, as his family and friends mourn his passing, let those who were with him, at the event which likely was the scene of his infection, take stock of their own health-as we all must.

This news just added to the residue of yesterday. Early Wednesday morning, a loaded freight train, passing through Tempe, Arizona, went off the rails. The friction set the wooden bridge, over which the train was passing, afire. The bridge collapsed, several cars tumbled off the bridge and into a vacant park. Some other cars hung from the edge, over a major parkway.

Fortunately, there was no loss of life, and the sole injury was to the train’s conductor: Smoke inhalation. Police and fire crews responded swiftly, spectators who were in harm’s way were removed from the area and the few joggers, walkers., cyclists and boaters who were at nearby Tempe Town Lake had the good sense to stop their activities and head for home.

This was the second derailment on that bridge, in little over a month. The first one, on June 27, was underreported and it is not clear whether Santa Fe Railroad, which owns the bridge, even had plans to address the issue. Now, they have no choice.

The larger question, as with bridge collapses in other places, over other rights of way, is: How widespread is this issue? How many other railroad bridges, across the country and across the planet, are outmoded, decrepit, unsafe? It is time for ALL rail companies, not just Santa Fe Railroad, to start assessing the tensile strength of their bridges.

Finally, the matter of the torching at Arizona Democratic Headquarters, on July 26, has an update: A registered Democrat has admitted, nay, BOASTED, of having set the fire. This was not aimed at framing conservatives or alt-Right people, as some had speculated. The perpetrator is a mentally ill man, who has a recent history of making delusional statements and excessive demands on certain people, including the Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, which also had offices in the same building.

The investigation, of course, is ongoing. As is this day, which will, among other things, feature the unsealing of some of the documents pertaining to the case of alleged sexual predator, Ghislaine Maxwell. July is far from over.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 46: Where To?

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July 16, 2020- Today is the birthday of one of my best friends, so I will be in her luxuriant garden, later this afternoon, honouring her with gifts and exchanging stories.

As is well known, I am choosing to stay around Prescott for most, if not all of the summer-and am not going outside of Arizona, barring an emergency, until at least mid-October.

Nonetheless, I think it perfectly fine, if people in places less affected by COVID than we are, get out and enjoy salubrious places in their home states. Travel further afield is, in most cases, best saved for less infested times.

So, in the interests of such travel, here are my own top two favourites for in-state jaunts. Many of them, I’ve visited; others are the favourites of friends.

Starting here and working outward:

Arizona- Thumb Butte; Texas Canyon

Southern California- Carbon Canyon; Julian

Northern California- Point Reyes; Lassen Volcanic NP

Nevada- Valley of Fire; Cathedral Gorge

Utah- Natural Bridges; Bryce Canyon

Colorado- El Dorado SP; Seven Falls

New Mexico- Taos; Sandia Crest

Oregon- Crater Lake; Bandon

Washington- Neah Bay; Leavenworth

Alaska- Sitka; Talkeetna

Hawaii- Volcanoes NP; Kauai

Idaho- Hell’s Canyon; Craters of the Moon

Montana- Glacier National Park; Bob Marshall Wilderness

Wyoming- Grand Teton NP; Spirit Tower (“Devils Tower”)

North Dakota- Peace Garden; Theodore Roosevelt NP

South Dakota- Black Elk Peak; Badlands NP

Nebraska- Scotts Bluff National Monument; Henry Doorly Zoo

Kansas- The Hollow Park,Sedan; Flint Hills

Oklahoma- Lakes of the Cherokees; Black Mesa

Texas- Falls of the Pedernales SP; Palo Duro Canyon

Louisiana- North Side of Lake Pontchartrain; Bayou La Batre

Arkansas- Crater of Diamonds; Petit Jean State Park

Missouri- Lake of the Ozarks; Sedalia

Iowa- Lewis & Clark SP; Ledges

Minnesota- Lake Superior shore; Pipestone NM

Wisconsin- Apostle Islands; Door Peninsula

Illinois- Baha’i Temple, Wilmette; Cahokia Mounds

Mississippi- Ocean Springs; Emerald Mound

Tennessee- Shiloh; Lookout Mountain

Kentucky- Land Between the Lakes; Mammoth Cave

Indiana- Indiana Dunes; Brown County

Michigan- Picture Rocks; Keweenaw

Ohio- Bass Islands; Serpent Mound

West Virginia- White Sulphur Springs; Harpers Ferry

Alabama- Tuskegee; Muscle Shoals

Florida- Everglades; Nature Coast

Georgia- Sea Islands; Amicalola Falls

South Carolina- Sea Islands; Travelers Rest

North Carolina- Tryon; Outer Banks Region

Virginia- Shenandoah National Park; Chincoteague

District of Columbia- Rock Creek Park; C & P Canals

Maryland- Eastern Shore; Antietam

Delaware- Cape Henlopen; Fort Christina

Pennsylvania- Valley Forge; Bushkill Falls

New Jersey- Pine Barrens; Ramapo Mts.

New York- Ausable Chasm; Niagara Falls

Connecticut- Taconic Hills; Mystic

Rhode Island- Block Island; Narragansett Beach

Massachusetts- Mt. Greylock; Cape Ann

Vermont- Green Mountains; Lake Champlain

New Hampshire- Presidential Range; Mt. Monadnock

Maine- Mount Desert Island; Moosehead Lake

For the most part, these are sites in nature. In another post, when we are further along in recovery, I will mention my favourite cities, large and small.

The Summer of Rising Tides, Day 2: Fear Itself

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June 2, 2020

One of the things on which many men of my generation claim to pried themselves is a relative lack of fear. Many went to serve in the military, in VietNam, saw horrendous things and came back with PTSD. Part of their coping has led to a very strong sense that nothing in civilian American life even comes close to what was experienced in wartime. Thus, COVID-19 is “a socialist hoax” or “an assault on freedom”.

I will agree with the second part. I just don’t agree with my contemporaries’ idea of the assailant. It’s academic, at this point, as to the exact source of the virus. All that is known is that the first victims were in Wuhan. It is not, a brainchild of an American socialist who is looking to take over our country, by killing off conservatives, as some have actually claimed. As I said last night, that socialist is very long in the tooth, and more at risk of getting COVID-19 himself, than most of us are.

Well, live long enough, and you’re bound to hear and see just about anything. There are still people in the world who swear that the Earth is flat, that witches once wore peaked hats and rode on broomsticks, and that there are Sasquatch in the Cascades. We have a wealth of science fiction, being popularized, all along the continuum of thought.

This year, though, is a SyFy dreamworld-and for many, a nightmare. I’ve had a few moments of trepidation, myself. So far, none of my fears, as to personal safety, have panned out. My most earnest prayers, thus, have to be for the safety and well-being of others.

The Summer of Rising Tides, Day 1: Whose Law, Whose Order?

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June 1, 2020

The summer of 2020 doesn’t begin, astronomically, for anothe rthree weeks. From today until Labor Day, though, I will be entitling posts as part of a series, The Summer of Rising Tides. Coronavirusdisease-2019, and the racially and politically-sparked violence in our nation will be the initial foci of this series, as they are the immediate backdrop.

The situation is, as most are aware, extremely fluid-with fearful people across the political spectrum trying their best to show respect towards the Floyd family and many still making a concerted effort, within the bounds of their own sensibilities, to not spread the novel Coronoavirus.

There are those who view President Trump as the sole bulwark against a feared dictatorship, by a little known philanthropist named George Soros, who is nearly 90 years old and is of questionable mental stability. I personally don’t think Dr. Soros has a chance in H*** of taking charge of the country, or of even functioning as the “power behind the throne” , in a potential Biden Administration. His most powerful days, such as they were, are behind him-fortune or no fortune. Most of the fears people have expressed to me are the result of his occasional pronouncements that he sees himself as “a kind of God”.

Others fear a second Trump administration. The president may have added gasoline to that fire, by stating, “The looting starts, the shooting starts” and “I am your Law and Order President”. A rumour had even made its way out here that there was nationwide curfew, starting at 7 P.M. (EDT). That curfew has been established, but only for the District of Columbia, and it was announced by the Mayor of Washington, not by Mr. Trump.

Here in Arizona, we do have a statewide curfew, for everywhere except the Navajo Nation, which has its own sets of restrictions, themselves stemming from efforts to control COVID-19. The statewide curfew is essentially from 8 P.M.-5 A.M., until Monday, June 8. There are exceptions for those who are working or who are taking care of elderly relatives. The statewide curfew is a response to rioting in the Phoenix area, on Saturday night, into Sunday morning.

I am old enough to know that none of the above-mentioned events will play out as anticipated, or as feared. If Mr. Trump is re-elected, he is most likely going to adhere to our Constitution. If Mr. Biden is elected, Mr. Trump will likely complain, long and loud, will leave office and become an even louder voice of the opposition. As for Dr. Soros, he would be likely imprisoned, if he tried to assert power in this country. His comment, that he could gain power by getting the Black people on his side, because they “are easiest to manipulate”, has already sealed his failure.

This will not, however, be an easy three months. We will need to strive, mightily, to bridge our gaps, recognizing, at long last, that we all bleed the same. Stay tuned, and stay safe.

Knowing Places

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May 30, 2020

Today was the traditional Memorial Day, observed each year, until President Nixon set up a “streamlined” observance, for the fourth Monday in May, each year-beginning with 1971’s commemoration.

It struck me, today, that each of us conducts our affairs, our personal business, our honouring of others and even our leisure activities, largely based on what we perceive as our place in the world. That place, in times past, was determined, not so much by oneself, but by whosoever was deemed “in charge” of us- as in the Victorian Era and Twentieth Century dictum: “Children shall be seen and not heard.” or, even more rudely put-“A woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

I’ve been told, at least once, during this pandemic, “STAY HOME!”. The person making that demand has no say in my life, whatsoever, so I take the demand with several grains of salt. As long as I maintain distance from those who I know are at risk of infection, and practice recommended hygiene and PHYSICAL distancing, it’s no one’s business how much time I spend between these four walls.

My place is this world has always been fluid, and remains so. There is also a truism: “Those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything.” I will keep on with a full regimen of activities, both within my Home Base, in the community and, as life inches forward, go with the utmost safety to certain places which have re-opened, provided there is not an air of recklessness in said locales.

Anymore, children should be taught to speak thoughtfully and a woman’s place, a swell as a man’s, is wherever s(he) deems fit.