Alpha and Omega

4

January 1, 2019, Prescott-

It is bright, beautiful and 18 degrees outside, on this first morning, of the last year, of the second decade, of the Twenty-first Century since the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Life has not changed much, outwardly, from yesterday-other than that the storm has moved eastward.

Thus far, this decade has brought both great joy and intense pain.  The pain came first, and Penny spent 2010 in agony and decline, before being delivered from all suffering, in the early part of the following year.

I have since left my Phoenix home, gone through the recovery phase of Chapter 7, lived in, and sold, my in-laws’ Prescott home-at their behest and settled in this comfortable, one bedroom apartment, which will remain my residence until it is time to move on, at the point of my retirement from education, likely in December, 2020.

I have seen our son, Aram, blossom into full manhood, going full force up the enlisted ranks in the United States Navy, though he currently plans to return to civilian life at the end of this enlistment.  He’s a husband now, with he and his wife, Yoonhee, affirming their marital vows in a sacred setting, this coming March.  They have fine examples, of dedicated marriage, on both sides of the family.

I have said farewell to my parents-in-law, in 2014 and in 2018.  Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have gone on, also, though many remain.  I am also blessed that my mother is still keen of wit and able to live on her own, in the very home in which my siblings and I were raised.

I have always been a wanderer.  The first time I can remember going off on my own involved crossing a street unaided, which earned me a few strokes of a hairbrush, on the backside.  My subsequent sojourns have not been quite so problematic.  While some of my travels have left family members, and others, shaking their heads, nothing has befallen me that was not able to be rectified in fairly short order.  To be sure, even greater adventures are, God willing, in store.

The same is true of my friendships.  Since being on my own, I have found just what a fallacy “on one’s own” is.  Hundreds of people have come into my life.  The best of them have remained, even if some of them are only present electronically.  The worst have, thankfully, moved on.  All have taught me valuable lessons.  There are good friends across the North American continent, in Europe, India and Africa- and I would be overjoyed to visit with them, at least once.  For now, we can see one another here.

Finally, there is the question, “Where is home?”  I could choose the grandiose answer:  “Why, all the Earth is my home!”, and I would be telling the truth-as I feel relaxed, anywhere.  Practically speaking, Prescott is home, for now.  After this phase of my life comes to an end, “home” could be in the Pacific Northwest, in the Heartland, in southeast Alaska, on the East Coast or, for a time, on the road-with my permanent possessions largely in storage.  My little family, good friends and the needs of the wider community will all play a part in where I find myself.

For now, let’s enjoy the sunlight.

The Heart of Wealth

4

December 22,2018, Phoenix-

I’m down here, during the day at least, for three days.  It is the 34th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference. This year’s theme is  “Advancing Human Welfare and Prosperity:  What is Your Role?”

I’ve long had a view of money, wherein it is to be invested, and used, in a heartfelt manner.  Time was, when that led me to spend on my friends and family, though often in a haphazard way, which led some in the family to actually think I didn’t care about THEM.

Marriage and an extended family changed my practices. The needs of the home, then of our child, became paramount.  We still traveled a lot, as a family, and once we returned to live in Arizona, after 5 + years in South Korea, there were eight years of living in scant rent, (but not decrepit), houses.

Phoenix changed that and, after five years of relative prosperity and of meeting our bills-came the trifecta- Penny’s health got worse, Madoff came and made off with certain of the extended family’s investments and the housing crunch killed our heretofore carefully planned mortgage.  The microphone dropped, in a very bad way.

Fast forward to 2018, and the next bad national scene.  This time, however, I am in a better place, financially and in many other respects.  My sole task is to make sure that I don’t become anyone else’s burden- so the resources are to be nurtured, not to be handed out to any and all comers.  Enough said about that.

I am in good hands, in terms of advisement and here is the greater deal:  Like water, soil and any other resource, money does not dissipate for eternity.  It goes places, and needs to be tracked and nurtured.    If water is not conserved and stored, in a loving manner, it will flow back into the soil, or evaporate into the cloud cover, or get polluted and be rendered useless.   If money is not conserved, and invested, in a loving manner, then it will go willy-nilly, into the pockets of the unwise, who will always want more, or into the hands of the unseemly, who will sneer at one’s foolishness.

Wealth that endures, comes from the heart.  I am being nurtured, financially, because I tended to the extended family’s needs, four years ago, and orchestrated the sale of property that needed to be sold, in a prudent manner.  The other factor, which some may find hard to understand, is that careful giving, in the years since I recovered financially, has stoked the energy of prosperity.  That, and being detached from  the day-to-day ups and downs, have made life a whole lot easier and more productive, thus-increasing potential wealth.

Finally, as the speakers in the first day of this conference noted, wealth is intended to generate the OVERALL prosperity of the human race. There is no point, in the long run, of having a small coterie pile up wealth that they cannot possibly use, whilst there are others in such destitution as to bring any caring observer to the knees.  This does not mean random, forced confiscation of “excess” wealth.  It does mean, however,that there be a drastic, and widespread change of heart, especially among the wealthiest .1 % of the world’s populace.

 

Season’s Greetings

13

December 18, 2018, Prescott-

So now, my full days of school, for 2018, are in the rear view mirror.  Three abbreviated school days remain, before we all take a break for the period which, for many, is a time of celebration and revelry.  For others, it will be a time of remembrance of a Great Being, Whose sacrifice and teachings are fully intended to bring peace to those who understand them.  For still others, it will be a time of lying low and making do with very little.  Then, the Gregorian clock will reset itself, and we will have 2019 AD/CE. (I am old school, and prefer the former, in figuring time since the Birth of the Christ.  Further disclosure: We Baha’is determine our place in time, dating from the Declaration of al-Bab, in May, 1844 and thus will refer to next year as 176 Baha’i Era, or B.E.  For general social purposes, though, I will continue to date my posts by the Gregorian system.)

During this period of  revelry, rest, reflection and resilience, I wish these things, to the following:

Seniors (75 and onward):  May your curiosity continue and may it bring you the recognition and relevance that ought to come with accrued wisdom .  The elder among you raised our generation and can take large credit for the best that we have been able to offer the world, through your parenting.  The younger among you are our older cousins, siblings and mentors.  It would have been harder growing up without your shared experiences and occasional babysitting. You remain friends, and vital presences in my life-Mom, Uncle Jim and Aunt Jackie, Aunt Janet, Aunt Carol, both Aunts Helen, Aunt Gail, Uncle Jerry,  and my online friends and older cousins, (you know well to whom I am referring).

My Contemporaries (55-74):  My siblings, many cousins, classmates, immediate elders and juniors, and a good many of my friends-We have gone through many of the same experiences, hard times, great celebrations, triumphs and tragedies, victories and losses.  We have seen Woodstock and the Men on the Moon; the gradual “shrinking” of Planet Earth, and changes that we never anticipated. Considering that my first phone call, to my late Aunt Hazel, was aborted by a shrill voice telling me to get off the phone, as it was a party line “used  by grown-ups, for important matters”. I did as I was told, and remember my mother’s eyes rolling, as she quipped, “important matters, like everyone else’s business!” Now, the picture phones and calls between vehicles, of which I once dreamed, are de rigeur.  May our days not be hamstrung by health-related woes, to the extent that we can use natural remedies, exercise and a well-varied diet, to keep us going.  May we continue to love those older and younger than we; and because we first know to love ourselves.

Millennials and Generation X (20-54):  You have brought many of the ideas of which I once dreamed, as a child and teen, into being.  Many of you were my students and counselees.  I helped a fair number, confused some and let others down, but loved all of you.  Among you are my nieces and nephews, and my own beloved son and daughter-in-law.  You grew up in my hometown of Saugus; or in the woods of central Maine;  or in the elite families who sent you to  a boarding school in the midst of the Sonoran Desert; or on the Navajo and Hopi nations, reared by loving, but often struggling extended families, who gave me more than I could ever repay; or in the western Sonoran Desert, a string of communities that gave newcomers a wary, if cordial, welcome-even when several were newcomers, themselves; or you grew up, as our son did, moving from town to town and making the best of life, even when it felt lonely.  I wish you a future far better than the recent past has shown you, and know that you have it within, to make wondrous things happen.

Generation Z (Newborns to 19)- I am thrilled to see the older among you come of age, shed the misgivings of your elders and take on the challenges that the Universe has sent your way, either because of the nature of life or because of what the rest of us have managed to create.  Every generation hands down both blessings and banes to its progeny, so do forgive us and know that you are also very much loved.  You have come into my life, as my working years are winding down and you have given me the confidence, the sense that my volunteer, travel and, quite possibly, grandparent years will be as bounteous and fulfilling as all that has gone before. May we all greet and nurture the generations  that come after you, as well.

To all, I treasure my time among you and may it long yet continue. A Merry Christmas, Bountiful Kwanzaa, Joyful Solstice and Healthy, Prosperous and Happy 2019, to each and every one.

 

The Unbreakable Thread

2

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.

Glimmering

10

November 9, 2018, Prescott-

I woke in  darkness,

both physical and emotional,

wondering what to do,

with a feeling of isolation.

“Well, self”, I have to say,

“you made the choice to live

far from birth family

and remain far from

family- by- marriage.”

As the daylight glimmers,

and my prayers have been said,

I feel my heart is with

family in Florida,

in Korea,

and those clustered

in Massachusetts,

in Pennsylvania

and in Georgia.

We are scattered to the winds,

yet there is still not  a day,

without some sort of connection.

You are always in my heart.

Tangential, Part 2

17

September 13, 2018, Prescott-

There are two kinds of events that impact anyone’s life.  Scheduled and anticipated occasions tend to get most of my attention. My niece’s wedding, earlier this year, was the centerpiece of my scheduling the entire road trip, with a gathering at a friend’s house, two weeks later, being the climax of the journey.  My mother’s 90th birthday, this past Monday, entailed careful gifting and a pleasant early morning call.   Another family event, of which I will speak closer to its happening, will take place in mid-November.  There are numerous faith-based and community events here, between now and December, that will take on an urgency, either in the minds of their organizers and/or in terms of their real impact on our community.

The second kind of event, of course, is the random, serendipitous happening.  Spontaneity is common to our species. So, a late night message from a friend or loved one will also take on a certain urgency.  A chance encounter with a good-hearted soul, or with an opposite number, will do likewise.  Dealing with miscreants, in Montreal, during the above-mentioned road trip, was certainly an example of this last.  Connecting with U.S. Federal and Canadian provincial authorities was an example of dealing with good-hearted souls.  Then, there was the run down to Florida, out of concern fro my mother-in-law’s fragile health, especially after the losses of her last-surviving sibling and one of her cousins, earlier this year. Here at Home Base, numerous things happen, almost daily, that are either on a whim or the results of several prior events-but somehow are not anticipated.

I deal better with the random and sudden, than I used to.  People’s individual concerns and events seem to be hyper-urgent, these days, so I feel the need to keep myself sharp.  Even across the country, as dear friends and extended family prepare for yet another “Storm of a Lifetime”, or maybe four such storms, I keep ready for whatever might be needed.

Spontaneity is becoming routine.

The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

12

September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings

 

The 2018 Road, Days 30-32: A Break from Driving

15

June 24-26, 2018, Spring Hill, FL-

This is a photo-less,  nearly driving-free post.  I spent Sunday night in Ocala, a good stopping place en-route to/from the Nature Coast and points further down Florida’s mid-Gulf region.  Other than being tailgated around a church parking lot, by an older man who demanded to know what I was doing therpoe, Ocala was a friendly enough place.

I got to my in-laws’ house, in Spring Hill, around 10:30.  Fortunately, W was home and Mother was up and dressed.  These three days were largely spent watching old movies (TCM) and coddling the two dogs.

I did get a couple of dips in the salubrious pool, with Bella (younger dog) happily joining in the splashing and laps.  Her more cautious “older brother” was content to lay around and watch us.

The most momentous thing that happened was that I bought this laptop, its mouse and case. The device is lighter weight than the War Horse was, and thus easier to tote around.  Nevertheless, I found myself missing the Lenovo and hoping it is at least being used for peaceful purposes, if it is even still running.

The weather was a bit on the tortuous side, so none of us spent much time outdoors. W went to visit her horses, but unlike in December, I did not join her.  AC becomes addicting.  We took all of our meals at home.  Mother appreciated that part.

It’s been a peaceful break from the road. I will head out tomorrow again, with my goal being  the middle of South Carolina, by evening.

2018 and the Four F’s

15

January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

Interdependence Day

12

July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES