Seventy-One and Counting, Day 2

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November 30, 2021- Son was busy, during our after-lunch walk, counting any and all critters he spotted along the nature trail that wends it way along Mill Creek, just east of the apartment complex which was, until this afternoon, my Texas home for a week. There were eight squirrels, a crane and probably five green beetles of one kind or another. Such is the condition of an ecosystem that is in the early stages of a managed recovery.

Lunch. Yunhee made her third classic Korean meal in a row. After mandu gook (dumpling soup), and miyok gook (seaweed soup) came bulgogi (the famous Korean marinated barbecued beef). Every meal taken at home was heavenly.

Farewells. I left my little family behind, after a lowkey, but well-spent week. We did not leave the house much, but did take in a few nature trails-including the aforementioned Mill Creek Trail; the latest James Bond film-replete with an Agent 007 who is not Bond, James Bond-and a JB mini-he; and a couple of restaurants-the surprisingly good Tommy Tamale and the earnest, but not overwhelming, Jake’s Burgers and Beer. About the latter, the perky server, Maria, took good care of us, when she wasn’t hanging out with her friend-but that is a maturity thing, not a matter of character. The fare itself was lackluster.

Aram and I had important conversations about spirituality and preparing oneself for parenthood-before even trying to start a family. He has a clear vision about both matters, which I find re-assuring. I was also able to give him extra moral support, while he finished a college project he found nettlesome at times. I’m ever happy to be with my little family.

Return flight. I wandered into an American Airlines bank of check-in stations that were apparently meant for connecting passengers. The agents looked bored out of their skulls, so they were more than happy to check my bag and direct me to the correct gate. TSA is a bit more exacting at DFW than at Sky Harbor. Shoes and belts still come off, and the efficient site manager has bins underneath each standing point along the conveyor belt. Woe be unto anyone who takes a bin from the used pile, which is unsanitized. The manager reminded me of Queen Latifah’s character on the current “The Equalizer”- as officious as needed, very professional and very sure of self. The confusion over a delay of the flight turned out to be confusion, and not fact. My flight to Phoenix left on time. I had a relatively brief waiting period in the boarding area and the plane was loaded on time. Nice seatmates, from Louisiana and California bantered, mostly with one another. I occupied myself by watching a silent screening of “Kong vs. Godzilla”, which I have seen as a captive audience, once before. The Hollow Earth theory is something of which I had heard before, when I was about twelve. Thankfully, it has been relegated to B-grade SyFy.

Sky Harbor. Once on the ground in Phoenix, it took only fifteen minutes to retrieve my checked bag. I had changed the shuttle time to Prescott, owing to the rumoured flight delay. So, back upstairs it was, to Blue Mesa Tacos. The new cook was being strictly supervised by the manager, but she was doing a fine job on her own-for which I praised her. The quesadilla was perfect.

Around 6:20, the shuttle to Prescott arrived. As there was space available, I made a quick appeal to the driver and explained the switcheroo. He was glad to take me along, and by 8:30, we were all back at Home Base.

All good things come to an end, followed by other good things.

Seventy-One Years Down

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November 28, 2021, Grapevine- It was the best Korean lunch I’ve had, and I am not just speaking out of prejudice. My daughter-in-law prepared a soup of seaweed, braised beef and garlic, accompanied by several side dishes (kimchi, small grilled and shredded mushrooms, grilled tofu and pressed, layered vegetable roll) and steamed rice. Yunhee has learned a highly-developed cuisine form, very well. This was my birthday meal, though we would have a late supper at a nearby burger joint, this evening.

The early evening saw us take in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die”, the apparent swan song for actor Daniel Craig, in the role of the legendary secret agent. No spoilers here, but it was faithful to the Bond narrative of fantasy car chases, explosions and mass disruptions of fancy, gala events.

It has been a most eventful seventy-first year of earthly life. My childhood home was sold, as Mother moved, of her own volition, into an Assisted Living residence. One of my closest cousins lost a battle with cancer. Two trips eastward, in May and in July, were both generated and affected by these events. Concern with justice, both deferred and realized, led to visits to the Greenwood community, in Tulsa and to George Floyd Square, in Minneapolis. I was able to reconnect with two cousins and their wives after many years. Strong new friendships were made at my Home Base of Prescott. COVID19, while still influential in my public and private activities, ceased to be an overwhelmingly restrictive force, especially after my receipt of two Moderna vaccines (with the understanding that these are strictly season to season in effectiveness), which combined with a proactive immunity regimen and being blessed with O+ blood, have allowed me to move along with a moderate level of caution. Three minor, but nettlesome, skin tumors were removed. Visits to Carson City, in the spring and to northern New Mexico and the San Diego area, this Autumn, were thus able to take place without any negative results.

As Year 72 begins, I join my fellow Baha’is in entering the second century of what is called the Formative Age of our Faith, a time in which its affairs are managed by ordinary people, acting in elected assemblies, following the guidance of its Founder’s Teachings, as explained further by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who served as Guardian of the Faith from 1921 until his passing, in 1957. We are all charged to advance spiritually, both individually and in groups.

My work with children and teens continues, though not on a full-time basis, given official retirement last November. So, too, does work with non-profit agencies, including the Red Cross. Hikes and travel will continue, of course, though the latter will see more use of trains and buses, with my Saturn Vue staying within the areas of California and the five southwestern states.

I look ever forward to what further challenges and blessings may arise.

Forging Ahead

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November 25,2020, Plano-

On a fine and comfortable late November morning, it’s a nice touch to hit the trail, even if the trail in question happens to be paved. So it was that the three of us headed over to Spring Creek Recreation Area, in neighbouring Richardson.

November, in the northern hemisphere, is something of a shoulder month, with leaves having mostly fallen (the cottonwoods of the Southwest, in their golden glory, are an exception). Nonetheless, Nature is healing, sustaining, even in its time of faded glory.

So it was, this morning, at Spring Creek.

This ramp leads down onto the trail.
Most of the trail is flat. This is, after all, a forest situated in a prairie.
Spring Creek, a small stream, is muddy in times of low precipitation.

There were relatively few people on the trail with us. A family of five, with a mildly mischievous adolescent boy teasing his older sister, and a couple of loud younger boys from another family, punctuated an otherwise quiet, self-absorbed coterie of joggers and T’ai-Chi practitioners, who wanted nothing but privacy.

Returning back to Plano Home, Yunhee treated Aram and me to freshly- made bowls of bibimbap, a Korean dish in which is placed rice, ground meat, leafy greens, shredded carrots, mushrooms and, if one wishes, either hard-boiled or over-easy egg in an individual bowl. The diner mixes the ingredients to own satisfaction. Often, the ceramic bowl is heated, so that a raw egg will cook as it is mixed with the other contents. Today, though, all was cooked in advance. It was, nonetheless, delectable-along with her home-made kimchi and seasoned dried minnows.

Bibimbap

As will be occasional, throughout this week’s visit, I felt it proper to join a couple of Zoom calls. One was with a small group of kindred spirits, in a guided meditation. The other, celebrating the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, was based in Prescott. Today is observed as the Day of the Covenant, which was the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Baha for those who expressed a desire to celebrate His birthday. As He was born on the very day that al-Bab proclaimed His Mission to humanity, ‘Abdu’l-Baha randomly selected this day (November 25 or 26, depending on the lunar calendar) as a day during which Baha’is could celebrate His life, and Baha’u’llah’s Covenant with His followers.

As it happens, November 28, 1921 was the day on which ‘Abdu’l-Baha ascended to the Spiritual Realm. Thus, in a short span of days, we honour His life and commemorate His passing. Next year, as you might imagine, our focus will be on that extraordinary life and legacy.

So it is, that the governing body of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice, has given us a rough outline of the decade ahead- a One -Year Plan, focusing on the above-mentioned life and legacy of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and a subsequent nine years of helping to build a more sustainable and peace-focused society. So it is, that we forge ahead.