Looking Past the Shrillness


September 21, 2022- The call came, with about fifteen minutes left in the class. The tone was furious, and decidedly personal. It was clear that the caller felt let down and that in her mind, the rest of the day was about damage control. The students carried on, and did a fairly good job at completing the assigned task.

It was actually all about process, procedure-and will have scant effect on the learning of those particular students. I know little about the caller, so maybe other parts of her life were not going well today. It doesn’t take much to trigger a tirade, these days.

It was, all in all, a nice day. I was working with a group of children who I particularly treasure. The classes accomplished a lot, with the second and third groups following the procedure that was reiterated to me, albeit in angry tones. I choose to look past a person’s rage, because when it’s all over, we will both be standing in the same spot. So long as there is no harm to children, or other innocents, I walk away.

There will, I know, come a time, maybe as early as next Thursday, when I will face that person again. I will not be swayed, one way or the other, by anything she has to say. At this stage of my life, it’s all about the children and teens, and their progress, their well-being.



November 16, 2020-

Today marks forty-four years since I took on a fulltime classroom teaching position. My work, during those first two years, was nothing for a brag book. While I worked with few resources, the stint could have been greatly refined.

I have gradually acquired teaching skills, over the years. Perhaps the biggest, and most recent, was the skill of stressing process over content. I credit technology, with its ready-made storehouse of facts and figures, for our ability to put the stress on building capacity for the Thinking Process.

I actually am finding it delightful, in my last months of teaching, to observe how individual learners go about acquiring knowledge and, more fascinatingly, solving problems. The online educational game, Kahoots!, is an exemplary tool for such observations, as students are encouraged to state how they arrived at a given answer. I have met the gamut of thinkers, from Scientific Wild-Ass Guessers to meticulously intuitive sifters of evidence.

I look forward to many more observations of human solution-finders, both before and after my retreat from full-time work.



February 24, 2020-

As I was driving home, from this evening’s study circle with some friends, I encountered a bicyclist on the dark and narrow country road.  With oncoming traffic, as well, my only rational choice was to stop and let the cyclist pass.  His well-being and safety had precedence, as I’m sure most would agree.  A similar incident, earlier this afternoon, involved waiting to turn, at a green light, whilst a person in a walker used the crossing.  It was helpful, though not necessary, that one of my neighbours waiting behind me, was not in an all-fire rush.

I have reached the point in my life, when each action, each step in a process, is given primacy, and the attention it is due.  I wasn’t always of this mindset, so perhaps it is the much vaunted “wisdom that comes with age”, the antidote to “There’s no fool like an old fool”.  It helps that, with each step thus completed, I feel satisfaction.  There is also the fact that there will be many “completions” in my life, this year:  My last period of abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours of the first three weeks of March; my last two semesters of working full-time as a substitute teacher; possibly, my last year of living in Prescott (family needs would be what take me out of here; otherwise, this area is as fine a Home Base as anywhere one could live).

Essentially, what has primacy in my life is the Will of the Divine.  This reveals Itself to me, in large and small ways, each day-and with regard to the needs of other humans, or the needs of creatures, great and small.  With that thought, I need to sign off and get a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow, and this entire week, are full, from morning to night.



September 12, 2016, Prescott-

Meetings tire me,

more than the antics of children.

So, as I sat through the proceedings

in a stuffy second-floor room,

I took in all I needed,

through careful listening.

Then came afternoon.

Cool outside,

stale and debilitating, within.

My thoughts wandered

to the school district clerks,

who will occupy these rooms,

after a renovation next year.

The process is ongoing.

I had a nice time,

at a birthday party last night.

It was a good transition,

from the dark memories of

that day, fifteen years ago.

New friends, and old,

drummed, sang and ate

delectable barbecued meats

and all manner of side dishes.

Friendship and camaraderie are ongoing.

Today is my brother’s birthday.

Far off, in Atlanta, or

somewhere else on business,

he keeps setting the bar high

and setting his employees straight.

Communication is ongoing.

The Road to 65, Mile 19: Green Chili and Coconut-Fennel Cookies


December 17, 2014, Phoenix-  I could not really explain to the befuddled police officer why I slightly strayed over the broken lane line, on one of Prescott’s main streets, this morning.  I certainly wasn’t DWI- haven’t had a drink in 33 years, and I’m not on any meds.  I was feeling a bit woozy, though, so his pulling me over, mostly, it seemed, out of boredom, was a good thing.  I didn’t get anything more than a verbal caution, which nonetheless forced me to refocus on the here and now.

I bought the cookie sheet I needed, went home and baked 1 1/2 dozen cookies, made with spelt flour, aluminum-free baking powder, a cage-free egg, fractionated coconut oil,shredded coconut, coconut sugar (unrefined), fennel and lemon oil.  The process of finding the cookie sheet, police encounter included, took one hour.  The mixing of ingredients and baking of the cookies took 25 minutes.

I took the goodies down to a Red Cross luncheon in Phoenix.  It was a well-catered, Mexican food affair, to which the HR director and I were the last to arrive.  No matter; I missed the enchiladas, but had a good plateful of everything else.  I also got to watch the latter part of a white-elephant gift exchange, always good for a few laughs.  Once all was done, I offered my cookies to the group, as they headed back to their desks.  Each one who took a bite said the cookie was fabulous.  Mission achieved!

After ascertaining from the HR Director that nothing more would be done, vis-a-vis the position for which I’m applying, until after New Year’s, I gassed up and headed back to Prescott.  This is the way of it:  The tasks which I undertake might involve driving 100 miles, for thirty minutes worth of , or they might mean walking five minutes, and spending five hours at a small desk.

I’ve drawn the conclusion that it is all a matter of focusing on the what, the why and the who.  The how usually makes itself known, in process.  There is nothing too small or mundane, too grand or exotic.  There is no one too obscure, or overarching, in importance.  There is nothing too simple, or complex, in rationale.  All tasks end up equal in importance, in the end, as all tie together to make this series of events we call a life.

I will, no doubt, make more cookies, before the week is out. There is another gathering on Friday evening, and before that, a friend or two to visit here in town.  Each one counts as much as the other, differing only in the intensity, and nature, of our relationship.  That’s how it is with a widower:  Those who fill the world, after one’s beloved departs for a purely spiritual presence, are loved strictly for their inherent humanity.  Ulterior motives serve no good purpose, and I have thus discarded them.  In the ensuing bliss, green chili is as good as its red cousin and cookies flavoured with essential oils are a joyful contribution.