The Vagaries of Snow

4

January 30, 2023- I recall a time, Thanksgiving Day of 1983, when the National Weather Service forecast a 100% chance of snow, for our community. The sun shined brightly, all day. There haven’t been many days since, that the NWS has been that far off base. We did learn, though, never to base either hopes or fears on anyone’s weather predictions. Penny even had had her own system- Open the curtain and look outside.

Teachers in our part of Arizona have come to like the “two-hour delay” that accompanies snow and ice on our roads, early in a given morning. It is a safety feature, of course, and allows all concerned to not have to rush out the door. Parents and guardians may feel differently, if their work or other schedules are disrupted, but such are the vagaries of weather.

The forecast, for today and tomorrow, called for snow. There was little, if any, and today was business as usual. At this age, I take things as they are and work accordingly-and so it went, nodding sympathetically at the grumbling and just doing what was needed, so that the students had a productive day. Of course, it is nicer when one can report to work at 10, instead of 8, but we signed up for a job that includes an early morning start.

January is about done, and February is expected to be dry, so whether I am working in a school, or off somewhere with the Red Cross, the days look to be fairly routine, at least as far as the skies above are concerned.

Twists and Turns

4

January 8, 2023- The usually spirited and upbeat friend of mine seemed a bit reserved and downcast, yesterday, and though such happens to everyone, now and then, I will keep a close watch over the next several Saturdays, to make sure that it’s not something more serious. Likewise, another dear friend, facing the aftermath of a loss and an ongoing family health issue, may well need my help very soon. For these and other commitments, my meanderings will be limited, over the next few weeks.

Today was largely a day for honouring a woman who had given an enormous amount of herself to the veterans of our area, since the 1990s. Coleen “Corky” Hintz had been an irrepressibly joyful presence at our American Legion Post, since 1994, and was one of the first to welcome me there, in the Fall of 2011. She spearheaded and hosted so many activities, even after overcoming a serious health challenge, nearly eight years ago, that her passing leaves a crater-not easily filled. It was beyond fitting, that the hall was packed. The packets of Forget-Me-Not seeds that were offered to each of us are aptly named.

Northern California, and by extension SoCal and northern Nevada, remain much on my mind. There are dear friends scattered around the region, as well as the fact that, in general, the flood danger in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could easily be of Biblical proportions. Anything I do for the Red Cross out there is probably a month away, but the twists and turns of life can shred plans into so much confetti.

In sum, I’m glad to have not signed up for a dull life.

Progression

2

January 7, 2022- The breakdown of the common areas of our local Farmers Market took about ninety minutes, as it was my first time with the crew. This year, I have committed to more consistent volunteer work, and early Saturday afternoon is the least interrupted by other activities. Red Cross events, happening primarily during the week, are more touch and go, with substitute teaching and what few dental and medical appointments I have, tending to conflict with them.

Regardless of what choices one makes, though, the key to their being meaningful is clear, consistent communication and not making assumptions about when is a good time to communicate. I had occasion to check in with someone this weekend and found that the matter would have been better discussed earlier. Assuming the individual was too busy, I let slide, which was a mistake.

Another friend, of eleven years, is entering a period of great change in her life, and will likely need my assistance in a few months. Suffice it to say that the change represents stability, in a way that I have hoped for her, for a very long time.

Progression of communication skills, and the relationships that stem from and depend on them, is often a forwards, then backwards, process. We are seeing it in world affairs, in government, in commerce and between individuals. I learned a long time, ago, though, that communication, even-or especially-when difficult, is never something that can go backwards and forwards. It is essential to stay in touch, except in cases where communicating with a person, or group, brings forth a clear and present danger. Thankfully, that is not the case for me, with anyone, right now.

Possibilities

4

December 21, 2022- On a lark, I spent a little time this evening, watching a show about the misadventures of a young woman in a place for which she was ill-prepared. It had a bit of an “I Love Lucy” meets “Anna and The King” air about it. She was, though, making it work, day to day, when I signed off and went on to other activities for the evening. The gist was that, though she seemed a bit flighty, there was a very strong sense of self-and a pluckiness that brought her eventual success. She was nobody’s fool.

We each face similar situations, even when we stay in place and try to adhere to a certain basic routine. I’ve heard from friends whose lives are rather cut and dried, who have recently been facing challenges they had only vaguely expected. These range from weather that is so cold, that even an Alaska-style battery-warmer would be hard put to keep a vehicle working, to health challenges facing multiple members of a family, at once, and I’m not talking about viruses.

Thus do we find ourselves exploring possibilities. In this little corner, I will be talking with a couple of educators, tomorrow, about filling in at a position for the coming semester. This would make my own routine fairly basic, for the first time in four years. On the other hand, I could keep my present plan, which would have me covering different positions, for 3-5 days each, at certain points in the coming semester. If that plays out, I would still be available for some Red Cross activities and would head to the Northwest and Alaska, in late April, for 3 weeks or so. The other option would be none of the above, a misty, foggy scenario about which I haven’t a clue as to how things would play out. (2020 was THAT sort of year, and things got rather intense-but all ended fairly well.)

Even in “retirement”, the plight of the world, and all those I care about, settles deeply into my consciousness. The possibilities for responsible action remain endless.

72 and Change

2

November 29, 2022- This morning, I woke seemingly clear-headed and well-rested, and yet a few faux pas came between the time I awoke and the time I alighted in my window seat, on the plane back to Arizona. They were nothing that apologies didn’t rectify, and the rest of the journey back to Home Base was uneventful. My seat mates, on the plane and in the shuttle from Phoenix to Prescott, were very pleasant; quiet but congenial. I enjoyed a Korean barbecued pork sandwich, with chicken noodle soup on the side. Knocking out what was left of last week’s cold was crucial-and yes, I was one of three people in the travel party who wore a mask in close-quarter situations.

It’s time to look at what the ellipse that is the tail end of 2022 and the first eleven months of ’23 might bring. Next week, I work four days and have my skin scan. There will be a heavy schedule, here in town, Friday and Saturday, with Indian Market and a few other events. Acker Night is Dec,9 and Post 6 Christmas Party, on the10th. After that, SoCal is calling, for 3-4 days, Dec. 12-15-following a Slow Food event in south Phoenix, on Dec. 11. Dec. 16-25 will be close to Home Base, with a few days afterward spent somewhere up north, barring any weather weirdness or Red Cross emergency.

That brings up January-September, 2023-and so far, I have no clear guidance from Spirit Guides as to what, if any, travel will take place during that time. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 is the likely time for Baha’i Unit Convention. After that, October-early November looks like Pacific Northwest, Alaska and some of the Asian Pacific Rim. THAT guidance is very clear. We know from last year that these signals can change with outside circumstances and shifting energy frequencies.

So- stay tuned!

No Limits

10

August 19, 2022- Four of us spent a couple of hours, this afternoon, going over the process of evaluating buildings as potential Red Cross shelters. Most of our area’s needs, in that regard, stem from wildfire; but there are times when floods and snowstorms create sheltering needs. Flagstaff, some ninety miles northeast of us, is experiencing flood emergencies, often several times a week, due to this year’s bountiful rains-which were preceded by harrowing fires. Prescott has had its share of both, in years past, as well.

I have been asked, by concerned friends and family, WHEN I will devote myself to full retirement. The answer probably lies in my health and clear-mindedness. When those fade, so will my activity. Until then, I enjoy the presence of children, helping out in the community and learning new skills-such as the above-mentioned logistics. So I will continue helping out in classrooms and working in the community, on a regular basis. Besides, now I have an auto loan to pay down.

The late Carmine Moschella, a fixture in the hometown of my youth for well over seventy years, was a prime example of working at something of benefit to self and others, nearly to the time of his death. So was A.C. Fellman, Penny’s paternal grandfather, inventor of the Fellman Boot, a staple of the U. S. Navy’s World War II maritime uniform. Countless others, many still living, have remained productive and in a learning mode, well into their 90s, if not into their second century.

Now I want to flip this post a bit, and give a shout out to all girls and young women who are taking up the study and practice of trades like aviation, carpentry, electricity, plumbing, welding and automotive mechanics. There is nothing that says a person with good eye-hand coordination, a keen attention span, and pride in work has to be limited in field of endeavour. If there are male nurses, flight attendants, fashion models and office workers, so there can, and should, be female tradespeople.

I once had the opportunity to foster a young woman’s interest in the building trades. It came down to spending money on renovating a house, in which she would be a key worker, or using the funds to help someone get surgery. I chose the latter, and as much good as that did for my friend, I have regrets at not having been able to help the lady get practical experience in several trades. Somehow, I sense that she has gone on, and done quite well in that regard.

Age and sex are not intended to be limits a human’s progress.

Best Efforts

0

August 10, 2022- In the midst of the confluence between the first COVID outbreak and the hurricane season, two years ago, I found myself on the floor of a large congregate hurricane shelter, in Alexandria, LA. I had been getting messages about that city, for about two months, so it came as no surprise that the Red Cross sent me there. What was surprising was that I managed to be on the floor, in constant motion, helping a variety of people with sometimes complicated concerns, for up to nine hours-and being able to wind down, getting enough sleep for the next day’s activities. There were no full days of rest allowed, though we did get up to three hours off, on one day of our choice during this two-week period. This was mainly because of the Shelter Manager’s assessment of the situation, which was not all that far off the mark. It was probably the most physically intense event that any of us had worked.

I was given a high rating on performance of duties, for that assignment. Even if that had not been the case, it would not have mattered much. I did my level best and felt that I had. No one else’s opinion really mattered, though the clients, who were mostly lower middle class people, of white, black and Hispanic descent, gave me a hearty thanks. That felt good.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in the fifth chapter of “The Four Agreements”, casts the agreement to do one’s best, across situations and physical states, as the prerequisite to overcoming the failure to keep one’s word, the tendency to take things personally and the making of assumptions. Since the latter three are themselves derived from self-doubt, and are only fed by the negative energy of others, the mindset that one has done one’s best diverts from such self-defeating practices. It sets the stage for a new set of agreements, which are proactive in building a world based on true personal inner peace and positive relationships.

The Universe, almost in keeping with the spirit that welled up in me, after I read that chapter, provided work for tomorrow, three substitute assignments for next week and a social gathering, across the state, on Saturday evening. The respite of about ten days has been sufficient and it will be reaffirming to be back in service.

Now, I need to put the trash out.

The Quiet Moon

2

August 1, 2022- Waking this morning to a sunny and quiet Home Base, there was not a whole lot ahead of me for the day. Two routine tasks did end up rewarding my inner peace and patience. There is only Bank of America in our metro area, so depositing my rent check meant standing in line for nearly a half hour. At the laundromat I use, half of the washing machines were out of order, so I put everything in one machine, which was okay, as it was not overloaded. While at the laundry, the 15% chance of rain turned into a forty-minute full on monsoon storm, the power went out twice and there was a cozy crowd watching “Abducted: The Jocelyn Shaker Story”, until the first power outage cut the cable service, right at the predictable “Lifetime” movie’s ending.

For all that, August is looking, initially, to be much quieter than June or July. I had two conflicting activities set for the first half of the month, Both, as it happens, will go on without me-as they, in turn, each conflict with a faith-based meeting that can only take place on Friday mornings. Saturn will get its rear bumper repaired, in the latter part of next week, and that is as far as I have planned for the bulk of the month. Sub calls will likely come, at least a few days this month, and there is a chance of local Red Cross activity-especially if we continue to have an active monsoon. This is the most rain I’ve seen here in several years, and I’ll not complain, as long as there is the balance between wet and dry.

The new moon promises to come in quietly, and to reward patience with sustenance. This will be a month for nurturing my little family, from a distance, and local friendships, in occasional gatherings. It’ll be a fine month to be low key and gather energy for September and October, which will see a somewhat more robust schedule.

Now, we’ll see how long the quietude lasts.

Not A Hard Dog Day

3

July 23, 2022- Beauty thought she would like to go out and smell the rain. So, I put on her harness and attached her leash, then got on my shoes and cap. We walked a short distance, up to a patio near where some kids live and she stood still, waiting for someone to come out. A nice lady came out and greeted the little dog. A boy came out, but not to greet Beauty. He had a household chore to do. We headed back towards the apartment where I am minding her. Then, the skies opened up. She got wet, and tried to shake it off, as is customary for dogs, but her curly hair just held the water. I dried her off with a towel and put a comfort shirt over her upper torso, which calmed her down. She was done smelling the rain.

Beauty is a friend’s dog, and has been acquainted with me for several months now. So, when friend wanted to go on a brief visit out of town, I was asked to stay with her for a day or so. This did not really conflict with anything, so I was glad to oblige. All in all, she is an easy animal to “pet-sit”. We went on three walks, including the wet one. She ate voraciously, then went back to gazing out the window. She fell asleep awhile ago, so here I am, contemplating what dogs dream. I sense that the process includes which of their people are kind to them and which ones are better off out of their lives. There are, no doubt, smells that get remembered, just as humans recall sights and sounds. There may even be a hope or two, who knows?

I was asked, this morning, whether I would be sticking around here for a while. Yes, in fact, I am, barring any family emergencies. There is work to be done, for most of August until Thanksgiving, with a few days in Colorado and northern New Mexico at some point in August or September and a trip up to St. Anthony, Idaho (long story), with a possible stop to visit friends en route (have yet to hear back from them), in mid-October, also in the mix. There are other matters, elsewhere in Arizona, to honour as well. Basically, though, the next few months look, right now, to be on a fairly even keel.

Work to be done? I keep hearing that I am supposed to be retired. Well, there are substitute assignments for which I will make myself available; Red Cross activities, here and there; Hope Fest, on September 10 and, most likely, Farm-to-Table Dinner on September 11. Then, there is always work on behalf of my Faith. Those who wish to see me cease and desist are free to stop working themselves, when the time comes-no pressure from this end.

It may be a dog’s life, for Beauty et al, but I’m glad for that which I’ve been given.

Light Beyond Fire

2

April 28, 2022- Four groups of high school freshmen watched a video on the “True Story of King Arthur”, voiced in monotone, by an English actor. Some gave it a fair amount of attention, some fell asleep and others vacillated, between checking their messages and looking at the screen. I have the video pretty much memorized, after four straight viewings. Those who are concerned about the assignment that they face next week, will no doubt go on You Tube and check the film in snippets.

On the other side of our county, the fire that got me serving in a Red Cross shelter, last weekend and on Monday, is still raging, albeit being more contained than a few days ago. Being with youth, on the other hand, gives me a sense of the light that truly overcomes the fires of ignorance, destructiveness and imposition of suffering. The teens look out for one another, far more than they are sometimes credited with doing.

These classes are engaged in the study of a project far more cogent than the examination of King Arthur. In the 1990s and early 2000s, a young teacher undertook work with young people who others had written off. At first, any attempt she made to help them was stymied by jealous and insecure traditionalists, who thought that giving her only freshmen students would make her give up and leave the school.

The incompetents lost. Even hardcore youth have an eye for someone who actually cares for them, and gradually, the freshmen made the transition, grade by grade, to being graduating seniors-and many went on to higher learning. This teacher has extended her work to that of Visiting Professor at a university near her high school. She continues to effect change in the hearts and minds of people who might otherwise have been cast off.

This is not lost on the largely lower middle class youth at the high school where I worked today. They, too, are engaged in a journaling project that will be a saving grace for a good many of them. They, too, have experienced being written off by some in their lives-though thankfully not by many in this school.

The light that rises beyond fire is the light of the heart. It can change lives, and communities.