Ten Gratitudes

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November 25, 2021, Grapevine- One of the inherent goodnesses of this day, that is so strangely placed one month after the last harvests have been completed in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, is that so many people nonetheless stop to count their blessings. There will always be those who say they have none, but that is a topic for another time. The Universe will see such people along, in its way.

I spoke with my mother and each of my siblings, earlier today, and being comforted by the overall spirit of optimism that was conveyed. My little family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner, which they put together nicely, within the framework of the usual lunch hour. The meal set me to thinking of those aspects of my life that generate gratefulness. These are what come to mind, in this time of ongoing crisis and victory, and in no particular order of importance:

  1. I am more accepted and honoured, by more people, than at any time in my life. Those who once found me strange have expanded their own viewpoints, either by dint of enlightenment or by virtue of going through life’s inevitable grind. I also find it easier to understand their pain.
  2. My judgment is clearer, more focused than it has been in times past. A good part of that comes from moving away from overthinking.
  3. Every person dear to me is in generally good health. Some are getting over mild cases of COVID, but that is more incidental than chronic. They are recovering and will be back in good stead, very shortly.
  4. Humanity is moving in an essentially positive direction. Problems of living will always be with us, and there will ever be the challenges posed by the wayward, the disgruntled and the egocentric. By and large, though, we have as a species made great strides in facing the gauntlet of a harsh world.
  5. I find much to admire, in a broad cross-section of humanity. The groundedness and tradition of conservatives meshes far more easily, in my mind, with the inclusiveness and innovation of progressives than either group sometimes can countenance.
  6. The youngest generations, even in the one-step forward, two-steps back matter of overcoming prejudice, are showing more maturity, at a younger age, by and large.
  7. It is easier to ignore the wirepullers and shrill voices of negativism than it once was for me. Keeping eyes on the prize of a better world is the only true path.
  8. People at the grassroots are taking back their communities, and not in an exclusionary or hierarchical manner. The elites will find that they must meld with the vast majority of humanity, not the other way around-despite the temporary trends in some areas towards control by artificial intelligence and autocratic structures. As people get over their collective fears, they are banding together in a united front.
  9. The growing awareness that the human body has what it needs to heal itself, and that all that is supplemental to this healing may be found in nature, is a corollary to this grassroots renaissance.
  10. The great Spiritual Teachers, speaking with one Voice, are showing us the way towards an even brighter future for this abundant planet.

Musings On A Day of Rest

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November 18, 2021- As I was leaving the clinic yesterday, the nurse responsible for wrapping the stitched area with gauze and bandages had done a seamless, excellent job. She gave me instructions for carefully showering, not exercising or doing anything strenuous and leaving the covering on for at least 48 hours.

As I had more or less cleared my calendar of work, for today and tomorrow, this set of instructions seemed fortuitous. Although I tend to march to my own drummer, when it comes to following a regimen prescribed by a health professional, there is no question of adherence. It’s just nicer to be around, and fully functioning, for a while longer.

So, I sat inside most of the day, moving around enough so that I stayed relevant. There was the simple task of putting the trash barrels back. There was light food preparation. There was making sure the temperature on my water heater was raised (so that showers are no longer tepid). Most every other activity was mental: Planning Thanksgiving and the days around it, with my little family; sending out notifications for activities this weekend; watching a commemorative video about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as the Centenary of His passing approaches (November 27).

Life is ever a trade-off. Tomorrow, at 4 p.m., the bandages will be carefully removed, and I will look to be the walking wounded for a week or two. That’s okay. The seasoned doctors and the nurses who tend, very carefully, to the varied needs of their patients deserve nothing but respect and appreciation, the kind that comes from following instructions; the kind that comes from not second-guessing and casting aspersions on their motivation. It’s all just another variation on the conviction that every person, from a student to a retired volunteer, who lives and works honestly, will have my support and encouragement.

Tomorrow will see a bit more activity, but this day was a good one-and productively healing.

The Prairie Sings

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November 26, 2020, Plano-

The prairie sings of those

who once walked among its grasses,

both short and tall.

The Spaniards came, one day,

and brought horses.

The People learned to ride

and their world changed.

The forests sing of those

who cleared useful paths

among their fastnesses,

cultivated plants, grew herbs

and managed the moose and deer.

The French and English came

and bought furs.

The People learned to trade

and their world changed.

Yhe deserts sing

of those who learned to grow

maize, squash and chilis,

by building irrigation canals

and by dry farming.

The Spanish came here, too,

seeking gold and silver.

The People learned to delude

and their world changed.

The People were here,

long before wars,

religious conflict

and pestilence

brought others from Europe,

as natural calamities,

wars and pestilence

had sent them

here, from three directions,

millennia before.

Now, the People are still here.

Nothing can destroy those

whose hearts and souls

are rooted in Mother Earth,

who sings of all her children.

I hope one and all had a Happy Thanksgiving, as the three of us had.It was non-traditional, as we grilled chicken sausages and carne asada on a gas grill outside, in Plano Home’s outside pavilion. The dessert was chocolate pecan pie. It was as close to the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner as the original meal probably was- with its menu of oysters and clams, squab, pheasant, maize and fiddlehead greens. It was unlikely that any turkey with dressing was served, nor was there any pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving, then as now, is a festival of the heart.

Threading the Needle

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November 24, 2020, Plano-

I set out, early this morning, for Phoenix, then by air to Dallas and on to this home away from home, just north of the Big D. My son and daughter-in-law live here, and it is the logical place to mark my coming seventieth birthday.

The flight, and its preceding and subsequent drives, went very smoothly. Although it was a full flight, I was masked from the time I left my car in Long-term Parking at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport until the time I got in Aram’s car at DFW-and I was seated with two young boys on the plane, thus encountering minimal risk (Yes, they, too, wore masks).

This trip flies in the face of the demands of many public health officials, that everyone stay home and meet virtually, over both Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is one caveat: I will be spending most of the next five days in this apartment. Travelers, like myself, have a responsibility to thread the needle of any departure from our primary homes in a very careful manner.

Thus, I am wearing filtered face masks, sanitizing my hands and keeping the prescribed six-foot distance in public places= as I have been doing since March. Thus, I am avoiding being in a ridiculously crowded indoor space. No, the airport was not so crowded that I could not maintain physical distance.

In a few short days, as indicated above, I will enter my eighth decade on this planet. I intend to continue most, if not all, of my acts of service and, when a modicum of success in counteracting Coronavirusdisease 2019 is reached, to resume planned travels, furhter afield.

For now, I am fotunate to be with my little family.

Last Quarter Plans

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October 11, 2020-

With October nearly half over, it’s high time for me to look at this last three months, or so, of 2020.

October 12-17– This is Fall Break week and is the first of the two weeks I gave myself off, from any out -of-state deployments with Red Cross. If a wildfire breaks out around here, of course I will be on hand to help. Otherwise, on Tuesday, I will hike the first of two peaks in northern Arizona that go by the name Red Mountain. It is in an area between Prescott Valley and Lynx Lake, a section of the Bradshaw Mountain foothills that I have not explored, up to now. Monday and Wednesday feature Zoom meetings, two of which I host, so walks downtown will suffice. Thursday through Saturday, the road will lead to other Red Mountain, north of Williams, on the road to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. If the road to Hermit’s Rest is open, on the South Rim, I will go there as well.

October 18-24- This is a Holy Week for Baha’is, with two days spent commemorating the births of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah, which did occur back-to-back, though two years apart- Baha’u’llah having been born in 1817 and His Herald, in 1819. It’ll be different, celebrating these auspicious days on Zoom.

I may also have work opportunities, with the Sub service, but we’ll see.

October 25-31– Halloween Week will also be different this year. No word has gone out, from either of the groups who have put on parties, in years past. My default will be to throw on the silly suit I wore last year, and bring treats to neighbour families who know me. It may also be either a heavy subbing week or yet another deployment, for a disaster response yet unseen.

November 1-6- Election Week will have its share of challenges, both local and further afield. I am leaving my service options open: Our normally quiet, live-and-let-live little city could need as many voices of reason as can be had-or it could stay quiet, and congenial. There could very well be those who need the services of the Red Cross, if mayhem results in mass displacement. I will have the blessing of a virtual Spiritual Retreat, each evening, from November 5-8, to provide online balance.

November 8-14- Veterans’ Week will hopefully remind everyone that Freedom isn’t Free. Any public activities on November 11 will find me there. November 12-14 will be a good time to head up to Painted Desert-Petrified Forest.

November 15-21- Mid-month will be either a full work week or a time for day trips to Sedona, finishing the long-delayed completion of a hike on Limekiln Trail and going up Cathedral Rock.

November 22-28- Thanksgiving Week, ending with my 70th Birthday, so it’ll be Texas Time. Son will use a grill in the apartment complex courtyard, so this will be another fine gathering. I will likely be quite reflective, on that Saturday, with a view towards using all for which I can be grateful to help those who have been discounted and marginalized- the mirror image of the fourth Thursday in November.

November 29-December 5- The first week of my eighth decade will begin a run-up to my retirement (always unofficial) from substitute teaching. In practical terms, what that will mean is that I will not NEED to work, in order to make ends meet, after this calendar year. I will still be amenable to going in, two or three days a week, from January through May. The major emphasis, though, will shift to volunteer work, for which I’m already getting plenty of practice.

December 6-12- This marks forty years since I first met Penny. A trip to Zuni and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve will be in order. I will also stop in Bisbee, which we never visited together, on the way back-just because it’s there.

December 13-19- There may be a smidgen of work to be done, but my emphasis this week will be culling old files out of the cabinet and putting effort into shredding.

December 20-26- Depending on family input, and the state of the pandemic, I will either make a journey to New England or devote some time to an Arizona Christmas.

December 27-January 2- Part of the time will be in Texas and part will be in Florida, with the Gulf Coast in between (weather-permitting). The first week of 2021 will be the same, in reverse.

Some things will remain constant, location notwithstanding. I will have regular Baha’i Zoom calls to maintain and continuing to pay off what is left of my bills will be achieved.

This is my vision for the last twelve weeks of a tempestuous year.

No Pause Button

4

December 1, 2019-

This holiday weekend, now drawing to a close, reminded me that even in the midst of a wonderful celebration, there may come the cry of the needy.  I tended to that, as best I could, without besmirching the kindness of one of my dearest friends and members of her family.  I was honoured, beyond measure, on Thursday afternoon and evening.  It doesn’t take much, anymore, for me to feel that.  I go forward, at age 69, with a continued sense of personal worth.  Thanksgiving, 2019 was the sixth straight year at table with this wonderful family that has found its way into my heart.

Friday was, of course, our first real bout of winter weather, one month ahead of the actual season.  Shoveling a path to the street was followed by a night manning a shelter, which no one needed.  That is beside the point, though, as shelters are, by definition, designed to be manned proactively.  I have to say, the large Arizona Republic Thanksgiving Crossword kept me  very well-occupied, nearly until morning.

Saturday, I finally answered the figurative tapping on the window, and hopefully have drawn the right attention to the issues that were raised by an online correspondent.  The rest of the day, though, was spent catching up on the sleep I forewent, whilst manning the shelter.  Being up most of Friday night, though, showed that I still have stamina.  The evening was graced by the megaton voice of one Jacqui Foreman, who showed both vocal range and mastery of two types of guitar, in a concert at The Raven Cafe. She and her two accompanists delivered a solid three hours of a range of music, from soft rock ballads to acoustic jazz; Ma Rainey, through Frank Sinatra, to The Cranberries and Metallica, all find a spot in Sister Jackson’s repertoire. Among the people who I encountered there were a veteran musical arranger, a little boy who was somehow fascinated by my presence and a young lady who waved at me, from across the room- a case of mistaken identity.  It’s always colourful at The Raven.

Today, the last month of a decade of growth launched itself.  I tidied up my driveway, which had still been laden with ice and snow.  The sun was a big helper, and now the driveway is mostly clear.  The breakfast meeting at the Legion was cancelled, so I went down to Cupper’s, for an order of skinny pancakes, with melon on the side.  Several transient men were there, warming themselves, waiting for a Salvation Army service, across the street.  They had a very sobering account of the snowstorm just passed.  At least, there was an active shelter-not the one I manned, but the regular overnight shelter that SA provides, on below-freezing nights.  The day ended with a short Baha’i meeting, and now I look forward to a fruitful December.

Work will likely still be slow, but I will be mainly concerned with my dear daughter-in-law, who arrives  next Sunday, for nearly a month.  Aram will be back, after New Year’s and his last days with the regular Navy.  It’ll give me a chance to introduce Yunhee to our fair state and to several of my dear friends.  Then, too, is everything that has to do with Christmas time in Prescott, and around the state.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXVI: Days of Earnestness

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November 22-26, 2017, across Arizona-

I cannot not serve others, even on holiday.  I am hard-wired to look for how best to relieve another’s pain and ennui, while finally having learned, thanks to my blessed departed wife, how to involve the other person in the solution to that suffering and ennui.

It comes to me, as to where I should go, on a given day, and who I should visit.  On Wednesday, with no prior schedule, I went out to Superior, to see my friends at Sun Flour Market.  I learned that my friend, whom I felt as if I’ve known forever, had left, to pursue other ventures.  I learned that my friend, who owns the enterprise, is facing a great personal challenge and that my unexpected visit, along with those of a few other friends, was most comforting.  No journey is ever wasted.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was spent with my best friend and several of her family members.  It’s always a blessing to be with this woman, and my favourite holiday was no exception.  One of the other men carved the turkey, but I got the best job- trimming all the meat off the carcass, after dinner.  That, to me, has always been the most satisfying task- guaranteeing that there is plenty of meat for many a meal to come.

Friday morning, I went down to Phoenix, and visited a long-time friend who is entering the vacation rental business.  Here is a photo of the house in question.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

If interested in a Phoenix getaway, check this one out: https://evolvevacationrental.com/387677.

After looking over the house and yard, I headed up to Cave Creek, lunch at Local Jonny’s and a couple of hours of hiking at Spur Cross Ranch Preserve.  I will have more to say, and show, about this lovely expanse, in a few posts from now, but here are a couple of scenes of Spur Cross Trail and its offshoots.

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Above is an oasis, built along Cottonwood Wash.

This is A’s stone ruin, which he built with his mom and grandma.

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Here is a Huhugam mano and metate, from the 11th Century.

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Spur Cross will see me again, soon.

Saturday morning found me up early and headed out the door by 6:30. A stop fro breakfast at Verde Cafe, Camp Verde, got me well-set for the rest of the drive to Native American Baha’i Institute, at Burntwater, on the Navajo Nation.  The occasion was the Light of Unity Art and Music Festival.  I bought a few things, and took several photos, mostly in low light.  The power was in the music and in the accompanying dance.  Here are a few scenes of the power that radiated outward.  Diversio,  The Treasure Crew and the venerable Benally family laid down that power.

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There is unstoppable power in unity.  I haven’t been up to visit the Dineh as often as I might.  My role is increasingly cast in Prescott and vicinity, but as another friend remarked, this afternoon, distance to a friend’s house is ever small.  I will support these great efforts as best I can.

Sunday, I happened over to my best friend’s sister’s house, and ordered a Christmas gift, as she is a rep for a nationally-known cosmetics firm.  This took a couple of hours, well-spent, discussing a variety of subjects, around the display table.

Now, it’s back to work and a satisfying routine.  When I wake up, I will be 67, and a whole new set of expectations come with that seemingly artificial renewal.

 

Bountiful

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November 23, 2017, Prescott-

The day set aside

for giving thanks

as family,

has not failed me,

for a good many years.

All my married life,

we had blessed meals,

with a couple of minor mishaps,

here and there,

which never quite

detracted from the

overall amazing meals,

which we prepared.

about two-thirds

of the time.

The years of widowhood,

have sometimes seen me

the guest of our Navy,

enjoying copious amounts

of well-prepared food,

or my being somewhat

a guide to the splendours

of Julian Cafe.

This year, my son

is in Korea.

I am here,

and most fortunate

to have a fine chef

as a very special friend.

Her daughter is following

closely,

in those culinary

footsteps.

What my friend does,

she does with love in her heart.

So, it went

that one of the most bountiful

days of the year,

was once again blessed.

 

Always Welcome

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November 27, 2016, Banning- I am fortunate to find many places, to which I can return, no matter how long it’s been since I have stopped by.  One such is Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in this small, but pleasant city along I-10, east of Riverside.  The decor reminds me of both my Godmother’s kitchen, when I was a child, and various places in which I’ve stopped in the Midwest, over the years.  The owners and waitresses always seem to remember me, from previous visits and the place just feels like home.

My son’s place, in Chula Vista feels likewise, it goes without saying.  It will be strange to go to San Diego, after February, and not have him there to visit.  He will be doing other tasks, in his next duty station, though, and I will continue to feel pride in his achievements.  We had a quiet, but comfortable, visit, over Thanksgiving and will have a few days together, here and there, between now and the time he heads out.

I got back, easily, to Prescott, and it will be a busy, fruitful month ahead- with work for both the Prescott schools and my Faith occupying a great deal of time.  Needless to say, there are plenty of places here, where I likewise always feel welcome.  At the end of this week, for example, the town’s Christmas tree will be lit and all of us in attendance will feel an abundance of welcome, from one another.

As I will write tomorrow, I personally will welcome another year to my chronology:  66. Hope all are rested from a joyful Thanksgiving!