Winter’s Arrival.


December 20, 2022- It was a bit warmer today, in Prescott, as we reached the cusp of another Solstice. We are, though, pretty much the exception, across North America right now. All reports I am seeing are of bone-chilling cold; the polar Vortex; no outward sign of the dreaded warming. Of course, long-term vagaries of climatic change are not defined by the events of one season or another. That is of no comfort, however, to those on the Plains, in the subarctic and clear into the Deep South, who are faced with temperatures which are well below zero, in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

It is the season of “Look out for your neighbour”, much as one does in scorching heat. I am grateful that my mother is in a place where her warmth and safety are pretty much guaranteed. The cold of New England will not be of harm to her. Those in places as far south as Brownsville, TX; clear to Tallahassee and due north to Pittsburgh are facing the Vortex and will hopefully be kept safe, by the vigilance of their community members.

Vigilance of a different form, not depending on weather, needed exercising today-as I noted a friend’s business was under veiled threat from an online commentator. Fortunately, a screen shot of the rudeness was provided to my friend, in time to take action and have the threats removed from that platform. It is quite possible that, as cruelty to animals often precedes violence against humans, so do online posts presage physical attacks. Steps can now be taken to upgrade security in this case.

In closing, I wish readers a Joyous Yule/Solstice, Hanukah Sameach- and an early Merry Christmas. Posts will continue, on a daily basis, of course, but it is never too soon to wish everyone the best.

The Hawk Slayer’s Roost


July 9, 2022, Crossville- The male chicken can fend off attacks on his flock, by raptors, and the most virile of roosters can kill a hawk, falcon or owl, by stealth and superior strength. T has a sense of this, but there are no hens and chicks for him to guard. He sits in his cage, or goes out into his enclosed porch area. It’s all very humane, this living arrangement, though it’s hardly ideal. It is what his human minders can provide, for the time being-and it surely beats being kept in some sort of bird shelter.

Many people, in their later years, are brought to residences of various sizes and quality levels, either of their own volition or by the choice of their minders. They have, by and large, fought their own good fights, fended off the equivalent of the raptors in their own lives-though I must say the birds of prey are at least doing their part in nature, and have a measure of magnificence about them. The human predators, faced down by so many mothers and fathers, in defense of their own, have few, if any, redeeming qualities-even if some of them wear clerical garb, doctors’ scrubs, law enforcement uniforms, judicial robes or sit at a teacher’s desk. There are rogues in every walk of life, and there are lapses in judgement by many others, who are otherwise decent people. The guardians are thus greatly deserving of their respite-even if it doesn’t always feel like it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

I thought of the battles waged on behalf of my siblings and me, by my parents-especially by Mom, and how each of us have carried on the tradition, on behalf of our own children-and their children. The vigilance will continue, as long as there are threats and challenges. I thought of the care being given the precious children being raised by friends, even thought they are not their own. I thought of the battles for the safety and well-being of women and girls, in a world where so many, even other women, regard a female body as someone else’s possession.

There is, to my mind, scant difference between Community Pregnancy Centers and alternative clinics that offer a full range of services to women in crisis. Where the line needs to be drawn, in any case, is the occasion where the woman in crisis is having her choices made for her-whether it is the judge forbidding her to seek abortion or the doctor, with dollar signs in his/her head, having the person strapped down to a bed and carrying out the procedure, even after she has changed her mind and decided to carry the baby to term.

In an entirely different scenario, Penny had the final say on anything to do with her body, until she no longer could coherently make such decisions. When it fell to me, or to our son, the decision made was always in keeping with what we felt the woman we knew would have chosen.

The hawk slayer sits, peacefully, on his roost, as the rest of us get ready for a good night’s rest. He will sleep, himself, when he senses there is no threat for the evening. May it ever remain so.

Stay on Game


October 10. 2021, Gallup- Today is Double Tenth, the popular name for the National Day of Taiwan. The country is on watch, as it has been since 1949. Taiwan is staying vigilant, on game.

On a smaller scale, I, too, have to remain vigilant, on game-for a different reason. Life is getting more frenetic, I’ve noticed. More people are casting discernment to the wind, with me being one of them, for a split second too long, on September 23. The lesson was to not take eyes off my surroundings-in any situation.

After a morning that became whirlwind-a breakfast at Post 6, delayed a bit by human error (not mine), I hosted an online meeting-starting on time, but with seconds to spare. It all worked out, very nicely. A phone call to my mother, before all that, soothed any concerns I had about her well-being. She was more concerned that I was recovering from 9/23. I am, and just about completely.

Packing was fairly light, though I am ready for the vagaries of October-winter gear is mixed with near summer wear. I set out a bit after noon, noticing that there was a huge volume of traffic headed from Payson to the Phoenix area, for some reason going west to the Verde Valley, then south on I-17. I was headed in the opposite direction, but found it took seven minutes to be cleared for turning left so as to head north to Winslow.

There was no further delay in moving towards Gallup. I did stop for coffee, in the small Navajo Nation border town of Chambers, AZ. The restaurant attached to Days Inn was closed, but the convenience store had coffee. A well-meaning lady brought a stray dog into the store, pleading with the attendant to find a place for the scared puppy. Apparently, the finder was from Phoenix and had no way to care for the dog, which she said had been wandering around near the large semi-trailer trucks parked nearby. It being Sunday, and Chambers being a good hour from the animal shelter in Ganado, there wasn’t much the attendant could do, save put the dog outside and tend to her at shift’s end. Me? I am driving a rental car, have no pet carrier and would not be able to keep the animal at Home Base. I left a small group of people there to sort it out as best they could.

Once here, in western New Mexico’s regional commercial hub, I found no fewer than four motels closed for renovation. All can definitely use a world-class makeover, including the Lariat, where I stayed the last time I was here. El Capitan Motel is open for business and is definitely of recent renovation. The place is at least as good as a Motel 6, if not better. Who says Mom & Pop have nothing on the chains?

I am modifying my itinerary a bit, foregoing a drive into Chaco Culture National Historical Park, as the skinny on the roads into the park says there are very rough sections of the dirt roads, just before the park entrances, on either side. I am driving someone else’s vehicle and discernment precludes taking it on a rough route. I can drive a paved road, along the periphery of Chaco, which will suffice for now. Monday will thus be a day of familiarizing myself with the edges of the Bisti Badlands and the areas around the towns of Farmington, Bloomfield and Cuba.

My vigilance, in several instances of craziness, mostly pertaining to traffic, was much sharper today. I find that most reassuring.



August 9, 2021-

Tenderness, Mutual caring, Each for another.

The above is a Hay(na)ku- a 1-2-3 verse, containing six words, lined as shown.

I saw nothing but tenderness, yesterday, between the three girls and their Nanny. The kids looked after one another, and each other’s personal items. Ages six, seven and nine, they showed no jealousy or lack of understanding, when encouraging each other in their impromptu exercise routines. The woman, for her part, showed the girls the proper way to stretch and kept a light, but constant, vigilance, respecting both the girls’ emotional awareness and the nature of the group.

Tenderness comes a bit harder, when one is tasked with maintaining order in a larger group setting, with people who may not have experienced it very much, in their overall lives. Prisons, mental hospitals, residential schools, and overcrowded, underfunded day schools conjure the notion of ludicrosity, when tenderness is mentioned. It does indeed take a different form, but acknowledging another person’s pain has happened in settings as horrific as concentration camps and plantations of the enslaved.

Tenderness is a key to many things: Resilience, reconciliation, resolution of disputes and the recovery of communities, among them. It is not weakness, but it is the realization of a commitment to pay attention to the needs of others, on a level at which they are equal to oneself.

Islands In The Stream


April 12, 2021- Most people I encountered today were on point with how their lives intertwine with the wider society. All of the students with whom I worked, save two, were focused and completed their tasks in a timely manner. Of the other two, one is a recent arrival from another country and not sure of his feelings towards this one, as yet. The second has focus issues and is given to being sneaky-which, he found, just brought about more vigilance on my part.

I did my weekly laundry run, after work. There are, quite often, some interesting characters at the laundromat. An inquisitive and energetic five-year-old decided I had a kind face and engaged me in conversation, a couple of times asking if I would join her outside in the “fresh air”. I agreed, the second time, after letting her mother know that we would be just on the landing outside the door. Of course, the Mini- Explorer wandered down the walk, just far enough to bring her mother outside, with the command to get back indoors. I knew she was safe, but it was more essential for Mommy to feel that way. Of course, also, the “Village Watchdog”, a woman slightly older than me, assumed the worst, began scowling at me and muttering about perverts. God only knows how far off the mark that woman was.

People whose sole frame of reference is themselves, whose views on anything under the Sun are rooted in fear and ignorance, are like islands in a slow-moving stream. My mother raised us to try to see other people as they see themselves. It is possible to do that with those who jump to conclusions, yet I always have this feeling that their game of parkour may find them falling short of the next roof, and on the sidewalk far below.

No Fooling


April 1, 2021- I’ve learned a few things about levity, over the years. There is a time when it is the best course of action, at a party or when someone could use lightening up. There is then a time for vigilance, such as this morning, when a small child was near flowing water and his mother needed a second pair of eyes. Splashing about, in the river, might have been fun otherwise, but no matter. Keeping people safe is a vital task for any of us.

There is a wider application to discerning between seriousness and tomfoolery. Anything that diminishes the dignity or humanity of another human being, or involves cruelty-either physical or emotional, needs to be off the table-no matter how “witty” it appears at the time. It is hard for some, if they are “on a roll” in terms of amusing self and others or are using humour as a means to increase social standing.

We are, however, as a species, raising consciousness and maturity levels. Meanness to children and small animals is being, thankfully, increasingly called out. People are consulting more about what might be acceptable or unacceptable. Someone’s name is less and less being made the brunt of jokes. There is much left to be done, yet with increasing acceptance of diversity, across all areas of human interaction, we can look forward more to a healthy style of humour.

Hope all had a pleasant All Fool’s Day.

Facing the Dark


December 9, 2020-

A few days ago, I took breakfast at a cafe whose owners subscribe to a more dated world view, one more widely expressed in the American West, of the 19th and early 20th Century. There are many good things about the Old West- Respect for others, unbreakable honesty and “My word is my bond”, parents who stood tall for their children. The immediacy of frontier justice, however, may have worked then, but it is now a tool of dark forces.

I felt a bit sluggish, most of today, until my chiropractor adjusted me back into shape. It underscores just how much more I need to ramp up my stamina. While I continue to monitor my temperature and vital signs, as long as COVID-19 remains a nationwide threat, thus far I feel no symptoms. I practice CDC-recommended hygiene, prudently, and know that stressing wellness, and not panicking, are what will get us through in the long run. It has been hard to say farewell to thirty-one people this year, but others have had it far worse. In the end, the darkness of coronavirus will be sundered, by policies and practices of wellness and medical treatment.

Depending on one’s point of view, either the will of the people is being honoured or it is being flouted. I have been told, by fearful individuals, to keep my views on the state of this country to myself, as if silence will stop the worst of things from happening. Truth is, only vigilance will do that and vigilance requires following the laws of the land. The darkness of wishful thinking, combined with the darkness of censorship-both institutional and individual, will cause only continula heartbreak.

The darkness always prepares us for the light that will follow, if we pay attention. In twelve days’ time, the planets Jupiter and Saturn will appear as one, in the southern sky. They will remind us that darkness, though it occupies half of the twenty-four hour day, in time of winter, is no more than the absence of light.

The darkness of ignorance cries out for knowledge. The darkness of disease summons us to better slef-care and wellness. The darkness of fear and hate asks for understanding and a safe way forward.

We can, and will, move into the Light, but it will take a great deal of forebearance and caution, on all sides.

Prominence, Entitlement, Insecurity


October 18, 2016, Prescott-

In the past week, every prominent male political figure, it seems, has had to endure a fine-toothed comb scrutiny of his record, vis-a-vis behaviour towards women.  It’s only fair, I suppose, for the spotlight to shine across the spectrum.

I can’t say my thinking, over the years, has met the gold standard set by former President Jimmy Carter- but I have indeed long since gotten past lusting in my heart.  It would not have ended well, with all that Penny meant, and means, to me. I could never operate as certain men in the public eye are said to move. The difference is, I am not a man of prominence or entitlement.  I am also secure in my own skin.

Truth be known, having women as friends is, as I have said several times, far more satisfying, in and of itself, than a trail of “conquests” could ever be.  Placing shackles on another being requires endless vigilance.  Helping to liberate and elevate another, frees oneself, in ways that no Lothario could even begin to imagine.

I see a far brighter future for both men and women, as the dust settles on the crash of SS Misogyny.