Random Thoughts, As The Seasons Change

2

October 7, 2022- Some new friends, at an Oktoberfest dinner I attended this evening, told of a young lady who was their cashier, at a small store and who had said she was working two jobs, because she wanted to get things for herself and that was the only way she could do it. They were “amazed”, that such youngsters still existed. My thought: Welcome to the majority of people, young and old, alike! The noisy, entitled class are not that common, they’re just loud.

I have things that I want to do, over the next several years. So, I’m still working, to a reasonable extent. Honest work remains the best way to assure that one can cover the cost of what is wanted, or needed.

I watched an online memorial service for a man who was a friend to thousands of people, around the world, myself included. His wife and children remembered him, in a good way, which goes to show that a loving soul can and does put family first-and expands his soul family, through continuous acts of love. He was laid to rest in the midst of his beloved Black Hills. Rest in power, Tokaya Inajin. You were a fine friend and mentor.

My little family is now in the last two weeks of an extended training exercise, which when completed will leave them in a more secure position. Son will also have made solid progress in his academic work, and have 3 or 4 semesters left, after this. I have every bit of confidence that he will emerge in a place of strength.

It seems some politicians are all over the place, in their public remarks, of late. That, to me, indicates a loss of control, a sense of powerlessness. I’ve had times in my life, when that’s happened. They were not pleasant experiences, and I am grateful to my spirit guides that these are things of the past; that I can respond to challenges, both from random other people and from the course of events, in a more stable way. Another friend, this morning, called that maturity. I agree wholeheartedly.

Food for thought: Behind every extremist act, or pronouncement, lies a fear that has overtaken the mind, as well as a person who should have offered consistent care and guidance, but did not. There but for the grace of the Divine, and for the consistency of my parents, go I.

Mean?

2

September 23, 2022-

The complaint was registered: Why are people so mean? The response was offered: What makes you call them such? The retort: No one gives me what I want!

I am glad to have been raised with a work ethic and to be able to hear “We owe you nothing!” , without sulking or arguing. The same people, after all, do reward me, handsomely, for doing the job that I was hired to do.

This makes it hard for me to identify with someone who does little or nothing, and finds people mean.

Mirror Images

2

March 31, 2022, Americus, GA- The young server’s energy seemed to fill the room, as she took my order one minute, helped her boss set up for a birthday group the next and returned with my drink and two sets of checks for departing patrons, three minutes later. It was clear from her focus and poise that P enjoys her job, and equally clear that she is destined for higher ground. For now, she is everywhere at once, in Cowboys Firepit Grill.

Earlier in the day, I had a couple of lengthy conversations with T, who seemed to be almost a permanent desk clerk at the motel where I stayed, in Weeki Wachee, Florida-more a sign of the times, than an overwhelming desire on her part to hang out at her workplace. Shining through our talks were her love for, and worry over, her daughter (what single parent doesn’t wish for more time with their child?), and her focus on the quality of service provided by the motel.

When I went to a branch of my bank, in Lutz-about forty minutes southeast of Weeki Wachee, in order to take care of my April apartment rent, long distance, D, the teller, took the time to walk me through navigation of the bank’s application on my phone, and processed the transaction as quickly as my account’s minders back in Arizona would allow-which was ten minutes. During this time, D also helped three other customers get either started or finished with their transactions. He also showed me that the bank has an electronic money transfer system that is shared by my landlord’s bank-for future reference. This will certainly make things easier, the next time I’m on the road at the end of a month.

There have been several slackers I’ve encountered on this observational journey, but the three people I mention above, a teenaged woman, a thirty-something single mother and a man in his mid-twenties, embody the kind of work ethic that so many people my age see as having gone by the wayside. Diligence and pride in work are far from dead. None of these people gave an inch in their attention to detail or maintenance of professional standards. Thus did they also mirror my younger sister-in-law, who works two jobs, and with whom I had dinner on Wednesday evening. They mirror my middle brother, who worked diligently in the management of four companies, over a forty-year period, and who hosted me at his home, at the beginning of this trip. I see some of myself in each of the three, though I wish I’d had their focus, at a comparable stage in my own working life.

In short, pride in work is far from passe’. P told me to be sure to stop by again, if I am in the area. I’ll do her one better and pass the word on Cowboys Firepit Grill and Bar, Lake Park, GA, to my brother and his crew back in Atlanta. It’s worth the time, especially as he likes exploring small towns around Georgia.

The Wolf Bunny

2

January 24, 2022-

The short, slightly-built young girl came into class and sat down, sporting a costume of her own design. Here was a presence covered in a rabbit’s fur, with padded foot wear, and with huge, lagomorphic ears, that had the hair of a wolf. Her face was covered in a yellow print face mask, leaving only her eyes, and the trademark surly “Present”, as her name was called at roll, to remind me of who was underneath the disguise. This was the Wolf Bunny, and anyone who didn’t like it could simply “monitor and adjust”. That point made, she set herself to work, and accomplished a lot more than most of her classmates.

Strength Shines Brightly

4

December 30, 2021- The server/manager was sitting quietly with her toddler daughter, as I entered the otherwise empty room. There is that ting, ting ,ting that goes off, when the door opens, so she quietly arose and, with her regal bearing, greeted me with a slight smile and took my order. Shortly afterward, a local couple entered, followed by two other parties, and the restaurant’s owner, there only to give her hard-working friend a gift bag. Such is the way, at Double C Diner, in Moriarty, New Mexico.

I first happened by this spot, two years ago, whilst staying at the nearby Lariat Motel, on the first day of a cross-country drive. Back then, the little girl was just learning to get around on her own and was into everything. Moriarty is a town of close-knit families, so the mother was able to focus on her serving duties, while a fair number of aunts, uncles and cousins tended to the child, until her father showed up and took over.

When I choose places to patronize, the quality of the product does matter. Equally important, however, is the character of those who work there, their inner strength, work ethic, demeanour and the resulting radiance. That has made me go back to places like Zeke’s, The County Seat and Raven Cafe, here in Prescott; Macy’s, in Flagstaff; Harbor Breakfast, in San Diego; Henry and The Fish, and The Pantry, in Santa Fe; D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre-and Double C. The energy of the young staff helps, but it is the ambiance of joy and warmth that makes all the difference.

J had almost a sixth sense, quietly and seamlessly moving between her motherly duties and running the restaurant that was getting busier-while the cook and the dishwasher were going about their tasks. Everything happened in an atmosphere of calm strength. (Eventually, from watching another patron, it dawned on me that J was not going to run my bill back and forth to her register, so I got up and paid. Her twinkling eyes said it all- “You’re okay”.) That, too, characterizes every one of the places I mentioned above-and many others. Jess, (not her real name), is symbolic of what has kept, and will continue to maintain, our world in good form. It is focused energy, mindfulness of surroundings and recognition that all that is successful in life happens in its due time which will keep our Race on track.

As I drove back to Prescott this evening, that awareness, and the sense that all is going to be alright in our world-regardless of setbacks, or temporary misunderstandings, kept my thoughts in perspective.

Around Hometown: Day 1

2

May 17, 2021, Saugus- Thomas Wolfe famously said, “You can’t go home again”. He was making the point that both the home and the dweller change over time, and thus the fit is never quite what it was, when the two were intertwined, in the processes of childhood and adolescence.

This could be said, in my case, as much as it could be said about anyone. There is, however, the corollary that aspects of home go with us, wherever we may go in the world. I may have, long ago, lost my eastern New England accent, and the relatively watchful guardedness around strangers has faded, somewhat, but I have taken with me the basic lessons imparted by my parents, and the other significant adults of my youth: Aunts and uncles, grandmothers, concerned neighbours, the best of my teachers and advisers.

The genetic memory of my grandfathers also has impacted the values I have taken into my being. Both men worked harder than they might have, but both were providing for large families. Grampy Boivin was with General Electric, and had his own small backyard farm-with poultry, rabbits and a full garden. Papa Kusch, who I never met in the flesh, worked as a shoemaker, then came home to tend his sizable garden. The children who they sired were, to a one, imbued with the finest of work ethics-which they, in turn, imparted to each of us cousins-some 80, in all.

I also learned, growing up in Saugus, the importance of neighbourliness and community consciousness. Looking out for the welfare of the whole, underscored by my being the oldest of five children, is hard-wired in me. What is also a part of that is the concept of teamwork. Being an individual rescuer, or playing the victim and expecting to be rescued by one or two people, has also not been something that has made much sense to me. Thus, my life has been one effort at team building after another.

My brother, his brother-in-law and I were a team for much of today. While I focused on clearing items from the upstairs rooms of our childhood home, the other two men were concerned with the larger first floor. Sixty-six years of full living were reduced to more bags of trash, donated apparel and curated family keepsakes, books and necessaries than I have seen since my own house-vacating, in 2011.

No, I did not go home again today, but I paid homage to a great house, which served seven people to the full.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 7: The Enemy Is The Mindset

2

June 7, 2020-

I got back to Home Base at 10:30, this morning, after a restful night in Flagstaff (keeping obedient to our lingering statewide curfew) and a pleasant breakfast of smoked trout and gouda omelet, at a lovely little place called Downtown Diner. Never let it be said that our rising generations are without a work ethic. Every one of the teens and twenty-somethings who served us, this weekend, was working nonstop.

Now, to the title of today’s post. I read, this evening, of the murder of a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy, in the line of duty. It had nothing to do with a protest, of any kind-and was apparently done by a mentally ill man, who had easy access to firearms. For sharing this news, I found myself painted as spreading “an Alt-Right trope”, as the phrase, “All Lives Matter” was part of the article (as was “Black Lives Matter”, in a sympathetic way).

There is a cost to denying others their humanity. For centuries, it has been the purview of an elite which has prided itself on the maintenance of power, wealth and “tradition”, to the detriment of those regarded as the “lower classes”. The deaths of peasants, and later, of slaves, were viewed by the high and mighty as mere trifles.

Those lower classes learned this lesson, all too well. The miasma of bloodletting, during the French and Russian Revolutions, was the natural consequence of those centuries of rule by feudal mindset. The rulers would point to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and the peasantry were cowed, for a time. When things became too much to bear, the cherry-picked passages from the Bible no longer held currency. Unleashed, the long-suffering masses lashed out, in every direction.

The same is true today. Decades, if not centuries, of being told to find one’s place, and stay in it, have worn those who have heard such drivel, to a frazzle. There has been progress, and there will be more, in the area of building a just society. The trick, however, is to not, as Pete Townshend warned us, in his song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, let “the parting on the left” become “parting on the right”.

There is elitism among conservatives, and there is elitism among progressives. There are people living in deprivation, on both sides, as well. If there is to be genuine progress, the recognition of the enemy being our mindsets, our egos, has to be kept front and center. Otherwise, those at whom one looks down one’s nose will bring about changes that will serve to keep the cycle of disparity going.

We are all in this together.

Mamba

8

January 27, 2020-

The fog that can roll in, off any given coastline, shoreline or river bank, as air temperature changes, can render even the best of navigators helpless.  There have been several times, over the years, when I have arrived safely at a destination only because the car was in good shape and there were no impediments, other than the lack of visibility.

I leave it to the experts, to figure out what went horribly wrong, yesterday, when nine people, including former National Basketball Association player, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, were killed in a helicopter crash, near Calabasas, CA, outside Los Angeles.  Of course, conspiracy theories have already surfaced, but no matter. The bottom line is, a highly-talented and accomplished basketball player and teacher who, like the rest of us, had his flaws, is dead.

His legacy:  Both good-the Mamba Basketball Academy, philanthropy for women’s sports-especially for basketball, and a graceful reconciliation with his beautiful and intelligent wife; and bad- at least one badgered and dishonoured victim of a serious misstep, 17 years ago, is all too common among those who have either worked diligently (as Kobe Bryant certainly did) or have inherited good fortune, in reaching the upper echelons of society.  “Rank has its privileges” has been, thankfully, countered by the #MeToo movement.  Let’s leave that aspect of Mr. Bryant’s life, for a later date. To the degree we come back to it all, it should only be for whatever healing society is willing to afford the savaged victim, especially as he was not the only one who hurt her. Victim blamers have their own burden of guilt.

The improvement, in the conduct of professional basketball, had much to do with Kobe Bryant’s example, on the court-and, in his later years, off court as well.  His “Mamba” ethic, relentless in pursuit of a goal, in a sport at which he excelled, has proven to be well-emulated   He saw competitors as comrades- a fact well-borne out by the torrent of tribute, all quite heart-felt, from NBA players, past and present.  He saw his duty, as a citizen and social icon, as far outweighing any hubris and egoism that may have gotten in his way.  Thus, he made raising strong daughters his mission.  Thus, he maintained a wide variety of friendships, across social strata.  Thus, his last public act was congratulating the man who surpassed him in total league scoring:  LeBron James.

We are, each of us, such works in progress.  I only wish for that progress to continue in the spirit world, for Kobe Bryant, and for all who made great work of their physical lives, even if they stumbled, and fell hard.  Rest in Peace, Mamba.

 

Blessed Intentions

8

November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-

I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County.  Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes.  These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.

Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.

I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday.  This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table.  So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.

Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities.  The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.

It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world.  The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities.  At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing.  Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children.  There is a group meeting,  in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.

If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age.  Hygiene is excellent.

Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.

20171119_154245[1]

This is a bottle wall.  Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.20171119_154703[1]

Artwork is random and eclectic.  I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.

20171119_154838[1]

Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.

20171119_155010[1]

This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs.  Holly  and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.

20171119_155410[1]

I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities.  Their work ethic is as good  as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world.  Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle.   There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype.   Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education.  This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.

I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least.  Life is good, where there is love and devotion.

 

Wakefulness

3

May 5, 2017Prescott-

I  am freshly returned from a visitation for one of Prescott’s genuine champions.The concept of waking, a seemingly odd term for remembering a departed soul, prior to burial or often, in these days, cremation, is perhaps in hopes that death is not a real thing.

I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but the life of Jayme Salazar (he pronounced his name alternately in English and in Spanish), came back before those listening to the eulogies.His childhood and adolescent antics, presented by his older sister, were reassuring to all, that a full life proceeded from that awkward time.  A lifelong friend of his recounted the man’s intense work ethic, combined with a genuine love of people, which established his Taco Don’s Restaurant as one of the city’s premier lunch venues, and a true gathering place.

He came came here from California, by way of Las Vegas, as so many of us have come here from farther afield.  Jayme found that the mountains, lakes, dells and grasslands of the area, but above all, the earthiness of the people, were a capturing force.  That he gave his life here, in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was the ultimate giving back.

Some six years ago, I saw my beloved wife go homeward, to the Light, in a more prolonged way, but not dissimilar period of service to the children and general citizenry of a western suburb of Phoenix.  Any home in which we ever lived together was open to countless people.  Any school in which she ever worked was the center of our married life, with work and love likewise moving in tandem.

So, I understood, fully, standing in the anteroom of the funeral home, this evening, that priceless spirit, that brings casual customers and acquaintances of a loving soul to a sense that here moved a lifelong friend; here lived a steadfast pillar.

To each one to whom I’ve bid farewell, these many years, let me close with the voice of Enya.

Jayme, Penny, Norm, Dad, Brian, Colonel Mortimer, Uncle George, Aunt Adeline, Margaret, Mike C. and so many standing beside you, in the Legions of Light, thank you, for having lit my way and for lighting the night.