The Tide

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March 20, 2020-

I awoke today to a sky that was mixed, in its promises for the day.  As it happened, clouds came and went, allowing a basically sunny day.  I spent much of the day reflecting on a piece that I had written in 1996, which my brother forwarded me, early this morning.

The day stayed mixed. I was not surprised to learn that work is delayed until April 13, at the earliest.  Swinging by Raven Cafe, one of my hangouts, I ordered delectable mushroom soup and a lamb burger with sweet potato fries, as a take-out meal.  Enjoying the soup, sitting outside, whilst watching the antics of a trio of dogs and talking with some of my mates, was arguably the high point of the day.  I took the lamb burger and SPF home, so as not to be a canine tormentor.  It tasted every bit at home,as it would have in public.

After catching up with my photo scanning project, on behalf of a longtime friend, I got a call to head out on a project for a revitalized Yavapai County Angels, delivering food boxes to an elder, picking up more supplies for further deliveries, over the next several days and visiting one of our local grocery stores, as my teammate was hoping against hope for paper products and loaves of bread to give to other elders.  I found three fresh-baked loaves (packaged loaves went the way of toilet paper and most other items.  These will go to some fortunate senior citizen.

The matter of the near future arose, as it always does of late.  There is an ominous feeling, among many of the people I encountered.  Everyone was rattled, to some extent or another, so I kept a low profile, though my saying that grocery stores were still open in states that were on lock-down provoked a furious response.

The tide is roiling.  We can perform random acts of kindness, as many are choosing to do, or we can sequester ourselves in racism and intolerance of any divergent opinions, as even some close to me are starting to do.  This is not a “Chinese” virus, or even an Asian virus, as the president and a few others keep claiming.  It is a worldwide threat, no matter who, or what malevolent force, unleashed it.  The whole of humanity has to move, in unison, to fight it.

I will continue to help in any way I can, for as long as my 69-year-old self is allowed, and as long as those who are committed to  forcing drastic measures, such as martial law, are not allowed to hold sway, we will make progress, acting as a community.

 

It Has Come To This

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November 11, 2016, Prescott-  I had an exemplary Veteran’s Day.  Marching with a small group of humanitarians, known as Yavapai County Angels, I helped to send the message that, as I wrote yesterday, conservatives are not monsters and reaching out to those in need is a universal calling.

At a lunch afterward, the vocal women in our group excoriated anyone whose politics were not in line with the most ultraconservative viewpoint.   Yet, in the next breath, they extolled the estimable Dr. Ben Carson- hardly a dead ringer for Attila the Hun.  This tells me that Tea Party members are as fearful and confused as their “opposite numbers”, who have spent the past few days protesting and causing moderate mayhem, in several cities, large and small, from Flagstaff, AZ and Portland, to Dublin and Tokyo.

In my humble view, Donald  J.Trump, Sr. has 180 days to establish that he has a keen sense of right and wrong, and the ability to rein in both his own impulses and those of the most vulgar among us.  Barack Obama had to coach his own Vice President to not use profanity in any situation where words could POSSIBLY be overheard, then or later, by impressionable children.  Mr. Trump’s position may be somewhat reversed- it may fall to the devout Michael Pence to coach his boss, in the finer points of the Lord’s English.

Then, there is policy- and law.  My table mates want to see the recently ousted sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, as Secretary of Homeland Security.  I do not, if only for the simple reason that the stress would likely kill the man- he is 84.  There are more cogent reasons why I would not be in favour of such an appointment- but why quibble?  Suffice it to say, wanting to see people in high office, just because those people are loud and agree with one’s fear-based thinking, is exactly what gets nations in dire trouble.  Those on the Left need to remember this, just as much as those on the Right.

I want to see a Million Woman March take place- not to stop the inauguration of Mr. Trump, but to inform it, nonviolently, civilly and clearly.  It has come to this:  We are an organic whole.  The right hand cannot slap, stab, pester, annoy or bullyrag the left hand- or vice versa.

The Road to 65, Mile 261: Trusting the Journey

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August 16, 2915, Prescott-  It is coming down to a very telling choice.  Perhaps as early as November, maybe not until January, 2017, or at some point in between the two, my intuition is telling me it’s time to move on.

I say November, because by then, my pledges to the Yavapai County Angels and Hope Fest will have been honoured, the snows will be gathering in Massachusetts, and I don’t want to leave my mother alone, in that house where we grew up, while the rest of my family is facing stresses of their own.

I say it’s time to move on, because all my friends in this town of Prescott are doing just fine, and will continue to be fine whether I’m here or not.  Truth is, I am spending more, in a modestly expensive apartment, with minimal day-to-day work, then I have in any given month on the road, these past few years. I am not a salesman, yet I have looked to help people with a product in which I believe, but without seed money, one cannot do much in establishing an essential oils trade, and I am NOT going to go the “Fund Me” route.  I have been offered a minimum wage position as an apartment complex manager, but would still have to pay my own full rent- so that’s out.

I have had some places come into my head, in quiet moments.  I could settle in a more economical living space, live in a place where  I could pretty much walk to a school, where I could substitute teach, and a few such places have entered my consciousness.  I could also go somewhere where people live in community, not in semi-anonymity.  Places where my presence would be discomfiting to people I know online or in real time, and there are a few such people, would not be on my list of options.

These are all rather petty-sounding, I know, and many have it far worse than me.  The issue for me, though, is more existential.  It’s more a matter of no place having really felt like home, since Penny passed.  It’s more a matter of people having their own priorities and life patterns, in which someone like me does not belong.  I know, that will be the same, no matter where I go, and that will be something I have to face.  My welcome here, though, is wearing thin, and so it’s time to trust the journey and start planning ahead.

UPDATE:  I will be removing a couple of photos from a post I did on Santa Monica, a few weeks ago, and hopefully the post will be less discomfiting to those concerned.

The Road to 65, Mile 238: What Now?

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July 24, 2015, Prescott- I had little time, this morning, to ponder the title question, as there was an urgent service event taking place, from 9- 1.  About forty of us gathered in the assembly hall of United Methodist Church, to fill backpacks for students from grades K-12.  School supplies, as many are aware, are a major expense for households and we were fortunate to have over $ 1,000.00 worth, from backpacks to pencils, donated for distribution, both by individuals and companies.  In addition, several hundred books were donated, by various corporations.  Half the group were us Baha’is, which further gratified me.

It is a lovely season, here in central Arizona.  I will have some time, before school starts, to help where needed with the Red Cross and Yavapai County Angels.  These opportunities will, of course, be available during the year, as well, though I will be also about the business of replenishing my resources.

Some have gotten the notion that I am primarily just a guy who runs hither and thither, photographing people, places and things, visiting historical sites and hiking mountains, canyons and beaches.  That is part of who I am, but it can hardly stand alone, in anyone’s life.  Indeed, except for about a dozen close friends, most of the people I have met this summer will not give me much thought, and several, I may never see again.  That doesn’t make the experiences any less memorable.  I will treasure each day spent in Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska- just as I treasure each day here.

A friend spoke recently of “destination addiction.”  I remember, years ago, reading of a man from Italy, who had not been home in ten years, and had been so many places, with so little time to absorb each new experience, that he snapped, and was in the care of the Libyan National Police, spending his days staring into space, and mumbling.  Such a fate could not be more terrifying.

I will leave Yavapai County only once in August, to visit some long-lost friends in Hopi, an indigenous area about 100 miles northeast of Flagstaff.   Fall might afford some hiking opportunities, here and there- but not more than a day’s drive from base. The Christmas and New Year holidays will find me visiting family, but as an independent member of the brood.  I find I am altogether more settled, as many would expect, after four years of rather frenetic road trips and a European jaunt.

They have taught me, though, that I am a worthwhile person, that I can survive on my own, that I can make mistakes in my relationships with others, sometimes dreadful ones, and recover, with a major lesson learned.  I don’t need everyone’s approval, and there were a couple of people on the road, this summer, who made it clear that I was far from welcome to visit them. That was fine, because there were a vast number of others who were glad for my presence.  I take advantage of no one, and no one takes advantage of me.

The Road to 65, Mile 215: Challenges/Opportunities

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July 1, 2015, Prescott- As is always the case when I return from a wandering, there were lots of base camp tasks in front of me.  Not the least of these was tracking down my pile of mail, so as to get two pay checks deposited and thus stave off NSF.  I have had a good track record, since recovering from the Great Recession, and aim to keep it that way.

Finance has neither been my strong suit, nor has it been an Achilles heel.  The best way, for me, to go about life is with cash and check.  Work will be quite constant this coming academic year, and that’s a great thing.

My yard project was pretty much done for me, by the landlord himself, while I was away. He is a trouper:  That work was done during the period that Prescott, and much of the continent, endured 100+ ,for nearly three weeks.  I will keep at the process of building raised beds, so that next year, seeds may be planted.  At least the onion bulbs will go in shortly, and we’ll see how they do.

July will be prime time for volunteering, I can sense, so I will show up at things like the Fourth of July Parade, and the Red Cross float, the Hope Fest kickoff event on July 18, and whatever things Slow Food and Yavapai County Angels have going.  Then, too, there would be any disasters that happen, but we will let sleeping dogs lie, for now.

The travels?  Yes, I have gotten to be the Poster Child for wanderlust.  As another friend recently remarked, this seems to be a Sagittarrian thing.  This Sagittarian will be more inclined to short, focused bursts, for the next five years at least. There may be a faith-based trip down to Chile, late in 2016, but my primary focus is on family and friends:  My son, and a couple of good friends, in southern California; my paternal uncle, in Colorado; my soon-to-be hexagenarian brother, in Atlanta; and the bulk of my biological family, at Christmas-time, in New England.  I want to do more day trips from here, that could draw in a good friend. Finally, there are my long-neglected Native American friends in northeast Arizona, and at least one weekend in early August will see me up there.

This day finds me in a very relaxed frame of mind, ready for whatever life sends.  It’s just too hot and languid to be otherwise.

The Road to 65, Mile 141: Concerted Effort

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April 18, 2015, Prescott Valley- I had the pleasure of helping break down tables and put them, and the chairs away, at a Stand Up for Veterans event, here in this town of 46,000 people, just east of Prescott.  I had cleared my calendar for the afternoon, but we were done by 3 PM.  I was never so proud of one of my hardest working friends here, as I am today.  Her efforts, of over three weeks, paid off handsomely, and the point was made that we, as a community, are caring for all vets.  It is a constant, concerted effort, and there has been one common thread throughout all of this:  Men and women have worked tirelessly together, with no thought of selves or credit, to get an event started, which will hopefully continue to complement the “Stand Down” event that happens in the Fall, and has been successful for many years, in preparing homeless people for winter.

Of course, much remains to be done in that regard, as we have seen this past winter.  Helping those who don’t want shelter, but still want to be acknowledged on a daily basis, is a work in progress.  Yavapai County Angels, to which I belong, is a fledgling group that will be able to do more, as time passes.  I have enough to do, also, with my Baha’i work, wellness advocacy and teaching, to make the sixteen months after returning from my summer travels a very fruitful time.  Speaking of produce, I have some packets of seeds to plant in August, so yard work will be part of the mix.

My client, too, is finally starting to get the picture, and has made great strides of late, in re-establishing his life.  He will, very shortly, be back entirely on his own.  I know how hard it is to get to that point, and it took my recent accident to fully get me feeling on my own.  There is nothing like a concerted effort.

The Road to 65, Mile 125: Angels Among Us

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April 2, 2015, Prescott-  Yavapai County Angels is an ad hoc group, which was formed last November, to bring holiday cheer to disabled veterans and other shut-ins, in the Quad Cities (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt) and outlying areas of our county.  Thirty-nine households ended up receiving much-appreciated solace from the initial group.

This morning, with help of various sorts from 133 members, several members of YCA, including me, assembled Easter baskets for distribution to residents of a Veterans Housing facility, and several extras, to be given to homeless veterans outside that facility.  Puzzles and word search books were also brought to the Arizona Pioneer Home, a senior living facility here in town.

YCA is a grassroots group, not beholden to any creed or political agenda.  This makes it doubly attractive to me, as the mission statement, so to speak, is simply Love Thy Neighbour.  My own halo may have prongs on it, but it still feels good to have the means to make a small difference in the lives of the disadvantaged.  On this Maundy Thursday, what else is there?