Intermittent

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July 24, 2022- Short and bittersweet- After finishing my dog-sitting stint this morning, I came back to Home Base and prepared to host a Zoom devotional, as I frequently do on Sunday mornings. We got off to a good start, then the connection was cut. I have noticed my modem/router combination going out, off and on, since a renovation project began upstairs, in the apartment formerly occupied by a deceased neighbour.

It seems some jackhammering was done on Thursday, while I was away. The workers say that their activity shouldn’t affect electric flow in my unit. The Geek Squad will be here on Tuesday, so we’ll find out what the issue really is. There is plenty to be done in the meantime, and I have no Zoom activity until Wednesday night.

This is a time of uncertainty, but I will make it through these First World speedbumps.

Bouncing Back

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April 29, 2022- April is the antipode of October, so it was no surprise to me that there was a mini-crash on Wall Street today, the first such event since the Covid Crash of March, 2020. Chances are, it’ll also be a short-lived slump, unlike that of October 29, 1929. There were several reasons for today’s downturn, the simplest being that it was the last trading day of the month, and even high rollers like their payday. The rest of the causes would take someone much smarter than me to explain.

My energy level was a bit lower today, as well, and it took me a bit longer to feel ready for the various activities, most of which were faith-based and on Zoom. Eventually, thanks to a nice breakfast at Zeke’s and the company of good friends (virtual, but no matter) through the day, I got errands done, and affirmed hostel reservations for my short jaunt to SoCal, in a few weeks. I also completed a long-running task that had started back in October.

There is seldom any end to either opportunities or challenges. The trick is to not let the latter upend the former. Thus, my work projects here and my travels are not going to be waylaid by temporary setbacks in the financial sector, though I promise not to be reckless in that regard. One can always truncate, without too much dismay.

It has always been the lot of May, in any case, to be a time for bouncing back from April’s scolding misfortunes. Besides, having completed a three-week journey without committing any faux pas, my confidence level is quite a bit stronger. Having overcome minor health challenges, I look forward to some finer days ahead.

The Long Run

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April 13, 2022- It almost seems, some days, like I spend the day on Zoom. It sometimes seems that I pull the face mask out of my pocket, at random, unexpected moments, getting appreciative nods from the fearful and glares from those who see their own freedom under assault. As the pandemic waxes and wanes, sometimes within the same week, its short-and long-term legacies show how they are with us, ready to do their jobs at a moment’s notice.

Health is a funny thing. I have managed, with the skillful help of my dermatology team, to beat back basal cells that had accumulated over a few years of spotty sunscreen applications-or perhaps, as a gadfly told me in Miami Beach, a few weeks ago, from applying the wrong type of sunscreen. Before these, there was my almost total disregard for my own health, both physical and mental, whilst taking care of my beloved wife in her final years.

Now I am mostly back on an even keel. There is much to be done, here during the next two months and in mid-summer; on the road at other points during the year. A period of nine years, 2022-2031, starts in a week, during which the world will hear and see a lot more about the Baha’i Faith and the Teachings of its Founder, Baha’u’llah, than many have heard up to now. I will have apart in that effort, both here in Prescott and in many other places. On my last journey, to the Southeast, most discussion of Baha’i teachings took place in a family setting, and in short conversations with a sharp-minded person from the Netherlands.

The long run, however, will see more than new wine in this old bottle. As we keep seeing, a lot of things to which we are accustomed, both big and small, have fallen away. This will long continue-in areas from statecraft to roles within the family; from modes of transportation to the design and organization of dwellings. All of this re-organization, however disconcerting it may be at times, will result in a far more peaceful world.

“This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. It behoveth them to cleave to whatsoever will, in this Day, be conducive to the exaltation of their stations, and to the promotion of their best interests. Happy are those whom the all-glorious Pen was moved to remember, and blessed are those men whose names, by virtue of Our inscrutable decree, We have preferred to conceal.
Beseech ye the one true God to grant that all men may be graciously assisted to fulfil that which is acceptable in Our sight. Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, page 346.

Getting Past Exhaustion

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January 18, 2022- A good deal of energy has seen its way to the Universal Pool, over the past two days. That’s okay, as I have tomorrow essentially off-and others can step up and handle any school emergencies. Today was altogether full: High School Agricultural Studies, followed by two Baha’i Zoom calls. Fortunately, the last one was spent with people whose own day was rather exhausting-so when they asked to stop early, I was more than delighted.

I am a very intense sleeper, so the seven hours or so, once I finish this post, will be heaven sent. Then, I will wake very briefly-and after seeing 5 a.m., and darkness still lingering, an hour or so more of sleep will ensue. The big thing is getting rest and rejuvenation. Dick Van Dyke’s admonition to “Keep Moving” is important, but so is not getting run down.

The last thing I want to mention about today is with regard to giving a listen to a gentleman who says he fears too much centralization. He was speaking about the Voting Rights legislation-and he was cherry picking. Some of his points can be incorporated into a Voting Rights Act, without taking away the rights of ANY group of citizens. The greater point I wish to make is-It’s past time to acknowledge all those who are……sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The Tendrils Do Not Fade

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January 14, 2022- The gentlemen and lady came onto a Zoom session, this evening, to speak of the history of Baha’i in their land, as the centennial of its arrival there had just been celebrated. I have alluded to our time there as well, on several occasions.

The influence of South Korea on my life cannot be minimized-especially given Aram’s birth there and his lifelong ties to both Korean and Japanese culture-accented by his marriage to Yunhee. I last went there, in 2019, for the religious ceremony that helped cement that marriage. The country has done quite well, materially, and has had a considerable influence, as well, on the the burgeoning global culture.

Connections I made there, had for the most part, seemed to have faded over the years. It was almost symbolic, when the plaque that Penny and I had been given, at the end of our work in Jeju, in 1992, fell off its stand and irreparably shattered, in 2017. It was not long after that, though, that Aram and Yunhee met. A more formidable, enduring bond was created.

The tendrils that remain between the Korean people and me are thus not going to be broken-and if anything, are one of the strongest threads that are connecting this one’s world. From those threads came ties to Hawaii, Taiwan, all parts of the U.S, and now to Albania, of all places, where a friend from our Jeju days has settled.

There are ties that keep me here-and those that will serve as a safety net, in many places far afield. It all started with a chance move to Korea, thirty-six years ago.

Flex Time

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January 8, 2022- This was one of the weekends in January, when I was planning to be away from Home Base. The schedules of those I had planned to visit changed, and made any visiting inopportune, so this time is being used to tend to matters closer to home. I am also using a couple of meditation Zoom calls to consider the course of future journeys planned for this year and next. Things became clearer to me, during the meditations. Making initial practical information checks, on a couple of aspects of these journeys, made things clearer still.

There is always a way to make good use of time, when plans have to change. Even being mostly in retirement mode, I find there are not enough hours in a day for everything that might be accomplished. Flexibility also seems to be the order of the Universe, at least in terms of how elements of Creation interact with one another. The fact that the Universe is unlimited, infinite, helps with that flexibility. Besides, that infinitude means there are far too many variables for one to go about life in a rigid manner.

In the end, I actually was glad to be finishing the day by completing a reading of “White Fragility”-coming to the conclusion that I am not fragile, in my ethnic and racial identity, and can learn from others about microaggressions and other elements of my own thoughts and actions that might drive a wedge between me and those around me.

No time need be wasted.

The Road Back

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November 10, 2021- Another signature morning meal, at Harbor Breakfast, this one involving fried oysters, of all things, got the day off to a marvelous start. Armando’s gracious hosting and Maria’s delightful antics and banter were supplemented by conversations with a visitor named Chris, who hails from the Boston area and who works in Saugus, as well as other communities in the area, and with Billy, a Little Italy local who has known the staff for quite some time. Chris and I knew some of the same people, most of whom have passed on. Billy is quite enamoured with Prescott, and has driven his vintage truck there several times. Needless to say, Harbor has joined my pantheon of breakfast establishments-alongside Zeke’s, Bedford Diner, Maple Leaf Cafe and Hammersmith Inn (all of which have stellar lunches, as well). Thus will it be a staple of future San Diego visits.

I headed out of San Diego, a bit after 10 a.m., fortuitously being nudged by traffic onto Rte. 67, which led, in turn, to Rte. 79 and Julian, Penny’s last place of residence before our wedding. I always enjoy a stop in this former mining town, which has since learned to prosper from apple farming and a healthy tourist economy. My main purpose there, this time, was to connect with a group of friends on a Zoom call. Ala, there were no electrical outlets, so using my laptop was not an option-and Zoom is awkward, when used on a mobile phone. The slice of apple pie and coffee were at least a consolation.

The route from Julian to Indio is fairly straightforward, and cuts out about 2/3 of southern California’s I-10. It also offers the cheapest gas in the region at Pit Stop, in the “don’t blink” settlement of Mountain Center. I was therefore not surprised at having to navigate a scrum of drivers, worthy of any strip mall parking lot, in order to get out of the place.

The rest of the way was uneventful, though I pulled into the gas station in Congress, AZ, at the tail end of an incident involving a little girl who had been missing for about ten minutes-and was found to have been just exploring the lot, before getting scared and running back to her grandfather. Congress is one of those small communities where everyone looks out for one another- and they will keep an eye out for visitors’ well-being, too.

These three days were a fine return to southern California. Even with my being far more relaxed these days at Home Base, it is a tonic to be near the ocean, every so often.

Three Little Things

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November 5, 2021- I spent the day working mostly with a child who had a reputation for being feisty and insolent. While I saw flashes of those traits, at different points during the day, he was for the most part a delightful student. Many times, a child’s behaviour is a reflection of the attitude of the adults around. Besides, one can say such things about any person, at certain times.

I noted three little things about myself during the course of the day. I can start my day, with or without a cup of coffee, but it is the easing into a day’s activities that is facilitated by hot java-and a look at what is happening in the vicinity and in the wider world. Whether I am addicted to caffeine is debatable-and likely irrelevant. I drink no more than three cups, and then only a low energy day.

Multi-tasking, while rarer than it once was, is made easier by focusing-just for a few seconds, on how to do one thing (driving), while carrying on with another (talking with someone on the phone, using the speaker system). I had to do this, more often than I wanted, during all the years that I was caring for Penny whilst holding down a job. Thank God for the speaker feature-and Bluetooth. Talking with Aram, when he needs me, is ever a priority-and I’m glad when circumstances permit this.

Lastly, it is easier for me to correct my course of action than it used to be. The key is not to get rattled. Hosting Zoom calls is not always a shining moment, if one forgets to click the “share computer audio” button, at the bottom left of Screen Share. My audience, even the most tech savvy members, have become more forbearing than they once were-and in turn, I can correct course in less than thirty seconds. Staying mindful of the task at hand, and not being concerned about what others may be thinking, makes all the difference. As the Star Wars adage goes, “The only way is through.”

Every day has its gems-mine them.

Little Ado, Almost Nothing

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September 18, 2021- The call, for which I waited all day, never came. There was a flurry of phone activity on Thursday, with Red Cross dispatchers asking me, first to go to Louisiana to work as a computer operator, then deciding I might be better at supervising a shelter. Since I couldn’t go there immediately, owing to faith-based commitments, it was agreed I would go on Sunday-with documents to be handed me today.

Today has come, and is almost gone. With no word from RC, (and yes, the ball is in their court), I have concluded, from checking the weather forecast for Baton Rouge, that the need is fading. Bright sunshine lies ahead, after Monday, and good on the folks of Louisiana, who have been much put upon, again this summer.

We had a final monsoon storm here, this evening, as the major faith-based activity of the weekend was playing out. The rain was welcome, and did not interrupt our Zoom activity. Afterward, I felt the need to go across the mountain to Synergy Cafe, so off to Sedona it was. A two-hour visit with a mostly male troupe of musicians and a lengthy conversation with a spiritually-awakened lady made the evening worth the drive, as it usually is. The lady came here from Russia, as an adolescent, some twenty years ago, still retaining the more global view that many from that part of the world seem to embody.

Remembering that a meeting for tomorrow still had not been set up on my laptop, I made exit earlier than planned, but not before our little drum, guitar(electric and acoustic) and didgeridoo set of tunes had inspired the lady and her husband to dance in slow embrace. Romantic couples always make me smile.

I did learn one thing from today- don’t speak of service online, before boots are on the ground.

Tribes and Such

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September 6, 2021- Today being Labor Day in the U.S., many thoughts and expressions of thanks were offered to Frances Perkins, whose reaction to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, of March 25, 1911, metamorphized into the workplace safety movement of the 1930s-1970s. That it reached many of its goals is a grand social triumph, but it will never be something that can be set on a shelf. Human greed and self-centeredness can and will seep back into the consciousness of social policy, if we are not careful. Ms. Perkins was a genuine American hero and it would not be a bad thing at all, were her visage to grace one of the bills or coins of United States currency-perhaps even a bitcoin, if it becomes part of the American exchequer.

This afternoon, I visited my somewhat laid-up hiking buddy, who was injured last week and is now on extended hiatus from the trails. Our conversation turned the matter of another friend finding her tribe. HB remarked that my tribe was all over the place, which is true, essentially. I have detailed the names of friends, extended family and those I regard as angels. That some are on one end of the ideological spectrum and some on the other end, with most in between, does not trouble either my basically progressive stance on many matters or belief in the sanctity of all life.

Some tribal members are solely seen on Zoom, these days. Others hang out in downtown Prescott, or at Rafter Eleven, or at Synergy Cafe. Some live in western Arizona, northern Nevada, eastern Tennessee, northern Indiana or all along the three coasts. My heart family, as I’ve said repeatedly, is found in any number of places and I know I will find more of them, as time unfolds.

There will always be outliers, who can be accepted for who they are, as long as they don’t hurt others. One such was a young man, with a rather pleasant voice, who sang acapella on the edge of Courthouse Square, this afternoon. He sang “I love myself and I love you (to a few random passersby). I love my backscratcher (which he held up, for all to see).” Telling him he had earned A for effort, I placed a tip in his jar and walked further around the Square, taking in the Crafts Fair and the blessed mass of humanity who had gathered along the sidewalks. I don’t mind crowds. They are proof that our species is alive and thriving.

Many thanks to all who labour honestly, today and every day.