Delayed, but Not Frayed


May 15, 2023, Sacramento-The message came to me in an e-mail, on Saturday, that a certain post I had held for the past six years was being filled by someone else. It’s a routine rotation, if you will, and no reflection on what I did well or not, as a volunteer.

A check of Amtrak’s Sacramento to Seattle and Portland schedules showed that they were booked solid, or were exorbitantly overpriced-an imbalance of Supply and Demand. What this means for me is that I head back to Home Base, sooner than originally planned. My ties to the Northwest are not frayed-the visit to friends up there is merely delayed.

Strengthening connections to Carson City was a priority, so this journey has not been wasteful-no travel ever is. I am likely heading back in late July, because one of the angels is to be in a play, around then-and supporting her is second nature. That jaunt and the trip back East in September, will of necessity be auto-centric, after all. There are matters that cannot easily be tended with train or Uber, and rental cars are once again either scarce or exorbitant, as new friends found out yesterday and today.

The day itself was a fairly easy train ride back to Sacramento and a toasty, but not unpleasant, walk back to the hostel-largely empty tonight, except for three staffers, two women who are staying in private rooms and me, holding down the fort in the “mixed dorm”. That’s not bad, as I got ot jump around a bit, during a friend’s ecstatic dance Zoom call, and tend to some over-the-phone planning, relative to October’s Southeast Asia outreach.

The biggest thing that I learned about myself, these past six days, is that no amount of planning or anticipation is more important than treating each person and each community, with whom I have ties, as any more vital than all the others. Some activities, meetings, visits cab and will get delayed, but ties need not become frayed.

Oh, well-for tonight, I am comfortable and happy, in HI Sacramento’s quietude.

Stitchless Again


May 2, 2023- At first, the receptionist thought she had to get permission from the dermatologist, in order to send me in to see the young man who was scheduled to remove the sutures, from my recent procedure. As no one was answering the phone on the other end, the PA’s supervisor came out to the lobby and verified that I was to see him, once the backlog of people who had arrived before me was seen. That did not take anywhere near the time it might have, and my five minutes of the PA’s time came, only 30 minutes behind schedule.

I had no other immediate appointments, so it was not trouble to spend several minutes watching those who were seeking condos by a beach, and a McMansion in Santa Fe, on HGTV. Once the stitches were out and a bandage applied, I dropped off some items at Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store, took care of one or two other errands and got the laundry done, after a fashion.

A miscommunication between me and another Baha’i friend led to my getting the time wrong, for a gathering on the 12th Day of Ridvan (today), so I got a few refreshments and helped clean up, catching up with a few friends I’d not seen for quite a while. Things can change on a dime, so I was not at all perturbed-at least I got to the tail-end of the gathering.

This evening brought me into the world of Turo, a car rental service that lets people deal with one another directly. That will be needed, when I get to Reno and am ready to head to Carson City, in about nine days. It will also come in handy, on other occasions. A cousin of mine used Turo, a while back, and was quite pleased with what amounts to the Air Bnb of car rentals. The lady from whom I’m renting a hybrid has good reviews from prior customers, so I feel good about the arrangement.

All in all, this was another good day. I have to double down on exercise, and be more patient with myself, and others, in dealing with situations in which people are hair-splitting, during certain Zoom sessions. The temptation to tune out is pretty strong, yet there are things that the hair-splitters have to say, which are rather important, in the midst of it all.

Sifting wheat from chaff is still a worthy exercise.

Many Jobs, Few Tasks


April 22, 2023- Earth Day called me to get up on a workday schedule, so by 5:30, I was groomed and dressed. There were four stops and a Zoom call waiting, so after reading the newspaper and saying a few prayers, it was off to Courthouse Square. There was not a whole lot to do at Stop # 1, an environmental group’s booth, between 8:15, when I finally found the booth, and 8:50, when it was time to race back for the Zoom call.

It seemed imperative that I join the call, since I had been absent for two weeks, due to my Red Cross deployment. The moderator of the call has had a hard time with my absence-service to the wider community is apparently not his thing, if it conflicts with his Zoom work. As it happened, he was absent today, but his trusted assistant was glad I was on the call-and has no issue with someone being away due to working with the Red Cross.

After the call ended, I stopped in, briefly, at an American Legion Auxiliary rummage sale-picking up an extra pair of sunglasses(to replace the pair that was lost during my sheltering activity) and a cake to bring to my substituting assignment on Monday. Then, it was off to Farmers’ Market, getting a week’s supply of microgreens and catching up with friend Melissa.

Job #3 was back at the Firewise section of Courthouse Square’s Earth Day, and I got to the Red Cross booth four minutes late, which led to a mild chastisement from the woman tending the booth and groans from the man who had been there since 7 a.m. Water off this duck’s back! I give a lot of myself and no longer fret about people who are overly sensitive at slight lapses of punctuality.

After an hour, in which I greeted seven visitors and explained a bit about our mission, it was back to Farmers’ Market-this time to help a group of college students break down the tents, and put away the folding tables and chairs. With an increased efficiency, on the part of the new team lead, we were finished in less than an hour.

Job #5 was back at the Red Cross booth. This time, I was early, and the tent was folded up and put away a bit after 2 p.m.

There were big crowds at both Courthouse Square and Farmers’ Market, as people are finally comfortable with being at our community’s traditional events. Chalk-It-Up is back, after a three-year hiatus! More on that delightful artistic festival, in tomorrow’s post.

It was a fine day, and not as strenuous as it might have been, had there not been full teams at each location. Topping the day were two relaxing musical events: The Bourbon Knights performed ’60s Golden Oldies and some original tunes, at Rafter Eleven, while friend Stephy Leigh, accompanied by Jonah Howard, of Cross-Eyed Possum, performed two sets of her original music, with a few covers thrown in, at Raven Cafe.

Being back at Home Base has its rewards, great music being chief among them.

Pushing Back On The Mud, Day One


April 3, 2023, San Jose- The three giddy teens had no qualms about running into the street, but seemed surprised when I stopped and let them finish crossing. This was about the only blip on the calm radar screen that has been playing out, in this economic hub, of the Tech Hub that is Silicon Valley.

The day started early enough, 5 a.m., and after the usual routine of shower, shave and devotions, I got packed, loaded the car and started out around 7:50-then the zipper on my Vietnam Vet jacket separated, from the bottom. I managed to get it fixed, then headed over to True North, where I was initially mistaken for the owner, who is also my weight reduction coach. He came in a few seconds later, took my figures and found no significant change from last week.

Next up was the shuttle to Phoenix. I got to Groome’s terminal in plenty of time-to find we were waiting until nearly departure time, letting anxiety rear its head, ever so slightly. Never fear, though, the driver was merely picking up a disabled woman at her home. Five more stops later, we were en route to Sky Harbor, and made it to the airport on schedule.

It’s been a while, since I last flew Southwest Airlines-with all but one flight having been seamless. Today’s short hop, Phoenix to San Jose, started with me being mildly upbraided by a ticket agent for not putting the tag on one of my bags neatly. I made the mistake of checking the departure board-and ending up in the wrong Gate Area. Fifteen minutes later, with a delicious jalapeno-cilantro hummus and grilled chicken in tow, I got to the actual gate-with another fifteen minutes to spare.

The flight was typically smooth, spent in the company of an interesting couple who were headed to Palo Alto. only a minor gust of wind, which rocked the plane, just before we landed, interrupted our discussion of modern education. We pretty much concurred on the consequences of inconsistency and “faddism”, and breathed a sigh of relief when the wheels hit the tarmac.

Getting the bags was fairly swift, and catching a ride to Red Cross-San Jose took a few phone calls and texts, but the driver, while surly, showed up within ten minutes and got me to the headquarters building-where I learned I was going-not to Visalia, as planned earlier, but to Watsonville, home of Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. That will be my assignment until at least April 11. I am also working day shift, much easier on my constitution.

The evening drive around San Jose was in search of a pair of reading glasses, following a Zoom call during which the soft light of my hotel room rubbed the need for such eye wear in my face. I can read full well in good light-but the converse is not true. I can, however, see to drive perfectly well-and no random pedestrian in the middle of a road is in any danger-even when putting self in harm’s way.

Thus did a long day pass, and end perfectly nicely.

A Day of Change-ups


February 26, 2023- With 3 inches of snow on the ground, I found it was not a problem to drive to the grocery store and purchase some vegetables and fruit. Then came breakfast at the American Legion Post-a routine on Sunday mornings. Being faithful to my weight reduction program, I saved the pancakes, freezing them for a time when I can nibble at them-along with the cheese and other items that sit in the freezer as well-and will be nibbled at, judiciously, when the time comes.

Normally, a group of us sit at the same table and encourage each other. Today, two of the other five diners showed up-and were already at another table, with other old friends. So, I joined them and the regular table was occupied, in short order, by five gentlemen who had not eaten breakfast there before. When the regulars left, I stayed for a delightful conversation with some other people, who usually sit on the other side of the room.

When I went back to the apartment, and logged onto Zoom, for the devotional which I host, three Sundays each month, I found two of the regular participants also joined-and three who are not usually on the call also logged in. Then, my audio went out, but theirs did not,so they could hear each other-and me, but I was the odd one out. We ended the program prematurely, so that I could go in and find out what Zoom was doing. It turned out that a button had been pushed to mute my audio, when I shared the full contents of my screen. That is something to watch at the next gathering.

The last change-up occurred when I went to the laundromat, and found it locked. What is likely is that the pipes froze, and they just didn’t bother to put up a sign. I will go back on Tuesday and try again.

Changes in routine are good, in that one does not get sclerotic in approaching daily life-as long as the changes do not reflect chaos, which calls for different skill sets.

Healing Energy


November 13, 2022- I felt some change-of-seasonsitis coming on, last night, so I did what I always do in such cases. I took a spoonful of elderberry syrup and crawled underneath a bundle of covers. The covers helped me sweat whatever it was out. In turn, this allowed me to attend breakfast at the Legion Post, host a Zoom call and join another, work out at Planet Fitness and enjoy a fine meal with my Hiking Buddy.

It’s been worse, in the past. Some years, change-of-seasonitis kept me in bed, for 24 hours. If it were COVID, I’d probably be in bed for a week to ten days. So far, though, that hasn’t happened. Having O+ Blood may be responsible for that good fortune, though that immunity may be an old wives’ tale.

Mostly, though, I credit healing energy for the relatively good track record. Part of it comes from doing devotions every day and the other part comes from acting on those devotions. We talked about that in the first Zoom meeting, this morning. Thanksgiving, gratitude, has to be sincere-not perfunctory, if one wishes to genuinely partake of what is good in life. This sincerity should be in place for everything from answering a daily “Good morning, have a nice day”, on social media to paying one’s fair share of taxes, when the time comes.

It also involves being patient and flexible-things which have attached themselves to me, over the past three decades or so. After all, everyone, in their own space, is facing challenges that have nothing to do with what anyone else is facing. So, we can all send out healing energy and adjust our schedules to help others, when the occasion merits.

I’m grateful for each person in my life, even if I can’t give certain people what they seem to want of me. I am appreciative of what they give to me.



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


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


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


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.