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Abiding Blog
(2019-2020 Archives)

Lucki Melander Wilder

Still digging the blogs. Keep up the good works.  -- Jim (a reader since the first-ever announcement)

These are personal ruminations on divers and sundry topics of interest to me and, I hope, also you. Some are long, some short. Some are silly, some serious. Some are trivial, some profound. Nor is it always easy to tell which is which, even for me. And all opinions expressed are subject to change without notice.

Email me to subscribe or give feedback, or if there's a topic you'd like me to ruminate about. Not all feedback necessarily appears in this page, and may be edited for links, typos, multi-source redundancy, and relevancy. That doesn't mean we consider negative feedback irrelevant or refuse to post it, as negative feedback can often help us learn to do more and better.

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"So there I was...."

That's how I started my first ever Abiding Blog entry. December 11, 2010, it was. Exactly ten years ago today. And here I still am. Still coming to you. Same bat time. Same bat station. How's that for abiding?

Time flies when you're having fun. And it has been fun. Even when it's been a chore, it's been fun. Even when I didn't know what I wanted to say. Or even what I wanted to say it about. It's still been fun. Because writing isn't just what I do. A writer isn't just what I am. A writer is WHO I am.

I need writing like I need air. (If you've already read Twigs of a Family Tree, you know where I stole that from. And why. If you haven't....) Even when I get no positive feedback. Or, for that matter, no feedback at all. (Though I've gotta admit I've been woefully delinquent in posting representative exemplars of all the feedback I've gotten over the years. Good AND bad. I'll try catching up on it in the coming year. No guarantees, though.)

Abiding Blog is the first blog I ever created. (I'll celebrate 10 years of Adding Insult next month; Aphorisms & Memes finishes it's third year this month.) I set a goal of one entry a month. I didn't always meet it directly. Still, over the ten years, I've a bit better than averaged it. This is entry #162. How's that for abiding?!

You've hung with me through thick and thin. Through celebrations and eulogies. Through silly stuff and "true" stories. Through multiple entries about my family, and my trips to High Point and Vancouver Island. About cat power, and dog power. About the Doctors Who, and the Legends of Tomorrow. About systemic racism, and the import of elections. To say nothing of the month-long one-a-day Baha'i Challenge, various miscellany, and the guests blogs that you've also responded to.

What astounds me, even more, is that I still get feedback about old - and I do mean o-o-old - posts from new readers. Readers who, for example, were pointed to one recent entry or series by a friend and, once they had seen it, started going back to the beginning and binge-reading entries.

Writers who love to write love readers who love to read. I really appreciate all of you who read my blogs. Oldtimers and newcomers. Whether you simply sample, or read everything. I appreciate all of you who give me fun feedback. And all of you who don't. I also appreciate those of you who give me negative feedback. 'Cuz I can learn a lot from that. I even appreciate those who had read me for a while and then decided it wasn't their cup of tea. 'Cuz they did give it a chance.

I don't know whether I'll get to do this for another ten years. But if I don't, it won't be for lack of writing. That I can promise you. God willing and the crick don't rise. Not that God always (or even very often) makes me privy to Her plans, but time will tell. In the meantime, stay safe, you and yours. Stay serene. And enjoy! Not just Abiding Blog. Not just my writing. Everything! I wish you health, prosperity, and excellent reading in 2021.

Khoda hafez,

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject


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Entries During

2020-12-11 Abiding

2020-11-01 Choice

2020-10-01 Votary

2020-09-23 Modeling-789
     7 Service
     8 Prayer & Action
     9 Funds
2020-09-16 Modeling-456
     4 Racism
     5 Education
     6 Science & Religion

2020-08-20 Modeling-123
    1 Elections
    2 Consultation
    3 Investigation

2020-07-14 Re-Tuning
2020-07-08 Tuning

2020-06-24 Mending
2020-06-10 Unbroken

2020-05-10 You?

2020-04-16 Dove/Love
guest blogger: Tom Ligon

2020-03-18 Counting

2020-02-26 Lucy
Dog Power

2020-01-25 Windowing
2020-01-17 Numbers

2019-12-21 Buddy
Dog Power
2019-12-11 Likes?

2019-11-28 Showers
2019-11-19 Spoilage?

2019-10-16 Cloaked
guest blogger: Mead Simon
Cat Power

2019-09-18 Haf-2
The Wilders

2019-08-06 Doggone
Dog Power
The Wilders

2019-07-20 Rides
The Wilders

2019-06-04 Inter/Intra

2019-05-29 Lily

2019-04-30 Fifty!
The Wilders
2019-04-17 Links

2019-03-13 Yup!
The Wilders

2019-02-10 Mileage
The Wilders
2019-02-07 BiloCat
Cat Power

2019-01-01 UpRory
"True" Stories


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"Create your own 6" x 6" piece of two dimensional art,
representing how voting changes your world."  -- DesignYourVoteIL

Person casting a ballot while thinking "Mature experience. Recognized ability. Track record. Well-trained mind. Unquestioned civic Loyalty. No trace of prejudice. Selfless devotion to service."   Your Choice November 3, 2020

So, as you can see, I did. I titled it"Your Choice" because how others vote will affect my future just like how I vote will affect theirs. It was included in an image-based mosaic to further promote voter registration and vote by mail.

The other day I was talking to a black parent who made it very plain that they didn't intend to vote. That they'd heard all the arguments. That they felt all the candidates were lying power-junkies. That they believed the fix was in and the worst would win. That they were convinced their vote never did and never would count. That their right to vote meant they had the right not to vote. That they'd passed that attitude on to their kidfolk. And that they didn't want to hear another word about it. Not now, not ever.

So I didn't say how I thought that attitude not only a callous cop-out and an unconscionable abdication of civic duty - expecting the benefits of citizenship without acting like one - but also spitting in the face of all the American women who shed blood, sweat, and tears and sometimes endured torture to gain the vote for other women and all the black Americans who shed blood, sweat, and tears and sometimes gave their lives to gain the vote for other black people. And how I thought those who don't know or care about such history are doomed to repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat....

I didn't say it. But I sure thought it. Very loudly!

Still, I'm not going to spend any more verbiage asking, urging, begging you to go to the polls or find a dropbox to take your ballot to between now and next Tuesday evening, November 3rd. Even though I believe everyone has a civic responsibility to do just that. Nor will I expound on what kind of government I think vote-abdicators do or don't deserve to get. I'll just close by quoting a few lines from the Bard and a couple of his contemporaries, compliments of Red Bull Theater.

Quotations from Shakespeare, Jonson, & Bacon

Khoda hafez,
P.S. The touchstones that purple voter is comparing candidates to are mostly direct quotes from the Baha'i Writings.

Sun, Nov 1, 2020 at 6:08 PM, Vee wrote:
  I voted from the comfort of my home a few weeks ago! I haven't missed an election since I turned 21.
  How are you doing?
  Lucki responds to Vee:
  Good for you!
  I'm doing OK...I hope you are safe & well yourself...& stay that way.
Sun, Nov 1, 2020 at 6:33 PM, Kim wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  Like your 6 x 6" who to vote for tile. Am in frequent communmication with a Baha'i who is a former conservative Christian pastor. What has changed is "Christian" and "pastor" .... we need the diversity! VERY different way of seeing things .... and [some] points are good.
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  I'm with you on the idea that we need diversity in thought & action, & that there's no one who doesn't have something to contribute. None of us are immune from the baggage we bring with us; baggage isn't necessarily all bad (or all good), it just is; & we come into the Faith to start or to keep growing, not to stop.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject



"votary - noun - a devoted follower, adherent, or advocate of someone or something."  -- Oxford Languages

I've previously advocated for voting in civic elections: Why we should. How we should. (Go check; I'll be here when you get back.)

I've done so before, and (surprising even myself) I'm doing so again. But not the way I originally planned.

Originally, I planned to share with you my thoughts on voting safely during this pandemic. Urging you to do so, too. Describing how I had:

=  Already sent in my mail-in ballot application back in August. Ensuring I'd be in the initial list when they started mailing them out, here in Illinois, on September 24.

=  Also requested a "new signature" form to ensure that, over the decades since I registered, my signature hadn't changed enough to cause my mail-in ballot to be questioned or discarded. (Election judges can be more lenient about matching signatures when you're standing right there in front of them, ID in hand as needed, than they can afford to be when they only have your signature on a mailed-in piece of paper to compare against.)

=  Not knowing how badly changes perpetrated by Postmaster General DeJoy (a fitting name, in a punny way) would cause delays in either or both directions, committed to filling out and sending back both the form and the ballot as soon as I got them.

=  Preparing Plan B, researched where the appropriate drop-boxes would be and when they'd be open.

Yes, and also strongly advocating that you, too, plan ahead. Be prepared. Watch for and stay informed on things that might cause you problems. Cast your vote as safely as possible, as securely as possible, as soon as possible. 'Cuz you know: Whatever you do, VOTE!

But all that's changed.

You've probably heard about the latest shenanigans. But just in case, let me offer the story of what is happening right now in one nation's elections on an alternate Earth in their year 2011. Picture two political parties with their two candidates running for the highest office in the land. The Yellow Party and the Purple Party. Purple is popular in most populous states (please pardon all that P-popping). Yellow makes beau coup hay in most ruralized states. Still, this time Purple seems on track to win the popular vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Yellow, however, has already started implementing its plan to grab the Electoral Collate even (especially?) if Purple stands to honestly win that, too.

Yellow thief stealijg Purple bagYa see - and even though your intrepid reporter is from a generation where Civics was actually taught in school, she definitely did not know (or remember) this - state legislatures have the ability to ignore and discard the popular vote and to instead appoint their own loyalists to the Electoral Collate if they have some reason to claim the popular vote is "wrong" or "uncountable".

And apparently, Yellow-controlled state legislatures, especially in swing states that are "in danger of" going Purple, are being tutored to do exactly that. Using as their excuse that there are so many mail-in ballots (even if they discount all the "rampant fraud" involved) they can't possibly be counted on election night.

[ASIDE] And why are there so many mail-ins? Because Yellow voters are more apt to risk being infected by MEV-1 - the lethal, airborne, respiratory virus investigated in Steve Soderbergh's acclaimed 2011 documentary Contagion - 'cuz they don't believe or sometimes even know about the science. While Purple voters do know about and believe the science, so they choose to exercise the most caution and utilize the safest voting process. [/ASIDE]

So, the Yellow state legislatures could vote to simply discard ALL the ballots and select their own Electoral Collators. Or pretend to be more "fair" by declaring the election over and announcing the "winner" based on only the ballots counted by midnight, or the next noon, or whatever specious deadline they impose. Ensuring that the bulk of the votes counted are the ones cast in person on election day. Not the ones postmarked by election day but still in the mail. Or in some states, not even mail-in ballots that get delivered to the Boards of Elections a mere minute (or more) after the polls close on election day. And remember by which method Yellows are likely to vote and by which method Purples are.

That kind of thing tells me that maybe, this time, it's worth my taking the greater risk. Despite my having, like, five comorbidities and being paranoid enough (though it isn't paranoia if it turns out "they" really are out to get you) to pretty much convince me that if I ever go into the hospital with COVID-19, I'll come out with a body bag. Bottom line, if I vote in person instead of by mail, I can be the most absolutely, positively sure that my ballot will (get) COUNT(ed).

That's why I've already developed an election-day plan for voting in person in as safe a way as I can. AND researched where my polling place will be. 'Cuz, yes, they moved it out of the senior building this year due to the pandemic. So now instead of literally just crossing the cul-de-sac to the building directly opposite mine, I'll have to walk about a half mile. As safely as possible. With my American-made, brand-name, NIOSH-approved, hardware-store, molded N95 mask, covered by a snazzy cloth mask, to protect others and myself. Plus my surgical gloves. And my packet of industrial-strength sanitizer sheets. C'est la vie.

The more people who actually cast their vote in person on election day, the less the chance anyone will have an appendage to hold themselves erect on should they try to claim that the votes cast in person on election day so clearly indicate the will of the majority that they can just stop counting the mail-ins.

Still, I don't think it'd be right to ask you to do something I'm not willing to do myself. But since I am willing, I'm asking you to carefully consider what voting method you should use. Because of or despite the pandemic. Because of or despite the possible political machinations. I'm not telling you whom to vote for. That's strictly between you and your conscience. I'm asking you to make sure you vote, period. In the Presidential election and in all the down-ballot elections in your state.

Don't let anyone intimidate you with their unwanted presence "watching" the polls. Don't let all the yellow journalism about this year's "rigged" election discourage or demoralize you. Don't be silenced by fear that your voice doesn't matter and won't be heard. Don't give up on the democratic process. You are the key to its success. It works when YOU work it.

Vote in person if you're willing to. Early, or on the day. Or, carefully follow all the instructions about how to mark and mail in your ballot, and do it as early as possible. Or, better yet, drop it into a secured drop-box as soon as early voting begins. Because ... well, do you believe that citizens who don't bother to vote deserve whatever half-baked (or worse) government they might get as a result?

Khoda hafez,
P.S. If you like a little comedy with your state's election info, check out

Thu, Oct 1, 2020 at 1:07 PM, Marianne wrote:
  I just looked at it & it's still easy for readers to connect the dots around Yellow & Purple parties. But you've succeeded in that nothing is overtly partisan -- this is more a description of a power play than anything else. And you make your point solidly about the power of State government to override the balloting.
  (Just a suggestion----IIWY, I'd still re-think the actual 'in-person' voting option and emphasize making a point to vote early, follow the ballot instructions carefully (blue or black ink; no red ink, no pencil, no white-out), and mail early or make a point to deliver the ballot to a secured drop box as early as possible during Early Voting. Election officials can [then] have some type of statistical guestimate of the % of ballots returned, relative to the total number of registered voters or ballots mailed out, to support avoiding a [State] ballot override.)
Be well,


Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Thank you. And very good suggestion. My personal decision aside, I've implemented the essence of your suggestion in an update of the article. But I'm also encouraging other readers to read what you wrote, 'cuz you covered it so well. Stay safe!



Fri, Oct 01, 2020 at 5:03 PM, Marianne wrote:
  Read [the update] & it looks good! Yay, team!

      Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Indeed! Thank you.
Wed, Oct 02, 2020 at 6:53 PM, Kim wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  I was especially impressed by "Votary" - clever and clear.... and inspirational.  Alas, I could not register  unless I lied, which I wouldn't.  The impossibility was with Fiji postal service having no mail service to US.  Sigh.  That also killed our tax refund.  I'll have to hire an accountant to help me do online taxes the first time.  Ugh.   I could have registered 100% by email if I claimed NC as my PHYSICAL residence, but it is not, and I am not willing to lie.  So that was that.
  I still have the circular gallifrayan patches - I've misplaced the explanation.  If you have it on soft copy,  I'd like a copy  If not, no problem - the hard copy is around here somewhere.   Right now I am working on a quilt, and when I finish with it, I think I'll go ahead with my "Be happy, be happy, be full of joy" project.... finally.
  I don't do social media much at all.  I almost never hashtag anything - haven't done it once for the last 2 years at least.  Life is too short.
  .... Prayers are most welcome.
  Lucki responds to Kim:
   Yes, "Votary" was one of those pieces that wanted to write itself. I mostly just had to give it fingers to type with. It's too bad about Fiji's postal service. Considering what's happening with our postal service in the U.S. nowadays, I - and I think Americans in general - certainly sympathize with that, too. Of course, you're absolutely right that honesty is the best policy.
  Attached is a copy of the Gallifreyan patches explanatory key you lost. No problem at all. However, it is copyrighted, so please remember to keep it for yourself; not share with others. Thank you.
  I hear ya, and I know the feeling. If you ever get the chance to use our Aphorisms & Memes hashtags, or link anyone to the page or to specific posters, cool. Grab it. If not, keep enjoying them anyway. Ya never know: the day may come.
  .... Be assured of prayers,
Wed, Oct 02, 2020 at 9:14 PM, Michael wrote:
  ...and yes. I tore up my mail-in app for voting. Even if everything was on the up and up, there's always human error.
  however, if you need a lift to vote, i can take you. you can ride in the back while i chauffeur you there.
Michael, et al
  Lucki responds to Michael:
  Human error. That's true.
  Of course, I remember once many years ago forgoing an absentee ballot 'cuz I knew for sure I'd get to the Baha'i annual election meeting on the day. Only I didn't. Something came up at work that I had to address immediately and until it was completed. I realized it too late to get to the meeting. Too late, even, to ask anyone to stop by and pick up the absentee ballot (which I still had; hadn't discarded it). And wouldn't you know it, I didn't have the chief teller's phone number with me to vote by voice, either.
  So I have never, ever again neglected to mail in my Baha'i ballots ahead of time, even when I get to the meeting (where, if I'm inspired to, I can then get my absentee ballot envelope back from the tellers and cast it in person ... even tear it up and get a new ballot to change my vote.) 
  I wish civic elections had the same kind of ability on a reasonably secure basis. But by their nature Baha'i elections are non-adversarial/non-contentious, whereas civic elections (especially lately) are decidedly anything but.
  Thanks for the transport offer. Got that covered, but I appreciate your concern. [It's nice to know another Chicagoan cares.]
Sat, Oct 03, 2020 at 1:05 PM, Derrick wrote:
  I have read your blog and I also bought your book although I have not read it yet.


Lucki responds to Derrick:
  You have read this entry, or this page, or all the blogs? Some feedback from my friends is always welcome ... especially in this age of social distancing & lockdowns.
  Well, let me know when you do read the book. Did you get it from BDS or Amazon?



Mon, Oct 05, 2020 at 3:57 PM, Derrick wrote:
  I have read some of your blogs.  I do not read them right away, I usually save them and read them when I have the time.  I like most of them and like the fact that you are putting them out there.  I have thought about blogging but just have not had the nerve to put something out there.

      Lucki responds to Derrick:
  Would you like to dip your toe in the water by doing one guest blog for me? In either Abiding Blog or Adding Insult? You could write it from scratch if you wish. Or we could do something interview-ish via phone....
        Tue, Oct 06, 2020 at 1:10 PM, Derrick wrote:
  I will write something and send it to you so you can tell me what you think.
          Lucki responds to Derrick:
  Sounds like a good plan. Thanx.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject


M O D E L I N G - 789

"The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason."  -- Blaise Pascal

[This is the 7th and, for now, last entry in this series. If you haven't already, I recommend you start at the beginning with Unbroken and read up. Or at least with Modeling-123 first.]

Having read about six models the Bahá'í community is trying to perfect (though we know as well as you do that what will result is progress, not perfection), and getting ready to read about my final three, you're asking, I suspect, "Really? All that? In an embryonic community? How can you possibly be accomplishing all that on a global scale?"

Good question (if I do say so myself). The worldwide Bahá'í community – and understand that it is a single religious community, not a coalition of independent or related religious communities – only numbers in the millions yet. Not in the billions. Not even in the hundreds of millions. (Though an odd fact I learned is that the number of registered Bahá'ís on the current rolls in the US is actually less than the number of people who identified themselves as Bahá'í on some recent independent surveys. Go figure. I have some ideas as to why that might happen, but they're just uninformed guesses.) So how are we possibly doing all that for a world rapidly closing in on eight billion people? When we barely represent, best scenario, one in a thousand.

The answer is "We're not." I don't just mean not accomplishing it on a global scale. I mean not trying to accomplish it on a global scale. We're trying to accomplish it on a local scale. Very local. We have to do what we can do, not what we can't. We have to do it where we can now, not where we can't yet.

Analogy: Somewhere in the Rockies, a small spring is burbling up out of the rock. A tiny thread of water is trickling eastward. Eventually, rainwater that came from the Pacific Ocean is added to that thread and it becomes a rill. The rill erodes away more rock and thereby meets another spring, and the result is a stream. That stream meets other streams, also swollen by rain evaporated from the Caribbean or melting snow from the mountain tops or even the Arctic. And at a point no one can precisely ID, there's a river. That river, one of many, flows into or contributes to rainfall over the Great Lakes.

I'm sure you get the picture. But then also envision this: A pumping station in Chicago takes some of the water from Lake Michigan and sends it, with a goodly amount of pressure, into a water main. Into a hydrant. Out through the nozzle of a firehose. And my Number One Son, working a shift on his fire engine, uses the water to put out a fire and save a family's home. Perhaps even their lives.

What started small and local became big and global … and then was brought back to serve the local level. Call it equitable distribution of resources. Talk about a new take on "What goes around comes around."

Neighborhood group with results of a food collection driveService on the neighborhood level
It makes sense, at this point, to think and act local. If we're going to change the world, we're gonna have to do it one heart at a time. That's our goal. Do that, keep doing it and, before you can even see it happening, the whole world changes. And so individual, everyday, ordinary Bahá'ís start offering service to their families. Friends. Neighbors. Coworkers. We start where we live. Or, if we're inspired to serve a particular community, we go live there. And we do what we can. One family, one building, one block at a time.

Starting with finding out what the boots-on-the ground people themselves know they need and want. And their insights into getting it done. We raise questions that help them ID the best solution and the best methodology. We make time to help them dissect it into manageable pieces and motivate further neighborhood resources. We pitch in and help them make it happen. Working with them under their guidance, understand; not coming in all big-shot and doing it for them.

In the process, we strive to develop human capacities. To release human potentials. To empower our neighbors to become generators of knowledge. To inspire them to look not only at material, but also at spiritual, means and effects. It doesn't matter whether the initial endeavor is mounting solar panels for a desert town, planting a community garden in a big-city food desert, building a playground at a community center, delivering groceries to shut-ins, joining a protest march against discriminatory lending, making matching masks for everyone on the block to combat the pandemic's spread. What matters is the involvement it promotes, the goal it accomplishes, the further inspiration it brings, the unity it engenders, and the hopes it raises and keeps on raising until those hopes are big enough to stand on their own.

Sketch of 9 Baha'i Houses of WorshipPrayer and study sessions for anyone seeking spiritual uplift
Back when I started this series in June, a reader sent me a picture of a BLM poster she'd seen that said, in essence, "No thoughts & prayers. Systemic action." I both agreed and disagreed with the sentiment, as did she. "Not that we should stop thinking & praying," I wrote, "but we have to stop STOPPING after we've thought & prayed. Like 12-Step programs & the Baha'i Faith tell us: Pray about it; then ACT like you prayed about it." She concurred, and we dialogued a little (see below that article) about how one does both.

Thoughts and prayers are not a substitute for action. Thoughts and prayers need, instead, to be a precursor to individual and communal action. Right thoughts must lead to right deeds. Prayers must be more than said, they need to be lived. Prayers are there to inform the service we give. To help us align with the Will of God, with our higher power, with the patterns of the cosmos, with whatever positive force we turn to in time of need and time of joy. To help us recharge our batteries, focus our beams, buckle down and do what we can of what needs to be done. This is why Shoghi Effendi has told us, "The true worshiper, while praying, should endeavor not so much to ask God to fulfill his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer." And the power of prayer isn't only in the saying; it's in the doing.

One of the things Bahá'ís offer on a community level is the opportunity to study together, learning to look to spiritual and scriptural underpinnings and methods. To gain historical perspective. To offer service together. To teach children, empower teens, build vibrant communities, take social action. People of any faith can use these study-circle methods regardless of what scriptural sources they are most knowledgeable about or comfortable with.

Bahá'ís also offer their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers venues for praying together about whatever is on a person's heart. These activities have often involved getting together for anything from formal devotional services at Bahá'í Houses of Worship to in-home musical devotionals to dawn prayers on the beach to prayer breakfasts at a local restaurant. (Of course, nowadays with a lot of Zooming.) Sometimes, though, it's as simple as ending a phone call - with someone who wanted to share a concern or problem or happy occurrence - by saying, "Before we hang up, would you like to say a prayer together?"

I just mentioned Bahá'í Houses of Worship. There is a continental Bahá'í Temple everywhere except Antarctica. And now the worldwide Bahá'í community is starting to build national and even local Houses of Worship. I personally feel very compensated for the fact that I'll never live to see the day when every civic community in the world has a Bahá'í Temple to go to. Because I live within walking distance (~5 miles) of the one for North America. The oldest one standing in the world. The only one that Άbdu'l-Bahá'i himself came and laid the cornerstone for.

Bahá'í Houses of Worship are not our churches/mosques/synagogues. They're not gathering places for Bahá'ís and whatever guests we might escort there. Bahá'í Houses of Worship are gifts from the worldwide Bahá'í community to all the people, of any faith or no particular faith, in the locales where and for which they are built. Places where anyone can come to find a beauty and serenity conducive to payer and meditation. To conscious contact with their higher power however they define it. Which is why no collections are ever taken, nor even donation envelopes displayed, in Bahá'í Temples. Because giving someone a gift and then asking them to help pay for it? How tacky would that be?

Which leads me to my final model. (But go ahead and ask a Bahá'í what other "mystical path with practical feet" models they're helping build.)

Red NO sign over hand soliciting moneyReserving contributions to the Funds as a Baha'i-only right
Only Bahá'ís can contribute to the Bahá'í Fund: Just about anything Bahá'ís do together, others can also do. Either with the Bahá'ís or on their own. Be a Bahá'í Temple reader or choir member. Have a Bahá'í wedding there (or elsewhere). Host a devotional or a virtues class. Undertake the annual Fast. Etc. But contributing to the Fund is one of the three rights that are reserved for Bahá'ís only. (The other two are taking part in community elections and attending the administrative part of 19-Day Feasts.) If this sounds a little esoteric, well, I remember how much Tradition 7 resonated for me when I encountered it in 12-Step programs. Only, of course, the Bahá'ís were modeling that scriptural tenet almost a century before 12-Stepping started.

Just like having no electoral campaigning or fundraising obviates political corruption, this tenet obviates financial corruption. It also enthrones spiritual considerations and personal humility into the process in place of cynical motives and egotistical grandstanding  Because who gives to the Funds, and how much, is strictly between the individual and God. No one is coerced or shamed into giving. And no one is touted for giving at all, never mind how much. This tenet also thereby provides a means of achieving true economic justice not only within, but among, communities and nations.

Remember that analogy from the intro to this article? There you have it. True, our worldwide community isn't yet large enough to do that on a grand scale. But we're doing it on a local scale. Not for ourselves per se, but for the communities we live in. Still, the day will come. And you can join in any time you want to.

As usual in Abiding Blog, I started each of the three Modeling entries with an epigraph. This time, I'd also like to end the series with three more:

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something,
build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."  --Buckminster Fuller
=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =
"I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions
they will be moved to act."  -- Bill Gates
=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =
"Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember,
involve me and I will understand."  --
Confucian proverb

Khoda hafez,

Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 12:17 PM, Marianne wrote:
Hi Lucki
  The blog post looks really good. Can I quote your section about description/purpose of Baha'i Houses of Worship elsewhere & attribute it to you? I may have reason to use your language elsewhere. Thanks.


Lucki responds to Marianne:
  As for my words about Houses of Worship ... once I get it posted, you can certainly copy whatever I actually publish, credit it to Lucki Melander Wilder, & even cite the blog-article link if you wish.



Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 5:10 PM, Marianne wrote:
  Thanks for the update and the quote permission. Much appreciated.

      Lucki responds to Marianne:
   You're very welcome. I'm curious to learn what use you may make of it.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject


M O D E L I N G - 456

"It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and
another to put him in possession of the truth."  -- John Locke

[This is the 6th in this series. I recommend you at least read Modeling-123 first.]

When I covered independent investigation of truth, I didn't mean living in a bubble, thinking I could suss everything out by myself. To investigate truth, I also learn what others are saying and doing, test their words and deeds in the real world and my life, and see what works and what doesn't. Then I turn to the best source I've found. Like, when I want to learn the latest verified data, scientific understanding, and best practices regarding COVID-19, I don't depend on my unschooled intuition nor advice from people who've shown themselves to be equally (or more) ignorant or even untruthful. I look to the likes of Drs. Anthony Fauci and David Ho to give me the real, most up-to-date skinny. Because they've proven themselves. They may not be perfect, but they're the most expert I've found.

This paradigm holds true in investigating material and spiritual truths. It's the process I used in investigating the Bahá'í Faith. And once I found what I considered the best religious source, the one that worked in my life in my world, I came to believe. Not blindly, but with trust that I'd glommed on to the best, proven source for me. And having sought and found such expert advice, I'd be a fool not to do my darnedest to follow it.

"Baha'i University Fellowship Fights Bigotry" sign held by students a protest against racial discrimination at University of Chicago, December 1947 Elimination of racism in America
I had three questions I tested the Bahá'í Faith with.* One spiritual: Hell. I found sufficient answer in the Bahá'í Writings. Another personal: Alcoholism. I found an unexpected answer to that, too. The other social: Racism. And the Writings didn't just answer my question about its supposed religious validity. They specifically ID'd it as America's most vital and challenging issue. The one on which not just the US Bahá'í community but the whole nation itself will rise or fall. And more to the point, they gave practical instruction on how to overcome it. Instruction that Bahá'ís are trying to follow to the best of our ability. Despite all the cultural baggage we come into the Faith with. Instruction that our elected world governing body - by studying the Writings, reading the reality of the world and our specific part of it, and consulting on how to marry the two – continues to give us definitive and authoritative guidance on modeling.

We're not the only people in the nation standing up for and trying to actively practice anti-racism in all our affairs. But again. we're working to model this vital, life-or-death process not as a nice idea but as an obligation of practicing our faith. Our commitment to it is not going to fade away as some new trend or movement rises to the fore. We're in it for the life-long haul. As I remember one white Bahá'í mother exclaiming about raising prejudice-free children, "…we're going to keep working at it 'til we get it right."*

So has the American Bahá'í community totally eliminated racism even within itself and its members? No. Not yet. Embryonic models still, remember. But I've observed its struggles, and its victories, and that it does keep on trying. Ask a Bahá'í about Louis Gregory and Louisa Matthew who in 1912, with the encouragement of Άbdu'l-Bahá himself, became the first interracial couple to marry in the nascent American Bahá'í community. Ask a Bahá'í how Shoghi Effendi responded in the '40s to someone's concern that Bahá'í students were IDing themselves as such in anti-race-discrimination protests at U of C. Ask a Bahá'í about the compilation of Writings on Social Action commissioned by the Universal House of Justice. Ask a Baha'i when the US National Assembly made systemic racism an agenda topic at annual national conventions because delegates from all over the country insisted on addressing it anyway. Ask a Bahá'í why Rainn Wilson takes time from his career to host a monthly conversational webinar on Racism: How NOT To Go Back to Normal. Ask a Bahá'í what they're doing in your neck of the woods. Ask how you can join the effort.

Smiling girl & other children working at their desks in elementary schoolScholastic and spiritual education for all children
Back when Chicago's Bahá'í Center was on 33rd Street, it was within a few blocks of the Southside staging area for the Bud Billiken Back-to-School Parade & Picnic. America's second largest annual parade. Founded by a Baha'i, Robert Sengstacke Abbott. That was convenient. Build our float and man it in our back drive with all our school kids (plus DJ, when called for). Easy drive down to our assigned slot. Our steppers did last-minute rehearsing there, too. Our ethnically-garbed marchers and our moms with little ones in prams and strollers and wagons often stopped in before going down to staging. So did people who didn't have ethnic garb and wanted to get one of the group T-shirts for the year. Volunteers also put together some of the picnic food there to take to the Billiken Picnic later.  And then, well, this happened...

…at the kick-off meeting for our Bud Billiken Parade effort one year. Totally out of the blue, I heard myself say, "It's a back-to-school parade. Instead of marching and a float and all, let's do children's-class activities at the picnic. Service. Dedicated to the scholastic and spiritual education of all children."

The meeting came to a complete standstill. Then everyone started agreeing. And I had to go back and listen to what I'd just said for them to agree with. I know it didn't come from my brain. But I know it had a galvanizing effect. Not only on the committee, but on the community.*

We had children's virtues classes on both the North and South Sides. (Note I said virtues classes. It's not about teaching them to be Bahá'ís. It's about teaching them human virtues, which are important to any child, whether from a Bahá'í or other religious family or not.) Transitioning to educational activities at the Picnic was consultatively easy to scale up. Story Reading, Cooperation Games (learning to cooperate, not compete), Virtues Face-Painting (discussing the virtue the child chose while painting its symbol), and School Supplies kits to serve not dozens, but hundreds, of kids. Of course, it obviously involved a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated people.

But the community was indeed galvanized. Because teaching children, both in scholastics and in spirituality, is ingrained in the Bahá'í Writings and psyche. It's a Bahá'í law that parents provide or in some way ensure the education of their children. Directly or by enlisting assistance. It even implies, in a way, that a parent who neglects to do so risks forfeiting certain divine rights of parenthood. And as Άbdu'l-Bahá said:

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

And: Human education signifies civilization and progress -- that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man....

ASIDE] In the US, for example, spiritual education may come from the religious communities parents expose the child to, and scholastic education from the public schools that parents must pay taxes for if they earn enough, with all parents being responsible for their child going to school or being home-schooled. Bahá'ís support these institutions functioning at their very best. Other nations have other provisions or, sadly, sometimes none at all. No matter where, Bahá'í do what they can to promote universal education for children. [/ASIDE]

Button reading "And God said: [the Maxwell Equations] And there was light."Harmony of science and religion

In discussing independent investigation, I also mentioned another Bahá'í tenet: The essential harmony of science and religion. Far from believing they are at odds, Bahá'ís believe the two complement and support each other. As I once wrote:

I think Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the false dichotomy between science and religion, and did so with verbal artistry:

   Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.
   The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
   Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism.
   Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.

Note that he isn't voicing value judgments about people. About those who study science and those who don't. Those who espouse religion and those who don't. He's talking about the tools, the gifts, themselves. About how each is needed to fulfill the best in the other. In a way, he's saying that both are, and must be, divinely inspired.*

And "I believe religion is a gift that God has given us to help us understand His spiritual creation. Just as science is a gift that He has given us to help us study His physical creation. And art is a gift that He has given us to help us portray and glorify both creations. I believe they operate in parallel, each affecting the others."* I used two examples: The harmony of the Biblical Big Bang's "Let there be light" and the concept that God voiced the Maxwell Equations (for the creation of a particle) and the first photon sprang into being. And the harmony of the poetic story – boiled down for an illiterate people to understand, remember, and teach their children - of creation in Genesis and Carl Sagan's popular-science descriptions of the evolution of the Cosmos, life, and humanity.

Back to Dr. King for a moment. Whether he knew it or not, he was repeating what the Bahá'í Writings have told us since the 19th century. That science without spirituality will, instead of serving humanity, devolve into a materialistic master. And that religion without rationality will, instead of uplifting humanity, devolve into rank superstition. It is because of this tenet that I as a Bahá'í can believe in and live according to the mysteries of the spiritual while walking the physical world with practical feet. This is why Bahá'ís, not in spite of the Faith but because of it, pay attention to the science when it tells us about things like climate change, mental health, pandemics, race as a social but not genetic construct, and so on.

You don't have to be a Bahá'í (or in any religion) to explore these models. But feel free to ask one for some chat time.

Khoda hafez,
*[PLUG] You can read all about it in Twigs of a Family Tree. Ask me & I'll even tell you where in the book to find it. [/PLUG]

Thu, Sep 17, 2020 at 12:32 PM, Marianne wrote:
  Another winner! [Re "divine right of parenthood":] Thank you! I stand corrected and enlightened.
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
  You're welcome, and thank you. I'm always pleased when my efforts help someone consider something they hadn't seen before. 'Cuz heaven knows, other people do that a lot for me. Isn't consultation, however achieved, glorious?!

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject


M O D E L I N G - 1 2 3

"I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, and you have got to show me."  -- Willard Duncan Vandiver

[This is the 5th in this series. I recommend you read Unbroken and Mending and Tuning and Re-Tuning first.]

Last month, I said of the Bahá'í community, "What we're told to do is to humbly and unitedly work on a pilot model of what healing, loving, human unity can and does look like. Both locally and globally. To lift people's spirits. To give them hope. To offer them a new way forward."

Sounds great. But what does it mean? More to the point, what are we doing about it?

Good point. So I decided to share some -- well, nine, 'cuz that's such a Bahá'í number -- ways that, as directed in our Sacred Writings, the still-infant Bahá'í community is already building models. Here's the first three.

Ballot BoxTotally non-partisan, non-competitive, non-adversarial elections
If we ever needed a unifying model for this, isn't it now? Well, the Bahá'í community, which has/endorses no political parties, has formed its governing bodies, in both the East and West, on the local level since the late 1800s, on the national level since 1925, and on the global level since 1963.

I've previously written about how Baha'i elections work and how voters can begin to employ that model in civic elections. Go ahead, (re)read both. There's lots of food for thought there, so I'll quietly wait for you to Back-key back here when you're done. (You can download this, too.)

[ASIDE] I find it interesting synchronicity that Vandiver voiced his famous aphorism in 1899, the same year that the first Bahá'í administrative body in the U.S. was established (in Kenosha, WI). [/ASIDE]

Group DiscussionDecision-making via a scriptural form of consultation
We've heard a lot these past years about the African proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." The Bahá'í Faith is all about "going together" … UNITY. So, yeah, it may take us a little longer to get where we're going; but when we all go together, everyone gets there … no one is left out or left behind. As I said at the end of the first entry I referred you to in discussing the preceding (elections) model, "The purpose of Baha'i consultation is to, first, arrive at the truth regarding any decision and then, secondly, achieve peace through unstinting support of that decision."

In that order. With the understanding that what comes integrally in between is justice. Aren't we hearing that very cry nowadays? "No truth, no justice! No justice, no peace!" Bahá'í consultation starts with the search for truth and ends with the promise of peace. And it's a model anyone can use. You don't have to be Bahá'í, you just have to be willing.

Interestingly, this model of decision-making gives precedence to black cultural rather than white cultural norms. To explain what I mean, I'm going to quote from another article I previously wrote, about a talk by Dr. Thomas Kochman, author of Black and White Styles in Conflict:

Dr. Kochman explained that in the white culture, the primary purpose of deep discourse is to achieve peace. While in the black culture, the primary purpose of deep discourse is to arrive at truth … Since the two cultures have totally different default assumptions about the purpose of, methods of conducting, and expectations from the discourse, neither purpose – achieving peace or arriving at truth – is fulfilled. (And, of course, it's usually the needs of the minority culture that get disregarded in the process.)

I spoke with Dr. Kochman after his address. Thanked him for the insights he provided. Mentioned that the Writings give the Baha'i community a methodology – Baha'i consultation – for fulfilling both of the purposes of intensive discourse that he identified: First, in striking the spark of truth through the clash of differing opinions without the so often concomitant defensive ownership of ideas by the individuals who proffered them. Second, by full support of the final decision, even – especially – by those who argued against it, as the only foolproof means for testing the decision arrived at. Truth and peace. He said that if the Baha'is really were pulling this off, they were the only culture in the world who was.

Well, we're working on it. And it works.

Magnifying GlassIndependent investigation of the truth.
Harking back to where justice fits in the scheme of things, Bahá'u'lláh was very clear about its importance and its results. For example, He told us that "The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men." More pointed still, He explained that "The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes." God loves justice. And when we love justice to the best of our ability as fully as God does, we'll see and know things for ourselves, not just 'cuz someone told us so ... 'cuz someone told them so ... 'cuz someone else....

When it comes to matters of import spiritual, social, and scientific, God wants us ALL to be from Missouri.

This is one reason the Bahá'í Faith has no clergy. Because in this era, each of us not only has the capacity, right, and duty to investigate the truth for ourself, and then to share what we learned, but we as a species have developed the means to do so. And to ensure access to those means in usable form, the Bahá'í Writings enjoin universal education not only in spiritual and religious matters but also in the arts and sciences (you can download this), all four being in essential harmony; a universal auxiliary language to be taught to all children in addition to their own mother tongue, so everyone in the world can communicate without intermediary interpreters; and elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty (you can download this), so everyone can afford the tools and technology they need in order to independently investigate.

Yes, the models we're developing of all this are still embryonic, but we do have them…and we know why we have them and that we must share them with anyone interested. Are you?

Khoda hafez,

Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 10:19 PM, Marianne wrote:
  Just as an aside - Baha'i consultation emphasizes unity over the short-term objectives of truth and peace. Our Writings tell us that it is better to be unified than to be "right" - and that the truth, the "right"-ness of a matter will become clear, that the harm of being "wrong" about something is less than the harm of being contentious with each other. Personally, I find this a mind bending proposition - that anything should take precedence over truth.  But in the short run, that is what the Faith teaches. And unity is different from a 'peace' that is only the cessation of conflict.
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Excellent point. Thanx for emphasizing and explaining in more detail why, in that first paragraph about decision-making, UNITY comes two sentences before truth and peace. We need to be unified not just during and after our consultation but, before that, about even using Baha'i consultation together in the first place. You know, Number Two Son Mead was one of the stalwarts tasked with putting on the Second Baha'i World Congress in 1992. He told me back then how the Universal House of Justice explained to those organizers that their being completely unified in their consultation, decisions, and efforts was even more important than getting the work done on time. And he understood why it so instructed them. 'Cuz without complete unity from the gitgo, they never could've gotten the work done on time. (Never mind as gloriously as they did it.)
Mon, Sep 2, 2020 at 10:43 AM, Kim wrote:
  LOVED your "three models" blog!  So well put!
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Then I hope you'll also LOVE the two September Abiding Blog entries, which also contain "three models" each.
    Fri, Oct 2, 2020 at 6:53 PM, Kim wrote:
  I did love September, which I just saw in following your October links.  Sorry I am so busy right now.
      Lucki responds to Kim:
  Well, better late than never. ;-)   No apology necessary. I'm glad you enjoyed September's nine posts throughout the website. And I can certainly sympathize with being busy.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 10:43 AM, Lann wrote:
  Interesting change in direction. But one of the links didn't work for Baha'i elections. It went to a story about Sandy Hook which didn't seem to apply.
  Lucki responds to Lann:
  I'm so glad you caught that for me, Lann. At some point, I seem to have blown away the whole bottom half of that target page; so once the link got to the top of the page, it had nowhere further to go. I've restored it now. Thanx for stopping to let me know, instead of just skipping past it. I depend on readers to help me out like that, and greatly appreciate it.

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R E - T U N I N G

"We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may he lifted up...."
                                                                                                                                               -- Bahá'u'lláh
"The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music
where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord."

                                                                                                                                              -- Άbdu'l-Bahá

[This is the 4th in a series. I recommend you read Unbroken and Mending and Tuning first. I'll be here when you get back.]

Sometimes when a piece of music has an unusually engaging form of dissonance, it can be enjoyable as a change of pace. But when something that was supposed to be a symphony, or even just a song, devolves into a random and unending series of chaotic clashes? Well, then playing it longer and louder isn't going to cut it. Nor is trying to correct the most egregious blares of discord here and there by striking a tuning fork or adding grace notes. Nor is trying to block it all out by humming really hard.

It's too far gone to be fixable. The few good notes in it are being buried. And the noise is beginning to deafen people. When that happens, the best thing you can do is walk away from it ... and go find, or write, a new tune.

Same when it comes to America's most life-sucking and challenging issues, wreakers of devastation (as we can plainly see today): Racism. Materialism. And political corruption.

[ASIDE] That list isn't merely my opinion; I'm informed by the Bahá'í Writings about the U.S. If you already agree with the list, I needn't slow you down with myriad quotes I've found. If you don't agree, or aren't sure, or would rather get it from the Source, Google the word Bahá'í and any one, or all, of those terms. And be prepared to read for hours. Or years. ('Cuz the more you read, the more you realize. Every time you go back over the words, you "risk" seeing, learning, taking to heart something new. It's a process. A never-ending process. For which I am profoundly grateful.) [/ASIDE]

Understand, though, that scrapping the unfixable songs doesn't mean scrapping music. It doesn't even mean scrapping the individual notes and chords. It means taking the time and care to put them together in(to) something new. Beautiful. Emotive, Stirring. Calming. Inspiring.

Yes, inspiring. Uplifting and motivating the spirit. Spiritual.

We as a species are like that music. Those notes and chords. Different. Yet beautiful in our diversity. Beautiful individually. And exponentially more beautiful as more and more of us blend our notes together into chords and our chords together into symphonies.

Discordant noiseMusical soundBut we can't fix the songs we currently have. The writers are tone deaf. The themes are deeply disillusioning. The melodies are sorely corrupted. The instruments are badly damaged. The musicians are stridently clashing. The audience is fleeing in despairing droves.

So we can waste our time trying to repair the current songs. Which aren't even really broken, 'cuz they're evoking the negative vibes they were really created from. And passing on the resonance of. Just like they were constructed, composed, scored to do.

Or we can look for, fall in love with, and live by a new song. I've said it before and I'll say it again. All the good intentions and remedies and fixes and upgrades we could ever come up with to solve our current dissonant chaos will come to nil in the long run if they don't include – indeed, have as their very foundation – the spiritual.

Which is, bottom line, why the Bahá'í Faith exists. Because humanity's One Creator, the Source of the Universe in all its grandeur, by whatever name we call Her or Him or It, through whatever means we connect to that Power ... well, as Bahá'u'lláh tells us in the Hidden Words, speaking as the Voice of that Power, "Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee...." And, loving us, never has and never will desert us. Never has and never will give up in disgust and leave us to our own devices. Has instead sent us Voices in every era, to every people. To lift us up when we have stumbled. To set us on the best path when we've gone astray. To give us a broader map when we've traveled beyond the limits of the old one. To teach us from new textbooks, building on all the lessons that have gone before. New spiritual and practical apps and tools and user manuals to match the new and accelerating progress we've made as a species. To help us continue to build an ever-advancing civilization. And before all, to give us hope when we are in the deepest, darkest despair.

That's what Bahá'u'lláh brought us. Not us Bahá'ís. Us everybody.

Which, in turn, does not mean that Bahá'ís are supposed to be in the missionary business. Proselytizing. Coercing people. Converting them. Being pushy and arrogant and self-righteous and triumphal. That's not what we're told to do. What we're told to do is to humbly and unitedly work on a pilot model of what healing, loving, human unity can and does look like. Both locally and globally. To lift people's spirits. To give them hope. To offer them a new way forward. A new tune. A new Homo sapiens symphony. And a seat at it. Not just in the audience but even, if they wish, in the orchestra.

7 diverse children happily playing 7 different instruments together

This isn't pie in the sky. It's quietly going on every day. In every nation, territory, and major island in the world. Lovingly, consistently, quietly, without making the if-it-bleeds-it-leads news reports. Praying together with people about whatever is on their hearts. Then acting like they prayed about it. Arising to serve in local communities. Teaching children about their innate nobility and the virtues they can choose to develop. Empowering teens as community builders. Studying sacred writings with an eye towards appreciating and applying their spiritual principles to one's life, in all one's affairs, in whatever Faith one follows.

Are we Bahá'ís doing any of this perfectly? Is our model perfect? Far from it. We're learning ourselves. By fits and starts. Through trial and error and reflection and trying again. In cycles of crisis and victory. Even surpassed at times by other communities that we're working with. From whom we can and should learn. Luckily, we have a lot of guidance from God's latest (not last, simply latest) Voice. The Voice for this era in human development. Because it's only through such spiritual guidance that we have a chance on earth of building solutions that will last.

If you want to learn about the Bahá'í message, what Bahá'ís are doing, where they are, how to get in touch with them, what community-building activities are there for you to take part in, just look up Bahá'í in your local phone directory or religious news. Or call 1-800-22-UNITE (1-800-228-6483). Or go to the U.S. Bahá'í website or the world Bahá'í website. And listen to the new music. What have you got to lose? Who knows, you might just enjoy it!

Khoda hafez,

Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 5:24 AM, Marianne wrote:
  Wow! Another impressive analysis! Maybe use RE-TUNING. (I had to read the word 2x b/c it looked like "Returning" at first glance.) Brava!
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Good suggestion. [I've implemented it.] I was thinking of a 5th entry called MODELING that gives brief RL examples of Baha'is implementing certain activities/principles. Stay re-tuned.

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"Tune up: (verb) To give someone an attitude adjustment by beating their ass;
(noun) A beat-down, especially when administered by the cops.
"  -- Urban Dictionary

[This is the 3rd in a series. I'll wait while you read Unbroken and Mending.]

That "urban" definition seems to be the most common "tune up" meme nowadays. Especially in minority communities. But it isn't the only one. And it certainly isn't the best one.

So when it comes to racism, and antiracism, we need to promulgate a new meme. Hijack and drown out the old meme as effectively as fancamming stans hijacked and drowned out the #WhiteLivesMatter hashtag (and related reactionary-racism memes like #WhiteoutWednesday and #BlueLivesMatter) ... so successfully that the hashtag got categorized as a K-Pop trend instead of the call-to-arms white supremacists started it as.

That change may not be as hard as it sounds. Because we've already seen something like that starting to happen. The cynical me said yeah, sure, everybody (especially white America) hears about it, protests a bit, feels good about protesting, gets distracted, and things go back to the same ol' same-old. Watching what was happening, though, I started to wonder, first, IF it might be different this time and, second, WHY it might be different this time.Time approaching 7 minutes 46 seconds

And I think that IF it's different, I know WHY. Because the average joe isn't used, any more, to news images that aren't sound-bite short. Our attention spans, especially those of young people who grew up with Internet speed and social media, have gotten shorter.

Basically, we're no longer used to news reports – or, for that matter, fictional dramatic scenes -  that take more'n a minute or three. So when we all got to watch a real man being really murdered for a solid, unrelenting 7 minutes 46 seconds* (prosecutors accidentally overstated the timespan by a minute) ... well, no wonder it shocked and overwhelmed so many viewers.

Clock whirlpoolNo wonder this time, for perhaps the first time, the pain and trauma visited on the witnesses, the family, and the whole black community has finally so strongly, deeply, lastingly resonated with so many white people. Especially young white people.

And driven them to repeatedly rise up in massive and consistent protest. Including so many young white people.

Despite the danger posed by sustained exposure to the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 virus and the resultant risk of developing and possibly even dying of COVID-19. Even for young white people.A tuning fork sounding

It struck our minds and hearts and souls like a mallet striking a tuning fork. And our minds and hearts and souls didn't just vibrate in response. No, the vibration was amplified. It resonated. Each human tuning fork at its own frequency. Pitch. And volume.

But that's the thing about tuning forks. They eventually stop resonating, and then stop vibrating altogether. Unless something strikes them again.

A mallet. A hand. A wind. Something.

Only, we don't need another murderous mallet, thank you very much. So we need to offer our tuning-fork minds and  hearts and souls to some other source. Like maybe a divine wind. Like maybe the hand of God. Gentle and loving enough to encourage, but also strong and persistent enough to sustain.

And that's the other thing about tuning forks. They're very good at making noise. But so what, if that's all? No, that noise needs to turn into sound ... noise with meaning. Like to tune a musical instrument or to run a Rinne test for hearing loss.One tuning fork causing another to resonate

Even better is seeing the tuning fork actually moving something.  Like when one tuning fork resonates and causes another nearby tuning fork to start resonating with sympathetic vibrations. Or like how touching a vibrating tuning fork to the surface of a pool of water causes waves to form and travel outward in all directions.

Imagine what it can be like when the resonance of our minds and hearts and souls triggers ripples and waves of change across the whole of our society. Of our world. Of our future. To help bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

And keeps on doing it. Perpetually in motion. Never running out of energy. Always being replenished, renewed.

My spiritual daughter-in-law Marielle is cited in Twigs of a Family Tree for an image she shared about prayer being a sort of perpetual motion machine ... IF. To quote:

It's like a system being in an excited state in quantum mechanics. When we pray, our soul is in an excited state. When we pray for something, or especially for someone, we emit to them some of our life-giving spiritual energy. In order to remain able to emit energy, though, in order to remain in a metastable excited state, we need to replenish our energy from a higher-energy source. It doesn't matter what we call that source: God, Goddess, Manifestation, Concourse on High, angelic host, loa, saint, spirit, our beloved grandmother on the other side, energy of the universe, or whatever. As long as it replenishes us. And we let it.

Line of tuning forksDifferent analogy.

Same lesson.

Singular result.

And that resonates with me.

How about you?

Khoda hafez,

* 2020-07-18 NOTE: This figure was calculated based on bystander cellphone video. However, the bodycam footage from policemen Kueng and Lane, made available for viewing by journalists on July 15, shows that Chauvin had his knee on FLoyd's neck for 9 minutes and 27 seconds ... including about 3 minutes after Kueng checked and told Chauvin that Floyd had no pulse.

Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 9:13 PM, Marianne wrote:
   Truly resonating and in tune! :) 3 musical notes & a throbbing heart  -MSG
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
    Thank you, Marianne. Stay tuned for our next tune. Or perhaps I should say RETUNE.
Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 3:47 PM, Sue wrote:
   I liked the comment about how the vibrations from the tuning fork slowly die out. As someone that used to help with PR for a Baha'i community in southern California, I appreciate the meaning of that observation.


Lucki responds to Sue:
   Thank you for sharing that. I know where you're coming from. One-hit wonders don't work for long. As my late and sorely missed friend Monroe used to remind us (and around here, his friends still invoke his name whenever we repeat the concept), it's not an event, "It's a process." And, of course, God always does Her part; we just need to be receptive to that new energy. That re-tune.



Sun, Aug 2, 2020 at 12:52 PM, Sue wrote:
  One time CNN reflected their own awareness of how rapidly the public forgets what it has heard or read. That was when those 2 reporters were caught in North Korea. After they finally came out, CNN even asked for suggestions, regarding how to keep a story fresh in the public's mind. I sent more than one suggestion, but I never heard back from them.

      Lucki responds to Sue:
   And what were your suggestions? Sounds sorta guest-blog-worthy.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject



"If we were to immediately dismantle the current police in prep for a new, decent police -
what is to stop all those legally-armed-to-the-teeth white guys from forming their
modern version of a slave patrol?
"  -- Kim Bowden-Kerby (in her response to Unbroken)

[If you haven't already read Unbroken, you may want to do so now. I'll wait.]

Thank you, Kim. Good question. My answer is...


Which is what's been going on all along. Because right now, law enforcement agencies ARE those legally-armed-to-the-teeth white guys forming their modern version of a slave patrol.

It's still ingrained in their, and the nation's, culture. As Jelani Cobb put it in The New Yorker: "Policing is inescapably a metaphor for governmental power. The impunity of the American police has been achieved by slow accretion through the decades, and with the tacit understanding that it would be deployed in great disproportion against black people."

When you "fix" your pet, it isn't because it's broken. Quite the opposite. It's fully functional. Doing what comes naturally to it. What it was created to do. And so, when you "fix" your pet, you don't dismantle it. You don't toss a lung here and an ear there and a rib over yonder and paws all over the place and let all the blood run every which way. What you do is you stop it from reproducing, so it stops being in the gene pool of the next generation.

Defunding the police is a step in the right direction. It isn't about dismantling them. It's about taking the increasing funding they've been given over time because they were the ones left holding the bag when, back in the day, the social-service community was ravaged by shortsighted government defunding.

When 911 has a new script and can send addiction counselors to deal with sleeping drunks and shelter resources to deal with the homeless and mental health professionals to deal with the mentally ill and family specialists to deal with domestic abuse and education-focused security to deal with unruly students and on-wheels meter maids to deal with speeders and so on, we won't need to be sending all those legally-armed-to-the-teeth white guys out there with their (often unconscious) slave-patrol mentality. At least not by themselves. It's a start.

It's the same concept as one in many large metro fire departments, for example. "I fell down and broke my leg" doesn't call for a bunch of firefighters in several big honking gas-guzzlers hooking up their hoses to the nearest hydrant, raising ladders, and lugging in 60 pounds of firefighting equipment. Instead, paramedics are available to be sent out in their ambulance to answer a known medical call. Even when fire vehicles are sent ahead or with, as soon as it's clear there's no fire to contend with, the paramedics call the shots. "Here, help us get this six-foot-five, 320-pound person down the four flights of stairs and into the ambo. ... ... ... ... Thank you. We've got this now. You can head back to the house, ready to respond to the next FIRE."

In some severe cases, the extra step of disbanding the police becomes a sort of "vasectomy prep" by forcing all personnel to go through a (re)hiring process that includes looking at their "resume" of racist v. nonracist (and even antiracist) actions in the past. As well as forcing them to undergo a new psych eval at the beginning, instead of the end, of the (re)hiring process. Plus the opportunity to incentivise them to (re)form their union along less confrontational, more negotiative, socially sensitive, non-blue-wall lines. And even allowing a newly (re)formed Internal Affairs unit to work with or under the guidance of a civilian review structure. Getting rid of the most blatant, heinous, legally-armed-to-the-teeth, bad-apple white guys will, like the stay-at-home lockdowns re the pandemic, give us a chance to flatten the curve of insult, injury, and death until the most effective treatment/cure can be found, replicated, and disseminated. (Which MUST be the next step after ... and not delayed too long.)

But before any of that "re-" stuff happens, every single one of them will be forced to turn in their badges and their service weapons. Sure, some of them - especially the bad apples - will hold back their sub rosa back-up weapons. But said back-up weapons will be fewer, often smaller and, most importantly, either illegal in the first place - making them subject to confiscation when found - or ID'd and traceable via civic permit should they be wrongfully used. All of which can be done without violating 2nd-Amendment rights even before that contentious "right" either gets rewritten/ratified to make sense or finally goes the way of Prohibition and other dodo birds. (Which also MUST not be delayed too long.)

Our states are laboratories of democracy. Proving (that is, testing) grounds for new concepts in law and in service. When enough states experiment and prove a new concept or set of related concepts, the federal government has the opportunity to make that thing-that-works work on the federal level. And before that, our cities are laboratories of democracy and proving grounds that the states can learn from. 

Mending torn clothingMending broken armA number of cities are suddenly experimenting with, and a few were already in the process of using, novel concepts to promote liberty and justice for ALL. Watching the process and seeing the results is going to be exciting.

Still, I reiterate when I said before. All that experimenting, testing, and proving is going to short out in the long run if they don't somehow fold spiritual concepts into the mix. That's the only way of permanently mending things. And I chose that particular antonym of "breaking" on purpose. Because mending doesn't just mean fixing, like sewing a torn shirt. Mending also means healing, like knitting a broken bone. Our minority communities need healing. So do our police.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. I'm already in the process of formulating a third entry on the whole issue of racism. Please be patient, as it's going off in a different direction, so I'm breaking ground.  Watch for "Tuning" next month.

Wed, Jun 24, 2020 at 1:34 PM, Kim wrote:
All righty!
I've got more uncomfortable questions to come.


Lucki responds to Kim's initial email:
  And I'm already lining up "Tuning" for early July, plus another (a continuation) to soon follow that. Yep, double my quota. After which new questions will be happily accepted (if the 2 July articles don't already answer them for you before I even see you ask them) for future months, as they make me think; but please be patient, 'cuz I'm no longer as spry - physically or mentally - as I usta wuz. ;-)



Wed, Jun 24, 2020 at 7:29 PM, Kim wrote:
  Ok - I certainly don't want to swamp you.
  It does not seem to me that mentally you are slowing down any.
  I will be REALLY surprised if your July 2 post answers my new uncomfortable questions - I don't think these would even be on your active radar. Meanwhile, I can rest with my Beatles song "It Won't Be Long Now" - ha ha.
Lots and lots of love,

      Lucki responds to Kim:
   LOL. Not July 2 post. Two July posts. Don't want you looking for something(s) that might not be there that early [& then wondering if I didn't, like, keep my word].
        Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 3:48 PM, Kim wrote:
   Ah..... I look forward to them.
          Lucki responds to Kim:
   So do I. Can't wait to see what they say.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject



"When ya got a job to do / Ya got to do it well."  -- Guns N' Roses lyric

I'm very into feral gardening. But every once in a while I go for the gold and do something preplanned. Structured. Cultivated. On purpose.
Healthy Easter lilies
I planted a patch of trumpet lily bulbs. Specifically Easter lilies. It didn't take them long to sprout up and flourish. And to blossom into striking flowers. Naturally, I aerated and watered and fertilized and otherwise pampered them. I had to 'cuz, unlike ferals, they really couldn't do well just on their own.

Beside them in the patch, I planted a thorn bush. One of those so-called "home defense" species. The kind rife with myriad long, ghastly, scary thorns. It, too, flourished. And blossomed, sort of, though the uniformly plain-as-mud flowers were nothing to write home about. It was definitely hardier, though. And soon bigger by far than any Easter lily.

Thorn bushTime passed, and I realized I wanted more vibrancy in my little patch. Variegated. Fragrant. Roses might be nice. Yeah, roses. Big bright roses, that's what I wanted. Lacking more room, though, I started aerating and watering and fertilizing and otherwise pampering the thorn bush. To encourage it to grow minimalist barbs and big, bright, long-stem roses instead of all those giant thorns and plain-as-mud flowers. Didn't work. Humph.

I lowered my expectations. I was willing to settle for little, pastel, tea roses. But no matter how much I aerated and watered and fertilized and otherwise pampered that thorn bush, it neglected to grow roses. I even tried pruning it a bit, to ensure new growth. But it still just refused to grow roses. Drats.

Many colors of rosesSilly me. After all, that bush simply didn't have the right DNA passed on to it from its ancestral species to be a rose bush. It had thorn-bush DNA and nothing was going to change that. It couldn't help but manifest its thorn-bush properties. I couldn't expect it to. If I wanted roses, I needed to prune it back even more to make space for (and aerate and water and fertilize and otherwise pamper) actual roses. Space in the sunlight, so they would flourish and blossom just as well as the Easter lilies.

So that's what I did. Come Fall, I pruned back that thorn bush. Found space and other resources for roses. Of many rosy hues. (Except reds. Never been big on the blood-red roses of "romance".) As many as could fit. Pretty pinks. Sunny golds. Shining coppers. Rich topazes. Satiny blacks. Even multicolor species. And they were glorious.

Sickly Easter liliesWell, not at first they weren't. Not at all. At first, the whole thing just looked like a chopped-up bush, a mostly bare patch of dirt, and some scraggly sticks. But came the new Spring....

And I noticed an added benefit. One I hadn't expected 'cuz I honestly hadn't been able to see it was needed. Because without my realizing it, the shade cast by that flourishing thorn bush had robbed my Easter lilies of some of their necessary sunlight. Ditto nourishment, probably. And so they'd lost their bright whiteness and gradually become more and more sickly. But given the chance to get enough light et al again, they too were flourishing more. Equally surprisingly, even the drastically pruned thorn bush began to look greener and healthier.

I've heard a lot of talk recently about our law enforcement system being broken. And needing fixing.

I disagree. Vehemently.

Like that metaphorical thorn bush in that metaphorical lily-white garden so sorely in need of all those other metaphorical blooms of many human hues, like that thorn bush in a garden I never actually planted, our law enforcement system isn't broken. Isn't malfunctioning. Is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Is actively manifesting the DNA-determined properties inherited from its ancestral species.

Because, you see, the earliest form of organized and well-manned law enforcement in the U.S., the original patrolmen, the source that all our police departments (and similar and supporting organizations) grew from, the one whose DNA they cannot help but carry and manifest, was the slave patrols of the South. Which any and every armed white man in the nation could be deputized into. To ensure total control of all black bodies and protection of all white property.

We can't fix that DNA. Because it's dominant DNA. No matter what else it's paired with in its gene pool, it dominates. (Where have you heard that term recently?) No matter how good their intentions at first, it eventually infects and dominates almost every person in a law enforcement position in this country. It's cultural. And it's insidious. It doesn't just infect whites in those positions. It infects minorities in those positions, too.

You know all those black parents through the generations who were grieving because - despite giving their children, especially their sons, "the talk" about how to survive an encounter with the police - they still couldn't save them from death at the hands of racist police or vigilantes steeped in the slave-patrol mentality and culture that still persists today? You know all those black parents today who rightfully fear that their child - no matter how well forewarned about it - might be next to fall an unprotected (and unserved) victim to murderous police or vigilante racism?

Then consider this heartbreak, too: All the black parents who were and are grieving because the racism they couldn't protect their children from is REVERSE racism ... those black children, often unknowingly, reversing the prevalent toxicity of covert, and sometimes overt, racism back against other black people. Especially reverse racists in law enforcement, where they too get to carry a gun to control black bodies and protect white property.

This is a systemic problem. This is a mental and physical health issue. This is a spiritual sickness.

The problem of racism in law enforcement? In the final analysis, long-term, we can't "fix" it as in repair it or make it better. We have to "fix" it as in stop it from reproducing. We need to go back to the drawing board. Create a new blueprint. Build a new structure on solid ground, not on the shifting rubble of the old. A new structure imbued with a DNA that manifests the concept of "serve and protect" for ALL people.

It needs more than a fix. It needs a real change. A real change of heart. A real change of nature. A real change of spirit.

Legislative solutions are necessary, but they're not enough. Economic solutions are necessary, but they're not enough. Social solutions are necessary, but they're not enough. Etc. None of them will hold sway for long if they are not coupled with spiritual solutions.

So I challenge you to decide how YOU will help effect a spiritual solution. And then to ACT as if you made that decision. And meant it.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Don't let anyone fool you. Reverse racism is NOT black racism against white people. Individual black people may be prejudiced against white people. But racism is about suppressive societal power against a whole group, and black people as a group don't and never did have the power in our society to be suppressive/racist against whites as a group.

NO Thoughts & Prayers. SYSTEMIC CHANGE #BlackLivesMatterWed, Jun 10, 2020 at 10:27 AM, Helena wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  I took a picture of this sign last night in my neighborhood.
  What are your thoughts?


Lucki responds to Helena:
  Absolutely right. Spot on! Not that we should stop thinking & praying, but we have to stop STOPPING after we've thought & prayed. Like 12-Step programs & the Baha'i Faith tell us: Pray about it; then ACT like you prayed about it.
  Your thoughts?



Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 8:23 PM, Helena wrote:
Hi Lucki,
 I  agree. I just don't think we should stop praying, though. I also feel like I have not been doing enough. I'm not at the marches raising my voice. I've been watching the action on T.V., sitting back and not participating. Where do I begin if I'm not raising my voice? Do I make art? Do I write? Just wondering. I also wonder if praying and talking was all that the Baha'i Community was doing. How can we "stand together" rather than "sit together" [as Vesal Stoakley put it in "Welcome to the Feast of Black Oppression"]? That's all I can think of at the moment.

      Lucki responds to Helena:
  Well, one thing you might do is come up with a piece of visual art that expresses all that & submit it to Artists Off the Wall this year (...deadline is 6/21). As to your concern that the Baha'i community be actually standing with others & not just sitting with them, feel free to bring up that concern at Devotions [in planning for Juneteenth]....
Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 4:25 PM, Mark wrote:
  WOW!! That looks very impressive, interesting, informative. (But, don't take me too alliterally...; but, if you ever NEED some, I got lots!)
  Is this your creation? Your blog? (Can a blog even BE other than one?) I WILL be checking it out. ...
  Enywise, I am embroiled in some very intense, even hateful, crazy, paranoid Conspiracy Theorists: ... Funny, really, but also genuinely frightening. It stimulates great research, informing myself. And carrying on with politics: people up here and in the States. Canadians are very informed on US politics, equal to, and with many I know, greater than many Americans. So, I can get extremely worked up with people! And NOW, there's the rioting...I get TOO much into it all, as I honestly try to become informed, aware of issues, in order to vote wisely, support, etc. I've never been good with it, only voted in a couple of Pres. Elections, ever. So, I am making up for it.
  But, I absolutely DO know, by now, that arguing with those zombies is worse than futile – it's damaging! Serenity? Well...I got SOME!....
  Lucki responds to Mark:
  Well, that was a mighty interesting ramble. LOL  What's that cute quote based on Scripture?: "If two people fight about what's right, then both of them are wrong."  Yeah, that's it. It comes from the verse "In brief, O ye believers of God! The text of the divine Book is this: If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong.
Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 5:36 PM, Marianne wrote:
  That essay flows and expresses those ideas beautifully. Go team!
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Thank you for your feedback. I woke up this morning with all that gardenish imagery about what's going on in our country as a result of entrenched and systemic racism, and it just flowed out of my fingers. Poured out, more like. Analogies, nuances, puns, and all. I had a job to do, and I appreciate that you think I did it well.
Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 6:22 PM, Kim wrote (before she found this article):
Hi Lucki,
  I hope all is well with you, Mya, and #1 Son.
  Sorry I didn't reply sooner. This [June 1] email got buried in my inbox.  No more covid in Fiji - but much is still shut down for God knows why.
  Been reading and watching and reading so many items coming out of the George Floyd murder. Realized this morning that I haven't heard YOUR voice on this.... and I LOVE hearing your voice addressing difficult topics.
Big hugs,

Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 6:28 PM, Kim further wrote:
  Oops!  I expected to see an email telling me of a new post on Abiding Blog. Just found it. Yippee.

Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 6:34 PM, Kim further wrote:
Loved it.


Lucki responds to Kim's initial email (before noticing her follow-ups):
  Going good so far.
  No prob. I can certainly sympathize with that "email got buried" thing; can't count how many times I've had to say so, too.
  Maybe still shut down 'cuz people have a penchant for assuming that if things are reopening, everything must be OK & precautions are no longer needed when they go out. Sure is happening in the States.
  Read my latest Abiding Blog entry, "Unbroken". It's my first word, tho probably not my last. Look forward to your feedback.
  Big hugs back atcha; & stay healthy, safe, & serene.



Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 2:40 PM, Kim wrote:
  I did read "Unbroken" - and my first reaction was "I love it!"
  A few hours later, a bothersome question surfaced. If we were to immediately dismantle the current police in prep for a new, decent police - what is to stop all those legally-armed-to-the-teeth white guys from forming their modern version of a slave patrol?

      Lucki responds to Kim:
  Good question, Kim. See my response "Mending" immediately above this "Unbroken" one.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject


Y O U ?

"One common thing about great achievers is that,
they keep asking useful questions every day."  -- Israelmore Ayivor

I had a televisit with my primary care physician this past week. I prepped for it by jotting down six questions in ascending order of importance. After our hi-how-are-ya's, I told him what I'd done. He was surprised that I didn't start by addressing the most important issue first. I countered that, essentially, I wanted to get the low-hanging fruits out of the way, as they'd take the least time. Which was valid, but wasn't the real - or at least main - reason.

I'm not going to go into big detail about my questions. Or about his answers. I'm just going to summarize 'em. 'Cuz it's the final one that counts here.

Teddy bear in doctor's outfitQuestion 1: This is how I plan to avoid waves of COVID-19. Make sense?
Response:   Sounds like you're doing the right things. Keep it up.

Question 2: Been way sleepier than usual. Friends seem to have the same issue. Is it a response to everyone's being under some stress 24/7?
Response:   Could be. Stress can do that, and our situation is stressful. But fatigue can make you more susceptible; so sleeping more isn't a bad thing.

Question 3: Did you get a progress report on my leg-injury physical therapy, and weight gain from months of minimal activity?
Response:   It's not easy. Your progress is good. Do the best you can. Steadily increasing your PT and regular exercises again is going to help.

Question 4: Developed soreness from two of the PT exercises. What do you need me to answer or do so you can best diagnose it?
Response:   Do these self-tests for me now. ... Okay, I think it's just a strain, not the condition you feared. Do this for it over the next month.

Question 5: I'm having a coughing, even wheezing issue I believe is from accidentally aspirating some acid. What do you think?
Response:   Take care; you don't want to be more weakened if you ever do have to combat the virus. Use your inhaler, and an acid blocker if needed.

Question 6: Okay, final and most important question.
We were just about out of time. I could hear him taking a deep breath to prepare for whatever this final, most important question was going to be.
                    How are YOU doing? Physcially, mentally, emotionally?
Response:   Oh. Thank you for asking. I'm doing okay so far.
And it wasn't the typical "Fine" brush-off. 'Cuz he spent the next two or three minutes telling me what he was doing, how he was feeling, what was driving him a bit wonky, and that he had a support network. That's how I know he really did appreciate being asked. Knowing that someone cared. That they saw him not just as their doctor, but as a PERSON.

Technology is wonderful. You may get all your medical needs met via teleconferencing over the next however-many months. Or you may have a situation where you must be seen in person. Whichever the case, don't stop with the pro forma How-Are-Ya that we greet each other with. After s/he has addressed your need, before you leave, ask your doctor, your dentist, your nurse, your physical therapist, your etc., how s/he is doing. Make it plain that you really want to know. That in response to the care you've been given, you want to express how much you care, too.

It doesn't cost anything but a moment of your time. And given the stress we're all under, it might just make your healthcare-giver's whole day.

Khoda hafez,

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D O V E / L O V E

"My first love, I'll never forget, and it's such a big part of who I am, and in so many ways, we could never be together, but that doesn't mean that it's not forever. Because it is forever."  -- Rashida Jones

OK, this was totally unexpected. Unsolicited. And unignorable. I'm used to Tom Ligon the fellow Adding Insult curmudgeon. While I've also gotten an Abiding Blog or two note out of him, it's his jaundiced views that so often match my own. But in response to my article on a mourning dove (turned out there were two) wintering outside my window, I received of Tom a sweet and surprising true story about first love. Touched, I diffidently asked if I could post his story. I expected him to pin my ears back with a curt NO! Instead, he not only gave permission, but asked to submit an expanded version. Naturally, I agreed. So here's Tom at his tenderest (trust me, I didn't add, delete, or rewrite a word).

Mourning Doves have a special meaning for me.

There was this one girl in high school that I adored. I would walk her home every chance I got, and learned that we had a huge amount in common. All the while, I was afraid to tell her that I had fallen deeply in love with her, but we clearly had a great friendship.

I remember one day, out of the blue, she declared that the two most important things in her life were family and church. She had a boyfriend I did not know about then, and I suspect she'd just had this discussion with him and wanted me to know the ground rules as well. This declaration only solidified my high opinion of her, and deepened my love. I already knew a long list of things to love about her, including a total lack of vices, and a tremendous number of shared interests, including the outdoors. I also understood that she was destined to be a one-man woman. She would marry for life; and if it didn't work, it would not be her fault.

Where I was raised, we had pigeons but few doves. Near my high school, where things were less urban, there were more doves. I was unfamiliar with their calls. One day as I walked her home, I heard that mournful whoooo, whoooo, whoooo sound. I wondered aloud what that call was, and she said it was a dove. Now, every time I hear one, I think of her.

As the end of high school approached, I knew I had to tell her my true feelings if there was any chance of continuing the relationship as we left for separate colleges. I told her I loved her, and she turned to me with a pleading look in her eyes, and said the words I had been dreading she would say. "Can't we just be friends?"

I had no idea that the other guy, who had started dating her when she was just 14, had just proposed, and she had accepted. He was her soulmate, and she was hoping he would ask, and agree to her conditions. He had, and I'm the other guy who understands why he agreed to wait until she finished college. He waited over seven years for her in total.

I did understand as soon as she said those dreadful words that what I felt did not come with an off switch, and if I pretended to just be her friend I would be living a lie. I walked away, not because I no longer loved her, but because I could never stop. And one thought running through my mind in the ensuing days was that I wished she had a younger sister, instead of three brothers.

Years passed, before I found her younger sister, by other parents in another state.

This old girlfriend was instrumental in the happiness I have today. I could never win her heart; but because I had known and loved her, I knew I wanted someone exactly like her. Also, because I did not have her to come back to, I deliberately looked for a future elsewhere when I graduated. Virtually every decision I made in college or shortly after was affected by her. Those decisions led me to Northern Virginia, to meeting the Love of My Life, and to writing SF and working for Dr. Bussard. I actually made a list, comparing her to the wonderful young woman I had just met, and checked off all the matches. I have always suspected that an angel plotted to put that crying cat out in the hall so my future bride and I both opened our doors at the same time to see what the fuss was about.

A couple of years ago we reconnected, and dropped right back into the sorts of conversations we used to have when I walked her home. Our friendship was renewed instantly, sans romance. My wife has met her and likes her a lot, without jealousy. I admire her husband. He and I are very much alike, as if he were the older brother I never had. The four of us share a strong sense of family and spiritual values.

They have three children and seven "grands." She still has two priorities in her life, family and church. She grew up to be exactly who I thought she would be, a nurturer and a leader in her church and community.

I still love her, but without wanting her. One of the things I love most about her is that she's his faithful wife, the role she was meant to have. They've been happily married for 45 years. He likes to tell people his favorite guidance for a happy marriage, lines by Jimmy Stewart's character in the movie "Shenandoah."

Charlie Anderson:  Do you like her?

Lt. Sam:  Well, I just said I...

Charlie Anderson:  No, no. You just said you loved her. There's some difference between lovin' and likin'. When I married Jennie's mother, I didn't love her - I liked her... I liked her a lot. I liked Martha for at least three years after we were married and then one day it just dawned on me I loved her. I still do... still do. You see, Sam, when you love a woman without likin' her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.

I smiled, and gave my wife a hug! Exactly! I can't imagine anyone I'd rather be in lock-down with than the young lady I fell for because of a cat in the hall! The young lady I've been happily married to for 39 years, the whole time grateful to that young lady in high school who raised my standards and showed me what to look for.

Doves bring all that back!


What could I say except "WOW! Thank you." To which Tom responded:


If there is any doubt about why I still love her, [she] and I are exchanging ideas via e-mail and Facebook this morning, to try to come up with a design her sewing group can make in quantity. They're specifically trying for a design with a clear plastic window over the mouth, intended for the deaf and the people they interact with. People using American Sign Language include facial expressions in their communications, so the window helps get the message across.

[She] is one of those people who insists on helping any way she can; and being an old-fashioned girl, she is a master of the sewing arts, especially smocking.

She helped me thru making my first mask for personal use, and I'm about to make several more so my wife and can have one to wear, one to wash, and some to give to friends. My production rate is too slow to promise masks in quantity, but [she] and her friends could probably make hundreds or thousands.


Khoda hafez,

P.S. Finally got some pix. Enjoy!

2 mourning doves shelter on a snowy window sill 2 mourning doves at a small-bird feeder Angel cat stands up to see the doves Angel sees sparrows land on the sill, too
2 mourning doves shelter from a northern wind at a snowy southern window. The doves can't fit into
the small-bird feeder, but they can get some seeds.
Angel notes something's up, so she stands up to see. She's enthralled. With doves unconcerned, Angel sees some brave sparrows land, too.

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"Many of the things you don't count, really count."  -- inspired by Albert Einstein

Man showing fear of numbersTwo weeks to the census deadline. And for more than a year now, myriad observers have issued mild-to-dire warnings about the 2020 census likely including the worst ever undercounting of the most vulnerable, least served people in our country. Blacks. Hispanics. Native Americans. Seniors. Children. Shut-ins. Immigrants. Migrant workers. Undocumented residents. Dreamers. Those who are homeless. Undereducated. Illiterate. Impoverished. Non-tech savvy. Etc.

Yeah, it's nothing new. But it's exaggerated this year because The Powers That Be seem particularly arithmophobic about the way this country's demographics have been trending.

I just got my census paperwork; and as far as I can tell, the alarmists were totally right to be alarmed. There's nothing about the materials that convincingly invites people to participate. In fact, it seems carefully geared to scare away the very people who have always been the most undercounted. 'Cuz, ya know, to TPTB they really don't count for anything. So God forbid they actually get the equitable share of resources they should be getting as money and effort are allocated for everything from honest elections to political representation to social services to education to health care to employment opportunities to public transit to you-name-it over the next decade (and often beyond).

For starters, the envelope itself, in addition to the warning about being fined if you misuse this "OFFICIAL BUSINESS", screams in English and Spanish that


Talk about in-your-face. Right next to your own address there. That's gonna relieve your mind if you're already scared of or disenchanted with the government bureaucracy, isn't it? The promise on the back of the envelope to

Shape your future

starts to read more like maybe a personal threat, doesn't it?

Still, we all know the envelope is trash. Or better yet, recyclable. It's what's inside that (you should pardon the pun, but it's sorta unavoidable) counts. That nice letter. On the blue background. Which makes it harder to read. Especially for seniors (yes, even despite glasses for their presbyopia). Which tells you all the good stuff being part of the census will mean for you. Only, there's that black box smack dab in the middle. Pulling your attention away from everything else. Telling you that you have to go to the Internet. And handing you your very own personal government-issued 12-character ID. Nothing cringe-worthy about that, right?

Man dodging flying n umbersIf you haven't crumpled it up by now, there's more verbiage telling you how environmentally and fiscally conscientious the Census Bureau is. Also noting, at the end of a paragraph, that you'll get a paper form if you can't get to the Internet. Of course, if you haven't read that far, or if you simply don't remember well enough, you may assume the next envelope you get from the Census Bureau is a repeat. And toss it unopened. (Though I admit the follow-up envelope may make the matter plain. One can always hope.)

In the last long paragraph, after threatening you with the law again and also with sending someone to your door to "collect your answers in person", finally they give you a phone number of call if you're confused. Need help. Toll-free. How nice of them.

And credit where credit is due. A little, anyway. On the last 2 lines of this page-long letter, under the closing, they tell you in Spanish where to go on the Internet and a different number (presumably manned by Spanish-speakers) to call. Lines that you never might notice if you've been overwhelmed by the whole page of English you couldn't read.

On the back of the letter is a set of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS from their website. With lots of nice citations of legal documents, mandates, acronyms, and threats. Some of those last are against other people, not you, but the tone is sure there enough to shake you anyway.

The other sheet in the packet has a series of 2-line instructions in your language about (on one side) how to access the Internet fill-out form in your language, and (on the other side) how to call for help with the form in your language. Assuming your language is one of the 13 listed (hope you don't have triskaidekaphobia). If you don't know Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese, guess you really don't count. Of course, you might not look at both sides. You might just assume that, whichever side you saw first, the other side is simply a repetition in more languages.

But of course, you say, the physical count by all those workers they're hiring to find the uncounted, that'll fix everything, right? Um....  First of all, the Census Bureau is, I suspect, doing the best it can with what it's been given. But every decade, it seems to be expected to do more (only, not really; TPTB don't actually want more) with less resources. Especially good old fashioned money. Think all that budget-cutting is likely to make things better? Secondly, do you really think all those in-print "scare tactics" are going to make people rush to answer the door when a census taker comes by? If you answer "Yes" to either of those questions (and they don't even take into account the effects of all the COVID-19 scariness on potential census takers and responsders alike), what fantasy universe are you living in?

Here's hoping YOU get to count.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Please understand. I'm gonna get counted. So, probably, is most everyone reading this. But I CARE about the people who are so apt to get left out. To me, dammit, they COUNT!

P.P.S. By the way, speaking of counting, this is Abiding Blog's 150th article. No humongous biggie; just sayin'.

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"When you adopt a dog, you have a lot of very good days and one very bad day."  -- W. Bruce Cameron

Yesterday, my longtime friend Nancy (we even attended high school together, but only learned of that recently) offered her condolences to Neal on the loss of Buddy. And thinking of her, and what sparked her response, also sparked another poem in a similar vein.

Lucy relaxing on the pink carpet                    Lucy was a lady
                    from when she was a sprightly girl
                    to when she was a serene matron,
                    always less about demanding
                    and more about requesting.

                    She enjoyed her youthful walkies
                    no matter what the weather, but
                    always knew that home was sweet.

                    She expressed appreciation
                    for shelter, warmth, food,
                    her comforter, her toys,
                    and being given a treat
Lucy snuggled on the couch                    of carrot or grape to chomp.

                    When either of her feline
                    housemates bugged her,
                    she refrained from biting.

                    When she and her person
                    were alone, she liked to
                    jump (and later just to
                    clamber, or ask to be lifted)
                    onto the couch or bed so
                    she could be companionable,
                    close, head on lap, being scritched.

Lucy on the bed with Hansel cat                    When people visited
                    she always greeted them,
                    every single one by turn,
                    even when she got quite
                    old and achy and slow.

                    When visitors were sharing
                    prayer breakfasts or devotionals,
                    she remained quiet but attentive.
                    Once in a while, though,
                    she'd utter a rare bark of
                    encouragement or perhaps of
                    canine prayer to the spirits of
                    her ancestor wolves or to Sirius,
Lucy staying warm on the heat vent                    that bright hound of heaven.

                    Lucy weathered some serious ills
                    but, at times to everyone's surprise,
                    she rallied time and time again ...
                    until the very end, when there was
                    no more fight, no hidden strength,
                    just a last sigh in loving arms,
                    leaving hearts hurting but warmed
                    by her promise to wait
                    at the Rainbow Bridge.

                    Lucy — good dog! — was a lady.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 6:09 AM, Milton wrote:
   I loved the dog tributes. Got a bit misty eyed.
Thanks, kiddo!
Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 8:06 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
    How can I tell you how pleased and excited I was to see the article about Lucy. This is a great memorial about her life and how much all of us will miss her. She was so much a part of my life and everyone's who entered the house. The cats are even sad and grieving because they don't understand why she is not here. The first devotional we had after she passed away left a void in the room. In spirit she will always be with us. Lucy, I love you and can't wait to see you again at the rainbow bridge. Thank you, Lucki, for being such a good friend.
Nancy B
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  You're welcome. She was a sweetie, and the only dog I ever knew who ate grapes. She was quite unique.

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"I espied a bald eagle sitting in a treetop, probably watching the water for fish movement. It was
obviously used to hearing and seeing trains go through its territory. Even though it was mere yards away,
it didn't react to us at all. And I had my camera right there in my hand. So I did the smartest thing possible.
I did not lift my camera and scrabble to frame a shot. Which I probably would've missed anyway as we sped past. Instead, I kept my eyes on the eagle. For seconds. Until it was out of sight. "  -- Lucki in this blog, 2018

As the above quotation attests, I seldom, rarely, hardly ever find myself wishing I had a camera. Not even when it comes to a rare bird sighting. But every rule has an exception that proves (i.e., tests) it. Mine happened yesterday. I was at my desk. My camera was two rooms away. And I didn't dare move for fear of disturbing the scene playing out about four feet to my left.

(Let me digress for a moment. I saw a news photo earlier this week of two robins standing in a patch of snow. It seems Chicago's weather this winter has thoroughly confused many birds who should've migrated but didn't yet. No one knows whether they still will or not. But if they don't, life is probably going to be very hard for them over the next few months.)

In one of my office windows is a small-bird feeder. I make a fresh one late each fall, and keep it there until spring. I build it using repurposed clear plastic boxes (so I can see the birds even when they go inside it), roofed with a repurposed styrofoam tray, topped with a few sprigs of evergreen, and with a small-bird-sized opening cut into each side. Small birds usually come to it several times a day, in flocks of about four to a dozen at once. Some just stay on the sill, seeking out seed that has spilled from the feeder. Some perch on the edges of the openings to reach the seed inside. And some are brave enough to go all the way in, pecking away until someone hungrier comes in and pushes them out the other side.

Mourning dove on snowy evergreenImagine my surprise in late afternoon, though, when I espied a large mourning dove sitting amidst the greenery atop the feeder roof. (The picture to the left is not a shot of the dove at my feeder.) I wondered what it was doing there. During warm weather, mourning doves purely love the huge and fruitful mulberry tree in the playground yard next to my condo. They roost there, and chow down on mulberries so much that their droppings turn purple. Come fall, they usually start migrating when nighttime temps drop into the low forties. I've never before seen a mourning dove around our cul de sac in January. But with our wonky weather this winter, this dove obviously thought itself still safe. Or maybe it was injured and simply couldn't sustain miles of flight. I'll probably never know. So, simply surprised.

I wasn't the only one surprised. Just to see what might happen, I softly called Angel. She came to find out what I was calling her for. Seeing me watching out the window, she walked over, saw the dove perched atop the feeder, stood up on her hind legs and then, after several seconds, jumped up onto the broad windowsill. I thought the dove would see her and fly away. But it didn't. Either it didn't see her clearly, or it didn't care. It just kept on sitting there.

When Angel got a bit bored and jumped down to the floor again, the dove still didn't move. In a little while, though, its calm presence made a few sparrows feel secure enough to come to the feeder. That inspired the dove to come down off the feeder roof and start pecking away at spilled seed. Then it realized there was also seed in the feeder. It was too big to enter the feeder, or even perch on the edge of the openings. But it did discover it could put its head and neck in and reach some of the seed inside. Which it did with a vengeance. Although the sparrows could cluster around it and even enter the feeder from the other side, they never did dislodge the dove.

The increased activity, though, caught Angel's attention again, and she came back to investigate. Once again she stretched up and eventually jumped up to the sill. At first, the sparrows apparently didn't see Angel because the dove was in the way. But when she turned around on the sill, they suddenly realized a cat was within reach. They all flew away. That triggered the dove's fright/flight instinct, and she too flew away a short distance to our gatepost.

It beling time for me to leave the office anyway, and all the birds already scared away, I went over and put out an extra scoop of seed. To give the dove some extra calories if it needed them. And/or to reimburse the small birds for their seed the dove purloined. Then I left, so I don't know who (if any of them) came back before dusk.

I have to admit that, despite my being able to paint that picture for you in words, I really do wish I'd gotten a photo or two of Angel-and-Dove to show you. But you'll just have to let your imagination develop one for you.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Please join me in wishing our fine feathered friend a survivable winter here, or a safe migration if it still can.

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"Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty."  -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

This past fall, in Adding Insult, I ranted about squishy, inaccurate numbers in advertising. But what's even worse is squishy, inaccurate numbers when looking at the product itself. Any product. Case in point:

I like soup. I like to make some soups, like my quick and easy cabbage pumpkin soup. But I always have some cans of soup on hand for when I'm really jonesing for some soup but don't have time to make any. And I have to depend on the labels to give me info on how said soup is fitting into my daily intake of things like salt and calories.

In that pursuit, I've long noticed that the numbers on soup cans never seem to quite add up. Take a soup I enjoy as a rare treat ... rare 'cuz it's higher in saturated fat, salt, and added sugar than I wish to indulge in much:
Soup, old label - full

I call your attention to three numbers on this label. The first, to the lower left, is the total weight in grams: 524g. The second, to the upper right -- in other words, on the back side of the can -- is the weight per serving in grams: 243g. Finally, also on the upper right, is the number of servings in the can: about 2.

Soup label - weightSoup, old label - nutrituionDo you see the problem? It doesn't take much brain power to figure out that 243 times 2 does NOT equal 524. It only equals 486. So the "about" actually hides an extra 38 grams of soup. Including extra calories, fat, salt, sugar.... Besides which, I don't expect anyone is gonna ladle that soup out so Person 1 gets exactly a cup, Person 2 gets exactly a cup, and Person 3 (or the fridge) gets what's left over. Two people are actually gonna get a little over a cup each. Or one person is gonna have a whole bowl all to themself. So if I'm monitoring my intake, as many people do some of the time and some people do all of the time, I've got a long slog ahead of me figuring out what my numbers really are.

The same is, of course, true for many (if not all) pre-packaged products. From applesauce to zuccotto. From potato chips to kettle corn. From hot dogs to spinach quiche. All up and down the food chain.

Didn't figure there was really much I could do about it, though. Not for a long while. Oh me of little faith. Because a chance did come. The fedgov, in deciding to update labeling standards, put out a call for consumers to give feedback on what kinds of labeling changes they'd like to see. And though I didn't expect much of it -- oh still me of little faith -- I decided to raise my concern.

"Don't just tell me what the figures are for some arbitrary serving size that manufacturers pull out of their, uh, hat. Tell me the figures for the whole container and let ME decide what I'll consider a serving." Or words to that effect. More "scientifically" stated. With documentation. Then I forgot about it. Until one day, I saw this:
Soup, old label - full

Soup, new label - nuitritionLook at that. Now I really know how to interpret the grams of food the can holds. How much fat, salt, sugar, etc. How many calories for real. The government asked. The consumer(s) spoke. I'm sure it wasn't just me. I didn't make it happen all by myself. But I was in tune with hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of others. We spoke. And the manufacturers had to listen.

Yeah, ya gotta pick your battles. But, as my friend David reminded me the other day (in re a medical emergency), sometimes you do have to bring a baseball bat. And just carrying it -- being seen with it, being seen as willing to use it if needed -- is enough.

It's all in the numbers.

Khoda hafez,

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"When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye,
but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude."  -- Bruce Cameron

To my neighbor and friend Neal, who made the hard decision.

Buddy Baxter Sterling - younger            HE was your best friend,
            Your pal, your confidant,
            Your nature-walking partner,
            Companion on the jaunt.

            HE was your housemate,
            Trailed you from room to room,
            A soft farewell when you went,
            A frabjous welcome home.

            HE happily bounced
            Around when you were glad.
            Comforted you and made you smile
            If ever you were sad.

            HE reminded you
            That life is rife with joy...
            That you were needed and loved...
            That anything's a toy.

            HE was friend to all
            Because he trusted you —
            Belief in human goodness
            His optimistic view.

            HE never prejudged
            (To him all folks were folks),
            Made puppy eyes at people,
            And asked for pets and strokes.

            HE was just so cute
            In winter coat and hood,                                                                  BUDDY BAXTER STERLING
            Accepting such odd stuff 'cuz
            You said it would be good

Buddy Baxter Sterling - older            HE loved your garden,
            Sniffed all the flowers for
            Private messages, and breathed
            On them to grow them more.

            HE was a trouper.
            This year too weak, alas,
            To skip about, he still lay
            On his towel in the grass.

            HE wanted to be
            With you, and so he slept
            In cool shade or gentle sun
            As "his" garden you kept.

            HE seemed to rally
            At the last, and you urged
            Him on. But the day came when
            It was too much. Ills surged.

            HE told you he was
            Tired and ready to go.
            You could have fought for more, but
            You did not tell him "No!"

            HE left tranquilly,
            Which proved that start to end —
            With his needs before your wants —
            YOU were Buddy's best friend.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Dec 30, 2019 at 12:33 PM, Neal wrote:
  On the words for my sweet Buddy Baxter Sterling: My deep apreciation to you, Lucki, for creating this personal written message. It touched  my heart.
  Thank you, Lucki
  Lucki responds to Neal:
  You're welcome, Neal. He deserved it. So did you. And I had a promise to keep.
Tue, Dec 31, 2019 at 10:30 PM, Mya wrote:
  May Buddy Rest In Peace. His cute little face will be missed.
Wed, Jan 1, 2020 at 1:39 PM, Rey wrote:
  Just wanted to send you a message, Neal, that it seems Buddy was a great companion and lived a happy life and his memories will forever be in your heart.... R.I.P. Buddy.
Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 5:19 PM, Janet wrote:
  Lucki, saw the obituary for your friend's dog. We've had 3 dogs of which 2 stayed for some years and the end was painful. Neal's love for Buddy was so caring, thoughtful and giving at the end. Thanks for the reminders to read.
Sun, Feb 2, 2020 at 1:39 PM, Nilufar wrote:
Dear Neal,
   Wishing you much peace, reassurance, and comfort that Buddy will be in your heart for eternity.
Sincere condolences,
Mon, Feb 3, 2020 at 9:47 AM, Lann wrote:
   I'm more A Boy And His Dog type, but if it's a big pit bull or a little powder puff, sometimes it takes guts to do what's right for them. Have to give guys credit that know that.
Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 10:02 AM, Helena wrote:
   I wasn't sure what to say, since I never met Buddy. But I saw the photo with his soulful eyes and thought of my darling cat Sherry, who passed away in 2014. I hope this is adequate.
Soulful Eyes
by Helena Marie Carnes-Jeffries
Pretty eyes.
Staring soulfully up at you.
Full of warmth.
Yes. Buddy was a good dog.
A roommate.
A perfect companion.
One who would walk with you down the street
during a cold winter night.
Now he is barking with the angels.
Living continually in your heart.
A warm happy place inside
alive with vivid memories.
Those soulful trusting eyes.
He trusted you till the end.
And you set him free
to be at peace with the angels.
To live on in memory and spirit.
Yes. Buddy was a good dog....
Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 2:12 PM, Nancy B wrote:
   I read the poem for you before my dog Lucy died; but when she passed away, it put my mind on your poem and I wanted to share with you about the joyful and sad times we share with our pets. I loved the relationship you had with your dog, Buddy, and how close you were and the things you did together. I share the loss of the pet like you, who were very close and caring to each other. Lucy was 15 when she died this month. She had asthma since when she was young, and other illnesses like cancer and even a virus that dogs hardly ever recover from; and several times I almost lost her. But she lived a long life; and the last time, as I was taking her to the vet, she died in my arms, so she wasn't alone.
Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 6:09 AM, Milton wrote:
   I loved the dog tributes. Got a bit misty eyed.
Thanks, kiddo!

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L I K E S ?

"I like things on your page but I can't find a button. Where is it?"  -- Bri

That's a good question, Bri. The answer is "There isn't one." Which then begs the question "So where did those couple o' hundred Likes come from?" And that takes some explaining.

Statistics from Nov 2019 Home PageWhen we started developing this site a decade ago - you'll note that this blog launched exactly nine years ago today - we had some decisions to make. One of them had to do with in-depth security. Which was more expensive than we could handle at the time. And which still is, when you're talking about a break-even business that tries to keep its prices (and costs) reasonable and stable.

One of the ways to reduce the chances of hacking was simply to forgo interactive features like shopping carts and comment capabilities and glitzy buttons and the like. And that's the route we chose. One we're sticking with.

Did we give something up in the process? Of course. But not as much as we feared. Especially as we're not profit-oriented anyway.

Now, we've been able to track certain stats all along. That's where the first figure comes from. We know we've had, as of last month, 817 individual Guests - including both blog-readers and buyers - visit us since inception. And by "visit", we mean they not only got to the site, which could've been by accident, they moved around in it ... at least once. That may not seem like a lot; but it is when we don't spend a dime on advertising or on purchasing or otherwise acquiring contact lists from third-party providers. (That's right. For example, if we include you in our monthly announcement emails, we either got your e-address directly from you, or someone you know gave it to us and asked us to reach out to you because they believe you'd really like something of ours.) We also know that over the past year, we've averaged a little over 610 individual Guests per month; the only month we dipped a tad below 600 was May.

The Likes, on the other hand, are based on how many of those Guests have contacted us directly, at least once, to specifically tell us that they liked something(s). And we think it's awesome that, despite the total lack of any on-page interactive feedback features, almost 1 in every 3 Guests has taken the time to, for example, stop and email us. (Some of those have been published onsite; but sadly, I've been woefully lax in posting even the meatiest ones. No one's fault but my own.) Guess we must be doing something right. Of course, we're also always willing to hear from you about how you think we can improve your experience. It's the connection that's important.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Bri, your question might've qualified you as a Like, except you've been one already since early last year. Thank you.

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"Thus have the showers of My bounty been poured down from the heaven of My loving-kindness,
as a token of My grace; that ye may be of the thankful...."
  -- Baha'u'llah

Here it is Thanksgiving Day again, and this year I want to share a list of some of the bounties that have poured down on me in my life. To keep it concise, I'm using a well-known non-hierarchical list mechanism. It doesn't cover even a fraction of all I have to be thankful for and to. And I'm not going to explain any of it. Some items will make no sense to you whatsoever. Than's OK. Enjoy the ones that resonate with you. Then try making up your own list. Remember to include whom as well as what you are thankful about...and then tell them so today!

Thanks for Alcoholics Anonymous, Baha'i Faith, Cats Discoveries Emotion, Family & Friends, God, Health Care, Intelligence, Just As I Am, Kaleidoscopes, Life, Music, Neighbors, Ocular Surprise, Pedometer, Quiet Moments, Remembering, Sobriety & Sanity & Serenity, Twigs of a Family Tree, Unconditional Love, Veracity, X-D, Yesterdays, ZZZs

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Those pics are snaps of President Obama watching deaf student Stephon Williams sign "I am proud of you," and then signing back "Thank you," before they shook hands.

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S P O I L A G E ?

"There are differences of opinion about what exactly is or isn't a spoiler."  -- Lauren Katz

No spoilers!Spoilers.

Some people purely hate spoilers. They become irate if someone tells them how a book or a ballgame, a film or a season finale turned out before they get to see for themselves. They throw up their arms in disgust and proclaim, "You ruined it! Now I don't even wanna look at it. Thanks a lot, dammit."

I'm not one of those people. If you are, if you don't want a spoiler from me, I won't force it on you. I'll even try to warn you. But I don't really get it. I certainly don't share your angst.

Maybe it's 'cuz my free time and disposable income are less than copious, so I'm more apt to spend my minutes and money on something that I have extra evidence is really gonna be worth it. Or maybe it's 'cuz I can enjoy the journey a whole lot more if I don't have to worry about where the destination is. Or maybe it's 'cuz knowing ahead of time allows me more bandwidth to pay attention to the process. To suss out how a writer is writing. To enjoy how an actor is interpreting. To grok what decisions a director is making. Etc.

For example, I remember once thoroughly enjoying a Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff SF story (even more than I usually do) 'cuz, as a fellow Bahá'í, I recognized from the gitgo how her understanding of Progressive Revelation was carrying the story's puzzle-quest forward.

I remember watching Kiefer Sutherland's movie-direction debut and appreciating how he resolved the directorial decisions that the limited budget of an indie film forced on him. I was impressed by the thought process that led, when he'd done as many takes as he could afford and none of them were "perfect", to his obviously using the take that had the strongest feel even when it had a noticeable technical glitch.

And I remember the moment of sheer joy in watching Morgan Freeman - portraying a character who was a white Irishman in Stephen King's "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" – answer the question about why he was named Red by staring into the distance and saying "Maybe it's because I'm Irish." Delivered by role candidate Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, or Paul Newman, it wouldn't have ever happened or, if it had, been half as meaningful to an audience that by then had at least an inkling of why Freeman got the role and what he and his director were doing with it.

[ASIDE] That bit of casting, by the way, was a stunning example of role-seeking (or at least -accepting) like that espoused by #Wentworth Miller when he said, "I want to aspire to something like what Denzel Washington does, which is try to find scripts written for white actors - or Jodie Foster, who reads scripts for male actors." Once again, one can enjoy such well handled beyond-type portrayals even more when one isn't using up all one's mental bandwidth trying to figure out where the blazes the script is going. [/ASIDE]

And it's not like I stand alone in this preference. Reporting in Psychology Today about a study of whether people enjoy a "spoiled" story less, more, or the same, psychologist Adoree Durayappah-Harrison wrote: "...'a spoiled' story (where we know the ending beforehand) is more engaging than stories that leave us hanging. Spoiled stories are easier to follow and understand than stories where the ending is unknown. In their study, [Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt] describe how 'suspense regarding the outcome may not be critical, and could even impair pleasure by distracting attention from relevant details and aesthetic attributes'...So this means that a spoiler is not really a spoiler at all. It takes a complex story and simplifies it, allowing you to process it easier. The ability to process it easier allows you to be more engaged in the story and understand it to a deeper level."

Yep, that's me. So I repeat: My pennies are precious, my minutes even more so. If you want to really interest me in a book or a film or a TV program or a stage play, tell me in detail the things that surprised you. Informed you. Gave you pause to think. Satisfied you at the end. I'm more likely to decide I want to go on the journey you went on if I know more about where you ended up than just where you started. So I can really, fully, undistractedly enjoy the scenery (and my fellow passengers...and my memories of the mental 'photographs' you shared with me) along the way.

Khoda hafez,

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"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."  -- Abraham Lincoln

Today is Global Cat Day. Seems a perfect day for another foray into the psychic powers of cats ... sort of. Invisibility being the watchword here. I took part in most of what happened, but it's Number Two Son's story to tell. Which he also did in Twigs of a Family Tree. There's a lot more detail and side stories there; so if you haven't already, you may want to buy the book. But this is the catly part of his story ... apropos of the day. Enjoy! (Take it away, Mead.)

Data point 6: Invisibility

'Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortation to "Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests." was made especially poignant for me when I met my first-ever personal cat. It happened because I and my old friend and new roommate, David Bannister, moved into the apartment across the hall from Lucki in Chicago. If the world is truly divided into cat people and dog people, Lucki is definitely a cat person. She gets on well with dogs; but she really bonds with cats and takes joy in rescuing them when she can. Not that she's a "cat lady" with droves of felines underfoot; she firmly believes that no home should ever have more cats than its room count.

One weekend, in the middle of a blazing summer drought, our landlady—who was not a pet person of any stripe—came to Lucki with a problem. Two tenants in the building had surreptitiously moved everything out, abandoning their apartment...and abandoning their cat in it. Apparently, the cat initially survived only because the commode cover was broken, and it could get at the water. Some days later, a neighbor had seen it in the empty apartment. He tried to jimmy the window open to let it out, but could only raise the sash about two inches. So he started sliding little cans of Kal Kan in. The landlady told Lucki that when she learned about the move-out and the cat, she had gone into the apartment and tried to find it, but could not. She said she'd even taken in some pots and loudly banged them together to try and scare the cat out into the open. (Yeah, that was going to work. I told you she wasn't a pet person.) She gave Lucki the keys to the apartment and asked her to see what she could do.

Lucki called our Bahá'í friend Lori Hewett, who ran a part-time cat-rescue operation, and borrowed a live trap. She baited it with Kal Kan and waited for a couple of days, but when she went back to the apartment the food in the trap was untouched. The cat was too smart and too scared to be caught that way. So Lucki started going through the whole apartment looking for it. No luck. She later told me she asked herself, "Where could I hide in here if I were a terrified cat." An answer came: "Check the kitchen drawers." That seemed ridiculous on the face of it, but Lucki went with it.

Sure enough, the first utensil drawer she opened had a broken back wall, and a black-tuxedo cat curled up in it. For a second, anyway, until the cat frantically jumped out of the drawer and skittered off to a doorless closet. Lucki followed and saw the cat back into the darkest corner, tuck its white paws under itself, and lower its head until its white nose was also covered. That's when Lucki realized this cat was more than abandoned, it must've also been abused. Why else learn how to disappear like that? We later confirmed this guess when we discovered that, even after the cat seemed completely rehabilitated and at ease with people, it still ran and hid every time one of us walked through the apartment wearing hard-heeled shoes or boots instead of our usual slippers. Poor thing must have been kicked a lot.

Lucki sat on the closet floor and quietly talked to the cat until it relaxed enough to lift its head and let its white nose show. She talked some more and gradually started touching, and then stroking, the cat. Finally, she was able to lift it up, gently put it in the live trap, and carry it home.

There was only one problem. Lucki already had a cat for every room; keeping this rescue would cause overcrowding, which is a whole lot of no-fun and unhealthy for everybody. Ah, but there were me and my roommate just across the hall, and totally catless. She came over with the cat and asked if I'd be willing to adopt it. Would I? This beautiful and needy long-haired tuxedo? Absolutely. So Lucki set the live trap in my living room, latched its door open to let the cat come out when it was ready, and left.

Later that day, after David and I had been in and out of the apartment a few times, we realized the cat had left the trap. Good. We looked all around to see where it had gone, but couldn't find it anywhere. Not good. David went to get Lucki while I went to check with the other four neighbors in our stairwell to see if the cat had gotten out of our apartment and run up the stairs to someone else's.

While I went and talked with the neighbors, Lucki and David continued the search in the apartment. Again Lucki asked herself, "Where could I hide in here if I were a terrified cat." Again an answer: "See that space between the refrigerator and the wall?" It seemed too narrow for the cat to have gotten back there, but Lucki remembered how light it had been to carry; obviously the long hair was hiding an emaciated body. So she asked David with his longer arms to reach under the refrigerator from the back. He said, "No way; couldn't fit," reached in, then added, "Well, either we have the world's biggest dust bunny or it's there alright."

Cloak of InvisibilityThey called me back into the apartment so that I, as the cat's new person, could deal with it. And Lucki later told me she was very proud of how I did so. Rather than try to grab it and drag it out, my cat with that cloak of invisibility, I took the kick panel off the front of the refrigerator so I and the cat could see each other, then did what Lucki had done: I sat on the floor and talked to it and stroked it. It eventually came out on its own, started to settle in, accepted me as its new and improved person and David as a tolerable backup, and soon learned to rule the roost. It especially liked to sit atop my curio cabinet, preen itself, and loftily survey its domain.

Kalita the FAPOnce we determined the cat's gender, we started calling her Kalita The FAP: Kalita after the little cans of Kal Kan that had kept her alive, FAP meaning Feline American Princess. David began to feel deprived, and a while later adopted a short-haired male, Tombaugh, with the same tuxedo markings as Kalita had. Tombaugh was always bottom roomie on the totem pole, though. Kalita made sure we all understood the hierarchy in our household: Kalita, Mead, David, Tombaugh. And we were all fine with that.

Thank you, Mead. Well and lovingly told. I'm especially glad that, living with you, your "invisicat" learned to trust people again and shuck her cloak of invisibility. Good work!

Khoda hafez,

Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 3:45 PM, Kim wrote:
  I love it.
  What happened with Kalita when Mead moved?


Lucki responds to Kim:
  You're always there for Cats, Reading About aren't you? Lemme see now, to the best of my memory:
  As long as Mead was moving around Chicagoland, he always kept Kalita with him. When he decided to move to Canada, though, he had a difficult decision to make. Of course he wanted to keep her. Unfortunately - even though Chicago was then a nationally-recognized rabies-free zone (no reported cases in over 20 years) - at border-crossing she would've had to stay in quarantine in Canada for six months! Shots or no shots.
  Naturally, Mead was not at all happy with the idea of Kali sequestered in a cage somewhere strange for half a year. Can you imagine the abandonment issues that might've triggered? For both of them? I was still at maximum cat count for the size of my place. So he consulted with another trusted friend, and she agreed to adopt Kali for a trial period while Mead was still in the States. They mutually agreed that permanent placement with her would depend on how well Kali adjusted to having a new person (again) in a new place (again). Otherwise it'd be back to the clawing board for Mead.
  Kali adjusted just fine. She enjoyed being with Mead when possible, but she still thrived with her new person. Person and pussycat ended up in Arizona. And to the day she died, Kalita was as happy as a cat in ... well, a giant sandbox. I mean, really, Arizona! How could a desert-evolved beauty possibly go wrong there?



Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 7:20 PM, Kim wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  Delighted to hear Kalita's happy story.

      Lucki responds to Kim:
  As was I. She deserved all the succor that came her way.

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H A F - 2

"Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià (A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one's feet.)" -- Lao Tzu
"Most people master the art of postponing the start."  -- Mokokoma Mokhonoana

I should have written this a week ago, but I was up to my ears in work surrounding the annual meeting of an association that I'm the board secretary of. So it had to wait 'til today.

A week ago yesterday, I did something unexpected. That happens sometimes. 'Cuz, ya know, sometimes there's something you have to do, sometimes there's something you want to do, sometimes there's something you manage to do, and sometimes there's something you just do. Well, what I did last Tuesday wasn't something i had to do. It wasn't something I planned to do. It wasn't something I started off trying to do. But I did it. My thousand-mile journey started with a single step and I did it. And I surprised myself.

Okay, it wasn't really a thousand-mile journey. It was much shorter than that. But as that old Chinese proverb from the Tao Te Ching literally puts it, my journey of a thousand li* started beneath my feet. Yep, with a single step.

And then another.

And then another.

And then....

[SIDETRIP] A little over two years ago, I told you about a special milestone I reached. My half-marathon day. Go (re)read about it; I'll wait.

That was fun, wasn't it?[/SIDETRIP]

So, to continue: I started out last Tuesday morning doing some things seemingly unrelated to walking a half-marathon. But they did keep me on my feet, more than not, for some five hours. In the afternoon, I did necessarily sedentary stuff at home. Come evening, I cooked and ate, watched the tube some, and revved up the dance music the rest of the time 'cuz I felt like it. Sometime well after dark, I realized how far I'd come ... and pushed for just a little more. And by midnight ('cuz, hey, just a little more), when the pedometer saves the count, I'd racked up a new daily step total.

More than a half-marathon.

By miles.

My combined walking and dancing totals for the day were an unprecedented 60,066 steps! More than 17 miles. (Got pictorial proof. See below.)

What further caught my attention is that if I put together my 8/22/17 day of 46,394 steps and my 9/10/19 day of 60,066 steps, they totaled 106,460 steps. The equivalent of 30-plus miles. In other words, in just those two days (admittedly not consecutive, or even anywhere close together), I exceeded my current weekly goal of of at least 30 miles (normally comprising five minimum-of-4-mile days plus two minimum-of-5-mile days).

That was fun, too.

Khoda hafez,
*Nowadays, 1,000 li (or "Chinese miles") actually equals 500 kilometers or a bit over 310.5 miles.

2019-09-10 pedometer count 60066
Sorry for the lousy pic. As I started to write this late last night, I realized the midnight flip was
about to wipe out my oldest count from seven days earlier. I laid the pedometer on the scanner by
my monitor and ran a quick preview; but before I could then do the actual scan, the counter flipped and
I lost that humongous figure. My only recourse was to screen-capture the preview and cut/paste the result.

Wed, Oct 16,, 2019 at 8:42 PM, Kim wrote:
  I couldn't get that one in screen-friendly mode.  Yeah.  The mind boggles at such prodigious mileage.   Congratulations!
  Been awfully busy, but I do still loves ya.


Lucki responds to Kim:
  I wonder what didn't work on your end, that it wasn't as screen-friendly as you're used to. Is it possible you used a different browser or had changed any of your settings or anything? Thanks for letting me know, though. If any other visitors have the same complaint, it'll be the time for TechieGuru to the fore to investigate the prob. Please keep me informed on how future entries work for you, screen-wise.
  I'm glad you enjoyed the mind-boggling mileage of it all. That's how I felt, too. Just wish I'd been quick enough (and mindful enough in the first place) to get a decent pedometer pic. Thought of you as I was writing it, and wondered how your gradually-increasing walking stints are going?
  And I know ya still loves us. Glad you've been keepin' busy, though, as isn't that what keeps you young?



Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 7:20 PM, Kim wrote:
  I only try to go screen-friendly on my phone.  No need on laptop.  The issue is that "screen-friendly" would always go to the most recent post.  The others were links below.  The link went to standard.  A screen-friendly request always takes you back to the most recent post.  Earlier posts are links below.  The link takes you back to standard.  A screen-friendly request ...  ha ha.  I persisted for awhile.
  I never did push myself on walking - but my health is being rejuvenized through Wim Hof method - breathing and cold exposure.  Been at it for 5 days and have no plan to quit until I'm dead.  It's great for me - like a total miracle cure for everything all at once.  Amazing.  No doubt I will be walking a lot more, but it will be a by-product, probably not a goal.
  (Thanks for asking!)
  Oh me of so many obsessions.
Big hugs,

      Lucki responds to Kim:
   Wow, I'm glad you found something that's working so well for you. The Wim Hof 3 Pillars: Cold therapy, breathing, & commitment. That last is, of course, the key to successful anything, isn't it?  Good going.

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"I write from real life. I am an unrepentant eavesdropper and a collector of stories.
I record bits of overheard dialogue."  -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It's amazing what you can overhear when you're, like, standing outside the pharmacy waiting for someone.

Drug Store Dog
Some woman was standing there talking to the dog that was leashed to a pole. Turned out it wasn't her dog. As soon as this one particular much-younger guy walked out the door, I could tell he was the dog's person. The dog was so excited. The two apparent strangers chatted about the dog for a moment. Generic convo between dog lovers. Then the lady said something unexpected. Gently. Not accusatory. But still. Made me wonder if she'd been talking to the dog all that time just to protect it.

Empty lease around a poleHER: I'm surprised you left him so long. Folks always looking to snatch pets for fighting dogs.
HIM:  In this neighborhood?

It was a good question. She had a good answer.

HER: They want animals that are well cared for and won't bring diseases into their kennels.
         But not so expensive that owners report the theft and make the cops get involved.
HIM:  Well, my dog would never act like that. Good dog. He wouldn't fight."

I like dogs; but I'm a cat person. I've only ever had a dog around as a pet twice in my life. Nonetheless, even I caught what the guy was missing. Talk about oblivious to the obvious.

HER: Oh, not to train AS a fighting dog. To train their own dogs on. To attack. To kill.

I don't know if the guy got it even still. He just winced, unhooked his dog, and left. But at least the lady tried. And it reminded me of one of the reasons I don't let my cats be indoor/outdoor cats, either.

Not to just leave you with a downer, though, I had a couple of doggy experiences as a kid (Mom made sure to tell me about them once in a while so I'd remember) that I hope will help counterbalance the cosmic scales.

German Sheppard guide dog sitting downMusic Man Dog
One had to do with a blind street performer who plied his trade in the central shopping area of the town I grew up in. He had a German Sheppard guide dog. (That was the primary guide-dog breed after the World Wars. Nowadays, two breeds are more often used: Labrador and Golden Retrievers ... and their blend, the Goldador.) Whenever the guy played his instrument, the dog would sit down still beside him.

One day when I was a toddler, my nurturant mom took me shopping. I saw the dog, ran over to it, and sat down between its front legs, my back leaning against its chest, its muzzle resting atop my head. My mom was afraid to approach, 'cuz apparently the dog bared its teeth at her, though it didn't growl. (If it had growled, I suspect the musician would've noticed something was up right away.)

When the performer finished playing his song, my mother called out to him that her daughter was sitting in the dog's paws. The man reached down, felt what was happening, laughed, and said, "You don't need to be afraid for her. He loves children."

"Well, he snarled at me, sort of. I didn't want to get close. Can you move him?" The man replied that the dog had probably been trying to protect me, just like it would him. Still, he had no problem getting the dog to stand up and "let me go". As they moved away, my mom called me. I "ran" (toddled) to her, happily babbling about "doggie".

Slippin' 'n' Slidin' Dog
Careful dog on snowThe other experience had to do with a dog I met as a preschooler while walking with my folks to my Gramma's house. We had to go up and over the little hill we lived on, then downslope to her house. (That's what you get, living in a town in the New England foothills.) It was a very cold day. We were all bundled up in puffy snowtogs and boots. And the sidewalks were snow-covered and very slippery.

As we approached the downslope, I noticed a dog in front of us. I unexpectedly yanked loose of my mom's hand and ran after the dog to hug it (which is what I normally did with dogs I knew). The dog got scared and tried to run away down the slope. It was having trouble, though. Crouching. Legs splayed. Using its claws as pitons. Trying to go slow enough not to fall.

I wasn't so inhibited. I just ran. I slipped, fell, and slid down out of my parents' sight. I heard them exclaim in fear. But when they got over the hump enough to see me, they stopped running and started laughing.


Because, protected in my puffy togs, I'd slid on my rump, unharmed, to the bottom of the slope. Fast. Passing out the precariously progressing pooch. Which, when it got to the bottom, there I was waiting to stop its slide and hug it. It didn't try to get away any more. It just stood there with this put-upon look on its face. Like "[Sigh] Blew that getaway, doggone it!"

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Remind me to tell you a couple more dog stories from my oh-so-much-younger days next time.

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"Be willing to step outside your comfort zone once in a while; take the risks in life that seem worth taking.
The ride might not be as predictable [as] if you'd just planted your feet and stayed put,
but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting." -- Edward Whitacre, Jr.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Sure, give me an adventure and I'll ride it." -- Melissa Auf der Maur

While Number One Son Rey was still in his single digits, he'd ridden (with me or alone) on more things than you might shake a stick at. Most of them before he even started school.

Rey rides a camel in IsraelOn park and carnival rides of various ilks, as well as parade floats.

On snow sleds and in a little red wagon.

On the saddle of his small bike and in the big back cargo basket of my trike.

In cars (not me driving) and buses (still not me driving).

On the el (which he actually got to "drive" for about 30 seconds one kindergarten day) and full-gauge trains.

In the express elevator of the world's tallest building then and the ride into the coal mine at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry).

On planes (definitely not me driving) and boats (row and motor with me driving, river/lake cruises and even the Maid of the Mist with me not).

On a pony (led by the owner), a horse (as an infant in my arms), an elephant (me watching), and a camel in Israel (no, wait, he was well into his double digits by the camel).

So for one of his early birthdays, I asked him if there was some other kind of vehicle he'd like me to take him for a ride on. I was thinking, you know, like a helicopter or a balloon. But he had something else in mind.

"Yes, Mommy, Take me to ride on a spaceship."
"A spaceship? Like the one at the carnival?"
"No, Mommy, a real one. Like Star Trek."

He meant Star Trek: The Original Series. It had run its final original ep in June of 1969, but was already garnering substantial ratings in syndication. We both enjoyed watching it multiple times over the years.

"Um, ReyBey, Star Trek is just a pretend show. There are no real spaceships like that."
"Yes there are. I remember you woke me up to watch a spaceship land on the moon. And then later I woke up to see people get off."

He was right. Fifty years ago today, I did wake him up to watch the Eagle land. And again 6 hours later when Neal Armstrong stepped on the moon, followed 19 minutes later when Buzz Aldrin came out with the flag to plant.

Rey was a kid. Scale wasn't all that important to him yet. Everything seemed big. The moon and the Neutral Zone were equally distant. If the Eagle really existed, then so did the Enterprise. The wonders of childhood.

I felt bad that I couldn't fulfill his wish. My son, though, has definitely always been a show-me person. And I did show him the difference between real Eagle and pretend Enterprise. My late friend Bennie and I took him to the Museum of Science & Industry. And we saw Aurora 7. It wasn't protected then like it is now. It sat there, next to a sort-of stile people could climb to look through the hatch into the capsule, with just a little sign asking everyone not to touch this national treasure.

Made sense: With who knows how many million people pawing at something that historic, over who knows how many millennia it might stand there, it's gonna be damaged. So Bennie and I didn't even think about touching it. But then Rey, too young to read the sign, asked if he could, Mommy, please.

Touching a spaceshipBennie and I consulted a bit. The sign said....  But Rey had politely asked first....  Yes, but it's a national treasure....  But when will he ever have another chance to touch a real, it-flew-in-spaceship.... 

I admit it. I'm one of those people who eventually forced MSI to be more protective of its spacecraft. I told Rey he could gently touch it...just for a second...with the very tip of his index finger. And that's what he did.

Happy Lunaversary!

Khoda hafez,

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I N T E R / I N T R A

"Inter- is a prefix that means between two [or more] groups, and 
intra- is a prefix that means within or inside one group." --

I don't blog about everyhing that makes me go "Huh." Not enough time and energy in the world. (Come to think of it, though, would having to stay alive long enough to write everything I want to, would that be the path to immortality? Nah, I wish.)

But when something comes at me from more than one direction, I wonder if maybe it's more than mere coincidence. Maybe it's a previously unnoticed trend. My brain starts cooking overtime. I start wracking my memory for related incidents. I can't get rid of the "Huh." So best to just go ahead and get it over with. Write about it.

It started with something I saw in a boob tube documentary (but for the life of me, I can't remember which one). The narrator was talking about similarities/differences in religions, and he used the term "Catholic and Christian funerals". My brain went, "What?!" And started planning an Adding Insult rant. Only that didn't really seem the right place for it. So I let it slide.

See, the narrator (or whoever wrote the script) wasn't talking about something like apples and oranges. He was talking about, like, oranges and citrus fruit. It was a false differentiation. True, not all citrus fruits are oranges. But all oranges are citrus fruit. Likewise, not all Christians are Catholic. But all Catholics are Christian.

There are various denominations of Catholics, the most commonly known in this country being Roman and Orthodox. Just like there are denominations of Protestants, the most common in the U.S. being Baptist and Lutheran.

What makes all of them Christian? The fact that, despite doctrinal differences, they all base their beliefs on the mission and message of Jesus Christ, as revealed in His own reported words and in words written about Him in the New Testament. Different denominations may emphasize the discipleship of Peter, the conversion of Paul, the motherhood of Mary, the miracles, the parables and sermons, the social gospel, etc. But they all follow the revelation of Christ as they understand it. Hence the name Christian ... follower of Christ.

(There are, of course, other religions, other faiths, than Christianity. And many of those faiths also have denominations. But each of those faiths also follows the revelation of a given Teacher. So despite any differences in interpretation and practice, all followers of Buddha are Buddhist, all followers of Krishna are Hindu, all followers of Muhammad are Muslim, etc.)

Anyway, as I said, though I thought about what the narrator said, I didn't write about it. But then I had a chat with with my pal Hal. (Okay, his name is really Harold; he never uses Hal that I know of.) And he related the story of a mutual friend of ours who'd invited neighbors to an interfaith gathering. A number of neighbors came, thanking him for providing such a forum. As host, our friend provided attendees with readings from many faiths, many scriptures: like Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim.  And that's when most of his Christian neighbors in attendance got on his case.


'Cuz they'd expected a gathering solely of members of different denominations of Christianity. That's what they meant by interfaith. They apparently didn't want to include anything or anyone that was not Christian. This event of his, they contended, wasn't an interfaith gathering. He wasn't delivering what he promised.

Interfaith prayer gatheringReally?

Coulda fooled me. Look back up at those definitions from A gathering of different denominations within Christianity is not an interfaith event. It's an intrafaith event ... an event open only to followers of a single revelation, a single religion, a single Voice of God. In order to have an interfaith gathering, you must welcome people of more than one faith, one religion. In fact, to be truly interfaith, you need to welcome members, and their scriptures, of all religions into that sacred space. Which is exactly what our friend had done.

Interfaith is Christian only? Protestants and Catholics aren't even all Christians? Please.

I mean come on, does the marriage of a German and a Swede sound like an interracial marriage? Would you say you're posting photos of two different types of animals: bloodhounds and dogs? Did you go to the bookshop to get a book, but decided to buy a paperback instead? Let's don't mix up inter- and intra-. Or insist that the part doesn't belong in the whole. Remember one of my favorite quotes, from Babylon Five: "...if you cannot say what you mean, you can never mean what you say. The details are everything."

Khoda hafez,

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"Lily Ayman once heard from an Iranian visitor that the revolutionaries in Iran
demand that she be executed seven times." -- Immigrant Connect Chicago

I've had to say goodbye to some long-time friends lately. Too many. They live on in memory, though. Their souls still vibrant. Their stories still bringing nostalgia. And joy.

Lily Ahy Ayman is one of those. She would've turned 90 this May, but she died last September. It wasn't unexpected, but it was still a hard blow. She was one of our readers for years. She Liked us and often made comments. I miss her. And to help her soul-story survive and thrive, let me share two vignettes: the first excerpted from Twigs of a Family Tree, the second a prevously unpublished memoire.

    One example of the positive side of "what goes around comes around" that I fondly remember isn't even really about me at all. It's mostly about Gareth Newfield, another good friend. A fellow science fiction aficionado. And an atheist who nevertheless shows nothing but respect for my beliefs. He visited the Chicago Bahá'í Center with me one day, and we found then Spiritual Assembly secretary Lily Ayman in a pickle. She'd accidentally locked a mostly-empty file cabinet for which she couldn't find the key. Gareth immediately offered to help. He asked if we could all work together to lay the cabinet on its back. We wrestled it into position, and he was able to disengage the locking bar from underneath. Lily was profuse in her thanks. Gareth treated it as no big deal.
Lily Ahy Ayman 1929 - 2018    Time passed. Lily moved away from Chicago. One year, after finishing a major long-term consultancy, Gareth decided to take a year off and hostel his way around the world. He left Chicago heading west. Visited friends from here to California. Stopped off at his birthplace in Hawaii. Then crossed the rest of the Pacific and started hiking across Asia.
    When he reached Korea, he saw a postcard that reminded him of an in-joke we often shared: the Breakage Control Department that ensures the Post Office meets its quota of damaged mail/‌packages. He bought it, took it back to his hostel, and sat down to address it and pen a message. Only to discover he didn't have my address with him. So he sequestered the card in his backpack, intending to carry it back to me at the end of his journey.
    He continued hostelling southwest. Eventually ended up in Thailand. Remembered my telling him Lily had moved to Krung Thep (Bangkok). When he reached the city, he asked if there was a Bahá'í Center. There was. He called it to be put in contact with Lily. But they wouldn't give him her private info. So he offered to wait at the public phone so they could ask her to call him there. He waited. They reached Lily. She immediately recognized his name. About five minutes later, she called him and they met up for tea.
    At the end of their pleasant chat, he asked if she had my address so he could send the postcard he had been carrying since Korea. She said she hadn't taken her Chicago Bahá'í Directory with her to Thailand. However, she offered him her son-in-law Charles Nolley's address. She expected Charles and I would soon see each other at Feast or an Assembly meeting. So Gareth wrote me a "having a fantastic time touring a marvelous planet" message on the top half of the postcard. Wrote Charles a "please give this to Lucki; thank you" message on the bottom. Mailed it from Krung Thep. And, much to my happy surprise, Charles gave it to me the next time he saw me.
    You know, Bahá'ís aren't just about being of service to our own community. Or even to seekers interested in the Faith. We're clearly instructed to be of service to the world. And this was a classic instance of the unity of the worldwide Bahá'í community being of service to a person who not only wasn't a member of our Faith, he wasn't a member of any. It didn't matter. Service was gladly given on both sides. That's how the world ought always to work.

   Lori Hewett became Baha'i as an adult  Even before that, though, she  wasn't much of a drinker. She literally stuck to one drink a year, a celebratory martini on her birthday. That was it. So when Pat Shaeffer was teaching Lori, the use of alcohol never really came up, because Pat knew Lori didn't drink anyway. 
   Once Lori had declared, Pat took her to meet with the Assembly to enroll. Lori had decided that, as soon as she was enrolled, she would go out for her annual celebratory martini with Pat, because becoming Baha'i was even bigger to her than her birthday. 
   But after enrollment, when she mentioned that, the sad (to her) response she got was, "Oh, no, Baha'u'llah forbade drinking alcohol." Lori retorted, "Oh heck, why didn't you tell me that BEFORE I enrolled, so I could've had one last celebratory martini I had my heart set on, and THEN given them up?"
   Some while later, Lori told Lily Ayman this story. Lily smiled, reached over, patted her hand, and said, "Lori dear, you should have enjoyed that last martini. Baha'u'llah would've understood."

STILL miss you, Lily joon. Always will.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. Actually, all of the team members here knew Lily personally, as did my family. And we all feel the loss.

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F I F T Y !

"y-y-y-ESSS!"  -- The orange fist-pumping cat on the blue congratulatory card

I admit it: I was waiting for this. Patiently - but not all that patiently - waiting. Looking forward to it. Anticipating. Preparing for. Smiling about. And it finally came this month.

Actually, in a way, it came several times this month.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 dawned beautiful. I woke up earlier than planned. Good thing I did, though. 'Cuz I soon got an early phone call. My friend Brandy, making sure she was the first to wish me a happy 50th anniversary of sobriety.

She was the first, but not the last. Over the next few days, I got calls. Like from my sponsor and sponsees. And, of course, family. I got cards. Like from friends in AA and friends in the Baha'i community. I got emails from near and far. Near being like practically next door. Far being like a note from famed author Barry L. congratulating me, wishing me many more, and telling me "you are the sole 50 winner I know." I know what that means ... how it feels. For a while there, my late sponsor Gregory, she was the sole "50 winner" I personally knew. (My current sponsor doesn't have 50 years, but that's OK 'cuz he's got the program I want.)

Greetings for my 50th AA AnniversarySo, back to Saturday the 20th. I gave the lead at my home group's Spirituality Meeting that morning. To a full house. Even saw someone standing in the back and someone sitting on the floor. Inspired by the word "believe" in the 2nd Step, and the well known meme of the mustard seed, I started by quoting an Hadith from Islam: The Prophet said, "When the people of Paradise will enter Paradise and the people of Hell will go to Hell, Allah will order those who have had faith equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed to be taken out from Hell." And I asked: "How much faith can a tiny mustard seed have? What does a mustard seed believe in? And how can I apply that to my life?" And I shared a top-ten list, talking for two or three minutes on each item, and ending with a quote from Barry in Yesterday's Tomorrow about "Believing in Belief".

I also received a dozen roses from Brian, and a wonderful "Big Hug" card signed by, like, 50 people. During the comment portion, several members also mentioned how they appreciate my hugs. What they don't get is that I'm not giving good hugs, I'm getting good hugs.

After the meeting, my friend Pamela (who stayed in town just for the occasion) took me out to brunch. We were joined by some other folks from the meeting. Some ate with us; some just stopped by to chat.

Then in the evening, my friends Changiz and Marianne drove me and one of my sponsees to a huge dinner party of, like, 75 people that our Spiritual Assembly threw for my anniversary. Only it didn't know that's what it was doing. It thought it was providing dinner for the Chicago Baha'i community as part of our annual meeting and election. But I knew better. LOL

On Sunday, Marianne drove me and the same sponsee and her spouse to the semi-monthly Baha'i Prayer Breakfast on the South Side. Afterwards, she took us to visit Brandy for her birthday. Brandy hadn't been able to attend the Spirituality Meeting because she'd had surgery the day before it. But she was very happy to see us. In addition to the awesome "living loud" card I'd sent her, and the gift I was able to give her, I promised her that I'd send her the notes I used when I gave the lead the day before.

[ASIDE] This afternoon, in a capper to all things thing April-ish, Brandy called to tell me two things. One was that for the first time today, she wore one of the charms I gave her. The other was that she also received the page of notes I mailed to her. She'd expected me to email her a copy of the notes, not to send her the actual sheet I used at the meeting. She couldn't get over my doing that, but I said it was a way to make up for her not actually getting to be there, even though she'd also gotten to hear the lead by phone anyway. [/ASIDE]

Then on Wednesday evening, the 24th, I attended an open meeting and cake-coffee-&-coins party for all my home group members with an April anniversary. My Baha'i sponsor Owen was there, of course. My Baha'i sponsee Helena and her spouse Malvin. Also seven other visitors from the Chicago Baha'i community: Harold, Marianne, Milton, Northside Nancy, Far Southside Nancy, Nilufar, and Shadan. And my Number One Son Rey. (My #grandMya, unfortunately, had a softball game. But she helped win it by scoring two RBIs. That's the second game in a row where she had two RBIs. In the first one, she brought her team from behind to win, as she was the next-to-last at-bat of the final inning.) More cards, and some very thoughtful gifts. One of them was quite unusual: A different kind of coinage. A set of Liberty dollar coins. Celebrating my liberation from alcohol and drugs.
Lucki's 50th Anniversary Coin held by her son Rey
Owen presented my 50-year coin, commenting on how at first he wondered if it was the right coin because it only had a single character on it, until he remembered that L is the Roman numeral standing for 50. I added that it also stood for Lucki. Which made him laugh. Owen always introduces himself in meetings with, "I'm Owen, and God loved me so much He made me an alcoholic." As I thanked him for the coin, I ended by saying that he has the program I want and that "God loved me so much She made you an alcoholic." Which made him laugh even harder. Pamela later commented about that being such a special thing to say to a sponsor. Owen also gave me a card and a beautiful bouguet of various species and colors of flowers, with a sprig of tea roses as the centerpiece. (That threw me a bit when I got home and had to find a second vase of the right size. I'm not used to having multiple bouquets simultaneously.)

I can't, of course, share pictures of the Saturday meeting or the Wednesday party, as that could break people's anonymity. But I at least showed you a little of what I received. And in closing, let me say that my name is Lucki, I'm an alcoholic and an addict, 7123 at RPAC is my home group, I have a sponsor who knows where I'm at, my sobriety date is April 20, 1969, and I'll keep coming back.

Khoda hafez,

Sat, May 25, 2019 at 10:20 AM, Anthony wrote:
   Lucki, thank you for your newsfeed. I always read them, and enjoy your articles.
  Lucki responds to Anthony:
  Thank you. I try to keep them interesting, and it's always good to know when someone has fun with what I write and also appreciates the announcements.
Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 5:29 AM, Faye wrote:
   This is great, thank you!
  Lucki responds to Faye:
  Thank you. And you're welcome. It's always a kick to see new readers catching up on and enjoying old posts. Have fun with the rest of the blog(s).

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"Sarah Palin's understanding of the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty is probably not very
different from most Americans. So while it is not surprising that Sarah Palin got it wrong,
it should be noted that if asked, most of us would likely get it wrong too."  --  Sharon Kyle

Statue of Liberty magnetWhen my Number One Son Rey and my #grandMya travel, they often bring me something back. Usually, especially on a first trip to somewhere, I get a fridge magnet ... you know, like a poker chip from Las Vegas, a Mardi Gras mask from New Orleans, a coqui from Puerto Rico, etc. And, when they can find a fun one, also a T-shirt. Well, the latest contribution to my magnet collection is a 4.5" tall, three-fourths 3D, aged-silver colored Statue of Liberty magnet by Phantom of Broadway.

I treasure that magnet, have given it a prime spot in my collection display, because of who gave it to me. But if I'd, I dunno, found it on the street and taken it home to look at more closely, I'd've probably just thrown it in a drawer (or the recycle bin) and forgotten about it. Because of ... well, I'll get to that.

[ASIDE] This is actually my second Statue of Liberty gift from my progeny. My first was a 6.5" tall, fully 3D, aged-gold colored paperweight that Rey bought for me when some friends took him on a road trip to New York for his 5th birthday. It's had its notable place in my curio cabinet for lo, these many years. Interestingly, the molding work on the larger statue is way less precise, more poorly detailed, much muddier than that of the magnet. So the "because of" is just plain easier to see on the magnet. [/ASIDE]

For its size, I'm impressed with some of the detail the magnet manufacturer pulled off. The proportions are skewed. And the pedestal does have several major glitches, but I don't care 'cuz the pedestal was never actually part of the Statue given as a gift from France to the US. Rather, American financiers footed the bill for the pedestal ... apparently formed with some malice aforethought.

So, the cast of the Statue has more detail that I expected. Comparable to the actual Lady Liberty.

Statue of Liberty torch
The torch depicts its individual flames.
Statue of Liberty crown
The crown has its flutes and 7 points.
Statue of Liberty book
The date on the tablet cover is clear.
Statue of Liberty robe
The folds of the robe are clean.
Statue of Liberty feet (wrong)
The foot shows its individual toes.

Problem: One of those five pics (of the real Statue) is a lie. To make the Statue match the magnet, I had to edit out something important. Do you know what?

Statue of Liberty feet (correct)It's the "because of" that I mentioned before. The magnet clearly does not show what's at the Lady's feet. The magnet has missing links.

This is what the feet of the Statue of Liberty really look like. ->>>>>  At her feet lie broken fetters. I recently watched a documentary about the Statue of Liberty, and it claimed these represent the broken "chains of oppression" that the U.S. welcomes immigrants escaping the tyranny of. Utter balderdash. Maddening bushwah! BULL!!

Both the developer and the sculptor made clear what those chains were. (In fact, the original design also had broken manacles in Liberty's left hand.) They stated in no uncertain terms that these were the broken shackles of slavery. The whole reason for creating the Statue as a gift in the first place was as a tribute to the US's finally abolishing slavery.

Well, people in the US at the time (and since) were having none of that. While the people of France were able to pay for the Statue as a gift, it's completion depended on American financiers paying for the pedestal the Lady would stand on. It was the Americans whose demands forced the changing of the broken manacles honoring the 1865 signing of the 13th Amendment into a tablet honoring the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence. The broken fetters are still at her feet, though, but no one can see them. Not from an approaching boat. Not from the ground. Not from the pedestal. Not from inside the Statue. Not from the crown windows. And barely a bit, unrecognizable, from one of the torch webcams. You pretty much have to fly over, slowly like in a helicopter, with binocs or a telephoto lens, to really catch the missing links.

And for a century and a quarter, America succeeded in keeping the missing links missing. Until Dr. Joy Degruy, renowned educator, trainer, and author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Enduring Legacy of Injury & Healing, took a tour. And raised a knowledgeable fuss. Onsite. In public. And continuously thereafter. All over the place. In public. Until National Parks & Monuments finally had to pay heed, ask for her help, and start including the real story in their literature, displays, and tours.

I know this stuff 'cuz I know Joy. You can read more about it, though, in places like this 2014 article by publisher Sharon Kyle, at the bottom of which there's also posted a video interview with Joy from before the missing links were once again "found".

Like I said, I treasure my Lady Liberty magnet because of who gave it to me. But it's past time for Phantom of Broadway and other such souvenir producers to update their old missing-links models.

Khoda hafez,

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Y U P !

"Oh my God, at what point does a 'whoa' moment happen?" --  Paul Singer

Emailing with Kim last month reminded me of another entry I wanted to do on the whole injury/recovery thing. Sometimes baby steps are the best we can do. Doesn't mean we shouldn't do them.

I told you how I injured my achilles tendon, how much I recovered, what I kept doing, and what I didn't get back. (To refresh your memory, in addition to last month's entry, check here, here, and here.) But once I started, I kept up with the whole dancing/walking thing anyway. For, as I mentioned, cardio reasons. And kept setting new goals that - at about 110 steps a minutes -- kept taking more and more time, whether I did it all in one go or spread out over several hour-long or even half-hour sessions.

And last winter I was amazed to discover something. Accidentally. Or perhaps I should say serendipitously. For some reason, while I was dancing, I half-awarely tried that bit about rising up on my left foot, with the right one totally off the floor. Not that there'd be even a smidgeon of lift from that left achilles tendon. But ya know, good dance music motivates fancy moves.

And I was correct. I didn't get a smidgeon of lift. I got lift, period. All the way up on my left toes. And held it, disbelieving, for a good ten seconds.


WHOA!"WHOA!" said I. Out loud. I was flabbergasted. I hadn't expected any such result. But there it was.

I talked with Stacy, my physical therapist, about it later. And we arrived at this conclusion: We knew that a tendon doesn't have its own blood supply. It depends on some oxygen and nuitrients "leaking over" from the surrounding muscles' blood supply. But as I met, and raised, and surpassed my goals on a daily basis, the blood flow in the muscles naturally increased. Which allowed more and more oxygen and nutrients to osmose into the tendon. And gradually, smidgeon by smidgeon, it healed more and more.

I never noticed, though. 'Cuz I didn't routinely test that tendon anymore. I just accepted that it couldn't do the job. Until that day. When I tried again for no conscious reason. And it could. So, without fanfare, it did. It did its job.


Khoda hafez,

Tue, Apr 02, 2019 at 2:42 PM, Kim wrote:
Hey, Lucki
  1) Love the Whoa! moment - what a magnificent surprise!
  2) Of aphorisms and memes - i adored the parable about the street and the hole.
  3) Love your energy.  May you keep on keeping on.
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  1) Yes, wasn't it just, tho. Serendipity can be mind-blowing. That's a good reason to keep encouraging you on your daily walking: 'Cuz you never know what you might find that you totally weren't expecting. An unexpected health benefit. An unexpected vista, or flower, or meditation stone (to sit on or to hold). An unexpected facet of relationship with a neighbor.
  2) As do I. My 12-Step sponsee H.J. reminded me of it, which is why I quoted our convo & gave her credit in Twigs of a Family Tree. That's the kind of meme that can apply to any- and everyone, in and outside the rooms of recovery. It's not just a 12-Step lesson, it's a life lesson.
  3) From your mouth to God's -- and the Nine Muses' -- ears. LOL

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"Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth." --  Rebecca Solnit
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." -- Steven Wright

I hit a milestone yesterday. A major milestone. Nay, a humongous milestone. And I didn't even stub my toe.

In grade school. I learned that the United States is about 3,000 miles (that's about 4,825 kilometers) across. We settled for that approximation (by which I mean our teachers did) because the width changes depending on the parameters you use for start- and end-points and mode of travel.

US-Canada borderMore specific is the sometimes zig-zaggy border between Cananda and the contiguous US. It's actually 3,987 miles (6,416 K) long. The border between Canada and the continental US of A, however, is 5,525 miles (8,891 K).

Big difference.

That's 'cuz Canada's border with Alaska, the sole continental state that's not contiguous, is a whopping 1,538 miles (2,475 K). In other words, Alaska alone accounts for well over a quarter of our total border with Canada.

Now, some readers will remember that I was born in New England. And some have read about my trip to Vancouver Island. So they probably know that I've done enough straight-line east/west surface traveling in my lifetime to at least match that nearly-4,000 mile continent-wide border. If not also the more comprehensive, over-5,000 mile distance. Not everyone has had that kind of opportunity in their life - though, of course, many have - so I'm kinda proud of that. In a gentle sort of way.

(By the way, going to Israel didn't figure in, 'cuz I didn't go by surface transport. I flew. And no, my arms didn't get tired. After all, it's not like I had to pull up on the armrests to help keep the plane in the air.)

But I've also intentionally covered a lot of ground mostly just in Chicago over the course not of my whole adult lifetime but merely the last four years. On foot. Walking. Well, and dancing. You've read about it in my blogs. Like here. About my getting a pedometer. Starting a regimen on April 22, 2015. Setting a relatively easy goal. Surpassing it. Jacking it up. Surpassing it again. Etc. My current (and probably final) goal is 30 miles a week. Walking outside when I can. Dancing inside when I must.

Well, for me that 5,525 miles equals 19,448,000 steps. Plus 1 to surpass it. And yesterday, I started the day at 19,444,339 steps. And ended it with 19,459,596.

! ! ! ! !

Gonna keep going, of course. Minimum of five 4-mile and two 5-mile days a week. Don't know what I'll set as my next milestone. Or even if I will. 'Cuz this one pretty much snuck up on me until I noticed my grand totals towards the end of 2018, wondered how it compared to cross-country walking, and calculated/realized how close I was to that lo-o-ong border that includes everywhere the US touches Canada.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. A friend of mine, Nancy, was talking about her daily walking as physical therapy following a severe traffic accident. (She was driving in a funeral motorcade, and some totally oblivious driver at an intersection broadsided her on the driver's side.) She was saying how she didn't like the onset of winter 'cuz it interrupted her PT walking. So I told her about how I dance when I can't walk. Originally to the wonderful SonicTap Retro Disco channel, which really motivated me (only, when AT&T acquired DirecTV, they deep-sixed that contract as fast as they could). But now, out of stubborness, I dance to some far-inferior MusicChoice channels on DirecTV. Or to the radio. Or while watching a TV program. Or talking on the phone. Or whatever it takes to make my daily steps. And she exuded what a good idea that was ... and has been doing it ever since. I'm so glad I had that tool/method to share with her when she needed it. And I'm proud of her.

Tue, Mar 05, 2019 at 1:28 PM, Kim wrote:
  I checked out Abiding Blog, my favorite of your sections. Had not realized that your walking was such a relatively recent habit - wow. So impressive! Congratulations! I take a 1 km walk every afternoon. Takes me 20 minutes ... I enjoy it and I do it, but cannot imagine upping that to 3 miles. Sheesh! You must be hard to keep up with!
   May God's blessings surround you.
Big hugs,


Lucki responds to Kim:
  Well, my walking isn't all that recent a habit. It's the tracking that's recent. And having a daily/weekly goal.
  As a non-driver, I've always enjoyed walking. Long walks with friends. Especially along the lake. Had some especially interesting experiences in the dead of a winter's night on the frozen shore. Or, in good weather, walking alone from one destination to another if I had the time. I think probably my longest single walk was from my dentist to the House of Worship, about 9 miles. Used to cover a kilometer in about 15 minutes, a mile in 22.5.
  Then the big tendon injury happened in the Fall of 2013. And all that walking ground down to about a 0.5-mile limit. And still hurt. Once 2014's PT was done, though, when I was able to walk halfway decently again, I managed to get my time back up to a K in about 20 minutes, a mile (as I warmed up more) in 30.
  But it was in Spring of 2015 that I bought my pedometer, set a relatively easy daily goal, and started keeping track. Mostly for cardio reasons. And the result of that is what I blogged about here. But you've given me an idea for my next entry. Yup. So thank you.
Blessings and big hugs back atcha,
P.S. For heaven's sake, don't try to up your distance from 1 K to 3 miles in one swell foop. If you want to and have the time, try building incrementally, like I did. And remember that walking can actually become easier/faster as your muscles warm up (and you go aerobic, too). A kilometer isn't exactly 6/10ths of a mile, but let's use that as a rough guide. Making each increase as the previous one becomes comfortable, it would take about 1 year if an increase once a month works out for you. Or 2 years if you can only increase once every 2 months. Etc. It could go something like this:

JAN = 1 K    FEB = 1.5 K     MAR = 1 M    APR = 2 K       MAY = 2.5 K/1.5 M    JUN = 3 K  in ~1 hr+
JUL = 2 M    AUG = 3.5 K    SEP = 4 K     OCT = 2.5 M    NOV = 4.5 K               DEC = 5 K/3 M in <2 hr

Whatever you decide to do, keep enjoying it! That's the most important point.



Wed, Mar 06, 2019 at 2:51 PM, Kim wrote:
  Ahh. The light dawns! Love the encouragement  :)
   The one km is from my house to the main road and back. Any further and the neighbors expect visits...I do go for visits, and on those days walk farther - but I have to work up a different kind of "comfort" to extend the range daily. Or add a side trip to the creek, which isn't so many meters, but adds another hill. and another 10 minutes.
   Plenty to think on. Thanks for your blog.
   Finishing one project and will get to my Circular Gallifreyan items sometime this year. I'll send you photos when I accomplish it. (Gregorian year, so be patient!)

      Lucki responds to Kim:
  Well, Holy Writ does encourage and inspire each of us to "encourage and inspire each other", so I try. Don't always succeed; but I'm not in charge of the results, I'm only in charge of the legwork.
  I get what you mean about people's expectations. That side trip sounds like a good idea. And of course, as you build your stamina, there's always the tactic of making that walk twice a day. When I do my walking/dancing, I don't always do it all at once. Some days, I have to break it into, like, maybe 60- or even 30-minute segments to fit all around other things I have scheduled.
  Good luck with the project you're working on. And looking forward to seeing what you finally get to do with your patches. They were fun to plan and make. I have two on my schedule to do right now. They're designed (which is the harder part), so only the embroidering left to do.

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"I wish that my writing was as mysterious as a cat." -- Edgar Allen Poe

It's been a while since I posted about the psychic/paranormal power of cats. So it's definitely time for another go. And today's the perfect day, 'cuz of what happened this morning.

If you want/need to, though, I'll wait until you've looked at previous posts in this series: about Hadji's levitation, Seraphin's teleportation, guest author Rolf's cat Ted's teleporation, and Smoky's astral projection. To say nothing of the heart-touching powers of Ascii and Silver. Go ahead; I'll still be here when you get back.

Data point 5: Bilocation
Angel & her stuffed snuggle-skunk in the cat-condo penthouseMy #grandMya's cat Angel, who lives with me, is a wizard at knowing when I wake up. Doesn't matter where she is. In a window keeping an eye on the neighbors. In one of the cat shelters under the bookshelves. In the cat condo in the living room. (<<<<<=That's her there in the cat condo penthouse, cuddled against the tail of her stuffed snuggle-skunk.) In the litter box in the master bath. In the kitchen scouting for food I might've dropped unnoticed last night.

But the minute I wake up, she starts her special raspy "feed me" call. The one she uses only when I wake up and again at supper time. The one she's been using ever since Silver died and she had to take over the task of getting me up and at 'em.

"Mraah-aahh-hh-aackk!" she says. Repeatedly. Until I'm up and off to the kitchen. Translation: "What's taking so long? You haven't fed me in HOURS! How'za housecat supposed to survive around here?!"

So it was no surprise, as I woke up this morning, to hear her start calling from the living room.

The surprise was her silent, warm weight lying athwart my thighs.

But nope, that's not where the sound was coming from. It was definitely coming from the living room. Only, I can't see into the living room from my bedroom. So I didn't have clear visual proof that she was bilocating. But I certainly had unimpeachable aural proof that she was actually in two different places at the same time.

I didn't know cats could even do that. Bilocate. But obviously they can. Learn something new every day.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. One of my own cats - actually my first Chicago cat, Shadow Delibre - once accused me of bilocation. It was a Sunday morning. I was in bed. I woke up when the clock radio in the next room started playing. A talk program. Shadow woke up, too. Heard my voice in the next room. Jumped down and ran into the next room to see what I was doing. Came back. Put his front paws on the mattress and lifted up to look at me. Yep, I was there. Got down, went under the bed, came out the other side, and lifted up again to look at me some more. Yep, I was still there. Went back to the next room for a short while and listened to me continue giving an interview. Then came back into the bedroom, shook his head, shrugged, and got back on the bed with the silent me. "Impressive," he seemed to say, "but not worth losing more catnap time over." But trust me, this morning there was no radio on. So I know it wasn't some prerecorded Angelic interview I was hearing. It was live. It was her. The bilocat(e).

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"Ishiro! Meet Garima. Queen of Thanzanon." -- Mick Rory

It was unutterably funny. I laughed. I cried. I gaffawed. I roared. I held my sides. I got what they mean by being "in stitches". I couldn't catch my breath. My ribs ached. I shed tears of both glee and pain. It just wouldn't stop. I laughed that/so long and that/so hard. All the way through the multi-minute commercial break. Without stop.

That was on November 19 last year. And then, on December 24, I did it again. On purpose. I figured it couldn't possibly be so funny, so hard, so exhausting the second time around. But it was. Once again. And there I was, once again, laughing uproariously. Unstoppably. All the way through the commercials.

Black, corded Puli jumping over an obstacleWhen my #grandMya is feeling down, or just wants a guaranteed giggle, she goes to an Internet picture I introduced her to. And her eyes light up. She smiles. Chuckles. Chortles. Guaranteed. It's a picture of a jumping Puli. Black. Corded. With a tiny pink tonguetip. That's it stage left there. In all it's glory. Dreadlocks flying. A living, breathing, leaping, panting Koosh ball.=>>>>> 

(BTW, my own personal Koosh ball is black and green. Still gets occasionally played with. And still is in quite good condition.)

Well, from now on, all I need to do to guarantee a risible reaction is say to myself, "Mick 'Mary Sue' Rory." And I will at least smile my way through a Snartly snort.

"So who is 'Mary Sue'?" you ask. (You did ask, right?) Well, the history, denotation, and connotation of the term have become convoluted and complex over time. But the brief basic answer for our purposes here is this: "Mary Sue is the creation by a fanfic author of an idealized character - usually the impossibly perfect love interest of a canon lead character - that is a thinly disguised version of the author herself."

When I started writing Anasazi Anthem, I expressed concern that a protagonist I introduced, Kol Kaguta, might come across as just too Mary Sue. The fellow authors in my consultative group assured me that she was definitely not a Mary Sue. And nor was I. (And yes, I know I have to keep my promise to my spiritual mother, Rezvanieh, and continue working on the story. One of my goals for 2019, it is.)

[SPOILER ALERT] So I'm watching the "Tagumo Attacks!!!" episode of DC's #LegendsOfTomorrow the first time through 'cuz I have nothing better to do that evening. Plus, they're going to meet an historical icon of my youth. And in the course of it, I learn more about #MickRory (hilariously portrayed by #DominicPurcell at his rough, curmudgeonly, primal-force-of-nature best). The fact that Mick's been scecretly writing erotic fiction - and writing it well - comes into play in a big way. 'Cuz the Legends need someone artistic to bond with a book that makes the imagined real. And they are unable to completely defeat the giant octopus (though they did manage to reduce it to somewhat human size) that the book manifested from the imagination of famous director/screenwriter Ishiro Honda while he was directing his first feature film, Aoi shinju (The Blue Pearl), in 1951.

Garima, queen of Thanzanon, battles eight-armed Tagumo on Ishiro Honda's setRory to the rescue. He writes up a storm. Actually, he writes up a hero. Garima. Queen of Thanzanon. She of the huge swords. Leather-bound garb. Blue-banded eyes. And triply-endowed chest. She's fresh on his mind 'cuz he's been writing an erotic science fiction story about her and developed writer's block. But the team needs his talent, he's inspired, and he's off to the races. So is Garima. She battles the eight-armed Tagumo. Eventually dispatches it with some fancy footwork and swordplay. Heads for Mick (who, tongue-tied, introduces himself to her with a simple "I'm Mick"). Kisses him. And drags him off(screen) into the ruins of Ishiro's demolished minature set for a lo-o-ong, messy bout of passion. Come daylight, so to speak, Garima is gone. So is Mick's writer's block.

The closing line of Mick's scenario as he inscribes it in the magic book is "With the monster vanquished, Garima and her beloved Buck made passionate love in the ruins of the city." And the closing line of Mick's original story, now that he's unblocked, becomes "Garima was as strong as she was stunning, and with her by his side, Buck had at last vanquished his true enemy. Fear." [END SPOILER ALERT]

That second line came after the commercial break. But the first one came before it. And as the first commercial started on November 19, I suddenly said to myself, aloud, "Buck is Mick is a Mary Sue!" And loud, unending peals of laughter ensued. Until it hurt.

So, like an idiot, I decided to watch it again when it reran on Christmas Eve. Just to see if it was still all that funny. I knew what was coming. At least I thought I did. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Couldn't possibly be that hilarious the secomd time 'round, right? But it was. And once again, I laughed till it hurt.

You know, one of the reasons #WentworthMiller learned, in their acting and promoting together, to love Purcell like a brother is that Purcell could make Miller laugh. Sure proved it that night. As funny as Miller and Purcell's Legends work could be together - and remember, it was their chemistry and humor that made me a Legends appointment viewer back in the day - Purcell was able to hold his own alone. In spades. And I found myself wondering what sardonic comment #LeonardSnart would've made if he'd been there to see his partner's solution. And secret. But maybe Snart would've been unable to say anything 'cuz he, too, would be laughing. Uproarisouly. 'Til it hurt.

Sadly, we'll never know. But maybe that's for the best. 'Cuz can you just imagine what snarky Snartisms would have ensued if Leonard then heard MarySue Mick admit that his true enemy was fear? This way, absent Lenny, Mick gets to deal with that realization on his own terms in his own time. Good for him.

Khoda hafez,

P.S. For another three "true" stories about LoT-/#Wentnic-watching, and why it's no longer appointment viewing, and how I'm not the only one that's true for, check here, here, and here. Wow, five LoT entries in all. Didn't expect that.

P.P.S. For some extra fun and confusion, google the name/definitions of Garima. Pay attention. There'll be a test. ;-)

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