Spiritual Stuff.


This is Sunshine. She joined our family in late 1976 or early 1977, and lived with us until 1989. She was a puppy when she joined the family; adopted from a litter in the South Park of the small village I grew up in while we kids were at the movies at the Kallet Theatre for a Saturday matinee. My sister originally wanted to name her Flower, but we settled on Sunshine. Per family rules, she spent the vast majority in her area surrounding an elaborate dog house my father built. She originally joined us when we lived in the mobile home, but her house was relocated to a shady spot near the new house when we moved across the street in 1977. When I was big enough we’d occasionally go running around the yard together. She was a really good dog.

I’ve been thinking about Sunshine quite a bit lately, no doubt inspired by Lucky and Jinx living with us today. She crossed the rainbow bridge over 30 years ago but every once in a while I dream about her and she makes me smile. Her memory brings a little sunshine to my life. I have no doubt that when my time comes she’ll be waiting to play again with her happy face.


While I am not a religious person, I am very intrigued by the idea of rituals. It’s the structure of rituals I find most appealing; as I get older I find comfort in predictability. It helps the world make sense to me.

There’s a lot of chaos in the world, especially evident in social media and the offshoots of the behavior, with the pearl clutching, outrageous adjective use, and desire for clicks and clacks.

I had a revelation this morning. A good chunk of my participation in social media has to do with validation. It’s an exercise in trying get that next trophy. Good job, you’re funny, and all that. And I’m seeing that as wasted energy. There must be better uses for the energy expended into writing short blips of content on the social media sites; things like reading, learning, thinking, reflecting.

I don’t want social media to be part of my daily rituals any longer. At my age I suppose I should no longer need to seek validation, after all, I’ve made it this far and as I enjoy the better half of my life, I should just be content in being me. So many rely on social media for contact with others. That’s always been my excuse for maintaining a presence of Facebook. It’s a way to maintain contact with those that share a common interest, and more importantly, friends and family back east. We all know phone calls and letters and FaceTime and emails excel over social media. For many these methods seem outmoded and outdated. Well, maybe I’m outmoded and outdated.

I’m content with that.

I have always admired the ways of Vulcans in the Star Trek universe. Completely fictional, there are elements from Stoicism that inspired the writers that conceived and continue to expounded upon Vulcans. Is Stoicism for me? Not entirely, but it’s something to read and learn about. And energy once used for social media can easily be redirected to more important things, like reading. I still enjoy reading books, although I have been known to try to make the print larger in a hardcover book by spreading my fingers as if I was trying to zoom in on an iPad.

As I moved my daily rituals from frivolity to a more intentional existence, I can’t help think that I’ll feel more fulfillment in the long run. When my time has passed and folks talk about me I hope they say, “he really grew into his own, and he was very pleasant to be around”.

Perhaps that’s the greatest trophy to earn in life.


Once or twice a year I’ll receive a handwritten letter from a local person encouraging me to find myself, reduce my stress, bring serenity to my life, etc. by becoming a Jehovah’s Witness (or is it ‘join the Jehovah’s Witnesses?). I’ve received these letters for many years, in all the locales that we’ve lived in. Apparently my name and needs are on a mailing list somewhere.

These letters don’t bother me. I actually read them. I don’t feel compelled to take any action, as I have my own spiritual beliefs and I’m quite solid in what I believe, but I find the correspondence interesting. No two letters are the same. Perhaps the senders are provided many templates.

I hope the authors find peace through sending me these letters.

RIP Her Majesty.

A photo from the Internet.

As an ignorant Yankee I don’t know a lot about the British Monarchy. I do know that I enjoyed Queen Elizabeth II’s messages at Christmastime and I admired her presence and poise whenever I saw her on television. She passed on at age 96 today. The longest reigning British Monarch, may Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, rest in peace.


Yesterday, Shohreh Aghdashloo, best known to me as UN General Secretary Chrisjen Avasarala on “The Expanse” posted on video on her Twitter account that simply took my breath away. I don’t know if it was the cinematography, the music, or just the general vibe of the piece, but watching the video turned my day completely around and made everything just a little brighter.

In the video Ms. Aghdashloo says, in her characteristic low voice, “Isn’t this celestial”? What a beautiful word with big meaning. Celestial. The word rings a bell in my head and the sound is pleasant.


Betty White would have turned 100 today. We won this book in a hospital charity auction back in 1999. I read it back then and it just occurred to me that I need to read it again. We also made a donation to Pima Animal Care Center here in Tucson in Betty’s memory.

We need more people like Betty White in the world.


There were certain taboo subjects around the family dinner table when I was a kid. The news would be on the television in the other room; Dad was most likely keeping an ear on that. We didn’t talk about religion and we didn’t talk about politics. Ever. Once in a while politics would come up at Gram and Gramps’ across the street, when that whole side of the family was together, but they would end up in heated discussions and Dad would retire to the living room to read a magazine. It was usually an aviation magazine.

I was always taught that one’s religious beliefs were private. It was considered rude to be loud about your religion. Different kinds of religion were fine, just be quiet about it. So that’s what we did. My religious beliefs, which grew into more of a spiritual belief, were between me and what I believed in. The only thing we did that was outwardly religious on a daily basis was say prayer before supper and I don’t really know why we did that. Habit, I guess. Readers may be surprised to find out that I still say grace before dinner. It’s one of two rhyming numbers I’ve said all my life and the rest of my family here in Tucson goes along. Sometimes they slap their hands and yell “break!” when I’m done and then we start eating. I’m happy and fortunate that my chosen family goes along with this tradition from my biological family.

Because we were always taught that religion is private, I still find it surprising when someone starts spouting hallelujahs or “Praise Jesus!” all over Facebook, like God needs an affirmation via Mark Zuckerberg. I have a few friends from high school and quite a few relatives that will post vague social media updates, “I really need prayers today. I can’t say, but pray for me”. I always picture myself dropping an American quarter down a well and hope for the best, because in my mind they’re basically using their power of prayer like a wishing well. My spirituality doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind throwing a coin in the wishing well if it makes others happy. It’s when people use their religion to beat you over the head with a Bible; that’s when I get cranky. Speak softly. Listen. Keep your beliefs close to your heart. No need for a billboard.

Having traveled in all 50 states I can safely ascertain that many Americans feel God needs a bumper sticker, he needs guns, and he hates a lot of stuff. This is the all loving God they talk about, of course.

Too many religions are just nuts.


I strive to choose my words carefully. I occasionally choose the wrong words when conveying thoughts; usually for emotional impact or as a result of personal heightened emotion. When using words with a sting, my voice is louder and higher in pitch, even when I’m sharing them via keyboard online.

I’m focused on using better words to help bring down the temperature of dialog. Everywhere. Online, in conversation, it doesn’t matter.

One of the things I most admired about my father was his capacity to keep calm and his discipline around language. I heard my Dad swear. Once. Maybe he just minded his language better around his children. I rarely heard him say something negative about someone. If he did, it was out of frustration.

Dr. Maya Angelou is on absolutely on target; words are “things”. Once we realize this, we understand what we’re putting out into the Universe through communication and language.

RIP Mary Ann.

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” has passed at age 82. She died of complications from COVID-19.