Surprise, surprise.

There is an International Happiness Day! Established by the United Nations to be celebrated every year on 20 March. I just heard about it tonight from my friend Queenie.

So it was yesterday. Close enough. Today is Naw Ruz (Noh Rooz) – Baha’i New Year. So we are happy for that. Everybody else can be happy for just being happy. I like it!

my number two child at about two months – feeling happy.

Be happy, be happy, be full of joy!



I’m off now to restart the Thursday farm blog, and may pop back in here for notable dates on the Baha’i calendar. The first is kind of a new year’s resolution, so I’ll give it my best shot.

I just want to thank you for having read along in the past month. Thanks.


Greater than the Pyramids

Looking up at Nan Madol

When our friend Linda was here, we got to talking about Pohnpei’s Nan Madol, the majestic ruins of an ancient city.  Joy Island, where we used to go camping, was just beside Nan Madol, and our family visited the ruins several times.

Nan Madol is really impressive.  The walls of basalt are up to 25 feet tall.  In all, there is up to three-quarters of a million metric tons of basalt there.   Locals had several stories about how the basalt pillars were transported from the quarry on other side of Pohnpei.  The favorite theory is that they were flown to Nan Madol magically. 

Linda knew more of the actual history – mainly that some invaders called the Saudeleurs came and enslaved the locals, forcing them to do all the work.  The evil “Soda-leers” were so stingy that they even forced the workers to give them their head lice (so that the workers could not have the lice for a snack).

Beamer, Austin, Akka and Clara sitting in a low spot of Nan Madol

That matter of enslavement reminded me of the pyramids of Egypt: impressive testaments to an earlier civilization.  Also built by conscripted labor.

And that called to mind the great chiefly bure (house) of Fiji culture.  A great chief residence was built on a high platform, and its height was extremely tall for the time, making construction perilous.  Part of the construction included the sacrifice of a person under each corner post…and I’m pretty sure these were not volunteers.     

All of these constructions (Nan Madol, pyramids, chiefly bures) are evidences of human striving for greatness and the desire to demonstrate an impressive achievement.


At some point in the last week a related idea hit me,  hit me stong:  what Baha’is are tasked to do is to achieve something even bigger, more difficult, and more impressive than Nan Madol and the pyramids.  Our job is to help bring about Peace on Earth.   Of course we will never do it on our own, but our job is to be the leaven that gets the rest of the world to rise. We unflinchingly hold forth the conviction that World Peace is not only possible, it is inevitable.  Humanity CAN learn to get along.  

Overcoming our own weaknesses, creating bonds with neighbors, getting various activities established and maintained, being there to support efforts of like-minded folk.  It is a “herculean task.”  No slaves, no coercion.  Voluntary sacrifice only.

We get encouraging messages from the World Center with admonitions such as, “Prove worthy to crown a hundred years of toil and set the stage for exploits as yet unimagined.”

Unlike the ancient physical structures that impress and inspire, the “construction” of a world where  justice and mercy are expressed together and disagreements are solved through consultation – this will be an achievement that benefits every one on Earth.  


Day 19 – That’s it, friends.   Last day of the fast.

I’ll post a Naw Ruz (New Year) photo tomorrow.  And then I’ll be back to my old weekly farm blog.

Loving greetings to you all.


Trading Up (though reluctantly)


If poverty overtake thee, be not sad; for in time the Lord of wealth shall visit thee. Fear not abasement, for glory shall one day rest on thee.

Baha’u’llah, Arabic Hidden Words #53

What follows is a family tale that illustrates the promise above – but a little bit of genealogy is necessary first.

Guy Kerby and Ken Kerby c. 1913

My father Guy and his older brother Ken were born in 1912 and 1908. They had a first cousin named Lorna, born in 1911, who lived next door. As children they were the closest of friends. And they remained close all their lives.

Fast forward to 1991. My father has been dead for twenty years, but Lorna and Uncle Ken are still going strong. Austin, the kids and I have already visited Uncle Ken and Aunt Zellah in Oregon, and now we are visiting Lorna and her husband Harold in Missouri. Lorna, Harold, Austin and I are having an enjoyable “adult” visit while our kids (Akka, Lua, Clara and Guy) are downstairs watching TV and eating snacks. Turns out that THREE of them are watching TV. Turns out that the youngest has wandered outside to amuse himself.

Thus, while Harold was upstairs telling Austin about the wonderful tomato crop he was about to get from his two plants, our youngest son was harvesting those green tomatoes and putting them into pipes he saw in the wall. He was putting the very last tomato, a tiny one, into a tiny pipe….

Oh my. We discovered it, just as we were preparing to leave.

Awkward! Here is the leaving picture. Lua serious because she’s afraid she’s going to get in trouble, Clara happy to have her picture taken, Harold a portrait of disappointment, Lorna putting on the bravest face she can manage, Guy looking mildly sheepish, me trying to mask my mortification, and Akka trying not to call attention to himself.

To say that the tomato incident cast a dark shadow over our visit is an understatement. In general Lorna was not fond of kids – this had been a problem in the past. She was one of my very few close relatives left. I found it deeply worrisome …

until about two weeks later….

when Lorna called to share, with great glee, that Uncle Ken had been talking with Harold. Uncle Ken had said, “Harold, I hear that **GUY** harvested your tomatoes.” The connection to my Dad made the entire incident extremely funny. Harold conceded that, yep, my Dad had pulled a fast one on him. Now, I can’t look at this photo without totally cracking up.

Tomatoes-and-shame followed by a joke that lasts for decades – that’s not a bad trade!


Day 18 – I was reminded of all this because I finally finished digitizing that whole pile of photos. The one of Dad and Uncle Ken as children was in the final folder.

One day of this fast left. It is so hard to believe.

May you all have a blessed and joyful day.


My Jewish Genes Come Calling

Yesterday I found myself obsessed with Yom Kippur. I knew it involved a 25-hour dry fast (no food or drink), but I had to know more.

Oh Lordy! Reading about the observation of Yom Kippur is really an education. It starts 40 days earlier with preparation for this Holy Day with special prayers and rituals. It ratchets up the week before. On the evening where Yom Kippur starts, people have a festive meal and then they go to they synagogue for prayers. One article I read says the faithful spend the whole day in the synagogue in prayers – I hope people can go home to sleep!

Anyway, the Yom Kippur fast involves abstaining from five things. I’ll change the order of the list to put what I consider the real kicker in last place. They abstain from

  • food and drink
  • wearing leather shoes
  • having conjugal relations
  • using creams or lotions
  • bathing

Bathing! No shower! Oh my. One thing that really helps during our dry fast is hopping in the shower. Even without getting water in my mouth I get the relief of having had a drink. I could go 26 hours without food or drink … but no shower? I groan! (But I’d still like to try it someday. Am I crazy or what?)


Thanks to DNA testing, I know I am 1/3 Jewish, so I can credit this attraction to this Jewish High Holy Day to genetics. Reading about it was fascinating.

Jews in Auschwitz recreated their calendar so they could celebrate their Holy Days at the correct times. Two copies of that calendar still exist, both written by women prisoners (calendar-keeping was considered men’s work, so hooray for women who stepped out of their traditional)

One thing that is abundantly clear is that the Yom Kippur celebration effect more than an individual’s spiritual well-being, it has an irreplaceable role in cementing social cohesion within the community. The Jews could not have maintained their culture through centuries of exile without Yom Kippur.


And I have to be a bit cheeky. The last bit of Yom Kippur, everyone cries out “Next year in Jerusalem!” …. What do the Jews living in Jerusalem say?


Day 17 — I love all my ancestry – the 1/3 that’s Irish, the 1/3 that’s Jewish, and the 1/3 that’s “I forget” so it can be “all humanity” for all I care. I don’t feel the difference in customs to be a barrier at all.

O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.



When Work Upstages Love

Practicing for a career in Something! .

(EDIT: one loyal reader said that this post was hard to understand because I did not give enough background information. Therefore I have re-written parts of this post to clarify, to answer a pressing question, and to add a bit I accidentally omitted.)

Eleven days ago I addressed a “Dangerous Topic” : would it be better to have a guaranteed great career or a guaranteed great marriage. I expressed dismay that more than half the respondents chose the guaranteed career. Today I’m taking that idea on in a more light-hearted manner…

In a world where career over love is the norm, these are some of the top hits:

  • “Hit Me Baby One More Time” becomes “Promote me, Lady, One More Time.”  
  • “Love Me Tender” becomes “Win that Tender”
  • “Like a Virgin” becomes “Like a Newbie”
  • “R.E.S.P.E.C.T”  has same title, but lyrics have changed to “All I’m asking for is a little respect when you get home to work”
  • “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” becomes “You’ve Lost that Tenure Option’”

In a world where career over love is the goal, tombstones might look more like this:

  • Joe Johnson   First in Finance R.I.P.
  • Susan Smithee   Youngest to Make Partner at Taylor & Taylor R.I.P.
  • Dana Jones    Voted Peoria’s Best Dentist in ’52, ’53 and ’58. R.I.P.
  • Caleb Wilson   Archeologist, on Cover of TIME Magazine R.I.P.
  • Absidy Klein    6.2 million Twitter followers R.I.P.

I can imagine that last one happening now…. (ugh)

If you can think of more song titles worrying about work or tomb engravings celebrating a career, please send them along. I’d love to see them.

Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.



Day 16 – Akka made a joke a few days ago: What do you call a midnight snack during the fast? Answer: “lunch” Ha ha. Confession: I had lunch last night.

The photo – inquiring minds want to know Who Is That? That is Daughter Lua, about age 10 … not being a witch for a change. It looks like she is coming from a shower, but I think she might have been a surgeon. She was definitely going trick-or-treating.

This fast is nearly over. Three more days, three more posts.



This morning I woke up from a crappy dream. Somebody I cared about was angry at me and I was also being chastised by others for a different flaw. Not a dream I feel like rehashing.

BUT …. It did get me to think about the matter of dreams.

Soon I remembered my all-time favorite dream, one I retold many times and my son Guy told me to write it down because it was more interesting than my short stories (gee thanks). Anyway, I know this dream was from May 2017 because I recorded it.

Just blue sky from my bedroom window – because there is NO depiction for my dream that works!

I won’t share the dream with all the details, just the theme and a few highlights. I was in the Holy Land trying to get to an appointment in a significant building. I was making my way through gardens and rooms in unfamiliar buildings, seeing a few friends I knew and other people who mattered to me in various ways. There were two little boys who attached themselves to me for awhile and then scampered away and I thought there was something wrong. In making my way to a guard house at the entrance, I was forced to wade–then swim–through a pool of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. The guards told me the boys were fine, no problem – and then asked me if I wanted to join a group doing some work. Sure – so I was in a pickup and then a barge thing, out of the garden, but still really happy and purposeful.

My interpretation was that it was a vision of the “next world” (Baha’i lingo for “heaven”). I concede that my dream may not be literally accurate; for all I know it could be wildly off the mark. But it was still an incredibly beautiful dream.

My dream was obviously influenced by a prayer that I’ve been saying regularly for loved one who have died. It closes with these words:

Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount.


For the agnostics among us there is a good takeaway from this dream that has nothing to do with the existence/reality of a heavenly next world. It is more simple than that: what we fill our minds with during our waking hours can have an effect, good or ill, on our sleeping dreams.

If we long for beautiful dreams, then we need to fill our mind with beautiful images for our brains to draw from.

Also: one beautiful dream can be a joy for years (even if junk dreams still keep showing up).


Day 15 – Wishing you all a beautiful day, beautiful thoughts, and beautiful dreams.


All Pain Matters

Baha’is are supposed to be kind to animals.  Akka did well in yesterday’s post, but much of the time he doesn’t look like much of an animal lover.  On animal kindness, I too am pretty hit and miss.  Kiki, from our example, is not an animal lover to brag about.  (I feel like such a hypocrite.) We know the principle – applying it is an uphill slog.

Enter granddaughter Alice.  She is an animal devotee.  She LOVES animals.  She serves them.  Once she got the instruction, from babyhood I’m sure …

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.


… she put it into practice with a vengeance.  During her four months at the farm, not a day went by without her feeding animals, tending to animals, petting animals, worrying about the animals, and telling off anybody and everybody who she thought was not treating the animals optimally. 

One day Alice cheerfully showed me a poem she had in her notebook – I wish I had copied it.  It had verses about all the evil things that happened to kids who mistreated their pets.  

Gleefully sadistic is how it struck me.  

That’s when I realized that “kindness to animals” guidance in the Writings is nearly always followed by “kindness to one’s fellow man”  

He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance.



Day 14 – I drafted this post yesterday, and woke up thinking about a friend who exemplifies this attitude of kindness to all living beings better than anyone else I’ve known.

My dear friend Steph loves animals so much that she couldn’t bear to become a veterinarian: she feared some owners would be unwilling to pay for care and she’d be watching animals suffer unnecessarily. So she used her brains to become a human doctor. For all the years I’ve known her, she has continued to do her best for animals around her, and she has given care and consideration for the humans around her, too. I have so many stories of the many times she has given direct care – from taking someone to get eyeglasses to surgically removing a bad toenail. She has also served as the on-call advice giver…. and really caring about the outcome.

One funny-to-me example comes to mind. Seventeen-year-old Guy and his best friend Vula were goofing off with rubber bands, and Vula accidentally whacked himself in the eyeball. They told me about it two days later when Vula’s sight was still foggy in that eye. Alarmed, I called Steph. She told me what tests she’d order where she was – but she knew we didn’t have the equipment here. She gave instructions for what Vula should and should not do. And said that with luck the eye would heal on its own in a few more days. If not, take him to the hospital. A few weeks later, she called me. She wanted to know how Vula was. “Vula? What about Vula?” I asked. “His eye. How is his eye?” The eye was fine – I had totally forgotten… but the doctor who CARES had not forgotten at all.


Lastly, just gotta prove I am not a total loser.

Daniel Tiger crawled into my lap this morning. Purr, purr, purr


Rescue !!

A little bird that Akka rescued six weeks ago.

The essence of true safety is to observe silence, to look at the end of things and to renounce the world.



Day 13 – I’m posting this one as a warm-up for tomorrow’s theme. Stay tuned.

Happy day, Everybody


Why should England have a Children’s Award and Fiji not?

The Diana Award was started in the UK in memory of Princess Diana, as a way of carrying forward her commitment to the children.   The Diana Award started as a vehicle for recognizing exceptional children, and has since developed into much, much more.  The Diana Award (diana-award.org.uk)

Not long after the Diana Award was established, our dear Queenie and a few friends of hers were gripped with the idea that Fiji needed a similar award.  To this end they started a little NGO in 1994 called Vision Fiji.

The criteria were borrowed, with permission, from the Diana Award itself:

To be bestowed upon young people between the ages of 6 and 18 in Fiji who show exemplary achievement in one or more of these categories:

a. Improving the life of others, especially the more vulnerable in society,

b. Enhancing the school or community in which the young person lives,

c. Showing exemplary progress in personal development, especially where this has meant overcoming adverse personal circumstances.

Vision Fiji kept running into dead ends on the Award idea.  So they took up other projects in the meantime.   There was the 10 PM message which ran for years – “It is after 10 PM, do you know where your children are?”   It was quite famous.   They got funding to improve some school kitchens. They got the Virtues Project introduced to the schools.   They spear-headed a clean air campaign.  They also got funding from Rotary Club to paint the ceilings in the children’s wards at the hospital.  All this is to say that Vision Fiji was keeping busy, even though its signature project was languishing.

Somewhere about the time that the school kitchen project was launched, I was introduced to Queenie Thompson, the Chairperson.   I loved the mission of Vision Fiji.  I loved Queenie.  I loved the other five ladies in it.  And I loved feeling that I was doing a little bit to help.  

Vision Fiji AGM 2007

We met about once a month – and I feel like progress on a children’s award was mentioned at every meeting, even though there was no progress.   We prepared a power point presentation, and refined it over and over.

I went with Queenie back through the rounds – waiting in the office at College of Honour, talking with the secretary because the boss was away; meeting with the Ministry of Education, who had their hands too full.  Still hoping College of Honour would take it up.  Someone on our last visit to MOE suggest we just launch the award ourselves.  

By then we had a couple of younger members and we had talented contacts in the community, so we decided to go for it.  This was May 2009, and we wanted to bestow the first awards on Fiji Day, October 2010, Fiji’s Ruby anniversary for independence.   What a crazy lot of work that was.  

The media launch was on Fiji Day 2009.  Nomination forms were sent to schools and made available to the community.  Nominations poured in from teachers, pastors and neighbors.  Every nomination was vetted for accuracy.  And – this was one friend’s great brainstorm – the judging panel included KIDS.  Only the ones that the kids flagged as exceptional were passed on to the final judging panel.

Long story short:  we were a success!   The Fiji Children’s Award was launched on schedule.   Now it is a biannual feature of Fiji life.  (except when a pandemic shuts everything down)

You can read about some of the amazing recipients here:  Fiji Childrens Award ~ A Project by Vision Fiji | Facebook


Day 12 – how the days are flying!    Love, love.


Every child is potentially the light of the world   



Grandmothers for Everybody

Austin’s mother “Beamer” and granddaughter, 1979.

Who wouldn’t love to sit on a bench and talk with this sweet woman? Grandmothers can be the most sympathetic, understanding and approachable people in our lives.

That is the idea behind a simple and amazing mental-health approach that started in Zimbabwe two decades ago and is now being replicated in other countries. Grandmothers who want to volunteer take a course in “problem solving therapy” – learning how to help people find their own solutions – and then they serve by sitting on a FRIENDSHIP BENCH in the park. Anyone who feels sad or hopeless or overwhelmed can sit with a grandmother and get skilled mental health care. This makes mental health care comfortable and available. Both the people counselled and the grandmother-counsellors feel they reap great benefits from the program.

My little recap does not come close to describing this wonderful initiative adequately. Please check out this link that tells its inspiring story: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/02/02/opinion/group-grandmothers-zimbabwe-is-helping-world-reimagine-mental-health-care/


I was sent this link by my dear friend Queenie Thompson. We were always looking at do-gooder projects. Years ago I got a hare-brained idea about how Fiji grandmothers could cause world peace; I even knew which public figure I thought would be ideal to sponsor it (don’t ask — ha ha!). Queenie always indulged me by listening to this stuff, and she remembered I’d had some “grandma” idea. So when she saw this article, she sent me the link right away – thinking I’d be excited. She was right.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about a do-gooder project of ours that actually came about!


Day 11 – on the downhill slide now. I feel great. Hope you are all feeling great as well. Lots of love.


O God, my God. Aid thou Thy trusted servants to have loving and tender hearts….