Happiness Anyone? Over Here Please.

 “The happiest of people don’t necessarily
have the best of everything;
they just make the most of everything they have.”

These words were the final affirmation summing up a number of wise sounding observations posted to a traveling email that found its way to my desk today. These same words left my mother’s lips nearly every day of my young life as though to make sure that I never forgot. Rescued by my great Aunt Sadie Hannah Marie Oakes Broom and her husband Horace Dixie Broom from abandonment in a day nursery by a mentally ill, alcoholic nightclub singer known on stage those days as Esther Mae Gettings, I would indeed never forget. Today is the best day of my life. Knowing it makes it so.

From Farm to Market: the Transformation of a Boy Into a Man

When I was beginning to learn about the world, my parents were my greatest asset. I enjoyed sitting on their laps, listening to their answers to the question (actually a command) ”tell me about when you were little”.

Father usually spoke of entrepreneurial ideas: long before school, even before learning to write, which I was indeed doing though somewhat clumsily before reaching kindergarten, I understood the concepts of adding and multiplication. Division and subtraction would come later. Mother on the other hand spoke of her brothers and mother and father. And, from her I was given the motivation to discover the arts. It was mother who encouraged me to go out into the garden and draw what I saw. I went through a lot of tablets before I could draw an iris. Coloring the pictures would come later with division and subtraction.

Father took me on great field trips to sites of industry; the cotton docks for the auctions, the dairies, the loading docks, farms and warehouses, retail stores. By age five I knew how the milk got to market and was able to draw a Holstein, a Guernsey and a Jersey and even to write about the differences in their milk supply, two producing a richer, creamier milk (the Guernsey and the Jersey), the Holstein producing greater quantity. Mother framed one of my cows and hung it in the living room. When my children came along twenty some years later, they enjoyed the same treatment; there was no refrigerator gallery at our house.

But it was my first and second grade teachers who gave me what may have been my most important lessons in how to learn. Neither of these teachers was big on the idea of memorization. Mrs. Kays taught us phonics. In other words after the very first day we were teaching ourselves. I had a little bit of a head start because with mother’s help I was already reading though not very well.

The following year Mrs. Douglass taught us and tested us on geography. Though I was the most accomplished reader in the class, I was also the only kid to flunk the exam. I was a very sad child as I trudged my way home that evening. Mother took one look at me and led me to the family library, sat me down to the table with milk and cookies and a stack of books, a set that had just arrived by Mistletoe Express called Lands and Peoples..I sat there and nibbled on cookies and read, and nibbled and read, crumbs all over the table and myself and didn’t stop until mother came in with an Atlas. The next Day Mrs. Douglass read the essay I had written with a little help from Mother and got an A for having done so.

After school Mrs. Douglas had me stay for a short visit. She showed me a way to study unknown to me. She stacked five geography books in front of me and asked me to flip through the pages and choose what I thought would be the best book for making a book report. I chose the one with all the maps, the Atlas. She then had me look in the back of each book and tell me what I saw. I discovered an index and in some cases, bibliographies.

In the following week I learned a principle which would someday make the owners of Google very wealthy. I used one book on my subject of choice. I’d check the table of contents with questions already written down, I’d write down a keyword or two and after reading what the book had to say on that subject, turn to the indexes of the other books and eventually to the bibliographies.

What I discovered was that ideas were worth having when they made sense. Ideas that resulted from research, from drawing with paper and pen from real life and eventually seeing illustrated in famous paintings and written about by the people whose names were on the faces of my first deck of cards called Authors, would stay with me for the rest of my life.

Who Not What by Zippity Zot

The WHAT of life is found ‘neath the neck.

The WHO resides in the head.

What I want to know by zippety zot

Is Who is this in my bed?

The body’s familiar, it has two legs.

But who’s at the other end?

A woman it seems, she’s not a horse.

So what path down was I led?

This must be a dream, of course that is so.

Another one’s coming and

Off I shall go

I’m going

I’m going

I’m gone.

Goodnight.

Interlude.

Most of life’s ills I’m told, occur after forty.

Most of those ills can be prevented with exercise and good nutrition.

My sources tell me that more than half of life’s ills can be prevented even with a crummy diet by taking large daily doses of vitamin C and sub-lingual B12 or bi- monthly shots of same.

More than half of life’s ills can be prevented by replacing most if not all of the animal products in their daily diet with home cooked beans and two tablespoons of broken walnuts or pecans. There are millions of very old vegans who believe this.

I’m old. I take care of myself because I am enjoying this stage in my life. I want to continue learning, loving and living. That being said, let me tell you about a sandwich I made today. But first a few words about food preparation in Lee Broom’s kitchen.

I eat lots of veggies. No animals. No cheese. No eggs. One exception. I buy an unusually healthy mayo containing neither preservatives nor high fructose corn syrup. It is made with eggs of course, so I use it once a week and no more than that. On weekends I like to cook. While beans and rice simmer in the background, I make use of this two-hour period by slicing and dicing veggies and making salsa and soups.

Today at lunchtime I put a paper plate on the chopping block and placed on its surface five fingerlings of cooked carrots from Sunday’s cooking session. I mashed them. I sprinkled them liberally with red pepper flakes and stirred in some broken walnuts. Two tablespoons of this great mayo made in Utah and another quick stir, slice a tomato, grab some lettuce leaves and plop this veggie goodness between two slices of today’s fresh bread from the corner bakery. I carried this wonderful creation to the table and returned for the fruit desert and plain soda water tinged with the whizzed remains of a dozen blue berries, and seated myself. I then thanked the Love of my Life for this wonderful moment in an otherwise hectic day and slowly feasted to the accompaniment of Chopin. Thanks for joining me.  Lee Broom.

Falling In Love.

I believe I have two major Life  choices available to me at all times; I get to choose between the two Greatest Powers known to mankind. I recognize them as Love and Fear. Some say Good and Evil. I do not dispute that.

Fear comes naturally. I never actually have to choose it; it chooses me. It is the most essential part of me. Fear directs me to millions of sub-choices in the worldly system of gathering knowledge in the forms of Art, Science, Technology, Philosophy and Religion.

All these things are helpful in assisting the growth of my physical, psychological and even my spiritual well-being. But accepting Fear as my Savior also provides a very heavy Cross to bear and that is Guilt. Left festering, Guilt can accelerate to Terror and worse. I want no more of that. I accept (at least for the moment) the Love with which we identify God. If I forget this there are plenty around me who will gladly remind me of my current lack of awareness; my great-grandchildren for example.

Love does not choose me as does Fear. It doesn’t choose me; it IS me. It IS me but I do not control it; I’ll explain that in a moment. I choose Love many times a day but it is a choice only in the sense that I am choosing to acknowledge Love’s existence. My best friends are BE STRONG males who have been taught by their fathers not to give in to feelings. Love is a feeling but it is much more than that. I believe that Love is another label for God. And by refusing to acknowledge the greatest Power known to man, I am choosing to tread a very dangerous path unaided by my connection to the rest of All Existence.

In conclusion, I don’t believe that God punishes us, though by failing to acknowledge Love we lapse into guilt and self loathing at a moment’s notice. What worse punishment can there be?  Behavioral scientists can even determine personality traits by the physical ailment s of their clients.

I believe that Love is sufficient to erase any problem as though it never even existed. I believe also that when we are busy solving our own problems that we quickly lose our awareness of Love’s presence. Love is always there but if we truly want the full benefit we need to focus on Love rather than perceived problems.  And since Love means helping others without expectation of anything in return, well……………..

The phone just rang. Somebody Loves me.

Move Over Costco.

Last week I became a member of a co-op called Bountiful Baskets. Saturday morning I went to a public park in Scottsdale and helped a crew of people put the baskets together. I had prepaid $15.00 + $1.50 handling. Also there is a one time charge of $3.00 to pay for the actual basket.
 I left with two large Trader Joe bags overflowing with fruits and vegetables. It had to have been more than fifty pounds. I’ve already mentioned it to several churches. Perhaps your own family, employees, Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Home Group would have an interest in this service.
As for myself. I have effectively cut my grocery bill in half and improved my diet in the process. Move over Costco.
 Cheers, Lee.

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT

THE LAST OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS

Kamal Amin, Architect, Structural Engineer

It was at the little cabaret theater at Taliesin West.  The fellowship was gathering for the weekly social event, when Mr. and Mrs. Wright  had dinner, and saw a movie with the The first time I saw Mr. Wright, was on a Saturday evening in November of 1951.  apprentices. Everyone was dressed up for the occasion, and we stood waiting for the Wrights to walk into the theater.

I had been an apprentice for slightly over a day, largely preoccupied with becoming acquainted with my new environment.  I had learned English in high school as a second language, but I never had a reason or a chance to use it until I came to America.

I was about to see for the first time the man who had inhabited my mind and soul for the previous three years, while I lived in Cairo.  With the many layers of anticipations and expectation I had projected on him, he had become something of an abstraction that I clung to in order to retain my sense of myself.

As I laid my eyes on him when he walked into the theater, I was looking at a very handsome, imposing figure, with an interesting face, framed in his famous mane of white hair. He looked at me with kind eyes and a warm smile, and asked me if I was comfortable in my new surroundings.

The following eight years constituted my period of apprenticeship and association with the greatest architect of all time.  Like my fellow apprentices, I learned my craft by living and working in the company of genius. My day started, progressed and ended in a pervasive atmosphere of creativity and strong beliefs.  I learned from him, simply by being close to him, walking the same earth and breathing the same air.  When I heard him speak, it was like listening to the voice of the ages. He possessed a sense of eternal wisdom, which included the present moment in the progression of history. He was a cosmos unto himself, much like a natural force, which received its instructions from an intangible universe.

The most precious moments for me, were the times he came to my desk, gently moved me over, shared my seat with me, and worked on my drawing.

Magic sprang out of his hands, as he moved them swiftly and decisively, enhancing the complexion of the design.  The statements, instructions and comments he made to me then, remain engraved in my sensibilities.

One late morning on another Saturday, eight years after the Saturday I first met Mr. Wright, he was standing at my desk discussing with me and instructing me as I was working on a spectacular residence he had designed to be built on three adjacent peaks on Mummy Mountain, in Paradise Valley, for Mrs. Daniel Donahoe of Texas.  He had already signed off on the design, but in vintage Mr. Wright, the building is finished only after it had been built.  It was about noon, after an hour or so of work. Then  Mrs. Wright breezed in the drafting room and said,“Frank, it is time for lunch.” And asked him to accompany her.

Later on that evening, being a Saturday, we, all dressed up, waited outside the theater for Mr. and Mrs. Wright to arrive for the evening event.

The wait was longer than usual. Then someone came to tell us that Mr. Wright was taken to the hospital to be operated on, having had severe abdominal pains during the afternoon.

The news was particularly shocking for me, since I was just working with him a few hours earlier. He was ninety two years old, but he was very healthy.  According to his doctor, he had the vital signs of a forty five year old.  I remember times when I needed to run to catch up with him. I expected him to return in a few days.  But a few days later, my good friend Davy Davison, walked to my tent at five o’clock in the morning, I had just awakened, and  said,

“Mr. Wright is gone.”

The news was so devastating to me that it actually threw me off center.

Observing my devastation, Mrs. Wright asked me to tend his grave, mow the lawn, plant the flowers, and generally care for the environment around him.

She came to visit her husband’s grave almost every day. We knelt by the stone circle around it and shared some soulful moments, as we snipped off dead blossoms in order to preserve energy for new growth.

It was during that period that I realized that I was tending the grave of one of the founding fathers of this country.  I was making an in depth study of the history of the United States, and discovering that it is the most interesting and fascinating of all time. The more I read of it, the more I could see that Mr. Wright’s cultural contribution was an organic growth of what this country was all about.

He was born eighty years after the constitutional convention in Philadelphia.

During those eighty years, there were the Federalist Papers, eighty five essays published by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, in order to promote the ratification of the constitution.  Then there was the Marshal Court, which rendered the decisions that started the process of defining the intent of the constitution, as a basis for establishing the different institutions of the country. Then there was the challenge of the war of 1812, which Andrew Jackson brought to a spectacular American victory against the finest British troops in the battle of New Orleans, forcing Britain to recognize the United States claim to Louisiana and west Florida. Then there was the crisis of nullification of tariffs, spear(-) headed by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, 9and) then the senate Force Act introduced by Daniel Webster. Then there was the Henry Clay compromise which averted conflict for a time. That was followed by the civil war and reconstruction.

By then, America was on her way to becoming a global force.

What was sorely lacking was an aesthetic identity which sprang from the soil of this country expressing the uniqueness of the ideas and forces which converged for the first time in history, to create this society. The prevailing aesthetic was borrowed from classically feudal cultures which the idea of America was intended to resist. In the country’s capital, Washington DC, government functions were and largely remain unceremoniously trapped in Greek or Roman temples.

The monumental efforts made by many during the first eighty years of the life of this country, eventually established a structure upon which, this society was built.  The work was focused on the survival of the country. But the soul of the republic needed to emerge, in order to express in a tangible way, the meaning of the inner freedom of every American citizen, as an independent mind.

Two years after the civil war, Frank Lloyd Wright was born, on a farm in Wisconsin.  It was the signal that an American aesthetic was about to be created.  As a hard working young man, then a young architect in Chicago, the spirit of America, from the Declaration of Independence, through the many events which highlighted the dignity of the individual, were natural components of his make up.  Some time in his youth, he decided that he had a part to play in the realization of the dream which is America.

Very quickly he saw himself as the instrument needed for this unique culture to blossom into a visual expression defining its intent as a way of life.

The way to do that was to become an architect, whose contribution was to enhance God’s work, by building structures springing from and belonging to the soil supporting this culture.

For seventy years of practice, against the overwhelming habitual sentiments of the herd instincts, he did accomplish his purpose, and made a contribution which helped to define America. The five hundred buildings he built stand on God’s earth declaring the sovereignty of the individual.  By simply doing his work, he gave permission to architects across the twentieth century to explore every conceivable structure.  There would not have been twentieth century architecture without him

That was the second Declaration of Independence.