Retrograde

3

February 21, 2020-

It is said that, at certain times of the year, the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards, or is in retrograde.  This is, of course, poppycock, but the illusion does have an effect on people, in the areas of relationships, transportation and finance.  People will use this illusion as an excuse to take negative actions, or to not take any action at all.  Sometimes, the latter is actually advisable, especially if life seems to be moving at too fast a pace.

I find winter, in general, as a good time to slow the pace a bit.  For me, that generally means staying, for the most part, within the bounds of my county of residence.  A couple of trips out of the area, last weekend to Yuma and tomorrow to Indio, to take in a Sheryl Crow concert, are exceptions to that, these past two months.  Energy has taken a back seat and my concentration has been mostly on boosting my immune system.

The retrograde gets credence from all the illness that has circled around our community-and many other parts of the country and the world.  I would make a humble suggestion, though:  Let us use the time to quietly connect and do manageable projects, both individually and in groups.  There will be time enough for the grand and far-reaching, in the fullness of spring and summer.

Sewing and Banana Bread

2

February 20, 2020-  

There are many twos, in today’s figuring, so pairs are a natural topic of discussion.  Two of us work with a disabled child, in the afternoon.  Couples are frequently my dinner companions, at American Legion Post gatherings, such as the one earlier this evening.  Two main concerns take up discussion at Sustainability Club meetings, at Prescott College:  Establishing sustainability-oriented community events on campus and  clean-up of the surrounding area, especially the two nearby creekbeds.

A sewing night has been scheduled for March 1, giving me a chance to donate my spare sewing box, inherited from my mother-in-law, when she moved from Prescott, in 2011.  Sewing machines are actually familiar to Millennials and Generation Z-at least far more than many of a certain age seem to realize.  So, too, is baking-and as much among men as among women.  I’m not, inherently, much for banana bread, but a young man did it well, for tonight’s meeting.

Two meteors, as I mentioned in the last post, paid their respects to our area, over the last week.  I am wondering which pairs of people, things or events will  make us take notice, the rest of this month, and afterward.

The Fireball That Blazed

2

February 19, 2020-

A few days ago, just as I was walking from my carport to the apartment (12 a.m.), I looked up to see a meteor, blazing northward.  Some people in town reported hearing a loud boom, right about that time.  Two days later, many people heard a second loud boom, around 7 p.m.

I had not seen a blazing meteor, prior to Sunday midnight, outside of high school Earth Science videos.  I took the sighting as some sort of affirmation, that those of us who saw it are on the right path, in whatever direction each is headed.  I also  sense that there will be some discomfort, some pain, but that it is the cost that must be borne.

This would mean that our communities, as well, are on the right track.  For Prescott, that could mean that showing prudence, with respect to striking a balance between preservation of our natural treasures-Granite Dells, the five man-made lakes, Thumb Butte and Granite Mountain Wilderness- and new construction is the right course of action.  For the whole region, taking care to not deplete our water resources is also huge.

Natural phenomena do not happen in isolation, so I imagine there will be other portents to come, during the course of this year.  I intend to keep my eyes and ears open.

 

Tidying Up

4

February 18, 2020-

Back to what passes for normal,

I  helped provide some stability

to a child whose inner world

is in constant uproar.

Then, I took care of my own innards,

getting chiropractic for the last of

an infection that just seemed

to have taken up residence.

Happily, it’s taking the hint.

An overdue haircut

and a plate of enchiladas mole

ended the day just nicely.

So began the shortened work week.

(Mole, pronounced mo-LAY, is a sauce of unsweetened chocolate, used with chicken of turkey, in parts of central Mexico.  Lindo Mexico, a Mexican restaurant here offers the dish.)

 

Barriers Are In the Mind

6

February 17, 2020, Yuma-

A commenter on one of my recent posts, on another social media site, took issue with the notion that freedom has a price.  Once, an explanation of that statement was offered, he had a better appreciation o fits meaning.    He did, for his part, also make a valid point:  We can choose not to surrender our freedom to those who would take us down and use us for their own designs. Indeed, I have made several choices, even so far this year, that have not set well with some others.  In the end, though, they can also choose for themselves, as to a best course of action.  The sun should not rise and set, with any other person, when it comes to making choices of one’s own.

After a three-hour visit with some long-time friends, in this bustling border city, I took in two sites that focus on the consequences of discordance and social unrest:  Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park and the border wall at San Luis.

The Prison is, of course,defunct as a place of incarceration.  It long ago  gave  way to a more “up-to-date” facility, in Florence, itself now slated for closure, after over 100 years of use.  Yuma Territorial Prison was established in 1875, at the behest of the area’s representative in the Arizona Territorial Legislature:  Jose Maria Redondo.  It served as the Arizona Territory’s place of incarceration, from 1876-1909.

Since that time, Yuma has alternately used the facility as a temporary high school (1910-1914), a homeless shelter (1930-39) and, most recently, as the centerpiece of the city’s historical heritage preservation.

Here are a few scenes of the present State Historical Park. Below, is a view of the Colorado River’s wetlands, below the Park grounds.

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Here is the railroad bridge, opposite the Park.  It is still in use.

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This was the Parade Ground.

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This was the Guard Tower.

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These are two views of the Sally Port  (Puerto de Salir), or main entrance to the enclosed prison.

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The present-day Museum is in the site of the Prison Mess Hall.

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Men and women, Mormon polygamists and Mexican revolutionaries, white collar thieves and cutthroats-all shared this facility, at one time or another. The most famous of its  prison breaks, the Gates Riot  (October, 1877), saw Superintendent Thomas Gates taken hostage, one of his trusted inmates, Barney Riggs, come to his rescue and killed Gates’ attacker.  The would-be escapees went to the Dark Cell, Gates suffered the ill-effects of the attack for the remaining twenty years of his life and Riggs was eventually set free.

Here is a view of the main cell block.

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Next, a couple of views of the typical cell.

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These were the first bunk beds.

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Finally, this is a view of the Dark Cell, the holding place of the most incorrigible prisoners.

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In spite of appearances, the Yuma facility was progressive for its time. It had electricity, running water and was mostly operated with a rehabilitative, rather than a punitive, mindset.

I left this city, for a forty-minute ride to San Luis, to take a brief look at the border crossing leading to the large Sonoran community of San Luis Rio Colorado. It was peak crossing time for day labourers, who were returning home.  In fairness, the barrier here looks nothing like the much-photographed Bollock sections, in other areas along the frontier.  I don’t much care for the fortress-like images being promoted as “necessary”, but the real barriers to human progress are in the mind.  This puts the onus for social change and justice squarely on those creating the barriers-both the antisocial elements whose actions generate fear and the reactionaries who fancy that building such structures will obviate any further efforts at rectifying the imbalances present in society.

Most of us, whether “liberal” or “conservative”, actually fall somewhere in the middle on this one.  I wonder how Thomas Gates, the reformer penologist, would have dealt with undocumented immigrants.

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When Relics Crumble

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February 16, 2020, Yuma-

Driving down AZ 95, towards this vibrant border city, I passed the remnants-the shell- of a western Arizona mainstay:  Stone Cabin.  It was, I’m told, a favourite stopping place for people traveling between Las Vegas and  Mexico, during the 1950’s, ’60’s and ’70’s.  There was a large gas station and a bustling snack bar, with space for families to get out and stretch their legs, in an area which otherwise had no amenities for travelers.

Today, as I drove past, there was only the shell of the building, with no signage indicating what once was.  I knew what it was, only because of an earlier road mileage sign, on which Stone Cabin was listed.  I could sense happy ghosts, of those who had found respite there, at least during the eight months a year that Stone Cabin’s proprietors kept it open. (There was not as much traffic through the area, during the hottest months of the year:  May-August.)

Many things fall apart, in anyone’s life and in the life of a community, during the course of years, decades and, with respect to the larger social entity-centuries.  I have a certain amount of time left and, while not knowing-or needing to know, how much that is, I will carry on with what I sense is given me to do.

Society does much the same.  Some feel it is a necessary social project, to build barriers:  Walls and fences, which they hope will keep  unsavory intruders from entering the American nation.  I have my doubts, as no wall has thus far accomplished its stated purpose, in perpetuity.  We’ll see.  The project has accomplished a division of people, but across ideological lines.  It won’t physically crumble until long after the generations which have reached adulthood, as of the present day, are gone.  My own hope is that it will generate a meaningful and earnest conversation, between the physically-divided peoples, albeit from a spot where the most fearful people are experiencing a sense of relief.  When unity is realized, the wall’s builders will have unwittingly obviated its purpose.

Relics crumble, even after they have offered a fair number of people a sense of well-being.

 

Treasures

4

February 15, 2020, Sedona-

I treasure you, the professional singer,

not for your sensuality or for your ferocity,

though both are formidable.

They do not define you.

It is that voice, which can transcend genres,

making bee-bop sound lilting and melodic,

bringing folk into the realm of whimsy,

making anyone’s standard your own.

I treasure you, the gracious host,

yourself bursting into glorious song,

whilst preparing a latte,

or a complex healthy beverage,

with ten ingredients.

It is your heart, though,

that makes the newest,

most casual visitor,

as important as

the regulars in the back room.

I treasure you,

the multi-genre guitarist

and songwriter,

welcoming all

to one of the finest jam sessions,

I’ve had the pleasure to join,

in quite a few months.

I treasure you,

the musical video-making

wanderer,

who, like me,

finds as much beauty

on the plains of Kansas,

as in the canyons of the Southwest,

the seacoasts of our nation’s periphery,

or the exquisite high mountain ranges.

This spirit brings your voice into focus,

and that lilting voice,

such a sublime counterpart

to the raw vocal power around you.

I treasure the place,

called Synergy,

where the little impromptu family,

has deigned not to build a wall around itself.

Love Means Energy

8

February 14, 2020-

It’s been quite a few years, since Valentine’s Day meant taking time for romance.  The last such day was in 2011, and it was to prove the last such day,ever,-at least as far as I know now.  Penny wasn’t so much connected with us, but on that day, she was home.  She would have about 1 1/2 more weeks, living in the house that we struggled to keep.  I got six carnations, placed them in a vase, and made sure she knew they were there.  I felt her happiness, at seeing her favourite flowers.  The last time I placed carnations in a vase, six months ago, it was at her grave.

The woman closest to me now is not huge on flowers in a vase.  She prefers things she can plant.  She is also more careful with romance, for good reason.  We are  the best of friends, and that works well for me.   The key is always to meet such of the needs of another person, with which s(he) entrusts you.  We are one another’s most fervent well-wisher, sounding board and healer.

There are many other friends in my life, as my readers know-many of you are among them, in real time.  In any case, you are friends in spirit, and that has made all the difference, in times of setback and low energy.  My friends are a good part of what keeps me going.

Then, there is the purpose-the driving force behind each day, for which I draw breath.  Now, it is the life skills development of  a young lady, who has spent her brief life working mightily to learn things which so many of us take for granted.  She reminds me of my youngest brother, gone these twenty-six years.  She is the primary reason for my work, from now until the third week in May.

Love is also putting stock in the Will of God-that things happen for a reason, or for several reasons, all having to do with relationships, with personal development.  Some things happen, or don’t happen, according to our human, finite plans-but they always happen for reasons found in the Cosmos.  I had planned to visit a friend, whose husband is seriously ill, at an event in her business, this evening.  Instead, whilst I was driving to an earlier event, a tire blew and I made it to said earlier event-barely.

Friends there helped me, and thanks to the AAA, my car is at the regular mechanic’s shop.  Tomorrow morning will thus be spent with the mechanic and getting the two new tires I seem to need.  The tax returns will wait until next week.  I will stop at the other friend’s business, tomorrow afternoon.  I’ve learned to see even  mishaps as blessings.

Love means putting energy into the betterment of those around you, as well as taking care of self.

Self Care and the Angels In Our Midst

2

February 13, 2020-

I  had what we knew, back in Saugus, as the gryppe, for five days.  The muscle aches that are the last thing to go, are being actively treated with essential oils, CBD cream and, just for an extra measure, Triflora.

I haven’t been ill in quite some time, before this episode.  As it wasn’t Coronavirus, or the flu, I count myself lucky.  Still, it’s an annoyance to have sore muscles.   We go on, though, and with the angels-both human and ethereal, who surround me, there is a likelihood of being back in full form, very shortly.

Yet, even human angels can fall victim to such illnesses.  I speak, in this case, of a dedicated community servant here, who came down with the flu- a day before being one of the leads at a Valentine’s Day event, for hospitalized veterans.  This person will recover, and there will be other events at which she will preside.  It may be the ignominy of “failing” the vets, but being a veteran myself, I can say that no one will attach any shame to her focusing on self-recovery.

A person, whom I regard as my best friend, has been there for me constantly, over the past six years.  I have reciprocated, several times, but neither of us are keeping score.  Others here have been similarly solicitous and helpful-and again, I am careful to pay it back-or forward.

It’s just what happens, with the angels in each other’s midst.

The Smallest of Things

6

February 12, 2020-

Sometimes, the smallest of tasks is the most difficult for people to solve.

The most ordinary, quotidian of quarrels can escape resolution.

The most mundane of household tasks can wait for days on end.

A quiet infant can be forgotten in the back seat.

So can a sleeping dog.

We are creatures of our senses.

We think that they need to be constantly

stimulated.

We are creatures of mind.

We think, and overthink.

The Big Picture is often

what we think matters most.

It has its place-

but it is as  nothing,

amounts to  naught,

unless the grunt work is done.

The teeth need brushing,

the shoes, lacing and tying,

the floor needs sweeping

and the car needs a visual-

before the driver leaves it,

and goes inside.

There is good reason

that the Great Teachers

called attention to

care for the least among us.

So it is,

that my task,

most likely until May,

is helping to care

for one Special Needs child.

Life is full of

second, third and fourth chances.