Dutiful

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October 21, 2020-

I was approached, this morning, to help with cafeteria monitoring during lunch- a decent request, given that I would otherwise have nearly an hour with no official responsibilities. I chose to help with Kindergartners, as little ones can always use help in table manners and in being re-assured that everything will be just fine-even if their parents are not present, momentarily.

Monitoring students who are waiting in the hall, to take their diagnostic test, is a fairly simple task. Most are occupied with their own work or are reading other material. I just have to keep the flow going smoothly.

The buses, at dismissal time, are another key area, at which to monitor student safety. Most drivers here are easy-mannered with the students, being themselves either parents or grandparents. There was an issue with a rather officious individual, which was resolved at a low level, with the understanding that we could up the ante, if student safety were put at risk, for the sake of adhering to policy.

Policy, by definition, does not seek to place anyone’s safety at risk. Governing Boards and school district administrators do not operate in a vacuum, by and large. The rub comes when an individual, at a lower level level, interprets a policy either in an untimely manner or without regard to common sense. This kind of reminds me of politics and other bureaucracies, but I digress.

I have two days remaining, in this position, and will give it my best, as always. The gentleman for whom I have been covering will be here next week, and my own adventure will continue, somewhere else.

Indigo People

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October 20, 2020-

In observing the children who have passed before me, yesterday and today, I note their problem-solving abilities, interactions with one another and with the adults who will help make or break their current school year.

This community runs the gamut, from upper middle class to barely scraping by. There is, though, more of a sense of agency, among the emerging generation of children (either late Gen Z, or born since 2010 [who some call Generation Alpha]. Perhaps because of the uncertainty of the past ten years, and the total upheaval of this year, children are more apt to take certain matters into their own hands. I see a great deal of the style of Indigo People, who instinctively know why they were born and what their mission is. They are of the sort who have, in essence, chosen their parents, and though there is little evidence to suggest that souls exist in some sort of Pre-Life, there does seem to be a life force that is actively directing people, at least from the moment of their conception-even more so, than in previous generations.

There is a semblance of the Indigo, in my own life. I look back on my first sixty- three years or so, and, while I recall always having a sense that I was to go in a certain direction, and accomplish specific things in my time on Earth, there were always uncertainties and baggage that needed to be unloaded. I think that 2014 was really the first year of my life that was lived in a truly unfettered manner. Even the few setbacks that I have faced since then have not been shattering or deflecting, as so much that transpired before then.

Maybe, the energy that is being infused into the world, in the past ten years, has a part in my own experience. It certainly seems to be affecting an increasing number of younger people. I feel that this is, primarily, for the betterment of the world. What I can do to encourage them, in a positive direction, is to be done in a far less prescriptive manner than seemed necessary, in times past. Maybe it’s more a matter of my having jettisoned my own immaturity; yet I feel that less authoritative behaviour is necessary, on my part.

Every Bit Counts

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October 19, 2020-

Today saw the celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. I put in a full day of work, as it was also the first day of in-person instruction in our county’s public schools. I’ve been asked to work this week, with a team of Title I Reading specialists, at Liberty Traditional School, Prescott Valley. Today and tomorrow, we are giving a diagnostic test to several students. The team also is helping kindergartners get used to locating their buses and communicating with their drivers, as to where they need to get off. I was dismayed to see that those children who didn’t know where their stop was, also had no address or phone number inside their backpacks. That was a given, when I was subbing in the Phoenix area, as well as in Prescott, in the 2000’s. Teachers and parents regularly made sure there was contact information in each child’s backpack or pinned to the inside of their sleeve.

After work, I picked up a delicious meal of Persian chicken and rice, prepared by some gracious friends, in honour of Baha’u’llah’s birthday. Persian rice, seasoned with saffron, and fortified with one or another type of beans, is a light and refreshing staple. I also had hosting duties for our community’s Zoom-base celebration, so we got together for devotional readings, a slide show of Baha’u’llah’s life, which I narrated and watched a video of Persian folk dancing-performed by a troupe of women, for an audience in India.

Every little bit counts.

Her eis that video, for your viewing and dancing pleasure!

Add One, Subtract the Other

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October 18, 2020-

Today and tomorrow are the Twin Anniversaries, the celebrations of the births of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah. We are fairly relegated to Zoom for these celebrations, this year, but the observances are no less heartfelt.

As to the title of this post, a friend who has largely recaptured the vitality and stamina of her youth, through a certain product line’s offerings, has reminded me just how well the natural supplements work, in extending one’s well-being on this Earth.

I have made a lot of progress against some nagging health concerns that are left over from my caretaking duties and the long hours spent in less than sanitary conditions. I no longer am the drone that some hipsters in my former places of employment saw fit to disparage. I can see their point now, but I came by that low energy level honestly-and got rid of it just as legitimately.

Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade essential oil supplements have largely done the trick for me. When my financial house is just a bit more righted, I will add my friend’s product line to this regimen. Then there is wheatgrass, a major energizer and superfood in its own right, which another friend grows and which I already press for juice.

There is an old advertisement, in which an auto mechanic says: “Pay me now or pay me later.” I believe a lot of the concern that people have about the cost of health care could be obviated, if they gradually curb their reliance on reactive health care and add proactive practices.

Add one and subtract the other.

The Differences Remain

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October 17, 2020-

The differences remain, between me and most others in my life, and that’s okay. I was raised by two people who were polar opposites, in many ways, and I was, likewise, much different from Penny, in several areas.

I don’t deem it necessary to send “Good morning, have a nice day!” messages to people on social media. Some of my friends do, and I will never blow them off. Common courtesy was instilled in me, so despite my setting a plan for myself each day, random messages will be addressed, as soon as possible after they are sent me.

I don’t consider myself a follower of any living person or member of any political movement. There is truth to be gleaned, from across the spectrum, and there are ideas and policies that both sides advocate, which are not fit for our times, either because they are outmoded or because the human race is not ready for them, as yet. I support those ideas that are good for the planet and for the well-being of humanity.

I believe in a Creator. Some don’t, preferring to think that the Universe was self-creating. I don’t believe that a physical Being did the creating, but that there is an eternal Life Force behind it all. I believe there has always been a moral code-be it called Golden Rule, Ten Commandments or Eight-Fold Path. This code is accompanied by social laws, which are changed to fit the needs of the time in which people live. Thus, Progressive Revelation comes from the same Source Who sent Krishna, Zarathustra, Moses, Gautama Siddhartha, Jesus the Christ, Mohammed and al-Bab, and Who has most recently sent Baha’u’llah. The Source never sent Satan-which is in fact a personification of our own lower nature. Others believe differently. There is no harm in that. We all get to grow and move, at our own pace.

The bottom line is, I love; far from perfectly, but I love.

I have had a request for more photos of Red Mountain, so here are three more.

The Bull Elephant
A Mystery Trail
Another Fortress and More Guardians

A Visit to “Mystery Mountain”

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October 16, 2020-

It wasn’t a long absence from Home Base, especially in light of a wildfire that may require some attention, this weekend. I did, however, make good on a visit to northern Arizona’s “other” Red Mountain-this one about halfway between Valle and Flagstaff, on US Highway 180.

I began the day with a run to Tusayan, the service town that lies just outside Grand Canyon National Park. That was entirely to get some cash, which I had neglected to do in Williams, yesterday afternoon. With cash comes a gratuity for the motel maid, who has things extra difficult-dealing with the POSSIBILITY that some guests may not be conscientious regarding traveling whilst ill.

Saying good bye to Grand Canyon Inn, I headed southeast and found Red Mountain to be quite popular, on this tail end of Fall Break. An easy 1.2 mile walk, from the trailhead to a short ladder, leads to a mini-wonderland, not unlike the larger area of spires, hoodoos and expansive sandstone cliffs found in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Red Mountain is a cinder cone, with volcanic ash covering the cinders, thus forming many of the hoodoos which grace its northern base. Slippery volcanic dust and pebbles form the groundcover, making it important to mind one’s steps. It was understood, by everyone present, to stay off the rocks themselves, which are clearly delicate.

Here are several scenes of the trail and of the Volcanic Park.

The 1.5 mile trail begins in this juniper grove.
A southward view of Red Mountain.
Red Mountain is the westernmost peak in the San Francisco Volcanic Field. Abineau Peak neighbours it to the southeast.
This scene points out the rugged nature of the terrain. Volcanic soil is rich, but is not thick.
Kids of all ages may be tempted to go up, and slide down, here, It is a very treacherous ledge and climbing is forbidden.
Cinder hoodoos, covered in black ash.
Ponderosa pines, the tallest trees in Arizona, sometimes have fallen victim to volcanic dust clouds that get whipped up in storms. Fire is also a danger.
Some of the stones evoke elephant images.
This volcanic box canyon is lined with basalt spires like these.
Every path has its guardians.
Sand, piled up in the box canyon, gradually hardened and formed these “busts”.
These crevices, as yet, do not go very far.
Older crevices, though, present a temptation to get oneself stuck.
Here is one end of the box canyon.
Here is a ledge of hoodoos, representing the other end of the canyon.

On my way out, I met a young family who were exploring the approaches to the box canyon, at the child’s own pace. The little girl asked me how to get up “Mystery Mountain”. I told her the ledge she was trying to get up could be the first Mystery Mountain and there were many more. (She was, with Mommy’s help, about two feet up.)

It is for moments like this, as much as anything else, that I go forth to see my own Mystery places.

Heat of A False Summer

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October 15, 2020, Valle, AZ-

Mid-October used to be called “Indian Summer”, owing to the hot weather that seemed to just hang on, for days on end, even though it’d been Autumn for almost a month, and the leaves had mostly changed colour and fallen.

With our language showing more sensitivity, these days, perhaps “False Summer” would be a better phrase. “Aug-tober” may be a bit excessive, as we do see cooler temps, during the second half of the month.

My schedule has shown signs of heating up- a full week of work awaits, next week. A wildfire, south of Prescott, may or may not lead to my spending the weekend helping in a Red Cross shelter. In a couple of weeks, I am slated for jury duty-during Election Day and its aftermath. It’s a good thing that my ballot is filled out and safely inside the County Recorder’s office.

I am here, in this small roadside village, for an overnight stay before hiking the second of northern Arizona’s Red Mountains. This one will be an easy hike, and a geological wonderland to explore.

Valle’s lone motel is comfortable and has an engaging, cordial staff. The restaurant has one floor person (server and cashier) and one cook, yet they manage to get food ordered and to table-or take-out counter, in less time than some far better staffed establishements. The desk clerk is a back-up server. This is what a community dedicated to serving travelers does, when decisions made by higher-ups lead to staffing shortages.

President Trump is said to be headed to Prescott on Monday. I will be working at a school, while he’s there. Hope it is a safe event for everyone involved-as I hope for each event, between now and the inauguration of whoever wins on November 3.

Priorities, and Mayhem

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October 14, 2020-

Some have watched the hearings on Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Others actually bothered to read the New York Post’s alarm-bell piece about Hunter Biden (who would NOT likely have any role in his father’s still-possible presidential administration). Then, there is the back and forth, in our Arizona state government, about when would be a good date to end voter registration for the upcoming election.

None of these three processes are near the top of my attention focus, right now. I would have a huge problem with the Roberts Court curtailing any of the civil rights given us, by its predecessor courts, to wit: The tenures of Chief Justices Warren, Burger and Rehnquist, as well as, to a limited degree, Mr. Roberts himself. Amy Barrett reminds me of former Justice Anthony Kennedy-with a lot of Justice Scalia thrown in-so we all need to be vigilant, about both the appeal of judicial backsliding on human rights (The Koch Manifesto is likely on her shelf) and taking her at her word about keeping the Law above her personal predilictions. My fervent hope is that she keeps, front and center, what kind of world she wants for all five of the children she and her husband are raising. They may not fare all that well, in a world dominated by the mayhem of One-Percenters Gone Wild.

The less said about Hunter Biden, the better. At the very least, it is a case of Pots calling Kettles black, writ large. I wish everyone well, so long as they are playing by the rules of the game, but being the flip side of the same coin does not afford the Trumps the right to throw shade on their opposite numbers.

States where elected officials see the handwriting on the wall have made various efforts at voter suppression. There has been scuttlebutt about ballot harvesting, and thus far, little fire has been detected under that smoke. Setting a registration deadline of 2 1/2 weeks before an election, as our Secretary of State has done, seems reasonable. A month ahead, as is supposedly “written into the Arizona Revised Statutes”, would seem to be unnecessarily restrictive, in a state that is experiencing legal population growth on a daily basis. Besides, even the conservative State Court of Appeals sees no problem with the 2 1/2 weeks-out deadline (which is tomorrow). My prediction: People will brave long lines and vote in droves.

In my little world, the focus is on a Zoom’ed spiritual gathering, this evening; a memorial service, tomorrow morning; a trip, tomorrow afternoon, up to Valle, AZ for a hike, Friday morning and four different Zoom calls, over the next two days. The weekend will be what it is and next week, I will be at a work site every day. The Farmer’s Market will be open, we Baha’is will celebrate the Birthdays of our Faith’s Founder and His Herald and we will be one week closer to decision day.

Let’s keep mayhem to a dull roar.

Red Mountain, in the Blue Hills

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October 13, 2020, Dewey, AZ-

There are two Red Mountains, within a day’s driving distance of Prescott. One of these lies just south of this little ranching and farming community, southeast of Prescott. The Blue Hills, in which this Red Mountain may be found, are a rugged subrange of foothills to the larger Bradshaw Mountain chain, which stretches from Prescott’s southern edge to Black Canyon City and Crown King, at the southern tip of Yavapai County.

I’ve hiked a fair amount in the Bradshaws, over the past nine years. The hike today was my first visit to the Blue Hills region. I got there a little past 11:30, finding only two other visitors in the parking area. They were on their way out, so I had the trail to myself. Off it was, to Red Mountain of the Blue Hills.

The trail was introduced recently by the estimable Phoenix hiking trails writer, Mare Czinar. I found the trail exactly as she described it-beginning on a stony Forest Service road, then entering a forest of Gambel’s Oak and Alligator Juniper. After about 1.5 miles, the trail loses the forest, entering into a sparsely-vegetated area of scattered lone juniper trees and prickly pear cacti.

Switchbacks and mildly steep inclines take up the final mile or so, landing one very close to the summit of Red Mountain, with a Forest Service gate, that begins a trail to Lynx Lake, some five miles westward. I will check out Prospectors Trail, from the Salida Gulch area, later this Fall. For now, here are some of the views I encountered.

This message has wider implications for all of us.

Blue Hills Trail System joint-use guide
Red Mountain, from the Trailhead
Sandstone Outcropping, near Trailhead
Sandstone and Juniper mix
The trail passes alongside Green Gulch, for about .9 mile. Green Gulch, Red Mountain, Blue Hills-wonder where indigo and violet come in.
Year ago, there were miners panning for gold, in Green Gulch and in Salida Gulch, further southwest. This foundation is what’s left of one such mining claim.
Smidgens of Fall colours could be glimpsed, here and there.
This gate took m eout of BLM land and onto Prescott National Forest.
This is close to the end of the thick forest and start of high desert scrub.
The climb out of Green Gulch, and up onto the ridges of Red Mountain, begins here.
This large sandstone outcropping lies slightly to the east of the final ridge of Red Mountain.
Here is the reddish sandstone that gives the peak its name.
Once through this gate, one goes down into Salida Gulch, and on to Lynx Lake and Highlands Nature Center- five miles, one way.
This is one of several heart-shaped rocks, which always affirm my journey.

Public Nuisances

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October 12, 2020-

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day, as well as Thanksgiving Day in Canada. It’s also the day when three ships landed in a makeshift harbour, off what is now San Salvador/Guanahani Island, Bahamas and the commander of the expedition thought he was in India. A lot of things changed, after that event, in 1492. We’re still fixing some of the messes.

The mask/no mask debate goes on. Most people have learned to live and let live. Paper maskes are a no-no, having been treated with the active ingredients used in Teflon. Other masks should be washed, in a diluted bleach solution, then thoroughly rinsed. I haven’t been ridiculed when I have worn a mask or scolded when I haven’t.

There are, though, public drunks and other miscreants who are going about, coughing on anyone, including a child, who is wearing a mask. Of course, they have to shout “COVID” and laugh uproariously at their own stupidity. Truth be known, there are legal precedents for people to be charged with assault, for doing these sorts of things.

We live in a society where the rights of such public nuisances are widely regarded as sacrosanct. While I am a believer in due process, going over the edge, especially towards a child, is never defensible. The more of these idiots who get caught, the better.