The Road to 65, Mile 335: Sound and Fury


October 29, 2015, Chino Valley- The child’s piercing shriek rattled few nerves this afternoon, coming as it did in counterpoint to the pounding rain and hail that visited our school’s roofs.  Her plaint was due to the toppling of some cans of food that she had carefully stacked, in the back of our room, when her classmates went back there to place their Scholastic News copies in their mailboxes.  (We are collecting donations for the needy.)

The girl’s disability leads to these sorts of incidents, on occasion.  On a more regular basis, the innocence and lack of life experience of my eight-and-nine-year-olds bring into play the sorts of events that remind me why I stick with this enterprise called education.  There are many moments of delight and small victory.  There are many moments of hair-pulling (figuratively speaking) and exasperation.    It’s a lot like parenting, or marriage, in that regard.

I had only a few tasks which I needed the kids to finish.  At one point I had to raise my voice, for only the second time in three weeks, when their personal concerns of the moment got in the way of schooling.  I don’t enjoy that part of the deal, and so I keep the roar relatively dull, and infrequent. Nature’s roar, though, was a lot more discomfiting to the children, being less predictable and far less sensitive to little hearts and minds.

In the end, the rain subsided enough for me to get the kids to their parents (We have no school bus driver, and therefore, all students are met by at least one adult family member.) The disabled child was wrapped in her mother’s arms, and another girl, who had gone on a small group field trip, proudly showed me the 20-pound pumpkin she had won.

Tomorrow, I will visit the Arizona Department of Education, in Phoenix, and if my son’s plans coincide, I may stay down there, as a Halloween party is on tap there, on Saturday night.  The sound and fury of this afternoon will have moved on, to New Mexico and Colorado, then to the Mississippi Valley, in time for some frightful scenes on All Hallows Eve.

The Road to 65, Mile 334: Independence


October 28, 2015, Chino Valley- We have reached the point where whatever might have passed for a “honeymoon”, between my present school and me, has dissipated.  This is not a bad thing.  It means only that my stated mission, to safeguard the well-being of twenty-one children, while challenging them, academically and socially, is more on my shoulders than it is prescribed by those above me.

Administration has its place, and it is a vital place, indeed.  Teamwork is also vital.  Yet, at the end of the day, it is what a teacher can accomplish, when everyone else around him or her is either indisposed or overwhelmed, that makes the difference in the life of a learner.  It is easy for a child to love and admire a teacher who is ever congenial and accommodating.  The rub comes when the docent holds the bar higher.

I have to raise my bar a bit higher, day by day.  I see things coming, that must be faced, and solved, by the now mostly adult Millennials, and by the emerging Generation Z, who include all the children I have taught for the last five years, and all whom I will teach, for the next five.  They have a lot of innate wisdom, but they also face many of the same conflicts and growth challenges that we all faced in childhood and adolescence.  In addition, all the failures of those of us before them will lie at their feet- just as those of our forebears  cast shadows on our tenure as the generation of leadership.

I seek to foster independence, but not swagger, bravado and insolence, about which more tomorrow.

The Road to 65, Mile 333: Evergreen


October 27, 2015, Chino Valley- There is a belief, more common than it may seem, that once a relationship becomes no longer of this Earth, the one “left behind” is somehow set adrift, and is on a path that will surely lead to yet another relationship- that IS of this Earth.

I have found this to be applicable to some people.  In the universal sense, though, it is just so much hooey. Of course, generally speaking, the only thing applicable to everyone on Earth is that, eventually, we each get to leave it.

When we do, I am of the belief that one who feels a tie to those who have gone on ahead is able to receive guidance from them, and will connect, more intensely, in the life that follows.  I am of no illusion that I know the form that life will take, though I doubt it will involve corporeal existence.  The tests and trials of a physical life are meant to hone spiritual skills and strengths.

My relationship with the spirit once known as Penny is an eternal one.  I feel guided and much blessed, every day.  My closest friend is, in the words of a couple of songwriters, one in the ’70’s and one earlier this year, “evergreen”.

The Road to 65, Mile 332: Where It’s At


October 26, 2015, Chino Valley- I am holding my own, as a third grade teacher, it seems.  Three weeks into my nine-week assignment, I find I could extend the term, if the state Department of Education simplifies my elementary certification.  I will ask them what is expected of me, within the next two days.  A certification fee and a couple of tests would be reasonable.  Thousands of dollars on a new course of study would not be.

I was in a labyrinth, of sorts, on Saturday.  I was reminded of the days when getting a teaching certificate here was Byzantine.  Now, standardized testing, of teachers, has made this easier, at least here in Arizona.  I have my transcripts on file down in Phoenix, so that should speed the plow. I will likely be there on Friday, and so would go in to see what else is needed, besides the certificates I already hold.

The bottom lines are: 1. I will be in a good place, whether I remain with my 8&9 year-olds, or move on to another assignment, or two. 2. The children’s security, however, means we need to secure a teacher for the second semester, and soon.  Stay tuned.

The Road to 65, Mile 331: Nightmare


October 25, 2015, Prescott- Reflections on a middle-night’s dream:

There came the Little Rascals,

into a coffee shop where I sat.

An adult was with them,

speaking untoward rap.

Egging on the boys and girls,

Her words were enough to make me hurl.

I stood up and re-assured the kids,

that young, fresh days are not meant

for moral skids.

Be free of obligation,

to social degeneration.

I awoke,

having stood my ground,

feeling ready for a day

of love profound.

The Road to 65, Mile 330: Prescott Circle Trail, Segment 8


October 24, 2015, Prescott- I spent a few hours walking the shortest segment of PC, from Willow Lake to Peavine Trail Head, alongside the north and west shores of Watson Lake.  This older and smaller of the twin reservoirs is bounded by  Granite Dells, to the north, Glassford Hill, to the east, and Granite Creek, to the south and west.

The first part of the segment follows Willow Lake Road, away from Willow Dells, to Highway 89, which I crossed, just north of a roundabout, when the near constant flow of traffic was abated, courtesy of traffic signals, some distance away, in either direction.  Highway 89 is a four-laner, and has crosswalks, so no overpass is needed.

I then came to Watson Lake Park, one of my favourites here.  The Dells make it an especially otherworldly place.



The trail took me away from the Dells, for a bit, along the west shore, where waterfowl were abundant.  Two Greater Sandhill Cranes were among the crowd.




As you can see above, at first, the female was being rather coy.The riparian trail then went off into the marshy terrain near Granite Creek, which is rather paltry at present.



Upon coming to the rather mundane Peavine Trail Head, I resolved to return there and resume my hike, with segment 7.  Ambling back to Watson Lake, I spotted a lone kayaker.

The surreality of the Dells never gets old, so here we are again.


Next up:  The Peavine Trail Head to Highway 69. (First half of Segment 7).

The Road to 65, Mile 329: Headlong


October 23, 2015- After two weeks with my third graders, eight and nine-year-old beings, I am drawing some very definite conclusions about how their world is treating them, and how they are reacting.  I have said, countless times, that adults, especially young adults, tend to look at children as being mini-adults themselves.  The American media persists in addressing children as young as three by their last names, especially in cases of children of colour, and oddly enough, when the child is a victim of tragedy.  There was a tendency, a few years back, to sexualize teens and pre-teens. Fortunately, the media have dialed back on that hideous format, significantly.

I am not so sure,though, about the public-at-large. Kids are still picking up on that message, and our task, as teachers-and as parents, is to guide them away from talk of “relationships” and “romance”, just as we will guide them through it, later on.  There is something, though, in the lives of all too many people, that prompts them to live through others.  There is an impediment, called vicariousity, that lets one off the hook, with regard to owning one’s life and facing up to the comfort zone.

When this impediment involves children, it gets problematic, to say the least.  There has always been “puppy love”, worship from afar, as it were.  When it involves adults cooing in the corner, exchange of phone numbers, social media and spammed “love letters”,however, it can be injurious- to both parties.

So, I discourage the ardent swains, and reassure both them and the targets of their affection that life is not meant to be lived in one fell swoop, that there will be a time in life- in fact, much of life, that friendship can and does entail romance.

The headlong rush, after all, too frequently ends in a crash.

The Road to 65, Mile 328: Deferred


October 21, 2015, Chino Valley-  The Chicago Cubs came further than they have, in over a century.  Then they ran into the buzzsaw that is New York City’s professional teams.  It takes time, patience and an indomitable will, to beat a team from the Big Apple.  My Red Sox know that, better than anyone.  The Sox are on hiatus, but they will come back.  Then again, the Yankees are taking a break, too.

The Cubs remain the only team to have waited more than a century to reach even the secondary level of the championship ladder, but they will be at the top, within three years. It takes time, patience and an indomitable will, to overcome the entrenched and powerful.

The voices of the common people, many of whom have not been heard for centuries, are at long last being heard.  Some of what they say is a message of frustration.  It does not ring of justice- when it is voiced by the ignorant, the self-centered, the blinkered- and the opportunistic, who pretend to speak for the dispossessed.  The voices of the common people must all be heard, though, lest those denied a voice end up “stinking like rotten meat”, the way Islamic State is now, the way the Nazis did, in the middle of the last century.

“What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?”- Langston Hughes

The Road to 65, Miles 326-7: Sanctity


October 19-20, 2015, Chino Valley

Some thoughts on a couple of rainy days:

Awakening under stars,

glorying in a shower.

Glancing at the news,

whilst thinking of my brood.

The clouds ride north with me,

and plot their mid-day reverie.

Some are stranded behind sand-bagged washes,

Most, though, tough out the day,

with galoshes,

and a will that overcomes the driving rain.

For, learning soothes, and ignorance

breeds pain.

Knowledge has sanctity.

Its lack, breeds angst,

you see.

The Road to 65, Mile 325: So Much the Better


October 18, 2015, Prescott- I got in my start of the week workout, today, as tomorrow will be an exhausting day of catch-up at work.  I am almost where I need to be, on my job, to have established an identity for myself and to not feel the need to spend hours at the school, on weekends.  I also got an alarm clock, with a pied screen- each number is in a different colour.  The alarm is also a gentle buzz, which I prefer.  These are features that will make my winter wake-ups so much more pleasant.

I still watch my favourite TV shows, a day later, on the computer.  I have a huge, big box TV, which is fading.  It will need to go to big box TV heaven, when my son gets here and can help me lift it off the stand.  I won’t get a flat screen, right away.  Other things are a priority.

No hiking was done, this weekend.  Between the constant rain ( a blessing) and a long afternoon at work on Saturday, my agenda seemed ill-disposed towards leisure.  No matter, I will get in a goodly amount of time on the Prescott Circle and Black Canyon Recreation Trails, as well as in Sedona, between now and the Christmas holiday trip back East.  San Diego, over Thanksgiving, will also find me out in the fresh air, quite a bit.

So, the last month or so, before pushing the 65 Button, will be not lacking in a spirited life.