The Five-Year View


November 29, 2015, Prescott- I got back here around 8:10 P.M.  It was another picture perfect day, leading me to hope that the southern Plains will catch a break from the horrid ice that has caused so many to break out the blankets and longjohns.  I pray our weather heads to you, and soon.

I left Chula Vista at 11, stopping in Riverside for lunch, at Hideaway Cafe and a brief walk around Mission Inn, which I last visited in 2012.  The displays are as splendid now, as then.  I will post photos tomorrow, but for now, I am tired, so briefly, as to my longer view:

I am looking at the second half of my seventh decade.  Age is somewhat as the late, beautiful Aaliyah said, “but a number.”  It isn’t, however, nothing, in my opinion.  Age is an experience magnet, and, if one is paying attention, attracts wisdom as well.  The “old fool” in the ditty is most often asleep at the wheel.

As I’ve said earlier, I plan to be at work, each school year, until I reach 70.  Summers will see me making shorter journeys, to specific places.  One exception to both of the above is likely a two-week visit to Chile, next Fall, as the first Baha’i House of Worship in South America is to be dedicated soon, but nothing’s definite yet.

My focuses, as always, are on the welfare of our children, the propagation of the Baha’i Faith and grassroots health and wellness promotion.

The only specifics I have set, as my “new year’ starts, are for December:  To continue at Mingus Springs, to visit my family in Massachusetts during the Christmas period and to hike the Pemberton Loop in Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains, on Dec. 29.  2016 will see three essential oils gatherings, two in Boulder and one in Salt Lake City.  I am determined to finish what I start, from now on.

It’ll be a most interesting maw into which I jump, this year 2016.



Piedras Pintadas and National City’s Fillippi’s


November 28, 2015, Chula Vista- My latest day in the sun featured over 125 birthday greetings, and muchas gracias to one and all, for remembering what was, for me, a most auspicious day.

There were no intervening, pre-planned events in the apartment, as it happened.  Holiday spirit, and fatigue, intervened to postpone those gatherings.  So, it was on with a visit to Piedras Pintadas, picked from the rich list of hiking opportunities in San Diego, owing to its relative brevity, it being 1:30 PM before we learned of the day’s cancellations.

The trail is part of the San Dieguito River Trail system, and revolves around the ubiquitous glacial boulders of southwest California, and Lake Hodges.  Here are some of the scenes we found.

The first two (clockwise, left to right) show the lake, with Bernardo Mountain looming in the background.  The third shows Piedras Pintadas themselves.  In times of precipitation, there is a small waterfall, up in the high rocks.  The lower left features SoCal’s signature boulders, and son rounds out the montage.

We finished the trail in about forty-five minutes, and with other items on the agenda, headed back to Chula.  Next up was dinner, at the National City branch of Fillippi’s, one of my two favourite Little Italy eateries.  Like its parent establishment, the NC Fillippi’s was jam-packed, on this lovely Saturday evening.  We were seated, and had soup, garlic bread and beverages in front of us, in less than thirty minutes, though.  A young boy who shares my birthday was getting his due, of song and a birthday treat.  I passed on even announcing my day.  There was enough hoopla, here online.  Had we been in a larger party, perhaps, but two men?- NAH.

The meal was excellent, and we headed out the door in time to catch the 7:05 showing of “Spectre”, Daniel Craig’s purported James Bond swansong.  It lived up to the basic Bond formula, though a bit long at 3 hours.

So six-five is now in full swing, and I will be back tomorrow, with a new framework, for the second half of my seventh decade.



The Road to 65, Mile 365: Janus, 2015


November 28, 2015, Chula Vista- I woke this morning, to a fabulously blue sky, with my body telling me it is still happy, under my care.  Son got up, about an hour after I did, and with my support, tended to an urgent matter.  A while from now, his second housemate will begin moving in.  The day will revolve a bit around that process, and a small pre-planned activity.  This last reminds me of my actual 60th:  With Penny in bed asleep, eight of us observed the day with pizza, soda/iced tea and a small cake.  Serendipity, randomness, have their odd beauty.

I will get outside, in mid-afternoon, and we will find a spot for hiking, for an hour or so.  Then, I will change clothes quickly and we will head out for dinner- most likely in Little Italy.

I spoke, yesterday, of people departed during this 65th year of mine.  Some were friends of many years’ duration.  One was a cousin-in-law.  Too many of my friends lost a parent.  I sense the Divine Concourse is now that much fuller with well-wishers.

There were some goals fulfilled in the past twelve months:  I made it to southeast Alaska, Vancouver and Victoria, San Antonio’s missions, Santa Barbara and Panama City, FL.  Haida Gwai’i, upper Vancouver Island, Half Moon Bay, and Kelowna, BC remain on my radar.  I found a blessed spot, Aanacortes, WA, which could easily be the next Prescott in my life, should the Universe direct me outwardly. (No such move is imminent, though.)

I did not have any further association with Mountain Oak School, but proximity to Mingus Springs School has led me to close a significant gap in my skill set, and if nothing else, my value to school systems in general increases with the elementary teaching certificate that I will obtain, within the next month.

My Faith community is more focused, and I will be active in that process.  Also more focused is my work with essential oils, and business cards, at long last, will bear my name and hint at my skill set.

So, as the journey begins anew, I look outside at a beautiful San Diego day, and see what my life will face, going forward.  Tomorrow, a new year will find its basic outline.




The Road to 65, Mile 364: The Stuff That Matters


November 27, 2015, Chula Vista-  The brisk walk from Aram’s apartment to the area’s Costco was a two-mile round trip.  I carried a small box, with salad fixings and a brick of sharp cheddar.  I could have driven, or taken the bus.  Instead, I was inspired, both by my own tradition and by a tourist in New York, who preferred to walk uptown from One World Trade Center, so as to “see what I’m passing.”

Having made two long journeys, this past year, I can say I saw alot.  There are differences between the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast, but also key similarities.  Both are humid and moist.  Both have people who are passionately close to the sea.  Both require crossing starkly beautiful deserts, if one approaches by road or rail.  Both have compelling stories to share and both have celebratory traditions.  The Native Americans and First Nations peoples of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and southeast Alaska have civilized traditions and lore going back thousands of years.  So do the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Miccosukee, Alabama, and the hybrid nation we call the Seminole.  The story of the Aboriginals of North America matters, immensely.

Having hiked up Mt. Verstovia, along East Glacier Trail, six miles around Ketchikan, all over Manzanar, on two more segments of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, and along the Prescott Circle, not far from my place of residence, I feel continually blessed by nature, health and mobility.  The environment matters, enormously.

I spent time among the historical remnants of early European settlers and missionaries, in Santa Barbara, San Luis (now called Tallahassee) , San Antonio, Wrangell and Sitka.  They wreaked havoc on those they found in the area already, thinking that educating the “savages” and exploiting the natural resources were their twin obligations to King and Country.  Their successors followed suit, and I saw the results- some worthy of respect, (Tonopah, Bellingham and Moscow,ID), for the honest labour that modestly claimed a share of the resources of land and sea.  Others, like the ravaging of Native Peoples in Sitka and Hoonah, the slaughter of Chinese immigrants in Hells Canyon and the internment of Japanese-Americans, as recorded for posterity, at Manzanar and Poston, stand as reminders of just how far we have to go.  The historical record matters, tellingly.

I returned to work, towards the end of this, my 65th year, secondarily to recoup some of my financial resources, but primarily because the well-being of yet another rising generation needs whatever champions who can arise.  I will work another five years or so, as long as my health and the goodwill of the powers that be remain strong.  The people we call “Millennials” and “Generation Z” matter, beyond measure.

I will miss Margaret and Ardith Lambert, Tom Boyd, my Xanga friends who called themselves Inciteful and Sister Mae, and feel the losses of several friends’ parents, whom I never met, but sense their character, in the people their children, who are my friends, have become.  Losses matter, achingly.

I visit with my son, not as often as I would like, but when our mutual schedules permit.  I communicate with my immediate and extended families, again not as regularly as is desired, but often enough that we know we are there for one another.  I visited with an elder in Colorado, at the beginning of this year, attempted to spend time with another elder in Florida, though to no avail, and did visit with people I regard as family, in Alabama, Mississippi, California,Nevada, Washington and Alaska.  Family loves, quarrels, understands, misunderstands, hides, seeks and ultimately stays in bond.  Family matters, indelibly, and yes, to answer an online friend’s plaint- family includes friends.

Central to all has been Faith.  Looking back at the past 6 1/2 decades, I could never have survived my own missteps and foibles, or the trials sent my way, without knowing that there is something greater, Someone Indestructible, always seeing and caring.  Belief, and the Faith Community, matter, in primacy.

So, my road to 65 nears an end.  It has been vast, long, alternately wide and narrow, by turns straight and curving.  It started at the end of a year of intense expansion of personal boundaries and ends at the beginning of a year of unknowns.  Decisions made by others will figure greatly in my course of action.  Time goes on.


The Road to 65, Mile 363: Thankfulness and Grace


November 26, 2015, San Diego-  Every so often, the American Thanksgiving conflates with other occasions of import.  In 2013, for example, Thanksgiving and my 63rd birthday occurred on the same day. 😀

On other years, such as this one, we Baha’is observe the Day of the Covenant, along with Thanksgiving.  The former is a celebration of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and His immediate successor as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  It is so named because ‘Abdu’l-Baha stressed loyalty and obedience to the written Will and Testament of His Father, a document entitled Kitab-i-Ahd, or Book of the Covenant, over loyalty and obedience to a given human being.  This aspect of our Faith has proven its worth, time and again.

Mirza Abbas Effendi-e- Nuri was born on May 23, 1844.  As he was coming into the world, His Father’s Herald, al-Bab, was proclaiming His own Message to humanity:  It was coming time for all mankind to unite, and He was to prepare the human race for One Who would show the way that this could be done.  Abbas Effendi was given the title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Servant of Light), when He was nine years old, and was the first to recognize His Father’s station, as the Messenger of God for this day and age.

‘Abdu’l-Baha forbade celebrations of His birthday on May 23, but reluctantly agreed to observances that celebrated His life, while focusing on the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, the promulgation of which was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s prmary focus, during His twenty-nine years as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  Thus, each November 26 has been dedicated to that purpose.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for having been guided to this spiritual path, and to the perfect example set by ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  His are larger shoes than any of us can hope to fill, but it is worth the effort, for the sake of developing and strengthening our virtues.  They guided me to my marriage, to the birth and raising of our son, in whose company I celebrated another marvelous Day of Thanks and to the various friends and places of joy which I have been fortunate to meet and see, over the past thirty-four years.



The Road to 65, Mile 362: Passing Through Yuma


November 25, 2015, Chula Vista-  After getting my Nissan serviced, and a few other errands, which are always necessary before departing Prescott, I headed down the mountain, towards San Diego, and a holiday weekend with the most important person in my life.

This time, I opted for a twist.  Turning onto AZ 95 south, at Quartzsite, in Arizona’s Outback, I headed down to the southwest AZ city of Yuma, underrated largely because of its status as the hottest spot, in a state that is very hot from May to October.

Nowadays, though, Yuma is very, very pleasant, and it was quite cool, when I rolled up Prison Hill, for a walk around the East Wetlands and along the exterior of Yuma Territorial Prison Historical State Park (about which, more, on my next visit in mid-March).

The Wetlands trail takes the walker down to the Colorado River, which is in fairly good shape right now.  Here are a few scenes of what I encountered. (These are what the new and improved Word Press offers as a photo collage, under Windows 10.  Just click on the photo, to see the caption.)

The rest of the journey was spent navigating high speed, rather frenetic holiday fellow travelers:  Crowded road from Yuma to El Centro, a bit quieter from there to Alpine and bustling again, until I got to Chula Vista.  In Alpine, I enjoyed a decent Gyro plate at Greek Village Grill, which sits tucked away in a restaurant mini-mall, on the south end of downtown.  The town itself looks worthy of further exploration, when it is light out.

For now, as indicated above and at the second from lower right, I will be happily celebrating Thanksgiving, the Day of the Covenant (see next post) and the 65th anniversary of the arrival of a squawling, but eventually happy, baby boy.

The Road to 65, Mile 361: Paper Turkeys


November 24, 2015, Chino Valley- Today was the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break.  The concept of a two-day work week is a bit foreign to me, but I will take it, gladly.   It’s the season of my birth, after all. I had the kids do homework, last night, and maintained my regular teaching regimen today, with one adjustment:  Many children treasure the idea of making paper turkeys and Pilgrims. So, we spent the afternoon class hour, before P.E., following tradition. One little girl made an Indian headband, with a paper feather sticking out.  Some made separate turkeys and Pilgrims.  Others designed turkeys wearing an Elizabethan-Era hat.

This sort of fun activity, for elementary school students, harms nothing and no one.  Some will say that “The truth about the Pilgrims must be told!”  Yes, it does need telling, and to people who are of an age at which the black, the white and the gray can all be processed, and sifted out.  Sharing such information, too soon in a person’s life, is exactly what has brought on the excesses of Political Correctness.

The Pilgrims and Puritans were dour, narrow-minded people, as regarded those of other faith traditions, both European and Aboriginal American.  So, too, were the Spanish and Portuguese.  Many of the Founders of the United States were slaveholders, men of their time.  The best of these slaveholders were progressive in other ways, and some educated their chattel-people.  None of that excuses their slaveholding, but therein lies a tale of lives lived in the gray.

I teach older students, when I am with them, to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water, as it were.  There has been, is, and will be, no public figure, aside from the Messengers of God, who is a paragon of perfection.  Every person worthy of emulation also has aspects of his/her life that are less than savory, even despicable.  So, one must choose the good elements, and sift out the bad- Wheat from chaff, as The Christ told us.

I will long adhere to things like playing Hallowe’en and Christmas songs, encouraging holiday art, and having birthday parties, when a child’s parents request them.  Childhood should not be frayed at the edges.  It’s when we have time to learn who we are, and build a firm foundation for life’s course.

Bring on the paper turkeys!

The Road to 65, Mile 360: In-Gatherings


November 23, 2015, Chino Valley-  There are all manner of get-togethers this time of year, and this little town will have its share, including one that I will visit only briefly, on Dec. 5, before I head down to Tucson, for another brief visit.

Time is tight, in the Christmas season, as both celebrations and the business of the day must get their fair share of one’s attention.  Then, there are online and telephone “meetings”, to which I devote myself for 15,30 or 60 minutes, based largely on my intuition, as to the other party’s state of mind.

From time to time, I come back into contact with people I knew as a child and teen.  Old friends from Xanga and long-lost relatives also surface, when least expected.  Each of them has done me some good, just by having been in my life, at some point.  It is interesting to see how each of them are doing, as well.

I spent about thirty minutes, on Saturday, messaging a childhood neighbour, back and forth.  He has had his share of hard times, and it sounded like life could be better for him, even now.  This all made me feel far more fortunate, despite the travails of 2003-11. If I ever get to his neck of the woods, I will certainly call on him, and he’s always welcome here.  Heck, you all are- just not all at once. 🙂

The Road to 65, Mile 359: That Which Brings A Smile


November 22, 2015, Prescott- This is the last day of Positivity Week, and I have been asked to mention those people and things in my life which make me smile.

So, in no particular order:  My students, and hearing them sing and struggle with the winter song that is associated with the coming holidays.  I know they will sound just fine, with practice, by concert time.

The antics of teens in the neighbourhood Skate Park.  They have mastered some moves that I would look frightful doing, and they do nothing wrong, while there.
“Peanuts”, and other such remnants of the days when childhood was indeed a world apart.  I know the teacher is made to look non-existent, but that’s part of the allure.Mission Inn

Pets, and their silliness.  The love of an animal keeps a lot of people sane, who would otherwise be underwater, emotionally.

The ambiance of places like Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, and Tucson, at this time of year.  Even Riverside, CA will command a stop, when I head back here from San Diego, next Sunday. Mission Inn has a legendary holiday display.  Our Courthouse Square, though, sets the mould.

The cards I am getting, in advance of my hexagenarian midpoint.  I am always grateful for those who help me “ring in” my personal New.

Positivity Week is now drawing to a close, but a positive spirit need never do so.


The Road to 65, Mile 358: Positivity Outside


November 21, 2015, Prescott- I looked, to no avail, for a parking spot near the point where I left off on Prescott Circle, last Saturday.  I have an ethic about such things:  Never park on a business lot, unless patronizing said business.  So, the second half of Segment 7 will wait until after Thanksgiving, most likely until the afternoon of December 6.

That bit of irrelevance aside, the outdoors, as is well known to my readers, is a huge part of my life.  Positivity arises from the mountains, the desert, the beaches, the grasslands and the serene forests.  Even the ocean has given me a sense of serenity.

Sedona’s red rocks and pine forests abound in good vibrations, as do “our own” forests, lakes and grasslands, around Prescott and vicinity. The vortices of Sedona are closely matched by Thumb Butte.

I have felt similar vibrations elsewhere:  At Indian Gardens, along the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail; at both Spirit (“Devil’s”) Tower and Medicine Wheel, in northeast Wyoming; at Cahokia Mounds and at the Cairo Confluence, in southern Illinois; at Palo Duro Canyon, in northwest Texas; at Cape Flattery, Washington (the northwestern-most point in the contiguous United States; atop Harney Peak, South Dakota; at several points along Waikiki Beach, Hawai’i; and at more places than I can count, in southeast Alaska.  Then, too, Spirit knows no boundaries:  Stanley Park, Vancouver, the woods of Metz and Le Donjon, Rouen, France, held me in rapt respect.

The wind spoke to me, while on the ocean between Honolulu and San Diego and the rock along the River Trail glowed, in multicolours, when I first visited Palo Duro.  Spiders rode the breeze, on their webs, at Cathedral Rock, Sedona and spun exquisite places of rest in Olustee State Park, Florida, while I watched, in wonder.

There will, no doubt, be other encounters on the road ahead.  Nature eternally urges us onward.