Bell Trail


February 28, 2016, Rimrock, AZ- I spent yesterday, it seemed, with fork or spoon in my hand, from 2-6 P.M.  There were three gatherings:  The first, a lovely afternoon tea, was the big meal of the day, it turned out.  Then, there was a small gathering at a local bakery (I had a cup of soup),followed by an appearance at a chili cook-off. The last one only had smatterings left, so the meal ended up being, thankfully, paltry- though, being chili, it was full-on tasty.

So, today, I headed off to visit some long-time friends near Montzeuma Well, a beautiful and refreshing extension of Montezuma Castle National Monument, on the northeast end of the town of Rimrock.  Further northeast, still, lies Bell Trail, which sometimes parallels the Verde River tributary of Beaver Creek, and sometimes follows a path down to the creek.

So, after a light lunch, and visiting with the family as a group, while they put together a rabbit hutch, for Hako,



I headed out, with one of the family members, to explore Bell Trail.  The various stops,along the trail, gave much time for meditation, even as I listened to my friend’s stories of adventure, both home and in far off lands.  I shared a few of my own, along the same lines.


Sandstone formations, off Bell Trail


Sandstone “fortress”, off Bell Trail.

The trail ended at “The Crack”, an overlook and creek access point that is popular with students from Northern Arizona University, as well as local youth.  The whitewater of a currently deep Beaver Creek is visible  above, at lower left.  While we we there, about a dozen youth were there, and several more were en route, as we took the return trail.  It was tempting to get in the water, with temperatures in the upper 70’s, though when we stuck our hands in the creek, it felt like the water was about 55.  That didn’t stop some of the younger folks from jumping in, though!

The afternoon was another well-spent day on the trail.  I also thoroughly enjoyed my hiking companion’s stories of time spent in  China, Tibet, and the Navajo Nation.  Many of the latter experiences I shared, having been among the Navajo and Hopi, for 11 years.



February 26, 2016, Prescott- Today is the first of four Intercalary Days, celebrated by members of the Baha’i Faith, as days of charity, gift-giving and fellowship. The proper name for this short period is Ayyam-i-Ha, or “Days of Giving”.  It is followed by a Fast, of nineteen days, on which I’ve written before, and will again.  Our Fast has some similarities to Lent, Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days, as well as its own unique character.

Intercalary means “in-between calendar months”.  Our Baha’i calendar, properly called the Badi Calendar, has nineteen months of nineteen days each.  In the past, we would have four days of intercalary in 365- day years  and five days,  in a Leap Year. The calendar has now been synchronized, world-wide, so that our Holy Days will be based on the occurrence of the new moon, and thus will fall on different dates each year.  The Intercalary Period, therefore, will be four days a year, regardless of a year’s actual length.

Personally, this month and next, are rather lean, so my charity and gift-giving come more in the form of time and energy, this year. I’d rather have it that way, actually, as we humans sometimes value each other more on what things people bring and how much money they give.  I’ve lost a few friends, over the years, because I didn’t contribute, financially, to their efforts or causes.  Then again, were they really friends, in the first place?


Today, I will shortly set out and see what is happening downtown, and visit one of my favourite journaling haunts- either the Courthouse lawn, or one of the coffee houses that so wonderfully grace our central area.  This evening features two gatherings, and tomorrow- three.  I have, on such occasions, developed the art of selective grazing- each of these affairs is centered around food- and refined my conversational skills, which, for much of my life, have been halting, at best.

It’ll be a fine weekend, at any rate, and will have its share of acts of service.



35. con-artist, puberty, spider venom, Cheetos.

February 25, 2016, Prescott- I didn’t work today, but I did receive my renewed Fingerprint Clearance Card- good until 2022.  Getting it to the three district offices was the order of the afternoon.

A bit of verse, in celebration.

Lydia finds that Red Hot Cheetos are a cheerful mid-morning snack.

Since she underwent puberty, and has since carried around a full egg sac.

Standing on four of her eight legs, she tries to crawl up the denim.

The shrieks are deafening, from the girls, afraid of spider venom.

Lydia, you see, is a tarantula, and quite the con-artist.

She only need appear, and send the humans scattering.

Munching on a Cheeto or two,

Not what I’d call working her hardest.

The web can wait, until the bugs and flies stop chattering.



February 24, 2016, Prescott-  In “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Scout reminds one of the racist men that he, too, is a father.  The man then walks away from a hateful mob.  I was reminded of that scene, this evening, when a “racially-mixed” couple made a presentation, on their experience living here in this largely Libertarian city.  It seems that, not so many years ago, a noose was tied and left hanging, from a tree branch in their front yard.  While many treat them well, there are those I have historically viewed as misfits, trying to make those they view as square pegs, fit into round holes of their imaginations.

We each set a noose to a tree, at some point in our lives. Usually, it’s the noose of blame- intended for someone else, as a way of evading responsibility.  Sometimes, it’s the noose of “Us vs. Them”.  Other times, the “wagons in a circle” noose hangs, from the branch of imbalance.  We certainly see lots of these, of late.

The worst nooses of all, though, are those we set for ourselves.  The noose of anger, or that of addiction, lead us to swing from some unsightly branches.  The noose of self-pity, now, there’s one I have to work especially hard to keep off my neck, at times.

I am getting better at facing such traps, and cutting them down, before finding myself looking at a victim- or being one.  It’s been nearly 24 years since we heard, from a flawed, but cogent, voice:  “Can’t we all just get along?”



February 23, 2016, Prescott- 

Northern lights, prehensile, love in all its forms, dish soap

I have often struggled, over the years, to understand the motives and behaviour of my contemporaries and certain of my elders.  Children and teens, especially since I have “grown up” are easier to “grasp”, in terms of what makes them tick.

I have done better in understanding people of all ages, over the past five or six years, having seen, firsthand,  how stress and anxiety can lead good people to hurt others.  God knows, I have dished out a few hurts, myself, and also because of stress.

Lubricants, of various kinds, from dish soap to sweet nothings, can ease much pain and lend to the solution of all kinds of problems.  Their partner in so doing is love, in all its forms.  I have written about love, of course, most recently on Valentine’s Day.  The expected earful, about love being far more than mere romance, was not long in coming.  To me, the fact is that love is the basis for the existence of the Universe.

The Creator’s Love for His creatures is evident in everything that is good, and in all the challenges that beset us, as well.  Some have faced sufficient challenges in this life, as to want to throw things at me, for having said this.  It remains, however, that challenges and problems are frequently the vehicles to illumination and understanding.  A physical example lies in the solar storms and flares that,,apparent.

I will write further about those realizations that have come to me, through trial, especially over the past twenty six years.  It is my goal to give rest to the adage, “There’s no fool like an old fool.”

The Weevils Don’t Stand A Chance


February 21, 2016, Prescott-


24. tower, kettle, hawk, charm, cotton

This little verse is about a tower, and the fields below.

A group of slaves found themselves set free,

The tower once home to their masters,

Became theirs to oversee.

The crop they grew was cotton,

Their fields were often sodden.

The moisture also led to evil,

in the form of  dreadful weevils.

Now, the ex-captives were not simple-minded,

nor to solutions were they blinded.

On a cool spring morning,

they met and talked.

Of a sudden,

they heard a squawk.

The tower’s roof

was now home to a hawk.

“How do we get our bird friend

to like weevils?”, one mused.

“Let us spread some kettle corn!”,

another newly freed man enthused.

“This will draw some swamp rats in,

the hawk will swoop down and feast on the vermin.

Once the rats have been decimated,

the raptor will seek another way to be sated.

He will spot the busy weevils,

make several meals of them,

and the cotton, reap, we will!”

So it went, that the men worked hard,

their own well-being, to safeguard.

They managed to charm some ladies from town,

and families soon sprang up.

The team was no longer trodden down.


My Life Thus Far: The Eighties


February 20, 2016, Prescott- Today was spent in spiritual study, and an hour or so will be so used, tomorrow afternoon.  All of this was initiated by my beloved, and because of her, the decade of my thirties brought a whole new outlook on life.  The 1980’s were one of the two best decades of this life, up to now.

1980-High Point:  Meeting Penny (December 6)

Low Point:  Scrambling to find housing in Flagstaff (September)

People in the heart:  Penny Fellman, my future wife; my Flagstaff housemates, Mohammed Saeedi, Chris Lugenbuhl and Carol Vireday; the anonymous guys who gave me rides, to/from Oregon; my Mesa friends, the Lunts.

Places in the heart: Flagstaff;  Durango; Zuni; San Diego; Laguna Beach; Redwood National Park; Hebo, OR; Portland; Eugene; Crater Lake; San  Luis Obispo; Santa Barbara.

1981- High Point:  My entry into the Baha’i Faith.

Low Point:  Our temporary break-up.

People in the heart:  Penny; the Cordova family; the Beausoleils; the Travises; Mishabae Mahoney; Hilde Mc Cormick; John Carrillo (my office mate and sounding board); my first nephew and niece, Chris and Marcy.

Places in the heart:  Flagstaff; Tuba City; Dinnebito, AZ; Capitol Reef National Park; Natural Bridges National Monument; San Diego; Julian.

1982- High Points:  Our wedding (June 6); our Baha’i Pilgrimage (June 16- 30).

Low Point: Getting organized into a household.

People in the heart:  My wife; both Moms and Dads; the San Diego Baha’i Community; the Tong family; the staff of the Baha’i World Centre; the Baha’is of London; my mentor at Northland Pioneer College.

Places in the heart:  Tuba City; San Diego; Julian; Dinnebito; Bedminster, NJ; Jerusalem; Haifa; Akko; Bethlehem; London; Canterbury;  Saugus; Bedminster; Standoff, AB; Yellowstone National Park; Bozeman, MT.

1983- High Points:  The Wildfire Conference, at De Pauw University; Baha’i teaching in southern New Mexico and Metro El Paso; my brother, Glenn’s wedding.

Low Point:  My Nana died.

People in the heart:  Penny ( and this goes without saying, until the day she passed); the Baha’is of Tuba City, Dinnebito, Jemez, Phoenix, Las Cruces, El Paso and Chicago; the Biernackes, of El Paso; my second niece, Melanie; my second nephew, Jeff.

Places in the heart:  Tuba City; Dinnebito; Blue Canyon, AZ; Jemez Springs; Durango, CO; Silverton; Ouray; Great Sand Dunes National Park; Chama; Santa Fe; Albuquerque; Chicago; Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL; Greencastle, IN; Las Cruces; Berino, NM; El Paso; Fabens, TX; Andover, MA.

1984- High Points:  Baha’i teaching in Guyana, Pine Ridge, SD and Macy, NE.

Low Point: The passing of Gordon Tong, our Baha’i friend and mentor.

People in the heart:  Our Guyanese  hosts; the people of Pine Ridge and of the Omaha Nation; our friends and our co-workers on the Navajo Nation; Elizabeth Dahe and her family; our  hosts in Houston and Oklahoma; my third nephew, Nick.

Places in the heart:  Tuba City; Burntwater, AZ; Houston; Ada, OK; Georgetown, Bath, Whim and Meten meer zorg, GY; New York; Macy, NE; Wanblee, Pine Ridge, and Martin, SD; Fort Collins, CO.

1985- High Point:  Both sets of parents visiting.

Low Points:  The deaths of three Navajo boys, in two separate accidents; our separation, while Penny was in Graduate School ( a month is a long time).

People in the heart:  Our parents; Jeff and Helen Kiely; the Baha’is of Dinnebito and Ganado, AZ; my third niece, Kim; my fourth nephew, Matt.

Places in the heart:  Tuba City; Flagstaff; Dinnebito; Polacca, AZ; Red Rock State Park, OK; Effingham, IL; Columbus, OH; Michigan City, IN; Wilmette and Evanston, IL; Grand Canyon; Lake Powell; Prescott; Montezuma’s Castle National Monument; Sedona; Phoenix.

1986- High Point: Our move to Jeju, South Korea, for Penny’s work, as Visiting Professor.

Low Point:  My father’s passing.

People in the heart:  Our parents; my siblings, our extended family; my fifth nephew, Curtis; our friends and co-workers in Arizona and in South Korea.

Places in the heart:  Tuba City; Los Angeles; Seoul, Songtan and Jeju, South Korea; Saugus.

1987- High Point:  My hiring as Visiting Professor, in Jeju.

Low Point:  Having to leave Penny behind for a month, to get a work visa.

People in the heart:  Our Korean colleagues, students and friends; three surviving parents;  our siblings; our friends in Flagstaff.

Places in the heart:  Jeju, Muan, Pusan and Seoul, South Korea; Los Angeles; Portland; Seattle; Butte; Madison, WS; Chicago; Wilmette, IL; Saugus; Bedminster; Greenville and Simpsonville, SC; New Orleans; Phoenix; Honolulu; Tokyo.

1988-High Point: The birth of our son, Aram (July 7).

Low Point:  None, actually.

People in the heart:  Aram (from this point on); the Baha’is of Jeju;  Dr. Kim Chung Hak; our students;  our hosts and friends in Taiwan; Penny’s parents (who flew to Korea for Aram’s birth).

Places in the heart:  Jeju; Pusan; Tsaot’un, Chungli, Taich’ung and T’aipei, Taiwan;

1989- High Point:  Bringing Aram to the United States, to meet our family.

Low Point:  Feeling threatened, while visiting Maine.

People in the heart:  Our extended family; our students; the Baha’is of Jeju and Seoul.

            Places in the heart:  Jeju; Anchorage; New York, Bedminster; Saugus; Lynn, MA; Eliot, ME.

So, while visiting Durango, in November, 1980, I had this inkling that I was ready to meet someone special.  It didn’t happen that weekend, nor on my 30th birthday trip to San Diego.  It was on an Anthropology class trip to Zuni, where Penny and I first connected.  Turns out, she also had had a vision, while meditating on a mesa above her residence in Keams Canyon, AZ, where she was teaching at the time.  The message said that she, too, would meet someone.

Our on again, off again, 18-month friendship became a marriage that lasted, physically, for 29 years.  I believe in the eternity of marriage, and though she’s gone from Earth, we still connect, daily.  We had our ups and downs, especially in the early years, but never went to bed angry with one another.

My entry into the Baha’i Faith helped me cast out the demon of alcohol dependency, and put me on a path to dealing with my larger demon, of self-doubt.  Baha’u’llah has opened up many powerful channels within me- at least I feel them.

Aram’s arrival made me be responsible for someone other than the two of us.  Raising him to adulthood was the only big task that God has ever given me.  While I wasn’t the greatest father to have been given the bounty, I gave it a good, solid effort and he is an amazing young man.

We traveled a lot, the two of us, then the three of us, mostly in service to our Faith and to visit family. The Eighties were a decade of primarily air travel, though crowding into a Peugeot, and then a lorry (truck), in Guyana, was quite an adventure.  Our Toyota Tercel got quite a workout, those four years we lived in Tuba City.  It became a young lady’s first car, when we moved to Korea.

Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Sites, in Haifa and Akko, Israel was the seminal defining point of the decade.  Our marriage, and the birth of our son, six years later, were entirely safeguarded by our having begun life together, in this manner.

The Nineties would be a second amazing decade.



Fear Factors


February 19, 2016, Prescott- This week has been a bit rough, although work resumed for two days and I did have a nice dinner with friends, last night.  The difficult part has come from the number of attacks, two of them pointedly personal, that have come my way this week.  Last night, I received a written death threat, which I take only mildly seriously.  The person in question has neither the physical or financial wherewithal to put an end to my life.  Today, someone on another medium said that, unless I supported building a wall on the Mexican border, I was not entitled to claim citizenship.

We have devolved into a “my way or no way” mentality.  It’s not just in the United States, that this is happening.  Europe is finding itself overwhelmed.  India and Indonesia are experiencing the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, to say nothing of what is going on in Africa and western Asia.  Mexico has been rigid, in not letting migrants come in from Central America, or from Cuba, for that matter.  Even a small nation like Nicaragua puts those seeking a better life, in detention camps.

Otherwise good people are turning on others, mostly out of fear- that their livelihoods will be lost, that their families’ safety will be at risk and, more existentially, that all they cherish and believe will be upended.

I have three thoughts on this whole phenomenon.

1.  Remember the French Revolution.  In a nutshell (no pun intended), the common people rid themselves of leaders who looked upon them as less than human.  After that, there was no game plan, except to continue the carnage, until the Revolutionaries had decimated their own ranks- and Napoleon stepped in, restored a monarchy and only slight improvements had been made in the public weal.

2.  “The Earth is but one country, and Mankind its citizens”- Baha’u’llah

We do best to see all other people and nations as our relatives, by extension.  There need to be rules, sane and intelligent boundaries, and no one should enter another’s home, without leave of the owner.  Each family, city or town, county, state/province, and nation is entitled to having its boundaries, and its laws, respected.  Nonetheless, there cannot be the sort of racism or ethnocentrism that only perpetuates misery.  There also cannot be the economic colonialism that demands people in one country suffer, so that people in other countries can indulge themselves with habit-forming drugs that foment death and destruction, both for the people around the producers and for the consumers.

3.  Everyone is entitled to seek the truth of spiritual, intellectual and metaphysical matters for themselves.

Groups have arisen, from ISIS to the American Tea Party, that rely on fear and loathing to keep their agendas moving forward.  Again, I refer you to the late, unlamented Jacobins.  The Ku Klux Klan, Khmer Rouge, National Socialists, the “Know Nothings”, and various tribal armies-of-slaughter, throughout history, have followed the same path- sometimes with deadly violence, other times with the violence of the mind.  In both cases that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my response was immediate- I will think, and speak, for myself.  I have served the United States of America, and will not give up my citizenship; nor will I ask that of my critic, who was born here, also.  I will follow my own schedule, protocol and regimen, with regard to my daily life, and not give in to threats, of any kind.

The challenge, before us all, is to put fear in its place.

One Wednesday’s Window


February 17, 2016, Prescott- I sense a false Spring, which nonetheless has given me good vibrations, and a fair amount of fresh energy.

#23.  tea, tiger, night, train, television, tie

It was on the night train to Amsterdam, that Jean Corneille tucked a napkin into his brocade shirt, and looked out the window of his closed compartment. He enjoyed a light repast, followed by a cup of tea.  Monsieur Corneille, descended from French literary royalty, had no interest in the writer’s craft.  He was a television director, true, but his interest was in the action on the set.  Scripts bored him.

As he watched the passing night scenes of various villages in Picardy and Flandres, Jean began to concoct his own scenarios.  He viewed a series of railroad ties, dimly lit by the overhead lights, outside Lille. His mind wandered back to the ridiculous American melodramas of the 1920’s, in which snickering, one-dimensional villains, with curled mustaches and a banker’s business dress of the time, would tie up similarly one-dimensional young women on railroad tracks.  The ladies would ever be rescued, just ahead of the thundering train, by a one-dimensional, muscle-bound hero.  The villain invariably muttered, “Curses, foiled again!”

Nothing M. Corneille put forth on TeleParis was one dimensional.  He was determined his program’s viewers would have to think about what they were watching. His mind focused on making a three-dimensional, thought-provoking update of the Hero-Damsel-Villain triangle.

As the train left Tournai, and headed into Belgium, he spotted a cage being loaded onto one of the freight cars.  He heard a faint, but distinct, purring.  Jean figured it was another of those contraband pets, rescued from some drug lord or money launderer, headed to a major zoo:  Brussels, perhaps; Amsterdam, or Berlin.  His mind went back to the melodrama.

The train had proceeded uneventfully through Belgium, and had just crossed into the Netherlands, when Jean, who had nodded off, was awakened by a series of shouts, coming from the third class car, behind his.  “Mon Dieu”, he sniffed, “what on Earth are those peasants mewling about, this time?”

His upturned nose was brought a bit lower, when the conductor ran into the first class car, followed by ten frantic, screaming passengers- and the tiger, who had escaped from his cage and managed to leave the freight car, as well.

Jean, seeing a true opportunity for a ratings smash, raised himself up into the top berth of his compartment, edged over to the door, and opened it- drawing the tiger’s attention.  The big cat abandoned his chase and warily entered the compartment.  After initially trying to stand on hind legs and sniff at the well-concealed Jean Corneille, the beast lied down on the floor and rested.

Dutch authorities tranquilized the tiger, at Rotterdam Central Station, and took him off, back into a cage.  Five months later, Jean Corneille won several awards for his televised account of the Wednesday Night Ride.  He has visited his co-star, twice, at the small zoo of Utrecht.


Prescott Circle Trail: Lingering Snowpack


February 15, 2016, Prescott-  I spent yesterday afternoon not being a nuisance to anyone, and finishing my walkabout of Segment 6, on the Prescott Circle Trail.  Long segments, such as this, can be broken into two manageable hikes.  Today, I started at the trailhead that lies across a narrow, but busy, highway from Goldwater Lake.  There was plenty of parking in the dirt lot, so by 1 PM, I was bound for the point at which I stopped on my last visit to this route.

The first part of the trail was dry, which was fine by me, as it was also the closest thing the trail offered to being steep.  Mud, and snowpack, came a bit later, and were a constant, for the length of the trail.  There are seven “fingers” of Government Canyon that impact this section of trail, but not as much up and down, as in the eastern part of the canyon.

Two hours after I started, the segment’s end came, at the three-way junction of Prescott Circle, Boy Scout Trail and Turley Trail.  Boy Scout leads to Walker Road, near Lynx Lake.  Turley, whose trailhead is a mile east of my house, brings one back towards downtown.

With my car back near Goldwater Lake, I tooled around the back country of Government Canyon, for about an hour, then headed in reverse.

Here are a few scenes from this workout, which resulted in 10 miles, altogether.


Western end of Segment 6, Prescott Circle Trail

Above, are two views of Goldwater Lake, which has upper(left) and lower (right) halves.


Snow appeared frequently, along the north side of the canyon, as one might expect.


Snowfield, on east side of “finger” Number 3, Government Canyon.

I reached my turn-around point (left), and felt the urge to look around.  So, I did an extra loop, including this limestone outcropping, on Seven-Mile Gulch Trail.  This became a two-mile loop.

The return hike was not strenuous, and I made it back to the west-facing section of trail, in time for a glorious sunset.


Sunset near Goldwater Lake, Prescott, February 14, 2016.

So it is that I have completed half of the Prescott Circle Trail.  In truth, though, with trails, one is never “done”.  The stunning scenery is here for anyone who needs a lift.