Prescott Circle Trail: Tales of Two Segments

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March 13, 2016, Prescott- “It is not yours to keep, this ever-changing trail”- Laura and the Killed Men, “The Ever-Changing Trail” (All rights reserved, Laura Kepner- Adney and Sam Golden, 2015).

I sat, joyfully, in one of my favourite evening live music venues, The Raven Cafe, and listened to this Tucson country-folk band’s first set.  The line above is from their a capella set closer.

They excel with instruments, also.

Include the video, as it happened that the evening was a fine counterpoint to two hikes I took this weekend, on Prescott Circle Trail.  Yesterday afternoon, the spontaneity of which I wrote, a few posts ago, kicked in.  I accepted the urge to do a “fill-in-the blank” hike, to the top of Badger Peak, which is circumnavigated by Section 7 of the Circle.  The peak is also called “P” Mountain, owing to the large white first letter of my adopted town’s name.

Here are some scenes.  The first two were taken from the access road, to which I transferred from Prescott Circle, at the half-way mark to the summit.

The third photo shows a communications station, atop the peak.  The white circular arrangement is the top of the P.  There is no access to the arrangement, in its entirety, without permission of the Yavapai Nation, which owns the mountain.  The final photo shows Watson Lake and the Granite Dells, from the summit.  This hike was four miles, round trip.

This afternoon, a friend, who had wanted my help with a remodeling project, postponed it until next week.  This gave rise to spontaneous hike # 2:  Segment 5 of the Circle.  It is a ten-mile round trip, something I’ve not done during the Fast.until today.  I was inspired in this by another friend, who is both older and physically smaller than I am, and who hikes and runs during this time period.  So, out of my comfort zone I went- with enough water on which to fall back, in the event I felt weak.  As it happened, that was not a problem, as the air was cool this afternoon, and the Sun was hidden by clouds, most of the time.

This segment goes from a point south of Upper Goldwater Lake, around the south and west shores of that body of water, above the west shore of Lower Goldwater Lake, which is closed to the public and through Prescott National Forest, to White Spar Campground. This hike was ten miles, round trip.  Sitting here tonight, I feel refreshed and focused.

Here are some scenes of Segment 5.

Note the “Tree-Pod”, on the right.

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Gray granite boulders, south of Goldwater Lake

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South shore, Upper Goldwater Lake

On the left are a pair of daisies, seen along the way, above Lower Goldwater Lake.  The heart-shaped stone memorial, on the right, is dedicated to the 19 firefighters who died at Yarnell Hill, in June, 2013.  It is atop a ridge, 1 1/4 miles southeast of White Spar campground.

The Sierra Prieta range can be seen from Monument Ridge.  On the right, is the trailhead at White Spar Campground.  I spent only ten minutes, resting, at this very full facility.  There were 2 hours’ back journey left.

On the way back, I stopped for several minutes at this lovely nook, Banning Creek.

 

There had been a fair crowd here, when I was headed towards White Spar.  When I returned, only one lone bicyclist and I had the place to ourselves- and he was about to leave.  I saw very few other people, the rest of the way, until I got back to Upper Goldwater.

Now, with the next two weekends booked, I will wait until April to take on the next segments of Prescott Circle- unless things get canceled and spontaneity calls.

Embered Waves of Brain

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March 12, 2016, Prescott-   I have often wondered why my mildly autistic brain will start crackling and popping, often at the worst of times.  It is usually when I figure myself to be alone, and not accountable to anyone else.  I never am alone, in such circumstances.  There is always an outlier, or two, around, to observe, and shake their heads.  Because of them, I have a better awareness of my surroundings, and control over my thoughts and attendant behaviour.

Baha’u’llah teaches to not be the cause of sorrow to any soul, nor to be the plaything of the foolish.  We are, essentially, to be good in groups, and seek the unity of the human race.  The basis for all this is scientific, as well as social.  So, when reading, today, of the types of brain waves that human beings experience, a lot more made sense to me- about my own behaviour, and that of anyone else.  My thanks to Dr. Joe Dispenza,  (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself) for the refresher on this topic, which I first learned, in 1974, from Dr. Saul Balagura, at the University of Massachusetts.

It goes like this:

Delta waves-These are the lowest frequency brain waves, occurring in infants and those in deep sleep.  They are also the default waves of one who is in deep meditation.  I’ve had a few people in my life who would swear, on a stack of Holy Books, that I am in permanent Delta mode.

Theta waves- These are found in toddlers and people who are in a hypnotic state. When one is drowsy, neither totally awake nor asleep, Theta waves are in control.

Alpha waves- Children between ages 5-8 experience these waves.  So do adults and youth who are in a light meditative state.  One is concerned primarily, in this state, with the inner reality.  I often lose track of where my car is, in a large parking lot, if I go into Alpha mode, when headed for the building without making note of my location.

Beta waves- These are the waves that are most commonly experienced by “tweens”, teens and adults.  You guessed it, there are three levels of Beta.  People with high level Beta waves are spring-loaded, tense, in a hair-trigger mode.  There is intense analysis of even the most mundane of events.  It is exhausting to be in constant High Beta mode.

Gamma waves-  These are the highest frequency brain waves, limited to Scarlett Johansson’s character, in the film, Lucy Jim Carrey’s character, in Bruce Almighty, and those who use hallucinogenic substances.  Gamma people are at the highest level of sensory awareness, which is likely not maintainable for any appreciable length of time.

My interest in this area stems from both a desire to better understand my own occasional lapses and to use brain waves to formulate deeper behavioural change, which I am told is possible, with proper meditation.

My Life Thus Far: Lessons Learned from “The Aughts”

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March 11, 2016, Prescott- Today’s been rather a fine day.  The AARP Tax-Aid Center did the honours, this year, and I gauged things properly, as it happens.  It was a fine thing to watch a noble send-off for Nancy Reagan.  Shortly, I will head to a Spaghetti Dinner/ Drum Circle, at the home of some Chino Valley friends.

I want to address the single most challenging decade of my life, a bit differently than I have the others.  The high points/low points are getting a bit tedious, and I have mentioned people and places in the heart, to the point of repetition.

The major feature of any time of great challenge is: “What have you learned?”  Here goes:

2000:  1.  Pundits make poor prognosticators.  2.  The wealthy can be quite down-to-Earth, especially when hosting. 3.  Taking a southern route doesn’t always result in avoiding snow.

2001:  1.  Troubled people can sometimes network, and bring about calamity.  In fact, they can be very surreptitious about it. (Mingus Mountain Academy, February and the Wayward Planes, September).  2.  No matter how shattering a calamity in my life, I will find a way forward. (Forced out of work one day, in a new job three days later.)

2002:  1.  Everyone’s child is precious.(In this horrific year of assaults and kidnappings of girls, this was especially vividly accented.) 2.  Girls can be spot-on, in getting the drop on their abductors (Think Kyla Pratt, Philadelphia and the two teens in Los Angeles). 3.  Just because the landlord says so, doesn’t make it so. (Mid-lease attempt to up our pet rent was shot down by the City of Phoenix.)

2003: 1. Never take your eyes off someone so precious (Penny fell, when I was momentarily distracted by talking to another friend). 2.  No matter how noble an effort one is making to save others, focus on family first. (She fell a second time, while I was occupied with fighting serious bad actors on the Internet. This time, the gig was up and her decline began.) 3.  Honouring one’s elders is always a good thing. (Mom’s 75th was a bright spot, in this dark year. 4.  Working close to home is not always the best course of action. (Palo Verde Middle School)

2004:  1.  People are beginning to feel a disconnect with government, even down to the lowest level, i.e. school administrators. (The parent of a white student, who felt victimized by a black classmate, voiced the sense she was being dismissed out of hand, by the principal, at the school where I was working.) 2.  There is, related to that, a serious gap in communication, between different population groups. 3.  Never take a job, out of expedience.

2005:  1.  People, who are uncomfortable with physical disability, are not above bending the truth, or exaggerating, to get rid of a disabled employee.  2.  There is magic,still, in a full formal wedding, set in the mountains. (My eldest niece was married in the Mount Washington Hotel.) 3.  Justice, deferred, is still justice. ( A Justice of the Peace, who ignored the testimony of a deputy sheriff, in favour of well-connected people, who caused the accident that totaled Penny’s car, was himself removed from the bench, by the Superior Court, six months after having fined my wife.)

2006: 1.  As excruciating as it is, for the person being retired, there are some people who do their level best to offer a dignified retirement to a disabled worker. (Penny’s retirement was achieved in dignity, thanks to school district office personnel.) 2.  The advancement of knowledge is always amazing. (She moved on, and began working on her third Master’s Degree.) 3.  Having pride in one’s child graduating in summer is perfectly natural, and essential. (On his 18th birthday, our son showed that persistence was part of his nature, as well.  We honoured him fully.)

2007:  1. Putting together a Virtual Field Trip is an amazing experience.  (We flew to Atlanta, attended my oldest nephew’s wedding, then drove to various places, between Atlanta and Saugus, taking photos along the way. These were part of Penny’s technology education project.)  2.  Even the most reserved family members come through, in a pinch. (My taciturn sister-in-law put together a lovely 25th anniversary gathering for us and Penny’s gruff brother-in-law repaired her rickety wheelchair.  We got it replaced, once back to Arizona.)  3.  Driving in the pouring rain is probably not the best practice session for a teen driver. (The poor girl was in tears, after pulling out in front of me, on a South Carolina highway.  No harm was done, except maybe to her confidence.  The man in the passenger seat didn’t look very happy, perhaps a stern father.)

2008:  1.  Arrogance can lead to overreaction. (The CEO of an automotive design company busted out laughing, at a poorly-designed electric car prototype, offered by an environmental action student group to which Penny belonged.)  2.  Even in a period of declining health, the mind can accomplish great things. (Penny completed most of her coursework by December.)  3.  Honesty always leads to vindication, when coupled with persistence and attention to detail, even if it takes a while. (A school worker was rough with a Kindergartner, then embellished a tale about me, when I comforted the girl.  I voluntarily took a leave of absence, but was vindicated, after three weeks.  The other person was terminated.)

2009:  1.  Even mental health workers can have a blind spot, when it comes to the disabled and their families. (I was let go, after three months, because of “conflict”  between my work for the agency and being Penny’s caretaker.  I found out later that it was all about my not generating revenue for the agency.) 2.  Driving, cross-country, with a disabled passenger was slowly getting easier, rest-room wise.  More states allowed opposite-sex caretakers to go with their disabled person into the restroom, and several were starting to install Caretaker-friendly “Family” restrooms. (We had a relatively easy trip, to and from my third nephew’s wedding.) 3.  If acting as caretaker, do take time for one’s own well-being.  The greater selfishness comes from pretending that one must be full-on, 24/7. 4.  Never, ever, try to outpace credit card debt by just pulling more money out of investment funds. (Yes, we ended the year in Chapter 7.) 5.  Most importantly, when given a major task, involving a loved one, see it through, no matter the obstacles.

The decade ended with me still substitute-teaching, Penny having earned, and received, her third Master’s Degree, and she increasingly spending more time asleep than awake. As those who followed me, then, on Xanga and Facebook will recall, there would be 14 more months of struggle and decline.  The decade which followed, and which is now  well past half-finished, would sharply distinguish between light and shadow.

 

Shedding Self

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March 9, 2016, Prescott- I have finished reading a few books this year, most notably “Keep Moving”, by Dick Van Dyke, “The Witches”, by Stacy Schiff,  “Terra Incognita”, by William Barnes and “Extreme Ownership”, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

Current reads are “The Dinosaur Heresies”, by Robert Bakker, “Sphere”, by Michael Crichton and “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”, by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

This last was loaned to me by a friend, so I am making finishing it a priority, out of courtesy, since she is also making reading it a priority.  There is a wealth of food for thought and for self-transformation, in this fascinating book.

As many of you know, I am investing in self-healing, through careful use of Certified, Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils and, by and large, avoiding fast food and beverages laced with processed sugar.  Regular exercise, in the forms of hiking, and hitting the treadmill three times a week, has also been beneficial.

Dr. Dispenza advocates these practices, but goes a step further.  The “self” he wants people to leave behind is the self that regards attachments to limiting physical and mental habits as unavoidable.  I will be incorporating his recommendations into my own meditation practices, as my reading of this book progresses, and will post on my findings.

One change in my behaviour that is already in place is that I will refrain from making grandiose schedules of travel and visiting, well ahead of time, overextending myself and then changing things up.  My journeys will still happen, when I am off work for the summer, or on breaks during the year.  They will, however, tend to be more spontaneous, and “out of the box”, in terms of where and when.

I am also finding myself being more sensible in managing resources.  This, oddly, derives from being more detached from needing those resources.  Thus, I can step back, look at a given situation, and make the correct choice, for me, whether it be frugal or generous.

Being more relaxed and engaged with people is another bonus I have taken from this book. The notion of totally letting go of past hurts, minor slights and misunderstandings is something that could benefit all of us.  It will actually result in better sleep, more energy during the day and faster metabolism.  I am looking forward to further learning what he has to say about personal resurgence.

Rice Canyon

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March 7, 2016, Prescott-  This past weekend featured my shortest visit to southern California, since July 3, 2013.  It was truncated by the intense storms hitting the region- with rare  Winter electrical elements, and hail, in the mix.

My visit with my son, Aram, was the main reason for the journey.  It is indicative of how much of me he has absorbed, that he asked whether I was just “swinging by” on the way to see friends.  It is true that, in the past, I have combined a visit with him and those with friends in Orange County and Los Angeles.  That was not the case this time, as both weather and fiscal prudence put the latter two segments on hold, until early June.

One of the things I enjoy doing is connecting people with places in the area where I happen to be, that they enjoy or find useful.  I do this here in Home Base, and I was able to do so with Aram, in Chula Vista.  I introduced him to a small Thai restaurant, near his home, on Saturday night.  Yesterday afternoon, we discovered Rice Canyon, a lovely trail just ten minutes’ walk from his apartment.  This trail system, a feature of the City of Chula Vista, gives area residents a lovely venue for hiking, biking and jogging.

Here are some scenes of this floral, riparian preserve.

There is a pleasant mix of desert and subtropical flora here, as elsewhere in the San Diego area.  Palm trees abound, though they are in a state of drought-induced duress right now.

Erosion, mostly man-made, is a concern for the friends of Rice Canyon.  Aram was underwhelmed at the notion of “side trails”, in the preserve.  Lemonade berry shrubs(above/upper right) provided the Kumayaay people with a sour beverage.   A small creek, (above, lower right) peeked out at the discerning walker.  Myrtillocacti (below) are also common in the South Bay of San Diego and the Tijuana Estuary.

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Myrtillocacti, Rice Canyon, Chula Vista

We had a fine introduction to the canyon, during a seven-hour respite from the rain that graced southern California with its presence.  This morning, no sooner had I left the city, than the rain resumed, with a vengeance.

 

 

My Life Thus Far: The Nineties

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March 6, 2016, Chula Vista- In the scheme of things, my most productive decade, to date, has been the 1990’s.  My forties were, initially, of consternation to my wife, but ended up being a time of relative calm and mutual growth for us.

1990-High Point: Travels with my family, around Jeju.                                                                                   Low Point:  Losing several more aunts and uncles.                                                                                People in the Heart:  My little family; my students; the Korean Baha’is.                                     Places in the Heart:  Jeju; Mt. Halla; Nonsan; Yosu.

1991- High Point:  Continued growth of our community, and in my teaching.                                       Low Point:   None.  This was a very sanguine year.                                                                                 People in the Heart:  Koreans, in general.                                                                                               Places in the Heart:  Jeju; Inchon; Jonju, Busan .

1992- High Point:  Return to the Navajo Nation.                                                                                               Low Point:  Leaving Korea.                                                                                                                              People in the Heart:  My students, both in Jeju and in Jeddito; the long-suffering Mr. Chun; Marty Green, who gave me a fresh start; the proprietress of Mile-Hi Motel, Prescott.                                                                                                                                                                              Places in the Heart:  Jeju; Sorak-san; Prescott; Jeddito.

1993- High Point:  Penny’s return to teaching.                                                                                                   Low Point:  Dealing with a disinformation campaign.                                                                          People in the Heart:  My Navajo and Hopi students; A.T. Sinquah; the Begay family,              of Cienega Canyon; Harry James, who gave his life for his faith.                                                      Places in the Heart:  Jeddito, Keams Canyon; Canyon de Chelly; Flagstaff.

1994- High Point:  Learning about, and implementing, a comprehensive guidance                              program.                                                                                                                                                                Low Point:  Struggling to adapt to new school administration.                                                         People in the Heart:  The Ambrose family; the Melvins, who taught me how to act                 with grace, and patience; all the aforementioned.                                                                     Places in the Heart:  Pinon; Shungopavi; First Mesa.

1995-High Point:  Our first cross-country road trip, as a family.                                                                 Low Point:  The passing of Penny’s paternal grandfather.                                                                  People in the Heart:  Sadie Charley; the Bathkes; the Shuplas; A. C. Fellman.                           Places in the Heart:  Louhelen Baha’i School; Bedminster; Saugus.

1996- High Point:  Continued success in our school’s program.                                                                    Low Point:  The passing of our neighbour, Georgianna T.

           People in the Heart:  The Coin family; Clifford Q., who taught us all patience, in a                  different way; Mark Sacco, who never gave up on the hardest of students; the                            Smiley sisters; the Tewanema family.

          Places in the Heart:  Edgewater, NM (our vacation spot); Sandia Crest; the Navajo                  and Hopi Nations, in general.

1997- High Point:  Our road trip with Lady (our dachshund, adopted in 1995).                                        Low Point:  The suicide of a former student.                                                                                            People in the Heart: Marwin Woody and his family; the staff of Louhelen Baha’i                      School; all my relations.                                                                                                                                  Places in the Heart:  Amarillo; Effingham; Lambertville, NJ; Louhelen Baha’i                           school; Edwardsville, IL.

1998-High Point: My securing a principalship.                                                                                                   Low Point: The accidental death of a key staff member.                                                                       People in the Heart:  Mrs. Lowe and Ms. Young, my strongest classroom teachers.                  Places in the Heart: Chilchinbeto; Kayenta.

1999-High Point: Landing on my feet, at Salome High School.                                                                     Low Point: Aram’s harrowing return visit to Korea.                                                                             People in the Heart:  Tom Riggenbach, the Charley family (who spoke in my                             defense); Paul Lansing; the majority of my constituents in La Paz County.                                   Places in the Heart: Polacca; Salome; Prescott.

The Nineties began with stability and hope, though various storm clouds were always showing lightning,in the distance.  This was a time that began and ended with big moves for us.  I made a stab at being an administrator, and found it was not for me. I am much more at home with counseling, and would have done better to hone my skills in that area, still further.  Penny had a serious fall, in 1998, and we spent much time and energy seeking competent neurological care.  She seemed to have recovered, by the end of the year, when we observed her parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.  The decade ended with us working through the joys and sorrows of life in a small Southwestern town.

Still and all, that decade was good for us.  The ten years to come would prove far more challenging.

 

 

True Diamonds

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March 5, 2016, Chula Vista-

I laid a diamond in a vault,

Some five years ago today.

A hatchling gem sprouted wings,

and  found his own way.

Much happened to burnish

away the rough,

both for mother and for son.

I think of those who have not

seen their shine,

It’s for them that my tears run.

 

Threshold

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March 4, 2016, Prescott- Today marks the eve of two anniversaries of import in my life. On March 5, 2004, a child was born, in a country far from here.  He became my sponsored child, in 2011.  On the same date, also in 2011, my long-suffering and beloved wife cast her burden, and became my spirit guide.  One is now 12 years of age, the other, a spirit gone beyond time.

As I write this, there is a stirring, outside.  A door opens and shuts- most likely my ephemeral neighbour, poking about, catching the night air.    On the morning  that Penny went to the realm of stars, son and I were detoured by a street renovation project.  We got to hospice about three minutes after she had passed over.  We did see, however, a stirring of leaves and debris, spiraling upward, on an otherwise still morning.  We went inside, and found her body, still warm to the touch, but sans pulse.  She had indeed left, three minutes earlier.

When one is at the threshold of something entirely new, there is an individualized level of trepidation.  There is also an individualized level of hope and joy.  I generally face the day with more of the latter.  March 5, 2011 was an exception, because my beloved’s spiritual energy, dense energy, filled the room, as I awoke.  Nothing before or since has made its presence known, in quite that extraordinary a manner.  I knew what was in store, and moved along through the day, in a very heavy flow.

She will be with me, always.  I fully intend to visit my sponsored child and his family, in the summer of 2017.  If all goes well, I will also pay a visit to one of our friends, in a nation that faces the challenges of climate change.  I know Penny would approve, as she sent me messages about my earlier journeys, well in advance of their having transpired.

Standing at a threshold, my soulmate wraps me in confidence and blessings.

Seeking Family

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March 2, 2016, Prescott- I drove two friends, mother and daughter, to the airport, early this morning.  They left cool Prescott for mild Phoenix, then headed for frigid Milwaukee.  The  quest was simple- to see family, including a newborn child.  Perhaps, with enough positive energy, they will bring milder temperatures to southeast Wisconsin.  In any event, I wish my friends and their family a safe and pleasant time together.

This brings me to the fact that we are each, in one way or another, seeking our true family.  I am fortunate, biologically, to have a large, nurturing family, whose matriarch is still very much alive and well. I am also fortunate, spiritually, to have a larger, more nurturing family, spanning the globe.  Besides making my tendency to wander actually bear some meaning, when I do go further afield than my Southwest home base, my greater family helps me build a solid foundation, for those times when I am rooted here.  To be sure, I don’t stay put nearly enough to suit many of the people here, but I put that time to good use.

That is what being part of a family structure does- it orients, helps ground a person, and nurtures- always nurtures.  What it must not do is stifle, suppress and cause stagnation.  I wish, for my spiritual family, both here in Prescott, and across the planet, to ever seek the first path.

 

Leap of Faith

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February 29, 2016, Prescott- This is one of those days when a person, who is actually 40, can pretend to be 10.  Leap Day is a quirk of Earth time, but has become quite fun to observe.  Some traditions allow women to ask men to dance, to go on a date- even, to marry, on “Sadie Hawkins Day”- something that derived from the country lore of the Appalachian region.  I think that would be enjoyable enough, as it’s taken in a gentlemanly manner.

I waded through a fair amount of criticism, once I cam home from work today, and turned on the computer.  Many people seemed in a nasty mood, for one reason or another.  I did feel rightfully chastened, in one instance, and said so.  In other cases, I felt the frustration of the complainant and in others, I sensed obfuscation in the wind, and called the person out on it.  She gingerly walked her complaint back, and “agreed to disagree.”  That’s fair enough.

There will be some tough choices ahead, for many people, and for our nation as a whole. I won’t get into the politics of it, but most of you will get my drift.  Those of us who have a personal credo will sense that we need to act, based on the precepts of what we say we believe.  I certainly have been, and will be, in that frame of mind.

We Baha’is begin our Nineteen-Day Fast, tomorrow at sunrise.  For all of us who are in good health, not undergoing physical stress (including pregnancy, Aunt Flo and nursing, as well as doing heavy labour), and between the ages of 15-69, the abstinence from food and drink goes from sunrise to sunset.  As with other spiritual fasts, ours is intended to purify the body and cleanse the soul.  What that means to an individual is strictly a personal experience, and personal business.

I know those areas on which I need to work, so I hope this season will set the tone, in that regard.  Stay tuned, and Marvelous March!