Guiding Spirits

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June 4-5, 2016, Burntwater, AZ-  There are, as I have indicated various times, several places in the world where I feel like family, and not just a passing acquaintance who is forgotten as soon as I leave.  Reno/Carson City is one such place, the Prescott area, where I live most of the time,  Metro San Diego (where my son lives) – and this small corner of the country’s largest Indian Nation, are among the others.  Burntwater used to have a trading post.  Now, it has the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning.  That may sound redundant, but educating people of all ages has been the core purpose of this facility, since it was founded, in 1981.  I always feel like the Guiding Spirits are with me here.  When I arrived here, on Friday night, it was late, so I rolled out the sleeping bag and slept under the stars, as we all had, that first weekend on the property- when there were no buildings.

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Native American Baha’i Institute’s 35th Anniversary

Thus, about thirty of us gathered here, these past two days-  to recount the past thirty-five years and to plan, with a group of service-oriented youth, for its immediate and short-term future.  NABIL has come far, since 10-15 of us gathered here, in June, 1981, and sat with a group of Dine’ (Navajo) elders, asking them what they wanted to see here.  I remember the first thing on their list was reliable water.  So, a dowser came to visit, a well was dug, and the long drive to a pump, of spotty reliability, was over, within three months.  That well has been replaced, by an even more reliable water source, in the past ten years.  Local residents can get a portion of water that they all agreed upon, in council, with everyone’s opinion heard and considered, by the community. This is how Dine’, and most Native Americans across the country, are used to doing things.  A weekly community dinner is offered on Thursday evenings, and this is also a chance for residents to freely air their concerns.

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The Library is the central meeting place, for consultation and mindfulness.

Financial literacy classes, the trades and some college preparatory classes are among the services that the current staff are hoping to see offered here, in the next several years.  The Institute has come a long way.  I stayed in a comfortable lodge, for the second night I was there.

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As with any place that people gather, the dining hall is also a key place for consultation and camaraderie.

I was asked, upon getting ready to leave on Sunday morning, to remember that I must not be a stranger here.  The permanent staff have been like family to me, for a long time, so I will bear that in mind.  Driving across Hopi, also a place that is home, I found the place quiet, though I later learned that there was a social dance, which I apparently missed.  No worries, as there were two fires, along the route  back to Prescott, and I had to focus on getting back in one piece.  It looked as if the fires were under control, though.

I was back, and had my house cooled off, by 6 PM.  Now, let’s see what a week in one place will look like.

 

Stairstepping In Kodachrome Land, Part 3: A Zip Through The Cedars

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June 3, 2016, Chinle, AZ- After leaving Nevada behind, I decided that the drive through the expanse of heaven that is southern Utah would have to be somewhat less than just.  I have the Golden Circle on my radar screen for a full month of exploration- but not until next summer, at the very earliest, and maybe not until 2020.  The pines, cedars and unparalleled canyons of southern Utah are treasures to be taken one inch at a time.

One caveat I share with most other drivers is:  Don’t make a nuisance of yourself, by constantly and abruptly pulling to the side of the narrow road, to get that great photo.  So, the scenes presented herein are few in number- focusing on two places:  Navajo Lake/Duck Creek and Orderville Canyon.  These two very different environments give a snippet of the variety in a relatively small area of Kane County.

I spent a few minutes in the commercial hub of Cedar City, just refueling and resting my Nissan.  The traffic was already gearing up for a crowded weekend, hereabouts, so on up through Kolob Canyon it was.  Navajo Lake lies in the rim country, above Zion National Park.  There were about a dozen people at the overlook, so we took turns with photographs.

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Dike  across Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

The dike was built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, during the New Deal, to maintain constant water flow.

Navajo Lake, and nearby Duck Creek, were created by lava flow, which altered the course of the Virgin River, which created Zion Canyon.  Below, are some scenes of the lava beds, around Duck Creek Visitor Center.

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Lava bed at Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Lava bed, Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Orderville is one of the small farming towns that are a delight to visit, in the midst of southern Utah’s canyon country.  It is also a jumping off point for those headed east, towards Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Park.  Orderville has a gorgeous canyon of its own, though, and can easily enchant the visitor for 2-3 days.

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

With the day growing short, I headed on east and south, through Page, AZ, on the southern shore of Lake Powell, across the Navajo Nation, to Kayenta and Chinle.  At Tsegi, just west of Kayenta, I cam across a couple whose vehicle and trailer had overturned.  The Indian Health Service worker who had stopped to help was having a hard time getting through to emergency services.  I was able to call and get help en route.  Good thing that neither person,nor their two dogs, were injured.  Past Kayenta, a brush fire had broken out, south of Chilchinbeto, where I once worked. Once again, 911 was dialed from my phone, and a fire truck was dispatched.

That was the end of the day’s excitement.  I enjoyed a relaxing meal at Junction Restaurant, in Chinle, before heading down to Native American Baha’i Institute, another 1 1/2 hours further southeast.  It is time to change gears, and focus on spirituality for a day or so.

Stairstepping in Kodachrome Land, Part 2: Cathedral Gorge and Panaca’s Box Butte

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June 3, 2016, Panaca, NV- Kodachrome turned into monochrome, once I left Pioche.  No matter, though; Miller Point overlook, on the north side of Cathedral Gorge, has views that elicit thoughts of how the Grand Canyon must have looked, back in the Triassic Era.

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Cathedral Gorge, from Miller Point

The Edwards Brothers, Nephi and Elbert, discovered Cathedral Gorge in 1911, making it a playground for their family. They built a series of ladders and explored several caves here.  The Edwards family pushed to have the State of Nevada safeguard the gorge, and in 1935, it became a state park.

Here are several more views from Miller Point, and along the first section of trail, below the Point.

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Cathedral Gorge, from Miller Point

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Cathedral Gorge, from Miller Point

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Cathedral Gorge, from Miller Point

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Cathedral Gorge, along Miller Point Trail

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Cathedral Gorge, along Miller Point Trail

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Cathedral Gorge, along Miller Point Trail

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View of Juniper Draw Loop, from Miller Point Trail

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Eagle Point, from Miller Point Trail

It’s a reasonable assumption that I will be back here, relatively soon, for a full exploration of Cathedral Gorge on my own.  The heat precludes doing so in summer, so maybe next Spring.

Panaca, a short distance down the road, is a rather utilitarian community, with modern buildings that distinguish it from Pioche- as does the sere Great Basin landscape. It is a friendly town, and when my attention was drawn to the sizable butte, just beyond the fence of Lincoln County High School, two girls playing in a nearby yard called to their father, who came outside, saw where I was heading, and shook his head, in a good-natured way.  Not many visitors, apparently, are interested in this formation- which goes by the simple name of Box Butte.

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Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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Small cave, Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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Small cave, Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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West side of Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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Free-form mural, inside cave, Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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East side, Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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Crane-lifted slabs, top of Box Butte, Panaca, NV

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East side, Box Butte, Panaca, NV

As I drove off, I heard the girls call- “Daddy, he’s leaving now.”  It is unusual to be of note, but something tells me I’d be welcome back, if only to take further examination of this local play place.

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time stopping and photographing the innumerable wonders of southern Utah- if for no other reason than I had a destination, in the Native American Baha’i Institute, some 380 miles further southeast.

NEXT UP:  Navajo Lake and Orderville Canyon, Utah

 

 

 

Stair-stepping, In Kodachrome Land, Part 1: Pioche

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June 3, 2016, Pioche, NV- It was not a hard choice, as to where to stop for the night, yesterday.  Little Pioche, just west of the Utah state line, is a budding Virginia City or Bisbee.  It has all the charm of the better known mining towns, so my stay at Motherlode Motel was a no-brainer.  I came this way in 1980, on the way back to Flagstaff, from Oregon.

The drive involves what I call stair-stepping:  U.S. 93 goes on to Panaca, just east of Pioche; then there is a drive on two contiguous state highways, to Cedar City; this is followed by an alley-oop, over the Cedar Mountains on Utah Highway 56, to U.S. 89, which goes to Page, on the southern shore of Lake Powell.  From here, I would continue the process, taking AZ Route 98 to the Navajo Nation town of Tsegi, U.S. 160 to Indian Route 59, just east of Kayenta, then IR 59 to Many Farms, U.S. 191 to AZ 264, at Ganado, then the 191 again to I-40, and a couple of Navajo roads, which I will mention later, to Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning.

So, the rest of this is fairly simple.  The rugged Southwest is meant to be enjoyed, within the boundaries of preparedness and common sense.  This was the fourth day of Big Heat.  Even in mountain-girt Pioche, it would hit 85 today.  The sizzle was already evident, as I walked the short distance from motel to downtown.

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Motherlode Motel, Pioche, NV

The Lincoln County Courthouse and Mountain View Lodge attract the visitor, en rout to Main Street.

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Lincoln County Courthouse, Pioche, NV

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Mountain View Lodge, Pioche, NV

It is recorded that President Herbert Hoover stayed here, in 1930.  A more earthy sort of clientele would have opted for the accommodations shown below.

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Overland Hotel and Saloon, Pioche, NV

There was, however, an Opera House in town, which may have appealed to Mr. Hoover.

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Thompson Opera House and Gem Theater, Pioche, NV

Before going in for a hearty breakfast at the historic Silver Cafe,  a stroll along Main Street was in order.

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Historic Silver Cafe, Pioche, NV

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Main Street, Pioche, NV

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Mining Concern, west of Main Street, Pioche, NV

The pleasant little park at the end of Main Street was established in the 1980s.  The original developers were killed in an auto accident, in 1986, whereupon the community banded together and finished the job.

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Heritage Park, Pioche, NV

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The Mary Louise Mine Entrance (sealed), Heritage Park, Pioche, NV

Like many Western towns, Pioche attracted some free spirits.  This Spiritist Hall existed for a time, in the early Twentieth Century.

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Channel of Light Building, Pioche, NV

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A downhill view of Main Street, Pioche, NV

After breakfast in the bustling cafe, another quick stroll back to Motherlode Motel brought my brief visit to an end.  I did notice one last remnant of the Wild West.

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Old “Social Club”, Main Street, Pioche, NV

A quick drive up the hill was in order, before leaving town, for Cathedral  Gorge.

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Pioche Hills

The town, and its surrounding hills, were named for Francois Pioche, an immigrant from France, who became a mining entrepreneur.  He built the mining concerns here, in 1868-9.

My day was just starting, but it’s best to split the tale into three parts.  Next post will showcase Cathedral Gorge and Panaca, as the hills fade away into the Great Basin.

 

 

Highway 50: Loneliness Is All In The Mind

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June 2, 2016, Ely-  Sitting in the spare, but comfortable Silver State Restaurant, in this little anchor-town of the White Pine country of eastern Nevada, I had a bit of time to reflect on “America’s loneliest highway”.
I got on U.S. Highway 50,  in the eastern edge of Carson City, around 10:30 this morning, saying goodbye to my Baha’i sister, and her new home across town.  Gradually, the wonders of the Silver State itself unfolded:  The exit to Virginia City, the Comstock Lode historic site of Dayton, and the small commercial hub of Fallon, which serves as the western anchor of the so-called Lonely Road.

Fallon was rather quiet, on this first of many hot days to come.  It did have its share of business, though, and some of that filtered in to Susie’s BBQ, where I stopped for lunch.

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Susie’s BBQ, Fallon, NV

I opted for brisket, as it was not really a sausage kind of day.  A Big Heat has taken the West under its wing, probably for the next seven or eight weeks, so we move, eat and adjust accordingly.

On my last ride across Highway 50, in 1980, my driver pointed out an expanse of salt flat, a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan.  This was a massive body of water, stretching from the Sierra Navada to the Toiyabe Range.  Its remnants include the much smaller Lake Lahontan, east of Fallon, plus Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and Pyramid Lake.  I did not, given the nature of my visit, go to any of the three western lakes, and there is intensive road work around the present Lake Lahontan.  Thus, here are some surrealist, filtered scenes of the Carson Lake Salt Flats.

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Notice there are some graffiti, inscribed by local lovebirds and various passers-by, who find romance in the desolation.

My next focus was on the Toiyabe Range, one of three mountain ranges that stretch north to south, in central Nevada.  The Toiyabe and White Pine mountains, like the Sierra Nevada, are still somewhat snow- packed on their summits and high ridges.

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Toiyabe Range, central Nevada

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Toiyabe Range, Central Nevada

Austin is one of those little towns that used to be a link on the Pony Express, as well as where silver, lead and zinc were mined.  Silver still can be found, here and there. Lead being largely out of favour these days, for health concerns, is cause for several closed and shuttered mines.  The few folks who live here tend to be flinty-eyed towards anyone wearing shorts and a camera, but I find places like Austin intriguing, nonetheless.

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Main Street, Austin, NV

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St. Augustine’s Church, Austin, NV

The back streets have their appeal, as well.  Virginia Street alludes to the Mother Lode.

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Lander County Courthouse, Austin, NV

Back on Main Street, the courthouse and visitor center(closed at the time) give Austin a bit of gravitas.

The walls in back of the main properties were built to last, with land slides always being in the back of people’s minds.

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Retaining wall, behind Courthouse, Austin, NV

The old city hall was taken over by the American Legion, as John F. Hiskey Post 45, in 1947.

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Old City Hall, Austin, NV

Crowning the heights above Austin is Stokes Castle.  Anson  Phelps Stokes, The Elder, was an industrialist and entrpreneur in the late-19th Century.  He built the edifice as a summer “tower”, but only actually used it for two months, in 1897.  After that, the Stokes family abandoned the place.  Austin’s citizens have fenced the structure off, and it is indeed unsafe to enter.  It remains, though, as a testament to the town’s glory days.

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Stokes Castle, Austin, NV

An hour or so east of Austin lies Eureka, where people smiled, flashed peace signs and seemed quite relaxed, as their work day was coming to an end.

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Eureka Opera House, Eureka, NV

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Eureka County Courthouse, Eureka, NV

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A westward look down Main Street, Eureka, NV

I had miles to go, before I slept, so on east it was, to Ely, NV, a more contemporarily- built, commercial hub, at the end of the “Loneliest Road”.  I had dinner at the aforementioned Silver State Restaurant, then gave my camera a rest- until I came to the White Pine Range.  These mountains are named for the light-coloured wood of the local evergreens.

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White Pine forest, south of Ely, NV

Wheeler Peak, not to be confused with the mountain of the same name that is New Mexico’s highest peak, is the crown of the White Pines, and second only to Boundary Peak, (in western Nevada), in terms of high points in the state.

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Wheeler Peak, White Pine Range, south of Ely, NV

Thus, as you can see, loneliness is a definite state of mind.

NEXT UP:  Pioche, Panaca and the amazement of Cathedral Gorge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extended Family, Reno & Carson, Days 3 &4: Tides of Transition

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May 31-June 1, 2016, Carson City- 

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Sundial, Carson City

We spent the past two days intermittently going through boxes, tending to errands in Reno, watching days 2 &3 of the new version of “Roots” and enjoying a fantastic barbecue, at the Sandoval residence.  Above is Veronica’s sundial, which keeps watch over her little swimming pool.  Uncle Gary, of course, had to get splashed, show her how to toss water at the far fence and discuss the meaning of an episode of “My Little Ponies”- which does have more intellectual fiber, for the minds of 3-5 year-olds, than we older ones might think.

Tuesday was busy, but peaceful here, roiling back at home base (Prescott) and generally a day that brought some enjoyment (see below), but which I was glad to see over. By bedtime on Wednesday, though, all was calm again.

We had a pleasant lunch at Mel’s Diner, in Reno, served by one of the most effervescent young women I have ever met.  Diner food is one of my guilty pleasures, anyway, so it didn’t take much to get me to agree to stop there, after Michele’s walk-through at her old apartment.

On the way back to Carson, we drove through Washoe Lake State Park, between Reno and Carson City.  The serenity of this place is reminiscent of several similar places in the Prescott area.

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Bridge along Hwy. 395, Washoe Valley, NV.  Mt. Rose is in background.

The bridge over Washoe Valley is remarkable for its length.  Mount Rose calls out to be hiked, but that is an item for another year’s agenda.  The Valley itself is stunning, as a place to unwind for many, and as a redoubt for the well-to-do.

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Deer, resting near irrigation sprinkler, Washoe Valley, NV

A herd of deer were roaming near this irrigation pipe, an excellent way to beat the mid-day heat.

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Beagle Rock, Washoe Lake State Park, NV

This rock was painted, by person or persons unknown, about ten years ago.

The crowning event of the day was Veronica’s tae-kwon-do session.  Watch out, world!

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Veronica gets ready to chop.

Watching my little angels grow has been a joy, for thirty six years and counting.  I thank the Lord this will be ongoing.  The session took me back to the late ’90’s, when my son was learning this martial art form.

The time here was capped with the above-mentioned barbecue.  The Sandovals pulled out all the stops, and presented us with everything from the usual hot dogs and burgers to carne asada and grilled pineapple.  Freshly baked  pan dulce capped the meal.  It was one of those “No more food for a month” affairs, which is what happens, in a loving environment.

Now, it’s time to head on down  to the next important event:  A 35th Anniversary Reunion of those who opened the Native American Baha’i Institute, in Burntwater, Arizona.

NEXT UP:  The highway that was once “America’s loneliest”.

 

Extended Family, Reno- Carson, Day 2: Memorial Day

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May 30, 2016, Reno- We came back up here, visiting the laid-back, always loving, fluid family mash-up that is the Hill household.  The 3-6 souls who anchor the Reno point of my family constellation are predictable in two ways:  There will always be interesting media on-screen, usually streaming video or movies; and there will always be food delivered, in copious quantities.

Our fare today was not barbecue (“Too dry around here”), but Domino’s pizza, wings (both bone-in and boneless), Parmesan bites, and Dad’s Root Beer.  There was enough to take care of the eight of us for the rest of the day.  The film was Barbara Streisand’s and Seth Rogen’s  “Guilt Trip”.  Neither my mother or I, as much as we love one another, would ever countenance a drive together that lasted more than three hours. As a movie, though, the character growth inherent in a parent-child journey makes for a captivating story line.  Both grew, marvelously, as people, by the end of the film- and largely because there was mutual fulfillment.

Memorial Day’s main purpose, though, was not lost on anyone here.  There was a solemnity in the house- W’s stepfather, who raised her, has been gone three years;  S was lost in thought about his departed loved ones; and it goes without saying that my thoughts were not far from my beloved.  That we were each far from the cemeteries that hold the remains of those gone on, mattered little.  They continue to inspire us and watch us carefully.

 

Extended Family, Reno-Carson: Day One

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May 29, 2016, Carson City- There are several places in the world, where I feel among family.  Over the past five years, the blended family that straddles the burgeoning area of northwest Nevada has provided one of those places.  The Smiths have been friends of ours for over twenty years.  Their children and grandchildren have maintained that tie, and grown into extended family.

The youngest grandchild has been a particular delight- a spirited, highly intelligent 4 1/2-year-old.  I was introduced, this morning, to her Star Wars robot.

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Veronica’s Star Wars robot

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Veronica’s Star Wars robot

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Veronica’s Star Wars robot

Okay, that was overkill, but this little lady has given me practice at potential grandparenthood. I am inclined towards a combination of healthy fun mode and diligent oversight, as well as being concerned with the child’s holistic growth.

This day was thus a low-key affair, helping with locating moved items, unpacking some boxes and helping to re-establish the household.  Such will be the order of the next three days, worked around the usual family events.