Looking Back- Part 2


December 31, 2016, Chula Vista- As the Year of Upended Routines winds down, and has already passed, in the areas immediately west of the International Date Line, I find it meet and seemly to give 2016 its due.

The goodness of it all:  I was embraced by Prescott Unified School District, and brought into a position where positive differences can be made, in the lives of troubled children.

One car served me well, then died, on the road.  Two members of my family stepped up, got the first car through its final duties and the next car into my possession.  Thankfully, I am able to repay these kindnesses, in full.

It was an amazing series of  visits, with friends in Amarillo, Enid (OK), Columbia (MO), Indianapolis, Oley (PA), Knoxville, Boulder (CO) and Dana Point (CA); family in Avila (MO), Saugus and Wakefield (MA),  Newnan (GA), Brooksville (FL) and Loveland (CO)- to say nothing of my Baha’i family in Carson City and Reno, and all who nourish and support me, throughout Arizona.  Most important of all, though, is the strength and constancy of my closest:  Mom and siblings, in Massachusetts, brother, in Georgia, in-laws, in Florida and son, here in southern California, but soon to be in Korea, the land of his birth.

The warmth of new friends, in Fallon and Pioche (NV), Fort Sumner (NM), Ponca City (OK), Salina and Hays (KS),Florissant (MO), Wilmette (IL), Francesville and Kokomo (IN), Bedford and Bushkill (PA), Port Jervis and Middletown (NY), Newtown and Danbury (CT), Martinsburg (WV), Harrisonburg (VA), Register (GA), Chattanooga, Nashville, Marion (IL) a Colorado Springs and Mancos (CO) just reinforces my belief that there is a universal love, which only needs to be tapped and nurtured.

How blessed the natural beauty of the forests, deserts, plains and mountains that gave me solace, this year:  Prescott Circle Trail, which brought the totality of my adopted home into focus; Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, which transcends Arizona’s Central Highlands and the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert; Arcosanti, an intriguing blend of ancient desert rock, seasonal water flow and nouveau architecture; Juniper Mesa, a stand-alone promontory, which once sheltered Yavapai warriors; the shimmering lakes above Zion National Park, a reminder that the Earth is a changing creation, which will outlive us, despite our illusions to the contrary; the tall grass prairie outside Boonville, MO, a fine place to just lie down and think of childhood days, spent in the grasses of summer; Bushkill Falls, PA, as amazing and comforting to me, on a cool, drizzly July day,as it was to my parents-in-law on their honeymoon, in the winter of early 1949, and on so many wedding anniversaries, thereafter; Lake Redwine, and Serenbe, GA, which brought family together, and  help to keep my Georgia relatives so well-grounded.

How eternally comforting it is, to visit the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, and to gather with my fellows-in-faith, at Baha’i Centers in Phoenix and Scottsdale, as well as the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort.

So,many thanks, 2016. There were breathtaking changes, coming from all this, and from the winds sweeping our nation and planet.  These will impact me, along with everyone else, in the next few years; stay tuned.


Portraits from A Year Gone By


December 31, 2016, Chula Vista- I am taking the readership on a brief journey back, with one photo from each month, that sums up the month, for me.  So, let’s begin.



Pharaoh’s Face, with a barrel cactus keeping watch, south of the Agua Fria River, Black Canyon City




Sunset, over Goldwater Lake



Small pond, Banning Creek, northwest of Goldwater Lake



Quartz Mountain, north of Copper Basin



Granite Mountain, Prescott



Cathedral Gorge, Pioche, NV



Lake Redwine, Newnan, GA



Kayla Mueller, who was killed in Syria.  This is not my photo, but symbolizes the month of August, as I took no photos of my own, and the sacrifices of some Americans, in the fight against terrorism became front and center.



View of Santa Maria Mountains, from Juniper Mesa



Monarch butterflies, in Agua Fria watershed



Agua Fria Fort, off Little Pan Trail, Table Mesa region



White Christmas 2016, Prescott

So went the Year That The Common Man roared and I continued to explore.



Looking Back-Part 1


December 30, 2016, Chula Vista-  I arrived here at 8:30 PM, PST.  It will be my last time visiting the San Diego area, for the purpose of spending time with my son.  The next time I see him, it will be in Arizona, then in LA, as he gets ready to go overseas, albeit to a “safe” duty station.

I had an interesting drive out here, from Prescott, in the rain.  Our Arizona Outback got a goodly amount of precip, as did SoCal.  Both are parched, so these little sips of dew will slake the earth’s thirst for a week or so. I am hoping the reservoirs, in both states will benefit, at least an inch or two.  I noticed mostly responsible driving, all the way here, even at the often dreadful Morongo roundabout.  Patience, on my part, and that of the three drivers behind me, got all of us into the parking lot of Ruby’s Diner, without so much as a honked horn.  The only exception to the orderly flow came later, in Hemet, when an SUV, going at least 50 mph, blew past three of us, and through the red light, at which we were waiting.  I was reminded of why the driver might have behaved in this way, when going through a DUI checkpoint, set up by the Chula Vista police.

Now, to look back at this curve ball of a year.  2016 saw the end of many lives, both public and private.  I appreciated the accomplishments of John Glenn, Muhammad Ali, Nancy Reagan, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince Nelson, Glenn Frey, George Michael, the mother-daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and Harper Lee.  I also am much appreciative of the sacrifices of all First Responders and Military who gave their lives in service, thes past twelve months.  Personally, I will miss two aunts, a cousin, and four friends who passed on, in 2016, also.

The changes that happened, as common folk raised their voices, worldwide, and demanded to be heard, will be long in their unfolding and in their repercussions.  The key to living through those, though, is to remember the power of attraction- and focus on what GOOD one wants to see.  The bad will, otherwise, not fade.

Tomorrow:  The good parts of 2016

Strength First, Beauty Second


December 28, 2016, Prescott-

Just a few thoughts about the near-simultaneous passings of George Michael and mother & daughter, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher:  While I am among the first to notice a lovely woman, my interest in people, regardless of gender, age or body type, very quickly heads towards their story.  What moves someone?  What has he or she endured?  Where have they been in life?  In what is he or she interested? What has she or he achieved?  What are their goals and dreams?

We seem to have entered a Black Hole, of sorts, in which a sitting president and his family can be characterized as a bunch of sub-humans, by a public figure who is connected to the President-elect.  It is presumed, but by no means verified, that said President-elect privately upbraided said friend. A few days later, a celebrity responded to the news of another celebrity’s passing, by wistfully commenting on how beautiful he thought she was, when both were younger.  That’s all well and good, but judging a book by its cover tells one nothing.  The fact is, Carrie Fisher’s story, which she later chronicled, herself, is one for the ages. George Michael’s story, as physically appealing as he was, to many women and gay men,is both inspirational, and a cautionary tale, for anyone.  Ogling is now, thankfully, considered bad form.  My advice:  Notice, make a mental note, and either get to know the person or leave her/him alone.

Those are my brief thoughts about one way that we can all get along for the better.  May all who passed, in this most jarring year, rest in eternal peace.

Table Mesa, Part IV: Boy Scout, Not Out


December 26, 2016, New River-  This small settlement’s hinterland drew me back, yet again, this time to complete a twelve-mile round trip to the edge of a course called Boy Scout Loop.  I am not sure I actually found it today, either, but I did walk six miles each way, and stayed on the BCNRT, until coming to a loop’s end.  It just wasn’t identified as “Boy Scout”, and the purists insist it would have been.

No matter, this was my fifth visit to Table Mesa trailhead, and the last for a while.  Here are some scenes along the segment I hiked today.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The trailhead, on the southern side of Forest Road 9950, got me headed in the right direction, towards a long mesa to the west of here.


The trail continued to be somewhat rugged, in spots, as I made my way along the long mesa’s eastern edge.  Mostly, though, this segment passes through long desert valleys, with mesquite and saguaro forests.


Here is a southern view of an outcropping I passed about a month ago, during a hike along Forest Road 9950.


Heart-shaped rocks have always reassured me that I am on the right path, and am surrounded by love.  I saw many more such stones this time, than I have in  while.


This remnant of a miner’s crate is on what I took to be the northern edge of Boy Scout Loop.  At any rate, it’s near where I turned and began heading back.


This is one of the mesquite forests I encountered, on this relatively easy trek.


I saw nary another human on this hike, although there were many target shooters on the Table Mesa range, whom I could hear to my east, for much of the jaunt.  These mule deer were in a safe spot, though, and were my only visible companions.


There is a dormant volcano, about six miles east of here, which did cast igneous rock far afield, several thousand years ago.  Here is one remnant of that outburst.

I again found my flashlight very handy, with part of the trail having been obliterated by Saturday’s rain storm, and my having to follow a dry creek-bed part of the way back.  Having basic knowledge of the topography, it wasn’t long before I found the trail again, even with moonless conditions.

The final two segments of BCNRT will begin from New River’s Emery Henderson Trailhead.  It looks like January 8, and later on in the month, will allow time for those finishing touches.

Relections on Noel, 2016


December 25, 2016, Phoenix-  I had thought I might be getting out of snow-shoveling this year, but it didn’t turn out that way. No matter- I made do with four hours of sleep, before heading back down here for the final day of Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference.

There was a rather intense seminar on communication between us and those who have gone on.  I have had plenty of messages from Penny, and from other relatives, over the past several years, and was visited by my maternal grandmother, not long after she passed away.  Dabbling in the psychic, which is discouraged by Baha’u’llah, in His Writings, is quite another matter. This presentation was quite informative, however, with regard to the power of concentrated energy.

I also attended a presentation on children in community life, and was confirmed in my own position:  People of all ages deserve to be included in the life of the community, and encouraged in their pro-social dreams and aspirations.  Noting that traditional societies, most familiar to me being Native Americans, have long practiced the full involvement of children in community life, the group concluded this was key to rebuilding society.

I went to the west side of town, to visit some friends.  A couple and their granddaughter were home, so I gave the girl a copy of Abby Wize:  AWAKE”, by Lisa Bradley.  She is very loving to animals, and the story is about a girl who loves horses, so I think it will go well with her.  My other friend was still at a church service, so I rescheduled to see him next week.  Dinner was at a customary place- Mandarin Super Buffet, in the heart of Phoenix.  It was packed, as Chinese restaurants often are, on Christmas night.  The food was fresh and hot, so I was again delighted by Mandarin’s varied and hearty fare.

I had intended to attend a concert, back at the Conference site.  Concert time, however, found me in an intense and wide-ranging conversation with a much-admired mentor, of many years.  As he remarked, when it was time for us to leave:  “There will be other concerts.”

Lastly, it was much easier to get onto my street, and in the house, this evening.  Hope you each had a joyous Christmas.

Oh, The Whiteness!


December 24, 2016, Prescott- I drove down to Phoenix, early this morning, for a day at Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference. It’s so -named because of being located in the Grand Canyon State, every year, around Christmas.  As many of you know, we Baha’is do not observe Christmas, per se, so this event gives a festive air for those,especially Persian refugees, who have no Christmas traditions of their own.  Nonetheless, we do wish Christians a Merry Christmas, and greatly appreciate the joy of this season.

A memorable presentation, this morning, dealt with the common patterns which are found throughout the Universe, and within living things.  Swirls, circles, triangles, hearts and star shapes are among the more common patterns.  It’s ever-fascinating to observe both these patterns and those which remind us of common daily features (Horsehead Nebula, for example), in many parts of our world, and in the Universe-at- large.

After a couple of other sessions, in the afternoon, and an evening of thoughtful musical presentations, about the need for finding common ground, while standing firm in our values, I realized that it would be essential for me to head back up here, as the snow, while not preventing my drive home, would be a nuisance for my neighbours in the complex, who are not physically able to shovel out.

I made it back up, in about 2 1/2 hours.  There were no road delays, but when I got to my street, I found it hadn’t been plowed yet. It took some pushing from three kind men, a bit of maneuvering back and forth and a helpful policeman, standing watch for any oncoming traffic, but I got my car parked in a temporary spot on the street.  My emergency permit lasts until 10 A.M., tomorrow, so I will need to get up early and shovel like crazy.

Here’s what we face, on our first white Christmas in years.


Merry Christmas, everyone!


Sixty Six, for 66, Part III: People, Places and Things


December 23, 2016, Prescott- School is out, for two weeks.  After helping to re-arrange the classroom, I took off from work, and decided to spend the afternoon and evening around town.  I will head for Phoenix, and the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, tomorrow morning, after a full night’s decompression.

Enough of that.  I wish to share 66 of my favourites- persons, places and things, in keeping with the Christmas spirit of positivity. So, in no particular order:

1. Mountain vistas

2. Posole

3.  Monty Python films

4.  The Olympic Peninsula

5.  Celtic Woman’s music

6. Fried clams

7.  The Harry Potter series (films and books)

8.  Baha’u’llah’s teachings

9.  The harbour at Vannes, Brittany

10. The presence of children

11.  Do Terra Essential Oils

12.  Honesty

13.  Pizza

14.  My biological family-wherever they are

15.  The United States Constitution

16.  Sweet potato pie

17.  Manitou Springs, Colorado

18.  Bears

19.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha

20.  Mint chip ice cream

21.  My Reno family

22. The Grand Canyon

23.  The Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

24.  Trustworthiness

25.  Equity for women and girls

26.  San Diego

27.  The Fisher King

28.  Forthrightness

29.  Jennifer Lawrence, as an actress

30.  Denzel Washington, as an actor

31.   Gatherings at Prescott’s Courthouse Square

32. Justice

33. My mother’s love

34.  Memories of my wife

35.  Sharp cheddar cheese

36.  The Field Museum, Chicago

37.  My Tampa Bay family

38.  Jeju, South Korea

39.  Les Miserables

40.  The Sonoran Desert

41.  My son’s devotion

42.  Crispy bacon

43. Dogs

44. Thumb Butte, Prescott

45.  A job well done

46. Crystal Cove Beach, CA

47.  A Path With Heart

48.  Caramel

49.  Bluegrass music

50.  The Lord of the Rings 

51.  Consistency

52.  Sedona, AZ

53.  Hopi culture

54.  Whales

55.  Persistence in faith

56.  Boulder, CO

57.  Pumpernickel bread

58.  My southwest Missouri family

59.  Lemurs

60.  The Holy Bible

61.  Gyros

62.  Heidelberg

63.  Navajo culture

64.  Reuben sandwiches

65. Hot coffee

66. Southeast Alaska

There are so many more that I love, but I sense the reader’s flagging attention. 🙂





December 22, 2016, Prescott- 

My new supervisor came to call, this afternoon.  She informed us of some fundamental changes, aimed at further empowering our students.  I will have a freer hand, in both teaching our most vulnerable student, individually, and in working with the most advanced student, more on his own terms.

This is the thing about incremental change.  It is most effective when there is common ground, and ways are found to meet the needs of all.  That means there must be lack of greed, and a recognition that there is a place for the highest and the lowest, alike. One can’t denigrate the other.

I want to see this for the nation as a whole, and then the planet as an entity.  It broke my heart to see suffering in declining cities like Zanesville and Allentown, just as much as it did to view  the despair of people in Ferguson, MO, during my travels of the past summer. I care as much for those living on the edge in Appalachia and the Ozarks, as for my friends in Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain, Standing Rock and Pine Ridge.  Extend this to the west and center of Asia,to Rakhine, to the heart of Africa, the favelas and barrios of Latin America, to the camps and ghettos of Europe, and you get the picture.

Each of us can make the transition stronger.  We just have to be consistent, and united.

Sixty-Six, for 66, Part II: Solstices, Hot and Cold


December 21, 2016, Prescott-  So, from today, our days will be getting ever  so slightly longer, with minute temperature changes a-coming, until June 21.  One of the kids asked about the Southern Hemisphere, and learned that the days in Australia,  most of South America and much of Africa, will now be getting shorter, until that same date, next year.

I was in Sydney, once, in mid-September, 1971, and enjoyed a mild Spring week.  I even had a few hours at Bondi Beach, and didn’t need a sweater, on the hydrofoil to Taronga Park.  Our seasons aside, I felt rather at home “Down Under”, and will someday make my way again to those parts, and to many others, for the first time.

Enough of things about which I can do nothing.  I’d rather focus on the emotional solstices that we seem to experience.  A few questions for thought:  How often have friends, some of them trusted, turned aside for the least perceived slight?  How often have friendships turned, because of unshared convictions, or a feeling that perhaps one is no longer “useful”?  How often has a friend looked upon you as a surrogate, either for a lost loved one, or for the person him/herself?

I am comfortable in many climates, and in many situations.  It’s something to which I have gravitated, all my life.  My peculiar form of loyalty is to humanity, as a whole- so slights are forgiven, secrets are kept, and often forgotten, and people are valued, even when they forget to value themselves.  I guess this is a fine way of remaining adaptable to both earthly and human environments.

Human seasons continue to come and go.  May they become milder, in tone and sharper, in meaning.