February 27, 2017, Prescott-

A little observation about the Academy Awards:

Seems there was confusion about envelopes.

Perhaps colour-coding is in order.

Colour was, in itself, not an issue tonight.

The ceremony was bathed in full Moonlight.

The auditors, though, remained in LaLa Land,

jarred only by the stunned expression

on the face of Warren Beatty,

and the concern for justice,

in the eyes of Emma Stone.

Mahershala Ali calmly waited his turn,

knowing, in his heart of hearts,

that the prize was his own.

The gauntlet has now been run,

and the people have won.

Oscar is no longer a grouch,

the voice of reason has spoken out.

Facing reality has trumped sweet escape.

Several notions of beauty,

now leave the beholder agape.

Sixty-six for Sixty Six, Part X:The Hotshots Trail


February 25, 2017, Yarnell-

A lone cactus wren croaked, as I came up the first stretch of hillside, on the way to the spot where, on June 30, 2013, nineteen formidable men met their doom, while working to safeguard this small community at the southeast edge of the Mohave Desert.

I encountered a moderate trail, whose increase in elevation is tempered by long switchbacks, frequent stops to read and ponder each of 19 memorial plaques, set in stones along the way.  Wooden benches and informational signs also provide respite, for anyone who finds the place more strenuous than anticipated.

Yarnell Hill abounds in granite boulders, much as does the back country between here and the east side of Prescott, nearly 50 miles away.  One of these boulders resembles a praying monk.  It is one of the first sights greeting the hiker, on the way up from the trailhead, 1 1/2 miles southwest of Yarnell’s center.  He stands, as lonely as the wildland firefighters must have felt, on that blazing final day of June.



Each man left people in grief- parents, a loyal woman, young children, siblings and entire communities, from Prescott itself to places as far afield as Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina.  Each man is immortalized by his own plaque.  Crew Chief Eric Marsh founded the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and was responsible for the recruitment and training of the men he led, for ten years, in the aftermath of the Indian Fire, which came close to obliterating downtown Prescott, in 2002.


I know some of the family members, of four of the Hotshots.  Each of the families has a solid work ethic, reflected in what their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers gave, however long their terms of service were.

The terrain that presented itself, that blustery, torrid weekend, was no gracious host to anyone hauling 50 pounds of gear uphill.  It was, as I say, of moderate difficulty for me, with my 15 pounds of day pack, and for those between the ages of 15 and 75, who I encountered along the way.  A couple of ladies said they found the trail scary.  I could easily figure out which places to which they were referring, though long ago, I stopped fearing secured heights.

Following, are some scenes of just what the wildland fire crew faced, in terms of terrain.  Three red-tailed hawks circled, above this rock.





Notice the charred mesquite, above, and the manzanita, below.



Unlike today’s hikers, the Hotshots had to pick their way up granite-strewn hillsides.


The town they were working to save survived, and will be a more vigilant place, with regard to fire safety.  Like the boulder below, Yarnell shows a large, if broken heart.


I continued from the main trail’s overlook, at the two-mile marker, to the memorial at the fatality site, another 3/4 mile to the east. At the site, 19 cabions encircle 19 crosses, one for each man who gave his life that day.  Some mementos have been left here, as well as at the flagpole that stands 500 yards to the east.



I sat here, in the wind, contemplating the meaning of sacrifice, while a lone woman circled around the memorial, lost in her own thoughts.  It is said that the mystery of sacrifice is that there is no sacrifice.  That can be understood, but, I would venture, not easily by a small child who wonders why Daddy went away.

Long may the heroes comfort the grieved, from their own private Valhalla.





February 23, 2017, Prescott-

Over the past three years, I have been roundly excoriated by the following:

Alt-right extremists

Far-left extremists



Strict disciplinarians

Free-child advocates

Other Baby-Boomers


Crabby children

Cranky seniors

I must be doing something right.

Whatever, I’m still here.


Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part IX: Relativity


February 22, 2017, Prescott- 

In honour of George Washington and my paternal grandmother, (who would have been 118 today), this day was devoted to keeping my nose to the grindstone and making certain that the disparate, discordant and mutually-dissociated elements that come together, to make up my work day, were harmonized enough so that all were safe.

Lead teacher’s concerns are not the same as those of our students.  I have to listen to and answer her, while insisting to the children that they may NOT kill or maim one another-even if that means getting between them and restraining the wiry, determined revenge-seeker.

At bus time, our kids all got onto their buses, in short order- a welcome change of affairs. My other charges, the rest of the school’s bus riders, experienced a different scenario. There was unusually heavy traffic, parent-wise, today and for the first time this year, there were not one, but two, backlogs of cars.  I kept things going relatively smoothly, nonetheless.

General Washington barely knew a moment’s peace, until he retired to Mount Vernon.  My Nana only knew tranquility after her youngest son was married, and she was able to hold court on Sunday mornings, with us regular visitors in attendance.  I know peace and quiet, from 3:30 on, so by comparison, my days are sweet.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part VIII: Thin Skin


February 21, 2017, Prescott- 

The young fitness center worker,

seeing people of a certain age,

makes a stink face and hides,

when one of us approaches the desk.

A boy of ten,

never acquainted with people of colour,

inveighs about how ugly he thinks they are,

until warned by the teacher

that this is an outdated way of thinking

and is a serious offense.

The President of the United States,

fearful of those who have differing opinions,

rallies those who care for him,

and succeeds in deepening divisions,

which he swore to end.

I go about my life,

needing no approval from anyone,

except my God.

Sticks and stones…..


Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part VII: Sudden and Sodden


February 20, 2017, Anthem- The sight that greeted me, as I headed towards the spot where I heard a small child screaming, was not an alien arachnid, but the upended root system of a dead mesquite.20170220_1258341

The child, likewise, was fine.  He was just being willful and demanding- and mom had everything under control.  This mini-outburst was off to the side of the Anthem segment of the Maricopa Trail.


I was driving back from a lengthy, and rather testy, medical appointment this morning .  (I am fine, and the less said, the better), when I happened upon the Anthem Trailhead.  This was another confirmation of the dictum that one creates one’s own reality.  I had been curious, as to the condition of the Sonoran Desert, after this weekend’s copious rain.  I was also curious, as to the terrain on the Maricopa Trail, between I-17 and Anthem.  The gooey, but flat, hike I took, early this afternoon, answered both questions.

As you can see above, there are a fair number of boulders strewn along this alluvial landscape, and it is entirely within settled horse country.


There are episodic pools, along the way, one of which gave me a smile.  The main water body here, Skunk Creek, was bone dry.  There were no little white and black critters, either, but the tracks and scent of javelina were much in evidence.


I came to this underpass, at the off-ramp from I-17, and spotted the continuation of Maricopa Trail, which would have taken me to its junction with Black Canyon Trail, another 1/8 mile to the west..  So, in essence, I have hiked, in segments, from Mayer to Anthem, over the past 1 1/2 years.  My main interest in the Maricopa Trail lies in its mountains and canyons, but I will certainly take the sense of continuity, along with them.

Now, back to the title of this post.  I was treated to a sudden, brief visit from a friend who lives in Oklahoma, and his little chihuahua.  It seems my Okie friends love their ankle biters, but this little guy gave me a sniff-over and jumped up on my lap.  It was a fast friendship.  They left, ahead of me, this morning, having enjoyed an evening of warmth and stabilization, following their sodden ride through eastern and central Arizona.  At least now, the Sun will temper their return home.

So, the ground will need a few days to dry out, my lower left molar has a temporary crown-with its permanent replacement in three weeks, and I have a new little friend.

Game Plans, and Other Inspirations


February 19, 2017, Prescott-

It’s sunny/overcast, this morning, as is often the case in Prescott, after a day and night of heavy rain.  My phone tells me how things are, weather-wise, in Phoenix, and in Busan, as well as here.  It’s a fine thing to keep tabs on my son’s environment, with the aid of the second frame. Korea is a bit milder than Arizona, at the moment.

We old vets talked of earning one’s keep, and of game plans for our years ahead, at this morning’s breakfast.  I am optimistic, as to my own situation- for the simple reason that I don’t plan on sponging off anyone.  What this means, in practical terms, is that I will, as I’ve said a few times, work full-time until either December, 2020 or May, 2021, then take a couple of years for personal pursuits, helping my son with his efforts and traveling- in a mix of discovery and service.  After that, if health allows, I would be glad to return to service-related work, such as I am now doing.  TIME Magazine, in this week’s edition, posits that elders will need to consider several “retirements”, interspersed with work, unless/until infirmity sets in.  I am pretty much covered, thanks to my late wife’s foresight and our son’s personal vow, in the event of my own infirmity.

Children inspire me, first and foremost.  Besides those with whom I work, day to day, there are little souls, incidental to my life, the thought of whom lifts my spirits.  There are my grandnieces and grandnephews, looking out at me from the side of my refrigerator, and whose exploits are regularly relayed by their proud grandparents, my siblings.  The little neighbour kids, brother and sister, bring me to my picture window, whenever I hear their voices and the wheels of their mini-vehicles, from the alley across the way. There are 5-year-old “Boo”, my surrogate granddaughter, in Nevada; her age mate, “B”, in Juneau; the now 11 and 12-year- old sisters from Belgium, who were just full of mischief, three years ago, when we were in a dining car restaurant, in Bastogne; the spirited middle schoolers from Koln, Germany, who enlisted my help in a “take home” exam, in Brussels’ Grande Place, during that same cross-Atlantic jaunt; my nearly 13-year-old sponsoree, “I”, working diligently at his studies, in the Philippines; countless youngsters who have weighed in on matters great and small, in chance encounters during my travels.

The other main source of inspiration is human resilience, which I see every day, in people of all ages and backgrounds.  My cross-town friend, “M”, toughed out some very lean years, as a single parent, before finally arriving at a place of stability.  My cross-country friend, “K”, slept many nights, God-knows-where, before getting her own apartment, finding an honest means of living and a man who loves her.  A once-homeless man, whom some of you may remember from my posts of 2014-15, now has a steady income and reason to get up every morning and smile.

I believe in the Law of Attraction, and its eleven related laws, as surely as I believe that the Arizona sun will dispel any clouds, no matter how thick they may seem.


The Universe Says “Stay Put”


February 18, 2017, Prescott-  This weekend being a holiday weekend (President’s Day), I had penciled in a hike or two.  Lo and behold, the rains have come!  We have to lick this drought thing somehow, though, so here I sit.

Taxes got done, though, and I have a chance to honour a couple of friends who are moving to California. There will be a gathering for them, tomorrow, at 1 PM.  A friend from Oklahoma will be here, tomorrow afternoon and evening.  Monday will take me down to Phoenix, for a wellness appointment, and I will get in a first hike on the Maricopa Trail afterward.  It will give me a good indication of just how the rain has affected the Sonora Desert, perhaps for the last time until Fall, depending on how warm March and April turn out to be.

Life always manages to bring a full course to my table, whether I’m at work, on the road, or just chilling here in our lovely sky island.  Some say that this is exactly what will keep me going, for years to come.  We’ll see about that, but I know it won’t ever be dull.


Which None Can Really Know


February 16, 2017, Prescott-

I work for someone who doesn’t entirely trust me,

and is constantly seeming to be under the gun.

I work with children who don’t entirely trust anyone,

and are each very much under siege.

I work in a community which thrives on trusting its own,

yet views the wider world with a flinty eye.

I am a native son of a country which is not sure who to trust,

yet asks the rest of the planet to go with its judgement.

I am a citizen of a planet which is getting more intimate,

and is entering a future which none can really know.



February 14, 2017, Prescott-  

It’s said that Valentine sought to safeguard marriage,

from Caesar Claudius II’s misguided bans.

Marriage outlived Claudius,

who outlived Valentine,

by design.

Love is somewhat honoured,

by candy, and flowers.

I have found it is equally honoured,

by being able to be with someone,

for hours.

They turn into years and decades,

and the returns are paid,

in spades.

I had my wonderful decades,

and wish the same to those

coming along.

No matter how one marks today,

let your love remain ever strong.

Another joy on which to hold:

Real love is never gone.