Joy In A Sea of Sand


August 31, 2022, Kayenta- I looked at the normally dry Red Lake, about fifty miles southwest of here, and was amazed to see it full! Traffic and lack of a safe place to pull off kept me from photographing the scene, but seasonal lakes are a definite joy to behold.

I am here, on the way to southern Colorado, and the Colorado East Baha’i Summer School, to which I was invited a month or so ago. There are always numerous visual delights on this route, US Highway 160, which starts near Tuba City and continues eastward, to near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I have been on the route, as far east as Pittsburg, Kansas.

The Badlands, grasslands and Hoodoo country, from Cameron, AZ to the Ute town of Towaoc, Colorado seem energized and rejuvenated by this year’s specially productive monsoon rains. Even those areas normally devoid of vegetation are showing a certain lively energy. The sandy wonderland that is Monument Valley finds its southwestern terminus here, in this small but vibrant Dineh community. So, I have stopped here for the evening, as being among Dineh people has augured well for me, at the start of any journey-whether within the Southwest or transcontinental.

Monument Valley is a sea of sand, but what marvels that sand has helped create, with help from wind and water! I will begin tomorrow with a few photos and meditations of joy.

Questions About the Ordinary


August 30, 2022- The students were asked to draw their non-dominant hand, to examine both front and back and to write down any questions that came to mind about the hand. This was all by way of the commenter explaining how great discoveries are made, just by taking time to look at things that one sees every day. He pointed out that Galileo, using a telescope that Italian military scouts employed to keep watch on intruders, managed to see the physical features of Earth’s Moon. Mary Anning’s curiosity about rocks on the beach at Lyme Regis led to her finding the complete fossilized skeleton of a plesiosaurus. She helped identify a skeleton her brother had found, of an ichthyosaur, and later herself found the fossilized remains of a pterosaur.

With that background, the two classes of 10-year-olds were set to the examination of the non-dominant hands of themselves and of a partner. Some came up with as many as ten questions. Others could not think of any. Such is the range of curiosity, even among children. Some are ready to examine the world and all that is therein-or far beyond it. Others are like the baked earth that follows a period of warm rain. While we ought give up on no one, a goodly dose of patience will be needed, in encouraging some to learn-while others are just late bloomers, who will eventually find the stirrings of curiosity breaking through, like shoots through a hard soil that is cracking open.

So many times, I have asked, with regard to an ordinary phenomenon: “Why is that?” As long as that persists, I will wake each day with a sense of anticipation.

Hiatus for The Rushing Streams


August 29, 2022- Lynx Creek was impassible, as friend Akuura and I looked out over it, on a short hike celebrating a break in the monsoon. That is okay by me, as the creeks and streams of our area need to have a high flow, if for no other reason than to ever so slightly raise the water table, and flow level of the rivers into which they feed: Agua Fria, Verde and Bill Williams (which in turn feeds into the Colorado River.)

The monsoon itself is on hiatus, with sunny weather predicted from now until Friday, when there are expected to be more storms throughout the weekend. Next week, from Labor Day until Thursday, 9/8, will bring another hiatus, then more monsoon rains, the following weekend. Still and all, this summer has brought the best monsoon we’ve had here in many a year.

Here are some Lynx Creek scenes.

This was at the west end of a residential area.
Scene just off a Forest Service road, in Salida Gulch area
Upstream, in Salida Gulch

Where a cross-creek trail washed out

This area is one of those in which I have spent little time, up to now. It is definitely worth more exploration, in the weeks of early October and those of November.

I returned to a frequent haunt today, finding that the return of hot sunny days affects some adults and children in a not altogether pleasant way. I sense that humidity makes many people disagreeable-and there is also the difficulty that some have with sleeping, on sultry nights. I am fortunate to have ceiling fans that keep my sleep patterns from being interrupted. There is AC, in a pinch, but I try to keep the use of that to a minimum. Other people, particularly in high rise apartment buildings and in older houses,are not so fortunate.

I like the idea of living each day to the fullest, though, regardless of weather.



August 28, 2022- The soulful strains coming from the alto saxophone were an unexpected delight, given that all the other sounds of the evening came from guitars, drums and the human voice. All the more an unexpected delight was the person playing the horn.

Sierra, a friend of mine for five years, has shown, over and over, that her talents are of the broadest range: Herbalist, barista, carpenter, drywall layer, floor painter, guitarist, poet, singer and, as she says is her earliest musical skill- saxophonist (since the age of twelve, several years ago). She is one of several younger friends with broad ranges of skills and, contrary to a widespread misconception, a solid work ethic.

The best way I can see to encourage people of any age to realize their talents is to involve them in the work planning process, from its inception. Sierra has achieved an enormous expansion of her enterprise, with a coffee, tea and chocolate shop, a commercial kitchen, an herb shop, a new performance and conference room and other facilities to be added soon. Her team is treated well, and is increasingly involved in decision-making. Her partner, a musician, is a key member of her support system.

Friends who are closer to my age, and who also have a variety of skills, are succeeding to the extent that they involve their paid helpers in decision-making. It’s just a better way to guarantee success, in the long run.



August 27, 2022- In the middle of the 1990s, a gentleman took the helm of Native American Baha’i Institute, which heretofore had been a project of local Dineh and White residents, and persuaded a good number of us to adopt a series of best practices. The focus was to remain on serving the needs of the local community, but with a wider vision-improving the educational programs, both spiritual and academic, which were beginning to be offered by the Institute. The gentleman and his wife administered the Institute for 3 years or so, then were called to do other work in the Phoenix area. Their philosophy and programs, while being put in the background by their immediate successors, never went away and have found new life, in the present administration.

Joel Orona, MBA, PhD, worked tirelessly on a variety of programs during his long career, which ended a year ago today. His soul’s work was to uplift both the view that the First Nations peoples of North America have of themselves and the view that mainstream America has of its Indigenous inhabitants. Academic standards held by Dr. Orona were very high, and so was his commitment to presenting the culture of his ancestral Apache people. He did both, and with his wife, sons and grandchildren, was a familiar face at various cultural institutions associated with Native American art, music and dance.

This morning, several people from around the planet celebrated the life of Joel Orona, his radiant spirit and long list of accomplishments, in a special First Year remembrance. He accomplished much, to the betterment of the Dineh (Navajo), the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and his own Apache (Inde) people, over four decades. None of those achievements, however, eclipsed his role as husband, father and Tata (grandfather). This was underscored by the remembrances each of his family members had of him.

Radiance remains, long after a person of substance is gone.

Staying Patient


August 26, 2022- I have a residual patience issue, with people who are abrupt, discounting and themselves impatient. What a vicious circle this could be!

This noon, as I was in the midst of lunch at a local diner, a man sat down and asked my opinion about an Asian restaurant he was considering visiting. In the ensuing exchange, every comment I made was challenged or discounted, until finally he caught himself and acknowledged that everyone is different. My simmering impatience was thus dissipated and the rest of the conversation went more smoothly.

Penny used to tell me that my greatest challenge was indeed staying patient, in the face of impatience. I spent many hours contemplating just how to understand such people. What was the source of their badgering and importunity? I observed a few such folks from a distance, and listened to their exchanges with others. It seems, like so many other annoying behaviours, and a few dangerous ones, to stem from insecurity.

“A child becomes what is lived.” “Hurt people hurt people”; “The hurried child can never relax.” Thus it is that a person who never knows what it feels like to be treated with kindness and patience passes their opposites on to those who are encountered.

I chose to break the cycle today, and it saved both of us a ton of grief.

Why I’m Not Scared


August 25, 2022- The robust girl raised a barely-concealed middle finger at one of her classmates. When she saw me looking at her, she lowered the dirty digit and instead put her other hand in front of her face, with the middle finger again stealthily in my direction. “I know what you’re doing, so knock it off”, was my rejoinder. She put her hands down and went back to her work. None of her classmates saw fit to challenge me, after that, and besides, they got to listen to music, with headphones or ear buds. The regular teacher arrived early from her morning training, and was pleased to see how much work had been accomplished.

It has been a long time, since I realized palpable fear. Maybe because, as one gentleman said, a few years back, I am “in the fourth quarter” of my life, and there hasn’t been much that has yet to be tossed my way. I’ve been shot at, and missed; had “the stuffin'” knocked out of me; been psychically assaulted, resulting in physical injury; and bee surrounded by thugs, who were intent on administering a beat down. (The last one was ended,without harm to yours truly, when a more prominent local ruffian walked in and told his minions to “get the hell into the back of the truck!”) Large groups of people have come and gone from my life, and not seen fit to intimidate or harass me. Mentally ill people, especially if they are unpredictable, still need to be handled carefully, but by and large, they don’t threaten me, nor I them.

Of course, I choose my battles and do seek first to understand, to listen and then be heard. Mother’s admonition to not speak, until the other person has taken a breath after even the most seemingly trivial of remarks, or the most windy of monologues, has reaped me dividends, foe many years now. That has applied even when someone has launched into a lengthy diatribe. If there is something of value in a lambasting, then I will take it. That’s even true when a troll, hiding in cyber anonymity, launches into a tirade. I can then cut someone off, and glean whatever truth has been imparted, thus perhaps improving myself.

Basically, I am not scared, because I maintain awareness of my surroundings and find that no one, inherently, is a threat-in and of self.

Soaking Wet


August 24, 2022-

When walking with a fine new book in hand,

and the clouds decided to stop expanding,

I found myself the target of drops,

and there was place to conveniently stop.

Thankfully, it took but five minutes,

to get to the safety of Home Base,

and be free from lightning’s capricious gaze.

For the first time since 2008, I found myself caught in a downpour, though it didn’t get to full intensity until after I had managed to get inside. Then, to add to the drama, there was the spectacle of a recycling bin being carried along by a torrent of water, followed by a determined neighbour walking after it, despite the fact that the rain was pummeling him. Man and bin returned to their residence, just as the rain was tapering off- so I think he decided to stop under the overhang of the sports bar next door.

Friends across town later told me they had lost power, for about thirty minutes. We lost ours for a few seconds, just enough to require a couple of resets. This monsoon remains the most prolific so far this century-at least in our area, and that’s saying a lot, as I recall 2004, 05, 08 and 2010 as having served up some ferocious microbursts.

In other news, I finished my Spring & Summer reading: Gandhi, An Autobiography; The Four Agreements; Leonora in the Morning Light; The Maxwells of Montreal, Volume 1. Now come the Summer & Fall selections: John Adams; PrairyErth; Otherlands and Learn Well This Tablet. I have previously mentioned the first three listed above. “Maxwells” is an account of the initiators of the Baha’i community of Canada. I will read the second volume over the winter. “John Adams” is, of course, a biography of the second President of the United States, by the late David McCullough. “PrairyErth” is a detailed study of the topography, flora, fauna and communities of Chase County, Kansas, by William LeastHeat Moon. “Otherlands” is a scholarly exploration of Earth’s pre-human eras, from the inception of life through the Pleistocene, by Thomas Halliday. “Tablet” is a study of the Baha’i prayer, Tablet of Ahmad, by the late H. Richard Gurinsky, who I knew personally.

This weekend will hopefully take me back up to Dharma Farm, for some grounding time, before heading to Colorado in the middle of next week, for a few days. It would also be nice to get in a hike or two, visit Synergy and carry on with regular weekend morning activities. It’s been a fairly quiet and lovely month thus far, overall. September also promises to be lovely, but far from quiet.

Eliminating Piles


August 23, 2022- A friend sent a message this morning, about a large body of work that needed to get done this week, which she has to do herself. Shortly afterward, another friend sent a request that I help at a coming event, by washing and drying glasses. Tomorrow, I will be part of a team that sorts out and inventories the contents of a small trailer which will be used in the event that a shelter is needed, upon any sort of local disaster.

Late summer,and early autumn, are times when farmers and ranchers look to getting everything set for a potentially long winter. A productive growing season helps, in that regard. This has been, in the Southwest at least, a very wet and sometimes volatile summer. It is well that we have this much moisture-and it would be nice if the planet as a whole could enjoy sufficient rainfall, though that would seem to go against the physics of weather.

There are going to be constant tasks to get done, throughout anyone’s life, if for no other reason than this world is something of a proving ground for developing spiritual qualities, such as compassion, cooperation, diligence, perseverance and trustworthiness. Some work is going to be harder than others, and some work needs to be repeated, no matter how well it is done the first time. The piles may be replaced by still other piles, but in the end, it is the attitude one takes towards such work that determines how hard it is to deal with subsequent burdens.

These thoughts came to mind, as I briefly met two friends who were off for a day of working compost piles, surely a job that requires diligence and perseverance.



August 22, 2022- It is essential to own what’s yours.

It was an “oops” morning. I had made a wrong notation on my place of assignment, for this morning’s efforts. As far as I can figure, two assignments popped up, at the same time, and I clicked on one, while mentally registering the other. It all worked out, and I did some good work at Location B. Once done, an acknowledgement of my error was in order, and Supervisor gave me a pass-and a pat on the back, for overall excellent work. It pays to own one’s behaviour and its results.

It is essential to relinquish what is no longer yours. The title to Saturn Vue was returned to me, due to a slight gap in communication, itself stemming from momentary uncertainty from the insurance companies and body shop, as to the reparability of the vehicle. This afternoon, I returned the title, one more time, to the insurance company. This time, it will stay with them, as the law requires. Kia Sportage is now my road friend, and the settlement funds were transferred to the dealership, as agreed.

It is essential to own one’s love for humanity. I returned to the Open Feed, in which I assisted two weeks ago, letting the team know that my absence last week had nothing to do with having been threatened by a disgruntled homeless man. God knows, I ignore threats and go with what my heart says. The diners thanked me for ladling the soup, after which it was prudent to help the lone janitor by folding up chairs, so that he could focus on vacuuming the huge carpet. There is no daylight between my feelings for homeless veterans and undocumented immigrants; for people of colour and “rednecks”; for known friend and “stranger”.

It is essential to own one’s dignity and worth. Love for humanity does not mean enabling the grifter, the liar, the imposter. In fact, the opposite is true. Making such people either follow the Golden Rule, or cutting off all contact with them, is the true loving choice. I have elaborated on that, previously, but mention it here, lest trolls try to engage in false equivalency.

It is essential to own what’s yours, and relinquish what isn’t.