Beatitude-Inspired

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December 22, 2021-

Blessed is the father who willingly changes diapers, uncomplainingly paints his daughter’s nails and enjoys her “tea party”.

Blessed is the mother who takes a few minutes and tosses baseballs into her son’s waiting glove, teaches him to wash his own clothes and make his own lunch.

Blessed is the son who practices humility, learns to sew on buttons, willingly washes the dishes and his own clothes and keeps an orderly room.

Blessed is the daughter who stands up for herself, never regarding her position in the family as subservient, who pursues her own dreams and who can maintain her own vehicle.

Blessed is the neighbour who looks out for others in his apartment block, on her street, in their village.

Blessed is the citizen who considers all points of view, who is not tied to only the immediate needs of own community, own nation or own generation, but who has the well-being of the planet in mind as well.

Blessed is the generation which loves those who came before and those who come after, as well as its own members.

Blessed are the people who look out for all sentient beings and who are open to communicating with those heretofore not known to them.

Seventy-One and Counting, Day 4

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December 2, 2021- It was a fine thing, to again have hot water for my shower and for washing the dishes. It turned out that the landlord’s own apartment also had lukewarm water. That led to things being straightened out, in short order. It is also just in time, as the unusually mild weather we’ve had is about to transition to more seasonable temperatures.

Rampage. Four young people, two boys and two girls, were killed by a gunman, on Tuesday, at Oxford High School, north of Detroit. There are two counties which have now closed their schools for the rest of this week, at minimum, with either accomplices to the shooter or copycats, threatening to up the number of victims. Two weeks ago, an automobile was the weapon of choice, for an unhinged man, acting out of hatred. Tuesday, in Oxford, the killer reverted to a firearm, of the sort used so often to inflict pain and suffering, these past twenty-nine years. This is another of those instances that gives the lie to the claim that only guns can stop guns. The reality is that only mental health programs, getting to the roots of what make unstable people go over the edge, can augment firearms registration and safety training to the point where gun-based violence is a rarity, rather than a pestilence.

Choices. I have reached the point where my work assignments are going to be carefully selected. More of my efforts are to be self-care, with a fair amount of volunteer work, though that is turning out to be less than before. Keeping a healthy immune system will be the pet project for the foreseeable future. I have seen four of my most treasured spiritual teachers pass on this year, partly because they just reached an age where their systems gave out. There was, however, also the matter of compromised immunity.

“Welcome to Earth”. This is the heading on the December issue of National Geographic Magazine. It is intended to take a fresh look at our planet, with a specific focus on the Serengeti Plain ( a place I fully intend to visit, along with other places in Africa, sometime between 2024-26). There are pieces devoted to each aspect of the ecosystem-including the human element, without which no amount of goodwill and effort at saving the beleaguered wildlife will suffice to keep this global treasure for the sake of generations to come-both for the area’s residents and all those around the planet, who value the place from afar. This will be a classic edition of NGM, much like the special editions on France, Australia and The Oceans.

There is so much to be done, locally and abroad. I can only promise to take the best care of my autumnal self. From there, everyone I love will be well-tended.

Seventy-One and Counting, Day 2

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November 30, 2021- Son was busy, during our after-lunch walk, counting any and all critters he spotted along the nature trail that wends it way along Mill Creek, just east of the apartment complex which was, until this afternoon, my Texas home for a week. There were eight squirrels, a crane and probably five green beetles of one kind or another. Such is the condition of an ecosystem that is in the early stages of a managed recovery.

Lunch. Yunhee made her third classic Korean meal in a row. After mandu gook (dumpling soup), and miyok gook (seaweed soup) came bulgogi (the famous Korean marinated barbecued beef). Every meal taken at home was heavenly.

Farewells. I left my little family behind, after a lowkey, but well-spent week. We did not leave the house much, but did take in a few nature trails-including the aforementioned Mill Creek Trail; the latest James Bond film-replete with an Agent 007 who is not Bond, James Bond-and a JB mini-he; and a couple of restaurants-the surprisingly good Tommy Tamale and the earnest, but not overwhelming, Jake’s Burgers and Beer. About the latter, the perky server, Maria, took good care of us, when she wasn’t hanging out with her friend-but that is a maturity thing, not a matter of character. The fare itself was lackluster.

Aram and I had important conversations about spirituality and preparing oneself for parenthood-before even trying to start a family. He has a clear vision about both matters, which I find re-assuring. I was also able to give him extra moral support, while he finished a college project he found nettlesome at times. I’m ever happy to be with my little family.

Return flight. I wandered into an American Airlines bank of check-in stations that were apparently meant for connecting passengers. The agents looked bored out of their skulls, so they were more than happy to check my bag and direct me to the correct gate. TSA is a bit more exacting at DFW than at Sky Harbor. Shoes and belts still come off, and the efficient site manager has bins underneath each standing point along the conveyor belt. Woe be unto anyone who takes a bin from the used pile, which is unsanitized. The manager reminded me of Queen Latifah’s character on the current “The Equalizer”- as officious as needed, very professional and very sure of self. The confusion over a delay of the flight turned out to be confusion, and not fact. My flight to Phoenix left on time. I had a relatively brief waiting period in the boarding area and the plane was loaded on time. Nice seatmates, from Louisiana and California bantered, mostly with one another. I occupied myself by watching a silent screening of “Kong vs. Godzilla”, which I have seen as a captive audience, once before. The Hollow Earth theory is something of which I had heard before, when I was about twelve. Thankfully, it has been relegated to B-grade SyFy.

Sky Harbor. Once on the ground in Phoenix, it took only fifteen minutes to retrieve my checked bag. I had changed the shuttle time to Prescott, owing to the rumoured flight delay. So, back upstairs it was, to Blue Mesa Tacos. The new cook was being strictly supervised by the manager, but she was doing a fine job on her own-for which I praised her. The quesadilla was perfect.

Around 6:20, the shuttle to Prescott arrived. As there was space available, I made a quick appeal to the driver and explained the switcheroo. He was glad to take me along, and by 8:30, we were all back at Home Base.

All good things come to an end, followed by other good things.

The Beautiful Universe

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October 6, 2021- In the spiritist classic, “The Initiate In The New World”, Cyril Scott’s Master gets the novice’s attention, by putting the acolyte’s being smitten by a comely woman, who is twenty years his junior, in perspective. The learned one cautions him to remember that there are billions of beautiful scenes, throughout the Universe, millions of cases of such salubriousness on Earth alone and even in the human realm, over a billion humans (this was 1927) who reflect one sort of beauty or another. He encourages the Initiate to nurture his friendship with the younger woman, but in the context of a deep and variegated relationship.

This, of course, is emblematic of the best of marriages, of the most enduring friendships. Yet, how easily one can turn aside from even a long-term, promising, even mutually satisfying bond, over the most trifling of disappointments or disagreements. I’ve had strong bonds fade into nothingness or turn into estrangement, because one or both of us was unwilling to see the ties from a wider perspective.

For quite some time, though, I have taken to viewing a far-deeper universe-still being appreciative of comeliness, certainly, but hardly placing physicality front and center. The closest of my friends are those whose spiritual or ethereal beauty radiates in their daily lives and in all their dealings with those around them.

Thus was the little girl showing me a heart rock, she had found on the school playground, the highlight of my rather productive day. Heart rocks show that one is paying attention to one’s surroundings and is wise to a connection with nature. So, too, is paying attention to brilliant risings and settings of the sun, to rainbows, sunbows and moonbows. Thunder and lightning can be experienced as majestic.

Thus is a smile the most comforting of all expressions, and the hug the most reassuring of all interactions between two people. The pet’s unconditional affection can soothe, after the longest, hardest of days. The baby’s coo is the payback, for all that a mother has endured over the period of gestation.

Thus does beauty transcend all the transactional thought, cynicism, unilateral dependency and outright greed that drain the spirit, crush the soul and attempt to negate the essential goodness placed in all of us, by the Creator.

Blitzy

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September 19, 2021-

This is a Blitz Poem, a stream-of-consciousness piece, about mood swings, among other things.

In The Mood

Mood blue can turn into mood indigo

I can be of a mood to laugh

Laugh with friends

Laugh at folly.

Folly of leaders

Folly of the masses.

Masses of paperwork

Masses of clouds.

Clouds drop rain

Clouds my judgment .

Judgment brings pain

Judgment brings lessons .

Lessons come hard

Lessons drive change.

Change is a constant

Change is a process.

Process builds systems

Process builds patience.

Patience means perseverance

Patience is a virtue.

Virtue shakes vice

Virtue brings challenge .

Challenge builds strength

Challenge begs a question.

Question authority

Question existence .

Existence is eternal

Existence is the start of life .

Life can be hard

Life means feeling.

Feeling groovy

Feeling anger .

Anger spurs action

Anger is a mood .

Mood

Swings

Sharing Popcorn With Chickens

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September 5, 2021- As I enjoyed fresh popcorn, whilst sitting in the small outdoor shade area, the occasional dropped kernel was swiftly scooped up by one or another of the chickens that freely roamed the area.

One of the best things about visiting Dharma Farm is that I never know what the three high functioning kids, or their infant sister, will come up with, over the course of an afternoon and evening. The Farm is on the north end of the unincorporated, but populous, community of Paulden, being one of a dozen working farms that contribute to the food supply of western Yavapai County.

I first met the Schaelling-Pena family three years ago, during Convergence at Arcosanti, a pre-COVID annual gathering of some of the region’s brightest lights. While Convergence has pretty much gone by the wayside, my friendship with Landen and Holly, along with their small group of friends, has only strengthened over these few years. There were two little girls, when I first made the acquaintance of the family. Then came a little boy, two years ago, followed by Girl #3, five months ago.

The children are being raised forthrightly, and gently, by their parents. Logical consequences are part of the regimen, but guilt is NOT a tool that is being applied. They are shown how to properly handle daily tasks and are amazingly adept at things that many children have to wait until they are at least ten, before they are allowed to attempt.

I am fortunate to be one of those to whom the children have taken well, almost immediately. Of course, they take turns being effusive and reticent, as many children do-but they each know they are loved and that their feelings will be honoured and validated. I was showered with love in return, today, and the many garden vegetables and berries that were offered underscored that bond.

The chickens, and the three-legged dog, seem to sense this connection, also. Everything, within reason, is shared here.

A Pentina Palette

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August 25, 2021- Last night, a small group of us engaged in a conversation about the effect of colour on the human psyche. It is not surprising that certain colours generate aggression and others have a calming effect.

The following pentina, a variation on the sestina that uses five sets of five lines, rather than six sets of six lines, with a two-line envoi, of five words (with either two words on the first line and three on the second, or vice versa.) considers the matter of colour.

The day begins with a shimmer of gold. In less than an hour, the sky reflects the warmth of blue. Our majestic life-generating orb sends down beams of yellow. Too much time outdoors, with no protection, leaves one red. This can be relieved by the shade offered in green.

A sense of healing energy is evoked by green. Power flows into the mind that senses gold. The call to forceful action arises from red. Calm reassurance emanates from blue. A sense of mirth springs up from yellow.

The initiation of harvest is indicated by yellow. This comes after a long season of green. Through the transition, air and water remain blue. As the change progresses, some organisms present gold. Still others show off their red.

Excitement arose, upon the entrance of the lady in red. Her hair contrasted, being of shimmering yellow. She walked untrammeled, through the field of green. At the end of the path, stood a field house, domed in gold. The structure’s centerpiece was a large pool of blue.

Serenity ‘s imparting of peaceful strength, flows in blue . Doubt and fear stir, when enveloped in red. Only a modicum of joy can come from green. More fleeting still is the satisfaction proferred by gold. All can be made peaceful again, by a light bath of yellow.

The colours of the school where I work are gold and blue, with a swatch of yellow. Students are good here, when it comes to stopping on red and going on green.

Five Little Pools

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April 19, 2021, Sedona- A prime hiking buddy and I set out, fairly early, for a trail here that passes what are called Seven Sacred Pools. The area was frequented, in bygone times, by people indigenous to northern and north central Arizona. The area now called Sedona and Oak Creek Village was known, even then, as a place with healing waters and a spiritual air about it. The people we know as Sinagua settled around the region, and their settlements in this area are known to the Hopi, who are among their descendants, as Palatkwapi-“Place of Red Rocks”.

Soldier Pass Trail is one of those for which parking is limited. A and I found a spot near a city tennis court, and walked along the side of the road, for about 1.3 miles. On the way back, we noticed several people taking a parallel trail through the woods, so that would be a likely route for subsequent visits. Today, though, we saw amazing views from the roadside.

View towards Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, from Soldier Pass Road. The people who have settled in this lush canyon have settled well.
Zoomed images of the iconic rock formations, accessible from Oak Creek Village
The lushness of the forest canyons, that were carved by Oak Creek’s tributaries, are a wonder unto themselves.
We came to the trailhead for Soldier Pass Trail, finding it of moderate difficulty.
Above, is Sphinx Rock, which remained watching over us.
Devil’s Kitchen is a sinkhole that sits just under Sphinx Rock.
This shows the position of the two great features.
Zoomed view of the southern end of Coffee Pot Rock.
My selfie with Coffee Pot Rock
Light glints off Sphinx Rock
We came to the Seven Sacred Pools, finding five of them with a small amount of water in each. Three are visible from this vantage point.
Looking carefully, note the remnants of a cairn building contest, of some time ago.
This is a section of Brins Ridge, to the east of Soldier Pass and separate from Brins Mesa.

Thus, my first visit to the Seven Sacred Pools introduced me to five of them, with the hope that there will be monsoon rains this year, and perhaps a view of the storied gushing stream, with small cascades heading where the cairns are now.

The Butterfly’s Heart

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March 22, 2021, Sedona- After an unexpected, but necessary flurry of activity, both online and around Prescott, I set out around Noon, and came up to the southwest corner of this ever-delightful town, to complete another segment of Limekiln Trail, which I have been walking in segments, these past five months.

Today’s route took me from Deer Pass, where I had left off last time, to Dry Creek, a distance of 5 miles, roundtrip. The route primarily follows Forest Service and ranch roads, with Dry Creek Road (FR 9845),leading up the creek’s small, but captivating, ravine. Here, I saw a lone jogger, a few tents in strategic places, and a pair of Shelties, poised and ready to protect their person.

I saw rolling grassland, long white irrigation tubes, people in jeeps and trucks struggling to navigate the rocky canyon road, and a beckoning wall of red rock-off to the northeast. I saw lots of heart-shaped rocks-and a butterfly rock, embedding an inner heart.

It was an inauspicious start, at Deer Pass Trailhead.
It looks like someone from Wickenburg lost their hat.
After a half mile walk along a ranch road, the descent into Dry Creek Ravine began.
A small field of volcanic rock and silt lay at the bottom of the hill.
After passing a few tents and wishing Godspeed to some slow-moving vehicles, I reached Dry Creek.
It was, well, dry. The creekbed is alluring, though, in and of itself.
I walked a bit further up the hill, to my stopping point for the day, from which Red Rock Loop Road is 2.3 miles further, and thus a good parking spot for the next segment, which will bring me back to this spot.
Delights can be small, as well as large, around here, This butterfly-shaped rock reveals its oblong heart.

Secret Cove

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March 16, 2021- My hiking buddy and I got up onto the rocks above one of Watson Lake’s most beautiful sections. As she is not quite up to clambering around the more difficult rock sections as yet, we turned back. Another time will suffice; Secret Cove is not going anywhere.

There are a myriad trails through the Glacial Age’s gift to Prescott: Granite Dells. The hoodoos and small granite mounds that dominate the northeast corner of this town have been a draw for residents and visitors alike, since the mid-Nineteenth Century. The dells form an arc, rising on the north side of Watson Lake and swinging west, to its fellow reservoir, Willow Lake (that sector being called Willow Dells), the area is a hodgepodge of City Park and private residences that have, for the most part, been built in a manner that respects the wilderness.

We walked mostly along a converted rail bed, known here as Peavine Trail. Its wide, flat mien allows bicyclists, equestrians and disabled people equal space, with hikers free to go off on any one of a dozen trails, mostly leading to overlooks of the lake.

Below, is an old photo of Secret Cove, from a hike I took there in November, 2011. The tranquility of the place doesn’t change, and even being shy of the cove itself, we felt a deep serenity.

There will be several visits to this hidden gem, in the near future-especially as the weather gets mild again.