Stirrings In The Heartland

2

July 11-12, 2019, Richmond to Goshen, IN-

I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby.  One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.

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Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years.  There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground.  Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass.  Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering.  So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.

After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post,  my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies.  Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.

I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night.  Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.

This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade.  Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender.  I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen.  I could easily find my way back here.

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By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full.  On  a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought.  Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit.  In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of  witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.

There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie.  He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with  European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part.  I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part  of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.

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First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.

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This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.

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I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown.  This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece.  I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.

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A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown.  It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset.  A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit.  It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.

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I headed towards my place of rest:  Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat.  After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood.  Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana.  Anyone think differently?

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I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens.    There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood.  It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.

 

Delmarva: A Shared Gem-Part 1

2

July 1, 2019, Onley, VA-

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The fitful man stood with his fists clenched and his body rigid, as I glanced over his son’s shoulder, for a split-second, whilst the boy was reading from a placard about flounder.  It occurred to me, momentarily, that a flounder was my my first caught fish, all those years ago, in Lynn Harbor.  I kept walking and found my own space, without any reaction to the father, who didn’t bother me further.

Such is Cape Charles, a magnet for tourists such as the above-mentioned, and a serene place for year-round residents. I came here, over the long bridge/tunnel from Hampton Roads, on the Virginia mainland.  This southern segment of the Delmarva region, more commonly called the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, is a mix of long peninsula and a myriad of islands.  Tangier, on the western (Chesapeake Bay) side, and Chincoteague/Assateague, on the eastern (Atlantic) side are the best known islands.

Cape Charles, at the tip of the peninsula, is the first place visitors see, once off the bridge.  It is, thankfully, not as commercialized as I had thought it would be, and great care has been taken to safeguard the “land’s end” area. This, and Hampton Roads, are the only places in Virginia where one can witness both sunrise and sunset, over open water.

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The dunes are largely protected from foot traffic.  There is but one trail, along the periphery of the dunes and one trail over the mounds.

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Bird nesting is encouraged, with the placement of platform buoys around the Bay.  Both piping plovers and gulls nest in the area.  Plovers, though, are ground nesters, and are endangered, so protective caging is placed around the nests, while the young are maturing.  Below, is a gull nest.

 

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Marsh grasses help filter runoff from creeks which empty into the Bay.

 

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This resort hotel is one of three in Cape Charles.

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Cape Charles’ downtown did bustle, especially around the ice cream shops, on this sultry Sunday evening.

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I found a comfortable, quiet little motel in the commercial center of Onley, in the middle of  Virginia’s portion of Delmarva.  A bit north of Onley is Accomack, one of the oldest settlements on the Eastern Shore.  Here is a view of the historic Court House.

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I topped off the eastern Virginia excursion, with a visit to Assateague Island, part of Chincoteague National Seashore.  Chincoteague, in the language of the Delawarean (Lenape)  First Nations people who lived on the adjacent mainland, means “large stream” or “inlet”.  Assateague, in the same language, means “a river beyond” or “a running stream between”.  The two words were also used by Europeans to refer to two closely-related groups of Delawarean peoples.  The descendants of these nations are today living  in the area of Snow Hill, Maryland and in southern Delaware.

Two areas of interest on Assateague are the Lighthouse, which can accommodate groups of ten people at a time, and the Chincoteague Pony viewing stations.

Here are a few scenes of, and from, Assateague Light House.  It is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, two members of which greet visitors, at the entrance and on the top viewing area.

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Chincoteague ponies (feral horses) are well-known, around the world, in particular for their annual channel swims. This year’s is to take place on July 24.

Although it is now a human-coordinated event, the ponies probably swam without human encouragement, when the need arose for going between grazing areas on different parts of the island.  Humans may have contributed to the feral horses’ swimming behaviour, by erecting a fence between the Maryland and Virginia sections of Assateague.

 

Here are two scenes of the horses at the viewing point, early this afternoon.

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What appears to be a lone pony is actually a member of a group whose other members were on the move, when this was taken.

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Finally, no visit to a resort in summer is complete without a visit to an ice cream parlour.  So, I stopped for a bit at Mister Whippy!

http://www.misterwhippy.com/

NEXT:  The First State’s Capital

 

 

Lighthouse, Shimmering In The Heat

0

June 18, 2019, Amarillo-

I made it a point to stop here today, for two reasons.  One was my old Xanga buddy, Wes, and his ties to the Amarillo that was.  The other was Lighthouse Trail, in Palo Duro State Park.  I always meet the most delightful people, through both Wes and Palo Duro.  Today was no exception.

Texas Tidbits (Wes’ old Xanga moniker) suggested a meet-up at Smokey Joe’s, which I recall as a most delightful spot.  The cutest, and toughest, little lady was our server last time.  Her co-worker, J, was our gracious and ever-attentive hostess, on this fine afternoon.  We sat around for about an hour, while I savoured a Tex-Mex burger, and solved at least some of the issues that plague mankind.

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Now, I could sit in the presence of Wes and the ladies, for hours on end, but my hiking legs would not forgive me for such self-indulgence.  So, I bid pardner adieu and set off for Palo Duro.

Upon arrival, the lovely and friendly ranger pointed out that many folks had been their before me, snapping up all the campsites. No worries here, though.  The main point of my visit was that Light House in the desert, shimmering as it was, in the heat.  I brought enough water to fuel a truckload of cattle, and set off on the six-mile round trip.

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Capitol Peak and an unnamed “human” figure loom in the near distance, before the trail to Light House Rock veers to the right.

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Other magnificent formations grace the way to Light House.

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The first close-up view of the Light House formation, came as I reached the crest of the only real ascent of the hike.

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Here they are, one at a time.

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This shows the actual distance between the two rocks.

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As the first rumblings of a storm were heard, I took this last close-up.

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Whilst I was doing this, another man was contenting himself with climbing a path to the top of the rock on the left.  He spent several minutes there, fortunately getting down, as the skies darkened and racing up the path, to avoid the rain.

As I was walking back, I met a young couple with a dog, and pointed out to them that the storm was getting much closer.  They deiced to head back and stayed with me to the parking area.  E and M are a delightful pair, reminding me of my son and daughter-in-law.  We noted the lushness of the surrounding area, as a sign of the copious rain that the Panhandle has enjoyed this Spring.

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We got back to our cars, just as the rain was intensifying.  No sooner was everyone safely inside the vehicles, than hail started falling-furiously.   Yet, once we got to the park entrance:  Voila!  The sunshine returned.  With no camping site, I drove back to Amarillo, and have a room at Camelot Inn and Suites.

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Yes, another good day was had in the desert!

NEXT:  When Armies Wear Each Other Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Encouragement

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJune 14, 2019, Ganado, AZ-

During the course of the tortuous process of incarceration, known as The Long Walk, white America showed itself to be of two minds, regarding the Dineh (Navajo) people.  There was the idea that, by removing Dineh, the resources of the area in which they lived would be available to the “Greater Nation”.   President Lincoln also retained the distrust and dislike of First Nations people, which he had carried since his participation in the Indian Wars of 1818-20.  He did not have to be cajoled into signing off on this travesty.

In all of this, an even-handed, but not easily-swayed, Dineh leader named Totsohnii Hastiin (“Man of the Big Water”) resisted incarceration, initially, fleeing to the Grand Canyon and living among his paternal relatives, who were Hopi.  He learned of his people’s suffering at Fort Wingate, and so surrendered, after a time.

When the Dineh were allowed to return to their traditional homes, by President Andrew Johnson, in 1868, some Euro-American traders, especially those of Spanish or Mexican ancestry, were allowed to approach the First Nations people, to establish trading rights.

One of these was a New Mexico native, John Lorenzo Hubble.  He settled with his family in a small Dineh settlement called Pueblo Colorado.  There, Chief Totsohnii established a friendship with “Don” Hubble (Don is a Spanish term of respect for a man of means.) In time, the village of Pueblo Colorado became regularly confused with the large town of Pueblo, Colorado. The people chose to rename their village as Ganado, after Chief Totsohnii’s common title, Ganado Mucho (“many cattle”).  Both names stuck, and today the great leader is remembered as Ganado Mucho.  The village has become a thriving crossroads commercial center.

An essential part of Ganado’s growth has come from the trading post established here, by John Lorenzo Hubble, in 1878.  Hubbell lived here with his family and actively encouraged Dineh artisans to sell their jewelry and wool rugs, two trades they had learned from the Spanish and which they had perfected over nearly a century.  His trading post became a model for others, throughout the Navajo Nation, and nearby First Nations communities.

Today, Hubbell Trading Post remains a working concern, whilst also being preserved in the National Park System, as a National Historical Site.  Here are some scenes of this special establishment.  Below, is the side entrance to the Main Trading Post.

 

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On the ceiling of the “Jewelry Room”, one sees baskets of many First Nations, who traded them with Mr; Hubbell and continue to trade with the present-day proprietors.

 

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The cradle board, examples of which are shown below, was essential for Dineh mothers to carry their infants, both during their work in the fields and along the Long Walk.  It is still used today, by traditional Dineh women.

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In these corrals, the Churro sheep that are so essential to Navajo weaving, as well as for the mutton that is integral to the Dineh diet, are penned.  Churro mutton is one of the Heritage Foods, recognized by Slow Food International, in its work to maintain a diversity of foods for the human race.

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Horses, also beloved of Dineh, as beasts of burden, are also corralled here.

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I got a chance to briefly look inside the home of the Hubbell family, now preserved by the National Park Service.

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The unique tree stump carving below, was commissioned by the  Hubbell family, as proof of  the range of Dineh artistry.

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This hogan-like octagonal cottage housed artists who were commissioned by Mr. Hubbell.

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The Hubbell family members are buried on this hill, which is off-limits to the public.

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The property also shares a Veterans Healing Trail, a serene walk of about 3/4 mile, with the Chapter of Ganado.

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It ends at this Peace Tree, on Ganado Chapter property.

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This first real effort, at bringing heretofore inimical peoples together, has served as an ongoing example of just how our our interests, both common and divergent, can serve as an example of alternatives to conflict.

NEXT:  Canyon de Chelly, As Viewed From the Rims.

The Soaking

4

May 7, 2019-

May is often a dry month, here in the Southwest.

Often, but not always.

Three years ago,

snow greeted us,

on Mother’s Day.

This week,

we are promised

lots of rain.

I look outside,

and see nature’s bounty,

falling quite heavily.

It is likely to continue,

tomorrow, and maybe,

all the way to Sunday.

This bodes well for

a later, and maybe

less intense,

fire season.

It bodes well,

also,

for the insect population.

So, I will keep copious amounts

of natural repellent,

at the ready,

for those busy days

in early June.

Today, though,

I will sit quietly,

and focus on

my books.

Nature is replenishing

Mother Earth,

in time for Mother’s Day.

The Carving of A Confluence

6

April 22, 2019, Cameron, AZ-

I set out from Flagstaff, around 9: 30 this morning, heading to the western edge of this once sleepy sheep-ranching community, which is now tapping into the growing number of people who want to visit the Dineh (Navajo) people, see their starkly beautiful land and learn of their culture.

Here, at the foot of Gray Mountain, on the way to Grand Canyon National Park, lie two overlooks which capture that stark beauty and share an area regarded by the Dineh people as their point of emergence from the underground, following a long ago calamity, and thus a sacred site.

It is the last segment of the Little Colorado River, approaching and reaching its confluence with the Colorado River, after a 338 mile journey, from the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, through the Painted Desert and Coconino Plateau.

A two-hour exploration of the twin overlooks offered these scenes.  Whilst some will say, “Well, what is so special about black and brown stone?” , the geological story told by the three main layers of limestone (top), granite (middle) and shale (bottom) is, like that of the Grand Canyon itself, a classic account of wind and water working together, with a fair amount of help from volcanic and seismic activity.

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In the far background, please note Navajo Mountain (Naatsis’aan), an igneous rock peak, the rises 10,387 feet, towering over Lake Powell, and like the lake, straddling the line between Arizona and Utah.

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The layers of sedimentary deposit are quite visible, as one scans the rock, from top to bottom.

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The water, whilst uniformly scant, looked clearer from the first overlook than from its western counterpart.

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You may not that there is considerably more silt being washed into the river, as it moves closer to the confluence.

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Looking closely, it might seem as if the granite canyon fascia resembles petrified warriors.

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The algae working this limestone bench seems to show everything from a man with outstretched arms (foreground) to pictographs.

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On the right hand side, below, the tall shafts of sandstone appear to be standing guard over the shallows of the Little Colorado.

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In all the bareness, sage, a medicinal staple of the Dineh and Hopi, alike, grows in abundance. Desert bottlebrush is its accompanist.

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The relatively wet winter has produced an effusion of greenery in the Gorge.

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This struggling, but intrepid, river and its gorge, lead to the most spectacular sight on the North American continent.  In the next post, I will focus on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, at its east end, and the Desert Tower that overlooks the beginning of its Inner Gorge.

 

One Good Loop Deserves Another

2

April 7, 2019-

A week or so ago, one of Arizona’s premier hiking columnists, Mare Czinar, wrote of a new trail, branching in elliptical fashion off the Prescott Circle Trail, which I have hiked and chronicled, in the past three years.

A group called “The Over-The-Hill Gang”, loosely named for a Western movie set of characters, has taken it upon themselves to build this, and other new trails, as well as maintain older trails in the area.  I value their efforts.

The West Loop Trail begins at a large, new parking area:  White Rock.  Prior to this, those who wanted to hike in the region west of Thumb Butte had to leave their cars parked just off the road, or into the brush.  White Rock is a decent compromise, between “no footprint” activists and those who object to cars clogging the side of the well-traveled recreational road.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The West Trail’s initial segment is .5 mile in length.  It features several granite and limestone boulder formations, so despite its brevity and flatness, this small sector is worthy of keeping one’s eyes open.  I reassured a tired little guy, doing the home stretch with his parents, that he was almost done.  It was nice to see that kept him going, instead of having Mom or Dad carry him.

The boulder fields are off-trail, thus making for a quick, easy start.

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As with any large number of rocks, the imagination can show a given boulder to have a human or animal likeness.  I see the boulder in the background as George Washington.

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Poking out from between two boulders is a charred tree limb, with the likeness of an angry snake.

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These sandstone boulders are laid out, almost looking like segments of a large worm.  It was about here, that I turned left, onto the Javelina Trail, a part of Prescott Circle.

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I took a brief rest at this spot, writing in my hiking journal, as to the ambiance of the place. I had the trail to myself, much of the time, with the preponderance of other users being bicyclists, whose presence is most always fleeting.  I step to the side for them, as downhill and flatland find cyclists going at a fast clip and uphill involves their huffing and puffing.

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Here, I see another giant watchman, in the center of this scene.

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This clump of boulders is another fine spot for sitting and meditating.

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“Little Italy” is a side trail, which I will investigate on another hike.

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This abandoned corral was part of a small ranch in the area, prior to the National Forest being established.  The rancher moved away, before the Forest took over.

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All that is left of his home is this chimney.  It seems to have been used as an outdoor oven.

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The reason for his choice of home is simple:  Here is the South Fork of Willow Creek.

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From the creek, the path becomes Firewater Trail.  A brief climb takes us past this stern eagle-like formation.

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Back on the flat trail, a dead alligator juniper resembles a welcoming totem pole.

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At the junction of Firewater Trail and the homestretch of West Trail, a clever OTHG member placed this trail marker.

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Surrounding peaks make their presence known, along the West Trail.  To the southeast, is Thumb Butte.

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To the north is majestic Granite Mountain.

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Working around a family who had come to this panoramic viewpoint for photos, I got this shot of the San Francisco Peaks.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After taking a photo of the three family members together, I headed down the last half mile.  Just before the parking lot, I came upon this little “critter”.

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My left knee and cardiopulmonary system thank me for this afternoon- and I extend that thanks to the Over-The-Hill-Gang and the U.S. Forest Service.  It’s good to feel like old times.

The Blessings Outweigh….

2

March 2-5, 2019-

This past weekend brought the beginning of our Nineteen-Day Fast, abstaining from food and beverages between sunrise and sunset, March 2-20 (most years), for those in good health between the ages of 15-70.  This year’s Fast is a bit complex for me, due to travel that will interrupt the practice (Baha’u’llah excuses the traveler; women who are pregnant, nursing, or in their courses;  the seriously ill and those engaged in heavy physical work).

I made good use of the weekend, participating in a seed education program, with one of the community groups in which I’m involved:  Slow Food-Prescott.  I am no expert on seeds, but I can still help with set-up and breakdown of the hall.  I also re-learned a lot about plants- seeds, as opposed to spores, and the various aspects of germination.

Sunday brought me back to Phoenix, for a large music festival:  McDowell Mountain Music Festival, ironically not held in Scottsdale, but in downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park. Two Drum Circles and time with a vibrant and highly artistic friend made the whole event worth the drive.

There was a most diverse group sitting in on the drum circles.20190303_152300

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This English band, Maribou State, was giving the last performance of its current tour.  It was their first visit to Phoenix.

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My friend was very busy with hoop dancing, and had been at it for three days straight.

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I headed back to Prescott in a prudent manner, and have had a good couple of days at work, this week.  Today marked the eighth anniversary of Penny’s passing.  I stopped at the gravesite on Sunday, prior to attending the Music Festival.  I was thus able to properly mark our connection, with a vase of white carnations, which were her favourite flower, and time in quiet reflection.  She loved drumming and had great respect for hoop dancers, so my participation in the former and encouraging Pam and some young women in the latter, was an homage as well.

Most important, though, I have continued with two of our shared passions:  Educating special needs children and advocating wellness.  I have, if all goes well, two years after this, in full time education.  Wellness, though, will be part of my life until it’s time to head beyond.  Essential oils and living a healthy lifestyle are the foundation of my thriving.

In a few short days, I head to South Korea, for the formal wedding of Aram and Yunhee, a return to Jeju and renewing my ties to one of our blessed homes together.  The blessings always outweigh any hardships.

Some Spinach Meal Ideas

13

December 19, 2018, Prescott-

I get tired of the arrogance of the high and mighty.

This makes me look to simple and joyful things,

as a diversion.

Spinach has always been one of my favourite foods.

I will not offer recipes and cooking instructions,

but spinach goes well with:

Feta cheese, especially when baked for 20 minutes,

in a steel or aluminum dish;

Peppers and onions, in a skillet;

Filleted fish, wrapped inside the greenery;

Ground beef, lamb, bison or elk, green onions, sweet peppers,

in a soup, prepared in a crock pot;

As a layer, in a five layer lasagna;

Diced and combined with ricotta,

as a manicotti stuffing.

In summer, spinach is a fine staple,

in any hot weather salad.

Spinach:  Not just for Popeye, anymore!

 

 

Throwback Thursday and Desert Shrimp

16

December 6, 2018, Prescott-

Thirty-eight years ago, today, I met the woman who would change my life, immeasurably, for the better.  Penny and I met in a crowded and very simple house, in Zuni, NM, on the night of a house blessing (known as Shalako). We shared a chair, taking turns sitting down and nodding off, during the all-night ceremony.

We ended up sharing everything else, for close to thirty years, all but one of those years as husband and wife.  As I’ve said before, she’s still looking out for me, in ways large and small, since her passing in March, 2011.

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Above, we are flanked by my parents, on our wedding day, June 6, 1982.

We shared many of the same tastes in food, among other things.  We both appreciated healthy and unadulterated ingredients. So, I think she would have liked Desert Sweet Shrimp. https://arizonashrimp.com/

I purchased a pound of these gems, over a month ago, and made two great meals out of them.  The first order of business, when preparing shrimp for a fine repast, is to shell the Caridea (the correct name of the creatures which are bred in this series of well-derived ponds, in Gila Bend, AZ).  Shelling can be done in a variety of ways- the easiest of which is to soak the shrimp in beer, for 8-10 hours. This leads to the shell falling off, almost automatically. I chose to shell each one individually, sans bier, so as to get a feel for the relationship between the shell and the flesh.  Deveining follows, no matter what method one uses for removing the shell.  Deveining means removing the receptacle holding the shrimp’s fecal matter, so it’s a VERY important step.  The Caridea are then rinsed, at least twice, before being added to a recipe.  It took me an hour to properly prepare the shrimp for cooking. Below is an image (Courtesy of Arizona Shrimp Company-all rights reserved) of the actual shrimp that I purchased.

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I prepared most of the shrimp in sopa de camarones (“shrimp soup”), using green onions, chili powder, turmeric and sea salt.   It’s been a favourite of mine, since I first ate it in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, nearly forty years ago.  I used the rest in a small scampi dish, using a recipe posted on In Diane’s Kitchen, https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/114793426/posts/27651 , on September 13.

Both were exquisite meals, which gave me sustenance for over a week.    I hope to visit the actual facility, during a few days in the West Valley and Gila Bend, right after New Year’s.  I also hope the company will continue a presence at Prescott Farmers’ Market, next spring and summer.

This is the first of a series of posts honouring the festive, and deeper, aspects of the great December holidays.    NEXT:  Prescott’s Acker Night.