Markers

6

January 1, 2018, Birmingham, AL-

On this day that symbolizes new beginnings

in the Western world,

I recall these.about the year just past:

A little girl and her family,

guided me to funnel cake

and fireworks,

interrupted, only mildly,

by a man-child and his drone.

As an uncle of mine,

winged his flight

to heaven,

his only granddaughter

redoubled her efforts,

and earned a college degree.

I made a friend,

three years ago,

whilst moving on,

from a ridiculous series

of actions on my part.

That friend is still very much,

in my life, in my heart,

and one of the strongest

young ladies,

I have ever met,

has done us all proud.

My friend, her mother,

is the impetus,

and the guarantor,

of that amazing trajectory,

which will not come crashing down.

Happy 18th, to one of the first children,

of the Third Millennium, of Anno Domini.

I left Spring Hill, earlier today,

having made an older lady feel valued,

a tortured dog feel safe in my presence,

a loyal relative feel honoured.

Two more days remain,

of my journey back to Home Base.

 

 

 

Blessed Intentions

8

November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-

I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County.  Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes.  These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.

Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.

I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday.  This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table.  So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.

Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities.  The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.

It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world.  The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities.  At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing.  Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children.  There is a group meeting,  in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.

If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age.  Hygiene is excellent.

Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.

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This is a bottle wall.  Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.20171119_154703[1]

Artwork is random and eclectic.  I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.

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Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.

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This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs.  Holly  and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.

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I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities.  Their work ethic is as good  as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world.  Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle.   There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype.   Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education.  This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.

I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least.  Life is good, where there is love and devotion.

 

Convergence, Night 2 and Day 3

7

November 12, 2017, Arcosanti-

Conflict, like anything that exists, can only do so, when fed.  Among the foods of conflict are ego, emotional imbalance and inattention to one’s surroundings. There were several opportunities for conflict to be nourished, over the past fifteen hours.  No one chose to do so, and the most irritating behaviours of some among us, merely passed to review, for consideration in planning the next Convergence.

The Dreaming session did not proceed as planned. Suffice it to say that an activity antithetical to meditation and focus was placed immediately next to us.  The Dreaming session’s organizers chose to carry on, in spite of the noise next door.  I moved to a quieter area and spent the night in blanketed comfort and in intense dreaming, if alone.  Arcosanti is vortical, in that respect. Those who stayed in the original site reported that the noisy group stopped their interference, right at midnight.  They did not, however, dream as deeply as they might have.  It is interesting, though, that no one persisted, beyond an initial protest, with regard to the noisy neighbours.  Such conflict would have been the undoing of Convergence, which was hardly anyone’s wish.

This morning, breakfast took longer to prepare, than expected.  No one raised an unnecessary ruckus, despite the lateness of the morning.  This was even true when the mesquite flour pancakes proved a particular headache for the cooks.  Those of us who really WANTED the pancakes accepted a batch that were a bit mushy in the middle.  Elevation has its culinary drawbacks, extended time for baking being among them.  Again, conflict didn’t happen.

I made several new friends, these past few days.  Standing out among them are this morning’s breakfast companions:  The men, women and children of Dharma Family Farm, who were visiting from their abode in Paulden, about an hour north of Prescott.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had the joy of observing babies and toddlers, in serene parental hands, experiencing several aspects of their world. There are some very bright and caring folks coming up the ladder of life, in this generation named, by the Media, i-Gen.  I will surely take the families up on their invitation to visit the farm, in the next few weeks.

This brings up one last point.  At least three mothers openly nursed their babies. Not one of  the five of us men, who were at the  two tables, gave so much as sidelong glance.  Our conversations involved the women, with eye contact-period.  (For the record, I believe nursing is the most natural thing in the world, and one of the best health practices.)

Yes, conflict requires feeding, in order to exist.  It’s time for a starvation diet.

Loves of a Life

8

September 30, 2017, Flagstaff-

I told an old friend that Penny has been gone,

for six years.

He spends lots of time,

off the grid.

So, he missed all that’s happened to us,

since 1997.

Twenty years have come and gone,

and he is a loving husband and father.

I was the former, and am still the latter.

After leaving this generous man,

and his fine facility,

lent us for our Baha’i gathering,

I turned on my laptop.

I went to cbs.com,

and selected

the most recent episode

of “Blue Bloods”.

In this one, it’s revealed

that a man has lost

his wife,

in a helicopter crash.

He wants to turn inward,

shut the world out.

He has two teenage sons,

to finish raising.

His family,

and the Universe,

conspire to keep him

afloat.

Today would have been

her 63rd birthday.

I told an old friend.

Interlude

0

August 6, 2017, Prescott-

NOTE:  Those following my journey of last month need not worry- there is much more to come, from those Road Days:  Philadelphia; Hagerstown; Antietam; Harpers Ferry; Falls of the Ohio; Paducah;  Sarcoxie; Baxter Springs & Sedan, Kansas; Folsom, Cimarron & Taos, NM, and all points in between.

Today, however, is an intermezzo. I want to pause, and connect with where my heart and spirit are NOW.

You, each and all, matter greatly, dearly.

Whoever told you, dying of ovarian cancer, and sitting on a downtown curb,

asking for whatever help people can bring,

that you are beyond hope- has lied to you.

I gave you my last dollar, and have to be prudent, for a week or so, as I am running low, myself.

Yet, you matter.

Whoever told you, beautiful young woman, just trying to get a meal and catch a break,

that you are good for only one thing- has shut his eyes to everything that you are.

I’d be proud as punch, to claim you as my daughter.

You matter.

Whoever told you, strong, vital husband of an engaging, innovative woman,

that you ought to stay in the background, and let her be in the spotlight-

is cheating both of you.

She wants you at her side,

and you matter.

Whoever told you, my dearest friend and soul sister,

that no man would ever want you to be anything,

other than a source of pleasure, and his servant-

is living in a fool’s paradise.

You have taught me more, in a month’s time,

than I learned in six decades,

and I look forward to all that you have left to impart,

because you matter.

To all who may have told anyone in your life,

that he or she is worthless, a waste of DNA,

fodder for a compost pile-

think again, and hard.

You matter, in spite of your scathing remarks

and constant oneupmanship,

but so do those whom you disparage.

The black person matters,

as does the white,

the  East Asian,

the Latino,

the Native American,

the Pacific Islander,

the West Asian,

the South Asian.

Men matter,

and so do women.

Seniors matter,

as do children,

teens,

young adults,

those in “middle age”.

Homeless people matter,

and homeowners,

renters,

couch surfers.

There is no “Keep Out” sign,

at the universal level,

for anyone in the LGBTQ umbrella group,

for anyone with weight issues,

for anyone who struggles with mental health problems,

for anyone who can’t walk,

can’t speak, hear or see,

or can’t think.

This is where I am, now.

You, my female and male friends,

whose company I enjoy,

and who enjoy mine;

my neighbour children,

who love playing in my yard,

because it’s a safe place;

my students and co-workers,

who actually look forward

to being at school,

because we support one another,

I am blessed to be here,

because of you.

 

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LVIX: Return to Down East, Part 4: Rough Crags, Sweet Flowers

6

July 16, 2017, York, ME- 

To so many, Maine means rocky shorelines, fronted by accessible beaches.  York County, the southernmost part of the state, has ample amounts of both, and is-along with Boothbay Harbor and Mount Desert Island, the most familiar area of Maine, when it comes to beach vacations.

York Harbor is upscale, in terms of accommodations, yet on this Sunday afternoon, plenty of people who one would not readily recognize as well-to-do were enjoying the nooks and crannies, between the  Agamenticus Yacht Club and York Harbor Inn. One of them was yours truly.

I was very much enchanted with Hartley Mason Reserve, and so present you with scenes from the north side of York’s stunning harbour.

First, here is a view from York Harbor Inn, looking towards Cape Neddick.

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Thanks to zoom technology, here is a close-up of the promontory which hosts Cape Neddick Inn. One upscale resort can keep a clear eye on another!

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Both York Harbor Inn and Hartley Mason Reserve have done a fine job of keeping the area rich in colour and in fragrance.

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As the gardens at York harbor Inn are intended for that facility’s guests, I devoted the rest of my harbour time to the Reserve.  There was little information about Hartley W. Mason, other than that he was a wealthy York landowner, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  When he died, in 1925, he left this land, south of York Harbor Inn, to the Town of York.  It became a public park, in 1993.

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Many weddings take place here.  That comes as no surprise.

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As I was enjoying these tickseed sunflowers, and preparing to take their photo, a little girl wandered into view.  She asked to not be kept in the shot, and I cropped this photo, accordingly.

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Here is the York Fishermen’s Memorial, dedicated to the memory of Captain Daniel Donnell, who perished while on the job at sea, at the age of 78.  That’s how Mainers are.

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I walked down the well-trod York Cliffs Path, to enjoy the salt air and navigate the slippery rocks.

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In contrast to my visit to Lynn Beach, yesterday, the tide here at York was coming in, albeit in a rather mild-mannered fashion.

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Returning to the top of the trail, I noted the limestone benches that are interspersed with the dense flora.  This is part of what makes the Maine Coast so magical.

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There is so much more to York, and to its namesake county, to say nothing of the Pine Tree State.  In the coming years, I will no doubt be making more forays Down East, among other places.

I will close this part of  the Bruin Adventure, by thanking my York family.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LI: Twisters and Turns

7

July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH-   My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line.  I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.)  That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area.  Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least.  Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.

I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert.  It was the right move.  No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.

We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded.  The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone.  The night, after that, was peaceful.

Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.

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By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order.  There are two fine breakfast places in town.  I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes.  The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost.  The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice.  A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.

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Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard.  There are often one or two surprises, though.  Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.

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It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.

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Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio.  The spacious campus  now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.

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So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken.  I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself.  The highway did take me to two other appealing cities:  Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part L: A Hoosier Menagerie

6

July 10, 2017, Goshen, IN-

After leaving, Notre Dame, I realized I needed some sustenance.  Finding a pizzeria, in Elkhart , closed on Monday, I went into Martin’s Supermarket, on the east end of town, and had a small snack.  Good thing, it wasn’t linner, as I was able to contact another friend, Mcbery, and arrange to meet her, hubby and grandchildren, for a tour of their substantial farm, in nearby Goshen. While en route to our meeting point, I met a harbinger of the visit to come:  A Canadian goose crossing zone!

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I went into Elkhart’s public library, and no sooner had I sat down at a computer desk, than Miriam and Lee showed up. Off we went, me trailing carefully behind, through Goshen’s narrow lanes.  The menagerie was not long in greeting us, at this estimable farm.  There are the usual animals resident on farms:  Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Then, there are chickens and Guinea pigs, enjoying one another’s company.

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The fauna now took a decidedly more exotic turn, with two types of flightless birds greeting us, with squawks.  The emus, and at least one rhea, manage also to share a large pen.  I was glad to see no cassowary in the mix- those birds are especially vicious.

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The most challenging resident, for now, is a three-month-old camel.  Lee seems to be the only person who can keep a lid on her behaviour.  She came up to me, regarded me with interest, then quickly jumped away, on her little excursion of mischief.

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Further down the path, a full-grown camel led a parade of animals towards their evening feeding.  I was glad to take part in this, and the camel seen here accepted a fistful, or two, of clover and grass, from me.

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After meeting all the animals, it was time for the grandkids to go to their home, down the path, and for the three of us to go for our dinner.  So I close, with a photo of this wonderful farm family.SAM_8505.JPG

 

Indiana has been, once again, a delight, and in three diverse ways, last night and today.

NEXT UP:  Three posts about Ohio, starting with Van Wert, and the most interesting things that happened there.

 

 

 

 

Interdependence Day

12

July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

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P.C.

6

June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.