Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

Status

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January 16, 2019-

I am looking at a photo of a well-known person, who is pregnant for the third time.  It’s said that there are many who are “urgently concerned” about her health, given ” a state of morbid obesity”.  That is good of these people, as it could very well be a health risk-for mother and child.   I regard her very dearly, and pray for the successful births of her child and for those of two other women I know.

A skilled and intelligent woman, of whom I have long had a high opinion, is running for President, in next year’s election.  At this stage of the game, it is hard to see how things will turn out.  Yet, already, those who are fearful that she might meet with success are questioning her intelligence, because “no one that pretty could possibly be smart enough to be leader of the Free World.”  Of course!  Such individuals give away their game, without so much as a shred of evidence in their favour.  Suffice it say, this woman has more leadership ability in her right thumb than a dozen pundits have, in their twelve collective bodies.

Status changes, often on a daily basis, in both real time and on social media.  The key to making that change go in a positive direction is consistency, in both fairness of judgment and steadiness in values. Open-mindedness gets in there, somewhere.  Being wishy-washy, does not.

Thus, the two women mentioned above could easily return to society’s good graces, and leave pariah status in the dust, just by remaining who they are, in their innermost hearts.  I find it sad that, in this day and age, social fickleness still seems to reign, if not supreme, then at a rather meagerly-challenged level.

Surprises, Challenging and Delightful

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January 13, 2019, Happy Jack, AZ-

I woke this morning, to find six inches of freshly-fallen snow covering the area outside my room at Delta Motel, Winslow.  It is a high desert community, and the residents were as surprised as I was, that the serenity brought by snow had descended upon their environs.  I’ve liked the Delta, for several years, because of its unpretentious yet immaculate rooms, a few of which had rockabilly themes, under a former owner.   The rooms now have a distinctly Southwestern flavour to them.

The snow did leave me to ponder the rest of my day.  Having said that I wanted to visit friends on the Hopi Nation, ninety minutes northeast of Winslow, I had to consider the weather and road conditions, plus the fact that I have to be in Phoenix, for an appointment, tomorrow morning.

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I opted to head for home, primarily because between Winslow and Prescott there lies high country, regardless of route.  There was poor reception for both phone and wifi, so discerning road conditions, later in the day, was problematic.   After breakfast, and wishing the caring and efficient motel staff a fine day, I filled my car’s tank at a station across the street.  Winslow is famous for  the late Glenn Frey’s reminiscence of a girl “slowing down to take a look” at him, whilst he was standing on a corner there.  It was rather ironic, that a sweet-faced young lady sat in her car and smilingly watched as I filled up the tank.  We never spoke, but her smile was a comfort.

I headed south, as she headed north, and found the road, to this little village on AZ Route 87, very well-plowed and free of ice.  This high country town has a small cafe- Tall Pines Cafe, named for the largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest in North America.  Fresh chicken noodle soup and delectable quesadillas were my filling lunch.  The snow was as fresh here as it was in Winslow, and would cover the ground as far as 2/3 of the way down the rim to Camp Verde.

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P.S.-The rest of the drive was uneventful, with bare ground from Camp Verde until I was just about back in Prescott.  I take comfort in that farmers will have a leg up, come spring, if the precipitation continues at the level it has fallen, thus far this winter.  I will make time to go up to Hopi, later in the Spring, and certainly at some points during Summer.

Nonetheless, surprises from the Universe are part of what keeps me going strong.

 

Lightness Is

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January 12, 2019, Flagstaff-

I set out for this mountain community, which was my home in 1980-81, with a view towards determining the level of untended littering in one National Monument:  Sunset Crater, during the ever-longer government shutdown. As we’ll see, the amount was rather light.

The day started with my feeling weighted down, by what, I still have no idea.  My mood was lifted, though, by meeting a delightful little family from Dharma Farm, a place of which I’ve written in the past, whilst making my usual rounds  at Prescott Farmers Market.  I will re-visit Dharma more often, during the remainder of winter and into spring.  Their commitment to permaculture is something of which I want to learn more, prior to any post-retirement move I might make.  Permaculture will be described further, in subsequent posts, as well.

Back to Flagstaff, and Sunset Crater.  I found few other people visiting the park.  Three tourists did drive past the semi-porous barricades and further into the park.  As it happens, a Federal park ranger is on site and drove into the area, quickly sending the visitors back the way they came.  Only a Dineh man, with grandfathered visiting rights to any area of Sunset Crater and nearby Wupatki (some park lands were purchased, by eminent domain, from a handful of Dineh (Navajo) families), in the 1930’s), was allowed to drive his truck behind the barricades.

I  went on foot, for about a mile, into the park and found little trash along the road-and none on the trail I took.  There were some lovely views, though.

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After it was apparent that my mission did not warrant further exploration of the park, especially with the ranger working without pay, I headed back into town, and parked in a formerly free lot.  Flagstaff has taken a page from other tourist-dependent communities, and charges $1 per hour to park along downtown streets or in its off-street lots.  I find this reasonable, though some visitors grumbled that there are not “freshly-paved” streets that would “warrant” such a charge.  Go figure.

I found the usually congenial folks at Pizzicleta, an artisan thin-crust eatery, to be a bit grumpy and unusually reserved.  One of the servers mentioned how tired they were, though the place had barely been open for twenty minutes.  Maybe it is the preparation that is enervating.  The food was still great, though, which is what matters most.

Now, it’s time to head to Winslow, an hour to the east, and find a spot at my favourite motel there.  Tomorrow, I hope to head up to the Hopi Nation, to visit long-time friends.  The Bean Dance is coming.

 

Facing Negative Energy

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January 9, 2019-

The young boy reacted to a task that was beyond his scope of understanding,  in the only way he knew:  He threw a fit of self-harm and flailing rage.  Two women were able to guide him through the anger and calm him down, without any appreciable damage to himself or anyone else.  He spent the rest of the day in peace, and participated in afternoon activities.

The past forty-eight hours have seen a fair amount of negativity, in situations far and near:

A dear friend has seen the person closest to her have to be brought to hospital, in a life-threatening emergency.  My prayers, and those of dozens of others, have gone up, that he may survive the night and recover.  The spouse, or significant other, of a friend is as dear to my heart as the friend.

There was, yesterday, what turned out to be a minor hiccup, in my son’s and daughter-in-law’s planned ceremony to sanctify their civil wedding vows. We maintained patience and the right thing happened-hiccup cured.  Ceremony will proceed as planned, in two months’ time.

I had planned, with a group of co-workers and their friends/family, to conduct a clean-up of one of the National Park properties that is not far from here.  This morning, an alert, banning the public from said property during the current shutdown, was hastily posted on the park’s website.  While  I can see any number of concerns that would bring such a response to the offers of a clean-up, (Ours was not the only such offer.), the shutdown as a whole is extremely negative and counterproductive.  Our group could clean up any of the National Forest sites in this area, though the U.S. Forest Service is fully operational.  We could, as one person elsewhere told me, focus on local neighbourhoods and not worry about Federal land.   These two scenarios can, and should, be a regular part of civic life-above and beyond the present impasse. (More on “local vs. global”, in another post.)  Our point, though, in THIS situation, is that the National Park System is suffering, mightily, from  ongoing neglect during the present shutdown.  It needs its citizens to step up, more than ever.

Negative energy is always around, and as darkness is dispelled by light, it can be countered and neutralized by a stronger positive energy.  Fighting fire with fire, or mud with more mud, is a short-term strategy, which usually results in the perpetuation of the very iniquity that one seeks to remove.  I have found that either maintaining a stronger stance of love, in the face of hate, or cutting off the flow of negativity altogether, has brought the darkness to naught.

 

 

Seared into Community

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January 8, 2019-

The local Sears may well be closing soon, along with most others of that company’s sites.  That fact has nothing to do with the title of this post, though.

Prescott has taught me how to be fully part of a community-actually a lesson that Saugus, and later, the Hopi Nation, tried to teach me, years ago, with varying degrees of success.  I guess that now, in my advanced middle age, and with a few knockabouts under my belt, people are more easily understood by me, and vice versa.

There is a move afoot for several of us to go to a National Park Service property (to be determined), and engage in a clean-up, this weekend.  This is just the latest of examples of why this community has a commitment from my heart to stay and work for the next 2-2.5 years, before family, and the curiosity about the wider world, take primacy in my life, once again.  My Faith community, the Red Cross, a local school gardens group, various individual friends-and my co-workers at Prescott High School have kept me well-occupied and quite happily so, especially these past two academic years.

This evening, I went to a fundraiser for our school’s Future Business Leaders of America.  Wildflower Bakery, a regional chain, has a new restaurant, within the shopping mall where it has been a fixture for several years.  It is visible from the road, and draws a fair crowd.  FBLA thus decided to hold its event here.  I support as many of these “club dinners” as I can, just out of love. Teens, in my view, deserve all the support they can get, in finding their way to a solid and sustainable future.
I guess this is the impetus to having all these other elements of community take root in my heart.

Trolling, or Triage?

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January 7, 2019-

Last night, just before I signed off for the evening, I got a caustic response to a few suggestions I had made, to another blogger’s post.  This sort of thing is a risk that comes with being part of a public network.

While I took the liberty of “unfollowing” that person’s blog, as one should not intrude on another’s space without that person’s consent, I had to ponder her motivation for such an outburst.  She did, after all, ask for “ideas” about her particular dilemma.

There are a couple of possibilities-She may have been in the mood for a “game of gotcha”, though trolling, under the circumstances she described in the post to which I responded, seems rather far-fetched.  More likely, she is looking at the various suggestions made, and winnowing  them out, favouring those that are as close to her comfort zone as possible, while still entailing some effort on her part to solve the problem described therein.

That’s an understandable, human practice, and I daresay we all do that, with regard to some, if not most, issues in our lives.  She pointed out that I didn’t know her schedule, so how could my suggestions fit?  None of us can be inside another’s brain, or heart.  So, we do the best we can, when asked. If our ideas are wide of the mark, well, at least we made an effort.  I will continue to offer ideas to to others, when asked, and can only guarantee that I will be putting some thought and feeling into the process.

No pain, no gain.

Alpha and Omega

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January 1, 2019, Prescott-

It is bright, beautiful and 18 degrees outside, on this first morning, of the last year, of the second decade, of the Twenty-first Century since the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Life has not changed much, outwardly, from yesterday-other than that the storm has moved eastward.

Thus far, this decade has brought both great joy and intense pain.  The pain came first, and Penny spent 2010 in agony and decline, before being delivered from all suffering, in the early part of the following year.

I have since left my Phoenix home, gone through the recovery phase of Chapter 7, lived in, and sold, my in-laws’ Prescott home-at their behest and settled in this comfortable, one bedroom apartment, which will remain my residence until it is time to move on, at the point of my retirement from education, likely in December, 2020.

I have seen our son, Aram, blossom into full manhood, going full force up the enlisted ranks in the United States Navy, though he currently plans to return to civilian life at the end of this enlistment.  He’s a husband now, with he and his wife, Yoonhee, affirming their marital vows in a sacred setting, this coming March.  They have fine examples, of dedicated marriage, on both sides of the family.

I have said farewell to my parents-in-law, in 2014 and in 2018.  Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have gone on, also, though many remain.  I am also blessed that my mother is still keen of wit and able to live on her own, in the very home in which my siblings and I were raised.

I have always been a wanderer.  The first time I can remember going off on my own involved crossing a street unaided, which earned me a few strokes of a hairbrush, on the backside.  My subsequent sojourns have not been quite so problematic.  While some of my travels have left family members, and others, shaking their heads, nothing has befallen me that was not able to be rectified in fairly short order.  To be sure, even greater adventures are, God willing, in store.

The same is true of my friendships.  Since being on my own, I have found just what a fallacy “on one’s own” is.  Hundreds of people have come into my life.  The best of them have remained, even if some of them are only present electronically.  The worst have, thankfully, moved on.  All have taught me valuable lessons.  There are good friends across the North American continent, in Europe, India and Africa- and I would be overjoyed to visit with them, at least once.  For now, we can see one another here.

Finally, there is the question, “Where is home?”  I could choose the grandiose answer:  “Why, all the Earth is my home!”, and I would be telling the truth-as I feel relaxed, anywhere.  Practically speaking, Prescott is home, for now.  After this phase of my life comes to an end, “home” could be in the Pacific Northwest, in the Heartland, in southeast Alaska, on the East Coast or, for a time, on the road-with my permanent possessions largely in storage.  My little family, good friends and the needs of the wider community will all play a part in where I find myself.

For now, let’s enjoy the sunlight.

Hails and Farewells

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December 31, 2018, Prescott-

Many are itching to put this year to bed.  We even had a fireworks display in the downtown area, at 9 p.m., three hours ahead of schedule.  Me?  I am tying up loose ends, with regard to the year being shown the door.  Earlier this evening, I went down to the Salvation Army dining room and helped serve dinner.  17 hardy souls are taking shelter there tonight and gratefully took a meal of hot chicken noodle soup, Subway sandwich, Asian salad, chips, carbonated fruit water and chocolate cake.  My job was to dish out the cake, and I managed a slice for each shelteree who wanted one-not easy, with salivating staff members wanting a slice, as well. There was plenty for all, though.

The year brought several people into my life.  Some, like my daughter-in-law and infant grand-niece, will be here forever.  Others, like a good friend in Missouri and several people I met this summer, whilst crossing the continent, will be around for a good long time.  Another came into my life, found it not to their liking, and left swiftly.

I said farewell to several- a childhood neighbour, Ed Wolfe; boyhood friends, Stan Norkum and Alan Belyea; the sister of a friend, Claire Lindquist; Penny’s cousin, Jean Haithcock; her maternal aunt, Averala Boyd and, closest of all, her mother and my mother-in-law, Ruth Fellman.

Now, 2019 is little more than an hour away from our part of the continent.  I know the souls who have departed are looking out for those they love.  I feel my share of that love and it has helped refine my character, still further.

I look forward to ongoing friendships, some of which were clarified, refined and strengthened this year. I look forward to those new friendships that are sure to come in the year ahead, as well.  I know I will have to say goodbye to some souls in 2019; that’s the way of it.  They will be there, in the In-Gathering, when my own time comes.

Happy 2019, everyone!

Cleaning Up Ashes

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December 26, 2018, Prescott-

There is always a reckoning,

when one fails to heed the inner voice.

Christmas, 2018 will be remembered

as much for what I lost,

as for what I received.

There will be a reckoning,

sometime this week,

in one part of my life.

Then, I will go on,

though thankfully,

not without a job.

I may have one less friend,

and one less close relative,

in my life.

I will go on, though,

because there is no other way.

On the other hand,

I have a little family,

who  bring me joy,

and will continue,

for a good many years to come.

Prescott may not be the same.

after this week,

but I have my work,

my team,

and my students.

Family may not be the same,

in terms of its extension,

but I have my son,

my daughter-in-law,

and my siblings.

I have my Faith,

my co-worshipers

and my own determination,

to just be a better soul.