Chapter 67

12

November 28, 2017, Prescott-

Two events occupied my time, this evening,

even as a creeping fatigue occupied my body.

The first was a  tableau of non-profit organizations,

one of which I am deeply connected:  Prescott Farmers Market.

The two young ladies who oversee it are like daughters to me,

never mind that their own fathers are fine men.

I made contact with several other NPO’s.

One was represented by a man with a handshake like a vise-grip.

He’s occupied with reaching out to fatherless boys,

so that grip is a good thing.

Another was represented by a man whose mind was elsewhere.

I spent a few minutes with him, anyway.

An hour later and eight miles away,

I joined an interfaith devotional.

The hostess served up a German chocolate cake,

complemented by another friend’s homemade Green Tea ice cream.

The hostess led a singalong,

which, to me, is best spent listening to her megaton voice.

“Happy Birthday”, though, was a genuine group effort.

I was starting to fade,

when it came my duty to cut the cake,

and was gently reminded of this.

Fade-out didn’t hit, full force,

until my head hit the pillow,

forty minutes after I bid my friends

thank you and good night.

Chapter 67 began

with a reminder of how much

I’m loved here,

and how fallible we each remain.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXVI: Days of Earnestness

13

November 22-26, 2017, across Arizona-

I cannot not serve others, even on holiday.  I am hard-wired to look for how best to relieve another’s pain and ennui, while finally having learned, thanks to my blessed departed wife, how to involve the other person in the solution to that suffering and ennui.

It comes to me, as to where I should go, on a given day, and who I should visit.  On Wednesday, with no prior schedule, I went out to Superior, to see my friends at Sun Flour Market.  I learned that my friend, whom I felt as if I’ve known forever, had left, to pursue other ventures.  I learned that my friend, who owns the enterprise, is facing a great personal challenge and that my unexpected visit, along with those of a few other friends, was most comforting.  No journey is ever wasted.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was spent with my best friend and several of her family members.  It’s always a blessing to be with this woman, and my favourite holiday was no exception.  One of the other men carved the turkey, but I got the best job- trimming all the meat off the carcass, after dinner.  That, to me, has always been the most satisfying task- guaranteeing that there is plenty of meat for many a meal to come.

Friday morning, I went down to Phoenix, and visited a long-time friend who is entering the vacation rental business.  Here is a photo of the house in question.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

If interested in a Phoenix getaway, check this one out: https://evolvevacationrental.com/387677.

After looking over the house and yard, I headed up to Cave Creek, lunch at Local Jonny’s and a couple of hours of hiking at Spur Cross Ranch Preserve.  I will have more to say, and show, about this lovely expanse, in a few posts from now, but here are a couple of scenes of Spur Cross Trail and its offshoots.

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Above is an oasis, built along Cottonwood Wash.

This is A’s stone ruin, which he built with his mom and grandma.

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Here is a Huhugam mano and metate, from the 11th Century.

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Spur Cross will see me again, soon.

Saturday morning found me up early and headed out the door by 6:30. A stop fro breakfast at Verde Cafe, Camp Verde, got me well-set for the rest of the drive to Native American Baha’i Institute, at Burntwater, on the Navajo Nation.  The occasion was the Light of Unity Art and Music Festival.  I bought a few things, and took several photos, mostly in low light.  The power was in the music and in the accompanying dance.  Here are a few scenes of the power that radiated outward.  Diversio,  The Treasure Crew and the venerable Benally family laid down that power.

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There is unstoppable power in unity.  I haven’t been up to visit the Dineh as often as I might.  My role is increasingly cast in Prescott and vicinity, but as another friend remarked, this afternoon, distance to a friend’s house is ever small.  I will support these great efforts as best I can.

Sunday, I happened over to my best friend’s sister’s house, and ordered a Christmas gift, as she is a rep for a nationally-known cosmetics firm.  This took a couple of hours, well-spent, discussing a variety of subjects, around the display table.

Now, it’s back to work and a satisfying routine.  When I wake up, I will be 67, and a whole new set of expectations come with that seemingly artificial renewal.

 

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.

 

Yes and No

18

November 15, 2017, Prescott-

A fellow blogger posted, this afternoon, that no one is entitled to rights, by decree.  Yes, and no:  Yes, a child has the right to a healthy diet, a safe and warm place to live, a solid, fundamental education and above all, loving adults by whom to be raised.  No, one does not have the automatic right to a mate, a good paying job, a full refrigerator and pantry or a large contingent of friends.  Those are things one earns by dint of character and hard work.

I was raised to know that my parents were  there for me, that I had responsibilities that went with being part of a family, that boys and girls were equal in the sight of God, and that didn’t go away when we reached adulthood.  As much as my immature, flawed self disliked it, I had to wait, a long time, to meet the love of my life.  My mature, flawed self does not regret the wait.

Sometimes, the price of the good in our lives is paid up front- through suffering and seemingly innumerable setbacks  Other times, the good comes first, and, as with the Biblical Job, torments and sorrows follow.  I have learned, especially from my Native American ancestors, that hard times make one stronger and good times make one secure enough to withstand the next set of hard times.  After 600-800 years of collective difficulty, Native Americans are still here.  After 500 years of oppression and distrust, African-Americans are still here.  Woman, collectively, has endured millennia of being regarded as a subordinate being.  She is more present than ever.

Those who say each individual must earn certain rights and prerogatives are correct, to a point.  Let them also, however, consider what rights each man, woman and child has already earned, by dint of character, suffering and, yes, hard work.  To dismiss this, is to affirm the claim of the tyrant, the supremacist.

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.

Day of the Dead

4

November 2, 2017, Prescott-

Hispanic families, in Mexico and elsewhere, observe this day as a way to honour their departed ancestors and strengthen the ties between this world and the hereafter.

As I looked out the window, this morning, I swear I could see Penny’s image, and that of her father, looking back at me, in a tree across the way.

Some have gone on, this past year, who had roles, large and small, in my life.

Uncle George Boivin, one of my last surviving father figures, gave me a paving stone from Boston’s old Scollay Square, which was transformed into Government Center, when I was about 12.  He was ever available, when I was in Colorado, to set me straight, in the difficult  2 1/2 years, immediately following Penny’s passing.  His mind was sharp, until the end, and those doll houses live on.

Al Tercero served our American Legion, at the post and district level, for over 30 years.  Now he is in what we call Post Everlasting.  The Honour Guard he helped establish is still the finest in Arizona.

George Marchessault, also a Past Commander and Honour Guard stalwart, stayed true to the Legion code and was ever present at our gatherings, on almost a weekly basis, until his last illness confined him to rest.

Bea Cronin, a grand-aunt’s sister-in-law, was always outside watching the Saugus High football team, from her back yard. There was an open door and welcome to the kids who knew her sons, and to us, her far extended family, when we were in the neighbourhood.

Ivaloo Mac Vicar was always in the hall, when I was passing to classes in seventh grade, admonishing us boys to WALK down the stairs, ONE step at a time.  She made it to the Century Mark, and a bit beyond, as did-

Evelyn Porter Anderson, who gave my mother a shot at success as a hairdresser and cosmetologist, in the uncertain days after World War II.  She never stopped doting on the five of us, until blindness and infirmity kept her confined to her last home.

Bernis Hanlon taught me, in fifth grade, to rely on my own wits and to start building  layers on my thin skin.  It took twenty more years for that lesson to really stick, yet less time for her next life lesson, appreciation of fine drama, to be absorbed, six years later, when she was the  High School Theater Advisor, who didn’t mind my being on the periphery of that club’s efforts.

Firuz Kazemzadeh was a high-level scholar of the Baha’i Faith, and one of our most accomplished mentors, serving in so many capacities, legal and educational.  His was always a bright and friendly face, at national and international gatherings, as well as at “our own” Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, held annually in Phoenix.

So many others have come and gone- and some day a person or two will write of my time on this Earth.  There is much to do, as yet, so let it not be too soon.

 

Sixty Six for Sixty-Six, Part LXV: It Doesn’t Matter

0

October 31, 2017, Prescott-

Happy All-Hallows, to those who celebrate it as an evening of festive family and community enjoyment.

It doesn’t matter to me,

if you are Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, or some sort of hybrid.

It is superfluous,

if you are conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive.

It is inconsequential, in my view,

if you claim adherence to the oldest of Faiths, to the Faith founded

two-thousand years ago, to the newest Faith or to no Faith at all.

It is of passing concern,

if you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual or just plain fed up with it all.

Male, female, “hybrid”;

child, adolescent, young adult, midlife, early senior, advanced senior, centenarian-

I have much to learn from you,

and much to offer, in return.

What matters is your spirit.

Who I am,

in this final month

of being sixty-six,

is largely who I have

ever been.

My labels do not define me.

God sees beyond the superficial,

the fleeting,,

the limited.

 

Forgiveness

16

October 29, 2017, Prescott-

A couple of years ago, one who is closest to me

said “I forgive you”,

in the context of reassuring me

of his filial devotion.

It was not specific to anything,

leaving me to guess,

as to which of several possible

lapses in parental judgment,

to which he might have been referring.

Others, over the years,

have accepted apologies

and held me to my word.

Still others, have simply

dropped out of sight,

though no one ever

drops out of my mind

or heart.

Conversely,

I have forgiven

all but one or two,

of those who caused

my late wife so much

unnecessary pain.

All she wanted was to die in peace.

That was too much for that one,

those two,

whose concern was more about

money,

about rules and regulations,

than human decency.

If I want to be forgiven,

by those whom I have wronged,

then I have to forgive

the worst of the bad,

as well.

Christ said it,

so did Baha’u’llah.

So be it.

 

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.

Bacchanal

10

September 29, 2017, Prescott-

There was a man who said he loved women.

His idea of love was tied, tightly, with sexuality.

Sexuality was tied, tightly, with freedom of choice.

Freedom of choice was underpinned by epicureanism,

hedonism, the idea that life is for the living.

His idea became a machine that went of itself,

and would not stop,

even when he was getting tired,

on many levels.

He became a caricature of his younger self.

Young women thought of him,

and were sickened.

Older women looked back on the Bacchanal,

and wished they had been part of it.

He showed me, and many men my age,

what a woman with perfect features

would look like, in an airbrushed photograph.

Many of us bought into it, month by month.

Then, little by little, we met real beautiful women.

My love was never airbrushed;

her perfection was never unnatural.

She was as bright a sunrise,

as any the Fife of Finery could have conjured.

She was my sunrise, alone,

and I hers.

Our merriment was measured.

Our love was underpinned,

by a God who knew no Bacchanal.

There was a man who said he loved women.