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.

 

 

 

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.

 

This Week’s Learnings

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January 11, 2019-

With one day left to go, in the second week of 2019, I have learned (or re-learned):

  1. Youth of capacity are not impressed by kind behaviour or statements of support.  They need to see close attention to detail and consistent efforts at empowerment.
  2. A tight-knit group rises and fall together.  I knew this, whilst living in the Boston area, but there has been a lot of fragmentation in my life, since 1976, notwithstanding the tightness of my marriage.  Now, we on a professional team will stand as one-which is refreshing.
  3. Politics clouds good judgement, whilst demanding QUICK judgement, on the part of perceived adversaries.
  4. I made a commitment to helping clean up National Park properties, this weekend. Some of the parks closest to us are shut tight. Nonetheless, I am being watched, to see whether I keep my word.  So, tomorrow afternoon, I will be at Sunset Crater.

 

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.

Reaching Towards Cave Creek

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January 4, 2019, Cave Creek-

I decided that my long exercise of my still-recovering left knee would best be achieved on the Maricopa Trail.  Thus came today’s 5.8 mile round trip from Andy Kunasek Trailhead, on the east side of New River to the edge of the Overton-Go John Loop, itself at the western end of Cave Creek.

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My walkabout took me through the above square, and over a few of the mountains in the background.  It was a moderate hike, through saguaro forests and past a few outlying housing units, as a Sonoran Desert jaunt always does.

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It’s said that saguaros will be endangered, should the current level of planet -wide heat and dryness continue to increase.  For now, though, the saguaros are glad to say hello.

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Every active wash in the Sonoran region seems to have at least one cave, of sorts. I spotted this shallow granite indentation, whilst waiting for two lovely ladies and their horses to pass.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These two lovely ladies are content to grace the side of the trail.

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I found myself in the same state of happy tiredness, at the end of this exhilarating hike, as I have been on other such jaunts- so I feel the winter desert hiking season will not be a wash, after all.  My knee, though still a bit stiff, is on the mend.

I will return to this area, in a week or two and relish the Overton-Go John Loop.

Going With The Ice and Snow Flow

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January 3, 2019, Prescott-

A friend and I had planned on taking some local children to an ice skating rink today.  The kids got sick last night, so the two of us went on a hike in our local wonderland, Granite Dells, instead.   We chose Constellation Trail, on the west side of the Dells, and so named for a plane which crashed in the area, in 1959.

I have been on the Constellation Trail several times, but never in snow and ice.  As the snow was not deep, it was fairly easy to navigate-save for one small detail.  The snow and ice cover obscured the trail, in places, thus making it easy for us to be diverted to one side ravine after another.  I’ve done this before, elsewhere, when the trail has become smudged or eroded.

It was not a hard hike, otherwise, and though we did not get to the top of the ridge, 2.8 miles were walked, in a most serene setting.

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Afterwards, we went back to friend’s house, had lunch and I met her husband.  It pays to go with the flow, even that of ice and snow.  No, neither of us fell, thanks to the fiberglass poles and our own surefootedness.

The Old Year’s New Friends

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December 30, 2018, Prescott-

This fading year brought new people and places into my life, and filtered this life, quite vigourously.

My new friends, both online and in real time, have greatly enriched my life- being both sweet/warm and hot/ferocious.  One needs both in a balanced life.  I am blessed with a new daughter-in-law;  two wonderful branches of a blended family being brought into ours-courtesy of another family  wedding this past summer; a very bright and much-loved grandniece born in February; a smattering of vibrant, creative friends, from this year’s Convergence at Arcosanti; all manner of beloved souls from that site called “Archaeology for the Soul” and so many with whom I just happen to bond, in my wanderings both physical and ethereal.

I have filtered some- though I continue to feel great love for a place called Dharma Farm, prudence has led me to keep physical distance from there, for the time being.  A brief encounter with a distraught soul, this past Autumn, was also brought to an end, at her insistence, and no doubt with the blessing of the Universe.  I am more in tune with the needs of a good friend, here in Prescott.  Communication is everything!  I also dispensed with Twitter, though that means saying farewell to some friends who are only reachable on that medium.

This year brought some new cafes and restaurants into my life, here in town: Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Firehouse Coffee, Outlaw Donuts , Rosati’s Pizza and Danny B’s (actually in Chino Valley). I have lost none of my older faves here, save Black Dog Coffee,which bid us farewell in November.

New to me, on the road, this year, are Old Town Albuquerque; Moriarty (NM); Salina (UT); Sedalia (MO); Nauvoo and Carthage (IL); Ridgeview Grill ( Wilmette); Lafayette/West Lafayette/Prophetstown State Park’Tippecanoe and Mishawaka (IN); Ridgetown and London (ON); Toronto; Auberge Bishop, Chicha Donburi and La Pantere Verte (Montreal); Plattsburgh/Ausable Chasm (NY); Valley Forge; Alexander Inn and Independence Hall (Philadelphia);  Hostels International, Fort McHenry and Iron Rooster (Baltimore); the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay; Jamestown/Yorktown/ Virginia Beach/Newport News; Louis Gregory Baha’i Institute/Hemingway (SC); Hot Plate (Timmonsville,SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken); Calhoun Falls State Park /Edgefield (SC); Falls Park on the Reedy/Smoke On The Water (Greenville, SC); Walterboro (SC); Salisbury and Asheville (NC); Crossville (TN); Hostel Memphis/Young Avenue Deli/The National Museum of Civil Rights/Arcade Restaurant/Beale Street (Memphis); Old Town Alexandria. Each of these just added richness to this much blessed life and I would gladly visit any of them again.

NEXT:  Hails and Farewells

Interruptions

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDecember 29. 2018, Prescott-

I see my number of followers has declined, just a bit.

Ebb and flow don’t bother me.

I can’t please everyone, anyhow.

I had an urge to head up north,

to Dineh and Hopi country,

for a few days.

That will wait,

until snow and bitter cold

abate.

I found the trailhead

for the Great Western,

off to the side of

the marvelous Cherry Road.

The road itself leads to,

and through,

a small residential village,

with but a Bed & Breakfast,

to interrupt the flow

of privacy and quietude.

I will return to Great Western,

a few weeks hence,

once the cold abates a bit.

In the meantime,

milder climes will offer

their trails,

and we will see what

the Maricopa Trail

or Saguaro National Monument,

entails.

 

Old Town, but Not Cold Town

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December 10, 2018, Alexandria, VA-

In the years in which I was stationed at Fort Myer, VA and  in the several visits I’ve made to the Washington area, since then, I had not been in Old Town Alexandria.  The place was just enough off the beaten path that we always made to the National Mall, that I just never got over here.

The Metro has changed things and Alexandria took its rightful place on my itinerary, all the more so because our family dinner, the night before my mother-in-law’s interment, was held at The Warehouse, a fine dining establishment, in lower Old Town.

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This would be one of the best meals I’ve had, in a long time, and that’s saying  a lot, in a year of fabulous repasts. Yet, let;s get back to the start of this visit.

I took a Blue Line train to Alexandria’s Union Station, just after noon.

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Being a bit hungry, and with dinner nearly five hours away, I stopped in at this simple, but charming, little cafe, across from the train station.  As good as the coffee was, I relished the gyro sandwich, as well.

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Old Town, especially on King Street, has a variety of shops with interesting names:  Hard Times Cafe, Stage Door Deli, and this- a unique place, which was closed-it being Monday.

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Here is an eastward view of King Street. The air was cold, but the vibe in Old Town is uniformly warm.

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Even a broken bench was inviting.

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I spent about ninety minutes enjoying the scenes along the Potomac Riverfront, one of the key ingredients in the Alexandria Story.  This town was one of the first great shipbuilding and sail rigging manufacturing cities in the U.S., and continued in that role, right up through World War I.

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In Waterfront Park, the lone statue is that of a shipwright.

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Oystering is Alexandria’s other claim to fame, and Potomac River oysters are proudly served, both on and off the half-shell.  These pilings are left from an old oystering wharf.

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I could not resist zooming in on the U. S. Capitol, nearly six miles away to the north.

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Animals make do with the weather they’re given.  Here, a duck is grooming its mate, in the bracing Potomac waters.

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Jones Point, named for an indentured servant of the Eighteenth Century, is Alexandria’s largest wilderness park, and the southernmost point of Old Town.  It is the site of numerous archaeological digs, a couple of left-over border markers. From 1801-1847, the City of Alexandria was part of the District of Columbia.  A retrocession was passed by Congress in 1846 and took effect the following year, returning Alexandria to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  During the Civil War, however, the city was occupied by Union forces, thus temporarily reversing the retrocession.

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This house was occupied by the keeper of a lighthouse, at Jones Point, in the nineteenth century.

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On the walk back into Old Town, I noted the area’s awakening Christmas spirit.

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The last forty-five minutes before dinner were mostly spent in Torpedo Factory, which is actually Alexandria’s fascinating three-story arts haven.  More than fifty individual galleries are housed here, as are studios to encourage children’s art.

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The bear reminded me to stop by the small, but heartfelt, Old Town Books, and look for a children’s book-for my ten- month-old grandniece, who was at the dinner. I found a flip book on horses, which she found most interesting, both to sight and to touch, a good early sign!

The superb dinner ended a day, the likes of which “Bunny” always approved.

 

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Gratitude Week, Day 4- Those Who Serve

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November 21, 2018, Congress, AZ-

I’m enjoying dinner here, at Nichols West, a small but elegant restaurant, on the north side  of this tiny ranching and mining town, itself at the western edge of Yavapai County.  The place is the love-work of an English-South African-New Zealander couple, and has not once left me wanting for a fine meal.

I came here, after setting myself the challenge of re-training my knees to work together, whilst paying respects for a second time, to the nineteen men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire, on June 30, 2013.

I know members of four of the families of those who gave their lives that day.  Their collective sacrifice is typical of those families who give us their finest members, each and every day, never knowing whether their child, spouse or parent is going to return home, safe and sound.

This sacrifice has been written large, in the 9/11 attacks, in the mass killings of military and first responders of less celebrated, but equally compelling, disasters, and in the wildland fires, and other natural disasters, that continue to ravage locations across the country and across the planet.

So, I walked to the circle of gabions, in a quiet valley below the boulder-racked ridges of Yarnell Hill, the southern tip of the Santa Maria Range.  There were several others, enjoying the bright blue sky and rugged trail, whilst paying their own homage to the brave.  It is always worth the trek.20181121_121343[1]

I took my time, and was nearly the last one out of the park, with fifteen minutes to spare. The day  began with me befriending a frightened woman, who is caretaker to the love of her life (Yes, we also serve, who sit and wait), and listening/counseling her to keep on loving and cherishing the man who has been everything to her for decades. It is now ending, with my knees no worse for the wear and a restorative meal, having honoured those fallen men, whose memory is indelible.