Nurturing the Basics

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February 6, 2019-

The title pretty much sums up what I do, from day to day, on my job.  It also sums up what I have experienced, in so many areas of life, especially since 2011.  Things that are second nature, or are taken for granted, by many others, have been huge for me-as they have happened for seemingly the first time.  I will treasure my journeys, completed hiking routes, accomplished volunteer projects, and each event at which I have been warmly greeted.

Of course, there have been moments when I’ve stumbled, in Paris, in Gera and in Corpus Christi,  I learned from those relatively minor errors in judgement.  There have been times when I’ve faced hostility, and I’ve learned from those times, as well.  There have been times when I’ve looked in the face of indifference, and have realized that this is to be expected- across the range of human interactions.  Friendships often ebb and flow.

My greatest satisfaction, though, is in seeing people I love rise above their own apprehensions and overcome their setbacks.  Nurturing one’s basic skills is ever a source of comfort and strength, on which to fall back.  I will continue to work on mine, and realize things about myself that have not even occurred to me. I hope the same for my many friends and loved ones.

Bedrock

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February 5, 2019-

The past couple of days have brought the kind of semi-wintry weather, not the least bit warm, but not cold enough for snow, for which our area is known, this time of year.

Prescott’s winter allows for business to be conducted as usual, for all but 3-4 days during the season- and then it is only interrupted in the morning.  Noon usually brings melting.

The whole reason for my continuing to work is based on the love that forms  the bedrock of my view of the world.  I have health that is good enough to keep me getting up, going in, paying attention to my charges and co-workers, and living the full life of a committed professional, until the day comes, most likely in May, 2021, that  it’s time for me to change direction.

I am finding that, with each passing day, my family, in the real sense of the word, is getting larger and stronger.  Being able to travel the length and breadth of the North American continent, and a good many places beyond, and never feel like a stranger, is a feeling that I would not have imagined for myself, even ten years ago.  Feeling that I am never really alone, even in the outwardly darkest of times, is a blessing that has only come with facing the tests and trials of what is never promised to be a charmed life.

I feel this, after an afternoon of learning more about handling job challenges in a different way and an evening of contemplating this bedrock of love that the Infinite, the Universe, has set for us.

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.

 

 

 

Rainy Day Reflections

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January 15, 2019-

Yesterday, I rushed about, in the morning, to get  an essential oil blend to a young friend suffering from a health ailment not normally associated with the young.  I hope the oil will help.  More potentially problematic was getting to my own appointment, halfway across the Salt River Valley.   I was twenty minutes late, but had been able to message the office, as to my predicament.  No worries and I emerged with a clean bill of dental health, for another four months.

On the way up to the cemetery where Penny is laid to rest, I was obliged to stop, as the funeral procession of another soul passed.  I could hear the proceedings of the person’s ceremony, as I communed with my beloved, some fifteen minutes later.  Each one of us ought to be able to expect a dignified send-off, and someone to keep us in loving memory.  Of course, what one gets in that regard, depends on what one has given.

I went up to Cave Creek, for lunch, with a trio of pleasant eateries on my short list:  Local Jonny’s, my favourite, was suitably packed; Big Earl’s, always offering a warm greeting, also offers food too heavy for my needs at that time; Divine Bakery was thus my choice, with no other customers when I walked in, but five people entering, as I left. In between, was the best quiche south of Rustic Pie Company (Prescott’s best) and a delectable cannoli.

Today the rain came down in buckets, as unusual as the snow that hit the central part of Arizona on Saturday night.  We can expect such moisture in July and August, but not so much in winter.  These are not “conventional” times, though.  Besides, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of our larger reservoirs, with Lake Mead, which got a fair amount of rain today, also, being Ground Zero in the drought watch chronicles.

It mattered little to us, ensconced in the classroom and taking our post-lunch walk around the main building.  Our life today revolved around getting more familiar with talking electronic pads- giving voice to those without the  ability to speak, themselves.  I recognize the urgency of this, and am giving quick study to mastering the use of these devices.

My knee has been better, of late, with ongoing exercises and essential oil treatments. There are a few exercises in the adaptive P.E. class, to which we take our students, which will require more acclimating, but I am getting there.  Now it’s time to head over to Planet Fitness.

 

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.

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.

Samson

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December 27, 2018, Prescott-

The evening dinner and discourse, at a good friend’s house, went very well, actually- as I am just not attached to those aspects of my personality that someone finds disconcerting.  The run-up to, and expectations of, a conversation about what people expect from one another, can be uncomfortable and filled with trepidation.  Thankfully, I felt no such angst, once I recited a strong prayer, this afternoon.  My friend was not sure how I would react to her comments, but you know, what she asked is so totally reasonable and fair, that my answer was “Absolutely!” That is how I was raised- with Mom telling us not to hold back with our upsets and distresses, so long as they were stated with dignity and a bit of forbearance.  So, the evening went, a nice meal, a respectful concord and the viewing of the film, “Samson”.

Therein, the story of the Hebrew leader and freedom fighter is depicted, with an earnest but troubled Samson, opposed by both some of his more militant Danite villagers and by the Phillistines, ruled by Balek and his ambitious, conniving son, Rallah, and daughter-in-law, Delilah.  It is Delilah who tricks Samson, three times, into giving the royals the information and strength they need to oppress the Danites and Nazarites.  Rallah, though, is portrayed as a sociopath, killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, two turncoat Hebrews and Samson’s father, before killing his own father, so as to take the crown.  The tale ends, much as it does in the Old Testament.

Samson’s main point is about integrity and humility, with the superhuman giving all credit for his strength to God, not disputing with his Hebrew opponents, and facing the Phillistine’s challenges without batting an eye.  He experiences angst about not following the letter of the law, whilst removing tunics from dead soldiers, thereby breaking a vow to never touch the dead.  The angst follows Samson, for other actions, throughout the story.

I am likewise committed to integrity and self-purification.  Not being a superhuman, or a member of an oppressed community, my own actions have to be about maintaining both my own dignity and worth, and honouring those of my friends.  It’ll never be a matter of “self-defense”, when questioned or corrected, especially by those who have consistently had my best interests in mind.

Season’s Greetings

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December 18, 2018, Prescott-

So now, my full days of school, for 2018, are in the rear view mirror.  Three abbreviated school days remain, before we all take a break for the period which, for many, is a time of celebration and revelry.  For others, it will be a time of remembrance of a Great Being, Whose sacrifice and teachings are fully intended to bring peace to those who understand them.  For still others, it will be a time of lying low and making do with very little.  Then, the Gregorian clock will reset itself, and we will have 2019 AD/CE. (I am old school, and prefer the former, in figuring time since the Birth of the Christ.  Further disclosure: We Baha’is determine our place in time, dating from the Declaration of al-Bab, in May, 1844 and thus will refer to next year as 176 Baha’i Era, or B.E.  For general social purposes, though, I will continue to date my posts by the Gregorian system.)

During this period of  revelry, rest, reflection and resilience, I wish these things, to the following:

Seniors (75 and onward):  May your curiosity continue and may it bring you the recognition and relevance that ought to come with accrued wisdom .  The elder among you raised our generation and can take large credit for the best that we have been able to offer the world, through your parenting.  The younger among you are our older cousins, siblings and mentors.  It would have been harder growing up without your shared experiences and occasional babysitting. You remain friends, and vital presences in my life-Mom, Uncle Jim and Aunt Jackie, Aunt Janet, Aunt Carol, both Aunts Helen, Aunt Gail, Uncle Jerry,  and my online friends and older cousins, (you know well to whom I am referring).

My Contemporaries (55-74):  My siblings, many cousins, classmates, immediate elders and juniors, and a good many of my friends-We have gone through many of the same experiences, hard times, great celebrations, triumphs and tragedies, victories and losses.  We have seen Woodstock and the Men on the Moon; the gradual “shrinking” of Planet Earth, and changes that we never anticipated. Considering that my first phone call, to my late Aunt Hazel, was aborted by a shrill voice telling me to get off the phone, as it was a party line “used  by grown-ups, for important matters”. I did as I was told, and remember my mother’s eyes rolling, as she quipped, “important matters, like everyone else’s business!” Now, the picture phones and calls between vehicles, of which I once dreamed, are de rigeur.  May our days not be hamstrung by health-related woes, to the extent that we can use natural remedies, exercise and a well-varied diet, to keep us going.  May we continue to love those older and younger than we; and because we first know to love ourselves.

Millennials and Generation X (20-54):  You have brought many of the ideas of which I once dreamed, as a child and teen, into being.  Many of you were my students and counselees.  I helped a fair number, confused some and let others down, but loved all of you.  Among you are my nieces and nephews, and my own beloved son and daughter-in-law.  You grew up in my hometown of Saugus; or in the woods of central Maine;  or in the elite families who sent you to  a boarding school in the midst of the Sonoran Desert; or on the Navajo and Hopi nations, reared by loving, but often struggling extended families, who gave me more than I could ever repay; or in the western Sonoran Desert, a string of communities that gave newcomers a wary, if cordial, welcome-even when several were newcomers, themselves; or you grew up, as our son did, moving from town to town and making the best of life, even when it felt lonely.  I wish you a future far better than the recent past has shown you, and know that you have it within, to make wondrous things happen.

Generation Z (Newborns to 19)- I am thrilled to see the older among you come of age, shed the misgivings of your elders and take on the challenges that the Universe has sent your way, either because of the nature of life or because of what the rest of us have managed to create.  Every generation hands down both blessings and banes to its progeny, so do forgive us and know that you are also very much loved.  You have come into my life, as my working years are winding down and you have given me the confidence, the sense that my volunteer, travel and, quite possibly, grandparent years will be as bounteous and fulfilling as all that has gone before. May we all greet and nurture the generations  that come after you, as well.

To all, I treasure my time among you and may it long yet continue. A Merry Christmas, Bountiful Kwanzaa, Joyful Solstice and Healthy, Prosperous and Happy 2019, to each and every one.

 

Tear Memories, Fire Sales and Recovery

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December 13-14, 2018, Prescott-

I’ve been back at work, these past two days, getting easily into the routine again.  As my crewmates read my posts here and on Facebook, there was a brief welcome back, with little conversation about the journey. We focus on the matters at hand, which are certainly enough on any given day.

It must have been quite a contrast in those schools which have endured the twin demons of school shootings and their accompanying choruses of denials/attacks on survivors and victims’ families.  The fourteenth of December, a full week after the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, has its own, equally horrific commemoration- the massacre at Sandy Hook.  There will never be a time when the survivors of this insanity do not shed tears.  There will hopefully be a time, and soon, when those of us who truly love children can forgive those who threatened the families of the shooting victims.  That time, at least for me, has not arrived, and I’m still vigilant.

Fridays are also  days when investors take to selling off their  stocks, perhaps more than on any other day of the week.  I know the sales have to originate on Wednesdays, with the cashout being completed at week’s end, but it seems to me that this is an ersatz payday.    The stock market is no place for a fire sale.

I have now fully recovered from a couple of setbacks, earlier in the year.  Finances are sound, and will have to sustain me for the rest of my life, so I will continue to maintain a measure of frugality.  I again have a passport, so prudent overseas travel can happen, to Korea, next Spring, and certain other places, two years hence.    Travel and frugality are not mutually exclusive.