Needed All Over

5

February 15, 2019, Blythe-

I  refer above to Love, itself.  Today has brought an increase in saddening, troubling news from many parts:  The slaughter of at least five people in Aurora, IL; severe flooding in southern California; flu and other respiratory ailments, hitting many families with whom I am in communication.  These, plus what I noted in yesterday’s post, occupy my thoughts and prayers.

I am here in this eastern California desert town, with wind gusting around 30 mph, on occasion. It’s not raining here, yet.  Near San Diego are some people who mean everything to me, and who are in dire straits.  I am in communication with one of them, and will do whatever the family needs.  There are, at present, many resources available to help those in danger, and I am a long way from being a Superhero, so the bounds of sanity apply here-fear not.  Nonetheless, I love these kids dearly and will not let them slip through the cracks.  I would do the same for any number of people, should the need arise.

That said, I am keeping an eye on Prescott and northern Arizona, as well.  We may well have quite a time of it, early next week. Stay tuned, and stay connected.

Bedrock

0

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.

Starting at Home

8

January 27, 2019- 

One of  my mother’s favourite sayings, “Charity begins at home”, was made a basis for many of my actions, as a child and as a teen.  Nothing was made, or done, that wasn’t shared with family, on some level.

So it is, also, with conservation- as the late John McCain was also fond of saying.  A few weeks ago, during the height of the ill-fated shutdown, I went up to Sunset Crater National Monument, to see if I might help with a clean-up.  It turned out not to be necessary, though there was a mess, on Federal land, some twenty miles west.  Others took care of that clean-up.

With the shutdown over, however temporarily, I decided to take some time, after a study session this afternoon, and check a popular local trail, Lynx Lake, for residual clean-up that might be needed.  I was thanked by a few other hikers, especially accepting three pooper bags in my larger trash bag.  It was rather cute, that a lone duck followed me in the water, as I walked along the north shore, collecting a few plastic bottles.  It was almost as if it knew that the toxic items were being removed.  Long story short, I put a half-filled trash bag in the dumpster of the  south beach.

It was a minor effort, in the scheme of millions of acres of Federal land needing attention, after the lengthy hiatus.  I can only hope that there were thousands of others stepping up and doing their part, with there being way too much to be done, as it is, by those returning to work.  I think of the first National Historic Site I ever visited:  Saugus Ironworks, of the most extensive I’ve ever seen:  Grand Canyon and of the park I visited most recently for the first time:  Valley Forge.  Then, there is Arlington National Cemetery; today would have been the 95th birthday of my father-in-law, who is interred there, along with his wife.

I can only hope there are no more shutdowns of government, but if there are, I know to be ready to help, as a citizen.

Fire Sign-Part II

6

January 21, 2019-

My act of service, on this national act of service day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was to join a determined little family, on a Red Cross project.  Sound The Alarm is a nationwide project to ensure that all homes in the United States have  access to working smoke detectors, installed free of charge, by Red Cross volunteers or team members from partner agencies, such as a local Fire Department.  I have been working with this family, for well over a year, to get this program off the ground in western Yavapai County.

Today, after manning a table for a few hours, outside a closed Boys and Girls Club, in Prescott Valley, we had generated a list of ten clients.  One of them asked that his alarms be installed today, so after the tabling activity was finished, we went to his home and installed two alarms.  This activity was a significant jump start, to a rather lengthy process.

I was born under the fire sign.  Corrective action, the fulfillment of promises and facing even severe challenges, without backing down, have been constant, in my adult life.  When I was challenged, last Fall, as to whether that was still the case, I had to recommit to it, though on my own terms, not those that were being dictated to me.

The fire is still here, and I will stand up and work through whatever challenges come, in the remaining future.

 

Nine Tasks

2

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

11

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.

 

Lightness Is

7

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

6

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.

 

Facing Negative Energy

7

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

4

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.