Density

2

,May 2, 2017, Prescott-

The night sky seems denser than usual.

I’m walking home,

from the second of two meetings

held after work.

This one was spiritual, in tone,

so I was not worn down.

Spirituality can be dense,

also.

Yet, that density is what lifts us

to the light,

and sustains us,

in time of an even denser sorrow.

My heart aches for one

who lost her dearest,

a few days ago.

I have been there,

and felt the aloneness,

even when surrounded by friends.

She feels lost, at times,

this I know,

without ever having met her.

There is a fog,

as thick as pea soup,

that envelops the grieving.

Left behind, it seems,

one inches forward,

in the gloom.

Light breaks through,

however,

because that is the nature

of the Universe.

The density of light

is what sustains us.

We stand with you, Senora.

Let us, the friends you know,

and those you haven’t met,

be your light.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXVI: Three Bounties

4

April 22, 2017, Globe, AZ- This Earth Day will long be remembered, to the core of my being, if for no other reason than being welcomed by a new, and  wonderful, friend, as she and her employer were trying to get set up for their busy Saturday.

I thought SunFlour Market was open at 8, but as the owner-chef, Willa, pointed out, the shop opens at 9.  It helps to check the website.  No harm, no foul- I was given a heaping plate of  the most savoury biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had, and stayed out of their way, while set-up continued.  I will be a semi-frequent visitor to this unassuming gem, over the next few months, at least.  It may well be that I become a regular, starting in August, but that’s to be decided in a month or two.

Kathy and Willa welcome their patrons with lots of love and good cheer.  As another example, a young couple came in, for a salad breakfast.  The ladies fussed over the vegetables, for a good twenty minutes, making certain only the best  produce went onto the plates.  The husband pronounced their meal, ” Some of the best food I’ve had, in Arizona.”

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There is also a mini-Farmers Market,  Saturdays, 9-1,from October-May.  The summer market is in Globe, 23 miles, and 1,000 vertical feet, to the east.

I spent a couple of hours in Globe, as well, given that another devoted friend has recently moved to the copper-mining mecca.

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John and I went to another well above-average restaurant, The Copper Hen, for a reasonable, and well-appointed, dinner.  The fare is Mediterranean (Italian and Greek), with the hours being definitely European. (There is a 2 1/2  hour break, between lunch and dinner.)  Rooster and hen motifs abound, but this is not a chicken-oriented menu.  The beef, ham, fish and vegetarian dishes are every bit as wonderful.

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In between the two visits, I took a 1 1/2 hour drive over to Safford, an agricultural community, in the Gila River Valley.  The region was having its first ever Multicultural Festival. It was a small, but heartfelt, effort, and I certainly hope it is repeated, fo ryears to come.  I focused on two events:  A martial arts demonstration, by a dojo of local youths and a talk on African storytelling, by an Arizona State University professor.

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This mighty girl did break the slab, in three blows.

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The presentation on African storytelling clarified several peoples’ misconceptions about why many African-Americans communicate, in the manner they do.  One example is that Africans, traditionally regard timeliness as “in its time”, rather than “on time”.  Another is that the African worldview sees no dichotomy between spiritual and physical.

Below, the presenter, Dr. Akua Duku Anokye, reads a short passage from an African folktale.

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Here is a slide, explaining the gist of her talk.

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I must have some of this, in my gene pool, as doing things “in their time” means more to me than “being on time.”

 

All good days come to an end, to make way for other good days.  The sunset over Globe bore witness to that truth.

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With these bounties, I am refreshed and ready for a Sunday of yard work and around-town tasks, then a solid work week.  I will return, to Superior at least, on May 6.  Have a great day, one and all.

 

 

He Bids Us All To Arise

8

April 16, 2017, Prescott-

Today, nearly a billion people, around the world, commemorated the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  Many combine the sacred with the whimsical, filling baskets with candy of all sorts, making Easter the second most popular candy-eating holiday, after Halloween.  Others leave out the sacred, altogether, thus making Easter little different from the Feast of All Hallows.

Christ overlooked the faults of others, save the Pharisees, whom He scolded and the merchants in the Temple, whom He chastised more forcefully.  He was far kinder to those who committed indiscretions of the heart.

The lesson I get from this, and from His very resurrection, is that the human spirit is capable of enormous resilience.  We fall down and hurt others, either physically or emotionally, yet some of these same people could very well return to at least a modicum of friendship, over time, if we ourselves recover our moral bearings.

Christ was not only saving us, by His sacrifice.  He was also showing us, how we might save ourselves, albeit by less supreme means.  Each of us can arise, in our own way, through adhering to the Golden Rule and by making amends, for wrongs that we have done to others.

As a Baha’i, I revere Christ as Messenger of God and Supreme Teacher.  Accordingly, I know that it’s my bounden duty to serve others, both to make amends for what I’ve done wrong in this life, and out of love for them.  Love is the basis for everything the Messengers of God, from Adam to Baha’u’llah, have taught us, over the millennia. Yesterday, I had the bounty of visiting several people, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning (at Houck,AZ) , in the Hopi village of Polacca and in the small Verde Valley town of Rimrock, where a longtime friend is in the fight of his life, against a crippling disease.  What I went to impart, was a very simple message:  Your life matters.

Christ said this, repeatedly, 2000 years ago. Baha’u’llah said this, repeatedly, 164 years ago.  Both gave us the admonition to say this to one another.  Both gave us the bidding to arise, to lift ourselves, and one another, out of despair and trouble.  That is the message I get from Easter.

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Constant Solace

5

March 28, 2017, Prescott Valley- This afternoon, whilst shuttling between meetings.   I listened to a discussion, on NPR, about emotional support animals.  It set me to thinking about the matters: Of people who feel invisible and untended; of false equivalency between those who are truly disabled, those who are mildly inconvenienced, and how does one accurately distinguish between the two; of those who are simply gaming the system.

When I was a child, there were Seeing Eye Dogs and police dogs, with specific missions, who were not to be bothered, in the course of their duties.  In the late 1970’s, came Hearing Dogs, which was almost a no-brainer.  After the closing of mental hospitals, and with the onset of more research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Therapy Dogs and Equestrian Therapy started to become commonplace, especially in the American West.  These animals all still serve a wide variety of people in pain.

In the 1990’s, and continuing through the present time, we have seen a more personalized extension of the therapy animal:  The Emotional Support Animal (ESA).  Dogs, cats, budgerigars, pythons, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, even llamas and burros, have been presented, in one or more social situations and public spaces, as essential companions to humans.

For those making these new demands upon the rest of society, the traditional concept of pets has gone out the window.  I know many who treasure their various pets, sometimes as members of the family.  Most of my pet-owning friends keep their furry friends at home, or make humane arrangements for them, when out of town.  To the people who regard their animals as essential to their own well-being, however, the idea of being away from them, even for a night on the town, becomes nerve-wracking, traumatic, and completely unacceptable.

I can understand a lot of this.  Other than the unconditional love of a significant other, there are few things more appealing than the comfort of one’s favourite animal, especially after a stressful day.  A warm dog or cat is also a comfort for many who live, and sleep, alone.

Enter the Golden Rule.  I am just posing these questions- without judgment:

Are the feelings of one’s fellow diners, and of eatery staffs, being considered, when one brings an ESA into a restaurant or outdoor cafe?

Is it safe, or even comfortable, to bring a stock animal onto a train?  What about the comfort of the animal?

Can the likes of  a dog, cat, gerbil or python really be suitable for riding in the coach of an airplane?  What about the animal’s safety, in the event its human needs to evacuate said aircraft?

What about the management of a conflict between, say, a dog and cat, or two animals in heat?

These are all, to my mind, fair questions.  I will read any reasonable, well- considered responses with a great deal of interest.

Clear As Mud

4

March 4, 2017, Camp Verde- One of the features of Arizona life, that escapes many visitors, is the seasonal vitality of our rivers.  After taking part in a Red Cross service activity, I headed to Clear Creek Day Use Area, which offers access to the West Clear Creek, as it heads southeast, towards its eventual confluence with the Verde River.  As you will see, the creek’s name, this time of year, is a misnomer.

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There was a party of above 18 people, including two small children, preparing to raft West Clear, as I arrived for a short hike along its west bank.  All were well-suited up for the experience, and I wished them safe passage.  Below, are several things that awaited them.

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Of course, there was plenty of open water, behind this particular tree; but you get the picture.

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One of the attractions here, in calmer weather, is the jump-off point.

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Some people just figure, in the dryness of September and October, that it’s no big deal to leave a memento of industrialism.  More’s the pity.

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Once back on drier terrain, I made note of the footbridge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, way back in 1940.

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There was still some energy left in me, so, despite it being the period of the Baha’i Fast, I took in a short segment of Copper Canyon Trail.  The last time, I walked the north segment, which leads to I-17.  This time, I headed southward and up a small mesa.  It is not an especially spectacular trail, but it’s nature and I practically had the place to myself.  An old cowboy, passing by, made note of my Red Cross t-shirt and remarked as how such charities are in debt, before going his way.  While that may have been true, at one point, I’m not so sure that our donors put up with such, anymore.

 

Anyway, here are a few scenes, which a couple of herds of cattle and I shared, along the trail.  There wasn’t much water in Copper Creek, but it was clear.

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It wasn’t long, before I headed up the two switchbacks which led to the mesa top.  There are, actually, about five such mesas, rising up out of Copper Canyon.  The scene in the near distance, is Clear Creek Village, just south of Camp Verde.

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It is possible for the discerning eye to see traffic, headed northbound, on I-17.

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Despite the winter’s continued scenes of bareness, the promise of Spring is evident, in these wild dandelions.

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So, there goes a very full day, spent with our beautiful eastern neighbour, the Verde Valley.

Sixty for Sixty-Six, Part III: Kudos

4

January 15, 2017, Prescott- 

Last night, 22 of us paid homage to a man who worked, diligently, outside his area of expertise, for thirty-five years, bringing knowledge of human nature and psychological well-being, into the fast food industry.

Farouk “Frank” Assadi came to this country, from Iran, as part of a diaspora spawned by religious oppression.  He lived and worked in Iowa and California, before settling in Prescott, around 2000.  His Blimpie Sandwich and Salad Shop, part of a larger chain, was a central focus of meals for many, of all walks of life, for the sixteen years it was in existence.  Before that, he had run Orange Julius franchises and a Blimpie, in another community.  On December 31, Frank took down his food service shingle and will cast his net in another direction, after a period of semi-retired rest.

He’s 70, and thus serves as an inspiration for my own planned change of focus, in 2020.  We, who work for wages, eventually earn the right to follow our hearts into avocation.  For Frank, that will likely mean work in public health.  For me, that will likely mean itinerant acts of service, combined with photography and writing, much as I’m doing during off-work hours now.

My son is visiting the Prescott area, this weekend, combining time with me and a modicum of winter camping, this evening, in a nearby US Forest Service campsite, at White Spar, which I visited last year, in the course of hiking the Prescott Circle Trail, in a series of segments.

He has grown up to build a strong character, somewhat different social and political views from my own, but with the sense of loyalty and work ethic, which I instilled in him, early on.  I know he will continue to be a credit to the United States Navy, and to any other organization he may serve. In a few short weeks, Aram will head for the land of his birth, South Korea, and a new set of challenges and growth opportunities.  I will watch this, proudly, from the sidelines.

In a few days, our nation enters a new phase: Governance by a man whose life has been spent in the private sector.  I trust, though, that the American people will remain vigilant, and will call events as they see them.  I don’t think all that many people, especially in my circle of family and friends, have given the departing president much credit, partly due to his own detached demeanour and  partly due to his having come into office, with an unfamiliar face and name.  I do think, however,that he did a lot more for the country than we can even see at present.  Yet, it is also true that several bars need to be raised.  I will have more to say on these, in the next post.

Crowns

4

January 6, 2017, Phoenix-

Dental day,

and I am given

a mostly clean

bill of health.

A chipped tooth,

must be crowned soon,

so time gets set aside.

I honour my angel,

as other departed souls

are given their due.

The cemetery is busy

on this cool Epiphany Day.

Later, it is explained to me,

that angels were created

to serve Man.

My angel wears a crown, of pure gold,

having seen  to me meeting my needs.

In the evening,

I present a living angel,

with a gift from my heart,

as no child should ever

feel forgotten, or of no worth.

This girl will make her own

crown of glory.

 

Mother Miguel Mountain

3

January 3, 2017, Chula Vista-   Whenever I look out the window, from my son’s apartment, the curious sight of Mount San Miguel, in the Otay Range, looms to the southeast. I took advantage of Aram’s being back to work, got up before dawn, and headed over to Mount San Miguel Park, on Chula Vista’s east side.  There was a short wait, of about twenty minutes, as the city park opens at 6 A.M., with decent light about 6:30.

My choice of trails led up Mother Miguel Mountain, to a military commemorative, called Rock House.  Two explanations are in order:  “Mother Miguel” is a mash-up of Madre Grande, which some early settlers from the eastern U.S. took to pronouncing “Mother Grundy”, and San Miguel, the name given to the area by earlier Spanish ranchers;  Rock House is the name given to a rock arrangement which houses two, rather tattered, flags-our national flag and the banner honouring Prisoners-of-War and those Missing-in-Action.  The latter is to be flown, or displayed at meetings of veterans’ service organizations, until the day comes when all such persons, or their identified remains, are honourably interred or cremated on U.S. soil.

My leisurely up and back lasted about three hours, over a round trip of 6.2 miles.  The photos, taken with my phone camera, are not as clear as those taken with the digital, but you will get the idea.20170103_0651391

Here is the trailhead for Mother Miguel, from the east end of Mt. San Miguel Park.20170103_0701591

Above, is a view of the destination, for which I used a series of 22 non-taxing switchbacks.

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Occasional limestone boulder piles provide a place to sit and contemplate, along the way.

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Others just dominate their area,  as does this castle-like outcropping.

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Once atop the modest-sized peak, Mexico looms, to the south, with the San Ysidro district of San Diego, in the foreground.

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Here is Rock House, with its resident banners.

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A second stone arrangement, intended as a circle for contemplation, is found just south of the Rock House.  Sweetwater Reservoir is seen in the distance.

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A third, circular, stone arrangement is a bit more to the south, still, and seems to invite a holistic view of the repatriation process.

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Off to the east is Mount San Miguel, whose owners SAY they don’t want hikers going to its summit, but do nothing to prevent those few intrepid people,usually military members doing personal training, who make the steep hike up its western slope.

Speaking of which, there were about six others on Mother Miguel Trail, while I was there.  One, a young lady, passed by, as I was taking in the rock arrangements, and went to the southernmost point on the summit.  After she had returned from her moments of solitude, and headed on down the mountain, I went to that point, and found a commemorative bench.

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There is, indeed, nothing that replaces a sense of home.  I hope that she felt comforted, and reassured, by this message.

The way down had me thinking, somehow, of just how vital the two youngest generations are, and will continue to be, to the well-being of our nation, and of our planet, as a host of problems, heretofore unfaced, will present themselves, over the next decade or so.  I guess the energy of the young runners and hikers, along with the industrial views of the area to the west and north of the park, set this thought in motion.  Like all previous such times of challenge, humanity will prevail, by working together.  There is no other choice.

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The rocks remain, and patiently look upon us.

 

Service

2

December 19, 2016, Prescott- 

It was a calmer day, today.

We are now down to three-and-a-half days,

until time comes for a change of pace.

The look of surprise,

on the face of one of my supervisors,

when I said I had plans

other than working, gratis,

in the classroom,

over the Holidays,

was priceless.

There is more to life,

than one’s chosen daily routine.

There will be other things

on my plate,

from this coming Saturday,

until the second Sunday

of the new year.

Service is always front and center,

and it takes many forms.

 

Contentment

7

December 13, 2016, Prescott-

I will be sending my cards, and a few gifts, out on Thursday evening or Friday.  It will be cutting things close, but this year, I have chosen responsibility over sentiment. Besides, I need to buy a new printer.  Toys for Tots, NAU (my alma mater) and the young people of Streetlight will also need to wait until then.

I am happy, overall, with how my life has panned out, this year.  I am in a position of very intense public service, have a solid circle of friends, am reasonably respected in my community of residence, and have been able to maintain my health and vitality.

My son is holding his own, and getting ready for a great leap of faith and fortune, early next year.  My family, mostly in Massachusetts and Florida, with several scattered in other parts of the country, has been mostly healthy, this year.  I lost two aunts and a cousin,thus far, in the course of 2016. I also saluted an elder who inspired me greatly, as he headed to God’s Eternal Army.

My other love, Nature, rewarded me with a complete hiking circle around this beautiful city, and I have come to the final three segments of an amazing trek through the Sonoran Desert:  Dec. 26-27, and January 6, will find me in the southern sector of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail.  The 19 men who perished while fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, on June 30, 2013, have a memorial place, in Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park.  I will visit that place, on December 29, making my way along the 7-mile round trip trail that brings the visitor to the place where this unspeakable tragedy unfolded.

This year has brought tension, annoyance and suffering to many, perhaps more than in some years, and less so, for others.  I am grateful for having had relatively good fortune, while being prepared, should challenges come my way, in 2017.  A stable job, re-connecting with some friends who have been off my radar for a few years, and good, if too brief, visits with family, give a good backdrop for whatever might lie ahead.