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.

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

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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.

 

Sleight of Hand

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January 6, 2019, Prescott-

From today, I will not write the name of the town in my dateline, unless it is somewhere other than Home Base.  Otherwise, the reader may assume I’m writing in Prescott.  I am moving away from redundancy.

Today’s post is so titled, as the weather pattern was a mix of the predicted snow and rain, courtesy of a west wind and clear sky, courtesy of the normal Sonoran Desert dry air flow.  The call had been for rain, heavy at times.  Cosmic legerdemain is the way of the Southwest-even when the forecast is “100% precipitation”.

I try to keep my own sleight of hand to a dull roar.  If I say I am going to do something, I usually get it done.  Only once, since 2011, have I not followed through and that was in 2013, when it was prudent for me to put off a photo-journey to Newfoundland, in favour of joining my brother on a Sail Blind excursion.  I can’t think of anyone, though, who was offended by that.  Prior to that, my pledges were those that meant being met, even if heaven and earth had to be moved. Such is the realm of the caretaker.

We go back to work tomorrow, entering the period of time when interruptions in the learning process are at a minimum:  There are no big holiday pageants; the weather-related interruptions are almost always limited to a two-hour delay, in the start of school, if they happen at all.  So, our attention is on the elements of the students’ individual education plans.  We refrain from sleight of hand.,

Can and Will

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January 5, 2019, Prescott-

I woke up this morning, my legs stiff from yesterday’s hike, and hit upon the idea of high stepping, as a way of loosening the joints.  It worked and my left knee feels mobile and, I dare say, good as new.  Many of our difficulties with aging come from disuse, or improper use, of our parts.  That’s not the whole shebang, but it does have a lot to do with quality of life, as the years roll on- and I fully intend to go for the maximum.

This evening, I went to watch a silly Transformers film, mainly because the story line was about a teenager in whom no one believed.  Such people have been my heart, for so long, that I wanted to see the predictable triumph over self and others, which doesn’t always happen in real time.  She fixed a car and made a friend-the rest falling into place, haphazardly, but nicely.

Other films coming up will feature women who stand tall and beat oppressors.  This has always been important to me, that both boys and girls know they can go the distance and reach whatever heights to which they aspire-so long as they take life’s setbacks and turn them into comebacks.

Five years ago, this June, I visited  the tower where Jeanne d’Arc was imprisoned and  stood on the spot where she was immolated.  Today, no one gives much thought to the fact that the leader of French resistance to foreign rule was a peasant woman.  She is seen as simply having been a leader.

No human, who stands for what is in the heart and does the work necessary to accomplish deeply-cherished goals, is doomed to failure.

Changes

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January 1, 2019, Prescott-

Briefly, as the last post was so long:

I woke this morning with a very different feeling.

I remind you of some things about me.

I am an acquired taste.

I pick up on the energy that is around me.

If it’s positive, that feeds my already positive vibration.

If it’s negative, I want to get as far away as possible.

If it is frightened, I want to try and reassure,

but not in a forceful manner.

If it is angry,

I will approach it carefully.

I am detached from people,

even as I feel love for them.

If they don’t want me around,

I stay away.

Our bodies belong only to the wearers.

Our space is for us to determine,

as to its use.

So, I will help and offer love

to those who accept.

I will keep a respectful distance

from those who regard me

with suspicion.

Please watch from your distance

and draw your own conclusions

as to who I am.

Hails and Farewells

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December 31, 2018, Prescott-

Many are itching to put this year to bed.  We even had a fireworks display in the downtown area, at 9 p.m., three hours ahead of schedule.  Me?  I am tying up loose ends, with regard to the year being shown the door.  Earlier this evening, I went down to the Salvation Army dining room and helped serve dinner.  17 hardy souls are taking shelter there tonight and gratefully took a meal of hot chicken noodle soup, Subway sandwich, Asian salad, chips, carbonated fruit water and chocolate cake.  My job was to dish out the cake, and I managed a slice for each shelteree who wanted one-not easy, with salivating staff members wanting a slice, as well. There was plenty for all, though.

The year brought several people into my life.  Some, like my daughter-in-law and infant grand-niece, will be here forever.  Others, like a good friend in Missouri and several people I met this summer, whilst crossing the continent, will be around for a good long time.  Another came into my life, found it not to their liking, and left swiftly.

I said farewell to several- a childhood neighbour, Ed Wolfe; boyhood friends, Stan Norkum and Alan Belyea; the sister of a friend, Claire Lindquist; Penny’s cousin, Jean Haithcock; her maternal aunt, Averala Boyd and, closest of all, her mother and my mother-in-law, Ruth Fellman.

Now, 2019 is little more than an hour away from our part of the continent.  I know the souls who have departed are looking out for those they love.  I feel my share of that love and it has helped refine my character, still further.

I look forward to ongoing friendships, some of which were clarified, refined and strengthened this year. I look forward to those new friendships that are sure to come in the year ahead, as well.  I know I will have to say goodbye to some souls in 2019; that’s the way of it.  They will be there, in the In-Gathering, when my own time comes.

Happy 2019, everyone!

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

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.

Cleaning Up Ashes

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December 26, 2018, Prescott-

There is always a reckoning,

when one fails to heed the inner voice.

Christmas, 2018 will be remembered

as much for what I lost,

as for what I received.

There will be a reckoning,

sometime this week,

in one part of my life.

Then, I will go on,

though thankfully,

not without a job.

I may have one less friend,

and one less close relative,

in my life.

I will go on, though,

because there is no other way.

On the other hand,

I have a little family,

who  bring me joy,

and will continue,

for a good many years to come.

Prescott may not be the same.

after this week,

but I have my work,

my team,

and my students.

Family may not be the same,

in terms of its extension,

but I have my son,

my daughter-in-law,

and my siblings.

I have my Faith,

my co-worshipers

and my own determination,

to just be a better soul.