Cactus Flower to Yellow Rose

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November 22, 2022, Grapevine- A 1:45 a.m. wake-up, for a 3:15 shuttle, leading to a 7:15 flight from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth, is not on my frequent travel schedule. It is also far from the hardest of itineraries, as I imagine any veteran of a Belem to Manaus to Leticia packet boat trip along the Amazon, or a joyride from Punta Arenas to the Ross Peninsula, or even a trek to the summit of one of the great peaks of the Himalaya, Andes or Northern Rockies, would attest.

It is, however, something I have mastered, along with nine other travelers, who joined me in packing a van that made it in perfect time, from the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (where a twenty-minute search of three stops yielded the two travelers sought.) There was scant traffic, once two more passengers boarded the shuttle, in Prescott Valley and Groome’s driver got us to Sky Harbor on time.

Other than a few uptight, suspicious people in an airport coffee shop, and in my row on the plane itself, there were no hiccups between Phoenix and my secondary home. I retrieved my luggage fairly quickly and took my first ride in a Tesla. The car is not quirky; I’ll say that much, and the time may well come when the brand has no more association with Fascism than does a Volkswagen. It rides very smoothly.

Now it’s time to relax, get rid of the rest of the cold that has bothered me-along with 3/4 of the people I know in Arizona- and bask in my little family’s presence.

A Non-Starter

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November 21, 2022- Both of us are respectful of electricity and its power, being careful to avoid mishandling the pair of battery jumper cables. Friend was glad to hand off the task of attaching the cables cables to me. I did so, easily enough, but when I started Sportage and tried the same with the problem vehicle- crickets. As a “door is ajar” warning sound continued to ding, even when all doors were closed, I suspect a short in the wiring. I gave friend a ride to a place of lodging, and he will resume dealing with the matter tomorrow morning, hopefully with help from his insurance carrier.

This was nearly the last task to occupy me today, before my flight to Dallas, early Tuesday. The day mostly consisted of accompanying a 10-year-old student from one class to another. She is soft-spoken around adults, but is very much independent and seemingly in charge of her disability, rather than the other way around. The day went well, and her teacher asked me to consider taking on the task full-time. While it might be better for a younger, female paraprofessional to do the job day-to-day, I am not ruling it out for the second semester.

The last task was to conduct a Baha’i study of social action formulae. We came close to finishing the unit, but my purpose is to generate meaningful discourse, which indeed came out of our study of three sections. leaving two to examine, next Monday evening. This will mean my birthday dinner will be an early event, which I prefer anyway.

After a bit of packing for tomorrow, it was early to bed- with joy at a productive day.

Thunderbird

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November 20, 2022- As I sat with two young siblings, in a friend’s apartment, they began drawing and then painting, images on cloth canvas squares. The kids did marvelous depictions of Pokemon characters and yin/yang symbols. My friend asked if I wanted to do a canvas of my own, which sounded like fun. I did a free-style depiction of a prehistoric bird, using a few colours: Red torso, black beak and legs, yellow tuft and green head. I would be surprised if any actual bird looked like that, but it was a nice, light activity.

It did get me thinking about the thunderbird, a common mythological creature of North America, ascribed by Algonquian-speaking peoples in the Pacific Northwest, eastern Canada, the northeast United States and the Great Lakes region, with thunderous wing-flapping and the ability to hurl lightning at giant serpents and other underwater creatures. It was said that thunderbirds ruled the land and sky, whilst serpents and underwater panthers shared the underworld. I heard about thunderbirds, growing up, and while they remain fanciful, the colour scheme has a polyglot, rainbow quality (Northwest) or has blue-black feathers.

The mythological nature of the beast, in turn, reminded me of the superhuman powers that we sometimes ascribe to actual creatures-even to the microbial level. I have fought a hard, but somewhat manageable, cold, over the past four days. It is at the point now, where it is subsiding and there is only a smidgen of mucous, itself clear. This is what I refer to as change-of-seasonitis, and it has usually showed up, around late October. My ailment has none of the symptoms attributed to COVID-19, and does remind me, pure and simple , of other bad colds I’ve had this time of year. The thunder is subsiding now,thankfully, and with a good rest and hydration, I will be fine for Tuesday’s flight.

Delivering, not Sniveling

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November 19, 2022- I walked carefully into the American Legion Post general meeting, about 15 minutes before it actually started. Wearing my face mask, as vestiges of my cold could put others at risk, I took my usual seat, and was surprised, though hardly discomfited, to find every other seat at the normally half-empty table well-occupied. The full hall meant that there would be a fairly intense discussion of various items, and there was. My voice being still scratchy, I spared the gathering of my opinions, agreeing with much of what others said, anyway. At the end, all were treated to a rich and flavourful home-baked enchilada pie and salad items.

Though I missed Farmers Market and Zeke’s, this week, also due to wanting to heal as completely as possible, before Tuesday’s flight and out of consideration for those in fairly crowded situations, the day was busier than I had initially planned. The ton of laundry, including the bed linens, finally was properly washed and dried. That took close to three hours. A hokey version of “Van Helsing’ palye din the background, with the vampire slayer taking on a Man-Fish (or a man in silly fish mask, with a Central Casting monster voice), and freeing the young adult daughter of a distraught couple, from Fishy Boy’s grasp (all this, despite VH’s having been skewered, at least three times, by Mr. Fish, or one of his minions).

In the early evening, I returned to Rafter Eleven, for the first time in about five weeks, to find that Dawn & crew have added lunch and dinner items to their Bill of Fare. It was a great delight to my palate, to have Chicken Pot Pie for an actual solid dinner. This brings Rafter into the “Dinner and A Show” level, and made listening to the jazz trio that much more enjoyable. I will be over there more regularly, once back from Dallas.

There Are Oils for This

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November 18, 2022- I got sick, in the process of working in a Special Needs class, the previous two days, most likely a result of going full-speed ahead on other projects, earlier in the week and the ubiquity of sick children, sent to school for any of a number of reasons.

The treatments (self-administered) came hard and heavy. Following the guidance in do Terra’s “Modern Essentials”, a regimen of Oregano Oil in water, a mix of digestive blend and cellular complex blend in another glass of water, Life-long Vitality Supplements, Red Yeast Rice, ProstaStrong and Lutein, separately taken over the course of the day, has helped knock out the Nasty ( bad cold, and definitely not showing up as COVID).

Essential oils, used properly, have enhanced my overall health and have made my early 70s a lot more life-affirming and engaged than might otherwise be the case. There are also the examples of my parents, who did not avoid work because of illness. This was true of them, to a fault, and the same shows up in me. This bout of common cold is one of those 4-or 5-year things, but as always it is a sign telling me to slow down. By the time Tuesday’s flight to DFW is imminent, I fully expect the cold to be done and over with-so the regimen goes on, in the interim- as does a good night’s sleep.

There are essential oils for just about any ailment.

Impersonal

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November 17, 2022- I am honest; I would have preferred to stay at Home Base and rest. The issue is, though, that other people on the crew are very sick. Those who have a gift of mindfulness. and a level of health that is above walking wounded status, needed to be on deck today. There will be a reserve group covering for me and another regular paraprofessional, tomorrow, when I have a regular meeting in the morning and teammate has a family event.

The children, whether sick or not, are here. This is not just true of high maintenance or difficult to manage children. Parents have their own schedules and the kids themselves don’t want to stay home. That speaks well of the school as a whole, and of the program in which I am presently working, even in the throes of rebuilding.

Kids have always been devious at times, unruly at other times and appreciative, tender-hearted at still other times. Perhaps this is all part of learning which path is the right one. In any case, it is always best to take the worst behaviours impersonally, though certainly an aspect of that learning is being called to account for transgressions!

One child, given a basketball, shot a few baskets and then decided to let the ball roll down, across the parking lot and into the small clump of trees. Once the ball rolled to a stop at the fence that separates the property from a mobile home park, he decided he had seen what we wanted to see and came back to where I was waiting, with one of his classmates. This time, he figured it was a good idea to go back inside. Indeed it was!

We have come far, from the bad old teacher days of corporal punishment; from the bad old administrator days of using two Behaviour Modification Programs that conflict with one another and the bad old student & parent days of claiming that “just about anything goes” is enshrined in the First Amendment. There are still vestiges of each of these miserable philosophies, but they have lost cachet here. A student who throws a meal tray will face parent or grandparent, at days end-and there are, thankfully, no defensive parents in this group. They expect the children to follow instruction.

Misbehaviour is impersonal, usually, vis-a-vis the victims. These kids are impulsive and in-the-moment. So, we go on, looking for clues as to the hook behind misbehaviour.

A Whirlwind Is Still A Force of Nature

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November 16, 2022- There are two competing children in the class where I am working today, tomorrow and Monday. They don’t particularly like one another, the one being fun-loving, feisty and given to salty language and the other grasping, yet surly at the same time, and given to thought-salads, asking for one activity, then going on to another, and another, within a span of two minutes. Both are capable of mayhem, yet the first child will explode, execute the mischief and calm down within a 2-3 minute timeout. The other, in my opinion dangerously over-age for the classroom, does not struggle much, fortunately, but stores his insolence, taking it out on the teachers and classmates-at random moments.

We have a protocol that has one staff member sitting close to the second student and gently bringing him back to his seat when he gets up to see what mischief he can cause. The first child basically just wants to dance, fairly gracefully, and do the assignments given-but in her own way, Both could be nurtured in good work habits, if a 1:1 could be arranged for them. A whirlwind, as destructive as it tends to be, is still a force of nature, energy that could conceivably be turned into a beneficial power source-though admittedly, the technology that would make that feasible is a long way off. We are closer to harnessing the strengths of even the most unruly student, but we need to overcome a paralysis of will in education, especially in public education. It will take a massive amount of energy, from parents, educators and community-at-large, especially the business community, to replace the drive towards homogeneity with a culture that once again values innovation and individual initiative.

I will have more to say, after tomorrow’s events. Yet, a whirlwind is still a force of nature.

Back to Basics

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November 15, 2022- I set out from Tomahawk Motel, around 11 a.m., with no sense of how a visit with long-ago friends would go. They were happy to have me stop by, though, and after a simple but satisfying breakfast at Pippo’s, a small cafe on Cortez’s Main Street, I was up for whatever the day brought.

I got a text message to”Just come in the front door”, but spotting the couple in the back yard, I went around to greet them and we gathered for a while in the living room. Conversation ran the gamut from “Do you remember ___________ and ___________, to what the husband viewed as the breakdown of our country’s social order. I did not find any of it unpleasant, certainly, as we need to consider all points of view, in dealing with what IS going wrong. We prayed together, shared our experiences in the military (both of us are Vietnam -Era Army veterans), and I was offered a light, delicious lunch, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Heading steadily south and west, after bidding my friends farewell, and having no incidents similar to the back-up of yesterday, I drove clear to the small Dineh settlement of Cameron. It has a lovely old trading post, which has expanded into a fine-dining restaurant, hotel and gift shop. I felt the need for Green Chili Stew, which came with fry bread and honey-itself a perfect dessert. The Green Chili Stew helped brace my system for the unusually cold weather permeating the Mountain West. I got stuffed potato skins, as well, eating half as an appetizer and keeping half for tomorrow’s lunch-as a two-day work assignment awaits.

The best things in life are often simple-and predictable.

An Off-road Caravan

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November 14, 2022, Cortez, CO- As I approached the small community of Tonalea, AZ, en route to Monument Valley, a man in an orange vest held up a sign that said “Emergency ahead”. I came to a line of stopped traffic, and waited patiently for about twenty minutes, as it slowly inched forward, every so often.

Then, I noticed more and more people were taking an alternative, rough dirt route, which I figured would take us past the stalled traffic. So, once close enough to the entry to that of-road track, I joined the somewhat more steadily-moving queue. This brought back memories of visiting various traditional Dineh families, by taking similar tracks, up mesas or through sage-laden deserts.

Every so often,as the caravan inched along, a Navajo policeman or local volunteer would reassure us that we were on the right path. At one point, we encountered people coming the other way. Some of the caravaners opted to go up a somewhat steep bank of soft sand. That did not work for Sportage, so the oncoming vehicles backed up, until the five vehicles behind me, and I, had passed through.

When we got to a gravel church access road, 5 miles along and an hour later, the emergency had cleared and we were all back on the highway. Sportage was no worse for the wear, and I got to Monument Valley around 3:15, which allowed for a short, but satisfying stop near The Mittens, and other nearby formations. It was still a bit nippy, so a short visit was all that I was up for, anyway.

Here are some scenes from that stop.

Sentinel Mesa, west of The Mittens
West Mitten
East Mitten and Elephant Butte
Spearhead Mesa
The Mittens and Elephant Butte

The upshot is that I will surely return at some point in the relatively near future, to hike Navajo Trail, which goes near various of the formations.

Duty called, though, and as the saying goes “Responsibility never takes a vacation.” I delivered a box of Baha’i materials to a Dineh friend, in Aneth, about an hour east of Monument Valley, then stopped for the night at Tomahawk Inn, in this Four Corners hub, so as to have the WiFi needed to host a Zoom meeting. Life, even with challenges such as the off-road experience is very sweet.

Healing Energy

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November 13, 2022- I felt some change-of-seasonsitis coming on, last night, so I did what I always do in such cases. I took a spoonful of elderberry syrup and crawled underneath a bundle of covers. The covers helped me sweat whatever it was out. In turn, this allowed me to attend breakfast at the Legion Post, host a Zoom call and join another, work out at Planet Fitness and enjoy a fine meal with my Hiking Buddy.

It’s been worse, in the past. Some years, change-of-seasonitis kept me in bed, for 24 hours. If it were COVID, I’d probably be in bed for a week to ten days. So far, though, that hasn’t happened. Having O+ Blood may be responsible for that good fortune, though that immunity may be an old wives’ tale.

Mostly, though, I credit healing energy for the relatively good track record. Part of it comes from doing devotions every day and the other part comes from acting on those devotions. We talked about that in the first Zoom meeting, this morning. Thanksgiving, gratitude, has to be sincere-not perfunctory, if one wishes to genuinely partake of what is good in life. This sincerity should be in place for everything from answering a daily “Good morning, have a nice day”, on social media to paying one’s fair share of taxes, when the time comes.

It also involves being patient and flexible-things which have attached themselves to me, over the past three decades or so. After all, everyone, in their own space, is facing challenges that have nothing to do with what anyone else is facing. So, we can all send out healing energy and adjust our schedules to help others, when the occasion merits.

I’m grateful for each person in my life, even if I can’t give certain people what they seem to want of me. I am appreciative of what they give to me.