There Is Perfection, In A Day

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October 8, 2017, Prescott-

I am, in a manner of speaking,

taking the day off.

There was breakfast at the Legion,

this morning,

followed by laundry,

a phone conversation about

spiritual study, and

clearing this trusty laptop,

of old downloads.

It’s mid-afternoon

and the air is clear,

so I will, shortly,

head for a local trail

and indulge my legs,

my knees

and my back,

which have had

Planet Fitness,

the back yard,

the school gym and track

and little else,

to engage them,

these past few months.

Then, I will finish

my clearing the back yard

and pamper my back,

at Planet Fitness.

Be back, soon.

 

Walking in Place

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September 23, 2017,Prescott- 

Several readers have, over the years, expressed a preference for my travel posts.  While I greatly enjoy visiting places old and new, there has been an increase in responsibilities and commitments, hereabouts, since my return from the East Coast, at the end of July.  Not the least of these is my work with autistic teens, a veritable payback to all who have guided me, over the past several decades.  There are also two major public events here in town, in October:  Hope Fest (October 14), a celebration of faith, which I will be assisting for the third consecutive year and, a week later, the Festival of Light and Unity- commemorating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 22.  As the Baha’i calendar is a lunar construct, the Birth of His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), is observed the day prior to that of Baha’u’llah.  This year marks 198 years, since al-Bab was born and we will observe that event, as well, on October 21.

My friendships being wide-ranging these days, several events tend to converge on given days. So, today, largely devoted to Prescott Stand Down, an event dedicated to serving homeless veterans in our community, took up much of the day.  I was later able to make further progress on clearing my backyard and 3-4 more hours of concerted effort ought to get the job completed, for this year.  Tomorrow, two events at the American Legion, two Baha’i activities and an hour or two helping a good friend move, will keep me honest and productive.  This coming week, there is a gathering, of one sort or another, every night.  Looking ahead to October 14, that day will see me at two other events, in addition to Hope Fest.  Life is never dull.

With regard to travel, Fall Break will be here, in two weeks.  I am in between going to Joshua Tree and Lake Cachuma, California, or down to Superior, Globe and over to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, for 4-5 days (in which case, the California trip gets done over an extended Presidents’ Day weekend). My spirit guides will advise me, on this matter, as with so many others.

Yes, I do get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as well as a 30-minute power nap, most afternoons.  Stay tuned.

Rust Removal

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November 9, 2016, Prescott-  This past summer, en route to visiting my family in Massachusetts, I stopped to visit a progressive friend, in Indianapolis, on July 5.  We caught up on events of the past few years, and agreed that life was taking a turn for the better, for a good many people who had previously been living on the edge of society, though there was lots of work still to be done.

Five hours later, I stopped for dinner, in Zanesville, OH, in the foothills east of Columbus.  As I took a drive through the town, my heart was breaking.  There is much about the “Rust Belt”, from Pittsburgh and Buffalo to St. Louis and Milwaukee, that deserves this nation’s gratitude and support.  This is an area which once kept our country moving, during the years of war, and in times of past economic despair, the Midwest was where our national economy got a reboot.

Zanesville presented a picture of a crumbling, somewhat boarded-up mini-version of Detroit, or of Buffalo at the turn of this century.  Its plight is, no doubt, replicated throughout the region.  The place needs believers.

In the past few weeks, the election cycle, just ended, featured one candidate insulting a wide variety of target groups.  Another candidate used the word “deplorable” to identify a large group of other people.  Both candidates claimed to care for those left behind by the nascent economic recovery.  Now, one of them has to make good on his rhetoric.

Human beings are not deplorable.  Behaviors and attitudes can be.  One such attitude is the view that people of colour are less than fully human.  Another holds that people who live in gender confusion, or are oriented differently, in terms of sexuality, need to be converted to a more conventional sexual identity.   A third, equally unfortunate, attitude holds that it is perfectly okay to leave uneducated, conservative people of European descent, in the rubbish heap of history.

My answer is :  None of the above is okay.  We saw what happened, twice, when the first two mindsets were challenged by a vocal electorate.  Last night, we saw what happened when the third mindset got its comeuppance.  There is, simply put, one overall solution:  Re-establishing community.    The White people of small towns and farms are not, inherently, the enemies of African-Americans, LGBT people, or Latinos.  The disconnect comes from not getting to know each other, and from relying on third parties to make each other’s acquaintance, and resume the practice of active listening.

I have friends across the political spectrum, and have made a point of traveling widely in the Midwest and South, for the very reason that every community is worthy of at least acquaintance.  Ignorance of others only leads to bloodshed.  History bears this out.

Make no mistake:  I will not abide an American Kristelnacht, or Jacobin tyranny, without speaking out and acting forcefully, if nonviolently.  The American Legion, to which I belong, vows to oppose tyranny of “both the classes and the masses.”  The first is outmoded and unnecessary.  The second needs to know that all its members are important.  “The People” refers to all human beings.

It’s time to scrape the rust off our souls, as well as off the factory towns of the North.

 

Last Weekend, and This

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October 8, 2016, Chula Vista-  It was a weekend of talk about change, and talk about commitments.  On October 1, a Baha’i Unit Convention was held in Flagstaff, and a similar gathering took place the following day, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning, in tiny Burntwater, AZ, about 10 miles north of Sanders, along Interstate 40.

At these gatherings, we choose a person to represent our communities at the U.S. National Convention, in the Chicago area, the following May.  This is an important function, yet what is more important is that we are addressing the spiritual condition of our communities.  It is not a bland spouting of platitudes, and there are sharp opinions voiced, during the consultation.  Yet what we are, regardless of opinions, is respectful of one another’s value.  There is no one, among the gathered friends, who is discounted or seen as lacking value.  The goal, for each of us, is to extend this valuing to the entire community, not just committed members of the Baha’i Faith.

After an intense week at work, in which these principles of unity were put to the test, and which by the grace of God, I largely maintained progress,  I headed out to my son’s place, in this southern suburb of America’s Hometown.   He’s a bit laid up, from a fracture  of one of his left foot’s metatarsals.  So, my entire function, these five days in California is to help with his needs.  My usual meanderings up the coast will need to wait until the week after Christmas.

I set out from Prescott, last night, after a particularly strenuous day and a lengthy, soothing dinner at the American Legion Post.  The route this time took me to a very restful night at an economical motel in Blythe, then a drive through the Colorado Desert, through Brawley, to El Centro and over the Laguna Mountains to the coast.

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A 20th Century cowboy, circa 1992, downtown Brawley, CA

The weekend is off to a fairly restful start, and we can tend to tasks related to Aram’s healing, on Monday and Tuesday.

 

Highway 50: Loneliness Is All In The Mind

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June 2, 2016, Ely-  Sitting in the spare, but comfortable Silver State Restaurant, in this little anchor-town of the White Pine country of eastern Nevada, I had a bit of time to reflect on “America’s loneliest highway”.
I got on U.S. Highway 50,  in the eastern edge of Carson City, around 10:30 this morning, saying goodbye to my Baha’i sister, and her new home across town.  Gradually, the wonders of the Silver State itself unfolded:  The exit to Virginia City, the Comstock Lode historic site of Dayton, and the small commercial hub of Fallon, which serves as the western anchor of the so-called Lonely Road.

Fallon was rather quiet, on this first of many hot days to come.  It did have its share of business, though, and some of that filtered in to Susie’s BBQ, where I stopped for lunch.

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Susie’s BBQ, Fallon, NV

I opted for brisket, as it was not really a sausage kind of day.  A Big Heat has taken the West under its wing, probably for the next seven or eight weeks, so we move, eat and adjust accordingly.

On my last ride across Highway 50, in 1980, my driver pointed out an expanse of salt flat, a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan.  This was a massive body of water, stretching from the Sierra Navada to the Toiyabe Range.  Its remnants include the much smaller Lake Lahontan, east of Fallon, plus Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and Pyramid Lake.  I did not, given the nature of my visit, go to any of the three western lakes, and there is intensive road work around the present Lake Lahontan.  Thus, here are some surrealist, filtered scenes of the Carson Lake Salt Flats.

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Notice there are some graffiti, inscribed by local lovebirds and various passers-by, who find romance in the desolation.

My next focus was on the Toiyabe Range, one of three mountain ranges that stretch north to south, in central Nevada.  The Toiyabe and White Pine mountains, like the Sierra Nevada, are still somewhat snow- packed on their summits and high ridges.

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Toiyabe Range, central Nevada

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Toiyabe Range, Central Nevada

Austin is one of those little towns that used to be a link on the Pony Express, as well as where silver, lead and zinc were mined.  Silver still can be found, here and there. Lead being largely out of favour these days, for health concerns, is cause for several closed and shuttered mines.  The few folks who live here tend to be flinty-eyed towards anyone wearing shorts and a camera, but I find places like Austin intriguing, nonetheless.

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Main Street, Austin, NV

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St. Augustine’s Church, Austin, NV

The back streets have their appeal, as well.  Virginia Street alludes to the Mother Lode.

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Lander County Courthouse, Austin, NV

Back on Main Street, the courthouse and visitor center(closed at the time) give Austin a bit of gravitas.

The walls in back of the main properties were built to last, with land slides always being in the back of people’s minds.

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Retaining wall, behind Courthouse, Austin, NV

The old city hall was taken over by the American Legion, as John F. Hiskey Post 45, in 1947.

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Old City Hall, Austin, NV

Crowning the heights above Austin is Stokes Castle.  Anson  Phelps Stokes, The Elder, was an industrialist and entrpreneur in the late-19th Century.  He built the edifice as a summer “tower”, but only actually used it for two months, in 1897.  After that, the Stokes family abandoned the place.  Austin’s citizens have fenced the structure off, and it is indeed unsafe to enter.  It remains, though, as a testament to the town’s glory days.

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Stokes Castle, Austin, NV

An hour or so east of Austin lies Eureka, where people smiled, flashed peace signs and seemed quite relaxed, as their work day was coming to an end.

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Eureka Opera House, Eureka, NV

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Eureka County Courthouse, Eureka, NV

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A westward look down Main Street, Eureka, NV

I had miles to go, before I slept, so on east it was, to Ely, NV, a more contemporarily- built, commercial hub, at the end of the “Loneliest Road”.  I had dinner at the aforementioned Silver State Restaurant, then gave my camera a rest- until I came to the White Pine Range.  These mountains are named for the light-coloured wood of the local evergreens.

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White Pine forest, south of Ely, NV

Wheeler Peak, not to be confused with the mountain of the same name that is New Mexico’s highest peak, is the crown of the White Pines, and second only to Boundary Peak, (in western Nevada), in terms of high points in the state.

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Wheeler Peak, White Pine Range, south of Ely, NV

Thus, as you can see, loneliness is a definite state of mind.

NEXT UP:  Pioche, Panaca and the amazement of Cathedral Gorge

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 345: Best Laid Plans

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November 8, 2015, Prescott- I started today by attending breakfast at the American Legion Post, a standard for me on Sunday mornings, over the past four years.  My usual table mate and conversation buddy was not there, due to illness, but there were several others at table, who were fine company.  Many people are ill, at present.  My phone had several messages, pertaining to a paternal aunt who is chronically ill.  Fortunately, she is bouncing back.

Afterwards, I joined a reflection and planning meeting of our local Baha’i community, and made some solid plans for the next three months.  Several people made their needs and wishes known, and we will do our best, as a wider community, to go forward together.  The coordinator plans well, so the meeting kept flowing.  Our next three months ought to be full, and fulfilling.

My energy level was a bit down, after yesterday, so I chose to do laundry, and little else, after the meeting.  Change of seasons, and of temperature, zaps me for a day or two, and early to bed- for a few nights- will make things right again.  My plan to hike Segment 7, of the Prescott Circle Trail, will be brought to fruition next Saturday- if the weather holds.

The best laid plans have to be as flexible as all else in the universe.

The Road to 65, Mile 54: Who Serves Whom?

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January 21, 2015, Prescott-  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, as many of you know.  The Baha’i concept of service is one of humility and reverence for the human spirit.  It was modeled by the eldest son of our Faith’s Founder, Baha’u’llah.  This eldest son is known to posterity by His title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  The title is Arabic, and translates as “Servant of the Light”, in English.  Although ‘Abdu’l-Baha was, and is, revered by all Baha’is, in His lifetime, He walked a humble path of service to others.  For example, He organized and saw the establishment of a series of storehouses in the Galilee, during and immediately after World War I.  He visited North America and Europe, during the period, 1911-13, and would often prepare meals for His visitors, in the course of His travels.

I will have more to say about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in later posts.  The above anecdotes, though, form the backdrop for my own view of what public service is.  The person working with the public is in a position of trust.  The teacher is responsible for the education, welfare and safety of all students with whom she comes in contact, during the day.  The bus driver, both school and public transit, is responsible for the safe transport of paying and subsidized riders, for the duration of their travel in his vehicle, as well as safe ingress and egress.  The health care worker, be he or she a physician, nurse, pharmacist or medical technician, is responsible for the well-being of any patient in a care situation, within his or her purview.

Most such public servants know these responsibilities, and take them to heart.  So, too, there are a large number of people serving in the social welfare field who do their jobs with the best interests of their clients in mind.  There are, unfortunately, a disconcerting number who view the people coming to their offices as wards, as people to be pushed around, browbeaten and treated in an undignified manner- because they are down on their luck.

It’s time to take the “Kick Me” signs off.  I received word today, from a credible source, that one of the local offices purporting to help veterans is engaging in browbeating and intimidating the homeless, and refusing service to those who stand up for themselves in a respectful manner.  It is past time for the veterans of our Armed Forces to be treated as full human beings, and not just in the VA Hospitals, where  slow, but considerable, progress is being made in that regard.  Anyone who hangs out their shingle as a Veterans’ Resource Center has no business refusing service to someone for not going along with psychological gamesmanship, or not wanting to indulge a caseworker’s quirky behaviour, or for just being homeless.

I mention all this because I am tired. I am sick to death of the patronizing, bullying, gamesmanship and dereliction of duty that I have witnessed from various government officials, both elected and appointed, at the Federal, state and municipal levels, over the past eight years.  From the hired thugs who threatened to beat a man for stopping to eat an apple, on a sidewalk in Washington, in 2007, to a mayor and  several councilmen of a small city, who personalized a conflict with a constituent, over the past year or so, there is an increasing air of arrogance, and “Feed my ego” seems the name of the game.

I serve in a few capacities.  I am not the greatest Chaplain the American Legion has ever seen, and at least one member of the Auxiliary can’t wait to see me go, but I approach my fellow members in a spirit of service.   I take  any posting as a Substitute Teacher seriously, and am well-regarded by students and colleagues, precisely because their well-being and quality experiences trump any desire I might have to be revered or obeyed. I take any work I do with the Red Cross seriously, or any recommendations I make to people, regarding use of Essential Oils, because there are lives and healthful situations at stake.  Because of the way I was raised, ego gratification is not an option.

It ought not be an option for anyone in public service.