The Round and Square of It

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October 9, 2019, Aneth, UT-

Any illusion that Native Americans are somehow all cut from the same cloth, or are otherwise a uniform group, was hopefully dispelled, some tome ago.  This is as true, with regard to various aspects of culture, including architecture, as it is to language and  physical appearance- just as it is with people of any large subgrouping.

Hovenweep, a Paiute name meaning “Deserted Valley”, is the site of a large number of mud brick structures, both atop and just below the rim of, Cahone Mesa, in southeast Utah-about 15 miles northwest of this small Dineh settlement.

I last visited this area in 1979, about a month after summer  break began.  There has been an expansion of the National Monument since that time.  For this visit, though, I focused on the Main, or Square Tower, Group of structures.  Outlying ruins will be the focus of a future visit.

The trail around the Main Group is 2 miles long.  The terrain is similar to that of Natural Bridges and other nearby canyons.  A short walk across the table of Cahone Mesa leads to a short, but rugged, canyon crossing, then around to Twin Towers and the Square Tower triad, before snaking back towards the Visitor Center.

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As you will see, the Puebloan architects variously used square corners and round construction, depending on the function of the building.  Squared structures appear to be more for dwellings and the rounded buildings either as kivas or as observation towers of some sort.

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The descent and ascent of Little Ruin Canyon is the most rugged part of the hike around Square Tower Group.  I would rate it as moderate, in difficulty.

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A small heart-shaped rock is visible, towards the rear of this small cavelet.

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Remains of several small homes, on the mesa top, precede one’s arrival at Twin Towers.

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As I approached Twin Towers, a girl of about twelve passed by me, cheerfully in her own experience of the area.  Her grandparents called her back, not so much out of fear, as to ask her to carefully pull a discarded plastic water bottle out of this crevice!  She gingerly did as asked, and had no trouble getting out of the fissure.

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Here are the remnants of Twin Towers.

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Just a few paces from the round towers is another rectangular tower, likely an early apartment dwelling.

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There were several people at Square Tower, as I approached, so care was taken to honour each one’s quiet investigation of this central area of Hovenweep.

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Checkdam is a building where the caretaker of an earthen dam spent his duty hours.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These are the structures of Hovenweep House.

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Square Tower is in the midst of the main kivas.

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Below, is a small single family dwelling.

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This is Eroded Boulder House, an example of the effects of the climate change of that era (1200-1300 A.D.)

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There are four areas of Hovenweep National Monument that are accessible by high-clearance vehicles.  One of these days, I will get to those outliers.

Today, though, I had two other visits to make.  I headed out of Hovenweep and made it to this oil and gas-producing community, in Utah’s southeast corner.  Here, I visited for about 1 1/2 hours, with two Dineh sisters, who are caretakers of this small Baha’i Center.  Members of our Faith have lived in Aneth for about fifty years.

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After visiting with the ladies, I am headed to The Farm Bistro, in Cortez, for an early dinner,  then will likely drive back to Prescott.  It’s been a fascinating Fall Break!

Growing My Vision-Part 1

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October 5, 2019-

At our Baha’i Unit Convention, this morning, I spotted a sign on the host’s chalkboard, with the message, “Build Vision”.  One of the constant mantras of my childhood was that we each had to see ourselves in five years, ten years, etc.

Most of us have thought of this, to the extent we think of it at all, in terms of education, career, size of family, etc.  I did all that, and now, as my formal career has little more than a year to run, albeit as a part-time substitute teacher, my vision is changing tack.

It’s always been natural, even impulsive, for me to take in the world, in my planning or visualizing.  Often, I have been chastised, for being too global.  I think the point was for me to be more present, in the here and now.  My head has made great strides, in that regard-and my focus is sharper, in the past dozen years, than it was long ago.  A good part of that came with being a caretaker. There is, as is said in such challenging environments as, say, the Alaskan Bush, the fact that “Ignorance, distraction and stupidity are the three Princes of Death”.

There is much that I have left to do, so keeping my broader vision global, whilst maintaining a sharp focus on what’s close at hand, has presented itself, with a welcome intensity.  If I slip, I know there are those among my faithful readers, not to mention, real time friends and family, who won’t hesitate to blow the whistle.

That is the supreme comfort.

Days of Heaven

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June 2, 2019, Bellemont-

The past few days have seen confirmation of my path, this summer.   The last minute invitation to an event by Global Stilt Alliance, entitled Congress: The Legislation, brought me to Arcosanti, normally a place I visit in Autumn, on Friday evening.

A performance of young stilt artists, accented by two spoken word performers, drove home the point that we need to move beyond solving our problems through separation and the building of walls.

Yesterday, I felt the sadness of some who have bonded deeply with me, when it was time to let my friends at the Farmer’s Market know I would not be back there until August 3. This gave me another perspective on the occasional objections to my wanderings, from some of my fellows in Faith.

Saturday evening, though, did accomplish the laying of a foundation for regular meetings of a group of spiritual tutors.  We had a fruitful discussion and sharing of expectations and concerns for the practice of our tutoring activities.

Today, I was greatly pleased to see a young Navy veteran join our breakfast group, at American Legion Post 6.  The perspectives and ideas of the newest generation of military veterans are long overdue for inclusion in service organizations.

This afternoon and evening, I spent the first of several days at this Baha’i retreat property, west of Flagstaff.  Clearing brush from the area took about ninety minutes.  Then came an evening of quiet reflection and meditation.  Arriving at a more present state of mind is one of the sweetest results of the relative isolation I enjoy this evening.  Thinking over a couple of minor faux pas, which occurred yesterday evening and this night, during routine dinner outings, I see things more form the perspective of those inconvenienced.  The solution lies in my own heightened awareness, even when somewhat fatigued.

Seven of the next eight days will be spent preparing for, and assisting with, a camp for middle school-aged youth.  I look forward to continuing my own reflections and meditation during this time, as well.

Their New Beginning

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March 10, 2019, Guangju-

This city was once best known as place of uprising- against a second-level military regime, in the Spring of 1980.  Although the uprising was initially quashed, its target, President Chun Doo-hwan, never gained the level of power and stability he wanted, and eventually stepped down, on the last day of 1988.

Today, Guang-joo is a more peaceful place and was the scene of the consecration of the marriage of Aram Boivin and Yunhee Shin, my son and daughter-in-law.  Now they have established themselves as  a full-fledged unit.  At the nicely-appointed Sangmoo Ritz Wedding Hall, a reverent blend of Baha’i scripture and tasteful musical selections made for a lovely hour-long ceremony, cementing what was set in motion with their civil wedding, last November in Guam, which, being an American Territory, provided the U.S. marriage license that will just make things easier, when it comes time for them to return to the U.S.

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I gave a short speech, as father of the groom, but otherwise submitted to the instructions of the wedding planner, photographer and master of ceremonies,  I did get in a few photographs, prior to the ceremony.

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The above has Yunhee’s name written in Hangul (Korean script), with her family name first, then her given name.  The names of us parents are written above.

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The flower arrangements are from well-wishers. Below are random photos of Yunhee and Aram, in the lobby of the wedding hall.

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Another milestone has passed, yet with it, the duties of a father-in-law, and God willing, those of a grandparent, will fall to me. My family has now been extended across the Pacific and I have a feeling the blessings far outweigh the burdens.  We will enjoy the rest of this fine week together- tomorrow with Yunhee’s parents and the remainder of the week, divided between Busan and Jeju, the place of Aram’s birth and a well-established resort community.

Back On Track

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February 25, 2019-

Today is the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, which belong to none of our nineteen spiritual calendar months , of nineteen days.  It is a time of  special service activities, some gift giving and group celebrations.  In regular Gregorian years, like this one, the period consists of four days, and in Leap Years, five days.

Today also found us back at work, continuing on with the revised program.  Things went smoothly.  The weather is improving, again, and our little team is getting stronger, as small problems get resolved, in a congenial manner, before they become big issues.

Yesterday, part of my time was spent dealing with individual snow-disposal issues,  This evening found another matter with which to assist:  A returning traveler needed to have her car cleared, before she got back on the shuttle from Phoenix-so, Ayyam-i-Ha service activity # 1 was accomplished.

I stopped by Ms. Natural’s, and finally met the owner’s husband-on his own way back to work.  The establishment will be a key part of my own Healthy Spring-in essence, a continuation of the regimen I am promised when I visit Korea.

The Light of Abiding Love

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November 4, 2018, Prescott-

Friday night, I headed down to Phoenix, and spent time with several old friends, at the Baha’i Center.  The occasion was a Launch Party Tour finale for  the latest album by a talented young artist, named Colby Jeffers, a rapper with a strong spiritual message.

One of the themes he raised was the importance, the abiding bond, with his wife, M.  They have been present for one another, for several years now, and the love is only getting deeper.

I saw several examples of the light of abiding love, that night, and over the weekend.  Another young couple showed both the firmness of their bond, by holding one another, at moments when Colby’s words hit just the right tone of everlasting love, then having the strength to go about their individual tasks of the evening, knowing that each would be there for the other, when needed.

Penny and I were like that, so my heart is always warmed by a man who takes good care of his beautiful wife-and vice versa.  I feel much the same towards couples who are not quite married, but who are committed to one another.  Having so many friends who are at one point on the commitment continuum, or another, their ties generate light in the world, and I feel reassured.

This was further cemented today, when I attended an honorarium, at a lovely equestrian ranch northwest of here, and saw a couple being honoured, for their service to the Prescott community.  They have suffered unimaginable losses, these past two years, and while I am not her favourite person, by any stretch, I feel very much appreciative of both all they have done and for the depth of their suffering.  Their light shines, intensely, through all the shadows.

Marriage is an affirmation of light, when it is real.

Adventures in Hobbling

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October 18, 2018, Prescott-

It was bound to happen, sooner or later.  My left knee popped, as I was walking back to our classroom from the school’s tennis court.  I wasn’t playing tennis, just helping a student put racket to ball and hit a fence.  The pop happened when I walked down a concrete stair that I had used several times.  I didn’t fall, and made it first to a bench, then to the classroom and a chair.

From there, the school nurse iced the knee, had crutches brought to me and I made an appointment with Urgent Care.  X-rays showed no bone loss, but slight arthritis (which I think is being kept at bay by various essential oils).  DRINK MORE WATER!  I am wearing a knee brace and using the crutches, to pamper this vital friend of mine, for as long as needed.

The Universe chooses unusual ways to tell me when a change is needed.  When the brakes on the KIA Optima had been partially severed, it took the botched attempt to stop at a rural intersection, at which I had stopped countless times, and a roll into a relatively benign ditch, to get a different car.  That Nissan Altima, itself, had a shelf life of little over a year, coming to a final halt in Newtown, CT-at a service station close to Danbury, from where my Hyundai Elantra was procured.

I needed a new computer, but had no funds to buy it: Piece of celestial cake- thieves picked it out, from underneath two full backpacks, whilst I was walking in the vicinity of McGill University, in Montreal.

Now, that I have been cautioned, several times, to slow down and cut back, comes the treatment and healing of the left knee.  Righty will have to work harder for a few days, and I am applying to myself, what Penny knew and did for the three years she was on crutches or used a cane.  I will get physical therapy, next week and for as long as it takes to bring both knees back in synchronicity with each other.

I am breaking down every physical activity to its smallest steps, giving each very focused attention.  That was something that had been brought up, several times, during the veritable Boot Camp in which I found myself, for much of last week.  Getting out of bed, I will reach for the crutches, tomorrow and maybe for days afterward.  Showering will have to be done with the brace on. Dressing will be done sitting down. I will scoot myself around the apartment, ever so carefully, sitting in my office chair.  I will park behind other people’s cars, when attending Baha’i meetings, the next few days, instead of being over-solicitous and taking a spot further away.  My co-workers may very well not see me, tomorrow.  It’ll depend on how useful I think I might be.

There will be a tomorrow, though, and I will be back on my feet- but in a prudent way, following the doctor’s instructions to the letter. Penny showed the way to dealing with any injury and others have shown the way to full recovery from theirs.   So will go this hobbler.

 

The Flow of Consciousness River

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October 6, 2018, Prescott-

Today, and for the eight days that follow, I will be on Fall Break from my place of work.  As ever, much of this break will be spent in service (today, tomorrow and Monday), dealing with the details of life (Tuesday) and focused travel (Wednesday-next Sunday).

I woke this morning, in a focused, but rather detached state.  Going through the regular grooming routine and dealing with news of the outside (more of the same back-and-forth, between right and left; the stock market, once again, dealing with good economic news by imagining future bad stuff; the Navajo Nation dealing with yet another collapse of its western lifeline road).

Nothing earthshaking has happened in my little world, overnight, and I have much to get done in the next hour, before a long, freely-chosen, day of service activities, so I will be brief about this:  I am now in a very detached, almost surreal state of consciousness. No substances have been involved, I just woke up this way and am still in a very aware, but unusually calm, state of being.

This will work in my favour, through a Baha’i gathering, two hours hence and the Convergence at Arcosanti, where I am serving for the second year, at a gathering of various groups to ponder and discuss the direction of society.  Hopefully, there will be no disruption of a meditation session, which I hope to join. Last year’s session was obliterated by a loud and pushy group, who represented the antithesis of meditation.

I will have more to say, in snippets, over the next few days, but will be mostly offline, until Monday night.

Love to all.

The 2018 Road, Day 34: The Door Never Closes

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June 28, 2018, Salisbury, NC-

I first encountered W, in 2002, when he arrived in Phoenix, from his native Liberia.  At that time, he was recovering from a severe injury and was one of thousands of refugees from his then-war torn homeland.  He had been a journalist, writing for Monrovia’s daily newspaper, when his injuries occurred.

Like more than a few Africans living in Phoenix, he became a trusted friend and we have maintained a correspondence, ever since.  He has left Arizona and is now comfortably settled in a simple home, in this pleasant city of the Piedmont.  Salisbury is about an hour northeast of Charlotte, and seems to not have, as yet, become saddled with major urban sprawl.

I woke to a calm morning, in Timmonsville, about two hours further southeast of here.  As I suspected, there is an unnamed breakfast and lunch counter, inside the Mobil Station.  I walked across the street and discovered The Hot Plate- more than the microwave stand I had suspected would be there.  Instead, an effusive man of about 35 and a shy girl, who seemed to be about 15, were behind a full-service breakfast & lunch counter.  The man took my order and both set to work, he on the sausage and the girl on the eggs and pancakes.  She brought a fabulous breakfast plate to my small table, in eight minutes’ time.  Several other people- mostly customers, plus two women who seemed to have some role in running the show, came in and out during my leisurely breakfast.   After paying my bill, and giving the bemused girl a healthy tip, I reflected that places like The Hot Plate are what keep small-town America connected with the open road.  I would go in there again, were I to find myself in Timmonsville-or, as this sign would have it, in

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I headed, in earnest, towards Salisbury, and arrived at W’s place in a couple of hours.  There, a comfortable bed for the night, and a steaming pot of Liberian pork stew, with heaping portions of rice, awaited.  African hospitality is second to none-even in the simplest of homes.

On the way there, I picked up a few more gift items, as a few families in the small town of Mc Bee, SC were holding a fund-raiser and the bake sale was too good to pass up.  Mc Bee is also notable for this:

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Salisbury has several solid Federal period and Beaux  Arts era architectural gems.  I stopped to note  a few of these, whilst driving towards W’s apartment.

Perhaps most prominent, from the east, is the Bell Tower of First Presbyterian Church.

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Driving westward, St. John’s Lutheran Church becomes equally impressive.

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In Salisbury’s Veteran’s Cemetery, this memorial to World War II dead is at the western gate to the grounds.

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This is the old Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, west of the cemetery.

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I found a most happy W, waiting outside his apartment complex.  It’s been a while since he had any visitors from out of town.

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Here is a view of the park, down the street from his complex.

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After my hearty lunch of stew and rice, W and I walked to a Walgreen’s where I could get a spare dental care kit, as mine was possibly lost. I also got a spare razor and blades, while W talked of his joyful walks along Salisbury’s main commercial street.  He keeps away from the Confederate Memorial that greets the traveler coming in from the East.  Otherwise, he has walked all over the town, making friends as he goes.

I found, however, that there was little evidence of racial tension here, as W’s  White cross street neighbours were quite cordial, and there was plenty of friendly interaction during my own downtown visit.

Rowan County Courthouse is an impressive Federal Era structure.  This block celebrates George Washington’s visit here, following the American Revolution.

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The same detail has kept the County Administration Building in good repair, for over 150 years.

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Away from downtown, the west and south sides feature several older gems.  Below, is Chambers House, from the Revolutionary Period.

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Here is another view of the Bell Tower, as it is near Chambers House.

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This tiny salt box house was the Henderson Law Office, built in 1796.

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I spent a few moments checking out a south side block, from whence there is another fine view of the Bell Tower.

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Here is a three-part look at the south side’s finest mural, entitled “Crossroads-Past Into Present”.  It shows Salisbury life, circa 1900 and was completed in 2001.  The artists are Cynvia Rankin, Earle Kluttz and Raines Thompson.  Ms. Rankin was the primary artist on this project, commissioned by  Rowan Art Guild.

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W and I spent a great deal of time just talking of life in Arizona, as compared to North Carolina.  The latter is certainly a less frenetic and cheaper place to live, by and large.  He also told me much about Liberia, and his journalistic experience during the country’s Civil War.  We watched a lengthy Baha’i video, as well.  Our conversation tended to be more far ranging than those we’ve had over the phone. W speaks at a fast clip, so line of sight works better for me, in understanding him.

It has been another relaxing day, though, knowing I am in a place of friendship.

NEXT:  Across the Great Smokies, to Crossville

 

Just Because…

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July 23, 2108, Prescott-

Of course, my accounts of my travels will continue, later today.  My mind was roiling, earlier this morning, with a feeling that someone was silently accusing me of prejudice, for not settling into another relationship, for not ending my widowhood.  Penny appeared to me afterward, in my mind’s eye, and told me:

“You love, intensely.

Just because you have no romantic feelings for anyone in your present Baha’i community does not make you callous, unfeeling, prejudiced.

You are there for each person, helping each as needed.

That does not require you to fit into a niche.

You love, intensely

Just because you have a strong friendship with a woman who is of entirely different mindset, in terms of Faith, does not mean you are disloyal to Baha’u’llah.

Conversely, as I’ve told you before, you and she are steadfast friends, no more, no less. You would gladly see her find someone who will cherish her, forever.

You love, intensely.

You see your younger co-workers as if they were your own daughters.  Their struggles are your own and you help them where they need help, taking nothing from their dignity.

You love, intensely.

Each day, whether on the road or at what you call Home Base, the needs, large and small, of women, men and children who cross your path have as much urgency as your own.

Just because some are, occasionally, put off by what they see as your shortcomings or errors, does not mean you are unworthy of respect.  They have their own burdens.

Carry on, my love.  As time continues, your true destiny will keep on unfolding.  You have miles to go.”

With that, my angst subsided.