Reading List and A Full Plate

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January 7, 2017, Prescott- 

My best friend and I had a wide-ranging conversation, yesterday, about  inner peace, among other things.  She suffered a loss, recently, and the subject arose about those who blame others for their pain and suffering.  Neither she nor I blame anyone but ourselves, if things go sideways in our lives.  I love her dearly, but if she bid me farewell tomorrow, I would go on, and figure it wasn’t meant to be, for longer than it was.  On the other hand, I am glad for every minute of our friendship, and will treat her like royalty, as long as it lasts.

Those of us who are blessed by the Universe tend to have a mighty full plate.  I was informed today about another responsibility that my fellow Baha’is would like me to assume.  My financial education continues, work resumes tomorrow and I still like to read as many of  the posts on my Reader, as humanly possible.    Exercise remains important. I will also make time for M, when she needs me. So, the schedule remains, 4:30 AM-10 PM, 6 days a week, and a “sleep-in” until 5:30, on Sunday.

My winter reading list is also present, to fill in the “gaps” in my day:  “Cash Flow Quadrant”, by Robert Kiyosaki; “Facing Grief With Eyes Wide Open”, by Medea Bavarella Chechik; “Tribe”, by Sebastian Junger; “Winter of the World”, by Ken Follett; “Footloose in America”, by Bud Kenny; “The Elegant Universe”, by Brian Greene.  That should last until March 21, or 31.

We were talking, at a meeting today, in Phoenix, about how people often assume the young and the old have lots of time on their hands.  I can’t speak for the kids, but there is joy for me, in choosing to maintain a full schedule.

Amen To All That

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May 17, 2016, Prescott- Things went better at work today, as I knew they would.  Contrition replaced stridency, and my supervisor announced, at the start of the day, that no one would be allowed to talk politics in class.

My son had a successful laser eye treatment, this morning, and is now at his home, enjoying renewed clarity of vision.  We had a fine conversation, this evening, as usual. He is proactive with his personal affairs, so I feel a firm foundation was set, both with our guidance and with our mistakes, from which he learned.

Preliminary job feelers have come out, regarding next academic year, from my current department.  It’s nice to be again making a good impression.  I would be primarily responsible for helping a young autistic man, with academics and life skills, and, by extension, working with others who need academic assistance.  The process should take not much more than a week.

I have been admonished by some who feel I am too busy.  Well, there is always a lot going on, but here I am with the free time to write, in clear-headed fashion.  There are end-of-year events, this week and next, along with a charity dinner for the family of a woman who died from childbirth complications.  I will need to get my vehicle serviced on Friday, and head to an old stomping ground, Keams Canyon, on Saturday, to support Baha’is who have moved there recently, at a devotional meeting they are having.  Then, once school is done, it’ll be time to help a friend in Reno move to Carson City.

Busy, somewhat, but feeling productive is a good thing, for me.

NEXT:  Another hike along Prescott Circle, this time in Granite Basin.

 

 

 

 

Adventine Hope

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December 12-13, Prescott- It seemed this weekend saw no end to meetings and gatherings.  Saturday dawned with the placing of wreaths on most of the grave sites at Prescott National Cemetery.  The event was part of Wreaths Across America, in which I have participated for the past four years, in honour of my late Uncle Carl, who was intensely active in Wreaths, when it first started, and remained so until his passing in 2010.  Snow made it interesting, but we’ve had a white ground cover every year, except last year.  The children who participate are a major reason for its success.

Yesterday afternoon, we Prescott Baha’is had our Spiritual Feast, a worship service held every nineteen calendar days, or so, which features devotions, consultation about the business of the community and a social gathering.  We have a good rapport with each other and the home-based gatherings add to a family feeling.

In the evening, I joined the staff of Mingus Springs, for their Christmas party, also held in a spacious home, with a lovely view of the valley below.  Exquisite food, raucous camaraderie and intelligent conversation on a variety of topics lit up the four hours we had together.  The party games were both wholesome and spirited-one involving a question and answer competition between two teams, and the other an unravel-the-ball-of-tape, which involved rolling a pair of dice, and getting a chance to peel back on one of two taped balls, which had small treats inside.  Rolling doubles was required, in order to have at the ball.  It got quite energetic, when two people rolled doubles at the same time, and we were down to one taped ball.  The evening ended with the usual White Elephant gifting.  I came away with Ben Goode’s “857 Habits of Annoying People”.  I’ve seen some his other books in various truck stop diners in the Southwest.

This morning, after such a frenetic day, saw me get up a bit more hesitantly than usual.  I got it together for a short meeting, first thing this morning, then went to a Legion gathering to honour one of our members who is going to California for a while.  Of course, there was yet another full buffet. The cooks of Yavapai County do supreme justice to our community meals!  Somehow, I am not packing on the weight, but it sure is fun being part of things.

Now I am just enjoying the quiet of my little place.  Someone asked me, last night, if I found it lonesome since my wife passed on.  There are such times, but in the presence of so many loving friends, I haven’t found them to be all that frequent.  Besides, she is taking good care of me, from the place beyond the veil.

I called my replacement teacher, this evening, and will meet with her, at the end of December.  In the meantime, the kids and I will finish up our quarterly business, and I will tie up loose ends, before heading off to Boston, at the end of the week.

The Road to 65, Mile 238: What Now?

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July 24, 2015, Prescott- I had little time, this morning, to ponder the title question, as there was an urgent service event taking place, from 9- 1.  About forty of us gathered in the assembly hall of United Methodist Church, to fill backpacks for students from grades K-12.  School supplies, as many are aware, are a major expense for households and we were fortunate to have over $ 1,000.00 worth, from backpacks to pencils, donated for distribution, both by individuals and companies.  In addition, several hundred books were donated, by various corporations.  Half the group were us Baha’is, which further gratified me.

It is a lovely season, here in central Arizona.  I will have some time, before school starts, to help where needed with the Red Cross and Yavapai County Angels.  These opportunities will, of course, be available during the year, as well, though I will be also about the business of replenishing my resources.

Some have gotten the notion that I am primarily just a guy who runs hither and thither, photographing people, places and things, visiting historical sites and hiking mountains, canyons and beaches.  That is part of who I am, but it can hardly stand alone, in anyone’s life.  Indeed, except for about a dozen close friends, most of the people I have met this summer will not give me much thought, and several, I may never see again.  That doesn’t make the experiences any less memorable.  I will treasure each day spent in Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska- just as I treasure each day here.

A friend spoke recently of “destination addiction.”  I remember, years ago, reading of a man from Italy, who had not been home in ten years, and had been so many places, with so little time to absorb each new experience, that he snapped, and was in the care of the Libyan National Police, spending his days staring into space, and mumbling.  Such a fate could not be more terrifying.

I will leave Yavapai County only once in August, to visit some long-lost friends in Hopi, an indigenous area about 100 miles northeast of Flagstaff.   Fall might afford some hiking opportunities, here and there- but not more than a day’s drive from base. The Christmas and New Year holidays will find me visiting family, but as an independent member of the brood.  I find I am altogether more settled, as many would expect, after four years of rather frenetic road trips and a European jaunt.

They have taught me, though, that I am a worthwhile person, that I can survive on my own, that I can make mistakes in my relationships with others, sometimes dreadful ones, and recover, with a major lesson learned.  I don’t need everyone’s approval, and there were a couple of people on the road, this summer, who made it clear that I was far from welcome to visit them. That was fine, because there were a vast number of others who were glad for my presence.  I take advantage of no one, and no one takes advantage of me.

The Road to 65, Mile 224: Light of the World

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July 10, 2015, Prescott- Today, we Baha’is observed the 165th anniversary of the Martyrdom of al-Bab.  On July 10, 1850, the Persian government, at the behest of powerful clerics, conducted the execution of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, given the title al-Bab “The Gate”, in Arabic.

Briefly, He was Forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Founder of our Faith.  Al-Bab challenged the orthodoxy of Islam, noting how far it had strayed from the Teachings of Muhammad.  He called for the purification of the human heart, as an essential prerequisite to the dawning of an Age, in which the human race would become unified, and would enjoy the Kingdom of God on Earth, as promised by Jesus the Christ.

This won Him the allegiance of thousands of Persians and Arabs, and the admiring notice of many Europeans.  It also won Him the enmity of those whose vested interests were threatened by such a call to change.

The execution did not proceed without a hitch.  Al-Bab warned his captors that He would not depart this life until He had completed certain matters, with his secretary.  They took Him out to the killing plaza, anyway, and He was joined by a young man, who insisted he be allowed to die, alongside al-Bab.  The firing squad commander, who was Christian, pleaded with al-Bab that he not be forced to complete the execution.

Al-Bab responded, “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”  Thus did it transpire, that the volleys were fired, and when the smoke had cleared, al-Bab and his devotee were found, not dead on the ground, but alive, and with al-Bab in a room with His secretary, completing His business!

Once this was finished, al-Bab and the young follower submitted to again being escorted to the execution zone.  This time, a Muslim commander ordered his regiment to carry out the volley.  The bodies of the al-Bab and His devotee were fused together, with only their heads untouched by the bullets.

With the complicity of the prison yard’s guards, some other followers of al-Bab spirited the remains out of the area.  These were carried, from place to place, in secrecy, for 59 years, until ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, placed them in a vault, in a crypt on the slopes of Mount Carmel, near Haifa, in what is now Israel, in 1909.  The remains so rest, today, in the magnificent structure, known as the Shrine of Al-Bab, or “The Bab”, as He is called, in English.

I view this series of events as further evidence of the re-appearance of Divine Light in the world, just as it appeared at the time of Christ, before that, in the times of Moses, Krishna and Buddha, and after that, in the days when Muhmmad walked the Earth.  That mankind chose half-measures, in embracing the Teachings of these Sacred Beings, does not take away from the efficacy of those Truths.  God is nothing if not patient, though.  He certainly has been so with me, and is no less so with the human race as whole.

The Road to 65, Mile 181: Carson City and Karaoke

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May 28, 2015, Carson City– I am not graced with a melodic singing voice, and dancing came to me only after a lot of practice.  Today would be capped by my artistic Washoe County extended family members, dancing (3-year-old ballerina) and singing (professional disc jockey).

We headed out for Carson City a bit before noon, the eventual goal being to watch a pre-school graduation, with several dances and Nursery Rhyme skits.  First up, though, was a visit to one of downtown Carson’s neat eateries- Comma Coffee.  It is just down the road from the St. Charles Hotel, on Carson Street. The Ferkin & Fox Company now owns the St. Charles Hotel.

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Comma Coffee is home to a rather spooky group.

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The walls reflect 150 years’ worth of memorabilia.

The “performers” prefer to hang loose.

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Carson City’s beginnings, rooted in the days of the Pony Express, are commemorated in front of another cafe.

We spent a half hour or so walking around the State Capitol District, the heart of Nevada’s capital city.

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This is one of three buildings used by the Attorney-General of Nevada.

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West of the AG’s complex is the Donald W. Reynolds Press Center, of the Nevada Press Association.

Uptown from the complex is the Nevada Commission on Tourism, in one of Carson City’s oldest buildings.

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We then sauntered over to the grounds of the Capitol itself.

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This statue honours Nevada’s miners, a collective mainstay of  the state’s economy.

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The state has seen its law officers more at risk, as the population has grown so rapidly, in the past thirty years.

There are several other statues on the Capitol grounds.  There are also more than two dozen types of flowers.

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We took a short break in late afternoon at LA Bakery, another fine little cafe, in the West Side Historic District.  It is owned by some Persian-Americans.

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My affinity for bonsai was satisfied by this little gem, in the dining room of LA.

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My mom  had a Ming-style bonsai, in our parlour, for over forty years.

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The Stewart-Nye House was home to a Nevada governor, James W. Nye, in the last years of the Nevada Territory.  Mr. Nye, and his predecessor in the house,  William M. Stewart, became Nevada’s first U.S. Senators.  The house now is the site of a law office.

The Pre-School ceremony was held in a former Catholic church, now a Performance Hall, ironically called the Brewery Arts Center.

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The children did an admirable job, with the various songs, dances and skits set before them by the veteran Pre-School Director.  Our youngest generation is up to reaching the bar.  My Reno extended family’s youngest member did her part in the dance, and made us all proud.

We headed back up to Reno afterward, and enjoyed an hour’s worth of karaoke, with thin-crust loaded pizza on special, at Uncle Vinny’s Pizza.  My host, Steve, was the DJ at the event, and it featured five melody masters, each doing their covers proud.  Of course, in keeping with my policy, no personal photos are posted here.

It was a fabulous day, and my Nissan is close to being roadworthy once again.

The Road to 65, Mile 135: Stratified and Dissatisfied

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April 12, 2015, Eloy, AZ-  

SAM_4786The day broke, generally cloudy, but for one bright spot of blue.  As I gazed at where the sun was illuminating its cloud cover, the blue spot just below it showed a face, of sorts.  I took this to mean that the spirit world was telling me that today will be a productive one.

We did go through a lot of material and set the stage for a lot of “heavy lifting”, in terms of connecting with the wider society.  As I said yesterday, to the apparent consternation of many, we Baha’is are no longer hiding on the fringes of humanity.  We have much to offer, and will work shoulder-to-shoulder with all people of good will, in remedying the ills of the planet.

Some have asked me, “What sort of people do you favour?”  Answer:  Human beings.

“Where do you consider home?”  Answer:  Earth

“Is it not necessary to separate people into groups, so as to make sense of our human condition?” Answer:  Perhaps, but not in the sense that some are seen as better than others.

I detest social stratification.  I have never met a physically dirty person who can’t be made presentable,either by his/her own hand or with the help of others.  I have yet to meet a wealthy person whose heart can’t be touched to the point that he or she generously gives of self or of resources.  Stratification of society serves, essentially, those who for one reason or another fear contact with certain segments of society.  “It’s just easier this way.”, I’ve been told.

We each have our preferences.  I am drawn more readily to some people than to others, and likewise, some are drawn to me, more than to, say, the President of the United States, or to a surfer at Doheny Beach.  None of this, however, means that we must exempt any particular group of people from our lives.  I’ve rubbed shoulders, so to speak, with high and low alike- and some of those, at both levels, have been a bit on the seamy side.  None are beyond redemption.

Those who categorize others, to a great extent, may find themselves dissatisfied with certain aspects of their lives.  I’m not surprised at this, because in the act of pigeonholing others, one is limiting oneself, and one’s choices, as well.  This doesn’t mean we must, in Pollyannish fashion, approve of every aspect of everyone else’s lives.  Rather, it means, simply that an effort to understand, and then to find a place in one’s life, for as wide a variety of people as possible, makes for greater satisfaction.

Those were my thoughts, as we prepared to end the weekend’s consultation, in this Desert Rose.

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The Road to 65, Mile 80: Lundi Gras

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February 16, 2015- Pearlington to Luling, With A Good Dose of NOLA

The Pearl River divides the eastern nub of Louisiana from Mississippi, before joining the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s a working man’s river, so there were dozens of fisherfolk already at work, when I moseyed on through, on this President’s Day morning.  It is a gray day, payback for three days of Florida sunshine.  This was Cajun Land, though, and the good times would roll, regardless.

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A few miles westward, Lake Pontchartrain unfolded, in all its Southern Cousin to the Great Lakes glory.  It, too, is a working man’s waterway, and many were likewise hard at labour, on its shores.  My brief visit was to Irish Bayou, on the southeast corner of the lake.

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My main stop of the day, though, was New Orleans.  Granted, the Big Event in Big Easy was to come tomorrow, but my Life Path would have me elsewhere by the actual Mardi Gras, and besides, this is a SEASON with which we’re dealing, not just a one-day deal.  So, I parked at the Ten-Hour for $5 Lot, across from Basin Street Visitor Center, and made my way, slowly, towards Bourbon Street.

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The first order of business was an homage to the departed, at St. Louis Cemetery.

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New Orleans’ skyline seems to have recovered quite a bit from 2005’s tempests and trials.

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The Business District would wait for another time, though.  Bourbon Street was the main focus.  The Toulouse route was a bit on the quiet side.

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Things started popping, and beads flying, once I reached the edge of Bourbon.

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Having filled up on gumbo a few days earlier, I was happy with a jumbo slice of pizza.  There was no seating, but the doorway gave a fine vantage point for what was going on outside.

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An Earth Angel was sending bubbles down on the happy crowd, from one of the ubiquitous balconies.

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Bourbon, at lunchtime, was getting beaucoup crowded, always a good sign.  I managed to garner four sets of beads, besides the small one I was given yesterday, in Ocean Springs.

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It’s a nice idea, but I won’t be ready for this, for a good while yet.

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The bayou, that would be worth a week or so of camping among the Cajuns!

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Although today was not a parade day, some krewes were out for a spin anyway.

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As I walked back towards Basin Street, Simon Bolivar was there, reminding us of the spirit off freedom that was starting to stir in the Gulf Region, at the dawn of the 19th Century.  The enslaved, however, would not taste of liberty until our nation had nearly been rent asunder.

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Once back in my car, I made an investigation into the listed address of New Orleans Baha’i Center.  Shades of Brussels, the Baha’is have moved- the place is now a snow cone establishment.  Today, being 50 degrees, was not a day for me to enjoy such fare.  I headed out of town, accompanied by rain, clear to Luling, TX,my stop for the night.  Lake Charles, however, has Steamboat Bill’s, right off the highway and packed to the rafters with diners- some of whom were headed to the Big Easy.  I was good with a pile of catfish and hush puppies, and the company of a stuffed gator.

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Three hours later, I was fine and dandy at Luling’s Coachmen’s Inn.

The Road to 65, Mile 8: Leaves In The Wind

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December 6, 2014, Scottsdale-  This day was the 34th anniversary of Penny and I having met, in Zuni, NM.  Since her passing, 3 1/2 years ago, I have found myself spending this day doing something or another that celebrates our Faith.  This year, December 6 was the day chosen by the Baha’is of Scottsdale, and the United Nations Association of Arizona, to observe Human Rights Day, which actually falls on December 10.  Several speakers addressed key issues pertaining to human rights:  Immigration, Native American affairs, the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, and the ongoing state of affairs between Blacks and Whites in our country.  A longtime educator, who is Baha’i, made the case for Universal Compulsory Education as the overall impetus for solutions to these, and other issues, being generated.  A member of the audience made a passionate plea for communities to address human trafficking.

As this last is a huge concern of mine, especially as it pertains to children and teens,  I spent several minutes during the social portion of the gathering, hearing this lady out on the matter.  Like her, I see both official sanctioning of human trafficking (albeit in a surreptitious manner) and the tendency we have towards viewing strangers, or those from outside the immediate circle of friends, as those better left in anonymity, as contributing factors to how easy it is for trafficking and slavery to persist in today’s world.

I will be glad to have a kindred spirit in my corner, in taking on these evils.  For too long, our society, and the human race as a whole, have regarded those outside one’s social circle as leaves in the wind.  I saw some of that in evidence among those in attendance at last night’s gathering, which underscored my earnest and hard-working colleague’s point:  Without us, who will bring in the light?

Stuff and Nonsense

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October 7, 2014, Prescott- Yes, I have caught up with all my travel and hiking posts, for a few days at least.  I have a few days with no work, due to Fall Break in the schools, so I am mostly listening to “imperative” podcasts that are “vital” to my well-being, shoring up various aspects of my essential oils training, working in my back yard and exercising at Planet Fitness.

Sometime on Friday, I will head out to San Diego, find a safe place for my vehicle on Saturday, fly to Honolulu on Sunday and next Tuesday will be on my son’s ship, joining the crew headed back to San Diego.  This will put me more or less incommunicado for six days or so.  That will be something of a relief to some of my extended family, who have been sick of me for a good long time.  Ditto for most of the American Legion post members, but after this Thursday night, the latter may be a moot point; we’ll see.

The bloom has been off my rose, to these people, for reasons I have yet to figure, for several weeks now. My father told us kids, years ago, that when people don’t like us, it’s their problem, not ours, and as long as we come from a place of truth, we don’t need our detractors and critics, no matter how “close” they are.  So, I will continue on, with the love I get from “those who care, and matter”, as one of my better friends here reminded me on FB recently.  I have support from my Baha’i community, from a handful of friends here in town and online, and from most of my family, including my son.

Once I get back from California, on Oct. 25, there won’t be much taking me out of the Southwest, until next May- barring any more deaths in the family.  2014 has been quite a clearing out process, for both family and friends.  I hope it’ll tone down a bit.  My main concern during that time period will be replenishing my coffers, with my own effort, thank you.  Hope all my well-wishers are doing okay this Fall.