Every Bit Counts

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October 19, 2020-

Today saw the celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. I put in a full day of work, as it was also the first day of in-person instruction in our county’s public schools. I’ve been asked to work this week, with a team of Title I Reading specialists, at Liberty Traditional School, Prescott Valley. Today and tomorrow, we are giving a diagnostic test to several students. The team also is helping kindergartners get used to locating their buses and communicating with their drivers, as to where they need to get off. I was dismayed to see that those children who didn’t know where their stop was, also had no address or phone number inside their backpacks. That was a given, when I was subbing in the Phoenix area, as well as in Prescott, in the 2000’s. Teachers and parents regularly made sure there was contact information in each child’s backpack or pinned to the inside of their sleeve.

After work, I picked up a delicious meal of Persian chicken and rice, prepared by some gracious friends, in honour of Baha’u’llah’s birthday. Persian rice, seasoned with saffron, and fortified with one or another type of beans, is a light and refreshing staple. I also had hosting duties for our community’s Zoom-base celebration, so we got together for devotional readings, a slide show of Baha’u’llah’s life, which I narrated and watched a video of Persian folk dancing-performed by a troupe of women, for an audience in India.

Every little bit counts.

Her eis that video, for your viewing and dancing pleasure!

Last Quarter Plans

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October 11, 2020-

With October nearly half over, it’s high time for me to look at this last three months, or so, of 2020.

October 12-17– This is Fall Break week and is the first of the two weeks I gave myself off, from any out -of-state deployments with Red Cross. If a wildfire breaks out around here, of course I will be on hand to help. Otherwise, on Tuesday, I will hike the first of two peaks in northern Arizona that go by the name Red Mountain. It is in an area between Prescott Valley and Lynx Lake, a section of the Bradshaw Mountain foothills that I have not explored, up to now. Monday and Wednesday feature Zoom meetings, two of which I host, so walks downtown will suffice. Thursday through Saturday, the road will lead to other Red Mountain, north of Williams, on the road to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. If the road to Hermit’s Rest is open, on the South Rim, I will go there as well.

October 18-24- This is a Holy Week for Baha’is, with two days spent commemorating the births of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah, which did occur back-to-back, though two years apart- Baha’u’llah having been born in 1817 and His Herald, in 1819. It’ll be different, celebrating these auspicious days on Zoom.

I may also have work opportunities, with the Sub service, but we’ll see.

October 25-31– Halloween Week will also be different this year. No word has gone out, from either of the groups who have put on parties, in years past. My default will be to throw on the silly suit I wore last year, and bring treats to neighbour families who know me. It may also be either a heavy subbing week or yet another deployment, for a disaster response yet unseen.

November 1-6- Election Week will have its share of challenges, both local and further afield. I am leaving my service options open: Our normally quiet, live-and-let-live little city could need as many voices of reason as can be had-or it could stay quiet, and congenial. There could very well be those who need the services of the Red Cross, if mayhem results in mass displacement. I will have the blessing of a virtual Spiritual Retreat, each evening, from November 5-8, to provide online balance.

November 8-14- Veterans’ Week will hopefully remind everyone that Freedom isn’t Free. Any public activities on November 11 will find me there. November 12-14 will be a good time to head up to Painted Desert-Petrified Forest.

November 15-21- Mid-month will be either a full work week or a time for day trips to Sedona, finishing the long-delayed completion of a hike on Limekiln Trail and going up Cathedral Rock.

November 22-28- Thanksgiving Week, ending with my 70th Birthday, so it’ll be Texas Time. Son will use a grill in the apartment complex courtyard, so this will be another fine gathering. I will likely be quite reflective, on that Saturday, with a view towards using all for which I can be grateful to help those who have been discounted and marginalized- the mirror image of the fourth Thursday in November.

November 29-December 5- The first week of my eighth decade will begin a run-up to my retirement (always unofficial) from substitute teaching. In practical terms, what that will mean is that I will not NEED to work, in order to make ends meet, after this calendar year. I will still be amenable to going in, two or three days a week, from January through May. The major emphasis, though, will shift to volunteer work, for which I’m already getting plenty of practice.

December 6-12- This marks forty years since I first met Penny. A trip to Zuni and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve will be in order. I will also stop in Bisbee, which we never visited together, on the way back-just because it’s there.

December 13-19- There may be a smidgen of work to be done, but my emphasis this week will be culling old files out of the cabinet and putting effort into shredding.

December 20-26- Depending on family input, and the state of the pandemic, I will either make a journey to New England or devote some time to an Arizona Christmas.

December 27-January 2- Part of the time will be in Texas and part will be in Florida, with the Gulf Coast in between (weather-permitting). The first week of 2021 will be the same, in reverse.

Some things will remain constant, location notwithstanding. I will have regular Baha’i Zoom calls to maintain and continuing to pay off what is left of my bills will be achieved.

This is my vision for the last twelve weeks of a tempestuous year.

Clearer Vision

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November 29, 2016, Prescott- Now that my backlog of stuff has cleared up, somewhat, it’s time to consider what 66 has in store for me, or I, for it.

Fitness:  I like going to Planet Fitness, as there is a place for everyone, with a feeling of community and non-judgement.  People of all ages, sizes and ability levels exercise together and support one another, either silently, or as “spotters”.  My current plan has me there, three days a week.

Hiking:  Related to fitness, and to photography, my hikes vary in length and in difficulty.  They have sustained me, in many ways, for nearly 58 years.  The next twelve months will take me to:  Prescott Hotshots Memorial State Park, in Yarnell;  the southernmost three segments of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, in New River; Spur Cross Ranch, Cave Creek; McDowell Mountains Desert Preserve, Scottsdale; the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff; the Grand Canyon and who knows where, in AZ and elsewhere.

Work:  I was asked to consider being lead teacher in my current classroom.  I respectfully declined, preferring to see a younger person have a shot at that opportunity- as I am not devoting more time to the courses necessary for re-certification, and  given that I plan to work full time, for 4 1/2 more years, then go on to other pursuits, at the end of May, 2021. Children, and their well-being, will always be one of my highest concerns, though, wherever I am.

Family:  This means both biological and of choice.  Thankfully, there is no one in my biological family who would not be in my family of choice.  The former consists of about 140 people, including my mother, siblings, son, maternal and paternal relatives, and in-laws.  The latter has grown to at least 300, including many who will read this, over the past twenty-five years.

Travel:  My main immediate priority is time with Aram, after Christmas and before he heads to Korea for his next Navy assignment.  Between now and the end of May, I will be mostly in the Southwest and southern California, as work and my Baha’i activities keep me close to Home Base.  Mid-March may find me in west Texas, re-connecting with old friends.  The summer’s focus leans towards the Northwest, and possibly the Great Plains, but much could change, in the interim.  My Back-East visit looks to be in December, 2017.

Spiritual:  As most of you know, I am a fervent Baha’i.  We will observe a significant anniversary, on October 22:  The bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, Founder of our Faith.  A committee is planning a dignified and welcoming commemoration of the event, here in the Prescott area.  I will support and take active part in the event that is put together.

I also support the ecumenical event, known as Hope Fest, which will also occur in October, for its sixth year.  We all are living under the same blessings, coming from One Heavenly Source, in my view.

Writing:  I still very much plan to put together, and publish, a volume of mixed short prose and poetry, between January and March of the coming year.  Online, a series of posts on this site will be called 66 Days of Sixty-Six, being a random group of days that celebrate this age.

It’s going to be a great, if often challenging, year.  Stay tuned.

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 351: Marmalade Chicken and Old Bullwhacker

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November 14, 2015, Prescott- The nice thing about most Saturdays is that they tend to be the most open-ended day of the week.  Today, for example, gave me a chance for a haircut, though not to visit the Farmer’s Market.

The trade-off came with the commemoration of one of our greatest Holy Days:  The anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.  As I explained a day or so ago, we Baha’is now observe this Day in tandem with the anniversary of the Birth of Al-Bab.  The spiritual power of these “twin” Holy Days has yet to be seen by humanity-at-large, but it is felt by me, and millions of others around the world.

About twenty-five of us gathered at the home of a retired physician and a retired pharmacist.  We shared the account of Baha’u’llah’s early life and several prayers, then enjoyed yet another fine Persian repast, prepared by the ladies.  Among the particular delights were two types of chicken:  Rosemary and marmalade.  These give me two more ideas for the crock pot, this winter.  Lamb meatballs were also delectable, but it would take me lots more practice to get those done right.

After tarrying and conversing with my fellows-in-faith, a bit longer than usual on a beautiful afternoon, I headed home, changed clothes, and course, hitting the trail on Segment 7 of Prescott Circle Trail.  The northern half of this segment occupied me from 3-6:30 P.M., and takes in about 4.5 miles, between Watson Lake and State Highway 69.

The area is one in which I have driven several times a week, while glancing over at the wilderness between several industrial parks and one of our major shopping plazas.  Today, I got to walk that wilderness.  Largely scrub oak forest and tall grass, it traverses an old city landfill, now home to a medium-sized herd of deer, and a pristine valley, looking somewhat like a bowl, carved by two creeks, over thousands of years. Here are some shots of the northern half of Segment 7.

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This is a southern extension of the Peavine Trail, part of the Rails-to-Trails Project.  It follows an underpass at the junction with Prescott Lakes Boulevard, the connector road from northeast Prescott to State Highway 69.

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This scene, and the next one, are atop the former Prescott landfill, now left to area wildlife, and their admirers.

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                                            This crushed rock bed serves as a drainage medium.

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  Coming down off the landfill site, I crossed this dry wash, then went past the Yavapai County Justice Center,  a juvenile court.  There was no activity there, today.

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                  Several bicyclists shared the trail with me today, coming quickly downhill, into washes like this.

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This area, west of a WalMart, of all things, is as quiet and unassuming as any woodland in Prescott National Forest, some three miles further south.

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        From the ridge above the “bowl” seen above, I had this view of the hazy hills to the west and northwest.

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                        Atop Old Bullwhacker Hill, I saw the southern half of Segment 7.

At the foot of Old Bullwhacker, I found another copse of trees and a dry creek bed, between two shopping centers.

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This trail leads to a culvert, through which one may pass under the busy AZ Highway 69.

As I was wending my way back to the Peavine Parking Lot, I got a call from Aram, filling me in on some news from his end.  After a ten-minute conversation, I looked down and saw this little affirmation, from the Universe.

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