A Desert Sort of Sway

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February 9, 2019, Chandler, AZ-

After my satisfying Saturday morning routine, I headed down here, to this bustling eastern suburb of Phoenix, to take in several hours of  Arizona Roots, a music and art festival that smashes the monotony of winter in the desert.  I was clued to this event by one of my friends from last Fall’s Convergence at Arcosanti.

I didn’t find her there, but I did find the sort of atmosphere that I experienced at Convergence, albeit a loving atmosphere, writ large.  Instead of dozens of gentle souls crammed into a room, there were several hundred crammed into the area in front of the Main Stage.

There were artisan ensembles, like The Clint Stevens Band, just getting together and having some laid-back fun.  Then, there was the mix of serious message and hakuna matata, from J-Boog and Rebelution, who did the Main Stage proud, while I was in its midst.

Although everyone there was a “total stranger” to me, it was easy to revert to Convergence dance form, and alternately bounce up and down, sway back and forth, and flash the Hawaiian thumb and pinky greeting at Jarell, whilst he was leading J-Boog, in a feisty 55-minute set of heartfelt reggae.

 

Here is one of their signature songs, about a lovely Hawaiian lady who makes J’s heart sing.

I felt none of the awkward “Really, old dude” self-talk that made me feel, initially, like a duck out of water, at Convergence. It helped to remember what a great time I had there, after letting that pointless crap go.  So, I enjoyed 3 1/2 hours of “anonymous camaraderie”,  that evokes what I probably missed at the great music festivals of the ’60’s and ’70’s.  I had a lovely time, without any recreationally-enhancing substances.  To be sure, these were flowing, and wafting, quite freely. I’m goofy enough on my own, and remember what a horror show I was, as a drunk and as a stoner, before 1981, and sobriety.  Here is the scene, as J-Boog worked their magic.

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As I was entering the grounds, Rebelution was in mid-set.  The mid-afternoon crowd wasn’t quite revved up, as yet.20190209_161757[1]

Next time, I know to check for Early-Bird ticket prices, in mid-November.  A scalper, in the parking lot, offered me a “two-days for one” deal, which showed desperation.  I did not have any intention of sharing my PI with him, or anyone else on the street, and I have other commitments for tomorrow, so I passed.  I hope to make it for both days, a year from now, as these sorts of gatherings are good for my soul-and this is, for good measure, the largest such event I have attended, without being spooked.  I’d say that’s a very good sign.

 

Guiding Spirits

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June 4-5, 2016, Burntwater, AZ-  There are, as I have indicated various times, several places in the world where I feel like family, and not just a passing acquaintance who is forgotten as soon as I leave.  Reno/Carson City is one such place, the Prescott area, where I live most of the time,  Metro San Diego (where my son lives) – and this small corner of the country’s largest Indian Nation, are among the others.  Burntwater used to have a trading post.  Now, it has the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning.  That may sound redundant, but educating people of all ages has been the core purpose of this facility, since it was founded, in 1981.  I always feel like the Guiding Spirits are with me here.  When I arrived here, on Friday night, it was late, so I rolled out the sleeping bag and slept under the stars, as we all had, that first weekend on the property- when there were no buildings.

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Native American Baha’i Institute’s 35th Anniversary

Thus, about thirty of us gathered here, these past two days-  to recount the past thirty-five years and to plan, with a group of service-oriented youth, for its immediate and short-term future.  NABIL has come far, since 10-15 of us gathered here, in June, 1981, and sat with a group of Dine’ (Navajo) elders, asking them what they wanted to see here.  I remember the first thing on their list was reliable water.  So, a dowser came to visit, a well was dug, and the long drive to a pump, of spotty reliability, was over, within three months.  That well has been replaced, by an even more reliable water source, in the past ten years.  Local residents can get a portion of water that they all agreed upon, in council, with everyone’s opinion heard and considered, by the community. This is how Dine’, and most Native Americans across the country, are used to doing things.  A weekly community dinner is offered on Thursday evenings, and this is also a chance for residents to freely air their concerns.

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The Library is the central meeting place, for consultation and mindfulness.

Financial literacy classes, the trades and some college preparatory classes are among the services that the current staff are hoping to see offered here, in the next several years.  The Institute has come a long way.  I stayed in a comfortable lodge, for the second night I was there.

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As with any place that people gather, the dining hall is also a key place for consultation and camaraderie.

I was asked, upon getting ready to leave on Sunday morning, to remember that I must not be a stranger here.  The permanent staff have been like family to me, for a long time, so I will bear that in mind.  Driving across Hopi, also a place that is home, I found the place quiet, though I later learned that there was a social dance, which I apparently missed.  No worries, as there were two fires, along the route  back to Prescott, and I had to focus on getting back in one piece.  It looked as if the fires were under control, though.

I was back, and had my house cooled off, by 6 PM.  Now, let’s see what a week in one place will look like.

 

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 158: El Cinco

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May 5, 2015, Chino Valley-  A restaurant on the south end of town burned today.  I’m not about to speculate, as to the cause.  I just know that the few times I ate there, the meal was satisfying and the service folksy and prompt.  My work here was on the north side, and consisted of four hours with a group of fourth-graders, who had been left behind from a reading reward field trip.  They bought the story that their teacher was at a long meeting, rather than at the field trip that was attended by some of their classmates.

This is Teacher Appreciation Day, so community members supervised the kids in the lunchroom, and at recess.  We enjoyed a vegetarian Mexican lunch, provided by other community members, and cupcakes prepared by an office worker.  All was magnifico!

I checked on the status of my hapless acquaintance, who had been jailed on Friday, and was told he had been released today.  So far, he has not contacted me, and I will leave it at that.  The sheriff’s clerk said I am under no obligation to seek him out, in any event.

We did make headway, in a plan I am helping to establish, to connect a local hotel food service with a kitchen that serves meals to homeless people, four days a week.  Someone made the astute observation that the kitchen has a staff member who could pick up the food from the hotel.  I will work that detail out, tomorrow, either after, or in lieu of, going to my day job.  Another person has also stepped forward to help with this.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the routing of French soldiers in Mexico, on May 5, 1862. It is a minor holiday in Mexico, but is widely celebrated in the Southwestern U.S.  I note that it is also an excuse for people to indulge in midweek partying.  Camaraderie, though, is a good thing.

These random notes on the day may be tied together with a neat word bow:  Love is a productive struggle.  This is a message written on the bulletin board of the teacher whose classroom I covered today.