Last Quarter Plans

2

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.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 21: Ever Strong

2

June 21, 2020-

This was a Father’s Day of my own making. My Uncle Walter told us boys, for years on end, to learn to make our own fun. So it has been, for nearly seven decades.

After hosting a heartfelt and meaningful devotional on Zoom, I hopped over to Ms. Natural’s and had a quick and healthful lunch, on the downstairs patio. Then, it was off to Sedona, for a relatively short hike, along a trail called Big Park Loop. It was hot, so I walked fairly slowly and drank a good amount of water. The scenes were of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock from a southern angle.

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, Sedona-seen from the south.
Cathedral Rock and Castle Butte, from the east.

The past two months have been very dry, as usual. The great rushing creeks and rivers of the “Monsoon” season are flowing only underground, right now, if they are flowing at all.

Large dry wash near Courthouse Butte, Sedona

I stopped in, after the hike, at a normally favourite and welcoming coffee house, but found the mood a bit tense- largely over who got to use a device which soothes muscle pain and can heal skin disorders. A friend who works at the cafe managed to get some use from it. The device, it turns out, belongs to the cafe owner, is quite expensive, and was not to be used by anyone but the employees. The owner was not amused, when friend offered it to me for a session. Fortuitously, it operates off cell phones, and mine was not co-operating. I quietly left, after enjoying a refreshing and healthful cool drink.

Father’s Day dinner was at a barbecue place, called Colt Cafe, in Old Town Cottonwood. The tried and true brisket sandwich and Triple Crown potato salad restored my physical balance. It was a fairly easy drive back, after dinner.

My father taught us He showed us that strength is not brutish, not overbearing and is never selfish. Strength shows respect where it is due, but is not fawning or sycophantic, as no human being is worthy of such adulation.

At the same time, strength avoids excessive fault-finding. If a person is praiseworthy, on balance, clebrate that which is good about the individual, neither dwelling on, nor ignoring, the person’s frailties. I wonder what Dad would think of the current campaign to denigrate most, if not all, of our nation’s, nay our planet’s, people of renown? In an age when everyone from George Washington to Mother Theresa has detractors who have managed to find a ready audience, can we truly approach anyone’s legacy objectively?

The Road to 65, Mile 313: Of Horses, Llamas and Bells

10

October 6, 2015, Sedona- After dealing with more computer work, regarding a legal matter, I headed out for a day’s respite, stopping first at Mortimer Family Farm, in Dewey.  The Fall is in full swing at this exhilarating place.  As you can see, the pumpkins,alone, will delight dozens of school children this season.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My other purpose was to pick up one of their delectable sandwiches, along with a piece of Pumpkin Pie Fudge and a mocha espresso, for a roadside picnic.  This ended up taking place at Crucifixion Point, a Forest Service Day-Use area, which was closed and locked.  Nothing prevented me from parking outside the gate and enjoying a pleasant meal, though.

Then, it was off to Sedona.  I stopped at the community college branch and inquired as to the road to Honanki, a Pueblo ruin on the West Side of town.  I was told that I was not to go in there unless riding in a commercial jeep.  I know this is a bunch of hooey, and figure the staff member must have some interest in the jeep outfit.  Rather than waste time, I headed to a tried and true hiking path: Little Horse Trail and Llama Trail.  Little Horse, which I last hiked three years ago, heads to Chicken Point (seen below) and Submarine Rock.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It also connects with a trail to the Chapel in the Red Rocks.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

About 2/3 of the way to Chicken Point, I veered off Little Horse, and took Llama Trail.  This brings the hiker back around to the south, towards Courthhouse Butte and Bell Rock.  At one point, Llama Trail has one in a place that is equidistant from Cathedral Rock (west), Madonna and the Nuns (north), Courthouse Butte (east) and Bell Rock (south).  I chose that area to pray, take a drink from my water bottle and write reminiscences of my July trip to California.  Sedona has several vortices, and this felt like one of them.

While I was praying, I was greeted by some local residents.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here are two shots of  Madonna and The Nuns.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Courthouse Butte is not to be outdone.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Nor are Bell Rock,

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

or Cathedral Rock.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Llama Trail ends at Courthouse Vista, about 1 1/2 miles south of where my car was.  So, in the interests of not being caught up in an approaching thunderstorm or out after dark, I took Bail Trail, a 1/4 mile connector, to Bell Rock Path, then back to Little Horse and my way home.

As it happened, I drove through the rain easily, and got home in time for another fine Arizona scene.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Road to 65, Mile 277: Every New Beginning…..

9

August 31, 2015, Prescott- I almost used the byline, The Universe.  I have begun reading “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, Dan Millman’s 1980 book which loosely describes his inner journey to a higher functioning self, using the anthropomorphoses of  Agape and Eros, a spirit guide named Socrates and a whimsical, attractive spirit named Joy.

Like Dan, I have spent a lot of my life following the Prescribed Path- following, first, a maudlin, alcohol-and-marijuana-fueled series of efforts at fitting my square peg into society’s round hole.  When I was 25,  I encountered an eleven-year-old boy named Mickey, who got me to quit smoking dope; in exchange for which, he gave up smoking tobacco.  Five years later, I met Penny, my own spiritual guide, who became my wife, and alcohol was cast aside.  At age 58, after a roiling series of life setbacks, I gave up credit cards- and the habit I had developed of blaming others for our family’s ill fortune.  At age 60,  I saw my wife, my Heaven-on-Earth, transition into the spirit who guides me, day by day, no longer kept prisoner in a body that had been failing.

I have experienced beings, and phenomena, that are not easily explained in human terms:  My maternal grandmother’s spirit visiting me, early one morning, when I was ten; my father’s angry spirit pushing my head into a tile wall, in response to a wayward thought I had, about a year after his passing; Penny’s spirit filling our bedroom, as her body lay dying in a hospice, ten miles away; a bright, multi-coloured light flashing frenetically, at a spot called Sipapu (Emergence Place), on the floor of Palo Duro Canyon, as I sat on a nearby bench; my maternal grandfather’s spirit, regarding me with a stern eye, when I stopped shy of climbing to the top ledge of Cathedral Rock, in Sedona.  These are experiences that many would regard as hallucinations, but they all occurred during daylight, when I was awake, and I haven’t used mind-altering substances since 1981.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”.  So goes a line from the song, “Closing Time”, by SemiSonic.  I see this, in terms of each day, week, month and year.  I have seen my own transition from married caretaker to wandering widower.  Now I am becoming a solitary seedsower, concentrating on helping to build a community. There will be other transitions ahead; other tides, rolling in, rolling out.