The Cusp

10

November 27, 2018, Prescott-

As I look back on being 67, living my 68th year, there have been some delirious high points- The wedding gathering of my youngest niece and nephew-in-law, the marriage of my son and daughter-in-law, the deep, loving welcomes I received at some friends’ home in Mishawaka, IN; at Auberge Bishop, in Montreal; at the above-mentioned gathering, in Philadelphia; in my in-laws’ home, in Florida; at a friend’s house in Salisbury, NC;  at a family gathering of some friends, in Crossville, TN; at Convergence at Arcosanti.

These loving environments almost overwhelmed me, but they shouldn’t have.  I have been very well-treated, for many years now, by the vast majority of those closest to me.  I am not sure why the shadows, the relatively few dark episodes of the year now coming to a close, seem to loom so large.  In objective terms, they pale beside all the times I have been greeted by my dear friends, at regular events around our area.

My steadfast friends range from those I see daily, at work, to those I see 2-3 times a week, at faith events, to those who, for whatever reason, I rarely see or with whom I seldom speak.  Then, too, there are the thousand-plus fields of people who regularly read my posts, and who have showered so much love on me, some for nearly a decade.  There are those I have met, who have become friends for the long term and others who are nice enough, but whose inner pain has taken them out of my life, after just a few encounters.  I last saw one of those people, not two days ago.

As with any year, there were farewells:  My mother-in-law and her older sister; one of Penny’s maternal cousins; a dedicated staff member at a Baha’i Institute, northeast of here; a long-time friend in New Zealand and several friends and elders from my childhood, most prominently an upstreet neighbour, who was virtually one of my surrogate fathers.

There were also hellos, some fleeting- like the woman who got me to put Penny’s and my wedding bands on my right ring finger and another woman who got me to attend a Game Night at a local coffee house. Neither were very long in my life. There are also the hoop dancers of Phoenix and the crews at Ms. Natural’s, Cuppers and Rustic Pie, here in town. These friendships are more likely to last.

The year brought me to California, in late winter, and from Nevada -to Quebec -to Florida and back to Arizona.  I camped in both rain and clear sky, spent a night in a private condominium,   stayed in four hostels, a business hotel, seven motels, three comfortable homes and slept one night in my car.

It has been a year of risks and rewards, more so than some years. It has prepared me for more.

Aged-Out?

19

September 24, 2018, Prescott-

I have heard, from a well-meaning person, that a man my age cannot handle intense romantic relations, of a physical kind. I guess it depends on the man.  Unless I find another woman who makes her way into a marital situation, I will not know as that applies to me. So, there is one moot point.

I do, however, manage to complete even a lengthy, and vigourous, physical job, to its completion, as I did on Saturday, whilst helping on a school garden project.  There is a major faith-based project, next Saturday, in which I will take part, and another, the following weekend, at Arcosanti’s Convergence, which dovetails with a Baha’i event and a nearby Pancake Breakfast.  I feel good, after vigourous work, so I don’t anticipate issues there.

I get the sense, from my building supervisors, that maybe I am occupying shoes meant for a younger person.  My immediate supervisor may well resist that, and I think I just need to stay the course, for as long as my stamina remains as it is now.

In a nutshell, I intend to keep on working, as I have said before, for at least two more years.  December, 2020, would be a good time to bid adieu, but there would have to be a younger person ready to finish out the academic year, at that point.

Blessed Intentions

8

November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-

I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County.  Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes.  These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.

Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.

I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday.  This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table.  So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.

Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities.  The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.

It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world.  The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities.  At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing.  Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children.  There is a group meeting,  in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.

If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age.  Hygiene is excellent.

Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.

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This is a bottle wall.  Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.20171119_154703[1]

Artwork is random and eclectic.  I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.

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Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.

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This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs.  Holly  and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.

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I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities.  Their work ethic is as good  as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world.  Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle.   There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype.   Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education.  This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.

I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least.  Life is good, where there is love and devotion.

 

In-Crowds and Outliers

7

November 9, 2017, Prescott-

For most of my life, I’ve not made much distinction between groups of people:  Neighbourhoods, social classes, occupations, educational levels, generations, nationalities.  None of those have kept me from interacting, wandering about, learning what I could from, and about, each and all.

This has led to a rich set of experiences- occasionally with the loneliness that comes from not being too close to any one group.  That aloneness has been altered, somewhat, since I entered the Baha’i Faith, with Penny’s encouragement, in early 1981.  I don’t strictly adhere to socializing only with Baha’is.  That is not in keeping with our Faith’s tenet to “associate with all peoples, in fellowship and harmony”, a trait with which I was born.

It is no surprise, then, that the Universe should be bringing, to our area, the Convergence at Arcosanti.  For three days, a large number of people will gather at the cooperative community, 45 miles northeast of Prescott.  There will be symposia and smaller breakout groups, all manner of people camping, socializing and forming new bonds, across all manner of divides.  There will be, I expect, conservatives as well as liberals; craftsmen as well as scholars; Christians as well as atheists and agnostics; the clear-eyed and the wide-eyed.

I will be there, at least through tomorrow night, and again on Saturday. If it feels right, I will pitch my tent and stay the night.  As a volunteer, I will be able to get a keen sense of  how well the stated mission is being achieved, and establish new bonds of my own. Besides, when Woodstock happened, I was a bumbling Private, in Army Postal School, at Fort Harrison, IN.  This is a more sober, focused variation on the theme of transformational gatherings.  I want to do my part, to help get it right this time.

Vignettes, but No Pictures

8

October 11, 2017, Silver City-

I am intending to get to bed shortly, so as to wake up in time for a 2.5 hour drive to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  So, there will be no photos of Besh Ba Gowah or the Gila Wilderness, for a day or two.

I do want to mention a few people I have met, over the past two days.  There was a little girl, about 3, who expressed concern about the bandaid on my left facial cheek.  I have it to guard a sun blister that is slowly healing.  No explanation was needed, but her concern was priceless.  Another little girl greeted me this morning, as I went to my car for an item.  She was pleased that I was on vacation, like she was.

At the Slow Food Prescott meeting, last night, I was able to invite three couples to our upcoming observance of the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth, on Oct. 22.  It takes a lot for me to offer invitations, and two of them were accepted graciously, with the third being rather hesitant, but taking it anyway.  More importantly, a Convergence event was announced at this meeting.  It will be held from November 10-12, which I can attend for at least two days- and with some negotiation and calendar tweeking, three days.  There will be an all-nighter, on the last night, ending at 8 AM, 11/13.  Work the next day, of course, will keep me from that part.

When I got to Superior, I had to bang on the window to get the resident manager’s attention- no doorbell, and the phone is in the office.  It took ten minutes, but I got in my reserved room.  Tonight, in Silver City, my initial room had a dead magnetic strip, and a broken faucet handle in the bathroom, so I got a different room and a discount on top of a discount.

At Tammy’s Cafe, in Buckhorn, NM, this evening, the grill was overloaded, so it took several of us close to 40 minutes to get our meals.  The staff, though, is incredibly energetic, attentive,  and gracious.  No one is idle.  The food was marvelous, worth the wait.

In the meantime, I had a lengthy conversation with a young ranch hand, named Jason, who gave me a wealth of information about Gila Cliff Dwellings, Casa Malpais (in Springerville, AZ) and various cliff dwellings on both private and county land, between Silver City and Springerville.  Tammy, the cafe owner and one of her waitresses were also full of information on the prehistoric remnants of the area.

It’s always a good day, when I feel open to connecting with new people.