Wellness Trumps Sinuses

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August 29, 2021- A brief, localized fullness was in my head, for much of the day, with none of the aches and congestion reported by those who have contracted one form of COVID or another. Yes, I am one of those who has not let up on wellness regimen, throughout this pandemic. It is the only way I can function, in all that needs to be done.

Thus, it was a blessing that the sinus headache responded well to an hour’s nap, a bowl of spicy chicken tortilla soup, being out of the desert heat and the clearing of the skies tonight, after a few bolts of dry lightning (which thankfully did not start any fires.)

I am feeling energized, also, by the elevated conversations that my friends in Lake Havasu City and I had last night and this morning. There is strength that comes from facing issues and from helping others with what they think are intractable matters. This will long have to continue. A week more, at least, lies ahead at Prescott High School, (with Friday devoted to another elementary classroom), with the days after Labor Day being something of a cipher, as yet.

There is one thing I haven’t figured out yet: How do we resolve the headaches caused by ignorant prattling? (i.e. “Creative Comrades is a Communist organization!”) The aforementioned organization is a job-search assistant, in Lake Havasu City, hardly a hotbed of Marxism.

The Trail Winds Again

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June 23, 2021, Tonopah- It’s been two years, since I last took this route, from Las Vegas towards Carson City/Reno. I see that most places survived COVID and are again thriving. A Speedway on Farm Road, on the north side of LV, will be my go-to refueling stop in the city-easy on/off US 95.

The day started with a continuation of last night’s exploration of intellect and real world problem-solving. Much was personal to one of my hosts, so the details would not be appropriate here. We did reach the consensus, over breakfast at Bad Miguel’s, on the north end of Lake Havasu City, that humans are far too prone to cover up for the team, when making a miscreant own up to mistakes is a far more forthright, and better, use of a team’s energy. It’s not throwing the wrongdoer under the bus; it is, rather, a cleansing exercise for the wrongdoer’s soul.

After bidding these gentlemen adieu, I wended my way through an hour’s worth of a series of roads, to Bullhead City, making a fairly brief, but equally necessary, visit to another isolated soul. The simple, satisfying lunch she prepared gave me a chance to note further about the value of being forthright-in no particular context. She had a Zoom call, about forty minutes into my visit, so back on the road it was- with rain as my companion, from Bullhead City to Las Vegas!

The rain and wind dissipated, along with the traffic, just past the Snow Mountain interchange, on LV’s northernmost edge. I made a customary light supper stop, at the Area 51 Alien Center, in Amargosa Valley- not far from its namesake of legend. A few families were passing through; a feisty 9-year-old boy from one was bantering with teen girls from the other family. I just fixed my hot dog and smiled at the joy of normalcy.

Beatty, Scotty’s Junction and Goldfield came and went-and I was in this center of mining heritage by 8 p.m. I turned on the tv and found- “Boss Baby”. Off went the tube.

Tomorrow will show how much the rest of the way to Carson has fared, in the time of pandemic.

Limekiln Trail, Section 3

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December 8, 2020- At long last, I got myself on track and found the trailhead from which one may walk from the far western edge of Sedona to the northern edge of Cottonwood, a distance of five miles via Limekiln Trail. It was not a particularly chanllenging trail, though I felt the effects of being housebound and Zoom-bound, for much of the past eight months. A series of 30-minute workouts at Planet Fitness keep me in a modicum of shape, but it will take the rigours of the trail, even a fairly flat trail like the Deer Pass-Bill Grey segment, to get back into a semblance of “fighting trim”.

A rumour reached me that I was likely in the presence of a COVID-positive person, last week. It happens, though, that this individual was nowhere near the school, during the days I was working there, so once again, no worries. People are so worn down, so exaperated by the pandemic, that they will often take anything they hear, and run with it, whilst inwardly trembling. I ask one and all, to step back and breathe-We will beat this challenge, by adhering to common sense rules of hygiene, and ,more importantly, of wellness.

Now, back to the trail-

Here is the eastern end of the segment, at Deer Pass. A discerning eye might notice a human face or two, in the midst of the cairn .
In order to access the trail to the west, one must use this underpass, under Highway 89 A.

The handles to the gates, on this segment, are diagonal, and after wiggling the handle out, it is then necessary to either lift the gate up, or push it down, in order to secure it again.

Most of the trail is single track, like this, though some of the hike involved walking on US Forest Service roads.
One of the Forest Service roads that serve as connectors.
Igneous rock, deposited by volcanic eruptions, further afield, hundreds of thousands of years ago, make the long hike through the Sheepshead Mountain/Canyon sector, all the more fascinating.
This is the remnant of what was likely a miner’s camp, atop Sheepshead Mountain.
This is another marker of a miner’s camp, also long-abandoned.
Here is the top of Sheepshead Mountain’s west ridge. The summit, east of the trail, is fairly lush.
Sage brush has its own fall colours, which arrive on the scene when deciduous trees have long since turned a ghastly gray.
So, too, does Prickly Pear Cactus, especially at higher elevations, offer its fall colours.
Crossings of dry creekbeds and washes abound on this sector of the trail. There are Spring Creek, Sheepshead Creek-and Coffee Creek, which was also a favoured gathering place for miners, in the early Twentieth Century.

So, a long-standing itch in my saddle got scratched. I re-found the junction of Limekiln and Bill Grey Road, which had gotten lost in my mind, for several months.

Bill Grey Road, at its junction with Limekiln Trail.

The remaining sector of Limekiln runs from Deer Pass to Red Rock State Park, further in towards Sedona. It is a distance of seven miles, one way, so I would likely either start early in the morning or would camp overnight at Red Rock. Either way, it’s likely to wait for March or April, with a smidgen more daylight. There are a few other trails in our area that await, and which present shorter distances, out and back.

Sudden Shifts

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December 2, 2020- As the time for my retirement (more or less) gets closer, there is still no end to the surprises and shifts that continue in the conduct of public education. I no sooner was told my scheduled assignment for today had been canceled, than I got a call for three days-thus taking me through this week.

The next surprise: Friday will most likely be my last day of work for the calendar year. This is due to the school districts going online again, beginning Monday. I am strictly an in-person educator, as far as public schools are concerned. I helped a few children when attempting online instruction, but it was tough, which is likely one reason why the previous assignment was canceled-as online instruction was part of it.

This will prompt a re-assessment of my schedule for the next two weeks, but change is a constant. There is always a lot to do. For tomorrow and Friday, my young charges are glad that I came back. They are not thrilled about going back to online learning, so I hope that streaming technology, at least, can make things vivid for them. The chances of them going back to in-person learning, in January, will depend on COVID levels at that time. I will be taking on only special assignments, in the new calendar year, in any event.

Staying personally disciplined is, and will be, the only thing that will keep me standing-regardless of the swiftness or degree of changes. So, it will remain- Rise early, keep serving and stay steadfast in both exercise and faith. That, and be discerning with regard to the claims to reality, of disparate groups.

Limits

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November 20, 2020-

I cut off all contact with an online magazine today, after about four months of reading sometimes disingenuous articles and abiding others that are perilously naive in their pronouncements.

Over these many years, some have told me that I have the patience of Job. This is largely true, when I am dealing with children or teenagers, and see that they are not hiding behind cunning or willful deceit. Some people just need what seems like forever to make changes. I know that it was true of me, so to penalize another soul for what I did wrong, seems worse than callow.

This was a day of turning aside from those who persist in deflecting attention from the legal maneuvers being conducted, relative to a recent election, by pointing to supposed crimes committed by someone who can barely get out of his own way. It was a day of leaving an online session which was degenerating into pointless argument. It was a day of me telling myself that I am going to limit my presence on Zoom still further, with only my promised hosted sessions, and a handful of others, keeping me tied to the chair, laptop and neck pillow. One could easily become a permanent resident of The Chair and Screen.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I have no time for the trivial and nitpicky-and even less use for those who are still harping about Barack Obama-or Ronald Reagan, for that matter. There are huge issues to be faced, which can ONLY be faced, and resolved, by a unified front. One would think that COVID-19 would have made that very clear, but no-it may take a whole lot more to bring the bickering fringes to a place of sensibility. When that happens, I’ll be hard at work on solutions-just give me a call, or even a Ping.

As for my critics, I have taken advice, from friend and foe alike, about cybersecurity-adding several passwords, facial recognition and two-step verification. I have some more work to do, in that regard. I am not, however, going to devote any attention to self-absorbed narcissists, nor do I care one iota about what Rudy Giuliani thinks that Hunter Biden did. Both are dysfunctional people, in need of help.

Keep the eyes front and center, people.

With These Blessings,….

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November 9, 2020-

I sat here at my combination laptop table/gratitude altar, during the second of three Zoom meetings, this evening, and marveled at how my week’s schedule has evolved. Four work assignments have presented themselves- today being a short three-hour session with intermediate schoolers, whose classmates in the hybrid set-up will be my charges, tomorrow.

Thursday will be an early start day, with small groups of reading enrichment students, at the primary level. Friday, I will be with a class of first graders. Earlier this season, my plan for the end of this week was to head up to Painted Desert/Petrified Forest. Then came a second wave of COVID-19 which, while not dissuading me from the journey, did create a teacher shortage. Thus, my personal time is a weekend affair. Whether I head up that way, for a shorter time, will be determined later in the week.

There are many blessings that come in the guise of trouble. For me, being with children of any age is high on that list. COVID is the trouble and they are the blessings. Being able to visit friends in Sedona on Friday evening, then go no further than Homolovi State Park on Saturday, and being back for my weekly devotional on Sunday, would be a perfect weekend alternative.

Wednesday is Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day and the auspicious 11/11. The blessings of a midweek holiday come not only in the respect shown us as military veterans or in the free or discounted meals, but in the awareness that something I did, as part of a larger effort, made a big difference.

I am feeling blessed to live among people who can see the forest for the trees, and don’t altogether get rattled. If there is illness, momentary discomfort or a bit of inconvenience, there is a roadmap to getting past those things, and more of us are aware of this, than not.

The last few weeks of being a sixty-something are shaping up to be ever more filled with bounties.

What Now?

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November 7, 2020-

The increased likelihood of a Democratic President, come January 20, happened on the day which, for Buddhists, commemorates Siddhartha Gautama’s return to Earth, after three months of teaching in the celestial realm. This, to the Buddhist faithful, is a day of great change and seeping portent.

To the rest of us, it has also been a day of great change and portent, whether one approves of the changes that will be taking place, or not. As with four years ago, I say “Give the next president a chance, and be ready to hold him to account, if large segments of the populace are ignored or left in limbo.”

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Capitalize on the reported friendship you have with Mitch McConnell. Maintain the law enforcement activity that is so close to former Judge McConnell’s heart: Fighting the trafficking of women and children. He was one of the forces behind the foundation of the very effective organization, Shared Hope International, one of the better programs advanced by conservative Republicans over the past several decades.
  2. Also, neither one of you wants to be seen as a deficit dove, so, given your self-comparison to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, dive into the summoning all Americans to help rebuild our infrastructure- get more done, with less Federal expenditure. Help counteract the sentiment that we ought stop asking what we can do for our country. Encourage market-led innovation and climate-enhancing changes. Continue to build on your predecessor’s one HUGE contribution: Looking after our military and veterans.
  3. Get out of Dodge- Washington or Wilmington more, at least for the first year or two. I recommend, starting in February-pick a city in each of the four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest and West, and hold a Town Hall in each one. Do this, monthly, until you have held such a gathering in each of the 50 states.
  4. Like your predecessors, be the Comforter-in-Chief. Aside from the Town Halls, be present for those communities which suffer natural or human-caused disasters.
  5. Be inclusive- Let’s return to the days when the President acknowledged not only Christian Holy Days, but those of other Faiths, as well. This was something at which Barack Obama excelled, but in which Donald Trump was less than interested. Be a cheerleader for the major sporting events, and yes, that includes NASCAR.
  6. Show that you trust Science- especially in facing down COVID-19. Be bold enough to also face down those who don’t see the COVID threat as real. The sooner more of us follow disease-fighting protocols willingly, the sooner the disease will no longer hold us in its vise-like grip.
  7. Finally, let the world know you see all of its parts as worthy of respect. Return us to partnerships which both help American prosperity and advance global co-operation. Attend crucial international gatherings, and encourage a two-way travel street- visiting some other countries each year and hosting their leaders here. There is plenty of anticipation, as there always is, when leadership looks set to change. Use the wealth of talent at your disposal, to build a dynamic, forward-looking, yet grounded, team. Godspeed, Mr.President-elect.

As The Saints, and Others, March

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November 1, 2020-

I read, this morning, about a sheriff in North Carolina who had his force fire pepper spray at a group of people who were marching towards a voting center. Our sheriff’s department here would do no such thing, nor would the city police. I do know that I would be mightily incensed by any attack on small children or elders, such as reportedly took place in that community. I would seek the removal of the offending officers, all the way to the top.

Last night, I drove downtown, wearing a 70s-style wig, and parked in a two-hour space. It was amazing, how many people were out and about, as if nothing was amiss. I opted to not set up my table, outside the apartment, this year, out of concern for public health. It seems many of my fellow citizens had no such qualms, though most of the costumed children and teens were wearing COVID-protocol masks. Still and all, I will do what I can to minimize the risk of infection. It was comforting enough, to go to a couple of favoured outdoor spots and listen to live music. My candy intake was limited to a frozen Mr. Goodbar Mini, which I found under a cold pack in the freezer.

Today is All Saints Day, which I recall from my days as a Roman Catholic as a time to honour all who have gone on, after living lives of service to others-or have at least earned the favour of highly-placed church officials. I still believe it’s a good thing to show appreciation for the good and decent people who came before us. They don’t have to be perfect, even if they are bestowed with the title “Saint”.

Tomorrow, at the end of Dia de los Muertos, I will find out whether I need to prepare to spend four days in jury duty. In the meantime, tomorrow will be a day for getting my car serviced, my body chiropractically-adjusted and laundry done. It may also be a good day for a haircut. I will refrain from eating any sugar skulls, though.

Birth Month is off to a fine start.

One Storm Has Passed

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October 26, 2020-

It was forecast, last week, that we would have some rain and/or snow today. This being Prescott, in a La Nina year, that didn’t happen. Up country did get some snow, and for those of us downriver, that is a secondary comfort.

That storm has gone on towards the Plains. There will be several others, in mid-November and afterward. Meanwhile, the storm of COVID continues, with more people getting infected, nationwide-and around Arizona. I maintain my protocol and keep my immune system strong.

There will be a series of storms over how Justice-designate Amy Barrett will vote on any number of issues, well before any vote is taken by the Supreme Court. I repeat my own appeal: What sort of world do you wish to leave to your children, Madame Justice? A world in which conceived children are protected, even if they, like me, have additional needs, is a fine one-AND it should be a world in which all mothers and all abortion survivors, are envelped in love and recovery.

Health care is a human right. Pre-existing conditions should never be a pretext for denying care, because of money. If that had never been the case, Penny might still be here, As it is, a dear friend, in Texas, is seeing the love of her life suffer, because his physician will not treat his illness; nor will a laboratory allow him to enter their facility, to test his blood. Ethics has taken a holiday, it seems.

Voting is a right, for ALL adult citizens, including those of colour; including those who espouse a philosophy that disagrees with that of the sitting president. I hope the Supreme Court will remember that, when they are again asked to curb voting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, later this week. Certainly, the converse is also true-anyone is as free to vote for the sitting president, as they are to vote for either one of his principal opponents.

Everyone who is created is a child of God. That a person may not fit the mould set by an exlusive, exclusionary group of human beings, does nothing to cancel out his/her humanity. We have had this back-and-forth, for as long as humans have been on this planet. Other intelligent beings-such as dolphins and elephants, practice exclusion and are given to bullying. We, humans, are a cut above, and it’s high time we act like it. I have had to set a few people outside my circle, for reasons of self-preservation. It would not take all that much, for them to be welcomed back in-and in any case, I will never seek to deny them their basic rights.

I say this, to those I love dearly, but who are making the case for punishing people whose sexual orientations are not the same as theirs, or mine. It does not fall to any of us, to act as arbiters of private behaviour. We can, and should, protect the innocent from the nefarious-but beyond that, adults engaged in private behaviour that harms no one else, should be left alone.

These storms will continue to rage, and I stand firm until they pass.

The Hotel Project, Day 12

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October 6, 2020, Dallas-

In the end, the world held together.

Everyone facing forced relocation from the hotel was granted an extension-until the passage of Hurricane Delta; one lady was reunited with her clothing and another with her cellular phone; a young man mocked the mission of the Red Cross and was met by Mama Grizzly, our team leader, defending both her staff and our charges; everyone was fed and all the children were comforted; there was, however, no Pet Parade.

On this roiling and ever-changing day, we, Team Anatole, held our ground and were fortunate to be able to reassure the beleagured ones in our midst, that their world was being held together. They will be safe and sound, and they will formulate their own plans for going forward. The chrysalis will prove to have been a good place for emergence. The crucible will be viewed as a worthy vessel, from which a far greater community will energe.

For five of us, the Hotel Project has come to an end. The rest of the team, including our replacements, will press on, and finish the work, caring for the refugees, until every last storm victim is either relocated within Texas or has returned to Louisiana to rebuild home and fortune.

I saw snippets of events in the wider world, and that little has changed. I continue to pray for all who suffer from COVID-19, for those who offer themselves as leaders and for all who are deluded, in one direction or another. Prayers also, go out for those who are suffering in place.

I have no money to give to suffering Africans and South Asians, or anyone else, for that matter. I also ask for nothing, FROM anyone else. Love, though, goes out on abundance, and that is what truly matters.

See you again tomorrow.