Soaking Wet

2

August 24, 2022-

When walking with a fine new book in hand,

and the clouds decided to stop expanding,

I found myself the target of drops,

and there was place to conveniently stop.

Thankfully, it took but five minutes,

to get to the safety of Home Base,

and be free from lightning’s capricious gaze.

For the first time since 2008, I found myself caught in a downpour, though it didn’t get to full intensity until after I had managed to get inside. Then, to add to the drama, there was the spectacle of a recycling bin being carried along by a torrent of water, followed by a determined neighbour walking after it, despite the fact that the rain was pummeling him. Man and bin returned to their residence, just as the rain was tapering off- so I think he decided to stop under the overhang of the sports bar next door.

Friends across town later told me they had lost power, for about thirty minutes. We lost ours for a few seconds, just enough to require a couple of resets. This monsoon remains the most prolific so far this century-at least in our area, and that’s saying a lot, as I recall 2004, 05, 08 and 2010 as having served up some ferocious microbursts.

In other news, I finished my Spring & Summer reading: Gandhi, An Autobiography; The Four Agreements; Leonora in the Morning Light; The Maxwells of Montreal, Volume 1. Now come the Summer & Fall selections: John Adams; PrairyErth; Otherlands and Learn Well This Tablet. I have previously mentioned the first three listed above. “Maxwells” is an account of the initiators of the Baha’i community of Canada. I will read the second volume over the winter. “John Adams” is, of course, a biography of the second President of the United States, by the late David McCullough. “PrairyErth” is a detailed study of the topography, flora, fauna and communities of Chase County, Kansas, by William LeastHeat Moon. “Otherlands” is a scholarly exploration of Earth’s pre-human eras, from the inception of life through the Pleistocene, by Thomas Halliday. “Tablet” is a study of the Baha’i prayer, Tablet of Ahmad, by the late H. Richard Gurinsky, who I knew personally.

This weekend will hopefully take me back up to Dharma Farm, for some grounding time, before heading to Colorado in the middle of next week, for a few days. It would also be nice to get in a hike or two, visit Synergy and carry on with regular weekend morning activities. It’s been a fairly quiet and lovely month thus far, overall. September also promises to be lovely, but far from quiet.

Spirits Ever-Present

2

June 5, 2022, Paulden- The four small children set the tone for the afternoon and evening, as they always do, when I visit their family home. Of course, adult conversations flowed, and went around the little rocks that sat firm in the stream of consciousness, acknowledging their presence, their concerns and their moods. Such is the way, at Dharma Farm.

My day began with a reading of the Sunday Arizona Republic, knowing that my involvement with the print edition of the newspaper will be coming to an end soon-my journeys, and the duties that will face me locally, will only accelerate in the days and months ahead.

Celebrating the Feast of Light-one of nineteen spiritual observances, during the year, that bring us Baha’is together in devotions, consultation and fellowship, was done in person, late in the morning and around Noon. We have been observing these occasions virtually, for nearly two years, give or take a couple of random in-person gatherings, during a perceived lull in the pandemic. The disease continues to hover, over our heads and in the background, infecting more people with mild cases. Outdoor gatherings, however, seem less problematic, and so it was, this morning, in the lovely back yard of some friends.

In the afternoon, I gathered surplus garden tools, relieving my storage shed of some of its excess, took along a bag of small gift items for the children and headed up the road to Dharma Farm. The Universe, it seems, lets us all know when our time for gathering is right. The family and their crew of four had spent the past two months sowing, planting trees and working on the restoration of Whispering Winds, Dharma’s predecessor in the Verde Valley, well east of here, whose core building and energy were transported to this sacred spot. One of WW’s principal residents came by for a visit today, as well, expressing gratitude that the essence of his former home was being preserved.

The day proceeded, as a couple worked with one of the children to put together a fabulous stew. The rest of us conversed, walked the grounds and took in the shade of afternoon. Each of the tools I brought will aid their efforts and the value of the coins will set the children on a journey to the independence-and interdependence, being imparted them by their parents. Watching and listening to the little people, I am comforted, reassured, by their gentle energy, wisdom and nascent collaborative skills. There is sharing, asking one another for permission and just a general acknowledgement of one another’s dignity. These are the gifts that come from their parents, and are reinforced by the crew members, who have bonded so well with the children. It was fitting that our after-dinner activity was putting together a jigsaw puzzle, selected by the three-year-old, with three teams working on sections. A mellow circle of conversation in the glow of sunset followed, topped off by a carefully-tended fire pit, that saw us into the night.

The spiritual energy of those who surround us, despite having left their bodies behind, guides days like this, indeed guides all days. For that, I am greatly reassured and comforted.

Progress

2

May 31, 2022- After six months of diligent care for my body’s largest organ, the dermatologist gave me a clean bill of health. Safe sun screen, head covering and being sensible about time in the sun, including while driving a car, has apparently made a fair degree of difference.

I got my act together and greatly tidied up the kitchen and dining area. Three other areas remain, before my next journey begins in mid-June. Having less compunction about getting rid of stuff makes a great deal of difference, in this task. So, the bedroom, closet and storage unit remain. Many garden tools will go to Dharma Farm, this weekend, and there are several items that can be donated to the Disabled American Veterans.

I am opening up with suggestions to people who pose seemingly intractable problems-after listening to them for a time, instead of jumping right in with solutions. The latter approach just gives the plaintiff the sense that they are being brushed off. In the long run, there are no really intractable problems, but there are plenty which are very, very hard to resolve.

The other thing, which occurred to me this morning, during the running of an errand, is that my fretting over going to one clerk’s window, instead of another, is a bit on the egocentric side. This was a thing, for quite a few years-and it finally came into my consciousness that the only one who cared about such things, was me. Silly stuff like that was much more front and center, not that many years ago. I am learning to let go.

May June only hasten this sort of progress.

Sharing Popcorn With Chickens

2

September 5, 2021- As I enjoyed fresh popcorn, whilst sitting in the small outdoor shade area, the occasional dropped kernel was swiftly scooped up by one or another of the chickens that freely roamed the area.

One of the best things about visiting Dharma Farm is that I never know what the three high functioning kids, or their infant sister, will come up with, over the course of an afternoon and evening. The Farm is on the north end of the unincorporated, but populous, community of Paulden, being one of a dozen working farms that contribute to the food supply of western Yavapai County.

I first met the Schaelling-Pena family three years ago, during Convergence at Arcosanti, a pre-COVID annual gathering of some of the region’s brightest lights. While Convergence has pretty much gone by the wayside, my friendship with Landen and Holly, along with their small group of friends, has only strengthened over these few years. There were two little girls, when I first made the acquaintance of the family. Then came a little boy, two years ago, followed by Girl #3, five months ago.

The children are being raised forthrightly, and gently, by their parents. Logical consequences are part of the regimen, but guilt is NOT a tool that is being applied. They are shown how to properly handle daily tasks and are amazingly adept at things that many children have to wait until they are at least ten, before they are allowed to attempt.

I am fortunate to be one of those to whom the children have taken well, almost immediately. Of course, they take turns being effusive and reticent, as many children do-but they each know they are loved and that their feelings will be honoured and validated. I was showered with love in return, today, and the many garden vegetables and berries that were offered underscored that bond.

The chickens, and the three-legged dog, seem to sense this connection, also. Everything, within reason, is shared here.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 4: Legalese

0

September 12, 2020-

Good things happened today. My middle brother turned 65, surrounded by the Georgia branch of his family. It was good to speak with him and to hear the vibrant voices of nephew, SIL and the little ones.

I am reaching an understanding with someone who thought I could be the brains behind his operation. There are legal points, like “Conflict of Interest” and Federal tax laws that would present problems for my being the Great White Hope. I think he gets it now.

“Cuties”, the well-intentioned, but misguided, film has run into a buzz-saw of valid criticism, for its reported perseverating on the physiques of pre-adolescent girls. I haven’t seen the film, nor will I-since Creeper Status is not something with which I identify, as well as the fact that my primary role with young people, male or female, is to encourage them to avoid being objectified and to follow dreams of their own choosing. Hopefully, there will arise a sense of propriety and like misguided projects before it, “Cuties” will disappear from the media.

Our Baha’i group had its tri-monthly consultative meeting and planned out the overall course of activities, over the next three months.

That brings me to the Red Cross-and that I was already asked when I could resume Disaster Response activities. A look at the map shows why-Fire to the left of us, Storms to the right-and I will be stuck in the middle, for at least another week, as I have personal business on the last day of summer and will focus on other matters here at Home Base, in the interim.

The Farmers Market is a bustling place, with a new venue. I was happy to visit there this morning, seeing some of my better friends, locally. Next weekend will bring me to Dharma Farm, in advance of Equinox, and the Weekend of Peace will see some events, both on Zoom and in the park across the street from me.

With that, let’s all take a deep breath, to the extent possible, in a climate of widespread smoke.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 61: What I Want In August, Part I

5

July 31, 2020-

My parents were wed seventy-one years ago, today. They got to be together, in the flesh, for thirty-seven of those years. They left several good road maps for us, and Mom is still blazing the trail of how to live long and prosper. I was thinking, last night, that I will be honoured to live into my nineties, perhaps even hitting the Century Mark. I would, however, have to be of use, to have most, if not all, of my faculties.

Today, so far, has been quieter than the previous two. I received a message from an African friend, for whom I had written a project proposal, bemoaning that those to whom we had sent copies of the proposal had not responded as yet. It’s been a week, so my take is, check in with them weekly, until mid-August. He asked me to send each of them a montage of photos of the worksite. I can do that,around some other tasks that have arisen, since I turned fostering of the project back over to him. Life does not stand still.

I have thought about what I want to do, in my own sphere, as well. As hard as life is for many people, I cannot just put myself into one hundred percent abnegation, though some will no doubt find that odious of me to say. There actually isn’t all that much that I want for myself, though.


August is said to be a month of masculine energy, so the first thing I want to do is to bring some health supplies to a rendezvous point at Holbrook, close to the Navajo Nation, which is still itself off limits to outsiders, due to COVID. In Holbrook, I will meet the same friend who I met in Flagstaff, in the Spring, to transfer the items. That is Monday’s agenda.

Synergy, the health elixir cafe operated by friends in Sedona, reopens on August 8, so that will be my place of refuge and celebration, next weekend. “Double” days are most often special to me.

I also miss my farmer friends in Paulden, up north just a bit, so maybe the afternoon of the 16th will find me there. The following weekend, Friday- Sunday, will likely be a time to visit Bisbee, a vibrant and eclectic Southern Arizona cousin to Prescott

The month will climax with Farm-to-Table Dinner, on the 29th, and unless the COVID cops declare our most stringent safety precautions inadequate, I will be among the masked and gloved servers and busers, tending to a smaller, but no less fervent, group of patrons of our vibrant Farmers’ Market.

What I want is for life to go on, carefully of course, but not dancing to the tune of one group of tyrants or another.

Thoughts on A Serene Saturday

6

January 4, 2020-

Today had no particular agenda.

There will be lots of days like that.

They sustain me, sustain us,

through the frenzied course

of other days.

It was mild today,

and those who were

not made ill,

by the recent cold snap,

were out in force,

at Farmers’ Market.

I met my Dharma family

and a serene, lovely grandmother,

who was winding up her visit.

I see where L gets his sense

of calm purposefulness.

A long “update”

of my New Year’s

produced a few

stifled yawns from the

otherwise attentive vendor.

I’ll know to keep my

quotidia to myself,

in the future.

I said farewell,

this afternoon,

to four place mats,

which have been

in our households

for nearly twenty years.

It’s time for refurbishing,

one step at a time.

Apartment supe

liked the lasagna

he got for the holidays.

So, it’s been a quiet one,

and a fine day for reflection

and figuring out practical matters.

Honouring

7

February 3, 2019, Paulden, AZ-

Whilst many of my fellow humans were watching what started out as a Stupour Bowl, I chose a different route for a fine Sunday afternoon:  Revisiting friends at Dharma Farm, an unassuming, but loving little settlement, on the west side of this unincorporated community in northern Yavapai County.

The family’s older child decided I was a fun companion, so we built, and dismantled, several mud villages. This child is a true Shiva, great at building and destroying  items of wood and mud, alike.  When the digging got old, and child decided it was “cold”, we went inside and she regaled the lot of us with a very expressive series of dances, in her best party dress.  Then it was time for me to make a blanket fort, which she occupied very happily, for forty-five minutes. Finally, I became a blanket-covered creature, called Swaug-as the only sound it makes is a low, guttural “Swaug!”   This went on for another hour or so.

Such is the world of a bright, imaginative three-year-old.  The family lives, and the children are being raised on, a system of honouring: Honour each other’s space; each other’s work; each other’s presence; each other’s dignity and worth.  If time were taken, by anyone, to practice this code, how much higher would the state of peace be?

Life at Dharma is not letter perfect- The above-mentioned child has her life lessons to learn and there were fatigue-caused meltdowns, from both children.  The honour system will help address these concerns, as will the violence-free regimen of their parents.  The couple’s commitment to Permaculture, a work in progress, will also contribute greatly to the little farm’s thriving.

A review of an astrological concept:  The north node, its notion of “past lives” aside, did explain to me the basis for some difficulties and conflicts I’ve had in my actual past.  It is, in many ways, a spot-on psychological analysis.  It basically notes, in a largely accurate manner, that the Infinite, as the author refers to the Universe, will unfold life as it is intended to unfold, and that how one reacts to both challenges and triumphs alike, determines the degree of one’s happiness and feeling of satisfaction, or the lack thereof.  This gave rise to a discussion of just what the nature of successive lives might be.  I do not believe in continuous rebirths as human beings, and it turns out, neither do my friends.  We concur that there are different beings, or levels of being, which follow this one.

It was an interesting day, capped by roasted vegetables and a green/beet salad. I learned, soon enough, that the Super Bowl was a low-key affair, with a predictable ending.  On our lives go, as, for the most part, intended.

Lightness Is

7

January 12, 2019, Flagstaff-

I set out for this mountain community, which was my home in 1980-81, with a view towards determining the level of untended littering in one National Monument:  Sunset Crater, during the ever-longer government shutdown. As we’ll see, the amount was rather light.

The day started with my feeling weighted down, by what, I still have no idea.  My mood was lifted, though, by meeting a delightful little family from Dharma Farm, a place of which I’ve written in the past, whilst making my usual rounds  at Prescott Farmers Market.  I will re-visit Dharma more often, during the remainder of winter and into spring.  Their commitment to permaculture is something of which I want to learn more, prior to any post-retirement move I might make.  Permaculture will be described further, in subsequent posts, as well.

Back to Flagstaff, and Sunset Crater.  I found few other people visiting the park.  Three tourists did drive past the semi-porous barricades and further into the park.  As it happens, a Federal park ranger is on site and drove into the area, quickly sending the visitors back the way they came.  Only a Dineh man, with grandfathered visiting rights to any area of Sunset Crater and nearby Wupatki (some park lands were purchased, by eminent domain, from a handful of Dineh (Navajo) families), in the 1930’s), was allowed to drive his truck behind the barricades.

I  went on foot, for about a mile, into the park and found little trash along the road-and none on the trail I took.  There were some lovely views, though.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After it was apparent that my mission did not warrant further exploration of the park, especially with the ranger working without pay, I headed back into town, and parked in a formerly free lot.  Flagstaff has taken a page from other tourist-dependent communities, and charges $1 per hour to park along downtown streets or in its off-street lots.  I find this reasonable, though some visitors grumbled that there are not “freshly-paved” streets that would “warrant” such a charge.  Go figure.

I found the usually congenial folks at Pizzicleta, an artisan thin-crust eatery, to be a bit grumpy and unusually reserved.  One of the servers mentioned how tired they were, though the place had barely been open for twenty minutes.  Maybe it is the preparation that is enervating.  The food was still great, though, which is what matters most.

Now, it’s time to head to Winslow, an hour to the east, and find a spot at my favourite motel there.  Tomorrow, I hope to head up to the Hopi Nation, to visit long-time friends.  The Bean Dance is coming.

 

The Old Year’s New Friends

2

December 30, 2018, Prescott-

This fading year brought new people and places into my life, and filtered this life, quite vigourously.

My new friends, both online and in real time, have greatly enriched my life- being both sweet/warm and hot/ferocious.  One needs both in a balanced life.  I am blessed with a new daughter-in-law;  two wonderful branches of a blended family being brought into ours-courtesy of another family  wedding this past summer; a very bright and much-loved grandniece born in February; a smattering of vibrant, creative friends, from this year’s Convergence at Arcosanti; all manner of beloved souls from that site called “Archaeology for the Soul” and so many with whom I just happen to bond, in my wanderings both physical and ethereal.

I have filtered some- though I continue to feel great love for a place called Dharma Farm, prudence has led me to keep physical distance from there, for the time being.  A brief encounter with a distraught soul, this past Autumn, was also brought to an end, at her insistence, and no doubt with the blessing of the Universe.  I am more in tune with the needs of a good friend, here in Prescott.  Communication is everything!  I also dispensed with Twitter, though that means saying farewell to some friends who are only reachable on that medium.

This year brought some new cafes and restaurants into my life, here in town: Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Firehouse Coffee, Outlaw Donuts , Rosati’s Pizza and Danny B’s (actually in Chino Valley). I have lost none of my older faves here, save Black Dog Coffee,which bid us farewell in November.

New to me, on the road, this year, are Old Town Albuquerque; Moriarty (NM); Salina (UT); Sedalia (MO); Nauvoo and Carthage (IL); Ridgeview Grill ( Wilmette); Lafayette/West Lafayette/Prophetstown State Park’Tippecanoe and Mishawaka (IN); Ridgetown and London (ON); Toronto; Auberge Bishop, Chicha Donburi and La Pantere Verte (Montreal); Plattsburgh/Ausable Chasm (NY); Valley Forge; Alexander Inn and Independence Hall (Philadelphia);  Hostels International, Fort McHenry and Iron Rooster (Baltimore); the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay; Jamestown/Yorktown/ Virginia Beach/Newport News; Louis Gregory Baha’i Institute/Hemingway (SC); Hot Plate (Timmonsville,SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken); Calhoun Falls State Park /Edgefield (SC); Falls Park on the Reedy/Smoke On The Water (Greenville, SC); Walterboro (SC); Salisbury and Asheville (NC); Crossville (TN); Hostel Memphis/Young Avenue Deli/The National Museum of Civil Rights/Arcade Restaurant/Beale Street (Memphis); Old Town Alexandria. Each of these just added richness to this much blessed life and I would gladly visit any of them again.

NEXT:  Hails and Farewells