Mixed Blessings

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September 29, 2018, Prescott-

I went to an annual event, this morning, with a full intention of serving, to the best of my ability.  The day started at Hope Fest with my joining the off-loading crew, that helped the vendors  of various merchandise transport their wares from vehicle to booth.  That part always goes fairly well, as there is a highly-motivated group, with no ego attachment to their work.

This year, I agreed to serve much of the day, as personal assistant to the headliner group, which, for propriety’s sake, I will not mention by name.  The group and their manager arrived, around 4:30 pm, and after introductions, I helped them settle in to the Green Room.  I took a seat,  in the meeting area, but far enough apart from the artists that they had no one looking over their shoulders, whilst they were practicing and discussing ideas about their music.

When it comes to  these sorts of things, I am like Las Vegas.  What happens in the room, stays in the room.  At this point in time, I could not and would not tell you the things that were discussed, though there was only honourable and uplifting dialogue.

For whatever reason, however, as soon as two security guards showed up, and announced themselves as the band’s detail, one of the teens who was volunteering with hospitality showed up and said the band manager, who was on the other side of the event grounds, wanted all three of us to get out of the Green Room.  We went outside, but were readmitted by the band members, five minutes later. They apologized to us and said they saw no reason for us to be out of the room.  I wondered, though, how did the manager think to get rid of us, at that particular moment?

The rest of the run-up to their performance went fine.  I got them to select a restaurant and had them write down their selections.  The manager was included, of course, via text.  The performance was lovely, and I introduced a Christian friend to the band members.  They seemed to hit it off well enough. I even got my friend, her sister and nephew prime seats near the stage.  Then, I went and got the group’s dinners and set the table in the Green Room, waiting there with another hospitality crew member. When the band returned, I prepared to go outside, whilst they ate.  That was co-opted, though, by what appeared to be a private meeting, to which I was not invited, among the crew on the sidewalk outside, followed by  a loud, angry message from the manager (still elsewhere) to our crew chief:  “Get that guy out of the Green Room!”  Well, certainly- people are normally given privacy whilst they eat. There was no need for such anger, especially when he was not at the site.  Again, I wonder, were the band members being passive-aggressive and messaging their manager, letting him be an unnecessary heavy?

Needless to say, I left the area and went to help with the breakdown of the stage and artist’s row, as I had promised the event’s founders.   That was accomplished with a much larger crew than in past years.

My takeaway, from the behaviours of both the band and my fellow crew members, is simply to take part in the set-up and breakdown of the next such event, and leave the day to the small, self-contained group, which doesn’t seem to like newcomers.  That is, if I am even invited to participate, next year.

Walking in Place

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September 23, 2017,Prescott- 

Several readers have, over the years, expressed a preference for my travel posts.  While I greatly enjoy visiting places old and new, there has been an increase in responsibilities and commitments, hereabouts, since my return from the East Coast, at the end of July.  Not the least of these is my work with autistic teens, a veritable payback to all who have guided me, over the past several decades.  There are also two major public events here in town, in October:  Hope Fest (October 14), a celebration of faith, which I will be assisting for the third consecutive year and, a week later, the Festival of Light and Unity- commemorating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 22.  As the Baha’i calendar is a lunar construct, the Birth of His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), is observed the day prior to that of Baha’u’llah.  This year marks 198 years, since al-Bab was born and we will observe that event, as well, on October 21.

My friendships being wide-ranging these days, several events tend to converge on given days. So, today, largely devoted to Prescott Stand Down, an event dedicated to serving homeless veterans in our community, took up much of the day.  I was later able to make further progress on clearing my backyard and 3-4 more hours of concerted effort ought to get the job completed, for this year.  Tomorrow, two events at the American Legion, two Baha’i activities and an hour or two helping a good friend move, will keep me honest and productive.  This coming week, there is a gathering, of one sort or another, every night.  Looking ahead to October 14, that day will see me at two other events, in addition to Hope Fest.  Life is never dull.

With regard to travel, Fall Break will be here, in two weeks.  I am in between going to Joshua Tree and Lake Cachuma, California, or down to Superior, Globe and over to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, for 4-5 days (in which case, the California trip gets done over an extended Presidents’ Day weekend). My spirit guides will advise me, on this matter, as with so many others.

Yes, I do get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as well as a 30-minute power nap, most afternoons.  Stay tuned.

Paper Erase

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June 20, 2017, Prescott-

My last day of Spring was spent, hydrating, of course.

There was a meeting for Hope Fest, the annual spiritual event,

that this year precedes the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s birth,

by a week.

My main concern, otherwise, was clearing out the dining area closets.

These were filled with lots of stationery,

extra greeting cards, loose-leaf binders, paper clips,

and a couple of board games, which were once meant

to stimulate Penny’s interest, in the last year of her life.

She loved that I tried, but it was all too much.

I will keep the games, and one box of holiday cards,

but it will likely be to the Women’s and Children’s shelter,

with the rest, tomorrow.

My clean-up goes on.

One comment was about the minimalist garden.

We will soon see a minimalist apartment.

Onward

5

January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.

 

Embrace

2

October 22, 2016, Prescott-

A number of things happened today, far and wide.  Here, I was part of a large group who celebrated faith in God, and the healing that often results from commitment, both spiritual and emotional.

There were testimonies galore, at the fifth annual Hope Fest, a fine blend of vendor booths, children’s play sites and sound stages.  There were a number of self-help groups present, a puppet theatre,  well-trained young singers who belted out show and movie tunes and inspiring musicians and performers.

There was Todd, an accomplished country and Christian singer, a living testimony to Celebrate Recovery.  There were Mia and Bill, who have weathered one emotional storm after another, to stand before a thoroughly-supportive crowd and bask in our admiration.  There was Vanessa, an immensely-gifted young lady, who painted two portraits of Jesus the Christ, to the accompaniment of the two fine acts mentioned above.  She painted Him from images in her mind.  One was Christ in the Passion and the second was the Shroud of Turin.

As with last year, my larger role was to provide moral support and physical assistance to the sound crew at the Main Stage.  This work started when Todd thanked everyone for attending and the audience began to head home, at 8:20 PM.   We finished with everything at 12:30 A.M.  That is almost two hours less than we took last year.  We certainly had  more people helping, than last year.

So, I helped good friends accomplish a  major public event- and continue to honour both Spirit and Body, in becoming far more unified.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 311: Role Models

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October 4, 2015, Prescott-  I went to view the film, “The Martian”, this evening, it being one of three offerings that pique my interest, among the films being shown at our local Picture Show Cinema.  I like that theater, because of the $5 Senior tickets.  It is always crowded, as the General tickets are also economical.

“The Martian” focuses on Matt Damon’s character, and his solitude on Mars.  An equally interesting backflow is the depiction of two strong women astronauts- the Commander (Jessica Chastain- always a force of nature) and the Engineer (Kate Mara).  The men on the crew, including Damon’s character, look upon these two as equals, if not superiors.

I’ll not say anything further about the film.  It’s too much worth seeing on your own.  The thoughts it generated in me were that we have finally reached the time, as a species, when gender should have nothing to do with limiting who is a role model for whom.  A strong woman is vital to the self-concept of young girls, AND there is much that boys can take away from her example.  This shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.  Girls have looked up to men, as character models and teachers, for hundreds of years.

When I was at Hope Fest, yesterday, the Security Team was led by a young woman, who stood 5’1″.  She had gravitas, a very strong sense of command.  This is the sort of presence that will, over time, serve to erase sexism and misogyny.  I have written, previously, of a time when my 50-year-old self worked under the supervision of an 18-year-old woman, who simply had deep knowledge of the particular situation, and was worthy of every ounce of respect I mustered.  I would not have done well in that situation, without her leadership.

We are entering  a fine New Age.

The Road to 65, Mile 310: Springing Eternal

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October 3, 2015, Prescott- This was a very long day- 5:30 A.M.- 1:15 A.M.  The wake-up was necessary, in order to be up in Flagstaff, in time for a Baha’i gathering- our region’s annual consultation session and election of a delegate to the National Convention, held  the following Spring.  It takes about two hours to go from Prescott to “Flag”.

Once we finished our session, I stayed behind to help with cleaning the hall.  I mention this only because what was waiting for me back here was:  Manning the Registration Table for volunteers at Hope Fest, a faith-based event at Courthouse Square, followed by breaking down the site, when a concert ended at 10 P.M.

Hope Fest was initiated by Evangelical Christians, four years ago, to help homeless families, and domestic violence victims, with access to programs that alleviate suffering and offer relief from the cold, in the months to come.  I joined the effort, because that’s what I do.  A lot of people were here today, as they were at earlier events that came to the aid of the disadvantaged:  Stand Down for Veterans and Empty Bowls, both in mid-September.  It’s what our community does.

Our clean-up crew spent three hours transforming the Court House grounds from “The Day After Mardi Gras” to a place prepared for the next day’s Oktoberfest gathering.  Trust me, all three dumpsters in the back were piled high, but the grounds were spotless, otherwise.  I left right at 1 A.M., walking the mile to my cozy apartment, my pants soaked with salad dressing leakage, to my chagrin and to the discomfort of a twenty-something neighbour, who held her nose as she walked past.  I totally understand- and can’t wait to get all the clothing I wore today, into the washer.

The fun part of the evening, actually, was watching the antics of my supervisor’s three pre-school age children.  As late as it was, they showed no sign of fatigue, leaving at 9:45. This newest generation, sometimes called GenZ, gives credence to Alexander Pope’s wry observation.  Hope is still springing eternal.

The Road to 65, Mile 261: Trusting the Journey

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August 16, 2915, Prescott-  It is coming down to a very telling choice.  Perhaps as early as November, maybe not until January, 2017, or at some point in between the two, my intuition is telling me it’s time to move on.

I say November, because by then, my pledges to the Yavapai County Angels and Hope Fest will have been honoured, the snows will be gathering in Massachusetts, and I don’t want to leave my mother alone, in that house where we grew up, while the rest of my family is facing stresses of their own.

I say it’s time to move on, because all my friends in this town of Prescott are doing just fine, and will continue to be fine whether I’m here or not.  Truth is, I am spending more, in a modestly expensive apartment, with minimal day-to-day work, then I have in any given month on the road, these past few years. I am not a salesman, yet I have looked to help people with a product in which I believe, but without seed money, one cannot do much in establishing an essential oils trade, and I am NOT going to go the “Fund Me” route.  I have been offered a minimum wage position as an apartment complex manager, but would still have to pay my own full rent- so that’s out.

I have had some places come into my head, in quiet moments.  I could settle in a more economical living space, live in a place where  I could pretty much walk to a school, where I could substitute teach, and a few such places have entered my consciousness.  I could also go somewhere where people live in community, not in semi-anonymity.  Places where my presence would be discomfiting to people I know online or in real time, and there are a few such people, would not be on my list of options.

These are all rather petty-sounding, I know, and many have it far worse than me.  The issue for me, though, is more existential.  It’s more a matter of no place having really felt like home, since Penny passed.  It’s more a matter of people having their own priorities and life patterns, in which someone like me does not belong.  I know, that will be the same, no matter where I go, and that will be something I have to face.  My welcome here, though, is wearing thin, and so it’s time to trust the journey and start planning ahead.

UPDATE:  I will be removing a couple of photos from a post I did on Santa Monica, a few weeks ago, and hopefully the post will be less discomfiting to those concerned.

The Road to 65, Mile 215: Challenges/Opportunities

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July 1, 2015, Prescott- As is always the case when I return from a wandering, there were lots of base camp tasks in front of me.  Not the least of these was tracking down my pile of mail, so as to get two pay checks deposited and thus stave off NSF.  I have had a good track record, since recovering from the Great Recession, and aim to keep it that way.

Finance has neither been my strong suit, nor has it been an Achilles heel.  The best way, for me, to go about life is with cash and check.  Work will be quite constant this coming academic year, and that’s a great thing.

My yard project was pretty much done for me, by the landlord himself, while I was away. He is a trouper:  That work was done during the period that Prescott, and much of the continent, endured 100+ ,for nearly three weeks.  I will keep at the process of building raised beds, so that next year, seeds may be planted.  At least the onion bulbs will go in shortly, and we’ll see how they do.

July will be prime time for volunteering, I can sense, so I will show up at things like the Fourth of July Parade, and the Red Cross float, the Hope Fest kickoff event on July 18, and whatever things Slow Food and Yavapai County Angels have going.  Then, too, there would be any disasters that happen, but we will let sleeping dogs lie, for now.

The travels?  Yes, I have gotten to be the Poster Child for wanderlust.  As another friend recently remarked, this seems to be a Sagittarrian thing.  This Sagittarian will be more inclined to short, focused bursts, for the next five years at least. There may be a faith-based trip down to Chile, late in 2016, but my primary focus is on family and friends:  My son, and a couple of good friends, in southern California; my paternal uncle, in Colorado; my soon-to-be hexagenarian brother, in Atlanta; and the bulk of my biological family, at Christmas-time, in New England.  I want to do more day trips from here, that could draw in a good friend. Finally, there are my long-neglected Native American friends in northeast Arizona, and at least one weekend in early August will see me up there.

This day finds me in a very relaxed frame of mind, ready for whatever life sends.  It’s just too hot and languid to be otherwise.