Different Home Fronts

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January 16, 2020-

It was a productive day, for me and my charges, at Peach Springs School.  I will go back, on Tuesday, for at least next week’s instructional days.  Whatever happens, I feel a strong bond with a few students, right out the gate.  The Hualapai remind me, strongly, of the Hopi and Dineh- and there are people in Peach Springs who have, and always will have, my heart.

This Home Base of mine is similar, in that I have bonds with people here, too.  Like me, though, most of them come from somewhere else.  That is the difference between Native American communities and larger, more recently-settled towns and cities.  The friends here are no less precious, but they know the reality of  moving.

I have been scolded, in the past, for being too often on the move.  None of that irritability, strangely, has come from my Native American friends.  They sense that what occurs naturally, organically, is for the best.  Indeed, several of the students spoke fondly, of their own family trips- to Las Vegas, primarily.  It’s the nearest large city, so they do their Mall visits in the area south of the Strip.

This weekend, prior to  my landing the present assignment, I had planned on going up to Valley of Fire, east of the entertainment mecca.  I have an inclination to put that excursion on hold, and head over to a closer hiking destination, on Sunday and Monday.  Some home fires just tend to burn more evenly, when left smoldering for a few days.

The Golden Path

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January 1, 2020-

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My daughter-in-law and I wandered up the easier of two trails leading to the saddle overlooking the rocky summit of Thumb Butte, one of Prescott’s signature landmarks.  It was about the fifteenth time, I’ve been up there, and Yunhee’s first.  As we spotted four intrepid rock climbers and a dog, in the area shown above, I thought of all I’ve faced and overcome, in the past ten years, and how much there is still ahead.  I have not wanted to walk in the area of the the summit, not because of fear, but for concern it may be damaging to the ecosystem, as no regular trail goes beyond the saddle.  Evidently, the area is safe enough, even at this time of year-with its ice and snow.  So, I could very well be up there, in the near future.

The path ahead, in this new decade, could diverge in any one of a number of ways, and as with anyone, the choice is mine as to which I take.  Those closest to me here have lives and dreams of their own, some of which might involve me, and others in which I need not be included.  That comes with the territory of a late-sixty-something, and I am just glad to have them in my life.

The converse, of course, is also true.  I feel the pull of the road, to my greater tribe, and I feel a bond with one soul, above all, here in Prescott.  My little family is a key factor, too. They will live in the Dallas area.  There will be much that will become clearer, as the winter proceeds, fades and passes.  That I am happy with whatever road, on which my spirit guides take me, has been evident from the last decade.

These next five months will be fairly serene, or so I think now.  My focus will be on generating as much work as possible, whilst working around a few volunteer commitments and personal appointments.  Travel-wise, Valley of Fire State Park, east of Las Vegas, beckons in mid-January; I will take in a concert in Indio, CA, in late February and various outings around Arizona, some on the spur of the moment, will happen during Winter and Spring.

The Golden Path led up Thumb Butte, today, and could lead just about anywhere, over the year, and decade, ahead.  May your paths be fruitful, also.

Mindfulness, Murals and A Milestone

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July 22-27, 2019, Carson City-

In my life since 2011, there have been a few constants:  My community in Prescott, wherever my son is,  Birth Family on the East Coast, friends all over the country and my northern Nevada family, here and in Reno.

I have made at least one stop here, each year since 2012, when  I joined Michele and Tom on a road trip to the Bay Area, for a Baha’i commemorative.  He passed on, a year later, making a visit with Michele, like a sister to me, that much more urgent.  The kids are always a good part of the mix, to say the least.  So, when V was given a part in a community theater’s rendition of “The Little Mermaid”, I set aside this week for my annual jaunt.

After a veritable pit stop in Prescott, I drove up to Kingman, on Sunday evening.  That cut three hours off Monday’s drive which, other than slow traffic stemming from an accident, just shy of the state line.  I noted that Rosie’s Den, a place in White Hills, where I had stopped a few times, to and from Nevada, had closed.  Iron Horse Cafe, in Henderson, was my first stop.  Being still the morning commute rush, as I passed through Las Vegas, no stops were made there.

That meant lunch was in Beatty, about 3/8 of the way north.  This old mining town has its funky side- the huge Death Valley Nut and Candy Store and, until last year, a motel in an old trailer park.  Then, there is Sourdough Saloon, where one enters-finds an empty bar (before noon, anyway) and goes in the back, where a lone waitress is glad to see anyone.

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The fare at Sourdough is simple, but on par with road food I’ve found anywhere. For some reason, Pastrami Cheeseburgers are a fairly big thing in western Nevada.  Sourdough’s is tender and moist.

I hadn’t noticed on earlier passes through town, but looking at the ridge north of Beatty, it seems a Teddy bear is keeping watch.

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Another constant on my drives north is a stop at Beans and Brews, a small coffee house inside Three Deserts 76 gas station, in Tonopah.  The shop is run by high school and college students, who never drop the ball when it comes to congenial service and generous portions of iced coffee, espresso and lattes.  (Photo, courtesy of  http://www.beans andbrews.com)

 

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The rest of the drive was made easier by the stop at B & B.  I noted that Walker Lake is higher, this year, than in the past seven.  The word is that the flow from Walker River has been increased.

Much of Michele’s focus, and mine, is on the little family of four:  V, her parents and infant brother.  Father is a multifaceted artist, whose work includes murals.

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The week included many long conversations about mindfulness and holistic health (always a concern with us Boomers), the efficacy of  fairy tales (specifically the message presented by some Disney versions) to child development, and how best to approach the welter of social movements in our time.  Chess with V was actually more challenging than one would think it would be, with a 7-year-old opponent.  She has a fine analytical mind. We each won a match.

The play, Friday night, featured V as one of the Starfish.  They appeared in one scene, dancing to the song, “Under the Sea”.  It was heartening to see the turnout- a packed house for opening night.  As with any child, I leave it to V’s parents to determine whether to share photos from the occasion.

Here, though, is a video clip of the song.

 

It’s been another good week, which I hope augurs well for Fall up here.  I know that my own autumn will be a full one.

 

 

 

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.

The 2018 Road, Day 1: Prescott to Carson City

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May 27, 2018, Carson City-

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One of my consistent stops, on this particular drive, is to check on the condition of Lake Mead,  a major reservoir of the Colorado River system.

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As you can see, the lake’s level is rather low.  In a good year, the lake’s water level would be above the first shoreline ridge.  It’s been quite a while since the last good year.

I began my journey around 9:20 this morning, then drove to West Side Lilo’s, in Seligman, a town about 1  1/2 hours northwest of Prescott.  A Lilo’s breakfast is sufficient for the entire day, so I would need nothing but a bowl of salad, once I got to Carson City, 11 hours later.

I topped off with gas in Kingman, and after the brief welfare check of Lake Mead, zipped through Las Vegas, stopped at Amargosa Valley to pick up gifts at the Area 51 Alien Center, for a little girl up here, and stretched a bit.  The rest of the journey, through territory I have detailed in years passed, was very smooth, with little traffic.  Coffee at Beans & Brews, on the south edge of Tonopah, was my only reason to stop the rest of the way.  B & B is also a staple of my northwest-bound jaunts.

Four hours later, I found my way to this apartment that will be home for the next two days or so.  There are a growing number of places that afford me this kind of feeling, and to me, this is the true wealth, to have what feels like family, in each part of the country.

Ahead of me are a one-day intensive training session for a Baha’i course and quality time with the aforementioned child.

After The Blood Harvest

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October 3, 2017, Prescott Valley-

I attended a small candlelight vigil, this evening, at a Lutheran Church on this town’s near north side.  About a dozen people prayed and lit special candles for the victims of the October 1 mass murder in Las Vegas.

I will be processing this horrific event for some time.  Along with smaller, but no less terrible, if personalized, events happening within my small circle, the Las Vegas massacre  has given October an ominous start.  October is a month traditionally devoted to harvest, in the Northern Hemisphere, and planting, in the South of the planet.

The killer, who may, or may not, have had help and encouragement from as far away as the Philippines, left no obvious motive for his mayhem.  We are only left to speculate, which is ever a perilous thing, in and of itself.

The motives of a person, within my neighbourhood, who has taken in recent days to harassing the family of my departed next door neighbour, are much clearer.  He sees them as something of a threat to the value of his property.  This has led him to taunting them, in the midst of their grief.  I am hoping, and praying, that this state of affairs will be resolved peacefully.

Yet, therein lies a key to the entirety of crimes against humanity, large and small.  The enemy, as I said last night, is anonymity.  Many believe, with Robert Frost, that “Good fences make good neighbours”.  While a measure of privacy is good for each of us, in the course of a day, there is a fine line between that reasonable privacy and anonymity.  No one seems to know much about the Las Vegas killer.  No one knew much about others of his ilk, either, from John Wayne Gacy, through Ted Bundy and Gary Tison, to the ISIS-inspired killers in San Bernardino, Brussels and Manchester.

I am a relatively quiet man, who has lived alone for the past six years.  This could very easily lead to people concluding that I am a threat to their safety, especially if I were to maintain a reclusive lifestyle.  Indeed, there are a few restaurants in my town where I am not welcome, when dining alone.  Thus, for the broader sake of becoming familiar to my neighbours, as well as for my own sense of well-being, I have chosen to be active in certain community groups.  It also helps that I have no hidden agenda or any particular mental health issues, unless one regards my mild autism as such.

The latest national tragedy will only see the silver lining of reconciliation, if we as a nation begin to recognize that anonymity and excessive guardedness are what got us into this mess, in the first place.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXIV: Vegas, and Then Some

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October 2, 2017, Prescott-

We’ve lost another fifty or so, of humanity’s better angels.

People who just wanted to have a good time,

leave the rat race behind, for a day or three,

found the rats were relentlessly pursuing them.

I have no sympathy for anyone who thinks

that life should revolve around the Exalted Self,

even when that narcissism is cloaked in pain.

One whose life experience is one, in which he

has drawn pain to himself like a magnet,

does not get to decide, as a self-appointed demigod,

what others should do, when they may do it,

and whether they are allowed to live past it.

The weapon really doesn’t matter.

Last night, it was a plethora of loaded firearms.

In past bloodlettings, it was a bomb, or a number thereof.

Vehicles have been accessories of said explosives,

in Brute Fests, from Oklahoma City, through 9/11/01 (and 9/11/12),

to Paris, Nice, Berlin, Bali, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando and Manchester.

This time, the brute tried to rule, literally, from on high.

There needs to be an end to anonymity,

to the culture of fences, walls and locking people out.

The weapons are accessories.

It’s the mindset that slaughters.

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XLII: More Flow than Ebb

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July 2, 2017, Sparks- 

The drive through northwestern Arizona and western Nevada, yesterday, was quite pleasant, thanks to a well-maintained vehicle and the unusual amount of energy I felt.  This last was despite having had to tend, however briefly, with a neighbourhood emergency, in the wee small hours of the morning. Long story short, when it comes to the welfare of children, or vulnerable adults, I am not going to just look at the clock and roll over, back to sleep.  Police were called, matter was resolved, and I did get back to dreamland.

One of my concerns, along the way, was the water levels of the major lakes, en route.  I stopped, briefly, for a look at Lake Mead, before doing the customary straight shot through Las Vegas.  The reservoir, which has suffered, mightily, in the drought of the past several years, has made a modest recovery, this Spring.

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The shimmering haze reflected the heat, 112 in mid-afternoon.  Needless to say, this is why I don’t tarry in LV, in July.   A brief stop at Snow Mountain, north of the valley, for a turkey wrap, was sufficient.

Another of my interests, in western Nevada and across the Mountain West, is the architecture of various mining towns.  This runs the gamut from Victorian elegance to honky-tonk kitsch.  It’s all good.  I stopped in the eclectic little town of Goldfield, between Beatty and Tonopah,  On the west side of town, there are a few examples of the latter.

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There is also plenty of faded elegance, begging for restoration. In the background, stands the vacant Goldfield Hotel.

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This is not exactly the Arc du Triomphe, but it serves as a reminder of the frontier spirit.

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My mining town fix having been satiated, I headed on, to Tonopah, stopping at one of that fine town’s newest offerings:  Beans and Brews Coffee Shop, for a much-needed boost.  Tonopah, also, has much to offer, in the way of late 19th Century memorabilia, as I’ve documented on prior trips.  I had four more hours of travel, though, so my cup of Joe was to go.

Hawthorne, just above Walker Lake, has seen my smiling face a few times.  This town, you may remember, is where my Nissan began to falter, two years ago, and my angels took over, to get it to Reno. The guys at Pizza Factory,  prepared a delicious baked spaghetti with meat sauce, which I took to an overlook, four miles north of town. Walker Lake also looks in much better shape.

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My Reno/Carson family were glad for my arrival, at 10:15 PM, and we caught up on life, for about an hour.  Today was more of the same, in the modest family home, here in Reno’s neighbour.  The kids made slime, the adults watched family-friendly movies and the menagerie kept guard.

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Wakefulness

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May 5, 2017Prescott-

I  am freshly returned from a visitation for one of Prescott’s genuine champions.The concept of waking, a seemingly odd term for remembering a departed soul, prior to burial or often, in these days, cremation, is perhaps in hopes that death is not a real thing.

I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but the life of Jayme Salazar (he pronounced his name alternately in English and in Spanish), came back before those listening to the eulogies.His childhood and adolescent antics, presented by his older sister, were reassuring to all, that a full life proceeded from that awkward time.  A lifelong friend of his recounted the man’s intense work ethic, combined with a genuine love of people, which established his Taco Don’s Restaurant as one of the city’s premier lunch venues, and a true gathering place.

He came came here from California, by way of Las Vegas, as so many of us have come here from farther afield.  Jayme found that the mountains, lakes, dells and grasslands of the area, but above all, the earthiness of the people, were a capturing force.  That he gave his life here, in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was the ultimate giving back.

Some six years ago, I saw my beloved wife go homeward, to the Light, in a more prolonged way, but not dissimilar period of service to the children and general citizenry of a western suburb of Phoenix.  Any home in which we ever lived together was open to countless people.  Any school in which she ever worked was the center of our married life, with work and love likewise moving in tandem.

So, I understood, fully, standing in the anteroom of the funeral home, this evening, that priceless spirit, that brings casual customers and acquaintances of a loving soul to a sense that here moved a lifelong friend; here lived a steadfast pillar.

To each one to whom I’ve bid farewell, these many years, let me close with the voice of Enya.

Jayme, Penny, Norm, Dad, Brian, Colonel Mortimer, Uncle George, Aunt Adeline, Margaret, Mike C. and so many standing beside you, in the Legions of Light, thank you, for having lit my way and for lighting the night.

There Is No Empty

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May 28, 2016, Carson City- The medical emergency which hospitalized an old friend, yesterday, has abated somewhat.  As is usually the case in a responsible medical institution, she has been kept overnight and will be able to leave hospital tomorrow, if her condition holds and tests turn up negative.

So, with my anxiety thus relieved, I headed north from Prescott, at a suitably early hour ( 8 A.M.), stopping for a late breakfast at Westside Lilo’s, my restaurant of choice in Seligman, a fun, touristy town, some 34 miles northwest of Prescott.  Lilo and her husband have had this German-Mexican fusion establishment since 1963.  It, along with several other places in town, do a land-office business, owing to the popularity of the area as a pit stop between Las Vegas and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.   After a lovely chorizo scramble, and some banter with Lilo, I was off again, this time without the transmission issues that clouded last year’s Reno trip.

Being a holiday weekend, traffic through Kingman and Las Vegas was a fraction of what it normally is.  I made it through the metro area in rather short time, choosing to stop at Indian Springs, on the far north side of Clark County, for a refueling.

U.S. 95 was characteristically sparse with traffic, most of it being commercial on this serene Saturday, and much of that was comprised of fuel tankers, of all things.  A spot of rain in and around Tonopah, and again in the area east of Boundary Peak, gave a bit of a shake-up to the droning drive.  Another point of interest is the transition zone between the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin.  The Joshua Trees, and other plants native to the Mojave, fade out near Coaldale Junction, about an hour north of Tonopah.  The Basin is largely grassland, at least in this area.  Salt flats are a bit more common than I remember seeing, in previous visits.  Then again, I was pre-occupied with the car last year, and may not have noticed.

Speaking of which, my stop in Hawthorne, just south of Walker Lake, was brief and uneventful this time.  A tankful of gas was all that was needed.  Looking in the restroom mirror, though, I saw a scruffy face, with an uneven shave, looking back at me.  That may have explained the “30-45 minute wait” I was offered at Pizza Factory, near the Shell station.  I moved on, taking a quick look at the lake, before heading to Carson City in greater earnest.

It is still cool here, in the eastern reaches of Sierra Nevada, and it will be a while before Mt. Grant (above, right) sheds its snow cover.

The old friend whom I am visiting these next few days  has,  this very day, moved from Reno to Carson City, closer to her younger daughter and youngest grandchild.  It is partly my purpose to help with the inevitable furniture moving and unpacking of boxes, as her settling in again continues.  After a lovely drive through the scenic Smith Valley, with its towns of Yerington, Wellington, Gardnerville and Minden, punctuated by the gorgeous West Fork of the Walker river, I found it prudent to get a hearty dinner at El Charro Avitia, on Carson City’s south end.  There, I enjoyed the delights of seafood enchilada and shared in the locals’ joy in their favoured Golden State Warriors’ come-from-behind victory.

It took a bit longer to locate my host’s new residence, but here I am, at the end of the day, and in the process helping her to note that her new apartment complex has two distinct sub-complexes.  Out of confusion comes learning.  I am fortunate to have several places where I feel like I’m with family.  Tomorrow, a little angel will explain to me the world of cartoon dragons.