One, Two, Three, Four- The Plans

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January 22, 2018, Prescott-

Every so often, I come out with details of my plans for this or that.  One year (day, month) at a time, I have been advised.  That makes sense for anyone my age, on up.  So my plans for this year, 2018, ought to be a foundation for what comes next.

This year, I will work, diligently, both at my day job- which will see an uptick in the number of students we have, come August, and at my financial effort, which is, admittedly, still in its fledgling state ( I can hear the Boo Birds, now- “There he goes again!”), but is being pursued, carefully, with a lot of expert support.  This will bring me to San Diego, the fourth weekend in March, for a mentoring conference.  Prior to that, I will have had nearly 60 hours of training and mentoring calls.  I have detailed other travel plans, in a previous post, and those still stand for next month, and for May-June.  An uptick in income would also allow me to join other mentoring events.

That covers the number one.  “Two” takes in 2019.  Next year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab, the immediate predecessor of Baha’u’llah, and His Herald.  This event, marked in late October, will be the overarching event of the year, for me and for millions of others.  My summer travels will bring me back to the Pacific Northwest, and southeast Alaska.  My work and financial ventures will continue apace. Then, too, who knows what the Universe will add on to all that?

“Three” brings us to 2020.  As I turn 70, in November of that year, its March will see my final physical Fast, under Baha’i law.  The Fast will have spiritual import for me, the rest of my life, but abstaining from food and beverages will not apply, once I reach the age of seventy.   I hope to be at, or past, my financial goals by New Year’s Day of that year.  Travel wise, I am looking at a Trans-Canada (BC to Newfoundland) road trip, in June and July.

“Four” means 2021.  This year will mark the Centenary of the Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah’s eldest son and His Successor, as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  My longtime readers may remember that, in 2012, we commemorated the centennial of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America.  2021 will, thus,also be a special year for us Baha’is.

For me, personally, it will bring the end of my full-time employment as an educator.  I have ambitious, but still tentative, plans for international travel.  Besides those, I will be more active on the volunteer front, in whatever community (ies) I may find myself, once “retired”.

So there are the substances of numbers one through four, as they pertain to my humble life.  Many of these could very well come to pass, though the Universe does throw a curve at each of us, every so often!

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXI: Near and Far

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April 8, 2017, Prescott-

I went to the Farmers’ Market, this morning, and attended a Red Cross Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.  Then, I went back to Home Base and cleared the first of nineteen sections of a weed-filled back yard.  I am old school, when it comes to such things.  Herbicide and gasoline-operated weed whackers don’t appeal to me.  Pulling weeds up by the roots is tedious, but it has no side effects.  I also won’t wreck the beautiful tulips that are gracing the yard.

I chose to stay in, this evening, just for the sake of it.  In the process, I find myself wanting to note the things that are dear to my heart about each region of the United States- at least the contiguous area, with which I am most familiar.

So, I love the Southwest for its lush deserts, its canyons and their limitless surprises, mountains that rise like sky islands, the wildlife that seems so furtive and yet so likely to pop out of hiding, at a moment’s notice.  Its superlatives are the Grand Canyon, Nevada’s Valley of Fire and Cathedral Gorge, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Kartchner Caverns.  Its most sublime surprises are Canyon de Chelly, Slide Rock,  Thumb Butte, Picacho Peak, Quitobaquito, White Sands and Great Sand Dunes.  The revelations are the best of all:  Superior, AZ; Mancos, CO; Pioche, NV; Truth or Consequences and Chama, NM; Loa, UT.   Prescott will always feel like home, and so will Tucson, Flagstaff, Hopi, Dinetah, Reno-Carson City, the Front Range and Superior.

California is in several classes by itself.  The sunny (until this year) south; the interchangeable mountains and deserts of the east; the intense vegetation of the north.  It has been a home away from Home Base, for as long as I’ve lived in Arizona.  Its superlatives are Yosemite, Mount Shasta, the Coastal Redwoods, frenetic Los Angeles and exquisite San Francisco.  San Diego and Julian will always be welcoming, family places. Coastal Orange County, Palos Verdes, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes and Mount Lassen define inspirational.  There is no such thing as a boring Spanish colonial mission.  Revelatory, to me, are little towns like Banning, Brawley, Ojai, Willits, Lomita, Woodfords and Yreka.

The  Pacific Northwest defines majesty.  Nothing outdoes the Olympic Peninsula, the Oregon Coast, Rogue River Gorge, the North Cascades or the canyons carved by the Snake and Columbia Rivers.  Portland and Seattle exude creativity and cultural diversity.  The islands of Puget Sound and the Straits abound with familial small communities:  Anacortes and Friday Harbor stand out, in my memory.  Wenatchee, Toppenish, Leavenworth, Spokane, The Dalles, Bend, Culver, Ashland, Pullman, Lewiston and Moscow all took me under their wings, and  remain every bit  blessed in my heart.  The most surprising scenes were at Smith Rock, at the bridge outside Culver, at the alkaline lake for which Lakeview is named, on the boulder strewn beaches at Bandon and Kalaloch.

I am rambling, so there will be parts two and three to this elegy.

The Road to 65, Mile 364: The Stuff That Matters

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November 27, 2015, Chula Vista-  The brisk walk from Aram’s apartment to the area’s Costco was a two-mile round trip.  I carried a small box, with salad fixings and a brick of sharp cheddar.  I could have driven, or taken the bus.  Instead, I was inspired, both by my own tradition and by a tourist in New York, who preferred to walk uptown from One World Trade Center, so as to “see what I’m passing.”

Having made two long journeys, this past year, I can say I saw alot.  There are differences between the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast, but also key similarities.  Both are humid and moist.  Both have people who are passionately close to the sea.  Both require crossing starkly beautiful deserts, if one approaches by road or rail.  Both have compelling stories to share and both have celebratory traditions.  The Native Americans and First Nations peoples of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and southeast Alaska have civilized traditions and lore going back thousands of years.  So do the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Miccosukee, Alabama, and the hybrid nation we call the Seminole.  The story of the Aboriginals of North America matters, immensely.

Having hiked up Mt. Verstovia, along East Glacier Trail, six miles around Ketchikan, all over Manzanar, on two more segments of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, and along the Prescott Circle, not far from my place of residence, I feel continually blessed by nature, health and mobility.  The environment matters, enormously.

I spent time among the historical remnants of early European settlers and missionaries, in Santa Barbara, San Luis (now called Tallahassee) , San Antonio, Wrangell and Sitka.  They wreaked havoc on those they found in the area already, thinking that educating the “savages” and exploiting the natural resources were their twin obligations to King and Country.  Their successors followed suit, and I saw the results- some worthy of respect, (Tonopah, Bellingham and Moscow,ID), for the honest labour that modestly claimed a share of the resources of land and sea.  Others, like the ravaging of Native Peoples in Sitka and Hoonah, the slaughter of Chinese immigrants in Hells Canyon and the internment of Japanese-Americans, as recorded for posterity, at Manzanar and Poston, stand as reminders of just how far we have to go.  The historical record matters, tellingly.

I returned to work, towards the end of this, my 65th year, secondarily to recoup some of my financial resources, but primarily because the well-being of yet another rising generation needs whatever champions who can arise.  I will work another five years or so, as long as my health and the goodwill of the powers that be remain strong.  The people we call “Millennials” and “Generation Z” matter, beyond measure.

I will miss Margaret and Ardith Lambert, Tom Boyd, my Xanga friends who called themselves Inciteful and Sister Mae, and feel the losses of several friends’ parents, whom I never met, but sense their character, in the people their children, who are my friends, have become.  Losses matter, achingly.

I visit with my son, not as often as I would like, but when our mutual schedules permit.  I communicate with my immediate and extended families, again not as regularly as is desired, but often enough that we know we are there for one another.  I visited with an elder in Colorado, at the beginning of this year, attempted to spend time with another elder in Florida, though to no avail, and did visit with people I regard as family, in Alabama, Mississippi, California,Nevada, Washington and Alaska.  Family loves, quarrels, understands, misunderstands, hides, seeks and ultimately stays in bond.  Family matters, indelibly, and yes, to answer an online friend’s plaint- family includes friends.

Central to all has been Faith.  Looking back at the past 6 1/2 decades, I could never have survived my own missteps and foibles, or the trials sent my way, without knowing that there is something greater, Someone Indestructible, always seeing and caring.  Belief, and the Faith Community, matter, in primacy.

So, my road to 65 nears an end.  It has been vast, long, alternately wide and narrow, by turns straight and curving.  It started at the end of a year of intense expansion of personal boundaries and ends at the beginning of a year of unknowns.  Decisions made by others will figure greatly in my course of action.  Time goes on.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 154: May Day Meanderings

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May 1, 2015, Prescott-   Th fifth month of the year always finds me taking stock of my assets, making concrete plans to consolidate my possessions, and downsizing, prior to a summer of journeying and carefully living in balance.  This summer will take me to Nevada,Mt. Shasta, the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, southeast Alaska and back down through the Palouse, Idaho and Utah; then to southern California, after a brief July 4 respite here.

For someone who values survival skills, I am a bit wet behind the ears.  Tent pitching and foraging for food are my immediate concerns, as is mastering the art of inflating an air mattress.  See, I have put up my tent,had it stand for five or six hours, then woke up and found it hugging my face.  This needs to stop.  I like sleeping under the stars, and still will, whenever prudent.  Being that I will share space with Alaskan brown bears, for a few days in June, I think a solidly pitched edifice will better suit my circumstances.

Later this summer, Grand Canyon hikes and jaunts along the Mogollon Rim in AZ and New Mexico, will afford me the company of a master woodsman.  These days will prep me for a 2017 thru-hike of the Arizona Trail, as will this Fall’s earnest completion of the Black Canyon Trail, over four stages, from Bumble Bee to Lake Pleasant Road.  The Prescott Circle will finally be unbroken, and the Maricopa Trail beckons, in Winter.

All this crossed my mind, after a day of hearing the woes of a teen boy who has a serious crush on a lovely young lady, ten years his senior.  It will go nowhere.  The woman has a good man in her life, and besides, that’s where crushes are supposed to go.  I used to be there, though my crushes, early on, found more contemporary focuses.  He will, as well, no doubt.

After making a brief visit to a school whose constituents and staff observed its last “birthday” as an institution, I came home to find that the man I had befriended, and tried to help, over the past seven months, was actually a wanted felon.  He was being taken into custody, as I pulled up to my driveway.  I pulled in, through the neighbour’s drive, and was informed that he had vandalized my upstairs neighbour’s property, thus the collar.  I have no idea what he is accused of doing, previously, but this does explain the hackles I have started to get on the back of my neck, as the day for taking him up towards Las Vegas approached.  Now, that is no longer in the works.  I have some of his possessions in my back storage, and his vital papers in the house.  These will all stay put, and untouched, until the legal process plays itself out.

So, I begin this fascinating month, hopeful, energetic, and chastened about human nature.  Tomorrow, I brush up on foraging and go to help a dear friend, one who can be trusted.