My Gratitudes

2

November 28, 2019-

A year ago, my shoulder was getting better and my left knee, injured by what seemed to be a psychic attack, as I walked down a short, routine set of stairs, was also well on the mend. The “woo-woo” aside, my health has been fabulous this year.  I am grateful to do Terra essential oils, hemp-based CBD cream, a team of physical therapists, my dental team in Phoenix, Planet Fitness and my chiropractor for helping me maintain that fabulous.

My family has been extraordinarily gracious and generous this year, as always.  Being with Aram, Yunhee and the Shin family, on the occasion of their Baha’i wedding, and the travels around southern South Korea that followed, remains the greatest of blessings.

My Baha’i community and other dear friends, around Prescott, continue to keep me grounded.  Those whose aim was to bring me down also had a role to play. Rearranging my priorities this year, has only made my life richer and more satisfying.

Prescott, and Arizona as a whole, continue to be inspiring, good hosts.  I never tire of the view of Thumb Butte, from my front window or of any of the exquisite scenes that unfold, no matter which direction I go.

My many friends and family, across the United States, and beyond, are ever present and encouraging, even if we rarely, or never, see one another in person.  I am grateful to have spent time with some, from California to Massachusetts and in-between, over the past twelve months.

Being ever expansive in my view of the world, visiting new places and making new friends is always a plus.  I found new perspectives on Albuquerque, Memphis, Charleston, Raleigh, the Eastern Shore and Delaware, West Point, Pittsburgh, Chicago/Wilmette, Kansas City and Los Angeles, over the past twelve months. Youth hostels, Airbnb and the comfort of friends’ and family homes made all the difference.

Time in nature is always huge, in my life.  The Centenary of Grand Canyon National Park saw me visit both North and South Rims.  The Navajo Nation’s Coal Mine Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Window Rock  and Monument Valley ever warm my heart.  Being in New Mexico’s El Malpais was a comfort, after a case of food poisoning upended my Father’s Day.  There were meanders along the banks of the Mississippi and above the Goosenecks of the San Juan River; focused exploration of  Utah’s Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments, Lake Powell’s Wahweap area and the urban solace of Los Angeles’ Venice Canals re-affirmed who I am,at my core.

The greatest gratitudes are reserved for what is ongoing:  My mother’s continued presence in our lives, my little family returning to the United States, having three of the finest people as my siblings, my Faith in God being reaffirmed, each day, and my physical, financial and mental health remaining optimal.

Thank you, 2019, for having been, and remaining, a space of strength and comfort.

Home Base

7

June 12, 2019-

Tomorrow, I will head up for a few days in another of my heart homes – Dineh/Hopi.  Yes, there are many of those, and this Home Base is one.  The road will then curve eastward.

In the meantime, life goes on here in Prescott-with a vengeance.  Many of you may be taking journeys of your own, over the next few months, and I can say time spent in this area is well worth the drive, or flight (Ernest A. Love Regional Airport is expanding its own “wings”, with more destinations offered by its tenant carriers).  So, let me go all Chamber of Commerce on you.

I’d offer my own Home Base on Airbnb, but it’s a tiny place and the landlord would not be happy.  So, I recommend either of two hostels:  Prescott International, on McCormick Street. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g31323-d4309329-Reviews-Prescott_International_Travelers_Hostel-Prescott_Arizona.html) or House in the Pines Hostel, on Virginia Street, two blocks west of my place, actually(https://www.hiphostelaz.com/).  There are a couple of great boutique hotels:  The Grand Highland, right smack downtown, on Whiskey Row (https://www.grandhighlandhotel.com) and Hotel Vendome, one block south of downtown, on Cortez Street (https://www.vendomehotel.com/).  There are two grand hotels:  Hassayampa Inn, on the corner of Gurley and Marina, is a premier spot for jazz in the courtyard (https://www.hassayampainn.com/) and Hotel St. Michael, on the north end of Whiskey Row, at the corner of Montezuma and Gurley, is a prime meeting place for locals and visitors alike. (http://www.stmichaelhotel.com/).  The chains have fine reps here, as well:  Hampton Inn, Marriott and Spring Hill Suites are either downtown, or within a short drive.  An independent hotel, Forest Hills Suites, is near the Marriott, east of town.

Now, the entertainment part:  Nature calls, pretty loudly, here, if you’ve seen my earlier posts.  The man-made lakes- Goldwater, Lynx, Watson, Willow and Granite Basin are all great for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and picnicking.  Lynx Lake has a paddle boat concession, as well.  Each of these has good trail systems, so the hiker is bound to feel happy.  Speaking of which, mountain trails abound, at all levels of difficulty, from Peavine Trail (easy) to Granite Mountain and Mt. Union (strenuous).  In between, are Thumb Butte, Prescott’s signature landmark, west of downtown and Granite Dells, a warren of trails, north of town, and mostly on private land, but generously shared with the public.  I have enjoyed most of the trails available here, over the past eight years.

Indoors?  Lots of good stuff here, too.  We have Elks Theater, in a restored grand opera house and Prescott Center for the Arts, in a restored church.  Both are downtown.  The Courthouse Plaza has many evening concerts, during the warmer months and street festivals abound, particularly on weekends.  Yavapai College, on the east side of town, and Prescott College, slightly northwest of downtown, offer many artistic events, as well.  YC hosts Prescott Farmers Market, on Saturday mornings (7:30-12).  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, 5 miles north of downtown, has an Observatory open to the public.  Sharlot Hall Museum is a must, for anyone seeking to understand Prescott’s history.

Now for the  brew.  I don’t imbibe alcohol, but there are more places to sit and hoist a few than this post has space.  A  few, for which I can vouch:  Matt’s, The Bird Cage, Rickety Cricket and Lil’s are all on Whiskey Row.  The Raven Cafe, one of my favourite restaurants and music venues, also has a full bar.  Brewery/Restaurants also are in no short supply:  Prescott Brewing Company, Granite Mountain Brewing, Coppertop Alehouse, Barley Hound-you get the picture.  Coffee is also in plethora:  Wild Iris, Ms. Natural’s (my absolute fave restaurant, as well), The Porch, Frannie’s (also has great frozen yogurt and pastries), Cupper’s, Firehouse Coffee, McQueen/Rustic Pie (also a  food fave), Method (on the north side of town) and Third Shot (in Gateway Mall, three miles east of town) are a few who come to mind.

Prescott’s Eats?- I mentioned Ms. Natural’s (The owner and a couple of the servers are personal friends and the name says it all, with regard to the fare).  Rustic Pie, Shannon’s Gourmet Deli, Dinner Bell Cafe, El Gato Azul, Rosati’s, Two Mamas Pizzeria, Chi’s Cuisine and Bill’s Pizza are all relatively small venues, but well worth a try.  So, too, are the larger places- Murphy’s, Gurley Street Grill, The Office, Rosa’s Pizzeria, Lone Spur, Bill’s Grill, Zeke’s Eatin’ Place (in Frontier Village, east of town), Park Plaza Liquor/Deli.  Other spots abound, so have fun exploring.

Finally, a few words about the periphery.  Prescott Valley, our sister town, is worthy of a day or two of exploration all its own.  It’s a lot of strip malls to take in, but they have a warm feel about them.  Rafter Eleven is a superb place for wine, coffee and dipping oils, located a block north of Highway 69, off Glassford Hill Road.  Backburner Cafe is on the north side of town, at the corner of Robert Road and Spouse.  Further east are:  Dewey-Humboldt, with Leff-T’s Steak House and Casa Perez Family Restaurant, plus a cute “Main Street”, at Humboldt; Mayer, with Flourstone Bakery and Arcosanti, a fascinating eco-architectural establishment.  Northwards is Chino Valley, with Danny B’s Seafood Cafe and the fascinating  Garchen Buddhist Institute, about seven miles east on Perkinsville Road (The access road is narrow, windy and steep in places).  Westward lie Kirkland, with its own steakhouse, replete with sawdust on the floor and bowls of unshelled peanuts on the table and Yarnell, with some interesting antique shops, Shrine of St. Joseph and, south of town, Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, where one may hike five miles or so, to the site of the tragic 2013 fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Wildland Fire Fighters, paying respects along the way. Nichols West Restaurant, in Congress, at the base of Yarnell Hill, is a fine place to replenish oneself, after such an outing.  Finally, fifteen miles northeast, on Highway 89A, is the mountain town of Jerome, with Haunted Hamburger, Mile Hi Grill, Bobby D’s BBQ, Flatiron Coffee House, Jerome State Park and an inn that was once a brothel. The road, both east and west of town, is not for the faint of heart-yet the streets are routinely packed with visitors from Phoenix, Scottsdale and all over.  Get there early.

This is my longest post ever, I know, but Home Base is worth every word.

 

Sacrifice

18

May 31, 2019-

I was mildly upbraided for my summer plans, with the person exhorting me to consider “sacrifice”, for the sake of those who might need me to be here.  Sacrifice does mean giving up something, for a larger good.  So, let me look at that.

I live in one of the most desirable communities I’ve ever known.  It would, actually, be the easiest thing in the world, to stay here through the summer, and be at the beck and call of a relative handful of people.  Summers in Prescott are laid back. I could walk down to Courthouse Square or over to one of the colleges that are within walking distance.  I could hang out at Ms. Natural’s or The Raven Cafe, in the morning hours, then get together with friends in the evening, for regular spiritual study or other elevated conversations.

I live, however, for the wider world-as well as for my Home Base.   My journeys are NOT “taking a break from routine”, as was suggested.  Perhaps the person making that statement sees self, and some others up here, as feeling trapped- perhaps.  In truth, none of us here are trapped, in the literal sense.  I use time that is not devoted to work, to connect with other friends and family- not to hang out in luxury accommodations or visit theme parks.

There have been several years in my life, when the wider world had to wait, precisely because responsibilities did occupy my life, 24/7.  Such circumstances could find me again.  In any of these cases, it is a labour of love.  I do not view time spent here as a sacrifice, in any way, shape or form.  Nor do I view time spent on the road as an extravagance.

Commitment

6

January 25, 2019-

We had, all in all, a good, productive meeting at work, today and prior to that, I felt a firmer commitment to us paraprofessionals, from our leadership.  These set the stage for a productive period, for the rest of the Winter and through the Spring.

It reminds me that my own commitment, to the well-being of humanity, branches off in many directions:  Our team and the students; the local Baha’i community, and the wider Prescott/Yavapai County community-through Red Cross, Slow Food, American Legion-and those who are just beloved friends ;  my friends who run the businesses around town, which I have come to love and appreciate- Frozen Frannie’s, Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Cupper’s, Chi’s Cuisine, Raven Cafe, Peregrine Books , Cornerstone Chiropractic, Planet Fitness and, most of all, Prescott Farmers Market; my family, most directly my son and daughter-in-law, mother and siblings-each of whom, are doing just fine.  When I’m needed, I will do what is necessary

I have always had a global take on things, though, even when that was considered odd.  So, I think, often and pray daily, for people in places which I might visit frequently- Phoenix, Flagstaff, the Verde Valley; not so frequently- Tucson, Superior, Carson City, Orange County, San Diego, Massachusetts,Missouri, Pennsylvania, the Great Lakes region, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida; once and again-the Pacific Northwest, western Europe, Alaska and east Asia- and those places which lie in my future, God willing-Africa, the rest of Europe, Central and South America, south Asia and the Middle East.

Yes, there is a commitment to travel, to visiting and to service where needed. Mainly, though, I am committed to living a full life, to doing the Will of God.   Thich  Nhat Hanh says commitment has nothing to do with convenience- so be it.

 

Cleaning Up Ashes

4

December 26, 2018, Prescott-

There is always a reckoning,

when one fails to heed the inner voice.

Christmas, 2018 will be remembered

as much for what I lost,

as for what I received.

There will be a reckoning,

sometime this week,

in one part of my life.

Then, I will go on,

though thankfully,

not without a job.

I may have one less friend,

and one less close relative,

in my life.

I will go on, though,

because there is no other way.

On the other hand,

I have a little family,

who  bring me joy,

and will continue,

for a good many years to come.

Prescott may not be the same.

after this week,

but I have my work,

my team,

and my students.

Family may not be the same,

in terms of its extension,

but I have my son,

my daughter-in-law,

and my siblings.

I have my Faith,

my co-worshipers

and my own determination,

to just be a better soul.

The Ocean

19

February 16, 2017, Carlsbad, CA-

I have traveled, from one healing place

to another,

and then to another, yet.

Prescott has been my refuge,

for six years,

and six months.

Blythe is a wide spot

in the Colorado Desert,

of California’s underscored East.

I stayed there,

because it has the river.

A desert was once an ocean.

Dig deep enough,

past the scorpions’ nests,

and the caliche,

and there will be shell fossils.

La Jolla,

bustling,

overcrowded,

expensive as a place to live,

but sublimely peaceful,

if you look past the mobs.

It reminds me of a time,

long ago,

when I was in the Bronx.

on a Sunday morning,

in April.

No one else was about,

just me,

and Yankee Stadium,

and the animals of Bronx Zoo,

and the murals,

painted by those of good heart.

Today,

it was all the parents and kids,

beautiful people of tomorrow,

and a small colony of sea lions.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There are few murals in La Jolla,

but  there is a Museum of Contemporary Art

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I left La Jolla,

and negotiated the hordes of people

trying, desperately, to get past

one another,

only to meet again,

at the next light.

We did this dance,

on I-5

and again

on the PCH,

from Encinitas,

to Carlsbad.

Here, I bought

yet another box

of Girl Scout cookies,

because mother and child

were alone,

ignored by those

passing in and out of Von’s.

I bought a box,

because this girl

is our future,

and the future needs

the water of encouragement.

I was followed

by a grandmother,

who bought four boxes,

which Mom proclaimed

the biggest sale of the day.

Encouragement

draws more encouragement.

I settled in,

at my Econolodge,

one of my refuges,

near the ocean.

 

“He Was At Home Here”

6

May 6, 2017, Cottonwood-

There was a magnificent scrum of motor vehicles, and drivers, when I arrived at the parking lot of Taco Don’s, and took my place in the rapidly forming motorcade.  The hearse and family cars were followed by the motorcycles, then the classic cars (Jayme was a car buff, being from eastern LA County) and us friends and admirers, taking up the caboose end.

We set out ahead of time, and had cleared Prescott, by the time we were originally supposed to leave.  Some stragglers caught up with us, on Highway 89A, and passed ahead, to get to their designated spots.  By the time we reached Jerome, and wended our way through the “ghost town’s” streets, everything was in perfect order.  Jerome, like much of the Central Highlands, is in full bloom.  Here are some lupines, that graced our view.

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We reached Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, on the northwest side of Cottonwood, with 30 minutes to spare.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the church’s cross-street neighbour had set up two golden Dol Harubangul (Korean “stone grandfathers”, the symbol of Jeju, where we lived from 1986-92).  This was very much something that Jayme would have found wildly amusing.  As the statues are usually black volcanic rock, this was definitely a nod to the area’s mining culture.

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Immaculate Conception is a spacious, majestic parish church- almost cathedralesque, in size and airiness.  The celebrant priest, also a friend of Jayme’s, noted that the man “felt at home here”, making frequent trips over the mountain, on Sunday mornings, perhaps because of the exhilaration one feels, when going through the pines, and along Jerome’s streets.  The church felt quite homelike for us, this morning, with a robust celebration of Jayme’s relationship with his Lord and an outpouring of love, from his family and closest friends.

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The exquisite service left me chastened, as funerals so often do.  I thought, once more, of my own ongoing mission, knowing that being there for others, something that Jayme Salazar did so well, and at which I am improving, is imperative.  We will all gather again, in his memory, on May 20, for a Fiesta Grande, at Prescott’s Watson Lake Park.  I promised his dearest friend that I would be there early and leave late.

One other nice touch- when I stopped for lunch, at Colt Grill, in Old Cottonwood, the soundtrack featured Mike and The Mechanics’ “The Living Years” and REM’s “Everybody Hurts”.  The Universe always speaks clearly.

“If you don’t give up and don’t give in, you may just be okay.” – Mike Rutherford

“Hold on”.- Michael Stipe

Wakefulness

3

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.

Selective, or Snooty?

6

April 24, 2017, Prescott- 

It’s no deep secret that I have issues with those who build walls of snobbery around themselves. I’ve found them everywhere, from my home town of Saugus,  to Jeju, Korea, and to my present home base of Prescott.

Usually, snobs rely on “isms”, to validate their choices.  There are those who fall back on their self-perceived intelligence, while forgetting that the late George Plimpton, and others, routinely ridiculed their insolence.  There are others, “hipsters”, who brag about their sense of aesthetics, overlooking the beauty of simplicity.  Money, status in the community, and a misperceived “racial purity” are other sources of walls. Even in small communities, and communities of colour, subgroups operate to either maintain a false sense of superiority or to ingratiate themselves with those in power.  Seventeen years ago, a woman spread filth about my family and me, in a small desert community.  She had arrived  ten years earlier, from Ohio.  Here in Prescott, another individual, an attendant at a local fitness center, turns her head, sharply and disdainfully, whenever anyone over the age of forty approaches.

I have my own sense of selectivity.  I stay clear of fast food restaurants, many chain stores, and most Big Box establishments.  There is no shortage of people who would cry “Snoot”, at this information, and perhaps they’re right.  I do not, however, treat others with disdain, based on age, physical appearance,  mannerisms,perceived intelligence level, economic status or skin pigmentation.  Even the snobs get a fair hearing.

I have made the observation that fear is behind most snobbery.  If the wall-builders would stop and take several deep breaths, perhaps they would realize that nothing of consequence would befall them, were they to open the blinds, and take off the blinders.

Looking Back-Part 1

2

December 30, 2016, Chula Vista-  I arrived here at 8:30 PM, PST.  It will be my last time visiting the San Diego area, for the purpose of spending time with my son.  The next time I see him, it will be in Arizona, then in LA, as he gets ready to go overseas, albeit to a “safe” duty station.

I had an interesting drive out here, from Prescott, in the rain.  Our Arizona Outback got a goodly amount of precip, as did SoCal.  Both are parched, so these little sips of dew will slake the earth’s thirst for a week or so. I am hoping the reservoirs, in both states will benefit, at least an inch or two.  I noticed mostly responsible driving, all the way here, even at the often dreadful Morongo roundabout.  Patience, on my part, and that of the three drivers behind me, got all of us into the parking lot of Ruby’s Diner, without so much as a honked horn.  The only exception to the orderly flow came later, in Hemet, when an SUV, going at least 50 mph, blew past three of us, and through the red light, at which we were waiting.  I was reminded of why the driver might have behaved in this way, when going through a DUI checkpoint, set up by the Chula Vista police.

Now, to look back at this curve ball of a year.  2016 saw the end of many lives, both public and private.  I appreciated the accomplishments of John Glenn, Muhammad Ali, Nancy Reagan, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince Nelson, Glenn Frey, George Michael, the mother-daughter duo of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and Harper Lee.  I also am much appreciative of the sacrifices of all First Responders and Military who gave their lives in service, thes past twelve months.  Personally, I will miss two aunts, a cousin, and four friends who passed on, in 2016, also.

The changes that happened, as common folk raised their voices, worldwide, and demanded to be heard, will be long in their unfolding and in their repercussions.  The key to living through those, though, is to remember the power of attraction- and focus on what GOOD one wants to see.  The bad will, otherwise, not fade.

Tomorrow:  The good parts of 2016