Quiet Streets and Sweeping Vistas


May 8, 2023- We stood atop Airport Mesa, one of Sedona’s premier places to get a quick look at several landmarks, in one fell swoop. My daughter-in-law, Yunhee, and her mother, Mrs. Park, were my visitors for a day. It was Mrs. Park’s first trip out of Asia, and only her second out of Korea- with Vietnam being the only other foreign destination. She is mesmerized by the differences in this western half of the United States-the prairies of Texas, desert around Phoenix and the three microclimates of northern Arizona.

Her questions, as to where are the pine trees and mountains of Prescott were answered, as soon as we turned a corner and saw Douglas firs and Alligator Junipers, then drove down a street and had full view of the Bradshaw Range. All this was within Prescott’s city limits, of course. What surprised her the most, though, was the fact that our city is walkable- unlike the areas in Metro Dallas that she has seen thus far. I hope she gets to walk along Mill Creek, in Grapevine, when they go back, at the end of this week. She will see a mix of walkable and not, when they visit Las Vegas, in a day or so. The ultimate walkable area, the South Rim of Grand Canyon, will cement her image of North America’s vastness.

Airport Mesa was the last of the spots I chose for the itinerary. Lunch was at Raven Cafe, photo stops included the summit of Mingus Mountain, a ravine just west of Jerome and, of course, Airport Mesa. Coffee, from Mesa Grille, was enjoyed whilst watching the small planes take off and land at Sedona Airport. It was a bustling day, more from their perspective than mine-as it had begun with rising very, very early, catching an early flight from DFW and driving from Phoenix to Prescott, then following me over Mingus Mountain to Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Sedona. As we proceeded through the Red Rock city, to our point of adieu, we were each in a queue that was dealing with the aftermath of a serious traffic accident. I took Rte. 179, towards Oak Creek Village and the Interstate highway. The ladies were not so lucky, and inched their way up through Oak Creek Canyon, by choice, and found the backlog was inching along with them.

We all made it to our respective destinations, and tomorrow, while I am in my last day at work for the school year, Yunhee will show her mother what I first showed her of the South Rim. It was a splendid first day for this perky, spirited extended family member to really see what makes our continent such a marvel. In a few days, my own latest journey, by train, will get started. I may even opt for a roomette.

Their Melodious Voices


April 29, 2023- The five visitors from Tucson elevated our already high-level celebration of the Ninth Day of the Ridvan Festival, commemorating the day when Baha’u’llah proclaimed His Mission to His family and closest followers, whilst in the Ridvan Garden just north of Baghdad. This was on April 29, 1863. The family led us in two spiritual rounds, then were among the first to offer assistance, when a community member sent a texted appeal after her child was injured in an accident. Their presence alone was a confirmation of the Divine.

This was the first of two amazing musical events, the second being two hours and forty minutes of celestial bliss, courtesy of The Barn Swallows Band (so called, as to distinguish this ensemble of three woman and a man from the all-male group, The Barn Swallows.) The three-part harmony of the women, backed by their male bassist, has not failed to keep me, and their other two dozen or so followers, enthralled, in three appearances at Raven Cafe. They work as hard as I’ve seen any musicians work-taking turns in the lead, with their bandmates joining in vocally or instrumentally, in each and every song. Here, Aurelia sings lead, with Jessica backing vocally and May on banjo. Still have not caught the name of their silent bass player, whose melodies are nonetheless central to the effect of their harmonious vocals and instrumentation.

These ladies are among a multitude of young women who I would gladly claim as daughters, or nieces. (It seems, as the years go by, that Aram, Yunhee and my nieces and nephews are gaining more siblings by the minute-and that is just how my heart functions.) Their work ethic and compassion for others are what draw us in.

A local musician, Jonathan Best, aka Angiolus, led some intrepid dancers to the makeshift floor, after a brief negotiation with Raven’s management. It worked well. I was not, for once, among the dancers-these were ballroom quality steppers. It was from a cozy spot, just in front of the dance floor and stage, that three hours of reverie ensued. I could listen to these folks for more hours on end. They will be on a national tour, after the launch of their first album, on May 13. The schedule is posted on The Barn Swallows Band Facebook page. If they are in your area, I highly recommend a listen.

This special day has always produced something of great value.

Many Jobs, Few Tasks


April 22, 2023- Earth Day called me to get up on a workday schedule, so by 5:30, I was groomed and dressed. There were four stops and a Zoom call waiting, so after reading the newspaper and saying a few prayers, it was off to Courthouse Square. There was not a whole lot to do at Stop # 1, an environmental group’s booth, between 8:15, when I finally found the booth, and 8:50, when it was time to race back for the Zoom call.

It seemed imperative that I join the call, since I had been absent for two weeks, due to my Red Cross deployment. The moderator of the call has had a hard time with my absence-service to the wider community is apparently not his thing, if it conflicts with his Zoom work. As it happened, he was absent today, but his trusted assistant was glad I was on the call-and has no issue with someone being away due to working with the Red Cross.

After the call ended, I stopped in, briefly, at an American Legion Auxiliary rummage sale-picking up an extra pair of sunglasses(to replace the pair that was lost during my sheltering activity) and a cake to bring to my substituting assignment on Monday. Then, it was off to Farmers’ Market, getting a week’s supply of microgreens and catching up with friend Melissa.

Job #3 was back at the Firewise section of Courthouse Square’s Earth Day, and I got to the Red Cross booth four minutes late, which led to a mild chastisement from the woman tending the booth and groans from the man who had been there since 7 a.m. Water off this duck’s back! I give a lot of myself and no longer fret about people who are overly sensitive at slight lapses of punctuality.

After an hour, in which I greeted seven visitors and explained a bit about our mission, it was back to Farmers’ Market-this time to help a group of college students break down the tents, and put away the folding tables and chairs. With an increased efficiency, on the part of the new team lead, we were finished in less than an hour.

Job #5 was back at the Red Cross booth. This time, I was early, and the tent was folded up and put away a bit after 2 p.m.

There were big crowds at both Courthouse Square and Farmers’ Market, as people are finally comfortable with being at our community’s traditional events. Chalk-It-Up is back, after a three-year hiatus! More on that delightful artistic festival, in tomorrow’s post.

It was a fine day, and not as strenuous as it might have been, had there not been full teams at each location. Topping the day were two relaxing musical events: The Bourbon Knights performed ’60s Golden Oldies and some original tunes, at Rafter Eleven, while friend Stephy Leigh, accompanied by Jonah Howard, of Cross-Eyed Possum, performed two sets of her original music, with a few covers thrown in, at Raven Cafe.

Being back at Home Base has its rewards, great music being chief among them.

Green Carpet of the Heart


March 17, 2023- The darling girl owned the room, as soon as she and her mother entered. One of those people whose smiling eyes could melt the iciest heart, she engaged anyone who would listen in a few minutes of banter. We know each other from somewhere, and her mother is a doppelganger for a much loved friend who lives outside Portland, OR. We greeted each other cheerfully, but as strangers, as if meeting for the first time. Her grandmother showed up, a while later, as the Raven Cafe’s grand re-opening proceeded, with the Joe Booth Band, a rousing bluegrass and rockabilly ensemble, got the proceedings going.

Nonna mistook me for one of the owners, as I was sitting close to their table, in a small wooden chair by the water station, with the beer and wine menu overhead. I guess the father of one of the owners overheard and came over, interrupting my description of the t-shirt that had caught her interest, and making sure that the ladies knew who he was, before walking off to his next conversation. Normality has returned quickly to the Raven, after it was closed for a month, for structural repairs.

As Joe and the guys readied for their second set, they brought the sister of a friend on stage, for her first public performance. She held her own, for two songs, and seems to be a quick study on the fiddle. There was a goodly amount of dancing, mostly by the women and girls, wherever they could find space. The girl I mentioned at the outset was up there with the rest, dancing her heart out. This time, I contented myself with bouncing lightly in my chair-not really needing to be all that conspicuous. It was enough to see so many people enjoying themselves on the scattered open spaces.

Today being St. Patrick’s Day and, by happenstance, the 29th anniversary of my youngest brother’s passing, there was a bittersweet air. This time in March has ever seemed like a time of new life, at least in the northern hemisphere- the unrolling of a green carpet. Brian’s passing marked the end of a fair period of suffering and decline, so he moved on to his own new life-as his sister-in-law would, nearly 26 years later. Festivities such as this evening’s comfort me, as a kind of green carpet of the heart. Maybe the mother and daughter, who were so happy to meet me, are angels sent to make sure that the message of joy supersedes any lingering sorrow.

It is a blessing to have the Raven open again.

Cold Shoulder


January 28, 2023- Both of my favourite Prescott weekend haunts were nearly deserted, this evening. It’s shoulder season-the slow period between mid-January and St. Patrick’s Day, when a single person can actually expect to have a table of four to self-for nearly a whole evening. I ask you, who needs a table of four to oneself? It makes my night-or day, for that matter, to share a table, or give away seats to couples or foursomes who need an extra chair or two, at their table. Sometimes, I even get invited to join the gathering.

The artists, at both Rafter Eleven and Raven Cafe, were fine musicians and got plenty of applause, and tips, from those of us who came to listen. Steve Miller ( no, not the Gangster of Love, but a joyful singer, nonetheless) offered up a couple of hours’ worth of Golden Oldies-including some from the ’90s and 2000s, to a nearly empty Rafter. No matter, Steve has been here several times-and played to a packed house. At Raven, Remi Goode, a five-piece folk and blues-oriented band, named for its front person, found themselves the main event for the evening, as a local band that was to be headlining found themselves unavailable. Remi and Co. were fresh from a visit to Nashville, where they had done several gigs. They were up to the evening and did three imaginative and well-balanced sets. They made a lovely point, that Prescott is a good place to stop, on the way back from a Nashville road trip. I can think of a few places along the way that would also have been nice stops-but this town is one of a kind, so who am I to be a wet blanket?

A mysterious couple came in, not long before I left. First, the man entered, stood next to my table and seemed very nervous-wanting to applaud, while Remi was still singing-even asking me when they were going to stop. The woman came in, shortly after, smiled wanly at him and went straight to the back. Man followed her, at a discrete distance. About ten minutes later, they both came back-and woman went straight out the door. Man watched her leave, wistfully, and left himself, five minutes later. I just had an inkling that they were working something out, but the cold shoulder she seemed to be giving him indicated it wasn’t happening.

Shoulder season is slow, but has its moments.

That Lunar Influence


January 21, 2023- I read yet another “free” detailed horoscope for 2023, pretty much repeating what two Reiki practitioners, Hiking Buddy and my own observations over the years have told me. I don’t need to rehash all the wonderful things that are attributed to my being or all the challenges that stem from my shortcomings. The horoscope was, of course, followed by a series of generalities and a pitch for “personalized, special details about what is coming. Some of it may be quite shocking!” Most likely, the only “shocking” part would be the price tag. I passed.

I got enough out of the freebie to sense that an auspicious day is coming, towards the end of this month and that I will experience an unforeseen burst of energy over an upcoming five-day period. I need to be present and attentive. What else is new?

I do feel ebbs and flows of energy, with the various phases of the moon and planetary alignments. Venus seems to have an outsized influence on my demeanour, as does Neptune. I don’t get crazy during a full moon, but I do experience more alacrity. A new moon (the one we can’t see) brings more energy also, but in a kinder way. Having been born during a waning gibbous (first phase after a full moon), that phase brings me a more centered energy.

This day itself had minor challenges-mainly around my sending a certified letter to a friend. One of the few times I left my cell phone at home, and was expected to have it at the ready, came at our main post office. A discrepancy was found in the zip code given me by said friend. I was told to go look it up, and that the post office was not responsible for providing that information. That led to returning home, finding the information-it was one digit off-and getting back to the P.O., thankfully dealing with a different, less officious, clerk. I will have my karmic rebuttal, in the post-visit survey.

Afterward, came three good workouts- being part of a skeleton crew that broke down the Farmers Market, a session at Planet Fitness and walking to and from Raven Cafe, where a delightful young couple performed three sets of gentle folk tunes. It was as gratifying to see how they adore one another as it was to listen to their delicate harmony.

I have to give the freebie astrologer credit: He does recognize that I generally view life through a positive lens.

Magical Again


January 15, 2023- An eclectic musician was also present, at least night’s concert-dancing with several ladies, in the small area, front of the band. He was sporting a red ball cap, with the acronym MAMA, representing “Make America Magical Again”.

I rather like that notion. Much of what has made life nice, these many years, has seemed almost magical in its unfolding. How many times have I been graced with accommodations that would ordinarily seem out of reach? How many meals have come my way, both when Penny and I were at wit’s end and when I have been on my own? How many friends have appeared, seemingly out of nowhere?

Some of this is, certainly, a reflection of love for others. I find myself thinking, ” Whatever you need, my love”; or “As you need,my pal”, when helping a child or adolescent, or a young woman, for that matter. Their needs are those of the future, after all. Their dreams and efforts are a good part of what will make seeming magic become commonplace. Helping remove obstacles, for anyone really, is an essential part of being an adult in this world.

As I sat with one of my young friends, last night, she noted that what makes any community special are pockets of celebration and affirmation. Some communities, like San Francisco and Boston, have several such areas. Prescott, with Raven Cafe, Founding Fathers Collective and Wild Iris, among other places, is increasingly holding its own in that regard. Faithful readers will note other such pockets of celebration, around the United States and in various countries across the globe.

So, the magic unfolded: The delightful sprite-like dancer, mentioned in the previous post; the structured, polished ballroom styles of an elegant couple; the dancing musician, wearing the M.A.M.A. cap; the melodious offerings of the three lovely women from Bisbee; the genuinely joyful presence of a dear friend and collaborator. Magic, after all, when it is intended to bring harmony, is pure and loving energy.

The River Flows Freely


January 14, 2023- The best part of this evening’s encore performance by The Barn Swallows, besides the incomparable music, was the blissful dancing of an irrepressibly free spirit. While her mate contented himself with just sitting or with taking photos of the snow falling outside, the young woman whirled about, not dervish-like, but in a manner that brought joy to everyone in the full house. Even when she went up to refill her water glass, it was with a gently swaying, waltzing motion.

Earlier, as I made plans to attend this evening’s concert, I got an ethereal message that a dear friend would also be there. I got to the Raven around 8, just as the Swallows started warbling their sweet tunes, and took care of dinner, at a high top table. After a fashion, the friend in question walked in, greeted two other friends who were sitting a short ways from my table, then came over to the high top and engaged in intermittent conversation, also flowing around the room to mingle with others. She, too, is a passionately free spirit.

I have had the thoughts, especially lately, that friendships, and relationships in general, flow organically, if they are healthy. My own progress, in that regard, has been to comfortably let people alone and largely leave it to them to contact me, in their own time. There are exceptions, of course, when I know of illness or special situations, and the first step needs to be mine. Strong ethereal messages, like this evening’s, tend to come to me as well, and can advise either to be ready to greet and spend time with someone, or to keep my distance.

Life is good now, and as long as I follow the free-flowing river of friendship, things will progress nicely.

Seven Dogs and Seven People


December 10, 2022- The strikingly comely woman described being in a van, with the titular living arrangement. There was a time in my life when just being in the same environment with a person like her would have been Heaven on Earth. As I think about it, and ponder her own description of the situation, I would now be more likely to see what I could do to extricate her,and probably at least a few of the dogs, from that sardine can of a vehicle.

I have been in crowded vehicles that were headed from A to B, on more than one occasion. The obvious ones have been airplanes, but there were others-a third class train, from Playa San Carlos to Nogales, Sonora; a third class ferry, from Yosu to Jeju, South Korea; a van from Blue Springs, MO to Troy, NY. This last saw me help calm a cranky toddler, who had just driven her mother to exasperation. The young woman got about an hour’s respite as I held the little girl gently enough so she fell asleep for a while.

I went to the Raven Cafe, again this evening, after a delightful Christmas party, featuring pork ribs, potatoes and vegetable, for two reasons: One was to purchase a to-go meal, for the benefit of Arizona’s Children Association; the other was to listen to the band, The Barn Swallows, a folk music iteration of four musicians calling themselves Juniper Djinn. JD offers jazz from the 1930s and ’40s, with an emphasis on the Gypsy jazz that was popularized by Django Reinhardt. The Barn Swallows, three women with extraordinary voices, gave us two hours and thirty minutes of mellifluous, original folk tunes that hinted of the experiences people had during the Great Depression. The lovely lady mentioned above was one of these. All were compelling talents, backed by a male cellist/guitarist.

The troupe will return to Prescott again, in mid-January. This will hopefully give a good friend, who couldn’t make it this evening, a chance to enjoy their offerings. In any case, the band has at least one new fan.

It’s a supreme joy to appreciate the totality of human beings and their talents.



December 3, 2022- Hiking Buddy found me, as I was texting her, asking where she was. There was a large table of casseroles and snacks, from which I was welcome to nibble, while we waited for the Christmas Parade to start. It was good to meet several of her other friends, who are the organizers of this parade day “tailgate picnic”.

The parade itself was 1 1/2 hours in length, and with the chill afternoon wind, I was glad to no longer be standing around outside-even with one of my best friends. Nonetheless, this mini-gathering, if it continues, will be a fine Season Launch day tradition. I can even bring a crock pot full of Christmas run-up staples from my adolescence-cocktail franks or mini-meatballs.

Two hours later, the annual Tree Lighting found Courthouse Square and the surrounding area wall-to-wall, with the anticipatory crowd. The Christmas story was narrated, as it has been for thirty years, by our area’s State Senator. As he spoke the final words of the Nativity, the switch was flipped, the lights came on and fireworks were set off.

Parades and fireworks happen with regularity here in Prescott, but not (as yet) so much so as to lose the dignity and honour befitting the occasions. More important to me is that I am finding, once again, the joy of being part of groups, in a regular, meaningful way. COVID, which I have personally not contracted, has wrought havoc on group activities. When it is confused with influenza, or a severe cold, as happens more often of late, than is sometimes supposed, the fear factor keeps us apart ad infinitum.

The last gathering of the day was a concert at Raven Cafe,by an area Bluegrass band, opened by twin brothers who have added luster to the Prescott music scene for nearly ten years. They are barely twenty, but show the spirit and talent that can put a town on the map of musicality. I took a seat at a table for four, as the high tops were all in use. As I had hoped, two people, one of whom I knew from a few substituting assignments, asked to sit at the table and were followed by two more-easily re-working the spot into a table for five. The surrounding tables were likewise filled to capacity, and a few intrepid souls were up and dancing. Stephy Leigh and Lullaby League, the main band, preceded-and accompanied a bit, by Cross-Eyed Possum, were the perfect voices and instruments to end this day.

I am grateful to be moving into a renewed sense of enjoying life in group settings.

The New Parade Day hangout
Llamas and alpacas