Year End Reflections, Part 2: Sojourns

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December 24, 2017, Prescott- I spent yesterday at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, in Phoenix, but elected to stay up here today, as some chores need doing, before I head out on the Greyhound journey to Spring Hill, FL, and a visit with Penny’s mom and sister.  It will be odd not having a vehicle, by which to stop, visit with friends en route, or to respond to others who may live not far from them.  This is, though, a journey of focus.

I have made such focus a more important part of my life, this past year. People and their feelings have been one such concern. Reorganizing my blog site, and making a more concerted effort to attend to others’ comments, as well as their own blogs, has been another.

My travels,while still extensive, going across the continent, yet again, were more devoted to family, friends, and specific purpose. I saw my son off, on his way to Korea, from San Diego, at the beginning of the year.  OC, always a part of any California visit, took up the end of my temporary farewell, to the light of my life.

I can never go without a visit to a little girl and her family in the Reno-Carson City area, so that came first, in the summer.  It seemed capricious to dart back to Arizona, just to deliver a bundle to people who didn’t seem to care, one way or the other, but it mattered to the sender, so I did it.

Friends and family, across the Midwest, the Northeast and Upper South, were more appreciative of my time with them.  Mom always needs to know her wanderer is in a good place, physically and emotionally, so when I was in my hometown, she had the bulk of my attention, but not in as hovering a manner as previously.  A side trip to Maine, also very focused, help break up any sense of hovering.  So, too, did meeting one of my newborn grand-nephews.

My youngest niece and her upcoming wedding brought me to Philadelphia, so as to at least meet her fiance.  Another little grand-nephew was also there, along with his big sister, whom I also had not met.  There was a focus on history, in the three days that followed: Philadelphia itself, Brandywine, Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Lexington, VA. Going to Harrisonburg, perhaps my favourite western Virginia town, took me back to Artful Cafe (once known as Artful Dodger), followed by a brief visit with a friend who once lived in Prescott.  People find it strange, but I don’t forget someone who treated me with a high level of kindness, even if they themselves have moved on.

It has long been past time to visit with the Indiana branch of our family, so a few hours, on point, in Jeffersonville, sent me heading west, with a sense of having completed my connection.  Falls of the Ohio and downtown Paducah were side-benefits of this diversion. Finally, I was honoured to visit with a cousin, in southwest Missouri, before scooting across the plains, to home  There were side benefits to that last leg:  Sedan, KS, with its little ravine, called The Hollow; a kind lady running a motel and cafe in Mooreland, OK; a race against the monsoon rains, in northeast New Mexico; brief return visits to Cimarron, Taos and Rio Grande Gorge; and proving that I still can handle the delicate balance between rest and roadsmanship, on the last leg of the drive home.

I chose a journey to the past, over an emotional visit to Las Vegas, in October.  It was tough going, coming back especially, but Besh Ba Gowah and Gila Cliff Dwellings made me recognize, anew, the importance of appreciating just what those who came before us gave to people, whom they had no idea were coming.

Journeys aren’t, per se, hard on me, so long as I maintain attention, pacing and focus.  New friends came out of these past twelve months, though I may have lost one of the older ones.  Friendships will take up my Christmas post, as seems appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Hearts, Black History and Chief Executives

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February 1, 2017, Prescott-

The Mini-Month is now upon us, with groundhogs galore waiting to be yanked out of the ground, tomorrow.  I know there will be many enlightening programs and articles about African-Americans, this month, but I think people should be fully honoured for their place in America’s story, and the stories of the world, EVERY month, and regardless of ethnicity.  Still, I’m glad the stories are getting out there.  Too many people still think Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, Irish-Americans, and even women, collectively, are making up, or exaggerating, the past,  because “things aren’t so bad for ________________ NOW!” We  have to know our history, and know it well, for the very reason that too many people see things on the surface, and have short memories.

The Italian martyr, Valentino, has become a symbol of unconditional love and thus a day devoted to love- and romance- has taken the English form of his name.  St. Valentine’s Day falls on a work day, Tuesday, this year.  I will be giving the same unconditional love to my students that I offer, every day.

The following weekend will be Presidents’ Day, ostensibly to honour two of our greatest Chief Executives:  Washington and Lincoln, and, by extension, those of our presidents who have not harmed our nation.  Who they are, remains a matter of intense debate.  I have my opinion, but will not get into that, here.

Aram will leave for South Korea, in about a week.  I will be at San Diego International Airport, to see him off.  Then, each of us will get on with our respective duties, and other aspects of our lives.  For him, there will be some familiar aspects, as he was born, and spent his first three years of life, in Jeju, and shore duty will be more of a routine, than sea duty.  For me, the regimen will continue at school, the American Legion honours World War II’s Four Chaplains, my work for the Baha’i Faith goes on, and new outdoor adventures will present themselves- Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains, the Verde Valley’s Limekiln Trail and, a slightly-delayed visit to Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, in Yarnell.

It looks to be a fascinating 28 days.

Janus Blinks

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January 31, 2017, Prescott-

Reminiscences,

New Year’s Day, and a San Diego rain

More rain, as the nation remembered

Martin Luther King.

Chills in the air,

and chillblains,

in the lungs of many friends.

Two good workouts,

with snow to be removed.

Winter can’t help

but be fast about its business.

So, as the Sun gets higher,

in the northern sky,

boreal winds begin to fly.

Snowmen and frosty flakes

get nudged, ever so slightly,

by crocuses, roses and chocolate.

Onward

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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.

 

Last Weekend, and This

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October 8, 2016, Chula Vista-  It was a weekend of talk about change, and talk about commitments.  On October 1, a Baha’i Unit Convention was held in Flagstaff, and a similar gathering took place the following day, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning, in tiny Burntwater, AZ, about 10 miles north of Sanders, along Interstate 40.

At these gatherings, we choose a person to represent our communities at the U.S. National Convention, in the Chicago area, the following May.  This is an important function, yet what is more important is that we are addressing the spiritual condition of our communities.  It is not a bland spouting of platitudes, and there are sharp opinions voiced, during the consultation.  Yet what we are, regardless of opinions, is respectful of one another’s value.  There is no one, among the gathered friends, who is discounted or seen as lacking value.  The goal, for each of us, is to extend this valuing to the entire community, not just committed members of the Baha’i Faith.

After an intense week at work, in which these principles of unity were put to the test, and which by the grace of God, I largely maintained progress,  I headed out to my son’s place, in this southern suburb of America’s Hometown.   He’s a bit laid up, from a fracture  of one of his left foot’s metatarsals.  So, my entire function, these five days in California is to help with his needs.  My usual meanderings up the coast will need to wait until the week after Christmas.

I set out from Prescott, last night, after a particularly strenuous day and a lengthy, soothing dinner at the American Legion Post.  The route this time took me to a very restful night at an economical motel in Blythe, then a drive through the Colorado Desert, through Brawley, to El Centro and over the Laguna Mountains to the coast.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A 20th Century cowboy, circa 1992, downtown Brawley, CA

The weekend is off to a fairly restful start, and we can tend to tasks related to Aram’s healing, on Monday and Tuesday.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 362: Passing Through Yuma

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November 25, 2015, Chula Vista-  After getting my Nissan serviced, and a few other errands, which are always necessary before departing Prescott, I headed down the mountain, towards San Diego, and a holiday weekend with the most important person in my life.

This time, I opted for a twist.  Turning onto AZ 95 south, at Quartzsite, in Arizona’s Outback, I headed down to the southwest AZ city of Yuma, underrated largely because of its status as the hottest spot, in a state that is very hot from May to October.

Nowadays, though, Yuma is very, very pleasant, and it was quite cool, when I rolled up Prison Hill, for a walk around the East Wetlands and along the exterior of Yuma Territorial Prison Historical State Park (about which, more, on my next visit in mid-March).

The Wetlands trail takes the walker down to the Colorado River, which is in fairly good shape right now.  Here are a few scenes of what I encountered. (These are what the new and improved Word Press offers as a photo collage, under Windows 10.  Just click on the photo, to see the caption.)

The rest of the journey was spent navigating high speed, rather frenetic holiday fellow travelers:  Crowded road from Yuma to El Centro, a bit quieter from there to Alpine and bustling again, until I got to Chula Vista.  In Alpine, I enjoyed a decent Gyro plate at Greek Village Grill, which sits tucked away in a restaurant mini-mall, on the south end of downtown.  The town itself looks worthy of further exploration, when it is light out.

For now, as indicated above and at the second from lower right, I will be happily celebrating Thanksgiving, the Day of the Covenant (see next post) and the 65th anniversary of the arrival of a squawling, but eventually happy, baby boy.

The Road to 65, Mile 308: October Beginnings

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October 1, 2015, Chino Valley- I made my last visit to Del Rio School for a while, spending the day with a class of second-graders, with whom I have worked a few times in the past.  I will actually miss this school, and several others, but throwing myself into the well-being of a specific group of children, day-to-day, for at least two months, and hopefully longer, is something I need to do.  It’s necessary for my own sense that I can do good by a classroom, over a long period of time.  It’s necessary for the children, whose skills are undeveloped, and thus seen by the Masters of the Universe as “low”.

In another iteration, I covered for a teacher on maternity leave, for five months.  The children loved me, and I, them.  I had the support of the school administration.  The teacher, sad to say, did not like my work and made it very clear, especially at the end.  I digress.

It was a good day today, and it will be another good day tomorrow, at Mile High Middle School, in Prescott.  I can work in Prescott schools on Fridays, until the Winter Break, at least, so the separation is less than final.  My first priority, though, will now be Mingus Springs’ third grade class.

October will see me back on the trails- the first few days of Fall Break- next week, and on several weekends hereafter.  Son will be out here, at the end of the month, and I will make my now traditional visit to San Diego, at Thanksgiving time.  My Faith also factors directly into the schedule:  Besides being the cornerstone of my daily life, Baha’i events will occupy me, this coming Saturday, (as will community service, here in Prescott); at the beginning of November and on several days throughout the Fall.  I can never tell when the needs of trusted friends may arise and take me off on an errand of mercy, as happened a week ago, today.

October is always a fascinating month- and not the least because of our fun traditions of Halloween.  I have always enjoyed treating children, from my front door, over the years, in places like Toltec City, Tuba City, Jeddito, Salome, Phoenix and Prescott.  This Halloween will find me at a friend’s house in Tucson, perhaps finagling front door duty.

The crispness of the air, and the changing leaves of the Northland, will also bring me and mine a renewed energy.  I had my mid-year check-up yesterday, and all my vitals are in top form.  Fall will be a great season.

The Road to 65, Mile 295: Where I Stand, Part 1

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September 18, 2015, Prescott- One thing about transitions, there are small stretches of time when money is tight, communication gets garbled and difficulties ensue.  I was raised to work through them, and so it is, right now.  I have had a few confrontations with people, both online and in real time, over the past three days.  In each case, rather than start World War 10,000, I have chosen to rely on my intuition, as to what the other person(s) was/were getting at.  One is simply a snarky, and somewhat abrasive, individual who enjoys a good comeback.  A few of those have defused that mess.  Another wants to know whether I have just moved on.  That is really up to that person.  I am still here, and as said earlier, I will not impose myself on anyone who seems to want to be left alone.  Another individual doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t drink, and doesn’t seem to have much money, in his establishment. (It is a restaurant, not a bar, per se, so the clientele ought to be mixed).

I sense the mood in this town is changing.  Hipsters tend not to like anyone who isn’t strutting their cash, and I see more hipsters around, over the past few months.  I haven’t had much money, over the past six years or so, though that is about to change, albeit gradually, and modestly.  I will be EARNING a living wage, starting next month.  Life will be more on an even keel.

I’m not going anywhere, though.  My son is in San Diego, until the end of next year, at least, and I have a growing number of friends in Los Angeles. Prescott is six hours from San Diego, seven from LA, and proximity rules.  I still have a good many friends here, even those with whom I seem to be having misunderstandings.  I am also very much enamoured of a place where I can walk just about everywhere that matters, and drive to the rest of the places, in a half hour or less.

In the next several posts, I will be commenting on points made by Chief Phil Lane, Jr., who heads up a spiritual retreat in Surrey, BC, as to the development of a spiritual community.  His heartfelt and well-considered tenets could be applied in a good many settings.  I stand in a circle, where heart, patience and intuition matter.

The Road to 65, Mile 216: Celestine

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July 2, 2015, Prescott- I am grounded.  The Nissan’s dash says “Service Engine Soon”, so it will sit in the carport until my mechanic, and everyone else, has gotten the holiday out of their system.  It may stay there longer, if the money that I am expecting shows up in my account, tomorrow morning or Saturday.  Then, I will catch a shuttle to Phoenix, and a plane to San Diego, and honour my son as his birthday approaches-on Sunday of course, and I would stay in SoCal until Wednesday evening.

I have personal and civic obligations here at base on Independence Day, and these, too, are labours of love.  A parade, in which I will be in the Red Cross contingent, a gathering at the American Legion, and the rest of the day with my best friend in Prescott, all of which brought me back here on the 29th of June.

Last night, after I watched “The Celestine Prophecy”, about which more in a moment, I was upbraided on social media, for not being willing to conduct an online dalliance, with someone I’ve never met.  What a change, from two years ago, when I was all over the place, trying to figure out what my emotions were and how to deal with them.  Most of the people who were in on the mental anguish I was enduring at the time, are still my friends, and God bless every one of them.

This brings me back to “The Celestine Prophecy”.  Every American film, it seems, has to have a romantic twist.  In this one, Marjorie is pursued by John, captivated by both her beauty and her aura of mystery (he saw her in a vision, that appeared to have taken place in the year 1622).  John learns, quickly, to give the lady her space, and eventually sees that it is not the time for them to be together, though they certainly endure a lot- especially at the hands of Jensen, a cartoonish villain (whom John also sees in his vision, replete with wispy, handlebar mustache.)

“Celestine”, a film adaptation of the first of a series of novels by James Redfield, explores the growth of human consciousness and postulates nine principles, revealed in a series of scrolls in ancient times.  John, and a group of like-minded souls, seek to find the ninth scroll, which Jensen, representing The Powers That Be (an Illuminati-like entity, who, of course, remain unseen), wants to find first and destroy, lest it tear asunder the power structure.

The upshot of the film is that the quest for power, by  the Illuminati and everyone else, is a chimera.  Human consciousness is moving steadily to a far deeper level than any materially-oriented force an ever appreciate.  It is emerging, regardless of the quibbling, death and destruction that The Powers That Be are visiting upon us, and will continue to visit upon this planet, for a certain time.  Real power, however, is spiritual and collective.  It is as present in the most humble, vulnerable child, as it is in the person of a brutish, swaggering general ( such as Jensen’s chief minion in the film), and perhaps more so.

So, I sit in a safe, comfortable room, and contemplate my blessings:  A strong, hard-working son, a good woman who is a steadfast friend ( and who, much like the film’s Marjorie, is given the space she needs to process all that is going on in her own, considerably complex life), a community that stands firm together, in spite of the callow local government, and a Faith which can carry me through anything at all, and does.

The Road to 65, Mile 33, Part II: The Gate Stayed Open

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December 31, 2014, Prescott-  When I returned to North America, on 6/29/14, I had the pleasure of a long and varied conversation with a fascinating young lady from Montreal, who is a baker by trade.  The flight back was thus energizing, rather than draining.

July- I spent the first week of July visiting family in the Boston area.  My brother, SIL and I took in a Red Sox game on July 2, which was as marvelous an experience as the team itself was awful, in its play. Fenway Park and the surrounding area are old enough to be somewhat a cross, to me, between old Europe and the modern U.S.  Our fireworks, two days later, were rained out, but some local youths tried anyway- so we had some sky colours.  Going back to Phoenix was an experience.  I ended up staying overnight in Charlotte, as the plane out of Boston was delayed for six hours, due to some problem in Miami, of all places.  At least this way, I didn’t get to Phoenix at 1:30 A.M., so the Universe was looking out for me, in an oblique way.

August-  The interment of my father-in-law’s remains, in Arlington National Cemetery, brought me back to the East Coast, at the beginning of the month, for four days. This was the least a grateful nation could do for him.  I also visited several war-related places on the National Mall, and the 9/11 Memorial west of the Pentagon.

In a rustic camp, west of Prescott, a group of us formed a well-running team, serving Slow Food Prescott’s 50-Mile Dinner,consisting entirely of ingredients from within a fifty-mile radius of our town.

September- In the middle of the month, I drove from Prescott to Salt Lake City, for an annual convention.  Staying in a cheap, Baha’i-owned motel and scrimping where I could, got me through this time, and still I got a  lot out of the convention itself.  Driving all the way back home, in one fell swoop, though, is probably something I would prefer to avoid in the future.

October-  There is very little I won’t do for my son, the only responsibility I really still have, outside of self-care.  When he called, in July, and said I was on the list to take part in the ship’s return cruise, from Honolulu to San Diego, I got the paper work done, made flight arrangements to Honolulu, and enjoyed  1 1/2 days in that exquisite city.  Waikiki, Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor were each every bit as fascinating as others had said.  The cruise itself was 6 1/2 days, and I learned much about day-to-day shipboard life and about the many hues of blue and aquamarine that are visible from the deck.  After a short few days in San Diego and Crystal Cove State Beach, I drove home, exhausted and just wanting to be in Prescott again.

November-  The month was quiet, until  Thanksgiving weekend.  I went back to San Diego, enjoyed the holiday with Aram and a friend, in Julian, and celebrated my 64th, in low-key fashion, visiting La Jolla and enjoying a Korean lunch.

December- Western New Mexico was where Penny and I first met, 34 years ago, in the Pueblo of Zuni.  I had a salubrious visit to some of our old favourite spots:  El Morro National Monument, with ancient Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs/inscriptions of several time periods and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with its myriad sandhill cranes and raptors.  The town of Truth or Consequences, named for a 1940’s and ’50’s radio/TV show, was a lovely revelation.  Its Old Town, centered around the original hot springs resorts, kept me fascinated to the point where my original plan, of visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings, was put off until another date.  Paying respects to the Apache chief Cochise was accomplished, as was Christmas Eve and Day with some friends who had moved to the Tucson area, from Oklahoma.  The 30th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference was a fitting end to this most filling of years. We got eight inches of snow, on New Year’s Eve.  I rang in the new, by watching Prescott’s midnight fireworks, from my front porch.