Blessed Intentions

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November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-

I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County.  Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes.  These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.

Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.

I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday.  This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table.  So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.

Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities.  The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.

It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world.  The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities.  At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing.  Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children.  There is a group meeting,  in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.

If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age.  Hygiene is excellent.

Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.

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This is a bottle wall.  Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.20171119_154703[1]

Artwork is random and eclectic.  I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.

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Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.

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This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs.  Holly  and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.

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I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities.  Their work ethic is as good  as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world.  Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle.   There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype.   Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education.  This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.

I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least.  Life is good, where there is love and devotion.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six,Part XIII: Civility

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March 4, 2017, Camp Verde-  I began the day, helping with a Red Cross Home Safety activity, in a neighbourhood near the main fire station, in this town that lies over the Black Mountains and some forty-five miles east of Prescott. We worked with town firemen, installing smoke detectors along a street that abuts the fire station.  As I had done a similar task, late last year, in Sedona, the event today went very smoothly.  The firemen are also past masters at installing the devices, which made it smoother still.

After that, I took a couple of hikes, one along the Verde River, at Clear Creek Day Use Area and the other in Copper Canyon, which lies southwest of Camp Verde.  More about each of those, tomorrow.

Today, though, comes the matter of civility. We have, before us, a sitting President accusing his immediate predecessor of conducting surveillance on his signature office building and residence, during the brouhaha that masqueraded as an election campaign. Said predecessor, speaking through his aides, denies the accusations. Time, and investigation, will, of course show who is being truthful here.

We are in the throes of incivility, and have been, for some time now.  Consider:  It was four years ago, last December, that 26 people were slain in an elementary school.  Two days after the carnage, unknown militants threatened to kill both the survivors of those victims AND a man who had taken other children into his home, and reunited them with their parents.  The trolls were insisting that all the above were part of a Federal conspiracy to confiscate weapons from private citizens. Never mind that seven of those families were headed by members of the National Rifle Association, and owned weapons.

Consider:  Survivors, loved ones, of American military heroes, have been, and are still being, attacked by uncivil people-of both Alt-Right ( in the case of the Khan family) and Far-Left (in the case of Karenn Owens) political bent.

Consider:  Trash-talking by adults about, and towards, children is almost de rigeur, online and in the check-out lines of stores; in public and, no doubt, in trusting private.  Children have been treated like mini-adults, by the media, for some time (Children of colour, in particular, are most often referenced by surname, in the mainstream media).  Many parents, citing “freedom of speech”, are following suit.

The way adults treat one another is often little better; thus, the reverse role models, who give kids the notion that no level of profanity, no level of insult, is too extreme.  To the innocent mind, this seems like a perfectly acceptable way to be taken seriously, and thus, filth streams out of many children’s mouths.

I was raised to be civil, and I know I am far from alone. Anonymity is cited as the reason for road rage, Internet trolling, stalking, and bullying of all stripes.  It is not valid.  We can see those at whom we honk horns or flip the bird, and whose vehicles we tailgate or cut off.  We can read the responses, see the fear or sadness of those we attack on social media.  We can feel the trepidation and notice the unease of those we try to intimidate.  The bully knows what is being done.

It all goes back to our self-image.  If, deep down, one doesn’t feel he/she matters, then no one else matters, either.  The fact is, each of us does matter, or we wouldn’t be here.  Each of us does have a mandate to be civil- regardless of the false mirrors we see on television, in the movies, on stage and the messages we hear on radio or see online.  Each of us could learn from those whose opinions differ from ours, because each of us has a portion of the truth, within our psyches.

Each of us could choose to be civil.

 

 

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.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 358: Positivity Outside

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November 21, 2015, Prescott- I looked, to no avail, for a parking spot near the point where I left off on Prescott Circle, last Saturday.  I have an ethic about such things:  Never park on a business lot, unless patronizing said business.  So, the second half of Segment 7 will wait until after Thanksgiving, most likely until the afternoon of December 6.

That bit of irrelevance aside, the outdoors, as is well known to my readers, is a huge part of my life.  Positivity arises from the mountains, the desert, the beaches, the grasslands and the serene forests.  Even the ocean has given me a sense of serenity.

Sedona’s red rocks and pine forests abound in good vibrations, as do “our own” forests, lakes and grasslands, around Prescott and vicinity. The vortices of Sedona are closely matched by Thumb Butte.

I have felt similar vibrations elsewhere:  At Indian Gardens, along the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail; at both Spirit (“Devil’s”) Tower and Medicine Wheel, in northeast Wyoming; at Cahokia Mounds and at the Cairo Confluence, in southern Illinois; at Palo Duro Canyon, in northwest Texas; at Cape Flattery, Washington (the northwestern-most point in the contiguous United States; atop Harney Peak, South Dakota; at several points along Waikiki Beach, Hawai’i; and at more places than I can count, in southeast Alaska.  Then, too, Spirit knows no boundaries:  Stanley Park, Vancouver, the woods of Metz and Le Donjon, Rouen, France, held me in rapt respect.

The wind spoke to me, while on the ocean between Honolulu and San Diego and the rock along the River Trail glowed, in multicolours, when I first visited Palo Duro.  Spiders rode the breeze, on their webs, at Cathedral Rock, Sedona and spun exquisite places of rest in Olustee State Park, Florida, while I watched, in wonder.

There will, no doubt, be other encounters on the road ahead.  Nature eternally urges us onward.

The Road to 65, Mile 313: Of Horses, Llamas and Bells

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October 6, 2015, Sedona- After dealing with more computer work, regarding a legal matter, I headed out for a day’s respite, stopping first at Mortimer Family Farm, in Dewey.  The Fall is in full swing at this exhilarating place.  As you can see, the pumpkins,alone, will delight dozens of school children this season.

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My other purpose was to pick up one of their delectable sandwiches, along with a piece of Pumpkin Pie Fudge and a mocha espresso, for a roadside picnic.  This ended up taking place at Crucifixion Point, a Forest Service Day-Use area, which was closed and locked.  Nothing prevented me from parking outside the gate and enjoying a pleasant meal, though.

Then, it was off to Sedona.  I stopped at the community college branch and inquired as to the road to Honanki, a Pueblo ruin on the West Side of town.  I was told that I was not to go in there unless riding in a commercial jeep.  I know this is a bunch of hooey, and figure the staff member must have some interest in the jeep outfit.  Rather than waste time, I headed to a tried and true hiking path: Little Horse Trail and Llama Trail.  Little Horse, which I last hiked three years ago, heads to Chicken Point (seen below) and Submarine Rock.

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It also connects with a trail to the Chapel in the Red Rocks.

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About 2/3 of the way to Chicken Point, I veered off Little Horse, and took Llama Trail.  This brings the hiker back around to the south, towards Courthhouse Butte and Bell Rock.  At one point, Llama Trail has one in a place that is equidistant from Cathedral Rock (west), Madonna and the Nuns (north), Courthouse Butte (east) and Bell Rock (south).  I chose that area to pray, take a drink from my water bottle and write reminiscences of my July trip to California.  Sedona has several vortices, and this felt like one of them.

While I was praying, I was greeted by some local residents.

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Here are two shots of  Madonna and The Nuns.

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Courthouse Butte is not to be outdone.

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Nor are Bell Rock,

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or Cathedral Rock.

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Llama Trail ends at Courthouse Vista, about 1 1/2 miles south of where my car was.  So, in the interests of not being caught up in an approaching thunderstorm or out after dark, I took Bail Trail, a 1/4 mile connector, to Bell Rock Path, then back to Little Horse and my way home.

As it happened, I drove through the rain easily, and got home in time for another fine Arizona scene.

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