A Natural Pace

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February 15, 2021-

It took a while, and a few messages back and forth, before I connected with a friend who recently moved out here, from the East Coast. Once we did finally meet up, a delightful two hours of conversation and The Raven’s usual fine lunch ensued. Friend got an introduction to downtown Prescott, Courthouse Square and one of the town’s many antique shops.

It will be a process of acclimation to higher elevation for my friend, but it will be nice to have at least an occasional hiking buddy and someone to tag along for other outings, like Synergy Music Nights. The key to this is that my life is resuming a natural pace. Work will wind down, after this week, and after Spring Break, I will cut back to three days a week of availability. It is time to focus on the avocational.

There is much to be done for my Faith and so much of my stamina to be rebuilt, with more time on the trails and a greater devotion to overall exercise. I have come a long way, towards letting life unfold at a natural pace, not so much focused on making things happen according to my schedule. The organic unfoldment of this day taught me a lot, in that regard, and it felt refreshing.

Working Towards The Inside

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January 2, 2021, Sedona-

I brought my Bear Drum to Synergy, once more, this evening. This time, there were no men my age and older to complain about the noise. That’s good, because in addition to my hand drum, there were two tube didgeridoos, one coiled didgeridoo, a French horn, three shakers, two acoustic guitars and a violin. There were people playing chess, but they were not the least bit bothered by the cacophony.

I don’t go over here often enough to be widely viewed as an insider, but I am starting to think that means little. I am one of the few people over the age of forty who sits in, but that doesn’t seem to matter much, either. No one is coming here to troll for a significant other. We are just making a space to relax and engage in some meaningful conversations, every so often.

When I spoke bit about plans for later in the year, there were the expected cautions about the chance that the pandemic will still keep us locked away. There was also the caution that some countries don’t allow people my age to stay in hostels. I will need to look into that, of course, but I see that more as the travel industry trying to squeeze money out of people who are seen as well-to-do. I have not had any trouble staying in hostles or pensions, in the past ten years of being a sixty-something.

One of the young men here this evening put it best: “Don’t act like an outsider, and you won’t be treated like one.” That was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn, all the way up into my fifties. It is comforting to take a place on the inside, every so often.

Deep Dish

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December 19, 2020, Phoenix-

Last night, whilst visiting with some new friends, at Sedona’s Synergy Cafe, I got a call for which I’d been waiting. Aram was en route here, to retrieve a few personal possessions that had been stored by one of his closest friends. So, I made plans to zip down to this desert metropolis, masked and covered, to join him and another friend, for Deep-Dish Pizza, at a place called Lou Malnati’s.

We had a bit of a wait for the pizza itself, and so our conversation took off, on several topics, the common thread of which was the need for universal compulsory education. Given the current state of affairs, in which ignorance is prized, in some circles, on an equal level with empirical knowledge, the need for carefully guided enquiry is that much more evident.

‘Abdu’l-Baha advocated a system whereby a child would pose a question and another child would give the answer, thus establishing a discourse-related system of learning. It would thus become far more natural for independent investigation of truth to take root. I regret having largely adhered to a “top-down” imparting of knowledge, for much of my own teaching career. That system would do well to be consigned to the scrapheap of outmoded practices. The teacher-as -guide concept has found welcome acceptance, in many quarters of modern society.

Deep engagement of learning is fostered much more strongly, when learners take prime responsibility for its acquisition.

Blue Star

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December 18, 2020, Sedona-

The tower of strength walked in to the room, where four of us were having an earnest conversation about stars, planets and the Earth-bound, and calmly introduced herself. Her first act after that was to bond with the thirty-ish woman in our group, sharing photos of herself at a younger age, of her grandmother and great-grandmother and of her late first husband, a World War II veteran.

Blue Star is still formidable, at 91, has traveled far more broadly than I and has established herself somewhat, in the literary world. After a fashion, she blessed me and the other men in the circle, and told fascinating stories of her Lakota ancestors, as well as of all the experiences she’s had, driving several times across the nation, and abroad-in Europe and in South America. Self-care, she said, has made much possible, as has looking beyond any current upheavals or mischief at a high level.

The luminous presence has, among other things, operated a coffee house on Charles Street, in Boston, and said the late Ted Kennedy was one of her regulars. She spoke of having walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a few of the marches he organized and of having met Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, in Newport, Rhode Island, at that city’s Folk Festival, in 1962.

I had a newly-bestowed drum with me, showed it to her and gave it a couple of taps with the drumstick, drawing her approval. A scowl from a fellow Baby Boomer across the room put a stop to the tapping, (Why is it that men who are my contemporaries are so often the wet blankets in a group?), as we place harmony over self-satisfaction. Blue Star quietly assured me that the rhythm was good and that there would be many occasions for the drum to aid in my self-expression.

She has a sense of celestial energy about her, and imparts a re-assuring message: ‘It is a restorative thing, to treasure the people and spaces where one happens to be. If the person for whose presence one makes a journey is not available, then those whom one is INTENDED to encounter should have full attention. There are no wasted journeys.’ She was alluding to her own having come to Synergy to visit with the owner, who happened to be elsewhere this evening. The message was apropos for each of us, as various people sat in the circle for a while, then got up and went to an impromptu Blues guitar session in the next room, or wandered outside for the night air.

Blue Star showed me what may well lie ahead, should my fate, as another friend recently wished for me, be one of “iron longevity”. I look forward to seeing her again, at one of the gatherings here.

A Long Way From Unlucky

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November 13, 2020, Cottonwood-

Friday the Thirteenth has always had a bad rap, in my book. I can count on one hand the number of even slight misfortunes that have struck on this particular day-regardless of what month it happens.

Today was no exception-and I hope this was true for most everyone else. First thing this morning, I received notice of a generous gift from a loved one. At work, I arrived early, got plenty of help in preparing for the day and was able to accomplish all that was listed on the Substitute Plan. The children worked hard, and though they started to flake out, towards day’s end, I was pleased with the overall work day.

I came here, to the commercial hub of eastern Yavapai County, as part of a planned late evening at Synergy Cafe and a quick start to tomorrow’s jaunt to Homolovi Ruins State Park, north of Winslow. After two Zoom calls put me on the dinner hunt a bit late, I set off for Black Bear Diner, five minutes from the motel. Alas, there was no one at the host station-and not only was I being ignored by the staff, but two parties waiting to pay for their meals were also being treated as invisible. I left them with a “Good luck” vibe, and chalked it up to ONE minor irritation. Dinner came a bit late, but Cowboy Club, in Sedona, is fabulous.

Synergy was even more crowded than usual, so the late night did not transpire. I will go back there again, when I have a drum-and thus, something to offer the group. So, I am back at Verde Valley Inn and am quite comfortable for the rest of the night.

Friday the Thirteenth is also said to have feminine energy about it, which is just fine by me!

The Eve’s Eve

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October 31, 2020-

Some nights bring almost an altered state of consciousness, even when one has not indulged in mind-altering substances. Last night was one of those nights.

Hallowe’en (All Hallows Eve) is one of those evenings which has grown so much in popularity, that it has its own Eve-especially when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. So, yesterday featured many people in workplaces, in costume.

After a quotidian day of paying rent and bills, it was time to head over the mountain, to Synergy, where the Friday musical gathering, these days, typically offers a more balanced energy than the testosterone fests of Saturday night. It was anything but disappointing.

The Real– At first, it was a quiet affair, with a few of us musing about the need for both social companionship and for space to recover from a dissolved relationship, as one of my young friends is experiencing now.

The venerable drummer came in first, almost as a herald. We exchanged thoughts about the general atmosphere of the community. He allowed as how he missed the presence of children, in the transitory neighbourhood, in which he lives.

The flood tide of people came in, in wavelets of 3 or 4, first sitting and engaging in several conversations, whilst sipping their drinks and nibbling artisan chocolate or cookies. The music began in the back, and I stood tapping on the door sill, for want of another instrument. When the owner of a cajon drum left it and went away for a while, I borrowed it and joined in accompaniment to two guitar players and a flautist. Upon her return, and subsequent departure with the cajon, I used a table top for a while. This let me know that I need to get a drum of my own-preferably before my next visit to Synergy.

Going into the front room, I sat in a swivel chair, and fell into a meditative state, whilst still tapping in unison with the rising crescendo of a group that had gathered in the area outside the shop. So much joyful noise, being made by loving beings, and I have not felt this level of positive energy in a large group, since the Convergence at Arcosanti, in September, 2018.

I left, around 11 p.m., as an hour’s drive homeward remained. One of these times, I will spend the night in a small motel not far from Synergy, and thus be part of the gathering until it is finished. The drive home was serene and uneventful, but for a brief stop by a police officer who was doing sobriety checks.

The Dream– Sedona, Bisbee and Boulder, Colorado mashed up, as I was sitting in my car at a curb. A man and his little daughter got in the back seat, thinking I was an Uber driver. They asked me to take them down an alley. When I stopped to wait for another vehicle that was backing up, I turned around and there was another man sitting by himself in the back seat. I asked what had happened to the other man and little girl. He said, “They got out to go to the grocery store. Could you take me to my neighbourhood?”

This was getting interesting, and did not leave me disconcerted. For some reason, though, the road was closed, after a few minutes. I got out and started walking, with the man beside me. Three pit bulls appeared, with one of them leashed, I took the leash and walked the animal, while the other two were alternately licking my hands and playfully tussling with one another. The two unleashed dogs spotted a cart, which had several caged parrots. They headed towards the cart, but I called out to them, while Passenger # 2 just stood, staring blankly into space. The leashed dog followed my command to stay away from the cart, and just before one of the others got to one of the parrots, a window opened, from a room overlooking the street. A small boy called to the parrots, startling the pit bulls. A light came on, the front door opened, and a robust man came out, speaking firmly to the dogs, in Spanish, and holding a hose, from which he shot water towards them.

I received a call from Uber, saying a small amount had been paid them electronically. I explained that I was not an Uber driver, and had no idea which of the two parties who sat in my car would have made that payment. By then, the stoner had disappeared, but along came the first man and his daughter, apologizing for their abrupt disappearance, while he asked for his $40 back. When we walked back to my car, the owner of the three pit bulls came and apologetically took his animals back. I looked in my cup holder and there was $40, along with a credit card receipt, for $14.78. The dream ended, then and there.

It must have been the chocolate beverage that I had at Synergy. Please, though, if you have pit bulls, keep them away from othe rpeople’s parrots.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 70: From Suffrage to Success

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August 9, 2020-

I am at a point, right now, where the last thing I need in my life is a significant other. That may sound either self-deprecating or standoffish. In reality, it is neither.

What I feel the need to offer women is support and encouragement-in their forging of their own paths. I am, at the moment, a regular and supportive customer of five women who have either built, or are constructing, their own businesses. I regard all of them as good friends and have found that their products enhance my life in unique ways.

One is a Cosmic Adviser, offering insights into the influence of stars and planets, and their energy, on the energy flow of human beings. There is more to this than many might immediately assume. Her emphasis is on taking personal responsibility for one’s progress. Her insights have greatly helped me in understanding the ups and downs that have been generated by the flows within our solar system. https://elizabethperu.com/

Another sells cacao-based confections and baking aids. I lean towards the healthful digestive effects of chocolate, but am grateful when there is no refined sugar included. She works out of area Farmer’s Markets and at a central kitchen in Sedona. https://cuchocolate.com/

One of her colleagues, in the three-woman kitchen, known as Synergy Cafe, is a barrista and tea maker, with her emphasis on healthful energy blends, tonics and shakes. There are also vegan baked goods and artisan chocolates among her fare. http://synergysedona.love/

Here in Prescott, another health-conscious lady has a fully-operational kitchen, called Ms. Natural’s. The emphasis here is on artisan sandwiches, muesli, and a variety of tonics, lattes and shakes. There are mostly vegan and vegetarian offerings. https://www.msnaturalsprescott.com/

The most recent of the businesses I am patronizing is SuperNaturalSprouts. An entrepreneurial friend of seven years hit upon the idea of growing microgreens and wheatgrass, out of her home in Prescott. Having a recent experience with microgreens being beneficial to my digestion, and being curious about the joys of wheatgrass juice, I signed on as a customer. I’m in the early stages of this, yet the same person got me started on doTerra Essential Oils, nearly seven years ago. These have made a huge difference in my overall health and energy levels. https://supernaturalsprouts.com/

These represent the tip of the woman-led business mountain. I find that their drive, and commitment to customer service, on a heart-level, to be both a fine example to young women and girls who are looking to start out on their own and a pathway to reinforcing good physical, mental and emotional health for people of all ages.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 61: What I Want In August, Part I

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July 31, 2020-

My parents were wed seventy-one years ago, today. They got to be together, in the flesh, for thirty-seven of those years. They left several good road maps for us, and Mom is still blazing the trail of how to live long and prosper. I was thinking, last night, that I will be honoured to live into my nineties, perhaps even hitting the Century Mark. I would, however, have to be of use, to have most, if not all, of my faculties.

Today, so far, has been quieter than the previous two. I received a message from an African friend, for whom I had written a project proposal, bemoaning that those to whom we had sent copies of the proposal had not responded as yet. It’s been a week, so my take is, check in with them weekly, until mid-August. He asked me to send each of them a montage of photos of the worksite. I can do that,around some other tasks that have arisen, since I turned fostering of the project back over to him. Life does not stand still.

I have thought about what I want to do, in my own sphere, as well. As hard as life is for many people, I cannot just put myself into one hundred percent abnegation, though some will no doubt find that odious of me to say. There actually isn’t all that much that I want for myself, though.


August is said to be a month of masculine energy, so the first thing I want to do is to bring some health supplies to a rendezvous point at Holbrook, close to the Navajo Nation, which is still itself off limits to outsiders, due to COVID. In Holbrook, I will meet the same friend who I met in Flagstaff, in the Spring, to transfer the items. That is Monday’s agenda.

Synergy, the health elixir cafe operated by friends in Sedona, reopens on August 8, so that will be my place of refuge and celebration, next weekend. “Double” days are most often special to me.

I also miss my farmer friends in Paulden, up north just a bit, so maybe the afternoon of the 16th will find me there. The following weekend, Friday- Sunday, will likely be a time to visit Bisbee, a vibrant and eclectic Southern Arizona cousin to Prescott

The month will climax with Farm-to-Table Dinner, on the 29th, and unless the COVID cops declare our most stringent safety precautions inadequate, I will be among the masked and gloved servers and busers, tending to a smaller, but no less fervent, group of patrons of our vibrant Farmers’ Market.

What I want is for life to go on, carefully of course, but not dancing to the tune of one group of tyrants or another.

Top of the Hill

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March 14, 2020, Sedona-

The gentle man entered Synergy, with his encased didgeridoo.  He instantly commanded the attention of the gathering, greeting us with “I’m feeling divine and want to give you some.”  After a short burst of spiritual rap, he concluded with “I’m not over the hill. I’m the captain of the top of the hill.” (He’s 69, like me.)  Then, each of us was treated to an individual blessing, using the didgeridoo aimed towards our hearts and heads.  It was exhilarating.

As I write this, I can hear his sonorous voice, chanting and alternating with a vocal impression of the didgeridoo chords.  He calls himself Astarius Miraculii.  I don’t get the feeling, though, that he’s being the least bit pretentious.  The man has lived through a great deal.

This all occurred after I had sat by myself for a while, as the regulars gathered in the back room.  The purpose of my visit had yet to reveal itself, so I laid low.  A.M.’s teaching, though, gave me a new perspective.  There is still, inside me, the small knot of wanting to stay out of everyone’s way.  Astarius begs to differ.

As is the case in Baha’i scripture, his focus is on the true nature of the soul, and who we really are.  Many “New Age” teachers have  a handle on the multiple journeys a soul makes, throughout its eternal path.  We are all in the process of discovery and whether we are sedentary or peripatetic, we are always on the move.  We are, in effect, always in a state of growth.  This may be masked, or interrupted, by addictions, maladaptive responses to life changes or climactic events-but the process is still there, even if it is operating in the background.

So, the affirmations I received tonight are three:  Shedding the knot of self-distrust is imperative; Listening to the deep callings of my spirit guides remains imperative. These could be to go somewhere, as I did tonight or to stay close to home, as one often must, in time of dire emergency; Do not, even to the slightest degree, allow others to define one’s worth.  They are too wrapped up in their own struggles.

I’ve heard all of this before, and the purpose of affirmations is ever to strengthen one’s perceptions.  I, too, am captain of the top of the hill.

 

 

Kaleidoscopes, Courtyards and Red Rocks

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December 17, 2019, Jerome-

Today being a day free of commitments in the Prescott area, I took my daughter-in-law, Yunhee, on an excursion to the fascinating Red Rock area, via Jerome.  We made this little town that clings to the east face of Mingus Mountain our first and last stop of the day.  Yunhee is not put off by winding roads and steep drop-offs, so we made good time, getting to the Kaleidoscope Store, in Nelly Bly’s old office, around 10:30.  This amazing little shop is actually the largest kaleidoscope shop in the world and sports at least two dozen kinds of the visual treats.  Yunhee was shown how to take a cell phone photograph, with a kaleidoscopic image as the backdrop.  I had a kaleidoscope as a child, so I picked up a small one for myself.  Then, I got one for a friend who celebrates a birthday, this month. I can see myself making another excursion up the mountain, just to spend a morning or afternoon trying out the many other kinds of image-shifting toys.

We took a straight shot to Sedona, afterward, and I first brought her to a courtyard, with the intent of taking lunch at Momo’s Kitchen, a Korean Food Truck.  Momo’s turns out to be closed on Tuesdays, so we headed over to  the stylish and avant-garde HP Cafe, which offers exquisite, reimagined Mexican fare.  After that great lunch, I brought Yunhee to  a viewpoint, where she was able to photograph Midgeley Bridge, a breathtaking sight over Oak Creek Canyon.

Then, it was off to Tlaquepaque, a replica of the large, charming market city of the Mexican state of Jalisco.  As it was not the weekend, we nearly had the place to ourselves.  Here are several photos of Tlaquepaque’s courtyards and bric-a-brac.

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Having had  a chance to digest lunch, we went to Synergy, a small shop in West Sedona, which specializes in healthful chocolate and digestive-enzyme beverages, as well as organic chocolate treats.  We both opted for Norwegian Wood, a chocolate mocha, maca, chaga and Surthrival pine pollen libation.  One of my friends from Prescott Farmers’ Market happened to be there, as well, so we had a fine conversation about keeping our dietary focus keen, balanced and organic, to the extent possible. Yes, Pegasus greets the visitor to Synergy!

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Red Rock State Park was on the hiking agenda.  The office people seemed to know that we were there for a walk outdoors, and said “Good Afternoon”, without looking up from their desks.  So hike, we did, on a loop up to the fenced-off  House of Apache Fires, a defunct resort, and back to the Visitors’ Center.

The views of Sedona’s many sandstone spectacles were well worth the jaunt.  Besides, when is a hike ever wasted?

 

Oak Creek runs through the middle of the park.

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The red sandstone formations in the distance, are part of the Schnebly Hill formation.

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Here is a view of the House of Apache Fires.

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This sandstone giant appears to be keeping tabs on everyone.

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Here is another view of the Schnebly Formation, taken from Eagle’s Nest Overlook.

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So, that was my daughter-in-law’s introduction to the Red Rock country.  We will be sure to return there, when Aram comes back from his final active duty, in the Puget Sound area, in early January.

For now, it’s a pleasant dinner at Haunted Hamburger, on the west side of Jerome, then back over Mingus Mountain we go.