Last Quarter Plans

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October 11, 2020-

With October nearly half over, it’s high time for me to look at this last three months, or so, of 2020.

October 12-17– This is Fall Break week and is the first of the two weeks I gave myself off, from any out -of-state deployments with Red Cross. If a wildfire breaks out around here, of course I will be on hand to help. Otherwise, on Tuesday, I will hike the first of two peaks in northern Arizona that go by the name Red Mountain. It is in an area between Prescott Valley and Lynx Lake, a section of the Bradshaw Mountain foothills that I have not explored, up to now. Monday and Wednesday feature Zoom meetings, two of which I host, so walks downtown will suffice. Thursday through Saturday, the road will lead to other Red Mountain, north of Williams, on the road to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. If the road to Hermit’s Rest is open, on the South Rim, I will go there as well.

October 18-24- This is a Holy Week for Baha’is, with two days spent commemorating the births of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah, which did occur back-to-back, though two years apart- Baha’u’llah having been born in 1817 and His Herald, in 1819. It’ll be different, celebrating these auspicious days on Zoom.

I may also have work opportunities, with the Sub service, but we’ll see.

October 25-31– Halloween Week will also be different this year. No word has gone out, from either of the groups who have put on parties, in years past. My default will be to throw on the silly suit I wore last year, and bring treats to neighbour families who know me. It may also be either a heavy subbing week or yet another deployment, for a disaster response yet unseen.

November 1-6- Election Week will have its share of challenges, both local and further afield. I am leaving my service options open: Our normally quiet, live-and-let-live little city could need as many voices of reason as can be had-or it could stay quiet, and congenial. There could very well be those who need the services of the Red Cross, if mayhem results in mass displacement. I will have the blessing of a virtual Spiritual Retreat, each evening, from November 5-8, to provide online balance.

November 8-14- Veterans’ Week will hopefully remind everyone that Freedom isn’t Free. Any public activities on November 11 will find me there. November 12-14 will be a good time to head up to Painted Desert-Petrified Forest.

November 15-21- Mid-month will be either a full work week or a time for day trips to Sedona, finishing the long-delayed completion of a hike on Limekiln Trail and going up Cathedral Rock.

November 22-28- Thanksgiving Week, ending with my 70th Birthday, so it’ll be Texas Time. Son will use a grill in the apartment complex courtyard, so this will be another fine gathering. I will likely be quite reflective, on that Saturday, with a view towards using all for which I can be grateful to help those who have been discounted and marginalized- the mirror image of the fourth Thursday in November.

November 29-December 5- The first week of my eighth decade will begin a run-up to my retirement (always unofficial) from substitute teaching. In practical terms, what that will mean is that I will not NEED to work, in order to make ends meet, after this calendar year. I will still be amenable to going in, two or three days a week, from January through May. The major emphasis, though, will shift to volunteer work, for which I’m already getting plenty of practice.

December 6-12- This marks forty years since I first met Penny. A trip to Zuni and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Preserve will be in order. I will also stop in Bisbee, which we never visited together, on the way back-just because it’s there.

December 13-19- There may be a smidgen of work to be done, but my emphasis this week will be culling old files out of the cabinet and putting effort into shredding.

December 20-26- Depending on family input, and the state of the pandemic, I will either make a journey to New England or devote some time to an Arizona Christmas.

December 27-January 2- Part of the time will be in Texas and part will be in Florida, with the Gulf Coast in between (weather-permitting). The first week of 2021 will be the same, in reverse.

Some things will remain constant, location notwithstanding. I will have regular Baha’i Zoom calls to maintain and continuing to pay off what is left of my bills will be achieved.

This is my vision for the last twelve weeks of a tempestuous year.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, No. XXII: Wonders of the Middle Realm

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April 9, 2017, Prescott- Yesterday, I wrote of the western third of the contiguous United States, which is where I have spent most of my time, since 1992.  Being from the East Coast, and preferring surface travel over flying,  especially when the weather is good, I have developed an affinity for the regions which many call “flyover country”.  The Great Plains and South Central regions may not have the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Mountain West or Alaska, but there is plenty worthy of spending one’s time.

The Rockies, of course, are the heart of the Mountain West.  In many visits to the heights of Colorado, I have felt most at home in Longmont, Loveland and Denver, where I have family.  Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls have helped make Colorado Springs another “feel at home” stopover.  One of these years, I will find my way to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Boulder, also, has welcomed me, several times, with wonders ranging from Pearl Street Mall, and Boulder Books, to Eldorado Canyon, which I hiked in the rain, whilst carrying an umbrella.  The Tetons and Yellowstone invite me back, as well, with visions of geysers and Grizzlies.

As the Rockies recede into the Great Plains, I find Spirit Tower (forget the name, “Devil”), Medicine Wheel, the Badlands, Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak), Scott’s Bluff and the determination of the Indigenous People of the prairie as riveting as any great mountain or canyon.  Little towns like Deadwood, Belvedere and Custer(overlook the name) (SD), Burlington, Granada and Walsenburg (CO), Wellington,Dodge City and Hays (KS) have been as welcoming as any place in the West.  There is, to my mind, a goodly amount of sophistication and culture to be found in Omaha, Lincoln and Wichita, as well.

Friends in Amarillo and Enid (OK) have helped make those cities almost necessary pit stops, on any eastward trek that takes a southern route.  Texas, like California, is a world unto itself.  I was captivated by the warmth I felt, across the state, from the great cities of El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston to small communities- Grand Saline, South Padre Island, Laredo, Marfa, Sanderson, Quanah and Temple.  There wasn’t much happening in Luckenbach, when I happened through there, but the locals were glad I came, anyway.  Revelations abound, across the Lone Star State, from the view of the Rio Grande’s confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, to Pedernales Falls, northwest of San Antonio, or the wild canyons of the Llano Estacado and the Trans-Pecos region.  My favourite museum section remains the Music Hall, at Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History, near the Texas State Capitol (itself an extraordinary edifice).  Then, there are the five missions in San Antonio- a very full day of discovery!

Oklahoma has no end of variety, but I will content myself with sending kudos to Lake Texoma and Lake of the Cherokees, Black Mesa(the state’s highest point, at its juncture with New Mexico and Colorado), Tonkawa and its monument to Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce, and the heartfelt, humbling memorial to the victims of Oklahoma City’s tragic bombing, in 1995.  Oklahoma City remains the only place where I have been mistaken for a county employee- being invited to an employee barbecue, as I walked by, on the way to the Memorial.

I will continue to skip the temptation to fly over, as long as the weather is not too harsh.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 55: Challenges

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January 22, 2015, Prescott- I got a call at 5:38 AM, got out of bed, fumbled with the phone, hit the wrong button, and ended up with no work today.  It always goes the way it is supposed to go, though.  While I won’t earn money from today’s activities, I did reassure a transient friend that he has allies in this community, got him where he needed to go, and spent some time with a friend in Prescott Valley, at a restaurant on the north side of the sprawling town.  The place is called The Chalk Board.  It’s a breakfast and lunch spot and has an inventive, well-prepared menu- like Soldi, here on the hilltop.  Several of us will probably gather there on Saturday morning, for breakfast.  I want to look for the trailhead where I left off of the Black Canyon Trail, last Spring, so a hearty breakfast, en route, will be a great start.

Slow days like this are a good time to look at challenges that lie ahead.  So, between now and the end of May, I have these:

Work- The full-time job will happen, if it’s meant to, by the end of February.  Otherwise, I will show up at every charter school in Prescott and Chino Valley, give them each a copy of my sub certificate, focus on building my Essential Oils business (which I’ll do, anyway) and sock money away.

Service- I am with the Red Cross as a volunteer, regardless.  American Legion? My continuing there, past May, will depend on the political climate.  Right now, it looks iffy.  Prescott Family Shelter is on my volunteer radar screen, also, unless I get full-time work.

Recreation and Travel- Colorado, next weekend, is my most immediate focus- for a  Winter Summit.  Texas, the Gulf Coast and central Florida follow, from Feb. 6-17.  My MIL has a birthday during that time, in Leesburg.  Weekend hikes will be many, from mid-February until late May:  Continuing down the Black Canyon, McDowell Mountains’ Pemberton Trail(Scottsdale), Spur Cross Ranch (Cave Creek),Kendrick Peak (west of Flagstaff), Tucson’s Sahuaro National Park-West Unit, a few more places in Sedona and the rest of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park’s trails.  Then, there are the hikes I will no doubt take, on the spur of the moment.

Faith- Baha’i, like random acts of service, makes up the built-in cabinets and shelving of my Life House.  My growth, and that of the community, will continue in tandem with all of the above.

These may seem like trifling challenges, and they are.  Then again, I’m autistic.  Everything is a challenge.

The Road to 65, Day 21: White Horses, Black Hearts

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December 19, 2014, Prescott-  Much has been said, all over the place lately, about the Congressional Report on Torture, and about the North Korean reaction to “The Interview”, a Sony feature film about…. North Korea.  As is often the case on social media, people are bickering, squawking, yelling at each other, breaking out flame throwers, and just about anything else that can be done to silence those of opposing viewpoints, on both matters- as well as such arresting topics as “What should Celebrity X have named her new baby?”

I have dear friends on both sides of each issue, and some who are on both sides, depending on which cactus patch into which they stumbled, in the dark, on the way to the theater.  My own take on each subject, seriously, is as follows:

IS (Islamic State), is the acronym which I will use to identify the current group of flaming imbeciles who are now practicing to be members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. ( I have a young friend named Isis, and I feel badly for her having to sit through her high school Channel One sessions).  Anyone who beheads, rapes, dismembers or otherwise deprives another human being of his/her God-given rights, purely on ideological grounds, does not deserve to take part in the life of society.  No Prophet of God ever said otherwise, although there are some who believe that They did.  I believe that the death penalty should apply in severe cases, such as mass murder, beheading, child rape and armed attacks on schools.  This penalty should be imposed by the State, not by individuals, and is the State’s bounden duty.

In the meantime, however, torture by individual agents of government is a false means to security.  Here’s why:  Many of those tortured over the past ten or twelve years have snidely provided false information.  Most recently, a bogus tip given the U.S. Government about American and South African hostages in Yemen resulted in the slayings of those hostages.  The tip was a result of torture.  We live in a dangerous world, yes, but lowering ourselves to methods used by Torquemada and Himmler will not prove reliable, over time.

“The Interview” is an inane movie.  I don’t care in the least for the policies and behaviours of the North Korean elite, but the likelihood of regime change through assassination is relatively small.  Nonetheless, our Constitution says that people have the right to express themselves freely.  So, despite the ridiculous content of the film, people, in this country, should be able to watch “The Interview”, if they so choose.  I hope it at least goes straight to video.  Either way, I will ignore it, but I will defend to the death YOUR right to pay it ,some mind.  After all, no one from Texas hacked the studio that produced the film about killing Dubya.