Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXVI: Days of Earnestness

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November 22-26, 2017, across Arizona-

I cannot not serve others, even on holiday.  I am hard-wired to look for how best to relieve another’s pain and ennui, while finally having learned, thanks to my blessed departed wife, how to involve the other person in the solution to that suffering and ennui.

It comes to me, as to where I should go, on a given day, and who I should visit.  On Wednesday, with no prior schedule, I went out to Superior, to see my friends at Sun Flour Market.  I learned that my friend, whom I felt as if I’ve known forever, had left, to pursue other ventures.  I learned that my friend, who owns the enterprise, is facing a great personal challenge and that my unexpected visit, along with those of a few other friends, was most comforting.  No journey is ever wasted.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was spent with my best friend and several of her family members.  It’s always a blessing to be with this woman, and my favourite holiday was no exception.  One of the other men carved the turkey, but I got the best job- trimming all the meat off the carcass, after dinner.  That, to me, has always been the most satisfying task- guaranteeing that there is plenty of meat for many a meal to come.

Friday morning, I went down to Phoenix, and visited a long-time friend who is entering the vacation rental business.  Here is a photo of the house in question.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

If interested in a Phoenix getaway, check this one out: https://evolvevacationrental.com/387677.

After looking over the house and yard, I headed up to Cave Creek, lunch at Local Jonny’s and a couple of hours of hiking at Spur Cross Ranch Preserve.  I will have more to say, and show, about this lovely expanse, in a few posts from now, but here are a couple of scenes of Spur Cross Trail and its offshoots.

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Above is an oasis, built along Cottonwood Wash.

This is A’s stone ruin, which he built with his mom and grandma.

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Here is a Huhugam mano and metate, from the 11th Century.

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Spur Cross will see me again, soon.

Saturday morning found me up early and headed out the door by 6:30. A stop fro breakfast at Verde Cafe, Camp Verde, got me well-set for the rest of the drive to Native American Baha’i Institute, at Burntwater, on the Navajo Nation.  The occasion was the Light of Unity Art and Music Festival.  I bought a few things, and took several photos, mostly in low light.  The power was in the music and in the accompanying dance.  Here are a few scenes of the power that radiated outward.  Diversio,  The Treasure Crew and the venerable Benally family laid down that power.

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There is unstoppable power in unity.  I haven’t been up to visit the Dineh as often as I might.  My role is increasingly cast in Prescott and vicinity, but as another friend remarked, this afternoon, distance to a friend’s house is ever small.  I will support these great efforts as best I can.

Sunday, I happened over to my best friend’s sister’s house, and ordered a Christmas gift, as she is a rep for a nationally-known cosmetics firm.  This took a couple of hours, well-spent, discussing a variety of subjects, around the display table.

Now, it’s back to work and a satisfying routine.  When I wake up, I will be 67, and a whole new set of expectations come with that seemingly artificial renewal.

 

Bountiful

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November 23, 2017, Prescott-

The day set aside

for giving thanks

as family,

has not failed me,

for a good many years.

All my married life,

we had blessed meals,

with a couple of minor mishaps,

here and there,

which never quite

detracted from the

overall amazing meals,

which we prepared.

about two-thirds

of the time.

The years of widowhood,

have sometimes seen me

the guest of our Navy,

enjoying copious amounts

of well-prepared food,

or my being somewhat

a guide to the splendours

of Julian Cafe.

This year, my son

is in Korea.

I am here,

and most fortunate

to have a fine chef

as a very special friend.

Her daughter is following

closely,

in those culinary

footsteps.

What my friend does,

she does with love in her heart.

So, it went

that one of the most bountiful

days of the year,

was once again blessed.

 

Always Welcome

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November 27, 2016, Banning- I am fortunate to find many places, to which I can return, no matter how long it’s been since I have stopped by.  One such is Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in this small, but pleasant city along I-10, east of Riverside.  The decor reminds me of both my Godmother’s kitchen, when I was a child, and various places in which I’ve stopped in the Midwest, over the years.  The owners and waitresses always seem to remember me, from previous visits and the place just feels like home.

My son’s place, in Chula Vista feels likewise, it goes without saying.  It will be strange to go to San Diego, after February, and not have him there to visit.  He will be doing other tasks, in his next duty station, though, and I will continue to feel pride in his achievements.  We had a quiet, but comfortable, visit, over Thanksgiving and will have a few days together, here and there, between now and the time he heads out.

I got back, easily, to Prescott, and it will be a busy, fruitful month ahead- with work for both the Prescott schools and my Faith occupying a great deal of time.  Needless to say, there are plenty of places here, where I likewise always feel welcome.  At the end of this week, for example, the town’s Christmas tree will be lit and all of us in attendance will feel an abundance of welcome, from one another.

As I will write tomorrow, I personally will welcome another year to my chronology:  66. Hope all are rested from a joyful Thanksgiving!

 

No Black Thursday

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November 24, 2016, Julian, CA-  This little town, northeast of San Diego, has been our Thanksgiving hub, for three of the last four years.  Only in 2014 were we diverted to Aram’s ship, for what was an estimable meal, in its own right.  Otherwise, Julian Cafe has been an irresistible venue- for one of the best traditional Thanksgiving meals this side of the Appalachians.

Julian appeals to Aram, because it reminds him of Prescott and Flagstaff.  The oak forests that surround the town, and the Laguna Mountains, to its southeast, are of immense comfort to one who was born , and spent his first years, in a forested landscape.

It appeals to me, as all mountain towns do, because Saugus ( my home town), and so many towns in New England, are similarly entwined with rugged landscapes and a wealth of historical nuggets.  Julian’s history is inextricably linked to the California Gold Rush.  Southern California had several spots which, while not as noteworthy as the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, nontheless contributed to Gold Fever.

What appeals to neither of us is Black Thursday, as some have taken to calling the afternoon and evening of Thanksgiving Day.  There may be some LIMITED need for some people to pick up groceries, in the morning, as I did on behalf of Aram and his housemates, around 8:30 this morning, at the local Ralph’s store.  I can’t see either of us shopping for deals on Thanksgiving, ever.  I understand some want that to be their Thanksgiving tradition, but I stay with family remaining focused on non-commercial pursuits.

We had another awesome meal, with his two housemates along.  This will be the last time, though, for at least three years, as he heads across the Pacific, in a few months’ time.  That made it an especially treasured repast.

 

Unwitting Problem Solver

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November 22, 2016, Prescott-  

We had a two-day work week and, as ever, many children were wound-up, in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Some were excited because of a good time ahead.  Others were agitated, because of the harrowing conditions, or sheer boredom, that await them for five days.

A little guy who just wanted to play, while waiting for his bus to completely load, led us to ponder the safety issues that would ensue, were he to just be left to his own devices, during the wait for a student who is released later than our class.

The answer was obvious, and our students’ time in the classroom will be increased, starting Monday.   Since they are more comfortable in the classroom than they are sitting at the bus dock, I anticipate a decline in the agitation and ennui that have been surfacing, in ways that only unsettled children can express.

This leads me to again draw the conclusion that listening, even to the most seemingly counter-intuitive ideas, can bring a surprisingly simple solution.  The boy in question will be praised as a big helper, when school resumes on Monday.

Wider and Deeper

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November 20, 2016, Prescott-   So much water has gone over the dam, these past few weeks.  I am glad things are slowing down, for the upcoming 3-5 day holiday.  I say this, as I have no intention of partaking in either Black Friday or Thanksgiving Day shopping.  I used to gag at the thought of the latter, until a friend on the East Coast said it was her family’s way of relaxing.  Still and all, to each their own.

I am getting close to the end of being 65.  More about that, over the weekend.  Another digression, in the way of summarizing:  I finished reading “Moral Tribes” and re-reading “To Kill A Mockingbird”, about two weeks ago.  Now, my literary focus is on “The Brothers Karamazov”, my first foray into the world of Dostoevsky, and a re-reading of “The Celestine Prophecies”, as well as my Baha’i studies.

It’s raining here, for a day or two.  I hear Massachusetts is getting snow.  We are bound to have strange swings in weather patterns, over the next 10-30 years, whether people believe in climate change or not.  If the President-elect is indeed in denial about such things, he’s lucky to have his private residence in a penthouse. Change tends to happen, whether one expects it or not.

Back to business: My focus right now is on dignity- a God-given right of every sentient being, especially of every human being.  Year ago, that mold was set for me, one evening in VietNam.  A hard-nosed, traditionalist Army sergeant happened by where I was sitting, one calm evening.  I was an unabashed progressive, back then, so our conversation (which was completely civil) focused on how each of us saw things differently- AND neither of us was hurting the other, by our view of things.  We got along very well after that.

I have drifted away from politics, since then, though fairness and acceptance of different points of view, instilled into me by my father, remain the driving forces in my dealings with others.  I can’t imagine my life, if one person, or group of human beings, doesn’t matter, equally as much as the next. Everyone I encounter needs to be treated with respect.

Throughout my life, I have spent time with different people, or visited different communities, rather than staying put in a small group. This will continue, working around the constraints of a full-time job, over the next five years. While I also like having a home base, reaching out to others is nonetheless still my wheelhouse, as those in business like to say, these days.

The circle has been wider, for some time now.  The objective now is to make it deeper.

Harvest Day

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October 10, 2016, Chula Vista-

All Canada offers thanks,

for a successful harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

is a true celebration

of the farmers’ fruition.

It has ever been a rejoinder

to the Columbus Day tradition.

First Nations people, across the nation

would gather to honour the Holy People

and the Creator,

for all that was given them

to stave off deprivation.

The Europeans across the north,

tried to snuff out many traditions,

in the name of “civilization”.

What they meant by “civilized’ were things like

private property, walls, fences and speaking

one of two European languages.

Harvest, and sharing, made the cut, though.

Love is one thing, no one can long disparage.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

 

Festivals

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May 13, 2016, Prescott- Yesterday was a very tightly-packed day.  Work was routine, at the small school where I spent one last, pre-arranged day,punctuated only by a snafu involving our paychecks.  This was nicely counterbalanced by a timely check from another district, where I spent another “final” day, late last month.

Dashing hither and yon, after work, I voted in an American Legion election, facilitated a Baha’i study session and finally settled in for the evening, at 7:30 P.M.  Someone remarked to me, earlier in the evening, that perhaps those with hyper-busy schedules are covering up something.  Maybe, but in my case,  there is more of a sense of responsibility.  Trust me, I do like my unwind-time, and am comfortable in my own skin.

Now, I am back at Prescott High School, for the last ten days of the academic year, with a very strong possibility of returning in the Fall.  It’s Spring Festival time, so a school end-of-year assembly was held this morning, and Carnival is now being held, somewhere on campus.  I am with a few of my kids who just need a place to sit and feel safe.  That’s always been my wont- in too many places in the world, there are marginalized people.  In any high school, most find a niche.  Some end up in niche like mine, a good-sized, comfortable classroom, with a few computers, three round tables and an air of “you matter”.

Festivals, like surfable waves, hiking trails and 5 P.M., are always to be found, somewhere in the world.  Most are modest affairs, appealing only to locals. Yet,  each of them makes a big difference in the lives of several people.  So, great and small, they sustain us.  I have felt sustenance from many festivals, from the annual Ridvan gatherings, Thanksgiving Dinners and the camaraderie of St. Patrick’s, Fourth of July and Hallowe’en to the  every-so-many-years that I might make it to Mardi Gras, Chusok or Diwali.

Mostly, though, it’s what you make of every single day, that constitutes a festival.

The Road to 65, Mile 363: Thankfulness and Grace

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November 26, 2015, San Diego-  Every so often, the American Thanksgiving conflates with other occasions of import.  In 2013, for example, Thanksgiving and my 63rd birthday occurred on the same day. 😀

On other years, such as this one, we Baha’is observe the Day of the Covenant, along with Thanksgiving.  The former is a celebration of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and His immediate successor as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  It is so named because ‘Abdu’l-Baha stressed loyalty and obedience to the written Will and Testament of His Father, a document entitled Kitab-i-Ahd, or Book of the Covenant, over loyalty and obedience to a given human being.  This aspect of our Faith has proven its worth, time and again.

Mirza Abbas Effendi-e- Nuri was born on May 23, 1844.  As he was coming into the world, His Father’s Herald, al-Bab, was proclaiming His own Message to humanity:  It was coming time for all mankind to unite, and He was to prepare the human race for One Who would show the way that this could be done.  Abbas Effendi was given the title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Servant of Light), when He was nine years old, and was the first to recognize His Father’s station, as the Messenger of God for this day and age.

‘Abdu’l-Baha forbade celebrations of His birthday on May 23, but reluctantly agreed to observances that celebrated His life, while focusing on the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, the promulgation of which was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s prmary focus, during His twenty-nine years as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  Thus, each November 26 has been dedicated to that purpose.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for having been guided to this spiritual path, and to the perfect example set by ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  His are larger shoes than any of us can hope to fill, but it is worth the effort, for the sake of developing and strengthening our virtues.  They guided me to my marriage, to the birth and raising of our son, in whose company I celebrated another marvelous Day of Thanks and to the various friends and places of joy which I have been fortunate to meet and see, over the past thirty-four years.

 

 

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.