Blessed Intentions

8

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.

 

Wakefulness

3

May 5, 2017Prescott-

I  am freshly returned from a visitation for one of Prescott’s genuine champions.The concept of waking, a seemingly odd term for remembering a departed soul, prior to burial or often, in these days, cremation, is perhaps in hopes that death is not a real thing.

I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but the life of Jayme Salazar (he pronounced his name alternately in English and in Spanish), came back before those listening to the eulogies.His childhood and adolescent antics, presented by his older sister, were reassuring to all, that a full life proceeded from that awkward time.  A lifelong friend of his recounted the man’s intense work ethic, combined with a genuine love of people, which established his Taco Don’s Restaurant as one of the city’s premier lunch venues, and a true gathering place.

He came came here from California, by way of Las Vegas, as so many of us have come here from farther afield.  Jayme found that the mountains, lakes, dells and grasslands of the area, but above all, the earthiness of the people, were a capturing force.  That he gave his life here, in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was the ultimate giving back.

Some six years ago, I saw my beloved wife go homeward, to the Light, in a more prolonged way, but not dissimilar period of service to the children and general citizenry of a western suburb of Phoenix.  Any home in which we ever lived together was open to countless people.  Any school in which she ever worked was the center of our married life, with work and love likewise moving in tandem.

So, I understood, fully, standing in the anteroom of the funeral home, this evening, that priceless spirit, that brings casual customers and acquaintances of a loving soul to a sense that here moved a lifelong friend; here lived a steadfast pillar.

To each one to whom I’ve bid farewell, these many years, let me close with the voice of Enya.

Jayme, Penny, Norm, Dad, Brian, Colonel Mortimer, Uncle George, Aunt Adeline, Margaret, Mike C. and so many standing beside you, in the Legions of Light, thank you, for having lit my way and for lighting the night.

Sixty for Sixty-Six, Part III: Kudos

4

January 15, 2017, Prescott- 

Last night, 22 of us paid homage to a man who worked, diligently, outside his area of expertise, for thirty-five years, bringing knowledge of human nature and psychological well-being, into the fast food industry.

Farouk “Frank” Assadi came to this country, from Iran, as part of a diaspora spawned by religious oppression.  He lived and worked in Iowa and California, before settling in Prescott, around 2000.  His Blimpie Sandwich and Salad Shop, part of a larger chain, was a central focus of meals for many, of all walks of life, for the sixteen years it was in existence.  Before that, he had run Orange Julius franchises and a Blimpie, in another community.  On December 31, Frank took down his food service shingle and will cast his net in another direction, after a period of semi-retired rest.

He’s 70, and thus serves as an inspiration for my own planned change of focus, in 2020.  We, who work for wages, eventually earn the right to follow our hearts into avocation.  For Frank, that will likely mean work in public health.  For me, that will likely mean itinerant acts of service, combined with photography and writing, much as I’m doing during off-work hours now.

My son is visiting the Prescott area, this weekend, combining time with me and a modicum of winter camping, this evening, in a nearby US Forest Service campsite, at White Spar, which I visited last year, in the course of hiking the Prescott Circle Trail, in a series of segments.

He has grown up to build a strong character, somewhat different social and political views from my own, but with the sense of loyalty and work ethic, which I instilled in him, early on.  I know he will continue to be a credit to the United States Navy, and to any other organization he may serve. In a few short weeks, Aram will head for the land of his birth, South Korea, and a new set of challenges and growth opportunities.  I will watch this, proudly, from the sidelines.

In a few days, our nation enters a new phase: Governance by a man whose life has been spent in the private sector.  I trust, though, that the American people will remain vigilant, and will call events as they see them.  I don’t think all that many people, especially in my circle of family and friends, have given the departing president much credit, partly due to his own detached demeanour and  partly due to his having come into office, with an unfamiliar face and name.  I do think, however,that he did a lot more for the country than we can even see at present.  Yet, it is also true that several bars need to be raised.  I will have more to say on these, in the next post.