OverZoomed

6

December 10, 2020-

The spread of teleconferencing during this time of worldwide pestilence is probably the single most useful occurrence of the year . I can only hope it remains, especially as when I find myself away from Home Base, come late Spring onward, carrying on regular communication, via Zoom, YouTube or what have you, will be a much easier task.

There is, though, the matter of working out synchronicity. This evening, there were four events occurring simultaneously. Two were parties, one was a memorial gathering and the last was a worship service. I focused on the latter two, just barely greeting folks at the first of the parties, before it was time to leave.

We will, as with any other endeavour, need to work out etiquette and protocols of expectations for Zoom gatherings, lest feelings be hurt, unnecessarily. I know that, just because one is among many on a teleconference does not mean feathers won’t get ruffled by someone’s absence or abrupt departure.

So, I have worked out a set of priorities for my own Zooming- Offering condolences and memories will have to come first, then regular worship and devotionals, followed by special celebratory events and lastly, someone’s random informational offering-which ought, by definition, be recorded for later viewing.

In any case, may your Zooming be helpful and a source of connection.

Limekiln Trail, Section 3

2

December 8, 2020- At long last, I got myself on track and found the trailhead from which one may walk from the far western edge of Sedona to the northern edge of Cottonwood, a distance of five miles via Limekiln Trail. It was not a particularly chanllenging trail, though I felt the effects of being housebound and Zoom-bound, for much of the past eight months. A series of 30-minute workouts at Planet Fitness keep me in a modicum of shape, but it will take the rigours of the trail, even a fairly flat trail like the Deer Pass-Bill Grey segment, to get back into a semblance of “fighting trim”.

A rumour reached me that I was likely in the presence of a COVID-positive person, last week. It happens, though, that this individual was nowhere near the school, during the days I was working there, so once again, no worries. People are so worn down, so exaperated by the pandemic, that they will often take anything they hear, and run with it, whilst inwardly trembling. I ask one and all, to step back and breathe-We will beat this challenge, by adhering to common sense rules of hygiene, and ,more importantly, of wellness.

Now, back to the trail-

Here is the eastern end of the segment, at Deer Pass. A discerning eye might notice a human face or two, in the midst of the cairn .
In order to access the trail to the west, one must use this underpass, under Highway 89 A.

The handles to the gates, on this segment, are diagonal, and after wiggling the handle out, it is then necessary to either lift the gate up, or push it down, in order to secure it again.

Most of the trail is single track, like this, though some of the hike involved walking on US Forest Service roads.
One of the Forest Service roads that serve as connectors.
Igneous rock, deposited by volcanic eruptions, further afield, hundreds of thousands of years ago, make the long hike through the Sheepshead Mountain/Canyon sector, all the more fascinating.
This is the remnant of what was likely a miner’s camp, atop Sheepshead Mountain.
This is another marker of a miner’s camp, also long-abandoned.
Here is the top of Sheepshead Mountain’s west ridge. The summit, east of the trail, is fairly lush.
Sage brush has its own fall colours, which arrive on the scene when deciduous trees have long since turned a ghastly gray.
So, too, does Prickly Pear Cactus, especially at higher elevations, offer its fall colours.
Crossings of dry creekbeds and washes abound on this sector of the trail. There are Spring Creek, Sheepshead Creek-and Coffee Creek, which was also a favoured gathering place for miners, in the early Twentieth Century.

So, a long-standing itch in my saddle got scratched. I re-found the junction of Limekiln and Bill Grey Road, which had gotten lost in my mind, for several months.

Bill Grey Road, at its junction with Limekiln Trail.

The remaining sector of Limekiln runs from Deer Pass to Red Rock State Park, further in towards Sedona. It is a distance of seven miles, one way, so I would likely either start early in the morning or would camp overnight at Red Rock. Either way, it’s likely to wait for March or April, with a smidgen more daylight. There are a few other trails in our area that await, and which present shorter distances, out and back.

Neptune Direct

4

November 28, 2020, Plano-

Seventy, as I expected, feels no different than sixty, or sixty-five. The day passed with a variety of activities: Joining a global Zoom gathering, hosted by a longtime friend from Phoenix; picking up another pair of dress casual shoes; munching on burger and fries for lunch and a delectable Pho (Vietnamese soup) and spring rolls for dinner; and exploring parts of Grapevine, TX (photos tomorrow), where Aram and Yunhee will live, come the end of January.

It has been a time of both taking stock of how things have changed, as I mentioned yesterday, and of projecting ahead. I have a sense of what I hope to accomplish in 2021 and beyond. Right now, I am focusing mostly on December, and being there for any children and youth who need me, between now and the Christmas/New Year’s Break. I had planned on taking three days off, to mark the fortieth anniversary of Penny and I having met. That would have taken me to a couple of places in New Mexico that are associated with our first encounter.

New Mexico, though, remains closed to people from most states, including Arizona and there are relatively few substitutes working with my employer, so I will be making myself available from December 1-18, straight through. With any interstate road trip over the holidays looking increasingly ludicrous, I will have plenty of time to check out places in other parts of Arizona, as well as relax with friends, during the Break.

Planet Neptune ends its retrograde, relative to Earth, tomorrow. This sort of event exhausts a lot of people, but generally focuses my attention more sharply and lets me sleep more deeply through the night. That will make it a lot easier both to give my attention where it is needed and to plan realistically for the weeks and months ahead.

Limits

6

November 20, 2020-

I cut off all contact with an online magazine today, after about four months of reading sometimes disingenuous articles and abiding others that are perilously naive in their pronouncements.

Over these many years, some have told me that I have the patience of Job. This is largely true, when I am dealing with children or teenagers, and see that they are not hiding behind cunning or willful deceit. Some people just need what seems like forever to make changes. I know that it was true of me, so to penalize another soul for what I did wrong, seems worse than callow.

This was a day of turning aside from those who persist in deflecting attention from the legal maneuvers being conducted, relative to a recent election, by pointing to supposed crimes committed by someone who can barely get out of his own way. It was a day of leaving an online session which was degenerating into pointless argument. It was a day of me telling myself that I am going to limit my presence on Zoom still further, with only my promised hosted sessions, and a handful of others, keeping me tied to the chair, laptop and neck pillow. One could easily become a permanent resident of The Chair and Screen.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I have no time for the trivial and nitpicky-and even less use for those who are still harping about Barack Obama-or Ronald Reagan, for that matter. There are huge issues to be faced, which can ONLY be faced, and resolved, by a unified front. One would think that COVID-19 would have made that very clear, but no-it may take a whole lot more to bring the bickering fringes to a place of sensibility. When that happens, I’ll be hard at work on solutions-just give me a call, or even a Ping.

As for my critics, I have taken advice, from friend and foe alike, about cybersecurity-adding several passwords, facial recognition and two-step verification. I have some more work to do, in that regard. I am not, however, going to devote any attention to self-absorbed narcissists, nor do I care one iota about what Rudy Giuliani thinks that Hunter Biden did. Both are dysfunctional people, in need of help.

Keep the eyes front and center, people.

Adding New Skills

2

November 10, 2020-

As I returned from work, this afternoon, my friend, the Mourning Dove, landed briefly on the gravel of our driveway. Usually, her greeting me is an indicator of good news. So it was this time, as I received written confirmation of a change in my monthly deposit from the Feds.

Workwise, I was asked to preside over a pair of online classes, this afternoon, having completed two in-person sessions in the morning. Being math and science, I had to pay close attention, ahead of time, to the material. It was not difficult, but these are “whiz kids” and it turned out they already had mastered the material.

What I had not mastered was the setting up of Breakout Groups, so everyone ended up in the same group, with little to discuss. This will be a matter for Zoom Tutorial, over the next couple of days, as I am quite sure today will not be the last time that I need to oversee such a class format, between now and Christmas.

In the end, my young friends were glad that someone was there to run them through the session, even if it was review material. There are a number of avenues of learning that can branch off from the lessons, yet I leave that to their very competent regular instructor, who returns next week.

I dreamt last night that a former hard taskmaster managed to teach me how to secure caps on bottles of cola, using plastic ties. I can pretty much guarantee this will not happen in real life. What I got out of it, though, was that I can, and will, acquire new skills, over the next several months and years. I won’t be working for wages, all that much, after next month, yet life itself needs us to stay sharp and focused. As I write this, the image of one of my uncles, whose cognitive skills were sharp during his working years, but faded in retirement, is cautioning just such a regimen of regular mental exercise.

Life is certainly a sweet cornucopia.

The Summer of the Rising Tides,Day 27: Grass Stains

2

June 27, 2020-

Today was largely spent in a Zoom conference, concluding Unity Week, an 8-day conference, in which I only obliquely participated, largely through addressing topics that need to be faced, if true unity is to be achieved. The closing sessions, therefore, caught my undivided attention, addressing the Four Roads one must traverse, in reaching a point where contributions to society will be meaningful.

More about these Four Roads (or Vias), in the next several days. This evening, my mind went back to simpler times. I walked downtown, after the conference had reached its closing remarks and extended farewells. The aim was to sit up on the roof of Raven Cafe, and catch the salsa and funk that was emanating from the rooftop’s makeshift stage.

Wouldn’t you know it? There was an hour’s wait, for any spot on the roof. I’d already eaten dinner at home, anyway, and so went up the street to Frozen Frannie’s, and grabbed a refreshing cup of goodness, then headed further, over to the Courthouse steps, enjoying pina colada and berry frozen yogurt. A group of children buzzed around me, alternately sliding down the short incline, tussling, and engaging in a game of hide and seek. It’s always reassuring to see that, COVID or no COVID, life is going on, and parents are taking their families to places where fresh air and exercise are not monitored by draconian elements.

After enjoying my frozen treat, a seat in front of a tree beckoned, closer to the Bluegrass band that was occupying a festival stage. Sitting on the lawn, taking in a bona fide North American art form, was a perfect ending to the evening. Another group of kids was dancing up a storm, twirling around, as the band played the songs of Bill Monroe and John Prine, among others. When it was time to get up off my haunches, I noticed something was missing from my childhood: Grass stains. Lawns sure have changed, in 60 years.

Thirty Days In

2

March 29, 2020-

I began serious application of Coronavirus Disease 19 response planning, on Leap Day, February 29.  In the past thirty days, these have happened:

Work stopped, on March 6, at 3 p.m.  Part of that was Spring Break, but my employer stopped assigning people on March 11.  I got some pay, this past Friday.

I said “see you soon” to friends who have since closed their businesses, moved away from college dorms, stopped playing gigs in local clubs and are generally sequestered.

Prayed, incessantly.

Learned a  lot about navigating Zoom and opened an account with that medium.  Hosted my first meeting on it, today.

Have been catching up with reading, journaling and, yes, Netflix.

Have made plans for “journeys in place”-studying various topics.

Kept in touch with people across the planet, to see how things are going.

Have done take-out orders, just so some support is going their way.  Same with food boxes  from the Farmers Market and groceries for a pop-up food bank at the Toyota dealership.

It’s standard stuff, and part of being a member of society.  Would do it all over again, no questions asked.

Brighter days are ahead.

 

 

 

Again, The Rising

5

March 19, 2020- 

I crossed a personal watershed this evening, with the quiet conclusion of my last obligatory 19- Day Fast.  Spring and Autumn have taken their places, in North and South, respectively.  The Persian, and by extension, Baha’i, holiday of Naw-Ruz began at sunset and I will joyfully observe the occasion, tomorrow, in a way not yet determined.  I will not have to get up at 5 a.m., but may anyway, just to greet the New Year properly.  Yes, Naw-Ruz is Persian for another trip around the Sun.

I have joined a social group called Earth Rising, and sat in on a Zoom call, for the first time, doing a guided meditation along with dozens of others.  I was asked, by the moderator, what led me to this choice.  It goes back to my childhood.  I have felt a sense of unity with everyone, and with all Creation, since I was three.  That hasn’t always been easily understood by those around me, but it’s easier these days.

People, regardless of their political beliefs or personal Faith, tend to at least see some aspects of a Bigger Picture.  There are limits, though, to what each of us can understand. There are several in Earth Rising, to whom my grasp of the reality of the Universe seems sophomoric and pedestrian.  There are many others, whose understanding is limited to their immediate present, who see an extended view as living in a dream world.  I wish only for a bridge between the two.

There will be a revitalization, after COVID-19, which will likely incorporate a much greater sense of the Oneness of Humanity, a concept that figures prominently in Baha’i teachings and in the modern day focus of thinkers from traditions as old as Hindu to the newest of New Age.  It will be, again, mankind’s Rising.