May 9, 2016

  • Maternal

    May 8, 2016, Prescott- Talking with my mother today, I learned she has a new smart phone- which I called her new “hobby”.  It’s great for her, at a certain age, to take up technology.  She wants to study every facet of it, slowly- so as not to get bollixed up. It was raining in the Boston area, as it was here, and was about the same temperature.  Everyone back there seems to be on an even keel, which I hope continues as long as possible.

    She thanked me for thinking of her.  I can’t imagine a time when I would not do so.  Mom gave the best of her life for the five of us, for over 40 years .(There was fourteen years’ difference between my youngest brother, now deceased, and me.)  Helping her, when we can, is more than poetic justice.  She remarked that she knows of some mothers, whose children have not spoken to them in years.  What a terrible thing to have happen!  I am something of a loner, but I can’t imagine not keeping in regular touch with my family members- especially my mother, my son and siblings.

    I wish for peace to be made, between those who are at odds with their parents, or their children.  There is no greater heartache, I would imagine, short of losing them to death.  Family is the bedrock of any society.  Happy Mother’s Day to all women who have nurtured a child to adulthood!

May 7, 2016

  • Nature's Terror

    May 7. 2016, Prescott- Today is a rare kick-back day.  I did saunter down to our Saturday market, which is now back in my neighbourhood, until October.  The fresh produce will go into a Spring soup, once I pick up some organic meat at Trader Joe's.  I also met some of the market's other regulars, from last year.  It's a lot more relaxed around here, than it was then.

    Thinking of taking a short hike, I encountered rain that was serious enough to send me back inside.  Studying maps and reading took up the time, instead.  I have an inkling to go down to Prescott Valley, this evening, and join a group of friends who are attending a spiritual rock concert.

    Our little Drum Circle thumped and chanted, last night, for, among other things, relief for Fort McMurray, Alberta.  It is a city of about 85,000 people, now mostly evacuated, due to the worst forest fire in North America, since our own Indian Fire, of 2002.  The fact that people were evacuated northward, then they ran out of food, is especially frightening.  Now, they have to somehow be brought out of harm's way, and there was no safe route, as of this morning.  With all the tar sands nearby, the place may be extra incendiary.

    I know that Canada, as a nation, is up to the horrific challenge- and as a North American, I will offer any support that the people request.  This is why we do best not to quibble about the inconsequential.

  • A Few Tenets

    May 6, 2016, Phoenix-  This one comes a day late, mostly because I was at three different places today, and had to think about sleeping, instead of writing.  So my time-traveling mind pretends it’s still Friday.

    Anyway, I got another clean bill of health, this noon.  Someone who loves me very much has reminded me about keeping my skin moisturized.  The things we overlook are going to be noticed by those who want to keep us around.  (No, I’m not in a relationship.  My minder loves her husband, more than she does anyone else.  He is in excellent hands. I am just honoured to be an elder brother-figure.)

    This evening, I was being hectored by a conspiracy theorist, for not taking the chemtrails hoo-ha very seriously.  The whole thing made me think about my own tenets of living.  Here goes:

    1.  Think for yourself.  A mind is a terrible thing to let slumber.
    2.  Listen to those around you, but as Christ said: “Be alert to discern”.
    3.  All segments of society, and all parts of a community, state or nation, deserve to have a say in how the place is governed.
    4. The Internet, Google, Yahoo!, and YouTube are not necessarily sources of Truth.
    5. SnapChat, though, is true, even when one doesn’t want it to be- and it’s indelible.
    6.  A person could hike a different trail, in Arizona alone, every day for 20 years, and cover maybe 25% of all the trails in the state.  I’ll  enjoy the ones I do hike.
    7. Money is a tool.  Tools don’t belong in the hands of fools. (This is one lesson I learned, very well, a while back,)
    8.  This is as good a year as any to stay out of partisan politics.
    9.  I like getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.
    10.  When it rains, read.


May 4, 2016

  • In Utmost Isolation

    April 30, 2016, Black Canyon-  This is a few days late getting to print, but here is what happened today. I started out in mid-morning, stopping in for breakfast at Flour Stone Bakery, a lovely little spot in the old mining town of Mayer, some 30 miles southeast of Prescott.  It has authentic challah, and finely baked rye and other loaves of bread.  I am inclined to stop here on future forays along Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, which I started walking, in segments, about 15 months ago- just north of Mayer.

    Here is Flour Stone Bakery, inside and out.

    Flour Stone Bakery, Mayer, AZ
    Flour Stone Bakery, Mayer

    It seemed that the entirety of western Yavapai County, from Prescott to Mayer, was hopping, with one form of mass entertainment or another- Bicycle Marathon, Antique Car Show and, here, just plain Antique Shows.

    I needed to get back into the wilderness, though, at least for several hours.  So, on to Black Canyon it was.

    The segment I hiked today extended from Black Canyon City’s trailhead to Cottonwood Gulch, about 6 miles one way.  It is roughly 3/8 of the Black Canyon-Table Mesa Road section of this amazing high desert system.  In a nutshell, that means I have hiked a bit more than half of the entire trail (44 of 81 miles), over the past 15 months. Manageable segments work well for me, in this regard.

    Here are a few scenes from along the trail, which alternates between hugging the Agua Fria and exploring the rugged hills and mesas, west of the river.


    Here is a view of Horseshoe Bend, about two miles south west of the trailhead.  A family was enjoying the water of Agua Fria, at this serene spot. They were among the few people I encountered this afternoon.  Six bicyclists, here and there, rounded out the “companionship”.  Mostly, though, it was the desert and me, alone.  Plants, though, were quite prolific.


    Flowering barrel cactus, Black Canyon


    Emerging cholla, in basalt field


    Mr. Sandstone

    He didn’t bring me a dream, but his presence was oddly reassuring, in the quiet of the afternoon.


    Hilltop bench, Cheapshot Mine region

    I chose this little redoubt, atop Cheapshot Hill, to rest and write a bit in my journal. After a brief interlude here, I kept on going to Cottonwood Gulch, just shy of an intriguing Thumb Butte-like mesa, whose name escapes me.  I will check that one out on my next segment hike, from Table Mesa Road, probably next Fall.  Here is where I chose to turn around.


    This bush reminded me a bit of mimosa, though I know it is something different- just don’t know its name.  It looks like four-winged salt bush, but the flowers resemble those of  salt cedar.


    Desert lily, Cottonwood Gulch

    Well, those last two gave me a reason to pick up a wildflower book, this afternoon.

    This trail was certainly the most isolated I’ve experienced since Seven Falls, northeast of Tucson, and it was every bit as satisfying a challenge- 12 miles in a day.

    .Upon returning to community life, a poetry reading and a lively jazz-funk concert rounded out this last day of April.


    Heart-shaped Prickly Pear colony


May 2, 2016

  • May's Agenda

    May 1, 2016, Prescott-  Yes, I shall certainly backtrack and tell of my ten-mile round trip in Black Canyon, yesterday.  I will do so tomorrow, or Tuesday.  Today, though, bear me with me, as May unfolds itself.

    I certainly had a good start to the month of amazement- enjoying a breakfast at Zeke’s, where I sat at the counter, surrounded by the constant motion and banter of beautiful women who were working hard, very hard, as I enjoyed my Chorizo Scramble, with sourdough toast and coffee.  Zeke’s is always packed in the morning, on Sunday, particularly.

    Then, it was off to Montezuma Well, about fifty minutes from here, for a brief meeting with Baha’i friends who were gathered for sacred readings, followed by a picnic lunch.  I ate enough to be polite, of course, but the real reason for my being there was to connect with those who have taken up residence in Keams Canyon, where we once lived.  There is an in-gathering, of sorts, taking place.  I am again connected with some of my former students, now adults with their own families- gladly telling me of their ups and downs. I will go back up there on May 20-21, and join in a devotional meeting.

    Back in Prescott, shortly after 2, I was able to attend most of our own community’s Twelfth Day of Ridvan observance, again with sacred readings, commemorating the departure of Baha’u’llah and His entourage from Baghdad, onward to Constantinople (Istanbul).

    This month will find me largely at Prescott High School, with four days at Mingus Springs. Travel means a day in Phoenix, for a wellness check; the aforementioned jaunt up to Keams Canyon- and Holbrook; and at the end of the month, a drive up to Reno, to help an old friend move from there to Carson City.

    Reading-wise, I continue with “All The Light They Cannot See”, “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”and begin “Moral Tribes”, by Joshua Greene, which explores the concept of Us and Them, as well as “Gravel Ghosts”, a recent anthology of poetry by Megan Merchant, about which, more tomorrow.  Those will be my May reads.

    Well, work will be beckoning soon, so time to get to sleep.  Merry May, all.


April 28, 2016

  • In Honour Of.....

    April 28, 2016, Prescott- I took today off from work, as we Baha’is are so advised, on Holy Days such as this- the Ninth Day of the Ridvan Festival; the Day when, 163 years ago, Baha’u’llah revealed His Station to family and closest associates, while preparing to follow lawful orders and proceed overland, from Baghdad to Constantinople (Istanbul).  Their departure would begin in earnest, three days later.

    We will gather as a community and celebrate the Anniversary, 1 1/2 hours from now, with sacred readings, contemplation and a fine meal.  Baha’u’llah and His entourage, by contrast, frequently had scant food and drink- especially when on the dusty path, northward from Iraq and across Anatolia.  The Messengers of God always take on suffering, if only to show us that it can be overcome, in the end.

    Ours is not a Faith of asceticism, nor is it favourable towards  over-indulgence.  We do well, He says, to share good fortune, and not lose heart, in times of scarcity.  The former is largely the result of dispassionate hard work. The latter is a reminder that this is a life meant for character building, which can best be achieved in the face of trials.  So, at least, is my understanding of it all.

    He came to bring unity to mankind- and gave us a blueprint, slowly being understood, and accepted, by more people.  It must, however, be done willingly by each individual.  The days of forced conversion are being seen for what they were, and will not be repeated.


  • Timeless

    April 27, 2016, Prescott-

    One of my students wrote a mini-movie script, this morning.

    The depth of his thoughts spewed forth, without warning.

    As with many of his generation, the focus was on geologic change.

    Earthquakes, of late, have seemed to increase in range.

    He wrote of the Big One, and how it would affect Hoover Dam,

    sending cascading water, down the Colorado, and into the Bill Williams.

    Our town would bear a bit of overflow, perhaps,

    but his first thought was that his sanity might snap.

    His rescuers appeared, though, in the personages of all the girls,

    who, his adolescent mind has determined, rock his world.

    Change is timeless, and so is sameness.

April 26, 2016

  • Growing

    April 25, 2016, Chino Valley -

    Heading out, for unexpected work,

    I determine I'll not shirk.

    The types of math that are on the agenda,

    Used to be headaches, never ending.

    Time and tide have made them comprehensible,

    So my explanations to the people are more dependable.

    Self-confidence is thus transferable,

    and knowledge, in turn, becomes more durable.

    (My long-term post at Prescott High School was closed today,

    therefore I went up to Chino Valley, to help there, for the day.)


April 25, 2016

  • Prescott Circle Trail, Segment 2: Thumb Butte Road to Iron Springs

    April 24, 2016, Prescott- Today was another picture perfect day, with less wind than yesterday.  Thus, it was the right time to hike the 8-mile round trip, from one iconic landmark (Thumb Butte) to the near approaches of another(Granite Mountain).

    Actually, I reversed the order, as Iron Springs’ parking lot is spacious and well off-road.  I was met by a couple who were on a short bicycle ride.  They went as far as the Fireplace Ruin, a distance of 1.8 miles.  That segment of trail follows an abandoned rail bed, the route of which once connected the mining camps of Iron Springs with downtown Prescott.  With those camps long closed, the route evolved into a Rails-to-Trails path.  There are several fine views, to the east, from the trail.

    Javelina Trail, looking towards the Bradshaw Mountains, Prescott
    View of Pine Lakes and Kingswood subdivisions, from Javelina Trail, Prescott

    The left photo shows the Bradshaw Mountains, while the right-hand view is of two adjoining subdivisions, to the east. Below left, is a view of Badger Peak, five miles to the southeast.

    View of Badger Peak, from Javelina Trail, Prescott.
    Cut-away sandstone, Javelina Trail, Prescott
    View of regrowth, in area affected by Doce Fire, Prescott

    The above right scene shows some of the rock that was cut away, to push the rail bed through.  Below it, new growth has helped in recovery from the Indian Fire, of 2002, but the area was hit again, in 2013, by the Doce Fire.

    The dryness of our region concerns me, and we are doing all possible to avoid another serious fire season. This section of trail seemed drier than the last two, with sandy soil along much of the route.


    This pump house is situated to help, in the event of another fire.

    Another 1/4 mile ahead, the ruins of an old mining cabin attest to the ravages of fire.  The only thing left standing is the fireplace!


    Fireplace Ruin, Javelina Trail, Prescott

    Granite boulders signal the turn-off from the abandoned rail bed, and Javelina Trail heads around a couple of small foothills of the Sierra Prieta.


    Granite boulder field, Javelina Trail

    Willow Creek’s South Fork is the only running water along the trail, and it was not running today.


    South Fork, Willow Creek


    Looking vaguely like a moai head.

    This boulder reminded me,obliquely, of a moai, from Easter Island.

    Once I hiked over and above the drainage area of Willow Creek, Thumb Butte could be seen to the southeast.


    Northwestern view of Thumb Butte.

    Arizona woodpeckers are active here, as elsewhere along Prescott Circle Trail. As I learned last summer, in the Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA, these birds share nests with a variety of other creatures.


    Arizona Woodpecker nests, Javelina Trail

    So I have explored another segment of our area’s comprehensive trail system.  One segment remains- the area between Iron Springs and Williamson Valley Road, a distance of 5 miles each way.  I will see whether the effects of the 2013 Doce Fire are as telling there, as they are, in patches, here.

April 23, 2016

  • Contradictions, and Such

    April 23, 2016, Prescott-   I didn’t write about Earth Day, yesterday, because I was exhausted, and besides, every day is Earth Day.   Yes, I know, focus days are important; but still…..

    We did an environmental activity today, at Bellemont Baha’i School, west of Flagstaff.  I raked up about 75 pounds of pine needles, to create a safety zone around the campus’s buildings.  On the way back, I came across an anti-environmental activity:  A traffic jam, on a state highway, caused by a water truck driver who was “prepping for a construction project”- at 4 PM on Saturday.

    Many people are concerned about fake “transgender” pedophiles, sneaking in women’s restrooms, behind real transgenders, so they can have at little girls.  I remember the creeper in Primm, NV, who just walked right in, behind a 9-year-old girl- and killed her, with no pretense as to what he was.  There is no substitute for a parent going into the rest room, with a child.

    I have my fair share of contradictions, over these past 65 years.  Safe to say, none of them has included injuring another human being.  I am working on those contradictions, though, as most of the people in my life are working on theirs.  Those who knew me when could tell you a few stories, and that’s okay.  It is what we learn from our mistakesand what we do differently, going forward, that matter most.

    I was pleased to meet the new husband of one of my woman friends, who told me, time and again, of her simple dream to be a good man’s wife.  Things clicked for them, at Christmas time, and the match is an excellent one. I wish the same for my other single friends- both male and female.  I know, firsthand, that there is nothing like having a good mate.

    So, here it is, a month into Spring, and let’s just see how long it takes, before Phoenix and Palm Springs hit 100, and before Colorado goes a week without snow.

    Finally, from one budding antique, here is the real deal.

    Ford sedan, circa 1920
    Ford sedan, circa 1920