New Civilization News: Blue Mesa    
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picture12 Mar 2006 @ 21:22, by John Ashbaugh

Notes on the road
from a drivearound.

Monday afternoon, third day out. Letter to the tree across the gully. Saturday drive to Will and Raeanna’s. Will’s mother Kitty stops by in the evening and stays for a corned beef dinner. Abigail is almost two months old and Jackson is almost two years old. Breakfast is grits and a couple of eggs on top, and it’s off to the road by one for the drive to Rock Hound state park, which is not very inviting; so I continue on down to Poncho Villa state park, which is rather urbanized, but there is a cozy little section for tents and the botanical cactus garden layout is intriguing. Fellow in a van nearby tells me to go on down to the border in the morning, and walk over and visit the Pink Store in Las Palomas. Half moon descends through the night, and the constellations turn. Morning sun is bright through the clear horizon. Drive the three miles to the border, and find the free parking. Pass across the line into a third world country. One block, two blocks, past the Pink Store, three blocks, look right, a large square block open space and a church across that expanse, so I angle through the park, around the central gazebo, catching glances from some citizens along the way. Wait the longest time in the park across from the church while a trash truck and its crew slowly make their way from one trash can down the line to another. Get my pictures and visit the church. Then it’s back around the park in a slightly different direction, and on to the Pink Store, where the lady gives me a fresh cup of coffee from her restaurant and I browse and buy a plaster Aztec calendar. Maria Lopez, younger teenager, catches me halfway across the street at the last intersection, and convinces me to donate a dollar to her charitable cause. Return across the line and back to the road to Hachita where there is a church, a ruin, and a rest stop to photograph. Then on to Portal, Arizona and the Coronado national forest and my long sought for isolated campsite. All sound returns to the source. Sunlight and hazy clouds take their turns this afternoon.
Morning in the grove at the Patagonia Lake state park. After sleeping through the rainy morning at the Big Gully campground yesterday morning, finally decide that hanging around in an empty tent in the rain is neither enlightening nor fun; pull the soggy thing down around noon and pack the mess out to the road to Portal and Rodeo; lots of really nice formations and terrain, the kind I’d like to spend some time walking through, like across the valley and around the tower in the view from Vista Point. Pictures along the stream at Big Gully, under the arching bough, and around it, leaving her untouched in her graceful dance over the tumbling waters. Grassland and hills and empty spaces on the road to Douglas. Stop for a Quik Stop gas and coffee; then on through Bisbee, a strikingly beautiful town to drive through, an old mining town still very much alive, with all kinds of old structures, kept up pretty, stacked into the sides of hills, like to put San Francisco in the shade. Then to Tombstone and a walk through the old west part of town along where the OK Corral is; gotta pay to get in and see it so I pass it by, but the old town boardwalk and dusty streets, and row upon row of old time storefronts is entertaining. One could spend the afternoon going in and out all of these places, including the saloon, but I’m a headin’ on down the road to Sonoita looking for a dry campground. Wind up down here at Patagonia Lake as the sun is settling into the horizon and find a perfect little grove to trees amidst which I raise the soggy lump of a tent into place so the breeze can dry her off. Shooting star through the cup of the Big Dipper, pouring a flash of light into the moonlit darkness.
From Patagonia down the quiet morning road to Nogales. Find the tourist info lady in her castle on a little hill, who tells me of the things there are to see in this very old city on the border with her sister city Nogales, Mexico. Here is a little city street map to help you get your bearings in this unfamiliar terrain. The old Sacred Heart church is large and elegant on its point of high ground, since perhaps the beginning of this city. Who knows? Circle the building, and its tall tower, and as I open the front door, a small group of grieving mourners, most notably an elderly woman in black holding her kerchief to her face, followed by several middle aged people, perhaps her children and their spouses. So I hold the door for them as they entered the daylight. No words. They just all go by, with a look of appreciation from a couple, and simple bewilderment on the part of others. Maybe half a dozen or eight or so, who’s counting? When I enter the church, there is no one else in there at all except for an old man sitting off to one side next to a pillar, and a young boy maybe eight or so, rather energetically going from pew to pew on one side of the church and the other with no apparent reason except restlessness, and the old man has to hush the boy still, and I enter a pew about halfway down the center aisle to kneel and say my prayer for All My Relations. Watch the children at the school playground at recess on the way back to the car. Drive down to within a block or so of the border where hawkers try to get me to park in their lot for so many dollars per hour or whatever. I decide I’ve had a good visit to Mexico at Las Palomas and I’ve got some driving to do today, and so it’s out to the road to Tucson, from where I head out north on 77 to Oracle and the highway that goes down and then up across the Salt River canyon. The endlessly multifarious forms of our Earth are always a wonder to behold. Up on the other side is the northward rise through the piney forest to Show Low. Snow’s a comin’ down. Haven’t seen snow blowing into my windshield like for real for a good stretch of road since at least last winter, and maybe since those Texas panhandle days. Come a long way from south Arizona today, and this here is a different kind of place, so I’ll be staying at the Motel 6 tonight. No reading on this trip, except maybe brochures I pick up along the way. Morning breakfast at JB’s buffet up the street on the other end of town, with the smile of the young friendly hostess to make my day so far. The sky is overcast and the road is to Concho where an old ruined adobe building grabs the attention of my pocket camera. Gives me a reason to stand outside from time to time along the road, and smell the air my wheels are driving through. Finally, it’s the south entrance to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert national park. Two big rock shops, one on each side of the road across from each other, just before the park entrance. Lots of places to go in this park, and it is very clear that the people who run this place are quite sensitive to removal of the slightest speck of a rock from the terrain by passers-by. Clearly, this is as it should be, for this place would soon be picked clean if everyone who passed through here took a piece home. The wind at the Crystal Forest is cold and fierce. The Blue Mesa and the one-mile trail down through the heart of the canyons where petrified wood is loosened from the mud through geological erosion is stunningly beautiful, in black and white, on an overcast day. No shadows. Only values. Then there’s the pueblo ruin and petroglyphs from eight hundred years ago. Then all of the various lookout points overlooking the vista of the Painted Desert. Which gets me up to the north entrance by getting on close to four, for the two hundred eight mile drive back along highway 40, through the evening sky through Gallup and Acoma to an eight o’clock return to my adobe abode.
Time to unravel, settle, and reflect. Time in the morning to drop off five rolls of film for developing, buy some eggs and bread and juice, buy a newspaper from Mona, and get a burrito from the ladies at Blake’s. Water the plants. Two loads of laundry. I’ve only been out of here for six days and five nights, covered 1270 miles, camped for three nights in a row, walked a few blocks through a small quiet town in a foreign country, where I was the stranger and the one who is different, got to know a few more places, small and large, intimate and grandiose, on the Earth, and added a little more cement to my friendships in Alamarosa. I slept and ate at Show Low, through cloudiness and cold, and found my way from place to place with thoughts for my friends, some of whom I will never see again, a some of whom I will. Soon enough, I will be returning to school. For today, the day after the journey which followed its own logic, I’m winding it all down very slowly.
*\.-_/*


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9 comments

19 Mar 2006 @ 05:15 by koravya : Archways
Monday evening. Hermeneutics is the word for the day, and M. C. Escher is the artist of the day. First day back to school. Wallick is in shortly after, around one, while I am getting my class rosters off the computer, and he wants to know something of the story of my drivearound. Really a very good vehicle for bringing the adventure in a faraway place into the present, the telling of it to an interested party, and I hand him a printed copy of the story to look at in his own time. Not too very long; just my little story, and this act of sharing it makes it all that more alive to the teller of the tale. So its around for a walk through the hallways of the offices, checking the mail up front, going around the corner, saying hi to Stacey in her open office, stopping in to admire the pictures on her wall, especially a picture inspired by Escher’s walls and stairways and pillars and archways that intertwine in impossible intricacy. This is an original composition by another artist, a painting filled with color. Stacey runs a search for this artist on the internet, and we find a long description of his painterly life, and the summary paragraph refers to the hermeneutic aspect of his work. So we have to clarify the meaning of that word and that discipline. And we try to recall the qualities of color that Escher sometimes employed. Then it’s on down the hall with a promise to get back to her with a sentence using “hermeneutics.” Tonight will be portfolio class. Peggy is back, good to see. Have a session with Judy over the opening chapter of this new accounting course together with a jump start into Excel. I’ll have tomorrow afternoon to look into this in more detail. Get it together with Dennis over the on-line course, and write up and publish my introductory statement for the students in this course, thirteen of ‘em this time. Eleven out of sixteen show up for tonight’s class, including, what a surprise, my three business ladies right in front. Looks like a great group here tonight, and I’d say we’re off on the right foot. Little things along the way, make the day a string of pearls.
*-_/*  



19 Mar 2006 @ 05:17 by koravya : Recollection
Saturday evening, March eighteenth, after an afternoon watching extended segments and various snippets of NCAA basketball tournament games, along with The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, with its marvelous scenery of Alaska, and story of a struggle for survival in the wilderness. Val comes down from upstairs maybe four or five times between late morning and middle afternoon to make a call with my phone to her boyfriend on the other side of town. Val is Native American and a year out of high school and is excited and happy that she’s been hired by Del Ray Taco up on Montgomery and will be starting Monday. With this job, she’ll be able to help her mother with the rent, and she’s planning on moving in with her boyfriend within a couple of months, so lots of good things are happening in her life, except she’s having a hard time getting it coordinated with her boyfriend today, until finally they get something figured out.
The first week of new classes has turned my patterns topsy-turvy, and I’ve got a whole new bunch of people and subjects to think about for the next eleven weeks, and the sun comes up in the north and sets in the south, and rises in the west and sets in the east, and rises to its zenith and sets into its nadir. The times of rising and setting are turned on their heads, and the things that are fixed are no longer fixed, and the shorelines have a different curve today. All of the Associate degree graduating classes, some fifty-five students, are working with me and the career services department to develop their resumes, portfolios, interviewing techniques, and job search strategies. Graduating classes always enjoy this course, very little pressure, no tests or quizzes, just things to be done, and they all know that these things need to be done, and this opportunity to do them through this course is welcome.
The accounting one course is going to be interesting. Two students, Matthew and Joyce, and they caught onto everything very well during our first meeting, so in a sense they’re going to be pushing me on to keep far enough ahead of them to always have something new for them. Given that my Economics and Finance degree is from 1968, and after it saw me through a role in the Peace Corps, was pretty well left behind, the call to recollection will be the teacher’s homework. Time to learn it all over again, and even though it was supposedly left behind all of those years ago, there was something in me that took that up and saw it through in the first place, and now I am revisiting that person. Went down to Office Max and got a couple of Columnar Pad journals for me and my students. All three of us are actually going to be learning a few things this quarter. Cloudy and mild outside. The city is a faraway place, right around the corner from tomorrow.
*\_-*  



19 Mar 2006 @ 15:16 by swan : I love that kind of road trip....
like a meditation
watching all the details
as the slowly roll
past the screen of your vision...

Life is that way...  



23 Mar 2006 @ 07:31 by koravya : Cygnus
Mineral Spring Creek gently seeps through Rock
Leaving swirled ribbons of calcified crystal.
City on a Mesa for hundreds and perhaps thousands,
Of years, overlooking the parched flatland
Where bones from passing herds settle in the dust.
Hummingbird hovers through a pueblo town.
Fingers through the healing sands
Of memory.
Everything that ever was is still here.
Calling ourselves forth.
Burn a candle through the night.
**\-_*  



23 Mar 2006 @ 12:49 by swan : Thank you,
wiping a memory tear
from my eye.  



24 Mar 2006 @ 05:27 by koravya : Canto del Cisne
Thursday evening, second week now into the new schedule. All of my courses are crammed into the middle of the week between Monday evening and Thursday morning, with Thursday afternoon easing off into a catch up and planning Friday afternoon. The portfolio class is generating articulations of career goals, and my two accounting students are smart and interested. Wednesday afternoon is like the long break, time enough to look for some other place to be for while, and I took to a quiet chair in a nearby branch of the public library, rather new and spacious and well visited. On the New Bookshelf is Mother Daughter Sister Bride, Rituals of Womanhood by Joanne B. Eicher and Lisa Ling, a National Geographic publication, copyright 2006. Simply to page through it, as one so often does with National Geographic publications, is a marvelous visual experience. I’ve sampled the text and brought it home and plan to read through it.
God grant all of we on this Earth who live for tomorrow the wisdom to recognize one another as brother and sister on the path. There is all this talk of death and destruction enveloping the Earth. That path is clearly visible. It is out there for everyone to see. There needs to be a vision, and indeed there is a vision in the eyes of billions of us for the kind of world we want outside of and beyond all of the blind hatred and fear that creates all of that death and destruction. We’re working on it and our weapon is Peace itself. Sounds strange to speak of Peace as a weapon. We are so enveloped in the war mentality, all the way to our preconceptualized Armageddon, that escape seems nigh almost impossible. How do you teach someone to control their anger when it starts getting out of hand in its effects on our brothers and sisters? Where does reason go? Where does reason come from? All in a day’s thought, staring at the ceiling in a quiet corner of the library.
*.-_-.*  



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