Introverts, Extroverts and In-Betweeners


Monday, 30 January 2012

  • I was born an extrovert- the kid who would march up and down on the sidelines of a parade, gladly run the woods with my fellow pre-school pals and take my grandparents on a guided tour of our new neighbourhood, when I was four-and-a-half.

    When my Dad started working nights, I began to withdraw into my books and .45 records.  Then I had a couple of head injuries from rock fights, acorn showers and such, and autism, however mild, set in.  I had a fantasy world and it met my perceived needs.  I went through school okay, and pulled myself together enough so that, by the time I was in high school, I was ambiverted- an In-Betweener, a mascot for the jocks and the self-appointed elite, and was always invited and included in the best gatherings and parties.

    This didn’t work so well when I was in the Army.  I did my job by day, and basically had no social life stateside, and a mildly sustaining one in VietNam, once I kicked MaryJane to the curb and hung out with 3-4 guys who were emotionally strong and accepting of differences.

    Back in school, after Honourable Discharge, I found more people to hang out with, both at community college and at university.  My angst and alcohol dependence didn’t help, but I worked around them, still the ambivert.

    Once out of school, I went it alone while working in Maine for two years, and was just happy to travel broadly around Maine and New Brunswick, hardly knowing anyone at my workplace, though getting attached to the people with whom I lived- the Robinson family and Mrs. Knox.

    It was likewise at the small boarding school in the desert south of Phoenix, where I was from’78-80, and at NAU in Flagstaff, ’80-’81.  I was close to the kids at Villa Oasis, and to the Art Teacher.  Others were either just a blur, or were overgrown bullies and had no importance to me. Grad school gave me two good sets of housemates, after I rid myself of the not-so-good.  It was, though, another stretch of introversion.

    Penny brought me back to In-Betweener status.  We were happy just being together, yet being in large groups was fun again, for the first time since high school.  Through all that’s transpired over thirty years, I’m still there in Ambivert Land, though, oddly, living in a gated community surrounded by hermits and other introverts.

    I mention all this because of TIME’s article on the subject in this week’s issue.  I took the quiz, and found myself being outgoing on 13 points and insular on 7.  Maybe that’s why I go stir crazy when shortness of cash keeps me close to home, and feel happier when I can go downtown, or to the trails or other public places.  I feel energized in schools, parks  and markets.

    How do you rate yourself on the intro-extro scale, with 1 being hermetically insular and 20 being ecstatically outgoing?  I am a 13.

Vaqueros and Sourdoughs


Monday, 30 January 2012

  • The Desert Caballeros Western Museum, on the back side of downtown Wickenburg, commemorates cowhands and miners alike.  Gold and copper got this town started, just around the time Arizona was getting its land legs as a territory.  Historical memorabilia of the Hassayampa Valley, combined with the fine Western art of Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Olaf Wieghorst, George Phippen, George Catlin, Kenneth Freeman, and a dozen other painters and sculptors, make for a fascinating afternoon in this medium-sized town at the northwestern edge of the metro Phoenix area.

    Here are some scenes of the main museum. First, let’s see how the early ranch families lived.




    Yep, Mom and apple pie were big then, too.


    The bunkhouse seems to have had a nice view.  Hope no Gila monsters had a habit of being peepin’ Toms!

    Anyone recognize these brands?

    Now, let’s go visit the General Store.


    The Wally Worlds of their time kept everything under lock and key.

    Mrs. Elizabeth Hudson Smith was one of several African-Americans who came to the new Arizona Territory.  She prospered nicely as proprietress of the Hotel Vernetta, until statehood, in 1912, brought lots of Easterners, and Jim Crow.


    The hotel bar thrived, with the cowpokes and miners not caring whether a person was white, black or green.

    Wickenburg has several bronze sculptures around its downtown.

    It also has several homey restaurants.

    I will head down here again next month, to have a look at Wickenburg’s third anchor:  Vulture Peak and its gold mine.

Wickenburg’s “Waters Hidden Underground”


The Hassayampa River (Assiampa, in Apache, for “waters hidden underground”) mostly lives up to its name.  It rises in the Sierra Prieta Range, on the west side of Phoenix, and flows downhill to the area occupied by the small ranching and mining town of Wickenburg, about an hour northwest of Phoenix.  The town, in turn, is named for Henry Wickenburg, an entrepreneur in rail and mining, in the Arizona of the late 19th/early 20th Centuries.

I went down there yesterday, to visit two of the area’s three defining places:  The Hassayampa Riparian Preserve and Desert Caballeros Museum.  This post shows some scenes of the preserve, which is manged by The Nature Conservancy.  Most of the land is flat, save a small outcropping, called Lyle’s Lookout.

Here are some scenes of Palm Lake Loop Trail.


Note the “beard” or dead frondage, on the palm.


Palm Lake used to be pumped and cleaned up.  Now it is left alone.

The Conservancy prefers to keep its holdings in their natural state.

The midsection of the Preserve is mostly dry.

As one gets towards Lyle’s Lookout, however, the Hassayampa emerges from underground.

The Lookout itself affords a fine view of surrounding mountains.

The approach to Lyle’s Lookout.



Narrow Streets and Cobblestones


Virtually every town on the coast of New England has its share of heartwarming scenery and historical buildings, conjuring up images of maidens in full dresses and head bonnets, and men in black jackets, pants and wide brimmed hats.

Here is a town I visited on the morning of August 30, 2011.

Actually, the cobblestones have pretty much disappeared from Marblehead, which is a shame.  The streets, though, will NEVER be wider than what it takes for drivers to be ladies and gentlemen with each other, and with bicyclists.  I had to make a choice this time, for financial and time reasons, between going to Marblehead or going to Salem.  I chose Marblehead, because it is compact and because understanding this little town does not involve going to museums, and it can be appreciated fully in a span of one hour.  Salem requires at least a day.

Marblehead is a major sailing venue, and among other claims to fame, it was the home of Elbridge Gerry, who gave us gerrymandering of congressional districts.  This may not be something of which modern Marbleheaders would boast, but Bay Staters tend to gravitate towards positions of influence.

The immediately preceding photos are of Marblehead Neck

Now for some old style New England clapboard houses, some of which were originally built in the eighteenth century, during Marblehead’s clipper ship heyday.  

The Three Cod Inn is the site of an act of Revolutionary War bravery.  An eighteen-year-old man fought off several British soldiers, using items of furniture at his disposal, whilst less brave onlookers cheered him.

To the left is Marblehead’s central marina.  A Great Race was held there yearly when I was in my late teens and early twenties.  I didn’t learn to sail until much later, but it was always a great time to gather and carouse.   New England’s coast is blessed with towns like this, and I am lucky to be enjoying them.

Long Past “Dirty Water”


This is a chronicle of a visit to Boston and Cambridge, MA, on August 31, 2011.

In the late 1960’s, a Boston funk-rock group called The Standells did a medley of their hit.  It was called “Dirty Water” and has become a staple of Boston rock history.  It centers around the Charles River, which runs through Boston, and separates the Hub of the Universe from neighbouring Cambridge.  The song alludes to the stench of the Charles River in those days.

A series of mayors in both cities took steps to remove that onus, and today, the Charles is a perfectly enjoyable venue for sculling, and for walking along its banks.

I spent yesterday walking from Harvard Square to the John Hynes Convention Center, just north of  Boston’s Chinatown.  Much of that walk was along the east and south banks of the Charles.

In 1958, an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) student named Oliver Smoot devised a way to measure the width of the Charles, using his outstretched body as the unit of measure.  So, Ollie, the first known planker, lent his surname to the unit of measure.  It is agreed that the Charles, at the Harvard Bridge (above, right), measures some 83 smoots in width.

Before crossing the Harvard Bridge, I walked off on a tangent, north to Cambridge’s Central Square.  The “town” aspect of Town and Gown Cambridge had not been the subject of my perusal up to now.  Every city and town have their story, though, so I walked north, past some intriguing edifices.  Question:  Would you paint your house in such eye-catching fashion?

Next up, I spotted a small pub called “River Gods Food and Spirits”.

After a half-mile or so, came Central Square, a hearteningly cosmopolitan area.  South Asian and Middle Eastern shops and eateries vie with Irish establishments (Asgard is the best known of these) and Caribbean restaurants.

I then walked back along Massachusetts Avenue, and came to Kendall Square, and MIT, a half-mile further.

MIT is a perfect counterpoint to Harvard:  The future, and technology, balancing the Arts, Letters and Divinity, and tradition.

Yet, everything intertwines.  Harvard has its world-class Medical School, and is fully involved with the Sciences.  MIT is concerned with climate change, and all the politics that go with that concern.  Both Harvard Square and Kendall Square are lively gathering places, with world-class entertainment venues and eateries.  In the middle of it all remains workaday Central Square, alive and aware.

The Heat, the Light and the First Pawtuckets


I posted this last summer, while visiting my hometown.  This is the first of two more reposts from my cross-country visits of that time.

After resting up, following my eye exam this morning(Sept. 1, 2011), I decided to walk down to an old childhood favourite:  The Saugus Ironworks.

Many high school students learn in their US History classes that this simple colonial foundry was the birthplace of the American iron and steel industry.  There is a bit more to the story than that.  This place was inhabited by the Pawtucket people (aka Penacook), for several thousand years. The location itself was called Pawtucket.  The hills just to the northwest of the Saugus River were called Tontoquon.  These were the focus of settled activity by the Pawtucket Nation.

  When the Puritans, led by John Winthrop, settled Boston in 1621, they were looking for a place in which to produce iron locally.  At first, they tried the hamlet of Braintree, 16 miles south of Boston, but found it meager as a foundry venue.  An engineer named John Leader came from England, explored the lands of the Pawtuckets, and found a spot on the Saugus River.  He named the place Hammersmith, and began the iron-making operation.  Scottish indentured servants were brought in to do the non-farming labour that was loathed by the Puritans.  The Scots were a rowdy, but hard-working bunch and made a good effort at producing quality iron.  Leader and his Board of Directors were not sound businessmen, however, and the business failed after less than 20 years.

In the 1940’s and 50’s, archaeologists and housing developers found remnants of the colonial-era operation.  Sixty years later, the ironworks is restored, so that we may give the early efforts at self-reliance the attention they deserve.

Here are some close-ups of the forge, the rolling  and slitting mill, the blacksmith shop and the river that helped it all happen.

  The Scottish iron workers, and their descendants, carried the ironworking tradition to other parts of the country.  One such new ironworking locale became Pawtucket, RI, in honor of the ironworkers’ first hosts.  Saugus, the name that the Pawtuckets gave to the river, eventually became the name of the town in which the Ironworks is preserved.

I learned a lot of this, and more, at the Saugus Public Library, when I visited it on an average of 3 days a week from the time I was ten until I graduated high school.

These are two of my passions:  Exploring and learning.

HIGHLIGHT: Walking along the river of my youth.

Book Your Passage Soon


Leonid Ksonfomaliti, a Russian astronomer, has stated that his analysis of photos taken by an exploratory vehicle on the planet Venus indicates that some objects seen in the photos are possibly living things.  Dr. K says he spotted three objects- a disc, a black flap and a scorpion, which appear to move and shift position independently, in a photo of a Venusian surface.

He suggests “boldly” looking upon these as evidence of life on the second rock from the Sun.  Who will be the entrepreneur who will build a rocket to Venus, and check it out?

The Exterior of Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott, AZ


This is reposted from Xanga

  • I spent the afternoon of December 21, 2011 at Prescott’s  Sharlot Hall Historical Museum. Ms.Hall was a true frontierswoman, who doubled as a historian for Prescott and western Yavapai County.  Her work, and that of her successors, is enshrined in the museum complex that bears her name.  Sharlot Hall, (1870-1943) was a native of Kansas, arriving in Arizona Territory in 1882, and working alongside her mother at their homestead in Mayer, as well as occasionally joining her father and uncle in what were then the manly duties of ranching and panning for gold.  The Halls were among those working the hydraulic operation at Lynx Creek, in what is today Prescott Valley (see “Fain Park” post and album).

    Here are some of the photos I took around the outside of the complex.

    Sharlot Hall’s personal testimony

    This is an iron turbine windmill, used at the Lynx Creek Hydraulic Mining operation.

    Prescott’s first school house, built in 1864.  It was only open 3-5 months of the year, back then.

    This house was used to accommodate the attorneys who worked at the Yavapai County Courthouse.  It was nicknamed Fort Misery by the judge who lived there, in comparison to the nearby Governor’s Mansion.

    This is an herb garden, in spring and summer.

    Here is a ranch house, similar to the Hall family’s second home, at Orchard Ranch, near Dewey.

    Here’s a close-up of the log exterior of the Governor’s Mansion.

    Much of the year, this plot is filled with roses.


    A couple of memorials to pioneers.  Cloetta was a frontierswoman, like Sharlot.  Pauline was actually a man, and a rather tough one, at that.


    You guessed it, this was the Governor’s Mansion- at one time, accommodating three families.

    This was the house of John C. Fremont, of California Gold Rush fame, when he was Governor of Arizona Territory (1878-1882).                                                                                                                                   

    Gazebos were popular in the Gilded Age, as community gathering places.  I still think they’re pretty neat.

    The Transportation Museum, shown above, contains various vehicles used in Arizona from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

San Clemente’s Casa Romantica


    There is a very striking Scandinavian presence in southern California, and not just in Danish-themed Solvang.  Ole Hanson, also of Danish descent, was the founder of San Clemente. Mr. Hanson built a clifftop residence, Casa Romantica, in 1927, and partnered with the builders of what became Richard Nixon’s Western White House (Casa Pacifica, now a private residence).  I have two albums on Casa Romantica- one featuring the exquisite gardens which surround it, and the other, featuring the interior of the home and the ocean views which inspired its location.

    Here are some selections from those albums.

    From start to finish, Casa Romantica is about gardens, fragrance, romance- and weddings.

    The Frog Fountain greets visitors, charming us with its Italianate tiles.

    The holiday season, and its arboreal majesty, were still much in evidence on Dec. 29, 2011.


    This being southern California, though, the palm tree was essential to any ambiance.

    What attracted Mr. Olson in the first place was the glorious Pacific Ocean.  San Clemente’s harbor and pier are as fine as any in this part of California.



    The staff and benefactors of Casa Romantica were as varied as California itself.


    Mr. Olson was a dedicated father, and entertained his children with such as this toy train and track.
  • The aura of a northern Christmas was transplanted here, in the person of Grandfather Frost.
  • There you have it.  18 reasons to visit Casa Romantica- each speaking for itself.


A Personal Homage

  •  (Reposted from Xanga)

    I stopped for about an hour on 12/29/11, at Inglewood Community Cemetery, just west of Los Angeles, to pay respects to the first American member of the Baha’i Faith.  He was  Thornton Chase (1847-1912).  After an upbringing in the Baptist Church, and some dabbling in the teachings of the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, Mr. Chase encountered the Baha’i Faith, while living in Chicago in the 1890’s.  He became the first American Baha’i, in 1895, and confirmed his faith further, by visiting ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the Holy Land, in 1899.

    Mr. Chase moved to Los Angeles in 1909, a move orchestrated by his employer, so as to diminish his involvement in Baha’i.  It only resulted in his being more involved, as he traveled the West Coast for business, and spent time with Baha’is in the Bay Area and in Seattle, in the course of his professional duties.  His funeral in early October, 1912 was attended by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and nearly a hundred other Baha’is.

    His grave site is elegantly marked:


    The inscription at the top of his tombstone is in Arabic, and translates in English as “God is the Most Glorious”.