Old Town, but Not Cold Town

1

December 10, 2018, Alexandria, VA-

In the years in which I was stationed at Fort Myer, VA and  in the several visits I’ve made to the Washington area, since then, I had not been in Old Town Alexandria.  The place was just enough off the beaten path that we always made to the National Mall, that I just never got over here.

The Metro has changed things and Alexandria took its rightful place on my itinerary, all the more so because our family dinner, the night before my mother-in-law’s interment, was held at The Warehouse, a fine dining establishment, in lower Old Town.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This would be one of the best meals I’ve had, in a long time, and that’s saying  a lot, in a year of fabulous repasts. Yet, let;s get back to the start of this visit.

I took a Blue Line train to Alexandria’s Union Station, just after noon.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Being a bit hungry, and with dinner nearly five hours away, I stopped in at this simple, but charming, little cafe, across from the train station.  As good as the coffee was, I relished the gyro sandwich, as well.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Old Town, especially on King Street, has a variety of shops with interesting names:  Hard Times Cafe, Stage Door Deli, and this- a unique place, which was closed-it being Monday.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is an eastward view of King Street. The air was cold, but the vibe in Old Town is uniformly warm.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Even a broken bench was inviting.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I spent about ninety minutes enjoying the scenes along the Potomac Riverfront, one of the key ingredients in the Alexandria Story.  This town was one of the first great shipbuilding and sail rigging manufacturing cities in the U.S., and continued in that role, right up through World War I.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In Waterfront Park, the lone statue is that of a shipwright.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Oystering is Alexandria’s other claim to fame, and Potomac River oysters are proudly served, both on and off the half-shell.  These pilings are left from an old oystering wharf.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I could not resist zooming in on the U. S. Capitol, nearly six miles away to the north.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Animals make do with the weather they’re given.  Here, a duck is grooming its mate, in the bracing Potomac waters.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Jones Point, named for an indentured servant of the Eighteenth Century, is Alexandria’s largest wilderness park, and the southernmost point of Old Town.  It is the site of numerous archaeological digs, a couple of left-over border markers. From 1801-1847, the City of Alexandria was part of the District of Columbia.  A retrocession was passed by Congress in 1846 and took effect the following year, returning Alexandria to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  During the Civil War, however, the city was occupied by Union forces, thus temporarily reversing the retrocession.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This house was occupied by the keeper of a lighthouse, at Jones Point, in the nineteenth century.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

On the walk back into Old Town, I noted the area’s awakening Christmas spirit.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The last forty-five minutes before dinner were mostly spent in Torpedo Factory, which is actually Alexandria’s fascinating three-story arts haven.  More than fifty individual galleries are housed here, as are studios to encourage children’s art.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The bear reminded me to stop by the small, but heartfelt, Old Town Books, and look for a children’s book-for my ten- month-old grandniece, who was at the dinner. I found a flip book on horses, which she found most interesting, both to sight and to touch, a good early sign!

The superb dinner ended a day, the likes of which “Bunny” always approved.

 

,

 

 

Notes from The Peaceful Sky

6

December 9, 2018, Arlington, VA-

So often, a plane flight is viewed as an unpleasant nuisance-especially with the small seats, misplaced luggage and human drama that are so highly touted in the travel media.

My flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was taken in a middle seat, but it was in between two quiet, pleasant gentlemen, who were busy with their own affairs.  In front of us was a woman whose husband was diagonally behind me.  I was glad to be the relay person, a couple of times during the flight, as she handed him what he needed.  Next to her was another couple, mid-40’s, attractive and probably fairly recently connected-they had the air of  teenagers about them, in a charming way.  I am not a stickler about PDA, within reason; it’s what people do when they are attracted to one another.

Hartsfield- Note to myself:  Don’t go for the pizza, next time.  It’s been a long time since the staple food had a bland taste. I’ve been spoiled, I guess, by the pizza of the East Coast, Chicago and across Arizona.

I kind of like getting smiling eyes and mouths from attractive ladies, even when the chance of anything further is nil.

Whilst waiting to show my boarding pass to the agent, I watched a young girl, about 11-12, tell her mother that they should go right to the agent, with their passes, as their section had already boarded. Mother insisted they go to the back of the line.  A kind gentleman, whose turn was next, intervened and convinced the mother that it was okay to go on to the check stand.  Score one for a child’s dignity.

The flight to Reagan National was again a sardine can, with me between a quiet young man and lady, who also kept to themselves. Five rows in front of us, a couple had given their toddler her own seat, but graciously took her to lapland, when the last unseated passenger appeared.  A flight attendant delighted us all, post beverages, with her heartfelt and well-sung rendition of “The Christmas Song”.  The older girl I mentioned above, happened to be seated diagonally across from us.  The look of joy on her face, at this performance, was priceless.

We got in to Reagan National ten minutes early and my transit,from baggage claim to hotel, was bing, bang, boom.  Reagan’s taxi stand is supremely well-oiled; the captain matching travelers, efficiently, with Virginia, DC and Maryland cabbies.

I found Comfort Inn as expected- a teensy bit worn, but clean and warm, a bargain for the next three days.

Embraces

9

September 22, 2018, Prescott-

This is probably the latest I’ve been up, in many weeks.  Yet, spending much of the day reading friends’ posts reminds me to get something of my own out.

I was not much for physical contact, when I was a child.  Teenage brought a sense that girls were to be touched, but only if they themselves wanted.  I was all over the place, in my twenties, but still rarely gave an unwanted hug- and backed way off when the person was resistant.  Years of a good marriage largely erased the discomfort with physical contact that was so much a part of living with Asperger’s.

With Penny gone, my tendency has been more to hug, when a person seems to need or want a hug.  That also comes naturally, working with children- and I have never adopted the “no contact” dictum that was the overreaction of the Politically Correct, to incidents of molestation.  It was up to the child, whether a hug was in order, and up to me, the adult, to honour reasonable rules of decorum- above all, that physical contact be in the presence of other adults, and that I never be alone with a child, with the door closed.

This is pretty much how it is between adults as well.  I have no significant other, yet have plenty of fine friends, of, as I have said several times, of all sorts.  What I embrace, above all, is the notion of dignity and worth, to be given all whose paths I cross.

The 2018 Road, Day 38: Memphis, Part 2- Martin and The Mountain Top

12

July 2, 2018, Memphis-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

From the time I was a nine-year-old, trying my best to vicariously understand why Black people were struggling for the same rights my parents seemed to have, I have been fascinated by people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer.  Rosa Parks and her story came a bit later to my consciousness, when I was in high school, and the works of Langston Hughes were part of our tenth grade English curriculum.

The murders of Emmett Till, the children in the Birmingham church bombing, the Civil Rights workers in both Alabama and Mississippi, Medgar Evers- all hit me hard.  I remember my Dad being pissed about the assassination of Malcolm X- “He was just starting to be reasonable”. It struck me that maybe that dialogue with White America was what got Malcolm killed; that maybe the powers that be don’t want the common folk to get along.  His death turned me from Goldwater youth to angry leftist radical.  The common denominator, for both alt-Right and Far Left seems to be the sense that the poor are just fodder-for those with money to burn.  1968 just added gasoline to my fire.

Time has made me recognize the complexity of the whole ball of wax.  I remain committed to a solid implementation of social justice, though, and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum brought me to my knees, in silent, shaking tears.

Martin Luther King, Jr, indeed made it to the mountain top. While his last physical gaze was at the eastern edge of downtown Memphis, his spiritual gaze saw the heights of recovery from a deeply-embedded misogyny, from a dalliance with classism and Marxism and from narrow focus on the cause of Black folk.  He spoke of, and was moving towards, leaving no one out:  Opposition to the Vietnam War was a part of his new credo, but so was the plight of hardscrabble farmers and miners in Appalachia and the Ozarks. Forging ties with La Raza Unida and Native American activists was a rising tide, but so was listening to the children of European immigrants who were living increasingly precarious lives, in poor urban neighbourhoods and rural slums, alike.

So, my morning was focused, in three museums in and around  Lorraine Motel.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This establishment had been one of a relative handful of inns, across the country, where African-Americans could stay in safety, whilst traveling.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the main hall, there are replicas of key episodes in the Civil Rights struggle. Below, is a depiction of Rosa Parks, taking her rightful place on a Montgomery bus.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This credo has been, to varying extents, followed by the greatest of those who have sought to bring about meaningful change.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Those kids were my age, or younger, and that this did not matter to the bombers will forever burn in my heart.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These two bedroom photos show the room occupied by  Dr. King (top) and by one of his top aides(bottom).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This museum, across the street from the Lorraine, features two floors that exhibit details and archives of the assassination and the investigation into James Earl Ray and his suspected associates.    The  killings of other key figures of the Civil Rights Era are also examined here.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My evolution, as a compassionate soul, is far from finished.  Being a “woke white man” is a worthy goal, but I still feel a bit drowsy.  This has nothing to do with my visiting places associated with the Confederacy or pondering conservative statements:  One must know what the “other side” thinks, and why, if there is to be a lasting peace in society, and in the world.

Lastly, before heading to the musically significant Beale Street, I stopped for a late lunch at one of Memphis’ oldest eateries.  The Arcade has been around since 1959.  The crew definitely made me feel at home, at the counter.  I’ll be back again.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Janus in July

6

July 30, 2018, Prescott-

I will return to the chronicles of my summer road trip, in a few hours. First, though, I want to note this month’s activities, closer to Home Base.  The three weeks following Independence Day were mostly relaxing, yet had their share of joyful activity.  We celebrated the birthday of  a generous and humble friend, in what was supposed to be a surprise.  Our efforts came as no surprise to her, but she was nonetheless delighted.

I learned that my left knee does not take kindly to being idle for long stretches on the road, at least while my carcass is undergoing chiropractic adjustment, between now and March.  There is some connection between the two, so with Fall coming, I will need to get in at least one vigourous walk per day.  That will give my knees the workout they seem to crave.  Planet Fitness and Deep Blue ointment are also helping.

I have, at long last, taken the time to pay a few visits to Firehouse Coffee and Black Dog Coffee Shop, virtually completing “discovery” of our town’s java joints.  Both are fine purveyors of brew, but Firehouse wins the cinnamon roll contest.  Black Dog focuses on scones.  The Saturday after I got back was my son’s 30th birthday.  After wishing him a great day, long-distance, I went to Game Night at Wild Iris-enjoying Uno and a dice game, with the regulars at this event.

This past weekend, though, was a special cap on this bountiful summer.  I did three days’ Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) service at Bellemont Baha’i School, west of Flagstaff.  All three days featured “gully washers”. Saturday had the added excitement of a heavy hail shower.

20180728_134324[1]

20180728_142703[1]

 

Even with a borrowed tent, and large tarpaulin, there was much to be done later, as I had to use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to siphon the small pond that had threatened to ensure no sleep that night.  As it was, I had a dry tent, by nightfall, and slept very well.

The service in question was on behalf of over 50 middle school-age children, from the Phoenix area. Many of them had not been out of the metro area, so being in the woods was a fabulous experience,  to say the least.

The camp was open for a half day, today, but I came back to Prescott, last night.  Three days of preparation and “welcome back” gatherings at Prescott High School will get another year of concerted effort at learning underway.  So, it’s ten months of joyfully getting up at 4:30, knowing that we will provide at least some stability and learning opportunities for eight young people who, rather like me at their age, cannot count on their own bodies to remain calm and focused, without assistance.

2018-19 will be a monumental academic year.

The 2018 Road, Day 4: Not So Lonely Highway

5

May 30, 2018, Salina, UT-

20180531_093348[1]

She was not happy that I left, before she got out of school.  I sent a message that I would try to return, weather-permitting, during the winter holidays.   There are souls who I have known forever and souls with whom I have found a bond, almost instantaneously, in this lifetime.  B is of the latter category.

Some could say it is tricky, for a man in late middle age and a child, especially a girl, to be thus bonded.  There is no skeevy factor, no EEEEWW.  I am here strictly to foster a very keen mind, to stoke dreams that will someday raise at least one person’s section of the world to a whole new level.  My friend J.R. Cline knows of what I speak.

I made the drive east, along U.S. Highway 50, whose Nevada portion is billed as “The Loneliest Highway in America.  It was too soon after breakfast to stop at Susie’s, so I went past Fallon.  Lake Lahontan also seemed to be at or near the same level as last year, so no stop there, either.  In the usual spot at the base of the mountain leading up to Pony Canyon, and Austin, there was another stranded vehicle, as was the case last year.  This time, the couple were headed west and had already called a tow truck.  I continued on, and enjoyed a simple, but satisfying burger and cup of soup at Toiyabe Cafe.

Through the Toiyabe, past Eureka, through Ely, I went.  Silver State Restaurant, which I patronized two years ago, has gone belly-up.  That’s a big hole, on Ely’s west side.  I wasn’t ready for dinner, though, and I was planning on enjoying my salad greens, anyway.

After briefly checking out the nearby town of McGill, I headed south and east.  That brought me here, to the veteran-owned Ranch Motel.

20180531_084520[1]

So, here will begin Day 5, and I will get at least as far as the Front Range, on the never-lonely I-70.

The 2018 Road, Days 2-3: Pre-conceived notions, Heart Pancakes and A Warrior Princess

7

May 27-28, 2018, Carson City- I got into Carson City, and a long-time friend’s house, around 10:15, on Sunday night.  I’ve been here, each year since 2012, on either Memorial Day or Independence Day. The members of Family S have been like biological family to me, for far longer-since the early 1990’s.

So, a stop up here has been a precursor to my summer time excursions, whether I’m headed northwestward or am eastbound.  I’ve known some family members since they were tweens and now am honoured by the presence of Princess B.  She will remain off-screen here, per my own policy when it comes to children, but B. is a highly intelligent and imaginative young lady and nobody will lay a hand on her, by my lights- or those of her grandmother, let alone on her parents’ watch.

Monday was spent in study of a Baha’i text that deals with consultation.  This is a practice that is sorely needed, not just in this country, but across the globe.  How many times have I found friends, even from other parts of the world, not opening their minds and hearts to other points of view?    The text I studied yesterday reminds us that no one person has all the answers, nor does any one group.  We watched a PBS documentary on the many aspects of warfare, after the study session.  Failure to view people outside one’s group, community or nation as human, or worthy of respect, has been the single greatest underlying cause of warfare, throughout history.  This is true, regardless of the cause of record.

All day today, Tuesday, I have thought of the world being left to B and her contemporaries, and to my grandchildren, yet unconceived, unborn.  She, her grandmother and I enjoyed a lovely Chinese buffet, shopped for things we needed at Target and Best Buy and came back for a “group project”, involving a streaming device and antennas.  Then, we enjoyed pancakes, including  two heart-shaped gems.

Those of you who have followed me , for the past several years, know that I have regularly come across heart-shaped items, both in natural and urban settings.  Here is a view of one heart-shaped pancake, before it was claimed by its rightful owner, our indomitable warrior princess.

20180529_171904[1]

 

This visit was way too short, we all agreed, before B left with her father.  Tomorrow, I may connect for a bit with another WP reader, not far from here, before heading across Nevada and Utah.  Hopefully, I will also connect with extended family in Colorado and friends along the eastward route.   The centerpiece of this trip, my youngest niece’s wedding, looms three short week from now.

The 2018 Road, Day 1: Prescott to Carson City

11

May 27, 2018, Carson City-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of my consistent stops, on this particular drive, is to check on the condition of Lake Mead,  a major reservoir of the Colorado River system.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As you can see, the lake’s level is rather low.  In a good year, the lake’s water level would be above the first shoreline ridge.  It’s been quite a while since the last good year.

I began my journey around 9:20 this morning, then drove to West Side Lilo’s, in Seligman, a town about 1  1/2 hours northwest of Prescott.  A Lilo’s breakfast is sufficient for the entire day, so I would need nothing but a bowl of salad, once I got to Carson City, 11 hours later.

I topped off with gas in Kingman, and after the brief welfare check of Lake Mead, zipped through Las Vegas, stopped at Amargosa Valley to pick up gifts at the Area 51 Alien Center, for a little girl up here, and stretched a bit.  The rest of the journey, through territory I have detailed in years passed, was very smooth, with little traffic.  Coffee at Beans & Brews, on the south edge of Tonopah, was my only reason to stop the rest of the way.  B & B is also a staple of my northwest-bound jaunts.

Four hours later, I found my way to this apartment that will be home for the next two days or so.  There are a growing number of places that afford me this kind of feeling, and to me, this is the true wealth, to have what feels like family, in each part of the country.

Ahead of me are a one-day intensive training session for a Baha’i course and quality time with the aforementioned child.

Maternal is Eternal

0

May 13, 2018, Prescott-

I made my call

and was reassured.

Mom stands tall

and is never ignored.

What of you,

my friends who are

also mothers?

I know you as

Diane, April, Christina,

Janet, Mel, Lisa,

Amberley.

Your kids,

your blessings,

call you Mom,

Mama, Madre,

Mother Dear.

You give the best of yourself,

without guilt or shame,

loving each and every child,

never casting blame,

or aspersions.

Love knows no diversions.

There will never be a time,

when you are not

treasured,

by one, two, three

for eternity.

Happy Mother’s Day,

and I love you all, too.

Observations on A Mid-April Morning

6

April 19, 2018, Prescott-

I appreciate the attention so many have paid to my reblog of the post on Bleach Enemas.  In what dimension anyone could think such a procedure is anywhere near good, I don’t know.  My blessed mother fought tooth and nail for our well-being, and would have clobbered anyone who even dared hint at something of this nature.  Dad loved us dearly, and would have had one thing to say to the suggestion of bleach enemas:  “Pig’s neck!” (His polite term for BS.)

Barbara Bush left a grand legacy of literacy promotion, continued by her daughter-in-law.  The gift of literacy is one key element, in the package of empowerment that loving people can offer to others.  Long may her legacy thrive!

Ridvan begins tomorrow evening, at sunset. It is the twelve day festival, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Proclamation of His Mission to the world and His departure from Baghdad, towards Constantinople (Istanbul), on horseback and on foot, in April and May, 1863.  My Lord lived a life of exile, imprisonment and torture, yet, like unto Christ, never once turned His back on humanity.

Chalk-It-Up is Prescott’s annual art fair, at which a wide variety of chalk art is available for public view and on which viewers may vote.  I will be insanely busy on Saturday, but Sunday will find me taking in the wonders of human imagination, in that temporary gallery.

Arizona’s educators are winding up a vote, as to whether to walk out, or not.  I’ve cast my vote and will keep my own counsel on the matter.  My first loyalty, in any event, is to the students.

Speaking of whom, several students at our school will be out on the front lawn, in a 17-minute vigil, tomorrow morning, honouring the memory of the Parkland shooting victims.  They will then return to their studies.

Have a blessed day, my friends.